It is an interesting question and one without a perfect answer. Before you start spending lots of money promoting your online store you need to know if there are any limitations. These may be issues like bandwidth or data caps on data storage. In most good eCommerce hosting environments limitations are not a major issue. You need to ask your provider what would be the likely result if you got thousands of visitors to your website. Some web hosting plans come with expensive excess data usage costs. If you provide the right level of information to your provider they will generally fit you into a plan that is right for you.
One way of working out how many visitors you need is to work backwards. Let’s say that you set an average monthly target in sales for you site of $10,000 and the average sales price is $100. So in a month you need to make 100 sales to meet your business target.
When we talk about visitors to a site you need to be able to measure the number of visitors and also repeat visitors (those visitors that come back to your site often). It is also very important to be able to track where they entered the site (entry page) and how (i.e. search engine, paid ad etc), also on which page they left the site (exit page) and how many pages they looked through (how long on the site).
In general terms the more pages a visitor looks at and the longer they stay on the site the more likely they are to buy.
After you understand how many visitors came to the site and how many sales you made you will know your “conversion rate”. This is the percentage of visitors that buy. So on our monthly target if you sold 100 products to 100 visitors in a month you would have a 100% conversion rate which would be fantastic but unlikely. What would be more likely would be around a 10% conversion rate or say 1000 visitors and 100 sales. This is a simple view of conversion rate but you can do some detailed analysis of visitor actions for example the number of people that add a product to the shopping cart versus the number that complete checkout. Understanding the complex conversion factors will help you to improve visitor experience and sales, more about that at another time.
Getting lots of visitors to you site does not mean that you will make lots of sales. You have to get conversions and that is where a good site will win over a bad site every time. It is also where you can use the information you collected about your visitors. If you see that visitors just come to the home page and go nowhere else (entry and exit is home page) then you are either attracting the wrong people or your home page does not provide enough interest. The thing you want visitors to do is browse around. You want them to look at products. So to make that easier have some of your best selling products featured on the home page. Information (text) on the home page should not be overwhelming. If you want to provide additional information create articles and use embedded HTML links in the text. Lots of relevant information is always good but don’t crowd the home page.
Search engines will crawl all the pages of your website and add them to the search indexes. So you need to make sure that you maintain relevant information which matches the keywords you use, the headings and the products. So for example if your site sells House Paint then you might feature All Purpose House Paint and have a related article about the best methods of painting a house with All Purpose House Paint. You get ranked by search engines based on the relevance of your site and the information it contains linked to the keywords you use. But good information will also keep people on your site and increase the potential of a conversion. It will also bring back return visitors and they have a greater opportunity for conversion.
In the start up for your site you might want to consider investing is some online marketing using a pay-for-click service. I would recommend Google Adwords, Yahoo Search Marketing and Sensis for Australia. If you start with Google it is the simplest and fastest to get setup. You need to follow some simple guidelines so that your ads will be shown so read through the Google Adwords recommendations. Make sue you set a daily budget that you can afford because the costs can climb quickly.
You should also take a look at the shopping comparison sites like Getprice.com.au and shopping.com. We can provide automated product feeds for you directly to these services.
The same rules apply for paid ads. Make sure that the keywords, content and context are all supportive; and that they take people who click on the ad to the relevant page on your website. You do not have to have the ad land on the home page. You can create a landing page that supports the ad content. So for example if you have an ad that says “read the top 10 tips on house painting” then send people to a page that is titled “Top 10 Tips For House Painting” and that page would have good information and maybe a call to action like “Try our All Purpose House Paint NOW – 10% discount special offer”. You can have as many landing pages as you want each targeted at different ads or visitors.
The key to keeping tabs on all this is to watch the activity on your website. If you are an eCorner customer we can setup an eTracker web analytics account for you to give you all this information.
- Start with relevant content that matches the products you sell and the keywords you use. Keep the content fresh and up to date.
- Understand what revenue you need to turnover each day – week – month to make your site profitable.
- Workout how many conversions you need and how many visitors (use a 5 – 10% conversion rate to start).
- Track who visits your site and what they do.
- Make changes to provide good information and keep individual visitors longer.
- Use paid ads to get things moving and to test out different offers and landing page content.
Don’t expect to be swamped by sales day one with your new online store. It takes time to be found by search engines and directories; it takes time for visitors to get to know your store. When someone does buy from you ask them about the experienced and listen to any problems that they might have had. In general your customers will be happy to provide feedback so use it.