Top management has approached your marketing team with a report stating the following:
- Revenues from your online store are non-existent
- The number of visitors to your site has been rapidly decreasing since the launch two months ago
- Your two main competitors are present on the main search engines using the popular buzzwords in your industry and your site is buried amongst thousands of results
No matter how many times you read the report, the fact remains your marketing strategy for your online store is not working. It is up to you to examine why. Management has mentioned that it is tired of reading dull S.W.O.T analyses that lack insight, as well as reports produced by software applications that cannot add anything to the numbers they churn out on a daily, weekly or monthly basis.
This article will provide you with a practical approach to analyzing your online presence for short-term and long-term planning purposes for your e-commerce strategy. Instead of applying “the run-of-the-mill” marketing analysis tools, it will examine some important elements that should be included in a successful Website.
- Balance of content
- Search-engine strategy
Balance of Content
As an online marketer, you are responsible to push or pull customers to your Website to buy online. Without the personal interaction that “bricks-and-mortar” stores have to offer, it is up to your Website to lead them though the purchasing process. Content is king, and providing the right amount of information is the key. Too little product / service information will prompt more questions from the customer, and too much will simply create clutter that will bore buyers and lead them astray from completing their online transaction. What is the ideal balance of content and how do you properly assess what is posted and read by interested customers?
Analyze your key selling point. Locate your key selling point within the text of your site. Where is it and what are you telling your customers?
Ideally, your key selling point should be upfront and center on your Website. Customers are constantly faced with promotion clutter while surfing and can be easily confused by the different sales pitches they read from numerous Websites. Websites that are bold enough to state their key selling point on their front page will catch the attention of customers and lead them though the beginning of the online buying process. Companies that tend to bury their key selling point in their Website will be forgotten.
Answer the obvious questions. Information overload can lead to confusion for some potential customers. Does your Website offer too much or too little product information? To answer these questions, consider the following regarding your product and target market:
- Is your product new or revamped to require in-depth explanations?
- How educated is your target market? Do they require “hand holding?”
- Is your target market familiar with similar products on the market?
Along with answering specific customer questions, you can create a page of FAQs to answer inquiries that are likely to be asked about your product. As a result, information regarding the product will be kept at a satisfactory level for all potential consumers.
Search Engine Strategy
Paid or free listings in directories or search engines are key sources of traffic to your Website. To take advantage of the most used search tools, assess your current search-engine strategies by asking:
- How can we properly analyze and evaluate our strategy?
- How can we improve our ranking amongst the results of the top search engines?
How can we properly analyze and evaluate our strategy?
Ignoring the countless number of software applications that can supply you with necessary data to be used in your analysis of your strategy, consider the following pieces of information that can be found online:
Search engine rankings: Check to find your site in the search engines using the keywords to describe your product. Track where you have been placed in comparison to your key competitor.
Links on the Web: Monitoring the number of links leading to your site is key to search-engine strategies. The more links located on the Web, the higher ranking your site will receive on some search engines. To have an idea where links are posted on other sites on the Web, you may consult tools such as Google Webmaster Tools, Majestic SEO, among others.
How can you improve your ranking amongst the results of the top search engines?
It might sound strange but your competitors might be able to help you improve your ranking. Look at the depth and quality of your competitors’ content: how long is the content, what does it contain, how comprehensive is the content. Also look at social signals on the page to see how many times the page has been shared in social media, which is a good indicator of the page’s link ability to generate links.
You can also view and analyze your competitors’ meta tags; then you can use the same or alternative meta tags and keywords to enhance your own keywords strategy. To discover your competitors’ strategy, log on to their Website and right click on your mouse and select, the “View Source” option. You can then see the meta tag strategy of Amazon.com for its online music store. After further reflection, one can see that Amazon has used its brand name, “Amazon.com” as a dominant keyword.
Whether or not visitors make a purchase at your Website, they will always remember their experience surfing through it. Some may find the experience easy while others may find it frustrating due to number of mouse clicks they have to perform before buying. The only way to reduce this barrier to buying is to have a look at your site map and see if there are any possibilities of creating shortcuts. While examining the site map, consider the following:
- Are individuals comfortable surfing through your site? Do they become impatient when they wait for a page to load?
- How many clicks does it take an individual to get the desired page to buy?
- Is it difficult for individuals to find information regarding customer support?
- How long do individuals spend on your site or on a specific page?
In order to gather these facts, you will need to find past focus group reports and Web-user-tracking applications. Live focus groups will give you a fresh outlook on the facts and provide you with an opportunity to receive feedback on any past or current analyses.
Updates can reveal a number of things about your Website and strategy. Here’s what updates can tell your customers and your competitors.
- New product additions to the site shows innovation and product-line growth
- Ability to deal with online glitches that may lead to the loss of thousands of dollars. Your Web design team is pretty strong and flexible to address any glitches that may arise, especially when security problems pop up
- Flexible to modify content at times of an emergency (i.e. out of stock postings, urgent product news notices)
- Constant change in prices for one product signals lack of a pricing strategy
- Changes in the “look and feel” of the site can convey a lack of coordination of the image of the product (s)
In order to minimize the cons presented above, thinking before doing is critical. Ask yourself:
- Is the new update or modification forced by a competitor’s strategy and how will it affect our long-term Website design plan?
- Will the change affect the way repeat visitors navigate our site?
- How much will this modification cost and what’s the expected ROI?
On occasion, traditional analysis tools cannot be applied to assess Website strategies. To properly assess a Website strategy, the Website should be broken down into its different fundamental elements. This article highlighted a few elements that a company should examine when confronted with disappointing results from its e-commerce division. To diagnose your current situation:
- Build a framework that is flexible to examine short-term and long-term problems
- Establish a source of information to be used in a framework to answer specific questions
- Prepare to deal with additional issues that may arise from preliminary analysis
Recommended Books on Website Analysis:
- Web Analytics Action Hero: Using Analysis to Gain Insight and Optimize Your Business
- Web Analytics 2.0: The Art of Online Accountability and Science of Customer Centricity
- Competitive Intelligence: A Framework for Web-based Analysis and Decision Making
- Social Network Analysis for Startups: Finding connections on the social web
- Web Data Mining: Exploring Hyperlinks, Contents, and Usage Data (Data-Centric Systems and Applications)