This is a guest post by ecommerce expert, Rodney Laws, Editor at Ecommerce Platforms.
Ecommerce is a fantastic industry to start your entrepreneurial adventure in. There’s so much flexibility in how you can run an online store.
Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean you’re looking at a guaranteed home run every time The majority of new ecommerce stores will struggle to get started and amass an audience, with 90% of them failing within the first few months.
Here’s why you may be heading to that same disappointing conclusion and how to turn it around.
You’re targeting the wrong audience
The audience your store is targeting is just as important as any product you sell.
The mantra of “make it and they will come” doesn’t apply in the world of eCommerce. If you aren’t attracting the right audience in the right way, your store doesn’t stand a chance of being more than just one of many failures.
You should have launched with a target audience in mind. A store can’t reasonably appeal to everyone. You need to use well-developed audience personas and customer research to devise the most active target audience available to your store and products. This audience needs to have disposable income and an active reason to want to buy. Ultimately you need to consider if the audience you’re reaching out to is actually interested in buying. For example, you could be targeting enthusiasts who love your products, but already own them. You’re offering them nothing different.
How and where you reach them is probably the most vital step, though. You might found the right audience, but are attempting to appeal to them through the wrong strategy. Your eCommerce guides may be teaching you about the value of social media, but not every audience is active through these channels.
Free social media posts have much lower engagement rates than paid ads on the same channels. Your audience may be better reached through Google, and investing in SEO to improve your organic rankings or a profitable paid search campaign may be a better avenue.
Audience targeting is a long and arduous process of building up trust in your brand and deciphering which channels you’re most likely to find engagement through. While this can be difficult to do post-launch, it’s not impossible to shift your strategy.
You don’t have the right kind of content
Content is the key to making your website rank and giving off the appearance of a professionally run outfit managed by thought leaders.
If you haven’t already, you should make content a priority. Many budding eCommerce stores will put their time into perfecting their product range and communicating with customers over social media. While this is important, it won’t have as direct an effect on sales as investing in high-quality content will in the long term.
You should aiim to have an informative and entertaining blog that adds value to the products you’re selling. Don’t feel the need to fill this blog in with short entries every day covering every little aspect of life in your office or announcing each new product you’re introducing. Instead, focus on producing one piece of great long-form, keyword-led content per month.
Put a focus on answering customer queries and informing them about key features within this content. Quality content shouldn’t sit at odds with the products, but help bring the store up a level.
You should front-load this content with your keywords to help improve the rankings and use keyword research to decipher what questions your customer base would want to be answered, letting that guide your content creation.
You don’t have to become an avid blogger though. Content should be about playing to your strengths. If you’re a good writer, go ahead and write a thousand words comparing your latest product to the old model. If you come from a video background, use those skills and your equipment to create product tutorials and team profiles as part of a brand-building exercise. These are two of the best kinds of content a new store can use to differentiate itself. They inform the viewer about nature of the product and who they’re dealing with, two essential parts of building trust.
Customers don’t understand how to shop
As strange as it may sound, shopping isn’t always as obvious as it seems.
A complex website that hasn’t prioritized user experience is one that’s destined to fail. Never assume that the mechanics of your website are easy and come naturally to a first time customer. It may seem obvious to you, but you’re on the website every day. Ideally, you want your store to be full of first-time customers with no idea of who you were five minutes ago.
Simple actions such as adding products to the basket, selecting size or color options and filtering search options are different across all eCommerce stores, so you need to point them out and make them obvious. That’s before you get to more complex actions, such as adding personalized features to products. Don’t be afraid to hold your user’s hand through this process. You’ll appreciate how much it cuts down customer service requests.
To rectify this issue, you need to structure your website to create clear pathways towards sales. Look at your most common landing pages. If they’re product pages, you need to have clear calls to action on obvious buttons throughout the page, telling people how they can add a product to the basket and where they need to go next. If your visitors are landing on content pages or the home page, there needs to be a direct customer journey in just a few clicks to get to the pages of the featured products. You can use heatmaps and analyze bounce rate information to work out which pages are holding your customers up and how you can make the process more accessible.
There are numerous reasons why your eCommerce store may be struggling to get off the ground, from poor product pages to a lack of social proof to create trust amongst customers. It’s vital that you put yourself in the mindset of a first-time customer when making any changes, as that is who you need to attract during this crucial time.
Rodney Laws is an eCommerce expert with over a decade of experience in building online businesses. He’s worked with the biggest platforms in the world, making him the perfect person to offer advice on which platforms to build your website with. Check out his reviews on EcommercePlatforms.io and you’ll find practical tips that you can use to build the best online store for your business. Connect with him on Twitter @EcomPlatformsio.