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eCommerce

Pros & Cons of the Top 5 Ecommerce Platforms

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From ease of use to offered themes and everything in between, we break down the good and the bad on the top 5 ecommerce platforms (in no specific order) so you can successfully start and run your own ecommerce store.

1. WooCommerce

screenshot of WooCommerce platform

Powering 39% of the world’s online stores (according to their website), it’s clear WooCommerce is liked and used by many in your same shoes, which is a good sign for you.

Pros

  • Free WordPress plugin
  • Easy to use if you’re familiar with WordPress
  • Able to use basically any WordPress theme you want (thousands to choose from)
  • Built-in payments via PayPal and Stripe, while also accepting checks, bank transfers and cash on delivery payments
  • Unlimited products and product categories
  • Hundreds of plugins available
  • No limitations to how you can monitor your store
  • You have total control over your data
  • Offers various plugins to help your site be better optimized for SEO

Cons

  • As an open source software it’s free, but you have to pay third-party sites to actually run your ecommerce store (pay for hosting, SSL certificate and domain).
  • The process of setting it up can take a few hours, depending on your web knowledge. You have to get a domain name, sign up for a hosting account, install WordPress and then install a WordPress theme before you can install the WooCommerce plugin.
  • File storage is limited by your web host

2. Shopify

screenshot of Shopify platformBased on current popularity, Shopify is the clear winner amongst its ecommerce platform peers.

Ecommerce platforms popularity comparison graph[Screenshot from ecommerce-platforms.com]

So what makes Shopify the “it” platform right now? And what are its imperfections that so many are able to overlook? Let’s take a look.

Pros

  • Easy to set up (seriously, you can be done in minutes)
  • Offers more than 100 high-quality, fashionably sleek themes
  • Cheap, straightforward pricing for new businesses ($29/month for the basic option)
  • Can try the platform for free for 14 days
  • Offers numerous free features, i.e. unlimited file storage, social media integration, unlimited number of products, daily backups, blog module, site stats, product reports and more
  • Can use it online and offline
  • Allows for various payment options, i.e. PayPal, Stripe, bank deposits and cash on delivery
  • Known for its superior customer care, 24/7 access to a customer adviser

Cons

  • Only about 20 of their store templates are free. The others can run as high as $180.
  • Advanced Shopify option costs $299/month
  • If you don’t use Shopify Payment, you get charged an additional transaction fee on each sale.
  • Shopify, not you, controls your ecommerce store and site’s data
  • Uses liquid markup language, meaning system customizations are possible, just for additional costs

3. BigCommerce

screenshot of Bigcommerce platformBigCommerce merchants have a 28% annual growth rate, about 2 times the industry average (according to BigCommerce’s site), and works with big-name companies like Toyota and Camelbak. See why these businesses and others trust their company with BigCommerce.

Pros

  • No hosting, update or maintenance expenses
  • Not charged a transaction fee
  • Clear dashboard and direction to easily build your site in a few, short minutes
  • Offers unlimited products, bandwidth and staff accounts
  • Provides a comprehensive list of built-in features, i.e. coupons, newsletters, tax system, customized shipping, analytics and more
  • Very SEO-friendly
  • Pricing is similar to others, with their standard plan costing $29.95/month
  • Receive customer support through phone, email, live chat or the forum

Cons

  • Lack of free themes compared to other platforms
  • Recurring billing isn’t built right into the platform
  • Annual limit on sales volume with each plan

4. Magento

screenshot of Magento platformAround 300 stores currently use Magento, like Coca-Cola and Burger King. It’s a great platform for enterprise-level businesses, but also offers perks for new businesses wanting to grow.

Pros

  • Seamless user experience
  • Scalability
  • Open source platform, meaning there’s a lot you can customize
  • Offers thousands of apps and extensions, including a free social extension so you can sell on social media
  • No charge to download the software
  • No transaction fees
  • Allows for an unlimited number of products
  • Offers more than 100 free themes
  • 100% SEO-friendly

Cons

  • Being an open source platform, it can make customization complex, so you might have to hire a good developer, unless you’re really tech-savvy
  • Self-hosted so you have to find and pay for a hosting provider and domain name
  • Doesn’t offer access to a 24/7 support person, but there are support forms you can check out

5. Volusion

screenshot of Volusion softwareVolusion is known to help out smaller startup ecommerce companies. Read on to see if it offers what you need to succeed.

Pros

  • Only costs $15/month for their mini plan
  • Can try it for free for 14 days
  • No transaction fees
  • Good marketing features
  • Intuitive interface
  • Simple frontend
  • Responsive design
  • Social media options so you can sell and share online
  • Can set up a customer loyalty program
  • Can integrate to sell on Amazon and eBay as well
  • Offers 24/7 support through different formats

Cons

  • Not too many awesome design options (28 free themes, 88 paid ones)
  • Really need coding knowledge if you’re going to change the design or layout of any of your site pages
  • Limited add-ons
  • Restricted bandwidth (1GB to 35GB based on plan) and has overage fees
  • Limited number of products on 3 of their 4 plans

Knowing what your shop’s goals are, what you need and what you can live without, and using our helpful pro-con list, you can decide which ecommerce platform is the best fit for your business.

10 Rules for Growing Ecommerce Sales with Content Marketing

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Increasing sales is the No. 1 goal for all ecommerce sites. And while I agree that increasing sales is important, you can’t forget about your other company goals, like retaining loyal customers, engaging customers, growing brand awareness, becoming an authoritative voice and optimizing your buying process.

The beauty of content marketing is that it can help you do all of that. Content marketing enhances every part of your brand. It increases your bottom line; but it also creates a deep connection with customers than traditional marketing tactics, impacting them to continually come back to you for advice, tips, trends, news and of course, to make purchases.

Here are a few stats to back up why content marketing works:

But, content marketing is only going to grow your ecommerce sales and meet your other goals if you do it right. The following are 10 rules you need to follow to have content marketing success.

1. Research and address what customers actually care about (and actually solve their problems).

Without customers, you have no money. And in order to earn and retain customers, you have to give them what they want.

How do you know what they want?

First, you can ask them. Send out a survey of short questions to current customers or consumers who have abandoned a shopping cart to ask what they liked about your site, what you can do better to improve their experience, etc.

But, asking questions oftentimes ends up in a no answer or an I don’t know. So you’ve got to do your own research to find out what your customers want. Stand in your customer’s shoes. Follow customer experiences on your site and see where problems arise. Follow social media mentions to see if people are expressing issues there. Have an eye for the future and try to envision what your customers will want tomorrow.

Once you’ve researched what your customers really care about, address it with your content. If they want better product descriptions, more product images, a regularly updated blog that provides insightful and entertaining content that answers their questions, give it to them.

2. Create a plan.

Nothing good in business starts without building a plan. Your content marketing strategy is that plan, a plan that’s integral to business success.

According to the Content Marketing Institute, your content marketing strategy should include:

  • Your business case: reasons you need content marketing, risks involved, vision for success.
  • Your business plan: content goals, values you’ll be providing customers, any obstacles and opportunities you might run into.
  • Buyer personas: describing who your target audiences are and their needs.
  • Brand story: topics and messages you plan to deliver, how yours compare to your competitors.
  • Channel plan: what platforms you’ll be using to distribute your content, objectives of each.

I’d also suggest creating an editorial calendar that you map out a month or quarter in advance, as well as a workflow plan that maps out the entire content marketing process—from creation to measurement.

Be sure to check in with this strategy often to see how you’re doing. If you’re unsure how often to meet, 48% of B2C marketing teams meet daily or weekly to discuss their content marketing strategies.

3. Write for your audience, not the owners of your company.

Business owners are an important part of a company—but they’re not the ones buying products. They may have ideas on what you should create, and some of them may be good, but ultimately the content you create is for your customers.

Use customer data to create content topics and types based on what your customers are interested in and what they use. Talk in their language. Answer their questions. Be solutions to their problems. Educate and entertain them. People buy emotions, not things, so also craft content that isn’t just about your products, but that connects with the heads and hearts of your customers.

4. Don’t forget the SEO.

While your content strategy needs to focus on helping consumers and not search engines, your ecommerce SEO needs attention, too. SEO is a vital part of your content marketing efforts to help your content appear in organic search results and help the search engines identify you as a online store selling specific products.

Consistent, quality content that uses the right keywords and links will steadily move you up in the search results. Using keywords on site pages, as well as your titles and product descriptions, are also important to making your content efforts effective.

5. Understand the customer journey and meet buyers at the ideal time.

Most marketers divide the buyer journey into 3 basic stages: early, middle and late (also awareness, consideration and decision).

Content Along the B2C Journey graphThe first stage is where customers are unaware of their problems or looking for education. This is where you get your content out to new channels and share it on social media.

In the middle stage, customers know their problems and are on the hunt for a solution. Demonstrate yourself and product as the solution and your expertise through various content types to stand out from your competitors as customers do their research before buying.

The last stage is where the customer has an idea of what they want and now is just doing some last-minute comparisons to ensure they make the right decision. Customer reviews and product videos are your best bet here.

Too often, business spend a majority of their focus on creating content for the awareness stage. While this is great for bringing in leads, what about the rest of the buying stages? You have to provide content at all stages of the buyer journey if you want to increase customer and sales numbers.

Sometimes that means finding out where your content is lacking or where you’re losing customers. Take for example Envelopes.com. They were losing leads in the middle of their sales process, so they cut their card abandonment rate by 40%—a 65% increase in checkout conversions—by creating 3 different email campaigns instead of just 1 cart abandonment email like some ecommerce sites do.

6. Choose your content types wisely.

There are a ton of content types you can create. The following image shows what content types today’s B2Cers use.

B2C Content Marketing Tactic Usage graph[Screenshot from B2C Content Marketing Trends Report]

In order to know which types will work best for your business, you have to know your audience, know what content types they prefer engaging with and which convert better. Research your target audience, test various formats and then create the content types proven to work.

If you don’t have a big budget to spend on content marketing, that doesn’t mean you can’t grow your ecommerce sales with the right content and strategy. Diamond Candles didn’t have much money when they started out, so they turned to user-generated content. They used customer product photos to support their site and social media marketing, and doing so they saw a 13% conversion rate increase on their product pages and garnered more than 293,000 Facebook fans.

7. Don’t skimp. Build a great resource that’s 10x better than anything else out there.

Years ago it was all about metadata and keywords. Then, the search engines favored quality content and inbound links. But today, to compete with every size of ecommerce store out there, you need to create what experts are calling 10x content. This type of content is so unique and meaningful that to every consumer who sees it they think it’s 10 times better than anything they’ve ever seen before.

To produce this type of content, you need patience and time. If you rush through creating it, it won’t be a great resource. 10x content needs to come from an angle that hasn’t been done, showcase a lot of expertise, have a good style, be useful and interesting, create an emotional response, solve a problem and be shareable.

Different content types for 10x content include eBooks, guides, long-form blog posts and round-ups.

8. Sell, but do it gently.

When you go to a store, you don’t want a salesperson all up in your face pushing you to buy something. The same goes with content. You can’t create content that’s super “salesy.” We’ve already mentioned your content needs to be useful and interesting, and content that screams “BUY MY PRODUCT BECAUSE IT’S THE BEST!” isn’t going to get you any sales.

But soft selling works. You can do this by placing reviews on product pages, utilizing user-generated content on your site and social platforms and gently pitching small points about your product in a relatable piece of content.

Another thing to note is content promotion. Content creation is only half the battle. If you create a piece of content but never share it, it’s not going to get seen. Spend time promoting your content in the right places at the right times, and your products will starting selling themselves.

9. Link, link and link some more.

Internal linking is an SEO power move for your content marketing strategy. It’s simply connecting one page of your site to another page. This strategy will give you an SEO boost and help with navigation on your site.

But don’t just link to your homepage or contact us page. You have to go a little deeper and be natural with your internal linking. Good places to link to are other blog posts, related products and other relevant site pages that provide value to the readers.

10. Syndicate content where appropriate.

Content syndication is getting your content published on a third-party site. This can be an entire piece of content you let someone post on their site, or just a snippet of it. The main reason you want to syndicate is because it gives you exposure to another site’s or industry influencer’s audience.

In order to syndicate successfully, you have to find the right syndicate partners, and then the content you give them permission to post needs to be topically relevant to their audience.

When done right, content syndication is an effective way to grow brand awareness and develop your company’s reputation.

Your content is one of the best tools you have to sell your brand, so make sure you follow these 10 rules and invest the right amount of time and money to use the power of content to boost your sales.

5 Easy Ways to Improve Product Pages & Their Conversion Rates

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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

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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.

2017 Digital Marketing Predictions For eCommerce Businesses

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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

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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

E-Commerce SEO Best Practices

By | eCommerce, SEO, SEOchat | No Comments

If most of your business’ revenue comes from online purchases, then you know well that ’tis the season for your best marketing performance of the year! While you may already have your promotions in place, and email and twitter blasts are well on their way, you’re not fully maximizing the return on your marketing efforts if SEO isn’t on your top priority list.

By tweaking your product pages and adding a few SEO-focused tactics into your online marketing strategy, you might surprise yourself with a jolt in holiday sales. Last week’s #SEOchat focused on the best practices to incorporate SEO into your e-commerce marketing strategy. Here are some of the highlights from what we covered:

Q1: When should a brand begin an SEO campaign for the Thanksgiving/Christmas holidays?

Q2: What does your content strategy look like for the holidays?

Q3. Let’s pretend you’ve been hired as an SEO consultant for a website that sells cameras and camera accessories. How would you begin competitor research?

Q4: Which area of the customer buying cycle do you execute on? Do you outsource anything?

Q5: Walk us through your auditing process. Our camera site sells 26 brands. Would you optimize every product page? Why/why not?

 

Q6: What’s the right balance of transactional and informational keywords you should target?

 

Q7: How would you recommend organizing category pages in the navigation? By BRAND, by TYPE or other?

Q8: What linkable asset would you create for the camera site to drive traffic and social shares?

Q9: What’s your favorite site to shop from for the holidays?

Trends in SEO are constantly on the move. Let’s keep up on #SEOchat! Join in every Thursday at 1 pm ET.

How are you using SEO as part of your holiday marketing strategy? Share your thoughts below!

7 Quick Tips for Better Product Images In Your eCommerce Website

By | eCommerce, How-To | No Comments

Having professional product images is a critical element of any ecommerce site and driving sales and repeat customers through different marketing channels. Ideally these images will be professionally done, but sometimes a tight budget forces your photography to be an in-house job. If you’re short on cash, or if you’re just confident in your abilities to capture quality product photos yourself, here are a few quick tips on how to make your rookie product photography look like the real thing.

1) Natural Lighting

Natural light works best for any type of photoshoot. As a rule of thumb, it’s best to shoot your products during the day. However, what matters most is not the quantity of light, but the uniform distribution of light. In most cases, it’s best to shoot with soft light versus hard light.

2) Find an Interesting Point of View

When photographing different product images, it’s important to highlight each product’s best features. As an advocate for your products, try telling a story with the images you capture by accentuating particular angles. You may be surprised what point of views flatter your product image most accurately, so test several different options.

3) Use a Tripod

Camera on a tripod

Using a tripod eliminates all motion blur mistakes you might not catch until viewing the images on a computer.

No matter how steady of a hand you think you may have, it’s probably not steady enough. The use of a tripod eliminates all motion blur and makes pictures look more crisp. Plus, once your camera is set up on the tripod, the only thing you have to worry about is getting the products in place. You won’t have to reset your focus or angle with every single shot.

4) Sense of Scale

To help customers visualize the size of a product, it’s helpful to include an object, that people are generally familiar with, next to your product . For example, to help customers visualize the size of the new iPhone 6 Plus, it would be helpful to display a pencil or pen next to it.

5) Show the Product in its Natural Element

Take pictures of your product next to an item that will help people relate to it in real life. Potential buyers will get an idea how the product may be used or worn, plus the use of props could really help accentuate the features of your product. This tip may not always apply, but keep your target audience in mind and consider in what environment they could most naturally envision using the product.

6) Use a White Background

Draw attention to your item by setting it up against a plain white or neutral backdrop. To make an image look even more professional, take your photos on a continuous background, a background without visual angles – such as a curved white poster, for example. We used a white wall and a whiteboard for a very simple photo shoot. We photoshopped the background out entirely in post-production, but the original white background kept the color balance of the products true to their natural hues.

acuhandphotoshoot

Using a white background helps to emphasize the true colors of your products, and makes post-production easier too.

 

7) Display All Colors

When it comes to product images, it’s important to not spare any visual details. If a product comes in more than one color, show your customers each color. According to Wix.com, “A set of photos showing the variety of colors will make the product look richer and more attractive.”

What are some of your best practices when it comes to taking pictures for product images? Please share in the comments below.

5 Twitter Tips for Boosting Ecommerce Sales

By | Content Marketing, Conversion, eCommerce, Inbound Marketing, Internet Marketing, Social Media | No Comments

Think about a sales pipeline. At the top of the pipeline you have prospects, somewhere in the middle you have a sales pitch, and at the end of the pipeline you have actual sales.

Where does Twitter fall in the pipeline?

Social networks, like Twitter, are at the top of the pipeline. They are used to generate awareness about your product with the end goal of sending a potential client to your website where the actual sales pitch takes place. The sales pitch doesn’t take place on Twitter.

I’ve included 5 Twitter tricks for increasing ecommerce sales below. These tricks are focused on getting people to leave Twitter, and land on your website where the actual sale can take place.

Optimize Your Twitter Header for Sales

Twitter implemented a design overhaul on April 22, 2014. One key change in its new design is the addition of a Twitter header photo that spans the entire length of the screen at 1500×500 pixels.

Located at the top of every Twitter profile, the new Twitter header serves as a digital billboard allowing ecommerce companies to highlight products or services.

As an ecommerce site, use your Twitter header to drive sales by creating awareness about new products or deals you’re currently offering.

At RedbirdMetrics, we found that using a Twitter header as an advertisement resulted in a ~.07 increase in website traffic.

Here’s an example of how we use our Twitter header as an advertisement:

redbirdtwitterheader

Here’s a couple of tips for crafting your Twitter header:

  • Don’t forget to check out what your Twitter header looks like on a mobile device. When your Twitter header is condensed for a mobile device some of your images or text may not appear to users.
  • The link placed in your Twitter bio should take users to a landing page your Twitter header is promoting. Be sure to include a strong call to action in your Twitter header that encourages visitors to click on the link in your Twitter bio.

Use Twitter to Test Ads

One of the challenges of crafting digital advertisements is figuring out the perfect choice of words that will increase click-through-rate.

Sadly, many companies burn through mountains of cash trying to figure this out before they start to see an ROI.

Here’s a not so well known secret: you can use Twitter to test your ads before you make a significant investment.

Here’s how to do it:

  • Use bit.ly to create a custom link for the ad you’d like to test. Let’s say your landing page is www.landingpage.com. To make this link into a custom link simply add “?src=sometext” to the end of the link. I use the “sometext” portion to describe where the link is coming from. For example, www.landingpage.com?src=advertisementone could be used for the first ad and www.landingpage.com?src=advertisementtwo could be used for the second ad. Both of these links take you to the same page, but by making them customized you are able to track how much traffic is coming from each link. Shorten your customized link, and paste it in your Twitter bio.
  • Change your Twitter header into an advertisement. Focus on one value proposition for the product or service you’re trying to increase sales for.
  • Type a keyword or phrase you’re planning on targeting for ads into Twitter’s search bar in quotes. This will pull up tweets that contain that keyword or phrase specifically. Follow 50 people per day using that keyword or phrase for one week.
  • At the end of the week, check to see how many clicks your custom link received by looking up that link on your Bit.ly account. Record this number in an Excel spreadsheet.
  • Change your Twitter header to focus on an alternative value proposition for the same product or service, and repeat the above steps.
  • Compare the clicks you receive for each custom link to determine which advertisement gets more clicks.

Create an Online Catalog with Hashtags

Trendy restaurants, like Comodo, will crowdsource pictures of their food on Instagram around a specific hashtag. Comodo does this by including the hashtag #ComodoMenu at the bottom of their real-life menu. This helps their customers make decisions when ordering food. It also helps bring in additional clients because each picture shared serves as a word of mouth endorsement for the restaurant.

comodoinstagram

Ecommerce companies can adopt a similar strategy on Twitter. Create a hashtag for your company that helps customers see your products in action. For example, if you sell clothing you could encourage your buyers to post a picture of themselves wearing your clothes on Twitter.

Add your company hashtag at the end of each product description on your website. Enjoy the increase in visibility and sales.

Do a Giveaway

Giveaways are a powerful tool for increasing brand awareness. iFit, a fitness tracker, often utilizes giveaways on Twitter. Check out this recent giveaway they did:

ifitgiveaway

A couple tips for launching a giveaway:

  • Include at least one hashtag to increase the visibility of your giveaway. iFit used the #Giveaway hashtag.
  • Ask your followers to retweet, favorite, and follow to qualify for your giveaway. iFit did a great job of this by giving additional entries for a retweet, and a follow.
  • Use a picture in your giveaway tweet. Tweets using pictures are 94% more likely to be retweeted.

Follow Intelligently

Following people on Twitter is one of the best ways to increase brand awareness. Here are a few tactics that you should look into implementing:

  • Follow your competitor’s Twitter followers. Many of your competitors have likely spent years building a Twitter following. Harvest this low hanging fruit by following their followers. Tweepi, a free social media management tool, is perfect for doing this.
  • Follow people based on what they tweet. You can type anything into Twitter’s search bar in quotes. This will pull up people using that exact phrase or keyword. For example, if you type “I need new shoes” it will pull up people who need new shoes. Consider following people based on what they tweet.
  • Follow influencers. Every niche has it’s influencers. Identify the influencers in your industry and follow them on Twitter.

Do not aggressively follow people on Twitter. If you follow too many people per day then Twitter may suspend your account. Here’s some advice on following:

  • If you have less than 100 followers then you should only follow 10 people per day.
  • If you have more than 100 followers then you can follow up to 100 people per day.
  • When you have less than 1,800 followers you can only follow 2,000 people total. Once you get over 1,800 followers you can follow 110% of your following.

These are just a few tips and tricks for using Twitter to increase ecommerce sales. Remember, Twitter is for the top of your sales pipeline. The goal of Twitter is to drive people to your website where they can make a purchase. Don’t try to close on Twitter.

Can you think of any additional Twitter tips or tricks? Comment below.


joshlight

Josh Light is the co-founder and CEO of RedbirdQ, the most intelligent way to share to Twitter and Facebook. Josh writes about social media tips and tricks on the Redbird blog. Contact Josh on Twitter @JoshuaJLight; he loves people.

Why We Buy: Inside the Mind of a Customer

By | eCommerce | No Comments

Let’s play a little game of word association: chocolate sandwich cookie.

Did anyone think of Hydrox?

Didn’t think so. You probably thought of Oreo, and no one would think of Hydrox, even though it actually predates the Oreo. But because Oreo so quickly came to dominate the market, it became a household name for the next century.

So, what is it that ingrains your brand into a potential customer’s mind? How can you tap into the consumer psychology to keep people coming back for more?

Here are the key variables that inspire people to become customers.

1. A Personal Relationship

Successful brands build an emotional connection with their customers, choosing to go beyond the merely transactional to the relational. ModCloth is a retailer that champions this concept.

Screen Shot 2015-01-07 at 1.27.50 PM

Emotional Connection

ModCloth drives sales by connecting its customers to its products. The company runs a “be the buyer” program to let community members vote on new products. This technique makes customers feel like they are part of the brand – a similar feeling that a company’s most engaged employees have.

Screen Shot 2015-01-07 at 1.29.16 PM

People have the opportunity to start thinking about (and falling in love with) ModCloth’s products before items are even in stock. This is a great way to start generating demand and boosting sales.

A second way that ModCloth builds an emotional connection with customers is through its style gallery. Community members can upload photos of their favorite outfits to the ModCloth site. People can then vote on styles that they love.

Screen Shot 2015-01-07 at 1.30.18 PM

ModCloth strives to inspire positive body image and make women feel beautiful. The style gallery comes directly from the community – not from models – so audiences can feel inspired by women just like them.

Regular Contact

It’s no secret that having regular contact drives sales. This concept has underscored small business strategy for years.

The problem is, one-on-one connections are less straightforward with online marketing. Is it possible to build a personal relationship when you’re both separated by a screen?

The answer is an overwhelming yes.

The key is to look at natural touch points between customers and your brand. Set up email marketing campaigns that respond to specific user interests and activities on your website. If users are failing to complete a sign-on process or transaction, send them an email.

One way that ModCloth boosts relationships is through retargeting campaigns on Facebook. If you’ve browsed a product on the ModCloth website, you’ll likely see it again and again – you’ll also see recommended items that are similar to the ones that you’ve expressed interest in.

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ModCloth also sends eye-catching emails when you’ve completed certain actions on their site (for instance, abandoning your shopping cart).

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ModCloth could have very easily written an invasive, aggressive email. Instead, they aim to delight, keep customers happy, and inspire laughter – the ultimate one-on-one connection.

Loyalty

Win your customers’ hearts once, and you’ve hooked them for life. They’ll come to your advice and shop with you. Competitors and distractions will fade away. Your business will become a focal point in their lives.

ModCloth inspires loyalty through authenticity. If you don’t like a product? No problem. Leave a negative customer review. Instead of deleting or defending these reviews, ModCloth community reps will respond with a positive, forward-looking comment. They’ll fix the situation to keep customers coming back for more stuff.

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ModCloth also makes it clear that they will incorporate customer suggestions:

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As ModCloth exemplifies, the key to building brand loyalty is to be loyal to your customers first. Audiences will reciprocate this feeling – it’s not every day that a company will show that they truly care about you.

2. Trust Signals From Fellow Shoppers

Every purchase carries a risk that the customer might not like or enjoy the product or service. That’s why shoppers are always looking to mitigate that risk.

The deciding factor for many consumers is the reputation of your business.

But here’s the thing. Fellow shoppers don’t care about what your brand says about itself. As much as you talk yourself up, consumers want to see evidence of strong performance.

Your brand needs to have a strong track record within communities of shoppers. What people say about your company matters more than what you say about yourself.

The following tactics can help:

Screen Shot 2015-01-07 at 1.35.06 PM
Image credit: Garry Knight

Endorsements from Friends

A recommendation from a trusted friend or family member is gold. Think about it – how likely are you to second guess a product recommendation from your mom or best friend who knows you better than anyone? That concept presents a powerful lesson for marketers.

The online marketing landscape is a reflection of the relationship dynamics that take place every day.

Just as you are more likely to trust someone introduced to you by a friend than a total stranger, customers are more likely to buy from a brand to which they were referred by a friend, or with which they have had a good experience in the past. Facebook product pages shows us people we know who like a business. This might help influence our decision of what restaurant to go to, for example:

Screen Shot 2015-01-07 at 1.35.51 PM

Companies can capitalize on this by offering discounts or other deals to customers who are willing to “like” their product page or share a positive experience on social networks. It’s impossible to overstate the importance of reviews from friends – one customer can quickly become dozens, with minimal investment.

Endorsements from Authorities We Trust

Celebrity endorsements seem silly at first glance, but brands keep capitalizing on them. Why? Because they work.

As humans, we’re programmed to take advice from the folks that we respect. We look to inspiration from our idols.

That’s why it’s mission-critical for brands to be reviewed by authorities. If you’re manufacturing a tech product, you need to be up on CNET.

If you’re running a tech company, a plug from TechCrunch or Mashable wouldn’t hurt either. You can bet that the iPhone deals featured in the example below received some extra attention.

Screen Shot 2015-01-07 at 1.36.32 PM

Social Proof

Consumers also pay attention to what other consumers say about your products and services.

If we see multiple people buying a product, we’ll quickly assume that it’s good. It doesn’t even matter if our fellow consumers think the product is actually good. At the end of the day, we’re hard wired to believe that if enough people spend money on something, it’s worth it.

That’s why Amazon places so much visual emphasis on customer reviews:

Screen Shot 2015-01-07 at 1.37.24 PM

Adding social sharing metrics on Underwater Audio’s product pages have also improved conversions.

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3. The Feel-Good Factor

If something makes us feel good, we’re more likely to buy it. That applies to every consumer – even the most rational of thinkers.

The same holds true for the opposite situation. When an experience upsets us, we won’t buy.

All the social proof in the world won’t make a difference if the consumer has  personally experienced a negative moment at any point in the purchase cycle. Instead, they will abandon the purchase, return the item or worse yet, abandon your brand — possibly for good. It’s essential to ensure a positive, rewarding, and cohesive experience.

Screen Shot 2015-01-07 at 1.38.50 PM
Image credit: Daniel Zimmel

User Experience – Your Website

Consumers are perpetually time-strapped. Your website needs to be as easy-to-use and straightforward as possible. Your website’s user experience has little to do with your actual product or service, but it still matters to your marketing strategy.

Even if your product is more expensive than your competitor’s, you may still win the sale. Why? If your website is easier to use, you’ll save your buyers time – which is also money.

Think about this concept from a personal perspective. How many times have you tried – and failed – to find the information that you need on a brand website? What happened when you couldn’t find what you needed?

You probably moved on to a competitor.

Do your customers a favor and make your website dead-easy to use.

Example: New customers can create account on Zappos by using their Amazon credentials, which removes some of the barriers to purchase.

Screen Shot 2015-01-07 at 1.39.52 PM

 

Mobile User Experience

It’s an understatement to say that the world is going mobile. Having a mobile site isn’t enough – you need to make sure that you’re delivering the best user experience possible.

Keep in mind that your customers aren’t sitting at the computer. They’re on the train. They’re taking brain breaks at work. They’re hanging out in a waiting room at the doctor’s office.

In all of these moments, they’re likely to buy. Make sure that your website is extremely easy to navigate and use.

If you need some inspiration, MobileAwesomeness has some stunning examples of great mobile sites.

Even though you are a marketer (or business owner), you’re a consumer first and foremost. Imagine all the times that you’ve experienced a horrible mobile website.

Now imagine that your customers are feeling the same way – and don’t underestimate the power of first impressions. If users have a poor experience on your mobile site, it’s unlikely that they’ll come back to you via desktop either.

Find out more about mobile usability from expert Jakob Nielsen or check out a list of mobile optimization resources on Crazy Egg.

Service with a Smile (Never Goes out of Style)

Service is a key part of keeping customers happy. Even online, you need to make sure that you’re taking care of your customers. Provide them with the tools (FAQs, user guides, etc.) to answer their questions. Make sure that your phone number and contact details are easily available.

Most importantly, respond to negative customer reviews when somebody has a complaint. ModCloth does a great job monitoring and maintaining an active presence in its customer feedback section:

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Online marketing should never be impersonal. Even when you’re doing business behind a computer screen, one on one relationships should be a priority.

4. Price and Value

If “location, location, location” is the real estate market’s credo, then “price, price, price” is e-commerce’s. Most shoppers are very conscious of the money they are spending. Not to mention that they have instant access to price comparison tools as well as all of your competitors’ data.

In other words, they have infinite power to research details as they need them. The chances of prospects abandoning your business are high if the you can’t provide the best value for the price.

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Image credit: Paris on Ponce

Keeping Prices Simple

As a marketer, your job is to reduce the barriers to purchase – and that means getting the pricing right. Sometimes, that’s about keeping it simple.

That’s why TodayMade recently scrapped the multi-tiered payment plans for its blog editorial calendar in favor of a simple price per blog.

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Using Subtleties

Small details can yield big outcomes. Study after study shows that the tiniest website tweaks can make your customers more likely to buy. Here are some examples:

•Font size of prices: Studies have shown that prices in smaller type are perceived as lower.
•Inclusion or exclusion of currency signs: Removing the currency sign may reduce the perceived price.

-Percent-off or money-off coupons: Conduct testing to see which approach your customers prefer.

-Reducing the number of digits in the price: This simplification often makes the price seem smaller to buyers.

-Making prices end in a 9: Most customers perceive a $29 price as significantly lower than $30. Losing $1 per sale will be worth it if sales increase significantly.

Conduct your own testing using these tips to see what will work for your business. Find out more about this concept by reading through this infographic on The Science of Pricing.

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The Perception of Value

Pricing aside, the decision to purchase may also rest on whether customers perceive that a particular item represents value, especially when it’s not a must-have.

If someone needs an item, and you provide it with good service and a good price, then it’s likely people will buy from you. If it’s just a “want,” then you need other differentiators to help people to buy.

Giving something for free can create a perception that shoppers are getting something for nothing, which makes them more likely to buy.  Nordstrom’s shipping policy is a great example of this.

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Mixergy has a great checklist on helping marketers communicate product value to customers.

Putting It All Together

The heart of marketing is the human mind, and it’s often difficult to understand what motivates a customer to take action.

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Image credit: Julian Partridge

Smart marketers know that consumer psychology is complex. More likely than not, buyers are influenced by a combination of factors rather than just one. Success requires the right balance of tactics.

To find that balance, make sure you’re testing combinations of elements such as those listed here, to see what resonates with your audience.

The bottom line is, listen to your customers and they will reward you.