5 smart Ecommerce lessons to light up your business!

Over the last couple of months we’ve been having a great time getting in touch with our ex-employees, and finding out what they’ve been up to since leaving.

Today’s post is by Calum Covell, who was with us for 5 years as a Pay Per Click and Ecommerce specialist. Calum is now marketing manager at a multi-channel wholesaler and retailer of light bulbs and fittings.

Here’s what he’s been up to for the last 12 months:

As the marketing manager of an Ecommerce site, I’m always on the lookout for new ideas to incorporate into our digital strategy. In last 12 months we’ve made some fantastic progress online, both in terms of increasing website sales and meeting our sales targets.

But success doesn’t come without a certain amount of trial and error. There’s almost too many options when it comes to marketing your website or improving its conversion rate. That’s why I’m always keen to hear how others weight their strategy and to share the things we’ve learnt.

As a slight caveat we’re not your stereotypical retail Ecommerce site as we sell consumables. Our market has directly influenced the decisions we’ve made, but I hope you can apply our findings to your situation.

What worked?

Moving our server – just as a building needs strong foundations, so does your website

We often received calls from customers having issues with the website hanging or not loading at all. Although our hosting company said everything was fine, I was convinced it was the server. In the end I was able to negotiate a good price for a better package with a well-known company and presented my case to the MD. Long story short, we moved hosting nearly 8 months ago and the calls from disgruntled customers have vanished completely.

I’m not a technical whizz so I won’t attempt to describe the specifics but we moved from a VPS hosting package, where our website was hosted on the same server as several others, to our own dedicated server. The amount of time saved from the team processing orders over the phone, along with the increase in customer satisfaction has justified the increase in hosting spend, plus it gives us the bandwidth to continue growing for many years to come.

Focusing on Google Shopping

When AdWords released Shopping campaigns a few years ago we quickly incorporated them into our PPC strategy. It’s perfect for Ecommerce and has been so successful it now accounts for over 80% of our Ad spend. Feed quality and constant campaign management is a must, but the returns make it well worth the effort.

lamps-shopping

Leveraging delivery prices

When was the last time you reviewed how much you charge for delivery? We systematically tested different delivery costs, including free delivery thresholds for orders, and I was amazed how much they influenced conversion rates.

To do this successfully, you may have to review the deal you have with your carrier company as well as test different prices on the website.

The goal should be to charge a value that doesn’t put your customers off the purchase, but also makes you additional revenue with each order. What could an extra 50p per order do to your bottom line?

What failed?

Neither of these really deserve to be thought of as failures. They both delivered some level of success but never quite became what we hoped could be possible.

Behavioural pop-ups

The idea of offering a discount code to sway a customer who was otherwise going to leave the website sounds like a good one but it’s all too easy to give away discounts without true merit. Can we be sure that the visitor was going to buy somewhere else? What if they left the tab on their browser open and wanted to return later?

We used Nosto, a system that works on a commission basis; a great way to test while guaranteeing some level of success before you part with any cash; but for us we didn’t see a big enough uplift to warrant parting with the commission. This isn’t to say they can’t work, but I don’t feel they’re right for our industry in their current format.

Bing Ads

Bing Ads offer a comparable level of functionality to Google AdWords, including a very useful tool to import your campaigns from AdWords into Bing Ads. Before using Bing, I was aware their market share was much lower and set my expectations accordingly. However we never seemed to be able to match the ROI we found in Google.

lamps-bing-ad

Due to our success with Google Shopping campaigns I was very excited when Bing rolled out their own equivalent in April 2016. Unfortunately again we never seemed to match the ROI of Google Shopping. I’ve tried a few different tactics but suspect their matching algorithm of search term to product is not as well refined. That’s not to say it won’t improve so I’ll continue to test for results until we get it cracked.

What’s next on the list?

Over the last 12 months we’ve focused on building and testing the foundations. Our conversion rate is good and we know paid channels can deliver a worthwhile return. As we continue with our paid campaigns, the next step will be PR and content outreach. I’m keen to improve our organic rankings and also help the brand become better known. We need a well-rounded strategy to continue growth and that means investing in the long term benefits content marketing will deliver.

We want to avoid relying too heavily on one area of marketing and ensure that what we’re doing is scalable. That’ll also mean keeping an eye on internal processes, all the way from order processing to goods leaving the warehouse, to maintain good customer service and overall business profitability.

This is by no means a complete view of all the marketing activities we do. I’ve not mentioned email, social or anything offline but I felt these we’re the more interesting stories. I hope you’ve found it a useful insight and would love to see what’s worked well or not so well for you, in the comments below.

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3 thoughts on “5 smart Ecommerce lessons to light up your business!”

  1. Sam21st October 2016 at 10:57 am reply

    I would be interested to hear how your future SEO work pans out. After watching PPC cannibalise our organic sales for years on branded search we took the plunge and pulled the plug, saving the company over £120,000 in a year without jeopardising online revenue. This gave us budget to invest in other longtail search terms and focus on other digital strategies. I also found it fascinating looking at different attribution models, steering away from the age old last-click model, not to mention the rise of mobile/tablet advertising and the demise of desktop. Lots to test and think about!

    1. Ned Wells1st November 2016 at 10:44 am reply

      Hi Sam, good to hear from you! Very happy to keep in touch on this and can connect you with Calum if you’d like.

  2. Edward Kay2nd November 2016 at 2:53 pm reply

    Great post. Hearing the ins and outs of what others are doing is really valuable. Keen to read more like this.

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