12 Underrated Marketing Strategies for Promoting Small E-Commerce Businesses

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By Jacob Maslow

In search of the most underrated marketing strategies for small e-commerce businesses, we’ve gathered twelve unique insights from top SEO consultants and CEOs. From starting with user-generated content to building a community around your company, these industry leaders share their secret strategies for success. Dive into these expert tips to give your e-commerce business a competitive edge.

  • Begin with User-Generated Content
  • Implement a Referral Program
  • Establish a Customer Follow-Up Sequence
  • Understand User Intent and Upsell
  • Leverage Email Communication
  • Collaborate and Cross-Promote
  • Create Content Partnerships
  • Focus on Educational Content Marketing
  • Use Lookalike Audiences on Facebook
  • Seek Podcast Appearances
  • Take Advantage of Blog Posts
  • Build a Community Around Your Company

1. Begin with User-Generated Content

One underrated marketing strategy I use for my small e-commerce business is leveraging user-generated content. This includes sharing reviews, testimonials, and photos from customers who have used and loved our products. It helps build trust and credibility and fosters community among our customers. It’s a simple yet effective way to promote our business authentically.

Lukasz Zelezny, SEO Consultant, SEO Consultant London

2. Implement a Referral Program

We have a referral program where current customers earn rewards for bringing in new clients. We’ve promoted this initiative multiple times on our social media pages to encourage our current clientele to introduce new clients to our e-commerce store. Through the power of word-of-mouth advertising, this tactic has done wonders for our e-commerce store’s popularity.

Ayman Zaidi, CEO and Marketing Expert, BackToHan

3. Establish a Customer Follow-Up Sequence

In my experience running a marketing agency, one of the most effective strategies for small e-commerce businesses is implementing a customer follow-up sequence, typically via email. This sequence should ask for feedback, request reviews, and offer discounts for future purchases and referrals.

By doing this, we turn satisfied customers into an extension of our sales team. This approach has consistently delivered strong customer engagement and revenue growth results.

Chris Stott, Director, Seven Marketing

4. Understand User Intent and Upsell

Understanding the intent of your users or audience is the best way to indulge in strategies that promote your business. People often work with email marketing, feedback, smart replies, and more. It’s found that upselling is not focused on in a centered manner.

Upselling can convince your audience of their desired product and lead to them buying more. General human behavior forces the audience to imagine buying all the products and simply pondering over their benefits. Imagine you upsell footwear with a beautiful dress, and there you go, completing your audience’s outfit. This way, you convert more, and that too for the long term.

It’ll always work since you’re providing value to your customers and creating a consumer pattern through consumer intent. You must be careful with what products you upsell and at which price points. This strategy could backfire if you upsell a higher-priced product to the extreme.

Jon Kelly, SEO Specialist, 1st On The List

5. Leverage Email Communication

In my experience promoting my small e-commerce business, leveraging email communication was an underrated marketing strategy.

Using email, I could establish a direct line of communication with potential customers and nurture relationships with them over time. This allowed me to provide personalized product recommendations, exclusive offers, and updates, which helped to build trust and loyalty. I stayed top-of-mind with customers through regular email communication and kept them engaged with my brand.

This strategy proved effective in driving repeat purchases and generating word-of-mouth referrals, ultimately contributing to the growth of my business. By consistently delivering valuable content and maintaining open lines of communication, email marketing became a cost-effective and powerful tool for driving customer retention and fostering long-term business success.

Saneem Ahearn, VP of Marketing, Colorescience

6. Collaborate and Cross-Promote

We use collaboration and cross-promotion strategies by partnering with complementary businesses and brands to cross-promote each other’s products or services. This is done through joint marketing campaigns, co-hosting events, and featuring each other’s products on our websites or social media platforms.

We can expand our reach and generate more sales by tapping into each other’s customer base. This marketing strategy has also helped us reach a new audience and gain more visibility.

Kiran Mehra, Co-Founder and President, GoldspotPens

7. Create Content Partnerships

To promote my small e-commerce business, I focus on creating content partnerships. Content creation is an important part of any successful promotion plan, but teaming up with another like-minded company whose audience overlaps yours can create powerful results. So, I did the same and partnered with a company.

Our collaborative content boosted website visits and generated leads from both audiences. It’s worth exploring how this could work for you.

Alex Murray, Search Director, Tilious

8. Focus on Educational Content Marketing

Having run an e-commerce store for over two decades, I can attest that impactful marketing strategies are only sometimes the most ostentatious. One resourceful approach we rely on is educational content marketing.

In our industry—personal protective equipment—the value of knowledgeable guidance often parallels that of the products. Rather than solely promoting our inventory, we educate our audience about crucial topics like workplace safety, compliance, and best practices. This dual role as a trusted information source augments our product line’s value. Clients frequently come for educational resources and opt to invest in safety equipment.

The added benefit here is that the educational approach not only garners attention but also cultivates trust. Essentially, we’re not simply transacting a sale; we’re providing an enriching experience beyond the purchase. And an educated customer is, more often than not, a repeat customer.

Todd Saunders, General Manager, BIG Safety

9. Use Lookalike Audiences on Facebook

Lookalike audiences on Facebook can significantly bolster your small e-commerce business. This approach harnesses Facebook’s data-driven capabilities to pinpoint individuals who closely resemble your customer base. It translates to a heightened potential for engaging with prospects predisposed to be interested in your offerings.

Without explicitly mentioning “use lookalike audiences on Facebook,” this approach enables e-commerce businesses to expand their reach and target a broader audience effectively. This strategy can substantially enhance the efficiency of advertising campaigns by driving higher conversion rates and optimizing the allocation of marketing resources.

Joe Acosta, Digital Marketing Manager, BBQ Galore

10. Seek Podcast Appearances

One thing that you significantly undervalue as the owner of an e-commerce business is your knowledge. Operating an e-commerce company is hard work, and along the way, you gain a ton of experience with marketing, logistics, product development, finances, and more.

Even though it might not feel like it, you have some valuable information to share, and podcast hosts are dying to interview active entrepreneurs like yourself. The best part is that podcast appearances can have a massive impact on promoting your growing e-commerce brand.

So, I actively seek out podcasts for e-commerce owners and entrepreneurs to interview—especially those related to business and finance. I’ve found this a massively underrated way to boost your online store. Podcast appearances give your brand exposure and recognition; they often link back to your site from their podcast website (SEO gold), boosting your reputation.

John Ross, CEO, Test Prep Insight

11. Take Advantage of Blog Posts

One of the best strategies with e-commerce marketing is to take advantage of blog posts.

A blog can attract more people to your business by getting your name out there. The more times your business name appears somewhere, the greater the chances of it popping up first in a search engine. A blog can also be more personable and generate topics of conversation by having your business ideas out there for everyone to read.

A blog can be a source of inspiration and put personality into your business, which attracts people to want to read more about you and your company. However, a blog needs to be consistently updated for your customers to be attracted to your website. It is best practice and in your best interest to start and continue blogs to keep your customers coming back, even if they are not actively buying something.

Sean Chaudhary, CEO, Alchemy Leads

12. Build a Community Around Your Company

Create a sense of community around your e-commerce company. This can include developing a forum, a Facebook group, or a dedicated Instagram hashtag where customers can share their experiences, ask questions, and communicate with one another. Participate in these groups to foster trust, get input, and promote word-of-mouth marketing. A robust community can become a loyal consumer base and a valuable source of referrals.

Tom Miller, Director of Marketing, Fitness Volt

Implementing Expert Recommendations: Your Tactical Game Plan

1. Begin with User-Generated Content

  • Request and Share: Encourage customers to share their experiences with your product. Create a unique hashtag for social sharing.
  • Showcase: Feature user-generated content on your website, especially in key areas like product pages or testimonials.

2. Implement a Referral Program

  • Reward Structure: Offer discount codes or small freebies for every new customer referred.
  • Promote: Use social media and email newsletters to remind customers of your referral program.

3. Establish a Customer Follow-Up Sequence

  • Automate: Use email marketing tools to set up automated follow-up emails.
  • Personalize the email content by using the customer’s name and purchase history.

4. Understand User Intent and Upsell

  • Analyze: Look at the customer journey and identify where upselling can fit naturally.
  • Bundle Offers: Group complementary products and offer them at a discounted price.

5. Leverage Email Communication

  • Segmentation: Divide your email list based on customer behavior and preferences.
  • Content Calendar: Plan your email marketing strategy, aligning with sales, promotions, or product launches.

6. Collaborate and Cross-Promote

  • Identify Partners: Choose businesses that complement your offerings but don’t compete with them.
  • Co-Marketing: Run joint campaigns that benefit both parties, like shared discount codes or giveaways.

7. Create Content Partnerships

  • Reach Out: Contact blogs or other online platforms that cater to your audience.
  • Mutual Benefits: Propose partnership ideas that offer value to both parties.

8. Focus on Educational Content Marketing

  • Resource Library: Create how-to guides, e-books, or videos that educate your audience.
  • Blog: Share educational articles that solve the problems of your target customers.

9. Use Lookalike Audiences on Facebook

  • Data Mining: Use your customer data to create a Facebook Lookalike audience.
  • Test and Tweak: Keep refining your Lookalike parameters for best results.

10. Seek Podcast Appearances

  • Network: Make a list of podcasts that align with your niche.
  • Pitch: Write a compelling pitch explaining what value you can offer their audience.

11. Take Advantage of Blog Posts

  • SEO-Focused: Incorporate relevant keywords to improve your blog’s visibility.
  • Guest Posts: Write for other blogs in your industry to expose your brand to new audiences.

12. Build a Community Around Your Company

  • Social Media Groups: Create or engage in groups on platforms like Facebook or Reddit.
  • Q&A Sessions: Hold periodic Q&A sessions to answer customer queries and build community.

Your E-Commerce Growth Stages: Tailored Tactics for Success

For Small E-Commerce Businesses

  • Leverage social media for low-cost advertising.
  • Use influencer partnerships to increase brand awareness.

For Growing E-Commerce Businesses

  • Invest in advanced SEO and content marketing strategies.
  • Experiment with different advertising channels to identify the most effective ones.

For Established E-Commerce Businesses

  • Develop a loyalty program to retain customers.
  • Consider expanding into new markets or product lines for further growth.

By adopting these tailored tactics alongside the expert recommendations, your e-commerce business—small, growing, or established—will be well-equipped for success.

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