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Susie Hood

Ecommerce Marketing Strategy

Seven ways to set your strategy up for success

Establishing a successful ecommerce marketing strategy takes more than setting up an online presence and trying to drive your audience to it. Effective ecommerce marketing requires a significant level of planning if you want to get the best possible return on your investment. A successful strategy will be one that aims for growth of sales and revenue, whilst factoring in all of the influencing factors (such as seasonality) and reduces risk. The marketing plan should help to galvanise the whole business around a central strategy that includes all of the elements needed to set you up for success.

At Hitsearch, we’ve been assisting ecommerce businesses for more than a decade. As a specialist in legal digital marketing as well as online retail as a leading ecommerce agency, we have extensive experience in helping retailers of all sizes to achieve their ecommerce goals and we can work with your business to develop and implement every aspect of an effective ecommerce strategy.

We’ve brought together our seven top tips for setting up an ecommerce strategy that sets your business up for online success.

1.     Ecommerce value proposition

Before setting targets and defining a retail or fashion digital marketing strategy, it’s important to ensure that you take the time to give your business a unique edge that sets you apart from other retailers. Search engine results are filled with other businesses that sell similar products, listed on similar websites and incorporating similar branding and messaging. What makes you different? Why should someone buy from you rather than from another retailer?

Having a unique selling point (USP) is essential if you want to stand out. The difference that you offer must be meaningful to your potential customers and can give you a real edge in this crowded marketplace. It can be really helpful to answer these questions as a good starting point for developing something unique:

  1. Why are we in business?
  2. What makes us different to the competition?
  3. What markets do we serve and why?
  4. What are the main benefits we offer our customers?
  5. What does the company want to be known for?
  6. What does the company want to prove to the industry, customers, partners, etc?
  7. What’s the general philosophy for doing business?
  8. What products/services does the company offer?

2.   Ecommerce SWOT analysis

If you’re an existing business rather than a brand new start-up, it’s vital to evaluate the success of your current activity so that you can take learnings from this into your new strategy. Take time to review:

  1. Your business’ strengths
  2. Weaknesses
  3. Opportunities
  4. Threats to your success

This analysis of your own business should provide you with a list of actions of how you want to take things forward. Some of the areas might include:

  1. Website development and IT – such as integrations between systems (like your website and a CRM for example), how you’re handling product and customer data, the functionality of the website and it’s usability and UX for the intended audience at every stage of their buyer journey.
  2. Marketing – such as your current branding and the marketing tactics you are using – what needs to change?
  3. Business processes
  4. Training and skills within the business – do you need to recruit new talent in specific areas to add specialist skills? What training can be given to upskill current staff?

3.   Setting ecommerce goals and objectives

You can’t start planning a new strategy until you are 100% clear on your objectives. A successful ecommerce strategy is primarily a numbers game – you need to meet certain targets to be profitable and other targets will be needed to determine whether your business is growing in line with expectations. Reviewing these targets regularly (at least monthly) will help the business owners to quickly evaluate the success of your current strategy and can highlight specific areas that need attention.

Key targets are likely to include:

  1. Audience growth
  2. Sales growth
  3. Repeat customers
  4. Average order value
  5. Return rates

These targets are going to be different for every business and will be based on your own situation and your USP(s). Are you planning on changing the business or incorporating a new business idea? Are you aiming to poach customers from competitors already in the market?

When setting targets, there are a range of factors to consider, including:

Historical sales data – your average number of customers, basket value and the actual profitability that stems from these sales

Analysis of the marketplace and your competitors – who is currently fulfilling the demand for your products? You may want to conduct 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 any different?

4.  Ecommerce customer analysis

Segmenting your target audience into different personas is an important stage in the process as it makes it much easier to have a tangible target for your marketing activity and ensures you’re not wasting resource on activity that isn’t aimed at the right people. However, it’s essential that these personas are data-led and based on 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 persona includes:

  1. Age
  2. Gender
  3. Geographic location
  4. Income
  5. Purchasing power
  6. Family status
  7. Where do they hang-out online?
  8. Where do they buy from currently if not you?

You also need to look at the key factors that customers consider when deciding where to buy from, such as:

  1. What does their decision-making process involve?
  2. What kind of information do they want before making a purchase and what sources do they use to find it?
  3. What is the timeline for their purchase?
  4. Who or what influences their purchases?

Other considerations for personas include:

  1. How many shoppers are in each segment (or what percentage of your customers fall into this group)?
  2. What do they search for if they are looking for what you sell?
  3. Whether they are existing and return customers or first-timers

5.   Ecommerce pricing and promotions

Establishing the right price point (including promotions) for your products isn’t as simple as adding a margin and being done with it. It’s important to factor in the ‘hidden’ costs of selling online as well the obvious ones.

Your pricing strategy needs to include mitigation for the risk of making a loss on products, especially if offered on promotion or as part of a bundle. Such as:

  1. The cost of buying stock
  2. The cost of holding stock
  3. Marketing costs
  4. Distribution costs
  5. Return rate on this product
  6. Cost of returns

Consider what promotions will appeal best to your customer segments. It could be all or some of:

  1. Referral schemes
  2. Voucher codes
  3. Loyalty points or membership-only offers
  4. Flash sales

A major consideration is your shipping strategy. Shipping costs can be a big barrier to purchase. Customers will often choose a retailer with free shipping, even if their product costs are higher, so only offer free shipping if the costs to the business can be recouped. If you’re unsure how the lure of free shipping might impact your sales, you can always run a promotional period to test the waters.

Returns are also very important. Offering free returns might get more transactions over the line, but will this end up costing your business more than you make?

What do your competitors offer when it comes to shipping and returns? Finding an approach that works for your bottom line needs to balance with customer attraction.

6.   Logistics for ecommerce businesses

Successful ecommerce businesses have detailed procedures for every process or task to enable them to be done with maximum efficiency and minimum outlay. It’s important to establish how your business will handle the everyday tasks that every ecommerce brand needs to, including:

Sales process

  1. Getting the products onto the website
  2. Dealing with customer queries

Ordering process

  1. Payment
  2. Packing
  3. Distribution
  4. Fulfilment
  5. Customer communications
  6. Processing returns and refunds

Stock management

  1. Orders
  2. Lead times

7.    Ecommerce marketing plan

Once all of the above areas have been defined and an approach confirmed, you can devise an effective ecommerce marketing strategy that incorporates elements of retail digital marketing including:

  1. Branding
  2. Content marketing (on your website, via PR and social media)
  3. Search marketing (SEO, paid search, shopping listings)
  4. Paid media (Remarketing, social media ads, sponsorship)
  5. Affiliate marketing
  6. Email marketing (including mass mailers as well as trigger campaigns, such as abandoned baskets)
  7. Influencer marketing
  8. Reputation (reviews and ratings)
  9. Offline marketing activity

If your ecommerce site runs on the Shopify platform, bear in mind that you’ll benefit from a specialist Shopify partner approach to Shopify SEO and other Shopify marketing channels in order to see the best possible return.

Get expert assistance with ecommerce marketing strategy

At Hitsearch, we are a digital marketing agency that have been providing ecommerce services for a wide range of online retailers for more than 15 years. Our team of expert marketers have a proven track record of getting results and helping online retailers to grow. Take a look at our case studies to see some of our recent projects and what we have helped our clients to achieve.

Call us for a free 15-minute consultation with one of our industry experts to talk through your challenges and how we can help, on 0800 011 9715.


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If you have a business in the financial sector and would like to up your marketing game or receive some expert information about digital marketing for financial services, then get in touch with a member of our team!

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