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New Year, New You: eCommerce Business Strategies to Help SMB Merchants Start the New Year Right

With another year behind us, it’s time to buckle down and start focusing on your business goals for 2019. The beginning of the year is the perfect time to assess your performance over the last 12 months and determine which aspects of your eCommerce business strategies are working well and where you might need to make some improvements.

As an SMB owner, it’s important to stay engaged with your business and create long-term goals at the beginning of the year, which you can review every quarter and adjust accordingly. To kick off the New Year, consider these successful eCommerce business strategies to capture more revenue and grow your brand presence online in 2019.

A Review of eCommerce in 2018

This past year was very important for eCommerce businesses across the board. Revenue from shoppers on Black Friday and Cyber Monday weekend reached record amounts, and mobile commerce business continued to grow, accounting for 35.9 percent of sales online.

Over the most popular shopping weekend of the year, retailers raked in more than $14 billion across in-store and mobile. Cyber Monday sales reached a whopping $7.9 billion — with $2 billion generated from smartphones alone — making it the highest in eCommerce history. Based on this unprecedented success, many eCommerce businesses are hoping to capitalize on the clear trend towards online shopping and an increase in mobile purchases.

Predicted eCommerce Business Strategies for SMBs

In 2019, many eCommerce experts predict a growing popularity for many trends that emerged in 2018. As more people integrate home devices, like Amazon Alexa or Google Home, into their living space and interact with them on a daily basis, internet users are embracing the power of voice search, something every SMB owner should be factoring into their marketing strategies this year.

Chatbots are another useful eCommerce marketing tool that is expected to become more widely accepted. A benefit to both you and your customers, chatbots can answer simple customer questions and even recommend specific products based on customer interests. And, mobile marketing is going to be vital as well.

Over the course of 2018, mobile shopping increased, but many people are still using their phones just to browse, only to purchase later on a desktop or laptop. As a goal for 2019, try focusing on some eCommerce business strategies to entice those mobile shoppers to complete their purchases from their smart devices.

Clean Out Your Email List

If you haven’t cleaned out your email subscriber list recently, the beginning of a new year is the perfect time to refresh your list. Before you begin reviewing your subscribers, analyze your email marketing analytics to get an idea of how your audience is engaging with your campaigns (opening the message, clicking the call-to-action button, click-through rate, etc.). Once you identify your most engaged email subscribers, send them a special promotion to let them know how much you value their loyalty.

It’s also helpful to determine any audience members who have not engaged at all. If you’re continually marketing to people who are not even opening your emails, it may not be worth your time or money to keep them on your list.

The New Year is the perfect time to remove inactive subscribers, which will improve bounce rates and lead to better click-through rates. Just remember that online stores should clean out their email list a few times throughout the year to ensure they are up-to-date, performing at the highest potential and following industry best practices.

Revamp Your Marketing Calendar

A new year means fresh content and a revitalized marketing plan. A marketing calendar is an essential tool that will coordinate your messaging all year long. Think of it as a blueprint that structures all of the marketing initiatives and ensures that your efforts will accomplish your company objectives and stay within your budget.

Start by outlining a marketing calendar for every quarter. Many companies utilize monthly themes for content and promotions, particularly if a holiday is taking place, like Valentine’s Day or 4th of July. Then, as each month approaches, you can delve into the details, identifying each message and which channel will post the content. To create a comprehensive view, consider including the following in your marketing calendar:

  • Quarterly/monthly marketing initiatives
  • Email marketing schedule
  • Social media by channel (Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, etc.)
  • Upcoming special events
  • Content marketing
  • Special promotions and seasonal offerings

Once you have a solid marketing calendar in place, don’t forget to stay flexible. You can always make adjustments to accommodate an urgent new announcement or quick flash sale. Your marketing calendar will help you work smarter, not harder!

Reconsider Goals and Strategies

Establishing specific goals for your eCommerce site is an essential way to keep your business on track and motivate both you and your employees. At the beginning of the year, set a few attainable goals to accomplish and check the results every few months.

Start by reviewing your goals from the previous year and then analyze your eCommerce data results to measure your success. This will give you some insight into which marketing strategies performed well and identify any areas that need improvement. After reviewing your previous goals, you should have an easier time creating new ones that map out your path to success in 2019.

Analyze Your Data and Establish Points of Strength and Weakness

There’s no better way to learn about your business than to delve into your performance data for email marketing campaigns, social media performance and more. This process can be time-consuming and confusing because there are so many different data points to review.

To help you through the process, try focusing on the data that is the most vital for your business — total revenue, click-through rates, conversions, etc. From there, determine if some metrics are lower than you hoped. Any areas in which your company underperformed can pinpoint areas for improvement in the coming year.

But, don’t ignore the areas that performed particularly well. By reviewing these campaigns, you may find more information on what motivates shoppers and use the data to inform your marketing strategies for this year.

Optimize Your Website

Think of optimizing your website as a tune-up. Just like with a car, you want your website to operate at its maximum potential with as few issues as possible. The vast expanse of the internet means that shoppers can quickly hop from eCommerce store to eCommerce store, making it unlikely that consumers will stay on a website that is experiencing issues.

Slow loading time and difficult-to-navigate menu bars are two of the top reasons shoppers will leave a website without purchasing (and sometimes without even browsing). Try visiting your online store through the eyes of an everyday shopper and identify areas that may cause friction or frustration. Optimize these areas to provide your users with the best experience possible.

Optimize Your Site’s Mobile Capabilities

If your eCommerce store doesn’t offer an optimized mobile experience, you need to change that as soon as possible. Recent statistics project that mobile sales will generate 54 percent of all eCommerce revenue by 2021.

Industry experts continue to emphasize the importance of mobile in terms of conversions, but many sites continue to neglect the mobile experience from the user perspective. As mobile shopping rates rapidly increase, your business will begin to fall behind if you don’t include ramping up your mobile influence this year.

When creating a mobile-friendly site, always review the design on a smartphone to ensure that the navigation bar, fonts and images are properly formatted and displayed correctly. It’s also important to make sure the transaction process is user-friendly. People are less likely to purchase products on their phone if the process is tedious, so make sure the checkout process is quick and easy to encourage mobile purchases.

Consider Expanding Your Payment Method Options

For SMBs, one strategy that can improve checkout rates on mobile is adding a digital wallet option. Digital wallets are designed to store and protect private payment data, which can be automatically filled in, freeing users from a bulky user experience.

Apple Pay, Google Pay, Android Pay and PayPal are some of the most common digital wallets used in the U.S. However, if your target demographic resides in a different country, do some research into platforms across the world as many countries have adopted their own preferences.

By choosing to offer customers the option to pay with a digital wallet, it will create less friction between the user and your site, making it easier to encourage the consumer to buy in the moment. When all you have to do is press one button that already contains your information, it’s much easier to complete the transaction, particularly on mobile devices.

BigCommerce found that when eCommerce companies added a digital wallet option, they noticed conversion rates tripled. Apple Pay may be the second most popular digital wallet, but it does restrict people with android phones from utilizing this digital wallet platform. PayPal is another great option because it has a well-known, trustworthy reputation for consumers worldwide.

Identify Top-Selling Items

Evaluate your data to determine which items were the most popular for the year. Are these items still selling quickly now? If so, you may want to promote and highlight some of these top-selling items to encourage more people to make a purchase.

You can run a promotional email campaign advertising your top-selling items of the year with a short guide and a direct link to your site. You may even want to create a landing page for Top-Selling Products, where shoppers can browse your top 10 or 20 items for the year. Offering a special price or extra perk, like free shipping, can further encourage people to convert immediately.

Research eCommerce Trends and Highlight Products for the Upcoming Year

Along with your top-selling items of the year, you can incorporate upcoming products into your eCommerce business strategy. Research other businesses in the eCommerce industry and begin identifying trends or patterns in popular products. Also, review studies performed by big retailers and eCommerce experts to get their opinions on what will be popular in the world of eCommerce for 2019.

Then, you can determine if you want to add some of these popular items or, if you’re already carrying items that meet the criteria, you can develop marketing strategies to highlight and promote these products. Send out a New Year trending guide to your email subscribers, displaying the most popular new items for 2019.

Expand Your Social Media Influence

Social media is everything now — a place to interact with friends and family, a place to exchange money with peers, a marketplace for used items and even a shopping platform. If your SMB is not already involved with Instagram or Facebook, now is the time to jump on board.

Social media presence is vital to spreading brand awareness and offering customers an additional avenue for support. Though it may seem unusual to someone unfamiliar with social media, many internet users turn to these platforms to get answers from companies, and it often works more effectively than traditional over-the-phone customer support.

Running ads on Instagram or Facebook will put your SMB out in front of more people but creating an aesthetically pleasing social media account and posting regularly will also build a stronger connection with your target audience. Branding your business is all about creating a lifestyle that encompasses your products and bridges the interest of your target demographics. Instagram is a photo-centric platform with the ability to convey strong messages to your demographic as well as promote new products, sales and more.

Launch Retargeting Campaigns

During the holiday shopping season, you probably experienced a spike in conversions but noticed an immediate decrease once the holidays passed. This is completely normal for any eCommerce business, but why not capitalize on that extra business you received this holiday season and try to draw some of those new, one-time buyers back into your business.

A retargeting campaign is a great way to remind users who visited your site, or perhaps made one purchase, about your company. You can choose to have retargeting ads display across the internet on different websites or via email to encourage people back to your site.

In 2019, the competition facing online companies will continue to escalate. In addition to incorporating all of these strategies, it might be wise to turn to the eCommerce experts to help optimize your marketing efforts to outpace the competition. If you need help, schedule a full demo with Springbot to learn how you can set up your business for success in the new year.