2019’s 5 Biggest eCommerce Trends

2019’s 5 Biggest eCommerce Trends

eCommerce Trends

As technology continues to get better, so does the eCommerce shopping experience. Below are a few trends in the world of eCommerce that we are tracking in 2019:

1. Smaller Merchants Moving to SaaS Platforms

Just a few years ago, some Software as a Service (SaaS) eCommerce platforms were around but generally lacked the necessary tools and functionality to be full-featured and reliable enough for many eCommerce merchants to consider. Now, technology has evolved enough that SaaS is slowly becoming the new standard.

This year, more smaller eCommerce merchants are likely to make the switch to SaaS platforms for a variety of reasons. For one, this model makes for a much simpler process for small businesses to manage—merchants can access the entire platform via the web. SaaS platforms provide other benefits too, including faster (and typically automatic) site upgrades that are included in the monthly fee and the need for less in-house tech support since the provider managers the underlying platform. Additionally, some merchants who originally chose an open-source platform such as Magento years ago may decide to move over to a SaaS solution, rather than upgrade to Magento 2

2. Competitor Analysis, Redefined

Over the years, defining exactly what and who a competitor is has become more complex. There are: traditional product line (category) competitors, organic SEO competitors, paid listing and advertising competitors, market share competitors (think Amazon), and disruptive competitors that sell only the cutting-edge products that will potentially replace what are being sold today.

This means that when considering tactics on how to compete with other merchants, it is important to benchmark against them from that same tactical space. In 2019, the competitive landscape has shifted, and we have admittedly seen many retailers that haven’t been able to keep up. Often times this is due to having an incomplete or inaccurate picture of who a given merchant’s competition really is.

It’s even possible that the merchants stealing your market share aren’t the ones selling the same stuff as you but are actually in the same boat!

3. A Greater Focus on Capturing Channel & Third-Party Customers

From a trends point-of-view, Amazon, Google, and other third-party sellers are a double-edged sword for online retailers. Having products on Amazon can generate high-volume sales, but can also expose merchants to competitive scrutiny like price undercutting and extreme profit margin pressure.

To counteract this, merchants are now looking for ways to get customers to buy directly from them instead of through the third-party channel. This allows merchants to circumvent the extremely tight restrictions on package inclusions that third-party channels often enforce. Additionally, merchants are offering products and formats like bulk pricing on their site that aren’t offered elsewhere. This leads to better SEO and greater visibility while reducing dependence on third-party channels, both of which will make this a growing trend throughout 2019.

4. Emphasizing Delivery & Fulfillment Marketing

Thanks in large part to Amazon, the new delivery standard customers have come to expect is 2-day shipping. This has forced eCommerce merchants large and small to rethink their delivery and fulfillment strategies in order to compete. But don’t worry—there’s still a variety of ways to do so other than lightning-fast delivery.

Look for many companies to put a greater emphasis on their packaging styles this year. Instead of opting to send customers their product in typical brown-box packaging, eCommerce merchants are getting a leg up on the competition with more colorful, exciting designs. This trend allows merchants to further customize their customer’s experience as well as to differentiate themselves and stand out from other businesses.

eCommerce Trends

Additionally, more merchants have started including printed promo inclusions inside the packages they are sending. This promo can be anything from 20% off a customer’s next order to a free sample of another product. These inclusions can help assuage the low satisfaction a customer may feel in a delivery experience that takes longer than expected or can be used as just another way to keep customers satisfied.

5. Rethinking Page Layout

In an effort to simplify the customer path-to-purchase and overall user experience, many merchants have begun to completely rethink how their webstore is laid out. In a market as saturated as it is today, merchants know that they need better product photography, more unique product descriptions, and better filter options for customers to be happy on their website. 

Put simply, merchants are making the move to a simpler purchasing experience for their customers (which can be harder than you might think). Businesses that learn to make the purchase process simple will see greater conversions and greater customer satisfaction with the order experience.

2019: The Year to Try Something New

2019 is poised to be an exciting year with big changes in the world of eCommerce. These trends are currently helping shape the strategies of merchants both of a large and small scale. Want to talk about applying some of these techniques to your eCommerce business? Contact our team of experts today.

The Best Live Chat Practices for Your eCommerce Site

The Best Live Chat Practices for Your eCommerce Site

live chat

For many eCommerce merchants, their website’s live chat function is one of their primary means of communication with customers. That is why it’s crucial for eCommerce merchants to adhere to a well-developed set of best practices that helps to ensure their live chat representatives leave their customers feeling engaged and satisfied with the interaction.

Fortunately, we have created a list of the live chat tactics that will help eCommerce merchants provide customers with a great online experience. Although some tips may seem simple in nature, many businesses fail to get the basic components to a successful live chat experience right.

1. Visibility is Key

One of the most important aspects of live chat is its visibility. If customers can’t immediately see this feature while they are shopping, chances are they won’t search it out. In order to be easily detected, the window should be in the bottom right corner of the page with some sort of bright icon that is easy on the eyes yet readily seen. Even better, reach out to the customer first! Automate the first message to communicate with the customer before they run into an issue – that way they immediately have a helpful resource at their disposal.

Visibility also means that live chat should be available on every page in the same spot. If a customer ever runs into a problem they shouldn’t have to backpedal to the main page to receive assistance.

H3: 2. Respond Quickly

Replying promptly is the most important function an eCommerce site’s live chat can serve. Quick response times showcase a businesses’ ability to be attentive and professional in handling customer issues. An easy way to ensure that your live chat is speedy is to set up an automated response for initial contact followed by a swift follow up from a real representative. This way, shoppers will be engaged immediately and be attended to as quickly as possible.

3. Ask Questions

Understanding exactly what a shopper is asking using the live chat feature is the key to properly solving and answering their question. To get a full scope of the issue, instruct your live chat representatives to ask plenty of detailed, pointed questions at the beginning of the interaction to understand exactly what the issue is. Being thorough at the start of a conversation will help save time for both the representative and the customer later on.

4. Avoid Robotic Responses

An eCommerce merchant should sound professional, but also like a human being. Sounding too robotic will give the impression that there isn’t a person on the end of the line, which will leave the customer feeling isolated. Greet the customer warmly as they sign on and consider personalizing it with their name. Ask how they’re doing and how you can help them. Maintain a friendly tone throughout the interaction to keep that personal touch.

Additionally, be sure to maintain a tone of voice that properly reflects your brand. If you sell high tech gadgets and tools, you may be slightly more professional than an eCommerce store selling makeup or jewelry.

5. Know When to Escalate

A live chat representative should do everything in their power and capability to fix the customer’s issue. When they can’t, they should know when to escalate to a supervisor, IT professional, or alternative department. Be sure to vocalize this to the customer and assure them that help is on the way – if you take too long or leave them hanging they are more likely to abandon their cart and seek out a different merchant.

6. “Is There Anything Else I Can Help You With?”

Once the live chat representative shares their solution with the customer, they should confirm that they have solved the customer’s problem. Once this is complete, they should ask, “Is there anything else I can help you with?” The customer may have additional issues to discuss and it should be the live chat representative’s goal to provide a comprehensive customer service experience. Even if the customer doesn’t have additional questions, it highlights the eCommerce merchant’s commitment to superior customer service.

7. Ask for Feedback

Once the customer confirms they have no other concerns, an eCommerce merchant should present them with a poll or request comments on the interaction. This type of direct request is a great way for an eCommerce site to gain valuable feedback and continue improving their live chat service.

For more tips on how to create the optimal live chat experience for online customers, contact our team of experienced eCommerce professionals today.

The Automotive eCommerce Guide to Navigation and Images

The Automotive eCommerce Guide to Navigation and Images

automotive eCommerce

In order to construct a visually appealing Automotive eCommerce site that promotes a fluid customer experience, there are two important things to keep in mind: know your customer and keep it simple.

Those statements may seem obvious. Certainly you must identify your customer base, and of course, you shouldn’t over-complicate your site. As obvious as it may sound, many Automotive eCommerce sites get it wrong. Whether that is due to the considerable amount of data on the topic or simply the nature of the industry, here are some tips to help keep you above par.

The best converting Auto eCommerce sites are the ones that are easy to navigate. First, identify your niche. Then, cater your navigation to your specific customer. The biggest challenge is always the data.

Data Should Fit the Customer Experience – Not the Other Way Around

Data is arguably one of the most difficult aspects of Automotive eCommerce because it is extensive, complex, and ever-changing. Recent trends in the Automotive industry point to the year, make, model, and engine-filtered navigation. We have seen Auto eCommerce companies spend so much time, money, and effort simply integrating this functionality that they gloss over the issue of how a customer actually shops. The best automotive eCommerce sites are the ones that are extremely simple and easy to navigate with the ability to land customers on a very relevant and specific landing page. That’s very hard to do with the year, make, and model lookup. Our favorite (and the best converting) sites are the ones that utilize categorized navigation effectively, such as runningboardwarehouse.com and bumpersuperstore.com.


Running Board Warehouse separates their navigation into vehicle, category, and brand.


Bumper Superstore has multiple categories (including best selling, front and rear, style, vehicle, and all) that allow the customer to shop in a way that best suits their needs.

Make the user experience cater to how the customer shops – don’t try to cater the customer experience to the data. Because of data difficulties, merchants should start by identifying their niche (accessories, reused parts, etc.). Once they do, basing your site navigation and user experience around that specific niche will make fitting your data in that much easier.

Images Can Make or Break a Conversion

Automotive parts sites are often notorious for having either poor quality or catch-all representative images. Merchants that successfully convert prospects to customers generally take their own photos. Some do better than others, but having images that are detailed, bright, enlargeable, and vehicle-specific are more likely to resonate with customers. Nobody with a Dodge Ram wants to look at a Ford F-150 when shopping for aftermarket accessories – they want to know what the product is going to look like on their vehicle.

Often times images are pushed to the back of the to-do list. But, if you’re selling online, you need actual photos of every individual part. When people are searching for a specific product online, they use their eyes to verify that they are purchasing the right thing. If there are basic filler images and customers receive a product that’s not right, they won’t trust you again. They need to be able to look at the picture and description and know that’s what they need.

Consistency is key, but lifestyle images should be incorporated into your site as well. If someone is searching for a tonneau cover, they want to see how to use it. They want inspiration – so inspire them to buy your products by showing them how to use the product and its various features. This can be done with images and video – don’t limit your team to just a photographer. Investing in video will pay off and help you inspire ideas and trust with customers. Incorporate videos onto your site with product demonstrations, installation how-to, Q&A, and customer testimonials.

Build a Community

Keep in mind that your customers are enthusiasts. Build a community around your brand with good content, social and email outreach/remarketing, or even some sort of rewards program. These days, when things are increasingly competitive in the auto industry, it’s a necessity to do more to engage your customers after their initial purchase. For additional help in building a strong customer following, check out one of our previous blogs on the topic.

If you need assistance with your automotive eCommerce site, feel free to contact us today.

How User Intent Can Impact Website Traffic

How User Intent Can Impact Website Traffic

user intent

Getting visitors to a website requires work, and that’s only half the battle. No matter how  good your SEO strategy and tactics, visitors won’t stay around long if they don’t easily find what they’re looking for. A successful site anticipates user intent—the reasons behind the search—and provides content that will satisfy it.

Types of Searches

When a user goes online to conduct a search, sometimes they are looking for general information on a topic. Other times they want something specific. These specific searches are most valuable because they are more likely to turn into business transactions. In order to understand why visitors are coming to your website, try classifying the searches they conduct that ultimately lead them there.

Most internet searches can be classified into 3 different forms of intent:

  • Topical: Searches for information about a topic may be general or specific. If the searcher is looking for an answer to a particular question and finds it on a site, that can lead to bookmarking the site and coming back again.
  • Website-specific: Searches aimed at finding a particular website are very specific and demonstrate prior interest. These will often lead to a business transaction.
  • Transactional: Searches aimed at a transaction, such as a purchase or subscription, are specific and promise a quick conversion—if the site handles them properly.

How Intent Affects Content

As the internet has developed and evolved, search engines have become much better at understanding intent. As a result, strategies to increase website traffic have changed too. For example, crude SEO tactics like keyword stuffing haven’t been effective for some time (in fact, they will often result in lowering your SEO ranking). This is why matching content to what the user wants and expects to see produces better results than trying to game the system. And when a user sees what they were looking for on your website, the opportunity to do business with them is that much greater.

To achieve the best results, website creators should design each page with a clear knowledge of its end purpose. Is it to provide a general introduction to the business, to answer questions about it, or to sell a product? Creators need to put themselves into the user’s shoes. What are people going to search for, and what kind of content will satisfy them?

Pages designed specifically to optimize SEO can fail when it comes to giving the user the information they are actually searching for. For example, a business could lose potential customers if their website visitors have to look extensively for the address of a nearby store but find only testimonials about how great the company is. Instead, website creators should provide a store locator with a conspicuous link to it on the homepage. This same strategy comes to play when searchers are looking for a certain product, only to land on a page that displays it but doesn’t even say if it is available for purchase or not. Product searches should yield product-specific results.

The bottom line is that sales will be much harder to make if the user can’t get to where they want to go and fast. A page should make it clear from a quick glance that it has the information relevant to the searcher’s intent. If the information is buried too deep within the page, chances are it won’t be very effective.

How to Understand Intent

Several techniques will help you understand what the intent is of your website visitors.

Searching social media and forums for mentions of the site will provide valuable information about what people want to know. Your site can also add an FAQ page directed at answering common questions and facilitating sales.

One of the best ways to understand user intent is by trying out search terms and looking at the list of related searches. For example, a search for “socket wrench” on Google reveals that related searches include “socket wrench sizes” and “ratchet socket wrench.” This simple example search reveals that most people searching for these keywords need information on the size and types of wrenches available. Use this technique to tailor your website’s content to make sure people can find the information they need.

Online tools such as KeywordTool.io give lists of words and phrases related to a given keyword. They help provide clues about what people are searching for, as well as unrelated intents that offer no value. People searching for “a wrenching experience” probably aren’t immediately interested in buying socket wrenches.

To get the most out of every visit, a website needs to have content that mirrors the intent of its visitors. Research and planning are the keys to accomplishing this. If you’d like help, please contact us.

How to Re-Engage Dormant Email Subscribers

How to Re-Engage Dormant Email Subscribers

dormant subscribers

Dormant subscribers are among the biggest challenges an email marketer must face.

In the modern digital world, email subscribers are a significant part of your success. These are people who are interested in your newsletters, excited by seasonal deals, and more likely to come back as repeat buyers time and time again. But what happens when one (or more) of your subscribers stop opening emails or clicking on links?

It’s incredibly difficult to understand exactly why a subscriber has chosen to stop opening your emails. Perhaps they are bored with what they may view as repetitive offers, assuming they already know what’s inside the message. Or their email service started sorting your messages into the spam folder. Or they have just been super-busy, so have been skipping lots of emails, including yours. Fortunately, there are a number of ways to effectively re-engage your dormant subscribers or determine if they’re out for good.

Change Up Your Subject Lines

The first and easiest step to re-engage subscribers is simply to change the way you write subject lines. Over time, subscribers may begin to skim over your emails, noting that they have seen that subject line previously and assume they already know what’s inside. To break that pattern, step out of your rigid subject structure and try something new.

If you regularly focus your subject lines on discount percent (ex: “September 20% discount opportunities!”), try focusing on seasonal specials (ex: Our famous holiday desserts are on the menu!”) or even speaking to the subscribers directly (“Your favorite ice cream is on sale this week at LocalStore!”). The key is to significantly change the way you address your subscribers. Surprise them, or better yet, offer them something new. Inspire them to take a second look at your content.

Send ‘From’ a Different Email Address

Although it often goes unnoticed, the “from” address is an important aspect of subscriber response. The ‘from’ line of an email is how we judge who is sending us a message. Is it a robot or a person? A stranger or someone we already know? Especially on mobile, the “from” address is big and bold – and when scrolling through dozens of emails, it’s easy to filter through content based on the sender. By changing “who” your email appears to be from, you can inspire subscribers to subtly or even completely re-think how they look at your emails.

Additionally, certain “from” fields can trigger automatic spam filtration – which is detrimental to open rates. If a subscriber has stopped reading your emails because they always land in the spam bin, a new source email and ‘from’ address can get you back in the main inbox.

Incentivizing the Click

Incentivizing the click is all about offering something new. Make a big splash with a significant or personal offer. Or offer content that isn’t sale or discount focused, but that simply helps lift your brand or makes a connection with or provides value to your subscribers. Make sure it is out-of-sync with your normal marketing schedule and offers something your subscribers aren’t expecting to see. This one-time out-of-the-ordinary communication and more surprises like it in the future may be enough to re-engage customers who just haven’t felt like engaging lately.

Reviewing Your Contact Data

Take a closer look at the data available about your dormant subscribers. Before investing too much in re-engagement, it’s important to know what you’re working with. For example, someone may have changed jobs and no longer uses that particular email address at all. Or maybe they moved away from your physical store location and, therefore, have stopped looking for local deals.

A little bit of research and certain industry tools can help you identify some clear reasons why someone no longer reads your content. Some of the reasons may indicate a subscriber who is recoverable, while others may lead you to let them go permanently.

Remove Truly Unengaged Subscribers

This last tip brings us to our final point: if a subscriber is genuinely no longer interested or if all engagement strategies fail, cut them loose. You don’t need inactive names cluttering your mailing lists and reducing your email “engagement scores”, when there are real, engaged customers to work with. You can significantly improve your overall results by knowing when it’s time to scratch a name off your list. Not only is this good for your efficiency, but it will increase open rate percentage and decreases your chance of being flagged as a spam IP.

Address the Problem Quickly

If you have a mailing list that is starting to wane, don’t let the problem continue as-is. Do everything you can to re-engage interest with your subscribers by following these tips and attempting something new. If you need assistance, feel free to contact us today.

The Factors Impacting Email Deliverability

The Factors Impacting Email Deliverability

Email Deliverability

Email marketing is a great tool for establishing relationships with potential customers, current customers, and even past customers because it gives you the opportunity to reach out to them directly through their inbox. But in order for email marketing to be to be an effective tool of communication, the email must get to the mailbox and must be read. Service providers and end users filter aggressively against spam, and you need to make sure your messages don’t get caught by those spam filters.

There are four main factors which affect deliverability; three of them are directly under your control, while the other is a matter of user behavior (which is still a directly connected to what you send).

Subject Lines and Content

An obvious factor affecting email deliverability is the subject line and actual content of the messages. Using “spam words” can get a message blocked, even if they serve legitimate business purposes. Avoid overusing expressions like “free,” “must respond today,” and “urgent.” This is especially crucial when crafting a subject line. Anything that looks too good to be true is likely to be flagged – a straightforward description is more likely to get through.

Also, don’t overload the message with images. Having a message that consists of one big image may look great when you compose it, but the odds of it being flagged as spam are high. A good rule of thumb: email content should contain around 40% images and 60%  text.

Additionally, here are a couple of content tips that affect deliverability:

  • Be careful with your links. A link to a website with a bad reputation will land your messages in a black hole.
  • Always include a clear unsubscribe link and the sender’s physical mailing address.
  • Do not use excessive capitalization or punctuation.

Domain Usage

Your sending domain or Email Service Provider (ESP) carries a reputation that affects deliverability. If your domain has a good reputation, your chances of successful delivery are good. If you are blacklisted because you made a mistake or someone started a campaign of malicious complaints, make fixing your reputation a priority.

The “From” address should always use a domain which your business controls. Using Hotmail or Gmail addresses for business mail looks unprofessional and is likely to get your messages blocked. Further, periodically run your domains through a blacklist checker, like MX Toolbox. That way you know if you’ve been flagged for spam or other complaints that could lead to blacklisting.

Additional tip: Consider having different domains for marketing emails vs transactional, that way if one becomes compromised or receives complaints, you can continue sending from the other.

IP Addresses

The Internet Protocol address is a numerical identifier of the sender’s server. All devices connected to a computer network have an IP address and thus every email is sent from one. As long as you keep it secure, no one else can send mail from it.

An IP address reflects the reputation of the sender, which is based on several factors.

  • Send volume: the number of emails sent.
  • Send frequency: the number of campaigns that are deployed per week or month.
  • User interaction: individuals who open and click — and complain or unsubscribe.
  • Quality: percentages of bounces or undeliverable emails.

IP reputation affects how an Internet Service provider will treat an email. Many companies utilize an ESP to send marketing emails. There are two types of IP addresses that ESP’s use:

  • Shared: More than one company or brand is sending from one IP address
  • Dedicated: The company or brand has one unique IP address

Some service providers issue a pool of IP addresses that all their customers share. If your sending volumes are small and you can benefit from the pooling volume (with other senders), make sure you educate yourself on their best practices and look into their efforts on ensuring a good IP reputation.

If your sending volume grows and you need to use a dedicated IP address, remember that it has no previous history – meaning that its reputation, good or bad, is up to you. Start small and gradually increase the number of emails you are sending. Begin by sending to your most engaged audience – this sends good signals to the mailbox regarding your reputation. As mailboxes begin to regard you as a responsible sender, you can increase the number of emails you are sending.

Recipient Behavior

The way recipients treat your messages can affect the likelihood that they’ll receive your future ones. If they delete your messages without reading them, then smart filters will take that into account. If they do it consistently, the filters will start marking everything you send as spam. If they file reports, their providers will take note. Enough complaints will result in your mail being blocked.

So how do you avoid this? Be strategic with your content. Follow an opt-in policy, make it easy to unsubscribe, and keep the amount of mail within reasonable bounds. The quality of your mail, not the quantity, is what will get engagement.

Follow good email practices, and you’ll get people reading it. Be sure to keep your content fresh and interesting, and analyze data to understand what readers want to read, and what they commonly ignore.

If you need help with your email marketing or want to get started with an ongoing email marketing program, contact us today.

How Social Media Affects SEO

How Social Media Affects SEO

Social Media SEO

We’ll get straight to the point—social media does affect SEO. More interestingly, though, is the question of “How?” Business owners are told over and over again that having a social media presence is key, but sometimes it can be hard to see the benefits. Social media is a great asset for businesses for a lot of reasons: it’s a great customer service tool and a convenient place for customers to get information about a business.

Beyond those incentives, one of the best benefits of social media is the way it works in sync with an SEO strategy. Though social media does not directly impact website rankings, it is still a very powerful tool used to leverage SEO.

Read on to take a closer look at how social media affects SEO by increasing visibility, brand recognition, and more.

Increase Your Online Visibility and Traffic to Your Site

The simple truth is that the more a business puts itself out there, the more people will see it. The main driving force behind any marketing effort is to increase leads and sales—in order to convert potential customers, they must be coming to your site in the first place.

When searching for a company online, social profiles will most likely appear in the first page of search results, usually right under their website. This means that if your company has social media accounts like a Facebook page or Twitter profile, it will serve as another opportunity for potential customers to see you when they make a Google search.

Check out the example below:

Social Media SEO

A simple google search for the word “Magento” has the company’s Twitter account appearing second in the search listing. This may seem minor, but it does increase the chances that they will end up on one of the pages that you control. Remember: the bigger the net, the more fish you catch.

Boost Your Brand Recognition

Brand recognition is important for any company; when an audience can recognize a company by its logos, slogan, or brand colors, you’ve done something right. In order to further increase brand authority, utilize your various social media profiles to encourage social sharing. But, despite the common misconception, “popularity metrics” (like the number of followers or likes) do not cause higher rankings.

What does cause higher rankings, though, is the chance that someone on social media will share your link and increase the number of inbound links to your site. Content will gain popularity—as well as credibility—and this can improve your rankings. Check out this infographic below:

Social Media SEO

As you can see, a couple of things must go right in order to affect rankings in a positive way. In order to help this process, it benefits you to actively build relationships with content creators so they consistently cite your content.

In addition, social sites give customers a chance to review businesses. Reviews can be a huge factor in SEO, especially when it comes to local businesses. Search engine algorithms love reviews, and they make up 13% of ranking factors when it comes to local searches, and 7% for general searches. Be sure to encourage reviews with incentives or gentle reminders through social media; they can make a big difference with customer trust and SEO.  

Extend the Life of Your Content

There are over one billion active daily users on Facebook. That’s a lot of likes, comments, and shares for you to tap into. With a blog, once you publish a post, it can get buried underneath pages and pages of other posts and seem lost forever.

But with social media, you can repost old content when it’s relevant to do so, or blast out messages whenever you want so you know your word is getting out there in a more controlled way. In addition, you can target content towards the audiences you know will benefit most from your messages. That may mean reposting an older blog on Twitter when a similar topic is trending or referencing an older, more-detailed blog in a Facebook post depending on what followers have been most engaged with recently.

Get A Leg Up On Local Rankings

We’ve already discussed the importance of reviews for SEO, but it’s also important to be consistent with business listings and NAP (name-address-phone number) citations. This consistency in how your business is listed across the web (including social media) is essential for local SEO. Social media profiles need to have keyword-rich descriptions, clear indications of services, hours, phone number, and an address that is identical to the one on your Google My Business profile.

When you are consistent with your NAP (meaning the same information shows up on all profiles and directories) search engines understand who you are, what you do, and how users can find your business.

Good Rankings Take Hard Work

Recognize that rankings are an outcome, not an action. The best search optimizers understand the importance of indirect benefits that come from social media. Many aspects of modern marketing are based on relationships—including search. And relationships are created on social media.

If you need any more information on SEO or social media, feel free to contact us today.

Digital Marketing Trends That Are Crushing it in 2018

Digital Marketing Trends That Are Crushing it in 2018

Digital Marketing Trends

Great marketing requires fluidity; you must be able to adapt to different trends, implement new tactics, and test out new powerful tools in order to stay ahead of the game. Consumers are constantly shifting and changing, so no matter what industry you work in or whether you’re a B2B or B2C company, you have to be continually looking towards the future.

Whether you’re crushing it with your current strategy or you need some new ideas to spice things up, you should consider these latest trends when implementing your marketing strategy.

General Marketing Trends

Marketing is a pretty broad term; there is brand marketing, content marketing, product marketing, search marketing, the list goes on and on… That’s why we decided to split the different trends into their respective categories.

Despite the many sectors of marketing, there are some trends that apply to every aspect of the marketing process. Whether you’re a social media marketer, a content marketer, or you work exclusively with SEO, these trends are something you should be paying attention to.

Customers as Marketers

Word-of-mouth is now, without a doubt, the single most valuable marketing tool in a merchant’s utility belt. That means the name of the game is no longer just acquiring customers – it’s creating a wonderful customer experience that influences them to be an advocate for your brand. Implement some strategies that ensure an enjoyable customer experience for all of your consumers.

  • Focus on customer service – both online and in-person (if applicable)
  • Engage with customers on social media and address any complaints as soon as they arise (be sure to avoid these common social media mistakes)
  • Reward loyal customers with discount codes or free shipping to incentivize consumers to continue shopping with the company

Content Marketing Trends

As the year progresses, all kinds of businesses are rolling out new blogs or investing in content-related advertisements. Why? Because statistics don’t lie: 47% of buyers viewed 3-5 pieces of content before reaching out to a sales rep and 70% of people would rather learn about new products through content rather than ads.

Starting a blog is a great way to begin producing content, but in order to successfully engage with your audience, you must curate content that your audience interacts with and enjoys.

Two specific types of content have reigned superior this year (so far): personalized content and bite-sized content.

Personalized Content

As machine learning capabilities increase, customers are becoming more used to one-on-one experiences. Customers want to feel singled out; they enjoy when their buying experience is customized to fit their needs and wants. Statistics back up that theory: 78% of customers say that personalized content increases their purchase intentions and studies show that personalization can increase profits by 500%.

When personalizing content, follow these tips:

  • Engage customers personally at every level. Include their first and last name in emails, curate your website experience to them personally using cookies, and try to respond to them in a personal manner on social media.
  • Collect more data. More data equals more personalization. So ask for the first and last name before they download your guide or subscribe to your monthly newsletter. That way, you have at least the beginning of a leg to stand on when it comes to curating a customer experience.

Bite-sized Content

Did you know that Microsoft published a study showing that people’s average attention span is 8 seconds? You need to be keying in on customer’s critical issues, questions, and concerns with bite-sized content.

  • GIFs, tweets, and short videos are all valuable content types that grab a user’s attention quickly.
  • Try to convey the most important information during this short time. Also, even though the content length is short, you still need to brand. Get your brand in their brains in a repetitive, consistent way.

Social Media Marketing Trends

Social media has been rapidly changing this year. Instagram stories, IGTV, Facebook Stories, the list goes on and on. Social media marketing is crucial for eCommerce and can even increase sales, so make sure your platforms are up to date. Let’s take a look at where 2018 is heading when it comes to social media.

Permanent vs. Ephemeral Content

Instagram stories have really changed the game when it comes to content. There is now permanent content and temporary content to pay attention to. You need to be juggling both and coming out with fresh content both ways.

  • Ephemeral content gives you a good chance to experiment and get a little raw. It’s temporary, so don’t funnel a bunch of funds into it. Keep it light-hearted and engaging.
  • Remember: don’t lose focus on permanent content because you are experimenting with Snapchat or stories. Permanent content is just that: permanent. That content will be out there forever, so make sure it’s engaging and successfully branding your company.

Micro-influencers

Influencers have become a popular trend in modern day marketing. The process usually involves sending your products or services to an influencer, having them test out the products, and then featuring your company or products to their followers depending on the agreement.

Influencers as a whole have really risen this year, but micro-influencers, in particular, have been killing it.

A micro-influencer is a social media promoter with a smaller following – they aren’t technically celebrities, but many have die-hard fan bases that trust their judgment.

  • Find people who would seem like a natural fit with your buyer’s persona. Don’t put your herbal products on the page of a competitive eater – it doesn’t make sense. The whole reason micro-influencers work is that their engagement levels are much higher than celebrities. People trust them. Make sure your products are naturally placed for the best ROI’s.

Search Marketing Trends

SEO marketers should be used to changing up their tactics on the fly. Google’s consistent shifting of algorithm patterns has forced many merchants to learn to adapt quickly. For 2018, one of the most significant SEO trends is the growth of Voice Search.

Voice Search

(We’ve already written an article on this topic, but in order to stress its importance, we’ll put the highlights in this article as well.)

When is the last time you used Siri? Or Alexa? Or Cortana? The list of voice-based assistants continues to grow and it is now predicted that by 2020, over 50% of searches will be voice searches. SEO marketers need to adapt to the way that voice queries search, and continue building a framework that adapts to voice while being consistent on Google search.

  • A good first step is to start doing your research on voice trends. Voice search usually uses queries that are posed as a question. Keep that in mind.

GDPR’s Impact on Marketing

This year we all saw tons of privacy rules and regulations coming out of both North America and Europe. For us in the United States, GDPR required us to adapt to new policies regarding privacy.

General Data Protection Regulation

GDPR significantly changed the nature of how we deal with online privacy. We all use data to market, so make sure that you are compliant with GDPR (even if you don’t think you sell in Europe) because the fines are high and the negative publicity that comes with it can be even worse.

Those are a few of the many marketing trends we are tracking this year. If you are looking for more ways to market your eCommerce store or have questions regarding staying up to date with the latest regulations and marketing strategies, contact us today.

3 Types of eMails That Keep Customers Coming Back Again and Again

3 Types of eMails That Keep Customers Coming Back Again and Again

3 Types of eMails to Send

For eCommerce businesses, eMails are still one of the primary methods of consumer engagement. Emails generate leads, pull in potential customers, create customer satisfaction pre and post-sale and create a buffer for potential customer loss.

Today, there are far too many eCommerce businesses who are ignoring eMail campaigns in favor of aggressive social media strategies. We get it: social media is engaging. It’s modern, it’s sleek, but don’t let that drive to engage millennials cloud your overall sales strategy.

After all, people are twice as likely to sign up for an eMail list than they are to interact with a business on Facebook. Email has higher conversion rates than search and social media combined, and to this day, email has a $44 return for every $1 spent. At the outset, here are a few key things that every successful eMail campaign should include:

  • Segmentation: Not everyone should be receiving the same eMail. This is hyper-critical, both in terms of pushing users through the sales funnel as well as generating happy customers. Poorly segmented eMails can sour customers and drive them away.
  • Automation: Merchants cannot run a successful eMail campaign using manual eMails it just doesn’t work. Automation services vary, but at the very least businesses need something that can send eMails out rapidly, target specific groups, and segment eMails based on dynamic data.
  • Free ebooks and courses are still a hot commodity; they draw users in and provide value.
  • Always make eMails personal and targeted.
  • Finally, make sure to send eMails from the merchant’s eMail address, not a generic marketing eMail address.

Now let’s analyze some of the best eMail campaigns, run some numbers, and discuss how merchants can benefit from eMail as a sales and brand-building tool.

The Welcome eMail

Welcome eMails aren’t just important brand-building, they are powerful sales tools. In fact, welcome eMails lead to 320% more sales than any other eMail type.

Some great examples have popped up in recent years and three overall successful trends have emerged: urgency, personalization, and humor.

When signing up for an eMail list, consumers expect personalization. Usually, this is done through dynamic content using the other information gathered during the eMail list sign-up. If an email list only collects eMail addresses, we would recommend using the welcoming eMail as a way to generate more data (as in, ask for more information).

Here are some general rules to follow when it comes to crafting a welcome eMail:

  • Only use one call-to-action
  • Link to social media at the bottom
  • Always use a kind welcoming tone, not an aggressive or overly assertive tone
  • Remember to personalize the eMail. Try to go beyond “Welcome [Insert Name]!”
  • Send the eMail immediately
  • Feel free to use an emoji or GIF (Since 2015 the number of emojis in marketing emails has increased by 775%, while over 10% of current marketing emails use GIFs)

Abandoned Cart

Over $4 trillion (yes trillion!) worth of merchandise will be abandoned this year. But don’t fret yet, Business Insider estimates that marketers could save as much as 63% of this loss through positive marketing campaigns. In fact, eMails sent only 3 or 4 hours after a customer abandons a cart see a massive 40% click-through rate.

In other words, abandoned cart eMails are a great way to increase profits. Not just a small amount of gain either, we are talking about potential millions for small to medium-sized businesses.

Let’s go over the sequence that produces results when it comes to abandoned cart eMail campaigns.

  • First, remind the customer they left without completing their purchase. Consider providing an incentive such as free shipping to get them back to your site. That being said, be careful not to train the customer to always expect an incentive. You’ll teach them that it is smart to always abandon the cart.
  • Second, if the customer has still not purchased the item, send an eMail asking why. Ask them to reply to the eMail. After all, data is knowledge and knowledge is power. The more data you have, the more successful your future marketing campaigns will be.
  • Third, consider a discount eMail. There are positives and negatives to this campaign. It could lead to a potential sale, but it could also lead to system abuse if it’s fully automated and universal. This is a tricky one. Discounts can work successfully but they can also fail miserably and can diminish the value of a merchant’s brand. Consider the buyer’s persona and your product before deciding to send discount eMails on abandoned carts.

The Story Series

Story series eMails are eMails that build upon and humanize the merchant’s brand. It’s unfortunate that although eMail is such a powerful marketing tool, only 7% of eMail marketers consider it part of their brand-building strategy.

For customers, it can be a nice change of pace to receive eMails that aren’t just marketing related. The eMail story series is precisely what it sounds like. It’s a series of eMails that introduces the user to the story of your brand.

There isn’t a “trick” to this one. The entire eMail series is dependent upon your story. The tone needs to reflect your identity, purpose, and company ethos.

The key to creating engaging story eMails is to leave the reader craving more. End on a cliff-hanger. Make them want to read the next eMail in the series.

Recognize the Power Behind an eMail

Email is a powerful tool that every eCommerce business should be using. In order to engage users and push them down your funnel, you must be using it wisely.

If you have any questions relating to eMail strategies in eCommerce or you would like to see how our eMail campaigns, SEO strategies, and eCommerce solutions can help you craft your perfect marketing strategy, contact us.

5 Tips for Writing Clickable Adwords Copy for eCommerce Websites

5 Tips for Writing Clickable Adwords Copy for eCommerce Websites

Better Google Adwords Copy

One way to improve the performance of a PPC campaign is to create intriguing Adwords copy that motivates searchers to learn more. Below we discuss five useful tips for creating better, more clickable copy.

1. Add Value

Don’t just focus on keywords. Speak to the user’s objective or pain point. Offer an answer to their search.

For example, consider an ad for lice treatment. Which one of the following speaks to the user? “Dealing With Lice?” or “Five Steps to Get Rid of Lice for Good.” The first one simply repeats what the user already knows while the second offers an actionable solution to their problem. Remember to always ask this question upon completing copy: “Does this ad offer an answer to their question or does it just restate the problem without adding value?”

2. Use Space Wisely

Think strategically about how to use the space provided in the headline, ad copy, and display URL. Be sure to appeal to the searcher’s emotions and make it is clear that clicking on the ad will answer whatever question they’re asking. Put the most important information in the headlines and remember that ads display differently on mobile vs. desktop preview ads on both device types to ensure the headliners read as desired on both views.

Nearly 60 percent of all searches are made via mobile devices. Merchant ads must clearly speak to the user whether he or she is on their desktop, smartphone or tablet. Previously, advertisers could create specific mobile ads for mobile searchers. However, the new expanded text ads have no device preference. That means the same message is displayed across all types of devices. Advertisers must ensure their ads and call-to-action promos make sense and function properly regardless of the device.

3. Use Keywords in the URL

Google Adwords allows up to two 15-character path fields to their display URL. Include keywords in the display URL field that portray confidence the landing page will answer their question. This technique reassures the user that clicking through will get them exactly where they want to be. For example, let’s go back to the lice product illustration. In that case, the merchant might include a URL like “how-to/remove-lice” to reinforce the product promise. Additionally, include the same keywords in the actual landing page URL and page title to improve the quality score of the ad. The landing page experience needs to coincide with the ad copy, otherwise quality scores will suffer and the ad will be ineffective.

4. Use Dynamic Copy

One of the most powerful components of search ads is the ability to easily change them. Adwords is not a “set it and forget it” type of advertising tactic, so use the ad copy to create urgency, build social proof, or advertise best prices. For example:

  • Create urgency: “Only 2 shirts left at this price. Order now before they are gone.”
  • Build social proof: “9 out of 10 buyers gave these shoes 5 stars. Find out why.”
  • Advertise prices: “Regularly $120. Now only $59.99. Sales end at midnight.”

5. Test and Monitor

Each time an ad is changed, test it out to see what’s working. Set specific goals, such as improving sales conversions or simply the click-through rate. Test and track each part of the ad’s anatomy including the headline, display URL, and description. Test one change at a time to determine what is having the most impact. The Google Adwords dashboard makes this easy by tracking clicks, impressions, cost per click (CPC), conversions, cost per conversion and user engagement.

Learn more about maximizing Google Adwords by talking to the experts at InteractOne. Contact us before getting started on your next campaign.