The State of Ecommerce and the Rising Cost of Paid Advertising

Ecommerce marketing is a tough field for retailers right now. The old methods for attracting business don’t work anymore, and companies are straining under the weight of new challenges, savvier customers, and an ever-expanding list of platforms to reach them on.

Desperate organizations try to repeat old tactics that have long exhausted their use. Businesses STILL run banner ads, despite abysmal click-through rates hovering around 0.05%. Others pour their efforts into Facebook pages, hoping that an army of likes will somehow transform into actual sales.

Companies who have forged ahead have different problems. The need to engage customers across dozens of platforms has led to a data and portal crunch. From email marketing to CRM databases to customer support, your data is all over the place, and it can be impossible to deliver the right message at the right time to the right person.

And you can’t focus on JUST one tool. Relying on Facebook Marketing alone is a failing strategy, Content Marketing doesn’t work in a bubble, and selling on Amazon isn’t enough to keep you from being buried under an avalanche of products.

Shouting at customers online is no longer working. But what’s the solution?

Easy. Stop chasing customers. Make them come to you. And you can do that with Inbound Marketing.

How Inbound Marketing Changes Your Marketing Strategy

You’ve probably heard of inbound marketing by now, despite the fact that many businesses never implement it to its fullest potential.

In a nutshell, instead of just focusing on advertising, inbound marketing has you attracting potential customers through providing useful content at every stage of their buying journey. You build the channels--which can include blogs, social media, email campaigns, and more--and customers find your company because your content is helping them solve a problem.

Here’s the thing: No one pays attention to something when they don’t need it. By creating content that addresses the pain points, problems, and needs of your Ideal Customer, you’ll build your company’s credibility and naturally find the people who would be the best fit for your services.

Here’s an easy example: Say you work in the beauty industry, and one of your niche’s include eyeshadow. You could put out blog content around how to do different types of eye effects, each with a link to an eyeshadow that would make it easier for people to create the effect. Then you promote it, and people searching for makeup help find your useful content and consider buying from you.

It’s a great system for finding people who would be the best fit for your business. But to do it well–to track customer habits, how people move through your funnels, the reach of your content, and more–you need a system that can help you manage it.

Luckily, there’s an industry standard for this: HubSpot.

How HubSpot Solves All of Your Digital Needs

HubSpot is the industry standard when it comes to inbound marketing, but that’s not all it does. Through it’s CRM, Marketing Hub, Sales Hub, and Services Hub, HubSpot allows you to keep your customer data and transactions in one place, while giving you incredibly flexible tools to create campaigns, funnels, and more to grow your business.

In short: It’s everything you need to build a robust inbound marketing system for your company.

Well...ALMOST everything you need. But we’ll get to that in a bit.

HubSpot makes it incredibly easy to build a sales funnel from top to bottom: from the basics of when customer clicks on your Twitter ad, all the way to filling out a form deep on your website for more information, to outright buying your product. It allows for a level of personalization and data use that was previously unheard of, allowing you to see a customer’s purchases and behavior over time to help you customize your outreach to them.

Even better? You can integrate HubSpot with a wide variety of applications in order to enhance certain features that are important into your ecommerce business.

And if you’re in Ecommerce, you definitely care about data integration.

Getting Your Data Into HubSpot: The Hard Way, and the Easy Way

There are two ways to get all of this customer data into HubSpot. We’ll discuss the hard way first, since unfortunately, it’s how most companies tackle the issue.

The hard way involves using sheer manpower to manually insert your initial data points, which amounts to days upon days of employees standardizing and inserting sheets of data into HubSpot. This takes up a ton of time, and while it may not feel like it, it costs A LOT of money when you factor in the amount of hours your staff will put into making this happen.

And let’s be honest--people make mistakes. Oftentimes you’ll need someone else (or worst case scenario, multiple someone's) checking over the work to make sure the data is accurate. Inaccurate data can completely screw up your segmentation, and weeding it out is the bane of many data operators’ existence.

There are other ways to sync your data. You can use general integrations platforms like Zapier that are a mile wide but an inch deep. At Unific, we love Zapier. We use Zapier. But we can only use it for basic things.

None are great, easy, permanent solutions.

We are.

How Unific Makes Ecommerce and HubSpot Easy

While you can find several different pieces of software that can port your data into HubSpot, Unific is the only one that tailors your account specifically to your ecommerce business. It offers the most reliable, fast, easy, and deep integration available.

How? Well, in technical speak, Unific is the only Ecommerce Integration Platform as a Service (iPaaS) built for SMB merchants.

But put simply: We’re built to power ecommerce businesses just like yours. The platform provides deep integrations with leading shopping carts, marketing automation platforms and CRMs, and a growing library of native tools and services to help you improve and grow your customer relationships.

Here’s how it works.

Unific works as a connection point between HubSpot and the ecommerce store of your choice. We’re built to easily work with WooCommerce, Magento, BigCommerce, Shopify, and others.

Sales that occur on those platforms have their data funnel through us and into HubSpot with no effort on your part.

That’s when the fun begins.

Unific automatically segments your customers for you, across over 30 different categories ( and you can add additional ones you want at any time). Our goal is that from the moment Unific syncs your data, you can start using it to make informed marketing plans that engage your best customers.

We want to make it a cinch to turn first-time visitors into first-time buyers, and eventually, help them become lifelong customers.

And we do this by helping you empower your business through your data. Want to target customers between 45 and 60 who’ve bought at least two of your products in the last 3 months? That’ll be easy, because Unific will have automatically listed people out by their age brackets AND by their buying habits. Two clicks, and you’ll have your answer. Now all you have to do is put a workflow against them, and you’re good to go.

Confused by “workflow”? Don’t be. Because in this next section, we’re going to give you an overview of every facet of HubSpot so that you can get value out of it TODAY, not in a month from now.

Let’s start with HubSpot’s groundbreaking CRM.

The Benefits of the HubSpot CRM (Contact, Company, Deal, Product, Tickets)

HubSpot comes complete with one of the best ecommerce CRMs you could ask for, allowing you to keep all of your contacts, information, data, and insights in one place, improving your marketing campaigns tenfold. Some of its features include:

CRM: You can store all your contacts and their companies in the HubSpot CRM, including a record of every interaction you have ever had with a customer or company. You can also customize your feed in order to make sure you’re always aware of interactions you’re tracking right when you log in.

Sales Hub: Importantly, you can attach a deal to any contact or company within HubSpot. Deals are used in two different ways: If you’re a B2C or B2B merchant, Unific will sync the orders placed in your shopping cart as a Deal in HubSpot within the Ecommerce Pipeline. If you have an inside or field sales organization, you can also use Deals to manage your pipeline. HubSpot makes it easy to track when a customer has taken an action that could lead to an increase in revenue for you by segmenting these interactions into their own sections. With Deals, you can track potential sales as they move through a pipeline, gain customer insight, and stay on top of everyone coming to you.

Unific will also sync over your shopping cart’s product library. When an order is placed, Unific not only syncs the order as a deal but also syncs the products as order items.

Service Hub: HubSpot now includes a Service Hub to manage your tickets, knowledge base, and gather customer feedback and health scores. It also keeps track of interactions that require your input, including requests for product support, but can include a wide variety of interactions depending on how involved you’d like to be in overseeing different aspects of the business.

Conversations: Woven throughout the CRM, Marketing Hub, Sales Hub and Service Hub are HubSpot Conversations. You’re able to store snippets and templates for your customer interactions, but the coolest thing you can do is build bots that leverage all the data within your CRM to automate personalized conversational marketing. Learn more about HubSpot Ecommerce bots here.

THE INS AND OUT OF YOUR NEW MARKETING HUB

Of course, all of these features are designed to help give you the best digital marketing hub you could ask for. In that spirit, we want to walk you through several of the notable features in HubSpot, explain how they work, and give you our recommendations and tips for how you should start using them.

Forms

One of the simplest but most important features of HubSpot is how it allows you to create and customize forms to convert a new visitor into a new buyer. Each form can have a specific purpose ( from getting someone to sign-up for a newsletter, or guiding them through the checkout process) and they have dozens of drag and drop templates you can customize for your needs. Each is seamlessly tied into your contact database so that you can be sure all of your data is being tabulated and stored with every interaction.

You can also select what happens after a form is filled out. Whether you want to be notified about a new sign-up so you can reach out to them personally, or you want to trigger an automatic email chain to the customer, you can set it up and automate it in HubSpot.

Our Recommendation: Forms will likely be one of the first things you design when you get into HubSpot, so it’s important that you get started on the right foot. You should create the basic contact us, sign up for our newsletter, and checkout forms that most websites have, be we think you should make sure to have at least one multiple choice question in each form. Doing this early can help you segment customers very quickly, rather than only receiving their name and email address like so many others.

Unific is a value-add reseller of HubSpot and includes form creation and placement as part of onboarding.

Facebook & Instagram Lead Ads

Over time, HubSpot has rolled out more ways to interact with your customer without having to drag them through a funnel you personally own. One of their most useful updates is how you can now use Facebook and Instagram Lead ads in tandem with HubSpot to provide prospects with a much more seamless experience.

Most social ads are designed to get a customer to click through them and land on a page owned by the company, but lead ads are different. Instead, clicking on them will produce a form right in facebook that the user can fill out to give their information. It’s incredibly useful for dealing with the rise of mobile, where users don’t want to have to get taken into another website (or worse, another app) just to sign up for your service.

Our Recommendation: As a general rule, customers that come in through these types of lead campaigns are already far more interested than other consumers. Because HubSpot can trigger a workflow to occur as soon as the form is filled, we always recommend sending these customer’s an immediate offer, or a much more in-depth sales push. They need less “warming up” than regular folks, and not only are you likely to get a sale quicker, but you’re likely to keep these guys around longer.

Email Marketing

Email marketing is one of the most common uses for HubSpot’s tools. However, HubSpot goes above and beyond when it comes to two things: segmentation, and automation.

Put simply, there are few tools that let you divide your audience by as many metrics and data points at HubSpot ( and with Unific, there are plenty more ways you can group your customers together). And with their automation systems, you can create email chains to customers that are so personalized you’re sure to see a massive increase in sales.

Our Recommendation: We cover quite a bit more on email marketing with HubSpot this blog post, so we won’t touch on too much of that here. Instead, we want to give you a tip for how to think about your email content. One of the best practices we find is that when you’re drafting email content, you should be able to break pieces out of it to use for social, and for blogs. So if you’re a clothing company and the email is advertising a dress to the customer, you should be able to break out a quote about the dress and a nice image for social, or expand on it’s features in a blog post. Thinking this way about your content can save you time and increase the value of everything you create.

Lists

HubSpot allows you to create Smart Lists based on Contact, Company, Deal/Order and Ticket information, along with engagement data. Smart Lists are invaluable for strengthening your lifecycle marketing and growing customer lifetime value.

When you connect your shopping cart and HubSpot to Unific, we’ll automatically create several Smart Lists that cover every aspect of your customer lifecycle. Those lists include:

  • Leads
  • Marketing Qualified Leads
  • New Customers
  • Customers
  • Engaged Customers
  • Disengaged Customers
  • Lost Customers
  • Repeat Buyers
  • Bought 2 Times
  • Bought 3 Times
  • Bought 4 or More Times
  • Best Customers
  • At-Risk Best Customers
  • Biggest Tickets
  • Abandoned Carts
  • Last Order Status as Paid

If want to know more about what those lists are and how they can improve your bottom line, see our post on HubSpot as an ecommerce CRM for more detail.

Blog & Content Creation

HubSpot includes a native blogging engine. Your blog is one of the most important digital assets for your company and your inbound marketing campaigns. Companies who blog receive 97% more links to their website than those who don’t. A blog that provides useful information, is loaded with relevant keywords, updates regularly, and leads into sufficient funnels is a monster for attracting and keeping customers. Conversely, many companies ignore their blog at their own peril.

We briefly touched on this when we mentioned content creation up above, but the ability to craft unique, diverse content is the backbone of your marketing strategy. Without having useful articles, blogs, infographics, videos, (and more), you’ll be far more reliant on paid advertising, eating into your profits and keeping you dependent on someone else’s marketing platform for traffic.

HubSpot makes it incredibly easy to incorporate your blog into any funnel running through the system. But in order for it to work, you need to make sure your content is on point. Here are some basic tips for doing that, but for a more in-depth discussion, take a look.

  1. Make Sure Your Content is Useful: It’s amazing how many company blogs exist that provide no helpful information to a reader. Don’t be one of them. Think about the pain points that your product addresses for your customers, and tailor your posts around them. A simple example? If you sell liquor, create a list of great mixed drink recipes that people can make at home that pair perfectly with your spirits.
  2. Break Up Your Text: Formatting matters, and nothing turns people off like clicking into a wall of text. Break up paragraphs, use subtitles, and add photos to keep your blog easy-to-read. And while you’re at it, stick to shorter, punchier headlines.
  3. Keywords are Key: The most important “under the hood” aspect of your blog are the keywords you embed in it. Keywords that your customer’s search for should be laced into your blogs naturally in the body, the meta description, title, and more. Many CMS platforms give you feedback on how well your post is situated for SEO, so make sure to pay attention to the tips they give you.
  4. Linking to Success: Links to other pages boost your SEO, and can be a great way to start catapulting a reader down a sales funnel. Make sure every post has a few that will bring people towards other content pieces.
  5. Analyze the Results: Pay attention to how your audience/customers respond to your blog.There are plenty of times where one of your posts may get far more reads than another, but the second one is getting far more people to actually click into one of your sales funnels. Adjust your content streams as needed to better capture the audience you’re looking for.

SEO & Content Strategy

Speaking of analyzing, HubSpot has some of the best analytics around, and you can use them to not only improve your SEO, but also your content strategy.

We call this creating “smart content”, which is shaped around your user interactions and needs.

Using HubSpot Analytics, you can easily see A. what kinds of content are getting the most engagement and B. what’s bringing people to that content to begin with. This is invaluable knowledge for assisting in your SEO game in particular. If you have a long, link-filled piece of content that’s designed to help a customer pain point, and it’s getting very little traffic, likely there is an issue with your SEO strategy.

Our Recommendation: We have two. For improving your SEO, we recommend performing the google searches you think your customer’s would to see what articles come up. You can then use that information to craft more keywords to help improve your content SEO. You can also look into HubSpot’s analytics to find what searches led people to you, and insert words of a similar nature. As for smart content, not only should you write additional content towards popular topics, but you can also you the “Pillar and Spoke” method to attract people. More info coming soon.

Social Media

HubSpot can also become your default social media war room. Not only is it easy to access of the analytics associated with your social media campaigns, but you can also see how customers travel through your social output and into your owned funnels to find out what’s working, what needs to be changed, and where customers are dropping off. We talk alot about this in our blog post and how to best maximize your potential in this space. Whenever possible, make sure you publish your social through HubSpot that you can access it’s rich data for all of your needs.

Our Recommendation: You should immediately start testing funnels that have users that have to click a social media ad and head to your site, versus the Facebook/Instagram in-app lead-gen ads we mentioned above. In our experience, different business types have a much easier time with lead-gen ads than others, and it’s a good first test to get feedback on.

Landing pages

HubSpot lets you quickly and easily build your own landing page from scratch. While many platforms offer the ability to create your own landing pages, HubSpot’s data collection allows for much higher customer personalization.

Your landing page can be programmed to show different content based on different audience characteristics, including the visitor’s location, where they are in your buying stage, and more. By personalizing your landing page to the individual visiting, you can greatly increase your sales.

Our Recommendation: Landing pages tend to be very business specific for obvious reasons, but when it comes to tailoring content, we recommend your landing page change slightly depending on the customer’s location, or from where they found your company. If they found the page through a social ad, versus just a google search, there is different information you may want to present to them. This takes time and testing, but an automated, ever-shifting landing page can do wonders for your sales.

Leadflows

Leadflows are custom pop-up forms that you can create in HubSpot, that activate when a customer hits a certain trigger. You can control every aspect of the form, from how it looks, to what makes them spawn, and more. These need absolutely no coding to create, making them invaluable tools to your business.

Analytics Dashboards

Let’s just say this quickly: Once you have HubSpot, you no longer need Google Analytics.

We know, it’s a bold statement (and given how GA is free, we still know clients that like to keep it implemented as a safety check) but the analytics dashboards available in HubSpot are just as deep and user friendly, with the added benefit of being connected to all of your other marketing activity.

While you can take a deep dive into the information, HubSpot provides you with several out-of-the-box reports to make it even easier to get insights from your data. And with the new HubSpot Enterprise release, this tool becomes even more powerful, because you can install HubSpot’s analytics into any platform your company uses, not just your website. That means that you can keep all of the platforms for multiple brands hooked into HubSpot, and it will automatically use this data to improve your marketing.

ROI Attribution Reports

A close cousin to Analytics Dashboards are Attributions reports. These are an invaluable tool to help you see which step in your funnel caused someone to convert, or where there are gaps where people back out.

You can arrange these reports to solve for various problems, but in general, the first attribution report should be based around finding what source is driving the most conversions, and in particular, the most “first sales”. While much of our marketing is around identifying Top Customers, you can’t start with them if you’re not getting initial sales.

Our Recommendation: As a small tip, make sure you pick one day a week to create Attribution Reports of all your major funnel campaigns. That way you’re consistently getting data on what works/what doesn’t, and are changing things within a similar timeframe.

Marketing Automation

HubSpot offers plenty of ways to automate your marketing, but the vast majority of them start with a Workflow. A workflow is series of directed emails and communications designed to get a customer to take a specific action. Different segments require different workflows, which often include custom content, scheduling, and more to most effectively work.

HubSpot allows you to create all of your own workflows, and while there are dozens that may be useful to your business, here are some we recommend starting right away.

  1. New Customer Workflow: This workflow is for turning your 1st-time paying customers into repeat buyers. You should set-up the workflow to trigger when the customer makes their first purchase, and it should deliver content over 3 weeks designed to get them to make an additional purchase within a business specific time frame. For example, if your Top Customers typically are identified by making their second purchase within 30 days, that’s what you would have this chain work against. IN THIS BLOG POST, WE GO IN DEPTH ON HOW TO DESIGN THIS WORKFLOW.
  • New Lead Workflow:This one is used for capturing first time site visitors with an offer (we recommend popup tools like Optimonk or Justuno) and automatically nurturing them with content to the point of sale. To create this workflow, create a coupon that generates whenever a new user comes to the site that they have to enter their email to receive, and then you can start marketing guided content to them to encourage the first purchase.
  • Abandoned Cart Workflow: 78 percent of customers drop out at the cart stage, and this is your line of defense to prevent that from happening. The crux of this workflow involves getting customer information BEFORE they get to the cart, so that if they don’t buy, you can target them with a workflow that encourages them to finally make that purchase.

Learn more about how to automated your full customer lifecycle with HubSpot and Unific.

A/B Testing

A/B testing is a core pillar of most marketing campaigns, and HubSpot allows you to A/B test nearly everything you send out, including emails, facebook messenger texts, blog titles, and much more.

Most of HubSpot’s A/B testing tools are a cinch to use, but there are some best practices you should remember. First, always make sure you only A/B test one element at a time in your communication. Testing two different emails with different visuals and subject lines would generally be useless, because there is far too much difference for you to get an accurate idea of what is enticing readers, and what specific thing is converting them.

Always have a control version of the communication. The control if the version all others are weighed against to judge their effectiveness.

Video

HubSpot allows for video integration at every level of your marketing campaigns, and knowing how to utilize this effectively can help you supercharge your campaigns. If you want a more in-depth look at how you can do this, we recommend you read this blog which shows the various parts of the sales funnel video can be most effective.

In the meantime, one of the main perks of running your video through HubSpot are the analytics you can derive from the platform. It’s much easier to determine how long it takes a user to watch a video before they sign up for your offer when all of the analytics are funneling into the same system, and even easier to start an automation tailored to a customer’s interests.

Transactional Email

Transactional Email is exactly what it sounds like--emails whose sole purpose is to record a transaction. They’re different than most of the emails you’d send ( which are marketing based) and usually include things like receipts, account updates, and anything that a user needs to know that could affect their experience. Many companies use a different provider for these types of emails, but with HubSpot, you also get the same in-depth analytics with these as you do on your regular emails.

In Conclusion

Getting noticed online is getting harder and harder. To help yourself stand out and draw in the customers you truly need, inbound marketing must be part of the solution, and the best platform to control not only your Inbound Marketing but also cover your full marketing and sales stack is HubSpot.

No matter what level of your business, with HubSpot, you can truly unlock the value and potential of your store’s data. If you’re interested in even more tips and tricks to help improve your HubSpot experience and start experience it’s value on Day 1, click here to do it.

And if you’re interested in seeing how Unific can help you have a more reliable, easy, fast, and deep experience, one that turns your data into insights, insights into action, and action into growth, contact us today.