Your e-commerce store has been up and running for a few years. That is great news, congratulations. Your store has graduated from an awkward and painful infancy into a somewhat less painful adolescence. It is an exciting time. With a more certain footing, you can start testing different tactics to monetize your e-commerce store more efficiently.
Keep reading to discover the 5 steps you can take to push your e-commerce store to the next level..
1. Double Check the Current E-Commerce Store Platform
There are several choices for e-commerce platforms. If your site is not running on a modern e-commerce platform, its now the time to consider relocating.
How can you tell if you need to change platforms?
When launching you might have taken a few shortcuts to get your store up and running. Trust me, it’s ok. You made the right decision as you have made it this far. Now that you are trying to take your e-commerce store to the next level, you should try to identify and remove any bottlenecks preventing growth.
If you are struggling with SEO, payment processing or site reliability, it is probably time to consider switching platforms.
Shopify's e-commerce platform is fantastic, they are publicly traded and they have hundreds of millions of dollars to build out their platform. Out of the box, their SEO is fantastic. Shopify supports most of the popular payment processors and is extremely reliable. In addition, there are hundreds of applications available via their app store that further extend the platforms capabilities.
If you do not feel comfortable switching platforms on your own, you can find contractors online on sites like Upwork.
2. Update / Upgrade Your E-Commerce Store Branding
Now that you have been up and running for a few years, it is time to put a solid branding strategy into play. If you are like most businesses a lot has changed since you originally launched your store. Does your original branding match your business today?
You are going to want to make sure that all of your branding looks great. This includes all of your product images. If you do not have high quality images for each of your products you are going to want to start preparing to source new images.
Remember the old saying, a picture is worth a thousand words. This is even more true for e-commerce.People remember up to 80 percent of what they see, but only 20 percent of what they read. Make sure that your product images and overall branding help people remember your new e-commerce store.
Do not make a massive project out of updating or upgrading your branding. Take it one step at a time. If you got a bit lazy with your product images, take time to update your process for taking new product images. Then go back into your existing inventory and start updating existing products.
You should also take small steps to update your branding. Updating your website and logo all in one shotmay be too large of a project to undertake while also running your business day to day. Break out the project into smaller chunks. Start with updating your logo. Swap it out on your existing site. If you are happy with it, then move on to redesigning portions of your website.
3. SEO Optimization for Your E-Commerce Store
Search Engine Optimization is always a moving target. Google recently updated their search results to effectively penalize sites that are not mobile optimized, it was an event the mainstream press called mobilegeddon.
If your e-commerce site is not mobile optimized you are going to miss out on the ever growing pool of users shopping online from their mobile devices. You do not need a separate mobile optimized site like you might have needed back three or four years ago.
You are looking for a responsive design. Simply stated, the design responds to the type of device you are using when on the site. One of the great benefits of using a larger e-commerce platform like I recommended in step 1, is that they offer responsive templates that you can customize to match your branding.
This is also a good time to check out all of your product descriptions and make sure they are unique.Copying and pasting product descriptions from manufacturers is a big no no. You want to make sure that all of your product descriptions are unique. You can use tools such as copyscape to check the uniqueness of your descriptions.
You also want to ensure that all of your product page titles and meta descriptions are in place and effectively communicate the product. Your page title and meta descriptions show up in search results, make sure they are up to date and entice potential buyers to click through to your site.
4. Measure and Improve Customer Engagement for Your E-Commerce Store
While an email list of 100,000 may sound like a huge list, if none of the individuals on the list are engaged the list size becomes much less impressive. How often are you engaging with your customers? If the answer is ‘I’m not sure’ or ‘once a month’, it is not enough.
A great strategy for increasing customer engagement is the use of surveys. Email your customers with a survey asking them questions about their experiences with the site. Use a service like Survey Monkey. The feedback you receive will be invaluable.
You can also use tools to survey all of your website visitors on site.
You should also engage with customers and potential customers on social media. While it may be more difficult to survey on social networks, you should still attempt to better understand your audience as soon as possible.
A great tool for testing the engagement of users on social media is a contest or giveaway. Remember to keep it simple and on topic. If you are selling widgets on your site, you do not want to offer a free iPad for entering the giveaway. Offer a widget or something that customers of your store would show an interest in. You want an engaged audience, not just someone looking to score a free iPad and then drop off of your list.
Now it is time to take all of the feedback you received and start making changes. Try to address any low hanging fruit first. Potential customers might be worried because you do not have a phone number listed on your site. Maybe existing customers have been confused with a shipping policy.
Ignore any feedback based upon pricing or requesting discounts. You can make those changes at any time.Look specifically for feedback on your product or the ordering process.
5. Double Down on Advertising for Your E-Commerce Store
How has your e-commerce site been attracting customers? If the majority of customers are attracted from paid traffic sources it is time to audit the existing advertising campaigns.
If Google AdWords are working, dig into the relevant search terms and make sure that you are not missing out on any big opportunities. Google’s keyword planning tool in Adwords is a great resource and may unearth a few keywords or areas that you are not taking advantage of.
Keep in mind that if you are not tweaking your campaigns frequently you are most likely wasting money. You will benefit by updating any keywords or campaigns that are not performing well and increasing spend on those campaigns that are working well. Online consumer habits change quickly. Constantly monitor your campaigns.
Not advertising yet? It is time to consider your first campaign, here is a quick article on our first e-commerce advertising campaign. Do not make the same mistakes I did when setting up advertising campaigns for my wife’s online store.
The key to taking your e-commerce business to the next level is focusing on aspects of your business that have been working and improving areas that are not. It sounds simple, but how many times in the past few months have you sat down and thought about any of the items mentioned above?
It is easy to get caught up in the day to day minutia of running your online store. I have repeatedly made this mistake. Take a few hours per week to think about strategy. Create a recurring event in your calendar to ensure that you sit down and think about taking your e-commerce store to the next level.
Guest Writer: Robert B.