A Guide to Marketing for E-Commerce

You’ve come up with a concept for an online store and gave it a name. Then, you figured out how you’d stock its inventory. Next, you created a website to display your product lineup to the world.

But where are all the customers?

Even after putting in all this effort, there’s simply no guarantee online shoppers will actually visit your e-commerce store. E-commerce is a competitive marketplace. Your store must contend with giants and specialty stores alike. Making customers aware of your store and conveying its value requires skill.

With that said, here’s a guide to marketing for e-commerce.

Define Your Marketing Goals

Proprietors must keep both broad and specific goals in mind—and market accordingly. Thus, it’s important to understand the answer to the question: what is an e-commerce business?

In its most basic form, e-commerce is buying and selling products via the Internet. Thus, the primary goal of e-commerce is to earn conversions. But, before this can occur, your website needs traffic. Boosting website traffic is a major functionality of e-commerce marketing—and not just any traffic, but targeted traffic from consumers most likely to want your products.

Another less concrete goal of e-commerce marketing is raising brand awareness. Not every marketing message will aim to drive traffic or conversions; some serve the purpose of making online users aware of your store and its potential value to them.

Any e-commerce marketing endeavor, whether it’s aimed at generating traffic and conversions or increasing brand awareness, should embody SMART objectives:

  • Specific: Marketing objectives must be detailed enough to address the problems and opportunities your e-commerce store faces.
  • Measurable: Objectives must be measurable qualitatively or quantitatively so you can create and track marketing metrics.
  • Actionable: Objectives should always aim to improve performance in some way.
  • Relevant: Make sure your marketing objectives are actually applicable to the challenges you’re addressing.
  • Time-bound: It’s important to apply time periods to each marketing effort so you can measure their performance accordingly.

Utilize Marketing Channels Effectively

Rather than a one-size-fits-all approach to marketing for e-commerce, the exact nature and scope of your campaigns will depend on many factors. These include what you sell, the size of your store, and the preferences of your target customer. Because of this, it’s worthwhile to explore a variety of marketing channels, as each has distinct advantages and disadvantages.

Email marketing tends to be cost-effective, accounting for nearly one-fourth of e-commerce sales. This strategy allows merchants to send promotional offers and reminders directly to customers’ inboxes. However, be warned: it’s easy for recipients to delete generic emails. Focus on personalizing subject lines and body content for best results.

Social media platforms allow marketers to take a versatile approach to acquiring and engaging online users. As part of a content marketing strategy, social media becomes a forum for sharing content with your company’s followers. It’s important to share mostly genuinely useful content peppered with tasteful promotional messages—otherwise, your followers may grow fatigued and unfollow.

Finally, retargeting allows you to recapture “the ones who got away” by serving them targeted ads urging them to return to your website. The key is showing people what they stand to gain by making a purchase from your store.

This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to marketing for e-commerce. Above all, it’s important to define goals for your campaigns so you can measure their success. Then, take a creative approach to a variety of channels to see which ones make an impact on your bottom line.

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