According to Businessweek.com, nearly 60% of stores have an eCommerce component to their business and this number will only rise in 2015. The eCommerce space is not only crowded with a bunch of online shops, but a seemingly endless number of services or tools that can grow sales, improve customer satisfaction, save time, etc.
We wanted to know what really worked in 2014, so we spoke to Remarkety customers Charles Fitzgerald of The Kewl Shop, Nicole Panzica and Josh Rehr ofEcommerce Partners, Sarath B Sribhasyam of Purna Organics , and John Pagan of Ales by Mail LTD. We discovered there were five main reasons these companies were so successful. Five Reasons Why eCommerce Businesses Succeed
Email marketing continues to be the best but most elusive method of growing your business. Everyone’s trying to do it, but few are executing it successfully. This means being fast, sending follow-up emails promptly, and catching leads while they’re at peak interest.
Nicole Panzica, Marketing Manager, of Ecommerce Partners
The biggest game-changer for many eCommerce store owners was using Remarkety for the first time. (Sorry to be tooting our own horns!) The email marketing extension easily allows store owners to collect, design and send segmented email campaigns that target customers based on shopping behavior and purchase history. These campaigns can target inactive shoppers, send coupons to loyal customers or automatically email customers when they abandoned their cart.
Email maintains constant personalized communication with my customers. These programs have an easy to use interface, which helped me to quickly segment customers on different conditions. It helped in my efforts to increase returning customers rate and value significantly.”
Sarath B Sribhasyam, Owner, PurnaOrganics.com
In 2014, email converted more sales than any other channel, so an email marketing automation extension is an absolute must when stores want quick, responsive and personalized messages.
You must ensure you have an email driven abandoned cart campaign in place. Preferably a set of three targeted emails addressed to those who have abandoned their cart, and convincing them to come back and complete their purchase.
Charles Fitzgerald, Owner, The Kewl Shop
Automation tools also allow store owners to test messages on a select group of their customer base, before sending out that email to the masses.
It is best to test out a variety of campaigns and offers and build out the campaigns that work best. A great example of this is with a Cart Abandonment series we run. This series actually contains no promotion. However the first email has a 53% lifetime open rate and a 30% click rate. The second email we have has 45% open rate and a 27% open rate, still extremely good for a second email in a campaign.
Josh Rehr,Ecommerce Partners
The techniques that help your website rank higher in organic search results is search engine optimization (SEO). Search results matter because if a website isn’t ranking on the first page, it probably isn’t going to be clicked. That’s why every store owner should be focused on ranking for a keywords that are relevant to their business. And it starts with a website.
Build a website that is best optimized for search engines and contains only high quality relevant content, then start building high quality links through outreach programs with influencers in your industry
Fitzgerald, Owner, The Kewl Shop
In short, start blogging with original content that have keywords relevant to your industry. But don’t overdo it on the keywords, Google will know you’re trying to cheat the system with “keyword stuffing.” Hey, no one said this was going to be easy. For more information about how to start building an awesome SEO strategy, check out Moz.com’s Beginners Guide to doing so.
While it might seem like a no-brainer to have a presence on various social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter or Google+, learning when and how to leverage them in the most beneficial way is what really matters. A lot of companies get lost in the land of social media- they post every single thing on every different channel much too often. Instead of being on every channel, companies should find what works – whether it’s shares, clicks to a website or comments – and focus on that channel. When that channel is discovered there’s a couple of options of how to engage with followers.
Social media has helped businesses display real, authentic customer reviews right on their websites and across their social platforms. Customer testimonials like these are much more valuable than scripted product descriptions.
Panzica, of Ecommerce Partners
Joining a community and creating a sense of trust can immediately help a brand gain traction on social media. People resonate with like-minded people, it’s the whole reason communities form. Find the communities customers are part of, and engage with them. For ourselves in the Craft Beer world, supporting existing Blogs, Podcasts etc helps potential customers to come to know and trust our brand, easing them towards future purchases.
John Pagan, of Ales by Mail LTD
Social media also allows your customers to interact directly with brands. The interactions can be positive or negative, but no matter the circumstance, responses should be timely and reflect the brand’s voice. Stores should always be active and responsive to customers, customers like brands that interact with them.
Josh Rehr, of Ecommerce Partners
A positive shopping experience from start to finish (from browsing, to actually purchasing) will undoubtedly pay dividends. Just like with social media, customers want friendly, quick responses to questions about products or shipping detail. They essentially want to feel like their needs are being met, and that a company radiates some sort of warmth. This is usually accomplished through a customer care rep that loves helping people.
Put in place the best customer service you can afford. At The Kewl Shop we offer 24/7 customer service both pre and post purchase. Someone is always available, even for a chat at 2am in the morning. Customer service is probably more important than everything above.
Fitzgerald, Owner, The Kewl Shop
A happy customer will continually shop where they had a great experience, tell their friends about it or post it to their social media profiles. You can read more about the importance of word of mouth here.
Adwords is Google’s online advertising program, which allows businesses to reach new customers by creating ads targeting a geographical area and keywords customers are searching. Adwords is easy for anyone to use because they aren’t banners that need to be designed, they are text based. Here’s an example:
Source: Blue Fountain Media
When properly done [using Adwords] can yield positive ROI and by learning to do it yourself, you will stand in very good stead over the longer term. At a minimum, put in place paid retargeting ads, to target those visitors who have already been to and shown an interest in your products. Retargeting is a high converting strategy.
Fitzgerald, Owner, The Kewl Shop
Adwords also has the ability to directly target customers who have already visited your site, but have not yet made a purchase, this is called retargeting. These ads can even include the exact product a customer looked at, but didn’t buy. Amazon is very good at their site retargeting campaigns, for example. The ad serves as a reminder that the shopper should revisit your site and finally order that product. Although creating a successful AdWords campaign may seem impossible for those lacking in tech skills, AdWords is actually easy to use! Plus, Google provides tech help and an account manager when challenges arise.
So now what?
Great question because with 2015 around the corner, it’s time to implement most, if not all, of these five tactics to grow a successful eCommerce website. Starting slow isn’t a bad thing. If your store already has a social media presence that isn’t working or doesn’t have dedicated customer-related services, maybe you start focusing there. Or maybe you could start creating solid content to build your SEO, and finally implement the use of Adwords, as you might find that these are the things that allow your business to really flourish. However, the one thing our owners agree on for sure is that the use of an Email Marketing Automation tool should be a huge area of focus next year. It’s integral in not only expanding your business, but keeping your current customer base happy and around for a long time.
All in all, we hope you have a very successful 2015!
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