Ecommerce is one of the ever-changing landscapes in our global economy – and its potential is vast.
Its growth trajectory – Morgan Stanley predict that the ecommerce market could increase from $3.3 trillion today to $5.4 trillion by 2026 – shows no sign of stopping, with Salesforce reporting that:
- 56% of organisations expect the majority of their revenue to come from ecommerce in the next three years
- 73% of shoppers use multiple channels, including Google, social media and email, for online shopping
- approximately 21.8% of the world’s population shops online
- 95% of all purchases are expected to be transacted via ecommerce by 2040.
The merits of ecommerce are widely recognised by companies worldwide. And for those slow to adopt it as part of their business model and operations? Well, they’re likely to lose out on a huge share of business – missing out on key opportunities to convert a sizeable pool of potential customers.
Effective ecommerce marketing strategies are critical to stay ahead of the competition, a fact that applies to both early-stage online retail companies and those with well-established customer bases.
Ecommerce – short for electronic commerce – is the term given to any online activity that involves the purchase or sale of products and services. It refers to the process by which we conduct online transactions. The majority of ecommerce is mobile-driven, however it encompasses desktop, tablet and any transactions requiring devices.
As well as what we may think of as more traditional ecommerce stores – such as Amazon, or the website of a favourite clothing brand – it spans everything from online sales of concert tickets to buying a home meal-kit subscription to renewing car insurance.
Digital or online marketing for ecommerce, therefore, focuses on the strategies and tools used to promote and sell online products and services to consumers. For businesses that get their strategies right, marketing activities can help increase sales, grow brand awareness, reach greater numbers of new customers and boost the average value of orders.
Thereare numerous ways to design an effective ecommerce marketing plan. A selection of other key aspects that marketers should consider include:
- the production of original, engaging and personalised content
- content marketing
- email marketing and email campaigns
- pay-per-click (PPC), Google Ads and other advertising campaigns
- invest in marketing automation software
- social media marketing, which often includes influencer marketing – it’s important to consider which social media platforms and apps target audiences are using
- retargeting customers and subscribers, including email notifications prompting customers about cart abandonment to prompt them to complete checkout.
A great ecommerce store requires a great ecommerce site. As such, spending time on the optimisation of an ecommerce website is critical. How often have you visited a website only to be frustrated by its user-experience, layout or poor functionality? It’s a common problem. In fact, if the experience is poor enough it can cause potential customers to leave and head to competitors’ sites. This is why ensuring that a company website is fit-for-purpose, engaging and user-friendly is vital. As discussed, taking a mobile-first approach to web user experience – or, at the very least, ensuring a site is optimised for mobile – is a great way to meet customers where they are.
As well as making sure it is accessible and features intuitive, responsive design, ensuring a Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) approach is adopted is critical – i.e. incorporating aspects that help a site rank well in search engines with a view to reaching more customers. Ensure landing pages are compelling, opportunities to cross-sell and upsell products are taken, and embed analytics software to track website visitors, gauge how they interact with the site, and guide improvements. Keeping customer experience at the heart of ecommerce website design should be the central focus.
Shopify list some of their tips for successful ecommerce this year:
- Sell on marketplaces – Shopify reports that two-thirds of global ecommerce sales occur in online marketplaces such as Amazon and eBay. Listing best-selling products on marketplaces that complement your brand – for example, a vintage clothing seller might post on Depop, or an artist making homemade ceramics on Etsy – creating eye-catching listings to help drive sales.
- Engage online store visitors with live chat – Pop-up chat windows are a great tool to boost engagement, answer customer queries, provide support and troubleshoot. Many chat tools can target customers browsing on specific service/product pages, those who have arrived on the ecommerce platform via a certain user journey, or individuals who have spent a determined amount of time on the site.
- Leverage user-generated content – Reviews and user stories can mean the difference between a sale or a customer deciding to shop elsewhere. Showcase positive feedback and spread the word via user-generated content, which could include images, videos or testimonials.
- Think local – It can be incredibly beneficial to take time to assess where large concentrations of customers are based and tailor a promotion or campaign to that location – data regarding their purchasing patterns, behaviours and local events or celebrations can help to inform this. Shopify also suggests offering ‘free, discounted or expedited shipping’ to customers in the vicinity of warehouses.
- Reward customer loyalty – Capitalising on repeat custom by implementing a tailored loyalty programme is a cost-effective way to boost, and maximise, retention and sales. Programmes vary from business to business – for example, some offer limited edition products and discounts, others operate points-based rewards – but all aim to offer extra incentives to make purchases and referrals.
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