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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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When Upselling Hurts: How Too Much Cross-Promotion Can Kill Conversions

December 3, 2014 - 1 Comment

First of all, don’t get me wrong: cross-selling and upselling, employed in moderation, are extremely useful. As you may know, it’s six to seven times easier, and cheaper, to sell more to an existing customer than to hook in a new one.

But it’s crucial that it be done right.

For example, most eCommerce retailers believe that product recommendations will always increase the number of sales and the profits from them. But that’s not always true. According to an e-tailing group merchant survey, 6 out of 10 retailers don’t actually know how recommendations affect their business. It goes without saying that relatively few retailers are testing and optimizing their performance, as well.

The truth is that product recommendations’ performance depends on how and when you display them. And not everyone gets this right. Cross-selling and upselling are the bane of many customers just because they’re so often done poorly, with the focus put on the business’s aim of selling extra stuff instead of the customer’s aim of making sure the extra stuff will actually benefit them.

Here are some ways that tends to happen and how to avoid them, to boot.

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How to Create a High-Converting Email Opt-in Form

December 2, 2014 - 1 Comment

Not everyone who looks at your site will buy something the first time. In fact, 98.5% won’t. However, most people who visit your site without a reason to come back probably won’t do that either.

How do you remind them, then? Well, you could get them to like your Facebook page, but the chances they’ll see any particular status update are negligibly small. You could use an RSS feed, but they’re not that effective, either. Yes, even after twenty years of development in technology, the most effective way is still good old email.

That’s why, in order to retain a significant number of customers, you need to get their email addresses. The form that viewers input their email into is called, straightforwardly enough, the opt-in form.

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6 Tips To Improve eCommerce Customer Retention

November 28, 2014 - 2 Comments

It’s always been cheaper to get your previous customers to make additional purchases than it is to find new customers. This is especially true in eCommerce, where there are more and more sites competing for a finite number of internet users.

Customer profits also tend to increase the longer a customer spends shopping with you. However, retaining customers is also one of the most difficult jobs for an online store owner, so in order to tackle it, let’s look at it from a few angles.

Let’s start with why customers leave.

68% of customers go because they’re unhappy with the customer service. Compared to that, the rest of the reasons seem minuscule with 14% finding the products unsatisfactory and 9% finding a better deal from a competitor. So naturally, the first step would be to…

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6 Ways to Streamline Your Online Store’s Checkout Process

November 26, 2014 - 6 Comments

One of the main reasons people shop online in the first place is convenience, so it only makes sense to grease your online store’s wheels as much as possible.

Your efforts should be focused on your checkout, because that’s the make-or-break section of the buying process. Once the customer has decided that they want to give you their money, your job is to get them through it as quickly as possible, with a minimum amount of pauses that might give them time to reconsider that decision.

The fewer clicks it takes for a visitor to complete a purchase, the better, so here are some ways to start shaving them off.

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How to Find an Audience for Your Online Specialty Store

November 24, 2014 - 1 Comment

online-specialty-storeIf you’re trying to start a new online store, or make over a floundering one, it’s a good idea to find a niche. If you have a niche, you need to know how to market to it.

Most of the ways to market a specialty store online are the same ways you’d market any other one, but applied differently. In short, there’s more of a focus on marketing aggressively to a relatively small community, mostly made up of enthusiasts who can’t find their favorite variety of widget at any other stores.

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10 Design Elements to Avoid for a Professional-Looking Site

November 11, 2014 - 3 Comments

Most online store design rules are common sense, e.g. no music players unless you’re selling music. I think we’ve all got a handle on that one – it’s been a long time since I’ve seen anyone break it.

There are others that should be common sense, too, but some people still don’t follow them. Like the one that says you need to double-check your spelling, because if you can’t get their/there/they’re down, no one’s going to trust you with their credit card information. But those are still simple enough that we don’t need to spell them out again (and again).

The ones we’re interested in are the ones that aren’t intuitive, or that many online businesspeople – especially the newer ones – might not have even realized they’re breaking.

So if your e-store includes any of the following items, remove them immediately. They’re giving your viewers eyestrain, killing your conversion rate, and hurting your attempts to be taken seriously.

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How to Optimize the Mobile Checkout Experience On Your E-Commerce Site

November 4, 2014 - Leave a comment

Optimizing Mobile CheckoutPhablets aside, the average smartphone user will be viewing your site on a screen not much bigger than the standard business card. And when they enter their information, the pop-up keyboard will suddenly eat half of that space. If they turn the phone sideways, that will turn into 7 or 8 tenths.

Shopping in such a small area can certainly be a strange experience, but with some work on your end, you can minimize the inconvenience for your customers. Here are some tips for accomplishing just that:

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How to Generate Sustained Traffic To Your Online Store Without SEO

November 2, 2014 - 2 Comments

seo-site-visitorAs you’re probably aware, over-reliance on one source of traffic can be fatal for a marketing strategy. Google proved this when they implemented the Panda and Penguin updates that ended the eras of “keyword-rich” content mill garbage and threw out a lot of people from the search results who were gaming the system.

Plus, SEO takes up a ton of time and resources that you might be able to put into even more effective methods of drawing traffic. If you don’t have the time and money to build more backlinks and generate more content than your competitors, chances are, you’re not going to pull in the biggest and baddest keywords, anyway.

So let’s explore some other ways to go about it. This article will focus both on how to pull in initial traffic and how to get people to return once they’ve had the first taste of your site.

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Why You Should A/B Test Your Online Store’s Navigation Menus

October 29, 2014 - Leave a comment

ab-test-store-navigationWhen you’re building an online store, you should never settle for just one web design. Instead, you can keep improving appearance just like you’d strive to keep improving products and services.

One way to do this is to continually make incremental changes that improve your design and the most effective way to do this is through A/B testing.

Most online marketers know the importance of A/B testing but today we’re going to talk about how it can be applied to the navigation menu, extremely important in directing the flow of traffic where you want it to go and well worth testing as meticulously as you would any other page.

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How to Use Customer Purchase Behavior to Your Advantage

October 23, 2014 - 2 Comments

customer-purchase-behaviorThis is a tough subject to cover. There are as many ways to use customer purchase behavior as there are customers and potential customers, and as many customers and potential customers as there are people.

Figuring out buyer behavior in general is a huge task. First, you have to draw a difference between universal buyer behavior and any buyer behaviors that may be unique to your field, or even your site. We’ll talk about both in this article. Next, you need to know how different types of customers buy, so when you begin to research your customer base, break it into manageable segments and start by researching a single demographic.

Most of this stuff isn’t exclusive to this topic, by the way. As you’ve probably noticed, marketing as a whole is entirely based in psychology. The whole process is all about manipulating buyer behavior, and using existing trends in it to your advantage. So knowing this information might just help you in all your marketing efforts from now on.

So, let’s start with the most general form of it: The buying process.

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Is Your Marketing Copy Working to Sell Your Products?

October 22, 2014 - 2 Comments

Here on the internet, words and pictures are all you have to sell your product. So your writing is the backbone of your marketing efforts.

However, plenty of people still have misconceptions about it. Despite what many people believe, copywriting is not bragging, it’s not trying to force your product on the customer, and it’s not all about keywords anymore. In fact, it never was.

But enough on how not to write effective copy. Here’s how to do it. Start by asking yourself these four questions:

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