Interstellar Digital Marketing

Back to Basics: Ecommerce Foundations for 2018

With the New Year fast approaching, many merchants and marketers are exploring new and innovative ways to grow their business in 2018. And while we’re all for coming up with new ideas and testing creative approaches, we believe it’s important to have the basics in place before expanding outside the box.

Rather than predict the hottest trends for 2018 or reflect on the newest approaches in 2017, we thought we’d round out this year by going back to the basics. Following are the key foundational elements that any ecommerce merchant should have in place before testing any new strategies or tactics.

1. Configure Your Analytics Account

Installing Google Analytics on your website is a must, but the default configuration is not enough if you’re truly looking to understand web trends and make accurate and actionable business decisions. There are several key settings, reports and features that must be addressed to ensure you’re working with clean data that’s focused on your specific KPIs, such as:

  • Setting up Ecommerce tracking to measure transactions and revenue
  • Filtering our domains and IPs to remove cross-domain and internal traffic
  • Setting up goal and event tracking to measure other desirable on-site actions, such as signing up for a newsletter, getting directions to your retail store, calling customer services, etc.
  • Linking AdWords and Google Search Console to track paid and organic performance from one interface
  • Defining Custom Channel Groupings to clean up mis-categorized traffic sources
  • Filtering out Spam sources for cleaner data
  • Enabling Demographic reports to learn more about your site visitors
  • Creating Audience and Content Segments to better understand relative value of each audience and content type

For more information of enhancing your Google Analytics configuration, see our blogs “Not Your Typical Google Analytics Implementation” and “Know Your Google Analytics Default Settings.”

2. Define Your Audience

Most merchants have a feel for who their customers are, but all too often this is either anecdotal or aspirational, and not rooted in data. To ensure that you’re reaching the right people at the right time, you need to know who these people are so that you can focus your site’s content and marketing messages to be as impactful as possible.

Use your now clean Google Analytics data, Shopify or Bigcommerce customer data, Facebook audience insights and email lists to learn demographic, psychographic and behavioral data, allowing you to zero in on your ideal customers.

Next, map out each customer’s purchase journey to learn what they need at each stage, what channels they’re using and what messaging will speak to them. Share these personas and journeys with everyone in your company--from sales and marketing to operations and customer service--so that everyone knows who they are trying to reach.

3. Choose a Flexible Ecommerce Platform

Your ecommerce store needs to not only look great, it needs to function without a hitch to ensure customers can purchase without issue and your internal team can make the changes they need without requiring in-depth web development skills. Ecommerce platforms like Shopify and Bigcommerce allow for this flexibility and scalability.

With these ecommerce platforms, you can bring your store to market quickly, affordably and without cutting corners. All sites built on these platforms are mobile responsive, cross-browser tested and extremely flexible, allowing your internal team to do more with fewer resources and less overhead. Plus, the added sales features and integrations allow you to focus on continued growth after the site has launched, because despite what we learned in the late ‘80s, if you simply build it, they won’t come.

4. Make Your Site Search Friendly

Organic search is used by consumers at every stage of their journey from initial awareness through validation and on into advocacy. So it’s not wonder that organic often makes up the largest portion of traffic to ecommerce sites and why it’s critical to any merchant’s success. Choosing the right keywords to reach consumers at each stage, and optimizing your website to include these keywords in strategic areas (i.e., URL structure, page meta data, page content, internal linking) is imperative in getting the most from this high-volume traffic source.

5. Embrace Email Marketing

Email isn’t the flashiest of channels, but it sure does bring the bling for ecommerce merchants! To the tune of 38:1 ROI! Getting the basics down with email isn’t difficult and pay off big time when it comes to engaging with customers and driving sales. Automated Cart Abandonment Series and Welcome Series are the logical place to start. Once you have these dialed in, consider expanding to other automated email campaigns.

6. Monitor Performance & Make Improvements

Digital marketing isn’t a set-it-and-forget-it effort. You must continually monitor web trends and traffic performance to understand where customers are dropping from your site, which channels are working for you and where you need to make improvements to continue driving more sales and growing your business.

Once you have these foundational items covered, then and only then should you look to new ideas and approaches. Let’s all pledge to make our business resolutions to get back to the basics in 2018!