Tag Archive for: ecommerce strategy

How to do an eCommerce SEO Audit

How to Conduct an eCommerce SEO Audit and Checklist

How to do an eCommerce SEO Audit

eCommerce stores should always be optimizing (ABO). An eCommerce SEO audit and strategy will help you optimize your website and increase organic traffic and conversions. 

The purpose of an SEO site audit is to ensure that your website is optimized to your customers’ expectations and search engine best practices. 

Search engines use complex algorithms with multiple ranking factors to deliver the most relevant search results for user queries. These algorithms are constantly being updated so as to only display search results from relevant and updated websites. This is why it’s so important to periodically conduct SEO audits of your website to ensure that it remains relevant regardless of the changes to Google’s algorithm. 

What Is an eCommerce SEO Audit?

An eCommerce SEO Audit is an extensive review of your eCommerce website’s SEO efforts accompanied by recommendations on how to supercharge your eCommerce growth. It helps you figure out which SEO issues your website has, which issues to prioritize, and how to increase your organic reach, traffic, and conversions.

Essentially, an eCommerce SEO audit points out the problems, if any, and how to fix them. It helps you figure out how to optimize your website better and increase organic traffic

Why Is An eCommerce SEO Audit Important?

An eCommerce SEO audit takes stock of your current SEO efforts and incoming organic traffic. Just like any other channel, maintaining and growing your traffic source is crucial to surviving and thriving in business. 

But unlike paid channels, organic traffic is long-term. The effort that you put in today will likely benefit your business years down the road, which makes it that much more important. 

Organic traffic is typically one of the highest converting channels, if you’ve done your keyword research correctly when building your content strategy

How To Audit an eCommerce Website 

We typically use SEMrush, Google Search Console, Google Analytics, and an extensive manual review to conduct eCommerce SEO audits. These tools will help with technical SEO issues and traffic data but there’s nothing like manually reviewing your most important web pages. 

What To Look For In An SEO eCommerce Audit/ SEO Audit Checklist

There are very important things that you must access while you’re running your eCommerce website audit and they are:

  • Technical SEO
  • Website architecture
  • User experience
  • Off-page SEO
  • On-page SEO & CRO
  • Competitive analysis
  • SEO Content

Technical SEO

Site health audit of a Tuff Client

The technical SEO of your website requires analyzing the structure of your website and its relevance, indexing, and ranking of the website by search engine crawlers. It examines and recommends fixes for indexing, duplicate content, 404 errors, broken internal links, your XML sitemap, and more.

For eCommerce specifically, you’ll want to make sure that you have product structured data schema in place for your product pages. 

Crawlability

The discoverability of a website is hinged on the internal and external links and this is how search engine crawlers are able to discover your website’s content. These crawlers, through the links, analyze the structure of your website and deduce its relevance and ranking in SERPs. 

The homepage is your most important page. The crawler crawls all links from your homepage and determines how important they are based on the crawl depth and the number of internal and external links pointing to it. 

Indexing comes before everything when ranking. If it’s not indexed then it can’t rank in SERPs. So, if your webpage isn’t optimized and relevant for a specific search term, search engines won’t send their users to it. 

XML sitemap 

Your XML sitemap should contain all the indexed pages on your website. It’s important to make sure that your sitemap is auto-populating when pages are added or removed from your website.

Having pages in your XML sitemap that no longer exist and vice versa will cause technical SEO issues and will make it tougher for you to rank in SERPs. The XML sitemap is what is submitted to Google Search Console and is the first place that Google’s crawler will crawl so it’s important to make sure that it’s up-to-date and optimized. 

For eCommerce websites, we’ll also want to make sure that we have an XML sitemap index and separate sitemaps for blog posts and product pages. That way if there’s ever an issue with a product page it’s easier to identify and fix.

No Duplicate Content Issues

Duplicate content refers to content that appears on several pages either on the same domain or across many domains. Most eCommerce websites have filter pages that create the risk of having duplicate content. 

Duplicate content arises from filtering products based on some specifications, and copying and pasting product descriptions from manufacturers. An SEO audit helps to detect and prevent the presence of duplicate content by the introduction of canonical tags. These tags specify to search engines which URL they should index and rank.

No Broken Internal Links, 404 Errors, and Redirect Loops

A technical SEO audit will detect if there are any broken links or 404 errors. Broken links typically occur if a page has been (un)intentionally deleted from a website or two pages are accidentally linked together with the same URL. Broken links distort the user experience and also make it difficult for search engine crawlers to crawl your website.

404 errors really hinder the user experience when a user lands on one, no matter how great your 404 page is. If dozens of broken links or 404 pages are discovered it will severely impact your chances of ranking high in SERPs. The technical SEO portion of the SEO audit helps you find these issues and fix them before your users find them.

A redirect loop is another version of a 404 error and it is essentially a redirect that redirects too many times. This happens when you redirect an old page to a new one and then later on you redirect that new page to a newer page. We want to avoid redirect loops because they’re essentially 404 pages that take even longer to get to.

HTTPS

This ensures a safe connection to your website. The SSL certificate used by HTTPS encrypts the data that is transferred from the website to the server. You must ensure that all your website data is hosted on a secure URL using the HTTPS protocol. Enforcing HTTPS on all your pages is a best practice because Google has confirmed that it is a ranking signal.

On-page Analysis 

An on-page analysis is focused on a webpage’s content strategy as well as the HTML elements that allow search engines to recognize the relevance of the webpage during a search query. Every on-page optimization done on the webpage should be based on keyword research. Keyword research determines your title tag, meta description, heading, and interlinking.

eCommerce Customer Service Content

eCommerce customer service content example

eCommerce Customer Service Content is one of the most important on-page SEO optimizations that an eCommerce website can make. This refers to the SEO-optimized content that is below your product listings on your product listing page. 

Take a closer look next time you’re ordering from a larger retailer such as Amazon, Best Buy, and others. You’ll notice that they all this customer service content. 

The purpose of this content is to answer frequently asked questions while also giving your page a better chance of ranking in SERPs. When selecting which questions to answer, you want to make sure you’re using target keywords and semantically related keywords in your answers. 

Crawl Depth and Orphan Pages

The crawl depth refers to the number of clicks it takes, from the homepage, to reach a page on your website. Crawl depth is important because search engine crawlers consider your homepage your most valuable page and then they value each other page based on the crawl depth, among other factors.

An orphan page is a page that doesn’t have any links pointing to it. A crawl depth is taken during an SEO audit and it is used to find orphan pages and important pages with a crawl depth of more than 3.

You can improve your crawl depth by improving your internal linking. Adding links to the header and/or footer is a quick way to lower your crawl depth.

Title Tags and Meta Description 

Title tags appear when the webpage is displayed in SERP, browser tab title and when you share the link on social media. Since it appears in these places, the primary keyword of the page should always be in the title tag. 

Meta descriptions are very important in boosting click-through rates. Although it doesn’t determine the ranking of your webpage, it increases traffic to your website. 

Keyword Research

Keyword research and competitive analysis are always essential when doing SEO. It’s too much to get into for this article so I’ve linked out to some useful blog posts throughout this article that will help with keyword research. 

Product Pages

Through keyword research and keyword mapping, you want to make sure that every single product page is SEO-optimized for a unique target keyword. 

Example of Ecommerce Keyword Mapping

Here’s how to quickly conduct keyword mapping for your individual product pages:

  1. Export a list of all of your URLs along with their SEO title and meta description to a spreadsheet. ScreamingFrog is a great tool for getting this information. If you’re using WordPress with the Pro feature of Yoast then you can also export the target keyword from the Yoast field as well. 
  2. Once you have a list of all of your product URLs, add a column for the target keyword and fill in the target keyword for each product URL. You can deduce the target keyword from the URL, SEO title, and meta description. If you can’t, then the page isn’t correctly optimized for a target keyword. Make note of it and come back to it. 
  3. As you go through all links, make note of pages with no target keyword, irrelevant or incorrect target keywords, and keyword cannibalization issues. 
  4. Once you’ve built your list of pages that need new keywords, conduct keyword research and optimize each individual page for the new target keyword.

Internal Linking

linking all your web pages makes it easier for search engine crawlers to navigate your site and find all the important pages. More so, it makes it easier for users to find your products if they’re linked throughout blog posts and “Related Products” sections. 

Example of suggested products

Off-page Analysis

This refers to all external backlinks and signals that can influence your eCommerce website’s ranking in SERPs. You can conduct a backlink audit using SEMrush to see what percentage of your backlinks are higher quality or low quality. 

You can also view backlinks that you’ve recently lost and reach out to the webmaster to regain that backlink if you choose to. 

Content Gaps and Opportunities 

By running a keyword gap analysis against your competitors, you’re able to not only find keyword and content gaps but also potentially content type gaps. 

By analyzing your competitors’ top pages you’re able to see which types of content are driving the most organic traffic. Maybe they have an infographic that is outranking all of their product pages or maybe it’s a guide or landing page.

By finding and filling the gaps you’re creating comprehensive coverage on your website and giving yourself a much better chance of ranking in SERPs.

Example of Keyword Gap Analysis

User Experience 

Your website should always meet the expectations of the user and search engines. For example, no user or search engine would like to be on a website that is extremely slow to load. For eCommerce websites specifically, this can lead to cart abandonment and that can decrease your conversion rate. 

Conclusion

Although it takes time, with SEO tools at your disposal, and some experience, you can learn how to quickly conduct audits and spot these issues whenever you’re browsing your eCommerce store. You can also choose to hire an eCommerce growth agency to take care of all your eCommerce needs.

 

As already stated, different aspects of SEO optimization act together to make your website trustworthy, not for the search engines alone, but for your potential customers. As an eCommerce business, it is important to have a reliable website.

An Ecommerce Guide to Optimize Product Page SEO

With so many ecommerce companies using paid search ads, you might be thinking—does product page SEO really matter? The answer is yes.

Businesses need a holistic growth marketing strategy that combines SEO and paid search. It is not an either/or situation – and as an ecommerce growth agency, we incorporate both strategies for our partners. 

Paid search can help you grow fast and stay competitive. If your site is new, it can get you to the top of search results faster. However, you pay for every click that comes to your website. On the other hand, organic search provides sustainability and long-term growth. You don’t pay for clicks, and you could get traffic from SEO-optimized product pages and content years after it was first published. 

Here are just a few reasons why organic search is so important to ecommerce businesses.

 

What is product page SEO? 

A product page is a landing page on your website that provides all the product information that a customer needs to make an informed purchase. Great product pages don’t only provide product information–they are intentionally designed to entice visitors to buy. 

Product pages are transactional, meaning that most visitors are in the market to buy. However, that doesn’t mean that they will. If your product pages are not optimized for conversions or SEO, then they aren’t generating nearly as much revenue as they could. 

Product page SEO is the practice of optimizing product page descriptions, structure, content, and other elements to increase your visibility and overall organic search traffic. With SEO-optimized product pages, you can rank higher in search results and get more visitors to your site. 

How to optimize your product pages 

There are a lot of elements to consider when creating product pages–increasing conversions, providing shoppers with product details, creating the best user experience, and more. How does SEO fit in? 

SEO’s impact may not be obvious on the page, but it is a key part of why many ecommerce brands have been successful. To optimize your product page SEO, follow these tips. 

1. Include keywords in your product names and titles. 

What makes a good product page title? It should be descriptive, but also include keywords.

Keywords are the search terms that your potential customers are using when they search for products like yours. To determine if a query is a good keyword for you, conduct keyword research. 

Look for terms that have high monthly search volume and low keyword difficulty. For example, if someone is searching for “fanny pack”, the search volume looks like this: 

Now, the keyword difficulty, or competition to rank is fairly high, but it’s not impossible to rank. To really develop your keyword strategy, you’ll want to add variations and long-tail keywords.

  • A keyword variation might be a description like the available colors “pink fanny pack” or a synonym like “belt bag”.
  • Long-tail keywords are queries that have around 4 words or more. They are usually in the form of questions, but not always. Although they aren’t usually product page keywords, they are great for longer-form how-to or informational SEO content.

Now, once you have a list of keywords that are associated with your products, you can create SEO titles. 

If you search for “fanny pack” (and many other products), you’ll eventually see Amazon in the results. It’s because Amazon is using product page SEO best practices. Its product listings have specific requirements for titles. If you look at Amazon’s product naming guidelines, you may notice that they are designed for SEO. 

For instance, they must include a descriptive keyword, and they have title length limits. Amazon’s title length is 80 characters max, but we recommend under 60. 

Here’s an easy-to-use format for creating SEO-friendly product titles: 

  • Primary Keyword – Description (material, color, or size) – Brand Name

It’s also important to note that you may rank for product category pages with SEO, in addition to individual product pages. Category pages tend to have more general keywords (belt bags and fanny packs), whereas, product pages may be more specific (faux leather belt bag). 

2. Make sure your product URL structure is descriptive.

The URL structure of your product pages is more important than you may think. The URL appears at the top of the browser, and although, it may not be read by shoppers as much as your title, search engines are reading it. 

Good URL structure helps Google crawl and index your site. Bad URL structure can impact your organic search performance. Common URL issues for ecommerce sites are duplicate and non-descriptive text. 

Avoid URLs that look like this: 

https://company.com/skincare/collections/product/index.jsp?productId=1234567

It’s long. It includes a lot of numbers that are not descriptive. Plus, it’s missing keywords. Instead, opt for a URL like this: 

  • https://company.com/product/keyword

Cooking company Caraway does this beautifully. For instance, look at the product page for its fry pan

The keyword “fry pan” is right in the title and URL. Overall, the URL structure is short, descriptive, and SEO friendly. 

3. Use canonical tags to eliminate duplicate content.

Even if you have a consistent, keyword-rich product URL structure, there are common SEO issues that happen with every ecommerce site. This is because ecommerce sites may have many variations of the same product. 

For instance, you could have one product, but different sizes, materials, and colors. Each product variation creates a unique URL, even though the content on the page doesn’t change much. 

In addition, many ecommerce sites use breadcrumb navigation. The URL structure changes based on how you clicked through the site to eventually land on the product page. 

This creates duplicate content issues for ecommerce sites. To solve this, you’ll want to implement canonical tags. 

Canonical tags tell Google and other search engines that a specific URL is the master URL. 

By implementing rel=canonical tags, you let Google know that it’s not duplicate content.

4. Add unique product descriptions.

If you don’t have unique product descriptions, you’ll run into two major problems–duplicate content and likely, lower conversions. Product descriptions are written first for buyers, not bots. 

That said, a good product description for buyers should also be good for SEO. Here are some tips for writing product descriptions for SEO and conversions: 

  • Include the most important information above the fold. 
  • Highlight benefits, but provide a bulleted list of product features.
  • Include keywords in your product description.
  • Put yourself in your buyer’s shoes.
  • Make it skimmable–include icons and bulleted lists.
  • Eliminate empty words–every word should add meaning to the description.
  • Answer common questions–what is the product, what does it do, and why is it worth buying?

For an example of product page descriptions that work, look at Glossier. 

The product description for Glossier’s milky jelly cleanser includes all the important information (pricing, sizes, etc.) above the fold. It includes keywords like “conditioning face wash” and “gel face wash” throughout. It is also easy to read with short descriptions, product images, and bulleted lists. 

5. Add high-quality product images, but watch out for loading speed.

A fast loading speed is critical to ecommerce websites. Unbounce reports that 70% of shoppers say page speed influences their likelihood of buying from an online store. 

Page speed impacts the user experience, and it’s a ranking factor for search engine optimization. Ideally, your pages will load within one to two seconds. 

Many factors impact page loading speed, but the size of images is one of the easiest that you can control. The rule of thumb for images is to keep the size below 70 KB. 

If you are having a difficult time reducing the size without impacting quality, you can try a smaller image size. You can also change image formats. For example, a JPEG image usually has a much smaller file size than a PNG. 

6. Name image files with keywords and add alt text.

Speaking of product images, make sure that when you upload them, they are named descriptively using keywords. For example, instead of adding a product image that is titled “image1.png”, rename it with a descriptive keyword like “blue-fanny-pack.png”

Then, add alt text. This is descriptive text that appears for screen readers, and in case an image doesn’t load on your site. It’s not only important for SEO but for accessibility standards.

7. Embed product videos.

Video content can vastly improve your product page conversions. Combine it with SEO, and you can have more traffic and potential customers. 

Sometimes, the best way to describe how your product works is by showing how it works. Site visitors that watch a product video are 73% more likely to buy. Of course, the quality of the product video is important too. Some quick tips for product videos are: 

  • Keep it short–under 30 seconds.
  • Show how your product solves a problem. 
  • Bring the product to life–go beyond an image and show the product in action.

Another advantage of product videos for SEO is that, if they are set up with schema, they can appear in Google’s rich video snippets. (More on that below.)

8. Add schema markup to appear in rich results.

Google is continuously adding more search results features to help users discover products. Rich results, also called rich snippets, are Google search results that go beyond the basic text and blue link format. They can be image carousels, videos, or interactive elements. Common rich results for ecommerce companies are:

  • Product – (Popular Products)
  • Reviews – (Star ratings and customer reviews)

To appear in rich results, there are specific product page SEO requirements–mainly structured data or schema markup. You can test whether or not your product pages support rich snippets by adding the link to Google’s Rich Results Test.

9. Include social proof, most importantly reviews.

Out of all the elements on a product page, you can bet that people will read reviews no matter what. In fact, 93% of customers read online reviews before making a purchase. 

It is probably obvious by now that reviews influence a customer to buy a product. However, did you know that reviews also impact SEO? 

Reviews act as trust signals for customers and search engines. If you feature reviews from real customers on your site, you could be rewarded with a higher search engine ranking. 

Allbirds has some of the best product page reviews. For example, on the product page for its men’s wool running shoes, visitors can search inside reviews. It signals that Allbirds cares about customers’ experiences, and makes it easier for new customers to research. 

Visitors can sort and filter results to look for past buyers that have similar shoe sizes, widths, and more. 

10. Pair product pages with high-quality SEO content.

Product pages are instrumental to any ecommerce site. However, they are designed for people that already have some idea of what they want. In other words, visitors may be in the consideration or conversion stage of the customer funnel already. But, what if a purchase requires a little more education? What if a customer is familiar with a product, but isn’t sure what size or other features they need? 

High-quality SEO content like how-to blogs can help educate consumers about your products in ways that product pages can’t. 

Take REI for example. The outdoor gear and clothing store is taking a holistic approach to its marketing. You can tell because they appear on the first page of results in paid search, organic results, and rich snippets for highly relevant keywords. It doesn’t cannibalize keywords because each result is different. For example, there are local searches for retail locations and keyword-based results. 

In addition, when you search for “sleeping bags”, REI appears in Google’s Popular Products as well as general search results. 

Now, in addition to optimizing its product pages for SEO, REI is optimizing content. Using sleeping bags as an example, a question that people searching for sleeping bags often have is what temperature rating do you need? 

Temperature ratings are a sleeping bag product feature that new buyers may not be familiar with, so it’s worth educating them through long-form SEO content. In fact, REI does just that. Looking at this blog on How to Choose a Sleeping Bag, you’ll see one of the first sections is “Understanding Sleeping Bag Temperature Ratings”.

 

REI is currently ranking for the keyword “sleeping bag temperature ratings”, as well as other sleeping bag-related queries.

Of course, much more goes into optimizing product pages for ecommerce. It’s a good idea to A/B test changes to a product page to see how it impacts conversions. Fixing technical product page SEO issues can be much more complex too. Features like adding structured schema can take a lot of time and attention to detail. These tips can set you on the right path, but if you want to dive deeper, you may want to seek an ecommerce growth agency with experience in product page SEO to get additional expertise. 

shipping pre order and delivery

Fill That Pipeline! Our Top Tips for Pre-Order eCommerce Advertising

Global supply chains, amirite? One of the most interesting and complicated disruptions in eCommerce advertising in 2021 has been the global supply chain crisis caused by COVID-19. Seemingly unrelated, right? Think again!

Even if the particularities are news to you, you’ve probably felt the repercussions. Many manufacturers who typically produce consumer goods either stopped manufacturing entirely during COVID, or quickly refocused on masks, hand sanitizer, cleaning products, personal protective gear, and more. 

Now, normal manufacturing has (mostly) resumed, and demand for shipping from Asia is at an all time high, causing 6-8 week delays in inventory for many eCommerce websites. And a lot of headaches. Experts anticipate that the backlog could potentially not be resolved until Q1 2022. 

This leaves eCommerce companies without fulfillable inventory for 6-8 weeks (at least), but no way they can simply stop taking orders. Especially while their competitors continue to proceed as usual. 

It’s become a total shift in thinking: instead of the instant satisfaction of next day shipping from Amazon Prime, many people aren’t getting their orders for two months after they’ve ordered it. And, as we see it, this shift is here to stay. (Even Shopify agrees with us). What started as a necessary pivot to compensate for major manufacturing hiccups has become a proof of concept that can benefit eCommerce businesses long after we say, “see ya” to 2021. A quick few reasons:

  • Positive effects on cash flow
  • Flexibility on product launches
  • Risk offset

For our clients to stay competitive as their industry shifts around them, we’ve developed and tested multiple pre-order strategies to create new user flows and define new best practices for eCommerce pre orders. 

Use Your Own Data

The boogie man of digital advertisers—iOS 14.5—has thrown wrenches when it comes to attribution and data collection for many eCommerce companies. If you’ve been heavily reliant on Facebook Ads Manager for attribution reporting, you likely are feeling the burn of the change, and are looking for different ways to target users and discern how effective your campaigns are. 

The good news is that despite iOS 14.5 causing tracking issues within Facebook Ads Manager, Google Analytics and your own proprietary data within your eCommerce CMS should have emerged from the iOS 14.5 battle unscathed. If you are using manual UTMs for your advertising campaigns, you can still audit campaign performance in Google Analytics, Mixpanel, or your other tool. Further, you can segment this down to the campaign and ad level, so there’s no shortage of data you can pull – time on site, CVR, pages per session, etc. that can help you optimize your eCommerce advertising campaigns

If you’re using an eCommerce CMS such as Shopify, you can also use your existing customer data to optimize your eCommerce pre-order campaigns. Some of the many ways you can utilize this data in creative ways to increase your total pre orders:

  • Take the emails of your customers, upload to Facebook as a Lookalike audience, layer on additional targeting parameters, and drive traffic to your site for more pre orders.
  • Take the emails of abandoned cart users, upload to Facebook and retarget with ads to improve your CVR.
  • Take the emails of abandoned cart users and create a special drip campaign to improve their knowledge of your product and offer a discount to convert.

Test Different Campaign Optimizations

Effective eCommerce advertising campaigns take a three-prong approach: Top of Funnel, Middle of Funnel, and Bottom of Funnel. The movement from awareness, to consideration, to conversion is essential for creating an engaged audience who would pre order from your eCommerce brand. 

One of the best tests for pre-order campaign optimizations is trialing different campaign objectives and bidding types. Take, for example, Facebook. To exit the learning phase, Facebook requires approximately 50 optimization events before the campaign starts delivering at an optimized level. If your conversion metric is a purchase event, that’s 50 purchases before your campaigns start delivering normally. 

For top of funnel campaigns, consider optimizing for a higher funnel conversion metric like landing page views or video views. The primary focus is to drive awareness and consideration prior to purchase, so consider a cheaper optimization event so you can focus on converting users deeper in the funnel. 

For middle of funnel and bottom funnel campaigns, consider optimizing for add-to-cart events, or checkout initiated events prior to optimizing for the purchase event. 

The same applies for PPC campaigns, even though they aren’t as affected by iOS 14.5 as Facebook. If you’re utilizing Google Search or Shopping for driving pre orders, consider testing different conversion metrics and bidding types (max clicks vs. max conversions, manual cpc vs. target ROAS, etc.) to see what works best for collecting pre orders. 

Using Facebook’s lead generation objective is way overrated. 

Many agencies are promoting the collection of first-party data as a response to iOS 14.5 – namely, increasing the number of tangible items they can target users with. As a result, there has been an increased focus on collecting emails, and then using them to nurture users through a lead funnel. The thought process is pretty simple: if you can collect an email for a reasonable rate, say, $2.50 an email, you can use your email service provider like Klaviyo or Mailchimp to nurture the lead into a normal conversion rate. The problem is that it’s not quite that simple. 

Normal eCommerce email conversion rates for top of funnel campaigns are decreasing. According to Klaviyo, the conversion rate for eCommerce email can vary from 0.96% to 2.13%. If we take the average of that, 1.54%, and then look at our cost per lead, the expected cost per acquisition would be approximately $162. 

($2.50 x 100) / 1.54 = $162

For a lot of eCommerce companies, this customer acquisition cost (CAC) would far surpass the lifetime value (LTV) of their customers. In addition, this is an average across all industries and email capture techniques. Typically, leads generated from Facebook have a lower quality than leads captured on a landing page. 

In a recent project with a Tuff client, the client provided an email list of 3,200 users generated by another lead generation agency to fuel a pre-order crowdfunding campaign. The email list had the relevant, important data you would expect – first name, last name, and email address. The average email lead cost was $1, and the product they were selling retailed for approximately $95. The entire list was subjected to a drip campaign, and generated 22 purchases for $2,200 in total revenue, and a CAC of $145 ($50 more than the AOV / expected LTV for a single purchase product). In this instance, the email list generated a conversion rate of 0.67%, while all other traffic generated a conversion rate of 1.42% overall. All this to say – email can be an incredibly effective compliment to your eCommerce pre-order campaign, but should not be your primary focus. 

Over-Communicate With and Educate Your Customers:

Purchasing a product online can be stressful, even though most consumers are used to buying products online at this point (Statista estimates that 230 million Americans will buy something online in 2021). The added lag time of delivery for a pre-order product can cause consumers anxiety and second guessing. You can tackle this head on in three simple ways:

  • Be transparent about pre-order delivery estimates
  • Keep users updated with relevant order information 
  • Spending time educating customers on the benefits of your product (especially in top of funnel marketing campaigns) 

The objective of these three strategies is two-fold: 

  • Educating—using your ads and landing pages—on product benefits helps prospective customers buy into your brand and know their purchase is worth the wait. You’re fighting a consumer base that is trained to expect their Prime delivery within 48 hours, so they really need to believe in you to fulfill their expectations.
  • Perform an audit on your ad creative: are you using your copy to provide testimonials, product benefits, and use cases? Is your creative showing the product in use? Don’t lead with a cold sell in your top of funnel campaigns. Educate your users before your sole objective is to get them to buy. 
  • Being transparent that your product is backordered or pre-order only, and spending time keeping users updated on estimated delivery dates (delays, etc.) can help reduce the amount of order cancellations, churn, and negative consumer sentiment. It’s all about managing expectations. If you pre order a product with a two-month wait time, and a month into the wait you receive an email saying it’ll be an additional two weeks for delivery, it’s much better than sitting there waiting with no context or information. Save your customer support some time and be proactive in your communication. Communication is a core component of creating positive customer experiences, and should be a focus point for your pre-order campaigns.

Don’t Focus Solely on Last Click Attribution

Because eCommerce advertisers are more reliant on using Google Analytics to optimize campaigns, it’s easy to make assumptions regarding which campaigns are driving sales. More often than not, these assumptions are part of a larger picture. Since pre orders require multiple touch points and larger consideration time than a normal purchase behavior, spend time familiarizing yourself with the multiple routes users take to make a purchase decision. 

For this Tuff client, 67% of all their pre orders are made with two or more interactions with the website. Some of the top conversion paths include Google PPC to direct or organic sessions that convert, Paid Social to direct conversions, and more. Understanding how your customers reach a purchasing decision, and monitoring the amount of interactions it takes to convert, can help eCommerce advertisers know how to optimize their spend and campaigns. 

Google analytics attribution information

Taking pre orders can be an essential part of an effective eCommerce strategy. If you’re hoping to grow your eCommerce business and are looking for a partner to supercharge your growth, schedule a free Growth Marketing Strategy session with Tuff today!

Facebook shops.

Facebook Just Shook Up Your ECommerce Strategy With Facebook Shops

How to setup Facebooks Shops and Instagram shopping.

Instagram Shopping and Facebook Shops are here, and they allow businesses to sell physical products directly through the Facebook and Instagram apps. The game-changing aspect is that there is check-out functionality so users can buy after a click on tagged product without ever leaving the apps.

In this article, I’m going to share details on how it works, how to set it up, and pros and cons of this new service. 

Here’s what’s included:  

  • What is Instagram Shopping and Facebook Shops? 
  • Purchase Flow From Post to Check-out
  • How to Set-up Instagram Shopping  
  • How to run a Facebook Ad that Includes a tagged product or catalog. 
  • Strategic Implications for ECommerce Brands 

What is Facebook Shops and Instagram Shopping? 

On May 19th Facebook announced a new service, Facebook Shops to “…make it easy for businesses to set up a single online store for customers to access on both Facebook and Instagram.” Importantly, they also said, “We’re starting to roll out Facebook Shops today [May 19th, 2020], and it will be more widely available in the coming months.” So if you’re reading this in early summer 2020, there’s a chance this feature hasn’t been enabled for your Facebook Business Manager account yet. 

For people who have been in eCommerce and managed a catalog on Facebook this announcement was a long time coming since Facebook rolled out a Buy on Instagram beta this time last year to brands like Adidas, Uniqlo, Pottery Barn and other major retailers.

Key Features of Facebook Shops 

  • Tag products and collections in posts, stories, and live feeds  
  • ‘View Shop’ button on Instagram Profile 
  • Shop tab on Facebook Profile 
  • Facebook and Instagram Check-out (Requires a Facebook Commerce Manager account) 

From Post to Check-out; Instagram Shop Purchase Flow: 

Posts with products tagged from Facebook Shops will show a small briefcase. 

Example of a post with products tagged from Facebook Shops.

A white dot and view product overlay appears on the post when opened. 

Example post with products tagged from Facebook Shops

When the image is clicked the product name and price appear. Click again and product details open. 

Example post with products tagged from Facebook Shops.

Similar to an eCommerce checkout flow, a click on “Add to Bag”, transitions the user to the shopping cart with the option to proceed to checkout. 

Example of Facebook Shops user flow.
Checkout functions as you would expect on an eCommerce website or Amazon, but here’s where it gets weird: you’ve never left Instagram.

This checkout on Facebook and Instagram approach comes with two downsides.

  • A 5% fee paid to Facebook (Be sure to confirm this amount in the Facebook Commerce Manager in case the fee has changed since this article was published). The 5% transaction fee is considerably lower than Amazon’s 14-17% fee for apparel, though it’s likely Facebook is keeping this fee low to entice sellers to join.
  • Instagram Checkout makes it so users don’t visit your website, which may cause you to lose valuable analytics audience data, and the ability to retarget to users who start, but don’t complete checkout.  

The implications for Facebook and Instagram checkout are profound. Facebook is essentially becoming its own eCommerce platform. It’s likely they have ambitions for Amazon and Shopify’s new Shop app. Layer this eCommerce ambition with Facebook’s own Libra currency, and we could see a day when people around the world are pushed to use Libra rather than their own currency to transact in this environment, but this level of functionality is likely years in the future.

For those who don’t want check-out to take place in Facebook or Instagram either because of web traffic concerns or the Facebook transaction fees, there was an option to list products in Facebook Shops, but with a redirect back to a website as seen below. 

From Dan at Facebook Support, We have updated our checkout experience in order to create a more seamless and safe end-to-end shopping experience on Facebook.

This new feature will no longer allow users to be redirected to a third-party website. The checkout method available has been established within the Facebook site, and it can be managed through your Commerce Manager.

Moreover, you can still create posts promoting your products and your website and redirect users to your website using a URL link…

… the product that has been tagged in your Instagram Shopping will have an ability to redirect to your website, as long as your account has been approved for the Instagram Shopping feature.

Also, you can still tag the products and let the user redirect to your website.

The implication of this statement is that Instagram Posts like the one below will continue to have a ‘View on Website’ option as long as they want it, thus bypassing check-out in Instagram (or Facebook). 

Instagram shopping example.

The Three Steps to Set-up Your Instagram Storefront

Official Facebook Business Instagram Storefront Guide

1. Determine Eligibility (Must answer yes to all five questions)

    • Are you in an eligible market?  
    • Do you sell physical goods? (Facebook has hinted service offering will be available at a later date)
    • Can you comply with commerce policies? You’ll want to review Facebook’s 25 prohibited product categories. 
    • Is your Instagram Account setup as a Business Account? 
      • How to check: go to your Instagram settings, if there’s a settings option that says: “Switch to a Professional Account” then your profile is still a personal account.
    • Is there a Facebook Page connected to your Instagram Account? 

2. Get a Catalog Connected 

  • Option 1: Use the catalogs feature in your Facebook Business Manager account, which includes connecting to an existing catalog.
  • Option 2: Us a partner integration. Instagram Storefront catalog partners include: 

eCommerce integrations with Facebook.

3. Signup in the Instagram App.

  • Go to your business settings and tap ‘Business’ then tap ‘Instagram Shopping. Follow the prompts to set-up your Instagram Shop. 

That’s it! After step three there is an eligibility review period which will likely take 2-7 days depending on Facebook’s review bandwidth. Once approved you may begin product tagging within posts and stories (image only at this time, but additional placements including live feeds are in the works) on Instagram and Facebook. You’ll also have a ‘Instagram Store’ button on your profile.

How to run Instagram Ads with tagged products

Currently, there is no way to tag products when creating an ad in the Facebook Ads manager. What you can do however is use an organic post for your ad. 

When creating an ad in your Facebook Ad Account, use the “Use Existing Post” option. Select an Instagram or Facebook post with a tagged product or collection. 

Steps on how to run Instagram Ads with tagged products

If your account has had shopping enabled, the post will have a ‘Checkout’ toggle. 

Steps on how to run Instagram Ads with tagged products

Turning it on, will allow you to include the tagged product and a check-out in app. 

Strategic Implications and Considerations for ECommerce Stores Determining if They Should Use Instagram Shopping 

The huge pro for eCommerce retailers moving forward with Instagram Shopping is the ability to reduce friction for shoppers. Clicking a post with a tagged product to ordering it can be done in under a minute. Facebook and Instagram store user billing and shipping info (You’ll now see this info in your own personal Instagram App settings), so there’s no need to add it on a seller’s website. In fact, there’s no need to visit a website at all, which in its current flow, will typically require users add the products to a cart, go to the cart, and check out. 

Another benefit is your listings can be on the Facebook Marketplace. Prior, the Marketplace was more like Facebook’s version of Craigslist for people to sell second hand items locally. The Facebook Marketplace is evolving to include product listings, and promoting products there both organically and in a promoted capacity could increase sales. 

For people interested in attribution, Instagram Shopping is huge. With actual transactions relayed through the Facebook Commerce Manager, there should be no question as to if a sale should be attributed to Facebook. This is huge for advertisers who grapple with website analytics not matching what’s reported by Facebook. 

There are downsides to Instagram Shopping. Facebook will be collecting a 5% transaction fee. This fee will likely rise overtime. There are lost analytics as users no longer interact with your website. This means there’s not an opportunity to build retargeting segments based on how far a user progressed with checkout. Should a company become too dependent on Instagram Shopping as a sales platform, they could face issues with changes to functionality and policies to the platform as is often seen with Amazon. Here’s one example of this (on Amazon) from a seller policy change last year.

As a brand new feature it’s also likely there will be bugs and hiccups along the way. Right now for example, it’s not clear how data from behavior in Instagram Shopping and Facebook Shops will be shared with the Facebook Ads manager data that’s often critical for Facebook Ads optimization. 

There are 120 million Instagram users in the US alone, and one billion users worldwide*. Facebook, Whatsapp, and Oculus have billions more, so leaning into this and allowing users to transact easily will make sense for many brands despite the downsides. 

I’d love to check out your account and see what’s possible for your eCommerce company. If you want to schedule a 30-minute strategy session to learn more, please do!