December 2008

eCommerce Mistakes That Can Kill Your Sales

To effectively sell online, your e-commerce website should persuasively present your products, be appealing, simple to use and should easily guide visitors through the sales process. If it isn't doing all of these things, a few simple mistakes could be costing you major sales. Mountain Media recommends avoiding these common pitfalls when designing and developing your website.

Requiring Login to Order: This is one of many e-tailers' favorite usability mistakes. Requiring registration is a clear barrier to sales and a definite no no, especially when you have yet to establish a relationship with the customer. First-time shoppers aren't sure that they'll return and the feeling that some sort of commitment is required may turn them away from making even the first purchase.

Vague, Hard to Find Return Policies: Ecommerce is increasingly competitive, no matter what your industry is and often, the difference between a sale for you versus your competitor comes down to your return policy. Make the process as easy as possible. Don't hide your return policy deep within your site or require your customers to jump through hoops to complete the process. Rarely do e-tailers make their return policy a selling point or competitive advantage and they should. Consider using the words, "No-Hassle Return Policy" to reassure the customer that the process is quick and easy.

Poor (or no) SEO: Often online retailers have a ‘Build it, and they will come' attitude. This could not be more wrong (no matter how great your product is). Retailers tend to forget that search engines are the highways and byways of the Internet. An eCommerce site not optimized for search is equivalent to a brick and mortar store conveniently located underground. Let professionals who are trained and knowledgeable in the latest techniques perform optimization and Internet marketing services that will ensure that your site can be found.

Poor Product Descriptions: Product descriptions are the closest thing you have to a salesperson. Make them work for you. Improving your product descriptions is one of the easiest, yet most neglected ways to improve your online sales. If your product catalog is large enough to justify, hire a copy-writer. Also, you'll want your description to be unique. So, if you're using manufacturer's descriptions, you'll want to change them so that your descriptions aren't the same as your competitors.

Poor Merchandising: If you owned a brick and mortar store, you would probably walk your aisles every day to ensure your products are merchandised properly. You'd also most likely have end-caps that feature certain products, signs or posters that call out relevant products and items that you place at the point-of-sale to encourage last minute purchases. Yet many website owners expect their online stores to run themselves, and rarely take time for this important implementation. You need to plan and implement merchandising techniques including upsells and cross-sells to help move your products. Lack of Strong, Clear Calls-to-Action: Make your call-to-action buttons big, bold, and unmistakably clear (but be careful not to make them ugly). Any messaging on the site should also be clear and strong. Every page of the conversion funnel (landing page to product page to checkout) should clearly define the next step in the process.

Lack of Search, Filtering and Sorting: Product search is a must if your catalog is anymore than a few products. Customers simply expect it and your site will look amateur without it. Customers also expect to be able to filter down by criteria such as colors, sizes, or brand. Also, let them sort the listings by price, newness, popularity, etc.

Hard to Find Checkout Button or Add to Cart Button: Many online stores assume shoppers know that the shopping cart is the first step of the checkout process. To prevent confusion of your customers, always have a clear "checkout" button visible on every page and keep your ‘Add to Cart' buttons clearly visible next to or under every product.

Unreachable Customer Service: Online retailers are typically not famous for their customer service. Phone numbers and email addresses should be listed prominently on every page.

Increased ROI

Internet Marketing Insights

Internet Marketing Insights (IMI) is a segment dedicated to the world of Search Engine Marketing. Each month, Joel Sussman and Justin Mattison of Mountain Media's SEM department answer your questions and offer their professional insight to help demystify the ever changing landscape of Internet marketing. To have Joel and Justin answer your SEM questions, please send an email to sem@mountainmedia.com.

IMI: Let's premiere our first segment with a discussion about Google AdWords. So, what exactly is Google AdWords and how can I use it to help market my site?

JM: Well, simply put, Google AdWords is a Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising program. Websites will 'bid' on keywords that they want their site to rank for, and Google will place an ad for their site at the top of the results when the keyword is searched. Whenever their ad is clicked, they are charged based on the value of the specific keyword phrase they were targeting.

JS: AdWords can be one of the most cost-effective ways to advertise on the Internet, because you only pay for prospects that are actively interested in your products or services. Theoretically, it eliminates a lot of the wasteful spending associated with banner ads and other types of internet advertising, which usually charge based on the number of times the ad is shown, rather than how many times it is clicked.

IMI: That seems like a tried and true method for attracting users to a site, but if a site is already generating traffic, why should someone use Google AdWords versus investing in strategies to gain rankings naturally?

JM: Two words: Conversion Tracking. I would never recommend someone choose one or the other. Different sites have different goals. For some, success is measured in a sale, for others, the goal is simply to have someone fill out a contact form. When one of these goals is met, it's called a Conversion. AdWords has some nifty tools that allow you to track your Conversions, so you can see if users that come to your site from an ad off one keyword phrase are generating more Conversions than if they came in from another keyword phrase. I like to lead off a Marketing campaign with PPC, so I can gauge which keywords result in more Conversions. Using this kind of data from the AdWords campaign, I am able to more effectively generate a successful strategy for natural search, and that's when you really start to see the conversions come in.

JS: Like any type of advertising, Google AdWords involves an element of risk. There's no guarantee that the additional income you produce through Adwords is going to be larger than the cost of the click-throughs. However, many e-commerce business owners swear by it and claim that it's responsible for more revenue and a healthier bottom line. That being said, you should consider using AdWords if your website is too new to have achieved a high ranking in the search engines (and you need traffic now), or if you're trying to rank well for extremely competitive keywords and don't seem to be getting indexed by Google on the first page or two of their search results.

JM: Those interested in learning more, should contact us at Mountain Media (877) 583-0300.

Did You Know?

Did You Know?

Endicia® has over 25 years of postal industry experience and is the leading provider of Internet Postage. Mountain Media's integration with Endicia allows customers to print postage and shipping labels from their desktop for all mail classes that can be purchased at the Post Office retail counter. Endicia's shipping functionality includes discounted Delivery or Signature Confirmation, hidden postage amounts, email notification and address verification.

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