Magento Commerce & Security Update Now Available

Magento Commerce & Security Update Now Available

January 14th marked the date that Magento made Magento Commerce 2.3.4 available to all current Magento Commerce customers and partners. Magento Commerce and Open Source 2.3.4 will become generally available on January 28th. This release includes necessary updates to quality, security and platform technologies. Including:

Page Builder Upgrades

Magento has upgraded Page Builder to provide merchants with more control over product merchandising and PWA Studio compatibility to bring the easy content editing of Page Builder to PWA Studio-based storefronts.

Adobe Stock Integration

Built through Community Engineering, Adobe Stock is now integrated into Magento so users can simplify their creative process and streamline workflow by adding high quality media assets to website content without leaving the Magento Admin.

Live Chat powered by dotdigital

In the latest update to their Vendor Bundled Extension, dotdigital now provides Live Chat capabilities to give merchants the ability to exceed expectations, increase conversion rates, and keep customers coming back with real-time engagement. All Magento 2 customers will be given access to one free live chat agent seat, without the need for a full dotdigital Engagement Cloud license.

Summary

Magento is encouraging Commerce customers to take advantage of the early, pre-release access and to take this additional time to evaluate their latest patch, begin upgrading and remain secure in advance of general availability. 

January 14th also marks the availability of Magento Commerce 2.2.11 and the latest Security-only patch, 2.3.3-p1. The Magento 2.2.11 release marks the final supported software release for Magento version 2.2. Magento 2.2 will no longer receive security updates or product quality fixes now that its support window has expired.

To stay up to the minute on all the latest Magento updates and upgrades, sign up for the monthly Orange Report and get all of this, and other, vital eCommerce information delivered directly to your inbox.

Recommended Solutions for Powering Reviews

Recommended Solutions for Powering Reviews

Product reviews have revolutionized the way consumers make purchase decisions with nearly 95% of shoppers reading online reviews (Power Reviews Internal Data) before making a purchase.  Reviews are not just a way for consumers to gather information. They have become a key form of shopper engagement. In a recent study Northwestern University partnered with Power Reviews, to understand how reviews impact buyers’ behavior. Their research provide some very compelling insights to the powerful effects that reviews have on customer’s purchase decisions.  The results of their study can be seen here.

Given the incredible importance of product reviews, it’s imperative that merchants choose a review solution that meets your business needs and provides the functionality required to thrill your shoppers and give them every reason to purchase from your site.  Given our support of many different online merchants, we at InteractOne have been afforded the great opportunity to work with a wide variety of reviews technologies currently offered in the eCommerce space. These are our three favorite recommended review solutions.

Yotpo

Yotpo provides a great many features and pre-built integrations at a reasonable price.  Here are some of the great features provided by Yotpo:

  • Reviews
  • Question & Answer Functionality
  • Multi-Channel Content Generation
  • On-Site Widgets & Galleries
  • Google & Facebook Integration
  • Advanced Content Management
  • Widgets & Emails Customization
  • Multiple Domains Support

Some of the key features that we love about Yotpo are the widgets and automation tools they offer for post purchase follow-up.  Using these tools, you can setup Yotpo to email customers that have purchased a product and offer them an incentive (coupon, rewards points or gift card) for leaving a review.  We’ve personally seen how these incentives prove to be invaluable for encouraging buyer participation and building a robust database of product reviews. In addition to the great features for post-purchase followup, Yotpo also offers many other valuable marketing tools such as Question & Answer software, designed to help merchants increase customer engagement and grow their brands.

Power Reviews

Founded in 2005 Power Reviews is a veteran stalwart in the product review space.  Aimed more at the Enterprise market, Power Review offers a feature rich toolset including: 

  • Rates & Reviews
  • Questions & Answers
  • Influencer & Sampling
  • Visual & Social
  • Intelligence Suite
  • Customer Experience

While having many, if not all of the features of Yotpo, Power Reviews is not as focused on strictly providing feature value.  Being a little more costly, they typically serve larger enterprises as they help leverage customer data to gain business insights and mine value from their current customer base.  For example, Power Reviews is able to help merchants identify and work with influencers to create buzz, with the ultimate goal of turning customers into mystery shoppers who then are in a position to uncover valuable product insights.

TrustPilot

Focused more on business-level reviews than on product reviews, TrustPilot is a great tool for gathering overall purchase experience feedback and displaying that feedback to shoppers.  Niche sites that sell a very specific type of product (ie. trade show display media) can be better served by a reviews software like TrustPilot. This is because their shoppers are not as concerned with product reviews as they are with overall reviews of the company that is actually  selling the product. TrustPilot excels in this area by offering merchants the ability to reach out and gather post purchase business reviews, manage those reviews and display them onsite. For example TrustPilot allows you to filter the reviews shown on-site, per interest area or star rating.  

Another key feature of TrustPilot is that it allows online users to browse reviews for all of its customers on its website portal at https://www.trustpilot.com/. Being a TrustPilot customer therefore comes with the added benefit of being featured on their public facing website where many shoppers go to review businesses by category before making a purchasing decision.

In addition to offering the business-level reviews and the public portal, TrustPilot can also power product level reviews by allowing you to use their service to cover all your business’s reviews & ratings needs.

Summary

With this blog we’ve covered just a few of our favorite tools for powering reviews, however  there are many other customer reviews tools and options not listed here that might be a perfect fit for your business.  What’s important is that you understand the key role reviews play in the online purchasing decisions of your shoppers and choose the right tools to empower reviews.  At InteractOne we’ve had the privilege of working with many online merchants to choose the right reviews tools, improve conversion and grow their business. Give us a call or fill out our contact form and let us help you grow your business by improving customer reviews.

Top 5 Must-Have eCommerce Marketing Tools for 2020

Top 5 Must-Have eCommerce Marketing Tools for 2020

Digital marketing for an eCommerce company presents a wide variety of challenges. The opportunities for revenue-generating inbound traffic are seemingly endless with new additions regularly. It’s no surprise that many businesses become overwhelmed with the complex, time-consuming work required to implement and optimize the right types of campaigns to contend in their industry. Not all businesses have the resources for a digital marketing specialist or a social media manager, nevermind a full-blown data analytics team.

There are a myriad of options for marketing tools to assist beurgening eCommerce firms. We’re going to exclude Google Analytics, Google Tag Manager, and Google/Bing Ads which are known necessities. For this list, if forced to choose just 5 tools to market an eCommerce business in 2020, here are the selections:

#1: Mageworx – SEO

Mageworx is a popular SEO module that currently works with Magento and Shopify platforms. They offer a full suite of add-ons (that do cost extra) to help merchants optimize their website for maximum traffic. The add-ons include faceted navigation landing pages, canonical URL settings, schema markup, and much more. Improve your site’s indexation and rankings with this advanced SEO module.

#2: SEMrush – SEO, Reporting

SEMrush is an excellent tool that can be used for both research and maintaining a site crawl campaign to assist with ongoing search engine optimization. It can be used for keyword and competitor research, as well as a checklist of necessary on-site improvements including, but not limited to, broken links, duplicate content, slow page load times, and broken images. SEMrush is our favorite SEO utility but there are several other valuable SEO tools available for eCommerce marketers to utilize.

#3: Klaviyo – Email

Email is an extremely important revenue-generator, especially in eCommerce. Klaviyo’s automation and interface are pleasant and easy to use. This tool makes setup enjoyable while driving improved results. Automate prospect and customer communications using customer lifetime value, lifecycle stage, and other metrics to make messaging relevant and timely.

#4: GoDataFeed – Feed Management

Google has made their shopping results, also known as product listing ads, extremely prevalent for commercial queries. The bottom line is that if you’re in eCommerce and not in Google Shopping, you’re leaving money on the table. 


A great tool for feed management is crucial to maximizing revenue, it creates the ability to provide necessary product data from an eCommerce website to marketplaces like Google Shopping. Manual feed management can be a challenge unless your product catalog is very small. GoDataFeed not only saves your team a ton of time, it also helps optimize your feed(s). Modify and enhance thousands of feed attributes in seconds with a powerful and easy to use rules engine.

#5: Hootsuite – Social

Managing an eCommerce company’s social media strategy and understanding what is moving the needle can become a complex enterprise. Hootsuite is a social media management tool that allows a merchant to schedule social media posts, track how people engage with posts, manage multiple accounts from one dashboard, and much more. Rather than switching back and forth between different social media accounts trying to do everything throughout the day, a merchant can get it all done at one time with this great tool.

Make the Most of Available Tools

There is a wide range of tools available to online marketers— this is only a glimpse of some of our favorites. The key is to start with a few of the essentials, master them, and then start exploring others. By doing this, marketers and merchants can learn which tools provide the most value, and which ones they prefer over others.

If you’d like to learn more about online marketing and marketing tools that can help your eCommerce business, please contact us at any time.

Top Digital Marketing Trends for 2020

Top Digital Marketing Trends for 2020

The marketing world is in constant motion, always evolving and ever innovating. And as the calendar turns to a new year we here at InteractOne have taken a look into the future to see what innovations and trends will shape the digital marketing world in 2020.

Personalization

As online customers continue to be inundated with generic ads, AI-powered personalization will become more important. Customers decide very quickly—in a matter of seconds—whether they like your marketing message. Provide something relevant and you’ve got a curious website visitor and perhaps a long-term customer. Miss the mark, however, and they’re gone. Customers still want to feel like they relate to your company and AI-powered personalization can go a long way towards accomplishing that. Sending out generic blasts to your contact list isn’t going to cut it in 2020. AI-powered personalization can help you to segment your contacts and website visitors into specific groups based on data, interactions, and behaviors. This allows your marketing team to customize an omni-channel campaign that has a cohesive message. A message that has determined by your customer’s needs based on their interactions with your site and tailored to their location on their sales journey.  

Content

Content marketing will still be king of the castle in 2020. It isn’t going anywhere, but perhaps some of its long-standing practices are. Quality over quantity and diversification will be what drives traffic in the new year. Even though video content is the belle of the ball, it’s not the be-all-end-all. When planning out your content calendar, don’t just put all of your eggs into the ‘video’ basket. People still read blogs, people still download white papers, people still engage in interactive content like quizzes or image filters (when brand-appropriate). Blogs and other long-form written content will still continue to be vital to your SEO. But don’t create content simply for the sake of creating content. You must ensure that it’s of quality, on-brand and speaks to your target audience. If your blog or video doesn’t help solve a problem or answer a question that your target audience has, then what good is it to your brand? Develop a content calendar and stick with it, you won’t see improvements in SEO, lead gen and traffic overnight, but steadily these numbers will increase with your commitment to a diverse quality content calendar.

Voice

It’s estimated that by the end of 2020 45%-50% of all search will be Voice Search. As of today, according to Google, 20% of all Google search queries now take place via voice search, with 71% of all mobile users between 18 and 29 utilized the voice assistants on their smartphones. Brands are already beginning to incorporate more voice technology into their digital offerings. Magento recently announced a new integration will allow Magento merchants to offer their customers a more personalized and streamlined experience the moment they start their Amazon/Alexa shopping journey, including re-orders, wish lists and delivery notifications. InteractOne was also selected by Amazon to be a partner on beta testing for this innovative integration. You can read more about that here.

Consumer Privacy

While there is a large segment of the population that is more than okay with their voice-activated assistants listening in on their every word, awaiting commands, there is a growing percentage of the population that don’t want their activity monitored in any way. Especially their clicks and searches. The use of Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) is on the rise, increasing more than 185% in North America since the beginning of 2018. Through a VPN a user can scroll through websites fairly anonymously. The VPN changes the user’s IP address to a different, often randomized location. Meaning that your carefully built cookies, ad trackers and remarketing campaigns aren’t able to continue to connect with VPN users who visit your site. With the continued decline in public trust in entities such as Facebook and Google thanks to their repeated privacy-related faux-pas, look for individuals to take privacy matters into their own hands in 2020 and beyond. Since there will be a growing number of visitors to your site who are surfing anonymously through a VPN or a web browser that blocks ads and trackers (like Brave) you won’t be able to rely on the fact that your remarketing campaigns will continue to follow the user around the web. It is up to marketers and content creators to create powerful, memorable content that will connect with users when they interact with your brand. This connects back to the importance of having great and meaningful content. The only chance you have to capture the contact information of these visitors is through your content, making your content strategy even more important.

Testing

A/B Testing is quite simply the most effective and efficient way to improving your website and to create an improved shopping experience. While you have invested heavily in the UX/UI design of your website the only real way to know what works and what doesn’t is to test it with the general public. Thanks to the fact that there are a number of great Magento extensions specifically designed for A/B testing (HiConversion, Optimizely, Apptemize & AB Tasty) it’s easier than ever to test everything on your site from prices, to CTAs, to page design and color scheme. To learn more about A/B Testing check out our recent blog.

Marketing continues to evolve at warp speed. It’s imperative to adapt and evolve with new marketing trends to stay competitive and retain high-quality customers. Setting an intention to learn and integrate new innovations will help set your company apart from the rest of the herd. To get started implementing these cutting-edge technologies into your eCommerce site and marketing plan contact us today!

How to A/B Test Your Magento Site to More Conversions

How to A/B Test Your Magento Site to More Conversions

If you’re hoping to reach a higher level of performance with your Magento website then you need to put it to the test. An A/B test, that is. While it’s very important that you work with UX/UI experts to create a great shopping experience, you’ll find that even the best user interfaces can be improved with A/B testing. A/B testing is one of the most cost effective and efficient ways of figuring out what actually works on your eCommerce website and how best to connect with your target market. Because, what works for some websites and brands may not work for you. And if you don’t put it to the test, how will you know?

In this blog we’ll cover why A/B testing is essential, the basics of A/B testing and the best Magento extensions for A/B testing.

Why A/B Test?

You have a lot invested in your Magento store and it’s only natural to want to get the absolute most out of it. And while you have invested heavily in the UX/UI design of the site as well as your own internal testing, the only results that truly matter are real world results. By implementing A/B testing and analyzing its results, you can determine what does and doesn’t connect with your website’s visitors. For example:

  • Pricing – A/B testing different levels of pricing can provide you with a better understanding of the prices your customers are actually willing to pay for your products. It is estimated that merchants are missing out on 5%-15% of profits because of imperfect pricing and unfavorable free shipping thresholds.
  • Calls to Action (CTAs) – Altering the copy, font, colors, and even button designs can help you learn what CTAs your visitors will respond to. You may find that visitors will respond to a CTA about dwindling available inventory, but respond less to CTAs about sales offers and price reductions. You may have a higher conversion rate with a Green, ‘Order Now’ button rather than a Red ‘Order Now’ button. The only way to find out is through A/B testing.
  • Page design – You may have the most informative and interesting content on the web but you may also have a page that is not skimmable to visitors. By testing with different page layouts and monitoring the bounce rate and the time guests spend on your pages, you can determine the ideal page design for visitor retention and conversion.

What is A/B Testing?

A/B testing has become quite the buzzword in recent years but it can be most simply described as creating two or more versions of a webpage and measuring the results to make improvements to the site and ultimately earn greater conversions and revenue. The alternate A/B versions of your site can include, but are not limited to, variations in the content, colors, images, copy, Calls-to-Action, and even prices. Through creating alternate versions of webpages and monitoring the activity you’re able to improve the overall quality of your website and increase conversions. It is through A/B testing that you’re able to come up with the optimum combinations of website elements that will keep visitors engaged and making purchases.

With the example below, 50% of visitors are shown Page A and 50% of visitors are shown Page B. Whichever version proves to feature elements that result in greater visibility, reduced bounce rates, increased conversions and more time-on-site is the superior page design and those elements should then be shown to 100% of visitors.

Best Magento A/B Extensions

A/B testing is not a native feature in Magento.  While there are many different methods and technologies available for powering A/B testing, below are a few of our favorites.

  • HiConversion – The HiConversion extension was built based on the idea that your real-world customers and website visitors are your greatest teachers. HiConversion will run its own A/B tests automatically to your pages, changing the elements based on visitor behavior. It will then provide recommendations based on these continual and evolving A/B tests. It’s a great extension because, simply put, it chooses a winner faster through the automated testing of multiple variables.
  • Optimizely – This extension focuses on personalization and web experimentation. It features an easy-to-use visual editor that allows users to safely and simply run multiple experiments on a single page. Optimizely is also one of the industry’s leading CRO platforms and it offers far more than website A/B testing including messaging platforms and mobile apps, allowing you to customize the entire customer experience from a platform that can grow with you as your conversion optimization needs expand.
  • Apptimize – This is an extension built for mobile-centric brands. Apptimize allows users to A/B test personalized experiences, cross-platform experiments and more all through a data system specifically programmed for mobile data. Merchants can monitor how behaviour on mobile affects decisions made on web and vice versa. Or, how server-side changes impact the front-end mobile experience.
  • A/B Tasty – This reasonably priced, drag-and-drop app is incredibly easy to work with. In addition to standard features like split and multivariate testing options, heatmaps and conversion optimization tools, A/B Tasty boasts a unique funnel testing feature that allows merchants to experiment with changes across multiple pages inside the sales funnel.

Conclusion

A/B testing your Magento store is critical to better understanding your customers, increasing your conversions and improving its overall usability and functionality. There are a number of excellent extensions available to your site in the marketplace.  To learn more about any of these A/B test extensions and how to optimize your ecommerce store, contact us today for a free consultation.

How to Analyze Google Ads Data After the Death of Average Position Ranking

How to Analyze Google Ads Data After the Death of Average Position Ranking

The Google Ads metric for gauging an ad’s average position was eliminated in September 2019. Average Position was often used to gauge where you ranked for a specific keyword against competitors in the auction. For example, with an average position of 3.1 for a well-performing keyword, it’s simple to judge that there exists an opportunity to increase traffic by improving the keyword’s Ad Rank.

Why Remove Average Position?

Here’s what Google stated about the change: “Average position (Avg. Pos.) will be removed in September 2019. The percentages of top and absolute top impressions provide a clearer view of where your ads appear on search pages. You can use these new metrics to optimize your ad position.”

Google has continued to shift away from the old school manual cost per click bidding to automated bidding strategies. With Google’s machine learning capability, paired with the knowledge of user behavior, Google claims to be able to be more efficient than humans running manual bids. That makes sense. 

Additionally, the machine learning focuses on an individual’s propensity to buy rather than humans manually optimizing based on keywords.

Automated campaigns like Target CPA and Target ROAS negate the validity of average position and even cost-per-click. These machine learning models are built to hit a self-determined target. For example, set a $50 cost per conversion for a certain campaign or ad group if that is profitable for you and Google will attempt to maximize the amount of conversions within that threshold. Average position is irrelevant in this scenario and in the new world of automation.

How to Measure Opportunity Now

EThis shift to automation creates the need to re-think how the data is analyzed, including the metrics necessary to properly evaluate the data. While Average Position has been a great secondary metric for evaluating opportunity and performance, Google has decided to replace it with the following new metrics.

  1. Search Absolute Top Impression Share – “Search absolute top impression share” is the percentage of your Search ad impressions that are shown in the most prominent Search position. Absolute top impression share = absolute top impressions / total eligible top impressions
  2. Search Top Impression Share – Search top impression share (IS) is the impressions you’ve received in the top location on the search result page divided by the estimated number of impressions you were eligible to receive in the top location. Use this metric to bid on the top page location. The top location is anywhere ads appear above the organic search results. Eligibility is based on your current ads’ targeting settings, approval statuses, bids, and quality.
  3. Search Exact Match Impression Share – “Search exact match impression share (IS)” is the exact match impressions you’ve received divided by the estimated number of exact match impressions you were eligible to receive on the Search Network. Exact match impressions are those that matched your keywords exactly, or were close variants of your keyword.
  4. Search Lost Absolute Top Impression Share (rank) – Search lost absolute top impression share (rank) estimates how often your ad was not the very first ad above the organic search results due to poor Ad Rank. Ad Rank determines your ad position relative to other ads and whether your ad is able to show at all. It is calculated using your bid, ad and website quality, context of the search, Ad Rank thresholds, and the expected impact of extensions and other ad formats.
  5. Search Lost Top Impression Share (rank) – Search lost top impression share (rank) estimates how often your ad didn’t show anywhere above the organic search results due to poor Ad Rank. Ad rank determines your ad position relative to other ads and whether your ad is able to show at all. It’s calculated using your bid, ad and website quality, context of the search, Ad Rank thresholds, and the expected impact of extensions and other ad formats.
  6. Search Lost Impression Share (rank) – “Search lost impression share (rank)” estimates how often your ad didn’t show on the Search Network due to poor Ad Rank. Ad Rank determines your ad position and whether your ad is able to show at all. It’s calculated using your bid, ad and website quality, context of the search, Ad Rank Thresholds, and the expected impact of extensions and other ad formats. Impression share data is updated daily.

Got all that?

Let’s go through an example.

Taking a look at this data, the top keyword (which is purposefully not shown), in row two, has 847 clicks but less than 10 % of the absolute top impression share. Along with a top impression share of ~71%, this signifies that there is definitely substantial room to increase traffic. With a high cost per conversion though, you may not want to increase Ad Rank on that keyword. 

For the second keyword, in row three, it has 690 clicks and almost a 96% absolute top impression share. While the cost per conversion is great at ~$30, there isn’t much room to increase traffic.

So Why the Skepticism of Automation?

Digital advertising is necessary in most eCommerce strategies. Commercial queries can drive valuable traffic to your business, but the efficiency of ad spend is still  a major player when it comes to profitability. 

Among the rules that Google has changed recently is loosening the definition of match types so that “Exact Match” doesn’t actually mean “exact” anymore. Google allows close variations of keywords to show and there’s no true “exact” keywords you’re able to target. This allows Google to increase ad revenue. 

When creating a new campaign, merchants find it difficult not to select a non-automated bidding strategy and are forced to click a “not recommended” link to get to a manual strategy. They also have an army of account reps helping to steer account owners to automation. 

Google forces Shopping Links to open in new tabs to encourage multiple clicks on each search results page. This allows Google to increase ad revenue. 

It’s well-documented that a large percentage of Google’s revenue is derived from advertising dollars, and they’re also not doing poorly in that area according to a Statista report.

The changes that have been made, along with experience with automation will certainly give merchants pause, wondering if Google has their best interest at heart.

Simply put, do you feel comfortable handing the wheel over to Google?

Automation Isn’t as Easy as it Sounds

Automated bidding strategies are not that simple. Selecting the correct bidding strategy takes some planning and it’s imperative to also have an understanding the weaknesses of the strategy. Will the automation react fast enough to capture sale periods – especially those like Black Friday or Cyber Monday? 

Automated bidding strategies do alleviate some of the manual work when setup properly, however, the machine learning technology is only as good as the data it’s fed.

Let Us Help

We offer free Digital Advertising audits!

We’re passionate about digital advertising and would love the opportunity to help your team dominate Q4! Our years of experience in Google/Bing, search ads, shopping ads, and display will provide a competitive advantage. 

Contact Us

 

Magento’s Top Shipping Rate Quote Solutions

Magento’s Top Shipping Rate Quote Solutions

Shipping rate quotes are a critical piece of the eCommerce checkout user experience.  As the merchant, you can cause checkout conversion issues if the right options are not available or the rates are to high.  Conversely, if rate quotes are to low you can end up losing a lot of money on shipping. With the advancement of low cost expedited shipping options from Amazon in the past few years, it has become critical for eCommerce sites to leverage rate quoting solutions that provide customers with all the necessary shipping options, quoted at the correct price.

Out-of-the-box Magento comes equipped with some very good basic tools for powering shipping quotes. These tools include:

  • Live rate quotes via API per product weight and destination for the major carriers (Fedex, UPS, USPS and DHL)
  • Free shipping per cart and product conditions
  • Flat rate per cart
  • Table rates per product weight or cart total per city, state and zip code

If you have basic shipping requirements such as shipping all of your products from one warehouse, to one country, through one carrier, then the basic tools provided by Magento could suffice.

However, your shipping requirements may be more complex and require additional features to support some or many of the following:

  • Shipping from multiple warehouses
  • Using multiple carriers
  • Dimensional shipping
  • In-store pickup
  • Smart packing (choosing what box a collection of items should ship in)
  • LTL freight
  • Hazardous materials
  • Date and time display or selection

In this case, you will need a more robust set of tools for powering shipping quotes.  These tools can be sourced from one or all of the following:

  • Third party apps
  • Third party extensions
  • Custom development

Third Party Apps

One of the first and best options for employing a robust set of shipping quote tools is to connect Magento to a third party software as a service (SaaS) app like ShipperHQ.  Third party SaaS apps work by connecting to Magento via APIs accessible through an extension installed into Magento. Once connected, Magento sends details about the items found in the cart to the app and the app returns to Magento shipping quote options that can be based on many variables and rules. Rules such as, but not limited to:

  • Live rate API connections to the major carriers (UPS, Fedex, USPS, DHL and other major LTL Freight providers)
  • Shipping from multiple warehouses
  • Comparing and displaying lowest price per multiple carriers and tables
  • Dimensional shipping
  • In-store pickup
  • Smart packing (choosing what box a collection of items should ship in)
  • LTL freight
  • Hazardous materials
  • Date and time display or selection

Third party apps are often the most reliable and cost efficient method for getting high quality tools to power shipping quotes.  Since these apps are SaaS they benefit from the advantages gained through many users sharing the same set of features on one platform:

  • Feature rich – since one platform must serve many types of business needs
  • Lower cost – many users are shouldering the cost of development
  • Higher quality (fewer bugs) –  there are so many active users, bugs are usually reported and fixed quickly
  • High uptime and performance – the app is critical to the checkouts of thousands of merchants

The one downside of SaaS apps is that they cannot always cover every feature you may require for powering shipping quotes. However, some apps, like ShipperHQ, do provide custom flexibility in their Magento extension that allows their output to be filtered and adjusted within the Magento checkout code.  This allows for additional extension or custom custom module output to be integrated with the ShipperHQ shipping rate options in the Magento checkout.

 

Third Party Magento Marketplace Extensions

Another option for gaining additional shipping quote tools is to install third party shipping quote extensions to Magento.  Many extensions exist with features such as:

  • Shipping from multiple warehouses
  • Dimensional shipping
  • In-store pickup
  • Smart packing (choosing what box a collection of items should ship in)
  • LTL freight tables
  • Hazardous material surcharges
  • Date and time display or selection

Third party extensions often do a good job at addressing one specific feature (ie. in-store pickup) but don’t necessarily integrate well with other shipping extensions.   If, for example you need in-store pickup and LTL freight tables, you would have to install two separate extensions. That could pose an issue since those separate extensions were not likely developed to work together.  It could take a good deal of custom code to make the LTL freight tables extension work with the in-store pickup extension and as a result there may be many bugs to work through with shipping rates. A further issue is that as Magento releases future upgrades and patches, additional effort will be required to maintain and update the integration of the two extensions.

A third party extension can be a great solution for one specific shipping rate feature, but combining many third party shipping extensions is typically not a good idea. This is because development costs to integrate the multiple shipping extensions will be high and you’ll likely spend a lot of time and effort resolving bugs.

Custom Development

Sometimes there are no third party apps or extensions that can deliver the features needed to power a shipping rate quote.  In these cases, custom development is required. Typically, custom development does not account for all the features and functionality needed in a shipping rate solution. Instead it is used to extend or bridge the functionality of native Magento features, SaaSfeatures or Magento extensions.

For example, in-store pickup. While there is a third party marketplace extension to provide this feature, the extension may not sort the closest stores available for pickup based on the shopper’s geo-ip location or shipping address.  In this case custom development could be used to leverage geo-ip data from another extension and shipping address information to provide the user with a list of in-store pickup locations that are closest to the buyer.

Custom development is often the last step in producing a first class shipping rate solution on Magento as it allows us to streamline the SaaS app, native feature or third party extension output to provide an optimized set of shipping or in-store pickup options at checkout.  In our experience, most sizable eCommerce merchants use custom development in conjunction with SaaSapps, third party extensions and native Magento features to create robust and competitive shipping options.

In Conclusion…

Providing your shopper with the shipping options they want has always been important, but now with the competition from Amazon Prime it has become critical.  Magento, together with its out-of-the-box features, SaaS app options, third party extensions and custom development options provides great affordable tools for helping you provide the shipping options today’s online shoppers are seeking.

To learn more about Magneto shipping options and how to get the absolute most out of your eCommerce site, contact us today. We are a certified Magento partner and have been developing eCommerce sites since the 1990’s. Put our experience to work for you.

Building Qualified Online Leads with Limited Resources with Michael Dennis – B2B Marketing Expo in Los Angeles

Building Qualified Online Leads with Limited Resources with Michael Dennis – B2B Marketing Expo in Los Angeles

 

 

A lead magnet is an incentive businesses offer potential customers in exchange for their contact information and should accomplish two things. 1) Be valuable enough for your target audience to be willing to exchange their contact information for it. 2) Establish your brand as capable, knowledgeable and cutting edge in the customer’s eyes.

But is it possible to create this kind of collateral with limited budgets and resources?

Michael Dennis, Director of Marketing at InteractOne, spoke to a packed crowd at the LA B2B Marketing Expo on October 3rd. His presentation showed content creators how they could utilize limited resources to create lead magnets that will grab the attention of potential clients and ultimately drive more and more hot leads to your business.

If you’d like to learn how to masterfully market your B2B business, contact us today.  In business for over 20 years, our certified Magento developers and marketers know the eCommerce site art and science front-to-back and can help you make the absolute most of your site and brand. 

 

 

 

 

7 Steps Every Merchant Must Take After Launching a New Website

7 Steps Every Merchant Must Take After Launching a New Website

Whether you’re launching a new domain name or migrating a site to Magento 2, it’s natural to take a sigh of relief once your new site goes live. However, that’s when the continuous effort begins to get traffic and make this new site convert to its highest potential. These are the important steps we recommend merchants take after building a new website. Some of these may seem unconventional, but they are vital post-launch tasks to help ensure a successful eCommerce site.

Collect data

The absolute first thing you need to do, preferably before even going live, is set up all of the data tracking you can. This will ensure that you’ll be able to make data-based decisions with your marketing and site changes. You just spent a lot of time and money designing a site based off of emotion and your preferences, but there could be a lot of changes necessary based on the data of how people actually engage with your site design.

We suggest using Google Tag Manager (GTM) for most tracking, which allows you to manage tags without making multiple changes to your site. Google Analytics, PPC conversion tracking, remarketing tags, most email marketing software and a number of other tracking snippets can all be run through GTM. More advanced utilities, like conversion rate optimization and A/B testing tools, might need to be run directly on your site via a module dedicated to that activity.

Setting up your data tracking also helps you get ahead of the curve on audience building within Google and Bing Ads, as well as email marketing software. Even if you’re not utilizing those types of marketing campaigns just yet, installing the tracking tags on your site to gather visitor data so your audience is populated when you are ready to begin a paid search or email campaign. Momentum is a very real phenomenon in successful digital marketing campaigns, and having reliable data populated within your different systems helps get the ball moving.

 

Email Your Audience

Send an announcement email to your existing contacts. We recommend you send it using a system that can track clicks and engagement to start collecting that data! Previous customers or visitors that are familiar with your brand are more likely to interact with your new site and tell you what they do and don’t like about it, even if it’s just through the user engagement data you gather.

If you aren’t currently running any email campaigns, consider the old Chinese proverb about planting trees – the best time to start email was 15 years ago. The 2nd best time is now.

The easiest way to start with an email campaign is to integrate an email marketing software with your website that can automate messaging and has built-in campaigns such as shopping cart abandonment and welcome emails. The less work it takes to implement email communications, the less intimidating it seems. 

Don’t pay for useless traffic.

Add traffic slowly so that you can review the data and know how to convert it. Conversions are the reason an eCommerce website exists.

Design for both looks and function. Your site needs to make people feel like sticking around long enough to be amazed by how the it’s so friendly and easy to use. Don’t pay for traffic that doesn’t convert, but identify if it’s the quality of traffic or the site or the landing page that is hindering people from engaging.

Merchandise

Great product images and video are what contribute to a great website moreso than the theme or design. Work on optimizing generic images and descriptions, then add your own branded media such as videos, reviews, or other product feedback that only you as a manufacturer or distributor or retailer can provide.

Create content so good that it deserves to be shared on Facebook and Twitter, and be at the top of the search engines – that’s how you become an authority in your industry.

Work on Your Brand

Make customers familiar with your name and logo. Start a branding campaign on social channels, display campaigns and remarketing ads.

People love a success story – share yours, some of your employees’ and your customers’ stories in product content and highlight posts.

Deliver a Stellar Customer Experience

Delivering an awesome customer experience is the best competitive advantage you can have over your competition. Understand that your site is just part of the customer experience – get your team excited about continuous improvement on the new site. Often times we see internal teams at odds with each other over new site design or features: some people don’t like change, others drive it and don’t understand the hesitancy. Getting your entire team on board with sharing ideas and improving the website itself and the customer experience overall will help with employee and customer satisfaction.

 

Test Everything

Circling back around to collecting data, the entire reason you track as much data as you can is so that you can use that data to make better, more informed marketing and business decisions. There’s a mindset to get into when managing a website, especially a new design, even if it’s representing a mature brand, and that’s to always be testing everything from PPC ad copy to product pricing. There are intelligent CRO utilities to help provide data and A/B testing functionality to your site, but don’t forget you should also be testing messaging within your advertising and email campaigns

Although your team can be emotionally connected to a new site, the rest of the world only cares about solving their own problems. Don’t let the project you just launched lull you into a false sense of relaxation. Celebrate your victory with the new site, and then get back at it to market and tune it to best suit your customers’ needs.

To learn more about how to optimize your new website, or if you’re in the market for a new eCommerce site, contact us today. In business for over 20 years, our certified Magento developers know the eCommerce site art and science front-to-back and can help you make the absolute most of your site.

 

Top 10 Digital Advertising Tips to Maximize Q4 Revenue

Top 10 Digital Advertising Tips to Maximize Q4 Revenue

Digital advertising during the 4th quarter can provide some of the most rewarding returns of the whole year, especially for eCommerce companies. With rising conversion rates and increased revenue opportunity, the competition within the digital advertising space also heats up. 

The main portion of the sale season including Black Friday through Cyber Week has become one long sale for many companies. Recent trends have shown that more people are enjoying Thanksgiving again with a decline in Black Friday brick-n-mortar stores, however, they’re more-likely shopping from the couch on a phone. 

Each of the renowned shopping days increased YoY in 2018, with Cyber Monday becoming the biggest revenue eCommerce day in history. Amazon even mentioned, without providing data, that Cyber Monday beat out their Prime Day.

The stakes are rising annually and preparing to earn traffic to your website is just as valuable as converting the visitors.

Winning the 4th quarter takes a complete team effort. Any small competitive advantage over the competition is enhanced during this time of the year. We’ve compiled a list of our Top 10 digital advertising tips for maximizing your revenue in Q4. Let’s get to it!

#1 Synced Holiday-Specific Ad Copy

There are plenty of clicks to be earned simply by having more-relevant ad copy than your competition. At minimum, the Headline 2 and the Description 1 & 2 within Google Ads should echo the messaging of the site. 

For example, during a “Black Friday Starts Now” sale period, your ads should include that in the copy! Matching the messaging that will be placed in site-wide messages and banners will create a seamless transition for searchers.

This is an excellent strategy especially if the advertising budget is smaller than the competition. Focusing on click-through rate (CTR) with hyper-focused and timely ad copy will earn your company more traffic and revenue.

#2 Labels & Automation

Complementing the #1 tip, a labeling system to automate many of the ad copy changes will save the team time. For example, if your marketing team lands on specific days to run messaging for Black Friday Starts Now, Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Cyber Week – all of these ads can be built ahead of time and labeled. 

Using labels for each set of ads will make ad copy changes much easier to automate. Rather than ad copy changes at midnight from Black Friday copy to Cyber Monday, use a Google Ads script to do the work for you!

#3 Understand Bid Strategy Weaknesses & Overcome

If your account is taking advantage of some of the machine-learning automation bid strategies, you’ll want to understand how they can be a disadvantage in Q4. Will the AI learn quickly enough to adjust bids with your competition? Processes need to be in-place to adjust campaign bid strategies so that competitors don’t earn your revenue.

#4 Establish Must-Win Campaigns

Some segments of the business contribute more to the bottom line than others. Ensure the digital marketing team understands which categories or products or search terms need to be monitored heavily.

In large accounts, many changes can be made in bulk, however specific attention needs to be spent in a must-win scenario. Account for this extra time when planning out the tasks needed to win Q4.

#5 Evaluate & Increase Bid Mods

Not all traffic is the same and your conversion rates will vary depending on where/who the traffic is coming from. Bid modifiers allow you to pick out the most important visitors and bid on them differently. Conversely, you can bid down on those who have shown a lower propensity to purchase.

Bid modifiers include device, gender, location, time of day, and more. Additionally, you can select specific audiences to place bid modifications on like shoppers who abandon cart, visitors within the last 3 days, or visitors that have spent double the average time on site.

Your competition is preparing for Q4 too, so make sure your most valuable audiences bid mods are increased. Paying attention to the trends can also play a key role here. You can leave a large amount of revenue on the table if your digital team and website aren’t ready for mobile.

Online shopping on mobile devices for the entire five-day period(Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday) showed a significant increase over last year, representing 54.3 percent of site visits (46.6 percent smartphones, 7.7 percent tablets), up 18.9 percent over 2017. Mobile devices collectively accounted for 35.9 percent of revenue, an 18.3 percent year-over-year increase.

Marcia Kaplan

Practical Ecommerce

#6 Countdown Ads

Running countdown ads are a great way to dynamically create urgency for searchers and beat out competitors for clicks. Within Google Ads (and Bing), you’re able to set an end date for ads which fits perfectly into our prior example of the Q4 holiday periods.

The Headline 1 could say “Black Friday Shoe Sale Ends in 8 Hours” or something similar. The countdown ad will dynamically change the ad text from weeks to days to hours to minutes. Imagine someone search for your category at 11:50PM and your ad reads “Black Friday Shoes Sale Ends in 10 Minutes.” That sets an urgent mindset before the user even visits your site, likely increasing conversion rate.

#7 Understand the Enemy

Your competitors have a huge impact on your Q4 earnings, especially when conversion rates are peaking. Monitor your competitor’s strategy and set-up a plan for how your team will react in an emergency scenario.

If your team doesn’t have the advantage of years of experience, you can begin by using existing data. Using last year’s data, start with the Auction Insights tool within Google Ads. At varying levels of depth (search terms, ad groups, campaigns) within the account, you’ll be able to understand how competitors bid up or down during specific times –  assuming your account is structured properly to evaluate and retrieve this good data.

Once you have good notes on the competition, it’s a good idea to divvy out responsibilities to team members for campaigns or search terms to monitor during key days like Black Friday or Cyber Monday.

 

#8 Holiday Extensions

Google and Bing typically offer promotion extensions or holiday-specific extensions.

Extensions are additional information that you’re able to add to a search ad. They’re excellent for communicating specific information that improves your click-through rate and take up more search real estate. Coupon codes can be used as well as specific percentages off of a product or dollar amount.

 

 

#9 Start Late Q3 or Sooner

Account sizes vary greatly, so you’ll want to timeline the tasks out and give yourself ample time to complete the work before Q4 begins. It’s rare that marketing plans aren’t changed on the fly in small-to-medium companies and with the bulk of the work done, it will be easier to adapt to changes.

 

#10 Monitor Progress

The digital marketing team should always be monitoring the business’ progress and how the competition is responding. Eat healthy and take breaks throughout the day on what will likely be late nights for the team.

 

More tactics and tricks can be used depending on the industry data and how your competition executes their plan. Every account is unique! We’ll help tailor a plan to maximize your desires for Q4. Contact us for a free digital advertising audit today!

 

Let Us Help!

We’re passionate about digital advertising and would love the opportunity to help your team dominate Q4! Our years of experience in Google/Bing, search ads, shopping ads, and display will provide a competitive advantage. We also offer free Digital Advertising audits.