What do a hand-forged samurai katana sword with 1,060 high-carbon black steel blades and a 7,541-piece Lego Millennium Falcon ™ replica have in common?

First and foremost, they’re both great.

Second, if you have kids under the age of three, you probably don’t want them to play with them either – one is a choking hazard and one is a katana.

Third, you can buy both through the magic of so-called e-commerce – also known as selling a product or service online. E-commerce is a staple food for companies in almost all industries.

Here, we’ll examine some ecommerce marketing strategies that can help your business attract and retain as many customers as possible.

Ecommerce Marketing Plan

Your ecommerce marketing plan is essentially the sum of the ecommerce strategies and tactics that you want to implement. The most effective plans aren’t cobbled together randomly – they are designed with purpose. They are often based on a general marketing philosophy or an underlying structure.

For example, the inbound methodology can be applied to an overarching e-commerce marketing plan. In this case, you’d tailor your ecommerce marketing efforts to attract visitors, convert those visitors into leads, close deals and turn them into customers, and delight them once they’ve bought your products or services to turn them into promoters do.

There are several strategies to consider when creating your plan. Here are some of the most effective options worth exploring.

Ecommerce Marketing Strategies

  1. Blog.
  2. Contribute guest posts to other websites.
  3. Try referral marketing programs.
  4. Use social media.
  5. Control user generated content.

1. Blog.

Maintaining a blog is one of the better ways of attracting potential customers to your website organically. By creating high quality content that is relevant to your industry, you can give potential customers a sense of legitimacy and trustworthiness.

When you encourage strangers to visit your website beyond your content – beyond material specific to your product or service – you generate interest that can ultimately be translated into action. Regardless of what you’re selling, blogging for your website is an inexpensive way to prove that your company is an authority in its field

2. Contribute guest posts to other websites.

Guest posts have the potential to expand your online visibility. Not only can you establish yourself better as an authority in your industry, but by adding guest posts, you gain more domain authority over your ecommerce website. Leading search engines believe that your website is more reliable and deserves a higher rank.

You can do this by identifying websites with keywords relevant to your products and reaching out to the people behind them. Sometimes you don’t even have to create your own post. You might just be able to expand one of the recent posts on a website with relevant context or an infographic pointing to your website.

3. Try referral marketing programs.

Referral marketing combines two of the most powerful underlying assets with any ecommerce marketing strategy – word of mouth and incentives. A solid ecommerce referral program allows customers to forward your messages to prospects who will trust their judgment.

Research shows that word of mouth is directly responsible for 19% of all purchases and influences up to 90% of them. So an essential part of your ecommerce marketing strategy needs to capitalize on this trend. Referral marketing is one way to do this.

By offering your customers an incentive – like a discount or a small gift – in return for referring new prospects, you are putting yourself in a position to retain current customers while expanding your base.

Here is an example of a referral program from Stitchfix.

Referral marketing for e-commerce marketing strategies

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For more information on referral marketing, see this article.

4. Use social media.

A well-maintained social media presence is an invaluable part of a successful ecommerce marketing strategy. That being said, ecommerce marketing through social media may not look like marketing for a traditional company, brand, contractor, or publisher. And not every social media platform is ideal for e-commerce.

E-commerce is an inherently visual medium. Very few consumers are willing to buy a product that is based entirely on text. The success of your social media efforts often depends on your use of images to grab attention and drive traffic to your product pages. This makes Instagram one of the better platforms to complement your ecommerce marketing strategy.

Whenever possible, consider adding shoppable content – interactive content your visitors can instantly shop to – into your ecommerce marketing strategy. This can mean anything from strategically placing display ads on a social feed to adding extra tags that put users straight into a shopping cart.

Ecommerce Marketing Strategy Social Media

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5. Proceed with user generated content.

Generating user generated content is the practice of finding and promoting ways for your customers to promote your business. This is a great way to enable word of mouth for your business. It increases traffic to your ecommerce website while building an authentic following of interested customers.

User generated content can come in many forms. One of the most effective ways to promote this is through competitions – offering prizes to customers who promote your product in some form. You can also use promotional hashtags on social media or have review platforms where customers can provide feedback on your product.

One way or another, it offers a new level of trustworthiness and a relatively inexpensive source of potential traffic to your website, getting your customers to actively promote your product themselves.

For example, Starbucks launched its #WhiteCupContest campaign in 2014. Customers were encouraged to draw whatever they wanted on the chain’s white cups. The winners ‘designs would be used as limited edition templates for Starbucks’ cup design. In just three weeks, the company received over 4,000 submissions – which caused quite a stir and free advertising.

Ecommerce Marketing Strategy User Generated Content

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If your business has an ecommerce presence, there is much to be gained from researching and applying different ecommerce marketing strategies. Many of the options available can be inexpensive as well as valuable.

Regardless of how you structure your ecommerce marketing plan, make sure it is dynamic, diverse, and well maintained. Implementing any of these plans will take some effort, but when done right it will pay for itself in a few easy steps.

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in April 2020 and has been updated for completeness.

Ecommerce planning template