Keep Your Umbrellas Near the Door
Picture the scene. You’re a small independent retailer with a shop on the high street. Outside, it starts raining heavily and you remember that you have a large stock of umbrellas in a bucket at the back of the shop. Any sensible shopkeeper in this instance would put a sign in the window advertising the availability of umbrellas and make sure he moved the items themselves to the front of the shop. This is the very basics of supply and demand; identifying trends and taking advantage of the situation. Running an online store is no different.
In the week after the London Riots of 2011, there was a 5000% increase in the sale of baseball bats online. Whilst this is one of the more worrying statistics, it shows that if you were a baseball bat salesman, you’d have been kicking yourself if you had missed out on that trend.
How to spot trends
So how do we identify these trends, after all, it doesn’t rain on the internet? Quite simply, we use the tool readily available to us all, Google Analytics. I talk to a lot of online traders in my profession and it still worries me how few of them embrace Google Analytics and the power it holds. Analytics doesn’t just tell you how many visits you’ve had, it’s your secret to good SEO and better conversions.
Here’s an example suggested by a colleague of mine. Your site sells shades and Russell Brand has been spotted and pictured wearing them by a gossip site. All of a sudden people are rushing to get the same shades as Russell, your traffic is up but you’re not converting. In this case, you could use Google Analytics to identify inbound links, landing pages, search terms and even your browser’s locality to get the best setup to convert. The shades in question can be made an example of and your price/delivery options adjusted accordingly.
Being an online trader is hard work and can take every hour of someone’s day just to process orders. We all hope to grow our businesses and identifying trends could be seen as a form of marketing. Follow blogs, news stories, the weather or whatever it is that’s relevant to your product and make sure those trends are not only identified, but tracked and optimised for.
As a high street retailer, you would never deliberately board up the front of your shop, with just a sign assuring your customers you are open. You advertise, and you use your window displays to draw people in. Online, to attract people in you need to use tools like social networks, message boards and blogs to alert people to your presence and then optimise for your traffic using analytics.
Make sure your umbrellas are indeed by your virtual door and if it rains, you’ll be home and dry.
If you’ve got some examples or additional advice, post a comment or message me on @benjamindyer.