Recently, I’ve been invited to an Online Marketing Congress. There were 450 managers from big and medium-sized companies in the room. Before my presentation, I began to wonder what I’d like to tell them.

“eCommerce is the new eMarketing” – an idea that may be considered as a profanity, because it changes the natural order of things. First there is marketing, sales comes later. So how is it possible that things are not the same online? Can we replace marketing with sales?

Let’s begin with the way in which advertising agencies sell their ideas to clients. Head of one of the biggest agencies told me: “we dance on a table to sell our vision”. Maybe some time ago it was good enough, but when the same client met with the people from eCommerce, instead of ‘dancing on a table’ they got:

  • numbers relevant to their business,
  • possibility to start marketing cooperation with high level of ROI,
  • controlled process of “going underwater” – for a specific purpose, ex. bringing new clients in,
  • branding as a support for sale, not as and end itself. A lot of companies have an excellent brand that they’ve worked on for many years and the time has come to use it,
  • economical budget management,
  • the end of a “agency-client” relation and instead relations that are truly based on partnership, because at the end of the day both parties benefit from the same thing – selling.

… which is why companies like P&G, Nestle, ING, Ferrari and many, many more are interested in eCommerce.

Selling online became a sort of the “Master Yoda” of the Internet. People from eCommerce have “been there, done that” and they “know all the answers”. Assuming that the Internet has evolved from an informative medium, through branding, all the way transactional and right now – relational media, eCommerce is in the vanguard of this evolution. When big companies are starting to use Internet to get new clients, eCommerce is much further, already building strong relations with those clients.

Ecommerce industry is the first one to assimilate new concepts and tools. 

Things you should learn from eCommerce

Online shops operate in a tough environment. According to Electronic Commerce by G. Schneider:

  • Online stores are losing from 20$ to 80$ on each client in the first year;
  • Nowadays the cost of bringing new client in is from 3 to 15 times higher than following purchase.

It forces them to improve ROI optimization by following different strategies.

Methods to increase ROI in eCommerce

Common issue is getting an “almost client”. Almost client is a person who’s interested in our offer but is not ready to buy (yet).

There are many techniques of dealing with this kind of a problem. The one that is basic and is working efficiently is to convert these people to the newsletter subscribers. If we’re able to convince them to receiving information from us, one day an opportunity to make a sale will finally present itself. It’s very efficiently done by Nick Patel on:

Graphic that encourages to engage through „Step-By-Step Guide“ download (in exchange for your e-mail address).

 In Divante we’ve collected over 6 000 subscribers of an online course by asking them for an e-mail address before showing them an educational video. People that subscribed, received a number of e-mails with lessons, which guided them through every corner of our website, presenting each and every one of Divante’s services.

 Over 6 000 e-mail addresses collected thanks to sharing a video on a website.

 Working for a Willsoor clothing brand, thanks to an aggressive e-mail addresses collecting, we’ve enlarged their mailing base by 34% in 6 weeks. New subscribers have very often made their first purchase right after the welcome e-mail, the purchase was also greater (basket bigger by 17,5%) and more frequent (conversion higher by 255%). There was a moment when 14,07% of all sales came from welcome e-mails!

These techniques are worth trying on every website, because even 70% of people leaving your website won’t ever come back. This statement is popularized by producent of a specialized tool which supports newsletter subscription conversion: .

Another effective trick is to find in analytics those pages which have a high bounce rate. They are the ones in which we should concentrate on collecting e-mail addresses. These people are going to leave our website anyway, but we may encourage them to registering by proposing them contextually related eBook.

eCommerce tools in the service of media

During the conference that I’ve mentioned before, many people were fascinated by great creations. Some of the presentations were mostly about showing beautiful video ads, whereas the fastest growing internet media use mostly technical methods to elaborate valuable content., quickly growing internet service, uses methods known from eCommerce. They often prepare up to 25 news subjects in order to check them in on-line tests and choose the ones that have the best click conversion. They also test arrangement of social media elements to find the scheme and form that will provide the best conversion rate. A lot of info about their work may be found in a presentation:

Modifications of social media elements in order to increase conversion rate. Source:

More and more often new media connect creation (making hypotheses) with engineering (testing and analysis). They can draw conclusions and adjust to customer needs. Meanwhile, next prelection on the conference was about Real Time Marketing. It caught my attention because it reminded me of RTB (Real-time Bidding), but while in RTB we’re talking about adjusting the message to the recipient, in Real Time Marketing we have hours, days and weeks. The presentation praised the company for being able to create an add „just 3 weeks“ after an event – what?!

Is anyone in eCommerce going to get excited about the Oreo cookies campaign that, „thanks to instant reaction on blackout during the game was able to create a picture that gained big range“..? „WOW“… exactly like trillion other pictures from 4chan that go viral and take only few minutes to be created. Is this how marketers nirvana looks like? If so, they should change their jobs, because in a few years nobody from the board is going to talk to them.

Content rules

I have to agree with one of the statements from this Congress. Unique, good and valuable content rules and will rule. Online shops, for a long time now, know that the perfect product description, counseling and inspiring a client is a key to success. Companies like build the whole navigation around content – supporting clients in their choice of something that suits them. They create professional magazines, filled with content and products. All of this is already happening and we don’t even need this trendy word – „content“ – to know that it works perfectly.

Even Google, despite all the changes in algorithms, still rewards simply good content. When Neil Patel, whom I’ve mentioned before, studied what is the average page length in the Google’s TOP 10 for different words, he got the result of over 2000 words.

People from sales have learned long time ago how to make a perfect product presentation. Let’s make an example from following screen. Can you see the product? If it’s barely visible – great! This product is used for a camouflage and that’s the way it should be presented in.

eCommerce knows what’s important

What is the most annoying situation in cooperation with marketing department? My favorite quote is “enlarge our logo by 10%”. It illustrates perfectly how little marketing departments understand the client. The client is not interested in logo, brand colors, color encoding of product lines etc. Truth be told, he usually doesn’t care.
When your goal is conversion, you learn every day to create things that are simple, so everyone could buy it, even the people who are tired and very busy. That forces you to focus on important stuff.
As in this perfect example from About Face 3. The Essentials of Interaction Design by Alan Cooper, Robert Reimann and Dave Cronin: in a fighter aircraft you don’t mix the switches for windshield wipers and ejection. First there are important things then less important ones and the rest you can probably delete.

Following this rules and eye tracking studies, we’ve learned that:

  • big and contrast buttons draw attention and encourage to click on them. “Continue shopping” button or “sign-up to newsletter” button should do the same.
  • any kind of distractions lower conversion rate. Offering related products, packing as a gift or other options in the basket may and usually causes conversion decrease.

eMarketing in eCommerce style

Here a question should be asked: “If it is so great then how can I use all of these techniques when e.g. selling specialized products such as grease and motor oil for trucks and tractors? No one is going to buy it online. I can use Internet only for marketing purposes, right?”

Good that you’ve asked, because accidentally I have a perfect example for this sector :-) For a several months now we’re working in Divante for a company that sales this kind of a product. Sale is made via tradesmen and it requires a lot of counseling.

We cannot sell online but we can organize the whole marketing in a way like if we could. We start by launching a landing page and constant optimization using tool. Our goal is to collect leads and set an appointment between those people and our tradesman.

Using the A/B tests we determine that in this specific situation:

  • Clients respond best to graphics presenting people and those in which the product is in the foreground,
  • Changing the number of fields to minimum doesn’t affect significantly on conversion ratio.

We launch every marketing channel that comes to mind and we run multiple tests again, examining effectiveness of every channel and the cost of getting an interaction with client.
We start to collect leads. It turns out that sales conversion from the leads we’ve collected is approximately 30% a month and in the best months conversion of leads to sale ratio can reach even 70%.

We’ve just replaced traditional marketing in “we’re present online” style for a machine obtaining new clients.

Another difficult case is a company that sells very advanced HR services. Similar approach gave a result after few weeks:

  • increase of a time of the visit by over 37%,
  • 35 leads with contact data, most of them ended in buying a service or starting new testing activities.

In this case during the tests we’ve discovered that:

  • The most valuable (conversion) traffic comes from Google AdWords campaigns or from LinkedIn Ads;
  • Creation of landing page and banners is less relevant that the verbal communication and a good bonus for a potential client,
  • Static creation have bigger efficiency (conversion) than animated ones.

Combination of eCommerce and eMarketing

Of course we don’t say that you should stop thinking about marketing. I just believe more in creating a synergy effect between these two worlds.
Using tools such as empathy map or design studio workshops we combine marketing and sales departments on one-day pre-workshop, which starts our cooperation with new clients.

For marketing, eCommerce can be:

  • an inspiration,
  • a path,
  • a set of proven methods.

That’s what I wish to all of the marketers!

Tomasz Karwatka

Supervisory Board Member at Divante. Leading industry voice who believes eCommerce can improve our world. Co-founder of Vue Storefront and Open Loyalty, angel investor, and founder of Tech To The Rescue. CEO at Divante eCommerce Technology Company | LinkedIn | Twitter

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