Across the world, there are over 9.1 million e-commerce companies.. Moreover, the e-commerce market has continued to grow, with brick-and-mortar stores investing in the online space. e-commerce accounts for 13 percent of the retail industry and $5 trillion globally.
If you’re working in the e-commerce space, one of your biggest challenges is standing out against your sea of competitors. For example, Amazon alone accounts for 41 percent of the e-commerce market share, nearly ten times more than the second largest e-commerce company, eBay. So when you’re marketing your e-commerce company, you’re going up against giants like Amazon and millions of other online retailers.
Part of the problem with marketing as an online retailer is how quickly the world of digital marketing changes. Every company aims for its products to go viral. However, what made companies go viral in 2022 might differ from what makes them go viral in 2023.
Virality may not be the key to success when you consider the vastly diverse markets of each social media platform. For example, if your product targets older adults, attempting to get it out on TikTok might not make sense as the market is considerably younger.
What Happens When You Follow the Pack?
We’ve all heard the stories of how companies went viral. For example, consider the online clothing retailer Fashion Nova. In the early 2010s, the then-new brand saw its products take off by investing in an influencer marketing program, then still a relatively new concept. Fashion Nova worked with over 3,000 influencers of various sizes, ranging from the smaller and often more niche micro-influencers to the celebrity-level mega-influencers.
Since it developed this program, Fashion Nova has become one of the biggest fashion retailers in the world. It continues to use influencers as a significant part of its marketing strategy, though its program has had to adjust with the rise of new platforms, like TikTok.
When working on marketing your e-commerce company, you may look at Fashion Nova’s success as a reason to copy its strategy. So what is the problem with simply following in Fashion Nova’s footsteps? That’s what everyone else did.
While influencer marketing was still a relatively new idea when Fashion Nova began its program, it’s now a $16.4 billion industry as of 2022. An astounding 93 percent of marketers have tried influencer marketing. What was once groundbreaking is now old news.
When you attempt to copy what other brands do in their marketing strategy, you’re more likely to get lost in the noise of the online world. If you continue running the same old strategies your competitors have been doing, your return on investment (ROI) will likely be lower. You’re not standing out. You’re just adding noise to the internet that your potential customers won’t care to hear.
The more money you throw in the wrong direction, your company will likely struggle. Because your marketing is old news, potential customers may think you’re old news yourself. You need to find a differentiation point with many companies in direct competition.
Without setting yourself apart, your potential customers won’t be intrigued by your products or take the time to get to know your company. Instead, they’ll simply scroll on by your ads.
But how can you show that you’re different? It starts by creating a marketing strategy that breaks through the noise rather than adding to it.
Make Your Cold Outreach Campaigns Air-Tight
Say you email a group of new contacts you’ve acquired through the web form on your homepage. You check the deliverability rate and see it’s at 90 percent. Sounds high, right? While getting 90 percent on a test is usually a cause for celebration, seeing this percentage as your deliverability rate should give you pause. You should cease sending out more emails until you figure out what’s causing the other 10 percent to get bounced.
Your bounce rate is the percentage of emails rejected by the contact list you’re trying to reach. There are two types of email bounces. First, a soft bounce is just a temporary failure, often caused by someone being out of the office and having a full inbox. If a soft bounce happens, you can try again at another time.
A hard bounce is indicative of a more significant problem. Hard bounces are permanent failures. No matter how often you try to send the email, it will never reach its intended recipient. Hard bounces often happen because of invalid email addresses, which can occur for many reasons.
The person may have given you a work email address, but the intended recipient has since left the company. Or the person created an email address on your web form to receive a gift. Or, because people sometimes make mistakes, the email address may have a typo.
A general rule suggests that a bounce rate should be below 3 percent. If your bounce rate exceeds 5 percent, your email service provider may penalize your sender’s reputation, preventing you from sending future campaigns. But going through your contact list individually to find typos that may have prevented your emails from reaching the intended recipient is time-consuming. So instead, invest in an email verification tool to help you clean up your emails in bulk.
The average ROI through email marketing is $36 for every $1 spent. But you can’t expect that ROI if your bounce rate is too high. You need to stand out in your potential customers’ inboxes, but you need to show up there first.
Use the Right Tools to Keep Your Marketing In-House
Brand voice matters. The best brand voices are so memorable that people talk about them long after they’ve scrolled through the company’s posts or seen its ads. For example, consider the often sarcastic, always hilarious voice that the social media marketers at Wendy’s developed. It’s so memorable that the brand’s posts frequently go viral, drawing more eyes to the Wendy’s name.
But a brand voice is one part of the marketing puzzle. Every aspect of your brand identity matters, from your logo to your color palette to your email signature line. Consistency is critical when it comes to memorability. In addition to a well-known brand voice, people immediately think of Wendy’s when they see those iconic pigtails.
Consistency can be a significant challenge for brands, especially if they tend to hire contractors. Every brand should develop a style guide to share with contractors, sharing information like the typefaces the company uses, the HEX codes of the color palette, and anything that makes the brand’s style stand out. But even still, working with contractors on marketing products can result in several rounds of edits and back-and-forth.
Contractors can play a role in your marketing strategy, but you should do most of your creative processes in-house. Consider investing in collaborative platforms that allow your teams to work together more seamlessly. Using such tools can reduce time spent locating files and in meetings when the conversation veers off task. Such tools can also help you keep your notes all in one place, giving everyone on your team access to the same information. Everyone sharing information makes you more likely to maintain a consistent brand identity.
Find Your Differentiation Point
What you do matters. What you do differently matters more. It’s one thing to say that you’ve created a product that helps someone grow vegetables indoors. The indoor garden market was once a new concept, but now it’s become oversaturated.
What’s going to stop your potential customers from buying from your competitors? Especially if those competitors are more established than you are, you need to prove that your product is not only better but different.
Every company claims to be better than its competitors. But it’s difficult to prove if one brand is better than another. It’s much easier to verify that your product is different. Marketing what makes your product different allows potential customers to determine which brand is better.
To market what’s different, you need to analyze your competitors. You need to understand their products nearly as well as your own. You also need to study their marketing strategies. What is their differentiation point? How does yours differ from theirs?
You should then build your marketing strategies around the differentiation point. Once you’ve worked on the analytics for your competitors, your team’s creativity can shine. Next, brainstorm ways to turn the differentiation point into a marketing tactic that convinces potential customers that your brand is the way to go.
Evaluate, Tweak, and Double Down on Your Campaigns
Just because you’ve built a marketing strategy out of your differentiation point, that doesn’t guarantee success; this lack of guarantee is why you can’t run the same campaign repeatedly. Creativity and analysis have to go hand in hand in the world of e-commerce marketing.
For every social media post you share, every ad you run, and every influencer you invest in, you need to keep track of the metrics. Key performance indicators (KPIs) like engagement rate, clickthrough rate, and ROI will inform you how your marketing plan works. Without knowing these KPIs, you may simply continue putting money toward a strategy that isn’t as impactful as you think it is. As a result, you’re burning money you won’t get back if you’re investing in the wrong approach.
Social media sites like Instagram and Facebook can inform you how your posts and ads perform. But you may consider subscribing to a social media audit tool that will provide more in-depth information on your and competitors’ performance. Such tools can help you understand where you stand in the pack.
They can also help you see what’s working and what isn’t. By studying these analytics, you can remove what’s not giving you a high ROI and create more campaigns based on what is.
You should always be willing to change your marketing plans. You may think you’ve stumbled upon an ingenious idea, but it might not work. So always be ready to listen to your marketing team about what’s working and make adjustments accordingly.
Find Your Niche and Get to Work
When you’ve done the proper competitive analysis to find the gap in your market, you can build your campaigns to reflect that gap. And by continuing to analyze your performance, you can make the changes necessary to create campaigns that cut through the noise and make your company the one to watch online.
With so many competitors out there, from the smaller companies near your niche to the major retailers that seem to sell everything, you can’t just follow the pack and hope something will go viral enough to get you new customers.
Find what makes you different and lean into it. Work with your in-house creative team to create a brand identity that leads to a marketing campaign where you can show off your differentiation point. You must create something uniquely yours, from your air-tight email campaigns to your brand voice.
While you can and should attempt to learn about what your competitors are doing, you need to take that information and turn it on its head. So what can you learn from them? And what can you do differently?
Remember, your marketing strategy cannot be at a standstill at any point. The e-commerce world is constantly expanding, bringing you new competitors. Online marketing platforms are constantly changing, with new rules, tools, and audiences.
And once one of your competitors masters these changing platforms and overtakes you as the leader in your niche space, it’s hard to reestablish yourself.
So stay ahead of the pack and all the online noise by proving your brand to be different!
There’s plenty of noise in the e-commerce world. New brands are coming on to the scene daily, and to emerge from the noise and from your competition, your marketing needs to have a cutting edge that’s undeniable.
You can’t follow the pack and expect to succeed. Separation begins with understanding what makes your brand different, doubling-down on your unique message and figuring out how to find your niche and encourage those in that niche to take the action you want them to take.
It’s not easy, but the right marketing campaigns can make all the difference in helping your brand achieve the success it deserves!