Do you power your E-commerce store with Magento?  Looking for fast/easy and relatively inexpensive ways to drive growth?  Most of these ideas can be implemented on your site in less than a couple of hours and are either free or cost less than $200.   Why not grab some low hanging fruit and give these things a try.

1. Cart Abandonment

One awesome feature of Magento is that the ability to track abandoned shopping carts is built right into the platform.  If you want to see recently abandoned carts, you can find them in the admin panel under Reports > Shopping Cart > Abandoned Carts.  Leveraging this data with automated cart abandonment emails represents a huge opportunity for most Magento merchants.

Unfortunately Magento doesn’t include the ability to take these carts and send emails automatically out of the box.  However, there are dozens of awesome extensions available to accomplish this.  At MyBinding we use this extension  from Extendware to power our abandoned cart emails.  The extension was inexpensive easy to configure and for our store paid for itself within one day.

One of the best things about this particular extension is that it integrates with your guest checkout to capture emails via ajax.  This dramatically increases the number of carts that Magento is able to identify and can make a huge difference in revenue.  We have taken this functionality and expanded upon it to further increase the number of carts that you can identify.  You can read about that here

If you are looking for an awesome guide to the strategy between abandoned cart emails in Magento you can find one here from magemail.co.  Most of the suggestions in that article can be accomplished with the Extendware extension.  I am sure they would like you to sign up for their service.  It seems interesting but I hate paying a rev share when I can build something for a onetime fee.

2. Browse Abandonment (Exit Intent)

Even if you do everything you can to identify non logged in users for abandonment emails, between 50-90% of abandoned carts on your site will still be unidentified.  Your best opportunity to convert these users is to keep them from leaving your site in the first place.  One way to do this is to use an exit intent technology to present users an offer to stay before they leave the site.

This type of tech was relatively new a few years ago and was very expensive.  However, today there are dozens of low cost providers that allow you to create exit intent offers for customers.  A few options include http://www.picreel.com/ and http://optinmonster.com/ .  When we first started working with this technology we began with http://padiact.com/.  Currently we are using Commerce Sciences which is a personalization/testing engine to power our browse abandonment program.

When creating your browse abandonment campaigns there are a few tips to keep in mind.  First, make sure that you adjust the sensitivity of the technology so that it doesn’t trigger accidently or when a user is moving to press the back button.  Second, do your best to personalize the exit offer based on cart value, items in the cart, page they are abandoning.  Third, control the number of pop ups that users receive (customers hate pop ups).  Finally, be sure to put your offers to the test.  Constantly test two versions against each other to find the one that works the best.

3. Email Collector

Need more opt-in emails for your list?  Why not consider adding a pop up modal email collector to your site.  We found that adding this type of collector increased our email signup rate by over 500% when compared to the signup form included in the footer of our site.  Plus, we have been able to use ajax technology to use these email addresses for cart abandonment as well (see here).

There is an extension from Teg Design that can be used to add an email collector to your Magento store.  We started with this extension and it worked pretty well.  We tested having the pop up launch immediately when a visitor came to the site, on the second page they visited, after 10 seconds, after 30 seconds and with or without coupon offers.  We discovered a couple of obvious things which were: the larger the offer the better the response and the more people who saw the collector the more emails that we collected.

After testing this for a couple of months and monitoring results we were very happy with the number of emails we were collecting.  However, we weren’t happy with the number of complaints from customers about the “pop-ups” on our site.  In response to this we adjusted our strategy to use exit intent for our email collector instead of presenting the offer upon arrival.  The number of emails collected was roughly equal using exit intent and this solved the issue of customers complaining (plus they are leaving anyway).  Currently we present an email collector if a customer goes to leave the site on a category or product page and present a different message if they move to leave from the cart or checkout process.  This is something that we continue to test and refine and plan to improve through personalization in the coming months.

4. Welcome Series

With your new email collector implemented why not work to improve retention on your store.  One of the easiest ways to do this is to design a killer welcome series for your new customers/subscribers.  The purpose of this series is to welcome visitors to your brand, help them understand who you are and what makes you awesome and to eventually get them to come back and buy from you again.

Our welcome series represents almost 10% of the volume from our overall email program and it was relatively easy to put together.  We use Mailchimp and have set up the series to send four emails (one per week) after a customer first subscribes to our email list.  We made a funny video about who we are and what we do, we include helpful articles and information, offer a free cup of coffee ($5 Starbucks card) with any purchase on one of the emails and a dollar off coupon on the final email.

5. Coupons Page

When I check my analytics reports and notice a bunch of referral traffic from couponchief, retailmenot and other couponing sites it always makes me mad.  Most of those users bounced from my cart or checkout page looking for a coupon and did a google search.  This is made even worse if you run an affiliate program and allow these sites to capitalize on your coupon offers.  However, there are a few things that you can do to combat this that can help a lot.

First, create a CMS page on your site with the title coupons and offer several smaller discounts and offers on the page.  Link to this page in the footer of your site.  You will find that this page will rank fairly quickly for your “brand+coupon” terms in the search engines and will give you an opportunity to control the offers that are out there.  Combined with PPC bidding on coupon related brand terms this will help you to control the conversation around coupons for your brand.

However, why not take it one step further.  Run an A/B test and insert a link to your coupons page right next to your coupon box on the cart or checkout.  Or, program this link to launch a modal popup with a few common coupon codes that a user can easily apply to their cart with the press of a button.  When we tested this we found that the gross amount of discounts used by customers didn’t really increase (we offer smaller discounts here than they might have found elsewhere) and the conversion rate of the site increased.  Definitely worth a split test.

6. Caching and Warming

Want your Magento store to sell more?  Just speed it up!  However, that is a lot easier said than done.  An entire blog post or series of blog posts can be written on speeding up Magento.  Perhaps I will work on that one next.  Still, finding quick easy wins in site speed can result in huge lifts for your Magento store.

Whether you are using Enterprise or Community the biggest win for your store is likely to implement some sort of solid full page caching system.  Many larger stores swear by reverse proxy systems such Varnish.  However, it can be really technical to implement and maintain and take a lot of time to get tuned just right.

We are using Magento Enterprise and started out by using the built in Full Page Cache.  However, we ran into issues with pages automatically being flushed from the cache throughout the day.  In the end we ended up using the full page cache from Extendware.  We also use their cache warmer to help make sure that pages stay in cache.

Speaking of cache crawling.  I would highly recommend that you have a solid plan in place for crawling the site on a regular basis and for caching the site if the cache were to be flushed at some point.  I use the crawling tool screaming frog for this purpose.  I have a text file on my desktop with the most important “money” URL’s listed in it.  If the cache ever gets flushed on the site I run the crawler on these URL’s to quickly add these pages into the FPC.  I also have a file with all of the URL’s from our site in it that I can run after the most important URL’s have been added back to cache.  Finally, I have a scheduled task set up to run a full crawl on the site just before our production day begins to catch any URL’s that might have been flushed from my cache by my team working the previous evening.

When I run the screaming frog crawler on our site it also allows me to check what pages are in cache and out of cache.  It is pretty easy to tell by looking at the time to first byte.  If you notice that pages are out of cache that shouldn’t be you may need to check to make sure that you don’t have something invalidating or flushing the cache in the background.  This actually happens a lot more than you might realize and can seriously affect the performance of your site.

Obviously there is a lot more to site speed in Magento than caching.  However, getting a solid cache installed and tuned can make the world of difference to your sales and really isn’t that difficult to accomplish.

7. Tag Management

It actually amazes me how many Magento merchants that I meet who aren’t running some sort of tag management tool.  Especially with several free enterprise grade tag management systems that are both free and easy to integrate into Magento.  Specifically Google Tag Manager  and Qubit Opentag .  We use Qubit for our store but both solutions work just fine.

If you aren’t familiar with the concept of a tag manger it basically allows you to insert a single line of javascript onto your site that then allows you to insert third party tags onto any page of your site.  These third party tags are usually loaded async which helps you to speed up your site and it allows you to quickly deploy changes to your site without a huge number of dev resources.

However, the best part of using a tag manager in Magento is the fact that both Qubit and GTM have extensions built out that provide for you a data layer.  This data layer will populate in javascript a number of variables related to the page a user is viewing and their session on the site.  These variables can then be quickly and easily leveraged to launch third party tags in minutes instead of hours.  Plus, minimal IT resources are required.

A perfect example of where this is useful is if you want to run a test with a new retargeting vendor.  Tagging for retargeting vendors such as Criteo, Adroll, Stellhouse or even google remarketing can be complicated.  Often different page types will need to be tagged with their own variables.  Both Qubit and GTM have prebuilt integrations with most of these partners and the tagging can be accomplished in minutes instead of hours.  Perfect if you want to test out a new partner and don’t want to dedicate it or development resources.

Tag management is also perfect if you have slow loading javascript on your site that is affecting page speed.  A perfect example of this for us is Liveperson.  Their monitor tag is painfully slow and if implemented improperly it can block the rest of the contents of the page from loading.  The same is true for security seal codes.  Using your tag manager it is easy to load these tags asynchronously without having to recode them.  This can result in a far better experience for your customers.

8. Google Trusted Stores

Speaking of tagging.  Why not get your store google trusted stores certified?

When Google trusted stores was first released it was a huge pain to implement.  They required a large number of monthly orders and special order, shipping and cancelation feeds that needed to be delivered to Google on a daily basis.  The integration was tedious and even with a solid development team it could take hours.

Today, things have changed with Google Trusted Stores and it is a lot easier to get set up.  You still need to qualify for the program (terms and conditions are here) .  However, you no longer need to create custom feeds for google.  In fact all you need to do is add a javascript snippet to your site template and to your order confirmation page.  If you have a tag manager it will literally take you minutes.  You will still need to go through the steps with google to verify your store and compliance.  They will want the tag to run on your site for a certain amount of time to verify that you are doing a good job taking care of your customers.  However, the requirements aren’t that difficult to meet and the benefits can be awesome.

Speaking of benefits.  There are three primary benefits to getting certified as a Google trusted store.  First is that you get a really nice trust badge to display on your site showing customers that you are a trusted store.  This can give you a great boost in your conversion rate (test it to see).  Second, all of your PLA ads will become eligible to display the google trusted store badge.  This has been proven to provide boosts to your click through rates.  Finally, the reviews that customers leave post purchase through the google trusted store interface are eligible to show on your PPC ads which can give certain eligible ads a nice boost in click through performance on the text ads side of your advertising as well.

The program is free.  The integration isn’t difficult.  Definitely worth considering for a cheap and easy win.

9. Discontinued Products

This growth hack has to do with what you do with discontinued products for SEO.  I wrote a detailed article about this here.  Basically rather than deleting or 301 redirecting discontinued products from your site, why not keep them and curate suggestions to other products on the site.  This works really well for driving incremental long tail traffic through search engines.  Plus, it allows you to keep unique content on your site rather than losing it.

We are using this extension from added bytes that allows us to curate recommended replacements either by sku or by category.  When we first implemented this strategy we were able to go to our dev server and find hundreds of products that we had deleted or redirected on the site.  We imported them back onto the site using the same URL’s as they used to have and marked them as discontinued.  Every month I can see these products getting clicks and driving sales.  A nice easy win for the long term.

10. Max Coupon Value

Many of the strategies listed above involve coupons and discounts.  In order to prevent erosion of margin we are using this extension from magephobia to limit the discount of a coupon codes on the site.  I originally got the idea from home depot and lowes who limit the discounts on their percent off coupons to prevent massive discounts to contractors. We sell a lot of expensive equipment on our site and were constantly having to put disclaimers on coupons to prevent massive discounting on low margin items.  Using a max value for coupons has allowed us to remove the massive list of disclaimers from our coupons without worrying about getting burned.

More importantly, this concept has allowed us to offer more aggressive percentage discounts to certain customer groups for our win back campaigns.  For instance on a recent promotion we segmented our user based on their last purchase date.  Users with a recent purchase received a lower discount value with a higher maximum discount.  Users who hadn’t purchased in six months received a moderate discount with a lower max.  Users who hadn’t purchased in over a year received the most aggressive coupon again with a smaller max.  This limits our margin exposure while allowing us to get more aggressive in winning customers back.  Best of all, it works.

Now What?

Whether you have been running a Magento store for years or are brand new to the game hopefully you will find some solid tips and tricks in these ten strategies. I am curious to hear if you are doing these things already. Any way of improving on them? Is there something that belongs on this list? Leave a comment and maybe I can update the post to include your idea (with credit of course).