It’s not every day you read a blog post that promotes other blog posts. In the growing sector of ecommerce, the novelty factor is still in play, and merchants can use all the help they can get. Trading ideas may be a boon for both parties, as small fish rely on big fish, and big fish discover trending new product lines, marketing strategies, and fresh ideas from the relative minnows.
Some of the best and most useful ecommerce-related blogs both sharpen the focus of online selling and invite an expansion of old ideas. They recount what works and what’s been more duplicitous or unwieldy. They draw readers out of a place of isolation faced by many who move from in-person operations to digital selling.
Here are some of our favorite blogs that explore comprehensive facets of online merchandising, in no particular order:
Ecommerce Nation Blog
Geared to a global audience, this site delivers news, tips, interviews with industry movers and shakers, and an assortment of creative topics.
Greeted by a sweet little basenji, your first experience with Nosto’s current post goes beyond the dog-eat-dog world and ferrets out the reimbursement element of commerce. Though nearly a year old, its most interesting entry addresses multi-currency as a solution to cross-border selling. Finance-related concerns rarely age, and on Nosto you’ll find a menu of useful topics laid out in a nice interface.
True to its name, ECF dazzles with an array of news and information relevant to both small and big businesses. From advice on customer loyalty programs to personal wellness for the ecommerce merchant, and from unconventional email campaign strategies to cathartic humor, this site makes it fun to devote your energy to online selling.
Don’t be fooled by a title – Big Commerce is just as useful for the little guy. With a bevy of tips from veteran online merchants, this blog offers incentives for experimenting with both proprietary and unconventional ways to conduct business from start to finish. Its clean layout is easy to navigate; its content is inspiring enough to peruse for extended periods of time. Many like sites add tips on the best ecommerce business ideas, but BigCommerce follows through with numerous examples sourced from outside their domain.
Volusion’s blog, “The Ecommerce Authority,” is a veritable treasure chest of information and tips. With Black Friday around the corner, its multiple posts related to holiday sales makes it a worthy read. Add pieces on personal merchant stories, web page optimization, rating payment platforms, and running SEO tests, and you have a blog source you will want to bookmark.
Last week we introduced the topic of inbound marketing, a new approach to integrating the lifestyle aspect of potential and existing customers with meaningful content that can lead to a longstanding commercial relationship. For ecommerce merchants, inbound marketing holds enormous promise.
But it’s not as simple as its reverse strategy of outbound marketing. Sending emails, buying pop-up ads, and initiating contact at your chosen pace is waning as an effective way to win customers. Learning to work your marketing into the increasing online engagement of buyers takes patience, insight, a bit of technical know-how, and a sincere desire to improve the lives and livelihoods of everyone.
For newer sellers who may feel out of their league, here are some tips on how to make inbound marketing work for you.
Confused as you may be by the litany of jingo surrounding Everything Internet, there’s a term you will want to embrace: Inbound Marketing.
The “inbound” modifier sets forth an important distinction between the conventional idea of marketing employed by businesses for decades. It refers to a trending 21st Century concept of capturing both the lifestyle factor and the online engagement of customers and potential customers. “Outbound marketing” involves pop-up ads, direct-sales emailing, and anything produced as a proactive attempt to sell your brand or product.
With the proliferation of information made possible by online commerce, and the evolving comfort level of humans warming up to an increasing amount of time spent online, marketing strategies in current times demand more creative adaptations. Inbound marketing seeks to make your brand part of a consumer’s life, avoiding the tendency to disrupt their focus with unsolicited communications.
Analysts call this “interruptive marketing,” citing dismal results as consumers already inundated with an overflow of stimuli are more inclined to seek out their own personalized content that will lead to buying decisions. The advent of mass interruptive advertising and marketing has led to a greater demand for technology that blocks such content, and that demand has been mostly fulfilled.
Currently about one-quarter of web crawling prospective clients employ ad-blocking software. This is a disaster for any business still clinging to proactive, interruptive advertising. Worse, the traditional display ad on digital media shows a click-through rate of less than 1 percent among those who do not block ads.
Just over two decades ago an entrepreneur near Seattle embraced the idea of using business owners to help pad the success of another business. He called it “friendship marketing,” and wrote extensively on it as a way to generate leads and brand familiarity.
That was in the pre-eCommerce days. The field now is far wider; the competition much stiffer. But the ideology remains, and it’s now known as “affiliate marketing.” Though not quite as personal, it’s a way to piggyback off of successful businesses to both generate and divert sales. For the most part, it involves allowing other businesses targeting the same audience to receive commissions from their willingness to refer out to you. Sounds simple.
It’s a bit more complex, but the possibilities are plentiful. The obvious big-time affiliates range from Shopify to Amazon Associates; from Ebay Partner Network to Coinbase; and from ClickFunnels Affiliates to Wayfair Affiliate Program. Each offers a varied payout structure and a different set of unique benefits. On the low end, commissions may amount to 5 percent of each sale. That said, individual arrangements may spice up the deal with kickbacks as high as 50 percent. Your mileage will vary.
For newer or smaller online sellers, it’s a way to get established as you are building what hopefully will be a thriving business, and earn revenues in the process.
It may sound counterintuitive to send business away, but consider this: if someone is already signed on to you as a seller, they will buy a product from you unless you don’t carry it. This is where affiliate marketing referrals kick in, earning you a slice of the pie.
Meet Shoploop, Google’s latest toe-dip into creative digital selling. It’s been called everything from a “Tik Tok for shopping,” to a new version of an old idea, to the next hottest thing in the future of online buying. Some even liken it (for better or worse) to telemarketing for ecommerce.
Somewhere in the middle may work. It goes without saying that the younger generation of consumers is already fully on board with video. They’ve cut their teeth on it, be it through large-screen gaming to Instagram feeds. That captive audience is fruitful, but older shoppers are also taking to the medium in large numbers. The upshot is an intriguing way to personalize and expand your marketing.
The Google surge to dominate online buying explores the spiking reliance on video to entertain and inform, turning the tables and using it as an ingenious way to offer detailed visual and audio product information. Shoploop is under the Google “Area 120” umbrella, which explores ways to expand its reach into ecommerce. Unlike close competitors and platforms, its video services come grouped, eliminating the need for multiple apps.
At rollout, its focus is on the obvious sectors such as clothing, cosmetics, and skin care. Expansions are inevitable as the trend catches on.
Every ecommerce vendor has a fantasy of standing out among the competition. And why not? Name recognition gains new customers and retains current customers, if you play your cards right. The way to rise above the crowd comes down to the ability to provide excellent products and service or services. It also comes down to a concept known by entities for a very long time: branding.
Brand Management involves personalizing your business with an aspect of familiarity that makes you recognizable, attractive, approachable. Marketing experts call it a way to translate emotions into behavior on the part of consumers. To get there, you have to do the heavy lifting first.
Consider large companies we all know well. Apple Computer. REI. Microsoft. Nike. IBM. Uber. All of these mega-corporations have packaged customized imaging, slogans, philosophies, and outreach through advertising that requires little attention to know whom it’s coming from.
Branding occurs with a consistent presence through all of your correspondence, advertisements, web page design, and everything connected with your business. When you have it down right, your path is practically obstacle-free. When you don’t, you’re left vying with countless others.
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.
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.
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.
It’s not hyperbolic to proclaim that computers are taking over our communications. Considering smartphones and tablets are effectively mini-computers, it’s safe to say that between emails, texts, and online chatting, the days of verbal interaction are waning.
The development of the “chatbot,” a cute moniker for pop-up screens that allow one-on-one interactions, originated from old-style chatrooms and expanded to take on a more commercial application. If you’re in the biz to sell goods or services, you may find yourself gravitating to that medium in order to provide optimal customer service.
Here’s a figure to knock your socks off: In 2018 there were more than 300,000 active chats on Facebook alone. That social media platform is an ideal venue, but considering this next statistic may be even more shocking. Experts say chatbots will likely handle more than 85 percent of all customer service interactions this year.
Here’s how it works: Your potential or existing customers have a question about a product, or an existing order. A chat icon on your page opens a chat window in which you and the customer may engage in a friendly discussion.