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E-commerce inbound marketing strategies for your online business

Author's avatar By Lilach Bullock 07 Jan, 2021
Essential Essential topic

E-commerce inbound marketing means attracting customers to your online store with engaging and relevant content to increase sales and conversions

E-commerce has rocketed over the last 12 months - and with it, inbound marketing tactics by savvy e-commerce marketers have picked up the pace, competing to attract customers to their site and win that sale.

While a healthy e-commerce marketing strategy will always include a mixture of outbound and inbound marketing, with demand and competition peaking in 2021, there's little doubt that now is the time to focus on your e-commerce inbound marketing strategy to increase your return on investment.

The numbers speak for themselves with e-commerce purchases accounting for 16% of all sales in the US in Q2. In fact, 9 countries were predicted over 20% growth in e-commerce post-COVID, the Asian Pacific market alone forecast $2,448.33 billion of E-commerce sales.


With that in mind, here are 5 strategies that will boost your e-commerce inbound marketing results - and Learning Path solutions to support you to implement them, so you can grow your customers and revenues in 2021.

1. Instagram shoppable posts

Over the years, Instagram has grown sporadically in the social media space. Businesses already use Instagram for marketing purposes to reach new customers.

But with Instagram shoppable posts, prospects can now buy your products directly on Instagram. This increases the number of inbound visitors to your [Instagram] store through a seamless user experience.

To utilize this feature, you have to set up your product catalog on Facebook and connect to your Instagram business account. After this, you can tag any product in your posts that followers can buy.

Away Instagram post

Another way e-commerce stores can exploit this feature is to combine it with influencer marketing.

Here's an example where Herschel Supply adds a shoppable tag to a piece of luggage promoted by fashion model, Michelle Dee.

herschelsupply Instagram E-commerce inbound marketing

Once your followers click on any of these products, they can fill in their payment details to buy the product. Also, they can get their shipping status information on Instagram.

Social media shopping

When you create more than 9 Instagram shoppable posts, you'll have a "Shop" tab on your Instagram profile. Here, followers can shop for your products and make purchases.

Nordstrom social media posts

Instagram shoppable posts provide a platform to market your products where it's easy for your prospects to buy.

2. Content personalization

With big players like Amazon and Netflix leading the way, content personalization is a trend every e-commerce store has to adopt. Consider it, potential buyers are likely to buy from your store when you display products relevant to them.

Moreover, 72% of consumers say they now only engage with marketing messages that are personalized and tailored to their interests. So if you're not already, you must consider content personalization as one of your strongest e-commerce inbound marketing tactics.

For effective content personalization, you need to consider the following criteria:

  • Previous interactions of the visitor on your website.
  • Demographic data such as location, gender, language, etc.
  • Time of visit such as time of day, month, or year.
  • Visitor's declared interests.

Through website personalization, each visitor sees a page tailored to them with products they want to buy. Consider these two pages from FashionWatch. Here's the page for a visitor:

E-commerce inbound marketing example 1

And here's the page for another visitor:

E-commerce inbound marketing personalization example 2

It's evident that both pages have been personalized to the visitor. Thus, each visitor is more likely to make a purchase.

Amazon is a popular example of content personalization. From product recommendations to shipping information based on your location, each Amazon user sees an e-commerce store with their favorite products.

Amazon personalization example

Personalization means being able to influence your customer's omnichannel experience to nurture them further down the e-commerce marketing funnel.

Apply the RACE Framework to optimize your e-commerce strategy

Smart Insights members are planning and managing their inbound e-commerce retail activity across the RACE Framework. RACE empowers managers and marketers to integrate their strategies and channels across the customer lifecycle of reach, act, convert and engage.

This data-driven, step-by-step process is proven to drive growth for e-commerce, so you can achieve your vision for your business whilst accelerating your ROI. Start now.

Is your E-commerce or Retail business competing online?

With so much competition, you need to stand out. Use the RACE Growth Process to win more customers

Get started now

3. Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR)

With augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR), buyers get a better view of what they're buying before they complete their purchase.

AR allows potential buyers to add a product to their environment before they buy. This displays how a product can fit into an environment.

An example is IKEA's PLACE app, which allows buyers to get a better view of what they're buying before they complete their purchase.

With high ratings across the board, clearly this new technology is very attractive to potential IKEA customers. For digital marketers looking for a new direction for their e-commerce inbound marketing, AR and VR give you the opportunity to outpace your competition and delight your customers online.


Over the years, AR has been growing popular and that trend will continue this year. For instance, eMarketer predicts 90 million US monthly AR users in 2021.

VR and AR e-commerce inbound marketing forecast

VR goes farther than AR and creates a virtual environment for your product. This is usually applicable to big products.

4. Inbound marketing approach to PPC

While a lot of advertising activity can be classified as an outbound approach, there are search-intent tactics for PPC digital marketers to improve their e-commerce inbound marketing mix. Since PPC marketing comes into play as the user is searching for or about your product, this is the perfect opportunity to direct them to your content to answer their questions, not all too different from an SEO approach.

This list describes the potential categories and the keywords that could be used in the example of laser eye treatment:

  1. Generic search for a product or service: for example, ‘surgery’ is much more important than ‘treatment’.
  2. Comparison/quality: compare laser eye treatment.
  3. Adjective (price/product qualifiers): cheap laser eye treatment.
  4. Intended use/application: short sight laser eye treatment.
  5. Product type:
    1. General product: lasik laser eye treatment.
    2. Model-specific product & product search refinement: laser eye surgery.
  6. Vendor/brand: optical express laser eye treatment.
  7. Location: laser eye UK or laser eye treatment in London.
  8. Action request: select laser eye treatment (or buy).
  9. Reviews: laser eye surgery reviews.

Apply a data-driven approach to your inbound e-commerce marketing

The RACE Framework empowers managers and marketers to streamline data and optimization at all stages of the customer lifecycle of reach, act, convert and engage.

Keep up to date with the latest trends and innovations such as keyword behavior, AR and VR. We have tools and training to support your e-commerce marketing strategy.

Is your E-commerce or Retail business competing online?

With so much competition, you need to stand out. Use the RACE Growth Process to win more customers

Get started now

5. User-generated content (UGC)

To make their purchase decisions, buyers usually look at other people. In fact, 63% of social media users consider consumer ratings their primary information source. So it's vital to get this right to ensure the inbound customers continue to visit your site.

What do current customers think about your product? How are they using it? What benefits have they derived?

User-generated content answers these questions and convinces prospects to buy. It becomes easy for customers to send UGC when you specify a hashtag on social media.

Then, you can repost on your business profile. Here’s an example from BMW reposting a customer's picture of X5.

BMW Instagram e-commerce inbound marketing post

If you're looking for a great case study of UGC, look no further then Busabout. The tour operator offers hop-on-hop-off tours to 47 destinations across Europe. Amazingly, it features 110,000 traveler images of these locations.

Busabout e-commerce inbound marketing

As a result, Busabout achieved a 72% increase in hop-on-hop-off page views and a 33% increase in web bookings in the UK.

E-commerce inbound marketing in a competitive environment

Implementing a strategy just because it's popular might lead to poor results for your e-commerce store. To avoid this, ensure that you use marketing strategies effectively with your audience.

Smart Insights provide strategic marketing training for retail e-commerce businesses of all shapes and sizes, we have dedicated membership options for small and large -commerce companies, with bespoke tools and templates for your current stage of development.

All our marketing tools are integrated across the RACE Framework, so you can be assured that your marketing platforms and channels are working efficiently and effectively to generate you the results you need right now. What are you waiting for?

Is your E-commerce or Retail business competing online?

With so much competition, you need to stand out. Use the RACE Growth Process to win more customers

Get started now

Author's avatar

By Lilach Bullock

Lilach Bullock is highly regarded on the world speaker circuit, Lilach has graced Forbes and Number 10 Downing Street. She’s a hugely connected and highly influential entrepreneur. Listed in Forbes as one of the top 20 women social media power influencers and was crowned the Social Influencer of Europe by Oracle. She is listed as the number one Influencer in the UK by Career Experts and is a recipient of a Global Women Champions Award for her outstanding contribution and leadership in business. Check out her site Lilach Bullock or connect with her on LinkedIn

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