Ecommerce Marketing Tips
You’ve heard all the generic tips everyone else gives about building your ecommerce business around a DTC ecommerce website. However, as you’ve seen, we approach things differently. And our tips won’t jump straight into marketing channel tweaks such as running Google Ads or increasing your followers on Instagram. Yes, it’s great to learn about fixing issues with abandoned carts, mobile vs. desktop optimization, why to offer free shipping, how to improve the checkout process, or why you should invest in conversion rate optimization. You should build your email list and use the right keywords for SEO for an ecommerce site.
Those tactics will come in due time. What you need aren’t more tactics or campaign tricks; you need tips that can help you hone sustainable value for your DTC brand. Here are our 22 top tips for successfully launching a DTC ecommerce component of your business.
1. Loyalty and Retention Starts With Integrity, Not Software
Having a consumer-facing chatbot can be a useful user experience feature to offer. And when set up correctly will improve your customer service. However, this isn’t where you start when working to improve your customer LTV.
To increase retention and build loyalty to your brand through loyal customers, you need to start with building your integrity. A loyalty program that doesn’t include this won’t carry the authenticity necessary to succeed today. This starts with following through on what you say you will do. And doing the hard stuff when everyone else is skipping to the easy stuff.
What does your brand stand for, and what can your customers count on when working with you? Are you a coffee company that only sources from sustainable farms? Certainly, corporate social responsibility can be a sign of integrity, but you need to look deeper. Brands that do, succeed in higher word of mouth revenue, lower marketing costs, and higher profits. Think of how you treat your employees, how your strategy supports your mission, or why you really want to delight customers.
When you start with your integrity, you’ll build a brand your customer can trust and continue to work with, year after year. Skipping this is easy to do, but you’ll find integrity a common thread if you look into brands that succeed in loyalty and retention.
2. Be Utterly Convicted in Your Differentiation and Spread It on Everything
What do you do differently than your competition? What makes you stand out from the crowd in your industry? When you know the answers to this, you need to share them with your customers in creative, thoughtful ways that matter to your most important audiences.
Include this on every social media post across all the platforms you’re active on. Include in your emails, your shipping slips, your customer service ticket threads, and be sure that everyone knows what you stand for. Direct-to-consumer is about opening up with your customers and connecting with them on a deeper level.
Don’t be afraid to do this. And then, once you’ve nailed down how to signal your brand’s convictions, spread it on everything!
3. You Are Probably Not as Focused as You Need to Be, Try Again
While you know that you want to build a DTC component of your business, you probably aren’t laser-focused on the basics to get started successfully. That’s because all the tips and tricks will take you in one hundred different directions. The little bit of time and money that you do have will quickly be diffused and ineffective. How long can you keep that up and still compete with the growing competition?
Use strategy to focus your operations and to build a roadmap that is investable in chunks that give you thrust in the right areas at the right time. Remember, DTC is different from what you’re used to. Some should be launching large catalogs of products, while others should be focusing on a small, curated collection. Unlike a wholesale relationship where you ship these off to warehouses waiting to get sent to various brick and mortar retail stores, you’re going to have to market these products directly, with gusto and noise-cutting precision. The cash can go quickly when you are learning what works. In DTC, like in many businesses, it pays to focus. If you don’t know where to focus, look into finding outside help to head you in the right direction.
4. Put Data Behind Your Customer Profiles in Any Way Possible
When was the last time you binge-watched Netflix because they suggested the most amazing show they thought you might like? Most likely, it was this last weekend. And how did they know what you would like?
By tracking what you watched recently and sharing with you similar shows. You need to be more like Netflix and less like Blockbuster in your industry.
You need to know more about your visitors and customers than they do about themselves. And you do that by having solid data throughout your entire tech stack from CRM to ad platforms.
5. Don’t Settle With Last Year’s Data, Always Invest in Fresh Information and Intel
Just like Blockbuster wasn’t paying attention to Netflix in 1997, you can’t be looking backward when it comes to your data. Every database in the country in 1997 would have told you that the video rental industry was solid. However, within a few years, it would be entirely taken over by a mail-in service that lets you customize your queue based on your interests.
You need to be looking forward to the data you rely on to make your decisions. Think about fresh ways the information can relate to your company and within your entire industry. This is how you’ll stay relevant and at the top of your industry.
Even a robust primary research study completed just 12 months ago may need to be tossed for a new inquiry into the market with how fast things are changing. While data is not an area within ecommerce marketing to skimp, you can easily find yourself priced out of helpful solutions. It pays to invest the time it takes to find trustworthy help that you can afford.
6. Don’t Let Ecommerce Marketing Agencies Do Everything for You, Work Hybrid
This may sound like an interesting tip coming from an ecommerce marketing agency, but you can’t have your head in the sand when it comes to your marketing strategy. And the same is true for ecommerce as well.
You need to know what is working and what isn’t. Often the reports that agencies provide aren’t enough to bring you up to speed. Whenever working with an ecommerce marketing agency, make sure that you have a full-time staff member set to learn as much as possible from the engagement. It’s not enough to get the work knocked out well; you need to bring learning in-house to allow you a shot at lowering your costs long term.
Whomever you work with should regularly communicate with you and share the data they’re collecting to make their decisions and optimize your conversion rates. Encourage team members that work with outside ecommerce marketing agencies to share insights with everyone on your team and document them so that you now can carry these more expensive experiences forward.
7. Make Goals You Think You Can’t Hit, It’ll Actually Help
It can be scary to set goals that, really, you can’t imagine hitting. However, if you set your objectives too low, you run the risk of actually hitting them. And there isn’t anything worse than hitting a goal that was set too low and missing out on the possibility that could have been if you had been aiming higher.
So, set goals you think you can’t hit, go after them, and see what happens. These goals can be around revenue, profit, customer acquisition, etc. You’ll be surprised by what happens when you aim high. Incorporate these goals into a holistic ecommerce marketing plan to sync your vision with your execution. And the growing ecommerce market is the right place to be for aiming high and growing your company to the next level.
8. Don’t Let DTC Fend for Itself but Rather Connect It Transparently to Your Entire Business
The entire basis of a direct-to-consumer ecommerce store is that very connection that you make with your customers. Today’s consumers want to do business with companies they trust. And the best way to gain that trust is through transparent connections.
Luckily, the internet brings us together with our customers in ways that would have never been possible in years past. So use it to your advantage and connect your entire business with your customers.
Show them what the warehouse looks like and how you’re storing the product you’re about to ship out. Share with your followers how you source the raw goods you use to make your final products. These kinds of behind-the-scenes connections are what will make you stand out from the crowd and what will make your customers choose to purchase from you.
Do the same thing for your internal teams and processes. Consider ways to give ecommerce-specific staff collaboration and team-building experiences with the rest of the company and vice versa. You can also use incentives to help bring these teams together so that it’s not one part of the company competing against or undercutting the other at the expense of both business units’ performance.
9. A/B Test Based on Documented Hypotheses, Not Willy Nilly
Don’t start changing things in your sales funnel without first examining every component. See where the drop-off is in conversion and then change one thing—document what you want to change, why, and what you expect to get from that change. The goal will be to set the story upfront and track it to see what happened. With A/B testing for ecommerce marketing, the goal is learning because learning will lead to performance. You can count on that. Alternatively, we’ve very rarely seen performance come without learning, and yet that step is often skipped in favor of trying to find the next silver bullet UX change to shopping carts or landing pages.
As you slowly work through each hypothesis, you’ll start to see where you can optimize your funnel more.
10. Place an Exceptionally High Priority on Software Integration Quality
When you are building out your ecommerce marketing tech stack, you’ll be faced with hundreds of SaaS options for integration with your store. The top-performing online retailers have learned to prioritize the quality of integrations as a key component of investigating and discerning what software will work best to drive performance.
Instead of merely looking at features or price, always consider the quality of integration with your other ecommerce marketing tools. This includes judging software based on the speed of the integration, uptime, number, and types of fields, completeness of data, data normalization, etc.
11. Ensure Your Customer Analytics Data Is Redundant and Protected From Errors
The data you use to grow your business is vital to see true success. You need to make sure that you’re looking at the right data and that it is flawless. Don’t risk making bad decisions based on bad data. This means you should be using data interrogation tools that regularly check for accurate ranges of values. You can regularly review your log files to ensure data is being written correctly and hasn’t been lost, duplicated, or erroneously documented in your databases.
This tip is imperative to seeing true success as you grow your ecommerce market. Remember our Netflix example earlier. You need to know more about your customers than they even know about themselves, and that requires available, accessible, accurate, and complete data sets.
12. Build Your Customer Profiles Into All of Your Marketing Planning and Segmentation
As you build your marketing plan and segment your customer list, you need to ensure that you have complete customer profiles. The information you have about your customers is vital to boosting your DTC performance and providing success in this market.
When you work directly with the customer, you must have complete profiles on everyone. And then, you need to incorporate that information into every aspect of your ecommerce marketing planning and technology offerings. This is the right order to tackle infusing higher quality into ad campaigns, email campaigns, and personalization, for instance.
13. If You Think PPC Doesn’t Work, You Aren’t Doing It Right
Too many people jump into pay-per-click advertising without first assessing their target audience. This leads to wasted marketing dollars and unhappy management who claim that PPC doesn’t work.
And in fact, that couldn’t be further from the truth. The truth is that Google and Facebook have cornered the market on collecting data from every single one of its users. And they still stand as the most-used search and social media platforms, despite many competitors trying to knock them off their pedestal. As you may have seen, Amazon is up there now as well for search.
So, if your last PPC campaign produced dismal results, then you most likely didn’t do it right. When you work with an expert and follow a winning approach using the vast amount of data available to you, then you’ll see the same amazing results that the rest of our clients see every day.
14. Create a Content Repurposing Strategy to Milk Every Word You’ve Written
Your blog posts don’t need to sit on your virtual bookshelf collecting dust. Use those golden nuggets of content on every other platform on which you reach your customers. Turn them into Instagram stories, Facebook posts, GMB posts, and short Click to Tweets.
To scale your marketing efforts, every piece of content you create must work double duty. And ideally, multiple repurposing duties.
15. Make Video Right Now, Anyway You Can
Video marketing isn’t the wave of the future. Video marketing is an essential component of today’s ecommerce marketing plan. If you’re not already creating videos, then you need to make this a priority in your marketing strategy, even if that includes starting with nothing except rough shots from your iPhone.
16. Practice Your Brand or Product Stories With Real People and Figure Out What They Think About It
Just because you’re building your business online and marketing your product online doesn’t mean you can stop talking to real people. Focus groups are just as important today as they always have been in the marketing world. Talk with your customers and find out what they think about your product.
An easy way to do this is to sit down with your customer support team. What do they hear each day from your customers? What problems always seem to come up, or what questions do they have to answer multiple times?
17. Constantly Assess Your Competition, You Aren’t Selling in a Vacuum
When was the last time you performed a SWOT analysis for your business? Was it when you first created your business plan? And is that business still sitting on the same shelf you set it on years ago, collecting dust?
If so, then it’s beyond time to sit down and reassess the competition. Schedule time quarterly to really look at what others are doing. What’s working well and what’s not? If you do this regularly, the exercise can actually move along in less time.
This will keep you in front of any trends that you’ll notice. Remember tip five; we aren’t sitting on our laurels doing more of what worked last year. We’re always looking ahead and staying in front of the trends so you can continue to see increased growth year over year.
18. Never Stop Investing in SEO, No Matter What
Search engine optimization is a long game. You can’t ever stop investing in this invaluable organic traffic. No matter what numbers you see in the first quarter of your SEO marketing strategy, you need to stay all-in when it comes to investing in creating more content.
It doesn’t matter if you publish blog articles, release YouTube videos, or record podcasts. However you can best reach your audience, you need to continue to regularly create content that drives traffic.
19. Don’t Judge Your Marketing Effectiveness Without Also Judging the Value Your Brand and Product Provides
Ecommerce marketing is the intersection between your clients and your product. You can’t judge your marketing without also considering how your clients value your brand and your product.
What do your clients think about when they think about your brand? What do they say about your product and how it helps them? These are the questions you need to ask when evaluating the effectiveness of your marketing plan.
20. Always Consider the Effect of Returns and Discounts When Analyzing Ecommerce Marketing Performance
DTC may be quite different than what you’re used to. And this is never more glaring than when you consider returns and discounts. Previously, retailers handled merchandising promotions and returns. They paid for the workforce to interact with customers in this way. Furthermore, refund ratios are typically lower when you can try out a product than when you buy site-unseen.
Now, as you jump into DTC, you must consider the full effect of returns and discounts. They will affect not only your bottom line but also your customer experience. So, consider their full effect as you plan your ecommerce performance results.
21. You Probably Can’t Skyrocket Growth Without at Least a Few Tech Partners, Just Bite the Bullet
Yes, it can be hard to invest in new tech as you’re building your DTC ecommerce department. However, this is an investment, and if you want to be successful, you have to invest in at least a few new tech partners.
22. Don’t Discount the Effects of CX That Occurs Outside of UX
Your customers interact with your brand and product much more than a simple user experience. User experience (UX) and customer experience (CX) aren’t interchangeable, and you must focus on improving the customer experience on every level of your company. How you set up a chatbot or human-powered chat, your policies, your tone of voice in customer service, all of these things matter dramatically and tie back to our point on how integrity backs up your branding.
DTC is built around connecting with your customers directly. And this level of CX requires you to give your customers more than a good user experience. You must also guarantee that they leave with a good customer experience every time they interact with your brand online.
Why Ecommerce Marketing Tips Are Usually Not Helpful
Unfortunately, despite the amazing potential to realize substantial growth through ecommerce, many companies fail to get out of the gate. What is needed is helpful guidance, yet the generalized tips out there just aren’t helpful. Let’s look at three reasons the typical tips you find that always seem to dominate the ecommerce landscape aren’t actually that helpful.
They Are Easier Said Than Done
Just as with most advice, hearing it said and following through are two totally different obstacles to tackle. And ecommerce isn’t difficult, but you do need to know what you’re doing and where to put most of your eggs, and when. Unfortunately, too many companies put their eggs in the wrong basket and wind up losing out on massive potential sales. If you follow generic tips that aren’t built to help you learn how to learn, you’ll likely misinvest.
They Don’t Take Into Context Your Unique Situation
Just as many make things sound too good to be true, many of the tips available today are too generalized. You can’t take the generic, tactical advice of an author who doesn’t know your product and your market specifically. To know this information, you need to speak with an expert one-on-one so they can get to know what you offer and what your customers value.
They Are Aimed at Beginners
Just because you’re new to ecommerce doesn’t mean you are new to the industry or your customers. We’ve worked with many medium-to-large companies to help them start a DTC ecommerce arm for their company.
They don’t need a canned response aimed at helping a new startup get started from the ground up. They need personalized solutions that allow them to transition their powerful customer lists to the ecommerce platform. And that is what we do for all the companies that come to us for advice, offer holistic and personalized advice for their unique organization.
How Our Ecommerce Marketing Advice Is Powerful
Here at 2 Visions, we’ve been helping companies of all sizes to connect with their customers and grow their DTC ecommerce businesses since 2017. We’ve helped companies of all sizes and at different stages in their DTC growth. We’ve seen it all and navigated many different situations. We help with an ecommerce marketing strategy that holistically promotes the distinctions you have from your competitors.
However, the one constant in all of these situations is our focus on ecommerce and helping our clients connect directly with their consumers online. And our powerful advice comes from this place of experience.
They Are Uniquely Ecommerce-Focused (but Based on Real and Holistic Growth Methodology)
We focus all of our efforts on the ecommerce market. This is our focus and our passion. And we turn that passion into real results for our customers.
However, at the base of all our ecommerce strategies is a holistic approach to growth marketing that will rival most other agencies. We look at the real data and create unique and individual strategies for each of our clients so that you know you aren’t getting the same generic advice all our other competitors are giving.
We’ve Built Our Tips to Raise Deeper Questions That Help You Not Only Market but Convert
We aren’t interested in one-time sales or vague mass marketing. We use our vast experience in the ecommerce industry to create specific and personalized strategies for each of our companies.
Our strategies are based on helping you sustainably increase performance. This requires that we educate your team and invest in their growth by asking deeper questions of your business as it pursues ecommerce results.
The Ecommerce Marketing Tips in This Article Are Integrative Beyond Marketing
So, as you’ll see in the tips we suggest throughout this article, we are interested in creating a holistic marketing plan rather than simply regurgitating over-used tactics that seem to be trending at the moment.
Our strategies will delve into every area of your business, including branding, business strategy, market position, pricing, and more. We look at the entire picture and give you sound advice tailored to your company, product, and customers.
Why You Should Trust Us
As experts in our industry, we work with companies like yours to create solid plans to realize large gains in the ecommerce industry. To help you see why you should trust us, we will dive into the top four reasons other companies just like yours have already made the jump into the ecommerce waters.
We’ve Worked With Over 1,000 Companies
First, our track record speaks for itself. We’ve worked with thousands of companies, many just like you. They were already successful in the brick and mortar industry and wanted to branch out into the ecommerce world.
However, without the guidance of an expert, it can be tricky to get your strategy created and then implement it. That’s why so many other companies have chosen to work with us so they can see large gains right out of the gate.
We’re Specialists in Ecommerce Marketing
The DTC ecommerce market is what we specialize in. This is where we truly shine and what we love to do for our clients every day. We don’t dabble in online selling on the side of the rest of our agency.
Our entire agency is built around the ecommerce platform. And specifically in helping our clients to reach their customers directly through DTC marketing.
We Work Holistically With DTC Companies
It can be easy when developing a new DTC component within your company to only focus on that section during the planning phase. But, we argue that if you don’t look at your entire organization as a whole during the planning stage, then you’re doing your business a disservice.
After all, you’re not just building a new channel through which your customers can connect with and purchase from your company. You’re also building in new capabilities for your organization. And adding capabilities can come with growing pains.
Through our approach, though, we look at critical growth functions beyond DTC, such as projections, operations, processes, and strategy. This approach has served up well for almost many years, and we think it will serve you well also.
Our Experience Continues From Planning on Through to Delivery and Continual Improvement
Not only do we look at your entire organization while we’re planning your strategy, but we’re in it for the long haul. We stick around long after other consulting firms have moved on. Our philosophy in our work is to follow a step-by-step method that has worked for hundreds of other clients.
As you take continual steps towards reaching your goals, we’re there to guide you through carrying out the planning. After all, the real magic happens after the planning phase, so why would we leave before that happens?
We share our experiences and what we’ve learned over the years to carry you through the ups and downs of bringing your vision to life and accomplishing your goals. The messy middle can be difficult, and that is when we truly shine. So don’t worry; we will be with you every step of the way, from planning to delivery and continuous improvement.
Frequently Asked Questions
As we’ve worked with hundreds of clients before, we always seem to get the same questions pop up. Here, we’ve distilled them down to share the answers with you, in case you’re wondering the same thing. And, as always, if you do have more questions to ask, we’re always here to help you understand what we do and how we do it differently.
What Is Ecommerce Marketing?
Ecommerce marketing is essentially telling the world about your amazing product or service online. You can use both online and offline tactics, but the end goal is always to drive traffic back to your website and online store.
You can build your strategy by focusing on the basics of building your brand awareness, increasing sales, and always working to improve customer retention and loyalty. This holistic approach is what sets 2 Vision apart from many other agencies.
Should You Hire in-House or Go With an Ecommerce Marketing Agency?
This can be a difficult question to answer and depends on what your needs are. While agencies are typically expensive, they don’t require you to create a position, list that position, interview candidates, and choose one. They also mean that you get experts on day one without training or onboarding a new hire.
Additionally, you get an array of experts who have experience in several different areas of marketing. When hiring in-house, you have to hire several people to get that level of experience.
What Is the Difference Between Ecommerce and Digital Marketing?
Thanks to the internet, we have come a long way in our shopping habits. Now anyone can order something online and receive it at their door in days. Additionally, gone are the traditional marketing methods of reaching the masses by running ads on a popular TV show.
The commonalities of ecommerce and digital marketing are that they’re both tailored around the internet. However, that’s where they stop being similar.
Ecommerce is the act of selling and shopping online. Digital marketing is reaching your customers online through content marketing, video marketing, email marketing, social media marketing, and the like. Ecommerce marketers use digital marketing to grow the reach and following of their internet store, but they’re no the same thing.
How Much Does Ecommerce Marketing Cost?
The answer to this varies across industries and businesses. However, a true expert can work with your budget and give you results commensurate to your investment. Here at 2 Visions, we tailor our services to each client and their situation and budget.
How Much Should I Invest in Marketing?
You have an amazing product. You and your current customers agree about that. However, you still need to get the word out to increase your customer list and grow your business.
That’s where marketing comes in. Companies will invest different amounts based on their goals and the stage of their company. For instance, mature companies may devote 10% of gross revenue in certain industries, whereas a startup may go into the red in order to acquire customers. This investment is essential to growing your business to the level you’ve always wanted. And as you invest in your marketing, you need to also invest in working with an expert who can ensure that your marketing investment isn’t squandered.