Thursday, February 8, 2018 by Shayla Price
Wednesday, February 7, 2018 by Shayla Price
How to Turn Your Organic Site Visitors Into Loyal CustomersYou’re getting quality traffic to your e-commerce store. Now what? As a small business owner, you’re tasked with turning those visitors into customers. It’s up to you to woo consumers into purchasing your latest products. While it may sound difficult, don’t panic. Matt Ackerson, founder of AutoGrow, offers sage advice: “Once you understand that traffic is just like energy or water and you just need to create pathways to direct it where you want it to go, the rest is easy. Don’t make the mistake of over complicating it though. So many business people think success has to be complicated when it doesn’t.” Let’s make the process simple for you and the consumer. Here are five ways to convert your traffic into loyal customers.
1. Write Creative Product DescriptionsWhen it comes to marketing products online, storytelling really does matter. It only takes one click for a consumer to exit your site and visit a competitor. You can keep your customers’ attention and sell more items by crafting creative product descriptions. Descriptive text is an opportunity to highlight your products and showcase your brand’s personality. You want the product description to breathe life into the item. To achieve this objective, set the scene for the buyer. You want the shopper to imagine themselves using the product. It’s also helpful to skip the corporate jargon. Aim to use the everyday language of the typical consumer. Online women’s clothing retailer ModCloth uses expressive words to persuade its consumers into purchasing their inventory. Each product description digs into the emotional state of the shopper’s mind. Not only do you learn about the product’s physical dimensions, but you also understand how it will make you feel. When writing product descriptions, focus on turning features into benefits. How will the item improve consumers’ lives? What will the product help them achieve? Dig deep and touch their pain points. Stand out from the competition with unique product descriptions. You’ll appeal to your audience’s imagination and increase their desire for your products.
2. Create a Sense of UrgencyWith a jam-packed schedule of work assignments and family responsibilities, it’s easy for your consumers to delay buying products at this very moment. That’s why your team must nudge them to the checkout cart sooner than later. Creating a sense of urgency isn’t about causing a state of panic for your audience. Instead, you want to help them make a speedy decision about the products they already want. “Urgency can be blocked by your customers’ minds if you don’t give them specific instructions on how to solve the problem. Rather than giving vague instructions, tell people exactly what to do when the time comes and don’t be afraid to drive them toward specific actions,” says Gregory Ciotti, former senior content marketing manager at Help Scout. A few urgency tactics include adding a countdown clock to your sales page, showing the limited number of items in stock, and offering discounts on abandoned cart items. You may want to spotlight product demand, too. For instance, you can show how many people have already purchased a particular item—using FOMO as a marketing strategy. A small dose of urgency is helpful for getting your customers across the purchasing threshold. Product value mixed with persistence means more sales for your business.
3. Offer Top-Notch Customer SupportResearch shows that “on average happy customers tell nine people about their experiences with a company.” If you’re delivering superb customer support, that’s an opportunity to generate more revenue for your e-commerce store. While online support varies from the traditional in-person experience, some of the same principles apply. Your purpose is to offer immediate, accurate help with a touch kindness. When speaking with your support reps, consumers should feel special. Begin with a warm-hearted, concerned tone when talking to customers. Your team will want to approach each conversation as if the consumer is talking to a friend, not stranger. Also, it’s important to train your support reps to solve customers’ concerns as quickly as possible. Shoppers respect business efficiency because it doesn’t waste their precious time. BaubleBar values its shoppers and makes offering customer service a priority. The accessories retailer allows customers to email and call their staff members. Plus, the company posts their availability along with the normal response time. And don’t be afraid to apologize to your customers. If you make a mistake, acknowledge your error and continue to provide high-caliber service. Quality service is the key to ensuring casual shoppers turn into loyal customers. Give your audience different support channels to connect with your team.
4. Build an Exclusive CommunityThe desire to belong is part of your consumer’s humanity. In one way or another, we’re all seeking a chance to be part of a specific group, team, or club. Your e-commerce store can satisfy that consumer need by establishing a brand community. “We have an inherent need to be a part of a social community and to feel connected to others. It not only makes us feel secure and comfortable, it inspires us to take action to achieve our desired results as well,” writes entrepreneur Akshay Nanavati. Brand communities take many shapes and forms. There’s the VIP rewards programs with die-hard fans seeking exclusive perks. Or you can develop an advisory panel where consumers can give you insight on their interests and tastes. Fostering a community requires time and patience. You’ll want to create rules and expectations for your consumers. That way, you’re building trust early in the relationship. Go beyond the usual benefits of a community. Ask your brand advocates for their honest feedback in exchange for unique product discounts. And be mindful not to bog down your loyal members with excessive emails and push notifications. Communities ensure regular contact between your business and buyers. Elevate your e-commerce store with brand advocates championing your mission.
5. Present an Irresistible Exit Pop-Up OfferBelieve it or not, your consumers aren’t excited to buy your products every time they land on your site. They may visit your store to just do price comparisons, or they might have a few minutes to spare during lunch and occupy their time by browsing your website. While consumer intent may concentrate on another purpose, your goal is to reel shoppers in and persuade them to purchase. And one of the best ways to do so is with exit pop-up offers. An exit popup is a message that appears when a visitor tries to leave your site. It helps your team refocus the consumer’s attention back to your store. This popup is a prime location for you to give visitors a special deal, offer an instant promotion, or add them to a particular email newsletter. Behappy.me knows how to capture the attention of visitors attempting to leave its site. The store offers first-time buyers an extra 10% discount to influence their buying decision. There’s always one last chance to entice your consumers. With exit pop-up offers, you can grab hesitant shoppers who need extra motivation to buy your products.
Turning Traffic Into TrustPersuading visitors to become customers isn’t an easy task. However, with a sound strategy and patience, you can get shoppers to the checkout cart. Start with drafting creative product descriptions to get visitors excited about your items. Then, create a sense of urgency with limited-time sales. And always offer five-star customer support to show consumers you truly care. Build trust to convert your traffic into loyal customers.
Wednesday, January 31, 2018 by Kristen Hicks
Prep Your E-commerce Site for Valentine's DayAny holiday associated with gift giving presents opportunities for e-commerce businesses. Valentine’s Day is no exception. People spend a total of $18.9 billion for Valentine’s Day gifts and celebrations, with each person spending around $100-$200 a piece to please their loved one. If any of the products you sell would make sense as Valentine’s Day gifts, then you should be thinking about how to make your website work extra hard this February so you can tap into some of that spending. Here are a few steps you can take to get your e-commerce site ready for the holiday of love.
1. Identify and highlight your most gift-worthy products.Go through your product offerings to identify the items that make the most sense for someone to buy as a gift for a significant other. Create graphics and copy for your homepage and other relevant pages on your website to highlight these products as great Valentine’s Day choices for anyone who visits your website during the weeks leading up to the holiday. For someone struggling to figure out what to buy their partner, you’re making it easier for them to see their options and make a decision, which makes it that much more likely for them to click through and make a purchase. Take a look at how Amazon does it:
2. Bundle relevant products together to make better gifts.Some couples will be hesitant to buy a product for Valentine’s Day that they fear will seem cheap or like it’s not enough for the occasion. One way to overcome that concern is by packaging multiple products together. For example, let’s say you sell soap, bubble bath, and candles. Each one of those products on their own might not seem like much of a gift – imagine just getting a bar of (admittedly nice) soap for Valentine’s Day – but packaged together into a nice-looking gift basket, they’re suddenly an attractive Valentine’s Day option. Go through your product listings with an eye for items that can be combined into even better products together than they were apart. And make sure you include these combo-products in the list of items you highlight throughout the website leading up to the big day.
3. Offer Valentine’s Day specials.Everyone likes to feel like they’re getting a good deal. If anything that’s especially true on Valentine’s Day, since many people are looking for gifts that seem expensive or fancy without necessarily wanting to spend a huge amount. So give your visitors what they want. Offer them high-quality items that will clearly make great gifts at prices that won’t leave them broke going into March. Promote your specials on the homepage, to your email subscribers, and throughout the rest of your website. And make them time sensitive to encourage shoppers to order faster, rather than putting it off until it’s too late.
4. Create Valentine’s Day themed content.While content marketing is a long game, that doesn’t mean it can’t be put to good use for seasonal marketing. Use your blog and any other content platforms to push out content related to Valentine’s Day. Think about questions your customers are likely to have and challenges you can help with. You could put together a Valentine’s Day gift guide (with some of your own products included), write a blog post on great date ideas (maybe including an idea or two that involves one of your products), or create a video on how to make tasty sweets for your partner (that happen to use an ingredient you sell). Not all of the holiday content should necessarily promote your products directly, but make sure it’s relevant in some way to your brand and what you sell. You can provide helpful information to potential customers, bring new visitors to your website, and improve your SEO for Valentine’s Day related searches all at once.
5. Offer affordable fast shipping.For any gift-focused holiday, timing matters. Giving someone a gift on February 16 just won’t play out the same way as getting it to them on Valentine’s Day itself. For e-commerce sites, that means the worry about products shipping in time can make visitors hesitate to press that “buy” button. The best way for you to overcome that objection is to make it clear when your customers will get their products. For early shoppers, post on your site how long they have left to put in their order and still get it in time using the cheapest shipping option, as in the Spreadshirt example below. For late browsers, promote the shipping option they need to choose for guaranteed delivery in time (Choose 2-day shipping to get your order before February 14!). And if you can afford it, make those shipping options affordable. Expensive shipping costs are a big cause of cart abandonment, and you don’t want to lose a sale at the last minute because the shipping doubles the total cost of the purchase. Look for ways to make the cost of shipping affordable for both you and them. That could be a flat fee, free shipping for orders over a certain amount, or free shipping for Valentine’s Day orders made by a certain date. If you can remove that barrier to purchase, you can count on more sales.
6. Offer free or affordable gift-wrapping.You know the whole point of most Valentine’s Day purchases is that they’ll be given as gifts. If your customers can receive the products already fully wrapped, you’re removing another pain point for them and making their life easier. Free gift-wrapping can earn you some serious good will and make people more likely to buy, but even just making it an affordable add-on can make buying from you this Valentine’s Day a better experience that makes them more likely to come back to your brand in the future.
7. Keep your marketing inclusive.Valentine’s Day is very couple-centric, and most marketing reflects that. But heterosexual couples aren’t the only ones that celebrate Valentine’s Day, and making your marketing more inclusive is a way to stand out and reach part of the market other brands often forget. Single people spend money on Valentine’s Day too. Whether they use the opportunity to celebrate friendships or invest in self-care, they’re an audience worth considering in your marketing as well. And remember that not all couples that celebrate Valentine’s Day are heterosexual. If you make your marketing all about gifts for “him” and “her,” you’re leaving out a lot of potential LGBTQ customers. Look for ways to craft your marketing messages so that they include everyone.
8. Optimize for mobile.Optimizing your website for mobile shopping should be second nature to you by now, but it’s at least as important that all of your Valentine’s Day online marketing be mobile friendly as it is the rest of the year. About half of all Valentine’s Day e-commerce searches come from mobile devices, according to Bing’s data. Make sure the promotions you use for Valentine’s Day work as well on a mobile device as they do on a desktop, so you don’t risk losing half of your customer base to a bad user experience.
To your Valentine's Day success...Even if you don’t sell candy and flowers, you may be able to make Valentine’s Day into a success for your brand. Valentine’s Day means different things to different people and romance and self-care aren’t one size fits all. Think about your audience and what gifts and product options are likely to be most meaningful to them on Valentine’s Day and create your marketing campaign for the holiday based on that.
Monday, January 29, 2018 by Kristen Hicks
7 SEO Tips for Your E-commerce SiteAny business that makes money through its website has to make SEO a priority. Showing up in the search engines when someone’s looking for what you sell is quite simply one of the best ways to make sure customers can find you. But those spots on page one for popular e-commerce search terms are competitive. It takes some real work and know-how to make your website one of the ones in the running for those top spots. Here are seven things you should be doing to improve your e-commerce website’s SEO so you start reaching more of your customers.
1. Do keyword and topic research.Keyword research is an important step in any SEO plan because it’s one of the best ways to learn what your customers are thinking about. If you base your SEO efforts around assumptions of what people are searching for, then you could end up putting a lot of effort into trying to rank for the wrong things. Keyword research shows you what people are actually looking for on the web, both in terms of the specific phrasing they use and the kind of topics they’re concerned about. There are a number of tools that can help you in this step. The top of the list is Google’s Keyword Tool, which pulls directly from Google’s data on what search terms people use with the most frequency. While the information provided is geared toward people using Google AdWords for pay-per-click advertising, it’s also useful for people planning their strategy for SEO. You can put in a list of keywords related to your business that you’ve brainstormed and get an even larger list of related terms back from the tool. And you can input keywords you’re interested in to see how they compare in terms of traffic and competition levels. There are also a number of paid tools you can use to get even more detailed keyword information and help you organize the keywords and topic ideas you come up with in your research, such as the Moz Keyword Explorer and SEMRush. And it’s smart to devote part of your time during this step going directly to the source. Do customer surveys to find out questions and interests your audience has and the language they use to describe them, and talk to your customer service department to get a good list of the most common questions and comments they hear from your customers. Your keyword research should form the strategy of your SEO plan, but to be clear here, that doesn’t mean doing a lot of keyword stuffing. That’s an old-school SEO tactic that can hurt you now, and Google’s recent move toward Latent Semantic Indexing means that they’re better at recognizing what webpages and content are about based on context clues. So you don’t need to use the same term five times on your page to get the point across, but knowing the best terminology to use is still valuable.
2. Always use on-site optimization.This is luckily one of the easiest parts of SEO. For every page on your website, you have a number of spots in the html you can optimize based on the terms you’re aiming to link for:
- URL – The URL of the page should reflect the content on the page and to include the keyword you most want to rank for. As an example, if you have a page that’s focused on organic pet food, your URL could be something like www.companyname.com/organic-pet-food.
- Title – Your title tags should always be used to clearly communicate what’s on the page and incorporate your chosen keyword. That’s good for your readers and your SEO.
- Headings – Using headings in your content is a good way to make your content more structured and readable. It also gives you additional opportunities to incorporate relevant keywords. Make use of those <h1>, <h2>, and <h3> tags.
- Image alt tags – For every image you include on your website, you can add an image alt tag which gives you one more place in the page’s html to signal what the page is about to the search engines.
- Image titles – Before loading an image to your website, take a minute to give it a name that uses your target keyword.
- Meta description – Your meta description won’t influence how well your website ranks, but it will show up in the search results page, giving you a chance to use the teaser text to convince searchers to click.
3. Make sure your site structure is intuitive.Your site architecture is how your website is organized. A simple website (left) may have a menu with five main categories, and a few pages included under each category. An e-commerce site (right) with a lot of different products may have hundreds of categories and subcategories and thousands of product pages.
The more complicated your website is, the more important it is to make sure that you organize it in a way that’s both intuitive to your users and makes sense to the search engine algorithms. A good rule is to come up with a plan that groups related pages together in categories that make sense to your average site visitor, while keeping everything within a couple clicks from your home page. So you don’t want a product page to be grouped inside a category that’s a subcategory of a subcategory of a subcategory – you want to keep it simpler than that. Ideally, you plan out your site structure in advance, but if you missed the boat on that, take some time now to sit down and work out the main categories present on your website now so you can start organizing the pages you already have better and have a structure defined for the ones you’ll add in the future.
4. Provide detailed information on your product pages.Product pages that only have a product’s name or just a line of description don’t give you much chance to signal to the search engines what the product is or what it’s about. On a related note, it doesn’t tell your potential customer much about what makes the product worth buying. Take some time to craft descriptions of your products that provide more information to readers and search engines on what the product is and the types of features and uses it has. This gives you a chance to let the search engine algorithms know more relevant terms to associate with the page (although you still want to be careful here not to keyword stuff!), while also providing useful information to your prospects. Here's a great example from L.L. Bean:
5. Create relevant, high-quality content.All that research you did back in step one wasn’t just good for figuring out which keywords to focus your main website pages on, it will also form the foundation of a good content strategy. Content has a hugely important role to play in SEO for a couple of main reasons:
- Publishing fresh content lets the search engines know your website is current and up-to-date – Google doesn’t want to rank some old site that no one’s updated since 2011 that could be full of outdated information.
- It gives you the chance to start targeting a high number of long-tail keywords. These are easier to rank for and the more you start to rank for long-tail keywords, the stronger your website authority will be in the eyes of Google, helping you to over time rank more for more general, competitive terms.
6. Promote your content.You have to create content to be competitive in the search engines these days, but unfortunately, so many other brands are already doing so that just creating great content isn’t enough. You also need to do the work to get your content in front of people. That means promoting it on social media, sending it to your email list, and may even mean paying for ads that get it in front of people. This part is especially important if you’re in the early stages of your content program. You’re competing with brands that already have traction in the space that you don’t have, so you need to put extra effort into getting those first followers who like and share your content. If you have patience and put in the work, you’ll likely see those numbers grow exponentially over time.
7. Build links.Not that everything else on this list is easy, but this step might be the hardest part of doing SEO. You can control what goes on your own website, but it’s harder to convince other websites to change what’s on their site for your benefit – and that’s what you need to really demonstrate your authority to Google. Having other high-quality, relevant websites include links back to your website on their own site is hands down one of the biggest factors in how Google decides who to rank. While this is a big topic with a lot of different tactics you can try, there are a few good strategies to start with:
- Guest posting – If you create content for another website for free, you’re providing them with value, which may make it worth it for them to let you include a link back your website. Look for websites in your industry that have big followings and accept guest posts and start pitching.
- PR pitches – PR people have been doing this kind of things for years, while not always with the focus on a link. Look for journalists or writers who write about topics that relate to your product or content you’ve created and pitch them on a topic that’s a good fit for their audience that also relates back to your brand. You’ve got to be thoughtful in what you pitch to who for this to work, but it can get results.
- Look for name mentions without links – Look for examples around the web where your brand or product is mentioned without a link included and reach out to the webmaster to ask them to add one.
- Look for bad links – If you can find broken links that used to point to content or products similar to yours, you may be able to convince the webmaster to update their website with your link instead.
SEO and Your E-commerce SiteSEO isn’t easy, but for e-commerce websites that live and die based on how accessible they are to potential customers, every little bit you can do to help people find you will make a difference to the sales and revenue you achieve each year.
Friday, January 26, 2018 by Casey Kelly-Barton
Planning a Website? Test Your SEO Basics Know-How [E-Book]Setting up a new website can feel like a test, especially if you don't have experience in coding or design. Fortunately, platforms like WordPress and tools like HostGator's Website Builder make it easy to get your site up and running. After that comes the next test: how do you get your site found by readers, viewers, or customers? That's where SEO comes in, and if that's something you haven't studied, don't worry. This quick quiz will identify the basic SEO terms you already know and help you get up to speed on the rest. Did you come here for the e-book? Great! Click here to download now.
1. What is SEO?(a) search engine optimization (b) a way to help more people find your website (c) the process of using keywords, code, images, and load times to raise your site's visibility (d) all of the above If you answered D, you're right. Search engine optimization helps people find your site by boosting your site's position in search results delivered by Google and other search engines. A good basic SEO program involves the right keywords, tags, schema, server speed, and more.
2. What are keywords and how do you find them?(a) words that unlock the meaning of your site; you find them by asking friends and family for ideas (b) words that people use when they search for sites like yours; you can find them with Google Keyword Planner and other tools You chose B, right? Although most of us can come up with keywords off the top of our head to describe our blog or business, keywords are most effective when they're carefully researched and tested.
3. On-site SEO means:(a) an expert who comes to your home or office to handle all your SEO for you (b) adding your keywords to your site copy over and over in hopes that search engines will rank you higher (c) optimizing the tags, meta descriptions and URL structure on your site so search-engine web crawlers (online bots that follow programmers' instructions to index web sites) can understand it more easily The right answer here is C. If you chose B, reconsider, because that's the definition of keyword stuffing, a frowned-upon tactic that can cause Google to rank your site lower or even ban it from its search engine results pages.
4. Technical SEO is important for...(a) impressing your friends who understand code (b) selling things to customers in the tech industry (c) helping site crawlers categorize your site's content and topics in search results C is the correct answer. Building a flat architecture and an XML sitemap can help your site appear higher up in search results because the robots that evaluate your site find it easier to use.
5. True or false: The images on your site matter for SEO.(True) Every image on your site can improve your SEO as long as it has the right format, file size, tags, and descriptions. (False) Pictures are just there to dress up the site or show off your products. This one's true. That's because search-engine robots read the tags and descriptions to look for your keywords, even though most visitors will never see them. And formatting and file size can affect page speed.
6. What's page speed and why does it affect SEO?(a) Page speed refers to how quickly a visitor can read your page, and it affects SEO because people like to read things fast. (b) Page speed is how often you update your blog with new posts and photos, and it affects SEO by adding more content. (c) Page speed is how fast your site loads on a visitor's computer or mobile device, and it affects SEO because Google ranks faster-loading sites higher. It's C. Most people won't wait more than two or three seconds for your site to load before they get frustrated and navigate away to a site that loads faster. Google wants to deliver results that users find helpful, so the search engine prioritizes sites that load in a blink.
7. What are rich results and how can you create them?(a) Rich results come from visualizing success and putting your earnings goals out into the universe. (b) Rich results come from asking your friends and family to share your site URL in hundreds of blog comments and forum posts. (c) Rich results are easy to use search results that boost your click-through rate and are formatted by using standardized schema markup or a schema markup plugin. If you chose C, you got it! Schema markup is what creates those handy recipe boxes when you search for “peach cobbler,” showtimes near you when you search for “Black Panther,” and product photos and prices when you search for “fidget spinners.” (If you chose B, please reconsider. As with keyword stuffing, spamming comments and forums with your URL can cause Google to downgrade your site's ranking or boot your site from its results.)
8. Mobile-first SEO includes:(a) choosing a mobile-optimized template and theme for your site (b) putting a big link at the top of your homepage telling visitors to go to your mobile site first (c) evaluating and refining your site based on Google's mobile-friendly test tool (d) both A and B (e) both A and C The right answer here is E. Because Google is moving gradually to a mobile-first index, your site needs to display properly on mobile devices as well as computers, and it needs to load quickly and help mobile users find what they need easily.
9. Link-building is...(a) the practice of creating links to others sites on your site (b) a waste of time (c) a valuable long-term SEO strategy, as long as you understand how to do it right You know the answer is C, because we're talking about SEO. There are a lot of ways to build links that boost your search ranking, like creating content people will use and share, sending press releases to local or industry media when you're doing something newsworthy, and staking your claim on your local business listings. It's work, but it's definitely worth your time.
10. The real SEO test is your website's search rankingDo you want to learn more so you can ace the SEO on your new site? Our e-book, The ABCs of SEO for Brand New Businesses, walks you through these topics so you can boost your site's visibility even if you don't have a tech or marketing background.