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What Is Ecommerce Marketing And How It Works?

Growth Marketing

Are you feeling overwhelmed by all the marketing activities ecommerce experts say you should be doing?

Would you like a simple plan to grow your ecommerce business that is based on fundamental strategies and best practices that work?

Today I'm going to show you:

  • What ecommerce marketing actually means.

  • A simple 12-month marketing plan you can follow right now.

  • Three marketing channels fundamental for ecommerce success.

  • A 4-part marketing funnel you can use to turn visitors into repeat customers.

  • Advanced ecommerce marketing strategies the pros use.

  • Tools, resources, and best practices to grow your ecommerce business long term.

You can skip ahead to the section you want to read below.


What Is Ecommerce Marketing?

Ecommerce marketing is promoting your store to potential customers through a variety of marketing channels. The goal is to get people who are interested in your products to visit your store and buy from you.

When you break it down, this is what it looks like:

  1. Drive traffic to your online store.

  2. Convert traffic into leads.

  3. Convert leads into sales.

To see how it’s done, keep reading.

Ecommerce Marketing Plan

The first thing to focus on is driving traffic to your online store.

And you’ll want to do it year-round.

To help you, we put together a 12-month marketing plan you can follow.

Each month has one actionable strategy you can follow to drive more traffic, get more leads, and grow your customer base. Take a look, then come back for your next steps.

Read The 12-Month Ecommerce Marketing Plan

Ecommerce Marketing Channels

Today, there are so many marketing channels you could be using: email, content, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube, SEO, affiliates, SMS, chatbots, and influencers.

But the key to success is to not get overwhelmed. Focus on one to three channels, master them, and then add in more channels.

Which three channels should you focus on?

From our experience, there are three marketing channels that are fundamental to ecommerce success:

  1. Email

  2. Content

  3. Video

If you master these three, everything else will become easier.

Let me explain why.

Besides your grandma, you probably don’t know a single person without an email address. Even 40% of people’s grandmas have an email address, based on this scientific poll of Sumos:

Screenshot showing google search results

That’s what makes email marketing such an important channel for your ecommerce business — email is something we all have in common.

Most people check it at least once per day.

That means if you build your email list, you’ll be able to get your message in front of your target audience.

Start with these 12 list-building strategies that work for all types of ecommerce businesses.

Read The 12 Email List Building Strategies

After you’ve started growing your email list, you need to keep your subscribers engaged so they keep opening and clicking your emails. 

Sending content to your subscribers (like articles, videos, and podcasts) is one of the best ways to do this. 

Content marketing is how ecommerce companies like Bulletproof, Kettle & Fire, and Perfect Keto have grown to multimillion dollar businesses.

But how do you know what’s going to work?

  • What topic should you write about?

  • How often should you publish?

  • How long should your articles be?

  • Are backlinks or social shares more important?

We analyzed 6,868 blog posts across 88 ecommerce companies to find the answers for you.

Follow the findings from our research to make content your subscribers love, and reach more of your potential customers.

Read The Ecommerce Content Marketing Research

Content is great, but once people are looking to buy, you need a way to show them what your product can do.

That’s where video marketing comes in.

Video on your product pages will help convince people your product is right for them.

You can also use it to complement your content marketing, like Rob Dyer decided to do after reading the tips in our video marketing post.

Screenshot showing google search results

Take a look at our best video marketing tips and five types of product videos you can use.

Read The Ecommerce Video Marketing Tips

Most people make the mistake of trying to promote their business with paid traffic right away. Don’t do that. Master the fundamental channels first; once your message resonates organically, you can start testing paid ads.

Once you’ve got these three fundamental marketing channels mastered, you can start exploring other channels.

Now let’s move on to how you can find the right marketing mix for your business as you grow. This is where you start adding social media and paid traffic to your marketing channels (on top of the three marketing channels we went over above).

To show you how to do it, we put together a guide to help you find the perfect mix for your business.

Read The Ecommerce Marketing Mix Guide

Ecommerce Marketing Funnel

Once you’ve got your marketing mix down, you’re going to need a profitable marketing funnel for all the traffic you’re driving to your store and all the email leads you’re capturing.

Here’s what a profitable funnel looks like:

  1. The Awareness Stage

  2. The Interest Stage

  3. The Purchase Stage

  4. The Repeat Purchase Stage

Paul Bass loved this funnel so much, he printed it out. 

Screenshot showing google search results

Why do you need a marketing funnel?

Unfortunately not everyone always purchases on the first touch (aka the first interaction with your business).

Sometimes it can take as many as 15 or 20 “touches” before people finally buy.

With that in mind, we created an ecommerce marketing funnel framework that will help you get multiple touches with your prospects while you move them from the “awareness” stage to the “repeat purchase” stage.

Here’s what Steve Ashby had to say after he read it:

Screenshot showing google search results

Inside, you’ll learn:

  • The four steps to building an effective marketing funnel.

  • Why it’s important to treat a prospect different at the “awareness stage” vs. the “interest stage.”

  • A real-life example of a marketing funnel you can copy.

Read The Ecommerce Marketing Funnel Guide

Ecommerce Marketing Strategies

As you continue to grow your business, you'll need a list of go-to strategies you can test to get new traffic, leads, and customers.

At Sumo, every month we use a list like this to test one new marketing strategy. If it works, we keep doing it. If it doesn’t, we move onto testing another strategy.

To make it easy for you, we put together a list of ecommerce-specific strategies that some of our top customers use. They don’t take a lot of time and can be easily outsourced.

Read The Ecommerce Marketing Strategies

If those strategies aren’t enough for you, we have even more marketing ideas to get you thinking about all the different ways you can:

  • Get more people coming to visit your store.

  • Optimize your email conversions.

  • Optimize your website conversions.

Read The List Of Ecommerce Marketing Ideas

Here are broader strategies that take more time to implement, but can have a longer-term impact on your business. They span marketing, conversion rate optimization, content, business models, delivery models, and more.

If you’re looking for big ideas that can move your ecommerce business forward, try one of these strategies.

Read The List Of Ecommerce Strategies

Just want a list of quick wins?

We have a list of five simple growth hacks.

No gimmicks. No tricks. No scams.

These are quick hacks you can use to boost your growth when you’re in a slump.

Read The List Of Ecommerce Growth Hacks

After researching all these strategies, ideas, and growth hacks, you might start feeling like there aren’t enough hours in the day to do everything.

That’s where marketing automation comes in.

You don’t need to be a computer scientist — or even know what AI means — to use automation.

To help you, we put together a list of some of the best ecommerce marketing automation systems and instructions on how to use them.

Read The Ecommerce Marketing Automation Guide

Ecommerce Marketing Tools

There are some bad business tools out there.

Frustrating email service providers. Confusing CRMs. Lame marketing tools.

But it’s also a lot of work to research, test, and move to a new tool — sometimes it's more comfortable to stick with what you have.

To save you time, we came up with a list of 20 tools that will help your ecommerce business grow. These tools help with all the marketing efforts I’ve gone over in this article.

Read The List Of Ecommerce Marketing Tools

For a list of the best tools directly related to Shopify, WordPress, WooCommerce, and Magento, check out the Ecommerce Marketing Resources section below.

Ecommerce Marketing Resources

Ecommerce Marketing Channels

Here are the marketing channels you can use to grow your ecommerce business, with instructions for each:

Ecommerce Marketing Best Practices

Check out the best practices you can use to grow your business:

Ecommerce Case Studies

Model success with this list of ecommerce case studies:

Ecommerce Marketing Tools

The best marketing tools you can use with your ecommerce platform:

Sumo Marketing Tools

Here’s a complete list of marketing tools Sumo has built to help you grow your ecommerce store:

What Should You Do Next?

If you’re serious about growing your ecommerce business, you’re probably going to want to stay current on the latest marketing strategies. 

At Sumo, we keep an up-to-date list of the strategies working right now for our top ecommerce customers.

If you’d like to get access to this list of strategies so you can model what the top businesses in ecommerce are doing to grow their business, click the button below.

Ecommerce Marketing Strategies Swipe File

Have a question about marketing your ecommerce business?

Tell us what you're selling in the comments, and the #1 thing you need help with right now.

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