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The Ultimate Guide to Storytelling

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The Ultimate Guide to Storytelling

Storytelling is an art.

Not a process, method, or technique. And — like art — it requires creativity, vision, skill, and practice. Storytelling isn’t something you can grasp in one sitting, after one course. It’s a trial-and-error process of mastery.

Sounds like a lot of work, right? It is, and rightfully so because storytelling is a crucial part of the most successful marketing campaigns. It sets vibrant brands apart from simple businesses and loyal consumers from one-time, stop-in shoppers.

It’s also the heart of inbound marketing.

Storytelling is an incredibly valuable tool for you to add to your proverbial marketing tool belt. That’s why we’ve compiled this guide, to help you discover and understand storytelling and weave gorgeous, compelling tales for your audience.

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Pick up your pen, and let’s dive in.

Because storytelling can take so many forms, it can be a challenge to create a good story. Here are some quick do’s and don’ts to get you started:

Storytelling Do’s and Don’ts graphic

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The Art of Storytelling

Art of Storytelling graphic

Since the dawn of human language, storytelling has been how cultures pass on shared beliefs and values. Some of the stories told today come from stories our ancestors were sharing over 6,000 years ago.

Every person has a story, but the art of storytelling can make a story transformative. There are a few qualities that can push a basic story into the art of storytelling.

Narrative

While the setting will influence what a story can be, all great stories have a narrative, a spoken or written account of events.

For example, stand-up comics sometimes tell stories during a set. The structure, setting, and details of this narrative may not feel the same as they do in a Shakespeare play. But both storytellers are sharing a narrative.

Attention-Grabbing

But it’s not enough to just tell the story. The storytelling that resonates with people grabs their attention. There are many ways to grab and keep an audience’s attention in a story.

Creating suspense is one option. Stories that are full of mystery are interesting because of their unanswered questions. Surprising your audience is also a great way to pull readers in.

Another way to captivate your audience is to add details that bring your story to life. A popular way to describe this storytelling technique is “Show. Don’t tell.”

For example, say your company is launching a new product. In your story, you can share details about the moment your team came up with the idea. This is more exciting than telling your customers that you’re about to release the best new product. Talk about the roadblocks and small wins that led up to launch. This makes your audience feel like they’re part of your process.

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Interactive

Storytelling isn’t just the story that you tell. It’s also the way that your audience responds and engages. Some kinds of storytelling require the reader to take part in the story, like the Netflix interactive film Black Mirror: Bandersnatch.

But with most stories, the interaction comes from the relationship that the audience builds with the storyteller. Your audience might be a fan group for the latest Harry Potter movie. And your favorite storyteller could be a TikTok influencer.

That feeling of connection and interaction is essential to storytelling.

Imaginative

Many movies come from popular books. And it’s not unusual for viewers to rate the quality of a book-based movie on its ability to match what they imagined as they read the book.

When someone listens to storytelling they often run a picture show in their mind. This picture show can be incredibly detailed, including characters, setting, and events.

These imaginings often pull up memories for individual readers, or they might see their qualities in one of the story’s characters. No story is complete without the listener or reader adding these imaginative details on their own.

Telling a story is like painting a picture with words. While everyone can tell a story, certain people fine-tune their storytelling skills and become a storyteller on behalf of their organization, brand, or business. You might’ve heard of these folks — we typically refer to them as marketers, content writers, or PR professionals.

Every member of an organization can tell a story. But before we get into the how, let’s talk about why we tell stories — as a society, culture, and economy.

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Why Do We Tell Stories?

There are a variety of reasons to tell stories — to sell, entertain, educate or brag. We’ll talk about that below. Right now, I want to discuss why we choose storytelling over, say, a data-driven PowerPoint or bulleted list. Why are stories our go-to way of sharing, explaining, and selling information?

Here’s why.

Stories solidify abstract concepts and simplify complex messages.

We’ve all experienced confusion when trying to understand a new idea. Stories offer a way around that. Think about times when stories have helped you better understand a concept. Maybe your favorite teacher used a real-life example to explain a math problem. Maybe a preacher illustrated a situation during a sermon or a speaker used a case study to convey complex data.

Stories help solidify abstract concepts and simplify complex messages. Taking a lofty, non-tangible concept and relating it using concrete ideas is one of the biggest strengths of storytelling in business.

Take Apple, for example. Computers and smartphones are a pretty complicated topic to describe to your typical consumer. Using real-life stories, they’ve been able to describe exactly how their products benefit users. They use storytelling instead of relying on technical jargon that few customers would understand.

Stories promote and shape ideas.

Throughout history, people have used stories to promote cooperation and influence social behaviors. And there is scientific evidence that stories can change our behavior.

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This is because stories engage our emotions. So, even if you’re stressed out and overwhelmed, you can still connect with a story. That connection might lead you to be less critical about facts, less defensive, and more open to changing your ideas.

Data is powerful. But data without storytelling can result in confusion, frustration, and conflicts of opinion. This is because listening to stories engages different parts of the brain than data does.

When you tell a story, you’re asking someone to see a series of events from your perspective. The person listening to that story believes in the truth of what you’re saying.

If you’re good at storytelling, you might influence the future behavior of that person. And cultures often honor skilled storytellers. They appreciate brands that tell stories to promote wider societal values too, like this Ben & Jerry’s example in support of the People’s Response Act.

Storytelling example: Ben & Jerry’s

Stories bring people together.

Like I said above, stories are a universal language of sorts. We all understand the story of the hero, of the underdog, or of heartbreak. We all process emotions and can share feelings of elation, hope, despair, and anger. Sharing a story gives even the most diverse people a sense of commonality and community.

In a world divided by a multitude of things, stories bring people together and create a sense of community. Despite our language, religion, political preferences, or ethnicity, stories connect us through the way we feel and respond to them. Stories make us human.

Storytelling example: TOMS

TOMS is a great example of this. By sharing stories of both customers and the people they serve through customer purchases, TOMS has effectively created a movement that has not only increased sales but also built a community.

Stories inspire and motivate.

Stories make us human, and the same goes for brands. When brands get transparent and authentic, it brings them down-to-earth and helps consumers connect with them and the people behind them.

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Tapping into people’s emotions and baring both the good and bad is how stories inspire and motivate and eventually, drive action. Stories also foster brand loyalty. Creating a narrative around your brand or product not only humanizes it but also inherently markets your business.

Few brands use inspiration as a selling tactic, but ModCloth does it well. By sharing the real story of their business, ModCloth not only makes the brand relatable and worth purchasing, but it also inspires other founders and business owners.

Storytelling example: ModCloth

What makes a good story?

Words like “good” and “bad” are relative to user opinion. But there are a few non-negotiable components that make for a great storytelling experience, for both the reader and teller.

Good stories are:

  • Entertaining: Good stories keep the reader engaged and interested in what’s coming next.
  • Believable: Good stories convince the reader of their version of reality and make it easy to trust and engage.
  • Educational: Good stories spark curiosity and add to the reader’s knowledge bank.
  • Relatable: Stories remind readers of the people and places they know. They help their audience recognize patterns in the world around them.
  • Organized: Good stories follow a succinct organization that helps convey the core message and helps readers absorb it.
  • Memorable: Whether through inspiration, scandal, or humor, good stories stick in the reader’s mind.

How to Tell Great Stories

According to HubSpot Academy’s free Power of Storytelling course, there are three components that make up a good story — regardless of the story you’re trying to tell.

1. Characters

Every story features at least one character, and this character will be the key to relating your audience back to the story. This main character is often called the protagonist.

Your characters form the bridge between you, the storyteller, and the audience. If your audience can put themselves in your character’s shoes, they’ll be more likely to follow through with your call-to-action.

2. Conflict

The conflict is the lesson of how the character overcomes a challenge. Conflict in your story elicits emotions and connects the audience through relatable experiences. When telling stories, the power is in what you’re conveying and teaching. If there’s no conflict in your story, it’s likely not a story.

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3. Resolution

Every good story has a closing, but it doesn’t always have to be a good one. Your story’s resolution should wrap up the story, give context to the characters and conflict(s), and leave your audience with a call to action.

If you’re new to storytelling, there are a couple other elements you’ll want to think about as you build your first story.

4. Structure

Your plot is the structure of your storytelling.

A blog can have great writing and relatable characters. But if you don’t create a natural flow of events, your blog will confuse your reader.

Your “About” page on your website can run through the story of your business. But if you don’t break it into clear and useful segments, your site visitors might bounce before they get to the good part.

Plots don’t need to be in chronological order. There are many ways that you can experiment with the structure of your story.

But your story should have a beginning, middle, and end. This structure is familiar, so it makes your audience more comfortable and open to new information.

5. Setting

The context of your storytelling impacts how your audience takes in your story. The setting is more than where a story takes place. It’s how you can:

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  • Share the values and goals of your characters
  • Shift the tone of conversations and action
  • Make it easier to show instead of tell

For example, say you’re creating an ad campaign that features two main characters. One runs a small startup and the other works for a large enterprise. Where would it make sense for these two to meet up? How could their location impact the conversation?

Now that you know what your story should contain, let’s talk about how to craft your story.

The Storytelling Process

We’ve confirmed storytelling is an art. Like art, storytelling requires creativity, vision, and skill. It also requires practice. Enter: The storytelling process.

Painters, sculptors, dancers, and designers all follow their own creative processes when producing their art. It helps them know where to start, how to develop their vision, and how to perfect their practice over time. The same goes for storytelling – especially for businesses writing stories.

Why is this process important? Because, as an organization or brand, you likely have a ton of facts, figures, and messages to get across in one succinct story. How do you know where to begin? Well, start with the first step. You’ll know where to go (and how to get there) after that.

1. Know your audience.

Who wants to hear your story? Who will benefit and respond the strongest? To create a compelling story, you need to understand your readers and who will respond and take action.

Before you put a pen to paper (or cursor to word processor), do some research on your target market and define your buyer persona(s). This process will get you acquainted with who might be reading, viewing, or listening to your story. Understanding who your story is for will also offer crucial direction as you build out the foundation of your story.

2. Define your core message.

Whether your story is one page or twenty, ten minutes or sixty, it should have a core message. Like the foundation of a home, you need to set up your core message before moving forward.

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Is your story selling a product or raising funds? Explaining a service or advocating for an issue? What is the point of your story? To help define this, try to summarize your story in six to ten words. If you can’t do that, you don’t have a core message.

3. Decide what kind of story you’re telling.

Not all stories are created equal. To decide what kind of story you’re telling, figure out how you want your audience to feel or react as they read.

This will help you figure out how you’re going to weave your story and what goal you’re pursuing. If your goal is to:

Incite Action

Your story should describe how you completed a successful action in the past and explain how readers might be able to create the same kind of change. Avoid excessive, exaggerated detail or changes in the subject so your audience can focus on the action or change that your story encourages.

Tell Your Story

Talk about your genuine, humanizing struggles, failures, and wins. Today’s consumer appreciates and connects to brands that market with authenticity. Your storytelling should reflect your authentic self.

Convey Values

Tell a story that taps into familiar emotions, characters, and situations so that readers can understand how the story applies to their own life. This is especially important when discussing values that some people might not agree with or understand.

Foster Community or Collaboration

Tell a story that moves readers to discuss and share your story with others. Use a situation or experience that others can relate to and say, “Me, too.” Keep situations and characters neutral to attract the widest variety of readers.

Impart Knowledge or Educate

Tell a story that features a trial-and-error experience, so that readers can learn about a problem and how you found and applied a solution. Discuss alternative solutions too.

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4. Establish your call-to-action.

Your objective and call-to-action (CTA) are similar, but your CTA will establish the action you’d like your audience to take after reading.

What exactly do you want your readers to do after reading? Do you want them to donate money, subscribe to a newsletter, take a course, or buy a product? Outline this alongside your objective to make sure they line up.

For example, if your objective is to foster community or collaboration, your CTA might be to “Tap the share button below.”

5. Choose your story medium.

Stories can take many shapes and forms. Sometimes people read stories. Other times they watch or listen., Your chosen story medium depends on your type of story as well as resources, like time and money.

Here are four different ways you can tell your story:

Writing

Written stories take the form of articles, blog posts, or books. They’re mostly text and may include some images. Written stories are by far the most affordable, attainable method of storytelling as it just requires a free word processor like Google Docs or a pen and paper.

Speaking

You tell spoken stories in person, like in a presentation, pitch, or panel. TED talks are an example of spoken stories. Because of their “live”, unedited nature, spoken stories typically require more practice and skill to convey messages and elicit emotions in others.

Audio

Audio stories are spoken aloud but recorded — that’s what sets them apart from the spoken story. Audio stories are usually in podcast form, and with today’s technology, creating an audio story is more affordable than ever. (For great story-driven podcasts, check out The HubSpot Podcast Network.)

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Digital

Digital storytelling comes in a variety of media, including video, animation, interactive stories, and games. This option is by far the most effective for emotionally resonant stories and active, visual stories. This is why they can be expensive to produce. But don’t fret: video quality doesn’t matter as much as conveying a strong message.

6. Plan and structure your story.

You have an idea of what you want to include in your story, how you want to organize it, and what medium is best. If you were doing some creative writing, your next step might be to jump right into writing and work on the structure of your story later.

But while storytelling in marketing is creative, it also has a goal in mind. This means it may need a more structured process because every step from intro to CTA needs to meet a specific goal.

Your storytelling should ignite imagination and emotion no matter where you share it. But marketing storytellers are also tracking metrics once their story goes out into the world.

With this in mind, you may want to create a detailed outline of your story. You might develop storyboards, wireframes, or a PowerPoint presentation. These can help you stay focused as you craft your story. They can also help you keep your original vision of your story as you move through the approvals, meetings, and pitches that often come with business storytelling.

7. Write!

Now it’s time to put pen to paper and start crafting your story.

You’ve done a lot of work to get to this point. For many storytellers, this is the fun part. It can also be the hardest part because it can be tough to create on cue.

As of this writing, there are over 215,000,000 links on Google for the search “writer’s block.” If you feel stuck, you’re not alone. But help is on the way.

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You might want to check out some quotes about storytelling to get inspired. And these excellent tips for writer’s block can get you writing again if you feel stuck.

Remember, you’ve got this. Every person is a storyteller, and audiences aren’t just waiting for any old story. They want to hear from you.

7. Share your story.

Don’t forget to share and promote your story. Like with any piece of content marketing, creating it is only half the battle — sharing is how your audience can complete your story.

Depending on your chosen medium, you should definitely share your story on social media and by email. Promote written stories on your blog, Medium, or by guest posting on other publications. You can share digital stories on your website, YouTube, or a mobile app. While spoken stories are best conveyed in person, consider recording a live performance to share later.

The more places you share your story, the more engagement you can expect from your audience.

Storytelling Resources

Storytelling is a trial-and-error process, and no one tells a story perfectly on the first try. That’s why we’ve collected these resources to help you fine-tune your storytelling skills and learn more about the different ways you can tell a story.

For Writing

For Speaking

For Audio Stories

For Digital Storytelling

Start Telling Your Story

Storytelling is an art. It’s also a process worth learning for both your business and your customers. Stories bring people together and inspire action and response. Also, today’s consumer doesn’t decide to buy based on what you’re selling, but rather why you’re selling it.

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Storytelling helps you communicate that “why” in a creative, engaging way. You are a storyteller. So, pull together your ideas, find the right channel and tools, and share your story.

This post was originally published in November 2020 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

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MARKETING

Underused Tactics and Overlooked Metrics in E-Commerce

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Underused Tactics and Overlooked Metrics in E-Commerce

The author’s views are entirely his or her own (excluding the unlikely event of hypnosis) and may not always reflect the views of Moz.

There are plenty of impressive tactics or metrics that aren’t often discussed, not necessarily because they aren’t important, but because it’s easy to get locked into the rhythm of simply reporting on traffic and sales.

To change things up, let’s look into some other areas we can optimize to improve the organic performance of e-commerce websites, and some underrated but useful metrics that can help you report on that performance.

Tactics to optimize and measure your e-commerce website performance

Data scraping for SEO and analytics

Data scraping is very useful when you want to retrieve, or scrape, elements from a page for further analysis or optimization.

Most people know that you can scrape common webpage elements such as publication date, author name, or price, but what about more specific aspects of e-commerce websites, and what can we use them for? Product pages have unique attributes that you can scrape, such as “add to basket” type buttons or even product schema; below, I’ll talk about how you can scrape breadcrumb data.

Scraping the breadcrumbs

In short, breadcrumbs are a trail that shows users where they are in the structure of a website, and they are especially useful for navigation and internal linking.

By using crawling tools to scrape data from the breadcrumbs, you can have a more complete view of the site as a whole, and it allows you to identify any trends.

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Below, you can see that it’s possible to extract breadcrumb data as a series of values by using XPath, and setting this up as a custom field. This allows you to see the data as a separate field once a crawl is finished.

Evaluating your page templates

The typical page templates that you’d expect to see on an e-commerce site include:

  • Homepage

  • Information pages (e.g. about us, delivery information, terms and conditions)

  • Product pages

  • Category pages

  • Navigational landing pages

  • Blogs / guides

  • Payment / cart pages

  • Help/support area

A large e-commerce website may have a significant number of product and category pages. These are the pages that generate the most conversions and transactions, so it is tremendously helpful to know how you can break these down into more manageable chunks.

For a website with millions of pages, it is practically impossible to crawl the whole site; your crawler will run out of memory and space, or it could take weeks to finish, and that’s just not feasible for most of us. This is where segmentation comes in. Segmenting your website also allows you to focus on one area of the site before moving on to another. 

A common tactic for websites the size of Target or Tesco is to focus on one category per quarter, and then move on to another area of the site. It’s through segmentation that they’re able to do this.

Segmenting product pages

There are many different ways you can segment a website, and focusing on your products can help you start seeing improvements in revenue sooner than if you were to focus on other areas of the site. 

With product pages, a good tactic is to look for URL patterns, such as those that end in .html or contain /product/.

It’s also possible to get additional dimensions from your product pages by segmenting your products by their stock status. Separating pages by whether or not a product item is in stock or not can help you determine:

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  • How much traffic is going to out-of-stock products.

  • Whether availability and out-of-stock products are affecting product conversion rates.

  • Get a granular view of what page engagement metrics are affected by stock availability.

When scraping this data, you can look for specific on-page elements such as missing prices or an Unavailable / Out of Stock message on your pages.

Screenshot of Screaming Frog configuration menu.

One method of doing this would be to extract the product availability property from a site’s schema markup. If you’re using Screaming Frog, you can access the Custom Extraction feature in the Configuration dropdown under Custom > Extraction,and then set up your extraction rules.

Screenshot of Screaming Frog extraction list.

Segmenting category pages

Segmenting category pages allows you to find any categories that have hundreds of products and could benefit from being split into subcategories.

Category pages don’t always have specific URL patterns, and they differ from one CMS to another, but you can look out for those that contain /category/ or /shop/. Another good option is to look for unique attributes, such as those with text showing X of Y results or pages with options for sorting product results.

Structured data markup

We saw earlier that you could scrape pages for instances of product data to identify product pages. But before we move on, we need to ensure we understand what structured data or schema markup is and how it can benefit e-commerce websites.

Product markup

Product markup provides more information about your products directly in the SERPs when your audience searches for them. Product markup can also mean your products are more eligible for rich results, such as carousels, images, and other non-textual elements.

The product schema might look something like this:

Screenshot of product schema code.

Once added, product schema allows your audience to see valuable information about your products before they even land on your page, improving your CTR! We can see Walmart has added product schema to their products in the two examples below:

Screenshot of SERP with Walmart product listings.

Star ratings in search results

The more positive reviews your products have, the more likely customers will be to visit your website and buy your products, especially when compared to your competitors.

Star ratings can be pulled in from your product markup through third-party tools such as Trustpilot or Reevoo, or from on-page customer reviews.

Screenshot of SERP with Dell results that contain star reviews.

We see this when looking at these searches for Dell laptops. Realistically, which links are you more likely to click on as a customer: those with high star ratings or those with seemingly no rating at all?

Optimizing crawl budget for e-commerce

There will likely be pages on your website that are useful to existing customers, such as thank you pages after placing an order, logged-in account pages, etc. However, these pages won’t be the most important for new users looking to find you or your products on search.

It costs Google time and money to crawl our sites, so they need to budget accordingly. By managing this crawl budget, we guide search engines toward our most valuable and essential pages.

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Noindexing

We don’t need to index every page on our websites.

It’s entirely acceptable to meta-noindex or disallow certain pages in the robots.txt file — in fact, it’s expected. This is because indexing everything could mean that Google might not crawl all of our pages, so they might not index all of our content. This would be a problem, as it could mean some of our high-value, top-converting pages might not rank organically.

That said, we shouldn’t be noindexing vast chunks of an e-commerce website without proper research. By noindexing huge chunks, we’re missing out on the ranking potential for key search behavior, e.g. locations, product sizing, etc.

Use of URL parameters

As users or owners of e-commerce websites, we’re likely familiar with URL parameters. Common areas that we see these parameters include:

Faceted navigation pages and product sorting options are typically blocked in robots.txt files, but it’s a good idea to find out how many of those pages Google is still serving to searchers. We can do this in our chosen crawling tool by selecting the option to ignore robots.txt rules. Alternatively, you can segment landing page session data in Google Analytics by URLs with parameters to see how many of those parameter pages are being served to users. Then, the session data will be used to show how many visits those pages are getting.

It may seem counterintuitive to do this, but these pages tend not to have unique on-page content, as they will have duplicated titles, headings, or body content, which means you could be missing out on other, more essential pages ranking for relevant keywords.

Measuring site speed across templates

With large e-commerce websites, it doesn’t make sense to simply test one or two pages and take that as a site speed reading across the entire website. Each page template is built differently. One type of page can load faster than another — even if all other test parameters are the same.

Testing site speed across multiple page templates

As discussed earlier, there are many different template types that can make up a successful website. Testing a selection of pages from each of these templates is recommended to get the best picture of the load time performance of your site.

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An excellent way to do this is through using the PageSpeed Insights API and connecting it to Screaming Frog or using cloud tools such as OnCrawl or Site Bulb, which will test the speed of each page on your website as it crawls.

To do this in Screaming Frog, go to “Configuration”. In “API Access”, select “PageSpeed Insights”, and there you will see fields to include the API key.

Screenshot of PageSpeed Insights Account Information menu.

Once done, in the “Metrics” section, you can select both the device that you want to track and the reports, metrics, etc., that you are interested in extracting page speed information. In the example below, we have selected Crux Data and TTFB (Time to First Byte) and LCP and FCP data. Although the crawl may take longer to complete, this information should now appear alongside the URLs in the final crawl.

Screenshot of PageSpeed Insights metrics menu.

Choosing your testing location

There are various tools you can use to test your site speed, such as PageSpeed Insights, WebPageTest, and GTmetrix, and most of these do allow you to set your testing location.

It’s important to test your e-commerce site from a location close to where your data centre is located (where your website is hosted), as well as one that is further away. Doing this lets you get an idea of how your real customers are experiencing your store.

If you have a CDN installed, such as Cloudflare, this is also useful, as it allows you to see how much of an impact the CDN is having on your website and how it helps your site load more quickly.

Wherever you decide to test from, remember to keep these locations the same each time you test so you can get accurate results.

Understanding caching and how it influences site speed

If your e-commerce website has caching installed, it’s even more important to test your pages more than once. This is because, on the first test, your page may not have loaded over the cache yet. Once it does, your results will likely be much faster than what you saw on your first test.

With or without caching installed, I would recommend testing each page template around three times for both mobile and desktop devices to get a good measurement and then calculate the average..

Common e-commerce website mistakes

Understanding the common problems that e-commerce websites make is valuable for learning how to avoid them on your own website, as the reasons some tactics remain underused come down to these errors.

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Faceted navigation for e-commerce

Whatever your e-commerce site sells, it should be easy to navigate, with sensible menus and navigation options that clearly tell visitors what they will see when they click.

Screenshot of boohoo faceted navigation menu.

You can see this on the Boohoo website, a prominent fashion retailer in the UK. This image shows the women’s dresses navigation, but you can see how it is broken down by type of dresses, dresses by occasion, colour, how they fit, and even by current fashion trends. Users are able to navigate directly to the subcategories they need.

Good website architecture matters

The importance of good architecture cannot be underestimated and should be centered around the core actions you want people to complete. Ideally, it would be best if you attempted to set up a site with the homepage, followed by the subsequent categories, subcategories, and then the products underneath.

Illustration of website structure layers.

Boohoo has followed this same ideology with their architecture — as trends change and new lines of dresses are added, they can quickly expand and edit the architecture as needed.

Keeping it simple and scalable is the key to setting up good architecture. As your store grows, you will likely add more categories and products, so you need to be able to do this efficiently. You should attempt to keep important pages less than three clicks from the homepage and implement keyword research processes to create highly relevant page URLs and subdirectories.

You want people to buy your products, so don’t make it difficult for them. You can then have other areas on the site for content silos and blogs that link to the various categories and products around the site.

Creating effective product pages

The product page design shouldn’t detract from the shopping experience, and the product information should be as “friendly” and accessible as possible.

Try to use the product information you have available in your Product Information Management (PIM) system. Ensure that your sizes, measurements, colors, prices, and other details are easy to find, read, and understand. These details are even more vital if you happen to sell products that others also offer. If you’re not including any sizes, but your competitors are, you’re increasing your chances that potential customers can choose to buy from them instead. If you’re targeting multiple countries, consider whether you need to include your measurements in imperial, metric, or both. Information should be localized where relevant.

Some top ways to ensure you always include enough information and avoid thin content on your product pages are to:

  1. Start with a 50-100 word introduction: Think about what the product does and who needs it? One way to do this can be seen in the example from Apple below.

  2. List the critical features and technical specifications in bullet format.

  3. Include a “deep dive” section: Write a detailed product description with use cases, relevant awards the product may have won, benefits of the product, images of the product in use, and any FAQs.

  4. Make use of user-generated content such as customer photos and reviews.

  5. End with a 50-100 word conclusion: Summarize the product and use a call to action to encourage your customers to make the purchase.

Screenshot of Apple Watch product listing.

Including enough information can be the difference between whether or not you make the sale or whether a customer purchases from a competitor.

Utilizing FAQ content to sell more products

People undoubtedly have questions about your products. If customers can’t find the answers they need on your website, they’ll search elsewhere. They’re likely to buy from that website when they find the answers.

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You can rectify this by having a general FAQ section on your website. This is where you would answer questions about website security, shipping and return policies, etc. When it comes to product-specific questions, these should be answered on the product pages themselves.

The need to monitor out-of-stock products

There can be many reasons why a product is out of stock, yet the page is still live on an e-commerce site, including:

Ultimately, out-of-stock products can lead to customer frustration. Unsatisfied customers and a poor user experience — on top of the SEO implications of so many unuseful pages — result in fewer purchases and, ultimately, a poor-performing e-commerce store.

In summary

There are many ways that the performance of an e-commerce website can be optimized and analyzed, and these are just a few. While they may be less common, they can allow you to get additional data, which, once acted upon accordingly, can help you to outperform others in your market.

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