Let’s face it, marketing an ecommerce store is hard! Many ecommerce businesses subscribe to the “if you build it, they will come” philosophy, which unfortunately does not work. Others struggle to reach the right audience or feel helplessly overwhelmed as they try to stay current with the latest trends and marketing strategies available to promote their ecommerce store.
If this sounds like you, you’re in the right place.
This article focuses on six proven marketing strategies you can use to promote your ecommerce store, reach more potential customers, and increase sales for your business.
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Why market your ecommerce store?
Why is marketing your ecommerce store so important? It’s simple: customers can’t purchase from your store if they don’t know it exists! Marketing generates more traffic to your store and more opportunities to convert these visitors into potential customers. While this is especially true for ecommerce websites, this applies to all types of online businesses.
Think about marketing your ecommerce store in terms of three main segments:
- People who have shopped with you before or know about your store
- People who are looking for the product or service that you offer
- People who would want the product or service that you offer if they knew about it
For the first segment, you want a direct line of communication with them. For example, you can communicate with them directly through email, content marketing, or social media.
With the second segment, you need to focus on strategies to help them discover the products and services you offer that meet their needs. Strategies like search engine optimization (SEO), content marketing, and search engine marketing work well with this group.
Finally, reaching the third segment is all about brand awareness. Do your target customers use a competitor’s solution? Does your business provide a solution for a problem they don’t know exists? How well do your values and branding resonate with your target customers? The answers to these questions will help you identify how to approach marketing to this group.
With this in mind, let’s explore the top marketing strategies you can begin implementing today to promote your ecommerce store.
1. Build and develop your email list
Email marketing is still one of the most effective marketing channels available today. With an average return of $42 for every dollar spent, it’s one of the most cost-effective and conversion-rich ways to sell your products. Best of all, email is an “owned” channel, meaning you control the content and delivery of your message.
Focus on collecting as many email addresses as possible from customers, prospects, and people interested in your services. Many businesses use pop-up boxes encouraging users to enter their email address in exchange for a small promotion, such as 10% off or free shipping on their first order.
There are several strategies you can use to market to your email list. For example, you can provide exclusive promotions to email subscribers, offer referral discounts encouraging subscribers to share your store with family and friends, and set up abandoned cart email sequences.
Be sure to develop a regular cadence with your email list and share a variety of content. Repeatedly asking customers to purchase without sharing high-quality, useful content will quickly lead them to unsubscribe.
2. Boost your social media presence
Giving extra attention to your social media accounts is one of the best and easiest ways to increase digital engagement with your ecommerce store. Don’t spread yourself too thin, you don’t have to be everywhere on social media. Instead, focus your energy on the channels appropriate for your target customer and overall marketing goals.
If you currently have a significant social media presence with a core demographic, start by expanding on that. Increase your post frequency, spend time developing vibrant images and short, compelling videos. Increasing social media engagement with your followers raises the likelihood that their followers will become aware of your brand.
Similar to email, focus on building a real connection with your audience instead of repeatedly promoting your products. Try hosting giveaways, encouraging customers to share images using relevant hashtags, sharing user-generated content, and working with active influencers within your industry. Also be sure to interact with customers who engage with your content or share images of your products!
3. Optimize your site for SEO
A large portion of your store’s traffic will come from search engines, like Google. Based on SimilarWeb’s statistics, 27% traffic for ecommerce stores comes from organic search, making it the second biggest traffic channel behind direct traffic.
Although this marketing strategy takes time, it will eventually become cheaper to acquire customers through organic search vs. paid advertising, making it worth the long term investment.
One of the biggest mistakes ecommerce sites make is focusing so much on growing traffic numbers that they lose sight of their true goal. Remember, more traffic is great, but traffic is useless unless you are able to convert new visitors into paying customers. Your primary goal with SEO is to bring in highly targeted visitors who will convert into customers and purchase from your store. Your primary KPI shouldn’t be number of visitors, it should be the number of orders or sales per month from organic search.
SEO is a very broad term, and trying to optimize your site can be overwhelming. Here are a few tips to keep in mind if you’re just starting out with SEO:
- Keep your target customers in mind. How do they talk about your products?
- Write engaging meta descriptions. Search engines display your meta descriptions in search results, so promote your page’s value proposition and entice users to click through.
- Optimize your on-page content, like product titles, descriptions, images, and blog articles. Use keywords that your customers may use to search for your products.
- Fix site usability issues. Google now includes user experience as a ranking factor in their algorithm, so ignoring usability issue will hurt your SEO optimization efforts.
- Create content that answers customers’ questions, even if your product isn’t part of the solution.
4. Create compelling, useful content
Most online businesses understand the value of having a strong online presence. They build great online stores, invest in paid advertising, and create social media profiles. However, their content marketing strategy is basically non-existent.
Content marketing is a huge opportunity for online businesses to generate highly-targeted traffic, especially in niche industries. According to DemandMetric, content marketing generates three times as many leads and costs 62% less than traditional outbound marketing strategies.
Creating compelling content and providing helpful information helps potential customers discover your brand and establishes you as an authority in your industry. The type of content you create will vary based on your target customers and where they spend time online.
To help you brainstorm ideas that may resonate with your audience, here’s a list of common types of content brands create:
- Blog articles
- Social media posts
- White papers
5. Experiment with Google Ads (and Microsoft Ads)
Paid search ads are, surprisingly, one of the marketing channels online businesses often overlook. Why is that? Well, we’ve all heard horror stories of businesses spending massive amounts of money on PPC ads only to never see results. Plus, 94% of users skip right over the search ads to view the organic search results.
So why do we suggest experimenting with Google Ads? It’s simple, Google owns 92% of global search market share and 88% of the US search market share. You’re potentially missing out on finding customers through the largest search engine in the world.
While optimizing your site for SEO will help drive organic search traffic, running PPC ads has many benefits. Your paid search campaigns are instantly visible and allow you to run targeted ads. For example, you can target specific audiences based on location, behavior, past actions, and other filters. Both platforms also provide a ton of data to measure and improve your campaign performance to help you maximize your ROI.
The cost of your campaigns is largely driven by the competitiveness of the keywords you target. But you only pay when someone clicks on your ad. Both Google and Microsoft allow you to control every penny you spend. You can set daily ad spending limits to make sure you don’t break the bank as you attract visitors and convert them to customers.
In addition to text ads, you can also run Google Shopping Ads. Google displays Shopping Ads as a product carousel at the top of the search results page, showing different products, their prices, and average reviews. While subtle, the carousel shows a Sponsored or Ads tag in the upper right corner of the carousel.
PPC can be tricky, and I highly recommend investing time researching how to effectively use PPC advertising. But if you’re willing to learn and experiment with a small budget, you can reach a massive target market with high buyer intent, run retargeting campaigns, and drive more traffic and sales.
6. Use paid advertising on social platforms
As of October 2021, there are over 4.55 billion people on social media, a whopping 57.6% of the global population! We already discussed the importance of boosting your organic social media presence, but paid advertising is a great way to enhance your social media marketing. You know the social media platforms your target audience uses, so most of your advertising budget should be spent on those platforms. For example, if your audience spends a lot of time on Instagram but not Facebook, you’ll want to focus on Instagram ads.
Use simple and engaging photos and videos in your ads. A photo ad can be a great way to get your product in front of a new audience. Videos are a great way to tell the story behind your product or brand. If you use video, be sure to keep them short and make sure people can understand your video without hearing the audio. According to Digiday, 85% of Facebook videos are watched without sound.
OK, so all you have to do is create an ad with compelling imagery, set it to run on your chosen social media platform, and then watch traffic and sales skyrocket, right? Sadly, it doesn’t work that way.
One of the biggest mistakes I see ecommerce stores make with paid advertising is creating a single ad and targeting a mass audience. Like Google, social media platforms allow you to target your ads to audiences matching specific criteria. Creating a single ad and targeting a mass audience may seem like a good idea, but in reality it’s lazy and you will end up wasting money. Use the insight about your audience to create multiple ads and target each one to a specific segment of your audience. Keyword targeting and other audience targeting methods help turn average ads into high-performing ads that generate sales!
You can have the greatest ecommerce store on the internet, but if people don’t know your site exists, you will have a hard time generating sales. Promoting your store and acquiring new customers can be difficult and feel overwhelming. We’ve covered six proven strategies you can begin implementing in your business today, and with some patience, perseverance, and consistency, I promise you will start seeing results!
Mo Sheikh is an entrepreneur, developer, and marketer. As the Founder of Adaptyve Digital, he helps teach ecommerce business owners ways to manage, grow, and scale their business.