Padawan Series: Image Search Engine Optimization 101

Padawan Series: Image Search Engine Optimization 101

What’s the first thing that online shoppers look for when they find a physical product they’re interested in buying? More pictures, usually. More specifically, pictures featured on platforms like Google Images, Instagram, and Pinterest. 

There’s no doubting that unique, quality images are integral to your web store. The challenge is getting your images in front of the eyes of potential customers when all of your competitors are trying to do the same thing. The aforementioned image-sharing platforms are often a tense battleground where hundreds of photos duke it out to be above the fold when users search for a product keyword.

In that regard, the journey to maximizing the visibility of your images across platforms – and using that visibility to boost traffic to your website – begins with some proper SEO and image optimization:

1. Compress to Conserve Data

Google doesn’t like it when you waste users’ bandwidth – especially mobile users, who are often restricted by monthly data caps from their ISPs. Taking a large image and simply shrinking it down via HTML tags only changes the appearance of the image. The same unnecessarily large file is still loaded on users’ devices, it’s simply displayed smaller on their screens.

That creates a couple of problems. For one, Google’s algorithm notices those oversized image files wasting data and dings your site for not being optimized. Secondly, larger files equal longer load times, which Google also penalizes. Having your website populated with unnecessarily large image files can even make it hang up or freeze on some users’ devices, hitting you with the third and final blow of an increased bounce rate.

2. Create Relevant File Names

It’s only a small bump in SEO friendliness, but every bump counts. Edit the image file names on your server to something unique and relevant. For example, you might name an image of an aftermarket chrome car wheel something like “20_inch_mag_wheel_chrome.jpg” instead of the random string of characters that it’s named by default.

Those relevant keywords in the file name give search engines another opportunity to properly categorize and rank your images. Furthermore, it makes them more user-friendly: users who open your images in new browser tabs or download them will be met with a nice, descriptive file name.

3. Write Unique and Descriptive ALT Tags

ALT tags give you yet another opportunity to sprinkle your images with some SEO- and user-friendliness. Essentially, the whole purpose of an ALT tag is to describe the content of an image for algorithms as well as visually-impaired users. Make sure all of your images have brief, relevant ALT tags peppered with some of the keywords your page is targeting.

4. Surround the Images with Relevant Text

Of course, in the end it all comes down to content. No amount of optimization will propel your site and web images to the top of search results if the written content isn’t unique, relevant, and well-executed.

When it comes to images, the page text will further help search algorithms categorize and rank you by subject and quality. For example, an image of a chrome wheel could appear on an automotive aftermarket web store, a bicycle shop, a page offering Google Chrome icon packs, etc. It’s the text on the page in the vicinity of the image – most notably the caption – that tells algorithms what they’re looking at.

Conclusion

Once you get all of your web images compressed, optimized, and placed correctly for SEO purposes, you’ll have a solid foundation from which to build platform-specific image marketing strategies. Create unique, high-quality images, tag and market them effectively on Google and social media, then you’ll really have a leg up on your competitors’ stores when shoppers go browsing on their favorite image platforms for some shopping inspiration. Reach out to us today and let’s discuss how to make this magic happen on your own eCommerce site.

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Padawan Series: How to Take Your Apparel Brand Online

Padawan Series: How to Take Your Apparel Brand Online

Today, eCommerce is more important for brands than ever. With physical limitations in place for the foreseeable future, having a strong online presence is crucial. 

Your eCommerce platform needs to accurately reflect your business and its values, as well as your services or products. But it also needs to adhere to industry standards. With Google Search recently announcing it will be favoring websites with great UX, now is the time to translate the positive experience your customers have with you and your products into a positive user experience, or UX, on your website.

Fortunately, we are all in “an environment where imagination and technical ability, not wealth, are the only barriers.” That means if you’re driven and committed to succeeding online, you can. 

Here are six actionable tips for how to take your apparel brand online.

Choose a clean, simple design

For a strong first impression, choose a clean, minimal theme for your website. This makes it easier for customers to immediately identify your central product(s) and ethos. If your brand already has a visual identity in terms of colors, patterns or textures, these should be incorporated into your website’s design. This is key to creating a positive brand experience. It also gives your returning customers the assurance that they’re in the right place. New customers will feel confident when they see this consistency across your website, social media pages and in photos of your operations. With this consistency, you’re sending a visual message that this same commitment to quality translates to your products or services. A streamlined homepage also ensures a faster load time for your website, which is another crucial element of good UX, especially when considering the fact that 57% of visitors will leave a website if it takes longer than 3 seconds to load.

Have a strong logo and high-quality photos

Make it clear who you are by putting your logo front and center on your homepage. It should be high resolution and scalable for mobile. Test your website on as many different devices as possible—on desktop and mobile, as well as tablets and Android and iPhone devices. This will help you identify and minimize any bugs. It may sound obvious, but by taking the time to brand your eCommerce store consistently and clearly, you’re ensuring it communicates the same level of professionalism that you have in every one of your client interactions. Represent your products and services well with clear, high quality and relevant photos. Clients will be much more likely to place an order if they know exactly what they’re getting. If you can, invest in original photography, instead of stock photography. It’s another way to stand out among your competitors, and adds a personal touch.

Be mindful of your SEO

Alongside your quality photos, you’ll need descriptions of your products or services. These should be short and sweet, and employ sound SEO tactics. Try to strike a balance between natural language and industry terminology. You want to attract people who are looking for your services and products, but not drive people away who may be unfamiliar with the lingo. Whatever you do, don’t go overboard and jam a bunch of jargony search terms in a sentence. Google can and does punish websites that try to trick the system with keyword overload. So remember, like your visual design, clean and simple is key.

Have an awesome ‘about’ page

Clients and customers want to know and trust the people behind the brands they’re supporting. They are searching for brands whose values align with their own. This doesn’t mean you need to divulge your life story on your website (unless it’s relevant to your business). But a few personal touches can go a long way in garnering loyal clients. Let them get to know you by adding an ‘About’ page to your eCommerce platform, and share a bit about who you are and what you do. We recommend adding staff photos and short biographies for your ‘higher profile’ employees.

Ensure your website is mobile-friendly

Nowadays we use our cellphones for almost everything, so you can be sure a lot of your clients will be coming to you that way. More than half of online shoppers make purchases using a mobile device, so while you spend hours sharpening your desktop site, ensure you also pay attention to how it scales, and optimize each page for mobile. Users who have a negative experience in your mobile store are said to be 62% less likely to purchase from you in the future. So try to ensure your mobile site loads as smoothly and quickly as possible. An effective, simple and cost-effective way to do this is by implementing a Progessive Web App (PWA) to your mobile site, which replicates the app experience on a mobile browser, for a fraction of the cost and commitment of a Native App. Learn more about PWAs in our recent blogs.

Keep track of your analytics

Once your website is up and running, keep track of its performance via analytics, and adjust where necessary. Not getting many visitors for a certain product or service? Try adjusting your SEO in that area by researching the latest popular search terms and updating your copy. Ensure you keep your website up to date with any new services or products you add, and consider adding these to your homepage, for visibility. It pays to check in regularly on how your website is performing. Consider making a calendar reminder for yourself to look at your analytics. Keeping your SEO strong will help keep your business strong, too.

Conclusion

By taking the time to get the basics right, you’ll be well on your way to having a successful eCommerce platform for your apparel business. Represent your brand online as you would in-person—with your unique style, care and attention to detail. If you’d like some extra help with taking your apparel brand online, click here to speak to a member of our team.

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Padawan Series: Content Strategy Tactics for Your Apparel & Accessories Brand

Padawan Series: Content Strategy Tactics for Your Apparel & Accessories Brand

Your apparel and accessories eCommerce’s main communication with customers is through your webstore’s content. Content encompasses all the digital assets (written copy, images, graphics and videos) created for a brand whether it is for your website, social media, text messages or emails. Consumers prefer companies that have content that not only is memorable but adds some type of value to their lives. Having a successful and efficient content strategy will put your brand a step above your competitors. In this guide, you will learn different content strategy tactics to improve your apparel and accessories eCommerce.

Create a Content Marketing Funnel

It’s best to have a content marketing funnel that will guide you and your customers. A content funnel visualizes the process or journey that potential customers go through while making a purchase decision. This content marketing funnel splits into three main sections: the top of the funnel, the middle of the funnel and the bottom of the funnel. Each section has a specific purpose and action that it pushes your customers to perform.

 Top of the Funnel (TOFU)

The top of the content funnel is where you grab your customers’ attention. The main focus of the TOFU is to show brand awareness and increase site traffic. To show brand awareness, you’ll want to include content with value that answer questions or solve problems. The main content of this section of the funnel includes blog posts, videos, podcasts, social media updates and infographics. As a way to increase site traffic, your company needs to consider implementing email marketing and social media marketing to gain a wide range of customers.

Middle of the Funnel (MOFU)

Once customers know your brand and have received some type of free value, it’s time to convert them into a lead. The middle of the funnel is where your company focuses on lead generation and building a deeper relationship with your customers by creating content that educates and informs. You can build trust by sending personalized emails to your shoppers. Educating and informing customers can come in many forms like offers, your brand’s story, shipping or return guidelines. The type of content you will use in this section of the funnel includes white papers, ebooks, reports, studies, quizzes, webinars, guides and emails.

Bottom of the Funnel (BOFU)

The bottom of the funnel persuades leads to complete a purchase. Conversions through a paid service or product by using personalized content is the main focus of the BOFU. It takes more than just building a relationship with your customers to gain a sale. The BOFU is also where your webstore should utilize discounts and offers to convert shoppers into leads. Customer reviews, promo codes, discounts and demos are types of content you will see in this section of the funnel. 

Once you have a solid content marketing funnel, you will have an easier time reaching a larger audience. Creating a successful content funnel can be tedious and time-consuming, that’s why we recommend working with a marketing firm that understands and can implement an efficient content funnel.

Focus on Value

Focusing on value is where you understand where your customer is coming from and what they are looking for. Simply put, you need to understand what they ‘value’. This is the first step in building a deeper connection with your audience. Instead of sending out emails and posts that are promotion-heavy, create content that can help your brand gain credibility. One of the ways your eCommerce webstore can focus on value is to tell interesting stories through customer reviews, videos and influencers using your products. By creating an interesting story about your apparel company, you are allowing customers to relate and build a deeper relationship.

Keep Content Concise, Compelling and Impactful

Your apparel and accessories brand will communicate with your customers through content. This communication needs to include all aspects of your brand, any discounts or any other relevant information. The best way to communicate to your customers  all the elements your company needs to display is by keeping your content concise and compelling yet impactful. Users don’t want to spend too much time trying to find the product or information they are looking for. Ideally, they want the information in 30 seconds of less. However, this doesn’t mean you have to abandon creative assets. Instead, your brand needs to have a way to create content that is memorable and fun but still has an impact on your customers. You’ll want all your content to persuade shoppers to purchase. 

Schuler Shoes has a great example of content that is concise, compelling yet impactful:

Create Shoppable Social Media Content

Shoppable social media content can give your company an additional channel from which to make  sales. Social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest allow customers to shop for products from the original post. Just as a reference of how powerful shoppable posts are, over 130 million users tap and shop on shoppable Instagram posts per month. While creating any type of shoppable content on social media, you need to include clear call-to-action like buy now or shop now. Also, include enticing and memorable written copy, videos or photos. We know that social media isn’t for every company; however, if you want tips on how to improve your social media platforms, keep reading here.

Use Email Marketing Personalization

80% of customers are more likely to complete a purchase from a company that offers personalized experiences. A great way to offer your customers this personalized experience is through email marketing personalization. Creating a personalized email doesn’t mean you have to individually design every email to cater specifically to each customer. Instead, you can personalize an email’s content based on demographics, geological location and what the customer has viewed or bought in the past. Emails like cart abandonment and seasonal themes or promotions work well with personalization. These types of emails not only give customers a personalized experience but also give them an action to complete. To make email marketing easier, you can work with a knowledgeable marketing firm or utilize one of the many email marketing extensions that can help you manage your emails and their performance.

Improve Customer Service

Content doesn’t end with social media posts, emails and your website, instead, it also boosts  your brand’s customer service. The outcomes, whether it is a positive or negative interaction, of your brand’s customer service affect how shoppers view your company. 78% of consumers have backed out of a purchase due to negative customer service. So how does an apparel webstore have great customer service through content? In general, customers want content that answers questions on multiple channels including mobile, emails and social media. The answers to these questions shouldn’t take long and should in turn help the user. Studies show that 40% of customers want information, answers, offers and deals from chatbots. These chatbots give them automatic answers without having to wait a long time for real customer service representatives to solve any of their issues. 

Conclusion

Your webstore’s content encompasses many different elements of your company. These were just some of the content strategy tactics to help improve your apparel and accessories eCommerce. There are many more ways that content can help your brand increase traffic and sales. To discover the best content strategy tactics for your company, contact us today.

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Padawan Series: eCommerce and Pharmaceuticals: Popularity, Benefits and How to Get Started

Padawan Series: eCommerce and Pharmaceuticals: Popularity, Benefits and How to Get Started

As a pharmaceutical manufacturer or distributor growing your brand online is vital. In fact, eCommerce has never been more popular or more important for a business. But why is e-commerce so necessary, how do you make sure that it’s effective and how do you get started? In this article, we’ll explore all of this and more.

Why do you need eCommerce for your pharma brand?

eCommerce is growing in popularity every day for all industries—and for the pharmaceutical industry, this couldn’t be more true. The current size of the online pharmacy market is valued around $50 million, and it’s projected to reach upwards of $170 million in the next few years. Currently, online prescription orders account for about 25% of pharmaceuticals sold in the United States—and that number grows every day.

What’s the benefit of eCommerce for consumers?

The age group that’s most likely to purchase medication online is 35 to 44-year-olds. This demographic is busy with spouses, kids, pets, jobs, friends, family and recreational activities. As a result, they choose to purchase many products, including medication online. In addition, older demographics are increasingly more comfortable with technology and thus more interested in buying medication online too. This popularity is increasing for the following reasons.

Convenience: For many people, there simply aren’t enough hours in the day to get to a local pharmacy. That’s why they rely on the quick push of a button on their phone or computer to order their medication. It’s quick and simple.

Less exposure: Older demographics are more likely to seek out ways to reduce their exposure to sickness, especially now during the COVID-19 outbreak. Ordering their medication online—instead of going to the store—is a much safer option for them.

Auto-ship: Having medications on auto-ship takes having to remember out of the equation. It’s automatic, it’s one less thing to worry about and people are way less likely to miss their important meds.

Privacy: Buying medication online eliminates the embarrassment that can come from purchasing certain meds in person.

What’s the benefit of eCommerce for you?

When selling pharmaceuticals, there are countless benefits of having everything available online for your business. Here are just a few.

Data, analytics and metrics: When customers purchase medication online, you now have access to some of their personal information. Over time, this data can be compiled so that you can learn more about each customer and your overall customer base. For example, analytics can show each customer’s purchasing behaviors, demographics and more. Companies can then use this digital data to improve their marketing, stock their shelves more effectively and better engage with customers.

Less competition: When people visit a pharmacy, there are lots of options on the shelf—and many of them may have the same active ingredient as your product but can  also be less expensive. This can cause your brand to lose market share. However, by selling online, there’s less blatant competition at the time of purchase.

Lower shipping costs: When companies can produce medication in one single location and then send it directly to consumers—instead of paying for multiple regional warehouses to stock the products—the shipping costs become exponentially lower.

Build Relationship with the Customer: For manufacturers and distributors, having an eCommerce presence allows you to eliminate steps in the distribution process, each of which carries a cost.

How can you ensure that your company is ready for e-commerce?

As a pharmaceutical manufacturer, distributor or retailer, it’s important to jump on the eCommerce bandwagon sooner rather than later. If you’re only selling vitamins and supplements, this is a relatively simple process. Just list your products online and allow people to buy them directly from your website.

However, if you sell prescription products, things are more involved. You’ll need to be sure that you’ve built a verification functionality into your site and have a process for authenticating all purchases.

No matter what type of pharmaceuticals you’re selling, it’s crucial that you have all product information readily available on your website. Nutrition facts, labels and any other pertinent information need to be obvious and easy to follow. This will help keep you out of hot water in terms of the many legalities of pharma.

How should you get started in the e-commerce world?

You might be reading this and now know about the importance of eCommercebut what if you have no online webstore? Don’t panic.

The first step to take is to develop a website that’s eCommerce friendly. There are many platforms from which to choose (and we can help you with this). Once you have your e-commerce website up and running, you have to figure out how to get people there! This is done by focusing on solid SEO practices and creating social media pages (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, etc.), as well as ongoing  email campaigns. These tactics will make people more aware of your brand and get them more engaged with what you offer.

Conclusion

With more and more people needing the convenience, safety and privacy that online pharma can provide, it’s no wonder that e-commerce sales increase every day. And when pharma companies know how to effectively sell online, they’ll reap the benefits for years to come.

To learn more about how InteractOne can help implement and grow your pharmaceutical eCommerce initiatives, contact us today.

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Padawan Series: eCommerce and Pharmaceuticals: Popularity, Benefits and How to Get Started

Padawan Series: Email Marketing Best Practices For Apparel & Accessories

The use of direct mail marketing decreases every year with brick-and-mortar retailers, as well as  eCommerce stores. Businesses are increasingly opting for the more affordable, faster, and more effective route — email marketing. As an apparel and accessories webstore, email marketing is one of the main ways you promote your brand. As you know, email marketing involves sending out commercial emails to existing and potential customers as a means to communicate important details about your products, webstore, social media and any other relevant information. It’s the most direct way to keep in touch with your prospects and customer base. 

No matter how many fans or followers you have on social media, you don’t ‘own’ those contacts. The average social media post will organically reach less than 1% of your followers. Whereas with email marketing, you ‘own’ those contacts. Assuming their email address is still active, you can be assured that your eblast will reach their inbox, giving you the opportunity to make a connection and a sale. In this guide, you will learn how to make the most of your email communications. Read on for the four best practices when using email marketing for your apparel and accessories eCommerce business.

Personalize Emails for Targeted Audiences

Your apparel webstore needs to have personalized emails to target specific audiences. When we say personalized emails, we don’t mean to send out individual emails, hand written to each customer. Instead, these personalized emails in most cases include welcome emails, standard promotional emails, seasonal emails, newsletters, post-purchase emails, cart abandonment emails and re-engagement emails. Each one of these email types has a specific layout and purpose. For example, cart abandonment emails target customers who placed items into a cart, but never completed the purchase. By sending out a cart abandonment email, you are reminding customers of your site and the products they wanted. Plus if you add an offer, they are more inclined to finish purchasing. 

Personalized emails also work as a means of developing a deeper connection with your customers. Customers prefer personalized emails based on their demographic, geographical location and items they prefer. By skipping out on sending a mass email to every subscriber, your customers most likely will open more of your emails which then leads to more conversions, instead of them throwing it away or unsubscribing. You can customize emails to your customers by checking out your CRM data to learn what your customers are looking at and what they are possibly interested in. 

Keeping up with all the different types of personalized emails can be confusing and time-consuming, especially when working with a large customer database and a CRM like Salesforce. That’s why we recommend working with a marketing firm that understands the different types of emails and when to send them.

Review Your Mail Schedule

Timing is everything and that is particularly true for  email. You have to reach your customers at the right time or you risk losing them forever. Cart abandonment emails work well to drive traffic because it prompts the customers to complete an action they already began. The popular clothing company, ASOS, provides an excellent, straight-to-the-point cart abandonment email:

Another example is scheduling emails around specific holidays like the Christmas season, Cyber Monday, back to school and more. Also, remember that customers unsubscribe from brands that send out too many emails. Most companies send out about two to eight emails a month to their subscribers, depending on the brand and testing. Testing is crucial to this process as well. You don’t want to scare off subscribers with too many eblasts but you also want to stay top-of-mind for them. We’ve spoken at length about the benefits of AB testing your website (here and here) but these same principles apply to your email schedule as well. Test different release schedules on random portions of your contact list to see what frequency solicites the best response.

Monitor Email Performance

What’s the point of having email marketing if you don’t know how well your emails are  performing? An email performance report will show you what sections have the highest and lowest conversion rates. From there, you can then decide what needs to stay and what needs to change.. 

Many email providers can view your open and click rates. If they notice your emails are not being opened and engaged with, your reputation as a mailer can plummet, which could result in being kicked off the platform. To avoid this from happening, here are three approaches that you should keep in mind:

  1. Use special messaging to reactivate customers.
  2. Reduce the number of emails you send to these customers.
  3. If recipients aren’t opening or clicking on your email, remove them from your list. 

Dropping subscribers from your email list maybe concerning, but it will actually  boost your mailer reputation. If you notice that you are unsubscribing many users, make sure to have a marketing plan to find new potential customers. Monitoring email performance is a tedious task that can be confusing and frustrating, especially if you’re also evaluating any A/B tests you’re currently running. There are many Magento extensions that help monitor your emails as well as do A/B testing. Email tools like Mailchimp, Klaviyo, dotDigital and Listrak are a few places where you can monitor and A/B test your email marketing. 

Revise Future Emails

Email marketing involves a ton of testing and trial and error. When you first start sending emails, it may be hard to know what will and won’t work for your customers. Throughout any email marketing campaign, you will learn what customers click on. From there, you grow and adapt to what they want to see. You also need to remember that customers’ interests are constantly changing. So, a Call To Action or content (video, images or written copy) that worked before doesn’t guarantee that your customers will continue to show interest months down the line. 

As mentioned before, A/B testing your email performance is key to understanding what works for your company. While reviewing your results, you need to take note of every feature that isn’t working and replace it with a new element that may better connect with your audience. This applies to every element of your emails including CTAs, graphics, promotions, copy, images, layout, subject lines and preheaders. By constantly revising and building upon improvements, you should have an email design and release schedule that fits your brand and connects with your customer base in a real and measurable way.

The potential of gaining new customers through email marketing is limitless, but there are a number of steps and requirements every company must go through to send out any emails. The best way to stay on top of your email marketing is to use one of these recommended extensions or work with a knowledgeable marketing team. To learn more about how to implement these strategies and increase online sales, contact us today.

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