Launching, and operating, an e-commerce store may seem like it offers big potential for profit and financial independence while posing little commitment and risk. If only that all were true.
Though the global e-commerce market is forecasted to be worth $4.88 trillion by 2021, that money isn’t growing on any ole tree. From traffic and search analytics to keyword tracking, email marketing and more, store owners need to do several things well to excel in the competitive e-commerce environment.
Let’s discuss five types of analytics software tools essential to e-commerce success.
When you’re an online-only store, your site’s vital signs mean everything. Like getting a blood test and seeing your various levels, site analytics tools won’t tell you the whole story behind the finding, but it will brief you on the condition. If you’re using a hosted e-commerce platform like Shopify to sell electronics or other products, you’ll get a baseline level of analytics to peruse. However, you should also get acclimated with the most important (and free) tools for any e-commerce store— Google Search Console (GSC) and Google Analytics (GA).
GSC and GA both provide site traffic data, but otherwise, the two platforms complement each other perfectly. GSC is all about analytics on how search engines interact with your site, whereas GA provides metrics that describe how users interact with it. Not only are these tools free, but you can sync data together and access them from within your Google product suite.
Keyword Research & Rank Tracking
It’s definitely possible to e-commerce generate traffic and acquire new users in ways beyond search engine optimization (SEO), but you’d be hard-pressed to find a successful e-commerce business that doesn’t focus a lot of their efforts on it. And the start of any successful SEO campaign is keyword research and rank tracking. Key things to look for in any keyword-research and rank-tracking tool are the ability to generate additional keyword ideas (including popular auto-suggest keywords) and track keywords by device type, location, language and page.
Mangools’ KWFinder does these things in addition to providing ranking difficulty and PPC bid estimates. It also displays the first page of Google’s SERP results for a specified keyword. SEOProfiler is another worthy option within a broader suite of SEO tools. SEOProfiler satisfies the baseline keyword-tool criteria but excels in its keyword suggestion and optimization features, which highlight keywords related to your website you don’t currently rank for. DynoMapper brings something a bit different to the table, allowing site owners to crawl websites and pull every keyword it ranks for. This tool is especially helpful when doing page/site redesigns or evaluating past keyword optimization performance.
Many e-commerce sites are comprised of thousands of pages. The sheer amount of details involved within each page and the overall site can make for a very bad or good thing. If parts of your site are hard to crawl, that impact search engine spiders’ ability to crawl it. Crawling your site will also tip you off to your 404 pages. While having broken pages on your store doesn’t negatively impact your SEO directly, it hurts user experience in all cases.
Other important issues you can uncover by crawling your site include discovering duplicate content (possibly from copying a manufacturer’s product description), finding thin or non-existent metadata, sniffing out redirect loops, and of course, getting recommendations on the various other tweaks you can make to improve SEO. While it’s a good idea to invest in a crawling tool so you can monitor your site on an ongoing basis, crawling tools like Netpeak Spider and Screaming Frog offer free trials that crawl a certain amount of pages. You can then export your site’s crawl report to a CSV to organize your site optimizations. Both tools offer a wealth of insights; see which interface you prefer and go from there.
Trying to increase a page’s organic ranking isn’t easy, especially if you’re competing against stores with higher domain authorities. But unless you work on improving your own store’s domain authority, your SEO efforts will likely always fall short. The most effective way to increase your domain authority, and organic rankings of your various pages, is to build a lot of backlinks—and from trusted, thematically relevant sites. Backlinks are one of the most-weighted factors in Google’s PageRank algorithm, and it doesn’t look to be changing anytime soon.
Backlink tools provide clear visibility into your store’s root domains, subdomains and total number of individual URL backlinks while allowing you to track the same for your competitors. To make sense of all your backlinks, you can sort by link type, anchor text, link type, as well as various custom metrics developed by each respective tool.
Tools like AHrefs, SEMrush, Link Explorer or Majestic SEO are all valuable paid options to get a handle on backlink efforts. These tools all come as part of more extensive SEO suites, so consider what else they offer before choosing one.
If you’re a new site and don’t have enough backlinks to warrant a paid tool, then creating Google Alerts for branded keywords of you and your competitors should keep you in the know about any press and blog coverage.
Any e-commerce store should be experimenting with a variety of traffic-generation and customer-acquisition strategies. From content marketing and affiliate advertising to SEO and SEM, the more nets you can cast effectively, the better. However, too many e-stores fall into the trap of operating on bloated and unsustainable paid advertising budgets. This strategy makes it difficult to scale and retain a decent profit margin. Of the many channels to experiment with, email marketing still remains among the most cost-effective marketing channels from an ROI perspective.
Email platforms like Hubspot, Emma and Constant Contact provides e-commerce stores with easy email segmentation, message automation, responsive layouts, HTML formatting, CAN-SPAM compliance, a dedicated IP address and deliverability help, in addition to a solid center for resources and further learning.
In an industry filled with aspirational companies continuously striving to engage more customers with more convenient and memorable experiences, leveraging the right sets of tools can be an e-commerce company’s difference between boom or bust. Experiment with the above tools and see how they help inform your everyday business decisions and improvements.