#1 eCommerce Marketing Tactics Working Today

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#1 eCommerce Marketing Tactics Working Today

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The world of eCommerce has attracted retailers and entrepreneurs of all sorts of backgrounds to compete for a slice of the $2.35 trillion dollar pie. The eCommerce industry, as well as the number of new competitors, is moving at an extremely high velocity. Since 2000, the number of U.S. consumers who regularly shop on the internet or their phones for a product has grown more than 57%.

Younger generations continue to fuel the eCommerce industry with their preferences for instant gratuity and internet savvy. More than 67% of Millennials prefer to shop online, whereas only 41% of Baby Boomers and 28% of Seniors do. As younger generations continue to grow older and increase their relative purchasing power, we can expect these numbers to continue to increase. This serves as pretty good evidence to predict that eCommerce isn’t going anywhere, and neither is the competition.

In order to stand out in a rapidly growing eCommerce world, you need to make your marketing strategies work for you. Here are some of the best marketing tactics for eCommerce today.

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Tactic #1: Content Marketing

High-quality content is often the elixir that can turn a stagnant eCommerce site into a highly profitable business. By broad definition, content is essentially any type of information. This can be anything from your product description to the video you shared on Facebook.

Content Marketing meeting photo

Ultimately, content is a product itself. However, instead of money, your content aims to capture attention.

Your content strategy is what you plan to do with that attention when you capture it. What types of content will you be creating? Will you be sending the traffic to a product page? Is your conversion goal of that piece of content to get an email address?

Your content marketing strategy is how you plan to distribute your content. Content marketing is seen as an inbound strategy that aims to bring in interested traffic. Content marketing has several major advantages as an eCommerce strategy:

  1. Provides value to customers and builds your brand.
  2. Educates customers on your product and brand.
  3. Creates a reciprocal relationship with your customers.
  4. Attracts inbound and interested traffic for free.
  5. Can be shared.
  6. Helps your site’s SEO.
  7. Can be highly targeted.

Creating Your Killer Content Marketing Strategy

Content marketing and content creation are a deeply intertwined process. Content marketing is both a means of distributing your content, as well as a way of figuring out what type of content to create based on feedback.

Content Creation vectorStep 1: What type of content do you want to create?

Eliminate the guesswork of what type of content you want to create and find out what your target audience and customers want to read. This can be done by browsing sites such as Quora and Reddit to find which questions are being asked. Once you can identify certain pain points, you can provide customers with solutions.

You should also incorporate your keyword research into your content strategy, but we’ll get into more of that in the next section.

Step 2: What is the goal of your content?

Content Goal vectorIf you are in eCommerce, chances are you want to make money. So, how do we get traffic from your content to turn into money? There are various strategies you can use here, but I’ll highlight the major ones.

  1. Short-term: You want a direct sale. Your content aims to send traffic to product pages, or, if it is on a product page, it aims to get them to buy your product. While this may work, it fosters a transactional relationship that could end up costing more than building a more long-term relationship.
  2. Mid-term: You want to qualify your traffic and establish yourself as an authority, but, ultimately, make the sale in the near future. Your content would primarily consist of resources related to your product lines such as “How to Guides” or “Product ‘A’ Demonstration” Your content focuses on leading traffic to make an appointment for a consultation or enter information to be further contacted.
  3. Long-term: You want to create a long-term relationship with your customers. Although making a sale today sounds great, you would much rather create an ongoing relationship with them so they might buy more products in the future. This type of content primarily focuses on traffic retention. How do you keep traffic coming back to your site? Your landing page might offer an eBook or regular newsletter in exchange for an email address.

Step 3: How will you distribute your content?

Content Distribution vectorHaving amazing content on your site is essentially worthless if there is no one looking at it. There is far too much noise on the internet to expect serendipitous traffic, so you need to put the control in your hands.

On what channels will you share your content? You could and should incorporate it into your social media posts for variety, send out new pieces of content to your email list, or use a link building strategy to get more traffic on your posts.

By centering your content marketing strategy around valuable, well-researched “Power Pages,” you make your content marketing job much easier. Your next efforts will involve finding owners of websites and blogs that have written about similar content and pitching your valuable piece of content to their owners. The blog owners receive something useful for their audience, and you may receive a link out of the process.

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Tactic #2: Search Engine Optimization

The average eCommerce merchant likely has a theoretical understanding of search engine optimization (SEO), but this strategy is still extremely underutilized. While this strategy requires a lot of front-loaded effort, if done successfully it will effectively bring consistent and free traffic to your site.

SEO keyword results vector

The top-notch content you’re going to be creating from the first tactic will play a huge role in how your SEO functions.

Since the eCommerce world is so big, the competition for SEO is extremely fierce. Ranking #1 instead of #2 could mean the difference in thousands of sales, depending on the keyword phrase, and ranking on the second search engine results page, opposed to the first page, could mean getting close to 0 organic search engine visits. In order to excel at SEO for eCommerce, you will need to pay attention to the following components.

Keyword Research

Woman researching animated gifThe goal behind keyword research is to find keywords that, if ranked for, would bring in massive amounts of traffic. Our first instinct might be to target keywords like “discount shoes” or “iPhone 7 case” but, ultimately, the competition for these elusive keywords would make ranking for them an endeavor comparable to climbing Mount Everest barefoot.

However, by getting creative with your keyword research and targeting long-tail keywords, you can start accessing the same type of traffic but at a much lower cost. When looking for the perfect keywords to target, try to meet one of these four criteria:

  1. Good search volume
  2. Are more likely to convert into paying customers
  3. Are not being actively targeted by a lot of your competitors
  4. You can rank for them

When coming up with your keyword research, it’s helpful to try to identify problems consumers are having and are likely to search for in Google. You might not be able to rank for “Nike shoes,” but you might have a fighting chance for “best nike shoes for teenager.”

With this knowledge, you can go ahead and start creating content focused on hitting that keyword, such as “The #1 Guide to the Best Nike Shoes for Teenagers in 2017.”

On-Page SEO

The on-page SEO tips for your content, such as articles and power pages, can be handled by focusing on making sure your keyword is in the important places (title, meta-description, slug, etc.). A tool such as Yoast for WordPress is great at helping people nail down this section.

On Page SEO vectorAs for your product pages, it’s a different story.

The importance of having original, good content on your product and category pages cannot be understated. When Google started its Panda algorithm update in 2011, it destroyed thousands of eCommerce businesses within hours. Rankings tanked for blogs and eCommerce stores that were using a massive amount of low-quality content pages and copy-and-pasted manufacturer product descriptions.

No matter what eCommerce platform you are using, you should be optimizing your title tags. For example, doing something like the example below adds buyer intent and targets long-tail keywords.

<title>{Call to Action} {product name} – {+ option of 1 or 2 relevant keywords} – {Brand Differentiator (If Possible)}at {Brand Name}</title>

Or a combination of those items above hitting the 70 character limit.

Your meta descriptions are what people see after they read the title in Google. They essentially allow people to either confirm or dismiss their intent to go on your page. This is an excellent opportunity to add elements that would urge them to check out your product and buy it. Throwing in a simple “Same day delivery,” “Free returns,” or “Free shipping” can increase the flow of converting traffic, as long as you actually do offer those incentives.

Link Building

Off-page SEO goes beyond the surface level of your SEO efforts and can start adding juice to your content and product pages. Link Building is the process of building backlinks to your site from reputable sites that will not only send interested traffic but which will deliver some “link juice” to boost your relevant pages in search engines.

Link Building vectorHands down, one of the best ways to build links is to already have great content on your site. A long-term link-building process includes building relationships with people who own authority sites, and, if you already have phenomenal content their audiences would be interested in reading, you’re more likely to have a higher success rate than asking them to link to your bland product pages.

Creating valuable and unique content is an effective way to get people to link to your content. Content with data and studies has a much higher chance of getting linked to. Doing the extra bit of research and creating useful content with the purpose of link building could end up getting you more traffic to your products than any other strategy.

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Tactic #3: Social Media

The number of people using social media jumped 21%, to 2.8 billion, by the end of 2016. To put that into perspective, that’s almost equivalent to the population of 10 countries the size of the USA. The explosion of social media also gave way to powerful new ways to analyze the seemingly infinite amount of data about the world’s population. Naturally, there is a ton of money to be made selling products using social media.

Finding the Right Social Media Platform for You

The thought of the number of social media platforms and having to create regular unique content for them might make your head spin. While it is important a brand be everywhere on social media, it is more important to be where it matters.

Finding the right platform for you isn’t so much a matter of personal preference as it is a matter of preference for your customers. Each platform has a different audience, as well as its own eccentricities.

Social Media icons on smart deviceA platform such as Facebook has 1.65 billion monthly users, and it is the most-used throughout all age groups, but it is also a highly competitive landscape for brands. Since everyone is on Facebook, it’s hard to avoid it as a platform for interaction. Although it is a platform that could single-handedly build a business, it is very important to have a diverse social media strategy to avoid being at the whim of a single algorithm update. Instagram and Facebook have similar audience reactions, even though Instagram requires a much different and visual posting strategy.

Snapchat, on the other hand, is a Millennial haven. It currently favors big brands, but smaller companies can also use Snapchat to some success through creating personal Snapchat accounts or geofilters. Since Snapchat is the fastest growing social network, it is possible to get a first mover’s advantage of establishing a successful account before it gets more difficult to do so. However, to get paying customers, Snapchat is not a great place for ROI.

Did someone say ROI? Pinterest and eCommerce have a beautiful relationship. 93% of Pinterest users use the platform to plan their next purchase. Two million people pin product pins every single day—that’s 20x more than the largest shopping mall in the United States—the Mall of America. Pinterest also has the highest order value of all social networks at $50.

Social Media Analytics and Iterating

The analytics behind social media platforms can be a merchant’s best friends. Facebook Audience Insights shows such useful information, from how much a specific audience makes per year to what their primary interests are.

This is not only a phenomenal way to set up targeted campaigns to reach your specific audience, but, also, to get a perspective of what your buyer personas are like. This could reveal new content ideas, as well as entirely different new product lines.

It is important to iterate to find what works and what doesn’t. This will help you adjust everything from your messaging, content, and audience targeting to site offerings. Your social media strategy should focus on two things: sending traffic to your site and building an audience to which you have access regardless of algorithm updates.

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Tactic #4: Google Shopping

Google is, arguably, the king of internet traffic, but it has only recently made a significant effort to break into the eCommerce space since its humble eCommerce start as Froogle in 2002. Renamed Google Shopping in 2012, it has earned massive growth in a short period of time. Revenue from its Product Listing Ads grew 52% YoY in 2016.

Since 67% of all eCommerce search traffic starts with Google, it would be safe to assume that Google Shopping is going to continue to grow. In order to have success with Google Shopping, merchants will need to:

  1. Use analytics such as Google Data Studio to observe their best-selling products and make sure they are spending their ad money on their winners and getting rid of their losers.
  2. Be specific in their product ads. If a product has different options, they should optimize each ad for each variation of the product. If someone is looking for “black Nike shoes,” they likely won’t respond to an ad with a picture of green shoes.
  3. Focus on differentiation through quality. Product images are a great place to start since most merchants opt to use a stock image they find in Google. The more appealing an image is, the more likely someone will choose to buy that product over the one next to it.

Google Shopping on smart phone

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Tactic #5: Pay Per Click (PPC)

There will always be a place for digital advertising in eCommerce. As organic results are becoming less and less visible in search engines, advertising starts to look more and more appealing. PPC can be a risky strategy because, without a good strategy and constant supervision, a lot of your ad campaign money could end up going to waste.

Executing a successful PPC strategy involves audience segmentation and iterating for the perfect ad campaign.

Divide and Conquer: Knowing your audience and segmenting for optimal click-through rates is something few merchants do well in their AdWords campaigns. Blasting out a single ad to no one in particular isn’t likely to be effective. You shouldn’t be paying the same amount for a low-converting lead than a high-converting lead, so why gamble? Audience/person-based targeting is going to require some research and feedback, but, once you have an understanding of who is buying your product and who is just browsing, you can create better ads tailored to their interests and bid accordingly.

Iterating for the perfect ad: Spoiler alert—there is no perfect ad. A consistent 100% click-through and conversion rate is something marketers dream about, but, ultimately, by the time a perfect strategy is found, its likely audience preferences or search engines will have changed. That’s why it’s important to constantly be iterating to increase your click-through rates. Part of this iterative process is finding your Unique Selling Product for each particular audience segmentation. Some people might respond to “free shipping,” whereas others are more likely to click on “no hassle returns.”

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Tactic #6: Email Marketing

Email marketing has been around for nearly 40 years and is the tried and true approach still working for entrepreneurs around the globe. The power of email marketing is that not only are you able to segment your lists and target specific sections of your audience, but you can also retain visitors and customers.

Email Marketing vectorAs you can imagine, emails are the lifeblood of email marketing. This is why content strategies are often beautifully intertwined with email marketing. You want people to find value in the content on your site so that they are enticed to join your email list. Once they are on your email list, they will continue to expect great content.

Email stands out as a phenomenal strategy because you can contact virtually anyone at any time. The part many people get wrong is building a good long-term relationship so that your email reaches a friend instead of a stranger. Ultimately, your email marketing efforts revolve around nurturing your email list and giving your recipients as much value as possible. Whether you choose to do this through a weekly newsletter of pertinent industry information or a first-pass at any discounts, you just have to make sure you are sending the right message.

When done correctly, email marketing yields an enormous 4,300% ROI for businesses in the United States. Email marketing, essentially, pays for itself, and then some, but it can also play a significant role in reducing the costs of your other marketing efforts.

For example, you can use your email list to send traffic to your new Power Page. Since your email list is familiar with your brand and (if you did your research) its readers will likely find the Power Page useful, they will be more likely to share and link to it. In this sequence, you’ve not only nurtured your email list readers, you’ve also increased the ROI on that piece of content and gotten, more or less, free links.

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Tactic #7: Dynamic Retargeting

Have you ever clicked on a product that caught your attention, and then kept seeing it pop up in your Facebook feed and everywhere else? This is no coincidence. By definition, dynamic retargeting is an ad strategy that allows merchants to personalize every ad delivered based on criteria relevant to actions taken by the user. Dynamic retargeting ads have to do with a previous piece of content or product viewed by the user.

The attention span of the average internet shopper isn’t really the best. With a seemingly infinite array of options, the constant notification sounds, and the callings of real life, you can’t really blame them. Unfortunately for merchants, this means that the potential customer you worked hard to get to your site is probably gone for good. Thankfully, a dynamic retargeting strategy can change that. Retargeted ads are also 70% more likely to convert than any other type of advertising.

For example, if someone viewed one of the Adidas sneakers on your website, you would be able to create an ad directly tailored to where they were in the checkout process. The retargeted ad is likely to remind the user of your brand and product, and it is 10x more likely to be clicked on than any other ad. Your hard work of getting people on your site and interested doesn’t have to go to waste.

The three main components that ultimately sway consumers into purchasing infographic

A Good Business Model Complements Your Marketing

While incorporating the above marketing tactics is very important, improving certain factors of your business is a great way to allow them to function at a much higher rate. The three main components that ultimately sway consumers into purchasing are:

  1. Price, with 87% of Americans citing it as the number-one reason they shop online instead of in a store.
  2. Shipping cost and speed, with 80% of Americans wanting close to the same instant gratification of buying a product at a brick-and-mortar location.
  3. Discount offers, with 71% of Americans being extremely influenced by the opportunity to get a product at a lower price.

Marketing is all about getting traffic to your site but even the best marketing strategy will have a tough time converting customers if the price or shipping cost isn’t what they want. Statistically,  three out of every five shoppers are likely to ditch an order because of shipping costs.

The first question you have to ask yourself is “Where does my business stand as is”?

It would be wise to get an understanding of not only what your current customers like, but what turned your almost-customers away from shopping with you. Although statistics can be very good at predicting the average shopper’s behavior, every industry and business model is different. Perhaps the main reason shoppers weren’t buying your product wasn’t because of price; it, instead, had to do with the lack of customization options. You’ll never know unless you do the research.

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Final Thoughts: Putting It All Together

While all of these strategies have some merit as stand-alone tactics, the amount of synergy that can be attained from creating a holistic marketing strategy shouldn’t be overlooked.

Imagine only using Facebook as your digital marketing tactic and waking up to an algorithm update that cut your daily traffic by a third and upped your click-through costs by a factor of ten. This isn’t a feverish nightmare; it’s something that periodically happens. Each of these tactics serves as a pillar of an effective marketing strategy, and the multiple components eliminate the risk of a single tactic becoming less effective in the future.

Final Content IconThe glue that holds together a holistic marketing strategy is your content. By delivering high-quality information in an easily digestible format for interested customers, you will not only help them navigate your site and purchase products but also increase your SEO efforts. Search engine algorithms take everything into account when organizing search engine results pages, from on-site time and shares to links.

The next component is to retain your traffic and reduce the costs of finding new customers. If you build a happy long-term relationship with your clients, you will be able to leverage it to push sales, referrals, or shares at a much cheaper and more effective rate than any of these strategies alone.

Focus on connecting your marketing strategies together in a sustainable manner, but, most importantly, stay keen and creative in the wake of new emerging patterns.



Number 1 eCommerce Marketing Tactics Working Today

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