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Growth calendar    Jul 21, 2022

How to advertise eCommerce stores: a short (and comprehensive) guide

All you need to know about effective ecommerce advertising is right here - we gathered best practices in one place. Check it out!

Data shows that in the US alone, eCommerce sales are expected to cross $1 trillion for the first time in 2022. Expand the perimeter and it's estimated we'll hit $6 trillion in eCommerce sales worldwide by 2024.

Whether you're a brick-and-mortar store owner looking to expand via the internet or you're a newbie eCommerce store owner looking to get your business off the ground, there are countless opportunities to promote your online business.

Just choose the right ones and bet on taking care of them comprehensively. In today's post, we will tell you how to achieve this.

Ecommerce marketing: what actions to take?

Running an eCommerce business and selling online undoubtedly means advertising online.

Here are 7 ways to advertise your eCommerce site online (beyond having your website address printed on product bags and business cards) according to the most common marketing strategies: 

  • Search Engine Optimization; 
  • Content Marketing;
  • Email Marketing
  • Social Media Engagement; 
  • Social Media Advertising; 
  • Influencer Partnership. 

In this article guide, we'll explore these topics to help you build brand awareness, generate leads, and boost customer loyalty.

Ecommerce business versus Search Engine Optimization 

For your eCommerce site, search engine optimization (SEO) is all the practices you adhere to when building and maintaining your website so as to organically generate leads and sales long term

With SEO, you get to attract and retain customers through a good user experience. One major factor to consider is site architecture. Here you arrange your web pages, products, copy, and content in such a way that website visitors find their solutions as soon as possible. This system of customer acquisition comes with benefits and setbacks. 

  1. On the profit side of this ledger, you have long-term stability in the amount of traffic and sales your eCommerce business generates monthly. 

  2. You get to build brand awareness over a period of time as search visitors would associate your store with quality education and products. This can be such a big differentiator as SEO can be a very competitive space.

  3. Ecommerce SEO works by store owners keeping tabs on the ever-changing needs of their target audience. This approach to promotion strengthens the business.

  4. What you get when you do SEO, it's both effective and relatively inexpensive. From the start, you spend less than paid promotions. In many cases, you can decide to do it all yourself.

One setback is that the work can be exhausting. It's a lot of work and hence, many store owners don't see it through. 

Another setback is that the process takes time. Even when you adhere to due process results may take 8 months to 2 years to get results.

So how do you use search engine optimization to get these benefits?

Search Analysis

This is the process of discovering new market segments where you can realistically compete for customers through keyword research. Every day, billions of people go to search engine sites like Google and Bing to find answers to questions they deem important. Google processes over 60,000 search queries per second

At the search analysis level, you're to find those queries that relate to the type of customer you want visiting your site. For your home page, you want visitors in search of product categories or your store's brand name. Use these queries to write web copy for your home page. The same goes for your product page or blog. 

One can use Google suggest and auto-complete to help you find these queries. Then see what shows up in search results and see how you can do better. But you can save time and effort by using software tools such as Ahrefs and Keyword Finder to refine your keyword ideas. These ideas are put into your software tool and a list of suggestions appears. Then you can find the balance between the keywords with the biggest traffic and the least competition. After making a list, create content and copy around your chosen keywords. This process sets the groundwork for promoting your eCommerce business.

Web Page Title Tags 

Below you can see a proper format for your title tag: 

Primary Keyword, Secondary Keyword| Store Name

Your web page title tag helps search engines know what your eCommerce store is all about. Are you a dog accessories eCommerce seller? Then you should consider a title tag with the short tail and long tail keywords before your site name. The same goes for each page on your website. Web visitors who type said queries should find the right answers when they land on your page. You could be penalized for high bounce rates if website visitors leave as soon as they arrive.

Optimize Alt Text and Image File Names

Even SEO-savvy online store owners often forget to optimize other forms of media other than text. Links, pictures, and videos are important to help display products on your eCommerce store. Search engine platforms need text to interpret your product pictures to help direct the right traffic to your product page. 

If you're taking your own product pictures, rename your picture to describe the product in the picture. It'll help search engines understand the context and relationship between your product copy and your product picture.

Ecommerce Site: the importance of Content Marketing

The keywords you mined from search analysis would form the basis for your content marketing strategy. You see, because of the unique position stores find themselves, they tend to ignore proper content marketing techniques and practices. 

What do I mean by that?

Content strategies and their implementation come naturally to media businesses like bloggers on websites and vloggers on YouTube. In this case, content is the product so a special effort is taken to create and distribute quality content. On the other hand, eCommerce business owners already have products they sell. Unfortunately, they naturally dismiss or are ignorant of the benefits of content marketing for their stores.

But there's a silver lining in this otherwise sad situation. There's low competition when it comes to eCommerce content marketing - so you can easily achieve your goals with relatively little effort (even if you choose to write irregular content, such as a blog post or ebook). Remember thanks to such actions you have the opportunity to significantly increase brand awareness.

Your eCommerce site can easily differentiate its brand from the others by engaging customers at every level along the buyer's journey. This positions your brand for potential customers as a resource for not just products but education and entertainment. It's this deep and authentic relationship with prospective buyers that leads to sales. 

So how do we plan and execute a good content strategy for your eCommerce website?

Start with the buyer's journey. 

  • What does life look like for your prospect before they visit your store and after?
  • What do they struggle with and what are their hopes when they find solutions?
  • Where can your store be of help at every stage of the buyer's journey?

Try to speak to existing customers of your store or that of the competition and start getting answers. The beauty of entrepreneurship is that if you're willing to listen, people will tell you a lot about themselves. 

A couple of hundreds of said interviews would begin to give you an intuitive understanding of your prospective customers.  So much so that you'll be able to come up with great seed ideas to find effective content topics loved to be followed by your online shoppers.

Once you have these answers mapped out, they'll naturally form clusters and that's when you begin to create content guides to help said prospects move towards your product. Search engines and social algorithms will bring the traffic but your content engine would do the conversion.

And of course, you'll have to keep testing content and headlines and copy as the market keeps changing. 

Email Marketing: eCommerce marketing tips and tricks

As you create quality SEO-optimized content to guide prospective customers along the buyer's journey, you can plug opportunities to capture email subscribers. There are so many benefits of building relationships over email but, perhaps, 2 of them supersede all others. They're the longevity of the repeat buyer and sales-boosting Return of the distracted one.

The former increases customer loyalty and retention which increases revenue over the long term while simultaneously reducing customer acquisition costs (CAC). The latter can boost sales in the meantime to as much as 15% via abandoned can't email campaigns. 

Speaking of email campaigns, there are various ways to generate and nurture leads for your eCommerce website via email campaigns. We've talked about abandoned cart campaigns to remind distracted buyers of your product. But there are benign newsletters that focus more on content than a copy as a way to nurture leads and build relationships. And there's the discount email series to encourage sales in product categories you feel are growing cold. 

Up-sell and cross-sell email campaigns encourage buyers to try complementary and novel products in different categories. But oftentimes, these strategies are combined for maximum results. 

Social Media Marketing

Social media marketing requires a slightly different approach to customer acquisition. Unlike search optimization where you work on your site to attract traffic to your products, on social media platforms you have to do both. In fact, I'd say that genuine outreach should probably be 70% of your customer acquisition strategy. It's called social for a reason.

Your eCommerce brand has to join the conversation and bring value to the native surroundings of your target audience. I've had countless store owners struggle to gain an engaged following and when I look at their social media strategy, it says it all. They use their account as if it were their website. 

But it isn't.

On social media platforms, it's about the individual. If you've done proper market research, you'd have a good feel for what a prospective buyer looks like on either Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, Instagram, or Snap. You'd know their influencers, their political leanings, their favorite entertainment spots, and ultimately how to engage them. 

That, in addition to posting on your account, is what generates engaged followers, leads, and eventually sales via your social media channels. 

Social Media Advertising 

As much as the benefits of organic social media engagement abound, you can add more gas to your eCommerce website growth with social media advertising. You can scale sales with effective ads to direct traffic to your product page. 

In many cases, you get to reach hundreds of thousands of your target audience. But that level of scale can only be successful if you know what you're doing. Here are some factors to consider when deciding to promote your eCommerce site via social media advertising.

Average Order Value 

Average order value (AOV) sits at the top of the list. Your ads simply have to be profitable. You want to have a decent profit margin after you've subtracted ad cost and cost price from revenue. Ideally, products of $50 or less are paired with more costly products to keep a respectable profit margin. 

Ad Creatives 

This is perhaps the most underrated aspect of social media advertising. If there was one thing web 2.0 achieved was to make conversation informal with the rise of social media platforms. And with a more casual approach to communication on social media and screens, the upside of ad campaigns lies in your ability to communicate the benefits of your product in as many ways as you possibly can. This is fast becoming the competitive advantage in the eCommerce space as more advertisers are putting money into social media advertising.

Brand Consistency 

Many eCommerce website owners have been left frustrated after they ran and tested various social media ad ideas. Usually, everything goes right till traffic clicks their social media ad posts and arrives at their landing pages. And then nothing seems to make sense anymore. There's a huge drop-off in engagement and sales as ad spending goes down the drain. 

Over the years of consulting with eCommerce sellers, brand consistency seems to be the biggest culprit of such poor ad results. Your brand has a tone of voice that you use for your website copy, and longer organic content and social media engagement. But when it comes to ad campaigns, it seems like there's a sharp change in tone from your ad copy to your product page copy. Trust is lost and buyers opt-out of the process.

Search Engine Advertising

Staying still on advertising, let's circle back to search engine optimization. Earlier on in this article guide, we discussed the organic aspect of search engine marketing. But there's a paid side to it as well. 

What we didn't discuss in detail were the paid SEO strategies. We already know that although it can be cost-effective with more stable results long term. And we're aware that one of its major setbacks is that it takes a longer time to show business results. 

And although paid SEO can have unstable results long-term, it tends to kick start your organic SEO where you can quickly test content ideas to see what and what doesn't work. 

Also through its pay-per-click (PPC) option, your products can be advertised on search engine platforms such as Google, YouTube, Amazon, and more where target audiences are far more detailed and segmented across the board. 

Here demographic factors like age, location, marital status, and even time intervals can be used to get maximum interactions and conversions with prospective customers.

Influencer Marketing

Being one of the newest promotional strategies to join eCommerce, it might surprise you to learn that the industry is nearing a $15 billion value as of 2022. Big brands have realized the value of leveraging the trust an internet user has in an influencer. Even smaller brands are getting in on the action, with Mediakix estimating that as much as 20% of marketers would spend between $1000 - $10,000 per year on influencer marketing.

So what exactly is influencer marketing?

It simply is a partnership where companies collaborate with influencers to sell their products. Typically such influencers are in some way doing work related to the brand. For example, a personal development blogger could partner with a time management app to help their readers with setting priorities and being productive in general. 

A sports commentator could host quizzes, game shows, and promos for sports betting companies. This makes their partnership organic and more persuasive. 

Ecommerce brands & Online Shopping: a perfect duo

As you can see, there are a few strategies to follow. No matter if you bet on paid marketing, organic traffic, working on your product pages and social proof, creating Facebook ads or you decide to go even further and focus on a loyalty program. Each strategy can help you advertise your eCommerce site as a store owner. Digital marketing gives eCommerce retailers the opportunity to increase sales by betting on even several marketing campaigns simultaneously and reaping the full benefits of marketing synergy.

You can use one channel or combine 2 or more strategies to get maximum results. At the end of the day, factors like your niche, level of experience, and capital would determine which promotion best suits your eCommerce website at the moment. In fact, as many eCommerce brands, as many customer needs and ideas for business development. Work on social proof, listen to your target audience, test different marketing tactics - and watch how your store acquires new customers.

If you have any questions about these strategies, you can leave a comment below and I'll be happy to help you.

Author of many articles related to e-commerce. Specializes in internet marketing with an emphasis on content. On a daily basis, she deals with marketing communication with clients. Privately, she is interested in cosmetology and traveling.

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