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.
Recently, we were talking to a colleague and everything was about driving traffic to their site. And all I could think as we had this conversation was that traffic isn't everything. It's great, don't get me wrong, but if traffic doesn't lead to sales, is it really worthwhile?
Nope. Not really.
And it got me thinking about how to turn traffic into conversions. And as I was trying to put together a post about exactly that, I came across an article on Search Engine Watch that is precisely what I was looking to convey. So instead of rewriting, I'm going to send you all to their site to read more about the small things we can do to turn traffic into sales.
How to Increase Conversions: Ideas, Tools, Examples
I think there's a lot here that we can put into use almost right away to create an uptick in conversions -- which is really the whole point, right?
Tell the truth. As a new ecommerce vendor, or even a somewhat seasoned hat, were you in awe of the way you have picked up the essentials of running a business that’s essentially global in some respects? Paying attention to strategies such as marketing, budgeting, and developing ways to maximize revenues with a minimum of investment?
It’s a constant challenge, and as you shape your philosophy and brand, you’ll settle on a policy, if only internally, for striking a balance between luring customers with discounts and giving away the store.
The concept of discounting involves variables, for sure. The brick-and-mortar “sale” is far easier to generate on the fly, while an online shop that necessitates a physical and time-centered distance between you and your clientele involves far better planning.
It also begs the question you may not want to answer. Are you willing to take daunting risks just to gain customers?
Mid- to large-size businesses operate in a universe you can barely see through a telescope. They focus on margins, set-asides, long-term marketing plans, and ROIs at a degree you may realize one day. In the interim, a wholly different strategy applies to the average ecommerce biz.
There are always those sad stories. You know the ones: they involve nefarious intent aimed at ripping off a business. As an ecommerce vendor, you’ve employed best practices with respect to having your ducks in a row and have taken steps to avoid fraudulent chargebacks, return scams, and everything you’ve learned about in Online Selling 101.
But there’s another danger in the loop, and it’s a bit more stealth. It’s called “click fraud,” and though it’s been around since the advent of internet advertising, it’s becoming more pernicious. It’s not cheap, either —a click-fraud monitoring site estimates that the seedy practice did more than $7 billion in damage over a recent two-year period.
Vendors who advertise on third-party websites have discovered a diamond in the rough; a way to gain visibility, and hopefully new customers, at a very reasonable cost. Predicated on the concept that interested viewers will click on your link to learn more about you, publishing hosts will charge you only on a per-click basis. Great deal.
Here’s the problem. Not all clicks are equal. Someone mousing around that link may be one of several untenable parties, from a sector competitor who drives up click rates to cost you more money, to an ally of a web page host trying to rake in more ad revenues for his buddy. It can be a competitor of the published page who’d like to set that page up as a shady self-clicker. It can also be unrelated to profit or competition, but rather a political protest statement, or even someone with a personal vendetta.
We’re not talking bankruptcy here. It’s rarely disabling. But it’s a host of other adjectives, including annoying, frustrating, and ultimately perhaps viral.
As brick-and-mortar stores continue to collapse into bankruptcy, leaving blighted, empty buildings, there is a lesson to be learned from each.
Their customers trusted them.
Big-time retailers Kmart and Sears, now jointly owned, still has loyal fans who are eagerly following the roller coaster ride of their dismal-yet-uncertain fate.
If you are an ecommerce vendor, it’s imperative that you study and reflect on the way these conventional stores captured trust and converted it into continuing revenues. Mirroring their marketing tactics, which usually include special sales, coupons, and notable customer service policies, can set you up to become an internet fave – if you play your cards right.
In the ecommerce universe, that means generating “micro-conversions,” or turning initial signs of interest into an established consumer relationship.
Focus first on these obvious, easily implemented strategies:
Seeing a path to better revenues, and being a better business
By now every growing e-commerce entity has figured out the critical role social media plays in their business. It’s become a household pastime; a venue for people from all demographics who are connecting with the world through computers and devices.
The opportunities for marketing and branding are rich. And increasingly, the picture has become much rosier. Research conducted in 2018 showed that social media users made their most recent purchase directly through Facebook and their eBay Daily Deals. Facebook ran away with the biggest share of the pie, with Instagram coming in a close second.
Yet there is a demographic often left in the dust; one thought to be unable – disabled, as it were – to use social media.
That has changed. With technological developments in connectivity have come celebrated advances in bringing the Internet to people with varying degrees and types of disabilities. There are nearly 60 million of them in the U.S., and that number will grow as they age. They are players. They are shoppers. And they can be your best customers if given the chance.
Seeing Progress and Profits: Instagram Adds Feature to Aid the Visually ImpaireD
Accessibility. It’s not just an accommodation. It’s an underrated boon for business.
Social media app Instagram is keenly aware, and on the job. With the introduction of new features that simplify their site for visually impaired users, they join other big players in social media, such as Facebook and Twitter, in expanding inclusivity.
How does this impact ecommerce merchants? The shopping public is reflective of overall demographics. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), at least 3 percent of all Americans aged 16 to 75 experience some level of significant visual impairment. That’s more than 7 million people.
Wouldn’t you like to make sure your goods and services are available to as many potential buyers as possible? Instagram thinks so.
Here’s how it works: Programmers employ object recognition technology to produce descriptions of images for screen readers, making it possible to actually hear lists of items contained in photos as you scroll through them. The feature operates when Feed, Explore, and Profile pages are accessed.
Beginning next week, we’re rolling out a multi-part series focusing on accessibility in social media and ecommerce.
Before we dive into some platform-specific issues and ideas, let’s talk a little bit about what is legally required. On social media? There really isn’t a requirement that your content be accessible. (Though we think it ought to be.)
But there are some requirements and guidelines for your website. According to the ADA and subsequent court findings, your website is required to be accessible to those with disabilities. And it makes good business sense – the easier your site is to use, the more likely you are to make a sale.
While there are no comprehensive federal regulations in terms of website accessibility, there is a great guideline – Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1 – and we think it's where you should start. Chances are high that if the federal government does come out with legislation or regulation, it's going to look like this.
Here’s a life hack for ecommerce merchants, and a cool development you won’t want to miss.
No, not the standard app you’ve been playing around with for a while, deciding whether it’s of value to you as an online seller. After all, it’s so, so graphical. Maybe too graphical. And personal. Isn’t this what millennials use to share selfies?
Not anymore. With the lion’s share of social media apps hungry to gain attention from businesses, Instagram has been paying apt attention. The ever-popular feature Instagram Stories quietly morphed into a tool for ecommerce in the fall of 2017, allowing businesses to tag product photos through “stickers” on their posts. Those stickers are active links to your site.
And in June of 2018, Instagram took to the video platform with IGTV, an app designed to animate social and business parallels.
It’s gone so well that Instagram is reported to be launching an app tailored for you, the merchant. And experienced users will get the hang of it in no time flat.
Consider this: More than 25 million businesses have existing Instagram accounts. Of those, 2 million are advertisers. The foundation is set for sales, and they have been happening. If you feel like you’re missing a golden opportunity, you may be right.
The numbers are in, somewhat. A recent survey showed that brands have reported an increase in site traffic of more than 1400 percent and a whopping 20 percent gain in sales. That’s nothing to sneeze at.
To no one’s surprise, potential hasn’t escaped third-party app developers. Ecommerce site Ecwid rolled out a transition app on its own. It’s pretty interesting. But conventional wisdom says they anticipated Instagram would seize on the opportunity to rebrand their name, and it appears they will.