As a new online business owner, you might have heard industry experts or peers talk about optimizing your website. In the initial days of e-commerce, it was enough to just build your online store and watch as customers flocked in. However, with increasing competition, making your website stand out has become imperative for its success. This is where optimization comes in. It is a series of processes that maximize the chances of your website being indexed by search engines, thus making your business more visible to a larger audience. The processes involved are varied and address different aspects of your website.
Essentially, optimizing your online store is an exercise to increase and attract more traffic. Only when the number of unique visitors increases, will you be able to convert them into increased sales. Increased traffic also gives you more leads which can be used for future campaigns.
So, how do you go about optimizing your Shopify store? As mentioned before, optimization involves a series of processes that addresses various aspects of your website. Here, we discuss these different processes and how you can set your Shopify website up for maximum success.
As you continue to build, customize, and add new themes to your Shopify store, the speed of the store will fall. Numerous studies have shown that neither customers nor search engines like websites that have a low speed. You might feel like you are stuck – you do not want to give up on speed, but you also do not want to compromise on the functionality of your store. The good news is that there are several processes you can employ in order to boost the speed of your website.
Optimizing Images Using heavy images can drastically affect the speed of your website, particularly if your store depends on using product images. However, you can optimize the images before you upload them using one of the many free tools available for this exact process. This will help save a large amount of data.
Choose a Fast Theme Not all themes are made alike and there are some themes that are faster than others. If you are serious about reducing the load times on your website, then opt for a theme that is fast. You can test the theme with Google PageSpeed Insight and learn where and how it is lagging and choose one that is faster.
Must be Device-Responsive Gone are the days when customers had only desktops to use for online shopping. With the proliferation of mobile devices, it is imperative that your theme is optimized accordingly. It should recognize the device being used and serve up the most appropriate image sizes.
Manage the Apps Installed One of the Best features of the Shopify platform is the range and depth of apps available to increase the functionality of your store. It is tempting to go all out and install an app from every category. This will only slow your store down. However, it is important that you take a detached look at the apps you are using and remove the ones that do not add value.
Better Server Response Time Be sure to check the server response time. Ideally, it should be less than 200ms. There are a plethora of apps available online to check the same. You can gain insight into where and why you might be experiencing any lags.
How to measure speed: Using Google PageSpeed Insights Google’s PageSpeed Insights measures and reports on the performance of websites on both mobile and desktop devices. The report can be used to improve areas that are causing a lag in your website. PSI’s report gives your website an overall performance score based on the lab data. A score of 90 and above is considered fast while 50 to 90 is moderate. Anything below 50 is slow.
Your store is set up and your products are primed to be sold and shipped to whichever part of the world your customer is. But you notice that there are no sales on your site while your products may be moving on other third-party shopping platforms. The reason for this could be that customers vary of new businesses who may or may not deliver quality products on time, every time. New business owners around the world face the dilemma of being able to showcase their credibility.
Share the human side of your business Customers find it easier to trust a human rather than a faceless business. Take the opportunity to showcase the human side, the story of the people behind the brand, of your business. You can relegate this to the About Us page or incorporate it into the structure and marketing of your business.
Build relationships through content Leverage content marketing to create relationships with your customers. Posting blogs centred around your products shows the audience that you are knowledgeable and are invested in your industry. Engaging with your audience also shows that you care about their experience.
Show customers that security of their information is your priority Protecting your customers’ private information is key to gaining trust. Use an added layer of protection in the form of a security app and display the security badge prominently.
Make yourself available for customer inquiries There is nothing more frustrating than having a customer service team that ignores a buyer’s queries. No matter how menial or obvious the answer, make sure that you have a system in place to answer any and all queries. Customers want to deal with a business that is responsible and on top of things.
Provide detailed product information Detailed product information leads to more sales. Customers like to know what they are buying exactly. This makes sense they do not have the opportunity to pick up and look at your products like they would be able to in a physical store. Mention the dimensions, the weight, ingredients, warranty information, and individual features.
Use an FAQ page to address buying concerns The FAQ page should be leveraged to continue telling the story of your brand through the lens of how you run your business. A good FAQ page will alleviate any qualms about purchasing while also giving an insight into the logistics of the business.
Gone are the days when businesses could get away by providing a customer experience that is just satisfactory. Customers are looking to be delighted, in that they want their needs, wishes and interests met almost perfectly. While it costs five times as much to get a new customer, most companies are not providing enough for existing customers to keep returning.
If you fall into the trap of lowering your prices over and over again in order to retain customers or provide delight, you will find yourself in a never-ending battle with bigger companies who can produce similar products or services for the fraction of the cost. Instead, you can try these options:
A free gift Who doesn’t love a free gift? Delight your customers by offering a small gift for free. You do not even have to advertise this. An unexpected gift is going to delight far more than something that might be mistaken for a marketing gimmick.
A thank you note A great way to establish a relationship with your customer is to send a well-worded thank you note. A personalised, hand-written note is the best way to do this.
Proactive customer service Customer service shouldn’t just be a method to fix issues. Get ahead of the curve and streamline a proactive customer service that puts the customer first.
Anticipate your customer’s needs before they even arise Letting customers know when their order has been shipped or if there are any delays in transit before they can reach out to you lets them know that their patronage is important. There are several other ways in which you can integrate your customers’ needs into your business:
Use analytics Use the data generated from other buyers or a customers’ particular purchasing history in order to make suggestions or recommendations.
Make sure customers can share their ideas with you Customers need to know that they are valued. This includes their opinions on your products and business. Have space where customers can share their ideas with you. This could be as simple as product reviews or a Contact Us form.
Provide self-help resources This is where a robust and well-constructed FAQ page comes into play. It can help customers find answers to any general queries they might have.
The turnaround time to customer queries/issues In the situation where a customer reaches out to your business with a query or issue, you should make sure that the turnaround time is as minimal as possible. There is nothing more frustrating than having to wait for days when there is an issue with an order.
Creating a unique look and vibe is half the battle fought. Brand recollection is extremely important if you want to keep attracting repeat customers. Your brand needs to reflect the core values of the business.
Logo & Branding A powerful and memorable logo is one of the most basic requisites when you are creating a brand. Do not skimp on this step and compare your logo to the competition.
Design and User experience The UI/UX experience should continue the story or personality of your brand forward. A generic UI is not going to cut it if you want your business to turn into a brand.
Purchase experience Your business needs to tell a consistent story with a recognisable identity across all channels. This has to be present even during purchase which needs to be seamless and bug-free.
Brand storytelling The story of your brand should be presented such that it elicits a real and authentic emotional response. Just throwing out facts and numbers might, at best, be ignored, at worst, alienate your audience. Take the space and time to tell a story that interests people.
The average order value refers to the amount of money you spend each time an order is made on your online store. It is calculated by dividing your total revenue by the total number of customers. A lower average order value means that you are making more money per customer.
Provide product recommendations Big retailers like Amazon follow this module of recommending products which could result in higher purchase value. Optimize your site to offer recommendations either based on the product or data from other customers.
Upsell or cross-sell products Recommending products that are related to the product in the customer’s cart is known as cross-selling. For example, if a customer has added a notebook to their cart, you can recommend a pack of pens. Upselling refers to recommending a slightly more expensive product, with more value to the customer, that is similar to the product in the cart.
Set order minimums for a discount Everyone loves a discount and we are wired to look for steals. With a minimum order qualification for a discount, you will find that more customers will boost their order value in order to reach the threshold necessary for the discount.
Bundle products or create packages This strategy combines cross-selling and discounts to entice customers into spending more than they intended to. Recognise which products can be bundled together and offer it as a recommendation.
Abandoned cart recovery Many times, shoppers will decide against buying the products in their cart. A well-timed email reminder of their abandoned cart has time and time again resulted in a sale. You can use an app to optimize your abandoned cart recovery message and timing.
Shopify already has many in-built features that make your website SEO friendly. However, there are several more steps you can take to ensure that your website is high up on the rankings of search engines.
Source: Shopify site structure
Improve the User Experience A better UX with increased speed and responsive design will keep your visitors engaged for longer. The time spent on a website is an important factor that Google uses to assign value to a website.
Optimize Your Shopify Products Pages Once you are clear about which keywords are to be used, be sure to populate your most popular products page, homepage, and main products collections page with these keywords.
Build Links to Your Store Creating a network of backlinks signals to Google that your website is being talked about even off-page. You can use mentions, links with vendors and suppliers, or influencers to create such a network.
Rank Higher With Content Marketing Content marketing gives you an opportunity to create more backlinks and keywords. Original content will go a long way in improving your online store’s SEO ranking.
Optimizing your online store is an important step in ensuring its success. The optimization process is an ongoing one and you must stay on top of trends in order to keep your website high up on the search engine rankings. However, while it might involve several processes, optimization is not difficult or expensive if you make the right choices.
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