From Pretty to Profitable: 4 Must-Have Ecommerce Tools
If there’s one thing that most online shop owners agree on, it’s that the right tools can get your ecommerce business off the ground sooner than you can say… expedited shipping. In order for your store to be profitable and not just pretty-looking, you have to be smart about the marketing strategy and SaaS you use to manage the day-to-day.
That’s why we’ve prepared a list of 4 things you’re definitely going to need even before you launch your business. You can postpone numbers 2 and 3, but our advice is to at least consider them and have a plan to tackle them sooner rather than later. So, here it goes…
1. SEO and Visibility
Once you’ve decided on a platform for your website, it’s time to think about traffic. There are many tools that can help you boost visitor numbers on your ecommerce website. We’ll talk about social media and email marketing next, but making your website visible in search results should take priority.
Therefore, one of the most powerful tools you can have on your website is Google Webmaster. It’s now called Google Search Console and it’s totally free. Once installed (get help with installation), Google Webmaster helps you evaluate your website’s performance in search results. It also provides suggestions for improvement.
In addition, it can identify what drives the most traffic to your website and how your website performs on mobile devices. Then, it can tell you what websites are linking to yours and what your most popular content is. It can also help you detect malware and spam. Lots of useful features!
We talk more about visibility and good quality content in this blog post that might interest you.
2. Marketing Channels: Email & Social Media
The second most important tools for ecommerce are your marketing channels: social media, email and advertising. It’s through a combination of these channels that you get your message out to as many people as possible and reach your target customers.
The choice of social media platform depends on your ideal customer profile. Consider where they hang out and meet them there. We have an entire blog post dedicated to strengthening your social media marketing. You should probably check it out if you want to know more about defining marketing objectives.
In general, a good marketing strategy combines a powerful social media presence (creating and posting useful, quality content) with a smart social media advertising strategy and a carefully-crafted email marketing plan.
In other words, attract with advertising, engage with social media and sell with email.
Facebook and Instagram Ads
These platforms are still at the top of social media advertising. They’re easy to integrate, affordable and a good choice for beginners. With Facebook, you can create multiple campaigns focused on different objectives and target consumers. Design and write the ad, choose your objectives, your demographics and your budget… and you’re done.
There’s a lot of info online about how to create and run ads on Facebook and Instagram, so we won’t get into that. But if you ever need help integrating widgets, counters or social media feeds into your website, get in touch. A NerdPilots dev will help you out in no time.
As you probably know, Google is the largest search platform, so running an ad on Google is a smart choice, especially for ecommerce and service-based businesses. Also, if your SEO isn’t placing you on the first page of Google search results yet, running ads can help. You’ll pay your way to the top of the page in the sponsored section.
Creating and targeting an ad on Google is not as easy or as cheap as on Facebook. It is, however, totally worth it if you do it right. That’s why you should consider getting a PPC expert to plan and execute your Google Ads campaigns. Why? So you don’t waste money on ads that don’t get you any leads.
3. Affiliate and Referral Programs
Affiliate and referral programs are very useful ecommerce tools, but not necessarily ones you should start with. Nevertheless, you should consider all options when you create your initial business and marketing plans. That’s why we’ve included them in our list of tools for ecommerce businesses.
To run your affiliate program and reach a variety of publishers, you can rely on an affiliate network like Commission Junction, Rakuten Marketing, ShareASale and many others. The best part about affiliate marketing is that you get to reach a variety of consumers through other people’s websites, but you will pay commission only when you make a sale. Pretty neat!
Referral marketing can be quite lucrative especially when you’re starting your ecommerce business. If you’re confident enough in your products, you can turn your customers into your very own brand promoters. Basically, you give them gifts every time they refer someone to your website and that person buys something.
Use platforms like ReferralCandy, InviteReferrals or Viral Loops to manage your referral campaigns with ease.
The benefits of affiliate and referral programs are not always instant. But, if you’re willing to put in the time, you could end up with a loyal customer base that loves your brand and will do some of your marketing for you.
4. Amazing Customer Service
The last and possibly most important aspect of running an ecommerce business is customer service. And we don’t mean just the way you talk to people on the phone or how polite your emails are. Everything from useful product descriptions, to easy shop navigation, to payment options and delivery are part of good customer service.
We might as well say it: if you don’t give your customers a great shopping experience, you’re doing yourself a disservice by advertising and bringing people to your website. They’ll click, they’ll see, they’ll get bored/annoyed/angry and they’ll leave. You’ll lose money on ads that never deliver enough sales and on top of it, you’ll also get bad reviews which will make it harder to build or win back a good reputation.
The good news is that when you use platforms like Shopify and BigCommerce, most of the tools necessary for a great shopping experience are included in the package. For WooCommerce and Magento you have to integrate them yourself. But that shouldn’t be a problem, as long as you have a dependable developer to discuss your plans with and devise an excellent UX strategy.
One last thing: you might want to check out Freshsale and Nimble if you’re looking to micromanage your customers. They’re 2 fully-integrated customer-support tools that help you track customer journeys, follow all your interactions with your customers and devise perfectly-tailored marketing strategies for them. Worth considering.
There are countless more tools your ecommerce business could benefit from, including social media management tools, SaaS, more CRM options, email marketing platforms and even popups and loyalty campaigns, but listing them all here would not help anyone. Instead, you should be thinking about what you’re selling, what your objectives are, and then finding the tools that help you achieve YOUR objectives.
If you ever need help figuring out what your ecommerce website needs or how to integrate/customize tools and services, get in touch. You’ll get answers faster by talking to us than by googling other people’s opinions. And we promise we won’t charge you anything for the initial consultation.