Your product gets you in the door, but your marketing strategy is what closes deals. The modern consumer has near infinite choice AND the ability to move away from your offering with nothing more than a mouse click. In order to succeed, you need the right e-commerce marketing strategy for your business. Here are five best practices that you can depend on.

Focus on the Right KPIs

Your key performance indicators are a telling sign of where your business is currently. You may not be in a position to prioritize your conversion rates or your average order value (AOV) without the proper visibility from your target market.

Here are a few KPIs that Shopify recommends:

  • Average order size: the average order size tells you how much a customer typically spends on a single order.
  • Customer lifetime value (CLV): this metric tells you how much a customer is worth to your business over the course of their relationship with your brand.
  • Churn rate: the churn rate tells you when your customer will expire. Churn rates give you insight into how quickly customers are leaving your brand.
  • New customer orders vs. returning customer orders: this metric will provide a comparison between new and returning customers. In addition to a comparison, it can give you a deeper understanding of customer acquisition and customer retention strategies are fairing.
  • Shopping cart abandonment rate: the shopping cart abandonment rate tells you how many customers are adding items to their shopping car without checking out. This metric can help you optimize the customer experience. For example, you might discover that there is too much friction the checkout process if your rate is high.
  • Customer acquisition cost (CAC): this is the amount you spend on acquiring a new customer.

Before you implement any marketing strategy, make sure that it is geared toward improving the KPIs that matter most to your business. In general, you want to give your products and your overall brand some time to gain traction on an e-commerce platform before you switch to revenue-based performance metrics. This also gives you a chance to test the platform itself, which leads right into our next best practice.

Compare Platforms

Are you relying on one e-commerce platform to sell everything for you? If you are experiencing low sales or visibility, you may simply be marketing on the wrong platform. This is especially true in niche-based industries with customers who tend to go to trusted platforms rather than simply searching out products through general queries. One of the variables that you test should be the platforms that you use.

The experts at Forbes recommend that you first get your digital assets organized and build a digital library.

the best advice for brands juggling their multi-channel strategies is to make sure they have their digital assets as organized as possible.

Here's the list of assets they recommend:

  • Product photos, including studio shoot and customer submitted photos
  • Marketing language, including calls-to-action (CTAs) and product descriptions
  • Customer feedback and testimonials that serve as concrete proof of your satisfied customers

Once you have your assets in place, you can start expanding on them to build your digital library so that you are able to:

  • Establish uniformity across platforms
  • Showcase your best visual content and product reviews
  • Streamline time consuming processes by pushing out the same assets across all platforms

Put your products up on three or four platforms to start. Compare how they do with similar marketing strategies. You should also take a look at the web reports of the platforms to understand the demographics that naturally find their way there.

Great Pictures

Once your customers find their way to your product page, there is absolutely nothing more important to the sale than taking a great picture. Consider your own buying habits in this instance: Would you trust a seller without the wherewithal to take a good picture of a product? Or would you gravitate naturally to the listing that has great-looking pictures? You should make it easy for your customers to purchase from you. Your picture is the first impression you give to your customer. If it is not done to the best of your ability, then it will probably be the last impression.

Here are a few tips from the marketing pros at Hubspot:

  1. It's okay to use your smartphone camera. Smartphones now have 12MP and 13MP lenses with many "temperature" settings that enable you to optimize your shots.
  2. Shoot from a tripod for photo consistency. Establish a standardized look for your photos by using a tripod.
  3. Natural Light vs. Artificial Light: Pick One. Keeping in theme with the previous tip, you should stick to one type of light. However, keep in mind that some products will look better in one vs. the other.
  4. Emphasize your product with a sweep or portrait mode. The first step in determining whether you'd like to use sweep or portrait mode is to consider white background or a real-world background. Try both to see which option favors your product and capture's your customers' attention.

Optimized Descriptions

When you do business on an e-commerce platform, you are actually catering to two audiences — your human audience and the internal search algorithm of the platform. Unless you are a known brand, your new prospects will most likely find you through a platform search. They will not be looking for your brand name; they will be looking for general product names. An optimized listing is your chance to get to the top of the search query. As you probably guessed, listings at the top gain more click-throughs. As such, they gain more visibility on the engine and conversions down the road.

Optimizing your product description may be different for each platform that you choose. Take the time to look over the directions that each platform gives so that you will know exactly what to do for best results. Do not assume that optimizing for general search is the same as optimizing for e-commerce. For example, Amazon and Google have some techniques that are diametrically opposed to each other. Take the time to read the internal documents. This may be the difference between your success on the platform and your stagnation.

Marketing Automation

Once you have all of your on-page optimization complete, you need to begin your outreach program. True, most of your new prospects will find your products through internal searches at first. Down the line, your brand should become more recognizable. You will get to this point faster if you automate the appropriate parts of your marketing campaign.

In general, lead generation efforts can be automated without losing their personal touch. Find the balance between scaling your marketing efforts and using technology to segment your prospect base into audiences that you can market to in a particular way. Make sure that you are obeying the rules of backlinking for the e-commerce platform that you have chosen. Some platforms will punish your listing if you backlink to your product page from an email, for example. Again, reading the internal documents will save you a great deal of trouble.

Getting the e-commerce game right is a challenge that will always be changing. Keep your ear to the ground for the latest tips.

You will need to look to new platforms, new technologies and new techniques on a consistent basis in order to win. However, these five best practices should get you started on the right foot.

  1. Get a vision of your KPIs
  2. Choose the right platforms to market on
  3. Take great pictures
  4. Write great descriptions
  5. Automate everything that you possibly can!