Building an Ecommerce Website is one thing, marketing it and making it successful is another!
That is why I created this Beginner’s Guide to Ecommerce Marketing to help you understand the different types of marketing types and strategies that you can employ in your ecommerce business to help generate traffic and potentially sales.
But, before I get started, I do want to say that I am not a digital marketing expert but everything that I talk about in this guide is gained from first hand experience of running an ecommerce business for over 7 years that got traffic and sales and also running EcommerceGold.
- Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
- Blogging for Ecommerce (Content Marketing)
- Social Media Marketing
- Affiliate Marketing
- Online Reviews
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
What is SEO?
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation, which is a method of digital marketing that drives traffic to a website via organic clicks from search engines such as Google, Bing or Yahoo. The aim of SEO is to optimize a website, product listings, pages or posts for specific keywords so that they appear higher in search results. SEO is done via a combination of onsite and offsite strategies.
For many ecommerce businesses, organic clicks are almost the holy grail of traffic as in most cases, organic traffic is usually the best converting, as they are already engaged in finding a solution to a problem and when your website provides the answer, it is easier to convert them from a visitor to a buyer.
Before looking at the different types of SEO strategies you can implement on your site, there are a couple of important things you need to understand about SEO:
- SEO takes time, unlike some other methods of marketing it can sometimes takes months to see the results of SEO.
- Don’t make the mistake of creating your content solely for the purpose of ranking well in search engines, remember that it is a person behind the screen and their user experience is also hugely important.
- SEO is a constantly evolving process, it is not a case of do it once and then leave it, SEO is something that you should be continuously working on.
How to do Onsite SEO
Onsite is the aspect of SEO that you have the most control over as it is all things that you can do on your own website.
Much of the onsite SEO you will do will revolve around the content that you put on your website and when do this, you need to balance between creating content that pleases search engines but also works for human visitors.
Creating content that only pleases search engines, usually has a negative impact on user experience which results in fewer conversions.
As I said above, onsite SEO all relates to the content you put on your website and this falls into two main areas:
- Copy – This is all of the text that you put on your site, whether it is product descriptions, blog posts or any other information. All of this text can be read and interpreted by search engines to understand what your website is about.
- Images – Pretty self explanatory, this is any image you put on your site from your logo to product images. These can also help you get visitors to your site, Google Image Search is one of the world’s most popular search engines!
When you start planning your content, guessing what keywords people might be searching is a recipe for disaster. Instead, you want to find out what keywords people are actually searching for a craft your content to match.
For Example – This post is targeted at you and I have spent time finding out not only what you are likely searching for but also what kind of competition I am going up against. And they keywords I chose are a balance of good levels of search volume with along with a higher chance of ranking due to the level of competition.
When it comes to finding keywords that you can target, there is no tool out there that can give you exact information (although many claim they can!), this is because no company or tool has access to all of the search data in the world.
The best thing that they can do is give you an idea of what the estimated search volume is combined with the competition for this keywords. But they are a useful source of information, just use the information as a guide, some of these tools include:
- Google Keyword Planner (Free)
- Semrush (Paid)
- Ubersuggest (Paid)
- Ahrefs (Paid)
- Moz (Paid)
Ideally you want to find results that have decent search volumes but low competition as it will be easier to rank for these. Gearing your content towards keywords that have high competition will take far longer to rank for.
Long Tail Keywords
When you are doing Keyword Research, you want to look for Long Tail Keywords as you not only increase the chances of ranking for these but from an ecommerce perspective, there is a higher chance of converting these visitors into buyers, for example:
- Diamond Engagement Ring
- A very very competitive search term but there isn’t much buyer intent, plus it will be nearly impossible to rank for, they are more likely to be researching styles, metals and stones at this point.
- Handmade 18ct White Gold Diamond Solitaire Engagement Ring
- A far more focused search term as the person searching this knows exactly what they are looking for, meaning they are much further along in the buying process and if you can provide the right product, the chance of the converting into a buyer is considerably higher.
With long tail keywords, there is also a chance of you ranking for similar or associated search terms, this is because you are giving search engines more information as to what your page is about.
How to Find Long Tail Keywords
I bet you thought, Great! But how do I find these search terms?
All of the tools above will give you some similar search terms but sometimes these can be pretty useless! Fortunately, there is a very simple method to finding these using Google Autosuggest.
To do this, simply go to search engine such as Google and start typing what you think someone might type when looking for your product.
As you can see in the image above, it starts presenting different search queries that people have placed in the past but this can give you ideas for keywords that you want to use on your site. Some of these may be for your product listings but others may be for other content you could add to your site such as blog posts.
A modification of this method is called Alphabet Soup, which involves entering your basic keyword which is this case would be Diamond Engagement Ring and then type the letter A to see what they suggest, you then begin working through the alphabet until you have a good list of keywords.
Another source of potential keywords can be found at the bottom of any search page, under the Related Searches section. All of these are searches that have been done recently and may include some keywords that you may not have thought of.
Just for Reference – A lot of the examples etc for this post are jewellery related as my ecommerce business was in the jewellery industry. I also live in the UK, which is why all of the suggested terms above include UK.
SEO Product Pages
Now you have decided on which keywords you want to rank for, you now need to input these on to your website and for ecommerce sites, this is more than likely going to be on your product pages.
As you can see in the image below, I have highlighted three important areas of your product listing page that can be optimized for SEO.
1: Product Title
One of the most important parts of product SEO is the product title as this is the first thing that people are going to see in search results.
Crafting a good product title takes a little bit of work and while it may be tempting to try and stuff keywords in the product title this is often counterproductive. Instead, stick to the main long tail keyword that you want that product to rank for.
A good product title will contain a targeted long tail keyword but will also read organically.
It is also a best practice to try and keep the product title to less than 60 characters as this is what most search engines will display, longer titles will often be cut off.
2: Product Description
The product description is the largest chunk of content that is on a product page and it is very important from an SEO perspective as this is what helps search engines understand what this is about.
The item description in the example above, accurately describes the product but also includes many of the keywords that I would want this product to rank for, such as:
- 18ct White Gold Diamond Eternity Ring
- 18ct White Gold Diamond Half Eternity Ring
- White Gold Handcrafted Diamond Eternity Ring
- 18ct White Gold Eternity Ring Jewellery Quarter Birmingham
There are many more keywords and phrases that this product would rank for. I have also included some words that will help to sell the product by evoking some desire and emotion, this is very important as facts and information alone won’t encourage someone to buy.
Now it does depend on the ecommerce platform that you are using as to how much space you have on the page to put copy. Some platforms like the one in the picture above, only have space for a small item description.
When this is the case, you want to keep the paragraph to 2-3 sentences and then list the most important information in a few bullet points. This makes the information easy to digest for the person reading it.
Other platforms will allow you to have a small description like the one above and a full description that is below the image. In this case, you want to use the short description in the same way and then use the full description to add more information as long as it is relevant to the product.
In the full description you don’t want to overload your visitor with big blocks of text, instead keep it simple. Use small paragraphs and bullet points to make the information easy to read and consume (similar to how this blog post is laid out!)
3: Product Images
One of the biggest mistakes a lot of people make is that they don’t make the most of their images. Yes, you may have high quality, beautiful images but are you getting the most from them? Two things you should do with every image are:
- Name them properly, ring1.jpg is of no use to anyone. handmade-1ct-solitaire-diamond-engagement-ring.jpg is much better and will have a positive impact on your SEO
- Use the alt tag. This is where you describe what the image is and it helps search engines to know what the image is about.
I always try and name my images and write the alt tag similar to the product title. This way you are ranking the image for the same query as the web page. You can get lots of visitors from places like google images.
You will come across the term meta data or meta information when ecommerce platforms are talking about the SEO features that they offer. But what does this mean?
Well meta information is broken down into four main categories:
- Title – this is the title of the page
- URL – the address of the page
- Description – a short description of what they page is about
- Keywords – a list of keywords that the page should rank for
The three important ones here are the Title, URL and Description as search engines no longer take note of the meta keywords because a common practise a few years ago was to do ‘keyword stuffing’ to try and boost the page up the rankings. So search engines stopped paying any attention as to what you type in the meta keywords box.
Above is an example of what this meta information looks like in Google search results. The title gives you an overview of what the page is going to be about and the URL is a shortened version of this. The meta description gives a brief summary as to the kind of information that you will find on the page.
It is always worth filling out the meta description, although there is a lot of debate about how useful it actually is as sometimes search engines will display content from your page if they feel it fits the search query better than your meta description.
The majority of platforms will allow you to create a sitemap of your site. This is a list of all of the different content on your site and the way your content is structured such as categories and sub-categories.
This sitemap can then be submitted to search engines to tell them what information you have on your site. You only have to submit your sitemap once and it will automatically update whenever you add or create new content.
When you submit your sitemap to a search engine, it will send out crawlers or spiders to begin indexing your website so that it will start to appear in search results.
To make it easier for these crawlers, you want to create internal links between the content on your site as it will make it easier for them to go from one of your pages to the next.
For product pages, one of the best ways to do this, is to have related products on the page as you don’t want to include any links in your product descriptions.
For other pages on your site such as information and blog posts, text links are great ways to link from one to the other.
Another benefit of Internal Linking is that each page of a website has a level of authority and by linking to another web page it is saying to search engines that the page has some useful, related content.
Don’t over do internal links though as web pages only have so much authority and having too many links on a page negates the benefit of that link. Only use links when they are relevant, such as linking to another post or a product relating to that post.
Whenever you change a URL or delete a post, product or page, you want to create a 301 redirect. This helps to prevent people coming onto your site and being greeted by Page Not Found as this only results in people clicking straight off your site.
A 301 redirect is a permanent redirection and search engines will soon understand that the original page is no longer active and that you have created new content to replace it.
Backlinks (Offsite SEO)
The main form of offsite SEO that you can do is building backlinks, these are links from external websites back to yours and these links show search engines that your website is a credible site because other sites are linking to you.
When it comes to backlinks, they are not all the same, for example:
A link from a website that has good authority website, such as a popular online news or information site such as Forbes will be better than lots of links from unknown websites.
Which is why you shouldn’t buy back link packages from companies, lots of links from poor quality sites can have a negative impact on SEO.
Getting a lot of high quality backlinks will also show search engines that you have Expertise, Authority and Trustworthiness (E-A-T) within your chosen industry/niche.
Getting good quality back links can be difficult but there are a few things you can do to try and get some:
- Has your business been mentioned online anywhere? Maybe a local newspaper or trade publication. If so contact them and ask if they can link your business name to your website.
- Similarly, if you have won any awards and these are publish online, ask if they can link you to your website.
- Offer to do guest posts or be interviewed for websites that are relevant to your business. Ask for your site to be linked to when the post is published.
- Comment on any relevant blog posts. Never be spammy though, always add value with your comment then put a cheeky link to your own website.
All of these will probably give you an initial boost in traffic but the most important factor will be the backlink.
Blogging for Ecommerce (Content Marketing)
One of the best methods of using SEO to gain traffic to your site is to add a blog, this is because blogs are 100% content driven and can contain lots of information, if done properly.
One BIG mistake many ecommerce websites make when blogging is that they try and use blog posts as glorified sales pages. Honestly, this can have the opposite effect as the reason why most people read a blog post is that they are looking to learn, not buy.
Why Should you add a Blog to your Ecommerce Website?
#1 To Educate and Inform
One of the main reasons behind having a blog on your website is to educate and inform people because most blog posts are aimed at answering questions or search queries, just like this post is doing about blogging.
When you are selling products, people are likely to have questions surrounding those products and blog posts are a great way to give an very good, in-depth answer that shows your businesses knowledge around the products that you sell.
#2 Grow Your Website’s Authority
Producing high quality content for your blog posts is one way to grow your E-A-T, that I mentioned in the backlinks section above. This is because if you produce a very good or possibly the best resource of information online, other websites will start linking to your content.
When these backlinks are organic, it shows search engines that your website is a reputable source of information and your domain authority will increase as a result, which will be of benefit to your whole site.
One other potential benefit of having a very good, informative blog on your website is that you can be asked to guest post or provide quotes for other peoples blogs, which can also lead to more backlinks and thus more authority.
#3 Attract a Different Type of Visitor
Most ecommerce websites attract visitors when they are at the point in the process where they are ready to buy, but informational blog posts can attract visitors who are much earlier in the process.
The benefit of capturing customers earlier in this process is that may automatically come back to your website when they are ready to buy, or potentially stay on your website until they are ready to buy.
This is because they trust your website as a source of valuable information and many people like to deal with businesses that they know and trust.
Different Types of Blog Post
Now you have an idea why you should add a blog to your website, lets take a look at the different types of post that you can create and for ecommerce websites, I have identified six different types that can generate more traffic.
#1 Review Posts
Reviews are one of the most popular types of search query, so much so that there are websites built completely around reviews.
But when you are doing reviews for products that you are selling on your site, you want them to be 100% honest and unbiased. This is because if you make the product sound amazing in your post but it has obvious flaws that others are reporting in their reviews, it is going to affect the credibility of your review.
When you are creating a review post, make sure you include:
- All relevant information about the product
- List all the Pros and Cons
- Give your opinion, say what you like and don’t like as this adds more personality to the post
This type of post is great if you sell branded products, especially things like electronics and technology.
#2 Product Comparison Posts
These are quite similar to review posts but instead of a single product, you take two or more and compare them head to head to see which one is the better option.
Comparison posts can often lead to the reader making a decision as to which one to go for as they have narrowed the options down to just a couple and want a final nudge into which one to go for.
As with the review posts, you want these to be honest and unbiased but you also want to come to a logical conclusion.
Sometimes it can be a simple conclusion like ‘Product A is better than Product B’ but you may come up with a conclusion that ‘Product A is better in this situation and Product B is better in another situation’. Whatever the conclusion is, you are giving the reader your opinion and that is often enough to help them make up their mind.
#3 Best of Lists
Best of lists fall very much in the centre of the buying process as they know what type of product they are looking for but want to know what the best products that are out there.
To add credibility to your best of list, it helps if you have reviewed lots of products that could be on that list and the top 5 or top 10 are the ones that you have rated the highest.
But as with the two types of post mentioned above, be honest and list the pros and cons of each product. You may could also include tags to certain products such as:
- Best budget option
- Best value for money
- Best for beginners
- Easiest to use
- Best feature (if it excels at one thing)
Adding these types of tags gives credibility as to why that product is on the list, it can also help the reader narrow down the products that they might by to one or two and that is why it is worth leaving a link to the full review and also the product listing as well, so that they can progress further down the process, while staying on your site.
#4 Informative Comparisons
The first three types of post of very much product orientated and should attract visitors to your site who are at some point between Browsing and being Ready to Buy but the next three are more information based and can attract visitors who are at a much earlier stage in the buying process.
The first of these is informative comparisons and unlike the Product Comparisons, they are more about informing your visitors about the differences between different types of products, for example:
- The difference between Mirrorless and DSLR Cameras
- Impact Driver vs Hammer Drill, what is the difference?
People searching these types of questions aren’t yet at the point of buying as they trying to find out what type of product they are buying, so they in more of a research mindset but posting the odd link to examples of each product wouldn’t hurt (just don’t be spammy).
But by creating a comprehensive comparison between the two types of products, you are educating the reader and in their eyes, you are an authority on the subject.
A secondary benefit to this type of post is that other websites may link to your article as a good source of information, which looks great to search engines.
#5 How to Guides/Tutorials
These are very educational type posts as you are showing your visitors how to do something and it could be:
- How to use a product
- How to care for a product
- How to do a project
- How to achieve a specified outcome
Unlike all the other posts on this list, these types of posts might attract visitors who aren’t even looking to buy a product, they just want to know how to do something.
How does this benefit your site?
The first thing is that you can leave links in the guide to products that they might not have thought they needed or even considered using, which can obviously lead to more sales.
The second is that you are getting eyes on your website, who would probably never visit your site if you were just selling products and thirdly, good quality guides and tutorials will generally generate backlinks.
#6 Buyers Guides
Buyers guides can attract visitors who are at the very start of the buying process, they have an idea what they want but have no idea what they need to be looking for.
And you have the opportunity to educate them on the subject and in these types of posts, you want to include as much relevant information as you can as you really want it to be the best resource on the internet about your chosen subject.
Within these types of post, you also want to include lots of information such as facts, figures and statistics, especially if you can post this information from original research as it is data packed posts such as this that can generate backlinks.
These types of posts can also potentially generate sales due to the trust factor that posts of this type can generate and when they are ready to buy, they may come straight back to your site to make the purchase.
What to Avoid
The main thing you want to avoid when creating any type of blog post for your ecommerce site is that you don’t want it to be a sales pitch, your visitors want to be informed, not sold to!
I have seen some try and mask a sales pitch as an informative post, for example, creating a review but only listing the products good points and obviously not mentioning the flaws, if you try this, your visitors will see straight through it and click off your site.
Just be Honest, Unbiased and Transparent on all of your posts and your visitors will respect you for it.
Social Media Marketing
There is no way to create a marketing guide for ecommerce and not talk about Social Media Marketing, as it is one of the buzz terms in digital marketing and it basically involves promoting your business via a single or multiple social media platforms to drive traffic and hopefully business to your website.
When it comes to social media marketing, there are two main options for this:
- Organic – this is where you post high quality content to social media platforms that you hope are going to be shared or engaged with and this should result in a growth in followers and this should lead to more click throughs and sales on your website.
- Paid Advertising – Organic growth can take time to see any kind of results but you can increase the amount of eyes on your posts by paying the platforms to promote your content and there are a couple of methods for this also:
- Targeting New Customers – this is where you try and put your adverts in front of users who could potentially become new customers as they have interacted or shown interest with similar content previously.
- Re-targeting – this is where you put your ads in front of people who have already visited to your website, if they were interested in your products, this can be enough to prompt them to go back and buy from you.
Choosing Which Platform To Use
There are a whole host of social media platforms to choose from, including:
As you can see, there is a lot to choose from but I have developed a simple strategy that will allow you to find out which platforms are best for your business. Now it will take some effort on your part but it will be worth it in the end.
Before you start this, make sure that you have some kind of analytics software on your site that allows you to track where your visitors are coming from.
Then, sign up to a number of these platforms, ideally as many as possible and then you want to post the same content to each platform on a daily basis. Do this for a month to 2 months and then go back and analyse your data and you should be able to see which platform:
- Drove the most traffic to your site
- Had the best conversion rate
- Audience grew the most
You will then be able to decide which platform or platforms deliver the best Return on Investment (ROI) for your time. This is much better than putting all of your effort into one platform just because everyone else says it is the best.
Now you know which ones work best for your business, you can now focus all your social media marketing efforts around these platforms. It is worth spending a bit of time, reading up and learning how to market properly on these platforms so that you are getting the most out of them.
You also want to be active on social media so that your business is front and centre, now you can over do it so don’t be spammy! Instead, post good quality content on a regular basis and don’t always be trying to sell your audience something.
If you are working on a piece, show some during shots and almost tease your audience as to what it will look like when it is finished. Give them an insight into you and your business, so that they feel a connection with you and that there is a real person behind the account.
Building an audience is one thing, turning that into business is another!
That is why you want to encourage interaction in your posts, even simply down to asking people to comment. The thing is, people need prompting to do things and it is especially true on social media.
Do notice that when you are watching a YouTube video, they always ask you to like the video and subscribe to the channel? The reason for this is that if they don’t prompt the viewers to do that, then a large proportion never will. The same goes for all of social media!
Posting great content on social media is often not enough to get them to click through to your website, instead you need to prompt or encourage them to do so. Simple calls to action such as click on the link below to see our full collection, will result in more people clicking through to your site. Some of these views will result in sales.
You also want to be active within your and replying to comments is one of the best ways to do this. It shows other people that you have taken the time and care to reply, especially if you answer questions. You can also encourage this type of interaction by posting questions on your social media, to start with you probably won’t get much response but the more your audience grows the more interaction you will get.
Should You Run Social Media Competitions?
One of the things I see done regularly is small businesses running social media competitions to grow their audience. You have probably seen something similar with the line:
- Like this post, tag three friends and share this post to enter
While on the surface, this does seem a great way to grow your social media presence. The main issue with this can be that you aren’t building an audience that is really interested in your business or products, they just want the chance to win something for free!
Now while some of these new audience members might generally have some interest in your business, the general trend is that you get a short term boost in numbers that will fall off once the competition ends.
For me, I would personally prefer to put that extra bit of work in and build an audience that has grown organically that could benefit my business, rather than a load of people who just wanted something off me for free and have no intention of ever buying from me!
One of the best ways to get your products in front of thousands of potential buyers is affiliate marketing.
For those who don’t know what affiliate marketing is, you partner up with influencers, these can be Social Media Influencers, Bloggers or YouTubers whose audiences match your target market.
These influencers then promote your product, this can be in the form of reviews, recommendations or any other type of appropriate content and you provide them with a unique affiliate link, which links to your products or services and any sales that are generated are attributed to that influencer and for sending you new customers/orders, you pay them a commission.
For physical products, this is generally up to around 15% and may be considerably higher for virtual or digital products/services.
This may seem like a high price to pay but it puts your product in front of potentially thousands, tens of thousands or sometimes millions of people, whom you may not have been able to reach in any other way.
The best thing is on your part, you don’t have to pay anything until a sale is made through their link.
Many ecommerce businesses often overlook the potential upsides that can come from online reviews, so much so that many don’t have anywhere where existing customers can leave reviews.
But reviews can be seen as a digital version of word of mouth and this can have a very positive impact on sales, mainly because many people will look for reviews before buying from a website that they have never dealt with before and if there some very glowing reviews on there, then it is going to increase the chances of them buying from you.
Now don’t go putting up a bunch of fake reviews, instead, politely ask any existing customers if they have been happy with the product/service provided if they would mind leaving a review for your business.
But whenever you ask for reviews, you want them to be left on easily accessible websites and two of the best options are on your Google My Business listing and your Facebook page. This is because both always features very highly in search rankings when people search for Your Business Reviews.
Other good options can be review specific sites such as Trustpilot or Reviews.io, it is not advisable to post reviews or testimonials just on your website as most people now know that these can easily be manipulated to make the business look good.
How to Deal with Negative Reviews
Getting a negative review sucks! It really is as simple as that, you work hard to make sure that you provide the best product and service that you can, only for someone to leave you a negative review.
But there are some steps you can take to deal with reviews that not only make your business look good but also potentially get the review removed.
Always Reply Professionally to any Negative Reviews
Trying to be clever or sarcastic when you reply to your reviews in most cases is not going to do your business any favours. Instead you want to reply professionally and think of it as a PR exercise for your business.
If you get a review from a customer and they haven’t contacted you before leaving the review, then you want you would want to respond with something like:
“Sorry to hear that you are not happy with the product/service. If you had contacted us about your issue, we would have been happy to resolve this for you.”
This kind of reply makes your business look very professional and that you are happy to offer great customer service if you are given the chance. You have also opened up the possibility of resolving the issue with the customer which could end up with the review either getting revised or reviewed.
You can go one step further and initiate the contact with the customer yourself, this is the approach I always took. Many times this strategy resulted in the issue getting resolved and the negative review either being removed or it being turned into a positive. This doesn’t always work but many people do appreciate that you have taken the step to reach out.
Negative Reviews from Disputes
Sometimes you will get negative as a result of a dispute that hasn’t gone the customers way. In many cases you can contact the platform on which the review is on and ask them to remove it and say that the review has been left as a result of a dispute that was found in your favour.
If you cannot get the review removed, then you want to be professional when you reply to the review and once again, you want to state the facts that the customer left this review as a result of a dispute that was was found in your favour.
This makes it look like your customer is being a bit unreasonable and that they have left the review just because the dispute didn’t go their way.
So that brings me to the end of this post, you may have noticed that I didn’t include anything about paid marketing such as Google, Facebook or Instagram ads and that is because I have never personally used them and only have a basic knowledge of how they work.
But I hope you have learnt something from this post and it has given you and idea of how you can start marketing your jewellery business.
The marketing is the most challenging part and will take some time to learn and refine the process but if you stick at it and keep trying, it will pay dividends in the long run!