When Heraclitus said “the only thing constant is change” in the 5th century BC, he probably didn’t have the internet in mind, but his words couldn’t apply more closely to any other field than to this one.
If your ecommerce business is going to thrive in this changing environment – or even survive it – you need to be on top of the key changes that affect your business. Here are some trends that we think could affect your ecommerce store in 2015:
1. Social media shopping
In December 2013, Facebook enabled certain charities to receive donations directly from their platform. Experts have now found a similar ability hidden in their app, which if activated would allow people to send money directly using their debit card information. This should come as no surprise considering that there are over 1 billion active users on Facebook as of March 2013. Imagine if these people, who are sharing an incredible amount of personal information on Facebook also start spending money through the network. That would be a game changer for Facebook, and online retailers would be scrambling to receive a share of that spend.
Therefore, it would be prudent to make social media marketing an important priority for your business this year.
Remarketing or retargeting means that people who visit your store and don’t end up purchasing anything – or even those who do for that matter – see more of your business’ ads even while they browse other websites. Depending on how well you target these users, remarketing provides significant gains and an incredible power to stay top-of-mind for these potential customers.
Experts are predicting this trend will continue to grow and become even more relevant in the coming year.
3. Niche social media networks
Not very long ago we thought Instagram and Pinterest were niche social networks because they were only about pictures and nothing else. However, things have begun to get even more niche with many new social networks built around common interests such as food and fitness cropping up all over the web.
These networks host large audiences around a common area of interest. If your business deals with that industry – say you’re a gourmet spice vendor or you sell fitness supplements – these niche networks will become increasingly important for you in the future. These sites may not have a billion users like Facebook does but they are thriving and have a large demographic that your business may want to target.
4. Automated, targeted, personalised, and responsive email
Email might be yesterday’s news in the internet age but this old dog learns new tricks every year. The mobile revolution has changed email marketing forever, and responsive design has taken a leap from the internet into people’s inboxes.
Along with responsive design, you also need to adopt marketing automation to ensure you’re targeting the right people at the right time with the right frequency. While automation tools such as Marketo and Pardot may be too expensive for a small ecommerce business, there are definitely other tools on the market that are far more affordable. Find one that fits your needs and get started. Here are some of the terms that should become a part of your email marketing vocabulary in 2015:
- Drip campaigns
- Customer segments
- Nurture flows
- A/B testing
5. Conversion optimisation
What do you get when marketing marries statistical analysis? You get a beautiful child named Conversion Optimisation. As an ecommerce store owner if you don’t know conversion optimisation yet, you’re already behind the game.
Simply put, conversion optimisation involves testing new designs and approaches to understand what resonates best with your audience. In its simplest form – A/B testing – this means using tools to serve 50% of your audience one version of a page and the other 50% another version. Then you let the test run to see which page converts more people into buyers in a statistically significant manner (as in, when you can be sure that the increase in conversions isn’t mere chance but is due to the difference in design or text). Once you have a winner, you make that version as your default and let all your audience see it, resulting in more sales overall.
There is enough information online about conversion optimisation and you need only look it up to get a swathe of material to help you get started. One such excellent resource is www.growthhackers.com.
The internet is a great equaliser that has enabled many small businesses to compete with the goliaths successfully. One of the biggest reasons for this success is that small businesses are nimble and able to adapt to changing circumstances in a way that large bureaucratic organisations often can’t. What this means for you, dear small business owner, is that change is your friend. Don’t resist it – embrace it!