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Insights & Resources for Shopify Store Owners

Shopify Conversion Rate Optimization: 25 Ideas to Boost Revenue

by Kurt Elster

There's two ways to grow your Shopify store's revenue:

  1. You can get more traffic which will turn into more revenue,
  2. or you can optimize your store to turn more of your current visitors into buyers.

By focusing on the latter, boosting conversion rate, we're going to lay a groundwork to get the highest possible ROI out of any efforts to drive traffic to our store.

When we talk about conversion rate optimization, we're really looking to make our site is easy and frictionless as possible to buy from. We need to start thinking with our lizard brains and remove any and all barriers to checkout as possible. Based on the past six stores we've looked at this week, here are 25 ideas on how you may improve your store.

Homepage

  • Choose your carousel images wisely. 9 out of 10 people will only see the first slide. Don’t assume that people will click the carousel pagination to see the other images.
  • Add a call-to-action for every carousel image. At the very least, add a label or some copy that frames the image appropriately.
  • Call out free shipping if you offer it. If you don't offer free shipping, try it.
  • Make lifestyle shots relevant to your shoppers. Is this how your customers see themselves? Think about their usage, not your product lines.
  • Make sure navigation items are easily understood. Make sure that you’re using appropriate language and labeling so the widest possible audience can understand it.
  • Have a primary point of focus on your homepage. Above the fold, there may be too many things competing for attention — is it awards? Is it authority signals (“30,000 customers”, “2000 products”, etc) or is it the product lines? If you’d like to improve conversions on your homepage, sometimes removing things is a great place to start.
  • Make links look like links. Often links are styled like normal text, so the visitor wouldn’t know to click them.
  • Include press mention logos. If you get quoted or featured in the media, show it off! These make excellent trust indicators.
  • Optimize your email list calls-to-action. Make sure you’re using smart copy on your email form at the bottom of the page, don’t just use “Join our mailing list” — tell them why and what benefit they’ll receive by subscribing.
  • Remove redundant social network buttons. You’re potentially distracting shoppers here, with very little value. They’re in shopping mode, but you’re basically asking them to stop doing that in order to follow you on Twitter, or go to Facebook, or watch your videos on YouTube.In general, you can help your conversions by reducing the amount of distractions and keeping the shopper focused on the buying experience.

Cart

  • Decide on one primary call-to-action. “Update Cart” and “Check Out” have the same visual weight; ideally, “Check Out” should stand out more than “Update Cart.”
  • Consider removing “Special Instructions” text box. It’s unclear what action you want the shopper to take here and whether it’s a necessary step before check out. What value does this add to the experience?
  • Reduce the number of logos around the Checkout button. Shoppers may find the credit card options distracting. If you insist on having them there, consider putting them in grayscale.

Checkout

  • Upgrade to Shopify’s responsive checkout. This will boost conversions, especially as mobile usage in ecommerce continues to increase.
  • Add a logo. The rest of your site may have great branding, and we can keep it consistent through checkout by adding your logo at the top. It’s easy to do and preserves the shopping experience.

Product page

  • Consider bundling similar products. Let's say you sell a widget in six different colors and three different sizes. Rather than list 18 different products, list one product with options.
  • Try long form product descriptions. Bonus points for including a narrative that reflects your brand’s story.
  • Remove share buttons. They typically just distract the shopper from their buying experience, and you’re unlikely to generate significant traffic from them. What’s worse, is that it has negative social proof if most of your pages have zero “Likes” — subconsciously, it may tell the shoppers that nobody likes the item.
  • Don’t rely on tabs for information display. Assume that less than half of people will click those tabs, so don’t put critical information in them.
  • Add lifestyle shots. Beyond just white background product photos, try showing a selection of lifestyle shots showing the product in use.
  • Remove redundant options. Some themes will display product options when only one option is available; if possible, remove the option to select. Reducing friction and the number of clicks is always a reliable strategy to increase conversions.
  • Show shipping and return information. This is a great “objection buster” and preemptively answers a key question for shoppers.
  • Add narrative to your product copy. Often product details are displayed in a very stark, “clinical” way — simply stating facts and figures about the product. There’s a huge opportunity here to tell a story and really give some emotion to the item. Sell the benefit. Sell the sizzle, not the steak. A classic example but extreme example is the J Peterman catalog.

Conversion rate optimization is the ideal way to stop leaving money on the table and streamline your Shopify store into a sales-producing machine. When you identify and fix weaknesses in your site, it will promote trust with customers which will leads to sweet, sweet sales.

Responsive is Everything: 2014 Ecommerce Holiday Data

by Kurt Elster

2014 Holiday Ecommerce Statistics

Responsive is everything. That’s what our data from last weekend’s shopping seasons is saying.

For U.S. retailers, the weekend after Thanksgiving is the traditional bellwether of sales. That’s when consumers have their wallets out and are ready to buy anywhere they go.

As part of our on-boarding process, we ask our clients to give us access to their Google Analytics data. While this step is optional, it lets us gain further insights in to clients’ traffic and develop theories on how they can grow traffic and revenue.

When comparing Total Mobile vs. Desktop Visits, it’s effectively a 50/50 split.

We looked at data from our top 20 performing ecommerce clients (mostly on the Shopify platform) from 11/28 through 12/1. Of the 41K visitors in our sample, we saw 49.54% of traffic coming from mobile (33.01% from mobile phones, 16.53% from tablets) and just 50.46% from traditional computers. By comparison, mobile was 40.1% of traffic for the same period last year. That's a big leap for this year.

Let’s dive a little deeper into that data and see what other interesting findings we can dig up—

Most mobile traffic is on an Apple device.
iOS takes a whopping 74.43% of traffic, Android gets 23.2%. While Android devices outsell iOS devices, it would seem they get used less. But what about the remaining 2.37%? It consists mainly of Windows Phone and Blackberry, as well as some embedded devices like game consoles.

How does device usage affect conversion rate?
Conversion rates are typically best on desktop, second best on tablet, and poorest on mobile regardless of whether or not a site is responsive. However, sites that are responsive often performed twice as well across all devices including desktop.

Mobile strategy consultant Jonathan Stark suggests, "The other thing that's probably hidden in the numbers is that people search for stuff on their mobile and then make the purchase on their desktop which would explain why responsive sites do better across-the-board." While we can't yet track sessions across devices to prove this theory, we're inclined to agree.

Average conversion rate for non-responsive sites:

  • Desktop: 2.61%
  • Tablet: 1.56%
  • Mobile: 0.83%

Average conversion rate for responsive sites:

  • Desktop: 4.42%
  • Tablet: 3.10%
  • Mobile: 2.10%

How about the top ten devices?
Things get a little fuzzy here. Apple devices report themselves without specifics. All iPhones and iPads report themselves as a single respective device. This hides fragmentation and pushes them to the top of the list. Where as Android phones proudly report their branding, so it’s easy to tease out specific devices.

  1. Apple iPhone (all)
  2. Apple iPad (all)
  3. Samsung Galaxy S5
  4. Samsung Galaxy S4
  5. Samsung Galaxy Note 3
  6. Samsung Galaxy S3
  7. Samsung Galaxy Tab 3
  8. Motorola Droid Ultra
  9. HTC One
  10. Samsung Galaxy Note 2

What’s interesting here is the range of screen sizes and resolutions represented. A developer can no longer make a breakpoint at 320 and 768 and claim a site is responsive.

So what?
The rapid adoption of mobile means that any site not taking a mobile-first approach isn’t just leaking money, it’s hemorrhaging it. If the distribution is an even 50/50 split this year, we can expect mobile to overtake desktop next year. Anecdotally, one of the stores in our dataset already had 65% users on mobile.

What you need to do:
  1. Accept that mobile is everything.
  2. Ensure your site is fully fluid. If you resize your desktop window, it should work at every resolution, not just a few breakpoints.
  3. Make sure your website loads in four seconds or less on cellular data connections. (Remember, the US has some of the slowest data speeds in the world.)
  4. Have someone not familiar with your site attempt to find and purchase a product and watch over their shoulder to find usability problems.

Help!
We’re available to help identify and fix these issues for your Shopify store. We're one of the higest-rated Shopify experts.

How To Kill it With Ecommerce Content Marketing [Podcast]

by Kurt Elster

Have you ever wondered how some ecommerce stores become known as the go-to guys for a particular niche? They'll sell the same products at the same prices as their competition, but somehow they're always top of mind when it comes to their niche. It's not through SEO wizardry, or fancy campaigns, it's actually a misunderstand tactic called content marketing. You know that blog you haven't updated in six months? That's typically what people think of with content marketing. We don't blame you, creating content is tough work.

Fortunately, it doesn't have to be hard. We talked with Philip Morgan of My Content Sherpa and he laid it all out for us:

  1. Why you shouldn't call it a blog
  2. How to focus your blog
  3. The content you're probably wasting your time on
  4. Why it's okay to repurpose content
  5. And some easy strategies for creating great content (sometimes without even writing)

One of the best investments you can make in your long-term success is authority, which brings customers to you. Listen and learn how.

Going International As A Small Business: How Globalization Is Changing The Face Of The SMB Landscape

by Kurt Elster

This is a guest blog post by Owen Andrew, an ecommerce journalist.

Before ecommerce became a borderline necessity for doing business in the majority of verticals, small business owners and their employees were limited to doing to their marketing in mostly localized ways.

A sign in front of the store, in-store signage and front window displays, and perhaps an ad in the city’s newspaper or phonebook; if they were lucky, perhaps a regional or even national publication may write them if their story or products were particularly compelling.

How Globalization Affects SMBs

However, now most businesses can easily and nearly seamlessly access the other side of the world through technology. Ecommerce is thriving in places like India, Russia, China, Brazil, and more; and mobile is quickly taking hold as well thanks to the increasingly widespread availability (and relatively affordability) of high end smart phones.

One could say that mobile is changing ecommerce in similar way to how ecommerce altered brick and mortar retail - so SMBs owe it to themselves to learn the technology and understand which ecommerce portals are the most effective for their market.

Empowerment Via Technology And Careful Research

In fact, mobile commerce (or m-commerce) is becoming the standard everywhere, and executing it successfully can set a small business marketer apart from larger competitors. People around the world generally want to make purchases in the way that is easiest and most cost-effective for them - and via a localized interface they already use and understand.

Therefore, doing your research on the digital habits of your audience is key - different cultures and countries use the internet in very different ways, so what is basic or intuitive to you might be completely foreign in another country, and vice versa.

And it is not all about mobile or even the common marketing tactics like paid search, Facebook, and more. Think outside of the typical big names (especially the ones popular in the U.S. or your home country) and try niche networks specific to each target audience or location. An added bonus? Smaller platforms and markets can lead to easier, more budget-friendly market entry - which is nearly always a positive.

Downsides Of Globalization

Supply-chain management, customizing products and marketing campaigns to suit the idiosyncrasies of each target market, and determining how to send and receive funds can all present challenges for SMB marketers. Currency rates and local/country-specific taxes can also present problems - but all of these have solutions that can be less complex and costly than you think.

Knowing when the key holiday seasons are along with any special dates or events, and preparing your ecommerce site is essential as well. Lastly, what people tend to purchase when is important as well - especially for business owners who sell across hemispheres or to widely different cultures.

Understanding Your (New) Global Business

Lastly, understand the types of devices (even brands and models) and optimize your global strategy accordingly, along with your analytics so you can enable precise tracking for your global audience - but this advice applies to SMB ecommerce overall!

At the end of the day, many of the difficulties of globalization can be combated through strategic deployment of SMB-centric technologies. Even better, the sheer variety of possibilities for ecommerce and mobile commerce growth are growing every day, making it an important aspect of growing your small business internationally.


Author Bio: Owen Andrew is an eCommerce journalist who spends free time studying online marketing practices and attending EDM concerts. He hopes you enjoy this post, and would like to thank ethercycle.com for hosting him!"

How The Kewl Shop Stays Competitive

by Kurt Elster

I talked with Charles Fitzgerald about his Shopify store, The Kewl Shop, and came away with loads of actionable insight.

Started in late 2012, The Kewl Shop have quickly grown to become one of the top 150K web sites in the world. Founded by Charles, their focus has narrowed into the supply of top quality bandage dresses, shoes and leggings– areas of immense competition in the online world.

So how do they stay ahead of their competition in an a fiercely competitive niche? Listen and find out. :)

What Your eCommerce Business NEEDS to Know Before Holiday Season

by Kurt Elster

This is a guest blog post by Owen Andrew, an ecommerce journalist.

Over the last few years, it seems that stores have their Halloween decorations on display before you've even had your Labor Day barbecue. By the time September comes to a close, candy canes, snow globes and red and green M&Ms can be found on the shelves.

Retailers now spend months preparing for the holiday rush, and although procrastinating consumers can ignore them and wait all the way until Christmas Eve if they choose, eCommerce businesses don't have the same luxury.

Whether you know it or not, your entire business may depend on its performance during the holiday season. As discussed in the article "What Your Startup Needs to Know to Get Through the Holiday Season," your first step to success must be an attitude adjustment. You have to embrace the holiday shopping season no matter what your personal feelings, and you absolutely can't afford to treat it as business as usual.

It's coming. Have a plan.

Black Friday, Cyber Monday and the Fading Online/Retail Line

Black Friday is the traditional launch of the holiday shopping season for brick-and-mortar retailers. In 2005, the term Cyber Monday was coined after analysts noticed a spike in online shopping sales the following Monday. Research gleaned from 2013, however, indicates that those divisions may no longer be as concrete.

Three percent of previous Black Friday shoppers stayed home last year, leading to a 3 percent ($1.7 billion) decrease in physical sales. A record 66 million people, however, shopped online — not on Cyber Monday like they were supposed to, but on Black Friday. In fact, Black Friday was the season's first billion-dollar-plus online shopping day, raking in $1.2 billion when the dust settled.

What does all this mean for your website? Your success depends first on breaking out of the traditional mindset that Black Friday is for the wild masses pushing and shoving and occasionally trampling each other to death at the mall, and that the following Monday is for online shopping. Waiting for Monday means big-time losses. Pretend you're KMart — you're on deck as soon as the turkey leftovers are put in the fridge.

eCommerce is Mobile Commerce

Recent research proves what you already should know — mobile sales dominate more and more of the online market every year. This is never more so than during the holiday season. If you don't have a strong mobile presence, now is the time to establish one. In 2013, mobile sales jumped an astounding 55 percent from the year before. 12.7 percent of all online sales came from tablets and 5.6 percent came from phones.

  • Utilize responsive web design (RWD) or some other strategy to make sure that your awesome website looks equally awesome on mobile devices.
  • Revisit your social-media marketing strategy — social media drove $148 million in sales last year between Black Friday and Cyber Monday alone.
  • Make a final push! Push notifications increased 77 percent between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday.

Other Actions to Take this Fall

Forbes reminds us that the busy holiday season is the perfect time to institute or revamp a stellar search-engine optimization (SEO) campaign as well an equally amazing pay-per click (PPC) strategy. SEO and PPC are complicated concepts that require research, investment and action. But if you're uncertain about the brawn of either when it comes to your website, don't wait until Thanksgiving to move.

As Kurt Elster illustrates in his "12 Days of Ecommerce," the simplest, yet most effective ways to prepare for the rush is to create a holiday-themed landing page. This serves three functions: it boosts the chance of your site being found through an organic search, it builds anticipation for sales and promotions and it makes your site more likely to be shared.

If you sell online, the holiday season is massively important to you, whether you like it — or know it — or not. Between 20 and 40 percent of all annual purchases happen between Thanksgiving and Christmas. The time when most of the money changes hands is right around the corner — give yourself the gift of preparation.


Author Bio: Owen Andrew is an eCommerce journalist who spends free time studying online marketing practices and attending EDM concerts. He hopes you enjoy this post, and would like to thank ethercycle.com for hosting him!"

Down the Rabbit Trails: Demystifying the Conversion Funnel & Your Customers

by Kurt Elster

This is a guest blog post by Owen Andrew, an ecommerce journalist.

The conversion funnel may as well be a great unsolved mystery to many businesses. They know they want to get their customers to the end of the funnel (a sale) like everyone else. What they don’t know is the steps along the way that lead a customer down that path of having no knowledge or interest in a product right to the cash register to purchase it.

These businesses have no understanding of how to hook their potential customers at the various points along that funnel as a result, and it’s greatly limiting their effectiveness in appealing to those customers in a meaningful way.

The first step to removing the shroud of mystery that cloaks the funnel is to understand each of the steps along the way. These are the same for virtually any business and customer, and are therefore relevant to every business owner and marketer.

For the purpose of our analysis, let’s create a business together. Let’s keep it simple and start an online T-Shirt retailer, which is an infinitely present niche with theories applicable to other niches.

So what about those steps along the way, and how do they apply to our new business? Adria Saracino breaks it down in her Kill It in Content Creation piece for Distilled.net in five steps:

  • Discovery – This is the very first step towards landing a potential new customer, one that has just discovered a specific product or service for the first time. Depending on the niche, this customer may be very rare or, perhaps even non-existent. In our case, our customer knows he or she wants a T-shirt, we just either A) need to offer a design or theme not offered elsewhere, or B) need to convince our prospective customer they should purchase with us instead of a behemoth retailer. As Richard Lazazzera puts it in his article on starting a T-shirt business, ever-slimming margins means you need to get your conversion funnel gameplan correct from the get go.
  • Interest – The next step is their developing interest in that product or service as something that could be of worth to them. At this stage they are still not committing to purchasing anything from anyone in particular, but are broadly interested in the idea as a whole. Again, with our T-shirts, we need to offer something on our site that no one else is offering. Even the subtlest difference can give us the upper hand.
  • Conversion – This is the stage where they’re transitioning from mere interest into a full-blown desire to purchase the product or service, and are now researching brands and comparing offers and prices. Even if they were led to this point by one company, this is where they could go astray and be poached by the competition, making it the single most important step in the process, and one that should be researched thoroughly.
  • Purchase – The purchase. That glorious moment when the previous steps have led a customer to invest both their money and their trust in a product.
  • Loyalty – As you can see, the purchase is not in fact the last step. Maintaining the loyalty of those purchasers is, and that is accomplished through honoring their trust with a quality product, exemplary support, and rewards for that loyalty. If we continue to have reliable delivery times, consistently updated T-shirt options and great customer service, why wouldn’t this sale come back for more?

Avoiding the Rabbit Trails and Building a Superhighway from Discovery to Loyalty

Now comes the tricky and fun part; crafting an all-encompassing marketing strategy that deftly finds your customers at one of the early stages of their purchasing journey, and guides them firmly but lovingly through the funnel and out the other side as a newly loyal customer.

This begins by determining where best to find those customers that could have interest in a specific niche, but have yet to hear about it or put much thought into it. Depending on the niche this may be quite difficult or readily apparent. A prime directive should be to determine the likes and dislikes of the existing customers of that product. These same tastes will likely translate to other potential customers as well, providing insight into where they are likely to be found or not.

Actually reaching out them can be accomplished through methods such as host-beneficiary relationships, whereby a partnership is formed with a leading figure in one of those industries that are generally liked by the target audience.

From there it’s a matter of building upon the established interest and pushing them towards a purchase by offering incentives and regular updates on how good the product is and how much they need it. This can be accomplished in tandem through a combination of social media, e-mail campaigns, and webinars.

Lastly, ensure you have a proper reception waiting for them on the other side of the funnel by thanking them for their business and offering them loyalty rewards and bonuses for remaining a customer.

With this, you turn browsers into buyers.


Author Bio: Owen Andrew is an eCommerce journalist who spends free time studying online marketing practices and attending EDM concerts. He hopes you enjoy this post, and would like to thank ethercycle.com for hosting him!"

12 Days of Ecommerce: How to Prep Your Shopify Store for Black Friday

by Kurt Elster

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The Christmas holidays are a stressful time. Your in-laws fly in for a long visit, the weather is lousy, you spend more than you anticipated on gifts, and you can feel yourself coming down with a cold.

For 72 hours or more, your life turns into a bad sitcom.

Now imagine you’re a retailer. On top of the personal drama, you’re facing a single day that may make or break your entire fiscal year: Black Friday. That’s actually why it’s called Black Friday. It’s the day that a retailer’s books go from red (operating at a loss) to black (operating at a profit).

Retail storeowners are motivated by two things: earning money from their store and reducing their risk. With the holidays around the corner, a retailer wants to be prepared to make the most out of Black Friday with the highest degree of success – and the lowest degree of stress. So tackling a full-site redesign in October is probably out of the question. While it might work, it’s too risky.

Instead of gearing up for a huge project, let’s focus on 12 quick wins that you can implement to prep any store owner for Black Friday and the holidays. In this case, we’re going to define "quick win" as anything a Shopify Expert can achieve in a day for their client.

Before Black Friday

Day 1: Build Their List

It's important to build excitement before Black Friday. Merchants should promote it on site for customers in advance, and drive email signups to a newsletter. I’d use a pop-up window to invite customers to join. Be specific about why they should join by focusing on benefits. Say something like, “Join us as we share incredible Black Friday deals, exclusive finds, and holiday survival tips.” I’ve made this step 1, because the sooner they start collecting emails, the bigger their list will be.

Day 2: Conversion Rate Optimization

While we probably don’t have time for A/B Testing, you can still look for conversion optimization quick wins. In the store’s Shopify dashboard, check the Website Conversions section. Where are customers abandoning? Look for problems, apply best practices, and make educated fixes. For example, I bumped a Shopify client’s conversion rate 133% just by making fixes to their shopping cart.

Here are the changes we made (and you should consider trying):

  1. Hide extraneous inputs: We removed the "special instructions" field. What could that possibly include anyway?
  2. Remove unnecessary text: This site had a note about currencies but didn't actually support multiple currencies. Removed! 
  3. Remove extra buttons: Having multiple buttons creates confusion. In this case, the update button was being confused by non-native speakers for the checkout button,
  4. Simpler layout: This site had a customer guarantee near the checkout button. While we like that, we don't necessarily want it so close to the checkout button. We instead moved it to the left of the button area, where it should actually be read more, according to eye-tracking studies.
  5. Accurate button labels: The checkout button label previously was "CHECKOUT". This seems simple and clear, but it's high-pressure. We replaced it with "Proceed to checkout", which is lower pressure and a more accurate description of what the button does.

Day 3: Enable Abandoned Cart Recovery

Not everyone who adds a product to their cart makes it all the way through to purchase a product. Sometimes they give up along the way. Any time a potential customer provides their contact information but doesn't complete the order, Shopify stores record that information and can automatically follow up with that customer – if you have an advanced account.

I like to treat these abandoned cart recovery emails as customer service opportunities. Help the merchant send a personal email asking why the customer didn’t complete checkout. If there’s a problem with their checkout process, these follow-up emails will quickly reveal it. If there isn’t, then you’ve both reminded the customer about their unfinished order, and demonstrated to them your top-notch customer service.

And here’s the best part: these “personal” emails are entirely automated. Once they’re enabled, the shop owner won’t have to do a thing.

The template that Shopify includes by default is good, but I like to make it a little more personal. Here’s the template I start with:

Hi {{ billing_address.name }},

Joe here from Acme Corp.

I saw you put together a shopping cart on our site but didn’t >finish your order. Do you need any help? Or did you have any >questions about the order I can answer before you submit it?

If there’s anything I can do, just hit the reply button and >drop me a line with any product or order questions.

Your shopping cart:

I’ve included a list of your shopping cart contents below. You >can click this link - {{ url }} - to load up the shopping cart >again.

{% for line in line_items %}{{ line.quantity }}x >{{ line.title }}

{% endfor %}

If you need to discuss your order in more detail, feel free to >call me.

Talk soon!
Joe from Acme Corp

Abandoned Cart Recovery is a special feature for Professional or Unlimited plans. If your client is on the Basic plan, there are several apps available in the Shopify App Store. (Type the word "abandoned" in the search bar on the app store.)

Day 4: Build a Holiday-Themed Landing Page

Check out any major big box retailer’s site before the holidays.They’ll have landing pages built especially for the holidays. This really doesn’t have to be complicated. At the minimum, this could be as simple as making a product collection, calling it “Black Friday sale,” and adding a holiday-themed collection image and text.

This has three effects: People find the page through an organic search or by visiting their site, they see the sale items in advance which builds excitement, and the special collection makes the sale easy to share. Heck, the merchant could even “leak” this page early.

Day 5: Performance Optimization

Slow is annoying, right? If something takes too long to load, we move on. That's why performance of a website is so important. Test their site out now. Ideally it should load in two seconds or less, but you won’t run in to problems unless it takes more than four seconds on a smartphone.

Surveys tell us that nearly half of people say they'll abandon a page that takes longer than four seconds to load. In actual testing we know they're a little more patient than that, but if a page takes longer than five seconds, we can expect about half of people to abandon the page.

It’s simple: the faster a merchant's page loads, the more people will view their site, and the happier they'll be. More happy users means more conversions.

I could write another 2,000 words on performance optimization, but I’ll spare you the nerd talk. Images are usually the culprit when it comes to slow load times. That’s where you should focus your efforts to get your client's Shopify store to lose the most weight. Remove excessive slides from carousels, resize images to their native resolution, and compress them using a free tool like ImageOptim.

Day 6: Retargeting

Have you ever viewed a product on a major retailer’s site and then had ads for that product follow you around for the next two months like a lost dog? That’s retargeting, and it’s a hugely effective way to show highly-focused ads to engaged users.


Basically, it ensures that visitors who abandon a merchant's site are reminded of it for the entire holiday period.

My personal preference for retargeting services is Perfect Audience because of its ease of use, but there are other retargeting services like AdRoll.

While you can run a campaign for as low as $25/week, I’d recommend spending $350/week for every 10K weekly visitors a store receives. That money’s not wasted either, because Shopify store owners typically generate $10 in sales for every $1 spent.

Day 7: Holiday Styles

Ready to let people know your client is in the holiday mood (and subtly suggest they’re going to have great sales)? You’ll need to update their logo – with a Santa cap. It’s the universal sign for “we’ve got holiday sales!” It’s fun, festive, and easy. It’s so easy, I’d also do it for their other branding collateral such as Facebook and Twitter icons.

Day 8: Live Chat

In a retail store, we expect to be greeted, and we expect to be able to ask questions. As a customer, it’s really frustrating to not be able to find an employee when you need them. Live Chat is the website equivalent of that. It provides the convenient answers that customers want on demand. Olark is my favorite pick for this, but of course, there are others.

Day 9: Add More Ways to Pay

Customers expect to be able to pay with a credit or debit card. If I could pick one payment gateway, it would be Shopify Payments (or Stripe) as my client's primary payment method. I’d also consider adding PayPal. Not only are some customers more comfortable with PayPal, but it also allows provides financing on purchases over $99 through their PayPal Credit service (formerly known as Bill Me Later). The seller gets paid as usual, and the buyer gets more time to pay.

To maximize the benefit (and conversion rate), add a note in your cart or product area about the available financing.

Day 10: Marketing Automation

On Black Friday itself, customers may be shopping from their couch, but they’re still feeling the rush. According to IBM’s annual Online Retail Holiday Readiness Report, the typical customer will only spend about seven minutes on your client's site.

Sometime on Thanksgiving evening, it’s time to start promoting on site. Make it as easy as possible to find sale products. Put all of the sale items into a Black Friday specific collection. Feature that collection, along with other popular items, on the home page. Remove, hide, or disable other distractions. Hide non-sale promotional materials from the home page. Heck, I’d even consider temporarily disabling that newsletter pop-up window we set up on day one. Remember, today is the biggest shopping day of the year, and everyone on the Internet has just become a deal-obsessed maniac.

Your client is going to need to stay on top of phones and emails to answer questions and put out fires as they arise. No one is going to wait two hours for a response from them today. That means they’ll need your help to promote the sale on Black Friday.

To be ready, I’d have two promo emails scheduled to go out to list subscribers. One at 5 am, and one at noon. At 5 am, announce that the sale is happening and give readers a direct link to the sale collection. Then later at noon, send another email with a list of the top 10 sale items. At the same time, promote the sale via social media. I’d have Facebook posts and tweets scheduled to fire off every hour throughout the day. For scheduling social media tweets, Buffer or Hootsuite are my favorite tools.

It’s incredibly important to set up marketing automation for Black Friday. When the day gets hectic and the phones are ringing, promotion will be the first thing the store staff neglects.

After Black Friday

The party's not over. After Black Friday has come and gone, there are still at least three weeks of online shopping before Christmas. Implementing any or all of these suggestions will pay dividends for your client after Black Friday.

But there’s still one more thing we can do before the holidays are over...

Day 11: Countdown

We can create urgency by reminding customers of the absolute last day they can order and still be guaranteed free shipping. (This is great for those procrastinators among us who didn’t get out early on Black Friday.) Include the date in email newsletters, in the website’s header, and if you’re feeling really fancy, in a countdown timer.

Day 12: Email Remarketing

By now, the shop owner has probably created a pretty large list of opt-in customers. Now here’s the thing about email marketing: it practically prints money. I would send an email at least twice a week to promote their holiday sales.

Here are some ideas:

  1. Ways to prep for the holidays
  2. Segment customers by past purchases
  3. Coupons and discount redemption codes
  4. New product announcements

The magic of a consistent newsletter is that it keeps the brand top of mind with its recipients. I’ll receive an email newsletter, ignore the content, but purchase something else as a result because it reminds me.

Now It’s Your Turn

I’m sure there’s at least one great idea in here for every Shopify store owner you work with. So take the best, and leave the rest.

What else are you doing to get your clients ready for the holidays? I’d love to know, so please tell us about it.

Ecommerce interaction design with NickD

by Kurt Elster

Today we're talking with Nick Disabato of Draft, a small interaction design consultancy in Chicago. His previous clients include Gravitytank, New Music USA, Chicago Magazine, The Wirecutter, and too many other attractive, intelligent people to count. We spent quite a bit of time talking about his work designing a delightful user experience for Cards Against Humanity.

We discuss...

  1. Cards Against Humanity marketing strategy
  2. Split-testing
  3. Conversion rate optimization
  4. And more

Links:

  1. Cards Against Humanity - http://cardsagainsthumanity.com/
  2. Cadence & Slang - http://cadence.cc/
  3. Draft: Revise - https://draft.nu/revise/
  4. Nick's newsletter - http://eepurl.com/vqJgv
  5. Visual Website Optimizer - https://vwo.com/

Brutally Honest SEO Advice for Ecommerce Entrepreneurs

by Kurt Elster

Kai Davis is a dynamite internet marketing professional. He’s really reinventing how his clients view SEO and creating an amazing suite offerings with which anyone can build an amazing organic stream for their website.

We discuss:

Download MP3 (10.6 MB)
  1. How he boost a website's findability
  2. Why you should focus on results, not SEO
  3. What best practices to follow
  4. What does on-site SEO involve?
  5. How do you get quality backlinks?
  6. The education problem that SEO faces
  7. What a bad SEO engagement looks like
  8. Link-building strategies for real SEO results
  9. The easiest SEO win you can use for your site
  10. How important are search rankings?
  11. An easy way to improve click-through rates
  12. Are you communicating trust?
  13. Kai's number one SEO tip.

If you want to learn more from Kai, he's got a newsletter where he dispenses more of the hot truth you heard here. Sign up at http://kaidavis.com/newsletter/