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‘Make a great product, and they will come’ has never been less true than in today’s crowded marketplace. For e-commerce businesses, having a watertight marketing strategy is essential in getting your brand noticed and converting visitors into returning customers.

A marketing strategy is something that evolves over time, incorporating the latest techniques and channels. As such, this guide isn’t just for new e-commerce businesses or products. If you feel like your marketing strategy could be working harder, many of the elements below can easily be moulded to suit your business.

With that in mind, here are the eight most important areas that you should include in your e-commerce marketing strategy, as well as ways to measure and refine your processes.

1. Develop a mission statement

A mission statement defines who you are as a business. It’s the first thing that customers will see on your ‘About Us’ page and will define your brand story. Mission statements are particularly useful for larger organisations, or those who work across different sectors, as they provide focus and consistency across different areas. This post from 60-Second Marketer covers how to create a mission statement.

mission statement

Image source: 60secondmarketer

2. Build buyer personas

Buyer personas are fictional, generalised representations of your ideal customer. They help your team to understand and visualise your audience in order to focus marketing efforts towards this demographic.

You can use existing customer data to form personas, as well as interviewing a representative customer group for more in-depth insights. You’ll need information such as demographics, what channels the customer uses and who influences them. Hubspot’s post explains how to create buyer personas in more detail.

3. Engage in competitor analysis

You may know exactly who your competitors are, but take a deeper look at their digital strategies and it can fuel your own marketing initiatives. You can easily find out which competitors rank highest for key search terms. Then there are a number of helpful competitor analysis tools that will give you statistics on web traffic and what channels competitors’ customers are using. Details of their backlink profiles may also give you ideas for your own link building strategy.

4. Set your goals

Now that you have a clearer picture of who your customers are and what your competitors are doing, you should set some measurable goals in your marketing strategy. This part of your plan will be ever-evolving, so it’s important to revisit yours regularly.

You need to set achievable goals which cover all areas of marketing. For example, ask yourself what is an attainable figure for new customer acquisition or engagement on social. You can also audit your current website content and set yourself the target of increasing web traffic by a certain percentage.

5. Produce engaging content

Content works in a number of ways to bolster your e-commerce website, so it’s key to incorporate a content strategy into your overall marketing plan. Firstly, content is a tool for driving traffic to your website through optimised product descriptions and landing pages. Although you may sell products that can be found elsewhere online, it’s important that your content is unique in order to avoid duplication issues.

Another area where content is important is in encouraging conversion through the use of attractive product descriptions and compelling CTAs. A content strategy will cover all channels and content types, integrating them into an overarching plan – from creating a blog of original articles; to driving traffic to your product pages; producing video content for social; or formulating engaging email newsletters.

6. CRO

Content is just one element of your website that will affect conversion. You should make Conversion Rate Optimisation (CRO) a part of your marketing strategy and regularly set aside time to split test any new pages added to your website. Using heatmaps and funnels like the ones from Mouseflow allows you to see where customers are focusing their attention on your site and what journey they take between pages.

Mouseflow - Session Replay, Heatmaps, Funnels, Forms & User Feedback

You can use this information to improve menu navigation, checkout processes, mobile functionality and more through A/B testing. By changing one element at a time, from wording to imagery and the placement of important information and links, you can quantifiably test what works best.

Another element that has proven CRO results is adding a review function to your website. This user-generated content is trustworthy as well as answering customers’ questions. Plus, to alleviate the common issue of customers leaving things in their cart without checking out you can add a campaign of remarketing, or retargeting, to your strategy. Either email customers to ask if they forgot to checkout or use limited-time display ads reminding people of what they viewed.

7. One-off campaigns

As well as ongoing keyword optimisation to improve your on-page SEO, you’ll also need to plan limited-time campaigns. These often revolve around big events for your company, such as new product launches or upcoming holiday deals.

Sponsored ads on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are ideal for targeting certain demographics. You pay for a set amount of time, so you can run the campaign from the two weeks leading up to an event or the month before a big holiday.

Another one-off example would be hiring a social influencer to review some of your products and post about them for a short period. Using visual channels like YouTube and Instagram, influencers can demonstrate your product to a well-established following.

8. Retention and analysis

As you add more campaigns to your marketing strategy, remember to rinse all content through your buyer personas (do they fit the target audience?) and your mission statement (does the content align with your beliefs and style?).

You’ll also need to track your efforts and the responses to them – whether through Google Analytics, customer feedback or social media statistics. Analysing engagement and traffic allows you to measure the effectiveness and ROI of each campaign, as well as streamline your efforts for a personalised user experience.

Each e-commerce business is different and will have its own set of strategic goals, which will change over time. Therefore, it’s important for your marketing strategy to be flexible and for you to regularly test different marketing channels and strategies to see which ones are most effective.

Keeping up to date with the latest marketing techniques to use in your strategy can be hard work. For more advice on both tried-and-tested and emerging e-commerce marketing strategies, get in touch with us.

It’s easy to get wrapped up in your own SEO strategy, but if you really want to be successful it’s vital to look at the bigger picture. Even if your business offers a service that’s relatively niche, zoom out and you’ll see that your brand is just a small part of its industry and contends for digital real estate with both local and national competitors.

Once you start to gain a better idea of the businesses that make up your industry’s presence online, the need for effective competitor analysis becomes clear. A solid understanding of what is and isn’t working for key competitors within your field is a great place to start to help improve your own digital strategy.

Continue reading to discover the ins and outs of this cost-effective SEO strategy.

What is competitor analysis?

What is competitor analysis?

Competitor analysis is simply the process of analysing the digital profile of your competitors. The aim is to develop a deeper understanding of what does and doesn’t work within your industry, shaping your own digital presence in the process.

Competitor analysis can be as in-depth as you see fit, however a few key factors to take into consideration include:

• Keyword targeting

• Quality and length of written content

• Average search rankings

• Engagement rates

• Content structure and imagery

• Backlink profiles

The benefits of competitor analysis

Competitor analysis is a cost-effective tactic that will help highlight the strengths and weaknesses of your key competitors. From identifying content gaps that exist within the industry to giving some context to your own performance, the benefits of engaging in effective competitor analysis include:

• Gaining an insight into the performance of your competitors and understanding more about their SEO strategy

• Learning more about your industry as a whole, including what works and what doesn’t within the digital sphere

• Putting your own SEO performance into perspective and establishing new ways to improve moving forward

• Understanding more about your target audience and analysing their online behaviours and processes

Competitor analysis: a simple how-to

Ho-to guide to competitor analysis

By definition, competitor analysis is all about getting to know the brands that are directly competing for the same business as yours. We recommend looking at between five and eight key competitors - but any more than three is useful. Competitors can be identified as a result of your existing knowledge of the industry, or through tools that offer features relating to competitor analysis, such as SEMRush. (See more on tools to use below.)

First, analyse their strengths. Discover what’s working for the brands that currently rank highly within your sector and develop your SEO strategy to incorporate these.

Next, identify their weaknesses. Perhaps the brand ranking first on Google is particularly good at targeting keywords with a high search volume, but the content itself performs poorly at encouraging user engagement and conversions. Conversely, your primary competitor may have produced some great quality content that engages the audience, yet doing the same thing and building a stronger catalogue of backlinks could see your business overtaking them in Google rankings.

Once you’ve identified the individual strengths and weaknesses of your competitors, the final step is to collate your findings and make observations about the industry as a whole. Are there any specific gaps that you’re in a position to fill? Take the role of the consumer and ask exactly what information they’re likely to be looking for. If it isn’t currently provided, or the existing knowledge could be improved upon, this is the kind of content you’ll want to focus on creating in the immediate future.

The right tools for the job

Online tools

The breadth of tools you use are largely dependent on how in-depth you want your analysis to be. Looking at how well your competitors are ranking for specific keywords is as simple as performing a basic Google search, which is also the method to use if you’re interested in discovering how the quality of their landing page content stacks up against yours.

When it comes to delving deeper into the metrics and analytics however, there are a number of tools out there that can help to do the job. SimilarWeb gives good insight into site performance and traffic, enabling you to see which pages are performing well and exactly which channels users are reaching that content through. You can also benchmark your performance against other similar websites.

SEMRush is a valuable tool that provides data on competitor keyword rankings and performance. MOZ Pro and Majestic will provide information on the backlink profile of your competitors.

To discover more about how competitor analysis could boost your SEO efforts, get in touch today.

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