Top 3 digital marketing techniques for ecommerce

by Zoe K
Man holding credit card in front of a white laptop.

So, you’ve got a brand spanking new ecommerce website?


You’ve followed our advice in 8 things every ecommerce website needs. You’ve understood the purpose of the website.


Now you need to get the right traffic to your website to buy your products.


How are you going to do that?


We’ve put together 3 data-backed digital marketing techniques that any ecommerce business can use to help increase traffic and sales!


1. Paid Ads

A staggering 63% of all shopping experiences start with an online search. And the number of touchpoints – defined as every time a customer interacts with your brand, such as visiting your website, reading reviews or seeing social media posts – that lead to a consumer purchasing from you can be anywhere between 20 to over 500.


This touchpoint count was discovered by Google – they studied the journey users take from searches to purchase, and how many steps it takes to get here. They look at a variety of goods from candy (20 touchpoints) to booking a holiday flight (500+ touchpoints).


It’s a clear reality that we’re living in a world where everyone takes their own non-linear and unique path to purchase.


This also shows that users spend a varying amount of time researching before they buy, depending on the purchase.


The high number of non-linear touchpoints and journeys that users take creates a challenge for marketers and ecommerce site owners alike. How do you target users effectively with relevant messages?


Fortunately, whilst there are numerous touchpoints that a user could engage with, what they are looking for does follow a broad three-step common digital shopping path:


Exploration – If someone doesn’t necessarily know what they want to buy, this is their starting point. It’s the part of their journey where they explore and educate themselves on the potential solutions to their problem. Broad searches or fact-finding questions are typically used, e.g. ‘best cars of 2020’, ‘is drinking green tea good for you?’, ‘ways to clean a carpet’.


Refinement – This is where the user starts to refine their search following the Exploration step. Instead of using broad topics, they start to introduce particular product features or brand names. The user’s searches could start to explore reviews, comparisons, images or pricing options.


Product Searches – Once a user has settled on a product, they then start searching for it specifically. At this point, they’re more likely to explore different sellers to evaluate which one to purchase from.


Utilising search-intent paid ads allows your business to appear in searches at all stages of the customers’ journey.


So where should I advertise?


The obvious choice is to look at Google Ads. Here you compete with other retailers to appear in the top search positions for certain keywords.


We’ve explored previously how important being at the top of Google is. With over 90% of traffic going towards the websites appearing in first page positions, being able to identify the most valuable search terms and keywords for your business should be an essential digital marketing goal.


But is it wise to concentrate all your effort on Google Ads?


Certainly for the earlier exploration and refinement stages you want to. Google is where the vast majority of people head to seek out information.


However, Google isn’t the only player in the final product search stage of the journey.


Ever heard of Amazon?


Of course you have. They are one of the world’s biggest companies. And, they are the world’s biggest retailer.


You know that!


But when Kenshoo asked 3,100 people to name which online channels they use to get product-specific information, 72% identify Amazon. Indeed, Amazon has been growing its market share of product-specific searches year-on-year.


For comparison, the same survey showed Google accounts for 80% of product-specific searches online – still leading the way but having a fierce, growing, competitor in Amazon.


Third-party sellers have been growing on Amazon as retailers try to capture some of that market share, to the point that they now account for over 50% of all sales on the platform.


Many online retailers now use Amazon as a sales channel, with over 80% of sellers using it in combination with their own e-commerce store.


Should you focus all your Paid Ads on Amazon?


What’s key is that Amazon is growing its market of searches in one specific area – product-specific searches. And this is what is leading many retailers to choose Amazon as a sales channel.


Earlier we talked about how customers go through a journey – exploration, refinement and product searches. Amazon is only growing in the final part of that journey – product searches.


By raising your brand awareness early in the exploration and refinement stages, you have a greater chance of converting the customer in the product-specific stage. Remember, this is where they search for particular brands or products.


The sensible strategy is to break up your ads over different platforms.


For the exploration phases – use Google Ads to concentrate on broad keywords and key phrases.


For the refinement stage – use Google Ads but start introducing Amazon Ads for product feature keywords


For the product search stage – use Google Ads & Amazon Ads to focus on product and brand keywords.


Having a healthy mixture of paid ads across the different platforms and channels is what is important here. Focus the ads you serve on where the customer is in their journey.


2. User Generated Content

The modern smartphone is more powerful than the spaceship that put man on the moon.


And practically everyone has one in their hands.


Consider this in line with the way social media has exploded.


With Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, WhatsApp – there’s practically one-hundred-and-one ways to stay in contact and interact with friends, family, acquaintances, peers and even absolute strangers.


Word-of-mouth has always been the holy grail of marketing.


Us human beings are social creatures. A positive recommendation from a trusted friend or peer, is seen as far more reliable than any other form of advertising.


In fact, a study by the Nielsen Group found that 92% of people trust word-of-mouth recommendations above all other forms of advertising.


Through User Generated Content, businesses can take advantage of all these elements. Combining the social nature of humans, the growth of social media and the ease of access to technology allows one to utilise word-of-mouth in a digital format.


But what is User Generated Content?


User Generated Content is defined as content that has been created, produced and published by unpaid contributors. It involves people promoting a brand, instead of the brand promoting itself.


Its delivery can appear similar to Influencer Marketing, but in this case, brands are not reaching out to people and paying them. Instead, it is done voluntarily by the contributors.


User Generated Content includes:


• Social Media posts about and/or to brands

• Images that are shared on Social Media

• Reviews & testimonials

• Videos & live streams

• Comments on forums or Social Media

• Blogs & articles


In fact, anything, where a user talks about or to your brand, can be deemed as User Generated Content.


One of the greatest examples of how brands and businesses can utilise the power of User Generated Content comes from Coca Cola’s “Share A Coke” campaign.


You remember it right? It was when they released personalised names on the bottles. The world went crazy for it!



Share a coke campaign bottles and cans.


What it also did was lead to an explosion of User Generated Content.


People started uploading images of their bottles with their name on it to Social Media. Sharing them with family, friends and peers.


The level of brand awareness was phenomenal as more and more people wanted to get on board.


User Generated Content is the modern evolution of word-of-mouth.


The reason it is so powerful is that it allows brands to be portrayed in an authentic, human, way.


In today’s world, customers are no longer passive in the world of advertising. They’re not led by adverts on the TV. Instead, they favour brands that they are able to engage with – that they’re able to share their ‘in-the-moment’ experiences with.


Take for example the Starbucks’ 2014 White Cup Competition. This competition asked customers to doodle on their cups and submit their entries as pictures.


Starbuck White Cup Contest



The winning design would become the template for a limited-edition cup. Nearly 4,000 entered the competition with thousands more comments and engagements on social media.


But how can an ecommerce store utilise User Generated Content for their digital marketing?


Research shows that 70% of people trust online reviews whilst another showed that 86% of people think User Generated Content shows brands in a positive light.


Using this knowledge, you can look at merging User Generated Content in your paid ads. Some brands have seen a 300% higher Click Through Rate by using this tactic.


You can also use consumers pictures of your product rather than your own product images (but check the permissions!). This helps portray authenticity and social proof.


Wayfair has achieved this tactic perfectly with its #WayfairAtHome Instagram campaign. Using the hashtag, users can post pictures of products they’ve purchased from Wayfair and how they’re using it in their homes.




This generates a fabulous stock of images that Wayfair can then utilise in their own marketing posts. Linking back to the original poster not only helps portray social proof but also builds brand loyalty with the customer.


By leading with User Generated Content of your products in your ads, you start to tap into that refinement stage where people seek out more information of your brand and products.


3. Retargeting

Retargeting, or remarketing, is the concept of targeting ads and messages to people who have already engaged with your brand.


You know those ads that seem to follow you around the internet after you’ve been on a website?


You go on Facebook; there’s an ad in the feed. You go on Instagram; there’s one hidden in the stories. You go on another website; there are display ads everywhere. You go on YouTube; there’s a video in the pre-roll.


Those ads are taking advantage of retargeting.


And it makes sense. After all, it’s seven times less expensive to remarket – to re-engage those that have already touched upon your brand – than to attract those who are completely unaware of you.


The scope is practically limitless too.


Let’s say you sell fidget-me-bobs on your site.


You can add everyone who lands on your website and does not make a purchase into an Audience.


But you know, based on the pages they visit, that Audience A likes the way the fidget-me-bobs look whilst Audience B prefer the technical specification of them.


You can then split this audience so that Audience A and Audience B get different types of marketing messages.


They can receive different video ads. They can see different image ads. You can even create different long-form content all tailored to their specific motivators to buy.


Shall we go further?


You don’t have to only retarget based on website visits, you can remarket based on engagement with your ads. This allows you to create a super-audience, one that has visited your website AND engaged with your ads – they are still interested, but not ready to buy.


For these users, you can utilise helpful or purchase-inducing content such as guides and reviews.


The beauty with retargeting is that you can get as detailed as you want about your audiences and their particular needs, wants and desires.


Caution: with great power…


But, as the legendary Uncle Ben from the classic 2002 Spiderman said; “with great power, comes great responsibility”.


We started our retargeting conversation by asking you about those ads that seem to follow you around the internet.


Of course you know them. They annoy you right?


And that’s where retargeting can go wrong.


Afterall, you don’t want to annoy your potential customers. You don’t want them to feel stalked.


The trick is to get a healthy balance where your potential customers can see you, they remember you, but they don’t feel that you’re stalking their every move.


It’s difficult to say where that line is.


One tactic is to figure out how long the average time period is between a customer first engaging with your brand, and actually making a purchase – the conversion time.


Take this into consideration when deciding how long people should stay in your remarketing audiences. If, for instance, your conversion time is 24 days, keep people in your remarketing audience for 24 days. If it’s longer, go for longer.


This avoids never-ending ads appearing when a user has potentially made a purchase somewhere else – these can be annoying and frustrating, leaving a sour taste in their mouth and affecting your brand reputation.


That being said, retargeting is extremely powerful. If you know your audience and their buying behaviours well, then retargeting can serve as an incredible tool to help increase your conversion rates.




Having a successful ecommerce website relies on marketing it in a way that brings in the right audience. In the digital world, there are plenty of different channels, formats and strategies that a business can be employed to achieve this.


Understanding how people use the digital landscape and what their motivators are is essential in ensuring you develop tactics that are going to work. If you need help in developing marketing tactics for your business, contact the team at Epix Media.

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