The rules for the ecommerce change so rapidly that it can be difficult for marketers to keep up. What was best practice five years ago may not get good results today.
Using outdated information might even get your site in big trouble with the search engines.
Unfortunately the internet doesn’t take down information when it’s no longer applicable, so it can be hard to sift through it to find good ideas for current tactics.
So to save you the hassle of wading through pages and pages of outdated data, we’ve collected the must-have best practices for ecommerce marketing in 2016.
Get Serious About Website Security
The past few years have been full of news stories about security breaches and data theft. A successful attack can greatly damage a company’s reputation, or even bring it down completely.
Even small companies have to take the time to improve their site security.
You might think that the chances are small that you’ll be attacked, but it is not worth the chance. A hijacked WordPress site could suddenly become a spam platform. A stolen customer list full of marketing information is useful for unscrupulous spammers and identity thieves.
The problem has gotten so pervasive that Google has taken steps to mark sites that it thinks have been compromised with big warnings, and also to reward sites that use technologies such as SSL to improve security. Google itself has largely moved to SSL throughout its network of websites.
In short, if you want to maintain your good SEO rating, you can’t ignore web security this year. Work with your web development team to ensure that you – and your users — are protected.
Perform an SEO Site Audit
Speaking of SEO, when was the last time you ran an SEO audit on your site? And when was the last time you checked for W3C compliance?
As best practices and standards change, you need to make sure your site is staying up to date and these two audits are great places to start.
SEO is never a “one and done” thing, even for on-page optimization. Over time, links and images can go dead on your site, and you should be reviewing your time on page and click through rate to make sure you’re giving your page the best chance of climbing in the rankings.
You also may not be taking advantage of emerging web features like microcodes and author tags.
At least quarterly you should run a site audit to make sure nothing has slipped.
W3C compliance doesn’t necessarily boost your SEO, but it does ensure your site is as compatible as possible with as many devices as possible and it makes your website easier to index.
Compliant code also makes for a better user experience (UX), which can increase your time on page and therefore improve your rankings.
So, yes, this means you may need to get more involved with your web development department to talk about how you can work together to ensure good W3C-compliant code and deliver a good UX to your audience.
The Need for Website Speed
Website speed is another factor that’s playing an ever-increasing role in SEO, and in conversions as well. According to research from the Aberdeen Group, a 1 second increase in page loading times results in an customer satisfaction drop of 16%!
Speed is especially important for mobile users.
Mobile internet users want information as quickly as possible, so you should make your speed increase there first.
Loading speed is a combination of several factors, including your hosting, the files the page is loading (think big picture files), how many widgets or plugins are installed, and more.
If you’re unsure where to start, you can find an introductory guide to optimizing webpage speed from Kinsta.
Blogs Are Still Good For Ecommerce…
Content is still king and blogs haven’t gone the way of the dodo because users have become accustomed to marketing that speaks to their needs and solves their problems.
Content marketing is still a very important part of ecommerce marketing and the usual best practices still apply:
- Post consistently to the blog at least once a week. It is better to stay consistent than to post more. Brainstorm an editorial calendar for topic ideas.
- Ensure your posts use good SEO practices. Your keywords shouldn’t saturate more than 1.5% of the actual article content.
- Use header tags and title tags to help Google discover your keywords instead.
- Don’t skimp on the images (or the alt tags.)
- Make your blog posts interesting to read for your niche, just like any good copy.
…But Sharing is Better
While blog posts are great content marketing collateral, a whole tackle box of techniques have come up to get those posts the attention they need.
Social media and guest posting are the primary ways of getting your articles and calls-to-action in front of more eyeballs. If you aren’t marketing your articles on social media and making connections with other bloggers through guest posts, you’re missing out on a lot of your audience.
Nearly every business can gain a marketing boost from a social media strategy; even a stodgy B2B business can use LinkedIn.
Not every marketer may find guest posts as useful.
Guest posts are a great strategy for small niches where there is enough audience interest or size that you can spread marketing capital around to help each other out.
Larger companies that don’t want a close connection with their competition may instead wish to submit articles to industry news sites or large blog networks like HuffPo to get a similar effect.
Is Your Ecommerce Mobile Yet?
If you’ve been putting off getting your site mobile-ready, pick up your smartphone or tablet (preferably both) and try to use your site. Try to reach as many pages as you can and use as many features as you can. How was the checkout experience? Did it feel smooth or did you want to throw your device against the wall?
There is no excuse anymore to avoid building a mobile site. At the very least, use a responsive theme in your CMS to avoid user frustrations. Better still, work with your web team to develop a mobile-friendly site that is separate from your core one.
As consumers continue to shed desktops and laptops in favor of tablets and smartphones, we bet within a decade’s time it’ll be those users who need special handling for their ancient devices. Get ahead of the curve now.
Start Your Ecommerce Marketing Year Off Right
Ecommerce marketing is an exciting, challenging, and fluid field to work in. A little bit of IT, a little bit of marketing, and a whole lot of staying on top of the latest trends.
Take these basics to heart and you’ll be off on the right foot for 2016.
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