With the change in buying habits brought on by the pandemic and the prevalence of Amazon and Alibaba, you might assume that online shopping has already peaked. Yet the market is still growing. Global ecommerce sales are expected to reach 8.1 trillion USD in 2026—a 56% increase from 2021.
So, if you think you’ve missed your chance at scoring a piece of the ecomm pie, think again. Opportunity exists out there for businesses of every size. But how can you capture that market share?
Two words: Ecommerce advertising.
By effectively promoting your products or services through various online channels, you can reach an enormous audience of interested browsers—then turn them into loyal buyers.
Table of Contents
- The landscape of ecommerce advertising
- How to develop a winning ecommerce ad strategy
The Landscape of Ecommerce Advertising
In ye olde pre-internet days, brick-and-mortar shops relied on billboards and other out-of-home ads to drive word of mouth and boost sales. Because, well, that’s what they had to work with.
Since then, the retail environment has changed—and it’s changed dramatically.
Now, there are thousands of ways to communicate with—and sell to—consumers. While advertising in ecommerce happens all over the web, the must-master channels include:
- Social media – From TikTok to Threads, social platforms are where the people are. Of the billions of worldwide internet users, 92.7% are on social media.
- Search engines – 68% of online experiences start with search engines like Google and Bing. Whether you’re paying to be the top result or vying for the first page using SEO tactics, search engine marketing can greatly expand your audience.
- Email marketing – This direct-to-consumer strategy lets you appear in your customers’ inboxes. Unlike other forms of ecommerce advertising, you’ll need information from the shopper (their email address) and their opt-in before you can begin. And because of this personalized nature, the effort to capture that data is well worth it.
- Affiliate marketing – Affiliate or influencer marketing involves having a well-known figure represent your brand to their already-assembled community. It’s most popular on social media but can also occur on other platforms.
Putting It All Together: Omnichannel Marketing
Brands can find success by running isolated campaigns on their preferred platforms. However, for a more holistic approach, there’s omnichannel marketing.
As shopping has shifted to a mobile-first (or even mobile-only) environment, customer habits have changed, too. When people use their phones, they use everything, everywhere, all at once, bouncing between email, Instagram, texting and Snapchat with ease.
Omnichannel marketing unifies these platforms—and even brings offline strategies into the mix—creating a seamless shopping experience for the consumer. It’s the future of ecommerce marketing and an essential concept to dive into.
How to Develop a Winning Ecommerce Advertising Strategy
Whether you’re incorporating omnichannel marketing or not, setting up a successful digital advertising strategy is no small feat. Every business is unique; what works for one won’t necessarily jive with another. With that said, let’s lay out the basics of ecommerce advertising—a foundation for any brand.
Set Your Goals and Budget
Your approach should always begin with goal-setting. For example, are you trying to increase brand awareness or boost sales of a particular product? By setting clear, attainable advertising objectives at the start, you’ll be able to:
- Focus on what really matters
- Hold your team accountable
- Measure your success
It’s also easier to outline a realistic budget with goals in mind. For example, if you’re aiming to bring more credibility to your brand, you’ll know to allocate more resources to generating social proof through affiliate marketing.
Identify and Segment Your Target Audience
With your objectives set, your attention should turn to your audience. If you want your ads to appeal to your customers, you need to know them—their wants, dislikes, behaviors, and traits.
The way to do that is through data-driven marketing. There are several ways to learn about your current audience, including:
- Analytics suites – Powerful tools like Google Analytics let you see who’s interested in your business and how they interact with it across various channels.
- Voice of the Customer (VoC) tools – Who better to inform you than the customer? VoC strategies collect feedback from your audience via surveys and reviews.
- Heatmaps – Heatmap software shows you how visitors engage with your website. These tools give you insight into the typical customer’s behavior.
Between your goal-setting and use of these tools, you should have a clear idea of who your target market is. From there, your job is to divide your customers into segments. Segmentation allows you to tailor your advertising materials to the right audience.
Consider splitting up your audience based on:
- Demographics – These are facts like age, gender, income and marital status.
- Psychographics – These are traits such as values, opinions and goals.
- Device and platform usage – Are they on desktop or mobile? Meta or X?
Master Channel-Specific Advertising Strategies
In the world of ecommerce advertising, this last category is particularly important. Since you’re interacting with your customers online, the device and platform they’re using matters—because every channel requires a different strategy.
Let’s look at a few channel-specific tips for some of the most-used platforms:
- Meta – On Facebook and Instagram, the visual is everything. Play with a mix of in-feed ads and eye-catching stories to capture your audience’s attention.
- Google Ads – Shoppers coming to Google want information ASAP, so less is more. Shoot for snappy copy and striking imagery that accurately represents your product.
- Pinterest – This is another visual-first platform with more of a lifestyle lean. Work on using your ad to show how your product will fit into the customer’s life, and use Product-rich Pins to add info on pricing and availability.
- Amazon – If you’re selling through Amazon, try using the Sponsored Products feature to boost your listing to the top of the search results, and don’t forget to set up an Amazon Store for more control over the selling experience.
The above channels are the tried-and-true. However, there are myriad opportunities to connect with customers—many of which come without the price tag of Google or Meta. Lesser-known platforms to look out for and experiment with include:
Craft the Perfect Ecommerce Ad
Next, let’s quickly talk about the anatomy of a five-star ecommerce ad. In general, there are three main components to worry about:
- The visuals – Whether you’re publishing a video or a static image, how your content looks is your first impression. Use high-quality photos and videos that showcase your product’s unique selling points (USPs). Don’t be afraid to inject some captivating colors and fonts (provided they fit your overall branding).
- The copy – The words accompanying your ad—the caption, and any overlaid text—need to be equally compelling. Social media messaging should stay short and snappy, while emails and content marketing pieces (e.g., blogs) can be longer and more detailed. To keep things consistent across channels, consider creating a brand voice guide.
- The CTA – Finally, there’s the call to action—the prompt that encourages consumers to dive deeper. Generic options like “Learn More” or “Shop Now” can work, but we suggest working some personality into your CTA.
Once you’ve designed an ad that ticks all three boxes, you may think you have a winner on your hands. But if there’s one thing to learn about ecommerce advertising, it’s this: You never know what will land with your audience.
As such, it’s worth creating multiple versions of your ads and A/B testing. Experiment by pushing different combinations of visuals and copy to different audience segments, then double down on the best performers and nix the rest.
Measure and Analyze Your Advertising Efforts
Measuring your ad’s performance isn’t just helpful during the A/B testing phase; that data is valuable at every stage. Regularly analyzing your progress can determine if you’re on track to meet your goals and optimize as needed.
Some of the key performance indicators (KPIs) to track include:
- Clickthrough rate (CTR) – The percentage of people who click on your ad.
- Conversion rate – The percentage of people who took the desired action, such as signing up or checking out.
- Engagement metrics – On social media ads, the number of likes, comments and shares your ad receives.
- Customer lifetime value (CLV) – The total revenue you can expect from a consumer throughout your entire relationship. The calculation for CLV is the number of annual purchases x purchase profitability x length of the relationship.
Perhaps the most crucial KPI to track is Return on Ad Spend (ROAS), a measure of how much revenue each dollar of your campaign is generating. Unlike other metrics, ROAS tells you exactly how effective your ads are and can inform you of any changes you may need to make.
Download our free resource: The Ultimate Guide to Ecommerce KPIs
Adhere to Legal Considerations and Best Practices
Last—but certainly not least—always remember to follow applicable advertising laws.
Depending on where you’re advertising, you may have to adhere to the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) or California’s version, the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA). Other state and national laws may also apply, so when in doubt, work with a lawyer.
Beyond following the laws of advertising, it’s also important to promote ethical advertising. Considerations include:
- Product and review authenticity
- Responsible advertising to children
Neglecting to follow these best practices can do more than damage your reputation—it can lead to your ad being removed from certain platforms. And that definitely won’t help you reach your ecommerce goals.
Let’s Turn Those Browsers Into Buyers Together
When you primarily sell online, ecommerce advertising is hands-down the best way to reach your audience. It’s never been easier to promote your products and services to billions of people around the world.
But this ease of use has a drawback: When anyone can advertise their ecommerce brand, it becomes harder to stand out from the crowd.
If you want ecommerce ads that steal the show, our paid media services are the perfect place to start. We understand the nuances of each channel and how they work together, and we can help you set and reach your big-picture goals.
Drop us a line to find out more.