The 5 Parts of a Profitable Marketing Plan

TLDR of this Webinar

Profitable Marketing Plans

Maybe you already have an online marketing plan. Maybe you’re wondering how to create one. Maybe you’re somewhere in between and need to start optimizing.
With practical examples from some of eCommerce’s big and small brands alike, we’ll explore the 5 must-have elements of a profitable marketing plan.

Webinar Details

Duration: 22 mins. Available to watch now
Transcript: Read now

What you'll learn

  • Building awareness
  • Driving traffic
  • Creating content
  • Optimizing for conversions
  • Measuring and testing

Here’s your host from TradeGecko

Andrew Bowden

Senior Manager, Product Marketing

An anthropologist by training and data-driven marketer by day,he spent over 10 years in the advanced analytics space before moving into supply chain technology and eCommerce.




Find out more about TradeGecko.


Transcript of the webinar:

Thanks for taking the time to be with us today! My name’s Andrew and I look after Product Marketing here at TradeGecko.

I wanted to start off with a few housekeeping items before diving into today’s webinar. To keep things flowing, we’ve muted the phone lines. If you have any questions throughout the presentation, please key them into the chat function.

We’ll do our best to try to answer them in the Q&A section, and if we don’t get to them live, we’ll respond to you directly via email.

We’ve created this series to help you navigate the challenges associated with building and running an amazing business. 

There are no hacks and no shortcuts. To build something truly amazing you need to do your research and be intentional in the decisions that you make.

The opportunities provided through eCommerce are enormous. And to reiterate: it’s important for everyone out there — especially the newbies — to understand that eCommerce does not offer a get-rich-quick scheme. You’re starting and running a business, which means you have to put in work to make it work.

Our goal today is to answer a single question:

How do you create a profitable eCommerce marketing plan?

Maybe you already have an online marketing plan. Maybe you’re starting from scratch. Maybe you’re somewhere in between and need to start optimizing.

With practical examples from some of eCommerce’s big and small brands alike, we’ll explore the 5 must-have elements of a profitable marketing plan. And what we’re going to cover is Funnel visualization.

  1. Building awareness

  2. Driving traffic

  3. Creating content

  4. Optimizing for conversions 

  5. And Measuring and testing


1. Building awareness

So, before you can start building awareness, you have to know what you’re building awareness for. To simply say, “We want people to be aware of our product,” is a recipe for poor performance now … and high acquisition costs later.

Instead, begin by clearly defining your brand and voice.

Your brand — if you haven’t already defined it — is the story your product enters; the story your ideal customers already live within. It’s about their struggles (the problems they face); and only after that, the solution your product offers.

It’s also about your look, feel, and voice: the aesthetic elements of your brand, like logo, colors, fonts, and especially the words you use.

The core has to be authenticity: developing a unique position on exactly who your product serves, what you stand for, what you stand against, and how you express yourself.

Then, and only then should come awareness.

Building awareness hinges on an ecosystem approach — a multi-pronged or multi-channel strategy — that includes future, present, and past customers. Normally, this encompasses …

  1. Social media: primarily Facebook and Instagram

  2. Word of mouth: creating brand advocates (raving fans) and unleashing your first 100 or 1,000 customers to help you spread the word

  3. Giveaways and contests

  4. Co-promotion partnerships: brands that are closely associated, but not competitors

  5. Influencers and micro-influencers: and a word of warning on this last one; influencers are tough when you’re just starting out, but work great if you pursue them organically.

And on this point, to tackle finding potential influencers, using an app like UserGems will help you find customers with large social followings you can easily reach out to and engage with.

Now, let’s look at a great example of building awareness through word of mouth and social specifically …

With a clear business ethos in mind, Alex McBride, founder of The 5TH, got to work designing a line of clean, timeless watches. But in an age of fast fashion, he decided to skirt the norm by building a customer base first before going to market.

The 5th launched on the 5th of December, 2014.  And by that time, McBride had built a community of 70,000 followers on Instagram all eagerly awaiting a chance to score one of the first limited edition watches up for sale on The 5TH’s eCommerce store.

Today, The 5TH boasts nearly half a million followers on Instagram and another 180K on Facebook. On Instagram, it leverages word of mouth through the branded hashtag #the5th.

For a masterclass in building awareness leading up to a launch, check out its Instagram and Facebook pages and jump back to late 2014.

September 29, 2014: FB and IG post for a giveaway contest driving social engagement and new followers to the brand

November 4, 2014: FB and IG post co-founder Gretta Rose began showing off high-quality product photos even before they were available for order (this is an even earlier post of the same product)

November 20, 2014: FB and IG post they engaged with micro-influencers, started using branded hashtags, and driving people to a waiting list to sign up for access to their exclusive timepieces

Fnally, on December 4, 2014: FB and IG post the day before launch they highlighted scarcity once again to drive traffic.

Which is a perfect segue, because...


2. Driving traffic

Once your brand is nailed down and you’ve started building awareness, the next stage is to zero in on traffic.

Here, it’s important to separate paid traffic from organic traffic. In fact, we’ll cover content in the next point, which is the primary driver of organic traffic.

In essence, there are two primary sources of paid traffic.

Thet two items you’ll want to pay attention to here are Paid Social and Google Shopping Product Listing Ads.

For Paid social

  • First, target customers directly, then create a lookalike audience as a baseline
  • Next, identify “audiences” built around interests, demographics, and especially similar products and brands

And for Google Shopping (PLAs)

  • These ads have the highest search intent online
  • They’re created by linking the products in your eCommerce store with Google Shopping’s product feed; on TradeGecko, you can integrated with Google Shopping directly through CartRover
  • Unlike standard Google Ads, PLAs don’t let you target specific keywords. Instead they’re generated based on your product descriptions. This means, to be effective, you have to exclude terms; like brand names and the titles of specific products for generic campaigns that cast the widest net - and this is how you hone in on high intent traffic here.


The most critical part of paid traffic are the visuals.

For social as well as Google Shopping, never underestimate the power of high-quality product images.

Rothy’s, for example, displays multiple ads at different price points. While its PLA images on the left are straight forward product shots, once someone gets on page, they can view a host of additional images.

If you’re using Google Ads, what truly matters is contextually matching someone’s search with your ad and the page you send them too. Notice the how Rothy’s matches all that perfectly.

Remember, imagery is all about illustrating your brand.

To really get your creative juices going, social media advertising agency Common Thread Collective has a brilliant resource where it lists and illustrates no less than 34 different video thumbnail formats.

Video thumbnails don’t just help catch your audience’s attention. They help tell your product’s story, help your customer imagine interacting with the product, and help them think about how it will make them feel to own it.

And they may even entertain — if that’s a brand value that aligns with your company.

I’m a sucker for a good GIF. My favourites here are:

  • The unboxing, because it makes me visualize what it would be like to actually have the product.
  • The stop motion, because it’s unexpected in a world of video, so will catch my attention
  • And the mashable, because it is pulling me through to the grand product reveal

Remember - imagery is about illustrating your brand… and doing so in a why that helps to drive sales.

The point is — you don't have to start from zero. Instead, use these templates and types as jumping off points as well as to ensure you create a variety of formats for paid ads. 

All that leads us directly to the next ingredient.


3. Creating content

Content is one of those terms in eCommerce that means so much, that it ends up meaning nothing. What is content? What is content marketing in eCommerce? And how does it fit into a profitable marketing strategy?

Content is any media you create that connects with your customers needs or wants, shows how your product meets those needs and wants, as well as embodies your brand.

The trap many brands fall into is creating something just to create something — making content because your “supposed to make content.”

The guiding principle to follow goes beyond making content “because it’s helpful.” Instead, the secret sauce to amazing content is to make content that’s shareable. Content that your ideal customer might see and immediately respond: “This represents me. This makes me look smart or clever or in-the-know or compassionate …  You get the idea.

A great TED Talk that helps to illustrate this point is Michael Steven’s, “Why do we ask questions.” At 8 minutes in, he speaks to the spread of content and why people share it, and here I’ll quote…

“I've noticed that the most operative motive behind someone sharing one of my videos promoting me via word of mouth isn't so much about me as it is about them. 

"hey, look what I found. I like this. I am like this." 

whenever you share a video, whenever you share anything a few of the attributes of that thing reflect back onto you. so I have found that one of the best ways to gain attentive listeners is not to be who you think your audience wants you to be, but instead to say and make and show things that allow your audience, your students, to be who they want to be.”

It loops right back to number one — your tribe, your fans — that’s who you’re making content for.

To make this actionable, however, use that guiding principle … and then organize your content distribution around at least five channels. And these are...


Five channels for content distribution

  • Social
  • Email
  • Video
  • Blogs
  • Packaging

What really makes a marketing plan come alive is when all three of the first strategies come together. Brooklyn Bicycle Co. is a shining example.


They created video content relevant to their audience and promoted it via paid social.

They then built upon that idea of buying a bike and unpacked it further with its own landing page to help drive organic traffic


They then incorporated that video campaign into another layer of engagement by driving to a bike finder quiz, which would introduce a fun way to learn about Brooklyn’s different bike styles 

And finally, we have the quiz itself and a call to action to connect further with the brand.

In addition to all that, the company also maintains a top-notch blog where they host content that reinforces the brand’s commitment to community.


What you might not have considered is the fifth item on that earlier list of content channels: packaging.

The most important moment in eCommerce doesn’t happen online. It happens when a customer gets their product. Think of packaging like sprinting beyond the finish line — it’s more than just the “last mile” and getting something on time. In fact, it goes beyond just including flyers and coupons.

Barkbox is an amazing example to draw inspiration from.

With its hashtag #BarkBoxDay, Barkbox’s social content never runs dry:

The same is true of video content created by customers

And BarkBox then collects that amazing user generated content to display it everywhere, from its own social to email even on its product pages and homepage:

But, all that paid and organic traffic can be for nothing, without the next stage.


4. Optimizing for conversions

Let’s be honest, this one is hard. There’s so much to cover in CRO (conversion rate optimization) from offsite to onsite.

Because of that, all I want to focus on are the onsite elements.

Here we’ll focus the conversation on establishing baselines for measurement, collecting best practice options and making those options your own.


Conversion rate optimization onsite — then number and include just the bold parts below

Establish a baseline:

Industry benchmarks aren’t bad. What truly matter, though, are your own visitors to checkout to purchase. By establishing your own baselines, you’ll be able to set iterative targets that you can improve upon.

The next step is to collect “best practice” options:

Maybe from guides and articles, but definitely from the other eCommerce sites you admire. “Steal like an artist” is how Austin Kleon puts it. And that’s primarily where you should start your research for ways to go beyond your baselines.

Remember though, what is a good idea for one brand may not align with yours, which is why it’s always important to...

Make any researched ideas your own:

The point isn’t to copy-and-paste, but to adapt the elements in the conversion process that you love and make them your own … both for your audience and for your brand.

One of my personal favorites is Pura Vida Bracelets. With Black Friday/Cyber Monday just around the corner, let’s look at how they optimized their site last year.

To start, Pura Vida cut down its homepage to roughly half its usual length. This makes the main thing the main thing: getting customers to click through to the products.

Next, the site majored on scarcity and urgency through multiple banners that included the deal itself and countdown times. It also left sold out merchandise live with the option to get notified when it came back in stock.

But where Pura Vida really excelled was at the checkout. 

Notice — and then steal like an artist — four things in these panels. 

First, three separate countdown timers. Second, two in-cart upsells for “Mystery” items. Third, discounts applied automatically to clearly call attention to saving and shipping. And fourth, accelerated checkout options for PayPal and AmazonPay.

After BFCM last year, the brand revealed that those tactics and more added up to mobile conversion rates 2X the industry average for the holiday. And desktop conversion rates 3.2X the industry average.

That can sound like a tall order all at once. So I’ll end this point with a more straightforward CRO tactic. 

Given how critical online shoppers consider free shipping, Goodr’s checkout leverages that desire by only offering free shipping based on basket size, which is visually represented by a playful flamingo as you checkout.

Of course, how do you know if your efforts are succeeding?


5. Measuring and testing

There’s no shortage of things and places to measure in an online marketing strategy.

Normally, measuring and testing effectiveness follows a five-part funnel that goes from widest to narrowest:


Traditional funnel

Let’s quickly explore the traditional funnel… the goal of marketing is to drive traffic from offsite, to your site. Then through to your product pages, cart and finally checkout.

  • Offsite
  • Onsite
  • Product page
  • Cart
  • Checkout


Flip the funnel

and take the most critical part of marketing first: the checkout and the cart.

  • Checkout
  • Cart
  • Product page
  • Site
  • Offsite

This is what’s sometimes called optimizing closest to the money.


Optimize closest to the money: Checkout and cart

To start the optimization process, two analytics tools standout: Google Analytics — namely, using its ecommerce funnel dashboard and conversion goals — and Hotjar.

Hotjar covers checkout, cart, product page, and site easily and it’s incredibly actionable.

Hotjar is primarily a heat mapping tool, meaning it shows you across your site where visitors are clicking.

But it’s also used for measuring the overall effectiveness of your onsite funnel or measuring specific flows, like top-visited products on through to completed purchases.

In addition, ecommerce platforms will give you easy access to offsite and onsite measurements to track campaigns at a higher level. Two to pay careful attention to are … Sales by traffic source

And Sessions by device, in order to measure your marketing content’s success (or failure) by desktop, mobile, and more.

And lastly, TradeGecko Intelligence’s reporting functions can go even deeper into your data across channels, products and more.

Digging into the data can be intimidating at first, but we’ve made it easy for you and your team to focus on the metrics that matter. 

Once you start to understand how channels are performing, you can double down to optimize the best performers or invest some sweat equity to improve conversion for those that aren’t doing so well.  

So, how do we bring this all together?

Two final takeaways: if you apply nothing else… start with 

  1. First things first: your brand. Do not underestimate how foundational nailing your brand’s voice and design — rooted in authenticity — are for each of the five tactics.
  2. Second: prioritize all the other tactics in order of what you’re best at; not by what you need to work on the most. Wherever you’re already seeing results, double down. Go from good to great one tactic at a time and only then move on to the holistic strategy.

Thanks so much for joining us, and we wish you and your business all the very best during these times. Please feel free to contact us at with any questions.