As the sole e-commerce manager for my company, I’m tasked with developing and implementing plans with goals to increase: revenue, customers, transactions, average sale value, referrals, and feedback. Each of these metrics are, bottom-line, sales objectives. To put it simply: we aim to increase business.

There are so many tactics and activities used in e-commerce it can be overwhelming. You want a strategy to reach your audience, ensure your store converts into buyers, and foster these new relationships. Leveraging each steps of the sales process effectively against your resources (time and budget) is what will raise the bar on your goals.

What we need is a simple, surefire way to manage all of our marketing tactics. I like simple, and it is our company culture to cut out waste.

With those ideals in mind, here is a series I developed to help you strategize, prioritize, manage, and measure all elements of your your own e-commerce marketing plan.

This will be a 3 part series that will take some time and thinking on your part. However, if you follow my instructions over the next three days, you can have an e-commerce marketing strategy for 2017 drafted by the end of the week that includes:

1) A full organized inventory of all marketing tactics (Part 1)
1) Metrics to track performance with goals and projections for the upcoming year. (Part 2)
3) A project plan and schedule for all marketing activities and projects. (Part 3)

Let’s get started!

The Heirarchy of your E-commerce Marketing Plan

This three-tier division is designed to tie every aspect of your work to your big goals and objectives.

1) Objective-Based Groups – Groups of marketing tactics that share common objectives and goals. All of our objectives really boil down to customers – so the ideal marketing plan follows the relationship cycle with our customers from beginning to end. My plan has three distinct groups seperated by the stage in the sales process. They are very simply: “Reaching People”, “Storefront Conversions”, and “Customer Communications”. (I will explain these in more detail later.)

Underneath our objectives are our tactics….

2) Tactics – “Tactics” are the parts of your marketing strategy formulated to reach a specific objective or goal. Each of these tactics have the activities to execute to achieve that goal. (Examples of tactics are: SEO, Social Media, Shopping Feeds, A/B Testing, Product Reviews, Customer Surveys.) Every tactic is placed in one (or more) objective-based groups and is measured in the goals of that group. For each tactic, we have numerous activities.

3) Activities – The actual marketing work you prioritize, schedule, develop, and execute for each tactic in your marketing arsenal.

We’ll go into more detail below, but just so you get the gist of it, here’s a illustrated version of the marketing plan heirarchy:

Ecommerce Marketing Plan - Heirarchy of Goals and Tactics

Download the Marketing Strategy Spreadsheet

Marketing Strategy spreadsheet – As we continue below, this spreadsheet will guide you along organizing all of your marketing goals, tactics, and activities.

Step 1 – Define Your Goals and Divide them into Objective-Based Groups

Do you want more sales, leads, revenue, purchase amount, customer feedback? Of course you do, you want all of these things – this is e-commerce, baby.

Make a list of all marketing goals on the spreadsheet. Each of your goals should be quantifiable, and you have access to the means to measure them. Be specific if you want (with measurable increases, of say 10% new customers next year) or you can figure out the actual metrics later.

Here are my goals, same as above, divided into one of my three groups:

Objective Group 1 – Reaching People (All Tactics & Activities to get new unique visitors to our Website)

  • Increase New customers
  • Increase Revenue
  • Increase Number of Transactions

Objective Group 2 – Storefront Conversions (All Tactics & Activities to increase conversions for our visitors)

  • Increase Unique Visitor/Sales Conversions
  • Increase Purchase Amount

Objective Group 3 – Customer Communications (All Tactics & Activities to build customer relationships, advocacy, and connections.)

  • Increase Repeat Transactions
  • Increase Referrals
  • Increase Feedback

Other Goals
Choose whatever goals you want, but my suggestion is to make sure anything you set as a marketing goal will contribute to the business economy.

In my opinion, goals like “awareness” in marketing are time-wasters as far as e-commerce goes. Who care if someone knows you have a Website or sell a certain brand of product for X dollars? We want purchasers, advocates, and a storefront that converts like mad.

Here is the Marketing Strategy document again; download it now and define your own goals and objectives, or use mine, whatever you prefer to do.

Step 2 – Organize Every E-commerce Marketing Tactic Into Your Groups

Remember – a marketing “tactic” is not something you “do”. A tactic is a part of your marketing strategy formulated to reach a specific objective or goal.

Example: Someone may say they’re “doing SEO“, but what does that mean? “SEO” in itself isn’t an activity; it is a tactic. SEO makes up a myriad of activities like writing content, building links, editing Page Titles, etc.

This is where you think bigger than your everyday work. Do not overwhelm yourself trying to list every activity you do right now.

I like to first jot down a full “inventory” of every tactic in the column labeled “tactics” on the Marketing Strategy spreadsheet. Don’t concern with organizing them yet, just make a complete list. To jog your brain, here’s a list of common tactics in an e-commerce marketing plan you can copy and paste:

Advertising (Anything you budget to promote your business, for instance, PPC, Shopping feed sites, banners, etc)
Social Media
Personal Networking
Shopping Feeds
Email (Newsletters, internal communications)
A/B Testing
UI and Purchase Flow Testing/Layout
Store Promotions/Sales
Product Recommendations
Site Search Enhancement
Product Merchandising

With your completed list, consider what part of the sales process are your customers for each tactic. Ask yourself: What metrics will I use to measure each of them? Here is list of how I split my tactics into three groups. (Reaching People, Conversions, Customer Communications)

Reaching People (All Tactics & Activities to get new unique visitors to our Website)
Goals: Increase New customers, Increase Revenue, Increase Number of Transactions
Social Media
Shopping Feeds

Storefront Conversions (All Tactics & Activities to increase conversions for our visitors)
Goals: Increase Unique Visitor/Sales Conversions, Increase Purchase Amount
A/B Testing
UI and Purchase Flow Testing/Layout
Store Promotions/Sales
Product Recommendations
Product Merchandising

Customer Communications (All Tactics & Activities to build customer relationships, advocacy, and connections.)
Goals: Increase Repeat Transactions, Increase Referrals, Increase Feedback
A/B Testing
Social Media
UI and Purchase Flow Testing/Layout
Store Promotions/Sales
E-mail Newsletters/Promotions

Some groups share tactics because these tactics have more than one goal/objective.

For example, “product reviews” is a tactic to raise buyer trust on our product pages (and therefore, increase sales conversions), but we also contact customers via e-mail 3 weeks after purchase and request a review. These e-mails keep our customers interacting with us and sometimes referring repeat business. One of our communications goals is to repeat transactions, and since we can test and improve this with A/B testing, it’s a storefront conversions tactic as well as a customer communications tactic.

It’s fine if your tactics cross objectives. Just be sure each tactic’s goals are in line with the groups they are in.

Step 3 – Outline Activities for Each Tactic

“Activities” are the day-to-day work either you or your staff are responsible for executing/implementing. Activities are your finished projects; they are the content of your Project Management chart, your production and implementation of marketing work that produce the results you’re after.

Here are some activities in my e-commerce marketing plan, associated with their tactics and groups:

Reaching People
Goals: Increase New Customers, Increase Revenue, Increase Number of Transactions

  • Advertising (Activities: Pay-Per-Click, Shopping Websites, Any Budgeted Pay-For Program)
  • SEO (Activities sub-grouped into: Crawling, Content, and Links)
  • Social Media (Activities: mainly Twitter and Facebook involvement)
  • Blogging (Activities: publishing schedule, managing ads, linking)
  • Networking (Activities: Opportunities to interact with our vendors and potential new customers)
  • Shopping Feeds: (Activities: Locating, Updating, and Posting to free Shopping Sites. Pay ones go under ‘Advertising’)

Goals: Increase Unique Visitors, Sales Conversion Rate, Purchase Amount, Lower Abandon Rates

  • A/B Testing (Activities: Purchase flow, header, shopping buttons, product page elements, landing pages, layouts, etc.)
  • Purchase Flow Testing (Activities: Security assurance/compliance, layout/formatting, order communications)
  • Reviews (Activities: layout/position of reviews, add staff reviews)
  • Store Promotions/Sales: (Activities: Bundles/Packages, Volume pricing, on-store advertising, promotions scheduling)
  • Product Recommendations: (Activities: Locations for recommended, review best-sellers for cross-sell opportunities)
  • Merchandising: (Activities: Product pricing/profitability review, enhance product descriptions/images, new products)

Customer Communications
Goals: Increase retention, repeat transactions, referrals, and feedback

  • Reordering (Activities: Promote and measure reorders and amounts, add incentives for Reorders)
  • Reviews (Activities: Test/Improve Email communications with customers post-order)
  • Purchase Flow: (Activities: Post-Order communications and follow up)
  • Mail: (Activities: Monthly Newsletter, Promos/announcements)
  • Social Media (Activities: Respond to mentions and service requests. Offer product advice when applicable.)
  • Surveys (Activities: Gain insight from customers, provide “reward” for participation that encourages new sale.)

You may have ten activities or a thousand activities. If you’re know you’re going to do it, add it to the list. We’ll work on scheduling them later, so right now just fill up the list.

Continue onto Part 2

An E-commerce Marketing Plan that Won’t Overwhelm You – Part 2