What does putting together the marketing strategy for 2019 look like for your business? Maybe you sit at a cafe and scribble your thoughts on the back of a napkin, or maybe it involves a whiteboard, snacks and a good old-fashioned brainstorm? Perhaps you first conduct a comprehensive review of 2018 before carefully setting goals and developing an action plan.
Whether you use one, none, or all three of these approaches, one essential step in your process should (hopefully) be research.
Research is essential because ‘marketing” as a whole is constantly evolving and adopting the latest martech-innovation or trying out a new technique might very well be the key to attracting and converting more customers.
But for retailers and ecommerce businesses, keeping abreast of what’s changed, what new technologies are out there, and what your competitors are doing could very well become a full-time job.
That’s where we come in. In this article, we’ve made a list of the the top ecommerce marketing trends, tools and tactics for 2019 that might find their place in your strategy.
The top ecommerce marketing trends, tools and tactics for 2019:
1. Social: Stories Will Take Over the Newsfeed
When I open up my trusty Instagram app I no longer browse the feed first, I head straight to stories. It’s only once I’ve just about exhausted all of the stories that I alternate back to the feed.
That’s because stories are addictive. The interactive, intimate glimpses they give us into other peoples’ lives deliver a powerful dose of dopamine. And in the never-ending way that they just keep on coming, users need not search any further for another hit.
I’m not the only one who’s big into stories. Mark Zuckerberg himself sees stories as the future of Facebook too, echoing this sentiment in Facebook’s third quarter 2018 earnings call:
All of the trends that we've seen suggest that in the not-too-distant future, people will be sharing more into Stories than they will into feeds. And that the whole market across all of the Stories type of product will be bigger and a market where people are sharing more moments from their days into Stories type products than into Feed type products.
This is why, in 2019, Instagram and Facebook stories will become one of the most valuable platforms for cultivating an audience - whether it’s to build an engaged community or to sell products. Shoppable instagram stories make it even easier to sell directly from your stories, giving you the ability to tag each item in the story that is for sale, working really well for retailers that sell fashion, beauty and homewares.
Our penchant for watching others in-the-moment IRL (in-real life) is also evident in a crop of newer social media platforms that have emerged recently, like Twitch. Twitch lets users watch other gamers play video games like Minecraft and Fortnite in real time. If this is your target market, or you’re selling computers or electronics, then reaching consumers through paid ads on these platforms could be worthwhile.
Of course, always be aware of who your audience is and how they prefer to interact. Instagram is made up of mostly millennials, while a lot of the baby boomers still favor Facebook. So do your research and tailor your efforts to the social networks your audience are actually on.
In terms of your profile pages, it’s important to note that it’s actually non-customers who are more likely to check them; three times more likely according to Adobe. Whether that’s to check out your reviews, find your address, or view your product images, ensure your profiles are primed, always up-to-date and ready to sell.
2. Advertising on Marketplaces
One of Neto CEO Ryan Murtagh’s predictions for how ecommerce will change in 2019 is that online marketplaces like Amazon and eBay will continue to rise to the top of online retail.
More sellers, more shoppers, more sales.
But as the number of sellers swells, so does competition and the need to differentiate.
One thing to try this year to get more eyeballs on the products you list on marketplaces is paid advertising on marketplaces themselves. Although there are plenty of marketplaces out there to sell and advertise on, here we’ll just touch on Amazon and eBay.
Paid ads on Amazon are called ‘Sponsored ads’ and work much the same as Google ads, on a Pay Per Click (PPC) basis. You only pay for the ad once a shopper actually clicks on it to view your listing. There are a number of different places that your ad can appear - natively in the search results, on product pages, headline ads at the top of the SERP, and also in newsletters and off-site.
eBay’s ads are called ‘Promoted Listings’ and they work a bit differently: you only pay if a buyer clicks on your ad and purchases from you within 30 days.
With both platforms you get access to detailed analytics so that you can continue to tweak and improve your ROI.
Don’t forget to work on your organic tactics on marketplaces too. Optimize your listings for keywords, your images as per each platform’s specifications and your bullet points and product descriptions. There’s little point in dropping cash on paid ads if there’s room to improve your rankings in the SERP.
3. More Video, More Easily
This is a serious chunk of your potential customers’ time!
In 2018, there were still many retailers not taking advantage of this seriously valuable tool. Video helps communicate a message must faster than text, conveys emotion more easily, and explains a product much more effectively. The proof is in the pudding with this medium, from video we see:
- A 157% increase in organic traffic from SERPs
- A 64-85% increase in conversion rates for product videos
And with so many cost effective, easy-to-use tools out there that will create beautiful, interactive videos for you, in 2019 there are really no excuses for not using video as part of your content marketing strategy. The good news is that video can be used almost anywhere.
Why not try:
- Product videos to showcase your product from 360 degrees
- Personalised video email messages (this one is great for higher value products, with longer sales-cycles).
- Instagram story social ads - swipe up!
- A tutorial or how-to series on YouTube
- Behind the scenes live videos or meet the team organic social posts
- 360 degree videos
Want to get started with YouTube marketing? Check out our beginners guide to YouTube.
4. Think Mobile First for Digital and SEO
Mobile is no longer ‘new’. We know we need to have mobile-optimized websites, that they need to be fast, and that shoppers browsing for products on their mobiles and tablets are often ready to buy.
In the Neto State of Ecommerce Report Google reported that searches for ‘where to buy (product)’ have increased by 85% over the last two years.
This is conjunction with a 22.9% rise in retail spending via mobile, according to a study by Adobe Analytics, which also showed a 21% increase in overall smartphone visits in 2018. Desktop visits, on the other hand, decreased by 21%.
Interestingly, the study also found that digital marketers only increased their spend by 4.65% over the same period, which means that there’s a big opportunity here for retailers and ecommerce sellers to target buyers with digital ads when they’re most interested.
So if you’re not already using mobile search ads, this is one to get stuck into in 2019.
However, as the cost of digital ads increases, using organic channels like SEO will be more important than ever to reach new customers, particularly for SMEs with tighter budgets.
Mez Homayunfard, Co-Founder of leading digital agency Online Marketing Gurus, reiterates just how important mobile will be for SEO in 2019:
‘Mobile is the big thing in the current search environment. In the United States, over 70% of internet usage occurs on mobile devices. And over 57% of your search traffic comes from mobile devices. This means even small to medium businesses need to have a mobile-first website as not only are more users using mobile devices then ever when searching, but Google is also moving towards a mobile first index…’
For ecommerce business, this has a number of implications:
‘Ecommerce businesses should ensure that when they are designing their category and page templates that they not only consider content length (which as of 2018 is shown to have a statistically confident relationship to search engine ranking, with longer content being favoured by Google) but also how this content will sit on a mobile device and how this will effect conversions.
Business owners should also be conscious of how they can use user generated content to help kick goals not only on mobile but for SEO as well. User generated content typically renders well on mobile as opposed to plain text, but also helps build SEO and drive conversions (conversions on mobile devices are typically half that of desktop devices).’
Hopefully, your site is already mobile-optimized, so the next step is to start thinking about your SEO in terms of mobile, which means considering limited attention spans, smaller screens and how you can utilise user generated content like testimonials and product reviews.
5. Voice Search
Another key trend for ecommerce that was mentioned in the article by Ryan Murtagh was AI powered voice search - how will smart speakers like Amazon Alexa and Google Home impact the way consumers browse the internet, look for answers, and buy? And what impact will this have on marketing and SEO?
Mez Homayunfard confirms that voice search is becoming more relevant than ever:
We must only look so far as the recent Google inquest in congress in the USA, where Google's CEO Sundar Pichai said
And just as fact, every single day 15% of the searches Google sees, we have never seen them before.
Long tail searches (3-4 queries long like "best high heel shoes online") not only make up the majority of searches but also have the highest conversion intention. More conversational, long term searches lend themselves towards voice-based searches. Voice based queries are typically:
- More specific
- Mention 2-3 times more keywords than conventional text based searches
Google’s Algorithm is now presenting more knowledge graph results than ever before (those knowledge answer boxes you see on page 1 of Google) and this again is a major push for a voice-focused SEO strategy.’
To get started with your voice search strategy, Mez recommends a couple of cool tools to help you get an insight into what people are searching and crafting your text from there.
- Uber Suggest to find relevant search examples
- Keywordtool - looks at historical searches but also "suggested searches" from Google.
6. Data Driven Influencer Marketing
Influencers are nothing new, really. We’ve had celebrities, sports stars and public figures spruiking products since the beginning of time, heck, even American president Ronald Reagan was giving cigarettes to all of his friends for Christmas according to this influencer post.
But influencer marketing as it stands today is a little different.
We now operate in a world of fake followers, bots, and consumers that are savvier than ever. They know when they are being sold to. But it still works. Influencer marketing in 2019 will be more about data and transparency according to Danielle Lewis, CEO and Co-Founder of influencer marketing platform, Scrunch.
‘Influencer Marketing has evolved rapidly over the last 12 months, and marketers won't be able to spray and pray their influencer efforts anymore. Key challenges in the industry like audience insights, fake followers and ROI measurement have been solved by technology leaders like Scrunch. So there's no excuse anymore to do sh*t Influencer Marketing anymore.
In 2019 good marketers will be putting the audience first and optimizing their campaigns like a true marketing channel. It's exciting and we can't wait to see more Influencer Marketing success this year.’
As an example, often influencers with smaller followings, or micro-influencers as they’re known (less than 20,000 followers) have better engagement than those with hundreds of thousands or millions of followers. In the same vein, while you might think that a fit, female influencer is perfect fit to promote your female active-wear, you might be surprised to find out that she actually has more men following her than women.
This is why it’s vital to have the data you need to make good decisions that are right for your business.
| Related Reading: Everything You Need to Know About Influencer Marketing for Your Online Store
7. Omni-Channel, Not Multi-Channel Marketing
Potential customers will stalk you on social, they’ll check out your reviews, they might visit your website and subscribe to your email list, compare prices with your marketplace listings, and if you have a bricks and mortar location, they might visit you in store too. To add even more complexity to the customer journey, they could also use a combination of devices - laptop, desktop, tablet, mobile.
In 2019, it will be more important than ever to deliver a consistent, cohesive customer experience across every channel and device with omni-channel marketing.
There’s an important distinction that must be made between multi-channel and omni-channel. Multi-channel means that you might be utilizing all of the channels - ‘doing marketing’ on your website, twitter, Instagram, in-store, but the channels aren’t necessarily working in unison.
Omni-channel marketing on the other hand, is building a brand experience that aligns and integrates messaging, design, and goals across every touch point.
There are many ways that you can do this.
Utilize retargeting ads to follow your customer around the web. Research shows that a customer is much more likely to buy from you on the third or fourth time they interact with your brand, so keeping at the top of their mind with pesky-but-effective display ads can really boost conversions.
If they subscribe to your email list, don’t just send a first order discount, follow up with different offers or curated edits, and mirror these across your social channels.
| Related Reading: How to Personalize Your Marketing Across Email and Social
For example, this welcome email from Frank + Oak is paired with a Facebook add with similar messaging.
If you’re looking for some awesome examples of omni-channel marketing, check out this post by Hubspot.
8. Single View of the Customer
Any good omni-channel marketing strategy requires a platform that can provide a single-view of the customer, not matter which channel they’ve interacted with you on. This is also at the heart of any good customer success strategy.
A recent IHL/NCR study found that a single view approach to customers can lead to a 2.1 times increase in sales and a single order management system can lead to a sales increase of 15%.
This is because getting a single view of your customers helps you understand the journey they’ve been on and tailor your tactics accordingly. How many times have they bought from you? What did they buy? Have they had any interactions with your customer service team? Which channels have they visited you on?
Retail and ecommerce platforms like Neto help you to unify your commerce and see your customer from every angle, which in turn, helps you craft a better omni-channel marketing strategy and makes things like returning an item bought online, in-store, a seamless process.
9. Packaging – Pretty, Personal, Eco-Friendly
The unofficial 5th ‘p’ of marketing, your product’s packaging is what communicates your value proposition, the quality and identity of your brand to a customer in an instant. Your packaging needs to reflect who you are, who you want to be and who you’re selling to and there are a number of ways to take advantage of this in 2019.
As one of the final steps in the online shopping journey, don’t underestimate the role of your product’s packaging in creating an awesome customer experience, or a ‘wow’ moment.
Recently, I splashed out on a pricey silk button-up shirt. Granted, I bought it in the Black Friday sales so I got a nice little discount, but it still cost me substantially more than I’d usually spend on this type of clothing, and dropping that much cash left me feeling a little anxious.
However when I received my item in the mail, I opened the parcel to find inside a beautiful pastel pink hardcover box (read: not cheap), and the shirt itself was wrapped in pink tissue paper held together by a little sticker, with a ‘handwritten’ thank you card slipped inside. It all felt worth it and consequently my affinity to the brand increased.
To further highlight the importance of packaging, the unboxing trend for ecommerce parcels is huge right now. Instagrammers and YouTubers all over film themselves unboxing their packages for the world to see. If you’re lucky enough to get your product featured, or if you’re leveraging influencer marketing tactics to do so, this means that your packaging will also get some air time. Make it count!
Another trend we’ll see more and more retailers adopt this year is the use of eco-friendly packaging. Going the extra mile to save the planet has the added benefit of going the extra mile to attract and satisfy customers, with more than a third of consumers making purchase choices based on brand’s environmental and social impact according to a study by Unilever.
Don’t just look at recyclable product packaging, think about the parcel or packaging that you use to ship your item, too. Bubble wrap, whilst fun, isn’t great if it gets into our oceans. You don’t have to go green overnight and overhaul everything at once, start small by checking out this list of eco-friendly shipping alternatives.
| Related Reading: Corporate Social Responsibility and Your Ecommerce Business
There’s a third way to use packages to boost sales. But it’s not through your own. Undigital suggests going back to old-school advertising and creating physical ad inserts or flyers to include in other retailers’ outgoing shipments. Team up with complementary brands and offer discounts or vouchers for your store to build brand awareness and reach new audiences.
2019 is going to be a big one, and whether you try one or all of these marketing strategies, ensuring you have a plan in place is the first step.
Join our mailing list.
The latest blog posts, retail news and resources delivered direct to your inbox.