14 Ways To Optimize Your Ecommerce Marketing

Ecommerce marketing covers a lot of bases, from on-site improvements to testing to search engine marketing and social media. Today’s post gives a very brief overview of 14 disciplines in emarketing for online sellers, with links to further resources if you want to go deeper.

SEO – Search Engine Optimization

I trust most of us know what search engine optimization is, it’s a fundamental part of online marketing for any business. And it’s an activity you’re never “finished,” thanks to search engines that continually keep us on our toes.

Under the SEO umbrella are a number of sub-disciplines including keyword research, link building, copywriting, strategy and technical optimization.

There are a number of fantastic sources for search engine information out there, but some notable ones are Search Engine Land, Stone Temple , Bruce Clay, Small Business SEM, Matt Cutts’ blog and SEOmoz.

Got SEO questions? The High Rankings and Search Engine Watch forums are great places to hang out.

You can also poke through our archive of SEO related Get Elastic posts.

SMO – Social Media Optimization

Coined by Rohit Bhargava, SMO refers to both activities that make your site social media ready (think RSS feeds and share-with-your-network buttons) and marketing promotions that support word-of-mouth (or fingers) and draw traffic to your site.

We’ve covered all types of SMO here on Get Elastic, and blogs like Chris Brogan, TechCrunch, Techipedia and Marketing Pilgrim are great resources.

NFO – News Feed Optimization

A subset of SMO, the purpose of NFO is to get your Facebook Page’s content in front of as many eyeballs as possible via your fans and fans’ friends’ News Feeds. Like SEO, NFO strategies are based on what little we know about Facebook’s Edgerank algorithm. Activities may involve designing Facebook landing pages (or tabs) that have prominent calls to action to join the Page or incentives to share the Page or its posts with one’s network.

Check out our posts EdgeRank: How Facebook Determines What Appears in the News Feed and News Feed Optimization: 14 Ideas to Get Noticed in Facebook for more details, and subscribe to Inside Facebook and the Facebook Blog to keep up to date.

CRO – Conversion Rate Optimization

One of my favorite topics, conversion rate optimization is all about moving the needle higher on your site’s KPIs (key performance indicators). A/B and multivariate testing is key to CRO, but the strategy behind what is tested is critical. It involves a deep understanding of user behavior and expectations, with a healthy hatred towards relying on gut-feel to make decisions.

In addition to this blog, check out Tim Ash’s Landing Page Optimization podcast, WhichTestWon and Marketing Experiments.

For your bookshelf:
Conversion Optimization
Web Design for ROI
Always Be Testing: The Complete Guide to Google Website Optimizer
Landing Page Optimization: The Definitive Guide to Testing and Tuning for Conversions

WAO – Web Analytics Optimization

While tools come equipped with a number of metrics and reports out of the box, did you know your web analytics should also be optimized? A web analytics audit by a professional can help uncover sources of data inaccuracy like inaccurate cookies, rogue caching servers and tagging issues which can be overstating or understating your data. A strategist can help you set up the proper goal funnels and data filters, create custom reports that matter, and help work through complex issues like subdomain tracking and connecting data from other systems.

Fantastic sources of web analytics information include VKI Studios (now Cardinal Path), the infamous Avinash Kaushik, Lunametrics and the blogs of the web analytics vendors themselves, like Google Analytics Blog and Omniture.

WPO / WSO – Web Performance Optimization / Web Site Optimization

So nice, they named it twice. Whatever you choose to call it, performance optimization is often the “forgotten” piece of the optimization pie. WPO is a technical job, requiring ninja coding and IT skills. It may also involve third party services like CDNs (content delivery networks) to cache content for quicker retrieval. While it’s not marketing per se, it’s essential to it. No matter how souped-up or stripped down your landing page is, a slow page load speed will quickly send visitors elsewhere. As a marketer, you need to know what to ask your IT counterparts to help you with.

The blogs Web Performance Today, Steve Souders, Gomez Web Performance Blog and Andrew King’s Website Optimization book are great resources.

EMO – Email Marketing Optimization

While this term could apply to CRO for email campaigns, as we have defined it on Get Elastic refers to a hypothetical idea from fellow ecommerce blogger Rishi Riwat. This form asks customers by email to Google a specific keyword and click on the company’s search result in exchange for a %X discount. The premise is that click through rate is a ranking factor for organic SEO, and such a campaign is a way to boost it. Hey, it could work!

Of course, the CRO side of EMO is also very important. Email is its own animal, as you have to consider headlines, timing and frequency of deployment, list segmentation, list cleaning and so on. Great resources are the Retail Email Blog, Marketing Sherpa, Style Campaign, ClickZ and the Email Insider column.

PRO – Product Returns Optimization

Okay, I admit I totally contrived this discipline – it’s an acronym to describe a discipline I believe should exist. We always talk about driving sales, but what about preventing sales that will only be returned? There are at least 6 ways you can go PRO: product descriptions, images, video, customer reviews, site tools and features and customer support.

CSO – Customer Service Optimization

Again, a fabricated acronym – but let’s face it, most e-business’ customer service can be improved – whether in the call center or on-site through self service and FAQ availability and usability. And customer surveys are to CSO as web analytics is to CRO.

I’ve also put together a comprehensive scorecard you can download to calculate your “customer service quotient.”

APO – Affiliate Program Optimization

Though I don’t hear the industry labeling “affiliate program optimization” with the acronym APO – it has a nice ring to it, no?

APO is continuous improvement that involves recruiting the right affiliates, improving relationships with your top referrers, combatting spam and parasiteware, properly attributing multi-touch sales, developing and testing offers and creative, and so on. Great resources are the ABestWeb forum and blogs by Geno Prussakov, Linda Buquet and Shawn Collins.

SSO – Site Search Optimization

Site search is another often overlooked area of optimization, but it could provide greater gains than even landing page improvements, depending on the condition of your tool. Even if you have a rock-solid thesaurus and never show zero-results found, testing and improving the presentation of your results, and their ranking order and refinement options can go a long way.

Our recently posted site search digest has our best articles on the topic – 61 tips!

PSO – Paid Search Optimization

Like SEO, PSO (more commonly called SEM for search engine marketing) requires an ongoing strategy with several activities at once. After creating a proper account structure and configuring appropriate settings like geographic and device targeting, there are ongoing tasks like keyword research (including negative keywords), bid management, copywriting and landing page testing, analysis and keeping up with the moving target that is search engine advertising that must be mastered.

PSO is no DIY task – whether your team is in-house or outsourced, practitioners must be experts. But even if you’re not doing the hands-on account management, it’s important you understand the industry and best practices so you can better evaluate if your SEMs are doing a good job.

Great resources are the RKG Blog (Rimm-Kaufmann Group), Search Engine Land, Certified Knowledge and Click Equations.

DFO – Data Feed Optimization

Shopping engines are search properties of their own and can send higher converting traffic than organic and paid search, since referred visitors have already seen your product image and price vis-a-vis competitors’. But shopping engines require their own TLC. Enter DFO – the practice of managing data feeds across various engines (each with their own requirements, traffic mixes and click prices) whilst optimizing for each.

Great sources of info include CPC Strategy, LoveYourFeed and CSE Strategies.

MCO – Mobile Commerce Optimization

Now more than ever ecommerce businesses are interested in mobile commerce, as consumers flock to tablets and smartphones and are becoming more comfortable with the mobile web. But it’s not as easy as changing a few style sheets to get your site to render nicely on mobile phones. Optimization requires measurement (mobile analytics), strategy (prioritizing devices and platforms, designing unique mobile features and functionality) and development (mobile sites and/or applications for various devices).

We’ve written several guides on Get Elastic on mobile commerce, and you can find great advice on Econsultancy, the Mobile Retail Blog and Mobile Marketer.

Can’t get enough 3-letter ecommerce acronyms? We got 99 of ‘em for you.

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