eCommerce marketing means using services and tactics to drive traffic to online commerce stores, convert that traffic into customers, and retaining those customers post-purchase.
What is eCommerce Marketing?
eCommerce marketing includes the marketing activities done before, during and after a customer’s visit to an online store.
Before customers visit online stores, eCommerce marketing focuses on driving traffic to the eCommerce store or site. Since eCommerce stores are online, traditionally marketing has focused on paid online channels such as digital advertising, search engine optimization (SEO) and marketing (SEM), as well as owned ones such as organic social posts and email marketing. However, marketers can drive traffic to eCommerce sites via offline channels such as direct mail, brick and mortar in-store promotions and outdoor advertising.
During the time customers are browsing the eCommerce site, eCommerce marketing focuses on helping them complete a purchase. This can be done either on-site by personalizing the web experience, leveraging pop-ups and providing product recommendations, or off-site by triggering retargeting emails and digital ads if customers leave without completing the purchase.
Following a customer’s purchase, eCommerce marketing focuses on building a relationship with the customer to increase lifetime value. Common practices for post-purchase eCommerce marketing include sending replenishment emails for relevant products, targeting customers across channels with complementing or similar products to those already purchased, and updating customers on new releases of purchased products.
eCommerce Marketing Trends and Strategies
eCommerce marketing trends and strategies can be divided into eCommerce on-platform and off-platform ones, where the on-platform trends and strategies refer to those that take place while a customer is browsing the eCommerce site.
Current on-platform eCommerce marketing trends and strategies include:
- Obtaining customer data – In order to provide more personalized customer experiences, current eCommerce marketers focus on leveraging a customer’s session to capture as much customer data as possible. This can be done both explicitly by asking a customer to sign up to a newsletter or to fill out a survey, or implicitly by using cookies to track customer behaviors and saving said behaviors to a customer’s profile.
- Conversion-Rate Optimization (CRO) – Focusing on converting customers by continuously testing slight changes to the eCommerce site and measuring the impact those changes have in converting visitors to purchasers. Tests might be simple A/B tests such as the placement of a button, or sophisticated multivariate tests such as the outline of a checkout page.
- On-platform interactions – In an effort to reduce friction in the customer journey, the use of chatbots and live chats within eCommerce sites as considerably increased. Sophisticated chatbots allow for customer journey acceleration while live chats provide a more personalized experience reserved usually for high consideration purchases.
- On-site Personalization – Leveraging customer browsing behavior and historical data, savvy marketers are personalizing complete sites or at least specific sections of them. Basic strategies include personalization based on demographics such as gender or location, wish lists, and recent carts or purchases. Advanced strategies include the use of machine learning models to personalize websites based on algorithms such as “customers also bought” and “product affinity.”
- Cross-channel orchestration – Modern customers expect a completely synchronized customer experience. As such, eCommerce marketing trends have expanded to take into account off-platform initiatives. For example, personalizing a website’s first offer with that sent over an email.
Current off-platform eCommerce marketing trends and strategies include:
- Cross-channel orchestration – With the understanding that a customer’s eCommerce experience begins long before they arrive on the online store, marketers looking to provide a unified customer experience have focused their efforts around cross-channel orchestration. Cross-channel orchestration ensures that all communications, offers and advertising a customer sees are aligned. In advanced cases, this orchestration extends beyond off-platform channels and into the eCommerce site itself.
- Behavior-triggered campaigns – In order to provide customized customer journeys, many marketers leverage behavior-triggered campaigns which allow to react in realtime to customer behavior. Campaigns of this type include emails or digital ads that remind customers of items left in an online cart, multi-step welcome campaign series following the first purchase or informative newsletters on how to maximize product usage.
- Browse behavior-based segmentation – Customers on-site behavior is a rich indicator of preferences. Advanced marketers will combine browsing behavior with transactional, historical, and demographic customer data when creating audiences. The result is a more personalized experience for customers and higher engagement. For example, marketers might create an audience of churned customers who recently browsed a specific category on an eCommerce site and target them with an email offer as part of a reactivation campaign.
- Dynamic content – Creating communications such as SMS, mobile push notifications and emails with dynamic content boxes is a growing marketing trend for eCommerce marketers. Dynamic content can be the inclusion of items left in a cart inside a push notification or the updating of an email upon open to show the most up-to-date inventory levels and prices of personalized product recommendations.
- Buy-Online Pickup-in-Store (BOPIS) or curbside pickup – Although some might consider these fulfillment trends, they are an important marketing trend for eCommerce sites that also have brick-and-mortar stores. BOPIS and curbside had both gained traction as customers looked for convenience with exponential acceleration as a result of health concerns during the COVID-19 pandemic. eCommerce marketers who can, are leveraging these additional fulfillment channels as an additional touchpoint for building customer relationships.
The Benefits of CDPs in eCommerce
Customer data platforms (CDPs) ingest customer data and unify it into a single customer view that is used across channels and touchpoints to power customer marketing. Many CDPs function as a “smart hub” for marketing orchestration with channels and endpoints serving as “dumb spokes.” In these scenarios, the benefits of CDPs in eCommerce focus on powering enhanced personalization and cross-channel orchestration capabilities. Many of the trends discussed above cannot be implemented without a single source of truth for customer data that enables the two-way flow of information between the spokes and the hub.
Unified customer data in CDPs allows for the creation of ever more granular segments that combine eCommerce and offline data and that can be activated across channels as well as for on-platform personalization. Furthermore, the customer exploration capabilities that are native in CDPs can help eCommerce marketers discover new customer insights that increase conversions and improve customer experience.
eCommerce Website Development with Analytical Solutions
Customer data analytical solutions can guide eCommerce website development by providing data-based insights into customer behavior and preferences. For example, by cohorting customers based on channel, marketers can understand which channels are more profitable and which require special attention. Furthermore, customer journey analytics can help understand where in the customer journey do customers drop-off, allowing for the optimization for each channel source to be done separately.
An additional form of insights that can result from eCommerce analytical solutions is the survivability of customers based on their first purchase product or category. The resulting analysis can lead eCommerce website developers to customize their websites favoring the higher survivability items both in navigation menus and landing page positioning.
Improving eCommerce marketing with Optimove
Optimove’s multichannel marketing hub provides eCommerce marketers with the ability to orchestrate cross-channel customer experiences that increase customer revenues and lifetime value. With a CDP at its core, Optimove helps marketers discover customer insights and activate them both on- and off-site. Learn how Optimove can help you grow your eCommerce business.