Ecommerce is exploding. Driven by the forward march of technology (and aided in a big way by the pandemic), online shopping has become the rule, rather than the exception, and companies are pouring money into it. In fact, it’s estimated that up to $375 billion will be spent on online ads this year.
Ecommerce businesses are incredibly diverse. As a result, so are the marketing strategies that work for them. There are some common threads that run through successful ecommerce marketing strategies, though, and in this article, we’ll explore exactly what they are. We’ll also provide concrete examples you can implement in your ecommerce business today. Let’s get started!
Key Components of a Successful Ecommerce Marketing Strategy
Regardless of the specific strategies you end up employing for your business, there are a few basic components that any successful marketing plan should contain. These include content and email marketing, personalization of marketing materials, and timing communications effectively. Let’s explore each in a little more detail.
#1. Content. Content is king — even for ecommerce brands. Effective content marketing strategies for ecommerce might include influencer outreach, explainer videos on YouTube or other platforms, or blog posts detailing interesting uses for your products (even better if they come from actual customers). The content should be customer-driven, not product-driven. In other words, the product should not be the focus — instead, highlight the problems customers have that are solved by the product.
#2. Email. Email remains huge for all businesses (58 percent of users check email before their social media accounts!), but ecommerce in particular can leverage smart email strategies to great effect. You’ve got your basic marketing emails, informing past and potential customers of new products or sales. You should also strongly consider tactics like post-purchase follow-up emails and abandoned cart messages — they’ve been shown to be highly effective, as we’ll see in a bit.
#3. Personalization. Personalization is critical. Every shopper is different, so it only makes sense that your marketing should be aware of that. While it might sound like a lot of extra work, proper personalization can also yield a lot of extra sales, adn systems are available to help automate much of the effort.
#4. Timing. Effective ecommerce marketing is all about timing. Whether it’s a limited sale to celebrate a holiday or determining the exact moment to send that abandoned cart message, getting the timing right can be the difference between landing or losing a sale.
14 Practical Ecommerce Marketing Strategies to Boost Online Sales
Now that we’ve covered the basics of a successful ecommerce campaign, it’s time to dive into the specific strategies you can use to help drive sales. Each of these items has been battle-tested by successful ecommerce brands. While you’ve probably heard of some of them before (and are likely using a few), there should be at least a couple new ideas here you can employ with your brand.
1. Offer live chat
Live chat is growing rapidly. In just a few short years, it’s gone from an annoyance on some sites you visit to one of the preferred methods of communication, particularly for younger audiences. In fact, live chat is the most popular customer service option for users between the ages of 18 and 49 — that’s quite a large range.
When customers have questions, offering a quick, easy, and direct way to get them answered can be all it takes to land the sale (or send them to your competitors). Chat is generally the simplest and speediest option for most buyers.
Another advantage of a chat interface is the ability to bring multiple forms of customer communication together in one spot. JivoChat, for example, doesn’t just provide chat and chatbots — it brings messaging from a wide variety of channels into the interface and integrates with other tools like CRMs:
This enables sales and support staff to operate more efficiently by keeping all customer interactions under one roof. You can streamline the process even further by employing chatbots and other AI technologies.
2. Run Google Shopping ads
Google Shopping ads are a surprisingly powerful tool for driving qualified traffic. For the uninitiated, these are the ads that show up as related searches when you Google a product:
Why are they so good? They come with extremely high intent. Since the ads show the product and price right on the SERP, users that click on them have a very high intent to buy — a fact that shows up in metrics, with outstanding conversion rates on users that arrive via Google Shopping ads.
To sweeten the deal even more, these ads are just as easy to create as any other Google ad. Simply provide Google with the requested information and they take care of the rest. They even use the same cost-per-click bidding system as other ad types.
3. Retarget abandoned visitors
The stark reality of ecommerce is that up to 70% of visitors will leave without buying anything. Many retailers simply accept this fact and focus on the customers that do stick around — a strategy that leaves money on the table.
Instead, smart marketers should focus on approaching these “lost” visitors from a different angle. Targeted discounts and social proof can be very effective at overcoming initial objections and turning these on-the-fence users into paying customers.
Retargeting ads are extremely effective — studies indicate clickthrough rates as high as 0.7 percent (compared to 0.07 percent for standard display ads). To maximize that impact, make sure you properly segment your ads and personalize them for different user groups. Google Ads offers retargeting features, and there are also dedicated platforms like AdRoll built for this purpose.
4. Send cart abandonment emails
Another way to help nudge users who abandon their carts is with a well-timed email sequence. Abandoned carts aren’t always a hard no — many times, it’s simply a matter of timing.
Speaking of timing, it’s crucial with these email sequences. The last thing you want to do is appear pushy and desperate. Instead, aim to gently remind the user, focusing on the benefits that they’re missing out on rather than the fact they didn’t spend any money.
You can also go the extra mile by considering why most users abandon their carts. This requires some research (and the guts to face some hard truths about your business), but it can go a long way towards bringing the user back and ultimately making the sale.
5. Incentivize visitors to start a wishlist
A wishlist feature is a fantastic way to engage users on your site, encouraging them to interact with products. Wishlists also give stores another reason to reach out to customers via email, reminding them of items they’ve saved for later.
Additionally, since items on a wishlist are placed there by the customer themselves, you can get a much deeper look at each customer’s preferences. That information can then be used to target future communications and offer personalised deals specific to each customer.
6. Enable guest checkout
Customer accounts are extremely valuable — there’s no two ways about it. However, they can also add unwanted friction to the checkout process for some users, resulting in cart abandonment and ultimately lost sales to competitors. In fact, 28 percent of shoppers cite unnecessary steps at checkout (like account creation) as the reason for cart abandonment.
For these reasons, you should absolutely offer an easy guest checkout experience — the key word being easy. It’s okay to incentivize account creation, but some brands intentionally add unnecessary friction to the guest checkout experience as a way to push customers towards signing in:
Don’t do that. If you provide a good enough experience, customers will eventually create an account. And even if they don’t, they may still come back for future purchases as a guest.
7. Launch an affiliate program
Affiliate marketing is a hot topic these days, and for good reason. Affiliate marketing spending is expected to reach $8.2 billion dollars (yes, billion) by 2022, and as it continues to climb, more and more brands are discovering its power.
An affiliate program is a fantastic way to generate word-of-mouth referrals and additional business for your brand without needing to do a ton of ongoing work. While setting up the program initially can be a bit time consuming, once your assets are in place, you shouldn’t need to do much. There are also some excellent platforms and software solutions that make running an affiliate program simple.
8. Collect emails with discount popups
An email list is a powerful thing. However, building one can be tough. To help jumpstart your list, consider offering an incentive for people to sign up, like a one-time discount.
There are a couple ways to present this offer, but the most effective is generally a popup on your site:
If a popup feels too intrusive, or you don’t see the results you expected, you can also try a sticky bar at the top of your site. This has the advantage of being present on every page while also being less in-your-face to the customer (though it does lose some visibility).
As for what to offer, a fixed percent discount is probably the simplest way to go. It’s also universal, so any customer buying anything from the store can take advantage of it, as opposed to a discount on a specific product that might not interest everyone.
9. Leverage social selling
You probably don’t need anyone to tell you that social media remains huge for engagement. However, you might not be aware of just how huge: as many as 65 percent of Instagram users use their feed for shopping purposes, particularly for inspiration. Facebook boasts similarly impressive stats. That means it should definitely be a part of your ecommerce marketing strategy.
Obviously, you’ve got the platform-specific ads that you can leverage. Additionally, many platforms are now enabling businesses to sell directly on them, taking out a large portion of the friction that might otherwise come with social shopping.
For example, Shopify stores can create Shoppable posts on Facebook and Instagram, which enable users to purchase products right from your posts:
This is extremely convenient for shoppers and can help capitalize on the FOMO phenomenon so prevalent in social media.
10. Tap into influencer networks
Influencer marketing is nothing new, but some new trends in the space have made it more accessible than ever before for smaller businesses. Specifically, the concept of micro-influencers has become the way to go in this space.
Micro-influencers are those that have smaller audiences than, say, your average Kardashian. However, those audiences are extremely engaged, which is the most important part. Studies have shown that as the number of followers an influencer has increases, the level of engagement those followers have with the content goes down.
That being the case, a smaller influencer with a more active audience might actually be better for your brand than a bigger name. Micro-influencers also offer another advantage: they tend to be more affordable. It’s a win-win.
11. Launch a loyalty rewards program
One of the greatest tenets of business is that it’s easier to keep an existing customer than it is to land a new one. One of the most effective ways to retain ecommerce customers and keep them coming back is to offer a loyalty program.
If you need evidence of the effectiveness of loyalty programs, just look at perhaps the most popular such system ever: Amazon Prime. Prime members reportedly spend more than twice as much per year on Amazon purchases — plus the revenue from the membership itself.
12. Send personalized promo emails
When it comes to email marketing, personalization is the name of the game. Over 90 percent of people say they’re more likely to buy from brands that communicate with personalized messaging.
Personalization can take many forms. It can be as simple as including the recipient’s name in the subject line or body of the email. Many email marketing platforms, like ConvertKit or MailChimp, make this easy to implement:
You can also get a little more detailed and recommend products or offer promotions based on past shopping behavior. One of the reasons it’s important to encourage customers to create accounts is because it enables this sort of personalization.
13. Convert “sold out” notifications into sales
One of the best ecommerce marketing strategies is to creatively leverage “sold out” notifications to funnel customers to other options. While you could simply inform the shopper that the item is out of stock, or even offer a waiting list, a better tactic might be to offer alternatives that the buyer can pick up right away.
If you can get the shopper to purchase a different item, you eliminate the risk that they won’t come back — or worse, that they’ll go somewhere else for the out-of-stock merchandise. It’s also a nice bit of added customer service that can help build loyalty with new and returning customers alike.
14. Use social proof to convince prospective customers
Finally, leverage social proof to help push on-the-fence customers over the edge. This can take many forms: product testimonials, star ratings, and money-back guarantees are all common ways to implement social proof.
You could also tie this into some of the other strategies above, like influencer marketing or affiliate programs. After all, if people are recommending your product, that’s one of the most powerful forms of social proof available.
Whether you’re just launching your store or you’ve been in business for years, effective marketing is at the heart of ecommerce success. There are dozens of strategies you can employ, but if you’re looking for some inspiration, the 14 covered in this article make a great starting point.
If you’re ready to really take your ecommerce marketing to the next level, give JivoChat a try. Our platform enables you to connect with your customers right where they are. Get your free account today.