10 Top Ecommerce Tips

Ecommerce Best Practice

Ecommerce Best Practice

So, you have negotiated all of your stock with your suppliers, worked out your pricing, and are ready to start trading – so, you will need an ecommerce website.

But how are you going to take on the giants of ecommerce like Amazon, eBay, Marks and Spencer or Tesco?  Well, big budgets obviously helps with ecommerce development, but there are a lot of basics that if you get right, you can start to level the playing field.

Here are ten top tips for your ecommerce website:

1) Mobile is the norm: With the tremendous rise of shopping on mobile devices, if your site is a miserable experience on a mobile device, then you are missing out on a lot of revenue.  Your site should be responsive and still offer the key features that your desktop website offers, but not all of the detail to present a clear and usable experience – this is a basic customer expectation, don’t disappoint.

2) Build Trust: Even though ecommerce has grown dramatically over the last decade, people are still concerned about trusting a website before they commit to a purchase.  Make sure that you have customer reviews (one of the key success factors in Amazon’s success), customer testimonials and details about your payment security and encryption certificates.

3) Be Transparent: Your website needs to have the content on it to convince the consumer to make a purchase.  With some purchases come issues of exchange, delivery costs, etc.  Your policies for these and your contact information should be clear and accessible on every page, possibly in the page footer.

4) Encourage the Purchase: By the simple use of cookies or a secure log-in, when a consumer returns to your site, you can show them what they ordered previously to help encourage repeat purchases.  Seriously consider showing which products are popular right now, and ‘when people bought x, they also bought y’ which should boost your average basket size.

5) Don’t get in the Way: There are a lot of websites which I have been on which have so much going on that it’s almost like the website wants to get in the way of a purchase.  To prevent this, have clear call to actions and a very simple product selection and checkout process – the more steps in this process, the more likely you will lose consumers along the way.

6) Display in the Best Light: With the rise of the smartphone came the rise of the amateur photographer, just look at Instagram!  However, not everyone is great at photography, particularly product photography and especially video.  You want your product to be viewed in the best possible way, so money spent making your product more attractive is an investment – scrimp here and you undersell your products.

7) Sell Your Products: This sounds like a simple one, but there are a lot of sites who use functional language to describe their products.  You should instead use more persuasive language, lead with the benefits of the product and how it can contribute towards the happiness of the consumer.  Most purchases are not needed for human survival, so your copy needs to create need.

8) Have a Smart Filtering System: You should spend some time thinking about how your customer segment your products – is it by size, colour, price, brand, etc.?  If you have a filer system for your products, along with how many product falls into each filter, you will make your customer’s life easier and they will reward you.

9) Landing Pages: You should have a thorough inbound marketing strategy – how are you going to get people to come to your website as opposed to your competition?  The pages that they land on when they visit your site are critical to your success – spend time working on these pages, if they are not right, you will have blown your chance (and the money spent getting them to your site).

10) Keep Testing: There is one factor that all successful ecommerce sites have in common – they all test and make changes to their websites.  With access to analytics packages being low / no cost, there is no excuse not to do this.  Change the layout of a handful of pages, change the colours, change the copy style and see what effect this has on consumer engagement and purchase levels.  Fact-based is the best way of making decisions.

Please remember that these are just ten tips – they don’t include getting your website seen by search engines, promoting your site, linking to social media channels and a host of other areas.  There is a lot to ecommerce, but just implementing the above will put you ahead of most ecommerce sites!  Good luck!

Image via ventureburn.com
 

Email Marketing Best Practice Part 2

email 2

Welcome back to part 2 of my email marketing tips!  If you missed part one, you can still take a look at it here.

Last week we covered how to analyse the numbers, and getting your head round this should give you a good starting point of how to improve the effectiveness of your email campaigns.

In addition to your thinking, here are some tips for you:

When is the best time to send your emails?

The answer to this is not when you get round to doing it!  There are a number of studies available on the web which will tell you the best time to send your emails.  These are good for a starting point, but you should be able to spot a trend after sending just a few emails out – your open and click rates will be better on certain days and at certain times.  Think of where the consumer will be when they receive your email – are they likely to be open to suggestions?  The best time will differ depending on if your emails are B2B or B2C and will change depending on your product or service, so your numbers are the most powerful here.

How often should I send emails?

Again, this will depend on whether you are B2B, B2C and what you are trying to persuade the recipient to do.  Frequency should be centred upon the recipient’s behaviour.  For example, if your recipients tend to use your product twice per month, then fortnightly emails are probably going to be the right frequency.

What should I write in the emails?

Firstly, you need to look at your subject line – it needs to be enticing enough for the recipient to actually open the email.  Once they have opened it, your content will be under scrutiny.  Using pictures is visually engaging, but remember that images are often blocked by email providers for security reasons.  If they are blocked, the alternate text of the image will be shown, so make this enticing too – one of the best examples I have seen was an alternate text that read “if you click enable images, you will see our beautiful products” – superb!  Also, consider what you want the recipient to do – the call to action is crucial in email marketing and should be above the fold (i.e. don’t need to page down to see it) and very clear.

What device are people using to view my emails?

You should consider how the recipient views your email.  If they are viewing it on a mobile, you need to make the content very simple and to the point, use large images and render specifically for mobile devices.  Most email marketing providers will tell you how many recipients use mobiles to open your emails, so you should optimise for mobile once this proportion starts getting significant.

Test Test Test!

One of the joys of email marketing is that you can see what impact your emails are having.  So, feel free to push the boundaries a bit!  Test the length and content of your subject line to see what impact this has on your open rate, test different images to see the impact on clicks.

That’s it for my email marketing tips.  I really hope that you enjoyed them and if you have an email gem that I have missed, please share it – leave a comment and let me know!

Email Marketing Best Practice

Email

Email marketing is very attractive to marketers.  It’s cheap, it’s easy and it’s a good way to get your message in front of your customers.

However, I’ve got some bad news – email isn’t as simple as you’d think.  Because of the benefits of email marketing, there are a lot of businesses doing it!  And that means that your email communications need to cut through the noise and excite the recipient.

But don’t despair!  Over the next two blogs, I will give you some tips which will help you make the most of your email campaigns.  Here is part 1 and it’s all about numbers (but not boring ones):

If you are running campaigns at the moment, then it is likely that you have a whole raft of data just waiting to be analysed.  Here is how to approach an evaluation of your email campaigns:

Sent – this is the number by which all others will be judged!  While in itself it’s not that insightful, when compared with other metrics it can tell a story.  For this reason, ‘sent’ should not be looked at in isolation.  Whether you send 2 or 200,000 emails, it doesn’t matter unless people are reading them, and you can’t tell this until you see other measures.

Delivered – this should be the same as ‘sent’, right?  Wrong!  This is the number of emails that were successfully delivered.  There are all sorts of reasons why your email would not be delivered and they are called soft and hard bounces.  A soft bounce might be because the recipient’s email box is full, and soft bounces are normally re-sent at another time.  A hard bounce is where the email address is invalid – this can often be fixed by checking through your email list (.con instead of .com is a common problem).

Opened – this is a really important measure.  This is the number of people who actually open the email, so the key element here is an engaging subject line.  You have received emails which sound so dull from their subject line that you just delete it straight away, so you know the problem!  Personalised and engaging subjects that relate to the needs of the recipient will ensure your open rate is strong.

Clicks – the holy grail of email marketing!  These are the number of clicks that people have made on your email to take them off to another place, e.g. your website.  There are no short-cuts for getting a good click rate – good content that is recipient focused is what you need to focus on.

Unsubscribe – its often very disheartening to receive unsubscribes.  So try to find out why to prevent them in the future.  On the unsubscribe page on your website, ask the users why it is that they don’t want to receive your emails anymore – was the frequency too much, have they moved jobs / circumstances, etc.  This is useful feed-back that you should take on board.

Benchmark – there are a number of studies which can show you what an average open, click or unsubscribe rate is.  Here is one of the best – http://www.sign-up.to/email-marketing-benchmarks/email-benchmark-2012/  These rates can easily be calculated from your data by dividing numbers into the number of emails that you have sent.  E.g. to find click rate, take the number of clicks (e.g. 30) and divide it by the number of emails that you have sent (e.g. 500) – your click rate is 6%.

That’s all for this week, but come back next week for Part 2 of my email marketing tips!