How can you get your ecommerce site’s first-time customers returning again and again?

Julian Byrne - Wednesday, April 07, 2021

The ongoing global coronavirus pandemic has led to a huge increase in e-tail traffic. Indeed, retail ecommerce traffic worldwide jumped from 16.07 billion visits in January 2020 to almost 22 billion visits in June 2020, as COVID-19 lockdown measures took effect in nations across the globe.


Such numbers went beyond even previous years’ ‘holiday season’ peaks – although that wasn’t exactly a surprise, given the numbers of people sheltering at home to help slow the spread of the virus. Major restrictions on people’s lives – including the enforced closure of many ‘non-essential’ stores – led to consumers turning ‘en masse’ to Internet retail to buy even their everyday items.


But with this situation leading so many consumers to visit ecommerce sites like yours for possibly the first time, you’ll have a challenge on your hands: not so much to capture customers in the first place, but instead to keep hold of them once high-street stores start to reopen. 


So, here are just a few ways to shift your marketing efforts to encourage first-time customers to continually return to your site. 


4 great ways to retain your e-tail store’s customers 


  1. Referral benefits

To minimise the cost of acquiring new customers, while enticing first-time customers to stay with you, why not embrace word-of-mouth advertising by implementing a referral benefits scheme? By doing so, you will be encouraging your existing online shoppers to stay in a relationship with your brand, at the same time as potentially bringing in new business. 


  1. Account registration

Encouraging customers to register for an account on your site doesn’t have to be ‘in your face’ and off-putting, as is often assumed. In fact, it can be more effective to prompt registration after the checkout process, so that it doesn’t interrupt customers paying for their goods. 


  1. ‘Subscribe and save’ options

‘Subscribe and save’ plans for your products can save consumers a lot of money in the long run, so it can be a tempting offer. From a business perspective, this is also a great way to ‘lock in’ future purchases from a customer. 


  1. Follow-up correspondence 

Once a customer has made their first purchase with you, this is the perfect opportunity to follow up with the customer, whether to request reviews or feedback, or provide tutorials and advice. By doing so, you will be able to personalise the consumer experience, helping to convince them to keep coming back to you. 


To find out more about our digital marketing and website design services and expertise here at Piranha Designs, get in touch with the team for your free, no-obligation discussion on your project.



Inside job: how internal linking can enhance your online store’s SEO

Julian Byrne - Tuesday, March 23, 2021


Inside job: how internal linking can enhance your online store’s SEO   


On the face of it, an internal link has a very simple definition: it’s a link that connects one of a website’s pages to another on the same site. In that sense, internal links differ greatly from external links, which are placed on one website but lead to another. 


However, when building your online store’s link profile, you may too easily clump internal links together with their external counterparts in your priorities list, assuming that too little differentiates them for you to do otherwise. 


Here’s why you would be very wrong to think that...


You can tell Google a lot with your internal links 


When Google sends its crawlers to assess your website and decide how prominently it should be displayed in search rankings, Google will take the site’s links into close account. It will also distinguish between the site’s internal and external links, as they won’t send out identical signals.


On the basis of where you have placed your internal links, Google will judge which of your site’s pages you deem the most important and relevant. Where those links are embedded in text rather than graphics, Google will also read that text – the “anchor text” – to help decipher what the linked-to page is meant to be about. 


Google will also garner a certain amount of meaning from the page that is doing the linking, as any two of your pages you link together are likely to be related in some fashion. Therefore, the linking page is likely to say something – however briefly – about the linked-to page.  


How exactly should I use internal links on my ecommerce website?


It’s not quite as big a puzzle as you might have initially thought before you knew how Google judges those links. As a general rule, you should prioritise placing your internal links on higher-value pages, like your homepage or higher-level category pages, and directing those links to the other pages of yours that you would like to see rank especially strongly on search engine results pages (SERPs).


You should, however, keep your internal links contextually relevant. So, while squeezing three links into a single sentence risks making your brand look pushy, a rapid succession of links could seem more sensible if arranged in, for example, a bulleted list of products often categorised together. 


What should be your ultimate objective with external linking? 


To use an apt analogy: while external linking is about attracting SEO value to your site much like you might buy delicious jam from a supermarket, internal linking is about distributing that authority evenly throughout your site – much like you might opt to spread that jam smoothly across one side of toast. 


The likely result: a site that ranks well across multiple pages, much like your toast is now extra-tasty right up to the crust. 


If you would like us to help you make your online store “pop up” more prominently in SERPs, don’t be afraid to get in touch with our search engine marketing (SEM) experts, who can carefully undertake link-building for the benefit of your ecommerce site.


3 great ways to use TikTok to promote your e-tail brand

Julian Byrne - Friday, March 05, 2021


3 great ways to use TikTok to promote your e-tail brand  

If you have only a fleeting familiarity with the video-sharing app TikTok, you might have long associated it with Generation Zers and Millennials dancing on-camera while lip-syncing to chart hits. As a result, you may not have yet realised how many e-tail brands have already entrenched themselves on the platform.
Establishing a presence on TikTok can prove surprisingly worthwhile for many ecommerce firms – especially as the app is said to have now been downloaded six billion times. However, if you want to make a big impact on this social media portal, you should craft your videos for it carefully.

Keep your videos short and sweet

TikTok users can discover new video content through the service’s For You feed. As a TikTok blog post explains: “This feed is powered by a recommendation system that delivers content to each user that is likely to be of interest to that particular user.”

TikTok’s algorithm here particularly takes account of what proportion of a video users actually watch – and the higher the proportion they do watch, the likelier the video is to be pushed to other users. Therefore, you have a strong incentive to keep your videos short and to the point.

Create videos based on trending hashtags 

Like other social networks – such as Twitter and Facebook – with which you are probably more familiar, TikTok uses hashtags. As with those other networks, you can base your content around trending hashtags in order to get it more easily noticed – although of course, the content itself still needs to be suitably riveting as well. 

Otherwise, you may struggle in your attempts to get your videos “going viral” – in other words, capturing popularity and shares outside the platform, in this case TikTok, where it originated. 

Give viewers a glimpse of life “behind the scenes”


Behind the shiny chrome that is your brand, a lot of cogs will be whirring – so, you shouldn’t be afraid to let your TikTok viewers have a good look at them. 

Perhaps you could show people how you prepare and package an ordered item before it is shipped to the customer? You could even put yourself and – if your e-tail business isn’t a one-man effort – the rest of your team in front of the camera to say a friendly “hello”. Such moves can help your company to portray itself as friendly and approachable. 

If you’re unsure how to get started with TikTok, our team here at Piranha Designs can set up your TikTok account and prime it for success when you opt for our search engine marketing (SEM) Platinum package. 

Alternatively, you might wish to speak to our experts about any of our other digital marketing or website design services – in which case, please don’t be afraid to reach out to us via phone or email. 

How to find the keywords that could help get your products noticed

Julian Byrne - Thursday, February 25, 2021

How to find the keywords that could help get your products noticed 

Naturally, if you run an online store, you will always wish to find new ways to draw more attention to your product pages. However, attracting a steady stream of online traffic through organic search results can be tricky when so many other e-tailers are trying to do the same.

Ultimately, the trick isn’t simply to attract a lot of visitors, but also to lure the right kind of visitors – those who would be especially inclined to buy from your website. To get noticed by these people, you should be strategic about which keywords you insert into your website’s copy.


Sow the seeds of success – by starting with seed keywords 

What exactly are seed keywords? In a sense, the clue is in the name. Much like you might plant a seed in order to grow a flower that beautifully blossoms, you can use seed keywords – which usually comprise just one or two words – as a starting point for longer, more effective keywords. 

So, if your company sells footwear, “shoes” would be a fitting seed keyword – as could “trainers”, “boots” and so on. Alternatively, if your online store stocks swimming gear, good candidates for seed keywords could include “swimming shorts”, “goggles” and so forth.


Start to expand your seed keywords into longer keywords 

What phrases might shoppers use when searching on Google for products you offer? You could find out simply by typing some of your seed keywords into Google and leaving its auto-suggest technology to add a little bit more to those keywords, forming more detailed phrases. 

Doing this with “swimming shorts”, for example, brings up “swimming shorts for boys” and “swimming shorts near me”. 

If you still need some more ideas for long-form keywords, though, you could try entering seed keywords into Ahrefs Keyword Explorer or Semrush’s Keyword Magic Tool. 

Discern what intent is evidenced in each keyword you find

While it isn’t always easy to decipher keyword intent, it’s not hard to pick out, say, informational keywords – like those starting with “how” “what” and “why” – and transactional keywords containing modifiers along the lines of “buy”, “deals” and “coupon”.  

You can probably now start creating content around many of the keywords your research has thrown up. 

However, if you are unsure what to do next on either the research or content-creating front, we invite you to consider our search engine marketing packages here at Piranha Designs – as all four, from Bronze to Platinum, include keyword research and guest blogging services as standard.

What’s actually motivating your online store’s target shoppers?

Julian Byrne - Friday, February 12, 2021

A lot of online business owners may feel that they already know whether they sell experiences or physical things. After all, if your firm doesn’t specialise in obvious ‘experiences’ such as holiday packages to Tenerife or driving days that involve blasting a supercar around Silverstone, and instead sells electrical goods such as TVs and laptops, you might think the answer’s pretty clear.

But actually, the true situation might not be so clear – and this can have major implications for how you market what your business does sell, including how you respond to customer concerns.

What is my target customer looking to accomplish?

The above is a big, big question that any business – online or offline – needs to ask themselves regularly.

When it comes down to it, even if – for instance – your store deals solely in electrical items like those mentioned above, it’s not really the items themselves, or even the finer points of their technical specifications, that you’re ultimately selling. What you’re ultimately selling to the customer, is happiness.

Yes, you read that correctly: happiness. Whether your store sells products or ‘experiences’, every store is essentially trying to sell positive and happy experiences.

The customer is approaching your business with a certain need, problem or unhappiness about something, and they’re looking to solve that issue. There’s something that they specifically want to accomplish, and they’ll want to know how your brand can help them to make it a reality.

Let’s look at the aforementioned example of TVs. Your brand might offer impressive 4K Ultra HD widescreen TVs, with pre-loaded streaming apps like Netflix and YouTube. But the customer might be looking for a TV that is available for a certain price, and that has a built-in DVD player, to enable them to watch DVDs for TV programmes and movies that might not be available on Netflix.

You (hopefully) get the idea. Simply reeling off “industry-leading” technical features on your site’s landing and product pages won’t necessarily get you very far, if you don’t understand what the customer is looking to accomplish, and the experience they want to have with whatever product they might eventually buy from you.

You’re selling feelings – so make sure you ask the right questions

Keeping to the TV theme, just think of all of the experiences your favourite TV shows and films bring you... the raw thrills, the sentimental appeal, whatever they happen to be. These experiences are what your brand is ultimately selling, even if you’re handing the customer a box containing something made out of metal and plastic.

However, not all of your online store’s target customers will necessarily be able to easily explain what they do need from a product, so it will also be important to ask questions that tease these needs out. Simply asking them “what do you need to do or solve?” can be a great starting point.

But depending on the product category in question, you might also quiz the customer on their circumstances, activities and preferences. This will help you to narrow down the options so that the shopper purchases and benefits from a product that does give them the experiences they desire.

Remember that a customer whose ‘pain points’ are comprehensively answered by your store’s products, is likelier to be one who continues buying from you for months and years into the future – and they’re likelier to spread a positive word about you to others, too.

For a free no-obligation discussion of your own brand’s needs in relation to website design or other digital marketing services, don’t wait any longer to reach out to the Piranha Designs team.

3 ways video can help drive conversions from your online store’s stuck-at-home customers

Julian Byrne - Friday, January 29, 2021


As we all know, 2020 was a year of significant change, and one of those changes was consumers’ relationship with retail. With lockdown restrictions continuing to be widespread across the UK, shoppers are still being widely denied what may have previously been their favoured retail experience of brick-and-mortar shopping.

In turn, though, our lives have come to be lived much more ‘online’, as evidenced by such trends as a major rise in virtual meetings, online education and – of course – ecommerce.

So, if you’re looking to generate the best sales and revenues from your online store in the year ahead, you can’t simply keep on doing the things that might have been serving you well enough in 2019 or early 2020, before the pandemic made itself felt.

Instead, you need to be constantly looking for new ways to evolve your e-tail store to boost engagement and conversions from all of those (presently largely home-based!) customers. Here are a few ways in which you might do exactly that, while tapping into the power of images or video.

Put a greater emphasis on user-generated content

You might be accustomed to thinking of user-generated content, or UGC, as customer reviews, and that’s about it. And yes, those remain crucial in this ‘new’ COVID era. But with this also being the era of social media and selfies, UGC can also take other forms, such as photos and videos contributed by real customers, showing them using a given product of yours.

You may therefore look to create galleries of these customers’ images or videos, or incorporate them into your blog posts. All the while, the message to your prospective shoppers should be clear: “real people, just like you, use our products”.

Incorporate inspirational and ‘how to’ videos into your product and landing pages

Many of your target customers may be spending a lot more time in their homes at the moment, but that doesn’t mean they’ll be happy to spend that time sifting through other parts of your site, just to find more information about particular items. After all, there will be other sites out there ready to provide them with a better experience.

So, embracing video on your product and landing pages could be a really powerful step to take with your ecommerce site this year. That could take the form of short and informative videos showing ways of using your products, or – building on the UGC point above – you could invite customers to submit such video content themselves.

Embed live video chat into your site

Yes, we said “video” chat – not just referring to the kind of text chatbot you might have made a feature of your site already.

In truth, video-based customer service may be best suited to online stores with a more ‘niche’ or luxury emphasis. After all, some of you reading this might be wondering how you’ll be able to ensure staff are actually available to provide customer service via video.

Nonetheless, if live video chat is a workable option for your ecommerce store, it might make a lot of sense indeed. It would allow you to personalise the shopping experience, making it feel somewhat closer to the experience the customer might expect to have from staff in a brick-and-mortar store.

Is your business ready to investigate these or other ideas for bringing your ecommerce presence firmly into the 2020s this year? If so, don’t wait any longer to get in touch with the Piranha Designs team about our website design or other digital marketing services.

How can your ecommerce store boost its customer retention rate in 2021?

Julian Byrne - Tuesday, January 12, 2021

The retail industry took a hit at the start of the pandemic – and, in a fashion, continues to do so as many companies are forced to keep their brick-and-mortar stores temporarily shut in line with lockdown restrictions. In sharp contrast, however, the COVID-19 era presents the world of ecommerce with a huge opportunity for growth.

Still, a big question is whether your online store can ensure what may have been its pandemic-sparked expansion lasts well into this New Year.

Regardless of how long the pandemic itself lingers in 2021, here are several strategies you could pursue to help keep your company’s ecommerce growth going.

Use the RFM model

The recency, frequency and monetary value (RFM) model enables you to classify customers on account of their shopping behaviour. One way to put it into practice is by assigning each of your customers a score from 1 to 5 on the measures of how recently they have bought, how often and the average monetary value of their orders.

So, a customer who scores 555 should probably be in line for VIP treatment, while one with a 255 score may be tempted back to your online shop by an automated email or text message.

Use customer onboarding to build relationships

Customer onboarding can work with both new customers and those whose transactional habits at your online store have waned. In either instance, though, your objective would be to foster a relationship that encourages the customer to buy repeatedly from you in the longer term.

So, while onboarding for a new customer might involve them registering an account with your online store and subscribing to its content, trying to win back a former customer could entail messaging them privately to thank them for their last order and offering them a discount code redeemable on a future order.

Regularly publish fresh content to keep shoppers... content

How many times have you seen, in your email inbox, a message focused on a specific product? The mere sight of this kind of message has probably made you think “not spam again”. That’s why your marketing campaigns can’t be limited to product-specific pieces like these.

While it would not always be of the best use to your customers, content that touches on pain points in their everyday lives would come across as much less self-publicising. This content can comprise articles and videos, for which we can help you to select the right keywords.

Keyword research and guest blogging are among the services we include as standard with our search engine marketing (SEM) packages here at Piranha Designs. We can help you to choose between our Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum packages if you directly reach out to us in the UK or Gibraltar.

The lessons learned from the UK’s first ‘COVID-19 Christmas’

Julian Byrne - Friday, January 08, 2021

Yes, we know what you’re thinking; that reference to “first” is not an encouraging one. Nonetheless, no matter how long the coronavirus crisis lasts, the fact remains that we’ve learned a lot about the state of retail – online and offline, in the UK and beyond – over the last nine months.

Those lessons, in turn, can have implications for how you choose to tweak your brand’s e-tail presence during the year to come.

Some figures in relation to customer habits over the last few months are, of course, still filtering through. But on the basis of what we do already know, let’s look at some of the insights and conclusions we can draw from the ‘COVID Christmas’ just finished.

Ecommerce is (predictably) thriving

While it has to be the least revelatory development of the UK’s coronavirus-affected festive season, it’s worth reminding ourselves just how drastically the pandemic has helped to accelerate an existing drift towards online shopping.

According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), Internet sales as a percentage of total retail sales had already long been on the up. The first nationwide lockdown, however, vaulted this percentage from 19.1% in February to 32.9% in May. For November – the month coinciding with the autumn lockdown in England – a new peak of 36% was achieved.

December saw the return of the tiered system of restrictions and the widespread reopening of non-essential retail on our high streets; it’s no wonder, then, that the Confederation of British Industry (CBI)’s monthly retail sales balance increased to -3 for that month.

The outlook for January, however, was a much bleaker -33. With much of England having been placed under tougher tier 4 rules for the New Year – bringing about the closure once more of non-essential retail – the ecommerce surge looks likely to continue well into 2021. That could mean even more opportunities for brands that have been optimising their online sales arms since March.

Not all e-tailers and product categories will have automatically done well

Unfortunately, some small businesses that attempted to maximise their online sales during the Christmas season are likely to have learned this particular lesson the hard way.

The fact is that even with the above apparent bonanza in ecommerce opportunities, COVID-19 didn’t just force us online – it also altered our buying habits, including in relation to Christmas gifts.

EBay data cited by CNBC, for example, indicated that gym equipment, board games and jigsaw puzzles saw strong sales in the UK in the run-up to the November lockdown. It therefore seems logical to expect such ‘indoorsy’ items to have been well-represented among popular gifts for Christmas 2020.

So, which product categories may have struggled during the festive period just gone, even for online sellers? Jonathan Pritchard, retail analyst at Peel Hunt, has suggested that “clothing faces the biggest problems because people are not going to Christmas parties”.

Keeping hold of customers is no less important than acquiring them

This particular insight isn’t likely to be a new one to a lot of the more experienced ecommerce brands. For those, however, who may have largely depended on a brick-and-mortar retail presence, only to be forced to largely switch their focus to online selling from March onwards, it’s a key mantra to take into 2021.

5 steps to boost your appeal to festive shoppers in 2020

Julian Byrne - Thursday, October 08, 2020

It won’t exactly be news to any members of your ecommerce brand’s team – or any of its customers – that 2020 has been a year like no other, although sadly largely in the negative sense. But of course, that simply makes a bit of well-judged Christmas cheer more crucial than ever, which is something your online store can play a part in delivering.

Below are some of our favourite tips for how e-tailers can capitalise on the strange times of the 2020 festive season with their online marketing and sales strategies.

Have a dedicated Christmas section

Of course, we were always going to start with the “obvious” advice, which is as relevant as it is in part because so many merchants actually overlook it.

It’s not necessarily an arduous task to re-jig an existing special section of your online store – the Halloween page, for example – to house and promote Christmas-related items such as festive decorations and chocolate boxes.

You might just be switching out some products and suitably renaming the page, not to mention replacing any links to this page on the homepage and navigation bar.

Be empathetic to your customers

Ask anyone, and it seems that we’re practically all stressed and fed up about at least something at the minute. We wish the pandemic was over already, and we’re fretting about our health and financial situations, and/or those of our loved ones. Other ongoing global events, such as the US election and Brexit situation, will also be causing stress – whatever your customers’ political views may be.

So, if there’s one thing your store should be, it’s supportive to its customers at an angst-ridden and uncertain time. Be the brand that represents the metaphorical shoulder to cry on, by training your staff to handle customer concerns with sensitivity and heart, even when only selling online.

Underline home comforts and conveniences

Whether or not your ecommerce brand also has a high-street presence, a significant proportion of your customers will probably resent still having to spend so much time at home, so long after the COVID-19 crisis first hit Europe in the spring.

But this does present your store with an opportunity to show that an almost exclusively home-based life can be an experience, too. Consider, then, what items your store specialises in that may be particularly relevant for domestic use – think everything from books, blankets and loungewear to home smart speakers, gift hampers and bathroom products.

Tap into the trends of the COVID-19 era

We all know that the pandemic has upended our world and lives, so why wouldn’t it have a similarly dramatic impact on what kind of items people wish to buy during the Christmas season?

Given the economic chaos the coronavirus has visited upon us, it shouldn’t surprise you that high-end luxury goods have already been de-emphasised in many stores’ marketing campaigns this year. In their place, we’ve seen much attention drawn to gifts that are unique, but also immediate sources of joy and comfort in the home at this trying time.

Encourage customers to connect virtually

We aren’t just talking here about how those shopping with you may reach out to your team via email, ‘live chat’ or Facebook Messenger – although this aspect of your service is certainly crucial at a time when your customers won’t want to be left waiting for a response.

That’s because we’re also referring to the myriad ways in which families, friends and colleagues may keep communication lines open with each other as the winter wears on.

Perhaps you could highlight the fashion and makeup products of your brand that could help your shoppers to look and feel good on camera, or the food and wine items that might represent excellent choices for a ‘virtual’ family tea or snack?


Are there ambitions and possibilities for the design or redesign of your e-tail store’s website, or its SEO or PPC marketing, that you would like to discuss in greater detail with the Piranha Designs team? If so, you’re welcome to reach out to us in Gibraltar, London or Edinburgh now.

5 tips for getting your category pages in shape for the search engines

Julian Byrne - Monday, September 28, 2020

The category pages on an ecommerce site are often overlooked from a search engine optimisation (SEO) perspective, despite the fact that they routinely already target and contain keywords that customers frequently search for. So, what further steps can you take to bolster your category pages’ rankings for those often highly competitive keywords?

Begin with the metadata

You can barely claim to have optimised your online store’s category pages if you leave the title tags and meta descriptions untouched. Such metadata will always be at the forefront of any responsible and informed efforts to improve SEO – so be sure to incorporate relevant keywords into them, and a ‘call to action’ (CTA) at the end of each meta description.Also try to keep the length of your title tags and meta descriptions within Google’s character limits – 60 and 160 characters respectively.

Use relevant headings

The title tag and meta description, while crucial to on-page SEO, are hidden away in the page’s HTML, and aren’t visible on the category page itself. The headings, though – with their tags like H1, H2 and so on – very much are clear to see on the actual page. So these, too, need to be relevant. A good rule of thumb is to use the H1 heading – which is typically the primary heading at the top of the page – to reinforce the theme you put in your title tag, referring to the overall subject of the entire page. This might be followed by H2 and H3 subheadings to represent supporting themes on the page.

Incorporate body text

Not everyone actually likes the idea of using body copy on an ecommerce site’s category page, with some preferring to leave imagery of the relevant products to ‘do the talking’ by itself. However, if you want your online store to do well in the organic search rankings, you really can’t do without at least some text in the body of each category page, even if you merely settle for a sentence or two. Carefully choose just one or two descriptive keywords that naturally fit with the copy, and you won’t need to write paragraph after paragraph for your body content if you don’t wish to do so.

Aim for relevant link text

Some ecommerce stores attempting to optimise their category pages often end up committing the classic error of using link text – such as ‘click here’ or ‘find out more’ – that is useless from an SEO point of view.So, consider the opportunities you have with your link text – including in the aforementioned body copy – to send relevance signals to the search engines, such as by referring to specific products or subcategories of products.

Include links in the header and footer

Sure, your site’s header and footer are the same across your site, so you might not see this as a tip for optimising your category pages, so to speak. However, your site’s header and footer do represent useful space in which to perhaps incorporate links to some of the most valuable category and subcategory pages.With Christmas looming in just a few months, for instance, you might take the chance now to link to your festive-season category page, in time to attract the attention of both search engine spiders and human users on the lookout for the best deals on Yuletide gifts.Just make sure you don’t overdo it with the header and footer links; trying to link to all of your ecommerce store’s category or subcategory pages here will not come across well to human shoppers, and will be over-optimised from a search algorithm point of view.

If you would like to discuss your requirements in ecommerce website design or SEO marketing in greater detail, the Piranha Designs team is available at the other end of a phone or email inbox. Don’t wait any longer to get in touch with us in Gibraltar, London or Edinburgh.


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