The ecommerce industry is rapidly evolving to keep up with the changes in consumer preferences and demands. And with the help of new and advanced technologies, ecommerce retailers have a much easier time adapting to these changes.
As long as you know what changes to adopt, you have a good chance of fulfilling the changing needs of your customers. There are several e-commerce marketing trends that can help you deliver better experiences and increase sales.
In this post, we’re going to discuss some of the biggest e-commerce marketing trends that you should know.
Ecommerce Marketing Trend #1: More Visual UGC
You already know that user-generated content, such as reviews, can be an excellent way to win the trust of ecommerce consumers. You’ve probably even included reviews on your product pages so you can drive more conversions.
But you could go one step further and start implementing user-generated visuals in your ecommerce marketing strategy.
Visual user-generated content is trending in ecommerce marketing mainly because it appeals to consumers and drives better results than written content. According to a study by Olapic, people’s trust in images from other customers on social media is seven times higher than their trust in advertising.
The same study found that 56% of respondents were more likely to purchase an item after they see it in a relatable or positive user-generated photo. And 52% of the respondents also found photos to be the most appealing form of user-generated content. That beats both videos and written content.
If you want to follow this trend, you can showcase user-generated visuals on your product pages or on your social media for ecommerce marketing. You can even do both.
But how can you collect UGC? You can encourage your customers to share the products they bought on social media, and tag it with a branded hashtag. Then you can then collect those photos, and share them on your social media. Additionally, you could also display some of the best user-submitted photos on the relevant product pages.
Example: Daniel Wellington
Daniel Wellington does a great job of displaying photos submitted by customers on their product pages. The following is a screenshot on the UGC section of one of their products. As you can see, they’ve carefully selected some of the most visually appealing images that would win over their shoppers.
Ecommerce Marketing Trend #2: Growth in AI and Machine Learning Usage
One of the most significant trends in ecommerce marketing is the use of artificial intelligence and machine learning. You can use them to deliver more personalized customer experiences and enhance productivity for retailers. And with the rapid improvements in technology, it’s highly likely that ecommerce retailers will be making more investments in tools and platforms that implement AI and/or machine learning.
In fact, the Zebra 2017 Retail Vision Study found that 68% of respondents plan to invest in machine learning and cognitive computing by 2021. Retailers plan to use the technology for personalizing customer experiences and enhancing the way they forecast and manage inventory demand.
You can use these AI technology and machine learning to make smarter, more accurate predictions and recommendations. For example, you may currently be using retargeting tactics in which you display social media ads or send product recommendation emails for products that your customers seemed to take a keen interest in.
But a lot of retailers continue to make the same recommendations even after the customer has already purchased the product or a similar product. So the recommendation is no longer relevant to the customer, making your effort more or less unnecessary.
Instead of this, you can use AI to understand the actions certain customers have taken so you can make more accurate recommendations for your ecommerce marketing. Maybe you could recommend a complementary product that the customer might need along with the product they have already bought, for instance.
And of course, you’ll be providing them with recommendations and experiences relevant to their past behavior even when they visit your website. Maybe you could display a series of products from the categories they seem to favor the most.
There are tons of uses for AI and machine learning beyond this. You can even use the technology to provide your shoppers with a personal shopping guide.
For instance, Unisport has introduced The Ultimate Boot Selector, which helps shoppers find the perfect pair of boots that specifically meets their needs.
Shoppers will have to answer a series of questions that will single out the best types of boots for each individual. For example, they’ll have to answer questions like which position they play, what type they prefer (speed, comfort, control, etc.), which price range they can afford, etc. All this information helps in delivering the perfect recommendation designed specifically for each shopper for your e-commerce marketing.
Based on your answers, the technology will pick out the top three boots that most fit your needs and preferences. As you can see in the screenshot below, the recommendations are sorted based on relevance.
Ecommerce Marketing Trend #3: Enhanced Mobile Experience
Another important tend you need to follow for ecommerce marketing is the introduction of better mobile experiences for ecommerce consumers. It has long been considered that people mainly use mobile devices to conduct research about products online. And then they make the actual purchase using their desktop.
This means there are high mobile ecommerce sessions but lower revenues coming from mobile.
This assumption remains true according to an analysis of 87 million website sessions by Wolfgang Digital. They discovered that 42% of all website sessions come from mobile devices, while desktop sessions are at 41%. But as for revenues, only 21% of all last-click revenue can be attributed to mobile devices.
So it’s clear to see that either some mobile shoppers don’t convert at all or they use a different channel to complete their purchases.
This can only mean one thing – retailers need to ensure better mobile experiences for their visitors. By doing this, you could see an increase in revenue coming from mobile shoppers. Even if there isn’t a significant improvement in revenues from mobile, it will still impact your overall revenue because the enhanced experienced could entice shoppers to buy from you even if they do it through desktop.
Either way, an enhanced mobile user experience is crucial for ecommerce marketing. Make sure that your mobile webpages load quickly and properly so visitors can view every element of the page perfectly.
You need to make sure mobile visitors don’t face any issues with navigation and browsing. They should be able to easily find what they’re looking for and read the information they need. You can use the Mobile-Friendly Test to see just how well your website caters to mobile visitors.
As you can see in the screenshot below, the Kohl’s website is mobile-friendly. But the tool has detected some page loading issues. So if you want to see exactly what’s wrong, you can click on that to read up on the details of the issue.
Once you expand on this, you can learn more about the issue. And the tool will tell you exactly which page resources it was unable to load. So you can easily detect any issues and make changes and improvements as necessary.
Ecommerce Marketing Trend #4: Increased Use of Social Media Buy Buttons
Social media continues to play a huge role in the lives of everyday consumers. And it also has a significant impact on ecommerce marketing by driving traffic to ecommerce websites. Research conducted by the Pew Research Center shows that 15% of online shoppers in America have made a purchase after following a link from social media.
But to improve these numbers, retailers will have to make shopping from social media much simpler and more seamless for their customers. So it’s expected that there will be more retailers implementing “Buy” buttons on social media whenever possible.
These buttons will enable shoppers to purchase products they like without having to search for the product in the brand’s website. They can either complete their purchases right on the platform or get directed right to the product page which will help in boosting ecommerce marketing.
The best example of social media “Buy” buttons is in Pinterest buyable pins. That’s because shoppers can complete their purchases without having to leave Pinterest.
The following pin from Afloral is an example of a buyable pin. As you can see, there are some product details such as pricing and stock availability. And there’s an “Add to Bag” button right below the image.
And if you add this item to your bag, you can complete your checkout right from Pinterest. The screenshot below shows the checkout page on Pinterest, where users can add shipping address and payment info without having to leave the social media platform.
On other social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram, the “Shop Now” or “Buy Now” buttons are only available when you display ads to your target audience.
But Instagram is starting to make improvements by introducing Instagram shopping for ecommerce marketing, which will enable retailers to add product tags to their organic posts.
Users can tap on these tags to get an expanded view of the product details such as pricing, product description, etc. And they’ll also see a “Shop Now” button that will take them to the product page from where they can complete their purchase.
But Instagram shopping is currently only available for select retailers. Once Instagram decides to make this feature available to every retailer, the “Shop Now” button on Instagram will be a huge hit.
Ecommerce Marketing Trend #5: Increased Use of Chat Support
The key to success for ecommerce marketing is to provide exceptional shopping experience and customer service. You need to put your customers first and ensure that they don’t go through any trouble while trying to buy from you.
This means if they have any issues or questions while shopping and can’t find the answer or solution immediately, you’ll need to deal with it as quickly as possible.
And the best way to handle such incidents is by providing live chat support or implementing chatbots. Avaya reported that consumers prefer to communicate with businesses through messaging rather than through phone calls.
So you can enhance their experience if you provide answers and solutions in real time using chatbots, social media messaging apps, or live chat support.
Chatbots are a rising trend in the ecommerce marketing industry mainly because of the efficiency. Although they fall under Artificial Intelligence, it’s crucial to explain their benefits in customer support more clearly.
A joint study conducted by Bentley University and NeuraFlash found that 100% of people believe that chatbot conversations are more preferable if they’re actually able to save time and make it easier to solve problems.
And with improvements made to AI technology, retailers will now be able to use chatbots to automate conversations and deliver personalized support experiences to customers. Customers will be able to use chatbots as a self-service feature especially in case they need assistance with routine transactions. But in case of more complicated queries, chatbots can bring a live agent to the chat to assist the customers.
Live Chat Support
Live chat support is also crucial and is gaining more popularity among ecommerce retailers. Shoppers may not be able to find some of the information they need through the FAQ page or the product description. And if they send you an email, it might take you several hours to respond. If they want to call you, there might be a long wait time.
That leaves live chat support, which enables shoppers to interact with real people and get their issues resolved instantly.
It’s no wonder popular retailers like H&M have started providing chat support for their shoppers.
Example: Warby Parker
Warby Parker makes it easier for customers to reach them by highlighting all the communication options. And to avoid customer disappointment, you can follow their example and display exactly when the live chat agents are available.
Ecommerce Marketing Trend #6: Influencer Marketing
Influencer marketing is a popular choice for ecommerce marketing today. A recent study conducted by Twitter has revealed that consumers trust influencers almost as much as their friends. Some more interesting findings from this study are:
- Almost 40% users reported having purchased a product based on an influencer’s tweet.
- 49% of the respondents reported having relied on influencers for product recommendations.
- This was surpassed only by recommendations from friends, which was reported by 56% of the respondents.
Image via Twitter
The right influencers and an effective campaign can work wonders for your ecommerce business. Selecting the right influencer is crucial to the success of your campaign.
For example, if you have an ecommerce business that specializes in fitness gear, an influencer who promotes health and fitness will be an apt choice.
Revolve, an online fashion retailer, effectively uses influencer marketing to promote their products and boost sales for ecommerce marketing. They are known to regularly post images on Instagram of influencers wearing Revolve clothing. Influencers also use hashtags to promote the brand in their endorsements.
Image via Instagram
Going a step further, Revolve even hosts vacations for these influencers where they are seen wearing Revolve outfits. These influencers are known to share pictures from these events thus promoting the brand.
Ecommerce Marketing Trend #7: Videos
Videos are great at capturing the attention of viewers for ecommerce marketing. Audiences enjoy videos a lot more than image or text advertising. This is because videos usually involve a story-line. This helps audiences relate to videos better and increases engagement for ecommerce marketing.
Videos, especially live videos, are one of the emerging ecommerce marketing trends in ecommerce. Over 500 million Facebook users watch videos everyday. Facebook has also reported that people are likely to spend 3x more time on watching live videos than previously recorded ones. This means that both previously recorded and live videos can be a game changer when used in marketing.
Example: Nine Line Apparel
Nine Line, an online apparel store is known for creating humorous and engaging product videos.
Image via YouTube
The example above showcases their product and does a great job at marketing as well.
Ecommerce Marketing Trend #8: Content Marketing
Quality content can help you rise above your competition in a ecommerce marketing where consumers are flooded with information everyday. Your target audiences do not have the patience or interest in the old banner or pop-up ads anymore.
The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) has published a report that says that ad blockers are used by 26% of desktop and 15% smartphone users. Hence the only way to effectively overcome this barrier and engage your audience is through effective content marketing.
Blogs, podcasts or video series are great ways of keeping your audience engaged while promoting your brand.
Image via Zappos
Instead they use their blog to communicate their passion and their values to all. This is a unique strategy to help you stand out among your competitors.
Ecommerce Marketing Trend #9: Personalization
While quality content helps you rise above your competition, personalizing your content helps boost retention for ecommerce marketing. Any online store will always have a combination of first-time visitors and repeat customers. Hence a one-size-fits-all strategy will definitely not provide a great customer experience.
Personalization can provide your customers an amazing user experience. Imagine a situation where you are able to provide product recommendations based on past purchases or preferences of a customer! Your customer is guaranteed to shop and return, since they believe you know and understand them well.
The ecommerce giant, Amazon, provides a personalized experience to every visitor to its website. Using your location, they will refer you to the local site that might be more relevant.
Image via Amazon
They display your wishlist and a list of the items you have viewed on your previous visit. This is certainly a great user experience. You don’t need to search again for the item you had selected but dropped off last time without purchasing.
Ecommerce Marketing Trend #10: Easy Shipping & Returns
For ecommerce websites, a key consideration for customers is the shipping costs and return policy before making a purchase. Hence your shipping or return policy may not be a direct marketing strategy, but can still serve to attract customers.
Free shipping is quite lucrative for customers and hence can help you gain more visibility.
Similarly, for ecommerce marketing a flexible return and refund policy with easy pickup is something that is coveted by customers. If leveraged effectively, free shipping and easy returns can attract customers to your website and also boost loyalty.
Amazon’s Prime services offering allows customers the flexibility to choose free same day or two-day shipping.
Image via Amazon
The shorter the delivery time, the higher the chances of customers choosing them over their competitors. Also the availability of free shipping for over 50 million items is certainly a great selling point.
Ecommerce Marketing Trend #11: Remarketing
Remarketing is simply a marketing strategy where an ad follows you through your online journey.
For example, consider a situation where you have searched for hotels on a travel website, for an upcoming vacation. However, you did not make a booking immediately. You decided to come back again later, review some more hotels and then make a booking.
Later that day, while browsing through your Facebook or LinkedIn newsfeed, you might come across an advertisement for the same hotel. You might even see them on the Google search page or other websites.
What this strategy does is that it showcases your product multiple times to a customer, thus increasing the chances of a purchase.
Travel ecommerce websites such as Booking.com does a lot of remarketing based on searches conducted by users. So if you have searched for hotels in Dubai and later are browsing the web, you might come across ads as shown below.
Image via Inc.com
Not only do these ads increase the customer touch points of ecommerce marketing, but also reinforces the need for a purchase.
These are five of the biggest ecommerce marketing trends that you can implement right now in your marketing strategy. All of these trends may seem different in their own way, but they share a common foundation. They’re all based on the need to provide better customer experiences, which can improve your relationships with customers.
So come up with a plan to implement these trends into your strategy and see just how much they can boost your performance. Got any questions or doubts about any of the points? Feel free to leave me a message.
Shane Barker is a digital marketing consultant who specializes in sales funnels, targeted traffic, and website conversions. He has consulted with Fortune 500 companies, influencers with digital products, and a number of A-List celebrities.