E-commerce Strategy

Fix the most common ecommerce marketing mistakes in 11 steps

Most common e-commerce marketing mistakes
Written By Louise
On Apr, 21 2020
9 minute read

2020 has brought e-commerce stores a singular opportunity for growth. There is little-to-no competition from brick-and-mortar retail, so e-merchants with a great selection of reasonably priced products should be seeing massive returns.

Of course, not every online store is reaping the rewards. Many have fallen victim to one (or more) of the most common ecommerce marketing mistakes.

Let's run through 11 quick fixes to some of the most common online marketing mistakes.

1. Get to know your customers

Mass marketing and generic copy are a surefire way to lose customers’ interest. E-commerce marketing efforts should be laser-focused on a specific target audience to ensure that the message is relevant.

Personalization is everything. If e-merchants want to engage their audience, they need to speak their language, address their pain points, then present a specific product as the solution.

To do this, e-merchants need to identify target customer groups, then send tailored marketing to suit each segment’s tastes and behavior.

How to better understand your audience:

  • Examine on-site behavior, click-through rates of ads, social media engagement, and different channels and pathways that lead to sales
  • Collect customer data and use it to create specific profiles - include lifestyle, behavior, values, interests, problems, goals and objections
  • Create a customer journey map to better understand the user experience with your brand using this step-by-step guide 
  • Get to know your ideal customers in Facebook groups, on Reddit, and over other social channels
  • Find and read reviews of your products, then identify common questions and problems and work to solve them
  • Talk to your customers - design a short survey, asking them about their experiences with your brand and website

Example of an eCommerce buyer persona

2. Build a strong brand

Mundane visuals and lack of a consistent brand message are common e-commerce marketing mistakes that hinder customer engagement and brand loyalty.

Customers expect more from e-commerce brands than great products, they want to feel a connection. Brands need to identify a niche market, then use marketing, content, and the products themselves to engage with this specific group.

E-commerce brands need to uncover the values and mindset of their customer base, and then reflect these values in their branding.

Think about an e-commerce store that sells eco-friendly makeup brushes. They aren't just selling beauty products, they are selling a value system and a lifestyle.

Customers want to know what a brand stands for, and what change they want to make in the world. In a saturated marketplace, a well-defined mission statement makes for a unique selling point.

How to make your e-commerce brand stand out:

  • Decide on a clear mission statement
  • Tell the story of your brand and the people behind it
  • Build a social community to engage with customers authentically
  • Be consistent across all channels with logo, color palette, typography, and style
  • Don't be afraid to express your personality and humor

3. Write powerful, persuasive copy

Unconvincing content is a proven way to lose customers’ interest and is an all-too-common digital marketing mistake.

In e-commerce marketing, every word must serve a purpose. Succinct, meaningful content is the only way to get a message across and drive a customer to take action.

Marketing content, product descriptions, and website copy must describe products clearly, and show exactly how they will benefit the customer.

Try following the PAS formula: Problem, Agitate, Solution. First, paint a vivid picture of the problem, then use emotional language to make it even more critical, and finally offer a product as the solution.

Another common e-commerce marketing mistake is that copy isn’t optimized for SEO. When content isn’t tailored toward search engines it doesn’t matter how well-written it is, because the customer won’t find it in the first place.

Copy needs to be SEO optimized to help brands rank higher for relevant searches and attract quality traffic.

How to write solid marketing copy:

  • Describe customer pain points in their words
  • Avoid technical jargon
  • Tell a story and play with customer’s emotions using the PAS formula
  • Explain how the product will help the customer
  • Create a sense of urgency
  • Use plenty of relevant keywords in product descriptions and website copy to boost search engine rankings

    eCommerce metrics to track CTA

4. Optimize all content for mobile

The money spent on mobile devices is set to surpass $2.91 trillion in 2020, a 25.4 percent increase from 2019. E-merchants who don’t tailor their efforts toward this important medium commit a key online marketing mistake.

E-merchants who make use of SMS marketing benefit in numerous ways. They see an average open rate of 98%, an opening-time of under 3 minutes, and a 15% click-through rate. SMS marketing is also the most effective way to distribute offers and discounts, with customers opening discount codes sent via SMS 10x more than codes sent over any other medium.

E-merchants who don’t optimize their site for mobile and make use of mobile marketing fall victim to one of the most common e-commerce marketing mistakes and, consequently, miss out on sales.

Here are a few quick ways to get more mobile-friendly:

  • Use Google's mobile-friendly website tester to see how your site measures up
  • Analyze and increase loading speed using pages like PageSpeed Insights
  • Consider reducing image sizes and loading content above the fold first
  • Make sure your site has a responsive design, meaning that it automatically updates for different devices
  • Have a clear call to action and clutter-free, simple navigation suitable for smaller screens
  • Set up SMS marketing to engage with customers fast

Example of website speed checking software

5. Retarget every abandoned cart

Accepting cart abandonment as an inevitability is one of the most damaging e-commerce marketing mistakes.

Helping a customer find an online store, navigate through pages, and identify a product they love takes valuable time, money, and effort. When e-merchant’s accept defeat at the last hurdle, they waste all that effort.

E-commerce marketers need to chase down every ‘almost customer’ and do everything in their power to finalize the sale. The best way to do this is with a multi-channel abandoned cart campaign.

How to create a successful retargeting campaign:

  • Combine the power of email, SMS, and Funnels to find customers on their preferred channel
  • Reach out to customers the moment they abandon a cart as time is of the essence
  • Tell customers the product they like is low in stock to create a sense of urgency
  • Tempt customers to purchase with free shipping offers and discount codes
  • Always include a direct link back to the cart, ideally with all information already filled

6. Increase customer retention efforts

One of the most detrimental online marketing mistakes made by e-merchants is that they focus solely on customer acquisition, not retaining existing customers.

Obtaining a new customer costs 5x more than retaining a current one. On top of that, selling to an existing customer has a success rate of 60-70%, compared to just 5-20% with a new customer.

Repeat customers are essential for e-commerce success, so e-merchants need to nurture their existing customer base to keep them engaged.

How to retain existing customers:

  • Create a VIP customer list and keep them engaged with regular messages
  • Thank loyal customers with special deals and discounts
  • Give existing customers exclusive sneak-peaks at upcoming seasons
  • Keep customers informed about exciting brand news

Example of eCommerce VIP program SMS

7. Build a solid content strategy

Content marketing is a budget-friendly way to increase traffic and conversions. Ignoring content marketing in favor of ads is a prevalent online marketing mistake made by e-merchants.

The solution to this problem is a branded, SEO optimized blog. E-merchants should write content around specific keywords that their customer base searches to increase online visibility.

Great blog content boosts website traffic, shows off a brand’s expertise on certain topics, keeps customers engaged, and creates interest in specific products.

Other forms of content to create include branded videos, and interactive content like quizzes to engage with visitors.

How to get started with content creation:

  • Do keyword research to find out what your customers are searching for - keep an eye out for low competition, high volume keywords, or long-tail keywords
  • Use content to address real customer queries and problems, as well as to entertain and inform
  • Establish yourself as an expert within a specific niche to build customer trust
  • Cover topics that serve your customers' needs and solve their problems
  • Create a content calendar to ensure that you release high-quality content consistently
  • Repurpose and reuse any solid existing content, then publicize it across social media

8. Find the best message with AB testing

Over time, marketing tactics that were once highly effective can become over-saturated and less impactful.

E-merchants need to constantly improve their marketing efforts to stay interesting. Becoming complacent is another hugely detrimental e-commerce marketing mistake.

Run regular tests on website content, marketing messaging, social media posts, and ads to see what’s working well, and what should be optimized or improved.

An AB test is a great method to find out what content customers interact with best. Split contacts into two groups of test subjects, then send each group different variations of content and note how each reacts.

How to run an AB test:

  • Start with a hypothesis, for example, rewording the copy on a CTA will impact conversion
  • Test things like: size, color, and wording of a call to action, adding images or a video, changing the navigation structure or route to checkout
  • Remember to only change one thing at a time, otherwise, the experiment will not give a clear result
  • Allow enough time to see results, but don't let the experiment run for too long.
  • Split visitors evenly between two different variants

Customer about to make eCommerce purchase with credit card

9. Focus on increasing AOV

Relying solely on new traffic to increase income is a frequently made e-commerce marketing mistake. Increasing average order value is a quick way for an e-merchant to boost revenue with minimal effort required.

There are many ways e-merchants can encourage existing customers to buy more with every purchase:

How to increase AOV:

  • Offer incentives when a customer adds an item to the cart, such as a discount with a minimum spend or free shipping with a minimum order amount
  • Start a loyalty program give personalized offers based on past purchases
  • Showcase more expensive products to up-sell customers
  • Recommend complementary products when customers get to the checkout
  • Install a live chat feature to guide customers through the buying process

10. Take a multi-channel marketing approach

A key online marketing mistake made by e-merchants is that they only market across one channel. A multi-channel marketing approach allows e-merchants to maximize audience reach and engage with customers on the channel they respond with best.

Multi-channel marketing is absolutely essential for e-commerce stores. Brands using a multi-channel approach can achieve a 300% increase in ROI compared to single or dual channels.

Marketing channels such as email, SMS, and Funnels each have their own pros and cons. E-merchants who utilize all three can use them in a complementary way and benefit from all three channels in a different way.

How to create a successful multi-channel campaign:

  • Choreograph campaigns to make sure they reach the right customer, at the right time, with the right message
  • Customize your message to suit different channels
  • Aim for consistency across all channels
  • Constantly analyze which campaigns are working well and which are not

11. Make use of marketing automation

Manually solving all the e-commerce marketing mistakes listed throughout this article is a lot of work. However, with the help of a marketing automation platform, e-merchants can avoid these mistakes without lifting a finger.

Marketing automation allows e-merchants to schedule all their multi-channel marketing efforts in advance. Curate relevant e-commerce lists, build automated campaigns, then send messaging automatically based on customer activity triggers.

What's more, a marketing automation platform gives e-merchants access to a wealth of metrics. Track the ROI of each campaign, compare the success of each channel, and make data-driven decisions for e-commerce growth.

eCommerce metrics to track CTA


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