So you’ve built your eCommerce store with the solid pillars of WordPress & WooCommerce, sales are going well and you’re ready to take things to the next level. At this point, you may be lamenting the lack of some of the more powerful options and integrations available to more mature platforms like Magento or Volusion. Starting to think about migration options?
Don’t be too hasty, as thanks to the productive and ever growing community of WordPress & WooCommerce users, there are a number of comparative ways you can grow your WooCommerce based business even further. Let’s take a look at some of the options available to larger WordPress & WooCommerce users:
One of the greatest benefits of online commerce is the ability to accurately and comprehensively track your customers behaviour, predict trends and analyse your marketing efforts down to the cent. You’ll no doubt have an analytics service set up, most likely Google analytics, but if you’re using a plugin like Jetpack to track user data – stop and install google analytics! The only credible alternative to GA is Piwik, it’s a shame but we’d recommend against it purely due to the bulk of information on web analytics and integrations with complementary services like Moz.com rely on you using GA.
Google recently introduced an updated version of their platform, Universal Analytics, if you set up your property before March 2013 you’re likely using the older ‘classic’ version. Universal analytics introduces a number of new features that make it easier to track users across browsers and devices, cookie less tracking and easier import/export of data. However, it’s not fully implemented yet with some features like retargeting, Adsense integration and content experiments missing so ultimately you’ll have to make the choice on whether to upgrade yet or not (note that all further feature improvements will only be available to universal users, so it’s only a matter of time). See the following chart for the feature comparison:
To upgrade you will need to create a whole new property within google analytics and update the tracking code on your site, if you’re using a plugin for this like Yoast’s then this won’t take long, just plug in your new UA-XXX id. See this article on the kissmetrics blog for further reading on universal analytics.
This is fairly standard stuff and you’ve hopefully already implemented it, so how can we take things further and better integrate WooCommerce?
Segment.io is an amazing saas platform that can easily add huge value to your analytics services. It essentially functions as an aggregator for analytics, feed into it and you can output the data to over 70 services that will help you to understand and act on it. The WooCommerce Segment.io extension can send a number of important events that occur on your WooCommerce store:
- Registration form seen
- New user registered
- Logged in
- Logged out
- Viewed account
- Password changed
- Address updated
- Track post
- Track page
- Track archive
- Track searches
- Viewed product
- Added to cart
- Removed from cart
- Viewed cart
- Coupon applied
- Checkout started
- Calculated shipping
- Payment started
- Completed purchase
- Viewed order
- Tracked order
- File downloaded
- Order cancelled
- Reviewed product
Combine these events with knowledge of traffic sources, conversion rates and more to gain deeper insights into the behaviour of your customers.
You should hopefully already be nailing email marketing, it may not be sexy, but email consistently outperforms every other digital marketing medium in terms of ROI. You need to be building your email list from day one; with opt in boxes on your checkout page, email capture forms on your blog posts and offering free content (eBooks, free trials, whitepapers, etc) in exchange for emails. There are plugins that handle mailing list management and email sending within WordPress but we’d pretty strongly recommend against that. Email delivery is hard and best left to the experts who can handle the technical aspects leaving you to focus on creating engaging and profitable email campaigns. Our favourite services include MailChimp, GetResponse, SendGrid , all have WordPress plugins that you can just install and start building your email list within minutes.
Whilst you probably already handle your mailing lists outside of WordPress, you’re likely to still be sending your WooCommerce emails (account registrations, order updates, receipts etc) through WordPress and by extension your server. This type of email is called transactional email, conversely this has nothing to do with money changing hands, but the nature of why the email was sent – due to an action either directly or indirectly caused by the user.
Now you may be wondering why this is relevant, the majority of your emails are likely sent and delivered perfectly well. But, using a third party to handle these emails (you likely send hundreds a day, probably without knowing it), can offer a wealth of benefits. Emails sent by WooCommerce & WordPress will most likely reach their destination, but what if they don’t, and how do you know if they were opened or had links clicked? Clearly these metrics can be incredibly valuable, test new email templates to increase open and click rates, quickly find bounced or rejected emails – you can pre-emptively fix a customer support issue!
There are a number of plugins that allow you to configure alternative SMTP sending options but in our opinion the best option is to use wpMandrill, which integrates MailChimp’s spinoff service Mandrill into WordPress. Mandrill is an awesome service that gives you 12,000 transactional email sends a month for free, with fair pricing after that. The setup is incredibly simple, you just need to enter your API key, configure your from- and to- email addresses and you’re ready to start tracking opens and clicks. The full web app allows you to fully drill down into your email stats, but the plugin also pulls data to a reports dashboard in WordPress with the most useful stats. For example, see our hourly volume graphs with open and click rates:
Follow Up Emails
In addition to weekly or monthly newsletters and high deliverability transactional emails there’s still room for much improved email marketing. The follow up emails extension is a powerful plugin with support for automated follow up emails triggered by a variety of events after purchase.
The extension allows you to keep in touch with customers on a more personal level than your newsletters. Emails can be configured to send on a number of events, such as when an order status changes (with support for custom order statuses), on first purchases, if a cart was abandoned, subscription changes, sensei events and more. Combine these triggers with custom emails you have full control over to be sent X number of days/hours/minutes after a trigger you can see the almost endless possibilities:
- Customers adding products to their carts but not checking out? Send an email with a unique discount code the next day bringing them back.
- Send an email a week after delivery of an order saying thanks with an invitation to leave a review on your site or others.
- Up-sell customers after purchase with relevant products.
- With the included support for WooCommerce Subscriptions, send reminder emails when a charge fails, ask for feedback if a user cancels, etc.
- If you have the points and rewards extension enabled, remind customers they have credit available to spend.
- Send out personalised surveys to collect data from customers who bought certain items.
So, this is clearly a very versatile extension that is almost a necessity for anything larger than the smallest WooCommerce store
Implementing an affiliate program can be an excellent way to drive up revenue and reward your best customers. The basic principle is to give custom tracked links to your affiliates/partners who will then send traffic to your site in the hope that they’ll convert and thus earn them a commission. Let’s segment these programs into two separate categories: customer facing & marketer facing.
Marketer facing programs deal with the more traditional affiliate marketing methods, you sign up to an affiliate network (or roll your own platform) and attract affiliates (internet marketers, SEOs, etc.) with, most often, percentage based payouts on customer conversion. This form of affiliate marketing is often associated with spam, fraud and generally shadier parts of the internet. For good reason too, if you’ve ever had the misfortune to stumble upon a ClickBank landing page you’ll know why.
However, affiliate marketing is a huge industry and if you get it right you can grow your business with the help of others. Unfortunately plug and play integrations between affiliate networks and WooCommerce aren’t easy to come by. Currently we are only aware of two plugins that allow for easy integration: ShareASale (WP Plugin) and Ambassador. Both are respected affiliate networks, but we’d recommend choosing the network first and then the integration. If a custom plugin is required it shouldn’t cost more than around $250 for development.
It’s important to note that running a successful affiliate program can often be a full time job itself, it’s nature often attracts fraudulent purchases which can do more harm than good, WooThemes cancelled their own affiliate program for this very reason. For this reason we’d strongly recommend using a hosted platform that takes on some of the trickier aspects.
Customer facing programs can be used to leverage your existing customer base into promoters. The common example given for a successful program like this is DropBox’s referral program; invite your friends and get more storage space. With a clear incentive for sharing, DropBox was able to rapidly grow without needing to spend more on direct user acquisition with display advertising, PPC, etc.
Ok, so how can we implement this type of functionality into a WooCommerce store? You’re probably not selling storage as a service so the comparison doesn’t fit completely, but it’s easy to see how you can reward your customers and gain more business by incentivising sharing.
Luckily there’s a referral WooCommerce extension available, for $49, which enables support for store credit and referral link generation. The plugin allows you to incentivise sharing by your customers, set the percentage or flat rate amount of commission by individual product or category. The plugin injects a basic interface into the my account page of WooCommerce with credit earned and a custom affiliate link with the customers ID or username appended to your store’s URL for tracking:
With some tweaking this basic plugin can provide great value by rewarding your best users. Place details of your referrals program on your order received page, use follow up emails to connect with customers after their purchase notifying them about your program and let your social media fans know they can earn money by promoting your business.
- Further Reading: KissMetrics Blog
Reading this blog post hopefully means you’ve visited our website and have thus been cookied! Visiting this page or any other on our site will drop a behavioural retargeting cookie onto your computer, what this means is we can now display ads to you across the internet via a large number of web publishers and networks like Facebook or Twitter. Traditional banner ads on the web average a 0.1% click through rate (CTR), so for every 1000 impressions only one person will click the ad. Retargeted banner ads however, often achieve CTRs closer to 1% – so you can see the value, especially as you’ll still be paying by impression (CPM). In short, it’s one of the cheapest ways to bring back potential customers to your store and if you’re not implementing it, you’re missing out on potential revenue.
Retargeting has previously only been available to larger/enterprise level companies with large advertising budgets. Luckily there a number of companies that have started enabling smaller players to get involved too (Not too small though, you’ll need a minimum of 5000 unique visitors a month to really take advantage of the method.) Our two favourites are AdRoll and Perfect Audience (sign up with our link to get a $70 free trial), these two both offer simple pay-as-you-go pricing and easy integration. AdRoll requires you to manually place their retargeting pixel with instructions here, Perfect Audience on the other hand have developed a WordPress plugin that does everything for you, download it here.
Once you’ve signed up and installed your tracking pixel you can begin to experiment with dynamic ads (different ads show depending on the products visitors viewed), set up conversion goals (reach checkout, paying customer, email sign up, etc) and create customer segments with different targeting lists. Do watch out for over aggressively retargeting though, a number of marketers believe the constant display of the same banner ads following you around the web can become annoying and potentially seem creepy! Use filtering to remove dubious sites and limit the impression count for individual users if possible.
- Further Reading: Moz Blog
Look out for part two, where we’ll take a look at integrating A/B testing, CRMs, admin and accounting optimization and more!
What do your WooCommerce Marketing efforts involve? Let us know in the comments…