Digital Marketing Basics for eCommerce and Beyond

If you’re an independent entrepreneur with an eCommerce business or online store, you’ve probably participated in some aspect of digital marketing. Maybe you’ve posted about your products on social media. You might have sent your customers a welcome email. Or maybe you’ve even purchased an ad through Google. If so, you’ve already been working in the world of digital marketing, even if you weren’t directly aware of it as a concept.

Simply put, digital marketing refers to any advertising channel that uses digital media such as email, search engines and social media. Anything that you do online—or even by text message—that helps connect customers to your product or business is digital marketing.

If you’re interested in learning more about digital marketing and how it can help grow your business, keep reading! We’re about to dive into some of the fundamentals of digital marketing, different types of digital marketing, and some important notes about creating a thoughtful digital marketing strategy.

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Some digital marketing fundamentals

If you’re wondering if a digital marketing strategy is even necessary for your business, this statistic might sway you: the Pew Research Center found that 85% of adults in the United States are online daily and 31 percent report being “online constantly.” If you run an eCommerce business, you likely know all about the opportunities present in the digital space, and digital marketing can allow you to connect with nearly all adults across North America, along with potential customers around the world.

A key difference between traditional and digital marketing is that customers can’t interact with a billboard or print ad in the same way that they can interact with an email, an Instagram post, or a clickable ad. Your potential customers can connect with you through digital marketing. This is so important in today’s world, where people are spending more time in front of screens than ever before. Effective digital marketing strategies will entice customers into clicking—thereby diverting them off the digital highway and directly into your store.

Different types of digital marketing

Your digital marketing strategy may include several platforms for small businesses. Or you might decide to concentrate all of your efforts on one platform. As the web changes constantly, digital marketing should adapt to meet the changing needs of eCommerce businesses. If you’ve just started your business, it might make more sense to place an emphasis on building a customer base through social media marketing. You might consider email marketing to keep your customers engaged once you’ve built a loyal customer base.

Below, we’ve compiled a list of some of the most common forms of digital marketing, which you can mix and match to build the perfect digital marketing strategy.

Search Engine Optimization, (SEO).While SEO isn’t a form of digital advertising, it is useful for other digital marketing strategies. SEO refers to making sure your website appears as soon as possible among the results of a search engine.

To do this, you’ll need to research which keywords are popular in your business area. For example, an eCommerce business selling art should be sure to include key terms like “wall art” and “unique art.” By filling your site with those key terms, you’ll appear more often in search results and attract more visitors.

Social Media MarketingThis is one of most widely used digital marketing methods. Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Twitter are three of the most widely used social media channels. It is an excellent way to create a social media account for your eCommerce company. You can use it to build your brand identity, promote specific products and increase traffic to your site.

If you don’t have the capacity or need to establish social media accounts, you can still use social media marketing by creating an advertisement and putting it on the screens of various targeted demographics.

Email Marketing,This is email marketing as it sounds. Although social media marketing is now commonplace, email marketing remains one of the best ways to retain customers. However, email and social media should not be seen as competitors but rather partners. Advertisements and social media pages can be used to encourage customers to register to receive marketing email. Once they’ve done that, you can email personalized deals, product information, and any other promotional material.

Content marketingThis includes blogs, newsletters and informational videos. As opposed to an ad which highlights the key features of your product or brand, content marketing creates a connection between you and a customer that is closer to a partnership—ideally one in which you are providing information and helpful tools, rather than just trying to make a sale. Even though it is difficult to execute correctly, you can use content marketing to build trust with your customers.

Search Engine MarketingThis refers to visitors clicking on the website from search engines results. SEO is essential as potential customers will not look beyond the first page. You can pay for your website to appear at the top search result page as an advertised or sponsored link.

Pay-Per-ClickA form of digital advertising in which the ad is only paid for when clicked on. Your pay-per-click ad could be on a search engine results page, on social media, or on another site frequented by a customer-base you’d like to engage.

Affiliate MarketingPartnering with other people to help promote your product or brand is possible. These promotions could take the form of social media posts, blog write-ups, or pathways from another business’ site to yours.

How to create a digital marketing plan

As we’ve said above, digital marketing comes in a variety of forms, and different aspects can be leveraged by businesses at any stage of growth and with any size budget. It is important to determine which digital channels will work best for you business.

For small businesses without a lot of marketing budget, a basic strategy in digital marketing might be to use the most cost-effective marketing tools such as blogs and social media. Social media profiles are free to create, and the sky’s the limit no matter the size of your business. Establishing an account with great images and a strong sense of your business’ brand can quickly lead to a sizable online following.

You can use low-cost content marketing strategies once you have followers. Blog posts can be published on your website. You can share them with your followers via social media. This is an excellent way to increase interest in your brand, and to drive traffic to the website.

Your digital marketing budget and business will grow. As such, you can focus on search engine advertising or paid social media advertisement. Email marketing becomes even more crucial as there is a wider audience. To automate your marketing efforts, you can purchase an email service such as Constant Contact or MailChimp, or search for affiliates to ensure that your platform has these services.

If you aren’t sure how best to approach establishing your own digital marketing strategy, it never hurts to study the competition. Look at the businesses that are already in your area. How are their strategies? You can play the role of the customer and find out if they are using digital marketing platforms or tools that are not yours.

Finally, don’t forget to study your own metrics. As you implement various digital marketing strategies, you’ll begin to receive valuable information about what’s working and what isn’t. Is your website the most popular way for customers to find you through search engines? What platform do your pay per click advertisements get the greatest interaction on? What social media posts receive the highest number of likes? By engaging with this data, you’ll be able to tweak your digital marketing strategy and ensure that you are focusing your efforts on only the types of digital marketing that perform the best.

Services for digital marketing

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the possibilities and challenges present in the world of digital marketing. Without the ability to create your own digital marketing campaigns, managing a business and creating a product is difficult enough. If you feel like you’d rather hire someone to manage this aspect of your business, you aren’t alone, and there are many digital marketing services out there who would be glad to help you achieve your goals. 

If this is the route you choose to take, be sure to research previous successes of the service you’re interested in and industry-standard rates for the kind of marketing your business needs.

We’re here to help

If you’re looking for a platform that can host your business and seamlessly link your digital marketing efforts together, Small Biz Sense may be able to help. As a one-stop commerce solution, we’re igniting businesses everywhere with products that range from POS to omnichannel eCommerce and beyond. A robust set of resources is available for entrepreneurs to support them at each step. If you’d like to speak to someone about how Small Biz Sense might revolutionize your business, simply click here. 

Cyndy Lane

Cyndy is business journalist with a focus on entrepreneurship and small business. With over a decade of experience covering the startup and small business landscape, Cyndy has a reputation for being a knowledgeable, insightful and approachable journalist. She has a keen understanding of the challenges and opportunities facing small business owners and is able to explain them in a way that is relatable and actionable for her readers.