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Beginner's handbook Marketing tips

The A to Z Guide to Optimize Your Online Store and Boost Sales In No Time

By Reading Time: 15 minutes

There are over 12 million online stores on the Internet today, and this number is growing every day.

Think about it: whenever a person wants to buy something, he or she has thousands, if not millions, of possibilities where to do it. The competition is tough. But it’s not as tough as you may think.

Look:

Only around 5.2% or 65,000 of all online shops generate $1,000 or more per year. That is, while there are millions of shops out there, a small percentage of them actually attract buyers and make a profit.

Getting between the top sellers is not that difficult if you’re ready to go the extra mile and make your visitor’s shopping experience more personalized, seamless, and pleasant than your competitor does it.

That said, here are 26 store improvement ideas from A to Z that will help you get discovered in the online jungle, make shoppers stick around, and, most importantly, finish their purchases.

A – Alt tags for images

Alt tags (alternative text) are used for SEO purposes to describe image content, which helps Google index them properly. Simply put, by explicitly describing what’s seen in the image, you help search engines find your images when someone searches for a specific keyword.

Why does it matter?

Google doesn’t ”see” images as we do, so it can mistakenly rank your product images for the wrong keywords, or it’s possible that they don’t show up in the search results at all. When that happens, you’re missing out on free organic traffic and the chance of getting discovered by new customers.

B – Badges

People have an attention span of just around 8 seconds. According to the study by the Consumer Insights team of Microsoft Canada, that’s the time we’re able to keep our focus before… oh look, a picture of a kitten!

But seriously:

When a person lands on your store, you’ve got 8 seconds to show them what to buy. Product badges are a great way to highlight your best-selling or recently added products, grab visitor’s attention, and then guide them further into exploring your products.

Besides, badges are also a way to help visitors narrow down their choices. When there are too many options, people tend to experience decision paralysis – that’s called the Paradox of Choice. By using your badges thoughtfully and sparingly, you can help customers make their buying decisions faster.

Sarah Marie Design Studio uses badges to highlight new product designs.

C – Customer photos

72% of online shoppers admit that seeing customer Instagram photos of a product increases their chances of buying. They also conducted a case study and found that adding customer photos to product pages can boost conversions by almost 29%.

Customer photos serve as social proof due to their authenticity when compared to brand-generated images. Seeing real people enjoying and approving products helps buyers in their decision-making process. In fact, 77% of customers say they prefer user-generated pictures over professional brand photos when shopping online.

And yes, user-generated photos aren’t always picture perfect, but that’s exactly what makes them so trustworthy.

D – Details

Want to hear something strange?

83% of online shoppers admit they need support to complete their purchase, yet less than a half say they actually look for help. That is, people have questions, but they don’t search for answers. Instead, they abandon the website without much thinking.

So, here’s something to keep in mind: make sure you present all the important information clearly and prominently on your product page, or you may lose a customer. That is, don’t put crucial shipping or sizing information in your FAQs because over a half of your potential buyers won’t make an effort to look for that info there.

E – Email subscription popup

Brands often put a lot of effort (and money) into getting traffic to their store, then don’t do anything to maintain any relationship with these visitors.

That’s a costly mistake.

The Marketing Rule of 7 states that people need to have about 7 interactions with a brand before they’re ready to convert. Thus, by bringing a new visitor to your online shop, you’ve done 1/7 of the job.

Adding a simple site abandonment popup that offers people leave their email (check out tools like Nosto, Sumome or MaxTraffic), is your invitation to stay in touch with your visitors until they’re ready to convert. In fact, our experience shows that implementation of a site abandonment popup can pay back with an ROI of over 1,000%.

Inktale, an online marketplace, has created an email subscription popup that gives a 10% discount in exchange for the visitor’s email address.

Tip: Don’t overwhelm your visitors with too many popups at their every step. Also, for your website’s ranking purposes it is suggested to disable popups on mobile, and show on desktop and tablets only.

F – Facebook retargeting pixel

If you’re not using retargeting, you’re losing money. Think about it: approximately 96% of your store’s visitors will leave without a purchase. Retargeting is your way to bring these people back to your store and seal the deal. Case studies show that the ROI of retargeting can be as high as 1,300%!

Facebook is a great channel for retargeting. Mainly because it’s easy to set up and offers the dynamic retargeting option, meaning you can catch people’s attention by showing the exact products they were previously interested in.

Read more on how to make effective Facebook retargeting ads on a $50 budget.

G – Google Analytics tracking code

You can’t improve what you can’t measure, right? That’s why connecting Google Analytics to your store is a definite must.

Look:

Google Analytics is FREE, so there is really no excuse for not using it. The tool lets you measure your sales and conversions, see where your most active buyers come from, what devices and browsers they use, and which of your marketing campaigns have the highest ROI.

For example, if you see that ROI from your email campaigns is 10x better than from your paid advertising efforts, it lets you take a reasonable decision to focus more on growing your email subscribers list and optimize your email campaigns.

Read this beginner’s guide to Google Analytics, which will help you get started. And once your account is all set up and running, indulge in the art of segmenting that will help you find new ways to boost your store’s performance.

H – High-quality product images

When it comes to online shopping, we do judge books by their covers. Because there is no other option when we can’t take a product in our hands, and touch it and feel its texture. So, when shopping online, 93% of consumers consider visual appearance to be the critical factor in a purchasing decision.

Professional images not only create a greater in-store feeling, but they also make your brand look more trustworthy, and products better quality. As a result, stats show that customers presented with high-quality product photos are 3x more likely to buy.

Tip: Order sample products with 20% off and free worldwide shipping, and do a photo shoot yourself. Or, if you’d rather skip the hassle, contact Printful Ecommerce Photography Services and we’ll make professional product images for you.

I – Improved page load speed

People are extremely impatient.

53% of people will abandon a website if it takes more than three seconds to load. (Seriously, people. What’s the rush?)

Just think about it: if your website takes 3 seconds to load, half of your visitors will bounce before they even get to see your content. For a store with 5k monthly visitors and a conversion rate of 5%, boosting the site’s speed by just 1 second can result in 1,410 more purchases a year.

A website that takes more than 2 seconds to load is losing a fortune every single year!

So, go to Google Page Speed or Pingdom and take a look at how your store is doing. If your website takes more than 2 seconds to load, pay attention to what slows it down. Whatever that is, get it fixed.

J – Juicy product descriptions

Many think that a product description is the place where you simply list product features or stuff keywords for search engines. Yes, keyword-optimized descriptions can help you rank on Google. And yes, mentioning product features can help. However, a well-written product description can do so much more.

It can actually SELL your product.

A product description is like your product’s pitch that helps people understand why it’s awesome and worth the money. In fact, 88% of shoppers say product content helps them make their purchase decisions.

How do you write product descriptions that sell? Here’s a quick tip: don’t focus on facts and features, instead focus on benefits and opinions. If you need some inspiration, check out ModCloth’s product descriptions – those guys take them seriously:

ModCloth should be famous for their original, fine-tuned product descriptions.

”When your love offers to take you anywhere you wish, you let this black dress dictate the flavor of the evening. The V-neckline, princess seams, cute cap sleeves, and updated stretch knit fabric of this textured, ModCloth-exclusive darling could mean anything from a romantic dinner to dancing lessons!”

K – Keyword-optimized headlines

You already know what makes a great headline: it’s creative, attention-grabbing, and catchy. And one more thing – when it comes to online writing, it’s also keyword-optimized. Keywords in headlines help search engines, for one, find your page, and two, make sense of what it’s about.

Headlines or H1 are subjects of your pages and indicate each page’s main topic, so Google pays extra attention to the keywords in them. Thus, when writing your H1, it’s better be clear and straightforward than overly artistic. Because too much creativity can make your pages invisible to the search engines.

For example, if you’re selling hoodies with startup quotes, that’s exactly what your headlines should say (and not ”wear your inspiration every day.”)

L – Landing pages

A landing page in its broad sense is a page on your website that visitors can arrive at or ”land on.” Usually, landing pages target particular audiences, and visitors arrive at these web pages from other sources, such as paid ads or from Google search.

Now, you may be thinking why are landing pages important?

Let’s say you’re selling posters that people can hang in the office or living room – they’ll look equally great in either space. By creating two landing pages for each of these use cases, you can optimize each page for specific search terms, product photos, etc. That way, the person looking for an office poster and the one looking for living room art will both find exactly what they’re looking for – even if it’s the same product.

The more landing pages you create, the better, since that helps you reach more potential customers. In fact, increasing the number of landing pages from 10 to 15 can help you double your chances of selling your products.

Printful has created a custom landing page for each of its integrations.

M – Meta descriptions

A meta description is a 160-character snippet that summarizes a page’s content. While meta descriptions don’t affect Google’s ranking algorithms, they can affect user click-through from the search engine results page (SERP).

Meta descriptions are teasers that give a sneak peek of the webpage’s content. A compelling and descriptive copy can make more people click on the search result and significantly boost traffic to your store.

And even though search keywords in meta descriptions won’t directly affect your webpage’s rankings on Google, including them can help you get more clicks. How? Well, Google highlights search words in the description, assuring users that by clicking on the search result, they’ll find what they’ve been looking for.

N – No hidden fees

Unexpected and hidden fees are one of the most common reasons why people abandon their shopping carts. Imagine that you’ve found a cool t-shirt and about to hit the ”buy” button, but then – out of the blue – you’re asked to pay extra $10 for delivery. You’ve already made one decision to give your money away for the shirt, and here you’ve got another decision to make. Emm… no, thanks!

Over 60% of online shoppers abandon their cart due to high shipping costs and other fees. However, there’s really nothing much you can do – if shipping and taxes are high, they’re high. Unless you offer free shipping – that’s a way to win these people over

But then, for 24% extra costs aren’t the problem. It’s that they find out about them too late. So, what you can do is provide customers with estimated delivery costs and let them know there might be other fees, like taxes.

O – Order confirmation email

Marketing emails have on average a 14.4% open rate. Order confirmation emails, on the other hand, have the average open rate of astonishing 114.3%, and a click-through-rate almost 5x bigger than bulk emails. Don’t you agree these emails should be given more attention?

Only 30% of brands personalize their order confirmation emails, and that’s a missed opportunity. Think about it: 64% of online shoppers find transactional emails are extremely valuable, which explains the big open rate and high engagement. That makes transactional emails the perfect place to upsell and cross-sell – people are already giving you their attention and besides, it’s 6 to 7 times easier to convert an existing customer repeatedly than acquire a new one.

Need proof?

A case study by ConversionXL found that personalizing transactional emails and adding a product recommendation feature can lift the email’s conversion rate by 111%.

Dollar Shave Club is a great example how to use order confirmation emails to cross-sell products to existing customers.

P – Product recommendations

Personalization is one of the biggest marketing trends and must-dos in 2018. We are all individuals, and we want brands to treat us as such. People want a personal and customized experience when they shop online, and brands that deliver that are enjoying customer loyalty.

Personalized on-page recommendations not only create a more customized experience, but also help people make their buying decisions. As a result, recommendations are responsible for 24% of orders and 26% of all revenue, according to the report by Salesforce.

Besides, shoppers who have ever clicked on a product recommendation are twice as likely to return and tend to spend 10% more than those who haven’t.

Need a tool for that? Check out Nosto.

Q – Quality indicators

Remember that time when describing your product as ”great quality” actually meant something?

Today, the concept of ”quality” is so extended that it basically means nothing. Therefore, people are looking for other signs in the webpage that indicate quality and value of your brand and products.

Here are some powerful quality indicators you can consider using for your store:

”Made in USA”

A survey of 1,500 people found that 51.9% of online shoppers prefer and trust the quality of products made in the US. American-made products have a reputation of superior quality and performance, which is why people value them more than products made in China, for example.

”Family-owned business”

85% of respondents say they find family-owned businesses more trustworthy when compared to medium-sized companies and large corporations. Small businesses are often associated with more individual and accurate approach to every customer and order.

”Money Back Guaranteed”

A case study by Visual Website Optimizer found that the ”Money Back Guarantee” badge can boost conversion rate by 32%. Such promise shows the seller’s confidence in products he/she is selling, which makes them look more trustworthy in the eyes of a buyer.

Inu Inu uses the ”30-days money back guaranteed” badge on their product pages.

R- Reputable trustmarks

According to the recent study by Baymard Institute, 18% of online shoppers abandon their carts because they don’t trust the website with their credit card information. Displaying reputable trustmarks – seals, logos, and icons of systems that are used to protect the customer – is a way to reassure buyers that it’s safe to shop with you.

The efficiency of trustmarks depends on whether or not customers recognize the logo. In a study by Econsultancy people were asked which logo gave them most reassurance, and here are the results:

  • PayPal (29%)
  • Verisign (25%)  
  • McAfee (23%)

So, if you accept payments through PayPal, consider adding its logo at your checkout. 80% of buyers say that the PayPal logo adds a little or a lot of security when shopping online, which results in a higher conversion rate.

S – Scarcity

Ever bought something right away because you’re worried it’ll be sold out tomorrow? That’s what the scarcity principle is based on – our fear of missing out on something, which makes us intuitively perceive that something is of a greater value.

The way the scarcity principle works is very simple: if there’s plenty of stuff, no one wants it. If there’s a limited number of something, everyone wants it. Because people always want something they can’t or may not have.

In marketing, scarcity is a powerful trigger. Some case studies have found that it can increase a website’s conversion rate by as much as 6.5%. That is, if you’re now converting 4% of your website’s visitors, adding a well-placed element of scarcity can make it go from 4% to 10.5%. Think about the extra sales!

Startup Vitamins uses the quantity-related type of scarcity.

T – Title tags

Title tags are headlines of your website’s pages that are displayed on search engine results pages (SERPs). Writing descriptive title tags that include relevant search keywords is important for SEO and helps Google understand the topic of your webpage.

According to Moz, title tags are possibly the most important on-page SEO elements. They suggest that it’s best for your rankings to mention search keywords closer to the beginning of your title tag. Besides, bear in mind that title tags are often the only thing people read, so your title should hint at how your content is relevant to the user’s query.

U – User reviews

Here’s a tip: fight for every positive customer review starting with the minute you launch your online store. User reviews have a great impact on the consumer decision-making process. In fact, no reviews very often mean no revenue.

Look at the stats:

The result? Products with reviews have on average 12% and up to 83.85% higher conversion rate than products without reviews.

Enough said

V – Videos

Online shopping has many pros, but it has one significant con: people can’t try on, touch, or feel the product before they buy it. That explains why 68% of shoppers still prefer to buy apparel and footwear in-store instead of digitally.

Large, high-quality product images give online shoppers the chance to take a closer look at products. However, pictures don’t give the answer to questions like how the piece ”moves,” and how it fits when you move. That’s why product videos are helpful.

Stats show that customers who view a product video are up to 144% more likely to add the product to his/her cart. And not just add to cart: 64% of shoppers are most likely to actually finish their purchase after watching a product video.

Asos does a seriously great job with product videos. All their product have them, which makes the shopping process so much easier for the customer.

W – Whitespace

Whitespace (also known as ”negative space”) is the empty space on a page that separates text, graphics, images, and other website elements.

By using whitespace, you’re making the important page elements stand out. For example, case studies show that using whitespace around your call-to-actions make them stand out and get 5% more add-to-cart clicks.

Not only does whitespace help elements stand out, but it can also make your product look more expensive. The experiment by ConversionXL found that increasing the whitespace around products, even if that means making the product image smaller, produces a higher perceived value of the particular product.

X – Xtra perks

Do you like gifts? Of course, who doesn’t like free stuff? Especially it that free stuff comes from a brand you’re interested in.

Sample products and other small perks like stickers cost almost nothing to produce, but can greatly affect customer loyalty. Cosmetics brands are famous for giving away free product samples, and they don’t do it for no reason – some case studies have found that giving away samples can boost sales by as much as 2,000%!

So, think about extra perks you can offer your shoppers. Stickers are a very popular choice, but you can also consider custom friendship bracelets, pins, magnets, and much more.

Read more about how you can personalize your Printful orders with pack-ins.

Y – Your brand personality

You may think people don’t care about your brand story and that it doesn’t matter. But it really, really does.

Customers may not be coming to your shop to read your ”About us” page, yet many visitors end up there – for many websites it’s within the top 5 most visited pages.

While brands don’t pay too much attention to their ”About us” pages, people actually abandon websites that lack personality and instead go for brands that engage them with their content and storytelling.

The key takeaway here?

A dull ”About us” page and lack of brand personality throughout your website can cost you big time.

The ”About us” page by Startup Vitamins has a character and lets visitors get to know the company and people behind it.

Z – Zoom

Online shoppers like large images and they cannot lie.

A study by Forbes concluded that 50% of buyers prefer large product images. Respondents admitted that high-resolution, large images are more important when making their buying decision than things like product descriptions and even reviews.

The zoom option lets shoppers take a closer look at details, which is especially important if you don’t have photos of product details. To add the zoom option, you must upload a base image that’s larger than your preview product image.

The recommend size for base images is between 1000px and 1600px on the longest side. Anything smaller won’t zoom, while larger images can slow down your website.

Small improvements can make a big difference

The #1 rule of ecommerce is ”never stop optimizing,” because you can always do better. By adding small improvements here and there, you can drastically boost your revenue.

Before you assume you need hours of time and expensive resources for implementing the ideas mentioned in this article, let me assure you that you don’t. There are thousands of ecommerce tools and apps built to help online sellers boost their sales. And there are lots of great freelancers (check out this list of freelancer databases put together by Forbes) that will do the job for you and won’t cost you a fortune.

That said, the next step is to start implementing these improvements, starting with the one you feel will give your store the most significant performance boost. Which one is that going to be?

Don’t have an online store up and running just yet? Read our free ebook for everything you need to do to get started!

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