Guide to ecommerce marketing for small businesses

Does your online store look 🔥 but your traffic looks more like a dried-out desert? You’re not alone!

With many product sales now happening online, ecommerce brands are tasked with promoting themselves via a variety of different digital channels. If joining the circus wasn’t on your radar before, it may well be now with the amount you have to juggle as a small business owner.

The ability for shoppers to buy anything from anywhere has led to fierce competition in the ecommerce world, and the brands that succeed are those that are strategic with how they attract, convert, and retain customers.

Many of our customers at Dash are ecommerce brands because they need to create a tonne of visual content. So we are lucky enough to see a lot of these strategies in action. So roll up, roll up… let's explore some tried and tested tips from some of our favourite ecommerce brands!

What is ecommerce marketing?

Ecommerce marketing (also known as direct-to-consumer marketing) refers to the marketing efforts you put in place to promote your online store and its products. These strategies can take place across multiple channels. The goal is to reach a wide range of shoppers, engage new and existing customers, build trust, and establish subject matter authority in your vertical.

But really, the ultimate aim of ecommerce marketing is to drive consumers to your online store and encourage them to make a purchase. This can be done through paid advertising, social marketing and gorgeous visuals to draw people in.

But it doesn’t stop there – oh no.

Once a visitor becomes a shopper, it’s crucial for brands to continue to nurture them so they come back again and again.

How is ecommerce marketing different from other types of marketing?

Isn’t this just regular digital marketing?

Kind of. 🤓

While digital marketing aims to introduce consumers to your brand, expand your reach, and generate more traffic, ecommerce marketing has the distinct end goal of driving sales and revenue. It’s specifically geared towards brands that sell physical products. It covers the entire buying process, from the initial awareness stage right through to retaining long-term customers.

If you're looking to up your ecommerce marketing game, check out these 14 tried and tested strategies to help you do just that. 

  1. Upselling and cross-selling by Yellowpop 
  2. Social selling by Skin + Me 
  3. Abandoned cart emails by Rudy's 
  4. SMS marketing by Original Grain
  5. Capturing email subscribers by Waken Care 
  6. Loyalty programmes by Beauty Pie
  7. Personalised product recommendations by Lexi's Treats 
  8. Reviews and social proof by Nomadica 
  9. Optimising product pages for search engines by Matches Fashion
  10. Virtual sales associates by Hello Sunday SPF 
  11. Influencer marketing by The Rotten Fruit Box 
  12. Content marketing by Happy Free From 
  13. Google shopping ads by Bower Collective 
  14. Harnassing visual content by Mustard Made 

14 must-know ecommerce marketing strategies to attract and convert shoppers

1. Upselling and cross-selling

Increasing your average order value (AOV) is a simple way to instantly boost your bottom line. But doing this requires getting each customer to bump up their order. Enter upselling and cross-selling.

Upselling: encouraging shoppers to upgrade their initial product to something more expensive or higher quality. For example, persuading a customer who has added standard earbuds to their basket to upgrade to a noise-cancelling model.

Cross-selling: prompting shoppers to add additional items to their cart that are relevant to their initial purchase - like suggesting shoppers buy batteries alongside a digital camera.

Both are tactics that allow shoppers to add extra items or upgrade their existing orders. It’s a win-win for everyone: customers get a better product or additional products that are relevant to their original purchase and the brand gets more revenue and a higher AOV.

YellowPop (1)Example:  Yellowpop recommends complementary products to someone who has already added one of their neon lights to the cart. Being able to adjust my lights with a wireless control? Yes please! 

 2. Social selling

Customers are all over social media – and they’re on the scroll for new, exciting products. 4.62 billion people use social media and 54% use channels like Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok to research products and discover new brands.

Get in on the action by promoting your products in people’s feeds. This will help you reach them where they’re already hanging out and, thanks to the library of selling features on social platforms, it’s relatively easy to drive sales.

Facebook marketing: brands are able to open a Facebook store that lets shoppers make a purchase without ever leaving the app. But a wide selection of post types also makes it easy to grow your visibility, reach new shoppers, and instil brand authority.

TikTok marketing: in the great scheme of social media, TikTok is relatively new, but it’s proving to be a powerful way for brands to create human connections with shoppers and build trust. If you're considering the channel for your brand, check out Barney's guide on TikTok marketing for ecommerce brands

Instagram marketing: link to products in your posts and allow shoppers to buy products directly through Instagram. You can also promote new products via Instagram Stories and Reels to create deeper connections with shoppers and increase brand awareness.

It's also important to note that each of these social platforms rely heavily on visual content. Without your brand's dazzling images, these tactics will most likely go unnoticed, and potential customers will keep on scrolling. 

Skin + me-1

Example: Skin + Me uses Instagram Stories to answer common customer questions and direct shoppers to its support materials. This makes for a super-simple way of repurposing the FAQ section of your website (perfect if you're feeling stuck for social content). 👌

3. Abandoned cart emails

Want to hear something so depressing it’ll make you want to shut up shop and catch the next train to Corporateville?

The current abandoned cart rate is 69.82%, which means only 30% of shoppers make it all the way to checkout. Ouch 😭

Don’t worry. This doesn’t mean they aren’t interested in buying. They might have been distracted, had questions they couldn’t get answered or found a better deal elsewhere. After all, how many times has a cute cat vid interrupted your mid-shop focus?


Brands can get these invested shoppers back by sending abandoned cart emails that remind them about the products they’ve put in their carts. These emails have an average open rate of 45% and, of those, 50% go on to complete their purchase.

Go one step further and pimp up your abandoned cart emails by adding star ratings, customer reviews, user-generated content, and key information about the product that shoppers might find useful.

image9Example: Rudy’s reminds shoppers what’s in their cart via email. They open with an attention-grabbing headline, add extra incentive with a promotion code, and introduce time pressure with 'your cart is about to expire'.  A winning combo in our book!

4. Proactive SMS marketing

83% of people open a text message within 90 seconds of receiving it – much speedier than the average email. It’s almost as if people are poised and waiting for their phone to beep in their hands. 👀

 

This is what makes SMS a popular marketing channel for ecommerce brands since they can reach shoppers directly without having to compete in their email inboxes or busy social feeds.

You can use SMS in a variety of different ways to build trust and drive sales:

  • Send discount codes to hesitant shoppers
  • Launch a new product line
  • Recommend products
  • Thank shoppers for their orders and link to similar items
  • Send abandoned cart messages to lure back customers

image5Example: Original Grain provides shoppers with links to its collections. By peppering CTAs throughout the text, it gives the customers more opportunities to interact and engage with the brand. A great way of keeping in the forefront of the shopper's mind when they're out and about! 

5. Capture email subscribers

The more people you have on your email list, the more potential customers you have to engage with. Getting people to give you their email addresses means you can nurture shoppers who aren’t yet ready to buy. Think of it like wining and dining a new crush. You wouldn’t go full force with a proposal on the first date, would you? But you can give yourself an edge by staying front-of-mind and being the perfect courting partner. 😉

For example, many brands offer an incentive for joining their email list, like a discount on their first order or a free gift.

image10-1

Example: Waken Care offers shoppers 10% off their first order, along with exclusive treats in exchange for their email address. We don't mind if we do! 

6. Loyalty programs

65% of a company’s business comes from existing customers, and increasing customer retention by just 5% can increase profits by more than 25%. Brands that continue to engage existing customers can create more loyal shoppers, increase word-of-mouth referrals, and enjoy increased revenue.

Loyalty programs are a great way to put this into action. Rewarding shoppers who come back with a discount, membership incentives, or points they can spend on your products gives them a reason to return and recommend you to their friends. Plus, it’s nice to reward the peeps who show you their love.

image1-2

Example: Beauty Pie has membership tiers for customers to secure loyalty and keep them coming back. Everyone loves a saving and offering exclusive 'bonus days' and starter kits is the perfect way to make customers feel like they're part of the gang. 

7. Personalized product recommendations

Imagine walking into a store you’ve been in a thousand times where you know the staff and they know you, yet they greet you with a generic “hey you” rather than your name. It’s a rough feeling, and completely unnecessary!

It’s the same online: today’s shoppers crave personalization. 56% stay loyal to a brand that “gets them”, and part of this is understanding what they’re interested in and serving personalized marketing materials based on that. For example, if a shopper has shown interest in your new sock line in the past, you can safely assume that they will welcome sock recommendations in the future.
Lexis-1

Example: Lexi’s Treats recommends products to shoppers based on their browsing behaviour and past products they’ve added to their cart. (And, by using enticing product photography, it's hard not to be tempted by these tasty snacks 😋).

8. Reviews and social proof

It’s nice when people say nice things about you. It’s even better when people say nice things about your brand, your products or your awesome customer service team. Here’s us giving you permission to shout about it from the rooftops! Plaster those good vibes everywhere you can.

Reviews add credibility to your product pages and other marketing materials. In fact, 93% of consumers say that online reviews have influenced their purchasing decisions, while 91% trust online reviews just as much as personal recommendations.

Add reviews to your product pages, social media posts, and ads to instill trust and capitalise on the “like, know, trust” factor that’s so important in marketing.

image14-1

Example: Nomadica includes reviews on its product pages to help customers make informed decisions. They're also not afraid to include lower ratings. This is important, as it promotes brand transparency and authenticity. After all, no brand can please everyone. 

9. Optimise product pages for search engine success

Back in the day, if a shopper needed a new dress, they’d visit Ethel the dressmaker on their local high street. Ethel might have been a great dressmaker, but there’s only so much Ethel can do. The internet and ecommerce has changed the way we shop drastically. Of course, they can still choose Ethel, but they also have access to millions of other dressmakers from all over the world (sorry, Ethel).

40% of product searches start on Google, with shoppers typing in a series of keywords related to what they’re looking for. To show up, your product pages need to reflect the keywords being used. For example, if someone searches for “red ballet pumps”, Google will serve them results that include the term “red ballet pumps”.

Here’s how to optimise your product pages to enhance your results in the SERPs:

  • Carry out keyword research to find out what phrases shoppers are using
  • Implement those keywords in your product pages
  • Add the keywords to your meta information to indicate to Google what your page is about

matches fasion

Example: Matches Fashion includes the phrase “red leather ballet flats” in its product description to capture shoppers who use that keyword. By expanding on the generic 'flat shoes' keyword, they're meeting search intent and getting to the most relevant customers quickly. 


10. Virtual sales associates

Brick-and-mortar stores have the bonus of a real-life human sales associate who can help shoppers identify the products they’re looking for. Obviously, this isn’t as easy to replicate online since consumers shop around the clock, but there are virtual sales assistants that use AI to help shoppers find what they’re looking for.

Often called chatbots, they ask questions and serve automated responses to get an idea about what a shopper wants and needs. The chatbot then provides information and resources based on their answers. It can be a good way to personalise the shopping experience and make sure you’re tackling any buying objections upfront.

hello sunday spf-1

Example: Hello Sunday SPF helps shoppers quickly learn more about the product and guides them through the purchase process with a chatbot. This means potential customers can find what they're looking for straight away which reduces bounce rate and saves time for busy shoppers. 

11. Influencer marketing

When Kim K recommends a product, peeps are gonna buy it. In fact, 49% of consumers rely on influencer recommendations to discover new products. This is a great way for brands to unlock pre-built trust that influencers have created and transfer it to their brand (all while driving sales 📈).

You don’t have to partner with big-name influencers to see results (especially if you don’t have a couple of mill stashed away for a Kim K collab). Micro-influencers with smaller, more niche followings on Instagram can be a great way to reach a truly engaged audience in a very specific vertical. 

Tip: if you're looking for a way to share your product imagery with influencers, you should consider a digital asset management tool (like Dash 😇) to create public portals and collections. This way you won't need to deal with lengthy email chains and large file attachments - you can focus on building those all-important relationships. 

the rotten fruit box-1

Example: The Rotten Fruit Box partnered with micro-influencers to promote their products. Here, they're partnering with the children's mentor and parent blogger, Cocoon to Butterfly. With 6,000 followers, Cocoon to Butterfly can push The Rotten Fruit Box's products out to other parents and guardians who're looking for a healthy way to feed their kids. 

12. Content marketing

Creating useful, educational content helps position you as an expert in your vertical and encourages shoppers to discover your brand via search engines or social media. Building out a library of content that customers can browse acts as a self-service shopping tactic that creates a unique journey for each shopper based on their individual needs.

The content you might want to create includes:

  • Blog posts that show customers how to use your products
  • Social media tutorials and Q&As
  • Podcasts that interview influencers in your vertical
  • Video series that introduce shoppers to your products
  • Infographics to help turn your written words into digestible visual content 

 

image7

Example: Happi Free From creates recipes out of their products which can then be shared on Instagram. This perfect blend of social and content marketing provides the brand with that authentic feel and gives them an edge over their competition. 

13. Google Shopping

Running ads on Google has long been a way for brands to reach consumers who were using relevant keywords. Now, the addition of Google Shopping allows ecommerce brands to highlight their products in a visual way in the search results.

Optimise your Google Shopping ads by adding star ratings and high-quality images so that your ad stands out and attracts click-throughs. And make sure you use a tool (like Dash 😇) to keep all your product shots organised.

bower collectiveExample: Bower Collective’s Google Shopping ad stands out with the addition of customer reviews. With a mixture of gorgeous product photography and a fantastic price point, we know which one we're going to buy! 

14. Make sure your visuals do your products justice

As we've mentioned several times throughout this guide, online shopping relies heavily on images and visuals. When you can’t touch, smell, or taste a product before you buy, it’s important to have as clear a picture as possible. And shoppers looooove a good visual (and so do their brains). In fact, the human brain processes visual content 60,000 times faster than text.

Goodbye endless paragraphs of nonsense! 👋 Hello beautiful 360-degree images, product videos, and user-generated content that shows your product in action.

mustard made-1Example: Mustard Made has multiple different images of its products from different angles, including handy visual size guides. This makes it easy for customers to imagine what these lockers will look like in the real world. 

If you're looking for ways to stay on top of all your gorgeous brand images and product shots, you'll want to consider digital asset management (DAM). 

Never heard of DAM before? Don't worry, we’ve got you covered for this one. 😉

How to get started with ecommerce marketing

It’s not so bad, right? Now that you have a better understanding of the kinds of marketing ecommerce brands are using to drive traffic and sales, let’s take a look at how you can get started without the headache.

Set your goals upfront

Knowledge is power 💪 Before you do anything, figure out what you want to achieve with your marketing efforts. Having a good idea of the percentage increases you want to achieve or the number of conversions you’d like to generate each quarter will help you determine which strategies to use and ensure you can track and measure your success.

Understand your customers

Knowing who you’re marketing to is really important. This will guide your messaging, the platforms you use, and ultimately the strategies you implement. Create customer personas that represent segments of your customer base and focus your marketing efforts around their specific wants and needs.

Consider segmenting shoppers by:

  • Age and location
  • Job role or position
  • Personal interests
  • Lifestage (e.g. just married, new parent, or homeowner)

Create a strategy

Once you know what you want to achieve and who you want to target, you can start putting together an e-commerce marketing strategy. This will include what channels you’ll market on, what kind of content you’ll share, and how often you’ll do it. You can tweak your strategy over time to ensure you’re getting the best results, so be sure to track your efforts to see what’s working and what’s not.

Assemble your toolbox

Research the tools you might need to implement your chosen marketing strategies. Here are some tools to get you started:

(Check out our post about the best marketing apps for small businesses for even more tools). 

Make ecommerce marketing work for your brand

Ecommerce marketing is an essential part of running an online store. It helps you identify who your customers are and where they’re hanging out, drives them to your website, and ultimately converts them into buyers. Use the strategies listed here to increase brand awareness, build trust, and turn one-time shoppers into long-term, loyal customers. To quickly get on top of your visual content and product photography right now, take a look at our digital asset management solution for ecommerce teams. You've got this! 💯

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