5 E-Commerce Marketing Red Flags

Posted by on Apr 17, 2013 in ecommerce, seo, social media marketing
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Before making costly changes to your e-commerce website, consider a few of the red flags below

Optimizing an e-commerce website can be challenging. As a business owner or designer it’s hard to know what to do next that will have the greatest impact. Should I test a new landing page? Should I add more product description? Should I add a blog or redesign the home page? All of these are potential options but are you addressing the foundation of what makes a good e-commerce website? To help identify what needs the most attention there are five red flags below that should be a cause of concern for any website. If you notice any of these red flags, get a deeper analysis or website audit. An audit will uncover opportunities that can make a big difference, or at the very least help point you in the right direction.

Low Conversion Rates

You’ve noticed while digging into your web analytics that your e-commerce conversion rates seem low. What is a low conversion rate? It depends on your industry but for most e-commerce websites it’s in the 2-5% range. Lower than 1% and you definitely have some issues to address. You now know there is a problem, but what’s the solution?

“Let’s redesign the website!” Redesigning your website just because you have low conversion rates may not be the right solution. Redesigns can be costly and will often be a web design firms’ first reaction since they may not really understand the problem. Make sure you consult one or two experienced digital marketing professionals before giving the go ahead on a redesign. It could save you time and money spent fixing what isn’t broken.

“Let’s lower prices!” There are times when pricing something at $99.00 from $112.00 makes sense to increase orders. The average order value is in the range of $90-100 for US consumers (Source: Monetate E-commerce Report, 2012). Good information to know when pricing your products. Is your pricing structure preventing you from converting visitors?

Customers make a purchase decision on more than just price. Simply lowering prices may have a short term gain but consider the long term impact of conditioning your customers into seeing less value in your brand than they did before. Don’t get in the trap of lowering your prices to be the lowest. It’s a slippery slope.

“Let’s run a giveaway!” Make sure you are delivering value in other ways than just price, freebies or deep discounts. You may be less expensive than one of your competitors but is that competing website easier to use? If the answer is yes, lowering your price will not solve the problem. Help your customers solve problems through engaging content. Great content is another way to provide value and help justify a higher price.

It’s hard to say what may be causing low conversion rates but there may be a few metrics to consider. Make sure to review your search engine visitors. Do your search visits have a high bounce rate? Are you driving low quality visitors to your site? Are you running any new display ad or email campaigns? The website may not be your problem if the quality of your visitors is low. Low quality visitors typically leave your website quickly and rarely make a purchase. Look at each channel to make sure you’re getting the most bang for your buck.

Slow Load Time

Most E-commerce website owners and web design firms have high speed internet connections and forget not everyone can access their website in the same way. Many mobile devices and tablets run on 3G networks that are often slower than broadband connections. A website that takes 2 seconds to load on a desktop PC with broadband could take 4-6 seconds to load on a slower connection. Search engines also like to see websites that load quickly and provide a positive browsing experience.

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Check a few page speed tools to see how fast you website loads, you may be surprised how slow some of your web pages load. Slow page load time can really hurt conversion rates. No one wants to wait more than 2-3 seconds for a page to load. Have your SEO consultant run a few page speed reports to see where you stand.

Visitor Source Diversity

Take a peek at your web analytics reports again. Do you see a majority of your visitors coming from one source? Having most of your visitors coming from one source is a major red flag. If your website relies heavily on Google organic search for example, it may be time to explore other digital marketing channels.

A major downside of having more than 90% of your visitors coming from one source is when that source makes changes, and Google does this frequently, you feel the positive or negative impact of those changes more than you should. Get in touch with a marketing firm to help you evaluate other advertising channels to help diversify your visitor mix.

Social Media Activity

Social media may be relatively new compared to other marketing channels like email, search engines and online advertising but that doesn’t mean it should be ignored. Social media activity is growing at an exponential rate. Mobile web users for Facebook grew 85% year over year, Twitter 140% and Pinterest grew 4,225% (Source: Nielsen Social Media Study 2012).

It’s clear social media is becoming a more prominent digital marketing channel. The strategy of passive social media activity misses out on potential gains in followers and influence. Customers only have enough time to follow so many brands or people. If you’re not part of their circle now or in the near future, it will become more difficult over time. With each passing week, there is more and more noise in social media which makes it harder to get followed. Take action today to make sure you don’t miss a wave of new customers. Don’t get obsessed with ROI when it comes to social. Social is an early stage introducer in the buying cycle and unless you are frequently running discounts or tweeting coupon codes, social will not have a lot of direct orders.

No Goal Tracking

By default, most analytics packages will show you visitors, search engine activity and more. With a little configuration you can see online orders, landing page goal conversions and more. Make sure you are tracking all the potential conversion points. Start tracking PDF downloads, email clicks, video views and more. These are important engagement metrics that a package like Google Analytics can help you track. You don’t need expensive analytics or automation software if you have the right tracking in place.

If you have some or all of these issues it’s worth talking to a digital marketing firm or consultant to have your program evaluated. A consultant will review your Google Analytics reports to see what’s missing and what needs added. They can help you create a budget for each marketing channel, plan and test. If you’re interested in learning more about e-commerce optimization, please contact us.