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Strong marketing is necessary for any ecommerce business to grow. But if you launch a campaign without clear goals or knowledge of different marketing platforms, it’s likely you won’t maximize your revenue potential. Instead, you need to understand your customers and your market, and target these appropriately to maximize the value of your investment.

Unfortunately, many small or midsize ecommerce businesses don’t have the budget or staff for a dedicated marketing department. And for those running the show alone, finding the time to market effectively is all but impossible. That’s why we’ve prepared this simple one-stop yearly marketing planning guide that lets you consistently grow your ecommerce business.

The importance of yearly marketing planning

A marketing plan is essentially a blueprint that shows how you plan to attract more customers, encourage repeat business, and boost your sales. By outlining your plan for the whole year, you can establish what you’ll do when and how. This helps you stick to your marketing strategy, measure its success, and make preparations to extend your reach and boost revenue.

The first part of developing a yearly marketing plan is to determine your budget. Most marketing budgets total 5-25% of a company’s revenue. In general, 2-10% is recommended for maintenance, while 15%-30% is recommended to grow. How much you allocate to your marketing budget will depend on your current revenue and your growth goals.

You’ve got your budget. Now what?

Once you’ve worked out your marketing budget, you might think you’re ready to get started. But before that, you also need to determine who you’re targeting, what you want to achieve, and how you plan to measure your results.

Develop your marketing personas

A marketing persona is a representation of your ideal buyer. It includes basic information like:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Job role
  • Budget
  • Pain points (the problems they face)
  • How you product helps them overcome their pain points

Some ecommerce businesses have just one marketing persona. But most have quite a few. If you can identify 3-5 ideal buyers, it’ll be much easier for you to target them effectively.

Here’s how to create a marketing persona:

  1. Research your target audience: Start by gathering as much information as possible about who you’re selling to.
  2. Group your responses: Divide this information into several categories, and see if you can spot any common themes.
  3. Write a rough draft: For each of the ideal buyers you’ve identified, create a rough marketing persona by filling in the above information.
  4. Refine your personas: Expand your rough draft into a simple buyer story to build a more cohesive picture of the person you’re selling to.

Set specific marketing goals

The steps you take to increase site traffic won’t necessarily be the same as those to improve conversion rates. So before you fill in your ecommerce yearly marketing template, you need to decide what you want to achieve. Sticking to just 2-3 goals lets you grow your business in multiple ways without becoming overwhelmed.

These goals should be SMART goals. This stands for:

  • Specific: Your goal is clear, unambiguous, and well defined
  • Measurable: You can use data to identify when you’ve met your goal
  • Achievable: You have the skills and resources to make it happen
  • Relatable: Your goal contributes to growing or improving your business
  • Time-bound: You have a deadline for accomplishing your goal

So don’t just say you want to “improve customer loyalty”. Instead, say you want to “boost repeat purchases from existing customers by 15% within 6 months”. This makes it much easier to know whether you’ve reached your goals and decide which metrics to track.

Common marketing goals for ecommerce businesses include:

  • Increase site traffic by X percent
  • Raise average order value by X percent
  • Increase owned audience through incentivized lead capture by X percent
  • Increase cart abandonment recovery by X percent
  • Grow an email list to X subscribers

Establish your key performance indicators (KPIs)

Once you’ve set your yearly marketing goals, you need a way to measure them. By tracking key performance indicators (KPIs), you can quantify your performance and adjust your plan accordingly.

There are dozens if not hundreds of KPIs that you could track. But not all of them will help you meet your goals. For example, tracking email subscriptions won’t do much to reduce your cart abandonment rate.

Only track KPIs that are relevant to what you plan to achieve, and don’t try to track too many. Choose around 5 KPIs that are relevant to each goal (these can overlap) and examine how these change each week. If your time is very limited, 3 KPIs for each goal is enough.

Common KPIs to measure ecommerce success include:

  • Site traffic
  • Number of orders
  • Average order value
  • Time on site
  • Conversion rate
  • Add to cart rate
  • Cart abandonment rate
  • Checkout abandonment rate
  • Customer churn rate
  • Organic search rankings
  • Customer acquisition cost
  • Return on ad spend (ROAS)
  • Lifetime value

Scheduling your major calendar events

At this point, you know your ideal customer, what you want to achieve, and how you can track your success efficiently. Now, you’re ready to start filling in your yearly ecommerce marketing plan.

It’s best to start with your major calendar events. That’s because they tend to happen just once or twice a year and can be time dependent. Planning your major calendar events first also helps you determine which types of marketing could be most profitable.


Each industry has a number of tradeshows throughout the year. Find which ones are most relevant to your business and attend. That way, you can evaluate your competition and meet new business partners. You might even book a stall so you can meet your customers and promote your products in person.

Supplier visits

If you rely on external suppliers for business success, it can be very productive to schedule an annual visit. This lets you address any issues, renegotiate prices, streamline your processes, and assess potential risks in your supply chain. As a result, you can optimize your business and prepare for any changes, and maintain a positive working relationship with your supplier.

Product launches

Expanding your inventory is a great way to attract new customers and grow your business. But to maximize the profitability of product launches, you need to know what you’ll develop, when you’ll release it, and how you’ll generate enthusiasm among your customers. Seeing how your metrics change during new product launches also lets you evaluate their success or popularity among your key customers, informing future business choices.

How technology can help you grow

There are many different options for ecommerce marketing, including email, social media, and online ads. While using these together can generate even more revenue, managing them all is very time consuming. Thankfully, there are plenty of technologies available to make ecommerce marketing a breeze.

Social scheduling

Marketing experts generally recommend posting on social media 3-4 times a week. By scheduling your posts using a platform like Hootsuite or Buffer, you can write posts in bulk and schedule them in advance. That way, you spend only a couple of hours a month on social media marketing rather than giving yourself a new task every other day.

Email service providers

Emails service providers (ESPs) make it easy to manage large email lists, including adding or removing subscribers automatically. They also allow you to create customizable email templates, schedule emails, and track KPIs like open rate and click-through rate. And since most ESPs are whitelisted, you don’t need to worry about your emails hitting the spam folder.

limelight marketing ecommerce CTA

Ad platforms

Paid advertising is an excellent tool for increasing site traffic and conversions quickly. The average ROAS of Google Ads is 200%, meaning you can expect to make $2 for every $1 spent. Facebook can reach 400%, while Instagram can generate huge returns of 800%!

But remember that this won’t necessarily apply for all businesses. Your particular industry and target audience also play a huge role in determining your ROAS.

Website platform

Tools like Google Analytics provide a lot of metrics that allow you to track things like conversion rate and audience growth. Refer to these regularly while you implement your marketing strategy to see whether your website is performing to your goals. If it’s not, consider redesigning your site or hiring a web design service to improve your metrics.

Performance dashboards

Once you have your metrics and KPIs, you also need to put them to good use. If you’re not performing in a way that helps you reach your goals, try to figure out what’s holding you back. By tracking your success regularly and tweaking your approach, you can maximize your reach and profitability.

Developing your marketing channel strategy

There are a million and one ways to optimize your posts, emails, and ads. But there are certain steps that every ecommerce business should take, with no exception. Here’s some of the industry’s best advice for ensuring your marketing channel strategy has the greatest possible impact.

Social media

Knowing how to develop an effective social media content strategy is vital for running a profitable social media page. These are our top tips for mastering your preferred platforms:

  • Know your goals: Your goal for social media might be to build brand awareness, drive website traffic, increase community engagement, or grow your conversions and sales. Whatever you choose, be sure to focus your social strategy on achieving these goals and track your success accordingly.
  • Know your audience: Certain people are more likely to use different platforms, and for different reasons. Combine this information with your marketing personas to create content that resonates with your target audience.
  • Know your content: Conduct a social media audit to see what types of posts and content have worked best for you. Tally up engagement, likes, comments, shares, and so on for a range of posts and see if you can spot patterns emerging.
  • Follow a content calendar: Mapping out your content a month or two in advance lets you organize and evaluate your posts. You might discover that your content types are unbalanced or that you’re focusing too much on one platform over another.
  • Use a mix of content: Most content falls into one of 4 categories: educational, promotional, inspirational, and entertaining. And there are plenty of types of content, such as images, videos, blogs, infographics, testimonials, news, and even memes or gifs. Vary the types of content you post to keep your followers engaged.
  • Share on the right platforms: Instagram is a great place for inspirational content, images, and stories. Facebook and Twitter are better for encouraging conversation. You can also post the same content across multiple sites, tweaking for language, presentation, and hashtags.

Email flows

An email flow is a series of emails triggered based on a contact’s behaviors, characteristics, preferences, or information. Creating email flows that can be used repeatedly is an easy and reliable way to boost conversions.

There are 7 essential email flows that all ecommerce businesses should have:

  • Welcome emails: Sent when a contact first joins your email list. This flow sets the tone for future interactions and showcases the best you have to offer.
  • Browse abandonment emails: When a visitor views a product but takes no further action, these emails encourage them to take another look.
  • Cart abandonment emails: This flow is about overcoming the obstacles and objections that have kept customers ordering at the very last step.
  • Thank you emails: Connecting with your audience even after they’ve bought something incentivizes a second purchase.
  • Review request emails: Asking customers to leave a review helps you build the reputation and social credit you need to attract even more customers.
  • Post-purchase cross-sell and upsell emails: These emails effectively drive repeat customer rates and grow their knowledge of your products and brand.
  • Post-purchase winback emails: If a customer hasn’t made a purchase in a long time, these emails help bring them back into your purchasing funnel.

In addition to your standard email flows, you should also follow a promotional email marketing strategy to share your products and build brand loyalty. Aim for 8-12 marketing emails every month, with copy and design that emphasize the value customers get from your business. You should also carry out a monthly performance review and optimization analysis to tweak your emails for maximum open rates, click-through rates, and conversions.

email audit cta

Paid media

Paid media such as Google Ads can help you advance your business goals. They build brand awareness, boost site traffic, and drive additional sales and conversions.

To improve your success with paid media:

  • Have a clear objective: Clearly establish what you want your audience to do once they click on your ad, and make sure this is easy to achieve.
  • Create compelling copy: Your text should be short, smart, and simple, with suitable keywords and a clear call to action.
  • Use keywords: Target the language your customers are most likely to search for when looking for your products to get your ads in front of the right people.
  • Optimize your landing page: Once a potential customer has clicked on your ad, send them to an attractive and user-friendly page with great copy and images.
  • Measure and tweak regularly: Test out different ads and audience parameters to see which ones attract the most clicks and conversions.

Search engine optimization

By itself, an ecommerce website isn’t enough to generate the high sales and growth you’re looking for. You also need to drive traffic to your ecommerce site with search engine optimization (SEO). This is the process of improving your site’s visibility and position on search engines like Google and Bing.

Here a few SEO tips to help drive sales to your ecommerce site:

  • Make unique product descriptions: If your descriptions are the same as another website’s (or even elsewhere on your own website), your pages will appear much lower in search results.
  • Add FAQ pages: These are a great opportunity to use more SEO keywords and to improve the customer experience your site provides.
  • Use video: Videos add content variety, boost customer engagement, and drive website traffic, all of which contribute highly to SEO.
  • Incorporate social media: Linking your website to a social media account boost your visibility, traffic, and sales. You can even set up shops that allow your audience to buy directly from your posts!

When was your last (website) health check?

Over time, your business changes to meet the needs of your customers and the market. The same should be true of your website. If you don’t regularly update your website to align with your business needs, you’re probably missing out on a lot of growth potential.

Ongoing health evaluations

When you first set up your website, you made a number of technical SEO choices – even if you didn’t realize it. The structure, code, and other technical aspects of your website affect its visibility on search engines. So if you don’t monitor and update these as the priorities of your business and search engines change, they can negatively impact your performance.

There are lots of free tools available online that give you an evaluation of your website’s technical SEO health. These include Semrush, Ahrefs, and Seobility. With their help, you can check for errors in your:

  • Crawling and indexing: These terms refer to search engines’ ability to discover, store, and organize your webpages for display in search engine results pages.
  • Meta and structured data: Visitors don’t see this information, but search engines rely on it to understand what your images and content are about.
  • Links and navigation: Broken or poorly labeled links make it hard for visitors and search engines to explore your website correctly.
  • Images and videos: Excessively large images and videos can seriously slow down your website speed. And those that don’t load at all create a poor browsing experience.
  • Mobile performance: Your website needs to be optimized for both desktop and mobile display to ensure all visitors can use it as intended.


Signs you need a website redesign

A poorly designed website is just one step up from no website at all. And an outdated design or poor choice of platform can seriously limit your potential for growth.

If you recognize these warning signs in your website, it might be time for a redesign:

  • Customers can’t find the info they want: Constantly getting the same questions from customers means they can’t find the information they need. Move your FAQs to a place that’s easy to find on your site or the relevant product page.
  • Poor mobile experience: More than 50% of all web traffic now comes from mobile. So if your website hasn’t been optimized for mobile, customers can easily get frustrated and decide to shop elsewhere.
  • Your platform is holding you back: Using a platform like Wix or Squarespace can be useful for small businesses. But they have limitations for growing ecommerce. Since they aren’t scalable, it can be tough to create a deeper experience for your customers.
  • Your site no longer visually represents your company: Many businesses fail to change their website to reflect changes in their business strategy or products and services. If your website seems old and outdated, customers will think the same about your business.

Ready to kick off your marketing strategy? We’re here to help!

Even with an annual marketing planning template, maintaining a consistent and effective marketing strategy can be tough. That’s why small to midsize ecommerce businesses across the nation rely on LimeLight Marketing for fast and reliable growth.

Our varied and talented team handles all aspects of ecommerce marketing for a fraction of the cost of an in-house marketing department. From tripling quote requests with a simple website redesign to turning a $400k clothing brand into a multi-million dollar powerhouse, our methods are proven to grow ecommerce businesses.

Get in touch today to find out how partnering with us can skyrocket your revenue.

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