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Link building is not the same as it used to be. Though your website’s SEO still very much depends on backlinks, there are several changes that have happened to link building post-Penguin. With every update, you need to keep up with the new expectations and know how to avoid dangerous blog links. First released on April 24, 2012, Google’s Penguin is a recent algorithm update that analyzes the quality of links pointing back to websites and penalizes those that indulge in any kind of link scheme or practices that they consider questionable or dangerous blog links.
Save yourself from dangerous blog links!
If you want to improve the SEO of your website or regain lost traffic due to a Penguin penalty, you should quickly understand the types of links that are harmful or dangerous and those that carry quality, even if you feel they are legitimate.
Given below are different types of dangerous blog links that you should always avoid while building links for your blog.
Swapped or Reciprocal Links
A few years ago, reciprocal linking was one of the most effective link building tactics to improve SEO. After Google released its Penguin update, however, reciprocal linking is no more acceptable. Instead, they’re now considered dangerous blog links. It’s only because most of the webmasters started to take advantage of the technique and manipulate this link building technique by swapping links in a large number. If you are planning or already building links through swapping links in bulk, you should avoid it right away. You may even get penalized if you’re doing it with the best intentions.
One of the most dangerous blog links that you should always avoid building is paid links. Whether you buy links or sell links, it’s a bad practice and should be avoided at all cost. Very recently, several UK news websites were penalized by Google only because they were selling links to pass PageRank. Paid links are always considered dangerous blog links.
You may be surprised to know that even directory links are on Google’s radar. But you shouldn’t worry as not every directory link is spammy. What you should actually avoid is mass-submitting to junk online directories. Google has already de-indexed those directors that nobody uses.
Even if you build links through directories, you should pick only the high quality ones and avoid automated or bulk submission, which make it look like you’re trying to index dangerous blog links.
Blog Network Links
Building links for your blog via link networks is also very dangerous. A few years ago, there were many systems that used to build links for websites or blogs through their own blog networks. After Google de-indexed many of these blog networks, this practice was tagged as black-hat. If you remember, Build My Rank (a popular blog network) tumbled down for the same reason. Blog network links are dangerous blog links.
Every blog belongs to a niche or industry. While building links for your blog, you should always keep your niche in mind. Many webmasters, in order to improve their SEO, would start acquiring backlinks from just any website regardless of the niche or industry they belong. This is unethical and dangerous. If you want your website safe from Penguin search penalty, you should never get links that are irrelevant or unrelated to your own niche.
Article Directory Links
Popular article directories like Ezine Articles, Article Base and Go Articles have lost their weight to a great extent. As people began to manipulate these article directories to build tons of links quickly, content farms were created. It’s due to this reason that Google degraded the search rankings of many popular article directory websites.
If you are using duplicate, spun or low quality articles and submitting them to article directories to build lots of links for your blog quickly, you should stop it without any delay or a penalty is just round the corner.
Whether it’s a website or blog, you should build links in a way that doesn’t violate the latest Google quality guidelines. Most importantly, you should make the process of link building look natural to search engines. If you manipulate link building, use spammy tactics or build links in an unnatural way, one search algorithmic update is enough to mark your website or blog for having dangerous blog links and send it’s rank down the gutter.
Finding your target audience is an important step in setting up an online store!
By the ZippyCart eCom team
May 29, 2013
Do you run an online store? Thinking about starting one up? Ok, great… who’s your target audience? Please don’t give an answer like ‘all age groups 18-55’. If your answer is something this vague, you may need help with How to Find the Target Audience for Your Online Store. You can’t target everyone. That would be an impossible task that requires too many marketing dollars. You need to define your audience and narrow it to your specific niche… that’s what we call finding your ‘target audience’.
It’s very important to find your target audience early in the game. No matter how well you’ve set up your store or how amazing your product is, you can’t sell effectively if you don’t know who your target audience is. There are many factors that play into finding you’re the buyers for your specific market. We mentioned age group earlier but here are a few more, of the dozens more to consider…
- Geographical Location
- Academic Qualification
- Technical Capability
- Family Size
I’m citing these essential factors to make you aware as to how the traits of a target audience may vary from one niche to another. The one major benefit of figuring out your target audience is to be able to focus your marketing dollars and sell your products to those people who are actually interested. You can’t sell everything to everyone… you’ll go broke with too broad of a marketing campaign.
There are several huge benefits in determining who the target audience for your online business actually is. When you know your target audience really well and understand how they may think, it’s easier to reach out to them and figure out which platforms are right for your sales efforts. Knowing your target market also helps build brand loyalty and an appealing online reputation. You’ll be able to reach out and socialize with them in a way that’s appropriate and fun… which also increases sales, in the long run.
These strategies will put you in a better position to showcase yourself as an expert. In turn, your target audience will be attracted to news and posts from experts in their field of interest.
When you want to figure out the target audience for your online store, one surefire way of getting started is to have a closer look at your current customers or the existing customer base of your established competitors. Your best customers or the core target audiences actually come from your existing customer base. Study them… get to know them. You can reach out to them via email, social media and online surveys among others. The more you study or analyze your current customers, the more knowledge you’ll again about the kind of audience that will benefit your online business the most.
With the results of this study, you can also create the profile of an idea customer for your online store. By knowing the persona of your ideal customer, you can build an image in your head. Whether it’s the content on your e-commerce website, your email newsletters, social media or your blog, you’ll be able to communicate with the specific group of people that constitutes the target audience for your online business. It’s then when you can create a highly focused marketing campaign to maximize conversions.
Don’t sell everything to everyone just because seems a lot easier. Find your target audience, and watch your loyalty and profits soar. After all, the easy path is not the right path, most of the time.
By the ZippyCart eCom team
May 7, 2013
Popular social media platforms like Facebook, Google+ and Twitter are growing their active users count by millions. The number of active users on Facebook has totaled up to 700 million while Google+ has 300 million of them. Twitter is also not far behind with around 200 million active users.
Certainly, social media is unavoidable!
As the owner of an online store or an e-commerce business, you too have a serious responsibility to leverage the potential of social media. By integrating social media into your overall marketing plan, you can quickly gain an extra edge over your rivals and make more profits. Fortunately, most of ZippyCart’s top ecommerce solutions software choices come along with built-in social media managers, making things easier for you. (Just check in on our shopping cart reviews for more info on that.)
But before you jump onto the social media bandwagon, you really need to know how you should go about using social media networks, what you should do and what you should avoid doing.
If you want to take your e-commerce business to the next level by using social media marketing to your benefits, given below are some of the most important do’s and don’ts to make yourself aware of.
- Do Have an Active Presence
Regular activity is the very first thing that you need to keep at the top of your mind. If you post updates to social media networks only when you want, appear for a week and then disappear for a long stretch of time, you are giving your target audience a good reason to throw you out of their minds. They’ll forget about you very soon. Your followers count will never increase.
Most of the e-commerce business owners think they don’t have enough to post to their company’s social media pages. Come on, a lot of things keep happening to your small business. If you get yourself a little creative, you’ll have lots of things to post, share or tweet about.
- Do Focus on Variety
‘Variety is the spice of life’ – this applies to your social media participation too. Your audience is certainly hungry for useful information and updates, but they appreciate variety more than anything else. So, remember to share links, pictures, infographics and videos among others.
- Do Listen More and More
To achieve success with social media as an e-commerce or online business owner, you also need to be an avid listener. Social media marketing is not for talking about yourself or your products without showing any concern about what your audience has to say. In fact, you should try to listen as much as possible to find opportunities you can use to your benefits.
- Don’t Oversell
Remember, the more you sell, the less you’ll sell. After all, social media is not for selling products or services directly. Social media marketing or participation is all about building relationships, engaging the target audience in conversations and creating advocates for your brand. Constant blatant promotion will not get you anywhere. If you are posting 10 updates in a day, for example, talk about your products just 1-2 times. No more than that!
- Don’t Forget to Respond!
As a smart e-commerce business owner, you should never make the mistake of overlooking people who take the time to converse with you. When people want to interact with you, it’s your opportunity to respond to what they are saying, showcase your expertise and establish relationships.
- Don’t Get Personal
While participating at social media, you’ll come across with different types of people and comments. Always bear in mind not to get too personal with anyone or share your personal beliefs on political or religious issues. By getting personal with these sensitive issues, you can easily harm your reputation.
Also, don’t get too heated, sarcastic or even affectionate in your responses to comments, reviews or online dialog. Remember that everything you or your employees say will reflect back on your company… and people will remember the ‘bad’ much longer!
With these tips and the built-in social media managers that are found in all of the ecommerce solutions software that are found in ZippyCart’s favorites and ecommerce platform reviews, you’ll be on your way to a balanced social media life in no time!
Blogging is a great, free way to attract traffic to your online business!
By the ZippyCart eCom team
May 1, 2013
There are many ways that you can attract traffic to your online store. What you need to figure out is… which are the most effective ways to generate more traffic from your niche market? Sure, building an attractive online store with a good e-commerce solution (aka shopping cart software) is the most essential first step in bringing traffic your way, but there are many steps that follow. Some e-merchants choose to go for paid advertising, SEO and promotion for increasing traffic but there are other options that are free. One of the best ones is having an online blog attached to your online business.
In case you didn’t get the memo, attaching a blog to your online store is thought to be one of the best things you can do to attract more traffic for free. Setting up a blog isn’t a tough nut to crack either. In fact, a blog set up usually comes standard with most of the e-commerce solution software featured in the Zippy Cart Top Picks.
What’s more important, however, is that you know how to use your blog to drive more website traffic and attract the type of audience that will convert to sales.
Below are some of the most useful tips on how to use a blog to attract lots of traffic to an online store.
Focus on Keywords
This is where the game of SEO begins. Before you start writing content for your blog, you should choose the right keywords to optimize for the needs of your online business. It’s those terms that will attract search engines and rank your site for people who are searching in your marekt. What are the main keywords that you would like to target? If you don’t have a good idea (and even if you think you do) you should check-out tools such as GoogleAdWords and see what they say.
In terms of choosing SEO keywords, you should remember to be neither too broad nor too specific. You need to focus on those keywords that you think have a fair search volume and are less competitive as far as ranking at the top of search engines is concerned. Also, find ways to insert them properly into your blogs, so they flow well and make sense.
If you spend adequate time on keyword research and use them properly in your blogs, you should see the effects increase your traffic!
Create Top Quality Content
While it’s essential to focus on SEO, you can never achieve success until you pair it with top quality content. To make your e-commerce blog work really well, identify the target audience and figure out what they want to read about. It’s only when you know what they want that you can offer content to solve their day-to-day issues.
Creating top quality, relevant content for your blog is a time consuming task and can chip away at precious work hours. Consider hiring a professional blog writer for this task so you and your specialized staff are free to look after other important tasks.
Quality blogs work when they’re frequent and consistent. Once your target audience becomes aware of your e-commerce blog and start liking the quality of content, they’ll want to visit over and over again. That’s exactly where you need to be consistent with your publishing schedule. Remember, the audience is hungry for top quality information. If you publish great content on a consistent basis, the first-time visitors will soon become regular visitors (i.e. prospects) and will share you content through their social media market, as well.
An editorial calendar can help you schedule blogs in a manner that makes sense with your market. With an editorial content calendar, you can plan all your content topics in advance, have them completed in time and make them go live exactly when you want. That’s how you’ll have a consistent publishing schedule.
Do you have any questions or comments? Please let us know in comments.
By the ZippyCart eCom team
March 13, 2013
Though credit cards are great, they should not be your only online payment options an e-commerce store offers. According to Fred Neff (President, Internet Merchants Association), online payment options can make a huge impact on the number of your online sales. Therefore, it’s vital for e-commerce business owners to break out of the ‘traditional credit card payment’ mold and provide buyers with more options of online payment.
Customers are always looking for more when it comes to making payments… global shoppers, especially. Even today, there are many countries and situations where customers don’t feel comfortable with the use of credit cards online. South Africa is a good example of such an emerging markets. Online shoppers in this region are especially hesitant to reveal their credit card information while buying or purchasing products online. They expect to have more payment options so that they can complete their purchase.
The more payment options you offer on your e-commerce website, the more likely your customers, especially global shoppers, will be to complete the purchasing process.
Regardless of where you are in the world, you’ll find potential buyers who are reluctant to put their credit card information into just any online store. And with good reason… you cannot trust that every eMerchant has built their online store with eCommerce solutions software that provides PCI-compliance.
It’s no wonder a market of alternative payment options has emerged around the world. In the USA, PayPal, Payment by Amazon and a few other powerhouses are the standard. People from different countries, however, prefer using different options of online payment. Many countries would have their own most preferred options. Going back to the growing African market, for example, most of the online buyers prefer making their payments through their mobile devices using a service called M-Pesa. There are many different favorites around the globe, however. You’ll need to put a little research into your possible markets to make sure all your bases are covered.
The number of online buyers is continuously on the rise and experts are projecting eCommerce and mCommerce to become the new norm. By offering a wide variety of online payment options, you are actually helping customers in their buying process. If you check out, you’ll find a number of payment service providers or payment processors, which you can choose according to your website requirements. You can also hire professional services so that your chosen payment systems can be easily integrated with your shopping cart software. If you have an old website, you may need some upgrade before you are ready to embrace modern payment processing tools.
Since e-commerce has a wide presence today, you’ll always find a number of payment processors to use.
Some of the most preferred options include –
- PayPal’s Bill Me Later
- Amazon Checkout
- Google Checkout
- Secure Trading
Of course, there are many more. Depending on the technical capabilities of your shopping cart software, you can choose those tools that suit you best. In any case, you should always remember to provide your customers with several payment options so they can easily convert and complete the purchase. All you need to do is focus on providing your e-commerce website visitors (or customers) with a seamless transaction experience.
Online retail sales are projected to increase by leaps and bounds. When the customer base is ready to buy, your business should also be geared up really well towards providing payment systems that customers want to use. In doing so, you can rest assure you are doing the best to increase your online store’s sales.
By the ZippyCart eCom team
March 7, 2013
In order to keep up with the changing consumer demands, the techniques of marketing also change their course. As the owner of an online business or an e-commerce store, you may have heard about ‘inbound marketing’, as opposed to outbound marketing. But do you know what inbound marketing is and how it is more beneficial for online stores?
If not, let us go into the details briefly so that you know what these marketing techniques stand for and you can make a well-informed decision when it comes to connecting with the modern-day consumer.
What’s Outbound Marketing?
This is a marketing technique which deals with advertising via paid media. By embracing this method, you advertise your products via promotions, billboards, TV spots, radio spots, banner advertisement and press among others. This form of marketing stops delivering results as soon as you stop spending those dollars. Additionally, as the times change, consumers have little or no trust in billboards or TV spots. There’s a fundamental shift in the behavior of consumers.
Outbound marketing has become an old marketing technique, which is fast giving way to inbound marketing
What’s Inbound Marketing?
As the new way of connecting with consumers, inbound marketing makes use of the internet, social media, and search engines. Inbound marketing is blogs, newsletters, online video and other content driven techniques. It’s about connecting with the target audience on a personal level, winning their trust and building relationships. In short, it’s a two-way communication channel.
How many times have you muted, fast-forwarded or left the room for commercials on TV? According to stats, 86% of people who watch TV ignore or skip television commercials. Direct snail mails have also lost their weight, as very few people even open items that are obviously advertisements. Today, direct mails are considered to be waste of time, postage and paper. Consumers’ behaviors are changing!
Inbound marketing is a clear leader and the best option for most online store owners. It offers a better way of connecting with the consumer, requires a much small monetary investment, and brings opportunity to the customer through a two-way dialogue. Inbound marketing technique gives people more control over what type of information they want to receive, which makes them better consumers.
Inbound Marketing is Better for Online Sales
Since you now understand the difference between inbound and outbound marketing, it should be easier to see how inbound marketing can work for SMB merchants and e-commerce store owners who want to promote their products in a meaningful way, sell more and increase sells.
Inbound marketing is the most effective tool in the hands of marketers or small business owners who want to earn the target audience’s trust, build genuine relationships and engage them in a way that they are ready to buy from them and become their loyal customers. That’s why the quality of leads that you generate through inbound marketing is way better.
By creating engaging and educating content (i.e. content marketing, an inbound marketing technique) and delivering the same through various social media channels, SMBs and online store owners are able to earn consumers’ attention, rather than buying their attention. Inbound marketing is better for online stores because it costs less while providing you a better ROI. The days of intrusive advertising and annoying marketing techniques are almost over, as inbound marketing takes over and revolutionizes the way customers buy.
Take a little time to build some unique content and work on your inbound marketing. You’ll see the results in the success of your online business.
Stand out from the rest!
By The ZippyCart eCom team
Feb 27, 2013
In the past, it was quite easy to attract customers to your online business and increase your sales. Today, there are so many choices (and fierce competition) that getting customers seems like a daunting task. First, you need to attract lots of traffic to your website, and then you have to engage them in a way where they like you, trust you completely and are ready to buy from you.
That is no easy task.
It’s incredibly important to set your online business apart from your competitors and the best way of doing it is by ‘personalizing’ your brand. On your website, you can do a number of things to give a human face to your online business.
Here’s how you can use your website to connect with customers on a personal level, so they can associate with your online business quickly.
#1. Colors & Graphics
Does your website really appeal to the target audience? Depending on the niche you cater to, you should be able to pick the right colors and graphics (or images) to attract your audience. For example, yellow is said to appeal to the youth while orange is considered an aggressive, call-to-action color. A professionally designed website has the ability to quickly connect with visitors. By paying careful attention to the use of colors and graphics, you’ll be on your way to making a long-lasting impression on the mind of your customers as they land on your website.
#2. About Us or Profile Page
Your company’s ‘About Us’ page is an often under worked area where you have an excellent opportunity to give a human face to your online business. This is the section where you should be able to tell the story about your brand. With some creative use of descriptive words, imagery and humor, you can use the profile page of your website to create an emotional attachment with visitors. In any case, keep your story short (2-3 paragraphs) so that you don’t get readers bored.
#3. Physical Contact Info
When it comes to personalizing your online business, you shouldn’t simply put your phone number or email address on your website. Instead, you should always place your complete physical contact information. By doing so, you’ll create trust among visitors as they will know you really exist… irl!
The way you interact with blog posts and customer reviews will help your business personality!
#4. Responses to Blog Comments (or Reviews)
Keeping up with blog comments and customer reviews is a great way to make a site seem more alive! It’s not wise to only feature your products or services and not interact with customers when they need it. If you have a blog attached to your business website and receive comments on a regular basis, you should be available to respond in a timely manner. If your website also allows customers to submit reviews, you should react favorably as well.
#5. Product Descriptions
Product descriptions are very important. Not only do they sell products but they give you a chance to let your business’s personality shine! While it’s great to feature top quality product images on your e-commerce website, it is also important to include thorough, entertaining descriptions. Customers will always want to know what your product can do for them, how it can solve their day-to-day issues. Talk about the benefits while writing product descriptions. It will help you connect with customers and convert them into buyers.
#6. Testimonials vs Customer Reviews
In the past, in order to increase their online sales, businesses would make the mistake of adding fake testimonials to their website. Today’s customers are smart enough to see through made-up testimonials. If you are really serious about giving your online business a personality, you should always feature real testimonials or better yet, scrap them for a mixed basket of customer reviews on your products. If you have a great product or service, you should receive some great, positive feedback to share.
#7. Online Videos
Internet users don’t read much. The popularity of YouTube should tell you a lot about how much web users like watching videos. Rather than building text-heavy websites (like others are doing), you can create short-length, engaging videos about your products or services. It increases the stickiness of your website as well as creates personal attachment. Online videos are definitely a trend in eCommerce that will help your business stand out!
What are you doing to humanize your brand? Is it easy for your customers to associate with your brand? Let me know your thoughts.
By the ZippyCart eCom team
January 24, 2013
Regardless of the target audience you cater to, you should always make sure that your online store is made to deliver performance round the clock. With the competition continuously rising in the retail industry, it’s vital to take good care of your online shoppers so that they don’t turn to your competitors. Today’s online shoppers are smarter, more intelligent and less patient.
So, are you ready to fulfill (and exceed) the expectations of online shoppers as they visit your online store?
If not, it’s high time to prepare! Your online store needs to run to a point where you are 100% confident that you won’t lose any of your online browsers when they hit your landing page. That’s exactly how you can get your online store ready for global domination and beat out the competition.
An online store ready for global domination translates to ‘more sales’.
Given below are a couple of tips that you can use to make your online store more efficient and increase the number of sales.
Offer Global Quality
When you are looking to dominate on a global level, you’ll need to focus on quality. Most of the e-commerce website owners see their online store as a mere collection of a range of products, which is a big mistake. Your audience is never going to buy your products until they are really convinced that they will get good value out of it. That’s where quality content comes into play.
No matter what kind of products you sell, you should pay close attention to the kind of content you feature on your website. Whether it’s the product description, other textual elements, graphics or images, they should be of high quality so that they quickly build loyalty among the target audience.
So, take a closer look on the content of your online store pages.
Easy Checkout for a Diverse Audience
The checkout system of an online store has a huge role to play. As the owner of an online store, you must make sure that the checkout system on your e-commerce website includes the least number of steps possible and is easy to navigate. If your checkout process asks too many questions or requires registration before a purchase, you should minimize it without any delay. ZippyCart features many shopping cart software solutions that offer the fastest 1-page check-out, and other convenient options.
Even minor tweaks can sometimes make a big difference. Reducing the time it takes from browsing to purchase completion is essential and is especially important for a global audience as English may not be a 1st language. The easier the check-out is, the more sales you’ll complete!
Multiple Payment Options
While preparing your online store for global domination, the next important thing that you should pay attention to is the number payment options that you offer. If your online store doesn’t offer payment options that your customers actually want to use, you can easily lose the game. Give them the convenience of payment by all major credit cards as well as PayPal, Amazon and others. Research the areas you have potential areas in and make sure their major form of payment is accepted on your site.
Clear and Concise Store Navigation
Complex layout does an excellent job of confusing the visitors of your e-commerce website. Ask a couple of your friends to try your online store and give you their feedback about the ease of use. If you’re still unsure, evaluate the quality of your online store’s pages by consulting an expert and make necessary changes to make each of the pages very clear and concise. Simplifying the navigation of your online store should be constantly updated – it’s like the show that must go on for continued better results.
Is your online store really ready for global domination? Take a microscopic look and let me know in comments.
By the ZippyCart eCom Team
January 9, 2013
The social media landscape has changed quite a lot over the last one year. While there are many start-ups that have yet to embrace social media, you should gear up, anticipate current trends and include social media into your overall marketing plan as soon as possible. To develop a powerful social strategy, however, you’ll also need to abide by some essential guidelines and best practices.
Given below are thirteen tips that start-ups should use to get the most out of their social media marketing efforts in 2013.
#1. Go Beyond Facebook and Twitter
Most of the startups think that social media is all about Facebook and Twitter, which is not true at all. Though these two online platforms have proven to be big players in the social media arena, they are not all that is needed. As a smart start-up, you should also devote time to other potential social platforms like YouTube, Google+, Linkedin, Pinterest etc. At the same time, you shouldn’t hesitate to experiment with a new platform as it emerges on the social media scene.
#2. Invest in a Blog
While talking about owned media, starting a self-hosted business blog is the best that you can do. If you are really serious about giving your competitors a hard time in 2013 and beyond, you should have a blog up and running before late. It’s also advisable to hire an experienced blog or content writer so that your blog stays fresh, relevant and keeps visitors coming. Blogs are an easy addition to any eCommerce site and if you’re in eCom sales and own an online store, your eCommerce solution should be providing one for you.
#3. Make Your Site Mobile-Friendly
Mobile is today’s buzzword. The number of mobile device users continues to swell with each passing day. If your site is not accessible via mobile devices appropriately, you are in serious trouble. Take action right away. Again, look to your eCommerce solution (aka Shopping Cart Software) as they should be making your transition into mobile an easy one.
#4. Know Your Customers
Understanding the needs of your customers is always at the core of a social marketing strategy. If you want to achieve success with your social media marketing efforts, you must know what an ideal customer for your business looks like. Who is included in your target audience? Focus is important for successful marketing.
#5. Continue to Educate Yourself
Knowledge is the ultimate power. In order to create original and unique content, you need to keep yourself abreast of all the latest changes and developments in a niche you cater to. Devote adequate time reading blogs, books and magazines so that you are always ahead of others. Go ahead… subscribe to our RSS feed. ;-)
#6. Define Your Goals
Before you get started with social media marketing, make sure you know what your business goals are. It’s only when you clearly know your goals that you can efficiently track your progress.
#7. Improve Your Email Marketing
Don’t get surprised. As we enter into 2013, we have an urgent need to integrate social, content and email. Provided you integrate them appropriately, you can gain a huge edge over your competition as far as social media marketing is concerned.
#8. Create Quality Products
No matter how much effort you put into marketing, you won’t be able to make an impact if your product doesn’t have quality. Whether you are offering a product or a service, you should make sure it does an excellent job of solving the day-to-day problems of your target audience.
There’s so much that you can learn only if you listen to your customers.
#10. Skip Blatant Promotion
You’ll need to skip promotional speak immediately, if you want to achieve success with social media marketing in 2013. By doing blatant promotion, you’ll lose the trust of your customers even before you build it.
#11. Use Pictures
While creating social media content, you should focus on using pictures or images more and more. Creating engagement among the audience becomes easier with original, top quality images. Use them to your benefits.
#12. Connect with Influencers
First of all, locate the major influencers in an industry you cater to. Then find good ways to reach out to them and connect. Building relationships with industry experts and top professionals can bring you so many benefits.
#13. Memorize All of the Above.
Do you want to share an opinion? Feel free to comment below!
By the ZippyCart Content Team
January 4, 2013
Mostly, visitors that come to a website have a specific purpose to fulfill. If it’s an e-commerce website, they are looking to buy something and that’s where call-to-action buttons come in. Call-to-actions (CTAs) are buttons that are designed and placed to get your web page visitor to DO something… they elicit an action. Because of this, they should be created and placed in way that they can help the visitor (read: shopper) quickly understand the next step that they need to follow to BUY something, sign-up for something, etc. “BUY NOW”, “Free Trial Here”’, and “Read More” buttons would all be examples of CTAs. By placing call-to-action buttons on a website appropriately, you can increase both lead generation and sales.
You invested a good amount of time and money into developing the website where you plan to promote and sell your products. That’s good. But ignoring the significance of proper call-to-action placement can throw water on all your efforts.
Why not take a closer look at your website?
OK. Your website has attention-grabbing headlines. It has a well-crafted sales copy. The navigation on your website is also very user-friendly. Top quality images and customer testimonials add more value to your website. But where have you placed the call-to-action buttons? Are they good enough to attract the attention of customers as soon as they come to your website?
One thing that I should make quite clear is that the placement of call-to-actions varies from one website to another. What positions or what type of buttons are best to bring more sales are something that you can find out only by testing different versions of call-to-actions. Are you ready to test a few lay-outs?
It’s only testing that will unlock the secrets to successful call-to-action placement. Many times, minor changes alone can make a big difference. While creating the call-to-action buttons for your website, you need to choose the right colors, right wordings and the right size. Above all, you need to put those buttons above-the-fold so that visitors or buyers can find them at the very first glance of your website.
Studies suggest that web users spend most of their time soaking up information that is above the fold (the part of web page visible without scrolling). It’s due to this reason that you need to place your call-to-action buttons above the fold as well.
Tips to Follow
Once you have made up your mind to experiment with different versions and locations of your call-to-action buttons, you’ll also need to know about the general rules and guidelines. It’s important if you want to get started on the right track. Given below are some important tips that you abide by.
- Place Call-to-Action Buttons on Every Page – You never know which page the visitor is going to enter your website through. No matter what path they follow to come to your website, you need to make sure they can spot the call-to-action without any trouble or effort. So, have the buttons on all pages of your site.
- Keep the Buttons Above the Fold – This is most important as far as the placement of call-to-action buttons is concerned. Therefore, make sure you have placed the buttons in those places that catches the customers’ eyes without scrolling.
- Choose the Right Color, Wordings & Size – The appearance of call-to-action buttons is as much important as their placement. You should always choose those colors (for buttons) that stand out from the background. The wordings on the button should create urgency as well as inform the visitors about what’s up next. At the same time, you should also test the buttons for different sizes.
- Say ‘No’ to Clutter – One of the most important tips while creating call-to-action buttons is that they should be devoid of any kind of clutter. A cluttered page will do a good job of reducing the impact of the button. Therefore, always ensure that these buttons have adequate white space around them.
Are your call-to-action buttons doing well? If you have more tips or questions on how to use call-to-action buttons to improve sales, feel free to share them in the comments below.
By the ZippyCart content team
December 19, 2012
Google Analytics can help you track and improve your online store.
In order to maintain the health of your online store, you need to keep a close watch on the analytics of your e-commerce site. There are several software solutions that you can use to track valuable statistics of your site. One of the best, however, is Google Analytics. This is an enterprise-class web analytics tool that you can use to uncover the inner workings of your customers as they visit your e-commerce website or your online store. Though most of the store owners know about Google analytics quite well, they fail to use this awesome tool to their maximum business benefits.
No matter what kind of online store you own, it’s essential to measure its progress so that you are aware of the causes of profits (or losses). The biggest benefit of using an analytics software program in this regard is that it allows you to identify those critical issues that cause your online store to under-perform.
By using such a powerful measurement tool as Google analytics, you can quickly gain a deep insight into the search intent of your target audience and the shopping behavior of your online customers. You will know what makes your customers tick. Effective tracking via this software ultimately allows you to improve customer retention and reduce customer frustration.
But do you know which metrics carry the most significance when it comes to improving the performance of your online store? Given below are some of the key points that you’ll need to focus on taking your business to the next level.
Setting up goals in Google analytics is something you should not skip. The analytic tool allows you to set up as many as 20 goals. Each of these goals represents an action taken by your customers on your e-commerce site. As the owner or manager of an online store, you can plan to set up goals like ‘view shopping cart’, ‘choose delivery option’, ‘enter payment details’ etc.
In fact, every single step that the visitor to your e-commerce website takes until they finally purchase a product can be made into a goal. After you’ve set up the goals in Google analytics as per your specific business requirements, you can access the Funnel Visualization report. This will be an eye-opener!
Are your customers are able to shop your store and checkout with their mobile devices? In order to review the type of access your website offers for mobile phone users, you can go to Google Analytics – Standard Reporting – Audience – Mobile – Devices. Here, you’ll find valuable stats regarding the mobile phone users of your online store. And then you can take the necessary steps (or fix the problems) to improve the experience of your online customers and increase your product sales.
Online shoppers can sometimes be hit with different types of error messages during the checkout process. They encounter errors when they make mistakes like completing a form field in the wrong way or not ticking a specific box. Sure, there are error messages from which visitors can learn and proceed to the next step. However, stats like these can help you a great deal when you want to improve the performance of your online store. That’s exactly where setting up Google analytics event tracking comes into play.
One of the most important metrics that you can track through Google analytics is landing pages. You can go to Google Analytics – Content – Site Content – Landing Pages. This section of the tool informs you about the performance of different landing pages on your e-commerce website. Here, you will also find options to filter results by clicking ‘advanced’, beside the search box. You can also click on e-commerce to gather revenue and conversion rate details for every single landing page.
What metrics are you tracking in Google Analytics? Are they helping your online store? Please feel free to let us know about your insights and experiences.
What eCom trends will continue into 2013?!
By the ZippyCart content team
December 12, 2012
There are two ways to look at the rapid growth of ecommerce. On one hand, it allows online entrepreneurs the opportunity to make big profits. On the other, it has the potential to send brick-and-mortar businesses to the poor house. Hopefully, you fall into the first category and are getting the most out of your ecommerce business.
To achieve success with your web-based retail business, you must keep your eyes and ears open so that you don’t miss out on the up and coming in ecommerce. By keeping a close watch on these latest trends, you can be in a better position to develop an ecommerce business strategy that really works for you.
So, let’s check out where the online shopping industry is headed by discussing some of the hottest ecommerce trends for the year 2013.
The ecommerce industry has been hugely impacted by the ever growing usage of smartphones and tablets so in 2013, more than ever before, it’s going to be vital that your ecom storefront is properly optimized for mobile viewing and sales. A high percentage of mobile device users (as much as 80%) access the internet via their mobile devices (smartphones and tablets). If you want to achieve success with your ecommerce business, you must realize that optimizing your online store for mobile devices is unavoidable.
Another trend that is not going anywhere but will only continue to grow in the ecom world is social media. No matter what niche you cater to, it’s almost impossible to beat out the competition without actively participating at social media platforms like Google+, Facebook and Twitter. Buyers spend a lot of their time on social networks and this time overlaps with their online shopping. Social media sites help them conduct required research and gather the required information. In addition, businesses that have embraced social media are seen as more trustworthy and credible sources for buying products.
Social media has revolutionized the way people search for brands or products online and make purchases. If you don’t embrace social media yet or include it into your overall online marketing plan, you’ll be missing out on a great way to connect with your target audience and make sales.
User-Friendliness of an Online Store
Shoppers want convenience, whether they’re in a mall or shopping online. Nobody wants to walk in circles while trying to find the perfect accessory, nor do they want to get frustrated when searching for items online. Whether it’s about navigational structure of your webshop, accepting payments from different channels, or the checkout process, your online store should always provide users with flawless ease of use. If buyers face issues while accessing your online store, they can quickly leave your site and turn to your competitors. Therefore, it’s crucial to invest adequate time to the testing of your ecommerce store and make it better and better.
Ecommerce Solutions Software
In the last few years, competition between the best shopping cart software (aka ecommerce solutions software) companies has gotten tough. Considering the equally tough competition in the ecommerce sales industry, finding the right company to help build your online store is a huge task. You want one that’s efficiently functional can quickly attract the attention of the target audience is a big challenge. You’ll also need a solid company that offers features like great design options and customer support.
Luckily, it’s become standard for most reputable companies to offer free trials so before you start to pay a third-party ecommerce website builder, you can take it for a spin. Take a look at ZippyCart’s comparison charts to find the top ecommerce software in the industry.
Do you run an online store? Where do you think the online shopping industry is headed in 2013 and beyond? Please don’t hesitate to comment.
By the ZippyCart Content Team
December 5, 2012
Regardless of the type of industry you cater to, your business can never prosper without customers. If you plan to achieve success with your business for the long term, you’ll need to identify who your target audience is and what their specific needs may be. Considering the tough competition among e-commerce store owners, it’s almost impossible to take your business to the next level without exceeding the expectations of your customers. That’s why most of the successful companies of today are people-centric or customer-focused. What are you doing to focus on your target audience?
Out in the World Wide Web, you’ll come across many customer relationship management (CRM) applications. Many e-commerce store owners have also adopted these systems to focus on both customer acquisition and customer retention. But which, according to you, is more important?
According to research, it has come to light that acquiring a new customer costs a lot more (6-10 times more) than retaining a new customer. That means you need to dedicate most of your efforts to retaining customers so that you can create loyalty and trust in your brand or products. Customers that you have retained understand your brand better than anyone else. In fact, they are the actual advocates of your brand. It’s these retained customers (read: loyal customers) that can help you launch a word-of-mouth campaign about your services or products.
But, first you need to acquire new customers. Right?
Though retaining customers carries a lot more significance, you also need to continuously build new relationships. First and foremost, you need to evaluate your marketing campaigns and find out which of them are working really well. But what’s actually more important is that you need to acquire only those customers that match your company’s ideal prospect profile. Your marketing campaigns, therefore, should always focus on acquiring the ‘right type of customers’, aka, your target audience.
The biggest challenge in the process of customer acquisition is identifying those channels that are best to fulfill your goals. One common mistake that most of the e-commerce business owners make is that they start to too many channels at once. If you begin with too many acquisition channels, testing and optimizing them will prove to be quite cumbersome. It’s, therefore, advisable to focus on one customer acquisition channel at a time and act according to the gathered feedback.
The feedback that you collect can help you evaluate how different classes of customers are responding to your marketing campaigns. You’ll also be able to identify their specific needs, likes, interests etc. Unless and until you understand what your customers are actually looking for, you can never develop products or services to simplify their day-to-day lives. While developing the customer acquisition strategy for your business, you’ll need to pay close attention to the best source of customers, how they locate your company, role of external resources (if any) and the ROI of your marketing campaign among others.
Retaining customers is actually about enhancing your company’s value.
In any case, it’s actually customer retention that will decide whether your e-commerce business will be able to beat out the competition. Retaining customers is actually about enhancing your company’s value. The goal of customer retention, therefore, is to create loyalty among customers and take the customer-brand relationship to the next level. This is when you start a build a vibrant community of followers around your brand or products. In order to retain customers, you’ll need to develop an effective strategy that keeps them coming back to your company for more.
For long-term client retention, you’ll need to –
- Be consistent with your efforts
- Market to your existing customers or clients
- Connect with your customers on a personal level
- Keep up the promises that you make
- Prove yourself to be a solution provider
- Provide real value to your customers
- Reward your customers for staying with you
- Focus on acquiring more knowledge
As mentioned above, retaining an existing customer costs you a lot less than getting a new customer for your e-commerce business. However, even a minor improvement in customer retention can increase profits significantly.
Does your online business have the right type of customers? Please feel free to share your opinions in comments.
By Nicolas Fincher
October 31, 2012
Getting Mobile-Ready – Being Sleek or Being Smart
Only a few years ago, mobile gadgets like smartphones, iDevices and tablet PCs were the signs of eminence – because of their rather high price, only well-off people could afford these technological advancements. However, as a natural matter of progress, today’s mobile devices have lost their value and become standard attributes of our everyday life. Many families even have a device for every member, including children.
These changes reflect the current tendencies in the m-commerce and mobile stores, turning them from fashion trends into urgent necessity. Originally, many online business owners created mobile versions for their web stores in order to stand out from the crowd and be on the cutting edge of the latest trends. Today however, as you’ve probably noticed, clients are getting more and more addicted to their smartphones, iPhones, iPads, etc. They use their mobile devices for the great variety of purposes, including online shopping. This makes m-commerce a necessity.
Many modern shoppers appreciate (and almost expect) the opportunity to visit web stores and make necessary purchases while they are on-the-go, without being tied down to their home or office computers. Most online stores admit that their mobile traffic makes a significant contribution to the overall traffic they get on a daily basis, and this volume is increasing every single day. Moreover, some online ventures confess that before going mobile-ready, they had received many complaints saying that their websites needed mobile versions.
Nowadays, it has become imperative to make your e-commerce website mobile-friendly and provide your visitors with an ultimate shopping experience from their smartphones and iDevices. Otherwise, there may be a high chance for your web store to be viewed as outdated and it will be increasingly difficult to gain and retain a competitive edge on the modern market.
Various media sources report that today’s m-commerce market is progressive commerce and is growing every single day. In other words, we have entered a so-called mobile-tablet era. While getting more powerful and functional, modern mobile devices and tablet PCs provide users with a much more convenient and improved web surfing experience, including online shopping, and thus deliver online business owners new, remarkable opportunities to improve brand awareness and increase sales.
No doubt, getting a mobile-optimized web store version is no longer a fashion tribute, but rather an urgent need for every online venture aimed to grow, expand and succeed on the modern highly-competitive Web market. Let’s sum up the most crucial advantages of having a mobile presence:
- Be more available to modern, on-the-go markets.
- Stay on top of the latest e-commerce trends.
- Increase your overall traffic rates.
- Attract more prospects with additional accessibility.
- Show your visitors that you’re a customer-oriented business.
Mobile Applications vs. Mobile Websites
Do you wonder what the best way to go mobile is? There are two basic concepts for establishing a mobile presence; you can download and install a mobile application for web store browsing or you can make sure your e-commerce website is optimized for a full-fledged mobile experience.
At first glance, the download and installation requirements for mobile applications may impose a sort of barrier between your visitors and your website. However, there are certain market niches and cases where this necessity really makes sense. For example, interactive e-commerce projects (e.g. web gaming portals), complicated sets of data that need manipulation, and anything that would like to function without internet connections are best through mobile apps.
Mobile websites may not be best for the specific markets above but they’re perfect if you want a website that is instantly available, without any download requirement. They are also easier to maintain, update, share and… they cost less. Any website can eventually be turned into an application so, in many cases, it may be best to start here.
Luckily, today there are plenty of powerful and efficient programs and applications you can take advantage of to make your online store mobile-ready for viewing and shopping. Take your time to choose the optimal solution for your business and establish an ultimate, multifunctional mobile presence for your web store
Guest author Nicolas Fincher is a community and marketing manager at CS-Cart, an established company specializing in online shopping cart systems.