Why is my ecommerce store not selling?

posted in: SEO

The internet is a world where many believe that by simply setting up a webpage or a basic ecommerce website all the awesome benefits of online marketing will happen in a few weeks. Nothing can be further from the truth. In fact, you may be wondering, why is my ecommerce store not selling?

This type of thinking is usually not associated to the offline world, where most people believe (to varying degrees) that it is necessary to invest in paying your retail location’s lease, setup distribution methods and provide products that relate to market needs. Most understand that to start a business you have to invest in a physical location, setting up shop and doing some traditional promotion. Furthermore, most agree and accept the costs of traditional media. Not so much with digital media.

This is why the starting point of all marketing is always the same fundamental principle. More than once have we heard from business owners that they expect to invest as little as possible (‘I don’t have much to invest’), without understanding what is required to attain the level of success required for their business (‘I don’t believe in online marketing, but everyone is doing it’), asking for the minimum and expecting the best. It should be no surprise that many of these businesses end up struggling.

eCommece stores are many times created the same way. Low budget, little planning, large expectations… not a winning combination. Depending on what the particular situation is, we usually face one of different problems when trying to achieve ecommerce sales:

Situation 1: The website receives little to no visitors

If a website is not getting any traffic, we find two possible reasons for that:

  1. Gets little to no traffic because the traffic simply doesn’t exist or the amount of traffic is not the expected by the business owner
  2. The relevant optimization actions have not been taken to ensure the traffic and inform users of the existence of the store

In case 1 we must remember the importance of a market analysis. Just like a major brand product launch, small businesses or startups benefit greatly from investing in proper market research. Beware though, online market analysis may yield very different results from offline and both must be conducted to verify beliefs and findings. At SearchEngineOp we are often surprised by clients who refuse to do online market research to find out if there is demand for their products or services, after all, proper research can save any business thousands of dollars that could have been wasted otherwise.

Let’s use the example of succession planning services. ¿Is there market interest in this type of service? The first thing we do is verify interest through search queries. The idea is that if people are interested in the service, they will be looking for it. The real problem is figuring out what terms people will use as these are sometimes not that obvious.

If we use phrases like “sell my business Kitchener”, or “succession planning Kitchener” we will find two things; a) These terms are dominated by banks and b) people looking for those terms may not be looking for the same service. Another point may be that the volume may be low. These terms should be analysed carefully as even low numbers for a business that needs only a few clients for financial success (pun intended), may be adequate. Additionally, people may honestly be interested in the financial services being offered. So we can test the market by creating an Adwords campaign and a landing page to verify people’s intent and interest (as one type of market research we do).

It is also possible to analyse search trends to understand if there is a pattern behaviour where people may search for the services more at certain points of the year. It allows us to estimate the search traffic at different points in time as well as compare the traffic trends year over year.

For case 2, we simply need to work on optimizing the website. A long term vision is the best because SEO results compile over time and become exponentially better.

Situation 2: Visitors are not qualified traffic

Let’s imagine that we are trying to promote counselling Guelph or family counselling guelph. In this case we are talking about a counselling service in a specific region, but same principles apply to ecommerce websites. There are two possibilities why a user may visit our website and leave as quick as possible. We would call these escapes a bounce and our problem a “high bounce rate”.

In this situation we also find two possible scenarios:

1. The website does not meet the clients’ needs

The first consideration we need to keep in mind is that the website must meet our clients’ needs and expectations. This is sometimes confused with ‘colours’, ‘cartoons’ and general “craziness” (which I dubbed the 3Cs of bad conversion).

In our example, we want people to find the website soothing and easy to navigate. We are adapting the website to the prospects’ profiles and to the best conversion practices. While it is not designed ‘mobile first’ (which is our preferred method), it does translate well into mobile and both experiences are easy to use and allow for finding the information needed.

We have also ensured that navigation is clear and that calls to action are available without being annoying to the visitors. Our average bounce rate for that website is 27.4%, well below the average (good websites have between 50-60% bounce rates, bad ones have 70-80% and really bad ones have above 85%).

2. The product is not aligned with clients’ needs

Another possibility to a high bounce rate is that the visitors may not be finding the product attractive. Sometimes, in spite of all the belief in the product, clients are simply not interested. Great ideas in paper are not always embraced by the public and end up left on the side of the road (one example is the now silly QR codes).

Other times the issue is that we are not attracting the right public or audience. This may require a simple change of direction for the terms being optimized or a better job at describing the products in the meta-description and title of the pages.

There are many possibilities of why a website may be having conversion issues. The ability of the digital marketer is the differentiating factor (as well as the client’s willingness to allow the marketer to do the job).

Situation 3: Website design is not optimized for conversion

This is a tough one. Most people only think of website conversion as the website being good looking or pretty. However, website conversion design is much more than that, a small increase in conversion could be a huge difference.

Conversion can be affected by the website speed, the structure of the information or the amount of steps required to finalize a purchase. Color of buttons, location of calls to action, and many more aspects influence this important metric.

The best way to determine how to improve conversion, is through a series of comparison tests, driving traffic to different versions of the same pages and tracking the results.