4 Schweeet E-Commerce Marketing Tips

I won’t waste your time by writing a generic introduction into e-commerce marketing and SEO. I think Matt Cutts (Head of Webspam at Google) sums up the state of play with most e-Commerce websites with his exasperation in this Google Webmaster Help video…

In a moment we’ll get right into the good stuff but if you find this article interesting and useful, please consider sharing it via the Like/Tweet/Google+ buttons above.

1. Break-The-Mould Content

Producing exclusive, high quality content is the single best thing you can spend your time on if you want to succeed online, and this applies to EVERY site-type and niche. Unfortunately this concept is particularly ignored within the realms of e-commerce. In fact, many e-commerce sites do not even have the structure to support content without sacrificing the visibility of products and offer banners, yet this additional content can act like your very best salesman and lift your conversion rate.

Ditching manufacturer’s product descriptions in favour of custom-written descriptions that go above and beyond the cookie-cutter descriptions that shoppers have seen elsewhere establishes your site as an authority. On top of avoiding dup-content issues, carefully crafted descriptions can illustrate your expertise and in turn, inject that little extra confidence that could result in a conversion.

However, long-winded descriptions can become tiresome for the customer and you may find you are repeating similar topics over and over again throughout the product range, particularly with highly technical products which require a lot of information to do the product justice. To break up the monotony consider the following;

  • “A picture is worth a thousand words” – Visual and rich content like videos and images can often illustrate the product features and benefits far better than words can. This type of content can also be submitted to image/video-sharing sites which can help boost quality incoming traffic.
  • Don’t hide blog content – A blog provides the perfect area to add fresh content to show the search engines that the site is constantly growing and isn’t stale. Most shoppers are guilty of ignoring merchant blogs and certainly won’t inspect your blog feed if they are intent on finding the best deal as quickly as possible. However, by linking to appropriate blog posts within your product and category descriptions you can cut down on repetition throughout a product range, incite more click-through, help sell your product and build your list of ideas for blog posts!
  • Build confidence by answering your customers’ questions before they ask – If a customer needs to look elsewhere for the answer to a question they have about one of your products, what are they chances they will come straight back to buy from you? An F.A.Q section built on “real” questions (search forums, Twitter, Yahoo Answers etc.) further establishes your brand as an expert but can also attract hoards of extra traffic looking for answers.

2. Sharing the love (of discount codes)

Attract an audience of potential customers you may never have been able to reach before by offering third-party sites a unique (and customised) discount code to display on their site or send out in newsletters. They win because they can reward their loyal audience with discounts at someone else’s expense with minimum hassle on their part. The opportunity to offer a discount code no-one else can boosts their site’s value in their audience’s eyes and they will be flattered you chose them – particularly if you are a respected and well known brand.

Needless to say, their audience/your customers win by saving money on products or services that they may have otherwise paid full price for.

And you, you are the biggest winner of all. As if reaching a brand new set of customers or client base with very little advertising work on your part is not enough, there is also the little matter of the link you will have gotten in the process which, depending on the nature and appeal of the offer and your business, could be further shared across other sites, forums and social media channels. If you are looking to raise the awareness of one particular product, consider having the coupon code entry field on the actual product page you are looking to target so that links point to this page rather than the homepage or worse, the often noindexed/nofollowed checkout page.

As a bonus, this tactic can be scaled across numerous sites, each with a unique code and audience reach allowing you to track the performance of a multitude of sites/audience types through Analytics or your e-commerce software. This means you can further develop partnerships and advertising deals with the best-performing ones further down the line, and drop or re-asses deals with under-performing sites and blogs.

3. Tweet my product

Most e-commerce sites tend to rank products within a category by relevance, price, date-added etc. In an increasingly user-generated and social world it seems only right to base the product list sequence on how your own audience deems correct. By sequencing products based on user interaction (Tweets, Likes and +1’s) potential customers are encouraged by other customers to buy based on real-life ratings, and as the merchant, you see quickly how customers react to new lines, as well as which products are under/over performing allowing you to tailor your sales techniques accordingly.

Currently, from your shopping cart/Analytics software you will be able to tell what you most popular products are based on sales alone, but as these figures can be influenced by selling price and offers this doesn’t give you a true representation of how your customers think if money were no object.

Consider this. Your top of the range (and therefore very expensive) Hi-Fi could is not selling as well as you’d hoped and you might be thinking of dropping it from your inventory next season. However, feedback from the social signals are telling you a different story altogether. This particular product has got 3x as many likes as the next popular product so you run a discount promotion to see if people put their money where their mouth click-fingers are and suddenly you are swamped with orders you wouldn’t have gotten otherwise.

On top of this, you are naturally encouraging more social interaction which we know search engines are increasingly favouring as a ranking metric. And lastly, your customer’s friends and relatives will be able to see exactly what products they like through their SM feeds…and…er…isn’t their birthday coming up??

Killer relationship …or relationship killer? You could take this tactic one step further and ‘warn’ your suppliers that their products have been pitted against their rivals in a battle for supremacy. Not wanting their products to slip down in the rankings (and therefore lose sales) they may encourage their loyal followers to get involved on your site in support of their favourite brand which could lead to a massive boost in audience figures.

* PLEASE NOTE – This is not something I advise, I am merely putting thoughts to paper/screen…*


4. Let the (e-Commerce) games begin!

With social signals and on-site user behaviour becoming increasingly important to site authority and ranking, gamification should be the next logical step in your marketing strategy. Bringing gaming elements to various actionable-yet-mundane areas on a site will promote engagement, and the promise of rewards will encourage users to complete tasks they might otherwise ignore.

Points-based incentive schemes within the retail sector is nothing new and many retailers have been using this technique for years to increase customer retention, repetition & loyalty, order value & frequency, and more. By taking this concept a little further you can use it to manipulate and reward customers for positively increasing important metrics, thus improving your site’s importance in the eyes of the search engines.

There is evidence to suggest that measurable site metrics such as increased time on site, high volume of direct traffic, high volume of returning visitors, low bounce rate, high number of page views, and a high visit duration (among others) are all positive signals that suggest a site is engaging and useful – and ultimately a site that is worthy of being ranked highly. There has also been much debate on how much social signals currently contribute to site authority – what is agreed by many leading online marketers however, is that they are likely to take over in the near future as the primary ranking metric. That means if you don’t have a social presence or much buzz around your brand you will be left behind.

Rewarding points for certain actions that can be redeemed against purchases is one way of shifting the goal posts in your favour. The following is a list of areas you could award points for to increase customer loyalty, positive on-page metrics and social interaction – which ultimately leads to a bigger customer base and an improved conversion rate.

  • Customer sign-up
  • Customer profile completion
  • Navigating through each step of the checkout
  • Purchases
  • Leaving a company/product review
  • Upload of user photos/videos
  • Like/Tweet/+1/Pin an item
  • Points for every 10 minutes on the site (capped)
  • Referring a friend
  • “Interest” on banked points

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London-based Reload Digital specialises in various areas of e-Commerce marketing including SEO, PPC and social media management as well as online strategy & reputation management.

Rick Eliason

Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

Rick is Reload's most senior SEO expert, and started his digital marketing journey way back in 2007 as an in-house online marketing executive. Now with over three years under his belt at Reload Digital, he handles search and conversion campaigns for a wide range of clients from e-commerce and start-ups to large service-based businesses and not-for-profits.