How to Grow and Optimise Your E-commerce Business: Expert Interview with Dominic Foran
Dominic is the Senior Ecommerce Expert for the Advanced and Pro Plans at EKM. He’s been with the company for over 5 years and, with his team, proactively help businesses in all things ecommerce - ultimately how to drive traffic and increase conversions. This can be anything from analysing content in tools like Google Analytics and Google Search Console to advising on design and functionality / user experience, organic content / SEO, marketing, social media engagement and paid advertising.
For those businesses just starting out, how do they choose the right platform for their store? What should they look for?
When looking for a platform for your ecommerce business, make sure you do your research and if possible take a free trial of a platform before you make your decision.
There are a few key things to look out for during your free trial and the first is to ensure that the platform is user friendly to you, which means that it’s easy for you to use. You also want to take note if the platform has good support including guides, telephone, email and live chat support to help you out once you get started.
Reviews on platforms like Trustpilot are also essential to look up as the reviews left by customers will give you a better picture of what the platform and its service is actually like; not only for this but also how they handle disputes by customers too.
You also need to know before you sign up if that platform has all the features that you need to run your ecommerce business. Make a list of everything you can think of that you’ll need, from product variants to payment gateways and other features and functionality (integrations) and see if they can accommodate.
Also double check if they have an additional charge for any of these features and if so, then take this into consideration. Speaking of extra costs, you should check if there are any additional charges to your monthly rental, for example, additional platform transaction fees, any design tweaks or changes etc.
What challenges do you see most new and growing ecommerce businesses face?
Hands down, competition.
In the ecommerce world, it’s dog eat dog and everyone is clamouring for the top spot on Google. Which is why you need to put in a lot of work to make sure your business and website is the best in its industry.
You can do this by improving the design and functionality of your site, writing content for organic SEO rankings, utilising paid ads to remarket to your current website visitors and market your product to new visitors (if you have the budget), keeping all your channels updated including all social media platforms.
You can’t cut corners and you have to be patient - you can’t just open a website and expect the sales to come rolling in the same day - it takes a lot of work to attract visitors and turn them into paying customers.
This also brings me to my next point which is don’t have unrealistic expectations. It’s good to set yourself mini goals but keep them realistic.
Any solutions for these challenges?
If you run into any challenges you should be able to look to your ecommerce platform provider to get help and support. Their expertise in the ecommerce field means that they’ve probably dealt with similar challenges and will be able to advise.
A red flag is when a provider is charging you to help out with these challenges. Most good providers will offer expert advice and you should only be expected to pay any additional charges for things like Google Ads, Facebook Ads etc.
It’s important that you choose the right platform for you and your business so make sure that you do your research and try to ensure that you have a good support network.
Here at EKM we have our EKM Community Facebook group which allows our customers to ask questions to other business owners as well as EKM’s experts who monitor the group.
You are the expert in what you do but your ecommerce provider should be the expert in all things ecommerce and help you to make your new ecommerce site a success. Make sure to utilise their expertise to help you succeed and they should be able to advise you on how to drive more traffic to your site and increase conversions.
What are your top suggestions for e-commerce sites that are struggling to convert?
Firstly, try to always keep your content updated on a regular basis, this includes product descriptions, category descriptions as well as all your social media channels.
Most importantly, remember to not copy and paste descriptions perhaps from your wholesaler as this creates duplicate content and Google does not like this and it will ultimately hurt your SERP (Search Engine Results Page) rankings. Instead make sure your content is fresh, unique and relevant.
Remember that when you’re buying online you can’t physically touch the product so make sure to be as descriptive as possible so that the customer can imagine what it’s like without touching it. Textually describe a product the way you’d describe it to someone if they were standing in front of you. Crystal clear, professional-looking product images are paramount and these can be easily achieved with a smartphone and a few low-cost additions like a lightbox.
It’s important for SEO that you ensure your page titles and header tags (product names) are relevant, and make sure that meta descriptions and alt tags are on point too. Google are also now working to a ‘mobile-first’ approach which means that your site needs to be responsive.
You need to deliver the right user experience, in terms of design and functionality, by thinking of mobile devices before anything else like desktop. All your images need to be optimised (compressed) so your pages don’t take forever to load - you’ve got less than 3 seconds to grab the attention of a visitor, and keep them on your site.
Another way to help get your site ranked for a variety of related keywords is to do have your own blog. Creating blog content can actually help your business in a few ways.
Firstly, the type of content you create should relate to your business and educate your viewers which will help position you as an expert in that field. If your content is written to rank for a specific keyword then this also helps get your website found by people looking at related search terms and results in more traffic to your site.
I mentioned earlier about keeping your social channels updated but growing your social following and engagement not only helps your online presence but also your SERP rankings too. You can test different ways of building engagement, for example, by running a competition and entering by liking, following and retweeting or sharing. Not only does this engage your current audience but it also allows your brand to be expanded into other people’s feeds.
You’ll have a really hard time being found online if you haven’t submitted your sitemap to Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools. Doing this allows your website to be crawled and indexed on search engines - it’s how people find you.
If you haven’t already, I’d definitely recommend using free tools like Google Analytics. It can help you to see who is visiting your site and who they are, where they came from, on what device, where the exited / bounced etc. - you could spend all day every day analysing the stats - it’s excellent!
My final suggestion is to build trust and confidence, ensure you have webpages like “About Us”, “Contact Us”, “Delivery/Returns”, “FAQs” etc. “About Us” can be one of the most visited pages on your website - if you gain a visitor’s trust you’ll encourage them to interact with the website.
Other trust signals include customer reviews of your business and products so try to include some Trustpilot ratings on your website, and ask customers to review their purchases to help other customers purchase.
Are there any marketing strategies you’ve seen work especially well for ecommerce businesses?
Remarketing is probably one of the most powerful tools for an ecommerce business.
Most of your website traffic won’t become customers’ during their first time visiting your site. This is where remarketing comes in.
Setting up a Facebook Pixel on your site will allow you to advertise on Facebook and Instagram to the person that viewed your site with the products they previously looked at. It takes a lot more times than just once to make a customer buy from you, so the more times your products are put in front of them, the more likely they are to purchase.
What trends do you see really taking off this year?
With the introduction of Instagram Shopping, social selling is becoming a more popular form of online shopping and makes buying items directly from your feed a lot easier, compared to going to your website and finding the product. I think this is already becoming an adopted selling trend and should be utilised by all online sellers.
AR or Augmented Reality is too already within the ecommerce world, with big brands like IKEA using it to help provide a better shopping experience with IKEA Place and clothing brands like Gucci providing customers a virtual try-on experience with their shoes AR is already embedded within ecommerce. But we believe that AR will be used in conjunction with other technologies in the near future to provide a seamless shopping experience for customers both in store and online.
Voice search technology is growing rapidly and its applications are already being worked on for the ecommerce industry. You are already able to add items to a shopping list via your smart home speakers and this technology will improve to allow you to make purchases using your voice in the near future.
Flexible payment options are also starting to become more prominent with services like PayPal Credit, Klarna buy now pay later and Klarna Slice It (in 3), customers want more choice when it comes to purchasing items, and this need will only increase in the future.
Lastly, shoppable live streams are now being tested and could prove to be a successful new route to market. Shoppers can buy the items being talked about in the stream right then and there without having to leave and be directed to buy the item elsewhere. This could also open up valuable marketing opportunities, driving traffic and engagement with limited time offers that are accessible “in-stream only”.
EKM was founded in 2002 by CEO Antony Chesworth and since then has helped over 80,000 businesses get selling online and do what they love. EKM is the UK’s highest rated ecommerce platform and our unique Evolution Mode means that our customers websites are continually optimised and updated, so they are never outdated.
Get in touch with us about getting started with your own ecommerce business on 0333 004 0333 or chat with us at www.ekm.com.