Nobody likes abandoned carts, but few retailers understand just how much these cart abandonments are costing them. This astronomical figure doesn’t even factor in the wasted marketing budget you’ve used to acquire these would-be customers. If they don’t follow through during the checkout process and you don’t take action to recover their interest, they may as well have never clicked through to your site in the first place.
To exploit the opportunities that the e-commerce channel offers despite these risks requires a well thought-through strategy. This must anticipate the risks and be able to use the market development profitably to ensure a sustainable competitive advantage through a considered approach.
Our Solution – Your Added Value
Against this background, the decision to develop your own e-commerce strategy or adjust and optimise an already existing one to the changing market conditions is necessary. Through years of experience in the development of e-commerce strategies in the B2C and B2B area, FOSTEC & Company can offer you support and solutions for achieving your full market potential. The following chapters give you information about our solution approaches.
E-commerce can basically be divided into four pillars of Online Market-places, Third Party e-Retailers, Direct Sale + Affiliate and Procurement Platforms. Whilst the first three pillars form a fixed component of a B2C e-commerce strategy, the B2B e-commerce strategy is enhanced by Procurement Platforms. Each of these columns has individual properties having different strategic importance to a manufacturer, supplier etc., depending on various factors (e.g. product, target group, realisation competence, etc).
The FOSTEC e-commerce strategy approach of considering all four pillars allows identification of blind spots and potentials, derivation and prioritisation of strategic fields of action and the determination of a concrete implementation plan up to the construction of an independent e-commerce organisation.
Sustained success can be achieved if the strategic core elements are worked out systematically, as our long experience shows that the approach has a decisive effect on the success and the relationship with, for example Amazon. These first six steps of the online market-place strategy feed into a business plan– which becomes more detailed over the course of the project. This comprehensively considers all important costs and benefits of distribution across selected online market places. Figure 4 illustrates the process with and without strategy which is typical from our experience:
Third Party eRetailer or Online Pure Player means suppliers who (generally) carry out their transactions exclusively online. Frequently, these suppliers have a very clear focus on certain product categories. Accordingly, listing on Third Party e-Retailers promises producers and other suppliers access to a highly relevant target group. However, in Germany alone there are, according to various estimates, about 616,000 online shops, since the market entry barriers for opening an online shop are low. If, though, the distribution of generated sales is taken into consideration, there is a strong market concentration on a small number of large players by contrast to the fragmented picture of the number of online shops. As can be seen in Figure1, around 0.1 % of the online shops generate a total of 86% of total online sales.
- In the first step, a selection and evaluation of potential Third-Party e-Retailers is made using specific criteria.
- Then the definition of a price strategy with a performance orientated conditions model which will harmonise with existing channels can be tackled. The initial evaluation of potential Third-Party eRetailers is also enriched by price monitoring. This checks to what extent the suppliers are following a low-price strategy and are thus contributing to the price erosion which can cause lasting damage to a brand. The result is that only eRetailers who are contributing to sustainable brand formation, and not distributing according to the criteria of brand producers, are selected on a short list.
- There then follows a determination of the potential of Third Party eRetailer channel based on the previous short list selection.
- Along with the topline data, it is also necessary–as input for the Business Case too– to define the set-up of an experienced Key Account Management (KAM) team with digital expertise and to specify the construction of the cooperative online marketing.
- The KAM team later monitors the cooperative online marketing campaigns, i.e. coordinated or synchronised marketing activities across all suppliers to strengthen the digital visibility of a brand.
Our experience has shown that especially the systematic selection of Third Party eRetailers and their subsequent control have an effect on how successfully and sustainably this e-commerce channel actually develops.
Procurement platforms bundle the procurement activities of a business in an electronic system giving access at one central point to the goods and services from suppliers. Offers for goods and services in demand can thereby be submitted automatically. Purchasers then come with their requirement to a broad market of the most selected suppliers to meet their own requirements efficiently and cost effectively. The core elements of a B2B Procurement Platform Strategy largely resemble those of the Third Party eRetailer in respect of the implementation of onboarding:
Along with these basic types there are also other variants, in which, for example, a connection to stationary trade (like through on-line searches of offline traders) is established. Apart from that, there are various technological demands that have to be clarified depending on the aim of the e-commerce activity (content management systems vs. shop systems). Overall, in the B2C environment, it is primarily brand manufacturers in branches with a higher level of online maturity (e.g. travel or consumer electronics) that show a tendency towards the first variant, i.e. online direct sales via the manufacturer’s own e-shop. Regardless of the actual configuration, the aim is to offer potential end consumers the possibility of reaching a sales decision seamlessly– whether that is direct from the manufacturer or a recommended partner. Seamless integration like this and a strategic but also systematic affiliate selection must be defined precisely in the context of a dedicated Direct Sales and Affiliates strategy. Figure 8 shows the typical elements of such a Direct Sales & Affiliates strategy: Strategie:
The Foundation of Your eCommerce Marketing Strategy
eCommerce Marketing Buyer Personas
Without a clear understanding of your ideal buyer you’ll never be able to market effectively. You’ll be wasting money, time, and precious resources wondering why your seemingly perfect marketing isn’t hitting home.
Buyer personas are semi-fictitious representations of your ideal buyer. Much like your strategy document, you’ll want to draft your personas and ensure that your entire team has a detailed understanding of them.
In order to create your buyer personas you’ll want to include information about:
Be sure to read through it and work to create your buyer personas before you move any further into the creation of your ecommerce marketing strategy. When you have your personas drafted, you can start setting your goals.
When documenting your buyer’s journey, you can start with a general journey that caters to your ideal buyer. That said, it’s best to map out the buying journey for all your primary personas and define what triggers exist at each stage of the journey.
Setting Your Marketing Goals
Another fundamental component of your ecommerce marketing strategy is defining what you want to accomplish. Your strategy is essentially your roadmap to accomplishing your goals, so you won’t be able to complete it without marketing goals in place.
You must describe in FULL DETAIL what 100% completion looks like, so there is no ambiguity about when the activity is finished. Clearly describe what the completed goal looks like. Describe what is “in scope” and what is “not in scope” so there is no ambiguity about when this project can be considered 100% finished. Set yourself up to succeed. “Stuff happens.” Set realistic goals that take into account that “stuff will happen,” yet you still expect to achieve the “Green” level of performance most of the time. Don’t underestimate the difficulties and challenges your team will face.
The “Red” level of performance is where the KPI drops below a specific point, and becomes an unacceptable level of performance that needs to be discussed. You will probably want to assign a specific task to address this unacceptable level of performance.
What Will Your Marketing Help You to Achieve?
1. Are Your Goals Specific Enough?
We want to increase the amount of relevant traffic to our website; “relevant” brings males 25-35 who are interested in Canon cameras.
You could then make your goal even more specific by adding a numerical qualifier to your goal.
2. Can You Take Action to Achieve Your Goal?
3. Is Your Goal Relevant to Your Success?
You don’t have to wait until the third question to determine if your goals are relevant. You may want to get this question out of the way right off the bat. After all, why spend time refining a goal that is irrelevant to the success of your ecommerce marketing strategy?
In order to make the most of your marketing and drive the highest returns, you’ll want to put your marketing resources behind increasing relevant female traffic. Why work hard to convert men when your female traffic converts much more easily?
4. Can You Measure Your Success?
If you run a print ad in a magazine, how can you guarantee that that publication’s claimed readership actually saw your ad? If you run an exposure campaign on Facebook, do you know how to track your actual exposure?
5. When Will You Achieve Your Goal?
The final criteria you’ll need to define is the amount of time it will take to accomplish your goal. For example, if you want to increase relevant traffic to your website by 20%, when do you hope to accomplish this?
Set an achievable timeline for your goal, as you’ll be using it to scale your marketing activities. For example, if you hope to achieve a 20% increase of 2,000 additional visitors per month, you’ll need to spend a certain amount to run enough ads to drive that traffic—OR – you’ll need to produce enough content to drive that traffic by said date.
SMART Goal Example
Putting all 5 of the criteria together allows you to set highly effective goals that will take you much further toward growing your brand. When you’re finished, a SMART goal will look something like this:
There is little room for misinterpretation. They are clear enough for every member of your team to understand and will allow them to determine what actions need to be taken when implementing your various marketing tactics found later on in this guide.
Defining Your KPIs
As such, it’s vital that your site be optimized to drive conversions. With all of the competition in ecom there is little room for websites that don’t give their users exactly what they’re looking for when they’re looking for it.
Intuitive User Paths/Flows
An effective ecommerce website needs to be highly intuitive. That means that no matter what page your shoppers end up on, they intuitively understand how to get where they want to go and how to accomplish their goal.
You need to make it extremely easy to follow their interests through your website while shopping. It also means being queued at just the right times in the right places to encourage them to take YOUR desired actions.
If you want your shoppers to do something, use clear visual cues to help steer them in the right direction. These can be subtle recommendations for your most profitable items, CTAs to download your new style guide, and anything in between.
Remember, conversions don’t always have to come from a sale. Converting a site visitor into a lead allows you to continue nurturing them toward a sale where they may have left your site and never returned.
Fewer Steps to Checkout
One of the best ways to optimize your site to drive sales is to reduce the steps necessary to complete checkout. We’ll touch on more ways to accomplish this throughout this guide, but work to keep your checkout process as short and simple to complete as possible.
Integrating User Reviews and Generated Content
Collecting User-Generated Content
You can also use tools like BuzzSumo to search for social mentions of your brand on various social platforms. Many times your customers will post about their new purchase or about your brand as a whole.
One way to drive more sales is to offer new shoppers a discount on their first item, or a discount on their whole order. You can test making that offer even more effective by stipulating that the shopper must check out in the next 15 minutes for it to be valid.
You can also use pop-ups to offer a valuable piece of content to shoppers as they are about to leave your site. Exit-intent pop-ups give you a chance to make one last impression in an attempt to capture their contact information.
With an email address, you’ll be able to stay in touch and slowly nurture your new lead toward a conversion with a personalized (but automated) email campaign. More on that in upcoming sections of this guide.
Another area where many ecommerce brands are lacking is in their product descriptions and images. Without the ability to put the product in your shoppers hands, ecommerce retailers are forced to rely on images and detailed descriptions to make up for that lack of sensory information.
Providing a single product image may be effective, but multiple angles tell a more complete story. All of your images should be of the highest quality and paint your product in the best (but realistic) light possible.
They also need to be backed up by clear descriptions of what shoppers can expect to receive. However, rather than writing tons of copy that no one wants to read, work to relay as much information as you can in as few words as possible.
An easy way to help personalize your shopper’s experience is to provide a social login feature. This way, they won’t have to take the time to create an account and login with their email every time they want to shop.
Instead, they can log in with a single click and get right to shopping. This is also a great way to reduce the steps of your checkout process. While we don’t recommend requiring your customers to create an account to check out, it’s good to give them the option to make future shopping easier.
PPC can be used in a variety of ways from banner displays, video content on YouTube, or search-based advertising. Search-based campaigns will display your advert when the target keywords are used by the user searching within a search engine.
How to start developing an ecommerce marketing strategy
There are a few key factors I advise you bear in mind when developing your own ecommerce marketing strategy centered on your online store. These factors are especially pertinent when assigning budgets and looking at what you want to achieve from your ecommerce website in the short, medium, and long term.
My first, and most important, piece of advice is to never lose sight of the full customer conversion journey. What I mean by this is not getting drawn into the trap of chasing ROI, conversions, or new customer acquisition metrics from every marketing channel or tool.
Due to the last click attribution model that most ad campaign platforms utilize, we quickly forget that the original curiosity or intent to purchase may have been created way before the actual click on the ad, or other marketing asset, which drove your sale.
So, in short, if you only chase sales, you won’t get the same longer-term success from tactics that build interest, aspiration, and affinity towards your brand from potential customer audiences, alongside the typically more targeted sales generation campaigns.
My second piece of advice is to try and visualize your conversion funnel. This is so all of your team can quickly and easily understand the desired outcome from using a particular marketing channel or tactic.
Lastly, in line with the above, use a common naming structure for the different types of campaign you choose to run. This will make your life as the owner or lead on the strategy a whole lot easier when discussing them with internal teams or external partners.
10 eCommerce Strategies: Increase Reach & Drive Sales
Establish SMART Goals
When establishing goals for your company or organization, be sure they’re SMART – Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely. Following this framework helps to ensure that you set reasonable goals based on your circumstances and time.
Create Buyer Personas
Buyer personas are great for segmenting your audience and customizing campaigns to cater to different customers’ needs. Base your buyer personas off of your existing customers and their intentions with your brand.
Buyer personas take demographics into consideration; however, they go beyond just demographics and buyer profiles. Effective buyer personas involve individual behaviors, like how the customer uses the product, what they intend to do with it and what problem it solves for them.
Create A Content Strategy Framework
In addition to setting SMART goals and creating buyer personas, we encourage eCommerce brands to create a content strategy framework. Before creating and publishing content, conduct some keyword research to identify search volumes and competition. Then, determine topics that are relevant to your brand and optimize your SEO to rank in search results for those keywords.
Whether you sell B2B or B2C, ensure your brand voice remains consistent throughout all of your content − even if more than one person on your team posts on social media. All of your blogs and eBooks should be written with the same tone of voice to maintain a consistent brand image.
Last, make sure the file formats throughout your site are best fit for your users. For example, a large .zip file is inappropriate for mobile shoppers and will contribute to slower page load times. Rather, use smaller file formats, like .png or .jpg, to increase load time and improve the user experience.
E stablish A Social M e dia Branding Strat e gy
Increase reach and engage more users at every stage of the buyer’s journey with a strong social media presence. Remember how we said to keep your brand voice and tone the same throughout all of your content? That holds true with social media, too; however, social media is a great outlet to converse with your audience on a more personal level.
Be sure to engage with comments (both positive and negative), answer all direct messages and make your audience feel like they’re part of a larger community. A successful social media branding strategy prioritizes users, shows authenticity and remains engaged in a human-like way.
Take Advantage of Marketing Tools
To survive in the modern eCommerce landscape, many businesses benefit from leveraging marketing tools. There are so many tools available, so how do you know which is best for your business needs? We recommend doing some research before investing in a tool.
Want to improve your SEO strategy and drive more organic traffic to your website? Take advantage of any of these 18 SEO tools. Want to improve your social media strategy to engage more users and drive conversions? Check out the 4 social media marketing tools our team trusts.
Have An Optimized Email Marketing Strategy
Did you know that email marketing remains one of the highest-converting channels for eCommerce businesses? Email marketing is one of the most integral eCommerce strategies because it holds incredible potential for increasing conversions and return on investment.
It is projected that by 2021, the number of emails sent and received each day will reach 320 billion. Since building and scheduling emails can take a lot of effort, we recommend using automation to save yourself time.
Whether you want to automate sales emails or run special promotions for an upcoming holiday sale, use an email automation platform (like HubSpot) to create an automated workflow. Workflows let you send emails to active lists so that when people meet a specific criteria, they’re enrolled to receive the automated emails you’ve created.
Use Paid Media To Increase Reach
We encourage eCommerce businesses to complement their SEO efforts with a strategic paid media approach to increase revenue. There is a ton of opportunity for online advertising, and we particularly find success with Google and Facebook ads.
There are a variety of ad formats available on different platforms, so we recommend doing some research to see which ad formats and social platforms best align with your company’s goals. To help you determine the best advertising outlet for your business, take a look at this eCommerce Advertising Guide that covers Google, Gmail, Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat advertising.
Use Paid Search And SEO
Paid search and SEO are some of the best eCommerce strategies for increasing reach and driving relevant traffic to your site. Utilize paid search to target highly-specific segments of your audience. Take advantage of Google Text, Shopping and Display Ads so that your brand shows up in relevant search results.