Let’s talk numbers.
Statista has some very jarring stats that any reasonable business person should really take into consideration. Global retail eCommerce sales are expected to land just below $3 TRILLION this year. (Yes…that is trillion with a T.)
But that’s not all. That number is expected to reach $4.5 trillion by 2021. That’s a mere 3 years away. That’s also an anticipated 246 percent increase from 2014.
Seems like easy pickings, right? Not without the proper e-commerce marketing plan in place.
Whether you’re in the process of expanding your business or developing your eCommerce website, there’s plenty of data-driven trends and techniques that you can use to your advantage to ensure your eCommerce marketing strategy is getting you sales.Global #ecommerce sales are expected to reach $4.5 trillion by 2021. #CobaltDigitalMarketing Click To Tweet
Some E-commerce Basics
If you’re a beginner to e-commerce, let’s run down some of the basics. E-commerce websites are essentially websites where businesses and their customers can participate in a transaction of goods or services and payment. Nowadays, there are plenty of eCommerce platforms – such as Shopify – which allow merchants to design and develop websites, market, and sell their goods to consumers around the world (or nationally if chosen).
Another form of e-commerce focuses on mobile devices. With mobile e-commerce estimated to reach 70 percent of all traffic this year, it’s safe to say that mobile has already become the preferred method of e-commerce shopping and payment.
While the most common form of e-commerce website is retail, there are various types that are sure to meet your business’s needs (and they come with their own little acronyms):
- Business-to-Business (B2B): This form of e-commerce occurs between companies (e.g. a parts manufacturer that sells their product to car manufacturers via an online sales portal).
- Business-to-Consumer (B2C): E-commerce between companies and individual consumers (e.g. online retailers such as Amazon )
- Consumer-to-Consumer (C2C): E-commerce between consumers that generally requires a third party to assist with the transaction. (e.g. eBay)
A few more non-traditional forms of e-commerce can include:
- Consumer-to-Business (C2B): Businesses pay consumers for online real estate on the consumer’s website (can include social influencers on various forms of social media).
- Business-to-Government: E-commerce business between businesses and government bodies or public administrations.
Whatever type of business you may have, you’ll do well to utilize an e-commerce platform to – at the very least – get your name out there. With 56 percent of in-store purchases influenced by online activity, an e-commerce presence will help get you in front of the right audience.#mobile #eCommerce is estimated to reach 70% of all traffic this year, becoming the preferred method to shop online. #CobaltDigitalMarketing Click To Tweet
E-commerce Marketing & Channels
Naturally, if you have an e-commerce site then you will want to promote it to raise awareness about your brand and products or services. This is where e-commerce/digital marketing comes into play.
Using the right digital marketing strategies and channels will allow you to do a number of things including:
- Drive traffic to your site
- Convert shoppers
- Take control of your brand image
- Grow your company
- Improve customer experience
- Improve product(s) based on customer preferences
Effectively marketing your e-commerce company gives you the competitive edge you need to improve your revenue stream. Getting to this point, however, is going to require you to take full advantage of the proper marketing channels. These are crucial tools that will help build your brand and get you in front of your potential customers.
The most effective channels for eCommerce include some internet giants – like Facebook and Google – as well as techniques that thrive on organic traffic generation. These eCommerce marketing channels include:
- Pay-per-click advertising (PPC) – This channel works through data, keywords, and strategy. The two largest players of this channel are – surprise – Facebook Ads and Google Adwords. Both systems can provide you invaluable data (if you know what to look for) to help you adequately target your market – but it literally comes with a price. Search engines earn money on a per-click basis, so each keyword or phrase involves you bidding on those used to create your ads.
- Search engine optimization (SEO) – SEO is the technique used to boost your organic results across search engines, with the the most important being Google. Ranking high in organic results requires a combination of digital marketing best practices including meaningful and frequent content creation, social media engagement, on-page and off-page SEO, social media engagement, and other factors.
- Retargeting – This can be a really powerful tool when used correctly. At its basis, retargeting allows for you to advertise to users who have already visited your eCommerce website. Cookies follow users as they browse the Web and allow for retargeting ads to appear when they search keywords related to your product.
- Email marketing – Email marketing is still a valuable weapon to have in your repertoire. Whether it’s reaching out to potential customers about abandoned carts on your site or targeting current and past customers about new items and sales, the right, personalized email marketing can help you achieve your goals. Just make sure to spend some time on them.
- Display advertising – The only way to get your name out there is to get you in front of an audience. This is where display advertising shines. This form of marketing is essentially purchasing online real estate. These advertisements appear on other websites and can include banners, sidebars, and other visual advertisements.
- Content marketing – This is the common thread that ties in all of the previously mentioned channels. One of the strongest forms of marketing, the right blog, content piece, video, or engaging quiz can really draw customers to your eCommerce site. Make sure you always give your content its just due.
These channels all play a role in your larger digital marketing scheme and should work in unison, providing you the advertising advantage you need to drive traffic to your online store.
What’s Happening in the World of eCommerce Marketing
The world of eCommerce can be a competitive one, so it’s best to strategize and use effective industry practices to place yourself in a position for growth.
Because the online world is ever changing, however, it requires you to constantly be on your toes to keep up with the latest industry trends. Search engines (read: Google) are frequently changing their algorithms, and advertising platforms change their requirements and stipulations. This means that you have strike the right balance between proven tactics and emerging marketing channels.
Doing so doesn’t have to be too much of a challenge, though. Let the good folks at Cobalt Digital give you a bit of insight into what’s happening in the world of eCommerce marketing in terms of established strategies and burgeoning methods.
What to Execute
- Design for sells. A poorly designed website with horrible user experience (UX) functions can really put dent in your sales. Intuitive and easy navigation, solid product descriptions, plenty of meaningful and quality visuals, and an easy ordering process will help improve your online store.
- Product reviews are essential. There’s no way around it. It’s estimated that more than 88 percent of online shoppers take reviews into consideration. This can be especially beneficial (or harmful) for small, local businesses. Online reviews are becoming increasingly important for businesses (and consumers), so make sure to offer a reward for a review. If you happen to get that occasional bad review, make sure to respond in a timely manner (and take it as a learning experience).
- Mobile optimization. This is a hot term in the digital world for a very good reason. There are 125 million U.S. consumers on smartphones and 62 percent of smartphone users have a made a purchase on their mobile device within the last 6 months. Of course mobile optimization doesn’t only mean having a site that’s mobile ready. Your website will benefit from plenty of visual content (here’s looking at you, video), easy navigation, easy-to-fill-out contact forms, tap-to-call phone numbers, and ease of purchase tools.
- Engage, engage, engage. There’s plenty of opportunity for you to actively engage with your audience. Whether it’s through social media, email newsletters, featured blogs, online promotions, and other touching points, keep your engagement fun, honest, and personal.
- No more cart abandonment. This is the top fear of any eCommerce business – the dreaded abandoned cart. While the number isn’t written in stone, most studies place cart abandonment between 55 to 80 percent. Regardless, even having HALF of all your shoppers leave your site without completing a purchase should motivate you into action. Email recovery campaigns, wishlist reminder emails, pre-order specials, and adequately managing out-of-stock orders will help reduce the number of carts abandoned, generating much more revenue for your business.
Trends to Watch For
While certain industry best practices (e.g. mobile optimization) are gold standards and a necessity for any new or established eCommerce business, there’s also new trends and advancements in technology that change the landscape essentially every year. While you won’t want to jump at every shiny, new tool, it doesn’t hurt to experiment with them either.
A few of the more intriguing trends to be on the lookout for include:
- Voice Search – According to an estimate made by ComScore, more than 50 percent of searches will be voice-based by 2020, and mobile is playing a major role.
- Chatbots – Chatbots are quickly becoming the go-to solution for customer service, sales, and for providing information. Because they can essentially function 24 hours a day, chatbots act as the perfect option for a customer base that wants an immediate response.
- High-Quality Videos – Showcasing your product through high-quality video gives potential clients exactly what they need to understand its functionality and design. Plus, videos offer the ability to tell a story much more efficiently than a strictly text-based ad.
- Social Media – While not new, social media platforms are constantly changing, and digital marketers constantly develop new means by which to use these channels. Take, for instance, the Facebook changes that took place earlier this year. Business profiles were going to take a backseat to family and social ties; what we took from that was the importance of developing an actual community around your product or business. Simply selling your product through Facebook or Instagram isn’t going to be enough. You’ll have to reach new audiences through social media influencers and effective branding.
- Brick-and-Mortar – There’s still plenty of value in a traditional brick-and-mortar store, and tying it in with your eCommerce site can prove to be worthwhile. You’ll need an adequate tool that can gather data from your social, mobile, online purchases, in-store inventory, analytics, and various other sources to find the correlation between your eCommerce marketing and in-store purchases. This can help you better define your ads and marketing scheme, ultimately creating higher-conversion and sales.