The Digital Marketing Landscape of Ecommerce
For an ecommerce business in 2021, there are limited options for an ecommerce business.
This is the prime method of driving revenue for the ecommerce businesses. Most firms don't even bother to build out their own presence. This is a good deal for the Marketplace platforms. They get to increase their offerings, without the capital expenses of inventory. Some marketplaces even allow sellers to house inventory into the platform's warehouse and utilize Its logistics network. This also allows them to maintain and even increase its service capacity. For sellers, it allows them access to the huge customer bases of Amazon, Alibaba, et al, without significant marketing spend. Except...
Ad spend on Amazon crossed $18Billion of ad revenue, and AliBaba $23Billion, in 2020. Globallly, the former has the fourth-largest digital ads inventory in the world. The latter has the third largest. These ad charges can eat in to a sellers margins, especially since the marketplaces already charge a fees for listing and selling. For all that marketing spend, the sellers do not get any customer information. The emails are encoded, and it is a breach of contract to use the phone number for anything other than delivery facilitation. Despite all the advantages, the sellers seem to lose advantage in this situation.
Digital ads are a huge revenue generator. Google's page rank has become more and more complex nut to crack and SEO might be dying or at least becoming expensive enough so as to be out of reach of many smaller merchants. There are many options for buying ads, but most merchants use them to drive "lower-funnel" conversions; customers who are already looking to buy something rather than people who need to be convinced to buy something.
The most important channels, in order, are:
Google Product Listing Ads( popularly known as Google Shopping Ads).
Facebook Conversion or Catalog ads.
Besides giving you access to vast swathes of customers with high purchase intent, you have reasonable restrictions on customer data. You can even remarket to bouncing customers, and retarget your competitors customers. Unfortunately, they can do the same to you. This is a 'level-playing' field, to a fault. While digital advertising has many advantages over TV, you will never have a brand or business become huge only on the basis of Google and Facebook ads. We have many examples of that for TV, biggest being Nike.
Email was the internet's 'killer app' before the web. And it is an important technology still. Despite many pronouncements of email being dead, the interoperability that is missing from proprietary chat clients. It is also asynchronous. Both technologically and culturally. Nobody expects and immediate reply when sent an email. Or at least, nobody you'd like to be friends with. Which makes it ideal for direct access to your customers.
Once you get into customer's emails, it gives you many opportunities. Not just remarketing and retargeting, but also a way to inform. You can segment and run promotions. Email can create a direct relationship with your customers. Without a gatekeeper. All you need is the infrastructure for email blasts. It is the reason newsletters are also seeing a revival, including this platform right here. However, email itself has its own challenges
Email is synonymous with spam. Most emails sent out are spam. Most spam filters are good enough to filter out the truly malicious stuff, but stigma is there. Plus the dark patterns employed by business to get people on the mailing list and to prevent them to get off that list, can alienate your audience.
As the importance of email becomes more and more apparent in face of the monopolistic actions of BigTech firms, peoples inboxes are getting saturated with promotional emails, newsletters, bills and government updates.
Email is Dead
Young people are not fans of email. Not only that, mobile-first and mobile-only users leapfrogged over email altogether. That would make up the majority of internet users going forward. Of course, the heading is dramatic for effect. Email is not going to die anytime soon. It just works, always. But its importance will be diminished in the coming decade, as the next billion users get online.