Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Do or Die Situation with Ecommerce Sites Mushrooming

Ecommerce has arrived in a big way, and is here to stay. Today, more and more small and medium businesses are turning to ecommerce to improve their performance and figures. With a vast market to tap, ecommerce sites are going all out to woo customers in a big way. However, businesses need to keep up with the ever changing scenario and algorithms that can either make or break a business. It is vital for fledgling businesses to keep up with the times, lest they perish midway.  Here are some tips on how to keep up with the times. 

1.        Tweak the Performance

Today, most of the websites have more number of pages, which have grown in size as well. This is because of the several new features that are incorporated frequently. One problem with this development is that the pages tend to become painfully slower, often irritating visitors who lose their patience. According to Radware, today’s websites are markedly slower by about 21% when compared to about a year ago. Almost half the websites take an incredible 10 seconds to load, and the better equipped the website, the slower it is. It is not a secret that such slow websites don’t tend to draw the desirable traffic, subsequently affecting the conversion rates. Moreover, slow web pages are not tolerated by mobile users as they almost come to a standstill. With over half the traffic being attributed to mobile shoppers, it is all the more important to tweak the performance of your web pages. A fast web page is sure to attract better traffic. (Recently, Myntra.com announced to close it's site on May 1st, 2015)



2.       Keep Up With the Changes in SEO

With the SEO factor playing a vital role in today’s ecommerce business it is important to keep up with the changes. Last year alone saw several changes that any ecommerce site cannot afford to ignore. Ecommerce marketing companies need to be aware that Google has recognized the mushrooming of mobile users and has highlighted mobile friendly sites in searches. Google has done a lot of testing and hit upon using https as one of the ranking signals.SEO experts need to take note of this and have it implemented properly lest they end up with negative impact.

Moreover, Google is cracking down on suspicious looking links that could be spam. Penguin 3 created ripples back in 2012; hence ecommerce marketers should heed the warning and refrain from using anchor texts excessively, more so when the text and title keywords match. Using paid links and guest blogs too feature in spam detection. 

3.       Don’t Ignore Your Analytics

Auditing your analytics is an important part of the strategy to keep up with today’s scenario. Don’t worry too much if you do not have a capable in-house team to take care of the auditing of your analytics. You could always hire the services of an expert consulting company to take care of the audit of your analytics. Analytics audit ensures that the general implementation is not lagging. You can be sure that every page is tracked with the necessary tags; dashboards do their job of collecting the correct data, and account filters function properly by pulling up the appropriate data. Auditing analytics helps keep track of all micro and macro conversions, including the several campaigns that may be active. Mobile tracking too needs to be properlyimplemented. Even if you have had an audit done recently, it is always advisable to go in for an update to ensure nothing gets missed out. The campaign strategies used last year may be obsolete for all you know, and the only way to find out is through auditing your analytics by using the services of an expert.



4.       Mobile users need to be reckoned with

No ecommerce marketer worth his salt will ignore mobile users today. Over two thirds of emails are read using mobile devices. Only 40% of browsers using desktops access their social media network accounts. The rest, a good 60% prefer to log into their accounts using their mobiles. What’s more is 60% of the search traffic is directly attributed to mobile. This translates to almost 30 to 50% percent of traffic that comes to any ecommerce site is from mobile. Hence, if you haven’t gone in for responsive web designing/redesigning, it is high time you did. Smartphones and tablets play a major role today, and have a say in today’s sway in traffic to ecommerce marketing sites. Marketers cannot deny the fact that the customer acquisition rate has increased drastically, thanks to mobile users. Considerable research has gone into the purchase patterns of mobile users, and more often than not, the trend tends to be viral in nature. 

5.       More meaningful propositions

An ecommerce marketer may have a value proposition to offer, however it may not be enough unless it is compelling and matches the needs of the customer. A great way is to make use of coupons and deals and persuade the customers to buy more. Make use of coupon sharing sites like Couponmachine or Groupon to get even more referral customers back to your main site. No point in coming with a great offer that not many are interested in. Moreover, price alone should never be a consideration that a customer looks for, always try to add more value to the product by focusing more on the benefits than the price alone. Marketers may include campaigns like PPC, where only the most persuasive will come out successful in today’s highly competitive market.

6.       Email delivery optimization

Although the social media has weaned away most of the crowd, who prefer to ping and chat on these sites, email is still a force to reckon with. Over 90% of the existing email users check their inboxes at least once in a day, if not a couple of times. Most US email users are bombarded with not less than 11 brands through email. The figure for Facebook is 9, and Twitter is not far behind with 8. Email fares better at customer acquisition when compared to Facebook and Twitter, and the conversion rates too are better with email users. Users too prefer to get updates through email, instead of Facebook, as they believe the record is permanent and accessible at any time. Almost half the email users have made a minimum of one purchase by responding to email campaigns. However, it is important to ensure that the emails reach the recipients. For this any emails that bounce need to be removed instantly. Making the ‘unsubscribe’ option easier is important. Avoid cumbersome steps that can irritate a customer. It makes sense to always get the permission of the prospective customer first, before proceeding, so that time is not wasted with uninterested customers.

7.       Include international customers

Internet has ensured that there can be no geographical boundaries as far as businesses or customers are concerned. However, it doesn’t make too much sense when an ecommerce marketer shoots an email about promotions for Thanksgiving to a recipient located in Timbuktu, it obviously doesn’t make any sense at all. Hence it is important to segment emails geographically. This way, you won’t have someone ordering something that you simply cannot deliver thousands of miles away. Emails also need to have content that is country specific. Everyone knows that a flat in US usually denotes a flat tire; however a flat in the UK denotes an apartment. Categories need to be labeled appropriately according to the market they are meant for. It the site is a bilingual or multilingual one, ensure that the respective language experts are used for not just content creation, but for follow up through email, and for campaigns on the social media. 



8.       Know your social media strategy well

Today, the social media strategy that any ecommerce marketer adopts helps either make or break a business. The social media networks keep constantly changing their rules and often make it difficult for marketers to reach their target audience. However, one cannot deny the fact that the social media can prove to be a powerful ally for any marketing organization. They can help with branding and lend you the much needed authenticity that can make your brand accepted by a large audience. It is important to develop a channel strategy by studying the pluses and minuses of each social media channel. Selecting the appropriate content for the particular channel is also very important.

9.       Refining site search

Site searches have to be usable and effective at the same time, lest they do not serve the purpose they are meant for. Ensure that the site searches are more contextual in nature, and always feature contextual snippets. The searches also need to serve query-based list views, and ensure that there is a perfect match between the query and the product attributes that the customer seeks. Remember that the visitor’s attention needs to be held the first time, as most people browsing do not spend too much time at a site unless the search proves to be fruitful.

10.       SEM too needs auditing

Google Adwords made a drastic decision last year with the removal of the exact match type feature. Although this change was incorporated quite a while ago, negative keywords are still being used to stop ads popping up irrelevantly. Moreover, it makes sense to ensure that the ‘sold out’ and ‘no longer available’ products do not feature in the current campaigns. The least a marketer can do is offer an appropriate substitute, if one is available. Otherwise, it is better to remove such products as they can have a negative effect on customers. SEM auditing is crucial these days.

On the whole, today’s ecommerce marketers need to focus on not just feeling the pulse of the customer, but also in keeping up with the latest trends in online marketing. With changing algorithms having become the norm, change itself is the order of the day. 

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