Last week, Amazon announced a new feature that links social marketing to digital commerce by allowing Twitter users to add an item to their Amazon.com shopping cart by replying to a tweet by Amazon and including #AmazonCart. This is the latest in a series of plays by merchants to connect–consumers to shopping carts to checkout–across digital channels. This also reinforces what digital marketers revealed in Gartner’s 2014 Digital Marketing Spending Survey–digital commerce was among the top three areas of digital marketing budget allocation in 2013 and is among the top three areas for digital marketing budget increase in 2014.
Digital marketers have enjoyed steady growth in their budgets over the last few years, but to whom much is given, much is required. As companies have increased spending on digital marketing, especially amid economic uncertainty, it makes sense that they’re cutting spending elsewhere—perhaps traditional media and advertising, product development, labor or operations. That means they’re placing a big bet on digital marketing to drive results—namely revenue. This is where digital commerce comes in as the connection between marketing tactics and business performance.
But it isn’t achieved simply through luck or funding. Success in digital marketing relies on three things:
- Data: Some digital commerce tactics are tried and true—like ratings and reviews—while others are more experimental—like using tweets to drive sales. Use web analytics, sales and marketing data to learn how customers shop and where digital fits. Do they browse online and buy in store? If so, improve the commerce site and give customers mobile tools to connect online and offline experiences. Are they showrooming? Then use digital technology to enhance the in-store experience. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution, so use data analytics to prioritize.
- Coordination: At its core, digital commerce is supposed to make it easier for customers, but that takes coordination across internal teams and external providers. Trying to go it alone leads to disjointed experiences that are hard to sustain and scale. More importantly, poorly executed digital commerce can alienate customers, such as retailers who sell in multiple channels but can’t accept in-store returns for online purchases. This could be a signal a lack of integration between digital marketing, e-commerce, IT, merchandising, inventory management and supply chain functions.
- Measurement: Much of marketing focus on impact to the top of the funnel—awareness, consideration—with less attention paid to the bottom line. Digital commerce measures marketing effectiveness in real-time, right down to conversion and revenue. Digital marketers may need to recruit or develop analytic talent to make these connections during marketing planning and implementation, as well as invest in marketing tools and commerce platforms that provide real-time metrics, data-driven recommendations and role-based decision-making.
Digital commerce will continue to drive the digital marketing agenda and budget allocation throughout 2014. Before you revamp your website, build a mobile app or buy a 3D printer, invest time and money in the three things that matter most—data, coordination and measurement. These fundamentals will help you focus on digital commerce tactics that are more likely to deliver value to your company and customers; integrate digital commerce across functions for frictionless customer experiences; and optimize spend by quickly learning what works and what doesn’t.