The way customers purchase products has changed. In 2021, people spent $768 billion buying online, and experts predict it will grow to $1.3 trillion by 2025. The pandemic accelerated the existing trend towards more online shopping. So, if you’re bringing a new product to market, you need to develop a set of successful e-commerce strategies.
One common mistake entrepreneurs make is they don’t give the same attention to their online store as they do to marketing, product design, manufacturing, and other aspects of bringing a new product to market. When you work with traditional retailers, they handle the buying experience. When you’re selling through an e-commerce store, you are the retailer, and you control the experience.
This article presents our top suggestions for developing e-commerce marketing strategies for effectively and efficiently selling your products. We’ll start with some basic information about e-commerce business, offer a comprehensive set of 15 e-commerce strategies, and cover a few tips to define, implement, and optimize your online business.
E-Commerce Business Basics
In some ways, selling to customers has not changed since the village market days. When you set up your stall to sell your wares, you had to deal with three things:
- Attracting customers to your stall
- Enticing them to want your wares
- Convincing them to buy your products
Those three phases of the buying process did not change when we went to retail stores and then online.
The village market may now be Amazon or a storefront built with Shopify. What has not changed is the importance of understanding your customers, watching market conditions, building relationships with shoppers, creating a great store, and always making things better.
As a foundation on which to build your e-commerce marketing strategies, let’s look at each of these basic needs for selling products to customers.
Understand Your Customers and the Market
Any selling strategy starts with the simple idea of understanding your customers and the market you’re selling into. If you followed proper product design steps, you have already done this part. You had to research your customer and market to define your product requirements, and if you employ research as a methodology, a way of driving your product towards customer needs, you will have the information you need to attract and convert customers.
Turn that information about what customers are looking for into features and capabilities in your new product. This is what you can emphasize in your product description, creating the foundation of a strong e-commerce strategy.
Once documented, you need to continuously update your understanding of the customers, the competitors, marketing trends, and technology changes.
Build a Relationship
E-commerce business is not impersonal. Just like the artisan selling their product in the village market or the store owner behind his counter, you need to build a relationship with your customers. People buy for many reasons beyond price and convenience, and being part of a community and having a great customer experience are two major drivers.
Read reviews from products in your space and visit physical locations where similar products are sold. Get a feel for what matters to your consumers and use the information to build a better relationship.
Find the Right Platform
There are two ways to sell your product online — through an existing marketplace or on your own online store. For the U.S., the modern equivalent of village markets is Amazon, eBay, Walmart.com, Target.com, Overstock, and dozens of market-specific outlets like Etsy, Wayfair, Poshmark, and Newegg.
Amazon is the dominant player, with over two billion visits per year. The advantage of a marketplace is that people go there to browse and look for products to buy, just like the village market or a shopping mall. They also provide most of the infrastructure you need.
If you want to have your own storefront, then you need to put up an e-commerce website. There are dozens of e-commerce platforms out there. You can build your own store on Shopify, WooCommerce Checkout, BigCommerce, and many other platforms.
Which one is right for you goes back to how many products you’re selling and how much effort you want to put into your storefront or market listing. Most importantly, it depends on how your target audience shops online and their expectations in terms of customer experience.
Commit to Continuous Improvement
If you are just now starting your e-commerce journey, you’re focused on setting things up. But that is just the start. Growing your online sales requires constant experimentation, optimization, and improvement. Make sure you know how to get to the data for whatever platform you’re using to sell. Information like visits, click-through rate, shopping cart abandonment, conversion rate, and search engine ranking will help you know what is working and what is not.
E-Commerce Sales Is About Leveraging Technology
As you read through the suggested e-commerce strategies in the next section, remember the basic principles of selling and use the technology available within your chosen e-commerce platform to carry those tenants out. Focus on the following fundamentals with the strategies listed:
- Listen to your customers: Customer reviews, customer surveys, following customers on social media
- Give them reasons to buy from you: Customer experience, professional look and feel
- Differentiate your product: Product description, content marketing
- Present from the customer’s perspective: Customer testimonials, product description
- Build a great reputation: Social media, influencers, digital marketing, customer reviews
- Create a relationship: Subscriptions, incentives, membership
We will cover these e-commerce marketing strategies that leverage selling in the next section, so keep this list in mind as you read through the suggestions.
3-4-1: A Comprehensive Set of E-Commerce Strategies
Now that we’ve laid down a strong foundation, it’s time to talk about specific activities you can implement to attract, engage, and convert your customers. These ideas apply to marketplaces like Amazon or your own online store built on Shopify, WooCommerce, or another checkout. For each step in the buying process, we’ll recommend five strategies. They cover all aspects of the buyer’s journey, including creating a better relationship with your customers.
Attract Customers to Visit Your E-Commerce Site
Getting people to show up at your virtual store, especially new customers, is the first step towards a sale. You do that with a series of strategies around getting attention and creating interest. Here are five e-commerce strategies focused on bringing people to your online store.
1. Use Content Marketing
Content marketing is a great way to attract customers because it’s about providing them with the information they care about. It is not advertising. Think case study and not flashy ads. It’s useful content that search engines like and that builds trust with your customers. Content can be videos, graphics, text, or audio. It can be part of your e-commerce site or on your website. Leverage social media and email campaigns to build your e-commerce brand and get your content out there. Just remember to create content that answers the questions and needs prospective customers have.
2. Leverage Effective Advertising
Various types of advertising are effective ways to drive people to your product listings. You can use digital marketing like PPC (pay-per-click) from different platforms, such as Google, YouTube, and Facebook. Social media marketing is another great way to build brand awareness with potential customers.
Just make sure you leverage social media platforms that your potential customers use. Or you can set up a traditional advertising campaign for print or television. Influencer marketing should be part of your marketing plan if it fits your market.
3. Launch Email Marketing Campaigns
What is the difference between an email marketing campaign and spam? People read your email marketing campaign, and they block spam. There is both art and science behind effective email use to attract customers to your online store. The key is to give your customer something they’re interested in. You can try:
- News about your company or product
- Information about the industry or community that is related to your product
- Notifications about discounts and special offers
- Lead nurturing
- User reviews and content
- Links to a landing page that reinforces the message in the email
Once you have an email list, use automation to simplify the process. Give potential customers a reason to open your email and then click on the link inside.
4. Get Them Back
When it comes to driving traffic to your e-commerce site, previous visitors, especially previous customers, are the easiest to attract. You already have a relationship with them and their contact information. Don’t be afraid to let them know about special offers and product news, usually through email or SMS. Ask them for their opinion or their help. Retargeting previous customers also helps spread the word about your product through their network.
5. Create Strong Brand Awareness
You have to start with a strong brand to reinforce your relationship with your customers and bring them to your e-commerce site. And this goes back to good product development. Your marketing, product, and customer interaction should all resonate with your brand.
Create Interest With Visitors in Your Products
Once people are in your virtual store, your job is to get them interested in your products. You don’t have a salesperson to entice them, so you have to do it with content quality and user experience. Here are five more proven e-commerce marketing strategies to create product interest.
1. Design Engaging Product Pages and Product Listings
Your product pages or product listings are the closest thing you have to a salesperson in a virtual store. The e-commerce platform you pick determines the look of your product description, but you control the content. Make it concise and to the point. Use bullet lists to summarize and try and answer the questions customers will have while convincing them that your product is what they’re looking for. Good product descriptions are critical to SEO (search engine optimization) ranking.
Also, make sure your product pages or listings work well on mobile devices. Most people do their online shopping on mobile devices.
2. Use Excellent Images
The first thing a customer sees about your product is the image. Don’t skimp on them. Pay a professional to make high-quality, high-resolution images that stand out and convey your brand, your product’s advantages, and just look good.
3. Incorporate Product Reviews and User Content
Customers want to know they’re making the right choice when they buy a product, and user reviews and user-provided content are a great way to meet this need. Not only does your e-commerce platform have to support user reviews and comments, but you also have to encourage and curate the information your customers put up.
4. Offer a Fantastic Product
The best way to create customer interest in your product is to design a fantastic product. This goes back to proper product design and understanding what the customer is looking for then giving it to them. No product sells itself, but a fantastic product makes it a lot easier to sell.
5. Present Your Product as a Personal Conversation With Insiders
When it comes to relationships building and creating interest in your product, how you talk to your e-commerce site visitors is critical. You want to treat them like they’re special, make them insiders who are part of a community. Don’t talk down to them or over their heads. Get to know your customers and speak with them.
Convert Interest Into Sales
Bringing people to your e-commerce site and garnering their interest in your products won’t matter if you can’t convert that interest into sales. Getting them to click the buy button is called conversion, and the conversion rate is a measure of how well you do it. The last five e-commerce strategies present the best ways for online retailers to get that conversion rate up, and keep it there.
1. Make the Checkout Process Effortless
Making a purchase decision can be emotional and challenging for a consumer. You don’t want to do anything that gives new customers a reason to change their minds. Confusing or cumbersome checkout is a sure-fire way to stop transactions before they happen. The best way to measure this is to keep track of abandoned carts. If you have a lot, something is wrong with your checkout process. Optimize the process to make it as intuitive and straightforward as you can, even if that means paying a bit more for payment processing or the design of the user experience.
2. Nix Unexpected Charges
Another way to stop a sale is to hit a customer with an unexpected charge at checkout. If your product detail page listed the price as $35.00, don’t tack on $25 in shipping and handling at checkout. If you have to charge for shipping, let them know what it will be as soon as possible in their buyer journey.
3. Offer Free or Discounted Shipping
For better or worse, Amazon has trained consumers to expect free shipping. You don’t have to offer it, but you should find a way to offer discounted shipping. A great tactic that encourages more purchases is offering free shipping for sales over a certain amount.
4. Create Urgency
Finding a way to create some sense of urgency in your customers is a tried and tested method of increasing your conversion rate. There are many ways to do this, but some of the most effective are to:
- Create some sort of deadline around discounts or add-ons like free shipping.
- Show how many items are left in stock, if it’s a low number.
- Include some kind of bonus if they buy now.
- Use text in your description that creates a feeling of urgency.
5. Provide a Membership Experience
The final e-commerce strategy suggestion for creating a solid customer relationship is to set up your e-commerce site with membership features. Allow customers to log in, see past orders, and share your product information with others through email or social media. Give them access to “member only” content and set up subscriptions to exclusive offers. If it fits your industry and product, offer loyalty premiums. And, if needed, present them with discounts that are only available to members.
Implement Your E-Commerce Strategies
The list above outlines some great suggestions for bringing customers to your site, getting their interest, and converting them into sales. Putting everything down in a written plan is the first step in implementing those strategies that make sense for your new product and your online store.
Start with your goals — what you are trying to achieve with your e-commerce business. Then map your ideal customer journey through your e-commerce site, followed by the features you’ll need to deliver that user experience. Use this information to choose your e-commerce platform, create your content, and launch your online store.
Once things are up and running, it’s important to optimize your online presence continually. Use experimentation and data to improve your functionality, product descriptions, and user experience. Watch that all-important conversion rate as your ultimate indicator of what is and what is not working.
And remember, strong product differentiation in your product design will give you a leg up and help with every aspect of attracting customers to your online store, engaging them with your product descriptions, and getting your product in their shopping cart and through the checkout process. Helping you on that complete new product journey is what Gembah does — starting with research and guiding you through product design, all the way to setting up your supply chain. Let us help you establish a strong foundation that will make implementing effective e-commerce strategies a breeze.