Ecommerce Marketing: What You Need to Win in 2021

Jonas Sickler SEO Manager
Key Points
  • Ecommerce marketing is about optimizing the entire shopping experience so customers want to purchase from you again and again.
  • To achieve greater ecommerce marketing results, develop a detailed marketing plan.
  • Align your buyer personas with your target audience and engage with them throughout the customer journey.

How powerful is ecommerce marketing? Let’s look at an example from Brooks, the running gear company.

Brooks Running specializes in running shoes and apparel. But, so do many other online retailers that sell running shoes — including Amazon. So, how does Brooks capture the attention of potential customers?

They deploy smart ecommerce marketing to break through all the noise.

The power of ecommerce marketing

One of the many strategies Brooks uses to connect with customers is their Shoe Finder wizard. The tool seamlessly and intelligently recommends the perfect running shoe with science-backed recommendations. It asks you about your running habits, injury history, joint movements, and comfort preferences to bring warmth and personalization to the digital shopping experience.

brooks shoe finder ecommerce website marketing example

The Shoe Finder is so popular that it earned more than 1,600 backlinks and ranks for more than 2,600 keywords in Google. Related blog posts and support articles add an additional 570 keywords to the list.

The benefits of ecommerce marketing extend beyond SEO, though. One Facebook post about the Shoe Finder garnered 6 million views. When someone on Twitter posted, “I’m also in the market for new running shoes!”, Brooks responded with, “Please visit our shoe finder tool so we can help you find your solemate.” This doesn’t even touch upon the individuals who have pointed others to the tool while engaging on social media, organically spreading the word.

In terms of ecommerce marketing tactics, this one is a winner.

If you want to succeed in selling online, utilize ecommerce website marketing creatively. Doing so allows you to stand out from the crowd, attract new customers, and turn existing customers into advocates.

Keep reading, and uncover what you need to know about ecommerce marketing to win in 2021.

WHAT IS ECOMMERCE MARKETING?

Ecommerce marketing is the process of attracting people to your website, convincing them to make an initial purchase, and then retaining those customers so that they continue to purchase from you.

It’s important to note that ecommerce marketing goes far beyond simply getting people to your site. It’s also about optimizing the entire online shopping experience so that customers want to purchase from you again and again. The ideal ecommerce website marketing creates an army of brand advocates.

HOW TO CREATE AN ECOMMERCE MARKETING PLAN

If you want your marketing to succeed, you should have a well-defined plan. Without one, you’ll end up wasting money and missing out on potential customers. 

Follow these five steps to create a powerful, effective marketing plan for your ecommerce business:

1. Set goals and objectives

To start, you need to clearly define your goals and objectives. If you don’t, you won’t know whether your marketing efforts are actually working. 

Obviously, your ultimate goal is to increase revenue and profits, but when setting your goals, think more specifically. After all, there are numerous ways to increase ecommerce sales. Consider goals like:

  • Getting more organic search traffic
  • Improving your conversion rate
  • Increasing Customer Lifetime Value (LTV)
  • Lowering Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC)
  • Acquiring customers through new marketing channels

Define specific targets within specific timeframes (e.g., a 25% increase in winter apparel sales in Q1).

Take the time to look at your analytics and see where there are opportunities for organic growth. Look at key metrics like organic search traffic, conversion rates, average order value, and repeat purchase frequency to identify where you’re underperforming, and then set specific goals to improve those metrics.

Read more about how to fuel organic growth here.

2. Identify Your Target Audience

For your ecommerce marketing to succeed, know your target audience. You need a clear understanding of who your ideal customer is so that you can use the most effective marketing strategies and channels accordingly. 

Describe your target audience in a single sentence. For example, if you sell organic baby food, you could say, “Our target audience is affluent, health-minded young moms in the U.S. who want to feel good about what their babies eat.”

young hip mom with baby

This exercise forces you to get crystal clear about who you’re serving and how you’re serving them. 

Depending on what you sell, it is likely that you have several target audience segments. For example, if you are a coffee roaster, you might sell directly to consumers as well as to coffee shops. Try to narrow down your target audience as much as possible without excluding any key customer types.

3. Create buyer personas

After you identify the target audience for your ecommerce marketing strategy, you need to create a buyer persona for each segment. Buyer personas help you put flesh and bones on the people in your target audiences. They help you more clearly understand your ideal customers so that you can more effectively market to them. 

Consider the following attributes as you build your personas.


  • Age
  • Gender
  • Marital status
  • Income
  • Geographic location
  • Aspirations
  • Who they admire
  • Profession
  • Goals 
  • Pain Points
  • Who they dislike
  • Their influences
  • Media they consume
  • Products desired
  • Features desired

4. Map the customer journey

The customer journey is all the brand touchpoints and interactions an individual has with your company from start to finish. It includes everything from their identification of a problem or need. It then extends to their initial research on a topic to the first time they visit your site to their first purchase to repeat purchases. 

Mapping the customer journey helps you see things through the eyes of your audience. You discover what motivates them to take action in the first place and what challenges they encounter during the buying experience. You learn where they turn for information and what questions they have along the way. 

And perhaps most importantly, you identify all the different touchpoints where you interact with customers, such as your ecommerce website, social media, organic search, advertising, events, etc. You can then optimize each touchpoint, giving customers exactly what they need to move on to the next touchpoint in the journey.

5. Calculate your customer lifetime value

Customer Lifetime Value (LTV) is the amount of revenue a customer brings in over the lifetime of your relationship with them. It includes both the initial purchase and any subsequent purchases they make from you.

LTV is a critical metric in ecommerce marketing for several reasons:

  • It determines how much you can spend on customer acquisition. The higher your LTV, the more you can afford to spend getting new customers.
  • It helps you identify your most profitable customer segments. By calculating the LTV of your different customer segments, you can find the most profitable ones and then focus on acquiring and retaining more of those types of customers.
  • It helps you evaluate your customer retention efforts. If your LTV is low, it means your retention strategy is ineffective and needs to be revamped.
  • It allows you to measure marketing ROI. If you want to see exactly how well you’re marketing is working, simply compare your LTV to your Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC). The lower the ratio, the more ineffective your marketing.
Advanced Ecommerce SEORead Terakeet’s Advanced Guide to Ecommerce SEO, and Learn to Drive More Organic Traffic and Sales.Read More

ECOMMERCE MARKETING CHANNELS

The next step in mapping out your ecommerce marketing is to determine which channels you’ll use, including digital marketing channels. Your choice of channels should be in line with the customer buying journey. You want to be present at each step of the journey, providing them the information they need to move to the next step.

Organic search is a powerful ecommerce marketing channel. Forty-six percent (46%) of new product searches begin with a Google search, 32% of online shoppers use Google to check reviews, and 36% use search engines to check prices. If your ecommerce site isn’t optimized for organic search, you’re missing out on significant amounts of traffic. 

Plus, organic search is a cost-effective way to cover the entire funnel. Whereas marketing tactics such as paid search are mostly relegated to the bottom of the funnel for cost reasons, SEO helps you connect with your audience no matter their spot in the funnel. Search engine optimization allows you to attract a steady stream of traffic to your ecommerce store without needing to constantly dump more money into ads. 

Content marketing

Content marketing, particularly blogging, is the perfect complement to SEO in your ecommerce marketing mix. Identify long-tail keywords and develop content that connects with customers at each stage of the buying journey. 

For example, if you sell men’s grooming products, you could create a long-form guide about how to get the perfect shave while promoting it both through a landing page and your blog. This will help those who are in the research stage of the journey and can move them one step closer to purchasing from you. 

Content marketing uniquely allows you to answer customer questions, solve problems, and be helpful in ways that go beyond a simple FAQ page. One of the many benefits of content marketing are stronger bonds with your customers which translates to higher conversion rates and a greater LTV.

Referral marketing

Few things in ecommerce marketing are more powerful than referral marketing. People might not believe what you have to say about your own products, but they’ll certainly believe what friends and family have to say. 

As Nielsen notes, 92% of people trust recommendations made by friends or family more than any kind of advertising.

Creating a referral, ambassador, or loyalty program is a great way to reward your most loyal customers and leverage the influence they have with other people. 

Julep, a monthly beauty subscription box company, offers customers a $15 credit for every person they refer.

julep ecommerce marketing example

iPhone case maker Peel let’s customers give their friends 20% off all products and rewards the customers with a 30% discount.

Referral marketing simultaneously allows you to attract new customers and retain existing customers by offering both a reward. 

Email marketing for ecommerce businesses

Email marketing is still as powerful as ever, generating an astonishing 3,800% ROI for every dollar spent. What’s more, 59% of consumers say that emails influence their purchase decisions. So if you’re not investing in email campaigns, you’re leaving money on the table. 

Due to its versatility, email marketing is particularly valuable for ecommerce. You can slice and dice your list into all sorts of customer segments and then send emails that are hyper-relevant to those segments, such as:

  • Welcome to first-time buyers
  • Sequences for shopping cart abandonment
  • Discounts on special days (birthday, etc.)
  • Win-back sequences
  • Select products back in stock

Ecommerce email marketing enables you to serve the right content to the right people at the right time.

Social media marketing for ecommerce

Having a presence on social media is a must as part of your ecommerce marketing mix. Unlike most marketing channels, it allows you to have real-time authentic conversations with customers and strengthen your relationships with them.

Consistent engagement is the key to success with social media. It’s a two way street. Answer questions, respond to comments, solve problems, and consistently add value to your followers.

Shoe company TOMS invited customers to snap photos of their bare feet and use the hashtag #withoutshoes. For every person that did this, they would donate a pair of shoes to someone in need, up to 100,000 pairs.

toms ecommerce marketing campaign on instagram

Not only did this create connections between the company and their customers, it also generated exposure for the brand across social media. 

Paid advertising

Paid advertising can be an effective way to generate quick bursts of targeted traffic. While SEO is a more cost-effective long term strategy, paid advertising like PPC is useful for quickly getting your brand in front of highly targeted audiences.

For example, if you’re running a limited time sale or are launching a new product, paid advertising can provide a targeted promotional boost to the efforts. 

Generate Greater Ecommerce SalesTerakeet Helps You Drive More Qualified Traffic to Your Site.Learn More

TOP ECOMMERCE MARKETING STRATEGIES

Now, let’s talk about the best ecommerce marketing strategies to help your online store win in 2021. 

Invest in ecommerce SEO

Among all the ecommerce marketing tips we’ll cover, investing in ecommerce SEO should be highest on your priority list. Although it takes longer to see results than paid advertising, it’s worth the investment. Google’s Economic Impact Report states that the ROI of SEO is 5.3X (compared to merely 2X for paid search).

Site-wide optimization includes tactics such as improving page load time, implementing a logical architecture, and ensuring that all your pages are appropriately indexed. Beyond this, focus on optimizing your category and product pages:

  • Use concise, SEO-friendly URLs that contain the primary keyword
  • Write title tags that are both SEO-friendly and enticing to consumers
  • Write meta descriptions that compel people to click
  • Use H1 tags that make it clear what the page contains and attract customers
  • Write unique product descriptions 
  • Craft content that resonates with your target personas
  • Avoid duplicate content as much as possible
  • Use high-quality product images with proper alt text
  • Offer similar product suggestions
  • Include product reviews
  • Use structured data to capture rich snippets
  • Optimize for mobile devices

Optimize your ecommerce conversion rate

Ecommerce conversion rate optimization allows you to squeeze more revenue out of your existing traffic. This increases the ROI of your marketing efforts and the total Customer Lifetime Value. Increased LTV means you can afford to spend more on customer acquisition, which can be a decisive competitive advantage.

And the truth is that small increases in conversion rate can lead to outsized jumps in revenue. For example, say a particular page converts at 3% and generates $100,000 in monthly revenue. Doubling your conversion rate to 6% literally delivers an incremental $100,000 each month, or $1.2 million annually. Now imagine making similar optimizations across multiple product pages. The increase in revenue would be substantial.

Partner with influencers

influencer marketing

Influencer marketing helps you get your product in front of audiences and demographics you wouldn’t have access to otherwise. Moreover, influencer endorsements carry significant weight with their followers.

What’s more, you don’t need a massive budget to use influencer marketing. In fact, micro-influencers often deliver a better ROI than those with hundreds of thousands of followers.

A key to generating more value out of your influencer engagements is to involve them upstream, during the brainstorming and planning stages. They know their audiences intimately, and they can help you navigate ways to engage with them more creatively and impactfully. For instance, you might collect feedback for infographics, or collaborate on user-generated content together.

And use technology to boost results. Terakeet uses our own proprietary platform Chorus to identify the best influencers to partner with and create powerful influencer campaigns. Chorus enables us to scale our efforts while narrowing our search to highly specific niches that align with our clients’ markets.

Offer promotions

When you want to generate a quick burst of sales, promotions are a useful technique. When the promotions are time sensitive, they create FOMO in customers, which can be the nudge they need to buy from you. 

There are literally dozens of different ways to do promotions, including, but not limited to:

  • Discounts
  • BOGO
  • Personalized (birthday, anniversary of first purchase, etc.)
  • Seasonal or end-of-season discounts
  • Holiday promotion
  • Points-based offers
  • Bundles
  • Membership exclusives
  • Pre-order bonuses
  • Bulk order discounts

Really, you’re only limited by your creativity. Think through your promotions carefully though. If you’re constantly offering discounts, your customers will come to expect them all the time. Additionally, you may develop a reputation as a discount brand and wind up with a lower average order value, which may be the opposite of what you’re trying to achieve.

nordstrom ecommerce marketing example

Grow your email subscriber list

Given the extremely high ROI of email marketing, one question should always be on the minds of marketers: how do I get more email subscribers?

Read the article linked above for all 14 tips. But, at a bare minimum, collect customer’s email addresses early in the checkout process. Capturing it early ensures you can send abandoned cart emails if they don’t finish the purchase. 

Beyond that, think of ways you can give people something of value in exchange for their email address. Offering product discounts is a commonly used tactic. But don’t stop there. Get creative and think outside the box. Focus on captivating them and creating brand advocacy and brand love.

If you sell camping gear, you could give away a downloadable camping checklist. Sell supplements? You could create an interactive wizard to help customers understand which supplements work best for treating various conditions. If you sell software, offer a total cost of ownership calculator. For any apparel brand, invite them to exclusive “members only” virtual events. The sky’s the limit.

After you build your email list, don’t blast the same messaging to everyone. Customize email content and subject lines to each audience segment to boost click-through rates and conversions!

Ecommerce Marketing: Wrap Up

Retail ecommerce sales topped an estimated $4.13 trillion in 2020. The pandemic accelerated an already growing trend towards online shopping, and there’s no sign that things will revert back. If you want a piece of that pie, you need to focus on ecommerce marketing.

Choose an ecommerce platform that supports your goals, whether that’s shopify, Woocommerce or Magento.

Create a digital marketing plan that’s designed to drive online sales. Choose the right marketing channels for your online store so that you can be where your target audience is and speak in ways that resonate with them.

Then, map out the ecommerce marketing strategies that will engage your audience at each stage of the funnel.

Yes, doing these things requires substantial investments of time and effort. But it’s worth it. Your bottom line will thank you.

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