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Your A-Z Guide on Running a Successful E-Commerce Business

June 26, 2017
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The Internet has gradually taken over our world since the invention of the World Wide Web in 1989. Each year we have more access to things over the Internet such as ordering groceries to be delivered to your doorstep or booking a dog sitter for your next trip.

The amount of online shopping being done has increased dramatically due to the fact that people prefer the ease of browsing online from the comforts of their own home instead of taking time out of their days to go into a physical store. This would explain why in 2016, e-commerce sales have grown from $72 billion to $101 billion since 2014, and this number will only continue to rise.

The change in shopping behavior from in-store to online has made the e-commerce industry more competitive. Running a successful e-commerce business nowadays requires more than just the launch of the site. An intricate digital marketing plan is necessary to ensure that you are maximizing your exposure and capturing all of your potential customers out there.

Your future buyers could be on any channel at any time, and you need to make sure that you put them in your marketing funnel to build awareness, develop trust by providing value, and then drive them to ultimately make a purchase.

Online advertising has become much more cutthroat with increased competition in the landscape. To help you stay competitive within this space, I’m sharing some actionable strategies from successful e-commerce companies that I’ve worked with to help improve your business’ bottom line.

Increase Targeted Traffic To Your Site

Obviously, we always want to have more site visitors, but how do we increase targeted and qualified traffic to the site? The solution is to create informational content in the form of blog posts in order to provide real value to your potential customers.

Blogs can help you drive leads to your site while also boosting your ranking in organic search. Blog content is a great way to educate people and build rapport with both new and existing customers. It’s your opportunity to showcase your brand and what your culture is about. By sharing high quality content that users find helpful and interesting, you are building trust with your audience.

Related: How To Write the Perfect SEO-Optimized Blog Post in 5 Easy Steps

Can’t figure out what to write? We generally like to write blogs answering frequently asked questions related to your industry. You can use the data gathered from the search bar on your site to figure out what people are searching for the most and write a blog around that. If there’s a marketing initiative coming down the pipeline to promote a certain product, you can write a blog around it to support the initiative.

You can also consider what your customers would want to know before buying a product, and once they have the product, how they would use it. The best way to approach blogging is to create a blog content calendar, first figure out what your goals are and then plan out what type of content to push out.

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Integrate Facebook Business Page To Your Marketing Plan

Facebook should be an extension of your online advertising strategy as it’s a great place to build trust with your fans and create a community where people can congregate. Facebook’s newsfeed has become a mixture of personal and business updates, so it’s important to build a relationship with your fans before trying to sell them. You want to give people a reason to find value in becoming your fan and entice them to like your page first, then build trust on the value that you can provide them.

Push out a variety of content by asking questions for people to answer, tips about the products, picture quotes, interesting videos, or content around trending topics to create engagement. Always make sure you include a CTA such as vote on this poll, share with friends, reply with comment, click this link, take this quiz, etc. Figure out what resonates with your fans the most and then use the strategy that has proven to get the most engagement.

Related: 4 Social Media Posts Guaranteed to Boost Your Engagement

We also recommend running promotions on a monthly basis to link users back to your site. You can consider offering exclusive discounts or promotions to Facebook fans only as it will help build your fan base.

Use Facebook Ads To Drive More Users To Your Site

Not only should you use Facebook to build a community around your brand, you should also use Facebook ads to help drive additional users to your site beyond your fans. Mixing organic and paid reach will help you capture more people as you are increasing the frequency you show up in people’s newsfeed.

Related: 7 Tips for A/B Testing Your Facebook Ads

Think of Facebook ads as TV-like advertisements except you have the ability to target people based on their interests and behavior, and you can get really granular with your targeting to ensure you are driving the most qualified traffic to your site.

Similar to the organic posts, you’ll want to continually A/B test to determine what’s resonating with your audience the most. Facebook ads are definitely worth allocating some of your marketing budget towards as we have found this platform to be the most lucrative channel for some of our e-commerce clients.

Use AdWords To Capture Searchers Looking For Your Products

AdWords is another powerful channel you can use to drive more visitors to your site. Typically, the users will be much more qualified from AdWords as there is the intent of buying when people are searching online. You want to make sure that your ads are shown to searchers who are looking for your branded products and even for non-branded terms, which can help you increase exposure to your brand.

Related: Getting Started with Paid Advertising

Make sure to set up your AdWords campaigns and ad groups following the structure of your site. Additionally, your ads should be highly relevant to your keywords while calling out the Unique Selling Propositions. Utilize ad extensions to capture more real estate on the Search Engine Results page which can also help increase your CTR.

Spy On Competitors To Understand The Landscape

If all of your competitors are offering a 20% off discount for Memorial Day, you will be at a huge disadvantage if you don’t offer the same or even something better. It’s important to have a good gauge on what other companies in your industry are offering to get a competitive advantage.

Focus on your top 5-7 biggest competitors that are ranking in the same space as you, you can use similarweb.com or SEMrush to get that information.

  • Check out their site and the user experience, go through their purchase process, and see what they are doing that you are not.
  • Sign up for their email sequence to get an idea of what that looks like and what promotions are being offered.

Related: How to Outsmart Your Competition in AdWords

  • Take a look at their social media channels and how active they are on their posts.
  • Identify the keywords they are bidding on by using SpyFu or SEMrush. The ones your competitors are spending the most money on are likely the winners or else they wouldn’t be wasting their advertising dollars there. You should consider adding them to your AdWords campaign if they make sense or are relevant to your business.

Determine the most important metrics you want to track for each channel and set them as your benchmark to give you an idea on where you stand with your competitors.

Design Your Site With User Experience In Mind

Your site design can make or break your e-commerce business. Oftentimes we see clients offer great products on a not-so-great site and it doesn’t end up driving the results they want.

First and foremost, it’s more important now than ever to make sure your site is responsive to all devices. A study done by Wolfgang Jaegel shows that “83% of mobile users say that a seamless experience across all devices is very important”, and another study by MicKinsey & Company shows that “61% of users are unlikely to return to a mobile site they had trouble accessing and 40% visit a competitor’s site instead”. It’s crucial to make sure you cater to the mobile audience or you will lose out on a lot of potential sales.

Another key factor to improving the user experience is your site speed, if it takes a long time to load then people are likely to leave right away especially on mobile devices.

You’ll also want to provide ease during the checkout process as we typically see a lot of users drop off during this stage because it’s too complicated or long-formed.

Don’t be afraid to keep testing. Sometimes you might have your mind set on a layout but if it’s not optimized for conversions and catered to your users’ needs, it will not drive the results you want. Make sure you are always looking at what’s working and what’s not, use tools like VWO or Crazy Egg to implement a/b tests and get insights from the heat map, click map, and scroll map to help you determine what to test.

Use GA Metrics To Track Data And Gather Insights

Google Analytics can provide really great insights to help you understand what is working and what is not. Take a look at Conversion -> Ecommerce -> Product Performance to see which products are bringing in the most revenue, this will help you determine what products you should focus on and maybe move this product to the top of the page.

You can also look at Acquisition -> All Traffic -> Channels to see which channel is bringing in the most traffic and revenue and focus on maximizing the potentials there. Conversion rate and engagement metrics are also important, take a look at pages per session, average session duration, and bounce rate to understand user behavior once they are on your site.

Related: How to Set Up Dashboards in Google Analytics

Check your overall site user experience often to identify where people are dropping off the most by looking at Behavior -> Behavior Flow and figure out why people are dropping off in order to fix their frustrations.

It’s All About The Products

How successful can your e-commerce site be if you don’t have a good product offering? Start by putting your focus on the top 20% best sellers. Use GA to figure out which products those are and work on increasing the time on site, decreasing the bounce rate, and ultimately get more add to carts and purchases. Capitalize on the working element and then apply it across the board.

Another way to increase revenue is by identifying the products that have the highest margin and offer the biggest discounts for these products to give your customers a sense that they have won a great deal.

You also want to make sure you showcase product reviews on the site. 73% of online shoppers trust customer reviews more than personal recommendations. Reviews offer a level of transparency to build trust, having a good blend of good and bad reviews will actually benefit you as it won’t seem fake to your users. Follow up emails are the best way to gain more reviews, you can even offer a 10% off on the next order to incentivize people to leave reviews.

Free shipping is another big element as most sites offer it nowadays and it has become a necessary selling point. You can set a minimum order requirement in order to qualify for free shipping, this will increase the chance of people spending more and ultimately raise your AOV (average order value).

As for your shopping cart, make sure it’s easy to customize and edit the cart. You want to provide the option to remove items from the cart without people having to leave the page. Have the cart accessible on every page of the site to break down barriers and shorten the number of clicks to get to it.

Give users the option to create an account after they purchase instead of making it a requirement before the purchase as most people will get discouraged and drop off here. Offer guest check out as an option and you can capture their information during the checkout process for use in email marketing in the future.

Remarketing To Help You Capture People Who Didn’t Purchase

Studies shows that only 2% of online shoppers actually convert, so there are 98% of visitors who you should be retargeting. This strategy can also help you upsell and cross-sell previous purchasers on other products. You can build your audience based on user behavior such as cart abandoners or viewers of specific product pages and tailor your messaging to speak to these audiences directly.

Related: How to Get the Most Out of Your Facebook Retargeting

Implementing these marketing tactics for your e-commerce business can help you maximize results, and you might even notice an uptick in performance immediately after deploying some of these strategies. It might seem like a huge overhaul at first, but keep in mind these tactics have proven to drive results for successful e-commerce companies and can help improve your business bottom line as well.

Start by rolling out the strategies that can easily be implemented then plan out a schedule to incorporate the rest into your marketing plan moving forward. Do what makes the most sense to your business and will make the most impact to your bottom line. Over time each of these marketing efforts will start to affect the volume of traffic and conversions on your site and ultimately grow your brand.




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