For a long time now, simply ‘being online’ has not been enough. Likewise, being easy to find in a search engine and delivering a fantastic user experience are fundamental to today’s buyers, who expect convenience, speed and accessibility across every channel
As more and more shopping shifts online, it’s the retailers who keep an eye on emerging trends and the strategies of their peers and rivals who are reaping the biggest eCommerce rewards.
Our award-winning work with an extensive range of eCommerce clients means we know that to maintain success and achieve growth, you need be testing ways to optimise conversion rates, offering convenience across a variety of devices, and maximising every opportunity to engage with your customers.
Below are the top five aspects of eCommerce to keep in mind for online retail success.
Help customers to find what they’re looking for quickly and easily, and complete a purchase, when they’re on your site.
Make your search box stands out. Try experimenting with different colours and sizes of buttons, or varying the position or copy, as part of a conversion rate optimisation (CRO) exercise.
Ensure your site search can handle long tail semantic searches, as customers who search in greater detail are likely to be much closer to conversion. According to MyTotalRetail.com, sites with a semantic-based search bar experience a 2% abandonment rate compared to the 40% abandonment rate reported by sites that feature a text-based search bar.
Autocomplete allows customers to search smarter. Printerland.co.uk found that customers who landed on an autocomplete page were four times more likely to convert than those who didn’t, and six times more likely if the autocomplete included product photos and prices.
Make it easy to filter results. Asos.com allows users to filter by product type, style, colour, size and price range (and include or exclude several options within each), as well as customise how they view results, with the choice to ‘save’ a product for later comparison.
Use custom algorithms and enhanced landing page content to cross-sell and up-sell by displaying alternatives when a product is out of stock, or by suggesting complementary products and services.
A smooth, secure checkout is crucial for eCommerce success. You need to ensure:
- Strong calls-to-action (CTAs) on your checkout page to entice your customers to do what you want them to do
- Prominent shopping basket buttons on your product pages
- A user-friendly payment process on your checkout page
The checkout process is often the first port of call for testing, because all visitors making a transaction will have to go through this process. Our blog post contains further information on how to do this.
Other usability factors
- Clear, simple website design
- Fuss-free, intuitive navigation
- Fast loading times (less than three seconds per page)
- Prices updated in real-time to ensure accuracy
- Contact details, including social media, clearly visible
- Ts & Cs and returns information easy to find
- Prompt responses to customers via email and instant chat
Organic search traffic has long been one of the most valuable sources of traffic for eCommerce sites – user experience and SEO strategy are no longer mutually exclusive. That means when you optimise your website for visitors, you’re improving the chances of ranking well in search engine results (otherwise known as your organic search performance).
Keyword research is one of the most worthwhile exercises in search marketing – and marketing in general. As well as enabling you to target the correct keywords, it will give you a much greater insight into what your customers want.
Search marketing is about quality as well as quantity: ‘how many’ isn’t the only focus, but also ‘how many of the right kind’.
Use relevant, meaningful keywords in your headers, subheaders, page copy, product descriptions, image filenames (alt tags), meta titles/descriptions and URLs.
For keyword research, try Google AdWords Keyword Planner Tool and Google Trends. Our Advanced Guide to Organic Search Strategy contains in-depth guidance on researching and selecting keywords, as well as lots of other useful info.
These should be reachable by as few clicks as possible from your home page. A rule of thumb is to follow a logical structure of categories and sub-categories, and do not go more than three levels deep before reaching a product-specific page. This will make sure search engines can find the pages deep in your site that will serve any long tail searches. Read more about upscaling SEO practices and processes for large-scale eCommerce sites.
You can insert semantic mark-up code on your page templates to communicate to search engines aspects of your business that you want to highlight, such as location(s), opening hours, reviews, photos, or offers and events.
This information then accompanies your search result listings, giving more exposure to your brand and allowing you to stand out from competitors. Search engines also use this information to help determine the relevance of your website’s content to users’ search queries, further boosting your organic search visibility. This is particularly relevant when you also want to drive footfall to a bricks-and-mortar store, as this blog post on optimising for local search explains.
Good quality content
Great content throughout your eCommerce site not only boosts customer engagement, retention and conversions, but search engines also reward user-friendly pages in their rankings.
Aim to make every page compelling, with substantial, unique, relevant and engaging content. This goes for the copy on your product description pages as well as in your blog posts.
AO.com – renowned for its engaging, user-friendly approach to the potentially dry subject of white goods retail – features high-quality, product-specific copy on its content pages:
As well as in-depth buyer guides, helpful articles and FAQs…
And a blog in the form of a ‘lifestyle hub’, featuring news, reviews and video round-ups…
Blogger outreach adds a further strand to your content marketing activity by having it featured on relevant third party blog sites. This means developing and maintaining relationships with relevant bloggers and offering them unique, relevant, high-value content that their audience will find useful and interesting.
It’s a great inbound marketing strategy, and it can also boost your organic search visibility (SEO) when bloggers with trusted and established sites (ie, those with a high Domain Authority) link back to your site. Read more about link-building through outreach in this blog.
Are you making one of these 7 eCommerce mistakes? Find out how to lose sales and alienate customers
Social media and review sites mean there’s now more than you and your customer involved in the decision to buy: third party reviews and other user-generated content are increasingly
Social media is the ideal platform to showcase products, demonstrate how they look or work and even allow users to indulge in a little fantasy browsing with aspirational images and inspirational ideas, as well as allowing customers to upload their own content. Research indicates that visuals are processed 60,000 times faster than text. Furthermore, 40% of people respond better to visual than to text alone.
With sites such as Facebook and Pinterest featuring ‘buy now’ buttons, it’s even possible to use social media as an additional sales platform.
Ikea’s Pinterest boards feature a range of ideas for the home, as well as tips and how-to guides:
Increase your shareability factor by aiming to provoke a response with your content, especially interest, amusement, pleasure or excitement – research shows that buying decisions are based on 80% emotion and 20% logic.
Customers trust people more than businesses, so reviews on social media sites like TrustPilot, or left on your own site, can be a powerful way of driving sales and brand awareness for your
company. For example, you could encourage your customers to leave short reviews after they purchase something and reward them with a special discount on their next order.
According to Internet Retailer, you can optimise conversion rate by up to 76% by adding product reviews to your online store, while Jupiter Research found that 77% of consumers read reviews before purchasing online.
Email should be a key part of any eCommerce marketing strategy as it’s an effective way to keep in regular contact with your customer base, establish brand identity and build trust, all factors that are key to securing repeat visits and purchases.
Hook customers in with an irresistible subject line, snappy copy, enticing imagery and a strong call to action, such as this Boohoo example:
When planning your campaign, think in terms of developing an ongoing dialogue with your customer base, as well as encouraging and providing the opportunity for recipients to engage with your brand. This email marketing 101 post goes into more detail.
Paid search (PPC) advertising gives you greater control over your presence on search engine results pages than a reliance on organic search results alone.
Shopping Campaigns have become an increasingly crucial part of a marketer’s online strategy. They are a powerful way to showcase your products across Google and Bing to drive high quality
traffic to your site.
Ads can include a product image, title, price, extensions, promotions and your domain name. Their visual nature means that conversion rates are typically higher than for text-only ads.
You create ads that target specific keywords related to your business, and your ads appear above organic search results on Google when people search for these keywords (as shown in the image
below). The cost of your ads depends on a range of factors, including the competitiveness of the keyword you’re targeting, but you only pay if visitors actually click on your ad.
Across our eCommerce client base, we find that on average, Shopping traffic is up to 50% higher than for traditional search.
For more guidance on paid search, download our Simple Guide to Paid Search (PPC).
Shopping Campaign best practice includes:
- Ensuring you have a Shopping Campaign set up for both Google and Bing
- Investing in a Feed Optimisation solution, such as feedTRAX™
- Considering Amazon and eBay platforms as part of your advertising strategy
- Identifying profit margins to optimise to profit rather than just revenue/ROI
This is where your ads appear on third party websites next to content that’s relevant to your product or of interest to your target audience. Ads can take the form of banners, text, images and video.
A powerful way to reach people who have previously visited your site or used your app by tracking items in which they’ve shown interest, then targeting them with highly relevant ads across third party sites they subsequently visit. Remarketing ads could include an added incentive to re-engage your prospect, such as a discount or special offer. Learn more about remarketing.
5. Mobile commerce
Desktop is no longer the default for customers and retailers need to take this shift seriously, if they haven’t already.
Mobile devices are primary technology; desktop secondary
Google’s move to start testing with a mobile-first index at the end of 2016 was in recognition that more searches are carried out on mobile devices than desktops and tablets. In other words, desktops are now a secondary technology and mobile devices are primary.
It seems that online retailers experiencing underperformance on mobile may only have themselves to blame, as many still aren’t using best practices for mobile websites and apps. Business Insider’s eCommerce Industry Insider reports that mobile is continuing to drive the most sales growth for retailers, but sales still aren’t keeping up with retail traffic. For instance, a recent Google study found that only five of the top 20 UK retailers’ mobile sites load in less than two seconds.
According to this analysis by Magicdust Web Design, mobile buyers are different – they want to get information quickly and simply, compared with desktop users, who are more patient and cautious. Many mobile online purchases are impulse buys, and they spend more money on a single purchase than their desktop counterparts do.
So mobile continues to drive the most sales growth or retailers, but sales still aren’t keeping up with retail traffic. By making your website mobile-friendly with a simple purchase path, you can eliminate these barriers and optimise conversion rate.
At Click Consult, we continually review our clients’ performance and use these findings to inform and improve future strategies. In this whitepaper, find out the insights we gained from examining our own eCommerce clients’ data over Q4 2016, and how you can apply them to your business to enhance your search marketing strategies and boost your own revenue.