Multichannel E-Commerce Marketing
Multichannel selling is an excellent strategy for growth. The challenge is that the word has already spread. Consequently, many sales channels are getting increasingly crowded and it is becoming more difficult for brands to stand out.
Trading on new marketplaces and retail channels is relatively simple. However, driving qualified traffic to your product listings is a different story. With such a wide array of options, convenience replaces loyalty. As a result, it is easy to lose customers to competitors. The same goes for all digital channels including brand websites and social media platforms.
Something else to remember is that online visibility is not just about e-commerce. Online visibility has a significant impact on consumers and their journey to purchase. It is crucial to place your products in front of the right audience throughout the full digital journey.
Driving Product Discovery Online
With the pressure to deliver results, online activities and marketing strategies are almost entirely focused on generating conversion, leaving little room for investment in driving discovery. This equates to many missed opportunities left on the table.
So, how can you maximize your business potential? The secret lies in three key elements: correct targeting, optimization and campaign segmentation. In fact, some channels that have traditionally fit a specific mold in the past (discovery or performance) can now serve as full-funnel channels.
Segmenting your audiences, targeting and launching campaigns to cover the entire funnel will enable you to adjust investment accordingly and give product discovery a push whenever needed.
For instance, we usually associate paid search advertising with the consideration stage of the funnel. But with the correct strategy, this channel can work to support every stage of the funnel.
Using Retail Media to Stand Out on Crowded Channels
Catching the eye of consumers is becoming more and more of a challenge when selling online. Unbound by the physical constraints of brick-and-mortar stores, online retailers typically sport more extensive assortments. And equally important, marketplaces have even fewer constraints on how many vendors they can list. There are 1 million active worldwide sellers on Amazon only, with about 2,000 new ones joining every day.
How can you give your listings the best chance for visibility?
That’s where retail media comes in. Jockeying for position on these highly competitive channels may sound like an impossible feat. But with the right strategy in place, it’s possible to perform exceedingly well. Many brands and retailers have managed to increase revenue, sometimes by as much as 422%, simply by developing the right retail media strategic plan.
Retail media includes any advertising activity across retail sites and online marketplaces. Generally, brands leverage advertising campaigns to increase product visibility and boost sales revenue.
Compared to other forms of advertising, retail media has a few advantages:
- It sits right within the shopping experience, making it easier for shoppers to convert
- It allows brands to target shoppers based on intent
- It natively tracks campaign performance from start to finish since the full journey happens within the same platform
The trade-off of retail media, on the other hand, is that online retailers and marketplaces are more often becoming pay-to-play. Indeed, as more search results (also known as digital shelf space) become tied to advertising, this leaves less room for organic product discovery and lowers profitability for businesses.
Top retail media platforms include Amazon Advertising, eBay Promoted Listings and Walmart Advertising.
Retail Media Best Practices
Every channel implements retail media services differently. Some of them are in the early stages, and their advertising capabilities are limited. Others have a well-developed offering including advanced consoles, automated bidding systems and in-depth reporting. In both instances, it is essential to build a strong plan to maximize your activity’s potential.
- Identify your main goals. Remember to consider your overall business objectives to ensure a holistic approach and avoid conflicts. Consider your direct KPIs and the impact on the overall business profitability (for instance, your margins).
- Create a granular and efficient structure. Utilize the platform’s capabilities and leverage ad formats and campaign segmentation correctly. This will ensure the right visibility for your business at each stage of the funnel.
- Focus your efforts on data analysis and account optimization. Identify the components that drive results in line with your goals but exclude those irrelevant to your objectives. This will allow you to implement a correct budget reallocation and strengthen your activity for long-term success.
Using Advertising to Drive Conversion
When it comes to driving conversion, retail media is king. Purchase intent is high and most options involve a native ad format that can serve a naturally embedded checkout experience. Unsurprisingly, retail media often comes with high conversion rates.
However, with most campaigns tied to search intent, there is a limited amount of ad space available. The cost of advertising can quickly creep up, especially for popular search terms. To stand out, a multichannel plan is key.
Channels like social media and search engine advertising, for example, offer lower ad costs. Social media channels give you access to specific segments who have shown interest in your or similar products. You can reach your prospects and existing customers at any funnel stage.
Search engines allow you to be present when users are actively starting and navigating the journey to purchase: firstly identifying a need, then finding the right product and finally picking the best brand.
The disadvantage of these channels is that typically they generate lower conversion rates for two reasons. The first reason is the long length of the journey. The second reason is that these campaigns are rarely optimized for fast checkout.
The user’s journey involves many steps before the actual purchase. With distractions always within a click, the user is more likely to abandon the funnel before converting.
Social Media Checkouts
Simplistically, social commerce is when e-commerce meets social media. It enables consumers to make purchases within Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and other social media ecosystems.
For years, social media has been used primarily as a resource for discovery. In the past, social media success involved a range of strategies that started with an advertising and organic activity and directed the journey to purchase outside of social platforms — whether that meant a brand’s website or transitioning over to Amazon listings.
Recent developments such as Facebook Marketplace and Instagram Checkout are drastically changing the scope of social commerce. Brands embrace a “less is more” approach to shorten the user’s journey to the bare minimum.
Rather than crafting strategies that involve days or weeks of consideration across multiple channels, sellers count on buy buttons for direct sales.
Most brands prefer to drive advertising traffic to their websites for profitability purposes. However, not all brands have a built-in e-commerce platform. This forces the user to leave the brand website and purchase the product from a retailer. The process disrupts the journey and increases the chance of losing the prospect somewhere along the way.
Even brands that have e-shops could lose sales. Nowadays, shoppers expect alternatives for comparison. Sometimes, shoppers only purchase a product from their preferred retailer.
The solution is to have brand campaigns linked directly to your preferred retailer sites or display a quick interstitial offering more purchase options. But make sure that links only drive traffic to pages with stock availability.
Product feeds and all the associated processes provide essential fuel for your campaigns.
Each advertising destination requires a set of unique attributes that enable the advertising campaigns to work. However, the destination requirements change frequently; therefore, there is a need for ongoing optimization.
If any of these requirements are not met, the advertising campaigns are not eligible to run.
How well you manage your product data feeds and the alignment with the performance activity will ultimately determine your long-term success.
Some of the best feed practices we can recommend include implementing steps to:
- Iterate on product titles. Always create titles based on a consistent structure (e.g., Brand + Attributes + Product Type + Model No).
- Approach each channel individually. Using your Google Shopping feed for Facebook or Instagram, for instance, may not be the best strategy.
- Showcase discounts and promos. This can lead to higher engagement with the ad and more relevant traffic for your products.
- Don’t operate feeds and advertising in silos. It’s usually better to have the same team operate both, or at least ensure smooth communication and alignment across activities.
Named #1 Channel Management provider by Digital Commerce 360 since 2013
ChannelAdvisor, a CommerceHub company, helps brands and retailers list their products across hundreds of channels, stand out with effective advertising, easily syndicate product data, provide a better path to purchase for customers, and make better business decisions with retail analytics.