ecommerce website optimization customer retention

3 Ecommerce Website Optimization Goals to Make 2016 Your Most Profitable Year Ever

by Jenna Compton
December 10, 2015

Planning to improve your ecommerce performance for 2016 is simple.

It’s easy to get overwhelmed with all the different areas you can improve on your site, but your overall conversion rate (sales) will improve if you focus on these 3 simple goals:

Let’s look at each of these 3 goals in-depth to better understand why each is important and how you can apply them to your ecommerce website optimization strategy.

Goal 1: Outrank Your Competition

Don’t fool yourself by thinking SEO is a thing of the past. It is very much alive and is arguably more important than ever.



Your visitors are engaging with content more, and in more ways than was possible several years ago thanks to the proliferation of smartphones and the increased accessibility people have to your content.

Since you probably have an online store with many products, you have an opportunity to capitalize on becoming a site recognized by search engines as having valuable content if you leverage multimedia.

“Multimedia helps you boost those user-interaction signals that Google has been paying more attention to. And it increases the perceived value of your content: which means that people are more likely to link to it.” (source)

Your store has many places you can optimize for SEO. Product descriptions, product reviews, product videos, blog content, an active social community, the list goes on and on.

For example, let’s take product descriptions.

A product description is indexed, just like any other piece of content. BigCommerce gives a good example of an effective ecommerce product description from men’s clothing company, Criquet:

optimize your ecommerce product descriptions

[image via Bigcommerce]

In their descriptions, Criquet uses a short paragraph, a bulleted list for people who may be “scanners” and not readers, a product video, and various product photo carousels to give their user a thorough glimpse of what they are buying.

To optimize your own ecommerce product content, we recommend reviewing Neil Patel’s 3 simple rules for creating maximum SEO value from your product descriptions:

  1. Only write unique, high-quality descriptive content for your products that will guide customers in making purchasing decisions.
  2. Avoid duplicate content. Don’t copy content from other stores, comparison sites, manufacturers, or affiliate networks. Otherwise, Google will penalize your site.
  3. If you have to copy product descriptions from manufacturers to use on some of your product pages, consider adding the NO INDEX meta tag so that Google will ignore those pages.

Evaluate which type of media. Product titles and descriptions are an easy fix, but photos and video require more planning. Pick one media you don’t currently have and do it well.

Related: The Ecommerce SEO Stack: 7 Must-Have Tools to Increase Your Ecommerce Rankings

Goal 2: Reach Customers Through a New Channel

Businesses that successfully employ a consistent cross-channel marketing strategy enjoy a 14.6% year-over-year increase in annual revenue and a 13% annual improvement in customer retention rates. (source)

Digging into your data and learning about your customers is one of the most valuable exercises you can do. Do you know where your repeat customers live? Do you know the age range of your most engaged customers?

Imagine if you could combine the two: high engagement & repeat purchases.

For example, let’s look at Gapkids and how they’re leveraging their Instagram account to increase sales:

I was recently browsing through my Instagram feed and saw this post from @gapkids:

A photo posted by GapKids (@gapkids) on

I immediately engaged with this photo as it seemed “original” to me, and not crafted by the brand in a planned photo shoot. It was obviously a sponsored photograph, but a genuine moment from a real person.

The bear suit was cute, and I wanted to buy it.

It was perfect timing, as I was in a dilemma as to what I was going to gift my baby nephew for Christmas. I clicked the link in their bio and was taken to a shoppable Instagram feed which featured the same images posted. Now in the new window, I clicked on the photo I wanted to shop and was then re-directed to the Gap Kids website where all items tagged “bear” were shown. (Instagram does not allow direct linking – only one link is allowed in the user’s bio.)

ecommerce social selling example instagram gap kids

I simply found the baby bear suit I wanted and ordered it! The process was surprisingly seamless, so kudos to Gap and their optimization of social selling.

If you want to implement something similar for your ecommerce business, there are a couple of options worth checking out:

  • Soldsie: an Instagram conversion tool used by brands like O.P.I. and Nylon Magazine use it to increase revenue from Instagram.
  • Like2Buy: the Instagram conversion tool used by Gap Kids in my example above. Other brands using this solution include Anthropologie, Williams Sonoma & Forever21.

Obviously, this is an example of developing Instagram as a new channel and leveraging it as a revenue generator. If you don’t have a large following – or more importantly – a qualified following on Instagram, don’t waste your time.

Developing and integrating with a new channel for 2016 should only be done in a space where your data tells you that it makes sense.

Review your analytics.

Put your numbers down on paper.

Call in your marketing team and discuss. You might find that you’ve missed out on selling to a huge number of potential customers because you haven’t opened up the right channel yet.

Related: How To Generate High Customer Engagement Like Birchbox & Bevel

Goal 3: Dial-In Your Ecommerce Mobile UX

The conversation around mobile selling is no longer focused on implementing a better mobile design for your online store. In 2016, that will be a no-brainer.

how to optimize your ecommerce mobile website

The focus has now shifted to optimizing your mobile user experience (UX) because you absolutely should have a functioning mobile site in place. If you don’t yet, let’s talk so you can understand why this was your biggest oversight of 2015.

Optimizing your mobile UX is kicked-off by asking one question:

“Can my customer easily purchase a product from their mobile device?”

At Blue Stout, we like to turn our client’s focus in optimization to their mobile checkout process. When this process becomes complicated, your customer usually gets frustrated and abandons their cart. Sale lost. 60% of shoppers fail to complete a purchase because of a point of difficulty during checkout.

And Google’s advice on the matter? Their #1 recommendation for improving your mobile site is to “stop frustrating your customers.”

Easier said than done, right?

ecommerce checkout ux design 5-6 steps

[image via credit: Smashing Magazine]

Get started on optimizing your mobile checkout process by counting the number of steps it actually takes to complete a purchase. The ideal number is around 5 – 6. If you have more than that, it’s time to reconsider what steps you can remove or consolidate to speed up and simplify the buying process.

User Testing recently conducted a study of mobile checkout processes and found that participants responded well to Sephora’s mobile checkout UX:

ecommerce mobile checkout optimization example Sephora

[image via User Testing]

Feedback from one participant on this particular mobile checkout UX was positive, and the majority saying the process was seamless:

“Everything autofilled and showed up really quickly and bold. The layout was the easiest and didn’t feel like I was having to do a whole bunch of things to buy.” – Female test participant, 37, United States

Looking forward to next year, you need to reassess this process on your ecommerce website. People want to give you their money, so why make it difficult?

2016 Is The Year to Scale Your Ecommerce Business

Making even small improvements in any of these areas will put your company on track for revenue growth.

In thinking about these optimization goals, don’t just talk the talk. The difference in companies that successfully scale and those that plateau is execution.

What are your ecommerce optimization goals for 2016? Let us know in the comments below!

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Jenna Compton Jenna is our Director of Marketing and provides regular contributions to the blog. When she's not reading about business, she can be found running, drinking good coffee, and fiddling with projects.
  • Ty

    Hi Jenna,

    As usual, great post. Love the examples, especially the one about reaching customers in new channels (maybe through the “cool” social networks – Instagram, Snapchat, Periscope, Meerkat, etc.). We wrote something about new channels in a post this past summer on 20 new places to sell your products (not Amazon or eBay)

    • Jenna Compton

      Thanks, Ty! I was quite surprised looking through your article to see Mercado Libre – I recently returned to the U.S. after 2 years in Argentina and that was, by far, the tech company that was growing rapidly in the country. A bit different setup than Craigslist, but it truly works well for anyone living in Buenos Aires or surrounding areas. Thanks for sharing!

  • IMT

    Hello Jenna,

    Nice article. We like your insights about the ecommerce website optimization. “Dial-In Your Ecommerce Mobile UX” is the good viewpoint. Right 2016 Is the year to scale your ecommerce business.

    In 2016, We will see responsive ecommerce store plus companion mobile app to boost profits and connect to potential buyers. We will also see Augmented Reality coming to picture to change the entire buying experience to purchase through smartphone.

    Please browse this ecommerce solution which can help any retailers to increase sales and profits –

    • Jenna Compton

      Hi IMT,

      Glad you enjoyed the article!

      I agree that boosting sales with a mobile app can certainly help a business, but it needs to make sense with their business strategy. App development initiatives don’t fit for everyone.

      What ecommerce owners can’t deny is the necessity of a well-functioning mobile site which we’ve written about before here, too:

      Thanks for reading!