eCommerce Marketing Playbook:

Build Your Dream Business

Chapters

The world of eCommerce is very competitive, so it’s vital that you stand out from the crowd. That means you’ve got to get your business in front of your audience as much as possible. However, not every business is flush with cash they can spend on paid acquisition.

We break down exactly how you can grow your business without taking on extra funding or spending exorbitant amounts on paid advertising.

Chapter 1: What is a brand?

Brand. It’s a word used over and over in business—especially in eCommerce. And while we all know (or think we know) what it means, it’s important to really dig deep into understanding the term in order to create a complete and effective marketing strategy.

Think of your brand as the way a product, company, or individual is viewed by those who utilize or experience it. A brand is what evokes certain feelings with consumers.

In short, a brand is not a “thing” that is tangible—it’s a perception.

Why Should You Have a Brand?

You want your company to be recognized by your customers and your potential customers. 

By creating a brand, you have more control over how people perceive your business. The way in which you use your brand, also known as branding, brings awareness to your audience and can drive new business.

By establishing your brand, you essentially give more leverage to your business in your industry. When consumers are already familiar with a brand, they are much more likely to purchase—and repurchase—from that business.

Branding also helps generate referral customers. Once your brand is well-established, word-of-mouth becomes one of your most powerful marketing tools. Consumers come to gain a certain level of trust with well-branded companies.

Another benefit of creating a strong brand for your business is employee satisfaction. Employees who work for a reputable brand tend to take more pride in their work. They often find themselves more fulfilled at work because of a sense of belonging, which ultimately leads to long-term, loyal employees. 

Brands With a Purpose

Many businesses take their brand a step further with a purpose, often in the form of a cause. This method of branding does even more to create an emotional connection between the consumer and the brand. 

The social impact created when a company supports a cause can foster lasting impressions among conscious consumers in today’s market. 

One of the best examples of a brand with a purpose is TOMS. 

Blake Mycoskie, the founder of TOMS, launched the “One for One” business model in 2006. The basis of the model is that with every product purchased, a person in need is helped. As a result, TOMS has been able to do the following:

  • Provide over 10 million pairs of TOMS shoes to children.
  • Restore sight to over 175,000 people through TOMS Eyewear since its launch in 2011.
  • Provide clean water to developing communities through the efforts of TOMS Roasting Company that was launched in 2014.

Chapter 2: Promote Value Over Features

As you are creating your brand, you have a choice of two areas to promote: Features or Values. 

The first emphasizes what your product or service is or does while the second focuses on how your product or service will improve users’ lives.

While the differences between the two concepts may seem subtle, they actually are quite different.

The Definition of Features

The features are the things that make up your product or service. For example, the below description for an Old Navy backpack only talks about what the backpack includes. The description of how these features benefit the customer is missing.   

Old Navy backpack description.

The Definition of Features

The features are the things that make up your product or service. For example, the below description for an Old Navy backpack only talks about what the backpack includes. The description of how these features benefit the customer is missing.   

DayOwl backpack description.

Why Value Is More Important

You know your product or service best. And because of that, you know why it will make a consumer’s life better. But your consumer likely cannot see the value immediately. 

Your customer is making an investment when they purchase from you. Therefore, all they really care about is how your product will benefit them

While it may seem logical to share about your company, your team, and all of the effort that you have put into what you are selling, the reality is that your customers don’t really want to know all that.

Chapter 3: Your Customer’s Experience

Your brand should be focused on your customer, so it’s important to look at the experience they will have with your product or service. And by experience, we don’t just mean when they actually use your product or service. 

The customer’s experience starts the second they hear about your brand. That’s why it’s important that you focus on the entire buying journey as you are creating your brand.

There are three key areas that you should address as you are creating your brand.

1. Design

In today’s competitive world, you have to somehow separate yourself from a very
crowded marketplace. Because consumers are hit with an abundance of marketing and advertising campaigns every day, it’s vital that your brand captures their attention and stands out. And you only have a few seconds to do so.

That’s why the visual impact of your brand is vital. You can only gain ground with a consumer if you cause them to notice you and pique their interest. And good design is where it all starts.

A well-executed design will:

  • Clearly communicate your brand
  • Be compelling enough to drive conversions
  • Visually tell your brand’s story in an way that evokes emotion
  • Consistently use fonts, colors, and other elements that become associated with your brand
  • Include consistent language to accompany your visuals and reinforce your offering
  • Utilize effective typography and font sizes that powerfully support your message

Keep in mind that a poorly designed logo, website, or other marketing tools will present an unprofessional image of your company. Today’s design-savvy audiences expect good design, which means it’s critical to your brand’s success.

2. Fast and Functional

Another important thing to convey in your branding is how easy it is to not only use your product or service but also to buy it in the first place.

For the consumer, it’s all about gathering as much information as quickly as possible so they can weigh their options and make an informed decision. This is your brand’s chance to shine.

Your goal is to build trust with the consumer. By answering any questions they may have upfront—before they even realize they have questions—you are showing consumers that you have their backs. 

Your brand is there for the sole purpose of making things easier for your customers and making sure they feel 100% confident in their purchase.

3. Experiment and Learn

When it comes to branding, it’s important to keep in mind that one size does not fit all. Because of that, brands should constantly be experimenting and tweaking their marketing campaigns to fit their audience. 

Examples of experimenting with your brand can include utilizing short-form and long-form content, trying out different types of content and channels, playing around with GIFs, making use of podcasts, and even live streaming.

Experimenting not only helps you discover what resonates with your audience, it also can help keep your brand fresh and relevant.

Chapter 4: Acquisition

The main purpose of creating a brand is to acquire customers. In order to grow your business, you have to grow your customer base by not only making your brand unique and recognizable but also getting it in front of people. 

1. Influencer Marketing

It’s not a new concept but it has changed a good bit over the years. 

Influencer marketing began about a decade ago and first only involved celebrities and a handful of well-known bloggers. But in today’s world, social media influencers have garnered multitudes of followers not because they are movie stars, TV actors, or famous musicians but instead for one simple reason—they know how to influence others (and they are good at it)!

Influencer marketing works because these individuals are viewed as experts within their niche. They have built a high amount of trust among their followers who constantly look to them for  recommendations. Think of influencer marketing as a form of social proof for your brand’s potential customers.

While many brands think of Instagram as the most effective social media channel for influencer marketing, it’s important to note that other networks are moving up in the ranks and starting to compete with Instagram. Channels such as YouTube, TikTok, and Snapchat have all gained in popularity with both influencers and followers.

So how do you go about finding an influencer? First be sure that you clearly understand the demographics of your audience. Then do your research to see where your audience spends most of their time on social media. That will tell you where you need to go to find an influencer that can relate to your potential customers.

2. Make SEO Your Friend

And when we say friend, we mean best friend. The reality is, your eCommerce brand cannot achieve success without ranking high in Google search results. 

Your goal needs to be not only to land on the first page of a Google search but ultimately to rank #1 on that page.

So how do you achieve that? Read on.

Start with keyword research

This may be the most important part of your SEO strategy

Keyword research involves discovering and analyzing the most common search terms that consumers enter into search engines. Knowing the keywords that relate to your brand will help you appear in those searches.

A good place to begin is by creating a list of the general topics that relate to your business. From that list, think of common phrases and terms that relate to those topics. Try searching using those terms and see what comes up. If you’re not getting the results you want, scroll down to the bottom of that Google search page to see some suggestions related to your search. These suggestions can help you come up with other keywords that may be a better fit for your brand.

If you are still struggling to figure out your keywords, there are some websites that can help such as Ubersuggest and SEMrush.

Research your competitors’ keywords

Make a list of the keywords your competitors are using. Are they ranking high with these search terms? If so, it would seem logical to use those keywords yourself. However, that is the last thing you want to do. 

If you use the same keywords, you will only be competing with those businesses for rankings. You want to be the #1 rank for your keyword searches, not the #10 rank behind your competitors.

Use your keywords in blogs, on your website, etc.

Once you have established your keywords, it’s time to put them to use. 

Make sure that those words appear in your blogs, on your website, in white pages, and in all your online marketing materials.

These keywords need to become synonymous with your brand, so utilize them in all your marketing and advertising efforts.

3. Paid Advertising

If you want to reach as many people in your target audience as possible, you can’t do it solely through organic marketing. Don’t get us wrong, your organic efforts are vital and will yield big returns when done correctly.

But you also will need to allocate some funds for paid advertising in order to ensure that your reach is as wide as possible. 

Social media is a great place to buy advertising. Again, make sure that you know which social media channels your audience is using. Whether it’s Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, or some other channel, you will find plenty of opportunities for paid advertising on those channels.

Google Ads are another good option. Google makes it easy to get started with your first ad in just a few clicks. You’ll discover that there are a number of formats available with Google Ads, including shopping ads, text ads, and display ads.

4. Partnerships

If you have a robust eCommerce business focused on growth, there is no doubt that you will have a need for partnerships. These eCommerce partners run the gamut from agencies and tools to apps and platforms. 

Every partnership you commit to should help your business not only sell more but also enable you to put more of your focus on making your service or product better. In short, your partnerships should make running your business easier.

As you are choosing your partnerships, be sure to do the following:

Ask lots of questions

You need to make sure that the partnership is a good fit for your business. 

Ask them questions to see if their service aligns with your offerings. How do they measure success? What sort of volumes can they handle? How easy is their onboarding and what sort of support do they provide? And what does their ongoing support look like?

Make sure all of your partners can work together

Once you have a handful of partnerships, it can be hard to keep up with each one. But if
the partners are used to working with each other, it can save you a lot of time—and even
make your customer experience better.  

Prioritize your partnerships

While collaborations can make things easier for both you and your customer, keep in
mind that you can’t be all things to all people. Be particular about which partnerships will
offer the most value for your business and your customer.

5. Build a Community

The most successful eCommerce stores have succeeded in creating lasting relationships with their customers. It’s not always an easy feat since you are not dealing with consumers face-to-face, but it can be done.

Why do you need a community?

People like to feel a sense of belonging. By building a community with your consumers, you are making them feel important. This connection goes a long way in creating customer loyalty and retention.

Here’s where you need to put your focus to develop connections and a sense of trust with your customers.

  • Provide good customer service for every part of your business, not just sales.
  • Utilize social media for more than just promotions. Answer questions from consumers and start conversations.
  • Ask for reviews and feedback on your product or service. Start gathering more reviews  with TrustSpot.

Leveraging email for retention

Email marketing can go a long way in building relationships with your consumers. 

Whether it’s a promotion, a free shipping offer, or a lead nurturing email, this type of customer contact is invaluable. 

Sure email has been around for a long time—but it’s also not going anywhere. And it’s still one of the most used forms of communication in the business world.

Use your community for content ideas

What are the most common questions that your customers are asking? Is there one
stumbling block that many of them seem to have when working with your product or
service? 

Use this information to create content for your blog or website. Essentially, you will be
answering your customers’ questions and/or addressing their problems before they even
have them. 

Now that’s some good customer service—and your consumers will take
notice.

Increase repeat purchases

It’s a lot cheaper to gain a repeat purchaser than to acquire a new customer. 

New customers are certainly important, but don’t neglect your current and past
customers. These are the people who have already had a great experience with your
business, so they are very likely to buy from you again.

Whether it’s through a simple follow-up “thank you” email or a “cart abandonment”
reminder, there are many ways to show that your business values its customers and
wants them to stick around. 

Loyalty programs are another way to encourage customers to purchase from you again.

Show these repeat customers that they are the pride and joy of your brand with rewards
and special benefits.

The Bottom Line

The reality is that if you aren’t taking advantage of these tools to market your eCommerce business, you can bet that your competition is. No one said it’s easy, but with some work and foresight on the front end, you can set your business up for success.

Don’t put off these steps and tips any longer. The sooner you start, the sooner you will reap the benefits of brand recognition, customer relationships, consumer loyalty, and plenty of growth for your eCommerce business.