A colleague building a high-end fashion e-commerce site reached out asking for help. She is pulling her hair out about how best to address a common challenge – how best to drive customers to her website without having to spend a ton of money. “What are simple things I can do, Eric, that don’t cost me anything?” Not only does she need to drive traffic, but she needs to drive the RIGHT traffic…the kind of traffic that will buy $200+ dresses, shoes and jewelry. The site has really nice items. However, just because the site exists online customers will not automatically find it and start browsing…let alone buying! Gone are the late 1990’s!
How to drive the right traffic to an online store can be a daunting task, but fortunately there are a lot of tools that can be employed and when used strategically, can be very effective. These tools include search engine optimization (SEO), email marketing, social media, and content marketing (which influences EVERYTHING). These tools are free to implement and tips and tricks are easily found online. However, the biggest hurdle for the business is to implement the tools strategically and to find the time to optimize. This takes time.
The next series of posts will share insight on each tool and how best to implement from the standpoint of a budget strapped…or no budget 🙂 business. Links to additional online content from relevant thought leaders will also be sprinkled in each post.
The first question my high-end fashion e-commerce colleague asked focused on the immediate need of search engine optimization (SEO). Or, what are the easy things that one can do to help potential buyers find the online store and start buying. There are 3 easy steps that can be taken to optimize a site to be found by search engines. However, before any of these things can be implemented, the store/site must have web analytics tools in place to track traffic and e-commerce activity. The most ubiquitous tools are Google Analytics for E-commerce or Yahoo Web Analytics for E-commerce . Unfortunately, I’ve come across several website managers who have the traffic analytics in place, but have not “turned on” the e-commerce analytics. Both analytics must be enabled to build the right plans that drive sales.
Step 1: Identify what keywords drive site customers that result in a sale.
This almost feels like, “well, duh!” This makes total sense, right? Unfortunately, many e-commerce site managers focus on understanding what keywords drive traffic only…and don’t follow the analytics to the sale. For example, the term “fashion design” may be a top phrase users type into Google that leads them to a store’s front page. However, these users typically do not buy a dress or a pair of shows. Additionally, the term “vintage coat” may be a low traffic driver, but a high percentage of customers end up making a purchase. The big tip here is to look for the unique keywords that customers use to find your site and make purchases.
The biggest hurdle for not tracking traffic all the way through to a sale is implementing the analytics tools and understanding how to use/run the reports. The implementation information is readily available and any website or store developer can implement these trackers correctly. How-to guides that define reporting are available online too, but they take time to digest. The site manager and business owner must invest the time needed to understand how to unlock the analytical power available. Yes, it’s daunting, but the more a tool is used, the easier it comes to understand..and the deeper the understanding the more the data becomes available.
Step 2: Identify what pages on the site are receiving the most keyword traffic and driving the most sales.
This step builds on Step 1 above by focusing analysis on the site pages users land on after clicking on keyword search results. Step 1 focuses on what are the top keywords used for users to find a site. Step 2 focuses analysis on what are the top site pages that receive this keyword traffic. In short, this analysis will inform the site manager where within the site potential customers are landing and buying. This is powerful information, but to obtain this data all site pages must be indexed (or crawled to use a late 90s term) by the search engine.
The question that pops to mind is, “Well, how do I determine if all my site pages are indexed?” Fortunately, it’s easy to get a sense of this on Google by simply typing in the search box: “site: YOURSITEDOMAIN”. All pages of the site indexed by Google will appear in the search results. You will be surprised by how many site pages ARE NOT indexed by Google.
On a side note, inform the site manager immediately of the site pages not indexed by Google. Google Analytics code will need to be added to each of these pages to ensure they are properly indexed.
When the analytics are correctly implemented, the tool will clearly indicate what pages receive the highest volume of traffic and generate the most sales. Why is this information valuable and what do I do with it? The data is valuable for it tells the site manager how customers are finding the site, where users are landing in the site and what customers are buying. This intelligence is invaluable in understanding how to drive more traffic to these pages and products! See Step 3!
Step 3: Build site content that includes the top keywords and point users to the highest sales generating items.
Once Step 1 and 2 are completed, acting on this information guides completing Step 3. Two areas to focus on are the ecommerce site home page and on the pages generating the most sales. For example, ensure that the highest sales generating keywords and phrases are mentioned on the site home page. If “vintage coat” is a high sales generating term, ensure the term is referenced in the home page copy and includes a link that points to relevant products in the store. Another option is to consider creating a separate “vintage coat” category on the site home page to more distinctly differentiate these items.
The second area to focus on improving are the pages where these most sold items are listed. Continuing with the “vintage coat” example, there may be an option of developing a store page that focuses only on vintage coats. The page could include vintage coat items for sale and other content around vintage clothing and relevant accessories available in other areas of the site.
Knowing vintage coats are hot selling items, the site manager may also want to build out content around this topic off the ecommerce site as a strategy for driving more customers. I will focus in another post around using content marketing to drive ecommerce sales.
Search engine optimization is a big topic and I’ve covered just the surface level concepts here. However, implementing these concepts will have an immediate impact on sales. Dig deeper into this topic by reviewing the Google Search Engine Optimization Guide and courses or attend online classes on Lynda.com. Lynda.com is A GREAT SITE!!