If you’re thinking that 2020 is the year you look to really improve your business in every way you can, then you’ve come to the right place. We’ve spoken to ecommerce experts around EKM and asked them what business owners should be doing to improve their business in the new year.
We’ve compiled a list of 20 tactics that any business owner can use to help improve their business in 2020.
1. Review your ecommerce site
Let’s start off with reviewing your ecommerce site. This is something that not every business owner thinks about too often but when you think about big players like Apple and Nike for example, you may not always notice it but their websites are continually evolving and improving over time.
They do this in small but impactful ways, as to not disrupt the customers buying experience or make their site unrecognisable but enough that over time, their site is improved overall. This can range anywhere from design to functionality like the way products are viewed by customers. But it’s always recommended that you’re reviewing your site on a regular basis.
Quick Tip: Even if you’re not an EKM customer, you can have a site review from ecommerce experts on our Evolution Team. See how we can help you improve your site for 2020.
2. Review your payment gateways
The same is said for your payment gateways. You should look to review your online payment gateways every year to make sure you’re getting the best rates for your business. Treat your payment gateways like your car insurance, every year you renegotiate for a better rate, or leave and choose a different provider.
At the end of the day, you will pay a percentage per transaction that goes through your shop so if you can reduce the amount you pay in transaction fees, the more profit margin you’ll have.
We’ve even written about the best payment gateways for online businesses here. However, reducing your transaction fees shouldn’t be the only part of your payment gateways that you review. You also need to think about your customers and what kind of payment options they’d prefer. Some prefer to use Digital Wallets such as PayPal but others prefer to use card only payments. So if your shop doesn’t currently have a few options for your customers to choose from you might be missing out on those all-important sales.
If you’re an EKM customer you can book in with our Payment Specialist, Wayne to talk through your options and review your current payment methods here.
This may not apply to every online business but if you’ve been trading for a good few years and your branding is looking a little outdated, you might want to consider a refresh of your brand.
Updating your brand in line with current design trends can help to ensure you stay current and competitive in your market. Modern branding will also help attract new customers to your online shop. There are two ways to go about this. Refreshing your brand is essentially giving your brand a facelift, but a rebrand is a complete transformation of a brand which takes a lot more time, resources and money to do.
Businesses opt to do a complete rebrand for a number of reasons such as growth, new management, a bad reputation or an outdated image. What you choose may also depend on time and budget constraints too.
In the new year, you may also want to look into automating some of your regular tasks if you haven’t already. You can automate quite a lot of tasks related to your business activity but it does require some preparation work beforehand.
Let’s start out with automating your email marketing. If you don’t already have automated emails set up for sold products, you should start there. Your first email should confirm the order placed and let your customer know you’ve received it. You should then look to set up other automated emails to keep your customers updated about the status of their order, i.e when it’s dispatched, the estimated delivery date and the confirmation of delivery at their chosen address. If your customer is informed about their order, if something goes wrong, they’re more likely to be forgiving than if there is no communication at all.
You could also look into automating your review emails. Ask customers if they would rate your product on your site, or leave you a review on sites like Trustpilot. Building up highly rated reviews on your products also helps with trust signals for other potential customers and this also helps to extend the conversation after point of sale with your existing customers.
You can also use a customers previous purchase history to send them special offers and deals for products they may have looked at in the past but not ordered yet to generate a little more interest in the product and remind them about it too.
So now you’ve got your emails automated, if you don’t already you’ll want to look at getting some of your social media automated too. There are a few different tools that you can use to automate your social media and one we use here at EKM is Buffer. Tools like this allow you to connect all your social channels in one place and schedule posts and tweets in advance. You can set your preferred time of day to post for each social channel too in order to get the best engagement out of your posts.
If you’re struggling for content to schedule for your social media, why not take a look at our Social Media series – don’t worry we’ll be doing an update of these in 2020 so make sure to keep an eye out, but these posts should help spark some inspiration.
Now we have your shop and social media looking great and have your emails and social content automated, we can look at a more personalised approach when it comes to dealing with customers.
While you can personalise your automated emails to some extent, you can take this a step further with customers too. You can look to send ‘keep in touch’ emails or notes within their packages and even phone calls with customers to ask how they found your product, was it useful? Was there anything else they were looking for? Of course this is easier if you have a smaller customer base but it can create a very strong impact.
Taking the time to connect with your customers not only reminds them of their great experience buying from your shop but also start the beginning of a strong relationship. This is the foundation for customer loyalty and also helps to build you a great reputation as well as offering upsell opportunities.
6. Conversational marketing
The last section leads nicely onto number 6 – conversational marketing. If you’ve never heard this term before, it’s basically where you spark up a conversation with your desired customers and converse about a particular topic rather than giving them the hard sell.
There are many formats conversational marketing can take place, either online or in-person and it can be a powerful long-term marketing tool. If you’re not sure where to start with conversational marketing, start with your customers and website visitors. If they ask a question, instead of just answering and getting straight to the point, try to ask what their needs are, why are they looking for it – essentially start a conversation.
7. Content marketing
Something that you may already be doing on a blog for instance is content marketing but again this is another element of your marketing strategy that you should reevaluate once or twice a year.
You can do some research about the kind of topics you should be writing about with tools such as ahrefs which allow you to look into what keywords are ranking well and what keywords would be easy to rank for in Google. This research can help you understand what direction your content should be going in and you can plan accordingly. Put yourself in your ideal customers shoes, if you’re looking for some advice or information about a product or service, what kind of questions or phrases would you type into Google? Try to write content that helps answer their questions.
This leads me onto our next section – video. Video has been a popular form of content creation since the boom of YouTube and has become more popular since across a variety of social media platforms. The content we talked about in the last section, if it helps answer your customers questions then it can be made into a video too!
Video can be another part of your content marketing strategy however it can also be a way to better engage with your customers through Facebook Live or Instagram Stories for example. Set up a YouTube channel if you haven’t already and start out by making informative, educational content for your audience. One of our customers Resin8 already does this and they have over 1000 subscribers.
Investing your time in video content across multiple channels is a great marketing tool that can help your business grow in 2020.
9. Sell the sizzle, not the sausage
What we mean by ‘sell the sizzle, not the sausage’ is essentially sell the benefit or the solution to someone’s problem, not the features. We talked a little about this earlier in the blog but it’s something that your customers will find more value in. Think about a new sim only contract, the features of the contract are 8GB data, unlimited calls and unlimited texts.
Great. But what does that mean to the customer? It means, internet browsing to your heart’s content and finding out the latest trending twitter hashtag. It means catching up with loved ones without having to worry. These are the benefits that the customer sees. If you can get this right for your products, you’re more likely to resonate with why they’re buying these items and ultimately they’re more likely to buy from you.
10. Ask, don’t tell
We’ve also touched on this earlier too but it should be a big part of your customer service strategy. When speaking with customers, either on the phone or online, make a point to always ask what they’re looking for. Don’t just tell them all about your product and its features – they will ultimately not respond well to it and you could lose out on sales.
Make sure to always make the conversation about how you can help the customer, not how they can give you money for products or services. You should make the interaction with every customer as personal and pleasant as possible and keep in mind that the main aim with this isn’t to make them buy one item from you but become a loyal and trusting customer who buys from you repeatedly.
While there are many forms of advertising, if you aren’t doing any then you’re losing out. But when looking into advertising you need to really evaluate which route will give you the best bang for your buck.
Online advertising has become the most accessible form of advertising for all business sizes and depending on your budget, and or goals you have a few options to choose from. Google Ads if you don’t have them running already are a great way to reach your ideal customers who are searching for products that you’re selling. You can read on how PPC can boost your sales here.
You can also retarget people that have already visited your website with the products they we’re looking at and advertise this to them on other platforms like Facebook. Advertising is a really powerful tool in the ecommerce industry and can help you boost sales with little initial investment.
There are of course more traditional ways of advertising too such as print. This can also vary in what media types you choose for example, advertising in an industry-specific magazine such as Furniture Week. Whatever channel you choose to advertise on, you need to make sure that your targeting is right as well as your bidding budget for advertising on Google for example.
One tactic that is sometimes overlooked in the advertising space is Geotargeting. If you own a brick and mortar shop then Geotargeting could help you drive footfall into your shop.
Geotargeting is also known as local PPC or Pay Per Click and essentially allows you to specify a location to show your ads in. For example, if you own a shop in Manchester, you can select this city to show your ads to or specific messaging within your ads. It can take some time to fully understand but if you rely on foot traffic this is a great tool to utilise.
13. User-generated content (UGC)
Moving on from advertising into a more organic way of advertising – user-generated content (UGC). This is exactly how it sounds, your users generating content that you can utilise for your own benefit and is also a modern form of word of mouth.
A good example of this is NYX, a makeup brand that reuses its customers content across its social media channels to increase engagement and community with their customers and ultimately their prospects. You can also do this by encouraging your customers to take pictures of them using the products and as a way of thanking them you reuse the images across your social media – but remember to always give photo credit by tagging them (if possible). You could even run small giveaways for the best user-generated photo for example.
Not only does this give you lots of content to use, it spreads your brand across your customers social channels and gives you the chance to better engage with your customers.
14. Giving back
From engaging with your customers to giving back. Companies are now investing into giving back a lot more in today’s world than ever before as this is not only a topic that their customers care about but it’s also great for building your brand reputation.
A great example of this is Toms who help a person in need every time you purchase from them. This started with donating a pair of shoes to a person in need and has now grown to helping people with access to water, sight and providing safe birthing conditions for women. Not only have giving back done wonders for their brand reputation, but they’re giving their customers a chance to feel like they’re making an impact by purchasing from them.
15. Eco packaging
Consumers are now aware now more than ever about the environmental impacts that retail businesses have. Think about how much fuel it takes to deliver one package to your customer. Of course it depends on where the parcel is being shipped to but they fuel costs have an environmental impact.
One way you can help to reduce the carbon footprint of your business is to package in eco-friendly packaging that is fully recyclable. Brands like Eco Logic have already mastered the art of eco-friendly packaging which is made from 100% post-consumer recycled paper and is recyclable and compostable.
So while you may not be able to control how your packages are delivered you can control what they are delivered in. Not only is this great for the environment, it’s also a great USP as well as being great for your brand reputation.
16. Build relationships
Perhaps slightly underrated into today’s digital world but building relationships whether that be with customers, or other business owners is a great tactic for your business. Networking with others builds up your brand reputation, gets the conversation going and spreads the word about your business too.
There are more ways you can take advantage of networking and building relationships though. You may have seen that larger businesses sometimes partner with other businesses who they have a mutual benefit with. For instance EKM partner with businesses such as payment gateways and other service-based businesses that help our customers sell more.
You can do the same, even if you’re a small business. During your networking efforts, if you meet another business owner who sells a product or service that your customers would benefit from and vice versa, you could talk about a partnership and there are a few ways to do this.
From a referral deal whereby every customer you send them, they pay you a small fee and vice versa or you could do a joint marketing campaign and run it across both customer bases, exposing your business to a new set of people.
Moving onto more technical tactics you can take for your business in 2020, Chatbots may have been around for a good few years now but you should be taking advantage of this wherever possible. Not only can they help lighten the load for live chat questions on your ecommerce shop and facebook page but they are becoming more and more intelligent over time.
In the near future, they’ll be able to help with much more than an introductory message for customers visiting your website. They’ll be able to help answer questions about the kind of products visitors are looking for based on keywords and send them a link for an appropriate category, thus improving the customer experience while allowing you to focus on other things.
18. Shoppable Instagram posts
This is something that isn’t that new but is the next step in Instagrams plan to be more business-friendly. What shoppable posts allow you to do it add a link to the product within the post that will take the user directly to the product page – it also includes pricing information too.
You can tag up to 5 products within a post and helps to provide a seamless experience for users when shopping online as well as giving businesses another platform to reach out on. However you do need to have an Instagram Business Account but we’d recommend looking into this further to really view the benefits. If you’re and EKM customer looking into this in the new year, we have this super handy guide on Instagram Shopping for you.
Something that everyone has heard about but may not have used before is AR or Augmented Reality. A recently new concept that larger businesses are adopting especially within the ecommerce space, AR allows you to apply items you’re looking to purchase within your physical reality. An example of this is IKEA Place, which is an app you can download on your phone that allows you to place their furniture in your home to get a better idea of how it will look. It displays a 3D true-to-scale model of the furniture wherever you choose to place it.
AR is now helping to provide a better customer experience for brands like IKEA as well as other retailers. AR means IKEA might have reduced the amount of items returned to their stores and a reduced environmental impact due to less trips.
20. Trust signals
Our final tactic for improving your business in 2020 is something you should have heard of and if you already do it, then great! But if not then this is probably the most important tactic for you and it should be at the top of your list.
Trust signals are a must on any ecommerce site, no matter what you’re selling you want your customers to trust where they’re buying from which is why trust signals are so important. If you don’t have them or they’re not obvious then you could be losing out on important sales.
The most common trust signals are things like customer reviews. Set up a Trustpilot account for your business and embed it into the footer of your website. Email customers and ask them to review your business. You could also have them review the items themselves straight on your website, so when others are looking to buy the same item, they are reassured that someone else has had a good buying experience from you.
One other trust signal is have reputable payment gateways as well as an SSL Certificate which shows visitors that your ecommerce shop is safe and secure. You can read our quick guide on why SSL Certificates are important here.
If you’d like to learn more about setting up your own online shop, read on for more insights into running your own online business here.