Let’s cut to the chase. So naturally, you want to make more money from your online store. But, unfortunately, if you’re already swimming in sales, you’re probably not reading articles about ways to improve your store’s performance.
This article will outline 10 tips for improving eCommerce performance. These tips are unique and not sourced from anywhere except the experience I’ve gained from being in the eCommerce trenches.
Unlike brick and mortar businesses, running an eCommerce shop means you’re competing with pretty much everyone else on the planet. And that means there’s no room for being sloppy.
Let’s get into the tips.
1. Go After the Right Products
Some products don’t work. Diapers, for instance, are considered a “loss-leader.”
They’re relatively expensive to manufacture. They’re heavy to ship. Retail stores sell them cheap because they know they can get customers into the store to buy other higher-margin products.
The moral here is that not all products are created equal.
Before you stock any product in your store, you need to be confident about the margins, the demand for the product, and how much competition you’ll face.
At the very least, do some research on Google to see what the competition is doing for any product you’re considering selling.
Of course, if you’re manufacturing a unique product or selling digital products, you’re less likely to be affected by this risk.
2. Get Your Messaging Right
Sloppy messaging and copy is the #1 biggest conversion killer.
People read the content on your website. They look at your images. Whether it’s subliminally or consciously, they pick up on what your message is.
If your message doesn’t say, “this is what you’re looking for,” then you’re putting your shop at a disadvantage.
Such agencies as Clean Commit, for example, are regularly approached by companies looking to tighten up their website’s design or technical performance, believing this is the quickest way to improve sales or conversion rates.
Clients tend to be confused when they are told they need to fix their copy as a first step. Throwing money at a new design only makes sense if your messaging is on point.
Don’t leave money on the table. Instead, talk to a professional copywriter. They will take you back a hundred times the amount you pay them.
3. Testing, testing, testing
Test everything, and your eCommerce performance will skyrocket.
We know that statement is a bit vague, so we’ll expand a bit.
No one (including you) knows the perfect headline for your home page. Likewise, no one knows the best images to include on your site, or which products you should feature, or whether your page is too long, or if the content isn’t relevant, or a thousand other variables.
The only way to know if you’re getting things right is to test each part of your site extensively.
Testing isn’t complicated. There’s plenty of great tools out there like VWO, Google Optimize, and Crazy Egg, to name a few.
Most tests take a couple of weeks to reach a significant amount of data, depending on how much traffic you have. This duration means you can only run 26 tests a year, so you should be running them consistently.
Our recommendation is to build a list of tests you want to run and add it to a tool like Trello or Asana. Then, record your test results every two weeks, pick the next most important test from the list, and get it set up.
4. Excellent Design is Invaluable
Excellent copy is more important than great design, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t put much effort into getting your design right.
Getting it “right” usually doesn’t mean creating a super creative interface with moving elements, gifs, loud colors, and bold features.
Truly great design goes unnoticed. The idea is to avoid making your visitor have to think. Instead, they should be able to find the product they need and checkout while daydreaming about what they’re going to eat for dinner.
As soon as you introduce an unfamiliar design, friction is added to the purchasing process, and you’ll likely see your conversion rate decrease.
If you’re interested in checking out what a well-designed website looks like, head over to the Clean Commit work page for a few great examples.
5. Find the Advertising That Works
Google and Facebook ads are your best bets. They’re highly advanced platforms with very mature algorithms and enormous reach.
Influential conversion specialists like Julian Shapiro recommend sticking exclusively to Facebook or Google ads. We tend to agree, having tried a number of the other platforms with limited success.
However, you only know what works when you test it.
Companies like MailChimp got traction from advertising on podcasts and billboards.
If you have a bit of money to invest in advertising, spread it across all the platforms you can find. Here’s a brief list to get you starter: Linkedin, Pinterest, YouTube, TikTok, Instagram, Facebook, Google, and Reddit.
6. Always be Building Links
Google needs a signal that your site is worthy of traffic. Backlinks are that signal.
If you’re not building links to your site, you’re not giving Google a reason to send more traffic to your site.
Building links is a challenging process. First, you need to convince other website owners to spend the time adding links to their sites. Achieving this arrangement usually requires an exchange of content or money, or both.
But it’s worth it, and you need to be doing it constantly if you want Google to send you more traffic.
7. Pick the Right Technology
Each website technology is designed with a purpose in mind.
WordPress is an open-source blogging platform. Squarespace was created for non-coding entrepreneurs. Finally, Shopify was designed to get a store up and running in minutes.
Every platform has different strengths and weaknesses. For instance, WordPress paired with WooCommerce has an inferior point of sale experience and is the wrong choice for a merchant with a brick-and-mortar store.
Squarespace is designed for people that can’t code. As a result, it carries a lot of extra unused functionality, making it slow and inflexible at scale.
Shopify is a great all-around platform, but it’s proprietary software, meaning that it lives on the Shopify servers, and some things can’t be changed.
Creating custom Shopify stores is slower than developing with just about any other technology. In addition, they don’t offer git-based version control, making it hard for multiple developers to work on the same store.
As a general rule, for the majority, we would recommend Shopify, even though it has some flaws.
For businesses that are making decent money and want to take the next step, we recommend going headless with Shopify. This process is a bit technical, but all it means is adding a custom interface to a Shopify store instead of using their tools.
Going headless is a growth play. It speeds up the performance of a Shopify store, allows a flexible and unique interface while keeping all the excellent features that Shopify users love.
But going headless has a high initial cost and isn’t the right choice for small businesses.
So the moral of the story is to pick the right technology or talk to someone that can help you make the right choice.
8. Google Likes Optimised Websites
Google released a major algorithm update called the “User Experience Update” in June 2021. This update penalizes websites that don’t pass the Core Web Vitals assessment.
If your site is slow and poorly optimized, you’ll find over time that you receive less traffic.
Google rarely reveals anything about how they rank websites. However, their recent announcement regarding Core Web Vitals is an exception to that rule. They’ve clearly stated that websites that pass the Core Web Vitals will rank higher in the search results.
You can test whether your site passes the Core Web Vitals assessment by heading over to Google’s PageSpeed Insights page.
If you find that your site is failing the test, you’ll need to make some code changes to your site. Unless you know how to play around with your website’s code, you’re best to reach out to a developer for help.
9. Email is Your Friend
Email is the most cost-effective way to convert customers. For starters, they already know who you are (assuming they opted in to be on your list!!), and you don’t need to break the ice.
Even if you’re only selling products and don’t have a blog or other content on your site, you should consider putting effort into capturing leads. Here’s a great guide on how to get started with lead generation.
If you’re not already writing a newsletter to keep your customers updated about upcoming events, new products, or special sales, then you should seriously consider it.
Selling to an existing customer is significantly cheaper than paying for traffic to get new customers.
There are also many excellent emailing solutions on the market (although they’re not cheap). Our personal favorite is ActiveCampaign, but some other well-known options are MailChimp, Keap (formerly Infusionsoft), Ontraport, and ConvertKit.
10. Get Creative With YouTube
YouTube is the second most visited website in the world.
If you’re spending time and money optimizing your site for Google but forgetting about YouTube, then you need to revise your strategy.
The best thing about using YouTube for eCommerce is that you can separate yourself from the pack easily by purchasing affordable, high-quality recording equipment like a mirrorless DSLR and podcast mic, then getting creative with how you feature your products.
Unboxing videos can go viral these days. That’s the kind of attention you want for the products in your store.
Winning at eCommerce is incredibly difficult, especially if your store isn’t ten years old with an established customer base.
To make it, you’ll need to sell the right thing, the right way, and have a bit of luck.
These 10 tips for improving your eCommerce performance should give you a few new and unique ideas to get your store heading in the right direction.
Author’s Bio: Lori Wade is a writer interested in a wide range of spheres from eCommerce to web development and new technologies. If you are interested in the above topics, you can find her on LinkedIn. Read and take over Lori’s useful insights!