8 Things You Must Do When Launching an E-Commerce Brand Online
Everyone is an entrepreneur these days and you can’t scroll down your Facebook news-feed without seeing an offer for some type of online money making course, drop shipping course or other e-commerce business offer.
Let me tell you the truth about e-commerce. The people selling the bullshit guru courses and coaching are making more money than the actual e-commerce store owners. There are thousands of new online stores being launched daily, making the competition extremely difficult.
Sadly, most of the courses and online programs that people pay thousands for lead to nothing but disappointment and the store closes when the person can’t afford the monthly hosting any longer.
With that being said, it is also very possible to launch a successful e-commerce brand online and make a lot of money in doing so. There are entrepreneurs that are launching brands that drive six-figures in sales monthly and over a million dollar annually.
With so many people looking for information on how to successfully launch an online store, I figured it was a good time to really lay out the eight points you have to address in order to find success in the e-commerce world.
It doesn’t matter if you are using an out of the box solution like Shopify, a WordPress solution like WooCommerce, or a complete custom solution..
These tips will apply to any new e-commerce brand.
1. Create an affiliate program and a customer referral program.
The cost of advertising can be a huge expense, especially if your product is in a competitive niche. One of the most effective ways to drive sales without having to invest additional advertising dollars, is by creating an affiliate program that is attractive to top affiliate marketers and a customer referral program that will be attractive to your customers, present and future.
Your affiliate program needs to offer a healthy payout and attractive terms. For example, a high commission and a weekly payout is more attractive to an affiliate than one that pays out every 30 days. They have to invest their own money into promoting your product, so frequent payouts will attract the more aggressive affiliates, and the sooner you can pay them, the sooner they can deploy more ad spend and scale the promotion effort. This results in more sales for your business.
A customer referral program needs to be enticing enough to get them to share a coupon code or referral link with their friends. If you give them the option to earn credit towards free product, it can lead to more sales and adding additional customers to your data base that will then also promote. When done correctly, it can create a snowball effect. This can be very effective, especially for products with massive margins. This enables you to offer incentives that really create your customers to start promoting your product heavily. Remember, make it as simple as possible for them to share and earn rewards.
2. Be willing to spend advertising dollars.
I suggest focusing on just two forms of paid advertising in the beginning. If you spread yourself too thin in the beginning you won’t be bale to fine tune an optimize, leading to low conversion numbers and thin revenue.
The two best options are Facebook ads and PPC via Google AdWords. These are the two platforms with the most traffic potential.
Use Facebook to attract customers that don’t know what they want to buy, and Google AdWords to target those customers that know what they want to buy. Let me explain each a bit more.
If someone is on Facebook, they aren’t exactly looking for a certain product. They didn’t login to their Facebook account saying, “I hope I see an ad for a new pair of sunglasses.” But, if you target correctly, you can place your ads in front of people that are likely to be interested in what you are selling. If your ad is compelling enough, and your offer is strong, you have the potential to generate sales this way.
Google AdWords is different. Someone might be Googling “black UV blocking sunglasses” because they have intent to purchase a pair. With smart keyword bidding, you can put those people with buyer intent directly in front of an offer that matches their needs and wants.
You are targeting two different people using these two platforms. Impulse buyers and those with the goal of purchasing. You might find one works better than the other, and that is when you adjust your budget accordingly. They are the two biggest advertising opportunities for e-commerce, so be sure to test both adequately.
3. Focus on one product line or one single product to start.
You don’t need a lot of products, you just need one really good one. It needs to solve a problem or be a major convenience. I see a lot of people trying to launch e-commerce stores that rival Amazon, with several categories and multiple products in each.
It’s much better to start with one product, or a very small line, with a few different products. This allows you to master advertising and promotion, and then once the revenue is there you can expand your offering.
One of the easiest ways to blow through your advertising budget is to send visitors to the store homepage in hopes that they will search your store and find something that they like. This will never happen, simply because consumers are lazy.
You have to send them directly to a product that they have shown interest in, and the easiest way to do this is to limit your offerings in the beginning and focus on attracting those buyers first.
I’ll give you a perfect example: the fit tea craze. This was a product that exploded online, thanks to influencer marketing. A couple leaders in the space used the momentum to expand their offerings to include additional health supplements. You can always expand, so start small and focused, and once that product is mastered you can add more. Too much on your plate in the beginning can sink you quickly.
4. Attempt to recover and convert customers abandoning your cart.
Just because someone adds a product to your shopping cart that doesn’t mean it’s a done deal. There are countless reports online that show shopping cart abandonment rates are between 60% and 80%, which is extremely high. You almost have to approach the situation assuming all of your consumers are going to try to leave before they complete the checkout process.
Because of this, it’s vital that you have some sort of process in place to stop the abandonment, and convert that person into a sale. There are plenty of plugins and tools that are pre-built to help with this, since it’s such a common concern facing every store owner.
The trick is to have such a compelling offer that the consumer is prompted to purchase, rather than continue their exit plan. Whatever you decide to offer, it needs to be instant and you need to make it very simple for the customer. Never make them have to check their email for a discount code, because that is an extra step that will drastically decrease the odds of them taking you up on your offer.
A popup that says, “Don’t leave just yet…we just applied a 10% off coupon to your order. Click here to take us up on this offer” makes it a no-effort process for the consumer to bit on the offer. The offer greatly depends on what you are selling. Craft something that is very hard to pass up, as the more enticing the offer, the more people that will bite.
5. Incorporate upsells into your funnel.
It’s much easier to get a current customer to buy more from you, then it is to get a brand new customer into your shopping cart. Every single customer you get to your website has a cost associated with it, whether it’s a cost per click or a cost per impression…no visitor is free.
The easiest way to increase your revenue is by getting your current customers to buy more. Upsells are very easy, and you can offer nice discounts on upsells because you already have the customer on your website.
Let’s just assume your average cost to acquire a customer is $30. You could offer $20 off a second product and you would end up making $10 more profit on that item than you would if you were attracting a brand new customer.
Offers like buy one get the second half off or bundle deals will typically perform the best. You want to make the customer feel like he or she is receiving an exceptional deal. Naturally, the sweeter the offer, the more that will convert on it.
6. Offer a subscription option.
If your product is something that someone needs to reorder, then make it very easy for them by offering a subscription option. This is a win/win situation for both you and the customer. They receive a discounted price for signing up to a subscription option and you receive a repeat customer on autopilot that you don’t have to market to again.
Dollar shave club offers disposable razors, delivered right to your door every month. This is something that you would have to go out and buy every month. They offer them cheaper and delivered right to you. It’s a major convenience, and that is why their subscription model was so successful, and what led to them being purchased for $1 billion.
Amazon is another perfect example. They offer a discount if you subscribe to an auto-ship program. It makes perfect sense for products like paper towels, toilet paper, etc. If you are saving the customer money and also giving them convenience, you will sell much more volume over time if you offer this option.
Everything that I am outlining there works hand in hand. For example, the most customers you get on the subscription plan, the more that will bite on your referral program, leading to that snowball effect I mentioned before.
There are many plugins and add-ons that will handle your subscriptions. Make them auto-rebill to make your life easier. You also want to make it simple for your customer to edit rebills in a customer dashboard. This option will limit the amount of cancellations and charge backs, and can also lead to them adding even more products to their subscription.
7. Streamline your checkout process.
Make your checkout process as easy as possible. While you can offer an option to create an account on your site, you never want to make that required. Not every customer is going to want his or her information stored in your system. Having a guest checkout option is mandatory if you want to convert the highest number of potential customers.
A single step checkout is always preferred and you never want to have more than two steps. The more options and information fields you have, the more time the customer has to back out and attempt to abandon the checkout process. While you can have shopping cart abandonment offers in place, as mentioned above, a streamlined checkout process will reduce them greatly.
8. Focus on product page SEO rankings.
My agency gets a lot of authority link requests for e-commerce stores, but most of the orders want links pointed at the homepage. This isn’t always the smartest approach, though, and I will explain why.
It’s hard to rank a homepage for product keywords, simply because they aren’t optimized on-page for just one product. Also, if a potential buyer lands on your homepage they still have to search your website to find the purchase option.
It’s much smarter to optimize each product’s page to rank organically, and fire authority links at these pages. It’s much easier to rank them this way, and your conversion rates will be higher, as you are sending the traffic to the page where the purchase can occur.
You can’t sell a product without a lot of thought and research behind it, and you can’t throw up a website without the time and money commitment to make it successful, by following the steps outlined above.
A lot of it has to do with the product you are selling and who you are targeting, but as long as you have that point down, these tips can help you to build a successful e-commerce store.
If you have any specific questions, or want to add your own input, do so below in the comments. I’d love to have successful e-commerce store owners add their own tips and suggestions.
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