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!
By Lanette Willis
May 6, 2013
Have your online business within reach at all times with a mobile dash board app!
It’s become standard these days for eCommerce platforms to have some kind of dashboard feature. So standard in fact, that it’s easy to assume every dashboard is basically the same, and to overlook the true power and convenience that can be offered by this tool. Not all eCommerce solution dashboards out there are the same. With the right mix of data, a great dashboard should offer you an unparalleled ability to keep an eye on your store’s performance, alert you to trends, identify opportunities for growth, uncover and resolve breaks in your sales funnel, and give you peace of mind – all in an instant.
A dashboard must deliver important statistics quickly and easily. This is not necessarily for heavy reporting, but rather the place for information at a glance. Thus, one critical component is the ability see data instantly when you open the dashboard. You shouldn’t need to click anything, and the data should just be in front of you.
Easy to read graphs are also key. They say a picture speaks a thousand words, and your dashboard also needs to do this! Bar charts, line graphs, and pie charts allow you to see and process the essence of the data in seconds.
Having the ability to see performance over time (month, week, day, etc.) allows for comparison & trending, and should definitely be included. How were your sales last month, versus this month? Are sales increasing steadily across the last 3 months? A dashboard should be able to show you this.
A great dashboard offers the user the ability to change time frame of graphics (year, month, day, etc.). For example, typically you may be interested in seeing your sales data across the last 2 months, but if you’re running a promotion, you might be more interested in studying a day or week’s data to track the success of your promotion.
Sales data and visitor data should be offered in the dashboard, and both should be visible across an adjustable time period. Knowing that you’ve made $x for the year allows you to tell if you’re on target. How is your traffic? Usually, traffic is tied to sales. If you just released a promotion, you should see the spike in visitors, letting you know that your promotion is working. Likewise, if you don’t see this spike, it could alert you to a problem along the line. If you were only tracking sales, and not visitors, you might think there was some other on-site conversion problem.
We’ve already discussed the importance of the dashboard information to be presented quickly and clearly. It’s all about instant information. The ability to have palm-of-your-hand mobile access to your dashboard takes it to a new level.
If you’re in the interested in previewing a topnotch eCommerce dashboard, you may want to check-out, Nexternal, one of ZippyCart’s top reviewed eCommerce solution. This shopping cart software has just released a Dashboard Plus for iPhone and iPad users, so you don’t even need to boot up a computer to check in on your online business. Grab your iPhone, click a button, and there are all your stats, and peace of mind. Dashboard Plus is available for free in Apple’s App Store and can be downloaded here.
Guest author Lanette Willis is a Senior Account Manager at Nexternal. Before joining Nexternal she spent nearly a decade working in market research and professional services marketing, before running her own successful eCommerce apparel business. Lanette is passionate about both marketing and eCommerce.
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 Francesca Velazquez
January 28, 2013
Since Apple unveiled the iPad in April 2010, dozens of others, from Samsung to Barnes & Noble, have jumped on the tablet bandwagon. Today, tablets can do virtually everything a desktop computer can do, including shopping. It’s no wonder that retailers have started adapting their marketing strategies to appeal to tablet shoppers.
Tablet ownership has doubled between pre-Christmas 2011 and today (you can probably guess what the big Christmas item was last year). The United States now has 55 million tablet users – that’s close to a fifth of the population, including those too old and too young to use them. That number is projected to grow even more on December 25, 2012.
Business owners have taken note of the tablet trend. Fortunately, the very nature of tablet devices lends itself to impulse buying. Many tablets, like Amazon‘s Kindle Fire and many others, contain permanent links to online music stores, book stores and application stores on their desktop, and purchases can be made with a tap of the screen. Indeed, 80% of purchases from mobile devices in 2011 came from tablet users while 20% came from smartphone users (those numbers were reversed in 2010). Indeed, tablet use is growing at ten times the rate of smart phone use. According to retailers, tablet users also spend more when they shop.
Of course, most people who can afford tablets are solidly middle class, so one could argue that tablets may not be selling more products – people who can afford tablets simply spend more money. Nonetheless, retailers are now specifically catering to the mobile market. Many retailers now have versions of their webpages specifically for mobile use. Mobile websites often have fewer features in favor of faster load times and a cleaner interface, and they are optimized for tablet features like tap-zooming.
So who is the average tablet user? Research shows that it’s the 18-34 male demographic that the majority of video game studios cater to. This seems like an obvious target audience, but just as game consoles have gained wider appeal as they have added more features, the same is likely to be true for tablets; tablets specially designed for kids are already topping many children’s Christmas list this year.
infographic provided by Miva Merchant E-Commerce Software
Guest author Francesca Velazquez is a web enthusiast and e-commerce reporter for the blogosphere. She has been developing websites and digital marketing campaigns for local small businesses since 2009. Her favorite internet trend is the development of web apps as tools and gadgets for end users.
By the ZippyCart eCom Team
January 9, 2013
The social media landscape has changed quite a lot over the last one year. While there are many start-ups that have yet to embrace social media, you should gear up, anticipate current trends and include social media into your overall marketing plan as soon as possible. To develop a powerful social strategy, however, you’ll also need to abide by some essential guidelines and best practices.
Given below are thirteen tips that start-ups should use to get the most out of their social media marketing efforts in 2013.
#1. Go Beyond Facebook and Twitter
Most of the startups think that social media is all about Facebook and Twitter, which is not true at all. Though these two online platforms have proven to be big players in the social media arena, they are not all that is needed. As a smart start-up, you should also devote time to other potential social platforms like YouTube, Google+, Linkedin, Pinterest etc. At the same time, you shouldn’t hesitate to experiment with a new platform as it emerges on the social media scene.
#2. Invest in a Blog
While talking about owned media, starting a self-hosted business blog is the best that you can do. If you are really serious about giving your competitors a hard time in 2013 and beyond, you should have a blog up and running before late. It’s also advisable to hire an experienced blog or content writer so that your blog stays fresh, relevant and keeps visitors coming. Blogs are an easy addition to any eCommerce site and if you’re in eCom sales and own an online store, your eCommerce solution should be providing one for you.
#3. Make Your Site Mobile-Friendly
Mobile is today’s buzzword. The number of mobile device users continues to swell with each passing day. If your site is not accessible via mobile devices appropriately, you are in serious trouble. Take action right away. Again, look to your eCommerce solution (aka Shopping Cart Software) as they should be making your transition into mobile an easy one.
#4. Know Your Customers
Understanding the needs of your customers is always at the core of a social marketing strategy. If you want to achieve success with your social media marketing efforts, you must know what an ideal customer for your business looks like. Who is included in your target audience? Focus is important for successful marketing.
#5. Continue to Educate Yourself
Knowledge is the ultimate power. In order to create original and unique content, you need to keep yourself abreast of all the latest changes and developments in a niche you cater to. Devote adequate time reading blogs, books and magazines so that you are always ahead of others. Go ahead… subscribe to our RSS feed. ;-)
#6. Define Your Goals
Before you get started with social media marketing, make sure you know what your business goals are. It’s only when you clearly know your goals that you can efficiently track your progress.
#7. Improve Your Email Marketing
Don’t get surprised. As we enter into 2013, we have an urgent need to integrate social, content and email. Provided you integrate them appropriately, you can gain a huge edge over your competition as far as social media marketing is concerned.
#8. Create Quality Products
No matter how much effort you put into marketing, you won’t be able to make an impact if your product doesn’t have quality. Whether you are offering a product or a service, you should make sure it does an excellent job of solving the day-to-day problems of your target audience.
There’s so much that you can learn only if you listen to your customers.
#10. Skip Blatant Promotion
You’ll need to skip promotional speak immediately, if you want to achieve success with social media marketing in 2013. By doing blatant promotion, you’ll lose the trust of your customers even before you build it.
#11. Use Pictures
While creating social media content, you should focus on using pictures or images more and more. Creating engagement among the audience becomes easier with original, top quality images. Use them to your benefits.
#12. Connect with Influencers
First of all, locate the major influencers in an industry you cater to. Then find good ways to reach out to them and connect. Building relationships with industry experts and top professionals can bring you so many benefits.
#13. Memorize All of the Above.
Do you want to share an opinion? Feel free to comment below!
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 Nicolas Fincher
October 31, 2012
Getting Mobile-Ready – Being Sleek or Being Smart
Only a few years ago, mobile gadgets like smartphones, iDevices and tablet PCs were the signs of eminence – because of their rather high price, only well-off people could afford these technological advancements. However, as a natural matter of progress, today’s mobile devices have lost their value and become standard attributes of our everyday life. Many families even have a device for every member, including children.
These changes reflect the current tendencies in the m-commerce and mobile stores, turning them from fashion trends into urgent necessity. Originally, many online business owners created mobile versions for their web stores in order to stand out from the crowd and be on the cutting edge of the latest trends. Today however, as you’ve probably noticed, clients are getting more and more addicted to their smartphones, iPhones, iPads, etc. They use their mobile devices for the great variety of purposes, including online shopping. This makes m-commerce a necessity.
Many modern shoppers appreciate (and almost expect) the opportunity to visit web stores and make necessary purchases while they are on-the-go, without being tied down to their home or office computers. Most online stores admit that their mobile traffic makes a significant contribution to the overall traffic they get on a daily basis, and this volume is increasing every single day. Moreover, some online ventures confess that before going mobile-ready, they had received many complaints saying that their websites needed mobile versions.
Nowadays, it has become imperative to make your e-commerce website mobile-friendly and provide your visitors with an ultimate shopping experience from their smartphones and iDevices. Otherwise, there may be a high chance for your web store to be viewed as outdated and it will be increasingly difficult to gain and retain a competitive edge on the modern market.
Various media sources report that today’s m-commerce market is progressive commerce and is growing every single day. In other words, we have entered a so-called mobile-tablet era. While getting more powerful and functional, modern mobile devices and tablet PCs provide users with a much more convenient and improved web surfing experience, including online shopping, and thus deliver online business owners new, remarkable opportunities to improve brand awareness and increase sales.
No doubt, getting a mobile-optimized web store version is no longer a fashion tribute, but rather an urgent need for every online venture aimed to grow, expand and succeed on the modern highly-competitive Web market. Let’s sum up the most crucial advantages of having a mobile presence:
- Be more available to modern, on-the-go markets.
- Stay on top of the latest e-commerce trends.
- Increase your overall traffic rates.
- Attract more prospects with additional accessibility.
- Show your visitors that you’re a customer-oriented business.
Mobile Applications vs. Mobile Websites
Do you wonder what the best way to go mobile is? There are two basic concepts for establishing a mobile presence; you can download and install a mobile application for web store browsing or you can make sure your e-commerce website is optimized for a full-fledged mobile experience.
At first glance, the download and installation requirements for mobile applications may impose a sort of barrier between your visitors and your website. However, there are certain market niches and cases where this necessity really makes sense. For example, interactive e-commerce projects (e.g. web gaming portals), complicated sets of data that need manipulation, and anything that would like to function without internet connections are best through mobile apps.
Mobile websites may not be best for the specific markets above but they’re perfect if you want a website that is instantly available, without any download requirement. They are also easier to maintain, update, share and… they cost less. Any website can eventually be turned into an application so, in many cases, it may be best to start here.
Luckily, today there are plenty of powerful and efficient programs and applications you can take advantage of to make your online store mobile-ready for viewing and shopping. Take your time to choose the optimal solution for your business and establish an ultimate, multifunctional mobile presence for your web store
Guest author Nicolas Fincher is a community and marketing manager at CS-Cart, an established company specializing in online shopping cart systems.
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 Al Natanagara
Sept 10, 2012
Ah, Twitter. It can get a person out of a pre-Arab Spring Egyptian jail, inform the world of a covert operation against a terrorist leader in real time, and even tell the twitterverse what’s for dinner–complete with photos of a mouth-watering BakedAlaska!
It is truly amazing what millions of Earthlings can do with a mere 140 characters, but it would be truly awesome if Twitter could be used to buy stuff, because buying stuff is something everyone can relate to; Egyptian jail…not so much.
Buy Stuff with Twitter
What? For real? Well, it’s not that much of a leap from donating to a PAC via text messaging, but how does it work, and will a social media platform that is beloved for its simplicity and directness catch on as yet another tool of ecommerce?
The company betting that connected consumers will reply with a resounding “#Yes!” is BuyReply, which already has Guess, Ralph Lauren, Sportsgirl, and other retailers signed on to offer Twitter purchasing. Here’s how it works: You’re watching your favorite sports team competing in a contest of wills. The camera pans across the audience and you notice an attractive member of the opposite sex holding up a sign reading, “Get (prominent player’s name here)’s socks @shopPotrzebie SOCKS.” You drop your pompoms, whip out your smartphone, launch your preferred Twitter app, and giddily purchase socks that are similar to the ones worn by the player mentioned.
Of course, that’s not all there is to it. Assuming you typed correctly, your tweet is answered by the merchant, with a link to a BuyReply Web page where you complete the transaction. If you already have a BuyReply account, that may involve only a few taps or less; Twitter’s accessibility and cultural prominence make it a potential ecommerce killer app. The fictitious example given is but one of a near-infinite number of possibilities: The @MerchantName and one-word item is a short and sweet, allowing it to appear in places an item-specific URL cannot.
Be Like (Celebrity Name Here)
Not only is “@ShopUndies THONG” easy-ish to remember and easy to read on a placard flashed for three seconds during a game, it is easy to push to a specifically targeted audience, and that push can happen right in Twitter.
Let us look at another fictitious example using the fictitious superstar Lady GooGa, and let us assume that like a real-life superstar with a similar name, Ms. GooGa has over 29,000,000 followers on Twitter. If she tweets “Get the panties I wear in my latest video. @ShopUndies THONG,” and only one-half of one percent of her followers buy the goods, that is 145,000 units sold. A prime audience has been targeted with a simple line of text, and many of those who buy do so within minutes of reading the tweet.
Is This the Future of eCommerce?
BuyReply is surely just the beginning. With the popularity of social media growing from huge to really #$%* huge, the wired world will have many options for the rapid and seamless purchase of stuff that is sees promoted anywhere and everywhere.
Yes, this is the likely future of ecommerce, but is that necessarily a good thing? The Internet was once seen as the world’s Great Hope for uniting humanity and freeing artists and idealists from dependence on commerce. Then commerce hopped on the bandwagon and now it sometimes seems as though the Internet is not much more than one big virtual shopping mall.
We all like our stuff, and we all want more stuff; let’s just wield our purchasing power wisely, and make choices that put our dollars into the hands of those who we trust.
Guest author Al Natanagara is a writer, journalist, and blogger whose career includes stints with ZDNet, CNet, CBS, LexisNexis, and Law Enforcement. He has written on a vast variety of topics from Atlanta BBQ to Louisville air conditioning toCalifornia Dreamin’.
By Susan D
Sept 6th, 2012
QR, QR codes, quick response codes…
Observant consumers across the globe have witnessed a rush of QR codes popping up over the last year or so. Here in the SF Bay area, these 2 dimensional codes are creatively built into products ads and strategically placed around the city. When out with my friends, we often whip out our smart phones so we can scan them. The more random and unique the code is, the more curious we are to see the sale offer or information that may be hiding behind them. The Bay Area is a bit more tech trendy than most areas though so I’ve wondered if QR codes are as popular in the rest of the USA and world? When I travel outside the ‘Bubble of the Bay’, especially to smaller towns, I rarely see people taking advantage of QR codes in the same way that my SF friends do. So what does this mean?
Well, QR codes may not have gained widespread use as quickly as projected but the problems that may have been slowing the trend are easing up. With over 100 million smartphone users now in the USA alone, the market for QR scanning apps and usage has widened considerably. Also, awareness has grown and consumers are more interested in the potential behind the 2-dimensional codes.
There is still a dire need to link the eCommerce world, digital world, and the physical world and QR codes offer the perfect solution. Keep an eye on the communication potential they hold and in the next few years, you’ll undoubtedly see more of the public being educated, sold and swayed by the tiny bits of information that are hidden in the little squares.
In QR news this week alone…
- Students at Rutgers University unveiled a QR Code exhibit in effort to stay current with communication trends.
- Funeral directors in England are launching an effort to include QR codes on gravestones so that a tribute biography of the loved one is easily accessible.
- Give By Cell, a San Francisco company, is partnering with parks to help educate people on scenic views with QR codes and hopefully… generate on-the-spot donations for their conservation efforts!
Obviously, more travels are in order so I can accurately form a verdict on how the rest of the world is handling QR codes right now. I see the future of them, however, and the possibilities with QR codes are endless! I currently work with certain shopping cart solutions that offer QR codes as part of their standard package, and love how, with this and other features, they have their eye on the future of eCommerce communication trends.
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 Amanda Click
Aug 22, 2012
User beware: Facebook’s advertising system may be taking a bite out of your wallet.
The perks of advertising on Facebook, the world’s leading social networking site, might seem like a no-brainer for businesses hoping to reach a target audience. A few thousand dollars well-spent could garner tens of thousands of click-throughs a month, resulting in tons of exposure for your company. However, what if you discovered that those click-throughs turned out to be bots 80% of the time? For e-commerce company Limited Run, this was a shocking reality about Facebook’s advertising system.
Limited Run, a startup that makes a software platform for musicians and labels to sell physical products online, has another gripe against Facebook as well. In addition to fudging numbers by initiating bot click-throughs, Facebook refused to allow the company to change the name of its page (originally Limiting Pressing) to Limited Run unless the company committed to at least $2,000 in advertising per month.
Furious with Facebook, Limited Run has decided to pull its Facebook page completely and share their outrage with the public.
It is indeed impossible to point the finger solely at Facebook. After conducting their own analytics, Limited Run could only verify that around 20% of clicks resulted in users showing up on its webpage. Looking for answers, Limited Run contacted Facebook about the discrepancy and was met with silence. Sketchy? Absolutely. In addition, Facebook was holding the company’s name ransom for a per-month fee of $2,000. With no answers and a demand for more money, Limited Run was left with no other option than to ditch the Facebook advertising system completely. These were their brazen and biting parting words to their Facebook fans:
“Thanks to everyone who has supported this page and liked our posts. We really appreciate it. If you’d like to follow us on Twitter, where we don’t get shaken down, you can do so here: http://twitter.com/limitedrun.”
It is easy to complain to Facebook friends and Twitter followers about negative experiences with major Web platforms such as Facebook, but what’s strikingly different about this case is that Limited Run is actually leaving the site. No official legal actions have been taken, but the media buzz created by Limited Run’s exit from the almighty Facebook could be the reality check that many businesses need.
Of course, Facebook also has it’s own side of the story, as well.
A College of Charleston grad, guest author Amanda Click has been writing professionally since 2009. She covers a wide variety of topics including blogging, real estate, and car insurance.
Photo credit: rishibando
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