The Rise of eCommerce Marketing After COVID-19

Use eCommerce marketing to take advantage of the growing population of regular online shoppers, while avoiding the pitfalls of this digital transformation.

As news of the COVID-19 pandemic spread almost as fast as the coronavirus itself, governments started encouraging people and businesses to take social distancing measures. Soon after, even the brick-and-mortar businesses that didn’t have to close their doors, often cut hours to reduce the risks to staff and customers. Both businesses and customers have experienced dramatic changes in a very short time. Still, this sudden shift in shopping behavior has allowed eCommerce to boom.

How does the COVID-19 crisis impact eCommerce marketing?

As with all crises, some dramatic changes are likely to remain permanent. For instance, business reliance upon eCommerce marketing had already grown at a steady pace. During the pandemic, buying and selling online suddenly spiked. These growth figures come from the Salesforce Global Shopping Index for the first quarter of 2020:

  • Traffic growth: 16%
  • Digital commerce growth: 20%
  • Individual shopper growth: 4%

Certainly, marketers expect eCommerce growth over time. Still, these figures from the first quarter of 2020 surpassed the 2019 holiday season, which was considered a productive one. When compared to last year, home goods increased by 51 percent. Active apparel grew by 34% and toys by 31%. Such essential goods as food and personal care items spiked up 200 percent.

Is the rise of eCommerce marketing permanent?

Each holiday season attracts new eCommerce business. As new shoppers get introduced to online shopping or at least, shopping at new sites, the first quarter has always surpassed the first quarter for the previous year. However, analysts don’t necessarily expect as much activity in the first quarter as occurred during the holiday season.

According to CIO Magazine’s report on the impact of COVID-19 on consumer behavior and eCommerce marketing, none of this is temporary. They believe that the current crisis will create the sort of emotional bookmark that 911 and Pearl Harbor did. Some of these rapidly upset routines will cause people to revaluate and change behaviors long after the crisis has passed.

To support this assertion, consider new research from the Capgemini Research Institute:

  • Before the coronavirus pandemic, 59 percent of consumers reported a lot of interaction with brick-and-mortar stores. Just about a quarter of consumers said they expected to frequent stores as much afterwards.
  • Within the next six or nine months, less than 40 percent of consumers said that they expected to return to previous levels of visiting physical outlets.
  • Before the pandemic, about 30 percent of consumers reported a high level of engagement with online stores; however, 37 percent now report this behavior.

In other words, consumers anticipate shopping online more and in physical stores less.

Will the eCommerce boom end physical stores?

Because of these survey results, Capgemini analysts agreed with CIO’s assessment that this bump in online spending would continue even after the crisis ends. At the same time, even the Amazon marketing agency doesn’t want to see local, physical stores vanish.

For instance, Amazon purchased Whole Foods and opened outlets to give their customers a better experience. Prime subscriptions offer customers the choice to either save money online or inside a store. People can see, touch, and even smell products. Customers also can choose in-store pickup for deliveries, an option that has proven increasingly popular with other omnichannel outlets.

Capgemini also doesn’t expect physical stores to vanish; however, shoppers may have higher expectations in the future. It’s intuitive to predict that survey respondents said they would pay more attention to sanitization issues in stores. They also said that they would be more likely to patronize physical or online businesses that communicated a strong sense of purpose and a commitment to sustainability. Customers will return to stores. At the same time, they may visit stores less and be much pickier about which ones they choose to frequent.

Vital eCommerce marketing tips

Ecommerce marketing may enjoy a boom because of the coronavirus. At the same time, even businesses with existing eCommerce platforms have to overcome some obstacles:

  • Pre-coronavirus, many businesses focused mostly or solely upon foot traffic and have had to abruptly change their strategy to include eCommerce marketing. This increases competition for keywords, consumer attention, and of course, online revenue. While an established eCommerce brand will enjoy some advantages, they may not entirely overcome the budgets of large companies that need to rev up online marketing fast.
  • As CIO Magazine ironically phrased it, the digital transformation wasn’t entirely prepared for the digital transformation. Some platforms could not handle the sudden and unexpected surge to “Black Friday” traffic levels. Very commonly, retailers suffered because of supply chain disruptions and inefficiencies. Many simply didn’t have the processes and manpower in place to handle the extra business. Even Amazon had to slow down delivery of non-essential items to ensure essential products moved to their destinations quickly.

With these obstacles in mind, these essential eCommerce marketing tips can help companies survive and thrive through the current crisis and beyond:

  • Shore up supply chains: You can’t make good inventory decisions without good information. Contact manufacturers or distributors to understand how they’re coping and what you can expect from them. Hedge your bets by finding alternative suppliers.
  • Communicate with customers: Just as you want your suppliers to keep you in the loop, your customers want to know if they can rely upon you to provide them with excellent service and reliable deliveries. These days, people also want to feel good about doing business with you by knowing that you’re striving to improve safety for them and employees. Let people know how well you’re doing through emails, your website, and social media.
  • Revisit your understanding of customer needs: You may believe your business understood your customer very well before the crisis; however, your customers’ situations and needs have changed as abruptly as your company’s have. For example, many beauty products companies started adding hand sanitizer to their product line to help meet customer demand.
  • Understand that customers may spend more time at home: If your customers are suddenly forced to spend more time alone and at home, you may profit by freshening up your products to appeal to them. For example, Son of a Sailor used to concentrate on selling jewelry and other fashion accessories. They’ve added a new “Boredom Busters” section to their site to appeal to the stay-at-home crowd.
  • Make smart advertising choices: Choices you make about PPC bids and other advertising can always make the difference between great returns and poor ones. It’s more important than ever to make certain you’re tracking the right metrics and planning advertising campaigns that support your business goals. On the other hand, some kinds of eCommerce businesses have found advertising costs have dropped somewhat because their competitors have reduced budgets.
  • Address technical and security concerns with your site: Of course, a better time to address any technical or security issues with your site would have been before the crisis. Still, these things don’t tend to fix themselves. The investment you make in faster loading times and solid security features will put your business in a better position to attract customers now and keep them in the future.

Additional eCommerce tips to help your online business thrive during coronavirus

You may have more concerns about simple survival right now than about rapidly expanding in the future. Still, these actions that you can take to give customers a better impression of your brand will increase revenues in ways that will benefit you now and later.

Let your customers know you value their business

These days, eCommerce sites have enjoyed plenty of success attracting new customers and waking up old ones with generous promotional offers. This can work especially well if you believe your typical customers may have cut back on spending because of their own economic uncertainty. More than ever, consumers want to find good value.

Also, with the understanding that it’s almost always cheaper to retain a loyal customer than to find a new one, consider creating or revamping loyalty programs. Some examples of suggestions for improving a loyalty program to respond to the current crisis came from Antavo, a loyalty management platform:

  • Consider extending the dates on expired points. As an example, CVS, just did this with their CVS Bucks program. Of course, they also sent out an email to let customers know about their generosity.
  • Consider making rewards a little easier to redeem, and in particular, offer good rewards to incentivize customers to join your program and to help you meet other sales goals.

Show customers you care about their communities

Even before this current crisis, savvy marketers understood how giving back to communities helped them improve brand recognition, reputation, and even revenue. For instance, plenty of distilleries have begun producing hand sanitizer to give away. Patagonia, the clothing retailer, sends a percentage of profits to environmental causes.

Some businesses may believe the pandemic has strained their budgets too much to consider adding charitable donations. Maybe it’s time to consider the buy-to-give or other incentive models. For example:

  • TOMS built its shoe and eyewear business by giving away a product for every product purchased.
  • AmazonSmile donates a percentage of qualified sales to charities designated by the customer.
  • You could also select some charities and allow customers to add an extra dollar or two at checkout.
  • Instead of sending excess inventory to the virtual bargain basement or even discarding it, consider donating it.

The long-term outlook for post-coronavirus eCommerce

Social distancing measures have abruptly reduced or even eliminated revenue for many physical businesses. In response, both retailers and consumers have turned to the internet for buying and selling. While the pandemic may have generated an abrupt surge in online shopping, eCommerce marketing analysts expect the trend to continue after the crisis has passed. More people will grow accustomed to the convenience and value, plus some will remain reluctant to spend much time in local shops after they open. While eCommerce stores can expect more opportunities, they also need to overcome a number of challenges. Some sensible improvements to marketing, technology, and business processes can also help to overcome these.

Read More

ECommerce Website Management and Marketing After COVID-19

Read why eCommerce is booming during the coronavirus, and how businesses can retain those customers after the crisis passes.

During these days of the coronavirus outbreak, you might have a hard time picturing a return to normal business conditions. Still, you can already see signs that preventative measures have begun to flatten the curve and even turn it around. Doctors and scientists have remained optimistic that they can devise better treatments and effective vaccines rapidly. Hopefully soon, people can start to resume normal activities and companies can reopen their doors.

Still, most marketers expect at least some of the dramatic changes to consumer behavior to last. More specifically, one sector of the economy, eCommerce, has boomed. With that in mind, it’s important to address eCommerce management and marketing strategies that will ensure that you can retain the gains you may have made for a long time after the coronavirus crisis passes.

How has eCommerce marketing fared during the coronavirus outbreak?

To understand how rapidly eCommerce has grown, take a look at one particular segment, food and beverages. According to eMarketer, they had previously forecasted eCommerce sales for food and beverages would increase during 2020. The pre-coronavirus forecasts predicted growth of over 23 percent and over $32 billion in revenues for the year. While eCommerce had only accounted for 3.2 percent of all receipts in this market,  they had suggested food and beverage as an example of a segment of eCommerce niche without much current penetration and plenty of room for growth. 

Before the crisis, retailers marketing on Amazon may have also enjoyed brisk growth because of the way the largest online retailer had improved logistics to provide quick deliveries. Even though Amazon ranks first in overall eCommerce, it is not the only source of food and beverage. In fact, a large segment of that market also goes to grocers and independent direct-to-consumer companies.

In any case, you should inform yourself by looking at the surge during the first months of coronavirus stay-at-home orders:

  • Just within the three days between March 12 and March 15, a comparison of that same time period from last year showed that orders in that sector boomed by over 200 percent.
  • Another survey sampled the time period between March 1 and March 25, and found 183-percent growth.
  • A poll of consumer behavior between March 1 and March 25 found that American adults reported increasing their online grocery shopping from about 11 percent to 37 percent. Even more, eMarketer reported that shopping online grew steadily more common each week by the middle of March.

Will marketing my product online continue to grow after the coronavirus?

Obviously, people have increasingly turned to eCommerce because they want to avoid crowded grocery stores during the crisis. Also, some retailers have limited hours or even temporarily closed, so consumers need a convenient alternative. Still, you can look at past consumer behavior to predict that many of these consumers will continue to shop online after the outbreak.

Predictably, eCommerce spending has surged during the last quarter of each year. Still, it doesn’t die down after the holiday season ends to the the previous first-quarter levels. Multiple-year charts look more like an ascending staircase than like a series of peaks and valleys. During successive years, sales will surge again the next fourth quarter to even higher levels than the year before. This suggests that once consumers get used to shopping online, they tend to keep the habit.

Which eCommerce website management and marketing strategies will help you retain customers after the coronavirus?

Certainly, shoppers will still return to retail outlets after the crisis passes. At the same time, it’s fair to predict that they will also continue to spend more money online than they did before the pandemic. Even if consumers just switched out the equivalent of one out of ten of their normal shopping trips for an online order, it would have a tremendous impact on eCommerce growth.

Of course, you may have plenty of online competition in your niche and cannot guarantee that all of the customers you attracted during the outbreak will return to your business. These eCommerce marketing suggestions can help you retain more of your customers now and in the future:

Subscription orders

If you’ve done any consumable marketing on Amazon, Shopify, or even your own eCommerce site, you’ve probably run into subscription orders. You often see them for such consumer goods as coffee and dog food, and they let customers create a recurring order every month, typically at a discount. Such DTC companies as Dollar Shave Club and Blue Apron also rely upon the subscription model. They tend to work particularly well in such categories as food, pet food, and beauty.

According to McKinsey Research, the overall subscription market has increased by 100 percent a year, and about 15 percent of all consumers say they have used subscriptions for convenient, repeat ordering at least one time. The model particularly appears to appeal to younger adults who live in urban areas and earn at least $50,000 a year.

Consumers who take advantage of subscription purchases say they enjoy the convenience and value; however, they also say they’re quick to cancel if they don’t receive high-quality service and products. If you decide to offer subscription ordering, you need to make certain that you have the good products and services in place to sustain it.

Loyalty programs

Adding a loyalty program to your eCommerce marketing plan provides you with another way to entice customers to return. Typically, these programs offer such rewards as points to accumulate for free products, discounts, or notification of special promotions. Some companies even give their customers extra points for mentioning their products on their social networks or for providing reviews. If you add a referral program to your loyalty program, you can even encourage your current customers to mention your business to their friends.

Provide flexible customer service options

Recently, a lot of businesses have made their return or cancellation policies more flexible to help their customers out during the current crisis. This adjustment can also give your business a way to make certain that you keep consumers delighted, and even when they’re not, you will have a way to learn about issues and try to correct them. Even though you may adjust your return or cancellation policies now to accommodate uncertain customers, you may decide that your flexibility will also help you retain them in the future. 

You have probably noted that large eCommerce sites like Amazon usually offer a variety of shipping options. For instance, patient shoppers may even get free shipping if they choose a slower option. Customers with urgent needs can opt to spend more for expedited shipping. You might also consider adding promotions that offer more free shipping options for orders over a certain amount, or you can even make that a perk of your loyalty program.

Build a high-quality subscriber messaging list

In the old days, eCommerce marketing companies would have simply called this an email list. These days, you might also consider giving customers the option to choose text messages over emails. Even though most people already receive a lot of messages from businesses and probably don’t read most of them, that’s not true for some companies.

Plenty of businesses can boast that their customers look forward to receiving their communications because they work hard to offer value in exchange for attention. The more you can personalize these lists, the better chance you will have of having customers who perceive your communication as valuable too. For example, you might send special promotions for coffee grinders to customers who have already ordered or at least browsed your unground coffee bean selection. You could direct the offers for tea infusers to customers who have purchased your leaf tea.

Since a subscriber list can prove such a valuable way to retain customers, you may consider offering some perks to entice people to join. For example, you could offer a one-time coupon that entitles your new subscriber to a discounted purchase or upgraded shipping.

Why develop better plans for eCommerce marketing?

Steps you take today to improve your eCommerce website management and marketing can help you enjoy your share of the current eCommerce boom. Once this crisis has passed, your improvements should also help you retain and attract more online shoppers in the future.

Read More

How DTC Can Pivot Media Plans for the Rest of 2020

DTC retailers have been affected by COVID-19. Pivoting your 2020 marketing plan using e-commerce, data, and direct sales platforms will help you recover.

By the Middle of March, AdWeek published the sobering news that DTC stores had been among some of the first retailers to close because of the coronavirus crisis. At the same time, these companies’ rationale for closing may point to strengths — and not weaknesses — with many of the brands. To develop an effective media plan for DTC brands, you might consider some of the strongest examples in the industry and how they coped even when retailers had to close. 

Rethinking the media plan for DTC brands for post-crisis 2020

Adweek’s take on early closings by such DTC retailers as Glossier, Warby Parker, and Allbirds contained some encouraging insights. These companies did not necessarily lock their physical stores because they struggled more than typical retailers. Instead, many of them believed they could ride out the storm without brick-and-mortar outlets because they had already developed a strong online presence. In fact, some DTC retailers only sell online or at least, began with e-commerce marketing before establishing brick-and-mortar stores. In this time of crisis, they could simply return to their roots.

Pivoting e-commerce marketing strategies after the coronavirus crisis

To develop your plan for DTC marketing after coronavirus, it could help to consider the example of one very young company and then, consider some advice for the industry as a whole.

Success through infrastructure, data, and innovative direct sales platforms

Zak Normandin founded Iris Nova, a soft drink company that sold offline through its own retail stores and the hospitality industry. Normandin spoke about remaining unafraid to pivot his marketing strategy, and how this alleviated sales losses during the past couple of weeks after many of his offline channels lost business or closed.

Now backed by Coca-Cola, Normandin first gained attention with the novel tactic of marketing more through text messaging than web platforms. ‘In fact, customers can directly order crates of beverages through SMS. With more people staying home, demand for home delivery has increased and this ordering method appears increasingly popular with the company’s customer base.

The company does have financial challenges because of the loss of retail business, but Normandid says that he’s thankful that they had already invested heavily in brand awareness, marketing intelligence, and technology for their mobile direct ordering system. As an example, they’ve also developed retail technology they used for their own cashless store. Even though they needed to shutter the store during the coronavirus crisis, they can use this tech to generate additional revenue in partnership with other companies.

Digital DTC marketing trends for during and after the coronavirus crisis

Jerome Shimizu co-founded DoGood Media and serves as its chief data and analytics officer. He observed that stay-at-home measures have made consumers increasingly dependent upon direct orders. At the same time, lots of legacy companies have failed to keep up with this model. He mentioned that more old-fashioned businesses could benefit by looking at the ways newer players, like Iris Nova, have developed their online customer base.

It’s also a good time to make certain brand messaging expresses sympathy to the stress many customers have experienced during the crisis. As an example, McDonald’s had a chance to procure at least an extra million masks to donate to healthcare workers when it ordered protective supplies for its own employees. This act of enlightened self-interest helped the company improve their brand image as a good employer and community member.

For a DTC example, look at Brands X Better. A couple of dozen DTC brands, including Clean Simple Eats, Boll and Branch, and Harrow Sports, have teamed up together to commit a percentage of sales to a charity effort. These individual brands all cooperate to donate money and promote the effort. In turn, the website also helps promote the companies. The message on the Brands X Better site tells visitors that by buying from these brands, they can help support worthy causes and of course, keep the companies in business and employees at their jobs. 

It’s already time to develop e-commerce marketing for after the coronavirus

As demonstrated by these examples, your ability to weather the current crisis and bounce back stronger afterwards depends upon the actions you can take now to respond. You might also need to remain flexible in the way you meet consumer demand, even though you have to make drastic changes to your original marketing and advertising plans for the year.

A strong e-commerce platform and online audience can help carry you through times of weaker offline, retail sales. During the crisis, lots of consumers have turned to online ordering, so you just need to let them know you’ve made that available for them. You may even find sales boosted by consumers who are more likely to order for home delivery than to travel to a retail outlet right now. To build your brand imagine, consider actions and marketing that can demonstrate how well you adjusted and strove to help protect your employees and your community. In some cases, you may even find it easier to stretch limited resources if you can find other like-minded companies to partner with.

Read More

CPG Digital Marketing: Top Trends and Tips for Your Brand

Most people still associate consumer packaged goods, or CPG, with items sold on the shelves of grocery, drug, and discount stores – but the category is actually much broader. 

CPG refers to the kinds of packaged products that people consume and need to replenish, like coffee, dog food, and soap. Historically, limited space on store shelves drove much of the competitiveness in the market. More recently, CPG digital marketing has offered companies the chance to grow beyond the limitations of physical space and sometimes, even to capture a larger share of that. Find out more about e-commerce digital marketing trends for CPGs and how this information can help inform your marketing.

CPG Digital Marketing Trends and Consumer Preferences

Most people still buy their packaged products in local stores. At the same time, online demand has been growing every year, as demonstrated by these consumer products marketing trends from IRI, an online sales insight service:

  • Online CGP sales grew by over 34 percent in 2018 alone.
  • Online revenue accounted for 11 percent of total consumer packed goods sales.
  • Even more interesting, internet sales of consumer packaged goods made up 64 percent to the total market growth for both offline and online revenue.

Which Platforms Sell the Most Consumer Packaged Goods?

Besides sales numbers, it’s also informative to see what sorts of platforms most of these sales came from. According to IRI, over half of the sales came from internet-only retailers. Some of the largest examples include such online grocery stores as FreshDirect and Peapod. CGP digital marketing from the websites of mostly brick-and-mortar stores produced about one-quarter of the sales. Companies that directly sell their own products have a smaller but rapidly growing share.

How is DTC Marketing Impacting Sales and Growth?

Because of the loss of many retail outlets, manufacturers have recently struggled even more for a share of physical store space. To make up for this loss, they have increasingly bypassed traditional retailers in order to connect directly with consumers. According to the Shopify blog, direct-to-consumer, or DTC marketing, has accounted for 40 percent of sales growth in the market.

Direct marketing has done more than help established CPG manufacturers offset slowdowns in their traditional selling channels. It’s also launched such purely DTC marketing brands as Dollar Shave Club and The Honest Company. In some cases, new brands have begun their lives online, found success, and then made their way into retail stores. For example, Deliciou is an Australian company that markets their packaged seasoning blends online but has also recently found shelf space inside such large U.S. retailers as Whole Foods.

What CPGs Do Shoppers Buy the Most?

What kinds of packaged products do people buy online the most? In general, people most commonly turn to the internet to order non-food items. More specifically, vitamin supplements, pet supplies and food, and skin care products, and coffee have enjoyed brisk online sales. Also, shoppers have increasingly begun to turn to online retailers for more sensitive purchases. As an example, the demand for adult incontinence products boomed by 84 percent in the past year. Consumers turn to internet ordering and delivery options for convenience in sometimes, for privacy.

What Drives Consumers to Choose Online CPG Retailers?

An IRI consumer survey asked online shoppers what options they looked for in e-ecommerce stores. They survey takers could select more than one option. The survey found:

  • Free delivery motivated over half of respondents to purchase online.
  • Almost half said that if the delivery isn’t free, it should be reasonably fast.
  • Four out of ten of these online shoppers also liked in-store pickup options.
  • About one-third of the survey takers would consider subscription services that automatically sent supplies periodically, typically at a discount over just ordering one time.
  • According to the survey, online shoppers also want to find online retailers who will offer them good deals. Over half plan to search for discounts and coupons and use various sites to compare prices.

Using CPG Marketing Trends to Inform Your Marketing Strategy

Right now, online sales of CGP make up a relatively small but rapidly growing share of the overall market. They can help producers offset increased competition for retail store space through online sales. In some cases, e-commerce marketing can even help new brands get established by making online sales and even getting enough brand recognition to earn coveted slots at brick-and-mortar stores. Now that you understand the benefits of selling CPG online, you can explore ways to get consumers to buy products online that they still may be used to picking up at the grocery store.

SEM Marketing for Consumer Packaged Products

Just as it’s important to leverage good product placement in stores, you can use search engine marketing to put your brands directly in front of customers. Both for paid and organic SEM marketing for consumer goods, you need to make certain that you rise to the top for the sorts of terms that searchers are likely to use for products like yours.

For instance, shoppers might not know to look for your brand of hypoallergenic soap or organic, fair-trade coffee, but instead, they may search for those terms or specific problems your product might solve. To optimize your web pages, make certain you research the kinds of search terms consumers might try. Use those terms to optimize your headings, descriptions, and content. In addition, you should try to build your e-commerce shop’s authority by encouraging high-quality incoming links from other relevant websites. For example, you might seek reviews on blogs, issue press releases, or get listed in high-quality directories.

Besides organic search, CPG manufacturers have spent millions of dollars on paid search marketing, according to Search Engine Land. One standard tactic consists of promoting useful content related to their brands. For instance, a packaged food manufacturer might create simple recipes that feature their products. Colgate found success by producing oral health information that related to diabetes. If you find that the direct keywords for your product are too difficult to ranks for in either paid or organic search, you might consider researching some relevant topics that are still interesting to people who might buy your products.

SMM Marketing for Consumer Products

Today’s consumers often learn about products from social media. Social sites can also help you express your brand personality and connect with consumers in a way that helps them identify with your brand. Gartner found that almost nine out of ten companies focus upon delivering a memorable customer service. In a market like consumer packaged goods, when products may seem like interchangeable commodities at first glance, your social presence can provide the key to helping your brand stand out.

SMM marketing also lets you target specific demographics that reflect your buyer persona. For instance, mothers drive a good share of consumer packaged good spending. Moms also login to Facebook about 10 times a day and make up a large part of the audience for Instagram, Pinterest, and other social sites. If you want to target mothers or many other groups, social media marketing can offer you the right audience. If you use the social site’s advertising platform, it will give you the ability to tune your e-commerce digital targeting very well.

For social sites, experiment with a variety of advertising formats and posts. Videos and graphics tend to capture attention, but you may also want to use text sometimes for testimonials, ingredients, or other useful content. Try to showcase your brand’s personality, and certainly, respond to customers when they post questions or comments about your products, ads, or posts.

Even though you should focus heavily on your call to action, you should try to provide plenty of content that will interest customers in a way that doesn’t always seem like selling. Social sites provide a good platform to spotlight your company’s commitment to worthy causes, how your products solve problems, and even your customers. If you’re selling ketchup, dishwashing soap, or lotion, you need to make certain people remember your brand positively, and your social media can help you do that.

Consider Multiple Channels

Customers tend to research online, if they eventually purchase at an e-commerce site or at a local store. Some manufacturers worried about cannibalizing offline sales when they first considered online sales. Many have found that instead of hurting brick-and-mortar revenue, the additional exposure has actually improved demand and even helped them leverage better visibility on physical shelves, besides providing additional revenue through internet purchases. Some companies began purely online and eventually made their way into stores because of their brand recognition.

A recent BrandShop survey found that today’s over 80 percent of consumers expect to have the option to shop when they visit a brand’s website. About the same percentage of survey takers said they’d shop at their favorite brand’s site if they could. For many products, they also like to take advantage of convenient options to have consumables delivered on a monthly schedule.

If you’re going to promote your company and your business website, you might as well give customers the option to purchase there instead of forcing them to find a retailer or distributor. This also lets you take more control over your customer’s experience and also, gather more data on their shopping behavior.

Why Embrace E-Commerce for Consumer Packaged Goods?

With consumer packaged goods, e-commerce is where the growth lies. The exposure, brand differentiation, and extra sales you make online can even help you compete for better placement offline. You’re also not at the mercy of retailers for shelf space and perhaps as important, control of the customer experience and consumer information.

Read More

10 Essential Digital Marketing Tips for Your E-Commerce Store

No matter what you sell from your e-commerce shop, you have a great opportunity to grow your business – follow these steps to gain a competitive edge.

Amazon, the world’s e-commerce leader, enjoyed over $280 billion in revenue during 2019, a 20-percent increase from the prior year. Even much smaller, independent digital shops can do very well with the right e-commerce marketing strategy. For instance, Shopify powers over half a million e-commerce stores, with over $40 billion in sales and an average yearly growth rate of 74 percent.

New or established, large or small, these e-commerce and Shopify marketing tips will help bring more customers to your virtual front door and keep making purchases once they have found you.

Ten effective e-commerce marketing strategies to grow your online business

The success of established online stores should offer you encouragement. On the other hand, you should also understand that you’re going to need to compete with other digital vendors for attention and dollars. To do that, you first need to make sure people know what you’re selling and why they should choose your e-commerce shop over another source. Some of you may also offer new or unique products, so you’ll also need to introduce an audience to the value of whatever you’re selling.

Once you’ve achieved some brand and product recognition, you will also probably have to keep testing and refining your e-commerce digital marketing to enjoy continued growth. In that way, you should view digital marketing as more of an evolving process than as something you can just set and forget. Good e-commerce marketing can take considerable effort. In the end, your effective marketing strategies will also help you enjoy the competitive edge that will help you stand out, profit, and grow.

If you’re just getting started or haven’t enjoyed the success you hoped for, consider trying these 10 e-commerce marketing strategies:

1. Create Buying Guides

These days, consumers spend time researching purchases online. You could engage online shoppers with helpful content that helps people find the perfect gift for their dad, which air fryer features are worth the money, or types of swimming suits that flatter various kinds of bodies.

Whatever you’re selling, people certainly have questions about it. Position yourself as the expert and make shoppers aware of your store by posting helpful buying guides on your social sites, website, and digital store. Besides buying guides, you might also create useful guides to using or caring for various products. For instance, you might sell heirloom seeds and could offer seasonal planting guides or even recipes. This sort of helpful content can improve your marketing and your customer service.

2. Host Giveaways, Contests, and Quizzes

You might think it’s counterintuitive to increase sales by giving things away. At the same time, giveaways give you a chance to spark interest in your brand and hopefully, get some positive feedback from lucky winners. Quizzes, giveaways, and contests can also give you a chance to build your subscription list by capturing names and email address. You can also use quizzes to gather marketing information and target your offers and communications to specific interests. Obviously, you should try to tailor any of these events to the type of audience you hope to attract as customers.

3. Offer Promos, Coupons, and Discounts

Offering limited-time promotions for some or all of your products can have a profound psychological effect on consumers, according to Psychology Today. The article mentioned that with newer and weaker brands, shorter and more urgent calls to action more effectively overcome buyer’s resistance. Stronger and more established sellers may profit more by extending their sales longer. As with other marketing, you might need to test your limited-time offers to see which promotions and durations provide you with the best results.

Also, you can use these limited-time sales as content to promote on your store, blog, and social media. Be certain to encourage your audience to share your coupons and promo codes with their own social circles. Even if one person isn’t in the market for something, they might think of a friend who is.

4. Convert First-Time Buyers into Repeat Buyers

Attracting repeat buyers can help you maximize the returns that you will enjoy from your e-commerce store marketing budget. The sooner you can convert first-time purchasers into loyal customers, the more you can profit. If you offer consumable goods, you might start off by offering a substantial discount or perk for people who take advantage of your offer to send your items by periodic subscriptions. Such consumable items as soap, razor blades, and coffee do very well with this sort of marketing plan. Make certain that you clearly demonstrate the savings that subscription purchasers will enjoy on the order page.

5. Encourage Testimonials and Reviews

Plenty of successful online stores encourage reviews and testimonials from their customers. They may even go so far as offering a gift card or special discount code in exchange for posting a review on a product or service page. It’s even more helpful if the review form encourages the reviewer to share their feedback on their own social media pages. Either way, today’s online shoppers do use reviews to help inform purchases and even a mix of great and not-so-great reviews may look more credible than a page with no reviews at all.

6. Practice Enlightened Self Interest

By associating your brand with a worthy charity you can help improve your community and your positive brand recognition. Figure out what kinds of causes your audience is likely to value and lend your support. One recent study found that Millennials, for example, are even likely to spend more on purchases when they associate the company with worthy causes that they also support.

Also, some charities will help promote their sponsors by mentioning the company on a sponsor page or in a newsletter. Your sponsorship of worthy causes also gives you more content for your social media, blogs, and email or text subscribers. That way, subscribers don’t always associate your communication with just selling.

7. Get Customers to Return to Abandoned Shopping Carts

Lots of digital marketers do everything well in order to attract customers to their e-commerce store and get them to select items to purchase. At the same time, many marketers estimate they suffer very high rates of abandoned shopping carts. In other words, the customer does everything but actually pay for their purchase.

Use built-in features to remind these customers of the deal they’re missing out on and perhaps, even send them an additional incentive in the form of a limited-time discount or free shipping offer. It’s also a good idea to send people with abandoned shopping carts the contact information for customer service, so you can see if there’s some problem that kept the shopper from buying. Perhaps the potential customer was surprised by the shipping rates or wanted another payment option, and that’s information you should learn.

8. Build Subscription Lists

Some online shops offer new subscribers a discount to encourage customers and visitors to give permission to add their email or cell phone number to an email or text subscription list. This additional discount may also entice some shoppers to take advantage of their discount by making a purchase.

Beyond just offering a financial incentive, let shop visitors know that they can also expect value out of their subscription. For instance, you might tell subscribers they will be the first to know about sales or even have the chance to get special offers. These days, lots of people get bombarded by so much digital communication that they’re wary of giving out their contact information, so you need to impress your site visitors with the value you will offer.

9. Use Subscription Lists Wisely

Again, most people get a lot of emails that they don’t read or even send directly to their SPAM folders. Believe it or not, some e-commerce stores have customers who look forward to getting their communications. You need to invest some effort to attract subscribers in the first place, so you want to make certain that you satisfy expectations by always providing value when you do send out emails or texts. As much as possible, try to personalize communication, so you have the best chance to engage your audience. Take particular care with your subject lines to let people know that you’ve written something that is worth their time to read.

10. Build Customer Loyalty

Customer loyalty programs will offer your e-commerce store a variety of benefits that you can translate into profits. It’s almost always cheaper and easier to entice a satisfied customer to buy again than to attract a brand-new customer. That means that your customer service needs to be considered part of your marketing as much as any incentives you offer for repeat purchases.

Beyond just encouraging customers to return to your shop, you can also create a brand ambassador program to motivate your current customers to spread the word about your products or services. Word-of-mouth advertising by your loyal customers can provide you with the most cost-effective kind of marketing, so you should definitely consider ways to encourage it.

As an added benefit, a loyalty program can help you better track customer behavior, and you can use that information to tailor your offerings and communication.

Is that all there is to e-commerce marketing?

For e-commerce or even more specifically, Shopify marketing, you might find almost as many effective tactics as you can find online stores. For example, this article did not touch upon such offline marketing methods as signs, popup shops, and event tables. It also took for granted that you have already created a website, blog, and/or social pages. It also assumed that you had designed an easy-to-navigate, attractive shop and offered high-quality products and great customer service. The best choice of e-commerce marketing strategies may very well depend upon your intended market, budget, competition, comfort with various tactics, and what you’ve already tried.

Read More

DTC vs. Retail: How Brands Win with a Blended Approach

In a world of customized placement, your DTC brand needs to be omni-channel, which is why a proper DTC marketing plan is so critical.

Direct-to-consumer (DTC) brands are riding a sustained growth wave. It’s estimated there are more than 400 significant brands now in this category, while DTC web traffic is growing 100%  year over year. This growth is being supported by performance-based DTC marketing plans.

Don’t think top retailers haven’t noticed. Nordstrom, Sephora, and other industry heavyweights are working overtime to entice emerging DTC brands into the retail space by offering a range of incentives.

One example: Bloomingdale’s Carousel concept, which allows DTC sellers to set up rotating pop-up shops within the storied retailer’s brick and mortar environs.

Yet, as DTC brands would be the first to tell you, this kind of relationship doesn’t come without substantial tradeoffs.

Winning with a blended approach

Wholesale retailers, always eager for trendy, differentiated offerings, have been busy integrating DTC brands at a rapid clip. There’s no question that such relationships offer very real benefits for these brands. A DTC marketing plan that provides proper placement in Nordstrom or Bloomingdale’s can expose DTC products to much wider audiences.

Partnering with an esteemed wholesale retailer also gives newer DTC brands instant cachet and credibility. For a largely unknown brand, an association with a retail heavyweight can be extraordinarily valuable.

Yet these benefits are also somewhat mitigated by the demands DTC brands are facing. Given their reach and capacity, it’s not surprising that large retailers want to get DTC brands in front of a sizable number of their customers. Yet these brands are often ill-prepared to scale up to accommodate placement at 50 stores.

Large retailers also exert a very high degree of control over product strategy and operations. DTC brands that are accustomed to exerting full control over how their products and services are presented and marketed may balk at relinquishing that control. Much of the storytelling, creative messaging or flair associated with DTC brands may be suppressed when these products are presented and marketed by a larger retailer with different sensibilities and prerogatives.

So how do DTC brands thread the needle?

Many of today’s most successful DTC brands have been squaring this circle by pursuing a blended approach. They make wholesale retailers a part of their omni-channel strategy, but only on their terms.

If retailers push DTC brands to scale too early, they resist. If DTC brands believe their messaging is being polluted by clumsy or irrelevant retail marketing, they speak up.

Most importantly, these DTC brands don’t cede control over their narrative. They may be hitching a ride on a larger, faster and more visible ship, but they remain the undisputed captain of their fate.

Looking for a DTC marketing boost?

Attractive and eye-catching product and packaging design is a virtual pre-requisite for successful DTC brands. Luckily for you we’re experts in this field. Whether you need assistance with product design, performance-based advertising and marketing strategies or branding services, we have the necessary expertise to deliver the goods.

Contact Bigeye today for more information about how we can help take your DTC marketing plan to the next level. 

Read More