Always strive to be better....
This great video from 'JD' at Marketing 360 runs through 12 tips for better eCommerce success and I highly recommend you watch it - there's some very good advice here!
Tip #1 - Use a Good eCommerce Platform
While there are some great platforms out there, if you stick with one of the big boys you're going to find life much easier.
Not only is there a bigger community to help you out, there will be a wider choice of apps and integrations to improve the functionality of your store.
Tip #2 - Optimise Your Product Pages
JD points out the value of optimising your product titles and descriptions for SEO, but don't forget this will also help your Google Shopping campaigns. Google looks at titles/descriptions to decide what searches to show your product ads on.
Tip #3 - Use Schema Markup
The tool mentioned is here: Structured Data Testing Tool
Again, good markup will help your AdWords ads, as Google will pull review data through into your ads. Google Merchant Center also looks at product markup to check for price updates etc so well worth making sure you have it all set up properly.
Tip #4 - Optimising Your Product Feed
This goes hand in hand with Tip #2, but sometimes you can't get all the keywords you want into your product titles without making them look a bit naff!
Consider using a Feed Management Platform like Data Feed Watch or Go Datafeed to help the optimisation process
Tip #5 - Google Shopping Optimisations
A great tip - too many retailers set up shopping campaigns and let them run. JD mentions pausing poor performers and giving more budget to good performers - but don't forget you need to adjust bids according to the ROI you're getting too. Sometimes a product just needs a lower bid to be profitable, not to be paused completely.
Tip #6 - Dynamic Retargeting
If you're not doing this you're missing a big trick. Take it to the next level by segmenting your remarketing lists eg cart abondoners, product viewers and shop browsers. Each is likely to behave differently and so needs different bids and optimisations.
Tip #7 - Facebook & Instagram Ads
It may be your target market isn't on Instagram (if you sell hoover spares for example!) but it might be worth testing before dismissing completely. Make sure you have a strategy before you start, though, and avoid random post boosting in the hope it'll get results!
Tip #8 - Organic Social Media
There have been big changes in Facebook's algorithm since this video was made so it's arguable as to whether this is going to have a big impact these days. FB really is the 'pay to play' platform for businesses more so than it was before.
Tip #9 - Automated Email Marketing
I would hope most eCommerce business would have an abandoned cart email series at the very least. The importance of post purchase emails sequences can't be over-stressed though - make sure you have a plan and are keeping in touch with those customers!
Tip #10 - SMS Marketing
As a consumer I don't like SMS marketing. Text messages are personal, and I get annoyed by businesses texting me all the time. Consider Facebook Message marketing instead - this is huge at the moment and can work extremely well for both getting new customers and nurturing existing ones.
If you want to learn more about it check out this free training from ManyChat: http://course.manychat.com/
Tip #11 - Use a CRM
This may be over the top for small retailers, but the concept is certainly worth thinking about. Are there ways you can record info about customers such as birthdays & anniversaries to send them special offers to celebrate?
Tip #12 - Customer Care Package
I love this. You could also use this to partner with other retailers who target the same people - you send their leaflets in your package and they send yours in theirs. Win win!
I'd love to hear your thoughts on these 12 Killer Tips - do you have any of your own that aren't mentioned here? Drop them in the comments below.
Watch the video on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7HgGiCK33ow
Customers are a lot more impatient these days, and they expect to be able to communicate with you instantaneously and get the answers they’re looking for.
Live chat lets you do just this. But don’t worry if you don’t have the resources to cover live chat 24/7, even if you are only ‘live’ for certain hours of the day it’s well worth adding the option. Live chat platforms also let users leave you a message when you’re offline and you can follow up with them as soon as you’re available.
What are the options?
The two top options and most established are Olark and Intercom.io. There are lots of other options available, though, so make sure you do some research and find the best one for you. Here are some others you might like to consider: BoldChat, LiveChat, Website Alive, Live Person, Velaro & Hip Cha.
Video is so important these days for any eCommerce site. Users respond much better to video than to written text, and videos help you to get your message across in a much more personal and engaging way.
Of course, you’ll need to decide how to host the videos that you have on your site, and the main options are YouTube, Vimeo and Wistia.
Unlike YouTube and Vimeo, Wistia is a paid platform. What this gives you is clean interface, easy-to-use statistics and a large range of plugins for third party apps to allow you to track what’s happening when people engage with your videos. This means you can tailor your marketing to users according to how much of your video they consumed.
As you know, there’s a lot involved in running an efficient eCommerce store. Here are some other pieces of technology you might like to consider to make things run more smoothly.
Survey software – get valuable feedback from potential and existing customers to help improve both products and service.
Marketing & automation apps – there are lots of options when it comes to apps for marketing your store, as well as making things in the background run more smoothly. Here are some you might like to consider:
Project Management – keep track of tasks that need doing and make sure everyone knows who’s responsible for what, and by when
Accounting – sometimes the biggest headache for business owners! Make sure you have the necessary apps in place to keep your transactions integrated with your account platform.
Navigating your way around all the technology that’s available for your store can feel like a minefield. The important thing is to start with the customer in mind and think about what you can do to make their interaction with you easier. It’s important to remember that this can be looking at your efficiency in the background as well as what they directly see on your site.
To read the first two parts of this blog series click below.
Another critically important part of managing your eCommerce store is being able to manage communications from your customers and potential customers.
Just getting them to send an email to your inbox isn’t going to cut it – it’s not professional, and it doesn’t allow you to track those communications or integrate it with your CRM. Think of this as your ‘customer service central’.
Let’s look at the aspects we want in a help desk software.
Each and every communication gets its own unique ticket and all replies and follow-ups are tracked within that ticket. There’s a full thread showing every interaction you’ve had with the customer, vital where you have multiple people dealing with enquiries.
Most questions keep cropping up again and again, and writing out the same response over and over is time consuming and tedious. Having a help desk platform that lets you build a library of ‘FAQ’ replies is a must. All you do is pull the appropriate template into the conversation, edit as necessary and send.
You’ll want the ability to be able to get an email when certain things happen inside your help desk eg when a customer submits a new ticket, or responds to an existing one. This helps keep your replies timely and your customers happy.
The ability to tag your help desk tickets has big benefits. For example, you might tag refund requests or emails about a particular product. The beauty of this is that later you can sort emails by a particular tag so you can collate important information about them. This can be used to improve your products, service, or even your website, for example, if people are always asking for help with a certain task.
This lets you make additional comments on the ticket that your customer cannot see. Particularly useful if tickets are passing from one agent to another so each knows what the other has done.
Allows you to integrate a phone number so that when someone calls your support number a ticket it automatically created for the event. Keeping all your communications in one place make it much easier to keep track of conversations.
Lets you track things like how often people contact you and how quickly you respond so you can measure the effectiveness of your customer service.
Don’t only rely on the data from your reports to check how well you’re doing, ask your customers! There’s no better way to improve what you do than to ask your customers what you can do better.
Set up actions for certain events. eg if automated emails come in regularly from payment processors you don’t what those to be bunched in with customer communications. Event automations let you sort this kind of email and remove it from your inbox.
When someone sends you a Facebook message, tweets you a direct message or live chats you (to name a few) all of these can be handled directly inside your help desk. Third party apps can also help streamline by integrating with other platforms or tools. In this way, ALL your inbound communications can be dealt with in one place, making everyone’s lives easier.
As always, access to a real human on the phone is essential should things go wrong and you need a quick reply.
There are plenty of choices when it comes to help desk software but here are a few to start you off:
Zendesk have been around a long time and have an excellent array of features that’s hard to beat. They really are great at what they do! Starting at £5 per month.
An excellent platform, easy to use, lacking some of the integrations in Zendesk but if you don’t need those it’s a worthy opponent. Starting at $8 per month.
Read Part 1 on Email Platforms here
Read Part 2 on Live Chat, Video & Others here
Email forms a big part of running and managing an eCommerce business. Effectively communicating with both existing and potential customers can make a big difference to the success of your online store. So what should eCommerce businesses be looking for in an email service provider?
Tag people based on what they’ve done, where they came from, what they bought etc. This allows you to customise your communications to them so you’re not treating everyone in exactly the same way.
What smart automation allows you to do is to build campaigns based on certain events. eg if a certain tag is added to a customer then you want them to be added to a specific email sequence. If a customer performs some action (eg clicks on a link in an email) they can be added to a different sequence, and so on.
When sending emails it’s very important to be able to test headlines to see which ones perform the best. You might want to test different complete emails within the same sequence. Constantly working to improve how well your emails do in getting your customers to respond is key to improving your conversion rates.
This allows you to design and build emails so they fit in with your brand and provide a consistent experience for your users.
While most platforms offer comprehensive FAQs or knowledgebases as well as an email ticketing support system, it’s also nice to be able to pick up the phone and talk to someone right away.
This is a key element of your email tool. Having effective data integration means you can pass information into your email platform such as what they bought, when they bought it, how much they spent, how often they buy from you etc. Knowing this lets you communicate with them based on what kind of customer they are – are they a super-fan? a one-off buyer? do they usually place large orders? what have they bought?
We want to be able to see when a customer opens a ticket and how they’re interfacing with customer support. Integrating your help desk with your email service provider lets you see all of this information inside your customer’s contact information.
What this does is allow you to specify when an email is sent. More specifically, you can tell the system that the email should go at 9am in the customer’s time zone, or on a certain day of the week the follows an event like signing up or placing an order. Being able to customise your email delivery for your customers’ locale is very valuable.
Whichever email service provider you choose, it needs to become the central contact record for each individual prospect or customer. Everything they’ve ever done in relationship to your business should be there. At any time, you should be able to open a contact record and see:
so that you can personalise your communications with them in a way that builds a better relationship.
This is by no means an exhaustive list, but these are some of the more popular and well-known platforms you can choose from:
Built for eCommerce businesses with excellent integration with all the major eCommerce platforms. There’s even a free plan for up to 250 contacts so a great option if you’re just starting out.
Very powerful platform for any business, but with fewer integrations for eCommerce. Starting at $15 per month for 500 contacts.
Part 2 talks about Help Desks here
If you’re running shopping campaigns and you’re not using custom labels you’re missing a big trick.
What Are Custom Labels?
When you upload your feed to Google you have the option of defining multiple ‘custom label’ attributes. These are fields you can add to your feed to record any data you like relating to your products. This is not required and many merchants just don’t bother with them.
Why Would You Use Custom Labels?
The main reason you’d use custom labels in your product feed is to give you additional ways to organise your products in your AdWords campaigns. More importantly, you can organise products in any way you choose, depending on what you have in your custom label fields.
With a ‘normal’ product feed, you can organise products in your campaign by Brand, Category, Product Type etc – not very inventive and not always the most helpful way when it comes to bidding.
With custom labels you can define other attributes by which to sort your products. For example, you could define ‘custom label 0’ as price ranges: <£50, £50-£199, £200-£499, £500-£1,000. Now it stands to reason you’d want to bid more on a product that’s £650 than you would for one that’s selling at £16.50 right? By categorising your products by price range you can group them in your campaign and adjust your bids accordingly.
Another similar option would be to divid products with different profit margins. Assign a custom label accordingly and then your bidding can be adjusted depending on how much money you make for those products.
There’s no limit as to how you can use this. Another very popular method is to add a custom label to sale items or products on special promotion. You might even want to exclude such items from your campaigns if the margins are very low.
What Does It Look Like In AdWords?
You can see below that we’ve already got our products sub-divided by brand. To break them down further you’ll click the ‘+’ symbol on the right as usual.
This opens the dialogue box shown below, which I’m sure you’re familiar with from when you sub-divided your products by brand or product type and such. You can see here I’ve selected ‘Custom label 1’. In this example the feed has been categorised using ‘price buckets’, from low to high and various options in between. You can now add these by selecting the right arrows and you’ll then be able to bid and optimise according to the price range of your products.
I’m sure you can see the potential for using custom labels: it gives you much more control and flexibility within your Shopping campaigns.
Here are some other examples of great ways to use custom labels:
The possibilities are really only limited by your imagination but think of how you can use these to make a real difference to your Google Shopping Campaigns and ultimately to your company’s bottom line.
So you have a great product and you want to start selling online? What are your options?
There are a few ways of doing it:
If you decide on this option you’ll need to set up a web hosting account and then install whichever eccommerce package you choose. This is only going to be an option if you’re comfortable with setting up and managing a web hosting account and have the confidence to deal with problems if they occur. It’s NOT an option for the novice as you are responsible for keeping the software up to date and ‘glitch’ free.
There are lots of open source shopping carts available – open source is free to use and is developed by the combined efforts of programmers and users that form a community around the project. They also have active support forums where you can go for help and advice for installing, settin up and managing your online store.
Thirdy party outlets are sites like Amazon, eBay and Etsy. You generally pay a monthly fee to list items and then pay a comission when a product sells.
The advantage of selling on sites like these is that you have instant access to their huge customer base and many of them have a faithful following. From a practical point of view there’s also the advantage that you don’t have to worry about things like payment processing and site security, which of course these days is of utmost importance.
The downside is that you are at the whim of such sites and it’s not unheard of for changes in their policies or site to affect your sales, making you rather vulnerable and lacking in control. Most of them are also very customer centric which of course is not a bad thing in itself but many customers can use this as a form of bribery, knowing that threatening a seller with a negative review can sometimes mean they take advantage and make unreasonable demands!
You also have to pay commisions which can be as high as 20% of the selling price so you have to make sure you take this into account with your pricing.
From the outside this looks just like the first option – you have your own website on your own web address but this is where the similarity ends. You don’t have to set up the hosting or install the shopping cart, that’s all done by the shopping cart themselves. All you have to do is create your account and you’re good to start setting up your shop.
There are plenty of shopping carts to choose from, each varying in functionality and price but my two favourites have to be Shopify and Bigcommerce. They’re both very easy to set up and have lost of great functionality like being able to have product options (sell a shirt in different colours and/or sizes in one product).
Both have some good looking free templates so when you’re starting out you don’t need to pay a designer a fortune to get your shop looking decent.
Not sure which to choose? Both offer a free trial so set one up and have a play!