Retailers Reveal Top Digital Marketing Strategies

Do you find it challenging to decide where to allocate your digital marketing budget? Are you struggling to keep up with the influx of social media channels that are growing in popularity? Do you feel like you're behind in offering a user-friendly mobile e-commerce experience?

E-commerce can often feel like a guessing game for apparel retailers. There are so many opportunities to get in front of customers that it's tough to keep up.

To offer some direction for proven digital marketing strategies, ChannelAdvisor conducted the 2015 Online Retail Survey. We asked tactical questions to hear what retailers are doing to get return on investment (ROI) from their online advertising campaigns. The survey revealed some interesting results that may help you decide where to focus your digital marketing efforts.

What digital marketing channel provides the most ROI for your business?
Apparently, retailers are leveraging Amazon for much more than a third-party marketplace to generate sales — it's the top digital marketing platform as well. More than a third (35 percent) of the 2015 Online Retail Survey respondents listed Amazon's advertising programs, such as Sponsored Products and Product Ads, as the top channel. Amazon recently said it would no longer offer Product Ads after October 31 as the company is testing a new advertising format called Amazon Text Ads. It will be interesting to see if retailers continue to see the same ROI with the new format.

In addition to Amazon, Facebook and Google are providing value for advertisers.

Nearly a quarter (23 percent) of retailers said Facebook is the digital marketing channel that provides the most ROI. Facebook's dynamic product ads allow retailers to serve timely and relevant display ads across mobile, tablet and desktop devices. They also entice consumers through retargeting advertisements. 

The same percentage (23 percent) of retailers said Google Shopping and AdWords provide the greatest ROI. A recent study by Searchmetrics reveals that Google Shopping search results are up 118 percent year over year. For the 2015 Online Retail Survey respondents, those search results appear to be generating sales.  

How are you performing on mobile devices?
It's no secret that the age of mobile e-commerce is upon us. However, the mobile experience can be incredibly clunky and aggravating. Have you ever tried to input your payment information and finish the checkout process from your smartphone?

More than 40 percent of survey respondents said that mobile traffic accounts for 21 percent or more of their total web traffic. That said, the majority of retailers are seeing less than three percent of their mobile web traffic convert to sales.

While mobile shopping is on the rise, many retailers lack an easy-to-navigate mobile shopping experience and are missing out on opportunities to bolster their web sales.

How are you using social media?
The rise of social media has changed the way people use the internet. Now, social media channels are beginning to implement “Buy Buttons" and other features that indicate attempts to offer transactions on social media networks. But which social networks are performing best for retailers?

Nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of respondents said Facebook creates the most sales conversions for their businesses when comparing all social media channels. Twitter was second (19 percent), followed by Instagram (9 percent) and Pinterest (5 percent).

As for retailers' top business goals for using social media, a third of respondents said increasing brand awareness tops the list. Nearly a quarter (24 percent) of respondents said connecting with a new generation of customers is their main business goal for social media, whereas 20 percent said advertising deals and promotions is their top reason for social media use.

With the holidays approaching, most apparel retailers are tidying up their digital marketing strategies to get ready for the busy season. Enhancing your advertising campaigns on channels such as Amazon and Google Shopping, catering your website to mobile visitors, and increasing your brand awareness on Facebook and other social networks will help you get ahead of the competition and enjoy a successful holiday season.

Evan Carroll is a product manager at ChannelAdvisor responsible for its Digital Marketing platform. With an agency background in digital marketing, he helps companies of all sizes increase ROI from their online presences. An author and frequent speaker on all things digital, Carroll has spoken to audiences across the country including SXSW Interactive, Dig South, DMA, and various AMA chapters. He holds BS and MS degrees in information science from UNC-Chapel Hill and presently serves as president of the Triangle Chapter of the American Marketing Association.

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