How to Plan and Scale Your Ecommerce Advertising Strategy

ecommerce advertising

It is almost an automatic assumption that we will do most of our holiday shopping online this year. That’s because it’s never been easier to buy anything and everything online.

Ecommerce stores, ranging from giants like Amazon and Walmart to humble mom and pop shops, make it simple and convenient to find and purchase all sorts of goods and services from home.

It’s not just B2C, either. Ecommerce is the way businesses find new products and services, too — like B2B SaaS platforms that businesses can use for project management or sales deck sharing. It’s been over 25 years since eBay was founded, one of the foremost C2C marketplaces.

The internet has made buying and selling massively accessible and comfortably seamless, but with greater access comes greater competition. Breaking through the noise to reach your potential customers can be challenging.

With a strong ecommerce advertising strategy, ecommerce brands can engage their target audience at scale and expand their customer base.

In this article, we’ll break down what you need to know about ecommerce advertising and how to do it right for your ecommerce business.

What is ecommerce advertising?

Ecommerce advertising is the promotion of an ecommerce store, which is a business that sells its products or services online.

Ecommerce advertising can be performed across traditional and digital channels to drive increased awareness, traffic and direct sales. Traditional channels generally include offline placements like print, out-of-home (OOH) and TV. Online advertising for ecommerce includes digital channels like content marketing, paid search ads (SEM) and display ads.

Advertising an ecommerce site can be achieved through paid or organic methods, with paid media generally driving greater returns for a greater initial investment. However, organic advertising should not be overlooked — for example, the returns from establishing a strong search engine optimization (SEO) strategy can be great, letting your ecommerce site show up at the top of search rankings for free.

How to build successful ecommerce advertising strategies

To find success with your business, your ecommerce advertising strategies will need to fit your goals and your budget.

One of the biggest benefits to your advertising strategy as an ecommerce seller is that you primarily need to focus on driving traffic to your product pages or a landing page on your site — unlike the needs of a brick-and-mortar business that relies on bringing in actual foot traffic, convincing consumers to visit your website is a much easier task and is absolutely easier to scale.

So, to establish a winning ecommerce advertising strategy, you’ll need to be intentional about the ways you seek out new customers and retain existing ones.

  • DO prioritize SEO and your site’s UX
  • DO research where your audience is online
  • DO try out different digital channels to see where conversions are plentiful and then optimize
  • DON’T abandon non-converting customers who previously engaged (retarget them)
  • DON’T focus too much time/money on traditional channels when ecommerce conversions are more seamless online
  • DON’T be unrealistic with your budget or pigeonhole all your funds into one channel

Where to advertise ecommerce businesses

As our winning ecommerce strategy includes, you need to understand where your specific target audience is browsing online to know where to meet them with your ads. This can vary widely based on your niche and products, but, no matter your niche, there are plenty of paid and organic channels to consider when you’re getting started.

What organic channels are baseline necessities?

Google search

Plain and simple, the first thing that most consumers do when they’re searching for a product or service is perform a Google search. It is absolutely imperative that your ecommerce site is SEO-friendly, enabling higher rankings on Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) and helping consumers find your product online quickly and easily — all without buying their attention through an ad.

Content marketing

Closely related to organic search is content marketing, which entails the creation and sharing of content like blog posts, e-books and videos that are relevant to your customers and your industry. This content can play a significant role in boosting traffic to your site and increasing your customer base. It shows the value and knowledge your brand has to offer. Plus, it will help your site continue to rank high on Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) for important keywords that could lead potential customers to finding your online store before they find your competitors’ stores.

Social media

Before you put any cash towards targeted social ads, be sure to establish your brand on the various social media platforms where your customers are bound to be browsing daily. Unify all of your accounts with common imagery and post consistently to earn a loyal following. Social followers who trust your brand will not only be more likely to make future purchases from your ecommerce site, but they will also help amplify your voice when you share worthy content.

Email marketing

Capturing email addresses or other contact info is almost as important as making an initial sale. This is true because once you have the ability to contact a potential or existing customer, you can continue to retarget them with ads and keep them coming back. One example of an effective email marketing effort would be when an emailed ad shows a consumer the product they abandoned in their cart when they last visited your site.

What paid media channels and ad formats work best for ecommerce?

With digital marketing for ecommerce, it’s important to consider if you’re seeking awareness or volume/sales. Typically, the latter will be a greater priority, which makes some of the following paid media channels the best options for ecommerce advertising.

Paid Search Ads

Rankings high on search engines can be extremely hard to achieve, especially for ecommerce brands who may have a ton of competition in the market. That’s why SEM is a worthwhile investment — show up at the top of SERPs for the keywords that will bring you customers who are researching or ready to make a purchase.

Display Ads

One of the most common ad formats is digital display. These ads can be seen on many websites and can be effective for ecommerce brands with engaging creative. Adding contextual targeting to the mix means that your brand’s ads will be placed onto sites next to content that is relevant to your brand. One of the best ways to advertise on websites is to leverage direct publishers deals that offer 1st party data and various custom packages.

Paid Social Media Ads

Social Media Platforms are strong options for ecommerce brands due to the variety of ad formats and targeting parameters that brands can use to reach their audiences in highly visual, engaging ways. From simple images to dynamic carousel ads, ecommerce brands can find great success on social platforms.

Influencer Marketing

Leveraging popular influencers and affiliates is a common method of promoting an ecommerce business. It’s relatively simple to get set up on affiliate networks and establish brand partnerships with influencers who have a trusting audience that might already have an interest in products and services similar to what your brand is selling. Influencers bring the power and scale of their audiences directly to your product pages using custom links and creative that seem like natural personal referrals.

Best advertising platforms for ecommerce

Lastly, a few platforms are worth mentioning when it comes to ecommerce.

Google AdWords

AdWords is an obvious inclusion in this list. Google Shopping Ads are very useful for displaying your products at the top of search results when consumers are indicating a specific purchasing mindset.

Shopify

Though Shopify isn’t an advertising platform, it’s worth mentioning here. That’s because, as an ecommerce platform, it is incredibly beneficial for setting up your ecommerce advertising. It has features that will assist you in automatically populating ads with product images, titles and descriptions when you create ads on other ad platforms.

BriefBid

Across a range of digital channels and formats, working directly with publishers to run ads that target very specific audiences is a powerful way to reach your potential customers. BriefBid lets you plan your media spend across channels and RFP media vendors directly to receive custom proposals for your media needs. This makes it easy for ecommerce businesses of all sizes and budgets to discover new media offerings that fit their audience at any scale.

How to fund your ecommerce advertising strategy at scale

Understanding the financial health of your online store will provide a starting point for what sort of investment you can make right now toward advertising.

One important thing to remember is that, while most advertising costs money upfront, there can be a very positive, profitable return on that investment — if your strategy is effective for your business.

If you don’t have the capital needed to fund the ideal ad strategy that can truly scale up your customer base — and most small ecommerce companies don’t — you can still get help with making that initial investment that will pay off in the long run.

It’s not uncommon for ecommerce businesses to take out private loans or seek government grants in pursuit of a wider and/or longer term paid media strategy. However, grants can be very tough to earn and loans can be costly in repayment with hefty interest rates.

One of the best options for funding your ecommerce advertising strategy is to apply for help from Clearco.

Clearco’s unique revenue sharing model allows ecommerce companies to get funding for their ad strategies and avoid harsh interest rates, personal guarantees or lost equity. Beyond funding, ecommerce founders can also be connected with a huge network of trusted investors, VCs and other founders.

Start scaling your ecommerce advertising for huge growth

There are so many options out there when it comes to promoting your ecommerce business, attracting new customers and retaining existing customers. It won’t be a quick process finding the right ecommerce advertising strategy, but an omnichannel approach of paid media backed by a strong foundation of organic advertising is generally the best way to check all the boxes.

Planning your media spend with a tool like BriefBid’s media planning software can help you stay on track and open your business up to thousands of new media opportunities. And if you’re short on capital to really scale your ecommerce business, Clearco is a great option for getting funded without the long term worry.

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