The online platforms that help organizations facilitate commerce and sales are no longer dry, transactional checkout tools. Today’s ecommerce platforms enable marketers to manage and optimize every step in the online shopping process — and capture data on customer interactions along the way, too. With recent research showing that 95% of purchases will be made online by 2040, it’s clear that defining an ecommerce strategy is rapidly becoming a requirement for brands and retailers alike.
That said, the number of tools to optimize the online selling process is growing every day, and knowing where to start can be confusing. We’ve taken a look at dozens of commerce and sales marketing tools across six key categories, and in this piece, we’ll share which ones you should consider adding to your toolkit.
The six types of commerce and marketing platforms
1. Retail, proximity, and IoT marketing
This remains a nascent area of marketing, but it’s also one of the most exciting. Proximity marketing involves communicating with customers in a relevant way – particularly when they’re in proximity to one’s retail outlet. Proximity marketing solutions help companies use Bluetooth beacons or Wifi-based systems to send messages to customers, but they can also do customer segmentation. As more devices come with networked capabilities built in, brands and retailers can also leverage IoT marketing platforms to deliver value to users’ homes as well. In fact, a recent survey showed that more than 70% of brands are considering investing in IoT tech for their marketing efforts.
Many apps already support retail marketing tactics. Consumer platforms like Yelp and Shazam give retailers the ability to perform hyper-targeted marketing, and companies can even deploy promotions through these platforms. For those companies that want to track retail marketing ROI through the funnel, enterprise solutions like Salesforce’s Commerce Cloud are available too.
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2. Channel, partner, and local marketing
Local marketing is often a key component to the strategy of brands that are expanding internationally. Being able to access sales channels and other marketing partners is critical to expanding within different regions, and there are now more than 100 platforms that help marketers do exactly that. Localized marketing is quickly becoming key to winning in international market, and 67% of consumers now prefer businesses whose apps or sites are localized.
There are now even “local marketing platforms” like Synup and Brandify, which help businesses scale their local marketing efforts and monitor analytics on marketing ROI. Performance marketers would do well to look into Affise, a SaaS platform that is ideal for localized affiliate marketing. And for content needs, Localize is a quick and easy way for marketers to deploy localized applications or marketing material to the necessary channels in just minutes.
3. Sales automation, enablement, and intelligence
Beyond simply acting as a CRM database, sales automation tools help marketers optimize funnel efficiency and perform attribution analysis at each stage of the marketing lifecycle. These tools are complementary to your CRM, and they’ll give you marketing insight you wouldn’t be able to get otherwise. Sales automation platforms are critical to getting the most out of your marketing funnel, and they strengthen marketing-sales alignment. According to Hubspot, using sales enablement tools can increase marketing revenue by up to 208%.
On the sales enablement front, OneMob is a great way to enable reps to leverage marketing content throughout the funnel. It also includes tools to track content engagement and potential buying signals. For automating lead generation, marketers can also consider SalesWhale — an AI-driven platform that automates lead outreach and engagement for reps. Small businesses looking to automate their sales process can also benefit from tools like Collabspot. It’s a sales engagement platform that integrates with CRMs like SugarCRM and Salesforce to give a holistic view of the marketing and sales funnel.
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4. Affiliate marketing and management
Affiliate marketing involves placing promotional materials on third-party websites (such as blogs or news outlets), which are then paid a commission whenever a sale takes place. These platforms help brands place their products on affiliate-based websites, and track traffic, content performance, and revenue for them. This marketing strategy has been around for decades, and it’s now becoming a significant source of revenue for some businesses. The affiliate marketing industry alone is valued at more than $12B, and revenue from affiliate marketing programs is projected to increase by 10% annually until 2021.
There are affiliate marketing platforms for businesses of every size. Google’s AdSense is one of the largest affiliate partners in the space, but other heavyweights like SkimLinks and Avantlink are also worth looking into. Marketers looking for a comprehensive solution may want to consider investing in a platform like CAKE or Webgains, which offer campaign management tools as well.
5. Ecommerce marketing
Ecommerce marketing platforms help companies optimize the ecommerce experience for customers, and increase marketing ROI as a result. There are now hundreds of platforms that optimize online stores, and given that 81% of shoppers research products online before purchasing, this represents an opportunity for marketers to engage with customers during the purchase process.
One of the best aspects of implementing an ecommerce marketing platform is the potential to improve the shopper experience. Organizations can now do this with tools like Attraqt and StoreYa, which offer the ability to run highly targeted ad campaigns specifically designed for ecommerce sites. And if you’re looking for an all-in-one solution, ecommerce platforms like Shopify and WooCommerce also include campaign management tools out of the box.
Another persistent challenge for ecommerce businesses is how to handle shopping cart abandonment. Platforms like Blueknow help brands and retailers recover lost sales, and increase the conversion rate for infrequent visitors as well.
6. Ecommerce platforms and carts
For businesses looking to run marketing campaigns and drive more ecommerce sales from one place, there are more than 200 platforms that offer exactly that. There are also more specialized tools that help marketers focus on a specific subset of ecommerce, like abandoned shopping carts or niche products.
Tools like Contalog help marketers optimize their content for multi-channel sales efforts, while platforms such as Storm offer a white-label solution to ecommerce marketing. Other ecommerce platforms are more enterprise-focused. One such tool, Workarea, is an all-in-one platform that enables marketers to manage their content and measure the impact of that content throughout the funnel.
Also read: You have a cart abandonment strategy. What about browse abandonment?
Using one (or more) of these commerce and marketing platforms is the best way to begin improving your ecommerce strategy. That said, every business will have unique needs, so take your time in choosing which ecommerce platform is right for you. Think about what features you’ll use, what metrics you’ll need to optimize for, and what business systems you might need to integrate with.