We recently talked about ecommerce marketing strategy as it’s the fundamental building block for your business’s success. You can try all the tactics you can think of, but without a solid strategy, you won’t get far.
Once you have a good strategy in place, you’ll want to create a basic ecommerce marketing plan. It doesn’t need to be long or complex. In fact, I’d argue it should be two A4 sheet max and be a working document that you continually update.
If you haven’t created a marketing plan for your ecommerce brand, don’t worry. You’re about to learn a simple way to build a basic ecommerce marketing plan that will help you drive new customers to your Shopify, WooCommerce, or Magento store.
It All Starts With Strategy
In its most basic form, strategy is the overarching plan. You should be able to answer the following question:
- Who can I best serve?
- What game do I want to play?
- How can I win at that game?
If you sell shoes, you might decide that you serve people who love to walk. You, therefore, want to become the place everyone thinks of when they want to buy walking boots.
The way to win is to stock the widest possible range of high-quality walking boots, produce lots of educational content for your website/social media, and have staff who care about and are knowledgeable about walking shoes.
With our strategy defined, what’s next? Tactics and then, campaigns.
Before we get going, create a basic ecommerce marketing plan document. Write your business name at the top. Next, write down your business strategy using the three questions above.
If you have a marketing budget in mind, include it under the strategy section. Don’t worry if you don’t as we will come to it in a future article.
Before we talk about target audiences and tactics, we need to set some goals. If you don’t know what success should look like, how will you know when you’ve achieved it?!
There are a million and two things you could measure. But that doesn’t mean you should. You should see KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) as a health check.
The first thing you probably do every morning is ask yourself, How do I feel today? The answer is either Great, OK, Bad, or Back to Bed! It doesn’t take more than a nanosecond to answer.
I see well-defined KPIs in the same way. You can answer them quickly using Yes or No, as the data doesn’t lie.
In terms of general KPIs, consider measuring revenue, profit, average time on website, and unique visitors each day. For each, set a figure you’d like to hit and measure if you do/don’t each day.
That’s how simple/difficult your ecommerce marketing KPIs should be.
Of course, you can write down your assumptions, such as we believe with 3,000 daily visitors, we can sell $5,000 worth of items with a profit of $1,500. For visitors to convert, they need to spend at least 3 minutes on the website.
By having top-line KPIs, you can quickly check if you are hitting expectations or not. From there, you can select 2 or 3 KPIs per digital marketing channel that break down these top-line figures even further and add context to the big picture.
In your basic ecommerce marketing plan document under your strategy, write down your top-line KPIs. You can use the marketing goals above.
Who You’re Targeting
We’ve talked about who your ideal customer is, but only in broad strokes. So, in this next section, you should detail who you’re targeting, and do so in-depth.
For example, say you own a Jewelry store. You might start by defining your target client as women who like fashion Jewelry. That’s an ok starting point. But you want to go deeper.
To get a better understanding of your target customer, ask yourself:
- What’s their typical age?
- How much do they earn?
- What music do they listen to?
- What magazines do they read?
- How do they spend their free time?
- Who do they want to be like?
The more probing questions you can ask yourself, the better. If you have plenty of customers, you’ll be able to observe them and start to create a list of characteristics. Next, you can group these into different customer buckets.
By knowing customers in detail, you can correctly market to them. If you don’t have clarity, you will waste money on marketing and pursue tactics that won’t provide the return on investment you need to run a profitable business.
The bad news is you can’t just do this once and have the intelligence you need to run a profitable business. Instead, spend time weekly talking with and observing your customers as this is the only way to ensure you know them and can see how the market is changing.
Introduction To Digital Marketing Tactics
Now for the exciting part! There are literally 1,000 different digital marketing tactics you can try. However, doesn’t mean you should! We’ll come to choosing the best ones for your ecommerce store in the next section.
We could try:
- Content marketing
- Social media
- Paid search
- Online PR
- Paid social
- Influencer marketing
- Paid adverts
- Customer-generated content
- SMS marketing
- In-person events
- Customer loyalty program
- Live chat
- Pop up store
There are a ton of tactics we could use in our basic ecommerce marketing plan. If you want to learn more about the marketing tactics you can use with your store, both Shopify and Cognitive SEO have some excellent guides.
Which Tactics Are Best To Use?
Without knowing some details about the type of store you run and the market you serve, it’s difficult to build a tactical marketing plan for you. That said, here is some general advice to get you thinking in the right direction.
For most stores running paid search adverts can drive new customers profitably within a few days. If you have a limited budget start with Google Adwords Shopping campaigns.
I love Google Shopping Ads as they are displayed first. They consist of a product image, title, store name, and price. They make it easy for the visitor to compare a few options and make a quick decision, and all without leaving Google.
Don’t run general pay-per-click (PPC) search ads just yet, as they can blow your budget quickly without much return. You can come back and include these ads in your paid search mix later when you have built some confidence and knowledge.
If you want to talk directly to your customers, emails are the way to go. You’ll see the highest return on investment possible. You can easily set up an email marketing campaign using MailChimp or Klaviyo.
There are a few mistakes that business and ecommerce store owners make. Be consistent with when you email. If you only have the time and resources to email once a month, ensure you always send on the same day and time.
Another big mistake I see is having too many offers in the email. Focus on providing a single enticing offer per email. It could be a new product range, a discount, end of season sale, or how to use a product better.
For some businesses, online PR can work wonders. You could employ a PR agency, spent a few hours a day answering HARO requests, or build links with journalists yourself.
It’s best to try and do something towards your PR efforts daily, whether that is adding an editor on LinkedIn, sending out media kits to publications, or answering PR requests. Don’t wait for press, make it happen!
You might think I’ve gone mad mentioning social media. Yes, reach is down and fewer people are using it to connect with brands. Plus, there seems to be a new platform launched daily. I get it, it’s a confusing mess!
It’s best to pick one or two social channels and master them, rather than trying to be on all. If you’re a B2C, try Facebook and TikTok. For a B2B, consider testing Linkedin and YouTube. You want to test both organic and paid social media tactics.
With social media, the game is to connect with loyal fans, who can in turn do some of your marketing for you. Keep your business’s social profiles up to date and active. Nothing says you don’t care more than a Twitter account that was last updated in 2018!
I’ve left SEO (Search Engine Optimization) to the end for a reason. It’s a long-term play, and so you won’t see results overnight. Plus, you might operate in a market with a few large competitors that have a sizeable SEO budget and team.
If you don’t have time to develop and implement a robust SEO strategy, focus on these three things.
First, optimize your category pages with a block of 150 to 200 words that are keyword rich and enticing.
Second, keep your URLs short. Even if you don’t have time to focus on your on-page SEO efforts, make it easy to remember and share URLs!
Third, post a weekly or monthly blog that targets a keyword related to your business. If you don’t fancy writing articles, work with a freelance writer. Think of the problems you solve with your products and create posts around that.
For example, if you sell watches, you could write “How to clean your watch”, “Do I need a watch winder”, “Is my Rolex authentic”, “How to sell your Swiss watch to a dealer”, “How to correctly size your watch strap”. You get the idea.
How To Arrange Tactics Into Campaigns
As you now have some digital tactics to try, start by writing 3 or 4 you will use now to drive customers. You want to include as much detail as possible for each tactic.
Next, try and arrange your tactics into campaigns. I think of marketing campaigns as defined events with a stated desired outcome and space for review at the end. For example, we’ll try email marketing for 6 months and expect to generate an extra $2,000 per month.
Another example. Let’s say we plan to run a blogging campaign. We will post a new blog weekly for 6 months (32 posts) that target a keyword with at least 100 searches per month and aim to rank in the top 3 within 6 weeks of launching a post.
We expect to add another 1,000 monthly visitors to our blog. It will result in 10 new customers per month and generate $2,000 in sales.
After 6 months, you can test your assumptions and see if the campaign performed as expected (or better/worse). From there, you can decide if you should continue with that tactic or not.
I know that’s a lot of information to understand. However, by using campaigns, you are locked in for a defined period allowing you to focus on a few tactics rather than taking a scattergun approach and switching every week.
So arrange your marketing tactics into campaigns with a defined time period, desired outcome, dedicated resources/budget, and state any assumptions you’ve made.
Building Your Basic Ecommerce Marketing Plan Document
By now, you have a pretty solid but basic ecommerce marketing plan. Here’s a recap of the structure your plan should follow. As a working document, keep it short and actionable; and update it often.
Start with your business name and who’s in charge of marketing.
The overarching plan that defines your business’s why. Ask yourself who can we best serve, what game do we want to play, and how can we win at it. Also, include a figure for you ecommerce marketing budget.
Next, define the metrics that will tell you if your digital marketing is successful. You only need 2 or 3 KPIs, but you should check them daily.
Go deep in this section to define who your ideal customer is. The more detail you have, the easier marketing to them becomes.
Digital marketing campaigns
List what marketing tactics you will use to reach potential customers in your target audience. You want to include how long will you run each tactic, what success looks like, the budget, and any assumptions you’ve made. Again the more details the better.
You don’t have to keep a note of when you last updated the document and what changes you made, but doing so will help you stay focused and hold you accountable.
What you learned
It’s worth having space at the end of your basic ecommerce marketing plan to record what you learned during the last month, quarter, and year. The most you test, learn, and apply, the better you’ll become at marketing your business.
When To Update Your Plan?
You should be updating your basic ecommerce marketing plan monthly and recording what you’ve learned. There’s no need to write an essay, just a short note.
As a working document, you want to be using it daily. It’s not something you create once and never open again!
How To Record What You Learn
If you want to get better at marketing and build a more comprehensive plan, you need to study the topic, test new ideas, and keep a record of what you learn. Without doing these things, you will fall behind.
So it’s worth keeping a record of what you’ve learned, the tests you’ve run, and anything you want to explore. Marketing doesn’t stand still, and nor should your basic ecommerce marketing plan! Next time, we’ll talk about how to determine your marketing budget.
You can have all of the marketing tactics in the world. But without the right ecommerce marketing strategy, you won't get the results you deserve.
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