These days, even traditional “brick and mortar” locations have an online presence. While in-store sales have consistently dropped year-over-year, eCommerce continues to consistently grow. Online shopping is convenient for consumers. But for businesses, a strong eCommerce presence can be the difference between earning profits every quarter or struggling to keep your business afloat.
Start With Buyer Personas
Creating a successful eCommerce business is about more than “if you build it, they will come.” There are millions of online stores and short consumer attention spans. So not only do you have quite a bit of competition when it comes to successful SEO, but you have to work even harder to attract and convert new customers into loyal supporters.
This means you’ll need to develop comprehensive research on your target audience that ensures you can meet their needs better than your competitors. The process begins with creating buyer personas – fictionalized representations of your target audience that provides insight into their motivations, pain points, and shopping preferences.
You might have multiple buyer personas. For example, for a website selling photography equipment, you have customers who would buy cameras for their leisure, vacation photos etc., there are people who just learning to get better skilled and might be looking for a bit more advanced equipment, as well as some guidance on how to choose the right equipment and then there would be highly skilled, professional photographers who would be looking for very advanced, sophisticated equipment. Another way to look at buyer personas would be retail and wholesale customers who would come to the website with very different levels of awareness and needs.
No matter how many personas you end up with, they’ll be valuable tools for creating the right messaging on your website to capture their attention, and to create effective marketing campaigns that target each group’s unique behaviors. Do some research on your existing customers and start developing personas that can be used to create more personalized marketing outreach and better conversion funnels on your website.
A quick Google search shows that there are multiple eCommerce platforms. Some are designed to be plug-and-play while others require more technical savvy. Consider the following questions before you settle on an eCommerce platform:
- How easily can you make edits?
- Can you integrate additional apps to enhance functionality?
- Does the platform offer flexibility to customize the built-in templates?
- What kind of payment integrations are available
- Can you add additional sales or social media channels to enhance reach?
- What kind of on-going maintenance would be needed? Do you have the resources to handle that?
- What is the extent of scalability? Would the platform allow your website to grow with your business?
Know Your Customer Journey
You can’t market to an audience without knowing how customers find your brand and interact with your marketing resources. Each prospect’s customer journey might look a little different, but if you examine the broad trends, you’ll likely find some similarities that you can leverage to your benefit.
Do most customers enter your sales funnel from your pay-per-click (PPC) ad campaigns? What about social media? When they arrive on-site, do they typically browse resources before committing to a purchase? Or do they pull the trigger immediately?
Depending on your industry, your customers might require multiple touchpoints with your brand, or even direct contact with a sales representative, before converting. It pays to understand how each buyer interacts with your site and what they expect from your sales process. Armed with this information, you can support their journeys with additional on-site resources or in-person contact as needed.
Don’t Forget the Customer Experience
A great marketing campaign and segmented buyer personas are irrelevant if your website is frustrating to use. Creating smart AI chat scripts, transparency with shipping or returns policies, offering a one-page checkout, and supporting multiple payment options, ensures that your customer feels supported throughout the user and buying experience. Marketing automation campaigns with specific and relevant information are also a great tool to enhance the customer experience not only on-site but also when the customer is off-site.
A/B Testing Refines Your Strategy
A/B testing, or split testing, is a common marketing experiment that involves comparing two elements against each other to measure the performance of each. Common elements for A/B testing include the copywriting of each web page, color schemes, the visual layout of landing pages, paid ad structure, and so on.
For example, a company about to launch a new product may have created multiple landing pages to support the launch. This company will show each landing page option to different website visitors at random, taking notes and performing statistical analyses on which page has the best potential for revenue-driving conversion. Once they have the winning landing page, they can do further A/B testing on that page by creating variations in buttons, Call to Actions etc., and enhance the performance of the page even more.
Just about any aspect of your eCommerce strategy can be tested in this way, so incorporate this into your strategy early to get the best results in the long-term. You’ll want to perform these tests on an ongoing basis to ensure your marketing materials stay relevant and accurate to your audience’s needs over time.
Successful eCommerce is About Constant Improvements
eCommerce is a constantly evolving medium, and you need to be ready to make occasional adjustments so that your store is welcoming. Taking a “one and done” approach means that you could be missing out on customers and ultimately revenue. Instead, smart eCommerce business owners should constantly be reviewing their shop, analyzing metrics, and identifying areas where there’s room for improvement. If you need help with planning and optimizing your eCommerce store, get in touch with WSI today.