Seven ways to set up your strategy for success
Establishing a successful e-commerce marketing strategy is about more than establishing an online presence and trying to attract your audience there. Effective e-commerce marketing requires a significant level of planning if you want to get the best possible return on investment. A successful strategy will be one that targets sales and revenue growth, while taking into account all influencing factors (such as seasonality) and reducing risk. The marketing plan should help galvanize the entire business around a central strategy that includes all the necessary elements to set you up for success.
At Hitsearch, we’ve been helping e-commerce businesses for over a decade. As a specialist in legal digital marketing as well as online retail as a leading e-commerce agency, we have extensive experience helping retailers of all sizes achieve their e-commerce goals and we can work with your business to develop and implement all aspects of effective e-commerce. strategy.
We’ve rounded up our top seven tips for implementing an e-commerce strategy that sets your business up for online success.
1. Ecommerce Value Proposition
Before setting goals and defining a digital marketing strategy for retail or fashion, it’s important to make sure you’re taking the time to give your business a unique edge that sets you apart from other retailers. Search engine results are filled with other businesses selling similar products, listed on similar websites and incorporating similar branding and messages. What makes you different? Why should someone buy from you rather than another retailer?
Having a unique selling point (USP) is essential if you want to stand out. The difference you offer must be meaningful to your potential customers and can give you a real edge in this crowded market. It can be very useful to answer these questions as a good starting point to develop something unique:
- Why are we in business?
- What makes us different from the competition?
- What markets do we serve and why?
- What are the main benefits we offer our customers?
- Why does the company want to be known?
- What does the company want to prove to industry, customers, partners, etc.? ?
- What is the general philosophy for doing business?
- What products/services does the company offer?
2. SWOT Analysis of E-Commerce
If you’re an existing business rather than a brand new start-up, it’s essential to assess the success of your current business so you can learn from it in your new strategy. Take the time to review:
- The strengths of your business
- Threats to your success
This analysis of your own business should provide you with a list of actions on how you want to get things done. Some of the areas could include:
- Website and IT development – such as integrations between systems (like your website and a CRM for example), how you manage product and customer data, website functionality and usability and UX for the audience referred to at every stage of their buyer journey.
- Marketing – like your current branding and the marketing tactics you use – what needs to change?
- business process
- Training and skills within the company – do you need to recruit new talent in specific areas to add specialized skills? What training can be provided to upgrade current staff?
3. Set e-commerce goals and objectives
You can’t start planning a new strategy until you’re 100% sure of your goals. A successful e-commerce strategy is primarily a numbers game – you need to meet certain goals to be profitable, and other goals will be needed to determine if your business is growing as expected. Reviewing these goals regularly (at least once a month) will help business owners quickly gauge the success of your current strategy and can highlight specific areas that need attention.
Key targets are likely to include:
- Audience Growth
- Sales growth
- Regular customers
- Average order value
- Return rate
These goals will be different for every business and will be based on your own situation and USPs. Are you considering changing companies or integrating a new business idea? Are you looking to poach customers from competitors already in the market?
When setting goals, several factors should be considered, including:
Historical sales data – your average number of customers, basket value, and actual profitability from those sales
Market and competitor analysis – who is currently meeting the demand for your products? You may want to perform a SWOT analysis on each major competitor. Is there room in the market for you and what you offer? How is what you do or sell different?
4. E-Commerce Customer Analysis
Segmenting your target audience into different personas is an important step in the process, as it makes it much easier to define a tangible target for your marketing activity and ensures that you are not wasting resources on an activity that is not aimed at good people. However, it’s critical that these personas be based on data and real customers to ensure accuracy, rather than educated guesses about who you want your ideal customer to be.
Some of the information you can determine about each character includes:
- Geographical position
- purchasing power
- Family situation
- Where are they hanging out online?
- Where are they currently buying if not you?
You should also look at key factors customers consider when deciding where to buy, such as:
- What is their decision-making process?
- What kind of information do they want before making a purchase and what sources do they use to find it?
- What is the lead time for their purchase?
- Who or what influences their purchases?
Other considerations for personas include:
- How many buyers are there in each segment (or what percentage of your customers fall into that group)?
- What are they looking for if they are looking for what you are selling?
- Whether existing and returning customers or new customers
5. Ecommerce Pricing and Promotions
Setting the right price (including promotions) for your products isn’t as easy as adding a markup and be done with it. It is important to consider the “hidden” costs of selling online as well as the obvious costs.
Your pricing strategy should include mitigating the risk of loss on products, especially if they are offered on sale or as part of a bundle. Such as:
- The cost of buying shares
- The cost of holding inventory
- Marketing costs
- Distribution costs
- Return rate on this product
- Cost of returns
Consider which promotions will appeal best to your customer segments. It can be all or part of:
- Referral programs
- Discount Codes
- Loyalty points or member-only offers
- Flash sales
A major consideration is your shipping strategy. Shipping costs can be a big barrier to purchase. Customers will often choose a retailer that offers free shipping even if their product costs are higher, so only offer free shipping if the costs to the business can be recovered. If you’re not sure how the allure of free shipping might impact your sales, you can always run a promotional period to test the waters.
Feedback is also very important. Offering free returns might drive more business, but will it end up costing your business more than you earn?
What do your competitors offer for shipping and returns? Finding an approach that works for your bottom line has to be balanced with customer attraction.
6. Logistics for e-commerce businesses
Successful e-commerce businesses have detailed procedures for each process or task to allow them to be carried out with maximum efficiency and minimum expense. It’s important to establish how your business will handle the day-to-day tasks that every e-commerce brand needs, including:
- Uploading products to the site
- Dealing with customer requests
- Customer communication
- Processing Returns and Refunds
7. Ecommerce Marketing Plan
Once all of the above areas have been defined and an approach confirmed, you can design an effective e-commerce marketing strategy that incorporates retail digital marketing elements, including:
- Content marketing (on your website, through PR and social media)
- Search marketing (SEO, paid search, shopping lists)
- Paid media (remarketing, social media ads, sponsorship)
- Affiliate Marketing
- Email marketing (including mass mailings as well as trigger campaigns, such as abandoned carts)
- Influencer Marketing
- Reputation (reviews and ratings)
- Offline marketing activity
If your e-commerce site runs on the Shopify platform, keep in mind that you’ll benefit from a Shopify Specialized Partner approach to Shopify SEO and other Shopify marketing channels to get the best possible return.
Get expert support for e-commerce marketing strategy
At Hitsearch, we are a digital marketing agency that has been providing e-commerce services to a wide range of online retailers for over 15 years. Our team of marketing experts are proven to deliver results and help online retailers grow. Take a look at our case studies to see some of our recent projects and what we’ve helped our clients achieve.
Call us for a free 15 minute consultation with one of our industry experts to discuss your challenges and how we can help, on 0800 011 9715.