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11 Digital Marketing Essentials for Ecommerce in 2017
Creating a winning digital marketing strategy in a saturated media landscape is vital. Attracting new customers, as well as nurturing the customers you already have is the only way to build and sustain long-term growth through 2017 and beyond.
For ecommerce businesses that want to stay relevant in the eyes of their audiences, check out these 11 digital marketing essentials every ecommerce brand needs to consider.
Content Marketing: Keep Investing
The lynchpin of all marketing efforts, the content. Saying all the right things is easy, making people care is another story. With an endless list of competitors a just few clicks away, a great headline is the only opportunity you might get to attract your audience’s attention.
Making a connection with your customers and becoming memorable is a full time job. You need to hear what your customers are talking about and answer their questions, in language, and through channels, they respond to. Offering vital information for free has been shown to build trust and loyalty with your audience — so make sure that content stays at the top of your marketing list for 2017 and beyond.
Mobile Optimisation: Beyond Responsive
Mobile optimisation consists of more than just making sure your website looks good on a smartphone.
It has been shown that consumers now put phones as the centre of their digital world, and so, brands that really utilise the platform to create dedicated or non-obtrusive marketing campaigns, can reap the benefits of increased interactions and sales.
More and more of people would like to pay for products/services with smartphones, and mobile apps are becoming ubiquitous — get involved to make the most of mobile. Use push notifications and personalisation like geo-targeting to take your marketing to the next level.
A/B Testing: Know Your Audience
Many web developers and business owners think they know their customers inside-out, but do they really? Customer research and competitor analysis form the basis of understanding the reasons ‘why’ customers come to you; A/B testing takes into account ‘how’ users navigate your website.
A/B testing might show that a simple and intuitive cataloguing system would aid your customers’ access to your webstore, or that people prefer a more visual sign-up form. The ROI of A/B testing consistently outstrips the time taken to conduct testing and reformulate your ideas — so get testing today. (Here’s a comprehensive list of split testing software).
User Generated Content: Proving it With Social
Social proof is everything. Generally internet shoppers will conduct a lot of research before making a purchase, because the information is there at their fingertips at all times. Most notably, consumers will be looking for positive reviews. Getting your products reviewed by as many people as possible is an important goal for all ecommerce businesses.
Further, making a connection through content with your fans can also be an inexpensive way to draw a positive response from social media users. Boden have made good use of this technique with their #bodenbyme Instagram campaign. People like to see real people showing genuine enthusiasm for a product or service they use, so don’t be afraid to get creative with UGC.
Thought Leadership Content: Be Heard
Customers research the products they’re looking to purchase thoroughly and deeply. This is where thought leadership content comes into play. There are thousands of other websites offering suitable alternatives to every product/service in existence. People are looking for reassurance from someone they can trust — reassurance that you’re the best brand to opt for. So start developing a comprehensive and knowledgeable online brand that’s not afraid to put itself forward to discuss real issues.
Influential voices from every industry have taken up their soapboxes online. Getting involved in the conversation can put your ecommerce business in front of potentially millions of informed customers. If you feel like your ecommerce business can add value and answer your customer’s key questions and pain points — get out there and start sharing. You can also lift the lid on the people who make your business and brand so special and unique.
Omnichannel Marketing: Be Everywhere & Be Consistent
Being listed on as many buying channels as possible is a no-brainer for ecommerce brands. As you cross over between channels and networks, make sure that your brand messaging and customer experience remain consistent. An audit of your current website and brand can help you identify necessary changes.
If you’re a business that’s established in one industry, and you’re considering using a particular channel to expand into a different one, your existing marketing message may not ‘chime’ with the new customers you want to attract. If you wanted to expand your catering equipment company into the health services industry, your approach to product listings and photography would be need to be completely overhauled to get the right tone and message. Taking the time to understand how customers interact and respond to each and every channel is vital and will create overall brand harmony.
Personalisation: Lean on Data
If you’ve ever browsed a store in the past and returned at a later date, you can appreciate how helpful it is to see the same products saved on-screen, or get an email about a favourite product going on offer tomorrow. Informed customers almost unconsciously insist on this level of personalisation from ecommerce brands.
Brands that don’t use big data in this way will get left miles behind the competition. One-to-one marketing can be carried out in many different ways, using account systems, cookies, social media ad targeting, and PPC. Even targeted email campaigns can involve an increasingly sophisticated degree of personalisation, so don’t miss out.
Native Advertising: Informative Content
Suitable homes for branded content are becoming harder to find online, as more and more internet users take up ad blockers.
In response to this and the strains on newspaper funding, many popular publications now host native ads. These platforms provide a steady stream of readers to brands who have a good product or service to offer and information to share.
Native advertising has faced some criticism in the past, as many users have been mislead by the blurred lines between advertorial and editorial content. However, audiences have also been shown to respond positively to this type of advertorial content.
News sites must now clearly label their sponsored posts, and there is a lot of room for content cross-pollination between issues in society and products/services designed to help.
Video Marketing: Stay Ahead
Ecommerce brands that experiment with video marketing are ahead of their competitors; consuming video content is how a huge chunk of online audiences spend their time online.
Figures from Wyzowl show that 61% of businesses are using video in their marketing efforts. Whether it’s on mobile or desktop, video is the most effective way of catching your customer’s attention.
Embedding a video on your homepage will also increase the amount of time people spend on your website, thus improving your page’s engagement metrics. The content you make doesn’t have to be high-budget or overly polished. Viewers will overlook less cinematic techniques in video, provided the information is useful and benefits their lives in some way.
User Experience Design (UX): Be Clear
With anything related to design, substance is just as important as style. UX design is therefore a multi-disciplined process that helps brands create a sense of desire in the customer, but also an environment that the customer can really benefit from (i.e. the information contained within your website).
From the creation of personas and testing audience hypotheses to mapping out information architecture and A/B testing design elements, a good web agency will help to build and maintain a positive customer experience across all your sales channels. If you decide to go the DIY route, choose a store with good UX that will allow you to tweak the customer experience, and collaborate with a web designer further down the line.
Marketing Automation: Be Strategic
Personalising your customer’s conversion journey can help boost sales. Automating this process across all channels, can help companies market to their existing leads and prospects more efficiently.
Be cautious of the ‘automation’ aspect of the deal — utilising marketing automation properly requires careful strategic planning. It by no means enables marketers to ‘switch to autopilot’ once they’ve settled upon one formula. Split testing and user experience always needs to be considered in this ever-evolving process.
With all digital marketing efforts for 2017 and beyond, the direction is clearly headed towards personalisation across every channel your customers visit. Gone are the days of keyword stuffing to boost SEO — we are now seeing an industry in favour of highly targeted, useful information that creates genuine interest in what your business has to offer. What’s your favourite ecommerce marketing element, and why
Gareth Simpson – Technical SEO & Startup Founder
Gareth Simpson is an SEO pro with a decade of experience under his belt. Gareth is currently focused on his blogger outreach and content marketing campaigns. You can find him in Bristol, consulting clients and hard at work in his office.