Common Ecommerce Pitfalls
& How To Avoid Them
Ecommerce Web Development
Imagine, if you will – a skeevy, back-alley store, nestled in the most dangerous part of town. The inside of the store is even uglier than outside. The aisles don’t make any sense; there’s cans of food next to cleaning supplies next to Christmas lights. There’s a suspicious person following you as you shop, keeping to the shadows – of which there are many, due to the poor, flickering, yellow-tinted lights. There’s no security guards and when you asked a store clerk for help finding a product, they simply responded, “I’m sorry for your confusion, I will address it with management.” You looked for a review for the store online, but you couldn’t even get cell service while inside.
There’s a whole wealth of reasons why your ecommerce store can have that same awful experience. There’s too many to count so here’s five:
This will help in two ways – it gives your users a yellow brick road to follow through your website while simultaneously offering added SEO benefit.
Not Being Mobile Responsive
While customers purchase more on desktop computers, mobile device ecommerce (mcommerce) is not far behind. By 2024, mobile is expected to account for 44% (or $488 billion) of all online sales.
It is important to note that there are many individual ecommerce categories where the breakdown by device is much closer. Small-ticket items, like video games, toys or event tickets, have much more even distribution. So no, most consumers won’t be ordering a new MacBook Pro while casually surfing the web on their mobile devices. But for less expensive items, it would be best to make sure your site is mobile responsive.
While some people won’t buy off your website, it’s likely they’ll still interact with your business online at some point in the buying process. And if you don’t improve mobile responsiveness, stats show 40% of users will go to your competitor after a bad mobile experience.
The good news is that, in today’s day and age, it’s becoming simpler to get at least the basic levels of security for your website. At the very least, ensuring that your site shows the “green padlock” – a valid SSL certificate – goes a long way toward easing the consumers’ concerns.
One benefit of Shopify is that it’s a hosted platform, so your store is inheriting the same level of protection that all Shopify stores inherit. For novice store owners, this is the easiest, fastest and likely cheapest route. However, it’s a double edged sword – Shopify doesn’t offer the same level of customization that a self-hosted platform like WooCommerce does.
For more information about making your ecommerce store the online version of Fort Knox, check out this article from GoDaddy which details 10 in-depth ways to protect your ecommerce site.
Long/Confusing Checkout Process
Streamlining the checkout process is one great way to clean up your ecommerce store. The less hoops the user has to go through, the better. Depending on the platform you choose, you have options on how your checkout is served – whether via a series of pages or through a more streamlined, dynamic, one-page solution via jQuery.
Not Having Unique Product Descriptions
Not Having Content on Product Category Pages
Failing To Build Links Or Do Any Public Relations
Thinking That Your Website's Content Is 'Done'
Without strategically adding new content regularly that targets your ideal demographic/customer, the site’s growth often becomes stagnant. If you’re struggling to come up with new content ideas, consider the following:
- Comparisons of products
- Reviews of products that aren’t yours
- Buyers’ guides to product sets
- Industry data and information
- Helpful /informative how-to’s
- Thought leadership
Using General Keywords Instead of Getting Hyper-Specific With Keywords/Terms
Not Using/Snippet/Schema/Markup on Products + Reviews
Marketing Strategy & Planning
Trying To Market In Too Many Channels
When first marketing a business it’s very easy to want to cast a wide net, especially when those nets can be cast for free using social media, for example. The thought process is that if you fish in a variety of places and market to a lot of audiences, you’re bound to hook yourself with at least one new customer. Unfortunately, this never works out!
It’s important to evaluate which marketing channels and methods you can afford, which can get you your target demographic and which you believe will present a good ROI. Begin by testing your marketing ideas on a smaller scale and see if your hypothesis was correct. As you start to develop more traction, keep applying your time and budget toward the channels producing the highest ROI/potential growth, and cut out those that aren’t.
There’s no reason for you to keep spending money on advertisements that aren’t accomplishing your goals, creating content that isn’t driving quality traffic or sales, or posting on a social channel to an audience of one (yourself).
Not Establishing and Maintaining Your Data and Analytics Correctly
Failing to Establish a Brand - Not Being Unique
Trying To Do It Alone
Getting Ahead of Yourself Or Forecasting Incorrectly
Forecasting your marketing incorrectly can come in a variety of forms. There are cases where marketing is heavily under budgeted during seasonalities and as a result the business slows down during these periods instead of maintaining pace.
Other cases come from a desire to start marketing as early as possible when the business may not actually be ready for this kind of attention and demand. All too often when this happens, the website crashes, inventory isn’t ready, and it all came from a desire to market too hard instead of growing naturally and presenting the product or business when ready.
A third case can stem from overspending on ideas that aren’t going to help meet the objectives of the business; it’s important to prove that a marketing strategy is effective for the business before diving too deep into it, especially financially.
While the goal is ultimately the same across the board, different platforms come with different pitfalls based on how they show ads to users. Google Ads is primarily reactive, showing ads on the Search Engine Results Page (SERP) based on the user query. Facebook Ads is more proactive, showing ads to their users based on psychographic targeting data culled from the millions of profiles on their platform. As such, different pitfalls can occur on these platforms, and it’s easy to overlook something as you navigate their different challenges.
Your Facebook Ads Targeting Is Too Broad
When building your audiences, remember that Facebook starts with a huge number of possible users in order to allow you the best chance to find your ideal target audience within that user base. However, unless you’re swimming in money, there’s no way to target all 213 million accounts in the United States effectively.
While the obvious demographic choices of gender, age and location are great starters, don’t forget categories like purchase behaviors (ex: gadget enthusiasts, gift shoppers, prepaid debit card users), mobile device type (iOS, Android, tablets and even Windows phones) and education (from high school to master’s degree, and specific schools). Be sure to consider all of the options that are available when you build your audience in order to get your ads in front of the most relevant users.
You Aren't Taking Advantage of Lookalike Audiences On Facebook
One of the nice features of Facebook Ads is being able to create “Lookalike Audiences”, which are targeted lists similar to the people who have already liked your page, have visited your site or are in your customer email list. This allows you to let Facebook do some of the targeting work for you by creating a base audience of users more likely to convert because they share traits with users who already have converted. It’s one of the easiest ways to start building an audience, and one that is often overlooked.
You Haven't Added Any Negative Keywords on Adwords
When building your first ad campaign on Google, keywords are one of the fundamental pieces of the structure. However, many neglect adding negative keywords – words that will prevent ads from showing because they are not in your target audience. For example, if you’re selling tiaras for children’s costumes, you may want to add “yacht” as a negative keyword. Users searching for the boating brand, Tiara Yachts, shouldn’t be served your ad erroneously. By reviewing your search terms report regularly, you can identify the negative keywords that are costing you money.
You Aren't Using Ad Extensions On Adwords
Ad extensions essentially give you more SERP real estate for no additional cost. As you battle for the top position, there are only so many characters you can use in the body of your ad. These extra lines of text allow you to add information about your location, phone number, special features and more. In addition, you can track performance on these extensions, which will help you develop new copy for better-converting ads.
You Haven't Enabled Tracking or Any Remarketing Pixels
All of the major ad platforms offer tracking pixels and codes that will allow you to track the results of your ads as they send traffic to your site. While Google Analytics can provide a lot of referral data in their dashboard, having results directly correlated in your ad reports will allow you to make decisions regarding your campaign effectiveness quickly.
As you A/B test your ads, you’ll be able to track conversions, helping you determine which combination of copy and imagery helped you reach for goals in the most cost- efficient way. The key is making sure that the codes are installed correctly on your site, so be sure to review the instructions thoroughly before installation.
Social Media Marketing
In the 21st century, it can seem as though nearly every business is on some form of social media. However, it’s not a simple case of “if you build it they will come”; just creating a Facebook page or Twitter account isn’t going to automatically get you likes, comments and retweets, or increase your sales from social. Effective social media marketing requires a thoughtful, strategic approach. As you’re planning your social media strategy, watch out for these five common social media marketing pitfalls.
Not Having Goals That Are Specific And Measurable
Examples of bad goals are:
- Increase followers
- Build a brand presence
- Drive more traffic to the site
However, with a little tweaking, we can turn these into good goals:
- Increase followers by 50% within three months of campaign launch
- Improve average engagement rates by 75% from the same month the previous year
- Drive traffic to the website from social by 50% within two weeks of promotion launch
Spreading Your Social Media Efforts Too Thin
When managing social media for ecommerce sites, it’s far better to put a lot of effort into a handful of social networks than to put a little bit of effort into many social networks. In other words, if you can only dedicate 10 hours a week to social media, pick two or three social networks to focus on for those 10 hours. If you put the necessary time into managing your social networks, you’ll see far greater returns than you would putting in the bare minimum.
Keep in mind that not every social platform is ideal for every brand. For example, if you don’t have hundreds of great photos, or your product doesn’t photograph well, Instagram may not be a good platform for you to use because it is based on images. If you’re selling a tech product designed for men, you may not want to focus on Pinterest, as Pinterest’s user base is primarily female.
Using Bad Images
Images are an important part of social media marketing and can make or break your campaigns. Make sure you’re using high-quality images that are optimized for your social networks; you may need to create multiple versions of the same image, depending on the network you’re using it for. Additionally, your images should be on brand and should properly convey your product or company.
So, what makes a bad image?
- Poor image quality
- A lack of consistent branding
- Important parts of the picture are missing because the image ins’t optimized for the network – watch your aspect ratio!
- Images that don’t align with online community requirements
Additionally, as you’re creating images, make sure to use the correct sizes depending on where the image will go. We tend to reference this guide when creating our own images. If you’re unable to create multiple images, your safest bet is to go with a 800px by 800px square image with the primary object in the center – generally speaking, this type of image will display properly across social networks.
Not Understanding Your Customers
Social media followers like or follow your page because they are looking for something specific; not giving them what they’re looking for will ensure they seek it elsewhere.
There are many things you can do to get a deeper understanding of your customers. To begin, take a look at your current social media analytics to get a better feel for the people who already like or follow you. For example, Facebook’s Insights can provide information such as the gender and age of those who like your page, as well as where they are from, what language they speak and when they are on Facebook. Twitter’s Analytics provides even more information, including interests, gender distribution, age distribution, household income levels, consumer buying styles, home ownership status, wireless carrier, country, home value, marital status, political party affiliation, devices frequently used and more.
Once you understand your customers, you’ll have a much easier time reaching them. You’ll know what types of content to post and when to post it, in order to make your social media efforts effective and maximize your ROI.
Posting to Facebook Without Boosting Posts or Running Facebook Ads
Unfortunately, it gets harder each day for businesses to be seen on Facebook. With so much content to sort through, the Facebook algorithm works hard to ensure that users see content most relevant to them. This means that most businesses need to boost their posts or run Facebook ads to be seen by a larger number of users. Keep in mind though, that running Facebook ads alone won’t get you to where you need to be; pages with a mixture of organic content and paid content tend to have the best reach.
If your budget is small, that’s okay! Start by boosting your most important posts for a small amount. After you create a compelling post with good visuals, add targeting based on things such as gender, age, interests, location and more in order to reach your ideal customers. After your post is boosted, you’ll gain more insights into what types of content your audience likes to see and which segments of your audience are most engaged, giving you a deeper understanding into how to best reach your customers on social.
Blog & Email Marketing
Email marketing is an easy way to reach out to all your customers and potential customers alike in order to either make a sale or simply to stay on top of their minds in between sales. It is an inexpensive tool that can help make conversions but when done incorrectly, can actually backfire. Avoid the five common pitfalls of email marketing outlined below to make sure your campaigns don’t fall flat!
Delivering bulk, unsolicited and/or irrelevant emails to a list of people is considered spamming. Not only will those emails undoubtedly go right into spam folders, but due to the CAN-SPAM Act, it is also illegal and you could be fined over $40,000 per email sent. It is extremely important that this doesn’t happen to you if you want to have a successful email campaign. There are a few steps to take to ensure your email doesn’t get flagged as spam.
To start, make sure each and every person on your list actually subscribed to your email list. Emailing an unsolicited list of people will not only have a negative impact on your reputation, but will also have a miniscule, if any return. You also need to give everyone on your email list a way to opt out of receiving emails by providing an unsubscribe button/link on every email.
Any form of deception can result in your email being marked as spam. Be very upfront with your readers by using consistent branding in your emails and using naming conventions that your readers will recognize. For example, if your readers only know your company as ABC, don’t list the “from” name as the CEO of the company because readers won’t know who they are receiving an email from. Also, be sure your subject line and headers don’t mislead or trick the reader into opening the email – they should accurately describe the content of the email.
Don't Forget About Mobile
Marketers almost always create their email campaigns on a desktop computer, and once it’s created, they may think their job is done. However, they have forgotten about one key component: people open 50% of emails on their mobile devices.
To ensure that your email is mobile-friendly, start with keeping the subject line short. While a desktop can show over 60 characters, a mobile device only shows 25-30 characters of a subject line. If your subject line is too long and readers aren’t able to grasp the point of your email, they probably won’t even open it. Using pre-header text, the text just below the subject line that further describes the content of the email, is another way you can ensure your email is mobile-friendly.
Another mobile-friendly point to note is not to rely on images. Oftentimes, people turn off their image displays on their email apps to prevent spammers from knowing they opened their emails and getting more spam. For ecommerce brands, this means that your email images might not be seen by mobile users so make sure you don’t include any important text on them. Use the text copy to deliver key details and involve email images as supplements.
Don't Skip A/B Testing
Don't Be Too Salesy
While the end goal of sending an email marketing campaign is to make more sales, you don’t want to come off as overly promotional or salesy. While customers do want a good deal, they will recognize an email that is over-hyped with too many exclamation points or a deal that is too good to be true. In this instance, your email will end up in the trash more often than not.
While you should advertise any promotions you have going on, keep it brief and don’t over-promise. It can also be helpful to find interesting industry-related articles and blogs from other outlets to share with your readers. This will not only keep readers engaged, but can also help create good relationships with other companies.
Don't Forget Automations
If you take the time to set these email automations up, it will benefit you greatly in the long run. By doing this, you may spend more time on email marketing upfront, but ultimately it will make your job much easier.
Ecommerce Store Customer Service & Reviews
Why Customer Service and Brand Reputation Still Matter
When you take your company online, keep these five customer service pitfalls in the forefront of your mind:
Failing to Establish an In-House Customer Service Team
Failing To Assign A Person Or Team To Manage Social Media
Hiding Your Customer Service Contact Information Or Providing Too Few Options For Customers To Contact You
Pushing Blame On Customers Or Making Up Excuses
Refusing to Acknowledge That Your Business Needs Reviews and Testimonials
service reviews almost guarantee that your bottom line will suffer. Utilize review/testimonial platforms such as Yelp or Yotpo and solicit customers for feedback and testimonials. Receiving negative feedback is an opportunity to learn from mistakes, and by responding appropriately and in a timely manner, you can turn an unhappy customer into a happy, loyal one.
Putting It All Together
What does all of this ultimately mean for you and your business? Well, with some common sense and avoidance of these easy-to-fall-into mistakes, you can set yourself up for success in the coming year. From developing your site to customer service, you should now have a more clear view of the dangers that lay ahead.
Don’t forget though you still need to plan ahead and bring all the pieces together. If need be, reach out—there’s nothing wrong with asking for a little help along the way.