Building a successful eCommerce business is like running a marathon. You have to start preparing beforehand so that you don’t run out of fuel mid way.
Almost 90% of every entrepreneurial attempt fails in the beginning. Don’t be scared by that figure. Your business has all the chances to become a success story, provided you know what to do, how to do it and when to do it.
While there is no cheat sheet for eCommerce success, a series of steps (like what we have described below) will serve in setting the ground for a thriving online business.
Here is a complete breakdown of the secret recipe to success in starting your own eCommerce business. Follow these tips diligently and become the owner of an eCommerce store that attracts customers like bees to beehives.
1. Spot an untapped market and pamper it
Let me tell you a repeated mistake in online business, or in any business. Entrepreneurs first create a product and then go in search of a market. But guess what winners do? They find an untapped market and then create superb products that sell like hot cakes.
Take for instance, Apple. The company made its first computer that was user-friendly and easy to carry when the rest of the world was creating wired computers that had to coded to do simple math. Apple tore into the untapped market of home users, students and shop owners thus creating a legacy of its own.
We all cannot be Steve Jobs. But, thanks to the Internet and its numerous forums, it is easy to find what users (read: customers) really want in the market today.
Here are some quick ways you can find the next big idea for your online business.
- Do keyword research to find the most frequent searches that are not served well
- Do competitor analysis and pick out their deficiencies. Create a product or service that can iron that out to win the market
- Listen to customers by reading online reviews, feedback and survey forms
2. Use catchy content
Make it simple. Make it memorable. Make it inviting to look at. Make it fun to read. – Leo Burnett
This quote by Leo Burnett says it all. Great copy can invite customers to take a stroll in your store, create a memorable experience and in the end influence them to make a purchase. Plus, it also helps boost search engine rankings as Google and other search engines rank genuine and original content above everything else.
You need original and fetching content to describe your product, service or even yourself. Content marketing is an ideal bet for your online business if you are working on a bootstrap budget for marketing.
Keep these pointers in mind when you write copy for your product, website or even the store:
- Create a compelling headline that arouses attention
- Ask a question, point out a problem and provide the solution
- Establish authority as someone who can solve the problem
- Display customer testimonials to earn trust
- Give an offer that will make them buy
- Create a sense of urgency through appropriate use of calls-to-action
3. Design a blockbuster website
Designing a website for your eCommerce business is the same as building a real brick and mortar shop; the only difference being the virtual presence. The virtual presence and the ambience of your website will set the tune for the success or demise of your business. So strive to ace it at any cost.
While designing the website for your online business, take into consideration factors like landing page content, ease of navigation, keyword optimization, page loading speed and user friendliness. Once you manage to hold the visitor’s attention for more than 3 seconds, it is easy to sell them.
Some more pointers to help you design a blockbuster website for your online business:
- Stick to one or two font colors
- Keep the UI simple & clutter free (and intuitive too)
- Stick to minimalistic design. No flashy ads
- Make it easy for customers to find what they want
4. Make SEO your best friend
Search engine optimization (SEO) is the best partner for any business that wants to reach its target audience easily without spending a fortune. In fact, most of the present day business ventures like Airbnb, Amazon, eBay and several others are reliant on SEO.
If done correctly, organic traffic can earn you anywhere from 78% to 80% higher click-through-rates.
Why do you need SEO?
- To create an online presence
- To make yourself easily available to target customer groups
- To win free organic traffic that will convert into sales
There are plenty of SEO tactics deployed by small, medium and large-scale businesses. There is no surefire method that will earn you the highest spot in search engine rankings. You will have to spend time tweaking headings, setting permalinks, submitting guest blogs and much more to spike your SEO ranking.
5. Embrace influencer marketing
Influencer marketing is fast spreading like wildfire. It’s results are here to see. Influencer marketing is the quickest way to build trust, brand image and customer engagement for your business.
The good news is that, you do not have to shell out an entire marketing budget for influencer marketing, as it is very cost-effective. In fact, SAP – the ERP giant is employing influencer marketing for implementing digital transformation.
How to kickstart your influencer marketing strategy?
- Find and hire influencers who enjoy a reputation and steady online presence across all social channels, or at least amidst your target audience
- Reserve an appropriate amount of budget towards influencer marketing for the entire strategy span
- Focus on one goal at a time. Ensure that the reach is widened with each campaign, rather just shooting influencer material randomly
- Measure the response by comparing leads to conversion rates achieved through influencer marketing
6. Be social to sell more
As an aspiring online business maker, you cannot ignore the oncoming dominion of social commerce. Social commerce is the practice of selling through social networks including Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, etc. In fact, a handful of top fashion brands like Moda Operandi, Rent the Runway, Stylyt, etc. have already migrated to social commerce for higher selling.
How to make the most of social commerce selling?
- Forge a unique user experience
- Sell exclusive products through social commerce
- Groom a culture through forums, communities, groups, etc.
- Keep social commerce as an extension of your actual online store
7. Keep an eye on the KPIs
KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) show how well your business is doing. KPIs can be measured for a specific period like a week, month, quarter or year. KPIs on several aspects show if the business is heading in the right direction and what corrective action needs to be taken for improving sales or profitability.
Some Key Performance Indicators to watch out for include:
- Website traffic
- Average time spent on site
- Conversion rate
- Referral sources
- Return Rate
- Average Order value
- Cart abandonment rate
8. Display contact information prominently
Your contact information is a strong trust signal. Those websites which do not display their contact information prominently and clearly are less trusted by customers.
As an online business, you cannot afford to displace customer trust. A simple and free way to earn it is by displaying essential contact information like your phone number, physical location, email address, etc. on the landing page itself.
9. Look out for security threats
Every online business is prone to security threats. In fact, a recent study by WpWhiteSecurity has found that more than 70% of WordPress websites are hack prone. The CMS or the web platform you use for launching your online business may also be prone to cyber attacks.
The right foot forward is to ramp up security before the website goes live so that you are well-guarded for all possible security threats. You might also want to consider setting up a firewall to regulate exchange of information between the server and users.
Furthermore, go for HTTPS encryptions. SSL certificate enabled HTTPS encryption will ensure that every single byte of data shared between the web browser and the server is secure and kept secure from hacking attacks, if it ever happens.
Also, SSL certificate encryption will render your business with the plausible benefit of higher search engine rankings, enhanced customer trust and also a boost in conversion rates. Google itself has specified web admins to migrate to HTTPS to create a safe and secure web environment for users. CMS platforms like WordPress are also following suit by upgrading to SSL certificate enabled browsers.
Bringing it all together
You know how great things are achieved? It begins with an idea. The idea is followed by a plan. The plan is broken down into goals. The goals are followed by actions.
What we have described above is a set of definitive actions you must take to reach your goal of eCommerce success. Right from spotting the market opportunity to marketing yourself as a brand, the most fundamentals of online business success have been dealt with. But don’t forget that there is still more that needs to be worked on to get keep your business competitive.