Learn 10 easy optimization tips and tests for eCommerce brands just launching their first search campaigns.
Read more at PPCHero.com
- This 4th of July is coming at a time when the US is seeing waves of social justice protests.
- People who are extremely anxious and frustrated in the current climate will pay little attention to your cookie-cutter July 4th themed advertisement.
- What does this mean for ecommerce marketing?
- Instead of tone-deaf messages and empty platitudes, how can businesses walk the walk?
- Evelyn Johnson discusses how businesses need to keep peoples’ sentiments in mind as they try to drive their campaign home.
Independence Day this year will be the first big holiday after the relaxation of lockdowns across the US. While thanksgiving took place when most states had enforced strict social distancing protocols, Americans will celebrate the 4th of July with much more freedom.
Not to forget, this 4th of July is also coming at a time when the country is seeing waves of social justice protests.
But what does this mean for ecommerce marketers? For starters, the usual Independence Day campaign might not cut it anymore. People who are extremely anxious and frustrated in the current climate will pay little attention to your cookie-cutter July 4th themed advertisement.
So instead of generic Independence Day deals, you will have to take a new approach to Independence Day marketing.
Here’s how you can go about it.
Understand how people will celebrate this year
Independence Day celebrations have remained pretty much the same for decades. There are fireworks, barbecues, carnivals, parades, and a whole slew of activities. Some 4th of July stats from last year show around 48.9 million travel on this day.
But due to the current outbreak, many people will avoid public gatherings this year. While there will still be parades and festivals, the scope of these events will be extremely limited. Instead, many people will be staying in for Independence Day this time around.
This is where you have a window to cater to millions who will be staying at home. Products like board games and DIY items for crafting patriotic decorations might prove to be a big hit in the coming holiday.
After singling out items you believe might sell well on 4th July, check out their popularity on Google trends leading up to the day. Understanding which new products are in demand will allow you to produce a holistic marketing campaign and target consumers with personalized advertisements.
1. Convey to people that you care about their safety
Americans are hoping that the worst of the pandemic is behind them. But states and CDC are still recommending precautions such as washing hands, wearing masks, and maintaining some level of social distance.
Here, brands can help customers in their quest to celebrate the 4th of July safely. Little things such as adding complimentary masks, face shields, gloves, and hand sanitizers to Independence Day deals will show consumers that you care about them.
Of course, fireworks and soaps would be an odd pairing. But considering that 2020 has been the year of pandemics, a potential World War and UFOs — it would be the least bizarre offering of this year.
2. Participate in a virtual parade
The coming Independence Day has marketing opportunities that previously did not exist, especially in the digital realm. Many communities in the United States have decided to take parades online, creating an unprecedented marketing avenue for brands.
Sponsoring virtual parades might be uncharted territory for you but it’s a territory worth exploring. The pandemic has caused life to move online and marketers should get with the times.
Since Independence Day parades are usually organized by communities, there’s also an opportunity in them for location-based marketing. Lookout for any virtual parades your customers might be interested in and reach out for sponsorship.
Using this new medium, you can put out their message of solidarity, unity, and cooperation. This message will resonate with Americans who are feeling pessimistic due to everything that has unfolded in 2020.
3. Add a flavor of patriotism to your products
Fourth of July is all about celebrating America and everything it has to offer. So don’t shy away from incorporating patriotic imagery and colors in your marketing efforts. To take things a step further, you can even combine patriotic imagery with products that are currently in demand and create new items.
A recent study has shown widespread mask-wearing could prevent a second outbreak of COVID-19. Currently, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is also recommending that Americans should cover their faces to stop the spread of novel coronavirus.
Retail businesses can help Americans curtail outbreaks by promoting special flag-themed face masks. These masks will promote a sense of responsibility in Americans to not only stay uninfected themselves but to stop others from getting the virus as well.
4. Keep the focus on diversity
America is fortunate enough to have people from diverse backgrounds. People belonging to different ethnicities and colors have shaped this country. Independence Day is an opportunity to celebrate American diversity.
Now more than ever, it’s a time to shine a light on the minority communities. And in light of recent events, it is the time for brands to uplift voices of those that are feeling suppressed and discriminated against.
Instead of tone-deaf messages and empty platitudes, enterprises should walk the walk. This means consciously joining forces with African-America, Latino, and Native-American influencers while promoting products designed by individuals from disadvantaged communities.
Independence Day this year will allow millions of Americans to blow off steam after months of distress. It will also be a day where they look towards their national identity as a source of strength and unity in a polarizing time. Businesses need to keep this sentiment in mind as they try to drive their campaign home.
The post Ecommerce marketing this Independence Day will be tricky: Four must dos appeared first on Search Engine Watch.
- Running an ecommerce store makes it a must to know customers’ buying habits, insights about your marketing campaign performance, and how well your pricing strategy is performing.
- However, your average order value (AOV) can be a key to getting more into customers’ carts and increasing your revenue.
- Kevin Payne lets you in on how you can increase your AOV through some smart, simple, and effective methods.
When you’re running an ecommerce store, you should know that average order value (AOV) can help you get to know your customers’ buying habits, insights about your marketing campaign performance, and how well your pricing strategy is performing.
In this post, we’ll talk about what AOV is, the simple formula to calculate it, and how to increase the AOV of your own ecommerce store.
What is “Average Order Value” (AOV) and how it works
Average order value refers to how much each customer spends per cart checkout with your store. It’s calculated by dividing your total revenue in a given period by your total number of orders in that same period.
So say your total revenue in a single month was $ 40,000 and you had 1,000 total orders that month. That means your AOV is $ 40.
Increasing your AOV may be more effective at boosting your overall sales and revenue than, say, focusing on getting more store visitors. This is because you’d be earning more per customer from the start who are purchasing more or higher-priced products instead of trying to get more customers to purchase, say, one item at a time.
Nine tips to increase your ecommerce store’s AOV
With all the newest developments we see in ecommerce software and seeing better research about consumer ecommerce habits, there are several new tactics you can try to increase your AOV in 2020. Let’s take a look at them here.
1. Create a free shipping incentive
Offering free shipping when a customer hits a minimum purchase amount is a classic tactic you can take. This still works today because free shipping feels like an added value to your store.
For your customers, they’re more likely to want to get more products for their money than to put into a shipping fee. So make the most of this insight by setting a minimum purchase amount for consumers to be eligible for free shipping.
Source: Ulta Beauty
2. Start a minimum spend discount tier
If you’re running a promotion, creating special discount tiers can do great to increase AOV. For example, during an end-of-season sale, you can offer discount tiers for 15%, 20%, and 25% off if consumers hit different minimum purchase amounts.
This works by introducing bigger savings for customers. So if they were already eyeing multiple products from your store, this incentivizes them to check out all these items to get the most savings.
Source: Core dna
3. Introduce limited time offers
Another way to get customers to purchase more in a single transaction is by introducing some limited time offers, like a seasonal product or discount code on a specific collection. Be sure these are compelling enough to inspire people to take action.
Set an end date for your promo, and make sure the added value consumers get is irresistible in their eyes.
Your limited time offer also isn’t limited to simply discounts either. Think outside the box. Can you offer next-day or even same-day shipping if customers order by a certain time? Can you include freebies if they buy within the next two hours?
Source: Core dna
4. Have a flexible exchange and returns policy
One way to encourage customers to purchase more from your store is if they know they’re able to return or exchange items that either don’t fit or meet their expectations.
Assuming your items are things like clothing or gadgets and not items like facial brushes or hygiene products, you can create a fair exchange and returns policy that gives people a reason to buy.
Also pair this with other tactics above, such as a minimum purchase for free shipping or discount tiers so you’re sure customers will be adding more items to cart without fear that they can’t return or exchange items later.
5. Display a related products section
With the right ecommerce platform and integrations, you can display a “Related Products” section on your product pages to display items that are similar to the one customers are currently viewing.
This works especially well for products that have different styles or colors or belong to the same category.
This section essentially shows your customers that, if they aren’t really liking the specific product they’re viewing, there are related ones they can check out instead.
6. Offer valuable add-ons
Add-ons may be displayed like related products but they vary in their use in that add-ons are offered as a way to complement something users have in their cart.
For example, when a customer adds a shaving set into their cart, they’re offered supplementary items like a post-shave balm or a razor stand.
7. Promote products in sets
Another way to increase AOV is by bundling your products into a higher-priced set. If customers were to purchase these items separately, they would end up spending more – but a well-curated set can offer them all the products they want with a small discount.
This tactic also works well with travel-sized items or trial packs for customers who are either new to your store or are looking to try new things from your brand.
The example below by Joy Organics uses this tactic well. They put together their best-sellers into one “Sampler Pack” so customers can try their top-selling products without purchasing things in either a full size or complete pack.
Source: Joy Organics
8. Include trust badges and customer reviews
You can increase AOV by increasing the level of security and trust that customers feel when browsing your store. After all, customers are more likely to purchase from an ecommerce store that they’re sure is reputable.
Source: Book Your Data
Book Your Data does a great job of showing how rust badges and reviews featuring loyal and even popular customers can establish trust with new visitors right away.
Sprinkle in trust badges like “Safe Checkout” or “Money-back Guarantee” across your site. Icons like free shipping or free returns can also entice customers to check out more items.
Yet another way to establish trust right away is through customer reviews. Display reviews on product pages or for your entire store. If customers loved your next-day shipping perk or easy exchange process, you can talk about those to ease new customers’ minds.
9. Nurture existing customers so they become repeat customers
Lastly, you’ll want to make sure your existing customers become loyal to your store. Loyal customers have been shown to spend 67% more than new customers – they’re more likely to make repeat purchases or check out more items per transaction.
So you’ll want to do some retention marketing. This can be as easy as implementing a content marketing strategy that aims to nurture existing customers with high-value content like inspirational blogs, relatable lifestyle quotes, and the like.
Plus, with content marketing, current marketing and sales efforts like excellent customer service and great products just become elevated in the eyes of customers. They see that you’re serious about meeting their needs and solving their problems in the long-term, so they will be more likely to stick around.
Start earning more per customer
Make your ecommerce store work better for you by implementing the tips and tactics above to increase average order value. Keep experimenting and creating new campaigns, and soon you’ll find which strategies work best with your customers.
The post Nine tips to increase the average order value (AOV) of your ecommerce store appeared first on Search Engine Watch.
This blog describes the PPC performance, during the stay-at-home period, of 3 eCommerce businesses and how we maximized revenue during a period of high demand.
Read more at PPCHero.com
- Many ecommerce stores struggle to boost conversions because 75% of people abandon the cart never to return.
- Speeding up your ecommerce conversions seems hard, but it isn’t. Using scarcity, urgency, and exclusivity to influence your potential customers into buying can significantly improve your conversions.
- Let’s have a look at five quick and lesser-known ways to speed up ecommerce conversions.
Fortunately, there are techniques to reduce cart abandonment and increase conversion rates. Let’s have a look at five quick and lesser-known ways to speed up ecommerce conversions.
1. Understand and fill the need gap – Scarcity, urgency, and exclusivity
Understanding scarcity, urgency, and exclusivity can be one of the best ways to influence your potential customers to make a purchase.
While the three terms are related to one another, the way they are implemented is different.
In scarcity, you inform customers that there are a limited number of items of a certain product left in the stock. And that you’re not sure when the product will be available next.
In urgency, you simply add a timer that says “order within the time limit to avail the offer”. Once the deadline is over, the customer won’t get additional benefits, such as a discount or free shipping.
Here are four ways to work around scarcity and urgency
- Let customers know that the product is exclusive and is manufactured on small batches so they might miss a unique item by not buying it right away.
- Highlight that the offer ends in a few hours/days.
- Let shoppers know how much time is left before they miss same-day shipping.
- Indicate how many people have bought the product (and are viewing it in real-time) to indicate that the item is in demand. This will make buyers feel a greater urgency to purchase before it gets sold out.
In exclusivity, you reward the customer if they make a purchase within a set timeline. Sephora, for instance, promises a free exclusive gift to customers on their birthday month. When the customer purchases something either online or in-store, they are entitled to receive a birthday gift from the brand.
2. Reduce price shock
Most of the people abandon carts during checkout because the extra costs, such as shipping and tax, are too high. To reduce cart abandonment and improve conversions, reduce price shock.
Is the shipping free? No. How much will it cost? Is there any tax associated with the purchase? Yes. How much will the customer have to pay?
Let your customers know all the other prices associated with the product upfront. Don’t just add these at the time of checkout. You will need to calculate the volumetric weight for each product to display an accurate shipping price. If you ship your products internationally, you will also need to know import fees for each country you’re exporting your products to.
You can reduce price shock by a couple of ways
- Avoid increasing the product’s price at the last moment, that is, during checkout.
- Highlight shipping costs and taxes on the products page. If you can’t calculate taxes or shipping fees up front, add a disclaimer stating “shipping and tax will be calculated during checkout”.
3. Allow guest checkout
More than 26% of shoppers don’t complete their purchase because the checkout process was too long or complicated.
Having people register on your site is great, but it can negatively impact your conversion rate. Sometimes all a customer wants is to place the order as soon as possible.
You will have their name and email address when they complete the transaction anyway.
Major ecommerce sites offer guest checkouts to streamline their checkout process.
Apart from allowing customers to purchase without an account, they have also added the option to “create an account” on the checkout page.
If you are sceptical about completely eliminating the need for the registration to complete the purchase, you can test the option for a few days to see how guest checkout impacts your conversions.
4. Follow up on abandoned carts
It is essential to follow up with customers who browsed products, added it to their cart, and left without completing the transaction. That way, you will be able to understand the reason for cart abandonment.
One of the best ways to follow up with potential customers is by sending emails to remind them that they have left something in their cart.
Around 45% of people open cart abandonment emails, 21% of them click on the link, and 50% of people end up buying something.
ThemeIsle, a sister site of CodeinWP, sent a series of three emails to users who abandoned their cart over a period of five days.
They changed the subject line every time and saw a surge in email clicks.
- After 60 minutes: Subject line “Forgot something? It looks like you have items in your cart”.
The result: 50% of emails were opened, out of which 21% received clicks.
- After 24 hours: Subject line “What’s that in your shopping cart?”
The result: 41% of emails were opened, out of which 3% received clicks.
- After 5 days: Subject line “Are you sure? One last reminder about the items in your cart (including a 10% welcome discount).”
- The result: 39% of emails were opened, out of which 8% received clicks.
When sending emails to potential customers, follow the best copywriting practices to increase the chances of conversion. Also, add the images of the products and offer incentives, such as a discount coupon or free shipping, to entice users into taking action.
GoDaddy sent me an email when I saved a domain in my cart but didn’t purchase it. The email had a promo code offering 30% off on anything new for a limited time to tempt me into purchasing a domain immediately.
5. Highlight Your Return Policy
Many ecommerce stores don’t highlight their return and refund policy, but you should. More than 50% of customers read the return policy before buying from a website.
Customers want assurance from ecommerce stores that if the product isn’t as they expected, then they would get their money back. So, ensure that your return policy is clear and concise. It helps in building trust with your potential customers.
There are two ways to highlight your return policy:
- Adding it on the product’s page.
- By creating a separate landing page that contains everything you would like your customers to know about the return policy.
It would be great if you can leverage both ways. There is a limit to what you can include on the product’s page, so people who want to know more about the policy can visit the landing page.
Speeding up your ecommerce conversions seems hard, but it isn’t. Using scarcity, urgency, and exclusivity to influence your potential customers into buying can significantly improve your conversions.
Allow prospects to checkout without having to create an account to streamline their buying process. Show all the price (shipping, tax, and others) right on the product’s page to reduce price shock. Follow up on abandoned carts through email and highlight your return policy to build trust and confidence with customers.
The post Five quick ways to speed up your ecommerce conversions appeared first on Search Engine Watch.
- Ecommerce is suddenly a reality for millions of businesses who may not have had online selling on their radar prior to COVID-19.
- Consumers in most countries are cutting back on discretionary spending as optimism for economic recovery has fallen. Groceries, household supplies, personal care, and entertainment are among the categories in which consumers plan to maintain spending.
- In this post, we’ll take a look at the current state and how businesses will need to adapt their ecommerce and SEO strategy to succeed post-COVID-19 (whatever that may end up looking like).
As countries including the USA head into phased reopening, countless questions remain about the business landscape ahead. Will changes in consumer behaviour persist and if so, to what degree? Is there a second wave coming that will derail recovery efforts and send consumers back into lockdown? How can you plan for recovery when no one really knows quite what “recovery” means?
In the face of such uncertainty, one thing is for sure, companies need to get in position to gather and analyze data quickly—to be agile and respond to whatever twists and turns Coronavirus throws our way next. Regardless of industry or location, that responsive, adaptable strategy is going to rely heavily on ecommerce and SEO.
Ecommerce is suddenly a reality for millions of businesses who may not have had online selling on their radar prior to COVID-19. And while search optimization is a discipline as old as search engines themselves, dramatic differences in consumer behaviour may require an entirely new approach to SEO going forward. In this post, we’ll take a look at the current state and how businesses will need to adapt their ecommerce and SEO strategy to succeed post-COVID-19 (whatever that may end up looking like).
Consumer behaviour and ecommerce: Present state
Fresh off of an unprecedented leap of $ 8.5 billion in U.S. CPG (in-store and online) sales during the first two weeks of March, conditions have quickly shifted once again. Panic buying gave way to record-high ecommerce sales in mid-March, after which we saw a week-over-week decline (-22%) in online sales between March 21-28. Overall, according to Nielsen, U.S. ecommerce sales right now are above the rates of one year ago. CPG, in particular, is soaring and up nearly 42% over the week ending April 4, 2019.
Consumers in most countries are cutting back on discretionary spending as optimism for economic recovery has fallen. Groceries, household supplies, personal care, and entertainment are among the categories in which consumers plan to maintain spending. As of April 19, 32% of US respondents to a McKinsey survey were anticipating a drop in their household income and over half expect the impact on their household finances to persist for four months or more.
Kantar/Google research shows even greater pessimism and pegs 71% of consumers in G7 countries as expecting their income will be impacted by Coronavirus.
Source: Think With Google
Online and phone ordering with contactless delivery or curbside pickup has become the modus operandi for millions of businesses.
Businesses need to be able to listen closely to consumer fears, needs, and preferences as they evolve. Customers may not be comfortable heading straight back into crowded retail environments. Vacations closer to home may be preferred by many. Businesses will be challenged to understand the customer experience as it’s happening and to respond with optimizations in real-time to meet the individual’s needs.
In addition to this increased listening and awareness, consumers want to hear from the companies with whom they choose to do business. Even prior to COVID-19, 64% of consumers and 84% of business buyers expected companies to respond to them in real-time, according to Salesforce research. Right now, consumers are looking to brands for guidance and expertise in solving the challenges they are experiencing navigating the path to a new normal. The vast majority of consumers across sectors want to hear from brands just as often or even more than before the Coronavirus pandemic.
How SEO will drive ecommerce success as the coronavirus pandemic evolves
The relationship between ecommerce and SEO has become far more complex than how you optimize product listings for search.
But whether you’re ecommerce first, selling online as a sideline, or now enabling ordering and payment online with curbside or in-store pickup options, the insights gleaned from SEO will power more effective operations across the board. Here’s why:
SEO provides real-time insight
BrightEdge (disclosure: a client company), back in 2019 surveyed a sample of over 200 digital marketers and found that over 86% of marketers stated the real-time research is critical to success. Furthermore, SEO insights are being used in all manner of digital marketing campaigns across paid search, video, email, and display.
Real-time search insights – especially now – enable us to tap into localized pockets of demand and appear in front of customers with rapidly evolving needs and intent. SEO insights, more than any other type of data, give us a clear line of sight into the voice of the customer through search queries, interactions with local search results, site analytics, and more.
SEO paves the way for both desktop and mobile experience
Consumers may not be searching for restaurants during the commute home from the office right now, but that doesn’t diminish the importance of mobile-friendliness, especially when it comes to ecommerce. As Google itself says, when it comes to mobile marketing, “speed is table stakes.”
Staying at home doesn’t necessarily mean switching to desktop, particularly where multiple family members may each be home and browsing on their own mobile device.
Consider switching to next-gen image formats like JPEG 2000 or WebP for mobile, with PNGs or JPEGs for desktop browsers. Look out for render-blocking resources, inefficient code, unused CSS and other page speed or site speed issues that may be hindering your performance. Use Google’s Test My Site as a starting point.
Search trends are key in staying on top of customer expectations
Who was even thinking about curbside pickup this time last year? Today, it’s pretty much expected that if you are open for business, you’ll provide this fulfilment option for customers who are not comfortable entering your store (in some places, entering the store may still be prohibited by public health regulatory agencies).
Those businesses that caught onto the trend in early to mid-March were ahead of the groundswell in early April. Being among the first in your space to catch onto a massive change in consumer demand such as this can help you win over new business and better serve your existing customer base. Google Trends has a Coronavirus Trends resource business should be keeping an eye on. These are helpful insights for marketing but could influence operations, sales, and customer service, as well.
Search spans Google, Amazon, YouTube, and more
Organic search commands the largest proportion of channel share, accounting for 53.5% of site traffic, on average. A comprehensive ecommerce SEO strategy accounts for Google, but other product search opportunities, as well. Amazon, for one, cut back its service to third-party sellers but as this comes back online, there may be opportunities to expand your ecommerce presence in the world’s largest marketplace. Check out this guide to improving rankings on Amazon to get you started.
Video search is another massive opportunity for companies now selling online, as Nielsen reports video streaming is up 100% in some markets due to Coronavirus. Even before lockdown, YouTube was both the world’s second-largest search engine and second-most visited website.
YouTube SEO takes into consideration factors ranging from watch time and keyword targeting to sentiment, engagement, channel authority and more. Learn more about optimizing this channel in SEW’s YouTube Optimization: Complete Guide.
Post-COVID-19 SEO tips for ecommerce
Whether you’re an experienced online seller or just transitioning to ecommerce as a result of physical distancing, your customers may be entirely different from who they were even three months ago. A few tips to help you get in front of the right people with the right content:
- Revisit your adherence to ecommerce SEO best practices. You may need to renew your keyword research, update on-page optimizations to reflect changes in consumer behaviour, reorganize your site structure and optimize for the new customer journey, refresh and add new content (particularly around how you are responding to COVID-19-related issues such as food safety or package handling).
Ensure that you are monitoring trends in real-time whilst planning for ease of lockdown restrictions, seasonal and product demand. For example, above we can see large demand for products related to how people now are investing in their dwellings, particularly, with spring here and summer coming, and in outdoor spaces, it is important to seize opportunities where demand is high and also plan for future trends and new normal(s).
- Optimize your ecommerce site for voice search. Make sure you’re positioned to trigger a response when consumers ask their voice assistant for a product like yours. If you are not yet familiar with speakable schema, there’s a good primer here to help you get ready for it.
- Automate SEO intelligently. Taking the legwork out of routine SEO tasks can make marketers more efficient, freeing up valuable time for more creative optimizations and strategy. Of course, intelligent automation can dramatically improve search performance, too, by recognizing and optimizing for opportunities in real-time.
- Consider your headless commerce and content options. Make your products and content even more accessible, removing barriers to conversion in the process, by incorporating headless commerce into your strategy. This is the process of separating the front and back ends of your ecommerce application so you can sell directly through social media, for example.
Most important of all is that you are set up to measure, analyze, and activate the mass of user signals consumers are sharing with you across search interactions and your ecommerce website. Whatever economic conditions and user preferences COVID-19 generates next, those businesses that are able to quickly understand and move on new opportunities will win the day.
The post Ecommerce and SEO: Past, present, and post COVID-19 appeared first on Search Engine Watch.
We will take a look at what a conversion funnel is, the parts that it consists of, and the 7 best ways to optimize the conversion funnel to make more sales.
Read more at PPCHero.com
- Research from Google suggests that the correlation between page load times and conversion rates is strong, especially on mobile web pages.
- One of the simplest changes you can make to your website is limiting the data loaded as a visitor navigates through product listings.
- More simple yet surprisingly quick things that can help speed up your ecommerce site.
For online retailers, the abandoned site/cart problem has many factors. Reducing the number of clicks to checkout, eliminating surprises in price displays and offering guest checkout options are some well-known ways to fight cart abandonment on an ecommerce site, but smart merchants are always searching for ways to keep potential customers from leaving the site before making a purchase.
Research from Google (among other surveys conducted in the last few years) suggests that the correlation between page load times and conversion rates is strong, especially on mobile web pages. In short, slow loading times are stopping sales in their tracks.
Speeding up page load can have a huge impact on your business. Just check out Google’s Test My Site tool, which can help you estimate load time’s impact on revenue based on the number of visitors to your site, your average conversion rate and average order value. Depending on your results, you may want to start small or jump into wholesale site adjustments to reclaim revenue lost to site abandonment. Let’s go through speed-oriented changes at three different levels of difficulty.
Level one: Simple yet quick changes you can make yourself
Images on your website create the biggest data transfer need when someone loads up your page on their browser. One of the simplest changes you can make to your website is limiting the data loaded as a visitor navigates through product listings. That doesn’t necessarily mean you should remove images, it just means you should be smarter about how they’re used.
The simplest way to do this is to make sure your customer’s browser is loading the right size image for their needs. If they’re on mobile, they don’t need the same size product images as they would on desktop. You can manually add differently-sized images and set parameters for when they’re displayed, but your ecommerce platform should offer a way to make images responsive to the customer’s device. You upload the highest-quality image you have, and the user gets the size they need based on the device they are using.
Another best practice is to limit the number of items displayed at one time on each page. Don’t load 100 results per page when only 15 can fit on-screen at once. Instead, use “Load More” buttons and let shoppers tell your site when they’re ready for more. This allows shoppers to scroll segments of your product listings, without feeling daunted by dozens of pages of results to sift through, while also keeping load times ultra fast. Your page will only need to load a handful of images at a time when the user is ready to view them, and their overall scrolling and the shopping experience will be simplified.
Level two: You might need the help of your partners
As with images, reducing the amount of other data that needs to load when a user first visits your website will help speed up their experience. The content they encounter first on your site is called “above-the-fold” content and should be what loads first. You might be surprised to learn that plenty of websites load third-party widgets before getting to the actual content.
Level three: Teamwork makes the dream work
Consistent experiences across desktop and mobile have been the goal for merchants since the iPhone’s introduction in 2007 launched the era of mobile browsing. In the 2010s, responsive design delivered significantly better mobile experiences and played a significant role in the shift of internet access taking place mostly on desktop to mostly on mobile.
Now, blending the functionality of websites with the simplicity of apps is the latest move to provide fast, simple mobile commerce experiences. Progressive web apps, (PWAs) which were introduced several years ago but are seeing more significant adoption now, have a few attributes that make them unique, and uniquely-suited to online sales.
PWAs are responsive and load incredibly fast, giving the sensation of instantaneous load times. They can work offline, thanks to progressive updates through service workers, and are secure because service workers require encrypted data transmissions. PWAs can be installed on mobile device home screens and support push notifications like apps, but can also be accessed and shared using URLs like websites.
In short, PWAs can solve the problems of slow page load speeds on desktop or mobile, but also unlock new ways for merchants to interact with shoppers, provide great digital experiences, increase loyalty and empower customers to advocate for the brand. You probably aren’t going to build a PWA alone, but brands who do find many benefits in the process.
When a potential customer visits an online store, it’s typically because they have some level of interest in the products sold there, which is why it’s frustrating for merchants to lose a sale once they have come that far. Don’t let page load times be the reason bail. There are many factors and many fixes like the ones we’ve reviewed here that can impact load speeds and keep customers happily shopping on your ecommerce site.
Jimmy Duvall is Chief Product Officer at BigCommerce.
The post Faster pages, stronger sales: Optimizing ecommerce site speeds appeared first on Search Engine Watch.
In a continued effort to slow the spread of COVID-19, local and state governments have issued orders for nonessential businesses and establishments to close their doors. These orders, combined with the lack of consumers making their way into physical stores, have had a major impact on small businesses across the country. Many brick-and-mortar small businesses have determined the only way to stay open and serve customers is to transition operations to online ecommerce business, which is something several businesses will do for the first time.
For brick-and-mortar businesses suddenly struggling to figure out how to bring their stores online during this unprecedented time, there are several key considerations. Here are six steps that can be taken to quickly establish an ecommerce business presence and continue reaching customers.
1. Set up an online platform
The first step for any business owner considering ecommerce is to research the platforms available to determine which best fits the needs of your business and your budget. There are a number of cost-efficient ecommerce providers that allow small businesses to get up and running in a matter of minutes. You can check out a full list of the ecommerce providers Avalara works with.
When evaluating ecommerce platforms, there are a number of factors to consider, including multiplatform operations, shipping and fulfillment features, security measures, and compliance capabilities. If your business is transitioning to online for the first time, simplicity in functionality both on the back end and customer-facing features will likely be top of mind. Most ecommerce platform providers have several different plans designed to best fit your business. A good rule of thumb when deciding which plan is best for you is to keep in mind the following:
- How many products do you plan on selling? If you’re not planning to sell a lot of products, a simpler plan with lower rates may be suitable. There is no product limit for many providers’ main plans.
- What features do you need? If you’re looking to have a site that enables customers to view your products and make purchases, a simpler plan is likely the best fit. However, many businesses find it’s beneficial to include additional features that contribute to positive customer experiences, like customer loyalty plans, abandoned cart recovery, and more.
Note that during this time, your business may not have the luxury of conducting extensive research on multiple platforms, and instead may need to rely on something that works now. Fortunately, there are providers that offer out-of-the-box functionality that will enable you to get your basic store up and running quickly.
“For business owners who have invested their energy into building lasting physical storefronts, the process of moving online doesn’t have to be intimidating, even when the future of your brand relies on your ability to launch and drive online sales. Ecommerce platforms, like BigCommerce, are designed with out-of-the-box functionality and application integrations to ensure that even the most novice sellers can get their stores online quickly, and offer the tools to help their business grow now and for years to come. In these uncertain times, having an online presence is an essential way to stay connected to your customers and continue driving revenue. While it may feel overwhelming to move online so quickly, this an easy business decision that will pay long-lasting dividends.”
— Meghan Stabler, VP of Product Marketing and Communications, BigCommerce
Once you’ve identified a platform that works best for you, the next step is to register your domain name and get your account set up — all of which can be done from any connected device. Once you’re in, it’s time to start customizing the features of your website, which begins in step #2.
2. Determine which products you’ll sell online
Given the necessary timeliness of your efforts to transition store functions to ecommerce, it’s important to prioritize which products you’ll be selling online, so your most profitable and in-demand products are available for purchase as you launch your website. It can feel like you need to have every product in your store available immediately, but by prioritizing the most popular products first, you can get your online operations up and running then begin fulfilling orders while adding additional inventory.
3. Diversify your payment methods
Setting up your accepted payment methods is a crucial part of converting a browser into a buyer. Consider which payment methods are the most commonly used and accommodate the largest number of customers. Fortunately, most ecommerce providers offer integrations with the most common payment methods like Visa, Mastercard, PayPal, Apple Pay, and more. If you’re still unsure of which payment methods you’ll need to accept, a good rule of thumb is to incorporate the same payment methods you offer through your in-store point-of-sale system.
4. Set up your shipping and returns functions
Once you’ve outlined your products and set up payment methods, the next step is to ensure you can get products to customers. Shipping, fulfillment, and returns can be a major roadblock for many small businesses making the transition from brick-and-mortar to online. A key feature that should be included in your ecommerce platform capabilities is shipping options, including drop shipping, printable shipping labels, and pre-setup shipping providers.
If you’re fulfilling orders yourself, consider using a shipping app like ShipStation, which helps automate shipping for merchants of all sizes, and offers small businesses discounted shipping rates with USPS, UPS, and FedEx.
If you’re concerned about how to fulfill orders or that your current warehouse might be unable to fulfill orders, consider using an outsourced provider, like ShipBob, which processes orders for thousands of ecommerce brands. It’s also worth pointing out that your storefront can serve as a temporary fulfillment center during this time: It serves the dual benefit of getting the product to your customers quickly while simultaneously ensuring all that in-store inventory doesn’t go to waste. This is a model that works quite successfully for big-box retailers like Target.
Shipping costs are often something brick-and-mortar retailers haven’t had to consider when it comes to pricing, so be mindful of a product’s shipping cost and be sure it’s clearly displayed in the shopping cart. Be transparent about shipping costs throughout the shopping experience and avoid the risk of having customers abandon their cart if they discover a shipping cost “gotcha” at checkout.
5. Plan your online marketing strategy with social media
Perhaps one of the most important steps in this transition is communicating how your business will now be selling. This is where social media posts and advertising come into play to be certain that customers are in the know about your online strategy. On the upside, most brick-and-mortar shops are already using social media to market to their customers. However, it’s critical that businesses over-communicate the change in operations to ensure regular customers are aware of the new selling channel, and to capitalize on the expanded customer audience you can now reach.
Social media can be used to promote your new online presence and as a platform to advocate for your business’s distinguishing factors and unique value-add. Use this opportunity to tell your story and highlight the characteristics that make your small business stand out to consumers. Not only are consumers turning to social media to learn where they can continue making regular purchases during this time, but they’re especially inclined to support small businesses.
Another option, when using social media, is to go beyond your marketing efforts and consider using social selling platforms as a complement to your newly formed online store. In today’s social network-driven society, social media platforms are no longer just an avenue to increase brand awareness, but an opportunity to connect with customers and make sales in the social threads customers are already sifting through.
Comment selling platforms, like CommentSold, are blending content and commerce to convert social media comments into sales and automatically invoice shoppers from their social media timelines. By leveraging this method of “headless commerce”, or separating the front end and back end of an ecommerce application, businesses can easily combine their social media marketing and online selling for quick sales conversions and limited friction throughout the browsing and shopping experience. Through social selling capabilities, businesses can save customers the time they would otherwise have to spend sifting through websites to find the items that best fit their wants and needs.
“Captivating shoppers online can be increasingly difficult as more businesses turn to online during this time, so reaching customers where they are is more important than ever before. Social selling platforms allow retailers to connect directly with customers via live video and product content on Facebook and Instagram. Creative tools, like instant comment purchasing and real-time live sales events, can help retailers grab and keep their online customers’ attention.”
— Andy Smith, COO, CommentSold
6. Preview, test, and publish your store
The final step to bringing your store online is to ensure every function of your site is operational. Double-check each function by asking yourself these questions:
- Does my checkout work? Make sure orders work across all payment methods, your shipping options and charges are correct and visible, the items and price in your cart are correct. Check if discounts/promotions apply correctly and tax is calculated once shoppers enter their location. While often overlooked, ensuring sales tax is calculated correctly in real-time is critical to maintaining a positive shopping experience, and also helps prevent your business from being at risk of tax audits down the road.
- Is the content presented in a professional manner? Proofread all copy and double-check that spelling and grammar are correct across the website. It’s also important to check images, videos, and other forms of multimedia across platforms to make sure they don’t interfere with the customer experience.
- Does my store work on various channels and internet browsers? Consumers want to access products online whenever they choose from whatever device they are on. Testing your online site for functionality across channels is important to ensure that you’re not turning away potential customers who are unable to access your site.
At a time when more and more small businesses are at risk of closing their doors due to uncontrollable circumstances, ecommerce provides a viable alternative that, if executed on quickly and decisively, allows business owners to keep their operations up and running. Small businesses can take advantage of this unexpected time to explore new selling opportunities and ways to further serve their customers — something they might have otherwise not had the opportunity to do. Fortunately, the technology that exists today allows even the smallest of businesses to quickly ramp up online operations, reaching a broader audience, and incorporating all the necessary functions needed to provide a comprehensive, frictionless online shopping experience.
Content courtesy of Avalara.
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