9 Advanced eCommerce Marketing Strategies for Medium or Large Online Stores to Use in 2020

Apply these supercharged eCommerce marketing strategies to your online store and watch sales climb.

Editor’s Note: As we navigate a new normal amid the coronavirus pandemic, these are tried and true eCommerce marketing strategies and methods that have proven effective even as businesses change. We are adapting to the short-run, however, the importance of having longer-term strategies in place ensures longer-term business success and health. Here are additional resources to help you navigate your marketing strategy during this time.

If you go to Google and search “eCommerce Marketing Strategy,” you’re more than likely to turn up articles that provide beginner-friendly and surface-level advice.

While these posts are useful for people getting started with their first online store, merchants with established businesses need to know about specific marketing strategies they can use to gain a competitive edge.

In other words: You already know that using tactics such as pay-per click (PPC) campaigns, search engine optimization (SEO) and conversion rate optimization (CRO) are important in general.

What you actually need to know are specific digital marketing strategies that work right now to aid your marketing efforts.

The 9 eCommerce marketing strategies below are tailored toward medium to large businesses, but they will also work for a small business, too. Whether you implement one strategy, or all of them, into your eCommerce marketing plan, your store’s performance will improve.

Note: Want to talk to someone who can help with your eCommerce store’s digital marketing? Get in touch.

eCommerce PPC Marketing Strategies

see think do

#1: Use a “See, Think, Do” Social Media Ads Strategy

The cost of ads on social media platforms is rising steadily. To get a great return on ad spend (ROAS) depends on generating purchases while minimizing ad spend. This means finding new, cold audiences with a high ROAS.

Segmenting and optimizing social media ads to each stage of the marketing funnel is key.

Some stores can take a bottom of the funnel only approach to their ads to get a return, without focusing on converting a cold audience. However, this is not true for all online stores. Ideally, your store can test a full funnel strategy like the one we outline below against a bottom of the funnel (BOFU) campaign and come to a clear conclusion.

The full funnel that a customer goes through prior to a purchase is generally outlined as Awareness, Interest, Desire, and Action.

In the context of paid social media ads, we’ve found great use from reframing the marketing funnel under Avinash Kaushik’s See, Think, Do business framework for categorizing prospects along their buying journey.

Note: Below is the definition for each stage of this framework, and a real Facebook Ads campaign we applied it to for a client that got a 10x ROAS.

“See”: The largest possible audience that would buy your products, but haven’t shown intent.

For the “See” audience, we want to inexpensively get targeted prospects to the website and looking at your products.

  • Goal: Cheap impressions at scale
  • KPI: Cost per mille (CPM)
  • Ads: Brand awareness to introduce the store and/or products (“Reach” in Facebook Ads Manager)

“See” Ad Example:

"See" ad example from Aviator Gear on Facebook

“Think”: A subset of the ‘See’ audience who have shown intent by engaging.

For the “Think” audience, we want to show the prospects who engaged with your ad the same products that they showed interest in on their last visit. We collect them as a custom audience using a Facebook Ads pixel.

  • Goal: Landing page views
  • KPI: Cost Per Engagement (CPE)
  • Ads: Remarketing product ads based on engagement / products viewed (“Conversion” as the campaign objective in Facebook Ads Manager)

“Think” Ad Example:

"Think" ad example from Aviator Gear on Facebook

“Do”: A subset of the ‘Think’ audience who are the most likely group to buy because they shopped for the longest amount of time.

After the past two stages, we attained a 10x ROAS for the ‘Do’ stage ads that we created for this client. The key thing we did was retarget the top 25% of landing page website visitors from the “Think” stage based on how much time they spent on site.

  • Goal: Conversions
  • KPI: Cost per purchase
  • Ads: Retargeting ads to the top 25% of the “Think” audience based on time spent on site, with bold graphics, copy, and calls to action (CTAs).

“Do” Ad Example:

"Do" ad example from Aviator Gear on Facebook

You can scale Facebook ads performance just like this by structuring campaigns to bring in new potential customers at the top of the funnel, and then filter only the most engaged prospects down the funnel to a purchase.

Note: Check out the original post with the full details of our ‘See, Think, Do’ eCommerce Facebook Ads strategy here.

#2: Use Facebook Ads and Google Ads Together

With a limited ad budget, eCommerce merchants often assume that they have to choose between Facebook Ads and Google Ads (formerly Google Adwords).

In reality, your business can probably use a cross channel advertising strategy that incorporates both platforms. Though, you may scale ads on one channel more than the other.

eCommerce companies can maximize their brand exposure, conversions, and profitability from PPC by using Facebook Ads and Google Ads together strategically.

What does this complementary strategy look like?

How Facebook Ads and Google Ads Complement Each Other

Social ads create brand awareness; People search Google for brand and products; Google Search and Shopping Ads capture searches relevant to your brand; Remarketing with Social Ads and Display Ads

Facebook (and Instagram) are great for getting new audiences on social media exposed to your brand.

This added brand awareness can create more branded searches for your brand and products in Google, which helps signal to Google that they should associate your website with your brand.

As Google recognizes your brand as an entity, it helps add traction to your branded search marketing campaigns, ensuring that you show up at the top when people search for your brand. Including brand+keyword search terms like “annemarie body lotion:”

"Annemarie" body lotion Google search

As audiences continue engaging with your Website and Facebook Business Page, you can remarket to them across the web through Google’s Display network and Facebook’s pixel.

To get the full details on using this multi-channel strategy, see our guide to Google Ads vs Facebook Ads for eCommerce.

#3: Optimize Your Product Data Feed

When we onboard new PPC clients, reviewing their product data feed is a crucial step of our initial audit. If products don’t have enough data, or are missing from the product feed altogether, this leads to missed opportunities for better Shopping Ads performance.

An unoptimized feed makes it harder for your products to appear when buyers search for them. It also leads to wasted ad spend. We often see a particularly high volume of low converting search queries being triggered in product listing ad (PLA) campaigns as a result of an unoptimized data feed.

As an absolute bare minimum, add in a featured image for your product, pricing, and availability to make sure you show up in Google Shopping’s product feed.

"instant pot duo plus" Google search results

The more information you add about each of your products in the feed, the more Google will show them, and the more they will stand out from the competition.

Optimizing the data feed with as much information as possible will not only make your shopping listing look more appealing to customers, but it will also allow Google to show your product for more relevant results. This helps avoid wasting ad spend on irrelevant search queries.

We recommend optimizing your product data feed by following these best practices. Foremost among them:

  1. Adding all your products to your product feed (not just some).
  2. Optimizing the products in the feed with as much relevant information as possible (colors, patterns, scents, size, weight, etc.).

Note: In addition to helping with PPC, clean product data feeds are also critical for optimizing the quality of search engine traffic your eCommerce website gets.

If you really want to take this to the next level, we recommend going with a data feed optimization platform. We use Feedonomics for most of our clients and tend to see a noticeable increase in performance fairly immediately.

eCommerce CRO Marketing Strategies

#4: Personalize Your Shopping Experience to Each Audience Segment

The growth of microbrands is already encroaching quite a bit on the bottom line of consumer giants. Often, these smaller brands cater their entire shopping experience to very specific, niche audiences.

As a result, the little guys are able to beat out the big brands for those niche customers.

The process for personalizing the shopping experience of your eCommerce business can be boiled down to bucketing your audience segments into customer personas, and giving each persona a tailored user experience.

For example, our client with a used photography equipment marketplace provides separate shopping experiences for their prospects who want to buy equipment, sell equipment, or get equipment repaired. They built out separate sections of their website to cater to each prospect’s intention.

There is no one-size-fits-all with how to do eCommerce personalization. It will vary based on your customer personas and the way these different users behave on your site. So first, you have to do some research and collect that data. Then, use that information to personalize your website.

The steps to personalizing your eCommerce website’s shopping experience are:

  1. Brainstorm and group personas together from your overall customer base.
  2. Identify the characteristics and site behaviors specific to each persona.
  3. Track and analyze that data with Google Analytics Custom Dimensions.
  4. Narrow down the 3-5 data points that are the specific actions usually taken by each persona (this requires more testing and analyzing to confirm).
  5. Personalize your website accordingly.

Want to see how to complete each of the above steps in detail? See our full guide to eCommerce personalization strategies.

#5: Optimize Shopping Cart and Checkout According to Best Practices

We still see eCommerce businesses that have yet to adopt common conversion rate optimization best practices for their cart and checkout pages.

Here are the CRO tips we recommend testing that even big stores miss:

Best Practice #1: If most purchases on your website are for one item, make sure to send users straight to the cart.

Best Practice #2: On the other hand, if you typically sell more than one item per order, keep users on the product page and encourage them to keep shopping. For example, Gap shows the dollar amount customers have left to spend to qualify for free shipping:

You are only $32 away from FREE shipping

Best Practice #3: Don’t display a coupon code field in the checkout process by default. Most businesses display the field for customers to enter a coupon or promo code. For example, Tani’s checkout flow displays the coupon code field by default:

Tani's checkout automatically displays the Gift card or discount code on checkout

Our testing for some clients has shown increased cart abandonment when the checkout flow displays this field by default versus hiding it. This suggests that some customers may have been abandoning the checkout page to search for a code to use after seeing the blank field.

A better option may be to do what PACT Organic does in their checkout flow. Which is to ask the customer if they have a coupon first:

Pact's website shows: "Do you have a promo code or gift card?"

Once the customer clicks that text to confirm they already have a code, the field to enter it drops down for them to use:

pasted image 0 20

Be sure to test one version of the checkout flow on your site with the field hidden, and one with the field displayed. See if hiding the field results in less cart abandonment and if so, make that the default option.

Best Practice #4: Keep your checkout process limited to as few steps as possible, and keep it distraction-free by eliminating unnecessary sections such as your website navigation header. The only visible elements that should be there are the ones necessary to complete their purchase. In general, this best practice is commonly known, yet we have seen that some stores still have cluttered or distracting checkout processes.

Best Practice #5: Display an order summary throughout the checkout process that lets customers easily see that they got the correct items. People will sometimes abandon the checkout and go back to the cart if they don’t see their entire order displayed and want to double check something. For example, Aquasana keeps the shopping cart items visible at the top while taking payments, with a link to go back to the cart if they need to.

Aquasana's checkout page displays the items in your cart on the checkout page.

#6: Display and Test Trust Elements on Your Website

Trust elements are proven to help reassure customers and increase conversion rates. These include graphics such as:

  • Security seals
  • 3rd party verification badges
  • Industry certifications

That said, we have tested trust seals and badges and found that what “trust” means for one brand and their customers may differ for another brand.

Different industries, businesses, and their customers come from different backgrounds, and have different values and needs when shopping. This is why the best way to validate which trust symbol works best for you is through controlled testing on your website.

One test we usually recommend running is to include trust elements throughout the customer journey (on your homepage, catalog, and especially in cart/checkout). This helps to reassure customers at each step because the element is on every page.

Burt's Bees landing page with TrustedSite verification.
Burtsbees.com includes the TrustedSite certification seal as a floating graphic in the bottom left on every page in order to help reassure users.

We have linked trust certifications to increased conversions through our own independent testing below (which commonly includes a control group with no certification preset on the site):

In both of them, the major factors are the website the trust badge appears on and the company behind the trust badge itself.

To start, test out the best trust badges for eCommerce and find what works best. Or hire a conversion rate optimization specialist to test what works best on your behalf.

Note: In addition to the strategies above, you can see more effective CRO strategies in our annual CRO study of the best-in-class eCommerce stores.

eCommerce SEO Marketing Strategies

#7: Scale Strategic Content Marketing

eCommerce businesses can see a direct ROI from publishing strategic content such as buyer guides, resources, and how-to articles. The other benefit of scaling high-quality content is that it can dramatically improve the SEO quality of your website.

To scale high-quality content for inbound marketing you can:

  • Hire it out to an agency’s content marketing team
  • Hire a Senior Content Manager in-house to manage your own portfolio of freelance writers
  • Work with a freelance content marketing consultant with their own team of writers and editors

As a general guideline, make sure the content is tailored to your audience:

  • What are your customer’s questions about your products?
  • What are the problems they need help solving that your product can help with?
  • What tone and format (e.g. articles, resources, videos) will your customers find engaging based on their personas and interests?

For example, we helped our warehouse industry client publish resources like warehouse-related checklists. Their customers tend to need help stocking and organizing their warehouses. This content helped to solve their problems. As a result, website traffic, signups, and conversions increased.

For other clients, a product buying guide often makes sense. For example, if you sell backyard playsets, a buying guide to the different materials they can be made of, configurations, and safety information is content that potential customers could find engaging.

Overall, make content that is tailored to the specific industries that buy your products. In the next strategy, you’ll learn how to make sure that your strategic content is highly optimized for search engines.

#8: Use Content Optimization Software to Supercharge Your Strategic Content’s Ability to Rank

If you can see what people are searching for and where they’re landing, then you can make sure those pages properly meet the search intent. What does “properly meet the search intent” mean, though?

It means providing the best answer to whatever it is they are hoping to get back from a search term. This is how you get your strategic content to rank higher in Google.

Some search terms indicate that users want to find specific products to buy (“burberry size medium topcoat tan check”). In that case, you want to provide the best product page possible for that Burberry topcoat, with those size/color/pattern modifier words like “medium,” “tan,” and “check” included on the page.

Other search terms indicate that the users have a problem or question they want to solve, like “how to care for leather luggage.” In this instance, you want to provide the best guide online for taking care of leather luggage compared to the competing leather luggage care guides at the top of Google.

We like to use Clearscope as an on-page optimization tool to make sure pages include the right type of content and keywords. It’s especially useful for strategic content like articles and blog posts.

Clearscope is a great tool for on-page optimization

Clearscope provides optimization suggestions based on the common keywords on the top ranking search engine results pages (SERPs). That makes it easy for you to include the right content and keywords for each page.

There are some other well-known content optimization tools out there (that we haven’t tried out), such as Ryte and Copywritely.

Once you know the keywords your customers are using, and have optimized your on-page copy to include them, there are more SEO tweaks that can make a big difference. Be sure to edit your meta tags, and add internal linking on category and product pages to incorporate those keywords in the anchor text.

Note: When optimizing a page for specific keywords like this, your goal is to publish a better version of the top-ranking content that ranks for the target keywords. This process is what doing content marketing for SEO entails in a nutshell.

#9: Add Schema Markup to Get Your Brand and Products Featured by Google

Now it’s time to help all of your content “pop” visually and rank higher in the search engines with Schema markup.

JSON Schema markup is code that indicates what’s on your webpages to search engines. Adding as much structured data as possible helps improve the odds of Google indexing and ranking your web pages higher.

Once Google recognizes the structured data on your pages, this increases the odds of visual elements being added to those pages in the SERPs. This can include beating organic rankings as a featured snippet at the very top of results:

"best electric lawn mower" Google search results
Google Featured Snippet for the search term “best electric lawn mower.”

You can generate structured data to add to your page according to Google’s specifications with their Structured Data Markup Helper.

Have a web developer implement the JSON code for relevant markup on your most important pages first, such as your highest trafficked and highest converting pages.

Once you’ve implemented structured data, use Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool to double check it.

Here are some types of structured data eCommerce website should be using:

Products, Pricing, and Availability Schema

Product Schema is important for any eCommerce site to get those products recognized as entities and indexed by search engines.

Adding structured data markup for Pricing, Price Range, and Availability Schema is also important to increase the odds of showing up for “Popular products” results like this:

"wooden coffee tables" Google search results

Ratings Schema

As you see in the image above and below, adding markup for ratings helps those nice star ratings to appear in search results.

pasted image 0 11

This markup is built into some eCommerce product review software platforms as well.

Organization Schema

Use Organization Schema to build your brand as an entity in Google. This markup helps to get your logo in Google’s Knowledge Graph.

Tuft&Need Google Business Information
Tuft & Needle in Google’s Knowledge Graph. Note how Google pulled additional information about their brand such as their contact info, headquarters location, and founders info as well.

Questions and Answers

People often input very specific questions about products and brands into Google.

This markup can increase the odds of a Q&A Snippet by telling Google that the page consists of questions and their answers. Such as this one pulled from Amazon:

Google's Q&A Snippet: "How good is Miracle Gro?"

Or this one pulled from a roofing and insulation supplier:

"when do I need to replace my roof" Google Q&A snippet

Video

As video results become more frequent, you can increase the odds of appearing in a video snippet. To do this, host it on YouTube and make sure to add video markup to the page of your site that it is embedded on.

"how to repair your iPad" Google results with a video on the top of the page.

A YouTube Video’s Featured Snippet

Sitelinks Searchbox

If you have site search enabled on your domain, you can have a Sitelinks Searchbox appear by your result, especially when people search for your brand or main keywords.

For example, searching for “etsy” yields their Sitelinks search box. Google provides the option to search Etsy’s site right there because it recognizes the site search markup on the page:

"etsy" Google search results pulls in Etsy at the top with a search bar into Etsy's actual site.

Just as you want as much information loaded into your product data feed for PPC, you want as much relevant structured data on your product pages as possible for SEO.

Overall, the more information you add to your schema markup, such as contact info and company heads, the more chances that information will turn up in search results (and in your PPC ads too).

The biggest brands already have their individual products in Google’s Knowledge Graph, such as this Knowledge Graph products result for “nintendo switch”:

"Compare similar products" shopping results with pricing and reviews

You can even compare products right in Google.

You can compare different products right from within Google

This is the direction Google seems to be going, so make sure your products get recognized by Google too.

Note: Google’s guidelines for structured data outlines their preferences for how developers should implement each type of markup data.

Ready to Supercharge Your eCommerce Sales?

With these 10 eCommerce marketing strategies, you’re well-equipped to increase sales.

The key thing is prioritize and implement them in your marketing plan, and that’s where eCommerce stores often need some help.

Our agency helps medium to large eCommerce businesses grow through PPC, SEO, and CRO.

Note: Want to schedule a consultation with us to see which marketing strategies your store should implement first? Get in touch.

eCommerce Marketing During a Downturn: Strategies and Options for eCommerce Businesses During the Coronavirus Crisis

In this article, we’re documenting and updating tactical and strategic marketing options for eCommerce companies during this coronavirus crisis.

We’re entering a recession thanks to the spread of coronavirus. For brick and mortar businesses, the social distancing and lockdown responses have been brutal.

But what about eCommerce? That’s, of course, what we work on every day, and the solution to what these businesses should do during this period is a lot more nuanced and complicated based on what we’re seeing so far.

We don’t have all the answers yet. But in this article, we’re documenting and updating tactical and strategic marketing options for eCommerce companies during this coronavirus crisis.

Below, we discuss these options in the context of the 3 pillars of eCommerce marketing: SEO, PPC, and CRO. We also discuss general tactics and strategies you can consider right now. Finally, we briefly share what we are doing as an agency for our own business.

Things are changing fast, though. So as our thinking on these topics evolves, we’ll update this post and log any updates. What you’re reading is our latest thinking on this topic.  

Your Digital Marketing Strategy: Should You Make Strategic or Tactical Changes, and If So, Where?

There are three pillars to eCommerce marketing, which are also our 3 main services:

We’ll discuss each in the order above, not as an indication of any priority, but simply because we think SEO and CRO have simpler answers right now. Meanwhile, PPC has a lot of nuance, so we’ll discuss it last.

Our Thoughts on eCommerce SEO Strategy During This Time

Based on what we’re seeing so far with SEO, there’s not much need for most eCommerce businesses to make any drastic changes. As always with SEO, the resources you dedicate to it aren’t intended to yield an immediate impact.

Yes, there may be some fluctuations in search volume right now (which could be positive or negative, depending on your industry). But SEO is, by nature, a long-term play and that’s not changing.

What should those SEO activities be? Here are some case studies and resources we’ve published that can help:

If you have questions about SEO changes you see right now, you can reach out to us via our consultation form or ask in the comments. We’ll respond as soon as we can.

Note: We’ll publish a complimentary post to this, reporting on trends we are seeing across all of our clients within the next week.

Our Thoughts on eCommerce CRO Strategy During This Time

For CRO to be successful, you need enough visits to reach statistical significance in your A/B tests. So if your site continues to generate reasonable traffic, continue doing it. But if it experiences a dramatic decrease, you should stop A/B testing. That doesn’t mean you have to stop CRO, though.

You can continue to make UX improvements to your site or work on the following:

  • Improve site speed (you don’t need an A/B test to tell you that faster sites convert better—this is well documented).
  • Assess where your site follows or doesn’t follow eCommerce CRO best practices. Then, propose fixes based on that. Our annual eCommerce best-in-class report can help.
  • Work on a large site redesign, which may be better performed when you’re not A/B testing.

Our Thoughts on eCommerce PPC Strategy During This Time

With PPC, strategy becomes more nuanced. The answer to what strategic changes you should make during this COVID-19 response period depends on the kind of business you run.

For example, we work with one company that specializes in medical supplies. They’ve cut their PPC ad spend in half because they can’t source inventory right now. Since they can’t ship orders, they needed to make some immediate choices with cash flow to invest in other parts of their business.

We also have several clients that are seeing downturns in PPC (and SEO) traffic due to a simple and expected decrease in consumer demand during this crisis—for example, in baby products, B2B industrial products, fishing products, and more.

However, we also have clients that are seeing significant improvements in PPC metrics and ultimately ROAS. One is in the supplement and nutrition space, while the other is a paid digital magazine.

How is that possible?

There are, of course, some products and industries that are in high demand during this crisis. But we currently suspect that others may simply be seeing improved (lower) click costs solely because of lower competition as many large brands are pulling back and are in “wait-and-see” mode. For example, Amazon has already decided to reduce some of its spend on Google Shopping and text ads.

What matters most in PPC is positive ROAS. As long as ROAS meet your company’s threshold, it makes financial sense to keep spending as much as possible.

For further reading, here are 2 case studies we’ve published on ROAS for eCommerce companies:

So instead of making any rushed decisions with your PPC budget, track your results as time goes on. If you experience fewer conversions and less traffic, but returns remain the same, stay the course. You may even see better ROAS than normal as several of our clients have.

Ad Spend Alternatives If Physical Retail Is a Key Channel

If distribution via physical retail partners is also a big portion of your business, you can get creative with how you use your budget. If your retail partners are open (like grocery stores), there are other ways you can spend.

Here are two ideas you can try today:

  1. Use your advertising budget to drive foot traffic over to those retailers.
  2. Discuss giving some of your budget to those retailers to do extra promotion of your products. That is, even if you’re not running ads, can you give them your PPC budget for them to run ads specific to your products?

Additional eCommerce Marketing Tactics Worth Considering

During an economic downturn, it’s necessary to experiment. Below are a few tactics we’ve seen some of our eCommerce clients try already.

Targeting New Customers

Due to the pandemic, your customers may not be in a position to buy what you’re selling right now. Consider using this time to see if your products resonate with other audiences.

For example, we work with one eCommerce company that’s in the B2B swimming pool supplies business. They remain confident because pools always need cleaning. Otherwise, they can suffer damages that cost owners much more money in the long run.

It’s possible that the economic downturn may create more do-it-yourself pool owners. These would be new B2C customers relative to their usual audience of pool maintenance companies. To reach new audiences, they’re considering creating more SEO content around DIY maintenance.

Building Your Existing Audience Cheaply Now for Retargeting Later

At the same time, your customers may not be in a position to buy your products now. But this doesn’t mean they won’t buy your product in the future. 

Remember, other companies may be slashing their ad spending budgets. And as a result, costs per click are likely due to drop in the coming weeks and months. If your business has enough cash in hand, you can take advantage of this.

Instead of optimizing for sales, experiment with dedicating ad spend toward growing your email list. Nurture relationships with those who sign up by offering quality content. Then, when the time is right, you’ll have a much bigger list of cheaply acquired customers to retarget to.

Accept Backorders

Even if you’re having trouble sourcing inventory, you may not need to stop selling right now. Instead, consider continuing to take orders. You can guarantee customers you’ll send products later when they’re back in stock.

Along with cutting ad spend, Amazon has stopped shipping non-essential items to warehouses. So, if you’re an eCommerce business that fulfills orders yourself, this is good news for you. Consumers that need to buy what you sell will have to do so on branded sites like yours instead.

Repurpose Your Products with New Ad Copy

Take a close look at your current product offerings. There may be an opportunity to reposition their value in a post-coronavirus world. You can achieve this by rewriting ad copy that reflects the country’s new conditions or repositioning existing products in the context of what’s happening to consumers in the world right now.

Here are 3 examples:

  • Example 1 – Stickers and Badges: A client we work with sells vinyl skins for decorative use on cell phones, laptops, and other electronics. They’re brainstorming repurposing a related product (such as stickers) and connecting it to a charitable cause in the fight against coronavirus. This would give customers who would love a way to help people hurt by coronavirus an opportunity to do so while purchasing this client’s products.
  • Example 2 – Home Furniture: Another client we work with sells office furniture, and has repositioned copy and creative for the time being to be a home office emphasis, helping fill an obvious need.
  • Example 3 – Home Furniture: On a similar note, here is an example of a recent email from Crate & Barrel (not a client), who sell home office furniture all year long, but simply positioned it as “WFH inspo” (working from home inspiration):

Crate&Barrel: Modern Craft - Reclaim the Office

Focus on Online Events

Some eCommerce companies host live events to market to their customers. But with social distancing in full effect, these aren’t possible right now. It has opened the door for businesses to experiment with online events.

We work with one eCommerce company that’s in the health and wellness industry. To build an offline presence, they’ve hosted in-person yoga classes in the past. But now, they’re shifting toward teaching more “live” online classes instead. eCommerce brands selling physical goods could do similar things in terms of product videos on Instagram, or Facebook, that help consumers use their products at home and solve current challenges consumers are facing.

What We’re Doing in Response Today as an Agency

Every eCommerce company that we work with has their own set of circumstances to address. To help them navigate the current climate, we’re using the following two-step process.

Step 1: We’re Reaching out to Clients, One by One

Before prescribing any solutions, we need to know where each of our clients stand. We need to first learn about the problems they’re facing since this crisis began.

We based who we reached out to first on our assessment of each clients’ underlying risks. To determine who needs one-on-one calls the most, we’ve considered the criteria below: 

  • If the client’s site has taken a traffic hit
  • If the client has already reached out to us
  • Google Trends
  • The client’s industry 

Step 2: Offering Our Recommendations

Once we have a good sense of each of our clients’ circumstances, then we’ll give our advice. 

Take for example the medical supplies business we referenced earlier. Cash isn’t an issue for them, only inventory. We may suggest that they spend it on other strategic levers, like SEO, where they can gain traction right now over competitors who may not be as focused in this area.

Where Our Business Stands in the Current Climate

Finally, for our business, most of our clients remain committed to working with us in spite of what’s happening. We haven’t received a rash number of cancellations due to herd mentality around the panic. 

We’re fortunate that most of the companies we work with aren’t debt-driven businesses. Many of our clients aren’t reliant on heavy cash flow.

We may decide to run campaigns at reduced levels of ad spend for some of our clients. But the workload we carry as a whole doesn’t change.

Like you, what happens next for us at Inflow is still unfolding each day. But in spite of that, we remain confident in our ability to help eCommerce companies thrive.

Magento to BigCommerce Migration Guide: How to Replatform Quickly and Painlessly

Are you currently on Magento 1? This guide will make the Magento to BigCommerce migration process a lot easier for you to manage. Read now!

If your store is on Magento 1 or Magento 2, this post will help you:

  • Understand why a migration from Magento 1 to another platform is necessary
  • Decide whether to migrate to BigCommerce or Magento 2
  • Create a migration plan from Magento 1 to BigCommerce

Note: Ready to migrate from Magento 1 or Magento 2? We can help! Learn More.

Why Migrate from Magento 1?

The end of life (EOL) for Magento 1 is June 2020. If you’re still on Magento 1, you need a full migration of your data to another platform to:

  • Secure Your Data Against a Breach

Magento will not release further quality updates and security patches for Magento 1. If you don’t migrate, your store’s data and customer data could become a vulnerable target.

  • Retain Your PCI DSS Compliance

Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards (PCI DSS) require regular security patches applied to your platform. After June 1, 2020, payment card processors that require these standards met (like Visa and Mastercard) may not consider you PCI DSS compliant if you stay on Magento 1.

  • Keep Your Technology Stack Up-to-Date

In addition to security and payment processor compliance, the entire tech stack and digital ecosystem of your business requires current and up-to-date technology for everything to integrate. The global Magento developer community, as well as the marketplace of 3rd party themes, API integrations, and extensions will be focused on Magento 2.

BigCommerce vs Magento 2

When making decisions about their store’s tech stack, merchants tend to base their technology decisions on what can help to scale their business. Both platforms are scalable options, but in very different ways.

Many merchants choose Magento 2 because the open source platform allows for unparalleled flexibility for code changes. Magento 2 can be a great fit for merchants that value near-unlimited customization flexibility.

A BigCommerce store blends much of the customizability of Magento, but with the flexibility of a cloud-based SaaS platform that is easier to set up and manage. That means less development time and cost.

As a metaphor, BigCommerce is like a pre-built structure. You only need to move in your belongings, paint the walls, and decorate. Magento is like buying an empty lot, hiring an architect, and building the structure before moving in and decorating.

Post-migration, BigCommerce’s customizability, integrations, and hosted service make it flexible enough for many merchants to use without running into limitations.

Magento 2 vs Big Commerce: Pros and Cons of both

Magento 2 Pros:

Magento 2 Pros (homepage)

  • Open source framework allows you to change anything (design, development, and customization freedom)
  • Extensive theme, extension, and integration marketplace
  • Large and global community of developers
  • Integration with large marketplaces like Amazon and eBay
  • Scalable
  • Multi-store options (requires some customization)

Magento 2 Cons:

  • With Magento, even a basic store with little to no customization still requires a lot of work from developers to start from scratch
  • Higher development costs long-term for critical updates, security patches, and integrations
  • Magento requires hosting, and extra server capacity for scaling (unless you opt for Magento Commerce Cloud)
  • Difficult to manage for non-technical users
  • Fewer payment gateways out of the box than BigCommerce

Note: Support options on Magento 2 vary depending on which version you choose. Magento 2 Open Source (i.e.: Community Edition) does not include support. Magento 2 Commerce (i.e. Enterprise Edition or Enterprise Cloud Edition) includes support.

BigCommerce Pros:

BigCommerce pros (homepage)

  • Cloud-based so there is no need for separate hosting
  • Lots of integrations and open API makes it easy to develop
  • Easy integration or minimal coding with 3rd party apps
  • BigCommerce integrated security
  • BigCommerce updates automatically
  • Easier to use interface
  • More payment gateways and local currencies accepted out of the box
  • Multi-store options (requires some customization)

BigCommerce Cons:

  • Open API but not open source like Magento 2 Open Source
  • Less SEO support when managing multiple domains/languages
  • Subscription costs

(Note: Magento’s paid enterprise option, Magento 2 Commerce, also has annual subscription costs)

Usually, setting up on the BigCommerce platform requires less time and expense than migrating to Magento 2. When time is a factor and site downtime isn’t convenient, the amount of coding needed with Magento can be a big drawback.

If it’s a good fit for your business, BigCommerce can give your development team the flexibility to work on more impactful projects that improve the customer experience and conversions.

In this BigCommerce SEO case study, we document how we found impactful SEO improvements for a client when they moved to BigCommerce from Magento. That client’s setup on Magento involved a split between their online store and their blog content. This was less than ideal for their SEO, and it added some complexity that we were able to resolve when they wanted to replatform to BigCommerce.

BigCommerce has provided several case studies on their website showing increased ROI, conversion rates, and profitability after stores replatformed to BigCommerce from Magento.

Magento to BigCommerce Migration Case Studies:

"Thompson Tee fits perfectly with new ecommerce platform and experiences a 94% increase in ROI"

Magento has also documented many successful case studies of retailers who migrated from Magento 1 to Magento 2 and saw great results.

Magento 1 to Magento 2 Case Studies:

Magento 1 to Magento 2 Case Studies: "How BMN Bouwmaterialen Boosted B2B Revenue by 159%"

Why Migrate from Magento to BigCommerce?

Our agency assists stores that are hosted on a wide variety of platforms, including Magento, BigCommerce, WooCommerce (WordPress), and Shopify Plus.

Note: Here is our comparison of Shopify Plus vs Magento.

That said, we believe that many of the businesses on Magento would benefit from migrating to a SaaS platform like BigCommerce.

Ideally, your eCommerce platform should help your business to perform better in the long run and save on costs in the present.

For some stores, Magento 2 is a more costly, complex and development-heavy platform than they need. On the other hand, if there is a very large number of SKUs to manage and ongoing customization is needed, Magento may be a better option. BigCommerce supports pretty large catalogs, but if you start getting beyond 600 SKUs on a single product, Magento is probably a better fit.

For large stores that need an easier-to-manage platform, BigCommerce is a good option. Your store can get up and running quickly because it’s flexible and scalable as an open SaaS platform.

To get even more insight into a Magento to BigCommerce migration, we spoke to 11-year eCommerce veteran and BigCommerce Marketing Competitive Intelligence Manager, Mindy Regnell.

Mindy started her career in eCommerce as a support rep for the largest reseller of Prostores, which was owned by Magento.

After moving to BigCommerce, she worked as part of the data migration team helping customers move over their key customers and product data. During her almost 4 years on the team she worked on several large projects including the end of life for both ProStores and Magento Go.

Before joining the product marketing team, Mindy helped merchants with thousands of different data migrations across 25+ platforms during her career. We’ve collected some of her best advice below for migrating to BigCommerce.

Considerations and Questions to Ask Before a Magento Migration

In general, the shorter your replatforming timeline is, the more flexibility you need. For a large eCommerce store, a data migration and eCommerce website redesign to fit the new platform can take from 3-6 months.

The first step is to prioritize your needs with the answers to these questions:

  1. Will you be creating a brand new site design for a new store, or recreating the same site on a new platform?
  2. What features and functionality are necessary? (If this is intricate you may build out an eCommerce RFP template.)
  3. What are the top platforms that meet your feature/functionality needs? (It’s important to consider all the relevant options for platforms based on your timeline and budget, as well as any needs for customization and extensions.)
  4. What will your migration strategy be once the above is decided? What is the backup plan if the timeline isn’t met? (And what is the backup-backup plan?)
  5. How will you make sure that your website’s SEO authority in Google and its conversion rate are maintained post-migration? (See our eCommerce SEO migration checklist for information on how to do this.)
  6. How will you execute on moving over all your data? The high level strategy for moving data are three general steps signified by the acronym “ETL:”
  • Extract the data from your current platform
  • Transform the data to prepare it for your new platform
  • Load the correctly formatted data via CSV, or using an API / migration tool (which is faster)

Keep in mind: the amount of data you have affects how long the data transfer takes.

Magento to BigCommerce Migration Process and Implementation Strategy

If something goes wrong with data after launching, it can be a big problem. This is why we recommend you start with moving the data and a light site design before anything else.

The overall implementation strategy consists of:

  1. ETL Data Migration and Pre/Post Migration Testing
  2. Set Up Integrations
  3. Develop Your Site’s UX and UI

Here is the full overview of steps for that:

#1: Determine what features and functionality you absolutely need. You can split these into “must-haves” vs “nice to have” vs “dealbreakers.”

#2: Budget your migration in conjunction with that essential list of “must-have” features.

#3: What “must have” changes or features might you need in the future? Ideally you can implement those at the same time as the current migration but if not, put them 2nd on the “must-haves” priority list to develop after migrating.

#4: Create a timeline, and make sure to give yourself a conservative amount of wiggle room on that timeline so that you don’t start the project too late and miss the deadline. You also want to make sure you allow time for testing, and any updates needed after doing that testing.

#5: Outline the implementation tasks between what in-house tasks your team handles and what an outside developer or agency will handle.

#6: Check what plugin API’s and integrations you currently have in place on Magento. Do you need them all with BigCommerce, or does the move make some of them null?

For example, BigCommerce has the following features built in that Magento stores may need as a custom Magento extension:

  • A blog
  • Abandoned cart emails
  • Certain payment gateways
  • Checkout options
  • Product categories filtering

#7: Back up everything — you’ll be glad to have it. Map and move your data over.

Note: Check how your images on Magento are backed up on the server (image URL or file) so that you can make sure those important images for all your product pages are backed up.

#8: Execute the core pieces first: Payment gateways, key integrations, and a light site design to get it up and running.

#9: Test the site before launching live.

#10: Launch! Then keep working on the design and 2nd-priority features to add to the initial light version.

Conclusion: Which eCommerce Platform Do You Need?

Rather than a clear winner, both platforms have their uses:

Magento 2:

When you need a highly customizable eCommerce platform, Magento allows for more customization than BigCommerce.

On the other hand, an open-source platform like Magento may be more burdensome for businesses that don’t need unlimited customization.

BigCommerce:

When speed, scalability, and ease-of-use is important, you can quickly integrate your data to BigCommerce and customize their theme to fit your brand.

BigCommerce supports the type of customization that historically required an open source platform. The company’s advancements in APIs and headless commerce allow for a lot more customization than was previously thought possible on a platform that isn’t open source.

At the same time, it doesn’t require as much customization as an open source platform. This is why you can save on development and hosting costs by using BigCommerce.

We hope that makes it easier to choose between these two platforms.

All that being said, there are some other considerations when replatforming besides front- and back-end data: improving SEO and conversion rate.

We know that outside help is often needed for eCommerce businesses to execute on a large replatforming project. If you’re interested in a marketing-focused migration service to improve your technology and revenue, we’d love to help! Learn more here.

eCommerce Metric Benchmarks: How to Analyze Your Online Store’s KPIs

Track 30+ eCommerce metrics? That’s too many. Here’s a list with the best KPIs to focus on and the reasons why.

Identifying your key “marketing levers” is an approach every eCommerce business can pursue. In this post, we share our philosophy for identifying the best marketing metrics to focus on without getting bogged down in unnecessary details.

Prioritizing which metrics to improve can be tricky. No metric will move the needle itself, but if analyzed correctly, they can lead to profitable insights.

That said, tracking too many metrics can make a thorough analysis difficult. We’ve seen several eCommerce marketing articles that recommend dozens of “key” performance indicators at once.

Additionally, we’ve spoken to customers who try to peg the performance of their business to an industry average.

The problem with focusing on too many metrics and industry averages is:

  1. There are usually a key set of metrics that are relevant to growing your store. What those are can depend on many individual factors.
  2. Using industry studies as a point of reference doesn’t help you decide on the best action (i.e. the best metrics to focus on improving) for growth.

Working with hundreds of eCommerce stores has shown us that the right answer isn’t “one-size-fits-all” when it comes to what marketing benchmarks to meet.

Given that each business is unique, the core concept we recommend is constant, strategic improvement. The best benchmark in most cases is where you currently are for a given KPI.

Deciding which metrics are best to use is the critical piece to get right. So, let’s dig into some guidelines.

Note: We’re pros at identifying the biggest marketing levers for your store to take action on. Contact us here to learn more.

How to Analyze Your eCommerce KPI’s

At Inflow, we focus on three core digital marketing practices:

CRO - SEO - PPC

In a past article, we’ve referred to this trio of marketing methods as the “milk and cookies” approach.

SEO and PPC are the activities that generate traffic (the “cookies”), but if CRO is missing (the “milk”), that added traffic may not lead to a significant sales increase. This is why SEO, PPC, and CRO tend to work best together.

A cartoon image of two cookies on a plate with a glass of milk, showing that SEO, CRO, and PPC all go together like milk and cookies.

Below, we’ll go over how to frame your thinking around these three digital marketing practices in a way that ensures constant improvement and fewer wasted resources.

eCommerce Conversion Metrics

eCommerce conversion metrics

It may seem like there is some average conversion rate that your store should be targeting. This is usually based on industry averages or what another store is reportedly getting. But does measuring your store to those yardsticks hold up in practice?

In our experience: there are no standard conversion rates. We’ve seen 0.2% all the way up to 15%.

Additionally, a change in traffic can result in a corresponding decline/increase in conversion rates and this can look like an issue when it really may not be.

We’re not throwing our hands up in the air and saying that conversion rate doesn’t matter as a performance indicator. The key is that you’re always testing to improve from a base conversion rate.

Note: Different audiences and offers convert differently. For example, we have seen a very low conversion rate (less than 0.5%) for a site selling house plans because this is a high-consideration item. In contrast, we have seen very high conversion rates (80%+) for lead intake forms (which are free).

Desktop vs Mobile Conversion Rate

Conversion rates vary for Desktop and Mobile devices as well.

There are a significant amount of users shopping on both Desktop and Mobile devices. Even so, we still see more conversions come in from desktop than from Mobile to the online retailers that we work with.

This suggests that more people are using their smartphone to browse and search for products, but they complete their purchase on desktop (as other studies like Wolfgang Digital’s 2019 KPI Report have pointed out).

Since people are more likely to buy products on a desktop or laptop vs a mobile device, our own internal rule of thumb is that the mobile conversion rate should be at least 1/2 of the desktop conversion rate (if it’s less than that, there’s room for optimization).

As we pointed out in our article about increasing mobile conversions back in 2016, even now there is still an opportunity to compete in search for mobile market share. Among other tactics, stores can optimize for this opportunity using:

  1. Clear, easily tappable calls to action
  2. Trust badges like Norton or McAfee, BBB logo, Google Trusted Stores, etc.
  3. Category Page Facet Experience (such as previewing colors and sizes)
  4. Fast site speed
  5. Creating a mobile-first site

Bounce Rate and Cart Abandonment

Bounce rate and shopping cart abandonment are two conversion-related metrics we’ve seen people struggle to evaluate.

What should your bounce rate and cart abandonment rates be? The principle of simply improving from your current rates rather than finding an external yardstick definitely applies here.

Bounce Rate

Bounce rates vary widely. Even a high bounce rate (above 80%) is normal. Sure, it sounds like a lot of people are leaving. But many are staying, which means you can:

  1. Identify what type of people are converting.
  2. Do further conversion optimization work to cater to that group of people.
  3. Target those people when driving traffic to your website through PPC and SEO.

Rather than “optimizing for bounce rate,” you optimize your audience targeting, your website design, your product offerings, and your content to get more potential customers coming to your website and converting (rather than bouncing off of it).

Cart Abandonment

Cost consideration is one typical factor of cart abandonment. Customer behavior differs a lot when shopping for a low cost, low consideration item vs a high cost, high-consideration item. Low consideration (cost) items generally have higher conversion rates and vice-versa.

For an extreme example, let’s say you are selling a high-cost, high-consideration item with a 99% bounce rate and 99% cart abandonment rate. That 0.1% of people that stay on the site and convert through checkout are all you may need to drive a viable profit.

Cost consideration is not the only factor with cart abandonment. Sometimes it’s the total experience leading up to checkout vs. anything specific within the checkout process.

In other words, if a customer has a friction-filled experience up to the point of checkout, it could be that you need to improve their overall shopping experience on your website rather than optimizing your checkout process.

This is why a cart abandonment program that considers every step of the customer journey up to that point (along with the checkout design) is a must.

Of course, you need traffic from SEO and Paid ads in order to get an audience to convert. Let’s look at SEO next.

eCommerce SEO Metrics

eCommerce SEO Metrics

While SEO is an important part of a holistic marketing strategy, one of the biggest challenges is mapping SEO tactics to specific outcomes or results.

For example, if you disallow Google from crawling thousands of pages, you can’t really know:

  • When Google will detect the change
  • Whether or not Google has detected the change
  • When the result of it hits some “threshold”, and when to “call it” and take the end result

In the midst of this uncertainty, “calling it” and taking the end result would be assuming wrongly that nothing else could have influenced that result along the way.

A couple of other main misconceptions surrounding SEO for eCommerce are:

  1. Keyword rankings or traffic are the main SEO KPIs (they’re not).
  2. The one keyword or few keywords you want to rank for are the most important result (nope).

Investment into improving SEO is about more than gaining keyword rankings. More keyword rankings and traffic won’t result in sales if the visitors they generate aren’t interested in your products. This just lowers your conversion rate.

Thinking through the full customer funnel (including post-sale!) when setting KPIs helps you stay on track. We recommend starting with an analysis of your SEO metrics and their effect on your eCommerce business’s bottom line KPI’s.

These main eCommerce KPI’s are:

Main eCommerce KPIs

  • Online Sales
  • Conversion rate
  • Average order value
  • Customer lifetime value

Painting a picture of how your current SEO is affecting the KPI’s above can help you make data-informed decisions to improve them. Then, you can approach SEO strategically in pursuit of those KPI’s.

eCommerce SEO Metrics to Analyze

When onboarding clients, we assess the health of their SEO by looking at the following metrics:

  • Rankings (for target keywords, and the overall view of all keywords)
  • Impressions / Pageviews (in buckets of branded vs. non-branded keywords — both are important.)
  • Clicks and Click-Through Rate (CTR)
  • Website Sessions / Users (sometimes we’ll look at session duration)
  • New Users
  • Bounce Rate/Exit Rate
  • Conversion Rate
  • Domain Authority/Rank
  • Incoming Links

These metrics can feel like a lot to consider. But combined, they paint a picture of:

  • How people are getting to your website
  • Who those people are
  • How they behave on your site’s pages

It takes a certain amount of digging, but once you have that information, you can target specific SEO tactics.

The question is: What SEO tactics can improve the KPI’s linked to profit — such as revenue and conversions?

3 Valuable eCommerce SEO Tactics

Content marketing, link building, and technical SEO are three tactics that can lead to a revenue increase when you implement them strategically.

For example:

  • If bounce rates are high and conversion rates are low:

You can perform a content audit to identify low-performing pages to prune. You can also add strategic content designed to get traffic and conversions from better quality visitors.

  • If your Domain Authority or Domain Rating is lower than your competitors’:You can build links to your eCommerce website to increase its Domain Authority (a Moz metric) and Domain Rating (a similar Ahrefs metric). This can help the likelihood of ranking above your competitors in search engine results pages (SERPs).

Building good links to your website can also bring in additional referral traffic.

The result? More relevant traffic from search engines that increases your sales, revenue, and other main KPI’s.

When it comes to SEO there are many variables involved, a few major ones being:

  • Your website itself and its current SEO status
  • The industry you are in
  • The search results and competitors relevant to that industry

As you can imagine, these vary quite a bit. Considering these variables is our starting point for developing effective eCommerce SEO strategies for our clients.

So, how do we frame thinking around PPC?

eCommerce PPC Metrics

eCommerce PPC Metrics

PPC can be a huge growth driver for online retailers. But just as with SEO and CRO, identifying which PPC strategies to implement and how they affect the bottom line KPIs is the first step.

One of the biggest principles that frames our thinking around eCommerce PPC is that not all PPC efforts are aimed at the same goal.

This is why when we work with clients, choosing the right KPIs and setting the right targets is an ever-evolving and necessary conversation.

We can’t tell you what a good conversion rate or ROAS target is for your business based on general trends. We can only tell you what a good one would be to start with, set a baseline, and then improve or recalibrate based on the results.

There is also a larger marketing ecosystem outside of PPC. For instance, if we decide to push some Brand Awareness campaigns heavily, that is almost certain to “negatively” impact conversion rate as that traffic is not intended to convert (and, typically, it represents a lot of traffic).

Below, you’ll learn:

  • How different PPC campaigns target different goals
  • The KPI’s to focus on for different campaigns and goals
  • Why focusing on the wrong KPI’s for the wrong campaigns can lead to big mistakes

Let’s start with how to think about the most obvious PPC metric: Return on Ad Spend (ROAS).

Return On Ad Spend (ROAS)

The most common question we get when working with clients is: “If we spend ‘X’ dollars, how much revenue will we generate?” (The return on ad spend or “ROAS”).

The answer is always “it depends,” because it does depend on many factors. Starting with the individual business.

For example, a well-established brand in any industry can get better performance out of non-branded search and shopping campaigns. Meanwhile, newer brands may struggle more.

Not all PPC campaigns should be judged by the same KPI such as ROAS. Some businesses tend to focus on brand awareness strategies (which are non-ROAS focused) to further establish themselves as the primary brand for that product.

We have attained a high ROAS such as 1,700% for some clients. But because of their particular industries, the maturity of their business, their pricing, or product margins: a high ROAS like this is “ok” to “good” in terms of their revenue growth.

By contrast, we have some clients who we’ve gained a 1,000% ROAS for, and this was stellar for them. Other clients are in the 300%-500% range and are still doing great.

This is why we charge for our PPC services using a value-based retainer. Rather than an hourly rate or charging by % of ad spend, this pricing model accounts for the range of variables involved and the range of services our PPC team provides to reach client goals.

Here are the KPI’s we recommend you keep in mind for each stage of the PPC sales funnel:

Bottom Funnel: Search, Shopping, and Remarketing

The campaigns that should be ROAS focused are at the bottom of the funnel.

Google Ads campaigns such as Search*, Shopping, and remarketing, are often built around driving revenue. For these, revenue and ROAS tend to make sense as metrics to start working toward initially.

*Note: Not all Search campaigns are bottom of the funnel. Brand awareness Search campaigns are a top of funnel tactic that we’ll get into in a moment.

We typically see branded Search and Shopping campaigns yield the highest ROAS. These are followed by, non-brand campaigns, with remarketing somewhere in between the latter in terms of ROAS.

What about non-Google campaigns such as Facebook Ads? Social remarketing campaigns* can definitely perform well here. Consumer products would be well-suited for social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. Meanwhile, B2B products may be more suited for the professional audience on LinkedIn.

*Note: Not all social remarketing campaigns are bottom of the funnel either. This refers to social remarketing campaigns intended to generate a direct purchase.

Once these campaigns are driving a profit, those initial revenue and ROAS stats become less important as indicators.

There are other beneficial but less obvious metrics that we will work toward such as customer lifetime value (CLV), cost-per-acquired customer (CAC), and reach, but they come into play only once we have a better understanding of the client’s business and its needs.

Middle of Funnel Lead Nurturing and Remarketing Campaigns

Remarketing campaigns are relatively straightforward: revenue is the main KPI. You can adjust the placement and creative of these campaigns to improve their conversion rate, and thus revenue.

Many eCommerce businesses also collect and nurture leads. Rather than aiming toward direct revenue — as the goal would be in a remarketing campaign — the cost per lead and conversion rate is a good metric to measure how effectively you are building your audience over time.

For instance, you may be aiming a campaign toward newsletter signups to convert them later through email marketing. Or directing traffic at a lead form to initiate a follow-up sales call. Knowing your cost per lead and conversion rate of those leads allows you to make informed decisions regarding targeting.

If a certain demographic from your leads converts better, you can continue to push more of that audience down the funnel or through the customer journey.

Top of Funnel Search Campaigns

Top of funnel eCommerce advertising campaigns are aimed at building brand awareness. The attribution model for success for brand awareness is a bit different because the conversions that result aren’t necessarily direct. They may happen months later without attribution.

Measuring these PPC campaign types against ROAS would be a huge mistake and such campaigns are almost certainly set up for failure. Higher funnel advertising tactics are aimed toward getting a store’s name and brand messaging out there rather than direct revenue.

For top of funnel campaigns, the main metrics we pay attention to are:

Top of Funnel PPC Campaign Metrics

  • Reach
  • Impression Share
  • Click-Through Rate (CTR)
  • Cost per Click (CPC)
  • Cost per Mille (CPM)
  • Frequency

The goal is to push as many impressions as you can at a reasonable CPC or CPM to improve your reach.

At the same time, you don’t want to overexpose your ads too many times to the same person and cause ad fatigue. Frequency measures the exposure of your ads to the same people.

Note: The advertising channel you place a top of funnel campaign on affects the metrics you look at. Considerations change between Google Search Ads, Google Display Network ads, YouTube ads, and Social media ads (e.g. Facebook and Instagram).

  • Reach

Reach measures how many individual people see your ads.

For Google Search Ads, reach is not necessarily a metric that is widely measured because these ads are driven by demand (a user actually typing in the keywords into the search engine and triggering an ad).

For social media ads, you want to aim for a high reach because it means more individuals are becoming aware of your brand.

That is why paid social (among other top of funnel channels) is so important: to help generate a greater demand for your brand that the bottom funnel paid search campaigns can help capture.

  • Impression Share

Impression share is calculated by dividing actual impressions on your ads by their total eligible impressions. This metric is uniquely important as a measure of your overall performance once a campaign has been running for some time.

Once your ads have a profitable CPC, impression share is a valuable indicator of the extent to which your ads are reaching the target audience.

This metric can tell you if your campaign has the potential to continue working, or whether you should turn it off. A low impression share means the campaign can keep going, a high impression share means there are not many people left to reach with your ads.

  • Click-Through Rate (CTR)

CTR is correlated with how relevant and effective your ads are for the audience you’re advertising them to.

A low CTR means people aren’t interested in your ad or its messaging, and a high CTR means they like your ad and/or your messaging.

Impression share and CTR together tell you how many people are left to reach with your ads and whether they find those ads relevant enough to click on.

As you might suspect, changing your ad targeting and messaging is how to increase CTR.

  • CPC

For Search ads, CPC’s are going to be more important than CPM. And it varies widely depending on the industry.

For instance, a click for “used cameras” could be anywhere between $0.50-$100 in the reasonable range. A click on a “Personal Injury Lawyer” can be anywhere from $50-$200, depending on location and auction competition.

To measure ad performance accurately, we recommend becoming more familiar with the typical CPC range for your industry and the products you sell.

  • CPM

Cost-per-mille (CPM) measures the cost per thousand impressions of your ad or landing page.

On Google Display Network and YouTube, CPM of your ads is going to be much more important. What that ideal CPM number looks like is largely anchored by whether the campaign is prospecting against new audiences, or re-engaging via retargeting campaigns:

A CPM on prospecting should be substantially lower because the audience is much lower, and thus frequency is going to be ~1 ideally.

A CPM on retargeting is going to be much higher, and depending on the size of the retargeting list, could range from $5 – $20.

  • Frequency

Frequency measures how many times each person sees your ads.

It’s important to ensure your ads aren’t being seen too much by the same people to a point where it could turn them off to your brand.

Our general guideline on healthy numbers for frequency are:

PPC Frequency Guidelines

  • Top of funnel ads: Less than 2x frequency
  • Middle of funnel ads: About 2x or 3x frequency
  • Bottom of funnel ads: About 4x frequency

If conversion rates significantly start to go down as frequency goes up, this could be a signal that your ads are being overexposed.

Conversion Rates from PPC Traffic

Conversion rates can vary greatly based on the product, its cost to the consumer, and competitive pricing for that product.

In some cases, a low conversion rate can be highly profitable as the AOV is high, as are margins. In some cases, a conversion rate can be off the charts but not profitable as margins are so razor-thin.

In general:

  • Branded search campaigns (such as “Apple” or “Apple airpods”) should have the highest conversion rates.
  • Non-brand Google Shopping campaigns should be the next highest.
  • Non-brand search campaigns (such as “wireless earbuds”) come after shopping campaigns.
  • Remarketing campaigns tend to fall somewhere in between the last two.

Attribution

Finally, all of this should be grounded by good and accurate tracking. For instance, even with revenue-driving tactics, are you sure you’re tracking all revenue?

For example, some eCommerce businesses do a good amount of sales (30%+) from phone orders.

This traffic source will not be tracked in Google Analytics or other tracking tools without call tracking set up (and double-checking to make sure that you are getting results attributed to the appropriate campaigns from your call tracking provider).

Multi-channel attribution is necessary to ensure that you are accurately measuring your results. Yet, many retailers still have blind spots in their attribution tracking.

We recommend attributing as many sales as you can to the channels they came from so that you can make better-informed marketing decisions.

How SEO, PPC, and CRO Work Together

Let’s quickly consider a couple more aspects of how SEO, CRO, and PPC are integrated.

One specific benefit of SEO is that it can actually improve your conversion rate and your PPC campaigns as a cross-over effect.

For example, improving the quality of your landing pages in terms of their SEO often involves adding better content like images and text to the page. These improvements to a page’s quality can often help improve the conversion rate of that optimized page because visitors may have more trust and interest as a result of the added content.

Additionally, improving PPC targeting to more relevant audiences and/or doing SEO to target those same audiences with content can also help improve the conversion rate.

As complementary practices, SEO, PPC, and CRO are true drivers of eCommerce business growth.

What Are Your eCommerce Store’s Next Marketing Benchmarks?

We hope this discussion has shown you how comparing your business’s KPI’s to general averages is not the frame of thinking that leads to growth. The general theme here is:

  1. Make sure you’re profitable.
  2. Keep improving that profit by identifying and improving the metrics that contribute to it the most.

When we work with new clients, we holistically assess the health of their PPC, SEO, or CRO (or all three) to find out where the biggest levers for their business are.

As these three digital marketing practices affect each other, and work better in tandem, we hope you choose to pursue all three.

Note: If you would like our expert team to assess your eCommerce website’s marketing and make data-driven recommendations to drive growth, get in touch with us here or use the form below.