Digital Marketing Tactics

16 eCommerce Marketing Tips to Help you Scale

Let's recap 2021's season of Optily Radio and the 16 expert takeaways from each episode.

Last year we launched the first season of Optily Radio: Accelerate eCommerce Marketing and had some amazing guests share their insights. While we definitely can’t recommend listening to them enough as you plan your new 2022 strategies, we’ll give you a refresher on the main takeaways and expert tips in this article.

While you plan your new Shopify marketing activation, expanding into new social media channels, or honing in on new paid opportunities, keep these 16 eCommerce marketing tips in mind to ensure growth in the new year.

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1. Relying on single-channel ad data is risky

Brendan Hughes, Optily CEO, cautioned against using just one platform’s information to make decisions. Of course, if you’re only running ads on one platform, then you’re fine. In most cases, we have ads running on Facebook, Google, Instagram, TikTok and more. 

If you’re just relying on each individual channel to report on it’s own success, you’re going to get misleading results when it comes to attribution in marketing.

“They’re not lying to you,” Brendan insisted, “They don’t understand what else is happening on a customer’s path to purchase outside of their own platform. So, either by using something like Google Analytics or an attribution solution like Optily, [eliminate the double counting], so that you’re in a better position to understand where to invest.”

Attribution is a tough nut to crack for marketers, but in his episode Brendan goes into some tactics that he’s found success with in his two decades in eCommerce and marketing.

2. Use structured data to boost your SEO

Google likes sites that are clearly organized and make it easy for the crawlers to figure out what’s going on. If your site is friendly to Google, chances are Google will be friendly to your site. 

Barry Schwartz, Co-Founder of Rusty Brick, told us that structured data helps the search engines to know what type of data is on your site which can help SEO over time, but will help visibility in the short term.

“Even if you’re in [search] position 5, you’ll probably get more clicks if you have rich results,” said Barry. “Structured data is a really great way to see a big bang for your buck, without influencing rankings directly, but having a better click-through rate.”

So even if your ranking doesn’t change at all after you structure your data, your carousels or images might make your site much more attractive to click on. 

Which of these recipes do you reckon gets more clicks overall?

3. Update Google Shopping products that have no clicks

If you’re in the online retail space, chances are you’re on Google Shopping. Kirk Williams of ZATO Marketing is a goldmine of information when it comes to making the most of this powerful online catalog. One of the key tips he shared with us on the show was to refresh products that haven’t generated any clicks.

These products are probably just as good as the rest, but Google has just forgotten about them a bit. Kirk suggested downloading these products from your Google Merchant Center and giving them a new custom label. Then launch a Smart Shopping campaign with just these zero-click products in the inventory.

If you leave things as they are, Google will keep prioritizing your ad budget to the best performing products, not giving the other a chance to prove themselves. “Google basically does the best they can with the budget that they have,” said Kirk. “Almost every time we’ve ever done this in an account, it’s incrementally raised sales — it hasn’t just stolen [sales from other products]. It’s a good little way to get Google focused on products that they weren’t normally thinking about.”

4. Make the most of Google My Business

Greg Sterling of Uberall highlighted how key convenience is becoming, even with online shopping. While we may not think that local shopping is important when we ship across the whole country, having a local physical presence can do wonders for visibility and sales.

Fleshing out your Google My Business, which is a completely free tool, is a good way to start. While you may not have a customer-facing storefront, you can still put a face to the name and brand up your virtual storefront. However, if you are in a position to offer click and collect options for local buyers or small pop-ups at local outlet stores, Greg suggests taking this opportunity to be both physical and digital.

5. Don’t neglect your FAQs

Kelly Vaughn, Founder of the Taproom, a Shopify Plus development agency, stresses the importance of really spending time on your FAQs. If you don’t have a questions section already, make it your priority to get one up as soon as possible.

If you do already have one, do an audit and make sure it’s as good as it can be. “Review the questions you currently have on there and compare them to what your customers are asking via email or support or social media,” Kelly says.

Talk to your sales and customer service teams and make sure they have input into what goes on this page. After all, they’re the ones answering calls and emails full of questions all day. 

Lastly, Kelly highly recommends adding the question “What do I do if my question wasn’t answered here?” Here you can put your contact information and customers can easily get in touch with you if they have another concern.

6. Use the marketing funnel when planning your campaigns

A topic very close to our hearts here at Optily is the marketing funnel. Akvile DeFazio, Founder of the social media agency AKvertise, wholeheartedly agrees about the positive impact a proper marketing funnel can have on a campaign.

At its foundation, the idea behind a marketing funnel is to not show the same message to audiences who are at different stages. Someone who is only now hearing about your product and brand is not in the same mindset as someone who has already bought from you three times this year.

Targeting a wide audience with messaging that is meant for immediate sales is a good way to burn through your advertising budget too. Akvile says, “I often tell people, ‘Don’t run a conversion campaign for a prospecting audience; you’re going to pay more and you’re not going to get the results.’”

7. Look beyond Google and Facebook for advertising

Of course these two giants have a huge reach and are extremely powerful when you want to grow your eCommerce business. However, it’s really important to remember that people visit way more than just these two sites. Joe Martinez of Paid Media Pros on YouTube wants vendors to keep in mind that there are tons of other platforms out there that have unique targeting capabilities for very specific niches.

TikTok, Snapchat, and Reddit are especially powerful in reaching these unique audiences in spaces that are simply not as busy.  Trying to shout over all the other brands on Facebook and Instagram can get really difficult and pricey. Joe suggests just putting a Pixel on your site and doing some discovery. See if your audience is on these more alternative spaces first, before you even spend a dollar of your advertising budget.

“Get in front of where your target audience actually likes to be, not where you think you should be just based on the overall world population,” Joe insisted.

8. Keep an eye on your ads and have a QA system in place

Brand safety is a big one when it comes to ads. Just take a look at this gem from a McDonald’s display ad that showed up next to an unfortunately on-theme news article…

Jon Kagan of 9rooftops pointed out that keeping an eye on your ads is not only good at preventing awkwardness when it comes to ad placement, but can also save a ton on your ad spend overall.

He had one client that simply had ads running continuously without much oversight. Turned out they were showing up on a bunch of children’s gaming sites–needless to say 6-year-olds were not the target demographic for nutritional supplements. Keep an eye on where your ads are showing and you can save face and dollars.

9. Tailor your experience to your own users

Not every site is going to work for everyone, which means you really need to spend time getting to know your specific audience and how they navigate through the web.  Navah Hopkins, formerly of Justuno, pointed out the value in figuring out the specific motivations behind customer behavior and tailoring your experience to that.

“Think about your customer personas, leverage your data, and build experiences that you would enjoy interacting with. When you build with your customers in mind and when you segment into those personas and target them with the right messaging–whether it’s ads, your landing page, or email–you’ll be able to succeed,” Navah said.

10. Focus on storytelling when presenting your marketing data

Data analysis is a key part of marketing and can really help back up important business decisions. However, Michel Guillet of Salesloft reminded us to be aware that oftentimes less is more when it comes to data. 

As with almost everything in marketing, it’s really important to keep your audience in mind. Even though your analytics visuals and reports are going to be internal, you still need to be conscious of time available and skill level. Tailoring your reports and data visualizations around a specific narrative can really help illustrate a point clearly.

Michel pointed out that more often than not, three metrics are more powerful than thirty. He went on to quote Cicero who said, “If I had more time, I would have written a shorter letter.” 

11. Don’t cut corners if you’re looking to scale

Tom Baker, CEO of FordeBaker, cautioned against taking shortcuts for immediate gains that might come back to bite you later on. Specifically, he spoke about using any kind of review manipulation on Amazon to quickly give your store a boost from fake reviews. Later on, as the eCommerce giant clamps down heavily against this kind of behavior, your store could be in hot water if it’s discovered that you were involved.

“Amazon’s not a ‘get rich quick’ thing,” said Tom. ”If you think that way, you’re going to make the wrong decisions.” He encourages playing the long game and setting yourself up for long-term growth and looking at the big picture.

12. Invest in finding out what makes your audience tick

Charles Chy of MindCartAI, stressed the importance of knowing your audience at a fundamental level. Not just what sites they visit and what their broad interests are, but what type of messaging they respond to. 

Whether you suss this out through traditional A/B testing of landing pages, market research, or with mind-type analysis, you need to hone in on the kind of language your specific audience responds to. Whether that’s facts and hard figures, an emotional appeal, or a mixture of both, find out which approach works best and run with it.

“All marketing starts with a fundamental understanding of your customer,” said Charles. “If you understand who your customers are, what they care about, integrate that into the core of your marketing execution, and you give it time, the results will follow.”

13. Identify what makes your product unique

Standing out in the crowded Amazon ecosystem is tough work. Emma Schermer Tamir of Marketing by Emma highlighted the value in differentiating yourself from your competitors. While you may be a new brand entering the market against the big guys who’ve got thousands of reviews, you can still stand out with a unique element that you push forward.

That being said, an established brand shouldn’t get too comfortable just because they’re well-positioned now.  “If you don’t also figure out this differentiation piece, then eventually you are going to be losing some ground to these companies that really are committed to figuring that out,” commented Emma.

14. Take the time to do ample research

In the same vein as getting to know your audience in depth and figure out what makes your product and company unique, Daniel Lipinski, CEO of Outfund, noted how important it is to take the time to do adequate research.  In a lot of start-ups and SMEs it’s a very “go, go, go” type of environment that doesn’t necessarily naturally lend itself to enough time for reflection and strategy.

Now is a great time to take a pause and evaluate what worked in the past year, what could use some improvement, and what solutions are out there to help you work smarter.  Daniel pointed out that, “There’s a whole community directed towards eCommerce and online businesses for them to succeed.”

While there are plenty of technologies and solution providers out there, it is key to recognize that they won’t all work well for all businesses. Take the time to figure out which solutions will work best for your business and budget.

15. Start the year with a business operating system

Taking inspiration from Gino Wickman’s book “Traction: Get a Grip on Your Business,” Chase Clymer of Electric Eye said this approach really changed the way he runs his agency. “Understanding when things are actually issues, how to plan appropriately, and how to make true business decisions for your North Stars are things that some people don’t realize they need help with until they understand the impact they can have,” said Chase.

January is the perfect time to do a bit of an internal audit and figure out what processes need some tuning up. Then you set up a game plan and work much more efficiently throughout the rest of the year.

16. Set up a long-term roadmap

Our final tip comes from Robert Rand of JetRails. He reminded us that the secret sauce is “there is no secret sauce.” Each company is going to have its own unique set of challenges and avenues for growth. There is no “one size fits all” strategy for eCommerce. 

Robert stressed the importance of focusing on the long game, “It is really about having that strategic plan for the next few years, understanding where you want to be, and reverse engineering what that’s going to take.”

A lot of what you can do now strategically to prepare for long-term growth is to mitigate potential problems you can foresee. For example, if your best case scenario is to achieve a certain very high amount of traffic during the holiday season, you better make sure that your site is able to handle that amount of volume well in advance.

Conclusion

These 16 guests all had much more to say in their 30-minute episode with me and various members of the team on Optily Radio. We’re looking forward to a new season of the show coming back in Spring. Until then, keep up-to-date with digital marketing trends, news, and expert tips by following us on social media at @OptilyGlobal.

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