Definition: Ecommerce marketing is the process of driving sales by raising awareness about an online store's brand and product offerings. Digital marketing for ecommerce applies traditional marketing principles to a multichannel, data-driven environment.

Ecommerce marketing can be divided into two general actions: driving website traffic and optimizing the user experience for conversion. Both are critical components to growing an online business — failure in one is all but sure to undermine any success in the other. Seasoned marketers can thrive in a digital landscape, starting with a solid foundation of common terms.

Ecommerce Marketing Channels

  • Pay-per-click Advertising (PPC): Effective PPC campaigns drive users with intent to purchase, making it more efficient than many traditional advertising platforms. Businesses bid on impressions for paid listings at the top of search engine results, paying on a per-click basis. Impressions are determined by user search query, with strategy revolving around which keyword bids yield the highest ROI.
  • Search Engine Marketing (SEM): Sometimes used a synonym for PPC, referring to paid advertising campaigns. SEM is often used to describe efforts on Google's AdWords platform and paid platforms on other search engines, such as Bing. This multifaceted term is also used by many marketers to describe all paid and organic efforts.
  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO): Unlike the paid media opportunities described above, SEO traffic comes from unpaid "organic" results on search engines such as Google and Yahoo. Successful SEO requires adherence to best practices on a product page level in tandem with content creation, inbound links, social media engagement, and many other factors that search engine algorithms take into consideration.
  • Display Advertising: Banners, sidebars and other predominantly-visual advertisements that appear on other websites. Display ads are facilitated by ad networks such as Google Display Network.
  • Affiliate Marketing: Referrals from other websites with industry or product-focused content such as reviews, comparisons, and testimonials. Successful affiliates have a loyal following or receive traffic from some of the above channels. They typically receive a set commission of referred sales, often determined on a case-by-case basis.
  • Email Marketing: Newsletters, abandoned cart notifications and remarketing all use email to target past and potential customers.

Ecommerce Marketing terms

  • Google AdWords: Google's advertising platform pioneered the PPC model and capitalizes on the company's majority share of the search market.
  • Search Engine Results Page (SERP): The cumulative results from users executing a search engine query, comprising organic and paid listings. Having results on the first page of SERPs is critical to acquiring new customers.
  • Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO): The process of improving every aspect of a website so that more visitors purchase. Faster load times, fewer clicks to purchase and more enticing product descriptions/images make it easier for user's to evaluate your products and follow through to The most common metric for evaluating CRO efforts is conversion rate.
  • Conversion Funnel: The steps taken by a prospect to become a customer, beginning with awareness and ending with a purchase. Higher-priced items generally have a longer sales cycle, while low-cost items can convert in a much shorter period of time.

Keeping up with ecommerce marketing trends

All industries evolve, but online marketing tends to mature at warp speed. Search engines and advertising platforms are constantly changing their requirements, rules, and algorithms that determine results. As such, it's very important to stay abreast of major changes. Some extremely successful SEO tactics, for example, can become liabilities overnight. As Google and other search engines refine their algorithms to deliver the highest-quality results, it's critical to monitor these developments and make sure your store is compliant.

Conversely, algorithm updates can also offer opportunities. Hummingbird increased the importance of semantic search, allowing SEOs to rely less on exact-match keywords. Less stringent keyword requirements leads to more creativity, and high-ranking product results today are not as reliant on inclusion of precise product keywords. Other updates have favored websites with quality informational content, increasing the importance — and opportunity — of utilizing blogs, buying guides, and other forms of content.

Bigcommerce is the leading ecommerce platform for growing and mid-market retailers.

Learn more:
1. Visit our commerce blog
2. See our best-in-class features
3. Request a demo

Try Bigcommerce free for 15 days and see what plan is right for you
Start free trial
High-volume or established business? Call for a demo. 1-866-581-4549

Start your free trialHigh-volume or established business? Call for a demo.1-866-581-4549