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December 3, 2010

12 Solutions to Ecommerce Sites' Biggest Marketing Challenges

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Last Tuesday, we hosted a live Website Optimization webinar for Ecommerce websites . We received several great questions, but unfortunately we were not able to answer every one during the webinar. We've turned our attention to those questions here, and have addressed some of the core marketing challenges every Ecommerce website faces today. Feel free to contribute your own questions and tips in the comments below! ecommerce-inbound-marketing

1. Should I list my products on 3rd party sites (like Google Shopping) in addition to my ecommerce site?

Absolutely. These shopping sites are highly visited and your competition likely has their products listed on 3rd party sites. Many shoppers use these sites for comparison shopping and it is important that your products are visible. Your products need to be in front of as many people as possible, and this means presenting them in every economically viable channel. For most online stores, marketplaces like Google Shopping , eBay , and Buy.com are economically viable and tend to drive incremental revenue. Keep in mind that a product sold on a marketplace will have an additional fee on it. Get these buyers back to your site for repeat purchases!

2. Any recommendations for improving page load speed? I can't get any of my pages to load quickly.

One factor in page load speed is how many images are on your page. In the case of ecommerce websites it is essential to have images of your products, so this problem can be unavoidable to some degree, but resizing your pictures (not just taking a large picture and scaling it down) and using formats like .png can help. Different hosting companies can provide faster page load speed than others as well.

3. Can you give me some guidlines for differentiating content on my blog vs. my email newsletter?

Your blog content should revolve around anything interesting or signficiant in your industry as well as anything that helps solve probems for potential customers. Writing about your industry, product use cases, and product insights casts a wider net and it estabishes your site as a thought leader. It's OK to subtly include how your products can be purchased, but avoid making it the core focus of an article.

  Your newsletter, on the other hand, is a great way to engage your audience with promotions, special offers, and discounts that encourage repeat purchases. Consumers who subscribe to your newsletter give you their email address and are looking for compelling deals, especially during important buying seasons.

4. You said you should have an offer for every blog post. What can you offer that doesn't involve creating a unique product every time? Who has time to do that? I barely have time to blog.

It's not necessary to create a new offer for every blog post you write. Blog articles are a great opportunity to recycle old content and grow your email list. Remember, content that seems stale in your eyes may be new to your visitors, especially if they are visiting your website for the first time. Whitepapers, ebooks, and podcasts  can be leveraged for years.

5. What is lead nurturing?

Lead nurturing is the process of building a relationship with potential customers via email so they eventually become ready to buy and become a customer. This is a fantastic way for Ecommerce companies to engage the 96% of visitors who do not buy upon a first site visit to your store. Typically, the company that reaches out to potential consumers first wins the customer's business, so we recommend that leads generated through your website are put into an email lead nurturing campaign.

6. In the page title, should I include my company name and some keywords about my site or just the keywords?

You should insert your most important keywords at the front (i.e. left side) of your title; both search engines and human beings read English from left to right. Putting your company name in the page title is fine, but not necessary because it is likely already in your URL. The important thing is to constantly create pages with unique page titles to ensure you are not diluting them. Consider if valuable page title real estate is best used for redundant branded keyword SEO.

7. How do I get people to tweet about my company? Just ask them to share it on their network?

When starting out on Twitter without many followers, tapping into your immediate network is a great way to get the ball rolling. You should also be actively sharing other people's content as much or more than your own. Ultimately, more Twitter followers and more retweets come from creating remarkable content that naturally compells others to tweet it. In the near-term, follow more relevant people, and get them to follow you back. Consider if your competitors' Twitter followers should be your next customers once you've exhausted your own customer base.

8. Is it better to have your blog on your own domain? Or a separate blog site on a second domain that you registered, such as nameblog.com, with content and inbound links back to your main store site?

Although both methods will pass along full SEO credit to your website, it is always best to have your blog on your own domain. This is so when people click on those inbound links, they can easily access the rest of your website as well. Ultimately, you want your products in front of more qualified people and placing your blog on your own site with internal links to your products has more of a net positive SEO impact than an off-domain blog.

9. Are screencasts (video or audio) on the site really effective in engaging potential customers?

Audio and video can be an effective way to engage website visitors. Keep the videos short and to the point. It is important that videos or audio recordings are played when prompted by the website visitor, and not automatically played when they reach a specific page. Many people shop outside of their home like at work or in public areas and sound protruding from their computer can result in them abandoning your website. Video in particular helps bridge the gap between going to a store and touching a product, and buying it online.

10. I have different audiences, so how can I include them on the main webpage more efficiently without cluttering up the page too much? I'm creating unique landing pages per audience, but how do I get them all linked better from the main page?

You can include the different audiences within the top level navigation or with buttons. Clearly describe the different audiences or the products they would be interested in while putting these buttons or menu items at the top of the screen (also known as above the fold). Consider the 3-4 most important traffic buckets on your site (i.e. retail, wholesale, comparison shopping) and path shoppers into the appropriate pace on your site via buttons on the homepage.

11. Twitter, blog, other tips about how the customers will find your site in the first place?

Continuously create remarkable content and promote it through multiple channels, from social media to organic search to marketplaces.

12. Twitter just seems like so much crap about just companies trying to sell something . It is so boring. Does it really work? Am I the only one who hates Twitter?

There certainly is a lot of nosie on Twitter. Your question is a perfect example of why content and strategy are critical. A company that only talks about themselves and their products is not going to succeed. Linking to interesting blogs, articles, and other great content in addition to your own content will establish credibility and make it worthwhile.

And even if you hate hate hate Twitter, understand that Google and Twitter are in fact good friends, and Google will index your content much faster if it's posted to Twitter. Tweet links to your fresh content and Google will index it faster.

What other questions do you have?

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Topics: Ecommerce

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