In some industries, trends are borderline-arbitrary, and not the least bit indicative of any specific underlying progress. Fashion is a classic example. One season, neon colors are “in” — the next, it’s subdued low-saturation pastel tones, with the change being due to tastemakers and happenstance. Ecommerce marketing is (mostly) a very different beast!
While product types are certainly subject to changing popular opinion, marketing methodology is driven more by technological standards and mainstream acceptance than anything else. First, something must become technically viable — then, it must reach a point at which enough people are familiar with it that it warrants a place in a great marketing strategy.
This doesn’t factor in social platforms, admittedly, but the channels you target concern how you execute your marketing plan, not what it consists of. In this article, we’re going to look at ecommerce marketing trends set to prove very influential in 2019 and beyond (trends that can be trusted to be more than ephemeral).
Let’s get to them:
Digital content marketing has thus far been quite scattered and arbitrary in many cases. A new term will pop up, and every agency and blogger will hurry to cover it in a keyword-optimized article in the hope that they can attract the lion’s share of the early traffic. The artificiality of the now-obsolete keyword stuffing still lingers to some extent — but times are changing.
Guided by the evident preferences of search engines (well, Google), and influenced by the Wiki model, companies are now preferring to forget about ad-hoc isolated pages and instead focus on creating tightly-connected hierarchical content hubs that make it possible to easily explore related topics. For instance, you might create an Ecommerce hub and link out to various pieces on PPC, SEO, payment gateways, and other such areas for visitors to learn more about related topics.
HubSpot, a company that has really led the way in this area, also calls these hubs topic clusters. They’re exceptional for searchers, because they provide a lot of relevant information in clear structures, and just as good for search engine crawlers that can more easily parse intentions. When you’re planning your content strategy for this year, think about how you can fit it all together like a jigsaw to form a more powerful whole.
We’re creatures of convenience, as evidenced by our widespread acceptance of ecommerce. Why trudge to a store to buy something when you can simply place an order and have it appear at your door as if by magic? And social buying is another step ahead when it comes to ease, allowing us to place orders without even needing to leave our social media platforms.
For instance, when browsing Pinterest, you can come across shoppable pins that allow you to readily pick up whatever piques your interest. Facebook has had such options available since 2014, admittedly, but the prevalence of social logins, online payment wallets (such as Apple Pay and Google Pay) and much-improved mobile data connections has seen this kind of mobile payment become much more popular — and the popularity is only going to grow, particularly in light of the phenomenal rise of social media influencers.
The content-production demands of a moderately-sized business with major ambitions can easily be daunting. There are so many ways to reach people online that it can feel like you’re failing to make the most of your opportunities if you’re not extending your rhetorical tendrils in every possible direction, but do you really have the time to cover every social media platform?
The User Generated Content (typically known as UGC) model is simple. You build a connection with the followers of your brand, then extend an incentive for anyone willing to product some content that will aid you in your marketing campaign (even if you don’t explicitly state as much). The content could be in the form of a review, or a testimonial, or a guide to a particular product. It could even be something more creative, such as a poem or a promotional video.
Such content is exceptionally useful for various reasons. It’s cheap (even free in some cases, if your brand is big enough), offers a homespun charm that readily deflects harsh criticism, engages your audience, and saves huge amounts of time. This year, why not make UGC a core part of your marketing strategy?
Voice Search Optimization for Voice Activated Devices
In just a few years, voice search has gone from an option that only occasionally worked (and left everyone involved feeling quite silly) to an everyday occurrence, all driven by the rise of voice assistants such as Google Assistant, Apple’s Siri, or Amazon’s Alexa. Vast improvements in NLP (natural language processing) technology have allowed digital systems to fathom user intent quite accurately and very consistently.
This is massively meaningful for ecommerce marketers because it’s resulting in entire strings of product searches being carried out primarily (or even entirely) though voice search, and it’s possible to have a product that works fairly well for viewers but horribly for voice search — and it all comes down to formatting.
When you make a voice search, the search engine needs to parse your specific query and then find content that matches it as directly as possible. For that, it needs contextual clues. A particular page may have all the required information, but if the search engine doesn’t know it, it won’t choose that page as the result. To keep up this year, make your ecommerce content as digestible and easy-to-understand as possible (and include structured data wherever relevant).
There’s a lot to be said for the traditional retail approach, particularly at the high end. While it’s primarily motivated by the item you want to receive, it’s carried along by the enjoyment of having a custom shopping experience, with store assistants answering your questions, making suggestions, and finding ways to accommodate your needs.
This kind of experience is something that online retail has struggled to provide, but major strides have been made to move towards what is known as conversational commerce — turning the buying process from a dispassionate trade to an engaging series of interactions. The more conversational the process can be, the more viable it is to overcome objections and leave the customer more satisfied.
To make conversational commerce part of your marketing strategy, think about how you can more openly engage with your existing or prospective customers. Can you be more reachable through social media? Available through a live chat system on your website? Is there room for a chatbot in your online presence? A huge advantage of using a multi-channel ecommerce platform is that you can reach people in so many more ways — and the more you engage with your audience, the more loyalty you’ll win.
Conversation may be a key part of traditional retail enjoyment, but personalization is another — knowing that you’re getting an experience unique to you. And personalization is an increasingly-big business in the ecommerce world, furthered by the availability of extensive personal information and the interconnected nature of social platforms.
Personalized marketing is more powerful because it cuts out the filler. Why spend time promoting a product to a specific customer when you have access to data clearly indicating that they may be more interested in something else? The effort required to write the content will be wasted, and the customers will be frustrated that their needs are being ignored.
By tweaking your marketing content to only provide relevant recommendations, and ensuring that your system learns from customer preferences, you can save time, save money, and leave your customers much happier.
The days of stuffy impersonal businesses are over. If you want to make an impact in ecommerce marketing, you need to show some kind of personality and/or vulnerability to get people on your side, and the perfect way to do that is to produce some video content. Video content allows supreme creativity, affording you an incredible opportunity to stand out from your competition, and it’s more accessible than ever before.
With nothing more than a YouTube account, a smartphone, and a willing team backing you, you can produce engaging behind-the-scenes content to humanize your business and encourage your target audience to root for you. The more they like you, the more interested they’ll be in buying from you in the future.
And with the rise of platforms such as Twitch (alongside PPC networks increasingly supporting video), it’s clear that opportunities to get your video content seen continue to grow. If you have any interest in getting into video content marketing, 2019 is the perfect year to give it a try.
Wrapping Up Ecommerce Marketing Trends for 2019
When looking at trends, it’s very important to avoid getting too focused on fads that are likely to flame out just as quickly as they appeared. Instead, think logically about where technological and retail patterns are leading, and you’ll have the best possible chance of getting out ahead of the curve.
These trends, as interesting as they are, are all fairly conservative picks, and there’s next to no chance that any one of them will lose its significance in the coming years. So why wait to make alterations to your marketing strategy? The sooner you start, the sooner you’ll be able to make some meaningful progress!
If you’d like to learn more about ecommerce marketing or would like to reach out for us to provide a free digital marketing consultation for your business, feel free to contact us directly and we’ll be more than happy to get in touch!