Practical Ecommerce

2014 Ecommerce Marketing Checklist

Ecommerce marketing is a continually evolving field wherein the marketing tactics that worked last year may not be effective in the coming year.

What follows is a checklist of sorts. Look at each early to determine if it makes sense for your ecommerce business.

1. Responsive Design

Mobile devices may have accounted for between 31 percent and 43 percent of all ecommerce-related holiday site traffic in the United States, depending on which data source and which time period one chooses.

If one uses the lower number (31 percent of ecommerce-related site traffic) that IBM reported shortly after Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday, mobile still accounted for about 1-in-3 site visits. Add to this the fact that many computer makers are starting to merge tablet and laptop, creating a new mobile subclass, if you will, and it is likely that mobile devices will soon dominate Internet usage.

If an ecommerce site does not already have a responsive design, meaning that it adapts to the size and capabilities of a user’s device, 2014 is certainly the year to make this happen.

2. Rich Content

“The idea of content marketing is to attract and retain customers by creating and curating relevant and valuable content,” according to the Content Marketing Institute.

This definition gets right at the heart of ecommerce marketing in 2014. Some experts predict that online shoppers will become more fickle in 2014 as they are given an increasing number of shopping choices and options. One possible way to counteract this sort of fickleness may be to provide useful or entertaining content that will keep shoppers coming back.

This rich content can take several forms, including improved product descriptions, better or even provocative product photography, video content, blog content, or social media content.

Mr. Porter, an online retailer of men’s apparel, is a great example of content marketing in action. Its online publication, The Journal, always has interesting and relevant content. Similarly, American Apparel’s not-safe-for-work product slide shows and very provocative Tumblr page entertain and engage shoppers, creating lasting customer relationships and generate repeat sales.

3. Site Performance

There are several practical and pragmatic reasons to improve site performance in 2014, including that fact that faster sites are likely to convert better (Amazon has reported that 100 milliseconds in additional load time can decrease sales conversion by a full percentage point).

Quick loading sites may also do better in search engine results pages, since Google and other major search engines use site speed as a consideration in ranking algorithms.

Work with server experts in the IT department or at a hosting provider to improve site load times in 2014.

4. Microdata

Microdata is an HTML standard aimed at helping search engines and browsers better understand the content on a web page and thereby provide a better user experience.

For ecommerce marketer’s, the primary benefit may be in how search engine results appear. As an example, Google will include additional information about a product or a page on its search engine results page, when microdata is offered.

Look at the microdata standard and look for ways to add information about the store site. Also checkout the rich snippets section of the Google Webmaster Tools site.

5. Multi-channel Sales

When brick-and-mortar retailers open new locations, those new stores generally increase the chain’s revenue and profits. In a similar way, selling across multiple channels online can also increase an Internet retailer’s sales and profits.

The Amazon Marketplace, eBay, Newegg, Rakuten (formerly Buy.com), and Sears are just five of the many marketplaces that retailers might expand on to in 2014, creating the opportunity to dramatically increase exposure to traffic, customers, and sales.

Consider using integration tools like ChannelAdvisor to manage and automate product submissions and manage order processing.

6. Social Login

There are plenty of good reasons to encourage shoppers to register on an ecommerce site. From the shopper’s perspective this creates the opportunity to review orders, look at order history, or, perhaps, earn points in a loyalty program.

Merchants like to have customer information since it can lead to personalized offers or marketing that in turn generates additional sales. The catch is that shoppers don’t really like have to create individual user accounts on dozens of shopping sites and keeping track of the many and varied passwords.

One way to streamline account creation is to allow social login, meaning that shoppers can create an account in one or two clicks using an existing Facebook, Twitter, Google+, or similar account.

Every one of these services offers some form of social login, and there are even interfaces or services (Gigya is an example) that consolidate social login into a single tool set or script.

7. Free, Two-day Shipping

Free, two-day shipping offers could become a staple of the ecommerce industry in 2014. Regular Practical Ecommerce readers have already learned about how Amazon Prime and ShopRunner may be changing consumer expectations about how long free shipping should take, and about how payment solutions companies like MasterCard are also trying to offer free, two-day shipping options for online shoppers.

Rather than bucking this trend, online stores should look for ways to market free, two-day shipping offers in 2014, using expedited shipments to increase average order value, reward loyal customers, or, perhaps, get new customers.

8. Live Chat

Live chat can be an effective ecommerce conversion tool, providing customers with answers and help just when they’re making a buying decision, and for support questions.

Online competition is likely to increase dramatically as new ecommerce merchants enter the market, existing online sellers seek continued growth, and brick-and-mortar retailers boost online sales efforts. Live chat, which is very inexpensive, can provide a huge competitive advantage even if it is only offered for a few hours a day.

With services like Olark offering easy to implement solutions for as little as $15.00 per month, adding live chat is simply something online retailers need to do in 2014.

9. Plan Email Marketing

Email marketing remains a very important sales driver for online retailers. Planning and scheduling marketing emails well ahead of time can allow ecommerce marketers to focus on other tactics during peak selling periods. As an example, if a marketing department found itself scrambling for a Merry Christmas or Happy New Year email on December 24, how much more effective could that department have been if those emails had be planned the prior January, designed mid-year, and scheduled in, say, October.

Start your annual email plan with a good definition of who will be receiving the emails, what action each email should elicit, and how the email’s success will be measured.

10. Plan Promotions

Just like email marketing, other ecommerce promotions should be planned well in advance, including pay-per-click marketing plans, banner advertising plans, contest marketing, or even the use of traditional media.

To complete the 2014 ecommerce marketing checklist, be certain to plan well and stick to that plan.

Armando Roggio
Armando Roggio
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Comments ( 13 )

  1. Omri Yacubovich December 25, 2013 Reply

    Great list, I believe that as part of the efforts to provide unique experience for each shopper, behavioral science will play a great role in these efforts. So basically e-commerce sites would be able to answer shoppers concerns and motivations in real-time (e.g. CommerceSciences.com)

  2. William V. December 27, 2013 Reply

    The key is to provide the best customer experience possible… every step of the buying process. Most people shop online because of convenience and time. If the site hinders any part of those two values, people will stop coming to your site. In addition to relevance and appeal, shoppers will be more engaged in a fast loading and easy to use site. Good advice on performance and how load time can impact sales.

    Cheers,

  3. Davide December 28, 2013 Reply

    Nice article, good job!

  4. Drason Wong December 29, 2013 Reply

    Good point.

  5. Rich Naurish January 1, 2014 Reply

    Comparison shopping search engines as multi channels, Responsive design and use of rich snippets are three essential things must be used in site to get more exposure for higher sales. Shopping Search engine and responsive design help acquiring more users and rich snippet help to convert search engine view in visits and sales. Find more tips for your site here, http://www.ydeveloper.com/blog

  6. Elizabeth Ball January 2, 2014 Reply

    I have been using Woopra which offered live chat plus real-time analytics but as of December 31, 2013, the live chat service has been withdrawn so I am looking for a replacement.

    I Googled for “Clark live chat” but nothing came up. Have you got a link to their website, Armando?

    • Raul Brito January 4, 2014 Reply

      Hey Elizabeth,

      It should be Olark, not Clark. It’s at olark.com

  7. heyjude1974 January 5, 2014 Reply

    A great loyalty program should never be overlooked

  8. Armando Roggio January 6, 2014 Reply

    Just confirming that Raul is correct. http://www.olark.com

  9. Al Gregorios February 1, 2014 Reply

    Great tips for e-commerce sites. However for your email marketing campaign where did you get those contact list where you sent your campaign? My questions is really how to get a good contact list for your email campaign.

  10. Rupal Sathavara March 6, 2014 Reply

    Nice article Armando..Ecommerce business is a relatively young fledgling.it took of running, and sometimes it’s hard to keep up with the ever-growing and always changing practices of ecommerce marketing,another important thing to remember in while preparing an online marketing 2014 checklist is to preplan and schedule various promotional campaigns in advance.

  11. Nat April 10, 2014 Reply

    Thanks for your sharing. I think live chat is one of the best tool to support visitors and increase sales. I use Subiz live chat http://subiz.com/ for my website. Until now, it’s great and helpful.

  12. Lenny Manor November 11, 2014 Reply

    Loved the list, there’s also a free eCommerce Conversion Checklist here advancedconversion.com which is useful for improving the usability and experience of an online store i’ve found

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