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Marketing Strategies for Online Retailers

Online retail sites are now attracting nearly 10 percent of brick-and-mortar stores' customers, according to a Gallup poll conducted during the last holiday season. 6 percent of those surveyed had bought a product online after showrooming it in a physical store, while another 3 percent said they viewed the item in-store intending to buy it from a website. Projections by eMarketer anticipate global business-to-consumer e-commerce sales growing 20.1 percent this year to total $1.5 trillion. This growing market includes established brands such as Amazon and eBay and emerging giants such as China's Alibaba, whose transactions last year totaled $248 billion.

To compete in a market populated by such titanic competition, it's imperative to have a sound marketing strategy that effectively promotes your brand to your niche.

Meeting the Mobile Market

Today's retailers must adjust to keep up with a rapidly-changing market that differs significantly from a traditional brick-and-mortar environment, McKinsey reports, analyzing five trends that are reshaping the face of the retail industry. The data shows that 8 percent of retail sales are now transacted via e-commerce, with this number expected to rise as smartphone market penetration grows from 40 percent in 2013 to 60 percent in 2016. This expanding market is characterized by a demographic that is increasingly boomer or millennial in age and Hispanic in ethnicity. Reaching this demographic using mobile marketing requires taking a more personalized sales strategy informed by data gathered through analytics tools, McKinsey says. The consulting firm advises that companies seeking to remain competitive in the mobile space should start getting serious about using big data and analytics for decision-making. Google Analytics, YouTube Analytics, Facebook Insights, and Twitter Analytics are a few basic tools that today's marketer should be using.

Optimizing Your Message for Social Sharing

Kantar Worldpanel ComTech research shows that mobile users prefer screen sizes between 4.7 and 5 inches. Social media marketing outlets gear themselves towards this display size, with Twitter's 140-character limit illustrating the optimal amount of text. For marketers, this means that an effective social media message must be short and sweet. Traditional brick-and-mortar wisdom advises that a marketing campaign's unique selling proposition should consume 90 words or less, but for digital media many marketers are opting for even shorter USPs of as few as 10 words. Food and beverage marketing consultant Seth Lui cites the classic example of Domino's offer “Fresh, hot pizza delivered to your door in 30 minutes or less.” Lui recommends to start developing a USP by offering your top clients an incentive such as dinner in exchange for answers to a series of questions about why they buy from you instead of your competition. Build the answers you get into a short slogan that captures distinct elements of your sales message, such as what problems you solve, what benefits you offer, or which market you serve.

Visualizing Your Brand

In spring 2013 Socialbakers conducted a survey of a random sample of 5,000 Facebook pages to determine which type of content generated the most likes, comments, and shares. The results, consistent with previous research, showed that content that included photos contributed 93 percent of the most interactive posts on Facebook. As this indicates, visual content is essential for effective digital marketing, and accordingly, the latest Social Media Examiner annual industry report shows that marketers are increasingly turning to platforms such as Instagram and Pinterest in order to add visual impact to their promotional campaigns. In addition to photos, other graphic elements such as logos can contribute to a brand's visual appeal. Online do-it-yourself services such as LogoGarden make it easy to rapidly create professional-looking, customized logos even if you're not a graphic designer.

Leveraging Video

Video traffic currently consumes two-thirds of consumer Internet traffic, a share which will continue rising to 79 percent by 2018, Cisco projects. Vidyard marketing VP Mitch Solway says video is the next big thing in marketing, citing Content Marketing Institute founder Joe Pulizzi's perspective on the latest trends and tips of the trade. Pulizzi says that due to today's widespread availability of quality mobile cameras, in coming years marketers will increasingly post series of videos, transforming the nature of blogging. He suggests building your brand by using videos to tell stories on an ongoing basis, on a publishing schedule akin to a blog, in order to create content that attracts followers and invites regular user engagement and interaction.

Following up

Microsoft research shows that it can take as many as 13 or more contacts with a prospect to create the opportunity for delivering a qualified sales presentation, with the odds increasing after the fifth contact. This makes a good follow-up system essential to an effective marketing campaign. Capturing contact information for follow-up email marketing should form a major part of this strategy. A January 2014 McKinsey report found that email still delivers 40 times more customers than Facebook and Twitter combined. Emails also generate sales at a rate three times higher than social media, at an average order value of 17 percent more. Combining email follow-up with lead generation techniques such as social media, blogging, video marketing, and search engine optimization creates an integrated marketing strategy that can generate ongoing prospecting opportunities with captured leads. For example, you can use social media visual content linked from your blog to drive readers to a website opt-in form.

Customizing Your Sales

A survey by Adobe and E-consultancy found that personalizing user web experience translated into a significant increase in return on investment. For instance, 88 percent of respondents reported that using social graphs increased return on investment, 68 percent found that tracking browser history improved results, and 77 percent said recording purchase history boosted ROI. Gilon Miller of Upstream Commerce advocates using this type of analytics data to personalize your email marketing in order to strengthen your relationships with your customers, target your leads, offer more relevant products and services, and capitalize on cross-sell opportunities.


  1. Shane Barker says:

    Thanks for coming by my blog Kostas and yes infographics are great for lead generation!

  2. Can I say that of a relief to locate somebody that in fact knows what they’re talking about over the internet. You definitely know how to bring a challenge to light and produce it important.

  3. Nirmit Shah says:

    Hello Shane,
    The blog is really Great!
    The point where you’ve mentioned that video marketing is the new ‘in’ thing has really changed my perspective and I would really want to thank you as I am gonna try video marketing for my business for better results

    Thank you, Shane, once again!

  4. Bruce Reye says:

    Really entertaining stuff in your blog.

    1. Shane Barker says:

      I’m glad you feel that way.

  5. Samara Funches says:

    I found your website on google and read a few of your posts. Keep up the excellent work.

    1. Shane Barker says:

      I’m glad you loved it. Thank you so much, your comments really motivate me to share more of such information.

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