Before the pandemic, ecommerce was important to some of us, an extra channel to support retail stores to many of us, and an ever-growing necessity to all of us.
Now everything has changed.
If the first lockdowns of 2020 got us thinking about growing our ecommerce channels, then the second and third waves of Covid-19 in 2021 have all businesses rethinking the importance of digital and the abundant opportunities of ecommerce.
Forrester research predicts that digital customer service interactions will increase by a whopping 40%.
This increased reliance on online shopping, digital finance services and even health consultancy being delivered virtually isn’t going away.
Sure, we’ll flock to the malls and stores when we get the chance but as consumers, we’ve also realised that we don’t have to travel halfway across a city to have a bargain or an essential purchase land at our door.
We’re becoming more aware that the clothing or electronics or homeware item we need can we hunted out online, often with more choice, better pricing, and amazingly speedy deliver from around the world, let alone from across town.
Competitive websites and particularly ecommerce websites can’t endure a cold face of function and form – to maintain their market position, or push beyond, they need to evolve and interact with users – here are four insights to help improve in this new reality of ecommerce prominence and the customer experience.
Your business needs to be always on – because your customers are.
No matter the time of day or night, no matter how busy you are or under resourced you are, your customers are always on.
So, your ecommerce site or online business needs to be always ready to engage and provide the right information for your customers.
Of course, the digital environment lends itself to provide the right technology to provide the support and answers your customer’s demand.
Searchable and categorised knowledge bases and wikis provide information and assurances to customers literally instantaneously. They can be updated and added to quickly and are inexpensive to install even for the most modest of ecommerce stores.
Live chat can also provide customers instant access to answers. And when not manned by real people, bots step in to provide timely information to the most regular questions.
Pop ups and artificial intelligence can provide answers to customers exploring special product features or pricing pages.
Browse abandonment and cart abandonment automated workflows can re-engage with us long after we would have left the physical stores carpark.
Start small and put ideas to the test
Digital allows us to experiment at a relatively low cost.
We can identify a single pain point within our shoppers’ funnel and address that with conversational intelligence or a reworked workflow.
If results show promise, we update and test some more.
We can then introduce the change and scale at will – keeping an improved customer experience at the centre of our objectives.
Map and improve the Customer Journey
The customer journey consists of four key parts. These are:
By exploring the CX at each one of these stages, you can improve the overall customer experience with you. This begins with helping them find you.
Map and evaluate the customer journey to determine where customer needs might not coordinate with what you have to offer. Then you can plan for an even better experience by making the sales journey as smooth as possible.
Becoming empathetic and real
In the past, we’ve felt we’re more in control of the customer experience, when that experience was face to face, or at least person to person.
With a mechanical ecommerce relationship that empathy with customers is often lost.
But data from all touchpoints can provide extraordinary insights into the customers’ requirements and feeling.
We just need to spend the time to understand what the data is telling us.
High bounce rates on certain product pages might indicate that we haven’t clearly delivered the benefits of that product over another.
Abandonment during checkout might indicate that our shipping costs are too high.
Not receiving a message to confirm delivery might leave customers anxious that the parcel has gone astray.
Sending a thank you note in the mail is likely to leave a customer highly impressed and they are bound to pass the positive experience on to friends.
Despite the digital process of ecommerce transactions and touch points, or because of them, many online businesses can dramatically improve the customer experience.
Indeed, improving CX is the ultimate objective of our online marketing activity.
If we outgun our competitors with Customer Experience there’s an absolute probability our brand will flourish.
Data analysis, conversion optimisation, marketing automation, artificial intelligence and more, have big parts to play in ensuring we improve and tune the customers’ experience. Just think to when you were most delighted from an online experience – can you emulate that in your business and the way you deliver ecommerce or any sort of website engagement and transaction.
You never get a second chance to make a first impression.
You need to present the best possible homepage design for your specific audience and ensure you’re presenting your products or services to their best by highlighting their unique qualities and benefits.
Undoubtedly, your website homepage is the most critical page on your website.
Sure, you might have special landing pages funnelling leads from your Google Ad campaigns, and lead capture pages pushing for conversions, or ecommerce product pages that garner a direct sale, but your homepage is most often where it all starts.
Your homepage is most likely to be the first page that your website visitors will see when they land on your website.
It’s the first impression prospects will have of your business – it’s the greeting at the door that welcomes visitors in or scares them away!
So, let’s explore some of the most important aspects of the perfect website homepage…
A compelling headline that talks directly to the customer
On the homepage the headline is a summation of your value proposition – it should distinctly express what this website and business can uniquely offer the visitor – that is, “what’s in it for me”.
Like a newspaper, we’ll certainly read the headlines – if something takes our interest we’ll read further.
If the article introduction resonates with us, we’ll keep reading – perhaps just skimming the sub-headings, images and bullet points, to the point that we’ve formed an opinion or have decided to take an action.
In short, presenting a compelling headline front and centre on your website homepage is the most important element you can create when designing your page. It’s the element we give the most attention in our website design and development process.
If you can’t describe your business to your visitors in that one sentence and if it doesn’t connect with their issues, then you’re not going to convert website traffic into sales.
Keep in mind these questions when creating your homepage headline:
Who are you? (What is your company, product, or service about?)
What do you do? (What does your company, product, or service actually do for its users?)
How are you better than your competitors? (How does your company, product, or service uniquely solve a problem or fulfil a need in a way that’s better than the other options available?)
Help your audience understand exactly what you do
If you managed to get your visitors through your door with a compelling headline, now you can tell them a little more about how you can solve their problem.
Its great idea to be upfront with what you do at this point – prospects want confirmation they have come to the right place – so, tell them…
We offer same day delivery of flower bouquets in the Auckland area.
We supply and install European sourced tiles for commercial projects.
We provide retail display systems for multi-store retailers.
Deliver concise and unique benefits
Our mantra at Engage is “Go beyond what you sell and focus on why it matters”(to your audience).
But so many brands use their website platform to talk about themselves.
No doubt your background and story is important to you – just make it relevant to the prospect.
The only reason you should mention that you’ve been in business since 1998, is if you back that up that your experience has developed a high quality product that will last for years.
Focus on what your research says is most important to your customer – they are most interested in what’s in it for THEM.
Prospects want to know about the benefits of buying from you, versus your competitors, because that’s what will compel them to make an enquiry or purchase.
So you need to explicitly state the factors that will compel them to buy from you rather than the other 4 websites they have up on their browser?
If they’re in research mode they want to see that your solution ticks all the boxes and more.
So place your key product or service benefits upfront on the home page and encourage prospects to read more.
On the home page, use support copy or emphasis copy to briefly explain how prospects will benefit from your product or service. If relevant, quantify the benefit with real numbers and state the timeframe that the benefit will be delivered in.
Using our Growthology Engine we’ll increase your leads by 20% within 3 months.
Buy with confidence – 30 day money-back guarantee
The difference between features and benefits
Features are facts about products or services; they add credibility and substance to your sales pitch.
Benefits give customers a reason to buy because they explain how your product or service improves their lives.
To translate features into benefits, answer the question “So what?”
The benefits are the primary reason a prospect will buy your product. When it comes to purchasing, people are self-centred – they want things that solve their problems.
The Features-Benefits Matrix
Get your thoughts together by mapping out a Features Benefits Matrix – it will help crystallise how features of your product or service can match the benefits you can deliver your customers.
Provide a prompt for visitors to engage with you
Most of the visitors to your website won’t be ready to buy from you, just yet.
Your goal is to get them to engage with you and then hopefully convert in the near future.
We don’t necessarily purchase the first shirt we see at the first store we visit, and we certainly don’t buy a new vehicle on the first visit to a car yard.
And so it is with a website visit – we’re not necessarily going to buy the first $100 headphones we find and we’re certainly going to research the hell out of $1000 tablet purchase.
We need to give visitors the necessary incentive, information, or time to make their commitment.
Providing an incentive is an obvious approach for an ecommerce store, where we’ll regularly see coupon offers delivered through homepage pop ups. Take 10% off your first purchase with this coupon code. Subscribe and get 15% off your first order.
If you’re an app or software provider, a free trial or demo is a great way to reduce the barriers to purchasing – including a lack of experience with your solution or the trust that your app will deliver as promised.
If you’re a B2B business, and prospects simply need to get to know you better, then offer a high-value content offer (HVCO) that exchanges their email for your valuable content like a how-to guide, a clever cheat sheet or access to instructional videos.
The objective for most of these offers is gaining an email address, whereby you’ll have permission to engage with that prospect on a regular basis until you’ve given them the confidence to buy from you, or they’re simply ready to make the leap and call you, book a meeting, visit your store, ask for a quote or make a purchase online.
Include prominent Calls-to-Action
The goal of your homepage is to compel visitors to dig deeper into your website and move them through your sales funnel – from awareness of your business, to interest and on to a purchase decision.
On your homepage, you’re not likely to know the visitors intention – are they just researching, have they just discovered you, or are they ready to make a purchase, call you or request a quote, right now?
Include two or three calls-to-action (CTA) above the fold of your homepage to encourage a deep dive into your website or to take action of some sort.
However, don’t confuse customers with too many opposing options.
Make sure you use a call-to-action title that makes sense and conveys value. A CTA like “Subscribe Now” is OK but how about “Subscribe Now & Get Free eBook” – now I’m interested.
Here’s a tip: Your CTA is where you want your visitors to focus their attention. It’s an invitation: Here’s what to do next. Create better CTA titles by completing the sentence, “I want to _______“.
Help prospects engage with your business by figuring out where to take them on the next step.
Make your website homepage work brilliantly on mobile
For most of our clients, even if they are B2B, their mobile traffic accounts for 60% of website traffic (and climbing). You’ll be surprised what consumers are getting done on their mobile phones even if they have an accessible desktop alternative.
So, no matter your business, your website homepage must work on mobile.
We’re typically building with Responsive Design – that is, we’ll use a framework like bootstrap to quickly build fluid web pages with a set of common HTML and CSS components that adapt the same content for both a desktop and mobile screen.
In fact, many of our websites take a “Mobile First” philosophy where we design layout for mobile first and consider desktop second.
We’re usually laying mobile content to one or two columns wide, which means that any one time the user is viewing just one or two pieces of information.
We need to cleverly use the scrolling and horizontal flicking effects on mobile.
And we should consider the auto population of forms, address finders and clickable phone numbers – all to make the mobile experience of your homepage an effortless one.
We’ll declutter screens using hamburger menus – those 3 stacked lines. And design special flyout menus to help users navigate a website.
And adding sticky call-to-action buttons is a great way to make our important actions always present on a user’s screen.
Test alternative homepage designs
In an ideal world we should be continually testing and retesting ideas and content on our homepage.
An improved homepage has the ability to reduce bounce rate (the percentage of visitors who don’t go further) and more importantly, double your conversions.
Even a 5% lift in conversions could mean a significant return on investment from A/B testing copy, images and call-to-action options.
A/B testing, sometimes also referred to as split testing, is a way to compare elements on a page against each other to determine which performs better in terms of page views, time on page, conversions, bounce rate, etc.
There are numerous free and paid tools that help us do this, like Google Optimize – so if you’re unsure which headline works best, test it.
Include Social Proof and Trustmarks on your homepage
Whether we’re purchasing a T-shirt, a dental exam, a furniture removal service, or a complex retail shelving system we want to know that we can trust the company that we’re go to purchase from or consult with.
Of course, the level of trust required will depend on the quantity of money we’re about to part with.
That trust might come from dealing with a well-known local retailers or a highly credible international brands – so showing the logos of current customers that you deal with, may instil confidence in potential customers.
Memberships and accreditations are another way to demonstrate your expertise in certain fields
Embedding your ratings and reviews with trusted aggregators like Google Reviews or Trustpilot is another way to display your creditability.
The homepage of your website is the window to your business.
It’s fundamental that the homepage communicates the right impression otherwise prospects will bounce and venture no further into your website.
The perfect homepage website design needs to include these key elements if it to perfectly present your brand and encourage visitors to find out more or buy from you:
A compelling headline that conveys your unique value proposition.
Copy that explains to your audience exactly what you do so that they get you.
An outline of your brand’s benefits – what’s in it for a customer.
Reasons for your prospects to engage with you.
Direct and prominent calls-to-action – to direct prospects to trial, view more or buy.
Your website homepage must work brilliantly on mobile – because 60% or more of your users will be using their mobile to browse your homepage.
An ability to test alternative homepage designs to optimise conversion with the best layout as proven by your website visitors.
Inclusion of social proof and trustmarks to provide more reason for prospects to buy from you.
Contact us today on 09 309 5050 or email firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to discuss theredevelopment of your homepage into a conversion machine!
Meet the evolution of personalised email, sales nurturing campaigns, visitor analytics, lead scoring, content management and social media engagement and so much more – its called Marketing Automation.
Defining Marketing Automation
Marketing automation refers to software platforms and technologies designed for marketing departments and agencies to more effectively market on multiple channels online (such as email, social media, websites, etc.) and automate repetitive tasks.
We’re now working with one central marketing automation platform that has taken over from our old email marketing system. It most useful tools for us include:
Personalised nurturing workflows – it’s easy to build these workflows, send out nurturing emails, check prospect engagement with those emails, track website page visits, and so on
Score leads based on engagements whether physical or digital and set new actions based on score milestones
Assess what known contacts are doing on your website
bIntegration with Google Analytics and Adwords
Create deals or opportunities and track those new individual prospects along the sale funnel
A Combination of Platforms
While our core Marketing Automation platform does a great deal, it doesn’t have to do it all. Indeed, we’d rather have it that we can pick and integrate with the best-of-class or the system that fits ours and our client’s requirements. So we also work with single-purpose marketing automation platforms including the likes of:
Hootsuite for social media management
Asana for website project management
Wunderlist for our day-to-day to dos and reminders
Wordstream for managing and optimising client Adwords campaigns
Pipedrive combining a trusted CRM with the power of SharpSpring
Meet Grand Engage & SharpSpring
It’s no secret that we use SharpSpring as our central Marketing Automation platform but our label for it is Grand Engage. It’s the platform we use ourselves to progress new client opportunities and nurture prospects and it’s the platform that we use with clients to manage their email campaigns, capture leads, develop prospects through their sales funnel, track one-off emails with a known client, inform sales agents of hot leads and report on conversion from AdWords.
What we like best about SharpSpring
1. Tracking the life of a lead
SharpSpring starts tracking your website visitors even before you know their names. Its then up to you to integrate lead capture tactics and forms into your website and then build out powerful automation rules and display dynamic content or send targeted emails based on a specific prospects website habits or known interests.
2. All-in-one Marketing Automation
SharpSpring offers an all-in-one package: great lead generation tools, integrated CRM, lead scoring, email marketing, online behavioural tracking, campaign optimisation, measuring ROI.
Their powerful, easy-to-use visual workflow builder simplifies marketing automation.
Use logic branches to engage leads at critical points in their unique buying journeys.
Customisable buyer personas makes delivering targeted landing pages or emails easy.
Receive a list of each day’s hottest leads right to your inbox, and act at just the right time to convert them to sales.
3. Integrates with Best-Apps-in-Field
SharpSpring isn’t precious about doing everything. While it admirably performs CRM or Content Management (e.g. Landing Page or form building) tasks, it also plays nicely with the systems you are most comfortable with and easily integrates with say Salesforce, Zoho CRM, Shopify, Magento, WordPress or Gravity Forms (See all SharpSpring’s standard integrations).
4. Analytics at your finger tips
We love the reporting within SharpSpring – we get to see what’s working and what’s not and apply changes accordingly.
Follow email stats like open rates and clicks. Know what items are your emails are engaging best.
Automatically track your website visitors’ conversions; from the moment they first visit, all the way through the final sale.
Track your Adwords search campaigns and follow cost per acquisition to determine the true cost of a qualified lead.
SharpSpring Reports provide all the information you need to measure your current success and accurately forecast future performance.
Tag as many interactions as you wish to score leads or segment lists every-which-way.
Marketing automation is the glue that joins all our clever initiatives together: SEO, landing pages, email marketing, lead nurturing and scoring, website personalisation, segmenting audiences…
Great marketing teams use marketing automation to make their campaigns more effective and to empower their sales team with better leads, culminating with greater ROI.
The Growth Marketing options available to Marketers are endless, so in this post I’m distilling a long playbook list down to 23 practical tactics that any of our small to medium New Zealand clients can deploy today.
I’ve loosely arranged these example actions into one of three sections. The lines are a little blurred between each section, but you’ll get the picture…
Website SEO – preparing your most important digital asset.
Lead Generation – growing traffic and capturing leads.
Content Marketing – nurturing prospects and closing sales.
A key strength of a Growth Marketing strategy is not hinged on any one campaign, channel, or tactic in particular. The success pivots on each of the channels and actions combining to have an effect that is far greater than the sum of their performance alone.
A strong Growth Marketing plan will take care of short-term wins and develop medium- and long-term successes.
It’s likely to include a mix of our shortlisted tactics: Facebook advertising, Google Ads, display advertising, social media marketing, search engine optimisation, landing page design, conversion rate optimisation, email marketing, content marketing… pretty much anything that will help you achieve your goal.
What’s important with any growth marketing methods, is that you take a fluid approach to budget allocation – adjusting the allocation of your budget each month to the channels where you’re generating the best results. Experiment, test and improve constantly.
I can’t think of many situations where a strong website isn’t the catalyst for better results. So make your website great again.
Firstly, set it up so that it will rank well with Google and get found your prospects.
Then ensure it works hard to convert – changes opinions, captures lead, initiates calls or store visits, or it directly sells something.
Search Engine Optimisation – run a website audit and apply the technical changes for Google’s sake. Apply keyword-researched on-page SEO.
Offsite Link Building – ultimately Google ranks popular sites higher and one of their criteria is the amount of quality backlinks your site has. Here we start by auditing competitor sites to work out what strategies they are using to obtain their ranking for specific keywords and then we’ll look to build a better version of their backlinks.
Website Upgrade – perhaps it’s time for a total upgrade to a state-of-the-art mobile-friendly site that better reflects your brand and its position against your competitors.
Landing Pages – Don’t just send traffic to a general home page; direct it to specific landing pages optimised for certain keyword groups and designed to capture leads or for a specific conversion. Destination URLs from pay-per-click ads should be designed specifically in relation to the keyword or topic which was being advertised. The idea is to make it as easy as possible for the visitor to find the information that is relevant for them. Consider a product like Instapage that also reports on page performance
Conversion Optimisation – construct your landing pages so they encourage a signup or sale. Even subtle changes to button copy can have significant effects. Having the highest conversion rate possible allows you to spend more on marketing than your competitors. Actionable optimisation data could come from Google Analytics, heatmaps, visitor recordings and online surveys.
A/B Split Testing – a fundamental of Growth Marketing is experimentation and testing. Who’s not to say the old clunky page is worse than the new highly-crafted concept page – the only way to find out is to test them side by side at the same time using products like Google Optimise or Optimizely.
Website Trustmarks – An important factor in converting a visitor will always be how much trust they have in your brand or product. If you want a prospect to trust you more, include your clients’ logos, affiliations or employee photos on your website.
Now that you have new traffic to your website, how can you turn that visitor in to a lead, capture an email address or contact details and then continue to engage and nurture them?
Lead generation is the process of attracting and converting strangers and prospects into someone who has indicated interest in your company’s product or service.
Search Engine Marketing – If you want to attract visitors today then start with paid search advertising (pay-per-click). Our tactics often start with Google Ads for immediate traffic and lead generation.
Facebook Advertising – Conversion focused ads using Remarketing, lookalike Audiences, client website fans and tailored interest groups.
Remarketing – You’ve put effort and money into getting people to your site; now retarget those specific groups of those visitors through Google and Facebook.
Gmail Sponsored Promotions – Here you can even target users receiving emails from your competitors!
YouTube Advertising – Test activity on the next largest search portal after Google search. Consider starting with Veeroll to produce high quality inexpensive video ads.
Pop-ups and Exit Intent – Tastefully styled and intelligently positioned popups can highlight an offer and drive conversion (usually email subscription focused). When all else fails, an Exit Intent popup can catch a visitor before they leave with a special offer or coupon.
Online Chat – Online chat works like text messaging and we all know how popular that is. It’s also inexpensive, so just add it to your site and test out the results.
Email Acquisition – Email can form a valuable core channel for any growth marketing plan but first you need to get those email contacts. Part of the email pool will come from general website lead capture – blog subscribers, quote requests, incomplete signups, purchases or applications and enquiries Valued Content Offers – visitors are only going to give up their email if you offer something valuable to them in return. One way to build your email list is to offer special eBook downloads promoted via Facebook or pay-per-click mediums. Another way could be through competitions; offering a prize to entrants.
Content Marketing & Promotion
Content is the fuel that attracts prospects to your website. Great content engages prospects, warms them to your brand and ultimately helps you build a relationship with customers.
Unfortunately, it’s often an afterthought for businesses. If Google Ads works, why would we need to write a couple of blog articles a month? Why should we let our competitors in on our secret best practice guide? Because great content drives interest in our brand and positions us as a leader in our industry. It shows expertise and builds trust. And it weaponises our personalised emails, monthly newsletters and automated responses, and creates interest in social media, while our banner ads are being ignored.
Blog Articles – Much of our work here will be stimulated through valuable content sort out and searched for by your prospects. We’ll use social media and emails and SEO tactics to attract visitors to your blogs. Even for larger clients, blogging is often a hard tactic to commit to but by using affordable content writers anyone can have a strong blogging presence – which will become a strong foundation for much of our Growth Marketing. Mix your topics up a little; think case studies, reviews, in-depth articles, lists, aggregating other sites’ content.
Blog Optimisation – Your blog pages need to be optimised for lead capture – think popups and inline forms and download offers. Don’t forget to AB Test these as well.
Reviews & Ratings – Use a system to gather reviews and ratings from customers; display them on your site and ensure they are added to Google My Business or aggregated by a 3rd party so that they appear in search and Google Ads results – that way prospects are more likely to click on you.
Email Marketing – Email remains one of the most effective means of delivering personalised messages to prospects and customers. We use it at all stages of the sales funnel, segmenting lists and delivering emails to welcome new subscribers, send requested content, to make special offers, send out periodic product news or bring back a lapsed customer.
Marketing Automation – not so much a strategy as a tool, but one that helps us do more, automating many processes through the funnel; from lead generation, segmenting and tagging users, personalising website pages, controlling email marketing and assisting with CRM.
Loyalty Programme – it seems that Retention Marketing often gets left off the list. Marketing to current or previous customers can take a lot less effort and deliver better returns than finding new ones. A loyalty rewards programme could be just the edge your customers need to come back to you for more. Reviews and ratings – People trust reviews to inform them about their decisions, and reviews play a huge role in people’s purchasing decisions. So set up a system where you ask for them, display them schematically correctly on your website and have them pushed to Google My Business and beyond.
Want more sales? We’ll help you find more traffic, generate more leads and get more business for your business.