Building a Strong E-Commerce Foundation for Marketing Success


Many clients come to us after scaling down or pausing their marketing efforts completely. Restarting those efforts without a solid foundation is risky, a move that can cost more than expected.

Even in scenarios where marketing seems to be hitting its stride—think high click-through rates and a surge in traffic—the reality is that these efforts are futile if your website isn't ready to make the most of these visits.

I was on a call this week with a friend and marketer, Peter Fusco, who put it something like this:

The quality of the invitation (your marketing) to the party (your website) means nothing if the party fails to meet expectations. Guests (potential customers) will exit as swiftly as they enter.

If you find yourself in party planning mode (or, in our world, website optimization), here are some suggestions on where to start:

Ad > Website Synergy: The destination (homepage, landing pages, etc.) you're driving traffic to should nicely align with your ad's messaging, content, and strategy that captured a user's attention in the first place. Otherwise, it's like walking into a sushi restaurant and finding the menu is full of tacos and burritos.

Optimize for Product Storytelling: Ensure the narrative around your product is clear and compelling across all pages—be it the homepage, landing pages, or product pages. Communicate the unique value your product offers and how it delivers on the specific needs of your customers.

Compelling Incentive: Avoid defaulting to an email pop-up immediately upon site arrival. Instead, look at time spent on the site and navigation patterns to identify when might be most effective, such as upon exit intent. Offer something genuinely enticing to encourage newsletter sign-ups (discount, free sample, e-book, etc), and don't hesitate to gather additional information like user interests.

Navigation: Don't neglect your navigation. Keep it simple and focus on what jumping-off points make the most sense for visitors. Time and time again, we see folks land on a website and open the navigation within seconds. It's a quick way (or should be) for visitors to get familiar with the brand and what they offer. If your focus is e-commerce, don't fluff up the top nav items with brand storytelling pages, events, or a neglected blog. We've seen it all.

Automation: Set up at least a basic welcome email/SMS flow for new sign-ups. For a more refined approach, segment users based on interests, location, etc., and tailor a more personalized flow. Ensuring you have essential retargeting flows like Abandoned Cart in place is also essential.

Upselling/Cross-Selling: New visitors will want to familiarize themselves with your offerings. Facilitate that exploration! Show them complementary products and the broader catalog through dynamic upsells and cross-sells throughout the site—from product detail pages to the cart and checkout. Don't forget to include a module for Recently Viewed, as well. Make it easy for them to shop!

Mobile Optimization: Prioritize a clean, simple mobile experience that's easy to navigate and doesn't bury information behind endless scrolling and giant spacing.

Speed: Site speed is non-negotiable. A common pitfall affecting speed is oversized images, alongside the clutter of unused apps. A streamlined, lightning-fast website is essential.

Once you have a good foundation in place, make sure you have a straightforward system for tracking key metrics. We embrace simplicity, often leveraging a basic Google sheet that compiles data from platforms like Shopify, Google Analytics, and relevant third-party apps. This approach allows us to monitor how traffic navigates through our clients’ sites, pinpoint where drop-offs happen, observe conversion rates, and whatever else is important for the client's business. Tools like Microsoft Clarity are invaluable for deeper dives into user behavior, such as scroll depth and heatmap analysis.

Skipping these basics and jumping straight into marketing can be like setting money on fire. Remember, just because the invite is incredible doesn't mean the party will be a hit. Ensure your foundation is solid, so when you do invest in marketing, it leads to real, measurable growth.


This post originally appeared in #73 of The E-Commerce Corner. Subscribe here.

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