How digital marketing can grow an e-commerce business

Andrew Heppinstall explains several key areas of digital marketing, and shows how they can be used to build and maintain your customer base and grow your e-commerce company.

Digital marketing can be used to grow an e-commerce business, but what types of marketing are effective and how?

Andrew Heppinstall, Pebble Grey digital marketing manager, explains several key areas of digital marketing, and shows how they can be used to build and maintain your customer base and grow your e-commerce company.

Aims of e-commerce and how digital marketing can help

When running an e-commerce business, the ultimate goal will be to get people to buy the products or services you sell. This process can be broken down into four key areas:

  • Attracting people to your site
  • Engaging people in your offerings
  • Converting your visitors into customers
  • Retaining your audience and keeping them interested in your business

Digital marketing can be used in different ways to achieve these goals and grow an e-commerce business. This includes marketing that promotes your products and services, personalises your site shopping experience, targets your audience, and builds authority and trust.

There are many types of digital marketing, but this article will focus on several key areas: content marketing, SEO and link-building, and email marketing.

Content marketing

When it comes to good digital marketing, content is key. High-quality content published on a business’s website can attract, engage, and retain its audience. Blogs and features, for instance, can be used to reach target consumers by answering key questions or discussing topics and issues relevant to their decision-making process when buying products. For instance, a blog about how a mirror can open up space could influence customers who have a small bathroom into buying a mirror.

Quality content can also be used to provide a pathway that converts site visitors into customers. This includes a blog which has a call to action (CTA) cleverly positioned at the end of the article. The CTA could provide a point where the visitor could, for example, click on a link to a product page that’s relevant to the blog topic, and purchase that product.

There are many types of content that can be effective for an e-commerce business, including news articles, guides and videos. Tying your content to your social media can also allow your customers to like and share it online. Regularly producing high-quality content, which gives your potential customers valuable information, can also cement your business as a thought leader. Over time, a good content marketing strategy can attract more customers and keep them coming back, as they see your products like your business – high quality, trustworthy and reliable.

Growing with content marketing in e-commerce

Online fashion store ASOS is an example of an e-commerce company using content marketing to successfully grow its business. Its #bestnightever campaign, aimed at young women, used content such as style advice and videos to promote its products. The credible content resulted in millions of customers liking and sharing it, with 5.6m acts of engagement made across its social media platforms.

SEO and link-building

Good SEO is essential digital marketing for an e-commerce company because it helps make sure the products and services it provides are visible and rank high on search engines like Google. And ranking high is important for growth – studies have found that being at the top of the first page of search results can earn you more than 50% of traffic.

Good use of keywords, well-written meta titles and meta descriptions can all help better promote products to a target audience when they conduct searches online. Content, like blogs and category descriptions, can also be used to break up product pages and dilute keywords. This is important because product pages are often heavy with keywords and thin in quality, so are often considered low in value by Google.

But there is more to SEO than just good, well-placed keywords. Building quality links is another important factor, especially when growing an e-commerce company. Inbound link building, also known as outreach, is where links are built from third-party websites to your site. One example is publishing a blog on a blogger’s site, which includes a link to a product page on your site.

Not only can engaging potential customers in quality content – which links to your products or services – help grow your site traffic and your customer base. It can also improve your website’s domain authority (DA). This is a score that determines a site’s quality based on factors such as popularity and size, which can affect a site’s search engine rankings. This means the more links you build to your site from websites that have a high DA, the more your own DA can improve. As a result, this can help you rank higher on Google and, in return, grow your audience.

Growing with SEO and link-building in e-commerce

Building high-value links is now even more important because Google isn’t afraid to penalise companies with low-value links, such as to poor quality sites with irrelevant content. The multinational corporation, eBay, is an example of an e-commerce business that Google penalised for doing this back in 2014. A good SEO strategy, including building links from high-value sites, has since helped turn the company’s SEO around. The company also now offers SEO guides to help customers rank high on search engines for products they sell on the site.

Email marketing

This is another key part of digital marketing. In fact, the British Direct Marketing Association says that every £1 spent on email marketing produces an average of £38. When done well, email marketing can therefore build and retain a strong customer base for an e-commerce site. However, with consumers aware of poor email marketing automation, such as daily spam or junk emails that promote a company’s services, good email marketing is more important than ever.

Producing and distributing a quality weekly or monthly newsletter is a way to do email marketing successfully. A good newsletter, which includes high-quality content and links to relevant product offers, for instance, can help keep customers engaged in your business, as they then look forward to receiving it each week or month. Email marketing can also be effective when its personalised for customers. This includes upsell emails, such as to inform a customer about a series of products that are related to their latest purchase. Another example is a personalised email sent out to encourage a customer to write a review of a recent product they’ve bought.

Growing with email marketing in e-commerce

Leading e-commerce company Amazon is an example of a company using effective email marketing to help grow its business further. The company uses email templates that can be personalised based on customers’ site behavior. From thank you emails, sent out after buying products, to upsell emails promoting product lists similar to customers’ browsing history or recent purchases, the company leads the way in email marketing. In 2016, the company’s December email marketing campaign outperformed competitors, including Toys R Us, earning nearly a 20% read rate.

Growing your e-commerce business with digital marketing

From SEO that attracts, to content marketing that engages, to email marketing that retains your customers, digital marketing can be a key asset in growing an e-commerce platform. A strategy that combines these types of marketing can be used to improve your site quality and promote products to your target audience, while creating a personalised shopping experience that your customers trust.

Together, all this can attract and convert your visitors into customers, while engaging and retaining them in your business for the long haul.

Nominations are now open for the British Small Business Awards, the leading event celebrating the brightest stars in the SME sector. Click here to enter, and make sure you get involved today using the hashtag #BSBAwards. Good luck!

Ben Lobel

Ben Lobel

Ben Lobel was the editor of from 2010 to 2018. He specialises in writing for start-up and scale-up companies in the areas of finance, marketing and HR.

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