By Mary Weinstein
May 13, 2013
Every sales quarter, CPC Strategy conducts a study on the top shopping channels, including Google Shopping on seller metrics such as traffic and revenue. For Q1, Google shopping traffic almost doubled.
CPC Strategy’s 2012 Ecommerce Industry Report compares Google Shopping against rival shopping engine Amazon Product Ads. It analyzes the sales data of more than 200 online retailers with a buying power of more than $5 billion.
- Google Shopping conversion rates dropped for the fourth straight quarter, decreasing from 3.0931% in Q4 2011 to 2.4018% in Q4 2012, a YoY decrease of 22.35%.
- In Q4 2011 Google Shopping was sending merchants 79% of the traffic Amazon Product Ads was sending. In Q4 2012, Google Shopping now sends merchants nearly double the traffic that Amazon Product Ads does, 96.08% more.
- Google Shopping was on average 32.77% more cost-effective for merchants during Q3 and Q4 2012 than Amazon Product Ads.
To read more, feel free to head over to this Q4 CSE Rankings article
Google Shopping is a shopping engine which warrants merchant attention. An increase in traffic such as we seen from Q4 2012 to Q1 2013 is just another reminder of how important the paid campaign is for online marketers.
Guest author Mary Weinstein is Content Manager at CPC Strategy, with extensive experience in all things Ecommerce, comparison shopping (CSE) management, Google Shopping and digital marketing. A NY native, Mary spends her time discussing CSE strategy with online merchants, hiking and drinking copious amounts of coffee.
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.
Offering a variety of image tools and great product images will help boost your sales!
By Ricky Tsao
March 27, 2013
Years ago, I was a Planogram team member for a Target. My whole job was to influence the customer’s purchase decisions by placing and displaying products in a certain way. From signage to posters, display shelves and in-store advertising, Target put the utmost care and attention to how products are shown to customers. This tactic is used in all major brick-and-mortar retailers throughout the world, as well as in the e-commerce market.
Image Manpulation Features and Tools
In the e-commerce world, we use product images to influence our customers. Due to their inability to touch, smell, see, and hold a product like you would at a physical retailer, image is the only way an online customer can interact with your product. Because of this limitation, it’s important to make sure your e-commerce solutions software provides a variety of appropriate features and tools that will make your images standout. eMerchants need to make-up for the absence of the real world purchase by giving them every angle and zoom they could possibly want from a product image.
Quality and Size
The size and quality of the image have a direct correlation to how the buyer sees the product. For example, if you are selling chocolate, a hi-def, crisp image of a chocolate will help give the buyer a feel of freshness, quality ingredients, and value. Small blurry pictures will make the buyer feel the chocolates are stale, untasty, and boring.
Make sure online shoppers can enlarge the product image they’d like to see.
Naturally, a high quality image have a much higher influence to the buyer than smaller low quality images. Therefore, make sure the e-commerce software you are using have options to show large, hi-def quality images. It should provide ways for you to organize your products, display thumbnails, and let your customers see enlarged high resolution images.
Say you have a very simple product, such as a book. Do we put on a gleaming photo of the book and consider it done? No. You want to have different ways for your customers to see your product. Just like in the physical world, you want your e-commerce software to offer options to have multipe image perspective of your product. A good way to show off the many perspectives of your book is to have photos for front cover, back cover, and numerous inside pages. If you are to sell clothing, you should have three or more photos showing the front, back, and side. It will also be helpful to let the customer see different colors. Bottom line: always give your customers multiple perspectives to see the product in order to simulate reality. The e-commerce software you are using should have features to let you display different perspectives of your product.
Image tools help increase sales!
In order to push the limit on simulating reality, we use technology to add features such as rotation, zoom and magnification. For example, if you are to sell electronics such as a laptop or camera, an image rotation will be helpful.
Zooming in let’s the customer see product details.
If you are to sell clothing, magnification will be perfect so it can show the fabric in detail. Other options such as side by side comparison would also be ideal in a clothing e-commerce site. The bottom line is to recreate the shopping experience as if the customer is at the retail store physically.
We list below some minimal image manipulation features your e-commerce software should provide:
- Supports image magnify, zoom, lightbox, and enlarge
- Generates thumbnails and catalog page images automatically
- Ability to resize images on the fly
- Control image placement on product and catalog pages
- Create photo galleries
- Display / hide images with a mouse click
Because you have many high quality images and image manipulation features, you need to make sure your e-commerce hosting solution can serve data fast. The options available out there is Virtual hosting vs Dedicated hosting.
Most small to medium-sized sites use virtual hosting, where a number of Web sites reside on the same server. Large and/or busy sites usually can’t share server space because the volume of Web traffic from many sites would quickly overwhelm the server. If your current hosting solution contacts you about your wesite being too busy, look for an e-commerce solution that offers dedicated hosting.
E-commerce is serious business with heavy hitting competitors so you need every advantage in encouraging your customers to purchase. One of the best ways is to provide image features that can help your customers see the product. Make sure the e-commerce software you are using has the appropriate tools and features to show off your specific product line. By using your e-commerce software’s image manipulation tools, you can fully engage your users to see and feel your product, leading to increased revenue and profit for your company.
Remarketing targets online shoppers based on traits such as demographics, purchase history, and viewing history.
By Ricky Tsao
March 20, 2013
A lot of small to medium businesses consider paid advertising for their online marketing purposes. Typically, an SMB would use a service like Google AdWords. However, the reality is that it can cost a lot to get enough conversions (number of sales, or goals, divided by visits) so you may want to look at other options if you’re just getting started.
Depending on your niche market, it may be very expensive to pay for keywords that fit your online business. If you can’t pay the high prices required, the volume of search turnout can be very low, making it a bad marketing investment. In order to compete with similar and more established eCommerce stores in the same market, you may have to be more creative.
This is where Google Analytics Remarketing strategy comes in. Remarketing is a behavior-targeted feature that targets consumers based on traits such as demographics, purchase history, viewing history, and other second-order activities. This serves to increase conversion rates and sales. In other words, it let advertisers display their ads on the Google Content Network, to users who have already visited their website. The main goal is to serve these ads to many of these users because they already have an interest in the product or service that the advertisers are offering. The chances of an online shopper clicking on your ad and converting are much higher given their previous interest in visiting the advertiser’s site.
How it works
The key component that makes remarketing a success is that your target audience has already shown interest in your product or brand and has visited your site. When they do, a cookie file will be put onto their browser, which adds them to a re-marketing list. When they visit other web pages where Google ads are used, your ad campaign will appear on those designated Google ad sections. So say you sell jeans. If a customer were to visit your web store, ‘Zippy Jeans’, they’d be cookied based on what they browsed or items that were added to their cart but then abandoned. Later, they Google ‘jeans’ and go to another web page that talks about jeans. If the key words and other information match, your Zippy Jeans ad will appear on their page. This reminds them of your presence, any ad campaigns you have going on, and can increase the connection between you and your customers. It’s branding at its finest.
Yes, you can target your users by the pages they visit. If they mostly visited Zippy Jean’s section on boot-cut dark denims, you can choose to create a re-marketing list based on that preference which targets them specifically. Later, when they visit other e-commerce pages that deal with keywords such as boot-cut or dark denims, once again, your ad will appear.
You can also throw different ads at customer who just browsed a little bit of everything and left quickly. You can track these customers and maybe give them a special online coupon special to entice them in shopping at your store. Buy one get one free? 50% off? It’s up to you. But the strategy is simple; you can track customers and tailor your ads to them through interest-based traits.
Ninety-six percent of site visitors leave and miss the user actions that marketers want them to take. Seventy percent of shoppers abandon their shopping cart without checking out. What if you can literally follow them throughout the internet and entice them to come back to your site? With re-marketing and Google Analytics, you can deliver ads targeted at specific user interests shown during their previous visits to your site. It also let’s you create a variety of unique and precise lists in order to develop more flexible and relevant ad campaigns. From recent visitor lists to abandoned shopping carts, customer locations to sequence of visits, you can follow your customer base throughout the web and entice them to come back. As a result, you turn missed opportunities into new business.
By Kinjal Adeshara
March 11, 2013
“Ecommerce” will continue to be a buzz word in 2013 and while this comes as no surprise, what needs to be seen is what will be the trends that will power this domain. Ecommerce will definitely evolve as it did in the past years but this evolutionary process is going to accelerate.
- More Personalized Services
No, personalized services may not something that is fresh or unique but, this is going to be a continuing popular trend. The focus, however, will be on offering as personalized a product or service as possible. There are new technologies that will monitor and analyze the buying pattern of consumers to bring forth some startling revelations as far as consumers buying decisions are concerned. This will help you personalize the content to suit the specific needs and requirements of your target audience.
- Ecommerce will align with Mcommerce Again this is a trend that we are witnessing, but this alignment will happen far more seamlessly this year. Your site will need to be mobile compliant, that’s a given, but that’s not something that will have you laughing to the bank. What your future buyers will look forward to is a better, more intuitive and highly engaging shopping experience that makes shopping a largely interactive process. They are looking to form a deep connect with the product or service they want to buy and they will expect this from an integration of web and mobility.
- Augmented Reality The adoption of this technology will come of age this year and the years beyond. The first trend that I mentioned was that Ecommerce will become more personal, well it is this technology that will play an important role in bringing this about. So, the next time you are moving through a particular store, don’t be surprised if you start getting information about the store, the various products it has on offer and the various offers on the same; all this, as you keep moving through the different parts of the store. 2013 will be shopping at its finest yet.
- Cross Channel Targeting of the Same Consumer Right, you have a product and you believe that an SEO campaign is the best fit, as far as its online promotion is concerned. Well, while SEO is important, this kind of thinking will have competition in 2013 as you will be forced to target your consumer through various marketing channels. Yes, it will be the same consumer, but you will be keeping at him, from all directions. So, yes, there will be an SEO campaign that will be launched, but also of importance will be a presence on social media, and you of course wouldn’t want to miss out on targeting him through his mobile device. Integrated marketing campaigns will be the name of the game.
- More focus on Social Network Integration Can’t miss out on this one can we? There will be more and better social network integration than ever before. As we keep using social media for marketing our products and services, we are getting better and better at it. Social media channels like Facebook and Twitter keep getting better and better and new ones like Pinterest allow us to explore new avenues for establishing a social media footprint for business benefit. The integration of social media with an Ecommerce solution will become even more intensive and incisive in 2013. What’s more, with the plethora of options on hand, you will be hard pressed to choose the one that suits your needs and requirements best
- Customization of Products and Services – Consumer in Charge Heard about ‘Web-to-Print’, ‘Design your own T-shirt’ etc.? These are all examples of the kind of solutions that put the consumer in charge of the designing and customization process of the product that he/she wants to buy. Yes, customization was, is and will always be important to sell products and services, but now the merchant will increasingly allow the target consumers to tailor make the product, as per their specifications. Ecommerce as its stands will never be the same again.
- Content What you say, will become even more important this year. As competition increases and the need for accurate information become even more paramount, the significance of content will keep getting bigger and bigger. The presentation of your content in terms of form, style, tone and facts will decide whether the sales of your products and/or services increase or remain stagnant or for that matter go down.
- Think Global but Go Local Even if you are targeting a global market, the focus will still be on thinking ‘local’. Niche oriented Ecommerce will rule as people will keep looking for products and services through local search. So, even an enterprise level organization will need to ensure that its marketing is focused on specific locations/regions; if they want they can target different markets with different campaigns, with each campaign keeping in mind the needs, interests, preferences and buying behavior of the local population.
- Responsive Ecommerce You have heard of responsive design (it will be huge in 2013), but as an online business owner, what you also need to take note of is responsive Ecommerce. All eMerchants will need to quickly respond to the needs of their target consumers and if they cannot, they will need to adapt to the changing demands of the market to respond as their consumers expect them to.
- Keep it Simple At the end of the day, the lesser the complications, the better you can control a particular process. So, Ecommerce will become more compartmentalized, where merchants and marketers will not try and do a lot of things, but will want to do a few of the things perfectly. As can be imagined, each aspect of Ecommerce is going to be consumer focused and it’s upon the merchants to identify which is that collection of strategies that will help them zero in on a profit generating Ecommerce campaign.
Guest author Kinjal Adeshara is a web enthusiastic and blogger who interested in all things, software, web design especially ecommerce website development. She is also work with Rightway Solution which is offshore Software Development Company. She loved to write articles and shares new, exciting and informative content with users.
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.
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 Matt DeLong, CEO of CoreCommerce
Feb 25, 2013
Google prefers responsive design sites because it “crawls” the site more efficiently and helps keep the site’s information up to date.
The use of tablets or smartphones to surf online has been a driving force for a movement in web development called responsive design. Simply put, responsive design is a single web design that adapts itself to multiple screen sizes, no matter which type of device, tablet or smartphone is used. According to ComScore, the number of mobile internet users is expected to grow rapidly over the next few years, to a projected 1.9 billion in 2015. That is a lot of potential customers with a variety of devices for your website to accommodate!
Before responsive design, there were separate, multiple “mobile optimized” versions of your online store for desktop, tablet or smartphone, unlike responsive design which uses the same version of your store for all devices. Most online stores would automatically detect what kind of device you were using to access the site to tell whether to display the mobile or desktop version of an online store. Many websites are still “mobile optimized” but the movement towards responsive design is growing fast.
So why make the transition from mobile optimized stores to responsive design? The main benefit of using responsive web design is that you no longer have to manage multiple versions of your online store. With responsive web design, CSS3 media-selectors can be used to define min-width & max-width rules for handling portrait and landscape views, regardless of how your customers access your online store. Not only that but Google prefers responsive design sites because it “crawls” the site more efficiently and helps keep the site’s information up to date.
Another reason to design responsively is to allow for a site to be be easily adaptable to ever changing phone and tablet sizes now and in the future. Every time a new device is introduced, you won’t need to rethink how your store displays or how that translates on a potential customer’s tablet or smartphone, saving time and money in the long run. Ultimately, the goal of responsive design for a web based business to ensure an enjoyable experience for the customer, no matter what kind of device they’re using.
If you are developing your website, remember that it’s much easier to build a responsive site from the start versus attempting to retrofit a non-responsive or “mobile optimized” store to make it responsive. This year will be an interesting year in e-commerce, as mobile devices are slated to take over PCs as the dominant platform and online sales continue to grow. Good luck as you develop your responsive site!
Guest author Matt DeLong is the CEO and founder of SumEffect Software, Inc., the developers of e-commerce shopping cart, CoreCommerce. He has 15 years of experience with programming and software and started Sum Effect Software in 2001 when he created Digishop. When Matt isn’t working on cool new features or updates for CoreCommerce, he enjoys racing sailing boats and watching movies with his family.
By Sarah Brooks
February 4, 2013
People use the internet for almost everything nowadays, which makes a business’s online reputation very important!
People use the internet for literally everything nowadays – whether to look up a recipe, find an old classmate, diagnose your own illness, or gather information on a business.
If you’re a business, managing your online reputation is crucial to your success. If you’re a small company and think you don’t need an internet presence, think again. If a company’s not online, customers will turn to its competitors. If it’s online but has a bad reputation, customers will once again turn to its competitors.
For these reasons and more, managing your online reputation is something that needs to be done to succeed in today’s world.
A good online reputation helps you gain customers
Having a good online reputation will most definitely help you gain customers. Potential customers will do their research – they’ll look at your company website and read your reviews, along with the websites and reviews of your competitors. If you have a well-built, engaging website and plenty of positive reviews, these potential customers will more than likely become actual customers.
The key to building a good online reputation is getting your customers to trust you. If they trust you, they will not only do business with you but they will tell their friends and continue coming back for more.
Tips for having a good online reputation:
- Respond to negative reviews. View negative reviews as a way to improve your company. Seek to fix the problem and get back to the customer who left the negative review. Hopefully, the customer will consider doing business with you again because you strived to meet their needs.
- Ask good customers to write reviews. Get in the habit of asking satisfied customers to write a review for you online. They can submit reviews directly onto your company’s website or on third-party websites, as well.
- Be a good business. The best way to get a good online reputation is to have a good reputation in general. Always seek to meet your customers’ needs and always be willing to improve. In other words, simply show you care.
A bad online reputation makes you lose customers
A surefire way to lose customers and possibly go out of business is to have a bad online reputation. If all of your reviews are negative, customers will guaranteed go elsewhere. If you don’t have a website or if it’s not user-friendly, again, customers will go elsewhere.
Did you know – if a customer has a good experience, they will tell only a few people, but if they have a bad experience they will tell 30! They will also be more inclined to write a negative review online.
Tips to restoring your online reputation:
- Utilize all forms of social media. In addition to a company website, create a company Facebook page, a Twitter account, and a LinkedIn page. When potential customers Google your company, all of these accounts should show up, allowing the person to see exactly what it is you do.
- Learn the cause of the problems. There must be reasons for all the negativity – learn what they are and attack the problems head-on.
- Ask customers how you can improve. Remember that without the customer, you wouldn’t have a business. Continually conduct surveys or ask them directly how you can improve, and follow through.
- Be patient. When it comes to improving your online reputation, don’t expect a miracle to happen overnight. It can take a minimum of a few months to get your reputation where it needs to be.
Most importantly, remember to simply be a good business. If your customers trust you and feel that you care, you will succeed.
Sarah Brooks is a freelance writer covering a wide variety of topics from online business reputation to personal finance.
By Laura Burkley
January 28, 2013
Vacations keep us sane. Without unplugging every once in a while, people can get burned out no matter how much they love their jobs. Yes, even small business owners.
Everyone needs a change of scenery, whether it’s during the holidays or a heat wave. While it might be unfathomable for you to leave your company in even the most capable hands, it must be done. Just once a year, if necessary.
The fortunate part of owning an online business is that you’re always a click away. Well, a click away if you have a smartphone or laptop and wireless Internet. Unplugging completely for an extended period of time might not be feasible, but here are a few tips that can help you unwind but not unravel.
Buy a calling card
A calling card or international SIM card allows calling the office easier on the bank account. Google Voice is one alternative where the phone number rings through the cell phone, and it’s one of the least expensive options.
With an online business, cameras that hook up the computer are a must-have. On a regular basis, you’re able to have face-to-face conferences with your clients when you can’t physically be there. On vacation, you can check in with your staff. Skype can be a mobile or desktop app that connects over Wi-Fi. One tip to remember: Set your phone to airplane mode (even on the ground) to avoid international roaming charges. Skype also has screen-sharing capabilities.
It’s impossible to have every document on-hand. No laptop has that much storage space, and it’s easy to lose jump drives. Box.net gives you access to digital content online using a file and folder system. There is an app for Android and Apple smartphones, as well.
LogMeIn is another remote access program and is perfect for small businesses. Files can be securely accessed through a computer and wireless connection. LogMeIn Ignition is the companion product that allows access from a smartphone.
Social networking sites are an online business’s lifeline to current and potential clients. The free version of SocialOomph offers a way to schedule tweets. The Pro version, which carries a fee, allows you to schedule Facebook posts, monitor Twitter @mentions, Facebook wall posts, blog comments, and more.
Hootsuite is another program that enables you to schedule posts for Twitter and Facebook and monitor posts both on the computer and as a mobile app. Similarly to SocialOomph, the paid version boasts more capabilities.
You’ve Got Mail
For many entrepreneurs, the deliveries don’t stop while you’re away. Delivery Status touch for the iPhone and iPad tracks packages from companies, including UPS, FedEx, USPS, DHL, Canada Post, Royal Mail, and more. Never be caught in the dark when a client emails or calls to ask when a package will arrive.
As technology evolves, the world seems to get smaller and smaller. As an online business owner, having the capabilities to keep your business running smoothly is paramount to your success and to avoiding burnout. Whether it’s a business trip or a vacation, give your customers, your staff, and yourself the tools to stay the course with the company.
Laura Burkey is a freelancer who has visited numerous cities including Madrid and Rome, but she has never stayed in a Waikiki hotel.
By Sarah Brooks
Jan 21, 2013
Unique ways to get your business out there
Marketing used to be easy. It used to be simple. There were essentially three ways to go about it – placing your ad in a newspaper or magazine, picking up the phone and calling potential clients, or good ol’ fashioned face-to-face communication.
Now, we’re living in a digital world. Marketing has become so complicated that most companies, even smaller ones, have to hire experts to do the job. The media is no longer just print and telemarketing. It’s a complicated minefield of both multimedia and social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, and online ad campaigns.
Let’s take a look at some of the best ways you can market your business in today’s digital world:
Pinterest recently hit 10 million unique monthly visitors and continues to grow faster than any other independent site in history. Utilize this! It’s a free way to get your business known and recognized. Ways to market yourself via Pinterest include pinning your videos (like “how to” educational videos), creating an “events” board to showcase your guest speakers (who will also re-pin your pin), networking with other businesses similar to your own, and creating visuals that link back to your website or blog.
Create a Facebook page
Create a Facebook page specifically for your business and update it regularly. Facebook is a powerful tool for marketing your business and will create incredible results if you put forth a good amount of time and effort. Post pictures regularly, update your followers on any upcoming events or products, and always respond to emails and questions in a timely manner. You can also pay to use Facebook Ads to help bring in new customers.
Always follow up
Following up with customers may not seem like a way to market, but it can be very effective if you’re consistent with it. Always call or email your customers a few weeks after they’ve made a purchase to make sure they’re satisfied. First, this shows strong customer skills and a genuine care for your customers and business. Second, it puts your company back in the mind of your customer. Whether they buy another product from you or pass your company information on to a friend, you’re creating new business by simply following up.
A webinar is a business-related seminar conducted via the internet. Since they’re free to host, don’t charge potential customers to attend. Feature guest speakers, valuable information about your business, and something that will draw the potential customers in, like a “how to” guide. Host webinars often so customers will visit your site regularly. If possible, conduct them daily.
If your business can afford to, it’s always good to hire the help of professionals to ensure successful marketing techniques are in place. Companies like Vidicom use branded video content to get your brand talked about in conversation. They specialize in satellite media tours, web media tours, branded video distribution, and public service announcements.
Continually anticipate change
No longer can businesses expect to do the same things to continue to grow their sales. Always stay up-to-date on effective marketing strategies and continually change and offer your customers new and improved products. Anticipate change and take action immediately. If you wait to take action until your sales decline, it’s too late.
Remember, the best and most effective way to market your business is by staying in the game.
Guest author Sarah Brooks is a freelance writer providing information on a variety of companies and subjects such as Vidicom, personal finance, and marketing strategies.
By Kelly Ford
January 14, 2013
According to recent research by SundaySky, online video marketing and personalized customer strategy are safe trends for 2013!
The last 12 months have been pivotal for the US online video industry. The following State of Video in E-Commerce infographic is a compilation of US online video industry key trends and metrics, as well as outlook and perspective for 2013. The collective findings and data shared in this report are sourced from industry leaders and experts, specifically Adap.tv, comScore, eMarketer, Forrester, Nielsen, the Interactive Advertising Bureau, Pew Internet, and SundaySky’s forthcoming 2013 SmartVideo Index.
- · Online video consumption shows record-breaking numbers of content videos being watched and video ads viewed
- · Personally relevant video foster higher engagement
- · Video advertising market recognized ROI, and hence, increases spending
- · Mobile video viewing reaches an all-time high, and is forecasted for continued growth
- · Use of video among online retailers enriches on-site experience for visitors
- · 2013 online video trends include personalized customer experience and engagement strategies
Guest blogger Kelly Ford, Vice President of Marketing, SundaySky Bio:
A product of both established and emerging organizations, Kelly is a technology marketer and optimist who has built a 18-year career on a passion for breaking new ground. She comes to SundaySky from Operative Media, where, as Senior Vice President of Marketing, she led initiatives to establish and scale the company as the leader in advertising business management, including the acquisition and integration of its primary competitor. Prior to Operative, Kelly headed marketing for LivePerson, leading go-to-market and demand generation initiatives that resulted in 85 percent revenue growth during her tenure. Kelly also previously held senior management roles at Oriel, Groove Networks (now Microsoft) and IBM.
As Vice President of Marketing, Ford sets and executes strategies that build presence and pipeline for SundaySky, and ensure SmartVideo category leadership. Kelly received a Bachelor of Arts in Communication from Michigan State University.
By Stanley Harper
January 14, 2013
A year later, the Panda update is still hurting legitimate eCom businesses.
A year later… many ecommerce websites are still suffering.
Google released the Panda update back in February 2011 and this was an attempt by the search engine to get rid of web spam and link farms. However, in its aftermath, a huge majority of those hit, apart from the link farms were legitimate ecommerce websites. Largely, it was because of the duplicated nature most ecommerce platforms were designed which made them susceptible to the changes in the Google algorithms.
These platforms give ecommerce sites so many pages which offer nothing new, valuable or unique. These were some of the main reasons ecommerce sites lost up to 90% of their search traffic when the Panda was rolled out. If your site was hit by the Panda update, the following are some of the things you can do to recover your rankings.
Adding content to product pages
The Panda update targeted or devalued pages that had thin content. Most product pages on ecommerce sites have no content and if they have, then the content is mere product photos. There are different ways to add content to product pages and one of the most effective one is writing product reviews for product pages. As long as the content you add to each product page is unique and useful , the page can regain the rankings fast.
Duplicate content checker
This is a great instrument you can use, such as PlagSpotter, to check for duplicate content on your website to ensure it’s not blacklisted by Google. This site has a tool that will enable you determine the health of your ecommerce website and devise the means to save it from the Panda update.
Using variations to cut the number of product pages
The number of valueless pages on many ecommerce platforms is often high and as a ecommerce SEO, you can decide to reduce these pages. Congregating similar pages in broader categories is one way you can employ to reduce the number of similar pages. Having a rolling cat with different collectible products on the same page can also help you improve performance, conversions and sales on the page.
Removing poorly performing pages
Naturally, the Google Panda update hated so many pages on the website. If you have an ecommerce website with products that are not performing or getting attention, the Panda also feels they are useless. The best way to deal with these pages is to look at them in the main dashboard of the Google analytics and removing. This will leave your site with pages that are valuable and hence boost online presence and performance.
Removing product pages
Product pages are some of the worst pages on the ecommerce website because in most cases, they are duplicates or add no value to the searchers. This means that all the shallow pages are reduced or at least removed from the website to pave way for the valuable, sharable and performing pages.
No index tag on the product pages
The other way of dealing with negative product pages is by protecting them from the Google index. These ones can be shielded from indexing with the no index tag on the top pages.
Google ranking tips
- Innovating with the site links options on the Google AdWords is another creative way to leverage your optimization. This feature is rather new and as a newbie, you can gain tremendously by tapping more into this for online success and to sell more.
- Explore every content source you can find. Whether its Google news, images, videos, etc. ensure your website appears in some of the site links for news on a regular basis because Google has increased indexing for news articles and posts.
- If you want to rank highly in Google, it’s best if you can keep up as a member if the Google product family. Google Plus, Google merchant center are just some of the best places to start to rank high in Google and get more success.
- Get social because nowadays, every business needs a social handle whether it’s Facebook, Twitter or Google Plus. There are more related, custom search results than they were before.
Guest author Stanley Harper is a freelance writer, loves writng SEO tips and tricks.
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