what is e-commerce marketing?

As a matter of fact, marketing activities for e-commerce companies are not much different from marketing activities conducted by non-e-commerce companies. Trying to find the differences between them isn’t much different than putting two people side by side and going “this one’s eyes are green, and the other one is taller.”

Yes, this is a fact.

You could ask me why I named the book “The Black Box of E-commerce – Stories About Marketing”. Because if I titled something else, you wouldn’t read it.

That’s a kind of marketing tactic in itself. But you shouldn’t forget that, if you are doing an e-commerce based business, there are matters and strategies you need to highlight and prioritize. Yes, marketing is marketing all the time, but online sales are structured on different dynamics.

Have you ever done research on e-commerce marketing on the internet? Let me tell you something if you haven’t, you will encounter a large number of sources, whether in your mother tongue or foreign languages, telling you to ‘target the right audience’ which is as broad advice as it could get. They’re not wrong with the advice, but it isn’t specific to e-commerce[1].

So, there are those who hold digital marketing equal to e-commerce marketing. Digital marketing is the name given to online marketing efforts. Who says you need to do e-commerce to benefit from digital marketing? Nobody. Limiting e-commerce marketing to digital marketing is no different from sitting at home on a sunny day and watching the scenery outside.

Throughout the book, you will often encounter references to concepts and methods regarding marketing. So, it is important to make sure that we establish a common ground. Let’s start with the groundwork.

What is marketing?

I’ve asked the question “What’s marketing?” to many people, I still continue to do so.

I received a different response almost every time, and I’m still getting mixed responses.

New graduates, you are absolved; you usually answer this question with a memorized snowclone such as “The whole of the activities carried out in order to increase sales of products or services.” The responses of engineers and entrepreneurs are somewhat different, and they find it appropriate to answer this question with mere concepts such as ‘growth hacking’ or ‘guerrilla marketing’ rather than an explanation.

What is marketing? In tersely, “All of your efforts to be able to keep selling your product and keep the costs at optimum.” This includes pre-sales, product management, customer relations management and after-sale. Marketing has an aspect that touches every point of the company. Without marketing, the others would be lacking.

We need to clarify a few things…

If the marketing department in a company is only interested in advertising, then there is no marketing department in that company. That is an advertisement department.

Your product may be excellent and may sell incredibly well, but if you are replying to customers five days late, this problem will not just be a problem of customer service, it will also be a marketing problem because this will adversely affect people’s views about your company.

If you are continually updating and upgrading your product, but if your customers are not using these new features, that means either you aren’t communicating these new features to your customers good (generally, product managers are blaming the marketing for this issue, and marketers are blaming the sales-persons), or these new features are not useful for your customers.

Marketing and sales are also one of the most mixed concepts. If a marketing team is continually going to customer interviews and trying to sell products, then they’re not aware that they’re actually the sales team.

I want to make a few more things about sales clear: You can take that as my personal crusade. Because I still find myself trying to tell people what I do is not “sales”.

How many people can really tell the difference between sales and marketing because marketing and sales often intertwine?

They are very close to each other, but I liken sales to scoring goals in soccer. You prepare the circumstances, the field, you make the game, and the sales team scores the goal. Depending on the nature of the business, you may not have a sales team, or you may only have a team that is taking care of critical customers. But it’s crucial to understand that these people are not in marketing.

As I wrote at the beginning of this section, I think marketing is always marketing. Whether you sell a fridge from a store or a ring on the internet, the fundamentals of marketing don’t change. However, if we are talking about e-commerce specific marketing activities, we should break ourselves free from “Create monitoring reports” or “Send regular e-mails to our customers” approaches and have some unique approaches for e-commerce. For example, do you know about cart abandonment rate? Or card information storing feature? It’s critical that you know about these and similar things in order to stand out in e-commerce.

Companies can only stay alive through selling. For this reason, every bit of marketing you do is mainly aimed at giving the final answer to these two questions: “How do I sell more products?” and “How do I continue to maintain sales?[2]

If you try to solve these questions with popular concepts, and if you’re lucky enough you can gain temporary, momentary growth. But I believe it is a waste of time to follow new concepts that are constantly coming out often. You may ask why? For instance, later in the book, you’ll find parts that I’ve referenced to quite old marketing and advertising books. The reason I chose quotations from old sources as much as possible is to show that the fundamentals of marketing actually don’t change. Some may call what you’re doing ‘green marketing’ some others may call it “viral marketing”, but these definitions shouldn’t affect what you do and why you do it. [3]

In the following sections of the book, I have tried to address all the points I think are crucial, from the market analysis to the process management, from the site design to the pricing. But let me say that the first few chapters may not be as fun as you may think, or even they may be outright boring.

[1]I even saw the ‘respect your customers’ suggestion. Whatever business you do, you should already respect your customers. If you take that obvious advice seriously, you’re on the wrong track.

[2]I think that marketing is linked to in-house cost management, but that connection is not always well defined and assessed. However, it must be considered that some of the work done to reduce costs hurts marketing efforts and therefore sales. So, even though reducing costs isn’t prime objective of marketing, it should ensure that the business is carried out at optimum cost.

[3]On top of that, we’ll all be at sea if we start talking about these so-called ‘experts’ of two to three-year-old trends