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21 Ways to Generate E-commerce Sales

E-commerce SEO

You want to generate more sales for your Ecommerce business.

Of course you do.

If you don’t, you’ve come to the wrong place and we have to wonder why you’ve started an Ecommerce business if you don’t want to generate more sales.

Generating Ecommerce sales can be tricky.

Sure there’s loads more opportunity because you have access to an entire world of consumers on the world wide web.

But you’re also facing off against way more competition than you would be if you set up on the High Street.

We like to see businesses succeed.

It’s why we put so much effort into generating results for clients. You can find some of those results here.

But, we get that you might not be ready to talk to us or have the budget to put into a proper SEO campaign just yet for your Ecommerce business.

So we’ve got our team of Ecommerce SEO experts together to come up with a comprehensive list of things you can do for your Ecommerce website right now to start generating more sales.

Interested? Just keep reading.

 

Structure your website to help customers find what they’re looking for

Ecommerce websites can easily become a maze when you’re dealing with large numbers of pages.

Especially when your Ecommerce site has loads of different category and product pages along with everything else.

So it’s important you create a site structure that is easy to follow to make the lives of your customers easier, but also to make it easy for search engines to crawl your site and place you higher in search.

A solid site structure can have a number of other benefits to:

  • Increased site speed

  • More site links showing up and search to drive more traffic

  • More conversions because you’re driving more interested customers to your site

If you structure your E-commerce website properly, it should follow a similar theme to this:

Home >> Category >> Sub category >> Product

Your website’s menu should follow a similar structure and this will make it a lot easier to navigate your site.

As a general rule of thumb, you never want to move more than three steps away from your Homepage.

You should include breadcrumb links on each page to make it easy to navigate back to the previous level.

To show you what we mean, here’s an example of breadcrumb links from DHL.

Creating breadcrumb links on your site (top left) can help with usability and increase Ecommerce sales

See those links on the left that go:

DHL Global > Logistics Solutions > Green Logistics > Create Transparency

Those are breadcrumb links and clicking on one will take you back to that page. It just makes things easier when you’re going back and forth on a website.

It might also be worth considering having a separate menu layout for mobile.

If you have a lot of subcategories and products it could be hard to navigate on a smaller screen.

When it comes to urls, keep them short and snappy and use hyphens to separate words rather than spaces.

How you structure your url, including ensuring you have a https url helps with SEO performance and also gives confidence to consumers.

Here’s an example of a good url structure from our own website:

An example of a good URL structure to follow for your Ecommerce website

 

Figure out where your customers are, and go to them

Your customers have the entire internet to go looking for products and services they want.

It’s your job to figure out where they’re going and get your business and products in front of them.

Invest in research to see how your customers like to shop and what platforms they like to use.

It’s no good for instance ploughing a tonne of money into LinkedIn if all your customers are using Instagram.

 

Take advantage of holidays and peak periods

You might be selling things online that consumers can use or need all year round, but there will be certain times in the year when demand will be particularly high.

Plan your year ahead around these peak activity periods and make sure you’re promoting offers early.

Your customers might not have cash on the hip to spend in a sudden sale, but if you give them some run up to a particular time, you can see a big increase in sales.

 

Build long-term brand awareness

You can make quick sales in the short term using some tactics (which we’ll cover later) but you shouldn’t discount the sales benefits of building your longer term brand awareness, as it can pay off way more down the line.

To help you understand what we’re talking about we’ve borrowed this chart from The Long and Short of it (which is a great marketing book written by Les Binet and Peter Field back in 2013)

A chart created by Les Binet and Peter Field showing the impact of short term activation and long term brand building

What they show is that your short term sales campaigns will always rise and fall during the length of a campaign and you have to constantly run new campaigns to get the peak back up.

Investing in longer term brand building however, might take longer but can eventually bring sales above your short term sales activity and increase your company’s overall profitability.

 

Use Paid Media

Ok, so we’ve just gone over the virtue of long term brand awareness.

But Paid Media is a brilliant way of achieving those short term sales activations to generate sales quickly while you’re building that brand recognition.

Social media platforms have tonnes of data available that you can use to profile your customers and target them with relevant ads through paid advertising and sponsored links.

Consider using Google Shopping to get placed at the top of search.

An example of why brands should use Google Shopping to get their products to the top of search for Ecommerce

A word of warning before you dive head first into Paid Media.

It can quickly turn into an expensive failure if you go about it the wrong way, so start small.

Test the waters with a number of adverts across a number of channels until you have some research available to see what is working and what isn’t.

Once you’ve got this data, you can start to put more money behind the ads that channels that actually generate revenue rather than risking losing out on poor performing ads and channels.

 

Grow and nurture your funnel

Consumer purchases might happen quickly when someone is buying a pair of trainers.

But if your Ecommerce site is more B2B focused, you should put some time into content marketing on your website to grow your organic traffic and educate leads over a longer sales cycles.

Filling your site with educational blogs, videos, infographics and downloadable guides will keep your leads nurtured until they’re ready to make a purchase.

Find out how you can grow and nurture your funnel by increasing trust and conversions on your website in this blog.

 

Use email marketing and build your list

Email marketing is not dead.

The problem is that too many marketers are rubbish at creating email campaigns that actually generate revenue and so claim that email as a platform is dead.

Because that’s easier than saying they don’t know how to do it.

Despite all the naysaying about emails, they remain an extremely effective way of building trust with customers and generating sales.

One thing to consider first, is that if you’re going to ask people to give you their email address, make sure you’re giving them a very good reason to do so.

Pandora for instance give new email subscribers a 10% discount code to use on their next purchase as an incentive to hand over their email.

When it comes to crafting an Ecommerce email to actually drive sales, consider the following:

 

Your Subject line is everything: Most email campaigns that fail do so because consumers never bothered to open the emails in the first place. Because? The subject line was boring and didn’t make them click through.

Your subject line is like the headline of a news story or an advert and can kill your campaign quickly if you don’t get it right.

Here’s what David Ogilvy, renowned ad man says about the importance of headlines:

“On the average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy. When you have written your headline, you have spent eighty cents out of your dollar.”

 

Personalise your emails when you can: People love getting personalised messages.

So much so that research shows people who receive letters spend the most time looking at their name and address than they do at the actual contents of the letter.

Receiving a personalised email makes your customers feel special and is far more effective than receiving the usual impersonal “Hi” “Hi there” or, worse “Dear customer” email.

Also, make sure your customer emails are coming from an actual person. You’d be surprised how more effective an email from paul@… it than one that comes from noreply@.

 

Make an offer, and make it clear: Why are you sending this email, and why now? Make it clear from the beginning.

If you’re making an offer in your emails, make it early and make it often.

Leave your reader in no doubt what you’re expecting them to do as a result of getting this email and give them clear instructions of how to do it.

 

Test and improve

You have a tonne of data at your disposal that you can use to figure out how your marketing campaigns are performing.

Everything from clickthrough rates on paid ads, to open rates for emails to website impressions for blogs you can map your customers’ behaviour and preference down to the finest detail.

So why don’t you.

Too many campaigns go live and are only reviewed when they’ve finished.

You should be testing and improving everything, all the time to make sure your campaigns are as effective as possible.

Running ads? A/B test different styles and formats until you can clearly see which perform best and then put your money behind them.

Sending emails? Test subject lines, send times, formats.

Conversion rate is a key part of Ecommerce marketing so constantly test new techniques.

 

Improve web page load speed

Chances are your Ecommerce website has a load of interactive content from images to videos to guides.

While all this is good, it does have the potential to slow down your website.

Look at ways to improve the page load speed of your site.

This is not only important for SEO (slow websites are punished in search rankings) but you also remove the risk of customers getting bored and going somewhere else because your product page is slow.

A couple of quick things you can to do improve the page load speed of your Ecommerce site include:

  • Compressing image and video files
  • Minify CSS, Javascript and HTML
  • Don’t use a lot of page redirects
  • Use browser caching

Have a read of this blog we’ve done before on Google Speed reports for more information on this topic.

Value your current customers

Have you ever noticed that when businesses talk about customers they spend most of their time talking about getting new customers?

Marketers spend ages coming up with campaigns to bring more people into the sales funnel and sales people spend hours putting together new business proposals.

But what about the customers you’ve already got?

Do you think that because they’ve bought from you once they wouldn’t do it again.

Just the opposite.

You have a 65% chance of getting repeat business from a current customer compared to a 13% percent chance of converting a prospect into a new customer – according to Marketing Metrics

Not only that, but it’s way cheaper getting repeat business from existing customers than it is from new customers.

You can use some of the techniques that we’ve already talked about to generate new revenue from existing or previous customers.

Loyalty schemes and customer offers for example can drive more money to your business with less effort than it would take to convince someone else to buy from you for the first time.

 

Have a secure website – and display your credentials

Cyber security is a big issue today.

You’re asking customers to share sensitive information with you and they want to be reassured that you have the security in place to protect that information if they hand it over.

It goes without saying that you should have a secure website.

Have you ever noticed that little padlock symbol next to a url?

Not underestimate how reassuring that is to a customer and how easily they’ll run away if they suspect your site isn’t secure.

That’s why if you have a secure site, tell your customers.

Display your security credentials on the homepage.

 

Use videos

  • Videos appear in 14% of internet search results
  • 73% more customers who watch a product video will buy something
  • 46% of customers will leave your eCommerce website if there is no product videos
  • 71% of customer think videos are a better way to explain products
  • 57% of customers are less likely to be surprised by products they’ve bought online when they’ve seen a video of it
  • 58% of customers think companies with product videos on their website can be more trusted

All those stats (from HubSpot) make a pretty compelling argument why you should use videos to increase sales on your E-commerce website.

Simply put, videos are effective for giving customers a better understanding of the product, are more likely to lead to a sale, and customers expect to see them on websites.

So what kind of videos should you make?

  • Product videos
  • Demo and “how to” videos”
  • Product reviews
  • Videos of products being unboxed
  • Promo videos

 

Use customer testimonials and include images, names etc

Customer testimonials are more valuable to your Ecommerce sales than any blog, video or guide you could create.

The main reason is that people trust people.

You can tell everyone how good you are and lay out the benefits your product has for customers, but none of that will be as powerful as an honest review from a current customer who has used your services, and is willing to tell other people that they would recommend you.

Not convinced about the value of customer testimonials?

  • 92% of customers use online reviews before buying – according to Big Commerce.
  • 70% of customers trust reviews and recommendations from strangers – according to Nielsen
  • 88% of customers say reviews influence their online purchasing decisions – according to Vendasta
  • 88% of customers trust online reviews as much as those from friends and family – according to Big Commerce
  • 97% of B2B customers say testimonial and reviews are their most trusted type of content – according to Demand Gen Report

Put simply, customer reviews and testimonials are a must to help with generating more E-commerce sales for your business.

And don’t forget to include the details of the people who given you recommendations and case studies.

Yes, anonymous case studies do have value and you shouldn’t discount them.

But there is a huge amount of value to a full customer review and case study complete with name, job title and business of the person giving it, along with a headshot.

 

Use quality product images

Presenting your products well online can be the difference between making a sale and not.

One of the benefits that brick and mortar stores still hold over E-commerce is that in a physical store, customers can see your products up close, can touch them and use them to get a feel for how they work before they part with their money.

There is tech that is making this experience more possible online like virtual and augmented reality, but for the most part you’re relying on quality product images or videos.

Keep these things in mind for product images on your E-commerce website:

  • Plan what images you need and understand the impact of file sizes (too many images with large file sizes on your website can slow down your page load speed and impact their performance of your site)
  • Use professional lighting to properly show off your products. Even the best looking product can be made to look worse by being shot in bad lighting
  • With imagery and video the key to success is in the editing process. There’s nothing wrong with using some post-production editing to make your products look even better and stand out more in images.
  • Optimise your images for SEO by adding details like image alt text and captions if necessary

 

Optimise for mobile

58% of shoppers in the UK now use their smartphone to buy things online, according to USwitch.

In 2018, shopping via a smartphone overtook visiting physical shopping centres for the first time.

If your consumers are willing to spend money with you using their phones, you need to give them the best experience, and this means optimising your E-commerce website for mobile.

This includes, having an eye-catching mobile design, having a user friendly mobile navigation, optimising images and videos for mobile and removing pop ups that can take up an entire mobile screen.

 

Use discounts (sparingly)

Using discounts on your E-commerce website can be an effective way to increase sales in the short-term, especially if you time them around particular times of year like seasonal sales and holidays.

If you’re selling software simple things like free trials can be a good way to get new customers without forcing them into a commitment so you can demonstrate the benefits of your products.

These discounts can be particularly effective as part of a short-term PPC and paid campaign.

But, don’t become too reliant on discounts.

A survey of retailers by Klarna found that 53% of retailers believed that falling into the trap of “always on” discounts was damaging to them and their industry in the long-term.

The same survey also found that while 57% of shoppers now expect regular sales online, 38% thought that retailers that used sales too often came across as cheap and unfashionable.

 

Highlight top selling products and display them prominently

If you’re running your E-commerce website properly, then you’ll have real time data on your best selling products and will be able to get this information broken down by certain periods.

You should constantly review your best selling products to identify trends and be sure to promote your best selling products prominently on your E-commerce website.

There is a psychology behind this method of selling online, known as social proof.

This is a phenomenon where people copy the actions of other people because they want to reflect what is considered correct behaviour.

How often have you gone to the best selling section of a book shop to look for something new to read?

If the books are best selling then a lot of people must be reading them, which means people will be talking about them. If you haven’t read the book, then you can’t talk about it, and might miss out on joining in conversations.

So you buy the book.

The same goes for everything else you sell online.

If you display best selling clothes for instance. Other people will buy those best selling items because it is assumed that those items are now in fashion and people don’t want to look like they’re not keeping up.

So use your E-commerce trend data to figure out what is selling, and place it at the centre of your E-commerce website to drive more sales.

 

Make purchase, checkout and payment as easy as possible

Did you know that more than half (67%) of online checkouts are abandoned, according to a survey of 1,200 customers by Cox Blue.

And the majority of those abandonments are down to bad practice by E-commerce retailers.

For instance, 10% of customers say they have abandoned a checkout process because it was taking too long.

29% left because they were forced to register with the company before buying something. 41% discovered hidden charges at checkout, 11% found unclear delivery details.

Also, the study found that 50% of E-commerce websites regularly ask for the same information twice.

If you want to increase sales on your E-commerce website, an easy thing you can do is make the purchase, checkout and payment process as easy as possible.

Try to limit the number of steps to no more than three steps from the point an item is added to a basket, to the point the customer pays.

Don’t force people to register for an account with you. Make it possible to continue as a guest.

By all means recommend other products based on what other people bought.

But don’t carry this process on more than one step.

Finally, make sure you’re accepting all the payment options your customers might want to use.

 

Direct response marketing

Direct response marketing is arguably the most effective short-term marketing tactic for E-commerce because its whole purpose is to drive customer action immediately.

Whether it’s buying your product, reading your blog or signing up to a newsletter, you can use direct response marketing to get targeted messages in front of specific customers to drive actions.

Back in the day, direct marketing used to be direct mailers (which, by the way are still effective for Ecommerce sales).

But today, direct marketing can use any number of tactics whether it’s email marketing, paid social and advertising.

Direct response marketing campaigns are also useful for testing and perfecting your messaging.

They are easily trackable and measurable and can provide you with instant feedback on what is working and what isn’t for your Ecommerce marketing.

 

Social media

Social commerce is still arguably in the minority when it comes to Ecommerce selling, but those consumers willing to buy something directly from a social media platform can’t be ignored.

You have to be selective with the social channels you use and research which ones your customers are using.

Research by Marketing Week revealed the following about which platforms are proving most popular on the whole right now:

  • 19% of consumers would buy something directly off Facebook
  • 10% would buy off Twitter
  • Consumers would also like to have the option to buy directly from Instagram (9%), Pinterest (7%) and Snapchat (5%)

 

Focus on customer value – not yourself

Finally, remember Ecommerce websites are designed to make it easy for customers to find what they want and to make a purchase as easily as possible.

It’s not a platform to tell your customers how great you are.

Focus on creating value for your customers and create the kind of experience that not only makes them buy something from you once, but that keeps them coming back.

 

And there you have it.

That’s a lot to get through but these are all tried and tested methods for increasing Ecommerce sales that we’ve used for clients.

If you want even more advice on increasing the performance of your Ecommerce website have a read of this blog which advises on some key tools you can use to boost online sales.

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