We have all clicked on a website that should have been incredible, only to be let down. In today’s market, having a great product or service is simply not enough — your website needs to match the quality of your product or service.
Look around, and pretty much every website worth its salt is designed beautifully. There are so many exceptional tools that can bring amazing design within reach of almost any website owner. Many e-commerce storefronts lose sight of the fact that while they are out to sell products, user experience is just as important in the buying process. Frankly, many sites are severely lacking when it comes to design. Cumbersome navigation, large images that load slowly and a lack of call-to-action buttons are some of the biggest design flaws we see on a regular basis.
It takes a careful eye to flesh out that perfect balance between what looks good and what works. Don’t fall into the trap of just listing products; ensure your product feed is coupled with dynamic design — design that is functional as well as beautiful. For instance, call-to-action buttons are extremely valuable and can help site visitors who are almost tripping over ways to contact you. Design is not only a way to make a site visually appealing; it must enhance conversions.
As much as design can attract attention, superior content should provide the perfect complement. Content can be a mystery for some companies — they don’t see why it is needed on a website designed to sell products. The key to gaining an audience is establishing a community around your product. To do that, you should have something to say. Blogs, FAQ pages and information-rich landing pages are all exceptional ways to interact with your community.
A while back, I was looking through some of our e-commerce client projects to see what was effective and what could use work. What I found was that the sites with the most dynamic content had the most engagement. The thought behind this is that more engagement is equal to more sales.
Content is not always words on the page, but videos, infographics and many other shareable media bits. Leveraging your brand to create content that sells can increase visibility, which, historically, is a great way to increase sales. You can have the greatest product on earth, but if nobody knows what it is good for, you might as well close up shop.
Product Descriptions That Actually Sell Products
Product descriptions are one of the most overlooked pieces of content on e-commerce websites. A solid product description creates a deeper understanding of your product, invites engagement and provides an opportunity for your audience to connect.
Many product descriptions are nothing more than a list of attributes, and that is just fine for your highly educated shopper, but reaching the casual buyer who is undecided should be your goal.
To entice those casual shoppers, a product description should be long enough to engage, but short enough to digest; enough info to list the features, but brief enough to painlessly convince the casual buyer that they need your product. Look to the value the product can provide, and clearly state that in the description, interpreting for your clients why the features make this a superior product.
Product descriptions are also ideal for use in a social media campaign like a Facebook store. Leverage the power of social media for your business: Add products, and make it easy for your followers to buy what they need.
Leverage The Power Of Video
Videos of your products can be an incredible way to introduce potential customers to the advantages you offer over the competition. Integrate videos into your homepage, FAQ page and even individual product pages. One advantage of video is that it can be used for so many more campaigns than just website content.
For instance, we like to integrate our videos into email campaigns. We have found that this is a great way to engage with clients and give them some information they may find useful, even if they do not decide to utilize our product. Videos are ideal when describing your products, and according to research, most consumers would rather watch a video than read a lengthy product description. While this may sound contrary to what I said about content earlier, the platforms for videos and other types of content can be different, and I believe you need both for effective marketing.
Putting It All Together
Building a great e-commerce website is an amalgamation of design and content, all connected seamlessly through multiple channels. A great product or service will only get you so far, so it’s critical that your brand strategy is bulletproof for your e-commerce business.
Conversions are the ultimate goal, and keeping the overall strategy in mind when you are setting up your website will benefit you in the long run. Conversions depend on engagement, and in order to increase engagement, a solid content strategy should be implemented from the beginning.
In today’s online marketing world, an e-commerce site has little chance of simply being discovered on its own. The clients that we’ve had the most success with have all embraced a wide range of marketing opportunities. Set up your website with more than a singular focus on products, and you will likely see a difference right away.
Have you ever noticed that you eat less junk during the weeks when you hit your target of working out four times? And when you are eating better, you pause before ordering that next drink? And then as you’re working out a bit more, eating better, and drinking less, you get to bed a bit earlier and wake up more readily?
This is the upward spiral of good habits. The same effect can be observed for work habits, financial practices, or any other element of our lives. And it also happens in organizations. Let’s consider the example of Ellevate, a community of professional women committed to helping each other succeed, and a certified B Corp.
First, a word on B Corps: these are for-profit companies that have been certified (and re-certified every three years) by the not-for-profit organization B Lab, which created the B Corp certification. B Lab’s B Impact Assessment (BIA), on which the certification is based, is a rigorous set of standards for how a company operates, with about 200 indicators in five areas (customers, community, workers, environment, and governance).
Companies must earn at least 80 points on these questions, which range from the training and benefits they offer employees to ratio of the lowest and highest salaries, ethics policies and procedures, and whether you’re working with the landlord to improve your facility’s environmental performance.
Ellevate was established as a strongly mission-driven for-profit company in 1997, by women who worked at Goldman Sachs and called the group 85 Broads, in reference to their employer’s corporate address. As other women expressed an interest in the peer support offered by the group, it expanded to include others beyond the GS network. In 2013, Sallie Krawcheck acquired the company and rebranded as Ellevate to capitalize on the business opportunity of helping women advance in leadership, which has been shown to have great economic benefit to employers and the communities around them.
The mission of Ellevate, then, has been the same for over 20 years. It may have become more newsworthy in today’s #MeToo era, but it’s no more or less important now than then. What has changed is the way that Ellevate executes on that mission. The group certified as a B Corp in 2016, earning a score of 88 on the 200-point BIA.
Perhaps Ellevate’s identity as a mission-driven company made this transition to B Corp more likely, but many of the other 3,000 certified B Corps are very standard businesses, selling cleaning products, ice cream, branding advice, or even electricity. Whether or not a company’s ‘what’ is inherently good for the world, in an increasingly transparent world, Ellevate isn’t the only company thinking more about not just what they do, but how they do it.
And this is where B Corp certification comes in, as Samantha Giannangeli, Ellevate’s Operations Lead, said: “It’s worth it for the introspective take on your business – not just what you hope to achieve, but how.“
Regardless of what they sell, all companies have myriad opportunities to create less harm and ultimately generate benefit to the people and planet around them. The BIA offers 200 very specific such opportunities, such as including social and environmental performance in job descriptions and performance reviews; managing customer data privacy; and sharing resources about best environmental practices for virtual employees. CEOs are generally assigned the most direct responsibility – and credit – for how a company operates. Indeed, Giannangeli said that Wallace, “is a driving force behind our work with B Corp. She leads by example every day, and we’re lucky to work with her.”
But the upward spiral that you’ve felt during those healthy eating weeks kicks in quickly once a CEO states or signals that they support operating the business in a way that’s good for the world. After all, CEOs do very little of any company’s day-to-day operations. Decisions about fair hiring practices, good environmental practices, and customer support and protection are made by middle management and executed (or not) by frontline employees.
Giannangeli described how Wallace’s commitment to improving Ellevate’s operating principles engages and reflects employees, saying that Wallace “listens to us, and takes the time to understand the challenges we bring to the workforce – and the challenges we want to solve.”
The vast majority of us want to make a positive contribution to the world through our work, whether by improving a single person’s day or making a system more equitable. So getting permission from leadership and learning best practices for doing business that’s good for the world (from the BIA for example) is enough to activate a team to improve the pieces of a company’s operations that they’re responsible for.
Ellevate’s team “drastically increased our energy efficiency, launched a series of trainings on cultural awareness and anti-discrimination and harassment, and developed an internship program focused on first generation college students.” These initiatives have nothing to do with the company’s core business of supporting women at work – they would fit equally well in a cleaning products or ice cream company.
As a result of these efforts, Ellevate’s BIA score rose from 88 to 115 when they were re-certified in 2019. They became a Best for the World honoree, indicating that their score in the Workers category falls in the top 10% of all B Corps. Giannangeli pointed out that the practices that earned this recognition “were employee-driven, and employee-led.”
What’s more, during recent testimony to the House Committee on Small Business, Ellevate CEO Kristy Wallace said: “I’d also like to note that our business revenues doubled during that time period illustrating that being good for society is also good for business.” This understanding that doing well by doing good is not only possible for businesses to attain, but increasingly a mandate from customers, investor, and employees. And there’s nothing like revenue growth to drive an upward spiral of being good for society.
So regardless of your position, industry, and function, check out the BIA. Find one or two indicators that you or your team participate in or influence. And think about what small step you could take to improve your company’s performance on that one small factor. You could stop buying individually packaged snacks in favor of bulk purchases that go into reusable containers to reduce your waste.
Or institute a team-wide afternoon stretch break to improve employee well-being. Or start a Slack channel for online articles, podcasts, videos, and courses to offer low-cost, self-scheduling professional development that helps colleagues stay on the cutting edge of your industry.
These are all small and very low-cost initiatives, but they’re much more likely to get your colleagues and leadership thinking about other ways your company could be better for the people and planet around you than doing nothing. And these and similar small actions can also be taken in your home, informal communities, or even just your personal habits, like the gym and healthy eating we started with. So what will you do in 2020 to kickstart an upward spiral?
** Please Like the Video and Subscribe, Thanks ** We’re just going to talk about what is employee engagement, what is the definition of employee engagement? Let’s start with what it’s not. See, a lot of people think employee engagement is the same as employee satisfaction, but satisfaction doesn’t raise the bar high enough. See, I can be satisfied as I clock into work at nine and satisfied as I take my breaks and lunch and clock out at five o’clock. I’m satisfied and I do what is asked of me. More importantly, I’m satisfied but I’ll take that executive recruiter phone call that says, “Kevin, are you interested in that job opening from the competitor across the street?” “Ah, I’m pretty satisfied here, actually.” “I can get you a ten percent raise.” “Oh, well, okay, I’ll take that job interview.” Satisfaction just doesn’t set the bar high enough. Others will say, oh, what it’s really about is happiness. We’re trying to create happy workers, a happy workplace. I’m not against happiness. I hope everybody is happy, but just because you’re happy doesn’t mean you’re working on behalf of the organization. I’ve got two teenage daughters who I had to take to the mall to go clothes shopping recently, every parent’s worst nightmare. We went into one of these trendy teen clothing stores with the cool-looking young people working everywhere and the music blasting through the speakers. I noticed, we walked in, the workers seemed pretty happy, looking down at their smartphones, but nobody greeted me as we came in the door. They were laughing at one point in the corner, all talking with each other. Not once did they come over and ask me if we were finding everything we needed. When we were checking out, the young woman behind the cash register, she was happily bopping her head to the beats blasting through the speakers, but she didn’t try to up-sell me. She didn’t offer me the company credit card. The workers there, I really noticed it right away. They sure seemed happy at work. They seemed like they were having a fun, good time, but they weren’t necessarily doing the behaviors or performing the way their company leadership probably wanted them to. If engagement isn’t satisfaction and it isn’t happy, what is it? Basically, employee engagement is the emotional commitment that we have to our organization and the organization’s goals. When we’re engaged, when we’re emotionally committed, it means we’re going to give discretionary effort. We’re going to go the extra mile. That’s the secret sauce. That’s why engagement is so important and so powerful. When we are engaged, we give discretionary effort. That means if you have an engaged salesperson, she’s going to sell just as hard on a Friday afternoon as she does on a Monday afternoon. If you have an engaged customer service professional, he’s going to be just as patient with that irate customer at 4:59 at the end of the shift as he would be at 9:30 in the morning. If you have engaged factory workers, they’re productivity is going to be higher, the quality is going to be higher, fewer defects and mistakes, and most importantly, they’re going to get hurt less often. Your safety record is going to improve as people are more mindful and aware. Discretionary effort leads to better business results no matter what your job role or responsibility in an organization. Now this is a shame, because the C-level executives, they would care more about engagement if they understood the differences. What they care about, the C-level executives, they really care about investor returns. They care about their stock price. Employee engagement is the lever that can move that needle. I call it the engagement profit chain. Engaged employees give discretionary effort. They’re going to sell harder. The service is going to be better. Productivity is going to be higher. That means customers are going to be happier. The more satisfied your customers are, the more they’re going to buy and the more they’re going to refer you. As sales go up, as profits go up, inevitably your stock price is going to go up Shareholder returns are going to go up. Employee engagement, so-called soft stuff leads to a hard ROI. Several years ago, the Kenexa Research Institute did a study and they found that companies with engaged employees, their stock price was five times higher than companies with disengaged employees, over a five-year time period. I hope that you will help me to spread the gospel of engagement, and it starts with making sure that everybody is on the same page with what engagement really is. I invite you to just forward this video to friends and colleagues, get us all on the same page. -~-~~-~~~-~~-~- Most Recent Video: “How To Talk ANYONE Into ANYTHING | Negotiation Tips From Former FBI Negotiator Chris Voss ” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7jqj3…
When the company opened the seven-floor store at 57th Street and Broadway in Manhattan this October, it made sure service was at the forefront of the brick-and-mortar establishment. Though I don’t have any business ties to Nordstrom, I study retail markets and am always curious about how the latest brick-and-mortar store trends impact online shopping and e-commerce growth.
Here are some interesting retail innovations inspired by Nordstrom’s flagship store–and other retailers–that you can apply to help your brand.
1. Create opportunities to spend time in the store.
The new Nordstrom location offers in-store spa services like blowout bars, facials, massages, waxing, manicures, and more. Offering services like these–and a martini bar and sit-down eateries–keeps customers in the store longer, making them likely to spend more money, according to a Journal of Marketingstudy.
Look for ways your company can create more in-store experiences that align with your brand, like how Lululemon’s new Mall of America megastore features workout studios, snack bars, and a 6,000-square-foot “experiential area.” Those could involve booking appointments online to try on clothes, providing an in-store café (à la Ikea), or hosting product demonstrations and interactive experiences, like Lush.
2. Create a seamless omni-channel experience and provide multiple ways to get products.
Nordstrom says its online sales jump about 20 percent in a local market when it opens a store there. That, in my opinion, is because of the company’s buy online, pick up in-store options, as well as its offering easy curbside pickup.
Customers want a full-service experience from the moment they walk in the door. If you’re a clothing retailer, one way to do that is to create smart fitting rooms. That can be as simple as creating a button customers can push that calls a sales associate, or it can be as advanced as the smart-mirror fitting rooms at Ralph Lauren’s flagship store, which show various sizes and colors available for items. Luxury beauty companies are testing out AR in airport pop-up shops around the globe, enabling customers to play with virtual makeup in trials through virtual mirrors.
Metrics and analytics can be confusing. So, amidst all the trends and jargon, let’s consider a very straightforward train of thought … clouds mean rain.
Of course, it’s not always a one-for-one equation, but clouds — whether you know the difference between nimbus, cumulonimbus, or nimbostratus — are what economists call a leading indicator of pending precipitation.
In countless ways, leading indicators enable us to predict or foresee events. As in life, so in ecommerce: even if you can’t articulate their technical names — correlative analytics, predictive metrics, common conversion clusters — you’re constantly predicting the future based on tell-tale signals to maximize time, resources, and revenue.
The question is: how can you bring those signals from the background to the fore, from a mere gut feeling into cold, hard data?
Leading Indicators in Ecommerce: A Definition
Growth and retention are great key performance indicators (KPIs), but there’s a problem …
They’re lagging indicators — indicative only of past results. Excellent for forming hypotheses about what might work, but as you plan for future success, what we really need are leading indicators — metrics that enable you to project future performance.
In case that sounds confusing let’s use a simple analogy.
In the weight loss world, lost pounds are a lagging indicator, and the number of calories consumed and burned are leading indicators. The two indicators are related, but only the latter sheds foresight into what’s to come.
So, what are leading indicators in ecommerce?
To find your leading indicators:
Identify your goals (e.g., bottom-line KPIs), and then
Work backward to identify the precipitating metrics
For instance, let’s say you have a goal to increase email-generated revenue by 10% in six months.
Goal attainment is easy to measure: in six months, you compare your email-generated revenue against today’s to determine whether or not you hit your goal.
During those six months, you can look to your open rates, your subscriber count, and frequency of campaigns as leading indicators that enable you to achieve that goal.
Some leading indicators are standard across businesses, regardless of the type of product you sell. For example, increased customer complaints or product returns can be a strong indicator of problems in production or distribution. After investigation, you might find that your product description is inaccurate, sizing is off, the materials are shoddy or the packaging doesn’t hold up during shipping. Monitoring those indicators would allow you to react quickly to improve satisfaction.
“Finding a correlation between two metrics is a good thing. Correlations can help you predict what will happen. But finding the cause of something means you can change it. Usually, causations aren’t simple one-to-one relationships — there’s lots of factors at play, but even a degree of causality is valuable.
“You prove causality by finding a correlation, then running experiments where you control the other variables and measure the difference. It’s hard to do, but causality is really an analytics superpower–it gives you the power to hack the future.”
For example, Facebook knew that growing their monthly active users would be key to their monetization. And after going through the data, Facebook figured out that by having a user make seven friends in ten days, it was very likely that user would become much more active and engaged for the rest of their lives.
Facebook calls that an “aha” moment — the moment the user discovered the joy of Facebook — and the seven friends in ten days was their key leading indicator.
For social platforms like Facebook, Snapchat, and Twitter, these leading indicators typically involve attention (since that’s what they’re selling).
In order to become a top performing ecommerce company, you need to discover the leading indicators that matter to your customers.
Whereas at Chubbies Shorts, maybe visitors just want to — quickly — find the coolest pair of swimming trunks possible before they go off on vacation in a week.
You must understand your store’s core product value in order to go down this train of thought. But once you do, you’d be ready to grow your store drastically by figuring out the moments and points that matter most to your customers, and use them as the key leading indicator.
Now that we understand the what, the next question is how …
If you run an ecommerce company, you could start with a retroactive analysis (just like the one-two process above).
Point out the goal, or the lagging metric, that matters the most to you and work backwards from there: e.g., revenue, customer count, or retention.
Your lagging indicators probably won’t tell you what to do next, but they will suggest areas where you can focus your testing. How can you change or improve? Which campaign should you create next? Which customers should you focus on for the highest return for your business?
Because this is all about the big picture, let’s tackle the two of the most common leading indicators for (1) acquisition (i.e., new customer growth) and (2) retention (customer lifetime value).
Leading Indicators for Growth: Acquisition
If you’re interested in forecasting your company’s growth rate, dive into your reports and examine of these leading indicators to gain clarity into your business:
(1) Acquisition Source
What channels are your visitors coming from? Email, social (paid and organic), search (paid and organic), referral (e.g., PR), affiliates, influencers, etc. How can you optimize underperforming channels and invest more heavily in your best sources?
To focus your acquisition efforts, identify your top traffic sources and determine which of those lead to the most subscribers and leads. For instance, an offsite display ad may drive the most traffic to your site, but it may not lead to the most subscribers or customers. Conversely, a sweepstakes campaign may lead to more subscribers but ultimately erode your deliverability and engagement.
Examples of Leading Indicators
Subscribes per unique visitor
Subscribes per channel
Subscribes per page
Subscribes per device
Tactics to Increase Acquisition
Pop-up sign-up. For new visitors, pop-up sign-ups, or welcome overlays, are standard fare across the ecommerce world. But that doesn’t mean they have to be bland. Pura Vida Bracelets gamifies their pop-up.
Browsing overlays. Browsing overlays go one or two steps deeper than a welcome overlay. They are contextually driven by the product or collection a new visitor has shown interest in, or they include additional discounts that appear as exit overlays.
Transactional messages. Not all customers who order from you will create an account. For those who don’t, include a call to action in your transactional message (e.g., e-receipt, order confirmation or shipping confirmation) inviting them to subscribe. The incentive could be an additional coupon offer, tips for product use, access to a loyalty program or even a free gift.
(2) Conversion Rates
What are your “sticking points”? Where are visitors dropping out of the funnel? What are your most profitable channels (acquisition sources)?
The goal of engaging your customer is, of course, to convert them from leads to buyers and from one-time purchasers to lifetime customers. What do your conversion rates look like? What are your sticking points? Where are visitors dropping out of the funnel?
By examining where customers are converting – and where they’re not – you can determine where to make adjustments.
Examples of Leading Indicators
Sales by traffic referrer
Product recommendations. Think back to what sets your business apart for consumers. Why do people choose your company or product? What does the data you’ve collected tell you about the purchases shoppers are making – and ones they might make in the future?
Product recommendations help make shoppers feel like you know them – and the more personalized the recommendation, the more likely they are to convert.
Entertainment Magpie provides its 4 million customers with a fast and easy way to trade in their media and tech for cash. Email is a conversion powerhouse for them. Even so, when they compared the results from a standard marketing email with an email with personalized recommendations, they were impressed.
The open rate was 5% higher and the conversion rate almost three times higher than the standard marketing message.
Browse recovery emails. When a consumer browses your website but doesn’t add anything to their shopping cart – or does but fails to check out – it’s such a missed opportunity. But with a browse recovery email, it doesn’t have to be. Using the data you’ve collected about what they were browsing, you can send an email reminding them to come back and hopefully make a purchase.
Based on what you know about your shopper, you can perfectly time your browse recovery email for ultimate impact – and the best chance of conversion.
TTI — the floor care company behind the brands Dirt Devil, Hoover and Oreck — uses a variety of triggered messages and automated workflows to increase customer engagement and conversions. Their goal: Get as much information as possible about their subscribers so they can send messages that are relevant.
Two strategies have played a significant role in their success.
Their browse recovery emails consistently outperform promotional messages, with open rates as much as 150% higher than standard emails and conversion rates up to 60% higher. And their cart recovery messages see conversion rates three to four times higher than standard emails.
Cart recovery emails. Cart abandonment is a challenge for every ecommerce retailer. Sending a cart recovery email won’t just help increase conversions, it’s now an expected part of the customer’s shopping experience.
This email – or series of emails – can be a tantalizing reminder of the products they’ve left behind, a compelling offer, or a suggestion of other products that would pair well with the abandoned items.
ELOQUII is a trailblazer in producing fast fashion designed exclusively in plus sizes. The $18 billion market for plus-size apparel is woefully underserved, but ELOQUII wins customer praise and mentions in fashion magazines for tackling this niche. They use email to help educate, convert and retain customers, and SMS to encourage their most trend-conscious followers to buy hot items before they sell out.
Their Cart Recovery message, which is consistently a top performer in terms of email revenue, has open rates that are 273% higher than standard emails, and conversions are 166% higher.
Leading Indicators for Retention
In the wake of growth, retention rules. Choose one of these leading indicators to keep more buyers and turn them into customers:
(1) Customer Retention Rates
How often do you customers return to order (time period between purchases)? How many average orders do they place before churning? What are your average order sizes?
Examples of Leading Indicators
Customer retention rate
Customer lifetime value
Number of purchases in the past 6–12 months
Post-purchase messages. If you are committed to getting a second order from your customers, post-purchase messages are the best automated tool in your arsenal. They build on the positive customer purchase experience and create an opportunity to promote new products.
(2) Customer Lifetime Value
What segments can you create based on the retention rates above: low-value (high-churn), average-value, and high-value (VIP) customers? How can you target these segments (namely, email marketing)?
For example, if you’ve defined your success metric as sales, you could have a look into what the top 10% of spenders are doing. Separately, have a look at what the most frequent customers are doing.
Then, figure out how you can reverse engineer how people from these groups behave, and get more people taking those same actions. For example, with each group, ask the following questions:
How soon did they make their second purchase after their first purchase?
How many times did they visit your site before they made a purchase?
Were they “reengaged” with retargeting ads?
Were most of them email subscribers? If so, how many emails did they open before making a purchase?
Did they come in through a certain promotion channel? Did they come from an existing customer referral?
Did they use the search bar? What terms did they search for?
Which categories are they buying from?
Did both groups have something in common?
Concentrate on the top tier segments of customers (top and most frequent spenders). From there, diligently work backwards to find trends and patterns that will quantify their behavior and the mix of actions that make sense of their customer journey.
VIP or loyalty programs. Roughly 20% of your customers have the greatest impact on your business. They open your email the most, purchase most often and have the highest AOV.
Keep this audience invested in your brand by giving them what they want. Take a good look at your customer base and the 20% cohort, and try to learn what best motivates them. Is it free shipping? Early access to special sales? Points toward future purchases? Make whatever it is the basis for your program incentives.
Fast-fashion brand Lulus knew its customers wanted to be the first to get the latest fashions. In a vertical that often offers Black Friday deals on the clothes that didn’t sell in the fall, Lulus offered their VIP customers newer, top-selling products at a discount throughout the month of November.
The goal was to double the subscriber list – and they more than doubled it.
In addition, the retailer’s VIP email click rates were above 20%. Email marketing was responsible for 10% of the revenue throughout November and, year-over-year, November revenue was 70% higher.
As Chen writes, “There’s no one-size-fits-all answer here- you need to tailor this based on what makes your product work.”