Basic tips on how to grow your sales in an ecommerce business

There are various ways and tactics to increase online retail sales, so I will try to cover a few that are often being neglected with ecommerce retailers we have been working with throughout the years.

Choose the right shopping cart software

First of all, you should pick the right shopping cart software. Online retailers who like it simple should take a look at Bigcommerce or Shopify. These two are among the fastest growing ecommerce software companies and offer everything you need for starters, at an affordable price. More options and can be found with the largest ecommerce platform called Magento.

Focus on customer retention, not just acquisition

Next, apart from classic customer acquisition tactics (like paid advertising) you will need to build a proper customer retention strategy. How will you keep those buyers in your shop? Have a great design, give gifts, place a lot of interesting product pictures (this one is highly important, and it’s never enough repeating!), be covered on all social media pages and do not overflow with CTA buttons (call to action buttons). Customer support should be at 101% if you want your store to succeed. Even the tiniest flaw in the support department might prove to be unexpectedly costly to your business.

Run A/B tests to increase conversion rates on every step of the process

Checkout page should be very very simple – Noah Kagan`s company AppSumo does it very well and I highly recommend reading his blog, you will find a lot of clever insights and recommendations over there. Do A/B testing to see what drives bigger conversion and lower abandonment rates. Retention and engagement are the most important metrics you need to follow. Engaged users are happy users who keep coming back for more products and can be good for referring others. You can install a loyalty program to boost engagement and properly connect with your customers. There are many ways you can organize a loyalty program, which we covered in one of our previous blog articles.

Keep customers engaged

Once you are engaged, keep it running. Post surveys to collect insights and data about your customers to see what is the best way to approach them. Never stop connecting with everyone who ever made a purchase. You will spend less money in retaining an old customer than acquiring a new one – up to 5x less according to industry standards. Regarding abandonment, see and ask what’s bothering customers who have abandoned you? It can be the complexity of your checkout page, the price, the lack of reviews, the shipment… Just note that you will never be able to reduce abandonment rate to 0% (industry average for abandonment is 65%), but you can try to reduce it to minimum possible.

Above all, try to make your buying process interesting, engaging and ultimately a fun experience for your customers. Take a closer look at your competition and try to honestly analyze what are they doing better then you and improve in those areas. Then, just get to it! :)

Let’s Improve Online Customer Engagement!

In the last post, we have explained and defined customer engagement, as well as metrics to evaluate it. We will now pass through some basic steps in actually working on improving it. It’s impossible to list all of them, since there are millions of ways to engage your customer and inspire him to visit your website and purchase more frequently. Some will say the key is to connect with your Facebook fans, some will say it’s the customer care that matters, or email newsletters, surveys, giveaways, etc. Although everything mentioned is true, let’s put our focus on the things that somehow slip away under the retailer’s radar.

One of the main targets you want to reach when focusing on engagement is simplicity in your store. Simplicity is achieved by focusing our efforts on our customers’ sparest resource. For one customer segment that might be time, for another it might be mental effort, for the third it can be the overall shopping loop. People tend to find things simple that they do over and over again, so if you can simplify an already existing customers routine, the chances are you more likely that you’ll engage them. Fact is, it’s not so simple to make it simple and unique, but it’s not impossible at all. With enough A/B testing, you’ll reach your solution.


engaged customer

If we take a deeper look at customer psychology, it’s obvious that our customers look to overcome all the distractions they face by looking for shortcuts to their goals. For them it’s important to find some unique value, and then use the shortest possible route to achieve it – For example: If other customers are using and buying a product X, they think X got to be useful. And that customer have to SEE that others are using and enjoying X. That shortcut he saw will trigger his decision. Highlighting things that help our customers take these shortcuts will mean that a customer is less likely to pass over us and our product he thought buying.

It’s essential to meet customer’s expectations, and that route will surely bring you success in customer engagement.

Expectations can be met by increasing the relevance of our product, service and communications. Product relevance is achieved by having product reviews, testimonials and detailed instructions. Customer service is something you already know you got to excel and deliver everything as promised, and you got to honor all lines of communications that your customers can use. While time spent on gaining a deeper understanding of your audience doesn’t always pay dividends, using that understanding to develop a framework for personalization does.


Focus on establishing what the right-channel is, the right-timing and right-messaging for each customer segment as a first step. Some of them will like e-mails, some will like a Facebook card, others will value a follow-up call. Test and choose the best way. Here are some suggestions that proved to be working like a charm:


  1. Become a new model of authority for your area of business. Provide free expert advice, you can do it over your own or someone else’s website. Recognize that the only way you are able to establish authority today is through offering something valuable to your customers, while any interaction with them that doesn’t offer value lowers your authority.
     
  2. While supporting or hosting a customer community can be an excellent way of establishing a group of buyers, the best way to engage participants is usually to open channels back into your business. Providing access to the product designers or the shipment managers that can offer insights into how and why things work the way they do and is often deeply engaging for customers. You can offer a video with “How it’s done” process and send a special promotion booklet to increase customer loyalty.
     
  3. Providing a game-like-experience in your shop can be a winner. Visitors like to compete and like to be involved in something that breaks standard shopping experience. Create a contest, and set milestones easy, so that customers can stick to it. Gamification will be spreading more across all business in 2014 so it’s important to start it as soon as possible. Remember that every technique that gets your visitors and potential buyers coming back is extremely important, and gamification mechanisms do the trick. The eventual losses at start of that promotion will become justifiable when those users come back for more points or more interactions with your store.
     
And remember – don’t let engagement slip away, or hope it will increase by itself. It’s your job to keep it up, and it will surely have a positive impact!

Golden rule for running a successful online store

Since the number of opportunities to communicate with your users rose significantly – from new digital channels to more personalized lines of communication – controlling and integrating so many channels is becoming a big task for online shops. Good communication equals engaging customers in meaningful way, and that can drive higher sales and profits.

In modern times, it’s not enough to simply orchestrate your Facebook and Twitter and say that ‘you are working on’ customer engagement. Mind that your competitors are working harder and can outreach you with more efforts. Retailers are having a hard time to deal with the fact that having a killer product is not enough. It`s great but It simply puts you out in the contest, and your marketing and customer engagement actions will tell who wins the game. You should work on this continuously, in order to stay competitive. Simply put – organizations that engage their customers outperform those that do not

Yes, I know it`s not that easy to build a shop, gather products, organize shipment, customer care and stuff, and then find out that it`s only a beginning. But, as we all know, golden goose is not easy to catch. So, we will try to explain how to focus your efforts on the essentials. And there’s nothing more essential in your store than customer engagement.

The metrics

I’ve been able to read numerous articles that struggle to define customer engagement and present it as something more or less intangible. The exact definition of the term remains fuzzy although it`s equally explainable like any other indicator of online shop value and potential.

Customer engagement is fundamentally about a customer’s voluntary, ongoing interaction with a company and its products or services for the purpose of mutual value creation. Of course there are numerous metrics that can help you define successful rate.

First, the metric must be simple and clear while also having strong links to key business outcomes. Spending time and effort doing measurements that are not directly connected to your store performance is wrong. Always have in mind that the end result is the number of purchases or order size, so any change in approach to customer engagement (or retention, buyer`s experience and similar) should reflect positively in those end results. Metrics that you should always keep an eye on:

Actions time

Actions time reflects the total time a buyer spends in the shop, interacting with the store.

Frequency

Frequency represents how often a user returns to your shop?

Performing important actions

Those actions can be purchasing, leading to checkout, recommending/reviewing. The more important actions buyer is performing, level of adoption is higher.


NOTE: Have in mind that if total time for a buyer is high but performance of actions is low, you should try to work on CTA buttons, store design or investigate what is preventing users from purchasing or interacting (improving shopping experience). This is not to be confused with kart abandonment, that`s another story tied up to the checkout and we will discuss it in the future.

Happy customers

Finding the right metric is a tremendous first step in your organization’s journey toward increasing customer engagement — but measurement without action is meaningless. You should review current engagement status and identify steps that must be taken to increase performance at all levels.

Customer engagement specialists have the ability to proactively identify and address unhappy customers, create buzz, awareness and even entire fan communities, and create a more valuable customer lifecycle. Improving customer engagement goes beyond simply asking the right questions. Engaging requires round focus on changing your behaviors, processes, and systems to anticipate and respond to your customers’ needs. We will talk about it in our next post – part 2 of managing customer engagement.

4 ways to incorporate Loyalty Program in your online shop

Offline and online loyalty programs have been in business for a very long time. Traditional business owners try to use this method to attract customers and, what is more important, develop a relationship for a long time prospect. Simply put, loyalty program incorporates a loyal behavior and engagement among your customers.

In the modern days of e-commerce shopping, owners must not forget the importance of having a strong relationship with all customers. If you provide a ‘feel-good’ factor to them they will offer you same in terms of business. The point is to make visitors and buyers feel satisfied even just for a moment when they want to buy something from your site. This will make sure that they return more often to your shop and recommend it to their friends and families. One viral customer can bring several new buyers. And that feel-good factor can be provided with rewards and discounts created by loyalty programs.

There’s no buyer who doesn’t like to be awarded.

First, and most important part of each loyalty program is the plan. You need to determine how to create more profitable customers and you can do this by planning the set-up of your loyalty program. Most retailers forget that you need to position your program in that way to encourage future purchases from your buyers, rather than focusing on just rewarding already made ones.

Loyalty Program

There are different ways through which you can incorporate these programs among your customers of which a few have been listed here:

  1. Newsletter subscription
    The first thing that you will want to do is to be accessible to your customers. Ask them to sign up for your newsletter so that whenever you launch something new or bring offers at your shop, they are informed about it. Ask them to subscribe as soon as they make an account at your site. This will prove useful for future actions.
     
  2. Purchaser Points
    Whenever someone buys something from your ecommerce site offer them points against each dollar they have spent. For example, give them one point for every $10 spent by them. Also, don’t set the redeem limit too high as there are chances that the customers would feel that they are never going to accumulate enough points to be redeemable. The limit should be such that they can redeem after 3 or 4 purchases from your store. If you balance this the right way, you will have an instant boost in sales and improved customer engagement.
     
  3. Referral/Affiliate Points
    Ask them to refer new customers to your store and in return give them points for every purchase made by their referrals. You should calculate the percentage efficiently in order to boost virality and allow visitors to take most out of their social interaction
     
  4. Collect demographic and contact data
    With loyalty surveys you can collect valuable data about your buyers and expand your customer database! Use this information you got when they registered to promote your program to specific audiences and target additional customers. Buyers will be rewarded for conducting the survey made by the shop owner. Percentage of people who finished the survey will be much higher. You will get important info about your customers and their potential needs. In modern times, when you need to know more and more about about buyers, this can be very useful.
     

If you use the above tricks carefully and apply them you will be able to see some really positive results. Profit may not be instantaneous but that is not the point of loyalty programs. It’s about building a connection with your customer, and that connection is vital for running your business.