Great marketing campaigns emanate from a solid initial strategy. As Benjamin Franklin once said:
“Failure to plan is planning to fail”
So in this post we will show you how to create a killer ecommerce marketing plan to drive your ecommerce business ahead of your competitors.
In order to give some context to each section, I’ll be giving you excerpts from the marketing strategy for a fictitious ecommerce company in the fashion industry called ‘Danakil’.
Setting your marketing goal(s)
To begin we shall start with the end (sort of). It’s much easier to work towards something if you know exactly what you’re trying to work towards. Therefore we need to create an intermediate set of goals, intermediate because as we meet our targets and/or when the goalposts change our goals with inevitably change as well.
Always remember that the focus here is to answer the questions:
What are we looking to achieve?
How will we know when we’ve achieved it?
To do this we must set definable and measurable goals that make it very clear if we have or have not achieved something. The goals you set will be based on past performance and your overall business strategy. Try to make them attainable but stretch targets.
Goals - Danakil
Boost monthly revenues by 15% over the course of 3 months from Mar 1st - May 31st by:
Target market / personas
An essential part of any form of marketing is figuring out who you are targeting. Many of you will likely have this figured out already, however It’s good practice to always keep it in your plan to continually remind yourself of who you’re aiming for.
Try covering a general target market and then go one step further and outline the most important personas or subgroups of your target market. It’s highly likely that these subgroups will have different behaviours and interests and therefore should be marketed to in a different way and through different channels.
Target market - Danakil
25-35 year old males living in major UK cities who are fashion forward with high disposable incomes.
Young professional Peter
27 year old young professional in banking working long hours. He balances work and pleasure by travelling a lot and socialising with friends to get away from it all. Bored of the daily grind and craves a more adventurous lifestyle. Willing to pay good money to project the image of a successful and ‘cool’ person.
33 year old business owner with a large disposable income. Lives a hectic lifestyle but also gets a lot of holiday and time off during the week. He’s single and has always prioritised work over socialising. Doesn’t have the time to shop around the high street but still wants to look cool. Uses American Express and is willing to pay good money for key fashion pieces.
26 year old with a lot of family money and no permanent job. Tends to do one off work for friends in areas such as events. Spends a lot of time shopping online and in stores, prides himself on knowing what are the ‘cool’ brands to buy. Tries to stay ahead of the trends. Buys clothes to be fashionable and trendy.
This is just a brief example to get you started; you can go into a lot of depth on personas and target market. It’s definitely worth the time investment, so here’s some further reading if you want to dig deeper:
Marketing personas: the compete beginner's guide (from the Buffer blog)
Whiteboard Friday - Creating Marketing Personas (from the Moz blog)
How To Create Customer Personas With Actual, Real Life Data (from ConversionXL)
How to Create a Marketing Persona for Your Business (from the Marketo blog)
Where do they hang out?
Another vital factor that will help form your acquisition strategy is knowing exactly where your target market and more specifically personas hang out. What blogs, newspapers, magazines, events, apps, shops, tv channels do they use/go to? Where do they go outside of work? Where do they like to go for lunch?
You can go on and on but the clearer the picture you have, the more targeted and therefore effective your marketing campaigns will be. One easy way to keep track of this is to make a list; for example:
Which individuals can influence your target market's behaviour? Who do they look to for advice or follow because they are funny are cool? Who are their mentors?
These are the people you will want to build relationships with so you can potentially team up to do some marketing and leverage their relevant following as a marketing channel. Again an effective way of managing this is in a spreadsheet structured like the example below.
Apps that can help your search with both influencer mapping and where your target market hangs out:
How are you going to get new visitors to your site? I typically split attraction campaigns into two separate areas - ongoing channels and one-off campaigns.
Ongoing - This covers ecommerce marketing channels you are repeatedly using to market your products, such as Adwords or automated email recommendations. You will optimise the copy and targeting over time and test new ideas out but typically they all revolve around a similar theme.
On-off - These campaigns last a set period of time and are typically run over numerous channels using the same message. They are specifically designed to achieve specific goals - such as increasing new customer acquisition or driving engagement by hitting people from numerous touch points over a relatively short period of time. An example of when you would use such a campaign would be something such as a new product launch, a sale or a big competition you are running.
Unless you are starting out you should already have a set of channels you currently invest in on a monthly basis for acquisition. When completing your plan you should use a spreadsheet to list out your forecasted traffic, conversion rate, # customers acquired, the cost per customer acquisition (based on historic data) and the designated budget.
After the campaign has been completed you can compare your actual spend and acquisition to your forecasted numbers. Your acquisition plan should be built around the goals you’ve set for the month. Tinker with your plan to try so that it becomes feasible for you to hit your numbers. This may mean taking into account optimisation through testing new targeting settings or exploring new channels to see if they drive profitable acquisition.
If you’re running more complex marketing that drives lead generation through email or social signup as a potential step before customer acquisition, then take this into account in your spreadsheet and add in some extra fields. It’s very useful to determine a semi-accurate figure for converting leads into customers along with an average timeframe. This way you know how valuable a lead is which allows you to budget far more effectively.
When planning one off campaigns you want to focus on channels, budget and timings. This way you know exactly what channels are part of the campaign, when you will be advertising through them and how your marketing budget is split between them. It’s also very good practice to try and forecast how your success metrics will perform for each individual channel so you have an idea about how well each channel actually performed. This can help you optimise your marketing mix in the future for similar campaigns.
Example - Danakil new collection campaign
The conversion plan focuses on the customer journey. It’s where you test potential improvements to the UI/UX and on-site marketing campaigns to improve conversion of a specific goal.
This may be conversion of new visitors into customers, or increased conversion of visitors into leads on a specific page etc. It’s best to get quite specific and focus on the areas that have the biggest potential to actually impact your bottom line.
You’ve already outlined what you want to focus on here in your goals for the campaign so all there’s left to do is to outline exactly how you propose to achieve that. This will be quite custom based on what you're focusing on improving
Also be aware that this section will almost definitely involve testing a few ideas out, you’re not likely to get it right first time so just keep on iterating until you nail it.
Example - Improve new visitor CR to 2 per cent
Over 70 per cent of new visitors arrive on either the homepage or category pages. We will focus our efforts on optimising the conversion of these pages through to product pages as the drop off is very high in comparison to the conversion from product page to add to basket which is performing very well.
In the final section I outline the general plan for keeping our current customer base happy to stop them churning and to incentivise them to keep on coming back, spending more, more often by marketing to them in an appealing way. You will include both normal monthly retention campaigns and new concepts, channels you are trying out.
Typically this will revolve around remarketing, custom audiences on social and email of course. I lay this out similar to my acquisition plan with ongoing and one off campaigns the only difference being the channels I focus on. You should typically treat this section as important as or even more important than acquisition. Your current customers are at the heart of your business.
Your success metrics help you to measure the overall success of your campaign, information you can use to improve your next marketing plan. These metrics should be very closely related to your initial goals.
Example - Danakil success metrics
Good luck in your quest to achieve ecommerce marketing supremecy! If you have any questions at all, fire away in the comments section below.