5 Core Pillars for Your Ecommerce Marketing Stack
In the early days of the internet, online shopping had a bad and scammy reputation. Today, businesses that don't use the internet for marketing lose customers, potential revenue, and market share. Naturally, ecommerce has become a big business. Worldwide ecommerce business sales are projected to hit $5.4 trillion in 2022. That's up 10.9% from one year ago, 81.9% from five years ago, and 305.9% from nine years ago.
The point is: ecommerce is growing quickly, and you can't market without it. All parts of marketing can interact with your ecommerce marketing strategy, from influencers and TikTok to in-person marketing.
What is Ecommerce Marketing?
Ecommerce marketing is defined as using marketing tactics to drive traffic to and convert customers on a brand's website. Strategies in ecommerce marketing also translate to retaining loyal customers, employing brand ambassadors, and engaging in influencer marketing. An ecommerce website sells goods and/or services to consumers online.
In-person shopping took a big hit in 2020 and 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Even after brick and mortar stores safely reopened, online shopping remained more popular than ever before, from industries like apparel and cosmetics to sports equipment and food products. In general, over half of Americans now prefer to shop online rather than in-store.
Ecommerce marketing is more than listing a product and managing shipping to your customer. To retain customers, build a community, and grow a brand name that's known all over, marketers should get creative with their content pillars.
Let’s dive into five core elements you need to add to your marketing stack to compete in online retail.
1. Integrate Social Proof at Critical Conversion Points
84% of consumers say they trust peer recommendations above all other sources of advertising, and 91% of shoppers read online reviews before making a purchase. If that’s not convincing enough, 88% of consumers trust online reviews written by other consumers as much as they trust recommendations from their personal contacts. This means consumers are far more trusting of third-party opinions on a product than brand content.
Robert Cialdini first explained the concept of "social proof" (sometimes called "social influence") in his 1984 book "Influence." In it, Cialdini explains that people take clues from their peers when they face new situations. So, when someone views a product they don't have a personal experience with, they trust people who do.
There are many easy ways to integrate social proof into your marketing and improve conversion rate, including:
- Incorporating Ratings & Reviews, Checkout Comments, or Community Q&A on your product pages
- Syndicating reviews across retailer websites where your product is sold
- Sharing case studies from clients
- Showcasing user-generated content (UGC) from loyal customers across your most impactful marketing channels
- Embracing influencer marketing or working with micro-influencers
- Starting an ecommerce referral program with brand ambassadors
Brands like Knockaround use UGC to help shoppers see products in-action and visualize themselves owning the product.
Pixlee TurnTo’s platform offers a combined influencer marketing and UGC management solution for brands looking to boost social proof across their marketing channels; brands can automatically source, permission, publish, and track the success of community content in-platform.
Checkout Comments™ and Community Q&A are two unique ways to capture customer feedback and display it on your ecommerce site. Instead of traditional reviews, Checkout Comments™ ask buyers why they chose a specific product, immediately after purchase. Often, customers will express that they've used the product or other ones like it from your brand and explain why they love it.
For newer products that don't yet have reviews, Checkout Comments show site visitors that real people like them, with similar motivations to buy, have bought the product. This gives the shopper confidence that your product is legit.
Community Q&A takes an innovative spin on the old-school FAQ section you see on most product pages. Instead of answers from staff members alone, customers who have bought the product can answer questions asked by other shoppers. Site visitors and potential customers asking questions are much more likely to trust answers from their peers rather than from the brand that's trying to get them to make a purchase.
Community Q&A content can also help your brand's team get inspired about how to improve products and include the most descriptive overview possible when they're listed on-site.
2. Grow Visual Commerce Capabilities
35% of consumers want to view a product before they purchase it, 20% want to hold it in their hands the day they purchase it, and 11% buy more items than they intend to keep (likely with the intention to return unwanted items).
What does this tell us? Many consumers want more interaction with a product than a basic ecommerce selling setup can provide.
That's where visual commerce comes in. Visual commerce is the practice of supplementing your marketing with visual elements that help consumers connect with your product without seeing it in-person. Those elements could include pictures, videos, virtual reality, augmented reality (AR), or social media posts.
There are many ways to leverage visual commerce in your marketing, including social storefronts and AR capabilities to virtually try out a product. Leading brands in ecommerce often employ shoppable UGC galleries on their ecommerce site, letting site visitors shop directly from real pieces of customer content.
UGC often shows products in ways that professional, polished photography does not, and it’s valuable to give consumers an easy way to shop straight from this media.
NAVY Hair Care features Pixlee TurnTo UGC galleries throughout its website. The brand showcases real results shared by actual customers, also showing a “buy now” button when a shopper clicks on the post.
3. Opt for User-Friendly Shopping
72.9% of ecommerce sales in 2021 came from a mobile device, and that percentage is up from 52.4% in 2016. There's an important message in these statistics: mobile devices are critical in sales, so if you want sales, you need to meet customers where they are. You can optimize your store for mobile devices by using a mobile-friendly theme.
Additionally, you can use Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP), optimize your images for mobile devices, and increase the size of the buttons on your website (as it's hard to click small buttons on a touchscreen). Pixlee TurnTo galleries of UGC can be customized and optimized to provide the fastest and best-quality mobile user experience.
Kirkland’s uses Pixlee to add social proof to its email marketing campaigns with UGC galleries that maintain a mobile-friendly design.You shouldn't just stop there, because accessibility is also important. You can make your website accessible by:
- Using colorblind-friendly color schemes
- Giving your images alt-text
- Adding an audio clip of someone reading each article, page, and product description
- Avoiding flashing effects or lights
- Using a dyslexia-friendly font
- Making your text accessible for speech recognition software
Optimizing page load speed by employing lightweight UGC and Ratings & Reviews widgets is also a game-changing move, as slower sites dissuade site visitors from continuing their shopping journey.
4. Enable Personalization at Scale
A study on 2,000 Americans from Accenture found that 43% of consumers are more likely to purchase from a company that offers a personalized experience over a company that doesn't. The same study found that a lack of personalization in marketing costs businesses over $756 billion in 2019.
Personalizing your online store may seem complicated, but it's easier than you may think. Rather than investing in niche content, you can use what you already know about your audience and products to glean better insights into your target buyer and their needs.
Specifically, allowing customers to filter content within UGC galleries can help them find content that is specifically relevant to them, all while imbuing social proof throughout the journey.
Mapiful offers various gallery filters on its shoppable UGC site page. This display gives inspiration to site visitors while letting them choose what products they're interested in. One way to add personalization to your Ratings & Reviews strategy is to include review elements that viewers can filter for. For example, NAVY Hair Care allows reviewers to specify their hair type so site visitors can identify reviews that are most relevant to them personally.
Here are some other ideas for personalization:
- Address all marketing emails to the recipient by name
- Track what a visitor views on your website and recommend related products
- Include someone's name within the body of your marketing emails (only 36% of brands currently do this)
- Tailor the search engine advertisements you show consumers to the keywords they searched for
For best results, ask your customers what personalization features they want and implement the most popular options.
5. Foster Community Through Your Marketing Efforts
As research shows that increasing your customer retention by 5% can increase your profit by 25% or more, marketing to your brand community is the key to boosting profits. Naturally, fostering your brand community is a winning marketing strategy for anyone looking to grow their business in 2022. There are many short and long-term ways to boost your digital community.
To engage people short-term, you can:
- Increase your customer service response times (as 46% of customers expect a customer service response in less than four hours)
- Run a social media contest
- Respond to every direct message or comment on social media
- Create a unique branded hashtag for users sharing UGC on social media to use in their captions
- Engage with your community by starting a podcast or livestream
Engaging with your community’s UGC in general is key to fostering online community, whether that be through a campaign or day-to-day posts mentioning your brand.There is an art to developing an excellent community-building strategy, as your strategy will need to align with your branding and customers. Naturally, you may need to test each idea with trial-and-error to see if it works for you.
What Customers Want
Ultimately, customers want three key things in 2022: better customer service, more personalization, and a unique shopping experience. How do you deliver these things? Spice up your marketing with social proof, use visual commerce, optimize your store for mobile, enable personalization, and concentrate on your community.
Once you've mastered these core marketing needs, you're set for a strong year of sales.
Mark Quadros is a SaaS content marketer that helps brands create and distribute rad content. On a similar note, Mark loves content and contributes to several authoritative blogs like HubSpot, CoSchedule, Foundr, etc. Connect with him via LinkedIn or Twitter.