eCommerce Advertising: What to Know to Grow Your Audience

Mobile phone with open sign and awning

Digital retail sales have rocketed over the past decade. In 2019 alone, global online retail sales hit a whopping $3.35 trillion. eCommerce revenue is expected to nearly double by the end of 2022.

Table of Contents

table_content

eCommerce Sales Soar

Choosing the Best eCommerce Platform

Find Your Audience

Optimize Your eCommerce Store for Conversions

5 Lessons From eCommerce Success Stories

Black Friday Cyber Monday

Online retail is a competitive industry that demands research, testing, and optimization to build effective eCommerce advertising strategies. Here's what you need to know about running a successful eCommerce store.

Topic One

eCommerce Sales Soar

With great sales comes great competition. 

eCommerce startups face competition not only from other online retailers, but from brick-and-mortar stores pivoting to include online sales in their revenue streams. However, eCommerce is edging out in store retail sales and taking up more growth share in the market.

Digital Commerce 360 graph depicting online sales market share

Topic Two

Choosing the Best eCommerce Platform

If you’re new to running an eCommerce business or even simply interested in exploring options to scale your business, choosing the right site or platform to host your shop is an important first step in your eCommerce marketing strategy.

There are many platform options available for eCommerce startups, and choosing the best site for your business comes down to your specific requirements and budget restrictions

Here are some questions to consider if you’re not sure where to start:

  • Do you want your online shop to be built from the ground up, or are you looking for a turnkey solution?
  • Have you set your operating costs for your website? Does this include additional features such as custom themes and app purchases?
  • What sort of payment gateways do you plan to use for credit card processing?
  • Are you going to need ongoing support and maintenance for your website, or do you want to handle that on your own?
  • What is your digital marketing plan? Which online selling platforms fit into my marketing campaign template?

Don’t be afraid to spend quite a bit of time determining which eCommerce platform is best for small businesses and fits into your eCommerce marketing plan. This is an important decision that impacts your budget, your eCommerce advertising capabilities, and even overall branding. 

Our suggestion is to seek out reviews and in-depth eCommerce platform comparisons before you commit to one.

Man preparing orders for eCommerce purchases

Building a Successful Shopify Store

Shopify is one of the easier platforms to get started on because it’s very beginner friendly and offers a lot of support resources for its users. You’ll find plenty of Shopify alternatives, but in the wide world of eCommerce, we have been able to write many Shopify success stories thanks to the functionality of the platform. There are also tons of examples of eye-catching Shopify stores to pull inspiration from that prove this is one of the best eCommerce platforms for small businesses.

Shopify App store screenshot

To get the most out of your Shopify experience, you’ll want to explore what the App Store has to offer—and it’s a lot! Because there are so many options available, the App Store can seem overwhelming. With the right research, patience, and experimenting, you will be able to build a Shopify store that’s optimized for your business.

What About Facebook Shops?

If you’re new to the eCommerce game and exploring where you can sell, you might have been interested to learn about the introduction of Facebook Shops in May of 2020. 

Facebook Shops is different from Marketplace or traditional online-only eCommerce because it is aimed at small brick-and-mortar businesses looking to bring their services online. Shops is fully integrated in the Facebook user experience, meaning that if someone is browsing their Facebook feed and ends up on a business’ Shop page, they will be able to browse, communicate, and buy without ever leaving the social media platform.

If you’re already using social media advertising, this is another social media marketing tool to consider. 

Screenshot of Facebook Shop example

What does the new Facebook Shops mean for your eCommerce business launch? Well, for one thing you will have a new opportunity to connect with customers. Shops will be integrated into Facebook and Instagram to reach customers where they’re at. 

You might be worried that Facebook Shops is just another thing to have to monitor on top of your business’ website. Luckily, Facebook Shops can be set up automatically with a number of third-party platforms so you can reach more customers without any extra hassle.

Topic Three

Find Your Audience

Overhead view of large crowd

How are you getting your online store in front of the right audiences?

Target marketing can eat up time and money, especially when you just can’t seem to find your correct audience. Make sure you are setting the right foundation to build target audiences that generate sales instead of wasting clicks.

Facebook for Business is an incredibly powerful tool for customizing audiences, especially for eCommerce. Not only do you get access to millions of users on Facebook and Instagram, you can also take advantage of the many Facebook integrations with popular platforms like Shopify and BigCommerce.

When building your custom audiences, you’ll want to focus your attention on six types of audiences:

  • basketWindow shoppers
  • resignCart abandoners
  • salesRecent purchasers
  • ecommerceCategory/infrequent purchasers
  • clientLoyal customers
  • agreementHigh lifetime value customers

Topic Four

Optimize Your eCommerce Store for Conversions

Your eCommerce store should present your brand and products with an intent to sell. A gorgeous website doesn’t mean much if it can’t convert sales. Sleek widgets, great copy, and beautiful pictures are great tools, but if your call to action is buried, what is motivating the window shopper to become a buyer? On the flip side, your side should not seem so functional that your branding is lost—this, too, can turn off new browsers.

Optimize Your Homepage for eCommerce Traffic

Does your website homepage support your conversion goals, or does it just take up space? Remember that as a rule of thumb, your homepage will be the first thing your customer sees when they enter your site. This page serves as a sort of lobby for shoppers visiting your storefront, providing all the information that a shopper needs to find what they are looking for.

A good homepage urges shoppers to move past that page to view what your store has to offer. Check out this homepage from Penny Lane Sink Co that’s optimized to get the customer to keep browsing.

Penny Lane Sink screenshot

This homepage features a clear logo, a shopping bag, free shipping offer, and a clear call to action that isn’t buried down the page. The free shipping and drain choice motivates shoppers to start looking because they know that down the line they won’t have to worry about high shipping rates.

Optimize Your Landing Pages for eCommerce Conversions

While your homepage is the lobby that most of your web traffic will pass through, landing pages serve a different purpose. 

Landing pages are created specifically for marketing campaigns to convert visitors. An effective landing page is focused on a particular traffic stream, targeted to audiences who you have determined are most likely to care about your offer.

A good landing page removes the distractions of your website and narrows the viewer’s focus to a page tailored for their audience group. This could mean they are entering the landing page based on their level of brand awareness, demographics, interests, behavior, and even location.

Other than being a backlink behemoth, Canva has an impressive catalog of landing pages, as well. Canva landing pages optimize for user intent. Check out the example of a landing page created for people looking to create a greeting card online.

Example of Canva landing page for greeting cards

This landing page invites visitors to start designing custom cards, shows you a glimpse of what to expect in their design creator, and keeps clutter down to a minimum so the user isn’t distracted or overwhelmed.

Notice that when we talk about building landing pages, we're aiming for a good landing page, not a “perfect” landing page. Truth be told, a perfect landing page does not exist. It’s easy to fall down a rabbit hole of landing page testing to optimize for conversions, but don’t get caught in that trap.

The majority of landing page testing comes from initial gains after the first round of improvements. After that point, it’s probably best to move on from landing page testing.

Topic Five

5 Lessons From eCommerce Success Stories

We get it. Starting a new business is daunting, especially in the competitive eCommerce space. You’re probably worried about failure. Our advice: don’t be.

Experiment, fail, learn

Failure turns into learning, which can be translated into success. Let’s take a look at some eCommerce successes and what they can teach you about your own business.

1. You don’t have to rely on discounts for conversions. Baltic Essentials, an online retailer of therapeutic jewelry, wanted to preserve their margins so they designed campaigns to bring in cold audiences. Rather than using discounts as a draw, this business used social proof to warm audiences and only offered discounts if necessary.


2. Make the most of your small budget, then scale. Cause-based apparel store Only Human had a small budget and big hopes to scale their potential. They were able to start testing with a smaller budget to quickly establish strong, responsive audiences and then connect with Clearbanc to get funds to scale aggressively.


3. Established brands still have tons of growth potential. Girl’s Clothing Hut, an established brand, wanted to scale conversions but were having trouble running successful ads. This business widened their target audience and used videos and animated gifs to revamp their ad creative and ultimately increase sales.

4. Your customers can be your best advertisers. High-end lingerie company Curvy Couture needed to figure out how to sell their products online without customers being able to try them on. They were able to leverage strong video content, testimonials, and social proof to convert.

5. Spend smart to scale smart. Legendary Foods specializes in low-sugar and heart-healthy snack foods that are sold online and in retail locations. This business wanted to build revenue from direct online sales but past efforts at paid acquisition didn’t work out. By using ad spend to test hyper-segmented audiences, Legendary Foods was able to gain valuable insights to build successful ads.

Topic Six

Black Friday Cyber Monday

You didn’t think you’d get through this page without any mention of Black Friday Cyber Monday, did you? No doubt Black Friday Cyber Monday excites you with the promise of big sales while also sending chills down your spine anticipating the lead-up time.

In 2019, retailers recorded a total $7.4 billion in online sales by the end of Black Friday. In a new trend to watch, consumers spent more mobile shopping than ever before. Smartphone user purchases made up $2.9 billion of Black Friday profits. Cyber Monday, on the other hand, broke eCommerce records—shoppers generated $9.4 billion in sales

📈 Learn how this online retailer achieved a 51% lift in ROAS despite high holiday season CPMs →

How are you preparing to crush Black Friday Cyber Monday sales? Have you considered how eCommerce advertising and Black Friday Cyber Monday go hand in hand? It’s crucial that your digital marketing plan includes a strategy for this holiday sales weekend.  Here are some tried and true tips for maximizing your Black Friday Cyber Monday potential: 

 

  • Create a timeline for ad campaigns.
  • Prep your business for smooth behind-the-scenes operations.
  • Set your advertising budget and stick to it.