Ecommerce Focused Advertising Landscape Research

Part
01
of six
Part
01

Top e-Commerce Advertising Agencies - United States

The four top e-commerce advertising agencies in the United States are WebFX, Social SEO, SmartSites Digital Marketing Agency, and Kobe Digital. We have provided the required details for each of the agencies here below.

WebFX

  • WebFX's website can be found here.
  • Examples of WebFX's creatives can be found here.
  • The agency serves clients such as small business owners, franchisees, small, medium, and large e-commerce businesses, and medium or large national and international companies.
  • WebFX's clients include Paulb Parts, Reynolds Building Solutions, York Saw and Knife, ABWE International, Cleveland Brothers, among many others.

Why We Chose This Agency

SocialSEO

  • Here's a link to the agency's website.
  • SocialSEO's clients include Jaguar, Land Rover, Current, Cadillac, Beverley Center, National Strength and Conditioning Association, among many others.
  • Examples of the agency's creatives and cases studies can be found here.

Why We Chose This Agency

SmartSites Digital Marketing Agency

  • The agency's website can be found here.
  • SmartSites' creatives can be found in the case studies section of their website. Here, the agency displays the work it has done for some of their clients. The agency's other creatives can be found here.
  • SmartSites' clients include South Florida Distillers, Application Associates, Community Blood Services, among others.
  • Just like the other e-commerce advertising agencies we selected, SmartSites has received numerous industry recognition and awards from UpCity, Inc, AVA, Hermes, Communicator, Davey and W3 Awards, Entrepreneur Magazine, New Jersey Biz, among other publications.

Kobe Digital

  • Here's the link to the agency's website.
  • Examples of Kobe Digital's creatives can be found here.
  • The agency's clients include Fox Rent a Car, Pets Global, Zarmoney, Wowdesk, BellyGoodness, Glassman Media, Royal Thai Consulate, Senior SSP Aerospace, among others.
  • The agency has received several awards and recognition like Google Partnership, UpCity Diamond Partnership, recognition by TopSEOs, Bing Partnership, among others.


Research Strategy

To identify the top e-commerce advertising agencies in the United States, we searched through pre-compiled lists in marketing industry sources such as UpCity, Clutch, Sort List, Big Commerce, among other sources. While we found pre-compiled lists from these sources, the agencies each listed seemed to be different from the other sources. We scoured through the above sources and studied all the agencies listed. We also studied all the criteria they used to rank the agencies, for those that revealed their selection criteria.

Finally, we settled on UpCity's list for the following reasons:

1.) UpCity is a reputable and credible source that is visited by over 225,000 businesses every month.
2.) UpCity analyzed over 33,000 e-commerce marketing agencies in North America before making the selection, so we believe that their process was comprehensive.
3.) UpCity reveals the selection criteria they used.
4.) The agencies selected by UpCity had more validated and verified reviews than in any other source.
5.) The agencies selected by UpCity are industry leaders that have received numerous other awards, accolades, and recognition from trusted sources.



Part
02
of six
Part
02

Top e-Commerce Advertising Agencies - Global

Some of the best e-commerce advertising agencies based on the awards they have received and the clients they serve include KOTA, Brand and Mortar, Edenspiekermann, and Emote Digital.

KOTA

Brand and Mortar

Edenspiekermann

Emote Digital

Part
03
of six
Part
03

E-commerce Brands/Companies with In-House Marketing

Shopee, Wayfair, and Zilingo are e-commerce brands that use in-house marketing capabilities. Their marketing activities are handled by employees.

Shopee

  • Shopee, an e-commerce company based in Singapore, uses in-house marketing capabilities to invent, design, and produce its entire advertising from social media to offline contents and the marketing for the holiday seasons and shopping festivals such as 11.11, 12.12, Black Friday, and Cyber Friday.
  • It doesn't use any specific custom or 3rd party tool to do its in-house marketing services. However, it currently works with AKA Asia, a third-party marketing agency, as its public relations partner and marketing consultant.
  • Shopee recently used its in-house marketing team to create a commercial featuring Portuguese professional footballer Cristiano Ronaldo to boost its visibility and awareness during the 11.11 shopping festival in 2019. The ad was aired in cinemas, shopping malls, and elevators in office buildings across Singapore.
  • Shopee's in-house marketing team also designed a channel called Shopee Live Streaming. The channel allows sellers to "host their own interactive live shopping videos and showcase their hot selling products to engage with potential buyers in real-time."

Wayfair

  • After years of using ad agencies for TV and media marketing, Wayfair, an American e-commerce company, currently uses its in-house advertising agency, Waygency, to drive 100% of media buying, creative, and ad tech in-house.
  • Since 100% of Wayfair's ad tech is run in-house, the company doesn't employ third-party tools towards its marketing and advertising. However, it works with third-party marketing agencies on an advisory basis only to ensure it only builds what's necessary.
  • Wayfair created a television campaign, "Explore the Great Indoors," using Waygency. The campaign aired on major network programs, including CBS programs Blue Bloods, 48 Hours, 60 Minutes, and Amazing Race as well as ABC’s Good Morning America Weekend.

Zilingo

  • Zilingo is a Singapore-based online commerce platform in the fashion industry. The company runs media buying, digital marketing, creative productions, event management, and public relations in-house.
  • Zilingo admits to working with third-party agencies in a co-creating capacity but does not disclose if it uses any specific custom or tools from the agencies to do their in-house marketing and advertising.
  • Here is a Zilingo film created by its in-house marketing team about one of its own production mills.
Part
04
of six
Part
04

Future of e-Commerce Advertising

Globally, total marketing spend was predicted to reach 1.3 trillion by 2020, and of that, the total digital marketing spend was forecast to hit 306 billion. Additionally, it was predicted that spending on social media advertising would outstrip total spending on newspaper ads in 2020. The truth of that latter prediction was accurate, and in fact that milestone was passed in 2019 with newspaper and magazine ads generating less than $69 billion, while global social media ad spend was $84 billion. The future of e-commerce advertising has always been ripe for predictions, some turning out to be accurate, and others not. Thirteen pieces of information, data, and/or statistics surrounding how the future of e-commerce (digital) advertising might look, as predicted (and directly quoted) by credible and reliable thought leaders and/or industry experts, have been curated and presented below. All predictions are recent ones.
  • The significance and relevance of influencers will increase, according to the senior vice president of global marketing for CGS, Elena Filimonova. She states that B2C brands have become dependent on influencers as a way to engage with online customers." She thinks that while there have been some B2B brands who are following suit, they should do things a bit differently and re-think the landscape of what an influencer actually is. Filimonova states that they should focus on what is right in front of them, which is their immediate network. "Partners, customers and employees will become an even more essential part of a brand’s marketing strategy, as technology buyers are becoming more reliant on their peer network for solution knowledge."
  • Digital growth marketing expert and speaker Lisa Apolinski, owner of 3 Dog Write in Phoenix and author of the book Weathering the Digital Storm believes that marketing budgets are going to be scrutinized. “With an impending economic recession and political uncertainty, companies will look at how they are spending their dollars on service-related items,” according to Apolinski. “Because of this, companies will be more critical and discerning of what service agencies are brought in, including talking to past clients and looking at consistent thought leadership.”
  • Ensuring that a brand is advertising and thereby communicating authenticity is also key, according to Apolinski. “Potential customers are becoming more distrustful of what they read in the digital space, and rightly so,” she reveals. By insisting on being not only consistent with their messaging, but by being truthful as well, brands can avoid consumers discovering any inconsistencies. Being inauthentic not only affects a single consumer's purchasing decisions, it can potentially have a ripple effect, with that person making sure others know about it as well. She further believes that brands and companies need to be "humble and kind." “Communication that brings in compassion and humility will be able to cut through the digital noise to touch and inspire audiences,” asserts Apolinski.
  • According to Harvard Business Review, 73% of customers are taking advantage of multiple channels during their path to purchase. As consumers move easily between shopping in brick and mortar stores, and digitally, multiple channels will become ever more present on the consumers purchase journey. Understanding when the e-commerce customer buys, how they navigate the marketing channels they engage with, and figuring out what their motivations and key drivers are for making a purchase is something that each brand has to figure out. Put simply, omnichannel shopping means figuring out the what, where, when, why, and how people are purchasing the products that a brand sells on a particular channel. The more channels a consumer uses, the more likelihood they will spend more. Compared to customers who used just one channel to make a purchase, if a consumer uses more than four shopping channels they will, on average, spend 9% more in the store.
  • According to Beeketing, over the past couple of years e-commerce personalization has become a key trend among businesses, but in 2020 and moving forward, it will become entrenched as an expectation. When a business has insufficient or no personalization in place, thirty-three percent of consumers have terminated their relationship with them. Personalization has developed into an elevated marketing strategy. It is no longer about just knowing a customer by name. E-commerce personalization is about offering a unique and individualized shopping experience to a customer. By analyzing personal information such as demographics, browsing behavior, buying history, and other data relevant to their shopping journey, e-commerce marketers can get a much better picture of who their customer really is.
  • It was not long ago when Gartner analysts forecast that by 2020, AI technologies would be ubiquitous in almost every new software product and service, a prediction that Harvard Business Review seconded earlier in 2019. Artificial intelligence is already being implemented in such areas as: basic communication, product recommendations, content creation, email personalization, and e-commerce transactions. In fact 71% of B2B marketers are interested in using AI for personalization reasons.
  • Brands that are already using AI to improve their marketing efforts include Netflix, The Washington Post, Sephora, Starbucks, and Forbes.
  • Digital marketing will continue to incorporate chatbots in 2020 and beyond. Using instant messaging to chat in real-time, this AI-based technology can engage with customers or site visitors day or night. Research reveals that: By 2020, it was predicted that chatbots will power 85% of customer service. Twenty-four hour service (64%), instant answers to inquiries (55%), and answers to simple questions (55%) are some reported top benefits of chatbots.
  • E-commerce marketing is becoming much more conversational. When consumers have a question, 82% want an “immediate” answer. Conversational marketing allows an immediate one on one connection between marketers and consumers. Very different from past strategies, this form of marketing is now available across multiple channels, allowing brands to meet customers on their terms: on the devices, platforms and time schedules that suit the customer best. According to David Cancel, founder and CEO of Drift: “Today’s buyers expect to find what they’re looking for now, not later. As we prepare for the future, it will be more important than ever for businesses to be available across a broad spectrum of channels, and to make sure you’re communicating the way people prefer to communicate.”
  • The e-commerce experience will include a lot more relevant content, according to Jeremy Muras, SVP of Digital at Lion Capital, and David Hurwitz, former CMO of BloomReach. They state that "consumers want brands that have values and convey the values in a personalized way to the shopper. This requires content. E-commerce brands are moving toward the creation of more, relevant, and helpful content that drives engagement and facilitates the right purchase. Machines will enable this to occur faster for long-tail retail items, in real time, allowing humans to develop the biggest experience-enhancing content."
  • According to Or Shani, CEO and Founder of Albert Technologies, "Advancements in technology continue to drive change in the workplace, altering employees’ tasks, priorities and required skills across different disciplines, especially in marketing and advertising. The phrase “data is the new oil” accurately captures today’s digital marketer’s world. But just like oil, data must be refined into insights in order to create value. The tools and skills to create value out of data are more critical to business success today than ever before."
  • Shani also believes that the "marketing team of the future will offload certain tasks to an intelligent machine to blend the use of data analysis for media execution with the validation of creative fundamentals like value proposition. Once the rote mechanical data-crunching tasks that bog down digital marketing teams are off-loaded, marketers’ attention can turn to the fundamentals that create great, compelling brand experiences."
  • A big factor in getting to this future, according to Or Shani, will involve "marketers’ willingness to banish the notions of what campaign success has looked like and embrace what campaign success could look like. Teams will need to learn to be open-minded about their approach to marketing and advertising and shed preconceived notions of what they think works."
Part
05
of six
Part
05

Insights and Trends - e-Commerce (Digital) Advertising: Part One

A more detailed analysis surrounding the four e-commerce trends identified in the initial hour of research has been presented below. We also found at least one other credible and reliable source that corroborates each e-commerce trend, in fact, in many cases, we found multiple other confirming sources.

Omni-Channel Marketing

Google AMP and ALP

  • AMP is an acronym for Accelerated Mobile Pages. It is a Google-operated web technology with the single purpose of speeding pages up for mobile web users.
  • ALP is an acronym for Accelerated Landing Pages, which is a similar framework to AMP but focused solely on landing pages.
  • In the 2019 Page Speed Report, marketers were asked if they planned to implement AMP soon. Fifty-seven percent reported that they have no plans to implement it, while twenty-three percent are still considering it.
  • By uploading these pages, mobile sites use less bandwidth and load much faster, no matter the device or network used. One of the factors Google uses to determine rankings on any given search is mobile-friendliness. This means if a brand is utilizing AMP, they have a much greater chance of ranking high, as opposed to those that don't.
  • AMP can make a website four times as fast while using 10 times less bandwidth.
  • The Washington Post implemented AMP marketing and saw instant results. In a week, they had a 23% increase in return mobile users. Wired magazine also saw great benefits. Click-through rates increased by 25% and their AMP ad click-throughs accelerated by a whopping 60%.

More Post-Click Landing Pages

  • "A post-click landing page is a standalone page, disconnected from a website's navigation, that uses persuasive elements to convince visitors to perform a specific action. This action can vary from downloading an ebook, to subscribing to a newsletter, to signing up for a free trial."
  • PCLPs (post-click landing pages) are a popular marketing tool, and data from Search Engine Journal reveals that this popularity is not apt to change anytime soon. According to their State of Digital Marketing report, the content "that marketers are seeing most success with are ebooks and whitepapers, That is because PCLPs are where users actually get those ebooks and whitepapers from businesses who offer them in exchange for something in return, like name and email address."
  • Shockingly, over ninety-six percent of ad clicks don’t convert. This can be attributed to the absence of proper landing page optimization. Because pre-click strategies get the most amount of attention, digital marketers focus too little on post-click optimization.
  • The average landing page conversion rate is close to 2.35%, while for e-commerce landing pages it is approximately 2.8%. E-commerce landing pages also get consumers to remain on the page longer, with seventy-two percent of people more likely to bounce once landing on a product page.

Outstream Video

Part
06
of six
Part
06

Insights and Trends - e-Commerce (Digital) Advertising: Part Two

A more detailed analysis surrounding three e-commerce trends identified in the initial hour of research has been presented below. We also found at least one other credible and reliable source that corroborates each e-commerce trend, in fact, in many cases, we found multiple other confirming sources.

Messenger Marketing and Chatbots

  • Chatbots are interactive applications that can interact with people through platforms, including messaging services such as Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Viber and WeChat, using text as a method of communicating. "Messenger marketing, on the other hand, is the act of using mobile chat platforms to allow conversations and commerce with prospects and customers."
  • Today, the chatbot industry is booming. According to Grand View research, the chatbot market, valued at $190.8 million in 2016, is predicted to reach $1.25 billion by 2025 with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 24.3%.
  • Chatbots create tons of new opportunities within the still relatively novel concept of messenger marketing. A well-developed chatbot auto-response system that can provide answers to the most common questions received by a company can help to improve response time and customer satisfaction, as well as ensuring customer retention.
  • Twenty-five percent of all downloaded apps are discarded after a single use. Only instant messaging goes against the trend. "Over 2.5 billion people have at least one messaging app installed." Within a couple of years, that will reach 3.6 billion, about half of the global population.
  • Ninety percent of consumers are more likely to do business with companies that answer inquiries immediately.
  • By 2022, Gartner research predicts that seventy percent of customer interactions will involve technology such as machine learning applications, chatbots, and mobile messaging which is up from 15% in 2018. Further, that same research states that twenty-five percent of businesses plan to deploy a chatbot in the next 12 months and nineteen percent of businesses have already implemented a chatbot in 2020.

Marketing Automation

  • The act of using software to automate marketing activities is referred to as marketing automation. "Many marketing departments automate repetitive tasks such as email marketing, social media posting, and even ad campaigns, not just for the sake of efficiency, but so they can provide a more personalized experience for their customers. The technology of marketing automation makes these tasks easier."

Remarketing (Retargeting) Ads

  • The strategy of serving targeted ads to people who have already visited or taken action on your website is referred to as remarketing (also known as retargeting).
  • Twenty-five percent of online viewers want to see remarketing ads. While sixty percent of people remain neutral about watching remarketing ads, the reason twenty-five percent of consumers like them is that they are reminded of products and services they were looking at previously, that they might have forgotten about.
  • OTT advertising allows retargeting (remarketing) through web and mobile traffic to complete the cross-channel marketing loop. With the help of website retargeting, IP targeting and device thumbprints, marketers can retarget a consumer that has seen their ad on streaming TV on their computer or mobile phone.
  • Remarketing makes it likelier to convert previous visitors into paying customers (70%), can result in an increase in average conversion rates (147%), can increase branded search results (+500%) and can deliver an increase in overall site visitors (700%).
  • Research from connectIO shows that remarketing ads are seventy-six percent more likely to get clicks than Display Ads, and according to a report from Growthbadger, consumers are seventy percent more likely to convert when they are retargeted.
  • After switching from traditional to remarketing ads, tire-maker brand Tirendo reported a 161% increase in conversions.
  • Online store Sanea Haushalt created "lookalike audiences" based on their customers and showed them ads. When sales grew they created more lookalike audiences based on the top ten percent of the store’s best customers. They showed remarketing ads to this group based on pages they’d browsed on the company’s website. Their results? They attracted 46,000 new customers in 6 months, lowered their Cost Per Purchase (CPP) by 34%, and had 300,000 customers after 18 months. Sanea Haushalt now has around 900 sales per day.
Sources
Sources

From Part 01
From Part 04
From Part 05
From Part 06