Time and again, over the years, we have heard that e-commerce has reached a saturation point. We have also heard that it is not a lucrative business option anymore.
Time and again, this has been proved wrong.
In a world that is fast going digital, e-commerce is only the natural evolution of physical shops. In the current scenario, e-commerce websites cannot completely replace physical stores. However, they can at least co-exist with them.
Why am I telling you this?
Well, because you need to first understand that e-commerce is not declining. But it is not without competition either. Even if you exclude the competition posed by the more trusted brick-and-mortar shops, the e-commerce sector faces fierce competition within itself.
Every day new players enter the market, trying to become the next Amazon or Alibaba. To have an edge, you need to have the right marketing plan.
The ultimate e-Commerce Marketing Checklist for 2018
1. Measurement is power
In the digital world of business, metrics are a force to be reckoned. Anything that you do online can be measured, and this data allows you to get valuable insights.
You cannot know what is and isn’t working for you unless you are able to measure it properly.
In marketing, there is no single way to success. Whatever path you take will have some risks. But understanding the metrics help you make more informed decisions.
Thus, whenever you want to try something new with your business, gather measurement about that tactic used by your competitors. This is normally named as SWOT analysis; analyzing the strength, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.
Even similar tactics employed by you in the past would work.
Try analyzing how successful that particular tactic was or wasn’t. It might appear that I am over-simplifying your risk by comparing it with others. However, it is definitely better than making a decision completely in the blind.
2. Have a formal marketing strategy
Most e-commerce businesses enter the market without any fixed marketing strategy in mind. They believe in going for whatever marketing technique looks lucrative at that moment.
It might seem that this is akin to improvising, but it is actually a lack of proper planning.
You need to formulate a proper marketing strategy before competing with others. It could be anything you prefer, the choices are endless.
But what matters is that it must be in-depth and answer few crucial questions, like:
- Is your priority making profits or getting customers?
- Are you focusing on existing customers or trying to get new ones?
- What particular demographic and geographical location are you targeting?
- What is your marketing budget, and are you over/under spending it?
Questions like these help you to make a more well-informed decision. More informed decisions are always better for any business.
Remember, any plan could go bad, but a lack of a plan will always go bad.
3. Content Marketing
Perhaps we have already said, “Content is the King” too often, but it is true nonetheless. Content marketing is one of the most trusted long-term marketing strategies today.
Good content makes your website more appealing and goes a long way in establishing brand loyalty.
In fact, content marketing has a good correlation with customer conversion, which is almost 5 times higher than those who do not focus on content.
Content marketing is also a good option because it costs relatively less compared to other marketing strategies. At the same time, it is more visible and thus, affects customers more directly.
Talking about content marketing, it would be a risky to ignore user-generated content. Most customers don’t take claims made by e-commerce vendors seriously.
Yet, they do pay attention to customer reviews and feedback.
Thus, you need to give incentives to customers for posting a feedback. Make sure that the feedback is visible to other users.
At the same time, you must keep an eye on social media influencers who could sway the customers to go for or against your company. Try keeping them in a contract.
It might help you to influence a very large portion of potential customers.
4. Be more visual
Textual content is the usual way of doing things on the Internet. But as times become more competitive, users find themselves with too many options and too few moments to spare.
Thus, enters visual content.
Visual content is great because it helps people to grab more information. All this with fewer efforts and in less time.
Recent surveys have shown that videos have a much higher user-engagement that textual content. With the increasing popularity of YouTube, many other sites have jumped the bandwagon.
Sites like Facebook and Twitter have taken steps to provide better video-sharing features.
Images are another great visual medium to form brand recognition. A recent trend among e-commerce sites is to promote their brands on image-sharing social media sites.
One good example of this is Instagram.
Thus, it is safe to assume that more visual content should be on your marketing checklist. Visual content makes the products more appealing to users and has a higher chance of user engagement.
5. Being functional
In the digital world, your website is your first impression on a potential customer. Thus, it is paramount that your website must be simply great, to begin with.
You must strive to achieve the right balance of features. Too many or too few features might lead to a lacking customer experience.
Most of the customers access the website through their smartphones. So, your website must be mobile-friendly.
It is not a new concept, but your focus must be making the experience optimized primarily for mobile devices. Amidst all this, your website design must be appealing to the audience. Great looks are usually the first things that impress a potential buyer.
Another aspect that you must keep on your checklist is ensuring a fast website.
Many users are prone to impulse shopping. It is a phenomenon of quickly making purchases without any planning or second-thoughts. A slow website is a big hurdle in that path, especially when the competition is so stiff.
Thus, you have to take steps for optimizing your page load time. You must do this without compromising on the content or features of your website.
However, your interaction with users is not limited to your website only.
Mobile apps are the primary mode of doing online shopping today. Thus, you have to show a similar concern towards your mobile application.
You must make it fast, feature-packed, mobile-optimized and available on all major platforms.
6. Email marketing
For past many years, email marketing has been a constant in any marketing checklist. It has a good reason to find such a strong spot. Email marketing remains one of the most popular marketing methods today.
For the most part, this is because of its simplicity and cost-effectiveness. Email marketing is effective because unlike other marketing methods, there is willful participation.
It means that since users willingly subscribe to the mailing list, they are more likely to pay them attention.
Thus, building a strong mailing list must be your priority this year.
Try to use more appealing methods for getting users to subscribe to your mailing list. As more and more businesses are focusing on email marketing, it has a reached a saturation point.
Now, an average customer cannot bother to check all the newsletters and promotional emails. Thus, you need to revamp your marketing strategy. Do it in such a way that you are able to hold user attention from start to end.
Promotional offers must be catchy and have a sense of urgency, prompting the user to immediately visit your site.
Newsletters, on the other hand, must be informational and devoid of any distractions like rich-media.
You need to create emails that target a particular demographic only. You must also factor the time and send emails accordingly.
In any case, email marketing must remain on your checklist in the coming year if you want to target a large audience without sending too much.
7. Business Intelligence
Like other digital businesses, e-commerce can no longer rely on content and advertisements. To make more well-informed decisions, you need insights.
To get insights, you need tools that could analyze data. All this falls under business intelligence.
You don’t need to know what business intelligence is, but rather what it can do.
Business intelligence could be used to understand everything happening on your website. For instance, you can run tests to diagnose which aspects of your website needs improvement.
Most people do not care about their website after deployment until a bug becomes visible. Hence, such insight helps you to prepare before time.
Business intelligence can also be used to understand your customers and their needs. You can analyze what products appeal to customers, and give them appropriate suggestions.
You can also analyze their search and shopping history to recommend what they should buy next.
Such simple tactics go a long way in increasing sales.
Hence, investing in business intelligence should definitely be on your checklist this year.
8. Social media marketing (SMM)
With every passing year, social media becomes a more ingrained part of our daily life. It only makes sense for SMM to be an integral part of your marketing checklist.
Social media is extremely powerful in forming user opinions. Thus, it is necessary that you must have a strong presence on social media.
Creating accounts on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter etc. is a good start. Making them verified would be even more effective.
As official accounts, you get the power to reach out to a larger audience and promote your company organically.
You can also combine content marketing with social media marketing. You might get lucky and create a viral post, thereby reaching out to a much larger audience.
At the same time, inorganic marketing (paid advertising) is also important.
You can have a social media plugin for logging in to your e-commerce site. This allows you to get access to the social media accounts of your users.
Using paid promotions, you can keep popping up in your newsfeed and reminding them about your products. You can either choose to promote new products or products based on the search history of customers.
Either way, it is a simple marketing strategy that has been tried and tested over the years.
Make sure to check off this option from your checklist as soon as possible.
9. Reaching out to you
Though it might not seem so, getting feedback is important in marketing as selling. To build trust among your customers, you need to make reaching out to you easy and simple for them.
In the previous point, we talked about having social media accounts. Creating accounts on social media play another key role: interacting with customers.
It allows you to solve customer queries and grievances directly.
Surveys have shown that most customers prefer interacting with company’s social media accounts instead of calling or emailing them. However, only creating a social media account won’t suffice. You will also have to create a team that can answer customer queries, 24×7.
At the same time, you cannot ignore usual ways of reaching out.
Your address, contact number and mailing address must be visible on your website and be reachable to customers. Customers must start believing that you are there for them all the time.
Then, they will start trusting your company and create brand loyalty towards you.
To further ensure this trust, you need to have a trained customer support staff. Good customer support always works in favor of creating a good brand image for your company.
Marketing is a tough road to travel upon. When you are in a cut-throat business like e-commerce, it becomes even more difficult. Yet, it is also one of the biggest boosts to your company when done right.
To make the right decisions, you need to have a proper plan and clarity to execute it.
I hope the e-commerce marketing checklist might help you out in 2018.