Winning is never easy, but losing is…

ecommerce

I thought that a quick overview of the key things you need to do to make a winning ecommerce business are worth repeating, as although winning is never easy, losing is.

If you run an ecommerce business but haven’t followed all the practices below, then I can guarantee that you will improve business performance by doing so.

In my opinion there are just a handful of basics that every single ecommerce website needs to follow or risk severely denting business prospects. Some are so basic that I’ll assume these are already in place. Namely, great service, reassurance on your site about your legitimacy, sufficient product information, competitive, but not lowest, pricing and an analytics package (Google Analytics is a good free start) installed so that you can measure results.

The other three must-haves worth highlighting are…

SEO

Search engine optimisation isn’t a black art, and nor should you attempt to make it one and beat the system. Instead, you need to pack your site with genuine information related to your products. Even headings have to be about the main topic, as should the filenames of your images, e.g. “Image234.gif” is bad, “Skateboard_33.gif” is good (provided you are selling skateboards).

Similarly, relevant links from other places such as skateboard discussion sites are gold dust and will raise your Google profile.

However, that is far from the full story, it’s just supposed to whet your appetite. There’s lots more free material online. So either read up more and take action, or use a service that someone recommends, but be wary as there are many sharks in this particular pond.

PPC

Everything already mentioned will impact the success of pay-per-click (PPC) marketing. So if your website rates well for SEO, Google is more likely to give it a higher quality score, which is likely to lead to more successful PPC. The great thing about PPC is that it is measurable.

So although PPC doesn’t work for everyone, there is no excuse for not experimenting. My company’s ecommerce software powers around 5,000 stores. The one thing that stands out among the most successful ones is their aggressive use of PPC. And I’m talking about businesses that have grown from nothing to tens of millions in sales.

However, more than almost anywhere else, successful use of PPC requires attention to detail and hard work. Again, agencies can help, but buyer beware.

Email marketing

Although the use of email marketing to find new customers is controversial, it’s much less so if the targets have already ordered from you. And it’s difficult to argue that you shouldn’t use email marketing, at least to customers that haven’t bought for a while. After all, if they are never coming back the cost of offending them is zero anyway.

Winning is a great feeling but unfortunately, like Olympic athletics, you won’t win unless you work hard. Everything said here has been proved true over my 17 years of ecommerce experience and I hope that it can work for you too.


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Chris Barling

Chris Barling co-founded ecommerce software supplier, SellerDeck (formerly Actinic Software) in 1996. He has over 30 years’ experience at the corporate end of the IT industry. He is a prolific writer for a large range of small business media and has also published three books on ecommerce.
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Chris Barling co-founded ecommerce software supplier, SellerDeck (formerly Actinic Software) in 1996. He has over 30 years’ experience at the corporate end of the IT industry. He is a prolific writer for a large range of small business media and has also published three books on ecommerce.