A Guide to Building Your Own Ecommerce Marketing Plan

Posted in Resources 5 minute read

Business growth requires effort and investment. In ecommerce, the best marketing plan is the one that attracts new customers, increases conversions and ultimately, grows your business.

With that in mind, you need a marketing plan that you can stick to, which will drive tangible results. Don’t worry – this is where the guide steps in. We’ll take you step-by-step through the process of building a solid marketing plan that produces reliable, measurable results that take your ecommerce business from the garden shed start-up to the shopping centre staple.

Nail your strategy

A marketing plan has to follow your strategy – but actually putting that down on paper may be more complicated than you’d expect. Rather than a strategy that’s simply ‘sell more products’, you need to define a clear outline of how you’ll attain results. To do that, follow the following steps:

  1. Define your core Unique Selling Points (USPs) – what is it that makes your brand unique? Do you offer a product no-one else does? Do you have access to a service no competitor is offering? You need to know what makes you different so you can market accurately to customers.
  2. Outline your customer types – chances are, you’ll have multiple ‘types’ of customer – this could be as simple as male and female customers for a fashion shop. Taking this further, you should outline rough customer ‘personas’ – how old are they, what motivates them + how does your business help them?
  3. What resources do you have? – list out employees, their strengths and backgrounds, any paid subscriptions you have, networks you’re a part of and more. Essentially, anything that you think may help your marketing efforts.
  4. Top priorities for growth – what areas are you looking to grow? Try not to be too broad and focus on specific products you want to push or services you want to sell. Going too broad can mean you spread yourself too thin.

Assess competitors

Your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses should directly influence your goals and tactics – as you’ll be able to spot opportunities even from a cursory level of competitor research. What’s the best way to go about this? It’s simple:

  1. To get started, note down your top three competitors. If you don’t know who they are, try a tool such as similarweb.com and put in your own web address or a larger-scale competitor.
  2. Look through each competitor’s website. You don’t need to be an expert here – just look at what they’re doing, how their site is structured and how it ‘feels’ to use. Pay close attention to:
    1. Do they have well-categorised products?
    2. What kind of filters do they use to browse through products?
    3. How does navigation work on-site?
    4. What on-site marketing happens during a session? Do they use pop-up alerts, live chat notifications etc.?
    5. How does their checkout process work? What level of data capture happens when you complete a purchase and which payment systems do they use?
  3. Visit each competitor’s social media channels to assess what they’re posting, howregularly they’re posting and what sort of content they post.

Outline trackable goals

Goals without metrics to measure them are essentially useless. They may seem like a way to motivate yourself, but you need KPIs to track your goals against – otherwise how will you know if you’re heading in the right direction?

Create a list of goals which have KPIs against them that can be tracked and measured. For example, if you set three goals, you could have:

Goal 1: Increased conversions on site
KPIs: 100 + checkout completions each month
Goal 2: Increased ROI from paid advertising
KPIs: RoAS improved by 10%
Goal 3: Raise brand awareness in new territories
KPIs: Increase web traffic in the new region by 30%

By assigning KPIs to track your goals, you’re giving yourself, your employees and any freelancers you work with something tangible to aim towards and be measured against – this is where you’ll start to see growth.

Determine your approach

Marketing is a field both broad and varied. Some businesses spread themselves thin, trying to be ‘present’ everywhere without doing enough to achieve results elsewhere.

Instead, focus on key areas where you can ensure your attention drives results. For example, instead of trying to be present on every social channel you own/want to own – why not spend a month focusing entirely on Facebook.

To get this done, create a list of your main channels and what your priorities are. It could look something like this:

Whatever you decide, ensure you’ve listed each channel you’ll use and then map these to the goals you outlined above.

Create an acquisition model

An acquisition model allows you to map the impact of your activities against goals in a measurable way. It may sound complex, but all you need to do is use any existing data to show which channels are best for your brand.

For example, a one month model where you’ve set your goals as being traffic and conversions would involve logging into your Analytics and ad accounts to pull data relevant to those goals; you could visualise the data on a table or graph such as the following:

Channel Tactics Audience
Facebook Paid advertising, 3 x organic posts a week Millennial buyers
Google
Shopping
Work with a paid shopping freelancer to boost
product sales
All shoppers
Email
marketing
One newsletter per month + new product
promos
Older buyers
Acquisition
Method
Total spend Approx
impressions
Clicks Transactions
Social media £1000 9000 2000 50
Email marketing £200 800 450 200
Google
shopping
£2000 10,000 370 160
Once created, this model allows you to see at-a-glance which methods are successful for you and how you might model future growth. For example, if email marketing is already successful, you can safely increase your budget and expect to see better results. If you’re spending a lot of money on Google advertising and it’s not driving much return, you’ll be able to factor that into your marketing plan.

Create the marketing plan

Using all of the above information, create a document that outlines your marketing plan. It should list:

  1. Your strategy & users
  2. Your marketing methods/areas of focus
  3. Your goals & KPIs
  4. Acquisition model – which you’ll use to help shape your future approach

Using this information, create a month-by-month map of your business marketing activity which includes the above information. This document’s actual set-up will depend on your business, but it’s generally best to use a cloud-hosted table such as Google Sheets. A format could look as follows:
January Marketing Plan
Of course, knowing how to create a marketing plan and having experience in creating effective, results-driven plans are two different things. Work with our team of freelance marketing experts today, and we can help take your ecommerce store through a far more trackable, well-planned and successful year. Get in touch to find out more.
Method Activity Spend Revenue (or
any other goal
you’ve set)
Clicks (or any
other goal)
Facebook
marketing
Paid ads,
organic posting
1000 xxx xxx

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