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Updated Apr 03, 2023

How to Develop a Solid E-Commerce Marketing Strategy

E-commerce is becoming a staple of many businesses, so it's important to have a digital marketing strategy that aligns with online selling.

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Jamie Johnson, Senior Analyst & Expert on Business Operations
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If you want to gain new customers and increase your revenue, you need to have a strong e-commerce marketing strategy. A targeted marketing strategy will help you attract the right kinds of customers and grow your income more effectively.

Because there are so many marketing strategies, it can be hard to know where to get started. This article will explain how to develop an e-commerce marketing strategy and give you some ideas to get you started.

How to develop an e-commerce marketing strategy

Many people are interested in learning about individual marketing tactics but fail to put together an overall plan. This is a mistake, because the plan is what will allow your tactics to work together to deliver results over time.

Follow these four steps to develop an e-commerce marketing strategy:

1. Outline your goals.

Before you can come up with a marketing strategy, you need to outline your goals for the year. Here are a few examples of marketing goals:

  • Boost traffic to your site
  • Increase the number of repeat customers
  • Add a certain number of new customers each month
  • Expand your product lines
  • Increase your overall revenue

Once you identify a broad one-year goal, try to get increasingly granular with your objectives. For instance, if your goal is to gain new customers, you might specify that you want to convert 100 new customers every month.

2. Identify your target market.

Once you’ve outlined your goals, it’s time to define your target market. You have to know who your ideal customer is, because that guides where you should focus your marketing efforts. If you skip this step, you might miss crucial information about your target customers and the problems they face.

If you already have an audience, the best way to get started is by sending a survey. If you don’t have an audience yet, begin to define your ideal customer. When you’re researching your target market, identify the following demographics:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Location
  • Marital status
  • Job
  • Income
  • Buying behavior
  • Interests
  • Social media preferences

3. Research your competitors.

Next, identify your main competitors, and note their current strengths and weaknesses. This analysis will help you find opportunities to gain an edge.

Examine your competitors’ websites and the types of products they’re selling. How detailed are their product descriptions? Do they promote their business with a blog, and if so, how often do they post? If you sign up for an SEO tool such as Ahrefs, you can analyze your competitors’ traffic and see where it is coming from.

Competitor research is an ongoing process; continue to monitor what your competitors are doing so you can stay on top of changing trends in the marketplace. Sign up for your competitors’ newsletters, and follow them on social media. It’s also a good idea to purchase some of your competitors’ products to see what the customer experience is like.

4. Determine pricing and positioning.

It’s very easy for consumers to compare prices today, so it’s important to put a lot of thought into pricing. Now that you understand your ideal customers, you should have a better idea of what they’re willing to spend money on and how much they’re willing to pay for those things. You don’t want your target customers to consider your products overpriced. 

E-commerce marketing strategy ideas

Now that you’ve completed the initial steps in developing your e-commerce marketing strategy, it’s time to start focusing on the components of your plan. Here are seven ideas to get you started:

Search engine optimization (SEO)

As the term implies, SEO involves optimizing your website so that it ranks highly in search engines. There are many facets of SEO, but one important component involves optimizing  certain keywords so that your site ranks well in search engines such as Google. SEO is one of the best ways to increase organic traffic to your website.

Many business owners don’t want to bother with SEO because it takes a lot of work on the front end. But once your site starts ranking for certain high-traffic keywords, you’ll continue to generate a steady stream of free traffic to your website.

The first step is to do keyword research using an SEO tool. When you’re looking for keywords, make sure they meet two basic criteria: The keywords should have high search volumes, and they should allow your site to rank highly in search engine results. If you choose keywords with low search volumes, the payoff will be minimal. But if you select keywords that are already covered extensively by more relevant sources, you’ll probably never make it onto the first page of Google results.  

Once you know which keywords you’re targeting, make sure you put them in the right places. Focus your SEO efforts on these three areas:

  • Your blog
  • Your category pages
  • Your e-commerce product pages

For the best results, include the keywords in the URL, title, image alt text, body and meta descriptions.  

TipBottom line
When you're developing your SEO strategy, look for low-competition keywords to give yourself the best chance of ranking for those search terms. A keyword research tool can show you how competitive the search terms are.

Content marketing

Content marketing involves creating various forms of content and sharing that content with your audience. Implementing a content marketing strategy is one of the best ways to connect with your customers and create an engaged and loyal following.

Before you can launch your content marketing efforts, you need to decide what kind of content you will create. Here are some ideas to get you started: 

  • Blogging: No, blogging is not dead, but it has evolved considerably over the years. You can’t just throw a 500-word blog post on your website and be done with it. You need to create in-depth posts that really address the problems your customers are trying to solve. One of the advantages of blogging is that it goes hand in hand with SEO. Your blog posts will benefit your business for years to come as they continue to show up in search engine results.
  • Videos: Increasingly, consumers want video content from brands they are considering buying from. Helpful video content can aid buying decisions, and adding videos to your emails can increase open rates. There are many ways to use videos in your content. For example, you can create how-to videos, product demos or animations. Plus, you can easily repurpose video across a wide variety of platforms. For instance, you can use the video transcript to create a blog post or social media posts, or use the audio to make a podcast episode.
  • Customer testimonials: These days, customers are looking for social proof from brands. It’s not enough for you to tell them how great your products are — they want to hear it from your customers. That’s why customer testimonials should be a key part of your content marketing strategy. You can create a separate landing page that is dedicated solely to positive customer stories and occasionally include long-form case studies on your blog.  
  • Product guides: Product guides are a great way to convert customers who want more information about your products before they buy. Just make sure you include a call to action at the end of the post. For example, encourage customers to click to buy the product or to enter their email address to subscribe to your newsletter. 

Email marketing

Email plays an important role in any marketing strategy, and an automated email campaign is one of the best ways to continue building a relationship with your audience and encourage people to buy from you.

You need to take a strategic and thoughtful approach to email marketing. A good way to start is by creating a weekly newsletter for your subscribers. A newsletter is a great way to build rapport, share helpful content and notify your subscribers about current promotions.

Social media marketing

Increasingly, consumers are making purchases through social media. Social media is not just a place to share content but also an avenue to convert followers into customers. Here are the top social media platforms for e-commerce marketing:

  • Facebook: There’s a good chance your target customers are on Facebook. With over 2.9 billion monthly active users, this platform reaches a wide range of demographics. When you set up your Facebook business page, you can create a Shop tab at the top of your page. From there, you can list a variety of products and make it easy for followers to purchase directly through Facebook. Plus, your Facebook business page will give you a host of information about your visitors and your most popular items.
  • Instagram: Instagram provides a huge opportunity for e-commerce businesses. Instagram is a visual social media platform, so if you have a knack for taking beautiful photos, it may be the right strategy for you. When you create a shoppable Instagram post, you can tag all of the products in the image. When your followers click a product in the image, they’ll be redirected to buy the product. This streamlines the process of selling items on the platform.
  • Pinterest: Pinterest is another image-driven platform, and it’s a great option for e-commerce brands. To get started, you’ll need to set up a Pinterest business account. This will give you access to analytics and other features you’ll need to sell items on Pinterest. From there, you can begin creating your pins and tagging the products displayed within each pin, and if you want to gain traction faster, you can pay to promote specific pins.

Influencer marketing

As customers have grown increasingly tired of paid advertising, many companies have transitioned to influencer marketing. This strategy involves partnering with an influencer who has a well-established audience within a specific niche.

Your business can partner with an influencer to promote your products to their audience. This is typically done through social media and other content marketing channels.

Influencer marketing can be very effective when done the right way. This person has already built trust and credibility with their audience, so their audience will be more willing to try your products. This makes influencer marketing a valuable tool for e-commerce brands. 

FYIDid you know
It's tempting to look for influencers with a large following, but increasingly, brands are partnering with micro-influencers, who have smaller audiences but higher engagement rates. Look for a micro-influencer in your industry who might be a good fit for your product or service.

User-generated content

User-generated content is a great way to establish social proof for your business because customers like to see that other people just like them are using and enjoying your products.

There are many ways to create user-generated content, and technically, a product review is considered user-generated content. But a good example of user-generated content is what Warby Parker has done with its hashtag #WarbyHomeTryOn: Customers can try on five eyeglass frames and show the results on social media by tagging their photos.

Paid advertising

Paid advertising often gets a bad rap, but it’s still one of the most effective marketing strategies. The two best online advertising strategies are Google Ads and Facebook ads.

If you already use Facebook and Instagram as part of your social media strategy, then you might want to incorporate Facebook ads, which allow you to target users based on their demographics and interests. Facebook ads are a great way to reach your target audience and introduce your product to a new audience of potential customers. You set up an ad in the Facebook ads manager, and it will be displayed on both Facebook and Instagram.

In comparison, Google Ads works by targeting specific keywords. When a user searches for a keyword or phrase, your ad will show up at the top of the search results. This is a great way to target users who are searching for something specifically related to your product.

Effective e-commerce marketing requires trial and error

Creating a strong e-commerce marketing strategy takes time, and you may not get it right on the first try. The best way to get started is to choose one strategy and test it, to see how well it works for you. If that strategy isn’t successful, you can move on to the next item on the list until you find a plan that works for your business.

author image
Jamie Johnson, Senior Analyst & Expert on Business Operations
Jamie Johnson has spent more than five years providing invaluable financial guidance to business owners, leading them through the financial intricacies of entrepreneurship. From offering investment lessons to recommending funding options, business loans and insurance, Johnson distills complex financial matters into easily understandable and actionable advice, empowering entrepreneurs to make informed decisions for their companies. As a business owner herself, she continually tests and refines her business strategies and services. Johnson's expertise is evident in her contributions to various finance publications, including Rocket Mortgage, InvestorPlace, Insurify and Credit Karma. Moreover, she has showcased her command of other B2B topics, ranging from sales and payroll to marketing and social media, with insights featured in esteemed outlets such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, CNN, USA Today, U.S. News & World Report and Business Insider.
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