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:
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.
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.
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).
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!).