E-commerce is the practice of selling products and services online. If your company sells products and/or services primarily online, then you have an e-commerce business.
E-commerce businesses can sell a wide range of products and services, from books, courses, and training tools, to industry-specific products like hair supplies, mule saddles, and anything in between.
But e-commerce businesses all have one thing in common - they sell their products and services primarily online.
No matter what your business type, if you have a product or service to sell, you have a need to market, and that’s where marketing agencies come in.
Ultimately, the job of a marketer is to help tell your business’ story. This boils down to the fact that there are a select group of people out there with a problem and your business has a solution to that problem.
A good marketing agency will identify the solution (product or service) your business is offering and present that solution in a creative, but clear manner to the right audience.
Knowing what story you’re trying to tell is half the battle. Identifying who needs to hear that story is the other half and being clear on that person will make all the difference in the world when putting your product or service to the marketing test.
When it comes to marketing, what services need to be included and how do they benefit your business?
Marketing agencies can provide a wide variety of services, but they typically offer some specialized, core approaches to help businesses get in front of the right people. These might include:
As you can see, when it comes to marketing the list is long, but not every business has the same needs; this is where specialized e-commerce marketing comes into play.
We’ve already identified the difference between e-commerce businesses compared to other types of businesses. Now we’re going to identify why an e-commerce business might benefit from an e-commerce marketing agency.
An e-commerce marketing agency is a firm that develops and implements marketing plans for e-commerce businesses. The difference between an e-commerce marketing agency and a typical marketing agency is that an e-commerce specific agency will focus primarily on growing the client’s business through digital channels.
An e-commerce marketing agency specializes in online communication strategies and how to develop the brand and marketing strategy for an online business whose customers are buying online the majority of the time.
You will likely find digital marketing services at a regular marketing agency, but you may not find as highly skilled or qualified digital marketing experts as you would at an e-commerce marketing agency.
For example, when running a marketing campaign at an e-commerce marketing agency, your primary marketing objective is to increase lead acquisition, sales, and customer retention specifically on digital platforms using these services: email marketing, website, SEO, and social media.
When you have an e-commerce marketing agency, you will have a team of marketing experts with industry experience specific to online selling and marketing.
With an e-commerce marketing agency, you’ll find experts in website development, email marketing, and social media specifically. But what does this really mean? Not only will you have a team who knows how to manage a website, they’ll have experience in what translates into leads, and ultimately, into customers through online channels.
A good e-commerce marketing agency knows that it’s essential for them to invest in an outcome they may never see by using their skills to effectively market your business for the betterment of the lives of those you serve - your customers.
That’s a tall order that they won’t take for granted… and neither should you.
Branding is a key ingredient of an effective marketing campaign, and a good e-commerce marketing agency will ensure that your business has a solid brand that represents the mission and vision of your company well.
And just to make sure we’re on the same page — when we say branding, we mean your company’s written mission, vision, and values paired with visual design that represents the importance of the written elements.
With new clients, e-commerce marketing agencies should be able to offer a brand audit that will assess the companies growth plan, brand narrative, and alignment while assessing any areas that need to be improved or adjusted to better support the mission and vision for the future.
With current / returning clients, an e-commerce marketing agency should do regular assessments on a company's brand identity (this could be annual / bi-annual) to ensure the agency is in alignment with the ever-changing plans within any company and can best support it.
Additionally, the ecommerce agency will work to ensure that the brand is relevant and up-to-date through the visual and narrative elements that they manage.
At the end of the day, these decisions will rest solely on the key decision makers within the company, which means it’s important to find an e-commerce marketing agency that you trust to get the job done well and to make good and healthy recommendations when it comes to your brand and overall marketing strategy. You are hiring experts to do their best work on your behalf and trusting their finished product is essential to receiving any ROI from the process.
So what makes up a good e-commerce marketing agency? A good marketing strategy of any kind takes a team effort. Marketing is many layers of creative thinking, strategic planning, and thoughtful execution.
This kind of layered marketing requires a variety of different skill sets, personality types, and unique roles who come together in pursuit of their shared purpose: the success of your company.
Let’s break this down further and look at some core areas of e-commerce marketing services and what exactly is required to pull this off effectively.
Much like any marketing services, e-commerce marketing services are any marketing effort that’s designed to drive your business forward, i.e. sell more products, close more sales, acquire more leads, increase profit margin, etc.
But with e-commerce marketing specifically, all services will be geared toward a product or service being sold online to an audience who is purchasing online. In order to pull this off, you have to know how the online markets work and how marketing of any kind translates into an online platform.
Here are a few categories to consider.
Creative strategy is essential for effective marketing. It’s the difference between a reactive approach vs. a thoughtful, well-positioned approach.
A reactive approach to marketing will follow the trends because… well, they’re trendy. A reactive approach to marketing will react and catch up to what’s happening rather than thinking ahead and being prepared for a variety of outcomes.
To go from reactive to thoughtful, you must have an element of creative strategy when you develop your marketing plans. Strategy is the art of planning ahead, measuring a variety of different outcomes, and being thoughtful about the reality of where you are as a company and where it is you’re headed.
When you incorporate strategy into your marketing plans, these things are measured and considered, and strategic thinkers will come up with creative ways to approach the message of your business to your audience in a way that supports your story and your overall plan for the future.
A business will fail when they leave strategy on the table.
Think of marketing operations much like the execution of the plan. And just like with visionaries and dreamers, if you don’t have execution, dreamers tend to live in a make-believe world.
The same is true for business and e-commerce marketing strategy. A good e-commerce marketing agency will have a well established foundation that pulls in creative strategy along with marketing operations, and when both of these areas are strong, so is your marketing.
The operational roles could consist of IT, administration, and even finance, to name a few.
Marketing operations exists to put the marketing plan in place. In operations, you’ll often have detailed thinkers who understand the complexity involved in the execution of marketing plans and oftentimes can shed light on what will or will not work in terms of implementation.
Marketing operations is an essential part of an e-commerce marketing agency because without them, none of the marketing would actually happen.
We all know what branding and design is, but most companies have no idea what’s truly involved in the branding process. Branding comes with multiple layers, and many times, when businesses think of branding, they think of their company logo.
The truth is, branding goes much deeper than your outdated logo or the font you use on your website. Branding is more like the visual design and narrative that brings the DNA of your company to life.
Your brand isn’t just what the customer sees, it’s what they think and feel about you when they come across your name in their email inbox, your logo on a social ad campaign, or your website when looking for info on Google.
This is why your brand is an essential piece of your story, but not something to rush into. In fact, many small businesses rush into logo design before they’ve even identified important foundational elements that make up their company: who they are and who they’re for.
A good e-commerce marketing agency knows the importance of branding and will take the time to get to know you - the business - while developing a brand identity that compliments who you are, supports your vision for the future, and effectively communicates to your audience.
This is done through visual design (logo, colors, fonts, visual marketing assets) and narrative which is any language used to communicate to the outside world about who you are and what you’re trying to accomplish (web copy, tagline, blog articles, email, social media, etc.).
The roles and responsibilities within an e-commerce marketing agency are vastly unique and heavily weighted because the success or failure of their clients and the customers they serve is in their hands.
A good e-commerce marketing agency does not take this lightly and chooses to embrace the notion that what they do actually matters.
And at the end of the day it’s essential for them to invest in an outcome they may never see by using their skills to effectively market your business for the betterment of the lives of those you serve.
Every e-commerce marketing agency is going to have a set of preferred tools they like to use.
Does this matter to you?
Your primary concern should not be about which tools your ecommerce marketing agency is using — your primary concern should be on revenue generated. If this is the case, your trust in the agency’s ability to deliver results should translate into trusting that they are using the right tools for the job.
That said, there are a few scenarios where you will want to speak up before hiring an agency to voice your concern about tools being used.
For example, it may be that you have a large team with an existing system that is well established. If this is the case, changing tools might not suit your specific needs because it will require a great deal of training or be otherwise costly.
If introducing new tools isn’t going to add measurable value to your team and/or business goal, then it may not be worth changing.
Additionally, new tools should - in the long run - aid in helping your team work more efficiently and more effectively. New tools will certainly require training in the beginning, as there will likely be some obvious learning curves, but ultimately they should be a help not a hindrance.
Weighing the pros and cons of what any new tools will offer will be essential when making your decision, and a good e-commerce marketing agency will do their due diligence in making recommendations that support those initiatives, rather than simply considering their own preferences.
There will most likely always be marketing tasks that will be handled internally. Depending on the size of your team, you may have a marketing director or similar role who’s responsible for heading up the entire marketing.
If that’s the case, finding the right e-commerce marketing agency to compliment their efforts could be an incredible asset to getting their vision off the ground.
Additional roles that may be handled internally might be tech positions, administrative, copywriting, graphic design, video / photography, various social media roles, and communications and PR roles to name a few.
If that’s the case for you, you will want to identify the tools your teams are already using and let your e-commerce marketing agency know about tools you are not willing to change. In other words, what are the non-negotiables when it comes to your tool preferences?
In most cases (especially if they’re good), the agency will be able to accommodate and do what’s best for your team by adapting to your preferences.
If you are interviewing agencies that operate off of 100% internal systems that are proprietary to their business, that should give you reason to pause and ask questions.
Should you move agencies in the future, what access will you have to past content and metrics?
Will you be allowed to continue to access the platform or can everything be exported into an easy to navigate file structure?
When you find the right agency, just make sure that you’re on board with how they are managing your data and what access you’ll have if you leave or if they choose to no longer serve you as a client.
If the agency is covering the cost of third-party services, it shouldn’t matter what the monthly spend is for apps and softwares.
If you are paying for it, it is a good idea to know up front what apps they will want you to use, why they want you to use it, and what the cost will be.
Some apps will be absolute necessities while others will be gravy. It will be up to you to ask the right questions and speak up if you have concern over your monthly service spend.
A lot of businesses - large and small - wonder if it makes the most sense to hire on a team of marketing employees internally vs. hiring a full-service agency where you have access to a team of marketing experts at your fingertips.
The truth is, there are many combinations of hiring internally and working with an agency that can work well for all types of businesses. Let’s take a look at some of the benefits and potential roadblocks associated with both options.
Here are some benefits of hiring an e-commerce marketing agency…
But many business owners and marketing departments have hesitations when it comes to hiring an agency as opposed to an internal marketing team.
Here are some common reactions from business owners who may be weighing the option of consulting outside expertise followed by our response:
Much like we discussed before, effective marketing requires a team of experts to create and implement your marketing campaigns, and we’ve found that professional insight from an outside agency can be one of the most beneficial things for a business… especially one that may be stuck in the area of profit growth.
When you hire an e-commerce marketing agency, you can look at them as your marketing department or extension of your current marketing team. This means that they will want to be in the know of the ins and outs of your business so that they have the right tools to help you succeed.
Marketing experts care about the work they do and when you win, so do they.
There’s also a huge value in bringing in fresh, outside perspectives. A marketing agency is close to marketing trends across multiple industries and marketing platforms, because they’re in it day in and day out.
A marketing agency will be able to speak from a stronger position of authority as it relates to what hasn’t been working in your marketing efforts and why, and as they do, they’ll be able to offer valuable insights on the best next steps for your marketing.
If you have the right e-commerce marketing agency, then no. The right team should compliment your efforts, speak from a position of expertise, all while having your companies best interest at heart.
Hiring internally can and is beneficial, but like any business relationship, people move on, get better offers, or simply choose another company to work for. This isn’t good or bad, just fact and something to consider when you’re weighing the pros and cons of hiring internally or not.
When you hire a marketing agency, they are vested in your success and the work that they do for you will be evidence of that. If it doesn't, you need to find another agency to hire.
Believe it or not, an e-commerce marketing agency can compliment a marketing director at your company very well. A marketing director’s job requires a great deal of strategic planning, delegation, and communication, but without a team to help create and execute, the weight that sits on your director’s shoulders will hold them back from doing the job to the best of their ability.
If an e-commerce business has a strong marketing director and a good e-commerce marketing agency to compliment this department, they will be set up for success.
The marketing director not only is the strongest liaison for the marketing agency, they become an advocate for helping the agency experience even greater success because they’re responsible for effectively communicating the company’s needs, while casting wider vision for the future.
This type of relationship is a win-win because it sets up the agency to be prepared and thoughtful for the future. Then the agency can do the hard work of strategizing the best marketing efforts and executing tasks, while elevating the position of the marketing director.
Do not confuse marketing operations with creative marketing. If you only focus on marketing operations, you’ll never get a full return on your investment because, without creative marketing, your marketing campaigns will fall flat.
The right marketing campaign requires a healthy combination of both creative strategy and marketing operations. Too many companies add emphasis to just one of these areas and wonder why their approach isn’t working. While both of these areas are essential, it’s when they are combined that they actually add value to your business and overall marketing strategy.
Bottom line - if you want your marketing strategy to work, there needs to be a good balance of both marketing operations and creative marketing. A good example of this is a visual brand.
There should be a great deal of creative thought that goes into the development of your visual brand. A logo isn’t just a thrown together image with your company name spelled out across the front. Ideally, a creative team will work to get to know your brand and what you stand for and then use those elements to speak into every aspect of your visual branding, including colors, fonts, and imagery used to tell your story.
Operationally speaking, however, a complete brand may be beautiful and well-representing your company, but it does nothing if it is not implemented properly.
There’s usually a great deal of creativity that goes into developing a visual brand, but it doesn’t stop there. Each asset has to be used in the right venue and on the right platform for it to be effective.
This is where marketing operations comes into play. The marketing operations will speak into what systems, platforms, and tools are being used to market your product or service, and whether or not those elements are going to get the job done well.
The marketing operations will help drive the campaigns and how they are implemented. It will also speak into how well your campaigns are doing and whether or not your creative direction needs to be adjusted.
You really can’t have one without the other. But just to keep driving this point home further, here are some other examples where marketing and operations work together:
Social Media Marketing
Every company wants a good marketing strategy, and with it comes creative thinking and effective execution. The two must meet in the middle. Something can be really creative, but not realistic to pull off. On the other hand, the execution might be more straightforward, but the campaign doesn’t seem to be working so a more creative approach is required.
Marketing operations and creative marketing must be working together on a regular basis if you want your marketing campaigns to translate into leads and sales.
There are a myriad of plans, frameworks, and blueprints you can follow to successfully profit through online sales. It’s about identifying the plan that is a good fit for you… whether you’re working with an agency, seeking to hire an agency, or even trying to put together your own plan.
Our agency took six years to develop a plan that works ON DEMAND every time we apply it. It’s called the 12 Month Marketing Playbook and it is the e-commerce marketing plan we implement.
Because it works.
So what is the 12 Month Marketing Playbook? It’s your company's plan to profit. We know this because our company, The Blocks Agency, has spent years developing and perfecting content marketing plans for e-commerce businesses big and small, and we’ve learned a thing or two along the way…
It has been through our time working in the weeds with our clients and seeing their needs at hand compared to the vision they want to be moving toward, that we’ve been able to test and develop what really works.
And that doesn’t include reactionary marketing that is void of strategy and feels good in the moment. We’ve seen far too many marketing departments chase after what’s “trending” only to be disappointed when their marketing efforts fell flat.
Instead, the 12 Month Marketing Playbook is a proven process that was designed to put your product in front of the right people and increase sales so you can bring your vision for your company to life.
This plan is the perfect collision of your company’s mission and growth plan met with just the right ingredients of digital marketing, which include:
Let’s break these down further, shall we?
Promotion focus is all about creating your foundational content through a monthly theme that sets the tone for your marketing and communication strategy.
When our team begins to build a 12 Month Marketing Playbook for a client, the promotional focus is the foundation from which we build.
A good marketing plan starts with developing a promotional strategy for your e-commerce business, which consists of a series of monthly or semi-monthly promotions that all point back to the monthly or quarterly goals of the company.
Once the promotions are landed, we begin to build the monthly marketing plays.
Monthly sales are a huge part of any e-commerce business and once we have our promotions and themes mapped out for the year, we can help a company determine the monthly sales they should run to support their growth plans.
In this phase, we set a plan that compliments the monthly focus of our e-commerce clients while also increasing profits through offers and sales for current and new customers.
Offers and promotions could look different depending on the type of e-commerce business, but the point is to create irresistible offers designed to get your audience to buy.
So what does it take to create the right promotion or offer for your customers?
If you’re like most e-commerce business owners, you would probably welcome some innovative marketing tips that translate into sales. And if you’ve been feeling a bit stuck when it comes to what to try next, we get it.
This is such a common frustration for small businesses that we’ve developed the Creating an Irresistible Offer Mini Course just for you.
Want to give your clients a new reason to buy?
Want to start selling high-value experiences instead of “the thing”?
There are 3 types of promotions. In this course, you’ll learn the basics behind each type and how to choose the one that will assist your business growth!
Moving your business forward has everything to do with the promotion. If a consumer has said "yes" in the past but didn't close the sale, your promotion gives them a reason to seal the deal.
Learn how to pull off the right promotion for your e-commerce business and create an irresistible offer your customer’s won’t want to refuse. Get access to this free course here.
The purpose of lead acquisition is to establish a customized, monthly lead generation strategy built to tell the right story about your online product to the right audience.
Your customers wouldn’t be customers if they didn’t start out as leads, which is why a lead acquisition strategy is so important. As much as we want to increase your sales, it’s essential to pour your energy and resources into initiating new and creative strategies to acquire leads… and not just any leads, but leads who will convert.
This is where our lead acquisition portion comes into play as we build out the 12 Month Marketing Playbook for our e-commerce businesses and their marketing plans.
As part of your promotional focus and monthly sales plan, we will install a customized plan to add new qualified leads to your list every month and prepare them to convert in the following months.
We do this though:
Building and maintaining healthy client relationships is key to your business’ success and growth, which is why we include our relationship building strategy as part of the 12 Month Marketing Playbook.
To support the theme and focus of your ecommerce marketing plan, our monthly plays include creating and publishing engaging content and experiences to build trust and point attention back to each month's promotion.
Whether it be through your organic social media outlets or a thoughtful email newsletter or nurture sequence, the goal is to keep your business in front of your customers so that they always remember where to turn when they have a problem that your business can solve.
Maybe you aren’t ready to hire an e-commerce agency. Perhaps you have one or two people working with you and want to put them to work executing an e-commerce marketing campaign that would normally be done by an agency.
If that is the case, you (and your team) can really benefit from high quality e-commerce marketing courses.
You want a course that will help you dial up a marketing strategy and help you execute the marketing operations — not simply one or the other. And, yes, you want a course that focuses on e-commerce marketing.
You will find no shortage of course options on the internet. Before you make a purchase, be sure that the training inside the course is practical and easy to implement. If the material is all strategy with very few action steps, you’ll find yourself with a lot of knowledge but little direction on how to implement it.
If you intend to run social network ads, make sure your course includes practical training on how to use the different networks you’re planning on advertising through.
If you intend to drive traffic to your website through search engines, make sure your course includes step-by-step instructions on how to craft an article for SEO ranking as well as what search engines look for.
It’s easy to go heavy on strategy and light on implementation (or vice versa). The best way to ensure you get a balanced curriculum is to ask questions of the course creator and explore all sales materials that are available prior to purchase.
You’ll find thousands of courses on social media in your search for an e-commerce marketing course. In almost all cases, you’ll want to pass on these options as many of them will fail to actually focus on converting sales. This is not to say that they aren’t worth it — but remember, we’re looking for a course on e-commerce marketing, not just social media.
Your course should be focused on creating a strategy that is all about increasing sales, converting prospects into leads, and leads into customers.
A course worthy of your time will focus all the curriculum on creating a single strategy that is aimed squarely at conversion.
There are other aspects of online marketing you can buy supplemental courses for, particularly when you want to go deeper into a specific area. But for starters, you want a single plan that helps you start generating revenue right away… not months down the road.
Accessing your course and going through the material should be easy and even fun! Make certain that the course you go with has a great delivery system, be easy to access, and track your progress.
While you may believe that all courses would have video based training, you’ll find that some are strictly reading. This isn’t a bad thing — especially if you prefer to read rather than watch — it’s just important that you know exactly what you’re getting, how the material will be delivered, and what format it will be delivered in before you make a decision.
On top of this, make sure that everyone on your team will have access to the material. Some courses will limit the material to only the purchaser and will require you to have multiple seats to allow your team to go through.
Last, and definitely not least, make sure you go through the material completely. Have a plan for when and where you will go through the material so it doesn’t become another ‘book on the shelf’ that you’ll read someday.
If you are planning to walk through the course alone, hold yourself accountable by creating weekly / monthly / quarterly goals. Consider asking the course creator if they have a curriculum schedule to follow. If not, consider making one yourself.
It doesn’t have to be complicated. Review the lessons - how long are they? Do they require a great deal of homework? If so, how much time should you allot to getting it done? Once you have a rough idea of how much time you’ll need, block out time in your schedule.
Consider asking a colleague to keep you accountable and check in on your progress from time to time.
If you’re going through this with a team, accountability might be a little easier, but because others are involved, it’s even more important to follow through.
Discuss ahead of time how you plan to work through the material. Will you go through it all together or do some on your own and come back to discuss and analyze? Consider creating a weekly schedule (same time and place each week) where you’re all committed to walking through the material together.
The point is, don’t just buy a course and not follow through. This is the equivalent of putting on your workout clothes and not going to the gym. Put in the time and effort and you - and your team - will learn something of value that you can apply to the way you operate your business.
No matter what size your business or how big your team, the bottom line is that you CAN profit, but it takes a thoughtful, intentional approach.
If you have identified a real solution to a real problem and are telling that story to the right people, then there’s no reason why you can’t experience a successful, flourishing business.
This is where good e-commerce marketing comes into play. With the right product / service paired with the right tools to help tell its story, you will be able to reach more of the right leads, grow your customer base, and close more sales.
At The Blocks Agency,it’s our job to bridge the gap between our clients and the customers they serve. When we succeed, they succeed.
And because every company deserves a marketing plan that is not only profitable but affordable, it’s our pleasure to help businesses like yours build a marketing plan that’s going to produce results.
And when we say results, we mean lasting, meaningful results represented through higher lead conversion rates, newer and better leads (the ones who will actually buy your product!), and customers who keep coming back because they clearly see the value you offer through the solution you have for their problem.
How do we do this? Through these three offerings:
The Course - for those businesses who are not yet ready to hire a full blown agency, but want the do-it-yourself approach.
The Workshop - for businesses who are looking for personalized instruction and partnership with our agency to build a customized plan, but still want to take the plan and run with it.
The Agency - for companies who are ready to bring on a team of experts to take the marketing reins and raise the bar on their digital marketing like never before.
One of our core values at The Blocks Agency is, “we invest in the outcome we may never see.” We know that on the other side of every marketing campaign is a human looking for a solution to a problem that your business is able to solve.
As an e-commerce marketing agency, our job is to tell your story well to the right people, and when we do that, lives are changed for the better. We may not ever see that success (hopefully our clients do!), but that’s part of the investment we’re making through creative, strategic, and thoughtful digital marketing.
If you find yourself needing help with your marketing plan, but unsure of your next right step, we have an option for you. We know there is no “one size fits all” marketing plan, but there is one approach that can be applied to a variety of e-commerce industries that truly works, and we know this because we’ve seen it happen over and over again.
Our mission is to market so you grow and we’d love to pass on our knowledge to help you do just that. We invite you to schedule your free content marketing call and we’ll deliver a 15 minute marketing hit list that you can take and apply today.
Think you need more? Let us put together a free assessment and recommended next-steps.
Let us show you how a simple marketing approach can work for you.
Discover the secret formula to online marketing, why it works, and how it will work for you! Register for the free course below and we’ll send you immediate access.
This free intro course is taught by our founder, Dave Shrein.
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