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

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

7 Steps Every Merchant Must Take After Launching a New Website

7 Steps Every Merchant Must Take After Launching a New Website

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

Collect data

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

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

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

 

Email Your Audience

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

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

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

Don’t pay for useless traffic.

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

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

Merchandise

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

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

Work on Your Brand

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

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

Deliver a Stellar Customer Experience

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

 

Test Everything

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

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

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

 

Top 10 Digital Advertising Tips to Maximize Q4 Revenue

Top 10 Digital Advertising Tips to Maximize Q4 Revenue

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

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

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

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

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

#1 Synced Holiday-Specific Ad Copy

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

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

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

#2 Labels & Automation

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

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

#3 Understand Bid Strategy Weaknesses & Overcome

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

#4 Establish Must-Win Campaigns

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

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

#5 Evaluate & Increase Bid Mods

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

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

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

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

Marcia Kaplan

Practical Ecommerce

#6 Countdown Ads

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

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

#7 Understand the Enemy

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

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

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

 

#8 Holiday Extensions

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

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

 

 

#9 Start Late Q3 or Sooner

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

 

#10 Monitor Progress

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

 

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

 

Let Us Help!

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

Strategies for Product Page Optimization

Strategies for Product Page Optimization

Product Page SEO

Optimizing your product pages with well-researched and thoughtful content that speaks to your target customer can have a big impact in terms of visibility and sales. Fortunately, there are a variety of tips and tricks your eCommerce business can employ to make your products stand out in a world of similarity. Begin this process by trying to understand your customer as much as possible, and then try the tips we’ve listed below to effectively optimize product pages.

Do Your Research

Don’t make the mistake of targeting completely generic keywords associated with your products – you’ll be missing out on an abundance of terms that may assist with organic traffic. Instead, research how your customers search for solutions to problems or products that you offer. Start by Googling phrases and don’t hit enter – review what Google suggestions appear in the search box or interview your customer service staff (or customers directly) to better understand their journey in finding your products. Answer the Public is also one of our favorite search insight tools to help generate content ideas for the next steps in optimizing product pages.

Embrace SEO Best Practices

Once you’ve established which phrases customers search for in relation to your products, incorporate them into your product page and surrounding content. Aside from the required product details, all content on the product page, including images and video, should explain how and why that product solves problems and improves the lives of customers. Highlight features and benefits, lifestyle improvements and how-to style content with whatever media your demographic best consumes.

Title Tags and Meta Descriptions  

Typically your page title and meta descriptions are the first messages customers see when your product appears directly within a search results page. Understand that often times customers arrive to your products via different avenues, but fine tuning the messages that customers see will help you stand out from the proverbial meta tag templates that have grown in popularity for the sake of automation. If it’s worth putting on your site, it’s worth doing right.

For more SEO tips and tricks, check out 3 Ways Merchants Can Improve SEO.

Rich Snippets  

Rich Snippets are typically set up within your template and forgotten about, but recently we’ve seen module updates or lack of attention result in broken snippets. Google is also making use of more markup as the search landscape evolves, especially in the travel and food industry in recent months. We recommend auditing your markup every few months to ensure the basic product schema (SKU, title, price) as well as additional snippets, such as reviews and ratings, are identified properly.

Internal Linking

This is more about providing multiple pathways to your products than optimizing the actual product page, but it’s important to note that the more links you include to specific products across your site increases the importance of said products to both customers and search engines. Don’t go crazy, but link to specific products from relevant content within your blog, cross-link between similar or complementary products, highlight popular or new products from your homepage, categories, or custom landing pages. The key here is relevancy – create journeys to your products from multiple touchpoints in an effort to lead customers to the ultimate answer to their questions or problems.

Supporting Content

In addition to the on-page product descriptions and content, more popular or profitable products are worthy of additional content in the form of blog articles, press releases, case studies, testimonials, influencer reviews, or additional how-to and review videos. This shareable content should all link directly back to the product page and, again, target specific answers to questions or problems that the product helps to solve. This kind of supporting content will educate your audience about your products and brand, as well as provide links back to the product page.

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

3 Ways Merchants can Improve SEO for eCommerce

3 Ways Merchants can Improve SEO for eCommerce

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

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

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

1. Content Optimization

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blogs: For some merchants, a blog is an ideal way to add content and improve their SEO strategy. There are ways of integrating a blog into the Magento platform. Blog posts create a unique opportunity to solve specific queries and reduce conversion-friction for a category or product. With the right keyword research and execution, blog posts will boost conversions.

2. On-site Optimization

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

3. Content Promotion

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

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

Video: If you have the capacity to develop your own videos, create a company YouTube channel and be sure to link to a relevant page on your site from the video description. Videos keep visitors on your website for longer durations, and increased engagement with a website typically leads to increased conversions.

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

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

Final Thoughts on How to Improve SEO for eCommerce

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

How Mobile Use Has Affected SEO

How Mobile Use Has Affected SEO

Mobile Use SEO

Search engine optimization is the key to getting potential customers to see your brand when they search online. In the old days you just had to include a few keywords, but the rise of mobile devices has made it so people don’t search as much on desktop computers as they do on the phones they carry around. In fact, 3 out of every 5 searches happen on mobile, so mobile far outpaces desktop as the number one method of searching. Though it may not seem like a huge difference, mobile search results are actually quite different from desktop search results.

People Don’t Click Like They Used To

Jumpshot Digital Intelligence recently gathered data on how many Google searches included organic clicks, ad clicks, and no clicks at all. Those statistics were then compared between mobile searches and desktop searches. When you look at the two sets of data side by side, there is a huge difference in the number of organic clicks on desktop vs on mobile devices. For desktop users, the change from 2016 to 2018 was nominal. However, mobile searches showed a much larger change, with an increase in no clicks (56.1 to 61.4 percent) and ad clicks (3.9 to 8.9 percent) while organic clicks showed a significant decrease (40.1 to 29.7 percent).

So the question is: why? When users search something related to shopping or a product, the first several results will be ads and possibly a carousel at the top with the products they’re looking for. Chances are users won’t scroll past that to see any of the natural search listings.

The other problem is with informational searches, which often get filled with Google’s own answer box for direct questions as well as ads and embedded YouTube videos related to the question asked. On a desktop monitor with a larger screen, you may be able to see past the layer of ads and answer boxes, but users on mobile devices are commonly looking for instant answers, so the first few results commonly grab their attention first. So, how can you get around that to ensure you’re properly targeting searchers?

Step Up Your Game

Though it may seem intimidating to be competing with paid ads, there will always be value in optimizing content and technology to target searchers. There are a few ways to improve your search rankings that don’t include spending money on Google Ads.

Win the Answer Box

Getting into the answer box guarantees that you’re the first thing that users will see in their search results, and also ensures that you will be the first thing they hear if using voice search.

Get Cracking on Informational Content

Most searches on mobile devices are informational. Additionally, as seen above, most mobile search-result clicks go to an ad, or garner no clicks at all. Therefore, adding informational content to your site will result in more visits to your site.  

Establish Authority

The same informational content that gets you more clicks also boosts your authority. Quality content will sometimes be shared, and that improves your chances of being featured in someone else’s blog or social media posts.The authority obtained from these actions is critical to winning the coveted and necessary first organic listings, which are now commonly in the middle of the page (immediately following the ads and answer boxes).

Mobile Optimization is Crucial

If you can get people to come to your site, you don’t want them immediately leaving due to poor layout or slow load times. Ensure that your site has been tested on mobile devices and so that you are in the best position possible to shrink the mobile visit-to-conversion gap.

Be in the Top 3

In the end, you should at least be aiming to be in the top three positions on search results. Once users find what they’re looking for, they’re not going to search anymore, so you have to be the search result that gives them what they’re looking for. If you’re looking for more information or need assistance with SEO, contact us today.

What Are Successful Auto eCommerce Merchants Doing to Stay on Top?

What Are Successful Auto eCommerce Merchants Doing to Stay on Top?

auto eCommerce

2018 marked massive growth of Automotive eCommerce and merchants, as they are now selling everything from parts, to accessories, to services for both B2B and B2C buyers. Automotive eCommerce is no longer a niche segment, it’s a rising standard.

As we enter 2019 and automotive eCommerce revenue continues to grow at an exponential rate, more and more merchants want to reap the benefits by launching their own websites. Expectations for these sites are high as competitors are improving their sites every day.

So how can new automotive sites compete with already established merchants? Following some of these basic rules is a great start.

Product Listings must be Clear, Visible, and Detailed

Automotive eCommerce shoppers tend to be passionate and well-informed. They know what they are looking for and if they can’t find it on your site, they will move to the next where they can. This is why proper SEO techniques and rich product content is crucial. This tactic will increase product visibility across browsers and marketplaces, improving a brand’s presence as well as offering a competitive edge.

To ensure visibility, be sure to include searchable keywords in the title, such as the manufacturer name, type of part, and the reference number. Craft detailed product descriptions and feature reviews beneath product to establish credibility and build trust. Also, be sure to include crystal clear, high-resolution images that allow for zooming in and enlarging (check out our Automotive Images Guide for more helpful tips).

Mobile Friendliness and Adaptability is Top Priority

In the modern world of eCommerce, a mobile-first strategy is required. Customers are shopping via iPhones, Tablets, Androids, Macs, and the list continues. When building a new eCommerce website, this type of functionality is imperative for success. Analyze how your site looks on all types of devices, and note any discrepancies or disabled functionalities.

Consider Offering Free Shipping

Though shipping can present an issue for automotive merchants (due to the size and weight of the products), many successful automotive merchants have found ways to offer free shipping. Whether that be after a minimum order threshold has been met, or as part of a promotional offer, it is something merchants should consider when analyzing their checkout process. High shipping costs are commonly the cause of abandoned carts – so if you can offer free shipping, even for a portion of your catalogue, you should.

Provide Value Through Kits and Bundles

Bundling allows merchants to sell more product while also satisfying customers. You can test out what products sell best with others, or offer a Buy One Get One (BOGO) promotion on certain products. Some merchants are including features such as “recommended products” or “related products” that appear beneath a product listing, to keep the customer enticed and buying more. The more buying options that are available to the customer, the faster they can make a purchase that is right for them.

Navigation Must Follow the Customer Experience

Navigation is crucial to automotive eCommerce because inventories tend to be extensive and associated with the make and model of certain vehicles. More often than not, site visitors won’t waste their time trying to encrypt confusing menus or unclear navigation. This presents a dilemma for merchants: how should your site be organized? Our main message is this: data should fit the customer experience— not the other way around. Consider how a customer actually shops, then construct a process that follows those steps. For more information on navigation for automotive eCommerce, check out this blog.

Allow Customers to Create Accounts

Encouraging customers to create accounts is a great way to improve the overall customer experience. It streamlines the checkout process because customers can save their billing information or quickly reorder something they previously purchased.

Additionally, because automotive eCommerce shoppers tend to be enthusiasts, allow them to gain points for their purchases or enroll them in some sort of reward system. It will build loyalty to your brand and provide an incentive for customers to continue shopping there.

Our Automotive eCommerce Experience

Our experience in the automotive eCommerce industry has given us insights into the challenges merchants face as well as the successful trends many are utilizing. If you need assistance with your automotive-focused eCommerce site or require help with marketing, contact us today.

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.