Every online store wants to increase traffic and conversions. But even after you’ve put together a basic strategy it can still be challenging to decide which marketing tactics you should try.
That’s why we put together an overview of effective marketing tactics and ecommerce tools, along with ideas to help you implement each approach. The ideas themselves run the gamut from straightforward acquisition to generating more repeat purchases from the customer base you already have.
Try to implement one of these ideas every day for the next few weeks. On the last day of your sprint, take stock and figure out which marketing efforts worked best to drive new sales.
What is ecommerce marketing?
Ecommerce marketing is the practice of using promotional tactics to drive traffic to your online store, converting that traffic into paying customers, and retaining those customers post-purchase.
A holistic ecommerce marketing strategy is made up of marketing tactics both on and off your website. A sound marketing strategy can help you build brand awareness, drive customer loyalty, and ultimately increase online sales.
You can promote your online store by using ecommerce marketing tools for business as a whole or to drive more sales for specific products. Below is an overview of a few practical ideas to try.
21 ecommerce marketing ideas to increase online sales
- Invest in SEO
- Run an influencer marketing campaign
- Sell on marketplaces
- Create a TikTok marketing strategy
- Run PPC campaigns
- Upsell your products
- Integrate Instagram
- Reduce abandoned carts
- Send text message campaigns
- Capture more email subscribers
- Improve your email campaigns
- Make it easy for customers to get what they want
- Engage online store visitors with live chat
- Anticipate future sales
- Start a content marketing program
- Embrace personalization
- Leverage user-generated content
- Think local
- Optimize your product pages
- Optimize for mobile
- Reward loyal customers
1. Invest in SEO
Ecommerce SEO refers to the search engine optimization of an online store. The goal is to get your product pages among the top 10 results on search engines like Google, Yahoo, and Bing. This brings more organic (non-paid and free) traffic to your website. Backlinko found that the #1 organic result is 10 times more likely to receive a click compared to a page in spot #10.
Some ways to invest in SEO are
- Performing keyword research and including keywords in your page URLs, product descriptions, and blog posts
- Optimizing your website structure and creating a good user experience
- Building backlinks from other reputable websites
Done well, you can show up for popular search terms related to your products. The screenshot below shows Shopify merchant Everyday Yoga ranking on page 1 in Google search for the term “women’s yoga pants,” which receives more than 49,500 searches per month.
SEO seems hard at first, but you don’t need to go at it alone. Read the following articles to optimize your ecommerce site for search:
2. Run an influencer marketing campaign
Influencer marketing is a smart way to accelerate your ecommerce business online. It helps you reach new audiences, build brand awareness, and work with creators that make sales for you. Influencers are like internet celebrities that work as ambassadors for your brand. You pay them to promote your products through free products, cash, or discounts.
Influencer marketing is superb for finding relevant customers. How often have you seen an Instagram post from an influencer, liked what they were wearing, and wanted to buy it? Promoting products through influencers shortens up the sales cycle. With more social commerce features on Instagram and TikTok, shoppers can buy directly from the platform.
3. Sell on marketplaces
It’s no secret that marketplaces are where people shop online. The top online marketplaces sold $3.32 trillion in goods in 2021, accounting for two-thirds of global ecommerce sales.
Marketplaces like Amazon and eBay can help people discover your brand easier, reaching millions of people around the world. Some customers are die-hard marketplace shoppers and there is a higher chance they’ll buy something from you on a channel they know. However, they do come with hefty selling fees and other caveats to consider.
That’s why, for ecommerce brands, it’s recommended to use marketplaces to complement your branded store. You don’t need to list all your products on a marketplace, just some of the bestsellers. Create compelling listings that show off your brand and add branded packaging inserts to marketplace orders that encourage people to shop directly from your website.
4. Create a TikTok marketing strategy
TikTok should be part of every business’s ecommerce marketing plan. With over one billion monthly active users and more than 173 million first-time installs across app stores in the last quarter of 2021 alone, TikTok is just as powerful as other social media marketing platforms.
Businesses thrive on TikTok by publishing genuine content. Raw and authentic videos tend to get more exposure and engagement than highly edited content, like what you see on Instagram. That’s what makes TikTok unique when it comes to strengthening relationships with an audience. TikTok also has a few benefits that make it different:
- TikTok’s algorithm prioritizes content from creators you’ve never seen before.
- TikTok’s UI is designed to keep people in the app longer than Instagram or Facebook.
- TikTok’s discovery engine helps videos go viral, no matter your follower count.
People are buying what they see from TikTok creators. According to research from Adweek, over half (51%) of TikTokers make purchases from brands they see in the app. There is also a place for every niche in the TikTok space, including fitness, goth, NYC, and gay TikTok. The platform also offers livestream shopping and advertising to help promote your products.
5. Run PPC campaigns
Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising is the main model of online advertising for businesses both large and small. It’s backed by data, easy to scale, and offers a good return on investment. PPC ads often target online ad space in search engines, social media platforms, or websites. These ads work well for ecommerce brands because they target ready-to-buy shoppers and can lead to higher sales than organic marketing.
The two most popular platforms to run PPC ads on are Facebook and Google. Google shopping ads are popular for ecommerce brands. You’ve seen these ads before. When you search for “men’s boots,” you’ll notice an ad that shows detailed information about various products related to your search.
Facebook ads, on the other hand, run on Facebook and Instagram. You can also target specific personas and leverage a variety of ad formats to promote your products.
The big benefit of PPC ads is how targeted you can get with campaigns. You can choose exactly who you’ll advertise to and the type of ad that’s shown. You can also run retargeting ads to people who’ve viewed specific landing pages or previous ads, and encourage them to shop on your site again.
Say you’re running a shoe store and you get a new line of boots in—you can create ads for those new boots. Maybe the boots are rubber and water-resistant. You can create a group of ads that target keywords like “best rain boots.” This means your ads are showing up in front of people who are looking to buy what you’re advertising.
6. Upsell your products
Most of us have heard some variation of the famous, “Would you like to super size your order?” It’s an example of upselling, or the approach of selling a slightly more premium product than the one the customer was originally considering.
For many ecommerce businesses, upselling and cross-selling can be more effective than acquiring a net new customer. Sometimes your customers don’t know that a premium product is available, or they may simply need more evidence to understand how an upgrade (or package) is a better fit for their needs.
For example, is one of your product models made of slightly better leather? Or does one carry a special component that’s handmade? Make sure to emphasize the difference and ask, in the right places, if the customer might want to upgrade.
There are two main considerations when using upselling to increase sales:
- Make sure your upsells are related to the original product
- Be sensitive to the anticipated price range of your customers
Your product has to fit the customer’s original needs, and they may not be enthusiastic about a higher price point once they have an anchor price in mind. An anchor price is often the first number a customer sees, and it’s the number against which they compare other price points. The new product must be a discernibly better fit than the original for it to be worth the additional cost.
Anyone who’s ever purchased a computer is familiar with the screen below. Once you’ve selected a particular model, companies will usually highlight upgrades for performance (upselling) or additional accessories (cross-selling) for you to consider.
7. Integrate Instagram
With over 500 million daily active users, Instagram is one of the fastest-growing social apps around, connecting consumers, influencers, and brands.
If you take compelling photos, use hashtags strategically, and post at the right times, then you’re well on your way to building a large Instagram following of people who are interested in your products. The key to mastering your organic Instagram presence is engagement with your followers.
What are some ways to engage with your target audience on Instagram? You may try running contests or going behind the scenes to showcase your product development process. You can also pay to play on Instagram. For ecommerce marketing, adding products to your Instagram posts, Stories, and Reels gives your followers a direct path to purchase, which is key for increasing your online sales.
Instagram is even an ecommerce marketplace of its own. Check out this example from Helm boots to see shopping on Instagram in action:
Once you set up an Instagram shop, you can take advantage of the following features:
- Shoppable posts
- Shoppable Stories
- Influencer tagging
- In-app checkout
- Explore Shop
Integrate your Instagram Shop with Shopify to sync your product catalog and manage your orders from your Shopify admin.
8. Reduce abandoned carts
Harsh truth: You’re losing money every time a visitor abandons their cart without purchasing.
This phenomenon is well studied. Website visitors add items to their carts, but abandon their carts during the checkout process. According to the Baymard Institute, 69.82% of shopping carts are abandoned.
It’s worth directly addressing as many hesitations as you can, because some shoppers who abandoned their carts could have been reminded to complete their purchase. Perhaps they would have been persuaded with a discount or free shipping, for example.
One simple and effective ecommerce marketing idea to reduce the frequency of cart abandonment is an email recovery campaign, which can convince your visitors to make a return visit and complete their original purchase.
The folks at LUSH use quirky subject lines and emails with additional product suggestions to try to get customers to return to their carts.
Craft an email that entices your visitors to return to their carts by reminding them of what they considered purchasing in the first place, and why.
9. Send text message campaigns
Sending promotional SMS messages to existing and prospective customers is known as SMS marketing. Messages are intended to inform shoppers about special offers, promotions, updates, alerts, and product information.
Ecommerce is currently the most successful industry using SMS marketing. Some 70% of consumers say SMS is a good way for businesses to get their attention. According to research by Marketo, multimedia texts have a 15% higher click-through rate (CTR) and increase campaign opt-ins by 20%.
If you run an ecommerce store, you can use SMS marketing for:
- Abandoned cart recovery
- Cross-selling and upselling
- Sales promotions
- Exclusive offers
- Customer support
Top Shopify apps you can use to start SMS marketing today are:
10. Capture more email subscribers
Dollar for dollar, email marketing is one of the most effective channels at your disposal for making sales and generating repeat customers. The latest stats show that 87% of marketers use email marketing to distribute content.
There are too many Instagram posts and TikToks for us to keep up with, and email can offer a more intimate interaction. People are still more protective of messages sent to their personal inboxes versus their social feeds. Plus, email gives you the space to say things that can’t fit into a social media post.
To get started with email marketing, actively promote your newsletter, blog, and any other email capture efforts to get as many subscribers as you can. Take a look at Huckberry, which makes signing up for its email list the central focus when you visit its site.
11. Improve your email campaigns
It’s not enough to simply capture a bunch of email addresses. You then need to send regular, valuable emails for the channel to be an effective ecommerce marketing activity. This can be done with an email marketing automation app like ActiveCampaign.
There are many occasions that are perfect for sending emails your subscribers will actually appreciate:
- Send a welcome email as soon as a customer makes a purchase.
- Provide exclusive promo codes and free gifts.
- Send regular newsletters to alert subscribers of new discount offers, product tips, and, when appropriate, company news.
- Share relevant content to help customers get the most out of their recently purchased items.
- Run a BOGO campaign in time for the holidays to promote self-gifting during the season, too.
- Thank your highest-value customers. Send a personal note expressing your appreciation for their business.
- Solicit feedback. If someone visits your site but doesn’t make a purchase, ask about their experience and how you can improve it.
Take a look at this simple email from Uncommon Goods. For Father’s Day, it sent a last-minute email to remind subscribers of the occasion, and to provide a service for the procrastinators on its list. The subject read, “The Gift that Will Save Father’s Day.”
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12. Make it easy for your customers to get what they want
If your store is poorly designed, then you’re losing customers. But what exactly does a poorly designed store look like?
Besides appearing untrustworthy, the store could be suffering from some combination of the following: lacking a clear value proposition, hard-to-read font, or confusing navigation.
Even when you’ve improved the dimensions above, you could still be making a few design mistakes. Are you properly segmenting your products or are you putting too many products on a single page? Have you figured out the right balance between text and visuals? These are just a few of the many things you should consider. If your theme isn’t converting well, consider some of the other great themes available on Shopify.
13. Engage online store visitors with live chat
There are other high-impact ways to engage with site visitors and customers outside of email. For example, you could use live chat to engage with shoppers on your site.
Many live chat tools let you target browsers on certain pages, after they’ve been on your site for a certain length of time, or even after they’ve arrived on your site through an email newsletter. Live chat also enables you to have direct conversations with your customers so you can answer and address concerns right when they’re planning to buy.
14. Anticipate future sales
If you have the ability to expand your product line, then you should evaluate market demand and see if it’s worth the cost. You can do that through a variety of approaches: keyword research, geographic validation, social media trends, etc. One more creative way to test out your market? Pre-sell items to see how many people place orders.
If you’re trying to decide which of three to-be-released products to sell, for example, create pages for all of them, making sure to use quality product photography and compelling copy for each one. Then list them as “out of stock” and see which product gets the most attention in terms of back-in-stock notification requests. That’s the one to sell.
In footwear and apparel especially, there are times when certain size or color variants are temporarily out of stock. Balenciaga, which sells luxury clothing, gives shoppers the option to receive an email when the product of their choice is available again.
15. Start a content marketing program
Every ecommerce store should consider blogging regularly to connect with customers and to rank better in search engine results. If you’re already creating content, consider actively featuring your blog on your online store.
Don’t forget, there are more ways to take advantage of content marketing than simply blogging:
- Start a podcast to feature your expertise or build a stronger community.
- Guest post on other websites and blogs to build awareness and generate backlinks, which also help with SEO.
- Create long-form content and guides to help customers use your products more effectively.
16. Embrace personalization
Personalization is another effective marketing tactic to drive online sales. Using behavioral data, personalized experiences are served to the visitor, according to their past actions and preferences.
According to BCG, personalization can lift sales as much as 10%, but the opportunity is greater than that. Only 15% of companies are using the technology to its fullest extent.
You can also account for location in personalization to create an experience catered to where your customers are in the world. Someone in southern California may be looking for bathing suits in October, while your Maine customers probably need coats, for example.
17. Leverage user-generated content
User-generated content (UGC) is a great way to generate social proof. When prospective customers see that people just like them are regularly purchasing your products, they’ll feel more confident in doing the same. Nearly nine out of 10 (89%) consumers worldwide make the effort to read reviews before buying products.
UGC can take many forms. Technically, even product reviews are UGC. One of the most effective types of UGC is pictures of customers actually using your products. Pepper, a store that sells bras, features lots of pictures of happy customers in their products.
18. Think local
Brick-and-mortar businesses aren’t the only ones that can jump on the local movement. Online retailers can also take a local approach to their ecommerce marketing tactics to increase online sales.
Here are a few ways of figuring out what local means for you:
- Identify where you have large concentrations of customers and run a promotion for that location. Look at which products those customers are buying and other spending behavior indicators and consider local events or seasons to appropriately time a promotion.
- If you have a warehouse or multiple warehouses, consider a promotion with free, discounted, or expedited shipping to customers in the vicinity. This will be easier for your operations team to execute and also help you promote sales in a cost-effective manner.
19. Optimize your product pages
Conversion rate optimization (CRO) is the practice of optimizing your website for on-site conversions and increased sales. Practicing CRO helps you identify problem areas on your site.
Where are you losing sales? Who’s dropping off and why? What can you do to capture those missed opportunities? This process is done through both qualitative and quantitative research, so you get a holistic and unbiased view of how conversion-oriented your site is.
Once you’ve conducted your research to identify challenges and opportunities, you can develop hypotheses and tests to see which approaches generate the most sales.
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20. Optimize for mobile
Optimizing your store for mobile means more than having a responsive design. It means you’re designing your site with mobile visitors in mind, from start to finish.
Perhaps you have a bigger Add to Cart button on all mobile product pages, making it easier for the visitor to add to cart without zooming in, for example. You might also present your images in a different format, making it faster for mobile visitors to load product photos and easier to zoom in.
21. Reward loyal customers
Focusing on customer retention is a cost-effective way to increase online sales. Return customers account for 22% of a retailer’s revenue, while making up just 11% of the total customer base, according to Stitch Labs. They also spend 15% more over the course of a year.
One way to reward loyal customers and big spenders is through a customer loyalty program. There are many ways both your customers and you can benefit from a loyalty program. They give customers extra incentive to make a purchase and make referrals, and keep your brand top of mind through automated reminders.
You choose how to reward customers, how frequently, and for what actions. For instance, you might have a point-based program, which has its own point-based currency that can be redeemed for discounts, free shipping or free gifts.
Outdoor brand REI has a robust customer loyalty program. Members pay a one-time fee ($30) to join, and they receive access to exclusive online (and in-store) sales and events. They also receive coupon codes and earn back a portion of what they spend over the course of a year in store dividends.
Your loyalty program doesn’t need to be as robust, and you can implement it easily with a Shopify app.
Start marketing your ecommerce store today
There’s no doubt that the right marketing strategy can help reach potential customers, improve average order value, and increase sales. These are all things you definitely want to improve on. By following the ecommerce marketing tips above, you can build a successful store that creates a good customer experience for shoppers and is equally fulfilling and rewarding for you to run.
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Ecommerce marketing FAQ
What’s the difference between ecommerce and digital marketing?
Ecommerce is a way to sell and deliver products and services. Digital marketing is how you reach potential and current customers to encourage purchases. When someone goes to your website to buy new shoes, the act of buying and receiving the shoes is ecommerce.
How do you market an ecommerce business?
- Social media marketing
- Search engine optimization
- Affiliate marketing
- Influencer marketing
- Email marketing
- Local marketing
- Loyalty programs
- Conversion rate optimization
- Pay-per-click advertising
- Abandoned cart emails