How to grow your ecommerce business
Whether you’re launching a new ecommerce business or moving a substantial portion of your company online, growing a successful ecommerce brand can be challenging. Digital strategies may get you started, but an ecommerce business comes with additional considerations. It’s possible to grow an ecommerce site but also struggle to grow the business in tandem.
The good news is that there are a few key strategies that can help. Whether you struggle with the digital side of ecommerce or the business side of your online store, you can learn what you need to know to pull it all together.
In this post, we’ll share some immediately actionable steps you can take to start growing your ecommerce business.
- Identify your audience
- Encourage repeat business
- Offer upsells and cross-sells
- Provide excellent customer service
- Market to all stages of the funnel
- Sell to international markets
- Implement content marketing
- Invest in influencer marketing
1. Identify your audience
Ecommerce businesses need to focus on qualified target audiences in order to grow. It’s true that anyone with an internet connection can find your products and services, but that doesn’t mean anyone with an internet connection is your target audience. Targeting specific buyers will make your marketing more efficient.
Start by identifying buyers who are already interested in, or have a need for, your products or services. You might start with a list of existing customers or identify highly relevant keywords that people use in organic search. Your social media marketing strategy can identify this audience with user demographics provided by social channels or by engaging with relevant groups on social platforms.
All of the data you collect on your target audiences should be used to create marketing personas — a summary of the characteristics, motivations, and environments of target audience members. Those personas are then used to design and shape your marketing efforts so you can be sure you’re positioning your campaigns to speak directly to your target audiences.
2. Encourage repeat business
Customer retention is a cost effective strategy that offers the same value to ecommerce businesses. A Zippia study found that acquiring a new customer costs six to seven times more than retaining existing ones. New customer acquisition is necessary but encouraging repeat business is even more efficient, and there are several ways to do it.
- Incentives. One way to encourage repeat business is to offer incentives to returning customers. Many businesses only offer incentives to new customers, but offering discounts and other perks to returning customers will help establish trust.
- Loyalty programs. Loyalty programs encourage customers to visit your website more often and deepen connections with your buyers.
- Personalized recommendations. Personalized emails that include recommendations for products related to a recent purchase are your audience’s favorite kind of marketing email, according to a study by Dyspatch and SurveyMonkey.
3. Offer upsells and cross-sells
Upsells and cross-sells are two simple strategies that can be implemented as a customer considers making a purchase.
Upselling is the practice of encouraging a customer to purchase a higher-end version of the product they’re considering. This usually involves a comparison chart that features multiple products or product versions that highlights the differences between them. With the opportunity to compare similar products, customers are often inspired to purchase a more expensive product that has additional capabilities, better support, or more up-to-date technology.
Cross-selling is a related strategy that suggests additional products related to the buyer’s selection. These recommendations can be part of the product page, on an interstitial page early in the checkout process, or on the shopping cart page.
A Poly & Bark product page for the Sorrento leather sofa includes a “Complete the Look” cross-selling widget that highlights additional products to go with the sofa.
You can strengthen both upselling and cross-selling strategies with social proof based on good data and automation. For example, demonstrate which version of the product most customers end up buying or recommend related products that “other people also buy.”
4. Provide excellent customer service
Your ecommerce experience should make shopping, comparing options, and purchasing simple for visitors. A well-designed product page aims to provide all of the information buyers need, but some customers will still have questions. Prioritize smooth and efficient ecommerce customer service through your site as well.
One effective way to allow buyers to contact customer service is chatbots. A chatbot is an automated feature that allows customers to voice their questions or concerns and get immediate responses. Faster answers increase the chance of a purchase. In fact, a Tidio study revealed that 62% of online shoppers would rather use a chatbot for a quick question than wait for a live sales representative.
Good ecommerce customer service also relies heavily on good software. You need a platform that can track purchases, keep records of previous customer service or sales conversations, and more. Every customer service representative should be able to pick up a conversation where it left off and speak to your buyers as though they know the details of each situation.
5. Market to all stages of the funnel
The marketing funnel is a model that illustrates a customer’s relationship with a brand from initial awareness to action. Many ecommerce businesses miss out on conversions by focusing too much of their marketing effort on one or two stages of the marketing funnel and excluding the rest.
The specific stages of a marketing funnel vary based on your industry and your brand’s unique buying journey, but four traditional stages look like this:
- Awareness. The first stage of the funnel is awareness, when a buyer notices a product they might want to purchase. Marketing to the awareness stage can be done with paid ads, SEO content that answers basic questions, cold emails, and more.
- Interest. The next stage is interest, where the audience has seen the product or brand and wants to know more. You can market to this stage with website or social media content that answers more in-depth questions, compares your company to competitors, and explains the full scope of what your products and services can offer.
- Desire. The third traditional funnel stage is “desire,” which is when the buyer has done some research and is almost ready to purchase. Marketing to audiences in this stage requires product comparisons, customer reviews, and other content that will help the buyer make a final decision.
- Action. The final stage of a traditional marketing funnel is where the purchase is made. Marketing to this stage of the funnel often involves supporting sales teams and leans on content like pricing pages and product detail page features like payment options and clear calls to action.
A marketing strategy that targets every stage of the funnel helps grow your ecommerce business because you’re less likely to miss opportunities and more likely to make life-long customers. When a buyer meets your brand in the awareness stage and uses your site content to move all the way to action, you’ve built a lot of trust with that customer.
6. Sell to international markets
Ecommerce businesses have a unique opportunity to expand into international markets like never before. The kind of global reach that was once only available to the largest corporations is now accessible to almost any business selling online.
Building a global market for your brand is a strategic way to grow your business, but it does take time. Consumers prefer shopping in their native language and usually opt for the fastest shipping times, but that doesn’t move these markets out of reach.
First, many ecommerce platforms offer translation plugins or addons to their software so your product descriptions are available in multiple languages. You can take it a step further and hire a professional translator to work on your site to avoid mistranslations and account for local cultural context as needed. A professional translator can also provide more in-depth knowledge of slang or common phrases your brand can utilize to deepen your international influence.
In addition to language translations, it’s also important that your ecommerce site accepts the currencies your targeted countries use. Without this option, international shoppers may be unable to purchase your product even if they want to.
7. Implement content marketing
Content marketing is considered an inbound marketing strategy because it draws audiences to your ecommerce site. It is a good balance for more traditional “outbound” marketing tactics that attempt to reach out and meet buyers where they are — like their inboxes and their social media feeds.
Strategic content marketing is the core of a modern SEO strategy — driving search traffic to your site so new customers can find your brand, products, and services. An effective content marketing strategy is a big project, but there are a few key points to remember:
- Develop informative, educational content that will help your target audiences solve their problems.
- Publish content regularly. Start slow if you need to, but stay consistent.
- Be better than your competitors. It’s a good idea to learn from the competition, but then create content that’s more helpful, thorough, and complete.
Content marketing requires a fair amount of resources. Some companies outsource content creation in order to keep internal teams focused on other work.
It’s also important to note that content marketing and SEO is not an immediate growth strategy. Even the best content strategy takes time to grow, earn trust, and drive value. It’s a long term investment, but it’s worth it.
8. Consider influencer marketing
Expanding your marketing strategies to target various audiences is easier with influencers. Influencer marketing is a social media marketing strategy that aligns brands with influential social media users for endorsements and promotions.
Different influencers sometimes focus on specific types of products or industries to promote and have various audience sizes. An influencer’s social media followers place a lot of trust in them for product recommendations, so a mention or a review can drive good traffic to your website.
Influencer marketing is often used as a performance marketing channel, which means brands pay based on the success of the campaign. This makes influencer marketing a great strategy for growing your ecommerce business, because if it doesn’t work — it doesn’t cost you.
Start growing your ecommerce business
Business and retail are moving into digital markets faster than ever, which means it’s a great time to grow an ecommerce business. There will be challenges along the way but there is also a lot of opportunity.
The first step is to make sure your ecommerce business is more than an ecommerce site. Building a great ecommerce experience is crucial, but remember to grow the business side of your brand as well.
When you’re ready to take your ecommerce growth to the next level, Adobe Commerce is here to help. Whether your business is B2C or B2B, Commerce enables you to build both the ecommerce experience your brand needs and the ecommerce business that will scale endlessly. Take a product tour today to see how Adobe Commerce can help you grow.