3 reasons your product pages are underperforming

According to Baymard, 69.57% of online shoppers abandon their cart. That means that for every three people that add an item to their cart, two of those people end up not purchasing. As a store owner, this can be extremely frustrating. You’re running a business, so you want to see sales — not abandoned carts. On the other side of the coin, however, I can assure you that your customer was frustrated, and this is exactly why they abandoned their cart. While there are a million reasons why a customer would abandon their cart, there are a few common threads and factors for mounting frustration. The good news? They’re all easily measured with data and improvable with some common sense. [subscribe heading="Try Littledata free for 14 days" background_color="grey" button_text="start my free trial"] 1. Your mobile site experience sucks As an agency owner, I see a lot of websites. Yet it still surprises me how many ecommerce brands suffer from this issue. Over 50% of all traffic to ecommerce sites is coming from a mobile device, yet many brands are perfectly fine with letting their customers suffer through an almost unusable mobile experience. This is an extremely common cause of cart abandonment. If you’re curious, you can look within Google Analytics to see how many people abandon carts on different devices. While most websites are ‘responsive’ these days, that does not mean they’re usable or easily navigable. Have your parents, your siblings, or your significant other run through your online experience and try to purchase a product, and you’ll see the shortcomings in your mobile experience. Responsive design hardly considers the goals of an ecommerce website. When a store design is not user friendly, this leads to higher abandoned cart rates. 2. Your product pages don’t provide enough information The next commonality with cart abandonment is all too simple, but it’s one of the leading causes. It boils down to the customer having a question about the product: How big is it? What is it made out of? How much does shipping cost? How long until I can get it? What’s your return policy? Is it waterproof? Your product page needs to answer every question a shopper could ever have about your product. There are so many advantages to ecommerce, but the main disadvantage is that the customers are not holding that product in their hand. So, they can’t answer a lot of those questions on their own. You need to be their five senses in describing that product and your policies so that the customer can make a completely informed purchase decision. If I have more questions than answers, I’m not buying. (Not sure how to fix your product pages? You can get my 8-point guide on product page improvements by joining our mailing list here.) Some of the questions your customers have might not be obvious. Being so close to the product and the brand often puts blinders on business owners. An easy way to solve that is by asking your customers! You can use apps like Hotjar to ask your customers questions on why they’re leaving a product page. 3. Your apps, files or images are slowing down your page load speed The last issue to tackle: your page load speed. This is something that is often overlooked by people new to online businesses. If your website takes too long to load, I’m out of there. There are quite a few reasons why this would happen, but the main reasons are typically 1) too many apps and 2) content not sized properly for web. Apps are amazing, and I frequently recommend them to our clients to solve requests. What's not amazing about apps is their tendency to add bloat to your website. That’s why I highly recommend never installing an app unless you absolutely need it. The more apps you have installed, the more data that is being loaded on every page, and the slower your website will be. Uninstalling apps does not necessarily mean that the underlying code is deleted either. Take this as a warning. Additionally, oversized video and photos kill load times. I know that lifestyle photography you shot for your new collection is beautiful, but a five megabyte photo on my mountain 3G connection takes entirely too long to load, and I’m now browsing Twitter because I got fed up with your store. People are impatient. They do not want to wait, they want things instantaneously. You can view and track your site speed in Google Analytics to get some ideas on where you can improve those metrics. Ecommerce reporting and data tracking is key. Fix customer frustrations, fix your cart abandonment problem Customer frustration is the root of most abandoned carts. Your customers want a quick, mobile-friendly, simple experience — so create one! This is a guest post by Chase Clymer, Co-Founder at Electric Eye and Host of Honest Ecommerce. Chase is an ecommerce expert making brands more money every day. He's also a fan of islands, tacos, and Magic: The Gathering.

2019-07-11

8 ways to minimise cart abandonment

It might be a familiar sinking feeling - why do users keep deciding at the last minute not to buy an item? There are a whole range of reasons that online shopper abandon their shopping carts. You might not be able to do anything about the majority of these reasons, but if you are seeing a high cart abandonment rate then it is definitely something you can actively work on minimising. In this post I dive into shopping cart abandonment: what it is, why it matters, and how to minimise it using proven practices from successful ecommerce sites. What is the average rate of cart abandonment? The Baymard Institute has compared reported cart abandonment from 41 studies, to conclude that the average rate stands at 69.57% in 2019. However, reports varied wildly over the years. In 2010, Forrester Research calculated that cart abandonment stood at just 55%. At the high end of the scale, AbandonAid stated in 2017 that cart abandonment occurs 81.4% of the time. Is your average checkout completion rate below the industry average? How to calculate cart abandonment rate Fortunately, there is no need to consult a mathematician when it comes to calculating your cart abandonment rate. To find the percentage of users who have not completed a purchase after adding an item to their cart, you must divide the number of complete purchases by the number of carts created: 1 - (Complete purchases/Carts created) x100 After doing this division, subtract the result from 1 and multiply by 100 to get your percentage. Fortunately, there’s no need to get the calculator out. You can easily monitor ecommere analytics with Littledata’s Shopify app. Connect this to Google Analytics to make the most out of tracking user movements - in this instance, when they removing products from the cart. Why might a cart get abandoned? There is no simple answer to this question. The truth is, carts get abandoned for a variety of reasons, although the recurring theme is that a lower abandonment rate means a more intuitive and trustworthy store. A high proportion of people browsing your store might be doing so in the hope of coming across a hidden discount, to compare prices or to check your stock against competitors. Some might even be compiling a wishlist for the future, with almost no intention of purchasing your product now. In short, there isn’t a lot you can do about this type of shopper. Focus, then, has to turn to the shoppers who would have made a purchase, was it not for an element of your site or checkout process that led to them scurrying away. As part of the Baymard Institute’s research into cart abandonment, it conducted a survey of over 2,500 US adults asking why they abandoned their purchase after passing the stage of adding an item to their cart. Many of the factors above can be countered by making tweaks to the checkout process. Take the second largest influence - “the site wanted me to create an account”. By offering a guest checkout option where an account is not necessary, this 34% of respondents will be one step closer to purchasing the product in their cart, and avoiding the dreaded stage of checkout abandonment. What goes into a better checkout process? It’s fine to say that the checkout needs to be streamlined in order to reduce cart abandonment, but what does this actually mean? What are the characteristics of a site that experiences relatively low checkout abandonment? This is specifically about what happens after a user has added a product to their cart - optimising add-to-cart rate itself is a different stage in the purchase funnel that we have talked about before here at Littledata. The first thing to take a look at is the intuitiveness of your buying process. After adding a product to cart, ensure that the following trail resembles a standard ecommerce store. This might mean identifying a clear “checkout button”, followed by payment options and providing delivery address, then reviewing the order before submitting. Any significant change to the standard process could throw a user off balance. Making your store as trustworthy as possible is another key step to reducing cart abandonment. Check that the secure payment icons are visible when checking out, and a money-back guarantee will always send a customer’s confidence skyrocketing. Offering incentives to complete a purchase also does the trick. As mentioned, shoppers may be on your site as part of a price comparison tour, so making a 10% discount visible from the outset will make your site a winner in the eyes of many a potential customer. In a similar vein, you should make sure that product and delivery details are easy to locate and understand. Adweek shows that 81% of shoppers conduct detailed research before buying a product, so make this task easier for them. Please don’t include any last-minute delivery charge shocks. Another thing to consider is the mobile-friendliness of your checkout process. The statistic that half of all ecommerce revenue will be mobile-based by 2020 is banded around a lot, but shouldn’t be ignored. If a site is near impossible to navigate on mobile, you can be sure of frustrated cart abandonment. 8 ways to minimise cart abandonment I want to give you a list of specific ideas that you could implement on your site. These have all been taken from Missions - our new optimisation tool. Each mission consists of a pack of ecommerce optimisation tips on a certain subject, complete with evidence and studies found by our researchers. The following eight tips, of course, have all been taken from our “Minimise Cart Abandonment” mission. Steeped in proof, we like to take a step away from gut feel. These tips have all reduced cart abandonment for other sites, and I am sure that some of their effects can be replicated. 1) Send cart abandonment emails This one really is the only place to start. We will of course take a closer look at tweaks you can make to your sales funnel, but targeting people who have already abandoned their carts is a crucial way of reviving a potential sale. Ecommerce site owners are becoming increasingly aware of the opportunities provided by email marketing. Hertz are one company making the most of this practice, reporting that 37% of people who opened a cart abandonment email went on to make a booking. In the past, so much money would have been left on the table by users who abandoned carts. Now, it’s so easy to send a personalised email to every customer who abandons their purchase on your site. This is all about remembering that not everybody who abandons a purchase does so on bad terms. They may simply have gotten distracted, or left the purchase for a later date. A friendly nudge back towards your buying funnel might be just what they are after! 2) Trigger exit surveys and live chat at key moments If a user is on the brink of exiting a site in frustration at not being able to find what they want, a live chat session could keep them around. Some classic stats served up by BoldChat suggest that live chat is the preferred method of communicating with a business for 21% of shoppers. If you manage to solve a customer’s biggest doubts, they will be one step closer to completing a purchase. In turn, exit surveys allow you to gather the opinions of customers who abandoned their cart. Why didn’t they make a purchase? Gold dust. Easily identify recurring themes and patch these things up so fewer potential sales slip through the net. A handy tip for exit surveys - give people open-ended questions to answer instead of preset options. According to Groovehq, this will increase response rate by 10%. 3) Use address lookup technology to minimise typing Form-filling is dull. Customers know this as well as anyone, and will often go to great lengths to avoid it. If your checkout funnel is littered with unnecessary forms to fill, more than a couple of potential customers will run like the wind. Of course, a customer’s shipping address is central to completing their order. To make this easier on them, some accurate address lookup technology such as Loqate will squash the time it takes to get things done. Anything you can do to make the form-filling process as pain-free as possible is a surefire way of reducing your cart abandonment rate. Hotel Chocolat, after introducing address lookup, reported a 19% uplift in the amount of people completing each stage of their checkout funnel. 4) Give shoppers the option of using a guest checkout Finding the option to “checkout as a guest” is starting to come as naturally to customers as looking for the “add-to-cart” button. Research from the Baymard Institute indicated that 30% of all shoppers abandon their purchase immediately upon viewing a registration process. Not even a second thought! Similarly to tip #3, this is all about saving time on the customer’s side. If they have a product in their basket and are willing to pay for it, the last thing you want to do is shove a registration form in their face. 5) Use dynamic retargeting to recover lost sales Stella & Dot saw their average order value increase by 17% when targeting customers with more relevant ads. This is all about employing technology which is able to accurately create a picture of a customer’s browsing experience, so that they can be targeted with adverts to match their interests. Although female lifestyle and fashion website Stella & Dot were more focussed on increasing their average order value, dynamic retargeting is a valid method of reducing cart abandonment by presenting individual users with adverts to match their activity. 6) Provide a one-click checkout Made famous by retail giant Amazon, a one-click or one-step checkout allows a user to immediately purchase a product if they already have their payment details registered on the site. The ability to avoid form-filling and save time is a godsend for shoppers - and the estimated $2.4 billion value of Amazon’s recently expired one-step checkout patent goes to show this. Other ecommerce sites have designed one-click checkouts of their own, finding that they do wonders for retaining customers within the purchase funnel. A case study by Strangeloop showed that implementing a one-step checkout increased conversion rate by 66%. 7) Be clear about delivery (especially free shipping) A joint study conducted by eDigitalResearch and IMRG found that 53% of cart-abandoners cite unacceptably high shipping costs as the reason for abandoning their purchase. Making sure that your shipping fees are blindingly obvious from an early stage in your purchase funnel will prevent any user frustration at discovering the cost just before payment, or simply not being able to locate this information at all. A study by Accent has shown that 88% of online shoppers expect free shipping to be offered to them in one way or another. Failing to meet this rising expectation will likely result in a chunk of abandoned carts. 8) Experiment with exit-intent popups It isn’t a coincidence that popups always appear just when you are about to close a page. Many sites use technology that detects an aggressive mouse movement towards the top corner of the screen - usually a sign that it will be closed down. These are a last-ditch attempt to keep a user browsing the site, but if they capture attention in the right way then they can work wonders in terms of saving a cart that was about to be abandoned. A common tactic is to offer a discount. Research from Beeketing indicates that 48% of ‘window shoppers’ would buy a product they were interested in if they were offered a limited-time discount. This works on the scarcity principle - a perceived rush to buy a product can prevent someone from abandoning their cart to come back at a later date. Reduce your cart abandonment today Packed with plenty of tips similar to the ones we have explored, the ‘Minimise Cart Abandonment’ mission will equip you with an arsenal of techniques to drive that statistic down and keep shoppers inside your purchase funnel until the very end. Littledata automatically benchmarks ecommerce sites so you can see how you compare, then recommends missions to optimise performance. Knowing your average checkout completion rate is a good place to start. Whether you're looking at a Shopify abandoned cart or abandoned carts on a different ecommerce platform, you can launch the 'Minimise Cart Abandonment' mission directly from your Littledata dashboard. Use the app to track progress as you test ideas to discover what works best for your site. And one final tip: don’t try to fix everything at once. Start with one of the tips above that’s most relevant to your current shopping funnel, and go - or should I say grow - from there! This is a guest post by Jack Vale, a UK-based freelance writer and ecommerce expert.

2019-05-16

How to provide multilingual customer service for ecommerce

Ecommerce is on the rise around the world. Both individuals and companies can create online sites and sell their products without retail storefronts. Studies have shown that eight in ten European internet users perform online purchases through some form of ecommerce storefront. This trend shows no signs of stopping, especially in the younger demographic and millennials. However, online business carries its own share of problems and conundrums to resolve. Even if you implement ecommerce software through a platform like BigCommerce or Magento, you will still have a lot to plan for. International customers are likely to contact you with wishes to buy your products. Even if you implement a multi-currency ecommerce solution like Shopify, the problem is that many people still won’t speak your native language, whatever it may be. Multilingual customer service and user experience (UX) can amend that shortcoming. Let’s take a look at what you can provide for your customers when it comes to multilingual customer support and enhanced UX overall. Benefits of multilingual UX Before we dive into multilingual customer service for ecommerce, let’s take a look at the benefits regarding the process. After all, every upgrade or addition to your site should bear some form of positive outcome. According to CSA Research, 75% of worldwide customers prefer buying online goods through sites with their languages featured as an option. This number is too high to ignore, so let’s take a look at several benefits of implementing multilingual support on your ecommerce website. Better customer engagement Just over 26% of internet transactions on the global level take place in English language. This fact is even more alarming when you take the global number of internet users into account. Providing a multilingual ecommerce storefront will allow for better user engagement globally. People from different corners of the world will be much more likely to use your site to order goods and spread positive word of mouth about your practices. Higher ROI Return on Investment (ROI) is on every ecommerce website owner’s mind – and for good reasons. Hiring professional translators or outsourcing your localization through Pick Writers and their translation services reviews costs money. However, the return on investment connected to the initial expense is tremendous. Mobile ads which lead to online stores fare 86% better if they offer localized marketing content to their readers. No business model will save you from the simple fact that people like to be met halfway when languages are concerned. Good SEO ranking Search Engine Optimization (SEO) plays a huge role in how your site is perceived through search engines and their algorithms. Google has modified the SEO algorithm to detect and promote websites which offer accessibility and original content above all else. This means that implementing a multilingual approach to your ecommerce will lead to resounding success, especially if you pursue more global languages such as Chinese, Russian and German. Multilingual customer service in ecommerce As with any addition to an ecommerce website, multilingual support should come in stages. Let’s take a detailed look at how you can implement multilingual customer service into an existing, live ecommerce website. 1. Research popular languages and demand Every industry has a certain target demographic which makes it tick. The same goes for children’s toys, books, car equipment or anything else. In order to pinpoint the perfect languages for your website, you should take a look at supply and demand in the industry. Scour through popular competition and their websites. Ask your existing customers about their preferred language offering through email surveys. Do anything you can to eliminate unnecessary languages and add any which might be out of the usual plethora of French, Italian, German and Spanish. 2. Work with an international shipping company Since you plan on expanding into international waters, you should look for shipping companies which can meet your clientele’s demands. International shipping companies come in two varieties; some focus on sea transportation while others (more commonly) prefer air shipping. Look for the best international shipping options in your country and see if you can settle for a mutually-beneficial contract. After all, there is no point in shipping internationally if you don’t break even at the end. 3. Site translation and localization As we’ve mentioned before, site localization should be done in-house or outsourced to a professional translation service. Outsourcing is especially viable if you intend to offer multilingual support in numerous languages not only in content but customer support as well. Add new languages in waves and don’t overreach. You have all the time in the world to slowly and methodically add languages one by one and gauge the public interest in doing so. [subscribe] 4. Machine-learning chatbots In the early days of your website’s multilingual customer service, you can rely on chatbots to get things done. Chatbots are AI algorithms designed to provide rudimentary customer support and learn as they go along. Some of the better quality chatbot algorithms can be found in the app stores for platforms like Shopify, BigCommerce and Magento. These prolific ecommerce support websites also offer numerous plugins which can make the transition into multilingual services much easier and user-friendly. 5. Hire or outsource support agents There will always come a moment where your chatbots won’t be able to deliver on their promises. This is especially possible in their early days, while they are still unaware of the customers’ patterns on your website. In order to offer full customer service despite this shortcoming, you can hire full-time agents or virtual assistants to act as support agents. With some rudimentary training, these employees and freelancers can help you deliver multilingual customer service without you personally speaking the languages. 6. Ongoing product description support Multilingual customer service is a long-term commitment. Each product you publish on your ecommerce website will have to be updated with corresponding descriptions and texts in each language. This raises the question of whether you should hire full-time translators or stick to on-demand freelancers. Make the choice that works best for the volume of products you intend to publish. 7. Create and emphasize feedback channels Ecommerce or not, you will want to talk to your customers on a constant basis. Create dedicated a dedicated email address for feedback and comments. Collect data from your chatbots and have human support agents go through them. Gather feedback constantly, and make sure that your customers know that every bit of criticism is welcome. That way, you will always have an insight into how well you are doing your job. You will also know whether or not you should refocus your multilingual customer service efforts one way or another. Conclusion Whether you opt for DIY localization or assisted ecommerce development with a platform such as Shopify, you should always do it on demand. Never assume that a language is necessary on your website by hunch alone. Add new language support options on a constant basis but back those actions up with research and feedback as you go. Only then will you strike the perfect cord with your audience and find a middle ground that works for both parties. This is a guest post by Kristin Savage, a freelance writer with a special interest in how the latest achievements in media and technology can help to grow readership and revenue. You can find her on Facebook and Medium.

2019-02-14

Optimising your ecommerce store for the mobile-first index

In March 2018, after a long digital drumroll of anticipation, Google announced that it was rolling out mobile-first indexing. What does this mean for your SEO? In short, if your ecommerce site isn’t optimised for mobile, you’re losing out on a huge source of traffic. Source: Google After much research into the way people are now interacting with search engines, the conclusion is that there has been a marked shift towards mobile. In typical Google fashion, what searchers want, searchers get. So, it was decided that mobile would be a top priority. But how dramatic has this turn towards mobile been? The answer is definitely substantial enough to warrant this new shift in Google’s priorities. According to this Statista report, in 2018, 52.2% of all web traffic comes through mobile channels. While that is indeed significant, it is not the most telling fact about the current state of mobile traffic. What is even more noteworthy is the steady pace with which this form of traffic is increasing. The same Statista study shows a rise from 50.3% the year before, which built on 35.1% in 2015. This is not a trend which is fly-by-night. As you already know, when it comes to eCommerce, the success of your business depends on keeping up with search engine best practices and ranking criteria. These best practices can help you boost your ecommerce search traffic. With this in mind, you simply cannot afford to ignore mobile-first. Before I tell you how to adopt this for your eCommerce store, it’s necessary to explore what mobile-first indexing entails. Let’s dive in. What is mobile-first indexing? In a nutshell, mobile-first indexing refers to a method of search engine ranking that makes use of the mobile version of websites to organize SERP items. Google looks for relevant data to decide how best to answer the questions their searchers are asking. If the army of crawling bots find relevant information on your site, you may be moved up the ranks. In the past, Google rankings were based on desktop versions of websites. With mobile-first, the move is towards crawling and indexing mobile sites, rather than their desktop companions. This means that websites must be responsive and suitable for use on mobile, or mobile versions must have the same comprehensive content as the desktop. If you are breaking into a cold sweat as the realisation dawns that all your SEO efforts have been concentrated on your desktop site, take a deep breath. As Google has said, the move is gradual, and will not happen without notification in the Search Console. If they deem your site ready for the move over to mobile-first indexing, you will receive the following notification: Source: Google It’s important to note at this point that the Mobile-first index is not a separate index. Google continues to only have one index, as it always has. The shift means that the mobile version of websites will be prioritised, rather than being a move towards an additional type of indexing system. But how can you optimise for this change? 3 key steps to mobile optimisation 1. Switch to one responsive website As Littledata recently outlined on this blog, moving to responsive web design can be a very good move. What is this responsive design I speak of? Quite simply, it refers to web design that works well across a range of platforms. It prioritises user experience to ensure that the person interacting with your site is able to navigate it with ease, regardless of which device they use. A major perk of this is that whomever is in charge of the upkeep of your store does not have to monitor two (or more) different versions of your site. They have one site to take care of which will, if intelligently-constructed, work for an optimal user experience. If you do prefer to keep things separate, make sure that you pay attention to the mobile version of your site, rather than it merely acting as a subsidiary of your desktop site. As we will look at in step 3, it’s not a given that your SEO efforts will migrate over to the mobile version without some cognisant intervention on your part. 2. Get speedy Hopefully, page loading speed has already been a major priority when it comes to your SEO efforts. Sales in the eCommerce sphere are highly dependent on being able to keep your shoppers engaged and open for conversion to a sale. If your page does not load quickly enough, your customers will not stick around. Note: Check out these case studies on HubSpot for examples of how the speed of your site can affect your profit margins. When it comes to mobile-first however, page load speed is even more integral to your success. It is most certainly a top priority for Google in terms of how they allocated their ranking positions, and should be for you too. Luckily, there are numerous methods to both test and increase your page load speed: Start by looking at what Google’s very own Search Console has to offer. Through their Webmaster Lab Tools, you’ll quickly be able to see how well your site is performing and whether you need to step up your game. Third party tools such as Think With Google can be excellent accompaniments to other Google Analytics tools when it comes to deciphering how your site is faring. Ensure that your web design is not slowing down your whole operation. If you don’t have the technical knowhow yourself, get a developer to run an audit to see if your server speed, content configuration, or baseline coding is placing any obstacles between your users and an instantly-loading page. [subscribe] 3. Ensure your SEO tactics are still powerful If you have spent a lot of time and energy ensuring that your desktop site is fully ”SEOd”, make sure that your efforts carry over into the mobile iteration of your eCommerce store. Here’s a very brief checklist: Is all that beautiful content you created crawlable in the mobile version of your site? Those titles and descriptions that you put so much effort into? Make sure all your metadata carries over! Is the mobile version of your site verified with Google’s Search Console? Some final tips As an eCommerce shop owner, your concerns are not only getting customers to your site, but ultimately converting them. When it comes to mobile, there are specific trends that CROs are highlighting when it comes to transforming your customers into paying ones. In this comprehensive analysis by Shopify, they take an in-depth look at a study done by inflow on Mobile Conversion Optimization Features used in Best-In-Class Retailers. What is particularly useful in this report is what they refer to as a don’t and a do in terms of what is currently leading to optimal conversion rates for eCommerce business owners. As a parting gift, I’d like to share these two insights with you as ways to bolster your own efforts. In summary: Say no to hero slider images. In-depth research into mobile conversion rates has illustrated that customers are less than moved by them. Usher in the age of the top navigation menu. A relatively unused feature in the eCommerce world, all the data is pointing towards its efficacy in terms of mobile conversion rates. The takeway... Point 1: Don’t panic. Google will notify you if they’re switching you over, and will prioritise sites they deem more ready. Point 2: Start thinking with an on-the-go mindset. Make sure your store’s UX for mobile is as streamlined as possible. Make sure that your SEO efforts have carried over. Point 3: Don’t stop at optimising your mobile site for traffic - optimise for conversions too. Understand what will compel mobile customers to a sale. Good luck!   This is a guest post by Charlie Carpenter. He is the co-founder and CEO of Kite. He is a mobile advocate with over ten years of industry experience. After working for large and small agencies for many years, he co-founded Kite; a software solution for print-on-demand, zero inventory merchandise, and personalised photo print goods. As well as an entrepreneur, Charlie is a seasoned product strategist with experience of various types of digital projects which include: Responsive and Adaptive Websites, Mobile & Tablet Apps, Hybrid Apps, Cross Platform App development. You can connect with Charlie on LinkedIn, and follow him on Twitter.

2018-12-05

Web design fails to avoid for ecommerce success

Your website is an essential tool for attracting and converting customers. Driven by the uptake in online shopping, having a well-designed ecommerce site is no longer a luxury. It’s now a necessity -- you need to regularly convert browsers into buyers. Web design has the power to really grab your customers attention and portray your messaging. But when it goes wrong, the customers you lose will rarely come back. In this post I take a look at common web design fails that drive customers away, so you can avoid them. They may be common mistakes, but they're often overlooked! Fail #1: The CMS, plugins and theme are outdated You don’t need to modernize your website every day, or even every week, but you do need to make sure it doesn’t feel outdated. That means you should regularly update your website theme, your plugins and your content. Updating your theme and plugins will ensure you have the latest features and boost your security, while regularly updating your content will improve your SEO ranking and make your website more interesting for repeat visitors. Fail #2: Your website is not mobile responsive Over 50% of online traffic is from mobile phones and tablets, so having a website that properly displays itself on those devices is essential. If your website is non-responsive, you’ll be missing out on a massive amount of potential business. Below is the website Dribble, a powerful example of a responsive website (here's a big list of mobile-responsibe web design done well). Plus, your SEO will suffer and it makes your business look unprofessional. Common issues with non-responsive websites are text being displayed too small to read, irregular formatting, un-clickable links and images not loading. How many of your customers are shopping on mobile? Where are they falling out of the checkout funnel? Use this tool to find out. Fail #3: Stock photos and generic content Building customer loyalty and trust -- both of which are vital for repeat business -- begins with establishing credibility and authenticity. Nobody wants to read the same blog they have already read 50 times on your website, or look at stock photos they have seen on other brands websites. Good writing should be original, punchy and relevant to your target audience. And copy should be matched with credible, original imagery. Stock photos are easy to spot a mile off. Using original imagery significantly helps to build a website design that stands out and wins customer trust. [subscribe] Fail #4: It’s slow and your bounce rate is high Speed matters. If your website loads too slowly, you can say goodbye to the impatient modern-day consumer and watch your bounce rates rise. First impressions of a website are made immediately, so if your website takes more than a few seconds to load, your content and design won’t be given the chance to see the light of day. Make sure your images are compressed, limit the amount of videos and animations published within, make sure your hosting provider can handle fluctuating amounts of traffic, and disable any plugins you aren’t actually using. Then make sure to check your speed and performance rates against other sites. Benchmarking is the most accurate way to do this, so you can see how you compare to similar sites in your industry. Fail #5: Your site is unbranded and doesn’t stand out The minute a possible customer comes to your website, they should know exactly whose website they are on. Having a nicely designed logo is, therefore, critical for making a good first impression and improving brand awareness. And best of all, it’s really easy to do. Online tools are readily available to create stunning high-resolution logos in second, such as Shopify’s logo maker. Fail #6: Face it, your site's just not that interesting There is nothing worse than going on to a website and finding it incredibly boring. Content needs to compliment design, so it’s vital you have interesting content throughout to keep your customers engaged and coming back for more. Using banners, photos and graphics, along with authentic and interesting copy is the right way to grab your customers’ attention and encourage them to make a purchase or opt-in via a form. Fail #7: It’s not made for converting If your website doesn’t have clear calls to action (CTAs), then it’s not going to have good conversion rates. Plain and simple. This 'fail' can easily be eradicated by using smart opt-in offers, having clear navigation menus ('nav menus' in designer jargon), and writing relevant, targeted content. Evernote use an excellent CTA.   Without a clear CTA, how are your customers meant to know what you want them to do? Simply put, they won’t - they will leave. Every page (including your blog posts) should have a clear CTA to guide your online visitors down the buyer journey. Fail #8: It’s not optimized for SEO Optimizing each aspect of your website begins with understanding what works well and what doesn’t. The only way of doing this accurately is by using analytics to get deeper insights into how your potential buyers are using your site. You’ll be able to see which pages perform well, which keywords attract the best traffic (SEO is an area that you should be continually optimizing), which promotions work best, and which images resonate with your customers the most. As search engines become smarter, continually optimizing for SEO is an excellent way to get a clearer view of what's working and clarify anything that isn't clear. Then you'll be on the road to becoming an SEO-driven business - an easy way to improve revenue. Fail #9: It’s cluttered and noisy If your website is too cluttered, it will create a bad customer experience for any visitor. It will also distract potential buyers away from doing what you want them to do, such as making a purchase, filling out a form or requesting more information via chat. Don’t make the mistake of cramming too much into each page, or filling your web pages with in-your-face advertising. Your website should be easy to navigate, simple and concise. Customers should be able to convert with minimal effort. Conclusion The bottom line: if your ecommerce site has many design fails that impact the user experience, your company may lose out on potential profits. Use the tactics mentioned in this article to get started on improving the design of your website today!   Michelle Deery is the content writer for Heroic Search, a digital marketing agency based in Tulsa. She specializes in writing about eCommerce and loves writing persuasive copy that both sells and educates readers.

2018-10-01

Should you outsource your ecommerce operations?

After you've created an ecommerce startup, the initial goals are all about recovering costs and expenses. As soon as the profit margins rise and you've broken even, you face some big decisions that will decide the growth of your online business. First of all, should you start outsourcing? Because many first-time entrepreneurs think it's more cost-effective to do everything on their own, it is a common mistake to pass on hiring freelancers. In this post I’ll highlight the core benefits of outsourcing your ecommerce operations. Focus & growth There are many aspects to promoting your product, and ecommerce operations is an integral component of your company's growth. By outsourcing your ecommerce operations, you have the time to focus on the goals and growth of your company. When hiring a freelancer from a reputable marketplace such as FreeeUp.com, your contract will protect both parties. The roles are clearly defined and you get expert advice in key areas. Your time is valuable, and when you free up your days to re-focus on growing sales, the sky is the limit. Short-term & long-term options First of all, this isn't an all-or-nothing decision. Hiring freelancers can be short-term or long-term depending on the needs of your business. By delegating specific tasks to various experts, your business has the opportunity to grow and flourish as you originally intended. You also have the unique opportunity to scale as needed without the commitments that traditional employment requires. And experts are exactly that - experts! Why reinvent the wheel? The need for a skillset As your company grows, your knowledge grows. Creating an ecommerce startup has a steep learning curve, however, and outsourcing for expert advice makes a lot of sense. Coaching a freelancer is not required as they are already specialized in their skillset. By hiring freelancers, your business can grow outside of your core expertise. For instance, why spend time learning about optimizing landing pages for conversions when you can just hire an Optimizely expert? Furthermore, professionalism is a must when running a business. Your company will gain a professional profile with experts at your side. Until you've gained the expertise, winging it is just bad business. If you've spent countless hours (or possibly weeks) researching ecommerce operating skills, it is time to consider hiring outside of your skillset. Freelancers are highly knowledgeable in their specific niches, and outsourcing your ecommerce operations (and other important roles such as social media and marketing), will benefit your business. Working at full capacity Being more efficient with your time is a smart business decision. When you're stretched too thin or feeling overwhelmed with all the tasks of the company, hiring a freelancer is a no-brainer. Avoiding business burnout is key. As the owner/founder/boss (and probably CMO/CEO to boot), your business needs you to be working at full capacity. Making a list of the tasks that need to be completed is a smart business move. The next step is to start outsourcing as needed. You can learn from these experts and expand your business while optimising your time in the areas you already know -- while maintaining a clear overview of your ecommerce site. [subscribe] Excellent customer service (doesn't necessarily start with you) There's no question that customer service is a key component for the success of your business. Platforms like Shopify have emphasized this to their merchants to help them grow. Today's consumers are demanding, and catering to your customers’ needs can quickly take all your time and energy. Remaining professional requires focus and support, which is why hiring freelancers to maintain exceptional customer service is a key component to the growth of your company. Upgrades & maintenance Ultimately, the goal is to keep everything running smoothly. When you regularly hit profit margins and your goals are being met, upgrades and maintenance will be an ongoing issue. You might want to expand your server capacity due to increased traffic, for instance, or revamp your blog. It's no surprise that the top benchmarks for growing a Shopify store include page load speeds and server response time. Even though upgrades and maintenance to support growth are positive issues, it can be time-consuming to keep everything afloat. Moreover, once you meet your goals, you’ll want to expand. Hiring freelancers allows you to make sure that everything runs smoothly as you venture out into new areas or even new businesses. The bottom line is that one person cannot do it all. Outsourcing for various skillsets will make a world of difference for your company -- and your peace of mind. Start outsourcing your ecommerce operations The benefits of outsourcing your ecommerce operations to freelancers are countless. By outsourcing your ecommerce operations, you free up valuable time to remain focused and goal-oriented. Your business started from passion -- it is important to maintain that vision and hire freelancers to help meet your targets and objectives.   This is a guest post by Connor Gillivan, CMO and co-owner of FreeeUp, a rapidly growing freelance marketplace making hiring online simpler (check out their info on hiring for ecommerce). He has sold over $30 million online and hired hundreds of freelancers himself to build his companies.

2018-08-30

10 possible reasons Facebook disapproved your ads

It happens. Every now and then, Facebook disapproves ads when they violate the platform’s terms and conditions in some way. When this happens, you, of course, want to know exactly why so you can avoid ad disapproval going forward or make appropriate adjustments to a recently disapproved ad. It’s how we learn. Most ecommerce sites have a huge Facebook presence for both branding and sales. Whether you're selling directly through Facebook with BigCommerce and advertising for those products, or running FB ads for a Shopify plus store or any other kind of website, here are 10 possible reasons Facebook disapproved your ad. This article will describe each reason in detail to help you determine why Facebook rejected the proposed ad, and how you can avoid these issues going forward. Reason #1: A non-functioning landing page There’s nothing more frustrating than clicking on an ad only to be directed to a web page that doesn’t function. How annoying would it be if you can’t click on the “Contact Us” tab because the tab wasn’t linked to the right web page? How frustrating would it be if a video in the landing page wouldn’t play? If your ad leads users to a non-functioning landing page containing poor navigation or broken links, Facebook will disapprove your ad. To prevent a non-functioning landing page, you or your web developer should conduct a thorough examination of the landing page to ensure it’s easy to navigate and to ensure it contains no broken links. Reason #2: A landing page that doesn’t match the ad content More commonly known as clickbait, ads promoting content that doesn’t match the landing page violate Facebook’s advertising policies. Clickbait is deceptive, promising users one thing but then giving them something completely different and unexpected. Facebook is especially cracking down on clickbait ads in light of the Cambridge Analytica scandal and the prominence of “fake news.” To avoid disapproval because of clickbait, make sure your ad content accurately indicates what users will see on the landing page. If you're having trouble figuring out which ads to run, try creating user personas to understand your customers, then create and optimise ads based on those personas. Are you advertising to the right buyer personas? Reason #3: Inappropriate or offensive ad content Ads that contain profanity, sexual innuendo and discrimination are considered inappropriate or offensive and will be disapproved. Since the earliest age a user can join Facebook is 13, the network strives to foster a family friendly environment that everyone can enjoy. If your ad contains inappropriate or offensive content, consider altering the ad and the angle you want to take to deliver your message. Reason #4: Content encouraging illegal or unethical behavior Facebook is not the platform for you if your message involves promoting illegal or unethical behavior, for example, promoting spy and malware products. As previously mentioned, Facebook is focused on family friendly experiences. Ads that promote negative behaviors will be disapproved without a second thought. Reason #5: Third-party infringement Whether intentional or unintentional, sometimes ads infringe or violate a third-party’s copyright or trademark. If it does, and Facebook disapproves it as a result, you may only be required to make a slight alteration. For instance, if your ad contains a copyrighted photo, you may only need to change the photo. To avoid third-party infringement, create original content for all of your ads rather than taking, for example, an image for your ad from a stock-photo site. In addition to complying with Facebook’s policies, doing so will also make your ads unique to your brand. Reason #6: Misleading or false content Content that is false or misleading will not be tolerated, as it qualifies as “fake news.” It may be tempting to make claims about products or services that are untrue in order to build interest. But authenticity and truthfulness are essential for establishing trust and credibility with your customers. Make sure there is nothing in your ad’s text or creative that is misleading or false. For example, if your ad has the title “Kim Kardashian reveals her fitness secret,” but takes users to a landing page that only contains promotions for weight loss pills with no mention of Kim Kardashian or her fitness secret anywhere, this ad would be disapproved. Reason #7: Prohibited products or services Facebook’s Advertising Policies list all of the products or services it prohibits. Prohibited items and services include: • Surveillance equipment • Payday loans • Counterfeit documents • Tobacco • Unsafe supplements • Adult content, products, or services • Weapons • Marijuana If your business revolves around selling or promoting any products or services from this list, Facebook advertising is not for you. Reason #8: Low-quality or disruptive content If your ad contains slow loading pages, broken links, or poor grammar, Facebook will disapprove it. Yes, poor grammar is truly a reason for ad-rejection! Facebook has a standard it tries to maintain across the platform, and a big part of maintaining that standard includes putting out high-quality ads. To avoid submitting low-quality or disruptive ads, carefully review your content to make sure it looks polished and professional, as well as provides a seamless experience with no disruption. [subscribe] Reason #9: Disruptive animation that plays automatically Video ads that play automatically, taking away a user’s decision to click or not to click, are disruptive to the user experience. Soundless video ads that play automatically are acceptable if the quality is exceptional. But flashing animations or loud and obnoxious ads are not conducive to Facebook’s standards of quality and will be disapproved. Reason #10: Controversial content for commercial purposes This reason is especially important in light of the recent focus on misuse of the Facebook platform in political sectors. In one instance, Russian troll accounts distributed politically divisive ads, and in another, the Cambridge Analytica data firm deceptively collected information from over 80 million profiles to deliver manipulated messages during the 2016 US Presidential Election. In response, Facebook is not pulling any punches for controversial ad content. Ads highlighting issues like abortion or gun control for financial gain will be disapproved. What to do if your ad is disapproved Luckily, Facebook recognizes that no one is perfect and offers you two options if your ad is disapproved. Option 1: Edit your ad. Option 2: Appeal Facebook’s disapproval decision. There are three steps to Option 1: Step 1: Read the email your advertising account received when your ad was disapproved. Step 2: Edit your ad per the instructions in the email. For instance, you may be required to edit your ad’s text, images, or call-to-action. Step 3: Save your changes and resubmit your ad. If you choose option two, you can complete an Appeal a Decision form. By doing so, you’re requesting that Facebook review your ad once again to consider the possibility that a mistake was made in the decision to disapprove your ad. This option is appropriate if it isn’t entirely clear whether Facebook’s justification for disapproving your ad matches its Advertising Policies. Mistakes are an opportunity to learn. If your Facebook ad gets disapproved, simply use it as a growing experience and you will succeed.   This is a guest post by Anna Hubbel, staff writer at AdvertertiseMint, a Facebook advertising company. Hubbel writes on various topics, including social media, digital advertising, and current events.

2018-07-17

Abandoned cart email tactics that actually work (with steps and examples)

The number one reason for shopping cart abandonment is that online shoppers are simply not ready to complete the purchase yet. That’s something marketers have little control over. However, there is one thing you can control: the smart use of abandoned cart email flows. The average rate for documented shopping cart abandonment in 2017 is as high as 69.23%. But adjusting for technical performance and improving the checkout funnel can increase conversions for 35.26%. That’s $260 Billion worth of recoverable profit with through check-out optimization and better follow-up emails! No ecommerce owner wants to face cart abandonment. The customer has been so close to making a purchase, yet for some reason, your chance for profit slipped through your fingers. Don't worry though, the loss isn't final yet, because with the help of sales recovery tactics using email marketing automation software, you can win your customers back. SaleCycle reports that around 31% clicked abandoned cart emails proceed to finish their purchases. The series of emails after cart abandonment is substantial because some clients leave their carts unintentionally. Reasons like site time-out, complicated check-out, or a website crash may have interrupted their purchase. Here are the top three email strategies to win back abandoned carts! 1. Set up the right abandoned cart email sequence The right email sequence triggered at just the right time makes a tremendous amount of difference. Marketo recommends a series of three emails scheduled as follows. I've included some actual email examples to help illustrate the points. Send the first email within an hour of cart abandonment You have to drive your clients to continue with the purchase before they leave their computers. The first email aims to address technical glitches. Don’t sound pushy, just aim to help the client just in case the abandonment is not intentional. Below is an example of a gentle reminder for the first email. Send the second email after one day This time, you have to create a sense of urgency. The cart abandonment email below by Grove informs the client that the cart will expire soon. You may also talk about fleeting discounts or stock availability. And send the final email after 48 hours This is your last chance to win your client back so give it your best shot. You can give incentives like free shipping, bonus items or an additional discount. Here's an example of a final abandoned shopping cart email that works extremely well. It comes from the ecommerce site for Aéropostale. 2. Use catchy, personable email copy Your success in re-directing your clients to the shopping cart starts at a smart subject line. It will dictate if your client clicks on your email. So, craft subject lines that drive receivers to click on. One example is this email subject line by Helm Boots: These will look great on you The words strike empathy and curiosity. It gives a sense of compliment which will compel the receiver to click on. Not so different from what a friend would tell you in real life while actually shopping in a store!   Appeal to your clients through creative wordings and graphics. It helps to know your buyer personas so that your copy will be more fitting. Use words that your clients can easily relate too. Humor is also a great way to spice up your content. The email below by Chubbies is clever, cool, and compelling. The visuals and wordings charm their target customers who are carefree and adventurous. 3. Use multiple, eye-catching buttons and links The email above by Chubbies also aced this up. It has three active links that direct the client back to the cart. The title, the main image, and the CTA button at the end of the copy are all clickable. Notice also that all the clickable elements stand-out from the rest of the copy. This makes it easier for your client to notice and click on your CTAs. The button below is cleverly worded. It has a distinct color and size you can’t miss. The copy further explains which elements are clickable in a friendly way. The CTA button is already clear but the added explanation guides the clients on the next steps and avoids confusion. Conclusion: Even before you start these top three tactics to get your customers back, you need the data to know which of your customers have abandoned their carts. Data analytics and triggers do this for you. They provide the information as to whom and when abandoned carts happen. The first step in solving your marketing problems is to identify what the problems are. Data analytics and triggers help you identify these glitches so you’ll know what to do next. After you have accurate data about who’s abandoned their carts, set up an email marketing automation software to automatically send your email series through behavioral triggers like shopping cart abandonment. Then drill down into analytics about every ecommerce checkout step to see where you can improve. With the correct data, effective automation software, perfectly timed emails, topnotch copy, and striking CTAs, you can leverage your losses into profits. You can gain back a part of the $260 Billion worth of recoverable earnings - and start to increase your add-to-cart rate too! [subscribe] This is a guest post by Kimberly Maceda, a Content Writer for ActiveTrail. Kimberly writes for some top online marketing sites and blogging advice on email marketing and marketing automation. Activetrail is a leading provider of professional-grade email marketing and automation software for growing businesses.

2018-06-21

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