Onboarding is a critical factor in the agency-client relationship. Successful onboarding will benefit you and your client since this is when you’ll be able to set the tone for the future of your project. If you can establish a solid foundation in the beginning, the rest will fall into place with ease.
eCommerce clients aren’t like your average brick and mortar shopkeepers. One major difference is that a corporate eCommerce client could potentially have hundreds of thousands of pages on their website where your gig for a local coffee shop might involve as little as 15-30 pages. It’s your job to create a process for client onboarding in situations like this where planning and communication are critical. Here’s what you need to think about when entering into a large-scale eCommerce contract.
Key Administrative Onboarding Factors
Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) vary greatly between brick and mortar vs eCommerce projects. So, when you add a new online store to your company’s list of KPI analytics responsibilities, the tools you use will likely differ from what you’re used to. From an administrative perspective, you may need to look at a few key points to start.
Sales are built through customer relationships, both virtual and hands-on. There may have been situations wherein you convinced your small business clients to invest in sales tracking through Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software. In all retail situations, CRM is helpful, but with small shops, it’s not always necessary.
Now that you’re in the game of eCommerce, CRM software is crucial. Which CRM platform will you be working in? Do you need to orient yourself and your team with new software? Who in your agency is best-suited to handle communication in the sales realm? Ask yourself these questions to get an idea where you’re headed.
Call Center Metrics
Your brick and mortar store probably never even had a call center. It’s likely that you posted the front desk phone number on the website, social media profiles, Google local listing, and Yelp in a “set it and forget it” fashion. Customer service was probably handled by whichever cashier was working that day. That changes drastically with eCommerce clients.
Now, you’ll need to establish a method for measuring call center performance through call center software. Your platform should include integrated reporting, call monitoring, and a management dashboard for making sense of the KPI metrics. Ideally, integrate your call center software with your CRM or “customer success” platform for optimal performance.
SEO Auditing and Online Marketing Analytics
SEO and online marketing will differ less between physical and online stores than sales and call centers. Still, the volume increase for your required duties could be overwhelming if you’re not used to it. So, realize that planning is monumental. You may run SEO, social media, and other audits before you ever sign a contract, and that’s great. Just know that you’re going to have to create, review, and share detailed SEO and marketing strategies with your client and your team, and they will likely involve more than just one initial audit in each area.
Rather than one strategy for a 15-30 page website with a client selling to in-person customers, you may end up with 15-30 campaign plans for a 10-100K page website serving unlimited customers. ECommerce marketing strategies sometimes involves separate campaigns for multiple products and product categories. If your client has 10K products in 50 categories, your planning will naturally be more detailed. Handle the process one step at a time, giving attention to each vital component.
Planning Your Content Creation Processes
eCommerce clients require a ton of content creation. Product images alone require photography, editing, hosting, ALT text, and that’s before optimizing the rest of the page! SEO for online stores factors into product images and descriptions as well as brainstorming content like blog posts, buyer’s guides, and about pages. And that’s only the beginning.
Aside from listing the inventory and linking to it, other eCommerce pages are paramount: privacy policies, registration and support pages, press and media kits, wholesale information, affiliate marketing information. The quality, relevance, and placement of your content will make or break sales success, so it needs to be handled carefully, and with a ton of communication – both internally with your team and with your client.
Imagine that you’ve assigned blog management to Johnny. Johnny has a great idea for a new promotion, so he includes a coupon code for 15% off of any order at the end of his post. The problem is that your client only ever wanted to include promotional codes in their email marketing. Now, you’ve run into a problem. So, aside from project delegation, you need to make sure that everyone working on the new project is aware of company policies.
Once everyone is informed of the guidelines for what kind of content to share, you need to look at how to share it. Do you want your product description writer to be in charge of image uploads as well? If so, should he process images in bulk, or one at a time as he’s writing the copy? Alternatively, do you want product images and descriptions created offline, then uploaded by a Content Management System (CMS) admin?
Search Engine Optimization for eCommerce
Just because you have a lot of pages doesn’t mean you’ll automatically rank for keywords with a ton of competition. So, there’s no need to try to rank for keywords like “sneakers” or “dog food.” Learn how SEO works for eCommerce before you dive in head-first using the same strategies that worked with previous clients (which probably included the names of local cities or even neighborhoods).
- Make sure that you understand the terms keywords, long tail keywords, search volume, and competition.
- Brainstorm your initial keyword list and use tools to help expand it.
- Use Google’s Keyword Planner to fine-tune your list.
- Make sure the search terms on your list are relevant.
- Do a Google search to find out who your competition is for each term.
The onboarding process for a new eCommerce project is going to require that you cover administrative details, content creation, SEO, and even more depending on the business. The volume of the work could be intimidating if this is your first time working on a project like this. Just remember to breathe and handle the project one step at a time.