So you’ve been through the gruel and grind of getting your shop online, suffered the late nights getting your business plan together, ironed out the bugs and quirks during development and pulled your hair out while adding products to your new site. Now the hard part’s done you can sit back and relax and watch the money come in, right? Wrong! The reality is often very different from this. After all your hard work, yes you are seeing some sales come through and customers signing up, but the return on your investment is lower than you would like, and the bounce rates and abandoned carts far too high. If this sounds like your situation then you’ve come to the right place. Read on for a selection of easy to implement, top tips, on how increase eCommerce sales.
Optimize For Mobile
Ensuring that your site is optimized for mobile is one of the first thing you can do to improve the experience for your customers. Right now over half of your visitors will be accessing your site on a mobile or handheld device, and people are becoming increasingly confident at making purchases on their mobile. Last year in the UK mobile purchases made up 28% of all online transactions, and this is increasing fast.
Another reason to go mobile is for SEO benefits. Since April 2015 Google has been penalizing websites that are not mobile-friendly and rewarding mobile-optimized websites, which is being reflected in their mobile search positions. Ensure that your website is built using a responsive design, which is Google’s recommended method of choice. But bear in mind that not all responsive designs are built equally, so speak to an agency that specializes in mobile optimisation to ensure you are getting the best option for your business.
Use Great Photography
The importance of quality photography to showcase your products should not be underestimated. However, this area of the project is often overlooked with clients restricting their budget to design and development, without considering product photography as an equally essential sales tool. Your potential customers now have a vast array of choices at their fingertips, with new ecommerce sites popping up every day selling the same products as you, and quite possibly at lower prices. It is therefore increasingly important to gain the upper-hand wherever possible, and improving the quality of your photography is great way to achieve this.
If you’re looking for inspiration, it’s always a good idea to see what the big brands are doing. Check out this post from Econsultancy, which shows some of the best examples of brands using photography to show off their products and includes the likes of Land Rover, Bang & Olufsen and Mulberry. These guys may have a much bigger budget than you, but you can certainly get some ideas on how to visually steal a march on your competition.
Build Customer Loyalty
Customer loyalty is the holy grail of online marketing. Gaining a customer and nurturing that customer so that they not only make future purchases, but also become a brand advocate and shout about your products from the rooftops, is the goal of every Ecommerce marketer. It is also an area where a small mistake can lead to big consequences, changing your perfect customer into a brand nemesis.
Luckily, there are some fairly simple methods you can use to maximize customer loyalty and minimize the potential for disaster. The key to improving customer loyalty is to make sure that their experience is a positive one at every turn.
Starting with the design of your website make sure that your brand logo is clear and recognisable and that your contact details are clearly visible. Your home page should be designed so that visitors immediately know which products you are offering, and what your USPs are. Always bear in mind the old adage that content is king, this is particularly true when selling products. We mentioned the importance of good photography in the previous section, but it is equally important to spend time refining the descriptions for each of your products. Take a look at what your leading competitors are doing, will your product be best described using bullet points, or a short succinct paragraph? Perhaps using a video to show the product in use would be beneficial, or links to PDF datasheets. Every product type is different, and it requires research and a trial and error process to find the optimal solution.
Special offers and discounts, email marketing and having a social media presence are also great ways to increase customer loyalty. For example, rewarding customers with discounted products after registering with your site, or providing a voucher code for completing a questionnaire, are ways to create a positive experience that they would not have been expecting. Using social media to communicate in real time with customers can also be very useful in nurturing leads, responding to questions about your brand, and dealing with unhappy customers. In fact, it is possible to convert an unhappy customer into one of your strongest brand advocates, by responding to their problem on social media.
In short, increasing customer loyalty is about making sure your customer’s journey is a positive one, from their first visit to your site, to their after-sales emails and social media communication. Focus on providing them with a fantastic experience and they could become one of your strongest brand advocates.
Capture Newsletter Signups
Capturing newsletter signups is an undervalued marketing tool, with many businesses omitting it altogether, or only adding it as an afterthought. In reality a newsletter signup feature is a fantastic way of passively marketing to your potential customers, particularly those who are in the early phase of the buyer’s journey. Getting a potential customer’s email address means that you have a direct line of communication. This enables you to keep them informed about your brand, send special offers and discounts, and entice them back to your store.
So how can you convince people to sign up? Well this is where you need to get creative… Make sure you offer them an incentive for signing up. For example, offer a 10% discount or free shipping on their first order, or enter them into a competition to win a product. The key here is to make the offer relevant to your industry and the products you are selling. The greater the value, the more chance of getting hold of that valuable email address.
Once you have your email list you can send out offers, news and promotional content. You can even setup automated marketing tools which can send out personalised communications to your contacts, helping to promote your brand while you sleep!
Cross Sell Your Products
Cross selling is the technique used to promote additional products to compliment a purchase. How many times have you been asked “Do you want fries with that?” when purchasing a burger, or “Do you also want cookies or a drink?” when buying a sub. These are both examples of cross selling and are a vital part of any marketing strategy.
This can easily be replicated in the online world too. Implementing a cross selling strategy on your ecommerce site can reap huge rewards, with Amazon attributing around 35% of its total sales to this method.
In order to do this you first need to setup a range of products which can be linked together. Magento and Woocommerce both have options to link cross-selling products easily, but the key is to ensure that the linked products complement each other in order to maximize conversion rates. Cross selling products that do not relate well to each other can appear pushy and have a negative effect on sales.
There are various places where cross selling can be positioned. The product details page can work well, e.g. Amazon’s famous “Customers who bought this item also bought” and “Frequently bought together”. The shopping cart page / checkout is another popular location, e.g. when purchasing flights you will be given options for an in-flight meal, seat selection and baggage upgrade before purchasing your tickets.
The secret is to be creative and by keeping in mind that you are assisting your customer with their purchase and making their life easier, you can reap huge rewards.
Using Social Media To Increase eCommerce Sales
The importance of social media to generate and assist with online business cannot be understated. The strength of a good social media strategy is the ability to have direct communication with real people, often in real time. If your ecommerce site is your shop window, then your social media page is your customer service desk, the shop assistant who helps you find what you are looking for, and the friendly cashier who asks you about your day.
To develop an effective social media strategy for your business, it is important to understand that social media marketing is all about brand awareness. Everything you post on your social pages should be done with the goal of enhancing your brand image with your customers and potential customers. Be helpful and informative, assist the customer who has had a bad experience, don’t delete their post. Good customer support can convert the most ardent critic into a brand advocate for life.
It is also worth noting whilst you should never try to use the “hard sell” with your social media followers, it is possible to find conversations that relate to your products and services and join the conversation. Always be cautious with this approach and convey yourself as an expert, not a salesperson. Offer help, advice and tips, and it could lead to a new follower or even a new customer. If the conversation leads to someone having a positive experience with your brand, then are likely to tell their friends about you. With social media marketing it pays to play the long game.
Offer Free Delivery
Free delivery is something we, as consumers, are becoming more and more accustomed to, particularly with the likes of Amazon and ASOS offering it as standard. With a multitude of competitors online all looking to undercut each other, it is often the invitation of free delivery that will win the buyers custom.
An important study was carried out by Worldpay in 2012 which involved 19,000 consumers and 153 employees from senior retail management positions. The study found that hidden fees were the largest factor in people dropping out of purchases, with delivery fees topping the list.
Not every business can afford to offer the levels of free shipping that the large online retailers provide. If this is the case for your business, then try offering free shipping on a selection of your products from your range that are cheaper to ship and analyse the results. Alternatively try offering free shipping on purchases over a certain value, which can have the added benefit of increasing your average order value, as buyers are more likely to add further products to their basket if they are already close to the threshold.
Automated Marketing Tools
Automated marketing is the process which companies use to automate, repetitive marketing tasks such as emails, social media posts and website processes. It can be used effectively to generate new business, nurture existing customers, and create positive brand awareness. And it can be particularly effective within the ecommerce arena.
There is a wide variety of marketing automation software available which will help streamline your marketing and increase your ROI per customer. Check out some of the benefits below, but bear in mind that this is only scratching the surface of what marketing automation can do for your business.
- Abandoned carts
This can be a major headache for ecommerce managers, but is one area which can be effectively managed by using automated email marketing. Abandonment emails can be sent out to users who have left products in their cart for a specified amount of time, offering them a time sensitive discount on these products. To get your creative juices flowing, check out some great examples of cart abandonment emails. The following article from Big Commerce (The Math Behind Abandoned Cart Email Success – and How to Set It Up to Earn 25% More Sales) is a great source of information and explains how you can capitalise on Abandoned Carts on your e-commerce website.
- Detailed Analytics
Most marketing automation software can be integrated with your standard analytics package to deliver an array of traffic and conversion statistics, giving you a fantastic insight into your users’ behaviour. You can find out the average number of products your visitors are viewing before making a purchase, the conversion rate from cart to checkout, which pages have the highest and lowest bounce rates, average order values from specific search phrases, and plenty more. This data can then be used to send out automated emails promoting products based on your visitors browsing history, which can lead to a much higher conversion rate.
- A/B Testing to optimize your product pages
Certain marketing automation tools provide you with easy access to A/B testing facilities. You can make small changes to the design and layout of your product page, such as changing the colour of the Add To Cart button, or changing the call to action font. Once you have made your changes, the software will send an equal number of visitors to each version of your pages to test the effectiveness of both. This will provide you with valuable data in order to keep improving your pages and achieve the optimal conversion rate.
Become An Industry Expert
High quality photographs and killer descriptions are extremely important and will help to lead a buyer towards the all-important purchase. But, don’t stop there! It also pays to develop a content strategy comprised of top tips, articles and blogs which will raise the profile of your business from “top seller” to “industry expert”. By creating a growing resource library of valuable content you will attract not only buyers in the final stage of their journey, but also people searching for relevant information relating to your industry. You can then link these articles to relevant products on your site, developing call to actions which will help drive conversions.
If your website sells clothing, why not write some fashion tips, or articles about the latest fashion trends. If you sell food products, write some recipes or expert cooking tips. If you sell technology products, why not write some expert reviews comparing the latest and greatest gadgets. If someone is frequently using your site as a resource, then you have a great chance of adding them to your mailing list. You can then use creative marketing to promote your products and convert them into a customer.
Measure, Measure And… Did I Mention Measure?
Measuring your sales and conversion data really is the key to ecommerce success. Without measuring what’s happening on a day to day basis how do you know what’s working and what is driving potential customers away?
Critical measurements such as order value, profit and revenue clearly need to be looked at, as do repeat customers, shopping cart abandonment and visitor conversion rates. But, the best approach to take when measuring your data is to define which marketing strategies are working and which are not. It is this knowledge alone that allows you to keep on improving and developing your strategies to provide a better ROI for your business.
When you are measuring what works, you need to bear in mind that every element on every page, is part of your overall marketing strategy and therefore can be measured. How effective is the colour or position of your add to cart button, or the font in your product title? Is the product description more effective positioned below the main image or adjacent to it? All of these elements can be measured by using A/B testing and there are a number of software tools available, ranging for £20 per month to £100,000 per year. A/B testing is the process of setting up 2 (or more) variations of the same page, and then seeing which one performs better, and some of these tools provide a fantastic range of features, allowing you to setup multiple variations, and select a segment of your customers to test on.
Measuring your marketing strategies, page elements, and website processes is an ongoing process and should be continually developed. The secret to a successful ecommerce site is to never stop leaning and never stop improving.