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  • Writer's pictureHearst Pittsburgh

The Ecommerce Playbook: Lessons for Advertisers from Digital Disruptors

The growth of ecommerce disruptors in today's crowded marketplaces has been nothing short of phenomenal. These disruptors have captured the attention and loyalty of millions of customers with their reimagined products, exceptional customer experiences, and convenient delivery options. Consumers in turn want more from retailers than ever and are pushing the boundaries of traditional shopping.


The list of disruptors is long, and the list of tactics that spurred their growth is even longer. We’re looking at some of the key ingredients to their success in acquiring and retaining customers that advertisers, traditional or otherwise, can emulate:


01 | Making data-informed decisions

Why it matters: Ecommerce companies are experts in using data to make informed decisions about their advertising. They track customer behavior, sales, and website traffic to optimize their advertising campaigns. With data guiding their process, they can fail fast and sunset channels or creative that doesn’t resonate, while confidently upping their investment in the ad strategies that work.


How Instacart gets it right: As a leader in the online grocery shopping and delivery space, Instacart uses data to make informed decisions about everything from product selection to delivery routes to pricing. By leveraging data and technology, Instacart provides a seamless and personalized shopping experience for its customers. The company's data-driven approach turns data into insights to make sense of customer behavior, shopping trends, and delivery data. Those insights equip them to acquire and keep customers, improve services, and stay ahead of the competition.

02 | Creating great customer experiences on any screen

Why it matters: When it comes to building brand awareness and acquiring customers, rising ecommerce companies leverage a mix of ad channels. With compelling content strategically placed across television, streaming, social media, display, email, mobile devices, and more, their integrated campaigns reach customers at the critical moments of in their shopping journey. By creating consistent, cohesive, and accessible experiences across all touchpoints on any screen, they reduce friction and increase conversion. Traditional advertisers can adopt similar customer-centric approaches to better connect with their target audience through an omnichannel presence.


How Peloton gets it right: When Covid-19 broke out and social distancing measures were put in place, the demand for at-home fitness equipment skyrocketed. So, what launched Peloton to the top of this saturated space in the peak of the pandemic boom? The company ramped up its advertising efforts across a variety of channels. They grew awareness with an increased investment in TV advertising, creating high-quality commercials that showcase the benefits of their products and targeted specific demographics. They drove consideration further online, targeting people who were searching for at-home fitness solutions with a a robust mix of search, social media, and display ads.


03 | Leveraging influencer marketing

Why it matters: Building an audience from scratch is tough. It takes great content, a deep understanding of your target buyers, consistency, and time. That’s where influencers can provide a powerful jumpstart. Influencers bring their own audiences (whose trust and attention they’ve carefully earned over time) to the table. Through influencer partnerships, growing ecommerce disruptors are tapping into the loyal audiences to reach new customers and build brand awareness. Traditional advertisers can do the same by seeking out influencers in their space and making strategic partnerships.


How Amazon gets it right: While the online retail juggernaut Amazon needs no introduction here in 2023, advertisers should get to know their dedicated Influencer Program. With this program influencers can create a profile, list their favorite products, and share those products with their followers. When a follower makes a purchase, the influencer earns a commission. This program allows Amazon to reach a wider audience and promote products through influencer recommendations. The company also partners with influencers to create sponsored content that showcases products and drives sales. This content can include product demonstrations, unboxing videos, and product reviews, lending their products the social proof that new customers crave.


04 | Crafting strong brand identities

Why it matters: High-growth ecommerce brands have a strong brand identity that resonates with their target audience. They have a clear mission and values, and their branding reflects this. Strong brand identity helps to differentiate a company's products and services from those of its competitors and can increase the impact of advertising by making ads more memorable and appealing to customers. Ads that are consistent with a company's brand identity are more likely to resonate with customers and create a positive impression.


How The Farmers Dog gets it right: The Farmer's Dog, an online pet food service that specializes in fresh food and convenient delivery, has successfully positioned itself as a company that understands the emotional bond that owners have with their pets. On their website's About Us section, customers find the all-too-relatable story of the founder's journey to help his puppy through two years of digestive struggles, culminating in the founding of the company. Coupled with their commitment to health and wellness, exceptional customer service, and social responsibility, their brand is one that their pet-loving customers connect with on an authentic, emotional level.


05 | Delivering personalized experiences

Why it matters: Another factor driving the growth of ecommerce disruptors is their focus on personalization. These companies understand that consumers today are looking for products and experiences that are tailored to their specific needs and preferences, and they use technology and data to create personalized shopping experiences that are unmatched by traditional retailers. From product recommendations to tailored marketing campaigns, ecommerce disruptors are using personalization to drive customer engagement and loyalty.


How StitchFix gets it right: Personalization is at the core of online personal styling service StitchFix's growth strategy. Their service, built on machine learning algorithms, makes personalized product recommendations to refresh their customers wardrobes. Before the customer has even made a purchase, they use fun and engaging style quizzes to capture an individual's unique preferences, demographics, and shopping behaviors. These data points are then turned into customized marketing messages to increase open and click-through rates, as well as improve the overall effectiveness of marketing efforts.



In conclusion, ecommerce disruptors have changed the retail landscape forever, and have set a new standard for what customers expect from the brands that they interact with. Traditional advertisers can adapt to these changes and learn from the strategies that ecommerce disruptors are using to drive growth and stay ahead in a fast-changing market.

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