Did you know that online retail sales are growing by 17 percent per year and are expected to hit $370 billion by 2017? What should you do in 2015 to set yourself up for a rocking growth this year?
We got 12 experts to share their eCommerce resolutions with you. Each one of the resolutions would take you one step closer to your final goal in 2015.
Have a look and let us know which one would you be taking up as your own.
#1 Keep your 2015 data clean
Filter out any data errors before January First. At the very least, you should filter out bots and internal traffic in Google Analytics, and vow to keep it clean the rest of the year.
Without remedying common analytics issues marketers, webmasters and business owners tend to make imprudent decisions based on unsound data. We’ve had a client who appeared to receive 1.5 million visitors per month, but after applying some filters we found the true number was more like 500,000 monthly visits. ~ Orun Bhuiyan, Marketing Technologist at SEOcial.
This article by Moz.com describes some other common phenomena that tend to skew analytics data: Avoid Common Google Analytics Bugs and Misunderstandings that Lead to Bad Data
#2 Invest more time in designing better Email Marketing Campaigns
Believe it or not, email marketing is still effective.
The benefit of email marketing is that you can target your distribution and track everything from opens, to clicks to actual buy-ins, and with the right subject line and call to action, email marketing can be a great drive to product and event ticket sales. It’s been our #1 tool for ticket sales for large events with large scale clients. ~ Ashley Small, President and founder of Medley Inc.
We indeed believe her. Ashley’s suggestion was further enhanced by Sherry Chao, Marketing Director at Iterable. She emphasized working more on three kinds of emails this year:
1. Search Abandonment – This one is similar to the browse abandonment campaign except the summary email features the items that the shopper searched for and other related products that he may be interested in buying.
2. Back In Stock/ Low Stock – If a user tries to buy an item that is out of stock, a great practice is to collect the user’s email and notify them once the item is back in stock.
Another great email to send would be the “low in stock” notification. If a user has an item in their cart but has not checked out, you must send the user an email letting him know that his chosen item might go out of stock soon. This will encourage him to complete his purchase.
3. Personalized Email Subscription Settings – Give subscribers control over how and what type of emails they receive. Allow users to decide how often they want to be contacted and what type of emails they wish to receive. This will help yo improve your unsubscribe, open and conversion rates. ~ Sherry Chao, Marketing Director at Iterable
#3 Go all out, visually
Customers are not buying a drill — they are buying a hole in a piece of wood. Focus on the benefits that your products/services provide to customers; whenever possible, anchor those benefits in a story that can relate to the customers’ experience.
Stories are always best when told visually. ~ Jeremy Gregg, TEDx speaker
1. Visual now has a bigger meaning
One of the points we lean heavily on when we talk about content creation is video.
Video increases time on site by 88%, and can drastically improve SEO efforts. ~ Justin Kerby, Co-Founder of CAVE Social
2. YouTube is not the end
In 2015 eCommerce business will need to expand video content marketing programs & think beyond YouTube.
Customers who view product videos are 64%–85% more likely to buy, yet only 16% of the internet retailers have videos on their site. With Facebook now being the leader in Desktop Video Views, surpassing Youtube, eCommerce businesses can no longer simply focus video marketing efforts on YouTube. Your customer is on Facebook, Twitter & Tumblr, so eCommerce businesses need to ensure their video content is there as well. ~ Natasha Robinson, CMO & Co-Founder of MediaNest
#4 Make Contextualization an indispensable routine
While personalization has been deemed to be one of the main drivers for converting web visitors to customers, this is just the tip of the iceberg.
In order to truly optimize conversions, e-commerce sites need to add “contextualization” which enables websites to load much faster which has shown to significantly increase conversion rates.
For example, Amazon has shown that every 100 milliseconds of website latency cost them 1% in sales, while Walmart reports conversion rates rise 2% for every second of reduced web load time.
Simply put: faster websites = higher transactions. ~ Ari Weil of Yottaa
#5 Streamline the mobile checkout process
As the eCommerce industry gets more tablet-heavy, retailers need to be sure they have simple payment technology included in their emails. Offering an express checkout can increase sales by up to 55%, according to SeeWhy.
Retailers should streamline the mobile checkout process by reducing the number of clicks required for completing a purchase. For example, RueLaLa saw purchase conversions increase by FOUR times for Google Wallet users on its Android app after integrating Instant Buy. ~ Meagan Rhodes, Digital Marketing Lead at @Pay
Another of our experts highlighted the importance of easier checkout processes as well.
Currently, up to 70% of carts are abandoned, meaning massive lost sales for businesses. One of the main reasons people abandon their carts is that they go backwards into the purchasing funnel to find other products.
To fix that issue, companies can include upsells or recommendations in their checkout process, allowing consumers to add other products they might want or need without moving away from the checkout screen. Two other ways to reduce cart abandonments are adding a calculator to the checkout screen that estimates shipping costs and forgoing opt-in messages about email lists until the very end. ~ Irasema Jeffers, President of Online Amiga
#6 Create Pain Point Marketing Content
The best, quick content marketing advice I can give is to create content that answers customer problems BEFORE they arrive at your site. The visitor who finds your “pain point marketing content will be much more likely to convert to sale.
To modify the tactic strictly for retail during the holidays is a pretty simply a exercise in long-tail content marketing. Begin with keyword research about your products, check in with tools like Google Trends (for seasonality) and begin matching your product and it’s benefit with the perceived intent of a Google query.
You should be creating supplementary content to your products in long-tail form, then funnel users into your product pages to convert. ~ Scott Benson, Founder & Chief Strategist at BensonSEO
This industry has increased efficiency in so many ways that focus on personal touch has shifted away. It doesn’t take much however. A personal note, something special included in each package or just the way your products are wrapped and presented could make a big difference.
We sell products for women going through breast cancer treatment or recovering from the surgery and strive to be empathetic with them. Our tagline, Packed with Compassion, is a double entendre – We pack the purchases thoughtfully and compassionately while working our way on the premise of compassion towards our customers.
When I realized that our best selling product was the Chemo Beanie (a head covering for women who have lost their hair), I hired a professional stylist to create Someone With Style Cards and outfit suggestions for each Chemo Beanie. We tuck the Style Card into a lovely envelope and include it in the package with the Chemo Beanie.
It’s something very small but it’s a little extra that we throw in. We’ve had great success with wrapping each product in tissue paper and making each item we sell feel like it’s a gift rather than a treatment necessity and this has earned us heart warming feedback from our customers. ~ Jill Kerr, V.P of Someone With LLC
#7 Purge the uninterested
Unsubscribes aren’t always a bad thing. If someone has signed up to your marketing list but changed their mind, it’s important that they have a clear and easy method to unsubscribe.
The alternative will see them flagging your email as spam, which is bad for your sending reputation and infringes on your deliverability.
If you don’t feel comfortable with making the unsubscribe button more prominent, offer recipients a chance to “down-subscribe” or opt-out of excessive emails in your preference center. This removes recipients from the extra emails rather than unsubscribing all together. ~ Paul Ford, VP of Product & Marketing at SendGrid
#8 Omnichannel is not a competitive advantage anymore. It’s a need in 2015.
Customers will continue to demand a seamless browsing and an exceptional shopping experience across multiple platforms. This will require a greater investment in platforms and solutions to meet cross-channel access demands for optimized mobile browsing.
Additionally, businesses should integrate in-store, online and mobile shopping experiences to provide multi-channel access for their customers. ~ Suchit Bachalli, President of Unilog
#9 Get better in SEO
I’d have to say the biggest thing moving into 2015, if e-commerce site owners haven’t already done, is implement schema markup in their sites.
Google is moving away from keyword related results and into actually understanding the content a searcher is looking for as well as the content that’s displayed on websites. The best way to stay competitive on search engines with e-commerce sites is going to be incorporating HTML from shema.org to “tell” the search engines what your site is about. ~ Brandon Howard, CEO of Toner Emporium and All My Web Needs
#10 Onboard with Customer Service
For queries about an online purchase, we found 60% of millennials preferred live chat over the telephone to answer questions about online shopping.
Live chat is especially well-suited to answering questions customers have while shopping on the Internet. The most obvious reason for this is that the customers are already online, and thus can use live chat with little effort:
They don’t need to reach for the phone or worry about hold times, and
They can expect a quicker answer than if they called or emailed.
Live chat is usually provided as an add-on service that can be integrated with a company’s existing CRM platform or Web portal. And getting live chat up and running is a generally painless procedure, according to the businesses we spoke with; none described any difficulty with this software implementation. ~ Craig Borowski, Research Analyst at SoftwareAdvice
Provide value to your customers and improve your overall positioning by creating a customer support Twitter account separate and apart from your brand Twitter account.
By allowing customer service questions, comments and complaints to be directed to a designated Twitter handle rather than being populated into the rest of your brand’s content and conversations, you are better able to serve your customer and respond to any negative feedback directly without impacting your brand’s reputation on social media.
An example of such designation between customer service and general brand Twitter accounts, is KeyBank. KeyBank’s social media properties include @KeyBank (community engagement) and @KeyBank_Help (client service). ~ Casey Fisk, Content Strategist at Boogie
#11 Before celebrating success, analyze your failures
The biggest eCommerce websites like Amazon and eBay are tracking what their customers are buying and more importantly, not buying. Using this data, they can send highly relevant emails that drive more orders by recommending products customers might like or pushing customers to finish checking out items they left in their cart.
Small-to-medium sized eCommerce business owners might think they don’t have the resources to segment and track customers, but there are plenty of extensions available on eCommerce platforms like Magento and Shopify that do the work for them. ~ Max Katsarelas, Director of Marketing at Remarkety
#12 Hawk eye on competition
I would say that the most important thing that ecommerce companies of all sizes should resolve to do in 2015 is invest in competitive monitoring and analysis. All retailers know that their prices matter in comparison to competitors’ and shoppers too compare prices.
Wal-Mart creates 1 million rows of data each hour and puts them to good use. It reprices about 50,000 products per month and saw its online sales grow by 30% in 2013 (topping even Amazon’s growth).
Knowing how competitors are priced and how those prices stack up to your own is crucial to staying competitive in 2015. Repricing is about finding the “Goldilock price” for each item, but it changes often. ~ Angelica Valentine, Content Marketing Manager at Wiser
Some of the eCommerce companies shared their business resolutions too with us. Here are some of the chosen ones:
#1 Canu and Co. – Increasing conversions by implementing PPC until organic search takes hold.
#2 Firenze Jewels – Remove hesitation from users who are ordering online by establishing credibility and showing users the value of the item via the site.
#3 GOcase – Get more features on travel and sports blogs as the site is built on Shopify and streamlined for conversions. so, the only thing they need to do is get people to see the products because turning viewers into customers is easy for them.
#4 SundryShop – Leverage social media in 2015, especially with giveaways to continue engagement and remain visible to users.
#5 DapperTime – Revamp website and give it a more customized feel. Other than that, they plan to build a community for their fans on the website itself, where they can find advise, showcase their style, and engage with other customers. Also, they plan to build a women’s category as they had focused on men last year.
Let us know what your New year resolution is for 2015.
Before we leave…
Have a warm cheerful 2015. Party hard!!!