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The Complete Guide to Inbound Marketing for eCommerce by Ethan Giffin, CEO Groove Commerce

Introduction - It's All About Cake...

Inbound Marketing for eCommerce

 

Smith Island Cake is the official cake of Maryland (where Groove Commerce is based), and it’s a delicious, multi-layer cake, often made with chocolate ganache. Not only is this cake an amazing treat, but it’s also the perfect analogy for inbound marketing. Here’s why:

  • It’s tempting, and just seeing it often makes people want it.
  • Individually, each layer is a little boring, but when combined the sum of the parts is greater (far greater) than the whole.

Just like this cake, the output of your inbound marketing for eCommerce needs to be inviting to your customers and prospects.

More importantly, an inbound marketing for eCommerce strategy consists of a variety of smaller initiatives that on their own may not be anything remarkable, but when combined can create something powerful, moving, even transcendental (like taking a bite of Smith Island Cake). Making a cake like this takes time and effort; so too does building and executing an effective inbound marketing strategy.

And that’s where this guide comes in. You’re probably reading this because you want to learn how to boost your revenue. You may be looking across the eCommerce landscape and wonder how your brand can stand out, win more customers, optimize revenue streams, and be more competitive. Well, you’ve come to the right place. Pull up a chair, grab a piece of cake, and let’s dive in

What Is Inbound Marketing for eCommerce?

First things first: let’s start with a definition.

"Inbound marketing is a set of marketing strategies and techniques focused on using content relevant to current and prospective buyers and pulling those customers and prospects toward a business and its products."

The key item to note here is that inbound marketing isn’t just one tool, one tactic, or even a single campaign. It’s a set of on-going activities that, when done in tandem, create a highly scalable revenue driver.

A common question we get is, “Why do I need inbound marketing for eCommerce?” The answer to that question actually lies beyond a question of revenue, but rather focuses on relevancy. Consider these shifts in consumer behavior:

  • Shopping online is shifting to mobile, with 35% saying their smart phone is their primary online shopping tool, with revenue from mobile alone expected to top $600 million in 2018;
  • Consumers are starting to increasingly use voice-assisted purchases on devices like Amazon Echo and Google Home;
  • In fact, by 2020, experts predict more than half of all product searches will be done by voice or by image;
  • Online purchases aren’t only happening on eCommerce websites; they’re happening on Amazon, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and many other platforms;

Notice any trends? eCommerce is getting faster, more accessible, and taking place over a wider variety of platforms and devices. The bottom line for most e-tailers is that inbound marketing is the one marketing approach that empowers businesses to scale engagement with prospective, current, and past customers. Thus, our goals for inbound marketing for eCommerce typically include:

  • Increasing Visitors
  • Increasing Conversion Rate
  • Increasing Average Order Value
  • Increasing Lifetime Value

A good way to approach inbound marketing techniques is to look at them through the lens of the sales funnel.

Attract

This is the top of the marketing funnel. It’s all about generating awareness and brand recognition among key targeted audiences.

Convert

Convert can have different meanings in different industries or business categories, but here we’re using it to define gaining some sort of initial relationship with a prospective customer. That usually means capturing an email so that you can continue to market to them over time.

Close

This is the stage where the sale takes place aka SHOW ME THE MONEY.

Delight

This final stage is where a business not only fulfills an order, but exceeds a customer’s expectations. The aim here is to both strengthen customer loyalty, but to encourage that customer to share their experience with their friends and social networks, thereby amplifying a business’ exposure, reach, and reputation (and thus feeding back into the top-level of the sales funnel).

To reach customers at each of these stages, and to move them through the sales funnel, you’ll be developing a number of “micro-campaigns,” a series of small, on-going activities that ultimately culminate in a larger marketing effort. We’ll explore tactics you can execute at each of these funnel stages in more detail throughout the guide. But before we get to tactics, it’s essential to start with strategy.

Creating a Strategy

The distinguishing factor for success in any inbound marketing program is the degree to which a company spends time gaining insights into their customers and planning tactics around those insights. Thus, the first step in any program should be to develop an ideal buyer profile, and from that, buyer modalities, which is a more specific method for segmenting buyers.

To arrive at these crucial pieces of a marketing strategy, we like to look at Recency, Frequency, and Monetary across all buyers. That means answering:

  • How new are the buyers?
  • How often do they buy?
  • How much are they spending?

You can hone in on your ideal buyer by calculating these three data points, which sets a baseline set of metrics for you to build on. Your ideal buyer profile may also include other data such as:  

  • Gender
  • Age Group
  • Race or nationality
  • Geographical Location
  • Income
  • Education
  • Technical Ability

Buyer modalities, on the other hand, are based off of research into who the customers actually are and their intentions with the product or service you are selling. Effective modalities define individual behaviors and go beyond profile data to extrapolate intent. A few sample questions around intent include:

  • How do you use the product?
  • What do you intend to do with it?
  • What are your goals for using the product?  

The point here is that two users with identical demographics can be motivated and influenced in different ways through their interaction with your product. As a result, marketers will need to persuade them differently.

Of course, buyers aren’t some monolithic group; different people have different motivations for buying; they likely purchase different types of products in different ways, and often for different reasons. We often break buyers into four buyer types: fast buyers, slow buyers, logic basde buyers, and emotional buyers. Within those you have competitive buyers, spontaneous buyers, methodical buyers, and humanistic buyers. Those are the four types of buyer modalities, and you want to make sure you’re catering different campaigns to each different modality. There’s no one-size fits all approach. A good strategy addresses each buyer modality through each step in the sales funnel, and plans for creating materials that speak directly to and attract each type and modality.

Inbound eCommerce Marketing Buyer Modal

Which leads to the next step of building your inbound marketing strategy: Planning for implementation. That includes two distinct steps:

    1. Planning & Scheduling Content/Offers
    2. Identifying and implementing automated workflows.

Planning & scheduling is just what it sounds like: Creating a marketing calendar that outlines what supporting materials or content you’ll be producing, the channels where you’ll be releasing and promoting them, and when you’ll be doing all these activities. Remember that it’s important to address each buyer at each funnel stage.  We still see many mid-market e-Tailers who do not operate off a proper schedule. You should be able to map out 80-90% of your stores campaigns and editorial schedule at one time.

The second part is to identify common workflows and build automations as a 12-month process. This relies on using a marketing automation software that gathers customer data—interactions, purchasing habits, etc.—and allows you to set up triggers for specific communications. This could be anything from addressing an abandoned cart to wishing a customer a happy birthday (along with giving them a special offer or other birthday treat that encourages them to shop your store). We’ll go over some opportunities to build powerful workflow automations as we explore each step in the sales funnel.

Attracting

What drives buyers to brands? Some might argue that’s it’s the value they get from that brand, but we think it has as much to do with soul or personality as it does with financial motivations (though those aren’t to be discounted, as we’ll discuss below). Your marketing efforts need to serve content that is both meaningful and relevant to your target customers, while also showcasing your brand’s soul... I liken it back to the 1980’s cult classic, North Shore, One of my favorite movies of all time.  If you want to compete against Amazon, you’ve a soul, an essence, an opinion.  In the movie, Chandler tries to embody this mentality into a young Rick Kane who is redesigning the logo for his surfboard brand.

North Shore: The Movie

This soul has to be delivered at the right time on the right platform. As the first step in your sales funnel, the tactics used here often cast the widest net, though that doesn’t mean they’re not targeted. The goal here is to focus on bringing people to your website for the first time, no matter what their type or modality is. Typically, this includes a combination of search engine optimization (SEO), homegrown content, user-generated content, social media, and paid media. Let’s take a look at each to see how they work.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) for eCommerce

Search engines and humans read the web differently. That's why structured data was developed to help search engines understand the context of your content. Using a standardized format, structured data organizes information in a way that search engines can easily navigate using simple algorithms. As a result, search engines like Google can use structured data to display special search results including product names, bulleted lists, and customer reviews. There are several elements of a product listing or information on a page that are crucial to helping that page appear in search engine results.

Your main focus for SEO should be on using keywords properly and sufficiently. There are several areas on your page that are seen only by search engines, but remember, the rest of the content on your pages must be readable by humans as well! Sounding like a robot or excessively repeating keywords will only hurt you. Here are a few areas where you should be using highly targeted keywords to boost your SEO.

URLs

Each product you sell should have its own page, and the URL for that page must include the keyword (not necessarily the product name, though sometimes that will make sense) and should be longer than 125 characters. For example:

Page Titles

This is the text that appears in your web browser tab. It’s read by both humans and search engines. Typically, search engines only read the first 50-60 characters, so keep it short!

  • Buy <Product Name> | <Category Name> | XYZ.com

Meta Descriptions

A brief description of the content on the page. Should be no longer than 300 characters. 

    • Find discount <Product Name> and read <Product Name> reviews and other <Category/Brand Name> products at XYZ.com

Header Tags

The header for each section on a page should include the keyword for that page, but should also be tagged as a header (H1, H2, etc.). This tells search engines that the information is important to that page.

Your H1 should be the primary theme of the page, while you may want to include some modifier words in your H2's like Buy, Best, Find or Reviews. 

Multimedia and Image Alt Text

Not only are images essential for merchandising your products, but they’re also extremely helpful in boosting SEO. Images should have “alt-tags” containing the page’s targeted keyword, and the image itself should be relevant. 

Rich Snippets

Think about these as additional information search engines use to categorize the information found on each page. You should 100% be adding these to your templates!

  • Organization
  • Product
  • Reviews
  • Search Box
  • Social Media

Have Yotpo? Here's how to add Yotpo Rich Snippets in BigCommerce.

Canonical Tags

These tags are a must-have for large eCommerce websites, where there is often a lot of duplicate information. Canonical tags help search engines identify which content is “original,” while ignoring duplicate content. Not using canonical tags can actually hurt your search engine listings, as Google does not like when a website uses the same content multiple times.

Content

The mantra of inbound marketing is “Content is king,” meaning the better quality your content, the more success you will have. What constitutes “high quality” content? Anything that provides value to your buyers. That could be blog posts, buyers or gift guides, case studies, videos, and more. The more creative you can be here, and the more helpful you are to your buyers, the more likely you’ll attract and convert them.

Blogging

eCommerce blogging can be a fantastic way to increase website traffic. Successful blogs share valuable information and expertise with prospective customers. That information improves trust, increases brand loyalty and leads to more purchases.

So why isn't every business including blogging in their eCommerce marketing strategy? Writing content takes time, and as the saying goes, time is money. Unless it’s your primary responsibility, regularly writing content can be an uphill battle. Luckily, there are ways to make blogging easier and less time-consuming.

We recommend brainstorming as many ideas in advance, and building those into your marketing calendar. Give yourself enough time each week or each month to draft the content, and be sure to have a clear editorial and publishing process in place, which can include gathering any relevant information or images, and uploading it to your website.

Remember to always include a clear path to purchase in your blog, using images and links directly to the relevant product pages. We built a nifty integration called BigPr.es that allows you to integrate BigCommerce and WordPress and there is another great tool for Magento called Fishpig.  Regardless of the tool you use, remember to make it easy for your customers to purchase.

Gift Buyers & Guides

This is an especially important content around major shopping holidays, mostly because the people who are doing the buying are not likely your normal buyers. You need to think about how you are going to drive people to the specific pages on your website where they’ll easily find what they’re looking for. One excellent example of this is from our client who sells millions of dollars in lacrosse equipment. The holiday season is a prime selling time, but it’s rarely the lacrosse players who are buying. It’s their parents or relatives who may not be as familiar with lacrosse as the player. Instead of organizing their gift guide around product categories, they organized it by the gift recipient, such as “For Him,” “For Her,” and “Youth.” They even included a quick link to their gift cards page.

Gift and buyers guides also make excellent blog fodder. Consider post ideas like “Stocking Stuffers,” “What to buy for your husband/wife/child,” “This year’s top products for men/women,” etc. Guides like these can have a huge impact on your organic SEO as well as providing useful, valuable and shareable content.

Ratings & Reviews

If you’ve ever googled a product, or even a restaurant, you’ve probably noticed that Google loves reviews. The search giant uses this type of information as a signal about how popular a product may be, as well as to provide a richer, more informative experience for users. Adding the ability to rate and review products directly on your site thus has a two-fold benefit:

  1. It helps your organic search engine rankings. See rich snippets above...
  2. It draws visitors to your site, allowing them to get good information about the products you’re selling, and possibly finding other products on your site.

Social Media Sharing

One great way to build your social media following, and thus exposure to your products, is to entice your social media followers to share your content and posts. It starts with well-placed global social buttons on your site, in the footer, header, and other parts of the content on your website. Another tactic is to encourage a “friend buy,” which incentives customers with rewards to share your products with their friends by email and on social networks. 

Of course, every brand wants to have their social media content shared. Part of the approach is having a flexible content guidelines and a creative but diligent staff to manage your social media accounts. That is, you want to give them clear direction on brand voice, but at the same time allow them to be creative with accounts. Social media is often about being present in the moment, like when Oreo shared this tweet during Super Bowl XLVII.

(Side note: This is our favorite example, since it’s from the Super Bowl where our home team won!)

Local Events/Trunk Shows

This is ideal for retailers with brick and mortar presences. Build lists for potential customers who are local to your retail locations. Use custom audiences to drive RSVPs to events and trunk shows while not burning out folks on your list who may not be in the same geographic regions.

Paid Media

Paid media is a broad category of online advertising that includes things like:

  • Search engine marketing (paid placements in search engines)
  • Display advertising (banners on websites)
  • Social media advertising (ads on Facebook, Twitter, etc.)

Search engine marketing is an excellent tool to attract buyers based on what they’re searching for, which usually signifies an intent to buy. Display and social media advertising is generally more geared towards expanding brand presence.

Lookalike Audiences

One of the really powerful Facebook features is Lookalike Audiences. This allows you to find and attract prospective customers who are similar to your existing customers. By using this feature, you can easily and quickly expand your reach to a set of highly qualified leads.

Additionally, Facebook offers a value-based Lookalike audiences, which allows you to reach potential consumers who are similar to existing customers AND are considered “high value.” Of course, you have to know your lifetime value (LTV) of your customers in order to take advantage of this feature.

These capabilities help you very narrowly focus your ad spend, and can significantly improve the ROI of your Facebook campaigns. Consider offering these potential buyers a special offer or free trial to rope them in. Make sure you follow Facebook’s customer data preparation best practices in order to increase the match rate. This will help ensure you don’t pay to show ads to people who may not be interested in your product.

Converting

As we mentioned earlier, the convert phase of your sales funnel is all about capturing new email addresses so you can continue to market to them. Common activities in this stage include sending customized, targeted, and well-timed emails to different customer segments, but also creating the type of content and services that increase the value of your website, as well as the incentive to buy from it. Let’s take a closer look at a few of these key tactics.

Catalog Optimization

When you run an eCommerce site, you regularly need to analyze your product offerings and determine what’s selling, what’s not, and what can be optimized. We like to classify products into four main buckets based on their views and conversions.  

Products should be classified from low traffic to high traffic, low conversion to high conversion. First, you have your top selling products, which typically fall into 80/20 rule: high traffic, high conversion products that sell day in and day out.

Second, there are the products that need promotion. These are items that have low traffic but a high conversion rate. Are there ways to drive more traffic to those pages? It’s likely that the more traffic you drive, the more you’ll be able to increase the conversion rate of those products.

Third, there are products that have high traffic pages but a low conversion rate. This category of product usually needs extensive testing with a variety of conversion and closing tactics, because you are losing a lot potential sales. You want to get more of these products added to the cart and into the checkout.

Finally, products that neither get traffic nor conversions should be removed from your site altogether. These products are just taking up space on your site (and possibly in your warehouse) and are dragging down the overall quality of your site. Consider removing them entirely (possibly at a loss) or at least having a fire sale. The sooner you can get them off your site, the better off you’ll likely be.

Welcome Offers

Have you ever felt annoyed by welcome pop-ups?

We often ask this question in presentations, and literally everyone in the room raises their hand. However, the proof is in the numbers, and it turns out they work extremely well! One tactic is to offer a discount on their first order in exchange for their email address. This enables you to start to gather data about them very early on in the buying process. The sooner you can capture an email address, and pair it with a cookie on their browser, the quicker you’ll be able to interact with them in a meaningful way. What we see for retailers who implement this is that their email list population looks like a hockey stick.

Product Questions

Why not add a HubSpot form to your product detail page allowing visitors to ask questions about specific products while generating leads at the same time? You can create hidden fields for data like product name, SKU and url, then dynamically pass those values in using your platforms variables/tokens

Live Chat & Bots

Customer service can be a key differentiator and is an essential part of converting visitors. Many companies today offer a live chat option on their website that connects people browsing a site to a live customer service agent who can answer any questions the customer may have. To ease the burden of resources needed to staff customer service departments, many firms have turned to chatbots, automated Q&A systems that emulate human interaction using artificial intelligence. They can manage frontline customer service inquiries, and transfer a prospective customer to a live human being as needed. Oftentimes, companies require an email address to engage with a chatbot or live chat representative, giving the opportunity to not only capture that contact for future marketing purposes, but also to provide a higher level of service that earns the prospective customer’s loyalty.

Closing

Now that you’ve gotten people to your site, you’ve engaged them with your content, your products, social media, and email, it’s time to get them to pull the trigger. After all, that’s what you want in the end, right? As soon as someone becomes a customer, the nature and depth of your relationship has the potential to change. We say potential because, ideally, you’ll not only close one sale, but you’ll continue to close sales with them again and again. We’ll have more to say on that in the Delight section below, but for now, let’s explore some of the key tactics for closing sales on your website.

Site Search

Site search, the function of your website that allows visitors to search it, is one of the key tools for closing sales. Visitors who use site search are taking a pro-active step to find something specific, and their conversion rate is typically 300-500% higher than the average website visitor. Additionally, site search users typically buy more items, with an average order value 25-50 percent higher than other customers. So how do you leverage site search to boost revenues?

First, you need to track several different metrics, including what visitors search for versus what they clicked, what product combinations are viewed and purchased, which products are added to the cart, and which products are ultimately purchased. We can take all these different metrics and apply them to a website’s search results, creating a system that dynamically learns and adjusts to visitor demand over time. This will eventually return search results on your website that smarter and more relevant to shifting customer demand.

You can also use this data to show more relevant product recommendations and to provide more detailed information to customers, such as ratings and reviews, compare, and quick views. On sites that offer hundreds or thousands of products, being able to create filters based on unique product attributes in search results can be incredibly powerful. All the data that you have on your products—sizes, colors, different makes, models, years—can be used to create filters that make search results very usable. The more efficient it is to find products, the more likely a search will lead to a sale.

Frictionless Checkout and Free Shipping

Having an easy to understand checkout process is as important as getting people to your website in the first place, and it’s therefore crucial that you spend time perfecting it. The checkout has many merchandising opportunities, and free shipping is still the number one, most bulletproof promotion in eCommerce. Over and over again, we see conversion rates and average order values jump when clients turn on free shipping over a certain threshold. For example, you might offer free shipping on orders over $50, which is publicized on every product page and in the checkout process. If customers fall short of the threshold, you can include a “countdown” message during the checkout process, enticing them to spend just a little more to get the free shipping. If you can get an extra $5 or $10 out of every order for smaller, easy to ship products, you’ll grow your AOV—and your bottom line—very quickly.

Checkout Cross-Sales

Have you ever bought a new car, and you’ve got all the details worked out with the salesperson, but then you go to financing and they want to add in all kinds of options? Dealerships make millions of extra dollars by getting their customers to spend just a little more before closing the deal. The checkout process on your website can serve exactly that same function. A good example of this is the popup used by Domino’s Pizza, where the buyer is offered the opportunity to make a $1 donation to a good cause while also promoting their chocolate lava cake. Many of us might not order that dessert every time, but it’s likely enticing enough to make folks add the cake to their order at least 10-20% of the time, effectively raising their average order value.

Abandoned Carts

One of the key challenges in any ecommerce business is keeping abandoned cart rates low. That’s when a visitor places an item or items in their shopping cart, but never complete the transaction. The reasons for this can vary greatly; they may have gotten distracted by something, they may have changed their mind, they may want to simply make the purchase at a later time, or even on a competitor’s website. But whatever their motivation is, lowering your abandoned cart rate is an integral part of eCommerce success. We’ve found that setting up an abandoned cart automated workflow in HubSpot can have a dramatically positive effect on your abandoned cart rate. Essentially, you can set up a series of emails to go to anyone who has provided you with their email address but not completed a purchase. The emails can remind them of the items they put in their cart or tempt them with special offers and discounts to complete the purchase. Based on our research and testing, we’ve found a formula to capture sales from an abandoned cart email. For most products, we trigger the first email 1–2 hours after abandonment, the second email 12–24 hours after abandonment, the third email 48–72 hours after abandonment and finally one last email 3 days after the third email was sent.

Custom Audiences

If you haven’t heard of it, Facebook Custom Audiences is an advertising method that lets you reach leads and customers that you already know. Basically, you upload a list of emails into Facebook and it will deliver ads to that exact list if Facebook can identify them. Moreover, using HubSpot’s smart list tools, you can quickly and easily sync customer data to Facebook’s custom audiences, segment them based on their purchasing habits or other online behaviors, and then target ads with messaging geared specifically to each audience segment. Ads served to Custom Audiences can be major revenue drives when used properly. Here are four examples:

Abandoned Cart Recovery

Using your HubShop.ly Abandoned Cart smart list, you can target those visitors that have left items in their cart.  You will need at least 100 folks on this list to really gain traction. 

Win Back Campaigns

Create custom audiences for customers who haven’t purchased anything for 180-364 days, or for more than 365 days. Then create offers for those people and target them on Facebook. 

Welcome Series

Create a “Welcome Popup” using a HubSpot form and include an offer (we suggest a small, free gift that’s low cost to you and doesn’t eat into your margin). Create a smart list and start targeting ads on Facebook using the same offer. Set rules that once the lead makes their first purchase, they fall off the list and don’t continue to receive the offer.  

Promotion Non-Openers

Create smart lists for anyone who does not open your promotional emails. You can then easily target those non email openers with the same offers via a different channel.

Retargeting

If you’ve ever visited an eCommerce website, looked at a few items, and then navigated away only to see those same items being advertised on other websites, then you’ve experienced retargeting. In a nutshell, this is the practice of placing a cookie on a visitor’s web browser, and then purchasing display ad dynamically across other websites to entice the visitor to complete his or her purchase.

This can be highly effective in converting people who just browse your site, or even for visitors who abandon their shopping carts.

Delighting

So you’ve now convinced website visitors to buy something from you (or hopefully several things). Congrats! Now what?

Well, if you’re a good eCommerce marketer it’s time to think about how you can delight your customer. Why? One reason is to convince that customer to continue to buy products from you in the future. Another reason is to convince that customer to tell their friends about your company, and get them to make purchases as well. Let’s look a few ways you can delight your customers, keep them happy and coming back.

Shipping & Fulfillment

Customer satisfaction starts with fulfillment. This could also include offering gift wrapping and gift messaging for when people buy something from your site for someone else. The idea here is to make your brand memorable through your packaging. Ask yourself: How can I add just a little extra love to my packaging? Make opening the box fun, maybe even surprising. We’re seeing more and more retailers add a little extra TLC to their packaging. For example, luxury watch brand Shinola puts a lot of effort into their packaging, including setting the watch for the purchaser’s time zone. The product is showcased and ready to go when it’s opened.

Post-Purchase Follow-up

You got the sale, but now it’s all about the follow-through. If post-purchase email automation isn’t a part of your inbound marketing strategy, you could be missing out on valuable revenue. Following-up with the customer by asking for a product review, sending them a notification when their items have shipped, recommendations for complimentary products, or even special offers will go a long way to build loyalty and keep them coming back.

Win Back Workflows

Did you know that it’s 7x more expensive to win a new customer than it is to get an older one to make a purchase again? If someone has bought from you in the past, but they haven’t bought anything in a long time, it’s probably time to reach out to them. The goal here is to save customer before they drop off the “cliff,” the point at which they will never be a customer again. Of course, that will change based on what you sell; some companies are happy when customers order something from them every six months, others are content when customers make a once/year purchase, and others who seek to have customers make purchases every 90.

The best way to manage this is to create segmented lists based on last order date, and you can start to see how your contacts flow across the timeframes. Maybe you have a 90 day list, a 180 day list, and a 365 day list. Sometimes just a nudge is all you need to win them back. Just remember that after a certain length of time, it’s probably good to scrub your email list and remove people who haven’t been active in more than two years. Continuing to email them can actually negatively impact your email deliverability rates, and it’s simply not productive to continue to try to re-engage them.

Drive Loyalty by Treating Customers like Royalty

People love to be made to feel special, to feel like they’re in a separate tier of customer. And your most valuable customers are the perfect target for this marketing. The goal here is to try to move each customer to the next level. What this means is often different for each retailer, there’s no one-size fits all approach. For example, your average order size levels might be $10 – $50, $50 - $100, and $100+. A VIP program for the top tier of customers is a great way to not only increase revenues, but to build massive brand loyalty.

Birthdays & Special Occasions

Everybody loves to get presents on their birthday (well, most people anyway). Some restaurants will give you a free dessert on your birthday. Some places will give you a free product or a special discount. Requesting this information can give you another opportunity to reach out to a customer and offer some unexpected delight.

You should conduct similar outreach for pretty much all holidays—Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, etc. But there are other “special occasions” you can also commemorate with an incentive to make a purchase, such as the anniversary of a customer’s first purchase.

The key here is to be fun and engaging, and the best thing about these campaigns is that you can fully automate these so that customers receive these emails whenever they reach a milestone. It’s really one of the few activities in marketing that you can set it and forget it, and it’ll continue to generate revenue.

Conclusion

Inbound marketing has become the most essential set of marketing tools to impact businesses over the past 10-20 years. Long gone are the days where you might sell directly using direct mail or TV ads (still viable tools even if you had an eCommerce website 10 years ago). That said, the tactics are constantly changing and evolving, and you need to keep up or risk losing market share. But that risk is also an opportunity, especially for mid-market e-tailers. Because the great part of inbound marketing is that it works extremely well, even if you don’t have an oversized budget that larger companies do.

You can execute plans in chunks, and you can experiment without sacrificing your marketing budget, and you don’t have to worry about pulling of huge media campaigns. Best of all, as we’ve discussed, you can automate so many parts of your marketing that will reduce the workload and help you shore up any revenue leaks you may be experiencing. The key to success is to put your customer first, come up with a strategy and execution plan, and then take action.