If you’re a small business owner and don’t know where to start with your digital marketing or if you are looking to start a small business, don’t worry. With the help of a great digital marketing plan for e-commerce, you can connect with your customers for long-term success.
And how do you build a digital marketing plan? Here you’ll learn all the necessary steps to create a great digital marketing plan that will help your small business grow and have a successful future.
Normally, being a small business has never been easy and big international companies make it more difficult to survive in the market. But it has been even more difficult with the current situation of the COVID-19 pandemic, restrictions and the impact it has had in the economy. They have had it very rough to stay afloat and keep running.
However, if you’re a small business owner looking to improve your situation, you should consider e-commerce and look at its growth this past year. By May of 2020, ecommerce transactions reached $82.5 billion — a 77% increase from 2019.
What is e-commerce
Ecommerce is defined as the business model that consists of buying and selling of goods and services over the internet. This type of commerce can be a substitute for the traditional brick and mortar shops, though many business owners decide to combine both for a wider reach.
There are different models of e-commerce. Some of them are: B2B, B2C, C2C, C2B. You should learn more about them and decide which one suits more your products/services.
Now that you know a little bit more about e-commerce, let’s dive into how to build a great digital marketing plan for your e-commerce small business.
E-commerce Digital Marketing Plan
Digital Marketing Strategy
The first and one of the most important parts of any marketing plan is the strategy. Because it will be the base for all the marketing actions you take and what will determine the success of the marketing campaigns.
The strategy starts with an analysis of the current situation of your business. And it doesn’t matter if you’re an already stablished business or are looking to start a new business.
To do so you could use the SWOT analysis. It’s a tool for assessing your business idea/model. Additionally, allows you to improve your chances for a successful business and addressing possible gaps or mistakes in your idea that could be solved.
The SWOT analysis consists in taking time on examining your idea to determine the strengths and weaknesses of your business model. Then looking around you at your environment and economic, political and technological state to determine what opportunities or threats you could face when you start your business.
Another important part of any digital marketing plan is stablishing the brand. How do you want your customers to see you. Also, what do you want to identify with.
Branding is really important because it will be the way to communicate your business’ identity and values. Because it impacts your potential customers, how they will see you and how they will recognise you.
First you want to decide what do you want to communicate with your brand. For example, are you a more professional business or are you a creative business. For this reason, you should write down your core values and the identity you want.
Once you have decided this, you can start thinking about what colours are you going to use for the brand. Furthermore, you’ll need to create content and your logo. Likewise, they play an important role in connecting the identity and the image.
At Entrepreneur you can find great tips on how to develop your brand.
Next, you need to know your ideal customers. Now that you have a clear idea on who you are and what your business is. For instance, who do you imagine buying your products or services, the people who will connect with your business.
To explain, they are the buyer persona. According to Hubspot, they are “semi-fictional representations of your ideal customers based on data and research.”
- Demographic data like age, work and family situation, income, etc. This data will help you define how they spend their money. Certainly, it’s essential to understand this about your buyer persona.
- Behavioural data including their preferred social media platforms, how much time they spend on them, where and how they buy on the internet, etc. This data will help you choose the best platforms and channels to reach them and how to do it.
- Motivations, objectives and challenges when buying on the internet. Understanding the pain points of your customers can help you solve them and thus, create an attractive business.
To create the buyer persona, you’ll need:
Defining the buyer persona will help you adapt your products or services to your customers. Additionally, allows you to target them more effectively. Overall, is a great way to reach them and cater to their needs. Here you have some examples of buyer personas to get some inspiration.
After getting an idea of who your ideal customer is, you can start working on your goals. With this in mind, you will need them to keep track of your digital marketing plan. As well as to materialise the idea of what do you want to achieve with the strategy.
To write goals that will really help you, they need to be SMART goals. Meaning Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Timely. For this reason, at WorkLife you’ll find the perfect guide on how to do so.
Equally important is the budget. You have to decide how much you want to spend on your marketing. Then allocate it between the different platforms and tactics. The budgeting will change depending on a few factors. First, if you have an established business already or starting a new one.
For those of you who are already running a business, you’ll look first at what is already working and what is not. Take time to examine which channels are most effective and the cost of each one. As a result, this will tell you where to cut some of the budget if you know it doesn’t work. Otherwise, increase it if it has the potential of attracting many customers.
On the other hand, if you’re just starting your business, you won’t have any previous data to look at. Then, a good option is to look at your goals and look at what you want to achieve. Decide how you want to carry them and then create an excel sheet to keep track of it. In the future, adapt it as you grow your business.
Another factor to keep in mind is that the budget will change depending on your business’ life cycle stage. Each stage has different needs for the marketing budget.
When selling products or services over the internet is important to define your prices. They will play an important role for your customers when comparing you with your competitors. Your pricing strategy has to be moulded to your business and its values, depending if it’s based on pricing or quality. There are 5 pricing strategies:
- Cost based pricing
- Value based pricing
- Competitive pricing
- Price skimming
- Penetration pricing
When selling products over the internet, there are many options to choose from in terms of what channel you can use to do so. Your options will change if you decide to build your own website with an online shop or selling on online marketplaces.
You’ll want to build your own website, if you want more control over the products and how they are delivered to your customers. It means that you get to decide how the shop looks, how your products look on the website, even control the stock. This option is great for those who want to be present in the whole process from putting it online to getting the product to the customer.
On the other hand, if you prefer to leave the stock, delivery and more technical details to others you can also choose to sell your products in an online marketplace. They are e-commerce platforms that offer many products from many different sellers. Some of the most popular ones are Amazon, Ebay, Etsy or Facebook. They have a big audience and if your main objective is to get to a wider audience fast and forget about the details of how to deliver your products or managing the stock.
For established businesses it could also be a good idea to look into online marketplaces if you want to expand your audience. All in all, there some pros and cons for both options and you should consider what is best for your business.
Digital Marketing Content
Now, after you have drawn out your strategy, it’s time to think about your content. If you want to succeed in an era dominated by social media and the internet, you need to think about how you will attract and engage potential customers to your business.
You will need some tools to manage your content, talk with your employees or colleagues and manage your time. Not only this will help you be more organised and have a consistent content creation. But it will also help you manage it more easily and be able to see ahead what its being posted.
Here is a list of some tools that are really helpful. They allow you to create graphics, schedule posts, manage social media, etc. and you can use them for your digital marketing campaign.
The next step is thinking about what your content strategy will look like. Content marketing is really important for your business, so create a strategy that will help you connect with your audience. You’ll need to think about:
- Frequency of posting: are you posting once a week, daily… This will need to meet your potential customers habits and behaviour on social media.
- Social media platforms: Instagram, Facebook, twitter…
- Content calendar: you’ll need it to keep track of what is being posted, when, and make sure the ones writing the content are meeting the deadlines.
- Topics to talk about: use tools like answerthepublic to discover what topics are being searched by your audience and talk about them.
- Keyword research: do a research about what keywords are important to include in your content related to your business.
If you have an established business, it is also useful to do a content audit. Frequently, check how your content is doing, what is working and what could be improved.
In your digital marketing plan, there needs to be a competitor analysis. For the purpose of discovering what is it your competitors are offering right now. In detail, how they cover the needs of their customers (who are also your potential customers), what they use to attract them. Especially, what gaps are there that you could fill.
Check their social media, their website, how their products are being marketed, what is their value proposition. All of this will help you get an idea of how you could compete with them and discover the way to steal the spotlight.
To help you with the competitor analysis here’s a video explaining how to do it in 6 easy steps
Finally, it is time to think about how you are going to measure your success with the digital marketing plan. The way to do this is with KPIs. To explain, they are a quantifiable measure, or metric, that is used to gauge the achievement of certain goals. Here is a useful guide with everything you need to know about KPIs and how to use them.
In summary, if you want to succeed with your e-commerce business is important that you start developing your own digital marketing plan. Remember to do a thorough analysis of not only your business idea and your offer but also your environment and competitors.
This will help you be able to face your competition and try to attract potential customers in an effective way. Focus on covering your customers’ needs and selling yourself in a way that will pique their interest. Then don’t forget to keep a loyal customer base for the long run.
Estefania Galvan, Content Marketing Analyst at IIDM. A bit about me: I am interested in digital marketing, SEO and paid media. Personally, my hobbies include cinema, fashion and sustainability. If you would like to chat about any of these topics, you can connect with me on linkedin.