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Podcast: the key to ecommerce success in 2016

February 29, 2016 by Chloë Thomas

Want to improve your ecommerce sales in 2016 but don’t know where to start?

In my latest podcast, I have gathered together four experts to discover the key to ecommerce success for 2016.

Ernest Capbert runs the website Who Buys Your Stuff. He has some great suggestions on how to use data to better understand your customers.

Andrew Wilson of Allergy Best Buys has some useful advice on how to focus on the brand, not the product.

Chris Dawson, co-founder and editor of Tamebay, reveals how to use marketplaces to open up new sales channels both at home and overseas.

Alex O’Byrne, co-founder of WeMakeWebsites, has some great tips on automation and email.

And my advice is to keep focusing on the customer every step of the way. To find out more, tune in to this podcast; it could help you improve your online sales this year.

Copyright © 2016 Chloe Thomas of eCommerce Masterplan.

Why practice makes perfect when it comes to communication

February 22, 2016 by Andy Bounds

Why practice makes perfect when it comes to communication{{}}When a fan once said to violinist Fritz Kreisler "I'd give my whole life to play as beautifully as you just did," Fritz answered, "I did."

He didn't just read about the theory of music every day; he played the violin - a lot.

It's the same with Lewis Hamilton. He has spent thousands of hours sitting behind the wheel. He certainly hasn't just been reading the Highway Code for years.

So, when you're talking with others and want to say the right thing, remember the only way to succeed is to practise saying what you want to say until you get it right.

I'm sure you're familiar with the famous quote from George Orwell's Animal Farm - "all animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others".

It's the same with communication - all sentences are equal, but some sentences are more equal than others. The bits you need to practise include your openings, your elevator pitch, your responses to challenges and questions that get people talking.

These are your critical communications and they are the ones you need to practise, out loud, as much as possible:

  • The opening sentence of a presentation. A great start builds confidence - for you and your audience, letting them know that this is going to be a great use of their time.
  • Your opening sentence at a meeting. This sets the tone for the whole thing. Which meeting you would you rather attend? One starting: "welcome to the meeting; let me read out the ten point agenda" or one that begins "welcome to the meeting. The reason we're here is because - afterwards - we need to be able to do X, Y and Z. And as soon as we can, we'll finish."
  • Your elevator pitch, so you quickly impress everyone you meet.
  • Power questions, so you get the other person talking about the topics you're most interested in.
  • Answers to your most dreaded sentences. Prepare and practise how to respond to the things you dread hearing others say. That way, you don't dread them any more.

So, look at today's diary and identify the most important bits of your communications. Practise saying them out loud, a lot. It'll make a huge difference.

Copyright © 2016 Andy Bounds, communications expert, speaker and the author of The Snowball Effect: Communication Techniques to Make You Unstoppable. You can sign up for his free weekly tips here. This blog first appeared here.

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The fine art of putting up your prices

February 22, 2016 by Dee Blick

The fine art of putting up your prices{{}}It happens to us all at some time or other; you realise that your expertise and experience is worth far more than the prices you're charging. Or maybe you’ve absorbed so many increased costs in order to stay competitive that your profit margin has diminished.

It's time to raise your prices if you want to stay in business.

But the decision to increase your prices can cause a great deal of stress. How will your existing customers react? They have become accustomed to paying a particular fee, they've budgeted for your services or products and now they’re faced with paying more.

Here are four tried and tested ways to handle a price increase without losing many customers.

  1. Instead of immediately imposing a price increase on your customers, let them know you’ll be increasing your prices a little further down the line so it gives them time to adjust to the news.
  2. If possible, don’t charge the full price increase to your existing customers. Let them know that new customers will be paying the full whack, even going so far as to tell them what this will be to reassure them that, because of their loyalty, they’ll be getting a preferential rate.
  3. Let your customers know about the additional things you do now and that you will continue to do, that you don’t charge for. Don’t assume that your customers are aware of all of the extras you provide.
  4. Check out your competitors’ charges. If you’re still price competitive after an increase you can be confident that if some clients do talk to competitors, they will most likely come back to you.

Of course, no matter how sensitively you handle the news of your price increase, you may still lose some customers - especially those for whom price is everything. Accept this - you can’t please everyone!

Perhaps the best advice I can share with you is to charge a fair price in the first place. If you start off charging a rock bottom price to bring customers through the door, it won’t be long before you become resentful that you’re delivering so much for so little. Trying to remedy this situation by dramatically putting up your prices will just alienate your customer base.

Copyright © 2015 Dee Blick, Fellow of The Chartered Institute of Marketing and an Amazon #1 bestselling author of The Ultimate Small Business Marketing Book and The 15 Essential Marketing Masterclasses for your Small Business.

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Move over millennials, Generation Z is here

February 15, 2016 by Marketing Donut contributor

Move over millennials, Generation Z is here{{}}The millennials are growing up. Young people born in the eighties and nineties have been seen as the first generation to adapt to the "new age". However, these consumers are now entering their thirties and there is a new, younger generation making its mark - Generation Z.

Gen Z youngsters have grown up in the iGeneration - indeed, they have never known life before broadband, mobile phones, apps and social media. But they arguably have a more mature appreciation for culture and ethics compared to their predecessors.

For businesses and marketing professionals, Gen Z presents an interesting demographic to target, as the way they play turns traditional consumer behaviour on its head. The latest research shows that Generation Z are completely turned off by celebrity culture and traditional media, and are more tuned in to peer-to-peer recommendation and online superstars like Zoe Suggs, Tanya Burr, Jim Chapman and Alfie Deyes. For female Generation Z-ers, bloggers are actually cited as the fourth most popular "celebrity" influence.

Understanding Generation Z

Chloe Combi, author of Generation Z, defines this audience as those born between 1995 and 2001 - a subset of Generation Y, really, but a distinct one, whose dates coincide with the spread of home internet connections and mobile phones.

Combi explains: "This iGeneration can't conceive of a world before everyone owned a mobile phone, and instant gratification is their norm; they have it in the palms of their hands within moments, usually for free. This ability to find whatever they're after without the help of intermediaries - such as libraries, shops or teachers - has made them more independent and self-directed than generations before them."

For Generation Z, social media is king. Unsurprisingly, Facebook remains the number one platform, however for Generation Z, Snapchat is the second most popular, with 42% of this audience checking Snapchat at least once a day. For other audiences, Snapchat would barely even get into the top ten. With Snapchat increasingly looking to monetise their service, this is a really interesting platform to keep an eye on if you have a product or service that targets this complex group.

As far as Generation Z is concerned, print media is dead. This is isn't to say they don't pick up the odd magazine or newspaper, however for genuine cut through, online sites, bloggers and vloggers are the media that hold the real power of influence.

Canny consumers

These guys shop around, read review sites and blogs, seek out recommendations and refer constantly to social media. This audience is savvy and is looking for value for money.

For any successful marketing or PR campaign, consumer profiling and understanding how your target audience plays is pivotal. As technology continues to advance at an incredible rate, and as what we know from one generation to the next changes rapidly, understanding consumer behaviour and applying this knowledge to your marketing could make the difference between failure and success.

Generation Z is an interesting demographic and a challenging and exciting audience to engage with. The New York Times has described Gen Z as "the next big thing for market researchers, cultural observers and trend forecasters".

However, by no means are we close to fully understanding this audience, as the nature of Generation Z means they are ever developing and evolving in their behaviour.

Copyright © 2016 Rhianon Williams, associate director at consumer PR agency Escapade PR.

Escapade has produced this infographic to help businesses better understand Generation Z:

Move over millennials, Generation Z is here

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Podcast: expert online marketing tips for 2016

February 08, 2016 by Chloë Thomas

What are the best marketing methods to use in 2016 if you want to boost your online sales results?

In this podcast, I talk to four experts to get their tips on the best marketing strategies for ecommerce retailers in the coming year.

Alex O’Byrne, co-founder of WeMakeWebsites, talks about putting customers first and creating content that attracts and influences them.

Ernest Capbert runs the website Who Buys Your Stuff. He talks about what to do with your marketing after you understand who your customer is, focusing on CRM and social media advertising.

Chris Dawson, co-founder and editor of Tamebay, talks about some of the tools you can use to improve your results on marketplaces such as eBay and Amazon.

Andrew Wilson of Allergy Best Buys reveals how offline marketing can help you sell more products online.

In addition, I share some thoughts on Facebook ads, remarketing and email sign-ups that I hope will be useful. Enjoy the podcast.

Copyright © 2016 Chloe Thomas of eCommerce Masterplan.

How to boost the profit from your existing customer base

February 08, 2016 by Shweta Jhajharia

How to boost the profit from your existing customer base{{}}Many business owners assume marketing is all about lead generation; pulling in new enquiries and gaining new customers.

But this is not the whole picture. Marketing is actually about getting more business. And that includes getting more value out of your existing customer base.

To achieve this you need to be able to identify two customer types. Firstly, you need to know who are your most profitable customers - those that are bringing you high value. This is the absolute gross profit taking into account the volume of sales. Then you need to know who are your "active" customers, those that are engaged with you in some way within a set period of time.

How you approach each of the four main customer segments depends on their profitability and levels of activity. I call this the four Rs - retention, reactivation, reconditioning and reach. Here's how it works:

1. Retention: high profit, active clients

These are the customers who are bringing you high profit and are active. Generally, these will be the 20% of customers that give you 80% of your business. You need to keep these.

Your mindset

Think about retaining them. Have they stopped communicating, are they buying lower margin products or not buying at all?

Strategies

  • Loyalty. Think personal gifts, loyalty programs, rebate points, special deals and freebies. Highlight the higher margin products to prevent them dropping into a lower profit category;
  • Referrals. Decide how, who and when to ask for referrals. You can download a simple 3-step referral system here;
  • Closed-door sales. Take the 15-20% that give you 80% of your business and really making them feel special. This is what customers stick around for and how you create raving fans.

2. Reactivation: high profit, inactive clients

These are the customers who may have once been purchasing at a profitable level, but have started to communicate less with you. Find out why.

Your mindset

You are just reaching out to them, not selling. You want to remind them that you exist, and keep your brand in their thoughts.

Strategies

  • Email sequences. Prepare three emails; make them punchy and straightforward, offering real value to these customers when they re-engage with you. The point is to appear in their inbox and become associated with valuable content. So when their need does arise, you will be the first one they think of;
  • Telephone calls. A phone call can double your reactivation rate. This is a customer care call. Extending a free invitation to an event is a great reason to call and a good reactivation funnel;
  • Find out if something has gone wrong; then rectify the problem.
If you really believe in your product or service, then sales is an education process, and not reaching out is doing your customers a disservice.

3. Reconditioning: low profit, active clients

These are your "comfort zone" clients. You may be afraid to touch them in case they stop buying from you altogether, but the truth is there is more that you can do.

Your mindset

Focus on reconditioning the situation, so the customer is getting more value and is giving you more value in return.

Strategies

  • Change the product mix or options so that they become more valuable to both you and the customer;
  • Increase your prices. Remember most customers are more interested in value than cheap;
  • Negotiate with suppliers to bring the price down; your customer does not undergo any change, but you increase the value they are giving you.

4. Reach: low profit, inactive clients

Don't place your emphasis here but do have a strategy; these customers may become more valuable in the future.

Your mindset

Reach out with minimal effort.

Strategies

  • Automated follow-up. This should not be a hard sell. You are simply regularly showing them you are of value, until they have need for you again;
  • Social media. Post regularly to remind them about you. Use automation software such as Buffer and Hootsuite to save time.

Once you can clearly place your customers into these categories, you will be far better positioned to achieve stability and smart growth.

Copyright © 2016 Shweta Jhajharia, principal coach and founder of The London Coaching Group.

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