Right – so you have your beautiful looking website filled with products and some slick technology that lets people pay you online. You must be raking it in, right?
Hmm…not so much? Don’t panic, but there is a bit more to it when making your e-commerce website a success.
Having a great site is a bit like opening a new bricks-and-mortar shop. Nice to have and some passing (or scrolling) by might see it, though probably not enough footfall or traffic to keep it open too long!
Digital marketing is the next step to push your products and services out to the wider world. There’s an overload of information out there already, much of it bursting with jargon and articles conflicting with each other about what exactly you should be doing.
However, we have filtered the facts, distilled the skills and condensed the content into something substantial that you can start applying today:
SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) is the practice of adapting features of your website to increase your visibility on search engines like Google and Bing. This includes using popular keywords across the content of your website – from the website address or URL, to your images and product descriptions.
For e-commerce it can be a real challenge to compete with many others who are selling the same products and therefore, competing to rank high in search results for the same brand names. There may be practical ways you can compete, like price for example. Though what you can compete on is where you are based. If your business is based in Northern Ireland, you can attract customers that are searching for things like “wedding shoes Northern Ireland”.
You can go even deeper with your local SEO especially if you are targeting NI customers specifically eg. “football boots dungannon” to target people searching for specific products near them.
It’s important to make sure your product images are defined with alt text. This is a short description to indicate what is in the image to allow search engines to index it and therefore, understand better what your product page is about.
Bloggers are powerful influencers that are worth contacting to write reviews of your products. This type of externally generated content will give your customers more confidence in what you are selling and it will also provide a backlink to your website, which is a strong signal to search engines to rank you higher in their results.
2.Pay Per Click Advertising
PPC (Pay Per Click) advertising is something else worth considering if you’re confident in what you offer on your website and want to push more traffic via search engines by investing in boosting your visibility on Google.
One important type of PPC advertising to take advantage of is Google Product Listing Ads (PLAs)or Google Shopping Ads. These don’t depend on specific keywords but instead are listed by product names and product categories. They will also include a product image within Google search results. The image below shows a search for ‘Northern Ireland shirt’ – these are PLAs. Users can click on ‘Shop for northern ireland shirt on Google’ to compare options or just click on the option directly.
If you sell a range of products that are niche such as snooker tables or a unique health food, then you could make serious gains on your ecommerce success by running a Google PLA campaign. However, if you are in a highly competitive avenue for products like “shoes” then you’re going to find it tougher to make the impact on sales you want it to (unless your budget has lots of 0’s on the end).
You would also need to have an offering of at least 500 products in order to get decent visibility with your PLA campaign. The good news though, is that for most small businesses out there you can achieve success for a budget of around £750 which is only spent when people click on your ad.
Having a website that has been developed with care and expertise will also give you higher visibility as Google takes the reputation of the links on your PLA campaigns into account.
Email Marketing is still one of the most effective forms of communication, especially if you are aiming at selling to other businesses. Having that valuable place inside the inbox of a relevant customer can produce results.
You can direct traffic to your latest blog posts, promote a special offer or a new product with a targeted email campaign that is succinct and well written in a way your customers will understand. A catchy subject line and carefully crafted email content can ensure you are a trusted sender that doesn’t end up in a spam folder.
Email marketing is an extremely cost effective way of promoting your e-commerce presence that is trackable, measurable and targeted towards the people you need to see it.
4.Social Media Marketing
There are so many social media platforms out there these days, it can be difficult to know where you time and money are best invested to get any success.
For your ecommerce site, it is difficult to look past Facebook with over 1.59 billion global users and 53% of Northern Ireland’s population using it every day. Even though recent changes in how they display posts organically means it’s harder to get seen – it is still possible to get good traction and results.
Competitions to give away products, offer exclusive discounts or vouchers are extremely effective. A simple combination of liking, sharing, commenting and tagging will provide you with the best chance for a successful competition.
You can use Twitter to promote your products and content here using relevant hashtags eg. #NikeTrainers. Twitter is a strong platform for your business to provide customer service and engage with your customers to provide resolutions to their queries.
LinkedIn is a great network for business to business marketing and joining relevant groups to discuss relevant business trends. It has the feel of a business networking event that you might attend with the added bonus of being a social network you can promote your products and services.
Instagram is powerful for building awareness of your products and encouraging people to interact with your business online. Similar to Twitter, the relevant hashtags you include in a post are important in attracting the right customers.
Embedding your Instagram feed inside your website can add a nice visual of your products and also improve your SEO by reducing your site load time. Encouraging your customers to take photos using your products and sharing them on your own feed (maybe even thanking your customer in the post) is great practice to encourage others to trust your brand and choose your products over others out there.
Snapchat is hugely popular amongst teenagers and young adults but is expanding beyond that recently. You can use it to share short video messages and photos known as ‘stories’ to engage with your target audience and even provide exclusive Snapchat offers to gain more followers.
It isn’t quite as easy to measure or present reporting data on how effective it is just yet. There are some third party applications out there such as Snaplytics which can help, though for now it’s about getting your Snapchat username out there as this is becoming as popular as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram right now. As we have seen, Pinterest developed their service to offer analytics and Instagram are doing something similar.
Pinterest is seen by many e-commerce companies as their priority social network due to volume of sales and website traffic they get from it. Once again, hashtags are important when posting on Pinterest and must be relevant to the product to get more interaction and repins.
Featuring a prominent ‘Pin it’ button is important to encourage others to repin your products on their profile. You can include this along with your other social media sharing buttons and users who are signed into their profile will have the option to repin when they hover over an image on your product page.
Linking to specific products with your pins is vital to get the sales. However, Pinterest have clamped down on anyone that posts prices and alternative URLs in the description. This means you need to speak to your website developers in order to make sure your site is coded to display prices correctly within your pins.
Promoted pins are open to all small businesses and are quite affordable if you have a new product you want to push to a targeted audience who have relevant interests. Setting a daily budget of £5 per day for 7 days is well worth investing in to see the value from using Pinterest promoted pins.
SMS or texts is still a relevant use of mobile marketing. One option that you will have which is already set up by most courier companies is to allow your customers to sign up for text alerts on their order from you to get updates on when their order will be delivered.
You can also take advantage of messaging apps such as Whatsapp to set up contact lists and broadcast messages about new offers, new products and any other important updates from your website. This is another simple and extremely cost effective way to promote your ecommerce presence.
6.Conversion Rate Optimisation
Conversion Rate Optimisation (CRO) is about optimising your website to maximise the percentage of website visitors who place an actual order and convert to a customer, instead of leaving without placing an order.
An easy to use website will make it more accessible to your customers. For example, we know that many users are now accustomed to having a shopping cart feature on the top right of their screen. It is not a bad thing to copy this on your website as it will ensure your customers aren’t left confused or searching for something they expect to be there.
Clear calls to action such as buttons that feature prominently, whether it’s a new product you are pushing, signing up to your mailing list or you’re trying to upsell with suggestions on similar products to buy from your website, clear calls to action entice your customer to spend more time on your website and more money too.
Measuring success of CRO is available through free tools such as Google Analytics which provide a wealth of information on your website. There are also more advanced analytics applications available to track specific website visitors and their behaviour on your website.
These valuable tools allow you to learn how you can improve the experience of using your website for your customers and as a result, make more money from your ecommerce website.
If you missed part one you can read it here… The promise of ecommerce (part 1): The Setup
Thanks for reading and hope you found this post useful! The final part of the series will be all about the future of ecommerce and the growing trends that could be important to your success in selling online.
If you have any questions about getting more from your e-commerce website, get in touch with us here or give us a ring at Dungannon 028 3754 9025 / Belfast 028 9002 5050 to hear how we can help you out.