2017 was an amazing year for ecommerce; we saw innovation in every nook and cranny of the industry, and technology has taken to the forefront of the ecommerce world.
One of the best ways to stay on top of this fast-paced industry is to follow the experts that are at the bleeding edge of it. This is why I’ve compiled a list of the top ecommerce and digital marketing experts that you absolutely must follow for the latest trends, innovations, and advice.
Each of these experts has also contributed exclusive tips and statistics for Divvit’s readers.
If you’d rather skip the list and follow all of the experts directly, we’ve compiled a Twitter list for you to follow.
The Top Ecommerce & Digital Marketing Experts to Follow
1. Richard Lazazzera
The man behind one of the most successful ecommerce blogs and incubators, A Better Lemonade Stand, Richard Lazazzera has created the ultimate knowledge hub when it comes to helping entrepreneurs launch their online stores.
Tweeting on everything from setup tutorials to the latest robotic innovation, Richard is definitely a great source on the latest in the ecommerce industry, especially if you’re just getting started. If you’re not, it’s always a great idea to review the basics!
We asked Richard what trend would be the most useful for online merchants in 2018:
“With email open rates declining there's huge opportunity in new communication channels with better engagement. Facebook Messenger Chatbots are starting to become interesting and will likely become much bigger in 2018. With close to 80% open rates, they blow email away.”
2. Sam Hurley
You can’t talk about digital marketing and ecommerce experts without Sam Hurley’s name popping up in the mix. Sam has quite an interesting story, in just 15 months he managed to become one of the top digital marketing influencers without a website.
Today, he’s launched his next project, OPTIM-EYEZ, which helps those who are looking to work on their personal brands in very much the same way that Sam did.
He offers guest blogging, link building, PR services, consulting and mentoring (with tons more). If ever there was one person to follow for the ultimate in growth hacking, it’s Sam Hurley.
And he’s a pretty nice guy too!
His thoughts on the biggest ecommerce trends for 2018:
“The uptake of Artificial Intelligence! Without a doubt. This technology offers the ability to scale personalization — and in the age of the customer, personalization matters more than ever before…
“81% of consumers want brands to get to know them and understand when to approach them (and when not to).”
In addition to enabling proactive customer engagement, AI and machine learning tech allows granular, automated, on-the-fly personalization without the huge, additional load that 100% manual input would otherwise require.
We’re talking dynamic website content suited to the individual, helpful chatbots and intelligent pricing that alters according to multiple sets of data — including (but not limited to) market conditions, customer behavior, demand and stock levels.
Considering scenarios where larger ecommerce brands are selling thousands of products to many customers, the possible reduction in resource is astounding…
Check this cost-saving stat regarding chatbots alone:
‘Chatbots brought a potential salary saving of $23 billion to brands in 2016.’”
(Source: Business Insider)
3. James Gurd
James Gurd is a digital strategy consultant that has been working in ecommerce for over 14 years. This Londoner runs a consulting agency for ecommerce called Digital Juggler where he focuses on improving your ecommerce store based on the foundations, such as your digital strategy to customer and user experience.
James has contributed to Econsultancy, PCA Predict, and Smart Insights, as well as co-hosts his own Twitter chat called #EcomChat. Tweeting on everything ecommerce and digital marketing, James is definitely on the to-follow list!
We asked James what he thought the most important trend for 2018 would be:
“Exit intent is common to most sites but exit intent is often dismissed as a UX interruption. However, when implemented based on user behaviour, it can be a conversion lifesaver for ecommerce retailers.
The evolution for exit intent marketing is to micro target user behaviour, rather than a macro campaign focused at page-level exits. For example, you use your web analytics data to learn that product X is one of the biggest volume exit pages and the typical path to purchase involves at least 3 sessions.
An exit intent campaign is set-up to trigger when a user exits from the product page directly, only if they’ve visited the page at least twice before.”
His advice for ecommerce merchants looking to succeed this year:
“Make sure you have a clear measurement framework with KPIs and benchmarks aligned with your trading goals and targets.
For example, if you're chasing profitability, ensure you are measuring things like margin per sale, ROAS for ads etc. Then set-up your analytics reports to track these KPIs and create alerts to notify you when there is a negative fluctuation. This will help you jump on issues quickly.”
4. Branden Moskwa
Branden Moskwa is a force of nature: bringing 20 years of ecommerce experience across a range of company sizes and markets, Branden is the go-to guy for ecommerce.
Named as one of the “Industry’s brightest minds” by IBM and “remarkably innovative” by The Guardian, Branden runs his own consulting firm called Nadimo.
Branden also hosts a weekly podcast called Ecommerce AllStars, welcoming the biggest and the best to give advice and insights into the hottest topics in the ecommerce industry. Specializing in artificial intelligence and machine learning, Branden’s tweets are full of rich quotes from ecommerce experts from the world over, including his own!
We asked Branden Moskwa what ecommerce trend was the most exciting:
“Machine Learning, but you must remember that machines need lots of data to really learn anything useful, so if your traffic volumes are not too high, then I would forget about that and look at my other and more universally applied favorite trend, Influencer Marketing.
Machines learning from low data sets is like trusting a poll where 2 of 3 dentists recommend! Accuracy in data is important and only comes with larger data sets.”
His advice for online merchants to succeed this year:
“I would say, as a whole, spend time on the checkout process: make it as simple and slick as possible. Once you have the consumer ready to buy you need to remove EVERY barrier that could possibly stand in the way, chasing abandoned carts is not fun, get them while they while they are there the first time!
This means auto address completion, removing all and any unneeded form fields and getting them to that order confirmation page faster than a seagull on a french fry.”
5. Graham Charlton
There has never been a person who had more content pass in front of his eyes. Former Editor in Chief for Econsultancy and current Editor in Chief for SaleCycle, Graham Charlton is linked to some of the best ecommerce articles out there.
Tweeting on everything from current events to the best ecommerce tips to grow your online store, Graham is definitely one of the top experts to follow.
We asked Graham what he thought would be a huge trend for 2018:
“It's not a new trend, but something that's been gathering pace for the past few years - personalisation. Whether online or through email, using data to personalise and produce more relevant customer experiences and marketing should continue to grow in 2018.
It's a challenge though, as doing this effectively and at scale requires both expertise and the ability to combine different data sets within companies.”
The most shocking statistic he learned this year:
“This is from perhaps a year or so ago, but the fact that more online product searches begin on Amazon than Google surprised me. It brings home the sheer size and influence of Amazon.”
Graham’s advice for online sellers looking to develop:
“Get the basics right. I'm sure it's tempting to jump on trends and try exciting new things, but many ecommerce sites I see still make basic errors which will be affecting their performance. This might be annoying forms, unclear information around delivery charges or crappy checkouts.”
6. Tracey Wallace
Tracey Wallace is the Editor in Chief and Senior Content Strategist at BigCommerce. Coming from a family business background, and customer-centric, she’s dedicated to promoting the most successful ecommerce growth strategies.
Her writing focuses on actionable tips that you can implement today, and her talent for explaining complicated growth tactics is unparalleled. If real advice is what you’re looking for, Tracey is definitely the one to follow.
We asked Tracey, “What’s the #1 ecommerce trend to jump on for 2018?”
“Treat your product pages (yes all of them) like landing pages. Use video to showcase the product, graphical breakdowns. Customer reviews.
And then get really good at Facebook Advertising and send traffic past your homepage directly to the product page that is now a landing page and watch your conversions and revenue go up.
That should be every business's Q1 focus if they haven't done it already.”
The stat that shocked her the most recently:
“Facebook Advertising revenue now outpaces (by only a percentage point or two, but still) email marketing revenue. This is an industry first –– and it's a big deal. No other channel has been able to beat out email marketing as the #1 revenue generator. Until now.
This means that if FB Ads aren't producing high revenue and ROI for your band, that you are actually in the *minority*. Yikes.
Focus in on it. Go to workshops. There are tons of experts on this out there that can help. It's about targeting. It's about A/B testing. It's about sending people to right pages (i.e. not your homepage). You can do it –– but you need to start doing it right now.”
Her expert advice for developing ecommerce stores:
“Talk to people. Really, really talk to them. Customers who phone in have conversion rates in the 80th percentile.
Put your phone number on your site. Respond to people FAST on social media. Use FB messenger tools to respond to people quickly. Text people when their packages have shipped out. Do whatever you can to actually talk to people wherever they are.
It sounds like a lot –– I know –– and it can be chaotic. But there are tools that can help put all of this in one place for you. Reamaze is the one that comes to mind for me.”
7. Shayla Price
Shayla Price is an accomplished content marketer who has worked for some of the biggest, most reputable companies in the industry: Shopify, Kissmetrics, Agorapulse, Leadpages, etc. Today, she kills articles on content and digital marketing, focusing on email marketing best practices.
If you want the latest on email and digital marketing, Shayla is definitely the one to follow. Check out her work for her tips!
The biggest ecommerce trend she says you should jump on:
“In 2018, ecommerce stores should focus on protecting consumer data. Security breaches can result in loss revenue and poor brand reputation. It's important that you take the necessary measures to minimize hacks and learn how to communicate breaches to your consumers.”
Her advice for ecommerce managers looking to develop:
“Take advantage of user-generated content. Social proof from fellow shoppers and micro-influencers helps potential buyers with their purchasing decisions. Work with your team to experiment with UGC on everything from social media channels to product pages.”
8. Sean Work
Sean Work is a literal rocket scientist. No seriously, he has a degree in Aerospace Engineering. However, over 12 years ago, his career pivoted towards marketing and SEO, and he never looked back.
Since, he’s worked with Kissmetrics and today, masters inbound marketing at Crazy Egg as the Vice President of Inbound. When he’s not killing content, he’s hosting an ecommerce podcast called “Worketing.” As one of the most powerful voices in SEO, Sean tweets mainly on marketing, digital strategy, and ecommerce, peppered with politics.
His #1 tip for ecommerce brands looking to grow:
“My number one tip is to start producing your own products and focus heavily on getting your brand dialed down. That doesn't just mean your logo, but what your brand stands for, your values, how you want people to experience your brand from everything to unboxing to how your employees talk to customers on the phone.”
9. Zia Daniell Wigder
Zia Daniell Wigder is the fantastic face and Chief Global Content Officer behind the blog of Shoptalk, the biggest ecommerce event in the US (and perhaps even worldwide, as their first European installment took place just a few months ago).
Honing in on innovation and companies worth noticing, Zia tweets on a truly international news and advice, focusing not only on the best practices in ecommerce, but in business in general. Follow her for amazing content from all over the globe and the latest on Shoptalk.
What was the most significant statistic that you heard recently?
“Perhaps not the most surprising—but clearly some of the most significant--data points in 2017 were around mobile sales this holiday season.
In the US, sales via mobile devices almost reached $2 billion on Black Friday—then on Cyber Monday, mobile sales hit $2 billion for the first time. In China, 90% of Alibaba’s $25.3 billion in sales on 11.11 was generated through mobile devices.
Mobile sales have been on an upward trajectory for years, but we’re now at a point where no ecommerce business can consider the channel secondary.”
10. Mark Schaefer
Mark Schaefer is a globally recognized marketing and business expert with over 30 years of experience. He is a lifelong educator, has written several books on personal branding, including his best seller The Content Code, and works today as a full time marketing consultant.
His tweets revolve around brand management, thought leadership, and the way that the marketing industry is quickly changing. For truly thought-provoking content, following Mark Schaefer is an absolute must.
We asked Mark what the biggest ecommerce trend for 2018 would be:
“I'm sure a lot of respondents will say "chatbots," and I agree, but for a different reason.
I think chatbots will usher in a new era of conversation marketing. Here's what I mean by that: most customer service people are graded by how quickly they can deal with a problem and move on to the next issue. But chatbots can stay on "the line" and have conversations forever.
I see this as a way of picking up new customer information and insight, a strategy that has not been discussed too much.”
The statistic that shocked him the most recently:
“80 percent of company site search is owned by the IT department and is sub-optimized for customer experience. This statistic comes from SoloSegment. This kind of blows my mind.
As marketers, we exert this tremendous effort to bring people to our site. Then 30-40 percent turn to the search box and it's not optimized? Wow. You have got to be kidding me.”
Mark’s top tip for ecommerce owners looking to grow:
“Focus, focus, focus on optimizing site search. I think this is a relatively overlooked aspect of the ecommerce value chain!”
11. Andrew Youderian
Andrew Youderian is the founder of eCommerce Fuel, a community for high-earning and established ecommerce merchants. This private community shares valuable content and allows vetted ecommerce merchants the opportunity to connect with their peers and grow their businesses together.
Andrew is a serial entrepreneur, having already developed and sold two businesses before founding eCommerce Fuel. Tweeting on ecommerce news and anything in tech that affects the ecommerce world, Andrew is definitely a solid voice in the industry that’s worth listening to.
We asked Andrew what he thought the top trend to adopt for 2018 was:
“Marketing through Facebook Messenger seems to offer a really compelling opportunity to store owners in 2018. It's a relatively uncrowded space at the moment and the open rates and CTRs people are seeing are often 3x to 4x that of traditional email.”
The statistic that surprised him the most:
“The stat that more than half of product searches in the U.S. now begin on Amazon (vs. Google or another site) really surprised me.
It drives home how Amazon has completely up-ended the world of eCommerce and the difficult balance savvy merchants now have to strike. They need to be aware of how to utilize Amazon to reach their massive sea of shoppers while also considering how to build their own independent sales channels that don't leave them overly reliant on the eCommerce giant.”
12. Ezra Firestone
CEO of Smart Marketer and with a slew of other successful businesses under his belt, Ezra Firestone is more like a fireball of the digital marketing industry. Through Smart Marketer, Ezra offers online training and courses for ecommerce merchants and owners looking to boost their marketing efforts.
Tweeting out the resources he offers for free via the blog, as well as great resources for ecommerce owners of any size, Ezra is definitely one of the top experts to follow.
We asked Ezra what trend he thought would be the most useful for online sellers in 2018:
“Facebook Messenger Marketing”
The statistic that impressed him the most:
“That 80% of YouTube’s views are from outside of the U.S.”
Ezra’s advice for online sellers looking to boost their stores:
“Focus on re-engagement. A sale online today takes more than one touchpoint. The better you are at re-engagement the bigger your business will be.”
13. Bryan Eisenberg
You can’t have a list of digital experts without mentioning Bryan Eisenberg. Founder, entrepreneur, author, keynote speaker, and digital marketing guru all list on Bryan’s lengthy resume, as he brings nearly 20 years of experience to the table.
Today, he runs his own business, Buyer Legends, where he and his brother, Jeffrey Eisenberg, coach and mentor companies in their digital marketing strategy. He focuses on conversion and landing page optimization, co-authoring the best seller “Call to Action.”
He tweets about companies that are getting digital marketing right with plenty of useful examples, articles, and videos to help online merchants follow their lead. There’s no question as to why Bryan currently has 57.7K followers!
We asked Bryan what trend he thought would be the hottest in 2018:
“Video continues to be an increasingly valuable format for online marketers. I hope ecommerce businesses invest in creating videos that not only inform but entertain as well. My friends from Jigsaw Health have been working on their video content marketing for the past year. They then leveraged what pieces resonated to add a new video to this product.”
What’s the statistic that surprised you the most this year?
“Amazon has sold over 354 million different things. Just let that sink in.”
Bryan’s biggest tip for ecommerce merchants looking to grow:
“To build a brand and grow your business like Amazon, you need to build a growth flywheel like Amazon has with their four pillars of success.
Obsessively focus on the customer experience, innovate on their behalf, remain agile & execute daily and continuously optimize every aspect of your business. Building a great ecommerce business is about the brand reputation you establish and how remarkable your customers find you and your experience.”
14. Chris Lake
Chris Lake is the former Director of Content at Econsultancy, and currently a Digital Consultant with Orangeclaw, his own digital marketing consulting agency. With 20+ years experience in content and digital strategy, Chris has a wealth of information on getting your content and marketing to the level it needs to be.
Today he tweets on digital marketing, customer experience, conversion optimization, and innovation in the ecommerce and digital marketing industry. For the latest tips in this industry by a vetted digital marketing expert with years of experience to back him up, I suggest following Chris today!
We asked Chris what his top trend for 2018 would be:
“Advanced monetisation. A lot of sites have reached some kind of optimisation maturity, though there's still plenty of work to be done. The smarter operators are now in the business of using data to determine product placement, to help with promotions, category and search page optimisation, stock management, and supplier relationships. Inventory control is key to improving margins.”
What statistic surprised you the most this year?
“The Black Friday numbers for many retailers were crazy, with sales up 10x by mid-afternoon alone. I should think that's now established itself as a seasonal trend that's only going to get bigger in the years to come.”
His advice for ecommerce stores looking to boost sales:
“Structured optimisation. At the strategic level. I'm not talking about CRO or SEO or any other acronym ending in O, but the whole thing, understood and driven from the very top of the business. To know precisely which levers to pull, and why, and when. Also, I think a lot of firms are still really struggling with measurement and data, especially around the single customer view. That would be a very good thing to get on top of.”
15. Kunle Campbell
Kunle Campbell is a Growth Advisor consultant working with ecommerce and online companies to scale development quickly. He runs his own agency, 2x eCommerce, where he offers professional coaching through podcasts, webinars, and detailed guides.
Today, Kunle tweets about global ecommerce focusing in on underestimated and oft-forgotten markets that are developing rapidly. For the absolute best in global ecommerce news, and extra tips on cross border marketing and growth, following Kunle is a must!
What’s the biggest trend you would suggest jumping on for 2018?
“If you are under $2.5m / £2.5m in revenue, focus on scaling up customer acquisition and sales with Facebook Ads as early as possible in 2018.
If you have had 100,000 orders already come through, you are probably over £2.5m/$2.5m in revenue - your focus should be on getting at least 25% of that base of customers as returning customers. Email marketing and Facebook Ads will be key. Explore using Facebook Messenger Bots as a customer retention channel in 2018.”
What statistic surprised you the most this year?
“In the U.S during Black Friday Weekend: Amazon pulled in 45% of all online transactions on Thanksgiving Day and Walmart had a 13.9% share of total online transactions on Thanksgiving Day. On Black Friday, Amazon accounted for 54.9% of all online transactions and Walmart's share of transactions was 8.8%.
Shopify: Throughout the Black Friday Cyber Monday weekend, November 24th to 26th, Shopify merchants collectively generated over $1 billion in sales.”
Kunle’s advice for ecommerce merchants looking to kill it in 2018:
“Pay close attention to the Facebook advertising ecosystem. There are tremendous growth opportunities there at the moment. Seek help from an expert.”
16. Steve Chou
Steve Chou is the man all of us want to be: the man who made six figures off of his side hustle. Starting an online store with his wife, Jennifer, in 2007, the pair was able to replace her salary so she could quit her day job.
After their success, he launched a blog and ecommerce training site called My Wife Quit Her Job, where he offers free courses in how to launch a new ecommerce store and how to grow an established one. He also runs a podcast called “Bootstrapped Business” where he interviews successful entrepreneurs and ecommerce managers.
Today, he tweets on advice for entrepreneurs based on his own experience and growth tactics for those who want to take their ecommerce businesses further. For practical advice from someone who has been there and done that, follow Steve Chou!
We asked Steve what trend he thought would be the biggest in 2018:
“Facebook Messenger marketing”
What statistic surprised you the most this year?
“The fact that over 50% of ecommerce searches begin on Amazon.”
What advice would you give to online sellers looking to grow?
“My biggest tip would be to focus on selling more to your existing customers. A person who has shopped with you once is 67% more likely to buy from you again so you can easily expand your topline by marketing to people who are already familiar with your brand.”
17. Danny Halarewich
Founder and CEO of LemonStand, an ecommerce platform dedicated to customer experience customization, Danny Halarewich is an accomplished entrepreneur. Having launched several successful marketing and ecommerce startups over the years, Danny is the expert on getting significant growth for online store.
Today, Danny tweets on everything relevant to the ecommerce industry: news, tips, great advice, and staying sane while running your own business. Follow him for the best optimization and customer experience tips!
We asked Danny what trend would benefit ecommerce merchants the most in 2018:
“Subscription commerce. Consumers are really starting to warm up to the subscription eCommerce business model that companies like Birchbox, Harry's and Trunk Club popularized. But more than that, many online retailers are finding a lot of success by adding subscription models onto their traditional eCommerce model.
Many products fit the subscription model really well. Anything consumable is a no-brainer. Pet food, human food and beverage, beauty and hygiene, cleaning products, office art supplies. But that's just scratching the surface.
Many brands are finding success selling subscriptions for products that may surprise you at first blush, such as socks and underwear, toys, comic books and even sports racquets. Of course, clothing and fashion accessories can work well because people like to wear something new regularly.
So even if you don't want to be a pure subscription box company, you can offer it in addition to traditional eCommerce. Subscriptions can generate a base of reliable recurring revenue for your business, and loyal customers.”
What statistic surprised him the most recently:
“The average conversion rate of sites with content marketing is 2.9%, but the average conversion rate of sites without a content strategy is just 0.5%.
Of course content marketing helps you drive website traffic, but the fact that it increases conversion rates is interesting, but makes sense when you think about it. Content should help the buyer make a more informed decision and answer the questions that are preventing them from paying. If you do that well, you're more likely to get the sale.”
Danny’s advice for ecommerce merchants looking to grow:
“There's no silver bullet, so stop wasting time looking for one. I see many retailers searching for that 1 tip that's going to make all the difference for them and they just end up paralyzed and don't take action. There isn't 1 thing. There's 100.
Growth comes from well-planned, methodical and consistent improvements. Sure, there will be some that make a bigger difference than others, but most often you only realize that in hindsight.
So, put together a plan and execute. Measure the results, and repeat. Every. Single. Day.”
18. Linda Bustos
Linda Bustos is, in a word, impressive. Former manager of the GetElastic blog (one of the top ecommerce blogs worldwide, which she had a hand in developing from 200 daily readers to 20K), she is currently the Director of Merchant Strategy at Workarea.
Just killing it in her day job isn’t enough for Linda, she runs her own ecommerce consulting agency that focuses on strategy, site optimization and solution proposal, and customer experience and conversion optimization. You’d think that might be enough for one person, but this lady is a superhero- she’s also set to launch her upcoming book Ecommerce Illustrated.
Named one of the top direct marketers under 30, and featured in prominent publications such as Entrepreneur, Time, New York times, The LA Times, and Forbes, this is an expert who knows what she’s talking about. Today, she tweets on customer experience, user experience, and conversion optimization. For the latest and best tips to get your sales funnel pitch-perfect, follow Linda!
We asked Linda which ecommerce trend would be the most useful in 2018:
“There's no current breakout trend that hasn't been around for a while. Mobile, omnichannel, personalization, AI -- these are all becoming mainstream. One feature I predict more retailers will adopt in 2018 is Apple Pay to support one-touch conversions. Retailers still struggle to convert mobile traffic and that's one way to reduce the friction in mobile checkout.”
Which statistic surprised you the most this year?
“At Workarea, we track ecommerce metrics across over 200 online stores through our Commerce Intelligence Unit. This holiday season, it was interesting to see that Thanksgiving and Black Friday mobile traffic (55% of visits) held steady through the BFCM (Black Friday/Cyber Monday weekend) at 55-56% of visits.
This suggests shoppers aren't necessarily device switching from mobile to desktop to shop from work, school or home on Cyber Monday. Online retailers should consider that mobile marketing channels like social, push notifications and mobile search ads are opportunities to drive new customer acquisition during holiday sales events.”
If you could give one piece of advice to ecommerce owners looking to develop, what would it be?
“One very underused tactic is tracking trending product data in real-time, and making real-time merchandising decisions. The ability to identify once hot products that are starting to trend down helps retailers discount these slowing products quicker, ensuring they can keep turning over inventory at the highest margins.
Waiting too long to discount products can leave retailers with unsellable inventory. Keeping cooling products in regular priced category lists can also cannibalize visibility and click through of products that are trending up. Merchandisers can also use trending search data to identify trends for site merchandising, thematic categories, email features and social posts.”
The verdict is in: Facebook messenger marketing is a top trend to attack for 2018, while AI, communication, and personalization are the most mentioned.
These experts all have real experience in the ecommerce and digital marketing industry, and they were happy to share that information with us! The best way to grow your ecommerce store into a super giant is to follow in the footsteps of those who have done it themselves.
For more expert tips, subscribe to our Twitter list for a feed chock-full of great information.
What will you be focusing on in 2018?