If your business noticed a spike in online sales in the past year or so, you’re not alone. US e-commerce sales grew by 32.4% in 2020, mostly due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This growth forced businesses to pump up their marketing efforts to gain attention and a slice of the growth pie. 2021, looks a lot different with the industry growth rate slowing down and restrictions on in-person shopping loosening by the day.  Retailers are now faced with new challenges as the back to school and holiday season approaches. How do they maintain a strong customer base? What tools can help businesses stand out in a competitive market? 

In this blog post, we will take a look at 4 e-commerce marketing trends and channels that you can incorporate into your next marketing strategy.  

E-commerce Marketing Trends to look out for

  • Voice Search
  • Augmented Reality (AR)
  • Shoppable Live Streams
  • Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO)

Trend 1: Voice Search

Voice search is more common now thanks to smart speakers like Amazon’s Echo, Google Home and Apple’s voice search on mobile.  Loop Ventures forecasts that 75% of U.S. households will own a smart speaker by 2025. As of 2020 however, 35.2%  of all smart speaker users have used the device to make a purchase. 

How to get started with Voice Search

It has become imperative that businesses incorporate voice search SEO into their e-commerce marketing strategy so they don’t miss out on potential revenue opportunities. According to SEM Rush, here are 7 SEO strategies to help you optimize your business for voice search:

  1. Optimize for Rich Answers 
  2. Re-Imagine and Restructure Your Content
  3. Use Conversational Language for Content
  4. Target Long-Tail Keyword Phrase
  5. Improve Loading Time of Your Website
  6. Pay Attention to Mobile
  7. Leverage Google My Business Listings

Trend 2: Augmented Reality (AR)

Pioneered by Snapchat’s filters, most social media platforms now have some form of AR capability. Beyond the entertaining and engaging quality of these filters, screens and lenses are e-commerce opportunities for businesses to display and even sell their products in new and innovative ways.

We have seen giant retailers create 3D models of products that allow customers to “try” or “test” the product before they make a purchase. There are also opportunities for smaller businesses to incorporate AR into their marketing. For instance, Facebook allows businesses to “run ads that use augmented reality camera effects that’ll let people interact with products on the mobile Facebook News Feed”. All of this can be done via your Facebook Ads Manager and you can find step by step how-to process here

Augmented reality in lipstick ad on Facebook
Source: Eyerys.com

Trend 3: Shoppable Live Streaming

Shoppable live streaming events are an interactive way for businesses to showcase products, connect with potential customers and sell their products, of course! 

Amazon is currently a major player in this space, with a fully functional platform for these types of events. During these live events,  brands and influencers can engage with potential shoppers in real-time by showcasing product features and answering product related questions via the chatbox. There are also direct links to where potential customers can buy the product on Amazon.

Out of all the social media platforms, Facebook is the first to come up with a Facebook live shopping functionality. With Facebook live shopping, you can go live via mobile or desktop and start selling! 

Facebook live shopping event
Source: fb.com

How to Start Selling on Facebook Live Shopping

According to Entrepreneur, here are the 4 ways to set up Facebook Live Shopping

  1. If you have a Commerce Account with Facebook Commerce Manager, a linked Facebook page and a product set in your Facebook Catalog, you can tag and feature products from your shop and add links.
  2. If you have a Facebook page but no Commerce Account, you can manually add new products, add a description and create a link to buy right before going live. When you hit the “Go Live” button, you can show the link for specific products to viewers, and they can click and go right to a checkout page.
  3. You can also start a live shopping video without the setup and talk about your products as you go. Then you can add a link to your website in the comments for people to checkout, or they can message you if they are interested. I’ve seen this work effectively. For example, you can say, “message me with ‘red dress’ and I’ll send you a link to buy.”
  4. The last way to sell live is to add links during your live stream. This is an easy and effective way to send customers to your website or checkout site by having them click a link on the screen. 

It is important to note that certain features are not available worldwide yet. 

Right now most of the other major social media platforms offer only video and image Shoppable ads but with Pinterest testing out live streaming earlier this year, it is only a matter of time before live shopping comes to your favourite social media platforms. Shopify also offers certain functionalities within this space.

Trend 4: Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO)

Here’s the thing, ads can be expensive. Even though online shopping is through the roof, ad inventory has not necessarily increased. How do you maximize ad spend for conversions? Enter CRO! Conversion Rate Optimization is the process of improving your website to enhance sales and conversions. This will allow your business to grow, get higher quality leads and conversions (whatever this means for you – lead/sale).

Suggested CRO Strategies 

  • Include your text-based CTAs within your blogpost
  • Run A/B tests on your website copy, landing pages, images, lead forms etc.
  • Create a seamless experience from start to finish so that your visitors are able to follow a clear process from consideration to sign up or sale. 
  • Leverage high performing blog posts or web pages by optimizing them for search ranking and updating them with more up to date data and information.
  • Retargeting and Remarketing will allow you to continuously engage with potential leads or customers even after they have left your page.

Q4 is the biggest e-commerce season yearly. From back to school season to Halloween, Black Friday, Cyber Monday and the holidays. According to eMarketer, Cyber Monday in 2020 was the biggest in history. Which of these e-commerce marketing trends will your business leverage for growth in 2021?

If you are looking to improve social media results for your e-commerce business or have questions, we’d love to chat!