Having a solid online retail strategy for growing your online sales is essential if you want to make your e-commerce business a profitable endeavour. If you are an e-commerce merchant who wants to see your online store grow—and are prepared to invest time and money to achieve that goal—these 13 online marketing strategies will help you land more online sales.
1. Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
The first step to growing your online store is to help prospective customers find you. In order to do that, you need to make it easy for search engines to find you with search engine optimisation. Search engine optimisation (SEO) involves modifying your website for Google crawlers and placing strategic key phrases (“keywords”) in the content of each page to show search engines the relevance of the page.
The most effective keywords are those that answer the search queries your target audience is likely to make. This will include things like:
- Your brand name
- Your location
- Your products
- Customer “pain points” that your products or services solve
As part of search engine optimisation, you will also need to have your website tested and resolve technical issues like redirects, broken links and duplicate pages/content to help Google bots crawl your site, index each page and rank each indexed page in the search engine results pages (SERPs).
2. Content Marketing
When used in addition to SEO, content marketing strategies are very effective for improving your ranking and increasing the traffic to your e-commerce website. Beyond simply selling a product or service, content marketing adds value for customers in the form of blog articles and “how-to” guides with quizzes, infographics, photos, and videos.
How Blogs Help You Rank
Today, many online retailers invest in blogs to draw in potential customers as well as educate their existing customers. As there is a lot of competition for general terms like “men’s shirts,” publishing blog posts on relevant topics to attract and educate prospective customers is a great way to stand out in search results against large online retailers like Amazon and Alibaba.
3. Guest Posts
When you’re first launching your online store, publishing guest posts is an online retail strategy that can help increase brand familiarity while you work on your on-site SEO and content marketing. People who are already interested in your niche will read the post and some will click through to your site using the “backlink” (a link that leads back to your site) placed in the body of the text or in the author bio of the guest post.
Finding Blogs Where You Can Publish a Guest Post
To create backlinks to your website, look for well-known blogs in your niche (fashion, pets, parenting, gardening, etc.) and pitch a blog or blog idea that meets the blog’s guest writing guidelines. If accepted, you may need to pay for the post or the blogger may publish your post for free. Either way, it’s important to make sure that all of the links are placed naturally within the text and that the content adds value to the reader’s life.
4. Pay Attention to Your Product Pages
Once you’ve got customers entering your site, give them a reason to stay! Product pages should be beautifully laid-out with professional product photographs, product descriptions, and large, eye-catching “add to cart” or “buy now” buttons. Adding a unique, keyword-optimized text description on each product page can help them rank better, too.
Optimise Your Product Pages for Mobile
Seeing that mobile commerce accounted for 25% of online sales in Europe in 2015, it’s especially important to optimise category and product pages for mobile commerce with large “buy now” buttons and easy-to-find exit crosses on any pop-ups you use on your site. Most of the major shopping carts like Shopify and WooCommerce offer simple optimisation for mobile.
5. Simplify Your Checkout
Shopping cart abandonment costs e-commerce merchants around €17 billion per year, so fixing issues that improve customers’ online shopping experience is an important way to increase your sales. At a minimum, your checkout should be:
- Secured with a secure socket layer (SSL) certificate
- PCI-DSS compliant
- Compatible with major debit and credit cards
Reduce Shopping Cart Abandonment
To reduce shopping cart abandonment, you will also need to address the most common issues that lead customers to abandon their carts:
- Design a simple checkout process with a minimum of clicks
- Give shoppers the option to check out as guest
- Include taxes and shipping in the advertised prices
- Offer free shipping and expedited shipping
- Offer alternative payment options like e-wallets and buy-now-pay-later (BNPL)
Use Payment Solutions to Increase Your Sales
For small, sole-trader retail businesses, it’s often sufficient to use a hosted payment solution with an aggregate merchant account like PayPal, Square, Stripe, or Opayo. However, for growing, mid-, and large-sized businesses, an API-hosted global payment gateway with a merchant services provider offers a superior experience for online shopping, increases brand familiarity, offers more advanced fraud protection options and comes with merchant services to help you grow.
6. Email Marketing
Research from DMA in 2019 shows that the average return on investment (ROI) for email marketing is around €42 for every €1 spent. Email marketing is even more effective as an online retail strategy if you can divide your email list into segments and send out more personalised email campaigns.
What Marketing Emails Should Include
In addition to special offers and discounts, email marketing should include educational articles, announcements, and customer surveys to find out from your existing customers what you’re doing well (and what you could do better).
Building an Email Marketing List
To build an email marketing list, add a widget on your home page, product pages, category pages and blog where customers can sign up for regular updates, information and special offers. You can also offer a free gift like an e-book or discount code to encourage potential customers to sign up.
7. Social Media
Social media posts on platforms like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, TikTok and Instagram increase brand awareness, build community, and direct your target audience to your website. Consider that there are over 2.9 billion Facebook users (as of January 2022) that you could reach with targeted campaigns.
How to Create Posts
To sell online using social media, it’s good to create videos, take photos and post at least once a day about topics that your target audience finds interesting. Not all posts should be promotional, but it’s okay to pepper in ads along with user-focused content. Each social media ad should include a call-to-action (CTA) with a click-button to “go to the website”, “buy now”, “sign up”, “read more” or “redeem my free gift.”
Customise Your Posts
When using several social media channels, keep in mind that the content posted to each channel will need to be optimised for that particular audience. For example:
- Use Stories on Instagram
- Use square images and videos on Facebook
- Use short posts with images on Twitter
Video Marketing Strategies
If you want to explore video marketing strategies, the length of the video should also be appropriate for the platform where you intend to post it. Videos for social media should be 30 seconds or less, and for YouTube, up to five minutes. While it may seem surprising, videos uploaded directly to Facebook get shared 10 times more than videos that are linked from YouTube, so make sure to use only native videos when posting to Facebook.
8. Influencer Marketing
Influencer marketing is an e-commerce marketing strategy that has been growing in recent years with 38% of shoppers now relying on influencer reviews. Brands reach out to influencers on Instagram, TikTok, Twitter and other social media platforms and provide them with merchandise to try out and promote to their followers.
Building a Relationship with Influencers
To build a successful partnership with influencers, it’s important to reach out to influencers from the country where you want to sell who have a similar niche and style to you. For example, a European outdoor apparel brand might reach out to an influencer who posts about adventure travel in Europe. A handbag brand would likewise do best forming partnerships with influences in fashion.
9. User-Generated Content
User-generated content is another online retail strategy that can help you increase brand awareness, find more customers, and make more sales. To encourage user-generated content, many online retailers run competitions and challenges with #[their brand name] and reward customers who participate by featuring the best photos and posts on their website. You can also email customers asking them to leave a review.
The Importance of Customer Reviews
A survey from Bazaar voice shows that online shoppers are much more likely to trust reviews written by regular social media users rather than influencers, as they perceive user-generated content to be more neutral. However, it’s still important to monitor what customers are saying about you online, respond where appropriate, and resolve any issues or complaints.
Collaborations with related brands and other online stores are a great way to reach a broader audience while sharing advertising costs. To find new customers using collaborations, look for another brand in your niche (not a direct competitor) and offer a special package that includes products from both of your brands.
How to Choose a Partner for Collaborations
When looking for collaborations, choose a business with excellent online customer service and an excellent reputation that offers products that complement yours. For example, a clothing store could pair up with a brand that sells shoes for a spring marketing campaign, and a flower business could collaborate with a chocolate shop for Mother’s Day.
11. Paid Advertising Strategies
Paid advertising is one of the best ways to increase traffic and drive sales—if you do it right. There are several kinds of advertising you can use for an online store, including:
- Google pay-per-click (PPC) ads
- Google Shopping ads
- Facebook ads
Google ads are used to put your website in the spotlight with a prime position on the SERP. The advantage of using Google ads is that you will be able to use the Google AdWords tool to find high-volume, low-competition keywords and track traffic sources to your site.
Google Shopping Ads
Google Shopping is different from Google ads because the people who come to your website through Google Shopping are the people who are looking for the exact products you sell. Many internet users know what they want but don’t know where to find it. If you pay for a listing on Google Shopping, customers have a higher chance of finding you first.
Facebook ads allow online retailers to advertise directly to their target market in terms of geography, interests, age and gender. For example, if you sell pet accessories in France, you can target your digital marketing on Facebook to French people who have an interest in cats and dogs.
Choosing the Most Effective Facebook Ads
Generally speaking, the most effective social media ads will be your highest-performing posts. So as you create high-quality posts, pay attention to the posts with the most comments and views and boost these posts as paid ads.
12. Cross-Sells and Upsells
Cross-sells and upsells involve offering a customer a related product (cross-sell) or a more expensive version of the same product (upsell) either before or after the purchasing process is complete. For example, if a customer is purchasing athletic gear, you could offer them a gym bag from the same brand (cross-sell) or the pro version of the same clothes (upsell). Around 35% of Amazon’s revenue comes from cross-sells and upsells, so it’s definitely worth considering this online retail strategy for your online store!
How to Implement Cross-Sells and Upsells
Cross-sells and upsells can easily be implemented using an artificial intelligence plugin like Smart Offers that personalises the customer experience based on the products they viewed and purchased on their first visit. Advanced personalisation can generate a 20-fold return on investment, so it’s well worth considering for growing your e-commerce business.
13. Customer Service
Finally, no matter which marketing tactics you use, your online customer service and the quality of your product are what will have customers coming back. When a potential customer messages, emails or calls, respond quickly, be cheerful and help them find the product they need. Then, make sure that the product is delivered on time.
Refund and Return Policies
If you offer refunds and returns, display your refund policy clearly on the site and return the customer’s money on time. Even if you lose this sale, your prompt action and willingness to resolve problems will help to retain the customer and they might even recommend you to their friends. Furthermore, following through on delivery and refunds will help you prevent credit card chargebacks and friendly fraud.
Where to Begin…
With so many online retail strategies available, the e-commerce strategies that you ultimately use will be those that:
- Fit your budget
- Have measurable results in terms of your key performance indicators (KPIs)
- Are the most effective for your target market and niche
If one marketing strategy isn’t working for your e-commerce store, try something else. Your goal is to achieve the lowest marketing expenditure and lowest customer acquisition costs for the highest customer lifetime value. Get that right, and all of your marketing efforts will be worth their weight in gold.