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Digital Strategies to Grow E-commerce Sales in 2018

Digital Growth Strategies for e-commerce 2018

According to Statista, global e-commerce sales increased by about 20% in each of the past 4 years. E-commerce retail sales in 2017 in the U.S. have shown substantial, continued growth, with 3rd quarter 2017 sales up by almost 16% from 3rd quarter 2016 sales.

The First Key to E-commerce Success: Understand Online Shopper Preferences

E-commerce giants like Walmart and Amazon account for much of the growth in sales in recent years. How much success other e-commerce businesses achieve is a function more than anything else of how well they understand and effectively respond to their customers — how those customers shop, how they want to be communicated with, and whether companies offer the products, services and features they’re looking for.

Many recent studies have attempted to better understand online shopper preferences. Consider, for example, these findings, drawn from a sampling of those studies:

  • 75 percent of consumers say they’re more likely to buy from companies that know their names and purchase histories, and who make recommendations based on those histories
  • 63 percent of online shoppers have a better opinion of businesses that send valuable, relevant content
  • The average shopping cart abandonment rate is almost 70 percent
  • More than 50 percent of shoppers who abandon their carts will complete their purchase if a company offers a discount

The Second Key to E-commerce Success: Give Customers What They Want

The challenge for e-commerce marketers is less in knowing (theoretically) what online shoppers want, and more in accommodating those preferences through proactive strategies. Here are four strategies which will help you give your customers what they want, and increase online sales in the process:

1. Establish a Reputation for Expertise

The essence of content marketing is building trust and credibility by giving prospective customers information they can use to solve their problems and help them make more informed decisions. When you begin customer conversations with a sales pitch, that conversation is about you. When you begin by offering valuable information, the conversation is where it should be, squarely focused on your customers.

Let’s say, for example, you sell appliances online. You could send customers, through organic or paid search, to a landing page with rows of washing machines, and of course the usual product descriptions and prices. Alternately, you could send them to an article, “How to buy a washing machine with all the features you need, and without spending too much money.” When it comes time to buy, will that customer remember the company that made their initial foray a sales pitch or the one that helped them save money?

Being a thought leader isn’t about impressing customers with your knowledge. It’s about becoming a trusted partner in the buyer’s journey and based on that trust, increasing conversions and sales.

2. Segment Your Audience to Enable Personalized Communications

Your online customers are interested in different products, have different problems, and have spent different amounts of money on your site. The more effectively you accommodate those differences, the more successful you’ll be. Still, according to a recent survey from Receiptful, only 73 percent of e-commerce businesses were segmenting their audience.

The question, of course, is how best to conduct that segmentation. Although every business is different, most will benefit by identifying and tailoring messaging to (at minimum) the following customer segments:

  • Repeat vs. first-time site visitors: You should be tracking online behavior (for example, using a cookie or JavaScript), to obtain the data you need to distinguish between repeat and new visitors. Because you’ll have much more data on repeat visitors, you can more effectively customize their online experience.
  • Customers who haven’t purchased recently: If someone hasn’t bought anything in, say, the past month, you might want to incentivize a purchase with a special promotional code, a code you don’t necessarily need to send to recent purchasers.
  • Your top 1 percent: These are frequent and big-ticket purchasers, and they typically spend as much as your entire bottom 50 percent. You’ll want to prioritize them and ensure they have the best in online experience and customer service.

3. Leverage Social Media

According to HubSpot, 63 percent of Facebook and Twitter users go there for professional purposes. To increase your e-commerce sales, begin monitoring social media conversations about your business using tools like Talkwalker, a social media analytics tool which highlights conversational themes and benchmarks your performance against your competitors.

You should also use the e-commerce-friendly tools social media sites offer, like Facebook’s buy button and Pinterest’s buyable pins. Finally, post social media content which aligns with what your customers are talking about and includes links to relevant pages on your e-commerce site.

4. Recover Sales From Abandoned Shopping Carts

About two of every three shopping carts are abandoned prior to purchase — that represents an enormous opportunity for increased sales. The reasons for abandonment include everything from unexpected shipping charges to a byzantine checkout process, concerns about security and simple distraction.

To recover these sales, first, do some research to learn as much as you can about the reasons for cart abandonment on your site and fix whatever problems you find. Second, create an email recovery strategy which reminds customers of their purchase and persuades them to complete it. Finally, to maximize results, incentivize completed purchases by offering discounts and other perks.

Conclusion

E-commerce sales continue to grow with no sign of slowing down anytime soon. The e-commerce businesses that succeed will be the ones which take the time to understand their target audience, the problems they experience online and the solutions they’re looking for. You can get to the head of the pack if you provide valuable content to build a reputation for expertise, intelligently segment your market, use social media to initiate meaningful conversations and create an effective strategy to recover abandoned shopping carts.

Perfect Pixel Marketing uses proven marketing tactics and data-driven optimizations to drive the best possible ROI for our clients. Contact us today to learn how we can help you acheive your marketing and sales goals.

Why I no longer recommend WordPress

Why I no longer recommend Wordpress
Wordpress used to be my Kool-Aid. Every website project I was involved with started off with heading to ThemeForest.net to pick out a new template for my company or client.

After five years of being a loyal WordPress advocate and fan, I am ready to break up with the content management system. So, why the split? WordPress is getting too high-maintenance for a guy like me. Here are some of the reasons why I am recommending other options like Wix.com and SquareSpace.com:

WordPress Updates

Just like all kinds of software, the WordPress platform constantly needs to be updated to improve the platform, fix bugs, and resolve security issues. Since WordPress is made up of several components (e.g. core platform, site theme, plugins, etc.), a simple update of the platform requires separate updates of each component. If one of the components is not compatible with another, the website can crash or display incorrectly. If you’re looking for a website that can run on its own and does not require monitoring, this platform might not be for you.

Separate Hosting

One of the positives of WordPress is the ability to pick your own hosting provider and your hosting package (see below). However, this is also a double-edged sword. Only the top hosting services offer “Wordpress Hosting”, which assists with the installation, maintenance, and backup of the WordPress platform. Even then, if you are not tech-savvy or familiar with the setup process, it can be a daunting task to connect your website to your domain, email server, and third-party integrations.

Design Rigidity

Each website can be customized by installing a theme from the WordPress directory or from a third-party marketplace like ThemeForest.net. Although there are thousands of themes to pick from, once you install one you are stuck with that theme and its capabilities, which can limit some design elements like layouts, color schemes, and fonts.

Other Options

In 2000, you needed a knowledge of HTML or have access to expensive website design software to build your own functioning website. Just 15 years later, website platforms like Wix and SquareSpace offer all-in-one packages that feature drag-and-drop website design, domain registration, website hosting, email setup, and payment processing. You get all of this for less than $200.00 per year!

I know what you are thinking: “But, Justin – there are 75 million WordPress websites in the world today. It can’t be all the bad!?!”

You’re right – WordPress is a great website platform, but it is not the best solution for those who are not tech-savvy or do not have the time or resources to manage their own website. IF you are someone who is comfortable with installing and managing a website you might consider WordPress for the following reasons:

Content Creation and Management

WordPress was originally developed to be a personal publishing platform (i.e. blog) with a focus on aesthetics, web standards, and usability. Instead of creating new pages for every blog post by hand, the user would create a new blog post in the WordPress dashboard and fill out content fields, which would then be published on the site. As the WordPress platform was developed further, more content types were created, turning what was originally a blogging platform into an all-in-one website builder.

Flexible

Websites built with WordPress can be as robust as an eCommerce store or simple like a one-page business website. The user is able to control how many features are installed and loaded when someone visits their website; giving them the ability to have a website that is feature-rich or minimalist. In addition, most themes are coded to be mobile-ready and responsive, meaning the published website will be viewable on a desktop computer, smartphone, or tablet.

Cost

WordPress is an open-sourced platform, which means it is free to use as long as you have your own source of hosting. There are also a lot of themes and plugins that do not cost anything to use and can easily be installed and activated directly through the user’s dashboard. If you are a company that has basic needs, you can have a functioning website for less than $50 per year. Quick note: WordPress.com offers free and paid hosting plans.

SEO Friendly

Another reason why WordPress a great platform is the ability to use plugins that can optimize your website for search engines and performance, both important factors for search engine optimization (SEO). Specialty plugins like Yoast help users build content and pages that will are favorable to search engines; other plugins like W3 Total Cache and WP Super Cache can optimize your website code to make the website load faster. Because the WordPress platform can be customized with a variety of themes and plugins the user can decide to have a “light” website that loads essential modules, making it a fast and nimble website.

“Wait, Justin, there are almost more positives about WordPress than negatives! Are you trying to convince us TO use it or not to use it?”

I cannot completely dismiss WordPress as a valuable website platform; as I mentioned at the top of this post, it was my go-to platform for years. Unfortunately, I will no longer be recommending it to my clients since there are plenty of affordable options that are as good (if not better) for their needs.

(BTW – Before it is pointed out, I do see the irony of publishing this post on a WordPress site. I still use it because I am regularly updating the site and making sure that it is functioning correctly. However, for new client projects, I make sure people know what goes into maintaining a site on a regular basis. Almost 9 out of 10, they pick Wix or SquareSpace.)

If you need help deciding what website platform is best for you, send me a message and we’ll get you right on track.

Do Search Phrases Still Matter?

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Do Search Phrases Still Matter

Everyone has their own favorite search engine. But very few have any clue as to how they work. A review of the basics tells us that search engines work off algorithms, which are mathematical instructions that computers use to complete their assigned tasks. The algorithm interprets your search phrase as a math problem it needs to solve. It evaluates possible solutions, then returns the solution choices ranked in order from best match to least.

The key to the whole process is the search phrase.

Mathematics in Action

Most search engines use an algorithm that sorts your results according to the relative importance of the terms, or keywords, in your search. For example, if you’re searching for the phrase “broom,” a 10-page document that lists the word “broom” only twice will not rank nearly as important as a document that is one page but uses the word “broom” 10 times. The latter document will rank higher in your search results.

So, do search phrases matter? Absolutely!

As a business, you want your website to be the one that ranks highest in search results by potential customers. Whether your website uses a digital marketing strategy or you’re using paid social advertising to get your message out there, you want those search engine algorithms to rank your site at the top.

Searching in 2018

Search engine technologies are constantly evolving. As we look forward to 2018, what trends in search engine focus should grab the attention of marketing managers?

  • Q&A-based search. Search engines are showing a growing preference for landing pages that answer specific questions. Marketers would do well to pay attention to the questions most frequently associated with their business.
  • Voice search. The growing popularity of voice search means more casual, open-ended and broad search parameters. Here, key phrases and keywords become important indeed.
  • Content matters. Search engines are looking for quality of content, not just keyword-stuffed articles. High standards for content quality are becoming more important.
  • Increased personalization. Because marketing analytics allows for deeper personalization, businesses are creating more content to meet these needs. This increased volume of content demands a clear plan for business strategies focusing on search engine results.
  • Information infrastructure. If your information architecture can’t handle the wider range of search formats from voice to mobile, you’ll be eating your competitors’ dust in short order. If this means scrapping your old strategies and starting from the ground up, so be it.

Search engine strategies that worked for the last few years may not be able to meet the challenges of 2018. Make sure your strategies keep you at the top of search engine results for 2018 and beyond.