I'm often asked to evaluate ways to increase business on e-commerce websites. In this edition of the Daily Golden Nugget I'll review a few of my typical suggestions. Remember that these are just suggestions and you should consider each one individually for yourself, and if they will work.
1. Add a blog to your website. Use this blog to build a library of information that Google can index and then bring more people to your site organically. Here's an old Nugget explaining onsite blogging vs. offsite blogging.
2. Increased number of products in your online catalog. I've measured the long term effects of increasing your product size and previously reported those here. Longer product descriptions always help this organic increase even more.
3. Organize your product catalog into categories based on targeted keywords. To do this, you would first figure out which keywords are important to you, for example, engagement rings or anniversary rings, then you would create a product category on your website. Each product category would have only those types of products in it.
Alternatively, instead of targeting keywords, you could organize your product catalog by designer line name.
1. Increase the speed of your website. To do this, you would need to evaluate the physical server speed of your website hosting company, and move to a faster server if they have it. If they don't have faster servers, then you should consider switching to a different hosting company.
Another way to speed up your website is to evaluate the content management system (CMS) you are using. Each CMS has their own unique methods of database tweaking and speed improvements. Talk to your website programmer to find out how to do this. I'll warn you now that some systems are difficult to configure and you might be better to switch to a different CMS.
2. Use video tracking software to watch what your visitors are doing. The cost of video tracking is within reach of every retail jeweler now, and the results are very good. Take a look at this Nugget from December 2013 to see how video tracking works.
3. Use Google Analytics to measure funnels and goals so you understand how your website is working, then improve it. For full information on this you should refer back to my previous Nugget on goal flow reports.
1. Post to the social networks and engage your audience. This seems obvious now, but there is so much you can do on social networks, and the techniques change all the time. Even if you hire an agency to manage your social media activity, you should still monitor what they are doing. If you don't hire an agency, then you should have an in-house social media manager that takes care of this for you.
2. Pay Per Click advertising, or Google AdWords. Google AdWords is the largest online paid ad service but there are others. You could pay for banner ads on your local newspaper's website, or other local businesses; just make sure that all the ads you pay for include the rel=nofollow attribute in the link or you will get into serious trouble with Google.
Whenever you pay for local advertising, you should always ask if there is an add-on service that will also allow you to advertising on their website. Newspapers and coupon mailers might have bundled pricing for these services.
The best approach for AdWords is to hire an agency. This will get expensive, so make sure you have the budget for at least $1000 per month if you want to do it correctly.
1. Provide personal service guarantees. This might seem a little strange for a website to guarantee "personalized" service. As a small business owner, every order on your website is naturally handled with personalized service, but the customer ordering doesn't know how large or small your operation is. On your website you could indicate a personalized service guarantee, but then during the order fulfillment process you need to demonstrate this service somehow.
One easy way to demonstrate this is to make a phone call or send a non automated email that shows a personal touch. You could simply thank the person for their order, but if you're making the effort to contact them personally you should have something else to ask, or give them, which would truly represent that personalized service.
You could call the person to ask them what type of gift box they want. In fact, you could under promise and over deliver by showing one type of gift box on your website but then actually have two types in your store, perhaps a different color or style. This would give you the freedom to call the customer and ask them which gift box they want.
Imagine the customer's surprise as you call them and explain that you just got a new gift box that you haven't had time to put on the website yet and you'd like to offer it to them instead of the standard box. Don't tell them that you'll never put the box on the site; keep that as your own little secret.
2. Another service suggestion idea is to have a 31 day return policy rather than just 30 days. That extra day will stand out from every other website. If you would really like to impress then you can bump that to a 60 or 90 day return policy. Don't be afraid of the longer return policies. Test this idea out for yourself for a week or two and see if your sales increase. People like the comfort of knowing they have a longer return policy, even if they don't use it.
3. Use short videos around your site in unexpected places. The Frequently Asked Questions page is usually pretty boring and would make a perfect place to insert a video where you explain the exact same thing they could simply read. You could have a thank-you video appear on your contact us page after they submit the contact form. In that video, you could introduce yourself and tell them that you will make every effort to answer their email as fast as possible.
As I said above, these are just some suggestions. The key to making your e-commerce website stand out, and generate more sales, is to figure out how to best serve your customers, lead them through the sales process, and surprise them with unexpected service.
Even if they are onetime buyers, their purchase experience could turn them into brand advocates that could write good online reviews and talk about you to people they know.