How To Maximize Your Ecommerce Sales With Channel Marketing

Bonus Material: Channel Marketing Spreadsheet

There are lots of places to reach new and old customers:

  • Google Shopping
  • Amazon
  • eBay
  • Instagram
  • Email

But what’s the best channel strategy to use for each one?

In this article, I’ll show you:

  • What channel marketing is.
  • Six marketing strategies you can use for six different channels.
  • How to find new marketing channels.

You can skip ahead to any section:

  1. What Is Channel Marketing?
  2. Six Channel Marketing Strategies
  3. How To Find New Marketing Channels

What Is Channel Marketing?

Channel marketing is finding where your audience hangs out and marketing to them on those “channels.” A channel is a method of communication between you and your customers. This can be social media, email, PPC ads, or any other method to reach your audience.

You might do some market research, and find Instagram ads are a good way to find people who are potentially interested in your products. You would then use Instagram to grow your audience and have more people to market to.

You might also find using SMS marketing is effective for selling your products to customers who have purchased from you recently, or sending biweekly promotional emails to your email list improves your sales.

This is all channel marketing.

Think of your sales as a pond, and different marketing channels as little streams of water that lead to your pond. Some of these streams might be wide and carry lots of water to your pond, and some might be narrow and provide a little extra water.

Here’s a visual representation of what I mean — the lines vary in width, because they have different levels of impact on your sales.

Illustration showing marketing channels

All these streams, large and small, make up your pond. And they add up.

That’s channel marketing in a nutshell.

Now, I’ll show you six channel marketing strategies you can use. After that, I’ll show you how you can find the best channels for your business. 

Six Channel Marketing Strategies

1. List Your Products On Different Ecommerce Platforms

A survey of 3,100 consumers in the US, UK, Germany, and France found 72% of consumers use Amazon for their online product research, and 85% use Google.[*]

The same survey mentions consumers are likely to visit the following sites for product ideas and information:

Graph showing marketing channel stats

My point is there are many places customers can discover your products online.

The more ecommerce platforms you’re on, the more likely you are to be found by shoppers.

List your products on all these platforms. Each platform is a channel you can use to get more customers.

Here’s what this looks like in action.

When I search for “bamboo cutting board” on Amazon, this product by Utopia Kitchen comes up.

Screenshot showing product listing

If I run the same search on Google Shopping, I can also see the product:

 Screenshot showing product listing

A search for “bamboo cutting board” on eBay still shows Utopia Kitchen:

Screenshot showing product description

See what I’m talking about? Customers have different habits. Some might check Amazon, some might check Google, and some might check eBay.

If you make yourself more discoverable across the web, you’ll increase your chances of getting new customers. You can do this organically, or with pay-per-click ads.

Here’s what your game plan should be:

  1. Find products that your target audience is interested in.
  2. See where people are buying these products and leaving reviews.
  3. Get your products on those channels.

A tool that’s useful for getting your products listed on these platforms is Shopping Feed.[*]

It automatically posts your products on thousands of different ecommerce platforms, including Google, Amazon, and eBay. It’s one of the tools we recommended in our ecommerce marketing tools article.

2. Partner Collaboration

There are companies and individuals out there that share your audience.

You can find them and offer to collaborate with them in some way that will benefit you both. This allows you to tap into your partner’s audience, and give them value in return. Win-win.

A great example of this is working with influencers

One Sumo customer (EHPlabs), which runs a supplement brand, partnered up with influencers who produce fitness- and health-related content.

Screenshot showing EHPLabs page

See how the audience overlaps? 

Social media influencers that produce fitness-related content will have an audience that is likely interested in fitness supplements. The company produced a video series with fitness influencers, and they promoted their supplements in this content.

This is great for the brand, because:

  1. They have great, evergreen content they can reuse.
  2. They tap into the influencer's audience to increase the brand's reach. 

This is also great for the influencer for a similar reason — they get exposed to a brand-new audience that they can gain as followers.

Here’s what one of their videos with an influencer looked like:[*]

Screenshot showing a Facebook video

People who are interested in this influencer would want to watch this video, giving EHPlabs a chance to impress the viewer and get them interested in your brand.

You can do the same. Find a potential partner whose audience overlaps with yours, and come up with a way that benefits for you both. Some offers you can make influencers include:

  • $1,000 for a day of their time to create content (videos, audio, photos, etc).
  • Monthly payments for a set number of social media posts each month.
  • Free product.

The goal is getting your partner’s audience interested in your brand. You might not directly make a sale, but you can get a new lead you can later market to.

3. Run Viral Giveaways

Chief Sumo Noah Kagan has used viral giveaways to grow his email list by 52,919 subscribers over the past few years.

Our sister company, AppSumo grew its email list by 200,000 subscribers when it first started. This is how it started to grow into an eight-figure company (see Tip #2).

You can do the same for your business.

The idea behind viral giveaways is this:

  1. Find relevant prizes your audience would love to have.
  2. Promote your giveaway (more on this below) to as many people as you can.
  3. People who enter their email are likely to be your target market, because they want to win the relevant prizes you’re giving away.
  4. People are encouraged to share with their friends (getting you more email addresses) by being awarded more contest entries.
  5. You grow the amount of people you can market to.

Viral giveaways are a great way to grow your email list because it entices users to share your contest. That’s powerful.

This is easily doable with KingSumo — we built this awesome viral giveaway tool for this purpose.

Here are some strategies to promote your giveaway:

  • Send it to your mailing list, so they can share with their friends, and you can get exposure to that audience.
  • Run Facebook/Instagram Ads to your target audience.
  • Post on your social media accounts.

Here’s an example of a sponsored Facebook post promoting a viral giveaway:

Screenshot showing a Facebook ad

To learn more about how to use viral marketing as a channel, read our guide on viral giveaways.

4. Email Marketing

Everyone does email marketing.

Very few do it right.

There are a few reasons email marketing is a great channel:

  1. There is no gatekeeper to charge you money to reach your customers.
  2. You just have to pay an email service provider to send out emails (or use Sumo for free).
  3. It allows you to directly reach your audience in their personal inbox, which 99% of consumers check daily.[*]

So, what do you need to start doing good email marketing for your business?

  • Good copywriting habits (the most important step).
  • An email collection tool, so you have an email list to market to.
  • Email marketing software to send emails to your audience when you want to.
  • Ability to track the effectiveness of your email campaigns.

You'll use the same approach as you did with the other channels — test new things, find what’s effective, and focus on what works.

Here’s what an amazing email looks like:

Screenshot showing an email

This email is great because:

  • It’s personable and interesting to read. 
  • It gets to the point.
  • It creates desire for the reader.
  • It is clear on its intent: check out the bundle.

Here’s another great example by Forever 21. Their subject is “Voted BEST of the Best,” which arouses a reader's curiosity.

Screenshot showing an email newsletter

The email body features a banner linking to Forever 21’s best sellers section.

Screenshot showing a contest email

The rest of the email shows best-selling products for women, plus-size women, men, and girls — making the email relevant to all of Forever 21’s audiences.

Screenshot showing product images

This email is great because:

  • It has an interesting title.
  • It gets to the point fast. 
  • It creates desire in the target audience by showing best-selling clothes the audience is likely to want.
  • It’s clear on its intent: no matter who you are, click the button and start shopping.

Send emails and track what results in the most sales for your business.

5. Retargeting

People who have already shown an interest in your products are more likely to buy from you. Retargeting is when you reach these people again to get them to take the action you wanted them to take in the first place.

Amazon does this by showing you ads on Facebook for the products you’ve viewed but didn’t purchase:

Screenshot showing a Facebook ad

You can do the same with your ecommerce store, using Facebook or Google.

Here’s another example. I got this ad on my Facebook feed after visiting NatureBox’s website:

Screenshot showing a Facebook ad

It’s a great way to remind me of their product — they’re offering me a free box, so I can test their snacks and maybe become a customer. Effective retargeting right there.

6. Instagram Marketing

Instagram has grown to become one of the most widely used social media platforms in the world today. It has approximately 1 billion monthly active users.[*]

This marketing channel involves two steps:

  1. You build a relationship with people by giving them value through content.
  2. People get interested to learn more about your brand and products.

People are on Instagram to have a good time. Generally, people aren’t expecting to be sold to on Instagram.

For example, if you’re selling handmade chairs on your ecommerce store, your core audience might be people wanting to renovate their home, and you might consider sharing some content related to general home improvement rather than just sharing pictures of chairs.

Rocky Mountain Decals, a decal and wallpaper company, is a great example. They show entire rooms that are well-designed instead of just showing off their decals or wallpapers. They get a ton of likes on these posts.

Screenshot showing an Instagram post

Again, your focus is to provide content people want. And that means a good time for the majority of Instagram users, though look around you and see how your audience uses Instagram. 

You obviously want to sell your products or get people to subscribe to your email list every once in a while, but your main goal is to keep people entertained.

Here’s a post from IKEA’s Instagram account — their pictures are eye candy and fun to browse, which aligns with why people use Instagram. In the post's description, they’re also promoting a sale.

Screenshot showing an Instagram post

To learn more about how to use Instagram as a channel to generate leads for your business, check out our guide to Instagram marketing.

How To Find New Marketing Channels

We’ve covered six channels that are great for marketing your products, but there are many, many more channels out there to get more customers and sales.

Every channel can lead people back to your business.

However, there’s a caveat. More isn’t necessarily better. I’ve said this a lot in this article, and I’m saying it again: focus on what works.

Test every channel. Find what works best. Try everything. But don’t keep doing something that isn’t worth the return — make sure you're not spending more than you're making with your channels.

Always look for new trends to reach your customers. 

Understand your audience better by answering questions like: 

  • Where do they hang out online? 
  • What do they expect from your business? 
  • What are their hobbies? 
  • Why do they use your products?

This helps you understand better how to reach your audience and cater to their needs.

The best way to do this is by asking your customers these questions.

To find new marketing channels, consider sending this email to your customers:

Hey <CUSTOMER’S NAME>,

Thanks for being a loyal customer to <YOUR BRAND>. 

Your business means a lot to me — I mean it. You’re what keeps <BRAND NAME> going every day. I appreciate you.

Now, I have three very simple questions I’d love for you to answer, and your response would really make my day.

1) What are some online platforms you frequent about <YOUR NICHE>?

2) What is your #1 expectation from <YOUR PRODUCT>?

3) How did you initially find out about <YOUR BRAND>?

You’re one of our customers, and your answer to these questions will literally set the course for <YOUR BRAND>’s marketing in the next quarter.

Really looking forward to your replies. :)

Have a wonderful day,

<YOUR NAME>

This email is very personable, and I can almost guarantee you it will get a good number of replies. 

Groove, a SaaS company sent out a similar email, and got amazing results. This is what their inbox looked like after sending out the email:

Screenshot showing Google inbox

The email template I shared has three vital questions to determine the next channel to focus on:

  1. How they found out about you (increase your efforts there).
  2. What are some online platforms they frequent (start targeting people on these platforms).
  3. What their #1 expectation from your product is (focus on promoting this aspect of your product to your target market).

What To Do From Here

Having a steady stream of customers from multiple channels makes your business more sustainable in the long term.

Want a spreadsheet to make tracking the effectiveness of different marketing channels easier? Click the button below.

Channel Marketing Tracking Spreadsheet

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