Marketing, marketing, marketing.
If you’re weary of hearing the term, let alone employing it in your ecommerce business, you’re not alone. It feels like a never-ending, energy-sucking pursuit. You know it’s essential, but with the vast expanse and reach of the internet and its mind-numbing competitive obstacles, it ought to be ranked among your highest of priorities.
Developers and app geniuses know this. They’ve responded to the call, rolling out a wide array of tools to assist you along the way.
Unlike advertising, marketing requires an ability to gauge your most promising audience. Real-time features of online tracking, analytics, and other tailored options that help avoid wasting too much time, are in reach. One relative newcomer is Traffic Jet, a release by SEMrush, a digital marketing firm devoted to streamlining successful marketing campaigns.
A recent study shows that more than half of all marketers indicate machine learning is speeding up their day-to-day work a bit, while just under one-third said it does so a lot. Traffic Jet, with its Artificial Intelligence (AI) process, is likely to make those numbers grow among fledgling, growing businesses.
Traffic Jet allows full automation of your traffic acquisition, or new traffic flow, offering easy access to quick numbers. Those are all words you like to hear, so read on.
Seasoned ecommerce merchants likely have studied up on the various legal aspects and regulations related to the collection of consumer information, financial and otherwise. There are laws in place, both in the United States Code and in individual state statutes, with rather harsh consequences for violators.
Others of you who are small-time sellers might have given a thought to this issue, but not taken the time or effort to determine whether you are in compliance. That’s a big mistake.
Data protection is shaping up to be one of the most pressing factors of online activity in the 21st Century. Even with the advanced efforts from private entities developing new technologies as quickly as they can, it all goes awry when cracks form and bad actors create new and different reasons for these same virtual guardians to patch a new hole.
Online merchants face complicated, unusual challenges due to the lack of visibility and control over external services administering their websites, including the type and volume of data that is being collected. Even if you believe you have an agreement with a third-party, that doesn’t mean it isn’t farming out some of its duties to a fourth party with no such contractual relationship.
Ask any executive or analyst in a given sector of commerce, and you’ll hear the same answer with respect to fraud. It’s one of the most nefarious and damaging elements poised to put a dent in both revenues, trust, and even security.
With ecommerce merchants, fraud has found a ripe target given its virtual presence requiring online payments and strictly virtual interactions with customers. Fraudulent activity—both attempted and failed, and successful—has skyrocket in the last few years, hitting large ecommerce retailers the hardest, with a $10 million annual revenue loss. Mid-size merchants averaged 249 fraud attempts per month in 2018, and are on track to far exceed that as the platform grows and bad actors proliferate.
What can you do? No matter how grand or minimal your business is, you can track both payment and channel fraud. Fraud detection solutions are available for both no-cost and minimal-cost investments. Entities that specialize in online commerce fraud can assess your unique risks and advise you on how to minimize them.
If it seems as if the entire world has changed, it has. We know this. Nary a region, city, continent on Planet Earth has escaped the ravaging effects of Covid-19, now a global pandemic that has severely shifted commerce, labor, and everyday living in a social distancing environment.
As commerce is the backbone of all free societies, this is a startling fact. Here’s a jaw-dropping statistic: Global Web Index found that 80 percent of consumers in the US and UK have increased their online purchasing in the wake of this pandemic. A sudden emphasis toward ecommerce is opening up markets that in the past were strictly in-person, and padding revenues for existing online sellers. It’s critical to closely examine your business model to make the best of a dire situation. With the right information, tools, attitude, and devotion, you may get through this unprecedented time.
The most essential factor here is understanding consumer behaviors in the wake of closed storefronts and empty grocery shelves. How are average citizens choosing to replenish basic supplies? How are they spending mostly limited dollars on “luxury” goods, which were not so luxurious just three months ago?
Commerce crashes are hitting virtually every sector of the economy and society. From entertainment to education, new purchases have all but disappeared. And in the runup to a real recession, many consumers are finding themselves out of work and unable to meet their current financial obligations for basics like utility bills, rent, and credit card payments.
But not all. Some are positioned to ride out this storm with a modicum of buying power. Can you take advantage of that? Take a look at some digital marketing trends that are helping businesses stay afloat, taking advantage of the nearly captive audience of consumers stuck at home with only the internet as a source of information. It’s also their source of purchasing.
Creating a strong social media presence has never been easier or more effective.
More and more people are flocking to various social media platforms to connect and share with loved ones. Whether it’s scrolling through a Facebook group or sharing the perfect vacation selfie on Instagram, it’s hard to imagine a world without social media at the forefront.
With billions of users who spend, on average, three hours a day on social media, businesses have a stronger opportunity than ever to target their message to those who are eager to hear it. But with social media trends constantly changing, and so many different marketing options out there, staying on top of the most effective strategies and putting them into practice can be a full time job in and of itself.
Who has time for that when you have a business to run?
Luckily, there are a wide variety of wonderful tools that take the guesswork out of social media marketing while saving precious time. And who doesn’t need more of that?
Let’s look at a few important strategies for any business to thrive, and the social media marketing tools that can help do just that.
Best for Lead Generation - Audiense
Audiense offers a convenient array of tools to help you not only identify your audience, but to zero in on smaller segments within that audience to target your message accordingly. It gives you insights into their personalities and buying habits to help you communicate more effectively. And it provides reports and data to back it all up, making customer engagement a breeze.
Best for Analytics - Facebook Analytics
Facebook continues to dominate as the leading social media platform. Over two-thirds of American adults reported using it in 2019. When it comes to marketing, Facebook Analytics gives you all the tools and statistics you need to analyze what works and what doesn’t. It offers in-depth reporting on the customer process from beginning to end, showing you when, where, and how people are interacting with your content.
Best for Content Creation - Tagboard
Tagboard allows you to search for topics, keywords, and hashtags so you can see what’s trending and what your audience is paying attention to. You can use that information to share popular stories or create fresh, new content based on the things your customers care about. Focusing on what people are actually reading about, rather than just guessing, will help keep your business relevant and get your content more views, likes, and shares.
Best for Chatbots - MobileMonkey
Chatbots help deliver a smooth customer experience by interacting and answering their questions in real-time. MobileMonkey is a free service that makes it easy to set up a chatbot and talk to your customers on messaging apps they’re already using, like SMS and Facebook messenger. To make things even simpler, it allows you to type out your chat content once, then use it across different platforms.
Best for Graphics - Canva
You don’t need to be a professional web designer to create eye-catching graphics that will draw attention to your brand. With an attractive array of pre-made layouts to choose from, Canva makes it easy to do just that. From logos to flyers to educational infographics, there’s an option to help every part of your marketing campaign stand out. And with both free and paid services, they make it accessible for every budget.
As our economy is ravaged by uncertainty as a result of the global coronavirus pandemic, it can be easy to find ourselves in a downward spiral of doom and gloom. From hotels to fitness centers to restaurants and more, industries across the spectrum are bracing themselves for unprecedented changes that no one can quite yet predict.
It’s vital to the health of our businesses - and ourselves - to look for opportunities and silver linings. Ecommerce business owners are in a unique position to leverage new opportunities and stay afloat in a rapidly changing marketplace. In an age of social distancing and sheltering in place, online shopping offers a sense of safety, comfort, and peace of mind.
Our customers need us now more than ever. If there were ever a time to get creative, this is it.
And what better place to adapt to our new reality than social media?
Even in the best of times, social commerce is an excellent way for ecommerce stores to make themselves visible to their target audience. And in the absence of face-to-face connection, more and more people are flocking to social media to virtually connect with friends and loved ones.
Here are three reasons to consider using social commerce to amplify your social media presence during these trying times.
Grow your audience. With more eyes on social media platforms, more eyes will be naturally drawn to the content and products you share.
Life has slowed down for most of us, and people have more time on their hands. Focus on catching their attention, rack up the likes and shares, and you just may find yourself connecting with people like never before.
An added bonus: From tweets to Facebook pages to Instagram business accounts, most platforms make it easy to track these metrics and tweak your message accordingly.
Create customer loyalty. The state of the economy is affecting us all. People are clutching their purse strings tightly, and understandably so. No matter how enticing an ad may look, even the most eager customers may be focusing on more pressing essentials.
Even though sales may be sluggish, social commerce lets businesses connect with people in a myriad of other unique ways. You could focus on offering entertaining, thought-provoking content, or you could focus on communicating and building rapport. Whichever strategy you choose, now is the time to make a mark on people’s minds so they’ll remember you when they’re ready to buy.
Become a beacon of hope. Simply put, people are terrified. They’re afraid for their families and their finances.
Engaging with customers with social commerce offers business owners a special opportunity to be a calming, soothing presence for people amidst all the chaos and uncertainty.
We - our customers, our suppliers, our businesses, and ourselves - are all in this together. A common thread connects us all.
You and your customers can help each other through this. Communicate this to them.
Whether it’s promoting your work with local charities, providing easier access to comforting essentials, or simply offering some reassurance, people will remember the businesses who helped them through these unprecedented times.
These will be the businesses who weather the storm.
For seasoned ecommerce sellers, those struggling through their first year, or even newbies, the decision on how and where to peddle your goods is critical. Everyone is familiar with the colossal platforms Amazon and eBay, Shopify, and more. They offer a vast audience full of potential customers. They also offer an almost insurmountable level of competition.
You aren’t stuck with them. Using good research skills, you can pinpoint an alternative market. We have some tips for exploring product-specific markets, or those that are best suited to your business.
The importance of choosing the right platform relates to the reason they exist in the first place. Ecommerce stores allow you to collectively manage products, offer promotions and sales, personalize the sales and service experience, and access analytics to see what is and is not working. Completely customizable, the best of these facilitate personalized content. In short, you can create a brand for yourself without investing in and counting on a solo website.
Surprise! Count yourself as one of millions of ecommerce merchants who likely never anticipated the type of global disruption facing virtually every individual and every entity today. By now you and everyone you know is operating in crisis mode both personally and professionally. Your business may be your first priority, and the news there is mixed.
Since the COVID-19 virus took hold overseas, eventually making its way to the US, economic impacts have been devastating. The financial markets tumbled. Tourism is in near-halt mode. And those who sell goods and services are in a veritable desert; a Catch-22 scenario of either lacking customers or a supply chain to meet customer needs.
The struggle is real, and despite criticism of unnecessary panic, an all-out shift in operations is no longer just a possibility. Running an online store during this cross-continental crisis demands creativity to mitigate inventory shortages, shipping uncertainties, and uncomfortable customer communications. Industry analyst Bruce Biegel notes that this is the first genuine global crisis experienced in high volume by the ecommerce sector.
Amazon sellers are all too familiar. That company, in a panic over how to fill orders safely, has placed a temporary moratorium on third-party vendors. No word on when or if that will lift in the near future.
Even giants like Microsoft and Apple Computer are sounding the alarm about significant sales drops, with Apple recently deciding to temporarily close all retail locations outside of China.
The constant stream of comparisons and differences between brick-and-mortar retail establishments and online stores may become trite over time, as more and more commercial activity unfolds in cyberspace. There are definite overlaps that call for the same basic principles, but as the internet becomes more sophisticated, and more buyers navigate there to make purchases, the differences are starker than ever.
Marketing analytics is a function made simpler for those who operate online, by sole virtue of the complex, computerized system you already have in place. Tracking sales, customers, inventory, and just about everything else is somewhat automatic. In most cases it’s not necessary to actually ask a customer how they stumbled onto your store. Identifying strategies and efforts that are paying off is also much easier when your shortcut to analysis is effectively done for you.
But that doesn’t mean it requires no efforts. Putting in place an accurate, useful, and – more important – tailored process for tracking these markers demands a plan; it necessitates putting a sensible marketing analysis strategy in place.
If you have woven Facebook into the menu of social media platforms you use to engage existing customers and attract new ones, you’ve noticed their somewhat annoying trend of endless alterations to both policy and offerings. The Mother of All social media networks, Facebook is, for all intents and purposes, a social media monopoly. That won’t be changing any time soon.
No one feels sorry for them, but it’s fair to acknowledge that Facebook executives who need to continually balance the need for revenues while keeping users happy face their share of challenges. And for an online platform that is now regulated by Federal and state entities because of its heavy volume of political content, it creates an ongoing need to shift gears.
In 2011, Facebook started forwarding only critical notifications through email, so as to cut down on high-volume inbox flooding. Photo tags, security, payment, and privacy notifications made the cut. Business owners who are accustomed to a high volume of email communications, but not having to access Facebook several times per day, will have made that adjustment.
Now there’s a new revision that business users need to be aware of. Beginning March 4, 2020, access to supported “Message Tags” after the standard 24-hour window (following the last customer contact) whittled down from 17 supported tags to three, plus an additional tag in beta. Message Tags facilitate one-to-one interactions with customers, including updates, customer service questions, promotions, and pretty much anything relative to your customer relationship.
With that pathway narrowing, it’s critical to build in adjustments that will maintain your presence on Facebook and keep you in good standing with the platform. In order to bypass the allowed 24-hour period, you must use these remaining tags with your messaging.