In “2014 Ecommerce Marketing Checklist,” I addressed 10 marketing strategies that could help an ecommerce business. If business owners wanted sales to be flat year over year, however, and if the exact same marketing and advertising you did last year will return the same results, marketing for an ecommerce business would be pretty easy. Just do what you’ve always done.
But if a company is trying to grow, how that company markets needs to change nearly every year. What follows is a checklist that includes some of the most important or impactful things an ecommerce marketer can try in 2015.
1. Have a Content Marketing Strategy in Place
Content marketing — the act of creating and publishing content to attract shoppers — is, perhaps, the leading retail marketing trend in 2015 for a couple of reasons.
First, content marketing feels right. Good marketers create useful or entertaining content that actually helps, informs, or entertains potential buyers, so much so that they become loyal customers. Everyone wins.
Second, it can be very effective. When an article, a video, or similar resonates with potential customers, it can drive a significant amount of site traffic, and, eventually a significant number of sales.
The challenge for marketers in 2015 is to develop a content marketing strategy that produces relatively more, effective content, meaning that a greater percentage of the content a retailer produces is of the kind that drives traffic and sales.
To achieve this, consider the following.
- Analyze previous content marketing efforts to identify which articles, images, or videos drove the most site traffic or conversions.
- Develop a hypothesis to explain why these content marketing pieces were relatively more successful. Don’t forget to look for general trends or popular search terms.
- Experiment with similar content, based on your hypothesis, to learn if it also becomes successful.
- Review the results of these new content marketing efforts to learn what worked, and adjust your content marketing hypothesis
2. Automate Email Campaigns
A thoughtful, automated email campaign makes it possible to simultaneously nurture a customer relationship and maximize the time spent doing so.
When a customer or potential customer takes some desired action like registering for a store’s email newsletter, an automated email campaign can begin a welcome series that encourages a subscription confirmation, reassures the shopper that subscribing was a good choice, and, perhaps, helps to make an initial sale. Or similarly, if a known customer abandons a shopping cart, an automated email series can encourage that customer to return and complete the purchase.
In these examples, the customer is receiving a timely message that helps to build a relationship, and because the campaign is automated that relationship-building happens without a marketing person having to manually identify the customer’s need and act to fulfill it.
For 2015, try to automate at least a welcome series and a cart abandonment series. Also consider including automated email series around important campaigns and product launches. Check out my article, “6 Triggered Email Strategies for Ecommerce,” for more ideas.
3. Diversify Social Media Campaigns
Facebook is the largest and most important social media site for the vast majority of ecommerce business. It is, therefore, the center of most social media campaigns.
As important as Facebook is, however, it should not be the only social media site an ecommerce marketer uses to engage customers or potential customers. Many social media sites can have a positive impact on a retailer’s customer engagement and sales. Examples are Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Google+, and Polyvore.
If possible, try to find niche, industry-specific communities.
4. Implement a Personalization Strategy
In the ecommerce context, personalization can mean a few things. Personalization might refer to personalized product recommendations. It might describe a form of marketing segmentation. Or it might be as simple as including your customer’s name at the top of the site when she returns. (Amazon does this one.)
For your 2015 ecommerce marketing checklist, get a personalization strategy, regardless of how you define personalization. Basically, figure out some way to get just a little closer to your customers, even if that is a simple as just calling them by name.
This is important because, increasingly, leading retailers are going to use personalization to earn customer loyalty.
5. Create Your Own Videos
Americans watch a lot of video, and there are very strong indications that when ecommerce marketers use videos as content marketing or use product videos that they can have a positive impact on conversion rates.
In 2013, Econsultancy described several online retailers that had enjoyed better sales for items promoted on-site with product video. In fact, Zappos, according to Econsultancy, experienced between a 6-percent and 30-percent increase in sales for items with product demonstration videos.
Finally, making videos is becoming increasingly easier to do. For a small subscription fee an ecommerce marketer can get access to Adobe’s Creative Suite, which includes access to all of the video and audio editing tools you’ll need. Lynda, also for a small subscription fee, has videos that teach you how to shoot video and use the Adobe video editing tools too.
If that still sounds to complicated or like it will take too much time, there are a number of companies that can help online sellers produce sale-boosting videos.