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.

 

Offline Tips for Generating Online Sales

Offline Tips for Generating Online Sales

Offline Marketing Tips

As consumers spend more and more of their time making purchasing decisions online, business owners are more focused than ever on strengthening their marketing strategy to increase their sales. Naturally, much of the emphasis is on digital marketing efforts to drive qualified visitors directly to their sites.

Although the world wide web presents a massive opportunity for eCommerce growth, offline strategies shouldn’t be factored out of the equation just yet. Learning to market to all people, even those without an extensive internet presence, allows businesses to maximize marketing efforts.

With that said, below are some offline marketing tips that inspire online sales.

Text Messaging Campaigns

While not as old school as billboards or print ads, text messaging campaigns have become extremely important for eCommerce merchants. With the number of mobile phone users expected to surpass five billion in 2019, and with Gen X’ers, Gen Y’ers and Millennials being quite comfortable texting as a mainstream communications tool, it makes sense that text messaging has become an effective way to connect with customers.

Texting campaigns allow business owners to create fully customizable calls-to-action in their campaigns and advertise to customers on-the-go. Merchants can highlight a new product or service, introduce new deals, or remind customers that a sale is about to end. This makes it easier for business owners to stay in front of their customers as they can keep them updated on their business and promote more sales online.

Pop-up Shops

It can be difficult for eCommerce businesses to generate online sales simply because potential customers don’t know you exist. These temporary stores are the perfect opportunity for eCommerce businesses to gain traction and increase visibility. Not only do merchants gain exposure, but they are able to connect with loyal customers and form new relationships face-to-face as well. 

Printed Coupons

Providing customers with coupons is another effective strategy to generate sales online simply because consumers are almost always looking for a deal.

Additionally, people feel more urged to purchase a product or service when they know deals are only available for a limited time. Sending customers coupons creates a deadline for which they must purchase by which in turn inspires sales. Merchants can send customers coupons in the mail or via text to encourage customers to purchase from their eCommerce business.

Sticker Marketing

Gone are the days where sticker marketing solely meant long, rectangular bumper stickers. Now, promotional stickers encompass all shapes and sizes for all different surfaces: water bottles, phones, laptops, and many more.

This low-cost, offline tool allows merchants to brand their company and amplify word-of-mouth marketing to drive sales. Recent studies even show that 90% of people trust word-of-mouth recommendations from people they know.

Consider including a sticker or two in each package- they will be considered “a free gift” that engage recipients while also promoting your business. Plus, they are cute and collectible. Take a look at ours:

Branded Merchandise

Merchants should always strive to increase the visibility of their brand. In order to generate online sales, business owners need to stay on the mind of their customers and branded merchandise is certainly a great way to do this. Business merchandise can include items such as shirts, pens, and sticky notes, but can also to more innovative items that may be connected to the brand.

Workshops

Workshops are similar to hosting a pop-up shop in that eCommerce business owners can attract more people to their business. Additionally, workshops create the perfect opportunity to offer knowledge and practical experience. Merchants can use their office or rent a space to educate people on what their eCommerce business offers.

For instance, if a merchant sells skin care products, they can educate individuals on the importance of maintaining a good skincare routine. This may spark the interest of potential customers and lead to more online sales.

Promote Your eCommerce Business to Everyone

There are still customers out there that are not as tech-savvy as some might expect. Don’t forget about them- use some of these low-cost offline marketing tips to entice new customers and bring about enhanced brand awareness.  

InteractOne helps merchants build, maintain, and market their business for a better eCommerce experience. If merchants would like to know more about how to generate online sales via offline strategies or need additional marketing assistance, please contact us here.

 

6 Smart Strategies to Boost Sales to Repeat Customers

6 Smart Strategies to Boost Sales to Repeat Customers

Boost Repeat Customers

It’s no secret that eCommerce merchants spend a lot of time (and money) on generating new leads and nurturing them through the buyer’s journey. Of course, that’s important—after all, those new leads fuel business—but getting and converting new leads is only part of the battle. It’s also imperative that merchants effectively market to existing customers because as studies have pointed out, that’s where the real revenue comes from. Consider these metrics from Business Insider:

  • In 2015, returning eCommerce customers made up half of all sessions, but they spent almost twice as much as new customers (about $2.7 billion)
  • Returning customers are about twice as likely to add items to their cart (14.8% and 7.6%, respectively)
  • The bounce rate (the percentage of visitors who leave a site after viewing just 1 page) is substantially higher for new customers, almost 35% vs. less than 25%)
  • Returning customers also have higher conversion rates on average: 4.5% vs. 2.4% for new customers

Returning Customers Are Special—Treat Them That Way

If someone does you a favor, it’s always a good idea to thank them—after all, you might want their help again in the future.  When someone makes a purchase on an eCommerce site, they’re doing that merchant a favor in a way (by adding to their bottom line). So, did they receive a thank you?

There are many ways to show existing customers gratitude for their patronage. Of course, every business is different, and it’s important for each merchant to research what their customers value most. That being said, the following are 6 of the best ways to show returning customers they are valued—and to generate repeat purchases:

Offer Discounts on Subsequent Purchases

Every time a customer purchases something from Schwan’s (an online grocer), they get a certain number of points which they can redeem in savings off their next purchase. Schwan’s will also send occasional emails to remind every customer how much those points are worth and urge them to return to their site to take advantage of the savings. In addition to loyalty points, discounts are a great way to thank repeat customers. Offering a percentage off the next purchase or other amenities like free or reduced charges for shipping are discounts customers will appreciate.

Send Targeted Emails Suggesting Appropriate Products

Contrary to popular belief, consumers like promotional emailsespecially when they come from companies they trust and whom they’ve given permission to email them. In fact, email marketing is a great way to boost revenue. When customers receive a promotional email suggesting products they need, they feel like the company remembers them. It’s as simple as reminding a customer they are due to reorder a certain item or suggesting products related to the one they just bought (for example, people who buy a battery-powered device might need batteries).

Leverage Offline Strategies (Like Direct Mail)

As powerful as email marketing is, some consumers prefer to get information from companies in other ways. For example, a recent study by Epsilon found that almost 75% of consumers like getting direct mail more than any other communications channel. Be sure to follow best practices for direct mail design (like keeping text to a minimum and restricting a communication to a single message).

Don’t Forget to Say “Thank You”

This one is a no-brainer. People like it when their favorite companies tell them, directly and plainly, that they’re grateful for the purchases they’ve made. Emails or personally-signed cards are both great options. Either way, repeat customers will appreciate that a company took the time to say “thanks.”

Ask Customers for Feedback

Even if an eCommerce site is well-designed, there are bound to be occasional mistakes. Don’t wait until repeat customers register a complaint—send them an email which links to a page where they can state what they thought of their shopping experience. That way, customers can voice their opinion while also ensuring the continual improvement of an eCommerce site and its customer service.

Focus on Abandoned Shopping Carts

According to Baymard, almost 70% of all shopping carts are abandoned before a purchase is made—that’s a lot of lost revenue for businesses. There are many reasons for cart abandonment, from unexpected costs (usually those for taxes and shipping) to lack of trust. A smart tactic for turning abandoned carts into sales is to send emails reminding customers they didn’t complete their purchase and offer special discounts (like free shipping) for extra motivation.

Communication is Key

You can’t expect eCommerce customers to keep coming back solely because of good products and good prices. Those things help of course, but it’s still necessary to communicate with repeat customers and make it clear that you value them and will do what it takes to make sure they are satisfied.

Fortunately, there are companies that have the expertise to effectively target existing customers. To learn more about the ways our email and social media marketing services can help you drive sales and grow your eCommerce business, contact us today.

 

5 Online Marketing Tools That Benefit eCommerce Business

5 Online Marketing Tools That Benefit eCommerce Business

Popular Marketing Tools

An online marketing plan is no longer optional; it is a necessary component of an overall business plan to succeed. With all the forms of digital marketing available, it’s no surprise that many businesses become overwhelmed at the complex, time-consuming work required to implement and optimize the right flavors of campaigns to contend in their industry. Not all businesses have the resources for a digital marketing specialist, social media manager, or a data analytics team.

Fortunately, there are many tools available that simplify the various components of digital marketing.

Social Media Marketing Tools

Social media plays an important role in customer research, content distribution, new customer acquisition and even customer service. Merchants use it to engage with customers, promote new products, and spread brand awareness. However, using social media takes time. A merchant needs to compose messages, post it at the right time of day, interact with customers, and manage multiple accounts between Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and so on. To make managing social media easier, a merchant can consider using a tool like Hootsuite.

#1: Hootsuite

Hootsuite is a social media management tool that allows a merchant to schedule social media messages, track how people respond to 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.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Tools

Another important component in marketing a business online is ongoing SEO. Using good SEO practices help a website to appear higher in search engine results, thus delivering the improved opportunity for more of the right site visitors. There are several aspects to SEO, among the most important is the health and crawlability of the actual site, known as on-site SEO.

#2: SEMrush

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 a serious eCommerce marketer to utilize.

#3: Yoast

Yoast can be used to ensure that keywords are being properly used on the website. Yoast is best known for it’s WordPress plugin, but they actually have a Magento extension as well. With it, a merchant can make sure to have the right keywords on the right pages, optimize site content, and make sure pictures are formatted properly, among other things. Yoast also provides SEO training courses to learn best practices and DIY pro tips for managing campaigns on a budget.

Data and Analytics

Finally, even for those who research keywords with SEMrush, optimize their site with Yoast, and make social media usage more efficient, merchants still need a way to tell how well those efforts are working. Hence the need for analytic tools to understand patterns of success or failure.

#4: BuiltWith

BuiltWith can show what platform a competitor website is running, where it’s hosted, and what tracking snippets are in place, giving insight into what marketing tools the competitor is using. It’s a great way to learn about common tools used in a specific niche and to find opportunities to expand.

#5: Google Tag Manager

Google Analytics is the staple analytics tool used today. However, there are ways to utilize more powerful capabilities using Google Tag Manager and Analytics Enhanced eCommerce tracking. When properly implemented, Google Analytics will track traffic source, engagement metrics like time on site, time on page and bounce rate, as well as general conversion rate metrics. Additionally, Google Tag Manager events can be set up to see in-depth data such as cross-device tracking, page scrolls, individual product add to cart rates, giving you better cart abandonment data, and more!

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 tools that can help your eCommerce business, please contact us at any time.

3 Common Social Media Mistakes Made in eCommerce and How to Correct Them

3 Common Social Media Mistakes Made in eCommerce and How to Correct Them

Social Media Mistakes

Social media has become a popular marketing tool for eCommerce businesses over the past few years. It’s a great way to connect with customers and share brand information without having to spend money on paid ad campaigns. An article from BigCommerce reports that for online stores, social media is critical for success in eCommerce: “Online stores that have a social presence have 32% more sales on average than stores that don’t.” Social media can boost sales, promote brand identity, and increase trust – but only if used correctly. 

Misusing social media may seem impossible; the bright blue “Tweet” button is easy to use and recycling company phrases seems easy enough to do. However, haphazardly posting content and sharing posts isn’t enough. There are some common social media mistakes that eCommerce merchants make and by learning how to prevent them, social media can become a valuable asset for any merchant.

Below are three common social media mistakes that eCommerce merchants make and methods for prevention.

1. Rarely Interacting With Followers

For social media to be effective, communication needs to be a two-way street. Merchants can’t only post information about themselves such as new product announcements, current sales, etc. and hope that will satisfy followers. Interaction with customers, especially when they have a problem or question, is crucial for success.

Many customers turn to social media when they are having an issue with a product or service to receive fast and courteous assistance. When customers are ignored or receive a delayed reply, it is likely for that customer to unfollow and do further damage on social media by spreading negative comments or reviews. People want to feel that they are being heard, so take their questions and complaints seriously. When running a social media account, make sure an employee is monitoring that account for complaints or questions and are able to take direct action in assisting any customer’s needs in real time. Proactive customer service is important for maintaining repeat customers and for building trust.  

Repeat Customers are Important Customers

Good customer service is not only a good business practice, but it also plays a large role in encouraging repeat customers. If customer needs are met and they have had a meaningful customer experience, it is more likely that they will continue to return in the future.

Trust is Everything

An article by Nextopia states thatTrust impacts buyer decisions at every step of the purchase process. Specifically, trust influences the decision to visit your site, buy your product, promote your brand, and return to the site again. If they don’t trust you, visitors won’t do any of those.” In order to gain that trust, merchants must be credible in all aspects of their business, including social media.

Studies indicate that fast response time on social media builds trust because it demonstrates a certain level of accountability that customers appreciate and view as good customer service. When a customer submits a complaint on social media, they expect it to be handled quickly. An article from Shep Hyken reports that 64% of consumers on Twitter expect a reply within an hour. That means that no matter the issue, don’t make excuses or try to ignore it. Take responsibility, apologize, and make it right with the customer quickly.

2. Not Understanding the Audience

To be successful on social media, it’s critical to understand the customer audience. A common social media mistake made by merchants is posting the wrong type of messaging to the wrong group of people at the wrong time. It’s true that the frequency for posting on social media isn’t always clear. Further, what works for one merchant might not work for another. For new merchants starting out on social, it might be tempting to post every hour in order to reach as many people as possible. Or, it might be difficult to get a post once a week if the staff is busy with other obligations. Ideally, both of these extremes should be avoided.

Posting too often will likely annoy customers and turn them away as they grow tired of seeing repetitive content. On the other hand, posting too little will do the opposite and customers may forget about the business altogether.

To start, try posting unique content at most 1 or 2 times a day. If people are regularly engaging, keep it up or consider increasing the amount. If posts are ignored, try scaling back or consider posting higher-quality content less frequently.

It’s also important to test content and frequency out on different platforms. For example, what works on Twitter may not work on Facebook or Instagram. It’s helpful to do research on the target audience as well to establish which platform is best to spend time efforts. For example, for merchants targeting Millennials or the Gen X generations, statistics from Spredfast show that the two groups are more likely to share content on Facebook.  For those targeting teens, Instagram may be the best platform with 53% of teens saying the image-based platform is the best place to advertise products.

Further, age isn’t the only demographic to study. Pinterest has 200 million active users. Notably, 60% are female. Therefore, merchants looking to target the male population on Pinterest will need to think of a smart strategy for reaching them or consider a different platform.

The type of content posted on certain platforms is worth considering as well. For example, coupons and offers have a history of being successful on Twitter with 84% of Twitter users noting that they use the platform to find deals.

3. Never Establishing a Voice

Finally, the purpose of social media for eCommerce merchants is to connect with customers on a personal level. However, being personal is hard to do if every social media post is robotic. People want to feel that they are connecting with another human being on social media. Customers are not interested in seeing multiple automated posts over and over again. To be personable, it’s crucial to develop a certain tone of voice for the brand on social media. In order to develop a voice, the first step is to figure out what that voice should be. Some companies take a cheeky tone. For example, Wendy’s the humble fast food chain, has received a lot of positive attention after a very noticeable change of voice on Twitter. The company started posting edgy tweets roasting their competition.

It was a gamble that worked for Wendy’s. Many marketers are using an edgy tone to stand out from the crowds of larger competitors with more marketing dollars to spend. Wendy’s noted that their strategy is good-natured and fun but they don’t take themselves too seriously. In an interview with MarketWatch, Ken Kane, chief concept and marketing officer of Wendy’s stated that “We take food quality seriously, but we don’t take ourselves too seriously. That helps guide us to what the line is, what we should be calling out, and what are the types of things we should be staying away from.” Clearly, their 2.7 million followers agree with the updated tone.

While the edgy brand tone worked for Wendy’s, it won’t work for everyone and that approach requires thought, serious wit, and strategy. Professional tones, playful tones, or even masculine or feminine tones all work as well for the correct audiences.

Once a tone is set, there are some key ways to develop tone including reinforcing the brand’s beliefs, monitoring the audience’s responses, and injecting some of the company’s personality into every post. Social media is meant to be more relaxed and playful. Post lighthearted content and avoid having a rigid structure that every post must follow.

However, even though it’s important to be personable and fun on social, keep it professional at all times. Unprofessional accounts warrant unsatisfied customers and in certain cases, may even be subject to viral criticism.

Learning Social Media Takes Time

Creating a social media presence as a business takes time and patience. Though social media mistakes can occur, the key is to recognize those mistakes and then work quickly to correct them and prevent them from occurring again. Mastering social media will not likely happen overnight, but the process is well worth it when taking into account the many ways it can be profitable.

For more information on how to improve your social media efforts, please feel free to contact us or give us a call at (513).469.7042.

5 Simple SEO Tips That Don’t Require a Developer

5 Simple SEO Tips That Don’t Require a Developer

SEO tips

Many merchants understand the importance of SEO – they know they need it, but they aren’t always sure how it works or why they have poor rankings. There are some common technical SEO issues that prevent Magento sites from ranking as high as they should and those issues don’t always require an SEO wizard to fix them. Broken links, long load times, and duplicate content should be addressed immediately in order to rank higher on popular search engines.

Listed below are five simple SEO tips to clean up search engine optimization without requiring outside assistance.

Fix and Redirect 3xx, 4xx, and 5xx Error Issues

Eliminate any redirect chains where one URL redirects to another and another and another. It not only wastes server resources but also slows down page load time. Replace all redirect chains with a single rule that redirects from the target URL to the final URL, and ensure all old indexed URLs are redirecting straight to the new page.

It’s also important to note that catalog management processes shouldn’t be contributing to this issue. If redirect chains are a recurring event, the management of products and categories may need some adjustments in order to fix the problem permanently.

Correct Missing or Low-Scoring Metadata

Resolve any missing or duplicate meta content in page titles and meta descriptions. Templates are fine for defaults, such as “Primary Keyword – Secondary Keyword | Brand Name,” but uniquely written page titles and meta descriptions can improve click-through-rates. Think of it this way: meta descriptions should explain a solution or answer to a question that users are looking for. Those few sentences should accurately advertise the information to the user in a clear and concise manner.

Repair Broken Links

Broken internal and external links do not bode well for any eCommerce merchant. In addition to creating a very poor user experience, too many 404 pages are indicative of a neglected site. Be sure that all internal and outbound links go to functioning URLs and are linking out to highly respected authority sites to increase the relevancy of the web content.

Optimize Images

Page load times are also an important part of the website ranking algorithm. If people have to wait even a few extra seconds, they may leave. Research proves this causes an increased bounce rate that hurts SEO ranking. One of the best ways to clean up the load time is by optimizing images. Resize and compress images before uploading them to Magento. Also, rename images using hyphens instead of spaces or underscores and keep it relevant to the photo topic.

Address Duplicate Content Issues

High-quality content should be found on every single page. Engagement rate should be as high as the amount of time visitors spend reading content. The more time they spend, the more positively it will impact SEO ranking. Delete any duplicate content and make sure the copy is catered to fit the audience’s needs; this commonly means avoiding overcomplicated jargon and shortening content.

These fixes may be simple, but they have a considerable impact on search engine optimization.

Learn more about search engine optimization and your Magento site by contacting InteractOne today.