Ecommerce is a business that sells products through a website. It’s synonymous with an online store. These products can be physical like shoes, cosmetics, books, groceries, etc. Or they can be online courses, training programs and memberships, ready meal subscriptions, renting fashion items, and so on.
If you sell only your own products through a website, you’re a direct-to-consumer business. If you have both a brick-and-mortar and online shop, your model is a hybrid. Ecommerce retailers can also sell other brands’ products that they don’t produce themselves.
Now you know where you stand in the world of selling online, let’s dive into marketing your ecommerce business.
What Are the Types of Ecommerce Marketing?
Ecommerce marketing spans virtually all digital marketing channels as well as some offline, traditional ones:
- Search engines
- Social media
- Email marketing
- Owned media like blogs
- Non-owned online publications and podcasts
- Offline marketing e.g. print, TV spots
Let’s look at the ecommerce marketing strategies most popular among ecommerce marketers. You’ll get a full picture of the many possibilities to help you decide which best fit your brand.
Search engine optimization (SEO) is making your website more visible and easily discoverable on search engines (Google, Bing, etc.). It’s mostly about adding keywords to your site copy that potential customers would use when searching for products like yours. Then, the search engine recognizes you have what they want and shows you high in the results.
This way, you capture people with high purchase intent — like someone searching for “men’s white linen shirt”. It’s also a chance to convert people who don’t know your brand. Finally, SEO is a free way of marketing your ecommerce business.
Ecommerce SEO should be done on product page copy, your home page (meta description too), and FAQ page. Starting a blog will also help boost your SEO. There, you can answer potential buyers’ questions such as, “How to wash a linen shirt?”
Email marketing is a key strategy for promoting your ecommerce. It’s a channel you own as it’s not controlled by a big company like Facebook, Google or Amazon. This makes it cheaper and very reliable.
All you have to do is choose an email marketing service. Then, you can start building your email list and sending them email campaigns. The main features to look for are:
- Transactional emails — order confirmations, tracking updates, logins and password resets
- Automated emails — triggered automatically by a certain condition being met or a customer’s action
- Segmented emails — tailored to specific customer segments with relevant offers based on their purchase history and behavior on site
Looking for a platform to manage all your ecommerce emails in one place?
The more you know about your subscribers, the more relevant email campaigns you can send. A CRM added to your email tool will enable you to reach everyone at the right time with the right offer.
There are many types of emails you can send to engage and convert your subscribers:
- Welcome email — like onboarding to your website and brand
- Drip nurture email — a series of emails with content informing and educating about the product until the person is ready to buy
- Abandoned cart email — reminds the customer they’ve added something to their shopping cart but haven’t purchased, a gentle nudge to complete the checkout
- Post-purchase email — continue building a relationship with the customer to stimulate more orders
- Upsells and cross-sells — email offers with products related to past purchases
- Win back email — reactivating an idle customer who hasn’t ordered anything in a long time
- Loyalty reward email — thank your loyal customers with an extra perk, a next-level discount, or a freebie
- VIP offer email — engage VIP customers with a special offer just for them to make them feel appreciated
- Ecommerce newsletter — a regular update on your brand and products so you stay top-of-mind
Conversion rate optimization
The measures you take to convert as many site visitors as possible is called conversion rate optimization. You’ve worked hard and/or paid for your traffic so you want it to result in sales. Traffic without revenue is nothing.
There are various tactics you can use on your website to drive sales:
- Push notifications
- Live chat
- User reviews & user-generated content (UGC)
- Choosing guides
- VR fitting and placement tools e.g. for fashion or furniture
Live chat helps convert site visitors just like a sales assistant in a physical store
SMS marketing is sending text messages for promotional purposes. It’s best for alerts, updates, and time-limited offers that need to be read immediately.
An example would be an automated SMS with a special discount going out on the morning of a customer’s birthday. Shipping updates are another key ecommerce communication that works well for SMS.
Just keep in mind that you need the contact’s permission to send them SMS. Also, some countries regulate this kind of marketing heavily so check before you send.
SMS marketing is great for limited-time offers
Organic social media marketing
This is your unpaid presence on social media platforms like Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, TikTok and wherever else your audience hangs out. Today it’s an absolute must to be discoverable on such sites. It’s a way for people to know you’re in business and often determines if they will visit your website at all.
When marketing for ecommerce, you can share company updates, educate about your products, and promote causes aligned with your brand values. Essentially any topic relevant to your target audience that’s likely to engage them!
In addition, you can set up social commerce, which is selling on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest directly. It’s an extra online sales channel for people who don’t want to go to your website to browse and buy products.
Paid social media marketing
Often organic social reach is not enough for ecommerce businesses and you might need to pay to play. This means two things in general — ads and influencer marketing campaigns on Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, TikTok, etc.
Ad formats vary depending on the social media platform. You’ll have to test them to find what works best for your ecommerce store.
Then, there’s influencer marketing — paying popular people on social media to promote your products. They can help you reach difficult audiences like eco-conscious moms or hardcore perfume fans. They also represent the product as part of a lifestyle so it enhances the brand image.
Some influencers charge a hard fee but others work on commission. You pay for the sales made through them, not for the exposure. Try working with different ones with followings of various sizes. You might find that the micro influencers convert better because they’re more focused and better fit your niche.
Apart from social media, you can pay for more exposure on search engines as well. The most popular options are:
- Pay-per-click (PPC, Google AdWords) — appear on top of search results for chosen keywords, e.g. “recycled shoes”
- Google shopping — a free service where you can list your entire product range with images and prices, and directly capture high-intent shoppers
- Display campaigns (banner ads on sites) — based on searches and browsing behavior so the potential customer sees your ad for “cat tree” on a news site, for example, after browsing for one
Affiliate marketing is an interesting part of ecommerce marketing. It relies on a network of affiliates, or referrers, who drive traffic to your online store and get paid for each sale they help make.
It’s usually done through blog posts where they talk about your products or simply list their picks in a certain category. Influencers posting directly on social media and thus replacing affiliate marketing has been one of the ongoing ecommerce trends lately. Affiliate marketing is, however, still alive and thriving for Amazon sellers.
You can join forces with other companies in the form of a partnership to extend your reach to their audience as well. It’s an effective marketing strategy for lifestyle ecommerce brands with overlapping target customers.
For example, you can agree to swap email lists so each brand connects with more potential customers. Just label the email campaign properly so subscribers understand their details have not been sold. Another option is to create a special cross-brand offer for both brands’ clients.
PR and brand awareness
PR sounds outdated in ecommerce marketing but it’s not. Especially at launch, you’ll benefit from getting featured in media publications both offline and online.
It can be a founder interview, a mention in a listicle (X gift ideas for Y), or getting your headliner featured in a photoshoot. Whatever fits your product, the goal is to increase brand awareness and create demand.
And let’s not forget events and sponsorship opportunities. Going offline and meeting your customers in real life is a great exercise for ecommerce businesses. Local fairs, pop-up stores, and themed expos are not to be overlooked in ecommerce marketing.
The best practice here is to choose the events you support carefully to get closer to your target and not alienate them.
Ecommerce content marketing
Content is another marketing tactic that can bring long-term results to ecommerce businesses. It comes in many formats:
- Blog articles
- Guides and help content
- User-generated content — photos, video, forum entries, testimonials
The goal of content marketing is to answer questions, educate, expand the company narrative, help people choose a product, and even entertain.
It’s your chance to tell your story, share your expertise and values, overcome potential objections, and reassure potential or current customers you’re a good business to shop from.
The best thing about content is that, once created, it’s out there working for you. When optimized for search and easily found on site, it can boost your conversion rate. It can also be reused for other ecommerce marketing campaigns such as newsletters, organic social, and partnerships.