October 25, 2016, 3:25 PM

Building a solid e-commerce marketing pyramid

First focus on product, brand and building an effective e-commerce site, then turn to customer acquisition.

Lead Photo

E-commerce keeps growing. But to achieve substantial online sales, marketers need to follow the e-commerce hierarchy.

The Pyramid of E-Commerce Success

Think of the e-commerce hierarchy as a pyramid — without the lower levels, what’s at the top isn’t stable.

This pyramid’s base is threefold: the product, brand, and website. You need a great product (it’s why you’re in business, after all), an engaging brand that gets people excited, and a fully functional website to call home.

Email capturing and retargeting come next. This is when you secure leads and build a connection with potential customers.

Level three is traffic acquisition. Too many people prioritize this above all, but you acquire traffic after you’ve built a good mousetrap during the first two stages.

At the pyramid’s apex is social proof, which should be happening in concert with all three of the aforementioned stages, tying them together.

Climbing the Pyramid

How do you ensure that your e-commerce pyramid has a sound structure? Let’s go stage by stage:

1. Product, Brand, and Website

Offering a great product isn’t enough. You need to know who wants your product, how it will be incorporated into their lives, and what makes it different from the competition.

You need to ask similar questions about your brand, but rather than look at the product, analyze how it’s offered and perceived. Why should anyone care about your brand? What makes it exciting?

As for your website, it’s all about having a platform that is easy to update and lets the product take center stage without too much effort from you. There are a number of great platforms for e-commerce. Be sure to perform user testing; a tool like Crazy Egg will let you know how effective your website really is.

2. Email Capturing and Retargeting

Start by determining how you’re going to capture email contacts. A contest or sweepstakes? A coupon of some kind? Some companies simply ask for an email address on the strength of the brand alone.

A variety of tools can help strengthen your efforts in this realm. Klaviyo, for example, builds profiles for each customer so you can see exactly how those customers behave and tailor each interaction accordingly. Or there’s SteelHouse, which bolsters retargeting efforts with on-site offers in real time so you end up using all of your available ad space.

3. Traffic Acquisition

Web surfers are 70 percent more likely to convert via a retargeted display ad, meaning it carries dependable ROI. Start with tried-and-tested spaces like Facebook or Instagram, and don’t shy away from an oldie but goody like television. To distribute your blog content, tools such as Taboola and Outbrain are great for getting your posts shared across the web.

4. Social Proof

This may rest at the top of the pyramid, but its effects influence each stage beneath it. Fifty-two percent of consumers value online reviews as much as personal referrals, so social proof is key. Include a review space on your website, and reach out to influencers who are willing to say something positive about your product.

The bottom line? Don’t get ahead of yourself. Each stage of the e-commerce hierarchy is essential to your e-commerce success, so master the foundation before you work toward the top. If you take it step by step, so will your customers — and you’ll have climbed your way to higher sales.

Hawke Media is a digital marketing agency.

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