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Technology for Business: Ecommerce Marketers Aren’t Measuring Fundamentals

By Brent Leary

Most marketers today know the importance of content marketing and inbound marketing — a term made popular by marketing platform HubSpot. But when it comes to tying inbound marketing to ecommerce, Sam Mallikarjunan, head of ecommerce marketing for HubSpot, says most small businesses are not doing enough. Below are some great takeaways from my recent conversation with Mallikarjunan that should help your ecommerce marketing efforts.

How do you think small ecommerce operators are doing in the areas of conversion and optimization and testing?

Ecommerce marketers have been lulled into a false sense of security by our own success. Most ecommerce marketers have sales that are growing just because ecommerce itself is a good idea. Sales are growing 20 percent year over year through the industry as a whole just because ecommerce is a good idea where people are buying stuff online and that leads to more sales.

What ecommerce hasn’t done is innovate in the areas of inbound marketing. It’s still very heavily focused on things like pay per click and on-page SEO, and they under-invest in things like testing, optimization, lifecycle marketing and lifecycle management for the customers.

The State of Ecommerce Marketing report from HubSpot found 60 percent of ecommerce marketers aren’t even measuring something as fundamental as their abandoned cart nurturing rate. That’s one of the easiest wins. If you have 50 percent of your carts that are being abandoned and you can recover 10 percent of those, that’s a 5 percent increase in sales just by sending people a couple of emails.

The importance of landing page optimization and conversion rates.

When you’re doing A/B testing, particularly when you have limited resources, the key is to focus on variables that are the most disruptive or have the most leverage. For example, A/B testing emails; how do I improve the engagement and click through rates of my email either by sending less and making them more targeted, or by improving the experience of the emails?

In terms of landing page and product detail page design, most product detail pages have a terrible “add to cart” button. It’s gray, it blends in with the background, [and] it’s very small. We’ve had customers before who, all they did was A/B test the “add to cart” button and they improved the conversion rate of the product detail page by 1,500 percent, which is a huge amount.

Most ecommerce stores don’t approach their shopping cart as the selling tool that it really is. You generate a lead, you shoot that lead over to a real life human being, that real life human being asks qualifying questions and customizes the sales messaging and positioning to the customer in order to get the sales. That’s why sales reps have a pretty good win rate.

For an ecommerce company, you have one sales rep and it’s the shopping cart, and it has to sell to sometimes hundreds of thousands or tens of thousands of customers a month.

Are there any easy, quick-fix things small ecommerce operators could concentrate on to get a quick, substantial win?

Ecommerce companies need to stop thinking in terms of transaction and average order value alone, and to start thinking in terms of customer acquisition and customer lifetime value. It seems like a semantic distinction but it changes how you approach everything. It changes the focus that you have on post-transactional nurturing; it changes what kinds of customers you go after.

People also need to attack the research phase of the buying cycle. Amazon has a hard time having a blog about running a home office. That’s something that an individual retailer, who has maybe 1,000 SKUs or 5,000 SKUs focus around a single type of customer can do a great job at. You can be an excellent resource in attracting, educating, converting and engaging with those types of people in a way that the big box retailers won’t be able to.

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