7 tips for running a successful online shop

Posted by Thomas Coppen on 17 Nov, 2015
View comments Marketing
Setting up an online emporium is easy these days, with numerous website builders and ecommerce platforms available to get you started. However, with so much competition flooding the internet, it can be difficult to stand out from the crowd and to convince shoppers to pass through your virtual checkout.

All digital entrepreneurs should take note of these seven top tips, guaranteed to boost the bottom line for any online business…


1. Keyword optimization

It’s estimated that as much as 70% of all online sales start with users visiting their chosen search engine, so optimizing your site with the right keywords can make all the difference as to how highly you rank and whether or not your target audience will notice you.

Wordtracker is a fantastic tool for helping you find the right words, and I’m not just saying that because I’m writing a guest post on their blog! The results are based on real searches by real people, producing up to 1,000 relevant keywords in a single search in their basic plan. Higher plans will give you more.

Focusing on the words and phrases that shoppers search for will only increase the likelihood of your rankings going through the roof, and be sure to use as many variations as possible, allowing the search engines to read your site with ease.

Indeed, it’s important to not overdo it, as ‘keyword stuffing’, i.e repeating the same thing over and over, will hurt your rankings and could even get you banned from the likes of Google. Likewise, using poorly written sentences in an effort to match search terms will not do you any favors. Stay on top of this by using SEOCHAT to check your keyword density.


2. PPC

Pay Per Click advertising is a great way to get instant results, capable of delivering quick wins and long-term success. In layman’s terms, it works by only charging you when people actually click on your ad and are taken to your site.

Using mediums such as Google AdWords and Bing Ads, you can bid on your chosen keywords each day, guaranteeing that your adverts appear at the top for popular search terms. This makes it an extremely cost-effective form of advertising, and puts you front and centre of your target demographic.

Google recently launched a new product called AdWords Customer Match which helps users target loyal customers and reach them more effectively, giving users a competitive edge.


3. Email marketing

Email marketing accounts for over 7% of all ecommerce transactions, making it the second most effective ecommerce marketing channel behind search (15.8%).

You can A/B test which products people are interested in, or perhaps send discount codes to loyal customers, encouraging repeat business. Additionally, you could potentially remind would-be customers that they have incomplete transactions in abandoned shopping carts.

Other successful email marketing strategies could centre on:

  • Sale notifications

  • Milestone Campaigns for Birthdays and Anniversaries

  • Seasonal events, such as Christmas gift ideas

  • Newsletters full with relevant, interesting and fun content

  • Special offers

For more detailed inspiration, check out Wordtracker’s Email marketing 101.


4. Social media optimization

Social media gives you a chance to showcase your products in such a way that your audience gets to see why they need what you’re selling.

You get a chance to inspire and tell a story as well as build a community of followers – all of whom you have the opportunity to convince to become customers.

It also gives you a chance to swiftly address customer enquiries or complaints and show the general public that you respect your audience and respond quickly, which in itself will build confidence in your shop.

Each follow, Like, Snapchat or regram strengthens your brand and makes you more appealing. Your popularity and reputation will secure sales and ensure that every one of the customers that you win  through social media becomes not only your patron but also your brand ambassador. Their endorsement and shares across social networks are invaluable.


5. Fast loading times

With the availability of fast broadband and wifi, we sometimes forget the importance of fast loading times. If someone visits your shop and it takes an age to load, they will most likely click off your site and visit elsewhere, before the page has had a chance to time out.

Speed is essential. An infographic shared on Mashable shows that 1 in 4 people abandon a website that doesn’t load within 4 seconds. A great tool for measuring the speed of your website is the Pingdom Website Speed Test.


6. Easy payment process

Your checkout page is the last part of the shopping process. If you make it hard for people to complete their transaction, they won’t buy.

  • Have several payment methods available

  • Ensure that your checkout page matches the rest of your shop

  • Don’t redirect people

  • Make errors easy to fix (for instance the ability to remove items from a shopping cart should be clear and easy).

  • Inspire confidence by displaying security certificates

  • Have clear calls to action


7. Product reviews

88% of consumers consult a review when making a purchase, and 60% are more likely to purchase from sites that have customer reviews. Product reviews inspire confidence and are a great way to get your goods validated by a third party.

Consumer reviews are significantly more trusted – nearly 12 times more – than descriptions that come from manufacturers, so it’s wise to let people share their words of wisdom with the world. You can only do so much to make the sale, so why not let your customers seal the deal for you?

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