In the third and final part of our series on going Online we look at driving traffic to your store. Without traffic, there is no business.
So you have an Online Store – Now what?
The old adage “Build it and they will come” – rarely if ever comes through on the Web.So you will have to invest at the correct level to drive traffic and for many brands or retailers that translates to maybe 8-15% of revenue – it depends on the market, product and how established the business is. The trick will be to establish a marketing blueprint that builds your organic traffic, develops your loyal customer base while also funding new customer acquisition through paid advertising.
Assuming that you already have your analytics set up correctly then the starting point for this process is to understand the value of every sale, both revenue and margin, or the lifetime value of every new customer, as that tells you what you can afford to spend to acquire that sale. When you know the cost per acquisition, you can determine what sort of return you need from each of your marketing investments, for eCommerce sites with large catalogues you need to understand this at least at product category level but preferably at the product level.
I frequently meet clients who have put all their advertising activity into one channel either Facebook or Google Paid Search for example. For smaller clients that might be ok due to limits on the available budget to invest, but for most cases, it takes a mix of different channels – to arrive at the most optimised solution. When you have multiple campaigns in market then it is increasingly important to understand how they interact with each other this is called attribution. Up until recently, most analytics gave all the credit to the channel that created the last click before the customer purchased – in reality a customer might have seen a Facebook ad after opening an email and then did a Google search before purchasing, so you need to at least understand attribution modelling and how to use it between your different channels. But don’t make it over-complicated good enough will do in this case.
Those familiar with the traditional marketing funnel will tell you that people go through three phases
- Awareness – where they learn about your Brand/Store
- Consideration – where they engage with your Brand/Store
- Conversion – They purchase from your Brand/Store
So your campaign planning should account for these three stages. Each business will have a different set of priorities at different times and the campaign plan or marketing blueprint needs to adapt to those priorities.
Here are some general guidelines and thoughts.
If you start at the bottom of the funnel and make sure you are at least capturing any business that already exists out there for you. Ensure your site is optimised for Generic Search engine traffic because in almost every case I have seen this is the best converting traffic you can get. This is always a long-running project but things like optimising your product descriptions cannot be overlooked.
Search Engine Traffic
SEO takes time to build traffic so in the short term to drive immediate traffic you should test Google Paid Search. However this can be expensive in the early days of a store – so your first objective should be to develop a campaign that at least breaks even in terms of cost versus revenue generated. Once you have achieved that then you can start to expand it out and scale it up. Initially, you will need to decide a budget that you can afford to invest as a two to three-month discovery project, it needs to be big enough to deliver you at least 1000 clicks. If you cannot get to that breakeven point in the first three months then pause it to return to it at a later stage. You may need to address the conversion rate of your site in order to improve the return but at least you will have more information about what people are searching for. Alternatively, you may need to use Google Search and Specific landing pages to focus your effort on selling a very specific product or category at the right time – especially if there is some element of seasonality to some of your product sales. Quick Tip – for seasonal campaigns build SEO friendly Campaign pages and never take them down (you can remove them from your general site navigation) after the campaign is finished. Update and refresh them so next year they will have built up additional SEO equity and traffic.
eMail – Might be boring but it is essential.
eMail marketing is the next priority and there are three things to ensure
- Make sure that you are growing your subscriber list through unobtrusive eMail capture, like exit intent forms.
- Build a content plan that engages your audience and is not just a series of promotions and discounts
- Segment your list to send the right content to people who have not bought from you versus those that have.
To grow your business, you either need to find new customers, have your existing customers buy more frequently, or increase the average amount that they spend. Finding new customers tends to be more expensive than nurturing those you already have – which is why email is so important.
Exit intent banners are very important to growing your email subscriber list. Don’t annoy customers by presenting them with a popup as soon as they reach your site, but rather when they are ready to leave and have not bought something. Use that time to capture their emails in return for some content of value or interest to them. It costs you money to get them to your site, so don’t let them leave empty-handed if you can avoid it. Make sure someone in the team has responsibility for driving this cadence.
Once you are capturing those customers who already know you and are most likely to purchase from you your attention can move to build out awareness of your store and brand. Here the KPI’s are slightly different you want to reach as many people as possible in as affordable a way as possible. You have to remember that generally, people need to see anywhere between 4 to 8 ads at least before they will engage at all with your store. This is where we would generally use Facebook, Youtube or Programmatic Display to grow the visibility of your brand. Your Facebook campaigns should start out with the mission to introduce yourself to your audience. The creative needs to be ‘thumb-stopping’ and educational. This is where short-form video is really important. It gives you the ability to talk about what you do and more importantly why you do it and why the person watching this should buy from you. It is not focused at this stage on selling a specific product that comes later.
Youtube is another generally underutilised platform especially as viewing habits change among younger demographics. Platforms like Adroll will also help in terms of prospecting for new audiences that are of similar intent to your currently converting customers but it does need a reasonable amount of data to perform successfully. (and of course another pixel installed)
Re-Targeting campaigns become important as you begin to grow your audience – this is how you get a return for the awareness building activity you are doing. You can retarget your Facebook traffic and your website traffic. From an eCommerce perspective, this is where you can get pretty targeted depending on your traffic volume. Build out creative based on product categories that you can then use to convert customers or you can show to segments that purchased one category but not another. You should also give consideration as to how you are going remove purchasers from your retargeting audience. There is nothing more irritating than an ad following you around for a product that you have already bought. With a little bit of work with your audience definitions, you can avoid that happening.
So there are two things you need to take away firstly if you are running an eCommerce store then you have to invest at the right level in demand generation activity in order to be successful. Secondly, there are always more things to do than you or your team can reasonably take on in one go. You need to develop the right Digital Marketing blueprint that recognises your ability to invest in these tactics. Generally, this is a balance between time/speed and money. The more budget you have available to invest then the faster you can go.
If you start by understanding the required economics of your campaigns in terms of where your breakeven point is then you have a really good starting point. That way you know you never wasting budget.
Having a blueprint to follow and a partner who can look over your entire spectrum of digital activities and help you develop that blueprint is really important. Growing and scaling an eCommerce business is something that has to be worked at every day because just when you think you have it cracked something will change in the environment, a new competitor, someone with insanely aggressive pricing trying to buy market share or product tastes change. You are open to more outside influences, more quickly in the online world. Understanding your roadmap, interpreting what your data is telling you and making the right changes are all part of the journey. It is an exciting space, exhausting at times, but exhilarating when you see the successes.