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Ecommerce Marketing Guide: 30 Tips & Strategies on How to Increase Sales

Category: B2B News
How can I promote my ecommerce business?
You can promote your ecommerce business by utilizing SEO, practicing content marketing, building a brand, engaging in social media, and offering user value. Each category has specific, case-to-case techniques, though in general following these five major pillars of ecommerce marketing can make a huge difference.

What makes an online business successful? 9 in 10 online startups fail within the first three months. While failures happen because of a variety of reasons, the common denominator in these crashes is an unoptimized eCommerce marketing strategy. Failing to plan (for a marketing strategy), as the adage says, is planning to fail. And that’s confounded by the fact that your marketing strategy depends on the size and reach of your business.

Still, no matter the size of your brand, an eCommerce marketing strategy is always necessary. The problem is how effective your current strategy is. Does it remain viable for the size of your business? More importantly, does your marketing translates to sales?

We’ve compiled 30 strategies to help you launch your eCommerce business successfully using marketing, categorizing them into five: SEO, content marketing, branding, social media, and user value. Of course, using eCommerce software is a core part of any eCommerce strategy. If you don’t have one yet, perusing our list is an excellent way to start.

ecommerce marketing guide featured main

Ecommerce Marketing Guide Table of Contents

In 2019, eCommerce has become just another purchasing channel. These days, no one talks about “online shopping” anymore in the sense of shopping strictly on the internet. It’s just “shopping”—which is a remarkable turn of events. This means the line between buying stuff online and on the physical world has just become blurred, especially as most retailers that offer in either space are extending into the other.

Most industry insiders see that this dichotomy has been false from the beginning. Location was never the driver of retail but choice. If you have a retailer that offers both ecosystems, that is only when location is relevant.

Online commerce is also solidifying as top online retailers get the lion’s share of the system, while brick-and-mortar stores are still forging ahead. According to data by eMarketer, Amazon is responsible for 80% of eCommerce growth in 2018. Together with the top four online retailers, they make up almost 65% of the world’s total eCommerce sales.

Retail's David and Goliath

Ecommerce vs. brick-and-mortar marketshare

eCommerce Brick-and-mortar
eCommerce (17.5) Brick-and-mortar (82.5)

eMarketer, Statista (2021 estimate)

Designed by

While eCommerce is indeed the province of the giants, it doesn’t mean that you should leave your online presence by the wayside. Having a website in the digital age means they can trust you, especially if you integrate your website with social media. After all, 28% of consumers search on social media.

This is why marketing your eCommerce business means being able to take advantage of the two prongs of being visible (with your website) and being social (with social media). And to do that, the tips in the following sections can help you.

SEO

SEO, or search engine optimization, isn’t just about making your website rank high on Google search results. It also means making your website easy to use and to make the buying process as simple and straightforward as possible. In other words, proper use of SEO techniques can shorten the time (and increase the chances) between the user searching for your product and checking out that product.

You can do so in various ways, but in terms of eCommerce marketing, here are the six top SEO practices to boost your sales.

1. Optimize your layout

An optimized layout—either to load things faster or to make it easy for a user to navigate—makes visitors more engaged. And more engaged visitors make them more likely to buy from you. To do this, you should understand user intent.

Determine how you’d want a user to search for your website, and then build your navigation from there. Understand that there are three types of users that use a search engine: those that want to be educated, those that are searching for information about a product or a service, and those that want to buy. Build your website accordingly and make them useful for all types of users, but particularly those of the last type.

2. Mobile responsiveness is critical

Mobile search has overtaken searches from other devices since 2015, but that figure had become much bigger in 2018. According to data from CIODive, up to 70% of all web traffic comes from mobile. That means a website that doesn’t look or work well on mobile devices is limiting itself to the last 30%, which are mostly inflexible users and won’t look at an online store to buy from in the first place.

Mobile-first design means not just making your website look as they would on a desktop. It also means giving mobile users a high-quality, unique experience. Do not block JavaScript, CSS, or images, which used to make sense when 3G was the standard. Use a thumb-friendly navigation with endless scrolling. And, finally, avoid Flash; speed is everything in mobile, and Flash will just bog down your website’s loading speed.

Wix is one of the easiest ways to create a layout that’s optimized for mobile. Wix is a website builder, but it has relevant modules that are integrated with the core application. It allows you to build a website from scratch with no coding experience and supports eCommerce right out of the box.

When you’re building for mobile-first, Wix can give you all the tools you need, right where you need them.  The vendor offers a comprehensive free trial to get you up to speed with the features. You can sign up for Wix free trial here.

Wix can give you the tools you need to design webpages for mobile.

3. Go local to go global

Local SEO is all the rage these days, and for good reason. After all, 46% of Google searches ask for local information, and over 7 of those will visit a store within 5 miles.

Remember to optimize your content for local search, especially if your eCommerce business has a local element or a brick-and-mortar presence. While most eCommerce websites eschew physical presence for a purely digital store, the boundary between online and offline retail is becoming irrelevant. A store that has only one of either will not survive in 2020 and beyond.

4. Prepare for non-keyword search

Ever since the first search engines, we’ve used keywords to look for things on the internet. At the cusp of the millennium’s third decade, however, keywords will begin to fade in importance. And eCommerce marketing practices will likely change as well with this revolution.

The first marker that we’re moving beyond keywords is the prevalence of voice search thanks to the widespread adoption of smart speakers and voice assistants. Already, 20% of Google searches use voice, and by 2020 we’re on track for 50% of all searches using voice. Voice search statistics are likewise in agreement, and what’s more, visual search is not far behind. One of its leading proponents, Pinterest, seeing 600 million visual searches in a month as of last year.

With AR and VR not far behind, future-proofing your eCommerce website with the ability to be searched by voice and visuals is not only wise but inevitable.

Global Smart Speaker Market Shares by Region, Q1 2019

China United States Rest of the World UK
China (51%) United States (24%) Rest of the World (20%) UK (5%)

Source: Canalys

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5. Use Schema.org markup

One of the easiest ways to get a high click-through rate on the internet is to use Schema.org markup. These semantic helpers allow a search engine to display what your website says but also what it means. According to Schema.org, an organization that sets the standards for schema markup, these codes allow a search engine to differentiate between, for example, “Avatar” the 2009 movie or an “avatar” as a profile picture.

A website with structured data and schema markup will rank higher in search results. This is because search engines want a user to find exactly the information they’re looking for. You can use Google’s own tool to use markup on your own website.

6. Featured snippets are a thing

Featured snippets, which used to be called “answer boxes,” are small boxes that have an excerpt from one of the pages on page one results. These snippets directly answer a question, allowing the user to find the information they’re looking for without visiting the actual page.

As featured snippets are on page one, regular SEO rules apply. However, you don’t necessarily have to rank first on the results; you just have to answer a question better than others on that page. Instead, you should focus on answering a question logically and building a cohesive page structure that supports that question. And the result? An astounding increase of CTR by 114%, according to an investigation by HubSpot.

An example of a featured snippet answering a question. Note that it uses great content from our site.

Content marketing

How many times have you encountered the saying that “content is king”? Because it is. The world’s leading marketers (and their brands) use content to promote their business. And while content is only second to event or experiential marketing when converting leads, you can create content regularly.

The operative word, of course, is “regular.” Regular content generation—assuming they’re high-quality—costs 62% less than other forms of marketing and generates leads three times as much.

Investing in content marketing will pay off, but only if you know how to use it to your advantage. Our organized workflow for content marketing study can help, but some more specific examples are below.

7. Create original content

Creating original, high-quality content is simple—you want to give your audience something that they’ll find interesting and relevant that they’ll stick around even after you want to sell them something. And with 78% of people saying that relevant content increases the likelihood of them buying, that’s a pretty big reason to invest in great content.

Content doesn’t always mean the written word. It can be videos, photos, or articles. As long as these are your ideas, they’re consistent with your brand, and they’re crafted with care to answer their audience, your content is going to be king.

8. Try long-form content

A survey by Moz reveals that Google favors content with higher word count, and there is a reason for it. Long-form content (articles with 1,000 words or more) makes a difference when you want to position your brand as an industry leader. This is because a longer article can display the brand’s authority on a particular subject more than a shorter and occasional one. In addition, the amount of time creating it means the brand has an informed opinion on the topic.

Length Is King

Average shares vs. content word count

Word count
Average shares

Less than 1,000 words

1,000-2,000

2,000-3,000

3,000-10,000

Source: Moz

Designed by

9. Kill zombie pages

No one wants zombies, and Google doesn’t like zombie pages either. When you’re auditing your site to make it tighter, more relevant, and “clickable,” you should look at your old, obsolete pages. Normally, zombie pages aren’t a big deal, but if you have lots of them, Google thinks your site is low-quality and will hesitate to give you a higher rank on search results, even if your newer content are more relevant.

Look for duplicate posts, old press releases, and store pages for products that see no sale. You can either update them or remove them entirely if the content cannot be salvaged. You can try to repurpose old content, such as by merging old posts into one long-form post.

10. Guest post

Some brands hesitate to create content for other websites, but it’s one of the easiest ways to expand your reach. Guest blogging allows you to tap into the existing audience of a website that’s similar to yours (or in your industry or niche). This audience would otherwise be out of reach to you and will not know you, but high-quality guest posts can make you instant authority.

Look for partners that allow a backlink to your website so you can easily generate qualified leads. Make CTAs and great landing pages to welcome your new visitors.

11. Run A/B tests

A/B testing means creating two almost identical pages, just with a slight difference. It can be layout, content, graphics, and so on. It also allows you to target certain customer demographics. An A/B test is especially useful for eCommerce websites, as you can split-test two product pages and see which one performed better.

This exercise works best when you tailor the variables for the goal you want. In a B2B market, for example, you can try adjusting visuals, headlines, CTAs, and form fields. For a purely content website, you can try adjusting visuals, CTAs, and even the slight tone of the article.  This is why consistent and regular A/B testing allows you to winnow out underperforming content and populate your site with fresh, high-performing ones.

12. Engage in email marketing

Email marketing is strictly not under content marketing, but one of its components—newsletters—certainly are. The most important thing to remember about email marketing is, like content marketing, it’s about providing your customers with information. The difference is that the former gives them a roadmap or guidance on how to best take action on their goals.

engage in email marketing

A newsletter is only one type of marketing email, but creating such emails involve creating content. This may use text, graphics, and other visuals (including videos). An application that can create and schedule newsletters and other marketing emails is an indispensable tool when you want to integrate your content creation with your email and eCommerce marketing plan.

Branding

What is brand strategy? Brand strategy, or branding, means creating a persona that your consumers can identify and associate with. Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon—and the richest man in the world—famously said that branding is “what people say about your business when you’re not in the room.”

To this end, everything about your business should be consistent with your branding, including such things as typefaces and color. Here are a few specific ways to do that.

13. Build a persona

A persona is your brand’s distinctive “flavor” and how it stands out from the rest. Font and color are just the tip of the iceberg, however. Building a distinctive brand personality should involve a consistent design theme, which includes typography and packaging. It will also figure into how your website and marketing strategy will look like.

Brand personality also contributes to other aspects of your business. These include social media channels, customer service, company culture, pricing, and slogans. It will even influence what your storefront looks like if you have a physical location.

IKEA’s distinctive yellow-on-blue storefront is part of its branding.

14. Know your target audience

Understanding your audience and what they need can give you insights on how best to serve them—or which products are going to be a hit. For example, you wouldn’t want to sell a gaming console to an audience of 60-year-olds. It will also help you tailor your approach to one that they can appreciate and identify with.

That said, this doesn’t mean you have to know each one of them. Categorizing them into several cohorts or demographics is a start. You can use software tools to analyze their behavior and generate reports on their buying patterns and draw up a strategy from there. The more comprehensive the data, the better you can retool your approach.

15. Tell a story

Brand storytelling is one of the most effective ways to grab attention. Everyone has a unique story, and brands as well. When you tell the story of your brand and how your audience can be a part of it, it touches a core need of the human psyche—to belong to something that’s greater than them.

Most brands, however, equate brand storytelling with their brand’s history. It’s not. The history of your brand is only part of the story—the reason it exists and its future are also parts of the brand’s story and are even more important. Stories are important because people buy things because of an emotional connection.

Take care; however, people naturally detect “fake” stories. When you want to tell a story about your brand, make sure it’s true and that it reflects the philosophy of your brand.

16. Sponsor an event or trade show

Showing up at an event, especially trade shows, gives an opportunity for a big ROI. After all, if over 80% of attendees have buying power, you would want to tap into their tendency to buy just by being there. And even if they didn’t (or won’t, at the moment), attendees represent leads for exhibitors.

Sponsor an event or trade show

Plus, trade shows—a subset of event marketing, which we previously talked about here—are great ways for businesses to be in contact with one another and get value from this partnership. As companies in one trade often share an overlapping market, it’s a good way to show off your brand personality by outshining others or at least by being distinct from other brands.

17. Personalization

Allowing your customers to personalize and customize your products to their needs is a good way to make your brand distinctive. It gives your brand a more active and dynamic role in people’s lives because your products have meaning to them. In addition, personalized products evoke a feeling of individuality that they can associate with your brand, which would set you apart from run-of-the-mill retailers that offer a one-size-fits-all approach.

Personalization should not override your brand theme, however. While it’s a good way to make waves, personalization should give users simply a template to use your brand’s personality to fit their lifestyle—not change it completely.

Nike By You is a personalization program by Nike that allows you to customize the design of your sneakers.

18. Align your product names and descriptions

A name is an anchor to your consumers’ minds. Most often, a name already gives them an idea of what the product is for and what it can do, which is why product naming is one of the hardest things to do when building an eCommerce brand.

While there are whole studies on how to make the best product name, it can be condensed to one simple tip: make the product name describe what it does. Product names and descriptions should naturally be consistent with your branding and simultaneously reflect the product and its goal. For example, avoid Scandinavian-sounding names for a Japanese brand, or a quirky, informal copy for a luxury wristwatch.

Social media

Marketing on social media is a must in today’s eCommerce environment. It allows you to communicate with your customers and your industry quickly and stay on top of developing trends even before they happen. Social media also allows you to boost interaction and engagement, redirect traffic to your website, and expand your audience.

Top Businesses Benefits of Social Media Marketing

93%

Exposure

87%

More Traffic

74%

Generated Leads

72%

Enhanced Sales

Source: Social Media Examiner (2019)

Designed by

Still, some businesses encounter pitfalls when marketing their business on social media. Here are a few ways to make your efforts bear fruit.

19. Automate your social network

Let’s face it. We don’t have the time to make all social media content ourselves. Automation takes the stress and work off your shoulders because it allows you to schedule content and plan ahead. This is especially useful for a brand with a lot of contributors, as you can queue their content as they come in so you’d have a steady, fresh supply of posts.

Still, time the posts right. You don’t necessarily have to post every day, but regularly. Make sure your posts are consistent with your branding, as well. You can also consult the best days and times to post on social media, but some social media tools also have this feature built-in.

20. Create discussions

Creating a buzz on discussion forums is similar to talking on social media, but in forums, the goal is to discuss, not to promote. If your eCommerce platform supports a discussion board, take advantage of it and engage your customers. If you can’t do this yourself, hire a community manager, whose main role is to represent the brand in an online forum.

Otherwise, finding forums about your industry is a start, and engage people who talk about a product. You can even host an AMA (ask me anything) thread on Reddit, one of the biggest online forums on the internet.

21. Utilize influencers

Most eCommerce startups often look to influencers as a launchpad to make their brand known in as little time as possible. This is a wise idea, as influencers already have an engaged audience that you can only benefit from.

Don’t look for the biggest influencer you can find, but start with those who are already in your field. An influencer that has a presence in multiple channels is ideal, but it’s alright if you find an influencer in the core social network that you want to focus on. Keep in mind that working with influencers is a two-way street; you can give them a positive mention on your channel, and they’d be likely to share your opinion with their followers.

22. Host contests

People are naturally competitive, and there are few feelings in the world that can give your audience a rush more than winning something. A contest or giveaway is one way to do so, which gives you a temporary boost in engagement. And, who knows, some people will likely stick around even after the contest in anticipation of your next giveaway.

Start by setting your goals, what kind of contest you would like, and the conditions for winning. A good way to do so is a “lottery” mechanic, where an entry may involve a share, a comment, or an email. Some businesses, however, use a more creative approach, such as submissions, but the “lottery” style is more prevalent as it gives your brand an instant increase in traffic.

23. Use social media ads

Most social networks offer different types of ads and price them accordingly. Pick one that makes the most sense to your eCommerce situation. Most of all, choose a type that you think will strike a chord with your audience. It won’t do to have a pure-text ad or a pure-graphic ad; make sure the ad will resonate with your target users.

Facebook is the biggest social media network, which makes its audience diverse. This platform is a good place to start a paid social campaign in general terms. If you want to fine-tune your ad to appeal to a certain demographic, however, you should look at each network’s audience. Data from the Pew Research Center shows, for example, younger users often use Snapchat and Instagram, while there are more female users on Pinterest than elsewhere.

24. Rely on analytics

Marketers analyze every key metric, and social media shouldn’t be an exception. Most social networks offer analytics or data to businesses, so you’d have an idea of how customers view or receive a post. Analytics can give you an insight over what kind of engagement with your social media followers is effective.

Some data are more relevant to your business than others, or more relevant to a campaign you’re running. Filter the data that’s more important to you and start from there.

The Facebook analytics dashboard.

User value

Finally, user value is an important part of eCommerce. Customers buy things because they expect that the item will benefit them. In the same vein, making your eCommerce website give value to your customers as they experience your website incentivizes them to stay longer and nudges them toward a checkout aisle. Here are some ways you can impart value.

25. Expanded delivery options

At its core, eCommerce means ordering a product online that will be delivered later to your home. Time, then, is a huge factor, and it’s increasingly becoming the most crucial in any eCommerce business. A study found that user expectation for delivery times has shrunk by two days from 2012 to 2018.

Expanded delivery options

Amazon Prime is a good example of an eCommerce business with expanded delivery options. Customers have the option to get their items more quickly—sometimes the next day. While it’s unrealistic for any eCommerce business to compete with this juggernaut, offering other delivery options to sweeten the deal—such as free shipping—will often go a long way to assuage customers’ concerns on delivery times.

26. The importance of user reviews

People do not buy a product with no reviews, and neither will they try it. Making your product appear in Google product listing ads and using software to make their ratings and “stars” visible are great ways to address this conundrum.

In your store pages, making user reviews and ratings visible can give you, if nothing else, a sense of transparency and honesty. Allow your users to filter products by review and ratings and urge them to leave feedback for those they have purchased using retargeting tools. Enable a “mark reviews as helpful” feature, which can add to the interactivity of your site and make it look more community-driven and dynamic.

27. Draw up a referral program

Referrals, when done correctly, can snowball your sales by rewarding people who can network for you. And this is a win-win situation for both parties. A study by Nielsen revealed that people are four times more likely to buy when they’re referred by a friend.

Make your referral easy and—most of all, fun—to engage in. Some companies even gamify their referral programs, with the referrer getting increasingly more attractive perks and rewards as they refer more people to the network. Much like your branding efforts, a referral program is only limited by your imagination.

28. Customer support is always a good idea

These days, customer support isn’t just about having a customer service email or a social media presence. People want their questions answered right when they need it, and waiting for a few days for a representative to respond is out of the question.

Live support or live chat is a step in the right direction. While email is still the preferred channel of communication for support queries, a customer that gets instant answers—from a human—is a happy customer. And happy customers are the difference between you and a competitor.

Plus, live support doesn’t just mean a ready rep to answer customer concerns or complaints. It can also mean training materials, such as webinars, and other helpful documentation and FAQs.

29. UX is the X factor

UX, or user experience, is one of the most powerful drivers of web design nowadays. While UI and UX often have some overlaps, UX is more concerned about how the users feel as they navigate a website. In most senses of the word, UX focuses on how easy, intuitive, and even enjoyable the website’s design is.

UX is the X factor

A UX designer often looks at certain factors when making a website: how the layout conveys feelings, how the design provides value, how convenient it is, and how much it reduces cognitive load. User feedback can also give you insights into the UX design’s success. And a successful UX design invariably means a successful website, as focusing on your UX goals means you’re valuing your customer experience and their experience with your brand as a whole.

30. Deals and promos

Similar to giveaways, deals, and promos impart user value in the sense that you’re rewarding your customers with discounts or offers because of their loyalty. Before you slash your prices, however, know what you want to achieve with a promo. Is it to reward your customers for repeated patronage? Is it to draw in more customers? Or is it to attract customers who have lapsed?

Timing is also everything in terms of deals. Some eCommerce businesses use promos to stimulate business during slow days or even to pilfer customers from competitors. As such, know what you want to accomplish beforehand and use promotions strategically, not simply because you can.

An eCommerce strategy for the new decade

Marketing for eCommerce takes a lot of hustle and creative, lateral thinking. It involves making an inclusive strategy that draws from several disciplines, including SEO, content, and branding. As such, it means eCommerce is becoming more mature, as the strategies for this industry is almost identical to marketing strategies for any kind of established, brick-and-mortar store.

A resource that can help you unify your marketing efforts and help you pave a roadmap is thus a huge boon to all your efforts. For example, one of the best such tools in the market, Wix, can help you do just that. Wix is a website builder with an integrated eCommerce module, so the website you make comes ready to sell to your customers. It isn’t just that, however, as it comes with powerful functionalities while giving you the ability to create web pages without coding experience.

If you’re interested in giving Wix a try, you can sign up for a free trial here.

Otherwise, you can also find marketing tools useful for an overarching marketing strategy. You can find our list of marketing software reviews here to find one that complements and augments your grand vision for your eCommerce website.

By Nestor Gilbert

Senior writer for FinancesOnline. If he is not writing about the booming SaaS and B2B industry, with special focus on developments in CRM and business intelligence software spaces, he is editing manuscripts for aspiring and veteran authors. He has compiled years of experience editing book titles and writing for popular marketing and technical publications.

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