Building and Executing a Successful Ecommerce Marketing Plan

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Choose the Right Ecommerce Platform

Ecommerce marketing is the practice of driving top-of-funnel traffic to convert into sales and new customers — and there are many ways to go about it. 

From focusing on organic traffic and SEO to using Facebook or Google ads to drive targeted traffic, you can mix and match paid strategies with non-paid strategies, all to figure out which marketing mix converts the most people.

However, marketing campaigns are never static. As marketing tactics and marketplace algorithms evolve, so too must your plan to gain the highest return on ad spend and operating costs associated with non-paid growth strategies like SEO.

In a constantly changing and increasingly competitive environment, you need to make a concerted effort to increase sales at your online store. A lack of determination is why revenue goals aren't met for many businesses. With the U.S. retail ecommerce revenue slated to hit $1.3 trillion by 2025, you don't want to miss the boat.

How to Build an Ecommerce Marketing Plan

As you’re laying the groundwork for your ecommerce future, go through the following exercises while writing your business plan to ensure that your methods and strategy are well thought out and will stand the test of time.

Executive summary.

An executive summary is critical to an ecommerce marketing plan as it provides a broad overview of the project that is easily disseminated to leaders and decision-makers within your business. 

The executive summary should summarize the key points of your strategy, including its overall purpose, desired results and project recommendations.

Goals and objectives.

Make your goals and objectives clear and specific. Once you begin to execute, there’s no shame in amending your goals if they turn out to be too low or too high.

Eventually, your primary focus should be on creating realistic, attainable goals before setting stretch goals to motivate yourself or your team.

Mission statement and value proposition.

When building an ecommerce marketing plan, you must be able to answer the following basic questions:

  • What’s the purpose of this company?
  • What do you do?
  • What don’t you do?

Not all companies need a philanthropic element to the business, but there needs to be a clear mission and value proposition.

Target customers, personas and markets.

Know your audience. If you don’t have a clear understanding of who you’re targeting, what characteristics define them and their location, you’re bound to run inefficient campaigns that waste money targeting low-converting, unqualified individuals.

Make sure to know the following:

  • Age ranges.
  • Gender breakdown.
  • Geographic location.
  • Purchasing power.
  • Online shopping habits. 

Situation analysis.

Make sure to perform a thorough assessment of the company's current state, your user experience, the competition and the overall marketing plan.

Leave no stone unturned. A better understanding of your current situation will lead to better decision-making and, eventually, better results.

Pricing and positioning strategy.

Do your research. Ensure your pricing and positioning provides real value to your target audience and increase customer loyalty. Forcing new products upon your target customers that they deem overpriced is a losing proposition, especially when modern price comparison is effortless.

There will be opportunities for testing and refinement throughout your product’s lifecycle, but by doing a little more work upfront, you’ll be better off in the long run.

Distribution and fulfillment plan.

Even if you’re starting small, you should have a clear understanding of the distribution and order fulfillment requirements that will evolve as you grow.

Whether you are packing and shipping yourself, overseeing a small team, or leveraging a third-party fulfillment shop, you need to know whether your fulfillment processes can meet the demand of your upcoming marketing push.

After you’ve written your plans, make sure to spend time tweaking, refining and evolving them over time.

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Executing an Ecommerce Marketing Plan

By this point, you should have a clear understanding of the subtle nuances that define your business.

If you’re a small business, or even an online retailer, this is when you start laying the groundwork for future growth, and if you’re more established, this is how you expedite your growth trajectory:

Determine your sales and lead generation strategy.

Because this is where the one-size-fits-all answers stop, you will need to get creative. The number of ways to market your business is potentially endless. 

Even though the enormous list of digital marketing buzzwords can make your head spin, we'll highlight the strategies and marketing tools that have proven track records of results and some newer strategies to consider.

Imagine a sales funnel graphic that shows your customers' path from Awareness to Interest to Desire to Action. Each stage in this process should include notes about the specific marketing strategies you'll employ to usher potential customers through that funnel.

At the top of the funnel, you'll see ecommerce brand awareness-building strategies that don't often produce immediate conversions — like posting organic social content or programmatic display ads. At the bottom, you'll see Google search network advertisements, Instagram retargeting ads and direct email communication.

As a marketer, you'll want to consider the primary purpose of every campaign strategy you employ and where it fits in your funnel.

Get technology and reporting software.

Before you make a serious marketing push, you must be able to answer the following questions:

  • Is the technology I’m currently using to track the effectiveness of my marketing efforts adequate?
  • Can it be used to determine whether or not the KPIs I’m seeking to improve are improving?
  • Will it help our team accurately determine the ROI of our actions?

As mentioned earlier, the sheer number of marketing channels continues to rise, and the tools you’re using to track that information need to be sufficient.

A few great tools to consider are:

Start with conversions.

Within your lead generation and sales funnel plan, there should be specific bottom of the funnel strategies designed to get customers over the finish line. Roll out these campaigns first to generate sales and build positive momentum.  

At the end of the day, conversion rates are amongst the most valuable statistics for an ecommerce business, and understanding them is critical to the long-term success of your business. 

Test the waters.

Allocate part of your ecommerce marketing budget to test new strategies. After all, you’ll never know what works well and what doesn’t until you try it.

Depending on your budget, running some simple test cases in smaller markets can provide you with the ammunition you need to justify a budget increase, validate your prior recommendations and/or open the door to an entirely new market opportunity

Refine and expand your ecommerce marketing strategy.

Once you have seen positive momentum, you are ready to refine and expand your ecommerce marketing strategy. By now, you should have a good understanding of what's working, what needs improvement, and what opportunities exist. 

Therefore, refine and ramp up your initial strategies by increasing your budget and scaling up. Here. is where you can get even more creative.

Some strategies to consider are:

  • Joint Ventures and Partnerships: Complementary brands have found success through partnerships. You can co-create content that exposes both brands to each other's email lists or bundle a curated holiday gift package across several brands. When the brands align, both brands benefit.
  • Increase Average Order Value (AOV): Once you've grown into consistent sales, it is time to increase the average order value. Tier your discount codes to incentive larger purchases or offer expedited shipping for orders 50% higher than your current AOV.
  • Referrals: Offer current and loyal customers the opportunity to refer a friend and reap the rewards. If your customer experience is a pleasant one, your customer base could become an army of brand advocates.
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The Final Word

Crafting a well-thought-out ecommerce marketing plan may seem daunting.

However, the wealth of strategies and channels that can help drive online sales is enormous and continuing to grow. While you may be tempted to go off to the races, intentionality is critical when you first begin developing an ecommerce marketing strategy.

Make sure you have a deep understanding of your product and the demand for your product, and don’t be afraid to make assumptions — so long as you test them.

Ecommerce marketers may feel like kids in a candy ecommerce store, trying to decide which new flavors to try today. As long as you’re organized, detail-oriented and willing to learn, it’s hard to go wrong.

FAQs for Ecommerce Marketing

What is ecommerce marketing?

Ecommerce marketing is the practice of driving top-of-funnel traffic to convert into sales and customers. 

To put it plainly, ecommerce marketers use channels such as digital content, search engine results and social media platforms to attract customers to their ecommerce site and entice them to purchase their products.

What are some important ecommerce marketing terms?

The following are ecommerce marketing terms that are critical to understanding and executing a successful ecommerce marketing strategy: 

Personas:

Personas are profiles or groups of people who share similar behavior characteristics when purchasing products or services. They can be represented through filters like:

  • Age. 
  • Gender. 
  • Location. 
  • Purchasing power. 

Understanding the motivations behind your potential customers can help you tailor your marketing strategies accordingly. 

ROI:

Return on investment (ROI) is a time-proven performance method of measuring and evaluating the efficiency or profitability of an investment. Essentially, how much money are you making back for each plan, strategy or purchase. 

When crafting an ecommerce marketing strategy, look at examples of different plans used in the past. What was successful? What was not? A reliable method of measuring success is by reviewing their ultimate ROI.  

KPI:

Key performance indicators (KPI) is a type of metric used to compare a company or plan’s current performance relative to a goal. If your goal is to hit a certain revenue goal over a year, how far are you from that goal and what does it take to achieve it?

KPIs are an essential tool for measuring the progress and success of the best ecommerce marketing strategies. 

ROAS:

Return on Ads spend (ROAS) is a marketing metric that measures the efficacy of a digital advertising campaign. ROAS helps businesses evaluate which advertising methods are bringing people to their ecommerce website and which of these website visitors are converting.  

It is similar to ROI in that it measures the return on your investment but is tailored specifically towards ad spending.

Should I hire an in-house team or a marketing agency?

Deciding to hire in-house versus an outside marketing agency isn’t an easy decision, nor is it a universal one. 

  • Can an agency accelerate your growth trajectory, while keeping costs down? Yes. 
  • Can an in-house team produce similar results, while maintaining broader ownership of your marketing strategies? It’s absolutely possible. 

Depending on where you fall, either option could work well, but there are several factors to consider before making this decision: 

  1. What are my primary marketing needs? Are they focused enough for an in-house employee to manage and execute?
  2. How much money can we allocate towards either route?
  3. Can we (and should we) hire enough full-time employees to match what an agency can offer in skills and expertise?
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What are the different marketing channels to consider?

Different marketing channels are opening every day as massive networks like Google, Amazon and Facebook continue to offer unique ways to reach customers and attract more advertising dollars. 

When crafting a marketing plan, the following channels may be best suited to help drive ecommerce sales:  

  • Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising: An internet advertising model in which an advertiser pays a publisher each time an ad is clicked. PPC ads include Paid Search Ads, Display Ads and Product Listing Ads — all measured using metrics like click-through rates (CTR).
  • Search engine optimization (SEO): The process of implementing strategies and techniques to achieve higher ranks in search engine results
  • Content marketing: A strategic marketing approach that involves creating and distributing a range of content, mostly online. Good content marketing can increase customer loyalty and customer retention.
  • Influencer marketing: When companies partner with influencers to increase brand awareness or conversions among a specific target audience.
  • Social media marketing: The process of leveraging social media networks to interact with prospects and ultimately increase traffic and sales to a website. This is accomplished by using proprietary advertising programs such as Facebook Ads., Google Shopping and more. 
  • Email marketing: An online marketing channel that engages prospects at various stages of the funnel, engaging and maintaining their interest via ecommerce marketing tips, notifications and individualized subject lines. Because of its versatile nature, email is a vital tool for online retailers who want to stay top of mind with consumers.
  • Affiliate marketing: The process of an ecommerce platform paying a commission to an external website for any sales generated from their referral traffic. Checkouts are tracked via affiliate links, which can be implemented using various affiliate and loyalty programs.
  • Local marketing: The process of optimizing your website and online advertising to help drive foot traffic and awareness in local regions.

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