by Jennifer Lonoff Schiff

5 New Year’s resolutions for small ecommerce businesses

Dec 30, 2016
E-commerce SoftwareInternetIT Governance

Small online business owners and ecommerce pros share their digital to-dos for 2017.

ecommerce resolutions 2017
Credit: Thinkstock

The beginning of the new year is a great time for the owners of small ecommerce businesses to take stock and note all they have accomplished the past 12 months. It’s also a great time to think about and set down in writing what they would like to accomplish in the next 6 to 12 months.

[ Related: 8 keys to ecommerce success ]

While most (if not all) proprietors of ecommerce businesses probably have “make more money” and/or “grow the business” on their to-do lists, we wanted to get more specific. Here are their top five digital resolutions.

[ Related: 5 digital retail trends that will be big in 2017 ]

1. Increase mobile conversion rates

“Our number 1 New Year’s resolution is to be even more mobile-phone friendly,” says Antonia Townsend, founder & chief knicker officer, Enclosed, a high-end lingerie subscription service. “Since we launched three years ago, traffic has shifted from a majority on desktop to a majority on mobile phones and tablets. Therefore, our number one goal is to get our mobile conversion rate up to that of our desktop.”

Boosting mobile conversion “is a stretch goal as mobile conversion rates remain lower than desktop in ecommerce,” she explains. “But it is worth shooting for. Moreover, as a high-priced luxury service (our prices run from $55 to over $500) many people will continue to prefer to checkout on [a] desktop [computer or laptop] for larger ticket items, but we need to make the mobile experience as seamless and easy as possible.”

2. Improve email marketing

The beginning of the New Year is the perfect time to review your email marketing strategy – and purge and segment your email marketing lists. Reviewing your email lists is important as it can help you see who is actually responding to your email campaigns and who isn’t. You can then delete subscribers who haven’t engaged in over a year (or less), which will help your business, or domain, maintain a healthy online reputation.

[ Related: 14 email marketing mistakes to avoid ]

Once you’ve scrubbed your email list(s), resolve to “avoid sending ‘batch and blast’ newsletters and try to segment your audience using information you know about [subscribers],” says Adii Pienaar, founder & CEO, Conversio, an ecommerce marketing dashboard.Good ways to segment your email list include by gender, age, geography and/or past purchases for B2C – and by industry, position, past purchases and/or sales cycle for B2B.

“Sending relevant and targeted emails will help you to maintain long-term subscriber engagement,” he explains. “People are most engaged with a brand in the first 60 days, after which there can be a huge drop off if you don’t keep them wanting more.” By segmenting and personalizing email, you can increase the chances of “your customers opening, clicking and, of course, purchasing.”

3. Retarget customers who abandoned their shopping carts

“Our first goal for 2017 is to implement a better return path for visitors to our online store who did not complete their first purchase,” says Darrius Glover, founder & CEO, Wool Fresh. “During 2016, our average bounce rate was 60 percent, which means out of 100 people only 40 visitors took the next action of visiting other pages on our site. To fix this problem, we are going to set up a simple re-marketing campaign to ask visitors who left abruptly to come back and learn more about our products (we sell socks you can wear 30 days straight with no smell),” he says. “We can achieve this easily with a $5 a day Facebook campaign aimed at visitors who only visited our homepage. With this approach, we hope to decrease our bounce rate to 50 percent by the second quarter of 2017.”

4. Explore new online marketing/advertising channels

“Facebook is a great platform to help promote your products and services, but you must not forget about other channels your audience spends time on,” says Glover. “Since a lot of our buyers are women, Pinterest is a great medium to share more about how our socks can help them live better.

[ Related: 9 big small business social media no-nos ]

“During a test campaign in 2016, we achieved a relatively low cost-per-click of $0.23 for targeted traffic geared towards women’s running shoes,” he explains. “In 2017, we will double down on our efforts and increase our spending to maximize the cheap traffic we can move from Pinterest over onto our site. In 2017, our goal is to use Pinterest and Facebook traffic (50/50 split) to attract a new audience for our products.”

Similarly, many small business owners say they plan on using Instagram and Snapchat to gain followers and potential customers in 2017.

5. Improve customer service

“Online shoppers can’t try on, handle or otherwise test a product before buying it, so they can’t always be 100 percent certain that they’ll be happy with an order until it arrives on their doorsteps,” explains Tom Caporaso, CEO, Clarus Commerce. “Excellent service, though, will help reverse any negative experiences your customers might have — and/or ease their concerns even before they place orders. It will also boost your bottom line.”

[ Related: 10 ways multichannel companies can build trust with customers ]

Indeed, according to Microsoft, “66 percent of consumers say they’ll spend more with companies that offer great customer service,” he says. “These days, that can (and should) involve [using] a variety of communications channels, from live chat on your website to email, text and more. The more helpful [you are to] customers, the better your chances are to build loyalty with them.”