Before we dive into strategy, lets start with some assumptions about your ecommerce site:
- You have a legit business
- You've done your product research
- You understand your customers
- And you have a compelling reason for customers to buy from you over your competitors.
By all counts, your ecommerce site should be thriving.
But it's not. And you want to know why.
You're not alone. Many otherwise successful ecommerce sites find themselves in the same situation. Of the thirteen issues noted below, any one of them can kill your business. Or at the very least, is a significant contributor in hindering your business growth.
Luckily, all is not lost. This post will help you identify and correct business-killing issues that you may not have even known you had.
1. Lack of keyword optimization
Basic, yes. But if your site isn't optimized for what people are searching for, you're going to have a hard time getting found. Sure, you can advertise, but non-optimized sites still have a hard time performing. Not optimizing your content for search can impact your SEO performance of course, but it can also have a negative impact on your PPC performance.
Search Engine Optimization is more than just getting search engine rankings. SEO is about providing content that your audience is looking for and then compelling them to click into your site. We accomplish that by making sure your ecommerce website answers questions and gives detail that your competition doesn't.
2. Not understanding searcher intent
Understanding what the searcher really wants is critical to delivering a quality on-site experience. If you don't understand the intent of a search query, you'll optimize the wrong pages for what you think are relevant keywords, but ultimately don't provide the visitor what they need.
Matching both keyword and URLs to the searcher's intent, and making sure they land on the page that is the best representation of that intent, ensures customers find what they seek immediately rather than hunting around--which they often won't do.
3. Lack of website architecture optimization
Aside from content and keyword optimization, you also need to optimize your site structure and code. This can have a profound impact on the findability and usability of your website. Optimized content won't get the traction it needs if junk code is holding it back. Optimizing the architecture of your ecommerce site includes everything from URL structure (you must have human friendly URLs) to category and product organization. All of these factors impact how easily people can find the right products within your website as well as demonstrating to the search engines which products and categories are most important to you.
4. Poor navigation and product findability
There are two main ways people get around on your site: Navigation and on-site search. Both of these need to be in tip-top shape if you want to meet your visitor's needs and generate revenue.
On the navigation front, keep your main navigation options streamlined and consistent. Show what you offer, and don't load the visitor down with too many options. Definitely don't create a navigation structure that changes every time some clicks a link. Imagine if your gas and brakes constantly moved as you drove down the road.
From an internal product search perspective, make sure that every search produces a quality result. If your search fails to provide links to the most related products, there will be an assumption that you simply don't have what the shopper wants.
5. 'Meh' Content
Content is huge business these days, but good content is hard to come by. It's easy to pay a few pennies per word and crank out a bunch of "seo content". Unfortunately, most of that content is of little to no value. And I'm not just talking about blog content. Every paragraph of your site should be scrutinized for value. If it's not delivering, delete it.
6. Low-quality images
It's said that the eyes are the gateway to the soul. I think they're also the gateway to the wallet. When you're trying to sell a product, the visuals matter. You may sell the exact same product as the next guy, but the one with the better-looking images will almost always win.
Remember, when shopping online, your images are the closest customers will get to the product until it arrives. High-quality images are the next best thing to holding the product in their hand.
7. Slow site speed
A slow website can be the death knell for any ecommerce website. I'm sure you've experienced getting stuck behind slow-moving shoppers and clerks in a checkout lane at your local store. After no more than a few minutes of that, you're ready to bail, drive ten miles out of your way, and patronize a store where you can get in and out more quickly.
Online shopping should go at lightning speed. If anything is slow, it should be the shopper, never the website.
8. Lack of customer support
There are definitely some downsides of in-store shopping (getting dressed and leaving the house both come to mind), but there is one thing that they have that online stores do not: Immediate access to customer service. Okay, so maybe you have to hunt someone down from time to time, but you know that you'll eventually get the help you want.
Online, customer support is almost entirely handled through content. Which means you need to cover your bases. Contact information, shipping details, product returns, warranties, etc., should be super easy to find so no one has to hunt for help on your site.
9. No, or too many, calls-to-action
Most e-commerce sites suffer from not providing calls-to-action that lead shoppers through the buying cycle. Or they have too many calls-to-action on the product page. Either one of these can be catastrophic.
On non-product pages, without a call-to-action, there's nothing to propel the customer to the next phase of making a purchase. Without that, they just wander around and are far more likely to leave without making a purchase.
On product pages, you don't want multiple calls-to-action competing against each other. You should have one primary call-to-action to purchase the product. Any secondary calls-to-action ("add to wish list," "save for later," etc.") should be less obvious visually.
10. Poor mobile & checkout experience
Site usability matters both before and after visitors start checking out. I've addressed several of these already (site speed, search, navigation, calls to action, etc.) so I want to address two others here: mobile and site checkout.
It's time to start looking at usability on your mobile device first. No longer should it be secondary to desktop usability.
And be sure to look at your checkout experience with a fine-tooth comb. Look for any hurdles, roadblocks, or other annoyances. Essentially, you want to try to break it so you know where to fix it.
11. Lack of trust
When it comes to making purchases online, trust is paramount. If you can't be trusted... well, would you do business with someone you don't trust?
There are a lot of ways you can instill trust with your customers. Start by highlighting your connections with other trusted organizations such as the BBB, chambers of commerce, and industry organizations. Then make sure that your site is secure. Lastly, be clear about your shipping and return policies. Make sure customers know exactly what to expect once they give you their money.
12. No brand building or engagement
Another way to build trust is through brand building and social engagement. More and more customers are connecting with brands they identify with. And the brands that build the highest loyalty are those that are actively engaging with their audience through social media and other channels. Don't just use social media to broadcast content, use it to connect with your audience.
13. Your competition is doing it better
And finally, if you find that you just can't get ahead with your e-commerce site, it may be because your competitors are already ahead. It's not enough to do everything mentioned above well. The absolute lowest bar is to be just as good as your competition. But even that isn't a recipe for success. To be successful, you have to be better. You have to take the lead.
If your e-commerce site is floundering, ask yourself if it suffers from any of the issues listed above. Some simple fixes could mean the difference between barely surviving and really thriving online. Feel like you need an extra hand, contact us and we can help you get started.