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Try some of these tips and you won't be disappointed

From £0 to £200K in 8 Months on the IRP

Discover how an IRP client increased sales from £0 to >£200K in eight months using IRP technology combined with account management.

Time Taken: 8 months
Market: Sports & Recreation
Sales Before: £0
Sales After: £200,000 ↑

Independently of the market niche you are in, setting up a successful ecommerce store requires planning and a lot of intelligent work.

If you take into account that customers now have an ever-growing selection of online stores to visit, you can understand why you have to develop both a short-term and a long-term strategy to succeed.

In this article you will discover how an IRP client in the Sports & Recreation market (hereafter referred to as ‘Client A’) managed to increase sales from £0 to greater than £200K in eight months using IRP technology combined with account management.

Client A Sales, May to Dec 2016
Fig 1. ‘Client A’ Sales, May – Dec 2016

The aim of this article is to provide you with insights so that you can improve your data quality from day one of deployment and learn what the essential channels are that will help you to generate ever-increasing sales.

This article is aimed primarily at new IRP clients in the deployment stage and also at those who are new to ecommerce in general.

During deployment: focus on product data

Displaying incomplete data is the most common mistake made by online businesses. They tend to concentrate so much on visual improvements to their site that they stop thinking about the one critical part of ecommerce — great product data. This is so important that even if you spend 70% of your deployment time getting the data right, it will pay off in both the short term and the long term. Here are some key points to think about:

1. Pay attention to your category structure. When planning your category structure you should visit as many competitor sites as you can, aiming to understand why their navigation is easy or difficult to use. Based on your research, configure the main categories on your website. Imagine the main categories to be baskets which you have to fill with products that are related to each other. Be attentive here, as a mistake could negatively affect the searchability of your site and decrease your conversion rate. For more information about this area, see the Categories help topic in the IRP Knowledge Base.

2. Complete your model data. You will have received a model template file when you started your IRP deployment process — aim to complete the columns as accurately as possible but provide only the information that is requested; there is no need to go beyond what is necessary. For more tips on this area, see the How To Add or Edit a Model help topic in the IRP Knowledge Base.

3. Match your attributes with Google Shopping. Use the Google Specifcation to format the product information for your store and also for Google Shopping. It is essential to submit your product list data to Google in the correct format in order to create successful ads for your products. For more information see Google Merchant Center Help and the Attributes help topic in the IRP Knowledge Base.

4. Use barcodes/EANs. The reason that barcodes/EANs are so important is that many channels automatically associate an EAN (the barcode) with their existing inventory when you upload your products. Some real problems with EANs can occur, for example:

  • The same EAN is applied to two or more distinct goods.
  • The same EAN is applied to child variations within a single parent stock item.
  • An EAN is applied to the wrong product.
  • An invalid EAN is applied to a product. This occurs when the EAN does not have the exact number of digits, is inserted into your database incorrectly (the digits are mixed up), or if you use an EAN that is inapplicable to the region (for example using EANs that start with two digits that apply to France but that are invalid for the UK).

Incorrectly formatted EANs could be a problem if the barcode passes the standard verification checks but they are associated with a different product. Misapplications of correct EANs are not easily diagnosed but can generate harmful repercussions for merchants.

5. Ensure that your barcodes are accurate. Get suppliers to provide you with the barcodes (but be careful here as I have seen suppliers also get the data wrong). This is time well spent, especially if you want to target marketplaces or any Comparison Shopping Engines nationally and internationally that use this reference data for listing/ranking purposes.

6. Complete your stock data using the stock item template file that you will have received when you started your IRP deployment Do not forget to complete the SEO fields; quality of data means that both humans and search engines must ‘like’ your data. For more information about stock items, see the How To Edit a Stock Item help topic in the IRP Knowledge Base.

7. Never forget that you are writing for humans. There will be real people on the other side of the screen that will buy your products — so don’t forget to TRANSFORM the data that your suppliers provide by adding a human touch to it. Personalise the text, as having unique content helps to generate free traffic. Preferably, answer all possible questions that the client can think of when he or she views the product on your page.

When building your content, think about the structure of the page, bullet points and HTML enhancements (h1, h2, h3). Incorporate many product images taken from different angles and use videos if you can. Producing individual videos for your products and hosting them on YouTube usually pays for itself through the free traffic you receive for a lifetime.

In the short term, video production and creation can be expensive, but if you don’t want to invest in this area, try to find videos that show exactly the products you are trying to advertise (perhaps from a manufacturer or supplier) and embed them on your product pages. It will help you to build trust and to differentiate your business from your competitors, potentially increasing your conversion rate.

Post-deployment: focus on advertising

When you have completed all the steps advised by your IRP Account Manager and your website has been deployed with all your product data correct, it is time to advertise.

8. Make sure that you can be found via:

9. Work on your TRUST from day one. Be sure that your Trustpilot account is active and working. See 10 Steps To Optimise Your Trustpilot Account.

10. Activate your social media and don’t forget to include a link to your site and, vice versa, a link to your social media from your ecommerce site. Now shout out loud that you are alive and breathing. It is important for your SEO and TRUST as it will create your social footprint and increase your conversion rate. See Facebook Help for more information.

11. Activate Google Shopping and Bing Shopping. Make sure that you have a good company behind your PPC — find a third-party from day one! Any mistakes here can be costly. For more information see Google Merchant Center Help and Bing Ads Help.

12. Activate a Dynamic Remarketing strategy on Facebook and Google. This consists of uploading your product list to these platforms and from this moment on it will be distributed according to user interaction on your page. For more information, see the How To Set Up Google Certified Shops and How To Set Up Facebook Dynamic Product Adverts help topics in the IRP Knowledge Base.

13. Display your products on Facebook and find a third-party company to manage your Facebook account if you can. You’ll probably have read lots of good things about Facebook ads, but I suggest not focusing on Facebook paid traffic at first if you are not using the remarketing feature. If you don’t have a professional taking care of your Facebook marketing, you could try yourself to create a remarketing campaign that will offer products to your clients based on the products they’ve seen on your site via the Facebook pixel. To find out more, see Facebook dynamic adverts.

14. Create links in every place that people might search for your product. One hour a day is more than enough for this task. When you are starting off, it is hard to get the free traffic. Many players are out there fighting hard for it — but you will beat them if day-after-day you do a good job of generating quality links pointing to your site. It will be essential for your business, believe me. Start with yell, local directories, forums, blogs and then everywhere where it makes sense to insert your link. The more relevant that the page is for people in your niche, the better for you. Remember that this game is not about quantity but quality.

15. Create a strategy for generating email lists. This is a must. Again I presume that you have no list at all to begin with. First, you should offer something in exchange for a person’s email address — usually Discount % upon first purchase. Please avoid using the simple phrase ‘Subscribe To Receive Our News’ — nobody wants to receive your news yet; they do not know your brand and even if they do, why would anyone subscribe? Would you subscribe anywhere today without an incentive? You are better off being creative here. In the case of Client A, they offered a 10% discount on the first purchase. For more tips on this area, see the Email Profiles help topic in the IRP Knowledge Base.

16. Use promotions on your site as they are essential to increase the Average Order Value and also to make clients aware of products that you want to push. Be creative by combining products (‘Buy 2, get the third at x% discount’) and creating kits that include products that go well together. Keep testing different promotions until you find one that will often result in your customers making purchases. For more information, see the Promotions help topic in the IRP Knowledge Base.

17. Include promotional banners. Make sure that every time you create a new promotion you add banners for use on social media, search engines and your (perhaps still small) email list. Be reasonable here and don’t spend a long time creating a beautiful email marketing template if your email contains just ten subscribed users. Instead, save your energy for the second or third month after deployment when you will start email campaigns for the customer lists you have built up.

18. Configure your marketplaces (if applicable to your business). You have spent innumerable hours on your product data and once you activate Amazon you will understand how important that was. The feeds that you will export to Amazon will carry the EANs/barcodes that will match with the ones present in the marketplace. For more information, see the Amazon Marketplace help topic in the IRP Knowledge Base.

19. Work on your country personalisations — you will have collected enough data to do this by the second month after deployment. Focus initially on countries that use the same language as yours since you will not have to translate your existing content. Make sure that you create an optimised version of your site for the top three countries that generate the greatest traffic to your site. For more tips on this area, see 9 Easy Steps to Americanise Your Website.

20. Watch your SEO as it will be part of your work for ever. Make sure that you have all your brand and category SEO up to date; it is a fundamental error to set your SEO once and then think you are covered for life. Your business evolves and every new category or brand that you add to your website will require updated SEO.

21. Populate your promotions calendar with the leading ecommerce dates such as Black Friday, Father’s Day, Christmas and all the other important dates for your business. My tips here are: stick to your calendar at all times and be sure that you test your banners and promotions ahead of the date. For more information, see Successful Sales and Promotions on the IRP.

22. Reward people that have purchased from your store by creating Order Automatic Vouchers. These will potentially increase your CLV (Customer Lifetime Value ) and help to ensure that your clients feel tempted to come back to spend their vouchers. It is much cheaper to pay for this now rather than later when you will have to attract new customers to generate new sales. For more information, see the Order Automatic Vouchers help topic in the IRP Knowledge Base.

Once you have a steady, predictable stream of traffic coming in, you can begin focusing on enhancing your user experience and conversion rate.

There you have it. Try some of these tips and you won’t be disappointed.

Anonymous - Key Point 23... Start working with Digital Ignition PPC... as was the case for "Client A" from mid September.
21 Apr 2017 20:42
Anonymous - Excellent step by step guide! The results show what is possible when the hard work and focus is on the correct areas.
18 Apr 2017 11:08
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