Ecommerce Marketing – The BigCommerce Blog Ecommerce Blog delivering news, strategy and success stories to power 2x growth for scaling brands. Fri, 15 Jun 2018 16:19:41 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Ecommerce Marketing – The BigCommerce Blog 32 32 How to Use Single Keyword Ad Groups (SKAGs) to Drive Highly Relevant, Highly Targeted PPC Traffic Tue, 12 Jun 2018 14:46:05 +0000 Whether single keyword ad groups (SKAGs) are old news or a new find to you, they’re quickly becoming a well-known…]]>

Whether single keyword ad groups (SKAGs) are old news or a new find to you, they’re quickly becoming a well-known best practice for PPC account setup.

First, what are the main benefits for ecommerce managers and brands?

Why SKAGs Are Important for Ecommerce Brands

There are quite a few different ways to organize your campaigns when it comes to AdWords, so you’ll want to make sure you’re using what’s been proven to work.

Certain types of campaigns call for certain types of audiences and ad groups.

But in the world of PPC, where bids and clicks slowly chip away at your ad budget with every drop of traffic, it’s important you keep campaigns focused.

Focused on what?

Focused on generating traffic that’s going to generate the highest ROI.

You can’t afford to be wasting ad spend on keyword bids that are generating low intent traffic by targeting too large an audience.

The “larger audiences” I’m referring to here are the ones brought in by the many search queries tied to broader keyword match types that are plaguing your ad groups — or what we at KlientBoost call the “Iceberg Effect.”

An example of the Iceberg Effect — look at how some of the queries really differ from the keyword. – image source

The image above shows how most of the search terms that are triggering the ad are completely irrelevant to what the ad is offering. Broad match keywords are typically part of the problem.

The ad is specific to the keyword “file for bankruptcy” but not all these queries come from people with the same intent or interest level.

This isn’t going to do anything good for your click-through-rates (CTR), which – in turn – will hurt your Quality Score as well.

These wasteful campaigns drain your ad spend without generating actual conversions and revenue.

Basically, they’re just throwing your ad budget on the pyre and hoping for solid traffic.

But don’t worry…

There’s a better way. And the way is: Single Keyword Ad Groups (SKAGs).

SKAGs organize your campaigns into highly targeted and highly relevant ad groups to boost ad relevance, Quality Score, and CTR.

So, from the original masterminds behind SKAGs, here’s why you need to start using them in your own AdWords campaigns (and how to set them up).

What Are Single Keyword Ad Groups?

As I previously mentioned, SKAGs are a way of segmenting your ad groups by keywords to maximize their relevance.

This in turn improves other metrics that help lower your cost-per-click (CPC) and improve your CTR.

Let’s take a look at an average ad group first, so we have a baseline for comparison:

adwords account structure

Here’s a basic ad group setup, using multiple keywords, – image source

You can see in the previous report about filing for bankruptcy the search terms and keywords don’t ever match up, which is a big no-no.

If you don’t know the difference:

  • A keyword is how AdWords manages what you bid on and what keywords trigger your ads.
  • A search term is what the user actually types into the search bar (after all, you’re advertising to humans here, not Google).

search queries versus keywords

Search term versus keywords – image source

If you have too many keywords within an ad group, not all of them are going to be a perfect match for the search term or ad you’re serving.

You want to cut down your keyword:search term ratio to be as low as possible. Ideally, a 1:1 ratio.

Building your ad groups around keywords that match search terms rather than several keywords you’re taking a guess at via SKAGs will help improve the relevance of your ads by minimizing the keywords that trigger your ads.

Your ads may show to a smaller audience, but it will be isolated to users entering only search terms that are relevant to your ads.

Which is exactly what we’re looking for: highly relevant traffic with the highest likelihood of converting.

That’s how you maximize the ROI of your PPC campaigns.

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How To Set Up Single Keyword Ad Groups

Now that we’ve addressed what SKAGs are in an abstract sense, let’s take a tangible look at how to set them up.

For continuity’s sake, let’s use the same example as the ordinary ad group that I referenced earlier.

The original ad group included the following keywords:

  • Skinny Jeans
  • Women’s Skinny Jeans

The screenshot above shows these keywords were triggered by a myriad of different search terms — some relevant, some not.

The search terms triggered:

  • Seven brand skinny jeans
  • Skinny jeans juniors
  • Skinny jeans sale
  • Size 6 skinny jeans gap
  • White cropped skinny jeans
  • Women’s skinny jeans
  • Skinny jeans for women
  • Women’s size 2 skinny jeans

If we have one keyword and one match type, that’s extremely limiting.

By using different match types, you can still have a 1:1 ratio without limiting relevant traffic too much.

We use three for every keyword in every ad group that I will note below.

Keyword Match Types

For starters, each SKAG is built around a root keyword. This is the primary keyword that you’re trying to target.

So, for the example we’ve been using, the root keyword would be “Skinny Jeans.

However, if you only build an ad group around this keyword and rely on the default Broad Match, you’ll notice quite a large keyword:search term ratio (or Iceberg Effect).

That’s because, of all the keyword match types, broad match has the largest Iceberg Effect.

iceberg effect graphic

The Iceberg Effect in an abstract sense (don’t be the Titanic). – image source

Which means that your ads will be triggered for the largest audience, but not necessarily the most relevant.

keyword match types

The hierarchy of Match Types by Iceberg Effect – image source

To build an effective SKAG, you need to use all the different match types (except broad match) to mitigate the Iceberg Effect as much as possible.

Therefore, a SKAG targeting the same keyword as the original ad group would look something like this:

  • +keyword+1 (broad match modifier)
  • “keyword 1” (phrase match)
  • [keyword 1] (exact match)

Using these keyword match types will help adjust your ad group to monopolize a singular search term (your root keyword).

adwords editor

Entering a SKAG into AdWords – GIF source

How Match Types Work

Your broad match modifier will trigger your ads for any relevant long tail versions of your keyword, no matter the order.

On the other hand, your phrase match has to include the keyword(s) in the order you’ve put them in, but can include additional keywords (as long as they don’t impact order of main keyword).

And exact match keywords are just as it sounds, no additional keywords can be added — it is what it is.

We keep our single keyword ad group flexible by having various match types for that one keyword.


Considering that the basic logic behind SKAGs is that granular segmentation improves performance, you might find yourself thinking about segmenting your ad groups even further.

The drawback here is that SKAGs already dilute your audience quite a bit, which makes testing difficult.

Further diluting your audience by splitting your SKAG into three distinct ad groups based on match type will making testing nearly impossible.

Segmenting by just one keyword is enough on its own.

The Benefits Of Single Keyword Ad Groups

We’ve addressed the value of SKAGs – what they are and how to set them up – but what are the real benefits of this AdWords strategy?

Granular Campaign View

Well, for starters, it gives you a clean, granular overview of your campaigns that makes further adjustments and optimization easy.

You may have to deal with a large number of ad groups in any given campaign, but it’s easier to see each ad group’s performance — because you’re not having to figure out which keywords are performing the best within that ad group (just what match types).

The easier your tracking is, the easier optimization is.

But a clearer picture of your campaigns isn’t the only benefit of slicing up your accounts into SKAGs.

The real benefits come from SKAGs’ ability to improve your ads actual performance.

And that comes from the improved relevance of your ads.

single keyword ad group tweet

Our favorite quote from our original SKAGs article via Unbounce – image source

Relevance, Quality Score, & Expected CTR

The leading benefit of SKAGs is that, once you have tapered down your keyword:search term ratio, you’re able to create ridiculously specific ads for your target audience.

When you start matching a keyword to search terms in a more 1:1 way with highly specific ad text, your CTR can skyrocket.

This is because you don’t have multiple keywords all battling one another to be relevant to a single ad you’ve created.

Effectively, SKAGs cut down the ratio between search term to keyword, and from keyword to ad.

And the more specific you get in both areas, the mores success you’re going to see.

ad text relevance

Hyper relevant ad example from the original SKAG post – image source

Creating hyper-relevant ads like the one above will in turn increase the Quality Score of your ads.

Quality Score is somewhat of a Google black box, but you can rest assured that relevance has something to do with it.

The increased relevance of your ads will actually have a two-fold effect:

  1. Increased Quality Score
  2. Higher Expected CTR

Now, because Google gets paid each time your ads are clicked, the higher your expected CTR, the more Google will like your ads.

And what’s your reward? A lower CPC for your campaigns.

This is great news — it literally means you are paying less for more traffic which also has a higher conversion intent.

That’s what we call a win-win-win.

Optimizing & Expanding Single Keyword Ad Groups

The last – and one of the best – benefits of single keyword ad groups is that optimization is so easy, and helps merchants identify what products or services are doing well.

SKAGs are essentially built self-optimized because of their use of the three different keyword match types.

Instead of continually updating your ad groups with new long-tail variations, you can rely on your broad match modifier to trigger your ads when you want.

All you need to do to optimize your SKAGs is to check-in to your Search Term Report to eliminate any irrelevant search terms and/or identify potential new SKAGs.

search terms report

Here’s a GIF of what it looks like. – GIF source

For example, if you’re checking your SKAGs Search Term Report weekly, you may find new search terms that are related to your root keyword, but carry a different level of intent.

For these, you can add them to an ad group to create a new SKAG that monopolizes that search term.

The Importance of a Negative Keyword List

However, first, you must add them to your original SKAG’s negative keyword list. This way, your original SKAG’s audience will grow even smaller and thus even more relevant.

You don’t want to compete against your own ads.

Remember, while you may have an urge to maximize the reach of your ads to engage with the largest audience possible, the golden rule of effective PPC is that a smaller audience is actually better.

single keyword ad group adwords layers

More targeting layers make a smaller audience, which is a good thing. – image source

Merchants can use this technique to see which of their products or services are doing well in their AdWords account.

Ad groups that outperform their counterparts in the campaign can be broken out into their own campaigns with a dedicated budget, and the previous campaign’s budget can also be adjusted accordingly.

SKAGs allows you to better track your products’ or services’ ROI and improve your AdWords strategy around your various products and services.

Executive Summary: More Granularity is a Good Thing

So what’s the magic behind single keyword ad groups?

What makes them so vital to your AdWords campaigns?

The answer is simple: If you pay for every click of traffic you generate, you only want to generate clicks for highly relevant, high intent traffic.

And that’s exactly what SKAGs segmentation achieves.

The smaller your audience, the more you’re able to create highly relevant ad content/copy that yields more clicks at lower costs.

Those are some figures that I think any ppc marketer can get behind when building successful adwords campaign.

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The Results Are In: The 22 Best Ecommerce Website Designs of 2018 Tue, 05 Jun 2018 12:50:56 +0000 Your owned online site experience is your one chance to prove your brand value to your customers. And to give…]]>

Your owned online site experience is your one chance to prove your brand value to your customers.

And to give those customers a reason to keep buying from your ecommerce website channel, and not from your Amazon channel (where you lose out on brand equity and customer lifetime value).

Add to that the fact that 48% of online product searches in the U.S. begin on Amazon, and that you aren’t the only store selling in your vertical – and you begin to understand just competitive the visibility market is.

Amazon is best-in-class at convenience and price. CrazyEgg recently outlined exactly what it is about Amazon beyond price and convenience (though convenience cuts through the entire Amazon experience) that keeps customers the engaged.

Those reasons include:

  • Amazon gets personal.
  • Checkout is easy.
  • Social proof – lots of it.
  • Products images, videos, and descriptions.
  • Upselling and cross-selling.
  • Convenient filtering, navigation, and search.

But tons of people forgo Amazon to shop ion branded website channels.

In a Digital Commerce 360 study, consumer reported the following reasons for why they shop on branded websites over Amazon:

  • They want a sense of belonging.
  • They seek knowledgeable staff members.
  • They want easy return policies.

It’s clear:

If you want users to visit and buy from your site – where you can control the post-sale user experience, unlike on Amazon – you need a conversion driven design that makes your visitors feel like they are part of a community and can trust you.

To guide and inspire you to do just this, we’ve gathered 22 best-of-the-best online site designs by both traditional retailers and digital native retailers alike.

These sites capture a visitors’ attention, provide a sense of belonging and community, and drive increased sales MoM.

These stores were judged by a panel of judges, including:

The winning sites and finalists fell into the following 4 categories:

  1. Best Overall Ecommerce Website Design.
  2. Best New Ecommerce Website Design.
  3. Best Ecommerce Homepage Design.
  4. Best Customer Experience Design.

Let’s dive in.

Best Ecommerce Site Designs of 2018
  1. New Chapter.
  2. Bliss World.
  3. BonBonBon.
  4. Crossrope.
  5. The Mountain.
  6. Skullcandy.
  7. TRUE linkswear.
  8. Decibullz.
  9. Cutter & Buck.
  10. Cruisemaster.
  11. JeepPeople.
  12. Azteca Soccer.
  13. Fronks.
  14. Zugu Case.
  15. Signal Boosters.
  16. Physiq Apparel.
  17. Scentos.
  18. Rusty Surfboards.
  19. Home Science Tools.
  20. Customer Barres.
  21. KOI Computers.
  22. Renogy.

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Best Overall Ecommerce Website Design

The best overall ecommerce website design is awarded to sites that succeed in creating a great user experience, branding consistency, mobile responsive and friendly UX, and quick checkout.

1. New Chapter.

  • Best Overall Design Winner

ecommerce design awards New Chapter

New Chapter, a P&G brand, mimics digital native brand functionality in terms of innovation and consumer engagement on their site.

From quizzes to bundles and everything in between, New Chapter provides a personalized, choose-your-own-adventure experience for its customers and prospects.

They’ve also employed rigourous A/B testing to create the best possible user experience.

According to the New Chapter team:

In less than one year, our store has gone from a $0 brand website to a thriving, seven-figure channel, due to our extraordinary site design.

Conversion optimizations have increased from a launch state of approximately 0.4% to almost 2% through our use of iterative testing.

Judge Richard Lazazzera on New Chapter’s Winning Overall Design

Richard Lazazzera

New Chapter’s content and education focused approach really helps visitors understand the benefits of their products.

Plus, they’ve employed a great use of categorization, allowing the visitor to select supplements based on health needs or ingredients.

2. Bliss

  • Best Overall Design Finalist

ecommerce design awards Blissworld

Bliss has taken its fun, youthful and energizing in-spa and product feel to their online channel.

Using bright colors, fun graphics and even gifs, the site encourages you to explore, engage and buy.

Judge Kelly Wenzel on Bliss World’s Overall Design

Kelly Wenzel

This site has a fresh, beautiful and engaging overall design. My favorite attribute is the color pallet and photography.

From the layout to the color pallet and imagery, the design complements the brand promise that inner happiness leads to outward beauty.

3. Bon Bon Bon.

  • Best Overall Design Finalist

ecommerce design awards Bon Bon Bon

Bon Bon Bon is an artisan chocolate company based out of Detroit that is full of spirit and swagger.

When looking to expand their brick-and-mortar presence online, Bon Bon Bon needed complete customization and flexibility to showcase their creativity and engage online consumers.

An original Shopify site failed to allow for necessary customizations and thus revenue goals. A platform switch and redesign by BigCommerce partner Brand Labs helped the Bon Bon Bon team attain their visual and UX goals.

According to the Bon Bon Bon team:

Brand Labs, working with Skidmore Studios in Detroit, created a funky, user friendly BigCommerce site that captures the spirit of the BonBonBon product, the Babes Babes Babes (a rad group of ladies, keeping hand-u-facturing alive in Detroit), and of course the chocolate.

The team also created a great custom option called: Build a Box Box Box.

This feature allows customers to select their favorite confections, add them to the corrugated cardboard box, and deliver them wherever they want.

They can even Add one Random Bon! for fun.

The ability to create and design a website experience unique for their clientele is what keeps this fun-loving brand top of mind for chocolate aficionados.

From the Bon Bon Bon team:

Launching in November 2017 in the nick of time for the holiday season, Bon Bon Bon saw an astounding 415% increase in year over year sales from launch through the holiday season.

The next big test came with Valentine’s day where saw almost a 6% conversion rate resulting in a 74% increase in year over year sales.

Judge Tom Berno on Bon Bon Bon’s Overall Design

Tom Berno

This is an energetic and personable site that does an excellent job of going beyond a template feel.

It tells a great story of a Detroit DIY company!


4. Crossrope.

  • Best Overall Design Finalist

ecommerce design awards CrossRope

Crossrope is one of several fitness online retailers under the MadDogg Athletics umbrella, which has a presence in 89 countries and selling products to 169 distributors across the globe.

It’s a complex commerce network that has been in the making for more than two decades.

This kind of workout phenomenon is more culture than simply product –– and the Crossrope website aims to tell that story throughout the site.

The Crossrope team describes their process:

We don’t just sell jump ropes. We provide our community with a fun and unique jump rope experience that they’ve never seen before – one that is designed to help them achieve their fitness results.

Over the past year, we’ve leveraged a tremendous amount of resources to design a website that is inviting, fun, and different than what most fitness shoppers are accustomed to.

We’ve been meticulous with every word of copy, every image, every page, and every design element because we know that each is a touch point that that plays a crucial part in the experience we are trying to deliver to our customers.

The goal was to create a website that allows fitness enthusiast to find a community of support as they work toward their health goals.

Judge Chris Coyier on Crossrope’s Overall Design

Chris Coyier

They really have me interested in buying one of these things!

The site couldn’t be more clear what the product is and how to buy it.



5. The Mountain.

  • Best Overall Design Finalist

The Mountain found initial success on Amazon but realized it would need a place where it could cultivate and engage with its audience online, and build brand equity.

They needed their own website.

“In 2008, one of our t-shirt designs, the ‘Three Wolf Moon’ shirt, skyrocketed in popularity and its Amazon review went viral.” Said Lindsey Reis, Marketing Manager at The Mountain

“It became clear that we needed a website.”

The Mountain does a great job providing customers an easy way to navigate their site, and provides a sense of urgency by including key coupon codes for certain customer segments.

According to Lindsey Reis:

Our customers love to save money, but we try to be strategic about our offers, what items we’re discounting, to whom, and how often – all while prioritizing our most loyal shoppers. Because of this, we need specific tools to successfully execute our promotions.

With BigCommerce, we can easily create unique coupon codes, which we are using to instill urgency and drive our customers more quickly to the point of purchase.

Judge Richard Lazazzera on The Mountain’s Overall Design

Richard Lazazzera

It’s always a challenge organizing large numbers of products, but The Mountain does a great job with this, allowing visitors to quick drill down and find what they are looking for.


The Mountain increases month-over-month conversion rate by 33%.

In 30 days after launch on BigCommerce, The Mountain saw a jump in conversions! Read more about their story.

Best New Ecommerce Website Design

Some of the ecommerce sites below are brand new, online launches for the companies. Other of these sites are net new launches after a tedious experience with former platforms.

All of these brands launched on BigCommerce in the past 12 months – showcathsing the prowess of their design and UX in combination with complex ecommerce needs and functionality.

1. Skullcandy.

  • Best New Site Winner

ecommerce design awards skullcandy

Skullcandy’s site comes to life with great colors and product photography.

The design process and consideration of their audience was key to making a site that would stand out among the competition.

According to the Skullcandy team:

Skullcandy pushes the limits in everything they do from their products, their music, corporate culture and with no exception, the BigCommerce platform for their digital ecommerce channel.

A recent replatform effort launched in February. The design was also elevated to take advantage of more freedom within the BigCommerce platform.

Exploring the site, the ease and frictionless flow of the customer journey engages the user at every turn. Blending product with brand and brand with product, you gain a sense of the brand and quality of their products without effort.

Designed as a mobile-first experience in line with Skullcandy’s typical customer, the design is unmatched in delivering engaging imagery at lightning speed.

Judge Tom Berno on Skullcandy’s Winning Site Design

Tom Berno

This is a superior design that emulates an established brand.

The Backstage Pass stories are an excellent content feature that is engaging without a hard sell. Excellent photography and product presentation.

Overall, an excellent case study for what the BigCommerce platform offers at its best.

2. TRUE linkswear.

  • Best New SIte Finalist

ecommerce design awards TRUE LinksWear

TRUE linkswear saw a revenue increase of just under 700% YoY after they switched to BigCommerce and improved their site design.

According to Justin from TRUE linkswear:

In May of last year, we transitioned our site from Magento to BigCommerce.

We worked with a development firm to build a custom theme that allowed us to have all of specific functionality features we were looking for.

Our in house design team developed the look and feel of the site based on the design aesthetics that we were using to re-launch our brand

We couldn’t have achieved this without the backend toolkit that BigCommerce provides us.

Judge Chris Coyier on TRUE linkswear Site Design

Chris Coyier

I love a homepage that makes it 100% clear what the product is and why I should care.

This does it great.

Product pages are really nice, too. That’s a place where a carousel actually works.

Also, the blog posts are very well done and seem worth reading, which is rare for this kind of site! Kudos!

3. Decibullz.

  • Best New Site Finalist

Decibullz, with the help of design agency DigitalHaus, was able to take their website to the next level over the past year after switching to BigCommerce.

According to the Decibullz team:

As a manufacturer and brand, it is important that our website converts at a high rate as well as display education and information on our products and brand for possible resellers.

Our new website uses a balance of lifestyle, product photography, and video to help educate our customers.

After 1 month on BigCommerce, we have seen an increase of 35% in average order value and our conversion rate is up 6%.

One important factor when we switched was having a fast and reliable website while still being able to display large images and videos.

With the new website, our average page load time is down 21% and we are actually using more images and videos than we had on our old site.

We have not only increased sales on our site, we have made it easier for our customers to find our products in-store at retail locations.

Judge Kelly Wenzel on Decibullz Site Design

Kelly Wenzel

I appreciated the data-driven metrics linked to the design, like the consistent two buttons on each page.

The UX is simple and the photography is great, especially since it is persona-driven.

This is both a high function and a high aesthetic website design.

4. Cutter & Buck.

  • Best New Site Finalist

ecommerce design awards cutter and buck

Cutter & Buck created a shopping experience that:

  • Offers an easy navigation, shopping, and checkout.
  • Highlights the diversity of their collections.
  • Includess Fan Shop, Pro Shop, and other specialty collections.

This allows consumers to browse their site in a choose-your-own-adventure type way.

And gives their merchandising, social and campaigns teams plenty to work with in terms of branded campaigns across channels.

Judge Chris Coyier on Cutter & Buck Site Design

Chris Coyier

The homepage CTAs getting you to self-select men’s or women’s is smart.

Layering as a category is clever, too. The mega menus are good for a site with a lot of categories – and for good reason!

Overall, this is a great example of a strong, simple design and everything you’d want out of an ecommerce clothes shop (search, filtering, recommendations, etc).

5. Cruisemaster.

  • Best New Site Finalist

ecommerce design awards cruisemaster

Cruisemasters wanted to relaunch their brand and site with the goal of being more informative, rather than just showing a product with a price and add-to-cart.

This is most evident in the custom setup on the site’s suspensions page and other category pages.

According to Damien from Above and Beyond Web Design on behalf of the Cruise Masters team:

This site is quite complex, with a lot of moving parts and the customer wanted a much more information focussed product page. We also had a timeframe of only 5 weeks for completion.

The site is fully custom and responsive!

The product page is completely custom with multiple banners, captions and tabs but is able to be updated by the client using the Custom Fields section in BigCommerce.

We also set up a store locator and did store training as well.

Judge Richard Lazazzera on CruiseMaster Site Design

Richard Lazazzera

This is a great looking site and brand.

The product pages do a great job of highlighting benefits through feature banners/boxes.



6. JeepPeople.

  • Best New Site Finalist

ecommerce design awards jeeppeople

JeepPeople is a brand for Jeep enthusiasts and their site was designed with their customers in mind.

They are providing state of the art shopping features that help guide their customers through a personalized buying experience to ensure the parts they get fit with their Jeep.

This tactic has paid dividends for JeepPeople.

According to the JeepPeople team:

Designed and developed by Cart Designers, JeepPeople has moved from a broken shopping experience on the Shopify platform and increased their month over month conversion rate and sales revenue by 10.92% and 27.05% respectively.

The customer experience is also a big part of the personalized shopping experience.

A custom ‘Fits your Jeep’ indicator lets the customer see parts that work with their make / model throughout the website, and the ‘Install Difficulty’ rankings built into the product cards let the customer sort and understand the post-buy requirements to get their parts installed easily.

A custom ‘Timed Deals’ feature was built right into the Theme Editor of the site allowing for special flash sales to be generated for one or more products.

Reviewing results and building new customer-centric features is the primary growth strategy for JeepPeople as they implement a continuous improvement process via Cart Designers’ Growth-Driven Design process.

Judge Jimmy Duvall on JeepPeople’s Site Design

Jimmy Duval

I really like the “install difficulty” scale.

This site showcases solid featured products and brands, making it easy to find the right fit for your Jeep.



Best Ecommerce Homepage Design

Stuart McMillan, Deputy Head of Ecommerce at Schuh, says the average ecommerce site’s homepage generates about 30% of sessions.

This means you need to clearly convey your brand’s expertise, trustworthiness, and community quickly to this large cohort.

Optimizely provides a list of elements a great homepage should include, such as:

  1. A storytelling element.
  2. A Keep It Simple mentality (i.e. you don’t need to include *everything*).
  3. A video, if possible, to describe who you are and what your brand purpose is.
  4. Social proof from customers and publications.
  5. Merchandising options.

The following brands have done a great job of implementing these and other conversion optimization tactics on their homepages.

1. Azteca.

  • Best Homepage Design Winner

ecommerce design awards Azteca Soccer

Azteca Soccer’s homepage is alive with color and great product photography.

They allow users to browse by various categories or their top products quickly and easily on the homepage.

According to the Azteca team:

I decided to stay away from the norm ecommerce feel and provide a specialty/boutique feel. I focused on having .svg elements and maintaining high-res quality images.

Users will be able to navigate smoothly and find what they are looking for quicker.

Judge Richard Lazazzera on Azteca Winning Homepage Design

Richard Lazazzera

This site showcases great use of bright product photos combined with lifestyle shots encourages visitors to explore and click around.



2. Fronks.

  • Best Homepage Design Finalist

ecommerce design awards FRONKS

Fronks has a unique homepage that clearly shares who they are and the products they offer.

According to the Fronks team:

We used Stencil and partnered with a local Austin design Studio, Foda, to create a super simple, clean and modern site that exhibits the feel of the product and packaging.

Also, we have some fun interactive bits that give it a textile feel for the customer.

Judge Chris Coyier on Fronks Homepage Design

Chris Coyier

Intriguing! This is such a clean design. Them not showing me the whole bottle REALLY makes me want to click and see them.

The copy is wonderfully clear and explains exactly what the product/service is. They make nut milks and deliver them.

Perfect simple message.

3. Zugu Case.

  • Best Homepage Design Finalist

ecommerce design awards ZUGU CASE

Zugu Case uses a long format style homepage to share important product features, key value propositions, social proof, and more to encourage visitors to buy it’s product.

According to the Zugu Case team:

This is a unique design site built to showcase a small number of products in a big way.

Judge Richard Lazazzera on Zugu Case Homepage Design

Richard Lazazzera

Zugu Case’s homepage has all the elements of a great landing page.

The homepage showcases their products, features & benefits and provides social proof to help nudge visitors to become buyers.

4. Signal Boosters.

  • Best Homepage Design Finalist

ecommerce design awards Signal Boosters

Signal Boosters designed their homepage with its target audience in mind, aiming to answer their key questions as quickly as possible.

According to the Signal Boosters team:

We decided to redesign the website with the focus on business (instead of consumer) and service (instead of products).

The new site benefits from the new Stencil theme from BigCommerce which is more responsive than the old theme.

We saw a faster page loading time and a higher grade on Google Page Speed Insight.

The new design and development of are right on time for our business to grow and offer our customers better experience and information, backed by our analytics of data and business trends.

Judge Tom Berno on Signal Boosters Homepage Design

Tom Berno

Of all the finalists in this category, this is the only one that really clearly and effectively communicates who they are and what they do.

Strong use of illustration adds personality to a fairly technical product offering.

5. Physiq Apparel.

  • Best Homepage Design Finalist

ecommerce design awards Physiq Apparel

Physiq Apparel creates a homepage that guides visitors to the right shopping experience, and uses great lifestyle and product photography to convey its brand style.

According to the Physiq Apparel team:

We excel at what our customers really need.

A smooth customer experience, review backed products, social media implementations and innovative features such as bundled products and free chocolate at the shopping cart.

A lot of the work has involved building custom applications utilising the Bigcommerce API to achieve the functionality we want to offer our customers.

Judge Chris Coyier on Physiq Apparel Homepage Design

Chris Coyier

This site gets right into a product grid which is clean and makes it very obvious what I can do here: buy some athletic clothes.

Very little gets in the way.



Best Customer Experience

The customer experience includes the main ideas touched on earlier regarding non-amazon shoppers.

This is important for store owners to consider because a unique, great customer experience is what will help keep yours visitors and customers coming back.

Improving the customer experience was the driving factor in increasing more wins according to 42% of CEOs, from Gartner data.

There are several ways to improve the customers experience by using consumer data, and a few of our merchants have achieved this in some innovative ways.

1. Scentos.

  • Best Customer Experience Winner

ecommerce design awards scentos

Scentos’s UX finds balance between selling the product and cultivating the community.

According to the Scentos team:

We had never sold a single item online, but had a large retail presence globally.

Once joining BigCommerce we have started developing our ecommerce presence, including Amazon.

I believe that BigCommerce is allowing our site to grow into a landing page for children of all ages to have fun and feel creative!

Judge Chris Coyier on Scentos Customer Experience Winning Design

Chris CoyierThis site is wonderfully colorful in a way you don’t see often. Fits the brand!

I like the amount of content that isn’t just products, but stuff like projects you can do, which really sparks the imagination.

There’s lots of fun detail like the shaky and bulgy navigation, and it’s nicely tucked up top. It’s big and bold, but without taking up a ton of room.

2. Rusty Surfboards.

  • Best Customer Experience Finalist

ecommerce design awards rusty surfboards

Rusty Surfboards has a hard task: bridging beautiful imagery with the necessary details professional surfers want and need about their boards.

According to the Rusty Surfboards team:

We created a consistent branding experience throughout the website, using the bigcommerce platform and have seen an upward trajectory on all fronts, but more importantly, on the sales front.

Bigcommerce has given us great flexibility to work on the front-end and customer experience.

Judge Tom Berno on Rusty Surfboards Customer Experience Design

Tom Berno

Great photography and bold messaging make this an extremely well-designed site.



3. Home Science Tools.

  • Best Customer Experience Finalist

ecommerce design awards home science tools

Home Science Tools does a great job of guiding users to their desired projects/products based on their needs.

They also enable their customers to discover various science projects they can do with their families and students.

Both tactics have made a huge impact on their bottom-line.

According to the Home Science Tools team:

As a Magento Community customer, Home Science Tools enlisted Groove’s help to improve website performance and overall design.

After evaluating other mid-market ecommerce platforms and ways to reduce technical debt, Home Science Tools decided on a BigCommerce redesign.

Groove created a responsive and engaging site to showcase product categories and content, and introduced custom elements like Shop by Age and Gift Selector to help users quickly navigate to products that meet their needs.

Since launch, Home Science Tools has experienced a 50% increase in conversion rate, a 98% increase in mobile revenue, and a 20% increase in overall revenue year-over-year.

Judge Richard Lazazzera on Home Science Tools Customer Experience Design

Richard Lazazzera

Love the huge selection of products and concept.

Well organized categories make it easy to discover new projects and learn about different areas of science.


4. Custom Barres.

  • Best Customer Experience Finalist

ecommerce design awards custom barres

A beautiful homepage design is just the beginning. Custom Barres’ product page is a long-form landing page asset with a table of contents all its own.

From specs to imagery and beyond, this site showcases the best of dance and tool beauty.

Judge Tom Berno on Custom Barres Customer Experience Design

Tom BernoGood content with photos and a cool comparison tool!



5. KOI Computers.

  • Best Customer Experience Finalist

ecommerce design awards koi computer

KOI Computers wanted to improve their site experience for a technically driven target audience. This meant improving their site architecture and how they shared their value proposition.

According to the KOI Computers team:

The basic complaint was the high bounce rate and subsequent low calls and leads from the website.

Our designers took on the challenge to redesign the whole website and add helpful elements to overcome these issues.

We added a video on the homepage, a new style of accordion slider, and highlighted the solutions KOI Computers provided. These changes made a huge impact for us.

Judge Tom Berno on KOI Computers Customer Experience Design

Tom Berno

A well organized, consistent, and easy to navigate website.

While some aspects of visual design seem a bit familiar, the overall aesthetic does seem to be a good fit for its targeted audience.

6. Renogy.

  • Best Customer Experience Finalist

ecommerce design awards renogy

Renogy wants any visitor – whether new or returning, solar energy expert or novice – to find what they are looking for easily on their site.

To do that, they made sure to include key product information like:

  • Product photos that feature different angles and positions of their solar products.
  • Customer product reviews.
  • The option to view or download the product specifications, warrant, and instruction manuals.

This is done to provide customers with a 360 degree view of the product and drive conversions.

According to the Renogy team:

Renogy has used BigCommerce to provide customers with an engaging and attention-grabbing online shopping experience since 2016.

The homepage of the store showcases various products and offers that we believe customers would be most interested in.

Our online shoppers can find real customer photographs and reviews for our products.

Our visitors can immediately lock on a category of products, without having to search through the entire website. And, we have a more extensive product toolbar which is meant to assist customers who really know what they are looking for.

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16 Experts on Ecommerce Site Design

Andy Sowards, Founder + CEO,

It may sound cliche at this point, but the best approach is to keep it simple. Minimal interface design and streamlined calls to action are what make conversion happen.

In this day and age especially, people are strapped for time and mental real estate. Make it clear and simple for people to get the message you are trying to get across.

What are you selling? It should be apparent, and tantalizing, and most of all – EASY for them to say “YES” when it comes to your product or service.

Stick to the bare essentials and design accordingly with less. It sounds simple but striking the perfect balance between call to action, design, and product details can be quite difficult – but achievable.

Yates Jarvis, Managing Director, Client Solutions & Strategy, eHouse Studio

Conversion is really about satisfaction. Assuming usability is accounted for in your storefront, the key is to triple check with customers that your value prop is as relevant today as it was yesterday, and then use design and content to spotlight the celebration of that story.

Zach Bluett, Director of Design & Development, Intuit Solutions

Ecommerce design is not ‘one-size-fits-all’. Create a user experience that focuses on your specific product dffering by asking yourself, “What information does my customer need in order to make a purchase, and at what step in the process?”

Kevin Richards, Founder & CEO, Ventura Web Design

Successful store owners create long term growth and success by creating a unique buying experience that cannot be replicated. Customizing your store creates a barrier to entry that protects you from your competitors. Store owners that invest in their own webstore today will own the future of ecommerce.

Joe Chilson, Head Writer + Account Manager, 1 Digital Agency

Great user experience should always come first –– before an old logo, or a well-worn font,  before any gimmick, or design trend of the week. The first focus of your design should be to communicate with your customer as clearly and simply as possible.

Stav Sarandiev, Chief Growth Officer, Digitawise 

My favorite expression is, “We are in the business of rain making. Are you thirsty?”

In my opinion it describes everything.

Be a smart ass, be creative, think out of the box, but make it simple, make it understandable for the wider audience.

The UX is the most important factor. It is a complex, but the design comes first. Then everything follows. The customer buys with his eyes. Happy customer, happy business owner. At the end of the day, only this matters.

Dane Downer, President, Brand Labs

First, embrace flat design and use Google’s Material Design philosophy as your guide. It’s a solid framework for designing a great ecommerce site experience.

Second, know that design is an evolutionary and iterative process that never truly ends. There is always room for improvement.

Jeff Dyksen, CEO, Diztinct

Be distinct: find ways to be memorable and separate your business from your competition through design, unique selling proposition, branding, and features. If you don’t differentiate yourself from others you’ll be competing solely on the price of your products, which tends to be a race to the bottom where no one wins.

Corey Susin, Creative Director, Designer at DIGITLHAUS

Increase conversions with what’s pleasing to the eye.

In today’s market, consumers have the attention span of a goldfish, 8 seconds, which means we need to attract and engage the audience as soon as the are landed on your storefront.

We no longer buy according to quality, size or descriptions, we simply buy what looks good.

The number #1 piece of design advice we give our clients is to showcase beautiful and luxurious photography. This includes product, lifestyle and general stock photos. You could take for example, take away all the product and lifestyle photos, and what do you have? You have a really great UI with a poor visual appearance.

When consumers can relate to a high quality visual of a product being used, or a scenario shot, the chances of them pursuing further into purchasing is promising.

We recommend to showcase beautiful, luxurious photography through home page elements, this can include marketing banners (hero), interactive tile hover-overs, social feeds or product and category call outs.

If you lose your buyer on the homepage within that 8 seconds, you can guarantee that they will be purchasing elsewhere.

James Brown, Senior Digital Solutions Manager, RANDEM

Steer clear of blindly implementing ecommerce received wisdom, and constantly seek first-hand, verifiable and repeatable customer data and feedback to fuel your decisions around customer experience and design.

Brandon Kirkland, CEO, epicShops

Think Conversion Rate Optimization first when designing a website.

It’s not want you want or what the business owner wants to see in a design. In fact, 99% of the time, you and the business owner aren’t even the target market, so those opinions are moot and you’re left lying to yourself. The answer to great design that converts is to create what the customer wants.

My advice is to use data to understand the customer and design around that, with CRO in mind.

Hannah Griffin, Designer, Groove

Successful ecommerce design always comes back to differentiating your brand’s lifestyle. Without a brick and mortar storefront, every pixel of your site should reflect your personality. Invest in owned creative assets, follow a dedicated style guide and leverage product and lifestyle imagery for a consistent and engaging user journey.

Jared Alexander, Graphic Designer, NewLeaf Innovations Inc.

My #1 piece of design advice for increasing conversions for online businesses, is getting the customer to the product page in the least amount of time and clicks possible. This can be achieved by having clear and concise categories on your homepage with minimal text.

Catherine Erath, Graphic Designer, NewLeaf Innovations Inc.

A well designed website will lead to higher conversions because it demonstrates to your customers that you have high quality products or that you are a knowledgeable leader in your industry through showing not telling.

Paul Rogers, Ecommerce Consultant

I think that the functional aspects of eCommerce design / UX is something that is often compromised – with core functionality being hidden away or not as prominent as it should be. The search box is a good example of this, as are things like related product recommendation blocks and filters, particularly on very design-orientated sites (such as luxury or fashion stores).

Search in particular would generally drive better results for a merchant than a category-led user journey, however lots of retailers choose to hide it behind a small icon.

I would say that the same applies for layered navigation more recently as well – with lots of modern-day fashion stores hiding it by default now.

This would be my general advice in this area – basically just not to overlook the aspects of the store that drive the most value from a customer experience / user journey perspective.

JT Hamman, Senior Designer, EYStudios

Don’t make your customers think! In a sea of hungry competition, it is vital customers are presented with clear navigation, well-merchandised products and an easy flow to checkout. These factors add up to create an intuitive, visual shopping experience that leads to higher conversions and lower cart abandonment. Additionally, customers will remember a positive experience and are more likely to return in the future.

Executive Summary

All in all, the sites above work within their own brand standards to attract their target audience, provide a unique experience and ultimately prove brand value on this channel rather than their others.

This helps these brands to build brand equity and customer lifetime value. High customer lifetime value increases how much you can spend on acquisition, and thus determines if you can beat out other competitors in market.

Ecommerce Website Design Best Practices 2018

The following best practices were consistently called out by our judges and were incredibly implemented within the sites featured.

As you think through your own site redesign, keep these concepts and functionalities in mind.

  1. Ease of site search and navigation – faceted search if you have a large catalog
  2. Brand consistency across pages from PDP to checkout
  3. Mobile responsiveness – and oftentimes, mobile first design

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A Detailed (Step-By-Step) Look at Effective Ecommerce A/B Testing Fri, 25 May 2018 14:11:43 +0000 Let’s start with the good news. But it’s not all bubblegum and roses. Frankly, you’re having challenges. Your store’s ecommerce…]]>

Let’s start with the good news.

You’re running a fairly successful ecommerce site. You’re making a decent amount of revenue and things are chugging along nicely.

But it’s not all bubblegum and roses.

Frankly, you’re having challenges.

  • Your store’s ecommerce conversion rate – and thus your conversion funnel – isn’t that great.
  • Carts get abandoned more than you’d like.
  • And your return on ad spend is only average.

You know things could be better, but you’re not sure what steps to take.

We’ve got some good news for you, and it’s called A/B testing.

You’re probably familiar with the term.

You’ve heard about the simplest examples of A/B testing like changing button colors and calls to action. But most ecommerce businesses don’t know how to do it effectively.

This is unfortunate, given that, when done well, A/B testing – or split testing – is one of the most powerful ways to improve some of the most important metrics in your business.

That’s what this article is all about.

We’re going to give you a detailed look at A/B testing, why you should do it, some examples, how it works, what you can test with it, when to use it, and much more.

This is your detailed roadmap to A/B testing.

Paige Gerber, Director of Content Experience, UberFlip

Always. Be. Testing. I can’t stress enough how important it is to test your messaging.

A/B testing is the only way to find out what your customers are looking to see before they hit the checkout and make a purchase.

Once you hone in on the copy, images, and call to actions that convert you’ll quickly see a direct correlation between understanding what your customers want and return on ad spend.

What Is A/B Testing?

Let’s start by making sure we’re all on the same page.

Most people think of A/B testing only in terms of small tweaks to button colors or calls-to-action or headlines, but it’s much deeper than that.

So what is A/B testing? Put simply…

It’s a method of determining which design, content or functionality is more successful with your site visitors. It allows you to test a variation of your page (or element on a page) that may affect your consumers behavior.

For example, it can involve:

  • Testing two different content layouts for the same product to see which layout produces more sales.
  • Or different product taxonomies for your site to see which one makes it easiest for customers to purchase from you.
  • Or moving navigation items around to see which results in more sales.

But here’s the thing…

A/B testing isn’t a one-time deal. It’s not one and done, like a college basketball player going pro.

Effective A/B testing ideally involves repeatedly testing improvements until you get the best possible version.

It’s an iterative process with each test building upon the results of the previous tests.

Like physical fitness, when A/B testing is done consistently and with focus, it allows you to incrementally improve your overall website design to better align with your consumer behavior and business goals.

When you start, you may not see massive gains; however, when you look back after several months, you’ll be amazed at the overall improvements.

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Why Should You Do A/B Testing?

As an ecommerce store owner, you’ve got dozens of tasks on your plate.

  • Listing products.
  • Optimizing products for SEO.
  • Responding to customer inquiries.
  • And a thousand more.

Why should you bother with A/B testing?

Is it really that effective?

Yes, it really is.

A/B testing allows you to significantly improve your customers’ shopping experience.

Happy customers translates into better click-through rates, more conversions, more revenue, greater loyalty, fewer complaints, and much, much more.

Not convinced? Take a look at Amazon.

How has Amazon managed to evolve from a site that only sold books to the largest ecommerce retailer in the world?

Much of it is due to CEO Jeff Bezos’ insistence on constantly testing, experimenting, and innovating.

As he noted in Fortune magazine:

“Experiments are key to innovation because they rarely turn out as you expect and you learn so much…If you can increase the number of experiments you try from a hundred to a thousand, you dramatically increase the number of innovations you produce.”

Bezos understands that, fundamentally, success comes from making your customers as happy as possible – making their shopping experience seamless and pain-free.

But to identify what makes them happy, you need to constantly hypothesize, test, experiment, and repeat.

Consider all the ways Amazon has made online shopping pleasant.

  • 1-click ordering.
  • Dash buttons that allow you to reorder products simply by pressing a button.
  • Two-day shipping.
  • A hugely powerful recommendation engine.

The list goes on and on.

These innovations didn’t occur randomly through some sort of ecommerce version of Darwinism.

Rather, they were the result of rigorous testing and then taking action based on this evidence-based approach.

And Amazon isn’t alone in their commitment to generating outstanding results through conversion optimization.

The most innovative companies in the world deploy it constantly, and you’re regularly exposed to multivariate tests whether you know it or not.

Have you ever noticed how Netflix regularly changes the cover images on television shows and films?

There’s a reason for that. The official Netflix Tech Blog notes:

In fact, every product change Netflix considers goes through a rigorous A/B testing process before becoming the default user experience.

Major redesigns…greatly improve our service by allowing members to find the content they want to watch faster.

However, they are too risky to roll out without extensive A/B testing, which enables us to prove that the new experience is preferred over the old.

And if you ever wonder whether we really set out to test everything possible, consider that even the images associated with many titles are A/B tested, sometimes resulting in 20% to 30% more viewing for that title!

With an astonishing amount of choices available in just about every industry, Amazon and Netflix realize that generating customer loyalty is critical.

They want to give people a reason to come back again and again.

A/B testing paves the way for that loyalty.

Jamie Turner, Author, Speaker, CEO at Jamie Turner Live

The first secret to ecommerce success is testing your way there. That’s always a top priority.

The second is to spend 10% of your time/budget testing new techniques and technologies.

And the third is to be sure to share your successes and failures with everybody internally. That way, you can be sure you have a staff with a knowledge base.

How Does A/B Testing Work?

Now that you have a general idea of the what and why of A/B testing, let’s dive into the specifics.

There are two primary types of A/B testing: client side and server side, with client-side being the more common.

  1. Client-side testing involves sending the exact same version of a page to every visitor and then using Javascript to make changes and tweaks within the visitor’s browser before the visitor is shown the resulting page.
  2. Server-side testing is when your web server shows visitors different page variations, altering them on the server before they are sent to the visitor’s browser. No modifications to the page are happening in the browser.

Regardless of which type is used, the general methodology is the same.

Using analytics tools, such as Google Analytics and HotJar, you evaluate the performance of each page variation.

For example, you may send 50% of your traffic to variation A and 50% of your traffic to variation B.

Then you analyze the data to determine whether variation A or variation B is more effective according to a set objective (conversion), whether that’s sales, email opt-ins, click-through rates, etc.

When it comes to Netflix, they may test the movie Pulp Fiction with two different covers to see which one generates the most views. Amazon may test the number of fields in their checkout process. You get the point.

However, there is a caveat.

A/B testing hinges on what’s called statistical significance.

In order to be confident that test results are accurate and not the result of an anomaly, a certain number of visitors (the sample size) must be reached.

If this threshold isn’t met, A/B tests can be inaccurate, leading you to implement changes that can actually hurt your site.

The implication?

If your site doesn’t get enough traffic, you may want to consider first investing in paid advertising or search engine optimization to increase your overall traffic numbers.

Once you’ve reached the necessary levels of traffic, you can implement A/B testing at any point and see a significant return on your investment.

If you need help determining at what point you’d see an ROI, here is a calculator you can use to determine how an A/B testing can impact your website.

Better Decision Making Made Easy

Fast-scaling businesses use metric dashboards to guide their meetings and decision making – taking gut preference out of the process in favor of data-driven results. 

Use this dashboard to see the same results for your brand. 

Get your free template now.

Where Do You Use A/B Testing?

A/B testing is all about removing consumer pain points. Whenever you can remove friction from the shopping process, it significantly increases the chances of conversions. Again, this is where Amazon stands out.

They’ve done everything possible to remove common online shopping hassles such as:

  • Filtering to find a specific product that matches your needs.
  • Comparing similar products, or those that were purchased alongside the currently viewed product.
  • Determining the overall quality of a product (they implement reviews, questions, photos, etc.).
  • Repeatedly filling in billing information.
  • Waiting a week for a package to arrive.
  • And much more.

In the context of your own ecommerce store, you can use A/B testing when comparing:

  • Different page layouts.
  • Navigation organization (where your menu is, etc.).
  • Headline effectiveness.
  • Body copy.
  • CTA copy and design.
  • Website photography and product images.
  • New visual styling for a page.
  • New pricing strategy.
  • Different promotions/offers.
  • And much more.

The beauty of A/B testing is that you can systematically work through each of these areas, incrementally and consistently improving each one to increase conversions.

Stephen Slater, Sr. SEO and Digital Advertising Manager, TopRank Marketing

Just because it’s launched doesn’t mean it’s done. Always test something new.

If your not testing and evolving from day 1 you are going to lose.

Keep testing. Keep getting better.

So many brands launch and expect everything to work right out of the gate. That’s rarely the case.

Test and get better. Then do it again.

There are so many A/B testing tools out there. Pick one and know it. Google Optimize, Unbounce, Optimizely… Pick one and test everything. 

A/B Testing Examples

A/B tests can come in many shapes and sizes.

Here are a few wireframes highlighting the types of A/B tests you might see as part of an optimization program.

Navigation A/B Test

In this test example, we aim to see whether consumers are able to better navigate a site and reach checkout by exposing the menu at the top level rather than through a drop-down menu.

AB testing navigation

Product Detail Page A/B Test

In this test example, we aim to see if placing more educational information about the product higher on the page will affect the add-to-cart rate.

AB testing product detail page

Form A/B Test

In this test example, we aim to see whether consumers are more inclined to complete a form with fewer fields and simpler placeholder text within the fields.

AB testing form

When Should You Use A/B Testing?

Random A/B testing is always a bad idea.

It results in you spending an inordinate amount of time testing areas that matter very little while ignoring the biggest drivers of growth.

And because you’re testing random variables, it makes it difficult to determine which changes have had the greatest effect.

Before you begin testing, you need a roadmap.

This roadmap will guide you specifically through what to test and in what order.

How do you create such a roadmap?

By doing thorough research on your customers and how they behave on your site.

Some of the research tools include:

  • Analytics – Identify your most popular pages, CTR, traffic sources, pages with a high bounce rate, paths through your site, etc.
  • Heatmaps – Discover exactly where and how people navigate your site. See where they click, where they pause, where they get confused, etc.
  • User Tests – Personally watch users navigate your site to discover where points of friction occur. Proper user testing will also include the testing subjects speaking out loud about what they are experiencing as they complete tasks on your site.
  • Surveys – Directly ask your customers about their shopping experiences. Did they encounter any problems? What would they like to see improved?

After doing a thorough analysis of your customer’s behavior, you can begin to develop hypotheses about your current website and how you might improve the overall customer experience.

These hypotheses then form the basis of your A/B testing roadmap.

Each of them will be systematically tested. Those that are proven statistically valid will be implemented and those that aren’t will be discarded.

What Are The Benefits Of A/B Testing?

A/B testing works so well because it’s entirely based on numbers.

There’s no relying on gut feelings or instinct.  Flashes of “inspiration” are only accepted if the numbers prove them out.

Changes are only implemented if they are validated by the data.

Additionally, A/B testing dramatically reduces the risks normally associated with redesigning your website.

Instead of a taking a big gamble on an entire site redesign, which ultimately could lead to your conversions tanking, you’re making small, incremental improvements.

Each of these improvements is geared toward improving the customer experience.

Finally, A/B testing cuts through the opinions of those paid the most.

Your position or salary don’t determine which changes are implemented. Only the data does.

What Are The Challenges of A/B Testing?

We’d be lying if we said A/B testing was a magic bullet and that one test will fix everything and cause your revenue to skyrocket.

The reality is that it’s an ongoing, incremental, iterative process.

It’s like going to the gym. A single workout isn’t going to do much for your physique. Random workouts aren’t going to help much either.

If you want results, you need a plan that you consistently implement.

The same goes for A/B testing.

Once you develop your roadmap, you need to follow it closely.

Areas of improvement will be tested systematically, and each test will build upon the results of the previous test.

It’s not sexy and it’s not as fast as just making the change, like in a fad diet. It’s a workout. And it’s proven to be effective.

And there are specific challenges involved:

1. It requires a fair amount of experience to do effectively.

There are a number of specific tools used in A/B testing, and some of these tools have a steep learning curve.

Additionally, there needs to be a fundamental understanding of web design, statistical analysis, and other domain-specific knowledge.

2. It’s a process.

Contrary to what many articles would have you believe, A/B testing is not a silver bullet.

A single test probably won’t do much for your revenue.

As mentioned above, it’s about developing a long-term plan and then sticking to that plan. It’s about targeting specific goals and improvements over time.

3. Traffic is required.

We touched on this above but it bears repeating. While the amount of site visitors will vary depending on the test and the objectives, you need at least a fair amount of traffic to ensure that your tests are statistically valid.

If your site has a low traffic volume, you’ll probably need to work on raising that before you can begin A/B testing.

Given The Challenges, Is A/B Testing Worth It?

So, given the challenges and struggles listed above, is A/B testing still worth it?

While we certainly understand the hesitance, we’ve seen again and again just how powerful A/B testing can be.

When done properly, it can have a huge impact on some of your most important Key Performance Indicators (KPIs):

1. Improved return on ad spend (ROAS).

The more friction you remove from your website, the more paid traffic turns into sales, effectively increasing your return on ad spend.

2. Reduced customer acquisition cost.

Similar to how testing helps improve ROAS, the money you spend on other methods of customer acquisition will benefit from the reduced friction and will shrink your customer acquisition cost (CAC).

3. Increased lifetime customer value (LTV).

Testing makes your website more sticky and engaging which helps drive more return business. In other words, the easier you make the shopping process, the more customers will want to come back again and again.

This increases your customer lifetime value.

4. Increased email signup conversion rate.

Your email list can be a huge revenue driver.

Testing different ways of inviting new subscribers will help you maximize your email list sign-ups which increases the people you can promote your products or services to.

5. Increased average order value (AOV).

Increased testing can help you find out what product bundles or upsell opportunities could work best, increasing your average order value.

At scale, this directly impacts your bottom line revenue.

6. Reduced cart abandonment rate.

Every time a person abandons their cart, that’s money walking out your digital door.

Using A/B testing to optimize your checkout process can remove friction, confusion, and mistrust, and reduce your cart abandonment rate.

7. Increased ecommerce conversion rate (CR).

Smoothing out any barriers on the path to purchase using A/B testing is the most effective way to increase your conversion rate.

As you can see, despite the challenges, A/B testing can make a massive difference in the growth and overall revenue of your ecommerce business.

How Can You Find The Right A/B Testing Solution?

When it comes to A/B testing, experience and skill is just as, if not more important than the tools themselves.

First, you need to determine whether you want to do the testing in-house or hire an outside agency to do the testing.

Evaluating Skill Sets

Regardless, of your choice, here are some of the key skills to look for in testing and optimization are:

  • Data research.
  • Statistical analysis.
  • UX design.
  • Behavioral psychology.
  • Project management.
  • Persuasive writing.
  • Conversion strategy for conversion optimization.
  • User research.
  • Information architecture.
  • HTML and CSS.
  • jQuery and JavaScript.
  • And more.

CRO is a robust process requiring a variety of skills.

Each of these skills contributes uniquely to the CRO process, and the absence of any of them can lead to ineffective A/B testing.

Using The Right A/B Testing Tools

There are also a number of specific tools required to do A/B testing.

The two most commonly used tools are Optimizely and VWO.

Both offer a full suite of A/B testing tools, including the ability to easily deploy tests, analyze the results, evaluate website heat maps, and much more.

Examples of Tools You Can Use For A/B Testing:
  • Optimizely.
  • VWO.

The Good uses these types of tools.

A few things to note about Optimizely:

Optimizely is a feature-rich, enterprise-level A/B testing tool, and is priced accordingly. It is widely considered the industry leader for larger sites.

That said, for many small to medium-sized businesses it can be like using a semi-truck when a pickup will do. We recommend considering whether you will realistically utilize its full suite of features before you select this tool.

A few things to note about VWO:

Visual Website Optimizely (or VWO) is an effective small to medium sized business A/B testing tool.

It provides a solid mix of features that will do all of the core tasks that a professional A/B testing tool should. While it does not offer as many premium features as Optimizely, it is often a more cost-effective alternative for many growing businesses.

Google also recently released a free tool called Google Optimize, which can be good for beginners but doesn’t provide the robust set of tools you need to truly do A/B testing effectively.

Whichever tool you choose, spend time researching the capabilities, pricing, and overall level of support for each.

Also, if you plan on doing your testing in-house, be sure you feel some level of comfort with the software you choose.

Using Conversion Rate Optimization Service Providers for A/B Testing

In addition to the proliferation of SaaS applications designed to help you implement A/B testing, a number of service based businesses provide A/B testing and conversion rate optimization as a ‘done-for-you’ service.

Be warned though: it has become fashionable for many marketing agencies to add CRO or A/B testing to their laundry list of services, yet have little more than beginner knowledge.

There is a simplistic way to do A/B testing and a more methodical and professional way to do it. Make sure you’re getting the latter.

Some things to look for in A/B testing services are:

  • Whether they offer CRO as an add-on to other marketing services or focus exclusively on CRO.
  • Case studies that demonstrate previous CRO success. These case studies should make clear the specific processes they used to achieve their results.
  • Whether they’re data-driven. CRO should always be data driven. Any methodology that relies on intuition, flashes of “insight”, or hunches, isn’t CRO. It’s random guessing that most often turns out to be incorrect.
  • If they have a defined CRO process. A true CRO firm should have a specific, defined CRO process that they follow again and again. If they don’t, it’s a sign that they probably don’t know what they’re doing.
  • Do they focus on the short term or long term. Optimization is about playing the long game. Shooting for quick results involves taking shortcuts, or not waiting for enough test results to make a proper recommendation, which almost always disrupt the process and produce inaccurate results. The best CRO firms are squarely focused on implementing a robust plan over the long run.

Bottom line: Don’t assume that because a digital agency says they do CRO, they actually do CRO. Do your research. Ask the right questions. The research is time well spent.

For an in-depth guide on how to evaluate a CRO agency, read this whitepaper.

Conclusion: Don’t Neglect A/B Testing

A/B testing is one of the most powerful and effective ways to drive ecommerce growth.

Some of the biggest, most profitable companies in the world have achieved their massive success in large part due to A/B testing.

Generally speaking, if Amazon does something, other ecommerce sites should pay attention.

A/B testing worked for Amazon.

It will work for you.

Want more insights like this?

We’re on a mission to provide businesses like yours marketing and sales tips, tricks and industry leading knowledge to build the next house-hold name brand. Don’t miss a post. Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

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The Ultimate Guide to Ecommerce SEO: How to Attain Page 1 Ranking Thu, 17 May 2018 14:00:14 +0000 This is the most complete guide to ecommerce SEO on the web – period. Whether you’re The SEO manager for…]]>

This is the most complete guide to ecommerce SEO on the web – period.

Whether you’re

  • The SEO manager for a bigger ecommerce company looking to demonstrate the ROI of SEO
  • A smaller online business owner trying to find scrappy ways to grow your business
  • Or a growth marketer looking for innovative and highly effective ways to increase traffic…

This post is for you.

I created this guide for one reason…

Search engine optimization is a low-hanging fruit for ecommerce websites.

Despite the fact that SEO has the highest ROI of any ecommerce marketing campaign, most online shops are put together with little to no consideration of search engines.

Instead, we rely on social media or paid ads. Which are great and all, but require a constant effort and stream of income.

SEO, on the other hand, only requires effort up front — once you rank, you practically make sales on autopilot with no recurring expense.

That’s a simplification, of course. But doesn’t the idea make you drool?

Free, recurring, high-converting traffic. That’s what you’re about to learn how to get.

Grab a coffee, lock the door and settle in… it’s time to learn ecommerce SEO.

SEO Strategies for Ecommerce Websites in 2018

Since this is a 9,000-word beast, you’ll probably want to take it one section at a time. To help you navigate, here are the topics we’ll be covering.

The best ecommerce SEO strategy includes:

Let’s get started!

What is SEO and Why Should You Care?

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the scientific art of optimizing your website around specific keywords in order to rank higher in search results, such as Google.

I say scientific art because, while a lot is known about the technical aspects of SEO, there is a creative user-experience and design side to it as well.

But optimizing your site, ultimately, means one thing: creating the best possible result for your target keyword.

Google’s goal is to rank search results that answer all of the searcher’s questions so well that they don’t need to return to Google for another answer.

So how do you do that?

  • Reveal the most thorough answers to the widest range of questions around the topic.
  • Use better images, videos, or examples to explain your points.
  • Provide a better user experience via a faster site, a better mobile experience, a more intuitive interface, etc.
  • Get people talking about (and linking) to you.

A study by Outbrain shows that search is the #1 driver of traffic to content sites, beating social media by more than 300%.

Additionally, a study by SEMrush examining 13 ecommerce verticals found that 5 (music, books, furniture, home & garden, electronics) were dominated by organic search, and for all 13 organic and direct accounted for 80% of all traffic.

ecommerce seo website traffic semrush study

Sources of Ecommerce Website Traffic via SEMrush

For ecommerce, that means writing thorough, vivid product descriptions with beautiful, eye-catching photography and plenty of reviews to help visitors make purchase decisions.

It also means making it easy for visitors to purchase by making the buttons big enough, keeping your site glitch-free, and showing social proof of your best products.

Oh, and it means giving your site visitors comparisons of your product to your competitors, so they don’t need to leave to do more research.

But more on all that later. For now, I just want you to understand one thing:

SEO is a holistic effort of all pieces of a business, including social media, marketing, web design, networking and copywriting.

If you are the best business for a customer to shop (and you do your SEO homework) you’ll claim the top positions. Isn’t it great how simple that is?

But I haven’t answered the most important question… Why should you even care?

Well, let’s say your store sells gifts for wiener dog lovers, like my client, The Smoothe Store. Obviously, you would want to rank for a key term like “Dachshund gifts”.

In search results, Google displays a few ads, then they show the organic listings. Most of the clicks, however, go to organic results. (Of course, this varies depending on the number of ads and the keyword, but for the most part it holds true.)

And since ~95% of people don’t go past the first page, getting to the top of the line is the only way to get real results. (Again, this varies, but mostly holds true.)

Now let’s do some math.

The keyword “Dachshund gifts” gets ~11,000 searches per month on average, according to Ahrefs (a tool you’ll learn about in a later section). Assuming 35% of those clicks go to the first result (the average across keywords), ranking #1 for that keyword would get you 3,850 clicks.

Now let’s assume you have a conversion rate of 10% (pretty low for a high buyer-intent keyword; more on buyer intent in the research section).

Ranking #1 for that keyword would score you an extra 385 sales per month!


And that’s just one keyword. Most pages rank for multiple keywords, and most sites will rank multiple pages.

You could get thousands of extra sales per month with just a little extra SEO effort — all for free.

You could even combine SEO with SEM (search engine marketing, like Google AdWords) to grab two search result listings and convert even more sales. But that’s a topic for another guide. (Though, if you’re interested in paid ads, check out KlientBoost’s PPC services.)

I hope by now you understand why Google is one of the best marketing channels.

But enough theory — let’s talk about how to actually do it!

Ecommerce Keyword Research

Keyword research is the first step in an ecommerce SEO campaign.

Do NOT skip this step.

If you get this part wrong, one of two things will happen:

  1. You’ll target keywords that are too difficult to rank for, and you won’t make it to page one.
  2. You’ll rank for keywords that don’t get a lot of traffic or don’t cause customers to buy.

Neither of these situations is ideal, which is why ecommerce keyword research is so important — it will ensure you target keywords that are fairly easy to rank for, have decent search volume and have high conversion rates.

But there is more to choosing keywords than simply looking at how difficult it is to rank or how many people search for it…

To choose the best keywords possible, you also need to factor in buyer intent (aka “commercial intent”).

This is So Important, We’re Putting It In a Box So You Don’t Miss It (Seriously)

Buyer intent simply means how far along someone is in their decision to buy.

For example, someone searching for “best laptop” is probably still in the research phase — they may not be ready to buy. They’re likely to be reading product reviews and comparing features and benefits.

But if they’re searching “Asus VivoBook E200HA”, they’re probably shopping around for the best deal on that exact laptop — which means they’re much more likely to buy.

You don’t have to guess at buyer intent.

Oftentimes, buyer intent correlates with the average cost per click (CPC) of a keyword, which can be found with Google Keyword Planner or an SEO tool like Ahrefs. This is because the more people are willing to spend advertising a keyword, the higher its conversion rate!

Pro Tip: “Best X Product” is a great potential topic idea for your blog. More on blogging in the content marketing section.

Now you’re probably wondering — how do you perform ecommerce keyword research, find keyword difficulty (KD) and search volume, and uncover buyer intent?

Well, there are three ways:

  1. Amazon
  2. Competitor research
  3. SEO tools

Let’s start with the ecommerce behemoth.

1. Use Amazon for keyword research.

Amazon is a gold mine of high buyer intent keywords — people literally search on Amazon with the intent of buying something.

To find keywords with Amazon, start typing in your seed keyword. This is a word you think you’d probably like to rank for.

For example, we could type “Dachshund”…

…and Amazon spits out autofill suggestions like dachshund gifts, shirts, stuffed animals, etc. These are all keyword ideas — put them in a Google spreadsheet to keep for later.

As you can imagine, if you have hundreds or thousands of products, this could take a loooong time. That’s where the Amazon Keyword Tool comes in.

This handy tool scrapes Amazon’s autofill suggestions automatically for any keyword you type in. It gives you three free searches per day, so you don’t have to spend anything.

Just by typing in and searching “Dachshund,” I now have 247 potentially high-buyer-intent keywords. Woohoo!

You can repeat this for all your seed keywords (such as “wiener dog” instead of dachshund).

Each time you search, check off all the keywords and add them to your list, then download that list to a CSV with the “Download Selected Keywords” button.

We can’t just blindly choose these keywords, however. We still need to understand search volume, difficulty and even buyer intent before we pick the ones we use in our store.

But for now, let’s talk about other ways to find more keyword ideas.

2. Find keywords through competitor research.

If you have competitors who rank higher than you in search results, you can use their site to steal keyword ideas.

Spoiler Alert

The next section shows you how to do this in less than 5 minutes using Ahrefs. But for those of you who won’t use the tool, keep reading!

First, type your keyword into Google…

…chose a competitor…

…and scan their category and product pages for potential keywords.

However, do NOT blindly use the same keywords as your competitor! Just because they outrank you, doesn’t mean they’ve chosen the best keywords — they could just have a higher domain authority (DA) than you.

Good to Know

DA is SEO company Moz’s rank of how authoritative a website is, based on its link profile and other factors (i.e. the number of backlinks pointing to a site from another site).

Pro Tip: This is a good time to mention breadcrumbs, which is an advanced navigation function that helps Google scan and index your site.

You can tell if you’ve set up breadcrumbs properly by entering your site into Google. If you see “ -> category -> subcategory”, you have breadcrumbs set up. More on that here.

For now, just record the keywords in your sheet and move on.

3. Use Ahrefs to help you find keyword opportunities.

Ahrefs, the tool I mentioned above, is an all-around amazing SEO tool. You can use it for keyword research, competitive research, to build backlinks and much more.

And we’ll get to all that, but for now let’s talk about how to use it to easily and quickly perform ecommerce keyword research.

Once you sign up for an account (you get a two-week free trial), put your URL into the Site Explorer search bar. I’ll go through it using my site, The Wandering RV, as an example.

Click the “Organic search” tab…

…scroll down and click “View full report” under the Top 5 organic keywords section…

…and you’ll see all the keywords your site ranks for.

In my case, 3,578 keywords. More than I care to dig through one by one.

Luckily, you can filter the results to get exactly what you’re looking for. Specifically, I want to find my low-hanging fruit; the keywords I rank #5-10 for.

These are low-hanging fruit because you’re already on the first page, which means it should be fairly easy to rank higher with proper on-page SEO and maybe even some link building (more on that in the on-page SEO and link building sections).

To find them, filter by Position — minimum of 3 and max of 10.

You can also sort this in by traffic in descending order just by clicking the Traffic column. If you like, you can put a minimum traffic filter as well, such as no less than 200 searches per month. I don’t have that many, so I won’t do that.

Now, export your low-hanging fruit keywords to a CSV with the “Export” button in the top right, and copy-paste them into a new tab in your spreadsheet. (I call this tab “Low-Hanging Fruit”.)

Now let’s steal our competitor’s keywords.

Type a competitor into the site explorer tool this time, and go to the same Organic Keywords page. To find the gold nuggets, apply these filters:

  • Position max 20
  • KD max 15
  • Volume min 200

This will show you all the low-difficulty, relevant keywords your competitor is ranking for! How awesome is that?

Feel free to remove the volume minimum if you don’t get enough results – some niches won’t have high search volume. I just do that to keep it to the highest potential keywords and to keep the total number manageable.

Alright, you’re probably drowning in keyword ideas now, but I have one more one for ya: The content gap tool.

This nifty tool shows you all the keywords your competitors are ranking for but you aren’t. Type three (or more) competitors in the top three fields and your site in the bottom.

Then hit “Show keywords” to be showered in opportunities! Just apply filters like we did above to find the really great ones, then export and copy-paste to your spreadsheet.

So now that you’re up to your eyeballs in key term ideas, how do you know which ones to actually use?

4. Determine if you are choosing the right keywords.

Unless you used Ahrefs, you won’t have keyword data for the phrases you picked. You need to determine keyword difficulty, search volume and buyer intent to know which keywords to use.

You can find rough search volume and CPC (to determine buyer intent) using Google Keyword Planner. However, it doesn’t give you keyword difficulty (don’t be confused by competition — that’s just competition for paid AdWords ads, not organic ranking).

Let’s do a search for Dachshund gifts…

The “Suggested bid” is the CPC. A high CPC indicates a high buyer intent, as we discussed.

What you’re looking for here is a high CPC relative to other CPC — in some niches, $0.80 might be a bargain. In others (like Dachshund gifts), $0.80 is a lot of money. Relativity is key.

Take note of the volume and buyer intent in your sheet for all of your highly important keywords.

Just eyeball it at “low,” “medium” or “high” based on its CPC in relation to the general CPC you see across most keywords in your niche.

For example, I’ll rank the keywords from the Google Keyword Planner image above:

Of course, Ahrefs does this for you automatically (minus buyer intent), so I highly prefer that route. But it’s not free after your trial, so this is the true bootstrap method.

Pro Tip

You can also find great keywords by spying on your competitors’ AdWords bids. Just perform some competitive PPC analysis and add those to your sheet!

Once you’re done, just sort the results based on the best mix of traffic, KD and buyer intent. Those are the keywords you want to prioritize the most.

However, if you REALLY want to get serious about your SEO and maximize your keyword spread, you should consider creating a keyword matrix.

A keyword matrix is basically a way to dig through all your keywords and organize your spreadsheet to quickly determine the best possible keywords to use on each of your pages. It’s based on KD, search volume and search intent (what people are looking for when they make a particular search).

If that’s something you’re interested in, you can read more about it here or hire me to do it for you.

Enough about finding keywords for your ecommerce website… let’s talk about how to use them!

Ecommerce Site Architecture

Once you know the right keywords to target, it’s time to put that information to action.

This starts with your site’s architecture.

Ecommerce site architecture, or structure, is how you set up your navigation, category pages and product pages. At its core, it’s about getting the best, most relevant content in front of users and reducing the number of times they have to click to find it.

There are two “golden rules” to great site structure:

  1. Make it simple and scalable.
  2. No page should take more than three clicks to get to from any other page.
  3. Use keyword research to create highly relevant page URLs and subdirectories.

More on that later — for now, let’s talk about what NOT to do.

An Example of BAD Site Architecture For an Ecommerce Site

This is what poor site architecture looks like:

It breaks both golden rules. It takes four clicks just to get to a category page, and if you want to add a product or category page, you have to hide it deep inside the bowels of your site.

Not only is this poor for navigation, it also hurts your search rankings. Here’s why:

Typically, your home page is the most authoritative page on your site. Internal links from one page on your site to another pass some of that “link juice” or “authority” from one page to another. This was formerly called PageRank, but Google no longer uses that term.

Visually, it works like this:

So your home page can pass the most authority to your category pages, which then pass authority to your product pages.

Seen another way, it works like this:

To give you an analogy, think of your website structure as a farm’s irrigation system, and the site’s authority or “link juice” as the farm’s water. Your pages are the plants.

Obviously, you want to give the most water to the highest producing plants — your major category and product pages.

To do that, you need to send them the most internal links from your highest authority pages — which this bad example isn’t doing.

This is also a good time to mention content marketing. Great content can serve as your biggest plants, getting loads of external backlinks from other sites. You can then funnel that link authority from your content to your product and category pages. Free water! (More on this in the “ecommerce content marketing” section.)

Now let’s look how that’s done.

Pro Tip

If your site already has less-than-ideal structure, don’t go moving around pages until you’ve consulted with an SEO expert. We can help you consolidate pages, improve internal linking and redirect old pages to new pages without hurting your SEO.

An Example of GOOD Ecommerce Site Architecture

To get the most authority to your best pages, begin with your site structure. And remember the golden rules (simple and scalable, no more than 3 clicks)!

(Pssst! Stores made with BigCommerce do this automatically.)

A good site would look like this:

Your home page should link to all your major category pages, and potentially even some of your best product pages as well.

Proper navigation and internal linking ensures those pages get the most authority from your home page, and thus have a better chance of ranking highly in search.

To give you a better idea of this, take a look at the home page I created for my client, The Smoothe Store.

As you can see, we link to all our top category pages. We also do so visually, making it more appealing and easy to browse.

Another thing I’ll point out is all the text content — having content on your homepage increases your rankings. But more on that in the on-page SEO section below.

Pro Tip

Be sure to include a “related products” section on each product page. This will add more relevant internal links and has been shown to increase average order value.

An On-Page SEO Strategy for Ecommerce Sites

On-page SEO for ecommerce is all about making sure your keywords are in the right places. It’s just a way of ensuring Google knows exactly what your page is about.

We’re about to discuss three strategies:

  1. On-page SEO for eCommerce category pages.
  2. On-page SEO for eCommerce product pages.
  3. On-page SEO for your blog content.

On-page SEO is important because it also helps you appear in other Search Engine Results Page (SERP) features.

SEMrush found that ecommerce websites should focus on reviews and images.

For the 15 features analyzed (the last one being no SERP features) reviews were number 1 appearing in 57.93% of global searches and in 62.03% of US searches.

Images were also important and surpassed video results appearing in 51.09% of global searches and in 41.68% of US searches.

ecommerce seo serp features semrush study

Top US SERP Features from SEMrush Study

Let’s look at all the ranking factors for SERP.

14 Google SERPs Features
  1. Instant Answer. Typically displayed at the top of the results page, but below ads, is a box with a brief text answer and a source URL.
  2. Carousel. These show local results with an image, business name, ratings, and reviews.
  3. Local Pack. Shows, typically 3, local businesses and a Google map and is dominate on mobile.
  4. News. A time-sensitive, news topic block appearing at the top of the results page.
  5. Images. These display a horizontal row of images at the top of a search.
  6. Site Links. For brand intent search, up to 10 site links can be displayed along with an organic result.
  7. Review. This rich result (formerly called a rich snippet) displays stars and rating data for products and other items where reviews can be added.
  8. Tweet. Relevant tweets can appear in organic results.
  9. Video. Videos from YouTube, Vimeo, and other platforms can be displayed with their thumbnail in organic results.
  10. Featured Video. Has a larger thumbnail and can provide more information, and displays at the top of the search results.
  11. Featured Snippet. A special box that answers a specific query and is displayed above the top organic results.
  12. Knowledge panel. Uses semantic data from various sources to display of block of information about people, movies, and events to name few items, and usually appears to the right of search results.
  13. Top Ads. AdWords ads that take up to the top 4 spots on the search page.
  14. Bottom Ads. AdWords ads that take up to the last 3 spots on the search page.

Let’s start how to pull in each of these factors into your holy grail: Your category pages.

2. Implement on-page SEO for ecommerce product pages.

Your category pages are arguably the most important pages to rank. If someone finds them in Google, they immediately have access to all your products in that category.

To properly optimize these pages, you need to put your target keyword in the following places:

1. In the URL.

Putting your primary keyword in the URL (and making the URL readable and friendly) is simple and improves search rankings.

Also worth noting: see the “/collections/” in the URL? That’s actually bad for SEO (and a limitation of Shopify). Google prefers shorter, easier to read URLs, so this additional word has a negative impact on SEO.

Luckily, BigCommerce allows you to remove these extra subfolders from your URL quickly and easily.

This is especially relevant for websites competing in more competitive niches. There are many factors associated with organic rankings; however, optimized URLs are an additional way you gain the edge on your competitors to drive more traffic.

You can also customize them to whatever keyword works best for your own category page rankings. :)

It’s the difference between:


Google prefers #2. 

2. In the title tag (H1).

The title tag, or H1 tag, should have the keyword in it as close to the beginning as possible, like this:

3. In body copy.

This is where things get a little trickier. Most category pages get straight to the products with no introduction — which isn’t good for Google.

You should aim for at least a 300-word intro with your keyword included at least 2-3 times. (But don’t stuff it in there — make it flow and look natural.)

Here’s an example:

4. In image alt text.

Since Google can’t read images, they rely on alt text to know what it’s about.

This also gives you another spot to include your keyword on the page, and gives you a shot at showing up in Google image results.

Here’s an example from Yumi, a women’s clothing store:

Note that it doesn’t have to be that big — it can be a simple small banner across the top instead.

Pro Tip

If you suck at design and need banners made for you, you can hire someone on Fiverr or submit a proposal to 99 Designs. Personally, I like to use Canva to create all my designs!

5. In the meta data.

While including your keyword in your metadata (the gray text that shows up in your search listings) hasn’t been shown to directly impact rankings, it can improve click-through rate, which has been shown to improve rankings.

This is because when you include your main keyword in the metadata (AKA description tag), Google bolds it in the search results:

Bada-bing, bada-boom. You’re done! Easy-peasy, right?

Rinse and repeat for all your category pages, then move on to your product pages.

Here’s how and where to input all of this information in BigCommerce to optimize your product category pages

On-Page SEO for Ecommerce Product Pages

I won’t re-list all the steps you just took above. Basically, do everything you just did for your category pages, with 2 major differences:

  1. You don’t need a banner image (since you have product images).
  2. Instead of writing 300 words, I recommend reaching 1,000 words (at least on your 10 top sellers).

The reasoning for this is simple:

The top pages in Google tend to be long-form content of at least 2,000 words.

This is because Google is primarily a research tool.

So, when a page has a lot of information, Google thinks it has a better chance of containing the answer a searcher is seeking.

(This also helps you include LSI keywords, which I’ll talk about in a second.)

So if the top pages have 2,000 words, why do I recommend 1,000?

Two reasons:

  1. Writing a 2,000-word description for any product is a pain in the ass
  2. Product reviews make up for that 1,000-word lack

Product reviews boost ecommerce SEO and increase conversion rates. If you’re not already collecting reviews, start prioritizing them!

If you need help, here’s an awesome guide to product reviews.

To give you an example of a great product page, both for SEO and conversions, check out this page by Solo Stove:

They do an excellent job of implementing reviews, long-form content and excellent usability all wrapped in an excellent design.

FYI, if you don’t have a review app installed on your store, Yotpo looks great and works well with structured data (which you’ll learn more about later).

Of course, making massive changes to hundreds of product listings is no easy task.

To help speed this up, I recommend using a format, like this one:

During that “deep dive,” you can also include user-generated content, such as customer photos, videos or killer reviews.

For example, Spellbinders has grown traffic to their site by 130,000 unique, organic visitors by adding a gallery page pulling in user posts from Instagram to their site.

To pull everything together (and give you some more tips), here’s an infographic on optimizing your product pages by Brian Dean:

Now, back to Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI) keywords.

Before you freak out like this suddenly became an advanced math course, don’t worry! This is just a fancy way of saying “synonymous” keywords, as well as closely related keywords and topics.

For example, “dachshund,” “wiener dog,” “doxie” and “sausage dog” are all LSI keywords.

They mean basically the same thing, or are at least closely related. So are the terms “RV accessories” and “solar panels” — not because they’re synonymous, but because they fall within the same topic.

Back in the wild-west days of SEO, Google wasn’t so good at identifying the relationship between semantic keywords.

And sly SEO professionals took advantage of this.

That’s why websites used to create pages targeted to every – single – synonym.

But the game has changed, and now Google understands that when someone searches “dachshund,” it has the same intent as “weiner dog.”

So instead of creating 5 pages targeting 5 related terms, you can make one page relevant to all of them.

To find LSI keywords, you can just type your main keyword into Google and look at the auto fill suggestions…

…and look at the related searches at the bottom of the page.

You can also check out Amazon listings for your product.

For example, when I look at this Blendtec blender on Amazon, I notice a whole slew of LSI keywords:

Finally, you can also use Ahrefs to find LSI keywords (told you it’s an awesome tool).

Just pop your primary keyword into Ahrefs and click on “Also rank for” or “Search suggestions” to see everything Google thinks is relevant.

Go through these two lists and grab everything that’s relevant for you. Vary your keyword usage, blend in LSI keywords and answer every question around your topic to win.

So find out your similar keywords, add them to your product pages and start ranking better for everything! :)

Pro Tip

If you have a competitor that outranks you, use the same process on their site. Look for the LSI keywords they use to describe their products.

Just do this for each of your products! If you have a lot, consider starting with your best sellers and working your way from there (or hire someone to do it for you).

And make sure you have beautiful product images as well. While this doesn’t directly impact SEO, it will improve your conversions!

On to the technical side of things…

How To Perform Technical SEO Audits For Ecommerce Websites

SEO isn’t just about keywords. There’s a technical side as well, which includes things like site speed, user experience, mobile-friendliness and working links.

In the end, it’s really just about providing the best possible experience for your users.

Again, that’s what Google ultimately cares about.

So how do you perform an ecommerce SEO audit and improve your technical SEO?

I’m going to be following a very similar process to Ahref’s 16-step audit, but simplified for speed and understanding.

If you want more details, check out their full article.

Recommended Ecommerce SEO Tools

Before we get into the how-to of things, I wanted to mention the SEO tools that are highly recommended to do things right:

They’re not all necessary, but they make life easier. Cool? Cool. Let’s get started!

An ecommerce site audit accomplishes three things:

  1. It paints an overall picture of the quality and current standing of your site.
  2. It makes it easy for you to create a task list of things that need to be done before you focus on off-page SEO.
  3. It ensures you’re getting the best possible results with the least effort.

Obviously, it’s something you should need to do. So here we go.

Step 1: Crawl your site.

Using a tool like Beam Us Up (free) or Screaming Frog ($150 per year) to crawl your site is the single most important part of any site audit. It will reveal things like:

  • Broken links on your site
  • Missing alt text or metadata
  • Thin or duplicate content

These things are all bad for SEO. So start this crawl and let it run in the background while we take care of a few other things (the crawl could take a while if you have a large site).

Step 2: Make sure only 1 version of your site Is browsable.

There are multiple ways a person can link to or browse your site:


Only one of these should be browsable.

The others should be 301 redirected to the canonical version (the one you prefer).

If possible, choose the HTTPS version (which is the secured/encrypted version) since there’s a slight search-rankings boost. Whether you want www or not is up to you.

PSSST: BigCommerce automatically does this for you.

Using HTTPS across your website is important for both your user experience and Google’s ranking algorithm.

You provide users confidence and security with your brand using HTTPS, and Google favors your site since it is secure.

An SEMrush study found that approximately 60-65% of websites with HTTPS rank on page one of Google.

Here is a handy infographic from SEMrush showing the 10 HTTPS implementation mistakes that you should fix on your site now.

https versus http semrush

Step 3: Check your home page’s SEO.

To do this, just ask yourself the following questions:

  • Does the page contain a well-crafted, clickable title? Does it conform to the on-page SEO best practices you learned above?
  • Is there a custom meta description? Is it optimised for maximising click-throughs?
  • Is there one instance of the H1 tag?
  • Are subheaders (H2, H3, etc.) properly used and conforming to SEO best practices?
  • Is your target keyword included in everything above?

If you answered “no” to any of these questions, go fix that.

Pro Tip

The meta title, or title tag, of a page should be no more than 512px (roughly 55 characters). Otherwise, it gets truncated, or cut off, in search results. Check your page title using the Title Tag Pixel Width Checker mentioned above!

Step 4: Analyze your crawl report.

Once your crawl report is finished, it’s time to take a look. I used Screaming Frog, but Beam Us Up looks similar:

Basically, you’re looking for “Client Errors (4xx)” (aka broken links), duplicate URLs, missing or duplicate content, missing or duplicate meta descriptions and missing alt text.

If you need more help with Screaming Frog, this guide is fan-freaking-tastic.

Step 5: Ensure unique content.

Google hates duplicate content and it can get you whacked with a penalty ever since Google’s Panda algorithm update.

You can easily find potential duplicate content issues across the web with a premium Copyscape account. For $10 you can check up to 200 URLs using their batch tool.

Just grab the URLs from your report and paste them into the batch analyzer.

When it’s done, you’ll get a list of all the URLs with the number of duplicate content and a color-coded “risk” score.

Just click the individual URLs to find the culprits. If it’s other content on your own site, change it to make it unique.

If it’s on another site, consider contacting the site owner about it or asking them to link to your original canonical URL.

Step 6: Search for yourself on Google.

First, search Google for your brand name.

Unless you’re a brand-new business, you should be the first search result. If not, that’s a sign of bigger problems.

If you’re not first, some steps you can take to resolve the problem include:

Pro Tip

Speaking of social networks, you can use a tool like to help you grow your Twitter account on auto-pilot. Pretty cool, right?

Next, perform a search using the “site:” operator. For example, “”:

This will show you how many pages on your site have been indexed (in this case, 15,000).

This should be fewer than the number of URLs in your crawl report. If there are more, that could signal junk pages being categorized, such as product or site searches, blog category pages, or tag pages.

These pages typically have no content on them and should be noindexed (this tells Google not to index them in search results).

This will free up your site’s crawl budget — the number of pages and speed with which Google crawls your site.

Step 7: Analyze search traffic.

Take a look at your Google Analytics reports from the beginning of your site’s creation until now.

This will show you if your site was potentially hit with a penalty.

In this case a red flag would be the sudden drop and rise between August and September; however, I happen to know that was due to a redirect looping issue where the page broke.

Easy fix.

Pro Tip

You can actually use the Panguin SEO Tool to compare your analytics against algorithm updates to see if you may have been penalized. Each of those lines correlates with a Google update. Neat-o!

Step 8: Review Google Search Console.

Google Search Console (formerly Webmaster Tools) has lots of great info for our SEO audit.

First, go to Crawl -> Crawl Errors to find any errors Google’s indexing robots are having crawling your site.

Looks like I have 22 “404 Not Found” errors — in other words, links pointing to a page that isn’t there.

I actually deleted a lot of these pages, thus why they can’t be found. You may also get this from old products no longer on your store.

The best thing to do here is redirect those old pages to related product pages, or category pages (or blog posts, if you have broken blog posts).

Next, go to Search Appearance -> HTML Improvements to find any on-page issues Google found.

This will show things like duplicate content, which you should have picked up already in the crawl. But it doesn’t hurt to double-check!

Step 9: Analyze your backlink profile.

Your backlink profile is just a way of analyzing the links pointing to your site. You want to do this to ensure you’re not getting spammy links that could get your site penalized.

To perform a backlink profile analysis, log in to Ahrefs, search for your site in their Site Explorer, then click “Backlinks” in the menu on the left-hand side.

There are three things you should pay attention to here:

  1. Anchor text (the text that is linked to your site)
  2. Broken backlinks
  3. Sleazy links

Let’s start with anchor text.

You can see your anchor text distribution in the overview section of your site’s report, not in the backlink section.

You should see a good variety, as opposed to a lot of one word or one phrase (unless it’s your brand name, which is fine).

Looks like my two biggest are “The Wandering RV” (my brand name) and “Bill Widmer” (hey, that’s me!).

This is fine.

However, notice how 11% of all my links have the anchor text “space-saving techniques”. This is because I wrote an article for Lifehack with that backlink, then over a dozen other sites copied the text and stole their blog content.

This could actually hit my site with a penalty. If those sites that copied are low-quality, I should disavow those links (essentially telling Google not to follow them) to avoid a penalty.

Next up, we have broken links (aka easy wins!).

To see your site’s broken backlinks, go to Backlinks -> Broken.

Looks like BigCommerce has over 2 million broken backlinks! Lots of potential for scoring some “SEO juice” there. :)

The best thing to do here is to either create a 301 redirect from that page to another relevant page OR contact the site owner and ask them to change the link directly to a more relevant, existing page.

While the latter is a little more powerful (since redirects lose a little “link juice”), it’s waaaaay more time-consuming.

Finally, let’s talk about sleazy links.

By sleazy links, I mean links from low-quality sites that are spammy, like the ones I mentioned pointing to my site above.

Again, these can cause Google to penalize you because they may see those links as a PBN (Private Blog Network) or other nefarious black hat tactics.

To find them, just go back to your Backlinks overview and sort the results by DR (Domain Rating) lowest to highest.

All these links with a DR of “N/A” and a UR of 0 are usually crap. Look for spammy sounding URLs and crappy websites whenever you click to view them.

Step 10: Find opportunities to improve site speed.

Site speed AND crawl speed are both important to your site’s ability to rank and user experience. According to a study from Radware, 51 percent of online shoppers in the U.S claimed if a site is too slow they will not complete a purchase.

To get an idea of what you can do to improve your site’s speed go to Google’s PageSpeed Insights Tool and plug in your URL.

Google will score you on Mobile and Desktop from 1 to 100, and give you steps to speed things up. Check out this guide to improving your site’s speed.

However, if you only do one thing, compress your images. Image file sizes can get massive and slow things down, so this one step can make a huge difference.

Fortunately, BigCommerce takes care of this for you by using the built-in Akamai Image Manager.

And that’s it! You’re done with your ecommerce SEO audit. Give yourself a pat on the back — this was a lot to take on!

(Keep in mind there are a few other things you can do, like testing your site’s structured data and performing a content gap analysis, but those are for another guide.)

Now let’s move on to local SEO!

Local SEO for Ecommerce Retailers

While not applicable to everyone, if you have a physical store or just want more local site traffic, local SEO can give you a nice boost.

In this section, I’ll cover two things:

  1. Claiming your Google My Business profile.
  2. Building local citations.
  3. Get local links.

Simple, right?

1. Claim your Google My Business Profile.

Google has a cool feature called Google My Business, which allows you to put your business’s details into Google’s database.

This does a few things, but it mainly allows your business to show up in local search results.

You can show your website information, address, hours of operation, pictures, reviews and more. It’s worth checking out!

But if you really want to show up in local results, you’ll need some local citations.

2. Build local citations.

Local citations are essentially backlinks from other local websites, like news outlets, magazines, press releases and other local media.

For example, claiming your free listing on Yellow Pages would be a local citation.

Citations are important for local SEO because it shows Google that you’re popular in your area.

Just as backlinks help SEO in general, backlinks from local sites help local SEO.

This also works with international SEO. If you want your site to rank higher in Australia search results, but your site is hosted in the U.S., you’ll need more links from Australian sites.

If you really want to rank, you should even consider creating separate sites for each country you are in like Neon Poogle did:

3. Get links on local websites.

Any local links are a great way to build overall domain authority and help local rankings.

Quick wins include local news outlets, charities you support, locally-based blogs and any local associations such as a Chamber of Commerce.

If you’re ready to get serious about local SEO, check out Moz’s guide to building citations.

Content Marketing

Content marketing is my personal favorite kind of marketing. There’s the stats

  • 45% of marketers say blogging is their #1 strategy
  • 70% of people would rather learn about a company through an article than an advert
  • 68% of consumers feel more positive about a brand after consuming content from it

…but there’s also the fact that content is one of the easiest ways for your store to rank for more keywords and build more backlinks.

Think about it – your product and category pages can only rank for so many keywords. Once you’ve maxed those out, you’re not able to cover any more search real estate, so to speak.

Content fills in those gaps. Now you can rank for keywords like “best [insert your product here]”, “how to use [your product]”, and other long-tail keywords that relate to your industry.

For example, I wrote a blog post about the best RV accessories for my blog, The Wandering RV, which now ranks #2 for its keyword.

Once I start selling RV accessories, I can link that page to my product pages and convert more traffic!

Not only does content marketing increase your traffic — and ultimately your sales — it also makes it easier for you to build links to your site and increase your domain authority.

Trust me when I say it’s a lot easier to build links to high-quality blog content over a product or category page.

So how do you do it?

I suggest you check out this guide — it will walk you through everything from finding the right keywords and topics to writing the content, promoting it and building links!

Alternatively, if you prefer listening to content, check out my podcast episode with Kurt Elster.

I walk you through everything step-by-step so you know exactly how to grow your ecommerce store with content marketing!

Now, we’re finally on to the most important part of SEO…

Link Building For Online Retailers

There are two ranking factors Google cares about more than anything else…

  1. Content.
  2. Links.

Backlinks from other websites with high domain authority to your website improves your rankings more than nearly any other ranking factor.

Because they are considered off-page SEO, it’s a little more complicated and time-consuming than simply making a tweak to your website.

Instead, you’ll need to collaborate with other bloggers and website owners to acquire those links.

We’ll talk about four unique link-building opportunities:

  1. Resource page link building.
  2. Partnering with influencers.
  3. Broken link building.
  4. Stealing competitors links.

While these aren’t the only link-building methods, they’ve been the most effective for me and the easiest to learn.

Let’s dive in!

1. Resource page link building.

Resource pages are, for lack of a better definition, pages full of resources around your industry.

They might take the form of a blog post, like this:

Or a static page, like this:

While the latter may not give you a ton of page authority due to the sheer number of links on the page, they are much easier to get and give you some boost in your rankings.

In order to find resource pages, just Google “inurl:resources + X” (X being your product, topic, or industry).

For example, when doing this for my RV blog, I searched “inurl:resources + RV”.

Once you find a promising page, add the URL and the site’s contact info to a spreadsheet. You can find contact info quickly using a tool like Voila Norbert.

Once you have a good list of leads, it’s time to send them an email. You can use a template (like the one below), but make sure you customize each email and don’t sound robotic.

“Hey, [name]!
I was looking for some information on [topic] and found your resource page:
[URL of resource page]
What an awesome list of resources!! Actually, I’d love to add one of my own that I think your readers would love. It’s about [topic].
Mind if I send you the link to check out?
Either way, keep up the awesome work! :)

Honestly, sending lots of these outreach emails sucks. But it’s the most important step in SEO, and it works.

If you want a hack to save time, I use MailShake to send mass custom emails really quickly. (My record is 100 emails in 45 minutes!)

But don’t forget; there are other ways to build links!

2. Partnering with influencers.

Influencers are people in your industry or niche who have a large following and/or a website with a high domain authority but aren’t competing with you directly.

You’ve probably heard of influencer marketing. Partnering with influencers for SEO is a little different, however.

Rather than paying an influencer to share your product on social media, the goal is to get them to link back to your site from their site. This could be a blog post featuring your products, or just getting a link from an existing page on their site.

For example, I used this method to get a link at the bottom of an existing article from Heath and Alyssa, two of the most popular full-time RV bloggers:

I actually met up with them in real life and linked to their blog several times. But you don’t need to go through that much effort to get a link most of the time. Instead, just focus on building friendships with influencers.

How can you do that?

  • Share and comment on their content
  • Send them customers
  • Reach out to them and ask questions about their expertise
  • Give them free products or other gifts
  • There are tons of other ways — just think of it as befriending someone. How can you be that person’s friend? Do more of those things.

There are tons of other ways — just think of it as befriending someone. How can you be that person’s friend?

Do more of those things.

If you’re looking to find more influencers, check out this list of people who are open to partnerships.

Alternatively, you can just start performing Google searches for “[your topic] blogs/influencers”. They’re easy to find – that’s what makes them influential!

3. Broken link building.

Also called “building links by fixing the internet,” broken link building is one of the most effective and easy link building tactics.

It works like this:

You use a browser extension like this one to search websites in your niche for broken links. You can check resource pages for a double-whammy, or just check blog posts around your topic.

Any broken links appear highlighted in red, so they’re easy to spot. Once you find one on a site, email the owner something like this:

“Hey, [name]!

I was browsing your site today and noticed a broken link on this page:

[page URL]

The broken link is pointing to this:

[broken URL]

Just thought you’d like to know! :)

By the way, I have a great resource on [topic] that I think your readers would love! It might make a great addition to your page:

[your URL]


By the way, I sell [product] and I think your readers would love it! Would you mind mentioning it?

[your URL]

Either way, keep up the great work! :)



And that’s all there is to it!

Just keep in mind that you’ll probably need to send a few hundred emails just to get a handful of links, unless you’re a link building genius of some kind.

(Ain’t nobody got time for that. Hire me to do it for you!)

4. Stealing competitors links.

How would you like to improve your rankings while simultaneously pushing out the competition?

Well, you can! All it takes is our handy dandy SEO tool: Ahrefs.

Just as you can use Ahrefs to spy on your competitor’s keywords, you can also use it to find out where they’re getting all their links from — and try to steal them for your own!

Here’s how:

  1. Plug in their URL into the site explorer.
  2. Click on the “backlinks” tab on the left-hand side.
  3. Filter by “One link per domain” and link type “Dofollow” (Dofollow links tell Google to follow them, nofollow links tell Google not to follow them).

Now you can see exactly where your competitors are getting their links, and to what pages. Neat-o!

So how do you steal them?

Well, it depends on the link. If they’re in a blog post — like the “7 Great Gifts for Dachshund Lovers” in the example above — you can just reach out to the owner and try to be included.

Pro Tip

Send them a free gift to boost your chances!

If the link is coming from a resource page, reach out just like you normally would. If it’s from the navigation in a site, reach out and see if you can be added as well or replace the other person — they might have a deal worked out where the linkee is giving the linker free gifts or a commission or something.

See if you can partner with them yourself!

Speaking of commissions, you should definitely consider starting an affiliate program to boost your sales and SEO. It’s practically free money!

And that wraps up our section on link building. But how do you know if this stuff is even working?

Measuring SEO Success for An Ecommerce Website

If you’ve ever wondered, “How do I know if my SEO efforts are working?” you’re not alone.

SEO isn’t as cut and dry as PPC — you can’t immediately calculate ROI after a day of ad spend.

Instead, the signs are more subtle and take a longer time. But what are the signs?

Small increases in rankings.

In order to track your rankings, there are two things you can do:

  1. Use an SEO tool like Ahrefs to track them.
  2. Create an SEO dashboard in your analytics account.

I recommend doing both, if possible, but only the second method is free. Let’s discuss them!

1. Use Ahrefs to track search rankings.

Ahrefs has a built-in rank tracking feature you can use to be notified whenever your rankings increase or decrease.

In fact, they just enhanced this feature to give even more useful information, like comparing your progress to your competition and seeing your overall search visibility!

While I’ve found it’s not 100% accurate, it does give you a general sense of whether your rankings are overall going up or down.

What you’re looking for is a general increase, even a small one, in your rankings for your targeted keywords over time.

Personally, I like to check rankings at least once a week to look for this change, but it can take a few months to really see the fruits of your labor.

2. Use Google Analytics to measure organic traffic and engagement metrics.

If you want a free method to see search ranking improvements, or just want more data (which can’t hurt), install this free SEO dashboard to your analytics.

Here, rather than looking for direct ranking improvements, you’re looking for more subtle clues…

  1. Increases in search traffic
  2. The landing page that search traffic is reaching

These two pieces of information can be used to determine which keywords you’re ranking for

Then, you can perform an incognito Google search to see where you’re at (incognito mode keeps Google from using your personal search history to change results).

Once you’ve found yourself, you know where you stand — if you’re not using Ahrefs, make a note of your current position so you can track it over time.

Again, you’re looking for slight increases. If you go from page 5 to page 2, that’s a big hint you’re doing something right and your efforts will soon pay off.

It’s also important to measure where your organic traffic is coming from: desktop or mobile?

SEMrush discovered that for certain ecommerce verticals the percentage of organic traffic can vary.

Desktop vs Mobile Organic Traffic by Ecommerce Verticals

Desktop performs well in:

  • Health is 60.65% of traffic
  • Furniture is 59.59% of traffic
  • Food/Nearfood is 58.75% of traffic
  • Children is 58.34% of traffic

Mobile performs well in:

  • Electronics is 44.78% of traffic
  • Jewelry is 44.7% of traffic
  • Travel is 44.11% of traffic
  • Flowers is 42.85% of traffic

For ecommerce, people tend to perform research on desktops. Preliminary research may be done on mobile but this also leads to more desktop searches.

This is important because you want your pages to be optimized for the best visitor experience.

Google is moving toward a “mobile-first” index so all ecommerce sites should makes sure their sites are optimized of this major change moving forward.

And that’s about all there is to it!

Give yourself a big pat on the back; this was a pretty dense read.

Be sure to come back to this guide to ecommerce SEO often, as you can’t do it all in one go!

Before I leave you, though, I’d like to inspire you with a few ecommerce SEO case studies.

Ecommerce SEO Case Studies

Just to help you see what’s possible and get you excited, I wanted to share some success stories.

Specifically, these:

Rather than running through each individual ecommerce SEO case study, I’ll just give you an overview on how they did it.

How to perform an update and optimize your SEO:
  1. Find your best keywords (both commercial keywords for your product and category pages, and long-tail keywords for your blog content).
  2. Match the right keywords to the right pages on your site.
  3. Optimize your site by performing an SEO audit, fixing your site’s architecture (if it’s not ideal), reducing thin content and doing everything you can to optimize your crawl budget.
  4. Enhancing your site’s on-page SEO and creating or updating content to be the best result for its target keywords, being sure to link back to your most important product pages.
  5. If necessary, building white-hat links to your most important pages.
  6. Sit back and watch as the money starts pouring in!

That sounds oversimplified — and in some ways it is — but SEO is often unnecessarily complicated.

Just remember that Google’s goal is to provide the best possible search results, so if you make that your goal, you’ll win in the long run.


Executive Summary

There are only so many ways to get traffic — social media, paid ads, email or search.

Search traffic is the only one of these ways that’s reliable, free and fairly easy to get.

If you want your site to get hundreds, thousands or even hundreds of thousands of monthly visitors, you need to learn ecommerce SEO today.

A simple SEO campaign can result in hundreds of extra sales. And it doesn’t have to take you years to achieve, either.

Follow the steps in this guide and you’ll be leagues above your competition. You’ll start to rank on the first page — and even in the top 3 results — for all your shop’s main keywords. It really is a no-brainer.

If you found this guide helpful, please take a moment to share it so we can help as many store owners as possible grow their business!

And if you’re feeling overwhelmed or don’t have time for all this SEO stuff, reach out to me. I’m more than happy to help! :)

Do you have any questions or know other ecommerce SEO best practices? Leave a comment below! Let’s keep the conversation going.

Want more insights like this?

We’re on a mission to provide businesses like yours marketing and sales tips, tricks and industry leading knowledge to build the next house-hold name brand. Don’t miss a post. Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

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21 Sessions, Presentations and Workshops You Can’t Miss at IRCE 2018 Fri, 04 May 2018 16:00:23 +0000 IRCE is arguably the ecommerce industry’s biggest and most influential annual event. My first year attending, I rode the bus…]]>

IRCE is arguably the ecommerce industry’s biggest and most influential annual event.

My first year attending, I rode the bus from hotel to expo center along with representatives from Nordstrom, Walmart, Macy’s and more.

The chatter was a mix of ecommerce technicalities, marketing strategies and a bunch of “I haven’t seen you in forever!”

IRCE is the who’s who of ecommerce – and it doesn’t discriminate.

Marketing, IT and development teams all block hotel rooms near one another, jetting off to hear what’s new and what’s next in their channel before heading out for drinks and dinner that night.

This year, more than 10,000 ecommerce employees are expected to attend.

From workshops and boot camps to hearing from industry leaders you often read about in the news, these are the IRCE 2018 moments that aren’t to be missed.

What Is IRCE?

IRCE – the Internet Retailer Conference & Exhibition – is an annual event held in June in Chicago, Illinois.

It draws more than 10,000 ecommerce professionals to the shores of Lake Michigan with more than 130 speaking sessions, 16 tracks and 300+ vendor exhibitions.

When is IRCE?

IRCE 2018 is June 5-8, in Chicago at McCormick Place West.

Why Should I Attend IRCE?

IRCE is a who’s who of ecommerce professionals.

It is the industry’s most trafficked annual conference combining high-profile brand executive tracks down to workshops to train junior employees.

How to Get the Most Out of IRCE

To get the most out of IRCE, you need to plan.

The conferences and tracks are a great way to get the education and thought leadership you need, but the happy hours and pre-IRCE events are a great way to network and meet the folks you’ll be working with throughout your ecommerce career.

Here are IRCE 2018’s top events.

Want more insights like this?

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Must-Attend IRCE 2018 Sessions + Pre and Post Events

1. The Ecommerce Growth Summit.

This half-day event on June 5 is limited to only 250 attendees and includes speaking tracks from Jennifer Fleiss, Co-founder of Rent the Runway, Ken Natori, President of The Natori Company, Jenny Buchar, Senior Manager, Digital Operations at Skullcandy and others.

Here’s what you can expect to hear there.

Rent the Runway: From Startup to $100M Brand

  • Jenny Fleiss, CEO and Co-Founder, Code Eight & Co-Founder, Rent the Runway

Jenny Fleiss founded what is the world’s most effective dry cleaning business – or at least, that’s how she describes it.

For consumers, Rent the Runway is a luxury clothing rental company that allows regular folks to rent and wear expensive goods they’d otherwise never have access to.

In recent years, Rent the Runway has expanded into subscription plans, pregnancy goods and more. They’ve also spurred hundreds of competitors.

Hear from Jenny herself on how she build one of the world’s most disruptive apparel brands, and how they stay competitive in the growing market.

What to Know Before You Go

New business models are taking the traditional retail world by storm.

And you don’t have to reinvent the wheel to get a piece of the profit.

Start with a subscription model, and take it from there.

Innovation in Intimates: Leveraging AI and Social Commerce to Fuel Digital Growth

  • Ken Natori, President, The Natori Company

The Natori Company has been a wholesaling for more than 40 years. A few years ago, the team decided to launch a direct-to-consumer channel.

But launching a new after 40 years of highly profitable success through tried and trusted partners is not easy task.

But that’s where AI and social commerce could help.

By embracing SaaS technology and emerging trends, Natori is on pace to earn a new generation of consumers – ones who buy from their site, not just in department stores.

What to Know Before You Go

Traditionally B2B retailers are going direct to consumer.

On the flip side, brands that have excelled at direct to consumer are looking at the wholesale model to see where they can increase revenue.

Learn more about the nuances of B2B online selling.

Turning up the volume: How Skullcandy harnesses SaaS for fast GTM & international expansion

  • Jenny Buchar, Senior Manager, Digital Operations
  • Kinsey Butler, Manager, Ecommerce Operations & Analytics

Skullcandy is no novice to SaaS solutions. But in 2018, Skullcandy made the move from Demandware to BigCommerce, drastically cutting operational costs and speeding up GTM on innovative marketing campaigns.

Now, with the extra cash in hand, Skullcandy is rapidly expanding internationally and using speed plus cash flow to continue to 10x their brand growth.

Hear from executives behind the data-driven strategy on why they chose BigCommerce, what the platform is enabling them to do within only a few months, and where they are headed next.

What to Know Before You Go:

Skullcandy is a true omnichannel business. They sell wholesale as well as direct to consumer and on marketplaces like Amazon. And they do that in a variety of different countries and languages.

To make this work, they use a PIM developed by Jasper Studios as their single source of truth, pulling in BigCommerce as Commerce-as-a-Service, serving up their hosted sites and online experiences as well as taking PCI Compliance mitigation off their plates.

This session will be an interesting one for brands that feel “stuck” in the middle of not small, but no big. Leveraging a modern SaaS technology stack is how Skullcandy saves time, money and innovatives quickly.

UX Case Study: Modern Ecommerce Design with Exxel Outdoors

  • Cory Barnes, Digital Marketing Manager, Kelty

The Kelty brand lives in a world of stiff competition. Selling sports and outdoors goods online isn’t easy – especially with a small team competing against the likes of the goliaths in the vertical.

But Kelty has a few tricks up their sleeve – and unparalleled UX is one of them.

From product pages that rank highly for both text and voice search, to enviable mobile conversion rates (and an even better checkout workflow), Kelty is winning consumer hearts and minds from their much larger competitors.

What to Know Before You Go:

Cory doesn’t just grow sales for Kelty – he works for Exxel Outdoors, which own 10 sites, and Cory works on each of them.

“Mobile conversion rate is up 272% and mobile revenue is up 193% since this time last year!”

Read how he hit those numbers.

Join the Ecommerce Growth Summit

A half-day event with some of the industry’s leading technology and innovators. 

Reserve your spot now

2. The Executive Track.

This year’s executive track is impressive. In it, high-profile brand executives will be speaking on top industry trends including going international, leading with innovation, and examining if the buzzy tech trends (AT, VR, AI) are really worth taking seriously yet.

Sample sessions:

Break Point: The reality of US ecommerce today

  • Don Davis, Editor at Large, Internet Retailer

Looked at from a distance, the Top 1000 online retailers in North America had a terrific year in 2017. Their online sales collectively increased 18.5% and ecommerce accounted for 49% of retail industry growth.

It would be easy to conclude from this data that online retailers are prospering and everyone else, particularly merchants that operate bricks-and-mortar stores, are in trouble. But the reality is more complex.

In this session, Don Davis, Internet Retailer editor at large, will drill into the increasingly top-heavy nature of the retailers in online commerce in the US, and the reckoning many merchants, including those that sell primarily online, are facing as they must move beyond growth to prove their worth as sustainable, profitable retail enterprises.

What to Know Before You Go:

One big topic likely to be top of mind here is ecommerce technology. Currently, there is mass confusion in market around cloud commerce – and what that is.

There are also new platform models emerging like CaaS and Headless Commerce. The API economy is growing faster, too.

Smaller and newer brands are taking full advantage of cloud services, but legacy systems are more glacial in adopting the new technology.

Get a full recap of what is happening in the industry right now.

Is it More than Buzz? What Can AI Really Do for My Business?

After years on the fringe, artificial intelligence and machine learning processes are moving into the mainstream of technologies and services available to online retailers.

This session will take a pragmatic look at how these technologies can be applied to solve real, everyday business issues and give business leaders insight into where AI is going and how it can elevate their business long term.

It will include current AI business applications and customer-serving AI applications, and provide a forward-looking spin on AI’s long-term implications for online retail businesses.

What to Know Before You Go:

You don’t need to go to this session to know that AI is working.

If you want proof of that, just read how AI has increased B2C revenue for Natori in the first months of 2018 alone.

Instead, keep an hear out here for the technologies that are working the best – or that work with your already existing tech stack.

Global Opportunities: Where to Go and How to Do It, Now

  • Jon Azrielant, Director of Marketing, Richline Digital/
  • Lily Varon, Research Analyst, Forrester Research

The decision to ‘go global’ is not one to take lightly. But selling internationally online, when done well, can be lucrative.

In this session, experts will provide a SWOT-based (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) assessment to North American e-retailers according to the opportunity different markets present, looking at the size of the market, its e-retail interest, existing competitors in the market and the barriers to entry.

The session will provide a basis for e-retailers to evaluate their global options, identify what they want to get out of selling internationally — true brand expansion or simply moving volume — and advise on methods to address the market, such as through market-specific ecommerce sites or through participation in established online marketplaces.

What to Know Before You Go:

The keyword to listen out for here is localization.

To keep pace with customer expectations across the globe, a localized warehouse for quick delivery and a localized site that speaks to your new location’s specific audience are both must-haves.

Download the full Cross-Border Commerce guide here to learn how to know if you’re brand is ready to go international, and then get the exact steps to launch right the first time.

Evgeniya Rashbam, Director of Events, Yotpo

Evgeniya Rashbam

IRCE is all about connections and networking. IRCE is massive and brings together thousands of people of different roles, backgrounds and demographics.

It has always been an excellent opportunity for us to catch up with so many partners, customers, prospects and just old industry friends.

2018 won’t be an exclusion.

Plus, not only do brands and vendors know their stuff, they also know how to party!

Some of my best convos were made at the numerous parties exhibitors are throwing after show hours. Work hard, party harder.

3. The Fashion Track.

There’s a whole fashion track this year, where speakers will be talking about selling on Amazon, fashion-specific trends like See Now Buy Now, and mobile.

See Now Buy Now – Shoppable Content

  • Craig Kapilow, Senior Director, Integrated Marketing, Rue La La

Long before “shoppable content” entered the vernacular, Rue La La was already doing it, not only via desktop but mobile, too.

See a flirty dress or smashing shoes on Dancing with the Stars? Get it via your mobile device.

In this session, our speaker will detail how bolstering functionality of the app, with exclusive features not immediately available via desktop, heightens engagement, loyalty and sales.

Hear how exclusive, custom content matters more now than ever and how you can source, develop and incorporate it into your own brand’s story.

What to Know Before You Go:

Shopping on Instagram has made this concept free and near-instantly available for online merchants.

Launch a post, tag a product from your catalog and allow your fans to See Now, Buy Now.

Get a full guide of 80 Shopping on Instagram examples to see what brands are doing to drive revenue from trending events.

How to Launch a New Brand on Amazon in 6 Months

It’s pretty well-established that consumers begin their search on Amazon, so it’s no surprise that’s where new brands start, too.

In this session, you’ll hear insights from two fashion brand startups that got momentum going not with deep pockets but with thoughtful strategies to leverage the Amazon platform. Attendees will come away with tactics to combine the power of Alibaba, Amazon and the sharing economy to launch new brands with unprecedented pace and minimum investment.

Attendees will hear best ways to harmonize both the marketplace platform and your own standalone website so consumers can shop your brand wherever they want.

What to Know Before You Go:

With more than 50% of U.S. consumers beginning their product search on Amazon, most online brands have come to accept their need to sell on the marketplace.

Indeed, Amazon is the commodity market, which means your website needs to be the spot where to communicate value and build community.

For those of you not yet up to speed on Amazon – including if you should sell there, the success others are having and how to do it – this book is for you.

Visual Search and Discovery – Transforming the Shopping Experience

  • Amy Vener, Lead, Retail Vertical Strategy, Pinterest

Consumers move quickly from the mentality of “just browsing” to “I need it” when relevant visual inspiration hits.

Learn how Trunk Club leverages image-enabled visual search to help consumers build their best wardrobes and discover new possibilities.

Our speaker from Pinterest will cover how data collected via visual search yields new insights to shopper preferences.

What to Know Before You Go:

Visual search isn’t only impactful for the fashion industry.

In fact, The Knobs Co, a mixed B2B and B2C online seller, won a 2016 Innovation Award for their building out of a visual search tool on site.

“Our search-by-image feature has brought on-site search time down 100 fold,” says David Mason, CEO at The Knobs Company. “What used to be done manually can now be done automatically.”

Read exactly how they did it.

Ryan Kulp, Founder, Fomo

Ryan Kulp

We’re attending and exhibiting at IRCE to meet digital marketers and developers from large-scale ecommerce businesses.

We’re looking forward to learning from them how they approach marketing attribution and conversion rate optimization at the enterprise level, so we can tailor aspects of our own platform to meet their needs.

Last year our friends at PriceWaiter attended, and they said it was a no-brainer for retail-tech companies like ourselves.

We’re thrilled to have a dedicated booth, in addition to attendee passes, which should allow us the space to build real relationships with potential integration partners or clients.

4. Post-IRCE Workshops.

Stay a day later than the crowds and join in on a workshop to help you boost specific areas of your business. Here are our favorites.

The B2B Workshop.

Covering topics including wholesale strategy, what’s in the future for B2B and how to mix self-service and sales reps to build a strong pipeline, this workshop will get you hands on building a scalable B2B channel before you leave Chicago.

To add to this, if you can, hit up the pre-IRCE Ecommerce Technology workshop to get prepped for this B2B version.

There you can hear from Todd Morris, Founder and CEO of BrickHouse Security on how he launched a complex and crazy successful B2B channel on top of his B2C site:

Selling direct to consumers is the core of ecommerce but selling to businesses can open up new paths to grow your businesses.

B2B customers have a significantly higher average order value (AOV) and lifetime value (LTV), but they require a very different user experience.

BrickHouse Security CEO Todd Morris will share best practices for serving B2C and B2B with one brand and one website including an overview of the technologies and tools, as well as the critical integrations with their enterprise systems that helped support and grow both sides of the business.

What to Know Before You Go:

B2B online sales excluding automatic EDI initiated orders is set to hit $7.7T by 2021. If you’re business isn’t preparing to capture part of that revenue, well – you should be.

Here are the industry biggest trends. See where you can fit in.

The Search Workshop.

Retailers rank search engine optimization and search engine marketing as a top online marketing method. But every seasoned retail marketer knows that when it comes to acquiring customers, yesterday’s SEO and SEM approaches don’t necessarily work as well today.

This workshop will cover the most effective search practices to turn browsers into buyers.

What to Know Before You Go:

Google is gearing up to compete more readily against Amazon, and putting additional investment in their shopping tool (which many consider a sort of marketplace).

Google thinks it can win here for a pretty impactful reason: It won’t compete against retailers like Amazon does.

It’s a show worth watching, and for which making sure you’re optimized is smart.

Design & Usability Workshop.

Fundamental to a website’s success is the ability for shoppers to understand quickly how to find what they want and to navigate to the product, put it in a cart and check out fast.

This workshop provides guidance on designing sites for desktop and mobile and making sure they’re easy to use.

What to Know Before You Go:

If Amazon is the commodity market, then your site has to provide the unparalleled experience some shoppers want from a non-marketplace shop.


Because that conveys value – and allows you to charge non-commodity prices for your items.

This starts with on-site merchandising and a crazy good theme.

Stewart Wesley, Partnerships Lead, Swell

Stewart Wesley

I am looking forward to hearing directly from merchants about current pain points and goals so I can help them problem solve even when Swell isn’t part of the final solution.

In situations where a merchant might benefit from working with one of our partners, I really enjoy getting conversations started to solve complex issues that Swell’s offerings might not be able to address.

I am also looking forward to connecting with new and existing technology and agency partners to find new and meaningful ways of collaborating to create value for merchants.

5. Fulfillment, Operations & Customer Service Track.

Unlike the technology industry, after a conversion, retailers have a whole other set of operations they need to take to make sure their product gets in the hands of their customers.

And this is often the trickiest part of retail.

Marketing you can learn – or hire well for. But operations and fulfillment needs hands on experience and understanding.

This track gets the experts on stage to talk about the most important aspect of retail: getting the goods to the door.

Too Fast? Too Slow? Industry Standards and Customer Expectations for Delivery

  • Ken Cassar, Principal Analyst, Slice Intelligence
  • Lauren Freedman, Senior Vice President, Digital Strategy, Chief Merchant, Astound Commerce

Getting online orders to consumers in a timely manner requires careful calculations of costs versus reward.

When it comes to delivery, how fast is fast enough? Do consumers really need or expect their orders the next day?

In this session, experts will benchmark ecommerce delivery speeds and reveal fresh research into what consumers say they want balanced against what they are willing to accept.

  • For instance, does shaving a day off delivery actually improve repeat customer metrics?
  • How critical is in-store pickup and how are store associates meeting online shoppers’ expectations?

Our speakers will address these key delivery issues and provide insights retailers can take home to benchmark their own performance.

What to Know Before You Go:

Amazon has upped the shipping speed game forever. But does that mean that consumers always expect immediate delivery?

What are your options as a retailer? After all, margins are at stake.

This session will get you the info you need, and this guide can give you a head start on ideas.

Ensuring Security in a Less-Than-Secure Environment

Online retailers can’t be lackadaisical about the risk of data breaches that expose shoppers’ personal information.

Consumer data bought and sold by criminals on the dark web can be used to infiltrate e-retailers’ businesses in many ways, such as account takeovers that use stolen usernames and passwords to get into stored accounts, and payment fraud.

With the amount of compromised data at risk, standard security protocols may not be enough.

This session will bring e-retailers up to date on the threats, what new protocols or security measures can be applied to deal with them, and, in the unfortunate event of a direct breach or exposure, provide an emergency response plan to help retailers react.

What to Know Before You Go:

Buttoning up your security plan is always a good ideas. For many brands on open-source platforms, the basics of credit card data security must be handled by them: PCI Compliance.

SaaS solutions mitigate that for brands on their platforms, ensuring PCI Compliance through them and their payment providers.

That’s a pretty big deal – and time saver.

See what it could mean for your business.

Want 2 Return, Can U Help? Text Message Customer Service

The convenience of text messaging has made it a go-to way to communicate with friends — who talks on the phone anymore, really?

Now online retailers are beginning to find the preference for texting extending into customer service interactions.

In this session, online retailers that enable customer service representatives to respond to inquiries sent via SMS text and instant message (such as Facebook Messenger and Apple Business Chat) will share how they integrated the capabilities into their existing customer service platforms, what they had to implement with their customer service staff to make this distinctive form of communication effective, and what texting is teaching them about what consumers expect from e-retailers today.

What to Know Before You Go:

Are we in the age of customer service omnipresence? Seems like it now that customer service reps can text message and Facebook messenger with customers just like they would friends.

But, the data shows this quick response and transparency works. And it works fast.

How to Stay on Top of Operations when Selling Everywhere

Scott PalmerDerek O'CarrollE-retailers today manage sales coming from a multitude of channels—such as their own sites, online marketplaces and drop ship partners.

Keeping key operations like inventory and fulfillment in sync is critical and requires real-time visibility. Enlisting the right systems to scale efficiencies, expand to new channels and avoid stockouts empowers retailers to punch well above their weight class, while staying lean.

In this session, a sporting goods manufacturer will share how it managed explosive growth across an array of sales channels by applying an operations hub technology that integrated ecommerce, inventory and fulfillment so the company could keep up with sales and fulfill all orders within 24 hours.

Our second speaker will detail the unique management challenges different sales and operational systems present in being united.

What to Know Before You Go:

Brightpearl is a true best-in-class, modern ERP.

No kidding, quickly scaling retailers fawn over them. And even legacy brands looking to move to a more agile ERP are finding the complexity they need in this cloud-hosted solution.

If for no other reason, this session is worth attending to see how the Brightpearl CEO is thinking about omnichannel, the future and how their solution is the pain killer for so many retail headaches.

Test out their solution before you go.

Leo, Chief Operations Officer, Eye4Fraud

Leo Dresdner

IRCE is a great opportunity for us to meet face to face with many of our existing customers from across the globe, so I’m looking forward to that. And of course to meet new ones as well!

It always surprises me how many ecommerce business owners are struggling with fraud without knowing the kind of solutions that are out there.

Some are suffering high losses not knowing how to handle it, and some are losing a significant amount of sales by declining too many orders. So, discussing solutions and being able to provide some help and tips about this issue has always been a great experience.

6. The Future of Ecommerce Track

OK – this isn’t the actual name of the track, but all the sessions point in this direction.

From Cassandra to machine learning and everything in between, these sessions will show you where the future is already seeping in.

Listening to Cassandra: Getting the Future Right

  • Thornton May, Futurist, Executive Director, Dean, IT Leadership Academy

Thornton MayThe future is knowable – if you collaborate with the right people in the right way. Every three years, a major paradigm shift regarding dominant design for foundational technology (chips, servers, networks, storage, software).

  • Every year, a major new application category (mobility, business intelligence, social media, artificial intelligence, machine learning, blockchain) appears.
  • Every quarter, a new technology advance makes something that was once impossible/too expensive possible/affordable.
  • Every minute a customer has an expanded expectation.

Thornton May, CIO-whisperer, best-selling author, educator and anthropologist-in-futurist-clothing will – in a provocative and highly interactive session – launch the audience on a voyage of discovery focusing on the mental models associated with:

  • How to avoid and how to create strategic surprise
  • How to tap the “wisdom of the crowd” and simultaneously avoid “group think”
  • Understanding the realpolitik of information and data
What to Know Before You Go:

Read up on 2017’s Innovation Award winners to see what is already being done to surprise and delight – and how you can build off of their ideas.

Avoiding Pitfalls of Machine Learning with (Un)Common Sense

Forest BronzanMichael KaselitzIn the age of big data, cross-channel marketing and hyper-targeted customer experiences, there is no doubt that Machine Learning is going to play a larger role for e-retailers.

Machine Learning uses artificial intelligence to enable systems to learn and improve without human intervention. The tough question is how to balance machine learning with common sense to ensure your systems are running to their full potential.

Attendees will learn how to:

  • Configure external systems to ensure they work in harmony
  • Resist the urge to set it and forget it
  • Avoid over-automating all your systems
What to Know Before You Go:

Before you can get your hands dirty with machine learning, make sure your analytics are properly setup and functionality as is.

Start with your ecommerce platform provided analytics and then expand into Google Analytics.

Once everything is reporting correctly, go crazy with AI.

Think Like a Tech Startup: Tech Growth with Retail Efficiency

Jonathan WuMany ecommerce companies heralded as pioneers and case studies for success ultimately flounder when the burdens of growth overwhelm.

Building a successful ecommerce company requires mastering the discipline of retail merchandising while also managing a complex technology infrastructure to control the increasing costs of logistics.

In this talk, our speaker will analyze the importance of tailoring your merchandise and marketing for driving revenue growth, while constantly innovating and adapting your technology and operations infrastructure to scale efficiently, sustaining profit margins against downward pressures.

What to Know Before You Go:

Forecasting and testing cultures lead to fast tech growth. To do that, you need a sales funnel.

Here’s how to build one for your ecommerce channel.

Ethan Giffin, CEO, Groove

Ethan Giffin

It’s like a family reunion that you want to attend – get to see so many users and partners all in one place.

To me, IRCE is all about innovation. I love the opportunity to walk the show floor and see what products and services are innovating.

I also love seeing what the big brands are doing and developing a strategy to pull down to the mid-market.

In all, it’s all about the stories. I love meeting e-tailers that are selling unique and niche products and hearing their amazing stories probing into what’s working and what’s not.

I met a gentleman who randomly started selling clothing tags in his basement and turned it into a 5 million dollar business!

7. New to ecommerce? These sessions are for you.

IRCE isn’t just for the big brands – though there are plenty of them there.

From the New Recruit Workshop to new merchandising strategy talks to get you out on the right foot, new hires ne to the industry and new entrepreneurs can gain valuable insight and actionable steps for building or launching the next big brand.

Here are the sessions not to be missed.

Getting the Package to Customers: When – And If — to Outsource Fulfillment

Krish Iyer austin graffOnce online retailers reach a certain scale, outsourcing fulfillment becomes a key consideration if they are to stay competitive.

Are the time and energy expended on do-it-yourself fulfillment saving resources or limiting growth?

What about drop-shipping options, and how do you negotiate the best shipping arrangements with carriers?

Using the real-life experience of an online retailer, our speakers will examine the costs and charges that make up fulfillment, at what point in a e-retailer’s growth it should consider outsourcing fulfillment and tips on evaluating and negotiating with fulfillment services providers and carriers.

What to Know Before You Go:

There’s tons of advice and insight out there on how to get people to your site and converting, but the #1 most important part of running a successful ecommerce business is how you get that product to that customer.

And customer expectations in delivery are high. From free shipping to next day delivery, here’s a good shipping for profit piece to get you caught up on your options before you go.

Bye-bye, Buy Box: A Merchandising Strategy Gets a Boost by Going Private-label

Jason BoyceWhen it comes to selling on marketplaces – now representing close to half of all online sales globally – having the same UPC code as 20 other sellers doesn’t work.

One way to stand out is to promote what other sellers don’t have – products that are exclusive to your site.

In this session, learn what one retailer did to reboot its merchandising strategy to emphasize the private-label exclusive goods sold only on its own site, and how refocusing merchandising improved results and reduced its reliance on marketplaces such as Amazon.

What to Know Before You Go:

Jason has spoken at events far and wide, and he always draws a crowd.

Sure, his expertise is impressive, but his humble attitude and dedication to learning (even if it costs him $1M in revenue) is why conference rooms fill up.

You don’t want to miss seeing this rising star in ecommerce give one of his biggest talks yet.

The Design Rules You Need to Know

p>Kevin Richards

Learn general design rules and answers to your burning questions: Should you rotate images on the home page? Should you prioritize the display of sales and discounts or your killer product images?

Hear the most-asked-for design FAQs get answered — and make sure your store is on the right track.

What to Know Before You Go:

An early Internet entrepreneur, Kevin Richards founded Ventura Web Design & Marketing, a full-service agency that has helped clients generate more than $1 billion in revenue, in 1997.

In other words: he knows his stuff.

In his 24 years of experience, Kevin has worked with more than 1,000 companies to help them achieve their online goals.

Executive Summary

IRCE is the ecommerce industry Who’s Who event. These 21 sessions are only a handful of talks being given, parties being thrown and so much more.

Plus, Chicago is a fantastic spot to be in June.

Be sure to bring your running shoes along with your business suit. The trail along Lake Michigan is full of early risers and joggers you’ll be bond to see again in the seats next to you at The Expo Center.

Want more insights like this?

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The Key to Wielding Big Data in Ecommerce to Build Personalized Experiences and Improve Retention Tue, 01 May 2018 16:53:49 +0000 The surfacing of the Facebook debacle involving Cambridge Analytica and the massive amounts of data collected from 87 million users,…]]>

The surfacing of the Facebook debacle involving Cambridge Analytica and the massive amounts of data collected from 87 million users, which was used to influence the 2016 presidential election, revealed big data as the powerful beast it can be.

Even when used with good intentions, as Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg alleged his company did, data can lead people, and businesses, astray.

Wired dives straight to the heart of the matter:

“Modernity provides too many variables, but too little data per variable. So the spurious relationships grow much, much faster than real information. In other words: Big data may mean more information, but it also means more false information.”

The cherry picking that can be done with big data allows you to manipulate information to tell you whatever you want it to, which is great for headlines, but bad for business.

However, that’s not to say that big data can’t still be an essential tool in your arsenal as your grow your ecommerce channel.

The key to wielding big data in such a way as to make it work for you demands you focus on two things:

  1. Your circle of competence.
  2. The way the world works.

One of the most exciting yet challenging things about running an ecommerce site or channel is unpredictability — though the possibility of having to appear before the Senate, as Zuckerberg did, is perhaps not the kind of excitement that any business owner wants to be involved with.

Nonetheless, both technology and human behavior are constantly changing, and as a business owner or ecommerce manager, you have to be ready to adapt.

Due to the ease of creating and maintaining an ecommerce shop, as well as the rise of micro-brands, today’s market is riddled with cutthroat competition and decreased customer loyalty.

Online businesses are constantly looking for ways to retain customers and improve the customer experience, not knowing that the solution is right at their fingertips.

Despite the intense competition, ecommerce business owners have an advantage over traditional retailers that own brick and mortar shops.

Ecommerce is nimble and adaptable; these businesses aren’t confined to a particular location and often have inventory or retail leases to worry about when using 3PLs or running an ecommerce-only operation.

Ecommerce businesses do have the ability to reach a global market, with access to information that brick and mortar retailers don’t have.

Nonetheless, it is even more essential that ecommerce business owners and managers operate within their circle of competence.

Everyone has a circle of competence created through study and experience. The key is to function within this circle and leverage your expertise to amplify your output.

When you are properly leveraging your deeper understanding of a market, product, or clientele, you are able to reap larger rewards for the same amount of effort than someone operating outside their circle of competence.

As Warren Buffet wrote in a 1996 Chairman’s Letter,

“What an investor needs is the ability to correctly evaluate selected businesses. Note that word ‘selected’: You don’t have to be an expert on every company, or even many. You only have to be able to evaluate companies within your circle of competence. The size of that circle is not very important; knowing its boundaries, however, is vital.”

Combining your understanding of how the real world works with your circle of competence will allow you to utilize big data to your advantage.

In other words, it can help you build a data-driven ecommerce business.

What is Big Data and Why Should You Use it?

Big data is a big buzzword when it comes to modern business management. It refers to extremely large data sets that may be analyzed to reveal patterns and trends in human behavior.

With people producing an estimated 1.7MB of new information per second, it is expected that our accumulated digital universe of data will grow from 4.4 zettabytes to 44 zettabytes (or 44 trillion gigabytes) by 2020.

digital universe

Many brands think access to big data is confined to big retailers that can afford an in-house team or who can afford to buy data from data brokers.

You’ll be happy to discover that this logic is flawed, as even the smallest businesses have the means to access and analyze ecommerce big data.

Ecommerce platforms like BigCommerce track and give merchants access to consumer behavior data, which business owners can use to make informed decisions.

Yet, despite having so much ‘power’ in their hands, less than 0.5% of available data is being used for these purposes.

In this, we’ll look at how you can leverage ecommerce big data effectively to grow your business and better serve your customers.

Want more insights like this?

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The Benefits of Using Big Data in Ecommerce

According to a study by BARC, some benefits of using big data include:

  • Making better strategic decisions (69%).
  • Improved control of operational processes (54%).
  • Better understanding of customers (52%).
  • Cost reductions (47%).

This is crucial for ecommerce businesses. As you scale, “getting geeky” about your data becomes more and more important. Data-driven ecommerce businesses regularly measure and improve on the following:

  1. Improve shopper analysis.
  2. Improve customer service.
  3. Personalize customer experience.
  4. Provide more secure online payment processing.
  5. Better target advertising.

How to Use Big Data for Ecommerce Business Success

1. Shopper analysis.

Big data is helpful in developing buyer personas or shopper profiles.

This helps you to determine customer preferences, such as which products they like best or what times they usually shop.

These insights can be used to improve your operations.

For example, you can use the information about peak shopping times to get rid of excess stock at sale prices or run social ads during these timeframes.

Ecommerce big data may also reveal some unexpected shopping behaviors.

For instance, using big data, Walmart discovered that people who bought diapers also tended to buy beer. Imagine the cross-promotional opportunities…

For businesses using SaaS technologies or data analytics tools, these kinds of insights are often easy to uncover.

BigCommerce Insights Analytics

BigCommerce Insights Analytics automatically serves up this type of information.

2. Customer service.

Customer service plays a huge role in ecommerce.

It costs 5x less to retain customers than acquire new ones and loyal customers spend up to 67% more than new customers.

If customers are not satisfied, 13% of them will tell 15 or more people they are unhappy. Conversely, if they had a positive experience, 72% said they would share this with 6 or more people.

Online retailers can use big data to track customer service experiences, like showing how fast your response times are — which plays a huge factor in customer service.

71% of online customers expect to be able to access help online within 5 minutes.

Big data can also be used to track delivery times and customer satisfaction levels, and help companies identify potential problems—then resolve them before a customer gets involved.

Integration apps and tools like Reamaze can help you do this in a matter of minutes.

“I’ve used many helpdesk products in the past and it doesn’t get any better or simpler than Reamaze. This is a well thought out product with the perfect set of features. It took me about 10 minutes to set everything up. Literally.

I can help customers using Live Chat directly on my store. I can even see what customers are doing and where they go. Works with my emails and social accounts too!” –– Reamaze Customer Review

Reamaze App

Full customer service integration from on-site chat to Facebook messenger and beyond. This app also pulls in customer on-site activity data to help you identify pain points or poor UX experiences.

“I’m just starting to setup Reamaze helpdesk. I created an account and got it working on my store in minutes. Truly great integration. Reached out to their support and they were very helpful. Looks like it’s going to be a winner in supporting my future customers with live chat.

Apparently they also offer a real time live dashboard so I can see which customers are on my store and what they’re doing. This is a native integration so I can see customers’ order data as well.” –– Reamaze Customer Review

Better Decision Making Made Easy

Fast-scaling businesses use metrics dashboards to guide their meetings and decision making – taking gut preference out of the process in favor of data driven results. 

Use this dashboard to see the same results for your brand. 

Get your free template now.

3. Personalized experience.

With the cutthroat competition in the ecommerce industry, ecommerce personalization isn’t just something to set your business apart — it’s practically a requirement.

Big data can help by giving insights on customer behavior and demographics, which is useful in creating personalized experiences.

You can use ecommerce big data to:

  • Send emails with customized discounts and special offers to re-engage users.
  • Give personalized shopping recommendations.
  • Develop flexible or dynamic pricing, which relies on external factors such as consumer demand and competitors’ pricing. A 1% increase in price translates to 8.7% increase in profits. Walmart uses online shopping big data to determine patterns that point to higher profits. For example, a product sold on its own may not make as much profit compared to pairing it with something else.
  • Present targeted ads, as different customers want different/relevant messaging. You may already be using some form of big data by presenting targeted ads on your social media networks.

One easy way brands are personalizing the on-site experience for existing customers – and thus improving retention – is with customer groups.

Here is how customer group personalization works:

  1. Determine your best customers.
    BigCommerce customer insights
  2. Create a VIP customer group for those customers.
    BigCommerce customer groups
  3. When you launch new products, make those items exclusively available to the VIP customer group for a certain amount of time.
    BigCommerce customer groups VIP
  4. Offer that group discounts no one else gets.
    BigCommerce group discounts

4. Secure online payments.

Big data can also help in securing online payment processing.

It has the ability to integrate different payment functions in a centralized platform, making it easy to analyze trends.

It’s worth calling out the risk in using a centralized platform for this purpose. Having a lot of sensitive personal information in one place can be a draw for hackers. PCI Compliance helps to mitigate this, as well as data tokenization.

To view which payment methods are working best, create a custom orders view and select the payment method(s) you want to track.

Payment Method Tracking

You can do the same for your various channels by creating a custom view to see order type by that channel.

order method tracking

5. Supply management and logistics.

Stocking the right inventory can be a challenge for online retailers.

Order too little and you have missed an opportunity for selling, and too much means taking on the extra cost to store products and a risk of not being able to sell it all.

Predictive analysis through the use of ecommerce big data can help with these supply chain issues in terms of:

  • Trend forecasting: Using social listening to determine which items are causing a buzz, or your On the Rise product data.

BigCommerce Product Insights Report

  • Determining the shortest routes: Amazon uses big data to help in their expedited shipping process. They find a vendor closest to the buyer to reduce shipping cost.

Multi-Warehouse Orchestration

For determining the shortest routes and using multi-warehouse capabilities, most brands use an ERP like Brightpearl or their preferred vendor.

These ERPs serve as the a single source of truth, connecting orders back in to the system and routing shipping information appropriately.

In order for this top work, API call limits and speed are incredibly important –– as is your system integrator.

SILK Software helped Flip Flop Shops setup a multi-warehouse, in-store pick up model for the international brand.

Here is how it works:

When an order is placed on, it is automatically routed to the appropriate manufacturer via BigCommerce’s integration with Hublogix, so the end customer has a seamless buying experience.

Customers can also locate the nearest FFS store location to them, and if they are to place an order, the system will automatically calculate the nearest store based on shipping zip code and credit that franchise a percentage of the sale.

Recorded business outcomes:

  • Sales growth across all franchises, both on and offline.
  • A single site and source of truth for all online sales

ecommerce big data shipping

Executive Summary

Ecommerce big data is a very helpful tool for the competitive ecommerce business world.

In order to make it work, though, you need:

  1. The permission of your user to collect the data (as required by GDPR).
  2. Smart data programs that offer value to your customer.
  3. To keep the data small, and function within your area of expertise. Not all data points matter.

For brands using SaaS platforms like BigCommerce, you already have access to useful tools allowing you to make sense of your customer data as well as collected on-site data for A/B testing and UX experiments.

Now, the key is for you to operate within your circle of competence in order to avoid the pitfalls of big data and use it as a tool to power business growth, setting yourself apart from other businesses.

As only less than 0.5% of available data is being used to power business growth, set yourself apart from other businesses by using online shopping big data.

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]]> 0
Google’s Doubling Down on Ads. Here’s How to Optimize Your Google Shopping Ads Now. Fri, 20 Apr 2018 14:00:41 +0000 Have you been watching? Google and Amazon are in a showdown. Just check out how their ad listings currently look:…]]>

Have you been watching?

Google and Amazon are in a showdown.

Just check out how their ad listings currently look:

google shopping versus amazon shopping results

Google Shopping search versus Amazon Shopping search (via Search Engine Land)

But Google isn’t stopping with a similar design. They are placing themselves firmly in the corner of businesses.

In March 2018, Google announced their Shopping Actions launch –– a tool aimed at helping retailers compete against Amazon.

In early beta programs, Google retail partners saw the average size of a customer’s shopping basket increase by 30% after joining the program.

The program at current is quite limited.

This is important for retailers and advertisers to follow so they can understand how they should divide up their marketing dollars.

The goal of Google’s Shopping Actions Program is to provide shoppers a few key benefits:

  • Universal cart checkout experience regardless of where a product is from
  • Single-click reordering
  • Integration with Google Express, Google Search, and smart speakers (i.e. voice commerce!)
  • Pay-per-sale instead of Pay-per-click

Now, getting into the program is a bit strict for most retailers. Currently the program is based only in the U.S. and while you can apply to participate, it is invite-only at the writing of this article.

That said, Google is clearly investing more and more in their ads product.

No better time, then, to do a deep dive on Google PLAs, also known as Google Shopping Ads.

Because the absolute best position your brand can be in is with highly optimized Google PLAs as they invest in the platform and help your items on your own branded site show up higher than those from Amazon.

Let the showdown begin. After all, it’s only win-win for you.

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What are Google Shopping Ads?

google shopping ads on serps

Google Shopping Ads are optimized for conversion based on factors known to engage online shoppers with a product.

These include showcasing:

  • Product image.
  • Product title.
  • Price.
  • Reviews.
  • Discounts (if they apply).
  • Locality.

PLAs display at the top of search results, above search ads.

google shopping ads above search results

Google PLAs displaying at the top of search results.

They also appear in the upper right corner of search results.

Since Google has long removed right side ads from desktop search results, PLAs are the only ads that show in this position.

google search side page results

Google PLAs displaying in the upper right corner of search results. Since February 2016, these are the only type of ads that show in this position on desktop.

Now that you understand what Product Listing Ads are, let’s talk about why they are important for your business and how to use them.

Why PLAs are Important

PLAs allow you to take up additional visual  real estate on Google’s search engine results page (SERP).

Combining a Google Shopping strategy with your current paid search and SEO tactics will help you earn the full visual real estate of Google – increasing your chance for click-thru traffic!

Google Shopping dominate serps

Example of Allied Hand Dryer using organic search, paid search, and Google Shopping to dominate the SERP.

The Difference Between Google AdWords & Merchant Center

Google Shopping campaigns are often lumped in with traditional paid search campaigns because you can manage them within the AdWords interface.

However, you actually need to use a completely different Google tool and setup to start creating your Product Listing Ads (or Google Shopping Ads): Google Merchant Center.

The shopping campaigns also function a bit differently, as well.

Google Text Ads (AdWords) use keywords for bids.

Google Shopping Ads (Merchant Center) are bid on by product or product category.

This means that Google ultimately decides which keyword or keyword group your big on a product falls into.

How Google decides what is relevant is based on information submitted through the product data feed.

This data feed includes loads of information, such as:

  • Product name.
  • Category.
  • Image address.
  • Pricing.
  • Color.
  • Size.
  • Inventory.
  • Brand.
  • Description.

The data feed for Google Shopping campaigns can be submitted through the Google Merchant Center.

How-to Setup Google Shopping:

Automate Your Google Shopping Submission

From Toyota to Skullcandy and everyone in between, Fortune 500 and enterprise retailers are exploring SaaS ecommerce options for fast GTM while maintaining necessary security protocol.

See who they are, how they are doing it and test drive your own sandbox site.

Automate it now.

How to Optimize Your Google Shopping Ad Campaigns

Getting setup on Google Merchant Center is just the first hurdle.

Google Shopping / PLAs are expensive. And it behooves you to figure out how to increase your ROAS (return on ad spend) over time.

Here are 10 tactics to make sure your ads improve in performance over time, rather than become a debt center.

1. Optimize your feed with common SEO tactics.

Google Shopping pulls relevant keyword data from the data feed you submit to your merchant account –– or that you submit through the Sales & Orders app..

The keywords you include in your feed will determine how Google decides to show your ads in relevant search queries.

Therefore, you want to structure your SEO with an information hierarchy in mind.

Your product title, one the most important elements in your feed, provides insight into how this looks.

bigcommerce control panel product details

The product title should be optimized based on the type of product you are selling, but an simple way to think of title optimization is detailed below.

Google Shopping example ad product title

Example of a Google PLA where the product title has been optimized to contain brand, style, color, size and product details.

How to Optimize a Google Shopping Product title:
  1. Brand.
  2. Style.
  3. Model.
  4. Color.
  5. Size.
  6. Other important features or options.

You’ll also want to apply this same strategy when optimizing your product description.

Include relevant information such as:

  • Patterns
  • Textures
  • Shape
  • Materials
  • Technical specifications.

Google Shopping bigcommerce control panel settings

You can input all of this information for each individual product on your product information detail page.

Make sure your titles and descriptions are clear, descriptive, and useful for the customer.

Be careful not to keyword-stuff your product feed.

Brett Curry, CEO, OMG Commerce

Get your feed right! Work to properly optimize your titles, descriptions, product types and other required data points. While data feeds aren’t sexy, they are the foundation of your Google Shopping campaign. A weak or under-optimized feed leads to anemic Google Shopping campaigns.

At best your campaigns will be an uphill battle if your feed is under optimized. I could argue that bidding is where the “magic happens” for Google Shopping, but without the proper feed everything else suffers.

2. Include negative keywords.

You can optimize your product feed for keywords but you cannot actually bid on keywords in your campaigns.

However, you can add negative keywords to indicate when your ads should not show up.

Start by adding known irrelevant terms then continue to review your search terms report to identify low performing terms.

Negative keywords can be used at the campaign level, or added to specific ad groups.

Let’s say you sell shoes for women, but not men’s or kid’s shoes.

You would want to add [-mens], [-male], [-kids] and [-childrens] to your negative keyword list so your product listings don’t show for queries with these terms.

Use the proper match type to exclude keywords by one of the below based on your strategy:

  • Broad match
  • Broad match modified
  • Phrase match
  • Exact match based

Google Shopping adwords negative keyword

Add negative keywords at the campaign level, as shown here, or the ad group level.

Jan Lastuvka, CEO & Co-Founder, MonkeyData

Set negative keywords to your campaigns so that you do not pay for clicks that are not related to your budget.

For example, if you sell baseball cleats, set [-football] and [-rugby] as negative keywords so that people looking for these products do not see your ads and therefore do not potentially click on them, driving up your costs when they’re not actually interested in your products.

3. Include a product’s GTIN.

Google requires all retailers to provide a Global Trade Item Numbers (GTIN), more commonly known as UPCs in the United States, on all new in-stock products advertised through Shopping campaigns.

Google states that GTINs help them determine the exact product and brand being sold, and thus increase exposure because they have more details on the product.

If you source products from local or boutique manufacturers that do not have GTINs (or other product identifiers), however, you can set the “identifier_exists” field to false. Or, simply click the “no unique product identifier” button for the specific products.

bigcommerce control panel no gtin

4. Break out your campaigns based on profit margin/performance.

Google Shopping allows you to bid on specific products instead of keywords, and the best way to do this is bucket your products into product groups.

Product groups allow you to seperate your products into relevant categories, similar to how you may categorize your products on your website.

This is useful because you can set different bids for each product groups based on their performance or their profit margins.

Google Shopping adwords ad group

Ad Groups with various biddings (via PPC Hero)

Keep the ROI of your products in mind because this will help you determine how to set you bids per product group.

This data can be used to help you adjust your campaign structure and create different ad groups.

Consult your BigCommerce analytics or Google Analytics data to see which products are selling well.

bigcommerce control panel insights

Add these best sellers to a specific ad group and raise the bids to increase exposure of these popular and profitable products.

If a product isn’t performing well in Google Shopping, remove it from its current category and place in a new ad group with a lower bid.

Google Shopping adwords product performance

Start by looking in the “Products” section of AdWords to find top or lowest performing products, which may be placed in separate ad groups for modified bids.

You can also use Google Shopping’s campaign priority to make sure the right campaigns are prioritized in Google’s auction.

Google Shopping adwords campaign priority

Where to set your campaign priority in AdWords (via Search Engine Land)

William Harris, Ecommerce Consultant, Elumynt

Get granular with your bids. Every product has a different profit margin and different profit amount in terms of dollars. You should be bidding on each product according to the amount you can afford for each product.

If you have 35,000 products, that might seem daunting to you. Hiring the right agency to manage this can usually more than make up for the cost by making each product more profitable.

5. Send your feed to Google every day.

Providing your product data feed to Google on a daily basis will ensure that all information is current and accurate.

This can help to increase the likelihood of placement, as Google favors merchants that provide consistent and clean data

It also creates a better experience for searchers, making sure that the information they see in the ad is the same information they see when they click through to your site.

Google Shopping merchant center feed

Set up scheduled fetches so that Google automatically pulls and updates your product information throughout the day. Or, use your Sales & Orders app to automate this.

6. Strategically select your product images.

Ensure that each product has a relevant, targeted image.

Use photos that differentiate your product from others listed in Google Shopping ads to help your ad stand out among the competition.

When selecting images, consider the following to have a properly optimized image:

  • Use high-resolution images.
  • Use images that match your various options.
  • Don’t use images with texts or watermarks.
  • Test product images vs lifestyle images.

Google Shopping image results

Notice how the highlighted ad contains background details, making it stand out among the other bike that are on a simple white background.

Aaron Agius, Managing Director, Louder Online

Obviously, when you’re optimizing your PLAs, you want to do things like keep your feed updated and take SEO best practices into account.

But one really simple thing I’ve seen make a big difference in people’s campaigns is changing up the images they use so that they stand out from competitors.

So many people either use manufacturers’ stock photos or try to replicate them, that a really easy way to drive clicks and sales is just to use a different angle, background or photo style.

7. Make your products eligible for ratings & review count.

Google can show a star rating and review count under your product’s title in the PLAs.

The ratings and reviews are aggregated from multiple sources, such as your site, third-party aggregators, editorial sites and users.

Google Shopping review extensions

Example of PLAs with ratings and review count included.

These ratings can help make your ad stand out and showcase the quality of your product.

For a rating to show on your ad, you must have at least three reviews on any single product and at least 50 reviews across all products.

How to Get Reviews:
  • Ask your customer for reviews on product they’ve purchased through BigCommerce’s build-in comment system or using a third-party service.
  • This will help you grow your overall review count and make your products eligible for this feature.
  • Once you’ve amassed enough reviews to be eligible, you must send a request to Google to have reviews added.

Michael Ugino, Co-founder, Sellbrite

Be sure your store will benefit from Google Seller Ratings. Apply to be a Google Trusted Store, and use a review tool like TrustPilot or Yotpo to drive reviews for your products.

Also, optimize your data feed! If you’re sending Google incorrect information about your products, like the wrong pictures, wrong categories, it can really stall your ROAS.

8. Optimize feed for automated extensions.

Google Shopping utilizes automated extensions that show promotional messaging in PLAs.

Automated extensions use information you submit to Merchant Center and through your data feed to show free shipping or price drops.

Ensuring these messages can be found in your feed will increase likelihood of extensions being added to your ads.

It’s possible to add other types of promotional messages, such as percent off or BOGO. To do this, however, you must follow some strict guidelines and request access from Google.

9. Implement a remarketing strategy.

Adding a remarketing campaign to target visitors who viewed your product from a shopping ad is a great way to improve your ecommerce conversion rates.

You can create custom image ads or dynamic product ads to serve visitors who did not initially convert on your site.

Product image ads are a great choice because they show the latest product a visitor viewed helping you keep your brand and products top of mind.

Google Shopping product remarketing

Example of a product ad remarketing ad.

Recommended Posts

We’re seeing ridiculously high returns on ad spend (the range of 16x-32x!) using Remarketing and Customer Match Audiences for Google Shopping.

If you’re limited by budget (which is generally the case), this really is your lowest hanging fruit by an order of magnitude.

10. Include store integrations.

Finally, use integrations with your store to help manage and keep your Google product feed up-to-date.

Apps like Google Shopping by Sales & Orders makes it easy to keep your Google Shopping campaigns functioning and accurate.

Catalin Zorzini, Founder,

My best advice for selling here is integration. Once you establish a presence on Google Shopping and build your own brand, it’s actually not that different from managing your online store.

Accepting payments and completing orders should come easy, but it’s your ecommerce platform that dictates how easy it is to integrate with your online store and make sure that all the right details are displayed on the Google Shopping pages.

For example, BigCommerce has most of the functionality built in for your own use. This ensures that customers won’t be disappointed when you’re out of stock or if your product details conflict with what actually comes with an item. Not to mention, you can spend more time discovering other marketing tactics through Google Shopping.

Executive Summary

As Google continues to heavily invest in their sponsored ads (both text and Google Shopping Ads), especially in the face of Amazon’s dominance on search and revenue through their own sponsored product listings, it’s imperative brands optimize for Google PLAs right now.


Because ever new investment and update by Google to their ads products helps to increase your visibility, driving more sales to your owned website where you can capture emails, drive retention and build your brand equity.

Here’s a quick checklist on how to optimize your Google PLAs.

If you’re already optimized, then go ahead, sit back and watch the Google v. Amazon showdown.

Google Shopping Optimization Checklist:
  1. Optimize your feed with common SEO tactics.
  2. Include negative keywords.
  3. Include a product’s GTIN.
  4. Break out your campaigns based on profit margin/performance.
  5. Send your feed to Google every day.
  6. Strategically select your product images.
  7. Make your products eligible for ratings & review count.
  8. Optimize feed for automated extensions.
  9. Implement a remarketing strategy.
  10. Include store integrations.

Have you seen particular success with a Product Listing Ad campaign? Let us know in the comments below.

Want more insights like this?

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]]> 5
29 Ecommerce Metrics & KPIs to Measure to Drive 10X Growth in 2018 [Downloadable Key Metrics Included] Wed, 18 Apr 2018 13:00:29 +0000 The most successful ecommerce and retail businesses are metrics obsessed. SpearmintLOVE got 62.48% of their Facebook Fanbase talking about them…]]>

The most successful ecommerce and retail businesses are metrics obsessed.

Virtually every marketing and business decision in these organizations is guided by data.

After all, if you can’t measure something, you have little chance of improving it.

How to Measure Ecommerce Success

To properly measure ecommerce success, you need to have 3 main goals in mind:

  1. Selecting the right ecommerce key performance indicators (KPIs) and then tracking/measuring their corresponding metrics.
  2. Ensuring that you have an analytics system in place to measure all of these metrics as accurately as possible.
  3. Setting proper benchmarks for your ecommerce KPI list to track success.

This guide is structured to cover the most vital ecommerce metrics at each stage of the sales funnel of an ecommerce business and their customers’ lifecycle.

1. Selecting the right ecommerce KPIs.

To get the right ecommerce KPIs, you have to ask the right questions.

The right questions are based on a few factors:

  • What is your industry?
  • What stage is your business in? Start-up, growth, established?
  • What are your overall business goals for this stage?

These questions, and ones that will inevitably branch off from these, will help you discover the metrics that make the most sense for your company and its specific goals.

Tracking and measuring the right KPIs can improve your business and marketing decisions.

Identifying one main metric (OMM), per Lean Analytics, and choosing 3-7 supporting metrics that guide you toward your OMM is a beneficial approach.

This helps you avoid decision paralysis from too much information.

A few example ecommerce KPIs to consider as your OMM are:

  • Customer Lifetime Value (CLV): The estimated amount of total purchases a customer will make with your business over the lifetime they are with your brand.
  • Cost Per Acquisition (CPA): This is the amount you pay for a customer acquisition (lead or sale, this is defined by you) based on your marketing efforts.
  • Return on Ad Spend (ROAS): This your revenue generated from your marketing efforts divided by your marketing costs.
  • Value-per-Visit: This is total website revenue divided by total website visits, and is helpful in measuring the effectiveness your various marketing channels.

Better Decision Making Made Easy

Fast-scaling businesses use metrics dashboards to guide their meetings and decision making – taking gut preference out of the process in favor of data driven results. 

Use this dashboard to see the same results for your brand. 

Get your free template now.

2. Proper analytics tracking.

Google Analytics is the go-to tool for tracking website performance. This is true for ecommerce sites as well.

To set up Google Analytics tracking on your site,  copy your Google Analytics ecommerce tracking code found in Admin > View > Ecommerce Settings.

You may need to Enable Ecommerce, however leave Enhanced Ecommerce Settings to OFF.

Copy the ecommerce tracking code, then go to:

  • Step 1: Advanced Settings > Web Analytics in BigCommerce’s Control Panel
  • Step 2: Select Google Analytics and Save

ecommerce metrics: bigcommerce control panel google analytics

  • Step 3: Go to the Google Analytics Tab
  • Step 4: Paste your copied code in the Tracking Code field.

If you want more tailored ecommerce KPI data, set up your data tracking with Google Tag Manager.

Google Tag Manager allows your non-technical marketing team or agency to easily setup data collection without logging into your BigCommerce store or messing with your website code.

This means your store and code are safe from errors and you can collect specific KPIs important to your business in Google Analytics.

BigCommerce also allows you to connect your store to your Facebook page. This is beneficial for retail sellers because you can track orders in BigCommerce’s control panel.

Understanding how sales are performing in Facebook, you can accurately calculate your Return on Ad Spend (ROAS) and make the necessary marketing adjustments.

3. Setting up proper benchmarks for your ecommerce KPI list.

Benchmarks are vital to your business’ growth.

They provide insight into what is working, what isn’t, and your growth rate for your KPIs.

You can benchmark your key metrics in six easy steps.

How To Set Ecommerce Benchmarks:
  • Step 1: Determine your long term goals.
  • Step 2: Determine how your site is currently performing.
  • Step 3: Identify which areas you’ll focus on for measurement.
  • Step 4: Determine the correct metrics and KPIs to track success.
  • Step 5: Set your benchmarking schedule.
  • Step 6: Work, measure, adjust, repeat.

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Understanding the Customer Stages

customer sales funnel

Customers have different intents as they move through your buying cycle.

Understanding their intent in each phase will help you select the right key metrics to measure and grow your business.

1. Product Discovery.

In the brand discovery stage of the funnel, the focus of all your marketing efforts is really on generating awareness and stimulating the realization of a want of your brand/product(s) in the market you target.

The key question the metrics you track will answer in this stage is:

How many people have come across our brand or the line of products we sell?

In other words, you are tracking brand awareness, impressions, and eyeballs.

One caveat here is the assumption that your marketing is focused on your target audience.

If it isn’t and there is no deliberate targeting in your marketing. This is a vanity metric.

2. Consideration.

Marketing in the consideration stage of the funnel is focused on convincing potential and existing customers to engage with your brand, with the end goal of potentially purchasing your product(s).

The key question at this stage you want your metrics to answer is:

What portion of people that have come across our brand are engaging with our brand?

This is where you should be tracking and analyzing metrics related to inbound traffic to your store, email, and social media engagement.

3. Revenue/Conversions.

At the conversion stage of your funnel, you need to track and analyze actions that typically lead to a sale (micro-conversions) as well as establish standard metrics like revenue, transactions, and conversion rates (CVR).

Online retailers can take this to the next level by diving into rich user data that lets ecommerce businesses track more advanced KPIs at a behavioral level.

For example, transactions are expected to be made by the highest engaging customers and visitors to your site.

Understanding the these metrics and KPIs will help you make better sense of your sales and revenue data — and help you spot trends to convert more visitors into buyers.

4. Retention.

Repeat business is a critical pillar to growing and scaling an online retail business.

According to Bain & Company, a 5% increase in customer retention rate will result in a 25% to 95% increase in profits.

A repeat customer can provide a ton of value to a business. Measuring customer retention should form the starting point to understanding and improving customer loyalty.

5. Advocacy.

The advocacy stage analyzes word of mouth and referral marketing stats.

Having existing customers recommend your ecommerce brand to their family and friends can be a low cost, yet highly effective means of acquiring new customers.

User generated content is a great way to allow your customers to advocate for your brand. This can be done through video and photo content or leaving reviews.

Mountain Crest Gardens has implemented user generated content and reviews into their marketing efforts which helped them compete online and improve their orders by 400%.

On the average Facebook post that features one of our customer photos, we see high organic engagements: 100+ likes, a handful of shares, and 3,000+ reached. It’s effortless organic marketing for us – and the sales keep rolling in.

– Matts Jopson, Vice President, Mountain Crest Gardens

In other words, engage with your customer base seeking honest feedback and showcase how they engage with your products.

This kind of social proof is more valuable to new customers.

Better Decision Making Made Easy

Fast-scaling businesses use metrics dashboards to guide their meetings and decision making – taking gut preference out of the process in favor of data driven results. 

Use this dashboard to see the same results for your brand. 

Get your free template now.

29 Metrics to Help Grow Your Online Business

There are innumerable metrics your brand can measure to evaluate success.

But, you also must weigh your time spent as part of the equation when determining if these are the proper business KPIs to focus on.

You can’t measure inactivity, and staring at a dashboard all day gets nothing done.

Here is an overview of important metrics to consider measuring that can help grow your online business.

  1. Your brand’s online visibility.
  2. Online and offline impressions.
  3. Facebook & Instagram’s ‘reach’ metric.
  4. YouTube and other video hosting platform impressions.
  5. Google AdWords and Bing ad impressions.
  6. Organic impressions via Google Search Console.
  7. Influencers and partner reach.
  8. TV, Podcast and media advertising reach.
  9. Onsite traffic metrics.
  10. Organic traffic metrics.
  11. Email engagement metrics.
  12. Social media engagement metrics.
  13. Number of online transactions.
  14. Average order value (AOV) of customers.
  15. Ecommerce micro-conversions.
  16. Micro to macro conversion ratio.
  17. More specific sales data.
  18. Number of visits to sale.
  19. Sales conversion rates.
  20. Analyze micro conversions.
  21. Shopping cart abandonment rate.
  22. CPA or Cost Per Acquisition.
  23. Average order size.
  24. Percentage of mobile visits.
  25. Ecommerce purchase metrics.
  26. Average customer lifetime value.
  27. Ecommerce churn rate.
  28. Net promoter score.
  29. Track product and seller reviews.

1. Your brand’s online visibility (product discovery KPI).

This is, in my opinion,  the most important marketing metric to track from day 1 and then all through the lifespan of your business.

The reason is simple:

People searching for your brand are more likely to either convert as customers or are returning customers.

This is because they are aware of your brand and intend to engage with you when they are looking for you.

To accurately track this metric, use the following sources to capture brand name search volume:

  • Google AdWords: create a brand name search campaign and track impressions (not clicks) for phrase and exact match terms. The only drawback to this method is that you need to have a budget for Google AdWords. If you do have a budget, it is in my opinion the most accurate means of tracking brand name search (at least via Google).
  • Google Search Console: check the search analytics report in Google Search Console under:
    • Search Traffic > Search Analytics > Queries
    • The check the ‘Impressions’ checkbox.
    • Do this once a month and remember to change the date cohort to a full month.
  • Google Keyword Planner: run a search for your brand name on Google keyword planner on a monthly basis.
    • If brand name search is on an upward trend, then your marketing just might be working. You are definitely reaching more people.

You should also try and map specific publicity campaigns with brand name searches.

As an example, if you engaged with a group of influencers over a specific month, you may want to backtrack on brand name search during the month of the campaign to see if there was any lift.

You can organize this effectively well in Google Analytics via Custom Channel Grouping.

Example of Google’s Default Channel Organization.

default channel groupings

Example Custom Channel Organization in Google Analytics.

custom channel groupings

2. Online and offline impressions (product discovery KPI).

All advertising platforms you utilize will provide metrics on impressions (or cost-per-impression), i.e. the number of times your ads are served to their audience.

Here is a brief list of channels and the key impression metrics.

3. Facebook & Instagram’s ‘reach’ metric (product discovery KPI).

Facebook measures unique impressions with the ‘reach’ metric.

Facebook’s reach metric is the number of people that have seen your ads at least once.

The key point to note here is that the reach metric is different from impressions, which may include multiple views of your ads by the same people.

Other Facebook metrics related to impressions you want to pay attention to are:

  • Cost per 1,000 people reached: The average cost to reach 1,000 people.
  • Impressions: The number of times your ads were viewed.
  • CPM (Cost per 1,000 Impression): The average cost for 1,000 impressions.
  • Frequency: The average number of times each person saw your ad.

Note that the above is for paid Facebook advertising.

In order to track total number of people that have generated impressions in both organic and paid Facebook posts, use the reach metric in the Facebook Insights report.

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4. YouTube and other video hosting platform impressions (product discovery KPI).

The YouTube impression metric you want to pay attention to is ‘Views.’

This will apply to all other video hosting platforms that you actively market on such as Facebook videos or Vimeo.

Also ensure that you understand the time duration a video is watched in order to be classified as a view on across all platforms.

YouTube’s video metrics classifies a video that has been watched for 30 seconds or more as a view, while Facebook classifies a video view as 3 seconds or more.

5. Google AdWords and Bing ad impressions (product discovery KPI).

In AdWords and Bing Ads, you want to pay attention to the ‘Impressions’ metric, which is the number of times your ads are shown on search result pages or the display network on both platforms.

In AdWords, pay attention to the following metrics:

  • Search Impression Share: Your impression share strictly for impressions generated through the Search Network
  • Display Impression Share: Your impression share strictly for impressions generated through the Display Network.

6. Organic impressions via Google Search Console (product discovery KPI).

Pay attention to the ‘Total Impressions’ metric on Google search console on a monthly basis.

It gives you an idea on the number of times your website was served as a result on Google’s organic search result, serving as a good KPI for overall reach.

If your reach far outweighs your traffic, it’s time to think about revising your title structure to encourage more click through.

I also track the ‘Average Position’ metric on a monthly basis.

7. Influencers and partner reach (product discovery KPI).

When reaching out to potential media partners and influencers, you will need to better understand their audience reach and readership numbers (for bloggers).

Ask for details about the number of:

  • Monthly readers (total and organic).
  • As well as the size of their email list.

On your own, research their social media followings and how engaged their audiences are across platforms.

For instance, they may have a large Twitter following, but they don’t get many retweets. It may be better to leverage your partnership through their Instagram platform, instead.

8. TV, Podcast, and media advertising reach (product discovery KPI).

If you advertise on TV, want to sponsor a podcast or media, you will negotiate on the basis of the ‘Reach’ metric, i.e. how many people are likely going to view your commercial.

Remember that relevancy is just as important (if not more important) than reach.

9. Onsite traffic metrics (consideration KPI).

These are the most important on-site traffic key performance indicators you should measure on a monthly basis.

These metrics (plus many others!) can be found in Google Analytics, the easiest way to establish measurement on your website.

There are many other great web analytics tools out there that offer comparable metrics, though these other platforms sometimes call them by different names. For example, Sessions in Google Analytics goes by Visits in other platforms.

  • Sessions: When tracking website sessions, remember that a single user can open multiple sessions on various devices or browsers. Sessions typically end after 30 minutes of inactivity. All interactions by a visitor on your website within a given timeframe such as page views, events, social interactions, and ecommerce transactions will register as a single session.
  • Users: In Google Analytics, the Users metric does not necessarily equate to individual users or people. It is actually a cookie set by each visitor’s browser. So, if a customer of yours logged in from her phone and then her desktop computer, each session will register as two users. The walk-around to this anomaly is setting up Session Unification by integrating logged in user data with Google Analytics.
  • Pages/Session: The ‘pages/session’ metric is the average number of pages viewed per session.
  • Bounce Rate: Bounce rate is the percentage of single page visits (or web sessions).
  • Average Session Duration: Average session duration is total duration of all sessions (in seconds) / number of sessions.  You want to track this metric alongside bounce rate to understand how engaging your store it. You also want to use segments such as new visitors vs returning visitors.
  • New Users: A visitor who did not have Google Analytics cookies when they hit the first page in this visit. If a visitor deletes their cookies and comes back to the site, the visitor will be counted as a new visitor.

10. Organic traffic metrics (consideration KPI). 

If a significant amount of inbound traffic to your ecommerce store comes from Google, then you should be tracking these Google Search Console metrics on a monthly basis.

  • Clicks: Total count of clicks from Google search results pages (SERPs) to your website. Track it alongside the Impressions metric and compare with Google Analytics metrics such as Sessions and Unique Pageviews.
  • Average CTR: Average click-through rate is the click count divided by the impression count. Use it to gauge how well your title tags and meta descriptions tags drive searches on Google to your site.  A significant discrepancy indicates the opportunity to optimize for click-through.
  • Avg. Position: This is average ranking of your website’s URLs for the Google search queries.

I track all of the above metrics on a monthly basis to better understand the direction each store I manage is headed, traffic and engagement-wise.

11. Email engagement metrics (consideration KPI).

These are the top six email engagement KPIs for ecommerce sites that your email marketing team should report to you on a monthly basis.

  • Email list growth rate: This is the rate at which your email list is growing. It is calculated by your total number of new subscribers minus unsubscribers, divided by the total number of email address on your list.
  • Email bounce rate: This is the percentage of undelivered emails from your total emails sent that could not be successfully delivered to the recipient’s inbox.
  • Open rate: This is the percentage of email recipients who open a given email. It is worth noting that while open rate is an important metric, you should also focus on optimizing click-through rates.
  • Email click-through rate: This is the percentage of email recipients who clicked on links in emails. It is calculated by:(Total clicks OR unique clicks ÷ Number of delivered emails) * 100. For example: 1,500 total clicks ÷ 75,000 delivered emails * 100 = 2% click through rate.
  • Email Conversion Rate: This is the portion of email recipients that completed a purchase after clicking through links in your email campaigns. It is calculated by:  (Number of sales from emails ÷ Number of total emails delivered) * 100. For example: 800 sales ÷ 75,000 total email delivered * 100 = 1% conversion rate
  • Unsubscribes: Checking your monthly unsubscribe rate is helpful for calculating your overall list growth rate. You should also track unengaged subscribers alongside Unsubscribes and consider removing them from your list.

12. Social media engagement metrics (consideration KPI).

Social media metrics can provide a lot of value to your ecommerce company. These are the top social media engagement KPIs you should track on a regular basis:

  • Likes per post: “Likes” is a catch-all metric I am using for people that have upvoted your social media posts. These will come in the form of Likes, thumbs ups, favorites or +1’s. To calculate it, you will need to collate likes on each social media platform and divide it by the number of posts on the individual platform.
  • Shares per post: “Shares” is a catch-all metric for “shares,” “retweets” and “repins.” This metric is indicative of the average number of times posts are shared over a given amount of time.
  • Comments per post: “Comments” is a catch-all metric for mentions and comments to your social media posts. This metric is a gauge of how much of a community your brand is garnering on social media.
  • Clicks per post: The clicks per post metric measures link click-throughs from social media posts over a given period of time. To calculate this metric, collate the number of clicks from your social media posts over a specific period (typically over a month) and then divide it by the number of published social media posts over the same time period.

13. Number of online transactions (conversion KPI).

Tracking the actual number of transactions, not just total revenue, is important for calculating AOV (3d, below) and understanding how customers interact with your online store.

14. Average order value (AOV) of customers (conversion KPI).

This is total sales divided by the number of transactions.

If you have a wide category of products it might be worth going deeper on this metric by better understanding the average order value in each category.

Monitoring this on a monthly basis will help you understand and even influence trends.

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15. Ecommerce micro-conversions (conversion KPI).

Micro conversions are predetermined steps that typically occur before a sale. Here are two of the most popular types of micro-conversions:

  1. Email collection: Via on-site subscription boxes or behavioral triggered pop ups
  2. Ordering samples: This is particularly common with voluminous products such as furniture (fabric samples) or flooring (material samples).

In Google Analytics and other web data platforms, you can set conversion goals to measure both micro and macro conversions.

16. Micro to macro conversion ratio (conversion KPI).

Ecommerce teams should track the relationship between micro conversions to macro conversions (sales/revenue).

Using an online furniture retailer that sells sofas as an example, let’s say they are able to, on average, convert 40 out of every 100 shoppers that request a fabric sample for sofas they sell.

They will be able to target their efforts into either increasing overall fabric sample requests or improving the sample-to-order ratio.

The latter could be accomplished by testing and optimizing email communications to visitors who have requested a sample.

17. More specific sales data (conversion KPI).

Since the total amount of revenue generated is very obvious, you need to go deeper on sales data by digging into:

  • Sales totals generated by channel, e.g. search, social media channels, email, direct, referrals, TV
  • Sales totals for each category in your product catalog
  • Sales generated by each promo code

18. Number of visits to sale (conversion KPI).

You will want to set a quarterly or biannual benchmark on how many visits it takes on average for new customers to make their first purchase.

19. Sales conversion rates (conversion KPI).

This is the total number of sales divided by the total number of sessions to your store.

Understanding this number is critical to determining how much traffic is required to generating your target sales.

That said, just like your sales data, you need to more granularly understand conversion rates.

Here are key ways to dissect your conversion rate metric:

  • Set conversion rate by channel: e.g. AdWords, SEO, Facebook, etc
  • Set conversion rate by category of products: Some categories may have higher conversions that others
  • Set conversion rate by campaign: As an example, if you are working with affiliates or influencers

Lindsey Reis, Marketing Manager, The Mountain

“We often reference our analytics to collect data on sales numbers, orders placed, and units sold.

We also frequently export our sales by item report. The large amount of SKUs we have requires us to constantly check our highest-selling products.

Using these insights, we are then able to make informed choices about merchandizing, prioritizing products that aligns with top-performing campaigns and best sellers.”

20. Analyze micro conversions (conversion KPI).

Micro conversions, the steps that typically occur before a sale, are critical in the buying funnel for many businesses.

Calculate conversion rates for micro conversions by dividing the total number of the specific micro conversion (their goal completions in Google Analytics) by sessions and multiplying the value by 100.

This way, you know what kind of micro conversions to expect with a varying volumes of traffic.

It is also a leading indicator of cart abandonment on your site, which is a low hanging fruit for many online retailers.

conversion rate equation

21. Shopping cart abandonment rate (conversion KPI).

When your conversion rate is low, you need to understand how many visitors had an inclination to buy.

To do this, you’ll want to examine your store’s cart abandonment.

bigcommerce abandoned carts report 01

bigcommerce abandoned carts report 02

The above is how it looks out-of-the-box on BigCommerce. Your chosen ESP should also provide abandoned cart email follow up analytics.

This metric indicates the percentage of visitors who added products to their shopping cart but did not complete the checkout process.

The lower your cart abandonment rate, the better.

As a quick example, your shopping cart abandonment is 75% if 75 out of 100 visitors with a cart leave without buying.

Cart abandonment is the closest you come to earning real customers before they leave your site. Adding to the cart typically indicates an intent to purchase.

The fact that they leave without buying means you lost potential customers. It gets especially bad if you paid a lot of money to get these visitors to your store.

Making sure your cart abandonment is low is key to improving your conversion rate.

Use BigCommerce’s Abandoned Cart Calculator to see how much revenue you could be earning back.

22. CPA or Cost Per Acquisition (conversion KPI).

CPA is a critical marketing and business metric, informing your bottom line and helping to measure the effectiveness of your paid media efforts.

Studying CPA by channel helps you understand what channels and campaigns to invest more budget and time into, and determine the poorest performing channels that should be scaled back or discontinued.

Startup ecommerce businesses need a monthly CPA dashboard as a matter of survival, and to wisely spend limited marketing budgets.

You should measure CPA two ways:

  1. Direct sales conversions from a channel i.e. based on a last (click) interaction
  2. Assisted conversions based on a chain of multiple visits that eventually led to sale

I will also total up both to quantify the value of a specific channel.

I look at the CPA numbers and make hard decisions to either stop marketing or optimize campaigns on channels that are deemed unaffordable due to their high CPA.

23. Average order size (conversion KPI).

You know what the value of a visitor is, but what about the value of an average sale?

Divide the revenue by the number of transactions and you’ll understand how much each customer delivers to the bottom line.

Looking to boost your average order size? Consider offering free shipping at a certain dollar amount or volume discounts.

24. Percentage of mobile visits (conversion KPI).

If your website isn’t optimized for mobile or if you’re not tracking traffic from your mobile site, you’re in trouble.

Mobile growth continues to explode (as shown by ecommerce trends).

25. Ecommerce purchase metrics (retention KPI).

Here are the key loyalty metrics that you can use as primary KPIs to evaluate how your business retains customers:

  • Repeat purchases rate: This key metric shows the portion of repeat customers from your overall customer base. It is a primary retention marketing metric and is calculated by dividing the total number of customers that have purchased more than once by total number of customers.
  • Purchase frequency: This is the proportion of customers that have shopped more than once over a specified period of time. While the repeat purchase rate looks at repeat purchases over a lifetime, it is important to base the purchase frequency metric over a period of time, which will be typically 12 months.
  • Order gap analysis: This metric shows the average time lapse between two purchases from a single customer.  It helps inform email marketing automation efforts so that you automatically remind customers to repurchase. Time between purchases will vary across retail verticals.  It is calculated by dividing 365 by your purchase frequency metric. The output would be an average number of days between purchases.

26. Average customer lifetime value (retention KPI).

Customer lifetime value (CLV, CLTV, LTV or LCV) is the expected revenue generated by future sales interactions with a customer.

Customer Lifetime Value is cornerstone metric in retention marketing. It is simply the average total amount spent by each customer over their lifetime.

It is so important because it determines how much you can potentially spend to acquire new customers.

As a rule of the thumb: Average Customer Lifetime Value >  Average Customer Acquisition Cost

There are three key performance indicators required to arrive at the average customer lifetime value metric:

  1. Average order value
  2. Purchase frequency
  3. Time period (this is variable and dependent on your business)

What question most ecommerce marketers ask is:

“How long will customers shop with us?”

On average, you might be looking at three years, but it will be best to assess this on a case by case basis.

27. Ecommerce churn rate (retention KPI).

If your LTV is low, it could be that many of your customers buy once and never return.

This is measured by what is referred to as “churn.”

Churn is the percentage of your customers who do not come back to your site.

The lower the churn, the better. For example, a churn rate of 80% means 80 out of 100 customers do not come back to buy from your store.

As we have seen, to ensure a high profit, it’s important to influence your customers to keep coming back to purchase.

That means you want your churn to be low so that once you acquire a customer, they continue to come back and purchase again and again.

Lower churn means higher LTV and a healthier business overall.

Use RJMetrics’ easy to use calculator to determine your customer lifetime value.

28. Net promoter score (advocacy KPI).

net promoter score

Net Promoter Score (NPS) is a very simple survey that measures how likely a customer is to recommend your brand to a friend.

It is sent out to a representative sample of your customer-base and asks them how likely they will recommend your brand on a 1 – 10 scale (with 10 meaning highly likely to recommend).

  • people who give a 9 or 10 score are called promoters;
  • those who score 7 or 8 are neutral; and
  • everyone else is a detractor.

Your goal is to make your average NPS across all customers as high as possible. It’s an ongoing measure of how well your customer referral program will perform.

29. Track product and seller reviews (advocacy KPI).

One other very important customer satisfaction gauge is seller reviews and in-store product reviews. These should be tracked and segmented monthly.

Alerts should be set for average and below average reviews with immediate follow up by your customer experience team.

Executive Summary

Having all of the above key metrics on a single spreadsheet that is not only updated on a monthly basis but is the subject of regularly run strategic team meetings is an effective means of running a data driven ecommerce business.

You will at a glimpse be able to view your entire marketing performance and know exactly what areas require more attention.

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]]> 10
With 1 in 4 Online Dollars Spent on Mobile, Ecommerce Mobile SEO is More Important [& Intricate] Than Ever Tue, 03 Apr 2018 11:00:37 +0000 By the time you read this, everything we’ve learned about mobile SEO could be wrong. This is because the existing…]]>

By the time you read this, everything we’ve learned about mobile SEO could be wrong.

This is because the existing paradigm is based on a desktop-first world, and Google is about to catapult us into a mobile-first world with a major update on how they crawl, render and rank the web.

Even the “Mobilegeddon” update of 2015, which promoted “mobile friendly” sites in the search results, did not approach the importance of what’s about to happen.

Google has already begun testing a mobile-first index that not only rewards mobile-friendly websites, but ranks the desktop version based on content it finds on the mobile version.

Until now, it has been the other way around.

Google’s Mobile-First Index

In July 2018, Google will begin using a mobile-first index.

Why the change?

When was the last time you checked your phone?

Probably pretty recently.

You may even be reading this blog post on your phone. Afterall, checking your phone is the new normal.

According to Deloitte’s U.S. mobile consumer survey results, Americans check their phone 47x per day.

And those browsers are buying on mobile, too.

Mobile commerce sales totaled $1.357 trillion in 2017, making up 58.9% of digital sales — a large jump in share from 40.2% in 2015.

In 2018, mobile commerce sales are projected to grow to 63.5% of total ecommerce sales. That’s $1.804 trillion in revenue.

As both phone usage and mobile commerce sales grow, so does the importance of mobile SEO.

Your potential customers need to easily find your website. Then, once they find it, they expect a seamless user experience.

Those are givens –– but despite all of us being mobile users (and experts at that), it isn’t always easy to nail a mobile-friendly strategy.

Today, we’ll go through:

  • The history of mobile ecommerce SEO and websites.
  • Exactly how to prepare for Google’s Speed Update in July 2018 (or how to buffer yourself from it)
  • What both Google and consumers consider a mobile-first experience (i.e. seamless and convenient)
  • What you should look for in ecommerce technology to make sure you aren’t doing all the legwork here

Let’s dive in.

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Five Generations of Mobile Website Development

First Generation: Subdirectories and subdomains, with or without forced redirects.

Back when mobile was an afterthought for most businesses, many chose to go the subdomain route, often using tools to auto-generate a mobile version of their site based on the desktop version.

This is definitely a desktop-first strategy.

Second Generation: Responsive design based on a fluid / stackable grid pattern.

Responsive design filled the gap between desktop and mobile experiences for several years, and is still the go-to solution for most businesses.

No matter what size your screen is, the content will restack and resize to provide a decent visual experience for the users.

However, it is still very much a desktop-first approach to mobile websites.

Third Generation: Responsive web design with Adaptive Logic

This setup typically “adapts” content, features or design for mobile users.

Most use responsive web design as the base, and then customize features for mobile users with client-side JavaScript. You should be able to see missing/added content by viewing the source code if this is the case.

While not a mobile-first approach, it’s definitely a step closer to giving mobile visitors the custom experience they need.

The Rise of Mobile-First Sites

Forward-thinking developers and designers are no longer building for desktop and then adapting that version for mobile. Instead, they’re building for mobile and adapting it for desktop.

Most of the time (so far) we see this being done as a responsive layout with adaptive logic.

A good example of this comes from Zyppah, which shows a “hamburger” style navigation menu and a single-column layout to desktop visitors.

Desktop visitors see a bigger version of the mobile site, complete with the same header-bar offer.

Zyppah desktop view

Sephora goes beyond current best practices on mobile to give visitors an easier way to navigate their site than traditional “hamburger” menus.

Not only can mobile users swipe left or right to see more top-level categories, but the hamburger menu itself reveals a sophisticated mega menu that makes navigating to deep categories on mobile just as easy as it is on desktop.


Sephora combines a mobile-friendly menu with the ‘mega menu’ features their desktop users are familiar with.

Even smaller brands are choosing mobile-first over desktop.

When Brandon Chatham, owner of NatoMounts, went to redesign his site – he refused to settle for a desktop-first version.

Instead, he worked with a designer to first create a mobile version of the site, and then work to create a desktop responsive version.

“Desktop design is such an after the fact. It’s so minimal, these desktop visitors now, that we need to stop making desktop so important,” says Chatham.

“If you look at all your store traffic, I could probably guarantee you that mobile is now over that of desktop. If that’s the case, if 51% or 60% or 70% of all visitors across your website are now on mobile, that should cause a shift for the way your focus your attention.

It should just be all around mobile.”


NatoMounts’ mobile homepage.

Fourth Generation: Fully dynamic web design

Here desktop (and sometimes tablet) users are dynamically served different content than mobile users.

This is typically accomplished with server-side logic, meaning desktop-only content won’t show up in source-code view on mobile devices, and vice versa.

The main benefit of a fully dynamic website is complete control over the user experience across devices without changing URLs. This is important for obtaining optimal conversion rates across devices.

The biggest drawback of fully dynamic setups has to be the added maintenance. You could be dealing with two completely different websites, but only one URL per page.

This makes design, content production, implementation and upkeep twice as difficult. It also creates unique challenges to SEO, including the use of a Vary: User-Agent response in the HTTP header and the caching difficulties it may create.

Fifth Generation: Single Page Application (SPA) websites

This is where we’re headed.

In fact, many retailers have already gone this route. The image below shows the growth of JavaScript frameworks and libraries by plotting tags on Stack Overflow.


Angular use has skyrocketed since early 2013.

The growth in use of Angular.js is so extreme it obscures the impressive growth other JavaScript technologies have enjoyed:


Javascript technology growth with Angular.js removed.

It will be interesting to see how React.js performs in 2018, judging by the amount of developers switching and migrating from Angular.js to React.js.

There is a big window for React.js to take over the lead with the latest developments in isomorphic JavaScript rendering, which solves a lot of SEO problems around server-side versus client-side rendering.

Currently React.js uses it, but Angular.js does not.

Do You Even Need an “APP” Now?

Vendor-specific app marketplaces like Apple’s iTunes and Google’s G Suite may become obsolete as Apps can be run without downloading them, unlike those found in common app marketplaces.

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Learn more about Stencil.

Important Factors of a Mobile SEO Strategy in 2018

Mobile SEO refers to search engine optimization tactics and best practices to help a mobile version of a website rank on search engines.

Traditional SEO tactics and best practices are still hugely important, but there are aspects of SEO that are specifically geared towards helping you rank your mobile websites.

Mobile SEO is all about making your site easy to crawl so Google can easily understand it’s content and serve the correct pages to users.

When creating and implementing your SEO strategy, take the following into consideration to help ensure that your website ranks on mobile devices:

1. Ensue your website is configured for mobile users.

Google suggests using one of 3 ways to implement a mobile website:

  1. Responsive design,
  2. Dynamic serving.
  3. Using separate URLs.

Although each of these types of implementations work, Google specifically recommends using responsive design for mobile websites.

The advantage of responsive design is that you are able to serve the same HTML code regardless of the users device.

The look and feel of the website changes based on screen size, but the code will the same.

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2. Understand the mobile-first index.

Google has started rolling out mobile-first indexing.

Mobile-first indexing means that the mobile version of a website will be the baseline for how Google indexes your site determines your rankings.

When a website is switched, webmasters will be notified from Google, and will have an increased crawl rate from the Smartphone Googlebot.

According to Google, responsive websites do not have much to worry much, because the site’s HTML code will remain the same.

However, all sites should keep these mobile-first indexing best practices in mind to have on both the mobile and desktop versions of your site:

  • Equivalent text, images (with alt attributes), and videos for mobile and desktop versions.
  • Structured data.
  • Title tags, meta descriptions and other metadata.
  • Correct canonical tags.
  • Ensure Smartphone Googlebot can access your pages.

3. Mobile page speed optimization.

Page speed has always been important for SEO.

Google announced using site speed as a metric for ranking back in 2010 and officially announced in January 2017 that mobile page speed is a ranking factor for websites.  

This makes perfect sense with the rise of mobile users. Multiple studies show the importance of mobile page speed and how it affect bounce rates and conversions.

As shown in the image below, a Google study shows that the slower your mobile site, the higher the probability that a user will bounce.

Additional Google research found that sub-par experiences on mobile make consumers 62% less likely to purchase from a site in the future.

Luckily, Google provides a checklist to help users that include the following page speed optimizations:

  • Avoid landing page redirects.
  • Enable compression.
  • Improve server response time.
  • Leverage browser caching.
  • Minify resources.
  • Optimize images.
  • Optimize CSS Delivery.
  • Prioritize visible content.
  • Remove render-blocking JavaScript.
Optimization Out of The Box – It’s That Easy

To help with image optimization, brands using BigCommerce have Akamai Image Manager at no additional cost.

Large image sizes can slow down a store’s site speed which can be damaging to your ranking on search engine results and conversion rates.  

Website photos should be optimized to achieve the best balance of sharpness and low file size to ensure quick load times.

BigCommerce’s partnership with Akamai removes this hassle from ecommerce managers to increase speed to market and page load time to win at speed in every way it counts.

4. Google AMP implementation.

AMP stands for Accelerated Mobile Pages.

It is a Google-backed project designed with open standard to have pages load quickly on mobile devices.

Although not a direct ranking factor, AMP improves user experience and page speed for mobile users –– ideally increasing user engagement with your site.

Google has never officially stated on-site engagement as a ranking fact, but there is data showing a correlation and positive relationship between on-site engagement and SEO ranking.

Historically, AMP usage on individual websites has required brand development and implementation. Now, all themes on BigCommerce have adopted AMP as standard business practice.

“Until now, many ecommerce brands have been unable to adopt AMP into their stores due to excessive coding requirements and lack of costly development resources,” said Ben Moore, CEO at Pixel Union, a leading ecommerce design agency and BigCommerce partner since 2015.

“Today, we are thrilled to be partnering with BigCommerce to offer AMP-enabled ecommerce themes across our entire Pixel Union catalog, giving online merchants a game-changing solution for harnessing the growth of mobile commerce and the power of world-class mobile design.”

Online brands in a closed-beta during the summer of 2017 that utilized AMP on category pages saw, on average, a 20% improvement in click-through rate.

Test Drive a Powerful Mobile Commerce Experience

Launch your 15-day free sandbox store to trial run AMP-optimized themes, automatic Akamai image manager, one-page checkout with Apple Pay, Amazon Pay and more. 

This is mobile commerce for the future. 

Your mobile commerce sandbox store.

5. Put focus on mobile usability.

Usability is very important for a mobile website.

According to Google, a one second delay in mobile load time can hurt conversions by up to 20% on retail websites.

Although, bounce rate and CTR are not official Google ranking factors, there is typically a strong correlation between high ranking websites.

The better user experience the more likely it is that your website is going to convert.

Here are a few recommended way to put your customers first and deliver a seamless experience:

  • Make your site mobile site is easy to navigate.
  • The mobile-version of your site it easy to read. Typography needs legible and look good.
  • Ensure there is enough room between clickable elements.
  • Don’t make users pinch and zoom.
  • Make your buttons are large enough.
  • Ensure users can use contact forms.
  • CRO is huge for understanding users. Test to see how users interact with the mobile version of your site.

6. Use structured data markup.

Structured data markup is used by Google to understand the content of a page and to gather more information about the web and the world in general.

Structured data can also enhance SERP appearance to help click through rate.

There are many types of markup included based on the type of website you have including:

For example, BigCommerce customer product pages, will show review stars, rating and number of reviews in the SERP.

The more structured data markup the better!

Just make sure it is implemented properly using Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool to get the markups full value.  

Also, don’t create spammy markup to trick Google. Google can apply a manual action to your site, which can hurt your rankings.

Here is Google’s official structured data markup documentation.

7. Stick to the basics.

Mobile SEO is important, but at the end of the day it comes back to the basics.

SEO best practices, like keyword research, optimizing meta tags, creating high quality content and external link acquisition are still what moves the needle.

Our ecommerce SEO guide goes into more detail about recommended tactics.

8. Prepare for voice search.

Voice search is rapidly growing in popularity.

More and more people are using Alexa, Google Now and Siri to find answers to their questions with spoken word rather than typing in a search query.

From Baby Boomers to New Parents, voice-activated speakers are driving sales and adoption in hoards.

  • 51% of those 55 years old and over said a top reason for using their voice-activated speaker is “it empowers me to instantly get answers and information.”
  • 72% of parents who own voice-activated speakers said they are likely to use them to buy something in the next month.
  • 76% of parents say they typically use their devices while doing other things

And here is what those folks are looking for from their voice-activated speaker, according to Google:

With the growth of m-commerce, this is especially important for ecommerce websites.  

According to research by Backlinko in which the brand analyzed 10,000 Google Home searches:

  • Page Speed seems to play a role in voice SEO (this is great for BigCommerce merchants).
  • Results are typically secure websites: 70.4% of Google Home result pages are secured with HTTPS.
  • Google prefers short, concise answers to voice search queries. The typical voice search result is only 29 words in length. But, the average word count of a voice search result page is 2,312 words. Therefore, Google tends to source voice search answers from long form content.
  • The average Google voice search result is written at a 9th grade reading level.
  • Content with high levels of social engagement tends to perform well in voice search. In fact, the average voice search result has 1,199 Facebook shares and 44 Tweets.
  • Appearing in featured snippets may help you rank for voice searches: 40.7% of all voice search answers came from a Featured Snippet. Example below.

It is early in the voice search game, but it is smart to be thinking about it.

To prepare for voice search think about the end user.

  • What type of questions are they asking?
  • What types of answers would they find helpful?


Once you identify this, create content that can help answer these questions.

Executive Summary

Smartphone usage continues to grow, so it is natural that Google is focusing on giving mobile users the best possible search experience.

According to Deloitte, in 2017, 93% of people check their mobile phone while shopping and 90% use it during leisure time.

That means that more people are on their phone while shopping than while lounging.

That’s huge – and the trend is only moving upward.

This is why it is important to think about mobile users NOW for your SEO strategy.

Keep up with necessary technical requirements, continue to follow best SEO practices, and always strive to improve user experience and page speed.

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Subscription Ecommerce Websites Saw 4,461% Revenue Boom in 5 Years: 20 Brands Reaping the Benefits Fri, 30 Mar 2018 12:41:12 +0000 Don’t even say it out loud: Heralded as the newest, greatest ecommerce strategy beginning around 2010, subscription box services like…]]>

Don’t even say it out loud:

Subscription boxes are not dead.

Heralded as the newest, greatest ecommerce strategy beginning around 2010, subscription box services like BirchBox, Trunk Club and Dollar Shave Club have not only made headlines – they’ve made billions.

In 2011, subscription brands made an estimated $57,000,000. In 2016, that revenue jumped to $2.6 billion – a 4,461% increase.

Even Amazon is in on the game (of course).

In fact, Amazon’s Subscribe and Save subscription service is the most used subscription service in the world, according to a McKinsey study.

Here’s a quick overview of the most popular services men and women subscribe to.

And while the most popular subscription sites above are focused almost exclusively on membership and subscription services, know this:

You don’t have to focus exclusively on subscriptions to make subscription ecommerce a profitable, predictable revenue driver.

In this post, we’ll look at the data available to help you determine:

  • If a subscription service will work for your target customers (i.e. do they care?)
  • The various types of subscription services (and if your business model currently fits)
  • The right subscription ecommerce model for your products and what to expect (i.e. churn!)

We’ll also look at 20 example of subscription ecommerce services across multiple verticals including:

  • Food & Beverage (the fastest growing subscription service vertical)
  • Health & Beauty
  • Fanatic (Niche segments, sports fans, etc.)
  • Miscellaneous (gifts, crickets and other off the wall boxes you can send)
  • B2B subscription ecommerce

Let’s dive in.

What is a Subscription Website?

A subscription website is a site that collects a recurring payment from customers in exchange for recurring product replenishment or on-going service.

Most popular subscription websites:

  1. Arbor Teas.
  2. NBA Thunder Shop.
  3. Atkins.
  4. New Chapter.
  5. Fresh Fronks.
  7. Sincerely Nuts.
  8. NuSocks.
  9. Fine Taste Club.
  10. Beer Cartel.
  11. Hawaii Coffee Company.
  12. Marquis Wine Club.
  13. Babeths Feast.
  14. Invader Coffee.
  15. Give Black Box.
  16. Flucker Farms.
  17. Lexli.
  18. Savor Beauty.
  19. Nutragen.
  20. Enertion Boards.

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Subscription Ecommerce By The Numbers

According to a study by McKinsey in February 2018, subscription ecommerce services are popular among young, wealthier populations.

They are more likely to be ages 25 – 44, have incomes from $50-100K, and live in urban environments in the Northeast.

Gender plays a big role here.

In total:

  • 15% of Online Shoppers Have Subscribed to An E-Commerce Service in the Past Year
  • 60% of subscribers are women…
  • But men subscribe to more boxes (3 versus an average of 2 for women)
  • 18% of male subscribers claim to be subscribed to at least 6 e-commerce services, compared to just 7% of female subscribers.
  • 58% of ecommerce service subscribers have multiple active subscriptions.

If I were a betting writer, I’d say based on the data, if you’re target market is younger than 40 and primarily in the Northeast or other larger cities – a subscription service would serve you well.

But, there’s more to consider here.

Let’s move on.

3 Types of Subscription Ecommerce

In general, there are 3 types of subscription ecommerce services:

  1. Replenishment: 32% of consumer subscribe for replenishment.
  2. Curation: 55% of consumers subscribe for curation.
  3. Access: 13% of consumers subscribe for access.

Here’s the value proposition for each.

TypeKey consumer valueDescriptionAcquisition and retention requirementsExamples
ReplenishmentSave time and money (convenience)Replenish the same or similar items, likely commodities. Examples include coffee, alcohol, teas, vitaminsConvenience most important factor for consumers. Low cost for recurring orders. Motivated by bundles and financial offers.New Chapter Nutragen Arbor Teas Fresh Fronks Hawaii Coffee Company
CurationSurprise factor based on variety. Receive a curated collection of a variety of items. Examples include food & beverage clubs, gift box clubs, beauty clubs, tee-shirt clubs. Word of mouth recommendations. Expect personalized subscriptions to become more tailored over time. Surprise and delight factor.NBA Thunder Shop NuSocks Savor Beauty Fine Taste Club Beer Cartel Give Black Boxx
AccessExclusivity.Earn membership access to exclusive items or services. Examples include specific instructor courses or access to specific education or exclusive product releases.Word of mouth recommendations Expect personalized subscriptions to become more tailored over

Curation services are the most popular, providing aspects of both the replenishment and the access models.

However, food & beverage brands are continuing to break into both the curation and the replenishment sectors.

For those in the replenishment sector, fresh weekly delivery of new food items is becoming increasingly popular.

Ready to Launch Your Subscription Business?

Whether you want to launch a brand new subscription business or launch a subscription channel (or option) for your customers, get the PCI compliance you need and the ease of install necessary to increase revenue and save time – for both you and your customers.

Get started now.

Subscription Ecommerce Factors for Acquisition & Retention

For subscription websites to gain new customers and continue to grow their subscription base, it is key that you nail 3 things:

  • Cost.
  • Convenience.
  • Customer experience.

This is because subscription customers subscribe to new boxes for the following reasons:

  • Wanting to try something new (25%) was the top response for curation subscriptions in the McKinsey study.
  • A financial incentive (24%) was cited most often for replenishment subscriptions.
  • A recommendation (24%) was the most-cited reason for access subscriptions.

Let’s look at each of your options here.

1. Subscription website cost.

This is important for all 3 types of subscribers:

  • Replenishment.
  • Curation.
  • Access.

According to the McKinsey report:

Many of the most popular services (including Birchbox, Dollar Shave Club, and Ipsy) charge relative low monthly fees of $10 or less.

Others, such as Blue Apron and Stitch Fix, have higher fee structures and can therefore generate higher revenues on a smaller customer base; for example, Blue Apron’s average order value was $58 and its average revenue per customer was $245 in the third quarter of 2017.

As you consider whether or not to launch a subscription ecommerce channel, think through if you can afford to low costs to $10 or less, or if you’ll need to follow a pricing structure in order to make margins work out.

Remember: the lower the subscription price, the higher the customer volume. The higher the subscription price, the lower the customer volume.

Key points to consider about subscription ecommerce price:
  • Cost of your subscription plays in to your overall average revenue per customer –– and will affect how much you can spend in order to acquire those customers.
  • Your existing margins will help to dictate your possible price points.
  • Think about reduced shipping costs using compact boxes with multiple items in predictable sizes and with predictable and relatively stable volumes.

2. Subscription website convenience.

This is most important for the following types of subscribers:

  • Replenishment.
  • Access.

A reduced hassle of choice and immediate access to needed or desired items drive adoption for these two types of subscription programs.

Key points to consider about subscription ecommerce convenience:
  • Advertise subscription options on your product page as well as on a specific landing page.
  • Explain how the process works, and what customers get. This should include price discounts for loyalty overtime in addition to the product itself.

3. Subscription personalization overtime.

All subscription box consumers stated that personalization overtime was very important for continuing to use a specific subscription website or channel.

However, it is most important for subscribers subscribing for:

  • Curation.
  • Access.

This aspect is a huge factor in continued subscription for consumers.

If consumers perceive they are not getting their desired value, which can counteracted with increased personalization, they will churn (at about 40%).

Key points to consider about subscription ecommerce personalization:
  • Use personalized email segmentation to follow up with consumers after items are delivered to understand their experience and perception of the box. Take that feedback seriously, and update all boxes moving forward to better fit the needs of the segments you are building out. Email segmentation tools like Klaviyo are important here.
  • Begin small, and do what doesn’t scale. Include personalized notes. Ask for feedback. Get specific messages in the box and convey the purpose behind each one. Give folks a clear vision of the value.

20 Examples of Ecommerce Subscription Websites

Let’s take a closer look at ecommerce sites using full subscription models or add-on subscription models to drive increased revenue.

There are 5 top categories subscription ecommerce works for. The final category is a catch-all. If you don’t fit in the top three, there is a possibility for you yet.

Top subscription ecommerce verticals:

  • Food & Beverage (the fastest growing subscription service vertical)
  • Health & Beauty
  • Fanatic (Niche segments, sports fans, etc.)
  • Miscellaneous (gifts, crickets and other off the wall boxes you can send)
  • B2B subscription ecommerce

Food & Beverage Subscription Websites

1. Fine Taste Club

A perfectly curated, surprise and delight box from Fine Taste Club. 

2. Fresh Fronks

Fresh Fronks deliveries weekly or bi-weekly fresh almond mil products to customers’ doors. 

3. Atkins

Atkins sells refillable meal kits to help their customers reach their goals. 

4. Beer Cartel

The Beer Cartel offers a variety of recurring billing and subscription packs, based on your beer drinking needs. 

This is a perfect example of curation subscription. 

5. Sincerely Nuts

Sincerely Nuts offers bulk pricing as well as recurring and subscription ordering. 

6. ArborTeas

ArborTeas offers subscription refills for certain items –– and uses an FAQ page to help answer any questions about the program. 

7. Marquis Wine Club

Monthly wine delivery –– a perfect blend of replenishment, curation and access. 

8. Hawaii Coffee Company

Personalized coffee replinishment delivery.

9. Invader Coffee

Take coffee subscription services to the level level with clearly defined benefits, savings and convenience. 

10. Babeths Feast

A great blend of replinishment, curation and access, this subscription box allows you to customize your order, your delivery and save money and time. 

Health & Beauty Subscription Websites


This is access subscription ecommerce at its finest, including a clearly defined landing page with details on exactly what the program gets you.

2. Lexli

This is a replenishment subscription program for beauty items – hitting on the convenience factor for products you like, but use often and therefore run out of often. 

3. Savor Beauty

This is a choose your own adventure subscription box, where you can opt in for replinishment or curation choices. 

4. New Chapter

New Chapter takes things one step further with a subscribe CTA and a call-out to the savings you’ll have for the subscription over the one-time purchase.

5. NutraGen

A simple replenishment subscription program. 

Fanatic Subscription Websites

1. NBA Thunder Shop

NBA Thunder is filling the closets of all their most loyal fans with a monthly tee club that is the definition of curation and access. 

2. NuSocks

A curation box for high-quality, fancy socks. 

Miscellaneous Subscription Websites

1. Give Black Boxx

Curation and access combine here for ultimate surprise and delight and value. 

2. Flucker Farms

I’ll leave you to your own conclusions on the value (and the high ratings!) for this product – but it is replenishment that keeps customers coming back.

B2B Subscription Ecommerce 

1. Enertion Boards

Make it easy for your partners to sell to your goods.

2. Vypin

B2B recurring orders for customers on-the-go. 

Ready to Launch Your Subscription Business?

Whether you want to launch a brand new subscription business or launch a subscription channel (or option) for your customers, get the PCI compliance you need and the ease of install necessary to increase revenue and save time – for both you and your customers.

Get started now.

Ecommerce Recurring Payments Tools

Functionally, in order to make subscription ecommerce work, you need a recurring payments tool.

There are plenty out on the market – but ensuring yours enable checkout on your domain (not all do) and is PCI compliant is important.

Here are 3 of the most popular tools:

Rebillia’s subscription service is a game changer for those of us who need to keep up with the likes of Amazon. Offering a subscription service to our offering has not only delighted our customers but has helped us manage our business more effectively. You wont be disappointed!

Jeff Stripp, Zogics

We needed a solution to allow our customers to conveniently re-order supplies for their gardens with as little hassle as possible, and MINIBC’s app provided an AUTOMATED solution that did that and more!

Not only are we getting the re-order functionality but we’re also getting vault which is something our customers have been asking us for a long time now. We’re always trying to stay ahead of the game, so when we went looking for a solution we were really excited to have found MINIBC. 

– Arny Pollack, Director of Operations, Hydro Empire.

What Makes a Good Ecommerce Subscription Platform?

Here’s a quick ecommerce subscription platform checklist.

A good ecommerce subscription platform will:

  • Be PCI compliant.
  • Allow you take orders easily.
  • Be optimized for conversion.
  • Not send customers to a new URL for recurring order checkout.
  • Allow for on-site recurring orders (rather than a new site where you’d lose SEO value and engagement).
  • Be customizable, for both you and your end customers to maintain that personalized experience necessary to reduce churn.

Be sure you ask all of the above questions to any solution provider you are considering working with.

Executive Summary

Remember: ecommerce subscription churn is 40% and most folks only subscribe to 2-6 boxes (women less and men more).

Be sure your box fulfills a primary subscription website needs, either offering replenishment, curation or access to consumers.


  • If you sell to folks unders 40 primarily in the Northeast, you are ripe for a subscription service.
  • If you have a loyal base with high customer lifetime loyalty and recurring orders, a subscription service makes sense, and generates convenience for your customers (and more predictable revenue for you).

Want more insights like this?

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