How has digital acceleration impacted e-commerce marketing? How will businesses continue to take advantage of new opportunities to personalize the digital experience?
In the space of a few months, the COVID-19 pandemic brought about decades of change for digital business practice. Companies of all shapes, sizes, sectors and regions had to adapt to ride the wave of the crisis. In doing so, on a global scale, there has been massive digital and e-commerce marketing acceleration, on top of the inroads already made within the past decade.
Naturally, consumers have become increasingly demanding. Lead times, stock levels and interactions that once might have been acceptable, are now simply outdated. Customers have higher expectations of how brands should serve them and their needs, and digital is no longer an ‘alternative’ sales channel. It is a critical part of a truly omnichannel customer experience strategy.
What does a return to traditional channels mean for digital marketing?
For some sectors, although they may have switched out of necessity, consumers will still prefer the in-person experience. Despite a migration away from traditional channels, customers will naturally begin to return to in-store shopping.
It is, therefore, more important than ever for e-commerce marketers to focus on loyalty, personalization, and humanizing the digital experience at each stage of the RACE Framework.
What is e-commerce marketing?
Going back to basics, e-commerce marketing is the process of driving awareness and eliciting action toward a business.
Typically, it is used to drive conversion of goods or services that can be delivered through a digital experience, but in a fully joined-up strategy, e-commerce marketing can utilize any channel to attract and facilitate meeting an objective.
E-commerce marketing typically involves a complex combination of digital channels at each stage of your customers' journeys. That's why we recommend the RACE Framework to streamlining and re-prioritize your e-commerce marketing strategy and planning.
Smart Insights has dedicated tools, templates, and training for e-commerce marketers looking to add value through strategic e-commerce marketing techniques. Find out how your business could benefit.
Creating content marketing to reach the right audience
For years, experts have said that content is king. For as many years this phrase has equally made the eyes of marketers roll.
The truth is, however, that creating original content is still a key technique to reaching customers. According to a recent study by Backlinko, the average word count for pages that rank on the first page of Google is 1,447 words. To be found, search engines still prioritize websites that pay attention to organic content as part of their marketing mix.
That said, we know that content is not just about search engines. As more consumers have shifted to digital channels, it remains an effective e-commerce marketing technique to reach an audience and build qualified leads. Original and useful content can inform an audience in a way that feels natural and organic, and isn’t simply disruptive or ‘paid for’.
It is still very much a quality over quantity approach.
Planning creative content production
Brands need to be mindful that quality content isn’t achievable through mass production. It is about crafting stories that drive the customer to take action, and are memorable. It is a channel that still needs to be planned for strategically, but just 43% of B2B marketers have a formalised content marketing strategy.
Surprisingly, 21% of B2B marketers are working without a strategy altogether.
If your business falls into this group, with our Business Membership, you can access a complete and structured system of audits, templates, guides, and e-learning to help you rapidly review and optimize your e-commerce marketing.
Steps to planning an effective content strategy
- Conduct keyword research. Use data to understand what the customer wants and needs, and plan content that can be integrated into e-commerce marketing campaigns. Free tools such as the Google Adwords planner can add value to owned media planning as well as paid.
- Plan content that is relevant to the customer’s needs. Research what questions they ask at the start of the purchase process, why they need a product or service, what their pain points are, and plan a mix of content to address it. Remember, this is both for SEO and more recently, voice search, but also to direct the customer through a conversion.
- Review content types, how they can be created and ways to repurpose across the digital experience. Create the strategy to be relevant throughout the funnel and at each stage of the customer lifecycle e.g. ‘how to’ videos, useful blogs, podcasts, UGC etc.
- Optimize existing content and pages. Review common entry pages, product pages and FAQs so that they support the SEO strategy but also the conversion rate optimization (CRO) process.
- Integrate social media content. Sell the lifestyle of how others are using the product or service to persuade a conversion. User-generated content is key to reaching a new audience, social proofing, and building loyalty.
IKEA achieves this particularly well with seamless integration of social posts featuring its products.
Our comprehensive Content Marketing Learning Path gives you everything you need to create, launch and refine a winning strategy.
We have 10 Learning Paths for e-commerce marketing leaders to improve performance and drive the results they need - whether that's digital transformation, digital experience, digital channels, or more.
Eliciting action through social commerce
Essentially, social commerce is the combination of savvy e-commerce marketing and social media.
It enables brands to sell products directly through social media. The entire shopping experience, from discovery to conversion takes place within the relevant platform. Not only does this create a frictionless purchasing experience, but it allows consumers to interact with people they trust to help guide their purchases.
This definition from Big Commerce sums up social commerce nicely:
“Social commerce sells products directly through social media networks. It differs from social media marketing as you’re not redirecting users to an online store, but offering them the ability to checkout directly within the network they’re using at that moment.”
Back in 2020, social commerce was estimated to be worth $89.4 billion with projections to grow to $604.5 billion in the next seven years.
In fact, Facebook has stated that 81% of shoppers research products on Instagram and Facebook alone.
Why is social commerce so important?
Social commerce is an important e-commerce marketing technique because it bridges the gap between on and offline shopping to create a social and digital experience.
87% of users turn to social media for help in making a shopping decision. 30% are said to go on to make a purchase directly through social media.
The reason for its efficiency? Social commerce mimics the intrinsic feelings of shopping with others, and of getting a second opinion by integrating social proof.
Social commerce also removes additional steps in a conversion process to maximise CRO.
Actionable considerations for social commerce:
- Use social commerce for immediate feedback. Use data from polls and product interaction to help direct product development, campaign feedback, or service delivery.
- Hyper-target customers based on real data. Social data is in abundance, so advertising can be highly targeted and specific, raising the e-commerce marketing bar.
- Listen to the audience. Social commerce allows direct interaction, so social listening is a must. Feed this information back into the strategy.
- Encourage UCG. Ask for reviews, share them, and embed UGC as a strategic asset,
Read about social commerce trends, tactics and tools to grow your e-commerce strategy.
AI in e-commerce marketing
Automation is not a new concept to e-commerce marketers, but in recent years, artificial intelligence has stepped up its game.
Customers are now proficient in interacting with chatbots, responding to intelligent recommendations, and remarketing campaigns. Forward-thinking businesses are integrating customer analysis tools, smart inventory management, and omnichannel strategies across multi-channels. All of which can drive highly effective campaigns and results-focused e-commerce marketing.
In fact, machine learning, propensity modeling, and AI can impact your customers' experiences across reach, act, convert and engage of the customer lifecycle.
Creating a personalized experience through machine learning, propensity modeling, and AI
For some sectors, integrating marketing technology is a means to assisting the conversion process e.g. retail ‘try ons’ or product recommendations. In others, such as financial services, marketing ROI is determined by offering a data-driven personalized experience.
More complex products such as loans and mortgages have much lower digital purchase rates and require a seamless multi-touch approach. Machine learning, propensity modeling and AI can help to guide the customer from the initial entry point through to purchase as part of a relevant, high-performance e-commerce experience.
Pharma marketing is another example where MarTech can assist with the e-commerce marketing strategy. As the Covid-19 pandemic lead pharma marketers to transition to digital marketing initiatives, big data was acquired. This industry now has a great opportunity to integrate analytics powered by machine learning, propensity modeling, and AI to enhance hyper-targeted marketing campaigns.
Nerdwallet is an app that matches customers to financial products using machine learning. This data is fed back into the e-commerce marketing strategy to create highly optimized campaigns.
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Keeping it personal (and intelligent)
Today’s consumer demands a more personal and omnichannel experience, but is also more aware of data security. They want businesses to speak to them about relevant products, and reject marketing based on inaccurate or poor data.
70% of millennials are in fact frustrated with brands sending irrelevant emails.
In order to create true engagement with customers, strategy needs to cover every aspect of planning and executing data-driven e-commerce marketing campaigns. Through strategic development with aligned objectives and close monitoring, each stage of the RACE framework is supported.
Unlock the best e-commerce marketing strategies to convert and engage more customers
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