If you want to sell products on an eCommerce store, you need to market your store to the right people, at the right time, and in the right way. There are countless digital channels available nowadays so it pays to understand which ones are the most effective when it comes to marketing your business online.
A leading digital agency based in the United States of America recently completed a study with a focus on 95 individual eCommerce stores, primarily with the aim of understanding which digital marketing channels delivered the most value.
Here are some statistics to set the scene. In the whole of 2017, the B2C eCommerce marketplace in Europe generated a total revenue of 250 billion euros according to research organisation Statista. This is obviously a huge number, but what’s particularly fascinating is that this is a 15% increase on the figure from 2016 and a 131% increase on 2012 – which just goes to show that the B2C eCommerce industry is booming.
The agency study took information from 530 million user sessions across the 95 eCommerce stores to gather key insights into ways digital marketers could improve and hone their strategies. The online stores offered a wide range of products, covering everything from electronics and IT equipment through to children’s clothing and car parts.
To help you market your eCommerce store more effectively, we’re going to highlight the most important findings of this study and discuss how you can implement them on your website, no matter what size or scale.
1 – Organic Traffic Is (Usually) King
If you’re already running a store but don’t have a marketing strategy in place, this is your call to change that! To see a truly impressive return on your investment, you need to be able to identify which digital channels are most effective for the niche you’re involved in.
Looking back on 2017 as an example, the 95 eCommerce stores that formed part of the study saw on average 37% of their total traffic generated organically ie. from search engines like Google and Bing. This was followed in second place by paid traffic at 33% and direct traffic in third on 12%, with referral, email and social media traffic rounding off the six audience channels respectively.
From these figures, you can see that organic traffic drove the most traffic to the eCommerce sites involved in this study – and it’s, therefore, fair to assume that this is the story across the other eCommerce stores.
That said, just because email, referral and social media traffic didn’t deliver great figures doesn’t mean you should neglect them from your digital marketing strategy.
The study shows us that most customers rely on search engines to research and look for the products they want. An organic visit to your site is triggered when a user enters via a search engine result listing on Google for example. This is why ranking as high as possible on search engines can dramatically affect your traffic figures.
Traffic isn’t the only thing at stake when it comes to organic listings either – the study showed that customers inherently trust Google more than any other search engine. If you can encourage customers into your store via Google, the data indicates they are more likely to spend money than any other digital channel.
2 – Paid Advertising Also Works (For The Right Stores)
The study also showed that paid traffic is key for the majority of successful eCommerce stores, purely because it has the ability to generate both site visitors and sales.
The average revenue from a paid user across the 95 eCommerce stores in question stood at 98p which is considerably higher than some of the other channels in this list. Additionally, paid to advertise brings the added benefit of being able to identify which keywords are bringing clicks through to your site – something you can analyse and implement as part of your SEO strategy.
There’s more. If you have a new product offer or a specific page you’d like to promote, you can use a paid advertising strategy to funnel users directly to that page or category of your store.
3 – Direct Traffic Needs Some Attention
For a visit to count as direct traffic, the user needs to type the URL of your site directly into their browser address bar. Although you might initially think this is a rare occurrence, the information from this study showed that direct channels account for 12% of all eCommerce store traffic as well as 17% of all revenue.
You may feel that it can be challenging to encourage users to visit your site directly, but the most popular ways to do this include asking visitors to bookmark your page, follow a link from apps or QR codes or click a link from a PDF for example.
Direct traffic should still be seen as important, but it only grew by 19% in 2017 – the lowest increase from all the channels on our list. With that in mind, focusing on direct traffic in the early part of your business development makes most sense – just make sure your URL is memorable and mirrors your brand name exactly.
4 – Grab Repeat Sales From Email Marketing
The standout channel that can sometimes be neglected by many eCommerce businesses is email – it has the highest conversion rate and ROI (return on investment) of any digital marketing channel.
The average conversion rate from the 95 stores included in this study was 2.25% and just goes to show how powerful this channel can be if leveraged correctly. The beauty of email marketing is that it can also help to generate repeat business when personalised and targeted correctly.
If your eCommerce store doesn’t currently partake in any email marketing, you’re not alone – 50% of the sites in this study didn’t either. However, it would make sense to create a small budget for email marketing and start a campaign sooner rather than later.
5 – Referrals Can Help Increase Profits
Referral programs can sometimes be the unsung hero of an eCommerce business – over 75% of businesses who saw profits increase by 30% or more used multiple referral programs to achieve it.
Although the study only suggests that only 8% of all sales are generated from referrals, it’s still worth some of your time. Referral traffic can include coupon sites, cashback services, partnership programmes and affiliate marketing to name a few. Here at Media Lounge, we take advantage of affiliate marketing via Clutch – a site that promotes our site and occasionally generates leads for us.
6 – The Power Of Social Media
All you need to know here is that traffic through social media increased by 152% during 2017, directly impacting the 95 eCommerce stores monitored within this study.
That said, social traffic no longer drives a steady stream of conversions – this is partly due to changes on sites like Facebook who altered their algorithms and news feed layouts dramatically last year; users can quite easily miss your post these days.
Now, this doesn’t mean you should give up on social media – far from it. It’s still fantastic for brand recognition and growing a targeted audience that you can passively market to over months and years rather than days and weeks. Just don’t expect it to deliver incredible results straight off the bat.
Having an effective digital marketing strategy for your eCommerce store is absolutely imperative in today’s competitive marketplace. It can really have a dramatic impact on profits at the end of the day, so it pays to take a step back and plan your online future across all the channels we’ve mentioned.
You can also implement changes on your site safe in the knowledge that these pointers are backed by data from nearly 100 eCommerce stores of varying size and niche.