Can You Pass the E-commerce Sales at Christmas Test?

rack of clothes with manequin in background.

Christmas is the time of year that every e-commerce and retail business should be more aggressive with their marketing plan to reach their audience and capture their attention. As a business owner, your digital marketing strategy should be methodically planned in order to achieve success and growth year on year. We as marketers can tell you to spend more money on your Google Ads or prepare your SEO a minimum of six months in advance, but we cannot guarantee that your website visitors will convert into a sale. However, here are some questions to ask yourself to identify potential website improvements to assist with easier conversions.

Q1 - Is your site easy to navigate on both a desktop and mobile device?

One of the major reasons a user will abandon a website is the inability to navigate with ease. This can relate to many different factors such as layout and page speed. If a menu is difficult to find or is not labelled well, a user may likely have to click several options to find what they’re after. Let’s use the example LalaBazaar a women’s designer clothing store

Desktop – this version of the website very clearly shows the menu bar at the top of the page in a clean white and black space. This tells the user it is an important part of the purpose of the site, which is selling designer clothing. The menu then has a simple title for each option making it easy to know what to click on to find what you as the user are after. You can see these as New, Shop, Labels, Sample Shop, Sale, About and Contact. Several have submenu’s relating to the main menu titles such as Dresses, Bottoms, Skirts Tops etc which fall under Shop. This keeps the site compact and easy to navigate so users can find the category of clothing they’re interested in. You can see immediately that the purpose of this site is to sell a product due to the cart being located in the top right hand corner. This is buyers psychology to show what a website wants you to do as a user naturally looks to the top right hand corner for instruction.

Mobile – When looking at the mobile version of the site, you want to consider each device. A helpful tip is to use Google Chrome to bring up your site, then tape F12 which will bring up DevTools. In the top left corner, there are two buttons, one with an arrow which the other that looks like a small mobile phone and then a tablet device. Click on this and it will show you the responsive version in Google Chrome. Then at the top of the page in Google Chrome you can see a drop-down box, this will likely say Responsive if you’ve never used this tool before. Click on this drop-down menu and you can see several different mobile devices.

For this example, I am going to use the iPhone X version. The first thing you notice is how easy it is for a new user to identify that this an e-commerce store with the cart located at the top and even when you scroll down it stays in the same place. This allows users to see how many items are in their cart. Buying psychology shows that even on a mobile device, users naturally look to the top right for conversion purpose. Website trends change and one of the trends is how a user can find the menu. Previously, websites only needed to be mobile responsive, which essentially means it looks the same but downsizes according to your screen. Now, you need a different version which is easier for users to view on mobile devices and therefore the menu had to be changed in order to make clicking easier. Currently, the trend for a mobile website menu is identified by three to four small straight lines placed parallel and evenly separated. A user knows to click on these lines to open the menu and start navigating the site.

Q2 – How fast does your website load?

How frustrating is it when your search engine says, ‘waiting for a response from ……’? Or when the website logs but images aren’t showing up or are taking ages to load? We all know this frustration and if it the site doesn’t load second- or third-time reloading, we simply abandon. No matter how loyal a user is to your brand if your website isn’t loading quickly or in full, then that is essentially a sale lost. The very helpful people at Google have developed a tool designed for Web Developers but free for you to use. All you need to do is visit PageSpeed Insights and enter your website to be given a score for your mobile load time and a separate score for desktop load time. Along with these scores, it gives you “Opportunities” on how you can improve your page speed load time. You may not be able to do some of the actions that Google PageSpeed Insights recommends as this tool is designed for developers, but it gives you instructions for you to give your Web Developer.

If your site is built on WordPress there are many free plugins available that will help you to condense the size of your images and files, which is one of the most common issues a website has with a slow load speed. The same goes for when a user is changing pages within a site and looking at different products, if it takes too long, they will be deterred from purchasing and either go elsewhere or abandon the shopping idea altogether. However, don’t be too pedantic about trying to get it perfect as even sites like Kmart Australia have opportunities for improvement as loading a huge site in under 2 seconds is an almighty feat.

Q3 – How does your website show up in a Google Search?

We’ve been talking about the on-page experience, but how about getting people to your site during a Google search? When you do a search on Google, there is a large amount of results that show up which Google deems relevant to your search. The results can include paid ads such as Google Shopping, Google Ads, Google My Business directory listings and then the organic results. Regardless of whether your website shows up organically or via a paid ad, you still need to ensure that you’re communicating the right information and grabbing the user’s attention. For your Ads you would do this through the Google Ads platform and edit the title and description to be relevant to the search and include the keywords where possible. For your organic listing, this is done via your website CMS (Content Management System) or your files if you’re familiar with HTML coding. You will want to ensure you edit the page title and description to be unique to the page you’re editing, but also include a reason the user should visit your site eg. Call Today. This call to action is telling the user that they need to go to your site to get the phone number.

You also don’t want to confuse the user by trying to add too many details in the title and description. An an example, if you do a search for “2019 diary Brisbane” which you can see the top row of results is Sponsored Google Shopping ads and then directly below are the organic results with paid Google Ads at the bottom of the page. The first line in blue font is your page meta title and the black longer text below it is your page meta description. These can encourage or discourage a user from choosing your site to click on. A top tip is to have your business name on all your page meta titles in the same structure such as before or after the information that is the topic of the page. Going back to the example, you can see straight away that Officeworks has simple and effective page meta titles such as “2019 Diaries | Officeworks” and closely followed by “Diaries | Officeworks”. The next listing is by Dairy Shop and they’ve tried to include so many products in the title that you can’t see the name and is overwhelming for the user which deters a click. In fourth position you have Booktopia with a slightly more complex but attention grabbing title with “Booktopia Stationary – Buy discount Stationery item Diaries online” as the work Discount grabs the user’s attention. Keep it simple and short.

Q4 – Are you easy to find on social media?

With most of the population having at least one social media profile, whether it be Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat or Twitter, social media engagement is a fantastic way to get in front of your audience. Most social networks are image based and it’s good to have images with short blurbs to get your products in front of users. Don’t just rely on organic posting as only your page followers will see these (if you’re lucky) but pay to have ads showing. Facebook has a highly advanced ads platform that will allow you to target certain areas that are most relevant to you, different demographics, age groups and people with relevant interests as well as scheduling the post for the best day and time for conversions. When using Instagram, be sure when doing an organic post that you are using relevant #hashtags and your images are clear and not grainy. Having low quality images can appear cheap or give the impression that you’ve not put much effort in and it won’t capture your customers attention, you want to also ensure the lighting is good and not dark as you want a user to imagine they’re in that picture if it’s of a product. A perfect example of a great Instagram user is @trashtotreasured who not only uses fantastic #hashtags but will give credit to businesses that relate to the image she’s posting. Then, her profile has different topics as well as how to contact her and visit her website.

With all of this in mind, your business will be off to a great festive season for 2018 and getting ahead of the pack with not only your exposure but ease of use for your customers.

Have a fantastic Christmas and New Year!!!

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Jessica is the founder of Gordon Digital and a specialist in digital marketing for trades and service based businesses. She helps business owners grow their online traffic and convert that traffic into paying customers and repeat business.