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How to Market an eCommerce Site

Marketing eCommerce Sites

With ecommerce continuously taking over greater slices of the overall retail pie, it's no surprise to many that so many businesses are leaning heavier into the digital realm to sell their wears. Whether you're an established brand looking to build out a larger share of direct to consumer sales or a new business looking to rely solely on what business the internet can provide you, everyone wants to know the best way to market their ecommerce site in a way that is going to successfully introduce new people to their brands and drive sales.

With that in mind, let's consider what it actually takes to develop and execute an ecommerce marketing strategy:

  • You need to realize that an ecommerce site differs in its goals compared to a traditional, informational website.
  • You need to have a much more detailed understanding of your buyers and the journeys they take to ultimately purchase your product (or others out there).
  • You need to be able to harness 3 different types of marketing to catch people at different points in those journeys: intent-based, aspiration-based, and impulse-based marketing.

Let's dig in.

eCommerce Sites vs. Informational Sites

While there are plenty examples of ecommerce websites during the early stages of the internet, many people within marketing still work within a framework that lends itself to being more successful with informational websites - that is, websites that are meant to educate its readers and collect their information for future sales. Knowing this, it's important to clarify the differences between these two types of websites because it will greatly effect the way in which we approach the marketing of a site moving forward.

Informational Sites are:

  • Content-heavy
  • Focused on educating the reader in the information search stage of the buyer's journey
  • Judged based on lead generation

eCommerce Sites are:

  • Product-heavy, leaning more on visuals
  • Focused on educating the reader in the decision-making stage of the buyer's journey
  • Judged based on sales

Understanding Your Buyers & Their Journeys

No matter what you're marketing, you must understand who your main buyer personas are and what their journeys look like when it comes to searching for solutions, making purchases, and receiving value from them. While it makes sense to be as thorough as possible when documenting these two extremely important elements of your marketing foundation no matter what type of website you're ultimately marketing, the nature of ecommerce and its buyers demands that you consider a few very specific elements if you're to be successful in your activities moving forward.

Document & Verify Multiple Personas Based on Product/Service Use-Cases

Where more traditional marketing strategies for simpler business may require only a one or two buyer personas that should be targeted through your marketing efforts, ecommerce websites - especially those with multiple products - should consider a larger swath of personas/audiences in order to widen the opportunity for connection to and sales from markets. It's not enough to just consider who all you could sell to online though, you need to verify your opinions through consumer insights, website and advertising feedback/data, and overall sales numbers.

Get Detailed In Mapping Out Their Buyer's Journeys

For the most part, everyone's journey to searching for, purchasing, and utilizing a product or service (whether online or in person) is relatively the same:

  1. Unaware
  2. Problem Recognition
  3. Information Search
  4. Evaluation of Alternatives
  5. Purchase Decision
  6. Usage (First Time)
  7. Leverage Product/Service
  8. Achieve Value
  9. Refer and Renew

Quite clearly, marketing only really focused on stages 1-5 in many cases no matter the product or business type. Where ecommerce differs though is the amount of time that buyers spend in each of these stages and the number of actions that are taken during them. In many cases, ecommerce websites see buyers that move through the early stages of the buyer's journey much faster and rely heavily on more specific resources to help them ultimately make a purchasing decision. In order to be successful in marketing an ecommerce website, you need to know when to connect with your buyer, how much time you have to convince them to purchase, and what resources you need to either provide or be connected to in order to provide the right amount of value to close the deal.

For both items above, be sure to spend as much time possible in as many ways as possible collecting information direct from your customers so that you feel like you know exactly who you can and should be targeting as well as how to connect with them during their journey.

The 3 Types of Marketing To Consider

With a sound understanding of the differences between an informational website and an ecommerce site, as well as what level of detail you need to know your buyers and their journeys, harnessing the power of 3 main types of marketing will help you better promote your brand and products. Consider how intent-based, aspiration-based, and impulse-based marketing and promotion can help your ecommerce business:

Intent-Based Marketing

When people go online for a very specific reason and utilize tools like search engines and review sites, intent-based marketing allows you to target those who are showing their intent to purchase through their actions. Whether your utilizing organic means like targeting keywords related to intent-filled searches through content creation or paid means like utilizing Google Adwords to show up in those searches immediately, you can harness intent-based marketing tactics to show up as a solution for your buyers who are actively searching. Go a step further by taking this newfound information to help you map out your store's structure in a way that makes it very easy for people searching for this type of information to both find it and make a purchasing decision quickly after.

Aspiration-Based Marketing

Everyone has aspirations and values that they aim to live up to and these things drive where they spend their time online, what content they consume, and what brands they purchase from. Aspiration-based marketing allows you to connect your product and any promotional elements around it to the values and aspirations of your buyers so that you go beyond being just a product but instead become a tool to help them achieve a larger goal. Social media advertising, through its depth of knowledge surrounding its users, lends itself well to aspiration-based marketing but in reality, entire brands and their resources (websites, products, etc.) are built around this strategy in order to create a different type of connection with their consumers.

Impulse-Based Marketing

Whether its candy bars next to the checkout counter at the grocery store or suggested products on Amazon, impulse-based marketing looks to find the people and times in their journeys where they can be convinced to purchase a product that can quickly provide them value. Obviously, your product and brand must match this strategy since few people will impulsively purchase a thousand dollar product. Still, if you believe that your product mix allows for it, impulse-based marketing can be a great way to introduce yourself and your conversion-focused ecommerce website through targeted social and visual advertising.

Marketing your ecommerce site is in one way not unlike the marketing of any other site in the sense that you are looking to connect best with your buyers and their journeys through a conversion-focused digital presence. On the other hand, there are very specific elements that should be considered in very specific ways in order to crack the scalable code of ecommerce success. So long as you understand your conversion goals, harness the detailed knowledge of your digital buyers and how they interact with web stores, and then implement the best marketing strategy to connect in the right way at the right time, you'll find that success.


Have questions about how your ecommerce business should move forward in today's ever evolving environment? Check out our blog or just hit us up and we'd be happy to lend our expertise.

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