The Risky Business of Mobile Security and Holiday Shopping

Secure credit card processing

E-Commerce has seen continuous growth for over a decade now and 2013 worldwide business to customer sales amounted to more than $1 trillion. Same as regular shopping, e-commerce sales record a huge increase during holiday season. Other than holidays that boost brick and mortar retail stores’ sales, like Christmas, Valentine’s Day and Black Friday, bigger e-commerce stores also create special offers for a few unique online shopping holidays. These include:

  • Cyber Monday– this is the first Monday after Black Friday and it’s coming with the same shopping fuss all around the internet. Some retail chains continue offering discounts, even after this day and extend their offers to the whole week (Cyber Week).
  • Single’s Day – last year we witnessed new shopping phenomenon when one of the biggest Chinese online stores decided to turn minor Chinese holiday into the biggest shopping day in the world.

E-commerce entrepreneurs have a lot of work during these holidays, mainly due to increased traffic on their websites. Since smartphones are becoming more popular than ever, holiday sales growth is the most visible in mobile shopping statistics. Comparing to last year, number of mobile purchases doubled, while purchases from tablet devices quadrupled during this year. Some predictions even say that in the end of 2015, number of mobile and tablet purchases will reach 18 million. High holiday traffic means more security risks. In this article we presented several effective ways for e-commerce website administrators to protect their and their customer’s sensitive data from cyber criminals.

Identify Fraudulent Visitors

E-commerce administrators should take precaution measures before the holiday season starts. They should:

  • Spoofers – They should search for visitors who are trying to spoof mobile devices. These are more likely to have malicious intent
  • Jail broken iOS devices – these phones are either stolen or hacked so they can download paid AppStore apps. Users with jail-broken iOS, are also much more likely to commit acts of cyber crime
  • Android users with mini browser alternative – these are often used by the hackers to show a US based IP address, while communicating from elsewhere
  • Track consumers – Use advanced tracking and keep all data, in order to recognize and block users who try to apply malware software, like: man-in-the-browser and man-in-the-mobile Trojans

Apply Security Measures

Security should be tightened while waiting for the holiday season. These are some of the measures e-commerce administrators should apply:

  • Mobile app security testing – security should be the highest priority during all app building cycles. Apps should be customized to come with security strategies that are able to answer the latest mobile security challenges, rather than having generic and outdated solutions
  • SSL and PCI compliancy– admins should use strong Secure Socket Layer authentication and run frequent PCI scans
  • Don’t store sensitive data – customers’ credit card and personal data shouldn’t be stored on company servers. Data breach doesn’t happen when there’s no data
  • Address and Card verification systems – these systems should be applied in order to reduce fraudulent attempts
  • Set up alerts– alerts should turn on in case several suspicious transactions or data breach attempts are coming from the same IP address. These alerts should be connected with admin’s smartphone
  • Introduce remote software systems– when cyber-attack occurs, website and app administrators need to react fast, which is why remote server monitoring systems are very useful
  • Patch regularly– security systems should be patched, the moment new versions are released

Educate Customers and Employees

Both customers and employees should be educated about safety measures and precaution. This education should include:

  • Employee’s security training – all company employees should be introduced to cyber security, especially if the company is working on BYOD bases. They should know about safe use of e mail, text messengers and social media accounts
  • Require strong passwords from customers – strong passwords, especially passphrases are harder to break
  • Customer education– add mobile shopping security articles to company’s blog, send them over newsletter and provide links to them on product pages.

With e-commerce being such a competitive niche, only companies that enable customers to shop freely and without fear can stay competitive, especially during those shop-till-you-drop holidays.

 

Guest Author: Nate M. Vickery

Nate M. Vickery is a business consultant from Sydney, Australia. He is mostly engaged in providing entrepreneurs and small business owners with management and marketing advice. He is also the editor in chief on Bizzmarkblog.com.

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

 

* Secure credit card image sourced from Perspecsys Photos licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0) https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

 

 

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3 Ways to Increase eCommerce Sales with Video Strategy

3 Ways to Increase eCommerce Sales with Video Strategy
You love it or hate it, videos are popular these days. Sometimes, insanely so. However, many marketers are yet to utilize this tool, especially in the eCommerce industry. They overlook the fact that videos can actually help them improve their eCommerce sales, necessary to blow past their competition and go to the next level. In case, you have been ignoring the power of video in your marketing mix, you can no longer afford to do it. Video is the future.

Most eCommerce marketers think that having a few quality images of the products with zoom features is enough. But they fail to realize that while photos are important, they have certain limitations. A quality video is the closest thing you can provide to your customers next to actual touching and feeling. It therefore should be an integral part and a secret weapon of your eCommerce marketing strategy.

According to a study conducted early this year by Animoto, “businesses using video have a leg up in 2015.” The study revealed the following statistics regarding incorporating video in your marketing mix:

  • Consumers are 4 times more likely to watch a product video than read about it
  • 1 out of 4 consumers lost interest in companies that failed to have a product video
  • Out of every 5 consumers, 4 people agreed that product/service video is important

It is therefore obvious that having a proper video strategy in place is crucial, especially for an online store. It basically helps you to achieve two objectives – product promotion to attract new customers and increase on-site average order value (AOV) to improve conversions.

But before getting into details about how to increase your eCommerce sales with a video strategy, let’s why is it important for your online store.

How Video Helps eCommerce

As mentioned, product videos can dramatically improve your conversion rates. Online shopping, although popular, fails to provide the advantage of actual touching and feeling that is normally associated with brick-and-mortar stores. So you need to provide something that at least help your customers to better understand your product. Video does that apart from providing a detailed information about the products you offer.

Don’t believe what we say? Consider these statistics. According to ComScore, visitors are 64 percent more likely to make a purchase after watching a video. Another study from MarketingSherpa finds eCommerce stores that have product video attract 300 percent more traffic, i.e. two to three times more monthly unique visitors and 157 percent more organic traffic from search engines. It also generates 100 percent longer on-site time spent per visitor.

These stats are self-indicating that having video on your eCommerce website is one of the most effective ways to generate leads and improve conversions along with killer copywriting, quality images and user reviews.

If you are still doubting whether or not to incorporate a video strategy, here are a few takeaways you need to consider.

It Improves Your Ranking

A Forrester Research study indicates that a video on your website’s landing page can increase your chance of being ranked on page 1 of Google by 53 percent. In addition to the regular search results, Google also displays images, news, maps and videos in their search engine result pages. So when you are adding product videos to your websites and optimizing them for ranking, there are chances you will rank on Google for those videos as well.

For better ranking in search engines, host your product videos on YouTube, the leading video sharing platform owned by Google. Besides, YouTube gets over a billion monthly unique visitors.

Engage Your Visitors

The Marketing Sherpa study we have referred to previously in this post also found that having videos on your website results in 63 percent increase in page views. It also doubles the on-site time spent of your visitors. In fact, users are spending more and more time watching video on the Internet. The average time spent for 2015 as found by eMarketers is 1:55 hours each day for digital video, whereas it is only 1:44 hours for social media.

Engage Your Visitors

This is especially applicable for millennials who spend 48 percent more time watching videos online than the average users.

The reason behind this is quite simple. Users find is rather easy to watch a short, 3-5 minutes product video than reading a detailed product description. Besides, videos are compelling enough to engage your users better, encouraging them to make a desired action.

Get More Shares

Pew Research Center found that the number of people sharing videos online has doubled in the past few years. Cisco too found that Internet video streaming and download “will grow to more than 80 percent of all consumer Internet traffic by 2019”.

One of the advantages of video is its inherent shareability. When was the last time you shared an interesting video on Facebook? Perhaps today? Just five minutes back? Studies indicate that compelling videos not only engage your visitors but are also more likely to get shared on social channels.

Since we live in an age of information overload, something that’s easy to read and digest is always a welcoming sight. This is exactly what videos offer. It is therefore no surprize that people prefer to click on a video thumbnail more than opening a page that’s devoid of such fascinating visual elements.

So if you think a picture is worth 1,000 words, wait till you see what video has to offer. According to Forrester Research, a minute of video is worth 1.8 million words. And nothing can beat that, period.

Using the audio-visual elements you can convey as much information as you want very quickly. A well-made product video allows the customers to understand how the item would look in real-life. And if you can strike an emotional chord with your customers, telling them what to feel about the item, they are more likely to make the purchase.

How to do that, however, is a different story.

Increasing eCommerce Sales with Videos

The following are different ways you can leverage video to improve your eCommerce store’s sales and revenue.

 1. Add Product Video

Product videos are designed to give your viewers detailed insight about the product’s capabilities. The audio-visual technology allows you to bring your products to life, which is never possible with text and images. You can not only provide a 360 degree view of the product but also a fluid look at the item. Since this is the closest an online shopper can get to the item he/she wants to buy, no details will be lost.

There are basically three types of product videos – general product videos, behind-the-scenes and how-to/product demos.

A general product video is the most common type of product videos we see in the online stores these days. These videos display the product from various angles, showing the features and specifications of the item. They often speak about the primary benefits of the products in order to establish an emotional connection with the potential buyers.

These type of videos are ideal for displaying products like jewelry, clothing, accessories, home-furniture and other stationary and visual items. Many brands are also using them to provide a touch-point about upcoming products to enhance curiosity and customer loyalty.

Next comes behind-the-scenes videos. If you want to add storytelling to your marketing mix, these videos are your best possible chance. Behind-the-scenes videos tell users how a product is made and where it comes from, sharing the story and the hard work behind your product. They are more engaging as these videos aim to trigger customers’ emotions to drive sales. Combine behind-the scenes with your how-to video videos and you have a killer strategy to win over your potential buyers.

Finally, we have the product demo videos. As the name suggests, these videos demonstrate how users should use the product. These are basically instructional or tutorial videos that help potential buyers to understand complicated or technical stuff in an easier way. If you have more technical products, especially those requiring installation, having product demo videos on your eCommerce store is one of the best ways to instruct and teach your customers.

Some of the best examples for product demo videos include Volvo’s video with Jean Claude Van Damme, Nooka’s AR Watch Try-On, Go Pro user generated demos and Dawn Dishwashing Liquid ads.

2. Include Several Types of Videos

While product videos are the most crucial part of an eCommerce website, your video strategy should go beyond it. The goal is to include several types of videos. Start with an about us or explainer video. In these videos, you don’t just talk about a particular product. Rather, you talk about your business.

An about us or explainer video aims to build your brand loyalty. It should speak about who you are, what is the story behind your brand, what you offer, how it helps people and why should they care about your brand etc. These videos should establish a sense of trust between the brand and the customers.

Another type of video your eCommerce website should include is customer testimonials. Chances are, you already have customer testimonials but they are probably in text, along with a tiny thumbnail image of the customers. While they are also useful, customer testimonial videos make it more authentic and credible. And a recent study by BrightLocal indicates that 85 percent of buyers read online reviews to determine the reputation of a business.

Interview happy customers and add video testimonials to share the positive experience of your existing customers, which in turn, will help you to build trust and reputability.

3. Leverage Off-Site Video Strategy

Again, your video strategy should not be limited to on-site videos. While on-site videos are designed to encourage your customers to make a purchase, off-site videos help you reach out to new potential customers as well as spark the interest of the old ones to come back for more. YouTube and Facebook are the two best platforms for your off-site video strategy.

But the question now arises: What kind of videos should you create for off-site marketing? Here, we have two options for you.

Create educational videos. One of the best practices of eCommerce video marketing is to provide your target audience with some additional value. Educational and thought-provoking videos are your best bet here. Consider the pain points of your target audience and the problem your product solves. Now, create an educational video content based around these areas. Add some extra value to show your expertise.

One thing to note here is that these educational videos may or may not be related to your product directly. For example, if you are a food store selling organic grocery items online, you can create off-site videos like ‘how to create organic Christmas cake’ or other healthy Christmas recipes and post them on YouTube, Facebook and other social and video networking sites.

The idea is to invoke the interest of your target audience in such a way that it also broaden your brand influence.

The second option is to create promotional videos. You can create short videos to promote special offers, deals, events and upcoming sales and post them on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter and other social platforms. This is, in fact, the best time to leverage promotional videos, especially if you have a strong presence on Facebook. This social networking site now auto-plays videos in the Newsfeed. This makes your promotional videos easily shareable. Compared to photos, videos can generate 135 percent growth in Facebook’s organic reach.

But make sure, your off-site videos are short. A study by Social Bakers find that “videos under 2 minutes generate the most YouTube views.” This is quite obvious; even if you overlook the buffer time and slow connectivity at some parts of the world, no one is interested in knowing unnecessary details of your store and/or products. Viewers find short, concise videos more compelling and engaging. Use this information to your advantage.

Conclusion

Now that you know the opportunities and advantages video brings in to your eCommerce store in terms of user engagement and sales, it will be irrational to overlook this component. If you are still reluctant to hire professionals to create your product and company videos, there are several affordable high-definition video cameras available in the market. Grab one and start creating videos that can generate the highest ROI for your time and effort. More than a professional-quality video, you need something that add additional value to your potential customers’ experience.

Image Source: (1, 2)

10 indispensable small business tips for effective email marketing

email marketing tipsEmail remains one of my favourite marketing tools. If effectively implemented it offers a number of benefits that make it an indispensable part of any small business marketing plan. Email is low-cost, flexible, measurable and, perhaps most importantly, has a very healthy ROI. According to the Direct Marketing Association’s (DMA) 2015 Client Report in the UK the average ROI for email is £38 per £1 spent. An impressive growth of 53% year-on-year.

With email software becoming more advanced and accessible every year, it has opened the door for smaller online businesses to produce some excellent, innovative email campaigns – giving even big companies with hefty budgets a run for their money.

Of course, no matter how fantastic the possibilities of email, there are still some universal best practice guidelines that every business should take on board in order to make the most out of their email marketing efforts.  I’ve outlined below 10 tips that can make a real difference to how your businesses email communications perform.

1. Plan your email communications

“Clients are moving away from ‘spray and pray’ methods to a more considered approach.” DMA 2015

Before enthusiastically firing off emails left, right and centre, take a step back and look at your email communications as a whole. Spending some time putting together an email strategy for your business will be time well spent. Set some clear goals – what are you looking for your emails to achieve? For example:

  • Converting prospective customers into active customers
  • Building awareness of your brand
  • Growing your marketing prospects database
  • Customer retention through the provision of interesting and valuable information
  • Driving traffic to your website

Segmenting your audience and creating a clear plan of action for each customer group will help ensure that not only have you covered all your bases but you are creating the right balance of optimising conversion opportunities but not over-mailing. Creating a flow chart or table of your email communications is a great way to visually summarise all your activities in one place and enabling you to see the wood from the trees when you are contending with a sea of potential email interactions.

planning email campaigns

2. Purpose, message and CTA

Once you have your email strategy in place, think about the  purpose, message and call to action for your emails. Without these they are unlikely to perform as you would like. Think about:

  • What is the specific purpose of your email? What outcome are you looking for your email to achieve?
  • What message do you want to convey? Even if the desired outcome or  purpose of the emails are the same how will you tweak the message to reflect the particular audience segment you are targeting.
  • Do you have a clear call to action? Is it clear to the recipient of the email what it is you are asking them to do? And do you have a strong link to a relevant, supporting landing page?

3.Email marketing software

Advances in technology has meant small businesses can produce their own professional, visually exciting email campaigns without breaking the bank or requiring huge amounts of email expertise. Email marketing software just keeps getting better. Email marketing solutions such as MailChimp, GetResponse, AWeber, ActiveCampaign and MadMimi make it easy for complete novices to create exciting and effective campaigns.

Even better, if you are a start-up with a small number of subscribers you can get up and running for free. For example with MailChimp if you have under 2000 subscribers you can send out up to 12,000 emails a month at no cost.

4.Event triggered emails

According to the DMA marketing automation is growing and triggered emails are driving revenue growth. Indeed in their 2015 National Client Email Report, emails triggered by events or behavior were responsible for 30% of revenue.

We know that the customer journey is complex with a numerous touch points, so being able to trigger automated emails after specific identifiable events have taken place can have real impact on your success. For example identify and set-up automated  email responses to customer behaviour triggers such when someone registers on your website, enters a free prize draw, downloads a white paper, signs-up to your newsletter or even leaves their shopping cart abandoned will optimise the effectiveness of your email marketing.

A lot of this goes back to the importance of taking a considered and strategic approach to email marketing. Investing your precious time planning your email communications really can pay dividends in the end.

5. Data, data, data

Of course your emails are only as good as the data you have. Therefore good data is a premium asset for your business.  Actively building and continuously growing a ‘white hat’ marketing prospects database is essential. Research shows that Email addresses degrade naturally at about 2.1% per month equating to an annual rate of about 22.5%.

You may need to give people a bit of a nudge to impart their email address.   I know that with the amount of email communications I receive from different companies every day, makes me think twice before I hand over my personal details. Enticing people in with an incentive can be a good way to build and replenish your database. For example, competitions, free prize draws, downloadable white papers, newsletter sign-ups,  exclusive subscriber offers and giveaways are all ways to offer something valuable to potential customers in exchange for their precious contact information.

6. Newsletters

I’m a big fan of newsletters. They are a great vehicle for communicating all sorts of varied things to your audience. Focus on providing interesting, varied content aimed at engaging your audience. A good newsletter can help with brand awareness, brand building, customer retention, driving traffic and ‘soft sell’ conversions. When creating your newsletter content think about what information your audience is going to be interested in and keep it varied. A newsletter is not the environment for hard sales.

Content could include:

  • Links to your latest blog posts
  • Industry  news and trends
  • New product launches or sneak previews
  • Competitions and giveaways
  • Special offers and discounts
  • Case studies or client stories
  • Surveys and polls
  • Event calendars

Email newsletter

7. Digestible Content

Engaging content is essential. But even  the best copy in the world won’t be read if it has been presented in a indigestible and unappealing format. Carefully structure your email from subject line right through to a clear call to action.

Scannable: Break up text so a recipient as able to easily scan the email to pick up all the key messages. When laying out your email use headings, sub headings  and bullet points  to break up text in to more digestible and bite sized chunks.

Strong subject line: Your email content may be amazing but if your subject header doesn’t grab attention and stand out against all the other emails they are competing with then your hard work will be wasted.  Your email will remain unopened or in the bin. Spend a bit of time crafting a compelling subject line. News, tips, how to, offers, question and using numbers are all good opens. Try to keep it short and to the point (aim for under 10 words) but most importantly make sure it accurately reflects the actual content of your email.

Visually appealing: Including photos and  images is a great way to engage the audience. We are naturally visual learners so using images that support your content are a great way to capture your audience’s attention and conveying meaning instantly.

Proof read: Spelling and grammar mistakes can look sloppy and reflect badly on your business.  Always proof read everything a couple of times over prior to dispatch.

8.Personalisation

If you can, try to personalise your emails. Dear ‘Jane‘ will have a stronger impact and higher response rate than no greeting or a general hello. According to HubSpot personalised emails improve click-through rates by 14% and conversion rates by 10%.

Most email software tools can happily add in automated personalisation so if possible personalise all your email communications. When you are building your database aim to collect first and last name fields from your prospects. This takes us back to point 5. Incentivising your data capture will help you get fuller contact details.

9. Cross promotion

Taking an integrated approach to your marketing should yield stronger results. Cross promoting across all your channels is a great way to reinforce your message and strengthen your brand – just ensure you remain consistent. Email newsletters are a particularly good tool for cross promotions. For example:

  • Provide links to your all social media platforms – Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Google+ etc.
  • Promote your blog posts.
  • Drive traffic back to your site with links to relevant content
  • Cross promote giveaways, offers and competitions

cross promote marketing channels10 . Legislation

And finally but most importantly, make sure you don’t fall foul of the law by keeping on top of  email legislation. If you are UK based then familiarise yourself with the Data Protection Act 1998 and Privacy and Electronic Communications regulations Act. Not only that most email marketing services like MailChimp won’t accept your data unless you can ensure it’s ‘white hat”.

Implemented effectively email marketing offers small businesses a number of tangible benefits. I hope taking onboard the 10 tips outlined above will help you on your way to successful and fruitful email communications.

We’d love to hear your own thought and experiences on email marketing, so please do leave a comment