Goal Setting

How to Set Marketing Goals for Your Ecommerce Website: 3 Expert Strategies

From thinking about the big picture and analyzing marketing channels to setting milestones and creating dashboards, here is how to set smarter ecommerce website goals.

Jessica Malnik Jessica Malnik on May 16, 2022 (last modified on May 11, 2022) • 12 minute read

If you are like most ecommerce businesses, you are likely setting goals based on what you think needs to happen. 

While this can work, it is the spaghetti on the wall approach to setting goals. That’s to say you are hoping to get lucky. 

A more strategic approach to setting smart goals for your ecommerce business boils down to thinking about what you need to do to help more of your customers. From this lens, this means that the only things that really matter are creating marketing goals that either help them learn about your brand and products or make the process of purchasing easier or more delightful.

In this post, we’re going to share some expert strategies for setting website goals, how to analyze your most successful marketing channels as well as some of the most important ecommerce website goals. 

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Most Successful Marketing Channels for Ecommerce Websites 

Unless your ecommerce business is less than a year old, the first thing you need to do is take stock of your most impactful sales and marketing channels.  Knowing what’s working and what isn’t working can help you set more realistic and effective goals. 

most successful marketing channels for ecommerce

Out of the 45 ecommerce businesses and/or ecommerce agencies we surveyed, the top three most successful marketing channels for their businesses (or their clients’ businesses) were: 

  • Social media 
  • SEO 
  • Content marketing 

For example, Elliot Schwarcz of Becca’s Home says, “Deciding which channel (social media, SEO, or content) added the most value to our customers the previous year, has proven to be the most effective method for setting marketing goals.” 

Elliott has used all of three of these channels at various times in his business. 

“At the dawn of our business, investing in social media seemed prudent, and doing so exceeded our expectations. Content the following year became king as more eyes were on our product. As our ecommerce business grows, SEO becomes more and more beneficial and easier to pay due to increased revenue! In short, keeping an eye on what works when setting goals is ecommerce marketing 101!”

Let’s take a closer look at how these marketing channels helped some of the e-commerce businesses we surveyed:

Social Media Marketing

Social media marketing—both paid and organic—was the most effective channel for many of these ecommerce businesses. This makes sense given the fact that you scale 1:1 interactions with your followers and potential customers. 

“Social media is where we’re able to engage with our target audience almost instantaneously,” says Katie Lyon of Allegiance Flag Supply. “We respond quickly to their comments to encourage conversation and to foster engagement. Our social media ads do well for us, and we’ve been able to expand our target audience through them.”

Ansar Hammad of Entire Looks adds, “Social media marketing has worked best for us in the past 12 months because it’s allowed us to make more personal connections with our customers. We love talking directly to them about what they want, and we’ve seen a lot of growth since we started getting more active on social media.”

Once you see some initial traction on a social media, you can scale your targeting efforts via social media advertising. 

“Social media advertising has helped our clients develop strong inbound funnels by utilizing targeting, retargeting campaigns, and extended reach with measurable metrics that help track consumer behaviors and sentiment,” says Steven Derevencha of Atlas Creative Digital Marketing.  

Search Engine Optimization

Many 6 and 7-figure ecommerce businesses are in niche markets, that’s where focusing on SEO can be particularly effective.  

“We work with eCommerce brands that have a bespoke or less common niche to target – the use of SEO (occasionally supported with PPC) has been the most profitable way to really drive sales for these businesses and keep budgets as cost-effective as possible,” says Connor Hewson of Assured Marketing.   “However, when we have worked with brands who operate in a much more over-saturated market, Influencer marketing can often be a key way to really amplify a brand’s reach and message to drive sales quickly.”

Amrita Saigal of Kudos agrees, “We believe that investing time and money into search engine optimization has been crucial to our early success. Utilizing industry-specific keywords, obtaining backlinks, and optimizing our web pages are just some tactics we use to improve our online domain rating and long-term sales.”

Related: 18 Fundamental Ecommerce SEO Tips for Driving Sales Through Search Engines

Content Marketing

Many of the ecommerce businesses we surveyed relied on content marketing in conjunction with both SEO and social media. So, they are telling powerful stories that resonate with their ideal customer and then using SEO and social media to get the word out. 

One effective way to do that is by producing original content. 

“The most effective strategy to set marketing goals for my ecommerce website was curating original content,” explains Zephyr Chan of Better Tools. “ I have realized how creating high-quality pieces can set you apart from other brands. 

The competition is too high and attracting your consumers through creative content is the only way to effectively engage them. This may sound like extra effort but original content pays off in the long run. 

My ecommerce store is the perfect example, as I have added informative yet engaging posts to generate higher revenue. Instead of just focusing on well-written content, we have uploaded explainer videos for products to attract more customers. As a result, our marketing goals are achieved because our consumer retention ratio has increased.”

For example, Yuvi Alpert of Noemie adds, “Our products mark the most important events in people’s lives, so telling their stories through rich content marketing, connects with people on an emotional level. This, in turn, creates a more effective marketing campaign, gaining more shares, and while generating increased conversions.”

Most Important Website Goals for Ecommerce Websites 

With social media, SEO, and content marketing being particularly impactful channels for the businesses we surveyed, almost all of their ecommerce website goals tied directly back to that. 

most important goals for ecommerce websites

For example, the top-ranked goal was optimizing product pages for search engines. This makes sense since it doesn’t matter how great your product page is if no one sees it. You also need to meet your ideal customers where they are at and make sure the page is optimized for what they are looking for.

The 2nd and 4th most common goals revolved around capturing leads—both from the sign-up forms and social media. This is particularly true if you are running social media ads. Increased brand awareness is great, but you also need to have a way to communicate with them in the future to drive your customer acquisition costs. This is especially important if your product isn’t an impulse buy. 

The third most common goal was increasing customer loyalty, which means focusing on your customer experience and finding ways to encourage more word-of-mouth marketing and repeat purchases. 

Rounding out the top 5 most common goals is boosting sales from cross-sells and upsells. Both cross-sells and upsells can increase your average order value, so you are making more money from each customer. The two easiest times to upsell someone is right at checkout and during the unboxing experience. 

How to Set Website Goals for Your Online Business: 3 Expert Strategies 

While it can be tempting to just set goals based on industry best practices, like optimizing product pages for search, or what your competitors are doing, a more strategic approach is to set your goals based on the goals and objectives of your online business. 

1. Think About the Big Picture 

The most important aspect of goal-setting is to think long-term.

What is the desired outcome you are looking to achieve 6 months, 12 months, or 3 years from now? 

“The most effective strategy for me to set marketing goals for my eCommerce website would be by overviewing my long-term business goals,” says Dan Skaggs of One Thing Marketing. “For example, where do I see my venture in the next five years? Once I have set a timeline, it’s easier for me to set marketing goals. For example, if I want to scale my business, which platform should I relay my marketing efforts to see an increase in growth. Once I have a marketing plan, I tweak it according to the quarter’s available budget.”

Adhip Ray of WinSavvy adds, “In my experience consulting for ecommerce websites, I’ve seen that most rush after the generic marketing goals – build more backlinks, get more traffic, etc. I, on the other hand, have seen that those goals don’t work near as well when it comes to ecommerce websites. The reason is that most people do not want to buy from places that they do not trust. 

That’s why branding is the most essential goal that any ecommerce website must set. Try to land guest posts in leading industry websites, blogs, and news sites. Also, make sure you put forward your features in a prominent place on your website. That helps show your audience that you are a trusted brand in the niche. 

Next comes CRO. Most ecommerce websites are bleeding visitors! They put all their eggs into the ‘getting more traffic basket’ but forget to convert the traffic that they already have. Forget getting more traffic. If you can double or triple your CRO, you’ll generate enough revenue to build backlinks and get more traffic on auto-pilot! Do more and more A/B tests. Multivariate tests can wait until you have a very large brand with a huge daily visitors count. Optimize everything you can so as to ensure your CRO touches the roof! And truly enough, these two goal settings have been my most effective strategy for growing ecommerce websites.”

Related: Goals vs. KPIs: How to Set KPIs and Targets That Will Help You Reach Your Business Goals

2. Establish Milestones and Benchmarks for Lofty Goals 

Most of your website goals will be big, and take weeks, if not months or years, to come to fruition. One of the most effective ways to get momentum and keep you and your team’s morale up is to break these big goals into smaller, more achievable milestones. 

“The most effective strategy we work with clients on is having several goals and layers to those goals,” says JR Griggs of Red Wall Marketing. “Many times we see a goal as being just a purchase. But every step before that is important as a goal, to increase that chance of purchase. We set goals for traffic, time on site, products viewed, add to cart, purchase, and finally repeat purchases. Even with all those, there are more you can track and each one adds to overall revenue.

It is critical to track all of the ones mentioned and set goals for increasing each one individually. There are always correlations to traffic and purchases, add to carts and purchases, time spent and products viewed that add to purchases. So if you can work on each one, you ultimately get more purchases without just focusing on the most expensive part, which is getting more traffic.”

Related: Goals Based Reporting: Everything You Need to Know

Set up SMART goals 

A useful framework for setting realistic ecommerce marketing goals is creating SMART goals

Evelyn Smith of Foxbackdrop explains, “For us, the most effective strategy has been to set SMART goals. This is a prevalent tactic due to its success and effectiveness. The goals that we set need to be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-bound. We set goals that are well-defined and highlight what we want to achieve with our marketing efforts. These goals have a quantitative element which makes them measurable and realistic. One such goal of ours is to “Generate ten leads per week.”

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Set and Visualize Website Goals for Your Online Business in Databox 

Once you have decided on your ecommerce marketing goals, you need a way to actually monitor and review your progress. 

You could use a spreadsheet. However, someone has to pull up each source and manually update the data each day or week. If the team member in charge of updating your spreadsheet goes on vacation for a week or forgets to update it, you have to backfill that data.

A better solution is to use dashboard software like Databox to monitor all of your goals in real-time and in one place. The best part is you can connect all of your data from Shopify, Google Analytics, Facebook Ads, etc, in a matter of minutes. 

Ready to build your ecommerce marketing dashboard? Create your free account here. 

About the author
Jessica Malnik
Jessica Malnik Jessica Malnik is a content strategist and copywriter for SaaS and productized service businesses. Her writing has appeared on The Next Web, Social Media Examiner, SEMRush, CMX, Help Scout, Convince & Convert, and many other sites.
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