Meta Descriptions: Small Detail Costing You Big Traffic

Meta Descriptions: Small Detail Costing You Big Traffic

The list of elements on your webstore that ‘need work’ is seemingly endless. It’s easy for minor tasks to not receive priority when managing your firm’s growing eCommerce efforts. Meta descriptions are one of those small tasks that often get forgotten. Although Google has said meta tags are not a ranking factor, they are one of those small on-page SEO tasks you should incorporate into your content marketing strategy to optimize results.

In this blog, we will ​​provide a quick guide about what meta descriptions are, why they are important. how to write them so they stand out in search engine result pages, and other tips to keep in mind when focusing on your site’s meta tags.

So, what is a meta description?

In short, a meta description is the short section of text that appears below a link in the Search Results page or in the preview section when you send a link. The purpose of a meta description is to describe what the page’s content is about, so people looking through a search results page know what to expect before they click. You can either write your own directly in your website’s CMS or search engines will pull content directly from your site to fill it in automatically.  Do you want to leave this sort of customer-facing assignment up to a computer program? It is important to write your own – so you control what visitors see and can ensure the description is an accurate representation of what your site is about.

It is also important to note that meta descriptions are not a direct ranking factor. However, they can influence whether people will click on your webpage and indirectly influence your organic traffic.

Why are meta descriptions so important for your SEO?

Even though there is no direct correlation between meta descriptions and higher rankings on Google, meta descriptions do play a vital part in SEO. Google uses click-through rate (CTR) as a way of working out whether your link is a good result. What this means is the more people that click on your site, Google considers you to be a good result and will – based on your position – move you up the rankings. This is why optimizing your meta description is so important.

How to write a meta description effectively

Simply put, if you don’t put work into your meta descriptions, you may be missing out on quality website traffic, new leads, and customers. So, how can you start writing powerful meta descriptions that drive clicks? Follow the guidelines below:

Aim for the optimal length: ​​The right length doesn’t exist because it depends on the message you want to convey to a specific audience. However, Google generally truncates your meta snippet to 120-160 characters. Therefore, it’s best to keep meta descriptions long enough that they’re sufficiently descriptive, but short and snappy at the same time. Keep in mind that the “optimal” length will vary depending on the situation, and your primary goal should be to provide value and drive clicks.

Use action-oriented copy: If you think about it, a meta description is just like call-to-action copy, it tells the audience exactly what visitors can do if they click. You should start your meta descriptions with action words like “Learn,” “Discover,” or “Grab” and then follow up with specific details about what your potential site visitor will get if they click.

Include keywords: If the search keyword matches a part of the text in the meta description, Google will be more inclined to use it and highlight it in the search results. This will make the link to your site even more inviting. Google sometimes even highlights synonyms. In the example below, both the Academy Awards and Oscars are highlighted. Getting your results emphasized like that makes them stand out even more.

Write compelling copy: Think of your meta description as advertising copy – if your snippet is boring what would motivate someone to click on your link? A page’s meta description should intelligently employ the page’s target keywords, in a natural, non-spammy way that compels the user to click through to the page. Google and other search engines often bold keywords from the user’s query in the description display, which draws the eye of the searcher. Try to match your descriptions to valuable search terms as closely as possible without over-optimizing them.

Avoid quotation marks: When double quotation marks (“…”) are used within meta description HTML markup, Google recognizes them as signals to truncate the description from that point and will automatically cut off the rest of the text from the Search Engine Results Pages (SERP) snippet. To prevent this from happening, your best bet is to remove all non-alphanumeric characters from any of your meta descriptions. On the other hand, if quotation marks are important in your meta description, you can use the HTML entity rather than double quotes to prevent truncation.

Don’t be misleading: If your meta description misleads your audience with content unrelated to what users should expect once they click they’re likely to leave quickly. That’s one sure way to get high bounce rates. Not only that, you might risk losing a viewer’s trust and/or mentally being blacklisted from them ever clicking on your site in the future. Be honest about who you are and what you do.

Below are a few good examples of meta descriptions that incorporate all of the above tips:

Hellofresh: They rank for the search query “recipe box subscription” and take a different strategy by using short, snappy sentences to make it enticing for a user to want to click to learn more.

Mailchimp: When you see this search result for their pricing page, you can see the total package they put together with the compelling meta description and rich snippets. The description is concise but says everything it needs to. Then the rest of the rich snippets show more information on the same topic.

Why are meta descriptions so important for your SEO?

Meta descriptions on their own might seem like a small thing and many businesses might overlook their importance, but they are your chance to create the first impression of your site to visitors. By using our best-practice guide on how to write a great meta description, you will not only improve click-through rates, but also decrease bounce rates to gain even more traffic in the future. 

Spend time to fix your metadata today and begin seeing the results of that effort tomorrow. And if you need help with this or other Search Engine Optimization challenges, let us know, below. We’re digital marketing pros and are here to help.

    Get expert help today!

    An InteractOne Senior Team Member will get back to you within a day.

    Drop Us a Line At:

    Or, if you prefer an old-fashioned phone call:
    Phone (USA): (513) 469-3346

    4665 Cornell Rd. Suite 255
    Cincinnati, OH 45241

    logo-contact

    2022 Shipping Rate Changes: how to prep & what to expect

    2022 Shipping Rate Changes: how to prep & what to expect

    It seems like every year there are changes and updates made to shipping costs and this year is certainly no exception. Between the labor shortage, fuel costs and an unexpected backup-at-the-ports, carriers are definitely looking at an increase in costs which they will no doubt be passing along to you, the shipper. If you ship in the United States using UPS, DHL, or USPS you can count on an increase in shipping rates.  In this blog we’re going to review some of the changes made to shipping and what you can do about it in 2022.

    USPS

    Effective Date: January 9th, 2022

    -Retail rates for First Class Package Service will increase by $0.50 for packages weighing 1–4 ounces, $0.30 for packages weighing 5–12 ounces, and $0.80–$1.70 for packages over 12 oz.

    -Retail rates for Priority Mail Express will increase by 3.1% overall

    UPS

    Effective Date: December 26th, 2021

    Not waiting until the new year, UPS implemented their new charges the day after Christmas. UPS published rates will increase by an average of 5.9%.

    -UPS is making changes to the costs for value-added services and other charges.

    Effective Date: January 9th, 2022

    -The ZIP codes for which area surcharges apply will change. These include Delivery Area Surcharge, Extended Area Surcharge, and Remote Area Surcharge. Click here to see the full list of applicable ZIP codes.

    DHL Express

    Effective Jan 1, 2022 DHL Express retail rates will increase by an average of 5.9% for DHL Express Worldwide shipping service.

    Canada Post

    Effective January 10, 2022, Canada Post rates will increase by an average of 3.5% domestically and 2.8% to the US and internationally.

    How to optimize your shipping strategy

    The options available to you are largely based on your current shipping strategy; fee, flat rate or calculated shipping. Depending on which shipping option(s) your brand offers you will need to adjust your strategy accordingly.

    Free Shipping

    If you offer Free Shipping here are some options available to you:

    An Increase in product prices – If you’re still dead-set on maintaining your ‘free shipping’ options then an increase in product prices may be where you make up the loss incurred from the increased shipping costs. If you increase your products’ prices by the same percentage as these shipping increases you will maintain your magins. Although, your repeat and loyal customers may notice an increase in price, which could lead to an impact in their purchase frequency and shopping habits. This may be something worth A/B testing. 

    You could just do nothing – If you choose this route then you’ll need to absorb the increased cost of shipping yourself. Confirm your margins and your profitability before taking this route. 

    Consider a switch to ‘Free Shipping Minimums” – There is a compromise to be found between increasing your product prices and doing nothing. And that compromise is to add a free shipping minimum. This tactic has been shown to increase the average order value, which will help to offset the increased cost in shipping. This strategy will also pass along the cost of shipping directly to your customers if their order fails to reach the minimum threshold.

    Flat Rate

    If you offer Flat Rate Shipping here are some options available to you:

    You could just do nothing – Same as with Free Shipping, if you choose to do nothing then you’ll have to eat the cost yourself. Confirm this plan’s sustainability and long term functionality. 

    Adjust or introduce Order Value Ranges – There’s no rule that says your flat rates need to be the same for every order. Consider offering a higher flat rate on smaller orders and lower flat rates as orders and cart sizes increase. This will help off-set the increase in shipping costs. 

    Increase product prices – If you increase your products’ prices by the same percentage as these shipping increases you will maintain your magins. Although, your repeat and loyal customers may notice an increase in price, which could lead to an impact in their purchase frequency. 

    Increase Flat Rate Shipping – This increase may lead to similar results as an increase in product prices and it may impact your abandoned cart rates as customers will see this charge later on in the sales process. Consider altering the messaging and frequency of your Cart Abandonment emails if this is the path you choose.

    Calculated Shipping Rate

    If you offer Calculated Shipping here are some options available to you:

    You could just do nothing – If you use a calculated rates provider or app and you choose to do nothing then these new charges will be automatically updated as soon as they are implemented. 

    Decrease Product Price – Since your shipping rates are going to be automatically updated via your carrier extensions and applications a decrease in product price is an option. Once again, ensure that your margins are sustainable and pricing remains consistent and strategically in-line with the rest of your product line and your competitors.

    Adjust for 2022 and beyond

    While your current 2022 budget may need to be adjusted to account for some of these new charges, this might be a blessing in disguise. You could use this opportunity to rethink your entire shipping strategy from the ground up. If none of your calculations hit on your target margin, pricing strategy or shipping rate then it is time to go back to the drawing board. The team here at InteractOne is experienced and knowledgeable and ready to help craft a shipping strategy that works for you and your plans.

    Supply Chain Strain – Solutions for your Business 🚚🚢 🎁

    Supply Chain Strain – Solutions for your Business 🚚🚢 🎁

    We all remember the early days of the pandemic when toilet paper was the scarce commodity, but now the world seems like it is running out of everything from computer chips to ketchup. To make matters worse, an unprecedented labor shortage has left business owners bracing for a holiday season in which demand is likely to overwhelm resources.

    Unfortunately, it’s clear that the supply chain disruption plaguing the American economy is not a short-term crisis. While you can’t fix the broken supply chain, you’ll need to steer your business through this crisis and be able to explain delays to your customers when necessary. To do so, it’s important to understand what’s behind any and all supply chain disruptions.

    In this blog, we will highlight some of these disruptions and help you be better prepared to keep your business thriving – sometimes without a fair warning.

    What is supply chain management?

    The supply chain is the journey products take from where they’re mined, grown, or otherwise made all the way to their eventual destinations in the hands of consumers.

    Supply chains are made up of so-called “nodes” and “links.” Nodes are stops a material or product makes along the way, like at a factory, port, warehouse, or retail store. A link, on the other hand, is the time material or product spends in transit between nodes—usually on a cargo ship, train, freight aircraft, or semi-truck. If all of that seemed confusing to you then this video might help.

    Supply chain disruption root causes:

    Shortages for a number of goods have been a hallmark of the pandemic-induced recession and recovery; which is why it is so important, as a business, to understand what is driving these issues and if there is a way for you to fix them. As we look at the causes of supply chain disruptions, we find some intertwined factors leading to the disruptions and delays your company and customers might be experiencing:

    • The pandemic: The pandemic is the overarching reason for supply chain disruptions. Outbreaks and lockdowns limited productivity in factories and the transportation of goods around the world. At the same time, consumer demand for certain products has increased dramatically as many people have more disposable income and spend more time at home.
    • Just-in-time (JIT) manufacturing: The JIT manufacturing model serves to meet demand instead of creating a surplus before an item is needed. While it can lead to cost savings and reduced waste, the practice also means manufacturers don’t keep extra supplies on hand. As a result, the delay of a single component can stall an entire production line—such as when, earlier this year, Ford had lots filled with nearly complete trucks awaiting semiconductors.
    • Lack of shipping containers: Increased demand and a limited supply have led to a shipping container shortage and a big jump in associated costs. Partially, this is because PPE supplies were shipped to parts of the world that don’t have many exports, and the containers were left there, sitting empty. The Independent Commodity Intelligence Services reports that it cost $20,000 to ship a 40-foot container from Asia to the U.S. in September 2021, up from $4,500 the previous year.
    • Staffing shortages: According to the U.S. Department of Labor, 4.3 million Americans quit their jobs in August 2021 and an additional 4.4 million quit in September. If you’re a small business owner, you’ve likely felt the strain yourself—workers are not easy to come by or retain. Notably, there’s been a multi-year shortage of truck drivers in the U.S. Though there’s a massive push underway to recruit truck drivers, people can’t learn to drive 18 wheelers overnight. The same goes for operating a crane, especially when shipping containers are stacked high and accessing the right one means playing a high-stakes game of Jenga. Major ports like the Port of Los Angeles and the Port of Long Beach will soon be operating 24/7, but that won’t help unclog the traffic jam if the truck driver shortage persists.
    • Overwhelmed docks: Increased activity and worker shortages are also leading to delays at U.S. ports. According to NPR, 52 cargo ships were waiting off the coast of Los Angeles one day in late October. Off the Port of Savannah, The New York Times reported that cargo ships were anchored up to 17 miles off the coast, waiting at times more than 9 days for their turn to dock and unload their shipping containers. While some of these ports are setting records for volume coming in,  it may still take weeks (instead of days) for containers to be picked up by a truck—which only adds to delivery delays and a shortage of available shipping containers

    Plan ahead for a brighter future

    In some dire or unexpected scenarios, operations may come to a halt, but even in these instances, preparation can make all the difference in how quickly a business can repair supply chain issues. Below are some tactics you can start implementing as early as today:

    Create a supply chain emergency plan: Just as it is wise to have a go-bag at home in case of emergency, a family plan in case of fire, and a winter supplies bag in the car for icy situations, it is equally wise to maintain an up-to-date supply chain emergency plan. This can include an emergency budget for use in the face of disruptions alongside plans around how to move goods around, maintain supplies, and continue operations in the face of different types of supply chain problems. 

    Build up inventory, when possible: If your business relies heavily on certain inventory to continue operations, consider stockpiling essential supplies so that your business could weather disruption that endures for several months. 

    Conduct a supply chain vulnerability audit: Risk analysis is a good way to spot weak links in a supply chain and it is something businesses should engage in seriously and regularly. Armed with information, finding replacements becomes a more straightforward task in terms of priority. 

    Identify backup suppliers: This is not always a viable option given where your products are coming from and what they are, but are there other suppliers that could provide the products needed to continue business if a go-to supplier is not able to fulfill supply needs. One important factor to consider when seeking out backup suppliers is their geographic location. For example, if your original supplier is hit with a natural disaster or similar issue, having suppliers who are further away from the event site can help guarantee continued supply.

    Diversify supply base: As mentioned above, diversification of suppliers helps mitigate risk just as a diversified investment portfolio does. Geographic diversification is critical, but another important factor to consider is further up the supply chain. Even if three of your suppliers are in different areas, they may share a supplier amongst them which could leave all three in the wake of disruption. Diversify in as many areas as possible and begin to build relationships with these suppliers well ahead of potential disruptions. 

    Looking at the bigger picture and not focusing solely on short-term issues, such as meeting the upcoming holiday season demand will help your business in the long run.

    Bringing it all together

    Although you can prepare on some level, there’s no true silver bullet solution for the supply chain woes. The only thing that fixes this is time. While you might be waiting for the supply chain disruptions to unsnarl and catch up, the name of the game will be survival. This will be especially true during the holiday season when big box stores are likely to have much more inventory than small businesses.  And it means that you will need to get creative, sourcing products and goods locally as often as possible and finding ways to repurpose existing inventory. Customers who care about shopping locally will make every effort to support mom and pop, but it will be vital for small business owners to communicate clearly with their customer base, explaining delays and offering frequent updates.

    Need help giving your business every available opportunity to see optimal growth by getting ahead of some of these disruptions as much as you can? Contact one of our experts today.

    The October 2021 Orange Report

    The October 2021 Orange Report

    October 2021 ORANGE REPORT

    The October 2021 Orange Report features our best & most recent blogs and guides on Magento, Big Commerce, eCommerce, and Digital Marketing.

    Conjure Sales & Build Trust – The Magic of Mobile Marketing

    In Part 1 of our Mobile series you’ll learn the benefits and best practices of SMS mobile marketing, including how to stay compliant with examples of customer texting done well.

    Video Case Study: Automotive Aftermarket

    See for yourself how InteractOne migrated an Automotive Aftermarket website from Volusion to Magento 2 and improved mobile-responsiveness and functionality.

    How to Run a Successful Mobile Marketing Campaign

    In Part 2 of our Mobile series we’ll provide some great examples of mobile messages to send to your customers including special promotions, mobile coupons and encouragements.

    Apple’s iOS15: One person’s privacy is another’s marketing strategy

    Privacy concerns for users are real, and Apple is about to strike a blow in how business is done that could change the marketing landscape in a major way.

    How to Run a Successful Mobile Marketing Campaign

    How to Run a Successful Mobile Marketing Campaign

    SMS Marketing has become an incredibly powerful marketing channel for retailers and it is precisely what it sounds like – a way to connect with customers at every stage of their purchasing journey using text messages.

    Retailers can use texting to send customers special promotions, mobile coupons, announce a special or event or simply encourage them to come back to your store. 

    In our previous blog, Conjure Sales & Build Trust – The Magic of Mobile Marketing, we addressed some benefits and best practices of SMS marketing for retailers, including how to stay compliant. As a follow-up to that article, we will outline how to run a successful campaign and provide some examples of customer texting done well in this blog.

    How to run a successful SMS campaign

    Starting an SMS marketing campaign is not just a matter of deciding you want to get into this type of marketing. These campaigns require thought and attention to yield amazing results. Follow these best practices to get the most out of your next SMS marketing campaign to boost sales.

    • Get permission: Encourage people to sign up for your campaign with reminder prompts, just ensure you ask for permission separately from email marketing requests.
    • Keep it to the point: All of your SMS messages should stay under 160 characters as additional characters will be automatically cut off. Try AB testing to find the right mix of messaging and see what works best for your audience, but be concise. For example, do your customers like emojis, or do they find them annoying? Do they respond well when you include their first name? If so, try pairing personalization with a unique offer linked to a landing page and see if your conversion rates increase. If on the other hand, you do not see conversion rates increase, try another format until you get it right.
    • Start a drip campaign: Drip campaigns are a form of marketing automation where pre-made messages are fired at specific customers when they meet your defined parameters. For example, if a customer has been subscribed to you for six months, an automated message with a special deal could be used to reward them. These types of campaigns are simple to set up and require almost no ongoing maintenance, so it’s a great way to bring automation into your business and a first step at creating a good customer experience for your customers.
    • Get a short code for mass text messaging campaigns.
    • Stay professional, respectful, clear, and on-brand.
    • Make it clear exactly how your shoppers can benefit from your offer.

    How to stay compliant

    Once you tackle getting your SMS marketing automation in place and building up your list of subscribers you can start to focus on the type of campaigns you want to run. Below are a few common SMS campaigns to get you started.

    Welcome your newest shoppers with a quick text. Typically, these should also include a promotion or coupon intended to encourage the shopper to return soon.

    Customer service follow-up: this might be the safest and most direct way to integrate SMS marketing into your plans. It gives you the chance to check in on a recent experience or purchase to see how the customer is doing while also providing them the space to address any issues that they may have with a purchase before they take it to a review site or simply abandon shopping with you altogether. It also gives your customers the chance to select if they would like to receive SMS updates on their order once completed. When customers opt-in to receive fulfillment text messages, you can continue to upsell to boost conversions and bring in more sales, just keep it consistent and do not overdo it.

    Product updates: Send shoppers updates about your most popular products or new items you have in stock. Add some urgency and combine these with promotions.

    Loyalty notifications: Merge your SMS marketing with your loyalty program. This gives you the ability to notify shoppers when they earn points, redeem points, or provide exclusive benefits like flash sales, member-only events, and special offers. It also creates a sense of belonging and special treatment which means subscribers are more likely to come back to your store and make a purchase.

    Personalized notes: Your SMS marketing campaign can also nurture existing client relationships by offering your shoppers personalized notes about birthdays, anniversaries, etc.

    Bringing it all together

    If you are looking to expand your market share while also offering your customers a faster and more secure way to receive updates about your products and events immediately, SMS marketing could be the answer you are looking for.

    Keeping up-to-date with this trend will help you to adapt your eCommerce strategy quickly and get ahead of the competition. Ready to take the next step to grow your business efficiently and cost-effectively? Connect with one of our experts today to discuss your needs!

    Get in Touch

    Connect with one of our experts today to discuss your eCommerce needs!

    Contact Us
    Conjure Sales & Build Trust – The Magic of Mobile Marketing

    Conjure Sales & Build Trust – The Magic of Mobile Marketing

    It’s no secret that developing relationships with your customers takes a lot of work. If you want to reach them, you can’t simply just wait for them to come to you – you have to be proactive and go where they are. We are not suggesting that you start going door to door to all of your prospective customers – that would be madness, but you could implement the next best marketing tactic out there – send them a text.

    Whether you own a clothing business, a small boutique, or sell products of any kind, sending your customers a text through SMS marketing is a great way to attract and connect with customers while standing out from your competition. The one thing to keep in mind though is not to overdo it. And you must ensure to strike the right balance and tone of voice when sending prospects a text.

    In this blog, we will outline the benefits and best practices of SMS marketing for retailers, including how to stay compliant with examples of customer texting done well.

    What is SMS marketing?

    Short Message Service (SMS) Marketing uses permission-based mass text for promotional campaigns or transactional messages. These messages are designed to communicate time-sensitive offers, updates, and alerts to existing and potential customers, locally and internationally, who have consented to receive these messages from your business. These messages appear on your customers’ phones within seconds. Depending on the user’s mobile phone settings, they may receive a push notification as soon as your message is delivered. 

    It is important to note that there are different types of SMS marketing that retailers can consider. These include mass texting for campaigns and transactional texting.

    • Campaign SMS – focus on reaching a mass audience with a single message. They come in the form of promotions, updates, alerts, coupons, tickets, surveys, polls, event invitations, and so on. These are a staple in mobile advertising
    • Transactional SMS –  “one-to-one” messages that are triggered by a certain event or behavior from your customer. An example of this would be an order confirmation or shipping notification for a purchase on your website and/or to communicate relevant and timely information to an individual.

    How to stay compliant

    It can be frustrating for businesses and marketers alike to spend time and effort collecting cell phone numbers with the hopes of sending them text messages only to find out that the way they went about collecting their data is not ‘carrier compliant’ or compliant with the new Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) guidelines.

    Why is it so important for retailers to remain compliant? Because breaking the rules can cost you up to $1,500 a message. This is one of the main reasons a lot of business owners have shied away from SMS marketing and although SMS does perhaps seem more intrusive than other common marketing channels, it’s no more regulated or difficult to navigate or comply with. Still, there are certain laws and regulations that businesses must follow to avoid costly fines and penalties. Let’s outline some of them below: 

    Make sure your contacts have opted in to SMS: receiving permission from your contacts to send them SMS messages is the most important rule to remember. SMS has an extremely high open rate, but this won’t help you if you’re sending messages to people who don’t want them or who have never asked for them. And it’s important to note that consumers have to opt-in to SMS separately from email subscriptions.  So, you should always  try to get email addresses when asking customers for phone numbers for SMS. This way, if they unsubscribe from text messages, you’ll still be able to communicate with them via email campaigns. 

    Be mindful of the timing of your messages: Unlike email, which is only checked a few times daily (at most), people open text messages almost immediately. This is great for urgent messages, such as tracking information about a customer’s order or a limited-time offer that expires soon, but you don’t want to abuse this power by disturbing contacts at odd hours in the day. For instance, is your customer running out to use a coupon that just woke them up at 2 a.m. on a Wednesday? Most likely not. In fact, this would not only get you removed from a prospect’s ‘mailing list’, but it would also likely earn you a very unpleasant communication from an unhappy person. In addition, if your business is international in its scope, some countries have laws about when you can send marketing text messages (e.g. France does not allow SMS marketing on Sundays, holidays, or anytime after 10 PM) and the United States does not allow texts between 9 p.m. and 8 a.m. in the recipients’ time zone as they are considered “quiet hours.”

    Include your company’s name in your SMS: When sending bulk SMS messages, most providers send them through a shortcode, which means your contacts won’t know it is coming from you. Therefore, it is important to not only mention your company but to explain to your customers what types of messages they will receive and give them an option to opt-out, if they choose to do so. 

    Failure to follow these guidelines can lead to not only fines, as mentioned above, but consumer complaints and messages getting flagged as spam. Telecom companies can also audit you or cut off your messaging campaigns entirely. 

    The benefits of incorporating SMS marketing into your business plans

    Using text marketing has many benefits as it allows you to reach your audience via a device they are already using rather than making them go outside their comfort zone to read a billboard, poster, or even email. Here are some benefits of SMS marketing to consider:

    • Provide best-in-class customer service: retailers can use SMS to respond to customer service questions to drive more revenue. Many apps can be integrated into your campaign to assist with this, such as WeSupplyLabs and DotDigital, to not only help improve your workflow but also form a two-way conversation with your customers to make the return or order tracking process easy and build brand loyalty if the experience is effortless for them.
    • Enter an unsaturated market: According to MobileMonkey, about 61% of marketers still don’t use SMS as a form of marketing, so being an early adopter can help you gain a competitive advantage in customer service and engagement.
    • Increase your open rates:  This is one of the key benefits of text marketing. Compared to other digital marketing techniques like email newsletters, SMS offers have a much higher open rate. For instance, SMS open rates are 98% when compared to 20% for email, at best. And unlike email campaigns, SMS messages have zero bounces because even when a user’s mobile phone is turned off, they’ll still receive your text.
    • Lower your advertising budget: Traditional forms of advertising like print ads, TV and radio tend to be expensive and their effectiveness is difficult to quantify as there is no way to truly pull statistics. SMS marketing is less expensive and offers full reporting capabilities to understand click-through rates, conversion rates, and more.
    • Segmentation made easy: An SMS campaign needs to have its target audience. Therefore, to get the proper demographics, businesses perform market segmentation which increases the effectiveness of each of their campaigns. Proper targeting and segmentation also ensure that you are sending tailored messages to the right recipients. Five segmentation categories you can consider include location, customer behavior, SMS engagement, order information, and customer attributes. Analyzing this information can help inform you what and when to send your customers text messages.
    • Complements Other Marketing Channels: SMS isn’t meant to replace all other marketing efforts – it’s the perfect companion to other marketing channels, especially for updates post-sale.
    • Meet newer generations where they are at: A large demographic of consumers have abandoned email and have turned to text messages. Show your client list that you are keeping up with the technology by sending targeted promotions via text. It will give your company a head start in winning the battle for the next generation of shoppers. This can be a great strategy for smaller businesses that are looking to create a buzz locally.

    Bringing it all together

    Check back for Part II where we will dive deeper on how to build a successful SMS campaign with plenty of examples.

    If you’re interested in making the most of your marketing efforts and expanding with new opportunities hit the link below and contact us today.

    Get in Touch

    Connect with one of our experts today to discuss your eCommerce needs!

    Contact Us
    Video Case Study: Automotive Aftermarket

    Video Case Study: Automotive Aftermarket

    Our automotive client’s original Volusion website was showing its age, lacking in mobile-friendly responsiveness, limited design and functionality. The client tasked InteractOne with migrating their Volusion site to Magento 2. This migration included a new responsive design with custom development of a vehicle parts lookup (year, make, model) and lighting application guide, including the ability to save a vehicle in account information. In this Case Study video we’ll be taking a deeper look at the features and functionality the InteractOne team brought to the client’s webstore and how they create a greater Customer Experience that keeps visitors engaged and shopping.

    Get in Touch

    Connect with one of our experts today to discuss your eCommerce needs!

    Contact Us
    Building a successful holiday pop-up shop 🎄💰

    Building a successful holiday pop-up shop 🎄💰

    If you’re cursing yourself for not planning something sooner, don’t give up just yet—there’s still plenty of time to pull off an unforgettable seasonal retail experience by hosting a pop-up store. For those retailers who might be skeptical about opening a holiday pop-up store as they see it as an unnecessary cost, some see it as an opportunity to increase their bottom line with limited resources. 

    According to the National Retail Federation, the holiday season can account for as much as 30 percent of a retailer’s annual sales. While some consumers may roll their eyes at the holiday season-themed products lining retailers’ shelves as early as late August, the practice of setting up shop early is a great practice to put into place. 

    We believe that low-budget, short-term, quick-install pop-ups are set to surge in the coming months. To help you plan, in this blog we will take a look at the pop-up shop, from cost to marketing strategies. Plus, we’ll share examples of brands leading the charge in trending pop-up experiences in a post-pandemic world.

    What is a holiday pop-up shop?

    Holiday pop-ups provide an ideal opportunity for digitally native brands or companies considering a new location. They can look like a regular store, however, many brands use them to create a unique, engaging physical shopping experience. They can also appear just about anywhere – at a holiday or farmers market, in a local shopping mall, within another retail business’ brick and mortar location, or even as a mobile setting, like a food truck. And they don’t necessarily have to sell traditional products either. A pop-up can sell food, drinks, services, even hospitality like Taco Bell has done in previous years. They’re typically put up as a way to test out a new idea or location, or generate buzz for a business with customers in real-time during the busy holiday shopping months. 

    Hosting a holiday pop-up shop is also a great way to penetrate a new market or neighborhood where your target market lives or hangs out while keeping your costs down. Plus, you get the chance to introduce your brand to more people, which, in turn, builds brand awareness that extends well beyond the holidays. In fact, research from Business Insider shows that pop-up shops have historically helped retailers improve market visibility by 51% and increase sales by almost 50%. 

    There are a lot of great pop-up examples. Here are a few notable companies that have found success hosting a pop-up shop. ​​Taylor Morgan, a California-based jewelry brand, hosted a pop-up at a local West Elm store to help its products reach new potential customers.

    eBay has utilized a pop-up model to bring certain products to consumers in a retail setting during the holiday shopping season.

    Birchbox, the popular beauty subscription box, offered a special line of gifts for men, via a holiday pop-up shop in New York.

    American Girl only has a few store locations around the country. So to bring its products to even more customers, it sets up temporary mall locations periodically, especially around the holidays to increase sales and reach a wider audience.

    Reasons to open or not to open a holiday pop-up shop:

    Opening up a holiday pop-up shop is your opportunity to get your products in front of more consumers who are actively buying. Even when you close your temporary location, past customers will remember your brand and as long as they have a good experience are more than likely to visit your permanent store or website. Some other reasons why hosting a pop-up this holiday might be the right move for you include: 

    Test a new stream of revenue: Perhaps you want to expand but are hesitant to commit to leasing a new storefront. Your pop-up can be the tactic used to gauge the demand for your products in a particular location. Depending on sales volume, once you close up shop you can begin to determine if opening a permanent store is a sound investment or if you need to revisit the drawing board. 

    Test a new product: If you are considering launching a new product line, approach your pop-up as a chance to collect real-time feedback and other valuable insights into how your product and your marketing efforts perform with customers in the wild. A pop-up store is also particularly helpful if you want to test out the waters in a new market or gauge reactions to a product before investing more resources.

    Boost sales and gain an uptick in customer traffic: Perhaps the most enticing reason to consider a holiday pop-up shop is to increase sales. The temporary get-it-before-it’s-gone state of pop-ups naturally creates a sense of urgency amongst shoppers. To create this sense of urgency, let your customers know when your pop-up begins and ends as well as letting them know there is limited inventory and once you’re out, you close up shop. Not only will consumers feel compelled to buy before your shop is gone forever, but they’re also more likely to have a deadline of their own urging them to buy now. 

    Liquidate inventory: Most retailers do not want to begin the new year with a surplus of seasonal items or outdated inventory as the deadstock can add to your operating expenses and crowd storage rooms. Use your holiday pop-up shop as a chance to sell your products at a discounted price, such as out-of-season items or older models.

    Test new marketing promotional strategies: ‘Tis the season for sales. The holidays are an excellent time to take new promotional strategies out for a spin and see how they drive. For instance, try discounting a product for a limited time, offer a flash sale for users who post about your brand on social media, or bundle your merchandise together to evoke a perceived higher value at a lower cost. Many omnichannel retailers also offer an exclusive discount that shoppers can use online, which creates an incentive for them to engage with your brand after your pop-up store closes.

    The work doesn’t stop once you close the doors on your holiday pop-up. Not only is it important to analyze your sales performance on the overall success of your pop-up, it is also important to get feedback from your customers to help you plan better moving forward.

    Where to start:

    If you want to capitalize on the surge in demand the holiday shopping brings, now’s the time to start. Here are some useful tips to get you up and running. 

    Find the right location: In order to host a holiday pop-up, you need a space. Without physical space, you can’t do much. Start by familiarizing yourself with the spaces available to you, such as a kiosk at the mall, a local farmer’s market, a mobile truck, or working on a partnership with another local business that has a brick and mortar so you can act on a pop-up opportunity as soon as it comes available. Also, don’t forget about unconventional spaces — like an empty room of an old factory building — and be open to the potential of an otherwise hidden gem just waiting to be filled with your brand fans. Once a space becomes available whether doing it on your own or partnering with another business – book it because every other decision you need to make about your pop-up will be informed by the space from the location to the size, capacity, and even the price.

    Decide how you want to market your pop-up: Once you decide on your location, it’s time to start thinking about how you want to market to existing and prospective customers. Some ideas to help get you started are: spreading the word on social media, teaming up with other local brands by collaborating on discounts and promotions to cross-pollinate each other’s audiences, partnering with local news outlets, put up a catchy sidewalk sign, ask brand loyalists or local influencers to get involved to help build trust with your brand and send a newsletter or SMS to customers you have emails and phone numbers for. 

    Focus on a small inventory to sell and how to lay it out/design: The PopUp Republic found that 61% of shoppers visit pop-up shops in the mall for seasonal items during the holidays. Even if you don’t sell common items like wreaths, cookies, or other themed goods, you can still join in on the seasonal rush of sales and implement a limited selection of holiday-themed items customers will want to buy. Consider bundling the products that best represent your brand into baskets or packages making it easy for shoppers to imagine themselves giving them as a gift. For instance, if you sell nostalgia gifts and you notice your puzzles are flying off the shelves and your stuffed animals are still sitting there, pair them together as a set at a lower price. Through these bundles, you can sell every day, as well as out-of-season items, that might not sell as well individually.

    Another thing to consider when deciding what inventory to sell at your pop-up shop is the cost associated with the products. If you’re eager to reach the most customers and spread awareness about your brand—and clear out your seasonal inventory—choose products to sell at affordable price points that spark impulse buying. For instance, if you are selling wreaths, you want to tap into the urgency that the holiday shopping season brings and convert browsers into buyers by giving them a reason to pick your wreath over one they can buy from a big-box retailer like Michael’s or Hobby Lobby. One avenue to consider is to incorporate a buy-one-get-one (BOGO) promotion where you throw in a lower-priced item as a gift with a purchase to make a higher-priced product a little more attractive.

    Set a budget and stick with it: If you have a business that is already operational, this might be the easiest task yet to get started. Planning your budget for a holiday pop-up shop is no different than any financial decisions you make for the sake of your company. Some things you need to consider include:

    • Cost of renting a space, utilities, furniture, lighting, and product displays
    • Merchandising, such as tablecloths and signage
    • Cost of inventory
    • Marketing and promotions
    • Checkout, including point of sales and credit card fees
    • Insurance, depending on the size of your pop-up shop and how long it’s running

    Set the experience: According to Bazaarvoice, Inc., 42% of consumers choose to shop at stores that have festive environments so take this as your opportunity to get shoppers into the holiday spirit by creating a fun-filled experience at your holiday pop-up. Fun decorating ideas for your store might include:

    • Setting up holiday-related decorations: Choose a corner of your pop-up to display a Christmas or Kwanzaa cherry tree, presents, kinara, or menorah. You can even put your own products under the tree to show customers how they will look as gifts! 
    • Hanging lights and snowflakes: No matter where your store is located, create a winter wonderland that immerses customers in the holiday season.
    • Covering the ground and shelves in fake snow: If you only want to add a light touch to your store, white stuffing and glitter can help set the mood.
    • Make sure you aren’t just representing Christmas, but all holidays with your decorations.

    Once your decorations are in place, choose a festive playlist to inspire shoppers. Research shows that music can affect shopping behaviors, specifically how long guests stay at your store and how much they spend. If you want to make more sales, don’t play your music too loud and choose stores that have a slower tempo. Chanel is a great example of someone who has set a customer experience and then some. Every year from December 12-15, they create a stylish, festive winter wonderland within New York City’s Standard Hotel, dubbing its pop-up shop, “Chanel No.5 in the Snow.” Open to the public, anyone who visits the pop-up shop can enjoy ice skating, hot cocoa, delicious food, and the chance to fully immerse themselves in a beautiful setting fit for their latest social media post.

    Remember, this is a temporary store. So, to alleviate the headache of having to find storage space once you close up your holiday pop-up shop, rent any furniture and displays you might need instead of buying them outright. Also, be cognizant of space and keep things simple. For instance, if you do not have much room to work with you don’t want to overcrowd the space with large displays or tons of products which might just overwhelm your customers or only allow a few in the store at a set time. Try to use items that can serve two purposes, such as bookshelves that are aesthetically pleasing and can hold small items for sale. 

    For more tips on setting the experience for your holiday pop-up shop check out this visual merchandising guide to encourage your customers to interact with your products and maximize sales.

    Bringing it all together

    Interested in testing out a retail presence for your business, or are you interested in additional revenue streams? Connect with one of our experts today to discuss your needs further!

    Get in Touch

    Connect with one of our experts today to discuss your eCommerce needs!

    Contact Us
    Apple’s iOS15: privacy & marketing strategy

    Apple’s iOS15: privacy & marketing strategy

    Apple’s iOS15 Update: One man’s privacy is another’s marketing strategy.

    That’s a cold, hard fact in the digital age for those engaging in eCommerce. Tracking, the electronic following of activity by those who have engaged with your brand, has become such a norm in how commercial ecommerce activity operates that companies hardly bat an eye over engaging in it at this point.

    But privacy concerns for users are real, and Apple is about to strike a blow in how business is done that could change the marketing landscape in a major way.

    Apple’s new releases this fall on its Mail app on iOS 15, iPadOS 15, and macOS Monterey devices will offer a Mail Privacy Function. According to a recent report 13.3% of respondents said they used the Mail app to open and read their personal emails. With a flip of a switch, tracking the activity of these users without their permission becomes virtually impossible. As they so often do, Apple has highlighted their commitment to innovation in this area with a humorous and engaging commercial. The introduction of such functionality could be the most substantive move yet in giving consumers control over who collects their data, but it surely won’t be the last.

    Let’s look at what is ahead with these changes and what strategies you can consider for your eCommerce marketing so you can adapt.

    Anti-Tracking and iOS15

    A bedrock tool in digital marketing that involves tracking is the inclusion of an invisible pixel in email that is accessed by consumers. With the Mail Privacy Function in iOS15, those who open emails will determine whether that tracking data should be shared back to the source. Information like whether you opened an email, how many times it was viewed and if it was forwarded will no longer be available from any readers who choose to block them.

    The Mail Privacy Function also will block the email receiver’s IP address, so digital marketing strategies that rely on mining information that way to discern the user’s location and online activities are also going to be shut out.

    Another Apple innovation that is going to throw a wrinkle into established marketing tactics is an option known as Hide My Email. Users will have the capability to have Apple create an artificially-generated email address when they do things like make a purchase. That new email address will then forward to the user’s actual email, keeping knowledge of that email address away from eCommerce companies and others who would want to use it for marketing purposes.

    Measures such as these that are coming with iOS15 are going to require an adjustment in tactics for those who have built their marketing around gathering intelligence about customers through these channels.

    Preparing for Change

    So, with these changes in the offing, what can you do to keep your eCommerce marketing efforts moving forward? A great place to start is making sure your fundamentals are in order so that you aren’t causing yourself difficulties in places that ought to still be strengths. It’s unlikely  that there will be a magic bullet approach for dealing with the changes that Apple is introducing into the market.

    One good thing you can do immediately is making sure your email lists are as clean as you can make them. Don’t clutter your marketing efforts by allowing bad information in from the start. You want your marketing hitting with people who already are customers or who have shown very strong signs that they could be customers.

    Another route you can take to strengthen your marketing results is moving from an approach  less reliant on email tracking to one with a more engaged approach. If you aren’t already doing it, try introducing pop-up windows on your site for visitors who may be willing to share their information because they are finding your product offerings and/or blog/articles content attractive to their desires. This kind of first-level information is always going to be better than the results you see from a tactic like tracking because you will know the user is open to receiving information and updates from you. You also have some advantage that can be used in setting up effective pop-ups in that you know what channel has brought the visitor to your site in the first place. Use that information to inform the tone and character of the pop-up you are asking the visitor to respond to.

    How closely are you looking at how you communicate with your customers? People are savvy enough to know when they are being targeted by mass marketing, and are less likely to respond. By improved analysis of your market segmentation, you can create messaging that feels more personal to the target, thus increasing the chances they will be willing to respond. Apple’s efforts are meant to cut out involuntary marketing activity that potential customers are being subjected to. A great counter-strategy for you to consider in light of this is using what you do know about proven customers to create messaging to which you strongly believe they are going to be receptive.

    Additional Steps to Try

    The changes from iOS15 will have impacts on how you market beyond what is first apparent when you initially think about this subject. Consider, for instance, your email funnels. These funnels operate on a series of interrelated decisions involving the monitoring of how targets are responding to previous emails. If Apple’s new tactics are telling you that a prospect isn’t engaged with one of your emails when in fact the opposite is true, that is going to throw a major wrench in how your email funnel is supposed to work.

    If your marketing falls utilizes these techniques, you are going to need to consider reconstructing the rules that your email funnels use for their internal decision-making.

    Related to this type of approach, the need to rely more heavily than ever on testing is made apparent by this change in the market. Even with these new developments you are not going to abandon email marketing at this point. Even if Apple’s tactics are taking a segment of your customers out of the data you are making evaluations from when you test subject lines or send times, you are still going to see valid results from trends in the market overall from non-Apple users and those Apple users who aren’t using the new privacy software.

    Your overall open rates and other metrics may go down from an impact from these new factors, but it doesn’t mean you can’t still effectively identify those email marketing practices that are performing best for your business, and that is still important information to operate from in figuring out your best strategies.

    Conclusion

    Users like the idea of having their data protected. Apple isn’t the only company working to roll out solutions on this front. Staying on top of these developments will require diligence.

    What goes on in this space of the marketing world is a conversation that is just taking off. It’s going to be worthwhile for you as an eCommerce provider to stay on top of this topic and adjust accordingly, as it has the potential to significantly impact future business results.

    Get in Touch

    Connect with one of our experts today to discuss your eCommerce needs!

    Contact Us
    UPDATED for 2021: How to Prep Magento for Peak Performance during the Holidays

    UPDATED for 2021: How to Prep Magento for Peak Performance during the Holidays

    Summer is flying by and it’s time to plan for the holiday shopping rush. As experienced Magento developers, we are very familiar with merchants turning to us for direction and help with how to get their sites ready for the holiday season. We’ve seen merchants experience 2/3 more traffic or process double (or triple) the number of transactions during November and December compared to the rest of the year.

    Notably, the Magento Business Intelligence group found that merchants acquire up to 59% more customers during the holidays compared to the rest of the year. That’s a lot of new site traffic. Can your Magento site handle that big of an uptick in new visitors? With nearly 60% more new customers preparing to visit your website in a couple months, it would be smart to run performance tests now. 

    Tip 1 – Page Load Speed Optimization

    %

    of shoppers expect a web page to load in 2 seconds or less.

    %

    of shoppers abandon websites that take more than 3 seconds to load.

    %

    of shoppers who are dissatisfied with website performance are less likely to buy from the same site again.

    Magento can be a very involved platform to work with. Most Magento instances are so customized that there is no other site exactly like another. That dynamic creates several potential points of failure if your code and server configuration are not optimized to work together. Module conflicts, unoptimized CSS/JS, and any potential server-side issues need to be identified and resolved. Unresolved code issues can cause major page speed performance issues and become detrimental during an otherwise very profitable time of the year.

    If your site shows signs of performance issues and slow load times now, how will it perform during peak traffic times come November? It’s critical to perform site load tests before the real traffic influx begins. Contact your hosting company before performing any tests and work with them and your development team to identify any possible issues with server resources. 

    It’s also important to note that page load times and user engagement metrics contribute to your PPC quality score. Those holiday PPC campaigns could take a hit if load times are poor. Key engagement metrics to monitor are bounce rate, time on page, time on site, and pages/session. A fast site will also help your PPC cost-per-click and impressions. In addition, we’ve also seen load times have a positive or a negative effect on SEO. Page load speed is critical across the board for the success of your site.

    Tip 2 – UX/UI Optimization

    Not only is site traffic at its peak during the holiday season, but customers’ tolerance and attention levels are low, as they tend to be in a hurry to complete their holiday shopping activities. Make your site easy to navigate and streamline the browsing experience for customers by removing conversion blockers. Bounce rates are naturally higher during the holidays as people quickly window shop and bargain hunt. Optimize poorly performing pages, ensure page load times are at their best, and keep your product offering up to date to avoid high bounce rates.

    A quick way to optimize under-performing landing pages is to identify your lowest bounce rate landing page(s) in Google Analytics. Analyze those lowest bounce rate pages and try to find ways to improve engagement across your site. Of course a more thorough review of your shopping experience (complete with A/B tests) would be the most beneficial for optimization. However, there are valuable opportunities available for improvement that can be discovered through a Google analytics review.

    The maintenance of products and pricing is also vital.

      • Keep catalog images, product descriptions, prices, inventory, and shipping rates clear and updated. 
      • Ensure your pricing is competitive. Have import/export templates set up so you can easily update pricing on the fly. That way, you’re not scrambling when a competitor suddenly has a flash sale. 
      • Make sure your strongest products (best selling, best price, or highest inventory) are easy to find for customers on your category and landing pages. 
      • In addition, make sure your upsell, cross sell and related products are all set up and relevant to each other.

    Don’t Ignore Mobile Traffic

    Magento can be a very involved platform to work with. Most Magento instances At least a third of your traffic during the holidays is going to be from mobile devices. Mobile sales will account for more than half in most retail industries. Perform a thorough, unbiased review of your mobile shopping experience from the homepage down through the checkout process. Remove any conversion blockers, consolidate any redundant pages or steps in the checkout. Do not mark any checkout fields as required unless they really are required. Finally, make sure chatbot and email sign-up pop-ups are disabled on mobile!

    Tip 3 – Security Optimization

    Site security is also critical for overall site performance during the holidays and always. If your Magento site isn’t upgraded to the latest version or is missing Security Patches, you are at risk for security issues. We’ve encountered several merchants over the last year or so who have ignored security or bug patches. Or, merchants have severely delayed the upgrading of their Magento sites. By ignoring Magento Security Patches or avoiding updates, merchants are opening themselves up to a much larger problem. Problems like legal indemnification since many maintain publicly that they are PCI compliant while leaving gaping security holes in their site’s infrastructure. 

    Beyond the cost and headache of what a data breach could do, merchants could lose a solid portion of customers. In fact, 31% of customers terminated their relationship with a targeted business after a breach was discovered. No merchant wants to be the next Target fail. Make sure your Magento site is upgraded or patched as soon as possible.

    Tip 4 – Review and Test

    It’s important to be proactive about performance testing to be prepared well in advance of holiday traffic. Merchants need to test the shopping experience on their site.  Be sure that the browsing process, shopping cart and checkout is a seamless experience for your customers.  

    Review your site analytics. Verify that key engagement metrics such as bounce rate, time on page, time on site, and pages/session are performing well. Look for dips in data and bottlenecks. Pull data from the prior holiday season. Review what issues you had and where your site could improve. In addition, note what worked well for your site and look for ways to improve based on positive metrics. Analyzing your own data can save a lot of time and solve a lot of puzzles when it comes to customer experience and site performance issues.

    Run perform load tests and user-based browsing tests to make sure your site is ready for any expected (and unexpected) traffic spikes. Performance tests and implementation can be a test and tune process. We’ve worked with merchants with complicated, and not so complicated, infrastructures. It can take time to locate the cause of issues and bottlenecks. Sometimes “simple” tasks can cause hiccups that take time to diagnose and find the ideal configuration. Performance tests need to be conducted long before the holidays to be successful and in place before the traffic picks up.

    Get started now – or very soon.

    If you are missing patches or haven’t reviewed your analytics in a while, don’t fret. Merchants still have time to get started on performance testing to get an idea of what they will need to have in place come October and November. Contact us to learn more about performance testing options or to get help with your UX/UI optimization. Or, give us a call to talk to a Magento expert: 513-469-3345.

    Get in Touch

    Connect with one of our experts today to discuss your eCommerce needs!

    Contact Us