Category: Twitter

Improving Your BigCommerce Store in 2019

As we close out yet another trip around the sun, you may be starting to wonder “What’s next for my online store?” A new year is a great time to stop and take stock of what worked, what didn’t, and what you can do to improve the bottom line on your BigCommerce store.

In ecommerce, as in life, continuous improvement should always be top of mind. Consider the following when planning your next course of action.

Improve Your Store

If you’re not intentionally working on making your ecommerce store better, you’re allowing it to get worse. Everything is constantly changing. Focused, strategic effort on your part is necessary to make your store the best it can be.

Don’t let that scare you! Avoid overwhelm. If you don’t know where to begin, small changes made consistently over time are a good way to start making progress … but don’t delay. Start now.

Master Your Analytics

If you don’t know where you are now, how will you know how to get to where you want to go next? If you’re not in the habit of getting regular updates on your store’s current status, this should be a priority on your to-do list. What critical information can you learn from your store’s analytics?

  • Audience: Where are you buyers located? How old are they? Are they men or women?
  • Acquisition: Where is the majority of your traffic coming from? What ad campaigns are working?
  • Behavior: Are your buyers first time or repeat visitors? How much traffic is from mobile?
  • Conversions: What’s your conversion rate? What pages on your site convert best? How many didn’t make it to checkout?

… and much, much more.

If you’re not knowledgeable or comfortable using Google Analytics, you’re not alone. Check out The Best of the Best eCommerce Analytics Tools to Grow Your Business.

Hot tip: If you have a BigCommerce store with a large product catalog of unique fitment products (like Year/Make/Model), PartFinder features Data Insights, real-time data generated by customer behavior on your site. Customer searches on your site generate unique data that you can use to improve both your marketing and inventory efforts.

5 Quick Fixes

I look at a wide variety of ecommerce websites every day, offering constructive criticism and our development services on BigCommerce’s Community Forum. Here are the top five areas of improvement I regularly comment on:

  1. Make sure your site is secure

I’ve been seeing this a lot lately. If customers don’t feel that their payment method is secure, they won’t buy from you. Period. Get an SSL certificate for your site pronto.

2. Feature an eye-catching banner with concise messaging

Your site’s banner is prime real estate, and is usually the thing your customer notices first. It can either inform and engage them or turn them off completely. This is the space where you identify your product offering with clear, targeted messaging and sharp photos. I cannot overstate the importance of high-quality images here. The banner sets the tone for the rest of the site, so you should pay especially close attention to this area. Make sure your aspect ratios are on point so you don’t get the dreaded s t r e t c h e d photo effect.

3.  Create a one-line navigation bar with clear product categories

Is your navigation bar product-focused? Things like Shipping and Returns don’t belong in your nav. Have large, well-defined product categories with dropdowns to keep the nav tidy. We recommend 6-8 navigation items, tops.

4. Keep your Home page product-focused too

Your potential customers come to your site to buy from you. They don’t need to read a long story about you or your products on the Home page. While an About Us or Our Story page can be quite compelling, it does not need to take up valuable Home page real estate. Share your story, your philosophy, and interesting details about your quality craftsmanship (if applicable) with appropriate keywords, on a dedicated page they can get to from the main navigation bar.

5. Standardize your product images and create unique product descriptions

This is another area that can sabotage your Home page experience. Make sure the sizing and aspect ratios of your product images are consistent. When image boxes vary in size, they not only look sloppy, but can throw off the alignment of product names and pricing info. Create unique product descriptions rather than using ones supplied by a manufacturer (if you’re a reseller). If you have a product that comes in five colors, it’s best to create one product with five variations than five separate products. Writing creative, compelling product descriptions isn’t always easy. Work on them over time if necessary, but avoid duplicate content whenever possible.

Invest in New Apps

So many apps, so little time …

It’s very likely that you’ve purchased a number of apps to help you with marketing, inventory, shipping, and so on. But when was the last time you took a stroll through the BigCommerce app store to see what’s new? Are you up on all the latest technologies? Small investments can pay off big. Check out this list, BigCommerce Must-Haves to see what you’ve been missing.

 

Refine Your Product Offering

Is your current product offering too narrow … or too broad? I am always amazed to see online stores selling everything from soup to nuts with no sense of cohesiveness. It’s one thing to sell “gifts” and have a wide range of items, but when you’re primarily selling phone cases but also baby bibs, women’s underwear, and garden hoses, you achieve what I call “the garage sale effect.” It’s very difficult to market stores like this because there’s no direction or target market you can aim for. You really can’t compete in Amazon’s “sell everything” space, so make sure your products are related and can be categorized so that anyone visiting your store knows immediately what you’re selling and why they should buy from you.

Improve Yourself

As Stephen Covey wrote in Seven Habits of Highly Effective People (a must-read for all humans), the seventh habit he references is “Sharpen the Saw.” Entrepreneurship is hard. You must take the time to invest in yourself if you’re going to have the energy and motivation to continue.

Remember: You’re the goose laying the golden eggs. If you’re not continually improving yourself, you’re continually decreasing your effectiveness and putting yourself on the fast track to burnout.

STOP: Take a Break

When was the last time you took a vacation? Remember, taking a break doesn’t have to mean two weeks in Europe. It could be a weekend getaway, an overnight trip, an afternoon doing something you love, or even a 10-minute meditation. If you don’t make yourself a priority, no one else will.

LOOK: Read & Learn

We all struggle with information overload. The key is being selective. Read blogs and follow business experts on Twitter, or take online courses from sites like Lynda.com or Udemy to enhance your skill set.

I also recommend checking out online forums to stay current on your platform’s features and improvements. BigCommerce’s Community Forum and Facebook page are great ways to learn from other store owners, development partners, and platform experts.

LISTEN: Find Your Podcast Nirvana

If you don’t think you have time to listen to podcasts, you’re doing it wrong. Podcasts are a great way to stay informed while you multitask. Next time you’re eating, exercising, or driving, fire up a podcast see how fast the time goes. If you’re not sure which ones are best, check out 42 Top Ecommerce Podcasts That Will Make You an Ecommerce Magnate and get inspired.

Driving while looking in the rearview mirror is never a good idea. But taking the time to reflect and assess your goals always helps determine your road map for the future. Wishing you a healthy and prosperous new year, and happy selling.

Twitter Won’t Show My WordPress Thumbnail!

gray-box-of-death

Have you ever had one of those days when technology doesn’t make sense? When something you’ve done many times suddenly doesn’t seem to work and you don’t know why?

I’m not gonna lie. I was really pissed off at Twitter last week. I had tweeted a blog post and it appeared on Twitter without a thumbnail image. The article was there, but the Twitter Card displayed this:

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

No, no, no. No.

Sure, I could’ve left it up like that, but I’m not that kind of girl. I kind of have a perfectionist problem. Plus, I’m just really stubborn. If you tell my husband I said that, I’ll deny it.

It turns out that I had tweeted the post but had forgotten to set the Featured Image in WordPress. So I deleted the tweet, went back and set the Featured Image, saved it, retweeted, and … nothing. Same placeholder appeared.

After checking and testing everything I could think to check and test, retweeting and deleting after each time, it still didn’t work. I did this three or four or nine times. I looked online for the answer, but all I could see was how to set the initial image in the “Featured Image” box, which I had done. If you’re not picturing smoke coming out of my ears at this point, please do so now.

I went into the Social tab under Yoast SEO in WordPress and made sure the image for Twitter was set. Fixed that too. I changed the image dimensions. I checked other blog posts that had tweeted without issue to see if there were differences. I changed the image to a square instead of a rectangle. I took a walk around the parking lot and thought about life.

If you’ve ever had this happen, take heart. It’s not you, it’s Twitter.

 

Clearing Twitter Image Cache

Grab that cache with both hands and make a stash …

My apologies to Roger Waters.

When you tweet a link to a post, Twitter saves a copy of the original source in its cache. Once you’ve done that, there’s no turning back. The only way you can get Twitter to use a revised source is to clear its cache (not your cache, Twitter’s cache). In this case, since I had not set a Featured Image and the image-free version was cached, I had to add a parameter to the post’s URL. I renamed the URL by adding a parameter (see below) and it was all good.

If you wish to change an image you’ve already set, you can simply change the Featured Image name. You can do this by going into your Media Library, selecting the image, and renaming it by adding a parameter to the image name. This is done by adding a question mark (“?”) and characters to the end of the image like “?ver2”).

You can double-check how the post will display by using the Twitter Card Validator. Insert your post’s URL and click the Preview Card button.

Voila!

Have you ever had this happen to you? Did you come up with a different solution? If so, do tell — we’re all ears.

P.S. After all that buildup, you’re probably dying to read the post that inspired so much frustration. Here it is …
.”Ecommerce Store Mods Save Time & Money.” Enjoy!