How to Keep Your Magento 2 Site Simple

How to Keep Your Magento 2 Site Simple

Magento 2 Simple

As Magento 1 end of life draws near, we are receiving a lot of buzz from potential clients who are considering taking the plunge and diving headfirst into a Magento 2 site migration. As we go through the project scoping process for these potential customers, we have noticed a recurring theme that we feel we should address: over-customization and the overuse of extensions are the silent killers of countless Magento sites.

What’s important to understand about customizations and extensions is thatwhile in theory, they seem beneficialthey are often hindering the success of your site. We are finding many small and medium-sized (SMB) merchants that have sixty plus extensions and ten customizations, plus core hacks, on Magento 1. These merchants are forfeiting much of their budget that they should be spending on digital marketing just to keep their unstable Magento site running. Also, this over-customization is causing site-load and other performance issues which hurts SEO and overall user experience.

We must also note that some merchants who have migrated from Magento to a SaaS platform are performing much better than they were on Magento. We have been perfectly transparent about this when scoping projects for potential customers. Magento is powerful and a great fit for many, but not for all.

With Saas platforms, customization is harder and the monthly cost for 3rd party apps makes it easier to understand the long term budget ramificationswhich, as we are realizing, is actually a blessing in disguise for merchants who are prone to overload their site with every new feature that comes along. This is why a lot of the time these platforms are working better for SMB merchants; in many ways, Saas platforms limit the ability for the merchant to over-customize and over-complicate the eCommerce experience.

As we work with new prospects on migrating to Magento 2, we are trying to help them limit the number of customizations and extensions they are using. We start by taking a step back to rethink the actual business processthis means asking the hard questions like, “Is this customization really needed? Do you really need an ajax add-to-cart extension? Quick shop? Quick view?” Do these added features really justify the long term maintenance expense? The answer is most often not.

Magento 2 has all of the tools that most SMB merchants need to provide a great shopping experience: product video, shopping experience and payment options. The M2 theme is optimized for the shopping experience, so merchants don’t need to invest much in an overly-customized user interface. For SMB merchants migrating to Magento 2, we recommend leaving out “the nice to have” features and instead focusing on the minimum viable product. See how the site performs for a few months and then ultimately decide which features to add. You might be amazed to find that you have improved SEO and site conversions just by using the out-of-the-box features included with Magento 2. Paring everything back and avoiding unnecessary customizations may be the greatest improvement a Magento merchant can make.

If you are finding yourself with a site that is over-customized and over-complicated, contact us today or visit us at We can help.

How to Optimize eCommerce Shipping and Fulfillment

How to Optimize eCommerce Shipping and Fulfillment

shipping and fulfillment

Your eCommerce shipping strategy can make or break your business. As eCommerce revenue has increased and online shopping has flourished, shoppers have upped their standards for shipping speed and price. Amazon Prime set the standard for shipping policies with their free two-day shipping—this means today’s consumers expect a similar service. If you aren’t meeting their expectations, another competitor (like Amazon) will.

A 2018 study conducted by Pitney Bowes found that over 50 percent of online consumers were disappointed with the shipping and fulfillment service they received last holiday season. With so much dissatisfaction in a very competitive marketplace, there is a ton of opportunity for eCommerce merchants to increase their sales and customer base by providing stellar shipping and fulfillment services. So, how can merchants accomplish this?

Have Clear and Accurate Policies

The name of the game when it comes to eCommerce is convenience for the consumer. Consumers like to shop online because it is easy. However, online shopping can be risky for two reasons: customers can’t see the product before they buy (besides a few photos), and they don’t know if the product will arrive at their address safely and in good condition. Clearly stating the shipping and return policies on your website is the best way to build strong consumer confidence. If they are confident in the services being offered to them, they are far more likely to buy rather than abandon their shopping cart.

Offer Free Shipping

eCommerce is a competitive market. To gain a leg up on the competition, consider offering free shipping, if your business model will allow it. In the same 2018 Pitney Bowes Study, researchers found that over 90 percent of consumers said they would abandon their carts and leave a website that did not offer fast and free shipping.  Although a huge deciding factor in the customer’s decision-making process is the shipping price, the speed of delivery greatly matters as well. If possible, add an estimated delivery date (EDD) to product and shopping cart pages to put last-minute shoppers at ease.

Be Aware of Shipping Changes for 2019

Each year, shipping carriers review their pricing and make adjustments to their shipping rates depending on the economy, fuel costs, and industry demands. 2019 is no exception. USPS, UPS, and DHL Express in the US have increased shipping rates for 2019be sure you factor in these changes when planning out your shipping strategy for the year. Here’s a breakdown:

  • UPS (Effective December 26th, 2018): UPS Ground will increase by an average of 5.2%, UPS 2nd Day Air will increase by an average of 7.2%, and UPS Standard (to Canada) will increase by an average of 1.8%.
  • USPS (Effective January 27th, 2019): First-Class Package Service will change to zone-based pricing. That means the cost to ship will be determined by both the weight of the package and its destination. Previously, the package weight solely indicated the cost.  Balloon pricing for Priority Mail will be eliminated. Balloon pricing previously applied for packages weighing up to 20 pounds with a size between 84 to 108 inches in combined length and girth when shipping to zones 1-4. Now, the actual weight will be the sole factor in deciding the price. And finally, First-Class Package International Service will increase by an average of 3.7%.
  • DHL Express in the US (Effective January 1st, 2019): Retail prices will increase by an average of 5.1% for their DHL Express Worldwide shipping service.

What ShipperHQ Can Do for Shipping

ShipperHQ, the world’s #1 storefront shipping management software, provides eCommerce merchants with the tools necessary to streamline the shipping and fulfillment process. With the power of ShipperHQ, eCommerce merchants can:

  • Surcharge or discount your live and custom rates
  • Set rules or restrictions based on conditions like geographic zones, specific products, and price, weight, or quantity filters
  • Hide specific rates on conditions you choose
  • Set promotions for a specific range of time
  • Ship products from multiple warehouses or dropship vendors
  • Ship products that need to be delivered on a certain day
  • Set max time in transit for certain items so you can deliver perishable goods

*ShipperHQ is compatible with Magento 1 & 2, Woocommerce, Shopify, and Zoey.

Let’s Talk Shipping

In the competitive online marketplace, there is a ton of opportunity when it comes to providing high-quality shipping and fulfillment service. Contact us to learn what the power of Magento can do for eCommerce merchants everywhere.

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 5 On-Site A/B Tests Your eCommerce Business Should Try

The 5 On-Site A/B Tests Your eCommerce Business Should Try

Ever wonder how a user experience change on your site would affect conversions, but afraid to wreck your existing customer path-to-purchase? In these cases, a tool like on-site A/B testing—a way to compare one template style to another—can be a valuable asset for businesses to utilize. Even better is that most eCommerce platforms have built-in features allowing merchants to A/B test relatively easily. (If your platform doesn’t, there are plenty of extensions available for testing, too).

The A/B testing ideas listed below will help you understand what your customer’s preferences are when it comes to the layout of your website as well as what gets them to select and ultimately purchase a product. Whether you’ve just begun to look into the benefits of A/B testing and are ready to try it for the first time or you’re an expert looking for additional ways to tinker with your website, these tests will help you discover how to best present your website to your customers.

1. Showcase a Prominent Sales and Specials Section

Many online shoppers only end up making a purchase if an item is discounted or at a special price. Making it easier for these shoppers to find the items on sale on your website can be a great way to increase conversions. On your website’s homepage, consider adding a sales and specials section that highlights the best deals your website has and encourages customers to act fast before it expires.

Even if the “on-sale” sale section on your homepage only provides a link to the actual discount page, it still serves as a faster, more efficient way to point customers in the direction in which they may be already interested in heading.

2. Try a Wide-Appeal Products Section

If your homepage isn’t currently being utilized in a way that emphasizes your best-selling products, testing a section that does just this could be helpful. Be sure to include great, enlargeable product images with clear pricing. You can also encourage quick purchases by including an ‘add to cart’ button for each product being showcased.

Testing a best-selling products section is one of the most surefire ways to encourage purchases and increase conversions. Customers life to buy products they know other customers have bought.

3. Make the Search Bar More Prominent

If your website has a vast variety of products, chances are you likely already have an on-site search function in place. However, if that search function isn’t visible or prominent enough, customers may have a hard time using it. You may want to test out a different size or location for your website search bar to see if it makes a difference.

A well-located search bar can help your customers have an easier time locating the products they were looking for, leading to an increase in purchases made.

4. Display a Benefits Bar

If you’re looking to add a bit of an edge against the competition for your eCommerce business, consider showcasing your benefits at the top of the home page. Many companies using this feature to tout any current free delivery deals, discount codes, reviews, and loyalty programs.

If you decide to test out a benefits bar, make sure to include only the most important aspects that set your business apart for shoppers.

5. Live Chat Assistance

Nearly 44% of online shoppers report wishing they had live chat assistance in the middle of a recent purchase. If your business has the personnel bandwidth, try adding the feature to see if your conversions increase as a result of this quick assistance. Not only do chatboxes help with customer service and conversions, but they also serve as a means to build your brand and receive feedback (read more here).

Ideally, set up the live chat assistance feature as a widget that floats somewhere on the side of your website and that can be clicked on to expand. This way customers will be able to use the live chat whenever they need to.

Create a Better Website

These A/B test ideas should help you understand your shopper’s online habits better, allowing you to better cater to their preferences. We recommend rolling out these tests incrementally instead of all at once so you can truly measure how each feature is performing without overwhelming your shoppers with new additions. For any additional help crafting the best website experience possible, be sure to contact our team of experienced developers and solution specialists 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 and

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

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

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

Images Can Make or Break a Conversion

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

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

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

Build a Community

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

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

How User Intent Can Impact Website Traffic

How User Intent Can Impact Website Traffic

user intent

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

Types of Searches

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

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

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

How Intent Affects Content

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

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

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

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

How to Understand Intent

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

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

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

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

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

How to Re-Engage Dormant Email Subscribers

How to Re-Engage Dormant Email Subscribers

dormant subscribers

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

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

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

Change Up Your Subject Lines

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

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

Send ‘From’ a Different Email Address

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

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

Incentivizing the Click

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

Reviewing Your Contact Data

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

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

Remove Truly Unengaged Subscribers

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

Address the Problem Quickly

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

The Factors Impacting Email Deliverability

The Factors Impacting Email Deliverability

Email Deliverability

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

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

Subject Lines and Content

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

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

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

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

Domain Usage

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

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

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

IP Addresses

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Recipient Behavior

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

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

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

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