E-Commerce Marketing: How to Grab Attention

5 min readOct 10, 2022
Laptop screen with e-commerce marketing icons shining out of the screen in a beam of light.

Ever ignore a check engine light only to have black smoke suddenly start pouring out from under the hood of your car? Even if this hasn’t happened to you personally, it’s fair to say such an event would grab your attention. Most E-commerce marketing campaigns are like those little lights on your dashboard: while they technically do the job, it usually takes so much more before you pay attention.

In marketing it’s easy to lose sight of what really matters: getting customers to pay attention to campaigns and buy products. But what if you could trigger the same response as those black plumes of smoke every time you sent out an email or launched a new ad?

In this blog post, we’ll review some fundamental rules to help you and your products get noticed. By the end, you’ll be better equipped to craft attention-grabbing e-commerce marketing and grow your brand.

Rule #1: Be Compelling

The first rule for grabbing attention online (or anywhere, for that matter) is simple: be compelling. In the example above, the black smoke was a much more compelling reason to pull the car over than a single pesky light. To be compelling is to provoke interest or attention in a powerful, irresistible way. This is especially true for the highly competitive Amazon marketplace, where your product is often featured next to nearly identical competitors.

To make your product listing or brand compelling, it must be immediately interesting to your customer and resonate with what matters to them. This starts, of course, with knowing who your customer is and what their pain points are. Where most brands get this first rule wrong is they forget to loudly point out these pain points in their ads and campaigns.

The reason your products matter to the customer is because they fulfill a need, evoke a desire, or solve a problem. To be compelling, your e-commerce marketing strategy must directly show how your product is a needed, desirable solution to a real or perceived problem.

Rule #2: Get Emotional

While most e-commerce strategies come from the rational world of data analytics, e-commerce marketing needs to take a different approach. The field of behavioral economics studies the interplay of various rational and emotional processes involved in decision making. According to studies conducted by Gallup, up to 70% of purchasing decisions and brand preferences are based on emotional factors, not rational ones. This is why customers will readily spend more on certain products or certain brands: the emotional connection they feel overrides logic.

A famous example of this is L’Oreal’s “Because I’m Worth It” campaign launched in 1971 to compete with lower priced competitors. Rather than justify the higher cost by explaining the purity of the ingredients or the superiority of the end result, this simple slogan appeals to the emotions of the consumer, tapping into feelings of empowerment and self-confidence. The campaign was so effective, it has persisted to this day, with only a slight pronoun modification to become the inclusivity-driven modern tagline of “Because We’re Worth It.”

Appealing to the customer’s emotions relies on the foolproof storytelling principle of “show, don’t tell.” As we demonstrate in the blog post, Using Behavioral Economics to Craft Great Marketing, instead of writing, “your child will love their new bike,” you can create an emotional picture with your copy by describing how the customer buying the bike can, “Watch your little one laugh, eyes wide, as they race down the road whooping with joy.”

Rule #3: Think Better, Not Best

Remember the old joke about two guys who encounter a bear in the woods? As one guy drops down to lace up his shoes, the other points out that neither of them can outrun the bear, to which the first responds, “I don’t have to outrun him, I just have to outrun you.”

Everyone claims to be the best. The problem with this claim is twofold: first, it’s hard to prove you truly are “the best,” and second, there’s always something new and better lurking just around the corner.

Instead of trying to be the best, focus on what makes your product (or brand) better than your competitors. You don’t have to be the best in your category, you just have to be better than the other choices available.

The real key to differentiating from the competition is to determine what it is your brand and products do different/better than your competitors, then promote the heck out of it. Whether it’s more options or colors to choose from, a company commitment to sustainability and eco-friendly materials, or just a unique perspective on a humdrum product, let your customers know what makes you better.

Rule #4: Be Clear and Direct

This is by far one of the hardest rules to follow for us creative marketing types. We usually want to show off and get wordy, but the best way to hook customers and reel them in is with a clear message that is easy to understand and explains exactly what you offer.

The word offer is important here. Most e-commerce marketing is about getting customers to take action, whether it is clicking on a listing, signing up for an offer, or buying a product. This is why you must resist the urge to use vague or clever language that doesn’t clearly communicate how your customer can take the next desired action. At the same time, the action you are requesting must be appropriate for the level of trust you’ve built with the customer and where they are at in their journey. Asking a customer in the Awareness stage to “buy now” might be a turn off, just as a lengthy “about us” page might be frustrating for customers just trying to make a purchase.

Think of it like asking someone on a date: you wouldn’t want to come on too strong too early, but you also don’t want avoid showing any interest at all and just make boring small talk until another brand swoops in. Let customers know who you are, what your value proposition is, and the next step they can take if they would like to know more or are ready to buy.

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