How to Make Shipping Part of Your Ecommerce Marketing Strategy

A company’s ecommerce website should emphasize the factors that make prospective customers want to buy. In general, both convenience and cost savings tend to resonate with consumers, especially those who shop online.

Just as you’d write about the features and benefits that appeal to your target audience in your product descriptions, you should also promote any shipping offers that cater to people who want the fastest and/or cheapest deliveries.

This becomes even more important for the holiday shopping season.

“It’s paramount for people to feel confident that they will receive their products in the shortest amount of time possible. We’d hate to see our customers go somewhere else because we don’t offer 2-day shipping, so during our third holiday season with ShipBob, we used their 2-Day Express shipping.”

Francesca Cavallo, Co-Author of Rebel Girls

Promoting your store’s shipping options helps with the following:

  • To make website visitors aware that they can save money
  • To give shoppers confidence that there won’t be any surprises at checkout
  • To turn more browsers into buyers and/or increase the amount of money customers spend

The most popular shipping-related promotion is to offer free shipping, which can be a huge differentiator over your competitors.

In fact, 60% of ecommerce companies cite “free shipping with conditions” as their most successful marketing tool, finding that many customers would rather get free shipping (e.g., a $6.99 value) over a discount that saves them $10 on their purchase.

But if your customers don’t associate your store with free shipping or know you’re offering it, it’s possible only a select few will accidentally qualify for it. The more people that realize you offer free shipping, the more you can get to the checkout process.

“We understand that whatever Amazon does, we also need to do or we are going to lose business. The cost of offering free 2-day shipping through ShipBob is more than covered and offset by all of the additional orders and revenue we’ve gotten as a result.”

Founder of My Calm Blanket

[Download: ShipBob’s 2-Day Express Shipping: How to Drive Revenue Through Ecommerce Fulfillment]

How to promote free shipping for your online store

Check out some of the easiest ways to tweak your marketing efforts for quick wins, including capturing more sales, for your ecommerce website’s free shipping promotion.

1. Build a customer email list and send free shipping offers

If you have your own ecommerce website, rather than just selling on a third-party marketplace, you can build an email marketing list and communicate directly with your customers.

To grow a list of shopper email addresses, try offering different promotions directly to their inbox in exchange for their email address. As many as 85% of people who have subscribed to an email list did so to receive a discount.

Another study found that 57% of shoppers would not have made a first-time purchase from a new retailer without a coupon, and 91% of coupon redeemers say they will revisit an ecommerce website after being offered a coupon.

Additionally, if you send abandoned cart emails, you can mention any special shipping offers to help convince visitors to place an order.

2. Add a banner on your ecommerce website to promote free shipping

Having a banner at the top of every page on your ecommerce website is a great way to display your free shipping offering. This helps call attention to all visitors — not just existing customers — so they are aware of it well in advance of getting to the checkout page.

The message on the banner should be as clear as possible without needing visitors to click the banner to get the full story. Be clear about any restrictions, thresholds, or other requirements. A small asterisk might not be enough (or even be seen).

For example, if your free shipping offer only applies to people in the continental US or only those who spend a minimum amount of money, make sure that is referenced in the banner to avoid disappointment or abandoned carts.

“We promote the fact that we offer free shipping for all orders on a site-wide banner. This encourages shoppers to add to their cart and get to the checkout process in the first place. On top of that, we can offer 2-day shipping and capture additional sales from people who value a speedy delivery.”

Founder of My Calm Blanket

3. Blast your shipping promotion out to social media followers

There are many benefits of building a social media presence for your online store, one of the most important being that you get to make announcements to people who want to hear from you.

Sharing free shipping promotions is a great opportunity to provide something of value to your audience. Your followers may even choose to share the deal with their friends.

4. Run paid advertisements to promote your free shipping

Running ad campaigns across different channels can be an important first step to drive traffic to your website, especially when you start an online store.

Google AdWords is a common way to target people searching for keywords related to your product(s). In your ad copy, you can include any messaging related to your free shipping, as well as in your corresponding landing pages.

In addition, Facebook ads are another method to help e-commerce brands grow fast by targeting people that are similar to your customers.

[Download: E-Commerce Guide to Getting (and Keeping) Customers]

5. Test your shipping marketing campaign and measure results

There are a variety of tactics and channels you can use to get the word out about your free shipping offering.

When you’re getting started, it may be easiest to start small, but when you’re running a campaign or major promotion, it’s best to do so in a coordinated manner that is consistent in all places — email, website, social media, and ads included.

This helps maximize your impact and allows you to keep testing to see what is resonating the most.

Additionally, if someone didn’t open an email, notice the banner on your website, follow you on social media, etc., you can try to get it in front of them elsewhere.

Of course, you should track all efforts and measure results to see what helped contribute toward your outcome. Consider the following when you report on the performance of the promotion:

  • Did you get new customers from the free shipping promotion or mainly repeat customers?
  • Did it ultimately result in a greater total order volume?
  • Did customers spend more money per order on average?
  • Did the free shipping promotion ultimately lead to more returns?

“By encouraging customers to meet a spend threshold for free 2-day shipping, we’ve seen great results without harming our margins. Offering this shipping option to customers who live within ShipBob’s 2-Day Express coverage zone has increased our average order value in these zones from $75 to $148.”

Ryan Casas, COO of iloveplum

Using this information about your the orders placed during the offer, you can gauge success and improve future promotions (and even validate your overall shipping strategy or policy).

Conclusion

Offering free shipping is a great incentive to get more customers to place an order on your store while eliminating a typical barrier to completing the checkout process. In order for this strategy to be effective, your target audience needs to know that you offer it in the first place.

A 3PL can help you deliver on that experience.

“We are pleased to have a strong fulfillment partner during Q4 and throughout the entire year, and hope to 3x our holiday shipments this year. We are lucky to have ShipBob by our side.”

Steve Staffan, founder and CEO of Brummell

Learn more about meeting customer expectations around delivery speed while reducing shipping costs by downloading The Guide to Offering Affordable 2-Day Shipping.

Download the E-Guide

Bonus: Have your Shopify cart’s shipping options change by zip code

One way to offer fast and affordable shipping is to partner with a fulfillment provider that lets you split your inventory across locations. Packages are delivered faster and at a lower cost by shipping from the fulfillment center closest to each customer. Having your ecommerce platform integrated with your ecommerce fulfillment solution means technology can help you drive more sales.

For example, ShipBob’s 2-Day Express Shipping Program lets Shopify merchants that have their inventory distributed among ShipBob’s locations offer guaranteed 2-day ground shipping to nearly half of the US population (at a fraction of the price of expedited 2-day air shipping).

“ShipBob’s 2-Day Express Program has been phenomenal for us. Because of Amazon, our customers expect 2-day shipping and we couldn’t find other 3PLs that can provide that. If they do, you are going to pay a lot for it. Without ShipBob, it would cost more than $100 per order to ship that fast.”

Founder of My Calm Blanket

This way, merchants that work with ShipBob for their Shopify shipping not only get their orders shipped out on time but also get to use the 2-Day Express program to offer a new affordable alternative shipping option. Here’s how it works:

  • A customer checks out on your Shopify store and enters their shipping destination
  • ShipBob dynamically verifies the delivery zip code and the inventory on-hand at each of our fulfillment centers
  • If the order qualifies for 2-Day Express, the new “2-Day Express” option will dynamically show up in real-time (as seen in the image of a Shopify cart below)

ShipBob’s 2-Day Express Shipping Program lets Shopify

Note: ShipBob has a similar program available for same-day delivery called ShipBob Now.

Want to learn more? Request a quote from ShipBob.