The Ecommerce Executive’s Guide to Growth Marketing: Part 2

As a leader, it’s your job to understand a lot about a variety of things in order to make the right decisions. Of course you need to rely on your team of experts, but it’s on you to understand things enough to know how they contribute to your goals. Growth marketing is one of those areas, and one of those terms that is often thrown around but not truly understood.

If you haven’t already walked through part 1 of our guide to growth marketing for executives, I’d encourage you to give it a read. In part 1 we discussed what growth marketing truly is and gave you a simple checklist of foundational elements for building a successful growth marketing team that achieves results.

In part 2, we’re going to outline the key things you need to understand about each channel covered in a typical ecommerce growth marketing strategy. By understanding these key pieces you’ll be able to better lead your team to success by creating a successful plan.

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Your Guide to Growth Marketing in Every Channel

As we’ve discussed in part 1, real growth marketing is a holistic strategy, so it’s important to have a high-level understanding of every channel that is used to drive growth. Let’s take a look at some of the top channels and what you as an executive should understand about each.

1. Paid Traffic

The following channels are channels that drive traffic to your store. For most “growth marketers”, this is all they focus on. True growth marketing consists of more than just paid traffic. Regardless, it’s still crucial to get these channels working well.

Paid Social Ads (Facebook and Instagram)

You’re likely aware that you can run paid advertising on Facebook and Instagram, in addition to your organic social content. This platform has changed a lot over the last couple of years and now places a huge emphasis on a seamless user experience. That means your advertising should be written and designed to start a conversation, to entertain, or to engage— not to convert the person on the first touch. This requires a mindset shift, but it is critical to see long term success. These ads are interrupting people who are scrolling through a feed of content (or conversations) that’s interesting to them. Make sure your ads are as intriguing and relevant as the rest of the feed.

Facebook and Instagram are also a crowded space to advertise, so keep the cost per acquisition in mind. Many times this falls into the $40 per customer price range, so make sure your product pricing has the margins to support that. If your business has a strong average order value (AOV), that will help account for a higher CPA. For an average CPA of about $40, we recommend shooting for an AOV of at least $75.

If you want to make the best possible experience for the user and increase the likelihood of acquiring customers, your marketing team should use a retargeting funnel. In reality, users will rarely purchase the first time they see your ad. You must build a relationship first, and funnel ads do this really well.

To give you an idea of how this works, we’ll outline a simple example of how we recommend building this out in Facebook ads:

Ad 1: Content Ad for “Cold” Traffic
This is a top of funnel ad introducing the brand or product to a broad audience. The call to action is typically “learn more”, not “buy now”.

Ad 2: Video Ad for “Warm” Traffic
Retarget people that viewed or interacted with the first piece of content with a video ad. These people have shown some interest in your brand and are more likely to take the time to watch your video if it’s engaging.

Ad 3: Promotion for “Hot” Traffic
Retarget video viewers with an ad that attempts to make a sale, offering some sort of promotion. This audience is much more primed to make a purchase than they were on their first interaction.

As a general rule, we try to stick to the 80/20 rule: run 80% direct response ads that encourage people to buy right now and 20% that promote brand awareness.

Additional reading:

Google Search

Google/Bing search ads are much different than Facebook ads— not only in the way they’re structured but in their intent as well. Users turn to Google when they are searching for a solution to a pain point, for an answer to a question, or for a product that meets their needs. Google search ads give you the space to insert your brand’s solution or product at the top of the search results.

Before your marketing team bids on any keywords to show up for different search queries, do one thing: Start with branded search. In a branded search campaign, you’re simply buying terms related to your brand. This would include your brand/business name as well as any product titles that are specific to your brand and no one else’s (for example, the term “Apple Watch” is a branded term, but the term “smartwatch” is non-branded).

Why would you have to buy your own name? For one thing, you can’t depend on SEO alone to show up at the top of Google’s search results. Additionally, ads always appear above the organic search results and other brands can (and will) buy your term. If someone is searching for your company or product title, you need to capture that click at all costs! On the flip side, if you aren’t buying your name that leaves the opportunity for your competitors to buy it.

Additional reading:

Google Shopping

If you’re running an ecommerce store, Google Shopping is a key area of your paid ad strategy. First things first, make sure your technology is in order on your store. In order to run Google Shopping with success the key lies in the feed of products from your website. You need an accurate feed that is optimized for shopping and the feed also needs to be dynamic so that prices and stock are always up to date. If you don’t have the technology to support this, Google Shopping will not perform well for you. Fortunately, if you have a modern platform (such as Shopify Plus) there are apps that can easily manage this for you.

It’s also important to note that you don’t bid on placement with Google Shopping. Instead, Google will choose when and where your products appear. Your team’s job is to make sure your products’ titles and detail pages are optimized for Shopping best practices. It will also help to ensure that product reviews are appearing in the Shopping ads. You likely already have customer reviews listed on your site, but there is an extra step to link your product reviews to Google Shopping.

Additional reading:

YouTube Marketing

We preach it constantly at Metacake. People are much more likely to buy into your “why”, or the story behind what you do than anything else. Advertising with videos on YouTube is a prime corner to do just that. Producing compelling video content takes expertise and creativity, but when done well, it is a game-changer for establishing authority as a brand.

You’ve likely learned this from watching Super Bowl commercials year after year: the best videos out there are entertaining while they sell. In the YouTube space, our client Groove Life does this very well. Users enjoy the ads so much that one of the top “Groove” searches on YouTube is actually “Groove commercials”. We also practice what we preach here at Metacake and you can take a look at our YouTube channel to see how we create our videos.

One of the best perks of using YouTube advertising is that the barrier to entry is much higher than other advertising channels and the cost is still quite low if you have the right type of engaging video. It won’t be this way forever, so now is the time to get started!

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2. Website

The second area of focus needs to be your website. The customer experience and conversion rate directly impact any paid traffic efforts as well as everything else that you do.

Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO)

We have several video series and articles dedicated to the complicated art of conversion rate optimization, which we will link to below. What you need to know about this area is that it’s essential for any healthy, growing ecommerce business. Conversion Rate Optimization is the process of reliably increasing your conversion rate. This isn’t through guessing and random ideas, but through a clearly defined and proven system.

We talk more about ecommerce benchmarks here, but if you’re like most other businesses your conversion rate is likely in the 2-4% range, but you don’t have to settle for that. That means you’re losing 96-98% of all the traffic that comes to your site! Surely you can improve on that. Any small improvement here has a direct impact on your top line revenue with no added cost AND also improves every other marketing activity and dollar you spend, so this is worth focusing on.

Areas of focus here are typically pages like: your homepage, your collection listing pages, your product detail pages, your shopping cart, your navigation, and your checkout.

If you are interested in getting your team up to speed on CRO, we laid out our entire playbook in our Conversion Rate Optimization guide, which you can purchase on our store. We even illustrated it in the style of Dr. Seuss to help with short attention spans.

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Content can live on your website in the form of a blog, it can be posted organically on social media, or it can be shared through email communication. While it doesn’t sell directly, it’s invaluable for your brand.

Think about it this way: People buy your story— not your product. When you look at your brand and product from a business strategy standpoint, your brand is the only truly unique aspect of your business. Your product can (and will) be done better or cheaper by anyone else. But if you develop a great brand, that cannot be replicated.

With that in mind, use content not only to sell your product but also to tell your story and explain why you exist. Work to entertain as well as educate your customers. If it’s not entertaining or valuable, customers will not take the time to read it. It’s also important to create informative content that helps people use your product to the best of their ability. This is the best way to help customers enjoy your product, encourage them to buy more, and inspire them to tell other people about your brand.

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3. Customer Lifetime Value (Customer Retention)

The third and final area of real growth marketing is customer lifetime value expansion aka retention marketing. We discuss the shift in thinking from seeing the purchase as the finish line to seeing the purchase as the starting line. Almost any marketer is solely focused on achieving the sale, but for true growth marketing that is only the beginning. Increasing customer lifetime value is the key to scaling your business exponentially. The main way to do that is through an intentional email program that builds relationships and grows sales.

Email Marketing

Many ecommerce executives don’t truly understand the value of their email list or their email strategy. We break this down completely in the Executive’s Guide to Email Marketing, but for now, here are three quick reasons email strategy should be at the top of your marketing team’s priority list:

  1. Email is an owned channel, unlike any paid marketing channel such as Facebook, Instagram, or Google. Why does that matter? You have zero control over paid marketing channels. They are constantly changing, and you are at the mercy of complicated algorithms and crowded inventory. In contrast, your email list and the strategy you use to communicate with that audience is a business asset that you can scale without barriers or risks.
  2. Email is the number one way to grow customer lifetime value. This is the key to successful growth for any ecommerce brand. You’ve probably heard that it’s more efficient to re-engage existing customers than to acquire new ones. Well, email marketing is the most intentional and efficient way to do just that.
  3. As an owned channel capable of drastically increasing customer lifetime value, email marketing can yield the highest ROI of any other channel in your marketing plan. This is true as long as you have an engaged email list and a winning strategy (which we can help you with).

If you’re wondering what makes up a winning email strategy, there are three important pieces you need to know:

  1. Promotional emails: These are one-off emails, based on a promotional calendar. However, they do not always need to push sales. In fact, we encourage you to not ask too much of your customer. Emails should have a 1:1 ratio of emails that push a sale to emails that deliver valuable content.
  2. Automated emails: These are various email series that are pre-built and sent based on a logic tree. Various customer actions or behaviors act as triggers that fire different messages in response. For example, when a customer abandons their cart at checkout, the incomplete purchase should fire an abandoned cart email that reminds them to return to checkout. These are the best way to make sales passively.
  3. Segmentation: Grouping customers from your list based on certain actions or attributes in order to communicate with customers on a more personal level. In the past, personalizing a customer’s email experience would take too much time to be cost-effective. But with a modern email platform made for ecommerce, personalization can happen at scale and ROI will be much higher.

Want to use our playbook to make an email program increase your revenue by up to 30%? Grab our Ecommerce Email Success Guide on our store or reach out to us.

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Next Steps

This guide is meant to give you an overview of the key channels available to your marketing team as they dive into an effective growth marketing strategy for your brand. As we’ve said again and again, executing this well requires deep experience and understanding. If you need someone to advise you, advise your internal marketing team, or tackle this project for you, contact us! Our expert team provides all of these services here at Metacake. If we’re not a good fit for you, we will likely be able to connect you with someone who is.


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