E-commerce Digital Marketing 101– the absolute basics!

When it comes to e-commerce, and driving growth and sales, the ‘basics’ are a foundation for anyone running an online store will need to build from.

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In early 2020, the world became disrupted with the only pandemic we know of to date, COVID-19. This created a challenging time for everyone! Enforced lockdowns ensured no-one was able to venture outside in the ways they were previously use to. No going out for dinner, meeting friends and family, or going out to shopping centres. Being unable to go out, reflected pretty badly on brick and mortar stores.

The obvious result, consumer turned to shop online. For e-commerce owners, this meant it was ever more important to pick-up the baseball bat and ensure home runs were being scored. For businesses who didn’t attempt a home run quickly learnt the hard way, trying to pick up the pieces later (if at all).

From my experience, I witnessed something different. I witnessed an enterprise business chop and change commercial priorities through the pandemic. The business saw huge growth spikes through BTC and BTB channels (e-commerce), but oddly did nothing to try and create longevity. Government lockdown requirements started to flatline, and so did their e-commerce channel spikes– returning back to pre-pandemic levels.

The business should have leveraged the sudden increase in consumer engagement, but they didn’t. The only digital BTC and BTB movement, was that they stated within internal comms on “digital was becoming a new business priority”. Unfortunately the following 12 months showed this wasn’t actually the case. In fact, when digital marketing experts proposed an array of foundations and exciting new opportunities to leadership and stakeholders, there wasn’t enough interest to lift them off the ground.

Instead, similar to what happened with COVID guidelines, the business pretty much slapped e-commerce marketing innovation around the face, and returned back to their ‘old skool’ ways. Shame!

Within this e-commerce digital marketing 101 article, I’ll cover what the proposals where in their simplest form. Ranging from the basic and obvious bits, through to more strategy required drivers.

These will be split into two (2) parts, hopefully making effortless prioritisation and delivery. If apply with persistence, has market fit, and maintained to a a good standard– an increase in growth will start to show within your analytics.

The parts; Foundations and Contributors.

Foundations– these are areas that must be part of any e-commerce solution. The foundations are to be considered as the absolute bare minimum of what must be incorporated.

Contributors– these aren't required, but should certainly be considered for driving further traffic and conversion. It is recommended too incorporated the Contributors as an additional contributing factor to the Foundations.

What’s included?

  1. Increase CvR

    1. Store re-Design

    2. Schema & OG Markup

    3. Optimise SEO

    4. Trust Badges

    5. Underperforming Stock Discount

    6. Charity & Non-Profit Discounts

  2. Data Capturing

    1. Email Subscription Popup (10% off first order)

  3. Email Communication (automated)

    1. Bank Holiday Offers

    2. Relatable Event Offers

    3. Birthday & Anniversary Offers

    4. Flash Sales

  4. Awareness via Channels & Social

    1. Creative Photography Assets

    2. Basic Posts & Ads (inc. Paid)

    3. Google Shopping Listing

  5. Analytics & Reviews

    1. Monthly Financial Review

    2. Monthly SEO Review

    3. Analytics & Sales Dashboards

Contributors (coming soon!)
  1. Increase CvR

    1. Update checkout flow

    2. Expand creativity

    3. Expanding Product Line

    4. Subscription Model

    5. In-Basket Recommendations

  2. Data Capturing

    1. Targetable data (birthday, address, etc)

    2. Pre-order Strategy

  3. Email Communication (automated)

    1. Abandoned Baskets

    2. Post Purchase Offers

    3. Competitions

    4. Members only Offers

    5. Win-Back Offers

  4. Awareness via Channels & Social

    1. Slowly Scaling of Paid Ads Budget

    2. Creative 10s Video Assets

  5. Analytics & Reviews

    1. Weekly Financial Overview

    2. Monthly SEO Review


1. Increase CvR

1.1 Store Re-design

Store re-designs are one of those projects that can become complicated, so shouldn’t be rushed or carried out without prior UX and market review. The agreed output expectations and KPI’s should be clear and fair, don’t aim too high, but also don’t undercut yourself.

Does your store UX and design currently;
  • fit your business objectives and target audience?

  • show low or manageable bounce rate, and have profitable ROI?

  • play strongly with up-to-date or/and cutting edge technology?

  • enable flexibility through leveraging the use of bespoke templates?

  • place mobile users and their experience as a higher priority than desktop users (or vice versa)?

  • show clear usability, with enjoyable and repeatable user journeys?

  • welcome new customers and value existing through loyalty strategies?

  • show brand values, beliefs and build trust, over pushing products in users faces?

  • envision your customers lifestyle, fitting into everyday usage/consumption?

  • make your brand feel proud?

Another way to see it as brick and mortar…

Would you find yourself in a high street store that’s disordered, smells, and has an uninviting atmosphere from the moment you stepped inside? Regularly tripping over products that feel like they've being thrown in your face.

There is no direction, you’re unable to relate with anything you do eventually put into your basket. But then discover no clear or orderly queue to purchase at the till— why did you even come here?

1.2 Schema & OG Markup

Schema and OG markup are methods used to pass page content clues onto search engines and social platforms, in an understandable language for them. This markup is a web standard format for providing information about a page and classifying the page content. Giving products an opportunity to be listed in search and social with its name, imagery, prices, and offers.

This doesn’t only work for e-commerce products, but can also be applied to other content, like; Podcasts, Articles, Books, Courses, Events, Reviews, Facts, FAQ’s, Q&A’s, Recipes, Videos, How-to’s, Job Postings, Social, and more!

Using a bottle of whisky as a product example, the markup should consist of…
  • clear and short product names,

  • single or multiple images that exactly what their product is,

  • detailed description of the product as a short to medium paragraph,

  • SKU or MPN numbers for the product,

  • the full manufacturing or owning brand of the product,

  • honesty product rating and reviews, if available,

  • current price and discounted offers on the product.

Another way to see it as brick and mortar…

To successfully capture those ‘window shoppers’ during their walk down the high street, an item of interest needs to be visible in your window displays. Shown in all it’s glory, colours, price, and even if it's on offer— nice!

It can't be out in the back of your store, hidden away. It needs to be made visible to every single passer by.

1.3 Optimise SEO

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is quite a broad subject. It doesn’t just related to a single term or subject, but more an array of processes, incremental improvements and optimisations. Which over time, could have a noticeable impact on your websites user experience and performance in organic search engine results.

Another way to see it as brick and mortar…

Could you imagine seeing a store, with boarded windows so you can’t see what they do or sell. No overhead store name, no address of their store whereabouts in the local directory or shopping centre map.

1.4 Trust Badges

Trust badges are exactly what it says on the tin. They build recognisable trust and confidence for online shoppers. They are commonly used during checkout flows, but can also make an impact on home and landing pages. It also helps show consumers that the site is a payment accepting platform.

There are many types of trust badges, but as an example…
  • SSL Security Certificate (VeriSign, McAfee, Norton),

  • GBPR Confidence (TRUSTe, Encryption, NO data selling),

  • Accepted Payments (MasterCard, Visa, ApplePay, Stripe),

  • Third-party Endorsements (Google Trusted, Better Business Bureau),

  • Shipping (Free shipping, trusted courier),

  • Satisfaction & Customer Service (100% guarantee, quality assured, UK customer services).

Another way to see it as brick and mortar…

With the constant threat of money fraud and card cloning, would you feel confident using a clothing stores card reader which shows unfamiliar payment logos?

Seeing a recognisable logo such as Mastercard or ApplePay on card readers or shop windows, give shoppers a sense of security, which increases the likelihood of purchase.

Even more so if visiting this store for the first time!

1.5 Underperforming Stock Discount

Leveraging underperforming stock can entice customers to purchase more. Discounting this type of stock during checkout or cross selling within additional product pages, giving customers a sense of winning.

This can also introduce new products to customers that may not have otherwise been purchased.

Another way to see it as brick and mortar…

It is so tempting to buy into that offer in the last leg of the high street checkout queue.

True story: Visiting Chester Zoo, the store near the exit offered a nice Sloth teddy for just an extra £10 on top of the already £278 bill... need I not say any more.

1.6 Charity & Non-Profit Discounts

Supporting a charity or non-profits will not only be positive to your gift aid donation declaration, but could also benefit your brands foundation of core values and giving back to society.

A performed route in charity and non-profits support, is to offer customers the option to round up orders to the nearest pound at checkout. These are known as penny or micro-donations, and can be achieved through organisations such as pennies.org.uk.

Another way to see it as brick and mortar…

Picture being approached by a charity official on the high street for a "quick chat" about a £4 donation. Now imagine given the option at a clothing stores checkout to round up the £31 bill to £35 for a charity.

The success of a donation can depend on convenience, not the monetary size.

2. Data Capturing

2.1 Email Subscription Popup (10% off first orders)

One of the most easiest and effective ways to build up your email marketing subscribed audience, is to use a subscribing form pop-up within your site. Provide GDPR compliant brand updates, events, offers, discounts, and campaigns.

Not only will this increase the size of an audience, but will also increase brand penetration, conversion, and sales.

On average, brands have seen an audience increases of 300% by offering 10% off first order.

Another way to see it as brick and mortar…

Walking into a store and being offered to sign up to a loyalty card. Signing up would enable you access to a discount offer and other perks in-store.

3. Email Communication (Automated)

3.1 Bank Holiday Offers

Bank holidays can create a surge in purchasing demand, such as food and drink for gatherings and sporting and leisure activities. These worldwide holidays are perfect opportunities to create product penetration.

Holiday sales have been recorded to cause spikes from 16% to 75%.

Shot period e-commerce product offers that last from a few days to a couple of weeks, should only be promoted through online channels.

3.2 Relatable Event Offers

Being very reflective on the Bank Holiday Offers, there are many different ways offers can be provided. Such as brand relatable events. For example, if your e-commerce store sells sporting goods, try providing offers during both minor and major sporting events; World Cup, Women’s Euros, etc.

Pushing marketing campaigns for these discount, around these events, will almost guarantee a surge in purchases.

3.3 Birthday & Anniversary Offers

Birthdays can reflect both the customers birthday, or the customers membership anniversary. It has proven that the act of “thank you” from brands to customers, increases customer spend and loyalty.

This can also play a part in what’s known as win-back discounts. Stale members need to be reminded from time-to-time. A well-timed and delivered discount offer can be just what they need to get them back onboard.

3.4 Flash Sales

Spontaneous flash sales of products within a short time-bound period entice customers to buy now, rather than waiting. It also increases organic word of mouth marketing, which plays its part in saving marketing funds.

Flash sales are also a method for selling out-of-season or underperforming products that could be taking up storage space.

4. Awareness via Channel & Social

4.1 Creative Photography Assets

Clean and up to date photography is a must have within e-commerce. Not only should we be using standard product shots, but we should also start implementing lifestyle photography. We can also leverage the latter, via using methods of photography which can be published to sites such as Unsplash.

Publishing lifestyle photography of our products into open libraries with 'use for free' licensing, is free marketing!

These can be previously used high quality photography. They can increase product sharing throughout commercial and noncommercial usage. As well as also increasing awareness and trigger memories.

4.2 Basic Posts & Ads (inc. Paid)

A constant and consistent content feed should be going out via regular channels and social. This ensures the audience that brands are awake, thriving and active for the customers needs.

It has been proven that content posts using images without copy, have a 40% to 60% higher click-though rate.

It's also been proven that content posts that don't mention specific discounts, have a 35% to 45% higher click-though rate.

4.3 Google Shopping Listing

Google will soon be enabling free listings within the Google Shopping Tab, which is located within search results. This will allow our products to be seen by searching customers, at no cost.

Google Shopping is set to be the largest growth opportunity for most online retailers in 2020. And being predicted to being responsible for up to 35% of users revenue.

5. Analytics & Reviews

5.1 Monthly Financial Review

E-commerce stores should more than pay for themselves, and then some. Otherwise they simply wouldn't survive!

Financial figures flowing through our platforms must be monitored regularly, reviewing for the good and bad. Reviews should take expenses onboard, products sold, product costs, related marketing costs, etc. Depending on the output of the review, action should be taken. Actions to be taken will range, depending on the situation and desired or required output.

Concrete e-commerce strategies must also have set goals, never "floating" nice too's. As a result, this enable the creation of strategic road maps, juggling priorities, and the achievement of meeting these goals.

5.2 Monthly SEO Overview

Search engine optimisation is one of the fundamental requirements for anything online. Otherwise how are we expected to have an online presence.

It's important to maintain SEO on our e-commerce solutions to be of relevance, for covering both present and future.

Similar to financial reviews, a concrete e-commerce strategy must also have set goals, never "floating" nice too's. As a result, this enables the creation of vital optimisation, store content, and the achievement of meeting these goals.

5.3 Analytics & Sales Dashboards

Dashboards look great. They enable instant monitoring and measurement of performance and metrics. All in real-time and potentially on the go. A huge aspect of this area falls onto transparency, and being able to see results out the back of what you do. We can see the data of our actions.

Top-level dashboards that include a selection of financial, web and campaign data, will help make valuable and smarter decisions.

Dashboards are a powerful tool, summarising complex information and present it in an easily digestible way, as well as an increase with share-ability and remotely working accessibility, thanking todays technology.


I'm currently finalising this section, so pop back soon!

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