Home Online Business Blog E-Commerce Marketing Strategies: Leveraging Online Marketplaces, Social Selling and Direct-to-Consumer Channels

E-Commerce Marketing Strategies: Leveraging Online Marketplaces, Social Selling and Direct-to-Consumer Channels

07 May
Images on a purple background show a shopping cart, shopping bags and items for sale

Although e-commerce isn’t new, the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated its growth and it shows no signs of slowing down. According to a Forbes article published in March of this year, one in five purchases is expected to take place online in 2024.1

To take advantage of this growing trend, businesses use e-commerce marketing strategies to attract visitors to their online stores and convert them into paying customers. E-commerce marketing includes digital marketing tactics, from SEO and content marketing to social media marketing and email campaigns. These strategies work at all stages of the customer journey, from building brand awareness to cementing customer loyalty.2

This article will explore online selling tactics, including social commerce strategies and direct-to-consumer platforms.

The Importance of Online Marketplaces

Online marketplaces are digital platforms where multiple vendors can sell their goods and services. They provide a centralized place for people to shop. These platforms have a tremendous reach: Amazon, for example, boasts more than 30 million existing customers. This exposure allows businesses, especially smaller ones, to reach a target audience of customers who may not otherwise have heard of their brands. Companies also benefit from the trust and reliability that established marketplaces have earned; consumers can make purchases without worrying that they may be buying from a scam website.3

While online marketplaces offer desired exposure, they create a lot of competition among sellers, which can drive down prices and profit margins. Marketplaces also charge fees that eat into vendors’ profits. Perhaps most importantly, vendors are at the mercy of the marketplace. If it changes its policies or algorithms, that can have a detrimental impact on sales.4

Some of the most popular online marketplaces include Amazon, eBay and AliExpress. To stand out in these crowded marketplaces, sellers need product listings with high-quality, SEO-optimized product descriptions and professional product images. Consistently positive customer reviews can also increase vendor visibility and perceived trustworthiness. Most marketplaces provide analytics that can help sellers adjust their online marketplace strategies to improve their sales.5

Harnessing the Power of Social Selling

E-commerce isn’t limited to traditional marketplaces anymore. Social commerce, which markets products on potential customers’ favorite social media platforms, is one of the latest e-commerce marketing trends. Through the use of social selling tools, customers can buy products directly from their social media feeds. Vendors can reach people where they are and engage with them directly, without depending on them—or waiting for them—to visit particular websites. Brands can take advantage of social commerce by integrating shopping features into the social media experience, such as Instagram's shopping tabs or Facebook Marketplace.6

To make the most of social selling opportunities, each vendor needs to build a strong presence on social media. This requires consistently posting engaging, high-quality content that showcases the brand’s voice. Engaging with followers can also improve a brand's visibility and credibility. By tailoring content for each platform, the brand can engage new customers, build relationships with loyal customers and maximize its impact.7

In addition to direct social commerce, social media channels give marketers the opportunity to drive sales in other ways:

  • As a marketer, you can leverage each platform’s algorithms to launch targeted marketing campaigns based on users' interests and behaviors.
  • Influencer marketing—that is, selective collaborations with social media influencers—can also expand your brand’s reach and lend authenticity to it
  • Exclusive promotions and sneak peeks at new products can encourage direct purchases, turning social media followers into customers

The built-in analytics on these platforms can help you refine your marketing strategies and increase your ROI.8

Direct-to-Consumer Channels: Benefits and Implementation

Direct-to-consumer (DTC) channels—e-commerce platforms or brand-specific websites where consumers can directly purchase products—let marketers sell to customers without the need to go through retailers or wholesalers. Cutting out the middleman lets companies cultivate direct, meaningful relationships with their customers. This unimpeded interaction can boost profit margins by eliminating the cost of intermediaries, and it provides valuable customer data that you, as a marketer, can use to optimize your product development and marketing strategies.9

Successful DTC marketing strategies include personalized marketing and an optimized customer experience. By using data collected from your direct interactions with customers, you can tailor your marketing efforts and product recommendations. You can also use this data to drive product development.

Effectively managing these channels requires a strong logistical system for fulfilling orders and handling customer service. When you meet the specific needs and preferences of your audience, you drive repeat business, increase brand loyalty and create a strong community around your products and services.9

Integrating Strategies for Maximum Impact

Comprehensive online selling tactics should combine various techniques for maximum impact. Using multiple channels improves the effectiveness of each through cross-promotion: You can, for example, use your brand’s social media channels to drive traffic to your e-commerce website while employing email marketing campaigns to follow up on leads generated from your digital ads. These combined efforts engage customers across different platforms according to their online preferences and behaviors.10

All of these marketing strategies rely on data analytics. Analyzing data from each channel, such as social media interactions, website traffic, or email open rates, gives you valuable insights into customer behavior and campaign performance. You can use this data to make real-time adjustments to your strategies, such as optimizing your ad spend, tweaking your message, or altering your product offerings based on customer feedback and wider trends.11

The beauty brand Glossier is noted for successfully combining e-commerce strategies and marketing channels. “Now considered a blueprint for social media and community-driven marketing,”12 the company built its brand almost entirely on social media before branching into physical retail and direct online sales. Glossier leveraged user-generated content and community engagement to foster a seamless omnichannel experience that has driven revenue growth and customer loyalty.12

Gain a Competitive Edge as a Customer-Focused Marketing Leader

The Online Master of Science in Marketing from William & Mary is a personally tailored experience for working professionals, designed to help you achieve your unique career goals. In this program, you’ll develop analytical, strategic and creative skills that comprise your first step toward a dynamic new career trajectory. The experts of our world-class faculty provide an unparalleled education that trains you not only in the tools and techniques successful marketers use, but the mindset required for strategic, effective, empathetic leadership.

In William & Mary’s flexible online program, you’ll prepare to thrive in an ever-changing field, build a culture of openness on your marketing team and come to view challenges not as obstacles, but opportunities. To learn more about the robust curriculum, our application requirements and the renowned Raymond A. Mason School of Business, schedule a call with an admissions outreach advisor today.