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e-Commerce Industry News

June 18, 2014
ECommerce marketing: What works and what doesn't?
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June 18, 2014
A marketing mix can help merchants of all sizes engage prospects. A marketing mix can help merchants
of all sizes engage prospects.
Just as consumers use a variety of different channels to research, compare and purchase retail products, merchants also have to use numerous avenues to engage prospective customers. New means of communication are always cropping up while other channels wax or wane in terms of popularity. Retailers hoping to reach the broadest potential audience need to carefully consider which media avenues they invest in. Optimizing marketing efforts can go a long way to help stretch budgets and reach.

Where are retailers investing their marketing resources?
A recent report from MarketingSherpa studied all the different communication channels retailers currently use to reach prospects. The channels in question range from age-old media platforms such as television and radio to more recent platforms like social media and mobile devices.

So, where are retailers investing their resources? The MarketingSherpa study noted the following channels:
  • Email: No surprise here, email marketing remains the most popular tool for online stores. Email often serves as the cornerstone for broader campaigns, driving people to landing pages or social media profiles. Merchants can use email in numerous ways, ranging from triggered messages based on customer actions, such as leaving a website before purchasing an item in a cart, to regular promotional communications.The only reason 100 percent of retailers don't use email is because it's difficult for new merchants to start. They need to build a subscriber base first and that takes time, so they may opt for social media and paid ads right off the bat.
  • Social: In the eCommerce world, content is king. Social media enables retailers to create and share pertinent content with their customers, driving exposure while also pushing the conversation forward. Retailers can easily tap into the conversation by simply targeting specific keywords on Twitter and monitoring discussions happening in the social sphere.
  • Search: SEO and paid search are the No. 3 and 4 channels, respectively. It's no secret that many retail purchases start with a simple search on Google. Retailers can tap into these searches through better optimized content and paid ads, helping them drive more visitors to their online stores.

Where are retailers seeing the best results?
Merchants are investing heavily in email, social and search channels to spearhead their marketing efforts. But are these channels generating the best results? The MarketingSherpa study also looked at the channels that drove the most traffic to online stores. The answer to this question isn't black-and-white and depends primarily on the size of the company in question.

Email remains effective across the board, particularly for retailers that earn more than $10 million annually. Email is pertinent, and the rise of mobile devices has given merchants easy, round-the-clock access to customers.

However, there are some channels that register more prominently for businesses at either end of the annual revenue scale, the MarketingSherpa report added. For example, companies earning more than $100 million annually actually drove close to 40 percent of their traffic from affiliate marketing campaigns. Conversely, merchants that earned between $0 and $10,000 annually saw more traffic from their social media efforts, likely because social media is an attractive, low-cost option for startups and smaller merchants looking to build an audience.

The takeaway here is that there is no specific marketing formula for success that will work for every merchant. Different channels require different amounts of time and resources to execute properly. With that said, email, social and search marketing are all generally effective ways to reach customers.