In the past few decades, the world of e-commerce shopping has developed more than most could have anticipated. It’s no longer an Amazon- or eBay-based game, though both of these giants still have substantial influence. Rather, anyone can sell things online, and anyone can build a good platform on which to do so.
The problem, however, comes with saturation: If the number of e-commerce websites is endless, how does one increase their traffic? It starts with having a quality system set up. There are a plethora of available website tools for boosting traffic and increasing conversions for e-commerce websites nowadays. But the type of tools you use may be more important.
Below is a list of tools to optimize e-commerce websites for maximum conversion and traffic growth. If you don’t have all of your bases covered, then you won’t be maximizing the potential of your website. Each tool should be used to optimize your website, as well as the practices you use to run your digital storefront.
Chatbots as Helpdesks
One way that websites are engaging customers directly is with the use of chatbots. While the concept and use of chatbots have been around for some time, the practice is still developing and growing. It is projected to grow in popularity and ability in the next few years.
There are three types of chatbots that you could use depending on the type of business you run. Each is currently being used in full force across the e-commerce world, and each has a different set of rules that allow it to work properly.
- Menu-based chatbots: These bots make visitors choose from several options at each step. Menu-based chatbots are the most commonly used chatbots at the moment.
- Natural language processing (NLP)-based chatbots: These bots use AI to interact and understand user requests and inquiries. NLP-based chatbots need to be trained extremely well to be used efficiently.
- Conversational Interfaces (CI) chatbots: These bots use AI to engage with larger and more complicated inquiries, but if they are unable to understand what a user wants, they will switch to a more menu-based approach. CI chatbots are considered to be the happy middle ground between Menu-based and NLP-based chatbots.
Ultimately, the type of chatbot you enlist will ultimately come down to the function and purpose of your business. Menu-based chatbots may not work as well as CI chatbots in particular fields, for instance. If you plan on enlisting a chatbot, think carefully about the type you’re choosing and make sure you’re testing them along the way.
Digital Customer Service
Even the smartest chatbots can only go so far. Sometimes, customers just need to be able to talk to a human rather than a robot. Bots will struggle with conveying empathy and can be tone deaf, which can be frustrating to customers. Additionally, if a customer has trouble explaining their issue to a chatbot, their troubleshooting options are limited.
For this reason, there need to be ways for customers to contact human help directly. Phone numbers and customer service emails are still helpful and important in modern-day commerce. In cases where e-commerce site owners don’t feel comfortable giving their phone numbers out or are unable to be on call all of the time, some websites have enlisted the help of online web forms that visitors can fill out in order to complain or ask questions as well.
There is another important aspect of digital customer service though, and it’s something called “social listening.” People find that airing their problems on a public forum can be therapeutic, and it’s typically easy to do due to the popularity of smartphones (as you’ve likely noticed in Facebook and Twitter rants). If you run a social media page and find you’re being tagged or talked about for defunct products, bad service, or website issues, you have a chance to reach out and resolve the issue via social media.
Data Security Builds Customer Loyalty
While e-commerce has made buying things easier in a large sense, it has also brought with it a new kind of danger. This danger, of course, is data theft. Many adults remember the days of shelling out for antivirus programs on our older Windows computers, but as information systems have improved, so have the abilities of hackers.
If a customer finds their personal information (email addresses, credit card information) was stolen through a website they bought something on, they will likely stop supporting that brand. People feel safe buying from you because they believe you can keep their information secure. Thus, it’s your job to be diligent.
This is a time of rapid advancement when it comes to technology, so a lot of this diligence comes down to updating software. Those updates occur because no system is foolproof, and the developers have discovered things they can improve upon. Additionally, good passwords, security plugins, and setting up your domain with a good web host that is also secure are all vital to securing customer data as well. Do not be idle or complacent when it comes to data security — and make sure you have a continuity and disaster recovery plan in place.
Capitalizing on Metrics Available
Speaking of data, it’s possibly your greatest tool to improve traffic and engage potential customers on a level they will respect and understand. Big data may give insight into how customers think and behave at a level companies never could have gleaned through case studies and group surveys. The name of the data game, in this case, called “analytics.” As described by Maryville University:
The term “analytics” refers to the collection, organization, and study of massive amounts of data created by social media activity, browsing and shopping habits, connected devices (Internet of Things, or IoT), global positioning records, and any other human activity that can be logged, stored, and accessed for analysis.
The most readily available analytics tool is Google Analytics, which will give you all the information you need about how people are finding your site online, what they’re looking for, and what pages bring the most traffic. No website marketing list would be complete without it. Additionally, it will help you track conversions. This information is free if you have a gmail account.
With the help of analytics and metrics, you should be able to optimize your website for search engines as well. Having insights about your customers allows for adjusting the keywords you’ll try to rank for in the SERPs, finding malfunctions in your website (such as broken links and pages), and tracking customer trends based on these metrics. It’s highly recommended that you use analytics to your advantage, because it might teach you how to engage with your customers on a technical front as well.
In Regards to Usability …
A lot of early business owners will think about the usefulness and appeal of a product they have designed or a service they offer. But in the digital age, the term “usability” takes on a new meaning. The Nielsen Norman Group described “usability” as a “quality attribute that assesses how easy user interfaces are to use.” They added that the term “also refers to methods for improving ease-of-use during the [web] design process.”
There are a number of tools that can help you test the usability of your website, but the underlying principles of usability optimization simply come down to the question: “How does a user enjoy themselves?” You can follow that up by asking things like:
- If your pages load slowly, can site visitors easily find what they’re looking for?
- Are customers aesthetically pleased by your design?
- Are users being compelled to respond to your calls to action?
The point of usability is to optimize for their experience, and these follow-up questions will help you measure that practically.
Additionally, we previously touched on the importance of software updates. It’s very important that while implementing new software that works in conjunction with your website, you ensure that they do not muddy up the site’s usability.
When you adopt new business tools, you may have to account for changes with your website. And you have to tread that water carefully. If you don’t, it could make it difficult for site goers to use, which could lose you customers.
Optimizing an e-commerce website is an ordeal that requires thoughtful investigation and preparation. This preparation can be boosted by calling on the help of chatbots, but you must ensure they’re built well for your business practices. It’s also important that customers are able to give you their thoughts, opinions, and concerns. This requires setting up channels through which they can reach out to you, and social media is a key component to creating brand trust.
Speaking of brand trust, loyalty is bolstered by strong data security. Data security tools should be credible and kept up to date. Using metrics and analytics available via tools like Google Analytics can help you improve your SEO optimization. Lastly, your website should be easy to use and able to draw your target audience in; a site that is unintuitive to use will surely lose customers.
What have you found to be the most important tool or set of practices when driving traffic and sales via your website? Let us know in the replies below!
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