eCommerce Insiders

5 Lessons Online Marketers Learned the Hard Way

Every business owner loves to trump their successes, and therefore, the average want-to-be entrepreneur might be under the impression that they should learn from the success of others.

But the reality is this: sometimes, the best lessons learned at the ones acquired after surviving the failures.

Many an eCommerce business owner (or company marketer) have learned these things the hard way, and below are five of the most common lessons that were learned and corrected, the long, hard way:

Mistake #1: “Build the site, and the rest will take care of itself.”

Actually, this is one of the top five mistakes that online business owners (especially those new to eCommerce) have the tendency to make. They believe that all they need to do is to invent and purchase a clever domain name (or create one that’s a tight keyword match to their product or service), hire a great site designer, add in a minimal amount of content, then sit back and wait for piles of cash to greet them every morning as the sales covert themselves, overnight!

In a fantasy world filled with unicorns, this would be the case! But in the day-to-day functioning world of reality, sales don’t convert themselves, piles of cash won’t magically appear, and no one cares about a new eCommerce website unless the site owner gives site visitors a darned good reason to care!

Mistake #2: Data doesn’t translate into happy customer experiences.

This is a mistake that neophyte eCommerce site owners tend to make, although, this is also a mistake that site owners who aren’t familiar with customer care will also make.

This happens for a couple of reasons. Site owners in the first group are usually clueless about how to create a content strategy that brands, connects, and converts customers, and brand loyalist. This means that in order to compensate for their ignorance, they’ll lean too heavily on data indicators.

These are things such as page views, keywords, email sign ups, social shares, and other indicators that have their place, but they won’t provide a 360 view of how well shoppers are connecting with a web property.

The second group of marketers simply lack the finesse and the expertise to connect with their target audience. In many cases, they don’t understand how to target or identify an audience – their number one goal is to hit numerical benchmarks!

Mistake #3: Failure to create (and promote) a unique value proposition

This ties in to the first point. Too many eCommerce site owners (particularly those who are new to the industry) completely fail to differentiate their product or service from another.

Simply put, why would a customer choose their product over another? This is something that the manufacturer and the marketer (in many cases, they’re one and the same) need to figure out long before they think about online marketing!

They need to figure out things such as quality differentiators, price, rarity, regional appeal, etc. If they can’t figure out why their product is unique from another, and if they can’t figure out how to provide a unique shopping experience for the customer, then it’s certainly not the customer’s responsibility to make this happen (And it won’t happen!)

Mistake #4: The business owner ran out of money.

There’s plenty of results that takes place when the eCommerce business owner runs out of money. First, they can’t fulfill orders. This usually happens in conjunction with an aggressive online traffic campaign (designed to generate leads to a site).

But once the leads are on the site, the business owner won’t be able to fulfill orders if they run out of inventory before they can purchase more product from the manufacturer. If the site owners is the manufacturer, then they’ll need to purchase more raw materials before they’re able to fulfill orders.

Needless to say, customers don’t want to shop on a site that has ran out of inventory, and this leads to high bounce rates, and lost leads. Also, this leads to lost revenue, lost opportunity, and stifled revenue generation.

And sadly, all of this leads to a cash-strapped business operation!

Another sign that the site owner is cash-strapped is a poorly maintained site. If the site looks like it hasn’t been updated in years (and especially if the copyright date is years old), then this is a sure sign that the owner has abandoned the site, and they’re simply hoping to make an occasional sale by continuing to pay for hosting on an outdated site.

Mistake #5: They make the navigation and the checkout process harder than it needs to be!

Sometimes, there’s a huge disconnect between the way a site owner feels the onsite customer experience should feel, and how the actual customer feels about their onsite shopping experience.

For example, the site owner (or manager) might feel that it’s best to make customers enter as much of their email address and their personal information before checking out, but the shopper might not want to be bothered with gate-keeping entry forms while they’re trying to shop.

Also, a site owner/manager might feel that it’s best to lead consumers to a Contact Us page filled with data entry fields when the consumer hopes to find a phone number that allows them to speak to an actual human being!

It should be remembered that the purpose of an eCommerce site isn’t for the owner-it’s for the consumer, so their convenience and their shopping experience should be kept in mind, first and foremost.

Terri Scott

Terri is a content marketing storyteller and strategist. She teaches marketing and entrepreneurship through stories for marketers of all stripes. Her specialty is creating narrative and she writes essays and memoir in her spare time.

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