eCommerce marketing plan

A Step-by-Step Guide to Writing a Successful eCommerce Marketing Plan

One of the most important factors of success for online stores is an effective eCommerce marketing plan. A good marketing plan is a map you’ll follow to reach your business objectives. Without one, it’s hard to get where you want to go. So in this article, we’ll walk you through the steps you need to take to write a great eCommerce marketing plan.

Step 1: Conduct a SWOT Analysis

The first step is to conduct a SWOT analysis, also known as a situational assessment. A SWOT analysis is typically used in corporate planning, but it is also a valuable tool for marketers. This analysis will help you develop a 360-degree view of the market so you can develop a comprehensive eCommerce marketing plan.

SWOT stands for:

  • Strengths. What differentiates your company, product, and brand from your competitors? For example, you might have built a lot of brand equity with a certain community.
  • Weaknesses. Where do you need to improve? For example, one segment of your target market might have no idea your company exists.
  • Opportunities. What external factors might benefit your company in the short- or long-term? For example, an upcoming event might provide a powerful public relations opportunity.
  • Threats. What external factors might hurt your company? For example, proposed legislation might affect your ability to promote your products.

This is a critical component of your marketing plan. It should guide you as you write your plan. 

Step 2: Identify Your Target Market

Next, define your ideal customer profile. Who are you trying to reach through this eCommerce marketing plan?

Break down your target market into demographic, psychographic, behavioral, and geographic customer segments and develop buyer personas for the primary types of customers you’ll serve.

Look at your SWOT analysis and ask:

  • Do your strengths make your product particularly attractive to a certain segment of the market? 
  • Will your weaknesses make it difficult to get traction with some segments?
  • Are there opportunities you can exploit to reach new segments or increase market penetration in segments you’re already targeting?
  • Are there any threats to your company that can be addressed by adjusting who you target or how you target them?

After that, map out the buyer’s journey each persona will go through and the questions and problems they’ll have at each step. (You can read more about the buyer’s journey in our guide to inbound marketing for eCommerce.)

Step 3: Determine How to Position Your Product

Once you know who you’re targeting, you need to decide what message you want to send. What’s your unique selling proposition and how well does it resonate with each segment? 

Should you promote different value propositions to different personas? 

As you continue to work on your eCommerce marketing plan, remember that each step in the process should build on the previous steps. The SWOT analysis and the work you did to define your target market should inform the way you position your prodduct.

Step 4: Set Your Goals and Establish Your KPIs

What do you hope to accomplish with this marketing plan? How will you know whether it was successful or not?

Set SMART goals and track key performance indicators that you can use to determine whether you achieved them or not.

SMART goals are:

  • Specific. This is so you know exactly what you want to achieve.
  • Measurable. This will give you an objective way to determine if you achieved it.
  • Attainable. Your goals should put you to the test, but if they’re not achievable, you’ll only demoralize yourself and your team.
  • Relevant. Each goal should be relevant to one or more of your overall business objectives.
  • Time-Bound. You should have a set time to achieve each goal. This will help you and your team focus on executing your plan.

Step 5: Set Your Budget

How much will you spend on the tactics in this eCommerce marketing plan? If you can demonstrate an ROI for a given channel, it makes sense to scale that channel as much as possible. 

But until you know whether a tactic will pay off, you need to decide how much of an investment will be necessary to determine if the approach is scalable or not.

Step 6: Define Your Strategy

How are you going to meet your goals? What’s your overall strategy and what tactics will drive that strategy?

Based on your budget, you may not be able to test every channel at once. (And, unless you have a large team, that’s not advisable anyway.)

Execute Your eCommerce Marketing Plan

After you complete your eCommerce marketing plan, the most important step is to execute it. But executing isn’t enough. You’ll also need to track your results and optimize your approach. That way you’ll have data and insights you can act on to improve future marketing plans.