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Myth: Inbound Marketing is not for Ecommerce

Inbound Marketing for EcommerceWe hear from brands and online retailers that inbound marketing is not a good fit for ecommerce.  The excuses range from the average order value isn’t large enough to people are just online hunting for the best price.  

These companies are missing the point.  While shopping online is technically simpler to accomplish today, customers are more confused than ever.  There are endless reviews, expert bloggers, unboxing videos and on and on.  Shoppers are inundated with tons of data but they don’t get the real help to make a decision.

Helping customers through the buying funnel is an ideal fit for inbound marketing.  Let's look at 3 ways the inbound marketing methodology can be used in ecommerce.

Information Gathering

Let's assume the customer is aware of a need and has begun to gather information to make a decision.  In today’s world, shoppers are scouring the web to gather enough information to make a purchase. They are visiting blogs, forums and yes, online retailers.  In essence they are looking for help to make a buying decision.

Online retailers and others have created endless buying guides with overwhelming amounts of data about product features.   This is information overload and typically does not guide the customer through the decision making process.  It just confuses them and encourages them to look for more sources of information.

Why wouldn’t the retail product expert provide a fantastic piece of downloadable content that helps the buyer make a decision?  This content must clearly outline the steps for making an informed decision.

Once this download occurs you have the permission to nurture this new prospect and help them make a buying decision.

Seeking Options

Now that this warm prospect understands the decision process they need help understanding their options.  This is where it is critical to understand the persona of the customer. In the case of buying a new camera is the person a casual user, a hobbyist or a pro? 

By developing clear workflows you can deliver the right content to the right personas.   As you learn that the buyer is a causal user you may point them in the direction of a point and shoot camera selection versus a high-end section only a pro would desire.

This is also a perfect time to offer the shopper tips, ideas and other forms of content to keep them interested throughout the buying process. You can learn about this person’s interest.  For the camera example, is this person interested in sports, nature, sunsets etc.   This not only helps with providing better options, it but will provide context for upselling after the initial purchase.

Making the Purchase Decision

Now that you know more about the shopper and their interests, it is time to make specific product recommendations.  One approach is to offer good, better, best options. But don’t forget the content. Continue to offer content that will inspire the shopper.  For the hobbyist who is into nature photography show them amazing photos that have been shot with the type of camera you are recommending.  Additionally, show them how they can achieve these results with their “new” camera.  Ecommerce retailers have to remember that they aren’t selling stuff, they are selling the experience.  Not only will this help with todays purchase but it will gain a long-term customer.

Now that you have the approach, it is time to map this out and get started. Yes, utilizing the inbound methodology for ecommerce can be more complex, but start simple and then grow as you go. This is the right approach to building credibility with your shoppers, turning them into customers and then long term advocates for your business.

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Matt Walde
Post by Matt Walde
May 5, 2015

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