April 10, 2018 by Rob Andrews
ecomm SEO: From Tire-Kickers to Loyalists (3rd in a Series)
In our first two articles in this series on ecomm SEO, we considered some introductory matters, and talked about the importance of your website authority and trustworthiness as an overall ranking signal. Today, we continue and deepen our thinking about your customer base.
ecomm SEO and Your (Future) Buyers: How Well Do You Know Them?
With ecomm SEO, it is critical to understand your customer base. A lot of our own experience in this area leads us to conclude – unfortunately – that this is an issue. While most ecomm website owners claim to know their customers in-depth, few of them really do.
And this lack of customer knowledge causes them to make strategic decisions about their business/site, that turn out to be incorrect, due to incomplete/incorrect customer awareness.
Think You Know Your Customer Base? Take This Short Quiz
Try taking this short quiz — see if you can supply the answers to the following questions:
- Where do your customers live? Where are they located?
- What are your customer’s interests?
- Who predominates – men or women? Do you know their their average age?
- What products/services to they use – other than the ones you supply?
- Do you know their favorite brands?
- Where do you find them on social media? How often? What are they doing there?
- Can you list their favorite blog sites? If they follow the news, where do they prefer to get it? Online (what sites?) TV (what programs?) Radio (which stations?) Newspapers/magazines (which ones?)
This is just a basic list — it could be greatly expanded — but you would be amazed at the number of people who jump into the launch of an ecomm site who could tell you very little about the customers they want to reach!
Gaps In Your Customer Knowledge? How To Find Out More
Don’t be too upset if your customer knowledge is limited, many are suffering from the same affliction.
But how do you replace questions with answers? How do you get clarity?
There is no easy workaround – you’ve got to get out there to RESEARCH and DOCUMENT.
One excellent method that can yield you tons of insights, although it will take significant time, is to personally interview customers (or prospective customers). Some will opt to sign up with a survey delivery service, which will serve up the survey questions that you have prepared and then compile results as you go. Our recommendation is that you reach out to them via phone or emails.
Why? Because general surveys typically only give you generalized results/knowledge!
You want to acquire a knowledge of your customers that is in-depth. There is no such thing as knowing too much about your customers! This is a cornerstone of ecomm SEO.
You want to focus on customers who are just beginning their “journey” — These are the folks who have recently become aware that they have a need, problem or issue, and are starting to try to find a solution that will meet their needs. This is the customer you want to locate.
For this type of customer, you want to determine: what exactly are they doing? What are they looking for? What types of Internet searches are they doing? And (most crucially) are they finding (or have they found) what they are looking for?
The Secret Sauce of ecomm SEO: Learn From Your Non-Converting Site Visitors
Of course, not everyone who visits your ecomm site will buy something. These are known as site visitors who did not “convert” into a sale. But even the non-converting site visitor can help you greatly, if you can reach out and make contact with them.
One area to exploit is persons who have set up an account to buy on your site, yet who have abandoned their shopping cart. You want to find out why:
- Did some doubt come into their mind at the last minute?
- Did they decide to go and research your competitor site before they spent any money?
- Were they concerned about something they saw (bad reviews on a product) or didn’t see (logo indicating that the site was safe and secure when handling customer CC info) that became a hindrance?
If you have any of their contact information, it is pretty easy to reach out and contact them for a personal interview, or at least a standardized survey. You want to understand the “why” behind customers who fail to convert.
You also want to pay special attention to customers who visit your site a number of times but then eventually make a purchase. If there are significant numbers of these people, you’ll want to investigate further:
- Are they (at some point) jumping off the site and checking out your competitors, other sites? If so, who are they? Which sites?
- Perhaps you are in a niche where it simply takes several visits before someone is ready to spend money. In this case, you want to make sure that the site will support multi-visit customers, by allowing them to find the same product pages they looked at on a previous visit.
For multi-visit customers, your site navigation needs to be very clean and easy-to-use, allowing someone who has visited 1-2 times, to feel very comfortable, as if they were an “expert” coming back to spend time with an old friend.
Getting The Customer to “Sold” – What Are Your Options?
As you do your planning/strategizing, you need to consider what your options are.
Where Do You Need To Be? Obviously, to connect with customers, you need to have ways to be found by them.
- Of course, as we’re focusing here on ecomm SEO, you’ll want to show up in the SERPS, so you will need to do proper keyword research.
- In addition, you’ll need to be seen on social channels, so you need to find out which are being used by your customers, and develop a presence there.
- You’ll also need to be seen on ancillary websites, so determine what are the influential sites in your niche, as well as places where influencers are active, and try to do some ad placements there, or try to secure reviews/endorsements or content placements on those sites.
What Kinds Of Content Will Your Customers Find Valuable? Remember the mention of the customer (above) who is just starting their journey? They have a problem but don’t yet know how to solve it. At that stage they are mostly looking for helpful content, they are not (yet) focused on buying something. So what types of content could you put out there? Equipment specifications? User manuals? Infographics? A video or podcast? A troubleshooting guide?
What Will Be The USP? The unique selling proposition – what exactly are you offering that is different or unique?
- Perhaps it is a product that you manufacture in-house, and so can offer it at a lower price point, yet maintaining high-quality standards.
- Or it may be the availability of staff to help with installation issues.
- Perhaps you have a much more streamlined, easier-to-order process, compared with competitor sites.
- Can you offer more options for sizing, materials used, or colors?
- Perhaps you can offer worldwide free shipping — or 100%, no-questions-asked, refund/return policy.
- For high-ticket sales, can you offer special financing, special rates or special terms to qualified buyers, that your competitors are not offering?
The very best way to take your tire-kickers and turn them into loyalists (and even evangelists!) for your ecomm business/site is to understand what journey they are on, and where they need to go to get to the goal — and then support them at every point along this journey.