5 eCommerce Marketing & Business Mistakes to Avoid (Slidedeck & Video)
With so many affordable, accessible and customizable platforms, it’s never been easier to create an online store and sell through established marketplaces. But the growth of your eCommerce business depends on your ability to acquire new customers and increase sales from existing ones. Every marketing channel costs time, money or energy, and it’s up to you to find the right balance for your business. Even for the most experienced eCommerce professionals, growing revenue and scaling up can be a challenge.
Mistakes are a natural part of all growth and can serve as excellent learning opportunities. That said, we can probably all agree we’d still prefer to avoid them in the first place. Being aware of the most common pitfalls that other entrepreneurs experience in eCommerce can help you avoid costly mistakes and missed opportunities.
This week, Printful invited me to speak with their customers about common eCommerce mistakes to avoid. I was delighted to participate in Printful Threads, their online conference series for both new and experienced ecommerce store owners looking to take their business to the next level. You can watch a recording of the event below, and download my presentation deck here.
To help eCommerce businesses avoid the most common pitfalls that new sellers make, I’ve drawn on the experience of the Wix team in running an eCommerce platform, as well as the experience of our network of over 500,000 online stores worldwide, to assemble these tips for the top 5 eCommerce mistakes to avoid.
01. Not Knowing Your Target Audience
One of the biggest mistakes a business owner can make is not clearly defining your target audience or taking the time to understand what makes your customers tick.
You can’t really expect the right people to just show up at your website simply because you have a product they might need or want. You need to let them know about your business and get them to notice your products. And to do that, you need to know who they are and how you can reach them.
Without a clear idea of who your target audience is, you’re essentially going into every single marketing initiative completely blind. Knowing your audience will help you figure out which images to use for ads, which words to use in descriptions, which social channels to aggressively maintain, and more.
So get hyper-invested on understanding your potential customers.
What are their problems or pain points?
What are they looking for?
What are their hobbies and interests?
Which groups or subcultures do they belong to?
What values are important to them?
Where and how do they engage with content online?
Defining and understanding your target audience will help you create a brand message that resonates with them and a shopping journey that entices them to buy time and time again.
02. Not Knowing which eCommerce Channels to Choose
It’s not enough to know who your target customers are; you also need to know how to reach them best. Are they on Facebook? Do they shop on Amazon or eBay? Do they read email newsletters? If you don’t know the answers to these questions, your products probably won’t ever be seen by relevant shoppers, no matter how valuable they may be.
eCommerce channels don’t all work the same or even cater to the same audience. Some are great for reaching shoppers who are actively searching for a product, while others work well for reaching shoppers who have previously interacted with your online store. Selling online is an endless process of trial and error, testing and optimization. Understand how new channels work and then don’t be afraid to try new ways of reaching potential shoppers.
Start by defining the ideal results for your marketing efforts.
Do you want to:
Attract potential customers who are actively searching
Re-engage your past customers
Reach out to totally new prospects
Increase traffic quantity and/or quality
Based on your goals, select the eCommerce channels best suited to connecting your business to potential shoppers:
Search Engines are excellent tools for targeting people actively looking for a product. These shoppers are already interested and tend to convert quicker. Search engines like Google and Bing offer many advertising options, like text ads, image ads, product listings, and voice search marketing. By optimizing your eCommerce website’s SEO, you can rank organically for related search terms and grow valuable unpaid traffic sources to your site.
Online Marketplaces are also a great way to reach actively searching shoppers who can easily browse through lots of products from different categories. Amazon and eBay are popular marketplaces that can provide exposure to many shoppers, but can also be very competitive. Smaller niche or local marketplaces might offer more visibility and generate sales at a lower cost.
Email Marketing is a great way to reach shoppers with great conversion potential. These are either past customers who already purchased from you or shoppers interested enough in your business to give you their email address, which makes them more likely to make a purchase from you in the future.
Retargeting lets you target shoppers who visit your website. Many shoppers abandon their carts, but are often still interested and easier to convert. Remarketing can be done through channels like Google and Facebook by adding a unique tracking pixel to your website so that site visitors can be served ads later on. Also make sure to set up automated emails for abandoned carts to remind shoppers about the products they are considering from your site.
Social Networks let you reach shoppers who aren’t necessarily actively looking for a product but are open to new ideas or content. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest are used by hundreds of millions of people around the world every day and offer very granular targeting capabilities based on lifestyle, demographic and behavior.
03. Not Investing in Your Product Pages
Potential customers don’t physically interact with your products before they buy them, but they do engage with your product pages. Your product pages need to convince shoppers to buy the product from your site rather than from somebody else.
Create great product pages that entice shoppers:
Provide accurate and tempting product descriptions, including features, specifications and benefits.
Display your products with high quality product photographs or videos.
Include product reviews and testimonials which are major drivers in converting buyers - but make sure that reviews appear valid and authentic.
Optimize the SEO for your product pages - include all relevant keywords, and make sure that you’re not copy pasting manufacturer or supplier descriptions as duplicate content will cause your pages to be penalized by search engines.
04. Creating Poor Shopping Experiences
Once shoppers make it through the initial steps of your sales funnel, it’s time to close the deal. Unfortunately, this is a time where a lot of eCommerce businesses see abandoned carts. If a shopper has decided that they want to buy your product, don’t put any obstacles in their way.
Simplify your Shopping Cart. If shoppers need to fumble through the checkout process, they are likely to get frustrated and give up before ever making a purchase. To increase conversions, make the checkout process as simple as possible and eliminate as many steps as possible from your shopping cart. Keep buttons big and text small, and remove any unnecessary fields.
Don’t require shoppers to set up an account before buying a product. Give shoppers a streamlined checkout to buy the product they want and give you their money. Then worry about adding them to your brand community or CRM lists.
Don’t surprise shoppers with unexpected fees. Making a purchase involves a degree of trust and you don’t want to give shoppers any reason to think that you’re not being upfront with them. Unexpected fees like taxes or shipping fees can drive away potential customers. This doesn’t mean that you should cover the cost of tax and shipping yourself - simply provide all of this information well before shoppers reach the checkout page.
Give shoppers enough payment options. You don’t want to lose a customer because they can’t functionally pay you. There are dozens of online payment methods, from credit cards to digital wallets and mobile payment solutions. You don’t need to offer all of the options, but find out which payment methods your target customers prefer and focus on those.
05. Providing Poor Customer Care
Your customers are the lifeblood of your business. Not only is it easier to and more profitable to keep an existing customer, but they’ll probably send you more business if you offer amazing customer service.
Poor customer care, from slow response time or showing impatience, to not offering refunds, is a sure way to lose existing customers and avoid getting new ones.
Customer care includes a lot different things - how you:
Respond to shopper’s messages on your website
Answer questions and comments on social media
Address customer complaints over the phone and via email
Be there when your customers need you and offer them your full attention and support.
Learn from these eCommerce Mistakes to Sell More and Grow Online
Understanding common mistakes made by both first-time and experienced eCommerce businesses alike is essential to your growth.
To start with, you’ll be able to better anticipate and avoid making these same mistakes. But you’ll also learn that making these mistakes won’t necessarily be the demise of your business either.
If you understand that you made the mistake and fix it, your business will continue to grow and thrive. Not only will your eCommerce website be optimized for success, you’ll also create a following of happy, loyal customers that are excited to buy your products again and again.
For more tips like these, check out the latest posts on our eCommerce Blog.
Liat Karpel Gurwicz
Liat has led Strategic Marketing for Wix.com since 2014, including marketing efforts for Wix's creative, professional and business audiences. She currently leads Wix’s eCommerce marketing and business activities.