In case you hadn’t guessed it from the name, but I’ll be writing about eCommerce and all things associated with it within the hallowed (virtual) walls of this blog. The key theme will always be around ideas to ultimately help you sell more stuff online, to more people, for as little marketing spend as possible! So if that’s what you’re interested in/dream about/live for – then you’re in the right place. Otherwise, go here.
So let me cut to the chase. I want to respond to a question that I’m regularly asked by clients, colleagues, journalists, prospects and peers in one form or another: “How do you ensure continued revenue growth (online) during a downturn.”
I could spend a long time covering everything from customer acquisition to conversion and retention but the reality is, it’s actually the same stuff you should’ve been doing all along that you need to continue to do. The trouble is, a vast majority of eCommerce owners (let’s call them eTailers) haven’t even been doing the basics right but they’ve still experienced growth over the past few years.
Well ding dong, those days are now over and the current recession is shaking the apple tree: If your eCommerce site is working hard for its money, then you’ll cling on and prosper. If you’re a ‘me too’ that fails to innovate, engage and attract, then your sharper, shrewder competitors will eventually win over your precious customers and you will lose business.
As a starter for ten, here are some basic tips to get you on your way to eCommerce Zen:
(For those more advanced readers, do bare with me while everyone else gets up to speed)
Tip 1: Understand your customer
Your customer is the most important part of your business (it’s amazing how often this is forgotten). It’s not the CEO and certainly not the design department’s urge to create everything in Flash – it really is the customer.
Bricks and mortar retailers practice this every day but it is strangely absent on most eCommerce websites. People are still being bombarded with irrelevant branding and marketing messages and the Splash page seems to be celebrating an unholy revival.
It’s more important than ever to now really understand your online customer. If you understand them, then you’ll know what they want to get out of your site. Finding out about your customer is easy; use a quick online customer survey. 4Q, for example, do these for FREE. There is absolutely no excuse why you shouldn’t do this. It takes about three minutes to get it done. You’ll be amazed at what your online customer is willing to tell you.
Tip 2: Segment your email database
Segmentation is the first step to pushing relevant content to your customers. Sending product emails aimed at females to men is certainly not doing you any good. If you haven’t got a segmented database, then launch an email questionnaire with a few simple questions. Send this to your database and they will do the segmentation for you. This way you can also clean out any cold leads.
Sending targeted emails to a segmented database really will increase your conversions and make you more money – I guarantee it!
Tip 3: Optimise your landing pages
You can easily extract what your landing pages are, (that includes your homepage), and how they perform using a tool such as Google Analytics. Once you’ve done this, check the pages with a really high bounce rate and related keywords from both natural and PPC and then measure how they perform over time.
Once you have identified the black holes, you need to get your landing pages up to scratch so that they can start delivering results. For example, if a visitor has searched for “child seats” and you get them to a page where they see car stereos… then it’s no wonder they leave you instantly. By correlating keywords to landing pages, the changes you’ll need to make become obvious.
This is what I call low hanging fruit. By doing a bit of spring-cleaning on your landing pages, you’ll very quickly start seeing some positive results. And yes, you may well need to create many of these pages but it really is worth it in the end.
Tip 4: Test your site
Testing is free! The CEO’s (him again) partner’s opinion is just as valid as yours but now you can prove which one is delivering better results using some basic A/B testing. Use Google Website Optimizer (it’s free, it’s good, there are many others out there but this is a good place to start) to setup your A/B or Multi-variant tests and see how the individual variations perform. Continue testing until you’re happy with the results you’re getting.
Tip 5: Act on your findings
Ok so not really a tip but all too often we see clients collecting vast amounts of data but then letting the reports gather dust. From all the above, you have to drive change. That might be tougher than you think. But if you thoroughly execute the recommendations above and then act on the quantitive data at your fingertips, you will reap the rewards and live to fight another day!
Over and out.