After two years of unparalleled expansion, the eCommerce environment has started to slow down.
Many businesses grew accustomed to increased traffic and sales caused by the lockdown economy. Like manna from the sky, visitors seemed to pour down endlessly and all we had to do was keep our websites tidy and clean so customers would walk right in and convert.
However, things have started to change rapidly, and online sales are dropping hard.
Many blame it on the fact that our lives are going back to normal, and people now want to visit physical locations instead of staying home browsing through endless lists of pictures. While there is some merit to this, there are indicators that suggest there are other underlying reasons for these perceived drops in trade.
Big Retail Finally Woke Up And Smelled The Coffee
Anyone who hasn’t been living under a rock for the past two years remembers how stores that heavily relied upon foot traffic were the biggest losers when the lockdowns began. I still recall daily headlines describing how big names had to close doors and sell real estate because they could not justify the expense.
Online shopping became prevalent, and those who were able to ride the wave are still slotted inside the barrel to this day. But, to everyone’s surprise, having big pockets didn’t make much of a difference when it came to securing digital marketing success. The only thing that mattered was understanding what was coming and adapting. Services like eCommerce advertising and Facebook and Instagram ad services provided small businesses enough leverage to put their products front and center for millions of potential customers. Contrastingly, Big Brands proved to be too slow to react, and kind of took a back seat in the online world.
But this didn’t mean big stores went to sleep. On the contrary, they seem to have been preparing for a huge comeback, and they are now showing their teeth.
Giants like Walmart and Target have revamped their websites, ramping up their user experience, and making it a lot easier for users to find what they want and get it the same day. This has driven direct-to-consumer competition up to new heights without there being any reduction in total eCommerce sales. Moreover, there has been a huge influx of brands now competing for vital space within the eCommerce ecosystem, and they brought their deep pockets with them.
And Just Like That, eCommerce Ads Became A Luxury
According to recent reports, the cost of advertising has shot up through the roof. Keyword bidding on Google, Facebook, and Instagram Ad services has gone so insane that most general intent keywords are practically owned by big players. Unless things change in the near future, small merchants who depend on PPC strategies will see their marketing costs increase exponentially.
Moreover, with the increase in prices for paid ads, customer acquisition costs are at an all-time high. One of the most important parts of every strategy was making sure our brands were on constant display on every possible channel to generate interest and potential customers.
Not long ago, most business strategists would suggest dedicating most of your marketing budget to efforts that helped you scoop up new leads and customers, leaving a small margin for client retention. The logic behind this is that you only needed customers to buy from you once. However, as advertisement prices go up, interest has shifted to other more sustainable strategies.
This is not to say you should drop all of your Google search and display ads. It means that it is time to combine your PPC efforts with smart SEO and marketing strategies.
Right now, customer retention is the name of the game, and most eCommerce SEO agencies and platforms are working hard to provide merchants with incredible tools that allow them to improve user experience and generate repeat sales.
Moreover, subscription strategies are on the rise too. This business model was almost instinctive for companies that offer repeat services. Music streaming services, software-as-a-service companies, and even massage parlors or car shops that offer oil change services, saw this as a business-saving strategy.
Today, many businesses adopt subscription-based marketing strategies to retain customers and have a captive audience. One example is Amazon Prime. For a monthly fee, they offer streaming services, free shipping, and special monthly offers for their customers. Moreover, they recently announced that this subscription would allow their loyal customers to use their logistics infrastructure even outside the Amazon ecosystem. They now allow merchants on other platforms to add a Buy With Amazon button to their sites.
But there are plenty of smaller businesses who have adopted this approach to offer things like delivering a monthly supply of pet food, cleaning products, personal hygiene, and other essential products, taking away the need for users to keep a shopping list. More creative merchants serve as curators and put together monthly packs for their customers based on expressed preferences or historical data. They have created a rabidly loyal following by offering monthly games, collectibles, or even wine and beer tasting packs.
What Can An ECommerce SEO Agency Do For You?
For these and other more sohpisticated eCommerce marketing strategies to work, businesses need to enhance their customer experience and keep improving it over time.
Everyone knows that a website that is difficult to navigate will increase bounce rates and prompt users to go look elsewhere. So, most merchants concentrate on improving site speed, URL architecture, intuitive navigation menus, and crafting clear copy. However, smart merchants know the importance of partnering up with an eCommerce SEO agency that understands what the word “intuitive” means.
A few years ago, having a “proceed to checkout” button was deemed intuitive as most websites, including Amazon, had one. Today, people are used to completely different conversion processes thanks to the influence of social media, streaming services, and even how governments and institutions had to reshape the way they interacted with their users.
So, even after enjoying a two-year head start, small merchants today are starting to feel how Big Retail is now gaining ground. Their long-term strategy seems to be working, and they are reshaping the whole eCommerce industry by imposing new business models and defining what customers deem “intuitive”.
For many, this means that small and mid-sized businesses are no longer at the wheel. But for experienced eCommerce SEO agencies like us, it means it is time to kick out of this wave and catch the next one by adopting eCommerce advertising strategies that increase PPC efficiency and customer retention at the same time.
If your eCommerce business is ready to adapt to the new normal, or if you want to learn how Genius eCommerce can help you stay on top of your game, schedule a meeting with our amazing marketing team.