Do’s and Don’ts: How to Build Your 2021 E-commerce Marketing Plan

MediaGo Staff | 01/27/2021

After a whirlwind year, many aspects of e-commerce and marketing have evolved – and some of these changes are here to stay. Brick-and-mortar stores saw revenues decline as shoppers took shelter from the COVID-19 pandemic and turned to the internet, doubling e-commerce projections in 2021 to $843.15 billion in online sales, according to eMarketer. This unprecedented growth and shift to online shopping should be capitalized on and prioritized in your 2021 marketing plan. 

Other e-commerce trends with rapid growth were “buy online, pick up in store” (BOPIS) and curbside pickup services. TotalRetail reports that the adoption of BOPIS accelerated from 66% to 76% in 2020, while curbside pickup increased from 4% to 58% in the same period. 

With these changes to the retail landscape, you might be asking yourself how to approach marketing in the new normal. Here are a few do’s and don’ts to take into account when crafting your plans for 2021:


  1. …form a relationship with your audience through your ads and various social media channels. Leverage messaging and non-sales posts on social media to highlight your company’s personality and values.
  2. … highlight shipping and pickup options, such as BOPIS, curbside pickup or expedited shipping to provide ample options for safety-conscious shoppers. This may attract new consumers who are unable to find a similar experience from other e-commerce providers. 
  3. …refresh your budgets to reach new goals. When we previously shared the top digital advertising trends for 2021, we noted that display and search ad spend are both projected to increase by 27.8% and 24.6% respectively. With many people continuing to stay at home this year, digital ads will remain the best bet to reach your audience where they are spending most of their time and should make up the bulk of your marketing spend.


  1. …limit yourself to one medium. It’s hard to stand out from the crowd, so you’ll want to spread your brand’s message through a variety of channels. A well-balanced marketing plan should incorporate your owned channels, including your website and social media channels, earned exposure through public relations, as well as paid campaigns such as display, native and search engine advertising.
  2. …exploit the pandemic in your ads. As we reach mile 20 in the figurative COVID-19 marathon battle, there will be times when pushing your product won’t make the most sense. Choose your timing and messaging wisely to avoid appearing insensitive to current events. 
  3. …rely on last year’s marketing KPIs. Take into account changes in the market brought on by COVID-19 in your 2021 goals. Review your 2020 results carefully to see where you should make adjustments to prepare for 2021. 

As we look forward to 2021 with hope of a brighter year, it is important to leverage the learnings and experience gained in 2020. Be mindful of how the industry and consumer purchasing behaviors have evolved, and adapt your plans accordingly.