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You've worked so hard to build your online store, source your products from the best manufacturers, and satisfy orders with the best distributors.
Now, how do you get people to actually purchase your products?
And, perhaps more importantly, how do you get them to choose your online store over all of the other online retailers in this ever-growing e-commerce market?
The very first step in getting more people to shop your products is to bring in traffic to your online store.
After all, the more people that you have looking through your products, the more people you will have making purchases.
Yes, it really is that simple.
The average conversion rate of any given landing page is around 2.35 percent. That is, the rate at which users convert from onlookers and browsers to paying customers, While that may seem low, it can mean big money if you've got 10,000 monthly visitors to your site.
The next step in growing your e-commerce store, then, would be to increase your conversion rate.
But the first step is to increase organic traffic. So how do you get more traffic to your shop?
With a solid e-commerce marketing plan.
If you don't have one yet, then don't worry. I'll break it down for you in this post and go over the most successful e-commerce marketing strategies that online retailers use today. Each of the strategies is totally doable and can easily be incorporated into your daily workflow over the course of one month.
What is Ecommerce Marketing?
Every solid e-commerce marketing plan will center most of its efforts on digital marketing since that is where your prospective customers will be hanging out, credit card in hand.
Ecommerce marketing is a combination of tactics used to boost traffic to your online shop, convert that traffic into paying customers, and then build customer loyalty after the very first purchase. A comprehensive marketing strategy will include tactics for both on and off your website, meeting your prospective customers on every step of the buyer's journey.
From the very first step of building brand awareness to increasing customer loyalty post-purchase, the ultimate goal of an ecommerce marketing strategy is to increase online sales, month after month.
As you can imagine, there are tons of different ways to do this. While some ecommerce companies blow thousands of dollars on a robust digital marketing strategy, you don't have to.
Many of these strategies can be done for free or for a minimal cost.
Unlike traditional marketing, which pushes your brand out in front of your target audience in hopes of snagging a valuable spot in their memory for the next time they go to make a purchase at the store, digital marketing relies heavily on inbound marketing.
Inbound marketing is a cohesive strategy that aims to capture your target audience organically on various points of the buyer's journey.
I know that this is a lot of jargon up front, but it's important to understand these two concepts before slapping together a marketing plan.
The better you understand these terms and how they relate to your marketing strategy, the more effective your strategy will be.
Let's take a quick look at each before moving onto which marketing strategies are best for your online store.
Hopefully, by now you've already identified your target audience, or where your prospective customers are hanging out online.
If not, no worries.
Now is a great time to do so as it will help guide your entire marketing and e-commerce strategy from here on out. If you need help getting started, I really like this comprehensive guide on how to identify and define your target audience by BigCommerce.
Once you understand who your target audience is and what their online behavior is, you can position yourself in front of them with one of the proven strategies I'll outline below.
The goal will not be to convince your target audience to become first-time buyers right away, though. Instead, the goal will be to bring your target audience over to your website, where they will discover your brand, your crazy cool products, and your killer blog content.
And then they will make a purchase.
This is the basic premise of inbound marketing and is an absolutely essential part of a sustainable long-term e-commerce marketing plan.
Just as the term implies, the buyer's journey outlines the user experience during the purchasing process. It's most easily broken down into three phases:
- Awareness - The potential customer first realizes that there is a problem to be solved. During this phase, the user is starting to do a little bit of research about the problem and all potential solutions. Example: the user has cold feet and would like a way to keep them warm.
- Consideration - The user begins to consider whether or not the problem is big enough to make a purchase. During this phase, the potential customer has more clearly identified the problem and is now researching the best solutions available. Example: the user has found several solutions to warm her feet, such as socks, slippers, and herbal tea for increased blood circulation but isn't sure which solution is best for her quite yet.
- Decision - The user has made the decision to make a purchase and is now shopping for the exact product to provide the best solution. Example: the user has decided that socks are the best solution for her and is now researching socks to purchase, which, conveniently for you, is exactly what you sell.
This is why it's super important that you have already identified your target audience and created buyer personas so that you can more easily identify where they are hanging out online as they research solutions to their problems.
Ideally, your products will provide the perfect solution to them and they will naturally stumble upon your website during their research
3 Reliable Ecommerce Marketing Strategies to Boost Traffic and Increase Sales
Now that you've identified where your potential customers will be coming from, it's time to bring them over to your online store. The easiest way to do that is to tackle several different marketing channels to give your potential customers multiple ways to find you.
Not sure where to begin?
Don't worry, I got you.
These are the most successful ecommerce marketing strategies being used by online retailers to boost organic traffic and increase online sales.
1. Content Marketing
Of all of the marketing strategies that you can employ, your content marketing strategy is perhaps the most important.
I know, that's a big statement.
But it's something that you can tackle right now for free and bring in the most website visitors long after your initial content marketing efforts are made.
At the core of content marketing is search engine optimization, which is a strategy used to help your e-commerce store to rank higher on any given search engine, such as Google. Your content marketing strategy can be broken down into two parts, on-page content marketing and off-page content marketing.
On-Page Content Marketing
The first step in search engine optimization is to do a little bit of keyword research to identify opportunities to rank for various topics related to your niche market. The point of doing this is to signal to the search engines what your website is about.
Ideally, if you sell socks, then your website will have tons of content about socks. This way, the search engines know to list you on their results pages when someone is searching for socks.
It's fairly straight forward and is pretty easy to do at a basic level if you're short on time and expertise.
Once you've done your research, you will add keyword-rich content to your website. The easiest places to add the content are on your sales pages, product descriptions, and blog.
Helpful Article: How to do Keyword Research and Create a Content Strategy to Rank for Long-Tail Keywords
Off-Page Content Marketing
Another thing that search engines look for is virtual recommendations via backlinks. Basically, search engines don't want to recommend just any page that happens to have tons of content about socks.
Then the results pages would just be a list of random sites that may not be at all helpful to the user.
So one way to find out which websites are truly helpful is to look for online recommendations by way of backlinks. Theoretically, the more that other websites point to this website, the more trustworthy and helpful the website is.
Getting backlinks is a tricky business and takes quite a bit of effort. It often requires submitting content to other websites in exchange for a link back to your e-commerce website. This is the basic foundation of off-page content marketing.
As you begin your overall marketing campaign, it's super important to include a solid off-page content marketing strategy as well. It's the way the search engines will know to recommend your e-commerce site when users are searching for the products that you sell, such as socks.
Without these virtual recommendations, your website will be all but invisible online, making it impossible for your potential customers to find you.
There are many ways to get your content and links on other sites, from submitting guest blog posts to listing your e-commerce website on online directories. Find a strategy that works for you and work on getting a few links published each month.
Helpful Article: How to Get Backlinks to Your E-Commerce Site with Off-Page Content Marketing
2. Social Media Marketing
One of the easiest ways to drive traffic to your online shop is through Facebook and Instagram ads. Unlike content marketing, which is at the mercy of the search engine algorithms, social media marketing allows you to place ads directly in front of your target audience.
Not only do Facebook and Instagram ads help drive traffic to your store, but they also help you build social proof among potential buyers. The more that people see your brand, the more that they trust it.
And if they trust your brand, then they will be more comfortable spending money in your shop.
Before you begin paying for ads, though, take the time to test out different ad styles, audience groups, and budgets.
The easiest way to do this is to run a series of ads on a low budget (for as little as $5) to see which ads have the best reach, click-through-rate, and conversion rate.
Once you see which types of ads work best, you can create ongoing social media marketing campaigns that will support your overall marketing efforts throughout the year.
Helpful Article: 9 Examples of E-Commerce Companies That Boosted Their Sales Through Social Media
3. Email Marketing
An often overlooked goldmine for ecommerce business owners is their mailing list, where they have direct access to thousands of already paying customers.
Which is a shame because people who make purchases through an email offer spend, on average, 138% more than people who don't receive email offers. Not only that, but email marketing is one of the most powerful marketing tools in building customer loyalty.
If you can get existing customers to spend more money in your shop and return to your shop to spend even more in the following months through a simple email marketing campaign, then why not do it?
Before you start sending out emails, though, be sure to follow some of the established best practices in email marketing for ecommerce.
Many inboxes, such as Gmail, have strict filters that land many emails in the spam folder. The filters often include:
- emails with a low open rate
- certain spammy words or phrases, such as 'free' and 'sex'
- low click-through rates
Don't worry, though.
Many email marketing platforms can help you send emails that are more likely to make it to the inbox of your customer base by providing solid templates for email newsletters, the order confirmation email, transaction emails, and even an opt-in form.
Most of these email marketing services also provide automation to send specific emails to targeted members of your email list based on their interests. Rather than sending a generic blast email to everyone on your list, this automation process sends super specific emails to the people most likely to be interested in the topic.
For example, sending a flash sale on a specific product that the user was just shopping for on your site.
Sending relevant emails to your mailing list is called ‘segmentation’ and can have a huge impact on your open rates and click-through rates.
Besides the initial setup, your email marketing campaign can run automatically with minimal effort on your part...
...and bring in major rewards.
Helpful Article: 5 Ecommerce Email Marketing Resources That Increase Your Sales
7 Doable Ecommerce Marketing Tips According To 28 Top Ecommerce Industry Leaders
I just gave you a quick and dirty breakdown of the best and most reliable ecommerce marketing strategies to drive traffic and boost sales.
But don’t just take it from me.
We rounded up hot tips from 28 industry leaders who rely on digital marketing to get a steady flow of sales each month. Here are their tips for developing an ecommerce marketing strategy that works:
1. Do your homework
Identify your niche
“What makes us special is that we are focused on a customer segment that is very passionate about their kids, and they are looking for great products. If you look at the retail space for that market, the low-end has been commoditized by Babies R Us, Toys R Us, Walmart. If you go upmarket just a little bit, you’ll see mass fragmentation. It’s really the local boutique store in any given town that’s selling… in those mid to upper-end price points. So, there really just isn’t a great brand out there for moms to look to.” – Darrell Cavens, Zulily CEO
“We figured out that Rent the Runway is an emotional experience. Women would put on a sequined, Tory Burch celebrity dress and twirl around, and they felt like they were ready for a fantastic evening. You knew that their expression changed, their emotion changed, their confidence changed, and we realized THAT’s the business that we’re in.” – Jennifer Hyman & Jennifer Fliess, Rent The Runway co-founders
Listen to the customers
“With our Be the Buyer program, we get a more precise read on demand because people are on the waitlist for specific sizes. We have all this historical sales data on products, and we’re also interacting with customers on Pinterest and Polyvore and other external sites to see what [our customer] is saving and playing with, the styles that are inspiring her. Combined with Be the Buyer and Make the Cut, we’re able to anticipate what she’ll want down the line.” – Susan Gregg and Eric Koger, ModCloth Co-founders
Read: How ModCloth Evolved From A One Woman Firm to A $100 Million Company
Find out what your customers want
“We asked our 1,000 most enthusiastic customers, “Why do you shop at Bonobos?” I spent a weekend reading all 1,000 responses. Three things stuck out and became the three pillars of our brand: fit, fun and service.” – Andy Dunn, Bonobos CEO & Founder
Read Andy Dunn’s Survival Tips For Ecommerce Retailers
2. Build your product
Make your product insanely great
“In the old world, you devoted 30% of your time to building a great service and 70% of your time to shouting about it. In the new world, that inverts.” – Jeff Bezos, Amazon CEO & Founder
Read: Jeff Bezos Quotes – 5 Inspiring Bits Of Tough Wisdom
“When we design something we think a lot about the return rate, how to make people understand how it fits, and how to make sure that what they see is what they get – or if they see something, what they get is even better than what they expected.” – Michael Preysman, Everlane CEO & Founder
Read: 5 Ways Fashion Retailer Everlane Earned Insane Word of Mouth
Develop a unique selling point
“We release new styles at a rapid pace. The close contact we have with manufacturing allows us to have control over quality assurance. We can deliver a suit in under two weeks and back it up with a Perfect Fit Promise. Once measurements are taken and the first suit is made, it’s just point, click and buy.” – Kyle Vucko, Indochino CEO & Co-founder
Read: 8 Examples Of Creating Unexpected Utility In Marketing To Get More Word-Of-Mouth
Create delightful experiences for your customers
“Our customers are creative professionals who love details and individuality – they can see that we put a lot of effort into the website and I would like to think that they really appreciate it. Even though we are product designers, we proved that you should follow the design through to the packaging, branding, and, well, your website. Everything fits together perfectly.” – James Teal, Hard Graft co-founder
Read: 17 Ways That 15 Companies Got Massive Word-of-Mouth By Delighting Their Customers
Give your customers a great deal
“We don’t want to wholesale our product because the inefficiencies of wholesaling to a Barney’s is paid for at a higher price by the customer. Let’s just eliminate that and let the customer get really great product at really great prices.” – Ryan Babenzien, GREATS Founder & CEO
Read: Designer Footwear Referral Program Examples: Greats
3. Exceed your customers’ expectations
Don’t just collect signups, engage your customers
“By spending a lot of money on marketing you might get a lift in signups, but if none of those signups ever return, your metrics would tell a misleading story. Daily signups look great, but without daily active (and engaged) users, you’re just filling up a leaky funnel.” – Tobias Lütke, Shopify CEO & Founder
Read: The Future of Retail, According To Shopify CEO @tobi
“I like to answer emails, chat with people on Reddit, and reply to YouTube comments. I was also involved on various communities online, from Reddit to Beardboard and BeardedGents.com. I am able to talk and get to know other beardsmen around the world at a personal level. I think it helps that I’m passionate about what we are building and people see that in me. I’ve made a lot of how-to videos that people have really liked.” – Eric Bandholz, Beardbrand founder
Read: How To Get Word-of-Mouth: 40+ Successful Examples To Learn From
Earn recommendations through great service
“We take most of the money that we could have spent on paid advertising and instead put it back into the customer experience. Then we let the customer be our marketing. Historically, our number one growth driver has been from repeat customers and word-of-mouth.” – Tony Hsieh, Zappos CEO and Founder
Read: 4 Ways To Get Word-of-Mouth With Customer Service
Really ‘Wow’ them
“All 25 of our customer service folks are in-house. We have a 24/7 operation, and we empower the reps to take care of the mom at whatever cost. Really, the fewer rules, the better. The concept is just if Mom calls and there’s an issue, do whatever is necessary to make her happy and really Wow her.” – Marc Lore, Diapers.com co-founder
Read: 21 Interviews With 10 Successful Ecommerce Founders
Never compromise on what matters
“We realize that putting multiple stamps on an envelope is time-consuming and we’d be much more efficient printing a digital stamp. But we have lots of folks tweeting images of their Tattly envelopes every day!” – Tina Roth Eisenberg, Tattly founder
4. Run a referral program
“A referral program is a key part of what we do, because our repeat customers have allowed us to thrive. Just think about what would happen if we had only one-time purchases. ReferralCandy is a part of that – we rarely discount our products so customers get the first crack at a discount, through ReferralCandy.” – Mike Arnot, Owen & Fred founder
“I think the main reason we’ve been able to drive guys to the site is that we deliver a very niche and curated product and work hard to make sure we’re bringing the most relevant product and brands to our audience. Beyond that, we’ve had a lot of success come through our referral program, which offers guys $10 every time they get a friend to sign up for our site and make a purchase using their referral link.” – Jason Ross, Jackthreads CEO & Founder
Read: An Epic List of 47 Referral Programs
5. Create content that your customers love
Combine marketing and media
“I think moving forward, a media company that’s separate from a marketing company will not exist. I think the lines are blurring and they will continue to blur.” – Katia Beauchamp, Birchbox founder and co-CEO
Read: How Birchbox Grew From 200 to 850,000 Subscribers In 3.5 Years
Provide a full experience
“Being able to tell our story and engage our community better online is big. Our customer doesn’t really differentiate between consuming content, shopping for something, and hanging out with her friends online. I just want to give her all kinds of reasons to hang out on Nasty Gal.” – Sophia Amoruso, Nasty Gal CEO & Founder
“When we started Tatchies, the idea was to take form and function without comprising them. When it comes to the website we wanted to give visitors an unique experience. Our vision is to change the site with a new experience every year.” – Markus Andersson, Tatchies Co-founder
Tell stories in fun ways
“Whether it’s video, Facebook content or other kinds of content, we are going to make a strong commitment to telling strong stories in creative ways and just giving our audience and our customers fun stuff to play with. That’s part of the fun of being an Internet brand.” – Michael Dubin, Dollar Shave Club CEO
Read: It was a dark and stormy night… – 24 Examples of Storytelling in Marketing
Don’t shy away from controversy (if it suits your brand)
“We’re always looking for new ways to get our brand in front of people. If that means a little controversy, so be it.” – Jason Ross, JackThreads
Read: SodaStream, Scarlett Johansson and the Streisand Effect
6. Utilize Social Media
“With social media, there’s such a cheap and easy form to market through word-of-mouth that you should give it a try. Don’t be scared to take this giant leap, build your own brand and develop special relationships with your customers.” Cameron Parker, Head of Sales and Marketing at Black Milk Clothing
Read: 3 Ways Black Milk Created a Crazily-Loyal Fan Base Through Word-of-Mouth
“Pinterest is by far the most helpful. It’s super interesting, and there’s a lot of overlap with our audience. Even if you have nothing about fashion on your Pinterest board, you can learn so much by what people are pinning on their decor boards or DIY boards.” – Katrina Lake, Stitch Fix CEO & Founder
“Our business was entirely grown through our YouTube channel, the YouTube community and word-of-mouth. Our initial biggest win was a YouTuber with about 15,000 subscribers reviewing our product. That did way more for us than any magazine mention can do as we’ve been featured and it’s nothing compared to real people on YouTube.” – Alex Ikonn, Luxy Hair co-founder
“One of the manufacturers I purchase from has a particularly strong social following on Instagram with 16,000 fans. I had posted a photo to the Finch Goods Co. Instagram account that included one of their products. They reposted it to their account and tagged me in it, which netted me almost 350 followers.” – Richard Lazazzera, Finch Goods founder
7. Have A Purpose
Grow a community with sincerity
“Threadless grew very slowly and organically over the past 10 years. And it grew because thre is such sincerity between the company and the community and between members of the community themselves… we are truly fueled by creating cool stuff with artists around the world, not by dollar signs. But we have also been very realistic when it omes to revenue. We bootstrapped the company with $1,000 and have only grown it with our profits, so something has to really actually be working in order for us to keep moving.” – Jake Nickell, Threadless CEO and co-founder
Read: 4 Ways T-Shirt Company Threadless Built a Fanatical Community Through Word-of-Mouth
Have a purpose that people relate with
“My mission for the company is to inspire the next generation of female engineers. This is about building a movement. The bigger the campaign gets, the bigger a message we send to the toy industry, to stores who hopefully will sell Goldie, to parents who might think differently about what they buy for their children.” – Debbie Sterling, CEO & Founder of Goldieblox
Read: Educational Toys Referral Program Examples: GoldieBlox
“We spent a lot of time developing on Facebook, Twitter, really allowing our community to feel that they really had some ownership in the brand. That comes from the fact that when you buy a pair you have that ownership that you’ve helped someone. I do a lot of interviews, magazine photoshoots, those type of things because that didn’t cost us anything and the readers of those magazines are even more attracted to editorial than advertising.” – Blake Mycoskie, TOMS shoes founder
Read: How TOMS Shoes Built A Multi-Million-Dollar Movement With Word-of-Mouth (And Gave Away Millions Of Shoes)
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