Introduction

Ecommerce businesses require a very different approach to brochure websites. This guide will provide detailed instructions for the key elements that are so important for almost all eCommerce sites.

Chapters:

  • The brand
  • Data security strategy
  • Content strategy
  • Influencer strategy
  • Channel strategy:
  • SEO
  • Social media
  • Conversion optimisation
  • Email marketing
  • CPA model
  • KPI’s and tracking

Brand

Regardless of what sector you’re operating in, your eCommerce site need a clear brand identity that communicates with your target audience on an emotional level.

There are a number of components to this…

Your brand core

At the heart of your brand should be one core message that sits at the intersection of three truths:

  • A business advantage – it must be something that you believe you will always be able to do better than the competition.
  • A long term consumer interest – it must be something that the consumer cares about and that for the foreseeable future will continue to be important to them.
  • A point of market neglect – it must be something that is not already “owned” by another player in the market.

Usually this will come down to one word, in the way that Amazon owns “convenience”.

Understanding your purpose

Most companies know what they do, some know how they do it, but very few companies can articulate why they do what they do. You must be one of them.

When people visit an ecommerce website, they are being driven primarily by emotional factors. Your best way of influencing purchasing behaviour therefore, is to communicate with these emotions. That can only be possible if it is clear what you stand for.

Broader brand identity

Of course your brand identity is far more complex than one word and a vision statement. These are the other ways it can be broken down:

  • Product features and benefits
  • Symbolism and language -this includes everything from the logo and typeface to user imagery and words that you feel are “on-brand” or “off-brand”
  • Organisational values
  • Brand personality – if your brand was an individual, who would they be? How would they dress and behave? What would their tone be?

The role of GDPR and data security in future brand development

A key part of brand is trust, and data security. In fact in recent surveys these are the factors that are coming out on top in terms of what determines a consumer’s ability in 2017 to trust a brand.

Privacy by Design is the notion that as we build websites and apps, we should do so with privacy built into the plans from the outset. For example, many websites require users to sign in via their social media profiles, but that then results in the app having access to all sorts of personal and contact data. This is a completely unnecessary level of data disclosure, and should be avoided in the way these products are initially designed.

It is worth noting that one of the major marketing implications of GDPR is that B2C organisations (so almost all eCommerce businesses) will be unable to communicate with lists unless the recipients have specifically opted in and understood exactly what the information will be used for. If you are an eCommerce business that uses direct response campaigns or content promotion on social media, then you will also be restricted in the data you can important to determine such targeting.

Ultimately, however, I believe that there are benefits of this new regulation for those eCommerce businesses that act proactively:

  • Data organisation and engagement – the first is that while GDPR will almost certainly result in smaller databases for most ecommerce businesses, the data will end up being better segmented and more targeted, which means less wastage on advertising and, theoretically, higher levels of overall exposure as social platforms prioritise brands with high levels of relative engagement.
  • Brand – I believe that this is a great opportunity for brands to differentiate themselves. After all, we know it matters to consumers, so those ecommerce sites that adopt a Privacy by Design mentality will be far more appealing to consumers than those that treat it as an irritating afterthought.
  • SEO – if it matters to consumers, then we know it will matter to Google. I’m not sure uf Google will read privacy statements or if there will be some official seal of regulatory approval, but like SSL certification it stands to reason that this will play a bigger role in the future search engine rankings.

SEO for eCommerce websites

For many eCommerce businesses, SEO is the single most important channel as it brings highly targeted into the site that have an above average conversion rate. Of course all the key principles apply to eCommerce sites that apply to regular websites, but here are a few additional points to consider:

  • Product pages – your most important search traffic will probably go directly to your product pages. After all, these are the visitors with the most specific and conversion orientated user intent. There are also more product pages than any other type, and therefore if they are well structured they have the potential to bring in far greater sums than your home page or even category pages.
  • Category pages – for sites with products of a less generic nature (i.e. specifically branded to your company) it can be the category pages that play a more important role. The key, therefore, is to ensure the pages are on static URL’s and not generated dynamically.
  • Rich information – Ultimately, the key to building an ecommerce website that generates lots of search traffic is to ensure that all key landing pages (home, category and product) are filled with rich content that matches the user intent. For example, is the user hoping to find reviews, hi-res imagery, product video, related blog content or delivery details? Whatever they are hoping to find, the page needs to contain as much of this rich content as possible, all structured in a way that is highly digestible and interpretable by the search engines.
  • Authority – with well populated landing pages, you should find you are well placed for most product terms. However, for some of the more competitive key phrases your site will require greater signals of authority. These will be generated primarily by your link profile, but increasingly in many eCommerce markets social media and brand metrics (such as how often people are searching for your brand terms) are playing a growing role.

Email marketing for eCommerce businesses

For those eCommerce sites that generate a lot of repeat purchases, their most important channel is email. In fact some eCommerce businesses generate over 50% of their sales via their email list (in fact I’m aware of one large eCommerce site that generates nearly 95% of their business via email.

However, it isn’t only purchases that email is important for. It’s also hugely powerful for generating exposure for branded content via social media. The reason being that most people are reluctant to share content they see directly from brands via social media, but if a brand distributes its content to its email list and those recipients share it via social media then other people will be far more inclined to re-share it.

Finally, it’s important to note that as an eCommerce business there are only two assets you own – one is your website and the other is your email list, whereas your communities on social media belong to the social platform in question.

Remarketing and autoresponders

A popular technique for increasing conversion rates on ecommerce sites is to remarket to them via display advertising and email marketing. This is a really important tactic, but it’s important to realise that it’s only going to have a very incremental impact on sales, which will ultimately be driven by your brand and content.

Social media direct response

It is of course now possible to drive direct ecommerce sales via social media. The logic, as with any form of direct response marketing, is that you should be willing to pay up to your net profit value per lead but not a penny more. After all, this is about pure sales, not brand.

In reality, social media direct response camaigns don’t tend to be profitable unless they form part of a broader community and engagement strategy, so that the leads are warmed up and therefore the conversion rate is sufficiently high that the cost per acquisition is viable.

Analysis and tracking

As with any website, even with all the planning and strategy work in place, much of it ultimately comes down to your ability to test, analyse and learn. Key metrics to monitor on any eCommerce site are:

  • Direct trafic – is the brand awareness developing?
  • Organic search traffic – is Google recognising your brand as more of a trusted authority?
  • Traffic to key landing pages – a segment should be created that covers all category and product pages, but that excludes the blog and other low converting pages.
  • Total sales
  • Conversion rate
  • Average order value – this is arguably your most important metric as it determines how much you can spend on advertising acquiring the customer in the first place

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SERVICES

Explore all of our services below.

The first step is to perform in depth research into your business, target audience and competitors to develop a complete strategy for your brand and content, along with all paid and organic channels.

If required, we will then use our research to propose a complete brand identity, including your brand core, product features, organisational values and visual identity.

Before starting any content development, it’s essential that the technical foundations are in place, including domain health, site speed and mobile compatibility.

In order to differentiate the brand we need a number of big ideas to spearhead the content activity, driven by influencer engagement. There must also be a clear content framework that defines the subject and format of content within the monthly calendar.

once the content strategy is defined we need to be clear on the role and objective of each channel, including the search engines, email, blogging and social media sites.

Alongside the brand strategy there should be a targeted advertising campaign focused on lead generation within an agreed CPA (Cost Per Acquisition). Common channels for a CPA campaign include PPC, remarketing and social direct response.

We believe in rapid iteration and that requires regular analysis and reporting focused on a small number of key performance indicators, with the primary emphasis always on sales.