Interviews

How To Make Your Products Shine Online

From content marketing to social media, there are plenty of channels for drawing traffic to your website. We asked Marc Schillaci, CEO of ecommerce platform Actinic, for the latest ways to attract more eyeballs.

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From content marketing to social media, there are plenty of channels for drawing traffic to your website. We asked Marc Schillaci, CEO of ecommerce platform Actinic, for the latest ways to attract more eyeballs.

Interviews

How To Make Your Products Shine Online

From content marketing to social media, there are plenty of channels for drawing traffic to your website. We asked Marc Schillaci, CEO of ecommerce platform Actinic, for the latest ways to attract more eyeballs.

Share this article

How To Make Your Products Shine Online

Actinic produces websites for thousands of retailers around the world, so it knows a thing or two about creating great websites that generate serious interest in customers' product lines. CEO Marc Schillaci tells us how to blend SEO, social media and content marketing for the best results.

Explain Actinic to us

My business, Actinic, is a cloud based (SaaS) ecommerce solution, with over 10,500 active websites across Europe. Our clients, collectively, are taking around 12,000 orders a day, across 21 sectors, which averages out to an order every 3 seconds.

We’re part of the Oxatis group, ecommerce experts, who have innovation in our DNA, and want our clients to have access to the best features available.

This is where the advantages of SaaS come in; we can add features without our clients needing to install or update anything, our websites load 25% faster than the market average and we have a 99.9% up-time for websites even during traffic spikes.

"People often leave SEO too late, it takes time to get a good traffic flow"

One of our other main selling points is our graphic studio, they’ve created a fantastic range of templates and our drag and drop editor, SmartSkins, enables our clients to fine tune their website design to best suit their needs.

Our support team are also one of the keys to our success, as we have a great team of experts that answer questions, offer training sessions, create bespoke designs and who can advise on ecommerce best practices.

What are the core principles of a great website?

There’s much debate about where to focus your energy when it comes to creating an online store – is it the homepage, product pages, checkout, security or the SEO? It comes down to user-centred design, which encompasses all of the aforementioned.

In order to attract visitors, a website needs detailed product pages which are optimised for SEO and use the same keywords that people will type into search engines. Once on your website, visitors need to be presented with key information and be able to easily navigate and search through the website.

Ensure your website has great content, quality images and a structure that focuses the visitor on the main goal; purchases. Trust and credibility also need to be reinforced, trust elements such as contact details, secure payment options and customer reviews, all reassure website visitors in order to encourage them to make purchases.

A good balance of website structure, content, design and a multichannel strategy will set you in good stead for a winning ecommerce website.

What do you often see people get wrong when it comes to ecommerce?

Ecommerce is a business like any other so those that haven’t planned and researched well or don’t have a business plan or goals, can run into problems later down the line, unreliable suppliers, no marketing strategy and so forth.

In terms of website, we receive a number of migration requests from people who haven’t chosen the right platform for their needs; underdeveloped websites, websites that need technical skills the user doesn’t have, poor website architecture, websites that go down when being updated and so on!

In regards to building the website, people often leave SEO too late, it takes time to get a good traffic flow, optimising a website right from the start is important.

Multi-channel visibility is also key. Finally, people need to look at their website from a visitors’ viewpoint; are the products well showcased, is the website easy to navigate, etc. Put some time and research into setting up your estore, follow best practices and you’ll be on the road to ecommerce success before you know it.

What's the latest in SEO and how should retailers react?

The latest change, dubbed, ‘Mobilegeddon’ came out last month. Google have changed their mobile-search algorithm to prioritise websites that are ‘mobile-friendly.’ Mobile traffic is creeping up to almost 50% of overall traffic for some websites, so it is a good change for consumers.

The most common issue for ‘unfriendly’ mobile websites are; text that is too small to read without zooming, links too close together so you can’t click on them, content that’s wider than the screen, so you have to scroll horizontally and websites that use software that isn’t compatible with certain mobile browsers, for instance the use of Flash.

You can check your website, for free, on Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test to make sure your website is up to scratch and not going to slip down the rankings because of these algorithm changes.

What is your best SEO tip generally?

Start optimising your website as soon as you create it. The sooner you start this process the better, when entering product details, titles, tags, etc, do it all with SEO in mind so you don’t create more work by having to go back over them later down the line.

Research keywords well, make sure they are relevant and integrate them naturally and logically throughout your website. The aim of optimisation is to facilitate the search engines’ work by providing the relevant information, in the right place and in the right format.

What features do consumers increasingly expect from websites:

a)   In terms of the technical construct of the website

User experience is king and consumers have little patience for websites that aren’t well structured. People are used to the format that  ecommerce leaders use, so if your website appears more complicated, is difficult to navigate or search, consumers won’t hang around trying to figure it out they’ll head to a more user friendly website. Faceted search and a search bar are crucial features for facilitating search.

Of course, making sure websites are mobile optimised, with so much shopping done on-the-go, consumers expect to be able to access your website from their smartphones and tablets.

Consumers also want to see customer reviews, links to social media, secure payment guarantees and contact details – these trust elements go a long way to reassuring consumers that you’re a credible and reliable online company to buy from.

b)   In terms of the delivery and/or after care?

The current rate for cart abandonment is 68%, and the number 1 reason is; unexpected shipping costs. A shipping fee estimation tools is not only great for the consumer but keeps etailers happy too as they see their conversion rate improving!

Offering customers a variety of delivery options is also important, people’s lives are getting busier so giving them the option of click-and-collect, being delivered at work, home or even in their local café is a definite advantage.

Last Christmas saw a notable rise in the number of people who click-and-collect, and in some sectors it overtook home delivery, so this is definitely an option consumers are looking for.

Customer service is important throughout the purchasing funnel but great follow-up can be the cherry on the cake for many consumers (and encourage good reviews for etailers). Delivery updates via text and email and follow-up emails checking that the customer received their delivery and are satisfied with the service are also more prevalent and therefore becoming the norm.

happy customer

Whether they like your products or not, customers won't come back if the service isn't good

Content marketing is massive right now - is it relevant to ecommerce?

Yes, definitely – it’s relevant to anything digital at the moment! In regards to ecommerce it’s about using content to improve search rankings, find new leads, connect your marketing channels, increase traffic and, of course, boost sales.

The great thing about content marketing for ecommerce is that it can come in so many forms: product videos, how-to videos, photos/images, podcasts and infographics are all adaptable and easily shareable.

It’s also relevant to both the B2C and B2B markets, although the content should be adapted slightly to make it more informative, technical, and focussing on the product and service attributes for B2B.

How can retailers use social media to win more clients?

Social media is great for building brand loyalty and increasing visibility, the anticipated success as a sales tool is sometimes overestimated, it just doesn’t prove as effective as many hoped.

However, social media is still a must have for online businesses. Etailers should start by putting together a social media strategy; asking questions such as, which websites will work best, what are the goals, what content will best showcase products or services, when’s the best time to reach a community?

Maintaining a consistent brand image across platforms is essential, in order for customers and followers to be able to easily recognise the brand across platforms. Once up and running, promote your social media platforms on your e-store and in newsletters, so that they become an integral part of your marketing strategy.

Special offers, games and competitions all help grow a following and keep them engaged. Once present on social media, it’s not something you can neglect or you’ll swiftly see your community loose interest and numbers dwindle.

Put time aside for maintaining your social media accounts hone your customer service skills by ensuring timely responses engage with your followers and you’ll see the benefits.

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