E-Commerce App Marketing Top Tips

Optimising E-Commerce

There have been major shifts in the e-commerce sector in the last few years, with luxury retailers in particular seeing a significant decline in brand strength (read more here). These shifts have caused us to deep-dive and explore the current climate of the e-commerce sector. Research shows that the e-commerce sector is worth more than $400 billion in the US alone. It is projected to grow by more than 1.5x in the next two years. This surge has led to more users, spending and frequent shopping through apps.

Despite these figures, the luxury sector has shown us that businesses that fail to innovate will fall behind. While there are many reasons why this can happen, you should make every effort to ensure your business is not a part of this statistic. In this blog post, we will explore different methods you can leverage to optimise your e-commerce apps and maximise the app-first growth opportunities at your disposal.

Optimising the E-Commerce User Journey

A seamless user journey is essential to the e-commerce app experience – from browsing products to driving purchases. Aesthetically pleasing UI creates a foundation for user engagement, which, when paired with an efficient and optimised UX, allows you to drive effective in-app actions. Here are essential user journey tips to optimise your UX and UI:

Intuitive Search and Navigation: When designed optimally, it should be easier for users to navigate your e-commerce app and not get lost in the sales funnel. Part of this is based on the app’s search functionality. WebLinc found that shoppers who use the search functionality are 216% more likely to convert than regular browsers. It’s not enough just to have a search functionality implemented in your app. Take it a step further by implementing auto-suggestions to guide users as they type, offering possible matches for popular searches or even spell-check corrections. It is also worth providing options for filtering and sorting search results to help users narrow down what they’re looking for. You could also offer users real-time feedback as they type their queries, showing a number of matches found, to manage their expectations.

Amazon E-Commerce Search
(Source: Amazon search auto-suggestions via the Amazon app)

Frictionless Checkout Process: A complicated and time-consuming checkout process can lead to cart abandonment and reduced conversions. Optimise the checkout process by eliminating unnecessary steps and by capturing essential information only. A great way to do this is to offer guest checkout options which will allow users to make purchases without the need for account creation.

One-handed Interactions: 61% of consumers between the ages of 18 and 34 say it’s important to navigate your app and mobile website with one hand. E-commerce platforms should use this information to provide more convenient UX. We’re conditioned to use our phones with one hand while using the other for something else (e.g. holding a drink). There are many product experience considerations developers can take to optimise an app for one-handed interactions. An example of this is placing frequently used elements within easy reach of the thumb. Another example is allowing users to minimise text entry with autofill and pre-filled suggestions.

SSO: Single Sign-On (SSO)allows users to sign into multiple digital products and services using a single account with a large-scale provider. A benefit of adding this feature to your e-commerce app is the ability to centralise all user data available to you. You can collect it from many different touchpoints (both online and offline) in one place, and assign it to a unique customer ID. This way, you avoid problems with duplicate accounts and distorted data (and it will also be easier for you to delete customer data one day, if necessary). SSO also significantly increases the chance that a user will place an order in your online store. If they can log into it, e.g. using a Facebook or Gmail account, the risk of an abandoned purchase decreases.

Farfetch E-Commerce Search
(Source: Farfetch SSO Onboarding via Farfetch App)

Referral Marketing for E-commerce Apps 

With the rising cost of paid ads, acquiring new customers can get expensive quickly. Referral programs make for an inexpensive and efficient method of getting new customers on board. It is one of the most cost-effective methods of user acquisition. A referral marketing programme encourages current customers to refer new customers through incentivisation.

Retailers that use referral programs see an increase in sales and subsequent referrals as more and more customers begin to share. While they are useful on their own, referral programs work best when paired with loyalty programs to maximise customer acquisition, raise average order value, and increase customer lifetime value. ASOS leverages this in their app product. Offering its clients incentives for referrals and its ASOS Premiere loyalty service, it gives users two touchpoints for acquisition and engagement.

ASOS E-Commerce Referral
(Source: ASOS referral scheme via ASOS App)

Building a Successful Referral Programme 

Design your referral program strategically. Establish the terms of a “successful” referral and set goals for your referral program. Most e-commerce referral programmes tend to offer vouchers or discounts. Consider your clients and the incentives that they will value.  Also, consider the timing you use to introduce your referral programme.

Generally, most retailers leveraging e-commerce platforms have product offerings with a short buying cycle. In these cases, you can introduce your referral programme right after a customer purchases to motivate them to earn rewards for their next purchase. You should also promote your referral marketing program on all your marketing channels. Email marketing and email campaigns are some of the best ways to promote a referral program as it is direct, personal and customisable.

Finally, track your results; collect data to see how your efforts are performing. Modern referral programs depend on software to track successful referrals and automate rewards. It will generate a unique code or link for each referrer that can be shared. Once a new customer uses the code, the referrer will get their incentive, such as automatically earning a percentage of the sale as an account credit. Tracking referral performance can help you stay on top of key metrics like the app’s K-Factor (an indication of your app’s virality), participant share rate and invitation CTR.

Treat your App Stores as Your Shop Front 

The shop window that draws the most attention is the one that drives footfall. As the first user touchpoint of your app, you should employ every opportunity to stay ahead of your competition. Treat your listings like a store window and allow it to evolve with your seasonal, promotional, product and branding efforts.

Icons and screenshots are highly impactful in helping apps stand out and are one of the biggest conversion drivers on the app stores. Once you lock down what you plan to offer, consider the changes you’d like to make to your creative assets. You will always immediately notice an app’s icon. You can therefore update these for each season; they allow your app to stand out among its top category competitors. Icon changes are particularly impactful on Google Play, where only the icon and copy appear in the search results. After updating your creative assets, with product page optimisation in iOS, or with Play Store Experiments for Google Play, you can run tests to definitively tell you the influence these iterations have had on your conversion rates, and take these learnings into future optimisations. In a particularly visual industry, e-commerce brands should prioritise an always-on A/B testing cycle for their creative assets in the store.

Expanding Generic Keyword Volume  

It is common practice to be proactive and regularly update your metadata to allow your app to index and rank as well as it can. You wonder if there is any use in leveraging keyword visibility outside of brand terms. Our suggestion is: always, yes! A way to stay ahead in the e-commerce sector is to expand your impression volume around popular and seasonal periods and products. Review historic impression volume for seasonally relevant periods like back-to-school, Black Friday or Christmas – these tend to be high-spend periods for consumers. Getting your seasonality right can increase app store conversion rates by 15-20% at each opportunity.

Leveraging In-app Events for E-Commerce Promotions

E-commerce apps need to leverage all the tools at their disposal in the app stores to drive growth. With new content and products rolling in and out of your apps, you are in a good position to leverage content cards in the stores. In-app Events and Promotional Content are discoverable throughout the App Store and Play Store and are a great way to build up brand equity in the app stores. They appear on your app store listing but also directly in the search results and through editorial content (on iOS), giving you a new way to fight against churn and acquire new customers. This can go on to increase your visibility in app stores. Metadata from In-app Events, if optimised well, can be indexed within app stores. Another benefit of leveraging In-app Events is that they can occupy more real estate in the app stores through search and feature opportunities.

If your app has features or promotions relevant to a particular season, highlighting these in your app’s description and event cards can re-engage users with your new product offering. These actions are not just limited to holiday seasons. Seasonality can also be category-specific (e.g. promotions based on different sporting seasons) and app-specific, (specific benefits available per month).

Nike E-Commerce Special Event
(Source: Nike Special Event on the App Store, via AppTweak)


From a bird’s eye perspective, the e-commerce landscape will only grow stronger. This said the e-commerce brands that take a mobile-first approach are the ones who will capitalise and be a successful part of this growing sector. We hope this post has provided you with valuable insights you can use to sharpen your optimisation efforts for your e-commerce apps. We offer observations on a range of topics in app marketing – stay in the loop!

Smokehouse Yard, 44-46, St John Street, London, EC1M 4DF 🇬🇧

Smokehouse Yard, 44-46, St John Street, London, EC1M 4DF 🇬🇧