According to Statistic Brain, the average attention span of a goldfish is nine seconds. The average attention span of a human is eight seconds. This is why your business needs Instagram.
Why Instagram Works
Instagram is tailored to fit the image-conscious audiences of today. People are bombarded with information coming at them from every direction. Instagram appeals because its interface is intuitive and it enables users to quickly distribute their photo message across all social media outlets with one simple click.
Why the Power of Instagram Is Awesome
As Atlantic Wire reports, Instagram has 90 million monthly users. Each of those users represents your potential customers.
In addition, when your online business links up with Instagram, you are acquiring the exponential power of their subscribers. Every Instagram user you reach has already proven themselves to be a social media user. By virtue of this fact, your business is practically guaranteed to be tweeted, liked, or shared.
Businesses sometimes see instant results after implementing an Instagram strategy.
Ways Your Business Can Use Instagram to Impart Your Company Image
One way your business can benefit from utilizing Instagram is by arming key employees with an Instagram account in the business department name. For instance, your marketing department manager could post an enticing new product image monthly, creating an appetite for an item before it’s even hit your online store shelves. Your HR department head could post candid moments from the annual picnic or awards ceremony (with the employees’ permission, of course). This type of post is a powerful way to communicate your business culture. If your company spends money on charitable contributions (it does, right?), your CFO could post a moving snapshot of the charity in action.
A second way to harness the power of Instagram is to host an Instagram event. Challenge your subscribers to a photo contest. Choose a theme in line with your corporate identity. For example, a clothing company might offer a prize to the best Instagram image of homemade children’s costumes for school plays and Halloween. A food company could have a best recipe contest based solely on the image of the final dish. Let your subscribers vote and choose the winner.
A bad reputation spells crisis for your online business.
What to Do to Mitigate Reputation Damage
The awesome power of Instagram does have a few drawbacks. Because your business images are flung instantly to the far reaches of the Internet, your reputation can be negatively impacted in one blinding explosion of controversy. What happens if your stellar senior head of HR accidentally pushes out a picture of a married employee getting cozy with a young intern? The fallout can be rough, even though technically it’s nothing to do with your business.
It helps to know how to remove personal information from the online world. It is possible, and it’s often necessary. The reason you don’t hear about it is because it works.
Instagram is a fun and powerful toy. But if you’re going to play in Internet space, you have to dust yourself off every now and again.
Guest author Kate Supino is a professional freelancer who advises online business on how to remove personal information in cases of negative publicity.
Images courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
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 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 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 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.
May 5th, 2012
By Susan D
Other than being the newest online buzz, what is social gifting?
Social Gifting is an interesting new marketing idea that can be used in 2 ways. It can help a group of friends to get together and give a large gift card for a someone’s upcoming celebration (instead of everyone buying individual gifts) or, it can help an individual shopper find free gift cards to spend on themselves. This process involves a few hot items: mobile commerce, social networking, a gift buyer’s love of gift cards and everyone’s love of free money! Now… what does a small business owner do with this new marketing tactic? Everything may point to hot current trend but, is it a good marketing method for your online store? Some experts think it’s the best new marketing tool while others throw words of caution.
How It Works
Social gifting is a simple concept which uses the same idea that my friends and I have been using for years. (Man, another grand idea we didn’t think to monetize!) It basically organizes for friends who want to throw money into a collection pot so they can purchase a ‘big’ gift for an upcoming birthday / wedding / celebration. The best part is that it social gifting makes giving a gift easy because you can do it through your smartphone’s mobile apps or social media. So if it’s your party, instead of receiving gifts that you don’t need or a bunch of small gift cards that sit around unused, you have one mega gift card worth big money!
The idea is so popular because many stores have started bartering free gift cards in exchange for cheap (and hopefully powerful) marketing. And of course… consumers rush at the opportunity to free gift cards.
Why does it work?
For the retailer, social gifting drives traffic to both online and brick and mortar store. Sure, they’ve given away $5, $10 or $15 dollars but really, the average consumer spends up to 6 times the amount of the gift card during their visit. The store also gets tons of advertising and a way into the exclusive FaceBook social marketing as friends group buy for friends and tell friends…
The consumer… well, most people love a gift card and a good deal. Also, social gifting makes getting a gift simple and fun. It’s a fact that Americans ask for gift cards more than any other gift so it’s a win-win situation. It has so much potential that companies like Wrapp and Dropgifts expanding to the United States to deliver their social gifting services.
The Goods: how social gifting can help your online store
- Marketing directly to consumer through social media
- Being accessible on mobile devices
- Attracting new customers… a group of them in fact!
- Bigger gift cards mean more purchases on higher priced items
- It’s easy to set-up with sites like Wrapp, Dropgifts, FriendFund or SocialGift.
The Bad: how social gifting can possibly hurt your eCommerce business
- It could be just another ill thought out marketing ploy… much like Groupon was last year.
- It takes a percentage of your profit from the free gift cards.
- It can’t promise that customers will return or spend more than the gift card amount.
- It could overwhelm your business with too many new customers at once.
The Verdict: is social gifting a marketing idea worth looking into?
Of course it is! When you sign on, just be careful and manage your finances and resources around realistic expectations.
March 5, 2012
By Susan D
There’s a new player in town, a traffic-driving heavy hitter that goes by the name of Pinterest.com. If you haven’t heard of it already, you soon will. Social media-minded eCommerce owners may be especially interested as Pinterest can help market their online store. In fact, some small business owners have reported a sales increase of up to 50%.
The first time I heard the name “Pinterest” marked the week that it was repeated to me 3 times, by 3 different friends. So… what’s so amazing about this new site? And why should an eCommerce company take note? Pinterest offers a simple, yet deceivingly addictive idea of ‘pinning interests’ and has remarkable potential in the world of eCommerce. If you build your profile well, it can circulate your product around the Pinterest community and drive traffic to your site in ways that have never before been realized.
This new Silicon Valley creation has been around since 2010 but has only recently caught on. It attracted a meager 1 million visitors in July of 2011 but by January of this year, it was up to 12 million unique visitors. In Feb 2012 those numbers had hit 103 million and just last week, it was the 3rd most popular social networking site in the U.S., only trailing Facebook and Twitter, according market-research firm comScore and Experian Hitwise. Impressive, right? We’re talking about a site that employs a couple of dozen people but is valued at $200 million. Their insane, exponential growth has everyone talking… and figuring out ways that it can be made to work for them.
Can we use it for online marketing?
Yes! For online product promotion and sales, it’s a retailer’s dream.
But first, let’s talk about…
How Pinterest works.
The idea and use is brilliantly simple. It’s so simple that when I first heard the concept, I didn’t think much of it. When you are visiting the site, you just spend some time daydreaming about your interests and ‘pinning’ them to a virtual board. You can either look through pictures that have already been pinned by other friends or users, ‘browse’ for pictures in your computer, or ‘add pins’ from outside links. Each person has their own profile where they add ‘category boards’, which are filled with pins. And really, most pins are just links to outside products and webpages. For example, if someone is landscaping their yard, they’ll likely have a board with the pins for the gardening and landscaping styles they like. But let’s say you’re like me and you have interest in motorcycles, cooking, vintage style, and DIY crafting… these would be our category boards and our pins would be organized accordingly. I like this, I Like This, I LOVE THIS!!! Pinterest feeds on the fact that people love to hear their own opinions…. And I’m almost as guilty of this as the next person.
If I’m not careful, I can spend hours viewing and pinning links to products, pictures and ideas that give me recipes, craft ideas for my house, inspiration for the future, or fashion links to shop. What’s that… links to shop? Why yes, links to shop.
Enter: Pinterest eCommerce.
Using Pinterest to Drive Online Traffic
How does an eCommerce business use Pinterest to drive traffic to their online store?
Let’s go thru a basic series of steps that will help you make the most out Pinterest.
- Request an invitation from a friend who is a user or at www.Pinterest.com. You should receive your invite in a day or so but it’s important to note that at this time, you must have a Facebook or Twitter account to log-in to Pinterest. If you don’t have either, create one while you wait for the invite.
- Build content… Start pinning! Take time to set-up a few personal boards, even if you want to primarily focus pins towards your online business specialty. It’s important to have both personal and business pins as most people are on Pinterest for recreation and may not want to feel that they’re being sold something. Pinterest has a special area for gifts. Also, products that have a price in the description will automatically get a price label on them and be pinned in the gift section. That being said, I feel the power of a more subtle direct (using pinned interest links to direct consumers to your webpage) instead of a blatant sale attempt, is an important part in increasing online traffic to your site. This may change in time, but for now, creating both personal and business boards is probably your best bet.
- When you have content established, take time and go through your own website, pinning the best pictures and products for display to the Pinterest audience. Also, take the time to build content that will create an interest in your specialty. Remember, appearance means a lot here so take care in making your business and products look great! Don’t forget to label your pins and boards with catchy, relevant titles! When you pin, use key words, brand names, and thorough descriptions that will help your product to show at the top of search results.
- If possible, take a few minutes to pin in the morning, afternoon and evening so you can be interactive with different types of Pinterest users. Also, visit and ‘follow’ other boards as that sometimes leads to them following you back.
- Make sure you add a Pinterest ‘Pin It’ button on your website so that your personal visitors can pin any product that they happen to like. Some eCommerce shopping cart softwares have this feature built in already. Let your customers do the marketing for you while they’re bored and daydreaming away on their computers and smartphones!
So… what’s left to do? Get to pinning and provide a direct connect between millions of Pinterest users and your online store! Social media moves quickly so don’t miss out on this surefire way to direct eCommerce traffic to your site.
December 5, 2011
By the ZippyCart Content Team
Walmart, one of the highest grossing retailers on both Black Friday and Cyber Monday, last week launched a holiday shopping gift-guide application on Facebook called Shopycat. Created by @WalmartLabs, Walmart’s tech shop in the Silicon Valley, the app is designed to help users with often difficult task of Christmas shopping for friends.
The application officially went live on Wednesday evening (11/30) and has already drawn 8,000 users to the platform. Users can download the app directly from Walmart’s Facebook fan page, which has close to 11 million fans. Shopycat is easy to operate, allowing users to scroll through their friends or search by name and providing a selection of gifts that person would enjoy. Users can also check out the gifts suggested for them. Shopycat creates gift suggestions for friends based on data from their Facebook profiles such as interests and likes.
The gift suggestions offered on the app are sometimes creepily accurate and at times hilariously erroneous. Users can personally edit their profile and add interests to ensure Shopycat gives their friends good gift recommendations. Currently Shopycat has more that 600,000 items in its gift database, which is comprised of Walmart products in addition to items from Barnes and Noble, NBC Universal, ThinkGeek and more. @WalmartLabs has partnered with 20 retailers to ensure a wide range of gift offerings. The database includes many special edition products as they are viewed as more “gift worthy”.
If there is not enough information on a friends interests to generate gift ideas, Shopycat provides generic suggestions like a Starbucks gift-pack, a George Foreman Quesadilla Maker, and various other gifts that tend to be Walmart best-sellers. Users may also encounter suggestions of gift cards from Walmart.com, iTunes, and Zynga.
@WalmartLabs Shopycat app may look similar to GiveEmThis.com, a web app launched by Imply Labs in September of this year. The two applications provide strikingly similar services, but do so through different platforms. As a web app, GiveEmThis.com integrates several different social media platforms, while @WalmartLabs only incorporates Facebook. The most notable difference between the two apps is their business models. @WalmartLabs serves Walmart’s technology needs specifically, while Imply Labs provides a universal service to all online retailers.
Shopycat joins several other social gifting apps on the Facebook platform such as Giftiki. Giftiki is a group gift giving platform, launched in October, that allows Facebook friends pool their money together to buy a combined gift for friends’ birthdays, holidays, weddings, and other gift-worthy occasions.
December 1, 2011
By the ZippyCart Content Team
The successes of both Black Friday and Cyber Monday are encouraging signs for the ecommerce industry. Merchants worked hard this season to draw shoppers to their online stores and get them to fill their shopping carts. Record numbers of consumers flocked to retailers online storefronts to make purchases making it apparent that consumer confidence in online spending is at an all time high.
Although 2011 greeted merchants with many opportunities in the thriving ecommerce sphere, 2012 is sure to bring them unmatched success. The new technology and tools available in the marketplace in 2011 have helped retailers greatly increase sales and will only become further refined and useful in 2012. With the amount of competition in the ecommerce industry, 2011 brought innovation and diversity among retailers. 2012 will see retailers build upon new revenue streams and refine last year’s innovations.
To ensure success in the upcoming year, merchants should pay close attention to the 6 ecommerce trends for 2012 outlined below.
6 Emerging Ecommerce Trends For 2011
We recently spoke with co-founder and CTO of Baynote, Dr. Scott Brave, regarding the importance of leveraging new forms of personalization on ecommerce solutions. Personalization is moving away from the old-school idea of simply creating personalized greetings on a web page into complex personalization that is behaviorally infused. Brave suggests for success in 2012, retailers will need to focus their personalization efforts on shoppers “real time interest and intent.” We are moving beyond the days of reaching consumers through demographic and other types of segmentation. Retailers must now be in touch with what consumers are thinking and feeling at the specific moment they are shopping. According to Brave, retailers can gain access to this information by collecting consumers behavioral signals. Behavior signals include where shoppers are engaging, where they are spending their time online, what words and phrases they use to find products on search engines, etc. Old methods of personalization do not gather any information on consumer interest and intent and therefore will not efficiently leverage the benefits of personalization as we will see it in 2012.
Online and Offline Integration
Online and offline integration is also a developing trend that will only become more vital to retailer success in 2012. This integration is taking on a completely new meaning than it had in 2011. Throughout the past year, integrating on and offline shopping simply meant offering features such as in-store pick of products purchased online. However, the type of integration ecommerce solutions will see trending in 2012 is bringing the offline shopping experience to the online marketplace. This can take the form of social shopping, extra personalization, one click checkout and more. Websites like sneakpeeq have engaged in this trend by creating online social shopping experiences that match the offline experience. Additionally, PayPal opened a pop-up store in New York City to show users how they plan to integrate on and offline shopping in the new year.
Whether retailers are prepared for it, or not, shoppers are already integrating these two spheres in their own way. Consumers rely on their smartphones almost immediately upon entering brick-and-mortar stores in order to look up online reviews and price comparisons. Retailers should use this integration to their advantage by designing physical storefronts to accommodate interface with ecommerce solutions through consumers use and reliance on smartphones.
Continuing on from online and offline integration, retailers in 2012 must have a handle on their mobile commerce solutions. Consumers are embracing mobile commerce more than ever and mobile is now strategically important for all retailers. PayPal reported a 516% increase in global mobile payments this Black Friday compared to Black Friday 2010. Furthermore, there was a reported 371% increase in the amount of consumers shopping on mobile devices this Black Friday from the same day in 2010. In addition, mobile commerce solutions could see a shift from apps to m-sites in 2012. It may be time for merchants to ditch apps in favor of m-sites as shoppers are increasing looking to m-sites due to their immediacy.
Marketplace Optimization is a fairly new term coined by Zoovy but has potential to be a big ecommerce trend in 2012. It is an important tool for merchants who depend on business gained through their storefronts on marketplaces like Amazon or eBay. On these marketplaces, merchants aim to be the highest ranked seller when it comes down to consumers deciding on purchases. Competition on marketplaces is stiff and sellers need ways to separate themselves from others who offer identical products. Marketplace optimization is the idea is that merchants can increase their ranking and position on marketplaces, thus close more sales when a competitive price isn’t enough. Zoovy has developed specific techniques to help merchants achieve marketplace optimization and improve performance and plans to announce these techniques in January 2012.
Facebook commerce thus far has been a lot about experimentation for retailers, but with growing success in the area it is important for retailers to add a sales channel to their social strategy in 2012. Although f-commerce has mostly been in the testing stage, F-commerce will prove to extremely valuable for retailers, especially with the growing amount of users who “liked” and shared products in their news feeds in 2011.
Social shopping through Facebook is also gaining popularity with platforms like Shopcade and sneakpeeq, both of which attempt to recreate the offline shopping experience using an online platform (ahem, online and offline integration). Facebook commerce is beneficial for both these sites due to the amount of likes and shares products receive from shoppers using these apps. Although Facebook has been slower starting in the ecommerce scene than originally expected, consumers are beginning to feel more comfortable making purchases through social media outlets, making F-commerce a trend that will only gain momentum in 2012.
As we’ve seen with Shazam’s new technology, Shazam for TV, the ability to purchase products seen on television or other kinds of video media is gaining momentum. Currently, Shazam for TV has partnered with television shows in order to allow audiences to access products from their mobile devices while watching certain television programs. In 2012, video commerce will continue to be further developed in the ecommerce sphere as follows: Suppose you are on a brand’s online store and there is a video of someone in a particular outfit, you might click on her skirt and move it into your cart. This video commerce is different than what it looked like 2011, as consumers will not only see automated products videos. The video commerce trend of 2012 is moving beyond automated product videos and becoming an interactive process where shoppers can access products they see on TV at the same moment they are watching it. Ecommerce solutions who can leverage this technology will put themselves ahead of the pack in 2012.
There are several trends that were considered for this list such as group buying, private sales sites and push shopping. Push shopping and private sales sites are definitely still relevant, but are not new or emerging trends for 2012. As far as group buying, it’s hard to say if it will continue to be a relevant trend considering the ups and downs Groupon has experienced on the road to their IPO. Although Groupon and competitor Living Social met some success this past weekend on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, it’s difficult to be certain whether they will continue to thrive in 2012.
Opportunities and methods for connecting with customers and making sales are constantly evolving. As merchants prepare for the new year, they should consider trying out a couple of these emerging trends. With the increasing amount of consumers turning to online storefronts to make purchase, there will inevitably be more new trends that pop up in upcoming months.
November 23, 2011
By the ZippyCart Content Team
Just in time for the holiday shopping season, Shopcade has introduced a new social shopping application for Facebook users. Launched yesterday, Shopcade attempts to offer the millions of users on Facebook a true social shopping experience. The app allows users to browse, buy, and share products while earning cash rewards.
Shopcade has a catalog of over 40 million products from 20,000 brands in categories like fashion, electronics, books and movies, home decor, beauty and more. Users set up “Shopcades,” or personalized lists of products they want to share with friends through their social network. To assist users in finding desirable products, the application collects product data and displays trending products in real-time. Another unique feature is the product recommendation feed, which provides suggestions of products users may be interested in based on their activity and “likes” on Facebook. Also on the Shopcade home page, shoppers can stay up-to-date with information about what their friends are adding and buying.
Shopcade founder and CEO, Nathalie Gavaeu explained the application:
“Shopcade leverages the power of Facebook to the benefit of consumers and brands alike. It turns the ‘social network’ into the ‘social shopping network,’ allowing 800 million socially-connected people to shop, share and be rewarded all in one place. Rather than brands dictating what people should buy, Shopcade empowers people to share products that actually matter with each other. Now the customers are in control.”
Retailers are increasingly trying their hand at tapping into the growing social media population by creating effective “social” shopping experiences. In a survey conducted by Shopcade and YouGov 60% of social media users in the United States between the ages of 18 and 54 admitted their shopping decisions are, to some extent, influenced by their friends activity on their social networks. However, social media users usually don’t look to social networking websites to satisfy their shopping needs.
Harish Abbott, co-founder of social shopping platform Sneakpeeq had this to say regarding the difficulty of tapping into Facebook commerce:
“People don’t go to Facebook to shop. They never have.”
In order to reach social media users in a way that changes this trend, a social shopping application must be creative. Abbott suggests using “Facebook norms” and making applications game-like to spark user curiosity and interest. Sneakpeeq, which recently moved out of beta, offers an innovative social shopping experience by combining components of flash sales, gaming, and social networking. By leveraging game-like features, Sneakpeeq has captivated users and found success much success in Facebook commerce.
Shopcade attempts to produce a creative social shopping experience of their own by offering users several unique features including: Top-trending products, top-trending Shopcades, easy browsing and filtering, mutual rewards when a product is purchased from a friend’s Shopcade, personalized recommendations, and a personal URL, which allows users to add their Shopcade to blogs and other social media websites.
Launched just in time for the holiday shopping season, Shopcade is optimistic about the role social media will play in consumer spending.
November 9, 2011
By the ZippyCart Content Team
myTab provides an ecommerce solution for those who want to travel but need a creative way to generate funding. For example, studying abroad is without a doubt one of the best experiences one can have when in college. However, it can also be terribly expensive, making it an experience that not everyone can afford. With social gifting website myTab, students (or anyone else) can generate funds for trips through electronic donations, or gifts, from friends. myTab is not only targeted towards students planning to travel, but also birthdays, fundraisers, wedding/honeymoons, social trips and more.
myTab currently has partnerships with PayPal and Expedia, which makes it easier for friends to gift money online and for users to find outstanding travel deals. The partnership with PayPal specifically allows members to use myTab as a sort of online travel gift card.
Enabled by the connection to Facebook, users can make a shout outs to their friends on special occasions by posting: “Please put gifts on myTab” (or something to that degree). Facebook friends could then go to that users’ myTab account and give monetary gifts. The user can let friends know where they are planning to travel with their accumulated funds. Also, gift givers can post messages about the gift on Facebook, which then creates social traction.
myTab offers users the choice of searching and booking travel arrangements on their own or opting to use the Match myCash tool. The Match myCash feature finds the best deals for users based on their destination, travel dates and available cash (within 15% of one’s fund). Any funds that are left over once the trip is booked can be saved for future trips, re-gifted to a friend on myTab or donated to a charity.
Listed below are some of the unique features myTab offers:
- Plan trips (individually or with a group of friends)
- View and comment on Facebook friends trips
- Receive gifts of travel cash on myTab account
- Save travel cash
- Gift friends travel cash
- Book a flight or flight+hotel using Match myCash
Founder Heddi Cundle created myTab as a way to solve the problem of poor consumer loyalty in the travel industry due to obsession with price. 52% of travelers compare 3 or more travel sites before booking, which hugely affects consumer loyalty in this $700 billion industry.
Cundle described to us how myTab provides a solution to this problem:
With funds in the user’s myTab account, the experience is seamless, faster and easier vs hunting around on travel sites, trying to find the best price. And with our Match myCash feature, we’re a great ally to all travel suppliers. This is a first of its kind in online travel and a potential ecommerce giant in the making for select verticals. We’re the only company that’s ever discovered this problem & created a simple ecommerce solution.
myTab offers a unique twist on the recent social gifting trend. It seems like an especially valuable tool for students who plan to travel or study abroad but need help generating the funding to do so. It will be interesting to see how myTab fares through the holiday gift giving season- is social gifting going to be the new trend or do consumers still find value in giving/receiving physical gifts?
November 9, 2011
By the ZippyCart Content Team
We recently got a chance to sit down with Jim Wehmann, Senior Vice President of Global Marketing for Digital River, to chat about some strategies that businesses are using to market their ecommerce solutions this holiday season.
Businesses are increasingly turning to multi-channel marketing techniques to establish and reinforce online offers. We are seeing much higher levels of coordination this holiday season across a variety of online marketing channels such as email campaigns, flash deal sites, social media, and search campaigns. Companies are using combinations of these channels to keep customers checking back for new offers.
The days of social media sites being a strictly “social” experience are over, embedded commerce is now a large part of the experience on sites like Facebook. Marketers are using these channels to engage target audiences and promote offers more than ever. The main challenge that marketers face with social media sites is how to most effectively leverage the millions of fans or users in a way that makes it a better user experience for them as well.
A real-life example of how a business might leverage Facebook users to promote an offer would be to have a “hidden” offer on the business’s Facebook page. Let’s say the offer is 50 percent off on a downloadable PC game but users can’t see the offer until they “like” the page. Once a customer has signed up for the offer they have to wait until 1000 people have also “liked” the page and signed up for the offer before the download is released. This type of promotion keeps people coming back to check on the offer and also encourages them to spread the word to their friends.
Mobile and Tablet Commerce
The rapid expansion of mobile commerce is in effect multiplying the workload that marketers have to tackle. Merchants have to reformat and adapt their ecommerce solutions to function on a variety of devices in order to provide a convenient and easy shopping experience for customers. Most aspects of a promotional strategy need to be restructured for mobile because there is not as much “real estate” on small devices. For example banner ads that would be large and prominent on a computer screen don’t fit well into a tiny mobile display.
U.S. Market vs. Global Market
When it comes to marketing ecommerce solutions globally, companies have to take into account a lot of local factors for the country or region that they are promoting in. It is important to understand what a culturally appropriate user experience looks like and how different groups of people want to browse, shop, and buy. There are some universal commonalities in how people shop online but there are also lots of differences.
In the U.S., marketing strategies tend to be more promotional and harder hitting direct marketing strategies are used frequently. Customers respond well to things like discounts and free shipping when deciding what they want in their shopping carts. Comparatively, customers in Europe tend to be less spontaneous and want to see more research about a product so marketers might be more personal and use more of a letter format to promote offers.
About Digital River, Inc.
Digital River, Inc., a leading provider of global ecommerce solutions, builds and manages online businesses for software and game publishers, consumer electronics manufacturers, distributors, online retailers and affiliates. Its multi-channel ecommerce solution, which supports both direct and indirect sales, is designed to help companies of all sizes maximize online revenues as well as reduce the costs and risks of running an ecommerce operation. The company’s comprehensive platform offers site development and hosting, order management, fraud management, export controls, tax management, physical and digital product fulfillment, multi-lingual customer service, advanced reporting and strategic marketing services. Founded in 1994, Digital River is headquartered in Minneapolis with offices across the U.S., Asia, Europe and South America. For more details about Digital River, visit the corporate website, call +1 952-253-1234, or follow the company on Twitter.
About Jim Wehmann
In addition to leading Digital River’s corporate marketing activities as the Senior Vice President of Global Marketing, Jim Wehmann manages a group of skilled direct marketing experts who impact the success of some of the biggest and most recognizable brands on the Internet. Jim’s team specializes in marketing online programs, merchandising stores and implementing proven best practices that drive website traffic, increase close rates, multiply average order values and raise overall sales for many of Digital River’s largest clients.