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Top 5 eCommerce Digital Marketing Programs to Increase Sales

eCommerce continues to account for a greater portion of consumer spending. According to the Adobe Digital Economy Index, online shopping is not slowing down, and global eCommerce sales are estimated to reach 4.2 trillion by the end of 2021. More importantly, this number is expected to exceed $6 trillion by 2024. 

While consumers shift more of their buying to online channels, eCommerce brands that continually focus their marketing efforts to attract new customers will have a significant advantage over their competitors. Building innovative digital marketing strategies to drive revenue is an essential component of business growth. 

eCommerce marketing relies on various digital marketing tactics to increase sales. When executed correctly, brands can grow their audience, boost engagement, and ultimately drive more revenue to the business. In this article, we examine the top five digital marketing strategies eCommerce companies can use to grow their businesses in 2021 and beyond.

Social Media Marketing with Shoppable Content

Social media marketing should be a top priority for today's eCommerce companies and DTC brands. Popular social media platforms have billions of users each month. As such, social channels can prove a valuable resource for finding new potential customers and engaging with existing ones.

As social media marketing platforms have grown, major social networks have begun incorporating shoppable content. Shoppable content is any form of content that enables the user to buy a product directly through the platform. Since shoppers do not need to leave the platform to make a purchase, in-app buying helps reduce friction in the ordering process as users do not have to complete as many steps to place an order. Thus, allowing users to shop within the platform vs. coming to your website means you have less risk of losing the sale. 

Let's look at how shoppable content works on some of the popular social media platforms:

Facebook

With Facebook Shops, merchants can upload their product catalog directly to Facebook (and Instagram). Users can then access and browse the catalog from the brand's Facebook page. Most importantly, customers can add products to their cart and checkout inside the Facebook platform. This provides a seamless shopping experience for your shoppers on Facebook and easily allows your customers to social share their purchases across the platform. In turn, this provides social proof and helps boost brand recognition and eCommerce sales. 

Lululemon provides a great example of a company using Facebook Shops as part of its eCommerce social media marketing strategy. 

Instagram

After setting up your online catalog with Facebook Shops, you will also be able to promote shoppable content on the Instagram platform. Instagram Shops shares a similar structure with Facebook Shops and allows users to check out directly from the platform. In addition, BigCommerce is an Instagram Certified eCommerce Platform Partner, which enables companies to connect their online product catalogs with their Instagram / Facebook business accounts. 

After integrating your online catalog, you can now create Instagram shoppable posts. These posts allow you to tag products from your online Facebook catalog. Then, when a customer taps on an image, additional details about the product will appear in the post, including price, title, and other features. 

IronPlane eCommerce Digital Marketing Pinterest

Pinterest 

Similar to Facebook, Pinterest lets you sync your eCommerce catalog to the social platform. By adding your online catalog to the Pinterest platform, you can turn your products into shoppable pins. Customers can shop your products directly from Pinterest. Each pin contains the product's price, a "buy it" button, and links directly to your eCommerce website product page. 

Since most consumers use Pinterest for inspiration, you increase the chance of product and brand discovery by creating shoppable pins. As a result, you will see a significant increase in website traffic and eCommerce sales. Moreover, the majority of Pinterest users consider shopping as a lifestyle, and thus they are 75% more likely to say they're always shopping vs. users on other social media platforms. 

Considering the numerous advantages of showcasing and promoting your products across social media networks, hiring an experienced eCommerce digital marketing agency to create integrated strategies can help you amplify brand reach, increase website traffic, and boost online revenue. 

Optimize Paid Social Channels for a High ROAS

In the early days of social media, companies used platforms to engage with their audience and increase brand awareness. Today, social media marketing encompasses the entire customer journey—from acquisition to remarketing and retention. Paid social marketing is an integral part of this full-funnel strategy and is a vital component of your overall social media marketing strategy.

Paid social includes any social media marketing that requires direct financial expenditure. For example, platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn let brands pay to show ads to users. By doing so, companies can reach a broader audience faster.

Both organic and paid social media tactics play an important role in social media marketing. However, each is better suited to achieve different objectives and company goals. For example, organic social media supports brand awareness and real-time authentic engagement. On the other hand, paid social can focus on other objectives such as eCommerce sales or lead generation.

How to Increase ROAS for Paid Social Campaigns

Paid digital marketing can help businesses grow faster, but it can also result in loss of capital when not executed effectively. Below, we highlight some tips and strategies to help you maximize the return on ad spend (ROAS) for your paid social campaigns:

  • Understand your target audience to create more meaningful ads.
  • A/B test everything from your ad copy, ad type, images, and CTAs.
  • Launch remarketing campaigns to target previous viewers.
  • Create a marketing funnel to guide users through the different stages of the buyer's journey.

Tracking and data collection are key to optimizing your paid campaigns. Social media ad platforms collect copious amounts of data on each user. This enables businesses to target their ads and adjust ad budgets accordingly with greater precision. However, while this has been helpful in the past, with the current changes, determining data-driven insights has become more challenging. 

Apple has introduced changes with its new iOS operating system that will significantly impact privacy and data collection. For example, with iOS 14, any app that uses tracking must get the user's permission before collecting their data.

What this means for advertisers - if people do not give apps (i.e., Facebook / Instagram) permission to track their behavior, the platform can't build a detailed profile for that user. Most importantly, this affects businesses' ability to create highly targeted and personalized ads. It also limits reporting, as many events are no longer being tracked - such as purchase conversions. Thus, if you want continued success from your paid campaigns, you will need to factor these reporting changes into your paid social media marketing strategy.

SEO & SEM to Drive eCommerce Sales

Search engines are the primary way people discover new content online. Therefore, businesses that can reach the top of search engine results pages (SERPs) can drive significant traffic to their websites and increase online revenue. SEO and SEM are the marketing strategies that allow you to gain more customers through search. Both strategies can increase the visibility and discoverability of your website. However, they do so in a different manner.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process of optimizing your website structure and content to rank organically for the search terms that are relevant to your business. SEO involves: 

  • Researching keywords
  • Creating content tailored for those keywords
  • Optimizing your website's technical performance
  • Getting links from other sites to boost your website's authority

Search Engine Marketing (SEM) is a more comprehensive approach to gaining traffic from search engines. It involves running paid advertising campaigns to get your business to the top of the SERPs. In addition, it consists of some SEO strategies because you need to know which keywords your audience uses before you create your ads.

SEO Strategies and Trends

SEO can be rewarding, but it is also quite challenging and time-consuming. Most industries have dozens of companies vying to rank for the same keywords or phrases. Because of this, many pages are unable to generate organic SEO traffic. In fact, a study from Ahrefs found that 90% of indexed content does not receive any traffic from Google.

If you want to see significant results from your SEO efforts, you must have a strong SEO strategy and roadmap. To optimize your website for SEO, here are some areas of focus: 

  • Optimize your website for mobile
  • Create long-form content with SEO-optimized keywords
  • Structure content for featured snippets
  • Take advantage of Local SEO / Google My Business listings
  • Focus on data and analytics
  • Don't neglect on-page SEO

For eCommerce websites, implementing SEO strategies can increase visibility and significantly improve organic ranking. Learn 13 Ways to Optimize SEO with the BigCommerce platform. 

Hiring an experienced eCommerce SEO Agency can help you make sense of data analytics and help your company get discovered, boost traffic, and increase sales. In addition, it's important to optimize your eCommerce store for conversions

Search Engine Marketing (SEM) and Display Ads

While SEM involves a bit of SEO, its primary method for attracting visitors is through pay-per-click (PPC) advertising. With this advertising model, brands bid against each other for ad placements. The advertising platform then decides which ads are shown to visitors. When someone clicks an ad, the brand pays the advertising platform for the visitor.

The process for running PPC ads varies depending on the platform, but there are some common characteristics. You first need to define the target audience for your ads and set your total budget. Depending on your bidding strategy, you may set a maximum cost per click (CPC) that you are willing to pay for each visitor. After you configure the settings, you can design the ads and launch the campaign.

Businesses can use a variety of ad formats for PPC campaigns. Below are the most common types of PPC ads for eCommerce companies:

  • Search Ads: These search ads appear in SERPs when a user enters a search. The ads are structured almost identically to organic listings. They include a title (headline), a description, and various extensions.
  • Shopping Ads: Shopping ads showcase eCommerce products. They appear at the top of SERPs for appropriate keywords and within comparison shopping engines like Google Shopping. Shopping ads are very engaging as they let customers see a product's images and price before clicking the link.
  • Display Ads: These display ads are graphic advertisements that are displayed on search engines and across other websites. There are several types, including text, image, or HTML. When running dynamic ads, it's important to track your click-through rate (CTR) to ensure that your ads are catching people's attention. You also want to track conversion rates and ROAS to ensure your campaign is generating the desired results.

Email Marketing and Automation to Increase Revenue

Email marketing is one of the original forms of digital marketing. It is still popular today as it allows businesses to get a substantial return on their investment. In fact, research shows that email marketing generates $38 for every $1 spent, which is an astounding 3,800% ROI.

Moreover, the success rate of email marketing is evident across industries. The majority of marketers state that email newsletters are their most-used form of content marketing, and email remains a top distribution channel for their business. In addition, research from SalesCycle shows that 59% of B2C consumers say that email marketing affects their buying decisions. This research also reveals that the average eCommerce company can increase sales by 4% simply by running an abandoned cart email campaign.

Since email drip campaigns involve long-term strategies, eCommerce integrations, and detailed roadmaps, hiring an experienced eCommerce digital marketing agency to launch your automated campaigns can help your company hit and exceed email revenue targets and key KPIs. 

Building an Email List and Automating Campaigns

Launching a successful email marketing campaign starts with your email list. First, you need a list of active subscribers to receive your marketing messages. Some of the best practices for list growth include promoting sign-up forms across social media and adding forms on your website. For eCommerce brands, you can add an opt-in field "subscribe to our newsletter" at checkout. In addition, it is common practice to include a free lead magnet, such as a discount code or downloadable resource, in exchange for subscription sign-ups.

By utilizing email marketing automation, you can build a strategic roadmap to capture new customers and nurture existing ones. Many types of campaigns are automated, helping you manage your digital marketing initiatives more efficiently. Some of the common types of email automation include:

  • Welcome Emails: Send an automated message to new subscribers.
  • Abandoned Cart Emails: Send follow-up messages to people who leave your site with items in their cart.
  • Drip Campaigns: Send automated messages based on specific actions. For example, a customer views a particular eCommerce product. Next, you can send a follow-up email sequence (drip) showing products in that same category. Additionally, drip campaigns are an effective digital marketing tool for B2B companies for lead generation and nurturing. 
  • Segmented Campaigns: This allows you to segment subscribers into groups based on a target audience, specific traits, product categories, or buying behaviors. Then, you can create segmented automated email campaigns with more tailored messages to appeal to your various target audiences.

Benefits of Email Marketing

Aside from a direct channel of communication with your audience, there are many benefits to implementing an email marketing strategy. Let's examine the key advantages further:

  • Increased sales: Email marketing allows you to generate more sales from your website visitors. You can easily send follow-up campaigns to subscribers who browse but did not make a purchase. Email marketing is also great for customer retention, as you can actively market to your previous customers to encourage repeat purchases.
  • Personalized content: Email marketing lets you create content that is highly personalized or segmented. You can craft unique email messages tailored to a particular audience segment or based on an individual's previous shopping behavior. In addition, you can create unique landing pages to increase conversions and eCommerce revenue. 
  • More web traffic: Email marketing offers consistent communication with your website visitors and loyal customers and increases website traffic without relying on paid ads or a search algorithm.

IronPlane eCommerce Digital Marketing Influencer

Affiliate Marketing: Building an Outside Sales Force

Another effective way to grow eCommerce sales and amplify brand reach is to leverage affiliate marketing. Affiliate programs generate qualified leads, increase website traffic, and increase sales. With no upfront fees for brands, affiliate partners (publishers) promote your products and services for free and are only paid a commission if a referral results in a sale or lead. It's a win-win for brands.

With an affiliate program, third parties (affiliates) promote your business in exchange for compensation. As a company, you can determine a standard commission structure or PPC rate. The most common payment structure for eCommerce brands is a PPS model with commission rates averaging between 2%-20% and a PPL model for B2B service businesses. Common affiliate marketing payment structures include:

  • Pay per click (PPC): Merchants pay affiliates for each visitor they send.
  • Pay-per-lead (PPL): Merchants pay affiliates for each person who becomes a lead.
  • Pay-per-sale (PPS): Merchants pay affiliates for each sale they refer.

Most eCommerce companies join one of the major affiliate networks vs. launching an in-house affiliate program. The biggest advantage is that these networks already have an established group of publishers (affiliates) across industries, making it easier to grow your affiliate base. 

In addition, these affiliate networks provide the backend platform, handle 3rd party tracking (affiliate links) and commission payouts. Some of the most common affiliate networks include Rakuten, ShareASale, Pepperjam, and CJ Affiliate (Commission Junction.)

Why Implement an Affiliate Marketing Program?

There are several benefits to implementing an affiliate marketing program. The most notable include:

  • Increase website traffic and eCommerce revenue
  • Trackable sales and performance (KPIs)
  • Affiliate marketing delivers a high ROI / ROAS
  • You receive third-party validation and social proof
  • Affiliate marketing increases the reach of your products
  • Influencers and affiliate partners promote your products to their own social media audience, which increases brand awareness. 

Growing and Managing Your Affiliate Program to Generate eCommerce Revenue

Affiliate program growth can have a dramatic impact on eCommerce revenue. In fact, 81% of brands rely on affiliate programs to boost sales and, on average, affiliate programs generate 15 to 30% of total eCommerce sales. An effective affiliate marketing strategy relies on finding authentic affiliate partners that are a good fit for your products or services. 

In addition to finding publishers (influencers) in your niche, it's important to find partners that align with your brand messaging and values. Since the majority of your affiliates will promote your products across social channels, look for micro-influencers (1K to 10K followers) that also have a website or blog to promote your products. While the affiliate promotes your products across its own various marketing channels, including longer-form content in its blogs and websites, you will see an increase in referral traffic and eCommerce sales. 

As your affiliate program grows, data and analytics will show you the top-performing publishers. Thus, this opens the opportunity for launching collaborations and influencer marketing campaigns with your top performers. 

Weekly or monthly communications with your affiliate partners are essential for program growth and revenue generation. An easy way to stay in touch with your publishers is to send regular email blasts to your full list of affiliates through the network. Most importantly, it's vital to create a marketing calendar to outline all your upcoming events and promotions and offer incentives, like promotional codes, to your affiliates.

With all of these factors in place, managing your affiliate marketing program is not an easy task. Therefore, hiring an experienced affiliate marketing agency is vital for program growth, communications, and most importantly, eCommerce revenue. 

Conclusion & Key Takeaways

Implementing these top 5 eCommerce digital marketing programs will help increase engagement, drive meaningful traffic to your store, and boost online revenue. However, developing holistic, integrated digital marketing programs is a challenge for many companies.

To make the most of your marketing initiatives and ensure a high return on ad spend (ROAS), hiring an innovative eCommerce marketing agency can help you achieve your revenue targets and company goals.  

A digital marketing agency like IronPlane can bring your focus areas together to form a cohesive marketing strategy. From SEO to paid social to affiliate marketing, we offer a full range of custom digital marketing services tailored for eCommerce companies, including all five methods mentioned in this post. 

Are you ready to optimize your digital marketing campaigns and increase your ROAS? Click here to schedule a free consultation and get started today! 

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