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A Comprehensive Guide to E-Commerce Marketing

By Chris McGlynn
Published in Business
April 16, 2019
8 min read

What is E-commerce Marketing?

When a business starts an online store, its primary focus is to drive sales by raising awareness about the store’s brand, product or services.

The most prominent question entrepreneurs and business owners have:

  • “How can a business increase awareness when starting out?”

Welcome to the wonderful world of e-commerce marketing where as an e-commerce business there are multiple options to increase awareness.

This article applies if the business is starting fresh or if the business is already established.

With so many marketing channels, it can be difficult to know which one to follow. First, take a look at important e-commerce marketing terms to understand marketing jargon.

Next, assess different marketing avenues a business can follow and help determine which is right.

Afterward, observe common e-commerce marketing questions followed by any helpful tips that can save time and money.

Without further ado, grow an online business with e-commerce marketing!

E-commerce Marketing Terms

Google ads is an advertising service created by Google that allows users to display brief ads, service offerings, product listings, and video content within Google. Google ads are based on browser cookies and utilize keywords that the advertiser determines.

Search Engine Results Page (SERP)

SERPs are the pages that are displayed on search engines based on the keywords the user searches. The list will include both paid ads and organic results.

Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO)

Conversion rates refer to the rate at which a business’ marketing efforts can convert a lead into a customer. CRO also relates to leads taking action on a website such as signing up for a newsletter.

Conversion Funnels

Conversion funnels is a term used to portray the customer’s journey they take through advertising, navigating a site and essentially converting into a sale.

E-commerce Advertising

Typical examples of e-commerce advertising are via Google Ads, Social Media ads, and display ads.

E-commerce Marketing Avenues

Pay Per Click Advertising (PPC)

Pay per click campaigns is essentially paying Google for “rent” on the top spot of the search page. 80% of people that search for keywords using Google are likely to click the top 3 paid spots as opposed to organic listings.

By utilizing Google ads, you can unlock the power of customizing how ads will look, customer reach, demographics, and more! Advertising isn’t only for Google though; a business can also harness the power of social media to display ads for products and services.

The downside to using PPC is that it can be pricey especially when bidding for competitive keywords such as “dental offices in New York City.”

Search Engine Marketing (SEM)

SEM is used loosely by some marketers and refers to all search engine results both paid and organic. Generally speaking, SEM refers to all search engines such as Bing.

Search engine marketing is usually thought of as the “umbrella” in most marketing plans since it encompasses both paid advertising and organic traffic.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Search engine optimization encompasses a large portion of marketing efforts. SEO includes social media, content creation, internal links or backlinks to help boost search engine visibility.

As a site develops quality content, marketing efforts will pay out in the long run. These free and reasonably inexpensive tactics such as creating blog posts or being featured on other sites can boost site rankings at a significant fraction of the cost compared to paid advertising.

When creating content, be sure to research the keywords that the business wants to target. Another method is to research long tail keywords that may be less competitive.

Display Advertising

Display advertising is the ads that are shown when a user visits a site and appears on the top as a banner image or the sidebar. These ads can also be a strategy from retargeting marketing to gain interest back to the product page. Display advertising is a simple way to attract attention if done correctly with quality graphics and split testing to improve conversion rates. For an e-commerce marketing strategy, display advertising and retarget marketing will significantly enhance sales and is highly recommended.

Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing is a type of marketing in which a business rewards one or more affiliates with rewards for each customer it brings to the site and makes a purchase. These purchases can be tracked by an incentive or coupon code to give to the rightful affiliate.

The affiliate may already have a large following in a certain market that a business can reach out to and create an affiliate offering to market to that audience. However, most affiliates will want to test the product or service before they market to their audience or else hurt their reputation.

E-commerce marketing trends are leaning towards affiliates and influencers to drive sales; this is because the affiliates already have a following and have established trust and relationships with their following. By offering an influencer in any given market space for reviews on products or services, a business, in turn, can gain insights and traffic to the site.

Another favorite way to increase traffic and trust is by offering comparisons for products or services versus competitors. Look for comparison sites and provide them with solutions to what they are comparing, this, in turn, can also add to a site’s referral links.

As a business develops, it is prudent to ask for testimonials to help new leads develop trust with the brand.

Email Marketing

Email marketing is probably the bread and butter to any e-commerce marketing plan. By creating a way to capture leads whether through landing pages, pop-ups, or contact forms, a business owner can build email lists.

As a business grows its list, customers can be segmented based on what they purchase or sign up for. It is imperative in e-commerce to build email lists to be able to market towards those groups.

Building lists and developing drip campaigns is key to e-commerce survival. When a customer signs up or purchases, there needs to be a way to thank them, keep them up to date with events and offer promotions and sales. Email marketing is powerful because a business can also analyze their list’s click-through rate and add in calls to action buttons.

E-Commerce Marketing Tips

  • Implement ecommerce seo.
  • Automate email marketing campaigns.
  • Sell products in multiple places; such as social media.
  • Optimize site’s speed by reducing image sizes.
  • Create categories and tags to be able to filter and search for products easier.
  • Implement tools for cart abandonment.
  • Ask customers for product reviews.
  • Start a loyalty program.
  • Create pop-ups to capture emails in exchange for a discount if the customer - decides to leave your site.
  • Strategize across as many social media profiles as possible to grow the business’ brand.
  • Create personalized content.
  • Optimize checkout process to help reduce cart abandonment.

Frequently Asked E-Commerce Marketing Questions:

What’s the best way to promote an e-commerce store?

  • Utilize e-commerce marketing channels as stated above.
  • SEO strategies are an easy way to boost site rankings.
  • Content creation is vital but keep in mind, quality > quantity.
  • Start a blog that can help promote products.
  • Launch multiple social media accounts to advertise.
  • Sell on social media accounts.
  • Reach out to influencers in the business’ market space and send free samples in - exchange for a review.
  • Connect with different forums to grow an audience.
  • Grow and nurture the site’s email list.
  • Reach out to other sites and ask to publish a guest post.
  • Build backlinks to build page and domain authority.

What is an e-commerce strategy?

An e-commerce strategy should be the actions that are used to attract new customers and should include the different channels that are used to gain new customers. The more e-commerce marketing strategies used, the better a business’ chances are of survival online.

How to write a marketing plan for e-commerce?

  • Create an executive summary for a marketing plan.
  • Outline goals and objectives for the online business.
  • Solidify a mission statement and value proposition.
  • Research and nail down target customers and markets.
  • Establish pricing and positioning strategy.
  • Have a distribution and fulfillment plan.
  • Develop a conversion strategy or sales funnel.
  • Identify strategic partnerships and joint ventures.
  • Develop actionable measures to increase sales.
  • Develop a referral strategy.
  • Detail financial projections

Should a business hire a digital marketing agency or do it all in house?

The answer to this question is very subjective because it always comes down to where a business is in their lifecycle. Is the business a startup or a small business? Alternatively, if the owner is an entrepreneur that deals with orders, sales, fulfillment, customer service or wearing multiple hats they may not have to time to add more duties to their plate.

Does the business have enough time and resources to learn how to analyze charts and graphs, build out content, while improving site security and speed to name a few?

Can the business afford to pay an agency $2,000 - $10,000 + per month to deliver these services? If the answer is no to both of these questions, then it is recommended to find a freelancer in the business’ area or use tools such as Upwork to find affordable freelancers around the world. Use this article in the interview process to rate their competency in any area of marketing.

If the business can afford the rates given above, then it is highly recommended to hire a digital marketing agency merely because they have the efficiency to deliver promptly, the resources at hand and the expert knowledge in every marketing segment.

What are useful marketing tools?

Google Analytics

Google analytics is a free tool and will be one of the best tools a business have for e-commerce marketing. Analytics will give insight on which pages are converting, which pages are popular, how many visits your site gets, bounce rates and more.


A favorite email marketing tool amongst marketers because of the useful drag and drop builder, ability to create drip campaigns, and develop different lists based on which forms a customer submits!


Hubspot offers a free version of their software for sales and marketing and will help keep a business’ team on board with sales funnels and leads.


Unbxd lets a site be able to autofill as Google search does for customers that intelligently searches the e-commerce site. Unbxd delivers recommendations based on relevance, self-learning and autocorrect.


Understand what customers want, care about and interact with on a site by visually representing their clicks, taps and scrolling behavior.

What platform should be used for an e-commerce store?

I recommend three:


Shopify has a more comfortable setup and has the lowest learning curve out of any e-commerce store builder.

WordPress with WooCommerce

Wordpress and WooCommerce are free to use, simply setup hosting and all is needed is a quick install. There are up-sells for WooCommerce for added functionality.


Magento is great for larger stores but may be too much compared to the prior two. Support for the previous is extensive also, and Magento developers are harder to find.

Any more tips for e-commerce marketing?

The biggest tip for any business that wants to start marketing their site is to make sure the site is responsive! Marketing time and money will go to waste if a store’s site is not mobile friendly. The store will lose out on a large portion of its market if visitors cannot navigate the site correctly. Another tip is to make sure call to action buttons are enticing and large enough to click or tap.


There are multiple marketing avenues that a business can take advantage of to achieve success online. The most favorite approach amongst digital marketers is to create quality content through keyword research and blog posts (SEO). This entire article is keyword rich but provides excellent insights that can be shared with others that may have e-commerce marketing concerns. That should be the goal in any business that decides to market online.

The more visitors a business has, the more chances visitors will convert, but it is important to state that quality is superior to quantity. Please like and share, and sign up for the newsletter where there will be more content to help any business with their digital marketing strategies!


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A Marketer’s Guide to Price Comparison Websites

Chris McGlynn

Software Developer & Entrepreneur

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