6 useful online marketing tips for Online Shops
July 30, 2015
When it comes to increasing profit on the modern web, or even just maintaining it, online shop owners are facing a range of new challenges. Up until a few years ago, the technical demands placed on online shops were significantly lower. Nowadays, shops must perform well in multiple different areas in order to maintain online success. The competition doesn’t sleep and the number of online shopping alternatives is increasing every day, placing shop owners under ever greater pressure. Here are our 6 top online marketing tips for shop owners to maintain and increase success on the Internet.
Distribute your SEA budget efficiently
Small online shops can rarely hope to compete with the massive SEA budgets of the largest competitors, so it’s vital that available funds are used as efficiently as possible. Here, branding plays a slightly lesser role, and emphasis should rather be placed on keywords which express a direct intention on the part of the customer. The following keyword combinations are particularly important:
- “buy” + product
- “buy” + product + “online”
- *your brand* + product
This keyword strategy focusses directly on keywords used by users with a clear intention to buy. Such explicit search queries suggest that the customer is already some way into the purchasing process and wants to buy the product online. The combination of *your brand* + product is particularly advantageous since the user is clearly already convinced by your brand and wants to buy the product from you. Since the probability of successful conversions is already high, shop owners should assign an appropriate budget to these keywords. Don’t forget to monitor these keywords using AdWords Conversion Tracking to make sure that your budget is actually leading to genuine conversions.
Direct backlink juice to relevant sub-pages
Some products sell better than others. Accordingly, online shop owners should make these sub-pages as search engine friendly as possible to ensure that search engine traffic relevant to the target market continues to be attracted to the site. One frequently overlooked method is to optimize the flow of backlink juice to specific sub-pages. Identify sub-pages which receive backlinks from external domains and harness this backlink juice using internal links, directing backlink power to the most relevant sub-pages in your domain. This allows available SEO potential to be used more efficiently and further strengthens those product pages with the highest conversion rates.
Offer useful accessories
Customers know that many products can be supplemented by practical accessories. When, for instance, somebody buys a new smart phone online, they are likely to be interested in a protective cover as well in order to keep their new phone safe. Such accessories and additional products should ideally be offered on the same page as the main product so that the customer can proceed to purchase both products in as few clicks as possible. The biggest advantage: this doesn’t just increase conversion rates, it’s also positive from an SEO point of view since it strengthens internal linkage.
Use long-tail keywords
A common problem for smaller online shops is that the industry big boys use their massive marketing budgets to monopolize the top ranking positions for those keywords with the highest search volumes, leaving smaller competitors invisible on pages further back. So before throwing away your limited budget on “hopeless” keywords, try to optimize your domain for more specific long-tail keywords, and generate traffic and profit that way. Long-tail keywords also tend to have higher conversion rates than more general search queries, since users type them into Google with a clear intention to buy.
Avoid frustrating users
Turnover is key for online shops, so owners should pay particular attention to conversion rates. In other words, making sure that visitors to their website actually buy stuff. There are a number of factors however which can annoy customers and cause them to abandon their purchase and leave the shop, including:
Long load times
Users are impatient. If a page or product sub-page is taking too long to load, then the user is likely to leave the page and look for an alternative. Shop owners should therefore ensure that the user experience on their website is positive and comfortable and that the purchasing process runs as smoothly as possible without interruptions or disturbances such as broken links or annoying adverts. If your load times are too long, this should be rectified immediately. This can be done easily using the OnPage tool in the XOVI Suite.
Conversion elements difficult to find
Users are lazy. If they have to search for key elements such as the shopping basket or even the “buy” button itself, they quickly become frustrated and disappointed that their desired product can only be purchased through lots of effort. Negative user-experiences don’t just cause users to leave a page, they also stay in the memory and can therefore prevent further conversions in the future. For this reason, important elements for the user (homepage, profile, shopping basket, conversion buttons) should be as easy to find as possible.
Expectations not met
Users are demanding. Even if the title or description of a web page contains all the best keywords and allows the relevant product site to rank in Google for a given query, this may not necessarily satisfy the user’s needs. Say a user searches for “shoes online”, but your online shop doesn’t actually sell shoes but rather polish, laces and other accessories, this user will quickly leave your website and, feeling tricked, probably never come back. Make sure that the content on your landing pages actually matches the relevant keywords and optimize accordingly.
Payment options not clearly visible
When a customer decides to purchase a product in an online shop, it’s important that the available payment options are clearly visible. Having spent perhaps several minutes filling in account and delivery details, the last thing the customer wants to is to discover in the final step that their preferred method of payment is not available. This doesn’t just cause the customer to abandon this particular purchase, but can have a much longer term effect. The customer is unlikely to return to the shop in future or to recommend it to friends.
Use features which encourage conversions
Just because your shop offers a product that a user is looking for, this doesn’t mean they are going to buy it. Even if the user is already on the product page, they still need to be reminded and assured that your shop is the right one for them. The following features can help:
How satisfied were other customers with this product? Do they recommend it? Customers like to know about other peoples’ experiences with a website, product or service. As a shop owner, you can use these comparisons to your advantage and advertise the quality of your product. Transparency is key, so make sure you have customer reviews on your product pages.
Why should a user purchase from your shop? Perhaps you have received an award in the past. How else can you demonstrate proof of quality? Do you have any badges on your website indicating that your shop has passed certain tests? Users have so many options these days when it comes to buying online, and they take time to compare the quality and reputation of online shops. In order to convince the user of the quality of your website at first glance, make sure that any testaments to quality are clearly visible.
Users value security when shopping online, and the green padlock in the internet browser indicates to the potential customer that your shop does too, and that you as a merchant are aware of your responsibility to look after your clients. This creates trust and allows the user to feel safe and secure on your website.
Product reviews don’t have to be written; they often come in the form of star ratings. Star ratings have the added advantage of being able to be displayed in search engines as Rich Snippets. In this way, potential customers can see proof of a website’s reliability directly in the Google search results, where they can click on a Snippet and proceed directly to the online shop.
To perform well in the long term, online shops need to recognize and make the most of their existing potential. The initial aim of an online shop should not be “more traffic” but rather “higher conversion rates” and an “increase in the average shopping basket value”. Poor usability and negative user experiences cannot and should not be compensated by SEO/SEA measures, since more traffic will only result in more frustration when users reach a poorly constructed, unreliable website. Focus first on optimizing your shop’s potential for the traffic you already attract, increasing conversion rates and ensuring the quality of the website. Then you can employ AdWords or other SEO techniques to attract more traffic and get the very best results.