June 26, 2016
Instant downloads, buy with 1-click, and overnight delivery. It’s tough to compete with all the bells and whistles of eCommerce giants like Amazon and Apple.
Yet small businesses clearly want a piece of the projected 481.94 billion industry by 2018. In fact, small businesses spend more than half of their advertising budgets online. This ranges from targeted Adwords campaigns to the “everyone’s doing it” mentality of some social media campaigns.
In such a crowded field, it’s certainly tough for small digital businesses to stand out – but not impossible. Online marketing is one piece of the puzzle, but not the only one. Here’re a few tricks to keeping shoppers engaged from the first click to the final checkout.
1. Spring Clean Your Site
We often think about spring cleaning our homes, but it’s also the perfect time to spring clean your eStore. Your eStore should be as flawless as it can be. You want your customers to be visually impressed, but not overwhelmed. You want to be streamlined and still have incredible service. It needs to load quickly and perfectly on any device, regardless of size.
Paul Graham, co-founder of Y Combinator, said: “Overall the web is pretty sloppy, but an online store can’t afford to be.” Kristen, from the eCommerce platform Selz, says “often, if you don’t know what changes to make to freshen up your eCommerce store, the answer can be found from your own metrics and goals. Find out what’s worked for your business over the last few months to a year and make strategic changes to freshen up your online space.”
Kristen also suggests replacing or rearranging product pictures, updating your About page, or change your product descriptions. It’s a mistake to create a web page and forget it. A successful eStore means testing, updating, changing, and trying new things.
Go over your eStore from top to bottom every quarter. Welcome comments from customers on how to improve the customer experience. Treat your eStore as your actual property, because it is.
2. Communicate More with Pictures
No matter how much of our lives we spend in front of a screen, the internet world is not real life. You can’t touch, taste or smell products. You can’t try something on to see how it fits. As internet sellers, it’s up to you to bring your products to life. And simple, boring or unimaginative pictures will never entice buyers the same way engaging or creative pictures will.
The power of an engaging picture cannot be overemphasized, as relevant pictures get 94% more views than content without pictures. You need to create pictures that help customers visualize themselves using your product.
Here’s a quick example:
What engages a customer more? A boring, white cup that could be found anywhere?
Or a relaxed hipster drinking fair-trade coffee? Think of this as the Instagram effect. The right pic can catapult your sales, and the wrong pic will just be forgotten.
3. Lure Back Window Shoppers
Some people just like filling up a shopping cart without having any intention of buying anything. However, 37% of carts are abandoned by people researching a purchase. That means you have the opportunity to lure these shoppers back and hopefully, make an offer they can’t refuse.
It’s not a time to give up on them but gently lead them back to your offer. Several eCommerce platforms offer an Abandoned Cart services, including automatically sending gentle reminders to customers. Or services, like CartStack, provide customer emails and A/B testing to help you gain these customers back. In the world of eCommerce, it’s a mistake to overlook the huge number of window shoppers who are already interested in your products.
Winning the eCommerce Game
You may feel like your small eStore can’t win against Amazon or Aliexpress. And in a head to head competition, you’ll probably lose. So don’t play the same game the internet giants play. You’re not in the same league, but that doesn’t’ mean you can’t be successful.
There are millions of small business owners who make a killing from their eStore. Alicia Shaffer, the savvy owner of ThreeBirdNest, makes $ 80,000 a month selling on Etsy selling handmade knitting items like scarves and headbands. While that’s an amazing success story, the point is that you don’t have to be a huge corporation to have a profitable online store.
Start thinking about your customer’s entire online experience with your business, and how they interact with your entire site. Because they want to spend money online, and you just have to make it easy for them to spend it with you.