The e-commerce advertising market is growing exponentially: it is expected that by 2040, 95% of all shopping will be driven by e-commerce. Sounds impressive, but if we take a look at the more short-termed predictions, it becomes clear that this future is not distant. By 2023 global e-commerce sales will reach $6.5 trillion, and with the impact of a COVID-19 traffic surge, this transformation will only accelerate.

The difference is striking that Emarketer has changed its predictions for US E-commerce in 2020. It is now anticipated that the fastest-growing categories, such as food and beverage, will rise to 58.5% of total retail sales, compared to previously forecasted 23.4%. At the same time, beauty sales predictions have increased from 16.6% to 32.4%, and a similar trend is observed for other categories.

The opportunity is just too huge to be missed, and the leading global e-commerce brands have already entered the race for online shoppers. What are their best e-commerce advertising methods, and what can you adopt to maintain brand awareness and sales? We'll find out in this article!

Well researched niche audience

A well-defined niche audience is a fundamental value for any ad campaign. One e-commerce business obviously cannot satisfy everyone's needs, so a crucial step for successful advertising and marketing in e-commerce is to define and target the audience interested in the specific product or service your business delivers. Define your market and your target audience persona, then - tailor a particular message to them so that it perfectly resonates with a search term they use most frequently. The best thing you can do for your customers when building your online advertising strategy is to speak their language. Thus, make sure to display ads that show that you care. Here are two examples to illustrate how such e-commerce advertising strategy should work:

  1. Nine Line is an excellent example of a brand with precisely defined target audiences and specific message that fits them. Veterans founded the company, it hires veterans, and it also addresses veterans and appeals to their needs and values in the ads. The usage of specific language, Google search keywords, and designs strengthens their message and increases customer loyalty. Such a strategy creates a clear brand image that makes it unique and recognizable.
  2. Not sure who exactly is your target audience and what they are looking for? A common element of online advertising mechanism in e-commerce is a survey. You can use reviews to communicate with your customers on the different stages of the buyer's journey in the same way that Society Socks does. They created a series of relevant, user-friendly surveys and asked their visitors for feedback. They made the process simple and reached their prospects at the right time via the right channel. This way, the company increased response rates by 200% and gathered tons of valuable user data.

A clear message that underlines your brand's strengths

Defining your audience is just a foundation crucial for achieving the next step - tailoring a clear and understandable message that should highlight your product's unique strengths. This stage is vital for online marketing and advertising in e-commerce. You can get lots of high-quality traffic, but turning this traffic into conversions makes communication your goal number one. Remember that the message on your banner ads should be clear and engaging, and your landing page should contain an accurate description of your products and their strengths. If you offer something valuable - let your customers know. Here are some examples:

  1. Budapester, a German fashion retailer, had a low conversion rate despite lots of traffic. Their mobile version of the website performed even worse, so to improve the situation, the first thing they did was website optimization. They decreased their logo size and made sure that the users are getting all the information conveniently. Specifically, shipping options, product availability, and free delivery offers could be found right on the product web page. The result? 12.5% increase in conversion rate for desktop and up to 30% for mobile. Pretty significant changes for minor website optimization, but that is how effective communication works.
  2. We can find another example of effective online marketing communication in the following case of a small paper company, Paperstone, which competed with larger brands. To stay ahead in the challenging market, they chose one of the best strategies - to demonstrate their advantages in comparison with other companies. Price was defined as one of the core advantages, so the solution was simple - to add a price comparison table throughout their website so that the customer could instantly decide without checking the competitors' offers and online ads. As a result, their online sales increased by almost 11%. This campaign practically refers to a successful e-commerce advertising definition.

User-generated content & word-of-mouth

There's probably no better match for e-commerce and advertising than testimonials of your happy customers. People trust their friends' recommendations rather than ads or blog posts. The good thing about it is that your satisfied customers can often help you with more than a dozen online marketing tools. They can spread a word about you, help you reach new customers, and even showcase how they are using your products. The benefits of such promotion are hard to overestimate as we will see from the following example:

  1. 'Diamond Candles' is a beautiful example of a successful digital marketing strategy based on user-generated content. This e-commerce advertising strategy increased their conversion rates by 13% while also boosting brand awareness and customer loyalty. To achieve that, they offered a ring inside every marked candle and encouraged their clients to share photos of the ring on social media. Then, they collected galleries to create more substantial brand recognition to get even more exposure via Facebook ads. This way, they transformed buying a candle into an adventure and their customers into their brand ambassadors.

E-commerce advertising methods

Omnichannel marketing

So we know what one should do to get a decent brand reputation and sales. The core element is to create a personalized experience for your precisely defined target audience. But how to make your business' performance not just decent, but outstanding? What kind of strategy should a brand choose in this case? Meet omnichannel marketing! Here is an example of how a leading fashion brand used it.

  1. Seamless, personalized user experience across all platforms and stores is a mission chosen by Zara's eCommerce advertising team. To achieve this, they've created an easy-to-navigate website that vividly showcases their products and provides all the information for the purchase. They also created a mobile app with the same notion of user experience. Finally, they've also crafted personalized email notifications for their clients. The key feature of these emails was relevance, so they kept messages precisely targeted to each audience segment, e.g., clients who have kids received updates about new items in the category for children.

E-commerce advertising methods

Programmatic advertising

Programmatic advertising is one of the first things that comes to mind when you think about precise targeting across multiple platforms. The technology is widely used across e-commerce advertising for almost every business vertical. It is estimated that by 2021 global programmatic ad spending will reach $147 billion. It is very cost-effective as it allows brands to choose a bidding model (such as cost per mille or pay per click) under specific business goals. By opting for programmatic ads strategy brands can save lots of time and money, as they significantly simplify the process of media-trading because ads are purchased per-impression (based on auction model). The winning bidder's announcement also gets served on a web source automatically without human interaction, which eliminates mistakes. Moreover, it allows advertisers to utilize user data to find potential customers and channel it to the right viewer. An excellent example of it is L'Oreal's Shu Uemura makeup brand that employed algorithmic capacities of Google Adwords for their ad campaign : 

  1. In 2010, the company received global recognition, but poor performance in North America required a more impactful approach to raising brand awareness. Since they had limited distribution on the continent, the solution could only be found in programmatic advertising as CPM campaigns are known to be useful for raising brand awareness. They decided to target women aged 25-30 who had a history of online makeup purchasing. This audience was also divided into segments by the stages of the customer journey, and each segment was attributed to a unique creative. The results were quick to come as the brand received a considerable increase in traffic and, most importantly, twice more significant revenue than initially anticipated.


Leveraging the best practices of e-commerce and advertising, you can impact your business success and obtain significant long-term benefits such as user loyalty. Start with researching your audience, then create a precise messaging for each audience segment. Finally, apply programmatic advertising solutions to personalize message delivery for every customer. As a result, your e-commerce advertising will always be engaging and cost-effective.

Automate media-purchasing of your e-commerce brand on SmartyAds DSP!

Written by
Irina Kovalenko, CMO of SmartyAds
July 2020