5 step practical guide: essential tools to grow your online shop.

by Kaidi Tiitson

September 2, 2018

Once you have your online shop all set up the only thing that remains to do is to take on the eCommerce market by storm. But how exactly do you do that? How do you get shoppers onto your site? How do you make them spend money? And how do you keep them coming back […]

5 step practical guide: essential tools to grow your online shop.

Once you have your online shop all set up the only thing that remains to do is to take on the eCommerce market by storm.

But how exactly do you do that?

How do you get shoppers onto your site? How do you make them spend money? And how do you keep them coming back for more and in bigger numbers?

Essentially, how do you grow your online shops’ traffic, revenue and profit?

Well, there are some apps for that!

And we have conveniently compiled some of them into this quick take-away infographic, so you can easily plan out the next steps in conquering the online retail business.

If you are only just getting started you might also like to check out our great little guide on how to efficiently set up your online shop from zero. And once you are ready for it, we have another one coming that introduces you to some great tools to enable your online shop to take over the whole wide world – keep an eye out for it in the next weeks!

But for now, let’s set your shop up for growth!

STEP 1: Create some amazing content.

Why is content so important that we chose to put it as the first thing on our list? It’s simple – Google loves content, your customers love content, everybody loves content. Original, useful, fun, inspiring content that is.

Just remember: content for the sake of content is not content, its spam.

In the essence of it, content has two main functions:

  • to help Google understand what you sell and offer, so it knows when to prioritize you in search results; and
  • help your customers find value on your site, so they come often, stay longer and hopefully convert more.

Content can have many different approaches and outlets which all can be equally valid depending on your brand and business.

For example, an online shop that sells car tires might find that regular articles about cool cars and cutting-edge technology attracts the right kind of public. Or it can be that having good old expert advice and solid product descriptions and brand comparisons send the best traffic from search engines.

content tools

So how to choose the content style and topics for your online shop?

Well, first try to define what are the actual interests of real people in your target market. Then think about what kind of content they want to consume. And then go on BuzzSumo to spy on your competitors and to scan social media trends for keywords in your topic.

Your goal is to find out what works for others with a similar target and at the same time find content niches that the online community has created organically. Then deliver what people want.

Another great place for inspiration is Quora, with its endless stream of questions from actual real people. The best thing here is that you can use Quora also for some smart marketing if you find the right questions to answer – just remember not to spam with infomercials, but offer valid advice and opinions.

If you still get stuck, Hubpot and Venngage have great little tools to generate you endless content ideas based on the words you specify. Also, notice that these two tools are a great piece of content on their own, getting people like you (straight from the target market) onto their site browsing around.

STEP 2: Step up your SEO game.

 SEO is a never-ending battle for all web pages. There are a lot of tools that help you do parts of it and there are bigger tools that can help with most of it.

SEO is a vast term to grasp sometimes, but in essence, all actions you take under that umbrella can be divided into:

  1. Optimizing your site
  2. Owning your keywords
  3. Building your backlinks
  4. Monitoring your rankings
  5. Watching your brand
  6. Spying on your competitors

That list still seems like a lot of work, but it’s already much clearer what it entails, isn’t it?

So how do you get on with that long “to-do list”?

seo tools

Everything depends on your budget, but if you are to grow, you will have to accept that SEO needs resources and investment. It is not completely free after-all (don’t worry, it is still much cheaper than PPC, at least if you are doing it right!).

SEMRush, Moz and AhRefs are three major competing toolkits for everything to do with SEO. They help with each and every step described above and respectively have their own loyal and devoted userbase. You should have a look at all three of them and see what fits your needs and taste the best.

SEMRush is probably the most active in the Spanish market and directly targeting the local users, so they might have a slight upper hand on the results and services you see when using them.

SEO is such a wide topic and this quick guide just cannot do justice to the vastness of it.

But to bring yourself up to speed there is no better and more convenient source of knowledge than Google. Also, why not start following some great Twitter accounts of some of the great subject matter experts in Spain like @MadreSEOperiora or @vivirdelared – there is always great insights and content shared on these channels.

And if you are serious about getting to the gist of it all, the above-mentioned toolkits have amazing FREE resources to make you into a real SEO guru.

These are some of the best SEO guides you can find online:

  1. semrush.com/academy
  2. ahrefs.com/academy
  3. moz.com/learn/seo

STEP 3: Optimize your online shop for making the sale

Since getting visitors to your shop does not automatically translate into increased revenue you will also need to optimize your site for actually making the sale.

Optimize for keeping those visitors on your site, making them go all the way in their shopping journey and then making sure they come back for more and bring some friends with them.

This, of course, is obvious. However, the execution of it – not always.

But let’s break it down.

First, make sure your customers feel comfortable and engaged on your site. Think UX and UI!

ux tools

This step, in fact, begins already before they reach your site. Slow page loading times are one of the main culprits in deterring potential visitors from reaching your site.

To make sure you are fast enough you can use Google or Sitechecker or any of the various similar online tools to make sure your tech is not failing you.

While you are there, make sure you are also mobile, tablet, desktop and search engine friendly and nothing is broken on your site.

If everything checks out, start building from there to create a user flow that naturally leads to making the sale.

To do that, try to put yourself in the customers’ shoes and go through the whole process of trying to buy something from your site. See if there is someplace you feel like you get stuck, that does not look in line with the rest of the experience or if there are opportunities anywhere to encourage finalizing the sale or to upsell extra items.

Since people are different and since you yourself likely already feel very much at home on your webpage, you might need some second opinions on what works and what not. And who else would be a better test subject than your genuine shoppers themselves?

Hotjar and Oribi are two analytics tools that can help you check what your visitors are doing on your site and what makes them buy or abandon purchases. From there you can identify what is working and what not and concentrate on fixing the shortfalls.

Hotjar is a well tried-and-tested tool that comes with a lot of functionality and interesting tricks to live through your customers’ user experience. Oribi, on the other hand, is a relatively new service that tries to simplify the whole analytics process and make it more manageable even to newcomers.

Getting the user experience right and tweaking your UI usually involves a lot of testing and guessing. Luckily these tools will help you do this guesswork in an informed and educated manner.

Second, make sure your customers feel taken care of and appreciated off your site. Think shopping experience!

delivery tools

Let’s imagine for a moment that your online shop is the perfect conversion making machine.

Everything is set up so that all your visitors spend lots of money and at the same time feel they just bagged the greatest deal ever. The products and experience you offer are unique and impressive. Essentially, you are the Apple of online shops!

Now, would it be ok to let them down in the next step of delivering their order in the real world? Would they be equally impressed with slow and dodgy couriers? Would a shopping experience ever be positive if the customer is let down in one of the most essential steps of receiving their purchase? No, it wouldn’t.

While for online shops the most essential quest is to make the sale, they should never forget that for their customers the end goal is to receive their goods.

This is the reason why more and more emphasis is put on fast and secure fulfilment. It not only creates a wholesome shopping experience, but it also makes online shops look trustworthy and creates loyal customers.

Outvio is a tool that delivers all that and then some with a simple signup to an uncomplicated but complete cloud-based service.

It gives you full control of the fulfilment and delivery process, as well as empowers your customers with on-map tracking and easy online returns. The result – a great customer experience from start to finish for your shoppers, and more sales for you!

Not to mention that when you really start growing, the pain of fulfilment will only get worse (we hear it every day from different online shops how their number one headache is picking, packing and delivering the orders).

So Outvio really is not just a wonderful fulfilment and delivery painkiller, it’s a full-fledged vaccine for the future of a growing eCommerce business. No matter if you are shipping just a package a day or thousands a month, Outvio will always keep you optimized and help you deliver amazing service with minimal effort.

Third, make your customers feel loved and part of a community, on and off your site.

communication tools

We already mentioned the importance of onsite chat in our infographic on how to launch an online shop. However, communication is key. Which means the chat alone will not be enough to keep you informed and your audience involved.

The right communication efforts will keep your customers engaged, increase sales, give you valuable feedback and, most importantly, keep visitors coming back for more.

To start with, set your online shop up with just the right amount of interactive marketing and customer relation efforts.

The right amount depends greatly on your particular business model and your customer base, but when in doubt, it’s always good to be conservative. Being too aggressive will have exactly the opposite effect to the desired.

Typeform and OptinMonster  are two very different tools, but they can both help you communicate with your customers on site and they are a great place to start boosting your on-site communication efforts. In fact, they might be all you ever need altogether.

Typeform has a smooth light and personal feel to it and is excellent for any kind of customer questionnaires, onboarding, email collections and quizzes. It can even be used for making a sale through an engaging customer form.

OptinMonster, on the other hand, is more of a direct sales tool that will help you create many different types of inline or action triggered notifications and popups. These can be essential in nudging your visitors towards conversion. Just remember to nudge gently!

Then, create a logical, helpful and interesting email interaction flow.

For a little while, there was an effort online to portray email as an obsolete and outdated form of communication. And given the rise of social media and tools like Slack, one could think there is truth to that.

However, as Mark Twain would put it – the rumours of email being dead have been greatly exaggerated.

In fact, email is the most widely used, most highly converting and, on top of that, the top preferred communication channel by consumers by far. In other words, email is an essential channel for customer communication for all online shops.

There are more automation tools for email out there than we can count, but a good vertical dissection of different approaches on offer would be for example: MailChimp, Conversio and Revue.

No matter which type of service fits your needs, we have two basic, but universal, tips regarding email automation:

  1. Set up your notification emails to be helpful and relevant (both timing and content wise).
  2. Make your marketing and newsletter emails interesting and targeted.

So in summary, when you send out payment, purchase, shipping and delivery notifications to your converted customers, make sure they are clear and to the point and send them in a timely manner.

And when you write your newsletters and marketing emails make them interesting and relevant to the recipient group. Otherwise, if you just send pure hard selling rubbish, no one will open your emails, or worse yet – they will unsubscribe from your list.

Remember, there is a lot of competition in the inbox, make your emails stand out.

And finally – take control of your social media channels.

Yes, we live in a world where even all the businesses need to have social media accounts.

Being on social media is not only a way to reach your audience and to share content that might attract them (not to mention the advertising opportunities), but it is also a source of trust – an active account means there is an active business behind it. Even better if that account has a lot of activity and great reviews!

But, like always, there is a “but”! There are so many social media channels and managing them and feeding them with content is a major time consumer. And often this time might come on the expense of other (more important?) tasks.

So if you are going to run an online shop, then you are going to have to have quite a few social media accounts, which means you are going to need Buffer or Later (or any other social media management assistan), that is going to make it all a bit more manageable.

Buffer and Later are both great tools, so we recommend to give them both a try and see what fits your needs the best!

Fourth, keep an eye on your numbers.

The only way to know how well you are doing with your sales optimization is to know which way your traffic, sales and conversion numbers are going.

When you have data, you can make informed decisions about continuing your current efforts or changing your strategies. Do not underestimate the power of analytics.

Unfortunately, analytics often is one of the last things set up for any business, because, well, for one, you need data before you can analyse it, so its normal. But also, there always seems to be something more important, some fire more urgent to put out, than sitting down and submerging in a sea of numbers.

analytics tool

This is why one simple, yet powerful tool for all analytics needs, like Compass, can be a great alternative for tons of excel sheets and pdf reports from the accountant. Easy access to all the numbers you need in a visual and pleasing way – definitely worth a go.

Also Outvio, in addition to helping you manage deliveries and returns, offers you a great selection of statistics and advanced analytics, both for your orders and shipments, as well as your whole business. All presented nicely and much easier to interpret than in a typical CMS or ERP system, without having to make any additional investment or use an extra tool.

STEP FOUR: Tame the PPC monster

WARNING: Online paid advertising should be approached with caution!

However, once you feel comfortably knowledgeable with the topic (maybe having graduate from PPC university at WordStream), PPC can be a profitable and irreplaceable source of traffic and sales.

There are also some great tools and services available to help you manage this love/hate relationship that is paid online advertising.

In addition to the already mentioned internet authority WordStream there is a cool new artificial intelligence ad planner and two solid and tried out content distribution platforms that we would like you to know about.

ppc tools

Frank.ai is a cutting-edge online service that uses an artificial brain connected to Facebook, Google and apparently 2 million other websites to intelligently design your online paid advertising campaigns with zero effort on your side. That sounds cool even before considering that using their service means having a super genius AI on your team!

Then there are Outbrain and Taboola, which are both solid and respected content distribution platforms on top of any content promoters list. They make sure that when you are promoting your quality content it is shown in context on high traffic news and entertainment websites, in principle to users who have been selected based on many markers to fit in your target audience. If you have ever clicked on a “recommended article” on your favourite news site then that is exactly what these guys do.

And of course, it would be impossible to write a paragraph on PPC and leave out Google AdWords, Facebook Ads Manager and Twitter Ads – the most direct access to ads on the most influential networks in the world.

Now you are truly equipped with the big guns.

Just remember – always, ALWAYS keep yourself alert for any possible PPC blackholes lurking around in the campaigns you run. They can suck in your whole budget with zero return in no time!

 

STEP FIVE: Outsource if you are stretching yourself thin, but hiring seems too resource extensive (or old school)

Running an online shop with intention and determination takes a lot of work. We know!

It can be that some of these online services take already a huge weight off your shoulders. You might even have a solid in-house team to cover most of the tasks that cannot be bought in as a service. But there is always something popping up.

Do not try to be a hero and try to do everything yourself. Delegating in the right place is one of the key skills of any great leader.

And in the age of Upwork and Fiverr, anyone can compile an international team of experts in no time.

outsourcing tools

Starting from illustrators to web developers to Instagram elves and data entry fairies – these outsourcing platforms can deliver you professionals that before were hard to find even for big organisations.

The world is your talent pool!

 

And just like that, you are now armed with tools that will empower and strengthen the growth of your online shop. Make good use of them.

And remember, the planet is your limit in the eCommerce business – so we hope to see you soon to check out our guide on how to conquer the whole wide world with your online shop!

A Practical Guide Essential tools to GROW an online shop

But nothing really beats a first hand experience…

And we won’t ask for you credit card data until you are ready to start shipping. So try Outvio for yourself, there is nothing to lose!