As an eCommerce specialist myself, I help clients with both sides of their eCommerce journey - a Shopify website build, and an eCommerce marketing plan to ensure their site gets traffic, collects leads and of course, makes sales.
So let’s go through what an eCommerce marketing plan looks like, in case you have any clients who aren’t quite sure where they should be investing their budgets, and spending their time. It also should help you understand the role an eCommerce website plays in the bigger picture of your client’s business. As a website designer, the more we know about the marketing plan for your shiny new website, the better!
An eCommerce website exists to get traffic, warm up sales, and convert traffic.
Clients should have at least the below figured out:
Strong branding + A traffic source + Retention tactics
(Brand Guidelines) (Cold audience) (Warm up audience/get repeat purchases)
Example of basic eCommerce sales funnel:
Here are my Top 3 eCommerce Marketing Musts for Brands:
1. Creative - Building a Brand
Your client should be investing in a proper brand, with high quality product photography, lifestyle photography and video content you can use across the website. This content can also be used across all their media channels. They should also know their audience inside out, and how their brand solves their audience’s pain points, what their product offers within the market and what their tone of voice is. This should all come tied up neatly in their brand guidelines alongside their logo mark and brand fonts.
If they do not have brand guidelines, I would highly recommend using a talented freelancer to do this - or offer this yourself! The client should make sure there is a budget to refresh content each season for their products, new collections or promotions/campaigns. Let this new content excite and delight new and existing customers, keeping their brand top of mind, and keeping a nice flow of direct traffic to the store. Branding is even in the finer details like packaging, email notifications, website copy, social posts - is everything aligned?
For example, if the brand is eco friendly - is the packaging plastic free? Could they offer a carbon neutral/slow shipping service at checkout? All these little things matter, and will help solidify the brand in the long run.
How can I help my client?
- Bring the brand to life on the site, ensuring their tone of voice is present in call to actions, H1/H2 titles, product descriptions and even Shopify’s order email notifications.
- Test the entire user journey before launch to make sure everything a) flows properly and b) is on brand.
- Utilise Shopify’s tools to reflect the brand onsite - i.e. ShopPay offers carbon neutral options for shipping, add the Facebook channel so you can tag products on Instagram posts, etc.
- Add a super creative ‘About Us’ page to bring the brands story to life.
2. Acquisition - Getting Cold Traffic
Your client should 100% be using paid channels to drive traffic - the key is to do it right, know their breakeven costs, and understand that they will need a testing period where the return on investment might not be there yet.
After working with countless brands, making 6 or 7+ figures, I’d say a healthy % of paid traffic/paid revenue to an eCommerce website is 40%-50%. The rest for acquisition should be split into organic/owned channels like email, direct, and referral.
Getting started is often the hard part, so for those with small budgets, start with one paid channel and test, test, test! Choosing what channel is most profitable also depends on a few things, (your clients average product price, their margins, their shipping timelines, stock levels etc).
To properly make use of FB/IG ads, use a wide array of creative to see what works (this is why point 1, branding, is so important!) and as your client grows, user generated content and customer reviews also work really well on Ads. It’s important not to ‘audience hack’ but rather find broader audiences that work, and continue to delight them with new content!
Google Shopping is perfect for ecommerce retailers already selling existing brands - if you are a retailer not doing this, you are leaving money on the table! It's also great for brands, especially if your product titles and descriptions are SEO optimised (again, something you can help with when building their store).
How can I help my client?
- Build a fast, UX optimised website - this helps Ads work even better and improves conversion rate
- Integrate Google Analytics (GA-4 and the original UA!) and Google Search Console so your client can see where sales and traffic are coming from
- See how your client can utilise product or order reviews with Shopify apps and features on product pages
- Have clear and easy navigation, where the client can send traffic to more direct landing pages on the site (i.e. Sale, Product Categories, Shop all Womens, etc)
- Install additional channels like Facebook so your client can easily integrate their Facebook Ad account and Instagram account.
3. Retention - Warming Up Sales
Email marketing is where it's at - it’s a very cost effective marketing channel as all clients can easily start out with a free Mailchimp or Klaviyo account and only start paying their monthly fees once they grow. It's always a channel I advise clients to use if they are a little light on budget - in the past, email has been the best marketing channel for return on investment for many of my clients (big and small).
With brand guidelines at your side and your gorge design skills, you could absolutely offer a launch package for your client with a basic email template for campaigns, and set up a few flows like abandon cart, welcome emails and thank you emails.
Email helps any brand make the most of traffic coming to the store (driven by cold traffic, point 2!) that might not be ready to buy. For example, if you use Klaviyo’s pop up forms to offer 10% off their first order, someone may sign up interested, but may not buy right away. So even if folks don’t buy on their first visit, you have the chance to warm them up with compelling email campaigns and offers!
How can I help my client?
- Integrate their chosen email marketing channel to their Shopify store - I’d advise using Klaviyo as it has more complex automations and a better integration with Shopify.
- Add an option for an email ‘Starter pack’ on your web design proposals - adds so much extra value to what you can offer AND might land you retaining ongoing work!
- Choose a theme with an email pop up already available, or build your own
- Make sure there is also an opt in for email marketing at checkout, and somewhere on the homepage (normally in the footer).
NB: What about SEO?
I’ve not mentioned SEO here, because I believe that as a web designer/developer, we should be offering basic on page and technical SEO as standard with all new projects. After all, what’s the point in a website existing if it can’t be found online?
Not sure where to start? That’s ok! Either use another freelancer to help you weave SEO into your client's new project, or suggest to your client to use an agency for SEO if they have a bigger budget. You can also learn loads from Neil Patel’s blogs, Shopify’s own guide or SEM Rush.
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Otherwise, if you're a web designer who wants to outsource any eCommerce marketing for their clients, I can help!