Research from Ernst & Young revealed that 72% of companies reported negative effects as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. And we’re now headed towards more difficult economic times.
According to economists surveyed by Bankrate, the U.S. economy has a 64% chance of undergoing a recession in 2023.
Growth in eCommerce sales has slowed but is still trending upwards, expected to rise by 8.9% in 2023 on a global scale, based on research by Insider Intelligence. So despite decreased consumer spending, tough competition and economic instability, you can still run a successful eCommerce business.
That’s if you use your eCommerce sales strategy as a rock-solid foundation. Because without a thought-out plan based on tried and true strategies, it’s incredibly hard to maintain your revenue, brand reputation and growth rates over time.
With a comprehensive and effective strategy, you can thrive and launch your business toward new frontiers.
But due to the wide range of strategic advice out there, cutting through the noise to find the best tips and tricks can be overwhelming. This guide will lay out a straightforward, step-by-step approach to cultivating the perfect strategy for your business’s unique goals.
The basics of eCommerce sales strategies
An eCommerce sales strategy is an overarching plan about your approach to selling products online.
It encompasses a range of business aspects, such as marketing, website development and sales tactics. A great strategy results in growing brand awareness, customer loyalty and conversions.
All in all, the point of having an eCommerce sales strategy is to boost online sales.
Popular eCommerce sales strategies
While there are many approaches to optimizing eCommerce sales, here are a few standout strategies that most companies should use:
- Search engine optimization (SEO): A long-term technical approach to get your webpages to rank highly on search engines. SEO can help you expand your visibility, raise sales rates and attract more opportunities.
- Customer experience development (CX): A strategy focused on giving users a smooth and satisfying experience throughout the online shopping process. CX helps you build brand loyalty, enhance your reputation and boost conversion metrics.
- Paid marketing: Advertising you pay for, such as pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns. This method can augment website traffic rates, expand your brand’s reach and get you a quick return on investment (ROI).
- Content marketing: Long-term marketing efforts you implement indirectly by providing attractive content. This approach allows you to nurture leads and establish your business as an authority in your industry.
You can grow your eCommerce sales by using these four strategies — and other approaches that suit your business.
But how, exactly, does that process work?
How to grow eCommerce sales
1. Understand your circumstances.
2. Define your goals.
3. Study your target audience.
4. Set up tracking and analytics.
5. Create engaging and unique content.
6. Choose the right channels.
7. Nurture your leads.
Let’s dive into the specifics of each step.
1. Understand your circumstances
First and foremost, fully grasp your surrounding context, including the global state of commerce, industry-specific trends and any other realities that can influence your business.
Learn everything there is to learn about your business. Collect a range of data to reveal customer patterns. Compile business plans, projections and other information that could be useful to understanding your place in the market.
Then, see how your business stacks up. Analyze statistics and benchmarks from your industry and compare them with your performance. Do competitive analyses on your toughest rivals. Conduct a range of market research. Stay in touch with mentors and other industry professionals.
The bottom line is, assess everything you can uncover about the past, present and future conditions surrounding your business.
2. Define your goals
Next, determine specific goals you want to achieve with your eCommerce sales strategy. Think both short-term and long-term.
For example, where do you see your eCommerce site in five years? What do you want your brand to be known for? Which quantifiable financial goals do you want to hit?
How will you measure the success of your marketing campaigns? Using defined eCommerce KPIs helps you; build your strategy around these reference points.
While some business owners focus on decreasing cart abandonment rates, others work toward reaching new audiences. Whatever you choose, make sure it all comes back to drive sales.
3. Study your target audience
Learn everything you can about your target audience: The customers and users you’ll focus your marketing efforts toward. They’re the people your eCommerce sales strategy has to work effectively on, so it’s critical that you deeply understand them.
A 2023 Semrush study revealed that content marketers believe researching their audience was the top activity contributing to their success level.
Your customer base’s characteristics and habits should influence:
- Which channels you use.
- What type of content you produce.
- Which product/service specifications you mention.
- Branding decisions.
- Which pricing options you highlight.
Start by analyzing your target market and considering your ideal customer’s demographic information. Think factors like age, socioeconomic status and career. Also, consider lifestyle, interests and priorities. Once you decide on your potential customer base’s qualities, you can create a buyer persona for your business.
Track your target customers’ purchasing decisions and behaviors to identify pain points. Determine your ideal buyer’s primary goals, needs and motivations. Consider why they might need or want to purchase your product or service — you’ll make sure that reason is highlighted in your future marketing efforts.
To figure out which types of content your audience responds to best, use data collection and trial-and-error content marketing.
By collecting all of this precious information, you can make sure all your future content, SEO, paid ads and CX development approaches are optimized for your ideal buyer.
That personalized user experience is effective; Zendesk’s CX Trends 2023 report revealed that 77% of business leaders maintain that deeper personalization increases customer retention.
4. Set up tracking and analytics
One of the best things about running an eCommerce business is the industry’s data-driven nature makes tracking key metrics a breeze. In turn, metrics give you invaluable insights into your eCommerce sales strategy.
Setting up tracking and analytics enables even more awareness of your customers’ behaviors, as well as your own progress and performance. Achieve this by implementing user-friendly programs like Google Analytics, installing website plugins like Jetpack or hiring professionals to help you.
Once you set up an analytics system, follow up and track metrics regularly to extract value from it. Some metrics should be noted weekly or even daily, while others only need to be analyzed once or twice a month.
This step is essential: Without considering the data, how will you know what’s working and what’s not? Or gauge how close you are to achieving your desired results? Or make the optimal decision for sales and marketing efforts across the board?
To determine whether or not a particular sales strategy is working, compare relevant metrics to your past figures, projected results, competitors’ numbers and industry averages.
But which metrics should you track? Always refer to metrics relevant to your pre-defined goals. Additionally, a 2023 HubSpot report found that sales, leads and conversion rates are generally the most important metrics to track, according to web analysts.
Other examples of things you can measure include:
- Click-through rate.
- Social media engagement.
- ROI on paid marketing efforts.
- Customer acquisition cost.
- Net promoter score.
You can also measure the performance of content itself by doing content audits.
In summary, tracking and analytics help guide your choices to satisfy your target audience and make your eCommerce sales strategy more effective.
5. Create engaging and unique content
Creating outstanding content is an essential element of any eCommerce sales strategy. Distributing boring or unoriginal media can lead you quickly toward lost sales, a damaged brand reputation and a range of missed opportunities.
You’ll recognize boring and unoriginal content when it doesn’t draw the reader in, provide value and have an impact. It’s often rushed, identical to mass-produced content and made purely for SEO or social networks. This gives the reader no good reason to purchase your product or service.
Engaging content appeals to emotion, places potential customers at the center and presents ideas differently from other content. It is relevant to a specific audience and tailored to their needs, offering them value. Try telling a wholly unique story or offering up completely new information.
Here are some innovative content creation techniques to consider using:
- User-generated content: Leverage content your audience is making, especially if it’s related to your niche. One easy example to use on social media is strategically reposting relevant content — and contributing something new to it, if possible. Encourage your followers to participate as well.
- Social proof: When consumers give great feedback about your business, it’s as good as gold. Watch out for positive social posts, ratings on review websites and mentions on forums. Showcase the endorsement, and don’t forget to show gratitude.
- Short-form video: The biggest online media platforms like YouTube, TikTok and Instagram have all leaned into short-form video due to the staggering engagement. If you can consistently come up with ideas for content digestible in under a minute, posting frequently can net you a ton of views.
- Influencer marketing: Get your brand in front of your target audience by partnering up with an established online personality within your niche. You can ask for endorsements, reviews, product placement and mentions, which is powerful because viewers already trust the influencer.
All in all, make your content interesting, unique and strategically tailored to your ideal buyers. If you do this well, you’re likely to increase eCommerce sales and cultivate your brand identity over time.
Choose the right channels (200w)
In 2022, the total revenue of the global content marketing industry was approximately $63 billion USD. Major players and small businesses alike are competing for consumers’ attention on every online platform. Your use of marketing channels will determine whether you fully capitalize on your eCommerce sales strategy.
That’s because your conversions increase when you select the right channel for each piece of content and each type of customer. So once you know your audience and create high-quality content, start targeting consumers through the optimal channels.
For example, distributing interactive content and short-form video content via social media is likely more effective than simply placing it on your website. But if you’re looking to gather online reviews for a local business, using email marketing is the most effective method.
Your selected channels should also be tailored to your unique primary goals. Do you need to reach a wide range of leads? Go for paid advertising. Do you have an older target audience? Try direct mail campaigns. Do you want to up your traffic? Invest in SEO for your eCommerce website.
Refer to your goals, target audience knowledge and analytics insights as you pick the optimal channels.
7. Nurture your leads
Potential customers, also known as leads, don’t turn into buyers automatically. They need to be nudged toward making a purchase, and your business relationship with them must be cultivated. That’s why nurturing leads is a long-term, continuous eCommerce sales strategy that all business owners should use.
Managing your leads effectively involves building trust, providing value and proactively reaching out. Doing this can increase your engagement and conversion levels, satisfy your buyers and optimize your sales overall.
Start this eCommerce marketing strategy by:
- Performing lead generation: This is the process of finding or attracting new leads to your online store. These leads can become sales and even loyal customers. But first, you have to foster their interest and trust.
- Tracking lead behavior: Use your analytics framework to track lead behavior. Spend your time wisely by focusing on the metrics related to your established goals.
- Scoring leads strategically: Lead scoring involves assigning values to individual leads, representing how likely a lead is to make a purchase.
- Segmenting your leads: Once you evaluate your leads, you can segment them and distribute content accordingly, tailored to the unique needs of each type of lead. If you’re starting out with email marketing, use list segmentation to distribute the content using automation.
- Re-engaging leads proactively: Sending out content once isn’t enough. To get your leads to trust and remember you, you’ll need persistence in creating media tailored to their pain points. You can also use a retargeting program, which sends ads to leads who have left your website.
Nurture leads via many channels, including landing pages, email lists, shopping cart media, chatbots and creative checkout processes. Consider implementing a loyalty program, referral program or affiliate marketing program.
These approaches help you establish trust while pushing leads toward becoming new customers. The most important thing to remember is that you’re building a relationship through digital marketing.
Tips and tricks to help you succeed
Make your content people-first
Due to Google’s helpful content update in 2022, this is more important than ever before. Create your content according to what humans want, not just search engines. When in doubt, use a story, add some emotion and show you understand the consumer’s perspective.
Be strategic about when you post
A 2022 HubSpot report revealed that posting social media content on Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday is most effective. It also showed that 6-9 p.m. is the ideal time to post on social media.
You can be creative with your timing, but make sure your eCommerce sales strategy is getting you the highest engagement, click-through rate and conversions possible.
Be bold and creative with your approaches
Standing out from the crowd is a huge plus in eCommerce, so don’t be afraid to be different. You shouldn’t always play it super safe and do what competitors are succeeding with. Be open to taking risks, being bold and doing things in unconventional ways.
Final thoughts: Developing a solid eCommerce sales strategy in seven steps
Developing an impactful and cost-effective eCommerce sales strategy requires a lot of thoughtfulness, preparation and effort. But if you follow a step-by-step approach that’s been proven to drive sales and increase revenue, the strategizing process is incredibly rewarding.
The most successful online store strategies are built on a deep understanding of context, overarching goals and target audience. And the best eCommerce plans incorporate tracking and analytics along with engaging content.
If you’re looking for more tips to bolster your eCommerce sales strategy, try Bluehost’s full-service marketing solutions. You’ll have experts using SEO, PPC and more to boost your website.
Unlock your eCommerce store’s full potential; request a consultation today to start optimizing your strategy from the ground up.