Dec 14
Reading Time: 3 minutes

 

Having a “boring” product or service is a major challenge to marketers. Some products, such as clothing, food, or home goods, are naturally easy to photograph and present. Others, such as financial services, necessities, or insurance can be difficult. Just because your product is not exciting on the outside does not mean that your advertising and company need to be boring. Use creativity to your advantage to get customers engaged, no matter what your product is.

Educate your audience:

There is a reason your stand behind your product, and a reason customers keep buying it. Chances are if your company is less exciting, customers are not going to go out of their way to learn all of the products you have. Using a humorous approach is a great way to teach people about all you have to offer, and introduce them to helpful products they might not have found on their own. 3M Canada entertains their audience with humorous commercials educating everyone on all of the products they make, aside from Scotch tape. If your company does want to take a funny approach, focus on inspiring your customers, sharing your backstory, or giving customers a glimpse into your culture.

Use affiliates:

Affliliate marketing is a tried and true way to catch an audience’s attention. If you can afford a celebrity affiliate, take advantage of their voice. Esurance made a Super Bowl commercial in 2014 featuring actor John Krasinski where he discussed how much money Esurance saved by purchasing the first commercial after the game, rather than one during the game. He then went on to explain that Esurance saved 30% by doing that, and they save their customers 30% daily. The use of the Twitter hashtag #EsuranceSave30 was encouraged, and the whole campaign was a huge success. Companies that have smaller budgets can still take advantage of affiliates by using local influencers who are famous in the community. Offering products in exchange for positive reviews and exposure is a deal many smaller influencers are willing to make, and you will still be able to reach a whole new audience. Using local influencers is very common because it has a very high success rate- think of local television, buses, and billboards featuring locals on them. It works well in those advertisements and just as well on social media.

Create a series:

Creating a mini-series can help get your audience excited and invested. A series shows off your creativity and turns a potentially boring product into an exciting one. Blendtec sets a good example by creating a series called, “Will It Blend?” where they feature their blenders attempting to destroy different items such as phones, marbles, and silly putty. Not only did they create an entertaining and inventive way to grab attention, but their videos also show off how well their product works. Dollar Shave Club also made a creative mini-series in addition to their other videos, titled “The Trick To An Amazing Shave”. In only 15 seconds, they show off how easy it is to change your razor blades with their razors in very exaggerated situations.

Just because your product is traditionally thought of as boring does not mean your advertisements have to be. Use these methods as well as your own to show customers that your company has a good sense of humor, passion, and uniqueness that sets you above competitors and surprises your audience.

Dec 7
Reading Time: 3 minutes

blog12062018

 

Your homepage is the most important element of your website. It serves as the introduction to your brand, sets the tone, and persuades customers to continue shopping with you, rather than switching over to a competitor’s site. Every detail on your homepage should be working towards helping customers, both new and old, find what they are looking for. While there is not one right or wrong way to design your homepage, here is a guide to help you create one that reflects your brand’s image and captures customer’s interests.

How to get started:

When designing (or re-designing) your homepage, it is important to ask yourself what will work best for your company, and your customers. What works for one business or industry could be a failure for another company. Ask yourself a list of questions before you get started on your design. What is the goal of your homepage? Do you want the visitor to make a purchase, join an email list, or interact with you? How will you make this as simple as possible for them? How much information does the visitor need to accomplish the goal? Are you adding any unnecessary steps? Some of your visitors will come to your website knowing what they want, while others will be unsure or uneducated about your business. Use your homepage to your advantage to make their final decision align with the goals you have set.

What outcomes should the homepage support:

On average, you will have less than 15 seconds to convince visitors to stay on your page. From a design perspective, this means that you need to make the path the visitor would like to take as clear as possible. This is largely to to a psychological phenomenon called decision avoidance. Decision avoidance translates to customers not making a decision at all if a decision is taking too long to make. If your homepage takes too long to load, or if what they are looking for is not easy to find, it is very likely that your visitor will look for their solution elsewhere.

What should be included:

Add “above the fold” content that helps direct user’s attention towards the product or service they are likely looking for. If you have a wide range of products, make it easy for them to narrow down their search by category. Airbnb sets a wonderful example of this. Upon entering the website, they have a clear “Explore Airbnb” bar with their three main categories. If you know exactly what you are looking for, a search bar is placed directly at the top of the page. Recommended vacations and experiences are farther down the page. The design is clean, simple, and eye catching. Make sure that all of your other pages follow suit with your homepage. Adding video to your homepage can be beneficial for some companies. For products or services that are innovative or more complex, customers might be persuaded from a clever visual demonstration. One of the most important final touches to planning your homepage is to make sure to have a clear call-to-action. The call to action should align with what next steps you want the customer to take. If that is to purchase from your new collection, create an announcement with a link. If you want them to educate themselves on your new, cutting edge product, make it clear with a video front and center.

Homepages can be a lot of fun to create. Make sure to keep yours updated (especially with the holiday season here) and track your site visitors and sales. Making small changes with updated products or seasons keeps customers engaged and helps create a fun experience for everyone.

Nov 30
Reading Time: 3 minutes

 

While writing about a new topic in your field, how often do you think to link that new topic with an old one? Many marketers get so excited about the new ideas they are sharing that it does not cross their minds to relate it back to a hyperlink containing previously discussed subjects. This text, known as anchor text, is frequently overlooked. However, when used correctly, anchor text can help customers understand topics in more depth and boost your SEO. Optimizing anchor text might sound like a trivial task, but it yields big results.

What is Anchor Text?

Anchor text is simply a clickable, hyperlinked text on a website that leads to other pages on or off of the same domain. It is used to help tell search engines what the page is about, and to help direct customers to a more in-depth answer in the case they do not fully understand a concept you mention. To get the most out of your anchor text, make sure it is truly relevant and specific to the topic. While you do not need keywords for your anchor text, you should include it in a sentence that contains your target keyword. When anchor text is linked to relevant and descriptive information, search engines (especially Google) are able to detect the keywords, and it will help rank both your current topic and the hyperlinked topic higher in searches.

What to avoid with Anchor Text:

Keyword “stuffing” is using the exact same keywords repetitively, and this is something to watch out for with anchor texts. While you do want to mention your keyword so the search engines will pick it up, stuffing keywords will make them suspect that your main goal is to rank higher, rather than provide helpful content. Do not try to use links that do not look like links for the sake of keeping your page uniform or trying to hide the anchor text. By not allowing the anchor text to stand out, your readers will likely miss the links.

Types of Anchor Text:

All anchor text is not created equal. There are many ways you can go about creating anchor text, but here are four of the most popular and commonly used types.

Partial match: The most common method of anchor text, partial match uses a variation of the keyword describing the linked page’s topic. This method works so well because it clearly informs the reader and search engine of the topic of the link, while allowing the content to flow naturally. Partial matching helps eliminate awkward phrasing for the sake of including a keyword in the anchor text.

Exact match: Exact match is much like a partial match, except that it does include the exact keyword or key phrase in the anchor text. While exact matches are not a bad method, be cautious to not over use keywords. As previously discussed, using a certain keyword too frequently leads search engines to believe that you are not producing quality content. This means that your helpful article or updated web page might not be seen by your target audience, because Google will mark it as a quantity over quality page.

Generic: Generic anchor text uses a common word or phrase to describe the link, such as “this blog post” or “this page”. Your audience will be able to follow this easily. Search engine bots will have to search a little bit harder for what you are referring to, so if you choose to use this method for an anchor text make sure you have keywords nearby in the sentence for optimal results.

Anchor texts might seem small and unimportant, but to really stand out against your competitors they are critical. Using the hyperlinks and keywords together will allow search engines to understand what your page, blog or article is about and help you to reach an even wider audience.

Nov 23

Small Business, Big Impact

Posted by BMT Micro

Reading Time: 3 minutes

 

Black Friday is one of the single largest shopping days of the year. Customers wake up at the crack of dawn to ensure that they get the best deals on presents for their loved ones, and might even snag a few things for themselves. For small businesses, Black Friday can seem daunting. How do you keep up with these large corporations? While offering Black Friday deals is a great idea to stay competitive, there is a new holiday on the rise: Small Business Saturday. Small Business Saturday falls the day after Black Friday, and was started to encourage communities to support their local stores. No matter if you want to plan a last-minute sale or start planning for next year, here are some tips and tricks to make the most of the holiday.

How did Small Businesses Saturday start?

In 2010, American Express created Small Business Saturday to help support the growth of small businesses in their local communities, as well as small ecommerce companies. Many customers enjoy supporting small companies, as they can see the impact directly on their community. Even purchasing through a small company online usually comes with more personal customer service and products. American Express even went so far as to create a helpful guide to help small business create customizable advertising materials, an event planning checklist, event fliers, and ideas of events to take part in. With Black Friday rapidly gaining a reputation for being full of intense shoppers, limited sale items, and and an early start time every year, Small Business Saturday is rising in popularity.

How can I get involved in Small Business Saturday?

The easiest way to participate in Small Business Saturday is to check your local listings and see if there are any events going on that you can take part in. Events that bring multiple small businesses together are great for expanding your customer base, introducing new products, and getting old customers excited about purchasing from you again. Customers who are familiar with other companies at the event will be introduced to your products and vice versa. Not only will you get more support for your business, you will be helping other small businesses as well. If there is not an organized Small Business Saturday event, you can look into starting one by contacting venues and other local organizations. Or, you could simply host one at your own store. If you only sell products online, and do not want to set up a booth at an event, you can still participate in a virtual Small Business Saturday by updating your website to reflect the holiday and offer specials to new customers. This is also a great opportunity to try running an ad campaign to boost your marketing efforts.

How does Small Business Saturday effect my business and community?

Small Business Saturday is wonderful in many ways. Aside from gaining new customers, it is also a great opportunity to form relationships with other local businesses. Even if you do not sell similar products, you can help support one another by displaying business cards, fliers, and even products if you can find a way to incorporate them. If you have a positive relationship with other businesses, they are likely to refer their customers to you if they do not have the product or service they are looking for. This allows businesses of all types to cross over, as the same customer could be looking for a new clothing shop, a restaurant, and a home décor store all in the same day. Additionally, small businesses helps employ members of the community. Small Business Saturday allows the community to form relationships with the businesses as well. Having a personal relationship with customers increases loyalty, as they are visiting for shop of the experience as well as the product. If you sell your products only online, you can still build relationships with other companies and customers by reaching out with personalized notes, and having stellar customer service.

While big retailers might seem impossible to beat, with Small Business Saturday rapidly gaining popularity, small businesses can have a very successful holiday season. Even if you are preparing last-minute for this year’s Small Business Saturday, by spending less than an hour creating social media posts and extending your Black Friday sale you will set yourself up for a prosperous season.

Nov 16
Reading Time: 3 minutes

 

Gift cards have been around for a long, long time in brick and mortar stores, but the idea to create them for ecommerce companies is fairly new. While the general idea is the same, ecommerce gift cards vary from the traditional plastic cards you are most likely familiar with. For large or small ecommerce brands, gift cards can be a unique way to bring in new customers and allow current customers to treat one another or reward themselves. While there are some major advantages to ecommerce gift cards, there are also some factors to keep aware of to ensure safety for you and your customers.

Benefits of gift cards: Before we discuss the potential negatives of ecommerce gift cards, it is important to keep in mind the benefits they can bring you. Customers love to give and receive gift cards any time of the year, not just around holidays. It is a special gift that lets loved ones show the gift card receiver that they know them well enough to know what they like, while allowing them the fun of choosing a specific item themselves. Many customers will spend more than the value of the gift card, as they have extra money to put towards a product or service they might not have wanted to splurge on in the past. Gift cards are also a great way to recruit new customers. If someone who has never shopped with you before receives a gift card, they are more than likely going to spend it. These customers will get a higher sense of satisfaction with their products, as they did not have to spend their own money and therefore are getting a great deal. Gift cards can also help increase brand awareness. If you have a customer who loves your product, they might want to give out ecommerce gift cards as a present to their friends and family with similar interests. This expands your audience, and can be a great source of advertising.

Precautions for gift cards: Ecommerce gift cards can often be very easy for thieves to steal. Since there is no physical card, nor it is attached to any personal information, these digital cards are an easy target. If an ecommerce gift card is stolen, it is very difficult to trace the culprit. Criminals also like to take advantage of high volume times, such as during a big sale or near the holidays, so companies are busy and even less likely to notice suspicious activity. These criminals are also know to re-sell the gift cards for profit. If your gift cards often get stolen and the customer is left without reimbursement, this can also lead to negative reviews for your company and loss of customers.

Fraud tactics: There are many ways that criminals will try to steal from your company. Stealing data and fraudulent chargebacks are two of the most common ways. Chargebacks alerts can take up to 180 days to reach the merchant, and criminals take advantage of that time frame to use stolen information to purchase gift cards. They then sell them to make a profit for themselves. By the time they are caught, the damage has been done and it is very difficult to remedy the situation. More experienced criminals will even go to far as to take over customer’s accounts, and have emails and calls re-routed to themselves. This allows them to make as many purchases and transfers as they want, with less suspicion. Bots are another advanced form of fraud, which allows criminals to increase the number of attacks in a time period. There are many more tactics criminals use to commit fraud, and it is helpful to be aware of them.

Fraud prevention: Despite criminals trying their best to swoop in and steal your money, as well as your customer’s money, there are precautions you can use to deflect them. Before you start selling digital gift cards, develop a plan to help you account for all contingencies. Set several fraud detection points in to trip up criminals and allow you more time to catch them. You want it to be difficult and layered, so that is it not worth their time to hack you or your customers. Two factor authentication is a popular and easy way to help prevent fraud by sending a conformation via SMS or requiring a PIN. Make sure that your fraud prevention accepts all payment types, so criminals are still blocked when you expand into new markets and countries. Set your fraud prevention to allow you complete control to decline, approve, and review all digital interactions. By allowing yourself the option to review everything manually, you are much more likely to catch thieves and stop them from stealing money and information.

Ecommerce gift cards can be a great asset to your business, and very popular with customers. Staying safe and alert allows you and your customers to fully enjoy the benefits of gift cards.