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marketing maturity

The eCommerce industry is hypercompetitive and constantly evolving. As technology continues to improve at a lightning-fast rate, online retailers must adapt quickly to meet the needs of their customers.

According to Forrester’s 2018 predictions, retailers who don’t meet the growing expectations of their customers could see high churn rates and a loss of market share. To remain competitive in the eCommerce industry, small and medium-sized business (SMB) retailers should adopt a sound framework that will guide and improve their marketing processes.

In other words, eCommerce retailers must have a clear understanding of their current capabilities, along with a roadmap for business growth. The easiest way to chart this growth is by following an eCommerce marketing maturity model.

Knowing where you fall on this model allows you to identify gaps in your current marketing efforts and develop actionable strategies to reach new levels of success. Let’s take a closer look at the four-stage marketing maturity model and discuss how it can set your eCommerce business up for success.

What Are Maturity Models?

Maturity models are not a new concept. Organizations have been using them for decades to help assess their abilities and identify areas that need improvement.

However, eCommerce business owners have recently realized the importance of maturity models. With the proliferation of data and a steady increase of competition in the online industry, online retailers are searching for new ways to advance their marketing and grow their business.

This has led to the creation of maturity models specifically for eCommerce marketers. As SMB retailers adopt smarter marketing automation tools, they need to set reasonable expectations for business growth and identify their next marketing move.

The Four Stages of Marketing Maturity

In partnership with FitCommerce, Springbot has created an eCommerce marketing maturity model designed to help SMB retailers scale their marketing and make more data-driven decisions. Like other maturity models, this model includes key stages that allow retailers to better gauge their current capabilities and develop strategies to reach higher levels of the maturity model.  

Our marketing maturity model includes four stages:

Stage One: The Ad-Hoc Marketer

Stage Two: The Up-And-Coming Marketer

Stage Three: The Full-Fledged Marketer

Stage Four: The Best-In-Class Marketer

Once you know where your business falls on the eCommerce marketing maturity model, you can begin developing more sophisticated processes that will convert more customers and improve your overall marketing performance.  

This model is designed for all types of eCommerce marketers — from entrepreneurs thinking about launching an online store to established SMBs. The end goal is the same for every marketer: to deliver a seamless customer experience across all channels and touchpoints.

In the next sections, we’ll break down the four stages and reveal the common characteristics of marketing maturity for SMB retailers. 

Stage One: The Ad-Hoc Marketer

marketing maturity

If you’ve recently launched an eCommerce business, you likely fall in stage one of the eCommerce marketing maturity model. In this stage, online marketers are learning the fundamentals of marketing and are focused on driving traffic and revenue to their new online store.

When launching an eCommerce business, resources are often limited and online merchants typically wear multiple hats while handling different areas of their business. 

Stage one is largely a testing period for eCommerce marketers. In addition to proving the viability and profitability of their product, ad-hoc marketers should also begin testing different approaches to marketing.

In stage one, eCommerce marketers often struggle to identify the proper tools and strategies they need to get their business off the ground. Rather than focusing on which metrics to track, ad-hoc marketers must first acquire the proper tools and techniques to begin laying the foundation for better marketing practices and reach stage two of the eCommerce marketing maturity model. 

Stage Two: The Up-And-Coming Marketer

marketing maturity

At stage two, eCommerce retailers have mastered the basics of running a business and are seeing higher traffic volume and conversions. Cash flow is steady, allowing business owners to confidently hire additional team members to manage different areas of the company.

Although marketing processes have significantly improved, teams may remain disorganized. Up-and-coming eCommerce businesses rely on basic tools and technology to carry out their marketing initiatives, resulting in missed opportunities to nurture new leads and existing customers.

At stage two, email subscribers are growing and a social media presence is being maintained. Some SMBs may even be experimenting with Facebook ads and sending more advanced triggered emails to their subscribers.

Things may be moving in the right direction, but marketers shouldn’t be complacent. Disjointed marketing processes are often a challenge for marketers at this stage, which hurts the customer experience and can result in a significant loss of sales if not managed properly. 

In stage two, one eCommerce marketers have mastered the fundamentals of marketing and are using insight gained from Google Analytics to increase the effectiveness of their marketing tactics, they will begin their transition to stage three, the full-fledged marketer. 

Stage Three: The Full-Fledged Marketer

Now, we come to stage three: the full-fledged marketer. SMB retailers who have reached this stage are growing in both size and sophistication, allowing them to deliver better online shopping experiences for their customers and drive more revenue.

Despite higher rates of customer engagement and loyalty, stage three SMBs may not be making the best use of their data. One of the challenges that SMB retailers face is figuring out how to leverage their data to connect their customers and deliver more personalized experiences to them.

To make things easier, many online retailers will adopt a centralized solution for all aspects of their marketing. With a robust marketing automation solution, marketers can use smarter segmentation techniques to target customers, track their revenue and offer rich customer insight—all on a single dashboard.

Stage three SMB retailers may be leveraging smarter technology, but the need for human interaction remains crucial. At this stage of the eCommerce marketing maturity model, additional staff may be employed and growth goals are set based on both the company’s data and data acquired through competitive analysis.

Full-fledged marketers are on the right path, but their company is likely working in silos. This is hindering their ability to connect data across multiple platforms and devices, which would allow them to gain a holistic portrait of how their eCommerce store is performing.

In other words, an omnichannel strategy has yet to be successfully implemented. Until you can coordinate your marketing campaigns across multiple devices and channels, your eCommerce business can’t reach the final stage of marketing maturity — the best-in-class marketer.

Stage Four: The Best-In-Class Marketer

If you’ve reached stage four, you deserve a big pat on the back! By taking advantage of robust marketing tools and technology, stage four marketers have streamlined their marketing operations and now run their online business like a well-oiled machine. Many marketing tasks are automated, and specialized employees have been recruited. As a result, the business enjoys higher levels of overall budget growth.

These SMB retailers have reached stage four through sheer perseverance, careful planning and commitment.  Despite reaching full marketing maturity, stage-four retailers must be careful not to get too comfortable. Now is the time to invest in new tools and marketing strategies if they want to maintain their share of the market. Marketers who fail to identify new threats to their market risk allowing industry competitors to overtake them.

Final Words

Reaching the final stage of marketing maturity is no easy feat, which is why it’s important to have a reliable roadmap for business growth. Knowing where you land on the eCommerce marketing maturity model is key to developing an actionable strategy that will propel your business forward.

Marketers who fail to identify new threats to their market risk allowing industry competitors to overtake them. To maintain a competitive edge, download our free eBook to learn what steps to take in order to scale your eCommerce marketing initiatives.