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Determining if guest checkout is right for your store

December 29, 2015 - 5 Comments

As our online activities increase, so do the number of online accounts in our names. It seems as if nearly every website out there asks you to “sign up” or “sign in” — and the process is hardly ever simple. Nor are these accounts held to the same standards from one site to the next, leading to forgotten or even insecure passwords.

No one wants to create yet another account unless there’s a clear benefit to doing so. Shoppers will even go to great lengths to avoid signing in to complete a purchase, up to and including completely abandoning their cart in favor of a different store.

In short: customers everywhere are suffering from new account fatigue, and it could be hurting your store.

The obvious solution to this issue is the option of a guest checkout option, which doesn’t require shoppers to create an account or save any personal information to complete a purchase. However, adding guest checkout isn’t a smart move for every online store, and it could actually cause more problems than it solves in some cases.

Let’s have a look at how you can decide if guest checkout is a good fit for your store, based on a few important criteria like order frequency, the possibility of reorders, and the overall benefit of customer accounts.

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12 ways to show kindness to your customers with WooCommerce

September 21, 2015 - 14 Comments

Kindness is a wonderful and powerful thing. It’s also sometimes completely unexpected in online stores, where the shopping experience is so often reduced to “is it in stock?” and “how quickly can I get it?”

Your customers’ wants and needs are complex, however. In the long run, far more matters to them than finding the store with the fastest shipping. Loyalty isn’t just inspired by efficiency and price — it can be dramatically influenced by how well you treat the people who shop with you.

Today, we’ve compiled 12 unique ways you can show kindness to your customers with your WooCommerce store. From being more flexible to staying connected to doing small, simple things that will put a smile on your face, these are methods that will give you the power to fulfill the greatest unspoken need of your customers:

Don’t forget, a person’s greatest emotional need is to feel appreciated. — H. Jackson Brown Jr.

Read on to learn about all the ways you can show a little more kindness, and the WooCommerce extensions you can use to make this possible.

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Consider these 7 things when setting up shipments

July 30, 2015 - 13 Comments

You started your eCommerce business and it’s taken off. Products are selling and customers need to receive it all. How are you getting everything from point A to point B?

Shipping can get frustrating fast. But it doesn’t have to be a stressful experience. Having worked with thousands of store owners like yourself, we’ve seen the pitfalls both new and experienced businesses make when it comes to shipping.

We’ve collected the top seven things you need to give love and attention to when you’re getting started with shipping to save you time, money, energy, and stress. Read on to find out what they are!

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The most important features of an eCommerce platform

June 8, 2015 - 4 Comments

So you want to start an eCommerce business. You may be feeling a mixture of emotions at this point: excitement, apprehension, impatience… and confusion.

The first few decisions that new store owners make are crucial: what to name their new business, where to host their store, and so on. One such decision — and one of the most confusing — is which eCommerce platform should power their store.

With so many platforms to choose from, and countless features and functions available, the sheer number of choices is bound to get overwhelming. It’s also sometimes hard to tell whether or not the platform you’re looking at can offer you the functionality you want, or if it will properly scale or even be cost-effective as your store grows.

Today, we’re going to look at some of the most important features an eCommerce platform should have. This list will help you evaluate the platforms you’re considering along with common business goals, and help you decide whether or not it offers what you need to get started and grow your business.

Let’s get started by talking about how you can first find eCommerce platforms, and evaluate them using the criteria we’ll establish here.

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The store owner’s practical guide to being search engine friendly

May 29, 2015 - 4 Comments

There are hundreds of guides out there on the topic of search engine optimization. And they all promise one thing: with their help, you’ll rank better and sell more.

The problem is, as a store owner, you only have so many hours in your day. You’ve got enough to worry about without throwing SEO into the mix. Guides that recommend investing your valuable time into copywriting, on-page optimization, link building, or content creation seem practical enough… but only if you can grow an extra set of arms.

Rather than invest all your time and effort into additional forms of optimization — some of which may not even be practical for your niche or current growth stage — it’s best to shift your mindset to simply being search engine friendly at all times. By establishing basic SEO groundwork up front you can drastically cut down on the amount of time you need to spend on future optimization.

By following this guide, you can be confident that your store is always optimized for search because it meets Google’s basic best practices. Let’s take a look at how you can get started with practical SEO.

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How to motivate customers to share your products

May 7, 2015 - 8 Comments

If you have social media buttons on your product pages, you probably added them because you wanted your products to be shared more frequently on networks like Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest. You know that more shares = more publicity, and more publicity = more new customers making purchases.

However, increasing those valuable shares isn’t always as easy as sticking a few buttons on your store and calling it a day. Your customers need motivation to share your products, and it’s up to you to give it to them.

There are a few methods you can use to motivate a customer to spread the good word about your brand before, during, and after their purchase. Let’s take a look at some ways that you can boost shares of your products on social media and attract even more shoppers.

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How to Successfully Sell with Social Proof

April 14, 2015 - 1 Comment

Social proof means that potential readers, customers, or followers will make a decision based on a larger group’s previous decisionsFast Company states that you can narrow down the topic to five different types of social proof:

  1. Wisdom from your friends
  2. Wisdom from large crowds
  3. User social proof
  4. Social proof from famous people
  5. Social proof from a credible expert

Through the careful use of these different types of social proof, you can reach more potential customers, sell more products online and improve your retention rates.

Let’s take a look at some ways you can use social proof to sell more, along with a few tips for finding the right type of social proof to use for your company.

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5 Ways to Gain Free Press Coverage for Your Online Store

April 9, 2015 - 2 Comments

Finding Free Press Coverage for Your Online Store

A little bit of press coverage can boost your sales within a few hours, but keep in mind that you can’t build a business based on press coverage alone. If you ever watch Shark Tank, you’ll sometimes see how Mark Cuban tears apart entrepreneurs who spend thousands of dollars on publicity and press coverage.

Why is this the case? It’s because a business that plans on striking it rich with press coverage is one that doesn’t have a clear plan on how to gain customers. Or perhaps the product isn’t that scalable. The list of potential problems continues.

Regardless, press coverage is still a nice thing for a business, but you can’t focus your entire marketing strategy around it. That’s why finding free, or low-priced, press coverage is the ideal route.

With that said, let’s have a look at how you can find free press coverage for your online store.

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Understanding Bounce Rate (And How to Keep it Down)

January 8, 2015 - 7 Comments

The bounce rate. You see this stat in Google Analytics, but what exactly does it mean? Well, it’s quite simple actually. It’s the percentage of people that come to your site and then navigate away from it after viewing only one page.

Every single time a visitor does this it increases your bounce rate, in turn affecting your search engine rankings a little bit. High bounce rates are bad, but you must understand that every industry has its own average benchmark for bounce rates, so sometimes comparing to other companies is not always the best thing.

Go Rocket Fuel explains that bounce rates have an even deeper meaning where they include all single interactions such as transactions and single events such as clicks. They explain that the average bounce rate usually sits somewhere in between 26 and 70 percent, but this is a rather large range, so what should you shoot for?

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The 6 Best Free Tools for Building eCommerce Landing Pages

January 7, 2015 - 9 Comments

It’s essential that your website has a strong landing page for each goal action that you want your visitors to take. However, that can quickly get expensive…

…if you go with the immediately available options, that is. With a little inventiveness and some research, you can find plenty of ways to build one for free.

Today, I’ve done some of that research for you. Here are some tools that you can use to design, build, and track a perfectly competent landing page with no money out of your pocket.

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How to Build a Brand Image That Pulls Customers to Your Online Store

January 2, 2015 - 3 Comments

I’m going to name a few design elements. Tell me what companies come to mind.

  • A red and white color scheme.
  • A smiley face.
  • Two black circles overlapping a larger black circle.
  • Product names beginning with the letter “i.”

I’m willing to bet that you can figure out at least two well-known brands from those elements alone.

It’s no coincidence that the biggest, most influential companies often have the most iconic brands. That’s the reason why branding is universally considered one of the most important parts of running a business, and why people who can create iconic brands are often the biggest influencers in the business world.

Your brand is comprised of a story and an image, so before we get into the “image” part, we really recommend this post we’ve previously done on how to write the story. Your brand image is directly tied to your brand story, in fact, you could say it’s a visual complement to it, and it’s very important that you have one worked out if you’re going to work on the other.

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How to Drive Customers to Engage with Your eCommerce Blog

December 31, 2014 - 1 Comment

customer-blog-engagementSometimes, it seems like there are more blogs out there than readers.

This has gotten to be even more of a problem with the rise of community content sites like Tumblr and Reddit that give blog readers one-stop shops for information on specialty topics that interest them.

Only a small percentage of blogs have a regular readership. The high rates of abandonment among new bloggers is part of the reason why, but a much larger part is that too many of them are taking Field of Dreams literally and assuming that simply writing quality content will magically draw viewers.

So, if building it doesn’t ensure they’ll come, what will?

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SEO Beyond the Basics: An Introduction to the Technical Side

December 30, 2014 - 5 Comments

SEO Beyond the BasicsWe’ve all heard about SEO basics, but what about those areas that require you to have just a little bit of technical knowledge?

This is what we call technical SEO. Yes the term is quite technical, I know. In short, it’s less about focusing on keyword optimization and more about understanding how search engines work to index your site. It’s less about ensuring your images are ready for the search engines and more about things like rich snippets, sitemaps, and URL structure.

But, wait a second. If it’s so technical, why is it so common for people to implement these tips on their sites? Well, the good news is that it’s not all that technical. Everyone has a chance to use these tips, and plenty of companies are going out of their way to work on these SEO tactics. The only thing is that many people don’t want to take the time to learn about these slightly more technical SEO topics, creating a huge advantage for you.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the more technical areas of SEO and how to implement these tips on your own online store.

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How to Promote a Service E-Commerce Business

December 23, 2014 - 2 Comments

promote-service-ecommerceFor the purposes of this article, there are three categories of online service business:

  1. Businesses offering services that can only be delivered within a certain range (e.g. startup ISPs)
  2. Businesses offering services where distance isn’t a factor (e.g. freelance coders)
  3. Businesses that offer both types of services (e.g. design firms)

This article focuses mostly on the first type, but there’s some advice in here for everyone.

For example, no matter what type of service you offer, the first step to marketing it is to identify your target audience as precisely as possible, whether it’s through a buyer profile or just careful analysis of your analytics data. This will dictate where you should be looking for them and what methods work best to find them.

The second step is to register your business with Google Places. Yahoo Local and Bing will also help. Why? That brings us to our first step…

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How To Complement Your Online Store With a Powerful Social Media Strategy

December 22, 2014 - 3 Comments

Social Media StrategyCustomers have more opportunities than ever to engage with stores they love, and you’d do well encouraging your customers to take full advantage of all the opportunities they have to talk to you.

However, most retail stores are missing the boat when it comes to connecting online shoppers with offline information. They display their locations and hours on their websites, but less than 4 out of 10 provide information on their products and services on social media.

It’s a shame, since the e-store owners who do effectively use social networking have found that it is a very efficient way of discovering what their customers want. They also enjoy more control over their businesses’ reputations, as they can respond to complaints and controversies instantly.

So today, we’ll show you how to leave the first category and enter the second.

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Top 10 Things You Need to Do to Have a Successful eCommerce Holiday Season

December 8, 2014 - 5 Comments

Consumers spend around $52 billion on holiday shopping, and 90 percent of people will complete at least some of their shopping online. Those are some huge numbers, potentially bringing holiday cheer for all eCommerce website owners and businesses that are preparing for that holiday rush.

In short, the holidays are a good curse. As an eCommerce business you are pushed to your limit and have to prepare like no other time throughout the year. And mistakes do occur. Websites slow down, and customers get frustrated when the slightest mishap strikes during their shopping experience.

You can’t really blame them either, since the holidays are stressful and they just want to get their shopping done—until next year, of course.

There are two types of eCommerce sites during the holiday season: Those that are prepared and those that are unprepared. Your preparation creates your fate as to whether or not that eggnog goes down well. With that in mind, let’s take a look at the top 10 things you need to do to have a successful eCommerce holiday season.

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