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We live in a highly competitive e-commerce world, where it is becoming crucial to increase sales efficiency. Not only to stay in the market but to generate better returns on investment. Effective marketing strategy, new sales techniques, and automation are the keys to the growth of online stores.
Today there is no doubt that the e-commerce market is in crisis. According to data available from the CSO, there was a fairly pronounced decline in the value of online retail sales in current prices (down 6.1%) in April 2023 compared to March 2023. At the same time, the online share fell by 0.5pp over the same period. The pure-players (i.e., online-only sales) have limited their growth, their share has been stable for many months and is around 10% of the market. E-commerce is facing a significant increase in its cost structure: wage pressure, space rental, energy prices, costs of semi-finished products, etc. This necessitates price increases for end users, who, additionally burdened by inflation, are not able to maintain the current dynamics. On the e-commerce side, the coming months and perhaps even years will require a strong focus on marketing efficiency. In other words, staying afloat will depend on how online stores take advantage of this time and new opportunities related to automation, content, or analytics.
Take advantage of AI and ChatGPT automation
Marketing process automation has many benefits that allow you to grow your online business, and increase profit, operability, speed, and experience for the end customer. Automation can eliminate some of the tasks that are time-consuming, non-strategic, and uncreative. Personalizing communications increases the efficiency of online marketing, builds a direct relationship with the customer, and increases customer loyalty. Advanced analytics help accurately track campaign performance and optimize strategies. Here, in turn, comes automation in working with advertising texts, graphics, and videos.
ChatGPT already has a whole range of applications in e-commerce businesses. For example, store owners can implement ChatGPT for virtual customer service by creating a chatbot. It will be able to have conversations with customers in almost natural language.
Virtual customer service offers a number of benefits, including lower costs and faster customer service. Approximately 90% of inquiries can now be easily resolved before chatbots.
ChatGPT can also analyze customer data to make personalized recommendations for customers. Imagine unattended assistance in discovering products that fit a person, or suggesting ready-made sets based on the history of a past visit.
Back to basics and what ChatGPT was created for. It’s basically the ability to write content tailored to specific audiences So eCommerce owners can use ChatGPT to plan, create, and optimize content for social channels. A good starting point can be to use off-the-shelf technologies, which skip the process of finding the best prompts, such as Publisher or Flick
The AI tool is capable of proofreading texts, correcting grammatical errors and the structure of the content itself. What’s more, it is also capable of handling text translation into multiple languages. ChatGPT can additionally analyze customer behavior and transactions to detect suspicious traffic, fraud, or phishing attempts.
E-commerce merchants can use so-called generative AI to create SEO-optimized product descriptions However, it is important to keep in mind that the more of this content, the better the algorithms will recognize it. There may come a time when this type of content will be negatively evaluated by Google. Finally, ChatGPT can be integrated with voice assistants such as Alexa and Google Assistant.
Develop content long-term
Data from the E-commerce in Poland 2022 report shows that 38% of respondents find ads annoying and 31% ignore them completely. This shows the potential for coverage that SEO, or website positioning, can be used for. In addition, noteworthy, 83% of respondents search online for products, services, or brands, and 59% of respondents browse online portals. More than ⅕ also report actively reading blogs.
SEO is an ever-changing algorithm that site owners must adapt to. It’s also one of the key elements of performance marketing strategy. One thing about Google’s strategy doesn’t change, and that’s its focus on providing the best content. The best according to Google is one that describes a topic broadly, supported by qualitative data, its own opinion, originality, and style. Context, authorship, and credibility are also important. Google bases its content evaluation model on what it calls EEAT (experience, expertise, authoritativeness, trustworthiness – that is, experience/quality, expertise, authority, trust).
Big algorithm updates in Google occur every few months. Currently, it is not possible to build organic visibility very quickly. All this takes time. However, the next 12 months will pass anyway, and in a year’s time your site may be in a completely different place, right?”
To take care of content in e-commerce, you should start with the basics: in-depth, unique, expert, and authoritative descriptions of categories, subcategories, key links, as well as products. There is nothing wrong with using AI for this, but as an enabler, not the only source. Nowadays, 1,000 characters is no longer enough, you should focus on longer and elaborate content that provides a comprehensive overview of the topic, or at best exhausts it. Sites that publish content that exhausts a topic rank best these days.
The next step should be to actively maintain a blog or advice/inspiration tab. And here again, you can use AI to generate ideas for new content. It is worth focusing on a thorough analysis of a given topic category by creating so-called topic clusters. In this approach, under one main thread, e.g., athletic shoes, supporting content is built, e.g., athletic shoes for babies, Skechers athletic shoes, or athletic shoes for jackets. These contents most often link to each other, fulfilling at the same time: the fulfillment of thematicity, credibility enhancement, or linking flow.
Take care of UX, funnels and use Google Analytics 4
There isn’t an e-commerce owner who doesn’t want to earn more with the same investment. The easiest way, of course, is to increase the conversion rate – increase sales with the same level of traffic. This may not currently be the best metric (I wrote about conversion rate here), but it can be used to illustrate the effect of better UX.
Actions or a UX audit should start with a business case, which is an in-depth interview with key people in the company. During it, dozens of questions are usually asked, so that you can learn about the specifics of the business and the target group. What kind of questions are these? For example, specifics of the industry, products, services, differentiators vs. competitors, target group, goals and plans for the coming periods, technologies used, business problems, and challenges. If you haven’t yet prepared a marketing strategy take a look at our article on tips, how to build a good marketing plan for e-commerce
The second stage of UX is heuristic analysis, which is a detailed analysis of the site “with an expert’s eye.” It involves going through typical user paths (e.g., researching products, making a purchase, buying in bulk) and creating a list of potential problems with the site. Expert analysis is a check of 6 areas:
This stage is very important but has drawbacks. Here the expert plays the role of the customer, and knows the typical shortcomings and repetitive errors, but will not replace the real audience. He may thus have a different perspective on the area in question.
No less important is competitor analysis To understand the specifics of the industry, products, and opportunities facing a potential customer, it is necessary to analyze competing sites. A number of key e-commerce competitors are analyzed.
- Strengths and weaknesses of competitors
- Solutions in UX
- Solutions in the buying process
- Usage communication and opportunity to stand out
As long as there are pre-configured tools that record user sessions and generate heat maps, you can additionally perform full-flow analysis.
This analysis allows you to find out:
- Where users get “blocked” during the buying process
- Whether they are distracted by specific elements of the website
- Which elements attract their attention and whether they get them closer to conversion
- When users abandon the site
- How much time do they spend reading descriptions, viewing photos, etc.
An extension of analysis can also be usability studies. During such a project, people go through pre-prepared behavioral scenarios on a website. The goal, for example, is to find specific products or make a purchase. During the study, participants are observed and asked to comment. On this basis, conclusions are formed about the website’s usability problems.
Utility studies allow:
- Find non-obvious problems with a store’s UX
- Learn the questions a customer has during the shopping experience
- Learn what distracts you from completing the purchase
- Learn about potential concerns before the purchase
- Check where users are getting “lost” in the service
Surveys can complement the research process. Through surveys, valuable information is obtained directly from customers and service users. Both surveys sent by email to customers and small surveys appearing contextually on the site can be used.
Surveys allow us to find out, among other things:
- What convinced customers to buy
- What were the customers’ concerns before the purchase
- What information users cannot find on the site
- How customers found out about the company
- Whether any elements of the store caused them problems
Improving UX elements will improve conversion rates, allowing you to achieve a better return on your marketing investment. All this will be possible if you provide correct, uninterrupted access to high-quality data. So it’s worth making sure you implement Google Analytics 4 so you don’t lose access to your data. Google Analytics 4 is a new event-based analytics with a completely new interface. If you feel you lack knowledge in this area, you can start with our guide on non-standard reports in Google Analytics 4 or send an inquiry to our digital marketing agency
CEO and managing partner at Up&More. He is responsible for the development of the agency and coordinates the work of the SEM/SEO and paid social departments. He oversees the introduction of new products and advertising tools in the company and the automation of processes.