With the internet dominating today’s markets and online shopping the norm among consumers, a successful website is essential for sales. Competition with big-name brands in the same sphere can make it difficult to stand out. However, it's far from impossible to create a name for yourself in the online retail world -- especially if you have the right marketing tools at your disposal.

We asked a group of entrepreneurs for their go-to tips for building or revamping an e-commerce business website that will catch the eye of consumers in an ever-growing market. Here's their best advice for growing your retail business in the long-term.

Choose an e-commerce software that will scale with you.

To run an e-commerce website, you'll need e-commerce software. To save money, you might consider going with the most affordable option with the bare minimum features you need right now. However, Nathalie Lussier, CEO of AccessAlly, advises against this.

"What money was saved during the setup ends up being spent many times over in time, trouble and eventually migrating to a better platform," Lussier explains. "Do research and pick a platform that will empower you to grow."

Have a robust content marketing strategy.

Every brand needs a strong content marketing strategy to generate organic inbound leads. As Rahul Varshneya, co-founder of CurveBreak, says, content and SEO help your brand be where its customers are and bring compounding returns.

"Landing page optimization that targets buy-intent, bottom of the funnel keywords and then getting them to rank via SEO ensures that your e-commerce website shows up in the relevant search results and organically drives revenue," adds Varshneya.

Build an email list.

Email marketing is notorious for its high return on investment, but in order to start leveraging it, you need to build an email list first.

"Whenever we ramp up a new campaign or launch a new e-commerce website, we find that having an engaged email list of at least 1,000 subscribers is the best way to build long-term growth," says Kristin Kimberly Marquet, founder of Marquet Media, LLC. "You own your email list and can deploy campaigns at your discretion."

Create a mobile-friendly shopping experience.

It's a well-known fact that more people than ever before access websites on their smartphones. Blair Williams, founder and CEO of MemberPress, says mobile e-commerce transactions are increasing too, so the most important thing a retailer can do is to optimize their site for mobile screens.

"Make payments easier by adding digital wallets and integrate other mobile-friendly features to drive up conversions," Williams says. "This will build customer loyalty as your site becomes easy to use."

Prioritize UX in your design.

Stephanie Wells, founder of Formidable Forms, says that if you create a website with a solid customer user experience (UX), you're almost guaranteed to drive more people to your website so they can purchase your products and services.

"Some business owners don't understand the value and necessity of a well-designed website that caters to users' needs," explains Wells. "This is essential for moving visitors down the conversion funnel and setting you up for success."

Display social proof.

You may be getting traffic to your e-commerce site, but that doesn't mean every website visitor will buy from you, says Thomas Griffin, co-founder and president of OptinMonster. That's why e-commerce brands need to display social proof on their website if they want to increase conversions.

"Use social proof like reviews, testimonials, user-generated content and the number of people that purchased and/or subscribed to your email list to encourage users to buy," Griffin says.

Learn to predict how your acquisition costs will change.

Unit economics are important for any business owner to understand. Reza Chowdhury, founder and CEO of AlleyWatch, says e-commerce brands must be able to predict how their paid acquisition costs will change over time as their strategy shifts from targeting "likely to buy" early adopters to the general public. 

"All too often, acquisition is looked at as scaling linearly, and that is never really the case," Chowdhury adds.

Continually provide value to your customers.

According to Karlo Tanjuakio, CEO and managing partner of GoLeanSixSigma.com, people buy from companies they receive value from. Value goes beyond your products, so use your e-commerce site to provide value in the form of education, customer service and other intangible elements.

"Consistently deliver value in any way that you can to build trust and relationships with your customers and you're paving a solid road to sustainable, healthy growth," says Tanjuakio.

Published on: Dec 17, 2019
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.