Pinterest will continue to be a powerful marketing tool in 2013.
By Kim Willington
January 7, 2013
Pinterest is one of the fastest-growing social-networking sites, and it has quickly become the third largest social network. The site is responsible for more referral traffic than LinkedIn, YouTube and Google+ combined.
It is plain to see how much marketing potential the site offers for online businesses and particularly e-commerce sites. Learning how to tap into that potential can help you to drive sales and possibly even take your business to the next level.
Here are a few ways that you can use Pinterest to drive your e-commerce sales:
- Take Amazing Photos Pinterest is a visual site. The chief function of the site is to create a visual pin board of websites and ideas that users want to bookmark. The most visually stunning and interesting photos are the ones that are pinned and re-pinned.
Improve your chances of getting your photos shared by taking the time to take really amazing photos of your products. The more unique and the more compelling the photos are, the greater the chance that they will be shared on the site. The more your photos are shared, the greater the chance that users will follow the link through to your site, and the greater the chance that they will buy your products.
- Add a ‘Pin It’ Button to Your Items Make it easy for your site visitors to share your content on Pinterest by adding a “pin it” button to all your items. This subtle call to action will increase the likelihood that users will pin your items, which will get you more exposure on the site. The more items you have pinned to the site, the more likely users are to re-pin your content. The more your content is re-pinned, the more visitors you are likely to get to your site, and the more sales you are likely to get. Simply encouraging your users to share your content by adding this subtle visual nudge to your site can help you get more exposure on Pinterest, which feeds a positive marketing cycle that can lead to more sales.
- Pin Your Own Items Take charge of what is shared on Pinterest by pinning some of your own best products. By doing so, you can also optimize your pins with keywords and compelling descriptions. Pinterest has also added a feature whereby you can mark your pins as gifts and can include a banner over the picture that shows the price.Choose some of your best items, and pin them in a slow and steady trickle so that you regularly appear in your followers’ news feeds. Pinning all your content in a single burst can create spam that will turn away your followers.
- Create Boards with Complementary Products Pinning too much of your own content can make you seem overly self-promotional, which can turn away your followers and cause you to lose sales. You can diversify and share content that is both useful to your readers and benefits you.
You can do this by create pin boards that feature complementary products. For example, if you sell record players, you can create boards of your favorite albums by genre or era. If you sell women’s jeans, you can create boards of your favorite jewelry, handbags and shoes. These boards may not directly sell your products, but they will give users more reason to follow you, and while they are looking at some of this complementary boards, they may also take a look at your products and even buy a few of them.
- Create Boards that Reflect Your Style Maybe what you sell doesn’t have a lot of natural complementary products. For example, if you sell acoustic guitars, there isn’t much else that goes with them except other guitars or guitar picks and cases. That limits your possibilities for a lot of boards.
What you can do instead is create boards that reflect your company’s style and brand. So if you sell acoustic guitars, you may create boards that show off your favorite street styles, ideas for mixed cocktails, rockstar home design, jewelry, and more. Again, your additional boards may get more followers, which could then learn more about your products and even buy them.
Pinterest is a great tool for marketing your e-commerce site. Use these tips and you can drive more traffic and more sales.
Do you use Pinterest to market your e-commerce site? Share your tips for success in the comments!
Guest author Kim Willington is a freelance writer and researcher for Helpdesksoftware.org. In her spare time, she enjoys antiquing and taking long walks with her retriever, Spencer.
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!
What eCom trends will continue into 2013?!
By the ZippyCart content team
December 12, 2012
There are two ways to look at the rapid growth of ecommerce. On one hand, it allows online entrepreneurs the opportunity to make big profits. On the other, it has the potential to send brick-and-mortar businesses to the poor house. Hopefully, you fall into the first category and are getting the most out of your ecommerce business.
To achieve success with your web-based retail business, you must keep your eyes and ears open so that you don’t miss out on the up and coming in ecommerce. By keeping a close watch on these latest trends, you can be in a better position to develop an ecommerce business strategy that really works for you.
So, let’s check out where the online shopping industry is headed by discussing some of the hottest ecommerce trends for the year 2013.
The ecommerce industry has been hugely impacted by the ever growing usage of smartphones and tablets so in 2013, more than ever before, it’s going to be vital that your ecom storefront is properly optimized for mobile viewing and sales. A high percentage of mobile device users (as much as 80%) access the internet via their mobile devices (smartphones and tablets). If you want to achieve success with your ecommerce business, you must realize that optimizing your online store for mobile devices is unavoidable.
Another trend that is not going anywhere but will only continue to grow in the ecom world is social media. No matter what niche you cater to, it’s almost impossible to beat out the competition without actively participating at social media platforms like Google+, Facebook and Twitter. Buyers spend a lot of their time on social networks and this time overlaps with their online shopping. Social media sites help them conduct required research and gather the required information. In addition, businesses that have embraced social media are seen as more trustworthy and credible sources for buying products.
Social media has revolutionized the way people search for brands or products online and make purchases. If you don’t embrace social media yet or include it into your overall online marketing plan, you’ll be missing out on a great way to connect with your target audience and make sales.
User-Friendliness of an Online Store
Shoppers want convenience, whether they’re in a mall or shopping online. Nobody wants to walk in circles while trying to find the perfect accessory, nor do they want to get frustrated when searching for items online. Whether it’s about navigational structure of your webshop, accepting payments from different channels, or the checkout process, your online store should always provide users with flawless ease of use. If buyers face issues while accessing your online store, they can quickly leave your site and turn to your competitors. Therefore, it’s crucial to invest adequate time to the testing of your ecommerce store and make it better and better.
Ecommerce Solutions Software
In the last few years, competition between the best shopping cart software (aka ecommerce solutions software) companies has gotten tough. Considering the equally tough competition in the ecommerce sales industry, finding the right company to help build your online store is a huge task. You want one that’s efficiently functional can quickly attract the attention of the target audience is a big challenge. You’ll also need a solid company that offers features like great design options and customer support.
Luckily, it’s become standard for most reputable companies to offer free trials so before you start to pay a third-party ecommerce website builder, you can take it for a spin. Take a look at ZippyCart’s comparison charts to find the top ecommerce software in the industry.
Do you run an online store? Where do you think the online shopping industry is headed in 2013 and beyond? Please don’t hesitate to comment.
By the ZippyCart Content Team
December 5, 2012
Regardless of the type of industry you cater to, your business can never prosper without customers. If you plan to achieve success with your business for the long term, you’ll need to identify who your target audience is and what their specific needs may be. Considering the tough competition among e-commerce store owners, it’s almost impossible to take your business to the next level without exceeding the expectations of your customers. That’s why most of the successful companies of today are people-centric or customer-focused. What are you doing to focus on your target audience?
Out in the World Wide Web, you’ll come across many customer relationship management (CRM) applications. Many e-commerce store owners have also adopted these systems to focus on both customer acquisition and customer retention. But which, according to you, is more important?
According to research, it has come to light that acquiring a new customer costs a lot more (6-10 times more) than retaining a new customer. That means you need to dedicate most of your efforts to retaining customers so that you can create loyalty and trust in your brand or products. Customers that you have retained understand your brand better than anyone else. In fact, they are the actual advocates of your brand. It’s these retained customers (read: loyal customers) that can help you launch a word-of-mouth campaign about your services or products.
But, first you need to acquire new customers. Right?
Though retaining customers carries a lot more significance, you also need to continuously build new relationships. First and foremost, you need to evaluate your marketing campaigns and find out which of them are working really well. But what’s actually more important is that you need to acquire only those customers that match your company’s ideal prospect profile. Your marketing campaigns, therefore, should always focus on acquiring the ‘right type of customers’, aka, your target audience.
The biggest challenge in the process of customer acquisition is identifying those channels that are best to fulfill your goals. One common mistake that most of the e-commerce business owners make is that they start to too many channels at once. If you begin with too many acquisition channels, testing and optimizing them will prove to be quite cumbersome. It’s, therefore, advisable to focus on one customer acquisition channel at a time and act according to the gathered feedback.
The feedback that you collect can help you evaluate how different classes of customers are responding to your marketing campaigns. You’ll also be able to identify their specific needs, likes, interests etc. Unless and until you understand what your customers are actually looking for, you can never develop products or services to simplify their day-to-day lives. While developing the customer acquisition strategy for your business, you’ll need to pay close attention to the best source of customers, how they locate your company, role of external resources (if any) and the ROI of your marketing campaign among others.
Retaining customers is actually about enhancing your company’s value.
In any case, it’s actually customer retention that will decide whether your e-commerce business will be able to beat out the competition. Retaining customers is actually about enhancing your company’s value. The goal of customer retention, therefore, is to create loyalty among customers and take the customer-brand relationship to the next level. This is when you start a build a vibrant community of followers around your brand or products. In order to retain customers, you’ll need to develop an effective strategy that keeps them coming back to your company for more.
For long-term client retention, you’ll need to –
- Be consistent with your efforts
- Market to your existing customers or clients
- Connect with your customers on a personal level
- Keep up the promises that you make
- Prove yourself to be a solution provider
- Provide real value to your customers
- Reward your customers for staying with you
- Focus on acquiring more knowledge
As mentioned above, retaining an existing customer costs you a lot less than getting a new customer for your e-commerce business. However, even a minor improvement in customer retention can increase profits significantly.
Does your online business have the right type of customers? Please feel free to share your opinions in comments.
Get an outsider to look over your website. Their point of view will clue you in to areas that need help.
By Belinda Darling
December 3, 2012
The Internet is the great equalizer, a marketing tool available to businesses of every size and persuasion. Cannily executed, well-maintained websites are not the sole domain of large, established businesses. You needn’t have pockets heaving with gold to get your website up to a standard that will maximize your profits. A fresh, user-friendly website can spell the difference between a business that just gets by, and a business that is continually expanding and improving its bottom line. Let’s have a look at some of the simplest and most powerful online marketing strategies Optimizing use you can put in place, with minimal effort and outlay.
- Get an outsider’s POV – another’s perspective is invaluable. Ask someone to go through the motions of using your website- searching for an item, finding the relevant product information and freight details. Get them to take detailed notes about each part of the process. How easy was it to find what they were looking for? Were they happy with the number and quality of images? Was the purchase and check out easy to negotiate? Did they feel there were too many steps to the checkout process? Were they satisfied that they were using a genuinely secure website? An objective outsider can help to highlight these types of issues, which you may have overlooked. After all, you are not a customer of your own business!
- Shout out that you’re secure – people are tired of being taken for a ride by online retailers. They want to be assured – without having to expressly seek out the information themselves- that their information is secure and will not be shared with a third party. Use security certificates and logos, if you have them. Seeing ‘verified’ is a great way to put your client base at ease.
- Keep your website looking fresh – the importance of keeping the look on your website fresh, relevant and engaging cannot be overemphasised and it’s a truth universally acknowledged by marketing gurus world over. Something as simple as decorating your logo with tinsel at Christmas, or cobwebs and broomsticks at Halloween, conveys the clear message that your website is regularly.
- Keep content up-to-date and interesting – stale content is a major turn off and bad for search engines. There are many keep customers and search spiders interested and advertising current specials is a great way to start… as long as you keep them up-to-date. As soon as a special is done, remove it from your website. Old content creates the impression of a lacklustre operation, and will diminish your brand’s credibility. Newsletters and blogs are a great way of generating new web content, as well. Blogs should be focused around things might interest your customers. For example, if your ecom business is an online retailer of women’s fashion, you could post about the latest European collections, and how they might translate into mainstream lines. During the awards season in the US, you could blog about what celebrities are wearing on the red carpet. Anything that provides an opportunity for your customers to interact on a deeper level with your brand will be of long term benefit. Also ensure you provide plenty of opportunities for the customer to leave their contact details with you. This helps to expand your online address book and keep them up to speed with the latest specials and offers. Encourage your customers to sign up for weekly newsletters, and provide an incentive to do so- 10% off their next purchase, for example. Keep newsletters short, sharp and punchy- hard to ignore.
This is just a short summary of a few of the most vital and easily implemented online marketing strategies. By putting a little thought into how you interact with your customers, and what incentives you provide for them to keep interacting with your website, you’ll reap long term rewards.
Belinda Darling is a specialist copywriter working along side Phoebe Netto, the founder and Managing Director of Good Business Consulting, a business advisory and PR firm of marketing and public relations. They specialize in optimising non-profits and small businesses to help them reach their business objectives by retaining their customers and attracting new ones.
By Igor Soshkin, CEO of ShoppingCartElite
December 3, 2012
Social Media is a great tool for those interested in long-term brand building.
As a business owner, you typically rely on direct sales. You believe that you have products that people want to buy. You might pay Google, eBay, and Amazon to spread the word and bring visitors to your website who are ready to make a purchase. So what’s missing?
The long-term plan.
Seth Godin wrote the following on his blog:
“Most small businesses believe that they’re too small to have an impact on the whole market, so they resort to picking the fruit that’s already grown instead of planting their own seeds. It’s far easier to wait until someone is ready to buy than it is to persuade them to buy.
Except the answer isn’t to poach demand at the last minute. The answer is to redefine the market into something much smaller and more manageable. You don’t need to persuade everyone that you have a great idea; you merely need to persuade one person, and then make it easy for that person to share the idea.
Mercedes Benz understands this concept well. Here, is a quote from a one of their executives, “If the only time I show you a Mercedes ad is just before you’re about to buy a fancy car, I’ve lost.”
Advertising to build brand recognition and demand is a very long-term proposition, not something you measure with clicks. A last-minute swipe of purchase intent is a tactical win. It’s not, however, a long-term way to build your organization.
Social Media can play a big role in getting you that one person that will love your idea, and then help you bring hundreds of hungry customers.
HOW DO YOU USE SOCIAL MEDIA?
Let me give you a story to show you an example of Social Media in action.
A website selling Adult Products has an engagement rate on their website of less than two minutes from visitors browsing around their website. This same website has a Facebook group that shows inspiring black and white art of half-naked models. They have thousands of members browsing their Facebook group daily, with a growth rate of 10% each week. The group has an engagement rate of 15 minutes per day from each group member, which totals over 4 hours per month. This website owner created a way to leverage social media to get people to visit his website. He is using a soft sale technique, where he inspires visitors by emotionally arousing them and then leading them to his adult products website using promotional product photos and sales announcements planted within his inspirational content.
This store owner has created a sales funnel, that involves getting his visitors to the Facebook group first, then he gets them in the mood to buy his products and only then does he engage them.
Why would you want to see an email about specials for a bunch of Dildos after work on a Monday evening? You probably wouldn’t spend a second on that promotional email. But, I am sure if you got an email that was telling you to visit this cool Facebook group where you can see half naked models in black and white you probably would (if no one was around).
So at the end of the day, social media should be your medium, to engage your customers. Instead of sending out cold emails via email marketing about your specials, you should create a social media group and send people there to get inspired to buy your products. You will always get a chance to do a hard sell, but you will rarely get a chance to build a relationship with your customers.
WHICH SOCIAL MEDIA SHOULD YOU USE FOR YOUR BUSINESS?
Twitter is known for delivering news faster than any other news source. It is powered by people in real time. Personally the only time I would use Twitter for eCommerce is to keep in touch with my client base, which encourages customer loyalty and ‘sharing’, and when people are going to Twitter to buy products. For example on Cyber Monday people will visit Twitter to find good deals that others are finding that same day. This would be a great opportunity to create an automated campaign to keep posting your specials every five minutes using the Cyber Monday hashtag, especially if your products cater to the mass market.
Facebook is known to be a great communication channel, similar to email. It is not designed for eCommerce because people visiting Facebook are not in the mood to buy. Spamming Facebook with your deals is equivalent to spamming emails that never signed up to see your specials. Facebook should only be used to communicate with your customers, and not sell to them.
Pinterest is known to be the first eCommerce friendly platform that has proven to generate direct website sales. This is the social media that you should be using to post inspirational photos that will lead people back to your website to make their purchase. You should send everyone to your Pinterest page who is not yet ready to buy your products. You should slowly build a relationship with them, by posting new photos on Pinterest and announcing them via all marketing channels including Email Marketing, Twitter, Facebook, etc. Then when the time is right, you should plant your specials within Pinterest by creating links to your products on your website, and that is how you will make more sales.
Having a manageable, long-term plan is vital to brand building and future success. Social media is a great tool for such a task!
Guest Blog Bio: As cofounder and CEO of Shopping Cart Elite, Igor Soshkin is responsible for overseeing the company’s strategic direction, planning, and implementation. Igor led Shopping Cart Elite through eight years of research and three years of development, finally releasing their first version in 2009. Today Shopping Cart Elite powers more than 1000 websites.
By Belinda Darling
November 12, 2012
Image is everything… I’ll explain with a small exercise. Visualize what a doctor looks like; they might be holding a tongue depressor or have a stethoscope around their neck. Now visualize an architect or a trades person. Are they holding tools or a set of plans? We all have notions about how people in these professions work, the values they hold and what they do.
Though with PR professionals, how do we visualize them? Which tools are at their disposal? The tools a PR professional has aren’t traditional; they’re complex and sometimes a little slippery to understand. We’re not that different from other professionals, we have tools in our box and we can make massive plans, but we generally call them campaigns. We are engineers of opinion and a PR professional can effectively plan and achieve your business goals with you.
Usually reserved for the corporates, public relations is finding new ground in the online space for SMB’s with blogger engagement, social media and good old traditional media placement that can help push sales in your online store. PR has the image that it’s expensive, time consuming and only practical with larger organisations, but there’s a few simple ways that small to medium business owners can use PR strategies and tactics on much smaller scales.
- Blogger Engagement
Bloggers are a new breed of journalist. They don’t have editors barking orders and them and they have huge amounts of creative freedom, sometimes bad and good. Their agenda is their own and they don’t have the same professional constraints that journalists tend to have; their audience are the moral arbitrators.
As a small business owner, don’t be afraid to contact bloggers with trials or product samples for reviews, comments and feedback. They’re passionate but generally very reasonable and open. They won’t shut you out and can provide a direct link to your online store. Alongside a rave review of your business, you could rake in the sales if they have a big enough readership.
- Social Media
The great democratizer, social media produces big results but some think it’s too unpredictable and time consuming. The great thing about social media is that it shouldn’t be any of these, it should only be 10 – 20 minutes of your day if you have a small to medium online business. They key when integrating social media into your marketing plans is simple, take the online offline and the offline online. Put ‘like’ buttons all over your website, retain customer details for mailing lists, find and add your loyal customers on Facebook and work on your relationship with them. It will help your earn return business. Check-ins also help build awareness around your business, especially when you incentivize it.
- Traditional Media
Got an interesting story to share about your business? Hit local publications with unique stories and never underestimate the power of a local focus. Make sure the story demonstrates your business values. How did you get your business name? How did the business start? When did your passion for ethically sourced coffee beans begin? Tell your story and help build affinity with your readers. Make them love the story and they’ll love you. They’re local and will most likely visit your website, too!
Work on a strong relationship with journalists and they may include a link at the end of the article. They understand you’re a small business and need support. If they’re really feeling generous, a QR code with special offers would tie in amazingly! They love small businesses, because they’re mostly dealing with pushy PR people from large corporates. Your small business is a welcome and refreshing reprieve from the usual.
Use these 3 scaled down PR strategies to start working on your company image. With a small amount of time each week, you can help your business grow by demonstrating your business values and building a better connection with the public and, most importantly, your target audience.
Guest author Belinda Darling is a specialist copywriter working along side Phoebe Netto, the founder and Managing Director of Good Business Consulting, a business advisory and PR firm specializing in marketing and public relations for small business and not-for-profits.
By James Pattrick
November 12, 2012
A blog is an excellent addition to any eCommerce website but, a lot goes into running a blog. While there are services out there that take a lot of the technical tasks out of the way, there is still a lot for a blog writer to do to make sure his or her blog is a success. While the full scope of a blogger’s struggle could be written as a book (or, at the very least, as a really long series of web pages), this page can at least cover the three most important things beyond “write good content.” The three things that could really help a blog are a solid theme, SEO, and interaction with readers.
The Theme of a Blog
A blog’s theme should permeate all throughout its pages. Your theme will affect:
- Your blog posts
- Your writing style
- Additional pages with static content
- Possibly your blog’s visual style
Blogs with a clearly defined central theme more easily attract a fanbase and a strong readership. This is partially because people searching for information about a particular subject are more likely to find your page. As you develop solid content around a central topic other writers on the web may refer to your work.
Search Engine Optimization
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the deliberate attempt to increase the pagerank of your website for certain keywords. There are several tasks associated with SEO, including:
- Writing with high keyword density
- Setting meta data
- Acquiring links from offsite
There is much to SEO, and entire websites have been created dedicated to explaining the ins and outs of search engines and how to get your website at the top of search results. If you do not want to perform any of these tasks yourself, there are also services that will do them for you for the right price.
SEO is an art every blogger needs to know, but whether you choose to utilize it can make or break your blog’s success. Unless the blog you plan to make is private in nature, there is no reason for you not to learn more about SEO and make use of these techniques to increase the pageviews of your blog.
Interacting with Your Readers
Getting readers to your blog is not as hard as getting them to stay there. While interesting content about something they want to read about helps, nothing keeps readers around like making them feel like they are part of the site. There are many ways to interact with your readers, such as:
- Asking them to comment
- Reader submissions for blog post ideas
- Contests and giveaways, where applicable
These are stock ideas any blog can use, and we encourage you to be creative with how you interact with your readers.
Ultimately, if you stick to it and write well on something you feel passionate about, there is no reason for you not to find some measure of success with your blog. Happy blogging.
Author Bio:- James Pattrick is a freelance writer, professional blogger, and social media enthusiast. His blog BlogCarnival.com James focuses on blog Internet Service, Technology and Blogging Tips. You can follow him on Google+, Twitter, and Facebook.
Get your site ready for holiday spending!
By Kelly Ford
November 5th, 2012
Smart applications of online video foster the highest levels of brand engagement and deliver on key performance marketing objectives, so the holidays are the perfect time for retailers to invest in video and leverage it across all channels, from website, to email communications, to advertising campaigns.
This upcoming holiday season eMarketer predicts online retail sales will account for nearly 25 percent of 2012 revenue, and we predict that online video will be a factor in driving that revenue. So whether you’ve been preparing your site since July or are getting ready now, these five video tips are sure to enhance holiday marketing initiatives to effectively engage customers for maximum financial impact during the most competitive shopping season.
- Ensure on-site videos are mobile/tablet compatible
Not only should all of your videos be mobile and tablet-compatible year round, it is especially crucial this holiday season as tablet-based shopping is expected to boom. Consumers will shop both on the go and from their sofas via smartphones and tablets in the coming months. And not just online – many in-store experiences are including kiosks and sales associates with tablets for consumer browsing and purchasing if items are unavailable on the floor.
- Refresh video creativity to reflect holiday seasonality
This is an opportunity to refresh your brand personality by infusing videos with new, seasonal messages that are light and deliver cheer to your customers. A great example of this is last year’s Overstock.com holiday video ad, which brings the holiday spirit to the viewer while showcasing the brand’s values, namely superior customer service.
This year, West Elm’s on-site product videos will have a seasonal theme for the holiday shopping period. Likewise, a top US family vacation destination applies seasonal creativity, too, in order to refresh their year-round video program that welcomes visitors to their vacation. Treatment includes seasonal themes such as snowfall, Santa hats, Christmas festivities, holiday CTAs “add this gift to your cart,” and the inclusion of key dates such as the last order date for timely delivery, last date for gift returns and exchanges.
- Keep video ads updated to reflect promotions and price changes
Ever-changing promotions, door-busters and time-sensitive sales are great tactics for incentivizing customers, yet can pose a challenge for brands to ensure such communications are always up-to-date. Utilizing smart, real-time video technology ensures communications reflect these changing offers. Timely videos also deliver a better user experience that ultimately increases customer loyalty and retention.
- Create personalized video recommendations for customer’s shopping list
Understand your audience and anticipate their needs this season. Videos that are personally relevant to your shoppers not only support them throughout the ecommerce experience, but also develop loyal customers who will keep coming back long after the New Year. Create your video holiday gift guides with infused personalized content to engage holiday shoppers and make your message more relevant. Smart, real-time videos can include the customer’s recent browsing behavior and products viewed, and recommend related items to recently purchased gifts.
- Create video content that supports your customers through the holidays
Video content that educates consumers during the holiday mayhem is another engaging way to drive brand loyalty. For instance, a few years ago Target partnered with YouTube and created a “Holiday Solutions” video channel that shared recipes, party tips and gift ideas. This type of video content conveys the ability to understand and cater to customer needs and interests. Take this a step further with personalization, presenting tips and ideas that are relevant to purchase history and demographics.
Luxury brands, specialty retailers and mass merchants are all embracing online video as not only a marketing tactic, but also a customer engagement tool, proven to boost sales, brand impact and loyalty. The holiday season is an ideal time to maximize the power of video, and it’s not too late to enhance your marketing initiatives with video today.
A product of both established and emerging organizations, guest author Kelly Ford 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 at SundaySky, Kelly sets and executes strategies that build presence and pipeline, and ensure SmartVideo category leadership. Kelly received a Bachelor of Arts in Communication from Michigan State University.
By Sam Allen
October 29, 2012
SEO can be a cut throat industry which is full of so-called experts and gurus who will guarantee you 1st place rankings in Google. Arrrrrr!!
Picking a bad agency can have dire effects which can even result in your whole site getting banned from Google. But don’t let this put you off- there are good agencies afloat and business to plunder in the great Google ocean!
Over the years I have seen the good and bad when it comes to SEO but hopefully I can pass some of what I have learned on to you to help you recognise the tell-tale signs of a good (or bad) agency!
- In-house monitoring
Firstly you need someone in-house that is willing to monitor the SEO campaign your agency is conducting. This person should have a dedicated amount of time each month to keep track of results and the campaign progress. The in-house person should organise regular communication with the SEO agency so nothing is lost in the abyss.
- Learn the SEO basics
It helps if the in-house team member managing the campaign understands the SEO basics. They won’t just be able to learn this in a day but having a simple take on how Google works can make the whole process a lot smoother. You can find some easy to understand guides and resources at the Search Engine Journal. It would also be valuable to keep in the loop of SEO developments and the ever-changing Google algorithm. Search Engine Roundtable is a great site for this.
- Understand analytics
It is a must that the in-house person monitoring the campaign understands basic analytics which will show all the important traffic and sales information for your site. The most common analytics software is Google Analytics which is a free web based service. There are online training sessions but if you would prefer there are lots of companies offering paid training courses.
- Don’t trust agencies that guarantee 1st place rankings
No one can do this (except probably Google). If this is one of their main selling points, alarm bells should start ringing. There are standard processes to go through when getting a site to rank in Google but there is also a lot of educated guesswork and each site is different.
- Ignore pricing packages
You can tell alot about an agency by the way they set out their pricing structure. I would stay away from agencies that use pricing packages or mention any of the following “bronze, silver or gold package”; “ you will get 100 comment links, 50 social bookmarks, 20 directory links a month” or “10 pages costs xx, 20 pages cost xx”. Pricing a SEO campaign should depend on how competitive your industry is or your sites’ current condition. For example, promoting t-shirts or sex toys will be a lot more competitive than a local hotel or restaurant.
- Ask for examples
Ask to see previous work. This is not a foolproof way to see how good an agency is but if they can’t show you any previous results you can rule them out.
- Do they make you feel confident?
How well does the agency respond to your questions or explain campaign results? If they don’t sound confident in their own response it could because they are unsure themselves. But you can’t expect them to know everything so give them a chance to investigate and respond.
- Try a test campaign
Don’t sign up for a full 12 month contract - try a test campaign. SEO can’t be achieved in the short term but you can sign up for a 4-6 month campaign and review before signing your life away.
- Don’t be impressed by keyphrases with no value
Have you ever heard something similar to “Hey we have just achieved some amazing results you now rank number one for [blue with white stripe t-shirt in los angeles] how good are we!” This phrase has no value because no one will use it when searching Google. You can use the Google Keyword Tool to review phrases but it’s not 100% accurate and you need to understand the different settings such as exact match. It’s also important you don’t focus on volume and instead focus on quality and relevance.
- Quality not quantity
Getting “500 visits a day” or “ranking for these 30 phrases in Google” sounds good but is it doing anything for you? Don’t focus on number of visits or number of ranking phrases, focus on the number of conversions whether it be making an enquiry, viewing the contact page, downloading a brochure, signing up for a newsletter etc. These are the most important things, so that’s what you want to increase! But you must take into account that a bad website can affect conversions which an SEO agency can’t help.
- Look out for SEO techniques that could put you at risk
Cloaking, Link networks, paid links, deceiving search engines, link exchanges and hiding text are all things you should be looking out for. They can seriously hurt your website and get you banned from Google. If it sounds sneaky or dodgy then it’s probably bad news.
- Complete Transparency
Your agency should be sharing all the information on your campaign with you. If they are deliberately hiding things it could trouble. There is no reason why an SEO agency should be hiding anything from a client.
- Full Campaign Reporting
SEO agencies should supply easy to understand monthly reports. Which includes traffic and goal conversion stats as well as explanation of activity. If you only get supplied with a sheet of rankings, this is not good enough!
I hope this guide helps you in your hunt for success in Google. It’s important to remember there are lots of good agencies out there if you know what to look for. Never forget to go with your gut instinct – if they seem too good to be true it’s often the case!
Guest author Sam Allen is the search manager at Zeta, a company which specialises in SEO services. If you have any questions you can ask Sam through Twitter.
Prepare for holidays by strategizing for different global customs and shoppers around the world!
By Liz Elting
October 18, 2012
With the holidays quickly approaching, online businesses are strategizing now to prepare for the influx of shoppers around the world who will flood the Internet looking for the best deals. In fact, many online retailers are putting the final touches on their site codes and will launch holiday-themed landing pages before the end of October. While most retailers understand the need for optimized, consumer-facing initiatives during the holiday season, if these initiatives are in English only, those businesses will miss a huge opportunity to increase holiday revenues and build brand loyalty with consumers who either need or prefer to shop in other languages. For example, a retail site that offers Web content and product information in Spanish but provides an English-only checkout can see as much as a 90 percent drop in conversion rates. A retailer that offers in-language content and checkout options, as well as recognition of Hispanic culture or imagery can expand its conversion rates significantly.
A global message with a localized approach
E-commerce companies are faced with the challenge of reaching a wide scope of consumers with different backgrounds, cultures, and languages. Even the word “holiday” has different connotations in different parts of the world. One message can have a different meaning for different audiences. Online shoppers have choices, and they want to be exposed to content when, where, and how they want it. This is where content localization comes into play; retailers must take into consideration the culture and atmosphere in which the message is distributed in order to drive the accuracy of the message beyond language translation. To perfect localization, marketers are partnering with language service providers to reach global audiences and present relevant messages to targeted customers in key markets. In doing so, online businesses can capitalize on brand engagement and convert shoppers to buyers.
E-commerce beyond the campaign and throughout the sales lifecycle
Content translation and localization is crucial to the effectiveness of a global, online campaign, but that is just the first step. Shoppers will visit retail sites this holiday season with the expectation that they will read messaging in their native languages from the initial browsing stage until the point of checkout and even post-sale with shipping and return instructions. In-language customer support must be available via phone, online chat and email in order to create an environment as interactive and supportive as an in-person sale. Shoppers who invest the time to seek customer support are likely serious buyers, and online businesses must meet their needs in order to guarantee sales.
To ensure accuracy and proper sentence structure, make sure your translation service has the help of professionally trained people.
Translation beyond the machine
Machine translation has been a long-standing solution for converting large amounts of content into various languages in order to reach a global consumer base, but it has flaws. To get it right, machine translation needs the help of trained people who can check for context and accuracy. Not all words and phrases mean the same thing across borders. In fact, within one language, take Spanish as an example, a word or phrase can have a different meaning to people in Mexico than it does to people in Puerto Rico. A poor translation can send a negative message about your brand, encouraging online shoppers to abandon ship and shop elsewhere. Marketers need to keep the human element in mind. What message are you trying to convey, and how are members of different cultures going to perceive it? This can be addressed in a number of ways. They can present your team with suggested alternatives that will ensure a positive message in your target market.
Your holiday shopping strategy is crucial to closing your company’s revenue for the year on a strong note. According to a recent report from eMarketer, online holiday sales are expected to account for nearly a quarter of the $224.2 billion in U.S. retail e-commerce sales forecasted for 2012. With the proper strategy, preparation, and resources, e-commerce companies can capitalize on the most prosperous time of year for online retail. With so much riding on your holiday sales, it makes sense to globalize your approach and work with a language service provider to increase your customer base.
Guest author Liz Elting co-founded TransPerfect in 1992. Today, TransPerfect is the world’s largest privately held provider of language and business services with more than $300 million in revenue. The company, which continues to be owned entirely by its co-founders, operates in 70 countries with more than 2,000 employees worldwide. Elting oversees the day-to-day operations of the company, headquartered in New York City. She has earned numerous awards for her outstanding entrepreneurship, including Working Woman’s Entrepreneurial Excellence Award for Customer Service, the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award, and American Express and Entrepreneur’s Woman of the Year Award.
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 the ZippyCart content team
August 23, 2012
As the owner of an e-commerce site, you spend your day acquiring products, marketing them beautifully, targeting your customer base, and fulfilling sales. You don’t have time to mess around on Facebook.
If you feel this way, you may be missing out on a huge opportunity to boost your bottom line.
Facebook as a Marketing Tool
Facebook has always been good at keeping people connected, no matter how busy or far away they are from each other. Now, savvy companies and advertisers are starting to utilize this connectivity to link their products with Facebook’s millions of users. This shouldn’t be surprising; after all, word of mouth is usually the most effective type of marketing. So if someone buys your product and discusses it on Facebook, his or her friends and followers are probably more likely to purchase it as well.
So how can you leverage the power of Facebook for your e-commerce business?
Using Facebook for E-Commerce
The most basic way is to incorporate Facebook’s Like, Share, and Review “buttons” into your own e-commerce site. Each time that a shopper Likes one of your products, Shares it with their friends, or writes a Review about it, your product will be splashed across the News Feeds of the shopper’s Facebook Friends. (Click here to get started.)
Another option is to use Facebook’s advertisements to promote your products and your e-commerce site. Facebook is constantly improving its ad offering to allow you to better target the right customer by location, age, gender, and interests. (Click here to get started.)
You can also choose to take your business’s relationship with Facebook to the next level. There are plenty of applications that allow you to conduct e-commerce directly on Facebook (which is becoming known as “F-Commerce”). Some of these apps provide turnkey e-commerce solutions directly on Facebook while others simply let you turn Facebook into a storefront for your products, then direct buyers to your site for payment processing (like BigCommerce, PinnacleCart and CoreCommerce). Consider app pricing, customization capability, and technological compatibility to determine which app is right for your business.
In addition, you also have the ability to track the performance of your collaborative efforts with Facebook. If you already work with an e-tracking system like Google Analytics, you can use it to monitor pages within Facebook to identify traffic, trends, and revenue. But Facebook has its own analytics software known as Facebook Insights. This service can show you Likes, Shares, Reviews, and other Facebook-specific aspects, as well as the standard metrics that are monitored by traditional reporting programs. Whichever choice you make, an examination of the social media data provided by Facebook will allow you to more sharply identify your customer base and tweak your marketing strategies accordingly.
If you do choose to link your e-commerce site with the world of Facebook, here are a few things to keep in mind.
- Make sure it’s still easy for customers to make purchases. Since F-Commerce is still in its infancy, some of the apps may be a bit more cumbersome than hosted shopping cart solutions that are found on traditional e-commerce portals.
- Be aware of customer privacy. Sometimes, involving Facebook in a purchase from your site may spur Facebook to send information to other users that they may not want published (for instance, if they are buying underwear online, or making a gift purchase for one of their Facebook Friends). To the extent you are able, you must monitor Facebook’s privacy settings to ensure that your customers’ confidential information remains private.
- Monitor your marketing costs. If you advertise on Facebook, you can target your ads based on many demographic factors. But as your potential customer base grows, your marketing expenses will, too — so keep an eye on that periodic payment that you submit to Facebook.
- Get creative. Think outside the box and come up with ways to use Facebook to generate business. Examples may include daily deals, Facebook Like contests, posts/links on your Facebook page’s Wall, and even discounts for buyers’ Facebook Friends (its Buy With Friends program can help with this).
Facebook isn’t just a time waster anymore. If used properly, the social networking site can be a major source of revenue for e-commerce business owners, while using its metrics to target your chosen demographic audiences with pinpoint accuracy.
Photo credit: MoneyBlogNewz
By Catherine Gluckstein
Sept 3, 2012
We all know that the winter holidays are the busiest shopping period of the year and the time that retailers offer the biggest discounts, but did you know Tuesdays were the day to find the best deals?
There are many surprising, less obvious discount trends that can help small online businesses compete with the big guys.
Sliced and diced by best shopping holidays, months, regions and even age of business, this infographic insight will benefit online retailers and consumers alike.
Here are some more interesting findings:
- Major holidays like Independence Day, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and Thanksgiving are busy shopping days and a good time to offer discounts.
- November is the busiest shopping month of the year. Use this to your advantage by offering amazing discounts and ‘gobble’ up the revenue.
- Tuesday is the busiest day of the week for discount buying. Sunday are best avoided.
- The older and more established your brand/business, the less discounts you need to offer.
- The Brits know a bargain and could teach other countries a thing or two.
- In the US, Californians win in offering the best deals. North Dakota and West Virginia have some catching up to do.
Use this information to your advantage by timing your discounts well. Customers know where and when to find the best deals!
Guest Author Catherine Gluckstein runs Business Development for SumAll, a NYC based start up. SumAll is big data for small businesses. ~ SumAll has a mission to bring the full power of business intelligence to small and medium sized companies. Today, only the largest companies have access to the kind of tools that let them leverage their data to make better decisions and more money. Our vision is to bring these tools to everyone by making data beautiful, affordable and accessible.
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