E-Commerce is a booming industry in 2019. It refers to the buying and selling of goods or services using the internet. And it includes the transfer of money and data to execute these transactions. In this article, we will explain how to use Inbound Marketing for eCommerce.
But first, let's describe what eCommerce means. With electronic commerce, products are easier to discover. And often they are easier to purchase, too. This is done through a network of online stores and marketplaces. Independent freelancers, small businesses, and large corporations have all benefited from eCommerce.
The main advantage is more efficient scaling. This simply wasn't possible with offline retail. Online shopping enabled businesses to expand and diversify. E-commerce websites are smarter. They offer more and for a better price. The shipping is faster. And global retail eCommerce sales are projected to reach $27 trillion by 2020.
What does this mean for your business? Customers have high standards. They expect a lot from their brands. Yes, they want products that are functional and reasonably priced. But user experience is equally as important. And it doesn't end there.
Customers have high standards and can always choose from a lot of brands.
If their needs are not met, they'll go somewhere else. How do you prevent this? Prioritise customer loyalty. Sounds simple, right? This is where Inbound Marketing steps in. But not so fast.
Tip: This is a follow-up series article about Inbound. Do you work in finance and considering a new marketing strategy? This blog post may be for you!
E-commerce Models and Inbound Marketing
There are several types of eCommerce. They mainly include B2B, B2C and C2C segments.
Business to business (B2B) is when a business sells goods or services to another business. Software-as-a-service is very common. Business to consumer (B2C) happens when a business sells goods or services to an individual consumer.
For example, when you buy a new laptop from an online retailer. Marketplaces like eBay make use of Customer to Customer (C2C). Here, individual people set up their own E-Commerce stores and sell to each other.
All of these segments have their own characteristics. And each of them requires a unique business model. The point is, Inbound Marketing is a great solution for all of them.
What Is Inbound Marketing for e-Commerce?
First off, let's go through the definition of Inbound Marketing. Inbound Marketing describes the digital marketing strategy that brings all of your online channels together to one ambition. Online marketing channels are email, blogging, social media, your website, and search engine optimisation (SEO).
But Inbound isn't just one tool or tactic. It’s a set of ongoing activities that create a scalable revenue driver.
We often get the question “Why do I need Inbound Marketing for eCommerce?”
The answer lies beyond the revenue. It's more than that. Consumer behaviour is changing.
E-Commerce is a dynamic industry. This makes it a perfect fit for Inbound Marketing.
- Shopping online is shifting to mobile. In the USA, 79% of smartphone users have made a purchase online using their mobile device in the last 6 months.
Statistically, there is now a high chance that customers will be interacting with your website from a smartphone or tablet. Therefore, mobile optimization is extremely important.
Tip: Not sure where to start? Good design and intuitive user experience are essential. Still, need more? Read this article to understand mobile optimization better!
- Online purchases aren't just limited to eCommerce websites. They are also happening on Amazon or Facebook. Instagram is very popular, too. And with 800 million monthly active users, the platform has a huge shopping potential.
- Voice and visual search are becoming more important. Amazon Echo and Google Home are the main players in this field.
What to take away from this? E-commerce is getting faster. It's also more accessible and there isn't a single platform. Inbound Marketing is perfect for this.
It drives traffic and increases your conversion rates. To understand better, we'll use a short comparison.
Inbound vs Outbound
Inbound marketing goes against the old method, Outbound Marketing. Why is it old? Because it involves all of the traditional ways of doing marketing.
This could be continued advertising, cold calling or email spam. It's no surprise that customers grew tired of it. It's old fashioned, it interrupts and doesn't address their needs. From a business perspective, it's harder to track ROI and the costs are higher.
On the other hand, Inbound Marketing campaigns improve sales conversions whilst reducing spending. It helps to distribute your message throughout your blogging platforms. This is called Content Marketing.
Content Marketing offers your customers relevant and useful information.
Tip: Your content strategy could involve blogging and video. Or you could focus on social media with email marketing. There are many options. Aim to provide value and educate. This should always be your number one goal.
Inbound is great for attracting new prospects. But it also targets your current and past customers. How?
We start with a buyer persona. Then, we move on to describe the sales funnel.
Buyer Persona Development
The success of any Inbound Marketing campaign is determined by this. First, you need to spend time gaining insights about your customers. BIAS Digital have a process for this. We use the pillars analogy. Let's describe it.
- Priority Insight. This is the early stage of the buyer's journey. Make sure your message resonates. What's the most compelling reason for the purchase of your product or service?
- Success Insight. Describe the functionality of your product or service. What does your persona expect from the solution you offer? How does it help your customers?
- Perception Insight. Is there anything that prevents your persona from buying? Consider your competition. What are they doing better? With this in mind, you are able to reassure the persona that your solution is the right one.
- Buyer’s Journey Insight. This is what happens behind the scenes. All of the evaluation leads to a decision. The customer has to make a final choice. You use this insight to align your sales and marketing activities.
- Decision Criteria. The final piece of the puzzle. What are the specific characteristics of your product or service? What makes you different from the competition? The goal is to understand what's really important for your persona.
Tip: It's worth noting that it's great to have several personas. These are very specific and could target different markets. Remember, your initial market isn't your total market!
E-commerce is a competitive industry. Therefore, gaining detailed insights about your customers is crucial. This takes time. But once you have that, you can start planning.
Planning For Implementation
Your buyer persona is developed. Now plan and schedule your content by creating a marketing calendar. What type of content will you produce? And what channels to use? Keep in mind the buyer's journey of your customers!
Tip: What is the buyer's journey? It's the buying process your customers go through. It starts with awareness and consideration. And after careful evaluation, it's decision time.
You need to target each buyer at the right time and place. This is why sales funnels are so important. Let us explain better.
Building The Sales Funnel In e-Commerce
Every sales funnel has four important stages.
Let's look at each of them.
This is the top of your marketing funnel. The goal is to answer basic questions. You want to educate your customers about the solutions you provide. How to do this? Content creation.
Do your keyword research and start blogging. It proves extremely useful at this stage as there are many benefits. It builds trust and boosts your SEO. And it also connects people to your brand.
Your content can have many forms. But you always want to be meaningful and relevant. Keep in mind your target audience. Blogging is great but in an industry like eCommerce, this may not be enough.
Long-form content offers more value than a typical blog post. Ebook, explainer videos or product tutorials are good examples.
Brand awareness is very important in the attracting stage. The metric is usually the amount of traffic you are able to generate. Not getting the numbers you expected? That's normal, especially at the early stages of your campaigns.
Remember that Inbound is quite flexible and you can always change your approach in real-time. In fact, we advise it.
Before we can move on to the converting stage, let's stop at the SEO for a minute.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
According to HubSpot, “SEO focuses on expanding a company’s visibility in the organic search results.” It also helps businesses rank higher in SERPs (Search Engine Result Pages.) This has a direct impact on the number of visitors on your site.
Starting to see how important is this to our sales funnel? We'll cover the basics.
- Your URL should always be optimized with separate product pages. Include the keyword!
- Make sure your Page Titles are short and easy to read. They are what you see in the web browser tab.
- Meta Description is about the content on the page. It should have no more than 300 characters.
- Canonical Tags serve to eliminate duplicate content. This is especially important for eCommerce websites.
- Image Alt Text should be specific and in context with the actual image.
- Link Building helps to promote your brand and gets you referral business.
SEO directly impacts the traffic on your website. This has an important effect on your sales.
There is obviously a lot more to cover regarding SEO on your eCommerce website. Discover more here if you're looking for detailed information.
This stage is about building a relationship with your customers. You answer questions about your product or service.
It's about what you do. Email marketing allows you to create personalised campaigns. And these are targeted at your buyer personas.
What are the other ways to get more conversions? Let's explore them.
- Forms are a good and easy option for lead generation. Make sure you offer immediate value upon submitting them.
- Catalogue Optimisation is extremely relevant in eCommerce. Traffic has a direct impact on your sales conversions.
Prioritize your top-selling products. Some low traffic products might need more promotion. And some high traffic pages may have low conversion rates. Make sure you analyze your product offerings. Then you are able to optimize correctly.
- Chatbots and Conversational Marketing can add up to a 400% increase in conversions.
Did you know that 35-50% of sales go to the company that responds first? Chatbots create instant communication between a customer and a company. They are also equally popular between millennials and baby boomers.
They are available 24/7 and can connect prospects with a live assistant immediately. This impacts your customer loyalty. And it also has an effect on engagement.
Tip: We believe in the future of chatbots. Learn more about their use in your business here.
You've put a lot of effort into your content and have a strong product. Now, it's time to buy.
The whole website design should lead to this stage. Be direct and straight to the point. So how to enhance the odds for closing?
- Site Search. Try to include a search button on your website.
Your customers are much more likely to buy once they took proactive steps to find something specific. Track and analyze what the visitors are looking for. What products are viewed and purchased? Once you understand that, you can provide better search results. And relevant search results lead to more sales!
- Simple Checkout and Free Shipping. This is self-explanatory. Make it easy for your customers to buy the product.
The checkout process should be very simple to understand. Customers love free shipping. Make sure you mention it on every high traffic page. And don't forget about your product pages!
- Cross-Selling. It refers to selling an existing customer a product or service in addition to what they initially wanted.
It builds customer loyalty and lowers the price. And it also improves your profitability and sets you apart. With cross-selling, you always want to enhance the value you offer.
The closing stage is where you make money. So don't forget to track your sales conversions! This is much easier with good customer relationship management (CRM) software. Ideally, it shouldn't end with just one sale. Once you closed a customer once, you'll want them to keep coming back. It's your ultimate goal with Inbound Marketing.
Tip: Interested in learning more? Check out this blog post to learn how to plan a marketing funnel.
The bottom stage of the funnel. The goal is to build customer loyalty. This will get you referrals and a much bigger reach.
This stage is extremely important. Ideally, customers should become your promoters. You delivered on your promises. And not only that, you exceeded their expectations. So when they buy from you again, they will also tell their friends.
- Take extra care of your Packaging. Make sure it stands out.
- Post-Purchase Follow-Up can really make a difference. Be open to feedback and ask for a product review or recommend new products.
- Special Offers build brand loyalty. Reach out to your customers on their birthday and offer a free product or a discount. And don't forget about the holidays!
In eCommerce, it pays off to be engaging and keeping in touch with your customers. Let them know you care. Spend time creating personalised content just for them.
This is how you delight your customers. If you do it properly, they will come back. With their family and friends as well.
Delighted customers are much more likely to recommend your business.
In this article, we've explained what eCommerce means and described its models. We showed that Inbound Marketing is great for eCommerce.
And we proved it with a detailed description of Buyer Persona and Sales Funnel. As a bonus, we touched on the complex topic of SEO and we also compared the difference between Inbound and Outbound marketing.
E-commerce is a competitive business. Therefore, it's very important to understand every single stage of the sales funnel. Remember that all of the funnel stages are connected. The bottom of your funnel impacts the top. This is the main strength of Inbound Marketing.
The final question is: Are you ready to use Inbound Marketing on your eCommerce website and maximise your results?
Do you work in eCommerce and want to learn more? Are you interested in Inbound Marketing and the options for your business?