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How to improve the online shopping experience for your customers

February 13, 2014 by Marketing Donut contributor

How to improve the online shopping experience for your customers/Add to cart button on a keyboard{{}}Thanks to the internet, businesses can find themselves competing against competitors all over the world. As a result of globalisation, customers are getting bombarded every day with brand messages. Even when you have an excellent service or product, simply getting people's attention and having your company stand out is a challenge.

Changing patterns of behaviour

What’s more, people are busier than ever. Customers today know they have alternatives and won't hesitate to turn to them if you don't meet their expectations. All customers have to do if they're not happy is click away from your site, do a quick search for what they need, and then you're out of the picture. With more people shopping online, improving your customers' experience with your website is essential to maintaining a solid client base and getting referrals.

Keeping customers satisfied online

There are many ways to keep your customers satisfied online, depending on your operational constraints and needs. You could try the following options:-

Improve the online shopping experience

Customers want to be able to see what they've picked out from your site, not only to make sure they have everything they need or want, but also because they need to see what everything is going to cost them. Make it easier for your customers to see what they've selected, what each item costs, what the total expense will be and how much you're adding in taxes and/or shipping.

Flag up offers and benefits

Discounts need to be clear, too. They help customers feel like they're getting a good deal. Mention promotions and offers one last time, such as a reduced rate for spending more than a certain amount. This way, customers get a second chance and won't feel cheated if they find out about them after buying. In general, keep the shopping cart near the top of your page, because people tend not to scroll down far. It should be easy to spot and identify.

Track customer behavior

Customer service software, such as CRM applications, allow you to determine things like how long it has been since a customer visited your site or what they bought. This enables you to suggest other items or services, send reminders or even automate sales. Your customers often get a streamlined experience and at the same time, they feel as though you're treating them as an individual.

Follow up regularly

If you don't follow up with clients, they can get the impression that you are lukewarm about them — and that’s when competitors can easily attract their attention. Email is a decent way to follow up, but more and more companies are also using text. Remember, your customers don't just want confirmation of their purchases. They want to be involved, and they need a helping hand once in a while.

Ask for feedback and touch base just to see if their needs have changed. Offer more information, support or access, and send reminders about events, maintenance or other options. As Forbes suggests, testimonials and customer reviews work well because they build trust and inspire customers to take action.

Jack Bishop is an eCommerce guru, writing for Shopify customer service software solutions. He has a passion for helping small businesses run well with modern technology.

 

Are you driving the right sort of traffic to your website?

November 12, 2013 by Chloë Thomas

Are you driving the right sort of traffic to your website?/cars in a traffic jam{{}}If you want a successful ecommerce website, then there is a formula you must apply. It is:

Traffic x AOV (average order value) x conversion rate = sales

Traffic is the most powerful of the three items before the equals sign because the traffic influences both the AOV and the conversion rate. However, simply driving a lot of traffic will never be enough.

You also need to be driving the right kind of traffic. Here’s how:

1. Understand the traffic mix that’s hitting your website and how it is performing. Almost always this will show that one traffic source is performing particularly badly — so that’s the one you need to deal with.

2. When analysing your traffic, you need to consider what sort of marketing activity drove that traffic to your website in the first place. There are nine key marketing methods in ecommerce: content, email, social media, brand awareness, offline marketing, search, Pay Per Click (PPC), remarketing and partnerships.

These methods are either free or paid-for and what they achieve is either brand building or conversion driving.

3. Think about each of your marketing activities and consider how they should be performing:

  • If it’s brand building activity, then you want a low bounce rate, but you shouldn’t be too worried about the conversion rate;
  • If it’s conversion driving, then you care about the conversion rate and the AOV;
  • With paid-for traffic, you want to have a low bounce rate (a high bounce rate shows your marketing is badly targeted), and enough engagement (be it page-views or conversions) to make it worthwhile;
  • It’s less important to have the stats on free traffic but if you’re putting in a lot of work to get it then analyse it just as you would be paid-for traffic.

When you start looking at your marketing this way, you’ll quickly find some activity you really want to stop, some you want to do more of and some you need to test.

4. Once you have your existing traffic sources optimised, you will be ready to start looking for more traffic.

An ecommerce business can’t afford to rely on one traffic source — you never know when it’s going to dry up or change, or when the Return on Investment (ROI) is going to deteriorate too much for it to be useful. As a minimum you should be using four at any one time and test others.

Recent changes to Google Adwords means “simple” PPC has become a labyrinth of different testing opportunities which, when combined together in the right way, could bring you some very cost effective traffic.

Looking at and reviewing the performance of your traffic, and making sure you’re using the right marketing methods, and enough marketing methods really is essential for your success.

Chloë Thomas is author of eCommerce MasterPlan and owns and runs indiumonline, an online marketing agency.

A seasonal reminder - why it's not too soon to plan your ecommerce Christmas

September 19, 2013 by Chloë Thomas

A seasonal reminder - why it's not too soon to plan your ecommerce Christmas/calendar displaying christmas{{}}It may seem a long way away, but if you run an ecommerce business then you should already be planning your marketing campaigns for a really successful Christmas season.

Planning for Christmas has the advantage of a defined end date — you should know the last date you can take orders and still get them delivered. So that’s the first thing you need to work out — when is your last order date for Christmas?

Once you’ve got your end date, you can start planning in the relevant promotions and create a plan.

Plan your stories

The strongest marketing plans are those that are built on strong stories. Stories are the subjects and themes that hold together a set of activities over a number of weeks and across your marketing channels.

What should your stories for Christmas be? And just saying “Christmas” for three months is copping out. Here’s some ideas get you started: 

  • Last order dates
  • Stock up on stocking fillers
  • Christmas cards
  • Last minute gifts
  • Personalised gifts (usually with an earlier last order date)
  • Order early discount weekend

None of those is particularly creative, but building on your brand and events around Christmas can give you some great stories. From 1st October to Christmas Day you should aim to have four to six different stories.

Schedule your story-telling

Once you’ve got your stories, pencil them into your calendar. Next, start filling in the big marketing activities. The big ones are those that get seen by lots of people; your emails, what’s on the homepage, social media competitions, blogs, videos and other content.

While you’re working out the content of these emails and blogs, you’ll probably find you want to jig around some of the stories because you’ve got more ideas under some than others — that’s fine, that’s why we’re planning all this now, so you have time to make those changes.

Mini-marketing

The next part is to fill in the mini-marketing activity, those areas that don’t require a whole blog post or a whole email to be created but which are no less essential to a successful season. These include: remarketing, pay per click advertising and social media posts. You need to note when key changes need to be made, such as when ad text needs to be rewritten and the important things you should be tweeting about.

If you get your Christmas marketing plan together now, it’s going to make your season both more successful and easier to manage. But, don’t forget a good marketing plan is flexible — so monitor the results and if you need to change it, change it.

Chloe Thomas is an eCommerce expert and the author of eCommerce Masterplan.

Posted in Internet marketing | Tagged ecommerce | 0 comments

Five ways for retailers to get the most from Facebook integration

June 17, 2013 by Declan Kennedy

Five ways for retailers to get the most from Facebook integration{{}}The big hot topic in ecommerce at the moment is personalisation. Through intelligent integration of Facebook Login, online retailers can access data on likes, interests, friends, even photos — a much greater wealth of more truly personal information.

In order to make the most of this information, follow these five tips so that you can provide a tailored experience to your customers:

1.Take the plunge

The world’s biggest social network is essentially offering retailers access to the largest bank of personal data ever created. So, as online retailers are looking to create personalised ecommerce experiences, it would seem to be a given to take advantage of this opportunity.

2. Account creation and account linking

Many online retailers implement Login with Facebook for account creation, but not account linking. Quickening the new user sign-up process is one benefit of Login with Facebook, but it is really only scratching the surface in terms of making the most of the benefits. Make sure to take advantage of Facebook Login for account linking.

3. Make it clear to the user

Put the Login with Facebook option front and centre so your customers can’t miss it. Highlight the benefits for the customer of signing in with Facebook too. Rather than the long forms users are often expected to complete during registration, with a couple of clicks and a redirection to Facebook permissions, the registration process can be made dramatically less complicated. However, gaining your customers’ trust is important when requesting access to personal information they share on Facebook.

4. Consider your permissions

What do you need to know about your customers to help you deliver a truly personal experiences? Access to a user’s friends list and other information on their public profile will certainly be useful, but think what can be achieved using data on their Facebook Likes and Interests. Ensure you have a clear strategy from the start, as you cannot send permissions to a user through Facebook twice.

5. Make the most of data

You have the data, so use it. If you are a music retailer, recommend a new artist’s release to customers who like that artist, or similar artists, on Facebook. If you stock tents or rucksacks, promote the product on your home page to users whose interests include hiking. Show your customers what their friends have bought, reviewed or liked to turn their online shopping experience into a truly personal one.

Providing a tailored experience to your customers will allow you to build relationships, loyalty, conversions and ultimately, revenue. With personalisation shaping the future of ecommerce, make sure you are not missing out on this valuable opportunity.

Declan Kennedy is chief executive at Betapond.

Are you making the most of your online audience?

March 20, 2013 by Nicola Bird

Are you making the most of your online audience?/online learning{{}}Have you ever heard the phrase the “busy fool”? For many business owners, this is their reality. They work all hours of the day servicing their one-to-one clients, often into the evenings. Time off is few and far between.

Those whose only revenue comes from selling their one-to-one time will always be limited by how much they can physically and mentally deliver in a day, week or month. They will never be able to break through that ceiling, unless they can charge significantly more for their time.

For me, the move to online coaching literally transformed my business overnight as one of my first product promotions resulted in $24,000 of sales, the majority of which were a passive revenue stream for me.

Selling consultancy online

I am not alone in my experiences either. There are many people out there making impressive revenues by selling their services online. The great thing about it is that it applies to any type of coaching or training, not just the traditional personal or professional development coaching.

I know a personal fitness instructor who made thousands from selling an online fitness bootcamp, containing content she had created years before, but had never found a way to use properly. What I love about that particular story is that she created additional revenue from what she already had in place and it was a totally new market that opened up for her — clients that were not on her doorstep.

Thinking outside the box

If you are wondering if this will work for you, I would encourage you to ask yourself one simple question. Are you limiting yourself by not thinking outside of the box and exploring new routes to market and new customer bases? Are there ways of attracting new business that you haven’t even thought of yet and if you did, what impact could they make?

It does take some thought to work out how to package up what you do into products your clients actually want to buy, but once you’ve made that first online sale, you can do it over and over again.

I still love my one-to-one coaching — it brings me great fulfilment and helps to keep me challenged to develop my skills and experience, but having more than one route to market and multiple revenue streams means I get to live life the way I want to and that is absolutely priceless.

Nicola Bird is the creator of JigsawBox, an online coaching tool for coaches, trainers and consultants.

Three ways to improve your ecommerce marketing

January 17, 2013 by Chloë Thomas

Three ways to improve your ecommerce marketing/road sign ecommerce{{}}There are three types of marketing that, if you get them right, are really going to fast-track your business success in 2013.

Content marketing, social media sharing, and remarketing are three areas that can increase your sales and where you can still be the first in your marketplace to get it right. That will give you great power over your competition.

Great content marketing is going to sit at the centre of successful sustainable marketing activity in 2013. That’s because, without great content, you’re not going to get good traffic from the search engines, and there’s little for customers to discuss about you on social media (which also affects your search traffic). Plus, good content builds customers’ warmth towards you — it defines your brand and keeps them coming back again and again.

What is content?

It might be a blog, it might be a video, or pictures of your latest photo-shoot, or even an infographic. Essentially content is anything people can consume online — written, visual, or audio.

If you really want to take it to top-of-the-class content — get your customers to create it for you! Ask them to write blog posts for you, review your products, or post videos of them using them.

Social sharing

Creating content isn’t easy, but this next tip for 2013 is.

Social media sharing buttons. These are the little buttons you find on a blog or product page that invite the visitor to share the page on Twitter or Facebook. Once you’ve added them to your page templates, that’s it, the job is done.

So why should you add them? Well, if you want to win in the search engine rankings war in 2013 you need people talking about your site and your products on social media. That means you need to make it easy for them to do so. Visitors are more likely to talk about you and your products online if there’s a button on that product page telling them to.

Capture more customers

Both the above tips are about driving more traffic to your website, the third top marketing tactic for 2013 is all about improving your conversion rate. Remarketing enables you to show ads to people who’ve already visited your website — reminding them to come back and buy from you.

You simply need to add a piece of code to all the pages of your website, and then create the targeting rules and the ads. To do all this you can use Google Adwords, and you pay for the advertising on a cost per click basis.

A few things to be careful of — with your targeting make sure you exclude those people who did buy, limit how long after their last visit they’ll see your ads, and set a maximum number of times they see your ad each day.

And finally, a little bonus tip — test out selling your products on Amazon and eBay. That’s where many consumers are spending their online shopping time — so if you’re not there, you’re probably missing out!

Chloe Thomas is an eCommerce expert and the author of eCommerce Masterplan.

Posted in Internet marketing | Tagged ecommerce | 0 comments

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