What the Heck Are Dark Patterns?

You may not have come across the term dark patterns, but you are likely to encountered their practice. Dark Patterns are the hidden costs, sneaking things into your basket with default add-ons and trick questions – the measures a website will take to have you sign up to something you didn’t intend to, perhaps inadvertently add that extra £2pm to your insurance when you checkout…

Basket abandonment is perhaps the most frustrating aspect of e-commerce. You have done all the hard work to build the site, find the products, market them, reach potential customers, have those customers get to your site and even add the product to their basket. What could go wrong?!

The latest data from Listrak suggests the current rate of basket abandonment is 77%. How does this tally with your business?

Abandon Ship!

So what’s behind people not following their add to basket through to sale? There are plenty of studies on the reasons, and they don’t change much either.

  1. Unexpected delivery costs
  2. Need to create an account
  3. Researching purchase
  4. Payment options
  5. Security

TL;DR

Google is now delivering AMP versions of eCommerce pages in their results. Previously limited to news sites, Accelerated Mobile Pages are stripped back versions, designed to run quickly on mobile devices cached on Google’s servers.

Should You Implement AMP on Your eCommerce Site?

Back in October 2015 Google launched Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) which provided an open framework to deliver light-weight webpages for even faster loading on the go. At that time the focus was purely on publishers only, with Google pushing AMP news articles from the likes of The Guardian, Wired and The New York Times from their search results. Within 6 months nearly 40% of news sites had implemented AMP.

An e-commerce website is going to struggle to be profitable long-term unless it has solid SEO underpinnings. What SEO trends should you be looking at including in your e-commerce strategy?

SEO Technology

Some platforms benefit from excellent SEO within a few clicks. Take the Yoast SEO plugin for WordPress as an example – for free (or a small cost for the premium option) your website will be equipped with the functionality to manage content analysis, canonical links, XML sitemaps, redirects etc. Sure, you need to know what you’re doing to configure it, but the functionality is there for minimal investment, which as custom development would require a fair amount of investment.

If your website is built using a current, established platform it is likely that there is an extension or plugin to quickly enhance the technical search performance of your site.

Long-form Content

At it’s worst e-commerce content is plagued by copy/pasted manufacturer content. A unique rewrite better. Long-form content best!

Providing full detail in long-form content, from an SEO perspective, builds up valuable long-tail keyword variations. The content perhaps becomes more conversational, in a world where voice search is on the increase. From a consumer perspective it’s important to ensure the key buying points are not buried in a wall of copy, and the page is laid out mindfully to reach customers who know what they want and those who do need that extra detail.

Blogs provide the perfect vessel for detailed content, product comparisons and insight that are beyond the scope of a product page.

Sharing

Social media isn’t new but nor is it slowing as the platforms look for more ways for marketers to reach their audiences. If you can coax your users to share any part of your story – be it product news, activity, unboxings etc. you’ll be reaching a further like-minded audience via social channels leading to the possibility of link building and positive social signals. Try and encourage sharing into your purchase process – a post-purchase email could request a review or photos of their proud new purchase.

Video

Engagement with video outperforms all other content. Google is also including video much more readily in the search results pages. From an e-commerce perspective, a specific product search will oftentimes include video among the organic results. It’s no coincidence that the companies ranking organically for their website may be doubling up their visibility with video content – they know it’s important to invest in video as part of a rounded SEO strategy.

Mobile Optimisation

Optimising your site, whether through a separate site or preferably a responsive design has been on the table for 5+ years. So what’s new? Last year Google gave a ranking boost to mobile friendly websites in the mobile search results, rather than churning out the same search results regardless of device. This is a good thing!

Don’t expect Google to be done with satisfying itself with a few mobile checks. Work on delivering the best mobile experience possible and ensure that your return to search metric doesn’t see your site shuffling down because you’re not delivering compared to the competition. Remove what doesn’t need to be seen, scale interface elements to make them finger friendly, ensure desktop functionality translates to mobile.

Voice Search

Siri, Alexa and Google Now are all taking voice inputs and attempting to match web results with your conversed query. If you’ve geared up your SEO strategy around chasing 2-3 word keyword phrases it’s time to go wide and go deep to cover your long-tail query bases, perhaps with more colloquial, conversational tone. You will see a benefit from text based search queries too.

If you’re selling physical products, Facebook is proving itself to be a must-have advertising channel. Whether you’re yet to dip a toe in the water or you’re an old-timer, we’re seeing the number of competitors jumping in ramping up. So how do you get the edge?

My work at Nanigans involves studying performance and ad spend data across the hundreds of brands that use our advertising automation software — many of which are among the largest e-commerce advertisers, both domestically and internationally. Recently, both the data and signals from Facebook have pointed to several important trends e-commerce marketers need to take into account as they continue to shape their 2016 advertising strategy.

Facebook Mobile

Another think of all the mobiles post… It’s undeniable – Facebook users clearly love accessing their newsfeed while on the go resulting in CTRs for e-commerce ads are now 200% higher than desktop. It’s obvious to suggest that your site needs to be up to the job to carry out a mobile transaction efficiently too. Check responsiveness, test customer journeys and look at payment methods to get the most from your Facebook mobile traffic.

Dynamic Product Ads

Retarget customers with related products and convert basket abandonment with automatically populated carousels, personalised with your products.

While not appropriate for every e-commerce business, advertisers that have adopted DPA have seen noticeable improvements in performance compared with their ads using website custom audience (WCA) — a legacy means of targeting specific users on Facebook.

Return on ad spend has increased across the board for clients using DPA compared to custom audiences.

Facebook Audience Network Expansion

At the start of 2016 Facebook expanded the reach of their network to include mobile websites, not just apps. This change better places Facebook e-commerce ads in front of more relevant audiences where they are browsing rather than in the middle of using an app to complete a task or eclipsing a high score!

 

Video

Facebook has been pushing video as a content source for engagement and it’s much the same for advertising, as the fastest growing format for e-commerce. Video ads have helped to lift conversion and increase return on ad spend.