Ecommerce has been growing by leaps and bounds. In the US alone, consumers spent over $600 billion in 2019, up by 14% from the previous year (Digital Commerce 360). Nasdaq is predicting that by the year 2040 as much as 95% of all shopping will be done online.
With all the new online platforms and tools coming out every year, for business owners, the challenge remains the same - how to optimize their site and marketing channels to achieve massive growth.
So many of our clients are making massive improvements with their paid ads campaigns using Mayple’s platform but they are still having a difficult time with the other parts of their business such as - email marketing, conversion rate optimization, and influencer marketing.
We know that it’s really difficult to grow an ecommerce business.
You start out excited, you experience a few big wins in a particular channel and then you get stuck. You don’t know what to invest in next and you don’t really want to expand your marketing team.
You need proof that something will really work, you want to test the waters before you throw thousands of dollars into something and have it fail.
You see other ecommerce companies succeeding left and right and you just don’t know how to grow yours.
We wrote this guide specifically for ecommerce business owners like yourself that are stuck, and we’ve got the solution you need.
In this guide, we bring you the top seven ecommerce strategies and channels that will help you to break through the brick wall and sell more than $1M this year. So if you have an ecommerce business that’s making $5K-$25K per month or more, and you’re not sure how to get over the hump, then you’ve come to the right place.
Here are the top seven ecommerce digital marketing strategies that are used by the experts that will help you get clarity on where to go next, and how to achieve your goals.
Buckle up, and let’s dive in.
Embrace omnichannel marketing
I’m always surprised when I hear of ecommerce shops that aren’t utilizing all the marketing channels that are available to them. If you’re one of these shops it’s time to embrace omnichannel thinking.
One of the greatest misconceptions in digital marketing is this idea of working on one channel at a time. And while it was certainly the case 8-10 years ago, when Facebook ads and Google ads were just becoming popular, the way users shop online has dramatically changed since then.
Google came up with the concept of Zero Moment of Truth (ZMOT) to better explain this idea of the customer journey. There are tens if not hundreds of touchpoints across a variety of channels that happen before a consumer makes a purchase and it’s really important for any ecommerce store to take advantage of them.
For example, a customer might see an ad on Facebook, then open their email, then go and find a coupon, and finally get reminded by their friend and come to the site by searching for it on Google.
If the online store is only looking at last touch attribution then it would seem that the customer came to the site directly from an organic search but in reality, all of the other channels along the way helped to convert this lead to a paying customer.
According to Google, consumers consulted with an average of 10.4 new media channels before making their purchase, and this was data from 2011. Can you imagine how many more channels are available now that didn’t exist then?
Here are a few top channels that you should explore and examples of successful omnichannel campaigns.
One of the most effective ways to sell to your audience is via a chatbot. Consumers prefer the convenience of shopping on the go and ecommerce brands are starting to utilize chatbots successfully.
Chatbots are quickly gaining popularity and for good reason.
Marketers like Neil Patel have been using chatbots on Facebook Messenger to get 88% open rates and 56% CTRs.
What is a chatbot?
A chatbot is when a company sets up a series of automated chat messages through a social media platform like Facebook Messenger or a mobile app like WhatsApp. Chatbots can involve sophisticated AI but it’s not required.
Chatbots provide an automated way to have a 1:1 conversation with a person
The most common platform to build a chatbot on is Facebook Messenger but there are many others - Alexa, Kik, Slack, Telegram, WhatsApp, Google Assistant.
Here’s the famous Cleo chatbot that helps people budget and save:
Chatbots can send messages that contain text, GIF, images, and even videos.
Chatbots can also send automated flows and bring your users through marketing funnels.
And perhaps the most powerful feature for eCommerce brands is that chatbots can also display your catalog and help a customer make a purchase.
What are the benefits of using a chatbot?
Chatbots have a ton of benefits to them.
Convenience - customers are able to get serviced in under 24 hours, without having to wait for a human rep. They are also able to browse through a catalog and order the product using a chatbot.
It also saves the customer so much time. Data shows that average response times for live chat are 2 minutes versus 10 hours for social and 17 hours for email.
It’s interactive - chatbots provide a really fun way for customers to interact with a brand. And it’s a way for a brand to showcase its values, products, and services without
It’s more personal - 34% of retail customers say that they would rather speaking with a chatbot than a live rep (Statista)
It’s cost-saving - you can use a chatbot 24/7 without having to hire customer service reps to work during odd hours of the night. Businesses report up to 30% savings using chatbots (IBM).
Chatbots also help brands make more money.
Lego has built out a chatbot that they call “Ralph”. It created a simple and effective shopping experience for the user by providing personalized recommendations and even has the ability to process orders right on Facebook Messenger.
Ralph is so successful that it is driving over 25% of all social media sales and provides a conversion that’s 8.4 times higher than Facebook ads.
How do you build a chatbot?
There are several ways that you could build a chatbot.
Build your own
It’s really easy.
They have a lot of templates that you could use to set up automatic messages and flows.
And the best part is that they are built for eCommerce.
Use a chatbot template
If you have something specific in mind, then you can buy a template.
Let’s say you want to have a fitness business, then you can buy a template that will have all the features you need.
Botmakers has a bunch of chatbot templates that you could choose from.
Hire with a chatbot agency
You could also have a chatbot agency to make a chatbot for you.
This is for large brands that have the budget and want to save on time and human resources.
There are hundreds of chatbot agencies out there and you can find most of them on Clutch.
Top chatbot marketing strategies
Let’s cover a few ways that you can use chatbots to increase your eCommerce sales.
Get more leads
The first way to use chatbots is to get more leads.
You can do this by using a simple welcome popup with a chatbot lead form in it.
You can use a platform like Recart or Manychat to create the popup.
And the only difference is that it will bring users to subscribe to your chatbot, instead of asking for their email.
After they are subscribers you can always ask for their email and get them connected to two channels of communication.
Another really cool strategy is to display a 2-step popup. One that asks for an email subscription and then brings them to subscribe to the chatbot.
Here’s a famous example from the marketing wiz Andrew Warner.
He’s got a 2-step popup.
Here’s the first part:
It first asks the user to subscribe using their email.
And then it displays the Messenger part of the popup sequence:
Another great way to use a chatbot is through Messenger ads.
Facebook launched this feature back in 2017 and it was met with some skepticism.
Since then, the number of Messenger users grew to over 1.2 billion in April (just 3 months after the launch of the ads feature).
Messenger ads are now widely used by eCommerce brands and studies show that they work really well. On average, they can reduce the cost per lead by 30x-50x, compared to regular Facebook display ads (MobileMonkey).
Here’s an example from I Am Pop.
The ad looks like a regular chat message, and once the user clicks on the “Yes!” button then they get sent another message and get entered into the flow.
A great strategy is to build lookalike audiences and then target them with these ads.
Anyone that interacts with the Messenger ad gets into the chat subscription list and adds another lead to your funnel!
Boost your content traffic and conversions
You can also use a chatbot to get more eyeballs on your content and get more conversions from it.
You can use Manychat to create a Messenger landing page.
Then write a quick post on social media that leads users to the Manychat landing page that you’ve created.
Then, everytime you send out your newsletter, send a chat message to your entire list, and see your traffic skyrocket.
This provides a much more engaging way for your audience to view your content.
STRATEGY: How Blush and Bar got 11K Messenger subscribers and $39K in sales
Does chatbot marketing still seem complicated?
Here’s a super simple strategy that Blush and Bar used to get 11,000 new subscribers on Messenger, which lead them to make $39,000 in sales.
Blush and Bar is a unique jewelry brand.
All their jewelry is handmade (they make it all in-house) and they offer a lifetime warranty on everything.
Yeah, you read that correctly. Wow.
And the best part, all their stuff is super affordable, around $59-99 per ring.
They were struggling with getting leads on their site until they tried using a chatbot.
Here’s what they did.
They first launched a Messenger popup for mobile and desktop.
And you know how much we love wheels, they used the “flywheel” popup design from Recart:
Then they powered up a really simple conversational flow.
Once the user subscribed, they were sent a few automated follow-up messages.
Here’s their flow:
If you notice, one of the first messages asked for an email.
Once the user put in their email they were sent to Klaviyo, where the brand could target them with their promotional email campaigns.
Brilliant but simple.
If you’d like to learn more, we’ve got a really great video for you.
Here’s a great video from Larry Kim, CEO of the chatbot platform MobileMonkey, where he goes over some of the best chatbot strategies for marketers.
Push notifications are those messages that you get on mobile devices or on web browsers. They are extremely effective by themselves and in combination with ecommerce email campaigns.
Push notifications get 4X the CTR’s of emails at 8-10% on average.
How do you create a Push Notification?
It’s really easy to set them up.
There are a variety of tools that integrate with your eCommerce platform and send these notifications for you.
For example, if you are using Shopify then you can use an app like Subscribers.
Here’s how you go about doing that.
Step 1 - Login to Subscribers
When you go to their site you will see the little login button on the top right? Make an account and login.
Notice Neil Pate’s shining face, if you see it means you are in the right place.
Step 2 - Insert the code into your site
Next, install the code on your site. You can use their WordPress plugin or Google Tag Manager, or just put it in manually yourself.
Make sure that you test whether the code is firing and then when Subscribers gives you the green light, then you are good to go.
Step 3 - Create a new notification
Now it’s time to create a new notification.
Click on “ + New Notification” on the left menu, and create a title and the body of the message. Then paste the destination URL and add the appropriate UTM parameters.
And this is what it would look like on the various devices that your site users might be using:
Step 4 - Send your notification
Once you've created your notification click send or schedule it for a different time and you’re all set.
STRATEGY: Send out a weekly push notification with your weekly email
One of the home decor brands that we've worked with, Brightech, created a really successful push notification strategy.
They were able to grow their email marketing revenue 10X by combining their emails with push notifications.
Here is how they did it.
They would send their weekly newsletter emails on Sunday mornings, around 10 am.
They found that they would get more sales when they first sent a push notification at 8 am.
Now you might think, that’s brutal!
8 am on a Sunday?!
In fact, these notifications were web-only, so they would appear when the customer would first open their browser.
Which means, whenever they would wake up, start checking their email, shopping online, or look at the latest cat memes, they would see this notification.
This particular brand was in the home decor space, and they were able to get CTR’s as high as 4-8%, which is about double the CTR on an average email newsletter.
Here’s a close up of their most successful push notification (8% CTR):
The top push notification tools for eCommerce
There are a variety of tools you could use to create push notifications.
Here are a few of the best ones to use for your eCommerce store:
VWO - is one of the leading push notification companies and has some chatbot features as well.
Subscribers - a great tool to use for beginners, has a freemium plan, and some advanced eCommerce features like recurring notifications and welcome drip campaigns.
OneSignal - another great free tool that sends mobile push notifications, web, in-app, as well as email notifications.
LeanPlum - a great tool to use for larger businesses and enterprises. It has a ton of features and advanced integrations, A/B testing, reporting, analytics, and an advanced campaign builder.
PushBots - this tool is great for a more advanced marketer and has some of the advanced features for a low price ($29/mo). Features include localization, smart schedule, targeting, and A/B test. It has a unique polls feature that allows you to send out polls to your mobile users.
MobileMonkey - no list would be complete without this tool. This is a great tool for all of your mobile communication. You can use MobileMonkey to set up SMS, chatbots, Facebook Messenger ads, live chat, and push notifications.
Text messages (SMS)
Text messages are a super powerful marketing channel for eCommerce businesses.
The average open rates for a text messages are around 98%.
It’s predicted that 48.7 million consumers have opted in to receive SMS messages from businesses (99Firms).
Also, SMS is really personal.
SMS response rates are 295% higher than phone call response rates.
How do you send out text messages?
If you are already using email software for your eCommerce store, chances are you might have the SMS features already built-in.
For example, Klaviyo offers a full suite of SMS features.
Here’s how you go about creating a text message campaign.
Step 1 - Create the campaign
Step 2 - Select your recipients
Select the specific list that you want to send your text message campaign to.
Make sure that you’ve gathered their phone numbers in the checkout or through other marketing campaigns.
It could be that you have an extensive list of email subscribers, but none of them have a phone number. In that case, you would have to first collect that information and then create your SMS campaign.
Step 3 - Write your text message
Here is where you would write the body of your message.
Step 4 - check the settings and send
Next, check the settings and make sure that everything looks correct.
Make sure that the tracking is right, that you’ve selected the right list (see screenshot below), and that the cost looks right.
Different providers will charge you different rates per text, so it’s a good idea to shop around if you’re not set on using a specific tool.
When everything looks right, click to schedule or send your campaign.
Now that you know how to set up your SMS marketing campaign, let’s talk about the different ways that you can grow your list of SMS subscribers.
Best ways to grow your SMS list
Before you send any text message campaigns, you need to have a list of subscribers.
With eCommerce, it’s easier to do than with other businesses because your customers actually want (and expect) to hear from you after the purchase.
Customers expect to get:
- An order confirmation
- A shipping notification with a tracking number
- A delivery notification
- A reminder to leave a review 2-3 weeks after purchase
These are the standard touchpoints for any eCommerce store and customers love to receive these on their mobile phones, as notifications or text messages.
So you should ask for the customer’s phone number during checkout and explain what you will be using it for (the above-mentioned touchpoints).
Here’s an example of an SMS shipping confirmation from Omnisend:
Launch a referral program
Another great way to get phone numbers is by launching a referral program.
A great example is Robinhood’s referral program, where they offer their users a chance to win a free stock if they refer their friends.
Robinhood’s robust and enticing mobile referral program is certainly one of the reasons the company has grown to be valued at $11.2B in only 7 years after its founding in 2013.
Launch an SMS giveaway
Another great way to grow your SMS list is by running a giveaway.
You could post about it on your various social media channels, offering people to enter the giveaway by sending you a text message, or by putting in their number on your landing page.
A great example of this is a text giveaway that Chipotle launched back in 2014. The brand has seen a TON of success with SMS marketing since then, and it continues to be a successful marketing channel for them.
STRATEGY: SMS cart abandonment
Another great way to decrease cart abandonment is SMS marketing. When a user abandons their cart and you have their phone number on file you can send them a personalized text message offering a discount or a special offer.
One incredible tool that is bringing this to the next level is LiveRecover. It’s an ecommerce app that actually has live sales agents that interact with your customer on your behalf after they respond to a cart abandonment text.
So literally, when a customer abandons their cart, they get an automated text message from LiveRecover asking them if there’s anything they could do. If the customer responds to this message they begin a conversation with a live person that can answer their questions and offer them a discount on the spot.
This is like building an army of salespeople for the price of a few cups of coffee.
What’s even more powerful are their robust segmentation features and contextual insights. They can extract specific phrases from your customer’s texts to identify common questions or concerns and segment your customers based on specific cart conditions.
Top SMS tools for eCommerce
There are a ton of tools that you could use for SMS marketing for your eCommerce store.
Here are a few:
Tatango - a great platform for the beginner as well as an experienced marketer. It has a variety of features including messaging, workflows, subscriber analytics, automation and a great API if you really need something advanced.
Klaviyo - one of the most famous email marketing tools for eCommerce. Has a great SMS feature that lets you send text message campaigns. And the great part is that you have all of your SMS + email marketing in one place.
Avochato - a great tool if you don’t want to pay per text. They charge you a flat monthly rate for a certain number of texts that you want to send. They also have a great live chat feature, a shared inbox, templates and a slack integration.
BirdEye - this is a marketing platform that includes not only text messaging but also other chat solutions (web, video, etc.). It’s more geared towards enterprise business.
HeyMarket - a great affordable tool for all teams large and small. They have some unique features that allow customer service teams to better respond and tag customers.
Influencer marketing has become one of the most effective marketing channels out there. According to Business Insider, this industry was worth $8 billion in 2019 and on track to be worth $15 billion in 2022.
That’s billion with a capital B.
And while you may think that most of this revenue is coming from big brands, the data shows that 19% of marketers are going to spend between $1,000-$10,000 per year in 2020 (Mediakix).
So everyone’s doing it!
But which influencers should your business work with?
Let’s explore the different types of influencers there are.
4 Types of Influencers
In the last few years, marketers found that influencers with a bigger number of followers don’t necessarily have authentic or engaged audiences.
Do you remember Instagram’s crackdown on fake followers back in 2018?
So the influencers with smaller audiences tend to have much more engaged and focused audiences.
And this is ultimately what you want as a brand.
You want to get the most targeted reach to your ideal customer.
You don’t want to pay a wad of cash to a celebrity on Instagram and get no clicks or sales from the campaign.
That’s why influencers break down into 4 main types.
Nano influencers are the new trend.
These are influencers that have 1k-10k followers and are quickly becoming popular among many brands.
Here’s an example:
The problem with nano-influencers is that as soon as you feature one of them, they grow to over the 10k followers limit and become micro-influencers (😅).
Nano influencers have 2x the engagement of micro-influencers and are 3x cheaper.
Nano influencers will probably do a post for you for some free product or <$100.
The next category is micro-influencers
Micro-influencers are accounts with 10k-50k followers and have engagement rates of around 2-8%.
They were the hype of 2018-2020 and are still the most widely used category of influencers.
Here’s an example:
Chloe is a home decor influencer with an average engagement rate of 8%!
That’s 2066 likes and 72 comments per post, on average.
If you are working with an influencer and trying to figure out their engagement rate I would use an engagement calculator like this one.
Coming back to Chloe.
Her audience is way more engaged than an influencer with 300k+ followers or a celebrity with millions of followers.
The power of using micro-influencers is that they all have a certain style.
So if you are in the home decor industry, for example, you could find specific influencers whose audiences are into a design style that’s most similar to the products that you are trying to promote.
If you really want to work with some of the bigger names out then you should try your luck with macro-influencers.
These are the traditional influencers that everyone thinks of. They have around 100k-500K followers and get pretty expensive.
They usually charge in the thousands for a post or a story on Instagram.
Here’s an example:
Jamie is an incredible travel photographer.
His engagement rate is also through the roof - 5% - which is much higher than usual for a macro influencer.
Here’s another example - a vintage designer and sneaker influencer Sean Wotherspoon:
Sean has a much bigger following of over 1M followers and his engagement rate is at 3%.
The next category is celebrities.
Celebrities and celebrity influencers are almost synonymous these days.
These accounts have 1M+ followers, usually in the range of 5-10M.
Gary Vaynerchuk is a great example of someone who has crossed over to the celebrity status on Instagram.
He’s probably the most notable influencer in the entrepreneurship world on social media.
The challenge that marketers and ecommerce business owners are seeing is that the ROI is not all there when it comes to influencer marketing. It’s really hard to be ROI positive in influencer marketing for 3 reasons:
- It’s hard to find the right influencers.
- It’s impossible to know how an influencer will do on their first try.
- It takes many tries and a big budget to test and optimize campaigns properly.
Influencer marketing is not just another hat trick that you can throw money at and get good results every time.
The big brands out there like Nike and Adidas have extensive marketing teams, spend enormous amounts of money on some very large influencer databases like Klear or Grin, and pay their influencers thousands and thousands of dollars.
So what do you do if you don’t have the budget or the team to optimize these campaigns?
Here are a few ways that you can find influencers.
5 Ways to find the right influencer
Way 1: Look at your followers
The first thing you should do is to look within your following and your connections and see if there are influencers that follow you already.
Then you should reach out to them and ask them if they would like to promote your product or service on social media.
Way 2: Conduct a manual search
Another great way to find influencers is to search for them on social media. You can search for a topic or by using a hashtag.
And then you could check out a few and find the top influencers that post using those hashtags.
Way 3: Use influencer lists
If you are looking for a quick list of influencers on a topic you should use an influencer list.
That’s the fancy way of saying - just Google it!
Search for “top home decor influencers” and you will find a few really good comprehensive lists of the top influencers.
That’s a good starting point if you are looking to identify microniches in your industry.
Way 4: Use a database tool
A database tool is a marketing tool like NinjaOutreach, that simply displays the influencers for you and grants you a way to message them all.
This isn’t a full-blown influencer marketing tool, it won’t let you manage campaigns, see the influencer sales and ROI stats, or message them directly through the platform.
But it’s a good start.
Way 5: Use an influencer marketing tool
If you have the budget for it ($150-$1500/month), I would highly recommend using an influencer marketing tool.
Use these tools to do the following:
-Find the right influencers
-Send out messages directly on the platform
-Launch and manage campaigns
-Approve pieces of content
-Pay and track payments
-Set up contracts and agreements
The best part is that a lot of these networks are invite-only, so you’re getting access to the top 1-5% influencers.
Here’s a list of influencer tools you should check out:
And that's just a short list, there are probably hundreds out there.
Here’s a great influencer marketing strategy that really captures some of the best-practices and trends you should jump on.
STRATEGY: Monetize influencers more efficiently with MagicLinks
Some of these influencer You have to reach out to influencer agencies that have the database and the data on which influencers are right for your business and industry.
One of our favorite influencer agencies is Magiclinks. Magiclinks is an exclusive database of around 20,000 influencers that work to promote over 5,000 brands in various industries.
They’ve worked with some of the top brands like Lululemon, HP, Everlane and more.
The advantage of working with Magiclinks is that they create and manage influencer campaigns from start to finish.
They have the data on their thousands of influencers and unlike the conventional tools out there they are exclusively focused on the ROI and not on vanity metrics.
Much like what we do here at Mayple, Magiclinks picks the top influencers for your industry, with the best ROI numbers, to maximize your influencer campaigns.
So you don’t have to shoot in the dark.
These folks have made over 175K influencer videos and made more than $500M in sales for ecommerce brands.
Here’s an example - MagicLinks worked with a company called Tatcha, which is a luxury beauty brand from Japan.
They got 5 large YouTube influencers with a 3.3 million reach to create videos in which they feature some of the brand’s products.
The videos were published during the months of October - April, started strategically right before the holiday season in the US.
The results were astounding - a $3:1 ROAS, 5M+ YouTube views, 9%+ engagement rate, and Tatcha became one of the top 10 ranking skincare brands in the US.
Here’s one of the videos that they did for Tatcha:
So the advantages of using an exclusive influencer agency like Magiclinks are:
- They know which influencers are going to get you the ROI that you need
- They have the data on which campaigns are successful
- They only use the top influencers (they deny 95% of all the influencers that apply to the platform)
Here’s a video that they’ve done with the influencer Emily Grace for Urban Outfitters:
Affiliate marketing is one of the most popular marketing channels out there. The money that companies spend on affiliate marketing is said to increase to $8.2B by 2022, up from $5.4B in 2017.
What is affiliate marketing?
Affiliate marketing is a performance-based strategy where an eCommerce store rewards its partners (affiliates) with a commission for promoting its products.
There are typically 3 parties involved in an affiliate promotion:
1. The brand - those are the folks that make the product and hand out their affiliate links to other sites
2. The affiliate - that’s the site that promotes the product
3. The affiliate network - that’s a network that manages affiliates
How do you find affiliates?
Affiliates are sites that publish content about the brand’s products. There are a whole bunch of types of affiliates out there.
Here are a few of the types of affiliates that you can work with:
Coupon affiliates - these are coupon sites like Honey
Review sites - these are sites that display products and product reviews. An example is This is Why I’m Broke.
There are several ways to find the right affiliate to work with.
The first way is to manually search for blogs or coupon sites and then reach out to them.
Another way is to use a database like NinjaOutreach that has thousands of bloggers and sites that you could recruit to be your affiliates.
And finally, the most powerful way to reach affiliates is by using the large affiliate networks.
Leverage large affiliate networks
Most ecommerce companies are too small to really dominate the affiliate marketing game but if you are already spending $5-10K on your marketing efforts every month it’s time for you to look into large affiliate networks.
If you want to put your business on the map and work with some of the top publishers and affiliates out there you need to join one or a few of the large affiliate networks. These are PepperJam, Rakuten, Impact, and Share-a-sale.
The advantage of using a large affiliate network is that your ecommerce company can easily build relationships with and reach out to affiliates much faster and more effectively.
Here’s an example. CellarMasters is a high-quality wine company from Australia. Back in 2017 they wanted to penetrate the US market and chose to join Rakuten to connect with affiliates. They were able to quickly connect with Groupon, through Rakuten, and were able to structure several campaigns with them.
The results were astounding. Over 6,000 orders were placed via the campaign, close to 10,000 units were sold and 1,700 new customers acquired. The campaign outdid their sales projections by 73%.
Here are some high-level strategies of working with affiliates on these networks:
- Reach out to relevant affiliates only, avoid spreading yourself too thin or forming partnerships with completely irrelevant affiliates.
- Focus your efforts on the top affiliates in the network first.
- Go after a diverse group of affiliates, have a good mix of coupon affiliates, large publishers, affiliate networks (like Skimlinks), and smaller industry blogs.
User-generated content (UGC)
User-generated content is one of the most powerful growth strategies for any ecommerce business out there.
The process is simple.
You encourage your own customers to take images and videos of themselves using your product. Then you run a giveaway or a raffle to incentivize it for them a bit.
You’ve got hundreds if not thousands of pieces of content that are much more powerful in marketing your product then your own efforts.
The reason behind this is simple. People trust their friends' recommendations more than an advertisement. In fact, 2 out of 3 consumers trust their friend’s opinions online (Nielsen) and 85% of consumers find UGC content more influential than the brand’s own photos or videos (BusinessWire).
UGC is so powerful that it can turn a small brand into a global success. Here’s an example. Daniel Wellington is a watch brand that was a startup worth $15,000 back in 2014. In 2015, the company decided to work with influencers and encourage its users to submit their own content.
This is when they hit the goldmine.
First, they built a really sensational brand story and got really good at telling it on social media. Then, they reached out to thousands of influencers and enlisted their help. They gave out a ton of free product and special coupons to the influencers’ audiences.
And finally, when their brand was built just a bit on social media they came out with a branded hashtag and encouraged ordinary social media users to post their own photos of Daniel Wellington’s products.
The results were absolutely amazing.
The company’s Instagram account grew to 2.1M followers and they saw a 214% increase in profits. In 2015 alone they made over $220 million in revenue.
Not bad for a small startup.
So to recap:
The 3 steps to a successful UGC strategy are:
- Build a captivating brand story
- Hire influencers to create the first batch of images for you
- Encourage your customers to post UGC with a branded hashtag and a discount
Remember, use your audience data to pick out the best influencers to work with. Collaborate with brand and content strategists to come out with the right captivating mockups and messages for your campaign and watch the magic happen.
Conversion rate optimization (CRO)
Conversion rate optimization is a very powerful marketing approach that’s not used enough. The best marketing decisions are made using data and CRO thrives on data. Improving the conversion of your site is perhaps the simplest way to increase your bottom line.
One of the fundamental ways to improve your conversions is by A/B testing your site pages and buttons. You can simply set up a heat map to record your user’s activity and then determine which areas of the site are not used, which need to be removed or made more visible.
Maximize your site conversions with a complete CRO tech stack
There are a ton of ecommerce tools out there that improve conversions - social proof notifications, time-bound offers, cross-sell/upsell widgets, and even personalization. Yet the challenge is getting data and proving that each of these makes a statistically significant improvement to your bottom line.
It’s also hard to integrate them all into a coherent marketing strategy.
What’s the solution?
The trick is to use a comprehensive CRO platform like ConvertCart.
This tool combines all the moving parts and widgets into one dashboard. They also have some advanced data capabilities and dynamic personalization features that help you zero in and provide the best possible experience for each site visitor.
The most powerful feature of the platform is that they get data on every single web user and they use all of this data automatically to power up all the tools on their platform. So your web visitor’s data can be connected with your email marketing, your popups, personalization, and notifications, all in one platform.
That is power at your fingertips.
Last but not least, online marketplaces could be a great way to grow your brand to over $1M. If you are overly cautious about marketplaces you should know that each one gives you access to their audience and their own “search engine”. They could also easily help you double or triple your monthly sales.
So instead of thinking that you are sacrificing a chunk of margins towards the commissions on these marketplaces, you should think of it as a business expansion into other audiences.
So why isn’t everyone doing it already?
Optimizing your listings on online marketplaces is an art form.
Here are some in-depth tips on several of the top online marketplaces.
Amazon is undeniably the world’s largest online marketplace. It has 2.5 million active sellers and 25,000 of them are making over $1 million in sales (Oberlo). In fact, research shows that 23% of online shoppers go on Amazon first for inspiration (Episerver).
-Hire a really experienced ads expert for Amazon specifically. You should also consider hiring someone that is knowledgeable and experienced in your particular industry. Here at Mayple, we connect brands with hundreds of experts from a variety of industries and we’ve found that that’s what makes the difference in terms of sales.
-Optimize every listing - make sure that all of your listings have a wealth of keywords, high definition images, and all the information that a user might be searching for. Look at the top competitors in your space and get some keyword ideas.
-When you are just launching a product, set its price to below the breaking even point. Then, as the sales increase and you get some positive reviews you can slowly increase the price. This will help your listings and sales grow much faster.
-Always display people with your product. Mix in a few influencer shots on your product listings to make your listings more personable. People love to see products in action or in someone’s home. This makes your brand more personable and inviting.
eBay has over 180 million active buyers and a huge variety of product categories. It is trailing not far behind Amazon and is even more popular in certain categories such as sporting goods, health and beauty, and consumer electronics.
-Use ads and promotions - eBay has a really great and easy to use promotion system. Set up 2-day promotions with a discount throughout the whole month. The reason for this is that eBay likes to promote the deals that are ending soon, so if you have really short deals you will get more impressions and clicks.
-Advertise every single listing - when you advertise a listing on eBay it effectively creates a new listing for you on the search page, so you are doubling your real estate with one click. Do this for all of your listings.
-Provide excellent customer service - this is true for all the online marketplaces but it’s especially powerful on eBay. Make sure to respond to every single customer request or question within 24 hours, be flexible on your return policy and always put the customer first. The more you do this the better your chances of getting the “Top Seller” badge which is one of the best ways you can increase your conversions and grow your eBay store.
Here are a few less known channels that you should also consider:
Houzz is an amazing channel for home decor products. They started as a content platform for home decor enthusiasts and quickly grew to the #2 top home improvement site in the US. They have hundreds of merchants and launched Houzz Ads last year. So now you could advertise your listings with them.
Etsy is well-known for its collection of homemade and artisan products but recently they broadened their offering to include manufactured products. So if your manufactured product was designed by the owner of the company, for example, it’s completely eligible to be posted on Etsy.
Etsy has robust analytics built-in that show you the keywords and positions of each of your listings in its organic search, and they also let you advertise your listings. It’s a fantastic online marketplace if your product is unique or is locally sourced/designed.
Perfect your product launch drip campaigns
We’ve saved perhaps the most powerful tip for the end of our guide. This one is really special and works especially well for B2B companies but the same idea could be used for any B2C product.
Many businesses focus the bulk of their time on product development and on-site optimization and they forget to properly introduce their products to their audience. If you do a proper product launch email campaign you could significantly increase your sales and see some amazing short-term results.
There are many ways to structure a product launch drip. Here’s a really great one that Bryan Harris used to make $200K with his product launch.
Bryan breaks his series into three parts - the pre-launch, the launch, and the post-launch.
In the pre-launch series, he introduces the problem that his product is going to solve for the consumer. Then, he agitates the problem, and this is crucial. He writes a detailed email really painting the picture of the consumer’s need for the product, and hitting on all the pain points. Then, in the third email, he introduces the solution.
The middle part of the launch series is more geared towards B2B businesses and that’s where Bryan offers a 48-hour challenge. If you are a B2C company you could offer a giveaway with a 24-hour deadline, or launch a UGC challenge for example. Also, spacing out your emails is always good, you don’t have to follow these same sending times.
The post-launch series is a really simple set of four last emails where you offer your product at a discount one last time. Overall, this is a super-effective product launch drip and you could use some of these principles and email examples and adapt them to your own business.
Regardless of the templates that you use, you could always combine it with your ConvertCart set up to personalize the emails based on the customer’s browsing and shopping data. You could also A/B test each product launch drip to get better conversions. And finally, you could involve your influencers and UGC elements in the emails.
We hope that this guide has been helpful to you and you’ve gotten some good ideas of where to go next with your brand. We’re super excited to hear your stories so please contact us and tell us what’s working, what’s not, and how else we could help you grow to over $1M in sales this year.
Ciao for now!