What are advanced marketing features I need to have the optimal advantage against my competitors?
When your online store is in a highly competitive market, it is important for you to have enough marketing features to stand out and make a difference.
Important marketing features for online merchants
The most important features are:
- Google Analytics, Google Webmaster Tools and Google AdWords integration
- Google Tag Manager integration
- Integration of A/B test software
- Links to comparison sites
- Advanced newsletter options
SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is the optimization of your website for search engines. There are various ways in which ecommerce software can contribute here.
Here is an overview of the main characteristics your system should contain:
- The ability to set page titles yourself
- An optimal URL structure: 1. Few directories (for example, NOT: onlinestore.com/store/products/clothing/coats/xs-434/grant-coat-brown/) 2. As few URL parameters as possible (unreadable text in your URL)
- The most important keywords should be able to be implemented in your URL
- The ability for you to choose from multiple headings (H1, H2, H3, etc.) on every page
- The ability to set alt-text for images
- Pages that do not/no longer exist should guide visitors with a 301-redirect to the page that is the best replacement. Preferably you want to be able to set the 301-redirects yourself
- Have as much control as you can over the content on all pages
Google Analytics and Google AdWords integration
Google Analytics is, without a doubt, one of the most important marketing tools for online store merchants. This allows you to analyze your visitor statistics and then use this information to allocate marketing budgets for various traffic channels. In addition, you can use Google Analytics to segment your visitors and to set remarketing segments for your specific targeting objectives.
The ecommerce software needs to have Google Analytics integrated. This is the case if you can add the Google Analytics code yourself to your website, but it is better if the software automatically includes a secure connection to Google Analytics (a so-called OAuth connection).
If your website has a Google Analytics integration, you will also have access to Google Webmaster Tools.
AdWords integration is essential if you want to advertise in Google. This is possible if the software allows you to place the code yourself or if the code is placed via the software.
Google Tag Manager integration
With Google Tag Manager (GTM) it is relatively simple to add various tags to your website code without the help of a developer (or the ecommerce software provider).
A GTM integration is nearly always possible with most open source software. SaaS solutions usually do not support it because GTM makes it possible to manipulate the website’s html code. This makes it difficult for the SaaS provider to guarantee that their system will function properly.
Integration of A/B Test Software
Using A/B test software you can measure which content creates more conversions. Conversions can be orders, but they can also be sign-ups for your newsletter, clicks on your website’s pages, etc. Simply put, the software makes sure that different groups of visitors see different content and it compares the results.
Google Analytics includes A/B test functionality. Other well-known A/B test tools with more extensive options are Optimizely and Visual Website Optimizer. Some code needs to be added to your website if you want to use A/B test software. The ecommerce software needs to support this.
Links to Comparison Sites
There are different comparison sites on the internet. On these sites, products from dozens or hundreds of websites are offered. The most well-known comparison site is Google Shopping. In addition, every country has its own comparison sites, such as Check24.de in Germany, Pricerunner in the UK and Beslist.nl in the Netherlands.
In order to advertise here, you need to have a so-called product feed. This is a file that contains all the information regarding the products you want to advertise. There are two ways of going about this:
- The online store has an automatic feed generator which links product information from your store to the required fields in the feed.
- You use third party tools to crawl your website in order to gain the product information.
Option 1 is definitely the best. The advantages are that the feed can be made with relative ease, the information is always up to date, and there are no extra costs to spend on a web crawler.
Advanced Newsletter Options
The newsletter is probably an online store’s most important marketing instrument. It is a vital method to connect with your customers and persuade them to buy.
Here are some options you should keep in mind:
- Responsive email: the email is optimally displayed on a desktops, tablets and mobile phones
- Newsletter templates
- Extensive newsletter editor: for example: drop and drag features for defined content sections, etc.
- Segmented newsletter content: adjust emails to a specific customer segment or an individual
- Automated emails: emails are automatically sent following a certain trigger
- Email A/B testing: compare the impact of different emails
- Extensive statistic: link tracking, open-ratio, country-map, etc.
Again, the first question is whether the ecommerce software supports sending newsletters. This is usually the case. Because a good newsletter tool is so extensive and complex that it is virtually impossible to include everything in a single, existing software package, external newsletter solutions are often used.