Are you making these common eCommerce mistakes?
In partnership with Iain Calvert, Boom Ecommerce.
Boom Ecommerce is a Nationally recognised eCommerce training provider and together with Reload, have worked closely with merchants who are wanting to get the most out of their digital strategies and take their knowledge that step further.
Working in eCommerce since 2003, Iain shares the common mistakes eCommerce stores make without realising it. Avoid these mistakes to successfully grow your eCommerce store.
1. Posting on Social Media and expecting sales
The old post and hope. The thinking goes, if I post on Facebook I’ll make sales. Once that used to be true, but things move fast in the online world, and that is now long gone. There is no doubt Facebook and Instagram marketing has helped build a lot of eCommerce businesses in Australia. It can work really well. However, the devil is in the details.
Everyone knows how to post an update on Facebook or Instagram, so it makes sense to do the same for your business. However, that often leads to just a handful of likes (normally from your coworker) and no sales.
The issue is how many of your followers that actually see the post is around 5%. Unless you have a million followers, the times the post gets seen is, low, very low!
Let’s run some numbers
For example, if you have 10,000 followers, and 5% see a post, that is only 500 people. Then only 1% (at best) will click through to the site. That gets you a massive 5 visitors. If your average conversion rate is 2%, that will mean 0.1 sales (less than 1!). Basically, the numbers don’t stack up.
How do I make Facebook and Instagram work for my eCommerce business?
To get around this, you have to pay to boost posts or even better – run ads. Unfortunately, there is no free lunch with Facebook and Instagram anymore.
2. Having a fixed marketing budget
Budgets are really important. If you don’t have them you’ll go bust. But if you don’t scale them up when you’re getting results you limit sales. A lot of eCommerce businesses start off with a fixed advertising budget. It makes sense, cash is tight starting out or the boss has set a marketing budget.
It’s fine to start small, all the advertising platforms are built to help small businesses grow. You can start on $1,000 AUD. However, if you make $5,000 in sales from those ads (that is a Return On Ad Spend of 5 or 500%) and you make enough profit, it’s time to start ramping things up. Spending $1,000 has got you $5,000 in sales, so to make $50,000 in sales, you’ll need to spend $10,000. A lot of the time this is a mindset shift or the way you pitch it to the person who controls the budget. It’s your job to work out how to get past that, otherwise, your growth will stutter to a halt.
Being EVERYTHING to EVERYONE
We’ve talked about a few different challenges with eCommerce advertising, but really advertising just amplifies what you’re selling. Sell something customers want and they get to see it, you’ll always do well, it’s that simple in eCommerce. If it doesn’t appeal, it won’t matter how good your advertising is. Ecommerce products often don’t appeal when they are trying to be everything to everyone. In today’s world niches rule. Your goal is to mean a lot to a group of customers, not very little or nothing, to everyone.
Ask yourself, who exactly does our product appeal to and why, and more importantly who doesn’t it appeal to? It’s easy to get tricked into thinking, we’ll be the Nike of [insert your industry] and have a huge range of products and everyone will want to buy from us. Nike is a multi-billion dollar corporation and is playing a very different game to the rest of us.
How to mean more to customers
I have a client that sells furniture. When I started working with them, they very proudly told me they have products for everyone.
That was a problem because it meant a big range (this is bad as they had to hold a lot of stock, which ties up precious cash) and the overall brand message became watered down because the only thing everyone has in common is they sleep. The messaging always ended up essentially saying…“You sleep, buy a bed from us”. Not exactly compelling!
To solve this, we dug into who our customers were. They were mainly in QLD, and lived in outer suburbs. All the comments and feedback told us customers loved the quality of the product for the price.
- Based on this we reduced the range (so we had to hold less stock)
- Focused marketing on price and styling the products
- Targeted Queenslanders with messaging they understood
As this industry is very competitive, it helped them stand out. We ended up meaning more to a smaller group of customers. The overall effect was a dramatic increase in sales.
Think about the brands you love. They mean something to you. Now, ask yourself, what does your eCommerce brand really mean to your customers? If you don’t know, just ask your customers, you’ll be surprised at what they tell you.
Not using email marketing
If I had a dollar for every time I heard an eCommerce store owner say “email is marketing is just spam” I would be retired on my own island off the coast of Queensland right now. The truth is email marketing will give you the best return on your advertising investment, hands down. Better than Google, Facebook, Instagram Ads, SEO or any other approach.
As with anything, it’s how you do it that separates you from the spammers and turns your business into a profit-generating machine. Email marketing only works if you have existing customers and their email addresses. You can’t start out with it (because you don’t have email addresses of customers).
Once you’ve got to about 1,000 orders, it’s time to start using email marketing. It works best for repeat orders and the emails have to be segmented to different types of customers. Don’t be doing the old “email blasts” where everyone on your email database gets the same email. That is the quickest way to make sure no one ever opens an email from you again.
Embrace email marketing, you won’t regret it. The best email marketing tools/platforms I’d recommend are:
Summing it up
Question your assumptions you have about eCommerce. Most don’t, which means they never stand out against the crowd. If things aren’t working and you don’t change your approach, the same thing will keep happening.