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50+ E-Commerce New Year Strategies for 2018 to Grow Traffic, Revenue, Engagement, and ROI

by guest blogger - Evan Weber, Digital Marketing Expert

Note from Savana: Note Evan's #1 advice is Website update, refresh or get new - that's what I do! Call me!  I can help you with ANY of his  marketing suggestions! 

OK, here we go again! Another New Year is coming around, so it's time to ramp-up and expand your digital marketing, online advertising, and social media marketing channels to make sure your targeted traffic is growing and your revenues are increasing like they should be year over year. Below, you will find numerous practical strategies designed to boost targeted website traffic, ramp up social media engagement, and increase on-site conversion rates, which in turn leads to more sales, revenue, and profit.

Objective 1: Tuning Up Your Website

  1. New Years-themed main graphic (on the homepage) – Launch a special promotion and/or great sale for the new year that can be displayed through your homepage's main graphic. It's always a good idea to stay timely with your website promotions. "Free Shipping" remains the #1 most desired promotion online that motivates consumers to purchase. But it's also a great time to blow out of last year's styles to make room for the new products coming into your inventories.
  2. Refresh Company Logo and Branding - Try adding a little graphical flair to your logo for the new year. Or maybe it’s time to refresh your website's branding or tweak it slightly for the new year. It's never a bad idea to do some A/B testing on your logo just to see if a more exciting logo, or just a different logo in general will lead to a better conversion rate. See Optimizely.com and Convert.com for your A/B and Multivariate testing needs. For a new twist on A/B testing, check out Reactful.com. Mention I sent you for a special promo.
  3. Launch a “New Years Deals” Page - on the website that can be linked to with a graphic on the homepage, header, or side column. And then promoted via email blasts, and your social networks through boosted/sponsored posts. Pages like this can get ranked organically in the search engines and bring in free traffic so make sure they are optimized with a good page title and SEO-optimized on-page content. For instance, the title could be: 'New Years Deals on the Most Popular Fashions of 2018".
  4. Refresh Website Header and Footer – your website’s header and footer are great places to accentuate important items. So these areas should periodically be reviewed to see what can be added or removed. Make sure you are effectively using your header to promote elements such as: Toll-free phone number, tagline, logo, navigation links, special offers, and site search. Your footer is more for contact info, Live Chat, and other helpful links for your customer or audience.
  5. Free Shipping Offer – consumers love free shipping, in fact it’s the #1 promotion in e-commerce. You should make sure it's mentioned in several areas including: your HTML emails, website header/footer, social network pages/cover images, live chat messaging, and in the phone sales center. Whatever your current promotions are, make sure all your departments are mentioning it to your prospective customers and previous customers, and make sure all of your display ads, emails, and other marketing collateral are all consistent with your current promotions.
  6. A/B Testing – In my opinion, using an A/B testing tool is a must on your website to run little experiments in areas such as on: product detail pages, the homepage, your logo, and other important pages to boost conversion rates and see what works best. 

Objective 2: Refining Digital Marketing Campaigns:

  1. Retargeting Display Ads and Facebook Ads – make sure your web retargeting banner ads and Facebook retargeting ads are using a New Year theme with a trackable promotion and call-to-action designed into the creative, to make them timely and more effective. If you need a good retargeting company let me know. At Experience Advertising, we use several different retargeting strategies to boost conversion rates, as well as leveraging Facebook ads to their fullest by conducting visitor retargeting campaigns and customer retention campaigns. I recommend product level retargeting through Steelhouse.com and Google product level retargeting ads. New for 2018 is Traverse email retargeting and Reach Dynamicswhich is another email-based retargeting play. Definitely check them out and mention I sent you for a special promo.
  2. Product Catalog Revamp – Make sure your product catalog feed is updated so it can be syndicated to the shopping engines like Google Shopping, Bing Shopping, and also tracking the conversions. We primarily use Google Shopping and Bing Shopping to drive targeted traffic utilizing the product catalogs of our clients. In my opinion, it's very important to expand and refresh your product catalog over time and make sure you are rewriting the product titles and product descriptions so you can make sure there is no duplicate content with other websites and so the products are well-titled to match what people are searching. Also, expanding your product descriptions will allow you to come up for more searches and therefore drive more potential targeted traffic from the shopping results.
  3. Site Speed and Server Load – Make sure your website server can handle the influx of new years traffic without causing site loading delays. A "NO EXCUSES POLICY" needs to be in effect for your website's load time. Nothing kills conversions like a slow loading website. Check into “load balancing” and server error reporting, to keep an eye on it. Use website monitoring alerts so you know when your site goes down. By monitoring your server logs, you can oftentimes find repetitive errors your IT team is overlooking or doesn't think is problematic. However, any server errors causing downtime or slow loading, are hurting your website's conversion rate and therefore can't be tolerated.
  4. Abandoned Shopping Cart Follow-up Emails – Use automated, abandoned shopping cart follow-up emails to convert more visitors into sales. Make sure your website's automated follow-up emails are revised periodically and function like they should to bring people back that haven't finished checking out. See: Salecycle.com.
  5. SEO Content, Blog Posts, Videos – Creating posts about New Year's resolutions and deals, for example "Top 10 New Year Resolutions for 2018" would be something that would be well-received and possibly lead to an email list opt-in or even a sale. Many articles and videos with these types of themes that relate to your niche can be composed to boost SEO traffic. Having a proactive content marketing strategy is a great idea to land new visitors searching for topics and products related to the new year and your products or services. I have a team of writers for blog posts, we do articles at $50/each for a 400-500 word optimized post. We also do online press releases through PRWeb.com and Ereleases.com, the leading online press release company. And we create video for Youtube and websites in the $400 per video range with a professional spokesperson. Posting daily content is the best way to generate free traffic over time from Google, Bing and Yahoo.
  6. SEM – Paid Search – make sure your paid search ad copy and keyword campaigns are updated with New Years offers, especially for your branded terms. Expanding keyword lists into New Years-related product and niche search phrases can be a good idea. Make sure to leverage Google and Bing Shopping for your product catalogs, it's a must. Don't settle for trademark bidding carrying your SEM/PPC campaigns, you have to be able to convert general search phrases as well.
  7. Affiliate Marketing Channel – The new year is a great time to freshen up your affiliate program's banners, text links, and offers/promotions. The new year is a great time to launch an initiative to recruit new affiliate partners. My agency, Experience Advertising, is a leading affiliate agency on the big networks like CJ.comLinkshare.com, and Shareasale.com, as well as in-house programs. I have personally been managing affiliate programs for 15+ years. If you need to conduct affiliate recruiting campaigns in the new year or need your affiliate program revived for the new year, let me know. We are the leader in growing affiliate programs through proactive outreach/recruiting, as well as proactive affiliate messaging campaigns. There is no agency that can recruit at the level Experience Advertising, Inc. can recruit. We maintain a database of 1 million web publishers that we can prospect on your company's behalf. Contact me for pricing.
  8. Mobile and Secure Website – make sure you have a mobile-optimized website, as well as a secure https website. Not having a mobile-optimized website or 100% secure website can actually hurt your Google organic rankings. This is more important than ever if you want good organic rankings.
  9. Pro-Active Live Chat – I LOVE Live Chat! Live chat should pop up from the footer on all visitors with a nice message stating, “Welcome, can we help you with anything?” It’s an information first, promotion second chat management strategy that adds the human element to your web traffic, tracked with coupon codes. This is a proven strategy to increase conversion rates and boost interaction with website visitors. Great for selling and resolving customer service related issues as well on an ASAP basis.
  10. Pop-Ups - I'm a big fan of both entry pops and exit pops on websites. Pop-ups are proven to increase website conversion rates by offering a promotion and growing the company's email list. One of my agency's clients grew their email list by 500% by adding an entry pop-up to their website, over the rate at which their website was collecting emails on their website sales. Using Marketing Automation is also a great idea in conjunction with pop-ups, which is bascially sending a series of follow-up emails to new email subscribers to convert them into eventual customers. There are many tools that do this such as Active CampaignInfusionsoft, and others.

Objective 3: Social Media Strategies for Growing Engagement and Revenue

  1. New Years and Valentine’s Day Sweepstakes - You could launch an amazing New Years Sweepstakes or Valentine’s Day Photo Contest to increase fans, email opt-ins, and viral sharing. Running sweepstakes are also a great strategy for converting your email databases into fans on Facebook so you can engage with them there on a daily basis. A typical sweepstakes budget could range between $500-2500 for a contest, depending on how big and exciting you wanted to go with it. We use a sweepstakes tool called Woobox.com which is very inexpensive (depending on your overall number of Facebook fans) and handles all of the functionality you need to run a successful social media sweepstakes. (All you have to do is fund the prize budget and my can handle all the design elements for you). Once launched, sweepstakes and contests can be promoted on your website via a graphic or pop-up, on your fan pages with boosted posts to your various audiences, and to your email databases. The best part of running these types of sweepstakes is when the winners get their prizes and you ask them to share a picture on the company's fan page holding their prize, which is promoted on Facebook to get more exposure and great PR. Press releases can also be done to announce your sweepstakes to boost reach. My agency launches and manages social media strategy for companies. We do quite a lot of sweepstakes and contests to grow and excite fans, followers, email opt-ins, and web traffic. In fact, as I always say "you don't have a social media strategy without a sweepstakes!" :)
  2. New Years Themed Facebook Page Cover Image - always keep your Facebook cover image updated and timely, as well as Twitter, Linkedin, Pinterest and Instagram.
  3. Facebook Page profile thumbnail - Update your Facebook page profile pic too!
  4. Facebook Page Like Advertising – consider allocating budget to advertising for more page likes (i.e. new fans) on Facebook, so you can market deals to more people with “Boosted Posts”. Then, using Facebook Offers and Facebook Boosted Posts, you can monetize your new fans and track the ROI of your fan advertising with promo codes and referral links. We can handle this process for you as well, we have the Facebook formula down to a science.
  5. Facebook Custom Audiences – you can upload your email and phone number databases to Facebook to run targeted advertising to those lists. Custom audience advertising is very effective for converting prospects into buyers and previous customers into repeat buyers (retention/loyalty). Imagine taking the list of all your company's inbound phone calls and running ads to those people on Facebook. I bet that's something you hadn't thought of doing! Contact me for more information.
  6. Twitter Ads – Add targeted followers, sponsor your tweets, advertise your posts to targeted audiences, and run ads to Twitter tailored audiences, which works like Facebook's custom audiences. I would consider running website visitor retargeting ads on Twitter, a very effective form of advertising on Twitter and the place you should start first when advertising on Twitter.
  7. Instagram Ads – You MUST be on Instagram with a company page and posting pictures and links to it, with numerous hashtags per post to gain followers. You can run retargeting ads on Instagram through Facebook's ad platform, as well as targeting audiences on Instagram the same way it's done on Facebook. All Instagram ads are run through Facebook.

Objective 4: Email Database Monetization and Growth Strategies

  1. Email Creatives and Newsletters – Launch a series of New Years themed email offers to your email subscribers. If you need HTML email designed and/or your email databases fully managed, let me know, this is a service my agency offers. We design and deploy some of the best-looking HTML email in the business, as well as monthly customer newsletters. Having a proactive email marketing strategy is an absolute must since email marketing remains one of the top ROI producing forms of digital marketing for ecommerce.
  2. Test Subject Lines – Refine subject lines frequently based on open rate. Try including first name in the subject line whenever possible for personalization. Make sure you are getting full deliverability, check out Ongage.com which is a great tool for ensuring email deliverability. Most email marketing platforms offer the ability to split test email subject lines, which I highly recommend.
  3. Responsive/Mobile HTML Emails – these are mobile friendly emails, that look great on any device, and a must with the surge in mobile phone usage. Mobile open rates for email is approaching 70%, so you have to have mobile optimized emails going out to your databases.
  4. Email Marketing Automation – I highly recommend popping up email capture boxes on your site traffic to grow your email list faster, and then sending drip follow-up emails and measuring the conversion rates. This is known as marketing automation and have really taken off in the last 5 years. I know how to work with any email platform and I have an excellent newsletter editor that works for my agency, so if you need newsletters or emails created and deployed let me know. We can also set-up and implement marketing automation and drip email campaigns.
  5. Email Frequency – I recommend daily deal emails during busy shopping times of year. I recommend weekly emails throughout the New Year. I’m on all the major ecommerce retailer’s email lists, so I see everything they are sending out. Ramping up frequency is definitely en vogue for big ecommerce sites, since email marketing has such great ROI typically.
  6. Retargeting Email Openers – this is a newer element of “retargeting” where you can drop a cookie on email openers and then advertise to them on the web and on Facebook via retargeting campaigns. This is something we can set-up for your company as well. In my opinion, it's nothing short of amazing and very effective at boosting conversions.
  7. Don’t be shy with email – Email is the #1 revenue generator for ecommerce, so make sure not to under-do it. And make sure to employ as many different strategies for growing your email list including: pop-ups, Facebook lead ads, running sweepstakes, and Facebook Offers. All designed to increase your email list size over time.

Object 5: Influencer Marketing and PR in the Digital Age:

  1. Influencer Marketing - this is one of the hottest forms of marketing in the last couple of years, i.e. working with influencers to promote your brand. We use a platform called Cision.com to market to influencers of all types. It's the largest influencer, blogger, and journalist database in existence, which we pay thousands of dollars annually to subscribe to. We use it to conduct influencer outreach campaigns for our clients. So if you are looking for influencer outreach campaigns, contact me today.
  2. Online PR - Public Relations has definitely changed in the digital agency. Gone are the days of paying a high PR fee to get your brand in a few magazines. It can be done much more affordably with online press releases through quality outlets like Prweb.com and Ereleases.com. As well as conducting influencer outreach campaigns to have them write posts and articles about your company online. This is how PR is being conducted in the digital age. If you need online PR or Influencer outreach campaigns, please let me know and I can provide a quote.

Objective 6: B2B Online Advertising and Marketing

  1. LinkedIn Advertising - Linkedin advertising has come a long way in the past year. They have cemented themselves as the go-to platform for B2B advertising campaigns. In particular are the Sponsored Inmail campaigns, which allow you to send target emails to specific people on LinkedIn that match your targeted demographics, so make sure to check that out. LinkedIn also rolled out retargeting, conversion tracking, and lead generation this year. Very good enhancements to their advertising platform for B2B advertisers. If you need B2B advertising, contact me today. I have 10+ years of experience with B2B advertising have running 100's of campaigns for clients.
  2. B2B Database Targeting - I'm a big fan of targeting databases on platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter to generate leads for B2B companies. I remain extremely bullish on the upside of B2B advertising going into 2018. I think 2018 will be a banner year for B2B advertisers and I plan to be a big part of their success.

Bonus! 11 Website Conversion Rate Boosting Strategies:

  1. Customer Referral Programs – Use tools like FriendBuy.com or ReferralCandy.com to launch a customer-referral program. E-commerce website Bonobos.com generates 25% of their online revenue with their referral program. Customer referral programs can be promoted on your website, through emails, auto-responders, social networks, through your customer sales staff, and on your website's order confirmation page, i.e. "Thank you for your purchase! Get $25 towards your next purchase when you refer a friend to our website. Click here to start referring." I'm a huge proponent of customer referral programs, which have to be pushed on your audience repeatedly over time to get the uptake you will be excited about.
  2. Pop-up Live Chat – boost interaction with website traffic and provide promotions through proactive website live chat. Live chat is a great way to engage with your website traffic and bond with them, lending more of a human element to your website experience, which people love.
  3. Pop-ups - By now you know I'm a big fan of pop-ups. In my opinion, you should have pop-ups running on all of your website traffic, especially your blog and content pages. What use is organic traffic if they simply read the post and leave. You MUST get them to give you their name and email so you can offer them a promotion and bring them back to the site in the future.
  4. Testimonials/ Customer Reviews – Customer reviews has catapulted to the top of the list of important conversion optimization strategies. Customer reviews are extremely important to boosting confidence in your website and your products. Make sure to properly leverage your customer reviews on your product pages and social media pages. Some review widgets will add gold stars to your Google organic search listings, which is a really nice feature. See: ShopperApproved.com. Tell them I sent you for a special promotion, ask for Mike.
  5. Shopping Cart Abandonment Email Follow-ups – These are a must and pretty much standard practice in modern e-commerce. However, they can also be used on lead generation websites through javascript code added to your contact page. Make sure to utilize email retargeting companies like Traverse and Reach Dynamics as mentioned earlier.
  6. Retargeting on the Web and Facebook – Leveraging visitor retargeting campaigns is one of the top ways to boost overall conversion rate, but I actually see companies not utilizing them properly. They aren't without pitfalls to ROI, so make sure you use a good agency like Experience Advertising, so you can be sure your retargeting campaigns are strategic, purposeful, and not a waste of ad inventory. In this day and age there are at least 6 ways to retarget your non-converting traffic and previous website customers, so make sure to not under do it. I can tell you all the ways I recommend retargeting in this day and age. As I say, "You can never have enough visitor retargeting ads running." You can also run Native Ads to your retargeting audience, see: Adroll.com.
  7. Trust Logos – Trust logos on a website are one of the top ways to boost consumer confidence in your website. Some of the top trust logo are: the Norton’s Trust Seal, BBB Online logo, SSL logos (that people recognize), Trust-e, corporate logos in your industry, and the Norton's Shopper Guarantee is a great program, to boost website conversion rates, that has 3 different graphics you can leverage in the website's layout to convey trust in your website. I can introduce you to them, contact me for the intro.
  8. A/B Testing Tools – Optimizely.com or Convert.com are 2 A/B testing tools you can use on your website to split test page elements of any page or set of pages. Multivariate testing remains one of the best ways to boost website conversion rate and should not be neglected in my opinion. See Reactful.com for a new way to run your A/B testing campaigns. Mention me and get 30 days free.
  9. Internal Email Marketing  – make sure you nail email marketing elements like: sending frequency, Responsive HTML design, subject line testing, and testing promotions. Make sure not to under do it with email. And make sure to proactively grow your email list so even if you get some unsubscribes it really doesn't hurt the size of your list since it's growing larger every day.
  10. Running Facebook Sweepstakes - your monthly sweepstakes can be advertised on your website to collect more visitor data (as well via your pop-ups), so those signups can be remarketed to via email and on Facebook. Running sweepstakes with Facebook apps like WooBox.com are a great way to ramp up Facebook likes, email opt-ins, which in time will boost overall website conversion rates because it makes your site stickier and creates excitement with your brand.
  11. Push Notifications - push notifications have come to the web via desktop browsers like Chrome and Firefox. Now you can add some code to your website that will ask your website's visitors if they would like to receive desktop notifications from your company. When they say yes, you then have the ability to message all of those users with whatever message you choose, and you can connect your blog's RSS feed so every time you post a new post they get notified on their desktop, without having to be on your website! PushCrew.com is the tool we use to implement this functionality into our client's websites.

There are some of the channels and strategies you need to be looking at in order to have a great strategy in the New Year to really maximize traffic, engagement, revenue, and ROI. Let me know if you want to discuss these suggestions on a call or feel free to share internally and have those staff members contact me with any questions. If you are looking for a digital agency to assist with any of these strategies, let me know and we can give you a complimentary proposal.

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