Patrick Foster: 6 Marketing Blunders Entrepreneurs Make When Starting Out In Ecommerce

The way we shop is changing. As consumers we are always looking for the next best thing when it comes to products, services and convenience. As online shopping continues to become more popular, with total online spending by New Zealanders in January up 16 percent compared to last year, smart ecommerce entrepreneurs need to be prepared to up their game. From SEO and A/B testing to web design and content marketing, there’s a lot that needs doing to ensure your online store stands out. Unfortunately, not everybody gets it right.

Here are 6 marketing mistakes you should avoid when launching your great ecommerce venture.

Putting out crappy content

If you haven’t heard it already, then it’s time you did: content is everything to an ecommerce store. Short, poor quality content will do you considerable damage, harming both the user experience and your SEO ranking. Google has made some pretty significant updates in the last few years that dictate what makes web content good or bad, and you guessed it – high quality, informative and well thought-out content wins the day. Every day.

Not only does your content need to be well-written, there also needs to be enough of it. Ideally, you want to be creating new, relevant content on a regular basis, which is why it’s a great idea to include a blog on your ecommerce website. Product pages are a particular bugbear, with many lingering around 300 words per page. This is not enough to convince a potential customer of the benefits of your product, nor is it enough to sweeten the search engines.

Good content marketing will get you a long way. Do your keyword research to find out exactly what users are looking for and how often – Google Adwords is a useful tool you may want to try. The aim is to make yourself useful and informative – don’t just stick to the bare minimum word count, or you will find yourself with the bare minimum of visitors.

Not making use of email marketing

Your customers’ email addresses are like gold dust. If you’re not collecting them yet, you should be. The majority of people check their email accounts every day – and wouldn’t you like your prospects to find you there? Email is one of the most effective ways to connect with your target audience, even more so than social media. After search engines, it’s where you want to be focusing your energy.

There are lots of ways to use email marketing, whether it’s sending your customers special discount codes, following up on abandoned shopping carts (more on that later), announcing new product releases or sharing an inspirational story. The most important thing is to make sure there is a clear incentive for the customer to open and read your email. A/B testing is a good way to see what’s working well in your email marketing campaign, and what isn’t.

Pushy advertising

There is all too much of this, everywhere. And who knows why, because research is showing time and again that pushing content at consumers doesn’t work. Yes, you want your target audience to notice your products or services. But getting pushy is more than just ineffective – it’s off-putting.

Creating an effective advert is a fine art. It is not enough to simply spell out the details of your product. Boring! Nor is it good practice to be aggressively salesy. Instead, aim to make your advertising current, engaging and relevant. If you can inject a little charisma, all the better.

Instructional or industry-led content tends to do well, as it demonstrates your knowledge of the industry and positions you as an authority – ideal for fostering trust. Give your audience what they’re searching for (remember that keyword research) and they will reward you with their custom and word of mouth.

Overspending on the website

It’s a very common misconception that a professional website will cost you thousands of dollars. But it absolutely doesn’t need to – not unless your business requires a highly bespoke backend solution or functionality that can’t be achieved with an out-of-the-box alternative. Yes, it needs to look sleek and professional. And it can, for a tiny fraction of what web agencies will quote you. Of course, you can always shell out for a little extra development work if you need it later on.

A good way to get a feel for what’s out there is to make use of free online store builder trials, which will enable you to experience just how easy it is to take an existing template – pre-optimised for mobile and tablet – and customise it with everything you need to make it your own. And bonus: with the money you save, you can further invest in your marketing and SEO efforts. At the end of the day, that’s what is going to get you customers and sales. Take a look at these Top eCommerce Technologies & Platforms Used By New Zealand Retailers.

No follow-up for abandoned shopping carts

When people abandon their shopping cart on your website, it can be for a number of reasons. It’s worth doing some testing to figure out what’s putting people off last minute, whether it’s an arduous checkout process, unexpected last-minute costs or lack of trust in the payment system. However, it is sometimes the case that people simply leave items in their basket because they get been distracted. And if so, you still have a chance to win them back.

Retargeting is key to bringing back lost customers or those who didn’t have time to complete their purchase. The average shopping cart abandonment rate for an online store is a little over 67 percent – that’s an awful lot of potential revenue being missed out one. Whether through email, advertising or social media, have a plan in place to reach out to customers who didn’t quite make it over the finish line. Sometimes, all they need is a nudge.

Being too impatient

It is very important to set your expectations on the right track from the outset of starting an ecommerce business. Even if you do everything by the book, you can’t expect miraculous success, thousands of customers and a no.1 spot on Google overnight. These things take time.

Always be wary of quick fixes that promise to get you there faster. The best, organic marketing techniques, whether SEO or social media, take time and careful attention to reap the benefits. Schemes that promise faster results are often spammy and could lead to your site being penalised further down the line, as well as bugging your customers along the way. This applies to all of your digital marketing efforts. It is better to do things the right way from the outset, than become too impatient and let your business down. If it’s a serious venture, then it’s worth it.

Hopefully outlining these common mistakes will help you to avoid making them yourself. What steps can you take now to improve your ecommerce marketing efforts, draw in more customers and increase conversions?

About The Author – Patrick Foster: Freelance Ecommerce Expert & Teacher

I love nothing more than enabling others to make a success of their online businesses. I share informative ecommerce and marketing content with digital websites worldwide, and I hope to bring some useful insight that will help your business flourish. You can read more from Patrick on his blog here or follow him on Twitter here.

One Comment

  1. Hey, Patrick Foster! Thanks a lot for sharing a great piece of information about the starting out in e-commerce.

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