There’s no question that e-commerce is a challenging space. With the industry continuing to evolve and new technologies emerging all the time, developing effective e-commerce marketing strategies requires three things: knowledge, the ability to adapt, and the partners to help your business grow.
We all know that site traffic is important, but to really stay competitive online, retailers need to also be e-commerce businesses, with a strategy that goes beyond traffic to generate both short-term sales and long-term loyalty.
Tools like artificial intelligence (AI), social commerce, augmented reality, and personalization can give brands an edge, but only if they’re leveraged to reach the right customers, at the right time, with the right offer. An approach that utilizes the best techniques for business growth can ensure you get your share of the dynamic multi-trillion dollar e-commerce market.
What follows are the marketing strategies and promotion ideas that will take your e-commerce business to the next level, and secure your brand’s lasting success.
What is E-Commerce Marketing?
The concept of an e-commerce strategy may sound simple enough, but there are a lot of components involved, so let’s spend a minute breaking them down.
- E-commerce marketing is a set of promotional strategies designed to help you sell your products online.
- These strategies drive traffic to your online store, helping to convert visitors into buyers and turn those first-time buyers into repeat customers.
- Ideally, an e-commerce marketing strategy will take every aspects of your customer’s journey into consideration, from the initial brand touchpoint—be it a search listing or social media ad—to a completed purchase.
- When done well, e-commerce marketing helps to create an exceptional purchasing experience, from brand exposure to that all-important conversion.
One thing to note: it’s important not to confuse e-commerce marketing strategies with digital marketing strategies. Digital marketing refers to any promotional activity that takes place online, from paid advertising to content marketing, affiliate marketing, and email. Those activities can be used to meet many different kinds of goals. E-commerce, on the other hand, is primarily designed to drive qualified site traffic to your online store. That said, digital marketing strategies like email marketing and social media engagement can be used for e-commerce too. If that doesn’t make sense just yet, hang in there! We’re here to demystify it all for you and your brand.
9 E-Commerce Marketing Strategies
Because e-commerce businesses have different goals, there’s no one-size-fits all strategy for e-commerce growth and success. What’s more, retailers use multiple sales channels to connect with various audiences, increase brand awareness, and bring shoppers into the sales funnel. The best way to meet your objectives—starting with meeting your customers where they are—is to employ a combination of e-commerce marketing strategies. This way, you can take advantage of their individual strengths to drive more qualified traffic to your site.
Read on to learn about nine e-commerce marketing tactics that can be used to boost your sales.
1. Native Advertising
Considering that 70% of consumers prefer to learn about new products from content rather than traditional ads, native advertising has become a critical part of e-commerce strategy regardless of the product you’re selling online. Working with Taboola, a native advertising platform, enables brands to target users by buying ad placements on premium publisher sites that are frequented by massive audiences of loyal consumers.
Why is this helpful? Not only does Taboola reach 88% of US internet users on desktop and mobile, but 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. That trust then transfers to your company which, in turn, can have a positive impact on purchase intent.
Studies show that native ads generate 18% higher purchase intent than banner ads, and native content works well at each stage of the sales funnel. Native ad campaigns can also maximize your ad spend and drive goals around high-level brand awareness and leads—always a win for e-commerce brands.
With the benefit of Generative AI (integrated in Taboola’s e-commerce marketing strategies since 2023 to help brands create and optimize versatile ad creative), along with additional offerings like A/B testing, brands can make sure they’re able to find people when they’re ready to take action.
2. Social Media Marketing
With 4.8 billion users worldwide—nearly 60% of the global population—social media is an important communication channel for every brand. And now, your e-commerce business can benefit from social commerce, which turns major social sites like Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Snapchat, and Pinterest into places where you can post “shoppable content.”
Providing consumers with the opportunity to make a purchase right within a social media app reduces friction for e-commerce brands. Shoppers can bypass barriers, like having to navigate to a new site and search for the product that interests them. Instead, they’re able to make a purchase from a post, ad, or sponsored content. What better way to turn a captive audience into customers?
The visual nature of social networks helps to garner users’ attention and make social commerce even more effective, too. You can leverage the power of great photos and videos to encourage people to stop scrolling and consider your brand. This form of social media marketing meets customers’ expectations of ease and convenience—and bonus: they’ll appreciate your brand for making their shopping experience feel so natural.
3. Content Marketing
Content marketing is no longer limited to blog posts. These days, it extends to every aspect of your site that involves text and conveys information about your products. Big or small, those chunks of content represent opportunities to boost engagement, customer retention, and your return on investment (ROI).
When you’re creating an e-commerce content marketing strategy, focus on keywords. By optimizing content ranging from product titles and descriptions to ad copy, product review posts, video ads, and articles, you make it easier for consumers and search engines to find your pages and products.
A well-designed content marketing strategy is vital to conversion rate optimization—the process of increasing the number of website visitors who perform a desired action, such as making a purchase or subscribing to receive your branded emails. By enhancing your content, you don’t just stand to improve your CRO, but lift brand awareness as well.
4. Email Marketing
These days, people only invite you into their inboxes when they trust your brand. That’s why, once someone has given you their email, it’s vital that you use email marketing to your advantage by delivering value with every campaign.
One way to do that is with personalization. Using insights from past purchases and demonstrated intent can help you deliver a message that really speaks to your customer, which then helps to move them down the purchase funnel.
Since email is so affordable, the return on investment, or ROI, stands to be much higher on with this form of marketing. Couple that with a personalization strategy, and your e-commerce business can drive site traffic that’s qualified and therefore more likely to convert. Make sure not to overlook the importance of testing frequency, subject lines, and timing. Personalizing your subject lines, for example, can really help increase engagement on your campaigns.
5. Affiliate Marketing
Spending on affiliate marketing topped $9 billion in 2021, an increase of 47% since 2018, but while experts say it can deliver a “strong 12-1 return on ad spend,” it remains underutilized by e-commerce brands. The fact is, however, that affiliate marketing can provide immense value for your digital marketing strategy.
What is affiliate marketing, exactly? It’s a form of content production that leverages relationships with bloggers, publishers, or influencers—your “affiliates”—to promote and drive traffic to your site. In return, you pay them a commission for each lead or sale that results from their affiliate link.
With the right affiliate marketing partner, like Taboola, you can start driving traffic to your affiliate site. Since Taboola Advertising has exclusive agreements with the world’s premium digital properties, we can help advertisers expand their reach and get a desirable return on ad spend.
6. Local Marketing
It’s great to think about e-commerce on a global scale, but don’t forget about your local shoppers, especially if your shipping center is in or near a major city. To capitalize on your proximity to local consumers, you can use tracking cookies or location-based targeting and keywords in paid ads. You can also offer special perks, such as free shipping, to neighborhood customers.
This can work wonders for your e-commerce sales, since quick delivery times will motivate your target audience to make a purchase. Adjacent strategies like including location specific keywords (e.g. “near-me”) in your site metadata, using cookies to collect data like where locals like to shop online, and optimizing your site for mobile should all be on your must-have e-commerce marketing strategy list.
7. Referral Marketing
Word-of-mouth recommendations are the holy grail of marketing, but business owners only have so much control over what their customers will do or say about their brand. Consumers value advice and recommendations from people they know, though—which means it’s a good idea to leverage this opportunity through referral marketing.
The process is simple: you encourage your existing customers to spread the word about your brand, offering both them and their contact a special offer like a discount. For example, Book of the Month offers its fans the chance to share the experience of getting hot new book titles each month at a discounted rate.
8. Improve Your Lead Generation
When your goal is to improve the quality of your leads, understand who your potential customers are, and learn about the kinds of offers and products that interest them, lead generation is the solution for you. The more familiar you are with your customers’ interests and needs, the more equipped you’ll be to deliver relevant product information that incites them to make a purchase.
Lead generation strategies range from paid, off-site solutions like pay-per-click (PPC), a form of search advertising, and re-marketing, to site-based content solutions like blogs, videos, and webinars. Email capture fields and special offers are also useful when it comes to creating a comprehensive approach to generating leads for your brand.
9. Improve Your Site for Search (SEO)
SEO is a critical part of any inbound marketing strategy, because it brings you improved visibility when users search for products. The objective is to get your page content to rank on the first page of search results.
When creating content related to SEO—like your product titles and descriptions, or site articles featuring keywords related to your products and brand—consider creating an SEO checklist for e-commerce optimization. You can also increase traffic by partnering with influencers who will mention your products in their social media posts, running giveaways, and simply linking to your e-commerce site in your social media bios. SEO strategies like these help you drive traffic from search engines, reaching querying audiences with the right keywords and sending them straight to relevant product pages.
10. Influencer Marketing
Finally, don’t overlook the value of influencer marketing, which involves partnering with social media influencers to secure endorsements and product mentions for your brand. Influencer marketing can be used as part of an e-commerce marketing strategy to generate buzz about your products, boost interest, and increase word-of-mouth.
Opportunities range from sponsoring an influencer’s videos or posts to collaborating on a product or running a contest that combines your product with the influencer’s reputation and reach.
8 Promotion Ideas for E-commerce Websites
Once you have your e-commerce marketing strategies sorted, it’s time to augment them with e-commerce promotion ideas that can drive new sales and help you retain customers. Special offers sweeten the deal for your potential customers, making it easier for them to justify a purchase and building affinity with your brand.
Let’s look at some different e-commerce promotion tools and tactics you can use to increase sales.
1. Free Shipping Promotion
Most e-commerce brands offer discounts on shipping, and there’s a good reason for that: shipping is an aspect of your business that you can control and leverage to benefit your brand and increase sales. For example, implementing free shipping for the minimum order value can increase the profit from your orders, while prominently displaying free shipping offers can attract customers who might otherwise have passed you by.
Pay special attention to shipping promotion opportunities around the holidays. This is a time when shipping discounts can mean the difference between a sale and a loss to a competing e-commerce site.
2. Percentage-Based Discounts
Percentage-based discounts serve a purpose that’s similar to shipping discounts on minimum orders; for example, promoting multiple items together can encourage higher sales.
You’ll likely find that while small discounts, for example in the 10-15% range, encourage purchases, larger ones perform even better. Consider an offer like “Buy 3 shirts, get 20% off a pair of jeans” to motivate customers to select multiple items in order to earn the deal.
3. Multi-Purchase Deals
Even if a customer came to your site to purchase a single item, you have an opportunity to grow that sales by offering a multi-purchase deal.
Most shoppers are familiar with the term BOGO (buy one, get one). Well, the same concept works beyond a one-to-one ratio. Experiment with offers like “Buy 2, get 1 free,” especially for lower-priced items.
4. Quantity Discounts
Bargain hunters tend to find quantity discounts, which offer more significant savings for larger purchases, very attractive. Consumers respond to the concept of quantity savings (e.g. “the more you buy, the more you save”), which can lead to higher average order values (AOV).
Some e-commerce brands offer quantity discounts like “Buy 2 items, save 10%” or buy 5 items, save 20%.” Trying multiple combinations on your site will offer insight into what type of promotion your particular customer base responds to best.
5. Flash Sale Campaign
It’s common knowledge that, from a psychological standpoint, people often want what they can’t have. This is why a flash sale is so effective. A flash sale campaign can create a senses of urgency among your customers, inciting them to make a purchase while items last.
A flash discount can generate buzz about new products in your e-commerce store, and also lead to pre-orders. They’re useful for moving leftover inventory quickly, too, so find ways to work flash sale campaigns in your marketing plan.
6. Limited Time Coupons or Discounts
Like flash sales, a limited time discount saddles shoppers with time constraints to capitalize on FOMO, or the “fear of missing out.” The time limit you tie to your coupon will depend on factors like product price, the nature of your product, and your customers’ shopping behavior.
For lower-priced items, for example, offer a short time limit, like a few days. With higher-ticket items, you can give people a few weeks to consider the purchase. Either way, be sure to follow up with a “last chance” email reminder to give your campaign one last boost.
7. Run Contests
Contests both attract attention and generate a sense of anticipation by inviting shoppers to imagine a possible win. In e-commerce promotion, contests tend to live on social media channels and incorporate hashtags like #giveaway or #contest to expand the brand’s reach.
E-commerce contests can also be used to raise awareness of different products, or expose new potential customers to your product when entrants tag each other in the comments of a post. Requiring that consumers tag a friend, or offering additional entires for contest shares or other forms of engagement, can lead to more entries and potential purchases.
Asking entrants to follow your brand can produce the added perk of an uptick in followers, too.
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8. Offer Free Samples
Free samples are an ideal way to expose customers to new products, or convince consumers of your products’ value. How do you do it online? Tie your free samples to a minimum purchase, or offer free samples if the customer pays for shipping. This can lead to an increase in e-commerce profit, and also expose more potential long-term customers to your products. Feel free to mix and match strategies to find the best fit for your brand.
Conclusions on E-commerce Marketing Strategies
Before you launch your next (or first!) e-commerce marketing campaign, consider your brand’s goals beyond just driving site traffic. Not all traffic is created equal, so it’s much more important to attract high-quality site visitors that are likely to make one or more purchases then to flood your online store with consumers who will bounce without ever making a buy.
That’s where e-commerce marketing and digital promotions really shine. Using a combination of strategies like content marketing, email marketing, native advertising, and referral marketing in tandem with attractive promotions and reliable paid advertising—especially for niche brands like beauty and fashion—can increase your exposure, relevance, and reach. From a lead generation standpoint, your efforts will help your brand and business come out on top.