5 Themes for small e-commerce businesses in 2013 – Theme 1 – Social

Sagepay have just issued a very comprehensive report on e-Commerce for 2013. It makes very interesting reading and I will summarise the 29 pages below in 5 themes

For 2013 five themes were identified that small e-businesses should be focusing on right now. These are

  1. Social
  2. Mobile
  3. Fraud
  4. PCI Compliance
  5. International Trade


In this first blog of a series of 5 we will first investigate the social theme. Among our small business respondents, pay-per-click (PPC) is not working. However, investing time into social media is paying dividends in terms of driving customer loyalty and brand awareness.

So what do small e-businesses spend their budget on? Pay-per-click (PPC) has long been the default activity for small e-businesses. This year, again, it comes top for taking up the highest proportion of spend. Interestingly, however, the most successful e-businesses spend less on PPC (27% of budget) than their less successful competitors who spend 34% of their budget on Google et al. This goes to show that just because lots of companies are doing it doesn’t mean it’s always the right thing to do. We look more at PPC further down the article

Which marketing channels do you currently use?

channel % using % of revenue spend
 Social media  72 25
 Pay-per-click (PPC)  44 27
 Advertorials  27 12
 Media relations / PR  21 8
 Banner ads  18 5
 Sponsorships  11 2
 Partnerships  9 2



The shift, for more successful e-businesses is to social media. The most successful spend 25% of their budget engaging customers on Facebook, Twitter and other social channels. As these are free, this spend may be attributed to listening platforms or hiring extra resources to help manage them. This compares to just 19% for less successful e-businesses.The other place successful small e-businesses invest in more than their less successful competitors is advertorials (12% vs 7%).

 Pay Per Click

With pay-per-click advertising, you get what you pay for. While this is good in some ways, it becomes a problem when you’re up against competitors with deep pockets who can simply out-bid you on key terms. Overall, our research shows that you’re better off finding alternative ways to drive traffic to your site and create customer loyalty instead of going head-to-head with the big guys. We’re seeing more small e-businesses getting to grips with using social media and improving search engine optimisation (SEO) which, as well as driving traffic, also increase their rankings in natural search. Of course, you may still like the certainty of paying for each click and the budget limits you can set. Ultimately, you need to weigh up if this option is right for you. Here are our top tips for getting more from your PPC activity:


1. Track conversions. Increased web traffic alone doesn’t mean more sales.

2. Optimise. Make small changes and keep testing one change at a time until you discover the best combination for your business.

3. Send traffic to a targeted landing page that speaks directly to the search term.

4. Always have a clear call to action on your ad.

5. Dont always bid on the top spot – it might get you the most clicks but not necessarily the most sales. With more people comparison-shopping, you may find spot two or three more effective.

6. Analyse your metrics to determine when your ads are at their highest conversion rate.

7. Use negative keywords to specify where your ad should not appear.

8. Bid on misspellings of your brand name.

9. Don’t try to stretch your budget too far – keep your ads targeted.

10. Keep an eye on your competition – they’ll also be optimising and tracking conversion so watch them closely.