8 min read

The 3 new truths of e-commerce marketing

By Scott Desgrosseilliers on Feb 20, 2018 4:28:16 PM

Topics: Ecommerce
3 new truths of ecommerce marketing

In a perfect world, growing your ecommerce store would be logical and easy… 

multi touch marketing attribution software

STEP 1: Run ads until you find one that creates a positive ROI.
STEP 2: Invest more in that ad to send more traffic to your site.
STEP 3: Repeat.

If it actually worked that way, we’d all be ecommerce millionaires selling products to other ecommerce millionaires. There’d be no need for marketing attribution solutions like Wicked Reports. Reading this blog post would be a waste of your time.

Sadly, in reality, growing an ecommerce site is challenging and complex. There are counterintuitive truths underlying what it takes to grow. These “hidden” truths can take years to discover because they defy the very logical assumptions we make when we’re getting started.

Grasping those illogical truths allows you to create a reality-based growth strategy that takes into account how ecommerce growth works in the real world — not how we all wish it worked.

Truth #1: New leads take time to buy

Leads don’t come to your site and immediately make a purchase. It happens, sure, but it’s the exception, not the rule.

The overwhelming majority of your website visitors leave. They come back. They leave again. They forget about you. They do research and compare. They mull it over. Days, weeks, month, or even years later they make a purchase.

The process is slightly different for every customer, but it’s consistently a multi-step process that takes place over an extended period of time.

At some level, most store owners and marketers know this. They can look at their analytics solution and see it clearly in the numbers. But, not many have internalized this truth to the point where it has changed how they approach their marketing.

A marketer that really grasps this concept has accepted that visitors won’t buy when they come to the site. They’ve embraced that truth. When they do, there’s a shift in priorities that dramatically alters their marketing approach. Rather than trying harder and harder to get people to buy immediately, they:

  • Focus on lead capture over pushing everyone to make a purchase.
  • Focus on long-term email marketing follow up that delivers helpful, valuable content over time.
  • Track defined lifecycle stages mapped to key behaviors that indicate where a lead is in the customer journey. Their follow up is intended to move their leads through these stages as quickly as possible rather than asking the lead to buy over and over and over.
  • Focus on relationship building to foster trust, positive affect, and loyalty rather than constantly pushing hype-filled special offers.

Nurturing a strong, positive relationship with leads and customers becomes the priority. As if it was the key to growing their ecommerce store.

Because… it is.

Your leads will only buy from you when they’re ready. Their purchase is going to happen on their terms, not yours.

Your leads will only buy from you if you give them compelling reasons to choose you over competing options. Having a strong, positive relationship is the most compelling reason of all. This is what drives purchases, repeat purchases, and word-of-mouth referrals.


Truth #2: Old leads behave differently than new leads

A new lead doesn’t know you. They don’t know if you deliver on your promises. They don’t know if you’re competent enough to keep their credit card information safe. They may not even be all that familiar with what you’re selling yet.

For these reasons and many others, your new leads and your old leads react very differently to the exact same marketing and advertising.

The message that causes new leads to click an ad will be different than what old leads will click on.

An offer your old leads love, may fall completely flat with new leads.

For this reason, new leads and old leads should be treated as distinct groups.  You’ll have to find the messaging that resonates with each group. It’s a pain, sure. It’d be nice if you could just use the same marketing for everyone. It’d sure make things more simple. But, you’d be ignoring the truth.

You need to align your marketing messages and advertising with where leads are in the customer journey. You’ve got to display the appropriate message at the appropriate time.

This is only possible if you’re able to compare the behavior of visitors to your store that are on already on your email list to those that aren’t yet on your list. If you aren’t a Wicked Reports user, this kind of analysis involves spreadsheets and hours of inputting data. It's a real pain. But, it’s still worth it. You’ll be surprised at how much of a difference there is between how these two groups behave in response to the same ads, the same content, and the same offers.

Wicked shows you the differing responses of these two groups to each ad, email, and all your other marketing:


When you see it broken down in black and white like that over and over, across different industries, companies, and many different ads, it really makes an impression on you.

Old leads and new leads are different. They’re going to react to different messages and offers. Your marketing and advertising processes need to be sophisticated enough that you’re able to match your marketing and advertising with the group they fall into.

This might be one of the most underrated ecommerce marketing metrics and tactics out there today. I’m a fairly experienced digital marketer (18+ years) and this was something I didn’t fully appreciate until I started working here at Wicked Reports.

Truth #3: Your customers have wildly different values

This one’s an eye opener:

  • The top 1% of your customers are worth 30 times as much as your average customer.
  • Half of your revenue comes from the top 15% of your customers.
  • The top 1% of customers generates more revenue than the bottom 50% combined.
Source: RJMetrics

This data paints a staggering picture of your customer base.

From a service perspective, yes, all your customers are equally important. Of course. But, clearly some customers are more valuable than others!

Once you’ve swallowed that pill, a big question extends from this truth: how can you find more of these high-value customers? It’d be nice to find a few more of these one-percenters, am I right?

If you could fill your marketing funnel with these high-value customers you could afford to spend a lot more to acquire customers. That would open up new possibilities for your marketing and advertising. You’d have new avenues of reaching your target market. That alone is a huge aspect of growing your ecommerce business.

To find more of these whales, you need to reverse-engineer your marketing: look at the top 10% or 25% of your customers based on lifetime value and trace their customer journey backward:

  • What drove their last purchase?
  • What offers did they respond to?
  • What content did they consume?
  • What prompted their very first purchase?
  • What was the very first ad or marketing they clicked on?

Again, this is an extraordinarily labor intensive process if you’re not using a customer journey attribution solution like Wicked Reports. It’s still worth your time. This kind of marketing intelligence is priceless.

The three new truths of ecommerce growth add up to one ultimate truth: you can no longer approach your marketing as if asking more people to “buy now” — louder and more often — will eventually lead to your store growing.

It won’t.

So, what will?

Targeting high-value customers (Truth #3) with messaging that’s appropriate to where they are in the customer journey (Truth #2) and then nurturing those leads over time with relationship-building follow up (Truth #1).

Wicked Reports shows you the source of all your customers back to their very first click. You can see the lifetime value of all your customers so you're able to see where your best customers are coming from. (Truth #3)

Wicked Reports shows you how effective your messaging is at each stage of the customer journey. It even breaks down how effective each message is for old leads versus new leads. (Truth #2)

Wicked Reports tracks and measure each of your email marketing campaigns so it can tell you how effective your automated marketing follow up is at nurturing and converting leads over time. (Truth #1)

If you aren't already using Wicked Reports in your business, I encourage you to get started today.