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Ecommerce Marketing Channels, Tactics & Tools

Ecommerce Marketing Channels, Tactics & Tools

Huge networks, like Google and Facebook, will continue to offer new ways to reach customers and attract more advertising dollars. With that in mind, here’s a list of the best channels, tactics, and tools to consider when crafting your ecommerce marketing plan.  

1. Pay-per-click advertising (PPC).  

Pay-per-click advertising or PPC can be one of the foundational elements in your ecommerce marketing strategy.  

Just in case you’re unfamiliar with PPC, your brand would pay an ad network, like Google, every time someone clicks on your advertisement. 

Of course, there are several types of PPC advertisements that I’d like to call attention to – paid search, display, and shopping campaigns – since they’re most relevant to ecommerce marketing success.  

Each type of PPC advertising can play an important, yet different role in your overall marketing strategy.  For ease of understanding, I’ll use Google as the primary source of all PPC advertisements, since it’s the most popular and easiest to use.  

That being said, there are different PPC ad networks, such as Bing Ads and Amazon Advertising, that are worth including in your overall PPC strategy.   

Here’s a little more information about each: 

Paid Search Ads – A Paid Search ad will appear at the top of your search engine results and will not include any type of imagery. Quite simply, Google serves the user a text-only advertisement based on the user’s search terms. 

Therefore, it’s a great strategy, especially for “in-market” sales leads. Just think about it… if you’re searching for “non-iron button-down shirts” you’re most likely in the market to purchase that item.   

You’ve identified a personal need, and you’re searching for the best option.  

Therefore, Paid Search advertisements can produce a high conversion rate and should be included in your overall strategy.  

Display Ads – Display advertisements, sometimes referred to as banner ads, can be seen all over popular websites, apps, and mobile games.   

Unlike Search ads, Display ads tend to follow you around based on your past browsing history, which is referred to as “retargeting”.  Display ads can also be served to the user based on the subject matter of the article or website the user is viewing.  So, if the user is reading an article about popular yoga studios in their area, there’s a good chance that a Display ad for a nearby yoga studio will appear. 

Display ads can be great for building brand awareness and generating conversions when used to retarget a customer, but in general, click-through rates will be much lower than Search ads.  

And, more importantly, the average conversion rate across all industries is .77% for Display ads, compared to 3.75% for Search ads(stats via Wordstream)  

Product Listing Ads (Shopping Campaigns) – With Google Shopping Campaigns and Bing Product Ads your products can appear directly within the search engine results.   

So, if the user is searching for “women’s red boots,” they’ll see a bunch of images of red boots at the top of their search results.  

Then, depending on the products that suit their taste, the user will click on the advertisement and be redirected to your online store.  

All things considered, this can be a great tool.

Advertisers have been flocking to Google Shopping since it generated 60% of clicks on Google in Q1. Of course, if you’re a reseller of other brands, make sure your prices are competitive before diving in.  As you can imagine, when viewing the same pair of red boots across multiple ads, the user will simply click on the lowest advertised price. 

So, make sure you’ve done your homework. 

Tools to Consider:  

2. Search engine optimisation (SEO).  

Over the past 20 years, Search Engine Optimisation has evolved for the better. In the past, SEO experts were akin to snake oil salesmen – using dishonest tactics and exploits to boost website rankings. Now, on the other hand, SEO is more about adhering to on-site best practices and earning your ranking, rather than “working the system.” That being said, SEO is a growth marketing strategy that should NOT be overlooked In fact, 70-80% of Google users are only focusing on organic search results. But don’t worry, there are tons of useful resources to test your site’s SEO health and track your improvement over time, like SEMrush and MOZ.   

Tools to Consider:   

3. Content marketing. 

Content marketing is a bit of a unicorn in the ecommerce space. When you have a highly tested and comprehensive content marketing plan, just about every other marketing channel you use becomes more successful in parallel. That’s because content marketing is the best means to distribute your product to an audience. 

Through blog posts, infographics, and videos, you reach more customers on their turf: the internet.   

It’s called inbound marketing — where shoppers come to you — and it costs significantly less than outbound efforts, where you go out and find the shoppers for yourself.

If your product has an environmental cause, advanced technology, or is just plain innovative, consider launching some written blog posts outlining the specifics of the products. 

Aside from being educational for anyone who visits your website, these blog posts will help you get organic traffic from relevant keywords. 

4. Influencer marketing. 

Influencer marketing is simple. As consumers are exposed to more and more advertisements, brands are incorporating different strategies to reach and appeal to customers. Therefore, a brand will align with an “influencer” – aka, somebody who has a large following and credibility within a certain niche.  

Through this partnership, both parties will co-create content that’s intended to build awareness and drive sales. And since the influencer already has the attention and trust of their following, these paid product endorsements feel less intrusive than standard advertisements.

Influencer marketing is most commonly seen across social media, YouTube channels, and well-known blogs. Fashionistas who share their style guides on Instagram and competitive gamers who stream game reviews on YouTube or Twitch are generating measurable results when asked to subtly promote a brand.

5. Social media marketing. 

Social media is (and will remain) a rapidly evolving landscape of networks and platforms that continually change the way people interact with brands online. As marketers, we are tasked with understanding best practices and implementing strategic campaigns that engage potential customers, create brand advocates and eventually, fuel the bottom line. 

Luckily, popular social networks like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram have been continually rolling out new features and tools to help brands effectively reach their target audience.  

For example, with Facebook’s new Dynamic Ads feature, a brand can upload its entire product catalogue to Facebook.

Then, each product will be automatically shown to interested customers with up-to-date pricing and availability, which is a great tool for Ecommerce marketers. 

According to Pinterest, their users spend 50% more on purchases than the average social media user, and 20% more than people who purchased after clicking on a Search ad.  As I explained with PPC advertising, social media marketing has its own set of nuances and jargon that can sometimes get intertwined. 

For this blog post, and in the name of crafting a sound ecommerce marketing plan, we’ll focus on what can have the biggest impact on your brand. 

Here’s what is important to consider when crafting your social media marketing campaign: 

Social Media Advertising – Every popular social media network has useful tools for brands (and marketers) to serve targeted advertisements to potential customers. Most of them operate similarly to Google’s PPC ads; you create an advertisement, set your budget, and pay for every click (or number of impressions) the ad receives. 

Of course, there’s more to it.  

Each social network offers a wide variety of ad types, tailored to suit your advertising strategy and offer digital marketers the opportunity to get creative. To save you some time, the following social networks have proven to be the most widely adopted and practical for ecommerce marketing:  

Social Commerce – As mentioned, social networks are constantly searching for new ways to entice brands, and more importantly, advertisers to their networks.  

Therefore, networks like Facebook and Instagram (in particular) have created (fairly) seamless ecosystems that allow customers to discover your products, and more importantly, purchase your products without navigating away from the network. 

This simplifies the path to purchase, and subsequently, increases conversion rates. 

Therefore, ensuring your ecommerce product catalogue is synced with Facebook and Instagram will allow more customers to find your products and increase the effectiveness of your social advertising campaigns.

Organic Social Content – Before social networks were money-making behemoths, they were forums to engage with customers and foster brand advocacy. Of course, that hasn’t disappeared entirely. 

But to a certain extent, brands have been nudged towards the paid advertising route to produce the best results  

That being said, don’t forget about organic social content. 

It plays an important role when building brand awareness, and at a minimum, is essential to maintain strong SEO 

Make sure to couple your organic social content with new social commerce features, like tagging your products in Facebook and Instagram posts and creating “buyable Pinterest posts.

That way, you’ll be continuing to build the brand, while making it easy for potential customers to find and purchase your products.

6. Email marketing. 

When crafting a comprehensive ecommerce marketing plan, email will play a critical role.  

On one hand, it may not receive the attention of newer, trendier avenues for marketing your ecommerce business, but when done right, email can produce a consistently high return on investment.  Most established ecommerce retailers attribute between 26 – 36% of their business through this channel alone.

That being said, don’t expect to “batch and blast” your way to high conversion rates and increased order values. Taking a more strategic, thoughtful approach to email will eventually yield very positive results.  At the end of the day, customers are willing to read emails that pique their interest. So, make sure your emails are contextual and engaging. Don’t send a concert ticket promotion for a show in one city to your entire email list.

As a rule of thumb, try to segment your email list based on past purchase history. If you are running hyper-personalisation software, this is done for you on a personal one-to-one basis, not influenced by something someone else bought, the remarketing style used by Google.

That way, you can send emails that resonate with their tastes. Plus, with the latest email automation features, you don’t even need to press “send.” As you get your start with email marketing, a product-led stylesheet should always be the primary initiative as it is an easy and effective campaign to start with.  Nestled between promotions of your products, newsletter campaigns contain genuinely interesting content.  A newsletter format makes your emails stand out from the normal sales campaigns and is a great way to build goodwill with new customers. 

Aside from newsletter campaigns, at a bare minimum, you should incorporate the following strategies 

  • Abandoned Carts.
  • Up-Sells and Cross-Sells.
  • Promotional Offers.
  • Customer Loyalty and Re-Engagement.
Tools to Consider

7. Affiliate marketing.

Affiliate marketing is the process of an ecommerce merchant paying a commission to an external website for any sales generated from their referral traffic. The sales are tracked via affiliate links, which can be implemented by using various affiliate programs.  One great thing about affiliate marketing for ecommerce merchants is that you only pay after a sale occurs.

Merchants also get to choose their commission rates, which is a percentage of the sale price usually ranging from 5 to 30%. It’s also very ROI positive.

Once you factor in the affiliate commission and gross margin, you can enjoy a return on ad spend (ROAS) of 10:1. 

Tools to Consider

8. Local Marketing 

Local marketing – also known as “location-based marketing” and “neighbourhood marketing” – is the process of optimizing your website and online advertising to help drive foot traffic and awareness in local regions. 

If you’re a bricks-and-mortar store or brand that is looking to make a move online, it’s important to not lose the existing in-person customers that you already have. In addition, if you have a storefront or local presence, there are strategies you can use to continue growing that footprint.

Optimise your site with local keywords

Make sure you put relevant keywords about the town you’re in, as well as any bordering towns or regions.

Develop specialised landing pages about your town, create product collections that champion local businesses or trends, or even make local event campaigns with neighbouring businesses. 

Even as businesses are continually moving more and more online, local marketing still has an impact on plenty of decisions that shoppers make.

If a user is hunting for a product online, relevant local shops will show up in search results.

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