Success in business is never down to luck. Beneath every ecommerce success story is a well-defined plan that accounts for business objectives, budget, and resources. Long before the profits roll in, ecommerce business owners must lay out the roadmap that explains how they will achieve their goals and get a competitive edge in your niche. In essence, this approach is known as strategic marketing.
Read on to discover why this concept matters so much in business today, and then learn the seven essential elements of strategic marketing you need to succeed in ecommerce.
Strategic marketing is a methodology for a business to gain a competitive edge by leveraging its strengths and market knowledge to devise a customer-centric focus and unified application across all its marketing campaigns.
What is the purpose of strategic marketing?
Ultimately, this approach helps the company provide unique value for customers and generate higher profits.
To understand this at a deeper level, let's consider some of the key advantages of strategic marketing:
It evaluates the current environment.
The best strategic marketing is data-driven, as data provides valuable insight into the current state of the market and your organization. This assessment enables you to determine your current position and performance within the market to understand what needs to happen for growth to be possible.
It streamlines product development.
Strategic marketing begins with a SWOT analysis to understand the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats in your business and market. With this foundation, you can focus on products that are more likely to perform well in sales.
It sets clear business goals.
When you incorporate strategic marketing into your business plan, you can determine how you will gauge success. This process details specific goals that have a concrete deadline and allows you to measure your level of success over time.
A marketing plan is the all-encompassing overview of how a business organizes, implements, and tracks various strategies and campaigns over time. These plans account for multiple marketing teams' tasks, such as social media marketing, paid advertising, video production, and content writing.
Marketing is a broad term that can often be a stand-alone activity without any purpose. However, strategic marketing brings harmony to your marketing plan by aligning everything with your business goals.
With a strategic approach that considers how all elements of the plan work together, companies can offer a more seamless, omnichannel service that is more likely to drive success.
For example, Pura Vida Bracelets uses omnichannel marketing to engage customers online and offline:
- With almost 2 million followers on Facebook and Instagram, the company uses visual content and ads to drive people to its ecommerce website.
- On the website, Pura Vida offers sales incentives and collects email addresses.
- The company uses email marketing to target new customers, notifying them of upcoming in-person events.
- At these events, the team offers exclusive promotions and signs people up to their brand ambassador program.
This strategic marketing plan enables Pura Vida to integrate these efforts into a single, unified effort to achieve the same goal.
So, how can you make strategic marketing work for your business?
Now that you understand what strategic marketing is and why it matters let's explore the key aspects. Here are seven components of strategic marketing that have the power to grow any ecommerce company:
1. Mission, Vision, and Values
Before you launch any business, you must fully understand the purpose of the business and the vision. As Simon Sinek effuses, you must “find your why.”
Until you know why you do what you do, your business will struggle with any attempts to build a loyal audience and grow a business. Use Sinek's Golden Circle to crystallise your vision. Ask yourself these questions:
- Why does this business exist? This reason is the core belief of your business.
- How does the business fulfill that core belief? How do your values or products differentiate you from everyone else?
- What does the company do to fulfill that core belief? What products do you sell?
The best strategic marketing in the world could fall flat if you don’t have a clear purpose and vision. Get these pillars down before you invest any time or money in marketing your business.
With the vision of where you want to be, you can monitor crucial data points to chart your progress. Think about the goals for your ecommerce store, and define the most suitable KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) to determine performance.
For instance, if your goal is brand awareness, you should track metrics like website traffic, social media shares, and brand mentions. If your goal is to increase profit, you can track KPIs like conversion rate and average order value.
Consider which metrics align best with your business goals, so you can assess performance over time and make better-informed decisions.
Many ecommerce businesses fail with audience targeting. Instead of narrowing their focus to a specific niche group, they fall into the trap of trying to appeal to a broad, general audience.
Inevitably, this approach drains their budget, and they don’t connect with customers at a deep enough level to convince them to buy once, let alone become loyal repeat customers.
Get to know your audience by performing in-depth research — online and offline. Ecommerce business owners can conduct audience research in lots of ways, including:
- Engage with your target market in social media groups that focus on your industry or products. For example, the owners of W. Titley & Co could engage people in a Facebook group for fans of country & western clothing.
- Post questions to industry experts and consumers on forums like Quora and Reddit.
- Use surveys to collect information about customers, such as their interests and challenges in relation to the products you offer.
- Publish interactive polls on Instagram Stories.
- Host a pop-up event at your store or in a public place, like a shopping mall, where you can demo products and talk with potential customers.
Audience research takes time and effort, but it is well spent. It’s the most effective way to truly get to know your customers. You can create detailed, accurate buyer personas that form the basis of effective strategic marketing.
Without this step, your ecommerce business will rely on guesswork and vague, generic messaging. More often than not, this leads to a colossal waste of time and resources.
A Forbes round-up on the impact of personalised marketing reports that:
- 71% of consumers feel frustrated when their shopping experience is impersonal.
- 91% of consumers are more likely to shop with brands that provide relevant offers and product recommendations.
- 80% of frequent shoppers willonly shop with brands that offer a personalised experience.
While it's smart to pick a niche, most ecommerce stores will still offer a range of products that appeal to smaller subsections of their audience. Rather than blasting out the same messaging for every product, you can segment your products and tailor your messaging. For example, your product offers will be different when marketing women's gym wear compared to men's footwear.
You can also define product offers according to the latest trends. Culture Kings do an excellent job of this with their page on face masks, explaining how “face masks are leading the streetwear accessory game this season.”
By segmenting your audience and clarifying your product offerings, you will get more engagement at every turn.
No matter how niche you go, your ecommerce business will not be in a vacuum—don’t ignore the competition!
Competitor analysis is an integral component of strategic marketing. Through extensive market research, you can identify your nearest competitors and examine what works for them—and what doesn't. These insights allow you to position your business in a way that attracts more attention.
You have to consider your unique value proposition and figure out how you will position yourself in the existing marketplace. Why should customers choose you instead of your competitors?
Modern marketers are spoiled for choice with a diverse array of social media platforms, scheduling tools, and advanced software for customer relationship management, advertising, and analytics. It's easy to get overwhelmed or to spread yourself too thin by trying too many things at once.
As mentioned earlier, an omnichannel approach increases the chance of ecommerce success. With this strategy, you can engage prospects at multiple touchpoints in the customer journey, whether they are a first-time visitor or returning customer.
Think about your audience research, and ask yourself:
- What are my customers’ buying behaviors?
- What social media platforms do they use?
- What websites do they usually buy from?
- What channels can help my business quickly establish itself within the market?
Instead of trying to do it all, focus on a few select channels that will enable you to maximise engagement with your audience.
A lot of ecommerce companies overlook processes. While it's tempting to dive in and start running campaigns and experimenting with various tactics, it's crucial to map out the steps you'll take first.
A scattershot approach rarely pays dividends. In the words of Sun Tzu:“Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.”
You need to organise specific, targeted campaigns and all marketing tactics according to a holistic strategy that will lead your prospects through the stages of the customer journey:
Here are some things you should do as part of your planning process:
- Document your plans for each channel (e.g., social media, email, video, blogging, etc.)
- Categorise content marketing and ideas according to their goals. For instance, a blog post might target people at the top-of-the-funnel, whereas an email may seek to nurture leads closer to making a purchase.
- List key details like post frequency, length, topic, etc.
- Map everything onto a calendar.
- Assign tasks to your team members, and ensure everyone knows their responsibilities.
- Oversee all marketing efforts with a project management platform.
When you clarify your processes, you will have a much stronger marketing strategy to grow your ecommerce business.
Nowadays, there is no place for winging it in ecommerce. If you're strategic, you'll struggle to make any impact. Marketing is all about how you communicate with customers. If you don't cover the bases above, your brand messaging will likely fall on deaf ears.
With a strategic marketing approach, you can get clear on the purpose of your business. With a strong understanding of what you're trying to achieve and the audience you want to serve, you can align your product offerings and position your ecommerce business to get a sustainable competitive advantage.Do you need help with your ecommerce business? Get in touch with The Hope Factory to see how we can improve your marketing strategy.