Picking The Right Keywords For SEO

Picking The Right Keywords For SEO

keywords for seo

Keyword Research: How to Find Keywords for SEO

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a great way to drive traffic to your website, increase conversions and tap into the millions of consumers shopping for products online. However, finding the right keywords or key phrases to target can be a challenge. Here are a few ways to help eCommerce merchants find the right keywords for SEO and some tips for maintaining SEO over time.

Choose keywords and key phrases that best describe your business

Make sure to first research keywords and key phrases that specifically fit your business. The key word here is “specific.” If you are a car window repair shop, choosing the keyword “windows” will get you nowhere fast. If you are a local New Holland tractor dealer, trying to rank with the phrase “New Holland” might put you into unwanted and unprofitable competition with several large cities around the world. If you are a coffee shop, tempting as it might be, you have little chance with the keyword “coffee” alone. Do you see the trend? Make sure your keywords are on-target, ownable, realistic and not easily mistaken for another subject entirely.

While it’s important to go after the keywords and key phrases that best describe your business, it is also important to research your competition. For SEO, it’s possible to gain a lot of valuable information on your competitors. There are several tools available to help with this including SEMrush or Moz’s Keyword Difficulty Tool. Both are great used separately or together. The goal is learn what your competitor’s strengths and weakness are and where there is an opportunity to gain an edge. Start with the same keywords and key phrases used in your initial research. Does your competitor rank for the same keywords? Are there other keywords they’re ranking for that you’re not? How are they using those keywords? A competitor analysis is a valuable tool in SEO.

How many people are searching the web using those keywords

Once you’ve built a list of relevant keywords, it is important to analyze how often those keywords are being searched for via search engines. Two free tools that do a good job of this are Google’s Keyword Planner and Wordtracker’s GTrends Tool. Follow this rule of thumb: if a keyword generates a lot of searches, it will be harder to rank organically through an SEO effort. If you find that your keywords have too much competition, try adding the town, city or state name. Also, try longer-tailed keywords; for example instead of  “windshield repair” try “windshield repair Cincinnati” or “window repair shop in Cincinnati.”

Estimating costs for ongoing SEO efforts

A cost analysis of the effort and time required to implement your keywords versus the amount of traffic they may generate may also prove beneficial. Your current rank for a keyword or phrase, the amount of competition for the same keyword and the current state of your website are all important factors in estimating ongoing SEO campaign costs. In addition to keywords, merchants can improve SEO through new content, optimizing metadata, updating product descriptions, category pages, optimizing images must be taken into account. It’s important to budget efforts based on what is necessary and what will drive conversions.

Optimizing Keywords for SEO Is an Ongoing Process

Determining the proper keywords for your SEO campaign is an ongoing process. A set it and forget it mentality just isn’t possible with SEO. Tracking changes made to SEO efforts is important. Performing consistent traffic analysis, keyword position reports, and frequent website updates optimally tune your website for SEO. It’s good to document what changes have been made on specific pages and what the targeted key phrase is. A reference document tracking changes with notes can prove to be valuable. Historical data will help you learn what changes had a positive impact and what still needs to be tackled or revisited.

Like most things, experience and first-hand knowledge are paramount. Start your SEO campaign on the right track with the proper keywords and you’ll gain the experience to make your website highly competitive by constantly refining your SEO strategy.

To learn more about finding the right keywords for SEO, or more about SEO for for Magento and our marketing services, contact us today.

Google AdWords Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Google AdWords Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Google AdWords mistakes to avoid

6 Common Google Adwords Mistakes

Google “SEO vs. PPC” and you’ll see over 1.2 million results and a lot of contradictory opinions. The truth is that both search engine optimization and pay-per-click advertising, if effectively leveraged, will put your business in front of prospective customers. Only you can determine which is better for your business, or whether a combination of the two is your best bet.

Some marketers contend that, especially for smaller businesses which are new to online marketing, PPC is the better choice. Among these is Adam Stetzer, who argues in favor of PPC:

“Agencies should steer inexperienced customers into PPC first because it is most similar to Yellow Page advertising. Furthermore, 72% of marketers that use PPC plan to increase their PPC budgets, which demonstrates it is generally successful. PPC allows customers to secure new business rapidly. Trust will develop over time, and new products [like SEO] can then be proposed.”

The truth is that both SEO and PPC can work for any business, especially if they get the expert help to make their campaigns a success.  That’s because there’s another truth: neither SEO nor PPC is a DIY project.

According to Google, businesses on average make $2 for every $1 they spend on AdWords campaigns.  The operative phrase there is “on average.” Some businesses achieve a much higher ROI with AdWords, and some lose money.  Said differently, being successful with AdWords means fully understanding how pay-per-click works, and how to avoid rookie mistakes which put your investment at risk. Below are six common Google AdWords mistakes and how to avoid them.

1. Using the Wrong Keywords

When you choose keywords, you’re predicting what prospective customers will type into Google when looking for businesses like yours or products you sell.  That sounds easy, but it’s easy to go wrong.  For example, let’s say your business sells used home appliances in Tampa, Florida.  If you use keywords like “appliances,” or “appliances Tampa,” your ad will be displayed to a lot of people, but many of them are looking for new appliances or commercial (not home) appliances.  If any of those people click on your ad, you’re losing money.

The most dangerous word when it comes to PPC campaigns is “assume.”  Rather than making assumptions about the best keywords for your business, do your research.  You can get help from tools like Google’s AdWords Keyword Tool or WordStream (both are free).

2. Not Being Specific: Negative Keywords

When you choose your keywords, AdWords will automatically default to “broad match.”  This means your ad will appear when people type variations of your keywords, including using synonyms or typing them in a different order.  You need to specify more precisely what constitutes a match.  One way to do that is by using negative keywords.

Just as keywords tell AdWords what people you want to see your ad, negative keywords specify what people you don’t want to see your ad.  Going back to the example of the used home appliance business, you can more effectively target the right people by using the negative keywords, “new appliances” and “commercial appliances.”

3. Neglecting Mobile

Most internet searches now take place on mobile devices.  You need to accommodate these searches with ads that work on the smaller screens of smartphones and tablets.  First, you need to let AdWords know that you want to use their mobile search feature.  You then need to ensure your ads work on a smaller mobile footprint.  For example, you might want to shorten keyword phrases and truncate your ad copy.  Finally, you can include a click-to-call extension for your mobile ads, which will automatically push a call to your business when someone clicks on your ad.

4. Displaying Ads at the Wrong Times

Do you really want people contacting your business when it’s closed?  After all, if a lot of prospective customers call only to reach voicemail, you could be losing business.  You can tell AdWords when to display your ads (and when not to display them) using Ad Scheduling.  To be most effective, turn off your ads when no one’s there, or during extremely busy times when your business is less able to handle incoming calls.

5. Forgetting to Use Bid Adjustments

One of the benefits of PPC advertising is the ability to limit your spending to a predetermined amount.  You can tell AdWords how much you’re willing to spend, in other words.  AdWords will then limit your ad’s exposure accordingly (for example, your ad might display every 3rd or 4th time your keywords are entered).

Bid adjustments go one step further.  You can tell AdWords the specific circumstances under which you want your ad to be displayed, while still keeping within your budget.  For example, you might give preference to mobile searches, or to searches which take place in certain geographical locations (like those closer to your brick and mortar store), or at certain times of the day or days of the week.

6. Omitting Ad Extensions

Ad extensions in AdWords let you augment your ads with key information, things like business phone number, address, or links to specific web pages.  Take advantage of ad extensions because they provide useful information to prospective customers. In addition, they give your ad more real estate on search pages and generally improve click-through rates for your ad.

Google Adwords Mistakes and Improve Your Marketing Efforts

Doing PPC advertising right is a challenge, but totally doable. Like everything else about your business, success means doing your homework, being persistent, and growing your knowledge base and experience every day.  That’s as true about marketing as it is about designing a website that works for your business. Paid advertising can help boost sales and grow your business, just be sure to avoid silly mistakes.

To learn more about Google Adwords, Magento development and how they both work together, contact us to learn more.

3 Ways Merchants can Improve SEO for eCommerce

3 Ways Merchants can Improve SEO for eCommerce

Improve SEO for eCommerce


SEO is Critical to eCommerce Success

We recently covered 5 Questions eCommerce Merchants Need to Ask Themselves Before Hiring an SEO Partner. The article discusses how to get a better understanding of what merchants need to know about their SEO goals and expectations. For merchants just getting started on SEO fixes, check that out before diving into the how-to of SEO.

Low rankings in search engine results pages (SERPs) can make or break any website but is particularly important for eCommerce merchants. eCommerce websites rely heavily on the ability to attract, convert, and retain customers organically. In order to attract new customers and stay competitive, merchants need to utilize search engine optimization (SEO) best practices to stay on page one for major search terms.

In fact, according to Marketing Land, websites that rank on page one of Google achieve an average click-through rate (CTR) of 71%. In addition, research shows that sites ranking on pages two and three of Google experience an average CTR of around 6%. Notably, where businesses rank within the first page matters also. Businesses who rank in the first spot on Google receive more than twice as many clicks as the second spot. Further, the first spot receives about six times more clicks than the fifth spot! These statistics show that if merchants want new customers, they need to outrank their competitors in the organic listings.

Unfortunately, there isn’t a specific checklist on what the search engines look for in top ranking pages. However, Google has said that in addition to relying on their RankBrain technology, content and links are the other major factors. With this information and what we already know as Magento developers, we’ve put together three ways merchants can improve SEO for eCommerce. They are: content optimization, on-site optimization, and content promotion.

1. Content Optimization

With our experience in eCommerce, there are several areas we’ve optimized for clients and have seen positive results:

Homepage: 
Focus on creating a simple design and navigation that requires a minimal amount of clicks to get to product pages. In addition, utilize keywords for the home page based on relevancy, search volume, and ranking difficulty.

Evergreen content: Customers research companies in some industries to a greater degree than others, but it’s important to communicate your basic company information, culture and core values. Don’t overlook the importance of the About Us and Contact pages. They can help forge a connection with your customers.

Product Pages: Page errors, duplicate content, redirects, missing tags, and other issues negatively effect SEO. Use a utility tool to crawl links, images, CSS, script, and apps to detect errors. In addition, utilize product titles that are similar to how customers refer to your products within your industry.

Metadata: Often the first information customers see on Google, title tags and meta descriptions should capture the attention of users, and entice them to visit your site. In addition, meta descriptions should be specific for each page on your site and never the same as another. Well-written title tags and meta descriptions will boost the chances of getting more clicks.

Product descriptions: Cutting and pasting the manufacturer’s description can show up as duplicate content and hurt SEO rankings. Write unique product descriptions that not only entice users but helps them to make a decision to buy. Ensure you are using accurate product data and descriptions to show customers you know the products well, and would serve as a reputable resource for education and support.

Category Pages: Catalog pages are often the most popular landing pages on eCommerce sites, so it’s a great area for potential content. In addition to the general category descriptions, use these pages for recommended products, new products and any input or insights your company can add into an otherwise boring category page.

Blogs: For some merchants, a blog is an ideal way to add content and improve their SEO strategy. There are ways of integrating a blog into the Magento platform. New and old blog articles should also be optimized for SEO.

2. Onsite Optimization

In addition to creating great content, there are a lot of ways to improve search engine rankings by making some onsite updates. We will focus on two such areas here: technical SEO and user experience. Technical SEO is making sure your website is crawlable with no errors or duplicate content. Think of that as the basics to SEO. User experience, or conversion rate optimization, is improving the shopping experience customers have on your site. Is the site navigation easy to use? Does the site load quickly? Are the images loading properly? Does the page display well on mobile devices? Can users get to the information they need without scrolling very far? These questions help determine a quality score and once improved can improve SEO rankings.

Schema Markup: In contrast to metadata, microdata tells search engines what the data actually means, not just what it says. Schema markup defines the different elements that make up a webpage or product on your site, such as product name, price, availability, image and different types of descriptions. Identifying the different elements of a page helps search engines populate SERPs with more relevant information based on the intent of the search.

Resolve Site Crawl Issues: There are plenty of tools available that will crawl websites and find errors. Once the crawl is complete, pay close attention to issues related to broken links, navigation, and server errors. Any issues preventing your site from being crawled or triggering errors can cause frustration for users and search engines alike.

URL Optimization and Redirects: Put your primary keyword in the URL. This is another way that helps customers and SERPs know what’s on the pages. If you’re building a new website, avoid any platform that puts database IDs in front of the search engine friendly piece of the URL.

Image Optimization: Add compelling images and videos, and tag them with relevant metadata so they’ll rank high in image searches. Don’t forget to check that they load properly across all devices.

Page load speed: Slow page loading not only drives away potential customers, it hurts SEO. Optimize page loading times by compressing product images, implementing lazy loading, and cleaning up coding issues. We always recommend utilizing a cache technology, CDN and optimizing JS/CSS files to keep your page load times as low as possible.

Mobile Optimization: Do all pages on your website display properly on mobile? Implementing a responsive or mobile-friendly site design is a must!

3. Content Promotion

As noted by Google, internal and external links can have a major impact on rankings. Notably, the more authoritative the links, the better. Here are some ways merchants can build their link game.

Setup Social Channels: Social media channels are a great way to build and share links because they indicate an authority and relevance to search engines. Make it easy for customers to find and share your content by adding share and follow Call To Action (CTA) buttons such as Buy Now and Add to Cart across your product pages.

Video: If you have the capacity to develop your own videos, create a company YouTube channel and be sure to link to a relevant page on your site from the video description. Another added bonus, video keeps users on a page. Therefore adding to user engagement and time on page which is another positive indicator to search engines.

Business Listing (NAP): Ensure that your business listing including name, address, and phone number (NAP) is accurate. This is particularly relevant for businesses looking to rank high in local listings. Google uses a geo-targeted method when showing local listings so verify that your NAP is correct. Keep your Google MyBusiness information up to date.

PR, Partnerships, Events, Sponsorships: Hosting or partnering to host an industry event, sending products to digital influencers, donating products or time to charitable causes, working with brands you sell online, and PR are all great ways to build authority, recognition and quality links back to your site.

Final Thoughts on How to Improve SEO for eCommerce

Implementing SEO best practices and making sure you have the SEO basics in place will also help you succeed in other marketing initiatives.  If your website is not accessible and your content is not relevant or, if your page doesn’t display well on mobile, you will be penalized. Fortunately, InteractOne is skilled and experienced at SEO implementation for eCommerce. For more details on SEO and how we can help get you going, please contact us today.

5 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Hiring an SEO Partner for eCommerce

5 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Hiring an SEO Partner for eCommerce

Hiring an SEO Partner for eCommerce

Before leaping into a new SEO partnership, ask yourself these key business questions

At this point, there is no longer much debate if Search Engine Optimization (SEO) tools and tactics work for eCommerce. It’s now an issue of how to best implement those SEO tools and tactics. Successful implementation is where an SEO expert and partner can help take your business to the next level. However, before leaping into an SEO partnership to perform and execute a new SEO strategy, it’s important for merchants to have a solid handle on their business goals and needs. SEO can be very beneficial to merchants. But if goals and expectations are not properly communicated in the beginning, the results can be lacking and off-point. This can lead to wasted time for both parties. To avoid disappointment, here are five questions eCommerce merchants need to ask themselves before hiring an SEO partner.

1. Which site actions are currently most valuable?

What features, functions and user actions equate to the most organic growth and revenue on your eCommerce website? In other words, what items or pages are currently resonating and converting well with new customers? Pages that currently rank and perform well organically will play a key part in benchmarking success for other pages being optimized. It’s important that merchants have an idea of what is currently performing well to help their SEO partner with focus and direction.

Most SEO Action Plans will have sections that focus on content optimization and on-site optimization. Both initiatives will analyze the technical aspects of both high performing and low performing pages, content, and meta information. As a merchant, it is beneficial to know which pages are performing better than others. It’s also okay to not always know why  – that’s why you’re hiring an SEO partner after all. But it does help if merchants are proactive about learning what their most valuable content is.

2. Who is your target audience?

What type of people are your customers? Are they new parents, teenagers, Millennials, Baby Boomers or some combo of these groups? A considerable portion of SEO success is dependent upon content and verbiage. Due to the different ways in which groups communicate and interact with eCommerce websites, your SEO partner will rely on your expertise and understanding of these.

No one knows your customers better than you. Therefore, when your SEO partner is working on onsite optimization that could include new blogs, press releases, or informal content for your customers, they will need to know who they are writing for and what your unique customer expectations are.

3. What are your unique selling points?

Why do customers buy from you vs your competitors? Are you known for excellent customer service, best prices, or unique products that can’t be found anywhere else? Merchants who know and market their USPs successfully will be ahead of the competition – particularly for SEO. The primary focus of SEO for eCommerce websites is to drive traffic and sales. Merchants need to showcase their top USPs to new visitors and reinforce them to repeat customers.

Effectively communicating USPs will be an integral part of your SEO strategy.  An SEO partner will work to direct customers to the right place and present your business in the best light. Having an idea of what USPs to promote will help your SEO efforts succeed.

4. Who is your biggest competitor and why?

Who is that other company you and your team always reference in meetings or try to emulate? Merchants who are familiar with their competitors will have an edge. For SEO, it’s possible to gain a lot of valuable information on competitors. For example, their total monthly traffic, the keywords they are ranking for that your site isn’t, and how well they’re doing on mobile.

A complete SEO strategy will include some type of competitor analysis. The more information merchants can give an SEO partner the better. Have an idea of at least 2 or more competitors to include in an SEO plan. A good SEO partner will integrate concepts that are working in your industry, develop original material based on that success, and therefore make your company more competitive.

5. How will you monitor success?

Are you measuring success based on conversion rates, customer growth, or sales revenue? Maybe it is a combination of metrics? How will you monitor success is both a practical and ideological question. There are many data points that can be tracked when analyzing the progress and success of SEO. Merchants need to decide what matters most to their individual needs.

Concise reporting of key metrics is a critical way to see how the efforts of your SEO partner are paying off. An experienced SEO specialist will be familiar with multiple types of reporting tools and will likely have a recommendation. However, if you’re able to share how you measure success and what’s important to you, it will make it easier for your SEO partner to target the appropriate areas of improvement where you’ll see desirable results.  In addition, it’s important for merchants to be engaged in the reporting process and to ask questions to help push efforts in the right direction.

SEO is a Team Effort

Regardless of how talented your SEO partner is, your input and industry insights are invaluable. You are the expert on your eCommerce business and spending time helping your SEO partner to understand your business needs, and goals are essential to success. If you are ready to begin the SEO process, looking for SEO help or want to evaluate your current SEO plan and strategy then contact us. Finding the right SEO partner begins with a conversation and we would like to talk to you.

eCommerce SEO Basics Merchants Need to Know

eCommerce SEO Basics Merchants Need to Know

Getting Started on eCommerce SEO basics

The proper setup of eCommerce Search Engine Optimization (SEO) basics is key for a successful online business. When eCommerce SEO basics are in place, merchants are ahead of the game for when a crisis hits. Such as a sudden drop in rankings or when SERPs like Google rolls out a new update. Notably, SEO plays an important role in driving inbound traffic and customers to websites. Being prepared enables merchants to be proactive vs. reactive when sales or traffic drops unexpectedly.

Here are the eCommerce SEO basics merchants need to know when optimizing sites for search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo:

1. Data Collection

Data collection and management accounts like Google Analytics and Google Search Console are critical for analyzing and tracking data of all kinds. In addition, it’s important to have Google tracking scripts embedded properly on your site. Google provides an array of reporting and analysis tools that help merchants understand customers from the time they land on your site to purchase.

2. Sitemap

A sitemap is an XML file that contains all of your individual webpage’s URLs. In other words, a sitemap is like an archive with every webpage in your website. It’s important to make sure the right pages are included and the wrong pages excluded in your sitemap. In addition, the sitemap needs to be easy to find by search engines. Your sitemap can and should be submitted to Google via the Search Console.

3. Robots.txt

Robots.txt is a file that lets search engines know what to crawl and what not to crawl on your all of your specific pages. For example, a robots.txt file will contain disallow and allow statements that instruct which sections of the site search engines should and shouldn’t crawl. Robots.txt acts as an added layer of instruction in addition to the sitemap. It’s important to use a best practice robots.txt file, to begin with, however, adjustments can be made for later optimization.

4. Title tags

Title tags are what loads at the top of each page. View these tags as a way to tell search engine bots what your website is about. If you write a tag too vaguely, then you could negatively affect your page’s rankings.  In addition to boosting your SEO, title tags play an important role in click-through-rates. For example, title tags are often the first impressions people get of your page. A well-written title tag will boost your chances of getting clicks. Some social media platforms, including Facebook and LinkedIn, will display your title tags when you share a link. Since these tags can show up in so many places, it’s important to make them engaging enough to get clicked on.

5. Meta descriptions

Meta descriptions are the brief explanation of what your page is about. Meta descriptions are more detailed than a title tag and help a user decide what your site offers when browsing through SERPs. In addition, meta descriptions are a form of advertising and should not exceed 160 characters. As with title tags, your meta descriptions should capture the attention of users, and entice them to visit your site. Your meta descriptions should be specific for each page and never the same as another. Duplicate meta descriptions will create problems and devalue your content in Google. Another helpful tip for meta descriptions is that SERPs will put meta descriptions and title tags in bold if they match the search query. This bold text can be an attention-grabber. Do some keyword research to make your meta descriptions as close to what people would search for as a way to get the most clicks to your site.

6. Headers

Headers serve to help Google understand the main points in pages. In addition, headers help to structure content on your pages. For example, a basic header will use an H1 tag in HTML. Further, consider adding second-level headers such as H2 and H3 in your copy. Websites that make proper use of headers often rank much higher in search rankings. If your pages have a lot of text, consider breaking it up into shorter paragraphs with the appropriate second-level headers. This style will make your pages easier to read and increase the likelihood of people reading the entire page.

7. Status code errors

Status code errors are important to SERPs because they help to determine the health of your website. Specifically, status code errors consist of 3 digit numbers ranging between 100 and 500. Each number identifies a different class of error noted below:

  • 1xx – Informational
  • 2xx – Success
  • 3xx – Redirection
  • 4xx – Client error
  • 5xx – Server error

For SEO, the most important errors to fix immediately are those at the 4xx or 5xx level. 4xx errors are important to resolve because they can affect the user experience. 5xx errors are important to resolve because they involve the server. Error notices are frustrating for users and SERPs take this into account. It’s important to fix errors on your site. Particularly, those related to broken links, navigation, and server errors. You don’t want potential customers to click on your site and receive a message such as No Content, Not Found, Forbidden, Unauthorized, Proxy Authentication Required, or Request Timeout. To solve these errors, start thinking about if you’ve made any changes to previous pages or have deleted pages recently. There are plenty of tools available to help crawl your site for status code errors.

8. Load speed

Load speed is determined by how long it takes for a site to load on any device. For example, a desktop user experience vs. mobile experience and how quickly your site loads for each. As you might have expected, a faster page fares much better in regards to SEO rankings and conversions. In fact, slower pages directly lead to higher bounce rates, and won’t rank as well in Google’s search rankings. There are several factors that could hurt page speed including HTML code issues, 3xx redirects, caching problems, server response time issues and large or unoptimized images. There are tools available to help analyze and optimize page speed. Usually, optimizing images, reducing status code errors and resolving server issues will increase page speed.

9. Mobile optimization

In recent years, mobile has taken over as the primary device used to search the web. Therefore, SERPs require websites to be mobile friendly. Most websites have moved to a mobile responsive design and render properly on both desktop and mobile. Important factors for mobile-friendliness include page speed and user-experience. User-experience for mobile generally includes ease of search, navigation, images, and checkout. In addition, a  fast mobile experience can be ruined if you have desktop features such as pop-ups because of the multiple windows it forces users to navigate. There are several tools available to help with mobile optimization.

10. An optimized home page

Your homepage should include title tags, headers, and meta descriptions for the reasons noted above to help SERPs understand the nature of your site content. For some merchants, it may be beneficial to optimize the homepage for certain keyword phrases. For example, the keywords would include the types of products you sell and perhaps a top-selling item. For other merchants, it may not be best to optimize for a certain keyword. It depends on your business and industry. However, for either strategy, it’s important for SEO that title tags and meta descriptions to be complete. In addition, keep your homepage as clean and uncluttered as possible with your focused information.

The eCommerce SEO basics to get you up and running

SEO is a great way to optimize your site not only for SERPs but for your customers. A site that is seen as user-friendly will not only help your rankings in Google, Bing, and Yahoo but will also help in increasing conversions. Building a solid SEO strategy is key for eCommerce merchants in today’s’ digital first world. However, there are many ways to go about creating a plan of attack for SEO. For Magento merchants, we highly recommend investing in an internal SEO expert or a partner with SEO and Magento experience. As discussed above, there are several technical aspects of building and optimizing your website for SEO. Make sure you have a partner who understands the complexity of Magento as well SEO.    

For more details on SEO, Magento, or Digital Marketing for eCommerce, please contact us today.

3 Ways to Enhance Customer Service for eCommerce Websites

3 Ways to Enhance Customer Service for eCommerce Websites

Enhance Customer Service

What eCommerce Sites Are Doing Wrong

According to Practical eCommerce, about 80% of eCommerce startups fail. There are many reasons why eCommerce businesses fail including no real investment to a bad marketing strategy.  However, near the top of the list, are eCommerce websites that do nothing to enhance customer service or fail to deliver a quality customer experience.

CIO, in 11 Common eCommerce Mistakes and How to Fix Them, notes some of the more terrible (but nonetheless prevalent) problems with eCommerce websites.  Many, for example, lack navigation, while others select shopping carts that don’t meet their functionality needs.  Still others have search functions that don’t produce relevant results, or confusing and time-consuming check out processes.

Whatever the specific problems eCommerce sites face, however, they share one feature in common:  they don’t embrace a customer experience paradigm which puts users in the driver’s seat.  Instead, they define customer service in more traditional terms, as essentially reactive, a model which waits patiently (and misguidedly) for customers to experience a problem and (hopefully) contact them for help.  For eCommerce sites looking for more effective ways to enhance customer service, there is another way.

The Rise of Proactive eCommerce: 3 Ways Merchants Can Enhance Customer Service

Online shoppers, like other consumers, are increasingly savvy, and increasingly accustomed to finding solutions to problems on their own.  This is especially true among the rising tide of Millennial consumers who bring their noted DIY mentality to the shopping experience. Forward-thinking eCommerce marketers understand this trend, and enhance customer with a host of self-service capabilities, including the following 3:

1. DIY Customer Service

Millennials occupy an increasingly larger share of the market.  What they’re looking for is not the traditional customer service model. But rather empowerment, and that’s putting pressure on eCommerce sites to bring the DIY culture into customer service.  Jeff Platon, CMO for customer-service software provider, Interactive Intelligence, notes the importance of this trend:

“Today’s customers are busy and often mobile and need to be able to solve a problem quickly and preferably independently. Customers’ demand for better self-service experiences, as well as expanded channels for self-service (Web, SMS, mobile), is driving higher investments in this technology.”

Successful eCommerce businesses enhance customer service by using predictive self-service technology to let customers find their own answers easily.  Those technologies are most successful when fully integrated, obviating the need to go to a separate FAQ page or engage in online chat.

2. Email and Text Notifications

eCommerce giants like Amazon and Walmart have long empowered shoppers with push notifications delivered through email or text (SMS).  Customers receive such notifications when an order has shipped or backordered, as well as when backordered items become available.  Walmart also now tells customers through these channels when items have been delivered (delighting customers who learn through email that ordered items are sitting outside their door).  An increasing number of marketers and web designers are following suit and putting their own spin on these real-time notifications to enhance customer service.

3. Enhance Customer Service Via Social Media

Increasingly, eCommerce brands are using social media platforms to respond to customer service inquiries.  As evidence of this trend, the total number of social media messages which required a response from businesses jumped by 17% from 2014 to 2015.

In addition, social media platforms allow eCommerce businesses to enhance customer service by meeting customers’ needs in the presence of their friends and fellow customers.  Equally important as regards to the DIY culture, many companies, rather than waiting for customer service issues to manifest, now deploy both proactive and preemptive strategies that address potential issues before they arise.

eCommerce Customer Service is Constantly Changing

eCommerce customer service is changing as industry leaders find new ways to accommodate consumers’ increasing desire to control their own shopping experience and find their own solutions to problems.  The best eCommerce sites enhance customer service by providing users with the tools to quickly and easily resolve issues, explore options, and get the answers they need on their own.

To enhance customer service and stay on top of the trends which are driving eCommerce success, merchants need to partner with website designers that have experience implementing customer experience and customer service techniques.  To learn more about the ways our Magento eCommerce site design, development and maintenance services can help you optimize your online sales, contact us today.

Transactional and Triggered eMails for Magento

Transactional and Triggered eMails for Magento

triggered eMails

Your Magento Website is Awesome. Your eMails Should be Too!

​A well developed multi-phase eMail marketing program can enhance the relationship of a merchant with their customers by encouraging loyalty and repeat business. Merchants need to develop eMail copy and templates consistent with their brand for triggered, transactional, and promotional eMails. In order to get the very most out of eMail marketing efforts, we recommend a combination of triggered eMails based on visitor actions as well as transactional eMails to support specific customer purchase activity

Triggered eMails

Triggered eMails are targeted towards up-sell and re-sell opportunities. For example, when a customer abandons a cart, merchants can set a triggered eMail to send after a certain amount of time to remind them to come back. Triggered eMails are planned, built and scheduled to target customers after they have interacted with your site. In fact, many consumers have become savvy enough to add items to the cart and just wait for the best promotional eMail to come along. Abandoned carts have evolved into a form of window shopping.

Create triggers based on actions that should be followed up with via automated eMail such as:

  • Cart abandonment
  • Price updates
  • Favorites or wish list updates
  • Birthday messages and offers
  • Welcome Messages
  • Replenish reminders
  • Recently browsed reminders
  • Post purchase up-sell and cross sells

It’s important to set up triggered eMails properly so customers are not bombarded with multiple communications in short time periods. Many eMail service providers (ESPs) have the ability to determine delivery frequency. Utilize the ESPs functionality to avoid issues like a customer getting several triggered eMails in one day, or worse, getting the wrong triggered eMail. Create rules, set up workflows, set limits, and add filters to ensure customers get the right eMail at the right time that is consistent with your brand.

The Initial Time Investment

One hurdle regarding the implementation of triggered eMails is that it takes time to set them up properly. Particularly if there isn’t a plan in place already or if this is a new approach for your company. The setup does require some investment to work through your unique customer cycle. The heavy lifting is in the planning and testing of which action points are necessary for your unique needs.  

However, the great benefit to marketing automation and triggered eMails is that once they are set up and running smoothly, there is little effort needed to maintain them. In addition, there are many tools within eMail marketing platforms that assist with this activity to make the process manageable. Select a quality ESP with workflows and true automation capabilities. With a quality ESP, triggered eMails are far less ongoing work to optimize once they are running.

Transactional eMails

Transactional eMails are a type of triggered eMail, but are generally only for customer service automation. The CAN-SPAM act describes the purpose of transactional eMails as:

  1. Facilitates or confirms a commercial transaction that the recipient already has agreed to;
  2. Gives warranty, recall, safety, or security information about a product or service;
  3. Gives information about a change in terms or features or account balance information regarding a membership, subscription, account, loan or other ongoing commercial relationship;
  4. Provides information about an employment relationship or employee benefits; or
  5. Delivers goods or services as part of a transaction that the recipient already has agreed to.

Transactional eMails are required to be direct and generally only contain information needed by the customer. However, transactional eMails are a great way to emphasize your brand, build trust, and show customers that you’re an organized, professional business that cares about them.

Create transactional eMails based on actions that should be followed up with automatically such as:

  • Welcome eMails
  • Receipts – Completed a purchase
  • Shipping confirmation
  • Shipping Updates
  • Invitation Rate/Review items

In a study from Experian Marketing services, transactional eMails prove to drive greater revenue per eMail. In addition, transaction rates are eight times higher than promotional bulk mailings for order confirmations and four times higher than promotional bulk mailings for shipping and return/exchange based messages.

The Experian report also noted that customers opened and clicked through transactional eMails at a much higher rate than they do with promotional eMails. In fact, it was noted that transactional eMails are opened and engaged with repeatedly. This type of engagement allows merchants an avenue to cross-sell products to highly engaged customers.

Transactional eMails Provide Significant Monetary Value

The Experian Marketing services study also found that transactional eMails provide higher revenue per eMail as well as strong transaction rates in comparison to bulk promotional eMails. In fact, the average revenue for a transactional eMail is two to five times greater that bulk promotional eMails.

Experian isn’t the only study noting the value of transactional eMails. In a study from the Data & Marketing Association, they found that over 75% of eMail revenue is generated by triggered campaigns, rather than traditional promo campaigns.

Incorporate Triggered and Transactional eMails Into Your eCommerce Strategy

Triggered and transactional eMails often take a backseat to day-to-day management tasks and other seemingly more important marketing efforts. However, data shows how valuable these types of eMails really are. High open rates and ROI for triggered and transactional eMails shouldn’t be ignored. Merchants need to include these types of eMails into their automated multi-phase eMail marketing program. Contact us to learn more about triggered and transactional eMails. Or, give us a call to talk to a Magento expert: 513-469-3345.

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Grow your eCommerce Business with these 5 Digital Marketing strategies

Grow your eCommerce Business with these 5 Digital Marketing strategies

Digital Marketing Strategies

If you want your eCommerce business to succeed, it’s not enough to have a great website.

Taking the time to have a stellar layout, great product descriptions, superior navigation and a shopping cart that’s easy to use are important.  But if your competitors are using digital marketing strategies to drive more traffic to their eCommerce sites and you’re not, you could be fighting a losing battle.  They’re optimizing their sites and acing it on social media sites for a reason–because those strategies work.

To be successful—or more successful—with your eCommerce business, you need a solid digital marketing strategy.  You need to effectively leverage search engine optimization (SEO), pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, email marketing and social media marketing.  To highlight the importance of digital marketing to ecommerce success, consider these year-over-year stats compiled by Hubspot.  From 2013 to 2014:

  • Email marketing as a source of visitors to ecommerce sites increased by 218%
  • Visitors to ecommerce businesses from social media sites increased by 308%
  • Organic searches for ecommerce sites increased by 145%

Said differently, if you’re not using email marketing, or social media or SEO to drive traffic to your site, you’re not being found by this growing number of online shoppers.  If you’re ready to grab more of that traffic, you need to integrate the following 5 digital marketing strategies into your marketing campaigns:

1. Post useful content

People don’t go to Homeadvisor only to hire contractors—they also go there to view how-to-videos, or project planning checklists.  When your website becomes the go-to location for helpful advice, more people will go there.  When consumers trust you to give them authoritative information, they’ll trust you more than your competitors when it comes time to make a purchase.

2. Get quick results with PPC

There’s a running debate about the effectiveness of pay-per-click (PPC) vs. SEO. The truth is that they’re both effective, but in different ways.  Especially for small businesses which are new to digital marketing, using paid advertising on Google or Facebook is a way to increase web traffic quickly.  A well-executed PPC campaign can send push prospective customers to specific products and services on your website.  It means choosing the right keywords, creating ads that relate to those keywords, and sending online shoppers to webpages that relate to those ads.

3. Optimize your website

Whatever business you’re in, you can bet there are thousands of online searches every day for the products and services you sell.  You can grab some of those customers if your website is well-optimized.  According to Search Engine Watch, the first page of Google results gets more than 91% of all web traffic.  If your site doesn’t show up on that first page, the odds of connecting with prospective customers searching for your products drops dramatically.  SEO can be complicated, and not generally a do-it-yourself project.  When trained SEO experts optimize your ecommerce site, however, you’ll see a steady stream of new customers flocking to your online store.

4. Get social

Customers you acquire through social media platforms—like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram—tend to be more loyal than those you get through other channels.  The trick is to post useful content on social media sites that includes relevant links back to your website.  Said simply, social media marketing works.  Recent studies have shown, for example, that more than 40% of B2B businesses have acquired new customers through Facebook, and 42% have done the same using Twitter.  Social media platforms are a great way to drive more customers to your ecommerce site.

5. Boost ROI with eMail marketing

Marketers responding to Econsultancy’s Email Marketing Census 2016 reported that email marketing delivers the best ROI of all digital marketing strategies.  Another analysis, this one from Search Engine Journal, found that the average ROI for email marketing campaigns was 4300%.  To get the best results, used gated content to obtain more email addresses, then send those leads targeted emails that address their particular needs and drive them to your online store.  And make sure your emails are optimized for mobile to take advantage of the growing number of mobile searches.

Partner with Digital Marketing Experts

Digital marketing, when effectively implemented, will increase traffic to your online store and increase sales—but it can be complicated.  Your best bet is to partner with digital marketing experts who can integrate digital marketing strategies like the ones noted above seamlessly for optimal results.  To learn more about the ways our Magento ecommerce solutions and PPC, SEO, email and social media marketing services can help you boost sales and grow your ecommerce business, contact us today.

3 Reasons to Incorporate a Blog Into Your Magento eCommerce Website

3 Reasons to Incorporate a Blog Into Your Magento eCommerce Website

Blogs are Important for Long-Term, Sustainable Success in eCommerce

Maintaining a blog might seem like the furthest thing from your mind when running an eCommerce business. Between operations, day-to-day management, and the myriad of other aspects that go into running an eCommerce business, a blog may not seem like an effective use of your time.

However, in a world where success is now largely driven by digital marketing, a blog is a necessary effort for a successful marketing strategy. Blogs are a way to differentiate yourself from the competition while providing a method of engagement for your users. There are several reasons to incorporate a blog into your marketing mix and here are three reasons specifically for eCommerce.

1. Search Engine Optimization

Content marketing via blogging is one of the best and most legitimate ways to rank well in search engines. Blogs are a prime method of website traffic, so it is imperative to have an SEO strategy in place that maintains your ranking. A recent Medium article stated that “More than half of all mobile searches lead to a purchase, and 78% of mobile searches for local business information result in a purchase.”

Blogs signal that your website is active, which helps it rank higher in search engine rankings. As time goes on, certain keywords will become connected to your niche, driving further engagement. Moreover, if your keywords have a better chance of being highly ranked if they are inserted organically into blogs rather than being stuffed on each page of your site. Remember, SEO is dependent on quality, not quantity. A blog is a great way to bridge that gap and drive better SEO for your eCommerce website.

2. Effective Marketing

Blogs are a resource through which your business is able to display its legitimacy, authority, and credibility. Writing helpful, valuable content will not only drive your SEO but will be a great component of your marketing strategy. Balancing promotional content with evergreen, helpful topics in your blog is an effective way to market without being too aggressive. While many customers, both new and existing, may not be very receptive to overt marketing, blogs tend to be a good middle ground.

Merchants can use a blog to showcase new products, highlight existing products, and provide helpful tips and advice relating to your niche. It is a way to become a valuable, trusted source for information and this will help build relationships with your customers rather than aggressively pushing out campaigns that they are not interested in.

3. Steady Website Traffic

Think of blogs as part of a puzzle in maintaining a steady flow of website traffic. A blog will help you rank in search engines, which provides one flow of traffic. The other flow will come from your current customers who choose to come back for updates. In both cases, you will have tapped into customer audiences that are normally very hard to captivate but are loyal when they find something they enjoy.

Blogs are a great method to engage with your customers, learn more about what interests them and market accordingly. If you find that certain blogs seem to be more popular than others, analyze the content and means of dissemination to see what exactly is resonating with the audience. Blogs provide a way to understand customers like never before. Use that data to your advantage.

Ultimately, blogs are incredibly important for long-term, sustainable success of an eCommerce business. They provide a way to engage with a niche customer audience, as well as ways to learn more about what interests them and create a laser-focused marketing strategy going forward.

With some patience and dedication, blogs will become a valuable component of your eCommerce business. Contact us to learn more about the importance of blogs and how we can help incorporate them into your marketing mix and Magento site.

How to Run a Successful Pay-Per-Click Campaign During the Holidays

How to Run a Successful Pay-Per-Click Campaign During the Holidays

By the InteractOne Marketing Team

PPC During the Holidays – Start Early!

With summer half over, it’s time (if you haven’t already) to start your Digital Marketing prep for the 2017 holiday season. What’s the key to Pay-Per-Click advertising during the holidays? Start early – create well planned and targeted campaigns as soon as possible. Well-prepared PPC campaigns perform better. It’s that simple. We are prepping clients for the November rush now. Here are four tips for Magento merchants on how to run a successful PPC campaign during the holidays.

Get your budget together.

A set budget is crucial for Pay-Per-Click success. Keep your team focused and set clear expectations on ad spend. Spend time on strategy and goal-setting, not on budget woes. It’s important to capture as much traffic during the holiday season as possible without blowing the budget though. We recommend a budget based on revenue instead of a static amount. Revenue based budgets allow scalability during traffic fluctuation while maintaining profitability.

Already have successful Pay-Per-Click campaigns? Great, you’re ahead of the game.  Mature PPC campaigns, with high quality scores, will experience a better cost-per-click than new campaigns. It’s also quicker to make bid adjustments than it is to update ad copy or keywords. Due to Google’s approval process, new ad copy, keywords, ad groups, and campaigns all start out at a 0 quality score. To get a start on the holiday rush, identify your top performing campaigns. Then, plan out ad copy and have keywords ready by, or before, mid-October.  All you’ll need to do is throttle the budget a little when it’s go time. 

Test your Pay-Per-Click campaigns now.

A/B tests are the best way to discover what works and what doesn’t in PPC campaigns. A/B tests also help to identify new areas for growth. Don’t waste your budget on ads, keywords or landing pages that simply don’t convert.  A/B tests need to be performed at the very least, a couple of months in advance of the holiday season.

For more advanced eCommerce marketers, we recommend multivariate testing. Although, for many merchants tracking all the moving parts is not worth the aggravation. Notably, there are many helpful tools (including us) to help you with multivariate testing. However, like A/B tests, it’s important to start these tests sooner rather than later. 

Don’t forget about other important marketing avenues.

Merchants who sync their marketing efforts will experience better conversion rates. Campaign efforts performed together such as PPC, eMail and social media advertising will perform better than stand-alone campaigns. Build those email lists and loyal followers throughout the year so there is a larger sales audience come November. Merchants need to run multiple campaign efforts during the busiest buying and decision-making process to capture holiday sales.

Optimize your customer experience. Better customer experience is one reason why “Chief Experience Officer” (CXO) is a growing job title. Too many companies find themselves compartmentalized in their efforts. Or, companies rely on an agency for a specific marketing channel and do not effectively develop a central overarching strategy. The integration of all marketing avenues (including customer experience) takes time. Merchants need to start plans for a larger strategy now that includes PPC, eMail, social, and site optimizations.

Get started now – or very soon.

Start with these tips to save yourself grief when traffic is at it’s peak during the holidays. Even if your marketing efforts aren’t as organized as they should be, there’s still time to put a plan into place. Merchants can start PPC campaigns now to get an idea of what they will need to do come October and November.

If you would like some help, contact us to get started. Or, give us a call to talk to a Digital Marketing expert: 513-469-3345.