No matter the stage of your business, you’re always looking for better ways to drive more sales. Let me ask you – how thorough is your marketing strategy? How well-planned?
In this article, we offer you a complete overview of how to plan a marketing strategy for an online store. Plus, we talk about the different marketing activities you could have based on the focus of your strategy – more customers, better retention, exponential referrals or larger orders.
Having an eCommerce marketing strategy gives you an edge over the competitors because it focuses your efforts and gets you where you want to be with your online store.
The things professional marketers consider when working a marketing strategy
No matter if you are launching your online store now or have been running it for some time, before crafting a new marketing strategy, take inventory of what you have now.
- buyer personas – their shopping habits, why they buy the specific product, their budget, information consumption and so on
- what your competitors are doing – website design and CTAs; remarketing; social media brand image and engagement; promotions; partnerships; causes, associations, awards, certifications and affiliations; customer support and care (here’s a template to help)
- current marketing assets – marketing materials; social media profiles; connections; proves of quality
- available budget and talent – what you can do in-house and what you can outsource
Focus your marketing strategy
Now, let’s talk about what you want to achieve – what your goals are. Because you want to change something, right, to turn your business more successful with a new action plan.
And “more successful” usually means more sales.
The simple formula that shows how more sales are achieved is this one:
So you can either increase the number of customers, the money they spend or the number of orders they place to get an overall uplift in revenue. You can do all 3, of course, or – more realistically – focus on one at a time.
That’s why we classified the strategic activities into 3 groups based on their purpose.
- More customers (better acquisition)
- Customers spending more on each order to make up for acquisition costs (higher AOV and profit)
- A loyal base who come back often to shop (stronger retention rate)
Marketing strategy to get more traffic
If your goal is simply to get more people to your online store, here are a few tactics to use.
Analyze your traffic sources and keep only the top-performing ones
Find which channels bring you good, converting traffic and give them more attention and a larger budget. Digging deeper, you can optimize CPC spend analyzing the keywords that work the best for you.
Attract people not in buying mode
To get the attention of those who’re not actively looking for products like yours but fall in your target group, inbound marketing is a great part of any marketing strategy and pays off over time.
It’s an elegant way of getting people in, establishing trust and authority, and becoming top-of-mind.
We’ve listed a few suggestions that drive traffic to online stores.
- A choosing guide (example: types of sun protection, frames that fit particular face shapes)
- General-interest articles on topics remotely related to your products – trends, research findings in the field, event coverage, etc. (such as What we saw at the S surf festival)
- Visual styling tips, recipes, tutorials to expand the possible uses of your products.
- Games, quizzes, contests and other engagement tools that keep visitors thinking about your product category.
The purpose of all such activities is to give value to potential customers without hard-pushing products. If done right, inbound should position your brand strongly in the mind of the target group so that they turn to it for advice, help and inspiration, not just one-time purchases.
To make the most of shopping holidays is to gain as many new customers as possible. So better be very active promoting yourself.
In 2017, the major crazy sales days are:
Black Friday – Nov. 24th
Small Business Saturday – Nov. 25th
Cyber Monday – Nov. 27th
Green Monday – Dec. 11th
Free Shipping Day – Dec. 16th
Boxing Day – Dec. 26th
These dates are pretty fixed so you can plan for the holiday promotions ahead of time.
Some marketing activities to start with so you’re prepared for the big sales are:
- Partner up with trending products/ get licenses
- Decide heaviest-promoted items & secure quantities
- Prepare marketing messaging and materials
- Get holiday content going early
- Implement wishlists
- Monitor prices of the competition
- Engage last year’s holiday shoppers
Going outside, meeting people and presenting your brand in a context different from a website (just eCommerce problems, right) is an awesome way to gain additional brand awareness and traffic.
For the purpose of increasing your customer base, such events can help:
- a stall at a market/ fair/ industry show/ pop-up shops
- organized consultations/ meetups/ lectures
- other organized events your audience attends – music festivals, sports activities, lifestyle clubs, etc.
All those are well-related to the target persona’s past time activities and go-to entertainment media.
Fun idea: organizing your own event is even cooler. It just has to be catering to the audience’s interests without making it all about your products.
Influencers that can help
You know best the most influential people in your niche and the ones your audience looks up to. To be able to update your marketing strategy any time, it’s a good practice to keep a list all influencers, their most used social network account, and their contact. Also, take note of the kind of collaboration they might be open to.
Ideas for collaborations with influencers:
- product endorsement on social media
- product endorsement at an event
- photo session with products
- joint event or effort (like charity)
- content sharing & engagement
Marketing strategy for more repeat orders from existing customers
While getting new customers is good, another way of increasing your revenue is to get your existing customers to order more often and stay with you longer.
The tactics below aim to engage customers, keep them thinking about your products and eventually solicit a new order.
Loyal customer specials
To offer any benefit for customers over newbies, exclusive promos are a must. Early-bird offers, sneak peaks into new collections, discounts on partner events are all ways to make people feel special, a part of a cool club.
Loyalty season after season
Use content to keep them hooked throughout the year with maintenance and usage tips (How to take care of sunglasses during the winter?). You can write about your supply chain and the values it supports. Or introduce the makers of the product – especially if they are experts, artisans, or rebels – this can make great videos!
Engage in brand development
People love to be asked about their opinion and you can expect huge engagement from customers when you ask for new features/ varieties to add to your line. That doubles as feedback and market research so it’s a cheap way to give them what they want while building excitement about the brand.
These are gaining popularity because people sometimes want to buy a newer item but still have the old one that’s working. Make it easy for your customers and –more importantly – lock their money by accepting the old items (works for all kinds of products – kitchenware, clothes, toys, gear, etc.) and giving a discount coupon in exchange.
Based on their order and browsing history, you can offer them new products from a line they already bought. When following their taste and actions, your offers will be on point and therefore – much better accepted.
User-generated content and contests
You can hold a contest for customers on Facebook and Instagram where you encourage them to post pictures with their purchases and promote the brand to their network for likes and prizes. People love the vanity boost to be a trend-setter and you get referrals! Plus, they need to buy your newest product to enter 😉
Marketing strategy for increasing order value
In order to make people spend more in one sitting, you can either make them get more items or buy the more pricey ones.
Since price is linked to quality, you boost your brand image, and gain trust to justify higher prices:
- get featured in a (online) magazine/ lifestyle blog/ YouTube influencer video
- support a cause
- gain certification for quality/ materials/ expertise or a patent for your proprietary product
Or if you just want fuller baskets,
- upsell and cross-sell with customer behavior in mind
- offer the best bundles with the help of product analysis
- have a free shipping minimum order threshold (the oldest trick in the book)
- send small gifts with orders above a certain value (must be really appealing)
Measure success of the marketing strategy
It’s all good but how do you know these are working?
Since we’re data geeks, we talk in KPIs. Implementing a structured marketing strategy for your online stores should give you the following impact:
- increase in revenue
- optimized cost of acquisition
- ROI increase
- increased conversion rate (due to qualified traffic)
- increase in conversion rate of content specifically
- increased conversion rate on emails with tailored offers
- brand searches increase
- more traffic coming from typing website directly
- retention rate up
- increased number of sessions by customers
- coupon uses
- social media traffic increase from UGC & referrals
- AOV up
- improved profit due to upsells and bigger orders
- more active customers
For best results and future tracking of your performance, we recommend using an eCommercerce analytics tool that shows customer behavior, trends and measures KPIs.
To wrap up
Hope this outline of a marketing strategy helps you map out the actions you need to take to get to your goals. What we like about the planning part is that breaking down bigger goals into smaller actionable steps makes them look so much possible to achieve.
We’re excited to hear about your marketing plan! How do you do it? How specific do you get? Share your experience in the comments.