For those unfamiliar with the online shopping monster, Shopify is a website design platform, online store host, and e-commerce giant available for any business owner to use.
Shopify hit the $1 billion milestone in early 2013 when the company became the widely-recognized, go-to e-commerce platform for startups.
With top-tier brand recognition and an online audience that has grown exponentially since the company's inception in 2006, Shopify has taken the e-commerce world by storm as it continues to refine its interface and fine-tune its user experience.
For those looking to set up their own e-commerce store, Shopify is a great option for multiple reasons. But owning a Shopify store to run on auto-pilot is one thing--staying active and engaged with SEO best practices as the store grows is another.
E-commerce can be a beast, so it's important to consider the required investment (both time and money) before moving forward with an e-commerce store investment. However, a successful e-commerce site can be incredibly rewarding.
While e-commerce sites differ from other websites, they hold one SEO truth in common: it's all about conversions.
Here are six rock-solid steps to take you from initial store set-up to post-purchase follow through in order to optimize your Shopify store for what matters most: conversions.
Research & Data Gathering
This may seem like a no-brainer, but it consistently begs repeating: track the user actions on your site.
Why is this so important? Shopify allows site owners to follow every click on your site pages, which in turn allows you to follow where your users are going on your site.
Once you follow your user's navigation patterns, you can determine why they are charting that specific course on your site. This will help bring you to the "aha!" moment where you can uncover what causes your potential customers to purchase or not purchase from your Shopify store.
But the magic for site owners doesn't stop there. Thankfully, every Shopify store owner has access to Shopify Reports, which crawl, collect and store data automatically for store owners to access.
With an understanding of how your site visitors tend to interact with your store, you can make adjustments accordingly and perform SEO changes to align with user data patterns.
Google is the king of the crop when it comes to search engines and data analytics. But it also happens to be a gold mine of free tools for Shopify store owners.
While we could go through the entire list, the important takeaway is this: tracking user data is incredibly important when optimizing your store.
If you don't already have a Google Analytics account, you can create one here.
Once you're set up and ready to get rolling, you can retrieve your tracking ID number from the New Account page. Copy and paste the tracking ID in your Shopify store under Preferences --> Google Analytics.
Once you get a confirmation from Shopify, you're good to go. Google Analytics is now integrated in your online store and you'll have access to loads of user data to best track and analyze the patterns of your site visitors and potential customers.
Optimize Your Landing Page
Here is where things on the digital marketing side get competitive.
There are thousands of online stores that sell similar or related products. There are also thousands more that boast above-average websites. The key is to stand out beyond the front-end website visuals.
Your landing page--the first page your customer will see and likely the first impression they'll develop about your product--is vital to drawing the customer through value proposition.
In other words, from the customer perspective, what can your product provide that is new and unique? What is special about your product? How does your product stand out from others like it?
Even with a good landing page, customers sometimes click the back arrow. Sometimes they scroll over the main marketing strategy you worked hard to get in front of their face. But there's hope.
Enter landing page optimization.
Whether or not you're using your product web page as a default landing page, you can include the following in order to make your potential customer's first impression of your product a memorable one:
Digital media. Include ample visuals in your Shopify store like product photos and short video clips to illustrate the unique utility and value of your product. Visuals have proven to be a much more attractive method of product advertising than text, so make sure you emphasize your landing page visual media.
Digital media helps to bridge the gap for online customers who don't have the luxury of physically immersing themselves with your product like they normally would in a store.
In other words, it can be difficult for an online shopper to fall in love with a product online. Shopping is a different experience without the use of normal senses (touch, taste, smell, feel, see up close and personal), but with online shopping quickly becoming the commerce norm, there is a prime opportunity to offer the next best thing: photos and videos.
Death Wish Coffee, a New York-based coffee bean retailer, runs their online store on Shopify and does a stellar job with on-site visuals. The photographs and graphics on their site home page (which is functionally a landing page) are clean and inviting. They help tell the Death Wish brand story.
Product description. This is also vitally important. While images can help tell the brand story, well-crafted copywriting will be your best tool for explaining the product itself. Be concise, be direct, and write with a problem --> solution model.
Testimonials. Third-party reviews add a nice credibility boost. People always appreciate an added human element, and nothing says "validity" like a real-life customer testimonial. Be sure to include more than one testimonial, but keep your total reviews below double digits. The last thing you want is to slap an online shopper in the face with a look-how-great-our-product-is hand.
While this is a classic sales technique, it's nowhere near an outdated one. When a customer adds an item to their cart, make sure other options are showed and suggested to them before finalizing their purchase.
If your Shopify store is an online flower shop, make sure that before they submit their order for a flower bouquet, they are also offered chocolates, a teddy bear, and vase options.
Product upsells should be closely related to the product being purchased by the customer, but there's freedom to advertise just about any product as an add-on.
Abandoned Cart Campaign
Another classic e-commerce technique, an abandoned cart campaign can actually end up salvaging a sale that would have otherwise been lost.
Customers often add items to their cart, forget about them, and never revisit the same site to finalize their purchase. So what's the best way to treat the abandoned cart epidemic?
Turn it into a campaign, of course. Scheduling an email to automatically send out to customers who have abandoned their online carts is a good start. Simply set up an auto-email on Mailchimp that will reach out to customers who haven't yet returned to their abandoned cart on your store.
But wait--tons of Shopify store owners already observe this best practice. How do you stand out?
Create a discount or special offer for your abandoned cart customers.
This will not only show that you care about that customer's individual purchase, but it will also create a sense of urgency on the customer's end. Make sure your discount or special offer comes attached with a time counter or expiration date. Otherwise, the offer could float around in an inbox unclicked.
Most importantly, let your potential customers know that they are valued and their visit to your Shopify store is not taken for granted. This will draw them more to your brand and, consequently, to a product purchase.
Peace of Mind & Social Proof Security
Shopping and checkout security are still primary concerns on the minds of online shoppers, even in 2017.
No one really enjoys typing in their bank information into a 'foreign' online store, so creating any semblance of security and peace of mind for shoppers can go a long way.
To establish trust and re-instill confidence in online shoppers, there are a few action steps you can take as a Shopify store owner.
Offer a human touch. This can look like showing a video loop of internal office pictures, photos of actual customer service representatives (or whoever shoppers will interact with if they need to contact your online store), and a messaging service built into your online store. This can be as simple as a single photoshoot or adding a "message us" icon toward the bottom of the checkout page.
Making communication easy and readily available for shoppers will help quell any fears of security breaching or a lack of website trust.
Conversions are everything in the digital marketing world, and e-commerce is no exception. Ultimately, following these practices frequently and consistently will help ensure that conversion optimization is alive and well on your Shopify store.