What do people expect from brands in times like these? How does the COVID-19 quarantine change how brands talk to their customers? What do direct-to-consumer brands need to do to weather the storm and even evolve to be ahead of the game when this is over (or sooner)?
In today’s world, your business could be either surviving (and thriving!), or slowly dying with COVID-like symptoms. Here are a few tips on how to beat the COVID curse and put yourself in a position to thrive by optimizing your ecomm performance to boost your online sales.
1. TAKE YOUR SITE’S TEMPERATURE
Assess your customer journey
The last thing you want is to make it difficult or confusing for people to buy from you. Take some time to map out your customer journey, identifying all your channels and communications (emails, social, landing pages, ads…). You’re looking for two things:
- Areas of opportunity
- Roadblocks that might keep or slow down your customers from making a purchase.
If you don’t find anything outright negative in your assessment, take another comb through and ask yourself if your messaging and UX is clearly telling people what you want them to do. Have you outright asked them to buy from you? Don’t leave a hot date hanging. Chances are, you could stand to add another “buy now” button or a sticky button at the top of your page.
Here are a few specific things you might look at:
- Create a customer journey map that shows all points of contact between your brand and your customer, from initial engagement through the long-term relationship. (MindMeister is a good tool for this.)
- How are you attracting cold leads?
- Are you nurturing warm leads?
- How are you growing loyalty and building community post-purchase to keep them coming back for more?
- Look at your website analytics
Watch heat maps to find opportunities to increase conversion rates
For one of our clients, watching heat maps and making three simple changes jumped the conversion rate from .8 to 2.3 or more.
If a user is spending a lot of time in a certain spot, consider putting your most critical information and/or a strong CTA there.
Heat maps are great for identifying both the content that captures users’ attention and potential UX issues, like clicks on an element that isn’t actually clickable. Or not enough clicks on an element you thought was important. Or how people move their mouse over a longer section of content.
For a specific slice of the customer journey, you might filter traffic by channel or campaign. For a bigger-picture understanding of the whole customer journey, Google’s attribution tool or a good CRM can help.
Keep in mind: Data can only get you so far. While Google Analytics and heatmaps can help you sniff out a potential problem, you often need to dig a little deeper. Enter quantitative analysis. To give yourself the best chance at solving a problem, it’s great to have that extra layer of qualitative research to answer the WHAT and WHY of your bounce rate is high, time on the page is low, or why everyone’s adding your product to their cart but not actually converting.
Use session recordings to discover where people are going when they’re getting stuck.
Good UX can get close to a frictionless experience, but nothing beats looking at how actual people use your site. Session recordings are actual recordings of how people navigate your site — and while it can be humbling to realize that no one actually pauses to read that introspective paragraph you put together on your origin story, it’s enlightening to see what barriers and bugs people are running into.
Recordings give you real data to guide you toward making changes that help more people convert.
Another way to get some great insights is to A/B test your traffic. These tests will reveal what performs better and by the removal of this or that element, confirm whether it was a barrier to the user continuing in their journey to checkout. We do love a good A/B test!
The great news is that this is a great time to take a long, hard (and honest) look at your website and make sure it’s pulling its weight. We can help with plugins, data analysis, mapping out areas of opportunity, and so much more.
2. CONTENT VITAMINS, 3x DAILY
Is posting three times a day really the magic number?
In Instagram land, more is better. Post as often as you can! Just work to keep it consistent. Three posts each day is a good guideline to start.
If that has you instantly feeling overwhelmed, relax. It’s not the only way to build your business. And if you’re a business owner, you should focus on what you do best: running your business.
If you find yourself wanting to explore social media further, or simply need help to make it happen each day, we’re here for you. There are also some free tools like Canva.com that can help you churn out content fast. Reviews are great to post. You can grow into a more strategic presence as you have the time and team.
Content is (still) king
Content is a lot of fun to brainstorm, plan out, and create, but it has value far beyond shiny images. Content is a visual way of telling your brand story. That said, every piece of content should (in a perfect world) ladder up to your strategic goals and messaging. Some brands will do best with highly produced content. Others will find it more strategic to go heavy on UGC (user-generated content). While we’d love to get high-octane video from a drone, at night, on top of a 14er, for every project on our plates, we’re always careful to evaluate your business needs, budget, and strategic positioning to make the right recommendations for where you want to go. (Actually, forget where you want to go! Where do you want to take your customers?)
Some of our recent projects have involved:
- Engaging influencers
- Drone videography
- Photo shoots
- Livestream on social
- Sierra stats and sales growth numbers – ads paired with good content
3. FEELING SLUGGISH?
Speed up your site for performance and better SEO
One of the most frustrating experiences you’re expecting your visitors to tolerate is a slow site. And truly, there’s no excuse. If you’re sitting there thinking you’ve been getting away with it just fine, know that Google uses page loading speed as one of their SEO ranking factors, and if your ranking isn’t where you want it to be, loading speed could be a contributor.
- Things you can do:
- Reduce your image dimensions
- Compress your images
- Lazyload content
- Move videos to a streaming service
- Remove old content
- Scrub your site of unused plugins or services
- Defer blocking scripts
- Optimize database queries
- Clean up your code
- Use fonts for icons
- Use image sprites
This is a challenge the VOLTAGE team loves to take on. We obsess over milliseconds, and if you’re in need of a ground-up overhaul, our very own component system is built on the cleanest code possible.
Get an infusion of new customers with social media ads and landing pages
Repeat customers are great, but don’t stop there. There are always new customers to be found! By targeting lookalike audiences in online ads, you can find and warm up cold leads and move them from awareness to consideration to conversion. Or another way of describing the customer journey: Attract → Engage → Delight.
What do you do with traffic from your social ads? Have you considered landing pages? These eye-catching, one-off pages are carefully positioned with targeted messaging (or even better: lead magnets) to seamlessly move leads through the funnel and tell them exactly what they came hoping to hear. 77% of marketers see landing pages as an essential part of their post-click strategy [source: Unbounce].
Re-engage repeat customers with automated emails
You may hear us say, “email is free!” And it is, aside from the time spent strategizing and building out the actual emails (which can be automated, spreading out your costs over months or even years).
This marketing channel works hard for you, because your email list consists of people who have said YES to being interested in your brand and who may have already trusted you enough to hand over some of their hard-earned dollars.
Yet email is often neglected because it “takes too much time,” someone’s afraid of getting unsubscribes, or no one has the bandwidth to come up with messages people might actually welcome in their inbox. Brainstorming high-value content and dripping that out with automated series of emails is an efficient way to engage people who actually asked you to engage with them, and it can be a powerful tool for building loyalty and increasing your perceived brand value through authority.
To sum it up: Don’t let your business die because you’re not doing due diligence when it comes to your digital marketing and ecommerce channels.
Need ideas? We can help.
What’s hot at the VOLTAGE offices these days:
- Landing pages and campaigns
- Social ads
- Email strategy
- ADA and CCPA compliance
- Website upgrades
- Ecommerce optimization (Shopify and WordPress are our specialities, and our component system makes content management simple)
- Big-idea campaigns
- Brand refreshes (now is a great time to give your visual ID a facelift and re-launch it to the world!)
- Brand launch plans (have a great idea that’s ripe for the times? Let’s give it a fighting chance with a great biz plan sure to succeed.)