You’re a smart e-commerce retailer with quality, stylish home decor items in a variety of design themes. From classic to trendy, you have the perfect solution to update any boring decor. The orders should be pouring in, right? But they’re not where you want them to be, for sure. Customers can’t buy if they can’t find you.
SEO is both more important and more complex than ever. Technology advances in AI and voice commands make older techniques obsolete. You need to rank high on search results to make more sales, but how? What if we told you some of the best tools to help you boost SEO (and sales!) were FREE? I’m serious, and promise, we don’t work for any of these companies. We just think some of these are likely to become your favorites, too.
Hot tips for maximizing your sales and profits
A unique trait to e-commerce is certainly the need to embrace and adapt to changing technologies. Gone are the days when simple marketing and advertising efforts, or public interface at local events, can improve visibility and sales. We’re in a New Frontier, and it’s mind-numbing.
Learning to increase the odds that your online site is viewed by more potential customers is not a one-step process. There are multiple moving parts, and each can be critical in a different way. But adopting basics is a great start, and expanding into creative territories that intrigue you, or are pertinent to your product niche, will steer you in the proper direction.
By now you are intimately familiar with SEO, or Search Engine Optimization. It’s the honey driving bees to your store. It’s the strategy to zero in on consumer specifics, helping them locate what they need in a short amount of time. And while it’s not super simple, it’s not above your learning curve.
In what analysts and experts call “SEO growth hacking,” there are several ways to organize content and text on your site to gain new visitors. Improving your search rankings and increasing conversation rates are objectives for everyone, but the successful will follow best-practice guidelines. By way of example, a well-optimized site will generate conversion rates up to 15 times greater than conventional direct mailing. Be all in.
Chicago is gearing up to host the granddaddy of all national events aimed at ecommerce merchants, and if it’s not on your radar screen, it should be. The 15th annual Internet Retailer Conference & Exhibition, or IRCE, is set to kick off June 25 for a three-day extravaganza of experts, fellow merchants, strategists, and vendors.
In an industry known for isolation from networking opportunities, this flagship soiree gathers premiere figures and ecommerce merchants, large and small, to explore the possibilities in starting, growing, or maximizing your business.
Extending last year’s format, the event will encompass three separate and distinct shows that include GlobalShop and RFID Journal LIVE! Retail. The scope of these RetailX offerings is massive, and with each unfolding in a singular 400,000 square foot venue, it sweetens the pot on the decision to attend.
This year’s IRCE keynote speaker, Doug Stephens, is a world-renowned retail industry figure with futuristic vision and an exemplary resume. Founder and president of Retail Prophet, Stephens has counseled retail giants such as Walmart, Home Depot, Google, Disney, and Citibank, and is listed as one of the leading retail top global influencer by Vend.com.
Other featured speakers include Andy Dunn, Senior VP of Walmart, and Airbnb Strategic Advisor Chip Conley.
In addition to high-profile speakers, attendees may participate in targeted workshops and seminars, and peruse a hall with more than 1,200 exhibitors waiting to show off their latest products and services. This is your chance to learn hot tips on Best Practices, store design, and other critical elements that shape the success of ecommerce vendors.
Do your customers trust you? Do they feel comfortable purchasing from your site?
In the world of eCommerce, a trustworthy website is everything, and the gateway to this type of trust is excellent digital security.
In the wake of recent data breech scandals such as Facebook's Cambridge Analytica debacle and Marriott's passport hack, customers are protective of their data more than ever before. Here are some steps to implement into your own data security strategy in order to earn and keep your customers' trust.
Secure Your Site
For an ECommerce business, a secure website is the equivalent of a safe brick and mortar store. Customers demand safety for their data. Here's how you can ensure your customers' safety on your site:
· Implement SSL security throughout your site.
· Comply with PCI standards.
· Require two-factor authentication for the purchasing process.
· Ask customers to create strong passwords.
Those four steps alone can increase your site's security by more than 50 percent.
Obtaining a Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificate for your website is a straightforward yet crucial step. SSL grants your customers encrypted access to your site, ensuring that your site is trustworthy and not easy to hack.
To obtain your SSL certificate, you just have to fill out a simple form about your business and website. Once your certificate is authenticated, it will display on your site. Your URL will become an "https:" address, and a green padlock icon will appear next to the address to mark your authentication.
Not only is an SSL certificate the most reputable level of digital security, but it also makes you compliant with PCI DSS standards. this puts you on-par with financial transaction sites like PayPal.
A recent survey shows that people who do business online have an overwhelming tendency to use simple passwords. ECommerce shoppers are no exception. A simple password like "123" or "qwerty1" is effortless fodder for hackers.
Encourage your customers to choose passcodes that feature numbers, symbols, and letters. Do this by installing password parameters into your signup process, or simply display it as a reminder on your sign-in page.
Demanding strong passwords isn't always enough to keep your customers' data safe. Unless strict guidelines are put in place, customers create easy passwords for their own convenience.
Add an extra layer of protection to each account by implementing two-factor authentication. This will force your customer to supply a subset of data aside from their password. This extra layer of verification might be a security question, a code verification via text, or even a fingerprint ID. Initially, your visitors might find a two-factor authentication process to be excessive, but they'll get used to it. They'll be grateful that your business cares about their security.
Balance Automation With The Human Touch
How much of your customer experience is automated?
It's great to lower costs and favor a smooth process by offering customer service in the form of chat bots and self-checkout functions. However, research shows that customers like a balance of automation and human contact. Also, more automation means a greater risk for security loopholes.
Offer your customers a balanced approach. Automate your checkout and payment process, but let actual humans resolve customer issues. If you would rather not hire in-house customer service staff, you can always employ a small remote team to keep overhead at a minimum.
Don't Hoard Customer Data
As an eCommerce business, you have access to a lot of details about each customer. It's up to you whether to collect and archive this data, or to get rid of it until next time.
Though it's your prerogative how much info you have on file for your customers, don't get greedy with the data. Collect only what you need to complete the transaction, and
consider storing as little of that data as possible.
Every piece of data you store expands your risk and responsibility in the event of a security breach. If possible, opt against storing credit card or other payment info. You can bypass a lot of the responsibility by offering secure checkout via PayPal or a similar transaction site.
If you do have to store sensitive info, don't leave it archived on your server. Data stored online is the easiest for hackers to obtain. Archive your data offline instead. You can even choose paper archives over digital storage. But in that case, make sure to follow all appropriate confidentiality and data storage guidelines.
Whether your business is just a small eCommerce operation or a large corporate organization, a nightmarish data breach is more than a remote possibility. As long as you keep your customers' information safe by implementing the above tips, you will minimize the amount of damage a breach can create for your company.
It is important to go into every year with a better understanding of your business. Every business wants to increase their profits. When you ask a vendor for their advice on what you can do to improve in this area, the most common suggestions are to focus more on increasing sales and your profit margin. Unfortunately, while the answer is simple, the methods used to achieve these goals aren’t so cut and dry. To help you accomplishing your 2019 sales goals, here are some helpful tips on other ways to increase your profitability.
Cutting the Fat
It is always important to look over you expenses to see what you can reduce or even cut out completely. Advertising, for example, can fluctuate depending on your business. A vendor should 10% of your current advertising budget for last minute opportunities rather than spending on costly annual commitments. Utilities are also expenses that need to be reviewed often to see if you can lower you overhead based on your usage. Repairs and maintenance can also incur heavy costs. Instead of committing to a contract, it may be your best interest to pay for repairs needed
It is critical to set time in you calendar to do routine review of your policies and expenses to make sure you are not paying over. This also includes things such as insurance. Remember to ask your representative to review your policy and ask where can you save money. You also want to make sure you are not paying for anything that doesn’t apply to you. For example, if you are renting a space, do not pay for coverage because that is the landlord’s responsibility.
Reducing expenses isn’t the only way to improve sales in a business. Wages are often the expensive cost in any vendor’s operation can incur. It is crucial to review your sales history and analyze the flow of traffic. What are the highest peaks of activity during a normal week? This will be helpful when you have to revise your employees’ scheduling to see where you can reduce hours during slow periods.
Pick the Right Banking Institution
Leveraging your banking institution also plays a critical factor in optimizing profits. Look for a bank that gives you the most for your dollar. Ask your advisor where can you save money by banking with their company. Just like your shoppers take time to compare prices from competitors, don’t be afraid to do the same with banks.
For any ecommerce merchant, analytics is a key component is creating sales and marketing strategies to engage their consumer base. It is critical for digital marketers to know how to use their results to grow their audience and increase their Internet presence. From interrogating key SEO buzzwords, understanding block chain and algorithms, analytics can also feel overwhelming at times but it isn’t impossible to manage. Before you can master your analytics usage, you have to understand that it is more of a philosophy rather than a rigid set of rules. A lot of vendors have a lot of misconceptions surrounding what comes with good analytic managements and here are a few tips on how to better optimize your analytical results.
It Doesn’t Have to Be Expensive
One of the biggest misconceptions of analytics is that it is very expensive – and it can be with some vendors electing to hire third-party contractors to oversee this task for them. Software programs like Adobe’s Marketing Cloud can cost upwards of $100,000 a year, which can be a heavy financials burden on smaller, independent companies. You do not have to rely on this type of service to manage your analytical data when services like Google Analytics, HubSpot, and Hotjar can do the same job for a much lower price.
Collecting vs. Understanding
Many vendors fall into the mistake of putting too much focus on collecting as much data as they can on their audience. However, collecting the data is only one half of the equation. What many tend to neglect is the process of actually interpreting and understanding the data they have. Collecting the data the will not help you understand the consumer. A vendor must create a process to thoroughly review and master. What does the data tell you? What are the factors are driving this data? What are your conclusions and reviewing the data? All of these are important questions ask after you gather your information to analyze.
Reporting Isn’t Everything
This may come to a surprise to some but it is a very important truth. Reporting isn’t all there is to analytics. As mentioned earlier, it is more of a philosophy and a process that starts with gathering your data to drawing your summary of the information you have. Depending on the type of online store and your traffic, there is no definite answer on how often you can report your results. It can be monthly, quarterly, or longer. It is about what works best with your operation.
Facebook Business pages promote customer engagement, track demographics, and act as online window displays.
E-commerce retailers have countless ways of promoting themselves online. And leaning on social media should be a top priority in their content marketing strategy.
Facebook, in particular, acts as an online business card and offers a Facebook Business page. Plus, it’s absolutely free to set up!
Of course, you can pay for added extras like ads. Even if your e-commerce retail business has just launched, at the very least, claim your name to a page. It’s an economical marketing strategy.
The primary benefits of a Facebook Business pageAvailable are many benefits of owning a Facebook Business page, but here are the three basic ingredients. Retailers can:
Actively engage with customers. Communicate with your customer base and make long-term relationships. Build an interactive platform, and even use the integrate Facebook Messenger, to provide general information about your products, and address questions or suggestions. Even promote sales via pinned post or boosted post.
Monitor analytics for demographics. Understand your customers’ demographics and turn it to your advantage with Page Insights. Knowing this can allow you to tweak each post’s tone and content to appeal to and target your ideal customer base. Facebook collects user data so why not use it?
Drive traffic to a site. Once you understand your target audience, you can funnel customers directly to your website in the “About” section or even set up a Shop and Catalog feature within the page.
How to make the most out of a Facebook Business pageLet’s dive deeper into each of the above ingredients and demonstrate specifics on how they apply to an e-commerce retailer.
Use Groups and Polls
When engaging with your customers, groups and polls are both underrated tools on Facebook. But they can provide a lot of information on your customer base and how they view products.
With a Facebook Group, retailers can build a community around a relevant topic that your fan base is interested in discussing. For instance, if you sell rugs, create a group surrounding styles of rugs, best cleaning methods, and other home decor tips.
And inside your Facebook Group, you can occasionally create a poll. Doing so can offer tons of insight and value to your community. For instance, you could ask “What’s your favorite home decor style?” The answer not only tells your community what’s trending, but also give a hint on what rug styles will sell well this season. Win-win.
Spy on your competitors for research
This one ties into the analytics mentioned above. Not only can you monitor your customer base, but with the “pages to watch” report, you can also spy on your competitors.
You can track things like their total page likes, posts, and engagement (reactions, comments, and shares). You can even track competitors’ ads to see how they market themselves and how well each ad performs.
Funnel traffic to your e-commerce siteDriving traffic can also provide sales funnels for your e-commerce business. Inbound marketing is still an excellent strategy.
Check out our post on Facebook Ads to discover how to optimize and find your target audience.
Parting words on Facebook Business pageIt seems like Facebook’s algorithm changes quite frequently. More recently, it has listened to its own consumer base and made a point to limit the number of ads that come across our feeds.
As an e-commerce retailer, this may seem challenging. But there are better ways to engage with consumers than simply placing direct sales or promotional content under their nose.
Instead, retailers should focus on entertaining and fun consumer experience using groups and polls along with their Facebook Business page.
Find the perfect ad campaign to target your market audience.
As an e-commerce retailer, to target consumers and funnel them to your Facebook business page or even your website, you need to understand how to use Facebook ads to your utmost advantage.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the Facebook ad benefits, the types of campaigns best used for retailers, and talk about a few methods to display your product and more importantly—your brand.
Benefits of Facebook ads for e-commerce retailersFacebook ads are a powerful inbound marketing tool for driving traffic to your site. And it’s excellent for long-term growth.
Each ad campaign type uses cost-per-thousand impressions (CPM) bidding, which offers a cost-effective way to attract new consumers for e-commerce retailers. Instead of paying for each click, retailers are charged per 1,000 views.
Marketing objectives: which campaign do you choose?When you decide to create a campaign and begin the setup process, expect to be asked: “What’s your marketing objective?”
Start by choosing one of the two available campaigns: Reach and Brand Awareness. The main difference between these two ads is this:
Reach ads essentially target the audience you need.
Because this type of ad is designed to reach the maximum viewers as possible, you get a “frequency cap” before it’s shown to the same person twice.
With this ad, you are also charged per impression—excellent for capturing the attention of a small audience.
Brand Awareness ads go a step further, casting a more widespread net.
If your brand is new, you may need to launch an ad campaign simply to get noticed. Facebook calls this a Brand Awareness ad.
It’s wise to go with Brand Awareness first. It grabs the attention of would-be consumers, who choose to “Follow” or “Like” your product, which will eventually help build demographics and drive more targeted—and profitable!—Reach ads.
Using ad recall lift optimization, your e-commerce business page will only present ads to users who are most likely to become customers (by maximizing reach and recall through impressions.)
You are also only charged per impression, not per click. And the bid is automatic.
Build out and direct ad viewers to a Product CatalogOne optimal way e-commerce retailers can take advantage of their Facebook business page is by launching “product catalog sales” campaigns.
Offering products for sale on a Facebook catalog is just a start. But when retailers set a “product catalog sales” campaign objective, it returns people to products in which they’ve shown previous interest.
Use Carousels to display products Available are several ways to capture the attention of your audience:
Out of the four, Carousels offer an excellent way to dangle products in front of potential consumers. This interactive ad format prompts Facebook users to swipe “cards” to view more products.
But what makes this style perfect for e-commerce retailers is that it allows you to display up to ten images or videos, optimizing your ad campaign! And on each “card,” you can highlight product details, create Call-to-Actions, and even link to different landing pages.
Let’s also assume for a second that you’re not a direct to consumer brand and instead sell directly to designers and other businesses. Even if you lack a product catalog on your Facebook business page, Carousels can provide a product story instead.
If you sell tableware, imagine each card featuring an image of a dining table as it’s prepared for guests. And the final card as everyone gathered around the table enjoying themselves.
Final thoughts on Facebook adsFacebook ads offer numerous ways to promote your brand to 2.32 billion monthly active users (MAU) worldwide. That’s an enormous amount of people.
But to reach the right people, it’s important to understand your brand and your target market audience. Fortunately, Facebook allows you to do both, tracking analytics and demographics. You might be surprised who your target audience is or who they become! So it’s also important to continuously monitor your analytics as you push those campaigns.
Now, what are you waiting for? Create your first Facebook ad!
Even if you are sworn to avoid being swallowed by the social media craze that consumes an inordinate amount of time and energy from a growing number of everyday people, you are a de facto participant if you run an ecommerce business. At the outset of Facebook’s transition from strictly a college kids’ platform to a worldwide social gathering place, few took it seriously enough to consider investing in marketing there. After all, it’s primarily for catching up with high school friends, developing a love life, and commiserating with fellow NFL fans when your team is on a downslide. Right?
Not anymore. Like any other viral entity, Facebook and other social media venues have fine-tuned the art of pitching to businesses. Meet Facebook Analytics, a handy tool provided by the social media platform that crunches data to specifically introduce you to interested parties by way of measuring visitor activity on your page.
The bad news first. Recently Facebook began limiting its “Audience Insight” feature with a new algorithm that restricts this data to users who have liked your page. It’s an unfortunate move in that it delineates potential followers and customers. This privacy-driven decision goes hand in hand with the company’s response to regulatory and consumer discontent. Rolling out Facebook Ads was a big step for the company, albeit to the dismay of many users hoping to escape incessant commercial advertising. But like you, they need revenues, and business owners should look seriously into the unique opportunity they present.
The ability to narrow ad targets to an appropriate audience is huge. You sell a line of hipster cosmetics for young’ns, so why waste your time placing ads on the news feeds of men in their 60s? Unless your role is to advertise jobs or housing, and you were caught up in the very recent debacle in which Facebook is facing charges by Federal authorities for suborning discrimination through demographic targeting (another story altogether), you’re free to select an audience most likely to warm to your goods.
Yet aside from advertising—or rather to supplement it—your Facebook page itself can yield important information that helps refine product offerings, gauge interest, and stay atop of a marketing plan that works.
Just when you thought social media was on the verge of being tapped out on its aptitude for ecommerce vendors, Google is out with a fabulous new feature that makes shopping fun for consumers and fruitful for those of you who hawk wares online.
The “Shoppable Ads” feature is linked to search results from Google. In a Pinterest-style formatting feature, the commerce giant is rolling out a shoppable screen that allows sellers to tag multiple products on each ad. Mousing over a product reveals its price and brand.
Not intrigued yet? You should be. Young shoppers, especially, are keen on the Pinteresting layout of Pinterest, and the ability to move quickly from a visual image to information on what the product is, where to buy it, and how much it costs.