Ecommerce: Common Mistakes and the Need for Continuous Improvement

As in any field, you need the right tools, expertise, and determination to reach the top of your ecommerce game. It’s imperative that you prepare your brand for success by avoiding common pitfalls as you build and maintain your ecommerce site. From user experience to targeting the appropriate audience to choosing the best ecommerce platform in the first place, mistakes are easy to make. Learn from others to keep your brand on track as we outline critical ecommerce blunders to avoid.

 

A POORLY DEFINED AND UNDERSTOOD TARGET AUDIENCE

One of the main benefits gained by truly understanding your target audience is that you are better able to create an experience that resonates with them. It also allows you to create brand messaging that persuades them to make not only their original purchase but to continue a relationship with your brand for future purchases.

The best way to do this is through market research to make sure there is a genuine need for your products and that you are able to communicate what you have to offer in a language that your target audience will understand. The marketing strategy you develop from your research will let you keep your target audience front and center.

By keeping in mind your ideal customer, you can better position your brand to put products in front of your target audience. It will also help you communicate how your products stand out from the competition and why they are a better answer to whatever the consumer is looking for. This type of marketing research usually involves:

  • Knowing which values are important to your target audience.

  • Determining where and how those consumers engage with online content.

  • Testing what kind of language resonates best with them.

  • Learning the common pain points of your customers.

  • Understanding what they’ve tried in the past to solve their challenge and why those solutions have or haven’t worked.

  • Addressing which pain points your products solve for your target audience.

 

CHOOSING THE WRONG ECOMMERCE PLATFORM

Your choice of ecommerce platform can make or break your business. The way you showcase your products, attract and sell to customers, and how you scale your business over time all depend on your platform choice. There are a variety of factors you should take into consideration as you examine what different ecommerce platforms have to offer:

  • How you plan to scale your business – you don’t want the platform you choose to limit your business growth.

  • The amount of control you expect to have over your website and the quality of security you want to offer.

  • The tools with which your platform needs to integrate – you want to choose a platform that works with any existing systems you have and want to continue using.

  • Budget constraints – not just for the initial purchase but also to cover expenses related to training, updates, upgrades, etc.

  • Whether you desire a template or a custom design – if customization is important for your brand, you are in a different situation than a company that is happy choosing to work from a basic template.

  • The type of experience your customers expect.

 

USING A WEBSITE DESIGN THAT ISN’T SCALABLE

Your initial choice of an ecommerce platform sets the foundation for your ecommerce success. Thus, the importance of selecting a website design that is set up to allow for future growth. Your ecommerce site should offer a wide range of products. It should be able to accommodate the expansion of your brand into new markets and allow you to integrate more complex features as they are needed. Include this topic on your list of questions for your web developer or the ecommerce platform representative with whom you are working.

 

OFFERING POOR USER EXPERIENCE

Your online store should be well-structured and easy to navigate. Provide search functionality with text search options and filters by category. Make check-out easy with minimal forms and as few steps as possible in the buying/check-out process. Don’t force customers to register before they can purchase – this requirement is one of the biggest conversion killers. Use only high-quality photography and images so visitors see a clean, attractive, and professional presentation of your products and services.

Mobile optimization is key for eCommerce success. 61% of people have a better opinion of brands when they have a positive mobile experience so ensure that your online store (and the entire site) is built with responsive design and shows consistently over multiple devices and screens. Remember to test your site functionality regularly on both desktop and mobile platforms.

 

CONTENT THAT IS NOT SEO-FRIENDLY

The content on your ecommerce site should be created not only with your customers in mind, but also optimized for search engines. That being said, the ultimate goal of SEO is not simply to please search engines, it is to generate more awareness, traffic, and sales for your business without spending ad money.

Product descriptions should appeal to consumers and also rank high on search engine results pages. It is all about keywords and tags to help search engines properly read and recognize content on your website. Images should be named to let picture-blind Google bots understand exactly what is being shown in the photographs. Keep SEO in mind with dialed down sales pitches, breadcrumb navigation, and optimized page loading speed.

 

POOR CUSTOMER SERVICE

Providing poor customer service is a quick way to end your tenure as a business owner. Customer loyalty is built through positive emotional experiences. Things like slow response time, lack of brand contact information, and interactions with rude or impatient staff will cause you to lose customers and make it difficult to acquire new ones.

Be reachable. Provide an online contact form, email, a phone number, and social media account information. And then back it up by responding quickly to any inquiries.

Address customer complaints in a rational and professional manner and resolve issues quickly.

Personalize your customers’ experience. Offer product recommendations and related products based on your visitors’ prior purchasing patterns.

Offer the use of decentralized web payments with options like PayPal and GooglePay. This practice doesn’t require consumers to completely leave what they are doing to complete a transaction, eliminates the need for customers who shop across different brands to provide the same personal information time and time again, and provides an additional layer of security all around.

 

 

In addition to avoiding the mistakes outlined above, you’ll get better results from your ecommerce website when your company commits to continuously improving all aspects of the site. Conversion rate optimization is not a one-time thing, it is a continuous process. The world of ecommerce is evolving every day as are customer shopping behaviors. Your brand needs to put in the work necessary to keep up with those changes.

Some people think of website improvement on only an aesthetic level. While visual design is important, the true purpose of continuous site improvement is to increase conversions of all types – to move site visitors through the purchasing funnel as efficiently and painlessly as possible. In order to build and continue building a profitable ecommerce business, here are three steps to help you sustain ecommerce improvement and growth.

 

INSIGHTS

Sometimes even a small tweak to your website will increase conversions so start by gaining insights that will help you affect changes. These insights will help lead discussions with marketers, designers, and others in your organization. You should definitely set up analytics for your ecommerce site to learn more about the success and challenges of landing pages, search queries, exit pages, and so on. Those analytics will help you understand what is working and what needs to be tweaked.

You may decide to use A/B testing, online surveys, usability testing, competitor benchmarking or a number of other methods that will provide the insights you need. Your team can determine what sort of testing and analysis will further help you understand what types of changes might be implemented to gain deeper insights into users, market trends, etc. to better increase the effectiveness of your ecommerce site.

 

CREATE AND DELIVER RESULTS

The insights gained will allow your team to create and deliver reliable results. The most effective practice is to utilize the insights you’ve gained from studying website analytics and customer behaviors to focus on a single objective. Any changes or improvements implemented should boost that objective. For example, instead of setting an objective of gaining new insights about your customers, set a specific objective of understanding why visitors abandon their shopping cart. Tie the insight into one thing.

In order to sustain continuous improvement on your ecommerce site, you need to move beyond the “what”. If you change the text on a call to action button from “click here” to “I want to download my free book” your focus should be on why and how that new text better communicates the value of the offer to your consumers.

 

TEST YOUR CHANGES

Truly, test everything. It will help reduce risks by eliminating assumptions. Testing can validate, or invalidate, the changes you’ve implemented and furthers your understanding of the performance of various aspects of your ecommerce site. The type of tests you conduct is dependent on what you are trying to achieve and there are several options.

A/B Split testing is the most common type of tests that you can conduct since it deals with a single element and you can have unlimited variations. You can also test multiple elements and various combinations of those elements with multivariate testing. Or you can compare benefits and risks, before and after, with serial testing.

 

 

CONCLUSION

The best foundation for a successful ecommerce site is built by avoiding these common mistakes:

  • A poorly defined and understood target audience

  • Choosing the wrong ecommerce platform

  • Choosing a website design that isn’t scalable

  • Offering poor user experience

  • Content that is not SEO-friendly

  • Poor customer service

 

The best catalyst for ecommerce success is a strong growth strategy that is created by:

  • Gaining insights

  • Creating and delivering results

  • Testing (everything)

 

The experts at Strategy Driven Marketing would love to learn more about your brand and business goals. We have extensive experience helping organizations create and maintain ecommerce websites that are an expression of their brand and direct channel to their customers. From creative and front-end development to functionality, responsiveness, and more, SDM can help you provide an amazing user experience that will create a buzz about your brand and keep customers coming back time after time. Contact us today to learn more!