Creating Your 2022 E-Commerce Marketing Plan
If you operate an E-Commerce store, a marketing plan is non-negotiable. Sure, random social media posts and a few SEO keywords could generate some sales, but a proper marketing plan allows for longevity, growth, and consistent revenue.
Ultimately, marketing has one broad goal: direct your product or service to a targeted audience in the most seamless and cost-effective way possible. The overarching idea is pretty straightforward, but building an actual plan and getting the ball rolling can sometimes feel daunting. So much so that telling someone they need a marketing plan is often met with hesitation and “I just don’t know where to start” pushback. So, let’s go through the process of creating one.
1. What is an E-Commerce Marketing Plan?
Imagine you want to take a trip from the east coast to the west. You could, in theory, just hop in your car and figure out the route along the way without a GPS or map. It would probably work, but at what cost? You’d surely run into wrong turns and hiccups along the way.
Instead, you could simply use a GPS and get through your trip much more efficiently.
A marketing plan works like that GPS. It sets up everything you need to do for the coming months or year, giving you a roadmap to easily follow along the way. Let’s look at what makes up a marketing plan.
2. Components of an E-Commerce Marketing Plan
A marketing strategy is going to be different for each business. But at its core, the plan should include a few main components that you can then customize to fit your unique business.
Set a Goal
First, what is your goal for the next year? It could be to gain customers, drive traffic to your store, drive product sales, etc. Define what works for you.
What’s important here is that your goal is measurable. This means you need to put a number to it. Do you want to increase web traffic? Great! But by how much? 1% or 20%? Define something measurable so you can compare and track progress.
Secondly, make sure your goal is tangible and realistic. Your goals should be attainable to motivate progress and promote growth. It also gives you the opportunity to continue growing when this plan closes and you move into a new plan in the future.
Define Your Audience
Next, define your audience. Are you a sports apparel company targeting younger people interested in athletics and the gym? Or, are you a men’s fashion brand looking to direct your marketing plan to older men who like custom-tailored clothing?
Not every customer has the same interests, hobbies, or lifestyles, and each company should have a unique and specific audience. Defining these things ahead of time is going to help you target your marketing efforts later on.
Set a Budget
In this phase, define how many marketing dollars your company can spend. Marketing requires you to spend money to make money, and that is why identifying your goal and audience early is important. You don’t want to waste money on the wrong audience.
You want to ensure that your money and energy are being used effectively because nothing is worse than spending a chunk of money to run ads that barely get any clicks. Be sure to give yourself a limit to spend, but again, be realistic and remember to align your spending with what is working.
While we can’t predict the future, we can anticipate trends. Consider taking some time to look at where your market is heading by researching trends and current events in E-Commerce and your particular industry. Are certain types of products seeing an uptick in sales? Are any product materials gaining popularity? Are there any volatile political shifts threatening production or shipping (i.e. tariffs)? These things can all impact your business, so it’s important to account for any potential circumstances and trends.
You have to keep an eye on what the market is going to potentially do in the coming months and years (sometimes even weeks). If the market takes a left turn and you go right, your store will certainly suffer the consequences. Creating your E-commerce marketing plan to fit what may happen in the future will ensure that your plan and your business stay fluid and can move with the times.
If you have an E-commerce store, you automatically have some sort of competitor. Finding and identifying current and future competitors is extremely important as it can guide your decision-making and help you uncover an advantage. Let’s dig a bit deeper with a SWOT Analysis.
3. SWOT Analysis
A SWOT Analysis is a tried-and-true method for identifying your business’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. This method allows you to analyze your brand to uncover what is and isn’t working, and to identify gaps that you can fill. Use this to hone in on your company’s key selling points and uncover things that the market is missing. Then, incorporate those discoveries into your marketing plan.
How does your business excel? What sets it apart from competitors? What is that magic factor that you provide that others don’t? Examples could include outstanding customer service, top-notch products, unique and creative materials, or strong brand awareness. When you define these key strengths, you can leverage them as selling points.
What are some things that your business could improve? What is holding your company back? These could include poor ad targeting, an undefined target audience, low-quality products, or poor customer service. Though these are negative, the first step in improving your overall company structure is to identify them! Once you’ve uncovered these blockages, you can define a plan to fix them.
Though weaknesses are internal opportunities for improvement, this part of the analysis focuses on external opportunities. When you look at your market and your competitors, what’s missing? Is it a certain type of product? An opportunity for expansion? A more efficient assembly method? Opportunities can be anywhere, and as a business owner (especially in E-Commerce), it’s important to remain on the lookout. Anything you define in this step can be implemented into your marketing plan to promote company growth and innovation.
Finally, we have threats. This part of the analysis focuses on things that could negatively impact the business. These include things like higher costs of materials, increasing ad costs, or closely similar competitors. These are important to define to stay one step ahead.
4. Form the Plan
Once you have clearly defined your goals, audience, budget, trends, and competitors and you have conducted your SWOT Analysis, it’s time to put everything together and define the strategies you will use throughout your E-Commerce marketing plan.
In short, these are the methods your business will use to reach your goal, and they could be comprised of online product campaigns, social media content, etc.
For example, if your goal is to increase revenue, strategies could include pushing more Facebook ads, conducting influencer campaigns, or sticking to a content marketing strategy.
Once you’ve determined 2-3 key strategies, I recommend breaking them down into smaller steps that you can tackle weekly or even daily. Make them digestible and remember that small steps build upon one another to reach a larger goal.
Don’t overthink things. Instead, remember that you can revisit and refine your plan at any point throughout the year! The important thing is that you create the plan in the first palace, as it’s going to position you steps ahead of where you were before.
So, what do you say? Are you ready to take action and kick off 2022 with an E-Commerce marketing plan? Happy creating!
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Yours in success,