- Posted by Melanie
- 04 February 2013
- E-Commerce Design, Ecommerce Marketing, Ecommerce SEO, Small Business, So you want to be a Shop Owner Series
With all the Panda, Penguin and buzz surrounding them it's very easy to get caught "putting out fires" all the time. It's very tiring and not so successful overall... so let's get going!
Below is a punch list of the things "I" think ecommerce shop owners should be concentrating on in 2013.... In order of priority. Call it a plan of attack, new year's resolution... Call it whatever you like, but get out in front of that monster and stop "putting out fires".
1. Content is still king if it's not crap. What are Google and the other search engines looking for in content?
- Make sure each page has a couple of good paragraphs.
- Avoid lists and comma separated values.
- Keep to that page's topic when writing content.
- Use common words that people might use to find your content in your content.
- Write for the masses, not everyone is a college grad.
- Structure your content properly with heading tags and organized paragraphs... Make it easy to scan.
- SPELL CHECK
- Your content should be written for your shoppers! If it's pushed down to the bottom of the page Google weighs it less and your shoppers likely never see it! #WasteOfTime
2. Usability is a never ending process. Making shopping easier gets more sales out of the visits you have already.
- At least once a week shop on your website and go all the way through checkout.
- Do you have pages that are really good but hidden from navigation?
- Do you have the trust signals you need such as highly visible phone number, SSL, security seals, guarantees and such? These really do increase sales and Google is looking for them!
- Do your pages load quickly? Start here
- Are your product descriptions and images adequate for me to throw money at you?
- Are you using colors in buttons and navigation to create a proper call to action and funnel people along?
- It is REALLY clear what payment methods you accept? Here is a cool payment image generator.
- Can I get a shipping quote before providing you my personal information?
- Have privacy, conditions, shipping and returns in place and easy to understand?
3. Social Media is not going to go away just because you think it doesn't apply to you... Instead you will go away =0
- Minimum you should have a Facebook page. People have begun using Facebook to search for products, services and businesses instead of a search engine!
- Very likely you should also have Twitter and Google+ (make sure to link your Google+ page and your website properly).
- Having a Facebook page is not enough.... engage these people and find sales in return.
- Your product pages should have at least Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and Pinterest buttons for sharing. The benefit from even 1 pin is really huge!
- Get on board with Rich Snippets to help the search engines and social media platforms understand your products and give you the credit you deserve.
- People love product videos.... if they're short, helpful and perhaps funny.
- The Internet is very much a popularity contest.
4. Link Building is "the job that never ends, it just goes on and on my friends". Links are still important it they're not faked, from junk sites or spammy.
- Build links by creating business profiles on business directories. Google Local, Yahoo local, Manta, Yelp etc.
- Find niche blogs, forums, Facebook groups and such related to your products and get involved. Note this is not a spamming venture... be helpful and be loved.
- NEVER, EVER pay for links or trade links..... Google will get you.
- Create a community page of your own on Facebook or similar.
- Join the Chamber of Commerce in your area and get in to their website directory.
- Post coupons on websites like BlueMountain and ReatilMeNot
- Make donations to local organizations and ask only for a thank you link from their website.
- Make use of Bing Local, Yahoo Local, Google Places & Google maps if you have a brick & mortar location.
- Have you tried free press releases?
5. Google Analytics is a wealth of knowledge! If you're not using it, shame on you.... If you are, make a commitment to spend 15 minutes a week in there "poking around". You will find that you will accidentally stumble upon things you didn't know to help you understand and grow your business.
6. Mobile technology is developing faster than we had ever expected. Devices have come down in cost and urban WiFi hub spots have put millions of users online who would not be otherwise.
- Tablet traffic accounted for 8-19% of total shopping traffic from Thanksgiving Day through Cyber Monday.
- Total sales from tablet type devices ranged from 7-17%, with iPads representing a disproportionate 94 percent majority of the tablets.
- Tablet shoppers on average converted as much as 38% higher and average order values were up to 15% larger.
- Look in to creating a mobile version of your website. Delia has a great mod for this purpose.
- Perhaps a Facebook catalog page?
These items here are pretty Google Proof. I mean they have been the right thing for a long time and are going to continue to be right. Stop thinking so much about "how to rank" and start thinking about how to "wow" your shoppers instead. You will earn the trust and love of your shoppers and Google at the same time. Toooofer!
- Posted by Melanie
- 27 April 2012
- E-Commerce Design
Usability testing is the most effective means to increase sales, shopper interaction and popularity for your ecommerce shop. Hands down, there is no more effective means to get MORE from the traffic you have.
So if usability testing is SO effective, why don't more people do it?
Many shop owners don't know about it, most assume it is incredibly expensive and frankly most are just to narrow minded to delve in to what "may be wrong" with their websites.
These reasons are none valid. Usability testing is no different than product testing, surveys, soliciting feedback and other techniques used by successful businesses worldwide. So what if you can do basic usability testing for free?
You CAN do usability testing! There are a ton of different means to do simple, effective and free usability testing for your website. I am going to touch on just a few specifically suited for ecommerce. These simple, easy to execute and effective usability testing plans will help you identify problems shoppers encounter on your website. If you just said to yourself "there are no problems on my website", then I challenge you to do these 2 usability plans... You are most certainly wrong. Every website has problems, no doubt.
This one is the absolute simplest technique to eliminate the problems shoppers encounter on your website. Soliciting feedback from shoppers is both easy, cheap or even free and very eye opening. Some people will not participate, some will and some will not be very nice. Toughen up, listen to each comment, test and take action.
The trick to soliciting feedback is to listen and not be a PIA to your shoppers.
- Feedback Software: Soliciting feedback from shoppers via software has become very popular. Basically, you get software (most paid services) to ask your customers to "rate their experience" on your website. Software like Shopper Approved (my personal favorite) works with your Zen Cart (or other software) to pop up and ask shoppers to rate their experience. The best part of Shopper Approved is that they followup with the shopper post-transaction email to get a more comprehensive rating which includes delivery time etc. The downfall is that this software ONLY solicits feedback from shoppers who completed a transaction. This leaves an absolute plethora of those who didn't! They couldn't find what they wanted, had checkout issues etc.
- Abandoned Carts: One of the standard package modules we install on new Zen carts is "Recover Cart Sales". This free Zen Cart module will let you send an email to shoppers who abandoned checkout. The standard "vanilla" email is pretty good, but we highly recommend adding a coupon to the email. This helps you convert the sale (which is the point) and track results better as well. Problem here is that shoppers who couldn't find what they sought or had issues before checkout are not captured.
- Followup Calls: This is one of my personal favorites. Every week pick a few shoppers from your orders, call them and chat about their experience. Ask them for feedback, let them know you appreciate their help and give them a coupon or gift certificate for their time. Once again, this only captures successful checkouts.
- Social Media: is a HUGE opportunity for free and effective usability testing. I especially like to solicit the help of Facebook fans when developing a new shopping cart to replace an old one. The act of creating "buzz" about your new design coupled with the feedback you can receive is positively priceless!
Creating a survey for people to evaluate your website is really much easier than you think. When you create a short survey you have a very controlled, yet flexible measurement tool that can be deployed in so many ways. You can send a survey to your newsletter subscribers, friends, Facebook fans and your offer a link to your website visitors. There are some very logical and basic tricks to creating an effective usability survey that you should observe.
- It should be SHORT.
- You should design a task such as "buy this widget" on my website.
- Questions should be simple stupid.
- Offer and opportunity for the survey taker to summarize their experience in their own words.
- Specifically solicit information about areas you feel are "potentially a problem".
- Thank them! Offering a coupon or such is cool, but make very certain you thank the participant.
- Measure your results and ACT!
- Did you easily locate the product?
- Did you feel like the information was adequate?
- Was checkout easy?
- Did you have trust or security concerns?
- What can we do to improve the experience?
Accomplishing this is far simpler than you may think. Certainly their are paid software platforms out there that offer the creation of these types of surveys, but my personal favorite is WordPress with Formidable. You should consider upgrading to the Pro edition ($37), as it has a bunch of features which will make this more effective. Aggregating your results is nice with graphs, tables etc.
I will tell you that NONE of this will be effective, much less matter if you are too narrow minded to consider that people have problems using your website. This, like anything else you do for your website is only effective if you can measure the results. That means you need to exercise some restraint in implementing "fixes". If you fix 10 things at once, how will you measure the effectiveness?
Lastly, before I leave you onto your new mission, let me just say that there is NO beating a good old fashioned looking over someones shoulder while they use your website. It's actually quite easy to get volunteers for this as well! I ask my kids, friends etc. again, while the "sample" is obviously smaller here, you have the ability to watch, ask questions and get real time feedback on possible solutions.