The Essential Guide to eCommerce Revenue Growth
So you’ve got the basics of your marketing set up and running well. You’ve built an inbound machine that drives traffic galore. Your brand name is out there and you have a following on your social profiles. People open and read your emails, and some of them convert.
At this point, it’s very easy to just let things tick along. But we all know your competitors won’t be doing the same. And if you’re really looking to grow, now is the time to revisit your marketing strategy and start building on the foundations you’ve created.
That may sound like a daunting prospect. But don’t worry, you’re in the right place. In this guide we’ll take you through a strategic checklist teamed with practical advice on how to grow your eCommerce business.
From focusing on the right metrics to marketing beyond the point of purchase, there are plenty of easy-wins to get started on.
This guide will also explore how technology can help grow your business by improving the customer journey. We’ll look at the stats behind the success of other eCommerce brands who have increased conversion rates and average order values from introducing the right type of marketing technology.
- Measuring the eCommerce metrics that matter
- Creating behaviour-based buyer personas
- Marketing across the entire customer lifecycle
- Improving conversion rates
- Increasing average order values
- Reducing cart abandonment
- Personalising your customer experience
- Enhancing post-purchase journeys
- Increasing customer lifetime value
- Prioritising customer retention
1. Measuring the eCommerce metrics that matter
To achieve growth, first you have to define what success looks like. From here you’ll be able to create specific goals and ensure you’re measuring the right metrics to get you there.
Set strategic goals that will help you deliver growth by pinpointing which metrics matter most to your business. These should align with your overall business aims.
For most eCommerce business, the following five metrics are key:
- Traffic: the number of visitors to your website.
- Conversion rate: the percentage of visitors who go on to make a purchase.
- Average order value: the total sales figure divided by number of orders.
- Customer acquisition cost: how much it costs to attract new customers.
- Customer lifetime value: the total value a customer represents to your business.
Set S.M.A.R.T. goals around these metrics. The marketing tactics that make up your strategy should help you achieve one of your S.M.A.R.T. goals.
About S.M.A.R.T. goals
S.M.A.R.T. is a best practice format to set goals that are reachable.
Your S.M.A.R.T. goal should be:
Specific: Be clear and specific so you can easily focus your efforts on what you want to achieve.
Measurable: To track progress and know when you’ve met your goal you need to be able to measure it.
Achievable: It needs to be something that is realistically attainable.
Relevant: The goal should matter to you and align with other goals.
Time-bound: Set a deadline to work towards to help you prioritise your efforts.
If you are considering a campaign or activity that won’t affect a relevant metric, ask yourself: is this really worth doing? Everything you spend your time on should take you a step closer to achieving your goals.
Make sure you are set up to measure and report on these metrics easily. Create goals within Google Analytics and cast your eye over daily, weekly and monthly reports to keep track of your success.
If you have a lot of data then it’s wise to invest in technology that will pull all of your data and reports into one place. This is known as a single customer view platform and it allows you to easily track, monitor and visualise your results. It creates a snapshot of how you’re performing against your goals without having to spend hours manually collating and summarising marketing and customer data. Meaning you can spend more time using your own marketing intel to inform your strategy.
To put what you have learned into action:
📝 Define the most relevant metrics for your business
📊 Create a measurement plan that defines S.M.A.R.T. goals for each metric
📐 Make sure you are set up to measure and report effectively
📈 Measure and report on progress against S.M.A.R.T. goals
💡 Tweak your strategy based on any learnings
2. Creating behaviour-based buyer personas
Aim your marketing at everyone and you risk engaging no one. Tailoring your messaging to resonate with specific personas increases engagement and drives more people to convert.
Many businesses make use of basic demographic information to build personas. But details like name or age don’t reveal much about what might compel a person to click.
Creating buyer personas based on behaviour is a more intelligent way to segment your audience. Personalising messaging based on how someone shops is more persuasive than just targeting them based on who they are.
Behaviour-based personas will help you tailor messaging to drive conversions at each stage of the customer journey. Here are some examples:
These are the people who start driving your website numbers up but you don’t actually know much about them – other than the fact they like having a look around. To drive value from their activity you need to find methods of capturing their information, allowing you to develop the relationship further.
Subscription pop-overs are an easy and simple method to tempt more of your website visitors to share their details. When used well, popovers have been known to help marketers increase email subscriptions by up to 300 percent.
In order to be effective, your popover should be on brand, explain the benefits of signing up to your emails, and have a snappy call to action.
New subscriber 🌱
You’ve tempted your visitor to sign up to your emails – well done! However there’s a difference between interest in your emails and intent to buy. This is the stage where you need to start nurturing your potential buyers. And the best way to do this is with a welcome campaign.
Create a welcome series that introduces your brand in bite-sized chunks. Introduce them to products you offer whilst telling them what’s unique about your brand. Invite them to engage with you via other channels too such as social media or live chat.
Hesitant buyer 🤔
Online shoppers have the power and inclination to just abandon their shopping cart at any given time. And it’s not uncommon in the world of eCommerce, hence why this persona exists.
There are all sorts of reasons why this might happen and we explore this more in chapter 6. Offering this persona a timed discount is one tactic that could entice them over the line.
Repeat purchaser 🛍️
If you sell consumables such as protein powders, make-up or printer toner, this is the type of persona you need to know about. They’ve purchased from you before so if you make it simple and convenient for them, you can entice them to purchase again. Do this by sending them a well-timed replenishment email reminding them that their product is about to run out. You should know the average time it takes your customer to finish their product.
The holy grail of marketing personas is the VIP. These are the wonderful people who purchase from you time and time again. So it’s important to treat them right to maintain their custom and advocacy. Make them feel special with exclusive early access to sales and perks for referring their friends. Be cautious about giving them too many personal discounts as you could end up cannibalising the revenue you get from them.
Impulse buyer 😍
These are impulsive people who make snap decisions in response to marketing and often experience FoMO (fear of missing out). Cross-sell and upsell to them at the checkout to make the most of their impulse to spend. Keep them well informed about the beginning of sales using countdown clocks within your email marketing.
Discount chaser 🏃
Whilst this persona also likes to know about sales, their behaviour is driven more on the basis of bagging a good bargain. Because of this they are unlikely to be loyal customers and sale time is pretty much the only time they’ll purchase anything. However, you can cater for their price sensitive nature outside of sale periods by offering discounts on product bundles or free shipping.
Lapsed customer 😴
These are the people who purchased something a very long time ago and have stopped interacting with your emails – they need some TLC. Tempt them back to buy by showing them what they’re missing and by offering them a discount. Don’t forget to remind them of the benefits they’ll gain from coming back, i.e. why your brand rocks!
To put what you have learned into action:
💭 Consider which behaviour-based personas are most relevant to your business
🔢 Use behavioural data to build segments around each of these
🎨 Devise and test tailored campaigns to drive each to conversion
💡 Refine these campaigns based on your learnings
3. Marketing across the entire customer lifecycle
A customer’s lifecycle is the whole journey they take with your business. Often marketers focus attention on acquiring and converting customers but may neglect later parts of the customer lifecycle.
An effective eCommerce growth strategy considers how marketing can enhance every stage of this journey. Here are some tactics you can use to strengthen your relationship with customers at each lifecycle stage:
- Attraction: help customers discover your brand through content marketing, SEO, social media, or paid advertising.
- Consideration: encourage customers to form a preference for your brand with welcome emails, compelling product descriptions, or comparison charts.
- Conversion: get customers over the line with product recommendations, cart abandonment emails, and personalised calls-to-actions.
- Retention: build a sense of loyalty that keeps customers from straying with loyalty schemes, product recommendations, and VIP discounts.
- Advocacy: turn customers into brand advocates through reviews, social media, and user-generated content.
- Win-back: wake up sleeping subscribers and re-engage lapsed customers with win-back campaigns.
Delivering relevant content to customers across all stages of the customer lifecycle on a consistent basis is not something you want to be doing manually. It’s extremely time consuming and complex. This is where marketing automation technology can do the hard work for you.
Marketing automation technology allows you to deliver the right message at the right time, moving customers along the customer journey with the hope of creating long-term loyalty. We talk more about this in chapter 10.
When you start using automation successfully, your customer lifecycle marketing will become a well oiled machine – this is integral to growing your eCommerce business.
To put what you have learned into action:
🗺️ Map out the tactics you currently use for each lifecycle stage
😎 Devise new tactics to enhance each lifecycle stage
⚙️ Implement new lifecycle automations
📊 Measure the performance of each automation over time
️🚦 Implement a testing strategy to optimise your automations
4. Improving conversion rates
Driving traffic to your website is the first step to eCommerce success. But not the most crucial. As we know, conversions are where the money is!
If you want to make more money from your eCommerce business, invest time in tactics that will increase conversion rates. Here’s a quick tour of some effective ways to give your conversion rates a boost:
Using high quality product images and videos
Your product images and videos are a visual tool to entice customers to buy. Product images that drive conversions are often:
- high resolution
- show the product from a range of angles
- let customers zoom in or out
Your aim is to recreate the experience a customer would get if they were physically examining the product in-store.
To go one better, create product videos. These let your customers see the product in action and help them envisage owning it for themselves.
Writing persuasive product copy and calls-to-action
Images and videos are not the only element of content that needs to be fine-tuned to drive conversions. Written content matters too.
Make sure that your copy is written to resonate your customer’s mindset. Create a tone of voice for each behavioural segment and personalise website copy accordingly.
Product copy that speaks to a customer’s needs is persuasive. And personalised calls-to-action are more likely to compel customers to click.
Creating a sense of urgency
Creating a sense of urgency that triggers FoMO is an effective way to prompt customers to buy now.
One way to do this is by adding countdown timers to your emails or website. This is a visually engaging way to create a sense of urgency. Trying using them to countdown to the end of sale, next-day delivery deadlines or the release of a new product.
Another way to use urgency in your marketing is through real-time alerts that keep customers up to date on stock levels as they browse. This plays on their FoMO and encourages them to snap up your products before they go.
Using social proof
Social proof is a powerful psychological tactic that marketers can use to drive conversions.
Showing browsers how many others are browsing a product, including star ratings, or displaying reviews uses the power of popularity to reassure customers about their product choice. This reduces friction and eases them along to their decision to buy.
5. Increasing average order values
It is easy to assume you need to attract and convert more customers in order to make more money from sales. If this is the sole focus of your strategy, you may not be using your marketing budget wisely.
Instead, look at ways to increase the average amount a customer spends each time they buy from you.
💡 35% of Amazon.com’s revenue was generated by cross-selling
Focusing on increasing average order value can help you deliver a better ROI for your marketing spend.
Tactics you can use to increase average order value include:
- cross-selling and upselling relevant products
- product bundles
- loyalty schemes
- volume discounts
- coupon or free gift threshold
- free shipping or next day delivery threshold
6. Reducing cart abandonment
On average over 69 percent of shoppers abandon their online shopping cart. Having strategies in place to recover revenue you may lose this way is crucial. Without them, your eCommerce business growth will be stunted.
So, why might shoppers abandon their cart and what can you do about it? Here are some key reasons for cart abandonment and how combat them:
It took too long 🕒
As you well know, online shoppers are impatient creatures and aren’t prepared to wait for pages to load or to go on a long hunt to find the products they’re after.
Make sure your SEO team checks page load times frequently and looks to optimise them. Consider a one-click payment option to streamline the checkout process.
Hidden or high delivery cost 🚚
Delivery charges are still enough to prevent customers from completing their order, especially if the costs are sprung on them at the checkout.
Make your charges are clear from the very start of the customer journey so they aren’t surprised when they arrive at the payment stage. Offer free delivery on purchases over a certain value or a click-and-collect option to prevent them from abandoning your site to purchase in store instead.
Forced account creation 🛎
It’s not a fun and convenient experience when you have to enter essays of information about yourself in order to purchase something. Especially if it’s a low cost item.
Don’t make your customers jump through hoops – offer guest checkout to make things easy for them.
Afraid online shopping is less secure 🔒
Trust plays a key role in the online shopping process. Carrying out transactions online can make people nervous. Especially as stories on data hacking and corrupt websites are becoming more common within our news feeds.
Promote your secure payment procedure, easy returns and refund policy to reduce anxiety around this. Ratings and reviews along with clear product information and a compelling ‘about us’ section will also reassure them.
Put off by cost 💸
Customers sometimes get a shock when they see how much everything in their basket adds up which will cause them to abandon it. This is difficult to combat as a brand because ultimately it’s out of your control.
However there are things you can do to help. Ensure you checkout is easily editable so shoppers can adjust their orders to reduce the total cost. Also consider offering a discount on certain spend thresholds so they feel good about their purchase.
Optimising for these factors can help reduce basket abandonment but won’t stop it entirely. Automated browse and basket abandonment emails are an effective way to entice shoppers back to buy.
Sending Browse and Basket Abandonment Emails
Browse Abandonment Emails
Browse abandonment emails retarget people who have browsed your site but didn’t put anything in their basket. And let’s be honest – that’s the vast majority of people.
They feature the category or products that the person looked at and are sent shortly after they leave. And the end goal is to get the recipient to take another look and nudge them towards buying.
Whilst they might be at the top of the purchase funnel and might not be quite ready to put something in their basket, this is no reason to ignore them.
By using behavioural targeting technology you can track what they’ve browsed or clicked on. You can then recapture their attention with a timely message featuring the very products they’ve just looked at.
And by doing this you’ll push them that little bit closer to a purchase. You can help them with the research phase of their customer journey and move them one step closer to buying.
Obviously, you shouldn’t send them to everyone as they may very well just be browsing and won’t take kindly to this type of approach. Target the people who are most likely to move on to buying from browsing. These are people who might:
- Visit your site more than once
- Spend a certain length of time on site
- Have browsed several items in a specific category
- Spent a certain amount of time on a specific product page
- Use your on-site search to look for products on your website
- Have viewed an out-of-stock product
- Be high value customers who are likely to buy again
Cart Abandonment Emails
Cart abandonment emails are a type of behavioural triggered email. They are automated messages that get sent if a customer leaves your website with items in their Cartthat they’re yet to pay for.
A typical cart abandonment email contains an image and product description of each item that was left in their cart. Alongside this will be compelling calls to action that drive the customer back to the website to check out.
These emails are an effective way to entice a customer back to complete their purchase. Nearly half of cart abandonment emails are opened and a third of those who open them go on to make a purchase.
The same rule applies with targeting – don’t start sending these emails to absolutely everyone as it won’t be well received or very effective. Use the same criteria as above when considering who to target.
Remember it’s always best to contact your audience as soon as possible.
💡 Research by Forrester revealed that 90% of abandoned carts go cold within an hour
Test and Optimise
If you already have these abandonment automations set up, here are some ways you can optimise them:
- include the product name in the subject line
- design your emails mobile-first
- A/B test send times
- feature inspiring visuals
- send a reminder if the first email was not enough
- make it easy to amend contents of cart direct from the email
- offer free delivery or a discount on the basket total
7. Personalising your customer experience
Building a highly personalised customer experience is heralded on marketing blogs and at conferences as the eCommerce holy grail. But what makes intelligent personalisation so important and how could it benefit your brand?
Intelligent personalisation goes beyond the use of basic demographic information. It makes use of behavioural data to personalise content across your website and emails in real-time.
Recent personalisation research conducted here at Pure360 compared the use of basic personalisation with more intelligent tactics.
Only eight percent of consumers would be likely to engage with a marketing email that addresses them by name. In contrast, almost half of consumers would be likely to engage more with retailers that send relevant offers that interest them.
Tailoring messaging based on actions a user has just taken makes personalised messages timely and contextually relevant. This recreates the one-on-one experience a customer would get if they were served by an assistant in your physical store.
The technology behind intelligent personalisation uses machine learning to gradually understands more about how your customers behave. Using browsing behaviour, purchase history, and crowd-sourced data, they predict and shape what your customers do next.
There are many benefits of using website and email personalisation to build a better experience for your customers. These include:
Meeting consumer expectations
Consumers expect personalisation. Nearly 60 percent of people want real-time personalised promotions and offers as they browse your website, according to Accenture.
Personalised messaging is more engaging. Recent research conducted here at Pure360 found that over half of consumers would be more likely to engage with retailers that send them interesting or relevant offers.
Increases conversion rates
Messaging that’s tailored to a specific target audience based on their behaviour drives more conversions because it is more persuasive.
Research from Econsultancy found that 93 percent of companies see an uplift in conversion rates from personalisation.
Influences purchase decisions
Personalised offers can affect a consumer’s decision to buy. Research by Infosys found 59 percent of consumers who experienced personalisation say that it significantly influenced what they purchased.
Increases repeat purchases
Personalised recommendations encourage customers to buy from you more than once.
According to research by Smart Focus, 50 percent of consumers would be more likely to use retailers again if they were presented with personalised offers and information.
Consumers prefer brands that personalise. Research by PWC uncovered 12 percent of online shoppers choose their favourite retailer because of personalised offers.
Increases customer lifetime value
According to Econsultancy, 64 percent of companies rate customer experience as the best tactic for improving customer lifetime value, followed by better use of data and personalisation.
Personalisation helps you sell more. Our customers see an average 22 percent uplift in sales from cross-channel personalisation.
Personalisation helped Luke 1977 double its revenue from online marketing.
Improves marketing ROI
Personalisation ensures you make more money for every pound spent on marketing. According to McKinsey, personalisation can increase the efficiency of marketing spend by ten to thirty percent.
To put what you’ve learned into action, put together a business case for personalisation technology.
You can use this to start discussions and push for increased investment in this crucial area.
8. Enhancing post-purchase journeys
Marketers focus a lot of energy on driving conversions. But what happens next?
What happens after people buy sometimes gets neglected. To see real growth, make sure you look at ways to enhance your post-purchase journey.
Post-purchase marketing is your opportunity to combat buyer’s remorse and make your customer feel good about what they’ve just bought. This makes it more likely that they’ll buy from you again.
Automated email campaigns that are triggered when someone buys from you are an ideal channel for post purchase marketing. But what messaging should these contain? Here are some ideas that improve customer experience:
- Your refund policy and returns process: knowing how to return products and get a refund helps to reduce post-purchase anxiety.
- How-to or care guide: these help your customer make the most out of their purchase and show you care.
- Product recommendations: complementary product recommendations empower customers to “complete their look” if they enjoyed their first purchase.
- Feedback request: asking for feedback makes a customer feel their opinion is valued. It’s also a great way to boost the review numbers on your website and allows you to pinpoint areas of customer service that can be improved.
- Refer a friend: this is good way to increase loyalty and widen your customer base.
- Replenishment reminder: if your products run out, sending a replenishment reminder makes it easy for customers to buy from you again.
9. Increasing customer lifetime value
Customer lifetime value (CLTV) is the total value each customer represents to your business. It predicts:
- how much a customer spends with you
- how frequently they spend with you
- how profitable these transactions are
How to calculate CLTV
You’ll need to know the following:
Average order value: the average amount of money that a customer spends every time they place an order.
(Average Order Value = Total Sales / Order Count)
Purchase frequency: the average amount of orders placed by each customer.
(Purchase Frequency = Total Orders / Total Customers)
Customer value: average monetary value that each customer during a timeframe.
(Customer Value = Average Order Value x Purchase Frequency)
- Average customer lifespan: length of time before a customer stops making purchases permanently.
Once you know the above you’ll be able to calculate your CLTV:
Customer Lifetime Value = Customer Value x Average Customer Lifespan
By spending less on customer acquisition and more on increasing the CLTV, you can increase the amount you make back on every pound spent on marketing.
But how can you get customers to spend more with you, more frequently? Embedding the following tactics into your strategy is a smart place to start:
- send replenishment emails to encourage repeat purchases
- reward loyalty with points or discounts to incentivise people to buy from you again
- make choosing products easy with personalised product recommendations
- offer one-click purchasing to speed up checking out
- cross-sell and upsell at the checkout to increase spend
- make customers lives easier by offering added extras like gift wrap
- surprise and delight with free gifts
- offer free delivery just above your average order value
- use social proof to make it easy for customers to justify the decision to buy
- encourage lapsed customers to re-engage with automated emails
10. Prioritising customer retention
Businesses that are built for growth, prioritise customer retention. Retaining customers is more cost effective and profitable than attracting new ones. Here are how the statistics stack up:
- attracting new customers is 5 to 25 times more than retaining existing ones
- the probability of selling to a new customer is 5 to 20 percent, compared with 60 to 70 percent for existing customers
as much as 80 percent of your future profits will come from just 20 percent of your existing customers
- increasing retention rates by just 5 percent can increase profits by 25 to 95 percent
Added to this, having a strong customer retention strategy helps you build a loyal base of brand advocates. Amplifying their voices through reviews, ratings, and user-generated content equips you to attract a wider audience.
Automating customer lifecycles
Retaining customers makes business sense. But it is easier said than done. In the digital age, consumers are polyamorous when it comes to brand loyalty.
No longer limited to the nearby stores on the high street, the modern consumer enjoys an almost endless choice of brands online. Brands that spend their advertising budget on reaching your customers on whichever channel they happen to be checking.
So, how do you ensure your customers aren’t tempted to stray? Marketing automation takes the legwork out of customer retention.
Setting up automated workflows that are triggered when a customer makes a purchase helps you to enhance the post-purchase customer experience. This is a key way to increase retention.
Enhancing post-purchase journeys increases customer retention and, as a by-product, pumps up CLTV.
Cross-selling and upselling with personalised product recommendations at key points in the customer journey increases the amount your customers spend.
Re-engaging lapsed customers
When you optimise post-purchase journeys, the aim is to encourage loyalty. But there will always be some customers who go silent on you.
A strong customer retention strategy considers how to re-engage these sleeping subscribers. Creating re-engagement campaigns is a powerful way to do this.
You can set these up to be triggered by a lack of engagement from the customer for a set period of time. This could be a customer who hasn’t made a purchase in a long time. Or someone who has stopped opening your emails.
Tailor messaging to remind customers what they are missing, giving them key reasons to re-engage with your brand.
Businesses with a growth mindset embed a test and learn philosophy into everything they do. To achieve real growth for your eCommerce business, it is important to adopt a similarly analytical approach.
Automations can help you build a highly personalised customer experience that enhances every stage of the customer lifecycle. Increased revenue is a natural by-product of success here.
Don’t assume what works for another brand will work for you. Test new campaigns, learn from the results, and improve accordingly. Incremental improvements in many different areas will big growth overall.
Use this guide to review and refine the tactics you use at every stage of the customer lifecycle. Look to optimise every interaction a customer has with your brand.
Ensure your strategy is not too focused on acquisition and be sure to make smart use of post-purchase marketing to boost repeat purchases and increase retention.
Thank you for reading this guide and we wish you every success.
And remember, when you achieve the growth you’re after, don’t slow the pace.
Fast-growing business do not rest on their laurels in the face of success. They consider which tactics drove this success and look to emulate this in other areas.
The sky’s the limit!
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