Category : Ecommerce
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. [subscribe] 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!
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. [subscribe] 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!
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. [subscribe] 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.
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. [subscribe] 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!
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! [subscribe] 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.
How to improve AdWords retargeting using ecommerce checkout steps
In the ecommerce world, one of the smartest ways to improve ROI for marketing campaigns is to retarget customers who visited your website in the first place. These visitors are already in the market for the types of products that you sell, but how do you pull them back if they've dropped out of the checkout process? The most effective way to grab these customers is to target them based on where they dropped off. Luckily, Google lets you do exactly that: with the right analytics, you can set up retargeting campaigns based on checkout behaviour. At Littledata we've helped online stores in over 50 countries to improve marketing ROI using ecommerce tracking. In this post I share three simple steps you can take to improve your AdWords retargeting based on ecommerce checkout behaviour. 1. Set up accurate product tracking for your store Enhance Ecommerce tracking has been available from Google Analytics for a couple of years now. If you're already using this Google Analytics feature, good for you! Having product data means you can take advantage of this and create Audiences that then can be shared with AdWords (and other platforms). In order to improve AdWords retargeting using checkout steps, you must have checkout tracking and Enhanced Ecommerce enabled in Google Analytics. Then you can follow this checklist to set up accurate product tracking that can be used for Audiences in AdWords. Check out this resource (or share it with your lead developer): Google's Guide to Measuring a Checkout Repeat after me: "The fields must by dynamically populated! This is important!" Clarify where the checkout process starts and ends on your website (and again, if your developer is handling the setup make sure they're clear about each stage in your checkout funnel, including where the process starts and stops) Set up checkout tracking based on that process Once this data is successfully coming into Google Analytics, you're ready to create Audiences and share them with AdWords At this point, it's important to mention that there are a lot of elements to Enhanced Ecommerce tracking and each part needs to be set up separately. For example, you will not automatically be tracking product categories, listings and details. If you're not sure how to implement the full extent of Enhanced Ecommerce, we're here to help. If you're using the Shopify platform, you're in luck, as our Shopify reporting app's audit feature checks for accurate product and checkout-step tracking, and automatically assists with setting these up for you. The app works directly with the Google Analytics setup for your Shopify store, so you don't have to deal with Shopify's native reporting, which doesn't let you see how users are progressing through the checkout process. 2. Analyse customer behaviour, including checkout steps Shopping cart abandonment is the most frequent complaint we hear from ecommerce marketers. Why does someone add products to their shopping cart and then just abandon it completely? This isn't common in brick-and-mortar stores, so why does it happen so often online? Remember that online shoppers don't want to leave those things behind. They were attracted to those products and have expressed the desire to buy. But with a bad checkout flow, too much information or too little, they'll fly away and leave behind only unloved products with high shipping costs or under-promoted benefits. One of the best Enhanced Ecommerce use cases is the Checkout Behaviour report. This is essentially a Shopping Cart Abandonment report, showing weaknesses in your checkout process and where to invest your time and money to convince users that have added-to-cart to go ahead and complete a purchase. Why is this important and relevant to AdWords? Well, everything in marketing is about perspective. The above report doesn't only show you where you could improve your checkout flow, but also where you've lost customers. 'Lost' is the key word here. If you're losing a significant percentage of customers at the shipping stage of your checkout process, this is an opportunity to improve - and to market those improvements using AdWords. For example, you might look at that report and ask yourself: Are you charging customers too much for shipping? You can't really change that cost for all carts (we know that shipping costs are significant) but you could, for example, offer free shipping to shoppers with items in their cart over some profitability margin. Retargeting those users in Google AdWords is an effective way to show them that you're ready to reward them for making large purchases from your online store. Are you limiting yourself to too few territories? Put your analysts to work to find out where customers that leave the purchase flow want their goods to be delivered. Can you extend your logistical capabilities, or do you have a brick-and-mortar store nearby where you can direct these shoppers? Use AdWords retargeting to let them know. Of course, Google Analytics' native reports aren't for everyone. If you find them confusing or haven't worked extensively with enhanced ecommerce data, check out Littledata's report packs. These automated reports are an easy but comprehensive way to read and interpret ecommerce data without any hassle. For the purposes of tracking checkout steps to improve retargeting, I'd recommend our Ecommerce behaviour pack, which includes reports on shopping behaviour by marketing channel and checkout steps. [subscribe] 3. Set up retargeting campaigns based on that data How do you retarget users in AdWords based on Google Analytics data? Fear not, my brave colleagues! If you've made it to this step, you shouldn't have any trouble creating powerful retargeting campaigns. First you'll need to create a new Audience. In your Google Analytics Admin, find Audience Definitions in the middle of the screen near the bottom. Click on New Audience. Click on Create New and on this screen go to Conditions and Filter Users to Include the steps you want to target with this Audience. Set the Shopping Stage to contain (equal) 'Checkout_Abandonment' or 'Checkout_1', 'Checkout_2', etc. - wherever your customers have been falling off and leaving a basket full of goodies without completing the purchase. (Note that this field is auto-completed, so give GA a second after you start typing to show the options here.) You'll then need to set a time period. Think about your specific business and how far back you want to go with the search. Once you're happy with your selection, pick which Google AdWords account you'll want to link to this new Audience. That's it! You're now ready to run PPC promotions to a buy-ready audience that would otherwise have disappeared. I hope you've enjoyed this quick guide. Please drop me a line below and let me know how you use checkout steps in relation to AdWords. I always love to hear how other specialists in the field combine platforms to create perfect marketing. PRO TIP: If you're in a country with Google Merchant available, you can benefit from dynamic remarketing. This does take some extra setup on the product level, so let us know if you have specific questions. (And stay tuned - we're planning some Google Merchant Center-related posts for the near future.)
Retailers traded 2.4 times normal volumes during Black Friday week 2017
The results are in, and this year's Black Friday sales prove that things are continuing to look up for ecommerce. Across 570 online stores, the average store did 2.4 times their normal sales in Black Friday week 2017, compared with only 2.2 times in 2016 – and a greater proportion of stores participated in the sales. Following our post on pre-Black Friday trends, Littledata looked again at what happened from Thanksgiving Thursday 2017 through to the following Wednesday (the week including Black Friday and Cyber Monday) – versus a control period of November & December in 2016. Compared with 2016, we found a bigger number of stores participating in Black Friday sales this year: 53% of stores were trading more than 1.5 times their normal volumes, compared with only 49% in the equivalent week in 2016. [subscribe] For those stores which promoted heavily in 2016, the median boost was 2.5 times normal. And those in the bottom quartile of sales in 2016 still traded 108% their normal volumes. How did Black Friday promotions work for your store? Use our industry benchmarks to find out how your online store is performing against the competition.
Black Friday discounting increases next season’s purchasing
I knew Black Friday had reached ‘late adopter’ stage this week when a company I’d bought fencing panels from - fencing panels – emailed me their holiday season promotions. But the real question is whether all these promotions serve to drive customer loyalty or just attract bargain hunters? At Littledata we looked at aggregate data from 143 retailers who participated most in 2016 Black Friday, versus 143 retailers who did not. For the first 23 days of November 2017 – before Black Friday – the median year-on-year increase in sales was 13% for those pushing discounts the previous year, versus only 1% growth for those avoiding Black Friday discounting *. Our conclusion is that retailers who discounted most heavily on Black Friday 2016 saw a lasting benefit in extra sales a year after the sales period. However, we don’t know whether these extra sales were profitable enough to pay for the seasonal promotions. Another possible explanation is that higher-growth retailers are more active in marketing Black Friday, but in either event the discount season has done them no harm over the following year. In a follow up post next week we’ll compare the peak discount trading – and see if on average these same stores increased their participation this year or reigned it back. Looking at 2016, it seems Black Friday was bigger than the year before for our cohort of 270 UK retailers – but at the expense of sales later in the season. Yet in the UK we are not close to US-levels of hysteria yet, where a much greater proportion of the last quarter’s sales are done on that weekend. The other interesting question is what sectors does Black Friday affect? Reflecting back on my 2016 post, it may be a surprise that the biggest boost of over 100% average increase in sales comes for Health & Beauty stores; whereas technology and computer stores on average saw a boost of 40% for the week. (The graph shows the difference with the average sales volumes in November & December, by sector, for 3 selected weeks.) And perhaps I shouldn’t have been surprised by those fencing panels: business and industrial sites saw a big boost too! Interested in tracking online sales activity for your own site this holiday shopping season? Littledata's ecommerce analytics software provides accurate data and automated reporting to help you track promotions and drive conversions and customer loyalty. [subscribe] * The statistical detail I took a group of 573 retailers we have tracked for at least 2 years, and looked at the ratio of Black Friday weekend sales (Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday) to the 2 month average for November and December. Those in the top quartile (trading 2.6 times above average during the Black Friday season) were deemed to have participated; those in the bottom quartile, showing a dip in trading over that weekend were deemed not to have participated. I then looked at the year-on-year growth in revenue between November 2016 (first 23 days) and the same period in November 2017, for the discount versus non-discount group. A t-test between the groups found a 18% probability that the two groups had the same mean, not allowing us to dismiss the null hypothesis.
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