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7 of the Best E-Commerce Marketing Strategies We Saw in 2018 (+ How to Use Them)

  • Conversion Rate Optimization

Abandoned cart emails, upselling, product recommendations… We all know and love good e-commerce marketing strategies like the above.

After all, we KNOW they work; every day, we use them to our advantage to get higher conversions and more sales.

But what about the lesser-known strategies? Those ONLY the best of the best use to turn their visitors into buyers?

We saw many strategies like that in 2018. And today, I want to share seven of my favorites. The best part? They require few resources and little technical know-how to get started.

If you want more revenue and higher conversions in 2019, keep reading.

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Want More Conversion Rate Optimization Strategies?

We’ve put together an exhaustive list of 100+ conversion rate optimization (CRO) strategies our fastest-growing e-commerce customers are using to turn more website visitors into buyers (organized for your convenience.)

Part 1: ToFu Strategies

Top-of-the-funnel (ToFu) leads are prospects that show some interest in your business, but haven’t taken any action to engage with you yet.

When someone signs up for your email list or visits your website, they typically enter the ToFu stage. You’ll need to spend some time convincing them to move down in your sales funnel and, eventually, convert them into customers.

Here are my two favorite e-commerce marketing strategies that work perfectly for ToFu stage prospects.

1. Turn One-Time Purchases into Subscriptions

I’m sure you know by now how effective upselling is and what it can do for your revenue.

Many online stores already use upselling and cross-selling to boost their revenue, but only a few of them experiment with finding new ways to do it.

MeUndies is one of them.

If you visit one of their product pages, you see two pricing options: regular price and member price.

Here’s how it looks more closely:

MeUndies offer you a membership upgrade and a better price, while you’re considering a purchase.

What they do successfully is showcase the obvious benefit of membership (save 22%) and contrast it with a one-time purchase ($14/month).

If you’re not a member, you miss out on the exclusive member price. Can you already feel the FOMO?

Another brilliant example comes from Beardbrand:

Similarly, when you visit a product page on the Beardbrand website, you see two options: one-time purchase vs. auto-restock & save. (Notice how the second option is all capitalized and written in bold.)

Upgrading to a subscription not only means saving money, but also includes free shipping. Tempting, isn’t it?

Action Items:

  • Display the benefits of membership on product pages clearly.
  • Show member and non-member prices in comparison.
  • Make the subscription option stand out in design.

2. Offer Gift Guides All Year Round

Holiday shopping season is the perfect opportunity to boost your e-commerce sales and promote your giftable products.

With Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Christmas, the holiday season is a highly profitable period for e-commerce marketers.

Many online stores create gift guides for Christmas, New Year’s, or Valentine’s Day to suggest relevant gift ideas to their visitors.

But why stop there?

Every day is a good day to give gifts, right?

Instead of waiting for highly competitive shopping days, you can suggest gift ideas all year round and guide your visitors into making meaningful purchases.

Here’s an on-site gift guide example by Ban.do:

What I like the most here is how they categorize different gift options: “our faves, gifts under $25, gifts under $50.”

You can also refine your choices using the filters on the left and find the perfect gift you’ve been looking for.

Ban.do’s gift guide is both easy to navigate and helps the visitor to make a faster decision.

Email marketing is another channel you can use to distribute your gift guides all year round.

Take inspiration from Tattly:

The company sends out their holiday gift guide via an email which leads you to their website.

When you scroll further down in the email, you can see how they categorize their gift guides and you know exactly what to expect.

If you want to take it one step further, you can make excuses to celebrate the little things in life and create your own holidays. It’s a good way to bond with your future (and existing) customers and promote your products throughout the year.

Action Items:

  • Create specific, relevant, and easy-to-sort gift guides on your website.
  • Add filters and categories for easier navigation.
  • Support your gift guides with emails to create excitement.

Part 2: MoFu Strategies

Middle-of-the-funnel (MoFu) prospects are users that engaged with your emails or products, but haven’t made an actual purchase yet.

In other words, MoFu leads took a step towards you. Now it’s your turn to make a move.

At this stage of the funnel, you can try finding out what’s stopping visitors from making a purchase and suggest solutions to their problems.

In the case of e-commerce, two reliable indicators of purchase intention are carts and wishlists.

If a visitor abandoned one of them without making a purchase, it’s your chance to follow up on the problem and offer solutions to your potential customers.

Here are two simple ways to do it.

3. Convert Wishlists with Discounts

How many times did you add something cute to your wishlist and never look at it again?

I’ve done it several times. I simply forgot.

If there’s nobody to remind me about the item, or if I have no compelling urge to buy it all of a sudden, I tend to forget about the existence of my wishlist.

The thing is, wishlists have a high potential to convert. The name itself says that your visitors wish to buy those items. But apparently, they’re missing something to complete the purchase—like a gentle nudge or an incentive.

One way to reactivate forgotten list items is to send wishlist reminder emails.

Display wishlist items with a clear and simple design and add a compelling call-to-action to help your visitors re-consider the purchase.

But how do you encourage visitors to create wishlists in the first place?

Here’s how Chairish does it:

Shortly after creating an account on the Chairish website, I received this welcome email asking me to find my favorites.

Why should I even bother doing it? Because I know that Chairish will let me know when my favorite items go on sale.

Just like this:

I now have a good reason to start a wishlist and I’m more likely to buy my favorites when they are on sale.

Wishlist reminder emails are great. But you can make them even more effective.

If you don’t want to keep your subscribers waiting until your next sale, create a special discount code that applies to their wishlist items.

This way, you’ll create a feeling of exclusivity and increase your chances of converting idle wishlist items into sales.

Action Items:

  • Encourage your subscribers to create wishlists on your online store.
  • Remind them occasionally about their wishlist items.
  • Add an exclusive wishlist discount code to increase conversion rates.

4. Recommend Products Based on Abandoned Cart Items

We all know the effectiveness of good ol’ abandoned cart emails.

It’s the perfect opportunity to trigger a purchasing decision and increase your revenue.

But have you ever considered why your customers might be abandoning their carts?

Sure, a complicated checkout process or a simple distraction might easily cause cart abandonment.

But what if the product isn’t right?

That’s exactly why Birchbox sends cart abandonment emails (with a twist):

Birchbox reminds me about my abandoned items and tries to solve the problem that may be lying behind my cart abandonment.

Maybe this wasn’t exactly what I was looking for…

So, the email continues:

The company offers me similar products that I might like more.

And even better, they use social proof multiple times to make the recommendation stronger.

Notice how they include product ratings and reviews under each item. That’s a well-thought use of customer feedback in emails, which I’ll return to in a moment.

Action Items:

  • Add a product recommendation section to your abandoned cart emails.
  • Recommend relevant and/or top-rated products.
  • Support your recommendations with customer feedback.

Part 3: BoFu Strategies

Bottom-of-the-funnel (BoFu) is the last stage of your sales funnel, where prospects are almost ready to become customers.

All you need to do is to make the process easier for them and use good stratgies to close the purchase.

Here are three solid, yet underused strategies you can use to support your BoFu activities.

5. Use Customer Testimonials in Email Marketing

Customer testimonials are huge drivers of e-commerce sales.

They add social proof to your business and help your visitors make better purchasing decisions.

If you’re already using customer testimonials on your website, that’s amazing.

But why shouldn’t you make more out of them?

After all, you worked hard to earn those nice reviews.

Making customer testimonials a part of your email marketing strategy is a great way to increase your email conversion rates.

Here’s an example by Brooklinen:

Recently, I received this email from Brooklinen that’s been created specifically to display curated customer testimonials.

Notice how they visualized customer feedback and made it a seamless part of the email design.

You can handpick top customer reviews about your product, service, or company, and send out occasional emails to spread the love.

Another effective way of using customer testimonials in email marketing is to integrate it into your promotional emails.

Here’s how Firebox does it:

Instead of writing long descriptions, Firebox uses customer testimonials and reviews to support the products.

After all, who else can describe a product better than an actual user?

Combining price information and product images with customer feedback and ratings, you can easily support your promotional emails with social proof.

If you prefer to go all-in, you can let the customers speak for you by using testimonials in your email subject line.

Just like Violet Grey here:

This email helps me feel the social proof behind the brand without even opening it. And it’s such a strong statement that it evokes my curiosity and makes me want to check the product.

Works like a miracle.

Action Items:

  • Pick 5 to 10 customer testimonials from your website.
  • Add customer feedback and ratings to your promotional emails.
  • Include product image, product link, and price information.

6. Convert Customers with Sold Out Products

How do you define frustration?

For me, frustration is finding out that the item I’ve been eyeing is sold out…

Especially during big sales.

How can you ease my frustration, when I was so close to becoming a customer?

By offering something else.

Many online stores remove the disappointment of selling out with out-of-stock notifications. It’s a great way to collect valuable leads and increase your chances of converting leads to customers, when the item is back in stock.

What I suggest, however, is going one step further.

Instead of sending customers back home empty-handed, guide them in a different direction.

For example, you can recommend visitors your best-selling or top-rated products as an alternative. This way, you’ll ease both the frustration of the customer and improve sold-out-page conversions.

ASOS uses a similar approach in their mobile app:

When an item in my wishlist goes out of stock, the “Move to Bag” button changes to “See Similar Items”.

When I click the button, I can browse through products that are actually similar to what I’ve been looking for.

ASOS doesn’t use an out-of-stock alert system, but the company found a way to keep customers engaged on sold-out product pages and increase their likelihood to convert.

Action Items:

  • Recommend visitors similar or top-rated items on sold-out product pages.
  • Guide customers when items on their wishlists sell out.

7. Combine FOMO with Free Shipping

Every online shopper’s favorite magic words are free shipping.

As you know by now, free shipping is a highly effective incentive to complete a purchase and to place an order with a higher average value.

In fact, according to one study, 93% of online shoppers buy more items, when there’s a free shipping option.

Free shipping doesn’t only encourage visitors to complete the purchase—it’s also a great tool to help you sell more.

Using free shipping as an upselling tool, you can increase your sales revenue.

But how can you nudge visitors to spend more and qualify for free shipping?

Use the Fear of Missing Out (FOMO).

This is how ASOS tries to tempt me to spend more:

Right when I was about to place my order, I get this gentle reminder to spend more and qualify for free shipping.

Did I spend 3,20 Danish Crowns (which is less than 50 cents) to get free shipping?

Of course, I did. In fact, I spent even more.

Why? Because ASOS triggered my FOMO.

Who wants to miss out on free shipping over 50 cents?

At this point, if the company suggested me related products that I might want to add to my cart, I would have made a faster decision.

Here’s an example I made of how it might have looked like using Sleeknote:

Action Items:

  • Remind customers that they’ll miss out on free shipping, unless they spend more.
  • Be clear about minimum amount requirements by saying something like: “You’re only $X away from free shipping!”
  • Create free shipping campaigns using HTML Conditions to suggest products.

Free Downloadable Bonus

Want More Conversion Rate Optimization Strategies?

We’ve put together an exhaustive list of 100+ conversion rate optimization (CRO) strategies our fastest-growing e-commerce customers are using to turn more website visitors into buyers (organized for your convenience.)


You don’t need a complete makeover to boost your sales and increase conversions.

With minor improvements, you can boost your marketing efforts for each stage of your sales funnel.

If you feel like you need some fresh ideas for e-commerce marketing success, give these lesser-known strategies a chance.

Have you tried any of these e-commerce marketing strategies? How was your experience? Leave a comment below.

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