Ecommerce marketing — a complete beginner’s guide

Graphic illustrating ecommerce marketing

Online shopping has come a long way since it debuted in the 1990s, but there’s never been a time when ecommerce marketing ramped up as quickly as it has in the last three years.

The pandemic set the stage for huge growth in internet sales, and it doesn’t seem to be slowing any time soon. The companies that continue to thrive are the ones that invest in ecommerce marketing.

Excellent ecommerce marketing involves a combination of content, social media, PPC, and email marketing targeted precisely to an organization’s target audiences. But figuring out which strategies to use and how to use them is a considerable — sometimes overwhelming — challenge.

In this article, we’ll cover:

What is ecommerce marketing?

Ecommerce marketing is the process of making potential customers aware of your online products or services and then prompting them to convert. So while one aspect of ecommerce marketing attempts to acquire new customers, another is geared toward enticing previous customers to buy again. Ecommerce marketers use a variety of methods to promote their company’s products or services to prospects and current customers — including social media, influencer marketing, email campaigns, content, SEO, and paid ads.

And ecommerce marketing is more vital than ever.

For example, in the scramble to get online and carve out a space for their brands during pandemic closures, marketers doubled down on ecommerce marketing and digital UX. Now, people are used to those great online experiences and expect them at every turn. Investing in ecommerce marketing is necessary to stand out in a very crowded digital space.

But ecommerce and the marketing that comes with it had significant benefits even before the pandemic hit. Most modern ecommerce platforms make it easy to get up and running quickly, and many have multichannel capabilities that allow ecommerce marketers to create seamless campaigns across all of their digital marketing channels. Ecommerce and ecommerce marketing offer brands a unique opportunity to connect and engage naturally with audiences and drive revenue by fitting into people’s regular, digital lives.

The most common ecommerce marketing channels

One of the biggest advantages of ecommerce marketing is that there are myriad ways to reach new and previous customers. And because there are so many methods of communication, marketers have a lot of room for creativity.

Social media marketing

Social media marketing is the art of attracting and engaging with customers via social networks like Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, or YouTube. These social channels (and many others) have distinct audience demographics that marketers can match up to their ideal customer profiles.

Adobe Marketo Engage ecommerce social media marketing example

For example, a Statista report indicates that Facebook tends to be more popular among people aged 25 to 54, while most of TikTok’s users are in the 18-to-24-year-old range. Other platforms may skew more male or female or even have more of a presence in a particular geographic region.

Social media is a fantastic way to connect directly to your ideal customers in a relatable and organic way that can often be more effective than intrusive ads. Social media accounts can also highlight product announcements, discounts, and customer testimonials to educate potential customers, pique their interest, and demonstrate social proof. While this list is not exhaustive, here are some ideas to get started with social media marketing.

Influencer marketing

Influencer marketing goes hand in hand with social media marketing, because influencers work on social media channels. Influencers are some of the most powerful voices for persuading customers to buy because they’ve built a dedicated following of people who know and trust them. This urge is so strong that according to an Influencer Benchmark Report, marketers can expect an average return of $18 for every $1 spent on influencer marketing campaigns.

Ecommerce marketing influencer brand promotion example

The best part is that influencers don’t have to be huge celebrities — they can be someone with several thousand followers in a specific niche. You can immediately win the attention of customers by working with good influencers. But to fully capitalize on influencer marketing, you need to:

Email marketing

Email is not dead. In fact, Statista predicts that the number of global email users will grow to 4.6 billion users by 2025.

Email marketing is especially useful for ecommerce marketers because it saves a substantial amount of time. Marketers can write campaigns far in advance and set triggers that automatically segment customers by stage in the sales lifecycle or estimated level of knowledge or interest. Based on the results of those campaigns, marketers can make adjustments to the copy or even the triggers to continuously improve their outcomes.

Here are a few ways to leverage a solid, up-to-date email list.

Content marketing

Content marketing refers to digital assets like PDFs, videos, and web copy designed to educate your target audience. Content is critical for ecommerce marketing because it drives traffic to your website by answering your audience’s pressing questions. And this strategy pays off — Edelman and LinkedIn found that 54% of decision-makers say they spend more than one hour per week reading and reviewing thought-leadership content.

Ecommerce marketing content marketing example from

Content marketing can take many forms. Even web copy, for example, should include several specific strategies.

Search engine optimization (SEO)

Search engine optimization increases the visibility of your website by aligning your brand with the needs your target audience is bringing to search engines. Earning more organic traffic means your brand gets in front of more of your prospective and current customers.

You’ll often see SEO in the context of content marketing because good content is what your target audience is searching for. When done well, your content relates directly to user intent, serves your audience better than other web content, earns engagement and traffic, and climbs through organic search rankings. To maximize your SEO approach, pay attention to:

Pay per click (PPC)

Pay per click, or PPC, is an internet advertising technique that places ads on different platforms, channels, and websites, and it pays publishers whenever the ads are clicked. PPC uses customer and keyword data to access very specific audiences.

Graphic illustrating PPC ecommerce marketing

PPC can help ecommerce marketing best if you pay attention to important details.

Tips and strategies for ecommerce marketing success

Now that we’ve discussed what channels are at an ecommerce marketer’s disposal, it’s time to talk about specific tactics you can use to boost the effectiveness of your ecommerce marketing.

Define your goals

One of the first things any ecommerce marketing campaign needs is a set of defined, measurable goals. These goals give you and your team something specific to work toward and help focus your efforts. They will also point to the metrics you need to measure success.

Starting from scratch is challenging, so use industry benchmarks as a baseline. If you already have ecommerce marketing goals in place, take a moment to do a second pass and ensure your goals make sense for your business’s overarching objectives. And lastly, if you’re hitting your goals consistently, it may be time to set higher ones.

Know the competition

Understanding what your competitors are doing in ecommerce marketing can help direct your goals and strategies — or push you to be more or less aggressive in certain areas. Begin by auditing competitors to see where they rank in your market. Analyze considerations such as:

See where your competition is flourishing. Then find out if it’s possible for you to replicate it or if there’s a different tack you can take to scoop up a tangential set of customers.

Clarify your target audience

Even if you’ve created ideal customer profiles in the past, it’s a good idea to revisit and refresh them. Make sure they’re detailed enough for ecommerce marketing tactics and confirm that your customer demographics and psychographics have not changed. To conduct this analysis, you can:

Different audience segments will need different ecommerce marketing strategies, so don’t forget to tweak your marketing to fit each of those segments.

Decide which channels make sense for your business

Some customers may spend most of their time on social media and never check their email. Others will read every blog post you publish but won’t ever click on ads. Understanding the channels that your audiences actually use is essential — you’ll get the biggest return by investing in the channels where customers are most likely to engage with your brand.

And the best way to determine which channels to focus on is data. Demographics are a good start, but they’re not necessarily your audience members. Surveys provide better insights, but what people say and what they actually do are sometimes different.

Look at past performance and start to identify whether content, email, social media, or ads bring in customers and accounts. Depending on the channels you choose, you’ll have to build or rebuild email lists, find social media influencers, or shore up content marketing resources, so be prepared to hit the ground running. Utilizing a platform to gather insights and manage content on a variety of channels can be extremely helpful in this exercise.

Create a customer loyalty program

Loyalty programs are one way to improve customer retention. Offering discounts, rewards points, giveaways, and customer features as part of your loyalty program make your customers feel special and deepen their connection to your brand.

But before launching a loyalty program, do a pilot to ensure your incentives align with what your customers expect and want. You should also ask some of your best customers to spread the word, telling their friends, family, and colleagues about your products — leaving online reviews or even participating in case studies to get the flywheel going.

The best way to manage ecommerce marketing

While ecommerce marketing rose in popularity due to the pandemic, it’s clearly not a passing trend. Ecommerce marketing helps companies learn about, interact with, and engage their audiences in order to effectively build a customer base and drive revenue in a digital economy.

But reaping all the benefits of ecommerce marketing isn’t possible without the right tools. Adobe has been leading the way in ecommerce, providing sophisticated tools to build and maintain ecommerce sites, engage customers in a customized shopping experience, and optimize the customer journey.

As the world’s leading digital commerce solution for merchants, Adobe Commerce powered by Magento is designed to scale with any business empowering brands to reach customers across devices and marketplaces with unparalleled security and premium performance, all at a low cost.

If you want to get a head start on your ecommerce marketing program, check out our interactive tour to get a sense of how each ecommerce product can jumpstart your journey.