E-Commerce Marketing: Why It's Important to Your Small Business

The e-commerce marketing strategies you use can make or break your online business. In this guide, we cover several tried and tested e-commerce marketing methods to help you grow your business.

Updated March 23, 2020

By 2040, about 95% of purchases in the UK are going to be facilitated through e-commerce, according to Nasdaq.com.

This figure is a dead giveaway of why e-commerce store owners should come up with their ideal marketing channels and double down on their marketing efforts.

After all, as more people purchase online, more online seller-competitors will emerge.

As noisy as the Internet has become, you need to have a game plan to ensure that your audience finds their way to your products.

That’s where e-commerce online marketing comes in.

What is e-commerce marketing?

There is a key difference that distinguishes e-commerce marketing from other digital marketing methods.

If someone shares content online without intending to sell a product, they are not engaging in e-commerce marketing, since there is no product to buy or sell.

If your marketing campaign is focused on generating sales, then that is e-commerce marketing.

From a 30,000 ft. perspective, e-commerce is essentially commercial transactions that are done over the Internet.

It’s worth pointing out that there is a big overlap between e-commerce marketing and what others perceive as generic digital marketing.

The tools, methods, platforms, and tips used on both can pretty much be the same. For the most part, both marketing methods part ways when the e-commerce marketers start asking for payment details.

What to consider when marketing your e-commerce business

To grow your e-commerce business, you need to have a solid grasp of the crucial elements that will make your marketing campaigns a success.

Below are two important points that you need to consider.

1. Your audience dynamics

The more you know about your audience, the easier it becomes for you to create compelling marketing materials.

Among other things, you need to pay attention to their pain points and how your products/services can address them.

When you talk about your audience’s pain points, they are reminded of the frustrating circumstance they’ve gone through, prompting them to take action on your offer so they can avoid having the same experience.

This is why creating a buyer persona is an important step before you even start marketing your products. With it, you have a solid grasp of who your audiences are and what makes them tick.

To help you put together a buyer persona, you can use HubSpot’s free buyer persona generator tool.

A screenshot of HubSpot’s free buyer persona generator tool.

A sample buyer persona created through HubSpot’s buyer persona generator tool.

It took less than three minutes to put together the sample persona above. The tool is that intuitive and easy to use.

Your buyer persona will serve as your guiding compass when putting together your marketing materials and strategies.

2. The positioning/angle you use when promoting your products

You may have an awesome product, but if the angle you use when presenting it is poorly thought out, then its perceived value would suffer.

In addition, the efficacy of your marketing materials to convert your web visitors into paying customers also decreases.

To better illustrate the point, consider this: Do you think flooding your audience with the message “buy the product now” is as effective as reminding them of their problems and highlighting how they can get rid of their frustrations once they use your product?

If you’re selling baby rompers, would targeting fathers be more effective than targeting mothers?

And if your e-commerce store is all about car seat covers, would it be a better angle to target mothers as opposed to marketing them to fathers?

At this point, I hope you can see how important your angle/positioning is.

To come up with a compelling angle, be sure to think about your customers. Always revert to your buyer persona to be sure the marketing method you’re about to implement highly resonates with them.

E-Commerce marketing strategies you can use

Now that you have an idea of how important it is to learn about your target audience and be mindful of your marketing angle/positioning, let’s look into some of the tried and tested e-commerce website marketing strategies that seasoned e-commerce entrepreneurs use.

1. Email marketing

At its core, email marketing is about sending commercial messages to prospective or existing clients through email. The emails are often sent to groups of people.

To get started with email marketing, you need to have an email opt-in form so you can capture your web visitors’ email addresses.

As your email list grows, you can start segmenting it so you can send them more personalized messages that resonate more specifically with them.

You don’t always need to sell them something in your email, you can educate, add value, and share product updates. That way, you won’t come off as someone who’s shoving your product(s) down their throat.

Here’s an example email that’s sent by Pat from Pigeon for Gmail. Notice how the main point of the email is simply to share tips on how to use the product.

A sample email by Pat from Pigeon for Gmail.

Sample email from Pigeon for Gmail showing tips on how to use the product.

Tips for using email marketing:

  • Use a reliable platform. Your email marketing software plays a crucial role in whether or not your email marketing campaign will succeed. Look for a platform with automation, personalization, and segmenting features.
  • Write compelling copy. Be mindful of how you write your subject line, the body of your email, your offers, and your call-to-action. While email marketing is without a doubt effective, there’s a good chance that your list is getting a lot of emails daily. If you aren’t careful with how your email’s subject line and content is written, it may only be ignored.

2. Influencer marketing

With influencer marketing, even if you don’t have an email list and your store has just been recently launched, you can still generate a lot of online views and sales.

The gist of the strategy is pretty straightforward:

Step 1: Look for an influencer in your industry.
Step 2: Reach out and ask them to promote your product to their audience.

Step 3: Offer something of value in exchange so they’ll consider your offer.

Step 4: Your product is promoted to thousands of people that are relevant to your niche.

Step 5: You get a lot of sales from the influencer’s audience.

The best part is, since your product is shown together with an influencer, your brand gets an instant credibility boost.

Influencer marketing is such a reliable e-commerce digital marketing method that established brands like Sephora use them.

Here’s an example where Sephora collaborated with YouTuber Shaaanxo for an unboxing video that garnered a lot of views and likes.

A screenshot of a Sephora collaboration with YouTuber Shaaanxo for an unboxing video.

The number of views and likes that the video garnered.

The video also received a lot of comments.

A screenshot of the comments made on the influencer campaign.

The video’s number of comments for the influencer marketing campaign.

If you read through the comments, you can glean some insights about your target market’s wants/needs.

A screenshot of the content ideas from the influencer campaign.

Comments from other users on Shaaanxo’s YouTube video.

These are just some of the many benefits that you can enjoy from running influencer marketing campaigns.

Tips for using influencer marketing:

  • Make sure that the influencer is relevant. Apart from looking at a person’s follower count, make sure that their posts, brand, and everything they represent are highly relevant to your industry.
  • Check the engagement the influencer gets. Working with someone that has thousands of inactive and lifeless followers won’t bring you much value. Check out the content that the influencer is posting and make sure that they are getting a decent amount of meaningful audience engagement.

3. Content marketing

When it comes to content marketing, publishing and sharing value-packed content is key.

Educating your audience and sharing valuable tips that can help improve their lives is an almost sure-fire way of building your relationship with them.

That’s what content marketing does and that’s why it’s very effective.

You don’t even need to stick to one type of content. You can use articles, videos, and infographics, among other content types.

The definitive guide about copywriting that Brian Dean published is a classic example of how content marketing can yield astounding results.

Aside from the 6,565 shares and over 200 comments that his post garnered, Brian was able to get a lot of backlinks out of the content.

A screenshot of the numbers a post received from a guest post.

The post received a number of backlinks from other sites.

Several of the sites that linked to his post are quite reputable.

An example of the several sites that linked to a blog post.

A partial list of the sites that linked to the post.

Because of the content he published, Brian was able to not only benefit from getting an immediate boost in shares and brand visibility, but the link juice he’s obtained from the sites that linked to his post will also help him get a better ranking from Google’s search result pages.

Tips for using content marketing:

  • Provide incredible value. Producing great content goes beyond making sure that your content doesn’t have any typos or grammar mistakes. It needs to provide value by addressing your audiences’ most pressing concerns.
  • Track your performance. You need to track your results. Otherwise, you won’t know which content, platform, or type of content is yielding you meaningful results. As you track, you gain a better understanding of how to improve your existing and future content marketing campaigns.

4. Social media marketing

From a top-level view, social media marketing uses social media platforms to promote your products and services.

From that definition alone, we can see how broad and far-reaching social media marketing is. You can run paid social media ads, publish social media posts, and even run an outreach campaign through these social media platforms.

The millions of active monthly users are what make social media platforms ideal for promoting your products. If you have a well-thought-out, meaningful, and creative marketing strategy, your posts are bound to reach your prospective customers.

This post by garyvee is something e-commerce marketers and owners can learn from.

A screenshot of Instagram post from Gary Vaynerchuk.

An engaging social media post from Gary Vaynerchuk.

The post isn’t just funny, but it’s also inspiring, and on point.

It did such a great job engaging its audience that it garnered over 100K likes and over 2,000 comments.

Tips for using social media marketing:

  • Transition your audience’s frame of mind. For the most part, people go to social media platforms to have fun and enjoy, not necessarily to buy. That’s why it’s crucial for you to transition your audience’s frame of mind from being a content consumer to someone that’s eager to take out their wallets.
  • Choose the right social media platform. Each social media platform has its own ecosystem and culture. If you are into graphics and photos, leverage the visual platform that Instagram and Pinterest provide. If your target audience is more into business and career, then you can go to LinkedIn.

5. Coupon marketing

Giving out vouchers, coupons, or codes for your audience to redeem can do wonders for your e-commerce business.

Not only can it help to bring in more sales, but you can also generate more leads, audience engagement, and brand visibility, among other things. This is especially the case around holidays or special events.

Discount coupons image at a glace from PatPat.com.

Discount coupons offered by PatPat.com on their website.

The best part of running a successful coupon marketing campaign is that it’s insanely easy with the help of reliable e-commerce software.

Tips for using coupon marketing:

  • Start small and track results. Run small campaigns with unique codes, rules, and discounts, and track your numbers. That way, you can get a glimpse of the results you’ll get if you scale your small campaign.
  • Make an enticing offer. No matter how beautifully designed your coupons are and how relevant your audience is, if your offer isn’t enticing enough, you’ll never be able to compel them to take action on your offers.

6. Paid ads

When it comes to e-commerce advertising, some e-commerce store owners avoid using paid ads because of the cost.

It’s true that paid ads can be quite costly. In fact, depending on how aggressive you want to be, you might find yourself spending thousands of dollars daily for your ads.

Having said that, however, it’s worth mentioning that the immediate results you can get from paid ads are nothing short of a miracle. You can turn on your campaign at night, and see massive audience engagement, and even sales, when you wake up in the morning.

That’s how powerful paid ads can be.

Here’s an example of a paid Facebook ad from Elementor.

Elementor's paid ad published on Facebook for social advertising.

A paid ad from Elementor that was published through Facebook.

With the huge amount of engagement the ad generated, Elementor, at the very least, benefited from getting better brand visibility.

Tips for using paid ads:

  • Make your ad creatives “pop”. To ensure your paid ad isn’t’ ignored, you need to make it stand out. Make sure that its color theme doesn’t blend with the platform’s background, use head-turning words, or use a photo/image that’s catchy. These are just some of the many things you can do to keep your audience from ignoring your paid ads.
  • Be mindful of your target audience. Your audience targeting can spell the difference between you getting very little to no sales, or getting thousands of them. When you’re setting your target audience in your ad platform, ensure that the parameters you set points to who your buyer persona is.

What’s next?

Digital marketing and e-commerce are a perfect pair. With both working hand in hand, you can make a killing as an online entrepreneur.

While the digital marketing tips that we covered are far from being complete, if you take the time to use them, you are bound to see your e-commerce business grow.

Now that you have the fundamentals to start your digital e-commerce marketing strategy, you can start promoting your e-commerce business effectively.

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