Why your eCommerce business is struggling to grow at profit

eCommerce marketing has become a tyranny of complexity, and the challenges are growing for online brands.

Facebook versus Apple war, the death of third-party cookies, and EU/California privacy laws…

A three-decade journey fuelled by technology, and the ubiquitous power and reach of the big four has led paid marketing into the entangled realm of software engineers and data scientists.

The techies have landed and they mean to destroy you.

For right or wrong, signal data (pixel, cookies, tags, etc) is under attack, and the industry is scrambling for a solution.

Most eCommerce businesses undervalue the importance of proper customer behaviour tracking, and the agency industry criminally under-serves this need.

A lot of brands rely on web developers for conversion tracking.

This is like asking your plumber to do your wiring; they can have a go but chances are your lights are going to blow.

Why would you take the risk?

Should your eCommerce brand in-house or outsource marketing?

In-house versus outsourced marketing has been a matter of debate for years.

Recent trends have seen many brands, having previously in-housed, now looking to outsource (again) as their own internal teams strain under the growing technicalities and exponential pressures of a rapidly and constantly evolving industry.

The old analogy of the website and eCommerce funnel as a leaky bucket is now just mere nostalgia.

A longing dream for the halcyon days of simplicity.

Today’s analogy is more akin to a sieve, with data pouring through a mesh of poorly built data layers and dodgy conversion tracking.

Who’s to blame for this?

Your digital marketer?

Web developer?

Ecomm manager?

The answer lies with the one looking at your funnel from end to end.

If that’s “nobody”, then the blame lies squarely with you.

The problem is that there usually isn’t any one person or even a team who can do all this.

Look at your own digital marketing team/person and ask yourself if they understand how an entire eCommerce funnel functions.

If they fully understand event tracking, cross-channel marketing strategy and attribution, and how it all works together to deliver efficient revenue growth for your business?

Plug-and-play is dead

Brands have tried to compensate for this with apps and plugins that promise easy “plug and play” tracking and marketing solutions.

However, paid advertising has become so complicated that even a simple change to a product page will break your tracking code, sending erroneous or no signal at all to your ads, leading to wasted ad spend, stalling campaigns, and a drop in performance.

All of this causes revenue loss, and slows down growth and scalability – it takes much longer to get things back on track than it does to break something.

Customer journey tracking is hard AF

Signal data is the foundation for generating profit from digital marketing, and is the single most important issue affecting eCommerce businesses right now – knowing who your customers are and how they interact with your business from ad-click to purchase can make or break your success.

As Will Chalk, our Head of Google Performance & Customer Analytics, shares on Google Analytics for eCommerce:

You’ve really got to map out the user journey, create a data layer with your developer and also input what information you want to track from that user.

Sounds straightforward enough, right?

But as you now know, tracking your customer journey has become an intricate web that can unravel on a simple website UI update.

So because of this, plug-and-play/set-and-forget tracking and marketing solutions are dead.

They’re cheap toys for ambitious brands looking for serious eCommerce growth.

You buy cheap, you buy twice.

How do you overcome this complex problem?

First of all, take a step back and breathe.

You’re now aware of the problem, so all you need to do is take appropriate steps to get back on track to profitability.

However you decide to do this, you must at least be able to answer the following 2 questions:

  • What is your data strategy?
  • Who in your team owns which part of your eCommerce funnel, and what is their overall understanding of the entire funnel and how everything’s interlinked (website, tracking, creatives, ads, etc.)?

This will really decide, at the end of the day, whether or not you’re able to profitably grow your eCommerce business.

First, you must have a comprehensive data strategy that includes:

  • What you want to track and how it contributes to your bottom line
  • How you track conversions
  • How you collect and use customer data, and where you store it
  • How everything fits into your overall marketing strategy
Leaf diagram on data strategy

Next, you need to look at your team’s ownership and understanding of your eCommerce funnel, by mapping out everything from end to end.

eCommerce customer journey map and ownership

Once you do this, you are then able to identify ownership, understanding, and expertise gaps in your eCommerce funnel.

Oh, there will be gaps.

So many gaps…

At least once you’ve identified them, you can then work on a plan on how you’ll address them.

What we’ve seen work for most of our clients is a hybrid in-house and outsourcing approach.

The in-house team has ownership over the brand, and the outsourced team, e.g. Leaf, brings their expertise to the table when it comes to specialism, industry updates, and speed of scale and execution.

Leaf diagram on inhouse vs. outsourcing marketing work

Once you delve into your data strategy and eCommerce funnel, you will see how much work needs to be done in order for you to profitably scale your business.

As we’ve said earlier, eCommerce marketing has become a tyranny of complexity.

So this will be an interesting challenge for sure. We hope this article has given you some insight into how to face this complex beast head-on.

And if you want to work with a partner that takes the guesswork out of eCommerce growth, let’s talk! We at Leaf fight fire with fire. We combine tech, code, data, and a team of experienced specialists to provide end-to-end performance solutions for ambitious online retail businesses like you. Here’s to profitable growth.