The 3 fundamentals of long-term ecommerce success

The 3 fundamentals of long-term ecommerce success

Maybe it was the freedom to connect to your customers from a laptop that keeps your business going. Or, perhaps you’ve come up with the greatest thing since sliced bread.

With ecommerce sales breaking well into the trillions, the opportunity for success in the online business world is staggering. And so is the competition.

That being said, you must constantly be working to maintain the edge over your competitors. Here are three key areas in ecommerce you should focus your efforts on.

Use customer feedback to optimize their journey

Customer feedback might very well be one of the most important factors to play into an ecommerce platform. For one, in terms of the products themselves, almost everyone who has shopped online knows how important reviews are. Third-party validation is a critical aspect that works to push people over that final hurdle in the buyer’s journey.

From your perspective, the very nature of what you do with your site is meant to please visitors. The truth of the matter is you can only infer so much from your site’s analytics. Keep in mind, consumer mindsets and preferences change by the day – sometimes even the hour. Your efforts to optimize should be never-ending.

For this reason, you must be sure to make the task of leaving feedback as easy and accessible as possible. This goes beyond just follow-up surveys. Enterprise Customer Experience (CX) software provider Medallia came up with a resource titled “The Digital Customer Journey” that has the following bits of gold dust:

  • In order to get meaningful results, you need to engage people at as many touchpoints as possible.
  • Establish listening posts at pre-abandonment points and invite customers to tell you, in their own words, why they choose not to stay.
  • Create business rules to offer targeted incentives based on feedback response and customer personas.
  • Correlate feedback with behavioral patterns to develop effective persona-based funnels.

Some of the primary touchpoints include the initial sign up, checkout, when and where the customer is “on the fence” about making a purchase, and at the point of success.

The key is to ask for feedback in places where emotions are at their peak. Whether they are happy, frustrated, or feeling inspired, this is where you will gain the most beneficial input.

A company’s corporate website should be viewed as a “for the people, by the people” entity which always listens to the voice of the customer. Therefore, the feedback you get is the life and blood of how your customer journey evolves. In turn, that will help you formulate your ecommerce strategy moving forward.

Always be increasing web conversions

Your website is the heart and soul of your entire ecommerce operation. Online shoppers can be incredibly impatient and make quick decisions based on first impressions. At the end of the day, a poorly designed, un-optimized website can turn people away within seconds, and render your sales efforts useless.

There are so many factors, both big and small, that define an ecommerce storefront. Some of the big ones include: the quality of the images, form of the CTA buttons, ease of usability for all devices, and much more.

There are many red flags that separate the good websites from the bad. Finding a strong formula that seamlessly guides visitors to conversions and boosts your bottom line is an incredibly difficult and unpredictable task. If you’re a business of medium to large proportions, you’d be wise to bring in experts in niche ecommerce platforms if you’re looking to scale further. For example, Blackbelt Commerce specialize in helping storefronts built on the Shopify platform implement complex code and layouts, and implement conversion hacks that help maximize their sales.

Ultimately, your ecommerce website is the tell-tale of what your brand is all about. Take your time to ensure it’s done right.

Create a strong SEO strategy

People turn to the web for nearly everything these days. So much in fact that google has become a verb! With over 90 percent of online experiences starting in a search engine, it’s beyond imperative to have a well-planned SEO strategy in place to make your ecommerce store easy to find on the web.

If you don’t yet have a concrete SEO strategy in place, start by doing some research on keywords related to your niche. SEMrush has a very user-friendly resource for this – its SEO Content Template. Simply enter in your site URL, and it will come up with a long list of semantically related keywords, your rivals on Google, and potential sites to get backlinks from.

 

Keep in mind, the more general term you include on your site, the more competition it has. Thus making it more difficult to rank for it organically. The trick is finding a perfect balance of terms that are closely related to your business, without being too broad.

You can of course go the paid route. This means you will bid on certain keywords or phrases to be placed at the top of the search.

 

You will be charged each time someone clicks on your ad. This is known as pay per click (PPC).

Gaining web traffic, especially from organic search results, is not an easy task, Most people don’t even go beyond page one of the results. Google is famously quiet about what exactly factors into their search ranking algorithm. However, it’s a safe bet that the more valuable content you provide on your website, with specific keywords included, the more fruitful your SEO efforts will be.

Final words

Growing an ecommerce business in the age of Amazon Prime will always be a challenge. Unfortunately, there is no guaranteed template for how to achieve success. Much of it will be learned through trial and error. The most important thing to remember is to keep an open mind and be able to adjust each and every aspect of your execution from A to Z.

This post is part of our contributor series. The views expressed are the author's own and not necessarily shared by TNW.

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