31
Jan
2017

What exactly is Retargeting on your website?

You have setup your website and are raring to go forward with your website. You have heard of this term “retargeting” from alot of marketers but what exactly does it mean? Here is a quite synopsis of what retargeting actually is.

What is retargeting?

As you would have read from its name, it’s a way by which ecommerce marketers can ‘re-attract’ previous visitors who perhaps abandoned a shopping basket, or who browsed some product pages but then left the site for elsewhere. Basically, trying to “pull back” visitors who have been to your website.

From date of numerous sources estimated only 2% of web traffic converts on its first visit. Retargeting is the tool companies use to reach the other 98%.

How does retargeting work?

It’s a fairly straightforward, cookie-based practice. An invisible JavaScript tag is placed in the footer of a website which leaves a ‘cookie’ in their browser of every visitor.

That visitor will then be targeted with theoretically relevant adverts when they visit other sites. Depending on the laws of each country, sometimes it is required by law to obtain the permission of the visitor to get the cookies.

 

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What types of retargeting are there?

It seems there are many different types of retargeting methods available to marketers, not just ‘site retargeting’ (the display ads on third party websites as discussed above). Here’s a brief overview of other practices:

  • Search retargeting: This is a form of ‘behavioural retargeting’ where a user of a search engine will be targeted with display ads based on their search queries. The searcher didn’t necessarily visit the advertiser’s site previously.
  • Email retargeting: This should be pretty obvious from the name. Perhaps if a basket has been abandoned by a registered user of a site, an email can be sent to the user to say: “Hey, why don’t you come back and buy that stuff you wanted?” There are automation softwares such as Pardot , Hubspot etc that helps to achieve this.
  • Contextual retargeting: Slightly more complicated than site retargeting, but all it really means is that when websites share similar customers, they can partner up to share their cookies. So if a visitor leaves one site and later visits a partnered site, adverts for the previous site will be displayed on the current one. Brands don’t have to pay for highly targeted ads, as chances are the people visiting these similar sites generally have the same interests.

 

Benefits of retargeting

On a very basic level, every time the potential customer of your site sees the retargeted ad, or retargeted email, this will remind them of their former desire to purchase and possibly steer them back.

Cart abandonment can happen for many reasons. Dodgy UX, hidden shipping costs, excessive security checks. In these cases chances are you won’t get that customer back until you improve the functionality of your site. Therefore the importance of having a good UI/UX for your website.

However if it was a simple matter of an outside distraction, a temporary website crash or a last minute check of the bank balance, then it’s always worth retargeting these customers.

Retargeting also helps to create brand awareness and traction through repeated exposure. This could be the by product in your marketing dollars should it not convert.

The problems of retargeting

There are a few short comings of retargeting and they are mainly listed in the 3 points below:

Effectiveness – There’s also a major practical concern when it comes to site retargeting effectiveness. Data statistic state that 60% of consumers do not remember the last display ad they saw.

Bothersome – Sometimes we land on a website accidentally or we are just curious what it offers. We are never the intended audience/customer. However, because of retargeting, we are always served up ads on the website which we find bothersome and is a waste of marketing dollars to the advertiser.

Increase Cost – Very often advertisers have to set aside a separate marketing budget to do retargeting. This increases the overall cost of advertising. Retargeting in general is relatively cheaper than native advertisements.

Despite its short comings, it is still worth considering retargeting for your website. Statistic has shown that 26% of customers will return to a site through retargeting. This is up from 8% of customers who return to a site without retargeting.

Here are some hints and advice for ads retargeting:

  • Ads shouldn’t be retargeted to any customer who has already purchased that product.
  • Retargeted ads should be tailored to individual customers through segmentation. Just because the website I visited happens to sell slippers doesn’t mean I want to buy slippers. I hate slippers. Target me with graphic novels and obscure horror film soundtracks because that’s what I browsed through on your weird graphic novel and obscure horror film soundtrack website.
  • Don’t hit customers with the same ad over and over for weeks on end. If that customer hasn’t come back to your site after a few reminders they probably never will. In fact that ‘brand recognition’ will turn into something far more negative.
  • Provide a clear call-to-action button in the ad, and upon clicking through, take the user to a relevant landing page or product page,  not just the homepage.

Would like to explore retargeting for your website? Drop us a note and we can help you with that.

20
Dec
2016

WooCommerce Powers 42% of All Online Stores

Last week Automattic published its annual “Year in Review” stats, including WooCommerce stats for the first time since the company acquired Woo in 2015. As of December, there are 1,594,894 active stores using WooCommerce and roughly 1/3 of those (530,000) are new in 2016.

One of the most exciting areas of growth is WooCommerce’s global market share. Although both the Year in Review post and the WooCommerce website have the software at 39%, Builtwith stats show WooCommerce powers 42% of all online stores. This is a huge leap from 30% a year and a half ago, when it was acquired.

WooCommerce market share is even higher in emerging markets like India(55% among stores using the .IN extension) and Mexico (56% among stores using the .MX extension).

WooCommerce in 2017: Evolving Storefront for Independent Stores

In May 2016, WooCommerce introduced WC Connect, its new Automattic-hosted SaaS architecture built on the WP REST API that makes it easier for users to add and configure store features. Real-time USPS shipping rates for US-based stores is the first of many planned hosted components. Version 2.6 introduced the new Shipping Zones feature and an updated design for account pages. In 2016, WooCommerce also released its Square integration to sync online and offline purchases and inventory.

The plan for 2017, according to the Year in Review summary, is to continue making setup and scaling easier. At WordCamp US I asked Matt Mullenweg, CEO of Automattic, what he looks for in a buying experience and how he hopes to bring that to WooCommerce.

“When I buy from an independent store online, I’m looking for it to be as friction-free as possible,” Mullenweg said. “I don’t want a lot of steps. I don’t want it to force me to register if I don’t want to. I don’t want the form to error out in weird ways – anything that breaks my trust. When I visit a website to buy something, how a site looks can increase or decrease my trust.”

WooCommerce’s official Storefront theme, which is active on more than 80,000 stores, plays an important part in shaping the buying experience for millions of customers. Mullenweg said Storefront has a lot of potential for improvement.

“With the Storefront theme there’s actually a lot we can do there to make it look like a really cool store out of the box, much like the default themes in WordPress,” Mullenweg said. “Part of the reason we change them every year is what was cool in 2012 is not cool in 2017. Fashions change, trends change. I think Woo should evolve Storefront in the same way. There’s kind of a look for independent stores right now. They’ve got a certain vibe. Let’s make it easy to do that vibe, so that you don’t have to be on Etsy or Amazon or one of the e-commerce monoliths to keep people coming to you and supporting your product.”

Mullenweg said there are features in the power packs and add-ons that could be good candidates for building into Storefront. The theme launched in 2014 and since that time has made mostly gradual improvements. The last major design improvements were released last May in version 2.0, but many store owners opt for a child theme if they want more extensive design changes to Storefront.

If WooCommerce market share continues to grow at the same rate, it could easily pass 50% of all online stores in 2017. With 53 meetups scattered across the globe – from Tokyo to Mumbai to Vancouver, the plugin is embracing the community factor that has made WordPress a success.

“I think both Jetpack and WooCommerce individually could each be bigger than WordPress.com,” Mullenweg said. “They’re both smaller than WordPress.com right now but I think each on their own could be several times larger. There are multi-billion dollar opportunities in both, so that’s what we’re working on.”

This article originally appeared on https://wptavern.com/woocommerce-powers-42-of-all-online-stores

12
Dec
2016

Create your PayPal Business Account in 6 Simple Steps:

If you are a small business owner looking to collect any forms of payment online, you would probably need to setup a PayPal Business account (or at least, engage a similar service). Setting up this account would allow you to take credit and debit card payments, direct payments from your customers’ personal PayPal accounts as well as online cheque payments. Luckily for business owners who have limited amount of time and technical expertise, PayPal has made it pretty straightforward to set up a business account. Just a few steps and you’re done!

To make things even simpler, we have compiled a step-by-step walk through of how you can create your own PayPal Business account.

  1. Visit PayPal’s site and click “Sign Up Now”.
  2. Choose the option “Receive Payments with Paypal”. screen-shot-2016-12-12-at-4-04-11-pm
  3. Sign up for your business account with a unique email address that is not tagged to any other PayPal accounts. Then proceed on to fill up your business and account holder’s information. screen-shot-2016-12-12-at-4-04-55-pm
  4. Open up the verification email that PayPal will send to you after completing the above steps.
  5. Log into your PayPal account and enter the remaining details needed to complete creating your PayPal Business account. At this point, you would need your bank account details that you would like any payments to be credited into. PayPal will then send a verification request to your bank in the form of two small deposits. This takes about 3-5 days.
  6. After you see the transactions from PayPal in your account, you can log into your PayPal Business account again to complete setting up your account.

That’s it! Now, you have your PayPal Business account.

For more information on developing an eCommerce site, feel free to approach our account managers at hello@akimitechnologies.com

13
Oct
2016

Responsive Upscaling: Large-Screen E-Commerce Design

The responsive design revolution is truly upon us (if it hasn’t already happened!), and even though e-commerce websites haven’t picked up responsive design quite as aggressively as in other industries, it’s becoming increasingly popular.

So far, most of the responsive design thinking has revolved around covering the range of experiences from mobile to desktop. Yet little attention has been paid to the opportunities for expanding that range beyond the standard desktop screen, to create an experience optimized for modern large-scale displays. Consider this:

  1. Only 18% of the 50 leading US e-commerce websites that we benchmarked earlier this year optimize their design for large monitors (yet 94% of those websites have a design optimized for mobile devices).
  2. Approximately three-quarters of e-commerce sales still happen on PCs, not mobile devices (see here, here and here).
  3. About one third of those users visit on screens wider than 1350 pixels (seehere, here and here). (Note: There is, of course, a difference between screen and browser width — the actual number of users with a browser this wide will be lower. We recommend that you track browser sizes in your web statistics for the most accurate picture of how significant this segment is on your website.)

Based on these statistics, crafting an optimized experience for users with large screens should seem well worth the effort. In fact, designing for big screens might turn out to be the next frontier of responsive e-commerce design.

In this article, we’ll explore how e-commerce designers could use responsive upscaling to craft a tailored experience for users with big screens. We’ll cover one core principle, along with 11 ideas for upscaling different parts of the e-commerce experience to deal with the various usability challenges observed during our e-commerce usability studies. This article was originally published by the Baymard Institute.

IKEA’s results page
Many e-commerce sites don’t make use of available space on larger screens. The result: often a lot of white space surrounding a rather crammed search results page. (View large version)

Notice all of the white space surrounding IKEA’s rather crammed search results page. During our e-commerce product list study, it became clear that in aesthetically driven product verticals, such as home decor, users need large thumbnails to accurately evaluate products. Utilizing the extra screen space to provide that is one of many “responsive upscaling” ideas for e-commerce websites to consider.

The extra screen real estate afforded by large screens is typically left unused as vast seas of white, while the actual page content is crammed into a tight design optimized to fit a laptop screen. At a very minimum, content could be given a little more breathing room, with some additional white space between elements on large-sized monitors.

Yet “responsive upscaling” can be taken much further, to provide a superior experience for users on large monitors by using the extra space to provide larger images, additional product columns, better page context and easier access to relevant website actions (filtering and sorting, “Add to Cart” buttons, etc.).

There are fundamentally two ways to utilize the extra space: insert additional content on the page (i.e. content that’s only available at the large-scale resolutions), and present existing page content in a different way (i.e. reposition elements, change their layout, scale up, etc.).

You’ll notice that all of the examples in this article illustrate how existing pagecontent can be presented differently (sometimes dramatically so). This is because inserting entirely new page content that’s available only at the large-scale resolutions generally isn’t a good idea. There are exceptions, of course, but generally speaking, if content isn’t important enough to show in the “regular” desktop view, then it most likely isn’t important enough to be shown on bigger screens either.

02-devices-opt-small
Show the same content for all devices but “package” it differently. (View large version)

A bigger screen doesn’t mean that the user suddenly wants a cramped layout which is difficult to scan, nor does a smaller screen mean that the user would never request any kind of information that they’ve seen on the site before. Therefore, show the same content, but “package” it differently so that it is optimized for the screen it is being displayed on.

Unimportant content should never be added to the page just because there’s room for it on the page. Likewise, important content should never be left out just because screen real estate is limited (see our test findings in “How Should Your Mobile and Desktop Sites Differ?,” which documents this principle). The only time new page content should be inserted at large-scale resolutions is when that content somehow makes sense only on larger displays but not on regular screens.

So, as a general rule, a warning bell should ring when new page content is being added at large-scale resolutions. A few times it will be justified, but most often the content either will be too unimportant to show at regular screens sizes and therefore ought to be excluded from the large-scale versions too or will be actually importantand therefore should be included on the page regardless of screen size. Obviously, important content might need to be presented very differently depending on the available space, but it should be available in some shape or form in all versions of the design.

Keeping with this principle of avoiding new content and instead presenting existing content differently, let’s look at some of the many ways responsive upscaling might work on an e-commerce website.

All of the following examples have been illustrated by layering drawings onto screenshots of Wayfair.com. Now, Wayfair’s desktop design currently isn’t responsive at all (i.e. the page doesn’t scale and the layout doesn’t rearrange based on browser size), neither “up” nor “down” — the page’s width stays fixed regardless of the user’s viewport. It is, therefore, a good case for illustrating how the different types of pages on an e-commerce website could be optimized for users with large screens.

In a real implementation of these examples, other page elements would likely realign and possibly scale, too (especially page elements such as the header and footer), but for the purpose of these basic illustrations, the elements are simply shifted around a little. The examples should be seen as inspiration, and some will obviously be more appropriate to you than others, depending on your website’s product verticals and objectives.

Sign-up overlays can be made less obtrusive on large screens by ditching the overlay and instead permanently placing the dialog alongside other “above-the-fold” content. This will make the sign-up dialog less intrusive because it won’t block out the whole page, yet it will still keep the dialog highly visible because it will still be shown immediately upon page load (because it’s placed above the fold).

A sign-up overlay dialog repositioned as inline page content placed above the fold
A sign-up overlay dialog repositioned as inline page content placed above the fold. (View large version)

Now, users uninterested in the sign-up will obviously find this dialog easier to ignorebecause they won’t have to actively dismiss it anymore. However, during our usability studies, most of the test subjects simply closed traditional overlay dialogs without ever reading their content, often referring to these overlays as “popups” (see “Avoid These 5 Types of E-Commerce Graphics”). It’s a kind of overlay blindness. Those users might actually be more likely to read the sign-up dialog when it is placed inline above the page fold instead, because on seeing the element, they won’t spend all of their attention trying to find a way to dismiss it.

The most popular links from the header (for example, account and ordering links for signed-in users) and footer (customer service and FAQ links) could be displayed in a box on the home page when there’s room for them. Obviously, the links should still be accessible in their original positions within the header menus and footer sections. On large screens, these shortcuts would simply also be available directly on the home page.

Popular header and footer links displayed in a link shortcuts box on the home page
Popular header and footer links displayed in a link shortcuts box on the home page. (View large version)

This is a good example of content remaining available on the page but being displayed differently. It’s not new content, but rather existing content being displayed differently, to optimize the experience for users on large screens. In this particular case, the color of the link shortcuts box should probably be lightly faded to make it appear secondary to other content.

Home page carousels are fraught with usability issues and must be implemented very carefully to work at all (see the eight carousel requirements observed in our test studies). On larger screens, the carousel could, of course, simply scale up, making the shown slide all that much bigger. However, if the slides are square or even just reasonably tall, then scaling up the carousel slide could actually end up pushing the rest of the page’s content outside of the viewport on large monitors — decreasing the home page overview despite the increased viewport! A solution to this is turning the carousel slide into a multi-column view, with two or three slides being shown at once.

A set of carousel slides is turned into a multi-column layout
A set of carousel slides is turned into a multi-column layout. (View large version)

If the total number of slides matches the number of columns, then the problematicinteractive features of the carousel could even be hidden away in favor of a static multi-column layout of the slides. If there are more slides than columns, then they will, of course, still need slide rotation features or a grid representation with rows.

Most e-commerce vendors hope for one of two actions to follow when a user adds an item to their cart: The user goes looking for more items to add to their cart, or they buy the item in their cart. Continuing to browse for other products is obviously great for revenue, but it also means that buyer’s remorse is more likely to set in — especially if the user has a hard time navigating the website while searching for additional products.

The regular drop-down cart is inlined when the user has added one or more items
The regular drop-down cart is inlined when the user has added one or more items. (View large version)

By inlining the regular drop-down cart (available from the page header), the vendor gives the user an overview of the items already in their cart — reminding them of the great products they have already found (which, of course, they should most definitely purchase before leaving!). This gives the user easy access to the checkout process and thus helps to close the sale.

Furthermore, during our study of home page and category navigation, users were frequently observed to reopen their cart simply to glance at the names of previously added items. For instance, they might reopen the cart to see the model name of the camera they just added in order to find a matching camera case. Permanently displaying the cart will make it easier for users to find matching items, because it enables direct comparison between the product list currently being browsed and the items in the cart.

One of the most obvious ways of utilizing the extra screen real estate in grid-based product lists is to rearrange the products so that they appear across additional columns. This can greatly increase the number of products visible on the screen. In the example above, the user goes from being able to see six products in their viewport to seeing ten.

The product list grid reflows to fit additional columns on large displays
The product list grid reflows to fit additional columns on large displays. (View large version)

This approach can significantly optimize the product list view on large screens, but do it with care. If the number of product columns is excessive, then the grid will ultimately become more difficult to scan because users will drown in information and their eyes will have trouble travelling from one line to the next (there’s a reason text has an optimal line length).

Therefore, restrict your products to five to eight columns (depending on size of list items and product vertical) to keep users from getting lost in a sea of information.

The other obvious way to take advantage of extra viewport space in product lists is to scale up each list item to fit the user’s screen. For example, you could significantly increase the size of product thumbnails, allowing users to inspect the aesthetics of each product in much greater detail. This has palpable benefits in visually driven product verticals because it maximizes the amount of visual information conveyed, making it much easier for users to identify products to their liking.

The product list items are scaled up to provide higher-resolution images, maximizing the amount of visual information conveyed
The product list items are scaled up to provide higher-resolution images, maximizing the amount of visual information conveyed. (View large version)

However, discretion is once again advised, because simply scaling up images will often result in a vast increase in list item height (assuming that aspect ratios are maintained), which can actually greatly reduce the number of products on screen. Notice in the illustration above how the second row of columns has been pushed almost entirely out of view.

The tradeoff when scaling images up in product lists, therefore, is an increase in the level of visual detail available about each product, at the cost of limiting the user’s overview of available products due to the lower number of products that can fit in the viewport.

SCALING AND REARRANGING PRODUCT LISTS LINK

By combining the two previous approaches as the user’s screen widens — that is, by both adding columns and increasing the size of each list item — we get the best of both worlds. Visual information about each product is increased, yet the overview is maintained because the product grid rearranges to show an additional columnwhenever the list items reach a height threshold.

The product list items are both scaled up and rearranged into additional columns
The product list items are both scaled up and rearranged into additional columns. (View large version)

This way, list items can grow to show additional visual information about each product, without ever growing so tall as to compromise the total number of products that fit on the screen. Indeed, because of the additional columns, the number of products in the viewport will increase. Thus, both the total number of shown products and their individual resolution improves.

Another way to utilize extra screen space is to permanently attach filtering and sorting tools to the user’s viewport via a “sticky” element. This will give the user additional context about the products they’re currently viewing and easy access to manipulate the criteria for the product list.

Filtering tools can be repositioned into sidebars that stick to the edge(s) of the user’s screen
Filtering tools can be repositioned into sidebars that stick to the edge(s) of the user’s screen. (View large version)

Fixed content effectively makes the space available for the main content smaller. Therefore, whenever fixing content to the edges of the viewport, do so only on a screen axis that has enough space to keep the fixed content from consuming too much room across that axis. For instance, don’t fix content to the top or bottom of the screen without applying a viewport height rule (for example, a height-based@media query) that checks that sufficient space is available.

However, with appropriate checks in place, the sticky filtering sidebar could even be rearranged to occupy multiple columns, with the tools distributed across two or three columns. If the filtering toolbar is horizontal, you could attach it to the top of the screen if the viewport is sufficiently high, or if the horizontal space is plentiful, you could reposition it into a sidebar upon scroll. Browser height can similarly be used to dynamically adjust truncation thresholds for filtering values, increasing the number of filtering values displayed before truncation sets in as the screen height goes up.

During testing, when the subjects landed on a product page and decided the product wasn’t for them after all, they would either continue browsing or leave the website. Making it easy for the user to do the former is obviously in the vendor’s interests. By displaying suggestions for alternative and supplementary products or a list of recently viewed items in the sidebar above the page fold, you instantly show users an escape route should they decide that the product they’re currently looking at isn’t for them.

Product suggestions or a list of recently viewed items may be placed in a sidebar for easy cross-product navigation
Product suggestions or a list of recently viewed items may be placed in a sidebar for easy cross-product navigation. (View large version)

Making it easy for users to navigate from one product to the next can be essential to their product-finding abilities. Of course, product categories could similarly be promoted, although be mindful of the user flow — is the user being sent back and forth between product lists and product pages, or can they go from one product to the next?

Sometimes the former is attractive because it gives the user a more coherent overview of the website’s offerings, but obviously the back-and-forth flow also introduces a lot more friction. Therefore, make sure the paths you suggest in promoted elements strike a sensible balance between category and product page destinations.

Product pages can be long. They can contain images, descriptions, specifications, customer reviews, suggestions for alternative and supplementary products, FAQs, etc.

All of our usability studies have shown that more information is almost always better (so long as the content is of good quality — that is, useful, trustworthy and reasonably accurate). Yet it also means that the user can sometimes end up very far away from the core context of the product (i.e. the name, price, any possible variations and the “Buy” button). To provide a permanent context and always keep the “Buy” button within reach, put a sticky product summary in the extra space on large screens, attaching it to the edge of the viewport as the user scrolls down the page.

A sticky product summary and “Add to Cart” button are attached to the top of the user’s screen as they scroll down long product pages
A sticky product summary and “Add to Cart” button are attached to the top of the user’s screen as they scroll down long product pages. (View large version)

This sticky product summary can basically be a slightly modified version of the product’s list item design; or, if it’s attached to the horizontal axis of the user’s screen, it can take on a more slender aesthetic. Either way, the intent is to give the user a permanent product context, enabling them to see the name, price and any variations, even if they’re deep down in customer reviews. And, of course, always keep that “Add to Cart” button within easy reach when the user is reading that rave review from a happy customer.

During checkout, plenty of horizontal space will be unused because the pages tend to be very focused and because multi-column forms can cause major usability issues during checkout. On large screens, this vast sea of white space can be appropriated by an order summary and customer support details. The order summary would be a constant element throughout the checkout experience and serve as a constant reminder of the products the user is only moments away from owning.

Order summary and customer support features are displayed in a sidebar when there’s room for it on the screen
Order summary and customer support features are displayed in a sidebar when there’s room for it on the screen. (View large version)

Meanwhile, customer support features can be moved up from their common footer position to make them readily available should the user run into trouble during the checkout process. If you’re worried about being overrun in customer support, then you can more selectively promote details based on the cart’s order value and how far into the checkout process the user is and whether they have run into validation errors.

It’s striking how few e-commerce vendors currently optimize their website’s design for large screens. Even the 18% of leading e-commerce vendors that do offer an optimized large-screen experience have really only taken the first small steps in that direction. Given the large segment of users with big screens, responsive upscaling is an area ripe with potential.

When implementing responsive upscaling, keep in mind the core principle of “same content, different packaging.” Either a piece of content will be important to all users, or it won’t be important enough to bother users on large monitors with either; just because a user has more space on their screen doesn’t mean they want a barrage of low-quality content. Instead, explore ways to present existing page content differently in order to create a better experience for users with big screens.

The 11 ideas covered in this article are all based on this principle of same content, different packaging — taking existing page content and scaling or repositioning it, sometimes significantly, other times subtly:

  1. inlining sign-up overlay
  2. header and footer shortcuts
  3. inlining carousel slides
  4. inlining filled cart
  5. additional product columns
  6. larger product list images
  7. scaling and rearranging product lists
  8. sticky filters
  9. recently viewed items
  10. sticky product page summary
  11. sticky order summary and customer support

Do you have other ideas for optimizing e-commerce websites for larger monitors? Share them in the comments section. It’s time to optimize the e-commerce experience for big-screen users, too.

This article was originally published at https://www.smashingmagazine.com/2015/08/responsive-upscaling-large-screen-e-commerce-design/

03
Oct
2016

4 Must-Have Ecommerce Automations

Technology has come to an exciting place that allows us to automate nearly any process or procedure that would have historically clogged up our days — and sometimes nights. The beauty of many of these automations is that they’ve become rather inexpensive to create — another benefit of advancing technology — so there is often strong competition in the space.

What does this mean to you as the consumer? It means that you have options, and they seem to get better every day.

Let’s take a look at four must-have ecommerce automations that have the capacity to save enormous amounts of time.

1. Shipstation

Early on in a startup, it likely makes sense to keep control of as many of the processes that you possibly can. Now, I know that I’m preaching “automation” in this article, which would typically mean utilizing the services of a third-party logistics (3PL) firm for order fulfillment. I do, however, believe that at the point of launching your product — and for at least the following few months — it makes sense to control all processes that have a direct interaction with your customer.

With that said, Shipstation is a tool that integrates with your shopping cart and your Stamps.com, UPS or FedEx accounts. Rules — called “automations” — can be easily set that allow you to login to Shipstation and just click “print,” resulting in the creation of all necessary packing slips and shipping labels — an extremely simple and incredible time saver.

2. Desk

You know when you’re on a site and are in search of help, then stumble upon its “support forum” that’s chock full of helpful articles and the ability to submit a ticket to the company for further assistance? That’s Desk — or one of its handful of competitors. This automation is important because it allows you to create and host a public and ongoing dialogue between you and your customers, which can reduce your inbound questions tremendously by providing the answers to the most often asked questions in a living and breathing forum.

When you have a “ticket submission” from an inquiring consumer, you can create “macros” — or automated responses — for your most typical questions that allow you to respond in seconds with what feels like a personal touch. You can also set up a live chat function, along with a laundry list of other options.

Related: Shyp Wants to Make Online Shopping Returns Easy Peasy

3. Facebook videos

Yes I know, this typically wouldn’t be included as an “automation,” but it has worked well for automating revenue so I’m doing it anyway! My reasoning is this: If you can figure out how to use Facebook videos within your ad platform, you can effectively automate your marketing, and thus, automate your revenue generation in a surprisingly controllable manner.

For example, at BottleKeeper we use the Facebook video platform as our main source of daily customer acquisition. We have the system dialed in to the point that it requires less than 15 minutes of maintenance per day and generates a scarily dependable revenue stream.

4. WooCommerce

If you’re going to sell something online, hence ecommerce, you’re going to need a shopping cart — unless of course you’re a master programmer and intend to build one yourself, which is still probably a bad idea. The good news is that there are a number of great options that will plug right into your website that are both easy to setup and maintain, as well as mobile optimized — which is incredibly important.

As mentioned before, there are a number of options — Shopify, Magento — but we’ve had the best success with WooCommerce, which happens to have a plugin or extension for about anything you could possibly need. Creating a subscription payment system, want a rewards or referral program or in need of a certain reporting function? No worries, just plug it in.

03
Oct
2016

9 Tips to Make Your Ecommerce Business Wildly Successful

In 2015 and for years to come, the ecommerce economy is expected to continue its upward trajectory and rapid growth. As an entrepreneur, this opportunity for success and sustainability is exciting, promising and intriguing. Whether you’ve already been involved with the launch of an ecommerce business in the past or are looking to get involved with your first venture, now is the time to get your foot in the door. Indeed, from 2010 to 2013, total U.S. retail ecommerce sales increased from $167.3 billion to $263.3 billion. Last year, that number jumped up to $304.1 billion, and trends suggest 2015 will top off somewhere around $347.3 billion. For perspective, total estimated retail sales in the U.S. came in around $3.19 trillion for 2014. That means ecommerce sales made up approximately 9.5 percent of total U.S. sales — and that share is expected to grow.

However, those numbers pale in comparison to the predictions financial analysts and industry experts are suggesting for the next three years. In 2016, 2017 and 2018, sources say the total projected U.S. retail ecommerce sales will come in around $392.5, $440.4, and $491.5 billion, respectively. If those numbers hold true, that will be more than a 41 percent growth from this year to the end of 2018.

While the ecommerce economy is poised for significant growth in the coming months and years, you can only expect to see results if you approach it in the right way. That means focusing on the following critical tips for ecommerce success.

1.  Don’t rush the launch.

One of the biggest mistakes unsuccessful ecommerce entrepreneurs make is forcing or rushing the launch of a website. You only get one shot at launching your website and you can’t mess this up. While it’s okay to purchase your domain name and throw up some sort of “Coming Soon” page, you should avoid the big reveal until you’ve laid some substantial ground work (SEO, content marketing, social media, paid advertising, etc.).

2.  Put the focus on the user.

It’s no secret that the biggest shortcoming of ecommerce businesses is the inability to let their customers touch, feel, smell, and see (firsthand) products before making a decision. While there’s currently no solution for solving this problem, you can compensate for this deficiency in other areas of the business. Some of the best tips include offering appropriate pricing, giving free shipping and making the checkout process easy with simplified shopping carts.

3. Test absolutely everything.

Before, during and after you launch any ecommerce business, you should invest in testing and analytics. Think like the customer and figure out what’s working, what’s not, and the why behind those answers. Here’s a look at some of the best A/B testing tools.

4. Work closely with social.

Any ecommerce entrepreneur that tells you he outsources social media or delegates it to other team members is crazy. Social media is the heartbeat of your business, as it gives you an uninterrupted glance into the lives of your customers. While it’s perfectly fine to have a social-media manager, it’s pertinent that you’re involved with it, too.

5. Incorporate social elements.

Going along with the previous tip, it’s a great idea to include social elements on your ecommerce sites. Things like product reviews and testimonials follow buttons and even social login options all help the conversion funnel.

6. Go mobile.

Bill Siwicki of Internet Retailer references Goldman Sachs, saying, “Tablets will play an increasingly important role as worldwide consumer spending via mobile jumps from $204 billion in 2014 to $626 billion in 2018…” If you aren’t building ecommerce businesses with mobile in mind, you may be irrelevant in three to five years.

7. Stay on top of SEO.

As the ecommerce economy experiences rapid growth, more and more businesses will be entering this increasingly crowded space. That means it will be more important than ever to stay on top of SEO in order to stand out from the competition. Connecting with a skilled SEO will help you stay competitive in the long run.

8. Collect information.

Unless you plan on launching a single site and stepping away (most entrepreneurs are tempted to keep trying), it’s critical that you collect customer information and build databases to aid future launches.

9. Continue evolving.

Finally, never stop evolving. Technology, trends and customer tastes will change, and so must you if you want to succeed in such a variable market.

With these nine tips, you can be well on your way to becoming a successful ecommerce-based entrepreneur.

Interested to build an ecommerce site , talk to us here – http://akimitechnologies.co/contact/

This article originally appeared here – https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/246223.

Image Credit – http://www.shutterstock.com/

02
Oct
2016

6 User Experience Tips That Will Unlock Your Ecommerce Success

eCommerce success is heavily influenced by user experience (UX); do it right and you can make your numbers, do it wrong and you’ll be in the red.

Think of the websites that you shop at regularly. Apart from the actual products or services, what is it about them that appeals to you and keeps you coming back? Is it:

  • The ease of navigation?
  • The clarity and conciseness of content?
  • The degree of custom personalization that you experience each time you revisit?

It’s probably a combination of the above, as these are some of the many important design factors that comprise an awesome user experience (UX).

Overall, UX should be intuitive and efficient to encourage visitors to trust you, buy from you and keep coming back for more. Here, we explore 6 UX tips that will boost your online presence and increase your revenue, converting your traffic into loyal returning customers.

1. Increase Your Website Speed Through a CDN

Slow page load speed is a massive deterrent for customers: each lagging second brings them one step closer to bouncing from your site and either heading over to a competitor’s site or just abandoning their cart altogether.

How much does page load speed affect the common eCommerce retailer? KissMetrics published that, ”if an e-commerce site is making $100,000 per day, a 1 second page delay could potentially cost you $2.5 million in lost sales every year,” which means that those lost seconds add up in a big way over time.

Increasing the speed of your site through a content delivery network (CDN) is a crucial solution to this problem, especially if your eCommerce site has a global audience. Why? Using a CDN reduces latency time and increases page load speed.

Let’s break it down: a CDN is a network of servers that delivers web pages and content based on the geographic location of a user, the origin of a webpage and the content delivery server. This means that when a user requests to see a page that is part of a CDN, the server that is geographically closest to the user responds to the request and sends the requested page. This reduces the amount of time it takes the host server to receive, process and act on requests for page resources – and increases the chance of your customer sticking around on your site.

SEE ALSO: Magento 2.0: Things to Consider Before Switching Platforms 

2. Suggest Supplementary Products on the Product Page

In a supermarket, things that relate to each other go together. You’d never, for example, find toilet paper far away from the paper towels. Why? Stores are usually laid out so that customers not only find what they want, but also have the opportunity to check out similar items that may interest them.

An eCommerce retailer’s online store should be designed the same way: this kind of product discoverability is one of the most important UX elements in online retail.

6 user experience (ux) wins that any ecommerce retailer can implement

By suggesting supplementary products, accessories and add-ons on the actual product page, retailers can streamline their customers’ shopping experience, providing them with everything they might want in one central location. This kind of upselling and cross-selling always translates into increased conversions, average order value and revenue. Why? If customers constantly have to go back and search through categories to find the supplementary products that they are looking for, they are more likely to get distracted and bounce from the page. Conversely, if these products are readily available, they are more likely to stay, shop and convert.

3. Include a “Recently Viewed” Module

Making customers use the “back” button to revisit their previously viewed items is like edging them towards the back door and out your shop –  it’s an extra step that most potential customers are not interested in taking. From their perspective, once the item is out of sight, it’s usually completely out of mind and not worth the effort of relocating.

That’s why we recommend that you save your customers the hassle of having to re-find items by including a “recently viewed” section in either the footer or in a more prominent sidebar of your site pages. Why? Customers are more likely to expand their product searches if they know that they can easily navigate back to where they were or review items that caught their attention along the way.

6 user experience (ux) wins that any ecommerce retailer can implement

 

Including a “recently viewed” module on every page, then. not only helps customers compare products and check the compatibility of accessories, but also encourages them to explore a previously visited category even further. This could result in a fuller shopping cart and more conversions down the line.

4. Use a Fixed Navigation Bar for Mobile Devices

We live in an era of smartphones and mobile devices: today, more than ever, people are using their phones and tablets to browse websites, read emails and do their online shopping. Even further, research published on KissMetrics shows that 78% of mobile searches for business information result in a purchase, which means that not only are people using their phones – they’re also buying on their phones.

From a UX perspective, then, having responsive mobile navigation is a completely essential part of any eCommerce marketing strategy. A quick way that eCommerce retailers can create this positive mobile UX is by including a fixed navigation bar. This helps users – no matter where they are on a page – to quickly get the information that they need without scrolling back up, which means maximum content, minimal effort, and increased conversions overall.

5. Use a Clear and Attention-Grabbing Call-to-Action

Attracting site visitors is only half the battle: once shoppers have landed on your homepage, they need to be motivated to move along in their buyer’s journey and convert into paying customers. An effective, enticing call-to-action (CTA) is a quick and easy way to make this happen.

6 user experience (ux) wins that any ecommerce retailer can implement

So what does an effective CTA look like? It depends on a variety of factors, including audience, brand identity and website page. Abercrombie & Fitch, for example, converts customers by offering a minimalistic, clutter-free browsing experience, while Zappos draws its customers’ eyes to their “add to shopping cart” button by making it bright orange and hard to ignore.

Test the following by measuring conversion rates:

  • Test colors
  • Use elements like eye-catching hero images for limited-time sales
  • Play with your copy
  • Keep the wording simple
  • Always ensure that your CTA is a highly visible, above-the-fold button

Once you have different options, make sure to A/B test and consult your analytics to see what your site visitors are responding to and determine what really works for you.

6. Simplify and Secure the Checkout Process

There are two parts to having a successful UX strategy. First your UX design needs to draw users in and make it easy and inviting for them to find the products that they want. Second, it must encourage them to quickly and efficiently make their purchase. How? By offering a simple, easy-to-navigate checkout process that highlights security and trustworthiness.

Specifically, retailers should:

  • Automate the order process so that things like availability, colors, sizes, add-ons, payment methods and shipping details all display on the same page when a user selects a product.
  • Automatically add in phone codes when a customer selects a country
  • Include a progress bar that shows customers where they are in the checkout process
  • Clearly convey a security and privacy policy on their checkout page
  • Add text confirming that the payment process is secure

These elements not only work to reduce clicks and improve UX, but also establish authority and reliability, thereby building your customers’ trust and increasing the conversion rate and lifetime value of each site visitor.

Key Takeaways

For any eCommerce website, the customer is king. This means that retailers have to do what they can to give their customers a positive, memorable shopping experience. Creating a UX design that is easy-to-navigate, attractive and high-converting is a quick and effective means of accomplishing this task and creating a successful online presence. Not sure if your eCommerce site is getting the job done? Maybe it’s time to contact an eCommerce marketing specialist to get a site audit and see exactly how your site stacks up.

18
Aug
2016

How Much Does An Ecommerce Website Cost?

How Much Do E-commerce Websites Cost?
 boss-fight-stock-photos-free-high-resolution-images-photography-women-woman-iphone
E-commerce websites come in many different types and scale of operations. There are many ways to get one set up depending on the scale of your business and the stage that you are willing to adopt for eCommerce as compared to your offline business. So what are some typical costs? It’s not an easy question to answer but here’s an overview.

Whether you’re starting a brand new e-commerce site or rebuilding an existing one, these are the main considerations that will influence the cost:

  • What are your specific business specific needs? Where are your customers and what do you plan to automate?
  • Which platform do you want to use?
  • What expert help is available for you?

HOSTED VS SELF-HOSTED

Before we get too ahead of ourselves, you may be wondering about hosting. Should you host your website yourself? Or should you use a hosted platform? There are advantages and disadvantages of both.

HOSTED

A hosted platform is a piece of software that runs on some other company’s server. More often than not, you won’t have access to the code that runs your site. Shopify and Wix are good examples of this approach.

desk-worker

Advantages

  • Easy to use – usually these have one web interface which means there’s not a single line of code to write.
  • Up-to-date – you will never have to worry about updates. With a hosted platform they will roll out changes as and when they need to.
  • Powerful hosting – typically these companies have impressive servers and infrastructure, which means that your website will always be fast no matter how much traffic you get.

Disadvantages

  • Hardcore Customization – because you can’t change the back end code, adding very bespoke functionality could be tricky on these platforms. This leads to alot of frustration as some of the features that you need , can’t be made available.

SELF-HOSTED

A self-hosted solution is a software that is run on your own selected hosting provider. You create and see the code and are responsible for uploading and updating it on to the server provider. Some examples are Bluehost (www.bluehost.com), Dreamhost (www.dreamhost.com) etc. If you are having any technical problems you are the one who has to sort it or ask some vendor to help.

Advantages

  • Customization – if you don’t like something you can change it. When you have access to the bank end code you can pretty much do anything – or you can pay some vendor to do anything.
  • Ownership – You don’t own the code on a hosted solution. However if you host your own software, it will always be yours and you can stay on that platform for as long as you want and have the means to control everything.

Disadvantages

  • Higher setup cost – you need to invest more in the beginning to find the right team for development and support.
  • Setup and monitoring – you need to setup everything yourself and keep track of tools for monitoring the entire system.  You will also need to continually pay for the hosting fees. However, this should also be the same for hosted platforms like Wix.

numbers-money-calculating-calculation

On a second note, if you are wondering which Content Management System (CMS) to use, you can read our summary article here.

WHAT DO YOU ACTUALLY NEED?

Before we get into pricing though, it’s important to understand the specifics of your business. It’s tempting to charge in with an all-singing, all-dancing website that features every bell, whistle and add-on available. And there’s no shortage there: every leading e-commerce platform – whether it’s Shopify, Magento, or WooCommerce – offers a wide range of apps and plug-ins to increase functions on your site. These include apps for pre-order management, customer management function, shipping and inventory management.

Do you really need all those features though? 

Perhaps not. Not yet, anyway. You’ll only overcomplicate your website before you’ve figured out what you and your customers need. Asking for more features will increase the cost, so think about what actually serves your profitability.

LESS IS MORE

Think of the Minimum Viable Product (MVP) model. This means starting with a basic version of your website. At this stage all you need to worry about is selling to the customer. This helps minimize risks, saves money on unnecessary add-ons, and ultimately lays the groundwork. By starting with a basic, bare-bones approach, you can launch earlier, which means you gain operational experience and gather customer feedback earlier. This will help you figure out the apps and new functions your website actually needs.

WooCommerce and other hosted platforms are one of the best ways of working with this model. Hosted platforms include a load of typical functionality that you’ll need when setting up an e-commerce store, like a PCI compliant checkout and inventory management, which means you don’t have to pay to re-invent the wheel. This lets you focus on finding the right design for your website, or adding bespoke features.

Startup Stock Photos

CALL IN THE EXPERTS

It’s true that there’s no “one size fits all” solution when it comes to quality e-commerce websites, so eventually you’ll want an agency to help you out.

In the long run, a professional eCommerce development agency will help you make money by making your website better and by following best practice. They can help you save money too by setting up your website so that it’s easy to update.

Choosing the right agency can be difficult. Here some things to look for in an agency:

  • A commitment to increasing sales and an understanding of how to turn visitors into customers.
  • Great customer reviews and look out for search ranking when you google “eCommerce website development”. A high ranking means that many people are looking at that same company.
  • A proven track record for developing bespoke projects.
  • Customer testimonials.
  • Clear fixed pricing and schedules that work to your requirements.
  • Honesty – if you think an agency is only telling you what you want to hear, it’s possible they’re not being upfront about how tricky setting up an ecommerce website can be!

HOW MUCH DO E-COMMERCE WEBSITES COST?

So now we’ve looked at how to assess your business’s needs and find an agency that works for you, there’s only one big question left – just what will it cost you? There is, of course, a wide range of pricing available and just as there’s no one size fits all in terms of website design and functionality, this is also true of pricing too. We’ve done our best to showcase some benchmark rates to help with your decision making.

DESIGN AND BUILD

  • Around $4k – $6k for a very basic site from a small agency or freelancer, probably built on WordPress.
  • Between $20k to $30k for something more sophisticated that is built from scratch for you by 5 – 30 person agency. It is a wages game, so assuming that the average wage is $5k. Each eCommerce project will require minimally 4 people to do the job i.e. Project Manager, Designer, Front End Developer and Backend Developer. Each team will take 2-3 projects at one time and it takes 2-3 months to finish the job. You should be expecting a fair price to be around there.
  • $50k for more complex projects
  • $100k+ when working with larger agencies on larger technology stacks.

LICENSING/SOFTWARE FEES

  • If you use a hosted solution like Shopify or Squarespace, you won’t pay an initial cost but you will have monthly fees between $30 and $300/month. This fee includes upgrades and security updates, which you’ll need to pay someone else to do on a self-hosted solution.
  • WordPress is open-source so it’s free to download and install. You’ll need to host it yourself. Hosting cost with Bluehost is estimated at $8-$10/month.

HOSTING

  • The hosted solutions will include the hosting cost in their monthly fees.
  • If you expect a lot of traffic you’ll need to spend money on servers and you can consider the bigger players like Microsoft Azure or Amazon Web Services.

ADHOC WORK

For a hosted website the pricing structure is a little different and there are several things to consider:

  • Web design agencies can charge between $40 – $150 per hour. The advantage is that their capacity is more predictable and they’ll have the skillset you need to get your project done, but having that skilled team at the ready comes at a cost. More importantly, they have the experience and they are more likely to get things done based on their experience with clients that are similar to yourself.
  • Freelance developers can cost anywhere from $25 – $70 per hour depending on their skill set and experience.
  • Offshore developers are usually the cheapest option at $5 – $20 per hour. However, do bear in mind the skillset and more importantly the level of professionalism attitude that you will be getting. The experience varies on a case by case basis.

However, with all of these options are pros and cons, so be sure to do your research and be aware of any offers that sound too good to be true.

When agreeing on a cost, do ensure that the price quoted is the total cost and that there are no hidden extras. An e-commerce website is a huge project and will inevitably take time to perfect. Before anything you need to think about exactly you want and need from your ecommerce site and then ensure your designer/developer will be able to deliver it.

The real answer to the question “How much should an e-commerce website cost you?” is simple: nothing’s for certain. Every business is different, and every business develops in its own way. As an extension of your business, the e-commerce website will reflect that as will the money you spend on it.

FINALLY – WHAT DO WE CHARGE?

  • Drop us an email and we will share with you our standard package. It will be clear and transparent that applies to all of our clients. You can contact us here
27
Mar
2016

4 Tactics Used to Generate Traffic and Sales With User Generated Content

Today, stores need to do more than just set up an online shop and wait for the customers to roll in: they need to engage with potential customers over email, on social networks, in search results, and more.

Content marketing has become of vital importance to every online store to attract new customers, stay engaged with current customers, and build relationships with their shoppers.

There’s a way for you to make finding the right content to resonate with your audience easier:

Ask your shoppers to create content!

After all, there’s no one better suited to the job than the shoppers themselves.

Your customers know how to create content that appeals perfectly to your target audience – because they are your target audience!

As combining content and commerce grows from a trend to a necessity, user-generated content is, in many ways, the future of ecommerce content marketing.

So how do you tap into the power of user-generated content (UGC) and harness it to drive traffic and sales?

I’m going to walk you through 4 tactics to get you started seeing results from UGC today.

1. Increase Conversions With UGC

When visitors are on your site, you need to do everything you can to push them to purchase.

And purchase anxiety is one of the top reasons shoppers don’t buy.

Purchase anxiety comes from fear: fear that the product won’t be what they expected, fear that the shipping will take too long, fear that they’ll invest their money without receiving a good return.

Online shoppers are taking a risk when they buy – they can’t see the product in front of them, and they aren’t exactly sure what will arrive in the mail. This unknown is the hurdle that keeps shoppers from buying.

As a store owner, you need to do everything in your power to boost their confidence – make them feel they know what to expect – and gain their trust.

But after a certain point, customers don’t want to hear from store owners – they want to hear from other shoppers like them, who have firsthand experience with the product.

Here are a few easy ways to display UGC on your store to increase trust and conversions:

Display Reviews on Your Product Pages. When you think of displaying UGC, the first thing that comes to mind is probably reviews. That’s because this is the easiest form of UGC for ecommerce stores to collect and display, and it’s the most common type of UGC for ecommerce stores to use in marketing.

Check out how Beardbrand, a Shopify store, uses reviews and review stars to increase customer trust in her products:

BeardBrand user generated contentBeardBrand reviews
via BeardBrand

Use Community Q&A to Engage Current and Past Customers. Another smart way to include UGC in your site is to use a community Q&A. A community Q&A allows customers to ask and answer questions that new shoppers can reference when looking for answers to specific questions, like “How was the fit?” “How quick did it ship?” or “Does it look like the picture?”

Beardbrand also uses community Q&A to engage users and answer questions that are barriers to purchase.

BeardBrand community QA

via BeardBrand

Display Customers’ Images In Addition to Product Images. Customers want to see what products look like outside of the product images. They want to see what products look like in real life. For this reason, photos of your products in use, submitted by your customers, are an awesome way for customers to really get a feel for what your products look like.

2. Get Social Traffic that Converts with Social Proof

User generated content will do more than just help you get more social traffic. They can help you get more of the social traffic that matters.

Below, check out the data on how reviews increase social media conversions. Considering the average conversion rate is 2%, this shows how much the power of social proof can persuade people to purchase.

Conversion rate of reviews to social media

Source

Why?

UGC gives shoppers social proof, or proof that others will vouch for the brand and product.

How to use user-generated content to drive more social traffic:

Share UGC on your social pages. Share your best user-contributed photos, videos, questions, reviews, and more on your brand’s social pages to show visitors how much your customers love you.

Pura Vida, another Shopify store, shares reviews on their Facebook page to show off satisfied customers.

Pura Vida bracelets on Facebook

Ask your customers to share UGC on their social profiles. It’s one thing when you show a good review, but another when a customer shows all their friends on social that they loved a product enough to share. In order to encourage customers to share their reviews, provide incentives, like rewards, for them to share their own UGC on their pages.

Run an Instagram campaign to get photos and create buzz. UGC Instagram campaigns are great not only for gaining material you can display on your store, but also for creating social buzz. Marc by Marc Jacobs’ Instagram campaign is a prime example of this. Not only did tons of fans submit photos for the chance to be a Marc by Marc Jacobs model, but tons of people who didn’t submit UGC watched the competition with excitement.

Instagram hashtag campaignYou can recreate this for your store by initiating an exciting Instagram campaign with a big prize that people will want to talk about. For example, if you sell baby supplies, you could run a Halloween Instagram UGC campaign of the cutest babies in costume. Not only would you get content to use and extra exposure, but also people would get excited by the content being shared.

3. Get the Most Out of Your Digital Marketing Budget With UGC Social Ads

Many brands miss the mark on social because they don’t understand how to sell on social. It’s important to remember that people are on social to see updates from friends, family, and colleagues, not find products to buy.

In order to effectively sell on social, you need to understand how to join the conversations that are actually happening. User-generated content shows people real opinions and photos, not brand-sponsored advertisements.

In addition to sharing reviews on their Facebook page, Pura Vida also uses reviews in their Facebook ads to increase trust and drive sales.

Facebook carousel adsWe took a look at how stores who included UGC in their advertisements fared, and the results were staggering. When stores included UGC in their ads, they saw:

  • 4x higher click-through rates
  • 50% cost of acquisition
  • 50% drop in cost-per-click

Because ads with customer content comes across as more natural, using the customer’s voice to promote the product, rather than a marketing slogan, they fit in much better.

4. Drive Organic Traffic with Fresh Content

UGC helps you drive more organic traffic because it improves your results in search engines. UGC is amazing for SEO because it gives search engines a constant stream of fresh, relevant content.

Month-on-month traffic growth using user-generated contentHow to get SEO benefits from UGC:

It’s important to own your UGC, rather than only store it on a platform like Instagram or Twitter, because you can only get SEO credit for UGC that’s stored on your site.

So, while Instagram may be great for collecting UGC, when it’s on your site, you need to make sure that the tags and alt tags are optimized for SEO.

A big problem for many ecommerce sites is that their product reviews rely on AJAX, iframes, or subdomains. This makes it very difficult, and sometimes even impossible, for search engines to match product reviews with product pages.

So how can you get the full SEO credit for your UGC?

The best solution is to embed review content as part of the html code (also known as in-line SEO), although this requires a complicated integration. While difficult, it ultimately increases crawl frequency and generates almost two times referring search phrases and non-brand organic traffic.

An easier alternative than embedding review content in HTML is to add a minisite, or a static webpage that contains all the data generated from product reviews.

Bonus: Get unexpected benefits by using UGC

In addition to driving more traffic and sales, you can also get many more unexpected benefits from UGC.

  • Collect new product ideas. Ask customers to send in their feedback and ideas for new products through a survey tool like TypeForm. Then, once you start to see ideas your customers continually request, you can use a tool like Quirky to collect these product ideas, invite customers to collaborate, and turn customer ideas into a reality.
  • Learn how to communicate better. Through your customer’s content, you can find out the language they’re really using. There’s no point in advertising your store as luxurious if your customers are looking for bargains. To find frequently appearing words and phrases, enter your store URL in a tool like Wordle or TagCrowd.
  • Save (a ton) of digital marketing budget. Using UGC allows you to collect tons of new content you can repurpose in marketing materials. This saves you money trying to create your own marketing materials. You can get more effective content (for free!) from your customers.

How to get started collecting UGC

Great, so now you have all these awesome ideas for using user-generated content, but how do you get UGC in the first place?

  • Integrate reviews or testimonials on your site and offer discounts or coupons for writing or sharing reviews.
  • Use in-site FAQ sections and forums that encourage discussion between users and build up long-tail keywords.
  • Find a cohesive hashtag for a marketing campaign or your brand and encourage users to use it when they contribute UGC.

This article is first published here – https://www.shopify.com/blog/68976197-4-tactics-to-drive-traffic-and-sales-with-user-generated-content?utm_source=exacttarget&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=digest&ad_signup=true

Conclusion

Getting started marketing with UGC is easier than you think, and it has tons of benefits. 

19
Mar
2016

10 Useful and Fun WordPress Plugins

One of the huge advantages of the WordPress platform is the vast ecosystem of plugins.  There are literally thousands of plugins providing features you didn’t even know existed.  Below is a quick roundup of ten WordPress plugins that might add some utility or just a little fun to your site.

Visual Composer Designing a beautiful site without touching any code is now a reality.  Visual Composer is a drag and drop site editor that makes it drop dead simple to build a WordPress site with no programming knowledge required.

Real 3D FlipBook – Create a beautiful 3D Flipbook from a pdf or image quickly and easily.  This is an easy way to bring static PDFs to life or showcase your images in a more interesting, engaging style.

Monarch Social Sharing – It’s essential that all your content is enabled for easy social sharing.  The Monarch social sharing plugin not only makes it easy to add these sharing features, it provides one of the cleanest looking social sharing solutions.  From floating sidebar options to pop-up or on image options, Monarch makes it easy to share your fantastic content.

Gravity Forms – Forms may not be the sexiest element of your website, but it’s important that they look good, work well and are not a huge headache to create.  Gravity Forms makes it easy to create beautiful forms for your site quickly and easily.

Adsanity – At some point you may consider monetizing your website with advertising.  Adsanity can help you implement advertising on your site without a lot of complexity or expense.  Their solution is beginner-friendly but can scale as your business grows.  An excellent solution for making a little revenue from your hard-earned traffic.

WPtouch – Even a responsive WordPress theme doesn’t always provide quite the right mobile experience.  WPtouch allows you to customize the mobile experience users have with your site so you can be sure users have the optimal experience with your site regardless of what device they’re using.

Webba Booking – Allow users to book appointments with you online with this slick little plugin.  Your customers will love the convenience and you can have this feature up and running in no time.

Inbound Brew – Inbound marketing is all the rage but many of the inbound marketing platforms are expensive and beyond the reach of many small businesses.  Inbound Brew provides a simple, WordPress-based solution that turns your site into an inbound marketing machine.  A fantastic alternative you can have up and running quickly.

Polylang – Chances are good, even for a small business, that your customers are coming from all over the world.  At some point the option to provide your site content in multiple languages could be useful or even essential.  Polylang provides a multitude of options for adding multiple languages to your site to support a more global audience.

The Force – This one is just for fun.  Install this plugin and you’ll see random Star Wars quotes in the top right of every admin page.

The plugins mentioned here don’t even scratch the surface of the WordPress plugin universe.  If you have something in mind chances are good that someone has built what you need.  A comprehensive directly can be found here.