Ecommerce success is built on marketing. Your existing SEO work and next campaign are what will drive sales and keep the lights on, and that’s a stressful realization. Ecommerce marketers have many decisions that need to be made and not a lot of time to make them. That can lead to mistakes, even ones that come from the best of intentions.
So, it’s time to offer a few tips that will help you narrow your focus, refine your messaging, and create the trust required to generate recurring sales.
1. Highlight customers not more products
When running an ecommerce marketing campaign, it’s tempting to fill every space with product photos and video and text, trying to squeeze every cent from what you’re spending. However, that can not only overwhelm your audience with content that’s too busy, but you’re also wasting some valuable real estate for building trust.
Think of this in the same way you approach SEO. You need a good mix of terms and focus, but stuffing a page with keywords always backfires. Highlight a few core product and customer elements with an eye toward discoverability and shareability.
Overloading with images and many products can make it hard for customers to find what they want and to focus on your most valuable products. Today’s email marketing, for example, can leverage video, GIFs, and other multimedia elements. They’re engaging, but too much motion and you risk fatiguing brains and making purchase decisions harder.
Here's how not to do it...
Instead, prioritize your best photos for selling and pair them with customers and testimonials to help your promises feel real. They’ll break up the look and feel of your marketing, while showcasing how much people use and love your products. Most people are going to read reviews before they buy anyway, so take advantage and curate these right in your sales pitch.
2. Pursue the “why” not the “buy”
While we’re taking a look at messaging, there’s one common theme we see in successful ecommerce campaigns: they talk to the reasons people like a product or company instead of just highlighting the “buy” button. You want to have a conversation with shoppers because they’re looking for both a product and some comfort. Again, this is all about building that trust, so they end up purchasing from you.
As an added bonus, speaking to the “why” helps you use the language that customers use for their problems or your products. That can improve your relevance in search for SEO and social.
When looking to improve an entire marketing campaign, you want to start with data. Track how customers get to you and what messages make them click. Try to determine why they’re coming to you in general and why to your business over a competitor. If you’re not sure, look at influencers who speak about similar products. They might not be your ideal audience, but they’ll help get you started in thinking about customer needs.
From there, engineer your content and sales pages to support those “why” answers.
This is essential for ecommerce stores that sell products from others, including dropshippers. Communicating that people come to you for a great deal, because of past positive experiences, reviews, or excellent customer service should shape everything from the photos you use to the copy in your ads.
Learning about the full spectrum of your audience and their reasons for coming to you makes it easier to provide your best pitch.
3. Limit your channels instead of trying to be everywhere
Quick! What’s the latest TikTok trend relevant to your business? What about Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram? Now, how about LinkedIn and Reddit?
Those questions probably felt a little overwhelming - and that’s just social channels and not an exhaustive list of sales opportunities. It highlights the point that trying to be everywhere can be too much, and is not necessary. What’s the point of being on TikTok, say, if your data shows that’s not where your audience hangs out?
Unless you’re a massive company, you likely don’t have the time or budget to be everywhere. So, you have to be smart and use your limited resources where they bring the best returns.
If you’re an ecommerce company, your interests are best served by focusing on core customers and the channels they use to find and interact with you.
Sticking to a small list of channels also helps you find new opportunities to reach potential shoppers. If your audience still relies on blogs and YouTube for news, look for opportunities there. If they prefer highly visual content, see what you can create for Instagram and then repurpose for Pinterest.
Define your audience. Find the channels they use and start there. You’ll be able to target sales better and also not have a marketing department that’s living on no sleep with coffee instead of blood in their veins.
4. Be clear and upfront, not shady or shadowy
People want a connection with your brand, and this holds especially true for smaller ecommerce shops or those with unique products. This is a two-fold issue for your marketing. You’ll need to make honest and clear claims within your marketing and have the proof on your site to ensure that people can see you are legitimate.
For new potential customers, not having an “About us” page, not providing information on your shipping policies or about the people behind the store can make you feel like a shady business that might not be a good bet. Overly complex or confusing returns and refund policies are also a red flag for your customers. Keep things simple and clean.
UGG's website is a great example of this, with a devoted page providing all the information you need about delivery issues.
The good news is that this is an easy fix, and it can help you meet some customer demands.
Consider fleshing out your company information and highlight the causes you care about to build brand loyalty. In our research, we’ve noticed that many ecommerce brands aren’t telling their story and are missing the chance to connect with customers. That also means this is an opportunity - you could stand out compared to other stores.
Do remember, your story needs to be genuine. Customers will sniff out hypocrisy and punish brands accordingly.
Sometimes PPC ads are the first introduction for customers to your business. Set the tone by keeping these honest and not competing for terms that would create any misunderstanding about your products.
5. Data for precision, not overlap
Audience data is important for any marketing campaign, especially when you’ve got a small budget. Start with the data available in your ecommerce software and then bring in site analytics and past marketing information. Many companies will use this audience information to see where they have strong interest and run with that. Unfortunately, that can lead to a lot of overlapping targeting, which burns your cash while not expanding the customer base.
Avoid this by doing a full audit of your data to see who is covered and where you might have an interested audience that wasn’t previously tapped. Use keyword research tools from companies like Wordtracker to learn how people actually search for products or services in your niche, related products, and competitors. This can help you mirror language and address different audience segment problems, expanding your reach.
When you do this right, you can eventually segment dynamic content so that you’re optimizing ad spend relative to purchase intent. It’s complex and requires smart marketing minds. It might mean you bring in an outside party to help. That said, many companies find a positive ROI on both marketing campaign and consultant costs when they’re able to grow a customer base by adjusting spending instead of purely increasing campaign spending.
Take your time
Data gives you the ability to focus, but it takes practitioners and patience to achieve success. Ecommerce marketing often feels like a race, where you need to jump on the latest trends and seasonality to ensure sales and not miss out. While those elements are important, giving your team time to try new things and watch for trends over time will help them make smarter spending decisions.
For your next ecommerce marketing plan, take a minute to review your audience and policies. Ensure that you’re being helpful even while selling. Protect your brand with an honest voice and approach. And be sure to celebrate the customers you already have. It’s how you build a trusted brand and expand the number of people who love what you do