Unlike lead generation and service-based business models, e-commerce marketing is much more straightforward. People want your product. You sell that product. It’s a matter of connecting the two parties. Easy enough, right?
Unfortunately, this is the first pitfall most startup—and established—e-commerce businesses discover. The reality is that e-commerce marketing is more challenging and competitive today than in the history of digital commerce. Balancing SEO, paid search, social media marketing, and learning to interpret analytics can be overwhelming. Small mistakes that may seem insignificant at the time can cost you enormous amounts of your marketing budget down the line. While every business experiences growing pains, in the digital world, the threshold for mistakes is very low.
While there may be dozens of obstacles standing between your business and its success, these seven pitfalls of e-commerce marketing can destroy your dreams of a seamless digital business.
1. Mobile Incompatibility
Time to face reality: U.S mobile e-commerce is a $40B market—it’s a mobile-first world. According to several major studies on mobile commerce, the digital shopping experience is more likely to start on a smartphone than a desktop computer, or even a tablet. The rise of mobile commerce is soaring and will ultimately dominate the e-commerce ecosystem. Strikingly, even with responsive e-commerce platforms like Shopify and Magento, most digital stores are not mobile optimized. Smartphone shopping behavior is burgeoning and will ultimately dominate the marketplace—the numbers don’t lie. By not serving your audience a mobile-optimized shopping experience, you’re essentially ignoring the public demand. That’s like a grocery store stocking products on shelves that are out of reach for 80% of their patrons.
2. Lack of Detail on Product Pages
While there’s really no excuse for this, it happens all the time. Product pages are the lifeblood of your online store, but not thoroughly describing products is a common mistake that most e-commerce retailers make. The product page provides the prime opportunity to make a sale—each and every product detail page should be treated as a chance to compel a visitor to purchase from your store. Simply listing the basic manufacturer specifications just doesn’t cut it. Enhancing a product page with high-resolution photos, thoughtfully crafted descriptions of materials/functionality, video demonstrations, product comparisons, detailed pricing information, product availability and, most importantly, blatant “buy now” or “add to cart” features will have a true impact on driving users to purchase.
3. No Reviews or Social Endorsement of Products
One of the most challenging tasks e-commerce retailers face is building consumer trust. This is a factor that will make or break your digital business. Whatever the reason may be, digital consumers trust the reviews of complete and total strangers, often leveraging reviews as the final element in the process of deciding whether or not to make a purchase. Products that are highly reviewed online sell better than products that are not—plain and simple. Despite arriving at an e-commerce site with intent to purchase, consumers want reassurance that a transaction with your store is the “right” choice. Consumer reviews offer real-world experience with a product, which is valued much higher than a retailer’s remarks about a product’s quality, craftsmanship, or appearance. While earning product reviews within an e-commerce store may be difficult, it’s worth the time and expense to invest in the resources to acquire them at scale.
4. Not Using Google Shopping
This is one pitfall that you can’t afford to ignore. Google Shopping (formerly PLAs) has fundamentally changed the e-commerce ecosystem. By not using AdWords to market products within Google, your digital business is missing out on an enormous audience of online shoppers. It’s no surprise that retailers win when using Google Shopping. Google Shopping ads in competitive SERPS are prolific and often occupy more visual real estate than search network ads. Click behavior on Google Shopping ads is growing rapidly, and utilizing the technology is actually more affordable than search network advertising. In case you missed the news, Google invested almost half a billion dollars in Google Shopping, making it a safe bet that the technology will be widespread and mandatory for e-commerce retailers in the coming years.
5. Clumsy Checkout Process
Shopping cart abandonment is a reality of doing business online, but it can literally break your business if it occurs too frequently. If your e-commerce platform has a clumsy or confusing checkout process, take a lesson from Google Analytics in real life. The checkout process should be as straightforward and minimal as possible. Consumers have been trained by e-commerce titans like Amazon to anticipate a direct, easy-to-comprehend online buying process. Anything that requires extra steps or distracts the user from completing the purchase can have a seriously negative impact on the volume of customers who complete transactions. Make sure to quantify your checkout process carefully by using analytics to visualize the abandonment process and troubleshoot any obstacles that may be pushing customers out of the buying process.
6. No Up-Sell Opportunities
If you’re wondering why the volume of items added to cart within your store is low, have you considered what you’re offering as accessories to products? Up-selling on e-commerce sites performs approximately 20 times better than cross-selling. E-commerce platforms like Magento, Shopify, and Volusion offer functionality that can display products that are related within individual product pages—a powerful asset than can dramatically increase sales volume. The “Customers who bought this item also bought” feature provides a tremendous opportunity to improve transaction rates and increase the average revenue earned per order. Upselling is common practice in retail and is actually easier to accomplish in the digital world—all it takes is the implementation of functionality to offer items that are related to products that have been added to a cart.
7. No Email Marketing
Not following up with customers (or shopping cart abandoners) by email is one of the worst mistakes you can make in e-commerce marketing. In 2013 alone, orders from mobile email communications were up 40%. In many cases, email is one of the largest revenue drivers of online commerce. The ability to interact at a personal level with your customers offers a tremendous advantage over traditional retail. When a customer makes a purchase and opts-in to receiving communications from your brand, you’ve earned the ultimate opportunity to offer incentives, build customer loyalty, and enhance the efficacy of your outbound marketing. Still, email marketing is NOT an opportunity for you to bombard customers with generic marketing messages. Keep in touch with customers by offering exclusive discounts, access to new products before the general public, and following up on purchases by offering discounts on additional purchases. Do not slam customers with daily messages to buy from your store without a good reason—respect the gesture of “opt in” and don’t take it for granted.
Is that all?
Realistically, no. There are dozens of pitfalls you may encounter in your e-commerce marketing. The best-case scenario is that you’ll learn from early mistakes, which will prevent future blunders. Ultimately, the functionality, accessibility, and reliability of your e-commerce platform should come first. Learn from competitors in your industry and emulate their success while systematically avoiding e-commerce marketing pitfalls. If you’re wondering which pitfall is likely the most important to avoid, it’s mobile incompatibility. 2015 is the year that mobile commerce will dominate the digital ecosystem. It’s a mobile-first world when it comes to e-commerce—so ignore that at your own risk!
MDG Advertising, a full-service advertising agency with offices in Boca Raton and New York, NY, is one of Florida’s top branding firms. MDG’s capabilities include print advertising, direct mail marketing, branding, logo design, creative, digital marketing, media buying and planning, radio and TV advertising, Web design and development, online video advertising, infographic development, email marketing, content marketing, lead generation, social media marketing, and SEO. For the latest trends in advertising and branding, contact MDG Advertising today at 561-338-7797 or visit mdgadvertising.com.
Written by Michael Del Gigante