Signs Your eCommerce Technology Needs an Upgrade

Signs Your eCommerce Technology Needs an Upgrade

Top 4 Signs You Have Outdated eCommerce Technology

Is it time for an upgrade? Maybe a new theme? A new integration? Patches? How do you know? Are you just bored with your site or is something about to break? Or maybe the things that are already broken have you feeling fed up.

This isn’t just about slow page loadsalthough that would be a red flag. Upgrade signals come in many different varieties, from code conflicts to broken UI to operational crutches you’ve gotten used to. Unfortunately, with the pace at which technology is moving, it can be difficult to know when business technology is outdated and needs to be replaced.

Here are the 4 most-often-overlooked signs that it is time to make an upgrade.

1. Stunted Growth

Facing stagnant growth can be the most difficult challenge businesses face. First is the difficulty in knowing at what rate the business should be growing; if you are unaware, you might not recognize a slowdown. You may still be growing, but you might also be missing opportunities for accelerated growth that will keep you relevant in your market long-term.

Perhaps the simplest way to avoid growth killers is to look outward. Unless you are the category leader, it pays to keep close tabs on your competitors: what channels have they adopted and which have they dropped? How have they changed the technologies they use as they have grown?

As you grow, inventory, shipping, and operations will become more complex, as will tax considerations. Be willing to shift your processes to fit technologies that give you room to grow. The reverseheavily modifying technologies to fit your current operational modelcan stop growth completely. Make sure you have current and flexible tools in place to adjust for growth, all while getting products to customers efficiently and competitively.

Expand the definition of growth to include more than channel participation and raw audience numbers. That can mean growth within a market, including developing new products and broadening the target audience. Looking at this kind of growth, you can then make an honest assessment of your technology and its readiness (or its need for an upgrade).

2. System Segregation

The larger and older your business is, the more likely you are to experience system segregation. Since technologies are usually created in silos, they work best in isolation. While eCommerce businesses may have adopted platforms with open APIs (like Magento), many stand-alone legacy systems remain. The software may do a fine job on its own, but it can end up creating redundancy and extra work where it connects (or doesn’t) with the rest of the business.

Merchants who still have segregated systems need to upgrade. There are plenty of cloud-based and legacy applications that offer excellent integration. This means that most business processes can be completed from a single dashboard, as well as providing an aggregation of all data from every aspect of the business. To ensure that this can happen, merchants should find CRMs, eMail marketing, help desks, ERPs, and accounting software that can all communicate and be integrated.

3. Weak Business Intelligence

Out-of-date systems can further mask their own inefficiency. You need laser-sharp internal analysis and cool-headed leadership to get over the sunk-cost fallacy (“… we paid a lot for this system 6 years ago! It works fine!”). Being able to evaluate the potential value of a key system upgrade needs to include potential gains in operational efficiency, reduction in maintenance, new or restored functionality, capacity for new business methods (e.g. a more refined dealer or reseller program) and the potential of those avenues.

When you have obsolete or disabled systems, your ability to properly set up basic on-site metrics like traffic, performance, and buyer behavior is compromised. This has a ripple effect; since you can’t trust the analysis, you can’t rely on it when you are making decisions.

It’s not just the software, either. Your business is unique and you need someone who really understands what metrics are important and how to measure what’s actually important. Sometimes the best technology upgrade is the right person (or agency … cough cough).

4. Needy Technology

The goal of technology is to provide a better, faster, and more accurate method for completing various business processes. It should reduce the amount of low-value, repetitive tasks that employees must complete. Your technology may do this to a certain extent, but does it do it as effectively as it could?

When employees find themselves having to manually enter or alter information, it is generally time to upgrade. The best technology for eCommerce is the kind that can automate as much as possible and remove the need for human intervention. Supply chain, inventory, shipping and logistics, marketing, accounting, and much more can be automated and streamlined. You may not need to upgrade all of these systems at once, but you do have to be fully aware of its current cost. Set upper limits on time you will allow your business to invest in manual tasks. When those limits are reached, it’s time.

Ask yourself: have you over-invested in a platform that was once an upgrade? If you have an employed crew of technicians dedicated to specific knowledge about a platform, you might need some perspective. Could you be more competitive with a platform that offers more capabilities and requires less arcane knowledge, support, and maintenance?

How To Spot Outdated eCommerce Technology

Understanding which software is outmoded and knowing exactly when it is time to upgrade can be two separate battles. Sometimes a technology may not be ideal, but it is sufficient for the medium term. Businesses need to know when the investment in new software will provide a worthwhile return on investment and when upgrading could lead nowhere.

Set Metrics

Ideally, a business should run like a well-oiled machine. However, even the most well-oiled machines still have their off days. You need to be able to sort glitches from serious problems. Decide on metrics that will regularly measure the effectiveness of every piece of technology. Decide on the tipping point for each metric. At what point will it be time to upgrade technologies?

Ask People

The best way to feel out how well a technology is working for a business is to check in with employees and customers. The employees that use the technology every single day know it inside and out. They understand how well it helps them to complete tasks and how well it has transitioned with them as eCommerce needs have changed. Additionally, these employees are likely specialized in specific fields. They have been working in accounting, marketing, or customer service for years. They know their industry and have insights into any new potential technology. Customers can give you insights into broken features, unintentionally hidden features, gaps between their preferences and your systems, and competitor observations.

Track Time Spend

While some technologies will inherently be more heavily used than others, tracking the amount of time employees spend on each piece of software can help merchants identify whether the technology is inhibiting processes or optimizing them. When employees spend an inordinate amount of time and labor accomplishing tasks that can be automated, this is a clear sign that the technology is not working for the business.

Compare ROIs

Just about every business technology comes with an expense. However, it should also come with benefits. When these differences are weighed against each other, the benefit should outweigh the expense. Identify the benefits that each technology offers and turn this into quantifiable dollars. Then, compare it to how much it costs to run the technology, in terms of monthly labor, initial cost, and any yearly licensing fees.

An upgrade, when necessary, can provide a tremendous advantage for eCommerce businesses. One minor change in software has the potential to enhance efficiency, increase profitability, and minimize time to market. To chat with us about upgrading your eCommerce technology, contact us today.

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

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

3 Types of eMails to Send

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

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

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

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

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

The Welcome eMail

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

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

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

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

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

Abandoned Cart

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

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

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

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

The Story Series

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

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

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

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

Recognize the Power Behind an eMail

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

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

5 Tips for Writing Clickable Adwords Copy for eCommerce Websites

5 Tips for Writing Clickable Adwords Copy for eCommerce Websites

Better Google Adwords Copy

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

1. Add Value

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

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

2. Use Space Wisely

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

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

3. Use Keywords in the URL

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

4. Use Dynamic Copy

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

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

5. Test and Monitor

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

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

 

Offline Tips for Generating Online Sales

Offline Tips for Generating Online Sales

Offline Marketing Tips

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

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

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

Text Messaging Campaigns

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

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

Pop-up Shops

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

Printed Coupons

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

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

Sticker Marketing

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

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

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

Branded Merchandise

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

Workshops

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

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

Promote Your eCommerce Business to Everyone

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

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

 

4 Reasons to Include Chatboxes on eCommerce Websites

4 Reasons to Include Chatboxes on eCommerce Websites

Chatboxes for eCommerce

A chatbox, or site chat, is a huge opportunity for visitors to interact with sales and service staff directly through the website instead of having to call or email. Chatbots can be triggered by rules and sometimes artificial intelligence in which the system can generate a response to many basic questions. Chatboxes can also be used to gather customer feedback, complete purchases, and build customer profiles. Here are four reasons why eCommerce websites are starting to rely more on chatboxes, and some ways not to use them:

#1 – They Can Improve Customer Experience

Merchants want site visitors to have a positive experience. Happy customers are more likely to complete a purchase, become a repeat customer, and recommend the site to others. Allowing visitors to receive instant feedback or interact with a merchant directly on the site, or via social media through FB Messenger, generates a more positive shopping experience that is not only easier but less intrusive and time-consuming than waiting on the phone or for an email reply.

That being said, don’t add instant pop-ups on the initial page load or place chat boxes on pages with strong calls to action to potentially confuse customers. The purpose is to facilitate the buying experience. Chatboxes can be overbearing- for example, on mobile devices, we have found increases in conversion rate by removing chatboxes in the checkout process as opposed to having it appear on every page on every device. Improving an eCommerce website is all about creating meaningful customer experiences, and a chatbox is just one way to do this.

#2 – They Help Give Instant Feedback

When someone is frustrated with a site or their question is left unanswered, they are more likely to resort to something that responds instantly rather than waiting on the phone. Site surveys and chat boxes triggered to display after some stagnant time on a page or repeated visits to the same page can allow customers to share their experience, either positive or negative, and ask questions. This gives your team valuable information instantly. Many site improvements, A/B testing concepts, content ideas and even different product offerings come from feedback collected directly from customers.

#3 – Chatboxes Can Cut Costs

Rather than having a dedicated team of customer support on hand at all times, a merchant can save some money by going with a chatbot. Chatbots are able to answer the most common questions that customers are likely to have and do so at any time of day. When a customer has a very specific or uncommon question that can’t be answered by a Chatbot system, they can be directed to the customer service team for further help. This reduces the team’s workload, meaning they can get back to customers quicker, and won’t require as large a staff as would be needed without the Chatbot system. Not to mention that customer service reps are able to multi-task on chat more than over the phone, which can help increase productivity.

#4 – They Can Help Build Your Brand

Superior customer service and improved interaction with customers are two things every merchant strives for as a competitive advantage. Chatboxes make that goal more achievable in a few ways:

  • Site chats are commonly used these days, but there are creative ways to utilize automated triggers or chatbots to differentiate yourself from the competition. Insert some humor or communicate your core values in the chat pop-up to help build a connection to site visitors.
  • They create an opportunity to educate visitors. Customers will remember a brand where they learned more about products while researching before making a purchase.
  • Use different chat invitations on product pages or different devices to cater to the types of questions or experience the visitor has at that specific time. A more personalized experience will cause visitors to remember your brand over a generic or unsubstantial interaction.

Don’t be just another run of the mill site chat implementor – there are too many tools and features available today to just use default settings. By gathering more information merchants can better decide if this piece of technology is right for their eCommerce website, and if so, how to get started with it.

Hopefully this quick guide was able to shed some light on the advantages of using a chatbox on an eCommerce website. Please feel free to contact us at any time to learn more.

 

6 Smart Strategies to Boost Sales to Repeat Customers

6 Smart Strategies to Boost Sales to Repeat Customers

Boost Repeat Customers

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

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

Returning Customers Are Special—Treat Them That Way

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

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

Offer Discounts on Subsequent Purchases

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

Send Targeted Emails Suggesting Appropriate Products

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

Leverage Offline Strategies (Like Direct Mail)

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

Don’t Forget to Say “Thank You”

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

Ask Customers for Feedback

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

Focus on Abandoned Shopping Carts

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

Communication is Key

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

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

 

5 Online Marketing Tools That Benefit eCommerce Business

5 Online Marketing Tools That Benefit eCommerce Business

Popular Marketing Tools

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

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

Social Media Marketing Tools

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

#1: Hootsuite

Hootsuite is a social media management tool that allows a merchant to schedule social media messages, track how people respond to posts, manage multiple accounts from one dashboard, and much more. Rather than switching back and forth between different social media accounts trying to do everything throughout the day, a merchant can get it all done at one time with this great tool.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Tools

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

#2: SEMrush

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

#3: Yoast

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

Data and Analytics

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

#4: BuiltWith

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

#5: Google Tag Manager

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

Make the Most of Available Tools

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

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

How to Correct Common User Interface Issues and Improve Conversions

How to Correct Common User Interface Issues and Improve Conversions

Improve Conversion rate

A well designed and user-friendly website can make the difference between a new customer making a purchase and a prospect who immediately bounces. In eCommerce, web design encompasses more than color schemes and cool effects. Successful web design includes a smooth navigation, high image quality, mobile compatibility, and many other factors that contribute to a positive user experience.

Unfortunately, it is easy to overlook important elements or make mistakes in the area of design due to prioritizing how something looks over how it functions.

Below are six of the most common eCommerce design improvements we implement to help increase user engagement and conversion rates.

1. Plan Out Category Navigation and Stick With It

The menu is crucial: it is the first thing visitors see and it ultimately tells them where to go. New visitors spend about ¼ of their attention on the main navigation of a website, so the menu is most often the first impression visitors have of the site. Common design mistakes in the navigation include having too many options, vague category titles, and overall disorganization. When customers aren’t sure where they need to go, they are likely to simply leave the site to search out other options.

The key to a successful navigation is thinking about how the customers shop and planning the catalog structure accordingly. When designing a site catalog, think like a customer and personalize the menu to best answer questions they’re searching for – this means getting them to where they need to be in the least amount of thought and clicks as possible. Avoid overwhelming visitors with choices right off the bat, and limit the primary navigation to as few options as possible. Then utilize attributes and faceted navigation within larger categories to help with filtering.

It’s important to stick with it – adding new product lines or brands can cause a review of the navigation already on the site, and bloat originally simple category structure. Select high-level categories named what customers call your products, to aid in on-site browsing as well as search engine optimization. Always think about what problems the customer is trying to solve, and cater to providing the answer as quickly as possible.

2. Simplify the Checkout Process

As of 2018, an average of 75% of all shopping carts are abandoned. Users abandon their cart for a variety of reasons, sometimes just to see if they’ll receive a coupon code, but most of the time it’s due to user interface mistakes, such as the addition of unnecessary required fields, uncommon fields in the checkout, or unhelpful error messages. A 2012 study conducted by Baymard Institute found that users reported 61 of the top 100 eCommerce sites were asking for “seemingly unnecessary” information. Consider providing shortcuts like autofill options for addresses or allowing customers to check out as a guest.

Because checkout process issues can vary so widely, there is no easy fix. Instead, the first step is to think like a customer (see how that keeps coming up?) and see if there is any unnecessary clutter in the checkout process. Once common sense is checked off, see exactly where potential customers get stuck. Setup the checkout funnel in Google Analytics and pay attention to the Abandoned Carts report in Magento.

Something to keep in mind: the longer the check-out process is, the lower the conversions will be. Keep it short and sweet in order to boost conversions and keep visitors coming back. Magento 1’s native checkout left a lot to be desired, but Magento 2 has a nice checkout process built in.

Finally, if you’re not running a shopping cart abandonment program, do it! https://carts.guru/en/ has become one of our favorite tools, but there are several tools out there specializing in shopping cart abandonment.

3. Use Great Images

Image quality is both technical and qualitative. Low-resolution pics will simply look bad and decrease the credibility of the site. Meanwhile, stock photography that is irrelevant to the brand or products will do little to convince online shoppers to buy from the website.

Go beyond the basics and invest in high-quality images that effectively highlight and differentiate the product and the brand. Customers expect images to add context and meaning. Whenever possible, use real people in photos, display product details in images, and give visitors large, hi-quality photos.

Studies confirm that larger images are more effective than smaller ones in boosting conversions. Though product information may have been pushed below the fold, customers were more concerned with seeing the product clearly when deciding whether to buy. Find that balance between compressing larger images vs sizing down images for the sake of performance. It’s 2018, get a CDN if necessary, but don’t skimp on images.

4. Write Valuable Product Descriptions

Many eCommerce product pages fall victim to the same types of mistakes:

  • Product descriptions that don’t convey the basics
  • Unclear information about the product’s benefits for the buyer
  • No visuals to clearly explain how to use a product

Product descriptions should be clear, concise and credible… sometimes entertaining helps too. They need to be carefully crafted to be descriptive and add value without wasting time. Tips like highlighting the benefits of the product for the customer (as opposed to a focus on features only), adding in sensory adjectives to allow the reader to experience the copy, and making the description scannable by utilizing bullet points or fun icons can pay dividends.

Another reason for creating great product pages is to establish trust. Including customer testimonials or social proof like tweets or Instagram photos that feature the product is a great way to assure customers that it’s as great as the description says.

Target does a great job of this. The screenshot below displays the company using their hashtag #targetstyle to advertise a bathing suit that women have taken photos wearing.

Example of social proof

Not only does this add credibility to the product, but it sparks growth in social media presence as well as building your brand and customer loyalty.

5. Fully Embrace Responsive Design

Mobile traffic accounts for 30% – 40% of the average eCommerce site, and spikes greatly during the holiday shopping season. Responsive templates are pretty much a standard practice these days, and Magento includes a great best practice responsive theme, but just having a responsive site isn’t enough.

The most overlooked aspect of responsive sites is having site content not load well on mobile. Build the catalog and product content so it displays perfectly on phones, tablets, and desktop. Also, prioritize how site elements load on mobile. Desktop-centric features such as rotating banners, interactive social share buttons, and other features shouldn’t always display on mobile at all, or perhaps just not in the same order. For example, display a static banner on mobile instead of a rotating banner to help with performance and accommodate the shorter attention span mobile users often have.

6. Optimize Site Search

Site search can be a catch 22 – sometimes merchants are sold a bill of goods for a 3rd party site search provider and find out later their customers never even use the site search feature. Other times it’s a neglected piece of the site experience that desperately needs some attention. Setup Site Search Tracking in Google Analytics to see how often people are currently utilizing site search, and optimize based on customer demographics. Some sites have a search box just because it’s included in the theme, but it never gets used. In that case, it is best just to ditch it.

Tracking site search will provide insight into how visitors are engaging with your site and allow you to make better-informed decisions on any third party tools that may be needed. If your customers will benefit from an optimized search function, put the effort into building it out as a useful tool – it will be a great resource of data as well.  Use a site search utility that provides values to customers through useful faceted navigation, suggested terms and merchandising capabilities.

Building a Better eCommerce Website

All of these steps help build trust with customers, and they need to be implemented in tandem. Conversion rate optimization is just as much about removing reasons that make people not buy as it is giving them a reason to buy. Mistakes in eCommerce web design don’t just decrease credibilitythey decrease revenue.

Contact us to learn more about successful user interface design or for help optimizing your eCommerce site.

 

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

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

Social Media Mistakes

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

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

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

1. Rarely Interacting With Followers

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

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

Repeat Customers are Important Customers

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

Trust is Everything

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

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

2. Not Understanding the Audience

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

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

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

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

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

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

3. Never Establishing a Voice

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

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

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

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

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

Learning Social Media Takes Time

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

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

5 Simple SEO Tips That Don’t Require a Developer

5 Simple SEO Tips That Don’t Require a Developer

SEO tips

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

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

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

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

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

Correct Missing or Low-Scoring Metadata

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

Repair Broken Links

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

Optimize Images

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

Address Duplicate Content Issues

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

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

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