A Disciplined Approach to Marketing an Ecommerce Business

A disciplined marketing routine can lead to long-term growth. The routine can work like a daily checklist.

A disciplined marketing routine can lead to long-term growth. The routine can work like a daily checklist.

The means and methods of driving ecommerce site traffic and conversions are clear. Marketers at mid-sized ecommerce and omnichannel retail businesses know the tactics to employ. Thus the challenge to grow a business is often discipline — not knowledge.

Think about the abundance of morning-routine advice. Search Google or Bing for “morning ritual,” and you will find suggestions from hundreds of productivity gurus. Often these tips include reading, exercising, or even meditating and praying.

The point is that before taking on the challenges of the day, you need to lay a foundation. In a sense, morning routines are analogous to the marketing discipline necessary to consistently grow and improve a business.

Small Victories

Traffic growth can be amazing to watch. Think about a new ecommerce site. It has zero visitors. The site’s owner places ads on Google or Facebook, and within a week there have been a 100 shoppers perusing the store’s products.

In a few weeks, 100 weekly visitors can become 1,000 or 1,500. Each small increase is celebrated, which encourages the marketers at the company to drive more site traffic, however small the increase.

But at a mid-sized ecommerce operation, traffic growth can seem inconsequential.

Consider the example of a direct-to-consumer company that receives tens of thousands of monthly visitors to its website. The marketing team increased organic Google search traffic by 6,000 visits in April 2019 compared to the prior year. The growth was thanks to a successful content marketing campaign, which took time to develop and launch.

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But news of the extra 6,000 visitors was received with a yawn. What would have felt like winning the Super Bowl for a startup was only a minor improvement at this mid-sized company.


Unintentionally, management at some ecommerce businesses can deemphasize steady incremental traffic growth and instead bounce from to crises to crises.

The same mid-sized, direct-to-consumer ecommerce company that hardly noticed 6,000 extra site visitors in April recently leaped into panic mode when three shoppers had a similar product question in 24 hours.

The company had launched several new items with significant technical differences from the rest of the business. And three shoppers asked a question about an aspect of these differences.

The company’s customer service director, who received all three questions, described the situation in a Slack message sent to the entire company.

Soon folks from operations, product design, sales, and even the inventory management team were providing suggestions, such as a series of marketing messages, ads, an ebook, and a new section on the website. The CEO and COO became involved.

In the end, the company’s marketing team produced a blog post on the topic and included the post in a weekly content newsletter. The blog post was the least popular link in the newsletter, garnering fewer than 100 clicks from an audience of 60,000.

The effort, however, was celebrated. The marketing team received praise for its fast action. And, in effect, the company as a whole encouraged its marketers to pay attention to the crises of the moment, while, ignoring the important discipline of incremental growth.

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Marketing Routine

Certain marketing habits should be practiced regularly, if not daily. But it’s easy to become disinterested from the critical, incremental improvements and, instead, respond to immediate troubles.

One way to resolve this conflict is with a disciplined marketing routine. Here’s my suggestion for the director of marketing at a mid-sized ecommerce operation to execute every morning before reading email, checking Slack messages, or responding to daily pressures.

The routine works like a checklist. Execute each task.

  • Read industry news for 20 minutes. Reading this article would be an example of what to do during this time. For this task, Feed.ly is your friend.
  • Review the company’s goals. Reviewing goals daily helps to memorize them and internalize.
  • Review KPIs. While it doesn’t make sense to look daily at every key performance indicator, it does make sense to review them regularly. Consider rotating specific KPIs to check each day.
  • Know what your team is working on. At this step, review and prioritize tasks on Trello or similar. Look at your task list. What is the most important thing you need to do today? What’s after that?
  • Do your most important task. Before you read a single email, do what has to be done.

The items on the checklist are less important than the discipline of prioritizing, before the pressures of the day distract you from growing the company.

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