As a webshop owner, if I think about it for a while, I have one specific goal in mind, namely to grow. To grow as much as possible to drastically increase my turnover. But what can I do to achieve this result with my webshop? I came to 3 important points:
- Purchase products more competitively> increase the margin per product;
- Reduce overhead costs through automation;
- Sell more.
For many e-commerce entrepreneurs, the focus is mainly on the last option, ‘Sell more’. This makes sense because it is the growth liver that, if well-executed, delivers the most. An additional advantage is that online marketing activities can easily be used for a webshop.
Please note: this is not a blog with 15 e-commerce marketing tactics. No meaningless lists, but a practical and clear overview of the actions that I would take when I set up a new webshop or optimized my existing webshop.
Focus with your webshop on a niche.
In every country or continent, it is the e-commerce platforms that attract the general public. Think of: Amazon, Alibaba, eBay, Taobao, Flipkart and Rakuten: titans who offer more and more product groups and keep customers away from the smaller players. These large web shops, if you can still call it web shops, have the means to offer countless products and product groups. For smaller, locally operating web shops, it is not advisable to compete with these big boys.
What should you do then?
To increase the chance of success of your webshop, it is wise to have a clear picture of what you will be focusing on with your webshop. How? Choose a niche. A small product range for a select group of people. This allows you to reduce and specify the group of people you want to focus on. You make it easier for yourself to target this group.
Do you doubt this strategy?
Think back to how Amazon once started.
Founder Jeff Bezos made a list of 20 product groups that he could sell in 1994. From these 20 product groups, Jeff Bezos limited his list to the 5 most promising product groups; CDs, computer hardware, computer software, videos, and books. Jeff Bezos has chosen a niche from this, namely books. Starting from this niche, Jeff Bezos has continued to build on the empire that he has today.
The winners in my home country, the Netherlands, did the same. The biggest players in the Dutch market are currently bol.com (started with books only) and Coolblue.nl (started with mp3 players). Both have grown into huge webshops with countless products and product groups.
Or, if we look at a different market, how did Richard Branson build his empire? He once started a record store and from here his label Virgin later grew into an empire with over 400 companies at the time of writing.
What can you learn from these successes?
Today’s leaders and titans often started small and focused on the initial phase of a specific customer group or product group. Once success was achieved with that specific product and/or in that market, the profit was used to introduce new product groups and to tap into new markets.
Choosing a niche is scary. As an entrepreneur you want to grow, so the focus is quickly on more. More products, more customers, more orders.
But often it is precisely this natural drive for more, real growth that stands in the way. If you are unable to sell enough with your current range, adding more products will not help you. First, make sure that product group A sells well before you start product group B.
Compare it to driving a car: you can take a turn in 4th gear, but you accelerate faster if you switch back to 3rd or 2nd gear. Sometimes a switchback provides a greater step forward.
From webshop to supplier and partner.
A remarkable number of e-commerce entrepreneurs that I speak to see their company as an online ordering platform where customers can place their orders. That’s it. But is that all?
I rarely speak to an e-commerce entrepreneur who sees his company as a supplier. In particular the pure players; they think online and online seems to automatically mean that there is hardly any relationship with the customer. See your company (webshop) as your customer’s regular supplier. A place where your customer can find everything he is looking for.
I know; this is easier for one web shop than for the other. If you sell travel bags, it is unlikely that you can expect a new order from the same private customer on a weekly or daily basis. But, if you sell consumables such as batteries, clothing or office supplies, it is strange not to count on a new weekly or daily order.
Customer profile: Think outside the box.
Years ago I ran an e-commerce business in Christmas trees. We had taken over the market leader in the Netherlands and sold both artificial Christmas trees and real Christmas trees. The first thing I did was to map the potential target groups I wanted to focus on.
The most obvious target groups for a webshop in Christmas trees are:
- 1. People who want a Christmas tree but don’t want to make the effort to get the Christmas tree into their home
2. Companies that want one or more Christmas trees in the office but don’t want to spend time on this.
Both target groups were well versed in our webshop: choose a type (art / real), price range, color, quality, height and so on. When the order was completed, the Christmas tree was delivered to your home within 2 days.
Almost a year round, hardly a tree was sold until mid-November. From that moment on the sales started to rise and the day after Sinterklaas evening it went loose. Thousands of orders per week: in combination with the sales increase, I therefore had to work quite a bit of overtime to complete the orders. This was a fairly lucrative business: the margin was good and there was sufficient time to prepare everything properly.
But, the most lucrative part was not in the regular orders to these consumers and companies. A third customer group turned out to be the most interesting: organizations and companies that wanted to give Christmas trees as a gift to customers and relations, but wanted to skip the entire process of ordering and delivering. Companies such as, a telecom provider who ordered 2,000 trees for customers who took out a subscription in November, a radio station that gave away trees to winners of radio games, a multinational that gave all employees a tree as a gift and so on.
How did this process work?
The customer bought several trees that we offered via a landing page on our website. Customers such as, the employees, winners of the promotion, etc., ended up on this landing page. Here they entered their zip code, house number and unique promotional code and were then delivered a tree at home. With these deals we sold thousands of trees in 1 period and our efforts were limited to some emails and phone calls to complete the negotiation and agreements.
The products you sell may not be suitable for such a promotion. But what I want to say with it is that there are often interesting angles for selling your products. This does not require a minute of SEO, no mailing list, no ads in Google, LinkedIn or Facebook: just an offline deal in your webshop.
Whatever your product is: think of ways to sell your product differently. As a gift, gift, promotional gift or make a subscription out of it. Do you sell consumables to companies? Connect your webshop to their ERP / stock system and determine together with your customer what the minimum stock should be. Have a developer write a script to place automatic orders based on the rules that you have agreed with your client and make it easier for you and your client. They will never be without stock again, you a customer bound to you.
Your target group already exists; you don’t have to make it. Define. Write down who the people and / or organizations are (can) buy from you and make a mind map with all possible partners and stakeholders with whom you can collaborate.
Chances are that your ideal customers are already doing business with companies that are complementary to you. Make use of this. Make sure that you create a win-win situation for both partners / stakeholders and the customer.
Online Marketing Basics.
Strange that I haven’t said much about SEO, Google Ads and Facebook yet?
Not if you consider that even without online marketing I have had success with various web shops. In a world where everyone focuses on the same keywords in the search engines and everyone places more or less the same on the same social media channels, you will not stand out by copying. So the key is creativity. Do something that others in your industry have not done before. Be unique.
Don’t you have to think about online marketing?
Of course it is; a well-functioning website and good online presence is also very important, but you must realize that it is not enough for rapid growth. Well, that point has been made. We will now look at the basics for online marketing in e-commerce.
Ask customers for reviews. Show visitors that your other customers are satisfied. Or not … a negative review does not necessarily have to be bad for the sale of the product. This allows you to further improve your product and/or service, so you build an even stronger product. In addition, it is unbelievable if every customer gives a 5-star review. There will always be customers who are not completely satisfied. And that is not bad at all! You only learn from this.
If you are going to use reviews, make sure you collect enough reviews before you put the reviews online. 4 reviews of 5 stars say nothing at all. My advice: collect between 20 and 30 reviews before they are put online and try to prepare them as much as possible.
Use the (free) Google Tools.
As a search engine, Google is known to almost everyone, but did you know that Google offers quite a few free tools? These tools have helped me enormously as an entrepreneur and/or webshop owner. But which tools are all there?
Google Tag Manager.
Google Tag Manager is a handy tool from Google to manage all your tags and to measure them from your website. By setting Tags you can easily see if the correct buttons and forms are being measured. Do you want to use Google Tag Manager like me? In this article about Google Tag Manager, you can read step by step how you can best organize Google Tag Manager.
Google Search Console.
Another important free tool from Google is the Google Search Console. With Google Search Console you keep track of the presentations of your website. In storage, you can see which pages are, but certainly also which pages are not found. Furthermore, the link building of your website can be viewed quickly and clearly, you can see at a glance how fast your webshop is and you can see if your website has problems with the security of your website.
Google My Business.
Google My Business is the next free tool from Google that offers webshop owners many possibilities. you determine, namely with Google My Business, which data is shown to leads that search for my webshop. By filling in the information as completely as possible, I increase the chance that my company will be displayed on Google. This applies not only to the Google search function but also to Google Maps. This allows leads who live in your area to find the webshop quickly and easily. Add here the opening times, location, telephone number and a number of products and make sure that your webshop is displayed correctly in Google.
The A / B testing tool from Google, Google Optimize. Ideal for testing which option works best and offers the best results. I often asked myself what would happen if a small adjustment were to be made. then I looked with Google Optimize what the difference was if I did adjust the color and if I kept the color that way. Here I found that the new color resulted in much more conversion, so it’s good that I tested it. Experiment until you have the desired result. For example, experiment with these ideas:
- experiment with the color of your order button;
- experiment with the text of your order button;
- experiment with product titles and category names;
Optimize for mobile.
Mobile visitor percentage of 50% or higher are the rule rather than the exception. Ensure a perfect mobile user experience, from navigation to search function and from product overview to the shopping cart. Everything must be visible and functional on the mobile version of my webshop. In my webshop I used a lot of photos and videos because they were not visible on the mobile version, I disabled them. Safari offers an ideal way to see if your webshop is mobile-friendly or not. Open Safari → Development → User-Agent. Choose the size of the webshop here. You can now see for yourself what your website looks like when it is opened with a telephone, iPad, etc. Now you get a clear picture of what your website looks like when it is opened with the mobile and you can adjust your website accordingly.
Link building is not dead or useless. However, the time when completely random links worked in your favor is long gone. These days, the origin of the link is looked into. Websites that are less important according to Google get a lower score than the websites that according to Google are important and relevant. This is translated to a Page authority. A score with which Google determines how important and relevant they think a website is.
So it has become enormously important to look at the relevant page on which you want to place a link to your website. The more you use a bad-scoring website, the lower Google will place your website, because the links come from less important websites.
Link building can, therefore, improve findability, but it can certainly also reduce it. So pay attention when you start Link building. In my opinion, the best way to start with this is to look at the link building of direct competitors. Because if your competitors there have a link to their website, you naturally want that to your website.
This is possible in two ways. Internal link building and external link building. Briefly, the internal link building is about the link structure on your website. How many links per page refer to other pages on your website? With external link building, it is about the links that are on other websites and that link to your website. It is therefore important that you use both methods.
There are several points that you should pay attention to when you start using Link building:
- Only use relevant websites;
- Make sure that link building is gradual. It is better to add 5 times 20 links than 100 in one go;
- Varier in content on external website;
- Link yourself to important and good-scoring websites;
- Remove dead links and repair broken links.
With the word influencers you may soon think of teenagers with flashy YouTube channels, Instagram accounts with thousands of followers and Kardashian-like scenes and you are not waiting for all that. At least I had that idea. Do not delete the term influencers from your dictionary: it can yield a lot to you. But how do you use it well?
Before you even start working with an influencer, it is useful to first get a clear picture of what kind of influencer you can use best. To get a good idea of this, create a spreadsheet and put 25 – 50 of your best customers in it. View their activity on social media and research the following:
- On which platform are they mainly active? (LinkedIn, Instagram, TikTok?)
- Who do they follow, which pages, brands or influential people do they follow?
- Which hashtags do they use/follow?
- Which groups/communities do they belong to?
Write this down and look for patterns. Are there specific platforms that keep coming back? Are there important people in your industry who are often followed by your most important customers? Which hashtags are used a lot in the industry you are in? Are there special groups/communities that are specifically focused on your industry? Then make a list of the most important targets and approach them for collaboration.
Not every visitor places an order immediately. Create a retargeting campaign to allow visitors to come into contact with the product (s) they viewed for 30 days after your website visit.
Pro tip: make a distinction between low intent and high intent. Visitors who have viewed your site or a product for just a few seconds are generally less interested than visitors with a higher score. The people with a lower score logically have a lower chance that they will return to your website than visitors with a high score.
It is incredibly easy to apply. All you have to do is add a small code to your website so that when visitors come to your website, they are followed over the internet for a certain time and these visitors place an advertisement every so often. get to see your website. With this, you remind the visitor that he/she has previously searched for that product on your website. and offers you the visitor the opportunity to go directly to the product by clicking on the advertisement.
You can also use affiliate marketing. This allows you to place advertisements on your website that link to a specific website on which the product is offered. When a visitor buys a product through your advertisement on the website in question, you will receive a reimbursement because the visitor has purchased a product through your advertisement at the website in question with which you have an affiliate contract.
Do you have a website that sells products? Then if I were you I would start using Price tracking tools. With these tools, you get a quick and clear insight into the prices of your competitors. Since most online shoppers go for the lowest price, it is extremely important to clearly identify the competition. This way you know whether you have priced your products in the right way or whether you need to update the price. Pricesearch offers the solution for most websites. Does your webshop use EAN / bar codes? Then you can quickly and easily see which prizes your competitors are using. You can also gain insight into new competitors. Ideal anyway! So much better than those long excel lists and searching for price changes yourself.
With many purchases, the user wants to know in advance what he/she can expect from the product. Watching videos is an important tool here. This is because the customer can not only read what he can expect from the product but also immediately see how you can best use the product and what is possible with the product. Please note that the videos do not last too long. Be clear and keep it short. Just give the necessary explanation and leave the rest for what it is.
So make videos of the products you sell and do this in the review form. Honest reviews of your products with the advantages and disadvantages of the product. You may think, why should I talk negatively about your own product? Because every product has its advantages and disadvantages and the customer sooner or later finds out. It exudes more confidence if you talk honestly about your own products than you praise the product while it is not functioning properly at all.
Making your videos interactive is next-level. With an interactive video, you let the viewer of the video make choices within a video. The customer determines what he/she will see. This is done by using a menu structure and selection buttons so that the viewer can click on the selection button so that he/she gets to see what he/she wants to see.
But how can you apply this yourself?
Do you want to use interactive videos yourself? I see it’s super cool too! But there is more to it than simply recording a movie and making it interactive through software. First, you have to think about what kind of video you are going to make. Who is the target group and what is the goal that you want to achieve with the video? When you have clearly stated this on paper, you are ready for the next phase.
In the next phase, you will look for a software package with which you want to make your video interactive. A few examples are Wistia, VixyVideo, BlueBillyWig and HapYak. You can also opt for the free version of YouTube. Please note that you are limited in the options here.