Sample Ecommerce Marketing Plan For Your Online Business
by Kathleen Booth, on Mar 30, 2021 9:00:00 AM
Ecommerce has been taking bites out of retail sales for years now, a trend only exacerbated by the 2020 pandemic, with ecommerce sales now accounting for 21.3% of total retail sales.
Signs are reading that the ultimate future of retail may be entirely online, and that ecommerce will continue to take chunks out of retail sales.
So as more buyers turn to online sources for their shopping needs, how do you get their attention and drive them to your online store?
Setting up an effective ecommerce marketing strategy to funnel online shoppers to your business is always a great first step.
Here we have laid out a sample ecommerce marketing plan to help you get started.
This will act as the formal summary of the rest of your marketing plan. Make a table of contents that outlines the rest of your marketing plan, and then follow it up with a short paragraph (3-4 sentences) that highlights where your marketing efforts are right now, what you are trying to accomplish, and how you are planning to make it happen.
Define Your Products and Services
This is the part of your strategy where you want to clearly define what it is your business is offering. What values are you trying to bring to customers and how will you curate their experience online?
Next, you’re going to want to explain the whats, hows, and (most importantly) whys of your business.
- Why does your ecommerce business exist?
- What problems are you trying to help solve, what products are you offering, and/or what do you hope to change?
- What kind of experience do you want to give your customers?
- How are you going to make it all happen?
Having a clear mission statement in your marketing will let your team know what your goals are, why they matter, how your strategy is going to pull it all together.
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Trackable Goals and Objectives
Here is where you will lay out which key performance indicators, or KPIs, your strategy is going to focus on across each of your online platforms. These KPIs are used to track your progress in a number of different areas.
- For your website: KPIs track users as they travel through your marketing funnel. Browse through your platform’s provided analytics. See how much organic traffic you are getting and make sure to check up on page visits and bounce rates, as well as how much time users are spending viewing your content. You will also want to keep a keen eye on your cart conversion vs. abandonment rate. Knowing these stats will tell you at what point you are losing most of your traffic and give you an idea of where you need to make improvements.
- For email: Focus on open rates, unsubscribes, and click through rates (clicks that bring users to your site). This will help you to understand how many of the people on your email list are actually engaged, and at what rate they are visiting your site and, ultimately, making purchases.
- For social media: Focus on engagement KPIs such as likes, shares, and comments. Next, compare those metrics to each channel’s click through rates to see how effective each of your social profiles is at not only engaging customers, but also driving traffic to your site and getting shoppers to convert.
Market Research and Analysis
Here you will want to bring out all the research you have completed to get to know who your competitors are, how they are doing, what sets you apart from them, as well as who your target customer is and how you plan on reaching them.
Another important thing not to overlook is where you believe your specific industry will be in the coming years.
Ecommerce had been growing for years, and then skyrocketed during the COVID pandemic. If you are in retail, knowing that your ecommerce store will likely grow over the coming years will help you decide how much to invest in marketing to try and attract users to your site.
Take the time to study and learn from your competitors' ecommerce business.
If a specific avenue of marketing is working for them, you may want to try and go after their audience through the same channels. If they seem to be struggling with a certain audience, you may want to avoid that market.
Or better yet, try and learn how their strategy may be failing to engage with certain audiences to see if you can do a better job.
Try to gather what it is that makes their product so appealing to their customers, if their pricing model is working for them, and how they may be distributing their products.
In the end, you’ll want a thorough analysis to learn what is making your audience engage with their products and services, and what is turning them away.
Here is where you are going to set yourself apart from your competition.
- What makes your product unique?
- Are you going to be able to out price your competitors?
- If a customer is paying more for your product, what is the value they are getting for your higher prices?
Sum it all up in this section and identify areas where you can carve out a competitive advantage.
A SWOT Analysis breaks down your Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats.
Strengths and Weaknesses are usually internal to your business. Think about what gives your ecommerce business a competitive edge, but also what unique challenges it brings with it.
For example, you may have your own curated website that brings a lot of power to the individuality of your brand, but the cost associated with maintaining your website may make your products more expensive than similar products found on platforms like Amazon.
On the other hand, Opportunities and Threats are usually considered variables external to your strategy. Has a new kind of market brought in a unique problem you can solve? Are customers looking for something different? What kind of outside limitations to your goals exist?
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A buyer persona is a fictional representation of your ideal customer. Brainstorm who it is you think you're selling to by asking yourself what kinds of problems your ecommerce business is trying to solve, and for whom you are solving them. Then, back this up and expand upon it by checking your web analytics and speaking with your sales team to see what kinds of leads they're getting.
Some things to consider:
- Bio: Who are they and what do they do? Things like gender, age, industry, education, and job title are great places to start.
- Pains: What problems in their jobs/lives are causing them friction and making things more difficult than they need to be?
- Fears: What about their jobs/lives in causing them anxiety?
- Goals: What do they want? How do they measure success?
- Responsibilities: What roles do they play and what do they need to fulfill their responsibilities?
- Purchasing Power: How much autonomy do they have to make purchases?
Where Are You Going to Advertise? How Are You Going to Reach Your Audience?
Once you have an idea of who your buyer is, take some time to research where they spend their time while online. You will also want to make sure that the channels through which you decide to market your products align with your brand.
For instance, if you’re selling custom artwork over the internet, trying to reach people through LinkedIn may not be the best strategy whereas using something more visual like Instagram would probably be a logical place to start.
Here's a great article about social media demographics to help you get started.
Another important thing not to overlook is where you believe your specific industry is heading.
If you are in retail, knowing that your ecommerce store will likely grow over the coming years will help you decide how much to invest in marketing users to your site.
Similarly, recognizing the growth or decline in the interest of certain ecommerce products should inform you how to prepare your marketing strategy in the future.
Of course you are also going to want to plan out how you expect to pay for all this. The number one important thing to stay focused on here is sticking to things that have proven successful in the past, and really pinning down where your business is now before making plans to expand.
Know Your Sales Funnel
The sales funnel includes the stages that a shopper goes through when making a purchase, from learning about your brand to making a conversion on your site. Knowing where in the funnel you are gaining and losing customers will teach you what parts of your marketing are working and where you might need to spend more to make improvements.
Things To Consider:
- Number of site visits you are seeing each month
- How many of those visits lead to your product page
- How many visitors put a product in their cart
- How many visitors either abandon their cart or make a purchase
- What your average cart value is
Identify Your Revenue and Operating Expenses
If you are a business making less than five million a year in revenue, the US Small Business Administration recommends allocating 7-8 percent of your revenue to marketing.
With that rule of thumb in mind, make sure your ecommerce marketing plan fits within that margin and that you are not spreading your labor too thinly.
Test, Revisit, and Revise
Experimentation is key. If you find you’re spending too much on a channel or tactic that isn’t working out for you, consider revisiting your strategy to make better use of your budget.
Outline Your Plan’s Contributors and Their Responsibilities
Now that you have outlined your marketing plan, it's time to assign roles and responsibilities to your team members. Explain which part each person will play in your overall marketing plan and how they’re going help accomplish your business goals as a whole.