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. 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

How Pufushop used our ecommerce benchmarks to grow sales

"Is my conversion rate good or bad?" We built Littledata's benchmarking feature to help you say goodbye to guessing games and start automatically benchmarking your site against top performers. Now that our benchmark tool has been around for awhile, we've started to get a sense for which ecommerce sites are using it most effectively. In other words, we've seen how benchmarks can help websites increase revenue - not in theory but in actual practice. Littledata has now helped hundreds of companies understand where their performance is compared with other websites in their niche, using our benchmarking algorithms and clean user interface. But can benchmarks really help you grow sales? I understand if you want to see the data for yourself. One of our long-term customers makes for an ideal case study. Case study - Pufushop Over the course of 2017, we helped Pufushop, a Romanian ecommerce site, understand if their website changes were helping to increase performance - and where they still had work to do. Pufushop is a retailer of baby goods, with a main focus on baby carriers. The products in their store are all premium quality and from top vendors, so comparing them with just any other baby store wouldn't have been relevant. Instead, we compared their ecommerce metrics with specific benchmark segments that were most relevant to their market landscape and business goals. Ecommerce benchmark segments Benchmarking is used to measure and compare the performance of a specific indicator, and it's most useful when you map that data onto your internal KPIs and compare performance against similar sites. Littledata specialises in ecommerce analytics and our benchmark population now includes Google Analytics data from almost 10,000 sites. We break that data into specific categories, such as Marketing, Ecommerce and Speed (site performance), and within each category you can filter by industry, location, website size, and more. Littledata aggregates reliable data from those thousands of high-performing websites so that you can focus on results. In this customer's case, we analysed their website and business model to provide 5 relevant benchmark segments: Romanian websites to compare KPIs across regional market Small SEO websites because 60% of Pufushop's traffic comes from search engines SEO-driven online stores (more generally, to see how they compare) General online shopping websites across the globe, to get a sense for how their funnel compares And a specific revenue per customer category based on shoppers' average basket spend (sites with a similar average order value, no matter the sector) Key metrics Web behaviour is not necessarily consistent across industries. We started Pufushop's analysis by looking at key ecommerce KPIs such as Checkout completion rate, Ecommerce conversion rate and Add-to-cart rate, but we didn't just pull these metrics blindly. Starting with the first month, February 2017, we looked at how other stores with a similar average basket value were performing. This helped our client establish what was working and what could be improved. As we worked with them to make sure everything was tracking correctly (after all, benchmarks are only as useful as your data is accurate), they could also check these benchmarks directly in the Littledata app. Results Now for the first time, both Pufushop's Marketing Director and Senior UX Designer had clarity on which areas of the website could be improved to increase sales. Based on the benchmark data they could see that the main places to improve were: The checkout process (to increase the checkout completion rate) Product pages (to increase the add-to-cart rate) Resolving those two main issues will automatically resolve the e-commerce conversion rate KPI and will indirectly influence the Revenue per customer. Pufushop decided to use Google Optimize in order to improve the checkout completion rate. Using Google Optimize is an easy-to-use, fast and scalable tool in order to A/B-test different experiences on the checkout page. Pufushop conducted a variety of targeted experiments, including: Shortening the checkout process Eliminating unnecessary fields Testing variants of checkout pages Split-testing different product pages Testing a variety of shipping costs After a couple of months of testing, the results were significant: The add-to-cart rate grew from 3.7% to 5.5% The checkout completion rate jumped from 52.8% to 89.7% Now those are some real results! Having a direction as well as a target helped Pufushop's digital team to focus on clear, achievable goals. As they continue to grow, we're glad to have them as a part of the Littledata family. Ready to benchmark your site? If you're in the same place as Pufushop was a year ago, here's a quick guide for how to use ecommerce KPI benchmarks to improve your store performance. Sign up for Littledata's main app or Shopify app Look at the benchmark data and pick an industry and a set of KPIs - the right sectors and segments will help you optimise campaigns Use tools like Hotjar and Littledata's automated reporting to analyse user behaviour around those benchmarks and define a short list of actions you're going to take Use Google Optimize or hire a developer to put those actions into place Monitor how users are interacting with the changes When you have sufficient data to see a clear relationship between those changes and an increase in traffic, revenue or conversions, make those changes permanent and move on to focus on a new set of KPIs Keep in mind that there are situations where the KPIs will show you issues of wrong messaging, for example of a product page or advertisement - technical issues where the change is fairly easy to make. In other cases, you will need to develop a long-term strategy for radical changes to your website, such as altering your checkout process. The online environment is a fast-moving industry, so you need to be agile and ready to change accordingly. Either way, we're here to help you scale with data-driven strategies for sustainable growth. Now stop reading this post and start benchmarking your site!   Note: In order to maintain data-confidentiality, KPI values have been altered in this case study (the results are real, only the benchmarks have been adjusted).

2018-05-24

How to implement a successful mobile marketing strategy

Mobile as a marketing strategy isn’t a new idea to anyone, but the landscape is changing quickly. Back in 2015, Google told us it would be expanding its use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal. More recently, in early 2018, they stated that page speed will be a ranking factor for mobile searches middle of this year. As consumers change their behavior on mobile devices, this greatly impacts our strategy as marketers. We now need to be visible on all devices, all the time. What do all these changes mean for marketers? Whether you're a solo AdWords consultant or a member of a digital agency, it's essential to stay on top of consumer trends in a way that is measurable and repeatable. In this post I break down how to develop a data-driven mobile marketing strategy that can easily scale with your online business. Mobile search has changed As consumers, we are research-obsessed. We want to know everything we can about an ecommerce product or service so we can make informed decisions. And as more of us search for seemingly minor things and do so on a small device, advertisers have the opportunity to be present in those micro moments. With an increase of searches on mobile devices (and with mobile searches already having bypassed desktop searches several years ago) we need to be present across the entire consumer experience, making the customer experience a business priority regardless of our brand or business size by providing a seamless experience on every device. Analyzing data with a last-click attribution model misses some of these mobile moments. Assumptions have changed along with search behaviors. In September 2015, Google shared that “near me” or “nearby” searches on Google had grown 2X in the previous year, but the use of that phrase has since declined. People still want results that are near them, but the assumption of today’s searchers is that Google knows the location of the searchers and where to find what was searched because people are using their devices throughout the day. Increase of use for “open now” and “tonight" and “today” travel-related terms indicate people are seeking information on their device. What this means for brands Does your strategy consider these trends and adjust to changes in consumer behavior? A mobile experience leads to a brand impression. People expect a consistent experience every time they interact with a brand. If your site does not deliver and does not deliver quickly, they will quickly leave. Regardless of which channel they used to get to your site, the mobile experience must be as seamless as the desktop experience. What this means for Google AdWords As mobile use continues to increase and consumer behavior changes, we need to better align our PPC efforts and use an attribution model that addresses all steps of the journey. With AdWords, we can align our marketing strategy to mobile use with mobile search ads, mobile display ads and app ads on mobile devices. Each option offers slightly different features. Text ads can display on any device. The primary difference with ads on mobile vs desktop is more ads per page on a desktop and only a couple on a mobile device. Because the first couple ads take up most of the screen on a smartphone, advertisers need to be in the first or second position because that is all that will display. Impatient searchers will not scroll down on their device to your ad in position four. On the Display Network, you can be more creative with ads, adding images and videos to the mix. Although image sizes that work on desktop computers will also work on mobile devices, aim for a smaller size of 320 x 50 when possible, keeping the layout of smaller screen sizes in mind. The third option for mobile ads are appearing on mobile apps, which are part of the Display Network. App promotion ads have a goal of driving downloads. Campaigns with only app promotion ads are eligible for phones and tablets; they are not on desktop computers. Bid adjustments With your AdWords campaigns, set bids on mobile devices that are aligned with your goals. As mentioned above, many will not scroll down the search results page on a smartphone to view ads so may want to increase these bids. This is also important for branding goals; you need to be at the top to be seen. When determining mobile bids based on ROI, identify ROI for desktop versus tablets and devices. That way, your adjustment is based specifically on the mobile value of conversions. Keywords In any AdWords campaign, the key to success is selecting the correct keywords. But you can go a step further and use the keyword tool to also see mobile trends for your selected keyword over the previous year. Use these findings to inform your bidding strategy. A subjective approach is to view your keywords in the eyes of your users. Are the keywords in your campaigns ones that you would type into your mobile device? Although more people use voice recognition to search, there are still those who type in their request. Since typing on a small screen results in typos, you want broad match keywords in your campaign when targeting mobile users. Make sure these keywords include action-oriented terms. Some people may surf their device out of boredom while standing in line, but many search to find information to make a decision. You can capture these early clicks with an attribution model other than last-click. Mobile URLs Google provides an option of using mobile URLs in ads to customize the mobile experience, but if the mobile URL is the same as the Final URL in AdWords, adding it does not impact mobile performance. This is designed for people who have different pages for mobile users. AMP pages An open source initiative, Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) solve the issue around slow landing pages to make them faster for mobile. Business that have used them find a much quicker loading time and a more engaging experience. You can also use the AMP version of your website in this option for final URL Bid strategy Take advantage of machine learning with a Smart Bidding strategy in your AdWords campaigns. It considers the multiple signals around device type and browser for auction-time changes, offering more targeting than we could do manually as an AdWords account manager with simple bid adjustments. Monitor device performance with this strategy and prioritize mobile traffic if it does particularly well on devices. Attribution models In all AdWords campaigns, regardless of device, many advertisers use the last-click attribution model, which is not ideal for any campaign, including those targeting mobile. It gives all the credit for a conversion to the last touchpoint - the last click - which misses out on how other interactions influenced the decision to convert. If you have enough data in your account, utilize the Data-Driven Attribution Model. If it is not available to you, consider one of the other options besides last-click attribution. The right reporting for mobile marketing Before you target mobile users with advertising, check first that your site performs well on mobile devices if you do not plan to have a mobile specific URL. Start with a quick test for mobile speed to see if you are at risk of losing traffic. Next do a quick SEO check of your site which is based on Google’s guidelines, which is also relevant to paid traffic. For all your campaigns, not just AdWords, you need to consider metrics such as sessions by device type for general site behavior and conversions once a campaign is running for a while. To minimize manual work for reporting and analysis, use a Littledata report pack which pulls in data from Google Analytics to offer automated reporting on customer touch points, providing data you need without the manual labor. And remember your mobile users are on the go, so any advertising needs to cater to them in the moment!   Want to know more? Get in touch with Tina's agency, 360 Internet Strategy, and follow her on LinkedIn.

2018-04-19

Are niche stores the future of ecommerce?

Ecommerce blogs were once full of the stories of retailers who had built a thriving ecommerce business sitting on a beach in Thailand while doing as little work as possible. Their business model wasn’t complex: they bought cheap goods from suppliers in developing nations, dropshipped them to US and European consumers with a substantial markup, and lived off the profit. If you’re unusually smart and lucky, it’s still possible to find success walking this path, and you will have little trouble finding ecommerce bloggers happy to sell you the secret to their success (and a large dose of snake oil to wash it down with). But for today’s hopeful new ecommerce merchant, that path doesn’t lead anywhere worth going. As the ecommerce market matured, the low-hanging fruit was picked. In 2017, the most successful small ecommerce retailers are focused on niches they understand well and can build a rapport with. The suppliers relied on by the dropshippers of old got wise. They don’t need small ecommerce merchants to act as the middle-man when it’s just as easy to sell online themselves. There are suppliers who don’t want to be involved in the retail end of the business, but those are generally wholesalers who only sell in quantities that smaller retailers can’t afford. As Commerce Notebook’s Brian Krogsgard puts it: Yesterday’s dropshipping gold rush is today’s dropshipping myth factory. You should be prepared for the realities of dropshipping today in a highly competitive environment, and know that it’s not as easy as some of the stories you’ve heard. Plus, if all your store does is attempt to replicate a tiny subset of Amazon, you’re onto a losing proposition. You can’t beat Amazon at its own game. And yet, small ecommerce merchants continue to thrive. How? By doing what the Everything Store cannot: providing excellent service to a niche market whose needs they understand. I’ve seen dozens of smaller ecommerce businesses flourish by focusing with single-minded determination on a niche audience. Why niche ecommerce works Niche ecommerce works because it’s all-encompassing. Every aspect of these sites fits their particular specialism, including the passions of the target audience. When building user personas for your site, the better you know your audience, the more effective those personas will be when running PPC campaigns, improving SEO and optimising product listings! Branding, communication, product, design, service: everything is calculated to appeal to a specific and clearly identified group of people. Groups that are large and diverse enough to be worth selling to while possessing a sliver of a common identity. One of my favorite examples of this phenomenon is Dolls Kill, a fashion retailer that sidesteps the norms of the fashion industry to appeal to a clearly articulated individualism. The online store calls for shoppers to ‘navigate through the site and unleash your inner riot girl’, and they even have a brick-and-mortar pop-up shop in San Francisco right now. Towards the more mainstream end of the spectrum, Grovemade manufactures and sells wooden furniture and other products. Its branding focuses on design, craftsmanship, and the quality of its materials, with content that tells the story of each product’s genesis, from concept, to design, to manufacture. Although different in tone, audience, and product, these retailers are similar in one way: each understands the values, lifestyles, and needs of a niche market. They unapologetically sell products and build a brand that appeals to that audience. Their customers get the products they desire, but more than that, they buy from a retailer that projects an authentic image in-line with their ideal identity. What’s next for niche ecommerce? The future of ecommerce might be in a combination of these worlds, the old and the new, the big and the small. On one hand we have niche sites that combine next-gen dropshipping with the power of a platform like Shopify, WooCommerce or Magento that make it easy to scale -- as long as you choose the best reporting tools to understand revenue and customers. Littledata’s ecommerce analytics app is particularly useful for Shopify and Magento stores that want to find the right buyer personas to sell to, and to connect that marketing directly to revenue. On the other we have larger stores like MADE.com and Figleaves in the UK. These online stores are now household names, but they became that way by building best-in-class customer support teams and online customer communities with specialised, personalised tools. Two standout examples are MADE’s Unboxed customer community, where shoppers share design pics, and Figleaves’ My Perfect Fit tool, where shoppers can find their perfect lingerie fit. MADE’s story is especially worth noting because they created a niche based on the story of how their business operates, cutting out the middleman and selling directly from designers to consumers. Once they found this niche, they scaled using data-driven decisions that lead to radical increases in yearly revenue. That’s the deal with niche selling: no two stores are ever the same, but your chances for success increase many fold when you use proven tools for hosting, design and tracking -- and create ways for your customer community to share inspiration while at the same time discovering new products and trends. Niche ecommerce is a powerful force, and anyone entering the ecommerce market in 2018 should pay heed to that power.   About the author: Graeme Caldwell works as an inbound marketer for Nexcess, a leading provider of Magento and WordPress hosting. Follow Nexcess on Twitter at @nexcess, Like them on Facebook and check out their tech/hosting blog!

2018-04-12

Tracking the online customer journey for luxury ecommerce

Today I'm excited to be participating in the Innovation Meets Fashion event in Lugano, Switzerland. As an increasing amount of luxury and fashion retail moves online, high-end brands are finding it complicated to track the complete customer journey. In many cases, difficulties in tracking customers through to eventual purchase are holding back investment in the digital experience and online marketing. But it doesn't have to be this way. We've found a straightforward correlation in ecommerce between the average ticket price of the item being purchased and the number of web pages or sessions before that purchase is made. Simply put, customers spend longer considering big ticket items than they do with smaller ticket items and impulse purchases. Luxury retail involves many touch points with the brand across your websites, social sites and physical stores. The problem is that the longer than online customer journey, the harder it is to get consistent data on which top-of-funnel experiences are leading to purchasing. So first the bad news: since many potential customers browse anonymously, perfect ecommerce tracking across a long online and offline journey is not possible. Tracking browsers based on first-party cookies (such as Google Analytics) will fail when customers use multiple devices, clear their cookies or browse in-app (such as from Facebook). Yet there are three ways we have seen retailers selling high value items increase the reliability of their online behavioural data. 1. Track online shopping behaviour in detail Understanding whether customers browse certain products, view the detail of product variants and even add-to-cart is a good proxy for seeing which campaigns eventually convert. Does your brand have a good understanding of how each marketing channel influences browsing behaviour, after the landing page but before the checkout? 2. Offer a good reason to get customers to login before buying VIP offers, registering for events and discounts all offer a good way of getting customers to login from different devices. With the correct analytics setup, this login information can be used (without infringing the users’ privacy) to link together different interactions they make across multiple devices 3. Make the most of your email list Even without having a login before purchase, customers clicking through links in a marketing email can allow the same stitching together of sessions. This means that if a customer visits a link from their mobile device, and on another week from their home laptop, these two devices can be linked as belonging to the same email – and therefore the same person. Luxury online retail involves a complex journey. Littledata is here to make your tracking and reporting both easy and accurate. Sign up today to get started with our complete analytics suite, and feel free to reach out to our Google Analytics consultants with questions about best practices for luxury ecommerce. Your success is our success!

2018-03-26

Using Google Analytics to refine merchandising and product promotions

The whole purpose of having Google Analytics tracking on your site is to find out how your website is performing and to use this data to improve your digital efforts. Yet many businesses miss the mark when it comes to taking action at the level of product listings, despite the fact that this can lead to huge revenue gains! Why do they miss the mark? Two reasons: inaccurate tracking and unclear reporting. The Littledata app helps to fix these issues automatically, providing users with a reliable data stream and automated reporting based on Google Analytics data, but it's still useful to drill down into Google Analytics itself to understand all of the details. In this post I break down how to use Google Analytics to refine merchandising, product promotions and product listings in a way that can have a direct effect on both short-term and long-term revenue for your ecommerce site. For this to work, you'll need to have Enhanced Ecommerce set up on your website. You'll also need some spreadsheet software (Excel, Google Sheets, etc.) so we can play with extracted data and drill down deep. Banners and creatives: getting users to see what we want them to see A full enhanced ecommerce setup will enable you the power to see how much money each of the creatives on your site is bringing you. If your website is like most ecommerce sites, you have several creatives displayed, such as: Homepage carousel Homepage pods Category main banner Choosing which creative should get on your homepage might feel like just a preference, but it doesn't have to be that way. You can use the 'Internal Promotion' menu in Google Analytics (Marketing > Internal Promotions) to make data-driven decisions about your homepage creatives. Imagine an online store that sells scooters and accessories: We have banners for categories like Helmets, Accessories, Mini Micro and Maxi Micro (different sizes of scooters). We have 2 banners on the homepage with these two creatives: Safety (the first one) and Built for Adults (the second one). We want to change one of the creatives on the carousel. Let's analyze what is the best strategy here. The first banner on the carousel was seen 24,404 times. It has a 5.01% click thru rate (CTR) and a £3.90 value per click. The second banner on the carousel was seen 17,109 times. It has a 5.52% CTR a £2.02 value per click. Now we can make a decision. What to discard and what to keep Even though we have a higher CTR on the second banner and this is an indicator that the message is more appealing, the reality is that the revenue that comes with that click is not even half of the revenue we get from a click on the first banner. If you want to make a 100% correct decision here you can analyze the margins on the product promoted by each of the banners. If you have double the margin for the products in the second banner you can get rid of the Safety banner and make the second banner primary. If your margin is the same for both categories then the best decision here is to replace the second banner with the first one. How to populate the carousel We already decided to keep the first banner, but now we need a replacement for the second one. So we need to find a creative in the website that had performed at least the same as the second banner. Based on the example above if we search by CTR higher than 5.52% we can see that we have a banner for Maxi Micro with 20% CTR and a value per click of £5.32. The action here is to replace the second slot of the carousel with this creative. After 1-2 weeks we can retake this process all over again and we may decide to reverse the creatives (Banner 1 will be Banner 2 and Banner 2 will be Banner 1 in the carousel). This is not a one-time job. The analysis should be made every time you add a new creative or make a new promotion.--or even as a weekly task. Many Littledata clients run this type of analysis on a regular basis, whether or not they've launched a new promotion, to make sure they are optimizing sales and conversions. You should pay attention to the average click thru rate (CTR) based on creatives category, and also you should know what is your standard deviation for each category so that you can quickly spot which are over- or under-performing. Based on the example above, the average CTR for a carousel banner on the site is 5.26% and the standard deviation is 0.25%. So I know that if I see a banner that has a CTR less than 5.01%, there is room to improve. As per above for the category pages, we have an average of 10.92% CTR with a standard deviation of 6.28. This means that everything under 4.63% should be replaced ASAP and everything above 17.20% should be promoted. List views: how to arrange products for ultimate engagement One of the best Enhanced Ecommerce features in Google Analytics is the Product List Performance Report (Conversions > Ecommerce > Product List Performance). This report shows you how many views each list gets. Why does this matter? Because if you have a high margin on some products from a specific category, you should find out if that list (category) is being sufficiently promoted on your site. From these reports, we can find out things like: Most viewed categories (sort by Product List Views) The category that has the biggest engagement (sort by Product List CTR) The list that is bringing you the most money per view (Product Revenue divided by Product List Views) Which categories are performing best -- and which are most profitable? Let's say I have three categories in my store: categories 1, 2 and 3. And my margin for products in category 3 is three times the margin for those in category 1. In the report above, we see that we don't have a click thru for Category 2. This could mean: The tracking is not working on that page Users have issues clicking on the products There is no call to action (CTA) on that page So we can assume that Category 2 is not working. Moving forward we should analyze the performance of Category 1 vs Category 3. Views Clicks CTR Revenue Revenue / click Margin at each $1 sold Margin at 1000 clicks Category 1 1,701,660 57,038 3.35% $329,799.67 $5.78 0.23 $1,329.88 Category 3 46,895 3,175 6.77% $23,881.37 $7.52 0.69 $5,189.97 We can see that even though we have a fraction of the views for Category 3, this category is for us almost 3 times more profitable per 1000 clicks. At this point, we should investigate how much marketing we're doing around Category 3 to see if there are options to push harder on this highly profitable category, alongside whatever's already working for promoting Category 1. Order matters The Product List Performance Report can also help us find out how customers progress from viewing a product in a list to clicking through for more information. Let's analyze the data in the above report. The table is sorted by Product List Views for Mobile devices. We know that the alignment for this website is one product under the other and for a product view to be sent the user needs to see it for at least one second. So we can draw these conclusions: Position 2 and 3 are normally visually scanned by users. The fourth product in a list is seen in more detail but has a lower CTR than the second or third product in the list. We know that each page has 10 products so the average Product List CTR rate for page 1 is 1.36% and the standard deviation is 0.42. From this, we can see that position 2 has a good CTR and we need to change the photo and text of the listing to attract more attention -- products placed in the second position in a product listing on this site tend to convert well. Position 4 gets attention but has low performance so we could try changing the photo and title of products in this position in order to increase the CTR. If we are looking at this report as aggregate data then we can conclude that if we want to make a push for particular products, we should place them in position 1 or 4 for maximum visibility, or position 1 or 2 for maximum CTR. How to monetize product list positions We can take this analysis further by examining how list slots relate to product revenue, whether on your site or via affiliate programs. Looking at the report in aggregate and extracting the data, we can give a monetary value to each slot in the product listings. Product List Position Product List Views Product Revenue Revenue/view per slot 1 2,290,505 £183,207.00 £0.08 4 2,279,917 £99,830.00 £0.04 3 2,246,164 £117,096.00 £0.05 2 2,239,943 £157,605.00 £0.07 6 2,062,271 £73,183.00 £0.04 5 2,053,534 £94,889.00 £0.05 8 1,788,080 £58,585.00 £0.03 7 1,775,762 £60,603.00 £0.03 9 1,750,248 £52,366.00 £0.03 10 1,606,599 £50,913.00 £0.03 From the above example, we can see that each of the slots in the listing has a value per view. And the value is decreasing with the position. Using the known margin for a specific product in a list, you can improve your ROI just by positioning it in a slot with a higher CTR based on the model above. Which photos should you show first in a listing? If you offer a product in multiple colors, you should use an image and a default (primary) product selection in the most popular color. But how do you figure that out? Product variants are too often left behind in analysis. The Product Variant field captures the specific variation of a product, e.g., XS, S, M, L for size; or Red, Blue, Green, Black for color. It is an Enhanced Ecommerce feature that can give you powerful insights into your users' searches, interests and preferences. Paying attention to variant performance can have a big effect on shopping behavior and sales. In the example above, we're looking closely at the Product Variant dimension to figure out which color is most popular. We have a product with 4 colors: Black, Grey, Midnight Black and Persian Grey. There isn't enough transaction data to make a decision based on purchases, but we can calculate the most popular variant (in this case, the most popular color) based on how often users have added items in each color to their shopping carts (Adds To Cart). For Black, we have a View to Add To Cart rate of 0.6% and for Grey 0.8%. So in this case we should use the main Grey color for advertisements and main photos in listings pages. We might also try using the Persian Grey variant. Note that in this example we can calculate for each product view because we've listed each color as a different product. If you're listing only one product and you show variants on the product page, then you'll need to divide the Adds To Cart for each variant by the total Product List Views. What to do next If you need help with Enhanced Ecommerce reporting, our analysts are ready to come to the rescue. You can either request a consultation or just sign up for a free Google Analytics audit and contact us directly from the app. How are you using Enhanced Ecommerce reports in Google Analytics? Drop us a note below.

2018-02-23

GDPR compliance for ecommerce businesses

Ecommerce companies typically store lots of personally identifiable information (PII), so how can you make compliance easier without compromising analysis? With the deadline for GDPR compliance looming, I wanted to expand on my previous article on GDPR and Google Analytics to focus on ecommerce. Firstly, who does this apply to? GDPR is European Union legislation that applies to any company trading in Europe: so if you sell online and deliver to European Union member countries, the regulations apply to you. It's essential that you understand how your online business is collecting and storing PII. Splitting PII from anonymous data points Your goal should be to maintain two separate data stores: one that contains customer details, from where you can look up what a specific customer bought, and one that contains anonymous data points, from where you can see performance and trends. The data store for the customer details will typically be your ecommerce back-end and/or CRM (see below). This will include name, email, address, purchase history, etc. It will link those with a customer number and orders numbers. If a customer wants the right of access all the relevant details should be in this store. We use Google Analytics as the anonymous data store (although you may have a different ecommerce analytics platform). There you can store data which only refers to the customer record. These are called pseudo-anonymous data points under GDPR: they are only identifiable to a customer if you can link the customer number or order number back to your ecommerce back-end. Pseudo-anonymous data points you can safely send to Google Analytics include: Order number / transaction ID Order value / transaction amount Tax & shipping Product names and quantities Customer number Hashed email address (possibly a more flexible to link back to the customer record) If a customer exercises their right to removal, removing them from the ecommerce back-end will be sufficient. You do not also have to remove them from your Google Analytics, since the order number and customer number now have nothing to refer to. You do still need due process to ensure access to Google Analytics is limited, as in extreme circumstances a combination of dimensions such as products, country / city and browser, could identify the customer. Isn’t it simpler to just have one store? Every extra data store you maintain increases the risk of data breaches and complexity of compliance – so why not just analyse a single customer data store? I can think of three reasons not to do so: Marketing agencies (and other third parties) need access to the ecommerce conversion data, but not the underlying customer data Removing a customer’s order history on request would impact your historic revenue and purchase volumes – not desirable Your CRM / ecommerce platform is not built for large scale analysis: it may lack the tools, speed and integrations needed to get meaningful insights Beware of accidental transfers There are a few danger areas where you may inadvertently be sending PII data to Google Analytics: Customer emails captured in a signup event A customised product name – e.g. ‘engraving for Edward Upton’ Address or name captured in a custom dimension Our PII audit check is a quick, free way to make sure that’s not happening. Multiple stores of customer details GDPR compliance becomes difficult when your customer record is fragmented across multiple data stores. For example, you may have product and order information in your ecommerce database, with further customer contact details in a CRM. The simplest advice is to set up automatic two-way integrations between the data stores, so updating the CRM updates the ecommerce platform and visa-versa. Removing customer records from one system should remove them from the other. If that’s not possible, then you need clear processes to update both systems when customer details change, so you can comply with the right to rectification. Conclusion GDPR compliance need not require changing analytics tools or databases, just a clear process for separating out personally identifiable information – and training for the staff involved in handing that data. I hope this brief overview has been helpful. For further advice on how your ecommerce systems comply, please contact us for a free consultation. Littledata has experience with every major analytics platform and a wide range of custom setups. However, as a number of global companies are concurrently prepping for compliance, we highly recommend that you get in touch sooner rather than later!

2018-02-13

How to drive more traffic to your ecommerce site

Are you following a strategy to increase ecommerce site traffic, or are you shooting in the dark? In this guest post, Courtney McGhee outlines proven ways to get more web visitors. So you’ve created your ecommerce site and you’ve set up your social media profiles. Why isn’t your audience flocking to your site, cash in hand? The truth is, creating your website and social presence is only the first step toward generating traffic. Your strategies on these platforms will ultimately determine the amount of traffic that lands on your pages. You need to invest time, create relationships and sometimes even invest some money if you want to boost your numbers. In this guide, I'll show you proven ways to drive ecommerce site traffic. Step 1: Decide how many daily visitors you need Setting a clear, attainable goal should be the first step if you want to increase your traffic. Marketing strategies can be overwhelming if you don’t first determine what your goal should be. First, decide how much annual revenue you are looking to earn. Let’s look at the example of $350,000. Next, divide your total annual sales by the value of your average order. Let’s say your average order costs $50. This calculation gives you the number of annual orders you will need to reach your sales goal. For our example, that number would be 7000, or about 19 orders each day. Let’s realistically assume that 19 orders per day come from a conversion rate of 2%. That means you will need around 960 daily visitors if you are going to have 19 orders each day. These numbers will show you how much time you need to spend on generating traffic and can help you set attainable and measurable goals. Once you've decided on the amount of traffic you're shooting for, make sure your Google Analytics setup is giving you accurate data about all of your websites (including microsites) and isn't duplicating visitors. You'll also want to set up goals for specific events, such as when a customer adds items to their cart, signs up for your email list or completes a checkout. It's better to set up this tracking early before launching your new strategy--otherwise you won't know whether or not your new strategy worked! Step 2: Start your search engine optimization (SEO) Search engines are (or should be) one of the biggest sources of your traffic. Now, it’s time to milk them for all they’re worth. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) should be a main focus to drive organic traffic to your site. Whether or not you have just launched your ecommerce store, you should make a habit of reviewing each page and product on your site. To do this, you need to start an SEO audit. Enter your URL on an SEO tool like WooRank, and start an Advanced Review. You can add up to three competitors here to take your SEO up a notch. Add keywords you want to track in the Keyword Tool, and choose the location where you want to focus on. In the keyword tool, you will be able to see the volume and rank for each keyword and how you are doing against your competition. There are plenty of free keyword research tools available if you aren’t sure which ones you should be targeting. Now that you have chosen your keywords to use for optimization efforts, you should make sure you are using them in a consistent and natural way. Using them in your title tags, meta descriptions and body content will help you become more visible to your target audience. To really optimize your keyword strategy, I recommend setting up site-search tracking to see what visitors are searching for on your site and also monitoring how keywords convert on your site by adding Search Console to your Google Analytics account before moving onto the next step. Step 3: Craft your content...carefully Even for an ecommerce site, it is essential to have useful, relevant and authoritative content. Of course, it is critical to have product images, but product descriptions will really help you boost your traffic. With product descriptions, you can weave in the keywords you can easily rank for that can also drive conversions. It’s actually easier to rank higher for long tail, localized keywords that will align with your visitors’ search queries. If you are selling garden supplies and you can rank highly for “planter for tomatoes”, the produce descriptions should use “planter for tomatoes”. Include that phrase in the title, as well. The product images need to be clear and representative of the actual product you are selling. Don’t forget to include the alt text with every image you use. This should go without saying, but don’t use images you downloaded from the internet that aren’t pictures of what you are actually selling. Also, you can create content like product reviews or comparisons of different brands and models that are optimized for “planter for tomatoes”. You can experiment with other types of content on social media, like videos, that can help you rank highly on search results. Videos related to the product that can also be embedded on your site is another easy way to incorporate your keywords in your content. Step 4: Tap into social media influencers In terms of brand engagement, Instagram is one of the best platforms. There is a whopping 25% more engagement on Instagram compared to other social media platforms. Also, studies show that nearly 25% of online shoppers are influenced by social media recommendations. In order to tap into the influencer market, you need to find the people who are willing to feature your products to their many followers. Finding those people, though, is easier said than done. A tool like WEBSTA can help you find the most popular Instagram hashtags and accounts. Once you find the influencer with a substantial amount of followers that aligns with your general category, you can contact him or her and ask for your product to be featured. Step 5: Entice visitors with contests Let’s be honest: everyone loves a good freebie. Does your site have a gift that your customers will find worthwhile? Use your social media profiles, your website and your influencers to get the word out that you are having a contest for free goodies. If your potential customers think your gift is valuable, they will share it with their friends and families. The only con to this strategy is attracting people who are only interested in free stuff. These users will likely never convert to customers, so use this option only when it makes sense for your brand. Step 6: Publish user reviews Search Engine Land noted that 88% of shoppers trust reviews they read online. You can encourage your users to leave reviews on your website and social media accounts. Reviews will help you rank higher in search results, and users are more likely to click on your site/social media pages. User reviews ensure fresh, relevant content - a big plus in Google’s eyes. Here are some more stats from Econsultancy on why user reviews are so valuable: Bad reviews improve conversions by 67% 63% of customers are more likely to make a purchase from a website with user reviews Reviews generate an average boost in sales of 18% Step 7: Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising At least 43% of ecommerce traffic, on average, comes from Google search (organic). But, more than a quarter of traffic is coming from Google AdWords, according to Wolfgang Digital. So, it’s important to have both your SEO and PPC set up correctly. As mentioned above, during your keyword research find the keyword your audience uses most, like “tomato planters”. This includes the long tail keywords, too, like “best planters for tomatoes”. Now, run a PPC campaign including both keywords. Primary keywords will generate more traffic, while long tail keywords will drive less traffic but higher conversion rates. To increase conversions even more, you can link your AdWords account to your Analytics account, then use Buyer Personas for specific marketing channels to target those users that are more likely to spend money on your site. So, are you ready for real growth? Bringing traffic to your ecommerce sites all starts with setting a clearly-defined goal. You need to know where your existing traffic is coming from, and optimize all of your platforms for your visitors and search engine bots. Incorporating other strategies, when done correctly, will help you bring more eyes to your site. Contests and PPC advertising are great ways to get your product in front of your target audience. I hope this guide helps take your online store to the next level! Courtney McGhee is on the Marketing Team at WooRank, an SEO audit tool that has helped millions of websites with their SEO efforts. A former journalist in North Carolina, Courtney shifted gears and entered the digital marketing world in Brussels, Belgium.

2018-02-08

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