The Most Common E-Commerce Mistakes Part 1

It’s easy to think that installing WooCommerce or setting up a Shopify store will allow you to start selling immediately. Even having an agency do it for you won’t automatically make your endeavor a success.

There are so many things to take into consideration when setting up an online store. Too many for just one blog post. However, I will list some of them here that are most common and will hopefully yield you an increased return on investment in line with the Pareto principle.

Bringing in the Crowds Too Early

More people, more sales. While it may seem like the most basic vector for increasing profitability, it’s not without it’s caveats. Consider how you are promoting your store. Paid acquisition, SEO Optimization, Link Building and Influencers are incredibly expensive ways of bringing traffic to your site and will quickly eat away at your margins. If your conversion rate, the percentage of unique users that buy something, is below a 2% then this may be money ill spent.

It is extremely important to eliminate any impediments that would otherwise be the cause for someone not to make a purchase. If you have tested your site thoroughly, and you have made sure there are no technical errors that are preventing people from make a purchase, then it is more likely a problem with they way your information architecture is laid out; users can’t find what they are looking for.

Making sure products are properly categorized, labeled, tagged, with detailed descriptions and descriptive images is paramount. However, even the most detail oriented shopkeepers can miss the forest for the trees, leaving an extremely hard to navigate product catalog with little to no guidance. Depending on the complexity of you product, there are many tools you can use help users navigate to what they are looking for.

Not Having a Proven Market

Sometimes your own ideas can be very tempting to monetize. The idea of making money while you sleep is a very lucrative one and many people aspire to this dream. So much so, that people are willing to be their entire savings or risk their careers in order to reach their goals. However, most of the time they did not take the time to test the market.

Companies with a proven physical retail presence are often exempt from this as they have an established market. Most of the time, what people will buy in a local store can be converted to an online version using the allure of improved convenience. However, this conversion can fall short because the negatives of online experience outweigh the physical experience. Products might be too complex or expensive, but even here there are ways to use an online experience advantageously. You could use it to generate valuable leads or vend subsets of your actual business.

However, sometimes people come up with an idea or concept that is won’t sell anywhere. The ease of setting up an online e-commerce presence leads many to attempt it without considering the true cost. The dream of selling their idea online is quickly in jeopardy prompting further futile investments.

Instead, it is much better to test it with a sound and rational mindset with a minimal investment. A good way to do it is to try and sell to friends first, then over social media through personal posts, and continue from there. If there is an established demand, it may be worthwhile investing further time and money into your store or product. If not, be prepared to shift focus or kill the idea completely.

Focusing on Acquisition When it Should Be Loyalty

Knowing which mode you are can be pivotal in what areas you should invest in. Should you be focusing on driving customers to your store or should you be focused on bringing them back?There are generally three types of modes a store should be in:

  1. Acquisition mode, focus on driving new customers
  2. Hybrid mode
  3. Loyalty mode, focus on making the same customers buy again

You can easily determine which one you are. If less than 40% of your customers will buy again within the same year, you should focus on acquisition. If 40-60% will purchase again within the same year, then you are in hybrid mode. If more than 60% of your customers will make a purchase within the same year then you should focus on loyalty.

To better describe the different scenarios I will give a few real world examples. A store that should be in acquisition mode would be an online camping goods retailer. The likelihood of someone needing a new tent or hiking boots every year is pretty small. On the other hand, a typical loyalty based store would be selling products that need replenishing frequently, for example a store specialized in selling coffee beans and grounds.

If you are just focusing on bringing in new customers when are selling highly priced consumable products, you will quickly find that there is a lot of revenue left on the table. Incentivizing your customer base to stick with you will bring you a lot of repeat business with a few one time investments.

Summary

I hope these experiences bring you an advantage, and at least prevent you from making the same mistakes as most aspiring e-commerce business owners do. Don’t hesitate to contact me if you would like help with your business!

Which MailChimp Plugin for WordPress and WooCommerce to use?

MailChimp have developed their own WordPress and WooCommerce plugin. While it may seem like a good idea to use their free plugin, here is why not.

Connecting MailChimp to your blog and/or online store is a very powerful tool. You may want to drive newsletter signups and automate your email correspondence. However, it is easy to inundate users with popups and sign up forms. If you have an online store, you want to be able to reach users depending on what they bought and when, so that you can retarget them.

I’m going to list a few plugins that I’ve found to be most effective, and what I commonly use with my clients. Most of them are paid, but it is money well spent.

Popups

Popups are one of the best ways to drive new subscribers to your newsletter. However, it may not always be a great idea to distract users from your content. Therefore, it is necessary to be able to control when, where and how the popup appears so that you can fine tune it to appear just in the right moment.

Boxzilla

One of the most customizable popup plugins in Boxzilla. The point of a popup is not to be content blocking, as Google Search will penalize sites that block the UI. So a subtle box at the edge of the screen that appears after a while of interaction. Also, if the users is already signed up to your newsletter, there is no need to bother them again. The aforementioned plugin offers all of these things. It detects if you are already subscribed and doesn’t display the popup. You can also set it to appear after a certain amount of time, when the user has reached a place in your page or site, and on certain pages. The popup can even be set to appear on exit intent, which is when the user moves the mouse outside of the page. However, you will have to pay for the pro version to get the advanced features listed.

Bloom

If you use the theme Divi, Bloom is another excellent plugin. It does a lot of the things Boxzilla does, but it is already incorporated into your design and editor.

Inline Signup Forms

Sign up forms should be sleep, unobtrusive and feel natural. They should have the ability to pre-segment the subscribers so you can target them better.

Enfold

The theme I use extensively is Enfold, it meets a lot of requirements, can be extended and is very fast. It has an editor that yields a lot of flexibility in layout and styles, while keeping everything very uniform. It comes with a default MailChimp integration, and allows you to quickly click together sign up forms. However, it’s not very customizable; if you want one form to segment users in a specific way, you are out of luck.

MailChimp for WordPress

One of the hands-down best plugins for MailChimp is MailChimp for WordPress. While the pro version allows for many more integrations, it already comes a long way with the form builder. You can easily integrate the forms into your site, and if you have a theme, you can edit the HTML directly so that it will look like the already styled elements belonging to your theme. You can also create very specific segmented forms by generating some of the segmentation options and then either hiding them using hidden fields or allowing the user to choose themselves.

E-Commerce

The default MailChimp for WooCommerce plugin is very limited. It will track some of the purchases, but it lacks the categories.

MailChimp for WordPress

MailChimp for WordPress comes with a great extension for WooCommerce. It will integrate directly with the store, and users can choose to sign up when they buy something. There is a really great interface which allows you to sync the products and orders. This means that when you create your newsletters, you can not only add your products directly, but also target users who have purchased something similar. The categories, lifetime value and purchase times are also synced. This allows you to retarget users by automatically sending an email to users who have not purchased in a while or create a custom drip campaign depending on their previous purchases.

While setting up MailChimp with WordPress may seem trivial at first, thought and planning are vital to creating a successful integration. Be clear on why type of customers you have, whether you are working towards loyalty or driving new signups.

If you would like tips and pointers on what strategy is best for you, feel free to contact me!