From search engine optimization to on-site conversion testing, eCommerce websites have a huge range of factors to keep track of. For an online store to be successful, it’s often necessary to have a focus on a wide range of marketing factors.
Enter the eCommerce consultant. From payment processors to keyword usage, the role of a successful eCommerce consultant covers many bases, helping clients turn their online stores into the web’s next Amazon or Zappos through action and focus.
In this guide, we’ll look at the five most effective ways you can help your eCommerce consulting clients achieve their goals. Be sure to enroll in our 10 Things Every Coach or Consultant Needs to Know course before you get started.
Analyze and advise on current marketing methods
Not every eCommerce website can succeed on word of mouth alone. While legends like Zappos.com sell millions of dollars worth of shoes each year thanks to positive word of mouth, it’s tough for a newer, less established website to do the same.
This is where marketing comes in. In order for any eCommerce website to sell its products, it needs to have an actionable marketing plan built around proven and scalable methods like search engine optimization or pay-per-click advertising.
When you start working with a new eCommerce consulting client, the first thing you should do is look at their current marketing plan and the methods they’re using. Are they working? If they aren’t working, what’s holding them back from success?
Many eCommerce businesses are operated by people that excel in creating products and building beautiful websites, but aren’t well versed in marketing. They may have the mindset that business will come naturally if their products are good enough.
As a consultant, you should observe which marketing methods are currently being used by your eCommerce clients, and their results. If one is successful, scale it and increase its results. If one is a failure, end it in favor of more profitable options.
Some eCommerce websites excel with one form of marketing – for example, search engine optimization or Adwords for Search – but instead spend too much of their marketing budget on failed display advertising or social media campaigns.
Observe what your clients are doing, find out what they’re doing wrong, and scale up what they’re doing right. There’s a successful marketing campaign out there for every eCommerce consulting client – it’s your job as a consultant to find it.
Our course, The Online Marketing Crash Course; Traffic, Leads & Clients, explains the different marketing methods used by eCommerce businesses, and shows you how to help your eCommerce consulting clients discover their best options.
Look at on-site factors that could limit conversions
Getting the right people to visit your eCommerce client’s website is one task – the next is turning them into customers. Many eCommerce websites limit their sales by using designs that make it unnecessarily difficult for consumers to buy products.
We’ve all had a frustrating experience with an online sales interface before, whether it was booking a plane ticket or trying to register using a clumsy, unintuitive online lead capture form.
As an eCommerce consultant, your goal is to help your clients make their websites as customer-friendly as possible. This process involves a variety of practices, from simple on-site conversion optimization to advanced user interface design.
Conversion optimization is one of the most important aspects of on-site eCommerce design. If your client’s website isn’t designed to maximize conversions, they could be throwing away the money they spend on advertising and PR campaigns.
Our course, Conversion Optimization, is a wonderful guide to optimizing a website for the highest possible conversion rate. From call-to-action buttons to good forms, it covers all aspects of conversion optimization for your eCommerce clients.
Another important aspect of eCommerce consulting is making sure that your client’s website is user-friendly and intuitive. Often, you may need to audit their website to see which processes are holding back potential customers or clients.
Enroll in our course, User Experience: The Ultimate Guide to Usability, to learn how you can take an objective, results-focused approach to converting your eCommerce client’s website from unintuitive to user-friendly and easy to operate.
Choose payment processors that work for your clients
Are you working with a small eCommerce company? They may be spending more than they need to on payment processing by billing customers through a merchant account if their total order volume is limited.
Optimizing a client’s payment processing system is one of the best ways to reduce their expenses and optimize their business. In many cases, eCommerce companies with limited sales are held back by investing in their own merchant account.
This is due to a variety of factors. One is the necessity of a rolling reserve, which can take its toll on small business cash flow. Another is the fees charged by many of the top merchant banks to small businesses, which can add up to a huge sum over time.
Advising your eCommerce consulting clients about alternative payment methods for customers – be it PayPal or new credit card processors like Stripe – is a great way to help them explore new processing avenues and reduce their spending.
Our course, eCommerce Website: Using PayPal, shows you how to help your clients establish merchant billing through PayPal. From one-off purchases to subscriptions, this in-depth course covers every aspect of PayPal integration for eCommerce.
Explore user feedback to optimize your client’s store
Does your eCommerce consulting client collect user feedback? Does it ask its users to review and rate products? Does it send out quarterly or annual surveys to learn more about what its customers do and don’t want?
Every type of business can benefit from learning about its audience, and your job as a consultant should be to help your clients learn more about what their clients want from them, what they don’t want, and what problems they’re facing.
Often, collecting data from users should be your first step as a consultant. The data you generate from surveying your client’s customers can be used to optimize their website for maximum conversions and improve usability.
Surveying your client’s customers is easy. Online applications like Google Docs make it easy for you to solicit feedback from customers, and your client’s mailing list is an excellent place to start asking for feedback, tips, and recommendations.
Not sure which questions to ask your client’s customers? Our course, User Feedback Surveys: Fundamentals, explains the benefits of surveying customers and shows you exactly how to set up your first eCommerce customer survey.
Consider the bigger picture and your client’s goals
Not every business has the same strategy, and approaching each client with similar solutions might not be the best way to proceed as an eCommerce consultant. Before you start working with a client, consider their strategy and bigger picture goals.
What might stand out as a problem from your perspective could actually be one of your client’s greatest strengths. A product that seems too expensive could actually sell better due to its high price point and the perception of luxury it creates.
Successful eCommerce consulting isn’t just about giving your clients tactics that they can use to optimize their businesses; it’s about understanding their long-term goals and helping them achieve them.
Once you’ve performed your initial analysis of a client’s website – checking their on-site SEO, analyzing their advertising campaigns, and judging usability – step back for a moment and ask yourself if there’s a reason for their decisions.
Speak to your clients to learn more about what their goals are for the next few years, or even the next decade. Many eCommerce businesses plan a long for the future, and focusing on the present isn’t necessarily the best way to help them.
Our course, Grow Your Business With a Strategy, explains how businesses use short-term tactics and long-term strategy to grow and develop. Enrolling in it could help you gain the perspective of your client and truly understand their problems.