E-Commerce enables the smallest mom and pop shop in Anywhere, Suburbia USA or Littletown (a real place in Durham!), England, UK to expand their market from hundreds of people locally to billions worldwide.

In the digital world, you can always be bigger than in the bricks and mortar world. It can take years to build a reputable, large-scale store in real life, but only weeks online.

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With that many potential customers online, why aren’t more millionaires cruising around in limousines in your hometown?

Surely, local business owners’ e-commerce plans are capitalising on this ridiculous market of opportunity.

Sadly not.

Don’t be fooled into thinking e-commerce success is only for the retail giants of the world like Amazon, B & M stores or Primark.

I can’t say enough about how much I love to shop at Primark when I’m in the UK, and I know many of my UK family and friends love to shop online there too. But I digress.

How are you going to build your e-commerce business and website to have such an impact?

Here are our 22 favourite e-commerce tips that you can build straight into your e-commerce marketing strategy:

Make a Great First Impression

When someone lands on your page, is it immediately clear who you are and what you sell? On average more than half of the people visiting a website leave after 15 seconds unless you give them a reason to stay.

So you need to offer killer content, or make it clear who you are and why your website matters within those first few seconds.

Invest in Awesome Content

You don’t need good content on your website to increase your conversion rate; you need outstanding, phenomenal, out-of-this-world content that leaves your audience begging for more.

A bit dramatic? Yes; but it is true.

To ensure your users stay beyond those 15 seconds, you must offer something unique that will attract and encourage your audience to engage with your brand such as original videos, attractive how-to tutorials, and interactive product descriptions.

If you can’t handle producing this content in-house, you need to find a marketing or content creation agency to help you.

Be Scrupulous with Your Sharing

Now that you have amazing content, you need to share it with the world!

Social media is the perfect medium to share your content, and encourage others to share it as well.

But wait, do you have a plan?

Yes, you have the accounts set up on the major platforms like Facebook and Twitter, but how are you syncing them all to create a unified social media brand?

Last time you checked that college intern was handling it…

Things like how, when, and why you post must be carefully managed by your marketing team to present a professional united front across all social platforms.

Remember, investing in social was one of our five things your business should be doing this year. And for good reason too! It works.

Relax, and Hire a Writer

If after reading the first three tips you’re discouraged because you don’t know the first thing about content creation, don’t be! It’s time to find a writer to help you design an e-commerce marketing plan or content plan.

This person can objectively review your website, make sure you’re not committing any of our top web design mistakes, offer advice and give some honest feedback:

Does your content contain grammatical errors? Does it make sense? Does every question start with does?

Your website doesn’t have to be perfect; it must be pristine.

Some things to consider:

  • Your site should have no grammatical errors, dense text, or old information.
  • Web narrative should be engaging and have an identifiable tone that is appealing to your audience.
  • Content should feature the product or service that gives you the greatest financial return.

Videos Help Close E-Commerce Deals

A large part of succeeding in e-commerce is gaining the trust of your customer. They want to believe you, and only you, are the one to turn to for (insert what you sell here).

You can also have some fun producing videos that show what you offer in an entertaining way.

Michaels Store, Inc. has an impressive collection of videos DIYers can check out for inspiration, including this one featuring celebrity crafters Snoop Dog and Busy Philips:

Videos are an excellent way to showcase your brand’s personality and relay information about what you offer.

Videos also help rank higher in Google searches with research showing Google favors and prioritizes sites with videos.

A/B Test Your Checkout Process

Imagine this:

Someone has made it onto your site to shop for some cool new threads. Out of the millions of other choices out there, you’ve got them shopping.

They get to your site and can’t find their size. Or the sizing chart. They think your clothes are sweet, but get easily frustrated with the buying process.

Obviously, you’ll want to fix these mistakes:

But how do you know that they are happening in the first place?

Without overcomplicating the process of A/B testing, let’s just say when it comes to e-commerce, or even web design in general, it can be vital to test your site to see how your customers are interacting with it.

A/B testing gives you updated info on what works, and what doesn’t. Sometimes it’s a small change that makes a big difference. Don’t go blindly into the e-commerce marketplace.

If your customers are suddenly abandoning their shopping carts to back click, why? A/B testing can help you figure that out.

Create Personal Branding Experiences

Customers want to do more than just shop when they interact with a brand. Today’s brands are taking advantage of the interconnectivity between them and their customers.

Social media sites like Instagram or Snapchat have exploded with happy customers sharing pics of their favourite restaurants, or the new kicks they added to their sneaker collection.

If you want to dominate the market, you need to create shareable experiences with your audience and get them to share your brand as well.

Of course, the kind of shareable experiences will depend on your particular brand.

For example:

If you are a microbrewery, it’s fun and completely appropriate to include your customers enjoying your brew. If you have a high-end spa, you might not want to post such images but may want to include some “exclusivity” programs in your social media, or behind-the-scenes images of your services.

Customers love to see “behind the scenes” videos, so another idea is to interview a customer service representative and a customer about a positive experience they shared and how it made them feel.

Creating these personal pieces of marketing content help personalize your brand, and ultimately, helps increase your conversions online.

Use Multiple Social Media Platforms

If your competition is selling on Facebook, eBay, and Amazon, then why would you just pick one to compete for sales? If you can manage it, step up your game and establish a presence on multiple social media platforms.

After giving it a fair shot, review your returns and adjust, if necessary.

Say Something Unique

When businesses share content already shared by other sites, or when they re-purpose old marketing content, customers notice. Don’t waste their time with regurgitated content!

If you don’t have original content to share, search out useful articles by credible sources renown in your industry, but steer clear of content that has already made the rounds or is currently in your newsfeed. Your shared content should always serve a purpose and be useful to those reading it.

Commit to a Cause

Cause marketing is a great way for your business to give back, and partnering with a non-profit or committing to a cause shows the world you care about more than your bottom line.

Bombas is a sock company that could be the poster child for how doing good is also good for business.

After learning that socks were the number one most requested clothing item at homeless shelters, two friends started a company that donates a pair of socks for every pair sold. To date, they have donated 1,587,331 socks. Check them out:

Toms did the same thing a few years back with their shoes. They’re also worth checking out!

People want to fulfill their needs, and when they can do that and feel good about themselves by helping someone else, it’s a win-win for everyone involved.

Create Loyalty Programs That Rock

Loyalty programs, also known as reward programs, offers special promotions, discounts, and giveaways to your best customers otherwise known as the ones that frequent your virtual doorstep.

When competing for business online, it’s critical your loyalty program provides real value for your customers, so they will always choose you first.

Point-based loyalty programs like Nordstrom’s, for example, are a good way to keep customers engaged by offering incentives like discounts, freebies, or exclusive sales in exchange for points earned through transactions.

Say Yes to All Forms of Currency

Do you like money and would you like more of it?

Imagine expanding your market exponentially from a few hundred folks to a few billion. Selling to people outside your country will increase your audience and your conversion rate.

Design your website, alongside your chosen design agency, to have a translation feature so that people can buy into your brand worldwide.

If you’re not sure how to process international payments, start here.

Use Strong Photos on Your Website

Dense text on your website is the best way to send customers to your competition. When working on the design your website, use engaging images, preferably your own, and strategically place them to break up your text.

From a sales perspective, sometimes pictures sell better than text.

Exhibit A:

This picture speaks a thousand words. I’m packing my bags, how about you?

Stop Jamming Keywords into Your Online Content

There is nothing worse than reading online marketing jargon chock full of keywords for the sake of keywords.

Yes, we get it, you want Google to notice your site. And believe me, we’ve all tried it.

It turns out; this keyword-jamming trick doesn’t work that well anymore. Google now recognizes sites that are stuffing keywords into their content to gain SEO rank and penalizes them, with the major offenders seeing their sites deindexed entirely.

Imagine disappearing from the world’s biggest search engine. The affect on your bottom line would be catastrophic.

Instead of keyword heavy content, create original content to engage your audience. When you provide value, your customers pay attention.

Email Newsletters

Did you know over 80% of marketers include email newsletters as a part of their marketing mix? If it makes sense for your brand, e-newsletters are a great way to keep your customer engaged with your business.

The best e-newsletters follow the 90/10 content rule: 90% of the content is generic information readers will find valuable, and 10% is your sales pitch about the latest sale, product, or service you offer.

We actually break down our newsletter staistics in each of our monthly update posts. Have a look at our statistics for February 2017:

Our subscribers are growing rapidly. And it gives us an easy way to communicate with our audience each and every week.

If you are debating whether to begin your own e-newsletter, check out this article about creating the perfect e-newsletter.

Newsletters are a great way to let your current customers know about upcoming sales, Black Friday specials, ongoing promotions and exciting new products.

If you truly want to improve your e-commerce sales, you have to take advantage of every touchpoint along the way. You don’t have to hire a professional writer to run an effective newsletter campaign either.

The key is to make them personal, fun, informative – your customers should get something out of them other than just the latest deals.

Think about what your customers are asking about or going through.

If Christmas is just around the corner, why not have send out a couple of “Get Ready for Christmas” shopping lists, or a fun gift-guide to help take the pressure off of all those decisions.

Remember, there are a lot of e-newsletters out there. Take care to really speak to your customers. They have already shown an interest in your brand and products just by agreeing to be on your list. And as such, you should be providing them with fantastic value.

Ask for a Review

With so many available options online, you need stellar reviews to compete in the e-commerce industry. A five-star history online can close the deal, even when your price is not the lowest because your online reputation is stellar.

The easiest way to get these reviews is to send a thank you email after they have received their order and ask if they would like to leave a review.

If it makes sense, offer a one-time discount when they do post a review.

Bonus Tip

Many of these steps can be automated if you invest in the right Content Management System or CMS that has email marketing features. You should consult with a design agency about that.

Of course, if you just want to implement an email marketing plan of any sort, including follow-up thank you emails, e-newsletters, and updates, you can always start with MailChimp.

It’s an easy to use program that allows you to create email lists, send out scheduled e-newsletters and build strong relationships with your customers.

At Canny, we actually use ConvertKit as it offers us a higher degree of flexibility, but Mailchimp is a great first step.

Blog It Out

As a business owner, it’s your job to get your name out there and having a blog can help create some awareness.

Starting a blog is a wise marketing move, but once it is established with content you are proud of, your goal should be to have industry blogs feature your pieces to bring garner attention from the masses.

Not focusing on the Canny blog was one of Tony’s four things he learned in four years of running Canny Creative.

To do this, a great place to start is by subscribing to the blogs you follow and admire, and become a loyal follower by liking and commenting on their content. From there, you can begin to network to get your content on their blog to increase the awareness of your brand.

If your goal is to get backlinks, blogging with some authority can really help with that.

See if your content is going to be featured on another, reputable site, you need to get that backlink. This is a long-term strategy when it comes to building your brand, and online presence, but it can pay off in the long term.

Creating a brand builds trust over time and takes some effort, but it’s worth it.

Blogs are great ways to show that you care about your company and customers, but it can also be a place to have some fun.

Here at Canny, we’ve had a lot of fun with our blogs. We’ve looked at Breaking Bad as a marketing example and even shared some Pokémon branding ideas.

Needless to say, we have a lot of fun here on the blog and get a good response from our customers.

It always helps to remember who your audience is. They are busy. They want information, sure, but they also want to laugh and get to know your brand better too. Think outside the typical blog-writing box and have a little fun.

Be Like Oprah

You don’t have to give everyone in your studio audience a car like the former talk show queen did. But you can create some buzz by giving your followers something cool for free if they share your page or like your business.

It’s a great way to build your audience on your social media pages quickly, and it gets your name in front of people you may not see otherwise

If you are starting out, Facebook giveaways might be a good place to start building awareness. We did that when helping to launch The Name Train.

Run a contest that requires someone to like your page, and share your post to get word out there. Sometimes giveaways are a flop – mainly because what you are offering isn’t something anybody wants, or you ask them to jump through too many hoops to get it.

The key to giving something away is KISS – keep it simple stupid.

That means finding something that your audience will want, and making it simple and easy to get it (in return for signing up to your site, attending an event, or sharing your page). It shouldn’t take too many steps.

Hire a Content-Creating Machine

If you want to create some noise online but are too busy managing a business to do it, it’s time to call in the professionals!

A marketing agency can help create and promote your e-commerce business online through online advertising marketing campaigns and innovative website design.

Yes, you can do many of these steps on your own, but if you want to accelerate your growth, why not hire the professionals?

There might be touchpoints that you haven’t considered or areas you could easily get some traction.

What does your company growth mean to you? How much time are you spending on marketing efforts? Have you been tied down to the traditional modes of marketing, like print, advertising, and PR? Need some ways to boost your online presence? A clever marketing or creative agency knows how to get your brand out there.

Inbound Marketing

Inbound marketing is quickly overtaking traditional marketing.

Today’s companies realise the power of getting their brand out there digitally through blogs, podcasts, video, eBooks, e-newsletters, whitepapers, SEO, social media and other forms of digital marketing that get customers into your sales funnels.

Inbound marketing can also save you money!

Find a creative or marketing agency that knows how to get your company out there.

“By investing more in inbound marketing vs outbound, companies save an average of $20k per year.” Strategic Internet Consulting

Start Chatting

How many times has a customer filled a shopping cart online only to ditch it when you ask for their payment information? Having a chat module can help you to make sure this doesn’t happen.

When a customer hesitates while checking out online it could be because of shipping costs, their promotion code isn’t working, or they need more information to commit to the sale.

With a chat module on your site, they can ask customer service representatives a quick question or representatives can reach out to them to help close the sale.

Search High and Low

Don’t make your customers search for the search box on your site. Put it on every page, at the top and bottom. If they can’t find it, you risk losing them to another site.

Think about how your customer searches for you outside of your site as well.

We all know about Google keywords, but many people often miss key niche or long-tail keywords for our sites.

If you sell something that nobody else out there does, consider writing some blogs that include those unique keywords and product information. Hopefully, you’ll get picked up in Google for something your brand is uniquely good at.

Ask to be BFF

OK, maybe asking to be their best friend forever is coming on too strong, but at least ask for your customers’ email address so you can be pen pals. The good news is, most people will readily provide their email address, especially if they like what you sell.

Once you have their information, consider it a privilege and only email targeted marketing material they would perceive as valuable. If you abuse this privilege and barrage them with pointless emails, they will quickly break up with you.

A Final Thought

Small businesses can compete with their larger counterparts by using these e-commerce tips to get noticed online and most importantly, close the sale. Do you have more tips to add to the list? Please comment below!

Amy Aitman is the owner of 8menCan, a content agency based in Toronto, Canada. She works to create content strategies and digital marketing plans for businesses around the world. Away from the office, Amy takes her team out for chicken tacos and martins, extra dirty, extra olives of course.

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