With millions of websites available today, eCommerce marketing is a requirement for reaching customers and growing your business. However, even if you have a solid grasp of the principles of eCommerce websites and their functionality, it's easy to become overwhelmed by the eCommerce marketing process. What are your options? What's the most effective marketing strategy for your niche? And most importantly, how do you market your website successfully and within your budget?
eCommerce marketing can be divided into 2 categories: inbound marketing and outbound marketing, each of which takes a different approach to earning customers. The purpose of inbound marketing is to attract customers who are actively looking for the type of product you provide, or trying to solve a problem your products work to solve. In contrast, outbound marketing involves reaching out to potential customers via more traditional methods such as advertising.
A complete eCommerce marketing strategy involves both inbound and outbound marketing. However, you should always focus on inbound marketing first. The main reason is that inbound marketing is much more cost-effective, costing 62% less per lead than outbound marketing. The second reason is that many of your inbound marketing tactics, like SEO and content marketing, have the side effect of producing a better website that will serve as a stronger foundation for all your future marketing efforts.
Shift4Shop comes with a full suite of eCommerce marketing tools to help you build and implement a solid strategy for reaching new and existing customers online. Let's go over the different areas of eCommerce marketing and how Shift4Shop can help you perform well in each channel you choose to pursue.
Search Engine Optimization is a series of techniques for optimizing a website's structure and content to increase the site's rank on Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs). SEO is listed first because it's the most important method for gaining organic traffic to your website — meaning, visitors that arrive after finding your website on their own through a search on Google, Bing, or another search engine. SEO also has the biggest Return on Investment (ROI) out of any eCommerce marketing tactic.
SEO should be performed first before you begin to market your store in other ways, primarily because it takes time for your website's pages to be indexed and begin their increase in rank, and also because it's best taken care of early when your website is still under construction instead of later on when it may require changes to parts of your site that are already established. As search engine standards change, it may be necessary to make a few alterations later, but SEO is still worth "doing right the first time."
SEO is similar to eCommerce marketing as a whole, because it also has 2 categories reflecting the processes being used. Website optimizations are referred to as on-page SEO (since you are working "on the page"). The second type of SEO is off-page SEO and involves reaching out to bloggers, influencers, and other websites related to your niche in order to secure quality links back to your site. Off-page SEO is much more challenging, since you'll need to research and contact high-value websites to discuss links to your site, and is far better to tackle after you have completed your on-page SEO.
On-page SEO is much easier if your eCommerce platform provides you with tools that take the technical aspects out of the picture. Shift4Shop comes with a complete set of on-page SEO tools to help manage your site's optimization as easily as possible:
Responsive design is the preferred method of building a mobile-friendly website, with Google favoring responsive sites over others. Shift4Shop's Core themes are fully responsive and built with additional mobile features in mind, like Google AMP for product pages.
Google prefers faster websites that load more quickly, no matter what device is being used. The high performance of Shift4Shop Core themes help websites rank higher and faster.
Some eCommerce software creates random URLs for your products and other pages, often using the product number, and sometimes you can't customize them either. It's best for URLs to be human-readable and contain relevant keywords, so Shift4Shop generates them based on the page heading and also allows you to fully customize them as needed.
The meta title tag is the title of a page (not to be confused with a heading) that appears in the browser tab, users' bookmarks, and as the name of a page's listing on SERPs. It's a prime spot for relevant keywords. The meta description tag doesn't appear on your page, but is often used as your link's SERP description, and while Google doesn't currently rank meta descriptions for keywords, they can still increase your listing's appeal and make it more "clickable." Shift4Shop provides a simple interface for editing and optimizing both of these meta tags.
Schema.org markup allows you to create rich snippets for your SERP results, which include extra information like pricing, star rating, product images, and more depending on the type of page. Shift4Shop uses Schema.org markup to enable this feature for your site.
Sometimes you will have pages that shouldn't be indexed separately, like a product category that spans multiple pages. Letting this happen can actually damage your ranking. Canonical URLs are used to define the main page that all the related pages belong to, such as page 1 of a category. With Shift4Shop, you can quickly add a canonical URL to any page on your site.
Robots.txt is a file that instructs web crawlers on how to index your website, including which pages to leave out — like irrelevant pages including "View Cart" which is not useful in search results. Shift4Shop provides full access to customize robots.txt to keep your rankings focused.
This type of sitemap differs from an HTML sitemap which is intended to help humans navigate. Instead, an XML sitemap helps search engines understand your website's pages and how they relate to each other, which leads to faster indexing. Shift4Shop includes an XML sitemap generator so you can quickly create or update your XML sitemap, no matter the size of your website.
Sometimes you need to delete a page or change its URL. A 301 redirect ensures that any outdated URL can easily forward visitors to the page's new address or other replacement. Shift4Shop's easy 301 redirect setup simplifies the process of assigning redirects to any of your URLs. The tool can also detect 404 errors (when a page isn't found) and automatically forward visitors to another page on your site.
Content marketing is often listed along with SEO, and the two are closely related but different in their implementation. While technical SEO focuses on search engine algorithms, content marketing is centered on producing useful website content that can establish your business as an authority in your niche. This content is also vital for helping you rank on search engines, so despite its non-technical nature, it needs to follow SEO principles like keyword optimization.
The most obvious content marketing method is to maintain a blog on your website, regularly posting original and useful articles. These are a fantastic opportunity for relevant keywords, but should also always add value for readers. This improves your brand image and helps educate visitors about your products and the problems they solve.
Shift4Shop makes it simple to add a blog to your online store with our included blog module, which works similarly to popular blogging platforms like WordPress. Having your blog and online store together on the same website ensures quick navigation for customers and helps you get the full SEO benefit of your content.
Your website's other pages are also a crucial part of your content marketing. Product pages should always include keywords for SEO as well as complete information that helps customers make their purchase decisions. With Shift4Shop's powerful product page functionality, you have plenty of space to present all relevant information in an organized manner, along with pictures and video as well.
Lastly, landing pages and other informational pages play a part in content marketing as well. Shift4Shop's Extra Page creator allows you to quickly build all the website pages you need, so your site can have it all: "About Us," an FAQ, store policy pages, any landing pages you need for specific campaigns, and much more. Every page can include important keywords centered on marketing the different aspects of your brand.
Multichannel eCommerce is the process of selling your products on multiple marketplaces alongside your own website. Billions of potential customers are waiting for you on Amazon, eBay, and Google, so tapping into these markets can mean vast profits. Smart eCommerce businesses always invest in multichannel sales, and Shift4Shop makes it even easier via shopping feeds.
A shopping feed is a means to export your products to another sales channel and synchronize your orders and inventory between them. In addition to our Facebook Shop integration described above, Shift4Shop also integrates with other marketplaces like Amazon, eBay, and Google Shopping.
Any business looking to sell on Amazon should be aware of the high standards and restrictions Amazon places on its merchants. You need to respond quickly to customer inquiries and keep your customer satisfaction levels high, or risk losing your seller account. Selling on Amazon is much easier with Shift4Shop, as your orders will be synchronized to prevent inventory mistakes and save valuable time.
Whether or not you want to use its famous auction functionality, choosing to sell on eBay can mean massive growth in exposure and profits. Shift4Shop's complete eBay integration lets you create product listings right in your store and export them to eBay whenever you want. Configure your listings with minimum bids (if any), "Buy it Now" pricing, and more, and save yourself the work of creating a new listing every time you want to sell a product again. As a further time-saver, all your orders and inventory are synchronized in your Shift4Shop dashboard. Plus, Shift4Shop's eBay integration works the opposite way, too: already have tons of products on eBay and want to build your online store based on those listings? Import them from eBay into your Shift4Shop store and save hours of time!
Google Merchant Center is the main interface to sell on Google, and allows you to add product information that can be used in Google Ads and Google Shopping ads. Google Shopping ads are especially effective because they appear in search results of users searching for a related keyword, complete with their star rating, pricing, thumbnail image, and more. Shift4Shop's Google integration allows you to export your products to your Google Merchant Center account for Google Shopping ads as well as Google Display ads, which appear on other websites that have Google Ads installed.
Considering how often people complain about spam, you might wonder if it's worth it to send emails to your customers these days. Surprisingly, email marketing is still one of the most effective methods to market to your customers. The main distinction is that you're emailing people who have opted in to receive at least some type of email from your business. These include newsletters (which customers must sign up for) and post-purchase emails (which customers expect to receive).
Email newsletters are a great way to keep customers updated about upcoming promotions, new arrivals, or other news. They work best when they add value to the customer experience — rather than simply announcing a sale, create interesting email content that links to your blog or otherwise has more substance than a simple advertisement.
Shift4Shop has everything you need to create compelling, attractive newsletters and get them out to your subscribers. Include coupon codes or click-to-apply promotions created with our versatile system, share snippets of your blog articles, and more. If you prefer to use a third-party service like MailChimp or AWeber, Shift4Shop smoothly integrates with both to ensure your customer list is accessible to your email marketing software.
Some businesses need to segment their customer list, so that different types of customer receive a different version of the newsletter. Shift4Shop makes this simple with our Customer Groups feature, which allows you to automatically or manually categorize your customers based on any criteria you see fit. Each Customer Group can be assigned to receive a unique email campaign, if needed.
Post-purchase emails, as the name might suggest, are emails the customer receives after a purchase. These aren't referring to order updates or delivery notifications (although customers do love these), but rather a different set of emails to be sent out at a later date, whether as part of a specific advertising campaign or as a one-off update about a product. Here are some examples of post-purchase emails:
In short, the purpose of a post-purchase email is to let the customer know they matter to you and you're interested in their experience with your business. Customers love feeling appreciated, and will form a higher opinion of your brand if they feel you see them as people with needs your business is invested in fulfilling, rather than nameless numbers.
Shift4Shop's robust email tools include several options to help you set up post-purchase email campaigns any way you like. For example, our Custom Product Email app allows you to create tailored emails to be sent whenever a customer buys a specific product. This is a great chance for personalization and is an ideal solution for customers who buy items that require any type of supplementary information.
When a customer adds products to their cart but leaves your website without completing the purchase, they are said to have abandoned their cart. There are tons of reasons a customer might do this, but many of them can be brought back with a simple reminder email.
Shift4Shop provides multiple options for your business to recover abandoned carts. If you just want a quick and simple solution, our Abandoned Carts Notification is perfect for getting the job done with a single email. Or if you want a more advanced abandoned cart recovery tool, consider our Abandoned Cart Saver which allows you to create a whole campaign of emails to convince customers to return and complete their transaction.
Shift4Shop also includes numerous features for helping prevent cart abandonment in the first place, such as Guest Checkout, accurate Real-Time Shipping rates, strong security, and more.
Affiliate marketing involves making a deal with customers who are willing to promote your products, and paying them a commission for each product sold through one of the affiliate's leads. It's a huge opportunity for advertising with no initial investment, since you only pay on commission after a product is sold, rather than designating an advertising budget up front.
Offering an affiliate program also helps your business break into influencer marketing, which involves getting bloggers, popular Instagram users, websites, and other trusted content creators to promote your products. The influencer can earn commissions directly for promoting your brand, rather than needing to decide on any other terms.
Shift4Shop comes with a built-in Affiliate Program module that's ready to go. Easily configure your commission rates, track affiliate performance, and customize your affiliate program to your business's exact situation. Customers who love your brand will often jump at the chance to earn some extra cash by promoting you!
Your customers themselves can be an essential part of your marketing. Word-of-mouth advertising, which relies on customers choosing to spread the word about a business, has been long considered one of the most effective types of marketing. After all, customers are more likely to trust the word of someone they know rather than trusting an advertisement.
It can be a bit challenging to turn your customers into a grassroots marketing force, but social media makes it much easier. Many businesses have successfully engaged customers on social media to share their own content relating to the brand, and you can do the same. For example:
Remember the key goal is user participation, with the purpose of getting your customers and fans to create their own content about your business. This is one reason competitions are so effective, as the prize serves as a great incentive. Followers of the customers participating in your contests will see the content and learn about your brand, and may even join in themselves (possibly recruiting other friends to join with them!).
Besides social media, the user-generated content on your own eCommerce website is also extremely valuable. Product reviews are the most important form of user-generated content you can receive, as they also serve as social proof — a phenomenon that explains people's likelihood to choose a product or action that more people have already chosen. Shoppers are far more likely to buy a product if they can read reviews first.
Shift4Shop includes a built-in Product Review system that displays reviews right on the product page in an easy-to-navigate interface. Reviews include star ratings which are shown in a summary form at the top of the review section, providing an at-a-glance overview of the product's reception. Customers who want to browse more reviews can filter them as desired and load more without needing to leave the page. Reviews can also be given helpfulness ratings to ensure the most useful rise to the top.
To help protect you as the merchant, you have the full ability to restrict our outright delete product reviews as needed to prevent abuse of the system or ensure only verified buyers can leave a review. Overall, our Product Review module is a top-tier eCommerce tool that can provide your website with the same functionality as the big brands — which serves the additional purpose of helping establish your business as a leader.
Based in Ft. Lauderdale, FL, Code9 Studios provides all the eCommerce design services your company might need. Our agents have extensive experience with designing and developing websites on Shift4Shop’s software. We can handle everything, from SEO to navigation to content writing to theme customization to social media marketing.
Austin-based web development company, founded in 2005 with the intention of merging beautiful design with intuitive functionality for small to medium-sized businesses across all sectors. We began in the e-commerce sector, and from the experience and knowledge gained in those early years, we have expanded to building sites and digital identities for a variety of industries and purposes.
Burlington Bytes is a web design, development, and digital advertising agency located in Burlington, VT, USA. We have a team of 15 with skills spanning the digital marketing spectrum. We've custom designed and developed websites on the Shift4Shop platform which feature responsive design, custom cart and quoting functionality, and much more.
MadFish Solutions was built with one purpose in mind. We help your business grow. Specializing in responsive e-commerce designs and strategic marketing including SEO, social media, email marketing and conversion optimization built on over 20 years of experience. Working with MadFish is like getting a business consultant that focusses on web technology.