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The ultimate guide to E-commerce marketing in the Philippines

The E-commerce industry in the Philippines has been experiencing impressive growth in the past few years. As of 2023, the country’s E-ommerce market is worth approximately $16 billion, and could reach $24 billion by 2025. This has been fueled by an increased smartphone penetration rate, which is currently at 75.25% (2022), and an internet penetration rate reaching 73.1%.

Online shopping has become a staple for many Filipinos, with around 38.9 million online shoppers in the country as of 2023. This is due, in part, to the convenience it offers, such as avoiding traffic and long queues, the availability of a wider range of products, and the ability to compare prices easily.

Notably, local platforms like Lazada and Shopee are leading the E-commerce scene, but international giants like Amazon are also establishing their presence. This dynamic environment presents an exciting opportunity for businesses to enter the E-commerce sector and tap into the growing digital consumer base.

In this thriving E-commerce landscape, standing out from the crowd is no small task. That’s where effective marketing comes in. Marketing not only helps businesses differentiate themselves from their competitors, but it also allows them to reach their target customers, build a loyal customer base, and ultimately increase sales.

Data shows that 83% of Filipinos find online ads helpful in finding the right product online. Moreover, approximately 44.1% of brands are discovered through social media ads, a statistic that aligns with the extensive time Filipinos devote to platforms like Facebook.. This underlines the vital role that marketing plays in the success of an E-commerce business.

Whether you’re a startup looking to build your online presence, an established business aiming to expand your reach online, or a marketer wanting to refine your E-commerce marketing strategy, this guide will provide you with the essential knowledge and tools to succeed in the vibrant Philippine E-commerce scene.

Understanding the Filipino Online Market

Understanding your market – their demographics, behavior, preferences, and cultural nuances – is key to tailoring your marketing strategies effectively. 

Profile of the Average Filipino Online Consumer

Demographics

The Filipino online consumer is young and tech-savvy. As of 2023, the majority of Filipino online shoppers are between the ages of 18 to 34 (80%). Women are more active than men, making up about 72% of the online shopper demographic.

The majority of online consumers live in urban areas, primarily in the National Capital Region, but online shopping is gaining popularity in other regions too, as internet access expands.

Internet Usage and Online Buying Behavior

Filipinos spend an average of 9.14 hours a day on the internet, with a significant chunk of that time dedicated to social media. When it comes to online shopping, they prioritize value for money, product quality, and availability of reviews and ratings. 

They often visit multiple sites before making a purchase decision and prefer platforms that offer convenient and secure payment options.

The top product categories Filipinos purchase online include electronics, fashion, and groceries. Interestingly, about 40% of online shoppers make impulse purchases, with social media playing a significant role in influencing these buying decisions.

Preferred E-commerce Platforms and Payment Methods in the Philippines

In the Philippines, Lazada and Shopee are the dominant E-commerce platforms due to their user-friendly interfaces, wide variety of products, and promotions. These platforms have adapted well to local preferences, offering features like cash on delivery (COD), which is preferred by around 71% of Filipino online shoppers.

While credit and debit card use is growing, especially among urban consumers, COD remains a popular choice due to concerns about online security and the prevalence of unbanked consumers. However, digital payment solutions such as GCash and Maya are also gaining popularity, offering an alternative for those without bank accounts.

Understanding Cultural Nuances and Buying Patterns

Filipino consumers are family-oriented and often make purchase decisions that benefit their family unit. They are also known for their “malasakit” or empathy, and are drawn to brands that show social responsibility and community care.

Moreover, Filipinos are fond of sales and discounts. This is reflected in the success of online shopping events like 11.11 and 12.12, where huge sales spikes are observed.

Social media heavily influences Filipino online consumers. With Filipinos being among the most active social media users globally, platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube play a significant role in their purchase journey.

What is E-commerce Marketing?

E-commerce marketing is the practice of promoting a business that sells products or services online. It involves tactics that attract potential customers to an E-commerce website, convert them into customers, and retain them post-purchase. 

This strategy leverages digital content, social media platforms, search engines, and email campaigns to connect with online shoppers at every stage of their purchasing journey.

Effective E-commerce marketing is essential for an online business’s success. It increases brand awareness, attracts potential customers, improves customer engagement, and drives sales.

According to data, businesses utilizing E-commerce marketing have seen a significant increase in customer acquisition and retention. For instance, an engaging social media presence helps brands to retain and influence customers’ loyalty, with 90% of online shoppers buying from brands they follow on social media.

7 E-commerce Marketing Strategies

The strategies used in E-commerce marketing can be vast and diverse, but here’s a brief overview of some commonly used methods:

  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO): This technique helps improve a website’s visibility on search engines like Google, leading to increased website traffic.
  • Social Media Marketing: Brands can use platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to engage with customers, promote products, and increase brand awareness.
  • Email Marketing: This method involves sending targeted emails to customers to promote products, provide offers, and build relationships.
  • Content Marketing: This strategy includes creating and sharing informative and valuable content (like blogs, videos, infographics) that attracts and engages customers.
  • Paid Advertising: This includes methods like pay-per-click (PPC) advertising and social media ads to increase brand visibility and reach.

The effectiveness of these strategies relies on understanding your target market and aligning these tactics with your business goals.

1. E-commerce Website Optimization

The first step in your E-commerce journey is creating a user-friendly website. Your website is essentially your online store, and just like a physical store, it should be inviting, easy to navigate, and helpful. 

A well-designed website can reduce bounce rates (when visitors leave without interacting) and enhance customer experience, which can lead to increased sales.

Ensure your website loads quickly, has clear navigation menus, and a simple, intuitive checkout process.

Mobile Optimization

With over 70% of Filipinos accessing the internet through their smartphones, mobile optimization is crucial. A mobile-optimized site ensures that your website looks and functions well on mobile devices.

A non-optimized site can lead to a frustrating user experience and potential loss of sales. 

To optimize your website for mobile, make sure your site’s design is responsive (adapts to different screen sizes), load times are fast, and text and buttons are large enough to read and click on smaller screens.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

SEO involves optimizing your website and content to rank higher in search engine results, making it easier for potential customers to find your business. For example, if you sell handmade soaps, you’d want your website to appear on the first page when someone searches for “handmade soaps in the Philippines”.

Effective SEO involves keyword research (finding terms that people use when searching for products like yours), creating quality content around those keywords, and ensuring your website loads quickly and is easy to navigate. 

SEO is a long-term strategy and results can take time, but it’s a vital part of driving organic (unpaid) traffic to your site.

Product Presentation: High-Quality Images and Compelling Descriptions

Product presentation can make or break a sale. High-quality, clear images that showcase your product from multiple angles are crucial. According to research, 75% of online shoppers rely on product photos when deciding on a potential purchase.

Similarly, product descriptions should be compelling and informative. They should highlight the features and benefits of the product, answer potential customer questions, and be easy to read. A well-written description can help the customer visualize owning the product and lead to a purchase.

A well-optimized website can provide a great user experience, rank higher in search engine results, and showcase your products effectively, leading to increased visibility and sales. Each element plays a significant role, and together they form the foundation of your E-commerce business.

2. Social Media Marketing

In the Philippines, social media is integral to people’s digital lives, with an average user spending almost four hours per day on social platforms. Facebook is the most popular platform, with over 90% of internet users being on Facebook. YouTube, Instagram, and Twitter are also popular, with high levels of engagement and reach.

For an E-commerce business, these platforms provide an excellent opportunity to connect with a vast audience, build brand awareness, and drive sales.

Creating Engaging Content

The key to social media success is creating engaging content that resonates with your audience. This could be in the form of product photos, how-to videos, customer testimonials, or behind-the-scenes snapshots.

Remember, social media is not just about promoting products; it’s about building relationships. Ask for your audience’s opinions, respond to comments, and create content that sparks conversation. 

It’s also important to post consistently. Research suggests posting at least once a day on Facebook and Instagram for optimal engagement.

Utilizing Influencer Marketing

Influencer marketing involves partnering with influencers (individuals with a substantial and engaged following) to promote your products. In the Philippines, where 72% of consumers trust online reviews and recommendations, influencers can significantly boost your brand.

Start by identifying influencers who align with your brand and have followers that match your target audience. Then, you can collaborate on campaigns, giveaways, or product reviews.

Using Paid Advertisements

Paid advertising involves paying to promote your content on social media platforms. It’s a powerful way to reach a larger audience or target a specific demographic. Facebook and Instagram offer comprehensive advertising tools, allowing you to target ads based on location, age, interests, and more.

According to data, Facebook Ads have an average ROI of 152%, making it a worthwhile investment. However, to make the most of your budget, it’s crucial to monitor your ads’ performance and adjust your strategy as needed.

Social media marketing is a multifaceted strategy that, when executed well, can greatly enhance your brand’s visibility and sales. From crafting engaging content to leveraging influencer partnerships and paid ads, each aspect plays a critical role in your overall marketing success.

3. Email Marketing

Email marketing is a powerful tool that allows you to connect directly with your customers. By building a solid email list, crafting engaging content, segmenting and personalizing your emails, and utilizing automation, you can significantly boost your E-commerce business’s success.

Building an Email List

Building an email list is a critical first step in email marketing. A list of email addresses provides a direct line to your customers, bypassing the noise of social media. 

One effective way to build an email list is by offering visitors something valuable in exchange for their email, like a discount code or free ebook.

Importantly, always get permission to send emails to avoid violating regulations like the Philippines’ Data Privacy Act and ensure your emails are welcomed by recipients. As per studies, 77% of people prefer permission-based promotions via email.

Creating Engaging Email Content

Email content should be engaging, relevant, and provide value to the recipient. This could include promotional offers, new product announcements, educational content, or company news. Keep the tone friendly and personal, as if you’re speaking directly to the reader.

Emails with a clear, compelling subject line are more likely to be opened. In fact, 47% of email recipients decide whether to open an email based on the subject line alone. So, make sure your subject line grabs attention and encourages the reader to click.

Segmentation and Personalization

Segmentation involves dividing your email list into different categories based on criteria like purchase history, age, or location. Personalization is about tailoring your emails to match the interests and needs of each segment. Both techniques can significantly improve email engagement.

According to research, segmented emails result in 49% more click-throughs than unsegmented ones. Meanwhile, personalized emails deliver six times higher transaction rates.

Strategies for Email Marketing Automation

Email marketing automation involves using software to automatically send emails based on predefined triggers. For example, you could set up an email to be sent when a customer abandons their cart, reminding them of their unpurchased items.

Automation can save time, improve customer engagement, and increase sales. 

Some commonly automated emails include welcome emails for new subscribers, order confirmations, and personalized product recommendations. Each plays a role in guiding the customer along the purchasing journey and maintaining a relationship with them.

4. Search Engine Marketing (SEM)

Search Engine Marketing (SEM) is a crucial digital marketing strategy that promotes your E-commerce business by increasing its visibility in search engine results pages (SERPs). It’s a fast and effective way to drive traffic to your website, particularly when you want to see immediate results, unlike SEO, which is a longer-term strategy.

SEM can also help you reach your target audience at the right time and in the right place, as you can customize your ads based on factors like location, age, and search queries. 

Pay-Per-Click (PPC) Advertising

Pay-Per-Click (PPC) is a type of SEM where you pay a fee each time someone clicks on your ad. It’s a way of buying visits to your site, rather than earning them organically.

One of the most popular forms of PPC is Google Ads (formerly Google AdWords), where your ads appear on Google SERPs. To get started with PPC, you need to select relevant keywords, set a bid for how much you’re willing to pay per click, and write an engaging ad copy.

The advantage of PPC is that you only pay when an interested user clicks on your ad. Research shows that businesses make an average of $2 in revenue for every $1 they spend on Google Ads.

Google Shopping Ads

Google Shopping Ads are another excellent tool for e-commerce businesses. These are product-based ads that appear at the top of Google SERPs when users search for a product.

These ads include a product image, title, price, and store information, giving potential customers a strong sense of the product before they click the ad. 

To set up Google Shopping Ads, you’ll need to create a Google Merchant Center account, upload your product data, and create a campaign in Google Ads.

SEM, comprising PPC and Google Shopping Ads, is an effective strategy to increase your e-commerce business’s visibility and quickly drive traffic to your website. By investing in these paid strategies, you can reach more potential customers and boost your online sales.

5. Content Marketing

Content marketing is the process of creating and sharing relevant, valuable, and consistent content to attract and engage a clearly defined audience. For E-commerce, it’s a crucial strategy to build trust, establish your brand as an industry leader, and ultimately convert visitors into customers.

Content marketing also complements SEO efforts, as high-quality, relevant content can improve your site’s ranking on search engine results pages (SERPs). 

Blogging for Your E-commerce Business

Having a blog on your E-commerce website is an excellent way to share useful information, provide value to your customers, and improve your site’s SEO. 

You can write about topics relevant to your products, share company news, or offer how-to guides and tips.

Video Content and Vlogging

Video is a compelling content medium for E-commerce businesses. It allows potential customers to see your product in action, which can significantly boost conversion rates. 

You can create product demonstrations, how-to videos, or even customer testimonials.

Additionally, landing pages with videos can increase conversions by up to 80%.

Podcasting and Other Forms of Content Marketing

Podcasting is another effective content marketing strategy. By offering valuable information in an audio format, you can build a loyal audience and promote your E-commerce brand. 

Other content marketing strategies could include creating infographics, eBooks, webinars, or even launching an email newsletter. Each content type serves a unique purpose and helps you reach your audience in different ways.

Content marketing is a highly effective strategy for e-commerce businesses. By creating and sharing valuable content – whether it’s through a blog, video, podcast, or other medium – you can establish your brand’s authority, attract more potential customers, and boost your overall sales.

6. Leveraging Data and Analytics

E-commerce metrics are the measurable values that indicate the effectiveness of your business strategies. Some crucial metrics include conversion rate (the percentage of visitors who make a purchase), average order value (the average amount spent each time a customer places an order), and customer acquisition cost (how much it costs to acquire a new customer).

Understanding these metrics is vital as they provide insights into your E-commerce business’s performance and what strategies are working. For example, if your conversion rate is low, you may need to enhance your website’s user experience or adjust your marketing strategies.

Utilizing Google Analytics for E-commerce

Google Analytics is an indispensable tool for understanding your online store’s performance. It provides a wealth of data about your website’s traffic, including where your visitors are coming from, which pages they’re visiting, and how long they’re staying on your site.

With Google Analytics’ E-commerce tracking, you can monitor specific details about your customers’ purchasing behavior, like how often they purchase, what products they buy, and their average order value.

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Systems

CRM systems are software that help manage your company’s interactions with current and potential customers. They analyze customer data, like purchase history and contact information, helping you to improve business relationships, retain customers, and drive sales growth.

With CRM, you can segment your customers based on their behavior and preferences, helping you create personalized marketing strategies. 

Adjusting Strategies Based on Data

By analyzing your ecommerce data, you can make informed decisions about your marketing strategies. If a particular strategy isn’t performing well, data analytics can help identify the problem so you can adjust accordingly.

For instance, if your Google Analytics data shows that your social media traffic has a low conversion rate, you may need to review and improve your social media marketing strategy.

Leveraging data and analytics is crucial for the success of your E-commerce business. By understanding your key metrics, utilizing tools like Google Analytics and CRM systems, and adjusting your strategies based on data, you can optimize your marketing efforts, enhance customer relationships, and increase sales.

7. Local Partnerships and Offline Marketing Strategies

While E-commerce marketing is crucial for your online businesses, don’t neglect the power of local partnerships and offline marketing strategies. These methods can complement your online efforts, build stronger community ties, and help you reach a wider audience.

Collaborations with Local Brands

Collaborating with local brands can be an effective strategy to expand your reach. This could include co-branding initiatives, joint promotions, or even offering your products in physical stores of partnering brands. It’s a win-win, as both businesses can leverage each other’s customer bases.

For example, if you sell eco-friendly household products, partnering with a local organic food store can provide exposure to a customer base that is already interested in sustainable living.

Sponsoring Local Events

Sponsoring local events is a traditional but still effective marketing method. This can increase brand awareness and show support for your local community. These events can range from music festivals, sports tournaments, to charity runs.

Remember, the key is to sponsor events that align with your brand and target audience. For instance, if you sell athletic gear, sponsoring a local marathon could be a smart move.

Participating in Trade Fairs and Exhibitions

Trade fairs and exhibitions offer an opportunity to showcase your products in person, engage with potential customers, and network with other businesses. 

Though your primary platform might be online, the real-world interaction you get from these events can build stronger relationships and provide valuable customer feedback.

Incorporating Traditional Media Strategies

Even in the digital age, traditional media strategies, like TV ads, radio spots, and print media, can be useful, especially if your target demographic is broad. Traditional media often has extensive reach and can be particularly effective in areas with less internet penetration.

For instance, you might consider running a catchy radio ad or publishing an attractive print ad in a popular magazine. The key is to ensure the medium aligns with your target customer’s habits.

Final Thoughts on E-commerce Marketing

Remember, successful marketing is about understanding your audience, offering value, and continuously learning and adapting.

Marketing can seem daunting, especially with the plethora of strategies and tools available. But you don’t have to do everything at once. Start with one or two strategies, test, learn, and iterate. What’s crucial is to take the first step.

The Philippines’ E-commerce market is ripe with opportunities. But keep in mind that success doesn’t happen overnight, but with persistence, creativity, and a customer-centric approach, you’ll be on the right path.

By leveraging these marketing strategies, you can reach more customers, build a strong brand, and ultimately, grow your business. Don’t wait; start implementing these strategies today and see your E-commerce business thrive!

Need help with E-commerce marketing, as well as with other aspects of online business?  Sign up with Payo today or send us a message at info@payo.asia. Let’s collaborate and find the best path for your business!