by Jackie Burke
So you’re thinking about launching an e-commerce site? That’s great! Now, where to start?
There is so much information available for launching a business. The excess information makes it so difficult to know what to pay attention to. It also makes it hard to focus your energy on individual tasks. It can feel like you have to do a hundred different things to be successful. The truth is, you really should be focusing all of your energy on just a couple things when launching your site.
I launched my site, Tini Lux, in late 2017. Tini Lux is an DTC brand specializing in hypoallergenic earrings. My background is in systems engineering, so launching an e-commerce jewelry site was not in my wheel house. I had to learn a lot in a short amount of time. I was overwhelmed by information and gave myself a to-do list of about 50 different things. It was really difficult to gain traction on my site when I was spreading myself so thin and not properly prioritizing my efforts.
My business really started to grow about 8 months in when I started to focus my efforts on just a few things. Here is my simple formula for launching a successful e-commerce site. It is really important to follow these steps in order. If you already have an e-commerce site and things aren’t going well, start at the beginning of this list! Nail each step before moving onto the next one.
These are my four steps and focus areas for launching a successful e-commerce site:
- Optimize your website. Your website needs to be ready to convert. It needs to be easy to use, nice to look at, have a clear message and branding, and have all of the information available that someone might be asking themselves as they shop. I have broken this down into four subtasks:
- Message/Story: Your story is the most important part of your business. This is what will draw people in and convince them to buy from you instead of someone else. Your customer needs to see themselves in your story. You will do much better if you tell them how your business or product will benefit them rather than what the features of your business are. Your story needs to be easy to see or find on your website. The mission of your business should also be clear and should be featured prominently on your site.
- Branding: Your website should be clearly branded. You need consistent colors and fonts, a nice logo, and a consistent voice in all of your content and wording.
- Images: This one is especially important if you a product based company. People need to see what they are purchasing. It is worth it (I would even say absolutely necessary) to spend the money for professional product shots. Your customers also want to see the items in use and imagine themselves with your product, so lifestyle photos are very important. Your photos need to be high resolution, high quality, and have a consistent look or aesthetic.
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO): I suggest doing so more research into SEO when you get to this step because there is really good information out there. I will sum it up to say that you should optimize all the portions of your website that you can. Include your relevant keywords where ever possible, in your messaging, copy, alt tags, meta data etc. Some parts of your website need to be optimized for humans to read and some for algorithms to read. Know the difference and tailor them accordingly.
- Call to Action (CTA): It should be obvious that you want people to make purchases. CTAs like “buy now” or “add to cart” should be clear. Make sure your CTA is visible and the checkout process is simple and painless.
- Emails: Make sure your website is set up to capture emails or ask visitors to subscribe. Your email list is one of the most valuable parts of your business. If someone is signing up to receive emails from you then they have already shown interest in your product. Set up an automatically generated welcome email, or series of emails, to give your subscribers more information about your brand. Send regular emails to your subscriber list to keep your brand in their mind.
- Content: Producing content for your website is very time consuming and is an ongoing effort. Before you launch you should be sure to have some content available on your site to educate your visitors and keep them interested. Your content is where you can continue your SEO efforts by adding keywords that are relevant to your brand.
- Ads: Finally, you can start running ads. Ads can be very expensive, especially if your website is not up to par. That is why you need to go through all the other steps before your start spending money on advertising. At this point your website is ready to convert and you are set up to capture emails and keep your visitors interested. Now you can start running ads and driving traffic to your site.
There is no magic formula or shortcut to having a successful business. All of these steps will take time, effort, and money. It is really important to go through them in order and be patient. Good luck!