Ecommerce businesses were already seeing excellent growth before COVID-19. But the pandemic accelerated consumer adoption of online shopping, taking it to booming levels that were not expected for a few more years. People who were previously averse to ecommerce suddenly started buying in droves. And many, if not most, of these people are expected to continue buying online long after the pandemic is over.
But these customers aren’t going to simply land on your lap. If you’re not getting your brand in front of prospects, they are going to go to someone else. This tremendous opportunity has spawned multiple competitors. And in order to stand out from the crowd and truly maximize your growth, you need to get ahead of the ecommerce digital marketing game. You don’t just need a “pretty good” ecommerce marketing strategy; you need the best ecommerce marketing strategies you can find.
Fortunately, that’s where this blog post comes in. That’s where we’re here to help.
In this blog post, we’re going to examine 10 of the most successful online marketing strategies for ecommerce websites that we’ve seen work like a charm and drive explosive growth. These ecommerce marketing tactics are:
- Proven. We’re not just talking hypotheticals here. The ecommerce marketing strategies we’ll cover in this post have been derived from our agency’s most successful ecommerce digital marketing campaigns. We know these work, period.
- Actionable. These are designed to work for your business with a minimum of prior setup. Some require more planning than others, but for the most part, you could put these into practice today, if you really wanted.
- Flexible. No two businesses are the same or have the same needs — especially given the wealth of options for ecommerce marketing platforms out there. Nearly all of the strategies here will be platform-agnostic: Whether you’re using Google AdWords, marketing on Facebook, focusing on SEO and content marketing, or something else, you’ll be able to put these to use.
- Complementary. Why use one top ecommerce marketing strategy when you could use two or three? You can use as many of these best ecommerce marketing strategies as makes sense for your business.
Well, that’s enough introduction, don’t you think? You’re not here for the intro, you’re here for your next ecommerce marketing plan. So let’s dive into it.
Ecommerce Marketing Strategy #1: Elevate Your Ecommerce SEO
When you’re looking to shop online, how do you find new products to buy? If you’re like most people, you probably start by heading to your choice of search engine (Google, Bing, etc.), entering your query, and seeing what pops up. That’s how people shop online these days, and that’s what makes it so critical to have proper search engine optimization, or SEO.
To be blunt, the benefit of ecommerce SEO is this: You want search engines like Google to display your products before they display your competitors’ products. How often do you scroll all the way down the search results page? Or go to the second page, or the third? Probably not too often, right? Just being on the first page can be a huge boost to your traffic — as can your rank even on that first page.
There are many things you can do to optimize SEO for an ecommerce website. You can make sure images have proper alt-text, or that your page titles use common search terms. But having the best ecommerce SEO isn’t easy. If it was, everyone would do it. Truly effective ecommerce SEO requires going over your site from top to bottom with a fine-tooth, SEO-enabled comb.
Step 1: Ecommerce SEO Audit
The best ecommerce SEO strategy starts with an honest assessment of where you currently stand in the search results. Much like stepping on the scale before you begin a diet, you need to understand where you currently are to decide where you want to go.
An ecommerce SEO audit examines how your site ranks for the search terms most relevant to your business. It identifies your “domain authority,” which is how sites like Google assess your trustworthiness and expertise. It assesses your site architecture and if search engines might find your site clunky or hard to navigate.
The best audits will also include a competitor analysis and assess where they rank for these same keywords to best position your business for success.
There are great tools for performing an ecommerce SEO audit, like Moz and SEMRush Site Audit.
Step 2: Overhaul Technical SEO
It’s one thing to make sure that product pages are using the correct phrases, but technical SEO for ecommerce websites tends to be much less commonly understood. Common technical SEO issues include:
- Slow load times. Is your website performing poorly, which might cause some visitors to bounce away before they even fully load?
- Broken links. Did you forget to change existing links when you renamed previous URLs? If search engines keep hitting dead ends, they’ll penalize your search ranking.
- Duplicate content. Whether it’s duplicated tags, meta descriptions, or on-page content, search engines don’t like to see it!
- Security issues. Does your site have HTTPS pages that link to HTTP ones? That’s a no-no.
Fixing technical issues like these (and many others) will improve your site’s SEO health dramatically. Technical SEO for ecommerce is often overlooked, but is no less critical than any others.
Step 3: Ecommerce Keyword Research
Your ecommerce SEO audit assessed how you were doing in all the keywords you were currently targeting… but what about the ones you aren’t? Targeting new keywords and search terms is a great way to grow your audience with zero ad spend. In order to know what new phrases you should be targeting, you need to do comprehensive ecommerce keyword research.
Thankfully, there are sites like SEMrush and AHREFs that make this process very intuitive. Try to think like a customer: How would someone searching for your products start their search on Google or Bing? What questions would they ask? Think like a consumer, and your ecommerce keyword research will be even more effective.
Step 4: Streamline On-Page SEO
When we say “on-page SEO for ecommerce,” we mean exactly what it says on the tin: How does a search engine assess each individual page on your site? Is the product clear? Do the algorithms understand what it’s about, so that they can deliver it to your target audience?
The best on-page SEO for ecommerce involves optimizing things like the following:
- Meta descriptions. Your meta descriptions should always include primary keywords (even secondary keywords, if you can fit them) while being around 150 characters. Don’t reuse descriptions from page to page.
- Images. Images should never be too large (this reduces page load times, which negatively impacts technical SEO); try to keep them under 1-2 MB. File names and alt-text should always include keywords you’re trying to target. Which do you think search engines will prefer, a file named img43_070820.jpg, or an image named mothers-day-chocolate-collection2020.jpg?
- Page copy. Is the content on your page original? Does it contain all the keywords that you’re targeting — while still being intelligible and making sense, not just being “keyword stuffed”? Make sure that your content is substantial; pages that are too short tend to get dinged by search engines.
On-page SEO for ecommerce sites is critically important, and this is likely where the bulk of your time and effort will be spent.
Step 5: Build Off-Page SEO
At first glance, this might not make any sense. How can off-page SEO for ecommerce even be a thing? You can only control SEO on your own website, right?
That’s true, but don’t forget that the World Wide Web is still a web. When other sites link to you, this indicates to search engines like Google that your site is trustworthy and authoritative, and your SEO will improve as a result.
Off-page SEO for ecommerce sites tends to involve various link building strategies. You can create blog posts and hope others find them insightful (more on this later), create premium content like ebooks, infographics and more. You can ask your distributors, suppliers, or other partners to link back to you. Is a blogger linking to one of your competitors? Why not offer a link to one of your own pages instead?
When your ecommerce SEO strategy strengthens the strands of the world wide web that link to your site, you’ll be rewarded by better search positioning.
Ecommerce Marketing Strategy #2: Don’t Neglect Ecommerce Content Marketing
So you know that SEO is important. But where will you put all the text that builds strong SEO? Bare-bones pages with short product descriptions won’t rank anywhere on search engines, so the answer, of course, is content.
Content-driven ecommerce is the key way to ensure that you’re ranking high on search engines and getting in front of eyeballs that can offer you the traffic you need. But what, exactly, does this mean? “Content” can feel like an incredibly vague term, after all. People say “content is king,” but for an ecommerce company looking to grow, this can feel like a meaningless buzz phrase. Here’s how you can develop and execute an excellent content strategy for ecommerce.
Product Page Content
When most people think about “content,” they think about blogs. Blogs are key (and we’ll talk about them in a second), but they’re not the only type of ecommerce content. You should think about every word on your site as part of your content strategy for ecommerce.
How are your products described on their product pages? Is the content interesting and evocative? Content includes every page on your site, and you shouldn’t neglect any of them.
This is what most people think about when they mean “content.” Anyone these days can start a blog, which is what makes it particularly appealing: You don’t need to have fancy design chops or high-end video equipment, you just need to have something to say.
It can be tempting to have your ecommerce content marketing blogs be wholly about promoting your product and showing off why your company is so great. This is a mistake! As a general rule of thumb, your blogs should almost never be a “hard sell” for your product. Why? Because unless you’re a big brand-name, most people aren’t searching for your product.
Your content strategy for ecommerce should ask:
- Who is my audience? Who do you want to be visiting your site? Is this your standard target demographic, or a secondary one? For example, if you’re a chocolatier, your primary target demographic might be women ages 25+, so much of your content would be targeted towards them — except around holidays like Valentine’s Day or Mother’s Day, when you would target their romantic partners or children, instead.
- What problems are they having? Think about it: Most people turn to a search engine when they have a problem they need solving. This could be a problem of information (e.g., “where is a bike repair shop near me,”) a problem of items (e.g., “stroller for new infant” or “running shoes for weak ankles”), or something else. Put yourself in the shoes of your target audience and imagine the problems they might have that you and your products can solve.
- What advice can you give to solve these problems? In your work, you’ve gathered expertise and knowledge; how can you share that knowledge with people seeking your site? This should always be closely related to your product and line of work. For example, if you sell lawn care products, you could write a blog post about the best times to water your lawn or ways to care for trees in hot summer. This positions you as an expert and leads people to trust what you have to say.
With rare exceptions, these blog posts should strive to be informative, not sales pitches. Someone who never buys from you at all should still come away from the blog having gained some value from it. This makes you seem honest, knowledgeable, and trustworthy, rather than someone just trying to make a sale. If someone finds your advice useful, they’re more likely to share it, which is a free way to get some traffic!
This isn’t to say that you should never mention your products. Links to products placed in strategic areas of your content and calls-to-action at the end of a blog are a great way to lead readers into learning more about how you can address their problems. But they should never be the meat of a piece.
Ebooks and Guides
A step up from a blog is an ebook or a visual guide. These tend to be longer than a blog and are frequently downloadable documents. These are visually appealing and tend to have more complex layouts than blogs, but can be used as high-quality tentpole pieces that you can center your content strategy for ecommerce around. You can put out paid ads that point to these ebooks, and you can use them to lead capture new contact information so that you can remarket to people down the line.
It can be daunting to try to do video ecommerce content. You may not want to appear on camera or invest in video equipment like a high-end camera, microphone, or lighting. This is understandable! However, video content tends to rank very highly in search engines, so ecommerce product videos are often a very good idea.
The videos don’t always have to be professionally shot, either! It’s a good idea to hire videographers if you’re trying to do product videos, but you can get by on a small budget by doing vlogs or showing your product in action.
Content Distribution and Promotion
Think about how content marketing drives sales: Not only do you get traffic coming to your site who can buy your product, but you also establish yourself as an expert and a thought leader. But none of this will work if nobody sees your content! This is especially true when you’re just starting out on your content journey and may not be ranking too highly.
Some great ways to promote your content is through social media, outreach to reputable sites — consider link trading, i.e., offering to link to a piece of theirs if they do the same to yours — all of this will help get your content in front of readers and strengthen your SEO.
Ecommerce Marketing Strategy #3: Use Smart Email Marketing
SEO and content marketing can get people to your website, but they won’t necessarily buy. In fact, most of them won’t. 99% of first-time visitors to a site won’t make a purchase. This means you’ll need to continue points of contact to nurture non-buyers into customers — and customers into brand loyalists. One of the best ways to do this is ecommerce email marketing.
If you’re like most ecommerce brands, you probably do some email marketing already, with things like seasonal promotions and monthly newsletters being very common. But a proper ecommerce email marketing strategy includes these emails and many more. Here are the steps you should take to be a successful email marketer.
Step 1: Collect an Email Opt-In
This might sound pretty obvious — how can you send emails to someone if you don’t have their email address? But it’s an important part of your ecommerce email marketing strategy nonetheless. Here are some very useful ways to do that.
- Offer premium downloadable content. Remember those ebooks and guides we just talked about? Encourage people to give you their email address so you can send a link to them.
- Offer discounts for first-time purchases. If you go to a site for the first time and see a popup letting you know that if you sign up for their newsletter in the next 15 minutes, you’ll get 20% off your first order, you’d probably consider it, wouldn’t you? This is a great way to convert first-time visitors into contacts.
- Use exit-intent popups on high-traffic content. If you have a blog post that’s doing well and very relevant to your customer base, consider a popup with a “learn more” form (or some other such variant) that appears when someone goes to leave the page. It’s important to not be obtrusive about this, or else you’ll risk souring people on your brand, but a tasteful popup tends to not be a bother for most browsers.
- Encourage people to give you their emails during the checkout process. Whether you’re keeping them abreast of future products or letting them know about great promotions, you’ll want to keep these people in the loop. Remember: If they’ve bought from you once, you’ll have a much easier time convincing them to buy from you again.
Step 2: Set Up Ecommerce Marketing Automation
Many of your emails, especially seasonal offers, will be hand-crafted, but that takes time, and limits the amount of contact points you can have with your audience. Instead, make use of ecommerce marketing automation tools like HubSpot and Mailchimp to set up versatile nurturing campaigns that will trigger automatically in certain situations. This means you’ll only have to do up-front work to set up the automated campaigns, and everything afterwards will be handled by your software.
Some very common examples of automated email marketing include:
- Abandoned cart emails. Pound-for-pound, there may not be a more effective type of automated email than an abandoned cart message. This is reaching out to people who have already put items in their shopping cart, but haven’t pulled the final trigger — whether because they were waiting for payday, thought better of it, or simply forgot and closed the window. A smart abandoned cart email strategy will have tremendous ROI.
- Welcome emails. When you collect someone’s email through a popup on a first or second visit, why not send them a welcome email sequence? Introduce yourself and your company, explain what you’re about, send some cute pictures of office pets. An excellent welcome email sequence will forge an emotional bond between you and a lead, making them more likely to open future emails.
- Per-topic campaigns. These are automated campaigns specifically tailored to premium downloadable content like ebooks. Depending on the topic at hand, you can share related posts or offer ways in which your product fits their interests. For example, if you sell hiking equipment and your ebook was “The Best Hiking Spots in Washington State,” you could link blog posts on advice for high-altitude hiking, offer discounts on hiking gear, or even recommend trusted groups and guides for visitors.
Step 3: Keep Sending Promotional & Holiday Email Blasts
Just because you’ve got ecommerce marketing automation doing work for you doesn’t mean you should stop doing non-automated, hand-crafted emails! These are the cornerstone of any ecommerce email marketing strategy, and are a great way to let your customers know about promotions, new products, and more.
There are two critical pieces of advice for promotional emails like this: One, don’t overdo it, and two, keep your offers relevant. Sending email too often — or sending about topics that your audience won’t find much value in — is a good way to get people to unsubscribe from your mailing list.
A great way to ensure relevancy is to segment your audience based on things like geographical location, age, or interest. You don’t need a thousand different segments, and many of your emails (like those announcing flash sales) can indeed be sent to everyone on your list. But segmented emails can feel more personalized, and therefore can be more effective.
Ecommerce Marketing Strategy #4: Invest in Ecommerce PPC Advertising
The benefit of optimal SEO marketing is that it doesn’t cost a cent (other than your time). On the downside, however, it can take time to work, and, in the meantime, you’ve just spent a good deal of effort on something that won’t see returns for weeks if not months. Thankfully, one great way to bridge the gap is through pay-per-click (PPC) advertising.
An ecommerce PPC strategy is a great way to get your products in front of user eyeballs pronto. By buying ad space through networks like Google and Bing, you can ensure that people searching for relevant terms will see your products and can be directed to your site or to a custom landing page.
To have an effective ecommerce PPC strategy, you should make sure you’re considering:
PPC Campaign Structure
An unclear, messy structure is one of the biggest mistakes we see inexperienced PPC users making. Make sure that your campaigns are set up in a way where you can easily track performance and get visibility into things like Return on Ad Spend (ROAS). You wouldn’t build a house on a poor foundation, and you shouldn’t build an ecommerce PPC campaign with poor structure.
This is very similar to the keyword research you’d do for on-page SEO or content. Think about the keywords you’re targeting: What will people be searching for? What are the problems they’re trying to solve that will lead them to you?
Through proper use of single keyword ad groups (SKAGs), you can target keywords that are high-traffic as well as ones that are more niche. You can also include negative keywords (i.e., keywords that you don’t want to show up for), which can be very helpful, since this can help you avoid related searches that are unlikely to lead to clicks or conversions.
Search Ad Copy
Which of these PPC ad headlines do you think would generate more traffic: “Shop Hiking Boots,” or “Hiking Boots for Unforgettable Experiences”? Probably the second, right? Your ad copy should be evocative but informative; your space is limited, so make the use of the small character count as best as you can. An expert copywriter can help distinguish your products from your competitors, who may also be targeting these same keywords.
Ecommerce retargeting is the PPC version of the abandoned cart email: In terms of sheer ROAS, it’s some of the most effective money you can throw at your marketing. A retargeting campaign shows ads to people who have already seen your ads, visited your site, or even put items in a shopping cart before clicking away.
One of the hardest things to do in ecommerce PPC is reach out to a “cold audience” that’s never heard of your brand or your products before, but retargeting is targeting a warm audience that’s more familiar with you and primed to have their interest captured.
An excellent tactic that should be part of any ecommerce retargeting strategy is to use dynamic retargeting in a shopping feed. Services like Google Shopping show products that people can buy almost instantly, and devoting some of your PPC resources to getting your products into this feed will have a huge return on your investment.
Sometimes, you wind up swinging and missing. Other times, your ecommerce PPC ads are getting traffic, just not as much as you’d like. You should never “fire and forget” when it comes to your ads, because that just means you could be wasting money! Instead, monitor your ads for performance. If some ads aren’t doing as well as you’d hoped, A/B test to try different keywords, copy, or creatives to see if you can get better ROAS.
One thing to note: While Google ads for ecommerce are far and away the most common type of ecommerce PPC ads, just having an ecommerce Google ads strategy isn’t enough. Consider other search engines too, like Bing.
Bing has around 20% of the traffic of Google, but that’s still millions and millions of users! Because of the lower traffic, Bing paid search ads will usually be cheaper, and your ROAS will be higher than that of Google. Also, many of your Google ads for ecommerce can be exported to Bing with little to no editing, meaning you can broaden your reach with much less work.
It’s not enough to just have an ecommerce Google ads strategy alone; ecommerce Bing ads should be part of your plan, too.
Ecommerce Marketing Strategy #5: Sell Products With Shopping Campaigns
All the tips we’ve outlined previously have four parts in order to convert.
- Step 1: A user searches for a term.
- Step 2: The user finds your brand, whether due to organic SEO or paid advertising.
- Step 3: The user visits your site.
- Step 4: The user converts.
However, not all people who search for a term — or who visit your site from search engines — are actively looking to purchase right then and there. Many may be just researching products and sellers with intent to buy later. These are still great prospects to drive to your site; as previously mentioned, you can retarget them to increase the chance of conversion. However, what if you could reach out to people with very high purchase intent at the moment of search?
That’s where Google and Bing Shopping campaigns come in. When a user searches for a product on Google or Bing, in addition to the normal search results, they will see more detailed product listings including images, pricing and shipping info, and these ads will take them directly to product pages when clicked.
Because shopping ads appeal most strongly to people with immediate purchase intent, they tend to convert at higher rates, and as such have better ROI than other PPC ads. This potential for greater ROI means that it’s important to approach your Google and Bing shopping campaigns smartly.
When thinking about Bing or Google Shopping ads best practices, you should be sure to consider the following.
Best Campaign Structure
It’s important to structure your Google Shopping campaigns in a way that optimizes ROI as well as clarity. Without clear insights, you can waste quite a bit of time and money chasing placements that aren’t converting to sales.
The best Google Shopping campaign structure is one that is tiered, letting you keep bids low for generic keywords while spending more on more relevant ones. You can put low-cost bids on Hail Mary-style keywords that are more unlikely to convert, while devoting the bulk of your spending to the most effective search terms.
Product Feed Optimization
You can have the best Google Shopping campaign structure in the world, but if your individual product listing ads don’t catch eyeballs, you’re not going to sell anything! Your titles and descriptions should be evocative (and keyword-rich), your product imagery should be enticing, and your products should be carefully selected so that you’re selling your best.
One of the most important Google Shopping best practices is proper usage of negative keywords — search terms that you don’t want to show up for. This can include things like your brand name (if someone’s searching for you directly, that demonstrates high purchase intent; you don’t need to toss money after it) or products and services you don’t sell. If you sell hiking equipment, for instance, but not camping equipment, you might want to include things like “tents” as negative keywords.
The best bid strategy for Google Shopping is a granular one, i.e., one that doesn’t treat all keywords the same way. Making this mistake means you’ll be spending too much money on expensive, low-return keywords and not nearly enough on the keywords that can generate real profit for you.
Use things like Single Product Ad Groups (SPAGs) to maintain a precise and controlled bidding structure, and use dynamic retargeting for shopping campaigns (which we mentioned earlier) to target “warm” audiences that are far more likely to convert.
Like other PPC ads, Google Shopping ads should never be set and forgotten (unless you like wasting money). You should be sure to continually monitor your Google Shopping campaigns to make sure you’re getting the return you want, to notice underperforming products and try and make them more effective.
As with “normal” PPC ads, everything we’ve said for Google Shopping best practices also applies to other search engine shopping services like Bing. Your Google Shopping campaigns can easily be exported to Bing, and while it does have lower traffic, bids tend to be much cheaper and may actually have a better ROI because of it.
Ecommerce Marketing Strategy #6: Leverage Social Media Marketing
If you’re like most brands these days, you’re probably acutely aware of the importance of social media for ecommerce. Building a social media following, engaging your followers, and interacting with them is fantastic at boosting brand engagement and loyalty, but it has one big limitation: For the most part, your reach will be limited to people who are already aware of you.
Social media ads on channels like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter can help expand your reach to people who aren’t already familiar with your brand. This is a great way to grow your audience and get new potential customers.
Design a Social Media Sales Funnel
The sales funnel is as critical to ecommerce social media marketing as it is to any other type of marketing. “Cold” audiences that aren’t familiar with your brand aren’t very likely to convert at first touch, so you should design a funnel that nurtures them through the journey over several steps.
- Top of the Funnel: Awareness. At this stage, you’re trying to drive awareness of your brand. This is your first contact with a cold audience; show the unique selling point of what you have to offer. Interesting imagery can go a long way into getting people to stop scrolling.
- Middle of the Funnel: Interest. At this stage, you’re reaching out to people who are already aware of your brand and getting them to realize how your product can solve their problems. Videos that show your products in action and demonstrate how you can address pain points are great for this.
- Bottom of the Funnel: Conversion. People at this stage of the ecommerce social media sales funnel are excellent to target with product ads, because they’re more likely to buy on the spot, having already had the case made that these items are exactly what they need.
Identify a Receptive Audience (and People Like Them)
One of the great aspects of ecommerce social media marketing is the granular level with which social media services like Facebook let you target your ads. Having a developed customer persona is extremely helpful here: If most of your customers are single women under the age of 40 with a love for jogging, for instance, you can run ads targeting them.
An equally helpful feature is the ability for you to find “lookalike audiences” when placing ads for things like Facebook ecommerce. This will show your ad to people like your target demographic who you aren’t already marketing to, which is a great way to grow your reach with very little ad spend.
Create Beautiful, Compelling Ads
Most social media posts aren’t very long. If your social media ads look like excerpts from “War and Peace,” your ecommerce social media strategy might need some rethinking. Leverage the limited space available to you to get to the heart of your product’s unique selling point and true value, and pair well-written copy with high-quality images. Your creatives don’t have to be still images, either: Gifs or even short videos are excellent ways to show your product in action.
Send Visitors to High-Quality Landing Pages
Most of the time, your Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram ads for ecommerce will all highlight specific products. Imagine if an interested social media user clicks on the ad, only to be sent to your home page, and then has to browse further to find the product they were interested in. In all likelihood, they’ll probably just click away!
Instead of risking bounces by sending users to pages that aren’t what they expected, a great strategy for ecommerce social media marketing is to direct users to custom-built landing pages that focus on specific products and are tailor-made to drive conversions. Craft landing pages that are beautiful and effective, tightly designed to show off your products and nurture shoppers into customers, and you’ll see higher conversion rates from the get-go.
Retarget Audiences Who Already Know You
Retargeting is just as effective as part of an Instagram or Facebook ecommerce strategy as it is any other type of PPC marketing! This pairs nicely with the sales funnel we outlined earlier: When you reach out to people who have seen your ads, or better yet engaged with your posts or even visited your site, you stand a much better chance of making the sale.
Targeting warm audiences will always get you the highest return on ad spend, and so this retargeting should be part of any Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook ecommerce strategy.
Ecommerce Marketing Strategy #7: Amazon Advertising Is Your New Best Friend
At the beginning of this piece, we mentioned that nearly all these tips would be platform-agnostic; this is the one major exception. Amazon is the 800 lb gorilla in the room, and if you’re trying to sell your products, you can’t just ignore it.
For many, the thought of trying to compete against Amazon can be a miserable one: How on earth are you supposed to take on a company with that reach and market share? The good news is that you don’t have to. Instead, through a clever Amazon advertising strategy, you’ll make Amazon’s popularity work for you.
Amazon Campaign Structure
Most of us probably don’t think of it this way, but when you look at modern consumer behavior, it becomes very clear: Amazon is a search engine in its own right. Shoppers go to Amazon not just to buy items right away, but to start their search for products. This means that you can tackle your Amazon advertising campaigns much like you would shopping campaigns on Google or Bing.
This applies to your campaign structure as well. An Amazon campaign structure can be very similar to that of a campaign structure you’d use on other search engines. Think about how you would design your other campaigns, and follow suit on Amazon.
For example, if we take our hiking gear store from before, you could have separate ad campaigns for things like “Hiking apparel,” “Camping gear,” and “Hiking accessories.” You then further subdivide these campaigns into groups. For the first, you might have groups for jackets or hiking boots; for the second, you might have groups for tents, sleeping bags, and portable stoves; for the third, you might have wearable water packs or hiking poles, and so on.
An elegant Amazon campaign structure will help you serve accurate ads to target customers, getting you more clicks.
Amazon Keyword Research
While there are no solutions dedicated to Amazon keyword research just yet, the good news is that you can more or less use your standard keyword research tools just the same: If people are searching for things on Google, they’re probably searching for similar things on Amazon. The one major difference is that searches on Google or Bing are relatively much more likely questions, whereas Amazon keywords tend to be product-focused.
Amazon offers three main types of ads to its users: Sponsored product ads, headline display ads (also called “sponsored brand ads”), and sponsored display ads (formerly called “product display ads”). The first two explicitly use keywords, while the third does not.
- Sponsored product ads: These are the typical ads most of us think of when they think of Amazon PPC strategy. They’re ads for individual products that appear within the results when you search, and they are served based on keywords. These are the bread-and-butter of your Amazon PPC campaign.
- Headline search ads: These appear in the banner above the product listings when a user searches, and let you sell three items at once. Unlike sponsored product ads, which take a user directly to a product listing, these direct a user to a landing page of your choice. These are more expensive, but let you highlight more of your brand.
- Sponsored display ads: These ads are the “sponsored” images that display on product pages themselves, rather than on search results. You can even target to have sponsored display ads appear on your competitors’ products! However, while these are very useful, you don’t really need much Amazon keyword research to benefit from them.
It’s worth noting that keyword research won’t just help you for your paid ads; if you list products on Amazon, this will help with organic SEO as well.
Amazon Campaign Bidding Strategy
When it comes to Amazon PPC bid strategy, you can use much the same plans as you do for PPC campaigns on other search engines: Figure out your ideal cost per conversion (sometimes called CPA, or “Cost per Action”), and from there, determine how much you can afford to spend per click with the conversion rates you’re seeing.
Amazon does offer the ability to set “automatic” PPC campaigns, which will try various keywords and see which ones work best according to Amazon’s algorithm. The downside is that you can’t control spend per individual keyword, so this can be pricey. One great strategy is to start an automatic PPC campaign, let it run for a while (several weeks at the minimum), see which keywords converted most effectively, and then add them to your manual campaign. As part of a good Amazon campaign bidding strategy, this will help keep your costs low.
Amazon PPC Campaign Optimization
As with other search engines, you should never just “set and forget” your PPC campaigns! Pay close attention to ad spend, to cost-per-click, and if you’re just not seeing conversions from the ads like you’d want to. This could indicate that you’re targeting the wrong keywords, that your product imagery or descriptions need to change, or some other problem.
One note: We mentioned sponsored display ads earlier. These tend to have lower conversion rates than other ads, because you won’t see them unless you go onto a product page, but that means they have much lower costs, as well. These are great ways to drive a little more traffic from your Amazon advertising by targeting competitors and differentiating your products.
Ecommerce Marketing Strategy #8: Landing Pages Convert Better
A common pitfall we see in many ecommerce PPC marketing campaigns is sending traffic — any traffic, no matter the source — straight to product pages or your ecommerce site main page. This isn’t always a mistake, mind you, and directing shoppers to product pages is an easy, relatively low-effort solution. However, if you really want to drive conversions, studies show that product pages may not be the best bet: Product pages have higher bounce rates and lower rates of conversion.
Think about it. On your product pages, you probably have tons of distractions: Nav bars, related products, and more. These can all get in the way of a shopper looking to buy. They might click away, get distracted by a related product (and wind up buying neither), or just be turned off by unfriendly UX.
If you want to truly drive conversions, you need smartly designed, engaging ecommerce landing pages.
What do we mean when we say “ecommerce landing page,” exactly? It means a custom-designed page designed to not only showcase an individual product (or limited series of products), but to also guide the visitor on a journey. A landing page should intrigue a visitor, tell them why your products are valuable, and lead them to learn more — and, finally, to convert.
Let’s look at some ecommerce landing page best practices.
Ecommerce Landing Page Best Practice #1: Align Messaging Across Your Campaign
Let’s revisit our hypothetical hiking gear ecommerce store. Imagine they’re selling a new hiking boot designed for ultimate comfort in any weather, and the PPC ads stress this. The ad copy calls them “the most comfortable hiking boots around,” the headlines match, and the messaging is on point. However, when a shopper clicks the link, they get directed to a landing page that emphasizes these boots’ durability and ruggedness.
That shopper might be confused. Is this the right page? They weren’t searching for durability, they were searching for comfort. Puzzled, they might just click away and leave.
A shopper should always be able to tell that they’re at the right place within seconds of arriving at your landing page. The messaging should be clear, the product imagery should match any pictures used in the ads, and the verbiage should be similar. Make sure that you’re highlighting the same things from ad to landing page and beyond.
Ecommerce Landing Page Best Practice #2: Delight Users with Clean, Eye-Catching Design
A landing page gives your designers the chance to flex their artistic muscles and put together something that’s not only clean, but enjoyable to look at. The design should be uncluttered and uncomplicated, showcasing your product in the best light possible. (Literally. This is a great opportunity for some high-quality product shots.)
Ecommerce landing page design should guide your visitor’s eye down to the parts of the page that showcase your product in its full glory. One note: The visitor should never be confused about what to do next, and to that end, we strongly recommend never using more than one CTA on the page. You can have the same CTA (e.g., “shop now”) multiple times on the page, but there should never be any ambiguity over the course of action you’d like them to take.
Critically, consider that many people these days are browsing the internet on mobile devices. Your landing page should look just as good on a smartphone as it does on a laptop screen.
Ecommerce Landing Page Best Practice #3: Engage With Interesting, Succinct Copy
On a typical product page, you’ll probably have full product descriptions, and that’s just fine. It makes sense, even: People want to know as much as possible about something before they buy it, whether it’s dimensions, features, or anything else. However, you should leave lengthy product description on the product page: Landing pages should highlight the main selling points and value propositions.
In other words, the copy should answer the question: How will this help you? How will this make your life easier or more enjoyable? How will this address your pain points? Think about the product in a real-world scenario, drive connections to the reasons customers might be searching for what you have to sell, and create emotional connections.
In other words, for your ultra-comfy hiking boots, don’t talk about the weight or the material. Talk about how it can help your feet ache less after a day on the mountain.
Ecommerce Landing Page Best Practice #4: A/B Test, then A/B Test Again
Which of your ecommerce landing pages has more appealing product photos? Which features are you highlighting in the copy? What language are you using in the CTAs? It’s normal to not have a “perfect” landing page on the first try — or ever!
The good news is that you can always test what’s working and what isn’t. Create landing pages with different elements, see which performs better, then use that page as the new base to test other things. Always refine your landing pages as long as the campaign is active.
When you leverage smart copy with compelling ecommerce landing page design, you’re going to be converting at higher rates than you’d ever thought possible.
Ecommerce Marketing Strategy #9: Social Proof Builds Consumer Trust
Humans are an intensely social species. That was true when we were evolved apes, it was true when we were hunter-gatherers living in caves, and it’s true now. We take our cues from other people, and that includes whether or not we’re inclined to trust something.
As a marketer, humans’ social nature is important to leverage: If you can show off how other people like and enjoy your product, other people will be more likely to feel the same. For ecommerce, “social proof” is indispensable.
When we talk about ecommerce social proof, we mean anything that indicates that other people — real people, not just ad copy — have found value in your product. This encourages shoppers, and convinces them to find you more trustworthy. There are many different types of social proof that you can use.
- Reviews: Ecommerce customer reviews are perhaps the single most impactful type of social proof there is. Product reviews go below your listings on Google or Bing ads, and people can see average review scores. A poorly reviewed product will have a heck of a time getting any traction. For this reason, if your product is getting rave reviews, you will want to highlight this as much as possible.
- Professional Reviews: While not as inherently impactful as third-party customer reviews, ecommerce product reviews by knowledgeable professionals are great to highlight. This demonstrates that your product not only appeals to the consumer base as a whole, but also appeals to experts. If you think you’ve got a winning product, try to get as many professional ecommerce product reviews as you can.
- Influencer Endorsements: Closely related to the above, if you can get people with influence to show that they’re using your product for themselves, this will build significant trust among all the influencer’s fans. This is similar to a professional review, but has more of a personal touch: “I think this is excellent, based on my expert opinion” and “I use this for myself in my own personal life” are distinct messages. Ideally, you have both.
- Social Media: How are people using your product and posting about it on social media? If you sell office chairs, do you have people taking pictures of your chair in their own personal workspace? If you sell underwater cameras, do you have photos of beautiful coral reefs taken with your products? The public can show off your product in a way you never can with a professional photoshoot, and you should figure out how to use social media as ecommerce social proof.
- Testimonials: Ecommerce testimonials are basically customer reviews, but even more so. These are longer reviews that typically describe how your product helped solve a specific problem for a specific user, and you can use these testimonials in your ad or product copy to demonstrate your value.
For instance, let’s take our hypothetical hiking gear store again and its new ultra-comfortable hiking boots. You could certainly run with landing page copy about how “These boots mean your feet will never ache the same way again,” sure — or you could tell a story from a real customer about how she loved hiking, but her feet were in terrible pain every time she took her boots off, until she started wearing your new boots.
Which of the two would be more compelling, do you think? The testimonial, of course! This reads less like marketing copy and more like proof that your products actually help real people. In turn, this makes a shopper think that your products could help them.
Social proof is an incredibly valuable tool for marketing new products. Whether it’s including reviews on product pages, testimonials and awards on landing pages, or leveraging posts on social media, you’ll want to be sure that you’re showing off how much other people like your products.
Ecommerce Marketing Strategy #10: Optimize Your Site to Boost Your Conversion Rate
Finally, it all comes down to this: The complete user experience should be designed to A), be smooth and enjoyable for a visitor, B), be responsive and not drive visitors away through long load times, and C) encourage people to convert — or to take steps that you can use to nurture them to convert.
Ecommerce Conversion Rate Optimization with a Streamlined, User-Friendly Site
If a visitor clicks to your site and finds that it loads slowly, that heavy scripts make it sluggish to scroll through, or that some images don’t load at all, do you think they’ll have a positive view of you and your brand? No, they’ll probably click away and never look back.
Negative UX will make users more likely to leave, and will make the users who stay less likely to convert — if only because they can’t find the things they’re looking for! Your website should have:
- A modern design. Minimize clutter, showcase your products, and don’t get caught looking like yesterday’s news.
- Smooth navigation. Nested nav bars can make it confusing for users to find their way around your site. Make sure that your navigation is intuitive and unobtrusive. (Nav bars that hide themselves when you move your mouse to the wrong pixel are the bane of our existence).
- A responsive, mobile friendly layout. Your site needs to look good on any screen, whether it’s a 1440p monitor, a small netbook laptop, a tablet, or a smartphone. Consider that people could be shopping on any device, and adjust performance accordingly.
- An intuitive checkout process. Minimize the number of clicks (or data fields to fill out), and you’ll minimize places where you risk turning away shoppers.
- A clear return policy. The downfall of shopping online is that you can’t try a product before you buy, and you need to accommodate this. Make it very clear what your return policy is, and have it visible during the checkout process. Shoppers will appreciate this.
- Content on shipping and site security. In the age of “porch pirates,” people want to know that you’ll be shipping their items securely and on time. Also, how secure is your site? If they give you their credit card information, will it come back to bite them? Make it clear to anyone who wants to look for this sort of thing that you care about all aspects of your customers’ security.
- Fast loading times. A single second of delay can cost you 7% of revenue annually. Clearly, this should be avoided at all costs! Use tools like Google PageSpeed to identify problems in your design. Are your images too big or high-resolution? Do you not have a proper content delivery network (CDN)? Are excess scripts bogging your pages down? Make sure that your page loads on time, or else you could be leaving hundreds of thousands of dollars on the table.
Use All of the Above for an Excellent Ecommerce Conversion Rate
Here’s the truth: Sure, you could use any one of the 10 strategies we’ve outlined and see a boost in your ecommerce conversion rates, but you’ll see a much bigger boost when you use multiple ones — or all of them — together.
Think about the user experience of a hypothetical shopper, and how each of the above strategies can be used to turn a browser into a buyer.
Conversion Opportunity #1: A Search Engine Query
This user has a problem, something they want to solve. They turn to their search engine of choice and type their query. Through this, they either discover your site through search engines, thanks to your SEO work, or your PPC ads.
Some might find your products through Google Shopping product ads, and will click through and buy right then and there. That’s a conversion!
Conversion Opportunity #2: The First Site Visit
Depending on how they find your site, they may go to your front page or a custom landing page. If the latter, it’s expertly designed to nurture them to shop right away, and you might have a conversion!
If the former, they find their way to your home page. Here, you offer a discount or a special offer (like premium content or a shopping discount) through a pop-up. Many of them will close out of the pop-up without a second thought, but others will be intrigued, and will either convert or give you their email address.
Conversion Opportunity #3: Email Nurturing
Perhaps the visitor left your site after browsing, but still gave you their email. From here, you can send them a welcome email series encouraging them to revisit your site, showing them your value propositions, and convincing them to buy from you.
Alternatively, they may have started shopping, added items to their cart, and then left. An abandoned cart email sequence can remind them that they have items in their cart, and convince them to go back to pull the trigger.
Conversion Opportunity #4: Remarketing
If the emails haven’t worked, you can add these visitors to remarketing lists and target them with ads on Facebook, Google, AdRoll, or another similar network of your choice. These ads have very high potential to convert, since they target solely “warm” audiences, and are an excellent way to see higher ecommerce conversion rates.
When you use these ecommerce marketing strategies, you’ll be well positioned to succeed in a competitive marketplace. Do you want tips from the experts? Contact SevenAtoms today for a free consultation.