The good news: you’ve done the research, designed your online store, and finally launched; there’s only one thing left to do. The bad news: it’s promoting your online store, and as any marketer will tell you, it’s a daunting task.
And because it’s so intimidating to store owners, there’s a litany of different digital marketing tools out there specifically designed for the eCommerce space. Scrolling through endless options, stuck in a feature comparison that spans multiple tabs, wondering if you need an entire marketing suite—it can overwhelm even the savviest e-tailer.
Having designed and developed in the eCommerce space for over a decade, we’ve seen our fair share of marketing add-ons, plugins, and web tools in action. We’ve seen the good, the bad, the ugly, and the ones we know how to get the most out of your online store’s marketing budget.
So we put together a shortlist of some of our go-to eCommerce marketing tools, the ones we’ve seen deliver actual results. And, in the spirit of camaraderie, we asked a few of our clients and friends about their favorite tools as well.
An absolute must for any business, Google Analytics is the industry standard for learning about your site’s performance and its customers—two foundational insights that will inform your marketing strategy.
“You can’t do ecommerce without Google Analytics,” says Leo Baratta, marketing technologist at JAM Paper & Envelope. “You have all the data you need, right from the creators of the number one search engine in the world. It’s customizable, in-depth, and totally free!”
A search marketing Swiss army knife, SEMrush offers an entire suite of tools indispensable to any eCommerce application. “SEMrush helps us find all the keywords that are competitors are ranking for, which helps us target new products in our industry” says Jeff Moriarty of Moriarty’s Gem Art.
Whether it’s performed on your own site or your competitors, SEMrush’s auditing tool offers a comprehensive diagnosis on its subject’s search engine optimization, which is crucial for any e-tailer operating in a crowded market space.
While SEMrush works well as an overview of your SEO performance, Hotjar offers a more granular examination of your online store. It’s better suited for tracking individual visitors, and can ever do it in real time.
“[Hotjar] uses heat maps on your website to see how visitors move their mouse and click around,” says Chachi Flores, senior manager of eCommerce at Peacock Alley. “You can even record their mouse activity to study their next move. Knowing what your visitors expect and how they behave can help entirely optimize your website.”
The aptly-named ConvertFlow is a conversion tool that allows store owners to embed marketing mechanisms—forms, landing pages, pop ups, et al.— directly into their online store, all without any coding experience necessary.
“I use it for all of the opt-ins on my own sites, and we used it for a good while on Nectar as well,” says Ben, an eCommerce marketing professional currently with Nectarsleep. “It’s one of the few tools in the space that has taken a new perspective to opt-ins. Their retargeting funnel capability is genius (think email style advanced automations but on site) you can change the messaging and content of their modals to match where a person is in their buyer journey.”
If SEMrush isn’t right for you, Ahrefs offers an alternative all-in-one search marketing platform for online stores.
“This is a must-have tool for any e-commerce company where new products are launched constantly, and SEO is essential for online sales,” says Hamna Amjad, community manager at Gigworker. “This is a complete tool-set for managing your content marketing strategies and keeping an eye on your competitors. It lets you monitor competition, conduct keyword research, and analyze backlinks continuously to stay on top of your market.”
“Using this tool, you can get a clear idea of what products your target audience is looking for. You can completely understand why your competitors are ranking so high and what you need to do to outrank them. You can do an in-depth SEO audit for your website to figure out an overall SEO health score and visualize key data in charts. It will find out all possible SEO issues and also provide recommendations on how to fix them.”
No eCommerce marketing strategy is complete without a sound social media presence, but running multiple accounts across a slew of different platforms can be a difficult juggling act. Enter Sprout Social, a social media manager that consolidates disparate social media accounts into a central platform.
“You can schedule an unlimited number of posts per day across multiple platforms,” continued Amjad. “You can manage all your social media campaigns and also measure the performance of these campaigns. It will give you insights about your audience and help you in improving your social media marketing strategies which will ultimately lead to sales and profit.”
If you’re looking for an alternative to Sprout, you could go with Buffer, a social media management platform with a seamless calendar and scheduling functionality.
“The more effectively you know your customer, the more persistent you will actually be in selling the product,” says Brett Helling, CEO at Ridester. “For this, we use Buffer for our timely delivery on posts and shareability with the customers. Due to different time zones, we prefer automation of our social media posts and the results it provides is phenomenal.”
An email marketing tool that allows for highly personalized marketing funnels, Ontraport’s automated campaigns can be easily tailored to any eCommerce store.
“The system is built to respond uniquely to each customer in the marketing funnel according to how they respond or interact,” says Nate Masterson, CMO of Maple Holistics. “Moreover, Ontraport offers a variety of email options. The tool can also help you oversee other aspects of your marketing campaign. Overall, Ontraport can turn your marketing into a well-oiled machine, while offering the personal touch and gentle care that you need to turn the maximum amount of leads into sales and loyal customers.”
If your online store relies heavily on content marketing, you’ll want to look into ActiveCampaign, a highly robust tool that allows store owners to build complex funnels.
“There are very few tools that can match the level of sophistication, integration, and ease of use that you find with Activecampaign,” says Ben of NectarSleep. “The ability to put people into customer audiences, or change automations based on on-site behavior, out of the box, is invaluable when you are trying to build complex funnels around quizzes and calculators that eventually warm a person to a purchase through personalized messaging and email sequences.”
“The SMS, and on-site popup modal functionality is also amazing – you can fire a message on any of these platforms as a step in their automations, which is amazing for taking a customer and meeting them on the platform they are most likely to engage with.”
If you’re interested in learning more about how to improve your eCommerce marketing strategy, or even just the performance of your online store overall, reach out to Codal. With over ten years of experience designing, developing, and maintaining digital stores, we know what makes online retail tick.