How to generate leads with 5 essential in-bound marketing techniques for small online businesses

Small business ecommerce lead generationInbound marketing is essentially about attracting people to your website using techniques such as SEO, content marketing, social media and email. For small businesses and ecommerce start-ups it can be particularly appealing as it doesn’t come with the hefty budget required by more traditional outbound marketing approaches like advertising or direct mail.

Inbound marketing delivers 54% more leads than traditional outbound marketing.

Small business and start-ups are unlikely to have an established customer base or a ready-to-use database at their fingertips.  In-bound marketing tactics can build awareness, create interest and consequently attract prospects to your website ready for you to nurture into leads and ultimately loyal customers.

Content ImageThe crux of successful inbound marketing is content. It is through the creation of valuable and engaging content that you can draw visitors to your website and showcase all that your business has to offer.

71% of B2B marketers are using content marketing to generate marketing leads

To get the content right for your business it is essential to do some background work first. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Who are you trying to target – who is your key audience? What sector or industry are they in?
  • What information is going to be of interest to them – what kind of content would they find helpful, useful, entertaining or engaging?
  • Where do they look for information – where are they currently getting their industry knowledge (e.g. competitors, organisations, social networks) and what places could you engage with them?

5 Key inbound marketing tactics

There are all-sorts of inbound-tactics you can use to generate leads and grow your business. In this article we just focusing on a few key in-bound techniques that will get you up and running and help attract visitors to your site. It is important to take a long-term approach to in-bound marketing. The benefits may take some time to come to fruition, but will be well worth the time and effort you put in.

1.SEO

Audiences use search engines to discover information and as a consequence search engines can bring a sizeable percentage of traffic to your website. Optimising your online presence to reflect the keywords and phrases relevant to your business and industry is essential if you want to move up the search engine rankings and be found by your target audience. I don’t for one minute suggest the practice of keyword stuffing, rather use keyword research to find the keywords and phrases that are meaningful to your prospective customers.  It is those keywords and phrases that should form the basis of creating engaging, relevant content for your target audience.

blogging2.Blogging

B2B companies that blog generate 67% more leads than those that don’t. 

Creating original, fresh, relevant blog posts for your site not only supports your SEO efforts, it draws new visitors to your site, helps build your brand personality, is highly sharable and provides added-value content for established customers.

Think too about guest blogging on other relevant industry sites. This opens your business up to a wider audience and creates links back to your site.

3. Visual content

The last few years have seen visual content literally explode in popularity. Introducing more visuals to your site is a great way to entice your target audience to your ecommerce business. We humans are naturally visual learners so it is no surprise that using visual content can have a greater impact that text alone.

  • Use inspiring and interesting photos and images to support your content.
  • Infographics.  People are 30 times more likely to read an infographic than a text-based piece of content. Infographics are a great way to convey ‘drier’ content such as research and statistics in an engaging format. There are a number of online tools such as Easel.ly and Piktochart that make it simple for you to create your own infographics using ready-made templates that won’t cost the earth to produce,
  • Video. People are naturally drawn to other people so videos are a great way to build a brand personality and put a face to your business. Implement an ‘ About Us’ or ‘Meet the Team’ video or try video blogging. You can also use video to help your convey complex information in a digestible format though Video Tutorials or How to Guides. And, interestingly, using videos on landing pages increase conversion by 86%

4. Email Marketing

Email is an essential part of the in-bound marketers’ toolkit. The added benefits for small businesses is that it is cost-effective, easy to measure and offers a healthy ROI. Use email marketing to communicate to your audience on a regular basis such as through a weekly or fortnightly newsletter. Email is a great way to build relationships and keep your business at the forefront of your audience’s mind. Offer links back to the valuable content on your site such as latest industry news, videos or your latest blog post.


Use Social media to build brand awareness5. Social Media

Utilise your social media platforms to drive your prospects to your online content such as your blog, news articles, video tutorials – in fact all the compelling content you have created.

Rather than taking a scatter gun approach to social media, focus your efforts on the key social media platforms where you customers are. For example if you own a craft store you are probably likely to find Facebook or Pinterest relevant.  Whereas B2B’s may generate more leads through platforms like LinkedIn or Twitter. Indeed,  44% of B2B marketers have generated leads through LinkedIn.

Converting visitors to prospects

Of course once you have enticed your target audience to your website and sparked their interest with all your compelling content, you need to try to convert them into leads by encouraging them to impart their contact information.

  • Optimise your website to make it simple for people to sign-up. Don’t ask for unnecessary information and ensure any forms they may have to complete are quick and straightforward. In the first case of getting people to sign up to your newsletter, a first name and email address will suffice.
  • Offer incentives. Valuable, desirable content such as white papers, eBooks, special offers and giveaways are a great way to get visitors to pass you their details. Rule of thumb – the more valuable the reward the more information you can gather.

Of course the next part of the journey is turning those leads into paying customers…!

We’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences using in-bound marketing techniques, so please do leave a comment

 

 

 

How to use online video to improve your content marketing

online video marketingThe last few years have seen online video literally explode onto the scene and its popularity doesn’t look like it is going to wane any time soon. Indeed somewhat mind-bogglingly, researchers predict that by 2019 it would take an individual 5 million years to watch the amount of video that will cross global IP networks each month.

Online video has become an increasingly important component of successful content marketing and as such it is something that all small online businesses should be thinking about incorporating into their online presence.

Interesting video statistics include:

  •  Website visitors are 64% more likely to buy a product after watching a video about it.
  • 7 billion videos are watched each and every day on Facebook and YouTube.
  • 4 times as many consumers would rather watch a video about a product than read about it.
  • 56% of consumers believe that if a company has a website, it should have video.
  • Posts with videos attract three times as many inbound links as plain text posts.
  • Globally, consumer internet video traffic will be 80% of all consumer internet traffic by 2019.
  • 55% of people watch videos online everyday.

Benefits for small businesses

At a time when we are drowning in online information, video can convey a message in a format that is easily digestible and naturally engaging. As a small business this can help you stand out from the crowd and get your message heard. In addition:

Low production costs. You no longer need a hefty budget or in-depth technical knowledge to produce high-quality videos. Some excellent videos have been put together using just a Smartphone.  Online video creation services such as Animoto, GoAnimate and Stupeflix offer reasonably priced business packages that enable even a complete beginner to quickly and easily put together professional-quality videos with their pictures and video clips.

Helps with SEO. Search engines love fresh relevant and original content as Video. Research has shown that websites with video content are 53 times more likely to rank on page one of Google.

Made for sharing. Videos are more likely to get shared than other content. Indeed, 92% of mobile video viewers share videos with others.

Build your brand personality.  Clever use of video can help bring personality to your business.  You can use it to develop an image of how you’d like your business to be perceived.

5 tips to improve online video content5 ways to enhance your online video content

To help improve your content marketing efforts we’ve come up with a few online video ideas to get you started.

1. Showcasing. Use video to showcase your products in real-life scenarios or situations. Your audience will get a better feel for a product which in turn gives them the added reassurance that what they see is what they will receive upon delivery. Many online clothing retailers use video to help reassure customers. For example take a look at how Boden uses video.

2. Demonstrating. Video is a great way to demonstrate how a particular product or service works. ‘How to Guides’ and tutorials can impart complex information in an easily digestible manner. Indeed 4 in 5 consumers say a video showing how a product or service works is important. Here at ShopIntegrator we use online video tutorials to help clients set up their online shops.

3. Personality building. Meet the team’ or ‘about us’ videos, are a great way to build brand personality. Take a look at Stella & Dot’s ‘Our Story’ video. They successfully use video to give their audience a real feel for the people behind the business and its brand values. A short 60 second video about what makes your business unique can be a really powerful sales tool.

4. Customer testimonials. Customer testimonials are a helpful tool in the sales conversion process, they add credibility to your business and offer customer added reassurance about potential purchasing decisions. Whilst text only testimonials are fine, think about capturing some testimonials from your customers on video. Videos are more engaging and visitors will get a better understanding of the kind of business you are from your customer community.

5. Online advertising. Don’t forget about using video in your online advertising. Online display advertising is rapidly on the up with Forrester predicting spending will nearly double by 2019. This rise will be primarily driven by video advertising. Research indicates that consumers are very receptive to video advertising and are 27 times more likely to click-through on online video ads than standard banner advertisements.

share videos on social media
Top tips for successful online videos

And finally, we’ll leave you with a few helpful tips to ensure successful online video content.

  • Try to keep your videos as short and sweet  as possible. Nearly 2/3 of people prefer videos of under 60 seconds so aim to keep them as short and as informative as you can.
  • Always go for quality over quantity. It is better to produce fewer, relevant and well executed videos than churning out lots of unprofessional, immaterial offerings
  • The beauty of video is its shareability.  People like sharing videos so make sure you make it easy for people to do so by including social sharing buttons. Try also including  a clear call to action such as ‘If you enjoyed this video please share it with your friends’.
  • Post and promote your videos content on a variety of platforms. Social media is the perfect environment for video sharing. Indeed, since June 2014 Facebook has averaged more than 1 billion video views every day. And, from January this year iPhone and Android Twitter users can actually capture, edit and share videos of up to 30 seconds duration on Twitter.
  • Use video links in your email communications. Not only are you promoting your videos, your emails are more likely to get opened if they include a video. In fact, customers are nearly 50% more likely to read email newsletters that include links to video.
  • Spend time on your title. Your video title is important. In the same way you would take time to craft a good headline, create a strong, relevant title for your video using appropriate keywords.
  • Always keep you audience in mind. When you are creating your video content, just like any other content marketing, remember your audience. Think about what information will be of interest to them. What would they like to see?
  • Include your URL. Use your video to drive traffic to your site by including your business’ URL in both the video and your video’s description. . Remember people will be viewing your video on a multitude of different screens so make sure it can be viewed equally well no matter the device. In fact, are now on mobile devices
  • Multi-device friendly. Remember people will be viewing your video on a multitude of different screens so make sure it can be viewed equally well no matter the device. In fact, half of all YouTube views are now on mobile devices.

As a small business owner, you really can’t afford not to include video in your content marketing in some shape or form. It is far more accessible now and doesn’t cost the earth to produce professional, high quality video.  Hopefully we’ve given you a bit of inspiration and some helpful tips to get you started.

We’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences on using online video content, so please do feel free to leave a comment. 

 

 

How to build a successful Twitter presence for your small online business

twitter for small businessWith 302 million monthly active users, Twitter still has plenty to offer small businesses. It’s a great tool for promoting awareness, driving traffic to your site, generating sales, engaging with customers and building your brand personality. Of course, as with any social media platform, in order to be successful you need to be following best practice and have set yourself clear goals. Otherwise you could be investing valuable time and effort with little to show in return.

What do you want to achieve?

Twitter can successfully work as part of a wider integrated marketing strategy. According to small business research, 60% of respondents have purchased from small and medium businesses because of Twitter.

But to be successful it is important that you define and prioritise your goals.  If you’re busily tweeting away with no clear sense of purpose the benefits are unlikely to match the time and effort you may be putting in.

So think about what your key business objectives are. For example are you looking to:

  • Build followers.
  • Increase engagement amongst target audience.
  • Grow awareness of your brand.
  • Generate sales leads.
  • Drive traffic to your site.

The clearer your are about what it is you want to achieve the more focused you can be in your approach to your Twitter activities.

We’ve put together some easy to implement best practice tips to help you make the most of your Twitter presence.

Getting off to a good start

If you’re not already using Twitter then getting off to a good start is important. Once you’ve signed up you’ll need to create your username (also known as your Twitter handle). For example ours is @shopintegrator. Then you’ll create a profile bio, add a profile pic – these should succinctly reflect your business. Next its time to start looking for the right people to follow – which of course will be dependent upon the industry and business you are in.

Check out Twitter’s own business resource Twitter For Business. You’ll find plenty of useful advice to get you off to a confident start.

Tweeting essentials

  • Include the Twitter ‘Follow Us’ button on your website.
  • Tweet regularly but ensure it is something worth sharing.
  • Keep your brand’s personality and voice consistent in your Tweets.
  • Don’t make it all about you. Share links and retweet anything that will be of interest to your followers.
  • Don’t use up all your 140 characters. You’ll want to leave enough room for people retweet.
  • Use hashtags but don’t go mad. One or two per tweet is probably about right.
  • Recycle your best tweets with some re-wording. Research shows that a repeated tweet can get as much as 86% performance as the original tweet.
  • Promote your Twitter username online and offline

visual contant on TwitterIncrease your visual content

As visual content becomes increasingly important within social media, try to include more images and photos in your Tweets. According to HubSpotTweets with images receive 18% more clicks, 89% more favorites and 150% more retweets – so it’s definitely one to think about. Remember though, when you are posting images they count as a link and so will automatically use up 22 characters.  Keep your tweets extra concise to allow for re-tweeting.

Videos are also a great way to capture and engage an audience. Since January this year iPhone and Android Twitter users can actually capture, edit and share videos of up to 30 seconds duration on Twitter.

Share interesting and varied content

Twitter isn’t just about relentlessly pushing your own agenda. You need to mix up your content so it is varied and interesting. If you’re stuck here are a few ideas to get your creative juices flowing:

  • Eye-catching images and videos.
  • Links to your blog articles.
  • Latest industry news and titbits.
  • Behind the scenes peeks at your business photos.
  • Funny and inspiring quotes.
  • Start conversations by posing questions.
  • Product launches.
  • Industry statistics.
  • Latest trends.
  • Ask advice.
  • Share tips and recommendations.

Social on TwitterBe social

“80% of your Tweets should focus on driving interactions with your followers, such as retweets, replies, and favourites.” Twitter for Business

Central to your Twitter success is building a genuine rapport with your followers. Try using Twitter’s 80/20 ratio. Don’t just bombard your followers with tweets that push your businesses products and services. 80% of your tweets should be sharing links, retweeting and joining conversations.

You are trying to show the person behind  your business so always take a friendly and positive approach to your interactions.

Measure your performance

Don’t just tweet merrily away without taking a step back to analyse your performance. Twitter Analytics is worth spending some time getting familiar with. The Twitter dashboard can give you all sorts of interesting information about how you are doing. For example:

  • At a glance 28 day summary: Tweets sent, profile visit, mentions, new followers, top tweet, top mention and top followers.
  • Tweets: Impressions, engagement, retweets, replies and link clicks.
  • Follower insights. Interests, location, gender and who your followers are following.

Digging a bit deeper into how you are performing and getting to know who is following you will enable you to better focus your Twitter efforts.

Following best practice and implementing even just some of the tips we’ve talked about will help your business get more out of Twitter. We’d love to hear your own thoughts and experiences on Twitter so please do leave a comment.

5 E-Commerce Lessons to Learn From Walt Disney World

A visit to a Disney theme park – any one of them around the world – is one of those long cherished childhood dreams that nearly every kid who know Mickey Mouse has harbored. Why kids, I know a lot of adults who still look forward with bated breath to a trip to the ‘happiest place on earth’.

A big part of the magic of Disney’s theme parks comes from the magic of their movies. Our association of the Disney brand with carefree, childhood hours spent watching the Sunday morning cartoons automatically makes it a place we treasure. Disney movies, however sappy, have a way of resonating with audiences across age barriers. However, that’s only part of the story. The majority of the charm that Disney Parks hold, lies in the masterful marketing strategies that Disney has developed and mastered into a fine art, over the years.

If there’s one brand that I would want to learn marketing from, it’d be Disney. It’s happy, it’s aspirational, it’s addictive and most importantly, profitable. Instead of gushing on and on about Disney and their spectacular marketing, I think it’ll be more interesting to reconfigure my understanding of Disney’s magic to the e-commerce domain. So, here goes!

1. The Devil is in the Details

While designing their e-commerce sites, most entrepreneurs zero in on a template that suits them best and then replicate the template across webpages all across the site. The trouble with this cookie cutter approach is that we often overlook little things that make all the difference between good and great user experience.

Take Disney’s parks for example. The management goes to extraordinary lengths to manage every tiny detail of their sprawling theme parks and resorts. ‘Hidden Mickeys’ that pop up around the theme parks and resorts is something every true Disney fan-boy tries to unearth. There’s even a whole website dedicated to unearthing hidden Mickeys! Chuck Rylant recalls noticing Mickey Mouse ears at the unlikeliest of places all over the Disney Resort he and his family stayed at. From bathroom faucet handles to lamps to the top of the shampoo bottles in their hotel room, everything was shaped like Mickey ears.

Mickey Mouse pancakes at a Disney park resortMickey Mouse pancakes at a Disney park resort

Takeaway: Mickey Mouse is the very heart of Disney and its theme parks. It’s their most identifiable icon and they get the maximum mileage out of it. Do the same with your e-commerce site. Pick an icon or a signature theme that can be used or adapted in different ways across your site. It doesn’t even have to be imagery. Use microcopy that amuses and helps out simultaneously in your web forms or your tool tips to make the experience of navigating your site and completing a purchase a tad easier and a lot more entertaining.

2. Appeal to Your Customer’s Emotional Side

If you had to use pure logic to plan a wedding you probably would not opt to throw a lavish party for hundreds of people you barely know and spend thousands of your hard earned money on one-time things like a fancy suite or a designer wedding dress. But you go ahead and do it because you’re swept away in the emotion of it all.

Ditto with Disney’s theme parks. The average cost of four member family vacation to any of Disney’s theme parks can pay for a small car. But you still go ahead and do it, because Disney convinces you that you’re going to have the best time of your lives on this trip. Disney taps into this wellspring of nostalgia, happiness and voila, you fork over ridiculous amounts of money to go to a theme park. Emotions win over rational thought.

A toddler being swept off her feet by Mickey MouseA toddler being swept off her feet by Mickey Mouse

Takeaway: Your e-commerce site may not have the huge emotional equity that Disney already enjoys with its target audience, but you definitely have the advantage of knowing that tapping into your users’ emotions will get you to their wallets. If your audience is eco-conscious, you’re assured of an emotional connection by offering eco-friendly packaging material for shipping their purchases even at a slight premium. Appeal to the right emotion for the right target audience. When you strike the right emotional chord, your cash register will make some very pretty music!

3. Consistency is Key

How frustrating is it when your sliced bread simply refuses to fit into your toaster’s standard sized slot, right when you’re in a tearing hurry to get to work. After a few vile curses to the bakery that decided to get ‘creative’ with the thickness of their bread, you vow to switch to a brand that makes standard sized bread loaves to save yourself future agony. That’s just a small example of what happens when consistency is thrown to the winds. In spite of all our claims to individuality and uniqueness, consistency in everyday things keeps us grounded and soothes our way through life.

This is an area Disney truly excels at. From the costumes its cast members wear in the theme parks to the way each cast member stays completely in character even when doing something mundane like giving directions to the way the exact same experience gets served to a completely new set of over-excited guests to even the clockwork precision with which long queues form at every ride without fail (!), consistency is a lesson that Disney lives breathes every single moment.

The Mouseketeers circa 1955The Mouseketeers circa 1955

Takeaway: We discussed earlier about how once the design and layout of a site is fixed, very little changes. However simply carrying forward the same look for all your webpages is not enough. A great e-commerce experience extends beyond your website alone. Every moment-of-truth that your brand has with the customer can be made consistent with your overall brand guidelines and personality. From your order confirmation email that carries forward your website’s design aesthetics to packaging material that bears a throwback to your site to a customer care representative who greets users with your signature welcome line to your social media voice that amplifies your brand personality; each step should reflect the same look and feel for that true ‘wow’ factor.

4. Don’t Forget the Human (Mousey?) Touch

One of the most common pictures that any family album from a trip to Disneyland is a picture with Mickey, Minnie or any of the hundreds of cast members dotting the park. There are even special events at many Disney parks where guests can pay to have share a meal with Mickey and gang. While you may have to wait for hours in queue for your favorite ride, most days your request for a quick handshake, hug or even photo-op with a cast member is fulfilled instantly. This simple fact reflects the extent to which Disney emphasizes the human touch in their parks. The frustration of waiting forever for a ride simply evaporates when Snow White plants a big kiss on your toddler’s cheek and poses with her for a once in a lifetime picture.

A guest gets a personal wave from every cast member at closing hoursA guest gets a personal wave from every cast member at closing hours

These personal touches don’t end at the park gates. When you walk into a reservation at Disney’s resorts, the staff doesn’t need an introduction from you. They already know who you are and where you’re coming from. Chances are, you’ll even get a personalized greeting complete with your name as you first walk in the doors. How’s that for human touch? After service like that, you’ll be spoilt for every non-Disney hotel you’ll book for the next decade at least.

Takeaway: Just because your customers can’t see your face but only your website doesn’t stop you from adding human touches to your site. Offer a personalized greeting when a signed in customer arrives on your site to instantly offer an element of surprise and happiness. Show returning customers items similar to what they browsed for last or items complementary to items they bought last. This tells users that you remember them as people and not just as credit card numbers. Another easy way to extend that human touch is to offer live chat support when a user dawdles for too long on a product page or in the middle of the checkout process.

5. Don’t be Shy to Upsell. Disney isn’t

Most e-commerce sites are simply thankful that the customer finally completed their checkout process and finally bought something, instead of simply window shopping. The thought of complicating matters by trying to get the customer to buy a more expensive version of their chosen product or even pushing them into buying accessories and other paraphernalia for the product that they just bought can be rather daunting.

But trust Disney parks to be right on the money when it comes to upsell and cross-sell. Book a trip to a Disney park online and you’ll soon enough start getting emails nudging you to upgrade to better tickets that will help you jump the queue at rides, book a nicer hotel room at the resort attached to the theme park and so on.

Frontierland Stores at Disneyland ParksFrontierland Stores at Disneyland Parks

The price you pay for the entry into Mickey Mouse’s kingdom is just the tip of the iceberg. Once you walk through those gates, there are stores selling little (mostly useless) trinkets and movie merchandise at every step. At the end of every ride, you literally walk through a toy store themed around the ride you just took. How any parent gets out of these without buying something for their nagging kids is a miracle to me.

Takeaway: One of the most under-done, yet most easily doable activity on e-commerce sites is upselling items to a customer who’s already buying a particular item. If Disney’s upsell and cross sell strategies don’t impress you enough, I’m sure e-commerce behemoth Amazon’s attempts will be more up your alley. Not only do they immediately offer a complementary item on the product page itself, they also offer more items similar to the one being viewed on the product page. The thank you page often carries a cross-sell message prompting viewers to buy complementary items and so on. It doesn’t end with the purchase. Even after you buy an item, you’ll get emails from Amazon reminding you of exclusive deals on the products that are similar to what you bought last.

In Conclusion

I began this post by trying to derive insights from Disney’s masterful marketing to apply them to an e-commerce setting. I also resolved that I’d stop gushing like a Disney fan-boy. However, by the end of this post, you’ve probably realized that fan-boys can be recognized from a mile away and I’m definitely guilty as charged. If only I could transpose those Disney marketing smarts to my business and I’d be a happy camper!

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

How to spring clean your small business website with 7 top tips to optimise your online presence

website spring cleanTime to spring clean your website?

When was the last time you put specific time aside to review and improve your website?  When first setting up a website a huge amount of time and effort goes into its design and function. However, once up and running smoothly we tend to breathe a sigh of relief and get on with all the other demands associated with a small business. It’s all too easy to get complacent and before you realise a significant amount of time has lapsed without any proper review taking place.

In the world of business nothing stands still for long so it is essential your website evolves and develops to accurately reflect the current environment.  It is essential you put proper time aside to take a fresh, objective look at your website, rid yourself of out-of-date content and implement any necessary improvements.

Revisit the core principles of a successful website

Creating a positive and engaging online experience for your customer is at the heart of a successful website. So when you are giving your site an overview it is a good idea to revisit some of the key elements of good website design. You probably considered most of these when you initially set up your website however they provide a solid base from which to start your review.  As it currently stands does your website tick all of the following boxes?

Navigation. Is it easy for visitors to navigate your website?  Are they able to find the information they are looking for within a few simple clicks?

Design and layout. Does your website make a good first impression? Are your pages simple, clear and visually appealing?

Usability.  How quickly does your website load? Can a customer to complete a specific action easily?

Credibility. Does your website have enough trust signposts to make a visitor feel secure about completing a transaction or imparting personal information?

Accessibility. Can your website be viewed equally well from a mobile, tablet or desktop? Is your website accessible to everyone irrespective of any disabilities they may have?

Content. Is you content up-to-date, relevant and engaging to your target audience and does it accurately reflect your business?

 7 topID-10031660 tips to make the most of your online presence

75% of users admit to making judgments about a company’s credibility based on their website’s design

1. Out with the old. Nothing is more off-putting to a visitor than information that is out-of-date. It shrieks unprofessional and does little to enhance the credibility of your site. Have a thorough read through of all your content and check everything is current and correct. For example check for:

  • Broken links
  • Pricing
  • Policies – such as terms and conditions or delivery and returns
  • Expired discount codes and vouchers

Update or get rid of any information that is out of date or no longer relevant.

2. Focus on content. As we’ve said many-a-time content is central to the success of your website and critical to how you are viewed by search engines. So it is important to objectively review yContent Imageour existing content:

  • Is your content still relevant to your target audience and will it engage them?
  • Have you included a good mix of relevant and natural keywords and key-phrases (absolutely do not keyword or key phrase stuff – neither visitors or search engines will appreciate it)
  • Is it concise, clear and to the point?
  • Does it accurately reflect your business?
  • What needs updating and what could be improved?
  • Look for any gaps in content. For example do you have enough visual content such as images and videos? 

3. Is your website search engine optimised? Make sure you are doing all you can to make your website inviting to search engines. If you have lots of pages it can be easy to forget to add-in search engine friendly information on each page. So it’s worth going through and checking any pages you’ve missed or that could be improved.  Part of Search Engine Optimisation involves making lots of small adjustments to individual pages to make it easier for search engines to understand the content of your website. We mentioned keywords and key phrases earlier, but also look at:

Page Titles. These usually appears in the first line of  a search engine’s results page. Ensure your title tags accurately reflect the content of each individual page. Try to keep them short, relevant and to the point.

Description Meta Tags. These give the search engines and users an overview of your page. They are usually a short paragraph containing one or two sentences. Have a unique description for each page and try to make them informative and interesting.

URL’s. Your URL’s should be relevant to the content of each page and should be simple for search engines and users to understand.

For further reading on SEO checkout these two excellent free resources:

4. What are your analytics telling you? Web analytics are there to help you so use them. For example you may notice some pages may have a significantly higher bounce rate than expected. This may indicate a problem so it needs to be investigated. It could be that the content may not be relevant, the page may be confusing or there is no obvious call to action. You can then address the problem and implement the necessary changes.

visual content on social media5. Is your website multi-device friendly? You may have a fantastic website but does it view equally well on any device? Remember 80% of internet users now own a smartphone. A successful online presence includes being able to offer a positive user experience so ensure your small business website is accessible to everyone no matter the device they are using.

If you’re not already set up consider responsive design. This essentially adapts your website to fit the device on which it is being viewed without having to create a numerous device specific websites.

6. Curb appeal.  Make your website as visually appealing as possible to users. Go through each page and check that the layout is straightforward and the page looks clean and clutter free. Research indicates that white space is good and relevant supporting visuals are essential.

7. In with the new. Having reviewed your online offering and implemented any of the necessary changes, have a think about what else you can add to further enhance your small business’ online presence. Are there any obvious gaps in content?  For example try:

  • Setting up a blog
  • Adding in customer reviews and testimonials
  • Growing your visual content such as including more video’s and infographics

Check out other successful websites, both competitors and non-competitors, it’s a great way to get ideas and inspiration.

These are just a few ways to help ensure your small business website remains successful in terms of both user experience and search engine optimisation. Do try to put specific time aside for giving your website a review and remember regular checking really will help you keep on top of things.

We’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences on reviewing your online presence, so do please leave a comment.

Success image courtesy of scottchan at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

5 indispensable tips small businesses can implement to create a successful blog post

blogging tips for small businessWhen executed well blogging can be a great asset to small online businesses. But what is it that makes a blog successful? We take a look at how to create an effective blog post for your e-commerce site with some indispensable best practice advice and helpful tips on how to generate content (great for when you are a bit short on ideas).

“Small businesses that embrace blogging see 126% more growth in terms of leads than those that don’t blog.”

Setting up a blog for your online business can initially be a bit daunting and you will need to invest time and resources in its ongoing management. However the many benefits blogging can bring makes it well worth the effort.

So what turns an ‘all-right’ post to an excellent blog post? Take a look at our tips below to find out how you can improve your blog offerings.

1. Create engaging content

Just blogging away isn’t enough. You need to think about how to create engaging content – content that your target market will be interested in reading. Whatever you do don’t just churn out reams of posts about your products. Your blog is not the environment to aggressively promote your businesses products or services. It should be about creating sharable content that is relevant to your industry and of value to your target audience. Take a look at notonthehighstreet.com’s blog. They provide interesting and lively posts relevant to their customers.

Variety is important so try an assortment of themes such as;

  • How to guides
  • Best practice tips
  • Top ten lists
  • Infographics
  • Industry news, facts and statistics
  • Forthcoming trends
  • Reader / client case studies

A blog is a great way to build your brand personality so a good tip is to write as you would talk. Remember you are trying to build a relationship with your readers so be natural and personable.

email newsletter content ideas2. How to generate fresh content and new ideas

Engaging content is all well and good but what happens when you feel you’ve run out of ideas or have writers block? There are lots of ways you can keep generating great content. For example;

  • Competitors: Check out the topics your competitors are writing about. See how you can improve on it or approach the topic from a different angle.
  • Scribble down ideas: Often your best ideas come to you when you least expect. I try to jot ideas down as and when they come to me so I have some topic ideas up my sleeve when needed.
  • Turn one post into a series: Rather than writing a long blog on one topic see if it lends itself to be turned into a series. Breakdown a large area into several bite-sized posts.
  • Guest blogs: Accepting guest blogs can be a good way to get some additional content on your site. But do just make sure that any guest blogs you accept are from legitimate sources delivering high quality content and value to your audience. It’s a good idea to have content guidelines in place such as not allowing any unrelated links (for example sales links) in the body of the text.
  • Hubspot’s blog topic generator: If you’re really stuck then try using a tool like Hubspot’s Blog Topic Generator. It takes just seconds, simply fill in a couple of broad terms and it will come up with a list of relevant topic titles.
  • Ask your customers. Find out from your customers the kind of topics they would be interested in reading.

research blog content3. Use research to create credible blog posts

It is really important that you take the time to research your topic.  A well researched blog post will stand out and give you and your business more credibility. Use evidence such as facts, quotes and statistics to support your content. Do credit your references and include links back to the source – just make sure you open them in a new window.  I recently came across a great article that gives you some excellent tips on how to approach researching your blog – How to Research Blog Topics: A Step-by-Step process. Definitely worth a look if you’re writing regular blog articles.

Spend some time thinking about the keywords and phrases you want to target in your article. Consider what search terms your target audience might use to find information about your topic area and include them in the post. I don’t mean overstuffing your article with keywords or phrases as this will just reflect badly on your article but adding a couple of well-chosen key phrases in the body of your text will help keep you focused and your article honed-in on the topic in hand.

4. Include visuals – they make a big difference 

visual content The majority of us are visual learners. Indeed visual content makes up 93% of all human communication.  Including images in your blog article makes a significant difference to the effectiveness of your post. A good visual will capture your audience’s attention and make your article far more visually appealing.

Articles with images get 94% more total views 

Of course not just any old image will do.  Your image should be relevant to the topic being discussed or used to support a point you are making. Try to be creative and don’t  just churn out the same old stock photo everyone has seen before. There are lot a great sites you can source interesting images such as: Shutterstock, Dreamtimes, istockphoto.

There are also free image sites such as freedigitalphotos.  You don’t need to pay for these images but you will need to include an attribution to the author and website when you use the image. Alternatively sites like Pixabay offer interesting images that are in the public domain and fine to use for commercial purposes with no attribution required.

5. Presentation is essential

How your post looks is important . No matter how great the content, if the presentation looks poor then people simply won’t take the time to stop and read your article. Long reams of text are uninviting. So break your post up into scannable, bite-sized chunks. Don’t be afraid of segmenting text with:

  • Sub headings
  • bullet points
  • Lists
  • Bolded text
  • Quotes
  • Statistics
  • Images

Headline. Your headline is important so take the time to craft it. It needs to be attention grabbing so incorporate keywords and compelling adjectives. Keep it to the point and ensure your headline accurately reflects the content of the post.  If you’re a bit stuck, I came across a great post suggesting the ultimate headline formula as:

Numbers + Adjective + Target Keyword + Rational + Promise

Finally, before you publish take the time to check your post for spelling and grammatical errors.

Hopefully we’ve give you a few tips on how to optimise your posts to engage your audience and stand out from the crowd. Of course there are plenty more things you can do to make the most out of your blogging so if you’ve got some more tips then we’d love you to share them below. Happy blogging! 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

9 E-commerce Email Marketing Campaigns for Your Online Store

We’ve all received those completely pointless, repetitive and uninspiring emails from e-commerce companies, insurance firms, banks, telephone companies, the works. Nine times out of ten, we don’t even bother opening any of them. In my case, most just get marked as spam without another glance. I suspect I’m not the only one.

And yet, we keep hearing these compelling statistics about email marketing. About how it’s the best converting tool in a marketer’s toolkit. About how it’s the most powerful tool to build relationships over the long term. About how it beats social media hollow in terms of ROI dollar to dollar.

So what is stopping your online store from being one of these email marketing converts? Here’s a sampling of e-commerce businesses that are proving the naysayers wrong with the creativity of their email marketing. Let’s take a look.

1. Welcome with Open Arms

Who doesn’t like to feel a little welcome the first time they transact with a new business? A welcome mail is such a simple and effective tactic to build that first connection with your user that it amazes me how few brands invest their time into setting these up.

All you need to do is set up an automated email that gives a shout out to a new user welcoming them into your fold. It helps if the welcome mail can offer the user key details about their account with you or offers tips and tricks on how to benefit from using your product.

Welcome with Open Arms

The email above from SlideShare is a great example of how welcome emails should be done. It’s personalized (makes the user feel special already), it tells the user about how she can use SlideShare and finally it reinforces a sense of being part of a larger community. Nicely done.

2. Cross-Sell and Upsell Emails

So you’ve made your first sale. Good for you!

Now, why not go back to the same user who has clearly shown their affinity towards you once and get them to buy again? Seems like a logical thing to do. And yet…

Instead of sending your new customers the same old standard newsletter that every single one of your 500 or 5,000 or 50,000 users get; send them something that actually speaks to them. Send them handpicked products that directly complement their original purchase. A shoe maintenance kit for someone who bought shoes, a cellphone case to someone who just bought a cellphone, you get the idea.

Cross-Sell and Upsell Emails

Alternately, you can interest a new user in an upgrade to their original purchase by throwing in a superb unbeatable deal. Two things to keep in mind here. One, make sure your upsell doesn’t happen minutes after the original sale. Two, the offer that you make must necessarily be an exclusive one that they would never be able to get otherwise.

3. Request User Reviews

One of the key factors that help in making an e-commerce sale is the number and quality of customer reviews for the products that you sell. User reviews are trusted way more than all your marketing jargon combined and are a must have for any site that’s serious about selling.

Request User Reviews

Set up automated emails requesting users for reviews to be sent out to within a week of the user receiving your product in the mail. The review request mail should have a direct click through link inside the email that leads the user to the reviews page. Even better, if you can allow users to write a review within your email itself and post it online directly; a la Amazon. Whatever method you choose, just remember to make the process of leaving behind a review a complete no-brainer. The easier the process, the more reviews you’ll gather.

4. Abandoned Cart Email

Nearly 68% of all shopping carts are abandoned by online shoppers every single day. That’s trillions of dollars in potential sales, LOST FOREVER.

Break out of this cycle of attracting users to your site and then losing them to competition, by setting up your own abandoned cart rehab program.

The idea is to send users a reminder of what they left behind ‘unshopped’ in their carts with a timely reminder email like the one from ModCloth below. What I especially like about this one is the fact that they included the actual item from the shopping cart in their email. This prods the user into action by tempting them with an item they liked anyway. The copy in the email also makes sure that the user feels a sense of urgency without feeling pressured into making a purchase.

Abandoned Cart Email

An abandoned cart recovery email program typically needs at least two rounds of emails to be really effective. The first email like the one above reminds the user about what they left behind in your shopping cart. The follow up email – sent typically a couple of days after the first one – should offer the user an incentive to complete the purchase.

These emails cost next to nothing and help you target a staggering 70% of the people who landed on your site, tried to make a purchase by changed their minds for some reason. Go get ‘em tiger!

5. Reminder Email

You’ll think I’m being repetitive here, but hear (read?) me out. By reminder mails, I’m referring to those thoughtful little emails that remind you about such silly things as an upcoming payment, a subscription renewal date, a meeting or appointment that you set up and so on. Google Inbox, anyone?

Reminder Email

Reminder emails pre-empt the user from straying away from your brand by renewing their subscriptions on time or by ensuring they engage with your brand as planned (see the KISSMetrics example above). So they prevent churn and increase engagement, what’s not to love about them?

6. Emails for ‘Seriously’ Special Occasions

We’ve all received emails from random businesses that have our date of birth wishing us a ‘Happy Birthday’ or getting Christmas greetings from more people than your inbox can handle. What happens to most of them? You’re right, straight to the trashcan they go.

For a change, stop being such a cliche and send out emails for occasions when you have no competition, occasions where your email stands out. Send an email for your customer’s first anniversary with your brand. That’s got to be pretty unique, right? Send out an email for World Environment Day. Or International Women’s Day. Or whatever else relates to both your brand and your customer. A quirky image that really grabs the eyeballs is a good investment in your ‘special occasion’ emails.

And don’t worry, those pictures don’t always have to cost a fortune. A copyright-free resource like IM Free offers businesses thousands of professional images that you can modify and re-use under an open Creative Commons license.

The idea is connect with the user on special occasions – occasions when they least expect it, occasions that help your brand stand out.

Emails for Special Occasions

And if you DO have to go down that cheesy route of birthday emails, make sure that your email gives your customer something truly special like Payless does in their email above; not just a measly ‘Happy Birthday’!

7. Note from the CEO

This is SUCH low hanging fruit, that it’s truly amazing why more companies don’t use it. A note from the CEO or Chairman of a company – any company – to an individual customer tells him that he’s important. It tells him that the company knows about him personally and takes an interest in him on a one on one basis. It’s not surprising then, that emails with subject lines like ‘Note from our CEO’ get far better open rates than business as usual emails.

BestBuy sends a note from their CEO Hubert Joly as a means of reaching out to a lapsed customer. The email takes on the role of a personal letter trying to convince the user to buy from BestBuy once again. A signature and a headshot along with a personalized salutation at the beginning of the email complete the effect.

Note from the CEO

Remember, this is a one-off tool that you can use for high impact activities. Sending out a letter from the CEO every week dilutes the weight of the email and makes it just another email that heads straight to trash.

8. Ask for Referrals

The list of companies that have grown from zero to millions of subscribers on the back of a strong referral program is legendary. Research has shown over and over again that recommendations from family and friends is the strongest influencer in making a purchase for the largest majority of customers. A referral program taps into two things to get a new customer.

  1. The greed of the referrer for the goodies offered as a referral reward AND
  2. The trust that the referred customer has in the recommendation of his friends and family

A recent example of a referral program that was a runaway success is DropBox. Visakan Veeraswamy describes the meteoric rise of DropBox through its referral program alone. The company grew from 100,000 users to 4 million users in little over a year. The smart thing about DropBox’s referral strategy was the incentive it chose to give out for every referral. Customers who brought in a friend into the DropBox fold were rewarded with more storage space, thus increasing their current usage of the service automatically.

Ask for Referrals

In the referral email above, Harry’s doesn’t just offer the user a one-time referral reward. They create a timeline for the referrer showing them the incremental gains to be had each time they keep referring more and more customers to their site. What a great way to turn an existing customer into an affiliate marketer on the sly!

9. Get a Quick Sales Boost

OK, so let’s admit it. Some days are so bad, all you need to see is that cash register go ring-a-ding-a-ding to put a smile on your face. Nothing beats an email with a generous coupon for instant gratification of the e-commerce kind.

While you may send out special offers and deals every now and then with your regular newsletters to your subscribers, you can opt for an email only coupon that beats any other offer out there hollow. The idea is to generate revenue and generate it FAST.

Quick Sales Boost

Take a look at the Old Navy email above. While they do talk about their regular deals and offers, the crux of this email is clear. There is a ‘one day only’ offer that is the spotlight of this email with a discount so deep, it’s irresistible. This discount combined with the limited time period of the offer make this email a winner in terms of instant sales.

In Conclusion

E-commerce marketers like you and me need not spend thousands of dollars every month on platforms whose returns are nebulous at best, like social media. In the process, we often tend to miss out on the low hanging fruit like email marketing. Make 2015 the year of zero missed opportunities. Make it the year of smart email marketing!

Further Reading:

Email Marketing Genius: 18 Rockstar Brands That Got Their Email Voice Right

Beyond the Basics: 4 Creative Email Experiments You Should Try

How small business ecommerce can improve their online content

Website sign postAs a small business owner how can you improve your online content?

Quality content plays a crucial part in the success of your ecommerce business and as such, it should be right at the heart of all your online activity. Good content should be the foundation of your marketing practice, search engine optimisation, web design and your customers’ online experience. Poor, ill-thought-out content can be a real barrier to online purchasing.

Despite its importance, we can all get a bit complacent with our online content and forget that it needs updating and refreshing on a regular basis. If you review and update  your content frequently then fantastic but, if like most small business owners, you are constantly juggling multiple roles and tasks, then finding time to review and plan content can be a challenge.

However if you can manage to schedule some time in your diary to follow some of the content suggestions we’ve outlined in this blog then it will genuinely save you time and money in the long run. Don’t forget quality content is at the core of a successful online presence – do it well and it will make all the activities that follow far more effective.  So, put some proper time aside to review your current online content and ways you can improve on it.

SEOSEO – customers should drive your content efforts.

“Creating compelling and useful content will likely influence your website more than any of the other factors discussed“ Google Search Engine Optimisation Starter Guide

Interesting, relevant and fresh content is not only what will bring customers to your online business and keep them coming back it is the back bone of search engine optimisation (SEO). As far as SEO is concerned the practice of keyword and key-phrase stuffing are well and truly over. Search engines are looking for quality content that is relevant to your market. The best way of creating just such content is to keep your customers in mind. Ask yourself –

  • What will my customers find interesting?
  • What content is relevant to my business?
  • What information is my customer looking for?
  • What information do they need to make a purchasing decision?

“Develop great content” may be the most oft-repeated suggestion in the SEO world. Despite its clichéd status, though, this is sound advice. Appealing, useful content is crucial to search engine optimisation….Crafting fulfilling, thorough content that addresses searchers’ needs improves your chance to earn top rankings.”  MOZ Beginners Guide to SEO.

Planning start pointThinking about your content in terms of your customers needs is essential.

Where to start?

Before you launch yourself into all sorts of new and exciting content ideas – you first need to get the foundations right. This means reviewing your current offering, setting goals and objectives , identifying content gaps and putting a plan in place. This will better help you understand the content needs of your business and provide you with a solid and realistic base for future content. It also means you are more likely to get it right!

Where are you now? Review your current offering

Take a long objective look at the content of your website.  Be honest with yourself and try to be unbiased (if you’re worried that you can’t see the woods for the tress then get someone you trust to review your content).

  • What are you current strengths and weaknesses?
  • What do you do well?
  • What could you do with a bit more of or less of?
  • Do you have a good balance of content? For example, is there too much lighthearted content and not enough informative content or vice versa.
  • Does your content read well?
  • Is your interesting and relevant to your customers?.
  • Have you had any feedback from customers – what would they like to see?

It is only by taking a really thorough look at what you currently offer that you can set yourself realistic objectives and identify any content gaps.

What do you want to achieve? Set yourself goals and objectives? What is it that you need your content to help you do? Are you looking to grow the traffic to your site, increase your sales conversion rates or rank higher in search engine results pages? Once you know your overall goals you can then set yourself some SMART content-related objectives.

Where are the gaps? What is your current content missing. Once you’ve reviewed your current offering you will better be able to identify content gaps. Think about the balance of content you have. For example is your content primarily entertainment – are there ways you can introduce some more informative content to your website. Conversely if you are business-to-business you may find informative and educational comes easily but you could do with a little more content that entertains.

Take a look at Smart Insights Content Matrix – it offers some excellent ideas to help you fill in some of those content gaps to give your business a better balance of online content.

How are you going to achieve your goals and objectives?  This is where you take all the information you have gleaned from above and put it into a workable content plan with a schedule of actions for the forthcoming year. If you have a content plan in place you are far more likely to stick to it and focus on achieving the actual objectives you have set out.

Content Image 6 practical tips for more effective online content

To get you started we’ve highlighted a few key areas you could  consider improving to help build your online content.

1.Product pages

Product pages can easily be overlooked but actually they are a critical part of your customers’ experience on your website. Your product descriptions are a good way to start improving your content. Make sure your product descriptions are written with your customers in mind. What information are they looking for to help them make that all important purchasing decision? Think about what keywords and phrases customers might  use when searching for that particular product.

Whatever you do don’t just use the product description provided by the manufacturer (search engines don’t like replicated copy).  Rewrite the descriptions to them to make them original and customer friendly – it’s a great way to provide some unique, fresh and relevant copy to your website..

2. Blogging

If you haven’t already started a blog for your business then it is time to think seriously about setting one up. Blogging is a great way to support your SEO efforts. A good blog provides you with regular, unique, fresh and interesting content. It also helps drive traffic to your site and increases engagement amongst your customers.

Still not convinced?  Then take a look at these impressive statistics from The Blog Economy:

  • Small businesses with blogs generate 126% more leads
  • Companies that blog have 97% more inbound links
  • Websites with blogs have 434% more indexed pages
  • 81% of consumers trust advice and information from blogs.

And, if you are not quite sure where to start then take a look at our helpful blog article ‘How to start a successful blog for your online business’.

3. Video

Visual content is playing an increasingly important part of ecommerce content strategy – and for good reason. Search engines like visual media such as video content so it is great for your SEO purposes. Of course we only need to see the phenomenal success of YouTube to see how is popular a medium it is amongst consumers.

Digital Sherpa provides some interesting video marketing statistics :

  • Video increases people’s understanding of your product and service by 74%
  • 50% of users watch business related videos on YouTube once a week
  • Your website is 50 times more likely to appear on the first page of a search engines result page if it includes a video.

Have a think of a suitable way you can use video for you business. For example a video tutorial is a great way to show customers how to assemble or use a product. And, if you want to build your ‘brand personality’ video can be a great way to your business a face. You could use video  in your email mail as way to entice customers to your website. Indeed, an introductory company email that includes a video receives an increase in click-through rate by 96%.

4. Informative content

Having content that ‘educates’ and ‘convinces’ is an important part of offering balanced online content. This content tends to be more authoritative and informative; for example –  industry trends, whitepapers, news articles, demo-videos, infographics, business guides, research reports and press releases . If you have them make them available to view on your website, if you don’t then think about implementing some.

5. User generated content

User generated content is another excellent way of introducing new and unique content to your site. By this I mean opening up your business to content that is generated by your customers such as customer reviews, blog comments or community forums. Search engines like user generated content:

“According to the latest ecommerce SEO trends, the more your brand, products or links are discussed by commenters across the Internet (including your own site), the better your page ranking will be. Google has increased its focus on these conversational searches because, as hinted above, comments and reviews are much harder to fake or manufacture in high numbers than other types of content.” Volume 9 

So be open to including user-generated content on your site. Do remember though if you are going to accept user-generated content,  you will need to regularly monitor it.  It is a good idea to introduce some guidelines  that visitors wishing to comment online must adhere to or risk being removed – such as not accepting the use of profanities, posting explicit photos or images, any bullying behaviour or derogatory comments.

6. Content that entertains

Having more interactive, entertaining content is a good way to draw customers to your business. It is often the case that business-to-consumer companies often find this type of content generation comes a bit more naturally than business to business companies.

Because business-to-business companies may find it slightly harder they may fall a bit short on more ‘entertaining’ content.  It is as all about creating a good balance of content therefore interspersing more informative content  with a bit of  ‘entertaining’ content is a good idea. If you are business-to-business think about including more light-hearted content such competitions, quizzes, community forums or video.

 

ID-100253237Finally – don’t forget to alert customers to all your great content!

So you have implemented some great new online content, the next thick is content distribution. How are you going to alert people to your content? Content is a great way to drive new traffic into your website so you need to bring it to the attention of your customers and potential customers.

“Interesting content is one of the top three reasons people follow brands on social media” The Blog Economy

Use an integrated approach to market your content, if possible use both online and offline methods. For example if you’ve posted a new blog article then tell people in an email alert and on your social media sites with a link to the article. Great content will draw people in – you just need to bring it to your customers attention.

“Fulfilling these intents is up to you. Creativity, high-quality writing, use of examples, and inclusion of images and multimedia can all help in crafting content that perfectly matches a searcher’s goals. Your reward is satisfied searchers who demonstrate their positive experience through engagement with your site or with links to it.” MOZ: Beginners Guide to SEO 

We’d love to hear your thoughts and experience on this subject so please do leave a comment.

  1. Website, forum, blog signpost image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
  2. Catching SEO word image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
  3. Start business image courtesy of kashasa at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
  4. Announcement Quote image courtesy of 2nix at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

5 tips to improve your e-commerce product pages and maximise conversions

welcoming online product pagesIf you want to increase online sales make sure your product pages are welcoming

Don’t underestimate the importance of your online product pages. Showcasing  your products to their full advantage is a crucial part of the selling process.

Having worked hard to get visitors to your site the last thing you want is for them to leave because your ecommerce product pages are unwelcoming, ill-thought out and poorly displayed. We take a look at 5 simple ways that will help you improve your online product pages and maximise your chances of that all important sale.

Think of it as a bit like being in a clothes shop. If you walked into a clothing store and saw all the clothes in a heap or thoughtlessly crammed onto a couple of clothing rails, the chances are you’d walk straight back out again. I certainly wouldn’t bother wading through piles of poorly displayed clothes to find what I was looking for. I’d simply take my custom elsewhere.

Ecommerce product pages should be approached in the same way. It should be easy for customers to find what they are looking for. Products should be visually appealing, shown off to their full advantage and the information your customer requires should be close to hand.

5 Top Tips to improve your online store’s product pages

copywriting tips, copywriting for small business, how to write copy, digital marketing copy, copywriting online1. Product Descriptions.

Product images on their own are not enough. Your products also need to have a product description. A good product description will provide customers with the added information they need in order to make a purchase decision. Plus, including product descriptions is a great way to help add relevant and fresh content to your site for SEO purposes.

Of course, make sure you are writing your own copy. Simply replicating the manufacturers product description is a no-no! You need to create your own unique product descriptions.  Not only do manufacturing descriptions tend to focus primarily on function, search engines also won’t appreciate you duplicating other people’s copy.

Re-write your product descriptions and make them relevant and user-friendly to your own target audience.  What keywords and phrases are they most likely to look for? Product descriptions from manufactures can be very dry – rewriting them can give them a bit more zing and present important information in a more interesting and digestible manner.

ID-10090359Product Images

High quality visuals with alternative views are important. Remember when people are purchasing online they want to be sure that there are no nasty surprises when it’s delivered.  Going back to our clothes shop example suppose I was buying a jumper, in all likelihood I’d go to a fitting room and try it on before I made the purchase. Of course online people don’t get to try the product on for size beforehand therefore, they need a bit more help in making the final purchase decision. This is why it is essential your product images are as accurate a reflection as possible to the actual product. Customers are more likely to feel reassured and confident enough to make a purchase if they feel what they see is what they’ll get.

Therefore high-resolution images offering multiple and alternative views are a must. Indeed:

  • Offering multiple product views and other alternative images can lead to 58% more sales 

You Tube on ipadProduct Videos

Videos are an excellent way of spicing up your product pages. Not only do they provide your customers with additional information about a product in a user-friendly format,  relevant video content is also great for SEO purposes – search engines like video. Indeed, websites are 50 times more likely to appear on the first page of a search engine results page if they include a video.

Research also indicates that video can have a positive effect on a customers purchasing decision:

Don’t just use video as a promotional vehicle. Think about video can be used to provide useful and relevant information to your customers. For example if any of your products require assembly then have an easy-to-follow instruction video. Showcase your product in real-life situations, this makes it easier for customers to visualise how they will use the product in their own environment.

word of mouth marketingProduct Reviews

Having customer reviews next to your products actually help improve your conversion rates. Reviews can help allay fears or remove any last-minute concerns a customer may have over a product. In addition, reviews show customers that you are a trustworthy, transparent business that believes in the quality of your products and values customer opinion.

ID-100150130Are you offering too much choice?

There is an argument that offering too much choice can actually overwhelm consumers and lead to less conversions. Renowned research carried out by Colombia University showed how offering too much choice can actually be demotivating to customers. Researchers used jam to test how choice effected end purchasing.

On the first day 24 jams were offered to taste and on another day just 6 jams were offered. Researchers found that although more shoppers stopped when there was 24 jams, when it came to purchasing 30% of shoppers who stopped at the 6 jam counter purchased a jam whereas only 3% of shoppers who stopped at the 24 jam counter actually purchased a jam. Researchers called this ‘choice fatigue’ where too many choices actually put customers off.

So when you are arranging your product pages think about how many products you have on each page. Rather than long lists of products, categorise them into more manageable, logical product groups that you can have on different pages. This will look cleaner, more organised, visually appealing and far simpler for your customers to navigate.

 

Finally, if you are looking for a bit of inspiration and some examples of online businesses who do it well, then Econsultancy has a great article on 15 inspiring examples of commerce product pages. It showcases online business who display there products in an interesting way and to their maximum advantage.

 We’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences on this subject, so do please leave a comment.

  • Welcome letters image courtesy of Lavoview at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
  • Typewriter Image courtesy of Just2shutter / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
  • Retro Camera image courtesy of Mr Lightman at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
  • Thumbs up image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
  • Jam jar image courtesy of artur84 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net