EDITOR’S NOTE: This is a guest post from Patrick Foster, an ecommerce entrepreneur, coach & writer. To publish your guest post, send it to firstname.lastname@example.org for our consideration.
It’s easy to forget that success in the field of ecommerce is much like every other area of business. It requires time, planning, discipline and determination: beyond the initial stages of setting up shop. Here are 6 tips to ensure the smooth running of your online business.
Engage with your customers
There are elements of customer service that small eCommerce companies can pull off, which the giants such as Amazon can’t. That is the power of personalization. Customers love to be engaged with on a personal level, whether it is through social media such as Facebook or Twitter or by sending personalized notes tucked inside packages, thanking them for their purchase.
When smaller companies embrace their humanity and strive to make every customer interaction a positive one, the results speak for themselves. People appreciate the gesture and attention to detail, something that is rarely encountered with bigger businesses. Try asking questions on social media, responding to people’s thoughts and queries, and offering special deals to loyal customers.
Save time with dropshipping
Dropshipping is a very popular and useful way of managing the order fulfilment side of your business. A dropshipper takes care of inventory, packaging and delivery so you don’t have to. By shifting that side of things off your plate, you are free to spend more time on much-needed marketing and customer care.
It’s easy to set up an ecommerce platform for dropshipping. Try Shopify’s free online store trial – a favorite among dropshippers – to test it out for yourself. You can also search online wholesale directories in your country to find a reliable, reasonably priced supplier that will meet your product and branding requirements.
Payments can be a real sticking point on ecommerce websites. If the process is too long-winded or complicated, it can lead to people abandoning the shopping cart before completing their purchase. That’s why using a payment solution like VoguePay can save a lot of hassle, making online national and international payments cheaper, safer and more versatile. Using a service that helps customers to feel they can trust the website is very important, as trust often forms the basis for making a purchase.
Pay attention to analytics
Pay close attention to what seems to be working in your online store, as well as what doesn’t. Your website analytics (make sure you’re tracking them) will reveal patterns of user behavior that will allow you to make some informed choices for improvement.
Sometimes there can be issues with a site that are hard to pinpoint using analytics data alone. That’s why it’s also a good idea to adopt user testing methods across your site. A/B testing can help to reveal which headlines, images, buttons and calls to action are most effective, as well as uncovering any sticking points, like shopping cart abandonment. Factors like a long-winded checkout process or surprise hidden fees are often the culprits and can take a while to reveal themselves if you don’t delve deeper.
Up the SEO Game
Online entrepreneurs can’t afford to ignore the power of SEO (search engine optimization). The better your online store is optimized for search engine results, the easier it will be for prospective customers to find you. SEO web marketing apps or plugins can be a real boon to ecommerce websites who want to improve their ranking, helping to ensure that all of the necessary elements are flagged up.
Doing keyword research using free online tools will help you to uncover which key search terms you should be including in your headings, URLs, titles, body copy and meta-descriptions. Crafting clear, relevant content that is useful for visitors is very important, as is intuitive navigation, use of internal links, image alt-tagging and external link building. This all takes time – so SEO should be viewed as a long-term (but still valuable) strategy.
Create a content plan
Building a content plan takes a little time, but the rewards are well worth it. The key to a great content strategy is to build it around the habits and interests of your ideal customer. What do their product buying habits tell you? What other areas might they be interested in? Gaining organic and social traffic to your website is a competitive business, and compelling content that’s been carefully planned and tailored to customer and seasonal trends is one of the best ways to earn it.
By continually optimizing your online store to improve customer experience, and paying attention to key data metrics, you will be well on your way to running a successful ecommerce business.
Do you run an online store? What are your top tips? Let us know in the comments.
Patrick Foster, ecommerce entrepreneur, coach & writer currently writes on EcommerceTips.org where he shares engaging ecommerce content for entrepreneurs and business owners. You can follow him on Twitter here, or add me on LinkedIn