Business development · 5 February 2016

Demystifying digital: Nine ways to make your ecommerce site succeed, part 2

A social media strategy is key to good ecommerce

The second part of his two-part feature for Business Advice sees NatWest’s Marcelino Castrillo, reveal the final five ways small firms can ensure ecommerce excellence.

(5) Invest in social media

Including clear contact details has always been one of the key tenets of good ecommerce, and that still holds true today. Thanks to social media’s popularity, many now expect to see the iconic Facebook “f” and the Twitter bird alongside traditional contact info.

Twitter followers are often loyal customers. In a survey held last August, Twitter discovered that the followers of small or medium businesses are 72 per cent more likely to buy from those businesses.

Always maintain and monitor business social accounts: replying to customers and posting updates during key trading hours throughout the day. Tools like Tweetdeck and Hootsuite make managing accounts with multiple admins much easier.

(6) Apply 80 to 20 analysis

It’s easy to get caught up in all the tasks that need completing to keep your ecommerce strategy in line, and often the least important things end up taking the most time. This is where 80 to 20 analysis (also known as the Pareto Principle) can come to the rescue.
Every now and then take a step back and ask yourself whether you’re putting energy and resources into the right areas? If 20 per cent of products are bringing in the majority of revenue, then focus 80 per cent of your time on promoting those products across all channels. Likewise, if social media is only bringing in a fifth of traffic, don’t spend time trying to hone a social media strategy – come up with one that allocates the appropriate resources.

Market leaders Amazon took social interaction one step further. Using the hashtag #AmazonCart, customers can add any item advertised on Twitter onto the next Amazon order without leaving the platform.

(7) Improve attention ratio

When people arrive on landing pages from newsletters and online advertising a business needs to ensure they’ve been converted.

The important thing to consider here is the “attention ratio” – the ratio of links on a page to conversion goals. The more links you put on a page, the more opportunity you give the user to pass up on the most important link of all: the conversion. If possible, just have the conversion link on a landing page. To get a broader overview of landing page optimisation read this blog post.

(8) Should you optimise for mobile?

According to the Interactive Media in Retail Group (IMRG), a third of online sales are now made via mobile devices – a ten per cent increase since 2013. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that if a site isn’t optimised for mobile, it probably should be – with an emphasis on probably.

Before allocating an entire IT budget to going mobile, make sure there’s a demand. The best way to do this is by checking analytics.

Assuming a business uses Google Analytics, finding the rate of mobile traffic to a site is simple. In the menu on the left of the Google Analytics interface select “Audience”, then “Mobile” and “Overview”. This will break down the traffic for desktop, mobile and tablet.

If a site isn’t optimised, businesses should see a huge difference in bounce rate between desktop and mobile traffic, because a site that isn’t optimised for mobile won’t be converting mobile traffic. Spotting this is easy, but fixing it takes time.

(9) Or, should you create an app?

Apps have some advantages over mobile websites, as well as disadvantages. The main problem with an app is finding someone to build it. Web hosting companies often discount mobile websites if users have a main website, making them more affordable and easier to set up. However, apps have a better presence on mobile devices than websites, encouraging interaction.

If a business decides to create an app, it should try to offer customers something different, but relevant to the brand. Consider what the customer is thinking when interacting with your business: what might make their journey easier?

Squeeze In, a restaurant chain that specialises in breakfasts, created an app that features contact details, a menu and a tip calculator, helping hungry patrons through the entire dining process. The company also posts YouTube videos via the app to market the brand.

Work out what’s relevant

These tips will enable you to apply some new thinking to your online store, and though some may be less relevant than others, business owners will be amazed at the success even the smallest of changes can make, when applied in the right way.

Now that you’ve successfully demystified the digital realm for the benefit of your business, why not read our expert’s guide to moving premises?

Sign up to our newsletter to get the latest from Business Advice.



Marcelino Castrillo is MD of business banking at RBS in September 2015.   Prior to to that, Castrillo was MD of SME banking at Santander, where he was responsible for leading the challenge of scaling Santander’s business bank and managed the business through a period of significant change.


If you’ve found the article above useful, but have a more detailed and bespoke question, then please feel free to submit a query to our expert. We at Business Advice will get in contact with them on your behalf and arrange for a personalised response. These questions and answers will then be collated on the site for any other readers who have similar queries.

Ask a question

On the up