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eCommerce strategy tips for success

Okay then: you’ve used our guide to make some initial eCommerce plans, and you’ve implemented our wisdom on how to produce good quality content. Now it’s time to keep pushing the envelope!

In the first article, we likened running an eCommerce website to working on your personal fitness. That meant three stages:

  1. Set up for success – lay the foundations of a successful website and plan for social media backup
  2. Build basic strength – optimise your eCommerce pages for search engines and user experience
  3. Maintain your routine for results – continue to flex those marketing muscles to keep the sales coming

By now, you should have the first two stages covered off. If not, pay attention! You need to go back and get the basics right. But if everything is in place already, then we’re ready to look into what you can do to take your efforts to the next level...


Analyse your sales and visits

Firstly, you should make sure that your site is set up with Google Analytics. It’s a popular free tool that you can use to track where visitors arrive and how they got there. You can even set special eCommerce tracking to see how your customer journey is working.

AnalyticsSo, it’s particularly useful way to see how your wonderful new site and its content are performing. You should keep an eye out for several key factors connected to your site visitors, including:

  • Most popular search keywords
  • Most popular landing pages
  • Percentage of mobile users
  • Shopping cart behaviour (advanced knowledge required here)

The ultimate goal is to produce regular reports - whether you prefer weekly, monthly or quarterly - that can track buying trends and hopefully help you to anticipate customer behaviour over time. Not only will a report help you identify your successes, it should also give you an insight into what could be improved.


Keep up the house cleaning

It’s fairly essential to do a little tidying in a real shop every now and then, and a virtual shop is no different. Where a badly maintained brick-and-mortar shop can lead to a bad reputation and lost customers, so can a neglected eCommerce site.

Website Maintenance

Cleanliness, godliness, etc.

(Stat: Kissmetrics / Image from FreeImages.com: Roma Flowers)

Make sure to use Search Console to check on the status of your pages. Close in on any Crawl Errors and determine whether they are a temporary oversight or an ongoing issue. If you have discontinued a product and deleted its page, you should investigate using 301 redirects to make customers arrive on one of your functional pages.

Otherwise, there’s a risk of your site looking poorly organised to Googlebot and human visitors alike. And that’s bad for both SEO and user experience, which can potentially translate to “not being found” or “not being liked by your visitors”.


Check your directory submissions

One of the big bad truths of online marketing recently was found in a recent online article about the death of SEO. If you have neither the time nor the energy to read it, we’ll summarise it for you: SEO still actually exists, but it needs to focus on optimising for all search engines, not just Google.

That means optimising your online presence for websites with search facilities, including Yell.com, Google+, or Facebook. For you, this means making sure that your website URL is listed in relevant directories, whether that be for eCommerce businesses, wholesale businesses, or whatever else applies to your enterprise.


Don’t be anti-social (...media)

Social networks are a great place to meet customers on their own territory. If you run an eCommerce business, then you should maximise your social efforts to ensure that their products arrive under your client’s noses. This is especially true if you don’t have a physical shopfront - you need to make the most of virtual spaces!

So, as we suggested in the first eCommerce blog of this series, you should already be thinking about where your customers are hanging out. Make sure to diversify your platforms as much as possible without biting off more than you can chew. Platforms you should consider are:

  • Facebook - for almost any eCommerce shop
  • Twitter - see “Facebook”
  • Instagram - any eCommerce site that uses imagery (i.e., any site)
  • Pinterest - see “Instagram”
  • LinkedIn - B2B sales, IT equipment, stationery, furniture
  • Google+ - see “Facebook”

Now, that may seem like a lot of work developing, but you shouldn’t shy away from this responsibility for several reasons:

  1. It’s free advertising on the doorstep of all your customers
  2. You can automate and schedule posts across most of these platforms
  3. You can also replicate your image posts across multiple platforms
  4. It gives you direct access to customer feedback on your products and services

That’s right, social media is a great place to test the waters with a fledgling ad campaign. If the products or their images don’t get a lot of attention, it may be worth focusing your efforts on other items.

Just make sure to put forward your friendliest face (literally, if you have anyone in the business who doesn’t have a “face for radio”), whether it’s responding to customer queries or updating your followers on the latest news around the business. People like to buy from businesses they can trust, so give them a good reason to splash the cash.


Reward loyalty with love

They’re nothing new, and they have worked for decades already: a good loyalty programme can encourage repeat custom and make your buyers feel rewarded as well. Whether you want to use third-party software, commission your own app, or send out an email the (increasingly) “old-fashioned” way; you can win vital bonus points in the eyes of your customers.

It may seem like a big business tactic, but advertising and marketing research by experts Manta and BIA/Kelsey found that 64% of USA small businesses found customer loyalty schemes had been “effective”. In plain English, this means they made more money than they spent on the scheme.

Repeat customers spend more (67%) than first-time visitors and are more motivated to spread the word about a repeat business. A loyalty programme can help a small business compete not only against local rivals, but also against nationwide or global competitors who offer schemes but can’t provide that personal touch as easily.


Chase those reviews

People can’t get enough of stars, whether it’s for local search results, product reviews, or poorly considered tattoos (yes, we went there). Social proof can be an incredibly powerful weapon in your armoury. If your eCommerce site has a Product Review facility, then make sure to follow up a sale with an email asking for a review a little while later.

It works for Amazon, so there’s no reason it shouldn’t work for you.

If you don’t have that facility, you can still chase up some positive feedback. Ask your customer to post a review on Google+, Yell.com or a similar business aggregating platform. Failing that, you can put any written feedback as a testimonial for the product or your business: just make sure to ask permission to use the customer’s words online first.

Review and TestimonialsFor our final tip, never underestimate the power of a good freebie. If you can donate one of your products as a free gift in exchange for a review - either online or print - then you’ll be encouraging publicity at the expense of just one sale.


Get selling!

So, you're all set to start selling. To summarise, the major takeaways from this final article are:

  1. Track and report on your traffic and sales.
  2. Remove dead links and old URLs regularly.
  3. Find and submit your website URL to high quality directories
  4. Use social media to test product popularity and engage customers
  5. Make a loyalty programme to encourage repeat purchasing
  6. Actively pursue good reviews to encourage new shoppers

That’s all from our three-part guide to getting the best out of your eCommerce website. For more tips on marketing, SEO, and running a small business; bookmark our blog page, and check in on our social media posts regularly.

Now, go get those sales!

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