Blog Article

The Complete Guide to e-commerce marketing

September 17, 2021

Online shopping is here to stay. Make sure your e-commerce marketing campaigns will reach your most valuable customers.

For decades, we’ve expected the future of shopping to be online, whether customers were buying groceries, clothing, or books. It seems many businesses have finally arrived at that future — but so have all of their competitors. Marketers must work that much harder to stand out from similar brands, which is why it’s crucial to build a robust and personalized e-commerce marketing strategy.

In this article, we’ll present a complete guide to developing your e-commerce marketing plan, from inception to execution.

Jump to a section…

Craft An E-commerce Marketing Strategy

Identify your target audience

Seek out marketing channels for your audience

Set clear goals for success

Build An Engaging Ad Campaign

Set campaign goals

Build creative for the entire marketing funnel

A/B test creative

Fine-Tune Your Marketing Pipeline

Optimize the checkout experience

Invest in retargeting strategies

Optimize your ads and website for mobile

Bring A Personalized Touch To E-commerce Marketing

Create great creative

Consider user-generated marketing content

Prioritize customer service


Craft An E-commerce Marketing Strategy

Identify your target audience

The first step of any successful marketing strategy is to get specific about your market and define target audiences. Markets tend to be broad by nature, masking the immense diversity that exists within a given group. Generation Z, for example, includes pre-teens, university students, and a small number of 30-year old parents. You simply cannot produce a campaign that adequately encompasses all of Gen Z, but you can narrow your focus by building ad creative for each audience.

Whatever your market, there are several ways to understand what drives your most valuable audiences:

  • Where possible, organize existing sales data to segment customers by age, demographic, location, education, income level, and other identifiers.
  • Obtain market research by conducting surveys or analyzing industry trends and benchmarks.
  • Use accumulated findings to design fictionalized customer personas of your highest-value segments. Build your future campaigns around these individuals.

Seek out marketing channels for your audience

Once you know more about your audience, it becomes much easier to determine which channels to target. Remember that your budget is not unlimited —be selective and focus on marketing channels with the highest ROI. Some excellent examples to consider include:

  • Organic Search
  • Paid Search
  • Organic Social
  • Paid Social
  • In-App Advertising
  • Influencer Marketing
  • Email Marketing
  • YouTube and Streaming Video Ads

Don’t overlook new and emerging channels. If possible, dedicate some resources to investigating new opportunities that might generate surprising returns in your market.

Set clear goals for success

No marketer runs campaigns for their own sake, which means no marketing strategy can succeed without clear goals. Perhaps you wish to drive revenue, gain customers, or generate sign-ups for a newsletter — each objective will influence the key performance indicators you’ll measure through the campaign.

Marketers should also choose metrics that reflect their campaign goals. For most e-commerce apps, this usually includes the click-through rate, conversion rate, and cost per acquisition.

For more advice on developing your overarching strategy, read our in-depth guide, “How To Build An Effective E-commerce Marketing Strategy.

Back to top

Build An Engaging Ad Campaign

Set campaign goals

No, we’re not repeating ourselves exactly — you’ll need clear goals for both the overarching marketing strategy and individual campaigns. Consider your campaign goals as stepping stones that will help you reach your “big picture” objective. What do you want each campaign to achieve? What conversion events are you prioritizing? Answering these questions will ensure you’re behaving in line with the marketing strategy.

Build creative for the entire marketing funnel

A truly conversion-centric e-commerce campaign must guide customers from the first impression all the way to the checkout screen. For that reason, we should design campaigns that target each stage of the marketing funnel. These examples can help you focus your efforts:

  • Awareness: Emphasize top-of-funnel content, such as blog posts, social media posts, and mobile video ads.
  • Consideration: Deploy mid-funnel creative at the consideration stage, including product page links, promotional emails, and limited-time deals.
  • Decision: Finally, introduce bottom-funnel content that convinces customers to complete their purchase — promotional discounts, similar products, premium membership trials, free delivery options, and more.

A/B test creative

Finally, be sure to A/B test your creative to see how it performs with your target audience. Create two variants of the same content and deploy them for separate user groups. Measure how users engage with the creative and optimize your final version accordingly. Marketing tools and platforms have various tools that facilitate the testing process. For example, Hubspot includes fully integrated A/B testing for email deliverables.

Learn more campaign techniques in our advanced guide, “E-commerce Advertising: How To Build Campaigns That Convert.” 

Back to top

Fine-Tune Your Marketing Pipeline

Optimize the checkout experience

Of all the e-commerce features you must ensure are working correctly, none are more important than the online shopping cart. According to one study, 88% of e-commerce shopping orders are never completed. Customers abandon carts for various reasons — including a lack of security features or too many additional fees — but all boil down to a lack of trust in the platform.

Thankfully, there are ways marketers and app designers can address cart abandonment. Start by including messaging in the cart that highlights either additional value for customers or the platform’s trustworthiness. For example, you might emphasize money-back guarantees, return policies, or delivery options. Most importantly, always make sure to address any technical errors or customer service complaints as soon as possible to show your commitment to meeting their needs.

Invest in retargeting strategies

As important as it is to attract new customers, repeat customers are the true lifeblood of e-commerce platforms. According to one study, marketers drive sales from existing customers 60% to 70% of the time but typically convert new users no more than 20% of the time. For that reason, it’s vital to implement focused retargeting strategies and cultivate relationships with your most valuable customers.

Retargeting strategies can take many forms, such as offering loyalty programs, rewards points, or exclusive discounts for lapsed users. The key is to communicate the ways your e-commerce service has value. If you do so effectively, you’ll boost the value of each customer in turn. And that’s not allegorical — simply increasing the retention rate by 5% drives a corresponding 25% to 90% increase in revenue.

Optimize your ads and website for mobile

Approximately 87% of mobile users research products before purchasing, while 71% will do so within retail stores. Given the shopping habits of modern consumers, marketers must provide robust mobile experiences — not just with in-app ad campaigns but also optimized mobile websites.

For a start, adopt dynamic creative to automatically deploy desktop and mobile layouts as users arrive on your website. Next, when advertising specific products, be sure to link directly to a product page instead of a generic landing page. Finally, don’t forget to use high-quality images that constraint with your chosen ad channels — for example, when deploying creative to Facebook, avoid its precise blend of blue and white.

For advanced e-commerce marketing techniques, head to “4 E-commerce Marketing Tips that Boost Conversions.”

Back to top

Bring A Personalized Touch To E-commerce Marketing

Create great creative

Ad creative isn’t just about selling something to customers — it can go beyond product features and promotional discounts to engage users as a work of art. Advertisements can be funny, tender, or evoke any emotion while telling a product or brand story. As long as you A/B test effectively and convert leads, there’s no reason you can’t get creative with creative.

E-commerce ads that rely on humor won’t necessarily convert customers. But they have a far higher chance of appealing to broader audiences who will share them over social media. Never underestimate the power of viral marketing creative to reach customers.

Consider user-generated marketing content

People love to create, share, and enjoy unique content on social media platforms — sometimes just for fun or to influence an audience. By tapping into creative personalities among your target market, you might create opportunities for user-generated content (UGC). Consider reaching out to influencers or running social media contests to inspire photos and videos of customers using your products — all connected with a branded hashtag.

Managing user-generated content does require marketers to be highly aware of brand safety practices, but the benefits are high for a minimal cost. Not only will UGC events enhance your social presence, but you can also leverage the available content for subsequent campaigns.

Prioritize customer service

Sometimes the best thing e-commerce apps can offer isn’t a product — it’s a service. By responding to complaints and quickly addressing issues, you help customers feel personally valued and increase your retention rate. This support also drives positive customer reviews and — if the service takes place on public forums like social media — can attract new users to your platform.

For specific examples of quality e-commerce campaigns, take a look at “3 of the Best E-commerce Marketing Campaigns of All Time.

Back to top

There’s a lot of ground to cover when developing e-commerce marketing campaigns, but you don’t have to do it alone. Moloco can partner with you to provide self-optimizing programmatic ads, real-time campaign feedback, dynamic ad creative, and much more. Reach out today to find out how Moloco will make a difference for you.

Editor’s choice

Are you a privacy and performance expert? Take this quiz to find out!

A quick quiz to determine how well you know IDFA and ad campaign performance.

Moloco explains its machine learning

The steps Moloco takes to ensure we reach the best audience for customer's campaign goals, and to make the most value of their media budget.

MAU Las Vegas 2022 - it’s a wrap!

Insights from MAU 2022, Las Vegas

Subscribe to the Moloco Newsletter

Ready to get started?

Talk to an expert at Moloco today. We're here to help.