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Greg Shuey

5 Easy Ways to Improve Product Pages & Their Conversion Rates

By | eCommerce | No Comments

When a person lands on your product page, they’re no longer just an interested visitor, they’re a prospective customer. And this page is your make or break point. It’s where a consumer will either decide to buy your product or leave your ecommerce site.

But too often newer store owners neglect their product pages. They throw up a picture and short product description and call it good to instead focus their attention on refining their checkout page… and that’s the problem.

A consumer isn’t going to make it to your checkout page unless you have an appealing, user-friendly product page that’s going to convert. And a product page that’s going to convert is one that showcases features of your product, informs customers why they should buy it, builds consumer-business trust and makes it easy to purchase.

Here’s how you can achieve all of that.

1. Add lots of customer reviews.

No matter how many details and pictures you share or how much you rave about your product being the No. 1 of its kind in your market, customers need reassurance that your product does what you say it does and that they can trust what you say. You give them that reassurance with customer reviews:

Not only do they help sell new customers, they help you with your SEO efforts, like creating unique content and capturing more long-tail SEO traffic as well as web traffic from users searching for ‘product name + reviews’.

[Screenshots from fossil.com]

And posting some negative reviews helps, too. Don’t post a lot obviously (hopefully you don’t receive a lot or that’s something else you need to improve), but 68% of customers trust product reviews more when there’s a mix of positive and negative ones—because we all know no one, and no company, is perfect.

2. Build out trust signals.

Along with product reviews, clearly state how much shipping is, how soon the product will ship out, how soon it will arrive and make it easy to save to a wish list. These things don’t just make it easy for follow-up emails and retargeting campaigns, but they reduce anxiety, like giving a customer peace of mind to know if she buys this product from you it will arrive on time to give to her dad for his birthday.

You can summarize this information to save some space on the product page, but if you do that make sure to include a link to a page that has more detailed information.

[Screenshot from nordstrom.com]

Also, if your product has any kind of certification, don’t just write it in your product description where it might be overlooked; make it really stand out by creating a badge to showcase it. These badges don’t just make your product look better, they make consumers more willing to trust you and your product, especially if the certification is from another company they already know and trust. One online company saw a 7.6% increase in conversion when they placed a security seal on the page.

3. Include several product images.

In the world of online shopping, customers can’t physically try on or test your product. Help them imagine themselves wearing your sweater or using your gadget with high-quality pictures.

[Screenshot from vitamix.com]

The key to good pictures is showing the product from different angles, setting up an image zoom feature and if size matters, showing the product next to something known so people can better understand its actual size, like an earring on a girl’s ear or a pendent next to a quarter. Also consider showing your product in different settings if it makes sense, such as having one stock photo of your stroller and then one of it actually being used by a mom and her kid on a sidewalk.

Something that worked wonders for online retailer DueMaternity.com was using 360-degree rotating images, which converted at a 27% higher rate than standard images for them.

4. Integrate live chat.

Live chat is a simple way to improve a page’s conversion rate. People want questions answered and problems solved quickly—live chat makes both happen.

[Screenshot from cellercise.com]

Knowing a customer rep is right there to help makes a shopper’s life easier. It lets them know you’re readily available and increases trust. It also gives your customer rep a chance to make the sale happen. (Tip: This person doesn’t need to be salesy, just be helpful and honest.)

5. Offer a money back guarantee (if you’re bold enough).

How often have you asked yourself when shopping online, “What happens if I don’t end up liking this once it arrives?” I think we all have numerous times.

[Screenshots from llbean.com]

If you tell people that your product is the best and they won’t be disappointed by it, then you better be able to back up all that talk with some action. And that action is putting a money back guarantee and return policy on every product page. To earn a customer’s trust and get them to buy your product, you have to have confidence in your products, and adding a section on each product page that says they’ll be 100% satisfied and if they aren’t they can get their money back shows your confidence.

A well-designed product page translates into a well-designed online shopping experience that will increase your conversions and sales. Make these 5 things happen, and you’ll up your conversion rates in no time.

From Kickstarter to eCommerce – 10 Things You Absolutely, Positively Have to Get Right

By | eCommerce | No Comments

You’ve put countless hours, and probably a lot of blood, sweat and tears, into your product. And maybe like GoldieBlox, you’ve showed it to investors and retailers in your industry, and they shut you down. But like this company, you believed in your product’s value and didn’t want to give up on your dream or throw away all your hard work. So you turned to Kickstarter, and one morning you woke up to find you were one of its more than 117,000 successfully funded projects.

But… what do you do now?

Well like many inventors or entrepreneurs in your situation do (or should do), it’s time to start your own ecommerce store. And if you want to get orders and grow fast, then you better do these 10 things—and you better do them right.

1. Pick the right platform.

There are dozens of ecommerce platforms out there for you to choose. But, not all platforms are created equal. Most of our clients run on Shopify, BigCommerce and WooCommerce, and we’ve found that clients on these platforms tend to outperform their counterparts running on different platforms. Just remember there’s no one-size-fits-all platform. Determine what features you need and then do your homework, and if you need to, ask platforms all your questions to ensure you choose the right one for your business.

2. Make sure your website is user-friendly and easy to navigate.

[Screenshot taken from wrightwoodfurniture.com]

The design of your site plays a crucial role in attracting and retaining customers, and getting them to buy your product. And while the colors, fonts and images you use are important, far too many sites these days are beautiful, but a total disaster to use. A well-designed, easy-to-navigate site makes it easy for consumers to find what they’re looking for and motivates them to check out more pages on your site. So make sure your products, contact information and about us pages are easy to find, since 86%, 64% and 52% of website visitors, respectively, want to see those pages once on the homepage of a site.

3. Have your website up and functional before your Kickstarter campaign ends.

You can only put so much information about your brand and product on your Kickstarter campaign page. On your own website, you can tell your full story and provide more information that gets people better engaging with you. Some backers will find you on Kickstarter but want to know more, and if you don’t have a website, how can they? Plus, your website will live long after your Kickstarter campaign ends, so launch your website before to capture as much attention and as many leads you can, while also building an email list.

4. Use professional product shots.

[Screenshot taken from nike.com]

Everyone with an iPhone these days thinks they’re a “professional photographer”—but what someone should tell them is they aren’t. Great shots sell. So do yourself a huge favor and take professional product shots to put on your product pages and help you stand out above your competition. And if you have the budget, you might also consider using product videos to show consumers how to properly use your product.

5. Optimize your website.

An ecommerce website is a website, meaning you have to ensure it’s optimized. A common SEO error ecommerce websites make is not optimizing their product pages. Each of your pages should be optimized for consumer demand and keywords searched when making headlines, title pages and product descriptions. When doing SEO for your website, start out focusing on long tail keywords for the first 3-6 months, and then work in head keywords where it makes sense.

6. Have a solid content strategy based off your customers.

No customers, no money. And customers today don’t just go online and buy a product; they first do their research. They want their questions answered and pain points addressed, and they’re going online to find someone who’s going to do that. So figure out what your customers’ pain points, questions and decision making process looks like and produce useful, entertaining content to address each of them. I promise that having a solid content marketing strategy will help you generate higher sales.

7. Carve out an influencer budget.

Industry influencers have already built a loyal, engaging following. So utilize what they’ve already got by finding ones relevant to your brand and customers and then developing a working relationship with them. But developing this relationship usually comes at a small price. You’ll need a combination of cash, product and the ability to produce affiliate links and coupon codes to attract heavy hitters who can really help drive demand to your ecommerce site.

8. Get and put up customer reviews on your website.

[Screenshot taken from xdorialife.com]

People hate to be sold by businesses, but they love to be sold by other people. In fact, 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations, and 72% of consumers trust businesses that have positive reviews. If you want to earn consumers’ trust—and their money—then in the early days of your business, make sure to collect reviews from every customer you can. And if you have the budget, consider using video testimonials.

9. Pick one social channel and hit it hard.

It’s tempting to want to try and dominate all social channels. But you’ll quickly find yourself out of time and energy trying to post new things and respond to comments on every channel. Do yourself a favor and pick one or two that best fit with your product and target audience, and do it better than anyone else on said platform.

10. Tap into communities.

There are so many different communities you can play in to get visibility for your brand. Chances are there are at least half a dozen forums where you can establish yourself as an active member—answering questions, asking questions, providing useful industry information, etc.—and once you’ve done that, then you can start to promote your products within those communities.

Now that you know these 10 things you need to do, find out the 10 ecommerce marketing tactics that desperately need your attention.

50 Resources to Help You Slay Your Kickstarter Campaign

By | Digital Marketing | No Comments

According to Kickstarter data, the site has had 117,448 successfully funded projects and more than $2 billion total dollars have been pledged to Kickstarter accounts (as of when this was written). It’s no wonder this global crowdfunding platform is the go-to place to launch a crowdfunding campaign.

But it takes more than a killer idea to kill your Kickstarter campaign. You need a straightforward strategy to raise money. Use this roundup of resources to help you start, manage and slay your Kickstarter campaign.

Kickstarter Resources

1. Creator Handbook — This is the how-to Kickstarter guide. It takes you through the basics of setting up your project’s description, choosing rewards, sending out updates and more.

2. Creator Resources Page — This page is a giant list of services that have been tested and approved by creators. You’ll find everything from design services to packaging, fulfillment, shipping and more.

3. Campus — An online chat resource where you can talk to and ask fellow creators about any part of running a Kickstarter campaign.

4. Reward Examples — Kickstarter has listed 96 varying examples of campaign rewards to inspire you when determining your own.

5. Kickstarter Rules — There aren’t a ton, but they’re something you should read and know before starting your Kickstarter campaign, so you don’t ruin your chances of getting the money you need for your project.

6. Kickstarter Blog — Full of tips and tricks and advice for Kickstarter newbies.

Project and Team Management and Collaboration

7. QuickBooks — This tool is used by many small and startup businesses, as well as accountants. as their accounting and budgeting tool. With various features, like tracking expenses, balance sheets and profit and loss reports, it’ll help you easily and efficiently set and manage your budget and expenses with your campaign and your business.

8. Trello — Trello is a free project management tool that will keep track of everything for you, from your daily tasks to the big project details.

9. Google Apps — With Gmail, Hangouts, calendars, docs and sheets, Google provides almost all the project collaboration and management tools you need to stay on top of project communications and creations.

10. Evernote — This is another way to keep organized and share ideas. Type up to-do lists and notes or talk and record your notes hands-free from your computer or mobile device.

11. DropBox — Use this cloud storage service to keep all your documents and other project assets in one place and accessible to everyone on the project from wherever and whenever they need them.

12. BackerKit — User-friendly way to manage data and your fulfillment and communication efforts with funders after your campaign, so you’re not trying to do it all by email or spreadsheets.

13. Basecamp — The best tool to use if you and your team members work primarily out of office. Tasks are visually organized and completed in a clear and concise way, and it’s easy to maintain communication all around.

Social Media

14-17. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn — How you use or don’t use social media can make or break your Kickstarter campaign. Getting the word out about your project, building a fanbase and connecting with influencers is what’s going to help you reach your funding goal. Just look at how these successful Kickstarter campaigns utilized and benefited from social media.

18. Facebook Advertising — If you want the post that links to your Kickstarter campaign to land in more newsfeeds, you may have to spend a little money using Facebook advertising. A little can go a long way, however, and you can even choose the audience you wish to appeal to.

19. Hootsuite — Efficiently manage your company’s social profiles in one user-friendly dashboard and relieve some of the time-consuming burden or constantly posting and pushing content by scheduling posts to go out ahead of time.

20. Buffer — Buffer is another time-saving social management tool. But some prefer it over Hootsuite for its analytics and ability to add RSS feeds to your buffer.

Email and Outreach

21. MailChimp — This email service helps you grow your business, and it’s great for your Kickstarter campaign because you can easily create and send customizable, personal thank you emails to backers and donors and keep them updated on your progress.

22. BuzzStream — A highly-favorable CRM tool that allows you to research influencers, manage influencer relationships and outreach to media people and bloggers.

23. BuzzSumo — BuzzSumo is a free tool that helps you find keyword-related content and industry influencers. There’s no CRM functionality so pair this with BuzzStream.

Landing Pages and Websites

24. Unbounce — A quick tool to build custom landing pages, a must for your campaign.

25. Wix — You need to build a website before you launch, and Wix is a free tool where you can make a personalized, mobile-friendly website.

26. WordPress —WordPress is a good tool to use if you’ve got basic knowledge of HTML and CSS. Plus it provides various free themes and plugins for creating an online blog and website.

27. Weebly — If you’re new to site building and looking for something less daunting than WordPress, Weebly provides fairly inexpensive domain names and makes it extremely easy for users to drop in photos and text.

28. Shopify — If you’re going to be selling products online, Shopify is a great platform for ecommerce businesses. Shopify is the most popular of the ecommerce platforms.

Project Assets

29. Youtube — Want to get people pumped about your campaign? Inspire them with a video. Youtube even makes it easy to link your fundraiser site using annotations.

30. Webcam or Smartphone — Use one of these to shoot a video to tell your awesome story. Kickstarter projects that have a video have a better success rate than those that don’t (50% compared to 30%). So introduce people to your project, your work area, the people involved, etc. Get people excited about your project by showing them why they need to!

31. Apple iMovie — A great video involves some editing. For those of you with Macs, use iMovie. It comes free with your computer and has a good reputation for its editing functionalities.

32. Windows Movie Maker — This is another free and easy-to-use video editor, except it’s for Windows users.

33. Free photo editing software — Photos are also good to have with your Kickstarter campaign, with GIMP and being the best free photo editing platforms out there.

34. Adobe Creative Cloud — If you’re planning on creating the bulk of your campaign’s marketing content on your own, you’ll want to download Adobe software. Photoshop your own campaign photos, edit video footage, or design your logo with their specialized programs.

35. Nik Collection — This complete image-editing suite used to cost $500, but Google is now giving it away totally free. It includes seven plugins with different specialties. Take your campaign photos to the next level with this free resource.

36. Lumoid — This site lets you rent excellent gear for photo and video projects. This is a great way to use stellar equipment when building the media for your campaign without making full, expensive purchases.

37. Rent equipment from school libraries — If you or a team member attend a college or university, another way to rent photo and video gear for your campaign is through a school library. Most schools have updated equipment that can be checked for free out using a student library card.

38. Square — Most donations will be made to your campaign online—but not all. Square is by far the best way to receive money via credit card in person. The Square Card Reader can easily connect to your mobile phone or smartpad.

Video Resources

39. Promoshin — Unable to make your own video? This company specializes in creating professional videos for successful Kickstarter campaigns.

40. Explendid Videos — If you’re on a tighter budget, try this company. All their animated video packages start under $1,000.

41. Ydraw — One way to make your campaign’s video memorable is with a white board drawing. They’ve increased in popularity, and research shows people pay closer attention to scribe videos.

42. Voice Jungle — Depending on the content of your Kickstarter video, you may want to consider hiring a voice actor to read your script. This is much cheaper than hiring and filming physical actors, and a professional voiceover can bring your video to the next level.

43. Fiverr — On a tighter budget? You might be surprised at what you could find at Fiverr. From designers to content writers to voice actors, you’ll find a startling variety of freelance services. The best part is, the vast majority start at $5.

Media Coverage

44. Local Newspapers — Local media is hungry for a good story, so if there’s something unique or exciting about your project, you might be able to pick up some coverage after contacting local writers or newspaper or magazine directors.

45. Local Radio — There could be a local radio station that would be open to featuring you, depending on the content of your Kickstarter campaign. Spread the word and gather support in your area by landing a brief interview.

46. Hunter — It’s easier to contact local reporters and radio stations than you think. This website will help you find any email address simply by entering the site name. Have a press release ready about your campaign that you can send to local reporters in a personal email.

47. Press Release Template Download — If local media is interested in your campaign’s story, they’ll want a sharp press release. Stay ahead of the game by creating your own, using free online templates such as this one.

Advice from Experts

48. Cash from the Crowd EBook — If you’re a bookworm and a notetaker, you may enjoy reading from an expert before beginning your Kickstarter campaign. Dig into this affordable E-Book from Sally Outlaw, easily read on the free Kindle app.

49. Free Crowdfunding Bible — This PDF is completely free and easily skimmable. You could find nuggets of advice that will help guide your Kickstarter campaign into sure triumph.

50. Crowdfunding for Social Good — If your Kickstarter campaign is non-profit based, this free EBook is perfect for you. You’ll find inspiring success stories and solid advice on how to use crowdfunding to allow your campaign to make a lasting impact.

Decide which of these 50 resources are a fit for your project and dive in. Pair them with your determination and great teamwork strategy and you’re bound to get some serious boostage for your Kickstarter campaign!

2017 Digital Marketing Predictions For eCommerce Businesses

By | eCommerce | No Comments

It’s that time of year again. Time for family gatherings, lots of food and planning your digital marketing strategies for the new year.

For those of you in the ecommerce world, competition is going to steadily increase next year, for large and small ecommerce businesses, and customers are going to be more difficult to win, easier to lose and pickier about user experience and shipping. But, ecommerce sales are also expected to grow to more than $400 billion in 2017.

So if you want to be profitable next year, you need to know the latest ecommerce trends and incorporate them into your planning. Below are 8 digital marketing predictions for ecommerce businesses anticipated by some of the best in the business.

1. “A focus on brilliant mobile UX may help a few more mobile customers to convert without switching to desktop, but for higher value items the focus should be providing a seamless experience across devices so users can browse on mobile and convert on desktop.” —Robert Allen, smartinsights.com

You can’t think of mobile users and desktop users as different people—because they aren’t. While mobile traffic makes up most of the web traffic (51% for mobile compared to 42% for desktop/laptop), consumers would rather purchase via their desktop, as data shows smartphone add-to-cart conversion rates are lower than desktop’s. This information conveys that consumers may start searching on mobile, but most ultimately end up buying from desktop, so you better provide a seamless experience across mobile and desktop devices to see more revenue.

2. “Influencer marketing is set to explode next year.” —Julie Chomiak, socialmediatoday.com

This has already started, but in case you’ve been living under a rock, influencer marketing will help you increase your consumer reach and bottom line. Why? Because 45% of online consumers go to social media before making purchases, while 88% of consumers trust online recommendations over what a brand has to say about a product. So find the right influencers—YouTubers, fashion bloggers, etc.—and start building a relationship with them now.

3. “If you can consistently provide an audience with entertaining information, you can build a relationship with that audience, which in turn many result in sales and profit.” —Armando Roggio, practicalecommerce.com

Entertainment and information are both important parts of content marketing. Consumers don’t just want answers to their questions; they also want to be entertained. And Roggio believes you can do both by releasing your own episode-based content. This ecommerce marketing tactic will help you produce a better content marketing plan and receive a high number of returning visitors month after month because consumers will grow accustomed to your style of information sharing and want to regularly check in for what’s next.

4. “Brands will expand globally.” —Paul Thomas, Luxury Retail Consultant at Retail Remedy, cpcstrategy.com

To continue competing and driving more sales, ecommerce businesses will look to expand globally. And with technology and social media, overseas expansion and engaging with foreign customers is easier than ever before. And according to Thomas, with the UK leaving the EU, the weaker pound has driven an increased number of international visitors, and that trend will continue into next year.

5. “2017 should see the rise of local drop-off points for online orders and same-day delivery.” —Kit SMith, brandwatch.com

Today’s customers want what they buy as soon as they can get it. The internet has made us pretty impatient shoppers, with 61% of U.S. consumers saying they’d pay for same-day delivery. We’ve all used and appreciate Amazon Prime, and more and more brands will start providing faster and more flexible delivery options in 2017, perhaps more even using same-day delivery drones.

6. 2017 will be “the era of beacons” and combining them with loyalty apps.brightvessel.com

[Source: brightvessel.com]

Beacons first gained their popularity in 2015, but it wasn’t until this year that beacon technology started dominating the retail market. And Bright Vessel believes businesses that combine beacons with loyalty apps—by creating customized rewards and promotions via information gathered from beacons—ecommerce businesses can start better tailoring deals and special offers to their customers based on their past shopping behavior. And as consumers, we know the importance of personalization.

7. “Getting your face out there for people to associate with your brand is going to increase your bottom line.” —Luisana Cartay, digitaldoughnut.com

Videos are super effective at capturing consumer attention. Shoppers who watch online videos are 1.81 times more likely to purchase than non-viewers, and Syndacast predicts that 74% of 2017’s internet traffic will be video. And live videos are where you should focus some of your video efforts in 2017, as they capture attention and let you engage with customers. Periscope and Meerkat started the live video trend, but now Facebook’s live-streaming feature is taking over, as people spend 3 times longer watching a live video and Facebook generates an astounding 8 billion video views per day.

8. Chatbots are “going to change the way brands and consumers interact.”smartinsights.com

Chatbots imitate a person a consumer is able to communicate with online. Talking with your customers is important for business growth, but it’s hard to communicate with every customer when you’re running a growing ecommerce business. Chatbots were a breakthrough marketing technology this year, and are expected to come into their own in 2017. They’ll be able to provide one-on-one chats, give personalized marketing messages and shopping experiences and faster product searches and payment processes for consumers. They’ll increase your ROI while keeping your costs low since you won’t need to hire a handful of customer support representatives.

What do you think ecommerce business should know heading into 2017?

10 Ecommerce Marketing Tactics That Desperately Need Your Attention

By | eCommerce | No Comments

Looking to increase traffic and sales to your online store? Of course you are. That’s what every ecommerce business wants.

And that’s exactly why I put together this list of ecommerce marketing tactics you need to put into action—like right now.

1. Split testing product pages and working to improve conversion rate.

A good conversion rate is crucial to having a higher sales volume. And one of the smartest ways to improve conversion rate is split testing (or A/B testing) your product pages. When you can’t decide what headline or page layout will perform better, test two versions and let consumers make the decision for you. A/B testing tools evenly divide and send your traffic to the two different pages and then you can look at your analytics to see which page produced more conversions. In regards to what you should test with your product pages, I recommend:

  • Headlines
  • Page layouts
  • Navigation
  • CTA phrasing and size of buttons
  • Media used (i.e. if a video or written content perform better)

2. Simplifying site navigation.

Every site visitor should have a good user experience. If they don’t, they won’t buy from you or ever come back to your site. The key to a good user experience is making it stupid simple to navigate to any section of your site. All pages should be no more than three clicks away from the home page for starters. Have your friends and family navigate through your site and let them tell you if it’s simple or confusing (you know they’ll be honest with you). When you make it easy for consumers to get what they want, you both get what you want—a new item and money.

3. Creating an ongoing product review collection process.

Reviews give you credibility. Credibility gives you more sales. Customers trust reviews they read online almost as much as they’d trust their best friend giving them a personal recommendation. In fact, 55% of shoppers say that reading online reviews is a part of their buying process. Product reviews also improve your search rank, and the higher up you rank for something on a search engine, the greater your chance of increasing clicks and traffic to your site. Hands down one of the easiest ways to get people on your site to ultimately buy your product is having an ongoing collection of positive product reviews you highlight on your product pages. Get more reviews by selling awesome products, having great customer service and asking for reviews!

4. Recreating product descriptions and beefing them up.

fitbit[Source: fitbit.com/charge]

Fitbit understands good product descriptions and layout. But sadly, too many ecommerce sites, especially when starting out, underestimate the impact quality content has on boosting conversion rates. High-quality images are needed, but so are high-quality product descriptions. Consumers see the images, but search engines don’t. Some of the simple tricks to writing product descriptions that sell are using keywords, making them unique and actually writing to sell. Never use descriptions from the manufacturer—search engines will penalize you. Creating your own unique ones and beefing them up ensures you don’t have duplicate content and is just better for your SEO efforts.

5. Sending shopping cart abandonment emails.

The average online shopping cart abandonment rate is 68.81%. That’s high, and keeps good retailers from too many sales. So what can you do? You resolve any hesitation a consumer has or remind them that they left an item in their shopping cart by sending shopping cart abandonment emails. Convince them to return to their cart and buy by making it easy for them to do and giving them an incentive to purchase, like maybe offering a discount on their next purchase. Or, you could be bold like this company and show a picture of a cute puppy.

blackmilk[Source: shopify.com]

I mean, who could say no to that adorable face.

6. Managing and nurturing your email list…better than you are now.

Good email marketing strategies help any kind of ecommerce business generate sales. Part of having a good strategy is knowing how to manage and nurture your email list. Email marketing’s goal isn’t to get you sales—it’s about creating and developing relationships (which then get you sales). This is where nurturing comes in. With lead nurture emails you can “soft sell” consumers, but mostly you want to nurture your relationship with each subscriber by educating, entertaining and telling business and customer stories. As for managing your email list, it’s important to make sure you’re sending emails consistently and sending the right kinds to the right people. No one likes getting spammed at the end of the year with holiday products and sales when they haven’t heard from you the last 10 months.

7. Turning top-of-the-funnel browsers into leads.

Maybe a consumer just stumbled onto your site. Or maybe they know they’ll need a product like yours in the near future, but aren’t looking to buy right that very moment. But who says you can’t turn them into a lead while they browse? If you have a compelling digital asset, like say a guide or eBook pop up, whichever works best for your industry, you can generate a lead even if they aren’t ready to purchase. Once you turn them into a lead, you can use other tactics to nurture them and eventually convert them.

8. Putting a twist on influencer marketing.

Industry influencers already have an engaged audience. Why not tap into that existing audience? Utilizing influencer marketing aligns you with a well-known influencer—in your case it could be high-profile bloggers—as well as their audience. So don’t be shy. Reach out and find some who are willing to share your content and feature your items in a blog post or video review they share with their social followings. Other unique things you can do are offer affiliate commissions and discount codes for their audience.

9. Staying on top of technical SEO issues.

Ecommerce sites are often plagued with all the technical SEO issues you could ever imagine. Things like ugly URLs, 404 pages (since ecommerce inventory is always changing these happen more than you think), homepage redirects, stacked redirects, meta data, etc., which hinder your site’s SEO performance and keep it from converting. If you’re a SEO guru, then you probably already have all this under control. But I’m going to assume you aren’t, in which case you should hire a marketing agency to handle the technical SEO side of your website to ensure you have good search rankings and good user experience.

10. Installing the new Facebook pixel and retargeting your heart out.

If you haven’t heard of the Facebook pixel, read on. This cool tool lets you put a single pixel across your site to report conversions, build your target audience and gain insights into how people use your ecommerce site. After installing it, you can easily measure cross-device conversions, optimize ads to ensure they’re being seen by those most likely to take action, run relevant and timely Facebook ads based on products shoppers have checked out on your site and automatically build audiences to retarget. Facebook’s one-pixel solution makes conversion tracking and remarketing so easy, so start using it right now.

GUARANTEE

The Cost Savings of Working With A Content Marketing Agency vs In-House [Infographic]

By | Content Marketing | No Comments

in-house vs agency costs infographicThe Rise of Content

Content marketing is on the rise for Business-to-Business (B2B) and Business to Customer (B2C) companies. As both a cost effective and prosperous strategy, content marketing engages and retains customers while constantly building your brand.

  • 70% of B2B are creating more content than they were this time last year.
  • Companies with blogs generate 67% more leads than those who don’t.
  • Only 38% of companies who internally produce content report that their content is effective.

Agency vs. In-House Costs

Company leaders are having a difficult time hiring employees who have all the necessary skills for good In-house marketing. A fully loaded content team isn’t cheap and neither are their tools.

  • 96% of marketing leadership say that the skills needed to drive online results have changed.
  • 44% can’t find singular employees who have all the skills necessary to in-house market.
  • A fully loaded marketing team can cost upwards of $330k a year without benefits or insurance, sick days etc.

Keep in mind that these numbers are averages from across the US. Real amounts will depend on geographical location and current demand of marketing talent.

It’s also important to note that the only way to increase output in-house is to hire more people, it is not scalable like agency options!!!

Big Brands Trust Agencies

Agility, quick results, and innovative thinking are just a handful of the reasons the biggest brands in the world choose to partner with marketing agencies, in fact, 62% of companies now outsource some or all of their content marketing.

Stryde Featured by Clutch

By | Content Marketing | No Comments

clutchStryde was recently featured by Clutch. Clutch is a Washington, D.C.-based research firm that focuses on identifying leading digital agencies, developers and software firms that have a proven record of client satisfaction.

Clutch reviews hundreds of agencies in the digital and content marketing space and selects those to feature on its website based on their ability to meet their clients’ needs. Their selections are driven not only by companies’ market presence and previous experience, but, most importantly, by what these companies’ customers have to say about them!

For instance, one of our clients, the marketing campaign manager for a medical device firm, said:

“Stryde has done a great job at driving the strategy… They’re willing to help us with anything from ad creation, to writing, to design. It’s nice that they have that broad range… Since we’ve started working with Stryde, I am seeing an overall web traffic increase. It has increased by about 43 percent.”

Another client, the owner of an events services company, stated:

Immediately we’ve had a much better rate of success. Our exposure has magnified a lot since we brought them on board. I know that our first month’s sales for January tripled. We have had more sales than we’ve ever done in the history of our company, which is four years old. For me, I would say that’s a huge impact. I’m very pleased.”

She later added:

“I have used other marketing groups before, and even paid less than what I’m paying for now, but Stryde’s product is much more superior to what I’ve ever seen from anybody else. I’m really pleased with the results. We’ve only been with them for a few months, and our sales have skyrocketed.”

We couldn’t be happier about our feature in Clutch, which shows the emphasis that we put on client success and satisfaction. For more information check out Stryde’s Clutch profile and reviews.

How To Choose The Right Content Marketing Agency

By | Content Marketing | No Comments

Some of the more common questions we’re asked during the sales process are “how do I know that I’m choosing the right content marketing agency?” or “what makes a good content marketing agency?”. Because the idea of content marketing is so new to businesses large and small, I wanted to create a follow up post to one created by Shannon this summer called 7 Elements of Choosing a Content Marketing Agency.

This post should act as a guide and a resource to develop better questions to ask as you go through the discovery and consideration stages of the decision making process.

Subject Matter Expertise

When looking to engage with a content marketing agency, one thing you need to be sure of is that they can write for your industry. Creating good content is hard enough without adding in a technical element that might be foreign to general writers. Keep in mind that it’s okay if your agency outsources content to subject matter experts who know your vertical; you just need to make sure that someone who knows your industry is producing your content from the very beginning.

Practice What They Preach

One of the biggest signs that you’re engaging with a winning agency is that they practice what they preach! Take a look at their blog. Do they provide consistent resources that actually provide value to their readers? What do they offer their audience in terms of premium content like eBooks, guides, white papers, and videos?

Provide Thought Leadership

Any content marketing agency worth their weight provides thought leadership in several different areas. First, they seek opportunities to provide their expertise to industry publications. Second, they are invited to speak and participate at different events and conferences. You shouldn’t worry too much about agencies getting published in Forbes, Huffington Post, Inc.com or any other national publication. Truth be told, anyone can pay a writer can get their content onto those websites. That’s our one, dirty little secret to share with you in this guide. Welcome to the new age of online PR. 🙂 Instead, look for consistency in publishing content that speaks to their audience.

Provide Case Studies & Client References

Before deciding on an agency to go with, you need to make two specific requests. First, you need to request case studies. Some agencies don’t publish full case studies on their website (like us) due to agreements with current clients not to publicly share their data, but can share them privately.

Second, you need to request 2-3 introductions to clients who would be willing to talk with you on the phone to discuss their experience. It’s best if the clients are somewhat related to your vertical, but they don’t have to be.

Here are some questions you might consider asking:

  • Overall, how has your experience been?
  • Has the agency delivered on promises made during the sales process?
  • How is the quality of the content they are producing?
  • How is the quality of the customers they are generating?
  • How is their communication and reporting?
  • Do they treat you as a client or as a partner?
  • Do they work as though they are part of your internal team?
  • Do they think outside the box?
  • Do you believe they have your best interest in mind?
  • Would you recommend them to a friend, family member, or colleague?

Have Clearly Defined Roadmaps & Success Metrics

One area where agencies tend to really struggle is in identifying success metrics for your unique business needs and mapping a plan that will help you get from point A to point B. The content marketing agency you choose should have a very good idea, before you close the deal, of what your business does and how you generate revenue. They should be able to provide you with some KPIs that are unique to your business. You should also request some sample client roadmaps that they’ve created so you can see how they operate on a weekly and monthly basis.

Provide Thorough Reporting

Along the lines of roadmaps and success metrics, your agency should be providing thorough reporting to you on a regular basis. Reports should include what’s being worked on, what’s scheduled, and any road blocks that they need your help in overcoming. Reports should also include your unique success metrics and how far along they are to meeting/exceeding your goals. At minimum reports should be delivered once per month. A good agency will deliver twice per month and hold in-person meetings or calls on a regular basis.

Have A Strategy For Each Channel

A good content marketing agency knows that content should fuel all other channels and create demand for a product or service. When engaging in content marketing, your agency should know how to leverage their content to improve your SEO, create more effective PPC campaigns, and skyrocket your social media presence and engagement.

A good agency knows that different channels require a different approach; you cannot take the same content and submit it to Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Instagram and see success. Your audience is conditioned to use each channel differently and requires a unique strategy to reach and engage with them.

It’s also worthwhile to note that you don’t have to attack all channels at once. In fact, a good agency will pick a few channels and focus on getting them right before moving on to additional ones. 

Use Marketing Automation/Lead Nurturing To Convert More Prospects To Customers

Agencies that really understand content marketing know that not all leads coming through a website or any other channel, online or offline, are created equal. Every prospect is in a different part of the decision making process and require different touch points to move them through the funnel. When choosing a content marketing agency, make sure they understand and deploy a strategy for nurturing leads through a marketing automation platform. The platform used is irrelevant, but they should be able to make recommendations based on the stage your business is in.

 

Understand The Buyer Journey, The Sales Funnel, & How To Move Prospects Through It

If you can find an agency that understands how buyers make decisions, how they move through the sales funnel, and how to encourage prospects to take next steps, grab them and never let go. A lot of content marketing agencies just want to build and market content and don’t take the time to map the buyer journey and individual pieces of content to each step. Doing so will not only help you convert more prospects into customers, but also will help position you as an industry leader.

Build An Audience, Not Borrow One

Good content marketing agencies are interested in building you an audience, not borrowing one. If you think back to the days or MySpace, what happened when they shut down their services? Brands lost all that they invested in borrowing an audience on their platform. What happens if the four hundred thousand followers you have on Facebook disappear tomorrow? Smart marketers work to tap an audience, bring them to your “playground” and work to turn them into an owned audience that can be engaged with on your terms.

Sensitive To Your Brand

Every business is unique and every brand is unique as well. Agencies that understand this and know how to work with brand teams to make their lives easier is a huge win. You should look for an agency that has checklists and a process for creating content that’s in-line with your brand and can easily be reviewed by someone internally without sucking a lot of bandwidth.

Interested In Using/Repurposing Already Existing Content

Money is a sensitive topic, even in the business world. Many content marketing agencies want to get in and start producing content day one. Good agencies take a full inventory of all the content owned by a business and determine what can be reused/repurposed for other uses. This process can save businesses thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours that can be invested in other initiatives.

Make It Easy To Work With Them

Flexibility is huge when it comes to working with an agency. A good content marketing agency should be able to plug into your systems and processes without skipping a beat. Be wary of any agency forcing you to operate in a certain way in order to do business with them.

Ask For Data Up Front

You know the old adage — you don’t know where you’re going until you know where you’ve been? The same applies to any form of marketing. Unless your potential agency understands where you are currently at, they cannot effectively put together a plan of action, scope of work, or accurate pricing to deliver the results you are looking for. You should plan on providing access to, or at the least, providing PDF exports of your analytics data, webmaster tools data, and lead generation data. Be wary if your agency doesn’t ask for this fairly early in the process.

View You As A Partner, Not Just Another Client

Solid marketing agencies view and treat you like you’re a long-term partner, not just another client. Pay attention to the words they use in referring to your potential engagement. Do they refer to you as a client or a partner? Do they send contracts or agreements?

Integrate With In-House Teams

Along the same lines as above, you will want to find an agency that integrates with your in-house team. Some agencies want to come in and run the show. This usually ends poorly. Good agencies understand that there are always going to be strengths and weaknesses inside of organizations and if they can plug the holes and make weaknesses, strengths, they are likely a good agency to do business with.

They’re Not Cheap

Good marketing — online or offline — requires a significant investment. Creating valuable content that drives brand awareness and gets a prospect to take action is expensive. There’s no way around it. One of the first things you should ask agencies is what their minimum retainer is. If it’s under $3,000 – $4,000 per month for a minimum of 6-12 months, they are going to have a really hard time producing results for you.

If you have a smaller budget than that, ask the potential agency where they feel you would be best to invest it. Good agencies will provide answers like, “hire an intern to help with x, y, or z”, “invest in a redesign of the website”, invest in conversion optimization to turn more if your visitors into leads”, or “invest in a marketing automation solution to convert more of your leads into paying customers”. These are the agencies that really have your best interests in mind and don’t just want your money.

I hope this was helpful for you in your quest to find the perfect agency. In the next couple of weeks we will be turning this into a downloadable guide/worksheet, so make sure you check back. We will also send it out via email, so make sure you subscribe to our newsletter.

If you have any follow up questions please fill out the form on our contact us page and either I or a member of our team will be in touch.

 

Stryde Honored With UVEF’s Top 25 Under 5 Award

By | Awards | No Comments

Every year, the Utah Venture Entrepreneur Forum honors 25 companies throughout Utah with its Top 25 Under 5 award. More than 200 individuals and companies have been recognized over the years. The UVEF selects the award’s winners based on revenue and job creation, and obviously only 5 years old or younger.

Stryde is honored to be this years #18!

Everyone at Stryde is over-the-moon about receiving this coveted honor. Our team works tirelessly every day to deliver the utmost value to our clients. That’s really why we’ve been so successful: we ensure each client receives the value not only that they anticipated, but the value they dreamt of.

The relationship is much more of a partnership, which is why our retention rates are so high. Our ability to retain and grow with our clients is the core of Stryde’s success.

Congratulations to all of the winners!

Our team wants to extend heartfelt congratulations to each of the 24 other recipients of the Top 25 Under 5 award. We are in some pretty amazing company!

  1. Vision Solar
  2. TaskEasy
  3. Spark Innovation LLC
  4. SnapPower
  5. JANE.com
  6. Nokē
  7. Chatbooks, Inc.
  8. Domo
  9. MX
  10. NUVI
  11. Disruptive Advertising
  12. Needle, Inc.
  13. DemoChimp
  14. HEROIC
  15. Lucid Software Inc.
  16. DevMountain LLC
  17. Blackrock NeuroMed, LLC
  18. Stryde
  19. Signs.com
  20. SpinGo Solutions, Inc.
  21. HQ
  22. Omadi, Inc.
  23. Foxtail Marketing
  24. foreUP
  25. Weave

About the UVEF

The Utah Venture Entrepreneur Forum has served Utah entrepreneurs for over two decades. As a non-profit, the UVEF connects entrepreneurs to money, recognition and education. We are so honored to receive this distinction from such an amazing organization, thank you UVEF!

STRYDE | Can You Trust An Agency With Your Brand’s Content? 2

Can You Trust A Content Marketing Agency With Your Brand’s Content?

By | Content Marketing | No Comments

As an experienced business leader, you know your brand backwards and forwards. You’ve built this brand from the ground up, cultivating its every characteristic with devoted attention to detail. No one knows this brand better than you.

The responsibilities that come with building this brand are vast, and implementing content marketing is just the beginning.

But then you have to answer the age-old question: Do you manage your brand’s content strategy on your own or do you contract this process to an agency?

Content in-house

At first, you may feel it’s best to manage the content on your own. After all, no one knows better than you, the brand’s creator and developer. You’ve been this brand’s caretaker from step one; ensuring the brand experiences nothing but success. How could anyone else possibly deliver content that would come close to what you envision for your brand?

On the other hand, your time is valuable. You’ve spent hours, days, weeks, months and maybe even years developing the brand and everything it stands for. It’s time you let someone else take the reigns, at least in one area of responsibility.

Contracting out your brand’s content means more time in your schedule for other aspects of the brand’s presence. Using an agency to curate brand content is a solid investment in your brand’s future. Customers want good content. In fact, a recent study found that customers were more likely to commit to a brand or business that provided targeted, insightful content.

Outsourcing content and focusing on what you know

Contracting an agency is a great option for your brand. But a main concern you’re probably having is wondering how you’ll know if the agency you choose can be trusted to curate content that truly reflects your brand’s mission, goals and endeavors.

In order to decipher whether an agency can be trusted to deliver quality content for your brand, it needs to be evident from the start. Below are a few ways to sift through the weeds and find an agency you can trust.

What To Look For In A Content Marketing Agency

Client Focused

A trustworthy agency is client focused. They’re more concerned with how your business experiences their services, rather than what goes into their bank accounts. A client-focused content agency works with you to create a bundle of services that fits your brand’s needs.

A client-focused agency is also able to anticipate what your brand may need in the future. Maybe at this point in time you’re only looking to contract with the agency for your brand’s blog content. In the future, the agency will be able to demonstrate how they can be effective through other avenues of digital media, i.e. social media, lead referrals, email copy, etc. The right agency is prepared to discuss viable options that fit your budget and improve your brand’s exposure.

Selective Approval

Agencies who select their clients carefully are more likely to be trustworthy content curators. Their goal isn’t to gain as many clients as possible; it’s to truly focus on clients whose goals and strategies align. An agency that’s selective is an agency that can be trusted to produce carefully curated content for your brand’s marketing strategy.

Case Studies and Content Samples

Look into what companies the agency has previously worked with. Are there content samples available that would demonstrate the agency’s ability to produce cohesive and impactful content? Have they worked with companies who have faced marketing hurdles similar to what your brand is experiencing? Can they show quantitative proof that their services have benefited these companies?

Ask the agency to provide content samples for other brands they have previously or are currently engaged with. Also, discuss the possibility of receiving a case study or two that demonstrates the measurable proof behind their methods of achieving success through content marketing. Gain cold, hard facts, not just verbal confirmation of success with other organizations.

Expertise

A content marketing agency can have all the bells and whistles in the world, but if it doesn’t have the expertise, it’s a no-go. A reliable agency employs content curators who are as diverse as the day is long. Diversity allows for a greater range of knowledge within the agency’s content curation services and provides your brand with rich and consistent content.

Quality content agencies are fluent in multiple areas of expertise, and they continue to expand their knowledge base by keeping up with current marketing trends. Agencies worth working with aren’t static, but fluid with regards to knowledge base and industry expertise. Seek out an agency that not only produces content, but knows how to promote and distribute the content through channels like SEO, Social Media, Influencer Marketing, and PPC.

Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide whether or not to source your brand’s content to an agency. Just remember as you’re deciding that reputable agencies will possess the following:

  • A broad knowledge base about a variety of subjects and industries
  • Content samples and case studies readily available upon request
  • A client-focused mission dedicated to provide excellent customer service
  • Selective approval based upon compatibility with potential clients and partners.

Be sure to keep these qualities in mind when choosing a content marketing agency to trust with your brand’s content.