How To Create An eCommerce Digital Marketing Strategy

Updated: Jan 11

Often, when we think of strategy, we think of something abstract- a black box of sorts into which data goes and decisions come out. However, a sound marketing strategy is simply the culmination of experience, qualitative insights, and data, to come to conclusions that benefit your business.

As an eCommerce business owner, you are already aware of what your business stands for, who it caters to, and how to plan for sales spurts and lull periods in any given period of time. Moreover, if you have been using the Shoptimize growth platform, you also have access to data and analytics on buyer behavior, and customer engagement with your website.

Now, with the festive season almost here, it is time to build your digital marketing strategy. This article will help you do just that. Digital Marketing and eCommerce: What To Consider

Typically, retail businesses rely heavily on marketing as a way to drive sales. A digital marketer working with eCommerce businesses measures monthly sales as their primary metric for success, supported by data on user behavior, cart abandonment rates, and growth in new customers over time.

The upside to this scenario is that retail and digital marketing are an excellent match. The downside, of course, is that competition in the space is very high, making it hard to decide what to focus on, and where to spend your marketing budget.

Here’s how to answer these questions and ensure that you make the most of the time, money, and resources currently available.

1. Create your buyer personas

A buyer persona is the sum total of all the attributes that define your target buyer. It is immensely helpful in creating a picture of your buyer in your mind, so that you may then target them with the right offers, products, and promotions. Even if you have gone through this exercise before, it is worth revisiting your buyer personas. Typically, the festive shopper behaves very differently from the regular shopper. Even the most discerning of buyers are willing to loosen their purse strings during the festive period. This is because over 40% of retail sales in India actually happen during the festive season, driven forward by discounts, limited-time offers, and the general spirit of festivity. When you create or revisit your personas, certain attributes remain fairly static such as the buyer’s age, gender, annual household income, etc. Other attributes such as their interests, buying preferences, likes and dislikes, etc. tend to change. This is where data on customer engagement with your website comes in handy. Have your customers been showing a marked interest in a certain product/ category? Have they been paying for certain products on EMIs vs. paying the amount upfront? Have past customers interested in designer wear reduced their purchases in the past year? Questions like these will help you determine what to showcase as part of your festive offering, how to price your products, what incentives to offer, and so on.

2. Set Objectives For Your Festive Sale Period

As an eCommerce business, you need to think about driving up sales as much as possible during the festive season. However, this cannot come at the cost of long-term business growth. For example, it may be tempting to allocate all of your paid advertising budgets to the next few months, but you need to think about sustaining interest in your brand over a period of time. Bearing this in mind, what are your key objectives for the festive campaign? Do you want to drive up sales for a particular category of products? You can further use this customer data to run limited-time offers later. Do you want to gain traction and build awareness for your brand? A good campaign with the right targeting can help bring more people to your website. Do you want to encourage sales in the gifting category? Targeted product ads for various personas, along with a strong exchange policy, will hold you in good stead. Knowing what you want to achieve also helps you set KPIs, or Key Performance Indicators, for your campaign. We will discuss this in detail in a bit.

3. Analyze Your Competitors

When designing an eCommerce marketing plan, it is safe to assume that several other retailers are also thinking on similar lines. Standard communication around discounts and markdown is necessary, but not enough. Step one in standing out from your competition is knowing what they are up to. Look up your closest three competitors and observe the kind of campaigns they run. Also, make a note of which of their content results in the most number of likes and shares. Have they roped in influencers? Do they build suspense ahead of time? Have they made any significant changes to their website or their policies? A little bit of digging goes a long way here. Apart from these qualitative attributes, you can also use tools like Ahrefs to check which keywords your competitors rank for and whether you’d like to compete on the same keywords as well. Doing this will also help you understand how much you can expect to pay to run ads for similar products during this time, and the revenue margins you will have left after accounting for ad costs and discounts.

4. Choose Your Channels And Budgets

Now that you know whom to sell to, what you want to achieve, and what your competition is up to, you can go about choosing your marketing and sales channels and budgets. For starters Facebook & Instagram are good channels to start with provided you have nailed your buyer persona.

The distinction must be made here between marketing and sales channels- your sales channels are your website or marketplaces such as Amazon and Flipkart. Marketing channels can be your Instagram handle, Facebook page, Google ads, email marketing, etc.

As for sales channels, this is not the best time to experiment with new ones. Since time is of the essence here, it is best to stick to and improve the channel you already are on instead of trying to build a new one from scratch.

As for marketing channels, your mix of ads vs. organic reach depends largely on the kind of engagement and followers you already have. If you have additional budgets, you can instead consider roping in micro-influencers to promote your products.

If you have a smaller audience base, it is best to invest in paid ads across platforms where your customers typically spend time. If you choose to run ads, bear in mind the fact that there are several different ways to pay a platform for showing your ads.

- You can choose to pay per click if you want more people to visit your site, engage with the product, etc. If you are looking for brand awareness and reach campaigns you can choose to pay using the CPM model. Google Ads & Facebook Ads are easy to use platforms for starters.

- This brings us to the other way to pay for ads - pay per conversion. In the case of eCommerce digital marketing, conversion refers to a purchase being made. Costs for these ads are usually around your cost of acquisition, and these ads are shown to a very targeted audience. One needs to have enough campaign history to run such ads.

Most digital marketing plans use a combination of both these methods.

5. Decide How To Measure Your Campaign’s Success

Congratulations! You now have a strategy in place, and know what you want from the festive period.

It is time now to set and measure your KPIs. Key Performance Indicators for an eCommerce digital marketing campaign can be

- The increase in social media engagement (likes, comments, shares) during the festive period.

- Increase in the number of people visiting the website.

- Increase in the number of people visiting the website.

- Increase in website engagement.

- And the most important one, increase in sales.

If this is your first festive campaign, these metrics are usually enough. Over time, as you run more campaigns, you can also measure these metrics across campaigns and see which one did well.

If you are on the Shoptimize Growth Platform, don’t forget to compare these metrics against the data gathered from varoius channels. It serves as a more holistic view of how your campaign performed, and what you can repeat over time, and what you must drop from your digital marketing plan.