An 8-Point Checklist for Increasing Your E-Commerce Sales, Part 2
Retailers and their marketing teams are forever trying to nudge shoppers to load up their shopping carts and go on to click the “Buy” button. In part one of this series, we looked at how retailers can set measurable goals, conduct keyword research and put in place a content strategy for their e-commerce site.
Let’s move ahead with our checklist for keeping the cash register ringing.
4. Product Education
Once you have a content strategy in place, educating visitors on the benefits of your products is the logical way forward. Throughout your entire e-commerce approach, your goal should be to provide a platform that's more than just a website where people browse and buy products. It should be a one-stop resource center where shoppers can get all the information they need to be sure they're making the right purchase decision.
This, of course, depends on the nature of your business. If you sell simple, common or commodity goods, you can differentiate your company by building a fun brand. For example, Vat19.com (which sell, in its own words, “curiously awesome gifts”) has a widely popular YouTube channel with nearly 4 million subscribers and over 1,000 funny and wacky videos that somehow display or refer to its products.
If your brand sells more complex items, like software solutions, investing in product education is one of the most significant moves you can make that benefits both your customers and your bottom line. In a nutshell, you need to tell customers:
- how to recognize and define their needs and wants;
- how to pinpoint their problems and identify solutions;
- how to shop for the right products and services; and
- why your product is the right solution for them.
For things like demonstrations or crash courses, many online businesses are using webinars to help convey their messaging in a clear, easy-to-consume fashion.
For example, if your website sells a cloud-based SaaS tool, holding an interactive webinar for your strongest leads is a great way to
- provide a deep level of education and answer any questions; and
- show your brand truly cares about ensuring customer success.
ClickMeeting is a sales-focused webinar solution that can help you give potential customers an immersive walkthrough to address any concerns, and show exactly how your product works with two-way communication.
You can easily do presentations, share screens or add any additional media to help the process. You can also analyze each webinar to identify strengths and weaknesses, make predictions, manage customer relations, and improve your overall marketing.
Generating e-commerce sales depends heavily on your ability to provide all the answers. Using personalized, interactive tools for this purpose is great for nurturing interest and closing deals.
5. Responsive Website
Online shoppers are notoriously impatient. Making a strong first impression with your website is most important, regardless of your visitor’s location or the device they’re using to access your site. A slow, dysfunctional platform can render all of your marketing efforts useless.
Website responsiveness covers several different aspects. One, optimize for speed. Google recommends to keep loading times under two seconds to three seconds. There are a variety of tools and techniques that help you do this.
Two, be sure your platform is optimized for mobile. Nothing frustrates shoppers more than trying to navigate a website designed only for desktop on a mobile device. In addition to driving sales, Google rewards sites that meet responsiveness standards.
For mobile responsiveness, check out Responsive Design Checker to see exactly what your site looks like across a range of screen sizes.
A word about apps here. Retailers that have apps need to make that extra marketing effort to make sure their apps are being downloaded and used. Did you know Zappos.com offers free, one business day shipping just for being an app user? A lot of retailers provide premium benefits like VIP access to new arrivals, fashion previews, catalogues, event invites and even special app-only deals. This is one of the easiest yet most effective ways to lure customers to download your app (and also reward brand loyalty).
6. Attention-Drawing CTAs
Call-to-action buttons are one of the most frequently tested elements of a website. It’s amazing how much a seemingly small change can have a huge effect on your bottom line. CTA buttons are what prompt visitors to convert, and can encompass the final touchpoints to becoming buyers.
Look at virtually any website, and you will see a CTA. Here's Zappos’ homepage:
You’ll notice the CTAs are designed to stand out from the rest of color scheme. When creating yours, be sure they're presented prominently and are one of the places people’s eyes are drawn to on the page. Ultimately, these points are where your entire e-commerce sales strategy leads to.
In the same vein, newsletter sign-up forms can be presented at major touchpoints and within your branded content. Capturing leads and building customer profiles are fundamental to generating online sales. Every little piece of information about your prospects opens the door to personalize their experience, provide content relevant to their interests, and nudge (or nurture) them down the path to becoming a customer.
This is how you turn random visitors into prospective buyers. Here's an example from Shoes.com. Within seconds of landing on its homepage, you're presented with an opportunity to sign up for its content:
Watch This Space
In part three of this series, I'll move into the finale of the shopping process — quickly helping customers through checkout and bringing them back in the event they develop cold feet and ditch their shopping carts. Stay tuned.
Rohan Ayyar is a project manager at E2M, a digital marketing firm specializing in creative content strategy, web analytics and conversion rate optimization for startups.