The Most Effective Ecommerce Lead Generation Tips and Strategies

by Neil Patel

Last updated on August 22nd, 2018

ecommerce-lead-generation

I have some bad news for you. It might hurt.

Everything you’ve read about lead generation strategies might not apply to your business. Why? Because ecommerce lead generation is different.

If you run a business outside of the ecommerce family, feel free to check out another Crazy Egg article that applies to your company. For those of you in the ecommerce market, though, we need to clarify the best ways for you to boost lead generation.

The thing is, ecommerce customers operate differently than patrons of other businesses. They have different motivations, shopping habits, and objections.

That’s why you have to tailor your lead gen approach specifically to an ecommerce audience.

Don’t worry. I’ll walk you through it.

First, Do you Know What a Lead Is in Ecommerce Marketing?

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Let’s get a couple definitions out of the way.

An ecommerce marketing lead is anyone who has shown interest in your brand or ecommerce products. He or she might have clicked on a Twitter Ad, landed on your website, and explored a few of your products.

You might not have his or her contact information yet. And you don’t really need it, at least until more touch points occur. Sure, you can collect email addresses with lead magnets and other incentives, but ecommerce lead generation often involves more on-page optimization than email collection.

Who is your target lead?

Your target lead is someone who is likely, willing, and able to buy something from your online store. That’s it.

A marketing lead, on the other hand, is someone whose contact information you have acquired. You can communicate with him or her through email or other communication channels to nurture that person toward a future purchase.

You might deal more with target leads than market leads in ecommerce, but you have to understand both.

If you run a sports apparel store, your target leads might include athletes, fitness junkies, people who want to lose weight, gym newcomers, and more. Ecommerce target leads often include broader demographics than other types of businesses.

We’ll discuss why later.

What you need to know now is that you must define your target lead. Figure out what qualities and characteristics he or she has. Maybe you have dozens of target leads. Perhaps you have just a couple. Either way, take the time to get those buyer personas on paper.

Why is ecommerce lead generation different?

Let’s move away from the bad news talk, all it does is discourage people – it’s fine maybe once at the beginning, but at this point not helpful. Your audience is ecommerce people – not necessarily people who are already familiar with SaaS and looking to move over to ecommerce

I’ll paint two scenarios for you.

Scenario One: You sell SaaS subscriptions. When someone visits your website, he or she might poke around, sign up for your email list, visit your social media pages, check for online reviews, and spend days researching the competition. Eventually, he or she might make contact with a member of your sales team, first through email and then over the phone.

Scenario Two: You sell sunglasses. They range in price from $9 to $99. Most of your customers either arrive via Google search or social media post. Some come through ads. The average customer looks at four different pairs of customers before eventually buying one, thereby completing the checkout process.

Totally different, right?

For many businesses, the lead generation and nurturing process can take months. With ecommerce lead generation, a lead can become a customer in 60 seconds, assuming he or she has a credit card close by.

Why Do You Need to Generate Leads for Your Ecommerce Website?

The scenarios I described above don’t indicate you should halt or avoid ecommerce lead generation. You still need leads. They just behave differently.

The buyer’s journey tends to be shorter than with other purchases. The lower the cost of your products, the shorter the journey.

A customer might spend a few days thinking about a new computer or a VR headset. Most won’t spend more than a few minutes considering a pair of earbuds or a six-pack of boxers.

Understanding the buyer’s journey can help you generate more traffic and leads. You need to know what will attract consumers to your ecommerce store and convince them to buy.

Paul Graham of Y COMBINATOR once said, “You can’t wait for customers to come to you. You have to figure out where they are, go there, and drag them back to your store.”

In other words, the focus of ecommerce lead generation should be branching out to find your customers and giving them a reason to visit your store. That’s it.

As long as you have good products, great sales copy, and a smooth checkout process, generating leads will lead to sales.

The Most Effective Ecommerce Lead Generation Tips and Strategies

With Graham’s advice in mind, and knowing that ecommerce lead generation looks a little different from other businesses’ lead gen strategies, let’s look at some of the most effective tips you can put to use today.

1. Offer value to your audience through great content

Yes, ecommerce store owners need to create content. It’s not just about those flashy sales pages. You want to provide people with information, inspiration, and news.

If you visit the Cutter & Buck blog, for instance, you’ll find tons of articles providing fashion advice.

ecommerce-lead-generation-through-great-content

The company isn’t a fashion magazine. It’s an ecommerce store that sells golf apparel and accessories.

It all comes back to the shortened buyer’s journey. A consumer can go from the top to the bottom of the sales funnel in just minutes, even if the idea to buy a product has just occurred to them.

Here’s how it might work.

One of Cutter & Buck’s prospective customers conducts a Google search on sun-protective clothing. He’s just gathering information right now, so he’s at the top of of the funnel.

ecommerce-lead-generation-google-search-example

He discovers a Google search result that seems to match what he’s interested in.

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He clicks on the link and reads the article. About halfway through, he stumbles across the perfect solution for him.

ecommerce-lead-generation-example

And check it out! There’s a handy link to the product. He clicks it and arrives at the sales page. The product comes in a range of colors and is even on sale. Sold!

ecommerce-lead-generation-sale-process

The whole process might have taken just a few minutes, but this is why you need content. Attract people, educate them, and point them where you want them to go.

2. Optimize your content and sales pages for SEO

SEO matters no matter what type of content you’re writing. If you don’t optimize your content for search, nobody will find it.

You might already know to optimize your educational content, but what about your sales pages? It’s always beneficial to use targeted keywords and metatags to help prospects find your products.

Let’s go back to the Cutter & Buck example. The website does a beautiful job with images and options, but there’s also some tight, optimized sales copy.

ecommerce-lead-generation-sales-copy

Here, I’ve pointed out some specific semantic keywords that have been laced throughout the copy. All of these keywords are directly related to the product, so you’re more likely to find the page in search.

3. Create search ads with extensions

One of the best ecommerce lead generation tips is to try search ads. They’re enormously helpful, especially if you use ad extensions.

An ad extension allows you to include extra information in the ad. Let’s go back to the Cutter & Buck example.

Their ads show up in Google SERPs with sitelink extensions, which add extra links to specific pages on your website.

ecommerce-lead-generation-google-ads

Here, they’re directing shoppers to popular category pages as well as the About page.

These extensions tell your audience more about what types of products you offer. You can also include a link to your sales and discounts page, if you have one, or any page that might increase conversions.

4. Offer discounts and other attractive benefits

Speaking of incentives, you don’t want to lose a fish you’ve already landed. When a prospect is on your website, you need to give him or her a reason to stick around.

Maybe it’s an offer for free shipping or a $10-off coupon for first-time shoppers. You can also point people toward a list of the products that are currently on sale.

If you can hook your visitors immediately, ecommerce lead generation becomes far more effective.

5. Keep the reader on the site

In many cases, when it comes to ecommerce lead generation, you only have one visit to snag the sale. Obviously, you want to keep your visitor on the site as long as possible.

Testing different opt-in forms can help. If you capture your lead’s contact information, you can follow up and remind him or her that you exist.

Additionally, sprinkle internal links throughout your site, especially at the bottoms of pages or where people tend to stop scrolling. Use juicy anchor text to inspire excitement and curiosity.

Create links to related products — preferably with images — and consider offering a free, no-opt-in tool your leads can use. For instance, on a clothing site, consider adding a sizing chart where leads can enter their measurements.

6. Avail yourself of cookies and push notifications

Cookies are a powerful way to keep in contact with your audience. When you deposit cookies on your visitors’ computers, you can continually present content to leads in the form of retargeting ads (which I’ll discuss a bit later) and other strategies.

I also highly recommend asking visitors to opt in for push notifications. You’ve likely seen this before on other sites.

ecommerce-lead-generation-push-notification

When your leads allow push notifications, they’ll receive alerts about whatever news or information you want to share.

Just don’t abuse the privilege. It’s just like SMS or email marketing. If you reach out too often, you’ll just get blocked.

7. Offer a freebie

Some businesses lend themselves to freebies more than others. They’re particularly common in the lifestyle industry.

For instance, Smith & Noble sends out up to 30 free fabric samples per customer. That way, leads can see, touch, and otherwise interact with the fabric before making a decision.

ecommerce-lead-generation-free-samples

8. Run remarketing campaigns

Remarketing campaigns can also prove extremely effective as part of your ecommerce lead generation campaign. After a potential lead visits your site, he or she might see your ads on Facebook, Instagram, or any other social site with which you run these types of ads.

Even if your remarketing ads don’t automatically send those leads back to your site, you’ll increase their brand awareness. Later, when they realize they really do want that widget, they’ll remember your site and go back to it.

Since there are tons of ecommerce sites out there, brand recognition helps. You want people to remember what your site looks like, your logo, your business’s name, and your USP if possible. Continually putting your brand in front of consumers will help.

9. Host social media giveaways

Giveaways are always crowd pleasers on social media. People want to get free stuff even if thousands of other people participate in the event.

You can benefit several times over from giveaways:

  • People sharing your giveaway with friends
  • Winners feeling gratitude toward your brand
  • New people discovering your brand
  • People who didn’t win buying the product anyway

All you have to do is give away one of your products and pay for shipping. That’s it.

If you want to put even more effort into the event, run a contest. Ask your audience to submit user-generated content, such as images of themselves using one of your products. You pick a winner at random for the giveaway.

10. Identify user behaviors on your site

The more you pay attention to how users navigate your site, the greater your chances of generating leads becomes. Do most visitors arrive on your homepage first? Do they often click on the same links in the navigation bar?

Use this data to update your website’s design so it focuses on the areas that interest your users most. For instance, if one link in your navigation bar gets the most attention according to Google Analytics, move it up in the bar or make it larger and separate from everything else.

Since visitors can become customers during a first visit to your website, you want to keep them around. Give them what they’re looking for so they don’t find a reason to stray.

11. Simplify the checkout process

Optimizing your ecommerce checkout process can improve lead generation and sales. Even if a user abandons his or her shopping cart, you might get that person’s email in the bargain. Then, you can send a followup email.

Invite users to register first, but give them an option to continue as guests. Otherwise, you might miss out on sales.

Streamline the rest of the process so it’s as easy and obstacle-free as possible. You might consider offering more payment options, stating your shipping policy before the checkout process begins, and using multiple pages with a progress bar.

12. Use email marketing strategically

Collect as many emails as you can, but make sure you’re using your marketing messages strategically.

Just make sure you’re using your marketing messages strategically.

If you have an expensive or complicated product, for instance, an explainer email can help. Give the user an in-depth guide to the product — or, even better, link to an explainer video.

For cheaper products, consider hitting the consumer with a coupon code or free shipping off right off the bat. You don’t need as much of a warmup with ecommerce lead nurturing.

In terms of email collection, consider offering a monetary incentive instead of a traditional lead magnet. Maybe you give every new customer 20 percent off their first orders if they sign up for your email list.

Start Using Crazy Egg to Improve Your Lead Generation

Once you’ve implemented these best practices, you need to see how they perform on your particular site. Every ecommerce business and its audience is different, so you might need to make adjustments.

User behavior reports show you how website visitors interact with your site far beyond what Google Analytics can tell you. Look for areas of concentrated activity on a heatmap, for instance, and for where people stop scrolling on a scrollmap.

Confetti reports are particularly useful for ecommerce lead generation because they tell you where your visitors are coming from and how they are finding you. If you’re getting a lot of traffic from social media, for instance, you need to boost your efforts on your most valuable platforms to increase traffic.

Conclusion

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Ecommerce lead generation isn’t always easy. There’s lots of competition out there, so you don’t want to give your leads time to compare.

You can’t convert every visitor who lands on your site, but focusing on the visitor’s intent and needs helps. Are they coming from a Facebook Ad with a coupon code?

They’re ready to buy, so show them the goods. Did they land on a blog post through Google search? Give them as much information as possible so they feel comfortable in your capable hands.

Most importantly, never stop testing every element on your site. Review those user behavior reports, run A/B tests, and make changes accordingly.

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Neil Patel

Neil Patel is the co-founder of Crazy Egg and Hello Bar. He helps companies like Amazon, NBC, GM, HP and Viacom grow their revenue.

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