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5 Common E-Commerce Mistakes That Entrepreneurs Make

by Nedim Talovic · Updated 13 Jul 2021

Building a successful online business might be a difficult task for companies on the budget.  Not for every company, of course, but for the most companies, it is.

In this blog post, I’m going to learn you more about basic tips and tricks that small business owners should consider.

Firstly, you’ll see why not having an active blog is a horrible mistake, and why do you need to start blogging now. Not tomorrow, not today but now.

After that, I’ll talk about duplicate content and email marketing. Most of the people think that email marketing something that is over, but it isn’t! It’s still the most effective marketing channel.

The last step is learning about measuring and machine learning. I guarantee that if you follow these tips, you will see your traffic (and revenue) increases.

Let’s start!

#1 Lack of Blogging

No matter what they say, backlinks are still the most important Google ranking factor.

The big problem in E-commerce businesses is that they don’t have enough backlinks pointing to their products.

It makes perfect sense since there is no special reason why someone would link your product page, unless you’re Amazon or unless you start writing a blog.

Paulo Coelho Google SERP

As you can see, for the query The Alchemist buy, only Amazon has 154 backlinks from 19 root domains while other retailers have just a few backlinks.

I haven’t analyzed the quality of backlinks but a general rule of thumb is that the more links you get the better ranking you’ll achieve.

It’s absolutely clear that you cannot build spammy links. Now, writing a blog enables you to create linkable assets.

For example, you can write a blog post where you recommend 100 books that everyone must read during the life.

100 Books You Must Read

Take a look at how this blog post got 106 backlinks from 44 domains.

These links will increase a Domain Authority and with high DA your website (and products) will rank better on search engines.

It will be difficult at the beginning, but once the blog starts growing, nothing will stop you.

Lesson: Acquiring backlinks that point to the product page is highly unlikely, but writing a blog allows you to acquire backlinks easier and because of that your DA and product visibility will increase.

#2 A Lot of Duplicate Content

Duplicate content may hurt your website. Zappos, an online retailer, has variety versions of a single product with only one difference - color.

Zappos Product Variations

Every variation has its unique URL, but the product description text is identical which is the reason to use canonical URLs.

Furthermore, Google says that canonical URLs get consolidated with links to your preferred product page. In other words, it helps you to avoid a penalty risk because of the duplicate content.

Consolidating link signals

Still, if it’s possible, the best option would be having only one unique page for the product.

Why?

Having only one version (URL) of the specific product makes your PA higher, and otherwise, a small portion of backlinks that you acquire will split on different URLs (and 99% same product).

In the end, when it comes to product descriptions, a good practice is to write your own product description.

Many E-commerce businesses use product descriptions taken from manufacturers but to stand out you should go for unique product description .

Lesson: If possible, you should have only one URL. If not, use Canonical URLs wherever it’s applicable.

#3 Lack of Email Marketing

Email Marketing ROI

For every $1 spend on email marketing, you should expect $40 in revenues. That’s a wonderful ROI and it’s even 2.35x times better than keywords ads (PPC).

Still, E-commerce businesses don’t collect emails as they could. Personally, I know business owners who send newsletters, but only to their customers, ignoring ones who are still not the customers. You might be wondering how to collect leads.

The answer is content upgrades because it’s the best way of getting new leads (highest visitor-to-lead rate). Earlier, I suggested writing a blog post 100 Books You Must Read Before You Die.

Now let’s see how we can use content upgrades within the blog post. If you create a content upgrade where you’ll offer a printable version (PDF), you can expect a high visitor-to-lead rate.

Content Upgrade

Also, you can offer a 5% discount or offer a PDF file with additional 25 books.

This way, you will get a lot of new subscribers - your potential customers.

Lesson: Collect as much as possible emails and send a newsletter at least once a week.

#4 Lack of Measuring

I know you have installed Google Analytics and I’m pretty sure that you know where do your visitors come from and what percentage of visitors come from search traffic or social networks.

Fine, but still not enough. You need to collect as much as possible information about your visitors. Here is the one way.

Creating a top list with offering these three options is definitely a great way to learn more about your visitors:

  • Want to Read
  • Currently Reading
  • Read

Book list

If people click on the Want to read button for The Kill a Mockingbird book, I could use machine learning algorithms to find patterns and get the list of related products.

When I know the list of related and recommended products for my visitors, I can advertise to bring them back through remarketing campaigns.

Furthermore, every E-commerce business owner should do funnel analysis.

Basically, it tells you what channel type (Organic, Referral, Direct, etc.) brings you the most conversions and how much revenues you generate from these channels.

Funnel Analysis

As you can see from the photos above and below, Goal Flow in Google Analytics tells me that there were 2.1K sessions from Referral channel, and what’s more, 855 of them (40%) has completed the order.

Funnel Analysis

Lesson: I can learn what is the most profitable channel for me, what brings the biggest ROI. Also, I can learn what channel has the highest abandoned rate. Basically, everything should be measured and learned from data.

#5 Lack of Machine Learning

Machine learning helps you finding patterns in the large set of data. ML algorithms are used in self-driving cars, recommendation systems, fraud detection, spam detection and many other cases.

For example, you can predict customers that might buy, predict likable products for the specific customer, and practically get dozens of useful predictions.

Big data

Not so long ago, machine learning hasn’t been available to everyone, but fortunately, these days we have services such as Google Prediction API, Amazon Machine Learning, Azure Machine Learning and BigML.

Surely, there are other services as well, but those are the most popular ones. If you’re not a developer (and many E-commerce business owners are not), I suggest you try with BigML.

The sweet thing is that you don’t need to think about algorithms and science behind them. The only thing you need to have is a data set.

Did you know that you can even predict customers that might churn in Google Sheets? Well, probably not, but I wrote about that recently.

Honestly, I wouldn’t suggest you that if your data set is too large because it takes too much time to get predictions.

Walmart

Walmart, one of the biggest retailers in the U.S., uses machine learning every day.

It’s absolutely logical because they collect 2.5 petabytes of unstructured data from 1 million customers every hour.

I bet you know that Walmart Labs analyses every click on the website (add to Cart, add to List, etc), but did you know that they even analyze what’s trending on Twitter, or how local weather change affects the buying pattern?

Lesson: Machine Learning is absolutely available and cheap these days, and you don’t need to be a software engineer for predicting. There are a lot of Machine-learning-as-a-Service platforms that will help you to succeed.

Conclusion

As I mentioned earlier, if you fix these mistakes, I guarantee that you’ll see how your traffic and revenue increase.

If short, you need to write a blog because it’s a great way of getting new backlinks. Make sure that your content is unique because if it’s not, you can get penalized by Google.

Also, let me say again that email marketing is still the most important channel. You can even test different variations (subject, content) so you can learn what brings the best results.

Never forget to collect as much as possible data about your visitors and getting useful insights. Measuring the key of your business.