With growing consumer confidence in online shopping and trading, and legislation to regulate and protect ecommerce businesses, it is becoming more attractive to launch an ecommerce business and carve out success online. The 2018 Irish Online Economy report showed revenue at Irish ecommerce sites grew by 45% – a trend that looks set to continue for some time yet.
With so many ecommerce businesses out there, you will be wondering how to make sure your company stands out – and that you start bringing in revenue as soon as possible. There is a plethora of information available out there, and it can be overwhelming to know where to look. We’ve sourced the best guidance on offer to help you launch your successful ecommerce business in Ireland this year.
Sort out the paperwork first
It’s tempting to leave the so-called ‘boring’ tasks to later in the process, but don’t – get your company name registered, set up your business bank account, register for tax purposes and confirm the legal status of your company. Some recommend you don’t incorporate too early for tax purposes, but it’s always best to seek professional advice tailored to your situation.
Make sure you choose and secure your domain name, and register for barcodes and SKUs for all the products you have. Take this advice from a successful ecommerce business in Ireland and don’t learn the same lessons they did the hard way!
Choose the right CMS software
To ensure your visitors – and, hopefully, future customers – get a great user experience (UX), you need to make sure the website software you choose is right for your business. You will need to consider the scale of your business in the short and long-term, security requirements, data storage and usage, marketing and the kind of experience visitors should have browsing your site.
Ultimately, your website must be light and streamlined to ensure fast site speed. Google estimates that 53% of website visits are abandoned if a page takes longer than 3 seconds to load!
With WordPress usage at an all-time high (and growing) as the choice of 26.6% of the top million websites on earth, it really is the obvious choice for most entry-level businesses, but naturally different business needs require different systems.
Make sure your site works well on mobile
You will also want to ensure your site is mobile-friendly, given how frequently we use our phones and tablets to purchase and browse online. Google is set to release a hugely important update to their algorithm this year – the mobile-first index – meaning Google will crawl and index the mobile version of your site first and foremost, and use that to determine whether you deserve to rank in search results for keywords your prospective customers are searching for when shopping online. Without a mobile-friendly site, it’s likely you will struggle to generate the traffic you are looking for – and without traffic there are no sales!
Image source: Pixabay (Free to use without attribution)
Make your checkout process user-friendly
You don’t want potential customers getting agitated with the checkout process and ultimately abandoning their purchases. Avoid this by limiting the number of steps a customer has to go through to make their purchase – for example, eliminate the need for them to set up an account. Make it as streamlined and simple as possible, with as few screens to click through as is practical. Users will remember having a great experience on your site and come back to shop again if the process is simple and user friendly.
An integrated marketing strategy
A business is almost non-existent without an effective, clear and streamlined marketing strategy. Integration is key to success when it comes to digital marketing. Your SEO should focus on keywords that convert in AdWords and pull ideas for your meta titles and descriptions from ad text that converts well. Your AdWords remarketing should target your email database and social followers as they have a higher likelihood to convert. Your social ads should retarget visitors who have come to your site through organic and paid traffic with dynamically generated images of products they looked at while on your site. The list of ways your marketing efforts can be synergetic is endless and will save you a lot of advertising euro!
It can be overwhelming and daunting to run and market a business from scratch. But with the right skills and qualifications behind you, it can be exciting. It’s a good idea to get an entry level qualification in digital marketing, with some of the very best course options available right here in Ireland from the world-renowned Digital Marketing Institute, headquartered in Dun Loaughaire.
Investing the time and effort into upskilling your digital skills in a fast-paced, comeptitrive eCommerce sector is a guaranteed step in the right direction to help give you the skills and confidence required to develop a well-rounded understanding of what makes a great ecommerce site and UX, how to develop a marketing strategy, and how each marketing channel feeds into the other.
Wolfgang Shine on the European Stage
Last week saw the 2017 edition of the annual European Search Awards take place in Krakow, this sixth year of the awards ceremony dedicated to awarding stand out examples of digital marketing excellence across the Continent.
This year saw an unprecedented showing among a number of Irish agencies, who were impressively represented on the evening and in a glowing testament to the state of digital here in Ireland, were fortunate enough to have collected a couple of gongs on behalf of their innovative client campaigns. Let’s take a look at how the Irish fared in Poland.
The European Search Awards
In their sixth year, the European Search Awards celebrate the very best in European SEO (Search Engine Optimisation), PPC (Pay Per Click), Social Media Marketing and Content Marketing across 29 categories. The awards are widely considered among some of the most rigorously judged competitions of their kind. All shortlisted entries come through a robust two-step judging process, a process overseen by an influential and respected international judging panel.
Irish agencies win 4 European awards
Ireland was very well represented in the competition this year, with five digital marketing agencies featuring in the Krakow finals. Wolfgang Digital featured in a record 14 categories with a total of 16 nominations in the competition. The Dublin-based performance marketing agency has a great track record in Europe, with the victory this year marking a third consecutive ESA win.
— Wolfgang Digital (@WolfgangDigital) May 3, 2017
They went on to bring home two awards on the night, the first of which was the ‘Best Use of Search’ in the Financial sector for their ‘SERP Domination’ entry with Zurich Life. Later, they were crowned ‘Best Integrated Campaign’ for their work, ‘A Fresh Full Funnel Fashion Campaign’, carried out with Littlewoods Ireland.
CEO, Alan Coleman, cites their “cross-channel” approach to campaigns and working with “long-term clients” as their key to success.
Starcom Ireland also enjoyed European success at this year’s ESAs. Nominated in 2 categories, it was their campaign, ‘Winning Fastest Growing Lottery in Europe’, that brought home the award for ‘Best Use of Search’ in Gaming with National Lottery Ireland.
— Starcom Ireland (@WeAreStarcom) April 27, 2017
A strong European presence
While that concluded the Irish winners on the night, there were other strong contenders throughout the competition. Mediaworks earned four nominations including ‘Best Small Integrated Agency’. VROOM Digital were nominated for the ‘Best Use of Search’ in Travel with the Sandymount Hotel and Mediavest were up for the ‘Best Mobile Campaign’ with Ulster Bank.
While Thursday night represented a historic night for Irish sport, with Dundalk FC securing the first ever Europa League group stage win for an Irish football team, Wednesday, September 28th also saw Ireland reach an unprecedented landmark, albeit on the digital side of things.
The second annual Search Engine Land Awards, which look to highlight the world’s very best digital search campaigns, were held in New York City on Wednesday night, with no less than three Irish firms in contention for top awards at the ceremony which is affectionately referred to as “The Landies”. Seeing as no Irish company had ever won a Landy Award before, there was a cautious optimism in the air on the night.
As reported previously by the IIA, the Irish 2016 Search Engine Land nominees were:
- Littlewoods Ireland– Best Integration of Search into Cross-Channel Marketing
- com– Best Overall SEM Initiative – Small Business
- Wolfgang Digital– Agency of the Year – SEM
The night got off to a great start from an Irish perspective, with McElhinney’s, a family owned fashion retailer based in Donegal, picking up the gold for Best Small Business SEM Initiative, making them the first ever Irish company to win a Landy. Their alone time in the spotlight did not last long, however, with online department store Littlewoods Ireland picking up the award for Best Integration of Search into Cross-Channel Marketing soon after, making it two for two for the Irish contestants.
Unfortunately, a historic hat trick was not to be, as Dublin-based digital marketing agency Wolfgang Digital narrowly missed out on winning Agency of the Year. There was however, plenty of reason for Wolfgang to celebrate, as it was they who implemented the successful search campaigns for both Littlewoods Ireland and McElhinney’s.
Speaking at the awards ceremony, Alan Coleman, Wolfgang Digital CEO, was in upbeat mood, and had the following to say in relation to the wins:
“We’re thrilled with the wins. At Wolfgang Digital we’re a little bit different. Our organisational structure is our own construct. We’ve created very different policies on recruitment and ongoing training than are typical in the industry – we also have our own philosophy on effective client-communications. We believe these differences yield better digital marketing. We’ve enjoyed a wild run of international award wins this year. I see it as a powerful validation of the Wolfgang approach to digital marketing that judging panels in Ireland, the UK, Europe and now the US rate our output as the best.”
Wolfgang Digital, Littlewoods Ireland and McElhinney’s have been doing extremely well in terms of this year’s search engine marketing awards season, with all three of them representing at the Drum Search Awards which took place in June. Littlewoods Ireland were the big winners on that night, securing the highly coveted Grand Prix Award which represents the “best in show” as far as campaigns are concerned.
The finalist nominations for the 2016 Search Engine Landy Awards were formally announced yesterday, with no less than three Irish websites securing places among the prestigious competition’s grand finals.
The Landys, now in their second year of competition, are a worldwide search awards which recognise the very best digital search marketing campaigns from around the world over the course of the past year. With over 200 entries on the awards’ long list, the competition was of an exceptionally high standard this year. The fact that Irish websites could so much make the long list, let alone the final short list, speaks volumes in terms of Ireland’s ability to ‘punch above its weight class’ in terms of the world of digital marketing.
The Irish websites to receive Landy finalist nominations are as follows:
Littlewoods Ireland – Best Integration of Search into Cross-Channel Marketing
This award signifies a website which has worked wonders in terms of combining paid search with organic search (SEO) to produce tremendous results. In Littlewoods Ireland’s case, their success was underpinned by record levels of search-based traffic and conversions during the Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Christmas periods, cementing their position as Ireland’s largest e-commerce website.
McElhinneys.com – Best Overall SEM Initiative – Small Business
McElhinneys found themselves fighting for attention in a highly competitive market space alongside some really high profile competitors, so knew they’d have to be smarter than the competition if they were to succeed. Through innovative use of custom audiences, custom AdWords scripts and a highly focused keyword strategy, they have been able to thrive in the online markets of both Ireland and the UK.
Wolfgang Digital – Agency of the Year – SEM
While widely considered to be one of Ireland’s leading digital marketing agencies, it would be hard not to consider Dublin-based Wolfgang Digital to be plucky underdogs at this year’s Landys, given the scale of the event. The fast-growing Wolfgang are not without form when it comes to upsetting the apple cart though, having already won top prizes at the DMAs, Drum Search Awards and European Seach Awards in the past year.
The trio of Irish websites have been doing quite well in terms of this year’s search engine marketing awards season, with all of them representing at the Drum Search Awards which took place in June. Littlewoods Ireland were the big winners on that day, securing the highly coveted Grand Prix Award. Can the Irish sites pull another rabbit out of the hat?
The Search Engine Landy Awards take place in New York City on the 28th of September. The full list of finalists can be viewed here.
The Drum Search Awards, which seek to recognise the very best internet based businesses from both Ireland and the UK, take place later today (June 8th). These awards focus on the two main disciplines of search marketing, SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) and PPC (Pay Per Click), choosing from the year’s very best digital marketing campaigns.
As was the case in the European Search Awards, which took place in May, Irish entries are well represented at the Drum Search Awards. Among the big prizes handed out to Irish business on that night were “Best Use of Search for Retail” (Brown Thomas), Best Integration of Search and Social” (iClothing) and “Best Small PPC Agency” (Wolfgang Digital) as Ireland received four first placed trophies, the second most of any nation (bested only by the UK).
For the 2016 Drum Search Awards, Ireland finds itself looking to improve upon its European Search Awards haul, with no less than six award nominations in total. Many of the companies which represented Ireland at the European Search Awards find themselves on the Drum bill as well, including McElhinneys, iClothing and Littlewoods Ireland. This signifies that their European success was no fluke as their respective works and campaigns have been independently recognised by several respected judging bodies.
Irish internet based businesses have been nominated for the following Drum Search Awards:
- Best Integrated Strategy or Campaign: Littlewoods Ireland
- Best Use of Technology in a Search Campaign: Brown Thomas
- Most Innovative Search Campaign (SEO & PPC): McElhinneys
- Best Use of Technology in a Search Campaign: iClothing
- Best Use of Data in PPC: iClothing
- Performance Agency of the Year: Wolfgang Digital
While the competition at tonight’s awards is fierce, with many of the biggest companies and agencies in Europe in attendance, that was also the case at the European Search Awards back in May when several Irish companies emerged triumphant. It is hoped that the overall volume and quality of Irish submissions will prove to be the same recipe for success at tonight’s ceremony which kicks off at the Marriott Grosvenor Square Hotel in London.
The full list of Drum Search Award categories and nominees can be found here.