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Marketing

Ultimate Guide: how to grow your eCommerce business to over $1M per year

Daniel Madrid
17
min read

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.

1. 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.

Google Zmot zero moment of truth
Source: Think with Google

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.

Chatbots

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.

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.

lego chatbot named ralph
Lego’s Chatbot conversion is 8.4 times higher than Facebook Ads

Push Notifications

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.

VWO push notification example
Source: VWO

Push notifications get 4X the CTR’s of emails at 8-10% on average. It’s really easy to set them up. If you are using Shopify then you can use an app like Subscribers. You can also look at VWO which is one of the leading push notification companies and has some chatbot features as well.

One home decor brand called Brightech found that sending an email campaign and following it up with a push notification 30 minutes later increased their sales dramatically.. They were able to grow their email marketing revenue 10X by using this strategy.

ecommerce push notification best example product sale
Example of a web push notification

SMS cart abandonment

Last but not least, a really effective 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.

liverecover cart abandonment features shopify app
Use LiveRecover to drastically decrease your cart abandonment

2. Monetize influencers more efficiently with MagicLinks

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!

average annual budget for influencer marketing statistic stats 2019
Influencer Marketing stats by MediaKix

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:

  1. It’s hard to find the right influencers.
  2. It’s impossible to know how an influencer will do on their first try.
  3. 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?

You have to go to the experts.

Small to medium ecommerce brands and teams have figured out the solution. 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.

magiclinks influencer agency stats
magiclinks features influencer agency

So the advantages of using an exclusive influencer agency like Magiclinks are:

  1. They know which influencers are going to get you the ROI that you need
  2. They have the data on which campaigns are successful
  3. They only use the top influencers (they deny 95% of all the influencers that apply to the platform)

3. 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%.

wine ecommerce store conversion rate optimization

Here are some high-level strategies of working with affiliates on these networks:

  1. Reach out to relevant affiliates only, avoid spreading yourself too thin or forming partnerships with completely irrelevant affiliates.
  2. Focus your efforts on the top affiliates in the network first.
  3. Go after a diverse group of affiliates, have a good mix of coupon affiliates, large publishers, affiliate networks (like Skimlinks) and smaller industry blogs.

4. Harness the power of 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.

And voila!

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.

UGC influencer marketing example daniel wellington

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.

UGC influencer marketing example daniel wellington jenner instagram

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:

  1. Build a captivating brand story
  2. Hire influencers to create the first batch of images for you
  3. 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.

5. Maximize your site conversions with a complete CRO tech stack

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.

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.

convert cart features CRO tool ecommerce
ConvertCart is a 360-degree solution... literally!

6. Utilize online marketplaces to your advantage

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

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).

7-figure strategies:

-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

Ebay is 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.

7-figure strategies:

-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

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

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.

7. 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.

bryan harris videofruit growth tools pre launch email series
The Pre-Launch Series

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.

bryan harris videofruit growth tools launch email series
bryan harris videofruit growth tools launch email series part 2

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.

bryan harris videofruit growth tools post launch email series

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.

Recap

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!

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