A Marketing Strategy Template For E-commerce Startups

Customer acquisition is the first question every marketer thinks of. Especially when you are doing marketing for a startup.

For an eCommerce firm, customer acquisition might be one of the biggest challenges as :

  • You are competing with a world where your industry is growing like crazy.
  • Advertisers and investors in the startup space are ready to invest money in unlimited quantity.
  •  The average customer is super distracted and has an attention span of less than 3 seconds on the internet.

If your marketing team doesn’t have an eye for controlling the cost of customer acquisition, things can go out of hand.

A successful eCommerce marketing strategy needs to be data driven, scalable and fit well with your ROI equation.

In this post, we are going to talk about how to develop a framework/template for acquiring customers and scale your processes. Here is what we will be discussing :

  • Who is the right customer to acquire ?
  • How to entice users to become customers?
  • Running a thorough  competitive analysis.
  • Choosing the right marketing platforms.
  • Running a marketing experiment and validating.
  • Gathering your learning.
  • Building a scalable framework.

1. Which Customers Should You Acquire?

 

Startups thinking that everyone is their customer won’t go very far. You need to narrow down your audience using a detailed customer/buyer persona, understand where they hang out and reach them there.

It all starts with understanding your target market.

Here is a handy customer/audience persona template that I always use. Thanks to the guys at Buffer for building this!

Customer-Persona
Picture Credits : Bufferapp.com

Let’s take an example of an eCommerce firm here.

Say our eCommerce firm sells baby products online and product delivery is available in urban/Tier 1 cities. In this case, who is your customer?

The majority of your customer base would be parents.

Are all parents (of young children) your audience? Hello no!

Your target audience is parents who

  • Are busy enough to make time for physical shopping. Does that say something about the nature of their work/job roles? Of-course yes.
  • Are digitally/tech savvy enough to place their trust in a platform like yours.
  • Have kids in an age range for which your company has the best products at a price better than competitors.

Let’s get our hands dirty with building the buyer persona :

Name  John Doe/ Jessica Bolton
Age Range 25-35 ( millennial audience)
Salary  $70,000-$120,000 per year
Job Role Manager/Team Lead/Senior Manager/CEO
Location Tier 1 cities with corporate lifestyle
Marital status Married with 1-2 kids under 7 years of age
Their goals and challenges Work life balance, finding enough time for home, saving time for shopping and other chores.
How can we help? Provide value to them with quality baby products to save time and money.
Where do they hang out online? Google search, Facebook, News apps, Parenting sites
Ways to reach them SEM, social ads, display ads on parenting sites

 

2. Deciding On Your Landing Pages

When it comes to eCommerce landing pages, you could win (or lose) your customer’s trust based on the same.

Despite a plethora of content on the internet about landing pages, eCommerce startups still fail to build pages which will convince customers.

Here are some components of a  beautiful landing page for eCommerce businesses :

  • High quality pictures with zoom in features and multiple angles.
  • Descriptive and clear product description which would entertain all concerns for a user.
  • Reviews and trust score to gain more credibility.
  • Enabling live chat on your pages.
  • Shipping and return policies communicated clearly.

Here is the perfect anatomy by Wiser.com on how eCommerce pages should look like. You can easily use this as your eCommerce landing page template.

Ecommerce-Landing-page

 

3. Competitive Analysis

When you are in the eCommerce world, there’s competition everywhere. Every other day, you will notice a new startup coming up and a funding round going through.

With that in mind, how can you survive in such an industry where every competitor is constantly looking to poach your customers?

The best way is to learn from your competitors. There’s so much to learn from your eCommerce competition.

One of the best templates I discovered was this one.

It talks about rating your competitors on a scale and realising gaps and opportunities. If you are an eCommerce marketer/owner, you should definitely run this analysis:

 

ecommerce-competitive-analysis

 

After running such an analysis, the chances of improving your website and marketing would definitely increase. In fact, I would suggest you to run such an analysis  every 90 days.

4. Choosing The Right Marketing Platforms

After consulting over 40 startups, I have realised that most eCommerce firms still struggle with choosing which platforms to invest in.

This is directly related to your customer persona. You need to invest in different platforms depending on where your ideal customer hangs out. Here is some information that will help you decide the different channels you should invest in

Platform Type  Channels To Invest In
Clothing and accessories Social Media And Influencers
Travel Search Engine ads
Education/Training Search Engine Ads
Food Social ads, PR and Influencer Marketing

 

 

5. Run and Validate Marketing Experiments

One of the best growth hacking strategies is to build multiple marketing hypothesis after studying your persona and competition.

 

Invest a minimal budget in your marketing experiments and quickly validate results.

 

Let’s take our existing example of an eCommerce startup that sells baby care products. Till now, you understand that the persona is an urban, digitally savvy and busy parent.

If you’ve followed this post properly, you would have done a competitive analysis as well.

Some of the networks where this target persona would be hanging out digitally would be

  • Parenting blogs.
  • Facebook via their smartphone.
  • Google search.

This is our initial hypothesis. We have to test this and validate our results. What would I do here?

Put $100 in all the channels and test results.

Here are some numbers that I would be looking further to study

Parameters/Networks Display Ads on Parenting Blogs Facebook Ads Google Search Ads
Cost per click $1 $0.5 $0.75
Conversion % 3% 2.5% 1.5%
Cost Of Acquisition $33.33 $20 $50

 

After spending $300 and a week of crunching numbers, I can say that Facebook ads (which didn’t have the best conversion%) are providing customers at a much inexpensive price.

From here, I would know where to put my next set of ad investment!

6. Build Your Marketing Framework

Startup marketing never stops here. Once you have validated the one or two channels which work for you, you can not rely on them for life.

Say for example, if Facebook ads were giving you the best cost of acquisition and you go ahead with investing $10,000 in them, after a while, Facebook will run out of people it can target in your target demographic.

This is because any network has a specific reach and you can not pour unlimited resources and get everything from one channel.

What’s the best way then?

The best way is to always keep experimenting and discover new methods of acquisition. For example, if I had to proceed with this project after validating Facebook ads, I would

  • Set a moderate amount of money for Facebook ads.
  • Experiment how to encourage existing customers for referrals.
  • Start investing in building relationships with influencers who can talk about my brand.
  • Invest in content marketing to get better organic results.

Growth hacking never stops. And that’s the fun part!

Over To You

Have you tried something like this yet or are you looking forward to implement this framework? I’d love to know how things are working out for you.

Feel free to get in touch with us for any marketing help with eCommerce projects- contact[at]marketingmasala[dot]com

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About Shivankit Arora

A marketing enthusiast by choice and an engineer on paper,Shivankit loves strategising marketing plans and implementing the same. Out of work, he can be found making his next travel plan. You can reach him at shivankit@marketingmasala.com