Ecommerce. It’s growing like crazy but it’s also a competitive space these days.
But you don’t need anyone to tell you that. You’ve been up against Ebay and Amazon for years but you’re still in the game. You know that they’re spending millions on paid search with one goal in mind – to drive you out of business.
Nothing personal. For them it’s kill or be killed.
But don’t despair. You can fight back, even if it does feel a little like David and Goliath sometimes. So here are 12 proven techniques you can use to make sure you can stand your ground.
1. Go Responsive
You just have to take the plunge if you haven’t got a mobile friendly website yet. It’s the direction of travel, big time. Mobile is where the action is now and pretty much forever from now on.
If you need to make the switch then you should consider Responsive Web Design (RWD).
If you’re not familiar with Responsive Design then in a nutshell it’s a type of design that means your website will appear perfectly no matter what device you’re browsing on. It just responds to the device and presents the website accordingly, whether you’re on a PC, Mac, Tablet or mobile phone.
2. Let’s Chat
If you’re getting traffic to your site and you want an ROI you can measure in minutes then start using Live Chat. Whilst it offers operational benefits by making your staff more efficient and consistent in their replies it really comes into its own from a conversion perspective.
Whether it’s enquiries, upselling, cross selling, upgrades, deliveries, returns or whatever, setting up Live Chat is just about the smartest thing an Ecommerce marketer can do.
3. Lights, Camera, Conversions!
Using video on product pages is a no-brainer. Whilst most people will think of video as a traffic generating technique, it’s a conversion goldmine offering improved conversions of up to 80%.
But it doesn’t stop there. Effective use of video can increase time on page as well as reducing returns as long as ecommerce video best practices are observed. They’re ideal to compliment your other content such as Buyer’s Guides or the trusty old How To Guide.
4. Speed Up. Sell More
Whilst website load speed isn’t so important for B2B businesses, it’s vital for Ecommerce sites.
The bottom line is that your visitors expect a fast website. Your website speed is determined by your hosting service. If your site’s slow then that’s going to hit your bottom line.
Sure, there are dozens of ways of speeding up your website, but probably the fastest and cheapest is to just switch to a faster hosting platform. Solid State hosting (SSD) is one option if you are on a budget or if you can stretch to a Virtual Private Server or SSD VPS so much the better. With a VPS you get allocated resources such as RAM and CPU which is where the rubber hits the road from a performance perspective.
5. Double Down On Security
Whilst security comes with the territory there are two parts to the equation. First you need to tighten up on ecommerce security to prevent any secure data being compromised.
6. Transactional Emails That Rock
It’s a mistake to think that Transactional Emails (Welcome, Invoices, Reminders) are some kind of poor relation to their sexier marketing email cousins.
Why? Simply because transactional emails get far higher open rates and can generate far higher revenue.
So whether it’s a welcome email, a password reminder, an order confirmation or an invitation to refer a friend, think through the entire process end to end to look for every improvement in your transactional emails.
7. Responsive Transactional Emails
But it’s not just websites that need to be Responsive. Your transactional emails need to be responsive too. The chances are that if your customers are buying via mobile then they’ll be wanting to read their emails on mobile too so stick to best practice with your emails too.
8. Create Beautiful Product Images
You’ve done all the hard work getting your visitor to the product page. What a shame that they decided to use a competitor because they had better quality and a better selection of product images. With the increasing importance of Pinterest for Ecommerce, the simple fact is that product images matter more than ever.
File size, resolution, zooming, shadows and background – these are all important factors so don’t leave it to chance – really make those images stand out.
9. Write Product Descriptions That Sell Like Crazy
You’ve sorted your images, but stay on that product page and get those descriptions fixed. A well written description can really make an impression on your visitor.
As with images, don’t just cut and paste the manufacturer’s product descriptions. First you’ll be duplicating content and secondly you can do a much better job yourself.
Picture your ideal customer, speak their language and drop the jargon. Major on the benefits and minor on the features.
10. Feature Social Proof
When speak to your customers you’ll notice that something very important happens. They speak a completely different language to you. Not only that, they describe your product or service in a way that a copywriter would struggle to capture.
Whether it’s case studies or other forms of User Generated Content (UGC) this is pure sold gold. When you have it, it needs to feature prominently on your product pages.
11. Improve Site Search
The chances are that people hit your site straight from a Google search. And guess what? They want to continue that intuitive search experience on your site too. Unfortunately even large brands fail on ecommerce search basics so this could be an area for you to exploit.
12. Exit Intent
Exit Intent software presents a pop up form which appears when it detects a predicted pattern of movement from the visitors mouse – typically that they are about to leave the page. In Ecommerce terms this means they are about to abandon their purchase.
They can be used for a variety of goals whether to recover a shopper about to leave, build an email list or promote other products.
Prospective customers will leave your site for a variety of reasons (price, relevance, need, distraction, etc.) and the beauty of Exit Intent tools is that you can test different offers to identify which works best.
13. Better Content
Let’s be honest, getting links to Ecommerce product pages has always been a tall order. But savvy online retailers are addressing this through the use of effective content marketing.
The beauty of this approach is that content can be used to either get more backlinks and social shares (Definitive Guides, List Based Content, Expert Roundups) or for better conversions (Buyer’s Guides, How To Guides, How to Videos, etc.).
14. Social Media Customer Service
Customers have been far quicker on the uptake than business when it comes to social media customer service. The simple fact of the matter is that your customers are there, they’re using it and they expect you to be there too. And they want you to respond quickly.
So to offer the best experience possible, you’ll need to choose the most appropriate channels so you don’t spread yourself too thinly. You’ll need to assign someone to keep on top of it all and make sure they understand the do’s and dont’s. Finally, get proactive and monitor mentions of your company whether positive or negative and start to respond to them as quickly as possible.
15. Thank You Pages
They’ve made it to the ‘Thank You’ Page! Mission accomplished!
Err, not quite. Don’t let your guard down. The thank you page is a huge opportunity for you to continue the conversation with your new customer.
There are plenty of options available to you whether and whether it’s social shares, joining a newsletter, surveying or referring a friend this small detail can make a huge difference.
16. Guest Checkout
Offering guest accounts can be a double edged sword. In their favour they reduce friction and increase conversions but against them are issues that may arise from not registering details fully (repeat ordering, amending orders, dealing with returns, etc.).
Asking customers to register may lead them to think that they’re going to be bombarded with marketing mails or other such concerns. But if are not sure that your registration process is getting in the way then maybe you need to test your checkout flow to see if that improves the result.
Ecommerce is a tough place these days. Standing still is not an option. There are numerous ways you can tweak your site to look for continual improvements.
Some of them like building a Responsive site may take time, but that’s the direction of travel and it’s the price of entry these days.
Others, like Live Chat are a line of code that can really push the sales needle.
But whether it’s speeding up your site, upping the security or tweaking your product pages, checkout process and email follow up, there are loads of little things you can do that will have a cumulative effect on your Ecommerce business.
So which of these tweaks will you use? Are you using any right now and what effect are they having. Share your experiences below.