SusanD has written 49 articles so far, you can find them below.
Susan was raised in Missouri but has lived 'out west' for more than 10 years. She currently bounces back and forth between the Phoenix and the San Francisco areas and is always looking for the next adventure. Susan considers herself a curious soul, which has made research and blogging a perfect fit for her. She especially enjoys keeping up with and writing on local businesses, travel, and eCommerce issues. When she's not running Zippycart, she's probably researching a random piece of information she came across online.
Increase your traffic with Google Authorship
Without providing stellar content to your target audience, it’s now impossible to rule the web or dominate search engine results. Do you agree? Well, look at the last couple of search algorithmic updates by Google and you’ll know. You might have heard about the Panda and Penguin updates by Google. But one of the most influential changes that happened this year is certainly in Google authorship.
What is Google authorship anyway?
It’s a feature introduced by Google that is supposed to ensure trustworthy content. What authorship does is tie a specific piece of content to its writer or author. By doing so, Google plans to provide users with expert content written by expert authors or industry experts.
The web is overflowing with content of all types and forms. When you conduct a search, you used to not know whether a particular article or blog post you are about to click and read is written by a credible author. With the launch of Google authorship, however, it’s easy to identify the worth of an article or post by checking out the author snippets. The rich snippet is comprised of an author’s bio photo, which is pulled in from their Google+ profiles. Therefore, it allows users to read exactly what they want to, and ignore the rest.
On the other hand, tying content with its authors is also an opportunity to rank higher in SERPs. Google favors ranking high quality content, written by professionals, industry experts and thought leaders. But, another good part of the Google authorship feature is that it also increases the click-through rate. According to a survey, the use of rich snippets increases the click-through rate quickly by as much as 30%.
Google authorship is like a reward for top quality content creators. Already, a good number of content creators have adopted this feature. They know it’s the way to the future as far as ranking at the top of Google search results is concerned. So, what are you waiting for?
Here’s how to set up Google authorship –
- Sign Up for a Google+ Account – Since Google extracts author data from their Google+ profile, you should make sure you or your content creators have their personal accounts on Google+. At the same time, the author name should match with the name that they have on their accounts on Google+.
- Get Your Account in Order – Only creating a personal account on Google+ is not enough. The profile should also be filled out well. Most importantly, you should pick a top quality picture as the profile image, the one that Google pulls for showing in rich snippets. If you don’t use a profile image, Google can easily detect it and your rich snippets won’t be shown in search. The better the quality of your profile image, the better click-through rate you can expect as your rich snippets appear in search results.
- Verify Your Google Authorship – The next step is to go to the Google Plus authorship page. As you enter your email, Google will send you a verification link which once clicked will connect your Google+ account to the website.
- Link Blog Posts to Google+ Profile – Also, you need to include an author byline on each post on your website. The author byline further should be connected to the respective author page on the website. The author page should have the author’s bio, a list of the posts they have written and a link to their personal account on Google+ (or Google Plus).
- Verify with rel=author Markup – In case you are unable to add an author byline due to some specific reasons, you can also achieve it manually. All you need to do is create a link from your web page to your Google+ profile page. Reciprocal linking (link from your profile to website) is also required.
Now, if you need a little more encouragement or information on the matter, you can always check out Google’s page on authorship.
Has Google authorship helped your search ranking? We’d love to hear about your experience in the comments below!
According to Statistic Brain, the average attention span of a goldfish is nine seconds. The average attention span of a human is eight seconds. This is why your business needs Instagram.
Why Instagram Works
Instagram is tailored to fit the image-conscious audiences of today. People are bombarded with information coming at them from every direction. Instagram appeals because its interface is intuitive and it enables users to quickly distribute their photo message across all social media outlets with one simple click.
Why the Power of Instagram Is Awesome
As Atlantic Wire reports, Instagram has 90 million monthly users. Each of those users represents your potential customers.
In addition, when your online business links up with Instagram, you are acquiring the exponential power of their subscribers. Every Instagram user you reach has already proven themselves to be a social media user. By virtue of this fact, your business is practically guaranteed to be tweeted, liked, or shared.
Businesses sometimes see instant results after implementing an Instagram strategy.
Ways Your Business Can Use Instagram to Impart Your Company Image
One way your business can benefit from utilizing Instagram is by arming key employees with an Instagram account in the business department name. For instance, your marketing department manager could post an enticing new product image monthly, creating an appetite for an item before it’s even hit your online store shelves. Your HR department head could post candid moments from the annual picnic or awards ceremony (with the employees’ permission, of course). This type of post is a powerful way to communicate your business culture. If your company spends money on charitable contributions (it does, right?), your CFO could post a moving snapshot of the charity in action.
A second way to harness the power of Instagram is to host an Instagram event. Challenge your subscribers to a photo contest. Choose a theme in line with your corporate identity. For example, a clothing company might offer a prize to the best Instagram image of homemade children’s costumes for school plays and Halloween. A food company could have a best recipe contest based solely on the image of the final dish. Let your subscribers vote and choose the winner.
A bad reputation spells crisis for your online business.
What to Do to Mitigate Reputation Damage
The awesome power of Instagram does have a few drawbacks. Because your business images are flung instantly to the far reaches of the Internet, your reputation can be negatively impacted in one blinding explosion of controversy. What happens if your stellar senior head of HR accidentally pushes out a picture of a married employee getting cozy with a young intern? The fallout can be rough, even though technically it’s nothing to do with your business.
It helps to know how to remove personal information from the online world. It is possible, and it’s often necessary. The reason you don’t hear about it is because it works.
Instagram is a fun and powerful toy. But if you’re going to play in Internet space, you have to dust yourself off every now and again.
Guest author Kate Supino is a professional freelancer who advises online business on how to remove personal information in cases of negative publicity.
Images courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Find your target audience and focus your marketing dollar in their direction.
What’s your idea of running an online business? There are many who think running an eCommerce store is simply posting and selling products. Sadly though, it’s a lot more complicated in today’s world of eCommerce. No matter what niche you belong to, there’s tough competition for attracting customers so you need to find your target audience and develop a strategy around them. Why? Because nowadays, every single niche has hundreds of thousands of online stores, each one of them vying for customers’ attention. With these odds, being able to find your target audience is more important than ever before.
Developing an effective marketing and sales strategy is important for success and starts with learning how to find your target audience. You should not jump into marketing and sales strategies unless you know who your best customers will be, where they belong and what their key demographics are? Don’t waste marketing dollars by trying to sell to everyone. Find your target audience and make every dollar count!
A target audience is just a specific group of people who are most likely to be interested in the products you have to offer. The demographics of a target audience will change with each product line you push. For example, a collage aged audience might be interested in current retail trends while new parents will be interested in baby products. As an SMB, small to medium sized business owner, you can’t sell to everyone and attempting to will break your bank. To sell more in less time, you’ll always need to find your target audience, those people who are ready to buy what you are selling.
Now, the big question remains… how to find your target audience. Well, you should start with these important questions –
- What is my product?
- What problems does my product solve?
- Who could have the problems that my product solves?
- To whom will my product appeal the most?
- How will customers use my product?
These questions are just the starting point. As you ask yourself more questions like these and get deeper and deeper, you’ll be able to identify the type of people (or businesses) who your product will suit the best. As soon as you have the picture of the ideal customer for your e-commerce business, you’ll need to extend your research further to know the finer details like their age, gender, occupation, educational qualification, marital status, interests etc.
There are several benefits of identifying your target audience and your whole business will operate around them. When you know the target audience for your e-commerce business, it will becomes easier to make important business decisions. Whether it’s about designing your online store or improving your online marketing strategies, you will be able to achieve success with all of these issues only when you know who you are selling your products to.
Finding your target audience helps you a great deal when it comes to making decisions about the ancillary service of your business. When you are aware of who to sell, you can easily decide out where to sell, when to sell and how to sell. At the same time, it will become easier for you to attend the right kind of functions as well as enter into the right kind of partnerships. Unless and until you find your target audience, you’ll make mistakes with all these key decisions which in turn will make a negative impact on your business and profits.
It’s best to stay one step ahead and know who you’re selling to and what they like… before you start selling! If you are having low profits or spending too much in marketing, you need to quickly break out of the mold, identify your idea customer base, and try to find out as many details about them as possible. The more you know about them, the better strategies you’ll be able to create.
Did you find your target audience before or after you launched your online store? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!
A longtime ZippyCart favorite, the Americommerce Hosted Shopping Cart Solution is making headlines again with some big changes and updates. They’ve always been one of the few top ranked eCommerce solutions to offer multiple store fronts but now, with a slew of new features and updates, they’re offering up an eCommerce shopping cart that’s more attractive than even before. I wanted the inside scoop so I got a hold of Americommerce‘s Business Development & Marketing Manager, Justin McCullough, for an interview and here is what was found out!
Q: ZippyCart has been a longtime fan of the Americommerce Hosted Shopping Cart Solution and lately, we’ve noticed you guys have a new logo and look with your website. What new updates and features have you rolled out this year?
A: It’s been an amazing year actually. For us to just be a small team of 30 people, we’ve covered a lot of ground in the last nine months from launching our new logo, rebranding everything from end to end include a newly designed website and tons of new features. We landed on the Inc. 5,000 list for the second year in a row and early in the year we completed our PCI DSS Level 1 with Trustwave and we’re now officially recognized as a PCI Certified ecommerce platform. Amazing progress!
As for features, back in February we launched our embedded ecommerce tools, a full blogging system, and a customer rewards and points system. Then in April we launched our new logo and rebranded everything from business cards to a newly designed website. We’ve also rolled out new integrations for partners like Lexity, Nextopia, Riskified, Justuno, Referral Candy, and e Fulfillment Services.
Q: And just in general, what are the strengths and features that attract most online business owners to the Americommerce Hosted Shopping Cart Solution?
A: Honestly, it’s the fact that we invest in a deeper feature set, more settings, and total control over what you can do with your store from advanced design needs to integration and even custom development for specific features.
As an industry, everyone talks about getting online easily, quickly, and getting your store up over the weekend. We tend to go the opposite direction and talk about pro-grade tools for sophisticated online retailers who want more control over their store, being able to run more than one store from the same admin and lots of powerful tools – not light features.
I’d say the fact that you can run multiple stores, a Facebook store, and add ecommerce to any existing site or social network is a good reason people come to us.
Q3: Can you share what you guys have going on behind the scenes right now? Give ZippyCart readers a sneak peek idea of what’s coming up soon from the Americommerce Hosted Shopping Cart Solution!
A: You bet! Two things!
On September 3rd, we’ll do an early release of our new responsive admin which is full of new features like drag and drop dashboard widgets, menu builder, file manager and a user interface that’s totally responsive for tablet and desktop users. Our early test users have been saying this new admin is a game changer, so that’s been really encouraging.
As for a look behind the scenes, we’re rolling out a plan to have totally responsive themes available in our theme gallery. This means new themes for AmeriCommerce users and those themes will look great on an iPad or tablet right from the start.
And, I’m not sure if we can get into all the details, but AmeriCommerce is acquiring another company and that will wrap up soon.
Q4: With an eye on next year, what do the team at Americommerce Hosted Shopping Cart Solution feel will be the top trends in eCommerce for 2014?
A: Mobile will continue to trend up. So will more small hyper-focused apps and integration software that does one thing extremely well and uses API’s to integrate with others.
Q5: Any words of wisdom for newbie eMerchants, who are just entering the world of eCommerce?
A: Pick the right platform for growth. Ecommerce as an industry is hard, so be ready to get competitive and savvy about how the web works and how shoppers shop online. From the very beginning be thinking about how you will be running your new store to generate traffic, buyers, repeat buyers
We find a lot of people are looking for fast and easy, but often regret it when they start to really manage their store and they can’t do things that drive their conversions, sales, traffic, and promotions.
And lastly, do something you like and build a store you can love!
If you’re interested in learning more about Americommerce Hosted Shopping Cart Solution, feel free to leave your questions and thoughts in the comment selection below or feel free to contact them directly! If you already use Americommerce Hosted Shopping Cart Solution, please tell us about your experience with them!
To stay competitive, build audience engagement goals and keep an eye on social media tips!
The old rules for marketing are dead! Social media has swept over modern-day marketing for online businesses and brick and mortar SMBs. Online business owners, especially, are having to keep up and make many changes to stay competitive so keeping up with social media tips is an important consideration.
Social media marketing is an effective way to reach a target audience. If you thought social media websites were only for connecting with family and friends, think again! Today, you simply can’t get ahead of the competition unless you embrace social media and include it in your overall marketing plan.
Social media continues to evolve so to get the most out of your social media marketing efforts, you should take a strategic approach and keep up with emerging trends. Given below are some of the most powerful social media tips you can use in the 2nd half of 2013 (and beyond) to take your small business to the next level.
- Know Your Goals
There are different purposes or goals that you can achieve by effectively using social media platforms. As a small business owner, you may want to generate more leads. Or you may plan to drive more traffic to your company or e-commerce website. Many businesses use social media to promote their brand and build a community of loyal followers. Likewise, you too need to know your goals really well. Unless you know your specific goals before you jump on to the social media bandwagon, you’ll only shoot arrows in the dark. Not knowing your goals also makes it impossible to track the progress of your efforts. So, make sure you have clearly-defined and realistic goals. If you feel you could use a little guidance, check your eCommerce software as the top shopping cart software usually has social media tools that can help! And don’t forget one important sourse, the company site of your eCommerce software should have a blog that is full of social media tips!
- Identify Your Target Audience
Before you choose and join social media websites, there’s one more thing that you must know – your target audience. No matter what niche you belong to, there’s always a specific group of people that’s most interested in the products or services you sell. It’s meaningless to sell to just anyone and trying to will only waste your marketing dollars. Even when you are starting to use social media, you must identify who your target audience is so that you can choose the right social media websites and put your online marketing efforts on the right track. In fact, you should try to find out as much about your target market or audience as possible. The more you know about your target audience, the better strategy you’ll be able to create for your social media marketing. If you need extra help, there should be plenty of social media tips online that can help you narrow in on your target audience.
- Limit Social Media Channels
As more and more social media websites appear on the scene, you might feel tempted to join each of them. It’s not a good idea to start using too many social media websites at once, unless you have a social media manager, as it’s a time consuming task. First and foremost, your target audience probably has preferences on their social media source, and you should figure out where they hang out. Second, using too many social media platforms can easily ruin your focus. Remember these – strategy, focus and execution. While using social media, one of the most important tips is to choose the platforms carefully so that you can get the most out of your efforts.
- ‘Engagement’ is the Word
In the year 2013 and beyond, you should start your social media marketing with a new, changed mindset. Most of the small business owners think that social media is for direct promotion of products or services and miss the ‘social’ part of it. As soon as you approach social media with this mindset, you have put yourself on the wrong track. Always keep in mind that social media is not for direct selling. While using social media, you need to focus your attention on engaging your target audience and building your online reputation. If you are able to create engagement among your audience, the rest will follow automatically. Start paying attention to the ‘social’ part of social media. Social media tips will keep you going with creative ways to build your online reputation and engage your target audience.
- ‘Authority Status’
One of the most important social media tips for all the business-owners out there is to focus on achieving the authority status. Via every quality piece of content that you share with your target audience via social media channels, you need to prove that you are truly the best resource in your specific niche. That’s how you create loyal and repeat customers. This will help your business in a number of ways, including better ranking with search engines, a loyal following and being respected in your niche.
- Track, Track, Track!
If there’s one common mistake that most of the small business or e-commerce business owners make is that they ignore the the importance of analytics. No matter what your goals are or what social media channels you have chosen to use, you should always have an accurate measurement system in place so that you know where you are headed and how you can improve.
Social Media Tips are frequently being updated so keep an eye on a reliable source, such as our ZippyCart e-Commerce News Blog, and keep your goals up-to-date!
Do you have social media tips to share? We’d love to hear them in the comments below!
A day to celebrate! Mother’s Day is a wonderful tradition that is shared between mothers, grandmothers, aunties and other caregivers, with the children and loved ones who have come under their care. This celebration, in it’s many different forms, has spanned since early time but has been recognized in the USA as “Mother’s Day” since the early 20th century.
Simply put, Mother’s Day is a day to spoil your mom. If you still don’t know what to get her however, here are a few quick and easy suggestions. In fact, you can do all of them on the computer, right now!
- Help Mom Organize Her Memories
This is a great, last minute idea for Mother’s Day! Bring your old, treasured images out of storage and into the limelight with digital scanning services. Just mail them in and PhotoBin will scan them with the option of online archiving for one year and a free DVD or CD for sharing and safekeeping. You’ll be able to view them online, email them to friends and family, upload them to Facebook, have them enlarged for framing, or turn them into video slideshows. Plus, professional scanning is a surefire way to protect priceless memories from time, elements, and curious toddlers. National: Professional Scanning Services ($109 Value)
- Show Your Mom That She’s a Star to You!
Another special last minute Mother’s Day idea can be found when you look to the night sky. Dedicate a star to the one you love for the entire world to see. Your Star Forever allows you to gift an actual star from the universe to someone you care about, so that the person’s name and a shared personal message is associated with it for eternity Every dedication includes a printable certificate of ownership, a personal photo, a personal video, a personal message, and a scheduled email or text delivery of the exciting news. Your choice of photo, video, star name, and message will be included in the registrar forever, so anyone who comes across your star will be able to see your heartfelt tribute. National: Dedicate A Star To Someone Special (89% Off)
- Let Mom Pick the Movie… and the Eats!
Oooh, most mothers would love to have a night out with pre-paid gift cards on Mother’s Day. Just in time to plan your next date night, get a Restaurant.com eGift Certificate, two movie tickets and a $5 Dinner and the Movies Gift Code. Enjoy an intimate dinner for two at one of over 18,000 restaurants nationwide and then head to the movie of your choice. The movie tickets are accepted at almost every theater in the US. It’s the perfect way to save on date night with your sweetie or birthday treat! National: Dinner And A Movie For Two (64% Off)
- Help Mom Take Better Pictures!
Would your mom like some help with her photography skills this last minute Mother’s Day? Capture stunning shots and develop a whole new outlook on photography with Mom and Pop Photo School. Designed for parents who want beautiful photos of their family, this course will help you feel confident stepping out of AUTO mode. MORE_START In the Mom’s Guide to Great Photos, you’ll learn the secrets of finding the right light and how to get any kid to cooperate—even your own! You’ll learn how to make photography fun with tips on how to stress less, go easy on yourself, and how to best use whichever camera you have – whether it’s a DSLR, point-and-shoot or even a phone camera. National: Mom’s Guide to Great Photos ($19 Value)
- Give the Kiva Gift That Keeps Giving
Charity is something that my mom stressed to me so she loves it when I give her a gift that let’s her help others. Every year we exchange a few Heifer International or Kiva gift cards… and then have fun finding new places to volunteer. If you don’t have the funds for a gift card this year, maybe you could simply take your mom to a place and volunteer with her. That special time will always be remembered well.
Give your mom the ability to help another mother in need.
We’d love to hear your last minute ideas for the perfect Mother’s Day gift in the comments!
By Susan Delly
March 8, 2013
One of the things that we love about Shopping Cart software is innovative and fast paced… it’s always improving. This is especially apparent when you look at the shopping cart solutions on ZippyCart’s top carts of 2013 comparison list.
Here are a few recent upgrades and changes that are worth noting.
- Fortune3 – after a recent upgrade, the team at Fortune3 was pleased to announce their integration with Endicia, for all of your shipping needs. It’ll now be easier to print postage and labels online!
- PinnacleCart – as of March 15, 2013, PinnacleCart.com has decided to focus their efforts on their hosted solution and no longer offer their licensed solution. They will still be providing the same quality support to their existing licensed stores and right now, they have a killer offer for those who want to get in on their licensed product last minute. Check them out if you’re interested!
- AmeriCommerce - with the latest upgrade, they added new embedding tools, blog widgets, a customer reward system, additional payment options, a new coupon code generator, a bunch of new apps and 2 new themes. They’ve been busy over at AmeriCommerce!
- Ashop – a company on the rise… AshopCommerce is currently taking on some major upgrades. They have recently put out an amazing new admin design and layout and have disabled some features that were outdated, to make for a smoother, easier navigation. For more information, check out their ZippyCart review and site.
- Shopify – version 3.4 of Shopify mobile was recently released and with it comes some stress reducing goodies. Their new mobile dashboard allows eMerchants to access key orders and products easily, as well as manage batch or multiple orders with one click!
With the whirlwind of changes and improvements, the eMerchant always wins!
Have you ever considered having a favorite star promote your brand through a tweet?
By Susan Delly
March 1, 2013
Social media has long proven itself to be an effective way for online business owners to keep in touch with their shoppers and increase sales and revenue in doing so. Aside from the basic tweeting and promotion, however, what can you do with it? One of the underground trends that you may not have considered is hiring a celebrity tweet.
You heard me right. You can pay a celebrity to tweet about your brand / current sale / hottest products / etc. Or if you’re lucky, you might get one to do it for free!
It makes sense, right? Tweeting a product is just another way for celebs to make a buck promoting and placing products or to thank vendors for sending them free stuff. With Twitter in the game now, SMB eMerchants are given an opportunity to use celeb endorsements in a way they may not have been able to afford before. (Tweets can run anywhere from $100 – $10,000, depending on the celeb.)
Is this type of promotion good for my business? Do paid celebrity tweets work?!
Possibly. Experts tend to agree that you may see good short term benefits from a celeb tweet but, it’s not a good strategy for repeat or long-term marketing. When going over the possibility for your online store, there are a few things for you to consider so you can judge your potential success.
- Evaluate your target audience and think on which celeb they may identify with and be following. If you sell women’s fashion, consider a Kardashian. If you are a sports dealer, look towards Mike Tyson. If you just wrote a new book, consider an established author in your genre.
- Check the tweet stream of your preferred celebrities and make sure they’re not crowded with obvious promotional tweets. Fans will catch on quickly if paid tweets have saturated a healthy Tweet stream.
- Think on the celeb’s reputation and if it works with your company’s personality. We all know gossip and controversial celebs can catch a lot of media and their tweet may bring a lot of traffic but, you need to decide if your company may be hurt or benefit from the association. Likely, if you just use them one time, you’ll only see a positive impact but that’s a decision you’ll have to make.
- Look at the number of followers your potential celebrities have and compare that number to the amount they charge per tweet. Is it worth it to your business?
- Consider your marketing budget and decide if it can support an experimental tweet. Some companies have had good conversions off of celebrity tweets. If you choose wisely, you could see a lot of short term success with it, too.
Celebrity tweets give you an interesting way to reach a new pocket of consumers and some fresh traffic. Plus, they’re fun. Think of the top 5 – 10 celebrities that have an audience that may overlap with your online store’s audience and then give their agents a shout to see if they’re open to a little Twitter promotion for your brand. Or, for smaller business… try smaller, more personal celebs. Send your local and upcoming celebs a message or gift them the product you’d like them to try and simply ask them to give you a shout-out. They may do it for free because they’re cool or because they like the free gear. You never know until you try!
Who are your favorite celebs and do they offer promotional tweets? Have you tried this marketing method? We’d love to hear your comments below.
By Susan D
January 30, 2013
With social media participation on the rise and mobile devices that keep us connected with our friends, family and colleagues almost all the time, it’s quite easy to get distracted while you are at work. Because of this, it’s important to avoid the personal clutter and tune your work day to its fullest potential (between FB breaks). Work requires calls to your clients or customers, social media marketing, scheduling press releases, attracting new clients, taking care of the existing ones, checking your inbox etc.
How are you going to manage your time efficiently?
Will you take a time management class? Well, you don’t need to do that (and who has the time?). Given below are some of the best tips that will help you make the most of your time and schedule your day for maximum coverage.
- Schedule Your Day You’re mistaken if you think breakfast is the first thing to do in the morning. In order to manage your time efficiently, you can use the time before breakfast to plan your entire day, every day. Before you chow down, you can quickly scan your emails so you will have a general idea of the expectations the beginning of your day may bring.
- Keep a Time-Sheet In order to build healthy time management habits, start keeping a time sheet. This gives you accountability (to yourself) and lets you see if you are really as busy as you think you are.
Be honest! Assign the start and end time for each task. Since there’s so much to do every day, you have a high risk of spending your time unproductively or thinking you’ve been more dedicated than you actually have. By assigning time to each of the task on your everyday’s To-do list, you can quickly manage your time and get more done in a specific amount of time.
- Prioritize When you have your time sheet to reference, you can more easily start to prioritize the tasks on your to-do list and allot the proper amounts of time for each task. Assigning points to each of the tasks that you’re required to do may help keep them organized. For example, you can rate the importance of a specific task on a scale of 1-10. A task that has a rating of 9.5 or 9.8 or 10 must be done immediately.
- Identify Your Most Productive Hours A time sheet will also help you identify those hours when you feel most energized or active… and the hours when you are sluggish and easily distracted. These peak hours are different for everyone. Some people get most productive during the early hours of the day or the first half of the day while there are others who feel more focused in the evening hours. Identify your peak and get most of your work done during that time.
- Plan Your Interruptions As mentioned above also, it’s quite easy to get interrupted or distracted. While you are engrossed at work, you should make sure that no one disturbs or diverts your attention from what you are doing. Therefore, it’s also a good idea to plan your interruptions in advance, so that you can work while you work and play while you play. After all, taking a break is also vital for recharging your batteries. Consult your time sheet and look for your sluggish hours. Take a brisk walk or take a break with some techo (headphone required) if necessary… whatever helps you regroup.
- Keep Track of Your Progress The best thing about keeping a to-do list is that you get to scratch things off of it. Since you’ve prioritized the tasks of your day, make sure you are crossing off the high ranked ones and not just skipping ahead to the easy stuff. Balance is key and helps keep you motivated. Keeping track of the completed tasks and what needs to be done next is essential for maximizing your workday productivity.
How do you schedule your day for making the most of your time while at work? Please feel free to share your own opinions and thoughts.
By Susan Delly
December 28, 2012
Email Marketing is a powerful tool that, when used right, can be an easily affordable way to keep in touch with your clients and create a loyal fan base. There are many different strategies associated with email marketing however so we’ve gotten in touch with some experts at Listrak to answer some basic questions and share information that was gathered by their recent study.
Q&A with Ross Kramer, CEO of Listrak
ZippyCart: Hello Ross, welcome to ZippyCart’s eCommerce News. We love the new study you’ve put out about email marketing and were hoping you could give us some insight on the ways it can benefit the eMerchants who come to our blog for the latest eCom news.
Ross: The main takeaway from the study is that consumers are engaging with emails from online retailers, so email marketing is still extremely effective. The study found that emails that had very targeted subject lines prompted the consumer to open the email. Case in point, if you’re an eMerchant, one of the most cost-effective ways to engage your consumer is by launching email marketing campaigns that have targeted subject lines, call-to-action messages, effective landing pages, and are consistent across channels. It’s also more effective when eMerchants segment their audience by purchase habits and lastly, remind shoppers to purchase.
ZippyCart: With your deep understanding of email marketing, in what ways do you feel it benefits the small to medium online business owner?
Ross: Email marketing is beneficial to any kind of business, large or small, given that it is a cost-effective way to reach and engage consumers. For an SMB, email marketing is a solid solution for engaging consumers with your e-commerce site given that it saves employees time from having to push marketing campaigns across channels manually. One person can manage an email marketing campaign easily across an automated platform, which works in favor of SMBs looking for a cost and time effective way to get consumers to visit their sites.
ZippyCart: What are the different types of email marketing available for today’s eMerchants?
Ross: There are various types of email marketing strategies for today’s eMerchants. Some of the most well-known and effective strategies and solutions include acquisition, re-engagement series, behavioral targeting, shopping cart abandonment, transactional, welcome series, mobile engagement, post purchase and modal acquisition.
ZippyCart: Because re-engagement is more cost effective than acquisition, what strategy would you recommend for eMerchants who are looking to reconnect with inactive customers and increase sales thru their existing client base?
Ross: eMerchants that are looking to reconnect with inactive customers should look into launching a win-back campaign. These campaigns will typically have a headline similar to “we miss you” and will then include some sort of deal or discount, or product recommendations based on past order history. At Listrak, we’ve found that these win-back campaigns have a 50 percent high click-through rate than batch-and-blast email campaigns. Additionally, they average a 5 percent conversion rate.
ZippyCart: Could you go over some of the key results from your study?
Ross: The study surveyed more than 2,000 U.S. adults ages 18+ on how they react to email marketing. The study found that email marketing remains one of the best ways to communicate with and convert online shoppers with 97 percent of consumers receiving emails from retailers, and more 80 percent open those emails. Additionally, we found that consumers are more likely to open an email that is targeted to them specifically, than generic emails. For instance, more than half (53%) of consumers who open emails from retailers indicated that they open emails with subject lines showcasing a special offer.
Since it’s clear that email marketing is an eCom trend that has been growing steadily and is here to stay, start looking into your business model to discover which strategy would best help you retain customers and increase revenue for your online business.
Are you already using email marketing? If so… we’d love to hear your experience in the comments below!
Online Shopping can help consumers avoid stress in this 2012 holiday season!
By Susan Delly
November 14, 2012
The holidays are right around the corner which means holiday shopping is revving up for another busy season. OH NO!!! For many people, this type of extreme buying is burdened by stress and indecision (when it should be a fun celebration of friends and family). Because of this stress, consumers are flocking to the internet for their holiday shopping needs. Shopping online is associated with convenience and saving money but there are other tools of the online shopping world that will help to make your 2012 holiday shopping spree as stress-free as possible. (Online store owners take note… your online store should offer some, if not all of these features to your holiday shoppers!)
Here are a few of my favorite things… err, favorite holiday shopping features, I mean.
- Customer Reviews
I <3 customer reviews. They are the best tool for determining the quality and function of a product before we buy it. If you have a smart phone, you can look up reviews while shopping brick-n-mortar stores but they’re especially helpful when shopping online because you do not get the chance to see products in real life before you purchase (and possibly ship) them. Online stores that offer customer reviews not only help their customer base but they also increase content for their site, making it more SEO friendly.
- Product Recommendations
Sometimes you can still be unsure of a product, even when it has glowing reviews. If the site you’re shopping has product recommendations on the side, however, you can quickly and easily move from one similar product to the next instead of leaving that website and going to another. Product recommendations help indecisive buyers by recommending other like items. This either strengthens a positive opinion of the 1st product or helps you move on to the next. Keeping shoppers on your site instead of losing them to another leads to increased sales for eMerchants, far and wide!
- Online Wish Lists
Ahh, wish lists, the virtual dream registry. When I discover a friend has a wish list going on their favorite web shop, I feel like I’ve found the pot’o’gold at the end of the rainbow. Wishlists ensure that I pick something they like and it lets me shop around in their favorites for something that I would like to send them, as well. It’s a win-win situation. Now… how do we get all of our friends and family to make them before the holidays?
- Online Gift Certificates
The safety of an online gift certificate is appealing to many. It’s easy to buy, you don’t have to wrap it and… most people love getting them. They’ve become so easy that nowadays, you don’t even have to buy a card for one; instead, you can send it by email! Emailed gift certificates make sure that they recipient gets it on time (even if you bought it late), and ensures that they can’t lose it before they spend it (like I did a million times with cards of the past). Other than the fact that they’re a little boring, there’s really no downside to an online gift card.
Donate a goat in someone’s name… it helps a family in poverty feed themselves and charity is perfect for someone who has everything!
What on EARTH do you get for the person who has everything? Or for your crunchy friends who hate consumerism? Or for your friends with ‘causes’? Taking the altruistic approach to holiday cheer is the best way for many and a great way to share the spirit of the holiday in a kind way. My personal favorite site is Kiva but it was pretty awesome when my parents donated a goat to a family in S. America for my last birthday present! Other great charities include our SF local, Help a Mother Out, and Charity Choice, the site that allows you to set an amount and have your giftee pick their own charity out of a list of over 250!
Shopping online for the holidays has definitely opened up a way to avoid the holiday rush, crowds and crazy drivers. Keep these features on the top of your brain so you can utilize them to find the best possible gifts for your friends, loved ones or the local charity Christmas tree! And if you’re an eMerchant as well as a holiday shopper, make sure your eCommerce solution software is optimized with some of these great features.
By Susan Delly
November 8, 2012
In today’s competitive market, it’s important for your brand to be noticed and remembered, as long as it’s in a good way. The proper website can help get the attention you deserve by attracting customers, increasing revenue and putting organic, word of mouth talk out about your company. This type of website building is harder than it may seem, however, as every store will have different needs and different paths to success. Like many other features in eCommerce, everything depends on your target audience as every different set of consumers will have different needs and wants. That being said, after you determine your ideal customer grouping, there are some standard features that will help you make sure your business stands out from the rest!
- A Professional Design– Making sure your website looks good at first glance can turn a browser into a shopper and instill a sense of trust. To do this, you’ll need professionally designed templates or a web designer. One of the worst things to encounter when shopping online is a site that looks sketchy or like it was built in the Miami Vice days. If the web shop owner doesn’t care enough to keep their look and feel up-to-date… how can we trust that they are reliable and keep their security up-to-date?! One of the top reasons for a high bounce rate, shopping cart abandonment and low revenue is an ugly, untrustworthy looking site. This is an easy fix though as most hosted eCommerce solutions software offers free, built-in themes and templates that are professionally designed.
CoreCommerce eCommerce software offers many free, professionally designed themes!
- A Clean, Easy-to-Navigate Page Layout – Enough cannot be said about making sure your page has an uncomplicated layout. Products and relevant information should be easy to search for and the shopping cart check-out process should alwaysbe quick and uncomplicated. Never require registration to complete a purchase. Instead, go for an onsite, 1-page check-out system and make sure you offer many payment options; this includes all major credit cards, PayPal and even possibly, Amazon Checkout! If a shopper has a hard time finding the products they want or finds themselves in a lengthy sales process that asks too many questions, they are likely to leave your site with no sale completion.
Nexternal‘s eCommerce solution offers a unique and extremely user-friendly On-Screen shopping cart. The cart automatically totals a purchase while you shop, reducing cart abandonment.
- Sales and Promo – Who’s guilty of price shopping? And when you find a great deal on a trustworthy site, do you share it with your friends? Most people are more likely to shop and return to sites that offer good pricing and sales events. Yes, almost everyone likes a good deal and luckily, nowadays there are many ways of delivering one. You can promote coupon codes, free shipping, buy-one-get-one-free, and other incentives through outlets such as email, blogs, and social media. If you set your store up with quality and customer needs in mind, you will drive traffic to your site with the sales and promotions you offer. Once the traffic is there, a clear call to action is important to ensure easy navigation. A call to action is usually a clickable button that draws user attention and encourages them to complete an action such as BUY NOW, READ MORE or REGISTER HERE. Be sure to place them well and not overuse call of action buttons as they can make a site appear gimmicky, if used wrong.
- An Interesting Logo – Since the beginning of commerce, kings and merchants alike have used methods such as seals, cattle brands, coins, statues, and other markings, in the same way that we use them today… as name or brand recognition. Logos can provide immediate insight on what a company is about and give impressions of a brand’s style at a glance. Best of all… logos lead to product recognition in a similar way that a catchy advertising song or motto would. Because of this, it’s important to put some time into your logo and take advantage of all the branding opportunities it provides. Think about what works for your target audience and create your logo around them, with an eye on the future. We recommend that you seek professional guidance and even hire a graphic designer to create your logo. After all, it’ll prove to be a major part of your brand recognition.
Top solutions like AShop Commerce can design custom logos for your online shop. Great logos are not cheap but are 100% worth the investment as they provide your company branding.
Pulling together a website is a complicated process that can be simplified with the help of hosted eCommerce solutions software. Following these tips can help you stand out from the competition, be remembered and shared by your audience, and will put you on your way to becoming the next trend.
By Susan D
October 10, 2012
These days, marketing can make or break an online business so it’s important to pick an eCommerce solution that has a robust set of marketing tools. Every business has different needs, of course, but our ZippyCart team of experts has compiled a list of the general favorite marketing tools of online business owners.
- Social Media Marketing – Social media marketing is a fairly new type of marketing that has taken the eCommerce world by storm. Small business owners can do their own social media promotion and drive visitors to their website for ‘free’ but medium business may want to invest in a social media specialist, as there can be a lot of work involved to reach the full potential. Great social media tools to look for include an RSS subscription, a store blog, ‘Sharing’ and ‘Liking’ products on sites like Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus and Pinterest, and the ability to Sell on Facebook with a free FB application or storefront.
- Mobile Commerce – Having the ability to browse a store through a smartphone is becoming an expectation so today’s eMerchants had better be prepared. It’s best to find be partnered with a shopping cart software that gives you this feature for free in all packages so that you won’t have to worry about extra costs adding up. The opportunity to reach more than 1/3 of the USA population and many others throughout the world can greatly increase your sales. Look for companies who offer free applications that support all smart phones and tablets, including the iPhone, iPad, Android devices and Blackberry.
- Cart Abandonment ReMarketing – Shopping cart abandonment is the Achilles Heel of eCommerce and a huge problem for eMerchants. There are many reasons an online shopper may leave in the middle of a sale so it’s important to have the opportunity to pull them back in with special offers and other incentives. Check the marketing features of any eCommerce solution to make sure they offer cart abandonment remarketing.
- Email Marketing – Occasionally emailing your existing customer base is a great way to keep them informed on any promotions, sales and coupon offers you may be having. Offering these unique perks and incentives is also a great way to encourage customer loyalty and get return customers. The key here is balance… be careful you don’t email too often! Make sure that your shopping cart software offers email marketing or is integrated with a company such as Mail Chimp or Constant Contact.
- Customer Product Reviews – Clients love to read what other buyers have to say about a product they’re considering and reviews are said to help make a final decision for many online shoppers. Moderated customer reviews are great for the online shop, too, as they offer a ton of new content, which helps with SEO and ranking.
- Business Blogs – Another great way to get the word out about new products or promotions is through your store’s blog. Write up some unique content, share it through your social media and watch it drive traffic to your online store. Like customer reviews, a blog is another great way to increase your sites content and improve SEO and ranking.
- Special Offers – Almost everyone loves a good deal so making sure your shopping cart software allows you to feature things such as coupons, buy 1 get 1 free, seasonal promotions, discounts based on total shopping cart sale, and free shipping will help create a sense of urgency and deliver a positive response from your target audience and increase revenue. All of the better quality eCommerce solutions should cover these basics but it’s best to check and be sure of the cart you’re looking at.
It’s easy to understand why these 7 marketing tools rank amongst the top favorite for eCom owners today. No online store should be without them as they make life easier for both the eMerchant and the online shopper!
By Susan D
Sept 24, 2012
There is so much competition in today’s world of shopping cart solutions. With over 300 eCommerce companies to choose from… how does an online merchant know which one will be best for their business needs? Well, here at ZippyCart, we’ve been researching eCommerce solution software all year and have a list of what we consider the top 12 eCommerce solutions of 2012.
Here is a look at the top 12 eCommerce Solutions of 2012, in alphabetical order.
- 3d Cart “Starting an online business has never been easier.”
The team at 3dCart is proud of their design tools and the ease in which their online merchants can set-up a web shop. They offer over 50 website templates and the ability to customize on your own through their HTML & CSS access. They also have a Quick Edit Bar that will speed up the process of building your store and let you see your edits in real-time. 3dCart offers over 25 SEO tools because they feel that Search Engine Optimization is the most important consideration, when building an online store. They also have a feature which allows for different levels of pricing based on your customer grouping. 3dCart is feature rich!
- Amazon Webstore “Put the power of Amazon behind your site.”
Amazon is a huge name in online shopping but some don’t know that they also offer an eCommerce solution for online merchants as well. They offer packages for the individual seller, Small/Medium Business, and Large Businesses. SMB’s can use AmazonWebstore in many ways. They can integrate with Amazon Services to get their product in front of the millions of Amazon customers, they can choose Fulfillment by Amazon and have their shipping needs handled for them, or they can simply put Amazon Prime and Check-out on their existing website.
- AmeriCommerce “Grow With Us”
As one of Inc 5000’s fastest growing companies, the AmeriCommerce team invites all merchants, big and small to partner and grow with them. They are one of the only eCommerce solutions that allow you to manage multiple storefronts with one unified admin panel, making AmeriCommerce unique amongst hundreds of shopping cart software companies. Their CRM (customer relationship management) shopping cart also makes customer and order history, order management and order history a breeze with features like abandoned cart follow-up, mail list management, and automatic confirmation emails.
- AShop Commerce “Selling online is now easy.”
The eCom specialists at AShopCommerce (not to be confused with AshopSoftware) have put a lot of time into building and thought into their SEO and feel that your success is their success. They allow their merchants to sell both physical and downloaded products through a computer or mobile store front. They also provide a solid SEO that features spider friendly URLs, auto HTML & CSS generation, customizable META tags, and auto tag generation.
- Big Commerce “Sell More”
The team at BigCommerce have built one of the most complete eCommerce Solutions that ZippyCart has come across. Their all-in-one solution will host your website, domain name, shopping cart, and more, while providing you with great SEO and a healthy feature set. All of this comes packaged in their fun, easy-to-use control panel! “Fun” might seem like a strange word but they’ve managed to make their system one of the most pleasant places to work!
- Core Commerce “Everything to make your online business click!”
Always a ZippyCart favorite, CoreCommerce stays on top of the trends and latest eCommerce technology. They provide an amazing support team that is always ready to answer questions about their system or full feature list. Their solution offers features such as a built-in blog, strong marketing presence, a mobile storefront, and easy-to-use design customization.
- Fortune 3 “Sell on the web, the right way!”
The shopping cart software provided by Fortune3 provides thousands of features that online merchants need to build, maintain and be successful with their online store. They allow you to sell your products on FaceBook and offer widgets that make social sharing a breeze. They also allow their merchants to keep in touch with their clients through customer reviews, newsletters and email marketing.
- Nexternal “Sell more online than ever before!”
Online business owners who already have an online store may be interested in Nexternal as they specialize in taking an existing storefront and adding it to their system. Their software includes an order management system, a B2B, and a business to customer store. This system allows clients to be separated in to specialized grouping, which makes them one of the few who offer this type of management. The team at Nexternal will take the time to do walk-throughs and address problem areas. They are very careful in taking on your business needs.
- Pinnacle Cart “Build the perfect online store in minutes.”
ZippyCart appreciates all of the work that the PinnacleCart team has put into their software. They’re always a favorite due to their extremely robust feature set and top-notch SEO & marketing. They take on cart abandonment with their unique Drift Marketing and keep customers engaged with features like a built-in blog and customer reviews. Products listed under their system can easily be pushed to eBay, Amazon, Yahoo, Google, PriceGrabber, NextTag, and more. In addition, all of their packages provide 3 ways to sell… a website, mobile store and Facebook storefront
- Shopify “Create your eCommerce store today with Shopify.”
Shopify has long been a heavy hitter for merchants who are seeking a shopping cart solution. Their storefronts usually look great and are built to sell as there are over 100 premium and free design templates to choose. They also allow you to write your website in any language that you want and have shopping cart check-out translations for over 50 languages. Of course to support this, they support currencies and tax rates, as well.
- Shopping Cart Elite “Innovation is how our shopping cart stands out from the rest.”
The team at SCE wants to make sure their stores are always ahead of the competition. They provide features that will spy on competitor pricing and adjust your prices accordingly, and features that will automatically build one way backlinks and drive traffic to your store. In addition, SCE will help you push your products into the Google Base, Ebay, Amazon and Craigslist, making sure you have visibility through many channels.
- Volusion “Open a successful online store.”
Having been around for more than a decade, Volusion is a well-known eCommerce solution that has stood the test of time. Their online stores come with a great product set-up and an integrated one-page checkout that helps buyers complete the sales process and reduce cart abandonment. Other helpful features include daily deals, coupons and discounts, and a wish list for customers.