The Essential Guide to Digital Marketing for E-Commerce Businesses

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Everything e-commerce businesses must know to build an effective digital marketing strategy that boosts sales and optimizes consumer behavior

Many e-commerce businesses struggle to build an effective marketing strategy that caters to their online storefronts and virtual customers. A little research, reflection, and organization can make a world of difference when developing a bountiful marketing plan. E-commerce marketing encompasses all tactics and strategies used to drive traffic, build awareness, and convert sales online.

Marketing is an ever-changing and continuously competitive environment for all industries. Those who research constantly and stay open to innovative ideas foster business growth and consistent revenue. Thus every online store must keep up with current trends and new technologies to stay afloat. E-commerce companies succeed by combining paid and organic strategies that produce the highest conversion rate and generate the maximum return on investment (ROI).

Set Goals and Objectives

A worksheet for setting smart marketing goals for an e-commerce store

Before moving forward with a full-fledged e-commerce marketing plan, store owners must establish specific goals and objectives. Digital marketing goals break down what a business aims to achieve within a particular time frame.

Using the acronym SMART can help to define goals. The acronym stands for specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound. With SMART goals, e-commerce businesses will find it easier to track results and remain progressive in their marketing strategies.

Identify the Target Audience

Digital marketing for e-commerce shops is most effective when the target audience is clearly defined. Identifying the age range, gender, location, and purchasing habits of the target audiences is critical in knowing who to market to and how to position products that bump up the conversion rate of any paid campaign.

Regardless of demographics, each type of audience requires a different form of marketing communication. While loyal customers crave organic connection, new potential customers need digital ads or influencer marketing to capture their interest. Every e-commerce business should identify the following types of purchasers when building its target audiences:

  • Loyal customers who have made purchases before
  • Potential customers looking for the available products
  • People who would become customers if they knew about the available products

Establish Branding

A man wearing a graphic tee that says, "this is my branding (clever right??)" for POLA Marketing Agency's Digital Marketing guide

Too often, e-commerce stores are so eager to start selling that they push branding aside, creating confusion for customers and damaging conversions. Prioritizing strong branding will prevent pressure points with brand recognition and loyalty. Most communication between e-commerce businesses and their customers takes place visually.

According to Wix, “The best e-commerce brands cultivate a consistent, repeatable, and reliable customer experience that makes their company appealing inside and out.” To accomplish this task, business owners must establish a clear and cohesive logo, color palette, type, and voice, thereby building a sturdy foundation for all future graphic elements in digital marketing. 

Graphics and Visual Content

E-commerce stores need graphics and visual content for every aspect of marketing, including product photos and Facebook ads. High-quality images and short-form videos take product descriptions to the next level. Attractive, well-designed graphics boost engagement on social media platforms, websites, and email blasts. Working with POLA Studios enables stores to produce consistent and high-quality product photos.

Organic Digital Marketing

While all digital marketing strategies demand time and effort, not all require budget spending. Optimizing website design, search engine optimization (SEO), email marketing, and social media can drive traffic to a website without spending on paid advertising.

Website Design

A functional and user-friendly e-commerce website is paramount for optimizing organic conversions and increasing average order value (AOV). Shoppers want the most convenient experience possible, or they will change their minds and click out. There are many components to consider when building a website for an online store. Some questions to ask include:

  • Is the website mobile-friendly and cross-browser compatible?
  • Are product descriptions as detailed as possible?
  • Is there a clear call-to-action (CTA) on the landing page?
  • Is it easy for customers to navigate from the landing page to the checkout?

Some e-commerce shops include an interface recommending similar or more expensive products at checkout to increase AOV.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

One of the most efficient ways to increase organic traffic to a website is through SEO. Capitalizing on Google’s search function, SEO keywords, backlinks, and technical codes can enable pages to appear at the top half of the search engine results page (SERP). Comprehensive SEO will help lead shoppers right to the online storefront that offers the products they want.

Competitive research is vital to succeeding in SEO. Analyzing the wording used among top-performing shops and creating a bank of keywords for product descriptions, alt text, and blog posts is advisable. Considering the target audience’s language when searching for the products will help develop an effective keyword bank. E-commerce stores must also frequently update websites with new content to rank highly. Updating product descriptions, publishing blog posts, and sharing customer reviews are great ways to refresh a website. Plus, the more content that lives on a website, the higher the ranking.

Email Marketing

Staying on top of communication and fostering new connections with purchasers is the biggest advantage of email marketing. E-commerce stores can construct personalized automation and schedule detailed newsletters through email platforms like Mailchimp, Hubspot, or ActiveCampaign. A thoroughly built email marketing strategy enables e-commerce businesses to put more energy into other areas of marketing. All e-commerce storefronts should utilize the following email tactics:

  • Welcome emails
  • Post-purchase follow-ups
  • Coupon codes and limited-time offers (LTO)
  • Customer Surveys
  • Wishlist retargeting or abandoned cart reminders
  • Newsletters

Social Media

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Social media is the perfect place for an e-commerce shop to build brand voice, credibility, and customer loyalty. Purchasers are more likely to buy from a brand they trust. As a result, organic engagement and user-generated content (UGC) build strong credibility for brands on social media.  

E-commerce companies do not need to be on every single platform. E-commerce shops can optimize efforts by prioritizing the platforms whose users match the demographics of their target audience. E-commerce businesses targeting audiences between the ages of 25 and 34 must prioritize social media in their marketing strategy — Millennials and Gen Z dominate the top social networks.


Known as the world’s largest social networking site, users boast that Meta’s Facebook is the best platform for connecting with family and friends, building communities around shared interests, and cultivating business-to-business (B2B) relationships.

Facebook allows e-commerce businesses to display products on their profile page through the platform’s new online shopping interface, Facebook Shops. Users between the ages of 35 to 44 are the second largest segment of Facebook’s audience worldwide. The platform’s primary age demographic and advanced ad platform, combined with its shopping interface, can elevate sales rates significantly.


Meta also owns Instagram, which allows e-commerce accounts to sync content and product listings between Facebook and Instagram. Hosting some of the most visually pleasing content among all social media platforms, Instagram is popular among younger audiences (18 to 35 years old) looking for inspiration. The platform has also been steadily favoring short-form video content, allowing e-commerce shops to post customer reviews and short video clips of models wearing or using the products.


On Twitter, users can post quick updates, share opinions, and communicate one-on-one through short posts called tweets. In addition to the primary age demographic, users between 35 and 49 favor Twitter. Many e-commerce businesses use Twitter to respond to customer inquiries or to offer customer service because of its quick response culture.


Setting itself apart from other networks, LinkedIn is a professional outlet for businesses to hire employees or connect with other companies. E-commerce shops find the platform helpful for learning from successful business owners and building new connections.


Since its conception in 2005, YouTube has become the world’s largest video platform and second-largest search engine after Google. In addition to video content, YouTube has a large influencer community. E-commerce businesses can work with influencers to produce authentic product reviews and affiliate programs for creators. Users between the ages of 35 and 44 utilize the platform most, behind social media’s primary age demographic of 25 to 34.


TikTok is a hot topic among marketers and e-commerce stores due to its rapid growth and ability to make anyone go viral online. The network allows users to consume and easily share short-form video content. Although TikTok primarily hosts audiences between ages 25 and 34, it is becoming increasingly popular among younger audiences between 13 and 24.

Thanks to trending audio and entertaining content, the app is known for being highly addictive, engaging, and influential. As a result, TikTok is a lucrative way for e-commerce stores to go viral, causing potential sellouts overnight.

Paid Digital Marketing

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Organic marketing takes time to curate, and for more immediate conversions, paid digital marketing is an avenue worth exploring. Paid marketing allows e-commerce advertisers to position their online stores in front of customers with favorable purchasing habits. Using pay-per-click (PPC), social media advertising, and influencer marketing in conjunction with organic marketing strategies will increase reach and conversion rates.

Google Pay-Per-Click (PPC) Ads

When building ads on Google, the platform doesn’t charge advertisers until someone clicks on the ad — this sets PPC apart from other platforms like Meta and TikTok. Google offers several different outlets for advertising, including shopping, text, and display ads. E-commerce stores can drive traffic to their sites by utilizing product-specific shopping ads. Additionally, including SEO keywords in PPC ads is mutually beneficial for organic and paid search results.

Social Media Ads

Not only is social media a powerful organic tool for e-commerce businesses, it is also effective in the realm of digital ads. With many platforms, placements, and formats to choose from, social media advertising has quickly become a preferred tactic among e-commerce stores.

Meta Ads

Meta ads are finely targeted and highly effective thanks to Facebook’s user base of over 2.5 billion people. Advertisers can place ads across several platforms, including Facebook, Instagram, Messenger, and Audience Network.


TikTok has surpassed Google and Facebook as the world’s most popular web domain. Compared to other digital ads, TikTok ads are affordable and easy to build, plus users are more likely to engage.


Pinterest is growing increasingly popular among e-commerce stores as a way to drive traffic to online storefronts. Stores can highlight product features and provide styling examples that prompt customers to make a purchase.

Influencer Marketing

Individuals naturally value the opinions of people they trust. Influencers are online personalities with significant power over their audiences’ purchasing habits. Many companies hire influencers to increase brand awareness, gain trust, and build credibility for their brand. Most influencers promote sponsored content through blog posts, YouTube videos, or dedicated posts on social media. E-commerce store owners need to ensure that the influencer’s following aligns with the target audience to maximize conversions and ROI.

E-Commerce Analytics

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Thorough analytics must always guide marketing campaigns to optimize efficiency. For e-commerce stores, conversion rates are the most valuable statistic. Measuring brand awareness and conversions and tracking the progress of key performance indicators (KPIs) will help e-commerce stores reach sales goals and objectives. Analytics will advance a marketing strategy as long as data is collected, refined, and assessed precisely.

Call in a Professional

POLA Marketing’s data-driven methods can relieve e-commerce business owners from the time-consuming work of building a marketing strategy. Our team can create an individualized approach that increases the customer experience and online sales for the furtherance of any e-commerce store.

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