It’s already that time of year:
Time for holidays, food, family, and new year planning.
Being so close to the new year, I think it’s appropriate to take a look at the eCommerce marketing trends that have popped up in 2016 and will be even more prevalent in 2017.
eCommerce Marketing Trends That Haven’t Changed
Let’s face it; some things simply won’t change. You could call them “fundamentals”. Whatever your name for them, they are just as important in 2017 as they were in 2016.
#1: User-Generated Content
User-generated content (UGC) has been around a long time, and it’s only becoming more important as customers expect more from the companies they do business with. UGC will be a huge marketing trend in 2017 for eCommerce owners to increase their conversions.
- 82% of shoppers say that UGC is extremely valuable to them when making a purchasing decision.
- 70% of consumers trust reviews written by other customers above professionally written marketing content.
- According to a report by Forrester, 70% of consumers consider product and brand recommendations from their social circles trustworthy and 46% trust online reviews posted by other customers. In comparison, only 10% trust banner ads on websites.
Brian from Talkwalker (@Talkwalker) said that influencer marketing and user generated content (UGC) are rapidly becoming the most widely-used online marketing strategies.
The best part about UGC is that you don’t have to create it! It takes some effort up front to encourage your customers to post it, but once you have a system in place it becomes quick and simple.
Key Takeaway: Encourage your customers to take pictures of your products and share them using tactics like Instagram contests. Increase your conversions from your Instagram UGC using a tool like Photoslurp.
#2: Influencer Marketing
Influencer marketing is so effective because it’s basically free and works really well if you find the right people to work with. Why?
- 92% of people trust recommendations from individuals (even if they don’t know them) over brands.
- 74% of consumers use social media to make purchase decisions.
Key Takeaway: Influencer marketing can help you increase your reach and bottom line if you do it right. Create an influencer marketing strategy to get started.
#3: Mobile-Friendly Website
Investing in your mobile web design may not seem like marketing, but it really is if you think about it. When you market your products on Facebook or Google, as much as 50% or more of the traffic you receive will be on a mobile device.
- According to PewInternet.org, nearly two-thirds of the U.S. population has a mobile phone with Internet access and they use these devices to conduct the majority of their online searches.
- It has to be fast – 40% of people abandon a website that takes more than 3 seconds to load. That’s nearly half your traffic!
- 74% of visitors were more likely to return to mobile friendly websites and 67% were more likely to buy from a mobile friendly website.
Making your website mobile-friendly isn’t just a good to-do. It’s a necessity to maximize your sales.
Key Takeaway: Find out if your website is mobile-friendly using a tool like Google’s mobile friendly test. Also, check your website speed using their PageSpeed Insights test. If your website isn’t mobile-friendly or is slow to load, look into using a better website template or hiring a developer to work with you.
#4: Videos (Especially Live Ones)
Media has always been an important part of online marketing. Live videos, in particular, are especially effective at capturing attention.
Periscope and Meerkat started the live video trend in marketing and Facebook has stolen their thunder with Facebook live, which now generates 8 billion live video views per day.
That’s not all!
- People spend 3x longer watching Live video compared to video which is no longer Live.
- Video posts have 135% greater organic reach than photo posts.
- Unbounce (@Unbounce) reports that including video on a landing page can increase conversions by 80%.
Key Takeaway: Getting your face out there for people to associate with your brand is going to increase your bottom line. Get some basic video equipment and start recording live Facebook videos.
#5: Omni-Channel Selling
Omni-channel means selling your products on multiple marketplaces, or “channels”. This could mean your website, Amazon, eBay, Etsy, Jet, etc.
Again, simply putting your products in new places may not seem like marketing – but it will certainly affect your sales.
Robert Allen of Smart Insights (@SmartInsights) found that multichannel shoppers shop more often and spend over 3 times more than single-channel shoppers.
Key Takeaway: Take your products and put them on as many marketplaces as you can. Use a resource like ChannelApe to manage your inventory across these channels.
#6: User Experience
The user experience (UX) of your website is more important now than ever.
Let’s face it:
If a user has a bad experience on your website, they probably won’t come back.
Here’s how to ensure that doesn’t happen:
- Use a strong hosting provider to ensure speed and stability.
- Tell a story with your design to captivate your visitors.
- Follow these 10 tips to make your website load faster.
- Make your products easy to sort through with proper tags and better search bar functionality.
Key Takeaway: Go through your website as if you were a customer, and shop like you would any other website. Notice what’s easy and what’s aggravating, and find ways to make the aggravating stuff easier. You can also post your website on various forums for others to review and provide feedback(Shopify has a section dedicated for this).
#7: Content Marketing
Ahh, my personal favorite kind of marketing – creating awesome content.
Content marketing experienced its first “year of fame” in 2016, and it’s going to be even bigger in 2017.
Because people hate being interrupted by ads, but love to consume content.
Here are some fun stats I found over at Content Marketing Institute (@CMIcontent) to prove it:
- Over 200 million people have installed an ad blocker. It’s obvious people no longer want to be spammed by ads. Content gets around this.
- Content marketing leaders experience 7.8 times more site traffic than non-leaders. Isn’t the point of marketing to get more traffic to your website? Content does it.
- While content marketing costs 62% less than outbound marketing, it generates more than three times as many leads. It’s affordable and effective; what more can you ask for?
Key Takeaway: Creating content is an important part of increasing traffic to your eCommerce site. Start a blog, podcast, or video series to begin establishing yourself as an authority in your niche.
#8: Feedback/Social Proof
Social proof has always been huge for marketers, and 2017 will be no different.
Psychology has proven that people like to go with the pack. If other people are doing it, chances are you’ll want to do it too.
- Over 70% of Americans say they look at product reviews before making a purchase.
- Nearly 63% of consumers indicate they are more likely to purchase from a site if it has product ratings and reviews.
Key Takeaway: Social proof is going to be an important marketing trend in 2017. Start asking your customers for reviews, and give them more reasons to write one (like loyalty or rewards points, discounts, or free shipping).
Remarketing is going to be another big eCommerce marketing trend in 2017.
I describe remarketing as the “touch points” tactic.
Basically, it allows you to show your product to your customers multiple times (aka “touch points”) as they move across the internet.
For example, say you find a t-shirt on a website after clicking an ad. You end up leaving the website because you’re not ready to buy, or you get distracted by work or the kids.
Later that day, you might see an ad for that same shirt on Facebook. Then, you might see it again on Google. If the marketer is really savvy, you may even see it on your favorite websites or blogs.
Every time you see the ad pop up again is another touch point. That’s remarketing.
The science says it takes, on average, 7 touch points before a consumer buys a product. Remarketing makes it easy to acquire those extra touch points.
#10: Customer Research/Knowing Your Audience
Knowing your audience has been a “marketing trend” since the dawn of marketing.
Why do I bring it up here, then?
Because, despite it’s popularity, businesses still aren’t doing enough customer research. They still don’t know who their target market is!
It makes sense. Doing this kind of research is time-consuming and can be difficult. But, according to CrazyEgg (@CrazyEgg), customer research is what separates the pros from the amateurs.
Key Takeaway: Know who your ideal customer is so you can craft everything you do around them. Check out this guide by CrazyEgg to learn how to perform customer research.
New eCommerce Marketing Trends
Here are a few of the new trends popping up in 2017:
#11: On-site Personalization
On-site personalization is going to be huge in 2017. What that means is using people’s information to personalize your website experience to each individual user.
- 73% of consumers prefer to do business with brands that use personal information to make their shopping experiences more relevant.
- 45% of online shoppers are more likely to shop on a site that offers personalized recommendations.
- 80% of consumers like when retailers emails contain recommended products based on previous purchases.
#12: Social Media and Google Search Buy Buttons
Social media buy buttons are relatively new to the online marketing game and still aren’t quite widely available.
Twitter and Pinterest have been rolling them out to select companies and Facebook is allowing anyone to create a Facebook store where their followers can buy directly from their Facebook page.
Also, Google revealed in 2015 that it’s beginning to implement buy buttons as well to select companies, and will be rolling them out to the population at large shortly.
Photoslurp clients have seen an average of 18% increase in conversions by adding a buy button to their Instagram content!
Key Takeaway: Google and Social Media buy buttons could creep up in 2017 marketing trends. Consider testing them to get the most from your store.
#13: Augmented Reality/VR
OK, so this one is more of a hope than anything, but virtual reality is really starting to take off.
The advantage to eCommerce?
Virtual reality shopping experiences.
Imagine being able to hold a virtual version of a product in your hands and turn it over as you inspect it from different angles.
This is the cutting-edge of technology. If you can afford it, it may be worth getting on the train before others to take advantage of the first wave of testers.
Jeff Booth (@) said it best when he announced that “interaction leads to immersion, and immersion leads to conversion.” What better way to immerse your customers than a virtual reality experience?
Key Takeaway: While VR may not be ready yet in 2017, it’s worth keeping your finger on the pulse and trying it out early to get in on the initial rush. At the very least, get yourself some cheap VR goggles for your smart phone and try it out.
#14: Better & Free Return Shipping
Amazon has trained people to expect free two-day shipping. In fact, they expect fast, free, and done well. So much so that shipping made it to my list of 2017 eCommerce marketing trends, despite not being a direct marketing tactic.
Two things you should invest in are your shipping and packaging.
Of course, test before you commit 100%. You may find you simple can’t afford it, which is understandable.
However, on the other end, you may find that your customer satisfaction and even bottom line go up drastically from this change.
Key Takeaway: Shipping costs can be expensive, and it won’t always be possible to offer free shipping. However, it is something you should test for your business. Practical eCommerce (@) has a good article to help you figure out how to offer free shipping without breaking the bank.
#15: Customer Engagement
Customer engagement is not a new marketing trend, but there’s a (sort of) new way to do it that will benefit eCommerce owners:
Response videos are videos you send as a response to your customers whenever they reach out to you on social media.
For example, if a customer gives you a glowing review (or a bad review), uploads a picture of your product, or just shares or comments on your social media posts, take 10 seconds to send them a thank-you video (or ask them why they gave you a bad review).
This is so rare right now that it will really surprise and may even delight them. People rarely take the time to engage with their customers or followers on this level.
And guess what:
Delighted customers turn into your biggest assets.
Word of mouth marketing is one of the best converting and cheapest forms of marketing!
In a world where Snapchat exists, you shouldn’t have a problem sending a quick 10-second thank-you video to a customer.
Key Takeaway: Take 10-30 seconds to send your customers personal thank-you videos. If you’re camera shy, record audio instead. Send it in a Facebook or Twitter message, or even text or email if you have that info.
2017 will be an exciting year for eCommerce. With cool technologies like virtual reality and Facebook live video starting to take off, there has never been a better opportunity for eCommerce stores to get ahead of the game.
Did I miss anything? What marketing trends do you predict in the coming year? Let me know in the comments below!