A digital MOT – how to ensure your ecommerce brand is ready to bounce back after COVID-19
As the UK prepares to enter another week of lockdown in response to the coronavirus pandemic, it can be hard to focus on the future instead of the situation at hand. We’ve seen many brands press pause on their activities as they prepare to weather the economic storm.
During this time of uncertainty, however, it’s equally important for ecommerce businesses to prepare for what comes afterwards: the bounce back. Here’s 8 ways to optimise your brand assets and prepare for the world’s return to the new version of normal.
Optimise your website
Although we all know the value of investing time into your website, in the busy blur of a usual working week finding the time to improve your site can fall very low on a list of priorities. But in the current climate, you may find you have the resource to optimise and give your ecommerce store the MOT it deserves.
- Although a website requires optimisation constantly, here are some key activities to complete that will make all the difference, including, but not limited to:
- Optimise your website content to improve your SEO; this can include creating a backlog of blog posts and conducting some all-important keyword research to understand what and how your customers are searching.
- Work to improve your website load speed. https://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/insights/ is a free tool with recommendations
- Review your customer journey and user experience.
- Optimise your product pages (combine with keyword research to ensure your descriptions are accurate and keyword-rich).
Analyse your data; from your conversion rate, to user drop out, to which products are most popular and secure you the highest level of revenue, and ultimately, profit.
By analysing your historical data, you will identify what to learn from it and apply this knowledge to website optimisation techniques and your overall ecommerce strategy for the future. Utilising this time to invest into your website will ensure that once business picks up, and a sense of ‘normality’ resumes, your website is all set to maximise your conversions.
Optimise your affiliate program
In addition to optimising your overall ecommerce store, it is vitally important to take stock of where your affiliate program is currently. You will then identify any opportunities to fine tune this, allowing you to build a platform for future growth and success. There are several key questions you should ask yourself, including:
- Are you happy with the quality of affiliates you are currently working with?
- Are you happy with the quantity of affiliates you are currently working with?
- What more can you offer to your affiliates?
- What more can your affiliates offer you?
- Are you paying your affiliates fairly? (i.e. upper funnel content affiliates being rewarded for their contribution to the sale, as opposed to only paying out to last-click affiliates)
The above answers will provide a solid foundation for growing your program further. As affiliate programs grow, it’s very common to find that partners recruited in the past may now not be of the quality you would like to associate your brand with. Many affiliate agencies will simply take a ‘quantity over quality’ approach to recruitment, which may look great on paper due to hundreds of affiliates on board.
However, this approach is outdated, and not how Silverbean approaches our retailers’ programs. It’s important to ensure the quality of your affiliates is of a high standard, compliments your brand, and most importantly, drives incremental revenue.
Use the current period to assess who is advertising your brand, in addition to where they are portraying your brand image. This is crucial to ensuring your affiliate program is in as healthy a position as possible and will be ready to bounce back post-coronavirus.
Plan your promotional calendar
The promotional calendar you had planned for the start of 2020 may now seem like a daydream, but the unexpected scenario we find ourselves in requires us to be creative and resilient!
Plan your promotion calendar ahead of time so you’re ready to hit the ground running. Plan for a ‘launch’ campaign to give potential customers an additional incentive to convert. Make sure to prepare for multiple scenarios so you’re not caught off guard should the market move quicker or slower than expected.
For brands with an international customer base, be receptive to changes in the international market. Be prepared for your promotional plans to come into action as and when restrictions are loosened in different regions. This level of responsive marketing means you’ll be able to boost your sales at the first given opportunity.
Confirm your channel budgets
By the time we begin to move away and bounce back from the current pandemic, Q3 will be upon us – and we all know how fast Q4 creeps around. The landscape for retailers during these key periods will be more competitive than ever due to brands making up for lost time. It is business-critical to confirm a budget that can be used for search and social ads, tenancy placements and any additional exposure.
Many affiliates will be utilising the current down time to fine tune their offerings for their brands, and will be taking this time to determine their pricing lists and compiling their H2 / Q3&4 media packs. Getting your eyes on these as early as possible will enable you to remain a step ahead of your competitors when booking in key tenancy placements. Additionally, knowing your allocated affiliate channel budget will enable snap decisions to be made and will put you in a very strong position when negotiating exposure with your affiliates.
Put your customers first
Throughout this current pandemic, businesses are not the only ones suffering – potential customers are too. A loss of income, either through redundancy or temporary furlough, will be having a direct impact on customers’ finances and as such, their disposable income for things other than necessities.
Ensure your product pricing and overall customer experience is as attractive and rewarding to potential customers as possible, as this will be a key aspect of securing sales once normality resumes.
It is vitally important to not take custom for granted. Customers who had previously shown loyalty to your brand may have been adversely affected by the current climate and as such, may choose to shop around for their products in future. Treating these customers with as much TLC as possible will be critical to enticing them to shop with your brand in future.
Don’t have a loyalty program? It’s time to strongly consider one.
Build your online presence
You may see lower sales figures compared to previous months, but that doesn’t mean you should slow down your usual online and social activity. If anything, now is a critical time to invest in building your presence as a brand, widening your reach and increasing your brand awareness.
The public are more engaged online than ever, so shout about what makes you a great business and make people aware of your outstanding products and services.
Think of it this way – increasing your brand awareness now is sowing the seeds of success you will reap as a business in the future.
Research your market
Knowing your sector like the back of your hand is key to your success as a business in such a competitive market. Dive into some comprehensive market research and enhance your knowledge of your sector and any related trends in the industry to stay ahead of the game, and subsequently your competition.
Identify who your competitors are and explore what you can learn from them. Identify what they are doing well, and what they don’t do so well, and plan accordingly. How can you push your brand one step ahead? It’s also key to refine your customer persona, and knowing your target audience is key, so being able to really narrow them down will support future marketing strategy.
Admin, admin, admin
When things are busy and revenue is being generated, it can be hard to make time for admin work. But it’s this work that enables a program to function like a well-oiled machine.
Take this time to give some TLC to the things that sometimes may be overlooked in favour of tasks that are deemed more ‘fun’, including:
- Programme T&Cs – are these up to date, or outdated? Are you now happy to work with affiliate sectors that you perhaps stated ‘no’ to in your initial T&Cs?
- Are all of your advertised commission rates correct?
- Are all of your tracking links working correctly?
- Are your contact details up to date for any inbound affiliate queries?
The above are often overlooked, but are vitally important in ensuring your program can run as smoothly and successfully as possible.
With the world in crisis, it can be hard to discern the best action to take to protect your business. For ecommerce brands, now is the time to prepare for the future and ensure your brand is well-equipped to negotiate the market when we come out the other side.
Looking for support in optimising your program, building your brand and preparing for the bounce back? Get in touch to speak to a member of our team and find out how we can amplify your bounce back efforts.