How to Start Your Digital Commerce Marketing Strategy

Use these three steps to guide the development of a digital marketing strategy that delivers digital commerce results.

A grocery chain wants to expand into digital commerce by taking catering orders online. Brand marketing will help with awareness, but it will fall short the farther visitors venture along the buying journey, when calls to action and conversion rates become the name of the game. The grocery chain will need a different approach than traditional corporate or brand marketing – it will need a digital commerce marketing strategy. One of the biggest challenges facing marketing leaders on the hook for digital commerce results is knowing where to start, noted Jennifer Polk, research director for Gartner for Marketing Leaders.

Baseline the current program
Addressing three foundational topics early will inform and shape strategy formulation.

The first step in building a digital commerce marketing strategy is to know what you’re selling, how you’re selling it, who you want to buy it and what you hope to achieve. Document where digital commerce and digital marketing stand by asking questions such as:

  • How do customers find and engage through your digital commerce channels?
  • How effective is digital marketing, from targeting to converting buyers?

You’ll want to get a sense of how you’re using digital marketing to attract, engage, convert and retain customers along with how it’s performing.  The grocer seeking digital catering revenue should consider how it identifies potential customers, such as using sales and loyalty data to find people who have bought catering items before, and what channels they’re using to reach and engage those customers. Once you have a baseline of the current program, then you can shift attention to identifying customers and their journeys.

Identify the ideal buyer
Use customer data to understand who your buyer is and what motivates their purchase decisions. You can use first, second and third party data to understand key audience characteristics, such as category buying behavior and key product attributes they look for when making a purchase decision. This can help you tailor marketing content around their needs. You can also drill down into demographic, behavioral and psychographic data to identify customer segments and develop buyer personas, such as the profile of your most profitable customers, which can help you select and sequence marketing channels and tactics. Real-time data and analytics can reveal where customers are, both geographically and in their buying journey, which allow you to personalize marketing.

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Map the commerce experience

The digital commerce buying journey spans multiple channels and devices. Use customer journey analytics. Understand and outline the channels, content and interactions that influence the buying decision. What are digital commerce purchase triggers? How do customers discover products and services, research their choices and complete their transaction? When, where and how do they make repurchase decisions? Use this insight to identify points of engagement along the buying journey and across marketing channels where marketing can influence their decision.

The grocer looking to grow online catering revenue might learn that customers start discovery two months before an event using search, primarily on mobile devices. They might learn that customers then read online ratings and reviews on sites such as Yelp and TripAdvisor, and on social networking sites to narrow their choices before visiting a company’s website. The visitor may submit questions to the company’s Facebook page a few days before they make a final buying decision and place a catering order for their event.

Such a holistic understanding of the buyer and the commerce experience is an effective starting point for building and refining a digital commerce marketing strategy.


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