Is your company getting the most out of your online potential? Follow the lead of major retailers like Apple, OfficeMax and The Gap, and improve an online presence to capture sales above your physical store sales. Online shopping is not just a passing trend. Companies large and small have discovered that e-commerce is the key to reaching all of their prospective customers. Miss out, and you’re giving up potential profits!

Running an online store can be challenging, but once you know the basics, you’ll be ready to create a plan and set up an online store that brings in sales and fulfills your customers’ needs.

Tips for Improving Your Web Store

Just as a physical store is made with bricks and mortar, a web store needs a solid foundation, too – such as these essential usability features that help customers shop with ease.

  • Use email addresses as usernames – Your customers’ email addresses are ideal usernames, because they are each unique and easy to remember.
  • Add Breadcrumbs to help with navigation – Don’t let your customers get lost! Breadcrumbs are navigation aids that help them know where they are at all times, which prevents frustration and lost sales.Breadcrumbs

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  • Highlight contact information – Customers want to know how to contact you without searching all over. Build credibility by putting a phone number and email in the footer on every page address where they can be easily found, such as in the top right hand corner of the website.
  • Don’t hide the search box – Help customers find what they want by keeping the search field visible on every page. Search Box
  • Show related products – Customers are likely to purchase additional items when they see related or recommended products. For example, when a customer orders running shoes, you can show them a popular running sock.
  • Don’t neglect the call to action – You have to ask for the sale. Use promotions, sales and special offers to get customers to click on the “add to cart” button!
  • Instill trust – Many would-be online shoppers still feel unsafe submitting credit card information over the web. Make your e-commerce site easy to trust with encryption and an SSL certificate. ecommerce security
  • Use the right online content – Help customers through the ordering process with clear, thorough information, presented in short paragraphs and bulleted lists. Too many confusing instructions will entice them not to buy, and to leave your site in a hurry!
  • Keep the shopping cart visible – Make sure the shopping cart is visible throughout the entire process. It’s even better to show a summary of the cart’s contents.
  • Build a mobile friendly site – As technology has evolved so has Internet access. Having a mobile responsive site creates an answer to a variety of mobile devices the consumer uses to connect for their online activity. According to Nielsen, mobile web adoption is growing 8 times faster than web adoption did in the 90’s and early 2000’s.

Paid Advertising – Creating Instant Customers

If your customers are online, your company should be, too! Social media networks can be an ideal place to establish your presence. You can set up pages on popular platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest, and post photos, messages and offers to your customers for free.

Or, you can try paid advertising:

  • Google Adwords – A Google Adwords campaign is an easy way to enter the world of Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising. Your ads are featured on Google’s search engine results pages when users enter keywords for products like yours. You’ll likely see instant results, and as the name implies, you’ll pay according to the number of clicks your link receives.
  • Display advertising – You’ve seen plenty of banner ads on websites, because they’re effective. You can purchase space on popular blogs, sites related to your product or on your local newspaper’s website. Even if customers don’t click, display ads raise awareness of your company and help establish your brand.
  • Content marketing – Content networks are advertisements that connect ads with keywords you bid on. When users view online content that contains your keywords, your ads will appear on the page. It’s a great way for small business to start online paid advertising.
  • Understanding CPC, CPL and CPA – What’s the difference? CPC means “cost per click” and is just like PPC (pay per click) – the publisher is paid each time a user clicks on the ad. CPL stands for “cost per lead,” and is often used by companies that want website visitors to sign up for something, such as a downloadable report. When a user enters an email address, the publisher gets paid for the lead. CPA means “cost per acquisition,” and refers to the advertising paying when the user takes an action, like making a purchase.

Advertising on YouTube

Just about everyone enjoys watching videos online. Video content has a long-lasting impact and is highly sharable through social media. Many online shoppers prefer watching a video to reading text. Take advantage of this audience with your own videos, whether you provide instructions on how to paint a wall or describe the selling features of hiking boots.

Video advertising on YouTube can appear before another video is played, on the page as a video plays or in YouTube’s search results. The right keywords will help your customers find your ads, and you only pay when users click to watch your video. YouTube also offers free analytics tools, so you can see how your ads are performing – and increase the return on your investment.

How Google Analytics Can Help

Google Analytics can help you leverage all the data related to your website users’ activities, so you can better deliver what they want. Through Analytics, you can learn where your customers are coming from, as well as how they interact with your site and decide to purchase – or not.

  • Acquisition data will show you which of your marketing channels and campaigns are succeeding.
  • Engagement data will show how many visitors exit (or bounce) from your site after viewing a single page, as well as how many sign up for updates or newsletters. You can learn which items are being added to shopping carts or wish lists, and if visitors are clicking on social media icons to “like” an item or share it with their friends. You can also measure how many people look at a product without purchasing it – valuable information!
  • Conversion data can help you measure things like overall revenue, average order amount, repeat customer spend, the return on your Adwords investment and customer satisfaction.

E-Commerce Can Enhance Your Business

It’s clear that brick-and-mortar stores of any size can benefit from an e-commerce website. Reaching more of your prospective customers, wherever they happen to be, is just good business!

About the Author(s)

Dean Vella

Dean has had a diverse career focused in two industries, finance and marketing. He currently is managing web content, SEO, internet marketing campaigns and visitor growth of the online programs of several universities through their partnerships with Bisk Education. | LinkedIn | @Loco4SEO | More from Dean               

SEO Specialist, Bisk Education