• Jul
    31

    How E-Commerce Businesses Can Calm Consumer Paranoia


    posted in eCommerce
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    Consumer Paranoia and EcommerceA 2014 report by the Identity Theft Resource Center reported 619 security breaches last year, affecting more than 57 million people. Some of these high profile breaches (i.e. Target, Kaiser, the Federal Reserve) caused justifiable paranoia and now the smart businessperson is responsible for regaining consumer trust. To do this, we need to understand a little about the psychology of

    The Psychology Of E-Commerce

    According to attachment theory, a person’s ability to create relationships stem from the strength of their parental attachments as infants. If one feels consistently secure as a child, he or she is more likely to be trusting of relationships as an adult, but when a child feels consistently insecure, there is a higher chance that he or she will have difficulty trusting others in the future. Likewise, when consumers find out about security breaches, attachment theory says that their perceptions will default to the ones that they developed as infants. Strongly attached individuals will take it in stride as an isolated accident. Poorly attached people will see this as evidence of their distrustful world view.

    To counteract a consumer’s predisposition, marketing scientists use a concept called priming. People who hear the word yellow will be able to locate a banana hidden in a picture faster than a person that did not get primed by the word. Putting associative images and words in front of consumers that help them associate you with security and safety sparks a neurological process that helps them process your message.

    Consumer Perception Of Safety

    Considering the fact that most people didn’t have a perfect attachment to their parents, most of us default to distrust when we have little information on a subject. IT professionals have a tendency to trust cyber-security more than non-technical people because the computer expert has a conscious decision making mechanism on which to rely. Without this knowledge base, the person can only depend on his or her instincts.

    The first thing an e-commerce business executive needs to do to gain (or regain) consumer trust is educate. Transparency is crucial. Let’s deconstruct the LifeLock AOL page. As a cyber-security leader, LifeLock can assume that its customer base has limited knowledge about internet security. A quick Google search on computer viruses will undoubtedly yield the term “Trojan Horse.” Guess what image is on the LifeLock AOL page? A knight protecting a computer from a Trojan Horse. This is a great example of priming, as before the customer reads any text, his or her brain is ready to hear about the ways that viruses can be stopped.

    Use Customer Reviews For Safety

    Sharing testimonials from trusted groups can also help your further drive home that your e-commerce company will keep consumers’ information safe. First establish yourself as an expert in security with an informative, articulate message on a web page or published article. Link this to your social media feeds so that readers are able to comment. Ask for comments and reviews on the security of your system. Your goal is to place the consumer and your company on the same team. You want commentators to testify to your professionalism, integrity and security. Use images that prime people in the best directions. Use positive vocabulary so that you get positive responses.

    Safe Means High Quality

    Take all of your literature about internet security and wrap it into your overall marketing plan. Internet security is no longer a taboo subject and consumers assume that companies offer both on-line and off-line services. One of the links that customers do make is that a high quality company is also a secure company. Thinking about it anecdotal, most people would be alright with giving their credit card information to a large multi-national bank compared to a mom-and-pop street cart vendor. Use your conversation about security to emphasis the quality of your services, the appropriateness of your price point, and the expertise of your customer care.

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  • Jul
    25

    A Closer Look At Popular Content Marketing Trends


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    content marketing trendsIt is estimated that 60% of existing businesses have already been engaged in some form of content marketing strategies. Considering the fact that many experts believe it is one of the key areas of marketing that everyone should pay attention to, it stands to reason that the content marketing industry is poised for major growth in the coming years. But even with its growing popularity it is clear that all content marketing strategies aren’t always what they appear to be.

    The Hoax

    The instant mass distribution of posts through social media has allowed many businesses to find a way to wiggle their way into the consumers’ hearts by employing a content marketing strategy with fabricated information. These clever marketers create sensational stories designed to stir up emotions to a point where the consumer finds himself completely and emotionally engaged. As long as people believe the story is real, it is compelling enough to inspire journalists, bloggers, and even the average person to forward the information to others.

    Repeatedly, it has been discovered that even the most respected publications and media outlets have been duped into repeating these stories and spreading them far and wide. The result is that they got their name to countless millions of people under fabricated scenarios in an effort to grow their business.

    The Hook

    Link Bait, another marketing trend that has been around for some time now is still gaining traction. With this strategy, the headline is what will motivate people to read on. It doesn’t matter what the story is really about, those few words used to draw the reader in are enough to get their name out there. The right headline will be enough to get people to stop and look for more information about it. The story usually ends up being compelling enough to instill some sort of emotion in the reader, and then it subtly changes from what started out to be a traditional news story to a specific solution provided by the business.

    As more media outlets take advantage of this type of strategy, its effectiveness will begin to wane. People will become desensitized to these emotional strings that are pulling unwary consumers in. In the future, to be effective at getting the potential customer’s attention, they will need to focus even more on creating meaningful headlines that can attract people but not make them feel like they’ve been duped every time.

    Branding

    The whole idea behind content marketing is to get away from the traditional advertising mechanisms, which people have learned to ignore over time. When a commercial comes on TV, rather than people sitting to watch they usually get up and leave to get something to eat, take a bathroom break, or to make quick phone calls. With all the money invested in your marketing strategy, you want to feel assured that the consumer has at least seen and heard about what your business has to offer.

    With Branding techniques, the marketing is taken away from the media venues and is placed where the people are. A good example is when businesses develop mobile apps for consumers to access. Providing not only a very useful tool, the businesses brand is readily identifiable and when the consumers share the information contained in the app, they pass along the brand information too, making them the carriers of the business message. To learn more about brand strategy – click here.

    Increased Volume

    Probably the simplest strategy in the world of content marketing is to increase the amount of content that a business has online. While the effort to create this abundant supply of quality content continues to be a challenge for most, it is still one of the most effective ways of getting consumers to remember their name.

    Most business markets understand the significance of upping their content output. But while having a great deal of content can have a major impact on brand recognition, the most effective marketers recognize that quantity alone is not enough to keep potential customers coming in. Not only is quantity a necessity, they also need the content to be of high quality in order to fully engage readers – this will in turn help to increase their profits and their businesses will grow as a result. For some great tips on how to create exciting content on a regular basis for your specific audience – click here.

    The truth is that no matter what type of business you’re maintaining, or what your goals are for the future, without effective content marketing, you’ll be struggling for your share of the online audience. The trends in content marketing are constantly in a state of flux and new strategies to attract viewers are being introduced every day. The key to success in keeping up with these changing strides is to know what content your customers need and when they need it. Once you understand this, you will have to find a way to consistently deliver it to meet those needs and your business will grow as a result.

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  • Jul
    24

    Bigcommerce Web Developers – What To Look For And What To Expect


    posted in BigCommerce
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    bigcommerce developersWhen you first get started with BigCommerce, you’ll quickly realize how powerful this e-commerce platform really is. While this is a good thing, if not used properly, your online website won’t be able to achieve its full potential. As they say, with power comes responsibility… and also a big learning curve, so when you add all of this together, you can understand why BigCommerce Web developers play such an important role in the success of an online store.

    The Main Goal of Good Quality BigCommerce Web Developers

    There is definitely no shortage of BigCommerce Web developers, but the numbers quickly begin to dwindle once you begin to filter out the good quality developers from the not so good. One of the quickest ways to filter out agencies is to actually call them and see who picks up the phone or responds to your email quickly (or at all). What truly differentiates a good developer from a mediocre one is the goal in which they strive to achieve: to turn your online business into a powerful selling tool, and to strive for winning long-term customers in the process. The problem with mediocre BigCommerce Web developers is that they simply focus on the technical side of your online business, such as getting your products set up, making sure that your payment processes are put into place and that they work correctly, and other similar tasks.

    These tasks are by no means unimportant, as they ensure that everything is running correctly so that your visitors are able to utilize your store without any glitches. However, a lot more can be done in order to create the perfect environment for your prospects and customers, and a good quality BigCommerce web developer will take one step further by offering you other services, such as ensuring that your website is search engine friendly, helping you utilize the marketing tools more effectively, making good use of social media to help brand your site and to create an aesthetically pleasing design that also focuses on implementing an excellent sales funnel.

    Provides Strategy and Consulting Services

    Speak to any web developer, whether it is for an ecommerce store, a blog, or any other type of website, and they will all agree that one of the most important aspects of website development is in planning the right strategy to ensure that you are able to reap all the rewards once your site goes live.

    A BigCommerce Web developer will not be able to effectively provide you with the right services if no strategy has been put in place beforehand. Marketing your online store costs money, and if you have no strategy behind your marketing decisions, you will find your money draining very quickly. Therefore, the first step that a web developer will take is to find out as much as they can about your business, the types of products or services that you will be selling, what your overall goals are, and your budget for the whole process, from start to finish. With this information, they will then be able to consult you on the best route to take in order to create the right online store for your customers, as well as what marketing strategies that you should be putting in place.

    During the consultation stage, you will be discussing issues such as content creation strategy, branding strategy, business analytics, and user experience. Every one of these aspects will play a crucial role in ensuring that once you’re BigCommerce Web developer is able to begin the process of developing your online store, you can be assured that all of your business goals will be met when your store is up and running.

    Providing Creative Design

    BigCommerce Web developers should also offer creative design as part of their service, as this involves aspects such as logo design, website design that is both friendly to desktop and mobile users, and the ability to create a completely unique look for your site so that it stands out from the rest of the competition while still looking aesthetically pleasing. You will most likely find some BigCommerce partners offering free mock-ups before signing on. While free is always appealing, it isn’t always a good thing. Just think how many other people were offered up that same free layout with their logo and images plugged in. The goal of hiring a developer is to get away from cookie cutter templates and create a custom theme that embodies your brand message. Another area of focus, and equal importance, is the layout of your site, such as the way your menus will be laid out, user experience in terms of easily finding a particular product or service, or any other important information that is required for the prospect or customer to make that purchase, and responsive or mobile website development.

    Providing Online Marketing Services

    Once everything has been set up, the next service that BigCommerce website developers will be able to offer you is the actual marketing of your site. They will be able to achieve this by using different types of marketing mediums such as pay per click advertising, search engine optimization, social media marketing, e-mail marketing, online public relations and display advertising. All these mediums are important because they will provide your site with the right type of audience so that you can get qualified traffic, which in turn means more sales once they reach your store. Everyone’s budget for online marketing is different, but it is important to note that often times low monthly contracts ranging between $300 – $700 per month with cookie cutter services offer very little value.

    It’s worth your time to spend a good amount of research before choosing one of the many BigCommerce Web developers that are available. The right agency will be able to answer any of your questions and provide a service that makes you feel comfortable before and during the development process and ultimately provide a valuable return on your investment. It will also allow you to spend more of your time on other tasks such as dealing directly with your customers, taking care of your stock, answering any e-mails, ensuring that all of the products are successfully shipped to your customers, or that you meet your deadlines, regardless of the type of service that you offer. You will be able to continue with all of these daily tasks knowing that your site has the right environment to flourish, and that the back panel has been completely customized so that there is little chance of you facing any glitches due to technical errors that arose from your inexperience in trying to set the site up yourself.

    Lastly, you can feel comfortable knowing that you are utilizing all of the tools that BigCommerce is offering you as a service, because in the end, you want to feel confident that every penny invested into your business will consistently ensure that you reap the rewards from all your efforts in running your online store.

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  • Jul
    22

    What To Do If You’re Site Is On Magento Go Or Prostores?


    posted in BigCommerce
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    move to bigcommerce

    There are some major changes anticipated for many ecommerce businesses in the early part of next year. As of the first of February 2015, many small to mid-sized online retailers will need to make a major transition of ecommerce platforms from Magento Go and ProStores to a new platform. BigCommerce has been named the Go To Hosted Solution of Choice by both Magento Go and ProStores. This means that anyone moving from either of those platforms will receive free help with the migration of their stores to the BigCommerce platform. While options will continue to be available for larger enterprises, the smaller businesses will need to migrate their ecommerce stores to Magento Enterprise or BigCommerce. If you’re one of those stores facing this major change, you might be wondering what steps you need to take to transition your online business so that you and your customers will have a seamless experience throughout the process.

    Steps to a Successful Transition

    Even though the transition does not entail the movement of physical merchandise, it will still require you to give some attention to detail to ensure a smooth experience for everyone concerned. Some may think that the movement of data from one location to another is simply a matter of cutting and pasting the information into the new platform. Unless you have a handful of products, that most definitely won’t be the case. Even if it were, you would still need to think of your customers every step of the way so that the entire experience will not impact the performance of your existing online business.

    This entails giving special attention to other aspects of your new site like research, site design, customer shopping experience, development, deployment, security, and other issues that may not be readily noticed.

    1. Research

    When considering the discovery phase of your migration program, think about everything needed to launch your new site. It is the perfect time for you to thoroughly evaluate your current business strategies in this area and determine if certain changes can help to improve your overall sales performance. You could take this time to look closely at other similar sites and see what methods might be used to enhance your own. Use this time to consider more than the obvious; perhaps it’s time to restructure your catalog, improve your navigational structure, or even shipping options. The migration may be the ideal time to add on some new features that you have not yet implemented into your system. What you learn during this discovery phase can serve as the groundwork for your new ecommerce store.

    2. Design

    The fact that you have to move your store creates the opportune time to tweak your design elements. Of course, your existing site design can be rebuilt on the BigCommerce platform, however, there is just as much work in building a new site as there is rebuilding your existing site. Taking that into consideration, you want to make sure that the new design for your store will accurately match the needs of your customers. If you’ve already been in business for some time, chances are you’ve recognized many of your customer needs and thought of ways to make their shopping experience more rewarding. Your store needs to be tailored to their expectations and migration time is the perfect opportunity to make that happen.

    3. Migrate Your Data

    Even though your new move will be merely moving data from one site to another, it is not a step that you should take lightly. You will in fact have to navigate between the existing system and the new one; this will include importing products, customer information, orders and 301 redirects to ensure that your site doesn’t lose any search momentum or rankings. For other points of concern regarding store migration to BigCommerce, click here.

    Moving products: try not to consider your product catalog as a string of information but think of it the way your customer sees it. Product data could include any number of things like images, product numbers, descriptions, and prices, all of which needs to be displayed in a way that is easily accessible to the customer and with actionable items above the fold.

    Request Your Free Migration

    4. Deployment

    Once all of the information has been successfully migrated you need to deploy and test your site before you’re ready for a full-scale opening. You want to make sure that your new site is tested for a number of different things; function, compatibility, and conversion. Remember that once you switch to your new platform your URL will change, so you also want to know if your new site is going to be picked up by the new web browsers so that your customers will be able to find you once you move. 301 redirects will be an essential part of this.

    Find out how to migrate your store data including 301 redirects for free.

    5. Security

    Another feature of your new ecommerce site that should not be neglected is security. Your customers need to feel that their personal information is protected and not exposed to unauthorized users at any point in the transition. BigCommere is a completely secure and compliant ecommerce platform, so that it allows for effective payment processing without putting their personal data at risk. The merchant you use to accept payments should have a security policy implemented for any number of situations and it’s always a good idea to highlight your secure merchant partner badges.

    Once your new site is in full-swing, you will still need to keep a close eye on its progress. Often, trends will appear over time that may not be readily seen after the first few days of a launch. Always be prepared to tweak and make any adjustments to the system as you and your customers grow together with your new site.

    As you develop your new site, review the changes you’ve made and monitor its progress on a continuous basis. You want to make sure that the new site not only meets your customers’ expectations but also meets the needs of your business as well.

    There are many aspects and features that must be considered when you’re migrating an ecommerce store. While it may not be the most complicated element of running your business, for it to be a true success, you will need to give your personal attention to many important details that could range from the choice of color and design to how potential customers will find you. If you take the time and the extra care needed to plan every aspect of the transition, you’ll find that making the switch to your new platform will enhance your business and even give you a better return on your investment.

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  • Jul
    18

    Case Study: How Navigation Can Make or Break Your Ecommerce Site


    posted in Case Studies
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    Many people discover that just because they have an eCommerce website, doesn’t necessarily mean people will buy from them. There are many factors that influence a potential customer’s purchasing decisions, but let’s focus on navigation specifically; as it had a very big impact on this client’s site.

    One of the first things we look at when assessing an existing site is its architecture or navigational structure. A good piece of advice we follow is to make sure a customer is never more than one click away from any page they want or need to visit. Renovated Hardware began their eCommerce site redesign with a developer on the BigCommerce platform. After many struggles and a re-launch of a barely functional site, their page views quickly declined, conversions dropped, and overall traffic was in a spiral downward.

    When Renovated Hardware came to Pixel, they were understandably frustrated and angry – which is to be expected after spending a lot of money on a failed business upgrade. While Pixel was reviewing Renovated Hardware’s site, it was quickly apparent they had a complete lack of navigational structure; which ultimately killed their online business.

    You can see in the following image that the category landing page only utilized a long list of top-tier categories. Clicking one would take you to another landing page with a long list of sub-categories before finally directing users to individual product pages. The truly unfortunate part of this was that there was no way to get back to the main category or sub-category pages without using the back button; this was tedious at best, and ultimately led to customers giving up and leaving the site. Most people didn’t even bother to drill down all the way to their desired product.

    renovated hardware original

    RH wanted to scrap everything and start from scratch with brand new concepts. After initial discussions with RH, we laid out a clear plan of attack for creating an easy to navigate website that would quickly funnel traffic to the appropriate landing page or product.

    Starting with the home page, we set up slides for promotional items, image quick nav items for their main categories – memory, hardware and optics – and also included promotional banners. All of these items can be easily edited and managed from the main backend admin area of Big Commerce, their eCommerce cart platform.

    Renovated Hardware Homepage

    For this site, the trickiest part of setting up a clean and intuitive navigation came into play at the category level due to the wide variety of memory variations. We needed to set up a multi-level top tier category and sub-category structure that could be easily viewed without jumping between different pages. This also needed to work dynamically, driven by categories in the admin area, otherwise the site would have been a hard-coded and unmanageable nightmare for the client, once again making it ineffective. We achieved both using a collapsible category listing structure, which enabled users to quickly browse to their desired products.

    interior page layout

    Again, you will notice that through the side navigation, top nav and category landing pages, users can navigate to any page of the website with just one click or even request a quote from any landing page. This functionality transitions seamlessly from desktop to mobile device.

    In summary, the main cause of problems with the original site design and layout was the navigation. This is why creating a strategy and plan of attack when building a website so important. By focusing on creating an intuitive website structure we were able to increase page views over 70%, decrease bounce rate from 85% to 42% within the first two weeks of our re-design launch. “The Pixel team understood both my needs and concerns and then acted quickly with the design and implementation of the new site. The end result exceeded my expectations and I appreciate the fact that when I had questions they were always there to take my call.” ~ Robert

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  • Jul
    14

    5 Things Design Students should be doing now to get a Job Later


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    5 things to do to land a design jobSo you’re going to school in hopes of landing an awesome job in graphic design? That’s great! But, are you really leveraging every opportunity to increase your chances of this happening upon graduation? Truth is, many (if not most) college grads enter the real world with the misconception that a degree and a portfolio of school assignments will get them a job at the firm of their choice. The harsh reality they face is that it takes much more than this to compete in today’s pool of graphic design talent.

    You could be one of the most skilled designers in the world, but if you don’t work to build your personal brand while you’re in school, you’ll more than likely run into some trouble when it comes to finding a job. So how can you go about creating a personal brand that will sell potential employers on what you can do? First and foremost, start early and work hard! Or, more specifically, start doing the following five things during your studies to prep for graduation:

    1. Develop Soft Skills

    The ability to provide impressive examples of your work is one thing. Being able to sell potential employers in an interview is another. This is where soft skills come in. Soft skills include your ability to listen, problem solve, communicate and present. Refining these skills while you’re in school will put you leaps and bounds ahead of other applicants who have trouble interacting with interviewers. Jobs in customer service and sales are great places to start developing these skills. They force you to think fast and resolve issues on the spot. They also require that you sell a product or service, similar to the way you’ll need to sell employers (and ultimately clients) on your work.

    2. Seek Opportunities for Experience

    This can’t be stressed enough. On-the-job experience is invaluable in terms of landing a secure job after graduation. Employers want to know that you have the ability to produce great work on real-life projects. The great thing is, there are tons of opportunities for students looking to expand their skill sets and get some hands-on experience in design! Some of these include:

    • Unpaid Internships

    Although you’re working for free here, the value of the experience you’ll gain will be more than worth the time you’ve invested. Not only will your internship projects be great portfolio-builders, they’ll also show future employers that you’re capable of working with a team to achieve client objectives. A good internship will also provide you with your first opportunity to get your foot in the door at the firm of your choice.

    • Work Study

    Most schools offer programs that place students in on and off-campus positions that are relevant to their degrees. These positions pay a low wage that is funded by the government and is intended to help students pay for their schooling. Speak with your counselor and/or career services to determine your eligibility for this. Working with your school to get in on this program can help you find awesome opportunities to develop your skill and build your portfolio while earning a little extra money.

    • Junior Positions

    There are a lot of smaller companies looking for help with design projects. While they may not be able to afford the services of a larger firm, they’re looking for a talented in-house designer to help them out. Check classifieds, ask around at career services and get active on LinkedIn to scope out these opportunities. Junior positions are a great way to start working in the field on a more consistent basis, prior to graduation.

    3. Become a Team Player

    We’d all like to think that our ideas are the greatest ideas that have ever been…Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. It takes a team to produce the best finished product possible. That being said, learning to take criticism in stride is crucial to your success in the design world. Clients, art directors, and coworkers will critique your work, and it will be up to you to make the necessary changes without holding a grudge.

    It will also be important for you to work as a team and listen to input from others to improve your work and achieve optimal results.

    The most important thing to learn here is that a critique isn’t a bad thing. In fact, a critique gives you a great opportunity to learn and grow from the expertise others have to share. Develop a thick skin and be open to feedback from clients, peers, and leaders. Even if you’re the only designer in the room, anyone there can have a good idea.

    4. Follow Industry Leaders and Trends

    You can’t design well without seeing what others have designed well. Thanks to social media, finding the work of industry leaders is easier than ever! Following top design firms and designers will give you the guidance you need to produce work that is of higher quality and appeal. Checking design blogs on a consistent basis will also be of utmost importance in keeping with the times. Design is constantly evolving to include new trends and standards. It’s your job to stay on top of them to produce your best work.

    5. Take Advantage of Electives

    While it may be tempting to take a few bowling and yoga classes to finish out your college career with electives, there’s a significant advantage to taking courses in marketing and communications instead. The information you’ll receive in these courses will prep you for the production of strategic work that will be expected of you in an agency.

    Marketing for non-majors and courses in advertising will prove invaluable in your future work at a firm. Some schools even offer programs that allow students to work in an agency setting, producing real work for real clients while earning credit and making connections. Look for interesting opportunities within your school’s communication and marketing departments to increase your skill and build more value in your personal brand.

    Overall, branching out and developing both hard and soft skills early on is the most effective step in securing an awesome job in design – and each tip listed above is a great way you can get started on a successful career while you’re in school. You’ll have to work hard and be persistent, but eventually, the effort you put in will pay off as you develop your talents in design, advertising/marketing, and working with a team. Good Luck!


    Author: Cosette Jarrett

    Cosette Jarrett is a marketing specialist at Red Olive, a digital agency located in Salt Lake City, Utah. She specializes in social media and content marketing, working closely with the Utah SEO team to develop and execute marketing solutions and social strategy. The tips in this post were provided by Red Olive’s Creative Director, Brad Hoen and Art Director, Chris Grayson.

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  • Jul
    07

    How To Not Suck At Email Marketing


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    just hit sendOne of the key strategies in online marketing is knowing how to run an effective email campaign. For the novice in the world of email marketing, this is a method that is best left to the big boy conglomerates to utilize. Not true, many small and mid-sized companies are seeing the advantages from this highly effective marketing tool.

    It may surprise you to learn that as many as 77% of consumers actually have opted to receive permission-based emails over many other marketing strategies. The fact that an email is an invitation for customers to visit your site makes it more personal than any other method of online communication. It’s the most effective way to keep your name in front of them all the time. The challenge that you face though, is how to create an email campaign that will be engaging, unobtrusive, and effective all at the same time. Here are some tips that will help your first email marketing campaign not suck.

    Know Your Message

    One of the first things you need to run an effective email campaign is to know the message you want to send. A constant barrage of messages about what you offer may not be enough to keep potential consumers engaged. Instead, focus on things that your customers will relate to; your availability, rewards programs, referrals, how you’re different from your competitors, and to build a relationship.

    If you’re interested in increasing your bottom line, building a brand reputation, demonstrating your interest in your consumers and motivating your readers to follow you, you need to be able to deliver that message in your email campaign. The key is that your message has to be of value to the reader. Promotions and campaigns have their places in the email marketing effort but your customers are going to be more interested in how valuable they are to them.

    The List

    Before you can even begin to send out your newly developed email campaign you need to have a list. Start with your present customers and those whom you already have their email addresses. Add an email signup to your website so that you can build that list with people that are actually inviting you to communicate with them. At this point you have two choices before you; A) do you end out a blanket email to everyone? Or B) do you segment your list and send out a separate campaign to different groups, tailoring the message to specific interests? Research has shown that those who send out a segmented list actually attract 15% more clicks than the blanket email campaigns. Although segmented messages may be a little more work, you can expect more results in return.

    Develop Your Campaign

    Your campaign should have a name so that you can easily identify it when the responses start to come in. If you’re promoting a specific product or service then you can give it a promotional identification. If it’s a regular mailing you can identify it by date. This is important if you’re planning on sending several different campaigns or you’re going to be doing this on a regular basis. You’ll want to be able to identify which campaigns are producing results and which ones are not.

    Develop an email subject line that is intriguing enough to motivate them to open it. Many have found success in using a question to draw their readers in while others use a humorous phrase. Many computers now have filters that will reroute your email to the spam folder if you use certain trigger words so watch your wording carefully. This is not a step that you can afford to do without. Email services like MailChimp have discovered that around 93% of companies that invest time in developing their subject line get a higher open rate than those that don’t.

    Writing and Editing

    Writing can be a difficult process if you’ve never had to do it. Each word has value so you want to make sure that every one counts. Be sure that the font style fits with your brand name. Include your contact information and your focus should be on what you can do for the customer and not on what you want them to do. Make sure that you check for mistakes and grammatical errors. They can be very easy to do but not always easy to catch.

    Once your campaign has been launched, keep close records of the results and analyze them carefully. Find out what worked and what didn’t and make the needed adjustments before you begin on another route. Email campaigns can be very effective at bringing new customers to your doors if you invest the time to do it just right. Once you get the hang of it, you’ll want to do a special campaign on a regular basis and you’ll soon see the results of a rising client base that can be extremely effective in building up your bottom line.

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  • Jul
    01

    10 Ways To Dramatically Boost Consumer Trust With Your Ecommerce Reviews


    posted in BigCommerce
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    building consumer trustOne of the best ways to boost your business is with testimonials from satisfied customers and product reviews. Statistics have shown that more than 70% of consumers will consult a product review before they decide on a purchase and 63% of consumers will buy from a site that includes product ratings and reviews on their website or blog. Clearly, an extremely effective way to increase sales is to build trust in your customers through effective use of customer reviews.

    Here are 10 ways you can do this effectively.

    1. Place At Least A Few Reviews on Your Home Page

    While reviews for a specific product can be placed on the product page, you can draw the consumer in with a few well-selected ones right on the front page of your site. You want to be sure that the appeal for your product or service is placed front and center.

    2. Join the Same Sites As Your Customers

    We live in a society where people communicate in many different ways. That’s why social networking actually works. Being a part of the same social lines of communication as your customers makes your presence more accessible and will encourage more people to participate in writing reviews about your products and/or services.

    3. Follow Up

    If you want repeat customers make sure that you follow up with customers after they have made a purchase. They will be more inclined to write a review when their purchase is still fresh in their minds. You can even set up an automated follow up letter requesting a review so you don’t have to worry about it.

    4. Ask Questions

    In order to ask good questions you need to know what kind of answers you’re looking for. Learn about your target audience, their interests, concerns, and challenges in your particular industry. Once you know these questions you’ll be able to land some very effective testimonials.

    5. Keep in Touch with Those Who Give You Great Reviews

    If you notice that someone has given you an excellent review on one of the social media sites, make sure that you thank them and request permission to share their review on your website and social media platforms. This not only instills a strong relationship that will keep your customer coming back but puts out a positive message that will encourage new customers to reach out for that relationship too.

    6. Keep in Touch with Those That Have Made a Negative Review About Your Service

    Negative reviews also need to be addressed. With most eCommerce platforms such as BigCommerce, you have control over what reviews to show publicly and those that should be addressed, but maybe not shown if you know what I mean... That being said, you should always try to contact those with an unfavorable response to your product and/or service to try to remedy the problems. These types of reviews can be viewed as an opportunity for you to make some adjustments in your business, a warning sign of potential problems, and a chance to learn from your clients. One thing for sure, if a negative review is allowed to hit the mainstream social networking outlets, it could be devastating to your establishment. The sooner you address it the better your chances of turning it around. One thing for sure, it’s not going to go away unless you do something about it.

    7. Hold a Contest

    Running a contest is an excellent way to encourage your customers to write a review. There are many different ways to encourage people to write about your business or service. A slogan campaign, a hashtag promotion, or even a posting on Facebook can be very effective in making your business look good to a newcomer.

    8. Start a Rewards Program

    Incentives are great motivators when it comes to getting results. Offering customers a 10% off coupon for a review can produce surprising results. Better yet, don’t even tell them ahead of time and reward them afterwards and you’ll increase their loyalty to you indefinitely.

    9. A Pictures Says a 1000 Words

    When a customer posts a favorable review on their site ask for a photo to add to it. This not only makes the customer feel valued but it increases your level of credibility in the review itself. If the review has been posted on a social media site or another website, make sure you add the link to that site next to the review.

    10. Be Warm and Fuzzy

    The more you interact with your customers the more likely they will feel connected to you. Give your customers a reason to write back. Making it a natural part of an ongoing conversation will go a long way in getting that positive review that you’re looking for. It could be as simple as writing a thank you note or a response to a contact request but the give and take relationship can make a major difference in how many reviews you get.

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  • Jun
    27

    Bad Employees: The Business Form of Cancer – Cut It Out Quickly!


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    hiring the wrong personThe difference between hiring the right people and hiring the wrong people can literally mean a team that supports and fosters your success or a team that sinks your ship.

    Having to hire a new employee for your small business, no matter if it is your first secretary or your 10th cashier, means that your business is growing, you are delegating, and you are having a big-picture mentality, all of which are great things. But hiring someone new can be daunting no matter what stage of business you are at, especially when introducing a new person to the work environment can easily change the dynamics. Hiring the wrong person is a lot like giving your business cancer; it can start small and barely noticeable but quickly evolves into a soul sucking disease.

    The stakes can be high when you are recruiting, and the rule of thumb in the industry is that the wrong employee can cost you upwards of 3 to 4 times his or her annual salary. This means that a $25,000 employee can cost you $50,000, and a $75,000 employee can end up costing your company $150,000. You also have to factor in the cost of lost business, a lost opportunity cost, potential customers and momentum, and once that happens you have to start all over again looking for a replacement. Don’t sink your own ship. Here are a few ways to avoid this problem before it even starts.

    Hiring Too Quickly

    One of the biggest mistakes many employers do is to hire a new person after only one interview. It can be tempting to rush the interview process, because you’re short on time and desperately need the additional help. However, hiring the wrong person is far from helpful. Having the person come in a few times gives you a chance to see if they present the same way each time, and you may get a different feeling about them once you see them again. Meeting on a separate occasion will give you ample time to see how you really feel about a person or at the very least detect any red flags.

    Believe me, if there are any red flags no matter how insignificant they might seem at the time, do yourself a favor and move on to the next candidate. I can speak from experience on this subject. I totally botched a couple of early hires for my business; one of which turned our close knit office environment into a place of fear and anxiety. Morale was down, production took a nose dive, I actually dreaded coming into my own office to face this individual each day. Then I would go home and lose sleep worrying about what damage would come next. What did I do wrong? I tried to make something that was clearly broken work, because it was much easier to make excuses in the beginning rather than cutting out the disease before it spread. Hiring the wrong person costs much more than just the price of a salary – act quickly.

    When the perspective employee is in for the second interview, ask him questions that are different from last time, but similar, to see how consistent the person is. If the person seems to be uncomfortable with how the process is going, drag it out even further. You want to make him or here understand how crucial it is for you to hire the right person for the job, and will want someone that can follow your cues and be on the same wavelength. These are things that make it tough to fight the right hire from just one interview.

    Talking Too Much About the Job

    During the primary interview, you want to try to feel out the candidate. If you spend too much time talking about the work involved and what the person will be doing, you will miss out on this great opportunity. Instead, talk about the philosophy your company has, and its culture. Tell the prospect how important it is for him or her to be a team player. Hire the person that seems interested in the workings of the company, and is excited about getting involved, not the candidate that seems bored and wants to rush through the interview process. This will ensure that you hire the right person for the job the first time, and will save you money in the long run.

    Google and Facebook are Your Friends

    We’ve all heard the stories about employers checking Facebook profiles to weed out potential problem candidates. Right or wrong there’s a reason that they do that. Insight into a person’s personality can tell you a lot about their true nature and how it will impact the work place. Often times true personality can be buried in interviews. While most people view Facebook profiles as a personal and private arena, many people leave their profiles open for all to access. While peeping on someone’s Facebook page does seem a bit creepy to me at the very least you should run several Google searches on the applicants’ name. You’d be surprised what can come up even when their background check comes through squeaky clean. In some instances you might even find previous lawsuits against previous employers. Ya, you’d want to dodge that bullet.

    What Should You Do if You Hire A Bad Seed?

    Act Quickly to Stop The Spread of Disease!

    Yes, I know it sounds harsh, but avoidance is the enemy when red flags start popping up. If you hire the wrong person, chances are you will start recognizing this within weeks and almost certainly within 90 days. Act quickly with corrective actions for anything such as; attitude, work ethic, job performance, and insubordination. Don’t be cruel, but let the individual know that they are underperforming or their attitude is not appropriate for the workplace. Document all corrective measures and then move quickly to terminate. No, it’s not fun to fire someone, but it’s even worse to allow problems to fester and spread throughout the workplace. Cut out the cancer now!

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  • Jun
    23

    6 Secrets To Engage Your Customers Online


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    creating exciting contentHow can I engage my customers? This has got to be one of the most frequently asked questions from my eCommerce clients. The truth is  and there is no magical secret to engaging them. In my recent article: “Learn How to Engage Your Online Customers to Grow Your Business”, I talked about the fundamentals of uncovering why your customers need you. In this follow up post I will 6 ways that will really boost your customer engagement.

    The key to being successful in a business is knowing your audience. In today’s modern world of Internet and Google searchers, marketers have learned that knowing where your audience spends their time online is a necessity to be successful. With that being said, if you read on below, you will find a few tips to tell you How to engage your customers online.

    Know Exactly Where Your Customers Spend Their Time

    Studies show that most Internet browsers spend a lot of their time on social media sites. Sites like Facebook, Google Plus, and Twitter have tons of traffic and you need to capitalize on that to have a successful business. If your customers are spending key amounts of time on social media sites, it stands to reason that this is where you need to use your marketing strategies. This means that you need to include a very healthy dose of social media in your marketing along with the traditional email and other marketing strategies.

    Provide Exciting Targeted Content

    It seems that mobile browsing is a big thing these days as well. So, you want any content that you post to be short, to the point, but still entertaining. Videos work well, as do articles that don’t have tons of meaningless fluff. Articles that have three to five sentences per paragraph keep a reader’s attention better than most and you need to be sure to write an engaging title that will draw your reader in.

    If you just can’t seem uncover topics that are intriguing, remember, the best content is content that your audience can relate to. Hang out where your customers hang out online. This goes back to knowing exactly where your customers spend their time and what their needs are. If this isn’t your cup of tea, you can also hire a professional content writer to do this type of thing for you, as they are trained in exactly this type of research.

    Facebook and YouTube

    Studies show that Facebook and YouTube get more traffic in a day than a combination of many other sites put together. This should tell you something about your marketing strategy. Identify your target audience and then post things that will draw them in on these sites.

    Other sites that tend to have a lot of online traffic are:

    • Zynga
    • Google Search
    • Yahoo Mail
    • Craigs list
    • E-bay
    • Yahoo Homepage
    • Google Plus

    Target these few sites and you should see your business grow in no time at all.

    Focus a Lot of Energy on Facebook Itself

    The last published data for Facebook shows that it has 845 million viewers a month. That is a lot of viewers and a lot of potential customers for your business. Studies show that Facebook dominates social media in two other ways as well. These are:

    • Facebook is the premier player among when it comes to web properties. In other world’s they dominate the Internet with the time that people spend on their site. This equals customer engagement for you and your business, if you use the marketing strategies outlined.
    • Facebook has a very impressive mindshare percentage that makes it number one in the industry and the perfect place to advertise for customers to grow your business.
    • Targeting Your Facebook Ads: Jon Loomer wrote a really good post on how to dial in your likely audience for better conversion on Facebook. Read it Here.

    Take Video Seriously

    According to studies, Internet users tend to watch videos more often than they do anything else online. Maybe it is the learning as you go method that causes this, but the results are amazing. In order to succeed in your business, you need to start taking video seriously. Get away from the old-fashioned marketing ideas and make sure that you post some entertaining videos that are chockfull of good, valuable information on social media sites.

    Learn from the Best

    Do your research to be sure that you are doing your marketing the right way. Target people in your industry and study what marketing strategies they are using to make their businesses so successful.

    Follow the tips above for engaging your customers online and you will be successful in no time at all.

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