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Top 5 Best Business Tactics For E-Commerce Websites

Matt Self

The 2015 numbers for Black Friday and Cyber Monday are in, and the verdict is clear: online shopping is more popular than ever.

For the second straight year, online sales grew on Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday – even as in-store sales continued a slow descent. In-store Thanksgiving and Black Friday shopping dropped a whopping 10% over last year, while online shopping over the same two days rose by double digits. For e-commerce sites, this is great news, but it also presents a challenge to online merchants: they must stay cutting-edge if they want to beat the competition.

How do you conquer the competition in the world of online shopping? Look to the industry leaders for inspiration. Here are five key tactics used by the world’s most successful and influential e-commerce companies:

1. Retargeting

Retargeting is an ideal way to reach out to consumers who have already stumbled upon your website, and the cookies used by your company’s website can help you do just that. In addition to storing information like viewers’ theme selections, site preferences, and usernames, cookies also track what pages viewers visit on your site.

The retargeting method relies on cookies to utilize ad space on other sites your viewers go to when they leave yours. For example, if you were recently browsing the denim section on a fashionable clothing website, you may see ads with their Classic Bootcut or Athletic Fit jeans on other websites you visit. It’s an effective advertising method that draws previous viewers to your site.

2. Cart abandonment

Perhaps you’ve done it yourself – you’re shopping on a website like Walmart.com. You’ve found the perfect birthday gift for your five-year-old nephew, and you’ve got it loaded into your online cart. Suddenly, you get a text from your sister-in-law saying she wants you to get something different. But when you find that “something different,” you quickly determine you cannot afford both. Instead of deleting the first item from your cart, however, you decide it might make a nice Christmas present, so you keep it there, and life goes on. Believe it or not, approximately 69% of online shopping carts are abandoned before the consumer finalizes a sale.

Since consumers with items in their carts most likely have accounts with you, use the email addresses they’ve provided to your advantage. Set up an automated campaign that retargets those shoppers and go get that sale. But don’t do it right away! Successful cart abandonment strategies typically target the consumer several weeks after they’ve abandoned the cart.

3. Content marketing

Developing and implementing a content marketing strategy is essential for raising your brand awareness and drawing in new clientele. Ways you can do this include but are not limited to…

  • Starting and maintaining a blog. Regularly posting on your business blog provides constant new content, which is more attractive to search engines.
  • Avoiding sales pitches or a pitchy tone in your website content (including blog posts). Don’t take the used car salesman approach; your content should be informational.

Enticing content isn’t always easy to produce, which is why many businesses hire content managers or Internet marketing companies to create and execute effective content marketing strategies.

4. Paid search

Pay per click (PPC) ads are those ads that show up in spots specifically reserved for PPC ads on a search results page. But a PPC campaign involves much more than just getting your ads placed on Google search results pages. It involves intense research for keywords and keyword phrases, creating appealing ads with enticing calls to action, and developing landing pages – a foreign concept for many businesses.

Hooking up with an Internet marketing company to create a PPC campaign can help you accomplish all that. Investing in a PPC campaign is a great way to boost your appeal as a business leader, and the best part about the PPC tactic is that you only pay when people click on your ad.

5. Social media

Social media has become an essential part of life, especially among younger generations. If you want to boost your business, investing your time in online social media platforms can help you reach audiences of all ages. Free media outlets that companies are utilizing more and more include sites like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Businesses are also branching out into the abyss of Pinterest to reach users looking for creative ways to approach DIY projects.

What makes social media platforms so beneficial to businesses?

  • They expand your audience. Reaching out to an unknown world helps increase your brand awareness. You never know who might be in need of your products or services.
  • They help boost audience engagement. Sharing a blog post from your website via Facebook or LinkedIn, for example, opens up opportunities for interaction with prospective or existing customers. Every new viewer is a potential client. Interacting with your audience shows the value you place on personal and business relationships, which can make or break a person’s decision to engage you, your products, or your services.
  • They help you measure the number of conversions your shared content is generating. Twitter has a feature that allows you to see how many people have seen and interacted with your shared content, and other social media platforms have ways of monitoring “Like” and “Share” selections on your content.

Content marketing specialists can help you put together an editorial calendar that lets you create a schedule for adding blog posts to your website and share business and event updates at optimum times. Allowing content marketers to monitor this schedule will give your team the opportunity to focus on other critical areas of the business, such as customer service or production.

Outrank your competition and boost leads and sales when you combine these top five tactics for improving the e-commerce end of your business. You won’t be disappointed.

For more ways to use marketing to strengthen your business, see the free e-book The Future of Marketing: 5 Keys to a Successful Transformation.

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About Matt Self

In his role as Vice President, Matt is tasked with ensuring the Web Talent team is executing cutting edge digital marketing strategies that are leading to increased sales and/or lead generation for their clients. He believes that success in an online marketing campaign is achieved only when a strong ROI is achieved. Beginning his career in education, Matt taught Health and Physical Education while earning his Master’s Degree from East Carolina University. Moving into business, he served as Vice President of an internet based agency helping it achieve two-time Inc. 500 status. His belief in social media, SEO, PPC, and technology in general, as a means to grow business, has been a driving force throughout his career. Growing companies wisely and profitably through development of sound internet marketing strategy combined with keeping interactions personal (e.g. why email when you can call) is what makes Matt an exceptional leader. Matt has been happily married to his wife, Lisa, for 15 years, and they have two daughters, Elisabeth and Alayna.

Amazing Digital Marketing Trends And Tips To Expand Your Business In 2015

Sunny Popali

Amazing Digital Marketing Trends & Tips To Expand Your Business In 2015The fast-paced world of digital marketing is changing too quickly for most companies to adapt. But staying up to date with the latest industry trends is imperative for anyone involved with expanding a business.

Here are five trends that have shaped the industry this year and that will become more important as we move forward:

  1. Email marketing will need to become smarter

Whether you like it or not, email is the most ubiquitous tool online. Everyone has it, and utilizing it properly can push your marketing ahead of your rivals. Because business use of email is still very widespread, you need to get smarter about email marketing in order to fully realize your business’s marketing strategy. Luckily, there are a number of tools that can help you market more effectively, such as Mailchimp.

  1. Content marketing will become integrated and more valuable

Content is king, and it seems to be getting more important every day. Google and other search engines are focusing more on the content you create as the potential of the online world as marketing tool becomes apparent. Now there seems to be a push for current, relevant content that you can use for your services and promote your business.

Staying fresh with the content you provide is almost as important as ensuring high-quality content. Customers will pay more attention if your content is relevant and timely.

  1. Mobile assets and paid social media are more important than ever

It’s no secret that mobile is key to your marketing efforts. More mobile devices are sold and more people are reading content on mobile screens than ever before, so it is crucial to your overall strategy to have mobile marketing expertise on your team. London-based Abacus Marketing agrees that mobile marketing could overtake desktop website marketing in just a few years.

  1. Big Data for personalization plays a key role

Marketers are increasingly using Big Data to get their brand message out to the public in a more personalized format. One obvious example is Google Trend analysis, a highly useful tool that marketing experts use to obtain the latest on what is trending around the world. You can — and should — use it in your business marketing efforts. Big Data will also let you offer specific content to buyers who are more likely to look for certain items, for example, and offer personalized deals to specific groups of within your customer base. Other tools, which until recently were the stuff of science fiction, are also available that let you do things like use predictive analysis to score leads.

  1. Visual media matters

A picture really is worth a thousand words, as the saying goes, and nobody can deny the effectiveness of a well-designed infographic. In fact, some studies suggest that Millennials are particularly attracted to content with great visuals. Animated gifs and colorful bar graphs have even found their way into heavy-duty financial reports, so why not give them a try in your business marketing efforts?

A few more tips:

  • Always keep your content relevant and current to attract the attention of your target audience.
  • Always keep all your social media and public accounts fresh. Don’t use old content or outdated pictures in any public forum.
  • Your reviews are a proxy for your online reputation, so pay careful attention to them.
  • Much online content is being consumed on mobile now, so focus specifically on the design and usability of your mobile apps.
  • Online marketing is essentially geared towards getting more traffic onto your site. The more people visit, the better your chances of increasing sales.

Want more insight on how digital marketing is evolving? See Shutterstock Report: The Face Of Marketing Is Changing — And It Doesn’t Include Vince Vaughn.

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About Sunny Popali

Sunny Popali is SEO Director at www.tempocreative.com. Tempo Creative is a Phoenix inbound marketing company that has served over 700 clients since 2001. Tempos team specializes in digital and internet marketing services including web design, SEO, social media and strategy.

Social Media Matters: 6 Content And Social Media Trend Predictions For 2016 [INFOGRAPHIC]

Julie Ellis

As 2015 winds down, it’s time to look forward to 2016 and explore the social media and content marketing trends that will impact marketing strategies over the next 15 months or so.

Some of the upcoming trends simply indicate an intensification of current trends, however others indicate that there are new things that will have a big impact in 2016.

Take a look at a few trends that should definitely factor in your planning for 2016.

1. SEO will focus more on social media platforms and less on search engines

Clearly Google is going nowhere. In fact, in 2016 Google’s word will still essentially be law when it comes to search engine optimization.

However, in 2016 there will be some changes in SEO. Many of these changes will be due to the fact that users are increasingly searching for products and services directly from websites such as Facebook, Pinterest, and YouTube.

There are two reasons for this shift in customer habits:

  • Customers are relying more and more on customer comments, feedback, and reviews before making purchasing decisions. This means that they are most likely to search directly on platforms where they can find that information.
  • Customers who are seeking information about products and services feel that video- and image-based content is more trustworthy.

2. The need to optimize for mobile and touchscreens will intensify

Consumers are using their mobile devices and tablets for the following tasks at a sharply increasing rate:

  • Sending and receiving emails and messages
  • Making purchases
  • Researching products and services
  • Watching videos
  • Reading or writing reviews and comments
  • Obtaining driving directions and using navigation apps
  • Visiting news and entertainment websites
  • Using social media

Most marketers would be hard-pressed to look at this list and see any case for continuing to avoid mobile and touchscreen optimization. Yet, for some reason many companies still see mobile optimization as something that is nice to do, but not urgent.

This lack of a sense of urgency seemingly ignores the fact that more than 80% of the highest growing group of consumers indicate that it is highly important that retailers provide mobile apps that work well. According to the same study, nearly 90% of Millennials believe that there are a large number of websites that have not done a very good job of optimizing for mobile.

3. Content marketing will move to edgier social media platforms

Platforms such as Instagram and Snapchat weren’t considered to be valid targets for mainstream content marketing efforts until now.

This is because they were considered to be too unproven and too “on the fringe” to warrant the time and marketing budget investments, when platforms such as Facebook and YouTube were so popular and had proven track records when it came to content marketing opportunity and success.

However, now that Instagram is enjoying such tremendous growth, and is opening up advertising opportunities to businesses beyond its brand partners, it (along with other platforms) will be seen as more and more viable in 2016.

4. Facebook will remain a strong player, but the demographic of the average user will age

In 2016, Facebook will likely remain the flagship social media website when it comes to sharing and promoting content, engaging with customers, and increasing Internet recognition.

However, it will become less and less possible to ignore the fact that younger consumers are moving away from the platform as their primary source of online social interaction and content consumption. Some companies may be able to maintain status quo for 2016 without feeling any negative impacts.

However, others may need to rethink their content marketing strategies for 2016 to take these shifts into account. Depending on their branding and the products or services that they offer, some companies may be able to profit from these changes by customizing the content that they promote on Facebook for an older demographic.

5. Content production must reflect quality and variety

  • Both B2B and B2C buyers value video based content over text based content.
  • While some curated content is a good thing, consumers believe that custom content is an indication that a company wishes to create a relationship with them.
  • The great majority of these same consumers report that customized content is useful for them.
  • B2B customers prefer learning about products and services through content as opposed to paid advertising.
  • Consumers believe that videos are more trustworthy forms of content than text.

Here is a great infographic depicting the importance of video in content marketing efforts:
Small Business Video infographic

A final, very important thing to note when considering content trends for 2016 is the decreasing value of the keyword as a way of optimizing content. In fact, in an effort to crack down on keyword stuffing, Google’s optimization rules have been updated to to kick offending sites out of prime SERP positions.

6. Oculus Rift will create significant changes in customer engagement

Oculus Rift is not likely to offer much to marketers in 2016. After all, it isn’t expected to ship to consumers until the first quarter. However, what Oculus Rift will do is influence the decisions that marketers make when it comes to creating customer interaction.

For example, companies that have not yet embraced storytelling may want to make 2016 the year that they do just that, because later in 2016 Oculus Rift may be the platform that their competitors will be using to tell stories while giving consumers a 360-degree vantage point.

For a deeper dive on engaging with customers through storytelling, see Brand Storytelling: Where Humanity Takes Center Stage.

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About Julie Ellis

Julie Ellis – marketer and professional blogger, writes about social media, education, self-improvement, marketing and psychology. To contact Julie follow her on Twitter or LinkedIn.

How Much Will Digital Cannibalization Eat into Your Business?

Fawn Fitter

Former Cisco CEO John Chambers predicts that 40% of companies will crumble when they fail to complete a successful digital transformation.

These legacy companies may be trying to keep up with insurgent companies that are introducing disruptive technologies, but they’re being held back by the ease of doing business the way they always have – or by how vehemently their customers object to change.

Most organizations today know that they have to embrace innovation. The question is whether they can put a digital business model in place without damaging their existing business so badly that they don’t survive the transition. We gathered a panel of experts to discuss the fine line between disruption and destruction.

SAP_Disruption_QA_images2400x1600_3

qa_qIn 2011, when Netflix hiked prices and tried to split its streaming and DVD-bymail services, it lost 3.25% of its customer base and 75% of its market capitalization.²︐³ What can we learn from that?

Scott Anthony: That debacle shows that sometimes you can get ahead of your customers. The key is to manage things at the pace of the market, not at your internal speed. You need to know what your customers are looking for and what they’re willing to tolerate. Sometimes companies forget what their customers want and care about, and they try to push things on them before they’re ready.

R. “Ray” Wang: You need to be able to split your traditional business and your growth business so that you can focus on big shifts instead of moving the needle 2%. Netflix was responding to its customers – by deciding not to define its brand too narrowly.

qa_qDoes disruption always involve cannibalizing your own business?

Wang: You can’t design new experiences in existing systems. But you have to make sure you manage the revenue stream on the way down in the old business model while managing the growth of the new one.

Merijn Helle: Traditional brick-and-mortar stores are putting a lot of capital into digital initiatives that aren’t paying enough back yet in the form of online sales, and they’re cannibalizing their profits so they can deliver a single authentic experience. Customers don’t see channels, they see brands; and they want to interact with brands seamlessly in real time, regardless of channel or format.

Lars Bastian: In manufacturing, new technologies aren’t about disrupting your business model as much as they are about expanding it. Think about predictive maintenance, the ability to warn customers when the product they’ve purchased will need service. You’re not going to lose customers by introducing new processes. You have to add these digitized services to remain competitive.

qa_qIs cannibalizing your own business better or worse than losing market share to a more innovative competitor?

Michael Liebhold: You have to create that digital business and mandate it to grow. If you cannibalize the existing business, that’s just the price you have to pay.

Wang: Companies that cannibalize their own businesses are the ones that survive. If you don’t do it, someone else will. What we’re really talking about is “Why do you exist? Why does anyone want to buy from you?”

Anthony: I’m not sure that’s the right question. The fundamental question is what you’re using disruption to do. How do you use it to strengthen what you’re doing today, and what new things does it enable? I think you can get so consumed with all the changes that reconfigure what you’re doing today that you do only that. And if you do only that, your business becomes smaller, less significant, and less interesting.

qa_qSo how should companies think about smart disruption?

Anthony: Leaders have to reconfigure today and imagine tomorrow at the same time. It’s not either/or. Every disruptive threat has an equal, if not greater, opportunity. When disruption strikes, it’s a mistake only to feel the threat to your legacy business. It’s an opportunity to expand into a different marke.

SAP_Disruption_QA_images2400x1600_4Liebhold: It starts at the top. You can’t ask a CEO for an eight-figure budget to upgrade a cloud analytics system if the C-suite doesn’t understand the power of integrating data from across all the legacy systems. So the first task is to educate the senior team so it can approve the budgets.

Scott Underwood: Some of the most interesting questions are internal organizational questions, keeping people from feeling that their livelihoods are in danger or introducing ways to keep them engaged.

Leon Segal: Absolutely. If you want to enter a new market or introduce a new product, there’s a whole chain of stakeholders – including your own employees and the distribution chain. Their experiences are also new. Once you start looking for things that affect their experience, you can’t help doing it. You walk around the office and say, “That doesn’t look right, they don’t look happy. Maybe we should change that around.”

Fawn Fitter is a freelance writer specializing in business and technology. 

To learn more about how to disrupt your business without destroying it, read the in-depth report Digital Disruption: When to Cook the Golden Goose.

Download the PDF (1.2MB)

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Why Small And Midsize Businesses Need More Than Just Data To Act In The Moment

Alison Biggan

Part 4 of “The Road to Live Business” series

The challenges small and midsize businesses face on a daily basis are beyond anything seen before. Over the last five years, companies across all industries have been impacted by:

  • The rise of mobile devices and cloud-based applications that have fundamentally changed how firms interact with customers and manage operations
  • New market dynamics that emerge without warning and threaten to disrupt operations significantly and at a moment’s notice
  • Employees of all roles and decision-making authority who want access to information so they can positively impact overall business performance

To address these pressures and ensure growth and expansion, small and midsize businesses must be agile and highly responsive – all with a drive to act in the moment.

Although a data-driven mindset and analytics are crucial to achieving this state, they only matter if you use them to look into the future, uncover emerging trends, and predict where the company is heading. Then, you can act in the moment, make thoughtful decisions in an instant, and serve customers in the moment of need – all characteristics of a Live Business.

There’s never been a better time for small and midsize businesses to act in the moment

Access to data is better and easier than ever before. You don’t have to be a big, multinational brand to take advantage of the analytics technology that’s available today. Your approach to leveraging analytics can be incremental and the technology is more affordable than ever, which drives down your company’s investment risk and simplifies your technology complexity.

Thanks to cloud technology, analytics solutions that were once siloed are now merging to form a single, integrated solution. From one source, you can capture business intelligence, generate a report, plan for the future, predict outcomes, and visualize insights. You don’t have to be a power user or a Ph.D. data scientist to get insight from your data. Data discovery and exploration are so intuitive that you can drill down and interact with data in real-time to get deeper, more accurate insights into what’s happening in your business. And through predictive modeling, you can pinpoint trends, compare the effectiveness of potential scenarios, and predict the future to drive new business models.

With this level of access and speed, you have the information needed to make the right decisions – in real time. Very quickly, you can see how regional activities, customer behavior patterns, market volatility, and emerging risks can impact your operations in the here and now. And with the rising popularity of mobile apps, all of your business users can make these decisions anytime, anywhere.

The value of combining the strengths of a small and midsize business with analytics

Small and midsize businesses are famous at operating with greater agility and speed than their much larger counterparts. Now that technology is more affordable and right-sized, companies like yours can leverage the technology as a competitive advantage while they are in that agile state.

It doesn’t require big budgets, big teams, or big IT departments. If you think about it from a data analytics perspective, that’s a huge step forward in delivering the features and functions your business needs – right now.

To learn how your business can become a Live Business, check out Forbes Insights’ recent report “Doing Business In-the-Moment: How SMBs Run Live in the Digital Economy.” Over the next three weeks, we will share additional insights from this research. Be sure to check every Tuesday for new installments to our blog series “The Road to Live Business.” 

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About Alison Biggan

Alison Biggan is global head of Product Marketing, Digital Enterprise Platform Group, at SAP.