Top ecommerce marketing strategies for 2023

By Ian Nadeau on March 10, 2023

Major changes are forcing brands to rethink their ecommerce marketing strategy. New rules and regulations for data-privacy bring with them previously unnecessary steps to ensure that personally identifiable information (PII) isn’t being improperly collected or used. Further, consumer behaviors have evolved to expect personalized experiences — across every touchpoint and in real time. 

Delivering customized experiences in-the-moment is difficult enough to execute. Tack on the fact that as much as 90% of all site traffic is anonymous and ecommerce marketers find themselves scrambling for new ways to target consumers without personalization. Also, record inflation and economic uncertainty are making it even harder to both acquire new customers and engage existing shoppers. 

How are top brands adapting their ecommerce marketing strategy around today’s environment? Avoid a dramatic decline by implementing the following into your plans for 2023. 

Table of contents

1. Customer-Centric Product Pages
2. Targeted Site Offers
3. Organic Traffic
4. Social Media and Influencers
5. Marketplace Utilization
6. Reduce Cart Abandonment
7. Live Chat
8. Rewards Program
9. Create Buyer Personas
10. Map the Customer Journey
11. Calculate Customer Lifetime Value

Customer-centric product pages

In a digital storefront, your product pages are your sales representatives. The copy throughout them should play dual roles: educator and closer. 

Content that educates enables the consumer to self serve by learning about the brand and products without any interference. Meanwhile, content that closes emphasizes urgency (limited inventory, how many people are looking at that particular product, etc.), ancillary products, customer reviews, and more to help sell inventory. 

Both content roles should be built on customer-centricity — putting their needs first and helping them find and get what they’re looking for. If you’re not customer-centric 88% of consumers will look elsewhere

“Communication is at the heart of e-commerce and community.” 

Meg Whitman, President, CEO of Hewlett-Packard

Targeted site offers

Replace margin-draining sitewide offers by either suppressing or presenting promotions based on the purchase propensity of visitors. New AI models and machine learning capabilities unlock smarter incentive decisioning that’s tailored to on-the-fence shoppers — those capable of being influenced by the right offer. 

By leveraging targeted offers, a major U.S. retailer realized: 

  • 12x ROI within the first year
  • 4% – 15% average lift in revenue per visitor

“There are so many opportunities on the horizon, from mobile exclusives to geo-located offers to better filtering and search. We’ve only scratched the surface of what’s possible with personalization.” 

Michelle Peluso, CEO of Gilt Groupe

Organic traffic

What happens when you can no longer laser-target your customers after the retirement of third-party cookies? Have them come to you organically by investing in search engine optimization (SEO). Conduct keyword research for all of your product pages to help increase their ranking and drive traffic organically — saving spend on paid efforts and creating a renewable web referral source. According to the Search Engine Journal, 49% of ecommerce marketers say that organic search has the best ROI of any marketing channel.

“You can’t just open a website and expect people to flood in. If you really want to succeed you have to create traffic.”

Joel Anderson, CEO, Walmart

Social media and influencers

Globally, social media has an audience of 4.7 billion. With the average time spent on social platforms being 2.5 hours per day, ecommerce marketers have a giant audience spending a large portion of their day on applications ripe for advertisers. While targeting via social media has become less effective due to privacy laws, there is one avenue that remains a vital driver for any successful ecommerce marketing strategy: influencers. 

From mega to macro and micro-influencers, brands are using these familiar faces to promote their products to an influential audience, resulting in: 

  • 65% of viewers visiting a company’s website or app
  • 46% of viewers converted either offline or online 
  • 31% of viewers followed the promoted brand
  • 37% of viewers made the trip to visit a brand’s brick-and-mortar location   

“A brand is no longer what we tell the consumer it is — it is what consumers tell each other it is.”

Scott Cook, Co-Founder, Intuit 

Marketplace utilization

In addition to bringing customers to you through your direct to consumer (DTC) business, 2023 offers opportunities to extend your brand reach by listing your inventory on various marketplaces. Sites like Amazon, Walmart, Etsy, and more provide a large audience of active shoppers either researching or purchasing products. Amazon alone sells over 400 products per minute (That’s 24,000 purchases per hour!). 

Marketplaces are an ideal ecommerce marketing strategy for small to medium sized brands as they can capitalize on the huge site traffic and build awareness. Over 120 million visitors go to monthly. Amazon traffic is more than 2.7 billion annually. Even the reach of boutique sites like Etsy is in the tens of millions. All this attention results in big returns on investment for ecommerce: 

  • $390 billion third-party seller gross merchandise volume on Amazon; 
  • $10.4 billion marketplace revenue on Ebay; 
  • And $1.7 billion marketplace revenue on Etsy. (Statisa

“You can’t wait for customers to come to you. You have to figure out where they are, go there and drag them back to your store.” 


Reduce cart abandonment

It’s estimated that 70% of visitors who build a cart on your site will abandon before purchase. This means that seven out of every 10 carts will go without a conversion. Let’s look at how the average cart abandonment rate impacts a retailer making $100 million in revenue annually. Using the average cart abandonment rate, that $100 million equates to only 30% of the possible revenue that could be generated — meaning that zero cart abandonment would result in over $330 million. That’s nearly two and a half times the revenue being lost for one reason or another. 

How can brands reduce cart abandonment? Start by addressing the following reasons why it happens (Baymard):

  • Extra costs (shipping, taxes, fees) are too high
  • Requiring consumers to create an account
  • Slow delivery times
  • Site seems untrustworthy
  • Complicated checkout process

There are more factors than those above, but they all boil down to the same thing: friction within the checkout process. These people are already on your site and have shown an interest in what you’re selling. Make it seamless for them to complete that purchase. 

“Remember, every ‘mistake’ a user makes is not because they’re stupid, but because your website sucks.”

Peep Laja, founder of Conversion XL

Live chat

Communication is the best way to get to know somebody, which makes live chat an ideal addition to any ecommerce marketing strategy. Brands can now leverage either a human or AI-driven chat feature to enable one-to-one conversations with every site visitor. This is a great solution for less personally identifiable information (PII) as the data gathered via chat informs personalized decisioning through a series of questions. Further, it enhances the customer experience by humanzing their connection with the digital storefront.

A study from Kayako collected responses from 400 consumers and 100 businesses to uncover the impact of live chat for both the brand and the end user. Here’s what they found: 

  • 79% of businesses say live chat has had a positive effect on sales, revenue, and customer loyalty
  • 38% of consumers are more likely to buy from a company that offers live chat support
  • 51% of consumers buy again from a company that offers live chat support

However, in order to realize the benefits of live chat, the solution has to feel personalized. Users know when they’re being read a script and don’t react well to those situations (28% of consumers are most frustrated by scripted, impersonal responses). Of course, human interactions for every visitor is untenable for bigger brands. Incorporate AI to readily segment those who require tailored assistance and those who can be served via existing content. Take the time to flesh out a chat feature capable of being tailored to personas. Your efforts will be rewarded. 

“Wonder what your customer really wants? Ask. Don’t tell.”

Lisa Stone, Managing Director of WestRiver Group

Rewards programs

Incentivizing conversions via a rewards program does more than bring in revenue — it also creates loyal customers. The majority of consumers (75%) prefer brands that offer rewards on purchases and 83% of shoppers are more likely to buy again from a company with a loyalty program (Zippia). 

Case study: Starbucks reward loyalty program

Understanding that the world is going mobile, Starbucks — the world’s largest coffee franchise — invested in an app to empower a smoother customer experience via digital payments and the option to buy online and pick up in store. Starbucks also uses their app to reward members by offering them free refills on brewed coffees, free drinks on birthdays, and other free items for hitting certain purchase milestones. These incentives have seen the Starbucks Reward Loyalty Program grow to over 31.2 million users, giving the brand a giant audience to market to with upcoming releases and seasonal products. 

The result? Rewards members accounted for 52% of sales in U.S. stores during the second quarter of 2021.

Existing customers generate 65% of a brand’s business, making them the most valuable segment of any ecommerce marketing strategy. Keep them coming back for more through rewards incentives that make their patronage feel valued. 

“We see our customers as invited guests to a party, and we are the hosts. It’s our job every day to make every important aspect of the customer experience a little bit better.”

Jeff Bezos, Founder of Amazon

Internal opportunities

The ecommerce marketing strategies discussed above are all external activities. However, what the user sees should just be the tip of the iceberg. Let’s dive into some of the key tactics that teams need to internally develop to pave a successful path forward. 

Create buyer personas

Modeling a list of buyer personas is more than distilling each segment into certain age ranges, locations, occupations, genders, or any other demographic. Rather, it takes marketing science — a combination of research, analytics, and surveys — to create specific profiles that unlock greater targeting opportunities. 

According to HubSpot, investing the time to create definite buyer personas can result in:

  • Improving conversion rates by 10%
  • Boosting click-through rates by 14%
  • Making the website 2x – 5x more effective and easier to use by targeted visitors

New advances using artificial intelligence unlock personas based on their propensity to buy, in the moment they are active on your ecommerce site, with in-session marketing. These novel personas take into account short-term behaviors and AI-powered predictions in real-time which allow your team to create different experiences for people who are unlikely to buy, those who are highly likely to buy, and consumers who are on-the-fence. Sales associates in your physical stores can pick up on these cues, your website should too. 

The point: knowing your customers and delivering relevant information to them is key to effective ecommerce marketing. 

“The aim of marketing is to know and understand the customer so well the product or service fits him and sells itself.”

Peter Drucker, Author 

Map the customer journey

Crafting a customer journey map involves directing how a visitor interacts with a website, app, or social profile. Knowing what steps each user will take helps brands see from the consumer’s point of view and confront pain points head on. These journeys are then connected to buyer personas to pinpoint touchpoints and reactions — e.g., a millennial is likely to learn about a product on social, research it on their mobile device, and complete a purchase on a desktop; whereas a Gen Z shopper is most likely to do everything from a mobile device.

Customer journey maps can:

“The opportunity in retail lies in creating a seamless experience between online and offline. Every successful retailer needs to look at these channels not as different businesses with different P&Ls, but instead as a seamless experience. That’s what consumers want.”

Harley Finkelstein, President of Shopify

Calculate customer lifetime value 

Knowing the customer lifetime value (CLV) of known users helps marketers understand the profitability of individual buyers or buyer personas throughout their time with the brand. Identifying this number provides a benchmark for the return on investment and determines whether a specific consumer is generating or depleting revenue. 

Here’s how to calculate CLV:

  • Average Purchase: The purchase amount of a customer during a timeframe divided by the amount of purchases 
  • Purchase Frequency: The number of purchases in a timeframe divided by the total number of individual customers who completed a purchase during that same period 
  • Total Value: Take the purchase frequency and multiply it by the average purchase 
  • Customer Lifespan: The average period of time that a consumer continues doing business with the brand 

Knowing these numbers allows for an easy CLV calculation of Total Value times Customer Lifespan. The result of this equation displays the expected spending of that customer with your brand over their lifetime. This number makes it possible to determine which customers are worth acquiring and at what price, and which existing customers are worth the retention spend.  

“Don’t forget about those people who have spent their hard-earned money with you. They could be responsible for substantial online sales later down the line. Treat them like your family and take them with you on your journey.” 

Matt Thorpe, founder and senior director of M.Thorpe & Associates Inc.

Formulating an ecommerce marketing strategy in a privacy-first world is vital to competing — regardless of brand size, awareness, or past success. With features and regulations causing upwards of 90% of consumers to be anonymous, marketers are now forced to find new ways to personalize the user experience, acquire new customers, improve margins, and more. The brands that will succeed in 2023 are those who innovate their ecommerce marketing strategy to overcome today’s obstacles.  

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