The Polished Geek Blog
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Has Your eCommerce Store Hit the Dreaded Plateau?

ecommerce-dreaded-plateau

Maybe this year you’ve been forced to sell products and services solely online, like many businesses. Yet somehow, you're not seeing the big increase in online sales being reported in the news.

Maybe, despite your best efforts and an overall increase in online consumer spending, your small business has been unable to grow beyond its sales plateau.

So you're ready to do what it takes to keep your brand growing. It’s time to look outside the walls of your store to make it happen.

 

You Don't Have to Do It Alone

It's tough to handle eCommerce marketing when your in-house web support was one of the many cutbacks you had to make this year. Or maybe you never had an in-house web management team and hesitate to hire additional employees in today's economy.

So just how do you manage critical digital marketing tasks when you have a small team, one that is already working flat out every day, just trying to keep up?

Thankfully, there are ways to outsource your eCommerce marketing that make fiscal sense and won’t break the bank. Ecommerce marketing agencies can help you bridge the gap between how much you need to get done and how many resources you can rely upon to achieve it.

Changing direction isn’t easy. But with the right roadmap and the right marketing agency partner, you can drive your business out of the sales plateau and handle future growth.

 

First, Look Over Your Web Analytics

To determine the best way forward, you need to figure out exactly where your business’s website falls short.

If you’re using an established eCommerce platform like Shopify, WooCommerce, or Joomla-based HikaShop, then there’s less guesswork involved. You have access to a wealth of data to analyze.

The easiest way to find problem spots in your eCommerce site is to start by looking at the average metrics through each year, then segmenting your data to uncover signs of lower conversion by channel, device type, marketing campaign and more.

You should be able to answer the following questions when examining your eCommerce analytics:

Is your plateau primarily a traffic problem, where you aren't attracting enough new website visitors to your site?

Or once visitors are on your site, do you primarily have a problem converting web traffic to sales?

Once you know whether traffic or conversion is your priority to improve first, you can get more specific with your marketing strategy. With an eye on your primary goal, you will be in a better position to amp up your eCommerce marketing, improve your SEO, and audit your landing pages for potential improvements.

If you use a hosted eCommerce platform like Shopify, and you don't have the data you need, take a look at which monthly plan you’re on. Basic starter accounts may have minimal data. You may want to upgrade to Shopify Plus or install a specialized web analytics app to access more actionable data. Or better yet, have a web agency set up Enhanced Ecommerce Google Analytics for your store.

However, don’t feel overwhelmed if the analytical part of eCommerce isn’t making sense. It can be complicated! There are professional agencies that specialize in optimizing eCommerce stores and maintaining them long-term as a dedicated team. Digital marketing professionals can work with you to analyze problem areas, assess your marketing goals, and then take the reins on marketing your store and products, so you can get back to running your business.

 

Ensure You Have Proper Website Maintenance

As tempting as it is to let your brand speak for itself, owning a successful eCommerce store requires patience, care, and a lot of hands-on work.

If your business can’t quickly adjust to the needs and demands of your customers, you might find yourself moving from sitting on that plateau to sliding downhill. Part of what keeps your business nimble is ongoing website maintenance.

In-house web support teams that can handle everything from hosting to marketing integration can be expensive. Managing the day-to-day operations of your site could be a dedicated job in and of itself. If you can’t afford a team in-house, and you are too busy running your business to also take on the website management, don’t fret.

You know being your own boss or the top marketing executive at your company doesn’t mean doing everything yourself. Don’t be afraid to contract work to website maintenance professionals if you're missing that expertise on your team. Your investment will go farther with an external, dedicated team at your disposal than with precious hours wasted on your end. Delegate and conquer.

The benefit of eCommerce marketing agencies is primarily that they deeply understand the world of selling online. The best agencies aren’t just “on call”, they are an active member of your team, providing weekly insight towards change and improvement and helping you execute your vision with swift action and detailed results.

This is a collaborative industry where eCommerce management agencies brainstorm with you to find solutions to jump start flat sales or a stagnant webstore, and can help you improve your underutilized data analytics tools.

A great eCommerce website management agency is worth its weight in gold. They fill multiple roles that you would need to hire individually for otherwise and maintain their own accountability to further take the burden off of your shoulders. It’s a solid investment and the expertise can be vital in getting your business on the right track.

 

Consider New Marketing Strategy Shifts

One of the most important reasons that eCommerce plateaus become outright sales losses is the result of the sunk cost fallacy. It’s our nature as human beings to hesitate to abandon our current course, even if it's not working as well as we'd like.

You may feel that although changing your marketing could potentially improve your business in the long run, it would be like "throwing away" all the time and money invested in your current (less than ideal) marketing approach.

By not shifting gears to more productive use of your time swiftly, you’re only continuing on the wrong road. A road that will waste more time and potentially far more money in the future.

Working with an eCommerce marketing agency, you'll get expert guidance on what parts of your marketing strategy are working well and should be kept as-is, which parts can be improved, plus insights into what's missing from your current approach.

If you’re finding it hard to let go, consider getting a fresh set of eyes on your marketing plan. As experts in their field, professional marketing consultants will be able to guide you away from harmful marketing practices towards strategies that have been proven to work. It's normal to be too close to your own business to be objective about it, and the right marketing team can help you past any blind spots.

 

Step Up Your SEO

Using eCommerce SEO (search engine optimization) is like sailing a boat in an ocean. You can either ride the wind to where you want to go...or sit dead in the water.

With so many businesses moving online, it’s more important than ever to have an SEO strategy.

Think about it...When you search for a product using Google, how often do you move past the first page of results?

Without a solid eCommerce SEO strategy, your site won’t be shown to potential customers, which is devastating for driving traffic. By making your business Google friendly, you have a much higher chance of appearing on the first page and getting exponentially more eyes on your products and services.

However, this isn’t a simple one and done process.

You’ll need to constantly monitor your search engine rankings because Google changes its algorithm almost constantly. Don’t get frustrated if you can’t master it; many professionals struggle to perfect their SEO strategy.

Although this is one of the primary reasons why businesses hire eCommerce marketing agencies, it’s certainly not impossible to figure out on your own.

When in doubt, figure the high-value topics out first, but don’t flounder if it’s not your specialty. Unless you yourself are an SEO specialist, you’ll likely want to outsource this element of your marketing strategy and focus on the elements of your business that you are specialized in.

 

Content Marketing

Google will help get eyes on your site, but it’s the eCommerce content marketing that will get their wallets. If you’re having trouble convincing customers to buy your product, there are a few ways to make your content more appealing and marketable.

A dedicated landing page is a great resource for getting views for your flagship product. You can reach specific customers this way, offering them one service or product rather than hoping they will wander through your website and find what they need.

Your landing page should answer three questions: the “What”, Why’, and “How” of your product. With excellent graphics, perhaps video, and customer testimonials, your SEO will have a fighting chance to rank for that product. A dedicated product landing page can also improve your conversions, as more of your visitors will be able to answer “Why do I need this right now?”

 

Ecommerce Email Marketing

Email marketing is another key tool in your arsenal. Implementing or improving your marketing automation can take your site to the next level, past that plateau.

For example, send an email when the customer leaves without checking out, to entice them back and land the sale (also known as an abandoned cart email sequence). Offer special deals by email if someone is a frequently returning visitor but hasn't bought recently.

Email marketing keeps an open conversation going with the customer, even when they aren't on your site.

If you think email marketing is a thing of the past, it may surprise you to know that email marketing automation is one of the highest ROI (return on investment) marketing activities you can do for your eCommerce store. Industry studies and analytics continue to prove email works to increase sales, year after year. Don’t ignore the opportunities for email automation.

Email ROI compared to other digital marketing (Neil Patel graph)

 

Beyond the Plateau

With so much information flooding our inboxes and social media feeds every day about what makes a good eCommerce website, it’s unsurprising that many business owners choose to do keep the status quo. It can seem overwhelming to decide which direction to go. However, that can spell doom for your brand.

Don't let overwhelm and marketing confusion about what to do next make you sit by while your webstore's sales plateau. By pinpointing problem areas with data and research, and taking steps to embrace new marketing tactics, you can swiftly get your Shopify, Hikashop, WooCommerce, or custom eCommerce website back on track.

What steps will you take to move beyond the plateau?

 

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