One reason newbies might let items sit in your virtual cart? Reluctance to sign up for an account. We all know building an identified account roster is a win-win for both sellers and consumers, with easy options for a quick checkout, and the ability to target promotions. But not everyone is eager to divulge tracked info including email address, phone number, or even a name, to a vendor that they don’t know well. The answer is to provide a seamless guest checkout system. Offer clear opt-in choices to be “remembered” by your site even in the absence of a formal sign-up. A subtle trick like that can work wonders for skeptical buyers.
Here are other ways to turn abandoned shopping carts into sales:
Photo by James Watson on Unsplash
So, what should ecommerce vendors (and their service providers) be looking at with respect to security? Much of it is out of your hands, but if you entrust a third party to handle payment transactions, you have the right and the obligation to observe best practices. Look at it this way: they are aware of their high burden, and your constant inquiries will keep them on their toes.
Smaller online merchants should build a rigid threshold of in-house and exterior policies and procedures, say cybersecurity experts. Irrespective of compromised customer or internal data, the more down time a small vendor experiences, the greater the hit they take.
So what exactly are the secrets to protecting your data to the best of your ability? How about tighter access control and data security software? Both will vest more confidence and safety in your business. Business News writer Jeremy Bender reminds merchants that the big kids such as top-tier credit reporting agencies have fallen victim to mass data breaches, but they aren’t alone. The idea is to limit who may have a path to reaching your data using UTM (Unified Threat Management). Here’s a useful read on steps to take to protect your treasured business.
Whether you go all in with a deep dive, or just take cursory steps to ensure your security, your first priority is to be prepared for a cyberattack, however unlikely that is. Ransomware – the pernicious method of a nefarious party blackmailing your very access to your own data in exchange for a payoff – is not common among small sellers, but never say never. Develop an incident response plan to be ready for whatever comes. That means keep whatever backup data you can on a separate server. Your customers will love you for this, and your business may experience less costly down time.
It's a New, Scary World.
Your E-Commerce biz can use all the tech tools it can get when it comes to expanding ease and access for your customers. If you’ve visited a website for a store or even a service and been greeted in a separate window by a “chatbot,” you’ll know what we mean. These personal assistants give the perception of a real time pal, and that is impressive. The degree to which each is truly staffed by a human who is able to assist at every level varies by proprietor, and you may find yourself at the low end of that spectrum. But even offering extra information that doesn’t appear on your home page or landing pages will be an exceptional benefit to shoppers.
While major utilities and mega corporations are most likely to avail actual staffers for receiving chatbot requests, don’t immediately dismiss their ability to offer specialized help. A database of inventory can easily translate to a searchable body with which the chatbot suddenly becomes a personal shopper by responding to search criteria. If your customer asks whether you sell faux leather covered ottomans, your search string is fashioned for you, and programming follow-up questions (including style, color, etc.) refines the process.
Analysts estimate that the global chatbot market may reflect almost $4 billion in just over six years, so maybe it’s time to at least familiarize yourself. An engaged response policy may cement a sale in real time, but at very least, highlighting information in a setting that feels comfortable and customized to a shopper is a win-win. Intercom is a perfect place to start with respect to learning more about AI, and finding an appropriate service level in chatbot functionality. Zendesk is an AI provider already to help you explore the technology with a free trial.
The key to an effective chatbot system is to let potential buyers in on its limitations in advance. Make sure they know they may not be interacting with a real person as they type into that window. Tell them the bot is their second-tier personal shopper who can ease the search process.
But if you’re able to tap the real thing, there are also expectations among consumers that you should meet. Long timeouts, inaccurate information, and a failure to reconcile the shopper’s purpose for visiting will probably ensure no further usage. Like a lot of aspects of technology, it’s as good as its feasibility. But play it right and it could be a valuable addition to your team.
Photo by Possessed Photography on Unsplash
Exploring SEO Keywords
Are you attracting the right crowd?
When it comes to creating content and driving consumers to your site, the SEO strategy and keywords you choose are important. But where does one even start?
In this guide, we start with the simplest of SEO keywords and work our way to the more advanced keyword types.
Keywords can be short and generic or long and detailed. A short-tail keyword is often two search keywords that cover a broad topic or product, such as “platform bed.”
However, a short-tail keyword is often not enough to help customers find the precise type of product or item. If you want to include an even longer description, a mid-tail keyword (3-4 words) such as “upholstered platform beds” hones in on the style.
But let’s say you really want customers to find the exact color or style of upholstered platform bed you are selling. Then you can create a long-tail keyword (5-8 words) using more descriptions such as “contemporary” and “black velvet.” Long-tail keywords can also be phrases or questions, such as “how to style a contemporary black platform bed” and so on.
As you might suspect, longer keywords are less competitive because they are a more narrowed down version of a broader, all-encompassing generic keyword or short-tail keyword. This means that your item or content will rank easier, allowing a greater domain authority and for customers to more readily find your products.
Keywords by Role
Let’s talk about keyword roles.
First, you have focus keywords that are essentially the primary keyword or phrase you wish to rank for. Extending on this primary focus keyword are secondary keywords, also known as supporting keywords. Think of secondary keywords like a subtopic related to the focus keyword, creating a phrase related to the main topic.
For example, if your focus keyword is “how to style a bedroom” your secondary keywords might be “how to style a guest bedroom.” Styling a guestroom is a more specific description than just any bedroom. Furthermore, you can create an article focused on styling a bedroom, with additional tips on styling a guest bedroom with an H2 or H3 heading and a paragraph or two.
Semantic keywords play another role in SEO. Like synonyms, semantic keywords can be two focus keywords that mean the same thing, if not at least closely related.
“How to Style a Master Bedroom” and “How to Style a Main Bedroom” are, basically, one in the same. Just different keystrokes for different folks. Some of us use different language to convey a search, so having semantic keywords in place is a good SEO strategy.
Search Intent Keywords
From informational keywords to transactional keywords, search intent plays a huge role in your SEO strategy. Let’s look at several types of search intent-related keywords.
Informational keywords are essentially what someone types in when searching for educational articles and content. Furniture and decor brands will find it fruitful to create articles with educational tips and tricks that build a certain level of trust with their consumer base. And tucked neatly away in these education-based articles are certain informational keywords with long-tail keywords, and so on, that create brand awareness. Think “how to” articles and “what is” searches.
Commercial intent keywords are an important piece of the puzzle too. Commercial intent keywords focus on brand and product reviews, with specific information to help steep consumers into a final purchasing decision. For example, keywords that compare two or more items feature a “vs” and/or “or” search. They might also search keywords like “reviews” and “best.”
Transactional keywords are in place for buyers who already know what they want. They’ve got their wallet out and are ready to hit that purchase button. Transactional keywords can come in the form of “buy” or “shop” and, if looking for a deal, “coupon” or “sale.” A branded keyword is necessary too (more on that below).
Other Targeted KeywordsThere are many more different types of SEO keywords you can target. Here are a few more you should be aware of when you create a content strategy or aim to attract certain buyers and customers.
Market-specific Keywords – These keywords are highly focused on a specific industry or niche. Instead of “bedroom furniture”, your brand might sell specific “Mid-Century Modern bedroom furniture.” Or, in place of “interior lighting” you can hone in on “energy-efficient lighting.”
Branded Keywords – A branded keyword is pretty much what you imagine. It’s the keyword plus the brand. For example, an “Uttermost floor lamp” is more direct and will pull more specific results that buyers are searching for.
Product-related Keywords – These keywords are closely related to branded keywords. They might be the name of a certain style of lamp, such as “torchiere floor lamp.” Yet, they can also be product or collection name specific like “Huxford floor lamp.”
Customer-defining Keywords – This defines who might use the product. For example, “lighting for eco-friendly homes” or “rugs for baby nurseries.” It focuses on the type of customer’s age, gender, job, and other important demographics the item is typically made for.
Location-specific Keywords – As implied, these keywords simply focus on the city, state, country or region. For example, “lighting retailers in Northern California” or “eco-friendly furniture brands in the USA”. Note: Location-specific keywords are not to be confused with navigational keywords, which are simply a website’s navigation and pages (think “Login” or “Contact”).
How to Find All These Different Types of SEO Keywords
Ready to get started on your keyword research?
If you’re interested in basic short-tail and long-tail keywords, simply begin typing in a few words into Google and see what it suggests as it autocompletes your search. You can also use the People Ask and Related searches section to find more topic ideas.
However, that’s a pretty basic method. It helps to also use a keyword research tool like SEMrush and KFinder that will offer more filter options such to help you discover long-tail keywords, low-competition keywords, and keywords based on search intent.
Photo by Firmbee.com on Unsplash
Ecommerce Marketing Mistakes
Here are some of the ecommerce marketing mistakes your brand could be making (without even knowing it):
#1 An Inefficient Website With Bad Mobile Optimization
It’s more important than ever to ensure your website functions seamlessly. Otherwise, customers get distracted or frustrated and move on to the next thing. Having a beautifully designed, professional website that attracts and keeps customers is one of the best ecommerce marketing plans you can have.
When it comes to mobile shopping, this sentiment goes double! Be sure your website has proper mobile optimization.
The user experience of desktop and mobile shopping needs to be attractive, but also a well-oiled machine. From good SEO and product descriptions to excellent customer service, many of the ecommerce marketing mistakes listed below can help you achieve that. However, it starts with hiring the right website builders and integrating the right CMS platform for your business.
#2 Forgetting Lead Capturing
Potential customers might not always make an immediate purchase. That’s why it’s imperative to create a good lead capturing system. A pop-up for email signups (with a tempting discount) is one great way to turn those potential customers into first time buyers. You can also capture leads through chatbots and social media channels.
Leadpages, ActiveCampaign and Getsitecontrol are just some of the powerful lead capturing and lead generation tools you have to work with.
#3 Poor SEO and Product Descriptions
It’s important to have an attractive website. This much is true. However, it’s also critical to have good SEO that draws customers to the website in the first place. An SEO plan using targeted keywords, accurate product descriptions, and well-written copy will help customers find your items with a simple search and give them the unique details of the item.
You can hire someone internally to do so, but it’s more fruitful to hire an agency like Cennos that is already familiar with the proper use of long-tail keywords and in tune with more up-to-date trends and styles so your product descriptions are both search engine optimized, accurate, and appealing.
#4 Ignoring Reviews and Testimonials
With online shopping, having reviews and testimonials is more important than ever. Customers can’t touch and feel in person, so hearing or reading what previous buyers thought of the product is crucial. When building a website, be sure to make room for reviews and testimonials. Customers are more confident to purchase a product if they can read the social proof and what other customers think of it. It offers a level of transparency and boosts conversion rates.
Having social proof on your website is just the first step. It can come in other ways too. Influencers can post their reviews across social media. Remember: It’s about more than a single product review. It’s also about your brand image.
#5 Skipping on a Social Media Strategy
Speaking of using influencers for social proof, let’s discuss the importance of a social media strategy. Promoting items and your brand online is a must in today’s age. If you aren’t taking advantage of social media platforms to engage with customers, you’re really missing a huge piece of the puzzle.
However, it’s wise to come up with a social media strategy. For starters, it helps to know what social apps your target audience prefers. Then, you can create social media ads that show up in their algorithms. Again, this is where hiring a professional can help. Skilled social media strategists can ensure your ads are targeted correctly with the proper keywords, all while following each social platform's strict ad rules and regulations.
#6 Not Focusing on Your Target Audience
Another ecommerce marketing mistake that could be costing you? Not understanding your target audience. Or – and let’s say you do – simply not focusing on them. Driving traffic to your website through SEO and reviews helps, but it is also essential to hone in on your target audience directly. Sadly, many businesses cast a wider net with the intention of attracting a wider audience. But it pays to be as specific as possible!
Research your target audience by creating a buyer persona so you can better understand what they are searching for in a product or service.
Photo by Myriam Jessier on Unsplash
Keep in mind that beyond your proprietary site, selling goods on third-party platforms involves unique demands. If you’d like to use Amazon or eBay, for example, you will need to carefully ingest their specific image requirements. This is where the science of photography sneaks in, blending concepts of pixel count, scalability, and (most important) avoiding copyright infringement.
Making things more confusing are the product-specific difficulties in capturing clean images of goods like jewelry, clothing, and extra-large items. Consulting an online expert is your best bet.
Some basics to get you started:
Photo by BAILEY MAHON on Unsplash
Twitter Upheaval and Advertising
What You Need to Know
The intersection of advertising and social media evolved quickly, as major platforms found a need to monetize. Ad revenues are the preferred avenue to user subscription models, which are notoriously unreliable. Though a creeping presence of commercial advertisements on Facebook once was an issue, Zuckerberg’s company managed to ward off a mass exodus several times; now his users are now accustomed to ads appearing in their feeds.
But not so for San Francisco-based Twitter, Facebook’s closest rival, which is now in everyone’s crosshairs.
A recent change of ownership has elevated the Twitter platform to a revenue-generating situation that may mirror what occurred when daily print newspapers went the way of the dinosaur, and it’s raising questions about the fitness of advertising there. And it’s driven mostly by politics.
Unlike the simple fiscal elements that led to a decline in print media readership, Twitter is suffering from an ideological free-fall, leading top industry leaders who advise corporations to say stay away for the time being. IPG, one of the biggest worldwide ad companies, issued an official recommendation to pause ad buys with Twitter in light of new owner Elon Musk and the uncertainty surrounding not just moderation policies, but a brewing fiscal crisis after his purchase left him owing a great deal of money to lenders. Musk dropped fully one-half of his workforce, leaving grave concerns about its ability to stay abreast of technology and to expand as needed.
Will it work?
Musk attempts to rein in fears by assuring advertisers they will be “safe” on his platform, but that appears to be insufficient. Twitter’s moderation policies have long been a source of contention – and with a change in ownership, they appear headed toward a veritable reversal, leading to an anticipated spike in hate speech from both high-profile users and everyday users. Corporate giants are loathe to associate with a toxic environment, which is why many either bolt or slowly sneak away from sponsorships and ad placements. General Mills and Audi are among the latest to jump ship. They are just the tip of the iceberg. High-profile celebrities and athletes are following en masse.
Given the inherent fiscal struggles Musk will face, compounded by fleeing advertisers and an uncertain central corporate model, it may be best to shift gears until the quagmire sorts out. Online guru space G2 has a list of other ways to advertise on platforms besides Twitter, with a generous reach.
Keep in mind that small e-commerce merchants may not have the luxury of picking and choosing ad destinations based on whether or not they are en vogue or conflict-free. If the price is right, and your product appeals to users, you should feel free to try your luck on any social media platform. But it’s always useful to understand the general trend of where the internet and ideology cross paths, and commit yourself to following these patterns closely.
Photo by Alexander Shatov on Unsplash
One way to get ahead of the game is to encourage your customers to shop early. Nothing beats a long window of opportunity when it comes to shipping. Campaigns, incentives, and bonuses will light the fire under the feet of gift-givers eager to put shopping behind them and to ensure their selections arrive at least on time, if not early.
Obviously pricing incentives offer enticing opportunities. Discounts, two-for-ones, reduced shipping costs, and any of the traditional ways to ease pain in the wallet are a great place to start. Using the “Black Friday” tradition – which has morphed into a multi-week or even multi-month strategy – is one way to pull in customers. Processing early orders with a clearly defined shipping date range into the future instills confidence.
The upside of 2022 is its distance from the pandemic-plagued 2020 and 2021. The downside? Pricing. Expect higher shipping rates from virtually every service, for a variety of reasons including an increase in the price of fuel. Earlier this year, FedEx bumped up package and freight rates by a whopping 5.9 percent on average.
Are you the type of e-commerce retailer who can use gig drivers? If so, consider contacting Uber or Lyft and ask about competitive pricing. Especially great for last-minute or later purchases, they offer customized delivery without the red tape of larger shipping companies and, especially, the Post Office. It’s important to begin this partnership as soon as possible to reserve services as well as calculate a cost-savings assessment. Conventional mail through USPS and/or FedEx and UPS are probably a default shipping method, but for purchases that may be more suitable for these up-and-coming services. Note that the ecommerce giant Amazon increasingly relies on private carriers, with great success.
Need a few reminders and ideas for a hassle-free season? Listen up:
Photo by Element5 Digital on Unsplash
Ecommerce Trends in Furniture for 2022
S&P Global predicted that 2022 ecommerce trends would steer toward a more comprehensive digital outreach. So far, the predictions are mostly true. Let’s take a look at some of the many ecommerce trends in furniture that have succeeded in the past year.
1. 3D and AR Product VisualizationWithout stepping foot in a brick and more store, consumers needed a better way to view furniture and home decor. Images of a sofa from multiple angles demonstrate the overall style, but it only goes so far. Consumers need help to visualize furniture – especially larger pieces – in their personal space to capture how it works in an interior setting. It offers a more accurate representation, which gives consumers more confidence to make an online order.
Luckily, one of the growing ecommerce trends in furniture retail is 3D and AR (augmented reality) visualization. This helpful visualization also does double-duty with product customization and tailored preferences. Seeing a furniture piece at its correct dimensions to scale within a space and in a preferred fabric or finish is a lot more useful than even visiting a showroom. You can experience it instantly and it makes shopping online a lot more fun!
According to some statistics, 61% or consumers prefer to shop at ecommerce furniture stores that offer AR, and 40% are willing to pay a bit more for the convenience.
2. Site Search OptimizationHaving a well-optimized website is something all businesses need to draw in customers. At Cennos, we offer search engine optimization that includes alluring romance copy and long-tail keywords for all your decor and furniture products – and that’s a great start!
However, additional site search-related optimization with the help of AI can help customers find precisely what they’re hunting. Automated spelling corrections and autosuggestions can assist buyers discover the right words and descriptions they may not even realize they need to hone in on the perfect piece of furniture or decor. This is why site search bars and site organization is just as important in making online sales.
3. SMS MarketingText messaging offers customers a more personable and direct notification of furniture sales and other updates. Instead of them glazing over the countless ads, customers can sign up for direct SMS to be notified of last-minute flash sales and when their order has shipped or has even arrived at their door.
The best part is that this ecommerce trend has been proven to work better than other social media channels and other marketing tactics. With lots of advantages, SMS might be here to stay. Customers provide their direct consent, opting in and out with the push of a button, making it much more straightforward for furniture suppliers and brands to avoid regulations that are often tricky to navigate and stay on top of.
4. Easier Payment OptionsAnother trend in ecommerce is making payments easier. From seamless checkouts to a “Buy now, Pay Later” system, consumers will hit that purchase button when it's more convenient.
Seamless checkouts ensure a clean and fluid experience, keeping buyers on a path to purchase, instead of hitting hiccups or getting distracted. Cart abandonment is often the result of a disorganized or unaccommodating checkout experience.
Buy now, pay later (BNPL) options also offer customers a way to finance furniture over time, even interest-free. Dividing payments over several weeks or months gives customers more flexibility, making their purchases more appealing and easier to manage financially. Allowing them to get approved for a BNPL program at checkout is just one way to make ecommerce payments easier.
5. Recommerce and Sustainable OptionsWith the increase in online sales comes the increase in returns. Even with 3D and AR visualization, once an item arrives, some customers simply want something else or have a change in heart. So what happens to large returned furniture pieces? That’s the eco-conscious question on many customers' minds as they consider before purchasing these types of items.
Offsetting or reducing the carbon footprint of your business and offering a more eco-friendly process overall is a first step to reducing waste. And being transparent goes a long way to create loyal sustainably-focused customers. However, one of the newer growing ecommerce trends in furniture is to also resell used or previously owned furniture. Offering recommerce, or reverse commerce, means that consumers will be more willing to purchase a larger furniture item and feel guilt-free if it doesn't work out in their home. A recommerce solution is essentially a promise to customers that you won’t send their returned item to a landfill.
Photo by Jonathan Borba on Unsplash
As a small- to mid-sized merchant, you might want to tap into the increasing number of alternative financing options available to entice purchases, also called “afterpay” services. Each has a slightly different interface and set of options, but all are predicated on the ability to soften the blow of large (and even modest) consumer purchases.
Fixed transaction fees represent the revenue stream for these entities. To that end, it’s not altogether different from a bank installment loan. Collecting is key, but experts say the dollar amount of these purchases is unlikely to cause customer defaults. Klarna is a high-profile consumer payment portal allowing for payment-splitting, and there are others – with still others springing onto the scene. Here’s how it works:
Your customer sees a product on your site they can’t live without, but has no ability to front the cash or use a credit card. The afterpay model steps in as a third party, allowing participating merchants to process payments through them as the customer provides billing information not to you, but to them. Any guilt over adding to the spiraling debt crisis may be relieved to know that the most common option for consumers is to divide their payments over four months only, avoiding the seemingly endless cycle of drowning in interest over a period of years.
Like a mortgage, but in micro mode
Klarna and its doppelgangers facilitate semi-major purchases such as computers, cameras, and even riding lawnmowers. But they also devise payment plans for tennis shoes, cosmetics, and less expensive home goods. This makes for an attractive option as customers face a real need to acquire something; to buy a graduation gift, cover a window, or acquire a printer.
There is nothing new or radical about this model. Back when there were only a handful of TV channels available, home shopping networks were in full swing. In-house financing (underwritten between the merchant and its bank) greatly limited defaults. Revenues for after-pay services can be substantial as long as customers behave and do not overspend or close accounts. And payments are not usually monthly, but rather take place every two weeks. In some cases, the merchandise is not delivered until the first (second) payment is made. (In other words, at the time a customer enters into a payment arrangement, the first installment is due immediately.)
Among companies offering these tempting third-party payment services are Affirm, Sezzle, SplitIt, Zip, and GoCardless. Even cash-flush mainstream players such as Amazon and PayPal are seizing the opportunity for proprietary plans that eliminate third parties.
Check out the various options and chat with their reps to see if offering an after-payment service will escalate your business. Depending on your volume, you may discover it’s an affordable way to greatly expand sales. They include:
Photo by rupixen.com on Unsplash