the ecommerce marketing guide

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eCommerce Marketing Guide - tips and tricks for a successful online shop


  • The eCommerceMarketing Guide

  • Table of Contents

    1. Inbound Marketing 3

    2. Outbound Marketing 35

    3. Design 46

  • Inbound Marketing1

    BuIldIng a Brand

    undersTandIng Your CusToMer

    MarkeTIng an eCoMMerCe CusToMer

    ConTenT MarkeTIng

    searCh engIne opTIMIzaTIon

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    Building a Brand

    Many view eCommerce as simply an online store selling products. What they neglect is the importance

    of building a brand and focusing on the customer. Many shops simply sell products, but what distin-

    guishes some from others and converts them into robust businesses is the brand they build throughout

    the process. The brand is what your company is known for, how people think and feel about your com-

    pany, and it is derived from the cumulative experience they have with every single touchpoint from the

    moment they come to your eCommerce site to their perceptions about the product theyve purchased

    and continue to use.

    In Building Brands Apples Way, Jeffrey Rayport explains that products themselves need to serve as

    brand ambassadors. An advertisement only makes an impression for a short period of time. A product

    on the other hand makes a lasting impression on how the consumer perceives the brand.

    If you sell more than just private label products, its important to think of your actual eCommerce prod-

    uct that goes along with your brand. For Amazon, their eCommerce products are things like prime ship-

    ping, Amazon Air (if it becomes reality), relevant product recommendations, and a vast selection. This is

    the Amazon product.

    I want to share a quick example of a company building its brand. Its not related to eCommerce, but can

    help us to understand how some of top performing companies think.

    Life Time Fitness, a fitness club with locations around the United States, recently launched an annual

    5k run/walk called Commitment Day. Its held annually on January 1, a holiday after the extended holi-

    day season where people may be literally and figuratively hungover.

    When I first heard this idea, I was puzzled. Why would a fitness club start something called Commit-

    ment Day on a day where the majority prefers to relax and enjoy their New Years Day without working

    up a sweat? Was this such a great idea of spreading the word about their club?

    I realized soon after that this had nothing to do with marketing. Instead, it was about building the Life

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    Time Fitness brand. Nearly all other fitness clubs are promoting their product for low cost, which really

    has little to do with fitness, while Life Time is creating a high barrier to entry gym.

    Life Time Fitness is using Commitment Day to start a movement and ultimately boost its branda brand

    that (they hope) will be known for fitness, living healthy, and taking personal responsibility. Others can

    discuss prices all they want, Life Time is taking the longer view and building its brand.

    For businesses, its important to understand your customer and then build a brand with them in mind.

    Understanding Your Customer

    The key job of a business is to have a deep understanding of its customer. The customer is at the cen-

    ter of all initiatives. Functions like marketing, sales, and design are all impacted by the customer. If you

    dont know who your customer is, you dont know who your market is. And understanding your custom-

    er means understanding how to run your marketing.

    Marketing an eCommerce Company

    I have to admit something. I dont know you or your company, and given that, I dont know how to mar-

    ket a company Im not familiar with. I can write an eCommerce Marketing Guide that provides ideas

    on marketing and building an eCommerce brand, but I cant write a manual. Each company needs its

    own brand path and marketing approach. There is no one size fits all marketing.

    One thing eCommerce companies dont lack is options. Companies today have a range of possibili-

    ties they can use to get their business in front of their ideal customer. In this guide I hope to provide an

    overview of these possibilities and explain their application for the online business.

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    Lets begin by examining how eCommerce companies can use content marketing to raise awareness

    and drive online sales.

    Content Marketing

    Content marketing can be an extremely effective marketing program for eCommerce companies. It can

    showcase your knowledge and thought leadership and create a personality around the products you

    sell. A few ideas on what eCommerce companies can do with content:


    Provide an overview and background on products. This should be both recently launched products

    as well as your category staples. You dont have to write a book on each product, but it should be

    detailed and accurate enough so the reader understands its features and benefits, and gets drawn

    in. You can also include a video where you demo the product and show how it works.

    Dont write to sell the product. Instead, your goal should be to provide information to readers so

    they can decide if the product is for them. Make sure to post at least two links to the product page

    (if you sell it) on these product overview blog posts

    Demo products that provide a background on the product and showing it in action

    Write about newly launched products that fit what you sell

    Show what people can do with the products you sell (i.e.; what they get out of it)

    Help people discover new products by writing about small, innovative companies and the story

    behind them.

    Teach people about multiple product categories. If you sell car parts, your product categories (and

    blog categories) will explain how oil filters, exhausts, air filters, and brakes all work. You can explain

    the basic function behind them and guide on what to look for when shopping for that specific part.

    Produce educational videos and post them to your blog. For example, if you sell fly fishing equip-

    ment, you can create videos showing basics of fly fishing (and mention the products youre using in

    the video) and how to tie lines and hooks. Overtime your videos can get into more advanced areas

    of fly fishing.

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    Product demonstrations

    Product comparisons (but beware that ranking them or picking a winner can be a political night-


    How to videos showing installation or maintenance and upkeep of products (if applicable)

    SoCial Media:

    Your brand is unique, and social media should be a voice for your brand. Think of how Taco Bell

    uses Twitter as a voice for its brand. Once viewed as cheap, low quality food that gets thrown under

    the same umbrella as places like White Castle, Taco Johns, and Burger King. Taco Bell is undergo-

    ing a brand transformation, and is using Twitter to broadcast its new identity. Check out the Twitter

    page and observe the topics the company tweets about, how it interacts with followers, and the

    feelings it provokes. Use a voice and tone that is consistent with your brand today and creates the

    mood you want it to have for the future.

    Post photos of products and short demo videos on Instagram and Vine

    Use social media as a customer service channel, but be sure to keep the etiquette and responses

    consistent with your brand, and be prepared to put out fires. You may also want to keep this cus-

    tomer service channel separate from your companys primary tweets, and have a backup chat,

    email, or phone service for more complicated cases. Even good customer service can be brand-

    building, but make sure to keep it carefully managed.

    Give customers a percentage discount off their next order if they tweet or Instagram a picture of

    them wearing the clothes or using the widget they purchased.

    Retweet and repost quality, creative pictures of your customers wearing or using your product.

    Everyone likes the recognition; it plays a small part in building the company-customer relationship,

    and shows your products from a new perspective.

    Well now look at a few brands that have found the channel(s) with the perfect fitchannels that have fit

    the brands persona and have effectively earned visibility. Lets start by looking at a blender company

    that has produced dozens of viral videos. Along the way theyve been seen by millions of people and

    have gained thousands of fans and customers.

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    Blendtec sells an assortment of blenders and accessories. The marketing challenge is that blenders

    can be really boring. Its hard enough to market a blender, not to mention in a market where there are

    already hundreds of options and each one is nearly indistinguishable from the others.

    What they did to get their name out and showcase their product was create a video series called Will

    it Blend? and put it on YouTube. This wasnt your typical blender items. They created videos blending

    the iPad, iPhone, iPod, a baseball, and many more items. Making these videos showcases the blenders

    durability and its supposed quality as a blender.

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    Outdoor gear company REI has a Le