When you have an e-commerce business, successful marketing requires that you create a brand customers come to recognize, identify with and trust, just as they would a physical business they can visit and experience.
Here are four marketing tips custom-designed for e-commerce businesses.
1. Personalize your marketing messages.
You may never meet an e-commerce customer face to face — but you should know what the customer wants, when and why, just as intimately as if you spoke to him or her on a sales floor. More than half of respondents to one online shopper study expect the online marketing messages they receive to be relevant to their current shopping needs, style and taste preferences and preferred price points.
While personalized email campaigns and retargeting takes time and energy to execute, you’ll likely realize a higher return on your marketing investment: The same study indicated that 1 in 10 respondents spent significantly more with online retailers that served a highly relevant ad; 3 out of 10 spent slightly more.
2. Speak with — not to — customers.
Content marketing can include blog posts, social media posts, images, video, podcasts and newsletters that you publish on your site, on third-party sites frequently read by an audience you want to reach and on your social media profiles. Create original content that shapes your brand voice and invites audience participation. If you’re an e-commerce retail site, for example, you could shape community-based content that invites customers to post photos of their unique style. If you’re a lifestyle site, perhaps you ask customers to share their top tips for sticking to a healthy diet, reducing stress or similar life hacks.
Prioritize the messages that shape a sense of community: The more participatory your content, the more you make your e-commerce business feel like a familiar brand — despite that it exists virtually.
3. Make the online shopping experience seamless.
Did you know that nearly 20 percent of customers choose not to buy from an e-commerce site because of payment security concerns? How about the fact that nearly half of e-commerce shoppers will abandon their online shopping cart because of unexpected shipping costs?
Marketing an e-commerce business is about overcoming the many obstacles customers experience from the time they click on your site, to the time they enter their payment information and click “purchase.” Consumers are accustomed to hearing news of security breaches at major retail, government and financial services organizations. Naturally, there’s a heightened sensitivity about the importance of keeping online information secure — particularly when it comes to trusting a small business retailer with sensitive financial data.
Your marketing messages should tell your story and build credibility. Address the fact that you are a sophisticated e-commerce business that has the infrastructure to keep customer data secure, including the support of payment processing tools that are PCI compliant to adhere to payment security best practices.
On your website, include contact information where customers can reach a live human being if needed, and a physical location. You may not operate a retail storefront, but knowing you have a “real” place of business at which you run your e-commerce shop helps customers trust that you are a legitimate outfit that won’t disappear should they have a product issue or question.
4. Work to stay top of mind.
Don’t assume that a customer who purchases from you will return — even if he or she is 100 percent satisfied. Your marketing strategy should deepen relationships: Monitor the types of offers and promotions customers redeem, and which ones they tune out. Offer them reasons to buy again — which may include a loyalty program, bounce back offers or referral incentives. When you don’t have a store, your marketing needs to work that much harder to help customers remember your brand, and consider you as an option the next time they’re ready to buy.
Marketing an e-commerce business isn’t a sprint; it’s a marathon. Know your audience, and commit to understanding more about what they like and where they shop. The more you know your customers, the better equipped you are to design creative marketing programs that empower you to offer benefits no one else does.