With more and more companies rushing to move from offline to online, we find ourselves in a modern-day gold rush. But just like the gold miners, there are winners and losers when finding success online.
While sales and marketing are critical pieces to online omnichannel success, there’s an often-overlooked piece missing from the equation — operations. Because if back-end operations aren’t included as a pillar of your omnichannel strategy, you risk burnout and declining sales.
Today, many businesses use a combination of spreadsheets and legacy software to manage back-end operations: tracking inventory, planning, ordering, etc. However, these manual processes and disparate systems fall apart quickly.
So what should you do? How can you manage inventory, plan for product demand, and get the right product to the right customer? The answer, of course, depends on what you’re trying to do.
In this post, we’ll review the different types of back-office systems to help you determine exactly which one you need — and get you on the path to automation.
4 Types of Ecommerce Back-Office Systems
The most popular back-office systems for managing ecommerce operations include:
- Order management systems
- Inventory management systems
- Warehouse management systems
- Enterprise resource planning software
Each one has a specific functionality that can drive efficiencies, and selecting the right one, hinges on the needs of your specific business.
1. Order Management Systems (OMS).
Let’s kick things off with order management systems (OMS). At its most basic level, order management means how you handle orders from the moment the customer completes checkout until they receive their item (and sometimes when they send the item back to you). And the system is whatever method, or methods, you choose to complete the process.
This means your OMS will manage the processes tied to orders and their fulfillment, such as:
- Allocating orders to the appropriate warehouse for shipping
- Processing the orders
- Providing a record of data on the status of orders and the inventory they contain
Brightpearl does an excellent job of breaking it down even further if you want to get more granular details on what an OMS does. They also highlight the different types of systems for order management, including:
Manual order processing: This might look like printing a CSV spreadsheet, then, placing an order with your warehouse, printing a shipping label, and finally, picking and packing the order for shipment.
Managing orders through your ecommerce platform: If you only sell direct-to-consumer through your website, you can use your ecommerce platform to keep track of orders. However, if you’re selling on other channels, such as Walmart, or through social media, like Instagram, this can lead to trouble.
Order management software: For smaller businesses who don’t have a large tech stack, order management software can work well, especially if you can integrate it into your existing ecommerce platform. Some great examples include SureDone and Sellbrite.
The most important thing to keep in mind is that OMS software, unlike manual processes and ecommerce platforms, will help you automate. And automation is key when you’re looking to sell more and grow your business.
2. Inventory Management Systems (IMS).
Now, let’s move on to inventory management systems (IMS). Inventory management (sometimes called inventory control) is about monitoring the quantities and locations of your products. It accounts for the entire product lifecycle — whether it’s sitting on a warehouse shelf with your distributor, currently being fulfilled, or in the process of being returned by a customer.
So when you can effectively track your inventory, you know exactly how much of each item you have, which items are running low, and when you need to replenish them.
Brightpearl has another excellent guide devoted to inventory management for more details, but some of the benefits they highlight of effective inventory management include:
- Less risks of running out of stock
- More insights into high-performing products
- Better customer experiences
- Great theft deterrent
When it comes to inventory management systems, they’re very similar to the ones for order management:
Manual systems: This could include keeping track of inventory using a ledger or spreadsheets. However, these methods are very prone to error, especially when multiple people are involved.
Inventory management software: Software systems automate time-consuming manual processes and offer many features, such as low stock notifications and real-time stock reporting. Even better, cloud-based software can integrate with your existing tech stack.
For example, Shopventory can all easily integrate seamlessly with BigCommerce. This automated connection is particularly advantageous for saving time if you’re selling through multiple third-party marketplaces, like Walmart and Amazon, in addition to your ecommerce store.
The only downside to dedicated inventory management software is that it can get complicated for businesses with multiple technology systems that need to work together.
3. Warehouse Management Systems (WMS).
So if you already have an IMS, why would you need a warehouse management system (WMS)? While some people use IMS and WMS interchangeably, there is a key difference in the latter — it’s specific to warehouse operations.
As SkuVault explains, a WMS is an important element of your supply chain that manages inventory, picking processes, reporting and auditing. Your WMS can work with your IMS to track items as they move throughout the process of storage, picking and packing.
Additionally, a WMS can oversee multiple warehouses and centralize the information to facilitate the distribution of goods. Some warehouse management software can also help you automate the kitting and bundling process, which can potentially increase your sales.
SkuVault also shares the core components of a WMS:
- Handling receiving and returns, ensuring you have the right balance of inventory
- Managing warehouse logistics, improving efficiency by reducing labor costs
- Integrating with your existing technology, enabling seamless order processing
- Reporting and forecasting, helping maximize your warehouse space
So when you want to automate the receiving and sending of goods, warehouse management systems, such as the ones offered by SkuVault and Scout TopShelf, are an excellent choice.
Though these days, some inventory management systems also offer this functionality, along with a host of other features including order management, stock visibility and purchase order (PO) generation.
4. Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP).
Finally, we’ve reached enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems. ERP systems encompass many of the functionalities mentioned in the systems above — and then some.
In fact, another term for ERPs is business management system, for the very reason that they can manage multiple areas within your ecommerce back-end operations.
ERPs offer a bit everything, from inventory and orders to payments and warehouse operations — and can eventually become the single source of truth for your data. For instance, access to accurate data was a big reason why BigCommerce merchant Saddleback Leather switched to Acumatica for their ERP.
“I find more people are using Acumatica because it’s intuitive, makes sense and is so easy to use. We don’t have spreadsheets flying around and people have access to the same data all the time,” said Dave Munson, Saddleback Leather Founder and CEO.
However, not all ERP systems are the same. Legacy systems with limited functionality can actually inhibit your ecommerce growth. Acumatica provides a helpful checklist to help you evaluate the features you’ll need for your business, which include:
- Does it seamlessly integrate with your ecommerce platform?
- Can you perform critical accounting and business management functions?
- Is it on the cloud so that you can synch and access data from the internet?
- How will you be charged as you grow and scale your ecommerce business?
- Will the system enable you to reduce risk and improve security?
Additionally, due to their scope of capabilities and centralization, ERPs are best for larger companies (both B2B and B2C), fast-growing DNVBs, and complex use cases, such as selling on multiple sales channels, including online and in-store.
So if you’re looking for a place to start evaluating ERPs, BigCommerce works with several, including Acumatica, Brightpearl, NetSuite, Microsoft and Sage.
Key Takeaway: Automate Your Back-Office Operations
At the end of the day, whether you’re a small business just getting off the ground or a global enterprise, it’s imperative that you automate your ecommerce back-end operations. Because when you do, you unlock the keys to better customer experiences, less wasted time, greater efficiencies and so much more.
How do you get your visitors’ attention without totally interrupting or annoying them?
This is the tightrope that ecommerce marketers have to walk, with every new customer.
Doing so is becoming more and more difficult. After all, our customers’ attention spans continue to shrink.
Marketers are constantly scrambling for fresh tactics to put potential customers and new visitors on a clear path to purchase.
But perhaps the best approach to winning customers’ attention requires going back in time.
Let’s rewind to over two decades ago- when marketing wizard Seth Godin coined the term “permission marketing.” The concept is simple enough: rather than being the loudest voice in the room, present your marketing as an exchange for permission. In Godin’s own words:
“Permission doesn’t have to be formal but it has to be obvious.”
Reaching customers today means putting personalized offers front-and-center while also asking for their explicit permission. That’s where ecommerce popups come into play.
And if you’re skeptical about whether popups still work, we totally get it.
Popups are old-school, right? They might seem like the exact opposite of permission marketing.
However, popups remain a staple of ecommerce for a reason. Look no further than the millions of sites that still rely on them. That’s because popups have come a long way in terms of style and sophistication. If this is still your idea of a popup, it’s time to rethink what they’re capable of:
Fast forward to the present day where popups represent the perfect balance of catching visitors’ eyes and asking for their permission to be sold to.
In this guide, we’ll break down why “certain” ecommerce popups are so effective, best practices for using them, Dos and Don’ts and examples of powerful popups from the best ecommerce brands.
What is a Popup, Anyway?
Simply put, a popup is an overlay that stops on-site visitors and displays a secondary offer.
When it comes to ecommerce, popups are typically used to promote discount codes to first-time visitors, encouraging them to opt-in to an email list.
Popups today are also capable of recommending products and content for returning visitors through behavior-based targeting. For example, popups can be triggered based on factors such as how long someone’s spent on a particular page, how much they’ve scrolled through, what pages they visited, or whether they’re a first-time visitor.
One of the most important distinctions between modern popups and spammy ads of the past, is how they’re designed and presented to visitors. Specifically- modal popups that temporarily pause visitors’ screens from scrolling, rather than force an annoying window that can’t easily be clicked away.
Below is an example of a mobile popup that presents itself as an overlay on a visitors’ screen. It’s scroll-friendly and offers a clear place to opt out if you want to. What’s considered the norm today? This variety of friendly, stylish popups- as seen below:
Why are Popups Important for Ecommerce?
As noted earlier, popups have been a cornerstone of digital advertising for decades now.
However, a boom in ad blocking software and “banner blindness” in recent years has forced popups to change for the better. In short, ecommerce popups can (and should) feel as if they’re a seamless part of your site rather than a disruption.
And this new form of popup represents a major opportunity for ecommerce merchants.
When done right, popups go hand in hand with increased conversion rates, more leads, and greater revenue. Just about every major ecommerce brand has some form of popup strategy present onsite and that’s no coincidence.
Also, consider that popup designs have come a long way. From colorful, eye-popping windows to subtle, minimalist opt-in forms- you can put ads together that are both enjoyable and inviting for visitors.
The beauty of popups is that they can produce immediate results for merchants.
Want to start collecting email addresses from your visitors?
Looking to learn more about how your leads behave?
Popups allow you to do both ASAP.
Modern popup tools also require little legwork and no necessary coding knowledge. From working with templates to integrating popups into your BigCommerce site, getting your ads off the ground can be done as a quick DIY win in a matter of minutes.
How to Use Popups the Right Way
Let’s cut to the chase: the poor reputation of popups is due to so many brands misusing them for years. You can’t just slap popups on your site and expect legit results.
Through intelligence tools and behavior-tracking, popups allow you to connect with your visitors and attract more leads. Like any other marketing campaign or strategy, ecommerce popups need to be fine-tuned and optimized with your customers in mind.
Below are some Key Dos and Don’ts of putting together a nice popup campaign:
- DO promote more than just deals. Discounts codes and coupons might be the bread and butter of brands using popups, but that’s not all they’re capable of. For example, consider using popups to recommend products, share content, and introduce time-sensitive offers.
- DO make your popups feel distinct from the rest of your site. Through style choices such as your design and color scheme, you can win the undivided attention of your visitors while sticking with your existing branding.
- DO present popups that illustrate your brand voice. Effective popups do more than just scream “BUY NOW!” Ideally, your campaigns should concisely highlight your brand’s personality and present a friendly invitation to take the next step.
- DON’T interrupt new visitors before they’ve had a chance to browse. Abrupt pop-ups are jarring and likely won’t leave a positive first impression.
- DON’T present the same popup to every visitor. Instead, personalize for your visitors and create messages for each visitor group (think: first-time visitors, abandoned customers, or repeat buyers).
- DON’T display irrelevant popups or multiple ads for the same visitor in one session. Imagine someone asking you the same question multiple times or egging you on when you’ve told them you’re not interested. That’s exactly what repeat popups feel like, so avoid doing so in your ads.
The takeaway here is that popups should be created with the customer’s experience in mind. Put yourself in your visitors’ shoes and think about the sort of popups that would encourage you to opt-in.
On the flip side, consider the marketing messages that turn you off. You wouldn’t want to feel annoyed or disrupted… your customers probably don’t want to feel that way either. Empathy ensures that your popups reach users in both a thoughtful and welcoming way.
Coming Up with Proper Popup Goals
Goal-setting is key to not only figuring out which kind of popups you want to create but also how you’ll measure their success. Let’s look at some sample goals related to ecommerce popups.
1. Drive more sales.
This is the big one. It’s well-documented that shoppers are hesitant to pay full price when buying from a new merchant (this is especially true among younger consumers). A popup discount can provide a push for first-time buyers and repeat customers alike.
2. Grow your list.
Opt-ins don’t happen by accident: you need to ask for ‘em. If your end-game is to grow your email list or newsletter subscriber count, popups represent a prime opportunity to gather email addresses and loyal fans. Beyond email, popups can help grow your social messenger and SMS lists as well.
3. Generate leads.
Popups can also boost your form submissions to generate leads to nurture via email marketing. Opt-in pops are particularly powerful for merchants offering lead magnets such as free ebooks or courses, serving as the starting point for your drip campaigns.
4. Improve your customer experience.
If nothing else, popups and their associated analytics can teach you a ton about your target audience.
For example, you can learn which products and pages drive the most opt-ins. You might also notice that certain popups perform better with different types of traffic (social, organic, and so on). The more you learn about the customer experience, the easier it is to optimize it. Popups can help you make sense of your on-site data beyond say, Google Analytics.
Popups are likewise a valuable source of direct customer feedback. You might use a popup to ask visitors on how they found you, or even hook them up with a product quiz to redirect them to an appropriate page. No matter how you roll them out onsite, you’re constantly learning more and more about your audience.
5 Types of Popups to Win Over Your Target Audience
Now, let’s take a look at the different types of popups available to merchants (and creative examples in action). Any combination of the following ecommerce popups are fair game- depending on your goals.
1. Entry popups.
No surprises here. Entry popups appear when someone lands on your site for the first time.
Here’s an entry popup example from Skullcandy, prompting visitors with a sweet 15% off deal upon signing up for their email list.
Merchants need to be mindful when using entry popups, though. Remember what we said earlier about disrupting first-time visitors before they’ve even had a chance to shop around? Entry pops are typically reserved for bigger brands that have enough name recognition that such ads are seen as a courtesy rather than an interruption.
We recommend using entry popups as a method of welcoming returning visitors. For example, you might suggest an offer or recommend products to someone based on what they were browsing last time. This can serve as a sort of “Oh yeah” moment that motivates a purchase.
2. Scroll-based popups.
Scroll-based popups allow you to target visitors who’ve engaged with your content. Someone who takes the time to scroll through a page, has already shown subtle (but significant) interest in what you’re selling.
Applied to category pages or blog posts, scroll-based popups can serve as a reward for visitors who stick around and browse. The fact that these popups are based on engagement, means that they’re more likely to serve relevant shoppers.
Here’s a popup example from Anchor and Crew, which appears after someone has scrolled through a category page. As an added bonus, the popup’s “reveal code” CTA makes the offer feel more exclusive.
3. Delayed popups.
Delayed popups are displayed after visitors spend a certain amount of time on your website.
The advantages of delayed popups are two-fold. They tend to perform well, as they only target shoppers who are interested enough to stay glued to your site. Meanwhile, they can help encourage inactive or fickle traffic to do something.
For example, you can use a delayed popup to recommend trending or best-selling products. These types of popups serve as a way to legitimately help out visitors rather than just advertising to them.
Make sure you don’t arbitrarily time your delayed popups though- make sure to check your Google Analytics as a frame of reference. There you can detect pages where traffic is spending a long amount of time (and might need assistance) and likewise gauge what would be an optimal time for serving your popup (30 seconds, 60 seconds, and so on).
4. Interaction-based popups.
Interaction-based popups are typically triggered when a visitor clicks a particular button or link on-site. In short, these types of popups are used based on what your visitors show interest in.
They’re ideal for driving registrations (webinars and free trials) or downloads (ebooks or other lead magnets).
Unlike the other popup types mentioned so far, these are usually a bit wordier as they speak directly to the visitor’s intent. Below is an example of an interaction-based popup from Peloton after browsing their classes page:
5. Exit-intent popups.
Exit-intent popups demand the attention of abandoning visitors at the exact moment a visitor is about to bounce from your site.
These popups are by far the most popular and widely-used. That’s because exit-intent popups are a direct way to battle the phenomenon of cart abandonment.
An exit-intent popup can win back would-be lost sales by sweetening the deal with free shipping or an added bonus discount.
Presentation is a big part of making exit-intent popups work. For example, many brands couple their exit-intent popups with time-sensitive offers to serve as a “now or never” moment for shoppers.
4 Awesome Ecommerce Popup Examples
To wrap things up, let’s look at some top-tier examples of high-performing ecommerce popups. These examples can help serve as motivation for your own popups in terms of creatives and copy.
Example #1: Di Bruno Bros.
This delayed popup from Di Bruno Bros. is simple but effective- offering a discount in exchange for a newsletter signup.
The colorful design behind the special offer is visually striking, while the “Sign me up!” CTA feels conversational and inviting. This is a shining example of how popups don’t have to be inherently complicated to get the job done.
Example #2: Solo Stove.
This exit-intent popup from Solo Stove is notable for its attention-grabbing header (“Wait a Minute!”) and creates a sense of excitement.
Showing enthusiasm and hyping up your offers is ideal for reducing abandonment as you make your product seem “can’t-miss”. The popup likewise shows off the brand’s personality and is anything but boring.
Example #3: Natori
Not all popups require you to sell something. For example, this interaction-based popup from Natori (displayed after clicking a “Learn More” CTA) highlights more information about how the brand’s products support causes- without requiring visitors to leave the product page. This is a great example of how popups can encourage visitors to take action without being too salesy about it.
Example #4: Revelry
This popup from Reverly showcases how ecommerce popups can be used to segment your list (in this case, brides versus bridesmaids). This information allows for more relevant targeting and awesome future recommendations.
The popup itself is brimming with personality between its headline (“Let’s get this party started!”) and entices opt-ins with a potential $200 prize. Giveaways are a prime way to build your email list and this popup proves it.
Listen: ecommerce popups are here to stay.
Although “popup” was once a cringe-worthy term in advertising, the medium has evolved to meet the needs of modern shoppers. Through personalization and targeting, merchants can use popups as a means to not only learn more about their audience but also to create meaningful customer experiences.
And the more popup campaigns you run, the better you can optimize your storefront’s conversion strategy and make serious use of your marketing messages.
The takeaway? Popups represent the perfect balance between asking permission and getting your customers’ precious attention. When done right, they’re the much-needed push that encourages shoppers to take action.
In 2020, nearly 55% of consumers used DTC channels to purchase CPG products or nonperishable items they use on a regular basis.
With fewer consumers strolling the aisles of their favorite big-box stores to buy the products they use every day, brands have had the opportunity to create more engaging omnichannel experiences that help shoppers get to know their brand and create stronger lifetime value.
Take soap as an example of a common CPG product. A soap brand whose products are usually grabbed on a customer’s weekly Target run can leverage social media advertising to engage with that customer on a deeper level.
For instance, the soap brand could share with the customer that its products are good for the environment or safe for children, as well as highlight special products like seasonal scents. This could inspire the customer to start making small changes to their purchases. They might opt for the soap brand’s other products, like disinfectant wipes and laundry detergent.
Soon enough, the customer eventually starts buying all their household products from the soap brand — and all because the brand had more storytelling space through social media.
Your Brand Story Doesn’t Fit on a Product Label
CPG is surging in online popularity across the board. After increasing 5.2% to $19.4 billion in 2020, US digital ad spend for CPG is expected to increase 16.4% to $22.58 billion in 2021.
CPG brands have more opportunities than ever to create an online presence that mitigates the race to the bottom with bargain shoppers:
- Share what makes their brand unique
- Give more information about how to use your product
- Provide personalized product recommendations
- Offer subscription fulfillment to make the customer’s life easier
An authentic engagement strategy helps customers feel confident shopping for products online that they’ve traditionally purchased in-store. It isn’t just about having a flashy label on a shelf anymore (although strong digital creative assets will certainly help you stand out) — it’s about intentionally curating an image for shoppers of how their life could look if they purchase your product.
How will they feel? Will the product help them feel more empowered, creative, or confident? An ad is no longer about promoting your product — it’s creating a connection with the customer that shows how that product can improve their life.
How to Capitalize on Brand Authenticity Through Online Storytelling
So how do brands create experiences that cause emotional reactions and convince shoppers to stay loyal — and beyond that, to pay a premium?
Consumers have more choices than ever and want to feel good about the products in their homes. Many retail categories have been capitalizing on authenticity through online storytelling for years, but brick-and-mortar CPG brands have been more focused on capturing attention on the shelf.
With consumer behavior shifting more online, CPG brands now have the opportunity to master the art of capturing attention on the digital shelf, as well.
1. Get to know your brand.
The job of a marketer is to understand what’s unique and different about their product, and then broadcast that to the right audience at the right time. However, 69% of consumers distrust traditional advertising.
Brands need to prioritize a strategy that gains consumer trust by being as genuine, transparent and ethical as possible, so they can earn long-term brand loyalty.
Think about your own brand. What is your story? What is your value? How do you make life easier for your customers? Use digital channels to evangelize your message and ensure that consumers have every opportunity to learn the answers to these questions.
It’s important to remember that before you can share your authentic self, you need to understand the story you’re telling.
2. Use social proof to make your point.
Brands can shout their successes from the rooftops, but word of mouth advertising has yet to be beat in terms of earning trust from new customers. These types of social proof can take place in many forms these days.
At a minimum, a brand should have a reviews strategy in place with intentional review collection at the front. Those star ratings and personal reviews can help cut through the clutter in Google searches for high-intent shoppers, or they can start to pique the interest of passive prospective customers through display channels like social media or programmatic advertising.
Influencer marketing can also be used as a lever for social proof. Consumers know that the people they follow are compensated for promoting a product, but any interest piqued by a favorite blogger offering a recommendation coupled with a website full of happy customer reviews will help to earn trust with your customer and that conversion.
The better you understand your audience, the more granular you can get with your influencer strategy. Don’t forget that micro-influencers with niche audiences can be incredibly valuable assets to help share the word of your brand.
3. Leverage user-generated content.
Additionally, there are creative ways to leverage user-generated content (UGC) across different channels. For example, if a customer shares a photo or video about how much they love your product, sharing that on social media could help more new shoppers trust your brand.
In fact, UGC is one of the most authentic forms of advertising your brand can curate. By intentionally calling on your audience to share their own pictures of your product in action or the results of using your product, you’ll be inundated with a bounty of creative assets to use in your social media, display advertising, website product pages, email campaigns and anywhere else you represent your brand.
Authentic CPG Brands Drive Customer Loyalty and Lifetime Value
Earning a customer once is a victory — but it’s a greater victory to keep them coming back for more.
Think about the soap company that also sells cleaning products again. These items only get replenished once they’re used up, so the brand could help customers with an email or a blog with cleaning tips or reminders to clean.
A guide to product usage is also a great way to remind your customers about other product lines, and it gives you the opportunity to sell more of your product line to increase your customer lifetime value.
Think about how you’re engaging on social media, email, SMS and in your brick-and-mortar sales channels. As long as your content leads with being helpful and authentic — and you understand how these channels are working together — you can earn your customers loyalty by making their lives easier.
Today’s shoppers can see through inauthentic sales tactics, and with more choices available, the brands that will continue to thrive in 2021 and beyond will be the brands that master customer engagement.
Your website should be a treasure trove of reasons for customers to love your products, so pull the right levers to lead your audience on a journey of learning and loving your brand.
Ecommerce is a rapidly growing industry with many exciting innovations happening all the time. Customer expectations have never been higher – they want more personalization, instant gratification and fewer hoops to jump through at checkout. Merchants are evolving to deliver these seamless customer experiences.
Unfortunately, where great opportunities exist, so too do people trying to exploit them. Online fraudsters are also innovating to develop more sophisticated techniques to take advantage of the explosion of ecommerce and the steady rise in new customer accounts.
In meeting customer expectations, merchants can unwittingly become more vulnerable to certain forms of fraud and abuse. In fact, friction-free customer experience can hinder a merchant’s ability to detect and prevent fraud.
While retailers are already wrestling with well-known types of ecommerce fraud, such as chargeback fraud, friendly fraud and phishing, there are several new and growing forms of fraud businesses need to be aware of.
Fraud Touchpoints Across the Customer Journey
Fraud isn’t just taking place at the point of transaction. It’s now taking place across the entire customer journey. Every time a merchant and customer connect, that’s an opportunity for fraudulent activity. While not an exhaustive list, here are some examples:
1. Fraud touchpoint: Creating an account.
Creating an account at an online store provides shoppers with a seamless and personalized shopping experience, access to special offers and a pathway to loyalty programs. But it’s also fertile ground for synthetic identity fraud.
As the name suggests, instead of stealing another person’s identity, these fraudsters create an entirely new fake person using a combination of fake information (e.g., burner phones, fake email addresses) and real identity information (e.g., stolen social security numbers).
Armed with this fake identity and some established credit history, fraudsters go shopping online, then disappear — leaving behind a trail of outstanding balances. Although the identity is false, the activities are real: spending time at online stores simulating genuine use, filling out forms and creating accounts before a transaction ever takes place.
This human factor makes synthetic identity particularly challenging for merchants to combat. This is especially true because they want to prioritize customer experience versus over-scrutinizing accounts to find the bad apples.
2. Fraud touchpoint: Updating an account.
Whereas our first fraud touchpoint focused on the bad actor creating a fake account, this one looks at legitimate activity that leaves honest consumers and merchants vulnerable.
In account takeover fraud (ATO), a fraudster gains access to a customer’s ecommerce account. This can occur through any variety of methods including the purchase of stolen passwords or security codes or deploying a phishing or malware attack. Years of data breaches have provided fraudsters with a treasure trove of personally identifiable information (PII) that can be leveraged for ATO.
Once the fraudster has control over the account, they will update more subtle pieces of data like phone numbers, emails and addresses and then begin making expensive purchases with the goal of reselling those goods or benefitting from personal use – before the breach is detected.
ATO is a serious form of identity theft and can be very damaging to a merchant’s reputation.
3. Fraud touchpoint: Payment authorization.
Have you ever seen “pending charge” while reviewing your credit card statement online? If so, you’re seeing payment authorization in action. Once a shopper confirms their purchase, in seconds a chain of events unfolds between multiple parties including the merchant, payment gateway, payment processor and the issuing bank.
It’s at this critical touchpoint that fraudsters take advantage. Card testing fraud happens when fraudsters gain access to stolen credit card numbers through theft or by purchasing them through the dark web. They may not know the credit card limit or whether the credit card number is even valid, which is why bots are employed to test thousands of credit card numbers on extremely small purchases – quickly. These initial small purchases often go unnoticed. Once fraudsters know that a credit card number works, they up the ante with much more expensive purchases.
Both merchants and impacted customers tend to realize that they have been victims of card testing fraud once larger purchases have been made. By that point, fraudsters may have been able to make several significant purchases.
4. Fraud touchpoint: Fulfillment.
If buy online, pick up in store (BOPIS) was previously an omnichannel experiment, 2020 was the year it really took off. According to ACI Worldwide, merchants who had BOPIS available as an option pre-COVID-19, experienced a bump of 70% by volume and 58% by value in 2020. And 2020 was also the year that the highest number of merchants implemented BOPIS delivery for the first time.
What’s not to love? Consumers get the convenience of shopping at home combined with the speed of in-store or curbside pick-up and don’t have to pay for shipping.
But lurking in the shadows are the fraudsters ready to take advantage of this promising touchpoint. In addition to the growth of BOPIS, BOPIS fraud has also seen a significant increase, with a 7% fraud attempt rate compared to 4.6% in other delivery channels. Using the same stolen credit card used to place the order, fraudsters simply pick up the order with the confirmation receipt they received.
This ability to place a fraudulent order online then pick it up in person removes many of the checkpoints that merchants rely on for verification, including different billing and shipping addresses, distance calculations and other red flags.
Reluctant to ruin the customer experience, store associates will often bypass checking a valid form of identification to see if the person is who they say they are or to see if this person even exists. And because of this, the fraudster is able to walk away with their loot the same day.
5. Fraud touchpoint: Loyalty and retention.
If retention is a hallmark goal for merchants, a loyalty program is one of the mechanisms to help achieve it. Aside from increasing customer retention and reducing customer acquisition costs, loyalty programs generate a goldmine of data which can be used to fine-tune offers and personalize the experience. Customers receive special recognition, access to exclusive offers and have a foundation to cement a relationship with the merchant.
Sounds like a win-win, right? Well not exactly as there’s a third player that’s increasingly becoming involved in the loyalty equation: the fraudster. Unlike their bank account or credit card balances, consumers don’t often check loyalty account balances.
With loyalty program fraud, the criminal will utilize ATO or synthetic identity fraud to redeem or steal credits, points or other forms of value. Typically the fraudster will redeem gift certificates and then sell them on the black market for a percentage of their face value. And because many loyalty programs include other data points on the customer, accessing a loyalty account offers the fraudster easy access to PII — including date of birth, household size, marital status, annual income and other nuggets which make it easy to perform more acts of fraud.
6. Fraud touchpoint: Returns.
A flexible, customer-friendly return policy has a significant impact on a shopper’s likelihood to
purchase. And it’s this very flexibility that makes returns another target for fraudsters. Return fraud happens anytime a fraudster abuses a merchant’s return policy.
Of the $428 billion in merchandise that consumers returned to merchants last year, approximately 5.9% of those returns were fraudulent, amounting to $25.3 billion according to the NRF.
Many fraudulent returns are carried out by individuals. Here are some of the ways individual consumers abuse merchant return policies:
- Purchasing multiple items to receive free shipping or other merchant benefits, with the full intent to return many of the items.
- Wardrobing which refers to a consumer using an item before returning it as new.
While individual return fraud is damaging, the more sinister forms of return fraud are being carried out by organized crime rings (OCRs).
Once these organized fraudsters have breached a customer’s account through credit card theft, ATO or synthetic identity fraud, they use the credit cards to purchase merchandise. The merchandise is then returned without receipt for a merchandise credit or gift cards, which can then be turned around and sold for cash to businesses, individuals or third-party gift card retailers.
Aside from lost revenues from returns abuse, there’s the added operational cost of processing returns, shipping and restocking inventory. Return abuse can be challenging to detect and stop, as the organized crime rings are sophisticated — often setting up new accounts and payment methods to avoid detection and hide their identities.
Behavior: An Emerging Trend to Secure the Entire Customer Journey
If ecommerce fraud is happening throughout these customer journey touchpoints, the challenge is to detect it early — before the damage occurs.
Before fraudsters can return stolen items, they need to receive the goods.
Before receiving the goods, they need to submit payment.
Before submitting a payment or stealing loyalty points, they must create or update an account.
Before any of this, fraudsters do what legitimate customers do. They initiate an ecommerce session.
And with the advent of fully automated fraud prevention platforms, powered by machine learning models, merchants can detect suspicious behaviors across the customer journey, and across all sessions — not just at the point of transaction.
1. Behavioral biometrics is a big and growing market.
While it’s easy for fraudsters to mimic real customers’ credentials, their behavior is more vulnerable. It’s not whether the user name and password are entered correctly, but how they are entered. How a fraudster scrolls through a page, types on a keyboard, transitions between fields using the mouse or tab key and swipes, can be just as unique as their fingerprint — and it can be compared to a legitimate user’s known patterns.
It’s the difference in these subtle “tells” that forms the basis for a new and growing form of fraud prevention: behavioral biometrics.
2. How behavioral biometrics works.
Running continuously in the background of every ecommerce session, behavioral biometrics leverages machine learning to build up legitimate user profiles. By verifying good users first, the model then adapts to new and unknown threats. Because it is passive and behind the scenes, it doesn’t cause friction for shoppers or merchants until a session is identified as high-risk.
If a fraudster is prey and behavioral biometrics is a predator, here’s how it works:
- The fraudster initiates a normal ecommerce session, unaware of the predator lying in wait behind the scenes
- In this particular session, the keystroke dynamics, type speed and other biometrics raise a red flag, but not quite high enough for the predator to pounce
- The session is flagged as the fraudster goes to create a new account
- As the fraudster continues onward to create a new account with a synthetic identity, warning bells start going off because the biometrics in this session are decidedly different from that of a legitimate customer
- Because the fraudster has already been flagged, it’s time to pounce: put the unknown identity through additional fraud checks before the order can be placed and fulfilled.
Instead of erecting unnecessary obstacles throughout the shopping journey, behavioral biometrics adapts to user behavior and authenticates legitimate shoppers. And for sessions which are deemed fraudulent, merchants can terminate the session, ask users to re-authenticate, or even suspend the account. Ultimately, this real-time, final barrier against a potentially fraudulent transaction helps merchants preserve the customer experience.
Wrapping Up: How to Out-innovate the Fraudsters
As the ecommerce industry continues to innovate, so too will the fraudsters. In this constant cat-and-mouse game, it’s possible to stay one step ahead. Instead of only securing the point of transaction, merchants must realize that fraudsters reveal themselves throughout the customer journey — through every keystroke and in every session.
Thankfully, innovations in machine learning technology and behavioral biometrics make it possible for merchants to recognize and stop these fraudsters in their tracks – before they have their opportunity to inflict real financial damage — to the tune of $130 billion by 2023.
Frictionless customer experience or stronger fraud detection and prevention measures? Now merchants don’t have to decide between the two. They can have both.
Google’s latest algorithm updates for page experience — primarily the much-talked about Core Web Vitals — will go into effect in May 2021. But if you’re not aware of what this means for SEO or your BigCommerce website, don’t worry — we’ve got you covered.
“Helping with conversion and improving page experience, including page load performance, has always been, and continues to be, a major focus for us,” advises Troy Cox, Vice President of Product Management at BigCommerce. “Google’s Core Web Vitals initiative makes it easy to quantify a page’s experience, and we’ve been working with Google for some time now to optimize the platform for these metrics.”
In this guide, we’ll review Google’s page experience signals, including Core Web Vitals, ways you can measure page experience and specific resources you can leverage to improve your SEO and website experience.
Google’s Seven Signals for Page Experience
According to Google, page experience is a set of signals that measure how users perceive the experience of interacting with a web page beyond its pure informational value. The idea behind page experience is to make your website the best it can be for users.
To make that happen, Google has shared seven search signals that you can focus on:
- Mobile friendliness
- Safe browsing
- HTTPS/SSL, or encryption
- Intrusive interstitials
- Largest Contentful Paint (LCP)
- First Input Delay (FID)
- Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS)
While the first four items on the list have been around for years, the last three make up the new Core Web Vitals, which address loading speed, interactivity and visual stability.
Something to keep in mind though is that each of these signals should be part of your overall SEO and customer experience strategy. Google made it clear that these changes will join the hundreds of signals they take into consideration when delivering search results.
So now that you know what each of the search signals are, let’s explore how they impact SEO and customer experience.
1. Mobile-friendly web pages.
Since the arrival of smartphones, mobile search has grown significantly. And anticipating the impact of smartphones, Google prioritized mobile-friendly websites in its search rankings back in 2015.
What mobile-friendly, or mobile-first, means is that it must be easy for users to complete a task, such as finding your return policy, directly from their phones. To make your ecommerce website mobile-friendly, you should choose a theme that supports responsive design, in which each element on the page automatically adapts to a user’s screen — no matter what device they’re using.
2. Safe browsing.
One of the page experience signals that Google has relied on is safe browsing. This means your website doesn’t have any malicious or deceptive content. For example, malware or social engineering content.
This rankling factor boots websites that adopt HTTPS, which provides users with a more secure browsing experience. BigCommerce offers a free Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificate for ecommerce stores on any plan, allowing you to enable site-wide HTTPS. If you’re not using BigCommerce, you can reach out to your domain provider to purchase a SSL.
4. No intrusive interstitials.
While no intrusive interstitials may sound complicated, it simply means don’t add elements to your website that make it hard for users to access content. For example, don’t show a pop-up that covers the main content on the page right when someone navigates to it from the search results.
However, there are some types of interstitials Google says are okay, such as banners for cookie usage or a full-screen blocker for age verification.
5. Largest Contentful Paint (LCP).
Slow loading websites have been a major pain point for users for years. Inevitably, you’ve abandoned a website before, simply because the page didn’t load fast enough. However, there’s never been a really effective way for website owners to measure the extremely complex metrics that encompass page loading speed.
“From an ecommerce perspective, this really it’s pretty fundamental to how you drive traffic to your site,” explains Jeremy Adam, Director of Web Strategy at BigCommerce. “Page load speed is a key thing that I think a lot of people are not paying enough attention to right now because it can be easy to ignore. However, you have to keep in mind that there’s a lot of people that have different devices and different internet connections.”
By looking at the Largest Contentful Paint (LCP), you can determine how long it takes the largest image or text block on your website to render. And according to Google, a good user experience means that LCP should occur within 2.5 seconds of when the page first starts loading.
6. First Input Delay (FID).
Once the content loads on a page, the next indication of a good experience is when you can start interacting with that content. This is where First Input Delay (FID) comes in to quantify responsiveness.
Jose Flores III, SEO Growth Coach at BigCommerce, elaborates, “Once the page starts loading, how soon can the user begin interacting with the site? For example, in video game terms, when you have a controller with a laggy input, it’s really frustrating, right? You want the user to start exploring your content right away with no delays.”
FID measures the time between when someone first interacts with the page to when the browser processes that interaction. For this metric, Google states that pages should have an FID of less than 100 milliseconds.
7. Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS).
“Let’s say you’re browsing a news site, and then, all of a sudden, several ads pop up. That’s something Google is really targeting with CLS because of how much it negatively impacts page experience,” shares Kevin Jones, SEO Manager at BigCommerce.
Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) measures how often a web page moves when users are interacting with a site. Specifically, CLS accounts for the sum total of each unexpected layout shift, therefore emphasizing the importance of visual stability on the page. A good score for CLS, according to Google, is 0.1 or less.
“Specifically, the ways in which BigCommerce helps with Cumulative Layout Shift is that many of our themes use technologies like lazy loading with a low-res image preview that, for the most part, are designed to prioritize that initial view port,” states Flores.
One thing to keep in mind is that not all layout shifts are bad — only the unexpected ones. For instance, when someone starts typing in a search box or playing a video, they expect that some of the content on the page will change.
Now that we’ve reviewed each of the seven search signals and defined a good score for the Core Web Vitals, let’s dig into how you can measure them.
How to Measure Core Web Vitals
To help you better understand the areas that are most important, Google categorizes each Core Web Vital as poor (red), needs improvement (yellow) and good (green).
“These categories are a good indicator of how your web pages are performing. So for example, if you’re seeing several poor URLs, you’ll want to dig further into the issues to find out why the score is so low,” advises Jones.
Additionally, Google offers several solutions for measuring Core Web Vitals. For those with less technical experience, PageSpeed Insights provides a report on performance, as well as suggestions on how you can improve that page.
Another tool that should be part of your SEO arsenal is Google Search Console. In addition to providing data on search traffic, queries, clicks and referral sites, Google has now included a Core Web Vitals report. The report shows you URL performance grouped by status, metric type and URL group (groups of similar web pages).
For those with more technical experience, Google has several in-depth resources, including:
“In addition to utilizing Google’s tools, an agency can help merchants ensure their website meets the benchmarks for Google’s Core Web Vitals update by being transparent with the data they encounter, providing useful and relevant recommendations that will help their merchants’ websites improve, guiding merchants through the implementation process, and following up post-implementation to ensure everything is as buttoned up as possible,” adds Robyn Riley, Senior Technical Analyst at ROI Revolution.
For ecommerce businesses that sell internationally, you’ll also want to measure page load times for each region. As an example, let’s say you’re based in the United States, but you have a landing page targeting the United Kingdom.
You’ll want to understand page load time in the UK and ensure it’s as good as your US pages. This is especially important for regions like Australia where internet connection speeds can vary widely across the continent.
“Another tool for measuring regional load time is called Pingdom from SolarWinds,” explains Adam. “You can actually drop in a URL and select which server location to load it from. And it’s going to test it in those different regions.”
As for the timing of these changes, an update from Google in April of 2021 states that they will begin using page experience as part of their ranking systems beginning in mid-June 2021. But, page experience won’t play its full role until the end of August.
How to Prepare Your Online Store for the 2021 Core Web Vitals Update
For BigCommerce merchants, you already have a leg up when it comes to SEO optimization. Mobile-ready themes, Insights and Analytics tools, fields for page titles, meta descriptions and image alt texts, a content delivery network and Akamai Image Manager are all included. Plus, you can take advantage of them — even if you don’t have any coding experience.
Of course this doesn’t mean you don’t still need to be proactive about optimizing your site for page experience. In fact, it’s one of the things you have the most control over to make significant changes that will improve your rankings.
“We have made several platform updates on our side to maximize Core Web Vitals for merchants. Having said that, merchants also need to be aware and potentially do some things on their end,” states Cox. “For example, merchants have full control over their page content. They should be building page content in a way that maximizes the Core Vitals.”
However, making all these changes can be daunting for anyone, whether you’re running a small business or optimizing several ecommerce sites. To help, we’ve pulled together a list of resources for you.
1. Take advantage of BigCommerce University SEO coaching.
If you’re a BigCommerce merchant, you can take advantage of our SEO coaching and auditing services. Through virtual sessions, our coaches work with you to measure your traffic and SEO performance, and then provide recommendations on the specific improvements you can make.
“We’re here to educate you on how to be an expert,” adds Miller. “Our services are designed to be holistic and identify everything, from easy, quick updates merchants can make right away to opportunity gaps that merchants can address in their strategic business planning.”
With three different SEO packages available, merchants can choose the option that best fits their specific needs.
2. Explore BigCommerce Agency partners.
BigCommerce Agency partners are another great resource for merchants — or for anyone looking for additional SEO or developer support. Below is a short list; however, you can find even more Agency partners listed in our directory.
We even wrote a whole blog article with tips for choosing an SEO agency that can help ensure you’re picking the right partner to work with.
3. Look into getting new SEO tools.
In addition to Google Search Console and Google Analytics, you can also look into more robust tools that are specific for SEO. Here are some options that our team recommends:
- Semrush offers a wide-range of features that encompass everything you need to track and analyze SEO, as well as content marketing, advertising and competitor research.
- Moz dives deep into SEO with tools for keyword research, rank tracking and on-page optimization. Plus, they have tons of free content on their blog.
- Ahrefs is an all-in-one SEO toolset that will audit your website, help you understand keywords, identify broken links, track your rankings and more.
4. Keep digging into Google’s documentation.
If you’re working on a limited budget, don’t worry. Google has a wealth of free resources for you to learn more about how you can optimize your website for search:
- SEO Starter Guide: Get a complete overview of the basics of SEO according to Google’s best practices.
- Advanced SEO Guide: Learn about advanced topics for managing and maintaining a website.
- Google Search Channel: Watch videos that share information and tools that you can use to improve your site in Google Search.
- Core Web Vitals: Dig into Google’s documentation for even more information about each of the Core Web Vitals and how they affect your ecommerce site.
5. Check out more resources from BigCommerce.
Did you know that BigCommerce has a robust Knowledge Base with several guides dedicated to SEO best practices? If not, feel free to check them out here:
We also continuously blog and create content around all things ecommerce and SEO. In fact, we’ve been writing about it for years. Check out some of our top SEO-focused blog posts:
Additionally, our team created a series of shorter webinars that address a wide-range of ecommerce topics. We recommend watching The Cardinal Rules of SEO and 4 Ways of Getting Traffic.
Two Easy Ecommerce Optimizations for Core Web Vitals
There’s a lot to dig into about Core Web Vitals and overall SEO best practices. But the deadline to comply is approaching quickly, so if you want to get started now, we’ve identified two easy things you can do.
1. Optimize and compress your images.
Between hero images, product pictures, carousels and banners, ecommerce websites have a lot of images. And for many ecommerce sites, images are the largest element that has to load, which can negatively impact your LCP metric.
“You have to think about how images are going to impact the page load speed,” advises Adam. “Even with a content delivery network, it’s always best practice to compress your images before you add them to your store.”
In addition to compressing your images, consider removing some of them if they aren’t relevant to the content on the page. And always make sure your images are in the most updated, web-friendly format, such as JPEG 2000, JPEG XR or WebP.
Also, if you have a custom theme on BigCommerce, make sure you’re taking advantage of our content delivery network, in addition to optimizing your images.
2. Evaluate your third-party tools.
Third-party tools and plug-ins are one of the biggest culprits when it comes to making your pages load slowly. While many of these tools provide much-needed functionality, you may also have some that you’ve never used or have stopped using.
“Audit the third-party tools and apps you’ve installed,” Adam recommends. “Consider finding ways to either reduce some of the code they load on your site, or just be aware of how much they are using. And if there’s an app you’re not using, remove it.”
Some of the third-party code and tools that Google suggests looking into first include:
- Social sharing buttons
- Video player embeds
- Chat services
- Advertising iframes
- Analytics and metrics scripts
- A/B testing scripts for experiments
Google also advises not to use the same functionality from two different vendors. For instance, you probably don’t need two tag managers or two A/B testing tools.
We hope this guide gives you the headstart you need to better understand Google’s Core Web Vitals and all the other elements of page experience. At the end of the day, Google just wants what we all do — better website experiences for everyone. So as long as you continue to focus on creating quality content that adds value to your customers, you’ll be in good shape.
If you run a search for product marketing on Google N-Gram to scan its mentions in literature, you’ll quickly realize the term wasn’t in use until the 1920s. It goes without saying that, although no one talked about it, product marketing was around for as long as there were products to sell.
In fact, studies suggest that, back in ancient Rome, people were spreading awareness of goods by using trade cries, putting up shop signs, or paying for ads in magazines.
Product marketing officially became “a thing” much later, in the 1930s, when Neil McElroy (the guy who founded NASA and worked as the Secretary of Defense) hired two brand men for Procter & Gamble.
Together, they shifted the focus of the organization from product-making to customer interaction, setting the starting point for modern-day product marketing practices.
These days, product marketing is no longer optional – it’s a necessity for all managers who promote physical or digital products. In e-commerce, it helps discover and reach target demographics, track competitors, and provide customers with better experiences.
Seeing as business owners have no excuses for not jumping on the product marketing bandwagon ASAP, let’s break down its benefits, differences from other marketing approaches, and helpful strategies that will get your product to millions of potential customers.
What Is Product Marketing?
Unless you have worked in product marketing for years, there’s no shame in wondering “Why does it exist in the first place?”.
The thing about product marketing is that it’s a role at the intersection of three departments – product development, customer support, and sales. The common ground PMMs share with other teams is the product.
Let’s break down the way product marketers interact with other customer-centered departments:
Product marketing and customer success:
Customer success managers are helpful providers of user feedback for product marketers. Later, a PMM will use the insights gathered by customer success to improve positioning, define new customers or tweak the functionality of the product.
Here are the main interaction points between product marketers and customer success managers:
- Running user interviews.
- Communicating with prospective customers via social media and the website.
- Validating market fit.
- Letting users/customers know about changes and updates to your own product.
Product marketing and sales:
The sales team usually interacts with products a ton. They show them at demo calls and watch prospects’ reactions. They explain the idea behind the product via calls and email marketing and can tell whether the positioning gets through to a prospective user.
That’s why, for product marketers, keeping tabs on what the sales department is up to is extremely useful. Here’s how we use the insights salespeople feed us:
- Getting feedback on how intuitive the product is (salespeople get a lot of product training so their perspective is valuable).
- Finding out how well focus groups resonate with the positioning of the product.
- Getting feedback from prospects after product demo calls with the sales team.
Product marketing and product development:
Researching the target market and gathering user feedback is part of a product marketer’s job. However, how can PMMs make sure that their insights turn into changes, tweaks, and features? They do that by passing key ideas on to the product development team who use the data to improve the product.
These are the ways product marketers interact with product developers:
- Providing product developers with data that helps prioritize features and updates.
- Offering the product development team with cross-product collaboration ideas.
- Reporting feedback from the customer base.
- Creating a customer-centered product development roadmap.
Product Marketing vs Conventional Marketing
The key difference between product marketing and so-called “brand marketing” is that the first one is incomparably more dynamic. Unlike company values, products change and update. New features roll out while others become obsolete – on the other hand, brand elements often stay unchanged for years.
A Google Product Marketing Manager said this about working in product marketing:
“Product is very much like a building which is constantly under construction – it’s never quite finished, there are always improvements that could be made to it.”
Of course, the differences between product and brand marketing don’t end there. Here are the most important distinctions between the two fields:
Product: physical or virtual
Brand – a set of abstract concepts, values, and perceptions of the company.
Responsibilities of marketers
Preventing brand obsolescence by constantly running marketing campaigns, building PR partnerships, and spreading viral brand-related content.
There’s a risk that a competitor will copy a product. On top of that, fast technological transformation leads to products quickly becoming obsolete.
Good brands are timeless and unique.
Products get frequent updates
Brands have longer life cycles.
To summarize, marketers often say that “a product is what you need, a brand is what you want”. Without a reliable product, companies find a hard time making a presence on the market. However, a functional project is worth little if there’s no effort to build a brand with a long-lasting reputation that will stand the test of time when the product no longer does.
That’s why the most reasonable strategy is to invest in both product and brand marketing.
Product Marketing is Essential For Your Ecommerce Store
The hurdle that keeps most from online shopping is the inability to engage with products and make sure what you see online is what you get. That’s why ecommerce business owners, more than other business managers, could benefit a great deal from product marketing hacks and strategies.
Here is how online store managers benefit from implementing the best product marketing strategies.
1. Helping prospective customers engage with products.
Product marketing helps bridge the gap between a seller and a buyer who are often thousands of miles away from each other. By giving store visitors a chance to see the product from different angles, try it on, or customize it, product marketing managers help shoppers be confident in their purchases.
Example: to help ecommerce store visitors build a strong connection with its products, marketers at ASOS feature a detailed gallery for items as well as videos that show clothes “in action”.
2. Deeper understanding of the audience.
Product marketing is founded on market research. Before launching new releases, PMMs confirm that there’s a market where these could be distributed. Market research and competitor analysis give marketing teams a precise understanding of the target customers, their interests, goals, and pain points.
Example: a solid understanding of the target audience is a powerful weapon. Man Crates, for one, discovered an important insight about giving gifts to men: it’s ridiculously hard. Most guys don’t wish for anything and, if they do, they rarely share with families or significant others. The company transformed the insight into a compelling offer – letting men build their own versions of perfect gifts.
3. No competitor can surprise you.
When done right, product marketing gives ecommerce startup owners visibility into all aspects of their competitors’ operations. There are tools PMMs use to get the hang of everything – how many people there are on a competitor’s team, how many products they host, which ads they run, what communication style they prefer?
As for our team, these are the must-have competitor analysis instruments:
Example: keeping an eye on competitors is key to excellent product differentiation. Think about how Pavel Durov, the founder of Telegram would repeatedly call out questionable security practices of the platform’s main rival – WhatsApp. That helps differentiate the platform and establish it as a safe, responsible messenger.
Once you run a thorough competitor analysis using all the criteria, you’ll have a vast pool of data, helpful in both product development and customer relationships.
4 Steps to Successfully Market Your Product
Launching new products requires a ton of effort and time – however, at the end of the day, most releases fail. Statistically, only 5% of all rolled-out products stand the test of time. A lot of reasons are to blame – poor functionality, no demand for the idea, and others.
The lack of a thought-out product marketing strategy is another reason why product launches take a hit. In the age where even tech giants like Google or Amazon heavily invest in spreading awareness about their releases, small business owners need to work twice as hard to accomplish half as much.
Planning your product marketing roadmap is a good place to start. We broke the process of spreading product awareness and retaining customers into five steps – let’s go over them.
1. Define the product market.
There are different ways for product marketers to discover and connect with target audiences. Some of them are technologically sophisticated while others are straightforward:
- Watching shoppers “in action”. In an article, McKinsey points out that “what people do is drastically different from what they say they do”. Watching website visitors and shoppers “in the field” helps capture and simplify customer journeys, find out which objections prospects have, and discover what products have the highest cross-selling potential.
- Using business intelligence tools. Implementing advanced analytics exponentially improves the efficiency of product marketing.
- Social media listening. Modern-day shoppers (Millennials and Gen Z) are in constant pursuit of authentic product reviews so they go to places where everyone can share opinions freely – social media. Product managers need to listen carefully to social proof. It’s worth keeping in mind that most shoppers won’t use the brand’s official handle in reviews – that’s why marketers use elaborate technology to scour Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for product mentions.
2. Determine product positioning.
The starting point of product position is knowing exceptionally well how the product works. Until a product marketer is well-versed in the features of the product and the problems it helps solve, there’s no point in contemplating differentiation.
To learn more about the product you are making, ask yourself and the team the following questions:
- Describe the product briefly. What does it do?
- How much does the product cost to users? How much time does a user need to accomplish his goals?
- What are the benefits of using the product?
- Are competitors offering similar products? What are their drawbacks?
- What are the limitations of your product? How do you plan on dealing with them?
3. Create goals for the product.
To make the most of product marketing, business managers need a clear understanding of the end goal they want to reach by launching the product.
The former CEO of Twitter acknowledged the importance of setting clear product goals and pointed out the practice of establishing definite objectives is used at Google as well.
“The thing that I saw at Google that I definitely have applied at Twitter are OKRs – Objectives and Key Results. Those are a great way to help everyone in the company understand what’s important and how you’re going to measure what’s important. It’s essentially a great way to communicate strategy and how you’re going to measure strategy. And that’s how we try to use them.”
The standard examples of product goals are:
- Become a #1 seller in the store.
- Generate X$ in revenue.
- Increase traffic to the store by Y visitors.
- Be recognized by a set number of bloggers and opinion leaders.
4. Promote the product after its release.
Laying the groundwork is important for creating appealing products or marketing materials. However, PMMs have as much work after the release – most of it revolves around choosing the right promotion channels. A good starting point for product promotion is:
- Running targeted ad campaigns on social media.
- Publishing guest posts on credible platforms.
- Collaborating with opinion leaders.
Word of mouth advertising at conferences, webinars, and events.
After you tried different tactics, analyze gathered data to see what works and what doesn’t. By investing in channels that work and letting go of those that don’t, product marketers maximize the efficiency of marketing efforts.
7 Effective Product Marketing Strategies
When done right, product marketing can be a game-changer for companies. How can small business owners boost revenue and sales using product marketing? We drew up 7 effective product marketing strategies business owners can use to spread the word about their future releases.
1. Create Youtube videos with the product.
An image is worth a thousand words, and a video can speak for a million. If you are not sharing product-themed content already, you are missing out on a powerful customer acquisition tool.
Product videos come in different shapes and forms. Here are the most popular and conversion-generating types.
- Product unboxing and review.
- How-to-use tutorial.
- Videos featuring client testimonials.
- Product demo that shows a new release from all angles.
Example: SkullCandy helps first-time customers use the company’s headphones confidently by publishing online tutorials on Youtube.
2. Work with a brand ambassador or an influencer.
Influencer marketing is one of the most ROI-yielding product marketing strategies at the moment.
There are different ways to get endorsement – there are many more:
- Giving influencers free gifts in exchange for social media or blog product reviews.
- Guest posting on relevant blogs.
- Inviting opinion leaders to start blogging on the brand’s social media accounts for a set period of time.
- Encouraging influencers to share discount promo codes with their followers.
- Hiring influencers as brand ambassadors.
- Sharing press releases.
- Co-creating content.
3. Reuse customer-generated content.
Generally, prospective customers don’t trust brand-backed ads, videos, and pictures. They have their reasons – with a few hours of professional retouching, high-quality photos have nothing in common with the real thing.
To make sure expectations meet reality, a growing number of prospective shoppers look for reviews online. They make buying decisions based on photos and testimonials of other shoppers. These posts are generally called user-generated content.
Can brands take advantage of customer-generated content? Yes, and they should. Here are the ways to take control of product reviews and turn them in your favor:
- Post customers’ video testimonials on the brand’s social media.
- Create a hashtag that will aggregate all UCG about the product.
- Run contests that encourage shoppers to generate content.
Example: Natori, a lingerie store, uses the hashtag #Natori on Instagram to aggregate consumer-generated content.
4. Create a story about your product.
Scientists confirm that our brains love stories.
Product marketing strategies are not about new features, wide color ranges, or free shipping. Eventually, your competitors will offer these benefits as well – however, a compelling story sets products apart and is unique to the brand.
Here are the signature traits of meaningful brand stories:
- They are personal.
- They are simple.
- They are emotional.
- They are unique.
- They look at the future, not the past.
Example: Revelry, a wedding dress designer brand, tells compelling product stories from the point of view of the company’s CEO. This way, the story comes across as genuine and resonant.
5. Create gift guides.
How do you choose which present to give loved ones?
For ecommerce business owners, creating a gift guide is a good opportunity to present their products, sell bundles instead of single units, and create a viral piece that’ll be hot on social media.
How should you go about creating a gift guide? Give these hacks a try:
- Ask customers to share present ideas on social media.
- Partner with affiliate marketing companies to include the product in a gift guide.
- Reach out to suppliers for suggestions.
- Add bundles to gift guides – we all love giving and getting packaged presents.
- Create a last-minute gift guide and share it via email list.
- Make video gift guides.
Example: Larq, a self-cleaning water bottle bundles products in gift sets making a compelling offer to anyone who’s looking to give a loved one a thoughtful present.
6. Launch supporting giveaways and contests.
Giveaways and contests don’t generate immediate profit – however, in the long run, they help spike interest in the product.
How to make sure you make the most out of branded contests? Try launching different types of giveaways:
- User-generated content marketing contests.
- Follow-to-win giveaways that help increase subscriber count.
- Tag-a-friend contests spread the word about the product.
- Engagement contests (a person who reacted and commented to most branding posts wins).
7. Provide special offers and discounts.
One way to get people to buy something they had no interest in is by wrapping the offer in a good discount.
Although everyone has heard that coupons are a deceitful marketing tactic, we just can’t help it. Coupons are not the only way to incentivize customers – here are five types of discounts:
- Offer discounts for kits and bundles.
- Give volume discounts.
- Offer free product shipping.
- Sell 2-in-1 packages.
- Tie discounts to events or seasons.
Example: Bliss, a skincare product maker, encourages users to place orders by offering discounts and bundled offers.
There are several takeaways to point out about product marketing. One, it gets special treatment for a reason – spreading the word about products is drastically different from promoting the brand as a whole.
Two, for e-commerce stores, product marketing is a game-changer as it helps build trust and retain one-time customers. Three, business owners need a clear, step-by-step strategy before they start exploring product marketing tactics. Four, there is indeed no shortage of tactics and tricks for PMMs to explore. Take your time to test different approaches to product marketing – at the end of the day, you’ll find effective ways to engage with customers.
Just about everyone working in marketing today will have heard about native advertising – and many are already using it. In 2020, native advertising spend in the US alone was over $47 billion, accounting for 63.2% of all digital advertising.
Translation? Last year, six out of every 10 digital ads were native ads.
And, of course, that’s not the only thing of note to happen in 2020.
Faced with lockdowns and social distancing, 2020 was the year of ecommerce. According to a UN global consumer study, “the COVID-19 pandemic has forever changed online shopping behaviours.”
A boom in online shopping, together with a rapid move towards native advertising, signifies something big going on in the world of ecommerce marketing. For ecommerce sellers not yet using native advertising, now is the time to learn what is native advertising, how it works, and how it can be used to boost sales as part of a diverse digital marketing strategy.
What is Native Advertising?
Have you ever scrolled down a web page and clicked on a recommended article? If so, then you have interacted with a native ad.
Native advertising is a form of paid digital advertising in which ads take on the look and feel of editorial content on a web page. Unlike banner ads or popups that stand out and often disrupt the user experience, native ads are designed to be non-intrusive, seamlessly integrating with the content and design of the web page where they appear.
1. Why native ads are different – and often better.
Consider a regular display ad. Its aim is to promote a product, service or brand and it uses the traditional sales pitch to do so. “Special offer!”, “All your sporting needs here”, or even “25% off now!”.
Native ads operate in a subtler way. The primary purpose of a native ad is not to sell; it is to provide value to the audience, to help them solve their problems or improve their lives. Native ads entertain, educate, or inform – in other words, they engage potential customers with useful, relevant content.
There’s another important distinction of a native ad: Because native ads are not focused on the hard sales pitch, they usually only reference the brand or product in a tangential way.
For example, imagine a display ad about a new lawnmower. It features an image of the mower, the brand and model name, and the discounted price in a large prominent red font. This type of ad is a dime a dozen, and every internet user sees ads like these hundreds of times a day. So many times, in fact, that they become tired of them, leading to the dreaded marketer’s curse of “banner blindness” or “ad fatigue.”
Now, imagine a native ad by the same lawnmower brand. The ad headline reads:
5 simple tips for beautifully level lawn…
…set with an image of a person mowing in the sunshine.
Example of a native mobile ad. Image courtesy of Outbrain
When the user clicks on the native ad, they land on the lawnmower company’s blog, where they read an article featuring helpful tips on how to improve their lawn. The article might even mention the new lawnmower or a beneficial feature, but that’s not the central message.
The native ad and linked content are crafted from the perspective of the customer, focusing on their needs and interests, not those of the lawnmower company! And that makes all the difference.
How Does Native Advertising Work?
There are three key players in the “dance” of native advertising:
- Advertisers: Companies promoting their brand, products, services and offers. The advertiser buys space on websites where their native ads will appear.
- Publishers: Websites that host native ads. There are thousands of sites that feature native ads, from high-traffic news sites like CNN to niche bloggers.
- Consumers: People who browse websites and click on native ads that interest them.
And what brings these three players together? Native advertising platforms, such as Outbrain, Taboola, Revcontent and others. These platforms partner with publisher sites and provide the adtech needed to embed native ads on their web pages. Advertisers buy native ad space on publisher sites via the native platform, and they use the platform’s advanced targeting features to promote those ads to specific audiences and relevant customers.
Now let’s look at the native advertising process from the perspective of the online audience. Here’s what happens:
- A person browses online, checking out their favorite news and entertainment sites. As they scroll down and read an article, they encounter a native ad.
- The ad did not appear out of nowhere. It was targeted to the specific user based on their previous browsing activity.
- The native ad catches the user’s attention, as it offers useful and engaging information about a topic that interests them.
- The user clicks on the ad, and is taken to the host URL of the native content. In this case, let’s say it is the article mentioned earlier about “5 tips for beautifully level lawn”, hosted on the blog of a lawnmower company.
- The user reads through the article. A number of things can happen. Perhaps the reader becomes aware of the brand, and bookmarks the website for later. Maybe they enjoyed reading the blog so much, they subscribe to receive email updates. And in the best case scenario, they may even click through to a product page and buy a lawnmower.
Creating a successful native campaign involves much more than just designing ads. It can only happen when marketers have a deep understanding of the target audience’s interests and pain points, and when they use it to craft content that captures the attention of relevant, high-potential customers.
How Native Advertising Has Evolved
It may seem that native is a thoroughly modern and advanced mode of advertising, but in fact the principle behind it has been around for a long time. The very first native ad is believed to be from as far back as 1885, when Buffalo Bill’s vaudeville show featured Native American leader Sitting Bull in its advertising posters. From the wild American west to today’s global internet, the idea of capturing audience attention via relevant content is what native advertising is all about.
The contemporary concept of native advertising dates back to 2011, when the term was first coined at the Online Media, Marketing and Advertising Conference. In that same year, Facebook introduced “Sponsored Stories”, paid content sponsored by companies that appeared in users’ news feeds. In the decade since, native ads have taken the form of “Promoted Stories”, “Articles You Might Like” or “Recommended for You”, appearing in native “widgets” embedded on a web page.
Today, with the help of extremely advanced adtech and audience targeting methodologies, native ads can include videos, carousel-style ‘catalogs’ with multiple images, in-app mobile ads, and in-article ads positioned in between paragraphs of an article, so the user sees the ad as part of the reading experience.
How the native feed works on the open web. Image courtesy of Outbrain
1. Personalized feeds on the open web.
With the incredible proliferation of Facebook and other social media, consumers have become accustomed to scrolling through personal news feeds that feature selected content based on their previous activity and behavior on the network.
With native advertising, companies can get featured on similarly styled “content feeds” of their target audiences on the much larger scale of the open web. Moreover, depending on the native platform, advertisers can gain access to ad space on some of the world’s premium websites, such as the leading news and entertainment organizations, sports channels, and publishers in international markets too.
A critical point to remember about native advertising is that it mimics the social media experience of the “feed”, but this time on the open web – the parts of the internet that are open to the entire global public – rather than on the closed networks of specific social platforms.
Benefits of Native Advertising for Ecommerce
According to eMarketer, the global retail ecommerce market grew in 2020 to a value of $4.28 trillion! Even without knowing the exact figure, every ecommerce business owner can tell you from experience how tough and competitive today’s marketplace truly is, and how important it is for every advertising dollar to prove its ROI.
The most important job of an ecommerce marketer is keeping consumers engaged as they move along the digital journey from potential customer to retained customer. Here is a brief outline of that journey:
- Awareness: The consumer has not yet heard of the brand or product. With exposure during online browsing sessions, they become familiar with the brand and start building awareness.
- Consideration: The consumer has encountered the brand or product in some way online. Now they delve deeper, exploring relevant content, learning about it, and developing a connection with it.
- Preference: At this stage, the consumer demonstrates that they have developed a preference for the brand over other competitors. Perhaps they actively seek out the brand’s content online, or engage more deeply with it, visiting the website, clicking on ads, etc.
- Purchase: After strengthening their connection with the brand over time, the consumer decides to convert, turning them into a customer. Conversion may involve purchasing a product or service, or some other action, such as completing a lead form or requesting a sales call.
- Retention: After the customer has converted, the brand works to maintain a connection with them so they will continue to be an active customer; for example, by encouraging them to purchase again or engage with the company in other ways.
The beauty of native advertising for ecommerce is that it is incredibly flexible to fit in with all types of customers at every stage of the journey, whether through generating awareness, building trust, or convincing them to convert and purchase.
Let’s take a look at the ways that native advertising can boost ecommerce activity for a range of goals and KPIs:
1. Increased brand awareness.
Brand recognition does not happen in an instant. Native advertising is a relatively simple and cost effective way to increase brand exposure among high potential target audiences.
By purchasing native ad space on publisher sites where their target audiences visit often, or by retargeting past customers with native ads during their daily browsing, brands can significantly and effectively boost awareness when and where it matters most.
Trust is an incredibly important issue for contemporary consumers, particularly in the online space where traditional face-to-face relationships between sellers and buyers can’t exist. According to the Edelman Trust Barometer survey, 81% of consumers say they must be able to trust a brand they buy from.
With native advertising, ecommerce companies can choose which publisher sites their ads appear on, and gain access to some of the world’s leading websites, such as BBC, ESPN, Time and many more. By appearing on premium websites, ecommerce brands are assured a safe advertising environment and the credibility and trust that comes with high-quality ad placements.
3. Higher engagements.
Because native ads are “native” to the surrounding web page (or in other words, they fit seamlessly with the form and feel of the page), they don’t seem like ads. And that means that consumers interact with them differently than they would with regular ads, and mostly for the better.
According to a study that used eye-tracking technology to assess how people respond to native ads, 25% more people looked at in-feed native ads than display ads.
In addition, 32% of respondents said they would share a native ad with a family member or friend, compared with 19% for display ads. Bottom line: native ads get more engagement and deeper interaction than traditional ads.
4. Decreased time-to-purchase.
The best native advertising platforms offer extremely advanced targeting options. This means that advertisers can serve specific types of content to highly segmented audiences. When the right content is served to the right audience at the right time, it optimizes the customer journey and increases its efficacy.
For example, a popular targeting method is Lookalike Audiences. This feature analyzes an existing, high-converting audience, and builds new audience segments based on their characteristics, online interests and behavioral profiles.
Lookalike Audiences by their makeup are therefore more likely to convert than typical, generalized approaches to audience targeting, such as age range or gender. By focusing on relevant audiences, ecommerce brands can weed out low-potential customers and create faster conversions.
5. More sales.
Native advertising is the perfect storm: engaging content targeted to relevant audiences, promoted on premium websites that attract high quality traffic. Is it any wonder then that native ads are associated with 18% increased purchase intent and ecommerce marketers are increasingly leveraging native ads to increase sales?
How to Launch a Successful Native Advertising Campaign
A successful native advertising campaign is part science, and part art. It requires knowledge of the target audience, creative skills for crafting ads and content, and some adtech experience to help focus on targeting and KPIs. On the other hand, native advertising platforms today are highly user friendly, offering advanced tools for campaign design and management that are not difficult to learn. As with all digital marketing activities, success in native requires patience, experience and perseverance.
Here are the four basic steps to launching a native ad campaign toward success:
1. Choose the right native advertising platform.
There are several native advertising platforms to choose from and it’s important to make the right choice. There are several factors to consider. First, the different native platforms have partnerships with different publishers and websites, so it’s critical to choose a platform that works with publishers who get high traffic from your relevant target audiences. Some advertisers work with several native platforms at the same time to maximize their exposure and audience reach across more publisher sites.
Another factor to look out for is targeting features. Which platforms offer the best targeting options for your needs? Focus on things like Lookalike Audiences, attribute targeting, and interest targeting (targeting specific customers based on their interests and past online behavior). Also important is advanced features that can automate native advertising and optimize towards specific goals. Each native network has its own features and benefits, and there is no right or wrong choice.
2. Establish your native advertising goals.
As with any digital marketing activity, setting quantifiable and measurable goals is key. It is the only way to know whether a campaign is successful, and how to optimize it. There are several goals commonly used in native ad campaigns. Here’s a brief rundown:
- Brand awareness: This can be measured with website visits, time spent on web pages, and monitoring search trends for the company name, product name or relevant keywords.
- Audience engagement: This can be measured with CTR of native ads, blog visits, time spent on blogs, and more.
- Lead generation: A native ad can lead to a landing page that features a lead form. The number of leads generated from the landing page indicates the success of the native campaign.
- Customer acquisition: How many leads generated from native ad campaigns turn into new customers? Native ads can be very effective to kick off the nurturing flow for prospects and convert them to new customers down the road.
- Conversions: For many marketers, this is the holy grail of success in native advertising. How many conversions were generated from a native ad? A conversion could be downloading an ebook, purchasing a product, signing up for a newsletter, installing an app, or any other action.
Once the goal of the campaign is set, it is time to start creating the assets: the native ad and the linked content.
3. Develop the unique content.
Native advertising is a great way to promote all kinds of content for all kinds of customers. Examples of the types of content that work well with native include: blogs, ebooks, white papers, infographics, videos, podcasts, testimonials, reviews, stories, app downloads, product pages, and interactive content, such as quizzes and polls.
A new consumer in the awareness stage can get to know a brand better via a quirky testimonial video promoted natively. Or a customer who converted in the past can be retargeted with a native ad about a new product feature that might interest them. The ad can link to a blog about the new feature. There are so many types of content that can be used to engage customers with native – the only limit is the imagination.
4. Focus on reporting.
This is when the goals and KPIs you decided in step two come back into play. After launching a native campaign, it is vital to monitor and track the results so it can be optimized to achieve better results. Many native advertising platforms provide tools and features in the dashboard to assist in campaign optimization and support A/B testing of native ads.
For example, an advertiser can choose to run two versions of a native ad featuring different images or headlines. The ad that comes closer to reaching the KPI metric is clearly the better performer, and the campaign can be optimized in the future to feature the high performance version.
Remember, targeting on native ad platforms is based on algorithms that learn over time what ads work best for which customers and audiences. With smart optimization tactics, advertisers can leverage these algorithms to boost their native results.
Native Advertising – The Cure for Ecommerce Marketers
When native advertising hit the scene in 2011, there was no way of knowing that in the next decade, it would explode to overtake traditional display as one of the most popular and effective forms of paid advertising. Year on year, native advertising spend worldwide grows at a fast pace.
Particularly today, as social media networks struggle with issues surrounding free speech and data privacy, native advertising is proving to be a powerful and reliable alternative to get reach and exposure among the enormous global audience of the open web. For ecommerce marketers, whose number one goal is to maximize conversions in overcrowded marketplaces, the potential and need for native advertising is becoming clearer and more urgent every day.
As if the ecommerce industry wasn’t expanding fast enough, the pandemic added fuel to the fire. Now, more ecommerce stores are launching than ever before.
And while the competition is growing, you may be wondering: How can I grow my ecommerce business?
Hopefully, by the end of this article, you will have learned more than a handful of ways to growth hack your online store.
But let’s get things from the start.
What is Growth Hacking?
The origins of growth hacking can be traced back in 2010. It was when Sean Ellis coined the term “growth hacking”. So what exactly is growth hacking?
According to GrowthRocks, growth hacking is “data-driven marketing that uses rapid experimentation and low-budget tactics to determine the most effective ways to grow a business.”
Growth hacking was born out of necessity for startups and SaaS companies whose needs couldn’t be covered by traditional digital marketing. Building brand awareness and encouraging audience engagement are not enough for any startup to grow fast. On the contrary, A/B testing and establishing certain growth metrics were closer to what they needed. Growth hacking came to fill that void.
Likewise, growth hackers possess a unique skill set that combines engineering and marketing. Whereas traditional digital marketers focus on awareness and customer acquisition, growth hackers go beyond that. Growth hackers use a different framework, known as the AARRR Framework. According to this, marketing goes beyond acquisition and has 5 phases:
In short, growth hacking, when compared to digital marketing, is more technical, it has a certain process, and it requires a different skillset. And it includes more aspects like customer retention.
How Does Growth Hacking Look In Ecommerce?
As we mentioned earlier, growth hacking began developing with startups and SaaS companies in mind. Since then, growth hacking startup marketing agencies have started applying
But your average ecommerce store is not a startup nor a SaaS business. It’s actually closer to retail. So what does growth hacking have to do with ecommerce in the first place?
As a matter of fact, growth hacking has helped SaaS company names such as Dropbox, Airbnb, and Hubspot grow, and -at the same time- it’s done the same for ecommerce brands such as Dollar Shave Club, Casper, and Gymshark.
These ecommerce companies managed to achieve scalable growth by applying growth hacking strategies and tactics. Among these tactics you will find referral programs, email list building and ways to make the most out of your content marketing campaigns.
10 Growth Hacking Strategies Your Ecommerce Store Should Test Out
So, which exactly are these growth hacking strategies we’re talking about?
We present you the 12 best of them, divided into two categories: on-page and off-page strategies.
On-Page Ecommerce Growth Hacking Strategies
On-page strategies are the strategies that you can use on your ecommerce site. It’s the kind of strategies that begin and end on your digital property.
As you can imagine, the biggest advantage of these strategies from this category is that you are not depending on external sources to start using them. As a result, you can start experimenting with them immediately and see for yourself what’s working and what’s not.
1. Incite FOMO.
FOMO, or Fear Of Missing Out, is the emotional response that happens when we believe that something -somewhere- is happening and we aren’t being part of that.
The human condition is wired to FOMO because, first and foremost, we are social animals. We wouldn’t exist today as a species if we hadn’t endured the tests of nature. And endured we did thanks to our collaboration, and through forming communities, societies, cultures and civilizations. Therefore, our instincts dictate to stay with the pack and mimic as much as we can.
So, when we don’t, sometimes we get this feeling of FOMO. Apart from its social dimension, FOMO also happens when something is in scarcity, limited or it is downright a pretty good deal.
Here are some of the most common FOMO types you can start using immediately.
- Applying peer pressure: How does one apply peer pressure to the user in a digital environment? You show them what other users do, of course!There are apps and tools dedicated to this job. With these tools you will show your users live information about recent purchases and other interactions, through pop-ups.
- Limited time offers: Limited time offers include any offer that expires after a certain period. Sometimes, there’s also a countdown.
- Exclusive deals: This kind of deal means that a user needs to make a certain action to be able to reap the benefits from a deal.
- Free shipping with conditions: Free shipping is a big deal for every buyer online. Stores take advantage of that by forcing a minimum number of purchasing cost if the buyer wants free shipping for their items.
- Show scarcity/ the stock levels: Showing the stock levels means that on the product page you are going to be very explicit and precise about how many items there are left.
2. Decrease website loading time.
3 seconds; that’s how fast your website must load before your average visitor loses their patience and leaves. According to Google, more than half of visitors will leave if a page takes more than 3 seconds to load.
The higher the loading time, the higher the bounce rate (and the higher the number of sales you would have made but you didn’t).
Decreasing your site speed, is also one of the most straightforward ways to provide a stellar customer service experience. But the benefits of decreasing your website loading time don’t stop there.
Site speed first became a ranking factor in 2010, according to Google’s Search Central. If you are looking for ways to improve your domain authority, improving your speed should be on the top of your list.
So, how can you know if your ecommerce site is fast or slow?
With the help of Google’s PageSpeed Insights, you can find out your site’s current speed. After the tool analyzes your website, it will tell you how much time it needs to load. Not only that but it will make a number of suggestions so you can know exactly what to do to decrease the speed in every case. If you are not proficient enough, consider hiring a developer for this job.
3. Use testimonials and social proof.
Remember FOMO from growth hacking strategy #1?
The same reasons that make FOMO so strong apply here, too. And these reasons have everything to do with how other people influence us and our opinion. The truth is that we value the opinion of others, consciously or subconsciously.
When you want to choose where to go out for dinner, you check the ratings of your options on Yelp.
When you want to find out whether that new book is overhyped, you will try to find the truth in the customer reviews of Goodreads.
And every time you want to book an AirBnb, you will go through all the comments and opinions of those who’ve already spent a few nights there.
Social proof, in the forms of testimonials and product reviews matters. This is especially true for the digital industry, as the consumer can’t see, smell, hear or feel the real product. Online buyers rely on the opinion of others. So, on your part, the least you can do is help them make a good decision by providing the info they may be looking for. Transparency is, in the long run, always a winning strategy.
Now that you know the power of social proof, you should also know its common types:
- Expert social proof. Who doesn’t want to follow an expert’s advice? I mean, they are an expert.
- Celebrity social proof. Celebrity endorsement is as old as celebrities themselves. Any influencer marketing also counts as celebrity social proof.
- User social proof. Everyone has an opinion. The Average Joe may not be an expert nor a celebrity. But when many Average Joes make a verdict, they become the “common sense”. Their strength lies in numbers.
Last but not least, if you have any media mentions or have received any award or any kind of official recognition, don’t hesitate to even include these even for a moment on your online store’s homepage.
4. Rethink your copywriting.
Different pages have different copywriting requirements and needs.
Your site is going to have different pages such as a Homepage, an About page, a Service page, a Product page (or many, if you are an online store), etc.
However, no matter what page we’re talking about, there are some common rules that can mean the difference between good and bad copywriting.
And copywriting matters more than you may think. Here are a few tips to keep in mind the next time.
Less is more.
As with editing, you write with your erases. Copywriting is about selling and in sales your time is limited to convince. Your customer is not a student in a lecture that has to stay and listen to you going on and on for minutes and hours on end.
In fact, you got mere seconds to grab your audience’s attention – and a few seconds to lose it.
Consequently, you need to be short, precise, and to the point. Remember, a smaller copy is more: scannable, memorable, and actionable.
Don’t make it about you.
As much as you’d like to tell everyone about your company, your brand, and even about yourself, the hard truth is that nobody really cares. People are not really interested in who you are but what your product or service can do for them.
The same goes for your copywriting regarding your products. Indeed, product pages are technically about the product itself. It is the most appropriate place where you can give all the information your customer would like to read about the product. From how it looks to how much it costs.
However, there is always room to show exactly how your product or service can benefit the customer.
Avoid landing pages words.
You might be wondering what on earth “landing pages words” are. But you already know. You will also come across them on many home pages, too. Take a look at these words:
- Out of the box
Do they look familiar? They do, because you’ve stumbled upon them time and time again. These are words that marketers -and marketers only- like. Your average customer is not going to get impressed with your adept linguistic skills.
Which brings us to our next point.
Write in a conversational tone.
Remember when we said to avoid “landing pages words”? What if you ditched the business tone altogether? Same goes for your academic tone you may be using without even knowing. After all, all these years in school and academia do leave a mark in many of us.
So what if you were writing the way you speak? When you write the way you speak your copy flows. The reader goes from one sentence to another. And another. And another.
A conversational tone is also more familiar, less robotic, and more engaging. A casual tone builds rapport with your audience, makes you more approachable, and easier to understand.
5. A call-to-action is more than a button.
Everything we’ve talked about thus far is done for a reason. The reason being that you (should) want any website visitors to take an action.
If you are a dropshipping store, you want your visitor to buy something.If you are a blog, you want them to subscribe to your newsletter. And if you are a SaaS business, you want them to opt in for a free trial.
And the way to achieve that is through a call-to-Action (CTA). Not only that but every page usually serves a variant purposes and different needs; and thus needs a different CTA.
However, no matter what your CTA is going to be, all good CTAs share some common characteristics and a few of the practices behind them. So next time you add a call-to-action, keep these things in mind:
- Include power words. Words like ‘free’, ‘now’, and ‘fast’ trigger emotional response and can increase your click-through-rate.
- Don’t include many different CTAs. Focus on the one action you mostly want your visitors to make.
- A/B Test your CTA buttons. Test their color, style and text. And don’t forget to experiment with their placement altogether.
Off-Page Ecommerce Growth Hacking Strategies
The buyer’s journey doesn’t begin and end on your website. You need strategies that include other digital places, too. This is where off-page strategies come into play.
Off-page strategies are the kind of strategies you can use outside the digital property of your website.
1. Use a referral program.
Referral marketing is one of the first growth hacking strategies ever conceived.
Some of the most classic growth hacking examples and case studies feature referral marketing as their basic mechanism behind their success. From Hotmail to Dropbox and Evernote, referral marketing has been in many cases the fuel that skyrocketed the growth of many SaaS companies.
As any SaaS consultant will tell you, eCommerce stores are different from SaaS companies. However, that doesn’t mean that they can’t benefit from referral marketing and word of mouth.
You probably know Dollar Shave Club and Harry’s. Both ecommerce brands grew exponentially thanks to referral marketing. But referral programs go beyond razors and face creams. Even Tesla has its own referral program for its cars as well as its solar panels.
What makes referral programs so appealing for most types of online businesses is that they are not expensive to implement and they also have a standard process.
And that process is simple. According to Viral Loops, there are three ways to introduce a Referral Program to your ecommerce customers:
- Build a dedicated landing page.
- Setup email campaigns.
- Leverage Messenger as a marketing channel.
So, if you own an ecommerce business, you should seriously consider starting a referral marketing program, as it’s one of the most cost-effective strategies you can implement immediately.
2. Segment your email marketing.
Email segmentation is about dividing your email list based on set criteria. No matter which ecommerce email type you send, there are always more ways to make your messages tailor-made.
The biggest benefit that comes with email segmentation is focus. The more focused your messaging becomes, the more you increase conversion.
Say you are a man and you are subscribed to receive emails from an ecommerce store with clothes. Imagine that the emails, besides jeans, ties and sweaters, also included skirts, dresses, and corsets. How interested would you be in these kinds of emails?
Now, imagine that you receive a tailor-made email. What does this look like? For a start, you only get mens clothing and accessories. Then, since according to your shopping history you have a soft spot for shoes, shoes are what you mostly get. Not only that but they also suggest you a shoe polish cream and a polish brush which will certainly come in handy.
This is the power of email marketing segmentation.
In our case, segmentation was the result of the combination of two categories: gender and favorite product category.
Likewise, there are numerous other segmentation examples. Although there pretty much any kinds of segmentations you can think of, they all belong to four categories:
- Demographic segmentation: it’s about the who. Traits such as age, gender, ethnicity, and education level belong in this type.
- Geographic segmentation: it’s about the where. Simply put, it’s the physical location of your customers, as in their country or city.
- Psychographic segmentation: it’s about the why. This segmentation type is about the personality and interests of your audience. What are their goals? What are their values and beliefs?
- Behavioral segmentation: it’s about the how. Behavioral segmentation is the most demanding type of segmentation to assess because you need to find ways to get that data. Browsing and purchasing habits, shopping cart value, time spent on your site – these are some of the data you will have to find.
Segment your email list according to the needs of your store.
You can start with just a couple and build more segmentations from there. Do so and you will probably see your ecommerce marketing metrics converting rates increase fast.
3. Remarketing & retargeting ads.
Have you ever visited a website, saw an ad in the corner of your screen and said “Wait a minute, that’s the shirt I was looking at yesterday on a totally different site”? That’s a retargeting ad.
The power of retargeting ads lies in their familiarity. Retargeting ads are referring to a warm audience rather than a cold one. And the main difference between them is that it’s so much easier to turn someone from the former audience into a new customer.
So how does remarketing and retargeting ads work in practice? Here are a few examples:
- Show the products you know they are interested in. This is the most common retargeting practice. For example, if your ecommerce store is a bookshop, and the user browsed for Dune, The Art of XCOM2 and Street Fighter Swimsuit Special, then in your ad you will show them exactly those books.
- Offer a discount. Sweeten the deal with some good ol’ discount codes and coupons.
- Use urgency. Limited time offers and last minute deals work like a charm.
- Urge cart abandoners to complete their purchase. Shopping cart abandonment is an ecommerce reality. However, you shouldn’t necessarily compromise with said reality. Think about it: you’ve already spent so many resources to get them to that point. According to redstagfulfillment’s calculations, if your abandonment rate is around the average at 75%, cutting that by a third would double your completed sale percentage from 25% to 50%. That’s 2X the sales and 2X the revenue for your ecommerce business.
Therefore, urging them to get their hands back on their shopping carts and complete the checkout process is essential.
4. Contests & giveaways.
Contest and giveaways are probably one of the most cost-effective ways to raise awareness about your brand and your products. You give your customers the chance to win something they like with the click of a button while you build awareness and gain followers. Many ecommerce case studies feature contests and giveaways that have been part of their success.
Giveaways are an excellent way to grow your social media accounts and your email list alike. If you are looking to increase your Instagram followers, Facebook page likes or email subscribers, contests and giveaways work wonders. In the first case, you would ask your audience to “Follow us on Instagram to enter the contest”. Likewise, in the send case, you would ask them to “Enter your email address to win”.
There are a number of concepts you can base your giveaway on: new product launch/ pre-launch, photo contests, holiday/ seasonal Campaigns, and sponsored campaigns.
The best part is that contests and giveaways make a great combo with the previous strategy, referral programs. The way this works is that if a customer enters the contest, they have a certain chance to win. But here’s how it works better for both the contestant and you: you can give them the option to increase their chances of winning for every friend they refer.
5. Influencers can make strong allies.
Nowadays, users trust influencers almost as much as their friends. And, according to a Rakuten global survey, as many as 88% of consumers surveyed have been inspired to purchase based on what they saw from an influencer.
This is exactly the power of influencers in the ecommerce industry. Influencer marketing can be one of the most powerful weapons in your marketing arsenal that will grow your ecommerce business.
So how does one get started with influencer marketing?
- First, you need to make sure you’ve created at least one buyer persona – your brand’s typical customer. What’s their age, profession, and finances? What do they do in their spare time and what are their shopping habits? And, most importantly, what is their pain point and how can your product(s) help them with that?
- Second, you have to pick your social media platform. Now that you know what your buyer persona is, you will also know in which platform your persona spends most of their time. Undoubtedly, Instagram is the most effective influencer marketing channel. It’s the platform that gave birth to influencer marketing in the first place. YouTube, Facebook and TikTok are considered to be the next best options.
- Third, choose your influencers. Finding the right influencers for the job is not a trivial task. You will have to research everything from hashtags to blogs and magazines. And what else -your competitors.
- Fourth, outreach to the influencers you’ve chosen. Email is the best channel for this task, therefore it’s a good idea to know how to craft a good outreach email for influencers. Keep it short, straightforward and professional, and let them know what is in it for them from the start.
Upon agreeing with the influencer, it’s time to make some quality content with the right content marketing tools.
Do All Growth Hacking Strategies Work for All Ecommerce Businesses?
Now that you know the most used growth-hacking strategies, you might be wondering: are all strategies suitable for all ecommerce businesses?
Regarding on-page growth strategies, the answer is: yes! All of them are suitable for all types of ecommerce businesses.
However, this is not the case for the off-page strategies. Given the different nature of B2B ecommerce, referral programs, contest/ giveaways, and influencers don’t work that well.
Growth hacking may have started in the SaaS industry but it didn’t take long for other industries, like ecommerce, to copy many of its strategies and start using its growth hacking tools.
You shouldn’t also forget that one of the pillars of growth hacking is rapid experimentation.
Trying to figure out what works and what doesn’t is part of the growth hacking process; it’s more of a necessity than a nice-to-have. Thankfully, most of these ecommerce growth hacks don’t need a lot of time nor budget. You most likely won’t need a growth hacking agency to apply these – every marketer or owner can follow them relatively easily.
So go ahead and start experimenting!
So you want to make your ecommerce store the best it can be, minimize cart abandonment and deliver a great experience for your target audience?
Excellent, you’ve come to the right place.
As an ecommerce store owner, you already know that anyone can open a shop and sell to potential customers all over the world. You also know that it’s not as easy as it sounds — and there’s a lot to get right.
Common Ecommerce Mistakes
There’s a difference between having “an online store” and having “an online store that gives users an awesome experience.” Any business owner should be focused on the latter, and we’re going to help you achieve it.
First, let’s quickly consider why it’s important to avoid the mistakes. People are spoiled for choice of where to spend their money, and if retailers make it too complicated or frustrating to use their shop, customers simply go elsewhere. If they make a purchase, they’re unlikely to return if it was an unpleasant experience. Maybe they’ll even leave a poor review, persuading other potential customers to avoid your ecommerce store.
All of which highlights the importance of reducing friction in the shopping experience, from compelling product images to intuitive website design.
We’ve categorized the following 18 ecommerce mistakes into four sections:
- Not Understanding Your Product or Audience.
- Improper Tech Stack.
- Issues with the product pages.
- Failure to provide a great user experience.
Ready? Let’s jump in.
Ecommerce Mistake #1: Not Understanding Your Product or Audience
“If you build it, they will come” is bad advice for business owners.
It’s the exact opposite of best practice.
If you don’t understand your product or audience, you’re guessing that they want your product. If they don’t, they won’t buy it. And if they won’t buy it, you’ve lost time and money by creating an online store.
What you need to do is identify the need in the market. By learning what your audience wants and the frustrations they have with the existing options, you can offer things they truly want. Then, you’ll have lots of potential customers all rushing to your shopping cart.
1. Not doing market research.
As Ramit Sethi, best-selling personal finance author and creator of numerous business courses, says: visit the fishing holes.
Fishermen don’t cast a line in the first pool of water they find and just hope that fish will come to them. Instead, they do some research, go to where the fish already are and offer something they can’t refuse.
In a market research sense, these fishing holes are all around us: Google searches, Facebook groups, YouTube videos (and comments), reviews for your competitors, forums—the list is endless. Each of these fishing holes gives you a treasure trove of information, from product information to customer service expectations, and these holes are excellent places for you to test the waters of your ecommerce business.
Regularly spend some time listening to this feedback, and use it to target customers. Your conversion rates may never look the same again.
2. Failing to define your target audience.
Imagine trying to sell a staircase to someone who lives in a single-story home. It doesn’t matter how good your staircase is, how compelling the price is, or how eloquently you explain its benefits; that person will never buy it. Worse, they’re probably getting irritated hearing from you and may tell their friends and family to ignore you.
If this sounds far-fetched, consider this: “56% of consumers believe businesses need to have a deeper understanding of their needs … [and] 51% of consumers believe brands send too much irrelevant content.”
As a starting point, think about what problems you solve for your target customers. As you gather more information, you can create full buyer personas, which can even be used to reach more people who are likely to buy from you. That information would include:
- Demographic information (age, gender, marital status, income etc.).
- How they make purchasing decisions.
- Interests and hobbies.
- Preferred platforms.
If you need an example of how this looks in practice, Bliss is doing it right. With this messaging, it’s clear the company is appealing to health-conscious consumers who don’t want just any skin products; they want products that contain only healthy and natural ingredients.
3. Pricing products with no research.
When you’ve collected research on who your target audience is, what they want and how much of a problem you’re solving for them, you’ll also have an idea of how much your product is worth to them.
But one of the most common ecommerce mistakes is to avoid research on pricing. This is a big problem — what if your manufacturing costs are higher than the market is willing to pay? Conversely, what if your potential customers would actually pay a lot more than you think?
Many business owners will set their pricing based on how much competitors charge. There’s logic to this, but if your research shows people are unsatisfied with the available options, and you’re selling a needed solution, they may pay a premium. You can target customers who are willing to pay the extra for convenience, ethical or healthier ingredients, or an additional value of your products.
The messaging used on the Di Bruno Bros website screams premium, value and heritage.
Ecommerce Mistake #2: Improper Tech Stack
The low barrier to entry for starting an ecommerce store is a double-edged sword. On one side, you can start today with incredibly low costs — great! On the other, not all tech is equal. From user experience to security to customer retention, choosing the right platforms (or “tech stack”) for your online business is crucial.
And by choosing wisely from the start, you can save significant time and frustration later when other business owners have to migrate to different platforms.
1. Choosing the wrong ecommerce platform.
There are significant differences between ecommerce platforms. Some offer only the most basic features and not always with an option to upgrade.
Others may seem appealing at first but then surprise you with hidden costs, making it more expensive than choosing a platform with an upfront fee. Basic ecommerce platforms are less likely to have native customization options, either being reliant on third-party solutions or not having access to such features at all.
The right ecommerce platform will grow with your business, with features you’ll need as you scale or expand. For example, you may focus on B2C today but incorporate B2B in a few years.
If you’re just starting out, spend some time researching the best ecommerce platform first. Talk to other store owners, browse online communities for feedback, and then make a decision. If you’ve already opened an online store, and it’s not on a platform you can stay with as your business grows, you’ll need to consider migrating to a more appropriate one.
2. Not investing in security.
While every new business owner needs to watch their outgoings, especially early on, security should be seen as an investment rather than a cost. Fraudsters have an endless amount of ways to attack, including financial fraud, phishing scams and infected links.
It’s a matter of “when, not if” your online store gets targeted in some form, and not having the right security in place can be devastating.
There are a number of ways to boost the security of your ecommerce site. At a minimum you should have SSL certificates to protect payments, antivirus software to keep payment information safe, and switch to HTTPS to protect your users and their data. HTTPS appears as a padlock in your browser, as shown on Skullcandy’s website:
3. Creating your own ecommerce CMS.
Creating your own content management system (CMS) to your own requirements can seem appealing. In reality, you’re opening yourself up to eternal frustrations and problems, including:
- Difficulty in creating it.
- Lack of support or integration with other software.
- You may underestimate the amount of features you need.
- Security becomes a lot harder.
- You’ll need to provide training.
If you want to build your own CMS for your ecommerce platform, our advice is simple: don’t! If you already have, your next step will depend on how it’s working out for you and what the future looks like. If it’s causing issues with no end in sight, you may want to cut your losses and move to an existing CMS.
Ecommerce Mistake #3: Issues With Product Pages
Product pages are perhaps the most important aspect of your site. If the product page lacks information or fails to show the item in a clear, compelling way, your potential customers are far less likely to buy it. Here are four mistakes to avoid to ensure your pages are working their hardest for you.
1. Not using social proof.
Social proof tells potential customers that buyers like your products and they’re worth purchasing. In fact, 76% of consumers admit they’re less likely to purchase from a retailer that doesn’t have reviews..
Burrow uses social proof excellently—this item has 699 customer reviews and still has five stars, which tells any site visitor that this company is the real deal.
To collect more customer reviews, make it easy for your buyers. You can send an email in your automated sequence asking for a review, include a note with the item itself, or even send people to a thank-you page that asks for a review once they’ve completed the checkout process.
2. Product photos that don’t showcase the product.
Your photos are an opportunity to make your products seem desirable, even irresistible. The best item can be made to look unappealing with the wrong photography while professional imagery can make your products really shine.
Burrow’s product imagery is a masterclass, showing how the loveseat looks in a home, how it can fit more than one person, and the additional photos give a great understanding of how it looks. They even include the dimensions for potential customers to envision the seat in their house.
Skullcandy has also mastered the product image. The background matches the color of the headphones while remaining minimalist and clean, and the feature list is prominently displayed too.
Reverly takes a different approach by using relevant backgrounds to enhance the product, while maintaining a clean aesthetic.
There is more than one way to take a beautiful and compelling product image, but the golden rule is to clearly showcase the product and have a background that complements rather than detracts from the product.
3. Lack-luster product descriptions.
Product images can’t do all the work; they need to be paired with compelling, persuasive descriptions. What is so good about this product? How is it different to similar items from competitors? Why should someone buy it?
Let’s look at Burrow again. The product description is clear, concise, and broken into readable chunks that quickly explain the key features and who it’s for, with a clever use of icons to keep it visually appealing.
Solo Stove’s bold headline gives two key pieces of information: it’s smokeless and popular. The description then explains that the product overcomes a problem of fire — smoke and smell. We’re also told how it works, that it’s simple to use, and see expertly-placed social proof:
To perfect your own product descriptions, think about why your site visitors should buy the item and what benefit it provides. Then, share that information as clearly and succinctly as possible.
4. Poor mix of media, videos and imagery.
Your ecommerce website’s primary goal is to encourage potential customers to buy. This requires giving enough information to make the items appealing, without being overwhelming.
A common mistake is to throw everything and the kitchen sink on the site or product pages. A mix of media, including imagery and videos, can be very persuasive. But overdoing it can push people away.
If the site takes too long to load, is slow to navigate, or the visitor feels confused and overwhelmed, your site is working against you.
Every decision you make when building your ecommerce site should be focused on providing the best user experience. Which leads us nicely to mistake #4:
Ecommerce Mistake #4: Failing to Provide a Great User Experience
User experience is everything. Your website design impacts conversion rates as well as your search engine ranking, so it’s important that you get it right. Here, we’ll explore some of the most common mistakes online stores make, and how to make sure you avoid them.
1. There are no categories.
Your potential customers need to be able to find the products they want. Categories tell your visitors where to go. They can also encourage visitors to look at items they weren’t already looking for, helping to increase your sales and revenue. If they have to search or scroll through unrelated items, they’ll bounce from your site.
For an example of doing it right, see Natori. Clean and concise, users select the main menu item to then see a sub-menu to help them pinpoint exactly what they’re looking for.
The main Natori menu:
Selecting a menu item opens a sub-menu, complete with an image:
Each sub-menu has its own navigation and image related to the products. This is a nice touch to help visitors find what they’re looking for.
2. Providing little service info or business contact information.
Buying decisions are influenced by more than just the product. Consumers also want to know about shipping rates, how long delivery takes, what the return options are, and how to get in touch with questions or concerns. Not having these details causes friction for the potential customer.
Let’s take another look at Solo Stove. Within the product description is an explanation that they offer free shipping, free returns with a prepaid return label, a full refund within 30 days, the requirement for overseas customers, and a link to the lifetime warranty details. Phew! All that tells customers that Solo Stove cares about them, which makes the buying decision a lot easier.
3. Poor navigation.
As we’ve explained when talking about design and categories, good navigation is crucial. Your site has great products, contact information, details on shipping and returns — but can visitors find them?
For an example of great navigation, we go back to Solo Stove. Notice how the menu bar has everything visitors are likely to need: clear product categories, including corporate sales, as well as links to the contact page and shopping cart.
For potential customers needing more, the footer has links to the About Us page, FAQs, contact information and additional ways to connect.
Solo Stove has removed a lot of potential friction points and doubt about the legitimacy of the store with this clear and easy navigation.
4. No guest checkout.
How many times have you added items to a cart, then abandoned because you had to make an account? If the answer is more than “zero” you already know why not having a guest checkout option in your checkout process is a mistake.
There’s an obvious reason for why ecommerce stores do this — making an account increases the amount of customer information collected and the number of email subscribers — giving the business owners an opportunity to email customers with future offers.
But the average abandonment rate is staggeringly high, Baymard calculated the average cart abandonment rate (based on 44 reported statistics) to be almost 70%. It should be a priority to make the checkout process simple and smooth so that you keep your cart abandonment as low as possible.
If you’re absolutely going to force an account to purchase, at very minimum, make it easy for your customers — use social or Gmail one-click account creation.
5. Content that is like your competitors.
Here’s a simple fact: if you don’t give potential customers a reason to buy from you, they won’t. If you sound like your competitors, what would compel people to buy from you instead of them? It’s fine to gather inspiration from your competitors, but you also need to be able to differentiate and fill the gaps that your competition leaves in the market.
The good news is this is a really easy mistake to fix. With your market research in the fishing holes and a defined audience, you should have no problem creating content that’s fresh and unique to you — giving your target audience incentive to choose you over other ecommerce stores.
6. Not using analytics to improve marketing tactics.
Effective marketing blends creativity and data. Your ecommerce store’s marketing strategy should be influenced by customer behavior.
Consider this: emails that are personalized and sent based on consumer behavior generate 29% of all email purchases and have conversion rates 359% higher than non-personalized email campaigns — all while accounting for less than 2% of total email sends.
Using analytics to improve your marketing tactics can give your online store a huge boost over competitors. It’s also quite easy to do because most platforms will provide you with clear data on traffic sources, cart abandons, popular products and on-site behavior.
7. Lack of payment options.
Similar to the importance of a guest checkout option, a lack of payment options is an unnecessary barrier for your customers. We live in an era of instant actions, and anything that slows us down is an annoyance.
Not supporting the potential customer’s preferred payment option can drive them away — nobody is going to open a new account just to place an order with you.
Fortunately, this is an easy fix. If you’re using a commonplace CMS, the support for multiple payment options should already be included (and if you were still on the fence, add this to the list of reasons for not building your own CMS).
8. Lack of shipping options.
Put yourself in the customer’s shoes for a second. What do they want? Three things:
- Their item(s)
- To pay a fair price
- Reliable and fast shipping
Free shipping is no longer considered a perk, with 79% of consumers putting it as a top factor. And with only 15% of consumers feeling that their shipping expectations are met, this is a big opportunity for your ecommerce store to win new fans.
All of these mistakes have a central theme: put the customer first. Remove as many barriers as possible, from shipping and payment options to site navigation and security. Ensure that your ecommerce platform and your potential customers’ details are safe and your products are well researched to please your target audience.
If you’re ever in doubt about a decision, just think, “how will this make the customer feel?” By putting your customer first, you’re sure to create a shopping experience that keeps your customers coming back time and time again.
As customer expectations rise around the entire shopping experience, from discovery to delivery, the competition has also closed in, making it difficult for mid-market and enterprise organizations to get by with disparate legacy commerce and ERP systems.
Leading IT market research and advisory firm IDC has pinpointed ERP and digital commerce systems as two key integrations that will facilitate agility and maintain resilience. They also stress that platforms that are SaaS and with open APIs are the most successful in helping organizations ensure that their customer-facing applications are deeply integrated with systems of record.
When it comes to the specific technology solutions for achieving these goals, IDC has highlighted the partnership between BigCommerce’s digital commerce platform and Acumatica’s ERP software in its latest Technology Spotlight white paper.
The Problems with Legacy Commerce and ERP Systems
According to IDC, both B2C and B2B markets have shifted. B2C ecommerce has seen exponential growth over the past year, and more and more B2B buyers, particularly millennials, are showing they want to buy online. However, legacy systems and weak integrations have created challenges with operational efficiencies.
IDC also indicates that ERP and digital commerce systems have traditionally been relegated to opposite sides of the business and thought of only on an as-needed basis. This decentralized approach creates silos between teams, which ultimately leads to miscommunication, lags in order processing, and an overall bad customer experience.
From a technical perspective, IDC states that many providers are on-premise, and not truly “in the cloud.” They are also monolithic with complex functionality that causes headaches with testing and installing updates.
Successful Digital Businesses Select Tightly Integrated Systems
According to IDC, the most successful digital businesses have an overarching digital transformation strategy and select unified digital commerce and ERP systems.
To learn the specific characteristics IDC recommends B2B and B2C organizations look for when selecting and assembling their ERP and digital commerce systems, as well as how the partnership between BigCommerce and Acumatica meets these qualifications, download a complimentary copy of the IDC Technology Spotlight white paper.