In many ways, 2020 was a year of reckoning for online businesses.
With brick-and-mortar stores shuttered off and on throughout the year, eCommerce brands stepped into the spotlight, and consumers worldwide clicked away to make purchases.
This data from eMarketer shows just how much eCommerce has grown:
With more than 20 million eCommerce websites worldwide, competition is fierce. eCommerce businesses must find ways to stand out, build brand awareness and increase traffic. After all, you want to get your piece of the $4.5 trillion that consumers will fork out over this year, right?
As the adage goes, however, traffic is vanity, conversion is sanity.
So, how can you promote your eCommerce brand and attract consumers that are ready to purchase?
You need an omnichannel eCommerce-specific marketing strategy that reaches the right customers, at the right time, with the right offer. You’ll need a multi-pronged approach that utilizes the best techniques for business growth.
This article covers nine eCommerce marketing strategies and eight eCommerce promotion ideas, to you a blueprint for eCommerce success.
What is eCommerce Marketing?
eCommerce marketing is a set of promotional strategies that enable you to sell your eCommerce products. These strategies drive traffic to your online store, help convert visitors into buyers and turn those first-time buyers into repeat customers. In many cases, eCommerce marketing tactics will include a direct through-line from the initial touchpoint (such as a social media ad) to a completed purchase. This creates exceptional conversion speed and efficiency when used responsibly.
Sometimes people confuse eCommerce marketing with digital marketing. This is because they are both online activities, but the difference is important.
Digital marketing is any marketing activity that happens online. The objective of digital marketing is to bring attention to your brand, be it through paid advertising, content marketing, email marketing, PR, affiliate marketing, or any other channel.
9 eCommerce Marketing Strategies
eCommerce businesses must rely on multiple sales channels to connect with various audiences, increase brand awareness and bring shoppers into the sales funnel. Accomplish this by developing a strong eCommerce marketing strategy that encompasses multiple tactics to drive valuable traffic filled with consumers ready to buy.
Read on to learn about eCommerce marketing tactics that will boost your sales.
70% of consumers report that they prefer to learn about new products from content, rather than traditional ads.
Focus on promoting content through native advertising on a platform such as Taboola. Taboola lets you target users across premium publisher sites by buying ad placements on publisher sites. You get the benefit of a built-in audience that’s ready to discover your brand, and readers that inherently trust the ad content on that publisher’s site.
Native ads like these generate an 18% higher purchase intent over banner ads, and native content works well at each stage of the sales funnel.
Here’s an example of how a clothing brand might use native ads throughout the funnel:
2. Social Media Marketing
With 3.78 billion users worldwide, social media is an important communication channel for every brand. For eCommerce businesses, it’s a lifeline, and the world’s biggest social networks know it.
Now called social commerce, Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Snapchat, and Pinterest allow businesses to create shoppable content. This reduces friction for eCommerce brands by letting consumers shop directly from posts, ads, and sponsored content.
Social channels are visual. To capitalize on their power, use great photos and videos to encourage people’s thumbs to stop scrolling.
When users tap on H&M’s shoppable post on Instagram, here’s what they see:
3. Content Marketing
Content marketing is no longer limited to blog posts, although those still work wonders! When creating your eCommerce content marketing strategy, consider keywords carefully thoughtfully.
Optimize all of your content – product titles and descriptions, ad copy, product review posts, video ads, and articles – to make it easier for consumers and search engines to find your pages and products.
4. Email Marketing
These days, people only invite you into their inboxes when they trust your brand. Once someone has given you their email, use email marketing to your advantage by delivering value with every campaign.
Send promotional campaigns regularly, but make sure to personalize them. A report from Liveclicker found that personalized campaigns resulted in an ROI of $20 for every $1 spent. To get the most out of your email campaigns, run tests to determine the best frequency, subject lines, and day and time combinations.
Converse gets personalization right with this email campaign:
5. Affiliate Marketing
Affiliate marketing is used by 81% of brands because it’s highly effective. With this tactic, affiliates – who are generally bloggers, publishers, or influencers – use a range of digital marketing strategies, including content production and paid advertising campaigns, to promote your products and drive traffic to your site.
In return, you pay them a commission for each lead or sale initiated from their affiliate link.
6. Local Marketing
It’s great to think about eCommerce sales globally, but don’t forget about your local consumers, especially if your shipping center is near a big city.
Use tracking cookies or location-based targeting and keywords in paid ads and offer special perks, such as free shipping, to those neighborhood customers.
7. Referral Marketing
Word-of-mouth recommendations are the holy grail of marketing, but this is not within your power as a business owner. Since consumers value advice and recommendations from people they know, you can leverage that through referral marketing.
The process is simple. You encourage customers to spread the word about your brand and offer them, and usually their contact, a special offer, such as a discount.
The beauty industry is incredibly competitive. Julep created this referral offer to boost sales and exposure, making it super simple to share with pre-populated content and share buttons.
8. Improve Your Lead Generation
To improve the quality of your leads, understand who your potential customers are and what kinds of offers and products interest them.
Then, build your lead generation machine to grab attention through on-site email capture, special offers, and exciting content. Off-site, focus on launching targeted PPC campaigns, building interest on social channels, and guest posting on other sites.
9. Improve Your Site for Search (SEO)
SEO is a critical part of any inbound marketing strategy. It brings you improved visibility when users search for products. The goal is to get your page content to rank on the first page of search results.
When creating content, such as product titles and descriptions or articles, consider top ranking keywords and phrases that people use when searching. Additionally, make sure you optimize images with ALT tags and that your site URL structures are easy for search engines to crawl. Creating an onsite SEO checklist can help make sure you never miss a chance to optimize for ranking.
8 Promotion Ideas for eCommerce Websites
eCommerce promotions are the key to driving new sales and retaining customers.
When it comes to purchasing, 57% of shoppers won’t buy from a new retailer without a coupon, and 91% of people who use coupons will revisit a retailer if offered one.
Promotions, especially when tied to pre-launch items or holiday and seasonal campaigns, influence purchases. The cold hard truth is that consumers respond to special offers, so entice them with irresistible deals.
Let’s look at some different eCommerce promotion ideas you can use to increase sales.
1. Free Shipping Promotion
According to the National Retail Federation, 75% of shoppers expect free delivery even on orders under $50, and 29% of people skipped a purchase when two-day shipping wasn’t free.
The data suggests it’s in your best interest to offer free shipping or risk losing sales to a competitor who does. If your business strategy doesn’t enable you to always include free shipping, tie the freebie to the lowest minimum order value you can tolerate, or tack it on as an incentive for higher-priced items.
Kylie Cosmetics highlights the terms of its free shipping offer above the menu where consumers will see it.
2. Percentage-Based Discounts
There is some psychology involved in creating percentage-based discounts.
Shopify suggests offering a percentage discount if the item you sell costs you less than $100, as buyers perceive it as a better deal than a discounted dollar amount. Small discounts in the 10-15% range encourage purchase; larger ones perform even better.
You could promote multiple items through a deal such as ‘Buy 3 shirts, get 20% off a pair of jeans.’
3. Multi-Purchase Deals
When someone comes to your site to purchase one item, you have an opportunity to get them to add more to their cart through multi-purchase deals.
Most shoppers are familiar with the term BOGO (buy one, get one). The same concept works beyond a one-to-one ratio. Experiment with offers such as ‘Buy 2, get 1 free,’ especially for lower priced items.
4. Quantity Discounts
Bargain hunters find quantity discounts, which offer more significant savings for larger purchases, attractive.
It’s the more you buy, the more you save mentality. The point with this discount is to increase the average order value (AOV). You can set this type of deal up as a percentage off, such as ‘Buy 2 items, save 10% or buy 5 items, save 20%.’
This is how West Elm encourages people to spend more:
5. Flash Sale Campaign
Flash sales induce a sense of urgency. The consumer knows the offer is available for a very short time or while items last.
For eCommerce stores, flash sales generate buzz about new products and pre-orders and they are useful for moving leftover inventory quickly.
Check out this example from Hype:
6. Limited Time Coupons or Discounts
Discounts with time constraints push shoppers to purchase, because they play on FOMO or fear of missing out.
The time limit you add to your coupon should depend on product price and how your customers behave.
For lower-priced items, offer a short time limit, like a few days. If the products are higher-ticket items, give people a few weeks as the purchase requires some consideration. Follow up with a ‘last chance’ reminder through email if you can.
7. Run Contests
Contests attract plenty of attention. They draw on the idea of anticipation and the chance of a win.
A popular strategy for eCommerce contests is to promote them on social media channels using relevant hashtags, such as #giveaway or #contests. Use them to raise awareness about different products or attract new customers by offering additional entries for each person that a contestant tags in a comment.
Northernflex is running this giveaway and even informs people that if they shop now and win the contest later, the company will credit the winner’s previous purchase.
8. Offer Free samples
Free samples are an ideal way to expose customers to new products or convince consumers of your products’ value.
Sample sizes are also an affordable way for you to give a free gift without derailing your profits. Tie the samples to a minimum purchase or offer free samples if the customer pays for shipping.
Sephora implements this offer well by giving shoppers a choice of free samples.
Many eCommerce brands go wrong by relying on strategies that bring traffic. Don’t get it wrong. Tons of traffic is great, but it doesn’t equal tons of sales.
Focus instead on eCommerce strategies such as content marketing, email marketing, native advertising, and referral marketing to bring high-quality traffic that converts visitors to buyers. Combine all of those strategies with attractive promotions, and you’ll be able to skyrocket your sales.
We know that certain niches are more competitive, so don’t miss our future recommendations for beauty and fashion eCommerce brands.