Starting an ecommerce website can be relatively simply, yet having a successful website takes work. Picking a domain name and throwing up some products on a page won’t get you ranked number one on Google or get conversions coming. There are many mistakes that can happen when building an ecommerce website, and here are a few of the most common, along with solutions to the issues.
Not Knowing Your Audience
The first step to any digital marketing campaign, whether it’s SEO or PPC, is to identify your audience. For most businesses their response is “everyone is my audience”, however this may not be completely true. As an example, a previous client of ours offered fall alert systems to seniors. It’s pretty obvious we want to exclude most users who are under the age of 18, and even under 25 in some cases. You may think the focused audience would be seniors around the age of 55 and up. In this case the primary purchasers were children of the elderly around the age frame of 30-45. Content and ads were created to focus on this demographic which helped increase visitors to the site, which resulted in an increase in conversions.
By simply taking the time to find out who was making searches related to our focused keywords, where they were active, and what information they were looking for, we were able to pinpoint who we wanted to target. Companies often waste much of their budget going after just any user, when that budget could be allocated to a certain user who is more likely to convert.
Not Tracking Campaigns
Once a site goes live make sure to implement Google Analytics and Search Console. These tools allow for site owners to track how users are interacting on the site. By reviewing user interaction you can determine how users are getting to the site, where they are clicking, where they are leaving, and much much more. This will help give insight on pages that may need to be reviewed and changed. If users are landing on one specific page and leaving very quickly, increasing your bounce rate, you may want to change the layout of that page or add more features. Once the new layout is completed review the new traffic and compare it to previous periods to see how bounce rate has changed.
This will also help track how campaigns are performing. For instance, say you launch a new giveaway on social media and your sales increase for a three day period. How do you know those sales came from social media? You can guess or speculate, but with analytics you can show exactly which social media platform each order came from.
Lack of A/B Testing
As mentioned above, you have a page that’s performing marginally, you make some changes, and it performs better. Typically, this second page is running live at the same time to get a side by side comparison. This is A/B testing, measuring the performance of one page with different features and layouts. Many sites may have the approach of, let’s build a page, looks good, goes live, and it’s set for life. In reality A/B testing should be ran constantly, never settling. Now you may reach a point where the changes being made to a page are very minimal.
Not Utilizing Mailing Lists
A client of mine had had a web presence for 20 years or so and had managed to collect over 50,000 email addresses through their newsletter sign up option on the site. Exactly zero of these users were receiving a newsletter or any promotional items through their email. Conducting a proper email marketing campaign requires setting goals of the campaign and an approach to reaching those goals. Once goals are set it’s time to dive into the necessities of a successful campaign.
- Build an email list – Not all email marketing campaigns will start with 50,000 subscribers, you will need to build this list. This is done by providing an opportunity for users to sign up. Add simple subscribe options to your site and specific pages, entice users to sign up through social media, and providing deals can help users subscribe.
- Select a campaign type – What will you be offering in your email? Discounts? New products? News? Try to stay focused on a specific topic, rather than giving too much information to users in one email.
- Track campaign success – Once the campaign goes live remember to track the performance of the campaign. What worked? What content did people respond to? What was the open rate of the emails? Take these analytics into consideration when building your next campaign.
Four email marketing tools to make campaigns easy to manage.
Not Mobile Friendly
Google has announced that the search engine will make mobile the primary focus, since more and more users are searching on mobile device compared to desktop. Roughly 51% of users who make purchases online made purchases through a mobile device. Now if your ecommerce website is not mobile friendly you’re missing out on over 50% of users converting.
When building a mobile friendly site make sure to NOT build a completely new site. This is approach that is outdated and doesn’t happen much anymore. However, if your mobile site was built this way prior, it’s time to switch over. Once switched over use a responsive design which will make developing the site easier and will look appropriate for every user on different devices. Some other important points to a mobile friendly site include a proper viewport, large, easy to use buttons, and the use of videos on the pages. Run a mobile friendly test to see how well your site is prepared.
No About Us Page
A proper About Us page can provide reassurance for many consumers on the legitimacy of the site and company. This type of page is developed to teach users how the company was formed, what their goals are, and some of their achievements. Some important pieces of an About Us page include,
- History – How was the company founded? What made you offer the products or services? This can help customers relate to the company and see where the company is coming from.
- Philosophy – How is the company different than others out there? Why should users choose your company over another? Use this section to show how your company stands out.
- Goals – What does the company hope to achieve? Now don’t slap in there “to get rich”, but be genuine. Show users what you hope to gain by offering your products to them.
- Achievements – Has the company been mentioned in the news? Been rewarded for your superb customer service? Let your consumers know.
- Team Members – This isn’t necessary, but can help users get to know the company further. Many marketing agencies will show their team members, a brief bio, and their role in the company. This gives users a face to the name when they start talking and working with employees.
- Multimedia Content – The About Us page is an excellent place to showcase your promotional video. This may be the CEO mentioning the bullet points listed above, or simple walk through of the facilities. Again, reassuring users the legitimacy of your company.
No Contact Info
This should be pretty obvious, every company needs to provide a way for customers to reach the business. Providing the company’s phone number in the header of the website is quite common., allowing for users to easily pick up the phone and make a phone call. If users have questions or concerns about products and services, give them a way to reach out. Make it easier for them to gather further information on the products. Not every person picks up and makes a phone call, which means they need other ways to contact you. Creating a Contact Us page with email address, email form, and phone number gives users multiple ways to reach out to a company. By being able to contact a company gives users a sense of security. They know if there’s an issue with their order they can easily contact the company and have it resolved.
No Online Customer Support
For some businesses it may not be possible to have online customer support running during businesses hours. However, if it’s possible it can make the shopping experience much more delightful for your consumers. Many of us have been on a website and noticed some type of box or pop up that mentions Live Chat. For many this is ignored, however there are people who click these boxes with enquiries. Users can get real time answers from team members, rather than hopping on the phone or sending an email and waiting for a response. Fifty-six percent of users who use an online chat said they received better service through chat than over the phone. The goal for every business should be to provide better customer service and a web chat option allows businesses to reach more consumers.
Lack of Product Images
Images of your products can be the deciding factor if a user wants to purchase the item. Depending on the product, each item should have a minimum of three photos, again this being the minimum. In some cases it is worth showcasing up to 20 images, especially if different sizes and colors are available. Give the users all the information they need to make the purchase, don’t leave anything for them to guess at. In many cases it’s also worth showing the item or product in use. This can help give users an idea of the dimensions, true color, and how it operates in use. If a consumer can’t get a good look at the item, they will go elsewhere to see exactly what they are purchasing. Take it a bit further and create videos of the items to really entice users into making a purchase.
Limited Product Descriptions
Now don’t rely on just the product images to get users to click buy. You’ll need well-written, helpful, and detailed product descriptions to really get them to make a purchase. Users want to know exactly what they are getting, they want to know if it will fit in a specific location, they want to know all of its features. Since a user cannot pick up the item and examine it they are hoping the website provides all the answers.
Not only are unique product descriptions helpful to your users, they can also help add new content to your site. Google loves to see fresh, relevant content being added to a site, copying and pasting product descriptions won’t rank well in the search results. Pages with limited amount of content also won’t rank. By taking the time to write a product description that is unique gives opportunity to use keywords, internal links, and other SEO tactics.
No Search Option
Nearly 59% of users will use internal search when browsing a website. This means over half of the users who are browsing on your site are looking to use search over navigation. Now it’s excellent to have both on your site, don’t limit it to one or the other.
Adding a search option is the first step, but ensuring the search works properly is a whole other issue. Some of the simple copy paste code searches can be very limited and may not return the best search results. This can result in a frustrated users who eventually leaves the site if they can’t locate what they are looking for. Work with developers to determine if the search has all the capabilities you’re looking for. Run lots of test! What do you think people are searching? Run queries of these phrases and terms and see if the results are accurate. If the results are confusing to you they will be for the user as well.
Lack of Social Media Presence
It’s close to impossible for a company to have an ecommerce business without some type of social media marketing. Every business approaches social media marketing a bit differently, and all will have different results. However, all need to be partaking in social media. The big ones companies need to join include FaceBook, Twitter, and Pinterest. Some lesser known channels include Instagram, LinkedIN, Google+, and YouTube. Not every business will need to market to all these channels, however, there’s lots of opportunity on all channels. Once the accounts are created it can be difficult to increase social media engagement, but don’t get discouraged. Continue to post and remember to monitor user interaction on the site. This means each time a user mentions your company or posts something on your timeline or wall, make an effort to respond.
Some ways to utilize social media.
- Promote new items or products – Just launched a new item? Share it with your followers. Let them be the first to know you have new products available. This will get the ball rolling with new shares and likes coming in. Users will share your new products with their followers which will bring in new potential customers. The new age ‘word of mouth’ advertising.
- Conduct giveaways – An excellent way to build new followers is to offer a giveaway. This could be a free item or a trial with a service you offer, either way it gets people talking. Tell users to like your page and share it with their friends. Soon your giveaway will be shown to more than just a few followers, but to their followers as well.
- Answer questions – Consumers use social media to ask questions. Maybe they see your new product posted, but they want to know what sizes it comes in. Once the questions comes up immediately answer with thorough responses. This can influence if a consumer decides to purchase your item or not.
- Share industry news – Has your company received an award or praise recently? Let your users know by sharing the content with them. People love seeing the companies they interact with doing great things within the industry.
Difficult Checkout Process
For many companies it’s not too difficult to get users to add an item to the cart. If you’re offering awesome products, at great prices users will continue to convert on the site. However, if the checkout process is too difficult or long users will bail on the purchase and find the item elsewhere.
Reducing shopping cart abandonment is a struggle just about every site deals with and it can be incredibly frustrating to go through. A user is so close to completing the conversion, yet leaves with an item in the cart. Here are a few easy ways to get users to complete the checkout process,
- Limit number of steps – When it comes to finally making a purchase on an item it needs to ba quick a easy process. Get the users information and send them on their way. This is done by limiting the number of steps a user has to go through to finally make a purchase. If a user finds the process is taking too long and there are too many steps they will begin to rethink their purchase. The idea is to get users through the process and limit them having buyers remorse.
- Limit distractions – Amazon does this well, when you begin the checkout process there’s limited ways for a user to leave the checkout. There’s no other items or deals being shown, until you click the final submit button. This way users stay focused on what they are purchasing and don’t begin browsing other items on the site.
- No hidden fees – No one likes adding an item to the cart, then they go to pay and find out there’s additional fees that jack up the price. That’s a great way to get people to immediately leave the site. If you do have additional fees you need to charge, add them into the cost of the item. Users want to know what they are paying, they don’t want to be caught off guard. This is also why free shipping is a big hit among consumers.
- Checkout as guest option – Personally, one of my biggest pet peeves is when I have to create an account to make a one time purchase. I will click close on the browser tab and start my search over again. Although sites have made it easy to register to a site, most you can simply click sign up with Facebook. However, many people are reluctant to share their Facebook information with companies. Allowing guests to checkout as guests eliminates them having to go through the trouble of creating an account. Ideally, you will give the users a choice between creating an account and signing in or just checking out as a guest.
- Progress bars – This tool will help users understand how far through the checkout process they are. Often shown at the top of the checkout process, the progress bar helps users understand how close they are to getting their item. On the other hand, with no progress bar users are in the dark when it comes to completing the task.
Limited Shipping Options
Shoppers love options, and this is true when it comes to shipping options. Give users a few different options when it comes to carriers. If you give them just one or two they may be hesitant to make a purchase. Typically, a consumer will click the cheapest or fastest shipping option, however, if they don’t know which one is the cheapest and are only given one option they may think they are being ripped off.
Note: Staying on the options point, give users different ways to pay for the items. If you restrict them to using just one method, it’s likely they will find the item elsewhere.
Not Having a Secure Site
Shoppers are savvy, they know what to look for when it comes to ensuring their personal information is safe. Eighty-five percent of shoppers avoid unsecure websites, which turns out to be a large amount of users. Simply switching your site over from HTTP to HTTPS, ‘S’ standing for secure, can increase conversions on the site. By having a SSL certificate, which shows HTTPS in green, helps users know right when they land on the site that it’s secure. Increase the security of your WordPress site with these simple features.