eCommerce Websites

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It’s easy to set up an online business with a laptop and an internet connection; however, eCommerce websites, in particular face significant competition. For your online venture to become a real success, you need to be willing to invest a considerable amount of time understanding your target customer, planning and refining your eCommerce strategy.

What separates all great eCommerce websites from the rest can be attributed to the following strategies.

Start by building an effective website.

Your website acts as a representative of your business — it’s a virtual shop front where audiences can interact with your store.  Ecommerce websites need to be visually appealing, easy to use, answer consumer needs and rank well in the search engine results.

Successful stores not only follow eCommerce website best practices but go further with intuitive navigation; delivering a mobile-friendly experience on every device. All product descriptions, category or service pages have carefully crafted, well-written, and SEO optimised content that targets audience needs and conversions.

The checkout process is an area where so many potential sales fall by the wayside; the checkout journey must be as quick and simple as possible. So, when someone decides to purchase, they are not forced to go through a lengthy account setup process to buy one item. Instead, allow your visitors to checkout as a guest or log in using their social media account; providing them with an option to create an account after their order is complete.

To build trust amongst their audiences, successful eCommerce stores include genuine customer reviews, ratings and testimonials. Social proof provides evidence to shoppers that others have made a purchase and are happy with their shopping experience — making it easier for others to feel confident when placing an order with your store.

With so many opportunities to start an online business, from selling t-shirts to handmade crafts or pet supplies, it’s easy to overlook the needs of the customer in the haste of website setup.  What’s important to remember, regardless of your business idea, is website efficiency plays a significant role in the success of your eCommerce business.  Thoroughness is the key; the slightest oversight or bug can have a detrimental effect on website performance and sales conversions.

Outperform competitors with content marketing.

All successful eCommerce websites take full advantage of content marketing to set themselves apart from the competition. Your website blog is an opportunity to share regular, valuable SEO optimised content with existing customers and potential customers.

Thorough research and analysis of keywords and topics in your industry enable you to discover essential drivers of customer intent while providing the foundation for a successful content strategy. A well-planned content strategy will significantly impact the success of your blog through increased search visibility and audience awareness.

Over time, raising awareness of your brand helps you better identify with your audience, build trust and increase conversions. Many are not aware; someone who discovers an eCommerce website through the organic search results is eight times more likely to buy than those who have clicked on a paid search ad.

When it comes to effective content marketing, it’s all about quality over quantity. Publishing a quick 200-word blog post every day isn’t going to provide much value to shoppers. So, eCommerce websites need to approach their content strategy somewhat differently than sites offering services only and requires a three-pronged approach;

  1. For each product, emphasise the benefits by discussing how your product will help simplify or solve your audience’s problem.
  2. For each category, include a meaningful description with an overview of the products, use and the issues they help resolve.
  3. Blog articles should address the needs of your audience; be engaging, answer questions, educate and help guide viewers in their purchase decisions, and always include a call-to-action.

Track, analyze and learn: essential insights to accelerate growth.

For those who have wondered, why certain websites seem to rank with greater ease than others — the secret is through close monitoring of website performance and business finances. Great stores track, analyse and learn from the data collected to understand issues and optimise every page of their website to fast track business growth.

Google Analytics is a proven tool, which enables merchants to track and analyse crucial website performance through statistical analysis. By keeping an eye on the number of visitors, where they come from, the time they spend on each page, and website conversions aid in identifying problems and how to resolve those issues.

Successful websites monitor search engine rankings regularly, they understand the importance of backlinks and can draw quick conclusions based on a variety of website metrics that reveal a site’s underlying health. These metrics, combined with other on-page factors, are clear indicators of the site’s ability to rank for particular keywords relevant to the products or services it provides.

Organic traffic is essential to website success, with those unable to rank on page one for competitive terms, doomed to suffer the inevitable dependence on pay-per-click schemes and high marketing costs.  High marketing costs reduces profitability and remains the primary cause of why so many businesses fail today.  Building a consistent flow of targeted organic traffic to your website is not only the most cost-effective way to grow your audience but also offers the highest rate of sales conversion.

Customer feedback essential to your content strategy

Asking for audience feedback and fine-tuning your website is what sets all successful eCommerce websites apart.  Audience input is an invaluable tool used by successful stores to increase customer experience, engagement and sales conversions.

Customer feedback provides a realistic idea of just how well your store is answering the needs of your audience and often provides insights on how to improve your store.  Fine-tuning your store to meet customer needs is the best way to attract glowing reviews and testimonials — another tool in your website arsenal to aid customer conversions.

Cash flow problems are symptomatic of your planning and marketing strategies. Here are some key points you need to consider to avoid floundering and strengthen your chances of success;

  1. From the outset, obtain a thorough understanding of whom your target customer is and the viability of your product through critical market analysis.
  2. Once you have a snapshot of your target market, consider your marketing needs; factoring your short-term sales and long-term growth with a balance of pay-per-click, content marketing and SEO. Calculate your marketing costs 12 months in advance — understanding your marketing costs is crucial to financial planning.
  3. Formulate a plan. Building a solid business foundation is crucial; the lack of planning is the underlying reason for the majority of businesses failures. Map out your business path to profitability.
  4. Continue to track, analyse and learn.

Connecting with your audience through customer service.

Another key factor which separates all great eCommerce websites from the competition is customer service. However, no matter how good your products are, it’s the quality of the customer service, which ensures your store’s success.  Poor customer service dampens conversions and quenches any possibility your customers returning and those all-important recurring sales.

Customers are quick to criticise and slow to praise, so it’s essential to strive for the best possible customer experience at all times.  And, if you do slip up, be quick to accept the blame and do your utmost to overcome the problem and compensate for any customer inconvenience.

It’s important to remember; customers have an incredible array of online tools available to them to share and leverage bad experiences online with reviews sites like Trustpilot and their social media accounts.

There’s simply no way to hide from negative reviews online; negative feedback can cause severe damage to your website’s reputation and sales conversions, making positive reviews essential to your site’s success.  Positive feedback spreads quickly.  Word of mouth reviews is an effective way to increase brand awareness and attract new customers.

Removing customer apprehension with a good returns policy.

All great eCommerce websites have nailed all the basic principles of customer service; they are easy to contact via email, phone or live chat and provide quick response to issues as they arise.  Prominently display an accommodating returns policy on your website to make it easy for customers to return unwanted goods.  Your returns policy can greatly influence a customer’s decision to purchase by removing any fear or hesitation they may have in placing their first order.  Fresh Desk offers some insightful tips for those wishing to strengthen their customer service skills which your customers will no doubt appreciate.

By investing a little extra time and effort helping your audience make the right purchase decision or by resolving their issues may increase order costs but inevitably results in greater customer loyalty.

Discover the right social strategy to leverage your business.

Social media can provide significant leverage for some industries in capturing new audiences and maintaining customer interest, while others experience lacklustre results.  For some, Facebook is a proven lead magnet for their target market, while others may experience better results from Instagram.

Rising interest media channels like SnapChat and Tik Tok have even proved worthwhile in some markets while being futile for others.  Careful analysis of your target audience and testing the validity of each media channel for your market is essential in getting the most from your investment dollar.

To get the most from your social media presence, regular posts and sharing insights into the products you sell helps engage your audience and build a strong following.

Social media accounts enable audiences an effortless way to complain and shame any business.  How well you combat negative feedback is crucial to your websites continued success, however, ignoring negative comments is not the solution.  Careful monitoring and prompt response of social channels is your best way to address issues before they get out of hand.

Your aim when using social media, should focus on improving customer experience and building your audience and traffic, a strategy used by all successful eCommerce websites.

Capture your audience by building your email list.

Email lists are still undeniably the best way to engage existing and new customers while remaining relatively inexpensive to keep in touch. Email lists are not vulnerable like social media profiles, nor subject to editorial review. You’re free to express your offer to your audience whenever your heart desires, and more importantly, continue to regularly engage your audience and build your brand. Email lists lower your dependence on pay per click marketing while increasing profitability.

In our upcoming article we will discuss in more detail why email marketing is not dead and why building your email list should be on your priority list.  Neil Patel has written an informative article on how to get your email list to 5 digits and beyond, definitely worth a read.

Last thoughts.

Ultimately what separates great eCommerce websites from the rest is their ability to plan and adapt. The above-mentioned strategies are not overly challenging to implement, but does require the right platform and require a significant amount of work and determination to achieve your website’s full potential.