10 Essential Tips for Ecommerce Web Design

When selling your products online, the design of your e-commerce website can greatly impact your online sales. The design of your e-store has gone from a convenience to a significant strategy element for businesses. It can help a business establish their identity, develop its brand, and make its products stand out from the competition. However, you need to tread carefully when designing your site. The wrong web design could cost you potential income and have an overall negative impact on your business. But, there is a silver lining to this cloud, following these tips will get you on to a better user experience and improved sales numbers.

Are You Mobile Friendly?

It’s 2015, a responsive, mobile friendly e-store is no longer a competitive advantage or customer convenience, it’s a necessity for doing business online. With ComScore releasing a recent report that mobile internet use has now surpassed desktop use, being mobile-friendly is needed to keep up with your competitors. This change from desktop to mobile shopping will impact B2C and B2B customers alike.

A Professional and Polished Logo

The logo is one of the most important parts of your brand. It’s the watermark that sticks in people’s memories when confronted with something you sell. Make sure it is clean and fits your brand image. When placing it on your site, make sure that it is a high-resolution image and it’s prominently featured. Usually this is done by placing it in the upper left hand corner of the site. Additionally, you’re going to want to link the image back to the home page so that customers can easily navigate to it.

Keep Pages Clean

It’s very easy these days for a customer to have a visual overload when they go to a website and they leave because of too much choice. To keep visitors on your site, make sure to not have competing calls to action or lots of visual clutter (i.e. images, videos, etc) that would draw the customer’s eyes away from what is important.

Don’t Be Afraid Of White Space

Controlling white space through design is a great way to keep uses focused on the content. Creating this space in-between your text and images gives some “breathing space” for customers to digest information before continuing on their journey. With visuals becoming more and more the focus of competition for user’s attention on the web, less is more. Controlling what you do with white space will help improve the user experience, and increase returns for your e-store.

Use Color To Stand Out

When using colors for your website, the rule of thumb is to use a mostly neutral color palette which will help you project an elegant and modern experience. Using small dashes of colors for headlines and key graphics can draw the user to the most important information. Additionally, make sure that the color that you do use complements your logo and is consistent with your other marketing materials.

Don’t Use Generic Photos Found On The Web

Today’s consumer is extremely savvy, and can sniff out generic stock photos quicker than you can say Getty. When visitors see generic photos on your site for your services or products, they’re pulled out of the experience, and will gain a generic impression of your company. Investing in professional photographs of your products or investing in professional stock photos can really make the difference. Good photographs will catch the eye and can invoke an emotional response to the written content.

Button, Button, Where’s The Button?

The submit button is usually considered the ugliest part of a website. To help change this you could do it a number of ways. Make the button interactive, when you hover or click it, have it change color. You can also change the text so that it doesn’t say ‘submit.’ No one wants to submit to anything, so take a different approach and change it to something fun or related to the product.

The Dinosaurs Called They Want Their Flash Plug-in Back

The days of Flash have come to a close. While it was a great innovator for rich media on websites, today, there are many more alternatives that are site and user-friendly. One of the most popular options is using HTML5. With search-engine friendly text and the ability to function on practically all mobile operating systems without a plug-in, it really is the way to go if you plan on having embedded videos  or other rich media on your website.

Make Reading Easy On The Eyes

When choosing fonts for your website, keep in mind, most people are going to be on the site from a mobile device. Some large scale fonts, might read well on a computer screen, but when scaled down for the mobile screen, they lose the desired look and feel, and in the worst case scenario end up being unreadable. To get around this, it is recommended that you choose a universal font, and make sure to pick one that can be easily read at 11pts or less.

Don’t Forget To Test The Design

Finally, whenever you are changing around a current design, or planning on implementing a re-design, always make sure to test the changes. In actuality, all design decisions are really a hypothesis waiting to be tested. By using different testing methods such as A/B testing and user testing, your customers can help you improve your designs by providing feedback from real people on your different design experiments.

By using these tips, you can help bring your website to the fore and help it become an even greater revenue generator for your business. Need help designing a new website, or is your e-commerce platform caught behind the times? Feel free to drop us a line or shoot us an email, we would be happy to help your business reach even greater heights.

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PPC Crash Course for E-Commerce Part 3

Continuing from the last two weeks, we’ve covered what platforms could be a good fit for your business along with researching the best keywords for your products. Then, we went over how to structure your account and set up budgets for your ads. Today, in our final part, we’re going to go over global campaign settings and how to set up split testing for your ads. So, without further ado, let’s get started!

Location, Location, Location

The old real-estate adage applies to PPC in a very big way. When you upload your campaigns and ad groups, your campaign settings will automatically be set to the default settings in AdWords. So, before you set anything to live, you’re going to want to review and customize those settings to make sure that your ads are being displayed to the right people in the right places.

The first thing you’re going to want to review is the geographic locations that you want to show your ad in. You can determine how limited you want to show your ad in case you only ship to a few different places outside of the US. If you’re not limited by that, the best way to start is by including the countries that you know you receive a lot of orders from. If you plan on targeting different languages you can do this at this point as well. Additionally, you can fine-tune this feature to target specific regions or cities within the other countries and make the search as granular as you’d like (see examples below).

Country Targeting in Google AdWords

Country Targeting in Google AdWords

City Targeting in Google AdWords

City Targeting in Google AdWords

It’s All About The Networking

In addition to choosing where geographically your ads show, you can also choose where on Google’s network the ads will show. Well, outside of the ads being served on the search results, you can choose to have the ads served with Google’s search partners as well. For example if you put together a text ad, this ad could appear on non-Google websites, such as AOL search (yes, it still exists), Ask.com, in addition to other Google sites such as Google Maps, YouTube, and other parts of the Google-verse. This setting is just as granular as the geo-targeting setting above. You can pick and choose where your ad will display and whom it will display with. If there is a site or Google product that you don’t want displaying your ad, this is where you can include or exclude specific partners and sites.

Additionally, once you get some AdWords experience under your belt, there’s a whole other network known as the Google Display Network, that showcases your ads on additional sites outside of Google’s search partner network. For example, if you ever wondered how a Google AdWords ad appeared in a banner ad on The Weather Channel’s website, this is how. However, I wouldn’t recommend tooling around with this until you get some campaigns under your belt. However, if you’re feeling particularly confident in your AdWord abilities, you can find out more information on it here.

Also, you can choose if you want to include or exclude mobile devices and tablets. However, if you sell something online I would highly recommend that you advertise on these devices. Especially now that more than 50% of internet users are accessing stores and websites from a mobile device.

Ad Testing – Making Sure The Ad Brings Your “A” Game

Ad testing is very important, as it lets you find which ad is the best one for your keywords. Ads are the way you showcase your product to the world with PPC so you want to make sure you get the ad right the first time. Where E-Commerce is concerned, ad testing is all about your product segmentation. Having your ads be relevant to your keyword lists that is associated with that ad group is where your ads will shine and make sure it has a high quality score. To sum up what quality score is, is a way provided by Google to help you pay less for your ads.

Let’s take the knitting supply store we’ve been using for this series, and they want their ad to showcase their stainless steel knitting needles. If the keyword is, “stainless steel knitting needles” then they should call that out in their ad. With split testing, you want to set up two ads per ad group to test against each other to see which is running better, however, both still need to be calling out the product within the ads. What you’re testing is different benefits and features that the customer might be looking for, different destination URLs that are linked to the ads, display URLs, call-to-actions, and dynamic keyword insertion. So, this is how one of their ads could read:

Stainless Steel Knitting Needles
Our Products Are Top Notch!
Get Your Stainless Steel Knitting Needles Today!

And the other ad could read:

Industrial Strength Knitting Needles
High-Quality Stainless Steel Knitting Needles On Sale.
Get 15% Off Your First Purchase!

From these two ads, you’ll be able to track through the AdWords platform which one is being received and converting better.

Well, that’s it for our crash course! Now you’re all ready to set up and start your first ad campaign with PPC! While this outline gives you the important first steps, there is a lot of other things that can affect your campaigns after they’re launched. However, if you’re curious about what else you can do to analyze and track your AdWords campaign, you can check out Google’s own guide which goes into great detail on how everything works and how you can effectively track and use the product to your advantage.

Take care and Happy Ad Hunting!

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PPC Crash Course for E-Commerce Part 2

So last week, we went over an introduction and the basics of what you want to look for when doing advertising for your e-commerce business. This week, we’ll be going over structuring and budgeting your PPC campaigns. So, let’s dive in!

Ad Group Structuring

Good account structure helps you make changes to your ads quickly, and allows you more granularity when targeting. So, when just starting off with PPC, the best ad structure strategy to use is to copy your site structure, by product. Taking our example from last week, let’s say you’re selling knitting needles. So you have a campaign for steel knitting needles, bamboo knitting needles, ceramic knitting needles, so on and so forth. By structuring it like this, it’ll help you create keyword lists that directly relate to the corresponding ad along with the ads leading to that specific product. This works really well because it aligns ad groups and landing pages for those ads like so:

Google AdWord campaign structure

Courtesy of Google AdWord Answers

 

If you’re feeling frisky, and want to take a look at a more advanced ad structure or feel that the by product structure isn’t for your business, you should check out this article by Sam Owen at Search Engine Land. He talks about structuring ads based on user intent, rather than by product. Definitely worth a read.

Budgeting

Now, this is where things get tricky. Budgeting is always a moving target. You may have a set budget for these ads to begin with, but deciding how you’re going to divide it amongst your campaigns is where things start getting a little murky. There are three things that you need to look for when you first start planning your budgeting for ads. First, which campaigns have products with high search volume? Second, what is their average cost-per-click (which can be found in the AdWords tool we went over in part 1)? Lastly, which product will make you the most money?

What you end up with is a secret sauce mix of giving a higher budget for ads that have a high search volume, where it will make you the most money, and those that have a higher CPC that in turn requires more budget money. However, you don’t want to give too much of your budget to a campaign that’s going to have a high cost-per-click that doesn’t make you as high of a revenue as other products, this will cost your ROI and be a waste of your limited budget.

A good way to get around this when you’re starting out is to just give all of your campaigns equal budgets for the base amount you (or the client) are willing to spend each day, and tweak from there. If you start seeing a campaign performing at a good ROI, start giving it a higher budget. Conversely, if you see another campaign is not hitting its necessary ROI, you can redistribute the money in that campaign accordingly.

This is what makes PPC great for e-commerce. If one of your products is one of your top money-makers than feeding its ad group a higher budget will help you produce even higher sales as long as you have the inventory for it. If you’re a mom and pop shop, that is hand-making everything, you may want to limit yourself to a number of sales per day. But, if you drop ship or are a distributing from a large warehouse, keep feeding those budgets as long as you continue to get a good ROI from them.

Well, that’s it for this week. Next week we’ll go over the last details of using PPC for e-commerce. See you then!

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PPC Crash Course for e-commerce Part 1

So you’re selling a product and you’ve come up with a fantastic e-commerce site. But, you seemed to have reached the ceiling when it comes to growth in your different marketing channels. You’ve seen the ads on Google’s search results and have seen the ads when researching different products, and it made you curious. Congratulations! You’ve just discovered PPC, which is going to be our focus topic for this week. So follow along, we’ll get you started down the road of making sure you know what platforms there are to choose from, what analytics you should pay attention to, and how to get started becoming a PPC monster!

Basics of PPC

Before we dive in, let’s take a few minutes and go over, exactly, what PPC is. PPC (pay-per-click) marketing is a form of online advertising in which businesses accrue costs when users click their ads (i.e. Google Ads on the top and right-hand side of search results). These businesses bid on different keywords and audience types, which a search engine matches to different search queries and pre-defined lists.

Knitting PPC example`

 

 

 

 

 

PPC can be used for all sorts of campaign goals, including increasing sales, generating leads, and promoting brand awareness. PPC ads are all about relevance and gives businesses the ability to show a targeted ad at the exact moment someone is searching for a product that they sell. For example, let’s say someone is looking for knitting needles, and you happen to sell stainless steel, high quality knitting needles. The prospective customer searches for knitting needles, and low and behold, your product shows up in an ad on the search engine displaying your knitting needles for sale.

Advertising Platforms

Alright so now that we went over what PPC is, we need to discuss where you can advertise your products outside of Google’s AdWords. Because, if you’re just using Google you’re going to have a bad time. There are a lot, and I mean, a lot of options out there for advertising. Here’s a couple of the top ones that are great for e-commerce:

Nextag.com

Nextag claims to be the #1 comparison site in traffic, revenue, and GMV (gross merchandise value). They offer free tools such as a ROI tracking system, promotional platform for voucher codes, buyer reviews, and a trusted sellers program. Additionally, they offer no listing fees or set-up costs, and you only pay, when they “refer you to a qualified lead.”

Amazon.com

Yes, you can serve product ads on Amazon! You can upload your products manually, or send them a list via FTP. They’ll populate the ads with the information you send them. You can set and track your budget and ad space provides click through to your e-commerce store. The only fee you pay is a CPC (cost-per-click) fee. They also provide different formats, such as detail page, search & browse, buy box, and tower ads, (to find out more of these different ad formats click here). Also, when you sign up, you get $75 in free clicks to start, talk about a nice incentive.

Tracking

One of the most important things when it comes to setting up your PPC campaign is making sure that you’re implementing the proper tracking codes so that you can track goals and optimize your accounts to get the most ROI. The best place to set up your tracking and goals is with Google Analytics, since it will allow you to track your AdWords account along with the other advertising platforms you choose to use.

Google has a great guide in how to set this up and how you can implement the code on your site. Word of warning though this part is where it gets extremely technical, so if you’re programming illiterate, either find a how-to guide or hire a freelancer to set this up for you. Trust me, you want to get this right the first time.

While setting up tracking might be a hassle for you, time-wise or financially, I advise that you don’t even bother with a PPC campaign for your e-commerce site if you don’t have the proper tracking. Otherwise, you won’t know where the leads are coming from, and you won’t know what is working and what isn’t.

Keyword Research

Next, you’re going to want to start researching keywords for your campaigns. My advice is that you start with your own site, specifically, your products. Going through all your products is the easiest way to find the keywords you want to target, because it’s simply finding the keywords that people would use to find your products through the search results. Make sure you keep all these keywords grouped by product, it will help later when you’re going back to research specific products in that product category.

To make the process quicker, I recommend using the Google Keyword Tool. Let’s take the knitting needles example I used earlier, when I type it into the keyword tool, this is what I get:

Knitting needles keyword planner PPC example

Keyword listings on Google Keyword Planner

 

 

 

 

Google Keyword Planner PPC example

Ad Group Listings on Google Keyword Planner

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is where the tool gets really robust, this goes into iterations and close relations to the keywords you chose, and the ad groups break down individual keywords associated with that ad group. Additionally, you can have it expand the list by having the program find more keywords like the ad group you clicked on.

Each one of these categories can be expanded to show a whole new slew of keywords. I recommend using this tool to get the bulk of keywords you’re looking for with minimal effort. Additionally, once you’re done researching you can export the list to an excel spreadsheet or you can curate the list right in the tool!

Well, that’s it for this week, next week we’ll go into detail about structuring your ads and setting up budgets for your ads. See you next week for part 2!

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