DIGITAL MARKETING GUIDE FOR SPORTS ECOMMERCE SITES

Table of Contents

👉 Keys to breaking all sales records with your online strategy

Sports eCommerce is still going strong.
Sales in this sector have been growing for several years. This is a trend that has kept up even during the pandemic, and one which can be explained for two reasons: on the one hand, a greater degree of concern for a healthy lifestyle and, on the other, the popularity of sports fashion.
While this means that the sector has new opportunities, it has also made competition soar.
Therefore, to beat out your competitors and reach the top, having a good online strategy has become a “must.”

👉 How the online sale of sports products has evolved

The pandemic has not been able to stop sports eCommerce.
Just the contrary: during 2020, sales in this sector grew exponentially. And this was despite the restrictions on movement imposed by the majority of the countries.
What is this growth due to?
In part, it can be chalked up to a growing concern to have a healthier lifestyle.
There are more and more people of all ages (especially young people) who try to do sport regularly and keep up with healthy habits.
Having said that, another of the reasons for this growth has to do with fashion. The fact of the matter is that some of this sector’s customers by clothing by sports brands for reasons of look and fashion. This is a trend known as “fashion sportwear” and it has been on the rise for some years.
These two factors have made it a good time to enter the sports product world.
But when demand grows, supply grows as well.
Now a sports eCommerce site is not competing with just a couple other online stores. The brands themselves (like Adidas and Nike, among many other examples) have also begun to sell directly to the end consumer under a D2C model.
To continue to be competitive, you should know how to get around the online world and squeeze the most out of every opportunity that comes your way.
In short: you need a sales strategy that will break all prior records.

👉 Snapshot of the average sports eCommerce customer

  • They are interested in health, but also in fashion: While part of the public continues to buy sports products for doing exercise, the fashion sportswear trend is becoming more and more popular. The needs and interests of both audiences (and the strategies to follow to reach them) are quite different.
  • The broader the product catalog, the better: In the sports world, each brand has its own followers. The more variety of brands and products you have, the easier it will be for each of your customers to find what they are looking for.
  • They seek advice about healthy living: Keeping fit is no longer just a matter of going out to run. Sports enthusiasts are more and more interested in all aspects of a healthy life (activities in nature, nutrition, etc.).
  • They want to buy fast and easily: A common trend in the sector of online sales: the customer wants to find the product they’re looking for easily, but it quickly, and receive it as soon as possible.

👉 How to design an online strategy to become a top sports eCommerce site

1️⃣ Familiarize yourself with your ideal customer

There are no two audiences alike.
The needs of someone who is a fan of doing sport will be quite different from those of a professional sportsman, or from those of someone interested in sports fashion.
To design an effective strategy, you’ll have to understand the profile (or profiles) of the audience you’re targeting, as well as their motivation.
That’s why the first step is for you to define yourbuyer persona.

Prepare your buyer persona profile

A buyer persona is a fictitious representation of your ideal customer.
It is a datasheet on an “invented person” that summarizes the common characteristics of a certain segment of your customers.
The data included in the buyer persona should be the following:

  • Demographic profile (age, socioeconomic level, studies, etc.).
  • What the buyer’s needs are (the reason they want to buy your product).
  • What aspects of your products could be most interesting to them.
  • How their daily life is.
  • What types of media they consume.
  • their main hobbies.

In fact, this “invented person” should have their own name and a photograph (it can be any photo taken from Google).
This data will help you to remember who you’re aiming for at all times – people in the flesh (and not just an abstract set of customers). That, in turn, will allow you to create a more proximate, effective sales message.
To draft this data, the best source of information is probably your customers themselves.
Analyze how much they spend on their purchases, the types of products they typically buy most, their most common questions, etc.
You can even send surveys to your subscribers to get more information.
Another option is to take a look at forums, profiles on social networks, and blogs related with the sports world.
There you’ll find a lot of useful information about your buyers’ greatest concerns, the brands they like most and why, etc.

An extra trick: how to learn more about your buyer persona by analyzing your competition

The websites of other shops that are your competition are a valuable source of information about your ideal customer.
For example, you could take a look at:

  • The products they have in their product catalog.
  • The products they most promote (for high-performance sportsmen, people with sports as a hobby, etc.).
  • The topics they speak about in their blog.
  • The comments they get from their followers.
  • The aspects of the products that customers highlight in their reviews.

This information can even be useful for you to help you find things to write about in your own blog.
For you to have a bit of a refence point, here are two possible buyer personas for a sports eCommerce site:

Profile 1: Laura, a non-professional sportswoman
Laura is a young thirty-year-old with a high level of studies and middle-to-high income. She takes care of her health and tries to do regular exercise and eat a balanced diet. She has a dog and normally goes hiking with it on weekends.
Laura is looking for comfortable clothing and shoes that don’t rub her feet so that they can walk long distances. She can use any brand, but her favorites are Puma and Nike. What’s more, she likes her clothing to be a bit flashy because after her hiking routes she usually uploads selfies to Instagram.
On my eCommerce site, I can offer Laura this type of product, in addition to tips on a healthy lifestyle and ideas to get out and about with her pet.

Profile 2: Marcos, the advanced-level sportsman
Marcos is 32 years old and has a high level of studies and middle-to-high income. He isn’t a professional sportsman, but he does spend a lot of hours doing exercise every week.
He needs all types of technical equipment (dumbbells, chin-up bars, jump ropes, etc.) He is also interested in specific sports supplements, like protein powder and creatine.
He normally goes camping, so he is looking for clothing and equipment from premium brands like The North Face and Salomon.
For Marcos, I can write articles with advanced training routines, nutrition advice, and supplement comparisons to help him to choose the best ones for him.

2️⃣ Attract them to your site 

If they can’t see you, you can’t sell to them.
That’s why the next step will be to establish different ways to attract traffic to your online shop’s website.
The most beneficial way will be to combine paid traffic and organic leads.

A. Optimize your eCommerce site for search engines (SEO)

SEO is a strategy that allows you to attract organic traffic (or “free” traffic) from Google.
For example, someone looks for “Hiking Boots” and finds your website amongst the first results and then clicks to see product information.
This is achieved through SEO positioning.
This strategy has several phases:

  • Make a list of terms related with your business: that is to say, of keywords that customers could use to find you in Google. Here we include brands, product names, topics of interest for your customers (exercises, nutrition), etc. You can also take a look at the keywords that your competition is using.
  • Find out what your customers are searching for: for this, you can use a SEO tool like those explained here.
  • Design a site structure that is optimized for SEO: use your keywords to decide the categories and subcategories to create. When designing your structure, make sure that there are not two pages that are the same in different categories (duplicate content) and also be sure that there are not two URLs focusing on the same keyword(keyword cannibalization).

If you want to know more about how to optimize your shop for search engines, you can take a look at this SEO mega-guide for eCommerce sites.

B. Draft a content strategy

In truth, this could be considered an extension of SEO.
Content marketing means planning and drafting content (posts, podcasts, videos, etc.) about topics that interest your target audience to attract them to your online shop.
For example, if you’re going after an audience that is interested in a healthy lifestyle and with basic knowledge, you could create content like:

  • The best exercises to burn fat.
  • How to combine cardio exercises and weight training.
  • Tips to have a healthy diet.

For this content to be effective and allow you to reach your objectives, it must be part of a well-defined strategy.

C. Be active on social media

Social networks are another great source of organic traffic.
Not just that – they also allow you to keep in close contact with your audience and create a community around your brand (in addition to the fact that they are typically yet another channel for customer service).
What’s more, social networks like Instagram and YouTube (and even TikTok and Snapchat if you are going after the teen crowd) will allow you to show your products in much more detail.
Depending on who your target is, you can use a dual strategy:

  • Some of your content could focus on tips for a healthy lifestyle.
  • The rest could be for showing high-quality pictures of your sports clothing for the members of your audience who are interested in fashion sportswear.

Another strategy in the sports sector that enjoys a lot of popularity is influencer marketing.
In terms of this type of marketing, it will be easy for you to find several influencers and microinfluencers in the fitness field who you can work with to increase your brand’s notoriety.

D. Online advertising

Paid traffic is a basic part of any eCommerce site’s online strategy.
When combined with the aforementioned items, advertising allows you to design a more overall, more profitable strategy. Ads can also be used to increase your sales during specific campaigns or on special dates in the year.
There are two big options:

The advantage of this type of advertising is that you only pay if your ads get clicks (this is known as “CPC”, or “Cost per Click”).
If your ad doesn’t get clicks, you don’t pay anything.
While each format is different, there are some success factors that are common to all advertising campaigns:

  • Use images as a hook: except for ads that only have text, images are important to grab users’ attention. It should be an image that makes it clear what product you are advertising and which highlights some of that product’s advantages.
  • Note the product benefits: both the title and description of the ad must capture the user’s attention and make it clear how a specific product will take care of their needs. If you are selling a waterproof smart watch, the ad could include something like, “Finally a watch that you can take with you to the deepest depths of the sea.”
  • Measure performance (and optimize your campaigns): try different variations of the same ad to see what images and text bring about more clicks and more conversions.

Remember to also measure the ad formats and the platforms that bring you the best returns to know where to focus your efforts at.

3️⃣ Make the shopping experience faster

Your customers like to feel like Usain Bolt.

Think about going from the starting point (when the customer lands on your site) to the goalposts (when they leave your shop with the purchase made) in a matter of seconds.
The simpler the buying process is, the more you will sell.

A. You only get one chance to make a good first impression (watch your design)

The design of an eCommerce site is yet another piece of the customer experience.
If the user finds a sloppy design when they land on your page, or if they find a slow load speed or a cumbersome navigation menu, it is very likely that they will leave and never return.
That’s not just a lost sale: it’s also bad for SEO (because it increases your bounce rate).
When you design the site for your online shop, you must consider the following:

  • Choose an attractive template: it is preferable to pay for a template that inspires confidence and calls people’s attention. In addition, you should be able to modify the template to meet your needs (check this in detail before you buy it).
  • Monitor the load speed: after 2 or 3 seconds, you start to lose customers.
  • Make navigation easy: include a broad main menu that allows the user to go right to the products they are interested in. It is also important to add breadcrumbs (we explain what they are here) to your product pages and category pages and to remove popups on the mobile version of your site.

This will improve your user experience (the positive or negative perception that a person has after browsing your site) – one of the factors that most affect SEO and sales.

B. A question left unanswered is a customer lost

All customers have questions.

  • Are these Nike shoes good for running on asphalt?
  • What winter coat is best for the snow?
  • Are all protein powders the same or are some better than others?
  • What happens if I don’t like it? Can I return it? What’s the return period? Are returns free?

Any of those questions can kill your sales if you leave them unanswered.
To avoid that, it is important for the user to be able to contact you easily. And, in addition, the user has to be able to contact you however they want, this includes:

  • Online chat (you can use a chatbot to take care of your customers outside of opening hours).
  • Social networks.
  • WhatsApp and/or Telegram.
  • Telephone.

Likewise, all common questions should be answered in the product pages themselves or in a FAQ section.

C. From the shopping cart to the payment gateway: a sprint

The checkout phase is critical.
This is where a lot of shopping carts get abandoned on eCommerce sites (abandoned carts average 70%).
You should offer your customers all possible conveniences when it’s time to pay.
That means:

  • Offer different payment gateways: including PayPal, Stripe, and even Bizum.
  • Allow guest purchases: you can also activate a social login button so that users can register in just a click by using the data they have on their social networks.
  • Make a chat visibly available: to answer any last-minute questions. You can also include a FAQ section here.
  • Avoid surprise costs: shipping costs should be notes from the get-go.

It’s also important to make it clear to your user that the transaction is secure. For that, be sure that you have an active SSL certificate (which makes your website appear with a lock icon and uses HTTPS).
In addition, next to the payment button you can add symbols like a lock and credit card icons, which the user associates with security.

How to recover abandoned shopping carts

On average, almost 7 of every 10 shoppers will abandon their purchases halfway through.
If you are able to reduce that percentage, you’ll increase your sales with the same amount of traffic as what you’re now getting.
One important thing is to simplify the checkout process, as we have seen. But if you still have abandoned carts even after doing that, you can try the following:

With these tips, you’ll get your abandonment rate to plummet.

D. Offer the whole shabang

Someone who regularly does sport normally requires a good deal of equipment.
And a way to increase the average ticket size on your site is by offering related products to the user.
For example:

  • If someone is looking for a track suit, show them some shoes that go with it.
  • If someone wants to buy dumbbells, they may also be interested in kettlebell weights.
  • If someone has added protein powder, this could be complemented with a collagen supplement.

Another option is, if you see that several customers are buying the same products together, you can sell those products as a bundle or pack.

E. The sooner the order arrives, the better

The last step is for the customer to correctly receive the package.
And that means that the product not only has to get there in one piece, but it also has to arrive as soon as possible. There are even customers who are willing to pay a little more in order to receive their order in 24 or 48 hours.
To meet these expectations, it is important for you to hire a good logistics operator.
Or even better, work with several of them.
In this way, if one of them gives you trouble, you still have the others.
This is especially important in times when demand is high.

✅ A smart search engine: the best friend of a large product catalog

The greater the variety of products offered on your sports eCommerce site, the greater the range of people you will attract and the more your sales will increase.
But, how can you give your customers a broad product range and simultaneously make it easy for them to find the product they are looking for in a flash?
That’s where the site-specific search feature of your shop comes into play.
And remember: not just any search will do. In fact, it has been calculated that 70% of site-specific search engines don’t meet users’ expectations.
And if you add to that the fact that conversion amongst customers who search for something is between 4 and 6 times higher, not paying attention to this part of your eCommerce site is not something that is good for profits. You need an advanced site search engine. Or, better still, a smart search engine.

A. A smart search engine learns from your customers in order to offer them personalized search results

A smart search engine analyzes the behavior of each user to learn from them and offer them custom results.
Imagine you have a customer named Juan who loves skiing.
The first time he was on your site, Juan searched for “coats for snow” and was comparing the ones you sell for a little while, later deciding on one.
A few days later, Juan returns to your site, and this time he writes “gloves” in the site search box.
And the first results that show up are ski gloves.
This is not a coincidence. Instead, the search engine recognized Juan and it remembered that the last time he was looking at coats for snow. Thus, when Juan wrote “Gloves,” the search engine assumed that he wanted ski gloves.
What would have happened if Juan had been looking at boxing supplies instead of coats for snow? In that case, when he wrote “gloves,” the search engine would have given him boxing gloves first.

B. “Ribok?” I think you mean “Reebok.”

Anyone can have a memory lapse.
Imagine that when arriving to your shop, Juan (the skier) had come with the idea of buying a coat by The North Face.
But when he wrote it in the search engine, he accidently typed “North Force coats.”
Or perhaps instead of “coats”, he wrote “parkas.”
A normal search engine wouldn’t have understood what type of product Juan was referring to, so it would have given him the typical “No results found” message (which is what happens 15% of the time). And perhaps Juan would have left the shop thinking that you didn’t have anything in stock.
But a smart search engine wouldn’t have had any problems to show Juan the product pages he was interested in, because a smart search engine understands typos and common synonyms.

C. A smart search is a step ahead the user

The easier it is for your customers to find what they’re looking for, the more likely they are to buy.
And this is where autofill comes into play.
Let’s imagine the case of Lucia now, a customer who got to your shop in search of dumbbells.
As soon as she starts typing “dum” into the search engine, the search feature starts to imagine what Lucia is going to write and begins showing product pages that are available on your site.
In addition, results are shown with photos of each product so that Lucia can find the model she likes most in just one look.


Did you know that…?

With Doofinder, it is easy to know that the most searched for products in the sports eCommerce sector right now are:

1. Mountain boots.
2. Thermal shirts.
3. Polar linings.
4. Shoes for running.
5. Cycling jerseys.
6. Thermal tights.
7. Weights.
8. Barbell and weight sets.
9. Oars.
10. Weight and dumbbell sets.

The high demand of products related with outdoor activities tells us that, right now, the public is quite interested in doing exercise outside.
If you’re thinking about expanding your catalog or launching promotions, it could be a good idea to do so with this type of item.

D. Searchandising: your special offers right in front of them

Do you have a really great deal that you want all your customers to find out about?
A site-specific search engine can help you with that.
If the sale is on hiking backpacks, you can create a banner and tell the search engine to show it on all related searches (hiking clothing, backpacks, mountain boots, etc.)

E. A smart search tells you about searches that didn’t yield results (so that you don’t lose more sales)

Imagine that, until now, you had never considered adding inline skates to your online shop because you thought they weren’t going to sell well.
Then one day, when checking the site-specific searches for your shop, you realize that there are a lot of people searching for “Rollerblades.”
People who leave empty handed. Knowing that, and despite the fact that Rollerblade is an expensive brand, you decide to buy stock and start selling them because your clients themselves are telling you that they want to buy them from you.

4. Make your customers loyal regulars

Gaining the loyalty of your current customers is just as important as getting new ones – or maybe it’s even more important.
And the fact the of the matter is that getting someone who has already bought something from you to do so again is between 5 and 10 times more profitable.
Let’s take a look at the two most used ways to accomplish just that.

A. Loyalty programs

Loyalty programs are different strategies that we use to get the same customer to come back and buy more again and again.
Some options are:

  • Offering an exclusive discount to your best customers. For example, to those whose monthly purchases surpass a certain amount.
  • Sending a coupon to a customer for their birthday or on the year anniversary of their first purchase.
  • Establishing a points program.
  • Giving a discount for every new customer they recommend you to.
  • If you have products that get used up regularly (like supplements or protein powders), you can give the customer the option of buying them as subscriptions.

What’s more, if you provide your customers with useful content (the more segmented it is in terms of interests, the better), you’ll give them yet another reason why they should remain loyal to your store – even if they don’t buy so often.

B. Email marketing

Email marketing is one of the most effective ways to make anyone who lands on your site become a recurring customer.
Even if they weren’t going to buy anything yet on their first visit.
What’s more, having a subscriber list is key to putting into place other series of strategies (like strategies to recover abandoned shopping carts).
To implement email marketing on your online shop, you need, at minimum:

If you want to know more about this strategy, here you have a full guide on email marketing for eCommerce sites.

5. Analyze the performance of your eCommerce site (to beat your own records)

Developing the strategy is just the first step.
Once you have put different mechanisms to gain customers into place and when you are attracting customers to your site, you have to continue making improvements to be able to sell even more.
And to accomplish that, the first thing you have to remember is that you have to look at your statistics.

Important KPIs to measure the performance of your sales strategy

There are many indicators that you can take into account (and some of them will be more or less important depending on how long your eCommerce site has been around), but these are the basic ones:

  • Conversion rate: how many of your visitors end up buying something.
  • Average ticket size: the average amount spent per purchase by your customers.
  • Shopping cart abandonment rate: how many abandonments you have and where they are occurring during the checkout process.
  • CAC: the customer acquisition cost measures how much you have to invest to gain a single customer.
  • CLV: complementary to the CAC. The customer lifetime value tells you for how long a customer continues to shop on your eCommerce site.
  • Bounce rate: users who arrive at your site and don’t interact with it (they don’t visit other pages or press any buttons).
  • Return on investment (ROI): the profitability of your marketing efforts.

To measure some of these KPIs, you’ll need specific tools like Google Analytics or Google Search Console.

What if you had a tool that…?

  • Takes care of your customers 24/7 and helps them to find the products they need
  • Shows customers personalized results to increase conversion and average ticket size
  • Improves the user experience on your website (and SEO positioning)
  • Reduces “no results found” searches (from 15% to 1.3%)
  • Ensures that everyone sees promotions
  • Offers you key data to optimize your sales strategy

Doofinder is the smart search engine that helps you to increase your sales by up to 20%

And it does that thanks to:

  • Smart search: autofill function, synonym and typo management, search filters, etc.
  • Results personalization: Doofinder’s AI analyzes the behavior of each user to offer more relevant results.
  • Searchandising: this shows the products you are most interested in selling first and makes your promotions more visible.
  • Mobile Search: the mobile device layer adapts to any device. In addition, it allows for voice searches.
  • Real-time statistics: to know what type of searches are being made by users on your online shop and how to optimize your strategy.

Would you like to discover all this for yourself?
It’s easy, because you can try Doofinder for free for 30 days (and we won’t even ask for your bank account details).
Just click on this link, download it, and in 5 minutes you’ll have it up and running without touching any code or programming anything.

TRY DOOFINDER FREE FOR 30 DAYS

 

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