... A Roadmap for Overcoming eCommerce Speed Bumps
So you've got an eCommerce store that's ticking over.
You've done everything right - the site is built with WordPress and WooCommerce. Your product or service fulfils a niche. People are searching for it online and occasionally finding you.
You're making sales.
But deep down you know things need to improve. If your business (or at least the online portion of your business) is going to succeed and fly you need it to make more money. Consistently.
There's no one single "thing" that guarantees eCommerce success
Sorry. There isn't a silver bullet you can fire or magic pill you can swallow that will instantly kick your online store into the next gear.
As with most things in life, eCommerce success only comes when you build a solid foundation and extend it by applying effort in numerous different areas.
At ShopMonster, we've worked with many different eCommerce businesses over the years. In that time, we've established which areas need to be worked on. We've also come to understand that some areas build off of others.
As such, we've established a roadmap for building and growing a successful eCommerce store.
It looks something like this...
1. Start in the right place
There's no point growing your business on virtual quicksand. You need a solid foundation on which to build your online sales platform.
The hub of this platform is your website and eCommerce store. WordPress and WooCommerce are what we recommend.
Your site needs to live somewhere so it can be accessed 24/7. When potential customers visit your site you need to be confident it won't be down for maintenance and that it will be quick to browse. This all requires good quality hosting. We recommend a professional managed host like WP Engine.
2. Make your site roadworthy
When you're preparing for a long journey you need to be sure you're travelling in a sound vehicle. And you'll want to check your oil, water and tyre pressure before you leave.
In the case of your eCommerce website, you need to make sure it's built with the search engines in mind, giving you the best chance of being seen by people typing in search terms that are relevant to your product or service. We recommend a Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) friendly WordPress framework like Genesis or Storefront and suggest you only use reputable plugins.
3. Optimise your route
Only taxi drivers choose long, circuitous routes. The rest of us want to get to our destination as quickly as possible.
The same is true of your customers.
If you've followed points 1 and 2, you should now be getting a little traffic to your site. If not, you may need to revisit the focus of your product or service... is it targeting a niche that is a) online and b) willing to buy?
You need to make the most of the traffic you are getting. We call this Conversion Rate Optimisation (CRO).
CRO entails removing all friction between your landing pages and your checkout. There are many ways of doing this, here are some biggies we recommend you tackle first:
- Responsive design - does your site look good on all devices your customer might use to browse it?
- Navigation - how easy is it for your customer to find what they are looking for?
- Trust - can the customer be confident you know what you're talking about and that buying from you is safe?
- Simplicity - is checking out a chore? Do you offer payment options your customers want to use?
4. Bring the goal closer to you
Now you're making more of your existing traffic you should be seeing a little uptick in sales. This should give you some breathing room to spend time getting more visitors to your site. And don't be fooled. It is going to take time.
Assuming you are already travelling at the maximum safe speed for your vehicle (because you made sure it was well maintained and tuned - see point 2 above) and you're already travelling the quickest route to your destination (see point 3), then to make the journey shorter you have to bring the goal closer.
This means luring potential customers, who may not even know you exist, closer to your platform. The only way to do this consistently is with engaging content that is of direct benefit to them.
We call this content marketing.
You need to write authoritative articles that are pertinent to your product or service, and that are useful to your potential customers. It's the best way to earn high rankings in the search engines. This (in time) lures prospects to your site. And once there, those prospects will see you as a trusted source and thought leader in your space, making them much more likely to buy from you than from a competitor.
5. Engage autopilot
Once your content marketing has been in place for a while you should start seeing a steady rise in traffic per month. Consequently, you should also see a rise in conversions.
You're now well into your journey - you've probably turned on cruise control. But we can do better than cruise control - this is the dawn of the age of the self-driving car after all!
Now is the time to leverage automation.
There are a number of automated funnels you can set up for your site. They can be used to recover sales you might otherwise have lost or to move luke-warm prospects towards conversion. Here are some to get you started:
- Abandoned cart recovery
- Incentivised reviews
- Dripped email courses (you are building an email list right?)
- Post-sale follow-up emails
It can take a little while to set these up, but once they're running they act like little salesmen who never sleep and work on bringing you sales indefinitely.
Now with your time freed up again, you can plough back into content marketing to drive more traffic, or Conversion Rate Optimisation to improve the number of conversions from your existing traffic.
Either way, you have completed the virtuous circle of eCommerce success!
This has been a high level overview of the 5 steps to building a successful eCommerce store. It should give you an idea of the things you need to do to nudge your WooCommerce site up a gear.
But you're probably wondering where you can get more detail on each of the steps? Wonder no longer. We've got you covered.
We've prepared a free, in-depth course that goes into much greater detail on each stage of the process. It also sets out the most important actions you need to take at each stage and explains how to do them.
Each step in the roadmap is delivered separately by email to avoid overwhelm. To sign up and get started just scroll down and enter your email address. It's as easy as that!
Do you have the time?
You might have read through this article and be thinking to yourself "I understand this is what I need to do to make a success of my online store... but I just don't think I or my staff can spare the time."
You're not alone.
We've worked with many businesses over the years, who know they need to invest time into their sites but simply don't have the human resources to do it.
And outsourcing the work to a competent third party is prohibitively expensive if your site isn't already thriving.
This is why we founded ShopMonster.
We've catalogued the processes that we've used on every eCommerce site in the past to drive sales. We've combined these processes with the best practices we've learned from the thought leaders in the areas of SEO, CRO and content marketing.
We've systematised these processes so we can put them into place as efficiently as possible. This allows us to offer these services at an affordable monthly rate.
If you're interested in us putting the 5 step roadmap into action on your site you can contact us.
If you're not ready to apply and want to start taking action yourself, sign up to the free email course below and we'll start sending you the nitty gritty.
Either way, get in touch with us in the comments below or on Twitter and let us know what you think of the roadmap, where you are in the 5 step process or what advice you have for other online businesses.