They say …
You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.
A leopard can’t change its spots.
These sayings imply that something tried and true can’t be changed. And maybe in its most simplistic sense, it is accurate. However, I believe that there are always ways to take the trusted principles that stand the test of time and apply new techniques to achieve the same end result.
We say …
Techniques can differ over time or between spaces. But principles never change.
Digital marketing made its mark by taking the basic principles of traditional marketing, applying new techniques and thought processes and establishing an entirely new channel of marketing. Digital marketing covers all aspects of marketing that apply to the online and digital space – websites, apps, landing pages, mobile platforms, social media, email, messenger and everything invisible that connects them all together. These components are part of the greater whole of a marketing plan.
Over the past few years, as our business focus has shifted to Shopify and Shopify Plus website full-scale marketing, uncovering the basic principles of digital marketing and applying new and different techniques into the eCommerce space has become my drive.
There are a lot of similarities yet many differences between traditional websites, whether they are B2C or B2B, and eCommerce websites. Many approaches are standardized across all websites, yet many techniques are shifted and altered due to the nature of an eCommerce catalog.
Basics of eCommerce Digital Marketing
There are many similar principles applied to digital marketing for eCommerce sites and online stores. How to bring in new customers and bring back returning customers is always the pinnacle of every marketing plan regardless of industry, size, age, and product. We’ll take a look at a holistic, not comprehensive, look at these areas that are imperative to eCommerce digital marketing.
Traffic To Your Online Store
Inbound traffic is the marketing term used for all sources of potential customers to your website. Like traditional websites, eCommerce stores use some of the exact same channels for traffic. Google Ads, Google Shopping, Facebook Ads, Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, Facebook Messenger, affiliate links, backlinks, directories, YouTube, email automation, and landing pages – these are just to name a handful of more standardized channels.
As digital marketing experts, our focus is to take the traditional channels and dial them down into segments and groupings that send quality traffic that drive conversions. Conversions equal sales. So we take inbound traffic from Facebook and Google and create Lookalike audiences of those who have purchased to launch new inbound traffic ads to sell more product. Lookalikes are exactly what it sounds like – a grouping of people who match very similar demographic and psychographic qualities of your purchasers.
Another critical source of inbound traffic for eCommerce websites is Google Shopping and its counterparts in Bing Shopping and Yahoo Shopping. These Shopping ads use your online store’s catalog of products, prices and descriptions as its data source. When someone searches in the search engine for an item your store has, your product’s ad can pop up leading them to your website to buy.
Retargeting For Conversions
You know when you visit a website and click around and the next thing you see when opening up Instagram is a sponsored ad for something seen on that website? This digital marketing technique is called retargeting or remarking ads. Technically speaking, it works when a website’s third-party cookies registers your device IP address and then connects that with the business’s marketing platforms to send you messages about what you just saw or things you may be interested in.
In my opinion, this was truly the first real breakthrough that digital marketing had to leverage its unique abilities to reconnect with potential customers online. Traditional marketing could never achieve this ability.
In eCommerce digital marketing, the use of retargeting advertising has a tremendous opportunity. We like to tastefully use retargeting ads on Facebook with abandoned cart messaging reminding recent shoppers of what they have left in their cart or perhaps a set of other products they may be interested in based off their search history. Another application of retargeting we use is to segment out visitors based on their frequency of visiting the online store and offer a discount to them to return and shop.
Perhaps the website has a specific geographically based message. We use retargeting and location segmentation to serve an ad to that unique part of the country, state or city.
The bottom line is this: using retargeting as an eCommerce digital marketing tactic gives web store owners a unique advantage to reconnect with a myriad of past user profiles based on activity and behaviors. This access must be used considerately and with a clear purpose, or you risk being ignored along with all the other ads you see on your newsfeeds.
Don’t believe the lies you may hear that “email is dead.” This is simply untrue. Email done incorrectly or without strategy will not be opened. However when applied correctly in the eCommerce space, email is a revenue-generating channel unlike any other.
Email hits the prospects you have already acquired. You have already paid for the click, received their first purchase, or sorted the sign up into your marketing list. The hard work has been completed and you will not need to work again to acquire that potential customer.
The execution lies within the right use of your email marketing list segmentation, the frequency of messaging and content. The best applications eCommerce marketers have with email is using high-performance platforms such as Klaviyo or more affordable platforms like Mailchimp to execute a mix of both campaigns and automated flows.
Email campaigns for eCommerce websites would include promotional messaging about new product releases, upcoming sales, or supplemental content upon which your audiences would want to click and open. Campaigns are scheduled out and happen once. Automated flows are pre-set messaging that is always turned on. Klaviyo states flows “are designed to make it easy to initiate and nurture relationships with your subscribers and customers over the course of their lifecycle. With flows, you can automate emails that will help grow your business, without losing any of the personalization and relevancy needed to build strong customer loyalty.”
Executing an email marketing program also must work in concert with your other marketing. Be mindful of the messages your customers or potential customers will be seeing though Facebook retargeting ads and other sources. eCommerce stores should aim to have its marketing channels complement one another’s messaging with some variety.
Social media marketing is not just relegated to Facebook and Instagram ads. Facebook Messenger has emerged as a staple platform to connect eCommerce businesses with customers and potential customers. Shoppers of online stores expect now, increasingly more than ever, the ability to use Facebook Messenger as a customer service point to have questions answered.
And it is a misnomer that Facebook Messenger is only used by the younger demographic. Between our experience with a variety of brands in implementing Facebook Messenger within their eCommerce digital marketing strategy, we have seen the 65+ demographic as active as the 25 – 34 demographic. Facebook Messenger reaches 50% of 65 – 74 year olds.
The ways eCommerce brands use Facebook Messenger is critical. We coach our clients to first and foremost use the platform to communicate with customers when they have questions, concerns, issues, or great things to share. Messenger is faster than email and can help resolve immediate concerns. Leaving a lasting impression with your customers of responsiveness and timeliness, regardless of the situation, will go a long way for your store. With the lasting impact customer reviews have, eCommerce stores should do their best to stay on top of customer service in this way.
Another fascinating application of Facebook Messenger with eCommerce digital marketing is integrating a platform like ManyChat for marketing and prospecting. in 2019 we have moved beyond the hesitation of bots and AI. As described succinctly on the ManyChat website:
“Chatbots take most of the work off your hands, and they have serious benefits. You can engage your customers and even qualify your leads with chatbots. You can also use these chatbots to create Messenger sequences. Think of it as an email autoresponder sequence that happens in Facebook Messenger. It’s an incredible resource to have, and it’s not that difficult to set up.”
In eCommerce, we have used Facebook Messenger to help sort potential customers by their interests of product lines, communication types, messaging preferences, and engagement paths with the brand. Imagine you could find out through Facebook Messenger exactly what type of active apparel they prefer – activewear, athleisure wear, hunting gear, hiking gear, or all of the above. Then once they have shared that preference with you, the messaging they receive from your store to their Facebook Messenger is strictly on what they want to hear from you.
This is why Facebook Messenger conversion rates sit above 65%. Email marketing, on a good day, will yield you a 3%+ conversion rate.
Social Media Content Marketing
Social media marketing is a staple channel for all marketing initiatives. Over the last decade, the influence of these various social media channels has waxed and waned. When in the late 00’s and early ’10’s we advised all brands to be present on all channels with the traditional marketing mindset, we now agree in 2019 the importance of niche marketing and segmentation as it applies to digital marketing.
There are hundreds and hundreds of social media sites worldwide and their influence varies from country to country. For our purposes, the top social media site to consider for your eCommerce business relates directly to the ability to reach and opportunity to sell and provide valuable content.
For effective eCommerce digital marketing strategies, we recommend considering Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube. These three social media sites provide opportunities to leverage both content delivery that can integrate directly with your eCommerce store.
Creating posts on social media for your online store is critical to attracting new followers and providing fun and engaging information for your customers and fans. With the combination on an online store, the content on social must be tailored for each channel specifically and have a plan for variety and frequency.
Facebook delivers a great opportunity to create and provide content that generates interest by shares and likes. Consider video of your products, warehouse, or staff. Share curated blogs posts that complement your brand or catalog. Connect your Facebook Shop and sell directly through Facebook posts. The most engaged with content and distributed content from Facebook into newsfeed does not talk about sales, promotions or deals. It is useful, helpful, funny, likable and share-worthy images, graphics or videos.
Instagram is an image-driven platform. There are limitations which make it very different from Facebook, such as the inability to share a hyperlink. Instagram is the perfect companion to an eCommerce digital marketing strategy simply because of its focus on imagery and its integrations with your online store for easy shopping. Instagram is a visual platform where the aesthetic of the image drives the engagement. Think about how you can use a lifestyle and product layout design to drive interest in your product line.
YouTube is the second largest search engine behind Google. Delivering videos results to searches and queries, an eCommerce store can leverage useful demonstrations on using products. For an online store looking to drive qualified traffic to your website, YouTube gives the platform to create video content with product reviews, demonstrations, how-to tips, and behind the scenes footage. Additionally, YouTube videos can be optimized just like a website’s SEO optimizes for Google Search.
eCommerce Website SEO
Lastly, a critical aspect of digital marketing for online stores is the application of SEO techniques. Search Engine Optimization is widely understood as the tactics and techniques used on a website’s structure, content and links to increase the website’s ranking in search engine results. SEO is a multi-faceted and multi-pronged approach regardless of the industry. Optimizing your website means to craft wording, links and behind the scenes processes to match Google’s algorithm. This algorithm ranks websites based on the user’s query. There’s a lot to discuss here which I will save for another blog post.
In terms of this post’s purpose, SEO requires specific applications for eCommerce stores. An online store is likely to have more pages than a traditional website. These additional pages make up the product pages. Each product is unique and requires title, keyword and product description optimizations. The better each product page is optimized, the more likely it will return in search engine results when someone is searching for something similar. Additionally, SEO optimized product names and descriptions can be used for Google Shopping feeds. Together, they work in concert to bring quality traffic to your eCommerce store.
- Some of your most critical areas to ensure are optimized as much as the rest of your website:
- Keyword research to best optimize your product pages
- Optimize meta titles
- Optimize descriptions
- Optimize H1
- Consider simplified URL structures – many eCommerce platforms like Shopify make this easy to do
- Write unique collection and product information
- Make sure to eliminate duplicate content as much as possible
- Enable Schema mark up
Lastly, a backlinking strategy is essential to see the organic traffic numbers rise over time. Backlinking is the process of building inbound links to your website from outside websites which also improves your site’s rank and reputation. This includes links in blogs, social bookmarking sites, image sharing sites, high profile online magazines and blogs, as well as news sites.
Website search engine optimization is a constantly changing landscape and staying on top of the latest updates can be daunting. Staying up to date on the SEO basics can better equip your efforts.
Plan Your Digital Marketing eCommerce Strategy
This basic overview covered the major points of a digital marketing eCommerce strategy. From addressing inbound traffic, retargeting ads, email marketing, Facebook Messenger, social media content and basic SEO, we just barely scratched the surface.
The depth of work that lies within a digital marketing plan for an online store goes further and is more detail oriented. To ensure that you have a solid foundation to promote and grow your eCommerce store make sure you cover your bases. Unsure of your plan? Chelsea & Rachel Co can help you with a free consultation. Book your time with us today.