WordPress plugins are the addons and extras that turn your site into a powerful machine.
There are over 30,000 of them out there, each designed to make your site stronger, better equipped, and more profitable. They slot into your WordPress website to give you more flexibility and functionality.
This series of blogs is all about building an online store, so I’m looking at plugins that will take take your ecommerce business further. I’ve broken them down into separate categories, as your plugins should do the following three things:
If you’re looking for WooCommerce extensions specifically, I covered that in the previous post, so take a look there and I’ll meet you back here!
Plugins That Strengthen Your Site and Security
Most servers, and WordPress itself, are fairly reliable. But it just takes one glitch to send your entire site crashing down. If this happens, you could lose all your content, settings and hard work! BackupBuddy makes sure your database of customer information, images, themes, plugins, and everything else is securely backed up and locked away.
You can schedule an automatic backup once a week (or once a day if you’re worried!) Once you’ve installed the plugin, it will run silently in the background keeping you safe. It’s also great if you plan on moving your site to another (bigger) server in the future.
If you’ve been following my blog here at Bitcatcha, you know how important website speed is. Quick loading speed is essential for good user experience and search engine optimisation. Slow websites frustrate your customers and worry Google.
You need to do everything you can to speed things up. The W3 Total Cache plugin claims a 10x improvement on website performance when installed. The plugin will ‘cache’ your website pages, making them load faster. The result is a better user experience and more sales.
Search engine optimisation (SEO) is one of the trickiest things to get your head around. It’s a series of techniques and secrets designed to improve your ranking on Google. The Yoast plugin makes it all much easier.
The plugin shows you how to optimise your site’s descriptions and titles for Google. Yoast also helps you create an XML sitemap which allows search engine’s index your website better. It sounds more complicated than it really is! It’s a lot like hiring your own SEO expert; simple and straightforward.
Your customers love sales and discounts. It’s still the most effective way to increase sales quickly. But, it’s always good to get something in return. With Social Coupon, your customers get a discount in exchange for sharing your product or site on their social media sites.
They tell their friends about you, and in return, they get a discount. Everyone wins. This plugin is so easy to use, and delivers results. The more people that share your products, the more traffic you get, the more profit you make. Simple.
Nothing tempts customers to buy like a time-sensitive countdown. You know the feeling. We’ve all been lured into a ‘sale-ends-tomorrow’ discount! Well, you can do the same thing on your store. Using this plugin, you can create a ticking countdown to the end of your sale period.
It boosts conversions because customers feel like they’re going to miss out on a great price.
As an online store owner, one of your biggest challenges is getting people through the checkout process. The basket abandonment rates are higher than you’d think. 68% of shoppers fill their cart and leave without paying. It’s your job to ease them through the payment process quickly.
One way to do this is by installing the Social Login plugin. It means customers don’t have to register another account online. They can simply use their Facebook or Google login. It’s proven to speed up checkouts and decrease cart abandonment rates.
As an online store, you need to stay connected to your customers with regular emails. You’ll want to send them discounts and keep them up to date with new product launches. But first, you need to collect their email addresses.
MailChimp is my favourite platform to send newsletters and mass emails. They’ve also created a WordPress plugin that lets you integrate email signup forms into your site. You can even slot the signup form into your checkout process. Best of all, the emails are saved straight onto your MailChimp account, so there’s no importing/exporting hassle to deal with.
Developers tend to either love or hate Jet Pack. I’m including it here so you can make your own mind up. It’s a Swiss army knife plugin. A jack-of-all-plugins. It does a lot, including: report site traffic, create contact forms, check spelling and grammar, list your related posts, share your blogs to social media automatically.
And lots, lots more. It’s a sort-of beginners upgrade pack for WordPress. Great if you’re getting started, but eventually, you’ll find yourself seeking out specialised plugins for each task.
Some WordPress themes (and WooCommerce) come with social sharing buttons plugged in. But, none of them float with your content and the website. When the social buttons flow along with your site, customers can share at any point in the journey.
This plugin increases your social share rate, and therefore boosts your sales!
OptinMonster is exactly what it says. It’s a tool for growing monster numbers of email signups and reducing page abandonment. It uses clever technology to detect when users are about to leave your site, and offers them something unique.
It knows how people are using your site, and uses that information to offer them a personalised incentive. Some of the biggest websites have reported 200%, 300%, and 400% increases in signups, and serious sales increases.
Google Analytics is essential for keeping track of your visitor numbers and activity. With their WordPress plugin, you can see your essential stats on your dashboard at all times. Great for keeping you on your toes and keeping visitor numbers high.
Have I missed any essential plugins? Please let me know your thoughts in the comment section!
Daren Low is the founder of Bitcatcha.com and co-developer of the free Server Speed Checker. With a decade of experience in website development and internet marketing to his name, Daren is considered a premier authority on all things related to building and managing an online presence. Feel free to pick his brain by connecting via Google+ and Twitter.
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