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10 Ways to Increase Customer Loyalty Without a Points Program

If you want to level up your customer loyalty initiatives beyond a points program, we've put together ten tips that can help.

Francesca Nicasio

Content Strategy Manager

Loyalty is everything. In an increasingly competitive ecommerce market, brands are constantly vying for customer loyalty, for good reason: loyal customers are often the most profitable. 

Plus, one of the best ways to tap into earned media (like word-of-mouth advertising, which most consumers trust above other advertising methods) is through—you guessed it—stronger customer loyalty. 

Perhaps the most common way businesses try to foster brand loyalty is through a points program. However, if companies simply provide a cut-and-dry rewards program and call it a day (as opposed to a spend-based loyalty program or VIP program), it can make customers feel unvalued or not like VIPs. 

In addition, if a program is solely about the points, it may fail to differentiate itself from other more competitive programs in the market. 

Industry data shows that just 18% of rewards program members actively engage with all the programs they're a member of, showing how some rewards programs may offer too little value to the customer. Oof. 

If you want to level up your customer loyalty initiatives beyond a points program, we've put together ten tips that can help.

Let's get started!

 


 

1. Set up email and SMS automations focused on bringing customers back

Email and SMS marketing are great ways to increase customer loyalty, as you can reach customers directly through their inboxes and mobile devices.

For best results, send triggered messages based on certain behaviors or actions your customers take. For example, you could send a message to a customer who hasn't made a purchase in a set amount of time or provide a voucher or discount as a way to say thank you after someone has made their first purchase. 

Pinjarra Bakery is an excellent example of a business putting email and SMS marketing to good use. The company uses Marsello to power various campaigns that entice people to come in.

“We send out an SMS blast to our loyal customers first or our loyalty customers first giving them first access to come in and try the product before we release it to the public,” Daniel explains. “And of course, we conveniently time the blast to go out around lunchtime so people are probably getting hungry that time of the day and so far the results have been great.”

Limited-Time-Pinjarra-Bakery-SMS-next-to-man-eating-a-pie-1

Another idea is to reward your customers' birthdays. You could track birthday purchases and the rate of redemption—all of which is valuable data that can be leveraged for more tailored marketing down the road.

Easy-to-implement options include sending a one-time special discount or a freebie via text or email. Just make sure to use unique codes to track the effectiveness of your automations.

2. Setting up targeted segments

Did you know that the average email open rate is just 21.5%? To make your emails more relevant, segment subscribers into different groups or categories based on criteria like location, age, or behavior. By doing so, you can better cater to each segment through the content and deals you offer, intrinsically creating more value for your customers. 

Oh, and as a pro tip, consider using your subject lines to gauge interest in new products and themes you're considering offering.

3. Foster a strong community incidental to your brand

A brand community, when done right, is a way to rally together your most loyal customers or people who are the most interested in what you have to offer. Communities bring people together, which drives loyalty through shared experiences, meaningful connections, and a sense of belonging.

Marsello customer Pace Athletic is a master at community-building. The company has a run club that includes social jogs for all fitness levels. These run events end at local pubs where members can socialize, relax, and build friendships over a meal or drinks.

See if you can implement similar initiatives in your business. If you run a game shop, you could consider running a monthly board game night at your location. Brewery? Maybe a recurring beer tasting event or a pub quiz. Whether you want to keep it casual or more formal, brand communities are a great way to tap into brand loyalty and customer advocacy.

4. Offer exclusive access and early releases

Never underestimate the power of exclusivity. By fostering a sense of unique value or desirability—either by offering limited availability or exclusive access—brands can tap into the age-old desire of customers wanting to get something that's hard-to-get. 

You can use this to your advantage by targeting your top spenders or frequent purchasers and creating a segmented campaign. Reward them with access to exclusive events, pre-sale access to limited edition items, or other similar events. 

Take, for instance, Nordstrom, which gives members of The Nordy Club (the company's loyalty program) early access and extra discounts at sales events.

the nordy club - loyalty example

5. Start a referral program

To start things off, assign each consumer a unique referral code. Then, when they share your business with their friends, you can see if a purchase or subscription was made through the code and offer the customer (and maybe even the referred person) a reward. We recommend offering rewards that aren't point-based, like a free product or exclusive discount.

Also, make it easy to refer others: consider including a template with their unique code that customers can copy and paste. By reducing the friction around referrals, you'll make it easier for your brand to harness the power of earned media.

6. Provide valuable content and resources

Another great way to build customer loyalty is by creating content that's both informative and helpful for your customers: all with your own branding, of course. 

Let's say you run a makeup or beauty company: you could do TikTok or Instagram user-generated reviews of your products, do tutorials on how to apply certain products, or make a Q&A video about frequently asked questions. 

When you offer tips, guides, and tutorials on topics your audience cares about, you position your company as an expert and drive brand awareness by playing the long game.

7. Collect customer feedback

The best way to improve and understand customer satisfaction is through feedback, and what better moment to get feedback than right after a purchase? You can consider offering a small perk like free shipping on their next order as a small incentive, but what's crucial is to make it easy for your customers to provide feedback and to ensure they don't feel pressured into doing so. 

Marsello's customer feedback capabilities allow shoppers to provide input with just a few clicks, so the experience is effortless.

Check out this example from Madame Fancy Pants, which uses Marsello's customer feedback capabilities to create a simple, visually appealing survey so customers can quickly rate their shopping experience.

Marsello-Madame-Fancy-Pants-Customizable-Feedback-Survey

Already have customer feedback? Be sure to act on it to improve your retention strategies. And don't forget to proactively inform your customers about any changes and updates you've made so they feel heard and seen.

8. Create a customer-centric culture

Improving customer loyalty isn't just about what you put out there—it's very much an inside job. The people in your business play a crucial role in fostering customer loyalty, so you need to instill the value of customer-centricity in your teams. 

You can do this by providing ongoing training and development focused on customer service to keep folks at the top of their customer support game. 

A great example of this in action comes from Zappos, which has built a reputation for exceptional customer service. The company provides extensive training for their employees, including a four-week program that emphasizes the importance of customer satisfaction. This commitment to training has helped Zappos achieve a high level of customer loyalty and a strong brand reputation.

Another example is Pace Athletic, who run a regular running club for their community. Why we love it? Pace Athletic live and breathe what they do - a running club is a natural extension of their brand, and a way to connect on a deeper level with their customers and followers. 

The Pace team don't organize a running club to generate sales (at least not directly). But it does drive brand awareness and sales as a result. When their community build deeper relationships with the Pace team, they want to come in-store and ask for the staff's recommendations, suggestions and pointers. They want to support their local business, and the people behind it.

If you are passionate about what your business sells and what you represent, building community will come relatively easily. But it does take time and requires a commitment, so don't be disheartened if you don't see the revenue impact right away.

 

9. Invest in unique products and services

People stick with retailers and restaurants that consistently provide products and services they won't find elsewhere. So, strive to deliver unique and high-quality offerings to all of your guests. 

If you're in retail, this can come in the form of trendy fashion or homeware products that enhance your customers' lives. If you're a restaurant, this could mean offering exclusive and innovative dishes, sourcing locally grown and fresh ingredients, or creating a unique dining experience with exceptional ambiance.

When you do this consistently, you build a loyal customer base and differentiate yourself from the competition.

10. Implement corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives

Doing good is good for business. Industry data shows that consumers are more likely to choose brands that promote CSR aspects like sustainability. According to Neilsen, "a whopping 81% of respondents said that it's extremely or very important that companies implement programs to improve the environment. When it comes to action, 73% said they would either definitely or probably change their consumption habits to reduce their impact on the environment."

To that end, it may make sense for your business to develop sustainability programs that focus on reducing environmental impact. This could include minimizing waste, using renewable energy, and sourcing sustainable materials.

Of course, CSR isn't just about sustainability. Social responsibility also encompasses societal issues like fair labor and community. So if these values align more with your brand, start exploring ways to support social causes. For instance, the brand TOMS partners with non-profit organizations that work on various societal issues, including access to mental health resources, community rehabilitation, and education.

TOMS initiatives - loyalty examples

Before you begin...

To ensure that your customer loyalty approaches are paying off, you must track key metrics regularly. Otherwise, you run the risk of investing significant time and money for no result. While you may not need to track all of the data points below, familiarize yourself with them and check in with your marketing team to determine which ones are the best for your organization. 

  • Net Promoter Score (NPS): This measures customer satisfaction and loyalty based on how likely customers would recommend a product/service to others on a scale of 1-10. Detractors are 0-6, while Promoters are 9-10. A score over 50 is generally good, while above 70 is great.
  • Customer Retention Rate: The rate at which your customers stay with you over a specific period, which reflects the effectiveness of your loyalty-building efforts. Make sure you balance this with customer acquisition strategies.
  • Customer Lifetime Value (CLV): This is an indication of the total revenue expected from a customer over their entire relationship with a brand. It's a great way to identify more valuable customers and assess the long-term value of customer loyalty programs.
  • Repeat Purchase Rate: The proportion of customers who make repeat purchases, which indicates ongoing customer engagement and loyalty. Customers with a high RPR should be targeted when launching new products or services.
  • Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT): This provides immediate feedback on customer experience and loyalty; it's the average score given when you ask customers how happy/satisfied they were with an experience.

While this isn't an exhaustive list, tracking some (or all!) of the above metrics will put you well on your way to quantitatively understanding how your brand loyalty efforts are paying off.

Final words

We've covered a lot of ground looking at the top ways your business can foster customer loyalty without needing a points-based program.

While you don't need to implement all of these at the same time, we recommend trialing out at least a couple of these methods and seeing what sticks. Most importantly, this shouldn't be a "set it and forget it" approach. You need to stay attuned to the feedback received and stay in the know on industry best practices. This way, you'll be ahead of the curve and continually improve customer loyalty. 

If you're looking to create an omnichannel loyalty program that offers real value, Marsello has you covered.  From SMS and email marketing to loyalty and referral programs, Marsello can help you from start to finish.

Speak to an expert today.

 


 

Need help? Get advice from a loyalty expert and start driving repeat sales.

Speak to an expert

 


 

Read more: 7 Steps To Building A Profitable Loyalty & Rewards Program

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    Guide to Getting Your First Key Sales in 2022

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    In this blog, learn how to generate quality leads for your first key sales and turn new customers into life-long brand advocates.

    In retail, momentum is one of the best ways to generate your first key sales. 

    Getting momentum and customers early on not only puts money in the bank (so you can re-invest in your growth), but it gives you the motivation to keep going.

    So, how exactly can you drive your initial sales? We’ve put together 10 ideas to help you gain paying customers as you kick-off, as well as important sales KPIs and keys to building an effective sales process in your new retail biz. 

     

    Top sales KPIs to track your progress 


    Tracking sales KPIs is the only way to know if you are making progress in your retail business. The sooner you start tracking your progress, the sooner you will see trends in key metrics such as customer loyalty, churn rate, and how it costs to bring in a new customer. 

    Below are some of the best sales KPIs you should include in your analytics. 


    Customer Loyalty 


    Your loyal customers Repeat customers spend 33% more than other customers, so it is worth focusing your marketing efforts on them specifically.

    Loyalty can be measured through: 

        • Net Promoter Scores (NPS), i.e. how likely they are to recommend your brand to someone you know 
        • Customer Loyalty Index surveys 
        • Returning customer analytics
        • Loyalty programs and points redemption (customer loyalty platforms like Marsello track this for you!) 

    If you can build customer loyalty from the very first sale, they will help you build momentum as you grow. 

     

    Customer Lifetime Value 

    The Customer Lifetime Value KPI is how much your business can reasonably expect from a single customer. You can use this to identify your best customer segments and therefore where to focus your marketing budget. 

    Companies that prioritize customer experience have profits 60% higher on average than those that don’t. This emphasizes the need for ongoing customer relationships and long-term investment. Loyalty is not a once-off marketing tactic. 

     

    Customer Churn Rate 


    Another sales KPI is your Customer Churn Rate. A high churn rate indicates that although someone has signed up, they are not sticking around. It is measured by 

    For retail, KPIs that go alongside churn rates are

        • Customer loyalty and NPS scores 
        • Retention and returning customers (do customers make one purchase and never come back?) 
        • Loyalty program redemption (are customers engaged with your brand’s rewards?) 

     

    Customer Acquisition Price 


    Customer acquisition price measures how much it costs your business to bring in a new customer. The lower this number, the more efficient your marketing and sales process. 

    Ideally, you want your average purchase order per customer to be much higher than the cost of acquiring them. This is why you should focus on customer loyalty just as much as marketing. 

     

    Average Order Value 


    The Average Order Value is calculated by dividing the total revenue by the number of orders placed. Tracking average order value doesn’t just give you insight into customer behavior. It also correlates with a stronger profit margin.

    Using upsells, rewards points, and bonuses like free shipping thresholds are all ways that you can incentivize higher average order values when you start out. 

     

    Key elements for an effective sales process from the start 


    No matter what you’re selling, there are a few proven factors for success in sales. These steps integrate into any sales process, whether that is through website copy, market positioning, social media, or email marketing. 

     

    Identify customer needs clearly 


    Before you can make your first sale (or any sale), you need to know if your product serves your ideal customers. 

    This is done in the planning stage of your business. Ask questions about your product like:

        • Do you have a unique value proposition?
        • Have you done the market research? Is this something people ACTUALLY want or need?
        • Who are your competitors? What are their measures of success?
        • Why do people NEED or CRAVE your product? 
        • Have you done a test run to see if there is demand before investing everything in a product? 

    Putting in the effort to clearly identify your customers’ needs will set you up for success with your first few sales. 

     

    Build Rapport
     

    Prior to launching and getting sales, it is important to start building a rapport with potential customers. 68% of customers leave a brand because they feel like you are indifferent to them. Building rapport and community is crucial!

    One way you can create ongoing rapport with your potential customers is to build a loyalty program. Effective loyalty programs can help build hype and a sense of belonging for your customers which all contribute to more sales. 

    A good example of a loyalty program community is Our Bralette Club. They have a loyalty program that not only resulted in a 278% increase in revenue generated from program members alone but also creates a fun, inclusive community for their “Peach Party” members. 

     

    Present a solution
     

    When you boil it down, sales and business are just identifying problems and solving them for people. Whether that's showing customers how to build their spring wardrobe, selling the highest quality dog treats on the market, or helping people get into hiking by giving great boot recommendations. 

    Your marketing, visual assets, storefront, and website copy should all emphasize why your product solves their exact needs. 

     

    Close the deal 


    Once you have done your market research, started building rapport, and have a product people want, the most important step is to actually make the sale! 

    We have a few tips to help increase your chances of closing the deal:

        • Make your website as user-friendly as possible - According to a study by eMarketer, the only thing online shoppers like more than customer reward coupons is a quick and easy checkout process. 83% of shoppers marked this as their top priority for loyalty.
        • Set up abandoned cart emails- People get distracted, people change their mind mid-payment- increase your chances of making the sale by setting up automated email campaigns for abandoned carts.
        • Start collecting customer data - Set up a loyalty campaign that rewards loyal customers and gets them to sign in. This will help with retargeting and building relationships.
        • Create an omnichannel marketing campaign - omnichannel marketing campaigns allow you personalize and target specific groups to increase your chance of converting them to sales.
        • Sweeten the deal - How can you convert interested shoppers to paying customers? To make those first sales, consider sweetening the deal with rewards points for people who sign up and spend thresholds for things like free shipping.

    Create upselling opportunities 

    Businesses with higher Average Order Values have higher profit margins. That’s just simple math! Creating upselling opportunities is a great way to increase the amount a customer spends in a single transaction. 

    Examples of upselling opportunities you could try out are:

        • Free Shipping - Let customers know how close they are to a free shipping spend threshold 
        • Free Items - Give customers a free (exclusive!) gift if they spend a certain amount 
        • Loyalty Points - Set up a program that lets customers earn loyalty points and rewards for every dollar they spend which they can exchange for other products or exclusive experiences 
        • Similar Products - Give targeted recommendations for items usually brought together
        • Discount Bundles - Group together similar products and offer a limited time discount to buy multiple items.

     

    10 marketing ideas to help you get your first sales 

     

    Ready to make your first key sales and get that momentum going in your new retail business? Whether you’re selling online, in person, or both, these marketing ideas will get you started. 

     

    Start marketing before you launch your products


    Aim to build your audience even before you officially launch your business. You can do this by creating a website or social media account, and then posting high-value content that appeals to your target audience. You could also join relevant groups or forums and start connecting with their members.

    Doing so benefits you in a couple of ways. For starters, finding an audience prior to creating your product or business enables you to validate your ideas and determine if there’s a strong demand for your offerings.

    What’s more, building an audience early on paves the way for a stronger launch. If you already have an email list or existing social media followers, then you can unveil your products to an audience who already knows who you are, and are thus more likely to buy from you.

    Andrew Alexander, the owner of FindaBusinessIdea.com, put this strategy to work in his own business and has seen tremendous results.

    In 2011, I was making posts on niche forums, Facebook groups, and other niche websites [...] Three years later when I released a program of mine… I already had people who were familiar with my name and what I wrote about, so the content I put out there (before I even had a product) allowed me to get my first $1,200 in sales within the first few weeks of launching my business.

     

    2. Be clear about your Unique Value Proposition (UVP)


    One of the biggest challenges when it comes to getting your first sales is standing out in the marketplace. If your company is brand new, it can be difficult to win over shoppers, particularly if you’re selling something that people can buy elsewhere.

    An effective way to get around this is to identify your unique value proposition and then market to a specific niche that would benefit from your UVP. Doing so enables you to be more targeted with your messaging and positioning, which then allows you to cut through the noise, so you’re speaking directly to your niche.

    Jonathan Prichard, the CEO and Founder of MattressInsider.com says that finding his business' UPV and niche helped keep his business from sinking.

    “When I began my mattress company, I almost went bankrupt selling the same thing every other mattress company in America sold, which made it difficult to stick out. Luckily, I found the custom mattress size niche and was able to reposition the business before we went under,” he shared.


    Jonathan’s key advice is to showcase your UPV in compelling ways.

    “It’s a no-brainer that this is going to make you stand out from the crowd to draw people in for your initial sales. If you don’t stand out in the market you’re entering, you’re not going to get those sales that will keep you afloat, thriving and motivated.”

     

    3. Tap into your existing network

    Your current network could hold the key to unlocking more momentum in your business. If you haven’t done so yet, start reaching out to your friends, family, and existing supporters to see if they can help spread the word or send shoppers your way.

    This step doesn’t have to be complicated. As Kathleen Cutler of Bespoke Commerce notes, you can get going with just a pen and paper.

    Write down your most connected friends and family who've bought from you in the past. Email them directly to ask who they might know who'd be interested in your eCommerce shop. Follow up with the referral leads directly with highly targeted and personalized communication.

     

    4. Create an engaging storefront (both online and in-person)

     

    As a retail business, your storefront can either drive traffic and sales or send people packing. This is why it’s important to keep your window displays attractive and enticing. Here are some general guidelines to keep in mind:

        • Always have fresh merchandise and themes – See to it that your storefront keeps up with seasonal trends. Update your displays every week or two with new merchandise to give customers reasons to check out your store.
        • Keep elements at eye level – Decide on the products or elements that you want to draw attention to, and then position those key components at eye level. This ensures that people will immediately see the most important elements of your displays.
        • Avoid clutter – Overcrowded displays can cheapen the look and feel of your merchandise. Prevent that by keeping your display clean and uncluttered. The objective is to use your best products to attract customers, and encourage discovery while they’re inside your shop.

    Here's a great example of a display following the above best practices. Created by Smack Bang, the window display incorporates clear links to the brand colors and aesthetic (which match the online store) and showcases Smack Bang's outstanding pet products by cleverly displaying them at various levels. 

    They've even added links to their store and socials with window decals which is a clever way to encourage social media engagement – something they reward with their customer loyalty program.

     

    For eCommerce stores, your homepage is the online equivalent of a window display, and the same design principles apply. Be sure to showcase your seasonal products and new arrivals, and avoid cluttering up the page with unnecessary information.

    Anna Beck, a Shopify Plus-powered jewelry retailer, has mastered a well-branded, visually appealing online user experience. Their online store is always tastefully-designed with a beautiful homepage banner featuring their high-quality product photography.

    Anna Beck's online store with three ornate gold rings featured in a full-width product photo under the fold.

    With their logo at the top of the page, a simple set of navigation options, and clear but unobtrusive banners, Anna Beck's online store feels inviting and enjoyable to explore – something that's essential for 'E-tail' success.

     

    5. Collaborate with other companies

     

    Consider tapping into the audiences of other retailers and brands. Identify non-competing companies that share your target customers and see if you can team up with them. Collaboration between brands and retailers is becoming an increasingly popular strategy, particularly when it comes to eCommerce companies teaming up with physical retailers.

    Case in point: Australian women's ethical surf brand Salt Gypsy. Salt Gypsy started as an eCommerce store specializing in women's surfwear (swimwear that meets the needs of surfers). While Salt Gypsy has a bricks-and-mortar location, they've been able to grow their brand and make waves into new areas by branching out into technical surf equipment – namely, surfboards!

    Now, numerous stores in Australia and locations around the world have teamed up with Salt Gypsy to sell their merchandise – and their boards (designed specifically for female surfers) are flying off the racks! Sometimes, the Salt Gypsy team gets a chance to pop into one of these locations like they did at Byron Bay surf store, Surfection.

     

    And the Surfection team is quick to cross-promote Salt Gypsy too! It's exactly this kind of co-marketing that creates life-long customers from just one sale!

     

    6. Team up with influencers


    Research shows that 92% of consumers trust influencers more than traditional celebrity endorsements, which means that building relationships with the right individuals can pay off for your brand.

    If it makes sense for your business, start identifying social influencers who can amplify your messages. Use tools such as Peg, Reachbird, and Scrunch to find the right people and create outreach campaigns.

    You can engage influencers through a number of ways, including:

        • Free products
        • Content collaborations
        • Sponsored posts

    For best results, throw in a special offer or discount that influencers can promote to their followers. That’s what Lokus Nutrition did when they ran their influencer campaign.

    “We targeted Instagram users with audiences that matched our desired customer. We reached out to them directly and engaged an Influencer Marketing Agency to help,” explained Paul Miller, president at Lokus Nutrition. “We [then] offered a 10% discount code for our Instagram influencers to use in their posts.

     

    7. Tap into relevant groups and websites

    In addition to sending freebies or discounts to influencers, see if you can apply the same strategy when reaching out to websites and social media groups.

    According to Paul, they also reached out to Facebook groups whose members matched their target market and offered a discount for all group members.

    The Lokus Nutrition team also reached out to websites that were coming up with gift guides, and sent those sites free products to sample, review, and include in their guides.

    Consider doing something similar in your business. Identify groups, forums, or websites that are frequented by your target audience, and then explore partnership opportunities with them.

     

    8. Encourage referrals

    Create momentum and drive additional sales by encouraging your current customer base to refer your brand to their network. To streamline this process, use a referral program that makes it easy to track referrals and rewards.

    Carolina Lifestyle, a women's clothing retailer, implements this strategy quite well through their customer loyalty program. Carolina Lifestyle's referral program instantly rewards their customers with 100 loyalty points (the equivalent of $10 off in-store) for every friend who successfully makes a purchase.

    The program not only attracts new shoppers, but it lets the brand reward their existing customers, which builds goodwill and brand loyalty in the process.

    Marsello-Loyalty-Program-Case-Study-Carolina-Lifestyle-Banner

    Marsello lets you automate the referral process with instant unique URLs for different social media platforms, email, and SMS, then reward customers for successfully referring their friends who complete a purchase. 

     

    9. Consider third-party online marketplaces

     

    It’s worth considering if marketplaces like Amazon, Etsy, and eBay are good sales channels for your brand. These websites reach hundreds of millions of users daily, so with the right marketplace strategy, you can drive additional sales.

    Each website is different, but here are a few general pointers for how to succeed in online marketplaces:

      • Craft compelling listings – Make your product listings as compelling as possible by using attractive images and rich media that showcase your items from various angles. You should also craft unique and compelling copy to effectively communicate the features and benefits of your items.

      • Optimize your listings for search – You want your products to show up on relevant searches, so optimize your listings by incorporating targeted keywords in your titles and descriptions. Just remember not to overdo it! The key is to write for people, not bots.

      • Build up a strong seller reputation – Marketplaces like Amazon, Etsy, and eBay strongly favor sellers with high ratings and reviews. So, strive to build a stellar reputation by selling high-quality products at fair prices, and by providing excellent customer service.

    10. Win back lost sales


    Are shoppers leaving your website without completing their purchases? Don’t let those potential key sales slip away. Implement abandoned cart email campaigns to remind shoppers about the items left in their basket.

    Take a leaf out of OnceWas’ playbook. Whenever someone adds an item to their cart but leaves without completing the sale, OnceWas' Marsello-powered marketing triggers an automated email flow to give the customer the opportunity to finish their purchase and even throws in the added incentive of a 10% discount.


    Marsello-OnceWas-Abandoned-Cart-Email-Flow


    Automated win-back flows are just one of the many ways you can implement automation into your marketing to help you get more and more sales and scale your business. Book a demo with one of our team to learn more about marketing automation and all the other features available with Marsello. 


    Book a demo


    Final words

    Gaining your first key sales may seem daunting, especially if you’re just starting out, but it’s completely doable! With a bit of resourcefulness and creativity, you can start winning over those initial customers and obtain the momentum you need to keep going.

    Need a hand tracking sales KPIs, automating your marketing campaigns, and building engaging loyalty programs to keep those sales rolling in? Marsello is the all-in-one retail platform to help you start, grow, and scale with ease. 

     

    SEO Series Part 3: Common Mistakes SEO Mistakes for Retailers to Know

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    Solve common SEO mistakes before ever even making them with Part 3 of our SEO mini-series.

    In this article, we’ll be talking about the common mistakes online retailers make when optimizing their websites for search. Many eCommerce retailers make errors during their quest to improve their SEO without realizing it. They end up sabotaging their own efforts in small ways; small errors can build up over time to become a major barrier to their top-of-page-one aspirations.

    How to improve your retail store SEO ranking

    Fortunately, fixing these isn’t as complex as you might think; a few quick adjustments will have you on the way to a higher ranking in no time.

    Read the points below and see if you’re making these mistakes on your website:

     

    Mistake 1: Not optimizing your product URLs

    URLs might seem like a minor consideration, but they are extremely relevant to eCommerce SEO; this is because they play a significant role in how Google indexes each page of your site.

    The URLs of your product pages should help search engines to work out how the different parts of your site relate to each other. This is especially important for your broader product categories (e.g. ‘dresses’). You want these categories to rank well because this is how your potential customers can access your catalog from the search engine results page (SERP).

    Even the biggest eCommerce sites still make persistent errors in this area. See below this link from the clothing giant H&M:

     

    H&M product page url

     

    Would you be able to tell what the item was by looking at this URL? No chance. It contains no keywords, so it’s only by clicking that you’d know the item is a V-neck dress. This is exactly the kind of link you want to avoid; it looks messy and chaotic, so no one is likely to click on it.

    A messy URL also makes your site more difficult to navigate. If your customers can’t retrace their steps back to other parts of your site by reading your URLs, there’s a good chance that Google will struggle as well.

    What to do instead: focus on website hierarchy

    Your links should be offering a solid road map of your site. An optimized link would follow this structure:

    https://example.com/category/sub-category/product

    The pet care retailer Bobbie Dogs has a great URL structure – their URLs have a logical flow from the broader elements of the website (e.g., homepage, category pages, etc.) to the more specific parts (e.g., the product in question).

    As such, both Google and shoppers alike will find it easier to understand what the page is all about. Check out their URL below and note the logical mapping of data within the URL; it’s easy to follow, understand and remember.

    Bobbie dogs url
     
     

    Mistake 2: Keyword stuffing your product titles and descriptions

    In SEO, keywords make the world go round, so it’s a smart idea to incorporate them into your web copy. And since product descriptions make up a sizeable chunk of your on-site content, it makes sense for you to optimize them with the right search terms.

    Product descriptions help Google determine the relevance of your pages in response to a search query, so it’s vital that they show up on the search engine’s radar.

    But trying to write for Google instead of your customer through keyword stuffing will make your copy look stilted and awkward. Plus, the practice can really hurt your rankings because the clunky sentences make it look like you aren’t trying to be informative.

    Here is a prime example from a listing on Etsy:

     

    Keyword stuffing in an Etsy store product listing

     

    This description is very wordy and dense, using the keyword ‘top’ multiple times. It also uses far more descriptors than necessary, making it more likely to confuse customers than inform them.

    What to do instead: Sprinkle in keywords and don’t overdo it

    Use your keywords moderately and only in places where it’s natural to do so. Try putting yourself in the position of your customer when you read your copy. Is it relevant, useful and compelling? If so, that’s what will make them want to stick around – and Google, in turn, will reward your website for it.

    Check out this example from Triangl, a highly successful Australian swimsuit brand. In the following product page, you’ll notice that Triangle lightly sprinkles relevant keywords (e.g., ‘bikini’) throughout the content without going overboard.

    Triangls product listings are concise, clear, and helps to sell their products

    Mistake 3: Not having an internal linking strategy for your product pages

    What often gets overlooked in discussions about algorithms is that site ranking really boils down to usability.

    Translation: your site architecture needs to be on-point, and this is judged in part by how easy your site is to navigate. The purpose of an eCommerce site is to have customers buy products, so you need to gear your link structure to this end. There’s no point in only having navigational links to your site’s ‘about us’ and ‘contact’ pages. This won’t take your customers anywhere near the shopping cart! If your customer is looking for something specific, the links they come across in their searching need to be relevant and useful.

    What to do instead: Improve your site’s usability with the right internal links

    Internal linking really boosts your site usability. If you link between ‘similar’ product pages, whether they be companion products or products with similar features, this massively improves the user experience of your site. Keeping your customers browsing between products for longer periods sends positive ranking signals to Google, which helps you in the SEO department.

    Take this example from women's fashion store, Osmose:

     

    Osmose's product recommendations listed below their product pages

    On this page, Osmose has included a plug-in that recommends similar products to customers as they browse This aids a customer’s shopping experience because they’re able to find relevant products much easier.

     

    Mistake 4: Not optimizing your site for mobile

    Having a site that isn’t mobile-optimized may not be killing your SEO rankings just yet, but in July 2019, Google will begin using a ‘mobile-first’ indexing system – this means that your site will get judged according to its mobile-friendliness. Google’s new system replaces a previous update in 2015, which used a mix of mobile and desktop signals to dictate search results.

    So even though it currently makes no difference if the majority of your traffic still comes from ‘desktop-based’ searching, Google has basically confirmed that mobile is king. Moral of the story? If your site isn’t mobile-optimized, your ranking could be taking a hit in a few months’ time.

     

    What to do instead: Implement responsive web design

    Rather than having your mobile customers struggle with a shrunken version of your desktop site, you should install a responsive layout. Responsive Web Design (RWD) is the approach recommended by Google because it doesn’t create separate URLs for desktop and mobile, which can get confused as duplicate content (a real SEO headache). RWD instead adjusts to the layout needed for each user, whether it be mobile, tablet, or desktop.

    Google’s free mobile-friendly test allows you to analyze each page of your website by entering the URL, providing feedback on any issues.

    And here’s the good news: some of the best eCommerce platforms, including Shopify and BigCommerce, now provide responsive themes. So, it’s worth checking if you need to update to the latest version, or else switch to a custom theme.

    Mistake 5: Publishing low-quality content


    It’s easy to fall into the trap of ‘content for content’s sake’ to improve your ranking, particularly when it comes to your blog.

    Many SEO experts agree that having a blog is an important part of SEO strategy because they’re a great tool for adding more indexed pages to your site. Google’s ‘crawlers’ treat pages as individual search results that show up if they match a query. The more indexed pages you have, the more queries that your brand will get associated with. So, it’s tempting to churn out tons of short, hastily-written content each week, simply to get your indexed page count higher.

    But Google is well-aware that this strategy is used to ‘trick’ its algorithm, and the search engine penalizes websites with a high number of pages ‘thin’ content.

    What to do instead: Choose quality over quantity

    Switch to a strategy that prioritizes high-value content that engages, informs, and entertains your readers.

    In terms of the content itself, your focus needs to be less about the semantics of SEO. Being perfectly optimized for keywords isn’t what makes a blog interesting! So, what does? Content that is well-researched and contains insights that people can use or learn from.

    Check out the skincare specialist, Sigi Skin. Many of their posts are highly actionable and contain pointers that their customers can do on their own.

     

    Sigi Skin Blog
     

    Mistake 6: Not optimizing your images for SEO

    There are a number of key errors that eCommerce merchants make when it comes to images. They include:

    • Using larger-than-necessary images - It's a known fact that page speed is a ranking factor for Google. Using large images increase a page's load time, which in turn hurts your rankings.

    • Not having the right image titles and tags - Search engines crawl image file names and alt text to figure out what image is about, so by failing to optimize these components, you're missing out on giving Google valuable information about your images.

    • Using images to replace text - Some merchants use images that contain words, to avoid dealing with text formatting issues. While this may seem like a smart shortcut, it does nothing for SEO. Again, this practice prevents you from fully communicating with search engines, thereby hurting your rankings in the process.

    What to do instead: Always consider SEO when using images

    Optimize your image file names and alt-tags by using descriptive words. Let's say you're posting an image of a red party dress. Instead of naming it "IMG_0321111.jpg" use the file name "red-scoop-neck-dress.jpg".

    The same thing goes for your alt text. According to BigCommerce, in addition to serving as "an alternative when websites can't render the image for some reason," alt text "describes the image to search engines so they can understand them."

    The best thing you can do to optimize your alt text is to sprinkle in keywords that clearly communicate what the image is. Just make sure not to overdo it by keyword stuffing.

    As for your image sizes, BigCommerce recommends keeping your images under 70KB. Also opt for JPEG instead of PNG or GIF, because it “allows higher quality with a smaller file size.”

    Finally, avoid using images as a replacement for text. Remember, search engines determine your rankings primarily by crawling the text on your website, so make sure you have enough word-based content on there to give Google a clear idea of what each page is about.

     

    Creating a webpage as an image

     

    Final words


    SEO can feel like a real minefield for both new and experienced eCommerce merchants. Ultimately, though, the most important thing to keep in mind is that both you and Google have the same goal; to give your customer the best user experience possible. Focus on that and you’ll be on your way to better SEO rankings.

    Have you seen the rest of the SEO Series? Check out Part One and Two in the links below.

     

    Take me to part 1Take me to part 2

    SEO Series Part 1: Getting Started With Search Engine Optimization

    ClockIcon  READ
    From ads and influencers to podcasts and Google AdWords, we've put together several effective SEO tactics to help you get the word out about your store.

    Marsello's SEO series part 1

    As far as eCommerce marketing is concerned, merchants have a variety of choices. From Instagram ads and influencer marketing to podcasts and Google AdWords, there’s no shortage of tactics you can try if you’re looking to get the word out about your store.

     

    Despite the rise of newer and sexier marketing strategies, search engine optimization – SEO for short – continues to be one of the most effective ways to get your site out there. As Search Engine Land points out, having great visibility in search engines drives awareness and traffic to your site, benefits your brand, and builds credibility and trust.

     

    When done right, SEO can also lead to lower customer acquisition costs over the long term. Once you’ve gotten your site to rank for profitable keywords, you’ll find that people will  find your store organically without you having to actively pay for them to do so (unlike with ads).

     

    SEO is clearly an important component of eCommerce marketing. That’s why we’re excited to unveil a new article series here on the Marsello blog. Over the next few weeks, we’re going to be publishing SEO-centric posts to help take your search engine presence to the next level.

     

    To kick things off, we’re covering the basic steps you need to take to optimize your eCommerce site for search.

     

    Let’s dive in.

     

    1. Always start with keyword research

    Keyword research is one of the cornerstones of SEO. You need to identify what terms your customers are typing into search engines like Google and what terms connect with your store, then, optimize your site accordingly by adding these keywords into your core content such as the ‘about’ sections and product descriptions.

     

    There are a number of tools that can help you do this. One that easily comes to mind is Google Keyword Planner, a free solution that lets you search for relevant keywords.

     

    Here’s how it works: start by entering keywords relevant to your product. So, if you’re selling tea and tea supplies, you can type in terms like ‘tea,’ ‘teaware,’ ‘tea accessories,’ etc.

     

    From there, Google will show you each keyword’s estimated search volume and level of competition. Google will also suggest other search terms related to the keywords you entered.

     

    Google Ad Words Keyword by Relevance tool

    Note that while Google’s Keyword Planner is a solid tool, you may want to check out premium SEO software such as SEMRush and Ahrefs. These solutions can offer more granular data around search volume and provide insights into the keywords you should be targeting.

     

    Now, the best keyword strategy will vary from one site to the next, but generally speaking, you’ll need to factor in the following things when deciding which keywords to target:

     

    Search volume – You want to have a decent number of people searching for the keywords you choose to make the effort of finding and inserting them worth it. If a certain keyword only gets 0-10 searches a month, then it’s best to move on to other keywords with high search rates and close connection to your products/store.

     

    Competition – The more websites competing for a keyword, the harder it is to rank, so targeting low competition search terms will maximize your chances of landing at the first page of Google.

     

    This is where it gets challenging because the keywords with the highest search volume are typically the most competitive. You will need to do a lot of digging to uncover low competition terms with a decent search volume. Start writing a list of the keywords you’ve found and compare their search rates to their competition. Soon you’ll start finding words that fit the bill.

     

    Relevance – This may sound obvious, but determining the relevance of some search terms can be tricky, particularly if a keyword is ambiguous.

     

    For example, if you sell competition-level dart boards, you may think that ‘target’ is a great keyword. Unfortunately, Google thinks ‘target’ searchers want are looking for Target the department store.

    You also want to go for keywords that are relevant to people’s intent to buy. Let’s say you’re selling paintings or posters. Keywords like ‘free posters’ or ‘DIY wall art’ are best avoided because people searching these terms aren’t likely to spend money on ready-made art.

     

    Bottom line? When doing keyword research, put yourself in your customer’s shoes. Get into the mindset of someone who is ready to buy your products and identify the search terms that they’re entering into Google.

     

    2. Go beyond optimizing your content

    Once you find those relevant keywords, find ways to work them into your website.

    The most obvious way to do this is to spread them throughout your copy – i.e., on your homepage, about page, product descriptions, etc.

     

    But you shouldn’t stop there.

     

    Keywords should show up in a lot of other places, as well, including:

     

    Your meta titles – The meta title is an HTML code found at the header of a web page. Its purpose is to tell search engines what a page is all about. According to Moz, “title tags are the second most important on-page factor for SEO, after content.”

     

    What about your meta descriptions? Well, contrary to what some may think, meta descriptions don’t effect rankings directly. Still, it’s worth including your keywords in meta tags because Google will display them in bold on the search results page. This might lead to more clicks, which would help your rankings.

     

    Your URL – Ideally, you want the right keywords in your domain name. For example, Red Dress Boutique (RedDressBoutique.com), a fashion boutique for women, has keywords like ‘dress’ and ‘boutique’ in the domain name.

     

    That said, It’s not the end of the world if your domain name doesn’t contain top search terms. But at the very least, relevant keywords should be in your URLs.

     

    For instance, on its category page for men’s running shoes, Adidas has that exact key in its URL.

     

    Adidas' product catergories

     

    It’s also a good idea to focus on accessibility. Instead of using random characters in your URLs, customize them with keywords and make it clear what the page shows.

     

    3. Work on your product pages

    Product pages aren’t usually content heavy, but there are still a number of things you could do to set them up for SEO success.

     

    In addition to optimizing your URLs and title tags, you also want to incorporate the right keywords in your product titles, descriptions, and image tags.

     

    Internal links can also help. Take a look at how búl does their product pages for inspiration.

     
    búls product descriptions

    This page isn’t very copy-heavy, however it includes all the information that a customer could be looking for, with a hint of keyword inclusion (for example, 100% cotton; boxy mini dress, garment). With an internal link to a size chart, búl also makes sure to link their customers to another section of their site – a powerful SEO too. They follow each product listing with an 'other products you may like' section that encourages customers to keep exploring búl's website. 

     

    4. Prioritize site structure

    Google, and your customers, appreciate it when your site is easy to navigate and use, so keep your site structure simple (so long as it remains scalable).

     

    To accomplish this, make sure all your pages are just two or three clicks away from your homepage. HausLondon, an eCommerce site that sells home furniture and lighting, is a great example of this. Despite having thousands of pages, the vast majority are fewer than three clicks from their homepage.

     

    Haus's website featuring a simple and effective site structure

    5. Answer the need for speed

    Navigability helps but if your site is slow, you risk losing customers who aren’t willing to wait around.

    In general, about 40% of users will leave a site if it doesn’t load within just three seconds. That means you could lose nearly half of your potential customers simply because your site takes too long to finally appear when they click on it.

     

    Speed isn’t just about your customers, though. All the way back in 2010, Google’s Maile Ohye, reported that, “Site performance is now a factor in Google’s rankings.” She later went on to say that “Two seconds is the threshold for eCommerce website accessibility. At Google, we aim for under a half second.”

     

    Turning SEO into an ongoing priority

    Whether you already have an eCommerce store or its launch is just around the corner, it’s important to understand that optimizing your site for SEO isn’t just a one-time thing.

     

    Instead, analyzing your site for opportunities to improve its rankings should be an ongoing effort to ensure that you're continuously getting in front of the right audiences.

     

    Have you seen the rest of the SEO Series? Check out Part Two and Three in the links below.

    Take me to part 2Take me to part 3

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