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Category Archives: Tips for an Ecommerce Business Owner

Preparing Your Online Business For Holiday Shopping

By: Shelly Lowder

6 Tips & Strategies To Prepare Your Online Business For The Holiday Shopping Season

The weather certainly doesn’t feel like the holidays are approaching and that makes it even harder to think about the countdown to the largest shopping season of the year.  Not to overwhelm you but there are less than 3 months until Christmas, so if you aren’t thinking about your plan and how the holidays will impact your business NOW is the time to start.
Consumers are shopping earlier and earlier so it is important to get your plans in place now to capitalize on those shoppers that are already searching for good deals and the perfect gift.  Consumers spent $108.15 billion online in November and December in 2017, a 14.7% increase over the 2016 holiday season, according to Adobe Digital Insights and the prediction is even better for 2018.
Planning for business is one of the most important things you can do right now.  We know you are wearing many hats in your online business but we suggest taking time to prepare so that you can reap the rewards of a well laid out plan.
We know it can be difficult to think of everything so we have put together six tips and strategies we suggest you do to prepare your online business for holiday shopping to help you make the best of this holiday season!

 

Update Inventory on Your Website

Hopefully, you keep your inventory up to date on your site but we suggest doing an inventory sweep to make sure all products are up to date.  You want to make sure that you have every opportunity to fill all orders when they come in. We also recommend making sure you stay on top of your inventory each week or even daily with your vendors.  This is a busy time for everyone and products quickly sell out so you want to reflect that on your site so that you are managing expectations with your customers and not promising something you can’t fulfill.

 

Set Up Abandoned Cart Emails

Abandoned cart emails are a great way to get back in front of customers that changed their mind at the last minute.  Maybe the customer was trying to purchase on their phone or became distracted and did not complete the transaction. By sending them a reminder email about the product(s) they forgot in their cart you are not only one step closer to a sale but you also have the opportunity to offer them a discount on their purchase.  This builds credibility with your customers and it also keeps your website top of their mind.

 

Reach Customers Through Social Media

Social media is key to reaching online customers.  It is a great strategy to drive traffic to your website and is a great way to remain relevant to your customers.  Consistency is also key with any social media efforts. A social media plan goes hand in hand with your promotional plan that you are offering.  Promote any new products, sale events, or exciting news through your social media outlets. Not everyone sees every post so it’s ok to post on multiple social media accounts and post often.  You want to stand out from the crowd during this time because customers are bombarded with companies trying to grab their attention. You do not want to just promote your website and products but also include important information and inspirations to show potential customers the validity of what you are offering them. A great way to do this is through video marketing. You can create an information or instructional video on how to use a product or why a certain product(s) will make the perfect gift this holiday season.
Why social media? Well, it will help you reach a vast number of potential customers especially the Gen Xers and millennials. According to Salesforce, 30% of Gen X and 48% of millennial consumers indicated that they will use social to find out about products to purchase. Studies also show that 69% of Facebook users visit to find discounts and share information with friends. Shoppers also love to post about the gifts they receive on social media. Therefore, social media is a great platform to reach customers before and after the holiday season!

 

Create Excitement with Festive Images On your Site

Just as brick-and-mortar stories play holiday music through the speakers to set the mood for holiday shopping you need to set the mood on your online store. Having a holiday theme on your website is a great way to make your online store look and feel different.  Plus, customers will love the festive feel! Create banners and fun elements that will attract customers as they come to your site. One thing to note, don’t over do it and make changes to categories or the navigation.  This will only confuse your customers. You can make subtle changes that are festive and bring in the holiday cheer. If you need a little extra help to enhance your business – check out the ecommerce design services we offer at Pure-Ecommerce.

 

Offer Competitive Pricing with Promotions

Getting your ideas on paper will go along the way as you start to plan your business over the next couple of months.  A promotional calendar is a great way to make the holidays less hectic and put you on the right track to having your best year yet.  For many retailers, the holidays represent as much as 30% of their sales. As you can see it’s important to have a plan and be consistent.  Think about products or categories that you can promote each day or each week. Create a banner that you change out on your website that leads customers to your promoted products and don’t forget to promote on social media. Make plans now for how you want to run your business during this busy time.  It is also important to offer discounts to stay competitive throughout the holiday season. Customers love incentives and a great way to give them savings is through a graduated coupon so the more they spend the more they save!

 

Evaluate Your Shipping and Return Policy
Shipping fees can make or break a sale.  Many customers expect free shipping and wait for companies to offer free shipping before buying from them.  In order to be competitive during the holidays, you need to evaluate your shipping policy and determine what you can afford to do. Choosing a few days to offer free shipping is an option if you have a product line that does not allow you to offer free shipping every day.  It is a good idea to offer free shipping on and around Black Friday and Cyber Monday as they are two very important days during the holiday season. You can promote your shipping policy on your website and also through social media to entice shoppers.
Having a good holiday return policy is also a great idea.  It’s easy to say no returns and leave it at that, however, this may deter shoppers from purchasing from you.  No return policies sometimes make shoppers reluctant to buy from online stores especially when buying gifts. It is best to evaluate your policy and be sure you know the policies of your vendors as well to ensure things run smoothly.
One other suggestion is to know the shipping cut off dates with your vendors. For example, when is the last date a vendor will accept orders and still ship it out in time for the holidays? Shipping times change during the holidays due to the amount of volume each vendor has so be sure and understand this so you can communicate with your customers. Things come up and delays happen but you never want to over promise and under deliver.

 

We hope these tips help you as you plan out your holiday season.   Develop a great plan and then focus on flawlessly executing your strategies.  Be creative with your ideas, be consistent with your efforts and be confident that the time and energy you spent planning will bring in many sales in the coming months.

How to Market Your Online Business with Recent Facebook News Feed Changes

Recent Facebook News Feed Changes Require Changes in Your Online Business Marketing

By: Catherine Perry

Facebook recently announced they are making significant changes to their news feed algorithm. This change will result in fewer public posts from pages and fewer videos in the news feed. The objective of the changes is an effort to prioritize “meaningful” person-to-person interactions among friends and family over posts from Facebook pages.
These changes definitely impact how online businesses should market through Facebook going forward.  In this article, we want to summarize the news feed algorithm changes and give you tips on how to adjust your marketing in light of these recent changes.

 

The Facebook News Feed Changes—What They Are, Why Facebook Made Them, and What is Affected

In the article on www.socialmediaexaminer.comFacebook Zero: The Changing News Feed and What Marketers Need to Know” Mark Zuckerburg is quoted saying this about the updates to the news feed:
 “As we roll this out, you’ll see less public content like posts from businesses, brands, and media. And the public content you see more will be held to the same standard – it should encourage meaningful interactions between people.”
Adam Mosseri, Head of News Feed at Facebook, discussed the effect of the changes on brands and publishers in the future and is quoted as saying, “There will be less content directly from (professional) Pages.”
  • Main Objective of Changes

The primary motive in these changes is to stimulate “meaningful interactions” among Facebook users. Facebook thought that, in the past, there were too many ads that bombarded the user. Therefore, the company wanted to make changes that ultimately encourage more personal connections among the users.
According to Facebook on their Update to Facebook News Feed Page, they learned from their users that what people wanted was to see more stories from friends and the Pages they care about, and less promotional content. Through surveys, Facebook found that some of the traits that made organic posts feel too promotional are – posts that……
  1. Solely push people to buy a product or install an app
  2. Push people to enter promotions and sweepstakes with no real content
  3.  Reuse the exact same content from ads
The algorithm changes specifically mean that Facebook users will see more posts from people they are connected to in the news feed and less content from pages they follow. In the past, news feed content prioritized the total time spent on Facebook and how many people shared pasts directly.
  • Page Content

As a result of Facebook prioritizing content that facilitates meaningful people-to-people connections, marketers of online businesses will see a drop in the organic reach of your Facebook pages. This doesn’t mean that Facebook doesn’t value page content—it is still valuable as a part of their “platform’s ecosystem.” However, what it does mean is that the news feed is shifting the focus from ranking content that is directly consumed from pages to content that is shared and talked about among friends.
The big takeaway for online business marketers is that your content on Facebook needs to engage people. Your content needs to not only grab the attention of the Facebook users, but also cause them to share and comment on your posts.

  • Facebook Groups

According to Mosseri, Facebook groups inspire a lot of meaningful conversation, and communities on Facebook, which means they are becoming “increasingly active and vibrant.” Therefore, expect content and discussions posted to groups to receive more distribution in the news feed.
  • Content That Friends Share and Talk About

News content that is shared and talked about among friends will receive a boost from changes in the way the news feed prioritizes content. At the same time, news that doesn’t generate comments or sharing will receive less distribution.

 

How You Can Market Effectively

First, don’t panic! This is a good thing; it’s just different from what you have experienced with Facebook in the past. These changes enable you to develop stronger connections and obtain even better feedback than before. Just like with any other type of change you may feel overwhelmed at first, but do not let this discourage you from reaching your customers through Facebook. You need to keep an open mind and use your creativity to reach them so we wanted to share some helpful tips to get you started!

Here are some of the main areas on which you can focus to adapt to the changes in Facebook.

  • Know Your Target Market

Now, more than ever, it’s important for you to clearly define your target market. Make profiles for your consumers by answering question like these:
  • What is the need for your products?
  • What problem(s) do your products solve?
  • Do your products serve a specific demographic group, for example, age, sex, location, etc.?
  • What does the customer like to do?
  • Why buy your products?
  • How can your consumer use your products?
  • What additional information does the consumer need to know about your products?
According to the “Target Market Analysis” article on www.bigcommerce.com, after you answer these questions, you should “refine your target market by identifying who has bought your product already.” This information includes target demographics, audience type, and other important attributes about your target customer segment. If your product or store is brand new, this article suggests looking at your competitors.
Use Facebook Insights to learn about the makeup of your audience. There is a tremendous amount of information such as who is responding to your posts and when. You can learn the geography, demographics, and interests of your audience through Facebook Insights.
  • Create Content that Engages

The definition of your target market will lead you to ways you can effectively market on Facebook. Keep engagement, connection, and interaction at the forefront of your mind when creating content; let these actions be the drivers of your content.  Try to include questions that stimulate comments in your posts. Or, write about timely and relevant topics that users are sure to have an opinion on. Be careful with this one, however; you don’t want to alienate a segment of users due to a controversial topic.
For example, if you own a pet store, you might create a post that asks “What are some of the ways you keep your pet warm in the winter months?” Include a picture of a pet and your Facebook page. Another example, if you own an camping supply store, you might post the question “How do you carry your cooking utensils to the cooking station from your tent?” In both of these examples you are soliciting input from the Facebook community so there is engagement, connection, and interaction.

  • Combine both Paid and Organic Marketing*

With these Facebook changes, you need to integrate your paid and organic Facebook strategies. (The definition of organic marketing is the act of getting your customers to come to you naturally over time, rather than artificially via paid links or boosted posts. Source: On Demand CMO, http://bit.ly/2BDiy3q).
In the article “How Businesses Can Benefit from Facebook Algorithm Changes 2018,” Reshift Media recommends “integrating organic and paid planning to use ad dollars as a means to prime the pump for organic reach.”
Bone up on Facebook advertising.  Keep in mind, because Facebook has de-valued a “fan,” it is recommended that you not invest any ad dollars in growing your fan base through “Facebook Like” campaigns. Instead, spend dollars on attracting prospective customers to your website or educating about your products.
Your website’s content with SEO is still valued as most important, but your paid ads can help boost the organic rankings.
  • Have an Engaging Blog on Your Website

At Pure-Ecommerce we know how important your website’s blog is for both search engine optimization and engagement with your customer, but it becomes even more vital in light of these Facebook changes. One of the best ways to encourage people to talk about your company on social media is to create a strong blog with interesting information about your company, industry, customers, and other relevant content.
You should actively promote your blog to existing customers through newsletters and social media. And, of course, always ensure that the blog is search engine optimized.
Experts suggest putting a modest ad budget towards promoting your content on several social networks, not just Facebook. The objective of promoting the blog is to encourage people to visit the blog and to read it. When they are on your article, ask for their thoughts and comments on social media. In this way you have assumed the reach within their social circles, which is more than you could achieve as a brand page. So, if they click through to the blog, read and share it, you achieve more distribution!
  • Encourage Users to “See First” for Your Page’s Content and Invest Time in Groups

Users can continue to choose “See First” in their news feed preferences in order to always see posts from their favorite pages. This is very important – Show your followers how to become, and ask your followers to become, “see first” fans of your page’s content. They can click “News Feed Preferences” and then prioritize who to see first. Or, when they visit your brand page, they can click on “Following” and then choose “See First.”
Because Facebook Groups already operate on the basis of audience engagement, using groups as a marketing tactic works well with the new algorithm. Do your research and look into new ways to engage customers with Groups. For example, HootSuite has some good information on this topic, you can find it here – “Everything Your Need to Know About Using Facebook Groups for Business
  • Try Live Video

In the new Facebook changes, live video carries a lot of weight. We know this may sound scary, but just be open to it. The content of your video depends on your business and customers, but here are some popular ideas (source: www.reshiftmedia.com)
  • Product Demonstrations
  • How to’s
  • Interviews
  • Product Launches
  • Explain a Product
  • Contest or Challenge
  • Behind-the Scenes/Live Tours
  • Breaking News
  • Announcing a New Blog Post
  • Answer Customer Questions From Your Blog or Facebook Page
A recurring video show is also a very popular strategy. Being successful with live video involves developing high-quality content that is informative and entertaining, which results in strong customer engagement.

We know this has been a long article and there’s a lot to digest. It’s a given that these changes will cause a period of uncertainty. Much of our research leads us to think that the News Feed update creates an opportunity for online stores to re-examine the low-engagement mass media approach of the past. Now is the time for brands to make meaningful changes that will improve Facebook results, as well as, the business drivers for customer engagement, satisfaction and acquisition of new customers.
Again, do not be afraid to adapt to these changes. Have fun with creating new ideas and new ways to reach your customers! We would love to hear your feedback on this post – post your questions or comments below. Don’t forget to share on your thoughts on our Facebook page too!

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