As e-commerce continues to grow year after year, there seems to be a growing trend of e-commerce business owners pulling their hair out as they struggle to capture a small slice of the $2 trillion pie.
Marketing. The one word that keeps every e-commerce business owner up all night.
This article aims to demystify the e-commerce marketing conundrum by giving you 8 actionable e-commerce marketing strategies you can implement today to increase leads and sales.
1. Create a Personalized Customer Experience
Each customer's buyer's journey is different, therefore having a store which adapts to their current mood and position in the sales funnel, is a surefire way to increase your average order value and conversion rates.
Take advantage of cross-promotions like Jimmy Choo does, by having a "things you may like" section at the bottom, whilst ensuring products they've previously viewed appear in the sidebar.
For example, if a customer is looking at purses and wallets, it would be very wise to show items which complement them perfectly.
Doing this ensures you're catering for those who are at the top of the funnel, whilst the "recently viewed" areas help to reengage customers who have completed the research phase and have made a decision.
Utilize dynamic remarketing ads to provide a personalized experience beyond the store.
To build a great e-commerce store, you need to think outside the box (or outside the store in this instance).
Sometimes you need to bring the experience to the customer, before they've even reached your store.
ModCloth is very clever with how they utilize dynamic remarketing ads to provide a personalized experience beyond their store. Their ads feature products you've previously looked at and compel you to complete your purchase with a strong call-to-action.
Offering a small discount as they click through would also go a very long way towards making a sale.
Personalize Their Mobile Experience Beyond Your Website with SMS Marketing
Despite mobile conversion rates being several times below desktops and laptops, now is the perfect opportunity to bridge that gap as your competitors aren't looking.
Take advantage of SMS marketing by sending real-time notifications to your customers such as, order confirmation, picked for delivery, dispatched etc. You'd be surprised how important "ease of mind" is to your customers. Don't believe me? Send a customer satisfaction survey and ask them, you'll be surprised by what you hear.
2. Give Your Customers the V.I.P Experience
Or at the very least, offer it as an opportunity.
People love the idea of having access to opportunities that other people can't get.
LUSH UK is brilliant for this. They sometimes have perishable items which are sold either exclusively online or in just their flagship store. Sometimes they have limited, online exclusive items which will only be sold for 24 hours directly out of their kitchen.
Offer online-exclusive items and mark them with a special tag to encourage your customers to add these products to their cart.
If you treat your customers like royalty, they'll respond in kind.
3. Create Urgency with Intelligent Browser Push Notifications
According to a survey by Responsys, browser push notifications deliver 50% higher open rates than emails. And if implemented properly, could easily triple your revenue compared to email.
Why do push notifications work better than email? The same reason why retail stores sell more as you're about to checkout rather than via a magazine which gets sent via snail mail.
In short, the fewer steps it takes to get your customer to their end goal, the higher your conversions will be. In theory.
Essentially, you want to trigger a small, non-obtrusive popup notifying your visitors whenever someone has added a product they're currently looking at, to their basket.
The goal with this e-commerce marketing strategy is to instill urgency among prospective customers.
If you can combine these notifications with live stock alerts, you will drive your conversions through the roof.
If you're monitoring every aspect of your e-commerce store's activity (you should be), then this shouldn't be too difficult implement.
To summarize, here's a simple process of how this should work in your e-commerce store:
1. Visitor views a product.
2. After 15 seconds, a live stock alert notification is triggered. (Rachel has added "Black Shawl Scarf" to her basket - Only 7 remaining)
If you have a product that sells hundreds of units a day, be sure to limit the amount of notifications being triggered to maybe one every 30-60 seconds.
You could perhaps compound this by ensuring the stock alert notification also shows how many people in addition to Rachel have added this item to their basket.
However, this strategy only works effectively if your website's user experience isn't compromised.
After all, the last thing you want is to drive customers away because your notifications have overloaded their browser.
If implemented properly, you could easily triple your conversion rates. Just be sure your notifications don't appear spammy or distract your customers from what they originally came to do.
Don't Ignore Disgruntled Customers Who Can't Buy Due to "Out of Stock" Items
Also be sure to use these notifications when stock levels reach zero.
Most e-commerce stores neglect customers who inevitably become frustrated due to the infamous "out of stock" situation.
Just because an item is out of stock doesn't mean your prospective customer or you, should leave empty handed.
If you really want to move the needle with your store's conversion rates, consider offering a $10 discount or more (one-time use), as both an apology (item being out of stock) and a fresh start to winning them back.
Use email automation software to send automated emails when a visitor requests to receive a $10 discount.
Tools like ViralLoops come with fraud prevention features, to ensure that only 1 code can be given to each customer.
If you’re looking for a less intrusive way to use urgency, emulate how this Etsy store is using urgency to encourage visitors to purchase right now.
4. Spruce up Your Product Marketing
Many E-commerce stores seem to throw their buyer personas out of the window as soon as they need to write product descriptions.
Writing product descriptions is potentially one of the most laborious, yet rewarding activities you can do for your store. Simply put, what you write will determine whether a customer decides to add that item to their basket.
In other words, product descriptions are worth millions of dollars in real terms.
So, it's not good enough to copy & paste product copy across all your items. You must ensure that your product descriptions are written with your ideal customer in mind at all times.
Optinmonster has compiled an excellent list of buyer persona templates you can use for your e-commerce store.
Use the same language your very own customers use to describe your problems.
People tend to buy from those they know, like and trust. And a big part of building this relationship is to make them feel like you understand their plight.
And if your copy fails to form an emotional connection with your ideal customer, you're losing valuable money.
Reinvest in quality photography
Poor product photos are one of the biggest conversion killers for e-commerce stores. Ensure your product can be seen from every angle. Include at least 4 images of the item, with one of them showing the product being used in the real world.
Don't be afraid to incorporate video marketing here too.
Ask a previous customer who absolutely loves this product to do a video review. (If you're lucky you may not have to even pay them!).
Make sure you embed this video on the product page and watch your conversion rates skyrocket.
Make your video reviews work harder by embedding them in the specific places on the page where your website visitors drop off the most.
Use heatmap software to identify the areas on your product pages which kill your conversion rates. You can then use video to "plug the gaps", which will help reinvigorate interest in your products and lower your exit-rates.
5. Offer a Replenishment Subscription Service
What would it mean for your e-commerce store if you could get paid month, after month by the same customer, for the same products?
If you sell everyday items on your store, consider creating a subscription service which automatically sends items to customers on a regular schedule which they can change at will.
Amazon's Subscribe & Save subscription offer is very good example of this being put to good use.
You could throw in a 5-15% discount, for example if they want to buy new toothbrush heads every 4 months.
The underlying message here is "if you buy more upfront (in bulk), we'll give you a discount on your order."
Doing this will lead to higher sales as every time your customer needs that item, they won't ever go to a competitor as they know their next batch is coming from you.
6. Develop a Buyer-Centric Content Marketing Strategy
As an e-commerce business owner, you should have marketing initiatives in place to attract customers during every stage of the buyer's journey.
Remember, each customer has their very own buyer's journey. Some start at "attract", some want to buy now, whilst others jump back and forth for weeks before making that commitment.
However, most e-commerce stores seem to completely neglect the "attract" phase and jump right in to converting and closing.
What would it mean for your business if you could help your customers during the research phase, without them having to go elsewhere?
Unless you're the only e-commerce store in the world selling your products, you're throwing away a portion of your revenue every time a customer has to leave your store to do research.
There's no guarantee that they'll return to buy from you.
Let your customers depend on you, not Google.
After all, it's your responsibility to educate your prospects about your products. Not Google's.
Use Your Blog to Educate Your Prospects
If you could create high-quality content which helps solve problems and customer objections, you've already won half the battle.
How do you know what to write about? By performing keyword research around the problem your product solves.
For example, let's say you sell bedroom lamps and lights which help babies and toddlers sleep.
Keywords such as "best night lamps for sleeping" and "benefits of night-lights" would be perfect for this product.
You could create blog content which answers these queries and direct people to the night lights you sell on your store.
Tip: Whilst targeting buyer intent keywords to drive traffic to your core product pages is a smart strategy. Don't forget the importance of targeting keywords which aren't heavily purchase oriented.
The key to acquiring customers during the attract phase lies in creating content which closely matches the needs and desires of your ideal buyer personas.
Think about what outcomes your customer hopes to achieve with each of your products and work backwards to create content which helps them achieve this goal.
7. Harness the Power of User-Generated Content (Get Your Customers Involved Beyond the Sale)
What do the biggest websites and e-commerce stores in the world have which sets them apart from all the rest?
Google, YouTube, Facebook, Amazon, eBay, Lush.
Do they have better marketers, engineers or web developers? Not in the slightest.
They have user-generated content, and they're willing to spend anything up to the tens of millions to get it.
What would Google be without access to billions of web pages the world has created?
What would YouTube be without people like you and me, who create and publish these videos?
What would Amazon be without product reviews from millions of happy to disgruntled customers?
These juggernaughts understand that they can't thrive without getting their customers involved beyond the sale.
The truth is in the pudding, user-generated content is the missing ingredient that could add thousands of dollars in "unexpected sales" to your e-commerce store.
You just have to be clever about it. Here's how:
- Start accepting reviews if you don't already. Have an email automation campaign setup to create a repeatable process for accepting and publishing reviews on your store.
- Utilize influencer marketing to get your brand exposed to thousands of potential customers.
- Create viral referral programs which reward your customers and their friends the more they shop with you.
8. Set Your Email Marketing into Overdrive with Contests
You're probably aware of how effective email marketing is for reducing cart abandonment.
But it can do so much more for your e-commerce store. Here's some quick-wins you can implement immediately to turn your email marketing into your personal sales machine.
Use Contests to Build Your Email List
Contests are a great way to grow your list of targeted leads, whilst making sales at the same time.
Shopify's Build a Business Competition is one of the most successful entrepreneurial contests going. Every year Shopify mentors thousands of e-commerce entrepreneurs who are on a quest to build a successful e-commerce store.
What's so clever about this competition is how much it benefits Shopify's brand.
Thousands of merchants give their email address each year to get access to their university and mentors. With this in mind, Shopify can easily sell their e-commerce platform to everyone who decides to take part.
Here's how you can use a contest like this for your e-commerce store:
- Choose items from a new product line to giveaway as part of a contest
- Ensure you receive everyone's email address and setup a referral campaign to get more entrants
- Once a winner has been chosen, create a Facebook re-marketing ad campaign to target everyone who didn't win and give them a 10% discount when they visit your store.
Remember, they entered the competition because they wanted what you had to offer. Since they've been exposed to this product, they're already further down the buyer's journey and would therefore become more receptive to buying if presented with a good deal.
Use these e-commerce marketing strategies to your heart's content and start growing your business today. Remember to test and tweak these strategies to suit your brand and overall marketing strategy. What marketing strategies have you used for your e-commerce store? Let us know in the comments.