Now that you have a brand new e-commerce website to showcase your great products and services, how do you get visitors to come and shop? Unlike a brick-and-mortar store, customers can’t easily pass by your online store without some sort of marketing efforts on your end. We’ve put together 7 of the most important marketing channels that every E-commerce company needs to activate.
The best E-commerce marketing channels
E-commerce is a booming industry, with $601.75 billion online sales with U.S. merchants alone in 2019. According to the U.S. Department of Commerce quarterly e-commerce report, this figure represents a 14.9% increase from the previous year. Clearly, there are a lot of opportunities for growth, as well as competitors. In order to stand out from the crowd, there are a few elements your site needs to consider:
- Organic traffic (SEO optimization)
- Pay-per-click traffic referral
- Email marketing
- Content marketing (blog posts, case studies, etc.)
- Social media marketing
- Influencer marketing
- Existing customer referral
All of these channels exist for different purposes, and some come with more effort and price points than others.
1. Organic traffic (SEO optimization)
When customers search for a product on a search engine, like Google or Bing, they will immediately see two types of results: “Ad” or “organic” (unpaid) results. If they clicked on the latter, it is considered “organic traffic”, which is oftentimes considered the most ideal and cost-effective solution to increasing traffic.
However, to have your website appear on top of Google’s search results, an amazing Search Engine Optimization (SEO) strategy needs to be in place. SEO is the process of increasing the visibility of your website and is largely based on computer-based algorithms. Generally, your website needs to satisfy both the quality and quantity of materials corresponding to the keywords or phrases that your customers search for.
SEO is an intricate part of marketing that most companies choose to tackle it in one of two ways: in-house or by hiring support from external professional services. How ever you implement it, this solution is only cost-effective as long as you keep up with industry-standards and the ever-changing search engine algorithm. SEO is a powerful strategy to attract constant and quality customers. (Think: If a user is already searching for a “powerful lawnmower”, they most likely are already looking to purchase one.)
2. Pay-per-click traffic referral
We mentioned the “Ad” section of a search engine result: This is where the Pay-per-click (PPC) portion comes in, and comes in strong. While most marketers aim to have a strong SEO performance, it’s also an important boost to have PPC with Google Ads or similar services. This channel is especially important when positioning your brand against your competitors in the field: An “Ad” result will put your name and brand up top.
Pay-per-click, however, can be a pricey option. As the name suggests, each time a customer clicks on your website through the PPC link, you will pay the hosting engine. This number can rack up quickly, especially if your visitors are not converting to paying visitors and thus justifying the cost of PPC investment. Depending on your industry and related keywords, some can be extremely costly due to the competitive nature of ranking against that keyword or phrase. However, the good news is that you can monitor and shut off any pricey keywords if they are underperforming.
Another great way to make use of PPC is to optimize your landing page with an encouraging call-to-action, so that visitors can make a purchase easily, instead of casually browsing.
3. Email marketing
Email marketing is another cost-effective way to capture your customers’ attention and interest. In fact, email marketing is reported to yield an incredible $38 Return on Investment (ROI) per $1 spent (3,800% is a pretty hefty number!)
Achieving an ROI that high with email marketing is achievable and affordable by simply working with your existing database of customers and a suitable email marketing solution correlating to the size of your business. With that said, the art of a good email and subject line are sought after skills! You know what we are referring to: boring, corporate emails with a generic subject line are commonplace, and low open rates go right alongside them!
There are many incredible ways that you can utilize this direct gateway to your customers’ inboxes. You can get creative by offering exclusive offers, latest product launches or updates, and even checking in with customers when they “abandon” their cart. Email marketing is, in fact, the most effective way to communicate with customers when compared to brochures, catalogs, or phone calls. If you’re targeting millennials, email marketing is your friend, as 73% of younger generations prefer communication from businesses via email.
A quick tip to make your email communication more effective is to keep mobile users in mind. 47% of all users check their email on their phone, so it’s not surprising to read that mobile-friendly content, including emails and newsletters, is a must. Keep in mind you’ll need a short, catchy subject line that fits onto a phone screen, as well as a clear call-to-action button so viewers can be directed to your website.
4. Content marketing
Content marketing exists in the form of blog posts on your website (like this very blog post you are reading!), case studies, infographics, e-books, and any other content-rich materials that are valuable to your customers. While content marketing aims to surround your products, offering value at every stage of your customers’ journey, it’s important to understand which formats are most efficient: anything that helps broaden your reach within the industry and to new audiences is worth exploring, think about fun how-to resources, interviews, Q&As, webinars or free educational resources that appeal to your target audience. Glossier, a makeup brand, is a great example of how a brand can go beyond its main product and still add value to its customers through its content. Glossier created freebies that customers and prospects could download from its website, like music or wallpapers, which appeals to that demographic through aesthetics and lifestyle.
Content marketing can take a lot of work but is important and worthwhile to secure your brand as an industry leader. In order to gain your customers’ trust and confidence in your products, you need to show that your brand knows what it is doing. So, When a customer searches for “lawn health during winter” with no intention of buying a lawnmower, yet lo and behold, your blog post on the topic appears in the search results, guiding your potential customers into your website and the products they never knew they needed.
5. Social media marketing
Social media marketing is a rather new and exciting channel, compared to the other strategies mentioned above. Recently, more and more brands have made efforts to increase their social media presence, and all for a good reason. According to Facebook, 83% of people say Instagram helps them discover new products and services. With the new “tap-to-shop” feature on Instagram, it is clear that social media is becoming a vital part of e-commerce that businesses can’t ignore.
There are many ways that your business can utilize social media marketing. Having paid ads on Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, etc. is a great route to introduce your brand to the public, but it shouldn’t stop there. Your brand should also have a strong online presence through a branded Instagram account, or even a YouTube channel, or a Facebook business account, more often than not, most businesses choose to be present on all platforms. Although we would urge you to find the best channels for your service or product and truly focus on a clear strategic approach and target audience. This will not only enhance your brand’s professionalism but also offer you a unique new way to interact with customers.
While newsletters are great ways to send customers new information, social media is an excellent opportunity to actually have a conversation with them. Many brands dedicate a social team to interact with customers’ questions, comments, or suggestions on their own Instagram posts and direct messages. On top of that, an Instagram account is also a great way to express your brand’s identity. Lush, for example, frequently posts about social justice issues outside of their own products.
6. Influencer marketing
Influencer marketing can be considered one of the most successful levers that sit within your social media marketing strategy, but it can also be considered a stand-alone approach to getting your name out into the social media world. This is because influencers offer a unique human voice, authenticity, and trustworthiness to your brand. In fact, 70% of teens report trusting influencers more than traditional celebrities when it comes to product recommendations.
The beauty of influencer marketing is that it can either be done in a more focused setting or at scale. If you don’t have a large budget to partner with big influencers, there are a myriad of micro and mid-size influencers who might be happy to exchange products for a shoutout or review. At the same time, if you choose to work with hundreds or thousands of influencers at once, it’s also achievable with new technologies and solutions, like the Upfluence software.
In order to drive direct traffic to your sites, remember to integrate a way for influencers to refer their followers to you. This can be done through a custom link to the product page that an influencer can share, or a discount code so customers are more inclined to check out the product and support their favorite content creators.
7. Existing customer referral
While looking for new customers is always on top of any business and marketer’s mind, looking inward at existing customers’ networks is also an excellent way to broaden your reach. Your customers have already tried your products, and are most likely already loyal fans. You can leverage their loyalty in many different ways: Through on-site product reviews and testimonials, offering referral links to share with a friend so they can both enjoy a discount, or even turning your customers into your brand ambassadors (organic influencers).
Having a good relationship with your customers is extremely important, and yet many companies stop after the purchase. Working with your customers is easier than you think since there is already a connection and familiarity. On top of that, it is also easier for you to incur a customer’s shoutout or review by offering them a small discount or gift. Some companies automate this step by giving customers a custom referral link at the end of their check-out process, or smartly incorporate special touches into the packaging like their names or a sweet hand-written note – which are totally “Instagram-able”.
These 7 marketing channels can bring tremendous values to your business, with unique values in each strategy. While your brand doesn’t need to incorporate all 7 of them, it is important to have a mix of channels that make the most sense for achieving your goals. On top of that, smartly incorporating different approaches together can further promote success. For example, your email marketing strategy can also link to the various content marketing that you’ve worked hard to create or utilize a mix of influencer marketing and existing customers as new ambassadors. At the end of the day, it is all about putting your brand on the map, and placing it where it can thrive.