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How to Build an Effective E-Commerce Marketing Strategy in 2022

Mokshit Naidu

Akshay Gera

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In recent times, e-commerce has taken off, the entire sector’s worth increasing exponentially over the past few years. With well-established brands such as Amazon, Flipkart, and Alibaba already in the market, it may seem next to impossible to grow as a new e-commerce startup amidst this competition. Still, with well-thought-out marketing strategies, it is possible to thrive even in such a market.

The world is becoming more connected and informed. Companies are rushing to keep up with the times and embrace new technologies to increase their sales. Rising competition in the marketing field is making marketers innovate, both in the medium and the content of advertisements. This is supported by the emergence of new technologies in the computer science field like IoT, artificial intelligence, machine learning, and so on.

Let’s tackle the very first question of all:

What is Digital Marketing?

Simply put, digital advertising is advertising on a digital screen. Most commonly, virtual advertising refers to advertising campaigns that seem on computers, phones, tablets, and different such devices. It can take many forms, such as show ads, online videos, search engine advertising (this refers to the paid ads that show up near the top when you search for anything on a browser, not SEO), social media ads, and social media posts made by company accounts. Television is included in traditional marketing despite being screen-based because it is not internet-based.

Nowadays, it is the story that creates a strong following. Consumers want to know what they are getting into and want this information to be accessible to them at any time. This is why traditional marketing would no longer work as much since they appear on a schedule or specific time frame. The traditional media still works as a nudge, targeting people who least expect it along the street and the likes. However, what makes them explore things is social media and digital marketing.

Digital marketing is necessary for any startup to grow. A well-managed campaign can quickly boost a business to great heights due to the vast reach of social media. When a post is out on the internet, physical distance doesn’t matter; their mobile devices can easily reach the entire targeted product group. Thus, every detail of the advertisement must be planned, be it the medium or the actual ad itself.

The first step to having a successful digital marketing campaign is to know your target market. Not every product is for everyone, so the key is to advertise mainly to the groups that will be most likely to buy it. There is no point in advertising gym equipment to toddlers, nor is there any merit in advertising teethers to elders.

To find your target market, you should answer a few critical questions about your business:

 

  •     What problem am I solving?
  •     Who is most likely to face the issue I am providing a solution to?
  •     Are there any other groups that also meet the same problem?
  •     Who are my competitors? What is their target market?

After answering these questions, you have to test. Go outside, offer free samples, and take polls online. See who the product sells to, and collect the data. Google Analytics comes in handy here: it provides detailed data on visits to your website, making this step a whole lot easier.

Do not forget to read existing market research. Trade magazines are a helpful way to bring yourself up to speed with the market going on. As they say, work smarter, not harder. If someone has already done the hard work, it makes no sense to use it. Go ahead and read up all you can; leave no stone unturned.

Now that you have identified your target market, the next step is to find out how best to advertise to them. Again, you have to do a lot of research: find out where the average member of your target group spends their time online. What social media is frequented the most? What sort of advertisements is the most susceptible to? How many times do they click on any of their targeted advertisements? All this information is crucial for when you want to build your brand.

You can also start by building customer personas. Build up a few imaginary people who are part of your target market and make their profile. Find out what they are interested in and how best to reach them. Study the profiles in-depth and brainstorm the best way to advertise to them.

e-commerce marketing strategy
Given above are a few personas for a brand that wants its image to be hip, young, and fun.

Now that we have tackled the first question of what digital marketing even is, let’s move on to different strategies you can use to create the most optimal digital marketing tactic for your brand.

Social Media

Social media is enormous: 4.55 billion people use one social media platform, and 400 million new users have joined in the last 12 months alone. All these people are just a click and message away from everyone else, physical distance meaning naught in the virtual world of the internet. Using this robust online ecosystem for business is thus a necessity for any business if they want to flourish and grow.

The very first thing you should do is competitor analysis. Find all the companies involved in the same or similar sphere as you are and find out all you can talk about them. Find out their website visits, their conversion and retention rates, and the traction they get on their social media channels. For example, here is an analysis done for a furniture company:

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Analysis for several furniture companies.

Social media is enormous: 4.55 billion people use one social media platform, and 400 million new users have joined in the last 12 months alone. All these people are just a click and message away from everyone else, physical distance meaning naught in the virtual world of the internet. Using this robust online ecosystem for business is thus a necessity for any business if they want to flourish and grow.

The very first thing you should do is competitor analysis. Find all the companies involved in the same or similar sphere as you are and find out all you can talk about them. Find out their website visits, their conversion and retention rates, and the traction they get on their social media channels. For example, here is an analysis done for a furniture company:

 

The above table gives an in-depth analysis of the competitors’ strengths and weaknesses and allows one to find their niche and advertising strategy more effectively.

Find your marketing and sales objectives and make a timeline with approximate timings for achieving your goals. Set concrete goals, so you know when they are completed. Some examples are, ‘Generate signups in the pre-launch phase.’ and ‘Generate engagement by highlighting the multifunctionality of the decor. ‘Both are clear goals with steps you can take to achieve them.

Make a ‘conversion funnel.’ This is a series of steps that need to be taken to convert a random online person into a paying customer. This is where the information from earlier about competitors and target audiences comes in handy. Here is a sample conversion funnel:

Step 1 (Trending Content): Creating content that’s proven to entertain the consumer. Our target audience from 21-24 is still young adults, so meme and moment marketing that resonates with trends give us an edge.

Step 2 (Engagement): In any industry, there is a thin line between desire and interest. Interest will be created by focusing on trending topics and multiple aspects, but passion will be created via showing our unique selling proposition (USP)/ what they are missing out on.

Step 3 (Content Calendar): Managing engagement is tricky but creating a content calendar is essential to be consistent with quality content. It’s important to plan content prior to big events for improved engagement in line with the latest trends.

Step 4 (Action): CTA (Call-To-Action) should be present in most of the content posted from our end. Links in posts: A link to the website and product page showcased in the center is essential. Facebook and Instagram store: All products should be listed on the social media store linked with the accounts.

These four steps outline the strategy the business needs to take to achieve its goal of gaining more paying customers. The cost of implementing the conversion funnel divided by the total number of conversions is known as the conversion cost of a consumer. In any marketing scenario, the goal is to reduce the conversion cost while increasing the conversion rate, which is the total number of users the conversion funnel worked upon.

A conversion rate between 2 and 5 percent is suitable for a company, with an average of 3 percent being the standard. Generally speaking, the bigger the brand, the better the conversion rate because as the brand grows, the reputation does too. A new startup has to build up trust in a consumer from scratch, whereas an established behemoth can call upon past experiences of the consumer and their immediate friends and family as a trust point.

Having a higher conversion rate signals a sound conversion tunnel, as it makes more of the people passing through it into customers. In the online world, this is tricky because clients are just one swipe away from leaving your website. If your conversion rate is lower than 2 percent, try optimizing it so that the rate rises to at least that threshold.

The next step is to make a timeline. A brand timeline is a schedule with milestones, goals, and other vital events in the company’s life, all arranged according to time. Make a list of all the plans and when the approximate time of achieving them will be. Also, make a pre- and post-launch comparison for your website/social media page/physical store.

For pre-launch, social growth should be measured by two main parameters: Awareness and Engagement. Because there are no sales in the pre-launch time, the conversion tunnel does not come into play. The main goals of an advertising campaign should be to increase awareness of the brand so that people know such a product/service even exists and to increase engagements with the brand, to increase the number of people interested in the product/service. Awareness is generally easier to grow than engagement, simply because it is far easier to inform people about a product than it is to get them interested in it.

Take, for example, the CRED ads that ran recently. They were an excellent example of advertising that increased both awareness and engagement. Anyone who watched their masterfully-directed ads not only knew that there was a service known as CRED, but they also immediately were interested in the brand itself.

Another example is the Maggi ads that ran decades back, primarily responsible for Maggi being India’s #1 instant noodle despite recent controversy. Their ability to stick in a viewer’s psyche long after the advertisement was over catapulted them into the cultural phenomenon they are now. Maggi is synonymous with care and warmth in the Indian subconscious. Every street corner shop sells Maggi now, in Lakshadweep or far up in the Himalayan mountains.

Post-launch, the metric one should use to measure social growth is conversions. How many profile visits does a paid Instagram advertisement induce? How many likes does each post get, and what percentage of followers like each post? How many items added to a customer’s cart are bought by them? These factors are all essential, and each should be monitored to ensure that the brand is not falling behind in any sector. On social media, reposts, mentions, and comments are all extremely important, and monitoring their quantity is crucial for the success of a brand. This is another place where a company can show personal attention to consumers: by replying to a few dozen comments on each post, the brand promotes its reach without any expense on its behalf. Responding to individuals gives the personal touch to the impersonal entity that is a corporation: after all, feelings are felt far more quickly towards a human than an organization. Giving that human feeling to a company is what makes it able to grow to great heights.

Another important aspect of planning is a ‘Now vs. Ideal’ table. Here is an example:

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"Now vs. Ideal" tables are useful in planning.

Here you can see how, on the left, the current state of the social media profiles are given, while on the right, the ideal states are planned out. This is another place where one can use the customer profiles made earlier. Since each platform has its userbase that has a different lean than the rest, one can plan out the marketing strategies accordingly to maximize the results from advertising.

In the pre-launch phase, focus on creating anticipation in the mind of the consumer using products and creating a unique identity using the brand’s USP/mindset. Using trending content to build a following on social media before the launch of the product/service is essential. As a company cannot display all of their products before launch, they need to hint to the consumer and create excitement for the launch.

 

After launch, focus on your product/service and work to engage a bigger audience by leveraging the audience you already have. As will be outlined, methods like Affiliate marketing can be used to successfully make pre-existing customers into recruiters who gather new people and make them loyal followers of the brand. Focus on improving your conversion rates and keeping longtime consumers happy.

 

The next step is to create a master marketing strategy outlining the essential details of your brand’s advertising strategy. For this, you will need a detailed analysis of your company, with competitor studies and market research, and a clear goal in mind for your campaign. You will need to know the basic marketing methods on social media.

 

There are many different methods to market on social media. Let’s start with an emerging and exciting sector: Influencer Marketing.

Influencers are a new and upcoming variety of celebrities quickly taking the world by storm. There are no prerequisites to becoming an influencer: no need to have industry connections or large wads of cash; all one needs is an internet connection, a mobile device, and content that people enjoy. Influencers differ from traditional celebrities as they are entirely self-made: they kept posting and posting in relative obscurity until, by some stroke of luck, a video or post became viral and thrust them into the limelight. They are thus far more connected to their audiences. They already have their pre-established niche that can be counted on to enjoy their content. This makes influencer advertising very lucrative for any business.

The main advantage of influencer marketing is that, when done correctly, brands will have direct access to the audiences that influencers are already involved in, streamlining the audience-building process. To implement influencers in e-commerce marketing, look for influencers that match your target market and engagement rate. If you find potential influencers, contact them for collaboration. You can close a deal by sending the product in exchange for a post or mention on social media. Alternatively, you can help launch the product. The possibilities are endless.

Let’s take an example: here is the profile of @candicecooksatl on Instagram.

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Candice Cooks atlanta's (@candicecooksatl) Instagram profile.

With just videos of a person serving food on a plate shot at a forty-five-degree angle from above a table, this account has managed to grow to 219k followers. An individual or firm would have to spend thousands of dollars on PR, production, and marketing to reach such an audience through a traditional method like television or a magazine. At the same time, the power of social media gets it done with a single camera and two people in a home kitchen. What’s more, is that social media automatically filters the people who view the content to ensure that only those who would be interested in such accounts would get them in their feed. This makes it prime material for targeted advertisement without any effort attached: the influencer already has the exact niche audience the brand wants to advertise to and has a deep connection with the sphere too.

Influencer marketing is an emerging and exciting style of advertisement that blurs the line between content and ads. Usually, advertisements annoy consumers, and people defocus and stop paying attention when an ad comes on. With influencer marketing, this is no longer the case: the content created by the influencer is still very much in demand, and people do not register it as a promotion in their brains, leading to a far more significant impact than traditional means of advertisement. This is one of the reasons. Influencer marketing grew to $13.8 billion in 2021. Google alone has seen a 4.5x increase in search queries for the term’ influencer marketing’ since 2016. Any brand not utilizing the potential of influencer marketing severely limits its ability to grow as a company.

Coming to paid social media advertisements, there are several categories to choose from:

Instagram and Facebook: Instagram and Facebook can be confusing, especially concerning advertising. Every day some new guideline comes out on the best time to post, the best length for a reel, the optimal number of hashtags to use, and so on. Another lucrative feature in Instagram is the paid ads targeting consumers based on their activity.

As of 2015, any business page can create ads via Facebook’s self-service advertising function. This cross-platform functionality is beneficial because it takes care of two platforms simultaneously. This gives you complete control over your ads, their display, and who gets to see them. Also, unlike sponsored posts and paid partnerships, ads are shown to be directly from your account, making your page just one click away from the ad itself. The advantages of this method of Instagram advertising are:

  •   Flexible price: You can choose your price cap and adjust the setting accordingly to fit within your budget.
  •   Easy-to-use self-service advertising function: The advertising function is simple and does not require much in-depth knowledge.
  •   Robust reporting to maintain control: The advertisement bar gives exhaustive reports on your ads’ viewership and related statistics.
  •   Advanced audience targeting: One can easily target their desired audience with a built-in function in the ad program.
  •   Easy Facebook-Instagram cross-platform reach: A single ad program for both platforms makes advertising much more accessible.

There are two ways to make an Instagram/Facebook ad. ‘Promote’ allows you to turn any of your posts into an ad. It is like Facebook’s ‘Boost’ button. You can also use the Facebook Ad Manager for making advertisements. You can select your goal, whether it be to generate more profile visits, more website visits, or more messages. Depending on the goal, Instagram will place a link directly in the ad that a viewer can click to learn more about your company and product/service. After that, you can choose whether you wish to let Instagram auto-target the viewers of the ads based on your follower list or whether you want to manually select the target audience of the advertisement. Finally, one determines the daily budget and duration they want the ad to run. The budget can go as low as just 80 rupees per day to 40,000 rupees daily. Likewise, the duration can be anywhere from a day to a month, leading to a total range of merely 80 rupees to a massive 12 lakhs. Instagram also shows the estimated reach gained by each plan, with lower budgets generating proportionally lower space. Interestingly, the reach to rupee ratio does not change much no matter how much you spend, going from 1.225 at the lowest end of the spectrum to 1.25 at the top.

Instagram and Facebook ads come in several forms. Here are the main categories:

  1. Photo ads: Photo ads are exactly what they sound like. Plain photos or illustrations that can be used to display anything related to your business, with a link embedded to facilitate ease of navigation for the viewer.
  2. Video ads: Instagram videos can be up to a minute long and are either square or landscape. Recently, new Reel advertisements are portrait in nature and take up the entire phone screen display.  
  3. Carousel advertising: Carousels are a collection of photos and videos that can each have a different link embedded in them. This can be used to showcase a section of your online store right there in a user’s feed.
  4. Group display: Collection ads are similar to video ads because they appear as videos in one’s feed. However, these displays consist of a series of images played like a video in a slideshow fashion. You can add audio and text to your slideshow ads.
  5. Story ads: Story ads are ads that show up while a social media user browses through stories. They can either be just a post adapted to become a story or true stories made with that format in mind.
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Analysis of Ad Spending Prior to Launch. Everyone's goal is to get people to sign up for their email list.
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Ad Spending Analysis after the launch. All of us want to make a purchase at some point in our lives.

Twitter: Twitter is a noisy platform. Each second there are thousands of tweets being written, and with its reputation as a fast-scroll network, one’s brand voice might seem to get drowned out. This is where Twitter ads come in. Twitter ads are designed specifically for their fast, quick-to-come-quick-to-go style, helping a company’s brand shine through the avalanche of the content generated every second.

The main form of Twitter ads is Promoted Tweets. Promoted tweets look just like regular tweets. The differences between them are that a promoted tweet is shown to all the followers of a particular account and to non-followers who match the brand’s profile. You can like, retweet and comment on a promoted tweet like you do on a regular tweet. Promoted tweets are marked as such on a corner of the tweet itself. They can also include videos up to 60 seconds long that autoplay when a user comes across one on their feed.

Another popular form of advertisement is Promoted Accounts. This type of Twitter ad promotes the entire account vs. just a single tweet. This is intended for members of the brand’s target market that are not yet following the brand on its socials. Sponsored accounts appear on the Twitter algorithm’s timeline of potential followers. Promoted accounts appear in the ‘Following Suggestions’ list of the user. They are also labeled as ‘Promoted’ and have a follow button right next to them for ease of the user.

Promoted Trends are another subtler form of advertisement. Twitter Trends is a list of the latest new fads going across social media at that moment. It is a collection of the most popular hashtags and events. Users interact with Promoted Trends in the same manner as they interact with any other trend topic that catches their eye. The only difference is that the spot occupied by the promoted brand is labeled as such in the user’s feed. Promoted Trends appear near the top in the Trends section on both the Exploration and Timeline tabs. When a user goes to the page of a sponsored trend, the brand’s sponsored tweets are shown near the top of the search results.

Twitter has a few other ad types beyond these three that are useful in their situations. Be sure to explore all the options when planning your campaign.

YouTube: YouTube has a user base of 2.3 billion, making it one of the largest social media sites and the biggest purely video-sharing site on the World Wide Web. Despite pessimistic analyses all over the internet about the platform’s future, the fact remains that it is growing at an impressive rate despite being 16 years old, an eternity in Internet time. As videos become more important in digital marketing, a brand’s presence on YouTube becomes essential in determining whether it will succeed.

There are three main categories of advertisements on YouTube: skippable ads, unskippable ads, and bumper ads.

Skippable video ads can be skipped after viewers view their first 5 seconds. They can appear during, before, or after the video the user wants to watch. They also have no upper bound on their length, with a few ads having a runtime measured in hours. Skippable ads present a challenge because they need an advertiser to generate interest in the viewer immediately; otherwise, they will be skipped by the five-second mark. Skippable ads test a marketer’s ingenuity and ability to craft a clever advertisement that not only attracts the viewer’s attention but also counteracts the irritation a user feels when their preferred content is interrupted by an ad. Skippable video ads take trial and error to get right. YouTube metrics help a lot in this regard: if too high a percentage of viewers skip your ad, it is time to go back to the drawing board and start again. The advantage of skippable video ads is that one gets real-time feedback on what interests a consumer and also manages to generate engagement and awareness at once: the act of not skipping the ad means that the user considers it interesting enough to postpone watching their original chosen content, which qualifies as engagement.

Unskippable video ads are ads that cannot be skipped and are thus, at max, 15-20 seconds long. They, too, can appear at the start, middle, or end of a video. These are much better suited as a ‘refresher,’ like the recent spate of 6-second Zomato ads. They are just long enough for a viewer to register the brand, serving as a reminder that the company exists. It is a great way to remain on top of the consumer’s psyche.

Bumper advertising can’t be skipped either but are precisely 6 seconds long. Bumper ads are available on mobile devices and desktop computers. Bumper ads are another great way to remind customers about your brand and keep it in their subconscious. They can also be used to recycle clips of a longer ad, calling forth the memories of it without the expense.

Pinterest: Pinterest is a mix between a social media website and a search engine. This gives it a unique look and feels not present on other sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Pinterest advertising is also nuanced in different ways. A step-by-step approach to Pinterest ads could go like this:

Step 1: Create a Pinterest Business Account: Only business accounts can make ads, so it is essential that the first step be to create one.

Step 2: Manage Pinterest boards: A Pinterest board is a collection where users save specific pins. Usually, each panel has its independent theme or purpose. For instance, you may have a social media marketing or graphic design board. Gear your boards such that they appeal to your target audience.

Step 3: Create Pins: Pretty self-explanatory; you need pins so that users are attracted to your content. Because of the nature of Pinterest, it is essential that your pins be carefully planned and adjusted to match the image and voice of your brand.

Step 4: Use Tools and Services to Automate: ‘Tailwind’ is a popular scheduling tool for Pinterest. It equips you with analytics, a reporting system and advises you about the ideal times to schedule your pins. ‘Pingroupie’ gives you the number of pins, collaborators, and followers for each group board to help you decide if the board is worth joining.

Step 5: Grow your Email List: Begin with an email opt-in that provides value to your ideal audience, and add relevant keywords. Add a link to your opt-in to your Pinterest profile. Share your opt-in on applicable Pinterest boards. Use text overlay in pin designs to highlight your opt-in link.

These five steps and the built-in Pinterest ads manager make the process much more streamlined for any individual/business wanting to advertise on Pinterest.

Tiktok: Tiktok is a relatively new social media company, but its signature style of short videos with overlaid sound has taken the world by storm. According to a 2020 Digital report, Tiktok sees traffic of 800 million monthly users – and this is in 2019. In 2021, it was revealed that almost 100 million Americans visit Tik Tok monthly; and 50% percent of them visit the app daily. Its US Brand awareness has also soared to 89%. In relation to Sitsock, Tiktok users in the United States are 18 to 29 years old. Now, to the exciting part: what are users looking for when they go to the app? According to the Hootsuite Digital 2021 report, users go there for funny and entertaining content. 2nd is posting and sharing content. News in place as the 3rd reason, which is obvious since the majority of the people in this age prefer Facebook for the news. Further data reveal that Tiktok ranks the highest in terms of consumer spending.

The Tiktok ad strategy can be summarized in the following steps:

1) Create a Tik Tok business account: Required to display ads.

2) Choose an ad type: There are several types of ads: in-feed ads, takeover ads, top view ads, branded hashtag ads, and brand effect ads. Choose the ones most appropriate for your business.

3) Create an ad campaign: Creating or setting up a campaign on Tiktok is a major step. You need to be specific about three things: campaign objective, name, and budget.

4) Specify target audience: Using TikTok ads targeting, you can target your audience using their demographic and device options to help you narrow them down. This includes age, gender, interest, operating system, location, language, behavior, device price, and mobile carrier.

5) Create Tik Tok ads: Create ads that will cater directly to your target audience.

6) Monitor and Improve: TikTok provides native analytics that can show you how your ad is doing in terms of impressions, clicks, conversions, and more. You can even test and compare the performance of different ad creative and placements to see what works best for you.

SEO Marketing

Now that you have collected email IDs from your signup sheets and calls to action, what do you do with them? The answer is simple: set up a mailing list that sends promotional emails to recipients.

Email marketing is the bread and butter of the digital marketing world: despite the rise of social media, emails are still one of the most popular means of communication, with over 1.8 billion Gmail accounts made and counting. Because everyone has to open their email at some point or the other, email marketing is a staple method to keep the brand fresh in the psyche of the customer. Emails about promotions, sales, and new products are all excellent ways to keep reminding the customer about your brand.

Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing is a method by which third-party entities can be made to recruit new ones in exchange for a reward or payout. These third parties can be existing customers, independent marketers, social media influencers, or even just normal everyday people.

Affiliate marketing is a hidden but giant industry. Statista predicts that the affiliate marketing industry will grow from $5.4 billion in 2017 to $8.2 billion by 2022. It is easy to see why: affiliate marketing is a lucrative proposition for both the firm and the affiliate partner; after all, the firm gets its marketing needs met while the affiliate partner earns extra income for generating clicks and signups on a website.

One can combine affiliate and influencer marketing and achieve some spectacular results for the firm. As an influencer already has a well-established base for the product, marketing will be easier for them, and the payout per sale keeps them motivated. It is a win-win all around.

Paytm and such sites use affiliate marketing to expand their userbase neatly: each new user recruited with a unique personal code gets a certain amount of money on the new user’s first transaction. The latest user also receives this bonus. This is a powerful incentive for any existing user to get their friends and family to become customers of Paytm.

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A sample affiliate marketing approach is outlined above.

Above is a sample strategy for affiliate marketing. Here is a sheet that one can use to plan out their marketing budget and also factor in returns. And here is a template sheet to manage finances.

Conclusion

Digital marketing has come a long way since its advent. With more choices for advertising than ever before, it is more crucial than ever that an aspiring startup or even a well-established brand keeps up with the times and forges forward in this online space with a well-thought-out strategy. The Internet is the basis of e-commerce, so any business in this sector must constantly watch their online presence if they wish to keep and grow their market share. 

Wait no more and grow your e-commerce business with one of the best agencies in town! Let’s connect.

Mokshit Naidu

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