6 Effective eCommerce Marketing Strategies To Grow Your Online Store
If you own an online store, you know how challenging it is to draw traffic to your site. The rising popularity of eCommerce has resulted in more and more sites out there competing for your customers’ attention. And with so much competition, it can be difficult to stand out from the crowd!
Fortunately, it’s still possible to create an online site that attracts great traffic; it just takes a good strategy and a lot of work. In order to succeed in the eCommerce industry, you have to dedicate time and focus on establishing a multi-faceted marketing strategy that includes search engine optimization, social media marketing, email marketing campaigns, and more.
Need help getting started? In this article, we’re including our top six eCommerce marketing strategies. Take a look to see which new methods you can implement for your own online business. Let’s go!
Table of Contents
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Given the fact that 33% of all eCommerce traffic comes from search engine results, you simply can’t ignore the effect that Search Engine Optimization has on your profitability. If you want to draw new customers to your site, it’s crucial that your site has good SEO.
Unfortunately, SEO is one of the most difficult techniques to do well. Thanks to Google’s ever-changing algorithm, it can be difficult to identify which strategies will be most effective for your site long-term. In this article, we’ll focus on a few strategies that have worked consistently for the past several years, and that you can implement without completely re-designing your site.
Write Custom URLs
Many eCommerce platforms give you the ability to write custom URLs for your products and landing pages. We highly recommend that you take advantage of these tools and create custom URLs for every page of your website.
Try to write URLs that contain relevant keywords. This will help search engines locate matches for specific searches. An additional advantage is that customers are more likely to remember URLs that contain real keywords instead of a series of numbers and letters.
Write Original Meta Tags
Meta tags are page descriptions that help search engines (and potential customers) determine whether your site contains pertinent information. Write meta tags that are a few sentences long and contain keywords. If your meta tags match up with a customer’s Google search, Google will use that meta tag as your page’s snippet (the short paragraph listed in the search results).
Here’s an example of a snippet.
See those bolded words that match the search words? That’s what you want your potential customers to see in your meta tags.
Create Long-Tail Keywords
Writing long-tail keywords is one of the best ways to draw in high-quality traffic. Long-tail keywords are specific keywords that are multiple words long (for example: dog food chihuahua puppies). These keywords are typically less competitive than more general keywords (for example: dog food).
When you use long-tail keywords, you are more likely to rank in search engine results pages. You are also more likely to draw in customers who are actually looking for your products and ready to buy. Say you’re selling a wide variety of vintage shoes. If you use “Suede shoes” as the keyword for one of your products, you’re going to rank very low in search engine results (and the people who end up on your site may not be your target demographic). But, if you write “Suede boat shoes vintage” as your keyword, you’ll not only rank higher, but you’ll also attract the type of person that wants to buy your vintage shoes.
There’s a whole lot more I could say about SEO, but I’ll stop here. If you’re interested in optimizing your site for Google searches, I recommend taking a look at Google’s beginner guide to SEO. It’s got lots of useful tips (written in plain English) and examples that you can use to revamp your SEO.
Social Media Marketing
Social media marketing is one of the fastest-growing marketing strategies today. With over 3.5 billion social media users in the world, social media is a great way to gain an audience for your business.
So, how can you harness the power of social media to direct potential customers to your site? The key is regular, quality interaction.
Stay active on social media. We recommend that you post at least once a day. Some experts recommend that you post even more frequently–up to three times a day. Regardless, the key point is the same: don’t let your page go stagnant for multiple days on end.
Post Relevant Information
Before you submit each post, ask yourself if the post has value for your audience. Each video, image, and blog you share should connect with your customers. They should find it useful, informative, and entertaining. They should not feel like they are being coerced into buying your products.
SnapRetail advises a 60/30/10 rule for posting on Facebook. 60% of your posts should be resources for your customers (if you sell children’s shoes, perhaps a video explaining how to determine shoe size). 30% of your posts should support your brand, whether that’s through pictures of your new products or advertising upcoming sales. And with 10% of your posts, you should share other people’s content. This could be sharing a customer’s post about your product (with their permission), or even promoting another company that offers products that complement your own.
Here’s Snap Retail’s video about their 60/30/10 rule.
Leverage Buy Buttons & Shoppable Posts
“Buy now” tools like embeddable buy buttons and Instagram’s shoppable posts let you easily market your products on social media. By implementing buy buttons and shoppable posts, you let customers view your product on social media, and then easily navigate over to your checkout where they can buy those products!
These strategies make it easier to turn your social media marketing into conversions. Using buy buttons, customers can quickly transition from “liking” a post to actually completing a purchase.
Word-of-mouth has long been the best way to market your products. Customers are far more likely to trust the advice of their friends and family than the ad you posted in the local newspaper (or, in this case, news feed). Leverage word of mouth (and word of keyboard) to further your brand. There are a couple of ways to do this.
Build On Your Current Customer Base
Create a plan for word-of-mouth marketing by encouraging current customers to tell others about your products. Use discounts to incentivize customers to share your products.
Here are a few ways to encourage word-of-mouth marketing in your customer base:
- Ask your customers to share coupons online in return for a 15% discount.
- Include a note in your shipments that encourages customers to post a picture to social media in return for a discount on their next purchase.
- Offer free shipping to customers who refer their friends to your brand.
Considers Sponsoring An Influencer
One of the newest forms of word-of-mouth advertising is influencer marketing. You’ve likely seen plenty of examples of influencer marketing on Instagram and YouTube. In this marketing model, companies hire social media influencers to share their products with followers. Because influencers have often built strong connections with their audiences, many followers feel like they are close friends with their favorite influencers. So, when an influencer recommends a product, it can feel like a recommendation from a trusted friend.
Influencer marketing is a successful strategy for many businesses; 89% of surveyed business owners say that ROI from influencer marketing is comparable to or better than other marketing channels. So how can you get started with influencer marketing? Here are a few simple steps:
- Choose A Platform: You’ll find influencers on every social media platform out there. Consider your brand’s target audience, and look into the social media platforms they use. If you market to Millenials and Generation X, try looking for influencers on Facebook. If you market to Generation Z, look into YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok.
- Find Influencers In Your Niche: The best approach to finding an influencer for your products is to look for someone who shares your audience. Your products will have the biggest impact on followers who are already interested in your niche. Look for someone who shares the same brand values and who interacts with the same customers you are targeting.
- Consider Your Budget: Pricing for influencer marketing posts range dramatically, depending on the type of content you sponsor, as well as the influencer’s current following. Be reasonable with the amount you have to spend on a sponsored post. For example, if you only have a few hundred dollars budgeted, try looking for someone with fewer than 10,000 followers.
- Reach Out With An Offer: Many experienced influencers list contact info for brands within their bio. Look first for formal contact information, and then if you can’t find it, try reaching out in a DM. Express your interest in setting up a partnership, and be specific about what sort of content you’d sponsor and how much you can offer. Be sure to keep your tone professional.
For more information and guidance, we recommend SproutSocial’s article on sponsoring an influencer. In this article, you can find more information on identifying a good influencer for your brand and a few examples of how much you can expect to pay per post.
The goal of content marketing is to create and distribute quality content like blogs, videos, and infographics. Neil Patel is an expert in content marketing and SEO; I like what he says about content marketing:
. . . content marketing is a long-term strategy, based on building a strong relationship with your customers by giving them valuable content on a consistent basis, which is highly relevant to them.
According to Patel, your content should be valuable, consistent, and relevant. These qualities make your content more meaningful to your customers. There are several avenues you can take to create great content. Here are some of the most easily accessible techniques.
Maintain A Quality Blog
Writing a blog is one of the best ways to begin your content marketing campaign. Posting regular blog posts can offer a whole range of benefits to your business. One of the primary benefits is that when you run a quality blog, you give your readers access to free content, and you give them a reason to share your site with others.
In addition, regular blog posts can help get you on the map in terms of SEO. That’s because 1) Blogs create more content for a search engine to grab on to and 2) Your site is viewed more often and therefore, is seen as more relevant.
Fortunately, it doesn’t take much effort to set up a blog. Most website builders have blog capabilities already built-in, and it’s easy to create a WordPress account and link it to your current site. If you choose to use only one form of content marketing, choose to write a blog, even if it’s just for the SEO.
For more information about why you should have a blog (and how to start), check out our article 5 Reasons Why Your Business Should Have A Blog.
Create High-Interest Videos
Videos have a huge impact on customers. According to data from HubSpot, 64% of customers are more likely to buy a product online after watching a video about it.
If it’s within your reach, try your hand at creating videos that market your product. If you can, aim to create a video that appeals to your customers’ sense of humor or sentimentality. Try to entertain instead of just promote.
Here are a few videos to try:
- A how-to video. Show how to use your product or how to solve a related problem.
- A video about the history surrounding your product.
- A video about the science behind your product.
- A video featuring people trying out your product. Reaction videos do well on social media.
Essentially, if you can think of a topic that inspires curiosity, make a video about it. Spend some time cruising through YouTube’s trending videos to find out what format works, then do it yourself.
(If you’re feeling particularly bold, you can take advantage of YouTube Live or Facebook Live. Script your video first, then interact with customers as they comment in real-time.)
Write Relevant eBooks & PDFs
Blogs are great, but they often can’t cover all the nitty-gritty information that your customers may be looking for. Downloadable eBooks and PDFs give your customers the tools they need in an in-depth format.
Just check out this Content Marketing Cheatsheet PDF that I found on Marketo’s site. It’s a handy two-page guide to content marketing that is both useful and easy to read. And although the company that made this PDF isn’t advertising itself in flashing lights, I can easily see at the bottom of the page that the PDF was written by Marketo.
That one logo, combined with rich, useful information, makes me more likely to return to this site, either for more downloadable resources or for their paid services.
(Added bonus: If you ask for your visitors’ email addresses in return for the download, you’ll be able to build up your contact list for your email marketing campaign.)
Email may be phasing out as a means of casual communication, but it’s far from dead. According to data from Campaign Monitor, in 2016 email had an average ROI of $44 for every $1 spent. That’s an incredibly high ROI, and it’s something you should consider as you plan out your marketing strategy!
Take a look below for eight tips to creating a great email marketing campaign:
- Write Attention-Grabbing Subject Lines: Your email’s subject line shouldn’t be exaggerated, but it should show a little personality. Don’t be afraid to include an emoji now and then, just don’t go overboard.
- Be Personal: Personalizing your emails can have a big impact on the success rate of your email. Set up your email marketing software to use your customers’ names within the body of your text, and use customer segmentation to send relevant emails to different customer groups.
- Write Entertaining Emails: Chances are, your customers aren’t as interested in your products as you are. Instead of sending out yet another email about your product’s features, create an email that you know your customer will want to read. Think about who your audience is, and write an email that’s relevant to your customers’ lives.
- Take Advantage Of Auto-Responders: Many email marketing integrations offer auto-responder features (the ability to send an email automatically based on a number of triggers). Program your own auto-responders to send an email when a customer signs up for an email list, when they make a purchase, when an order ships, etc.
- Pay Attention To Readability: No one wants to read a solid brick of text. Break up your messages to make them easier to digest. Use bullet points, color blocks, and buttons to make your emails easier to skim.
- Don’t Forget Mobile Responsive Design: Make sure your emails can be read from all mobile devices.
- Include A Call To Action: The point of the email should be obvious to your customer. If you want them to follow you on social media, include a useful “Follow” button in the email. If you want them to download a PDF eBook, include an attachment. Make it easy for your customer to complete the action you want them to take.
- Conduct A/B Testing: We recommend that you continually use A/B testing in order to discover what drives conversion in your customer groups. A/B testing is when you create two emails and send one email to one half of your customer base, and the other to the second half. Find out which type of email leads to the highest click-through rate and move forward from there.
These are just a few of the basic rules of email marketing. If you’d like to read more about best practices for email marketing campaigns, check out our article How To Create A Successful Email Marketing Strategy For 2020.
Pay-Per-Click (PPC) Ads
Pay Per Click (PPC) ads are another way to draw attention to your products. PPC ads tend to bring in traffic faster that SEO does, but there’s more monetary risk involved.
Using PPC advertising, you place bids on keywords that relate to your products or pages. Bids range from a few cents to over fifty dollars. The more you bid, the higher you’ll rank in a keyword search. But, you pay the amount of your bid every time a browser clicks your product, regardless of whether they make a purchase or not.
So, you should make sure you aren’t just getting a lot of clicks, but that you’re getting clicks that lead to conversions. One of the best online marketing strategies is to create and bid on long-tail keywords. We’ve already talked about long-tail keywords in relation to SEO, and the same goes here. The longer and more specific your keyword is, the more likely it is that the person who clicks your product is also the person who buys your product. Additionally, specific keywords are often associated with lower bids. Save money; use long-tail keywords.
Here are a few additional tips to keep in mind as you create your PPC ads.
- Be Strategic: Look for keywords and categories where you can rank well. You want to appear on the first page of results whenever possible.
- Direct Customers To Your Product Page: Make sure your links lead exactly where customers expect. If you direct your ads anywhere else, you will increase your bounce rate.
- Be Persistent: If you choose to try PPC, give it a fair test run of a few months. It could be that your ads only need a little bit of tweaking to be profitable.
Obviously, there’s a whole lot more to consider when making a decision about PPC ads, including how much you’re willing to spend on each ad and how many products you want to list. You’ll also need to consider which advertiser will host your product (Google AdWords, Microsoft Bing Ads, and Yahoo Search Marketing are among the most popular). But, this should be enough to kickstart your research. For more information on creating a great PPC campaign, check out this article from FreshBooks.
Getting Started With eCommerce Marketing
As you beef up your current marketing strategy, we recommend you try out a few of these eCommerce marketing techniques. Likely, something will catch on, and you’ll start moving product
And when that traffic does roll in, keep at it! Analyze, analyze, analyze, whether that be via built-in sales analytics or integration with Google Analytics (which is free at its lowest tier). Find out what’s working, and use that knowledge to keep crafting a better marketing strategy.
For more information, check out our Guide to Social Media Marketing and our article on How To Create A Successful Email Marketing Strategy For 2020.