E-commerce has swept the shopping scene. According to Statistica, e-commerce accounted for nearly 20% of retail sales worldwide in 2021. Estimates indicate that by 2025, these online stores will account for almost a quarter of total retail sales worldwide.
A significant factor in the growth of this online shopping modality was the COVID-19 pandemic. As individuals stayed home to avoid the virus, people turned their attention to online shopping. Census Bureau reported that ‘e-commerce sales increased by $244.2 billion or 43% in 2020, the first year of the pandemic, rising from $571.2 billion in 2019 to $815.4 billion in 2020.’
As the number of e-commerce stores has risen, the need to stand out against competitors has also increased. Considering that the e-commerce experience is virtual, digital marketing strategies are crucial to setting your brand apart from others. Implementing these three essential tactics is the best place to begin.
1. Personalized Outreach Campaigns
In 2020, CEO and founder Danielle Hixenbaugh started Bloom Digital, a fully remote digital marketing agency, and saw the impact personalized SMS campaigns had on consumers.
Hixenbaugh says, ‘Since COVID-19, I’ve noticed that significantly more customers are craving an emotional connection to a purchase. Many of these individuals are the ones who will show up on your SMS lists. This is because SMS is intimate. Your SMS list is made up of individuals who really want to hear from you and be informed about upcoming discounts or new products. Use this tool wisely, and speak to your audience as you would speak with a friend.’
Email campaigns are another personal way to invest in clients, particularly for brands with a smaller marketing budget. While some customers may say they don’t want to be emailed, the data shows otherwise. According to Litmus, the e-commerce industry has the highest ROI for email marketing. For every $1 marketers spend on email marketing, they receive $45 in return.
2. Loyalty Programs
A recent survey by CommerceNext, in partnership with CommX, studied 118 digital marketing and e-commerce executives. Results revealed that a top priority of these executives is the creation of loyalty programs that will build more meaningful customer relationships. Over half of the participants indicated that they were planning to expand or launch loyalty programs in 2022.
For brands that want to increase their buyers’ loyalty, Zsuzsa Kecsmar suggests focusing on the emotional aspect of loyalty programs. Kecsmar is the CMO and Co-founder of Antavo, a loyalty technology provider that recently published its 2022 Global Customer Loyalty Report. This study used the survey responses of over 320 global corporate individuals, as well as data from more than 25 million member actions on Antava’s platform, to highlight the importance of emotional appeal in loyalty programs.
‘In an age where customers have access to a huge selection of web shops and retailers, a brand has to catch customers by the heart and not the wallet because discounts are now less effective than rewards that have an emotional component to them,’ says Kecsmar. ‘In our survey, only 20.7% of existing program owners classified their program as more emotional than rational, while 53.6% of companies in the process of launching or relaunching their program specified that their program would be more emotional than rational, signaling that in the future, much more loyalty programs will focus on generating emotional loyalty.’
Kecsmar adds, ‘It’s worth highlighting that emotional loyalty isn’t a zero-sum game. You can still have transactional elements, like coupons and collection in your loyalty program — just remember to add a couple of features and rewards that emphasize emotional attachment.’
3. Optimizing Content for SEO
No matter the size of your company or budget, SEO is a cost-effective digital marketing strategy that allows you to connect with your audience. A website optimized for SEO also serves as a valuable tool for creating brand awareness, boosting engagement, and feeding your other marketing channels.
If you are wondering where to start when it comes to SEO, consider the content you already have. Among marketers, ‘content is king’ is a familiar phrase. Alex Valencia, President and Director of Business Development at We Do Web, even refers to content as the ‘backbone’ of an SEO strategy.
Keep your content quality, relevant, and fresh. These factors are critical because they can affect how Google’s algorithms will rank your webpage. The higher your ranking, the more prospective clients will see your valuable content, and the more they will relate to your brand.
‘The quality of the content you create and where it surfaces online plays a large part in the success of your larger marketing strategy,’ says Valencia. ‘Each piece of content offers users an opportunity to know your brand, engage with your offer and, hopefully, convert into a paying client or customer. With this in mind, your content should be at the forefront of your marketing plan, not an afterthought. And, in short, a siloed approach ensures your content is on-topic and relevant to the audience you are aiming to reach.’
Implementing these three tactics can help boost your digital marketing efforts, and help you grow your e-commerce business. As traditional marketing shifts, consumers are valuing experiences above all else. Remember to personalize your campaigns, reward current customers with reward programs, and optimize your content for search engines. As customers become aware of your presence and value your customer-driven approach, you’ll see your efforts convert to sales.