Your company’s direct to consumer (D2C) channel plays a vital role in developing engaged, loyal customers. But before customers can become brand evangelists, there’s a lot you need to get right about customer acquisition and the customer experience. Expectations for seamless online shopping experiences have never been higher, and getting it right is essential for the success of your D2C channel.
A crucial step is determining a successful ecommerce marketing plan. To help guide brands in the right direction, we recently hosted a live virtual event titled, “Know Your Audience and Uncover New Opportunities: How to Market Your Online Store.” The event was sponsored by Elastic Path, and speakers included:
- Linda Bustos, Director of Digital Commerce Strategy, Elastic Path
- Rahul Sandil, Head of Global Marketing, Consumer Products Group, Micron Technology, Inc.
- Jeremiah Andrick, Direct to Consumer Advisor and Consultant
- Mike French, VP of Partnerships and Alliances, Digital River
Here are some of the top insights discussed by our panel on marketing an online store to build brand awareness, attract new customers and grow revenue.
You can view the full webinar on-demand here.
1. Customer experience is an omnichannel proposition
When brands begin to think about owning the customer experience in the context of ecommerce, they often concentrate only on their owned marketing channels (website, apps, etc.). But the experiences customers have through other channel partners can also influence your D2C channel experience, and vice versa. So, to market your online store effectively, you need to take an omnichannel approach to customer experiences.
“Owning the customer experience is a little bit nuanced, because part of it is digital and the things that you can build and offer yourself,” Linda Bustos said. “And the other thing is how can you take advantage of experiences and touchpoints that are offered by others.”
Leverage partners as part of your ecommerce marketing strategy
Bustos says Elastic Path encourages brands to find ways to offer digital experiences through channel partners that enhance the value of your ecommerce business. For example, create an AR experience and then offer channel partners a QR code image to place alongside your other product images to drive traffic to your products and build brand awareness.
Marketing your online store then becomes less about messaging or ad content (although that is still an important digital marketing tactic), and more about finding ways to leverage all touchpoints to your advantage. For example, you can work with partners on joint email marketing and social media marketing campaigns.
Partner marketing has become an essential aspect of successful brands’ ecommerce marketing strategies. Marketing an ecommerce site is a tough job, especially when you’re trying to do it on your own – be sure to work with channel partners that share similar goals to get your brand out there and attract new potential customers.
2. Create alignment across the board
Along with developing engaging marketing campaigns and experiences, you also need to make sure that your various business segments are in alignment about what it truly means to own the customer experience. In his consulting work, Jeremiah Andrick said he often sees problems arise when companies are fundamentally opposed to that goal.
“Internally, there is a challenge with a lot of companies where the sales and account management structure actually incentivize not owning the customer experience,” Andrick said. “Sales goals and marketing goals are tied to performance metrics that make switching to a direct model more difficult, just because it could create channel conflict internally.”
Although it can be difficult, challenging your traditional strategies and adopting a new mentality is ultimately the only way to reach your target audience, drive online sales, and accomplish your new ecommerce goals.
Don’t forget about back-office processes
Along with aligning internal teams on the customer experience aspect of your ecommerce business and marketing plan in general, you also need to make sure you’re prepared for the back-office processes as well. Otherwise, your investments in digital marketing and customer-facing experiences may be wasted. In other words, all the AR innovations in the world won’t make up for not offering preferred local payment methods, calculating taxes incorrectly, or a negative experience with customer service.
So, before your ecommerce store even goes live, make sure you have plans in place for localized payments, chargebacks, reverse logistics, tax remittance and a way to ensure regulatory compliance across borders. Avoiding these issues and taking a proactive approach often means finding a partner that specializes in back-office processes and can help you make the right technology investments to future-proof your ecommerce website and operations.
“If you don’t have those selections made for your ecommerce platform early on, you’re going to be in trouble a few years down the road,” Aldrick said.
3. Content is key for ecommerce digital marketing
A major part of your customer experience (and marketing efforts in general) will revolve around the content you create. From ad copy to product descriptions to blog posts, your content needs to capture your brand voice and deliver meaningful information to customers via various marketing channels. The key to actually achieving that goal is to routinely assess content to make sure it’s as effective as possible.
Marketing an online store: segmenting, testing and more
At Micron Technology, Rahul Sandil says their content marketing strategy comes down to segmenting their customer base, creating content specifically for those segments, and then constantly testing and measuring that content to make sure it connects with customer needs, emotions and expectations.
“You need to have people who can translate that data and those reports into real, actionable information and marketing plans,” Sandil said. “People who can look at that data and say, ‘Here is the outcome, and here is the direction we need to go.’”
To ultimately succeed, make sure your marketing efforts not only focus on content marketing, but also social media, email marketing, Facebook and Twitter advertising, ppc campaigns, and search engine optimization. All of these marketing tactics will increase your chance at reaching your target audience and potential customers, which will drive your conversion rate for higher sales from your ecommerce website.
Want to continue the discussion?
To hear these experts go even more in-depth on this important topic, be sure to check out the latest episode of our Commerce Connect podcast. Then subscribe wherever you get your podcasts to make sure you’re not missing out on new ways to optimize your ecommerce business.
To learn more about how Digital River can help empower D2C success for your business, connect with us today.