The Top 10 Mistakes Ecommerce Marketers Make

Most advice for ecommerce marketers focuses on what you should be doing to improve your brand’s marketing. You should be working to implement omnichannel campaigns, lower your cost-per-click, and get a better handle on your first party data.   

But do you also know what you shouldn’t be doing?

Even if you’ve created a robust ecommerce marketing strategy, doing the wrong thing at the wrong moment could chase away even your very best customers. Making a big mistake can actually undo all the hard work you’ve done to build your brand, engage your buyers, and encourage customer loyalty.

So what are the most common mistakes that ecommerce companies make? If you look closely, you’ll see patterns emerge. Many brands make the same few mistakes over and over again, never learning or improving.

But you can do better! Here are the top 10 mistakes we’ve seen ecommerce marketers make. Hopefully, you can learn from others and make sure your brand succeeds where others have failed.

1. Ignore the second purchase

Repeat customers are responsible for generating 40% of a brand’s revenue, so why do so many ecommerce brands focus all their energy on acquiring expensive first-time buyers? It’s an unfortunately common mistake that most marketers ignore the importance of repeat customers.

If you want to encourage your customers to buy from you again then you need to employ four key strategies:

  • Engage with your customers after they purchase something from you through welcome series emails
  • Give them an incentive to shop with you again, whether that be exclusive access to a sale, a coupon, or something else
  • Send cart and browse abandonment emails even if they are not a first-time customer
  • Create a loyalty program that your customers love

Learn more about Repeat Purchase Rate

2. Forget about the data

You’re probably already collecting a lot of data on your customers, which is great. But even if you’re tracking a range of metrics like email opens, click-through rates, and social media likes, that doesn’t make you a true data-driven marketer.

To make your data work harder, you need to track revenue-based metrics so you can understand which campaigns bring in traffic that converts to sales. You should also make sure there’s no gap between the data and marketing execution. The key is that the marketing team needs a single view of the customer with direct access to the data that can feed into your marketing campaigns immediately.

3. Chase buzzy tech trends

Everybody is talking about artificial intelligence (AI), so you probably think that you need to implement it for your brand. You’re not sure how or why, but you don’t want to be left behind. The reality is that the majority of tech trends — especially when they are in their infancy — aren’t going to win you customers or boost the ROI of your marketing campaigns right away.

While you may want to eventually adopt some of these advanced technologies, you first need to get a handle on your first party data and better understand your customers as they move across channels. If you can’t even identify whether the same buyer browsed your website on mobile and then later on their desktop, you probably have a bit of work to do before moving to the hottest tech trend.

4. Try to be everything to everyone

Yes, Amazon is killing it in ecommerce, but you don’t want to try and compete with Amazon. It’s simply not a winning strategy to copy them and try to be a one-stop-shop for everything a consumer might ever want.

Instead, you should be as much your brand as you can possibly be. Remind yourself what problem you were trying to solve when you set up your business and have a strong personality and brand that makes you instantly recognizable to your customers. Work out what products sell well — and what your customers come to you for — and focus on them.

Swimwear ecommerce brand Andie is a good example of that. The company only sells one product — one-piece bathing suits in three different styles. Melanie Travis, founder and CEO of the company, explains: “Generally, my hypothesis around ecommerce is that it’s better to be deep and narrow, rather than broad and shallow. If you’re broad, you set yourself up to compete with an Amazon, whereas if you go just deep and narrow and curated, then you’re providing a different value proposition.”

5. Miss out on omnichannel

A staggering 86% of ecommerce marketers have still not implemented a full omnichannel marketing strategy for their brand, which is a huge miss. You should be in the 14% that has.

With almost three-quarters of shoppers using multiple channels during their buying journey, you need to make sure that you are in the right channels to be present at the (micro)moment when a customer decides they want to buy. And don’t be tied to existing channels that have traditionally worked for you. You need to be ready to take advantage of any new channels that emerge or to try ones that your business has traditionally avoided. Take the example of the ecommerce brands who are moving in-store, or the companies that have moved to a direct-to-consumer model.

However, it’s also key to make sure your marketing messaging and consumer experience is seamless no matter which channel a customer is shopping in.

6. Don’t ask your customers what they want

Collecting as much data as you can on your customers’ shopping habits, likes, and dislikes is a key way to help you understand them better, but it’s only ever going to be guesswork. If you want to really know what they think, then you need to ask them.

Send out a survey asking your best customers what they like or dislike about your brand, what they want to see more of, and what you should stop doing. Maybe you don’t provide enough delivery options, or maybe you have an excellent website and overall shopping experience, but your customers don’t want to sign in to have to buy your products. You’ll never know unless you ask, and this is crucial information in helping you boost the ROI of your marketing campaigns and drive sales.

7. Don’t have a clear brand identity

Consumers want to feel an emotional connection to the brands they are shopping with. Today, this is really the only differentiator you have a brand. You can’t compete on price or product selection, so you have to tell a story. A strong brand actually translates into increased sales, as companies that rank highest for emotional connection have experienced, on average, a 10.3% growth in revenue over the last ten years.

If you don’t have a “why”, and if you don’t have personality, then people won’t care about your brand. They will shop with you once when you have items they want on sale, but they won’t come back and become a loyal customer.

If you want to compete with Amazon, you need to make customers passionate about your product through a strong brand identity. This means you need to make sure that every piece of your marketing material and every communication with your customer, reflects your brand values.

8. Ignore the value of user-generated content

Who doesn’t love talking about (or sharing photos of) themselves? Millennials, for example, are expected to take 25,000 selfies in their lifetime. Your brand should take advantage of that!

If you want to make your brand stand out in the self-obsessed world we live in, then you need to start asking your customers to share their own photos, write their own reviews, and even write blog posts about your brand. Instead of using professional photography or models, turn to your best customers. By harnessing the power of user-generated content, you could see a 25% increase in the ecommerce conversion rate.

9. Focus on paid acquisition, not customer loyalty

Acquiring a new customer can be anywhere from five to 25 times more expensive than retaining an existing one. So why are you are putting all your efforts into creating the perfect Google ads to attract new customers, and ignoring your current (loyal) customers? There are many things you can do to keep your brand top of mind with your current customers, including:

  • Offering discounts
  • Sharing exclusive content for loyal customers
  • Organizing in-person events
  • Creating a loyalty program

And if a segment of your loyal customers has gone dark, try to re-engage them using a winback campaign instead of writing them off entirely.

10. Don’t sync up marketing and customer service

If a customer is interacting with your brand, they don’t care which department they’re talking to or which channel they are in — they just want the best service possible. They don’t want to have to repeat their problem six times to six different people, and they don’t want you to send them discount coupons for a product they have ordered but still not received.

That’s exactly why you need to sync up your marketing and customer service operations. Both departments need access to all the customer data so they can best market to customers or best resolve an issue — or vice versa. With clear communication, you can provide optimal customer experience.

Those are the top 10 mistakes ecommerce companies make, but there are many, many more that marketers make every day without even realizing. What do you think are the biggest mistakes ecommerce marketers are making at the moment?


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