Whether you know about this or not, running a successful ecommerce website is not at all based on chance, or good luck, or on random online activity. Obviously, you have noticed that there are e-stores that go very well or even extremely well and online stores that are not doing so great. And many times, the main difference is not in the quality of their products, or even their prices…so, what is it, then?
Well, in order to answer to that, you must keep in mind that the most important and the decisive factor of your online store’s success is your customer. So, I would say that the ultimate rule of a successful online business is to have your main focus on your customers’ best satisfaction.
To give you some help and a bit of guidance on this path of truly satisfying your customer, I give you a list of seven major traits/characteristics that the most blossoming e-commerce sites share, as well as three major mistakes for you to avoid.
It’s only logical that before you can have any actual customers, you first need to have people see and visit your website. One of the best methods to increase your traffic is by using the Search Engine Optimization. You need to optimize the content of your site with the keywords that your possible customers are more likely to search for. By doing this, your pages will appear higher in the search results, which means your pages will become more visible to online users.
Of course, optimizing your content implies that you take care to add good quality content on a regular basis. And now that you have good quality optimized content, you can go one step further and start sharing it as much as you can, with links to your website added to it. This might be kind of time consuming, but the results will show nonetheless.
First ‘do not’: do not rely only on SEO
This might seem a bit confusing, now that we have just talked about how much SEO can do for your business, but the truth is that it is much better and healthier for your business not to rely entirely on this optimization method for traffic. It’s true, it works very well and that is a proven fact, but what if one day Google decides to take off your site for no apparent reason whatsoever? So, you should take as much advantage as you can of this method, but do not put it all on it because it is not unbreakable. There are many other ways to increase traffic to your website and you should explore them as well to their fullest.
Conversion rate optimization
Now, that we’ve set your mind on the idea of getting traffic, we should start focusing on the conversion of your visitors into your customers. There are some valid methods that you can use to optimize your conversion rate and one of the basic methods is making your website very user friendly. Make sure your visitors can enjoy simple and smooth navigation through your website and make it easy for them to get from the landing page to the order form.
Also, it’s important that the pages your visitors land on are relevant to their search. You can track your customers’ movements on your website and see what they are interested in and what are their preferences and retain this information until their next visit. By doing this, you will be able to show them relevant suggestions and give them a more personalized experience.
Best Customer Service
For best results, you should back up your cool website and your professional marketing strategies with a great customer service. You must always make sure to give your customers a pleasant experience and for that, you must keep every aspect of your website very customer orientated. Create customer facilities and try to keep the design of your website as simple, friendly and easy to navigate as possible.
Make sure to enhance communication. Listen to suggestions and deal with complaints as quickly and as transparent as possible. You will create a good, reliable and professional impression for yourself and you will keep your customers happy. Keep in mind that, at some point, the word of the mouth is still just as powerful as SEO or PPC.
Second ‘do not’: do not ignore the Conventional Navigation Elements
I cannot stress enough on how important it is to make it easy for your customer to navigate through your website. Keep the classical elements of an online store, add direct links between your pages and make the navigation process be as smooth as you can. Don’t make your visitors feel lost throughout your pages because then it would be very unlikely to turn them into your customers. Of course, that doesn’t mean you can’t personalize your website or make it look original, but just try to keep things simple, visible and easy to navigate through.
You sell your image too
The thing is that it’s not enough that you know you are selling good quality products. Your customers need to know that too. But before you can convince them to check the details of a product, you must first positively impress and attract them. One way of earning your customers’ interest and trust is by creating a clean and professional image for yourself. You need to present your content in a way that inspires them a feeling of high quality. So, having a cheap or homemade-like website won’t really help you. You actually do need a professional designer that really knows what he or she is doing. You need clean and well organized pages, with good quality and appropriate graphics and images. And if you think this is a big investment, you can rest assure that it will totally worth it.
Give details in detail
Now, what we have talked so far about attracting visitors and optimizing your conversion rate by giving your future customers a pleasant, friendly and personalized experience is, actually, only the background. The customers’ true attention is directed and focused on your actual products. So you must provide good, clear, high quality images of your products. Make them extra large size and show the product from different angles and you get extra customer points.
Then, make sure you have a very friendly and visible information page for each product. Organize the information into categories and give as many details as you have. Be clear and specific because customers do not rely on any sort of ambiguities when ordering online; they want to know all the details of a product to make sure it is indeed what they are looking for.
Third ‘do not’: do not wait to get outdated
Once you see that your e-store is coming to life, it is very important to keep pushing yourself to improve it. Do not set aside and become lazy because you are under the impression that you managed to get onto the right path. This impression is only partially correct. You might be on the right track, but without constant effort, you will soon be left behind. Do not wait to become outdated, but always look for fresh ideas and keep your site evolving. Try to be proactive and stay in tune with the trends, because if you want your business to be truly successful, you need to be ahead of competition. You will need to invest in the latest technologies, but if you want to be the best, this really is a necessary cost.
A full time job
A very good idea to help you avoid the upper mentioned big mistake is to manage your site full time. If you consider your website to be only a fraction of your business, or only a disposable part time activity, it will only bring you a small fraction of your business’ profit. Instead, try to turn your online business into a full time activity by investing in staff for a full time basis.
I agree, the costs of this are very high, but let’s think about the benefits before we throw the idea away. First of all, you will always have someone to communicate with your customers and handle any issues or complaints. Then, a full time staff will be able to keep your pages up to date with the trends and the technologies. Not to mention things like creating and sharing content, blogging, adding and creating links, using social medias, creating connections with others in your market place and even using newspapers and other offline options to increase the website’s popularity…that is, a full staff will also get to deal with good old PR stuff, apart from maintaining the website and offering full time customer support. If you put all of this in balance, you will see you’ll have a very good return of your investment.
Regular updates & Newsletters
You need to keep your website update, but you also need to keep your customers updated. The best situation is the one in which you can make daily updates – you don’t need to have a new product every day, but can have special offers, suggestions, blog posts or even just announcements of what’s coming soon. If you let people see that you are alive and active, they will come back.
Also, make sure to send regular Newsletters to your customers. First of all, to let them know about your new products, your special offers and all the other updates we already talked about, and second, to remind them of your presence. Pay attention, however, not to become annoying by sending too many emails; however, once a week or so would be a good interval to remind your customers that you still have something that they might want or something new/better to offer.
Now, these are just a few trick to make life easier for you, but the point is, everything is adaptable and in a constant change. You can follow these simple guidelines to create a unique personality for your website and also to keep up its functionality.
To say it short, build a great website, give your customers what they need, what they wish for and what they want and make this process as pleasant as possible and your customers will turn your business into a success.