eCommerce Marketing – Where Do I Start?!?!

Posted September 5, 2017 by   in Ecommerce Marketing, Email Marketing, Marketing Statistics, Marketing Strategy

“What is eCommerce Marketing and what is the most effective way to grow my business?” This is the number one question our eCommerce marketing agency receives from etailers who are looking to grow from 7 figures to 8 figures in annual revenue.

Many etailers start their business because they are highly effective at one (or a few) element of their business, and most often, that one element is not marketing. It’s not uncommon for businesses to be highly effective at merchandising, or manufacturing or even product engineering, but they don’t know where to begin when it comes to driving sales for their eCommerce business. It is not uncommon that we hear, “what is eCommerce marketing and where do I start?”.

If you’re primed to grow your 7-figure eCommerce business, you may be asking the very same question. The answer is vast and complex so to begin, let’s start with a definition.

Question: What is eCommerce Marketing?

Definition: eCommerce Marketing is the process of creating awareness of the products you sell, acquiring shoppers to your storefront, and convincing shoppers to buy from your store – not only once, but time and time again.


eCommerce Marketing is broken down into 4 main systems: demand generation, acquisition, conversion and retention. To simplify the conversation a bit, we’re going to assume that consumers are already aware of your product and they have a self-identified need. If that is not the case, stop reading, give us a call, and we’ll walk you through demand generation.


One of the most important principles about eCommerce marketing that you must know, is that online retail is not like the movie Field of Dreams. “If you build it, they will come” doesn’t work here. There are way too many retailers selling products online and it’s far too easy for consumers to find those retailers.

You must go get them. Go get the consumers. You should determine where they are spending their time on the Internet, present your product(s) and a compelling reason why they should buy from you and not the 47 other retailers, and get them to your store/website.

The good news, is there are a number of channels that we can utilize to get in front of consumers. Below is a short list of the major ones.

  • Amazon
  • Search Engines (Google, Bing, Yahoo)
  • YouTube
  • Comparison Shopping Engines
  • Review Websites
  • Coupon Websites
  • Facebook
  • Pinterest
  • Instagram

Amazon is worth noting here as it’s really a marketplace and not a traditional acquisition channel. There is a lot that goes into selling your products on Amazon, but for this conversation let’s simply acknowledge that it is a channel/source that enables you to get your product in front of consumers.

While these channels can provide access to customers who may want to purchase your product, inevitability, there are 1-2 that will provide the best return. Generally speaking, Amazon and Search Engines offer the most access to consumers who are “shopping” or looking for information on how to use products. Amazon recently surpassed Google as the channel on which consumers start their online product search. See the article and chart below.

More online product searches start on Amazon than Google

The second annual State of Amazon study by BloomReach found that 55% of consumers start their online product searches on Amazon, compared to 28% who opt for a search engine.

More online product searches start on Amazon than Google

Amazon and Google, as with most of the other channels listed above, offer retailers the option of targeting consumers via organic or paid advertising means. Organic search delivers more volume at a better cost per lead than paid search. However, SEO has a higher difficulty level and takes considerable time to get top rankings. Whereas paid search can offer immediate traffic and revenue.

Both offer value and typically utilizing both channels offers the greatest ROI. Once you’ve figured out what acquisition model works best for your brand and customers, now we need to think about how we’re going to get those people to buy from us.



To grow your retail business, you need to focus on growing your conversation rate. Statistically most conversion rates suck! If you’re rocking a 2-3% conversion rate, you’re doing better than most. The brutal reality is that for every 100 people who come to your website, only 2 or 3 of them will buy from you.

Conversion Rates

When dealing with relatively small numbers, incremental change typically seems insignificant. However, if you do the math, even increasing your conversion rate from a 2.5% to a 3% can have a significant impact on your revenue, and cash in the bank.

Increasing your conversion rate from 2.5% to 3% equates to a 20% increase. That’s also an increase of 20% on your orders, and revenue. So, in other words if you’re a $4M business with a 2.5% conversion rate, and you increase to a 3% conversion rate, you just added $800,000 to your top line.

Increasing your conversion rate (CR) is a difficult and tedious task, as there are numerous factors, and each typically offers a minor impact on the overall CR. Traffic or acquisition sources, do have a big variance in their individual conversion rates. Determining which traffic sources offer the highest volume of conversions and the best CR can go a long way towards moving the needle.

Traffic Sources

By the numbers, Organic traffic converts the lowest at 1.18% and Facebook PPC the highest at 1.56%. See the below chart.

Ecommerce Conversion Rate by Traffic Source

Ecommerce Conversion Rate by Traffic Source

Source: Compass Ecommerce Conversion Rate Benchmarks


Email Marketing

You’ll noticed that I excluded Email from my prior statement. I believe email is not an acquisition source but it is a traffic source. In other words, email can’t help getting shoppers to your store for the first time, but it can bring them back to the store to buy. Take notice of the “bring them back to the store to buy” part.

The inherent downfall of all eCommerce acquisition channels is that they just don’t convert well! People are fickle, and easily distracted. Most conversions don’t occur on the first visit, therefore to increase conversions you must find a way to get the shopper to come back.ecommerce email marketing

Getting the consumer’s email address so you can market to them later, is more important than getting them to convert on the initial visit. Email is the most effective way to get consumers to come back to your store, and buy from you but it’s complicated. At a minimum, there are three major components to eCommerce email marketing, and below are a few articles to provide more context if needed.

Ecommerce Email Marketing Basics

  • Email address capture
  • Behavioral/automated emails
  • Promotion/campaign emails

Ecommerce Email Marketing Articles

Email marketing is your greatest defense against a low conversion rate. It is one of the most complex elements of eCommerce marketing but when done correctly it can equate to 30-50% of your revenues.

Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) & A/B testing

Aside from email, eCommerce store owners can also increase conversion rates by performing on-site conversion rate optimization testing – also known as A/B testing. The Devil is in the detail with CRO. There are no big wins. Lots and lots of testing of seemingly small(ish) elements on the pages the customers see. Move the Add to Cart button here. Change the color from Y to X. Add a drop shadow to the review stars. Show the MSRP pricing. Don’t show the MSRP pricing. The list goes on and on and it’s crucial, to if nothing else your own sanity, to prioritize your list of A/B test and work from what you perceive to be the most valuable down the list.

You need to consider testing for every major element such as the search box, filtering, and the buy button, but also at each state of the purchase funnel.

There are several good tools which enable the non-developer to create and deploy A/B tests. JustUno is one of the premier tools and here’s a good article from them about CRO for eCommerce. 13 Ecommerce Conversion Optimization Examples (2017 Case Studies)



The retention of the customers is one of the least considered systems for eCommerce marketing. We worked so hard, and/or spend so much money to attract and convert these consumers, and etailers typically do very little to keep these customers coming back time and time again. In many regards, paid advertising acquisition tactics don’t generate a profit on the first order. It’s not until the customer makes a second or third order does that customer become profitable for the store. It’s the lifetime value (LTV) of the customer that represent the up-side to the store, and not just the initial purchase.

To earn repeat purchases from customers you need to first and foremost offer good products at fair pricing, inexpensive shipping and great customer service. These may seem like obvious foundational elements to many but you should spend time assessing each of these areas of business multiple times a year.

On top of the foundational elements there are elements we can offer customers as enticement to continue buying with us.

  • Customer Accounts for Checkout
  • One Click Purchase for future Orders
  • Engaging Product Content
  • Loyalty Programs
  • Cross Selling of Related Products
  • Segmented Promotional Emails based on Purchase History

Several of these retention elements can be done through store apps or some minor customizations to your website theme. is one of the more well-known customer loyalty apps and Bold Commerce provides a suite of apps to help with cross selling and upselling.


Double Your eCommerce Business

eCommerce Marketing is broken down into 4 main systems: demand generation, acquisition, conversion and retention. Building out your acquisition, conversion and retention models can both grow your top line revenues but also increase profitability. For those eCommerce businesses who are looking for scalable growth, increasing each of these systems by just 33% can double your business.

Set a realistic growth goal and systematically attack each of these areas based on what you perceive will provide the customer the most value.