Making the Most of Your Magento eCommerce Platform
Magento is one of the world’s most popular eCommerce platforms, and for good reason. The company creates open-source, flexible software for literally every kind of online store, from powerhouse brands (like Nike, Olympus and others) to small boutiques and family-run operations. If you’ve officially partnered with the Magento platform to build your eCommerce store, then you probably already know all of this.
While the primary goal of Magento is to help you develop a user-friendly online store, you have to be a bit savvy to know how to use it to boost sales and target the right customers. Understanding its features — and partnering with a solid eCommerce automation platform like Springbot — will help ensure that every move you make in Magento is calculated and good for your business’s bottom line.
First, here’s a little bit of background on Magento. The eCommerce store software was originally developed by Varien in 2008 with the assistance of volunteers. Because it’s an open-source platform — meaning it encourages peer collaboration and may be freely modified and distributed — it is extremely customizable and can be enhanced with a wide range of smart plug-in modules and extensions developed by other companies.
But Magento has come a long way since its first release 10 years ago. In 2011, eBay announced that it would acquire the company. The release of Magento 2.0 in 2015 included a roll-out of many features that help eCommerce businesses heighten user engagement, conversion rates and overall revenue generation. If you haven’t checked out Magento since this release, it’s time to reconsider the platform.
Getting Started With Magento: Leveraging Features
It doesn’t matter if you’re brand-new to the platform or have been using it since its inception, understanding the way Magento works will help transform your eCommerce business. We’ll cover a few of the most basic features here to help you understand what tools are available to maximize sales from the very first SKU you list.
- Conversion Tools — Can Magento help you turn perpetual browsers into loyal customers? Yes, absolutely. The platform offers a host of thoughtful conversion tools — related product suggestions, natural language processing (a tool that helps redirect misspelled and low-ranking keyword search queries), specific category landing pages and more — to help you convert potential customers. Other features are integrated into the platform to help encourage up-sells and cross-sells.
- Search Engine Tools — You simply won’t get very far if your site is not appropriately optimized for search engines, but Magento can help solve your SEO woes with tools that cater to Google and other major search engines. For example, it will catalog your content into an auto-generated sitemap for search engine web crawlers to scour, and it lets you leverage metadata. That helps your products gain visibility on the search engine results page (SERP).
- Site Management — The cool thing about Magento is that it’s good for even companies that have thousands of products. Its product import and export tools allow you to transfer massive catalogs into the platform with a simple CSV doc. It also allows you to batch update products and helps you manage backordered items, minimum and maximum quantities, and automatic image resizing and watermarks. Plus, their designs are 100 percent customizable, even when you use templates.
- User Experience — So now that we know that Magento excels on the backend, how does it translate when it comes to user experience? It has a ton of available tools for that, too, such as one-page checkout (because let’s be honest, no one wants to go through multiple pages to complete an order), integration with all the major payment platforms and a fairly streamlined approach to promotions, coupons and free shipping.
Taking Advantage of Customer Resources
Because we can’t go through every single way Magento can help boost sales and improve your end user’s overall experience, we want to emphasize the importance of taking advantage of the company’s customer support resources in order to ensure that you’re using every single one of these features to identify and meet all of your specific goals. The needs of an eCommerce business owner can vary, from attracting new customers, curbing abandoned carts or improving the customer experience.
A great thing about Magento is that it’s pretty well-known for having a solid catalog of customer resources that can help you understand and leverage all these tools. It offers different tiers of customer service based on its different types of products. For example, Magento Enterprise (for larger businesses) comes with full support by phone or email. On the other end of the spectrum, the platform’s free, open-source version, Magento Community, may not include any support, but it’s hard to beat the price tag.
Luckily, that’s not a huge problem in many scenarios, since — like all open-source software — there are tons of Facebook groups, forums and blogs dedicated to helping users navigate the platform. The cool thing is that many contributors to these forums are developers who are interested in creating tools that heighten the Magento experience. An extensive support network across the web is available to help you pretty much every step of the way. Make sure to bookmark the Magento blog for vital updates, tips and tricks.
Think About Your Industry
So now that you’re more familiar with Magento’s offerings, how do you use them to leverage your existing customer base and attract new consumers? It all comes down to two important aspects: creating an industry-specific Magento store and focusing on customer experience. Here are some good ways to make your online store tailored to your industry.
- Theme and Design — Did we mention that Magento’s templates are 100 percent customizable? That means that you can select your website’s theme and design based on your industry. In other words, you’ll be able to customize every single element of your site so that it’s desirable and adaptive to your target audience. Magento has built specific solutions for the fashion, food and beverage, health and beauty and automotive industries. Magento’s open-source code has encouraged thousands of developers and designers to create unique themes for the platform, which are easily accessible online.
- Search Engine Optimization — All of Magento’s SEO tools will help eCommerce stores reach customers within a specific audience. Again, this can be done by optimizing your metadata and focusing on keywords that are specific to your type of business. Hyper-focused SEO tools allow you to attract the most valuable customers and build credibility within your industry. By the same token, you can use some of the platform’s built-in tools for paid ads to target searchers who have a clear history of engaging within your specific industry.
- Customer Groups — B2B and B2C companies should not be treated with a one-size-fits-all approach, especially when it comes to the web. Businesses that want to stand out in the B2B eCommerce arena need to implement Magento’s customer groups to segment their audience based on their knowledge and purchase intent. You can also create groups to target related interests within your main industry.
- Audience Engagement — Another important tool for connecting with your target audience is developing customized messaging — across social, e-mail and more — that speaks to certain demographics. Magento can help with this by integrating social networks, like Facebook, through free extensions. For example, you can use Springbot automation tools to identify which customers are most likely to purchase from your site and then use Magento Social to help target those audiences in Facebook ads.
Focusing on Improving the Customer Experience
We probably don’t have to give you the rundown on why customer experience (CX) is so important in today’s ever-changing digital world, but indulge us for a moment. Did you know that most businesses allocate the majority of their budget towards customer acquisition? With the stakes that high, you want to make sure that you retain each and every customer.
Not only are they more likely to purchase from your business again, but they are more likely to share your product or service with friends. Leveraging Magento and third-party Magento extensions can help boost your brand’s CX.
- Responsive Web Design — One of the great parts about Magento is that it can be used on any platform. It allows you to optimize your store for desktop and mobile relatively easily. We can’t emphasize the importance of mobile eCommerce optimization these days since more users shop from their phones than ever. Suffice it to say that poorly optimized mobile sites lead to unhappy (and unimpressed) users, and it will also dock your rankings on Google.
- Structure and Navigation — You need to make sure that you put some good thought into how your organize your Magento store. Think of the taxonomy — the way in which your products are organized by categories, sub-categories and products — as an investment into CX. A solid structure and easy navigation lower customer frustration, which means a better customer experience overall.
- Connect to a Cloud Server — Unlike typical servers, cloud servers are accessed remotely, and in the case of eCommerce stores, they can help boost customer experience. Magento’s cloud server is hosted by Amazon Web Services, offering rapid deployment of customizable and secure online stores. The cloud allows for greater productivity to meet higher-than-usual demands, leading to less downtime and disruptions for your users.
- Use Third-Party Extensions — Third-party Magento extensions are a simple way to ensure that all of your CX-related boxes are diligently ticked. For example, our integrated Magento tools allow you to closely measure your site’s data so that you can make smarter decisions that translate to happier customers. Your ability to assess data — what leads to abandoned carts, why customers prefer one product over another when they’re most likely to shop — and then implement that feedback will help solidify your eCommerce CX strategy.
- Test, Test and Test Again — Complement your data and analytics by using A/B testing (also known as split testing) to compare different versions of your web store. Magento 2 has a built-in A/B testing feature that allows you to test up to 10 different variants of your site to see which one your customers like best. Of course, if your customers are happy with your site, you can expect a bump in overall CX.
- Get to Know Your Customers — Magento and Springbot are a match made in heaven when it comes to understanding your audience. Putting big data to work (collecting info on your customers’ habits, for example) can help you know your target segment and cater to their specific expectations. Together, these tools can identify where your shoppers are in the sales funnel so that you can reach them in the right way at the optimal time.
The Bottom Line
While Magento offers a full suite of useful tools and features to help boost sales and grow your business, you’re only as good as your ability to adapt to your customer’s needs. You have to be able to take a hard look at what makes your users make the decisions they do. Pairing the Magento platform with third-party plugins will help you get even more out of these tools and features.
If you want to see how your store stacks up to the competition, make sure to use our eCommerce Scorecard for an inside look at how your store measures up in the busy eCommerce environment. If we identify certain holes and key metrics that could be adjusted to suit your bottom line, we’ll let you know.
We’re a Magento Select Partner that’s well-equipped to help you maximize every single minute you spend on the platform. Together, we deliver data-driven strategies through marketing automation and analytics to help you thrive in the eCommerce world.