3 Ways An Omni-Channel Experience Can Strengthen Your Brand

by Grace Miller |

3 Ways An Omni-Channel Experience Can Strengthen Your Brand

Omni-Channel Experience

In our technology-driven world, consumers have become dependent on using technology to shop and communicate with their favorite brands, making it critical for companies to embrace technology and create a brand experience that fits all types of shoppers. As a retailer or manufacturer, thinking of new and creative ways to attract new customers and keep … Read more

5 Ways Social Commerce Improves The Customer Experience

online shopping cart 2 sq

For a brand, providing your shoppers a memorable customer experience is crucial to keep them coming back and attracting new shoppers. There are many ways give them a great experience with your brand, however, with social media being an incredibly powerful communication tool, integrating social commerce into your marketing strategies is the most unique and … Read more

Implement Discounting Without Sacrificing Your Brand

discounting

Discounting can be a valuable tactic to increase sales, however, some brands are worried about implementing discounts for fear that it may erode value and create perception of poor quality. When used strategically, discounting can increase sales and loyalty without causing negative brand perceptions. There are a number of ways to implement a smart discounting strategy while maintaining brand perception and drawing new customers, but it is useful to understand the root of some of the risks that come with discounting.

Some people are quick to point out the downsides of discounting, for example, if you had to lower product quality to maintain profit margins, that could potentially damage reputation, or if you maintained quality at the expense of profit margins, you could see competitors seemingly doing better. Businesses that offer discounts frequently manage to thrive; the trick is knowing how to leverage discounts as incentives for new customers who are on the fence about purchasing a product.

Solution: Target New Customers Intelligently

For manufacturers, retailers, and eCommerce companies alike, maintaining brand integrity is vital, so when offering discounts, you want to be able to target new customers without diluting brand value. Fortunately, there are tools available that include decision engines that target online “window shoppers” with discounts while excluding existing customers and those likely to make a purchase in the absence of a discount. Luxury cosmetics brand, Lancôme, used this technique and monitored analytics to detect patterns in website visitors’ buying habits. They not only successfully targeted discounts, but also learned valuable information they could leverage in future offers, such as which browser shoppers used most.

Put A Unique Twist on Discounting With Social Commerce

When you’re developing a discounting strategy, it’s important to try to be creative with it. Discounting helps attract new customers, turn on-the-fence shoppers into paying customers, and keep your current ones coming back. A unique and creative way to take your discounting to the next level is incorporating social commerce into your discounting strategy to maximize effect and drive even more sales. With social commerce, you can leverage the power and reach of social media and utilize discounts to give your customers incentives to engage with your brand This can be done by encouraging new customers to engage in contests or share and save campaigns, and reward your current loyal customers to refer their friends or share their recent purchases right after they make them. Social commerce gives you the power to entice new and current customers and keep them engaged with your brand and products.

Methods for Discounting Without Diluting Brand

When brands offer discounts, it’s crucial to ensure your strategy is well planned and calculated. Stephen Wunker of the consulting firm, New Markets Advisors, advises a five-step approach to intelligent discounting:

  1. Offer discounted products separately from the core brand if possible
  2. Target a different customer type with your discounting, such as targeting a younger demographic
  3.  Emphasize tiers of value with core and discount brands
  4. Use different sales channels for different value tiers, market core, and discounted products
  5. Publicize timely positive influencer reviews of the discounted products

With social media marketing and analytics enabling brands to target more selective offers and understand price elasticity limits, broad blanket discounts are becoming less necessary. Other tactics, like free trials, may reduce perceived value of a product, but not as much as discounts do, so discounts should be only one of many techniques in your repertoire.

Testing Your Discount Strategy Is Essential

Since there is no single discount strategy that works for one brand, it is important to test and monitor your strategy based on several factors, such as seasonal demand, stacked promotions, and demand within certain niches. This can be done by incorporating A/B testing to see which campaign and strategy works best for you and your audience. For a brand, it is important to find the right balance between generating sales and maintaining profitability while maintaining your brand image. Discounting can be done without harming brand image as long as you strategically plan and execute to make it work.

Using a dashboard or analytics tool is crucial to help ensure you are receiving optimal results and achieving your return on investment and revenue goals. Having a dashboard, such as Annex Cloud’s comprehensive Social Commerce dashboard gives brands valuable customer demographic and social graph data so they can see how well their discounting strategies are doing. For example, if you implement a Share and Save campaign, Annex Cloud’s dashboard will give you clear and extensive knowledge on how much your sales and revenue increased despite the discount.

While discounting shouldn’t be done simply to drive sales, it should be an element within your overall marketing strategy. Brands need to look at their discount strategy in the long term and weigh the risks and benefits. When you implement discounting, ensure you are closely monitoring results to gain better insights on maintaining profitability without diminishing your brand’s image. When discounting is used with precision and monitored closely, it can be a valuable technique for gaining new customers and developing their loyalty.

Amazon Dash Button: The Ultimate In Customer Loyalty

Customer Loyalty

About to run out of laundry detergent?

Press a button sitting on top of your washer and the button will automatically place an order for your favorite laundry detergent and have it shipped it to you right away.

Amazon’s release of their new Dash button whether intentional or not was perfectly timed. A day before April Fools Amazon released the Dash button, literally a small physical button customers can place in their home to press and order common household products you’re about to run out of. Some people thought it was a joke but Amazon confirmed that, in fact, it is very real.

Amazon already has a “one click buy” feature on it’s website, which essentially eliminates the traditional online checkout process. Some of us, (myself included) have only just gotten on board with the idea of ordering basic household goods like paper towels and laundry detergent from online retailers. And as a recent convert, I’m wondering why I didn’t do it sooner. All too often you make mental note that your running out of paper towels, laundry detergent etc, only to forget it the next time you’re at the store.

That’s the beauty of the Dash button. It gives customers a way to order coffee pods by literally pushing a button placed right next to your coffee machine, right at the moment they realize they are running low. The buttons are branded with the product they are ordering for you and are intended to be mounted on or placed close to the home appliance they correlate with, a red Tide button for your washing machine, a Keurig button for your coffee maker.

amazon-dash-button2 Coffee maker exampleAlthough I don’t relish the idea of my apartment being adorned with branded buttons, it’s hard to deny the convenience they could offer. And I think its important to note, the aesthetic downsides may become irrelevant pretty quickly as the next phase of excessively convenient shopping will incorporate our appliances themselves. Our washing machines will buy their own detergent and our refrigerators will order milk when its running low. 

amazon-dash-buttons various examples buggies, gillette, tide, bounty, GladAmazon’s Dash button is the ultimate in customer loyalty programs. Buy ordering a free Dash button your customers are pledging to always buy your brand and always from Amazon. It eliminates the possibility of losing your customers to discounts, out of stock items or attractive competitor packaging in the grocery store isles.

Is this a glimpse of what the Internet of Things movement going to mean for our daily lives? Regardless, Amazon’s Dash button is a brilliant innovative idea in the online shopping world and a new way of looking at customer loyalty. I wonder how it will perform in the market. I suspect that the entire senior citizen and accessibility-challenged population will quickly embrace it and so will the always-busy, no-time-to-drive-to-the-store professional. Will we eventually stop going to the stores for most of our purchases?

Live Streaming Video Apps – Could They Help You Build Brand Authenticity?

On March 1st Tech Crunch called it with the headline; “Meerkat Is The Livestreaming App Twitter Should Have Built”.

Yesterday, March 26 Twitter listened to that critique by releasing Periscope, an app very similar to Meerkat that lets you live-stream video of your life from your smartphone to anyone in the world. Like Meerkat it connects directly to your Twitter account to tweet out a link and it sends out a notification across the network when you are ready to begin your broadcast and giving your followers the ability to watch live from anywhere. You can see how many people are tuning in, how many people are liking the video, receive comments, and unlike Meerkat, you have the option to save the video.

In true social media form, people took to it quickly, broadcasting everything from videos of themselves eating lunch to streaming video of the explosion of a New York building. Live streaming is an interesting factor in the usually highly curated world of Social Media. It means anything can happen; viewers can influence the outcome, no-one can edit out an unflattering shot, and you no longer have unlimited opportunities to capture the perfect moment.

Given that it was only released a day ago it’s hard to tell if Periscope will gain a foothold and establish itself as a social media necessity. But, its popularity within the first day highlights people’s love of visuals and videos.

Brands could learn a lot from engaging with their customers in this new platform. Encouraging the use of live streaming video in social commerce could give brands a clearer look into their customers lives and the way they use their products.

On the flip side, brands and retailers could utilize live streaming video to build brand authenticity. In terms of social commerce the implications could be very interesting and lucrative. Live-streaming could add an element of authenticity many brands and retailers have a hard time establishing. It’s an opportunity for brands to give their consumers an unedited look into the inner-workings of their companies. In the age of social media, consumers expect more and more from the brands they’re loyal to and authenticity is at the top of the list. Consumers buy from companies they trust and the brands that truly reflect their outlook.

Socially and environmentally conscious brands could stream live videos for a look inside their factories. Start-ups could stream videos of the highly active and entertaining office atmosphere. Beauty and fashion brands could capture unedited videos of their products in use by real customers. And by using the Periscope platform your customers know the videos are truly live and unedited, building credibility, authenticity and ultimately the trust your customers have in you and your brand.

Social Commerce: The Proverbial Foot Traffic

Social Commerce

In the days of brick-n-mortar stores, the mantra was location-location-location. The right location meant higher foot traffic, which in turn, meant more sales. With the introduction of the Internet, location became irrelevant and foot traffic gave way to search engine and paid advertisement. Today, as the organic and paid searches become saturated, how do retailers attract new customers? Where is the proverbial “foot traffic” going to come from? Enter, Social Media.

When the internet gave birth to Social Media, brands and manufacturers were forced to hand over the control of product information and buying decision to consumers. As the majority of the consumer market became commoditized and the quality of goods and services plummeted, brand trust withered and was replaced with trust in the consumer’’s social network: their friends, family and fellow shoppers. Today Social Media is not only the starting point of most buyers journeys it is becoming the most powerful shopping channel.

Brands, retailers, and manufacturers are spending millions of dollars growing their Social Media following. They parade their large numbers of followers, copious tweets and numerous Pins as a sign of their success. But, what good are followers, tweets, and Pins if they do not convert into happy, repeat, loyal, paying customers?
All is not lost. Social commerce is the answer to the question: “How do I convert my Social Media fan base into paying customers?”

Social Media has opened new doors into the world of e-commerce. Combining e-commerce with things people do inside their social networks, like posting selfies with their favorite brands and reviewing products they purchase, lets brands tap into the excitement their customers feel about their products. Not only do they get to witness this excitement, they can share it with other potential customers. It’s the ultimate word of mouth marketing.
Today’s consumer is constantly plugged in to Social Media; Americans spend more time on Social Media than any other major Internet activity. In order to thrive, retailers need to fit this new model of internet usage and make the shopping process more social.

  • User-curated social and product galleries that help shoppers discover new products they didn’t know they would like.
  • Peers referring and sharing product ideas with their social networks
  • Shoppers reviewing, commenting and answering questions from fellow shoppers to help them make better buying decisions.
  • Active and frequent engagement between brands and customers on social media sites
  • Rewarding your most loyal customers for relevant activities and actions they perform on Social Media

Social Commerce Depends on Relationships

Social commerce is entirely based on relationships, among customers and between retailers and customers. Social Media is delicate, open, and transparent. Good customer relationships require that retailers pay attention to the smallest of details when it comes to customer experience. Only by truly differentiating your brand can you gain greater customer loyalty and increased sales. Here are a few ways retailers can build great customer relationships as the foundation of strong social commerce:

  • Being friendly, helpful, and prompt in social media interactions with customers
  • Being super knowledgeable about their own products and services. Customers today do their research, and they expect expert knowledge from brands and retailers.
  • Avoiding the hard sell. While it’s OK to make social posts about offers in around 20% of interactions, customers want more educational and useful content about the brands they follow and the products they love.
  • Listening to customers, and asking for clarification when there’s confusion around a customer issue
  • Helping customers save time by being agile and developing mobile shopping apps
  • Keeping promises and following through on interactions with customers on Social Media

Analyzing  the future of Customer Engagement

  1. Engaged customers represent a 23% premium in terms of profitability and revenue compared with the average, disengaged customer.
  2. For consumer electronics, engaged shoppers make 44% more visits per year to their favorite retailer compared with disengaged shoppers. They purchase more items during those visits.
  3. Fully engaged banking customers bring 37% more revenue to their banks each year than do disengaged ones.
  4. Hotel guests who consider themselves “engaged customers” spend 46% more each year than their disengaged counterparts.

Social Commerce: The Opportunity Is Now

As Social Media becomes increasingly critical source of new and repeat customers, it is imperative to the success of every small and large eCommerce business to have a robust 360-degree Social Commerce strategy. It needs to be well thought out and demand a complete tightly integrated technology solution that can deliver not only robust Social Commerce marketing programs, but also offers deep and complete business insight into effectiveness, usefulness, and return on investment of such programs.
Brands no longer control the buying decision because consumers trust their peers feedback over any product or brand literature. Social Media is where your customers are and they are openly talking about your brand and your products. You must invest in a robust and complete social commerce solution to serve your customers in ways they prefer to be served, Socially.

Brands Need to Embrace Changing Technology or Wither Away

brands

The primary challenge every commerce business faces, whether online or offline, is acquiring, converting and retaining customers. This challenge persists through the evolution of technology. However, the changing nature of technology is altering how retailers approach the challenge. Today the biggest technological shift in commerce is coming from the growing use of social media and mobile devices. The average user spends about 28% of their time online using social media networks, 2014 saw the first case of mobile internet consumption surpassing that of desktop, and 60% of social media use is done through mobile devices. Brands need to embrace this changing technology or risk withering away.
This shift in the way customers consume information is forcing retailers and brands to alter how they reach their target market. They can no longer rely on traditional methods of advertising because consumers, especially millennials are not paying attention and are not as easily persuaded by traditional methods.

Before this shift in technology a typical purchase cycle came down to a consumer deciding they needed a product, going to a store that most likely carried that product and purchasing it. Now the process is much more complex. Because of the large consumer market, buyers don’t usually have a specific product or brand in mind. Instead, they are thinking about a category such as: a vacuum cleaner, a laptop, or a car. The purchase cycle then starts with research; 81% of shoppers conduct online research before buying. This not only gives consumers better information about the product category they intend to buy into; it helps them narrow down the brand they want, the specific product they intend to buy, and where they plan to buy it, whether online or in a brick and mortar store.

Although the purchase cycle typically starts online, brick and mortar takes home the biggest chunk of sales (about 94%). However, even in brick and mortar digital use still plays a role in the shopping cycle as a consumer takes steps to purchase. Consumers use their phones to find the address of the store, comparison shop, and utilize digital coupons. With the prevalence of mobile usage, these actions are happening while the customer is standing in your store; online and offline are converging in your dressing room.

Consumers are going to continue this trend and if you don’t meet them in the mediums (online, social media, mobile) they frequent, your competitor will.

So how can you meet your customers online, on social media and on mobile devices to effectively acquire, convert, and retain them?

Utilize social login to give consumers an easier way to create an account on your website, while you collect more demographic insights about them. Use user generated content to engage your customers and give them compelling information and insights about your products as shared by their fellow shoppers. Finally use mobile responsive loyalty programs to cultivate repeat purchasers and convert them into loyal customers.

The lesson of changing technology is always the same; if you don’t adapt, you don’t survive. This holds true for commerce. Your customers’ shopping behaviors are changing and you have to adapt quickly to ensure they still see your brand, engage with it, and come back to become loyal customers.

Where Does Snapchat Fit in The World of eCommerce?

snapchat

Earlier this week, Snapchat announced it is seeking a new round of funding that would value the company at $19 billion. This is a huge increase from it’s 2014 round of funding that valued the company at $10 billion. To put this new potential value in perspective, if the deal goes through it would make Snapchat the third most valuable venture-backed company in the world.
With only 12% of snaps being shared with more than one person, Snapchat maintains it is not a social networking service, instead emphasizing it is a messaging app. 100 million monthly active users, 400 million snaps per day, and 29.4 percent of Apple iPhone users engaging with the  messaging app, demonstrates Snapchat’s massive growth. And this growth begs the question, how can retailers use Snapchat to engage and advertise with their customers? And is it worth it?

Organic reach is still an option on Snapchat, possibly giving it some traction with marketers above other networks like Facebook. However, the nature of its organic advertising is very different. It is a 1:1 messaging service so there is no room for growth in terms of utilizing a consumers network. It also requires active engagement because in order to watch the content, a customer has to hold a button down.

This presents both challenges and benefits for advertisers. It forces retailers who utilize Snapchat to work harder on their content because to make it successful they have to make their customers want to see their advertisements. However, for the consumers they do manage to engage it is reasonable to assume they are more valuable because they are demonstrating an interest by opting in instead of just scrolling past it on their newsfeed.

Snapchat has also started to offer paid advertising, but the jury is still out on its success. It offers little in the way of analytics and ROI and in some instances seems ridiculously overpriced. However, the release of the “Discover” feature in January may bring some traction. By introducing content from reputable sources like National Geographic, Yahoo News, Comedy Central and CNN, Snapchat seems to be moving away from its messaging app branding. This might give it more flexibility in working with retailers and companies and displaying advertising.

Snapchat is a new and strange player in the world of mobile apps and social media. It gained a lot of popularity very quickly and is looking to monetize on that. But it still has some work left to do if it really wants to become more than a fad. It needs to figure out what it wants to be; a messaging app, a news curation source, a social network? And in order to make retailers and brands stick around it needs to find a way to bring in more user data and analytics.

Effective Use of Social Media for eCommerce: Facebook Edition

facebook_1

By now it’s pretty obvious Social Media is a vital component of any retailer’s or brand’s marketing efforts and with Social Media management tools like Hootsuite, executing across multiple networks has become easier than ever. However, it’s easy to fall into a trap of treating all platforms the same, positing similar if not duplicate content … Read more

SPAM is a Four Letter Word: How to Avoid It

Can of Spam circled and crossed out in red. Photo manipulation by hegarty_david at Flickr. Attribution-NonCommercial license. Spam meat product registered by Hormel.

Email is a bread and butter marketing tactic for many ecommerce companies, however it comes with its own set of risks. Primarily, the possibility of being labeled a spammer. Misleading, deceptive, and spammy email can come with negative sides effects for both your reputation and your legal department.
In the United States, the  CAN-SPAM Act, prohibits misleading or deceptive commercial email. Noncompliance with the law  can bring serious civil and criminal penalties, including fines of up to $6 million and prison terms of up to 5 years for willful violations.

Spam laws are not only a concern for U.S. domestic marketing operations, if your ecommerce company operates internationally you need to learn the ins and outs of spam laws in the other countries you operate. For example, if you do business in Europe, you should understand the European Communications Privacy and Electronic Communications Directive.

Here are some best email practices for avoiding the dreaded spam label, staying on the goods side of the law and most importantly maintaining your reputation with your customers.

Company-Wide Email Policy

Smart ecommerce companies develop a “best practices” policy across all divisions, departments, and marketing groups to help ensure compliance with anti-spam laws and ensure consistency throughout the organization. It is important to include vendors and other third parties you work with in this group.  Under certain circumstances, your company could be held liable for anti-spam law violations by vendors who send email on your behalf.
One of the most important aspects of your company policy should be the maintenance and compliance with an opt-out database. CAN-SPAM requires companies to stop sending emails to people who opt out of receiving them, so it’s important that you take all necessary steps to ensure that your customers have the option to opt-out and if they take advantage of it, they do not receive any future emails from you.

Use Due Diligence Before Purchasing or Renting Mailing Lists

Under CAN-SPAM you’re still allowed to buy or rent email lists from third parties. However, the Act still applies to the commercial emails sent based on these lists. Therefore, it is important to thoroughly vet suppliers and obtain sufficient assurance that the list was created in compliance with CAN-SPAM, that people on the lists have been given notification that their email address could be shared, and that people on the lists has not opted out of receiving marketing email. While these assurances don’t release you from liability under CAN-SPAM, they offer recourse if something goes wrong. In short, make sure your social commerce strategy includes working with quality email list vendors.

Avoid Common “Red Flags” That Activate Spam Filters

Once you’re sure your social commerce strategy takes sufficient care to avoid violating anti-spam laws, you still need to ensure your emails won’t trip spam filters. Common “red flags” that trigger these filters include the use of all caps, excessive punctuation and substituting numbers for letters in subject lines.
Vague subject lines, such as “FREE Information!!!”, spelling mistakes, or the addition of “Re:” in a subject line to trick recipients into thinking you’ve corresponded before can also trip a spam filter. MailChimp says the words “help,” “percent off,” and “reminder” generally won’t trip spam filters, but are perceived as spammy and have low open rates. Mequoda offers an extensive list of “trigger words” you should avoid in your marketing emails. These steps not only help reduce the likelihood your email will land in a spam folder, they are also good practices to ensure your emails are perceived as professional and will hopefully increase your open rates.

Links, Images, and Reply-To Addresses

Spammers often send emails with long lists of links and minimal text. If they get past spam filters, they’re often discarded upon being opened. Having links in email content is fine, as long as they make sense in context and don’t make up the bulk of the text. Spammers sometimes use images in special offer emails because spam filters have a harder time reading information in images. Emails containing a large image and minimal text are often flagged as spam, so be sure to try for a balanced text-to-image ratio.
Using a human (or human-sounding) reply address makes a connection with the recipient more likely. eCommerce emails with [email protected] or similar addresses in the “From” box appear detached and uninterested, and turn recipients off. You’re better off using a real company email address that goes to an actual person with whom subscribers can communicate.
Of course, the best way to avoid violating spam laws and alienating customers is by not writing spam. When your emails focus on informing or entertaining your audience, you bolster your social commerce strategy without giving up opportunities for selling. Just because you can craft emails that technically skirt anti-spam laws doesn’t mean you should. This will only annoy recipients and damage your brand’s reputation. Be familiar with both the letter and the spirit of applicable anti-spam laws to ensure your ecommerce marketing efforts stay on the good side of the law and your customers.

What to Look for in eCommerce Analytics

eCommerce Analytics

Analytics and eCommerce go together naturally. Before the advent of convenient eCommerce tools for analytics, simple site analytics could be informative for eCommerce site owners. But analytics have come a long way just over the past few years, and the more advanced analytics can help enterprise-level businesses make the most of their online stores regardless of size.

Standard eCommerce analytics include things like information on where your traffic comes from, page interaction and navigation, conversion rate measurements, and “fall-offs,” which detail how and why people leave your website. But you need more, like information on shopping behavior during sales, check out analysis, how site content affects sales, and which activities lead to more conversions.

Differences Between Site Analytics and eCommerce Analytics

Where site analytics tell you, for example, the sources of page traffic, eCommerce analytics tell you the origins of sales traffic. Furthermore, they can not only tell you about page interactions but about shopping cart interactions. In other words, you can ask, “Where do my visitors convert, and where do they not convert?”

Three important things you can track through eCommerce analytics include

• Multi-channel funnel reports showing which traffic sources convert best
• Shopping behavior analysis to determine why shoppers abandon carts
• Product performance reports to show where revenues are generated

As an example, multi-channel funnel reports help you identify first and last channels before conversions and your best channel combinations. This allows you to focus more on productive channels in terms of page optimization, content creation, or advertising.

Identifying and Addressing Problems Using eCommerce Analytics

eCommerce Analytics

eCommerce analytics also help you uncover and address problems before they can negatively affect sales numbers. Shopping behavior reports can identify phenomena like:

• Visits with no shopping activity
• Products that are viewed, but not added to carts
• Products added to carts but not purchased
• Ratio of sessions that check out to abandoned sessions

These indicators often point to simple problems that can be fixed easily, such as by content-to-product linking, better shopping cart visibility, or increased clarity of pricing or shipping information. Other actions taken may include increasing stock of best-sellers, investing more in promoting highly profitable products, analyzing pricing to ensure it’s on-target, and creation / timing of promotions.

User Behavior and eCommerce Success

Advanced eCommerce analytics help you understand user behaviour better so you can tailor your site more to customer needs. User behavior analytics can lead you to take actions like

• Using targeted display ads for specific products
• Focusing social commerce efforts on visitors coming to your site from top converting traffic sources
• Retargeting people who showed interest in specific products by offering special promotions on those products
• Identifying poorly performing products and adjusting marketing and social commerce efforts toward improving their sales performance

Segmenting Users for Better eCommerce Success

eCommerce Success

One-size-fits all marketing and social commerce strategies are not ideal. Your visitors are probably quite diverse, and your site analytics can let you know for certain. Advanced analytics can help you customize pages to maximize conversions based on traffic characteristics. Additionally, you can use segmentation as a framework for creating intentional, well-planned A/B experiments on your site to help you provide a more engaging shopping experience.

One example of segmentation that could be valuable to your eCommerce strategy is differentiating mobile from non-mobile users. You can even get tools that let you segment by device type so you can run experiments and be confident that a single device type isn’t skewing results. You can also segment based on things like repeat shoppers versus first-time site visitors, users who have purchased recently versus users who made purchases a long time ago, and high “cart value” purchasers versus casual buyers.

Predictive Analytics and eCommerce

Predictive analytics combines techniques including statistical analyses, data mining, and operations research to help you understand data in the proper context. Combined with forecasting models, you can use predictive analytics to make more accurate predictions about future buying trends. Predictive analytics used to be reserved for bigger enterprises, but today tools are available to enterprise level eCommerce organizations of all types and sizes, along with the great insights they can reveal through processing and analysis of big data. Predictive analytics solutions customized for eCommerce allow eCommerce managers to make smarter strategic and operational decisions. Predictive analytics combined with customer engagement is expected to ultimately lead to a world of “hyper-individualized experiences,” according to research firm Forrester.

Conclusion

Analytics are critical for your eCommerce and social commerce strategy. eCommerce analytics go beyond traditional site analytics, and today include exciting techniques like predictive analytics that can help your organization maximize sales numbers while wasting less time on techniques that are less beneficial.

How to Optimize Your Commerce Website

Commerce Website

If you’re in the eCommerce business, you know that optimizing your website is not a choice, but a necessity. The pages of your site are your revenue generators, and optimizing them can improve sales regardless of other measures like social media commerce strategies and marketing. Pages that ignore search engine optimization (SEO) or that present your products in less than a flattering light can cause you to miss out on sales unnecessarily.

Commerce Website

The content of the pages that make up your eCommerce website can build or damage your brand. Optimizing these pages can make your brand stand out from the competition and directly affect your company’s bottom line. Put the extra effort into your site’s pages and you increase interest from shoppers while boosting your brand. Get to work on optimizing your pages and you should see your pages turning browsers into shoppers more efficiently. Here are some tips on how to do it.

Optimize Product Descriptions

How you word your product descriptions is important to SEO. The keywords relevant to your product should go in the page’s title tags and META description. If you can include keywords in product URL strings, that’s better still. Avoid the temptation to reuse product descriptions from manufacturers, because Google considers this duplicate content, which it penalizes in terms of search engine ranking. Improve content descriptions by appealing to shoppers’ feelings and emotions, bringing your products to life through narratives that avoid being technical or dull.
If you can’t redo all your product descriptions, add unique content in the form of reviews or user comments.

Use Clear Product Images

happy online shopper

Large, clear, high quality product images sell more products, and can increase sales conversions by up to 9%. If possible, you should have multiple images of products, showing it from different angles and highlighting different features. Product images should be consistent throughout your eCommerce store. Using similar image backgrounds, photo sizes, and angles creates a consistent browsing experience and give your site a more professional, polished look.

Make Your FAQs and Policies Easy to Navigate To

Another key to making your site more user friendly and boosting your social commerce stature is making your site easy to navigate. This is an important principle for SEO as well. Users should find it easy to reach your FAQ page and to find out things like your shipping and return policies. The idea is to find a happy balance between cluttered pages with links to everything and too-spare pages where it’s difficult to find your way around. Your web designer or SEO strategist can help you optimize navigation to please customers while boosting SEO.

Make Social Sharing Easy

social media sharing signs

If you’re going to succeed at social commerce, you can’t shy away from content generated by your customers. User-generated content can bring higher conversion rates and increased sales, and the regular addition of unique content keeps your site fresh, which is another property that search engines tend to award with higher rankings. Make sure you put social sharing buttons beside your product images or descriptions so shoppers can easily share what they’re looking at on social platforms like Facebook and Twitter.

Meanwhile, your social commerce strategy should include interacting with customers and potential customers on social media sites. Inviting readers to submit photos of themselves using your products can also be great for your social commerce strategy. The ultimate goal is to build a community of happy customers. You never know when a brief customer video of his dog enjoying a toy purchased from your site will catch on and go viral.

Conclusion

Optimizing your eCommerce site isn’t just a good idea, it’s absolutely essential to success. Built upon a solid SEO strategy with high quality imagery, great product descriptions, and user-generated content, your eCommerce site can serve to strengthen your brand and build a loyal community of shoppers. Though these principles require effort, none is particularly difficult or expensive, so there’s no reason to be left behind while competitors are busy improving their social commerce practices.

8 Essentials Your Ecommerce Site Should Have

Store front

With the start of 2015 a new shopping year begins for both consumers and online businesses and with it brings the opportunity to focus on fresh, innovative and engaging ideas. Retailers should review their websites and makes the changes necessary to stay relevant and compelling, because that’s what shoppers expect.

Here are 8 basic tips that you can implement to stay ahead of the ecommerce game.

Promotions

Online shoppers are savvy and always looking for the best deal. Promotions no matter the type are an instant eyes catcher – especially free shipping, since high shipping costs are one of the biggest turn-offs for online shoppers. By incentivizing your customers with promotions, you increase your conversion rate, leading to reduced cart abandonment and a boost in your average order value. To make them truly effective, promotions must be highly visible on your homepage and strategically placed on specific product pages.

Clear logo and branding

First impressions are everything and your logo and branding are no exception. Part of the challenge is capturing a first-time customer within the first few seconds of them entering your site. Your logo and site branding should be easily visible and a customer should be able to quickly identify if your online store sells the products they are interested in. Below are some examples of stores with great branding and logos.

Product reviews

Curating customer reviews and offering shoppers the opportunity, to share their experiences is vital in building your online reputation as a retailer. It proves you are dedicated to providing customers with outstanding value and ensuring you offer products to suit their needs and interests. Consumers are much more apt to purchase your products when they are supplemented with reviews.

Popular products

Do not make it challenging for your customers to find your best products, new products or exclusive sales. Online shoppers have short attention spans and if they have to hunt for something, they may just turn to your competitor. Whenever you have news, are planning an upcoming event, offering sales or have any other information customers care about, it is important that these things are displayed prominently on your home page. Furthermore, return customers are more interested in several new sale items rather than searching through your inventory for something new.

Mobile friendly

With leaps made every year in smartphone and tablet technologies more and more consumers are turning to their mobile devices to shop online. It’s convenient in the palm of their hands so to speak. It is now 2015 and a surprising number of online merchants that are still relying on old platforms and losing out on the added sales revenue from mobile shoppers. As the market share for mobile phones increases it is imperative to your stores future to stay up to date with these technologies.

Socialize it

Your customers know you best, and it is important to immerse yourself in the conversations they are having about you and your products. Being “social” is not just about asking someone to like your page, its about joining a community of people that have interacted with your brand. There are many tools out there that make it possible to leverage your customers as product experts, join discussion groups, promote certain products to a segment of customers and discuss it all via social media. Work to integrate your customers shopping experience into the social channels they use on a daily basis.

Product comparisons

No matter what kind of products you sell, you always need to give the customer the option to do their own comparison shopping. Consumers should have the option of creating side-by-side comparisons of the products features, specifications, benefits, and reviews. By making it easy for your customers to make comparisons you keep them engaged with your store, rather than losing them to your competitor. It is also a great way to up-sell them on related products or accessories.

Omni Channel

The Omni-Channel approach to business has changed the way ecommerce stores do business. The Omni-Channel model gives your customers real-time visibility into your online inventory levels as well as in store. It indicates how many units are available and what is the quickest way to obtain them. It provides alerts for items that are arriving in stock, in stock and out of stock. If your product is anywhere at all your customers will know how and where to make the purchase.
While there are many more things an ecommerce store can do to enhance the shopping experience these few items listed can help retailers start adapting to the high expectations of the online consumer. Some of these are quick fixes while others present a longer term project, but identifying solutions could help make a difference for your online success.

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