Posted by & filed under Content Strategy, ecommerce, SEO Strategy.

mobile-commerce-strategyWhile desktop shopping numbers still largely dwarf mobile spending, that’s changing quickly. Millennials and Gen X shoppers love their mobile devices, and the former is set to become the largest demographic as Baby Boomers age. Eventually, most purchasing will happen from handhelds, so getting smart about your mobile commerce strategy now is the only way to future-proof your b

1. SEO Matters Everywhere

A solid mobile commerce strategy improves search results just as much as traditional desktop tactics. Research your keywords and deploy them carefully and strategically. Users are constantly searching on mobile (over half of searches now come from mobile devices), so make sure that your user team is focusing on mobile search results.

2. Push Special Offers to the Top

Want your users to spend more of their mobile shopping dollars on your site? Push your sales and any special discounts to the top of your mobile site so it’s the first thing shoppers see when they browse on their smartphones. You only have about 10-20 seconds to grab a user’s attention, so always give them the good news first. Entice them with money saving deals, free shipping, or free membership offers up front.

3. Platform Proof Your Mobile Site

It doesn’t matter how well thought-out your mobile commerce strategy is if no one with a new Android phone can see it. You have to constantly check your mobile site’s compatibility with operating system updates and new mobile devices. There are third parties that will do this automatically for you, so you don’t have to think about it. Often, web hosting platforms include this feature as a part of your annual contract. Scale the site so it loads quickly; load times are even more important in the mobile environment than on PCs.

 4. Feature Bite-Sized Information

Mobile ShoppingGoogle defines “micro moments” as the instantaneous moment when people use their mobile devices to look for a single piece of information, such as celebrity birthdays or last-minute shopping information while they’re standing in the checkout line. Question your micro-moment strategy:

  • How can you and your brand capitalize on micro moments?
  • What product-related information can you feature to facilitate this type of quick research?
  • How can you curate or create original content that exists solely for these types of searches?
  • What kind of useful, brand-relevant information can you deliver for customers while they’re on the go?

5. Develop a Separate Mobile Ad Campaign

Drive users to your site with ad campaigns on social media apps that are tailored to the mobile shopper. Use Facebook’s mobile ad developer tool and cultivate images and videos that pop. Find out which other content-based apps your users spend a lot of time on. Can you do an affordable ad buy on these apps? Include smart and easy to navigate calls to action to make it as convenient as possible for buyers to respond to your mobile ad.

6. Use Push Notifications Creatively

Millennials love push notifications from their social networks. Use yours carefully and thoughtfully when you’re making a big announcement. Mobile shopping isn’t just about impulse purchases. Younger shoppers are educated and aware of value. Tie your marketing campaigns into other promotions and make them as interactive as possible. Personalize your push notifications whenever possible. Experiment with humor and personality.

7. Measure, Measure, Measure

The success of your mobile commerce strategy depends almost entirely on how well you measure and collect data. Try out different campaigns in small batches to clearly defined groups and measure how well each worked. Let the data drive your behavior as a marketer. Your assumptions are never as important as response rates and clicks.

Need help putting together a mobile content marketing strategy? We’re here to help. Reach out to us today and find out more about how our platform and ecosystem of writers, editors, and project managers can support your content goals.

Posted by & filed under Social media marketing.

The starting point for optimizing your current social media strategy is to take some advice from Jay Baer, President of Convince & Convert e-commerce consulting services:

“Companies should focus more on how to BE social, and less on how to DO social media.”

It’s true that social media optimization (SMO) does require some website and network analytics and administrative tools for measuring progress with your strategy, based on quantifiable markers like page views, social shares, likes, and retweets. But the willingness to interact with your audience, to give them solid, valuable content, and to put in ample time to do both are fundamental to any successful social media marketing campaign.

Whether your current strategy has been yielding most or all of the results you wanted at the outset, or whether it has gaps in some parameters that have created a mixed bag of results, you can tweak it to obtain even greater or more balanced outcomes. Most experts suggest you should approach the SMO task by revisiting the plan that brought you your results. The optimization tips here are reminders of why and how you developed your social media strategy in the first place, peppered with some tools and insights that may help you freshen or revitalize your strategy.

Do You Need to Re-Shift or Narrow the Objectives of Your Social Media Strategy?

Most experts agree that relying on social media for e-commerce is the product of any number of company marketing goals and objectives. And they suggest that, although the goals are interrelated, only one or two specific social media objectives should be driving strategy.

Look at the following list and revisit what you and your company want from your strategy.

  • Increase brand awareness
  • Drive traffic to your website
  • Generate new leads
  • Grow revenue
  • Boost brand engagement
  • Build customer loyalty
  • Build a community around your business
  • Drive social signals for SEO
  • Increase mentions in the press
  • Research and learn about your customers

Each one of these objectives has its own specific tactics and analytic markers for measuring their success. But the key is determining which one is most appropriate for your company, its mission, its resources, and its future.

The Goals That Many Social Media Marketers Pursue

A 2014 “Social Media Optimization Survey” by Software Advice and Adobe found that marketers had their greatest success with two social media marketing objectives specifically — gaining new followers and enhancing recognition of their brands. They were least successful at using social media to generate leads and to drive direct-response sales.

What this finding may suggest is that the primary objective of a social media campaign should target less at generating revenue and more at establishing an audience, and then using subsequent marketing strategies like emails to improve sales. Again, the trick is to be social.

Use the SMART Model To Reset Your Goals and Objectives

Goal-setting theory is a fundamental management technique and is particularly appropriate in marketing. One of the theoretical models that SMO experts agree is most useful in social media marketing is called SMART. To achieve your objectives, each goal has to be:

  • Specific (with precisely defined amounts or outcomes)
  • Measurable (with clear-cut indicators for monitoring progress and results)
  • Achievable (with realistic ceilings and boundaries)
  • Relevant (with strategic application and linkage to resource commitments)
  • Time bound (with target dates for specific milestones)

One of the best ways to apply the SMART model is to think in terms of the broad company goal first, and then determine how the social media objective helps achieve the broad mission in the most consistent, consequential way possible.

social-media-strategy

Source: Flickr user -Aaron Davis-

How Are Your Social Media Marketing Resources Targeted?

There are hundreds of social networks that may be appropriate for your marketing campaign. The top 10, as of 2017, include Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, YouTube, Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr, Vine, and Snapchat. Many experts agree that you shouldn’t overextend yourself and try to be everywhere at once. They also agree, however, that placing your content on multiple networks is necessary for enhancing your visibility and extending your audience reach.

Analysis (as of 2017) of statistics from an Edelmann Trust Barometer survey showed the following breakdown of company participation on social networks:

  • 23 percent are on three
  • 25 percent are on four
  • 16 percent are on five
  • 10 percent are on six
  • 3 percent are on eleven or more

Altogether, 84 percent of companies are using at least three social media networks to share their content. Yet the more revealing statistic is that a full 48 percent are using only three or four.

Are You Capturing the Right Audience?

You had customers in mind when you launched your business. But was your consumer analysis definitive enough to match your social media message with the right people?

Social media marketing experts recommend creating “buyer personas” to determine your entire target audience down to the last person who would purchase your product. Buyer personas are fictional, generalized representations of your ideal customers that capture personal characteristics. These characteristics include age and gender, income and occupation, and avocational interests, but also more specific details like motivations, problems, dislikes, habits, and other internal values.

Target the right people with the correct message by checking out online resources, including research, surveys and interviews, to create buyer personas to precisely match your social media marketing campaign.

Are You Appropriately Distributing the Content You Use to Target Social Media for E-Commerce?

Regardless of whether your content sharing on social media is visual, audio, or print — in blogs, or posts, or tweets — how you present it in the right amounts and the right time parameters is key.

Follow two rules:

1. Use the “Social Media Rule of Thirds” set forward by Hootsuite for targeting content:

  • One-third promotes your business, converts readers, and generates profit
  • One-third shares ideas and stories from thought leaders in your industry or similar businesses
  • One-third consists of personal interactions with your audience

2. Create an editorial calendar for creating content by determining:

  • Times and dates and frequency of content posting
  • The target audience for each piece of content
  • The author of each piece of content

Posted by & filed under Content Strategy.

 Blog OptimizationBy now, what you’ve read has you convinced that your e-commerce business needs a blog to build relationships with your customers, so you’ve written your first post and added it to the website. And the result is the sound of silence. It doesn’t appear that people are reading the blog at all, so what’s your next step toward winning readers’ attention? These tips will help you with winning blog optimization for the best results.

Act as a Mentor for the Best Blog Content

While the ultimate goal is to convert readers into buyers, when you write blog posts, you need a different mindset. Make it your priority to mentor potential customers beyond just your own products. Answer the readers’ questions and provide them with useful information relevant to those questions. Include quotes from authoritative sources about related topics. For example, if you sell cookware, include a statement or two about using cast-iron skillets from Ina Garten or Ree Drummond or other popular, well-known chefs and cooks.

Keeping the content up to date is important, as well. Web spiders, which crawl the web looking at sites and ranking them, don’t like sites that never change. At the least, update your blog weekly, more often if you can. For the best blog content, use original content and don’t limit posts to straight text. Be sure to include photos, videos, and even podcasts.

Make Content Easy to Read

If readers must work at deciphering your blog, they aren’t going to bother reading it. Stick with dark letters on a light — preferably white — background. Pick an easy-to-read font and use a larger size than you would for emails or printed letters. Save the fussy backgrounds and fancy scripts for special text blocks for blog optimization that keeps them coming back.

Keep the lines and the paragraphs short, as well. Having to scroll from side to side to read an entire line is not fun and may discourage readers from continuing. Keep lines to 75 characters or fewer, as much as possible. Break the copy into short paragraphs of six lines or fewer whenever possible, and use the extra white space to make the page visually appealing and easy on the eyes.

Ensure That Collecting Email Subscribers Is Easy

Conversions rely on more than just your blog, although it is an important open door. Building an email subscriber list should be the next step in your marketing strategy, so make it simple for both your readers and yourself. Add a two-step, opt-in subscription form. When readers click at the first step, a form appears for them to add their email addresses.

Take off distractions like RSS feed icons. Having readers subscribe to those feeds doesn’t do anything for you, so keep the focus on that email list by eliminating the distractions. While you are adjusting the display, add a “popular posts” section to help readers find useful information that encourages them to subscribe to the email list.

Offer an “honorable enticement” to encourage signups. Provide a special report, a webinar, or even an e-course to those who join the club. You may even want to give a small discount on the next order to those who sign up, which may also build brand trust.

Use Blog Optimization to Aim for Increased Social and Search Traffic

Generating Search TrafficGenerating a buzz about your company is another goal of your business blog and blog optimization, so you need to make sure that you are making it easy for people to share and to find you through search engines. The most obvious solution is to be sure your blog has social sharing buttons available: a quick click sends the post to Facebook, Twitter, or other social media platforms. Also, make sure that your images match the best-fit sizes for your favored social media channels. If they are either too large or too small for readers to see them well when shared, you lose all the power of pictures.

Strong headlines make a big difference in generating search traffic, too. Take care to use brand authority by mentioning the benefits of the information found in the post by using strong adjectives and numbers when feasible. Be sure your keywords and phrases appear in every headline, and aim for them showing up in the first 55 characters.

Backlinks are also valuable in generating social and search traffic. One or two authoritative links, especially from .edu or .gov sites, carry more benefits than dozens of less selective links, and making sure the anchor text includes or is relevant to your keywords is crucial. Remember to link back to your own content, as well, whether it’s to other blog posts or to your product pages.

Remember That Clean Copy Works Best

It seems obvious, but it’s easy to overlook these tips. Make sure your blog loads fast, and check that all the links work. When possible, shorten the permalinks — those used to find the site — to match your keywords. And ensure that your blog (and the rest of your website) is mobile responsive. Larger and larger numbers of people read blogs on their phones and tablets, so confirm that yours shows well on the devices.

Once you’ve incorporated these tips, sit back and “listen” to the chatter your blog generates.

Posted by & filed under ecommerce, SEO Strategy.

Image OptimizationImages are powerful tools for your product pages. As the saying goes, “A picture paints a thousand words.” However, some pictures are stronger than others for converting browsers to buyers. With these 10 tips, improve the image optimization for all your product photos to get the most from them.

Go for High-Quality Product Images

Your product photos need to be high-quality, professional images. This is not the time to save by shooting them yourself with your smartphone. If you can’t use a professional photographer, at the very least, use a good digital camera and read up on these types of shots. Focus on lighting that shows the products without glare or shadows. Keep the background simple and without distractions, and shoot at the highest possible resolution.

Show Products From Multiple Angles

When shopping online, customers give up the chance to pick up items, turn them around, and see them from all sides. To increase conversions, make up for this lack of touching and feeling the products by posting multiple images that show the items from all 360 degrees around.

Place Products in Context

Product images of isolated items, even from multiple angles, aren’t as effective as shots showing the products in use. Show off your jewelry by picturing a model wearing it, or let customers see how great your garden tools are with pictures of someone planting with them. Also, cross-sell by pairing products to show how they go together — besides that photo of the model wearing a necklace, post pictures of the matching bracelet and earrings.

Increase Photo Size for Image Optimization

A case study by Skinner Auctioneers shows that larger product images bring a 63 percent increase in conversions. If the number of pictures involved means you can’t post bigger photos, set up the page so that hovering over or clicking on the thumbnails allows viewers to zoom in. Being able to see the details of the products might be what customers need to make the final decision to purchase.

Include Product Videos

Depending on your products and your site space, consider adding a 360-degree video shot for some products. Action pictures are more impactful than static ones, and videos of products in use are very powerful. As a bonus, show more than the usual uses, giving potential buyers ideas they might otherwise miss. For example, film someone using your gardening trowel as a pet food scoop.

Name the Image Files for Web Spiders

Grab all the attention you can with your photos by using your keywords in the file names. This is an easy way to add the search terms to pages without “stuffing” them unnaturally in the text. Spiders crawling the web rank your site higher for your efforts at improving your image SEO.

Add Strong Alt Text Tags

Alt text tags appear when, for whatever reason, your product photos cannot display. They need to be in plain English — no jargon, no flowery language — and add them only to product photos, not to those elements that are purely decorative. Don’t overuse keywords in these, and do include model or serial numbers when applicable.

Reduce File Sizes

If you want customers to spend time on your e-commerce site, it needs to load quickly. Large-sized image files can slow loading down to a crawl, leaving your potential customers hanging and ready to move on to someone else’s store. Use online photo editors, like PicMonkey, Pixlr, FotoFlexer, or GIMP to condense those files of 70 kilobytes or smaller.

Choose the Best File Types

Image File FormatDeciding on the best file type, such as .jpeg, .bmp, .tiff, .gif, .png, and more might seem overwhelming, but it’s easier than you think. You only need to consider three types, and you only have to choose one of them for the product shots themselves.

Joint photographic experts group, known as .jpeg files, are best for product images. While you may lose some sharpness in the pictures, .jpeg files have a 24-bit palette, allowing up to 16 million colors. They are also less grainy than some other file types, and they transfer faster than most others, especially when compressed.

Graphics interchange format, called .gif files, and portable network graphics, or .png images, work best for non-product images like borders. They only allow for 256 colors, but they produce smaller files that load quickly. Take note that although designed specifically for web use, .png files may not be compatible with all browsers.

Pay Attention to the Thumbnails

Because you already know that you are going to set up a zoom option with your thumbnails, make these files as small as possible, even if you lose a little of the quality in the images. Customers still see the better images when they look at the larger versions. When you add the alt text tags to thumbnails, do not use identical tags as those you chose for the larger pictures.

With these tips, you can harness the power of image optimization for maximum conversions from your product pages.

Posted by & filed under Business & Entrepreneurship, ecommerce.

Product ReviewCustomers have always been king, but now they have more of a voice than ever when it comes to your brand’s success. That’s because they can influence the opinions of other shoppers worldwide with just a few simple words — a product review. According to a Zendesk-sponsored survey, 9 out of 10 people they questioned said positive reviews online shaped their choice to buy, while 86 percent said negative reviews had the same effect. Add to this the inherent bias that negative reviewers are more likely to follow through without encouragement, and you’re looking at a real need to get honest, authentic positive feedback to balance the scales. If you’re unsure how to encourage customers to leave product reviews, try one of these five techniques.

Ask: If You Never Ask, the Answer Is Always No

First and foremost, you must ask for feedback. In-person requests are often the most successful for small businesses and chains alike. If you run an online store, though, still make the ask.

Add Review Reminders to Your Normal Communications

Newsletters, invoices, product packaging, follow-up emails after contact — you communicate with your customers more often than you realize. Each time you do, include a call to action to rate a product they’ve purchased or provide general feedback. Make reviewing easy to do. Remove barriers such as logins, and optimize all rating systems so they work equally well on mobile and computer devices. Consider a fast scoring setup with a space for comments so feedback is uniform and easy to provide. Product reviews on Amazon and customer reviews on eBay are both prime examples of how to simplify the review process.

Focus on Timing and Wording to Get Customer Reviews

When you’re sending requests specifically to solicit reviews, timing matters. Studies show asking between 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. in the client’s time zone gets customer reviews more consistently than asking any other time of day. Also, choose language that matters to your industry and carefully word the subject line. Studies show subject lines with a question mark rather than an exclamation point have drastically different effects depending on your industry, while companies across the board succeeded when mentioning incentives. Here’s a summary from Yotpo.

How to Get More Customer Reviews: The Ultimate Guide

Connect Reviews to a Loyalty Program

If your company runs a points program or offers other loyalty rewards, give members extra points for each review they provide. Remember, the point is to get a bunch of reviews, not necessarily all excellent ones. If you have only positive reviews, customers will think you’re either working for the best company in the world or aren’t allowing honest feedback. Most will lean toward the latter.

Offer Small Incentives for Reviews

Even if you don’t have a loyalty program, you still can incentivize your customers to provide reviews. A regular giveaway on your site or social media page is an easy way to get product reviews without the shadiness of appearing to pay for them. Provide a coupon for a future purchase in exchange for feedback, and up the ante with additional coupons for social media sharing. The key is to be up front about the fact that you’ve asked for reviews and that ratings have no bearing on the likelihood of winning.

Soliciting reviews for your products is equal parts art and science, and it starts with being willing to request what you need. Ask regularly at the right time, use the appropriate wording, and add a little incentive to encourage customers to leave product reviews. Feedback from your customers is what you need to help you make the right business decisions.