6 Ecommerce Metrics Critical to Long Term Success

If you’ve ever explored Google Analytics, you’ve probably felt overwhelmed by the countless metrics that can be measured.

 

However, if you’re not tracking key performance indicators, you’re flying blind. You might be able to wing it for a little while. But with the immense competition online, it’s a near certainty that sooner or later, a data-driven competitor in your industry will come along and overtake you by focusing on the fundamental metrics that help an ecommerce business scale.

 

Below, find the 6 fundamental metrics you need to know to build a successful, scalable online store.

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Content Marketing

What is Content Marketing? Part 1: Creation

Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and often authoritative content to attract and retain your target audience.

 

The goal is to engage the audience, build awareness of your brand, build your credibility and over time, lead the prospect down the path towards converting them into a customer.

 

I’ll focus on the the first half of the strategy – creation – in this post and save distribution for a future post.

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Questions a Prospective Client Should Be Prepared to Answer

 

When I am talking to a prospective client regarding their online marketing strategy, the interview process is as important to me as it is to them.

 

While I can give them an overview of online marketing tactics, it takes a deeper understanding of their business, resources, and goals before we can mutually determine if working together would be a good fit and how we would approach their strategy.

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Compelling Product Copywriting – A Recipe For Success

I was visiting a client that produces designer jewelry and tableware and had the opportunity to get up close and personal with his stunning pieces.

 

As I held one of his forks in my hand, I could feel the heft of the metal and the curvature of the handle, feel an appreciation for his spiritual vision along with the superior artistry, craftsmanship and elegance of his ladder-style design that was inspired by angels ascending into heaven.

 

That experience helped me rationalize that it was a $40 dinner fork.

 

Then I went to his website…

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The Importance of Post Purchase Emails

You’ve finally gotten your prospect to take the plunge.

They may have completed a purchase on your ecommerce site, or signed up as a customer for your service. You might be thinking your work is done.

While you may have achieved your initial conversion goal, some of your most important work is yet to come. And it all starts with your purchase confirmation email and the post purchase emails to follow.

Transactional emails such as order confirmations typically have the highest open rates of any commercial email, with rates often above 50% compared to closer to 20% for typical email campaigns.

It’s critical not to let this opportunity to present messaging to highly engaged customers go to waste. Then, continue to cultivate the customer relationship through the various email workflows that you can create.

Avoid Buyers Remorse

You were successful in convincing your customer to purchase, but that doesn’t mean he or she isn’t having second thoughts. You want your customer to feel like they just made the best decision in the world.

Use your order confirmation email to reinforce what made them purchase in the first place; get them even more excited to be a customer and start using your product. Especially if a customer has to wait to receive or start using your product due to manufacturing or shipping times, you don’t want the lack of instant gratification to cause the initial excitement to wane.

Bonus Tip – Get Referrals

Leverage this post-purchase excitement to generate word-of-mouth. Offer a reward such as a discount, gift card, or even commissions to a customer in exchange for referring your company to their friends and family. Software tools such as OSI Affiliate Software can assist with this.

Onboarding to Avoid Churn

Especially when it comes to SAAS (software as a service) products, the next steps after a client signs, especially for an introductory trial period, are critical.

The onboarding stage influences whether they become a long-term customer or someone likely to quickly cancel after failing to recognize the value of their ongoing investment. Aside from providing general direction for getting started and links to self-service resources, understanding what specific user-activity differentiates those customers that have gone on to become power users from those that lack engagement is crucial.

For a project management software, maybe it’s creating a first project or inviting a certain number of other users to your project. Tailoring a series of post purchase emails that help guide users to take specific actions that contribute to their engagement and ultimate success with your product can help drastically reduce abandonment and churn.

Even with physical products, producing a more active user could mean the difference between someone tossing your product in a closet after a few tries or becoming a product evangelist that helps spread the word.

Upsell / Cross Sell

If you’re offering a product or a service, you likely have complimentary products or services that would be of interest/value a customer.

The cost of marketing to an existing customer is drastically lower than acquiring a new customer. Improving the lifetime value of a customer increases overall profitability and can open up new customer acquisition opportunities that were previously cost prohibitive.

Use purchase history data to determine what other related items or services you have to offer, then create a (dynamic) email that helps the user understand how they may experience increased incremental value from your additional offerings. A new digital camera may benefit from a carrying case or zoom lens; a customer service SAAS product may benefit from integrating a live chat module. Furthermore, customers may appreciate being presented with suggestions that truly benefit them.

Learn

Customer support SAAS product Groove uses their initial onboarding email to glean important information about what made the user sign up in the first place.

They can then use key insight to tweak everything from their website copy to the product itself to further accelerate their sales. Furthermore, offer users the opportunity to choose what types of emails they receive.

They could opt-in to receive emails on specific product lines or topics that are of interest to them, only receive promotions, or you can dynamically determine which content they engage with in order to create an updated profile. Use that information to curate future follow-up emails that are more uniquely relevant to the recipient and watch your open rates and brand engagement soar.

 

Congratulations on closing a sale. Now be sure to strengthen that relationship by utilizing the aforementioned tactics and you’ll surely build your business and help maximize the value from each and every new customer.

Don’t Send Out Another Marketing Email Without This Checklist

I recently contributed an article to Business2Community and Yahoo Small Business Advisor on what to check before sending out your next email newsletter or promotional email. It was so popular and well-received that I wanted to re-post it here for my readers who may have missed it.

The original article was posted here and reprinted below:

In the fast and furious world of email marketing, it’s surprisingly easy to overlook an important element or error in your message, creating embarrassment and lost revenue opportunities for your business.

Email is an extremely valuable and cost-effective tool to engage existing and potential customers. From subject lines to the email content itself, each aspect should be carefully considered and reviewed to ensure proper relevance, accuracy and style. Only then will you best represent your brand and generate the most impact.

Forgetting to include the date of an event, missing a call to action, or even the dreaded typo can create a negative impression of your business and drastically reduce the effectiveness of your email. It’s happened to the best of us. A highly capable colleague of mine recently forgot a call to action – even with four other individuals checking over it!

So, I prepared an email marketing checklist that you, too, can utilize before hitting the send button.

  • Dont Send Out Another Marketing Email Without This Checklist image Checklist Noun project 5166.svg Is the content interesting, valuable, and important to the reader? The fastest way to burn out your list and decrease the effectiveness is by sending emails for the sake of it; those that offer no clear benefit to the reader.
  • Has your subscriber list been cleaned of unsubscribe requests or hard bounces since your last send?
  • Are you using a From: name that is more recognizable and enticing than [email protected]?
  • Is your subject line compelling and under 50 characters?
  • Is your email scheduled to be sent out at a time/day where you tend to get a lot of activity?
  • Are you sending the message out to your entire list, or just a segment of it? Is it going to the correct segment?
  • Are you using words in the subject and/or body that raise red flags for spam checkers, such as Free, $$$ or CAPITAL LETTERS?
  • If you have any dynamic, personalized fields, are they populating correctly?
  • Is the most important information “above the fold” so readers can see it without scrolling down?
  • Do your images within the email campaign have the correct alt text and title text to ensure that content can be read if images aren’t being displayed?
  • Do you have clear calls to action as both graphics and text to ensure the reader clicks through to the page where you want them to go?
  • Do you have any grammatical mistakes or typos? Especially if you wrote the content, these can be easy to miss so consider getting extra sets of eyes to check.
  • Are you using trackable URLs on all of your links so you can track the performance of your email in your analytics?
  • Is there an easy way to unsubscribe?
  • Have you tested the email on various web browsers to ensure proper formatting and compatibility?
  • Does your email render properly on mobile devices?

After sending out your next email and following the checklist above, compare your deliverability rates, open rates and click-through rates with your previous emails and see if you can start tracking a difference. After a few times, these tasks will start to become automatic. However, it’s always a good idea to refer back to make sure you aren’t forgetting any.

This email marketing checklist will increase the likelihood of your emails being received, read and acted upon, which puts you in a better position than a lot of your competition and will help you continue to grow your business.

Have you ever sent out a marketing email and realized later that there was a mistake or issue? What did you do about it? Leave a comment below or let us know about any other tips to add to our email marketing checklist!

 

How Can I Put Email Marketing to Work for Me Through Automation?

As a company grows, maintaining a relationship with customers and leads without a scalable, automated system can quickly become an unmanageable task.

 

Email marketing automation lets you stay in touch with your customers, subscribers, and prospects, reaching them at just the right moments with the right messaging and helps build stronger relationships.

 

Being able to deliver content that’s triggered by the behavior of your recipients drives more traffic to your website, increases engagement, and ultimately brings you higher sales conversions.

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Photo licensed under Creative Commons Attribution by SEO

How to Handle Online Complaints

One of the worst fears business owners face is seeing a complaint or negative customer review posted online. Whether it’s on a review site such as Yelp or Ripoffreport, social media, or even a relatively unknown site that happens to show up near the top of the search results for anyone researching your business, it’s extraordinarily frustrating for entrepreneurs. So when small business resource site RabidOfficeMonkey asked me to help their readers understand how to handle this tricky situation, I was eager to contribute.  Here’s a brief summary of some of the key takeaways, but you can read the complete text at their site here.

How many times have customer reviews or online feedback influenced your purchasing decision? We all know how important these can be and how much a negative review can impact your business; studies have also been done confirming this. Yet, no matter how much you can try to provide excellent products and services and have no intention of ever disappointing a customer, it’s likely unavoidable that at some point during the life of your business, a customer will still post something unflattering online. The important thing is what you do next.

It’s tempting to engage the complainer, especially when it comes to defending your business, employees, and even yourself. Don’t let your emotions get the best of you, because your response is likely to also become public and can further escalate the situation if not handled properly. Alternatively, a great response can be an opportunity to demonstrate your customer service values and attract new customers as a result.

  1. Stay Calm: A calm, collected approach will help appease even the toughest critic and make you look good, should your response be made public. Often customers need to vent and want to be heard. Keep your emotions in check and don’t make the situation worse. 
  2. Acknowledge and Apologize: Express empathy for their situation, even if you don’t believe you are completely responsible. The customer feels that way for a reason. Don’t make the customer feel like you’re blowing them off. Show that you understand and respect their concern. Sincerely apologize and reassure them that you will help rectify it.
  3.  Explain, Solve, and Appreciate: If you can, explain how and why the customer experienced the issue without placing blame. Accept responsibility for whatever your role was in the situation or for their negative experience in general. Describe clearly the steps you will take to rectify the situation. Exceeding their expectations with your proposed solution can really delight the customer and convert them from angry to thrilled. Show appreciation for bringing the issue to your attention and mention how you might use their feedback to make improvements to your business. This can reinforce that their voice was heard and fosters the relationship with your brand.

Often the most vocal critics become the most enthusiastic brand proponents when you solve their problem. So look at online complaints as an opportunity to discover ways to improve your business and showcase your customer service skills. Your business and your mental state will reap the benefits.

What is Inbound Marketing?

Do you love getting interrupted? Cold-calls, unsolicited emails, and advertisements, all trying desperately to get your attention while you’re in the middle of something else that you actually care about.  I didn’t think so. If you’re using these as your primary marketing tactics, how do you think that makes your target customers feel? As anyone who has spent much time cold calling knows, less than thrilled.

How much better are your conversion rates when a visitor found you through a specific organic search or when a lead calls you as a result of a referral?

While there is a time and place for this kind of traditional (outbound) marketing where companies focus on finding customers, inbound marketing is focused on getting found by customers, especially in a manner that is timely and contextually relevant.

Instead of interrupting people with ads, inbound marketers might create videos or infographics that potential customers want to see.  They create their own business blog that people subscribe to and look forward to reading, create whitepapers that establish authority and help capture leads, and guest blog on other relevant sites to generate increased awareness. Instead of cold calling, they create and distribute useful content and tools to engage prospects who ultimately reach out to them for more information.

Instead of pushing a message out in hopes of convincing the audience to become interested, inbound marketing is intended to naturally attract highly qualified customers to the business.

Successful Inbound Marketing campaigns generally incorporate three key components:

  1. Content – Content creation is at the core of inbound marketing. It is the information or tool that attracts potential customers to your site or your business and feeds your overall marketing strategy.
  2. Search Engine Optimization – Search engine optimization makes it easier for potential customers to find your content. It is the practice of building and improving your site and earning inbound links to your site to increase your ranking in search engines, where many of your customers begin their buying process.
  3. Social Media – Social media is a great distribution channel and helps amplify your content. It helps reach people outside of your actual website in places where they may already be, and as your content spreads across social media channels, it inherits greater authenticity.

In the long run, these inbound tactics can be more cost effective than paying for traditional advertising and offer a longer lifespan. With paid advertising an d outbound marketing, when you stop paying for the ads and making calls, the leads stop coming in. When you invest in content, it lives on the internet indefinitely and can continue to get found and produce results long after it’s initially introduced. You’re also reaching people who are more targeted and receptive to your offer, because they would have likely found you as a result of searching for something relevant to your business or have demonstrated interest in your content. Compelling, thought-leadership content also helps pre-qualify the lead before you make contact by establishing trust and authority.

It’s important to note, generating results through inbound marketing is far from quick and easy. If you need immediate traffic or leads, outbound tactics like pay per click can be effective. However, inbound marketing should be an crucial part of your long-term marketing strategy and ultimately can be a very compelling, cost-effective way to grow your business.

 

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