Aug 17

Introduction To Usability Testing

Posted by BMT Micro

Reading Time: 3 minutes

 

Usability testing is an easy step to overlook while developing or redesigning your website. After putting hard work into creating something you are certain your customers and potential customers will love, getting someone else to evaluate it can slip your mind. However, it is easy to let little mistakes slip past you, no matter how much effort you’ve dedicated, and a fresh perspective can make a huge difference on ensuring that your website is at its full potential.

What is Usability Testing? Usability testing is a way to evaluate a user’s experience on your website. By testing the usability of your website, you can tell if your website is easy and practical for customers to use. Typically, a test is done where participants complete tasks on the website, while a researcher takes notes. This allows you to see where your website is clear and simple to use, and where you could make some changes.

What are the benefits of Usability Testing? There are some major benefits to usability testing. The first benefit is that is provides you with an unbiased and accurate examination of your website’s user experience. Typically the team running the assessment is detached from your company, so they are unbiased and coming in with a clear mind. It is a convenient way to measure how usable your website is, since all you need is a quiet room and someone taking notes. Usability testing is fairly quick to tell you the pros and cons of your website, making it easier to implement changes needed to improve. It can save you money, as you catch problems early on, allowing your website to be at its best from the start.

How to use Usability Testing: The first step to usability testing is to decide what part, or parts, of your website you want tested. Is there a page or feature you struggled designing or questioned? That might be a good place to start. If you have a pros and cons list before you start, usability testing can help you improve more quickly and accurately. Next, set goals for your participants. Think of common tasks that users will visit your website for. Make sure popular products contact information and FAQs are easy to access. Testing the checkout experience is often a good idea as well.

Your next step should be to create a script. Make everyone aware of their role in the usability testing, what the purpose is, what the tasks are, and some questions to determine how familiar participants are with your website previous to the study. To keep everything unbiased and consistent, use the same script with each participant and testing session. Once you have your script and plan, delegate the roles to all of the participants. The moderator will be running the session, and he or she needs to remain neutral. The moderators job is to make sure that the participants complete tasks and feel comfortable with what they are being asked to do. You will also need a note taker, so that you can keep track of all of the issues participants find, as well as what they liked.

After you have the script and roles set up for your usability testing, recruiting participants is the next step. This tends to be the most difficult step, as you are testing a small sample size to represent your whole user base. To find your ideal participants, create a buyer persona and reach out to customers that fit those guidelines. Offer them a discount or gift for participating in your usability testing. If they like your company enough to help you, they will be glad to get a reward of your product or service. Once you have your participants screened out,you are ready to conduct the study. While you are conducting the study, ask participants to complete tasks without your help. It is often beneficial to ask them to “think out loud” as well, so that you are able to hear their opinions as they navigate your website. After they complete a task, ask for feedback before moving on to the next task. This allows you to get the most accurate information. At the end offer them a survey letting you know what they liked and did not like, if they would recommend your product or service to a friend, and how difficult the tasks were to complete. Once you are done with the study, you will have a lot of qualitative data. Analyzing your data will help you pinpoint problem areas, especially if many participants report the same problems.

Although usability tests are a lot of work, they are a great way to have a quality website from the start. Having a wonderful product or service is simply not enough if your website does not live up to customer’s expectations. Letting others review and critique your website can be nerve wracking after you put in so much effort, but working as a team will help ensure that your website is up to its full potential.

Aug 10

Increasing Brand Awareness

Posted by BMT Micro

Reading Time: 3 minutes

You hear it all of the time- people referring to a soft drink as a Coke, a tissue as a Kleenex, or a bandage as a Band-Aid. Brands like these have become so popular and well-known that they have replaced generic terms in today’s language. While there is no quick fix for becoming a household name, raising your brand awareness can help boost your business and give you a reputation as a reputable company. Getting started in raising your brand awareness is more simple than you might think.

Why create brand awareness: The more familiar a customer is with your brand, the more likely they are to trust it. Customers are likely to do a lot of research before purchasing a product, and having a brand that many people have heard of and trust is a great way to bring in new customers. Brand awareness also creates association with your product, and can lead to your company becoming the “go-to” brand for your product or service.

Brand recognition vs brand recall: When starting to get your company’s name more well known, customers will likely recognize your name and logo before they are able to recall them. For example, say a customer buys a new hair product that they like. They go on to tell one of their friends about it, but cannot remember the exact name of the product or brand. However, when they return to the store they purchased the product from, they are able to easily pick it out of all the options. This is an example of brand recognition, and an important first step. After you have customers wanting your product and recognizing your logo, packing, etc, you want them to be able to recall your brand. An example of this would be if the same two friends from the first example were discussing the same new hair product, but this time the first friend could tell the second the name of the brand, as well as a description of stand out features of the logo or packing. Coca-Cola is a great example of a brand that most people are able to recall by their iconic logo. Both brand recognition and brand recall are types of brand awareness.

Building brand awareness: There are many ways you can go about creating brand awareness. Using social proof is a great way to get started. Utilize the opinions of others in promoting your brand, and making others more aware of who you are and what you stand for. By getting positive feedback from celebrities, experts in your field, or even positive reviews from everyday customers, you will raise brand awareness. Referral programs are another simple way to get started. Giving your customers a discount or freebie uses word-of-mouth marketing to raise brand awareness for new customers from their friends, who are a trusted source. By offering them something in return, they are more likely to invite their friends to purchase your product or service. Sand Cloud is a popular brand known for their beach towels and Ambassador program. Every time an Ambassador’s friend uses their code, they get a discount on their product, and the Ambassador also gets a discount. Leaving a product review also gets customers a discount on their next purchase, encouraging more purchases from Sand Cloud.

Depending on what kind of product you sell, sponsoring events, athletes or celebrities is an option as well. Red Bull is a well known energy drink that has worked to raise brand awareness as a drink for those daring and adventurous. While there are many other energy drinks on the market, Red Bull’s brand awareness through event sponsorship and athlete sponsorship has made them a leader in energy drinks. Creating a brand personality will help you decide on the type of events and people you would do best to sponsor.

Freemium” is another popular method to draw in customers and raise brand awareness. Brands such as Canva and Spotify offer free versions of their services, with limited access to features. This allows customers to try the services out before committing to them. Often free versions of services help promote your business by announcing on social networks that a new user has joined, or adding a watermark to media they create. If a customer likes your service enough to pay for it, chances are that they are also sharing your business with their friends.

While brand awareness can seem a bit vague and hard to measure at times, it can have a major impact on your sales and marketing efforts. Gaining customers and keeping up a positive image is easier and more rewarding the more developed you get, and having a brand that stands out to people is the first step.

Aug 3

Sales Psychology In 6 Steps

Posted by BMT Micro

Reading Time: 4 minutes

 

Psychology and ecommerce might not be two words that you put together, but when used correctly psychology can be a powerful sales tool. While you do not want to use psychology to manipulate customers, you can use it to persuade customers to use your products verses a competitors. Psychologist Robert Cialdini even created 6 principals of sales psychology: reciprocity, commitment and consistency, liking, authority, social proof, scarcity, and unity. When we take a deeper look, we see what these principals are and how they relate to ecommerce and help you boost sales and conversions.

Reciprocity: In sales psychology, reciprocity means that when your customer gives you something, you give them something in return. Although they are getting your product or service in exchange for money, giving them something extra, no matter how small, can give your company and extra edge. Many companies use this tactic to give customers more of a reason to choose their product. You could offer customers free shipping on their first order, a free month trial, a small gift with a purchase for new customers, or a discount. HUM Nutrition offers first time customers $10 off if they take a short quiz to help them decide what products are best for them, and Benefit Cosmetics offers free samples with any purchase. Giving your customers trials or samples shows that you have faith in your product, and helps them potentially discover new products that they might not have discovered otherwise.

Scarcity: Customers don’t want to miss a good deal, so alerting them of a popular product that is running low, or a sale that is about to end encourages them to make up their mind on purchasing the item. Giving them a deadline rather than always keeping the item in stock, or having a sale, lets them put off the decision to purchase. When pressured, they are more likely to act, especially when given information such as an actual number of inventory left, or a countdown clock until the end of a sale. Seasonal products are a good way to temporarily boost sales and bring attention back to your company. Starbucks sets a good example with their Pumpkin Spice Lattes, which many people look forward to drinking every fall.

Authority: Studies such as the infamous Milgram experiment have shown the impact authorities have on decision making. If you can show your brand as an expert in your field, customers will be more likely to trust your product. Videos and images can play a large part in showing your authority, by giving a behind the scenes look at what you do and the credibility of your product. Getting endorsements from celebrities or well known experts in your field is another way to make your business stand out, and give your customers more reason to believe that you really do have the best product available.

Consistency: Consistency goes a long way when drawing in new customers, as well as retaining your current customers. You want to create a brand image that stands out as having stellar customer service and dedication to the quality of the product. In the same way, having your customers commit to you in small ways (such as subscribing to your newsletter) encourages them to buy more products from you over time. Make sure to apply your commitment to easy returns as well. Knowing that they can return a product if not fully satisfied is much less daunting for customers than a final sale policy. This also shows that you have faith in your product.

Liking: If your customers like your brand, or brand representatives, they are more likely to purchase from you. This is why as a brand, it is important to keep up a kind reputation, and to care about your customers as people, not just as a source of income. Likability is also why brands such as Sprite and Clean & Clear often use popular celebrities in their advertisements. Other companies, like Amazon, show you what products other customers were interested in based off of products you view. People respond to people they have something in common with, so showing “frequently purchased together” items gives credibility to new products customers might not have discovered on their own.

Consensus: Also known as social proof, consensus shows if customers are uncertain, they will look to the behaviors and actions of others around them. Even when reading the reviews of strangers, customers will take that as a personal recommendation. Even if you do not have five-star reviews on every product, it will go to show that you are a real company with real customers, giving their unfiltered opinions. This will build trust with current and potential customers, especially if you interact with those leaving the reviews.

Using sales psychology might sound a bit complicated at first, but it really breaks down to speaking to your customers in a way that relates to them. Using these 6 principals can help you influence your customers in a non-obvious, but open and honest way. Try implementing some of these techniques and watch your sales go up.

Jul 27
Reading Time: 3 minutes

 

Creating marketing content can be overwhelming, even intimidating, no matter how much experience you have. Trends are constantly changing, and the Content Marketing Institute reported that 70% of B2B marketers were creating more content in 2017 than the previous year, meaning there is more competition than ever. A content marketing plan can help you create relevant content in a timely manner that your audience will respond to, and give you a leg up on your competition by creating fresh ideas. Here are some steps to help you get that content marketing plan started, or refresh a plan you already have.

What is a Content Marketing Plan? A content marketing plan, sometimes referred to as a content strategy, is a plan to help you develop the best possible content for your business and audience. This includes the development of all media that you create- written, visual, downloadable, etc. Before you start creating or updating your strategy, ask yourself several questions. First, who is your target audience? Is it broad or narrow? Figure out who you are making your content for, and that will help you narrow down on what channels to focus, as well as the tone of your posts. Next, figure out what problem you are going to solve for your customers. More than likely, you are offering a product or service that fills a need they have. Articulate why your solution is the best option for their problem. How will your company stand out? What makes you unique? Every company has something special about them, so make sure your let your audience know what it is about you that makes you different from your competitors. Last, establish a timeline for your posts so your audience knows when they can expect content from you. For example, BMT Micro publishes a blog every Friday, and posts content on other outlets throughout the week.

Set a goal: Before you start creating content, make sure you have a clear goal in mind. What do you hope to accomplish? Make sure your goals are SMART: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Bound. Think about your aim for your content and what you hope to get from it. You could aim to gain a certain number of followers in a certain time period, or to post a motivational quote once a week. Whatever your goal, make sure to measure it to see how your audience is responding, and adjust your content as needed.

Conduct research: Creating a buyer persona is a great first step to creating content. This will help you find the type of people that you are looking to target, and give you an idea of where you should focus your marketing efforts. Once your company grows and develops, you can re-asses your target audience and create new buyer personas, or add more to expand your reach. Researching your competition is another good step to take. See what your competitors are doing, and what kinds of campaigns are working for them. While you want to come up with your own original work that sets you apart, keeping an eye on the competition can give you an idea of what mediums your audience is responding to, as well as what channels they are most active on and how frequently they post. See what mistakes they have already made and learned from, so you don’t make the same ones and you can stay a step ahead.

Brainstorm: Coming up with new topics can be challenging. Try keeping a list of things relevant to your company for when you are stuck on new content ideas. If you keep a company blog and see an interesting topic, make note of it for a future blog post. If you run your company’s Instagram page and see new ideas that inspire you, create a folder to save them. Decide what kind of content and themes you want to create, but do not be afraid to branch out if you have a creative new idea. Even shaking up social media accounts in small ways, such as posting a video instead of a picture or adding an info-graphic into a post, can be eye catching to your audience and help keep content fresh. You want to have some consistency in your color scheme and what days you post, but switching up smaller things helps prevent monotony.

While creating a content marketing plan sounds overwhelming, when you break it down into the steps above it is very attainable. Having a plan, and keeping a calendar with reminders, will help you stay organized and produce more quality content. Although there are a lot of little steps involved, content marketing is all about creativity and letting your brand image shine through to showcase your unique qualities. If you need a safe and secure payment processor to help you process all of your sales, contact vendors@bmtmicro.com for information.

Jul 20
Reading Time: 4 minutes

 

Ecommerce companies have gotten highly competitive, with every purchase, click, and conversion making a difference to each company’s success. As most ecommerce businesses know, keeping customers is easier and cheaper than trying to gain new customers. So how do you keep customers engaged and happy with your company? With all of the competition on today’s market, customer retention goes deeper than simply giving the customer a quality product or service, although that is a major part of the process. Here are some tips on how to keep your current customers, as well as some practices to avoid.

DO use customer accounts: Just as keeping return customers is easier for you, make the purchasing and checkout process as easy as possible for customers coming back to your site. By allowing customers to create an account, they will not have to fill out all of their billing and shipping information again, saving them valuable time. If your checkout process is too long or repetitive, customers might see it as too much of a hassle and take their business elsewhere. Look for ways you can simplify the process. Saving their shipping address is a great step, saving their credit card information (with their permission) is even better. If you do choose to store their card information for them, make sure to have them re-enter their security code and expiration date to ensure their safety. Etsy is a great example of a site with an easy checkout process. The site allows you to log in through Facebook (meaning customers do not have to create an Etsy account if they have a Facebook account) and they store all of their customer’s information. When it is time to check out, customers simply choose which of their stored addresses they would like items to be shipped to, type in their security code for the card they are choosing to use, and purchase their items. BMT Micro is another excellent example of an easy checkout process. BMT Micro features saved customer accounts for a secure and easy checkout process, localization, flexible delivery options, and much more.

DO NOT make contact difficult: If a customer needs to get in touch with you about an order, make it as easy as possible for him or her. Maybe they made an error when placing the order, need to make a change, or want to track their package. Whatever the reason, having easy and open communication with your customer can make or break a customer’s decision to purchase through you again. Offer customers a variety of ways to get in touch with you. Some customers might be more comfortable talking to representatives on the phone, while others may prefer e-mail or live chat. However customers choose to contact you, make sure you reply to them in a timely matter, no matter how large or small their request is.

DO offer discounts: Who doesn’t love a discount? While you don’t want to go overboard with a discount, offering new customers a deal on their next order is a good way to keep them shopping with you. Even a discount as little as 10% can help sway customers to keep purchasing from your company. Give first time shoppers a special code to help track how responsive new customers are to becoming frequent shoppers. Not only will a discount entice them to shop with you again, but it will help you see how your advertising campaigns are working, and where you can use improvement.

DO NOT keep your customer in the dark about their order: Customers like their product fast. While online shopping takes longer to get products to customers than traditional brick-and-mortar stores, it is still important to get customers their product as quickly as you can. Send them a conformation email when they place their order to give them peace of mind that everything went through correctly. Then, send them a follow-up email when the item ships out with a tracking number. Doing this will give the customer a window to expect their item, and allow them to track it themselves rather than contacting customer service to check on their order. Giving customers updates throughout the process saves you time from answering inquiring phone calls and emails, and ease’s customers minds.

DO make suggestions: Using the insight that you have on purchases the customer has made, suggest other items or services they might like. Base it off of customer interests, and recommend new products or similar products they might not have seen. Track what similar items customers are viewing, and recommend them to similar potential buyers. “Based off your interest” categories at the bottom of a page is an effective way to introduce these items. Make sure to track the clicks and purchases of suggested items to keep items fresh, and to see if you are offering ideas customers are interested in.

Current customers are your best asset. Potential customers trust honest reviews or word of mouth from others more than traditional ad campaigns. Make sure you spend time and energy providing a great customer experience for the customers you already have, and they will help bring in new buyers.