It's Your Website, Stupid!

By David Berry: There’s been an ongoing seismic shift in the apparel industry, and at its center is ecommerce. Whether you’re an agency or a business owner, it comes as no surprise: big brick and mortar retailers are losing space to niche brands that are agile and focused on serving any number of growing consumer needs. So as the Macy’s and Victoria’s Secrets of the world are closing their doors, hundreds of smaller brands are popping up in the virtual world to take their place. Ecommerce start-up costs are low (relatively), and with the advent of dropshipping, there’s at least the appearance of ease-of-entry into the space.

So you launch your ecommerce brand. You’re armed with a handful of unique designs and items you believe in, with a small arsenal of beautiful images to share your brand with the world. Sweet. “Time to turn on some Facebook and Instagram ads and let the money pour in!” you say.

And…the results are underwhelming. Even after weeks and months of optimizations and doing all of the ‘right things,’ you’re still not converting sales at a level that justifies the investment. Why? Your Click Through Rate (CTR) is strong. Your ad relevance score is high. Your audiences are data-driven. You’re even getting a favorable Add to Cart Ratio.

But they’re not buying! Whyyyyyyyy?

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Well, it’s your website, stupid! Okay, I mean ‘stupid’ in the nicest of ways. But here’s the thing—advertisers can only do so much if your site isn’t conducive to converting sales online. Imagine having a few amazing items for sale in a physical store that go great together, but you put them in completely different sections of the store. Some brands do the equivalent of that on ecommerce sites by making it hard to buy items together.

Or imagine that the look and feel of your store inside looks more like a Dollar Tree, but the outside of your store looks like a Williams Sonoma. There might be a disconnect, but yet again, several brands make the mistake of focusing only on high quality imagery in their ads, but don’t create a uniform look and feel through the whole ecommerce experience in the online store.

Here’s an example of two online apparel clients that we run ads for. Both sell products in different categories, but at very similar price points. The first three metrics are Facebook ad metrics. The next three are Shopify metrics.

What you see is this. Client ‘YOU’ has much lower Cost Per Add to Cart and Cost Per Purchase, but when it comes to converting those ads on the Shopify site, client ‘YOU’ closes a sale 43% less often than client ‘THEM.’ And this comes down to the on-site user experience. One site is much easier to navigate than the other. Client ‘THEM’ makes numerous recommendations for purchases that are often made in tandem, and they provide a high volume of images that help a prospective shopper see products from all angles too, so you know what you’re getting into.

The difference shows.

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So before you say “advertising doesn’t work!” remember—ads can drive someone to your website. But it can’t help them navigate it. Get your website in order, and with a strong ad campaign, you’ll finally see that cash register start to ‘ding.’