- Ecommerce is booming, with nearly $4 trillion in annual global ecommerce sales.
- Well-defined, effective ecommerce marketing strategies are critical to help you capture market share.
- The best ecommerce marketing strategies utilize a variety of channels and tactics to produce a 360 degree approach.
In terms of ecommerce marketing, it’s the best of times and the worst of times for established brands.
Ecommerce sales growth
On the one hand, online shopping continues to grow at a staggering pace. Its growth is being fueled by shifting consumer behavior due to a global pandemic as well as increased investment in sophisticated ecommerce marketing strategies.
Experts estimate that global ecommerce sales topped $3.9 trillion in 2020. Through the first three quarters of 2020, U.S. ecommerce sales reached $546.62 billion online, up 32.6% over the same period in 2019. The nine-month U.S. ecommerce growth rate is the highest percentage ever recorded for the period over the past two decades.
Brands with the best ecommerce marketing strategies will continue to grow market share into the future. On that note, here are 20 ways to increase ecommerce sales.
On the other hand, there are plenty of challenges. The Google vs Amazon battle continues to rage as the giants compete for ecommerce dominance.
In addition, the barrier to entry is lower for businesses wielding an effective SEO marketing strategy. Disruptors have siphoned market share in just about every retail category, from eyeglasses to mattresses to skin care.
Rental and subscription models are also enabling many newcomers to steal market share. (Rent the Runway alone has a market valuation of $800 million.) Platforms like Shopify and BigCommerce allow a business to set up a new online store quickly and easily. In addition, online marketplaces like eBay allow individuals to sell and resell personal possessions.
As a result, the online ecommerce landscape is flooded with competition, making it much harder for established ecommerce businesses to stand out.
Read on, and uncover 17 ecommerce marketing strategies that help you to capture new customers and keep existing customers coming back again and again.
Planning your ecommerce marketing strategy
Before we talk specific strategies, we need a carefully thought-out, well-integrated marketing framework. You need to be able to utilize multiple channels and tactics for a 360 degree marketing approach that achieves maximum impact.
One way to win is to adopt a marketing “Jiu Jitsu” mindset. In other words, attack where your competitors are weak to gain a competitive advantage. To do this, do a competitive analysis and look for multiple areas of opportunity.
Go through the shopping process on their sites and look for areas of strength and weakness. Sign up for their emails and use the Facebook Ad Library to review their ads. Use an SEO tool like Ahrefs or SEMrush to get a snapshot of the keywords they’re ranking for and places where you might be able to steal search traffic.
Once you have clarity regarding the competitive landscape, plan which ecommerce marketing methods you’ll make your top priorities. Then, double down on them. In parallel, plan on running experiments so that you’re always learning and exploring new opportunities for organic growth.
Finally, bring your plan together in the form of a marketing calendar. As a result, you’ll be able to work on initiatives in advance, set the proper budget, and assign the right team members. This type of integrated marketing approach aligns departments to maximize impact.
17 Best ecommerce marketing strategies
Now let’s talk about the best ecommerce marketing strategies that can significantly boost your sales and bring in a flood of new customers. We’ll talk about different marketing channels like search engine optimization, email marketing and more.
A clear ecommerce marketing plan will help you to outmaneuver competitors, whether traditional competition, disruptors, subscription-based services, rental services, other alternative retail models, or otherwise.
1. Optimize your ecommerce website with SEO
One of the most effective ecommerce marketing strategies to spur growth is to optimize your website for organic search traffic. When individuals search for products online, they typically turn to Google. In fact, close to half of all product searches (46%) start with Google. When you look at those searching for a product without a specific brand in mind (those most receptive to learning about brands and their alternatives), that percentage increases.
How do you get your brand in front of all of these online shoppers? Develop a comprehensive ecommerce SEO strategy!
How effective is SEO as an ecommerce marketing strategy? One of our ecommerce clients went from zero traffic at launch to 1,532,000+ in monthly organic traffic within 15 months. The brand now has a valuation of over $1.5 billion.
Unlike PPC, Adwords and Google Shopping, investments in enterprise-level SEO compound over time. So, instead of driving traffic to just one page, many landing pages across your website benefit from the overall lift.
Here are just a few quick tips from our SEO checklist.
- Ensure all important pages are indexed by Google.
- Build a logical website architecture that’s three clicks deep.
- Improve page load time.
- Use short, SEO-friendly URLs that contain keywords.
- Address duplicate content.
- Implement structured data.
- Ensure all pages are mobile-friendly.
- Fix broken links.
Ecommerce SEO: An Advanced Guide
2. Optimize your category pages
In addition to optimizing your site as a whole, you also need to optimize your category pages. This is especially important for ecommerce. Your category pages are an opportunity to target broad search terms with a high search volume and should be thoroughly optimized for these terms.
What are the best ways to do this?
It starts with creating unique category pages and making them easy to find. Avoid combining multiple categories into a single page and avoid creating category pages with similar or duplicate content.
Use short, descriptive URLs that contain the primary keyword, as well as subcategory folders in your URLs. Your page title and meta descriptions should be optimized with keywords for Google search. But, they should also use enticing language that encourages users to click-through from the search engine results pages (SERP).
Only use one H1 tag on a page and use internal links appropriately. And make sure that your category pages contain actual content, not just products. If you want to rank for relevant keywords then integrating high-quality content to your category pages is a good bet.
For a detailed walk-through of category page optimization, read our post on category page optimization.
Major SEO Ecommerce Category Page Mistakes to Avoid
3. Optimize your product pages
Ecommerce marketing strategies also need to cover the bottom of the funnel. And to that end, optimizing your product pages is essential for pulling in bottom of the funnel traffic. These customers already know what they want and are ready to make the final decision.
For an in-depth guide, check out our post on ecommerce product page SEO. Here are several key takeaways from that article:
- Use SEO-friendly URLs that contain the primary keyword.
- Write title tags that are both SEO-friendly and enticing to consumers.
- Write compelling meta descriptions that contain your keyword.
- Use keywords in H1 tags for both website visitors and search engines.
- Write unique product descriptions.
- Craft content that resonates with your target personas.
- Avoid duplicate content.
- Use high quality product images with proper alt tags.
- Offer similar product suggestions.
- Include product reviews or testimonials.
- Ensure pages load quickly.
- Use structured data to capture rich snippets.
- Optimize for mobile devices.
4. Amplify content marketing with a blog
Content marketing and blogging are a vital part of a successful ecommerce marketing strategy. Content marketing is the process of creating high-quality, extremely valuable content and then distributing it to a wider audience. It can include blogging, but isn’t limited to it. Podcasts, videos, webinars, infographics, lookbooks, and social media can also be a part of your content marketing arsenal.
Why are content marketing and blogging so effective? Several reasons. First, they allow you to target important keywords that might not fit naturally on product or category pages. Blogging enables you to create long-form content, which performs exceptionally well in organic search. An SEMrush study of 700,000+ articles found that articles with 3,000+ words generate 3X more traffic, 4X more shares, and 3.5X more backlinks than short-form content.
Second, content marketing and blogging allow you to speak directly to the problems your customers are dealing with and provide them with helpful solutions. This translates into stronger customer relationships and higher conversion rates. The right content can lead to greater brand love and loyalty.
Benefits of content marketing
Patagonia knows about the benefits of content marketing and has an entire section of their website dedicated to inspirational stories, guides, and videos.
And what’s key is to create content that your audience will find magical. It’s not about talking about your products. It’s about connecting with your audience.
For example, Patagonia tells the story of how it invented fleece together with Malden Mills (now Polartec) and often delivers wisdom from runners, climbers, swimmers, mountain bikers, and others committed to the sanctity of the outdoors. The brand has an entire section on its website dedicated to environmental activism, including 48 films.
5. Optimize for voice search
Since the introduction of Siri, voice search usage has risen at a stratospheric rate. It’s estimated that by 2022, voice search will account for a staggering $40 billion in retail sales in the United States and UK. In light of this, it’s essential that you optimize your site for voice search in order to capitalize on this growing area of ecommerce.
Here are some simple, yet effective voice search SEO tactics.
- Create short, succinct answers to questions.
- Use conversational, long-tail keywords that reflect how people actually talk.
- Keep content simple and complicated words that confuse voice assistants.
- Focus on implementing page speed improvements. Voice search is like a conversation, so your pages must be quick or Google won’t select them.
6. Engage in influencer marketing
Influencer marketing is a powerful ecommerce marketing strategy because it enables you to tap into a specific audience through someone with exceptionally strong bonds of trust in the community. It’s especially potent when introducing new products.
And the good news is that you don’t have to sell lifestyle products to benefit from influencer marketing. There are influencers in just about every industry, from pets to DIY to beauty to cars. Some have enormous audiences and others have smaller, more targeted groups of followers.
A platform like Terakeet’s Chorus can help you find influencers in your niche and then partner with them to create powerful campaigns that generate significant exposure.
The process works in reverse as well. Tap influencers to help you brainstorm creative ideas upstream through platforms like Perlu. Influencers have their finger on the pulse of what their audiences like and respond to. They can therefore be effectively utilized in the planning process just as effectively as in campaign execution.
7. Go all in on social media
With billions of people using social media every month, it’s an obviously effective area of digital marketing to connect with your target audience and generate more revenue.
The first step is to identify which platforms your target audience use most. If you sell primarily to Boomers, Facebook is probably your best bet. For Millennials and Gen Z, you may want to focus more on Instagram and TikTok. If your customer base is made up primarily of women, Pinterest is a solid choice.
The key to succeeding with social media marketing is creating authentic connections with your followers. Respond to their comments, help them solve problems, be entertaining, be captivating, etc. Don’t just pump out content without engaging. Social media is a two-way street.
Which brands are totally nailing it with social media as a key ingredient in their ecommerce marketing strategies? Glossier, H&M, Chanel, Lowe’s, Target, Gymshark, and Nike, to name a few.
8. Feature user-generated content (UGC)
User-generated content is a powerful form of social proof. It shows people using and enjoying your products out in the wild. People may not always trust what you have to say about your products, but they’ll certainly trust what actual customers have to say.
According to a study of 200,000 ecommerce stores, users who interact with UGC are 161% more likely to convert!
How can you encourage more UGC as a key component among your ecommerce marketing strategies? Some simple ways include:
- Ask current customers to take photos of themselves using your products and tag your business.
- Create a #hashtag around your products and encourage customers to use it when talking about them.
- Repost positive comments made by customers that might otherwise not get seen.
- Conduct a competition for UGC following a specific theme.
Now, obviously you need to be smart about how you feature UGC. If it comes across as too self-serving or braggy, people won’t want to do it. Do it in such a way that you’re expressing gratefulness to customers rather than bragging about yourself.
Wayfair, which is adept at UGC as well as social marketing, encouraged customers to snap photos of products they had purchased and share them on Instagram with the hashtag #WayfairAtHome. They then shared select photos on their own Instagram account and shared more than 1,400 of the photos on their website.
9. Generate word-of-mouth (WOM) marketing
Few things generate more buzz than word-of-mouth marketing. In fact, WOM is the most trusted form of promotion, trusted by 86% of consumers. And those who purchase from you through WOM tend to spend 200% more than the average customer.
But how do you actually implement WOM marketing?
It starts with creating an outstanding customer experience from start to finish. This includes selling great products, but also extends to the shopping experience itself and the ultimate fulfillment of the order and the post-sale experience. When you create this kind of amazing experience, customers will tell their friends and family.
Think of Nordstrom and its famously amazing customer service. There are literally books written about the magic of Nordstrom’s exceptional customer service.
Once this fundamental pillar is in place, you can begin to think of other creative ways to generate WOM, such as:
- Creating a referral program that rewards your brand ambassadors
- Highlighting customer reviews on your website
- Sending products to influencers without requesting anything in return
- Create an online community
- Rallying around a social cause, much like TOMS has done by supplying close to 100 million shoes and how Bombas has donated more than 35 million pairs of socks to those in need
- Creating unique content that helps you stand out in your industry (think Dollar Shave Club’s iconic “Our Blades Are F****** Great” video).
10. Include a keyword-driven FAQ section on your website
When thinking of effective ecommerce marketing strategies, many marketers forget the importance of a keyword-driven FAQ. An FAQ area in your website allows you to quickly answer questions and overcome objections that potential customers might have. When creating your FAQ, think in terms of common keywords and questions people might search. Tap your customer support team to uncover the common questions being asked.
For example, if your company is named “Cool Clothing”, there’s a good chance people will be searching for branded terms that include:
- Return policy
- Pay later options
- Customer service
- Product warranty
- Gift cards
- Choosing the right size
By building your FAQ section around relevant keywords, you open up new SEO traffic opportunities. In addition, you make it easy for people to find answers with a quick search, which reduces friction in the shopping process.
11. Create product-related videos
Unlike brick-and-mortar retail, ecommerce customers can’t physically touch products. This can create uncertainty in the shopping process.
When thinking about your ecommerce sales strategies, videos can fill an important gap. Creating product-related videos can reduce consumer uncertainty and help customers understand your products in greater detail.
Shoot high-quality videos showing the different ways your product can be used. Show off the best features and answer common questions. If possible, show your products in action by actual consumers.
When thinking of product videos, get creative! Don’t stop at product overviews. For example, showcase unboxing events of your products (obviously these will need to be user- or influencer-created):
Or, think of topics that your audience would be wildly interested in. Here’s a video from REI exploring all the different ways to make coffee while backpacking that’s generated over 70 thousand views:
Alternatively, you can provide a behind-the-scenes view of the product story:
12. Invest in live chat
There is a significant portion of your customers, especially those who are younger, who want immediate answers to questions but don’t want to make a phone call or send an email. Millennials and Gen Z communicate primarily through text and chat apps. They only make phone calls if absolutely necessary.
Overall, 38% of consumers surveyed are more likely to buy from a website if it offers live chat. On the retailer side, 79% of businesses surveyed claim that offering live chat has increased online sales, revenue, and customer loyalty.
In light of this, having a live chat option on your ecommerce site can be one of your most effective ecommerce marketing strategies. It allows you to provide instant customer service to those who don’t want to wait for an email response but also don’t want to get on the phone and be put on hold.
Live chat is one more way of providing your customers with a great experience from start to finish.
13. Improve ecommerce conversion rate optimization
If you’re not investing in CRO, you’re literally leaving money on the table. When you increase your conversion rate, you can extract more revenue from existing traffic. This revenue can then be invested in acquiring more traffic, which then converts at a higher rate, which generates more revenue, etc. CRO is a flywheel for your marketing efforts.
And the reality is that increasing your conversion rate by even a small amount can turn into huge increases in revenue.
For example, say that your site gets an average of 20 million visitors with a 4% conversion rate, for monthly revenue of $40 million. If you can increase your conversion rate by just 1%, your annual revenue increases to $600 million, an incremental increase of $120 million.
For more tips, read our complete ecommerce conversion rate optimization guide.
14. Implement abandoned cart sequences
As with CRO, if you’re not using abandoned cart sequences, you’re letting revenue slip through your fingers. A consumer was in the checkout process and just on the verge of purchasing from you. All they need to finalize the purchase after shopping cart abandonment is a little nudge from you in the form of an email sequence.
Eighty-three percent of consumers are willing to share their data to enable a more personalized experience. And data shows that abandoned cart emails really do have a big impact. Customers who receive multiple abandoned cart emails are 2.4X more likely to finish their purchase than those who only get a single email.
Here’s a simple sequence to retarget customers who didn’t complete a purchase:
- Few hours after abandonment – Reminder of abandoned cart and encouragement to finish purchase before stock runs out
- 24 hours after abandonment – Final opportunity to buy before the cart expires
- 2 days after abandonment – Social proof / education
- 4 days after abandonment – Offer limited time discount to incentivise purchase
- 5 days after abandonment – Last chance to get discount
- Next visit – Use a popup to encourage customers to add abandoned items to their shopping cart
Your sequence doesn’t need to be particularly complicated. Just connect with potential customers and give them a solid reason to complete their purchase.
15. Send personalized emails
Personalized email marketing as part of your ecommerce marketing strategy can make a big difference in whether a person purchases from your brand. Accenture reports that 91% of people are more likely to purchase from companies that communicate with personalized emails.
The simple truth is that customers want to feel a meaningful connection with companies. They don’t want to be treated as just a metric. Personalization strengthens your connection with customers.
Here are several different ways to personalize email campaigns:
- Recommend products based on past shopping behavior.
- Include a person’s name in the subject line.
- Send a special gift or discount on a person’s birthday, anniversary, or other relevant date.
- Segment your email list subscribers by a common grouping, such as age, gender, location, or interest.
- Use behavioral triggers, like when an individual hasn’t purchased from you in a while.
When creating personalized emails, think about ways to foster genuine relationships with your customers.
16. Offer incentives
Incentives can help you stand out from the crowd and give customers the nudge they need to purchase from you. If at all possible, offer free shipping. For good or bad, Amazon has set expectations when it comes to shipping, and customers now expect it.
Beyond that, other incentives include things like:
- Special discounts
- BOGO (buy one, get one free)
- Sneak peek of upcoming products
- Money-back guarantee
- Faster delivery
- Charitable donation
- Gift wrapping
- And many other options
Just be careful when offering incentives that you don’t undercut yourself too much. If you’re constantly offering discounts, you can end up significantly gouging your profits and creating the expectation that your products will always be discounted. Be strategic with the incentives you offer.
17. Offer a loyalty program
The final ecommerce marketing strategy in my list is a loyalty program. Acquiring new customers costs significantly more than retaining existing ones. What’s more, increasing loyalty by as little as 5% can lead to a serious jump in profits.
Amazon Prime is a great example of the power of a loyalty program. The average annual amount spent on Amazon by Prime shoppers is 133% higher than non-Prime shoppers. In addition, more than 45% of Prime members purchase on Amazon at least once a week.
Creating a program that rewards your most loyal shoppers will keep them coming back again and again. As a result, your Customer Lifetime Value (LTV) will be higher, benefitting your entire business.
Think of the above strategies as ecommerce marketing best practices. They’re a recipe for success, but it’s up to you to combine them in a way that makes sense for your business model.
Revisit a section
- Ecommerce sales growth
- Ecommerce challenges
- Planning your ecommerce marketing strategy
- 17 Best ecommerce marketing strategies
- 1. Optimize your ecommerce website with SEO
- 2. Optimize your category pages
- 3. Optimize your product pages
- 4. Amplify content marketing with a blog
- 5. Optimize for voice search
- 6. Engage in influencer marketing
- 7. Go all in on social media
- 8. Feature user-generated content (UGC)
- 9. Generate word-of-mouth (WOM) marketing
- 10. Include a keyword-driven FAQ section on your website
- 11. Create product-related videos
- 12. Invest in live chat
- 13. Improve ecommerce conversion rate optimization
- 14. Implement abandoned cart sequences
- 15. Send personalized emails
- 16. Offer incentives
- 17. Offer a loyalty program