Beginner’s Guide to SMS Marketing

sms mobile marketing

Communicating with consumers doesn’t need to be hard. SMS is a simple, yet effective way to contact consumers. Using the right strategies and techniques will ensure your mobile marketing campaign is successful.

Reasons SMS is powerful:

  • 23 BILLION text messages are sent per day
  • 97% of Text Messages are opened on average (compared to just 20% of emails)
  • 80% of people are now using text messaging for business in some form or fashion

Trumpia’s beginner’s guide to SMS marketing infographic down below will help kick start your SMS marketing campaign.

Beginner guide to SMS marketing infographic

 

Guest Author: Sophorn Chhay

Sophorn is the marketing guy at Trumpia, a mobile content delivery service that allows users to customize their one-to-one marketing efforts by interconnecting and optimizing all digital platforms. As an innovator in two-way SMS messaging, Trumpia’s mission is to empower brands and public figures with interactive access to their audiences, reaching targeted affinity groups in a personal way. Trumpia delivers world-class content such as video, ticketing, polling, products sales, contests and giveaways.

We’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences on this post. Please do leave a comment.

How small online businesses and start-ups can plan for email success

email marketing plan

Email remains one of the most useful and consequently best-loved tools in a small business’ marketing toolkit. Despite plenty of claims that time is up for email it continues to flourish – showing no signs of being pushed to the sidelines by newer entrants such as social media. Indeed, you are 6x more likely to get a click-through from an email campaign than you are from a tweet.

According to recent statistics, the average person gets 121 emails a day and the human race as a whole gets 193.3 billion. Of those 193.3 billion,  business emails account for 108.7 billion.  With such high volumes you would be forgiven for thinking that people would be fed up to the back teeth with email.  On the contrary,  as consumers we continue to embrace email it because despite the high levels of unwanted communications we still find email valuable.  We actively sign-up to receive email from companies we like for information, offers and news. Indeed 95% of people who sign up for a newsletter from a recognised brand consider the email useful.

Small business owners and start-ups love email because it is:

  • Flexible – it is quick to set up and dispatch and we can use it for all sorts of business communication.
  • Cost effective – it won’t break the bank – indeed most email marketing providers offer free plans which is great for small businesses and start-ups. For example MailChimp offers up to 2,000 subscribers and 12,000 emails free per month.
  • Great ROI – email has one of the highest ROI of any marketing tool. Research shows that for every $1 spent, email marketing generates $38 in ROI.
  • High conversion rate – when it comes to purchases made as a result of receiving a marketing message, email has the highest conversion rate (66%), when compared to social, direct mail and more.
  • Plenty of DIY  options – there are so many excellent email marketing providers out there that we can create professional, visually appealing emails  all on our very own.
  • Lead generation – 89% of marketers say that email is their primary channel for lead generation.

 

Planning for email success

“An email communications strategy defines the value you can offer to different target audiences through the range of different types of email to maximise response.” Smart Insights

We’ve established that email is a valuable tool for small businesses and start-ups . The majority of use email for all sorts of varied business and marketing communications. However in order to really optimise the potential of email marketing and help grow  your business, you should spend some time looking at your email strategy and planning your email marketing activities. If you have a rather ad-hoc and scatter gun approach you could be missing out.

email marketing plan

 

 

Taking a step back to review your current email marketing, identify any possible gaps and taking a systematic and planned approach to implementation really can help boost performance.  We’ve outlined a few key areas to consider when you are at the planning stage to ensure you are getting the most from your email marketing.

Know your goals and set objectives

A key question to ask yourself is what are the key goals for your email marketing – what is it you want to achieve? For example do you want to boost online sales, generate leads, grow brand awareness or build customer relationships ? The clearer you are about what it is you want to achieve the more focused and effective your email marketing will be.

Critical to this is knowing your audience – even at a simplistic level you will have different objectives depending which customer group you are targeting. For example, you may want to reach out to your lapsed customers and your objective may be to get them to re-engage  or get feedback as to why they lapsed. Or for customers who abandoned their cart midway through their purchase your objective would be for them to go back to their basket and complete their purchase.

Of course your goals and objectives will depend on your business and how you segment your customers, but the point is you need to have a clear goals and specific objectives in place to enable you to create emails that achieve what it is you want for your business.

 

Map it out visually

I’ve found that a great way to get  handle on your email marketing communications is to map it out visually. A visual representation such as a flow chart will help you quickly identify all the various customer touch points, how you approach customers depending  upon where they are on the customer journey, your different target groups, the frequency of which you send your emails and so on.

With this amount of information it is far easier to digest visually. Any gaps that offering a potential email opportunity will be far easier to spot.

flow chart

 

Growing your list

Your email is only as good as the data you have. Marketing databases naturally degrade by about 22.5% each year, so planning ahead so that you continue to grow your list is an important element of email planning. What activities can you implement to plug any shortfall and build your list? For example;

  • Do you have a way for people to sign up to email communications such as a newsletter on your website?
  • Could  you consider implementing a refer a friend scheme?
  • Could you run a competition on social media?
  • Have you tried offering a free e-book download in return for contact details?

How does it look?

Thinking about how you create your marketing emails will also ensure a better response.  For example –

Brand consistency – email communications are a great way to build brand recognition so having a hold on all the emails that you send will help ensure that you are consistent across all your marketing communications .

Content – interesting, informative and engaging content is important if you want you email to get opened – there is no point sending out an email if you have nothing of value to the recipient in it. Plan ahead for interesting content – for example are there seasonal times of the year where you have special promotions or new products coming out?  If so timetable them in advance.

Visually appealing – visuals help people engage with content so spend some time sourcing interesting images and breaking text up into digestible chunks will make it more inviting to the recipient.

Email Automation

“Transactional emails have 8x more opens and clicks than any other type of email, and can generate 6x more revenue.

As a small business owner or start-up, there is a strong chance you are undertaking your business’ email marketing yourself. Indeed 91% of us are fulfilling our own marketing needs, often using an email service provider such as Mailchimp, Vertical Response or Weber. There are plenty of excellent providers on the market and if you haven’t already considered email automation then it is something that is worth thinking about when you are at the planning stage.

Automated emails are essentially email that are triggered automatically after a specific action. For example abandoned cart emails are often triggered automatically after a potential customer has abandoned their basket  and not returned to it after a specific period of time has lapsed. Another example is the automated email that you usually receive once you have subscribed or signed up to a newsletter.

Not only do automated emails help free up your time but statistics like the one above seem to suggest a very positive effect on response and revenue.

Have you buttoned down all the legal bits?

Sounds obvious but when you are planning your marketing just make sure that you have covered all the legal bits such as data-protection. Have you got permission to contact the person you are emailing? Have you included a clear unsubscribe button on all your email communications?

In the UK you would need to look at the Data Protection Act 1998 and Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulation Act.

Measure and review

An integral part of your email marking planning is how you intend to measure and review performance. If you don’t measure your activities you won’t know what’s working well and what not working. When you are setting out your objectives it helps to include a measurable element for example, on an email newsletter your objective may be to achieve a 20% open rate.

Industry benchmarks can help with this initially for example current industry averages for email open rates and click-through rates for ecommerce are 16.82% and 2.48% respectively.

However you decide to measure the response rate of your email campaigns, just make sure you are setting realistic targets.

The key message to take away is that putting some time aside to really plan out your email marketing, will ensure you are fully optimising the benefits email can bring to your business, through generating better response, new leads, higher conversions and better customer relationships. 

We’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences of email marketing so please do leave a comment. 

Email image courtesy of nokhoog_buchachon at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

How to build online trust – 6 helpful tips for small business ecommerce and start-ups

online trust

Trust is integral to the success of any business. A customer will only buy from you, continue a relationship with you and share their experience positively if they trust you. Of course, building trust takes time so a key challenge for small business ecommerce and start-ups is getting customers to engage when they have no experience of you or your business. Therefore, as a small business owner or ecommerce start-up you have to work harder to instill a sense of trust in order for a customer to feel comfortable handing over their hard-earned money.

Well-known companies have built up trust over time to the point that it becomes ingrained within the brand (think John Lewis). Start-up’s don’t have that luxury – you need to impart a sense of trust from the first moment a potential customer comes in contact with you business. You have to be able to quickly convey the message that you are a credible, professional and trustworthy company.

Happily there are some practical actions you can implement that can help send out trust signposts to potential customers signalling that you are a business they can feel comfortable and confident engaging with. A good starting point is to take a look the entire customer experience – start to finish. From initial promotions (both online and offline), a customer’s first experience of your website , right through to the checkout process. Identify all the touchpoint along the customer journey that can provide you with the opportunity to develop your  message of  trustworthiness.

6 ways to help instill trust

1. A great website

Like it or not first impressions count. Your website may well be the first significant experience a customer get of  your business. If a new customer lands on your site and it it looks disorganised, dated and unprofessional any natural hesitancy they had will be amplified and it will be increasingly difficult for you to win their business.

Your website needs to look professional, be easy to navigate and information should be up-to-date. Go through it with a fine tooth comb and check for broken links, spelling mistakes and out-of-date information. A credible website makes a customer feel comfortable and secure. Think about the following aspects:

  • Navigation – How simple is it for your customer to access the information they are looking for? Can they get to their desired destination within a few clicks?
  • Usability – Does it load quickly? How easy is it for a customer to complete a specific action such as sending an email request,  adding an item to their shopping cart or completing the checkout process? Make your website as user-friendly as possible.
  • Design – we’ve already mentioned the importance of a good first impression. The design of your site has powerful impact on how your business is viewed. Is your website structured so your customers don;t have to think too hard. Is it visually appealing? Does it contain interesting and engaging images?

2. Relevant, fresh and engaging content

online content

The quality of your content is central to building trust and establishing an ongoing relationship with your customers. Offer customers a wide range of interesting, engaging and informative content. Think about how you can provide information that is of value to your audience. For example blogging is a great way to show you are interested in your customers, it helps keep new content coming into your site and can add an air of authority to your business.

Look at your content continuously on an ongoing basis. Nothing shrieks unprofessional as stale and out of date content. Customers may think if you can’t be bothered to take time over the content of your website you may not be too bothered in other areas either. Keep your content fresh, relevant and up-to-date and don’t forget if you have a presence on social media, the same applies – keep active and post fresh, interesting content regularly.

Finally, do also have a think about the tone of voice and approach you take to your content. As your brand develops and becomes more established you may take more risks and become more playful in your tone but when starting out then it is probably safer to take a friendly but professional stance – for example err on the conservative side!

3. Customer reviews and testimonials

  • 63% of customers are more likely to make a purchase from a site which has user reviews.
  • Consumer reviews are significantly more trusted (nearly 12 times more) than descriptions that come from manufacturers

Customer reviews on your website can act as a significant trust signposts. Customers trust reviews from other customers almost as much as word of mouth from friends and family – this can be particularly useful when starting out in a new business. Customer reviews can help improve customer trust in your product and/or service and helps build brand credibility. Having visible customer reviews on your website also conveys that you are confident in your product, having nothing to hide and are genuinely interested in and value the opinions of your customers.

There are plenty of online review sites available to help you manage and automate your customer reviews – for example Trustpilot, Feefo, Reevo. Alternatively don’t be afraid of directly contacting customers or clients  for a testimonial directly. If customers have had a positive experience they are usually quite happy to review you or provide you with a testimonial.

4. Display Trustmarks

 

trust mark security logos

Trustmarks in isolation won’t solve a customers concerns over the credibility of your site, but they can play a supporting role. A well designed, usable shopping cart checkout process is key but displaying trust marks security logos can help reassure customers that it is safe for them to shop on your website. Security logos and badges such as McAfee, Norton, TRUSTe, Twarte, Commode, PayPal will reassure customers that you have taken the appropriate steps to keep their personal  data safe and protect them from credit card fraud and identity theft.

In addition, if you are a member of any industry bodies or trade associations then it is worth flagging this up to. And, if your business works with closely with your local community or  supports a particular charity then highlight these activities as well  – they all help send out trust signals to customers that you are a credible, trustworthy and all-round good company to do business with.

5. Open communication channels

Your customers should be able to get in touch with you easily. Making them jump through hoops to make contact will undermine any trust you’ve built up. Being visible and easily contactable shows you care about your customers experience and have nothing to hide!

Ensure your contact information is flexible. Customers should be able to contact you in whatever way is most convenient to them be it phone, email or letter. Your ‘Contact Us’ page should be visible and easy for customers to find.

Central to developing trust offering excellent customer services. Being able to reassure a customer about an order or  a delivery goes a long way towards establishing a trustworthy relationship – particularly when a customer has no previous experience of your business.

6. Present a human face to the business

As a rule people like people and like doing business with people. Adding a human element is a great way for small business and start-ups to establish a rapport with potential customers. If they like the look of you and your business ethos, they are more likely to feel happy and willing to do business with you.

Checkout Riverford’s About Us page. It has genuine sense of community and you get a real feel for the people behind the business. So too take a look at Stella & Dot’s video – again is gives you a feel for the personalities behind the business.

Riverford About Us

 

Establishing brand trust doesn’t magically happen overnight it grows along with your business. However, as we’ve outlined above, when you are just starting out there are a number of trust signposts you can implement early on to help send out signals to potential customers that you are a credible, professional and trustworthy business that they can feel confident in engaging with. 

Online shopping image courtesy of sixninepixels at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Thumbs up image courtesy of Sira Anamwong at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

We’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences of building trust so please do leave a comment

Who are Hedonic Shoppers and How to Engage Them and Extend the Relationship?

Who are Hedonic Shoppers and How to Engage Them and Extend the Relationship
A large number of retailers have experienced a shift in the marketplace. The retail marketplace, both online and offline retailers have experienced a massive change and it is no longer sufficient to entice the customers by providing low pricing, discounts, wide assortment of products, etc. More and more retailers as well as ‘Etailers’ are recognizing the need to make the shopping experience entertaining to overcome the immense competition.

According to Baymard Institute, 67.89 percent shopping carts get abandoned. Most people believe that the shopping carts get abandoned due to poorly optimized carts or lengthy checkout processes, but you will be amazed to know there are many other reasons why shopping carts get abandoned. Moreover, the shopping cart abandonment rate increases due to the rise of a group of shoppers known as the ‘Hedonic Shoppers’.

Who are Hedonic Shoppers?

According to research performed to determine the types of shopping motivations, the shoppers can be divided into two categories – Utilitarian and Hedonic.

  • Hedonic shopping is mostly driven by entertainment and emotion. Hedonic values of a shopper are more subjective and personal and they are motivated by fun or playfulness of shopping experiences.
  • Utilitarian shopping is more goal-oriented and rational. Utilitarian shoppers are efficient shoppers who know what exactly they need. They are more concerned about meeting daily needs, seeking more variety, greater value, quality and looking for best prices.

Hedonic shoppers are more impulsive than the utilitarian shoppers. Although it might seem that the hedonic shoppers spend more on shopping, as compared to the utilitarian shopper, the shopping cart abandonment rates are higher as well (in case of hedonic shopping). So it has become increasingly important for the online retailers to adapt to this shift in shopping habits and optimize the shopping experience to incorporate fun, entertainment, excitement elements to satisfy both utilitarian as well as the hedonic shoppers.

For instance, Amazon is a great example of an online retailer that has diversified the shopping experience to satisfy both utilitarian and hedonic shoppers. Amazon is no longer focused on selling books only (utilitarian); it offers anything and everything a customer can look for (hedonic).

A study named, “Hedonic shopping motivations”, by Mark Arnold and Kristy Reynolds, revealed the hedonic reasons people go shopping and they came up with six major categories of hedonic shopping motivations:

  1. Adventure shopping – Driven by stimulation and excitement.
  2. Gratification shopping – To enhance one’s mood.
  3. Social shopping – Offers pleasure of interacting with others.
  4. Idea shopping – To stay updated with the latest trends.
  5. Role shopping – Offers pleasure from buying for others.
  6. Value shopping – Feel the excitement of finding deals (not necessarily make use of the deals found).

The immediate thought would be – how do I know what the motives of my visitors are. Google analytics and other analytics tools provide us with lots of information about your customers and their behavior, but there is no data about their motivations. Why did a visitor come to your website, what exactly made them abandon the shopping cart or how you can influence the customer’s motives to help them complete the purchase cycle.

You will have to get an idea of the motives by looking at the products you deal with. For instance, if you offer luxurious products such as jewelries or designer clothing, chances are a large portion of your audience has hedonic motives. One effective way to identify the motives is to create opinion polls or a short questionnaire. Remember the questions must be simple and to the point, otherwise your audience might abandon it as well.

So do you have to live with the fact that people would come and abandon carts and there is nothing you can do? Not really! It is true that no matter how good your website is in terms of shopping experience and functionality, the hedonic shoppers can abandon the carts anytime, but you can do things to convert them into customers as well.

Have a look at this:

70 – 95 percent of the first-time visitors who abandon a page without performing a desired action (including those who abandon carts), do not give up the idea of returning to the website to perform the intended action.

Again, 75 percent of customers who abandon the carts intend to return to the website to complete the purchase process – according to SeeWhy. As a matter of fact, about 11 – 29 percent of them return within 4 weeks.

visitors who abandon a page

This means, there is a fair percentage of people among the cart abandoners, who can be converted into customers. But how? Keep reading to know more.

Improving Your Relationship with Hedonic Shoppers

The next obvious question is – how to engage hedonic shoppers and convert them into customers. To achieve this goal, you have to:

  • Get a point of contact – e-mail address, social profile, etc.
  • Get back to the hedonic audience to promote your products and services through triggered mails.
  • Optimize the shopping experience to include more fun and entertaining elements.

Now let’s get into the details of each strategy.

E-mail

Have a look at the following statistics:

  • 77 percent of customers prefer to receive marketing messages via e-mail – MarketingLand
  • 80 percent of online retailers fail to get back to the cart abandoner by sending triggered e-mails – BizReport
  • Almost 78 percent of marketers have been able to achieve good to excellent results by triggering cart abandonment e-mails – Exacttarget

So if you are not triggering e-mails to the cart abandoners, you are missing out on a lot of opportunities. By sending e-mails, you engage the hedonic shoppers and create a strong relationship with them. Tell them that you will do everything to make the shopping experience even more exciting, incorporate new ideas and improve the overall value of your website.

Engagement that works wonders for utilitarian shoppers might not be enough to allure the hedonic shoppers. To allure this segment, you need to be more creative. To help marketers understand how to engage the hedonic shoppers better, let’s take a look at the six factors of customer engagement and then at the drivers for the various categories of hedonic motivations.

Six factors of customer engagement

  1. Focused attention
  2. Perceived usability
  3. Endurability
  4. Novelty
  5. Aesthetics and
  6. Felt involvement

Drivers for the hedonic audiences

  • Adventure shoppers are driven by the aesthetics of the website. Offer these people with a fun shopping experience to convert them into customers. By providing them with certain level of thrill, you can entice them to come back to your site.
  • Gratification shoppers are driven by the aesthetics and felt involvement. Make the gratification shoppers feel better while they perform shopping and build a strong relationship with your customers to persuade them to come back to you again and again.
  • Social shoppers are driven by the felt involvement. Creating a perfect set up for the social shoppers might be difficult, since these people love to be in company of their friends and family, but by engaging them in innovative ways, you can retain the social shoppers on your website.
  • Idea shoppers get driven by novelty. In order to allure this segment of hedonic shoppers, you must ensure that the website is up-to-date with the latesttrends and keeps the visitors updated about the latest trends as well. Show your creative side to entice the idea shoppers.
  • Role shoppers are driven by felt involvement.
  • Value shoppers get driven by novelty and the felt involvement. This segment of people is perfect for e-mail campaigns. Take the example of Groupon. They created their websites to keep the value shoppers on their toe by promising to provide them with attractive deals every day. So create a strong e-mail strategy to win the hearts of the value shoppers.

Groupon

So in order to reach out to all classes of the hedonic shoppers, you must do everything to enhance your e-mail lists. Here is how you can build an extensive e-mail list:

  • Create impressive landing pages: Build an impressive and optimized landing page that compels the visitors, both hedonic and utilitarian, to sign up by entering their e-mail addresses.
  • A highly optimized sign-up form: Design a sign-up form that allures the visitors to subscribe by promising to offer value in return.
  • Exit-intent Technology: This is an advanced technology that detects the mouse movement of a particular user to detect abandonment. The moment the user intends to abandon the cart, an exit overlay is activated that offers high-level engagement for the user, in order to hold them back.

By engaging the hedonic shoppers and establishing a relation with them, you can increase the conversion rate and sales for your online store. However, this isn’t as easy as it sounds. You will have to put in a lot of effort to understand what the hedonic shoppers are exactly looking for and optimize the shopping experience accordingly.

Let’s take a quick look at what has been discussed till now:

  • Hedonic shoppers make a large portion of shopping cart abandoners
  • Shopping carts are not abandoned only due to poorly optimized shopping carts or check-out processes.
  • Instead of frowning over the cart abandonment numbers, take each abandonment as a new opportunity.
  • Create a list of cart abandoners, using the latest technologies like exit-intent technologies, landing pages, etc. to reach out to the hedonic audience and convert them into potential customers.
  • Optimize your website to incorporate fun, excitement and entertainment to allure the hedonic shoppers.
  • Try to offer the best possible engagement for your visitors.

Conclusion

The shopping habits have changed drastically over the decade and it is necessary for the online retailers to adapt to this change to survive the immense competition. Remember, website visitors have different motives to visit your website that range from emotional to rational. So in order to entice visitors from all segments (utilitarian and hedonic), you must create a blend of user-friendliness, functionality and features that evoke emotions that persuade the customers to complete the purchase cycle.

Thus, instead of trying to reduce the shopping cart abandonment rates, try to engage users and encourage them to buy products.

Image Source: (1, 2, 3)

7 tips small business owners can implement to help combat stress

how to combat stress

 

There are plenty of wonderful upsides to being your own boss. You’re in control, you set the hours and often you’re doing what you love or following a dream. Of course, it would be unrealistic to paint everything as rosy. Alongside all the great things that come with owning your own business there are also plenty of challenging aspects you have to deal with. The responsibility of sole management and shouldering all the worries, coupled with spending hours working alone can sometimes cause stress, lack of motivation and make you feel isolated.

We take a look at some useful tips to help you deal with stress when it raises its head. Obviously we are not suggesting stress can be erased completely, after all it is part and parcel of owning a small business, but hopefully by implementing a few of the tips we’ve outlined below it will help you manage stress better to reduce its overall impact.

7 tips to help manage stress at work

71% of small business owners experience high levels of stress.”

Being you own boss, juggling lots of balls and carrying the full weight of success and failure on your own shoulders is undoubtedly stressful at times. Indeed, stress is a key issue for small business owners and solo entrepreneurs. The very nature of small business ownership opens you up to higher levels of stress. At its worse it can lead to exhaustion, depression and hinder your ability to run your business.

Eradicating stress completely is probably unlikely. However learning to identify what triggers stress and taking steps to manage it can make it big difference to how you cope during stressful periods.

1.Learn how to identify stress triggers

Of course different people will have different stress triggers but one of the major triggers is the feeling that you lack of control over a situation – from deliveries not arriving in time, other people’s behaviour and even the weather (the list goes on and on).  Accepting that there are certain things you will never be able to control and finding ways to manage them as best you can when they arise will help you better cope when things are out of your immediate control.

Most of us have an idea of what it is that really our stress levels through the roof. For me it’s having too much on my plate to the point I can’t see the wood for the trees. I’ve learnt that on those days I’m far from at my best. Such days don’t go away but by recognising this I’ve learnt to try to pre-empt the impact by planning ahead where I can.  If I know I’ve got a ridiculously busy day or week coming up then I try to see if there is anything within my control that I can do beforehand to alleviate some of the pressure.

Point is, if you can learn to recognise what makes your stress levels rise you are better able to work on positive ways to manage it.

2. Recognise the first signs of stress

Recognising the first signs of stress can help you manage your symptoms before they take over and damage your health and your ability to successfully manage your business. Stress can take different physical and mental forms. Some common signs include:

  • A feeling of being unable to cope
  • Anger and aggression
  • Anxiety
  • Lethargy
  • Sleeplessness
  • Demotivation
  • Exhaustion
  • Loss of appetite
  • Low mood

Recognising that you may be suffering from higher than normal levels of stress will help you take steps to address those symptoms or if needed get help from your GP.

3. Re-evaluate your time-management skills

 

effective timemangement

It probably feels that time management is wheeled out every time stress at the workplace is mentioned – so forgive me if you’ve read it all before! However putting effective time-management into practice really can help you reduce your stress levels and means you’re less likely to find yourself  working ridiculous hours to get things done. Examples of good time management techniques include;

Plan. Schedule 30 minutes a the beginning of each day to plan what you’ll be doing that day.

Prioritise. Divide your tasks into things that are critical (they absolutely have to be done today), essential (are important to the smooth running of your business but aren’t as urgent as your critical tasks and then everything else (nice but not essential tasks). Deal with critical first, then move on to essential and finally tackle everything else once the ‘critical’ and ‘essential’ tasks have been dealt with.

Remove distractions.  When you have critical or urgent tasks that need your full attention, remove all potential distractions. Put your phone on silent (people can always leave a message) and sign-out of email, instant messenger and social media.

Allow for interruptions. When planning your day allow some additional time for interruptions when you will need to be unexpectedly pulled away from the task at hand.

Organise your workspace. A messy workspace will hinder your attempts at effective time-mangement. So keep your work space organised and clutter free.

4.Outsource where you can

If you are a start-up with a very tight budget, outsourcing may seem like a no-go option. However, you don’t have to outsource something major to benefit. Is there something you could delegate to help out more at home so you not fretting about cleaning the house or making the dinner on top of everything else. Try looking at it from a business perspective as well. Is your time being well-spent? For example are you spending time stuffing envelopes instead of getting on with sales calls which could generate new business?

As a small business owner you are probably juggling lots of hats. Take a step back and see if you can relinquish some control to someone else – perhaps in an area you don’t enjoy or to someone  who is better placed to do it than you? Freeing up this time will leave you more time to focus on other important areas.

5. Look after yourself

“Keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see a shadow.” Helen Keller

Taking care of your mind and body is essential to keeping your stress levels down. Healthy eating, exercise, getting enough sleep and relaxation time are essential. Being able to draw the line is also important – work cannot be all-consuming as it is simply unsustainable in the long run. Taking good care of yourself is intrinsically linked to feeling positive  and the more positive your feel the more optimistic you are about work and the world around you.

positive thinking

Practice positive thinking. Think about all the great things you’ve achieved, remind yourself why you wanted to be your own boss and what you love about your business. Positive thinking can have a significant impact on how you deal with challenges.

6. Realistic goal setting

There is a tendency for us to heap pressure upon ourselves to achieve goals and we are often overly hard on ourselves if we don’t always attain them. There is absolutely nothing wrong with aiming high, just make sure that when you are setting goals against which you are measuring yourself and your business, you are being realistic. Otherwise you are simply setting yourself up for failure before you’ve even started. A good goal should be a challenge but ultimately achievable.

7. Tackle isolation

“52% of all small businesses are home-based.” –Forbes

There is no doubt that being a small business owner can sometimes make you feel a bit on the lonely side. In the UK two-thirds of businesses are owned and run by just one person and 52% of small businesses are based at home. When you are feeling stressed it really helps to be around other people for support. If you work in a busy office and have a bad day you can often unload to your colleagues However,  if you work from home alone you don’t always have that opportunity.

tackle isolation at work

Have a think of ways you can introduce a bit more interaction into your busy working day. For example.

  • Hot desks. There are more and more co-working spaces popping up. Here you can hire a workspace. Even if you can only afford to do it once a week it means that you’ll be surrounded by individuals in a similar situation as yourself who will also probably appreciate a bit of company whilst working.
  • Join local business networking groups. This is a great way to meet other likeminded local business people who probably have to deal with similar issues as you.
  • Attend events relevant to your business and if appropriate think about opening a pop-up shop every so often.
  • Get outside at lunch for a walk or to have your sandwich.
  • Go for a coffee and take your emails with you – emails are something you can often answer on the move. You are out and about amongst people and are getting some work done at the same time!

Of course, it’s unlikely that whatever you put in place is going to eradicate stress completely as it is often part and parcel of owning a small business, but by implementing even just a few of these tips it may help you bring stress down to a more manageable level.

Ultimately keep reminding yourself of all the great benefits being your own boss brings and remember to look after yourself and pat yourself of the back every now and then as never forget that as a small business owner, you are absolutely vital to a thriving economy.

 

We’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences on managing stress at the workplace, so please do leave a comment. 

4 Ways to Boost eCommerce Average Order Value

Thoughtful woman holding shopping bags and looking up

Want to improve the amount of traffic and the number of conversions of your eCommerce store? Who doesn’t? These are, after all, imperative to grow your revenue. But for that you need to utilize the most powerful weapon in your marketing arsenal, which, unfortunately, is often overlooked. Yes, we are talking about your Average Order Value (AOV).

Average Order Value or AOV is a criterion used to compare your marketing campaigns’ efficiency. In addition, this key metric helps you understand the type of eCommerce customers you currently have. Using this metric you can understand how each traffic segment of your website is converting and where you need to improve to enhance your revenue. In short, it is your tool to create personalized marketing strategies for a better conversion rate.

Why Increase Your AOV?

The benefits of increasing your Average Order Value are pretty obvious. To begin with, it helps you increase your cash flow really fast, which is obviously one of your basic goals. And that’s not all; there are several other benefits of working your way out to improve your AOV.

For instance, you can simply increase your AOV by installing a plugin for your eCommerce shopping cart. In comparison, acquiring traffic not only has a significant cost attached to it but is also more difficult to achieve, thanks to the frequent search engine algorithm updates we are being subjected to these days.

It may also happen that any of your traffic sources might disappear one fine day, leaving you clueless and dumbfound. If you have worked on your AOV and improved it, chances are you will be in a much better position, while reducing your marketing spend.

But before we sum up the tips to improve your Average Order Value, you need to know how it is calculated. The AOV formula is quite simple to comprehend:

AOV = Revenue / Number of orders

Using this formula and a web analytics software like Google Analytics you can easily start optimizing your conversion rate. All you need to do is get the exact average order value from Google Analytics for each traffic source. Consider the numbers mentioned in Transactions and Revenue sections (under Acquisition -> All Traffic) and use the above mentioned formula to calculate the AOV.

Now that you know how to calculate your AOV, it’s time to look at some of the tactics to increase your Average Order Value.

1. Product Recommendations

More often than not, customers are only focused on what they are looking for. As a result, they overlook to browse your eCommerce store to find more. This, in turn, results in smaller carts, a.k.a. smaller Average Order Values.

While you cannot change how customers will behave, there is a very simple solution to improve your average order values. Simply add product recommendations on your product and check out pages. If you don’t believe us, consider that Amazon has been using this trick for quite some time now. Its recommendations come in forms of “Frequently bought together,” “Customers who viewed/bought this item also viewed/bought,” “Frequently bought with the item you added” and so on.

Product Recommendations
All that this eCommerce giant does is collect data about its visitors’ past shopping and browsing habits and combines that information with its algorithm and voila, it provides personalized product recommendations that buyers are most likely to purchase.

Profiling popular products or products that your customers have previously browsed is perhaps one of the best ways to increase your Average Order Values. In addition, it helps in minimizing friction before checkout. Studies indicate that 2 to 5 percent of an eCommerce revenue is attributed to product recommendations. Better yet, this increased revenue can go up as high as 20 percent, depending on how effectively you pair up products.

Similarly, showing your customers cross-selling options also helps you to improve your AOV. You can use such product recommendation tactics by using phrasing like “Complete the look” or “Get the look” on your eCommerce store and it works particularly well for fashion and apparel stores. It’s convenient for the customer and you can move your products without sounding pushy.

In fact, you can use cross-selling for almost all type of eCommerce sites. All you need to do is recommend additional and/or complementary products. Got a customer purchasing a Windows 10 laptop! Why don’t you recommend a laptop bag to go with it?

2. Cashback Techniques

Another simple way to increase your Average Order Value is by utilizing cashback technique. In fact, cashback technique is quite a traditional tactic used by retailers to attract and retain customers. How many times have you seen eCommerce stores offering free vouchers on your next purchase? Quite some time; the Internet is filled with ads like “Spend $100 and get $20 cash-back on your next purchase.” All you need to do is spend a certain amount and you can redeem the voucher.

Cashback TechniquesThis is a great way to increase your repeat purchases and Average Order Values per customer. But to leverage this tactic you need to first set a spending threshold, ideally slightly above your present average order amount. This will help you identify shoppers who qualify for a cash-back reward on their next purchase.

Once this spending threshold is determined you need to format your offer and market it as aggressively as possible to increase its visibility. Display them front and center on your homepage as well as on other pages. The goal is to make your customers aware of the target number as clearly and vividly as possible while they shop so that they keep on adding products to their carts to make it to the cash-back minimum. Apart from displaying such offers on your webpage, you can even spread the words through SMS marketing.

You can also offer cashback in other ways. For example, you can build partnerships with other companies to allow your customers to redeem the gift vouchers at several purchase points. This will further inspire buyers to reach the cash-back minimum. Another way to increase your site conversion is through “refer a friend and get cashback programs.” All your users need to do is refer a friend and get cashback in form of a gift voucher to be redeemed on their next purchase.

Gift Vouchers

Cashback technique works like a charm and generally outperforms any other promotional techniques when it comes to increasing your Average Order Value. Better yet, it even encourages return visits and helps you turn your one-time visitors into loyal fans.

3. Free Delivery

Along with the cashback technique, free delivery option (when bought item(s) over a particular amount) is a great way to increase your Average Order Value. Free delivery is something almost all customers expect when making an online purchase but providing free delivery is a major financial challenge for most retailers, especially if it is smaller AOV. Setting free delivery threshold is a great solution to this problem.

Free Delivery

Just like the cashback technique, you need to determine a spending threshold. For this, consider the average site spend first and how much the delivery costs you. Once you have the numbers, set an amount slightly above your current average order amount. Also, display the amount required to get free delivery on your product as well as checkout page to use this tactic effectively.

In essence, this technique combines upselling and cross-selling with an incentive to increase your Average Order Value. For example, if a customer is purchasing an item worth $40, display a message like “spend another $10 to get free delivery” to improve your AOV. And if you are still not convinced about free shipping, consider the following findings:

So what are you waiting for? Just dive in.

4. Gamification

A more contemporary technique, gamification can not only help you engage users but also make them buy more. McDonalds, for instance, used this tactic though in form of Monopoly Campaign UK to increase its Average Order Value.

Gamification
This technique works because of its meaningful structure and reward systems. Let’s see how McDonalds used it. McDonalds allows users to peel off a prize (stickers) from their meal, giving them an instant prize in form of a monopoly piece. This way, users can collect monopoly sets to win big prizes.It is quite obvious that the larger meals at McDonalds had more stickers on them, enticing people to spend on them.

McDonalds achieved two things with their persuasive gamification technique. First, it increased their AOV and second, it increased the chances of a returning visit. You too can achieve a similar result with gamification; all you need to do is create an appealing system that exceeds your buyers’ expectations.

That said, you really don’t need to create a game to entice your buyers to purchase more (although you can always do that if you have the resources). Setting an effective rewarding system based on purchasing points too can help you obtain a similar result. Announce a particular point for every order they make and offer a significant discount when they reach a pre-determined threshold. For example, “Get 5 points for each purchase and claim $30 off for 100 points.”

Gamification is a great idea for customer retention as it helps you create a relationship with your buyers, making them come back to you time and again.

Conclusion

While there are several ways to incorporate AOV strategies to improve your conversion rates, their effectiveness largely depends on your eCommerce solution. Most shopping cart systems include these basic AOV features and offer add-ons and plugins for them. However, if your eCommerce software fail to support them, you should better upgrade to a shopping cart solution that does. Using these simple, yet powerful tools is one of the best and most cost-effective ways to increase your AOV.

Image Source: (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6)

Abandoned cart emails. Helpful tips for start-ups and small business ecommerce

shopping cart abandonment emails

If you are selling online, chances are a constant bugbear will be the number of customers abandoning their items before completing the checkout process. If you are just starting out and panicking at so many people leaving your website with unpurchased items in their baskets, don’t despair you’re not alone.  Shopping cart abandonment is an ongoing issue for even the biggest of players.

Indeed according to research, the average documented online shopping cart abandonment rate stands at around 68.63%.  It’s inevitable that some customers will sail away and will never complete that particular purchase no matter what you do. However some customers can be enticed back to complete the sale.  One of the most effective ways of doing that is through abandoned cart / dropped basket emails.

What are abandoned cart emails?

In a nutshell an abandoned cart email is usually triggered emails that get sent out when a customer leaves a website having added stuff to their shopping basket but not having completed the checkout process. Its purpose is to remind people of what they have left in their basket and encourages them to go back and complete the purchase. Below is a recent example of one I received from Amazon:

Amazon abandoned shopping cart email

Why do people abandon their baskets mid-purchase

There are a myriad of reasons that customers abandon their shopping carts halfway through the checkout process. ClickZ identifies the following as the top six reasons:

  1. Unexpected shipping and delivery costs
  2. Had to create an account to complete a purchase
  3. Just conducting research
  4. Payment security concerns
  5. Confusing checkout
  6. Couldn’t find the discount / coupon code

Some of these will be within your control. For example if you have a long, convoluted checkout process then you can take steps to fix it. Other reasons are going to be completely out of you control such as a customer’s telephone rang mid-purchase and they simply forgot to go back and complete the process.

A positive aspect to all this is that 75% of all visitors who abandon their cart do actually intend to buy. This is where shopping cart abandonment emails come in to play.

Tips for creating successful dropped basket emails

Implementing shopping abandonment emails can be great way to pull back some sales you may have thought were lost. Outlined below are some inspiring statistics for cart abandonment emails from an Econsultancy article.

  • 11.6% (over a tenth) of shopping basket abandonment emails are clicked.
  • 29.9% of shopping abandonment email clicks lead to a purchase back on website
  • 44.1% of all shopping cart abandonment emails are opened.
  • The average order value of purchases from shopping cart abandonment emails is 14.2% higher than average purchases.
  • Every single dropped basket email sent delivers over $8 in revenue.

The trick is to make them as successful as possible. So we’ve outlined some helpful tips on how to create winning shopping cart abandonment emails for your business.

Timing

Probably the most important element to getting an uplift in conversions is the timing of your email – wait too long before sending a reminder and your customer may well have gone elsewhere. The consensus seems to be that the initial abandonment email should be sent within the first hour of a customer abandoning their basket. In an ideal scenario you would be aiming to catch a potential customer before they leave their device and forget all about their half-finished purchase.

Here is a sample one from Boden that I received within 20 mins from abandoning my basket:

Boden abandoned cart email

Create a schedule of abandoned cart emails

To get the most conversions, consider sending out more than one reminder. It’s great to try to grab them as soon as possible, but also implement further follow-up emails. According to HubSpot:

  • 95% of people who purchased after abandoning a cart took up-to two weeks to complete their purchase. 

Create a sequence of timely reminders to try to catch those who take longer to make a purchase or who need a little more encouragement.

Strong subject header

In any email the subject  header is important. To even get opened it needs to stand out from all the other emails in the inbox. Do make it clear in the subject header that your email is reminding them that they have left something in their shopping cart.

There are lots of different approaches from creating a sense of urgency or excitement, to reminding customers about the product they left or even using humour. Just find the right approach for your audience. For example:

Product: Amazon takes a no-nonsense approach and just lists the product left behind:

“Zap Arsenal Red Crest Fleece Blanket”

Abandoned cart: White stuff is straight to the point:

“Don’t forget to complete your order”

Humour: Boden’s is slightly more cheeky

“You left something… but where? Oh look…”

Think about your copy

As well as pointing out to your customer what exactly it is that they’ve left in their cart, also use your copy to try to remind customers about why they chose to put the product in their basket in the first place.

John Lewis includes a clear link back to the product details so the customer can easily remind themselves of the product benefits.

Email copy

Use your copy to create a sense of urgency and possible loss.  For example the product is selling fast and you may not be able to guarantee how long the product in will remain in stock. Try and convey to the customer what they may risk missing out on if they don’t act soon.

Use images

If you can, include a visual of the product your customer has left in their basket. It tells people in an instant exactly what it is you’re emailing them a reminder about and can help reinforce the reasons they chose the product or service in the first place .

Here is an example of a Boden dropped basket email with a strong visual of the product in question.

Include an image in shopping cart abandonment email

Clear call to action

Always include a very clear call to action that takes the customer back to their basket so they can easily complete their purchase. Don’t tuck it away in the corner of youR email but display it prominently so the customer won’t miss it. Also make it very clear to the customer what it is you are asking them to do.

In the White Stuff email below, they have put two clear call to action buttons on the email, with a very straightforward call to action: Complete Order.

strong call to action

Abandoned cart emails can be a great way to pick up those customers who, for whatever reason, have left the checkout mid purchase. A well-considered dropped basket series may help turn around a sale that could potentially have been lost for ever!

We’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences on shopping cart abandonment emails so please do leave a comment.