To help small e-commerce businesses discover underrated marketing strategies, we’ve gathered 17 insightful tips from CEOs, marketing managers, and other industry professionals. From harnessing niche-focused content to investing in digital PR, these experts share their best-kept secrets for promoting your business effectively. Dive into these invaluable insights and give your e-commerce business the boost it needs.
Harness Niche-Focused Content
As an e-commerce expert who’s helped build successful online brands, I believe niche-focused content is an underrated small business marketing strategy. In an increasingly crowded space, targeted content dramatically amplifies reach and resonance. The key is intimately understanding your niche audience.
Create content addressing their distinct interests, challenges, and questions. For one e-commerce brand I worked with, we, for example, shifted to hyper-relevant content—detailed guides, insider interviews, and tactical problem-solving. This precision allowed us to foster a highly loyal community.
Becoming true niche insiders through educational, value-added content is paramount. When you speak directly to your audience’s needs with high relevance, you can accelerate growth by cutting through the noise.
Partner with Micro-Influencers
Reaching out to micro-influencers on IG and TikTok to promote your e-commerce brand can be very cheap and efficient. Many of these influencers will just need a free product or an exclusive discount for their audience in order to promote your brand.
A micro-influencer is considered to be anyone with fewer than 100,000 followers. Influencers with more than 100k followers will usually charge to do a video promoting your brand.
Capitalize on Video Content
One of the more underrated strategies is video. Platforms such as YouTube are free, and any business can create videos there. Those same videos can be shared on Meta, Instagram, Reddit, TikTok, and more, resulting in more sales than businesses could imagine.
I believe most businesses just think videos need to be professionally done, which isn’t the case. The content just has to be good, and viewers won’t care about the production. Our business began making videos three years ago, and now it has resulted in 25% of our sales each month.
Utilize Pinterest’s Visual Appeal
I would say that Pinterest is a greatly underutilized platform, particularly for businesses that can leverage its visual-centric design. It’s a platform where the power of imagery can truly make a difference.
For instance, if you were selling artisanal, handcrafted jewelry, creating compelling visual boards on Pinterest could draw potential customers to your products. I’ve personally experienced a substantial increase in traffic to my e-commerce site after investing time in Pinterest.
Explore LinkedIn’s Advertising Platform
LinkedIn is often associated with B2B marketing and professional networking. However, its advertising platform is an underrated gem for small e-commerce businesses. We’ve personally experienced remarkable results, as evidenced by our Return on Ad Spend (ROAS) of 7.2x from a relatively modest investment. LinkedIn’s precise targeting options allow e-commerce businesses to reach a refined audience based on professional backgrounds, job functions, or industries.
This, combined with compelling creatives, can elevate brand visibility and drive niche traffic to your e-commerce platform. In a crowded digital ad space, LinkedIn Ads offer a refreshing and effective avenue for e-commerce promotion.
Maximize “Google My Business”
If it’s an eCommerce business, one strategy you should never underestimate is leveraging “Google My Business.” I’ve personally observed the tremendous impact it can have. This tool is vital, especially for small businesses, as it not only enhances your visibility on search engines but also boosts your chances of customer engagement.
Think about it: Customers are more likely to trust a business with a complete Google profile, filled with reviews, ratings, and relevant information. If a client searches “shirt printing in Dallas,” your “Google My Business” profile can ensure your business is the one they see first. By optimizing your profile with relevant keywords and geographical tagging, you can attract local clientele effectively.
Consequently, it can drive more traffic to both the physical store and the eCommerce site. It’s a simple yet powerful strategy that small businesses often overlook.
Implement Email Marketing
One underrated marketing strategy that I’ve had a lot of success with is email marketing. It’s a great way to keep your brand top-of-mind with customers, and you can reach them on the go—which is the way people are most likely to be shopping these days.
One reason why this strategy isn’t more popular is because many people aren’t sure how to approach email marketing. But it’s actually pretty simple! Just take some time to think about what you’re trying to accomplish, and then write a short, friendly message that shows off your brand in the best light possible.
And don’t forget about follow-up emails—it’s not enough just to send one email blast; you need to stay in touch with your customers over time if you want them to feel like they matter.
Create Excitement with Flash Sales
In my experience, creating excitement with a flash sale is an excellent, yet underrated, marketing strategy for e-commerce businesses. Flash sales are limited-time promotions, often not exceeding a week, offering substantial discounts on specific items or categories. These sales aren’t just about boosting immediate purchases but also about generating urgency and enthusiasm for your brand. This excitement can encourage customers to revisit your store more frequently.
For a successful flash sale, it’s crucial to advertise it beforehand, with email marketing being a highly effective method. Additionally, consider strategies for after the sale, like sending reminders about abandoned carts or emails highlighting products similar to those on sale.
Our own experience shows that flash sales are particularly beneficial for small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs), and e-commerce stores can typically see a 64,000% increase in their monthly gross merchandise value (GMV) during a flash sale.
Optimize Collections Pages
One thing we’ve really noticed do well for our e-commerce clients is collections pages. Most times, when people are searching for products in their early shopping stages, they want to see a variety of options.
For example, running shoes. Typically, these pages rank really well for a variety of keywords. Be sure to also add schema markup to your site as well to help search engines better digest the products on your website, and get special snippets in search results too.
Prioritize LinkedIn Outreach
I think this one depends on your specific niche, but for me, working as a content writer in the services industry, LinkedIn outreach works best. I’ve tried cold calls, cold emails, Facebook groups, SMS, Telegram, and Twitter.
As a small business, you generally have little to no capital to invest in a high-end marketing strategy. I have found from a few years of trial and error that LinkedIn outreach is the best way to get the highest ROI in terms of connecting with people and getting new clients. From just 30 messages per day, I get between 5-10 people replying.
You can fully automate the outreach process too. I have used both Expandi.io and Lead Connect. Expandi is a little more expensive, but it’s a very comprehensive tool. The price reflects this at $99 per month to start with. Lead Connect is simpler, but it does everything you need as a small business, and it’s only $25 per month. Make sure your message is to the point and relevantly targeted!
Distribute Referral Discount Codes
Leveraging referral discount codes by including them in the packaging of shipped products is an underrated, yet effective, marketing strategy for small e-commerce businesses. When a customer receives their order, they find a referral discount code encouraging them to share it with friends and family.
This not only incentivizes repeat purchases from existing customers but also attracts new customers through word-of-mouth referrals. The personalized touch of receiving a physical discount code can enhance customer loyalty and create a community of brand advocates, contributing to a sustainable and organic growth for your e-commerce business.
Offer Free Shipping
While most businesses focus on external marketing tactics, some of the most impactful strategies are rooted in your business model. That’s why we offer free shipping to our clients in New Zealand and Australia. Free shipping achieves exactly what we seek from other marketing strategies—repeat customers, low cart abandonment, and word-of-mouth recommendations. However, offering free shipping across the board may not be financially sustainable for smaller businesses.
Therefore, you need to set a minimum purchase amount to ensure profitability. Alternatively, you can foot part of the shipping based on the customer’s location or order value, or offer free shipping only during special promotional periods.
Amplify User-Generated Content
Most companies are still sleeping on the impact of user-generated content (UGC). Nothing shouts “authentic” as much as these campaigns do. UGC can include reviews and testimonials from users.
If you can get your customers to share photos or short videos showing the product or service in action, that is the Holy Grail. It demonstrates that your solutions or products are actually changing how people go about their daily lives. Add a referral program to it, and you have a self-sufficient sales funnel.
Adopt Micro-Moment Marketing
A great marketing strategy for promoting a small e-commerce business is participating in strategic storytelling. Also called micro-moment marketing, this approach involves finding potential customers through informative content.
When someone wants to learn, do, watch, discover, or buy something, the content pops up. When they derive value from the work, they trust more. Say someone searches for a recipe, and an article appears on the search page. The viewer gets their answer and might purchase a product or two from the recipe page.
Micro-moment marketing is about being there for the customer when they need a solution. By solving one’s immediate needs, one positions themselves as a brilliant answer for their long-term needs.
By building trust with potential customers, more visitors and conversions are achieved. This strategy combines SEO, content marketing, and customer behavior analytics to create an effective opportunity for a business.
Target Location-Specific Keywords
A small e-commerce business often struggles to compete for highly competitive keywords, which is why my strategy focuses on targeting less competitive ones initially. This approach is driven by the fact that larger competitors tend to overlook these keywords.
Among this pool of keywords, I particularly favor those that include product or service names along with specific cities, such as “tufting gun in San Diego” as an example. These location-specific keywords have proven to be highly effective and are relatively easy to rank for using straightforward content, product listings, and a location map.
As I expand my presence to cover multiple cities, I create a comprehensive directory that interlinks them and integrate it into the website’s footer. This strategy has proven to be a successful way to generate quick revenue by leveraging local results, a practice that many others in the industry tend to neglect, but it yields positive results and contributes to enhance topical authority.
Use Infographics to Visually Engage Customers
I’ve seen numerous marketing trends come and go, but one strategy that’s consistently overlooked, yet immensely potent, is the use of infographics. Infographics are not just visually engaging but is a great marketing tool that breaks down complex data into digestible, easy-to-understand visuals that tell a compelling story.
In my experience, I’ve tapped into infographics in my current company to illustrate product benefits, explain our unique selling proposition, and even share customer testimonials in a dynamic manner. The result? A notable increase in user engagement and enhanced brand recall.
Moreover, infographics are incredibly shareable across social media platforms, blogs, and emails. Each time someone shares our infographics, it extends our brand reach organically and drives traffic back to our website, amplifying our visibility without a hefty advertising budget.
Cillian Reynolds, Managing Director, CBD Oil Ireland
Invest in Digital PR
Digital PR is a highly underrated strategy for promoting small e-commerce businesses; however, it’s fantastic as it combines a variety of tactics to hit key goals across SEO, PR, and brand.
The strategy aims to earn editorial coverage and links from online news publications. These links support organic growth, but the consistent coverage across national newspapers and magazines also does wonders for brand awareness and positioning.
It’s especially great for e-commerce as you can create key stories around your product offering and audience insights to land editorial coverage. The smallest snippet of data is enough to get you coverage in large publications, as long as it’s interesting and newsworthy!
You can monitor the news, social media trends (which are great for e-commerce!), as well as industry news to place your brand at the center of conversations by leveraging your insights to hook into these relevant news stories.