5 Resolutions for Ecommerce Merchants

A New Year's resolution is a commitment to doing something differently, typically better, than the previous year.


The challenge in making a resolution, however, is keeping it. Oftentimes people pick broad resolutions and set themselves up for failure. For example, making a resolution to "lose weight" is a lot different than making a resolution to exercise for at least 30 minutes a day. This is because losing weight is a process that takes time, and it is easy to get discouraged when there is a lack of immediate results. Conversely, making a commitment to 30 minutes of exercise is a lot more manageable, which can make losing weight seem like an easier feat.


The same rules apply to professional resolutions. While it is tempting to make broad resolutions, such as "improving social", it is a better idea to create more targeted and actionable resolutions. Consider the five below as a starting point:


1. Clean Up Email Lists


An Experian Marketing Services report released back in March shows that enterprises aren't only sending more email messages, but also generating more revenue from this channel. To get the best performance from your email campaigns in the New Year, however, it is important to take some time to clean up your list and customer segments. In fact, a large list with unresponsive subscribers can actually do more harm than good, because deleted or ignored messages have the potential to negatively impact a brand's sender reputation. Email marketers can start by removing contacts whose emails have bounced back or who haven't shown up in recent opening reports. In addition to cleaning up email lists, marketers should also focus on sprucing up their segmentation and targeting strategies in 2014, as this will result in more relevant messages for subscribers. For tips on how to create a more impactful campaign, check out Website Magazine's "10 Habits of Highly Effective Email Marketers." 


2. Increase Security


The 'Net saw some high-profile hacks in 2013, which brought the topic of online security to the forefront of many conversations. In order for merchants to keep their digital properties secure in the New Year it is vital that they enlist the help of some of the Web's top security platforms, such as TRUSTe and Trustwave. In addition to security solutions, merchants should conduct security scans throughout 2014 and have their sites prepared for potential issues by putting recovery tools in place. Discover more ways to make your site safe with Website Magazine's contributed article from 1&1, "Taking Security to the Next Level."


3. Take the Social Focus off Facebook


The majority of Internet retailers have some sort of social marketing strategy, but in 2014 it is time to take the focus off of Facebook and share some of the social love to newer networks. Pinterest, for example, had a huge year in 2013. Not only did the pin boarding social network introduced features that are beneficial to retailers in particular (Rich Pins and Price Updates), but it also began testing advertising options. Merchants need to make their sites Pinterest friendly in 2014, as well as keep an eye on the social network's updates in the New Year, because Pinterest is proving to be a very influential shopping tool. In fact, a recent Piqora study reveals that pins generate 78 cents in sales on average. In addition to Pinterest, merchants should consider embracing other social platforms, like Instagram and Snapchat, if they haven't already. Both of these social platforms saw growth in 2013, which is expected to continue into 2014.


4. Be Tax Ready


The Marketplace Fairness Act is currently in limbo, but it won't stay there forever. This is why merchants should be prepared in the case that it passes. Although some ecommerce shopping carts include tax tables that allow merchants to enter tax rates manually, it might be a better idea to simply implement one of the service providers that has already been certified by the Streamlined Sales and Use Tax Agreement governing board, such as Enterprise TaxTools, AvaTax, SpeedTax, Exactor, TaxCloud and Taxware.


5. Test


When it comes to the digital world, merchants are always told they need to "optimize" for the user-experience. But the word optimize is so broad that it can leave merchants feeling overwhelmed.  So instead of making a resolution to optimize, merchants are better off making a commitment to test. By running tests on a continuous basis, merchants and their teams will be able to improve the performance of their digital properties and marketing strategies over time, based on factual data. After all, consumer preferences change as often as the weather, but continuous testing will allow merchants to change with those preferences. To get started with your testing initiatives, take a look at Website Magazine's "Master List of Testing Tools."