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Expert Advice
For Success in Ecommerce
Our team of Ecommerce experts outline effective strategies for increasing and optimising your sales!
The UK breached the 100bn ecommerce mark in 2014, with £104 billion spent online and a 14% growth on 2013. It looks like this success will continue in 2015 as a 12% growth is expected and online sales estimated to reach £116bn by year end (IMRG). Make the most of this growth and take your share of the market by creating and implementing new, targeted, customer acquisition strategies.

To help you boost your traffic and sales, our expert advice looks at 9 customer acquisition techniques. Some of the old favourites, like email campaigns, up to the latest retargeting technology. As always our experts share their tips and tricks to boost your estore’s performance!
Keep in mind:
1. In 2014, e-merchants attributed 23% of their total sales to email marketing.
2. Retargeting is a recovery technique to trigger purchases from visitors who abandoned their shopping cart.
3. 74% of online shoppers use social networks to form an opinion before a purchase.
4. 53% of online shoppers use sponsored links to buy a product.
5. Price comparison sites and marketplaces can boost your sales by up to 50%!
6. Referral Schemes and Loyalty Programs are the web's word-of-mouth!
7. Relevant and quality content can boost your SEO and increase your mailing lists.

Acquisition : 9 solid customer acquisition strategies!

01 Marketplaces and price comparison sites: an acquisition must have
Who doesn’t dream of reaching nearly 400 million potential buyers in just a few clicks and a couple of minutes? Marketplaces account for between 30% and 40% of all online retail sales in the UK and this number is growing. “62% of comparison-site shoppers are very likely to make a purchase and spend 25% more than other online consumers.” (
As you can see, marketplaces and price comparison sites can be of massive benefit to e-merchants. Through these channels, you can sell your products and pay by either CPC (cost per click), or CPA (cost per action). You capitalise on traffic from some of the Ecommerce giants, such as Amazon, eBay or With large-scale product distribution, some etailers can expect to increase their sales by up to 50% (Amazon)! Marketplaces and price comparison sites represent an enormous acquisition opportunity.

    "Marketplaces (Amazon, Cdiscount, Price Minister or eBay) and price comparison sites (GoogleShopping and LeGuide) significantly increase our monthly sales. Being able to rapidly export our catalogue by selecting specific categories or types of articles is a valuable asset, when developing our sales through these channels. Segmenting our catalogue makes it easier to highlight the products that are better priced than those of our competitors. The tracking tool that gives us statistics on our visits and orders, means we can see, at a glance, the items that perform and those that don’t so we can adjust our offers to increase profits."
    Éric Silici - SportOutdoorShop

Traffic from price comparison sites is, by definition, high quality – visitors are there to find the best price and buy! As we’ve pointed out, however, they’re not free. A trick to maximize your ROI is to make sales suggestions for related products which should increase your average basket cost. Don’t forget to go all out on customer service, acquisition is the first part of the process, retention is the second! For more tips, read our expert advice on price comparison sites.

    "Posting my catalogue to the Le Guide price comparison site was particularly profitable for my online shop: for every euro I invested I turned over five euros and this channel now makes up 18% of my sales!"
    Jean-Pierre Montolieu - Affaire de Sac

On the logistics side of things, nothing could be easier than publishing your catalogue…thanks to the SmartFeeds feature which is integrated into the Actinic solution. With SmartFeeds, exporting all, or part of your catalogue to price comparison site’s such as, Google Product Search, Kelkoo, Twenga, Pricesavvy and Ciao, is just a click away. You can manage the process from the Actinic dashboard with full campaign tracking and statistics. At a glance, SmartFeeds let’s you see the performance of your products and maximize your ROI by enabling/disabling a product or export in a single click.

To sell your products on main marketplaces like, eBay and Amazon, MarketPlace Manager is included in your subscription. It allows you to list products, track orders and manage your inventory (in real-time) all from the Actinic back office, giving you more time to manage and market your business. Don't hesitate to read our Marketplace Boom Expert Advice for more info.
02 Mobile: break down the cyber store walls
If you are a regular Expert Advice reader, you’ll know that mobile is a development priority for all etailers. So much so, that if your website is not already mobile (testing is simple: go to your estore address with your smartphone or tablet), it’s as if you are closing your estore once a week. M-commerce accounted for 32% of all online sales in 2014, breaking this down further shows that 6% of online sales were via smartphones, while tablets were used for 26% (IMRG).
So ensure that your mobile site is easy to navigate, simple and enjoyable - and therefore optimised - for mobile visitors. With the Actinic Mobile Store feature, this is free and easy to do, with one click from the dashboard your mobile site is activated. Your customers will now have direct access to your mobile optimised catalogue, without having to download an app.

03 Google AdWords: quality traffic immediately
53% of Internet users wanting to purchase a product use Google AdWords links, and 81% of online shoppers indicate that these links match their expectations (Google). Google AdWords is one of the most iconic acquisition tools for e-merchants, allowing you to buy keywords and get your products to the top of Google search results for corresponding searches.

Here are 4 tips to guide you in your keyword purchases and help you use this acquisition strategy wisely to maximize ROI:

> Choose your sales period: to ensure good ROI, consider using AdWords during the periods in which searches are most likely to result in a buy. You already know them: Christmas, Valentine's Day, Mother's Day and Father's Day.

> Choosing your keywords: the more specific you are in choosing your keywords, the better quality traffic you’ll acquire and the more you’ll boost your conversion rate! Our Actinic experts are always on hand to help you get the most out of Google AdWords.

    "We're in a very competitive sector and our traffic dropped in 2014. We needed to put some customer acquisition strategies in place to increase our sales figures.
    Now the Actinic experts manage all our Google AdWords campaigns. In only 3 months we could see the difference. Our click through rate double, as did our conversions, our return was double what we invested!
    Jean Patrick Durand - Mercerie Durand
> Test strategies: test a variety of keywords and analyse the results using GoogleAnalytics.

> Keep an eye on your ROI: Keep your budget small to start. When you’ve tested different strategies and found the winners, then you can increase your bets!

To maximize the impact of your AdWords campaign, Actinic offers a number of packs to suit your SEO needs, all managed by certified AdWords SEO experts.
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04 Emailing and SMS: guaranteed favourites
Old school it may be but email remains an essential acquisition tool for etailers. In 2014, e-merchants attributed 23% of their total sales to email marketing (Econsultancy). Email campaigns take first place as the most effective marketing channel for generating traffic. A definite necessity when it comes to customer acquisition.

    "To keep in touch with our clients, we send out a newsletter twice a month, highlighting our new products and promotions. The impact is significant, 5 days after sending we’ve doubled our sales!"
    Emilie Desportes – Candle Store

To send emails, you need email addresses, it’s basic we know! Keep in mind that a good mailing list is not necessarily the biggest list but the one that has the best quality leads, people who are most likely to make a purchase! There are several strategies for collecting email addresses:

> Use your existing list and segment it based on customers purchase history.

    "We’ve based our marketing strategy on enriching and segmenting our customer base so we can stay in touch with our customers and prospects. Today we have more than 41,000 subscribers to our newsletter."
    Laurent Michelot - Lilifolies

> Write a White Paper: Those visitors who are interested in the subject will be willing to give you their addresses in order to download the paper.

> Organise a competition: Participents will need to leave their address for winning updates.

To increase your mailing list, take the offensive: there are plenty of providers that will rent (or sell) you new contacts, from a few pence per email address, based on target audience and the quality of the list.
Top Tip: Always perform a test on a small part of the list to judge it’s quality; ‘freshness’ (the more recent, ‘fresh,’ a list is the greater the chance of the campaign being a success) but also and especially, that the target audience is right.
Promotion codes (voucher codes, discount codes) are a great way to either, revive an existing mailing list or be used purely as an acquisition tactic. Everybody loves a bargain and promo codes create a sense of urgency and some extra purchase motivation. Promo codes have a great impact on the average basket cost too! ICM research for a digital marketing agency showed that four out of five UK adults have saved money by applying at least one voucher within the past year (and some ‘addicts’ claims to have used 50+). Women are more likely to use discount vouchers and codes than men (18 per year vs. 15), yet men believe they’re more savvy than women when it comes to getting a good deal online (44% vs 40%).

Setting up your mailing list is only part of the job. A successful campaign also needs to optimise emails sent. Here are some basic starting points for success:

> Mobile Optimization: 47% of emails are opened on smartphones (SmartInsights) and 79% of people use their smartphone for reading email, a higher percentage than those who used it for making calls (Adobe Digital Publishing Report)! It’s vital to send tests to guarantee your emails are readable on all devices.

> Personalisation: Personalised emails have 4 times the open rate. Send named emails, targeting your offers geographically or by theme is also a good technique. Re-read our email tips here..

> Test and retest : You won’t find the magic formula in your first campaign. You need to try out different strategies and above all, analyse their results. Campaign statistics are essential; EmailVision, is integrated into the Actinic solution and allows you to optimise your campaigns by providing highly detailed analytics and ensuring great email deliverability.

    "The email features are extremely rich, it’s easy to create emails, send them to the desired target and anaylse the results. No other solution incorporates such a comprehensive feature.."
    Laurent Michelot - Lilifolies (culture, loisirs)

A final word on SMS, the only marketing tool that knocks email of its throne! The SMS open rate is around 98%! Although an amazing tool, use it sparingly, it can be seen as very intrusive. Use it when you have a really great offer that can’t be passed up.

    "Every month, we carry out several SMS campaigns. Our open rates are consistently above 90% and our turnover doubles a few days after sending."
    Olivier Leclerq - Alliance Paintball
05 SEO: a long-term strategy with sustainable return
SEO (Search Engine Optimisation SEO) is the ‘natural’ ranking of your site pages in Google. In the long term, It’s a fundamental necessity and stops you putting all your eggs in one basket and only investing in AdWords paid search through . SEO is a long term investment with sustainable return!

Here are some tips that will give you more of chance to reach the 89% of users that search with Google in the UK (Statista).

> The basics
The structure of the pages must be clear and consistent, this helps the Google algorithms navigate and pick up the key information. In the same way that you select your AdWords keywords, tags should be chosen carefully and keep in line with the name and the content of the page. Be careful not to "over-optimise" which is penalised by Google!

> The importance of content
Google is increasingly able to assess the quality of content on a website. Therefore, you need to pay particular attention to the content of your site pages; detailed product information, good image resolution, don’t cram your text with keywords unnecessarily, etc. Actinic lets you automatically create “rich snippets” which show enriched results in a Google search (customer reviews, product prices, availability etc). Ideal for inspiring users to click!

>The importance of social networks
Google takes into account the popularity of your content on social networks when ranking your pages. Encourage sharing of your product pages by having a dynamic social media presence!

06 Retargeting : A growing trend
Retargeting is one of the most powerful marketing innovations of recent years. It provides a way to reconnect with cart abandoners, those customers who are about to buy but never click, “Confirm Order!" When you know that 67% of carts are abandoned and if only 5% more carts were converted that would be an increase of 20% in turnover, you can understand why retargeting is becoming an E-merchant must have!

If you are already using Adwords then add the 'remarketing tag,' a small snippet of code that you get from Google, to your site pages. This simple form of retargeting will display banner ads to previous site visitors. For a more powerful form of retargeting, Dynamic retargeting, which displays your products on third party sites, we charge a small installation fee. very small, when you consider the marketing power of this feature and the cost of other retargeting platforms. If you need help adding the 'remarketing tag,' or to find out more about dynamic retargeting, don’t hesitate to get touch with our experts who are always on hand to assist and advise.
07 Referral Schemes and Loyalty Programs: word-of-web-mouth
One of the best ways to promote your estore is to rely on your customers satisfaction to spread the word, that’s to say the word-of-mouth effect! For the web and ecommerce version, there are two word-of-mouth options: referral and loyalty.

By starting a referral scheme, you let your customers and their chosen friends and family benefit from exclusive offers. The ‘referer’ is encouraged to bring the maximum number of customers into the fold to reap the discount benefits!

Loyalty programs award your customers points based on their order amount or per order. These point can then be redeemed for discounts when purchasing on your site. Actinic provides all the necessary tools to quickly set up a referral scheme or loyalty program, so don’t wait to get going!
08 Social Networks: a strategy that pays off
Social networks have become an indispensable means of acquiring traffic. 74% of Internet users use them to form an opinion about a product before buying. Among the many, Facebook is particularly good game with over 31 million active users. Your estore needs to be present on this platform to keep up with the in-crowd, especially as the acquisition opportunities are numerous:

> Targeted campaigns: thanks to the huge amount of data collected from its members, Facebook creates highly targeted advertising campaigns providing quality traffic.
> Games and competitions: Facebook is the ideal platform for organising competitions. These are a great way to add email addresses to your mailing. Once you have a few hundred fans, start the ball rolling!
To maximize your presence on Facebook, Actinic has developed My Social Store that allows you to publish your catalogue in just one click. An essential tool to boost your performance on the platform!

    "We recently created our Facebook page and using the Actinic Social Store app we were able to publish our entire product catalogue. We also use Twitter and our blog to share customer reviews, new arrivals and sales. This way we’re able to stay in constant contact with our customers and followers. With this strategy traffic to our site increased by 30% in a year, with over 750,000 page views in 2013.."
    Jean-Philippe Thoër - Ballkit

09 Web Content: Underutilised Influence
Creating content is a great way to promote your offers across the web and boost your turnover. Content being; blog articles, newsletters, videos and white papers that demonstrate your expertise in an area or which provide products use tips. Content has many advantages for your estore:

> SEO : quality content gives better Google rankings. You’ll have more chance of a visitor landing on your product pages. We’ll tell you time and time again: product pages are critical, consider adding to your keywords and work on your titles. Enrich your image content, and add videos which are becoming more and more popular.

> Social media : to ensure an active presence and to stay relevant on social networks, you need to update your content regularly. The better the quality of your content, the more it’ll be shared, which will be good for your Google SEO and brand reputation.

> Email addresses: Ask site visitor to fill in their email addresses, to download premium content - a white paper for example. This will allow you to expand your mailing list!
Don’t wait to start writing your blog to show off your expertise and share your passion with your customers, the blog feature is already integrated into the Actinic solution. Also, encourage feedback by asking questions at the end of your articles: to write comments and follow the discussion thread, users leave their email address. This will increase the number of contacts interested in your products.

Sadly, there’s no magic recipe for acquisition! The key to success lies in tracking statistics, to find out which channels work best for you. They may vary depending on the products you sell and your target audience.
Finally, reaching a wider audience and acquiring new customers is an important goal, but you can’t stop there, the next stage is customer retention!