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According to a report by Statista, “e-Commerce sales are expected to account for 13.7 % of all retail sales worldwide in 2019.” This number is expected to increase further still in the coming years – which makes it a huge opportunity although competition in many retail categories is becoming fierce! To get the competitive edge, eCommerce brands should ideally be on the lookout for the best eCommerce marketing companies and tools to increase their sales performance.
The Best E-commerce marketing companies’ tools?
Choosing for the right eCommerce tools can make a huge difference in sales performance and can help increase average order value. There are a plethora of companies out there which provide support for eCommerce brands but how exactly do you choose the right ones for your business?
Factors to Consider
How big is your eCommerce business? – The first thing that a business may want to consider is the brand’s budget. Tooling can quickly add up in costs and can decrease profitability if not carefully monitored and managed.
Costs like fees per transaction can easily add up, so it’s a really good idea to evaluate different payment platforms before signing on the dotted line. There are plenty of e-commerce platforms available with different options – for example, you may need to decide whether your business will be best suited to a hosted or self-hosted platform.
Most sellers love to use hosted platforms like Shopify and WordPress. These platforms are user friendly and quick and easy to get started with. Many established companies like to have more customisation and flexibility by using a self-hosted platform like Magento.
When looking for the right payment processor, the most important factors to consider are cost, security and functionality. Consider what your preferred fee structure would be. For example, is the brand taking monthly subscriptions from customers or payments per transaction? One of the best tools for payment is Stripe as it offers brands the level of control needed for payment processing. Another option that many go for is Square.
Email marketing is one of the best ways to keep in touch with your customers to retain them for the long term. The most established players are worth evaluating although they can become costly. Campaign Monitor specialises in behavioural email marketing. It allows companies to create personalised emails based on a customer’s website interaction and their purchase history.
Another option is MailChimp which allows retailers to send cart abandonment emails although they have recently increased the monthly subscription charges making this a costly option. Other smaller platforms that have functionality equivalent to the leaders of the pack are Zoom Mail, Aweber, Moosend and Sendy – these are good alternatives which will be lower on the monthly cost than the leading brands.
Customer service and live chat
Customer service is an incredibly important part of running an eCommerce store. However, a booming eCommerce store may have difficulty keeping up with questions and queries from customers. This is why customer service and live chat tools are becoming increasingly essential for e-commerce companies. For some SME’s, outsourcing may be the most affordable way to provide good customer experience. Zendesk is an omnichannel tool which provides capabilities for live chat and call centre operations. For those who prefer just the live chat option, Pure Chat is another option. Another startup offering omnichannel customer service is called Xeno which has some promising and exciting features.
When planning to launch your ecommerce business, it is important to choose the best ecommerce platform for your requirements. Some brands prefer platforms that offer easy to use tools. Common factors to consider when picking out platforms are mobile-friendliness, SEO, scalability, third party plugins and security. Here’s a rundown of the top options:
Shopify is one of the most well-known e-commerce platforms. It is a one-stop-shop for everything a brand needs to manage its e-commerce store. Shopify allows brands to sell and market their products, services and experiences. It allows for easy customisation, product organisation, order tracking and payment handling. These functions are fully integrated into the platform’s interface.
Magento is a powerful platform for ecommerce and, is used by some of the biggest companies in the world including Samsung, Nike, Christian Louboutin and Ford Motors. These names may be intimidating but Magento can also provide powerful solutions for small brands.
WordPress is one of the most commonly used website builders. To enable e-commerce in WordPress, brands will need to install the Woocommerce plugin. Woocommerce gives brands every feature that they need to be able to sell and market online.
Bigcommerce is an all-in-one hosted e-commerce solution. It offers several tools including options for blogging, SSL payments, webpages and a robust internal security system. Bigcommerce has some great features when it comes to handling orders, products and customers. It also comes with a built-in CRM, analytics dashboards and several marketing tools.
Best eCommerce marketing companies for advertising and promotion
Ecommerce brands need to sell! below is an outline of the usual suspects that brands use to drive their online sales along with a few of the key suppliers worth evaluating:
Display & Programmatic Advertising – Display advertising can be targeted, broad reaching and creatively immersive. Programmatic advertising allows online display advertising to optimise how, where and what is delivered to the end audience in order to continually optimise the media spend for clicks or sales. Some options worth evaluating are Acuity, AdSupply, and ExactDrive.
PPC & Social Advertising – PPC ads are text ads on Google search results. Social advertising comes in many different formats and there is a plethora of targeting options available for people to run social ads across all of the main networks including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, Youtube and more. Whilst most social ads are managed directly on social platforms, some of the suppliers worth considering for managing PPC campaigns include Kontentino, PPC Protect, NetElixir and Catvertiser.
Native/Content Advertising – Native ads are ads that are embedded within the editorial of media titles and because they are ‘natively embedded’ they tend to have a higher click through rate than traditional display ads… but a lower performance when it comes to converting clicks to sales. An interesting technique to explore here is using native advertising to drive clicks through to a landing page which tags visitors for re-targeting later on Facebook or Instagram. Some of the best known suppliers are Outbrain, Zemanta, Gold Lasso, and StackAdapt.
Video Advertising – The online answer to TV advertising is a great way to showcase products or explain complex products or services to a targeted online audience. YouTube, Gruuv Interactive, Vungle and Panopto are all worth evaluating.
PR – For many years PR has struggled to demonstrate ROI because of the lack of trackability that media coverage gives to brands. But that has somewhat changes with some new players emerging into the PR space that provide measurability of online PR by measuring brand mentiond and tracking traffic from PR coverage onto sites. Some platforms worth looking at are PRgloo, Mustr, and Muck Rack.
Print – Print is one category that is often overlooked but has the ability to get wide reach or reach a niche interest (or geographically specific) audience. Printing ad collateral can sometimes be a tedious task and many big brands have preferred suppliers that only do bulk print jobs. Smaller brands might consider some alternatives such as Postalytics and MOO.
Best eCommerce marketing companies for content
The content that an ecommerce business offers to it’s customers is crucial in order to acquire them for the long term. Some ecommerce marketing companies worth evaluating are :
Email Marketing – Some of the biggest names in email marketing are Campaign Monitor, MailChimp and Aweber. Still, there are also some smaller companies who are providing unique services in the email marketing arena. Some of these are Event Sense, FireDrum Email, LeadGnome and Benchmark.
Content Marketing – Producing content is only half of the battle… the other half is distributing it and getting it noticed! From content creation to publishing, here are some tools worth considering – InPowered, nDash, Yseop and Powerpost.
Optimisation, Personalisation & Testing – ContentSquare, Retention Science, Roojoom and Validately are all worth evaluating to help ecommerce sites optimise and personalise the experience that they deliver to their website visitors. .
SEO – Optimising content for search discoverability is really vital. Whilst SEO is competitive, it still remains to be the lowest cost way of connecting with an actively engaged audience who are seeking products. To successfully index and rank content, it is worth evaluating Yoast, CanlRank, Mondovo, Synup and Rio SEO
Top E-commerce tools for social media and customer relationships
The tools included in this category are for managing social media, communities, customer relationships and customer service.
Call Analytics & Management – A busy ecommerce business should have a plethora of customer queries and keeping track of them can become a highly complex task. Enter the call management and tracking category of tools!. Some tools worth considering are Twilio, Ruler Analytics, WhatConverts, Jiminny and Retreaver.
Social Media Marketing and Monitoring – This is one of the largest and most important group of platforms out there. It plays a major role in allowing brands to connect with potential customers and serving existing ones. Some of the tools worth evaluating are Amplifr, Buzzmonitor, Clkim and CrowdRiff.
Advocacy, Loyalty & Referrals – These tools are focused on driving customer referrals and rewarding loyal customers. Retaining existing customers is significantly lower cost than acquiring a new one and people trust word of mouth more than any other form of information about a product or service. This category of tools is therefore a vital component in driving ecommerce profitability. Some tools worth evaluating in this category are Vyper, Socialmonials, CrowdTwist, Referral Candy, Forewards, Perkville and Advocately.
Influencers – Working with social influencers to gain their endorsement is one of the most effective ways of building trust and broad market reach with the influencer’s follower base. One watch word here – value. It is always worth evaluating the true engagement rate that influencers deliver with many influencers touting high engagement rates that often do not materialise. Because influencers are an ‘informal’ channel of advertising, the pricing can often not be an accurate representation of the value that brands actually receive. Careful analysis of the influencers’ audience base is important to get value for money here. Come tools worth evaluating are Famebit, IZEA, Crowdly and AspireIQ.
Community & Reviews – Online user reviews are vital in developing social proof and demonstrating that an ecommerce business is trustworthy – with so many brands competing for the same sale, it is important that they demonstrate trustworthiness from the first moment that a potential customer interacts with them. Some tools to check out in this space are Podium, Google reviews, ReviewBuzz, TrustSpot and NiceJob.
Live Chat & Chatbots – Bots can be used to automate customer engagement and deliver quick answers to commonly occurring questions that customers have. The great thing about chat bots is that they can integrate across a variety of platforms such as Slack, website, Facebook or Twitter. Some of the best-rated platforms are JivoChat, LeadChat, and Delighted. It’s also worth looking at Rocketbots, Manychat and Zendesk.
Customer Experience, Service & Success – This includes a variety of functionality like customer feedback, live chat, surveys, forums and result analysis. This is a huge area and if planned and built into the ecommerce business from day 1, it can significantly reduce down the time to serve each individual customer. Some tools worth evaluating here are Zonka Feedback, Responster, and Helpcrunch.
CRM – Customer relationship management platforms are probably the single most important category of tool because they enable an ecommerce business to automate their communications with customers at scale. By integrating the CRM with data about how the customer engages with the website and their purchase history, ecommerce businesses can succeed in three critical areas: customer service, customer retention and maximising the average order value of each transaction via cross-selling and up-selling. Consider these tools: Insightly, Hubspot, Salesmate, Sellsy, Comidor and BlueCamroo.
Tools to integrate offline and online sales
The tools included in this category help brands to integrate offline and online sales and increase their marketing efforts.
Retail, Proximity and IoT Marketing – SaaS platforms included here are those that deal with factors in the real world. For example, proximity marketing can help send SMS coupon codes to customers. Top-rated software includes SalesWarp, 4-Tell, Enplug, and VL OMNI.
Affiliate Marketing & Management – These are affiliate marketers, bloggers and other third-party sites who are actively promoting products /services on behalf of the company. Some top-rated platforms to manage affiliate marketing campaigns are Skimlinks (Tune), Avantlink and HasOffers. Affiliate networks also exist although they tent to take a significant commission which increases the cost per sale (or customer acquisition cost as it’s known). It’s more time consuming to find an affiliate partner that you have a direct relationship with but ultimately the reward is to have more profit for each new affiliate sale that you make.
Using data to drive ecommerce
Data management is crucial for any eCommerce company. Data can deliver insights about product performance, customer profitability and overall marketing performance.
Audience/Marketing Data & Data Enhancement – Using data to drive sales, segment customers and develop competitive intelligence can help ecommerce businesses get the edge in their market and ensure that they are maximising their market opportunity. Some of the best tools worth evaluating are Segmentify, WhatRunsWhere, SalesFuel and MightySignal.
Marketing Analytics, Performance & Attribution – One of the biggest challenges that ecommerce marketers often have is how they attribute their sales across their marketing mix. The last click that the potential customer made before their made the purchase is not necessarily the one that drove the sale. It may have been a Facebook post that they saw earlier or an email that came to them which convinced them… they just happened to click on the google ad when they searched for the company name. The truth is that there is no perfect answer to this problem but there are some useful tools that can be used to manage the sales performance and conversion rates of customers once they arrive on the site. Here are a few tools worth considering: ContentSquare, Newlytics and Proof.
How are brands using these e-commerce marketing companies?
Moosejaw.com is a bricks and mortar plus online retailer which specialises in outdoor apparel and gear. The company won several awards by providing the best kind of engagement for their customers. By being “engagingly engaged” they delight existing and new customers alike. The company met with numerous problems as customers were complaining of website issues.
With the help of eCommerce companies and tools like FullStory, they were able to improve their customer experience. This eCommerce company integrated customer support and quality assurance together. In the end it enabled Moosejaw.com to provide the best experience and support possible.
Skullcandy was a brand born from an issue that needed to be solved. This brand provided a way for users to listen to music whilst taking a call. As the product wanted to drive online sales, they launched a BigCommerce store to deliver a versatile, responsive ecommerce store with superior design, and functionality. Bigcommerce ticked every box by providing Skullcandy with everything it needed on a single platform.