Jun 25
Reading Time: 3 minutes

In the E-commerce Industry, companies are always looking for ways to increase their profits. If you focus on driving traffic to your site, statistics say your profits will increase. So, how do you drive more traffic to your site? One option would be to join an affiliate program. Affiliate programs are programs in which other businesses or consumers can promote a business’s website and be rewarded for driving traffic to the site. There are typically agreements in which an online merchant site pays affiliate sites or their own customers a commission to send them traffic. This agreement can vary. Sometimes it is based on the number of people that they send to the website, but other times it may be based on how many of those customers perform some action such as purchase a product. Joining an affiliate program is a great way to increase your profits. It is a cheap and effective way to not only increase sales but get your name out in front of more consumers.

In the 90’s, the CEO and founder of Amazon.com, made this strategy well known. Affiliate programs are great because it is a win-win situation for both parties involved. Once you have found an affiliate network that you would like to join, you will need to apply to become a member. After you have been accepted, most affiliate networks are completely free. After your application is accepted, the network will then guide you through the rest of the setup process. Affiliation is becoming an increasingly powerful online marketing tool, as more and more worldwide merchants are establishing affiliate programs.

There are many benefits to joining an affiliate program. Many companies operate an affiliate program that allows you to sign up for free. BMT Micro has a very robust program for our Vendors and there are no setup or additional fees. We will elaborate on more benefits of affiliate programs in the next few paragraphs.

The best benefit to joining an affiliate program is that your marketing partners will promote your site for free! You are turning other businesses and your customers into your Marketing team. You will not have to pay your affiliates until they generate a sale for you or send customers to your site, depending on your agreement with them. This is extremely helpful if you are an individual developer because this allows you to imitate having a sales force and marketing team that work on straight commission. All you need to do is recruit new affiliates and pay them when they generate a sale for you.

Even if visitors that are directed to your site don’t purchase anything, it is still increasing your overall traffic and potential to get visitors to recognize your name, sign up for your blog, or bookmark your site. The affiliates are driving a lot of traffic to your site which allows you to increase your exposure and brand recognition.

Another benefit of being an affiliate is that it is a very low risk opportunity to earn additional revenue for your business. You can let your affiliates market through their personal channels or their websites to see where they generate the most interest in your product. Viral Marketing is a method of promotion that gets customers to market a product or service by telling their friends about it, usually via social media or email. Using an affiliate program is a very powerful version of viral marketing. Affiliates can earn money for getting others to sign up under them. This encourages your affiliates to recruit more people. Thus, creating a viral marketing strategy with limitless growth potential. It is especially beneficial to have your customers market through their social media sites because people trust other consumers more than other businesses. Social Media also allows them to reach hundreds to thousands of people with a single post.

Lastly, having links to your site plays a role in your Search Engine ranking with major search engines. The more sites that point to your page the better it is for your ranking. Joining an affiliate program and getting your affiliates to link back to your site can have a positive impact on your Search Engine Optimization with little effort on your part.

BMT Micro encourages all of our vendors to participate in the BMT Micro Affiliate Program. This free service provides developers with additional channels to promote and distribute their product. There are no additional fees involved. You pay only the affiliates for this service. The developer control panel includes administrative tools that allow you to manage affiliate sign ups, percentages and view sales reports from your affiliates. BMT Micro also handles all your payments to your affiliates. There are many benefits to joining an affiliate network from reliable merchants and the more you utilize the affiliate network, the more profits you will see!

affiliate

Jun 18
Reading Time: 4 minutes

Social Media

Social media and its popularity has risen significantly over the past 5 to 10 years. According to PewResearch, in 2013, 73% of all online adults are on social media. Most of your customers are on at least one social media site, so social networks can be an effective and cheap way to connect and interact with your customers while promoting your brand. Sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter are some of the most visited sites on the Internet. There is a benefit to businesses if they leverage social media the right way. However, if it is done incorrectly, it can have a negative impact or no impact at all. Social media gives consumers a channel to reach out to your company and have their voice heard. It allows you to interact with consumers by creating interesting content, become a trusted source of information, and it can potentially be a selling channel.

There are many social media sites available and some are more important for businesses than others. The most recognized sites for businesses are Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+. Each of these sites have their own unique benefits and pitfalls. Facebook is the most widely reached out of all of them, but people may be on Facebook for social enjoyment, not to learn about businesses. LinkedIn, on the other hand, is geared towards business to business connections and may not be the best way to reach your customers if you are a business to consumer company. Some sites may be ideal for your business and others may not make sense. It is also wise to have a plan before jumping into social media for your business. You need to ask yourself questions about where your audience will be. Where is my audience active? Where do they search? What would they like to see? Asking yourselves questions around your audience will help guide you to the correct social media sites. You may want to test one site at a time to see its effectiveness.

Another piece of online content that can be advantageous is a blog. A blog consists of entries made by an individual or company onto a web page. Consumers can add comments about a posting which allows for interaction. Blogs are great for adding interesting, original and frequently updated content to generate followers. The blog should be of interest to your readers. For example, the BMT Micro blog focuses on posts around Marketing Tips & Tricks and ways to use our system more effectively. These are written with keeping our consumers in mind.

Social media sites allow you as a company to share any information you deem pertinent with your consumers. This can include company news, new products or services, product updates and reviews, promotions, or how-to videos. You want to present information that engages your consumer. In order to make your consumers followers of your content, it needs to appeal to them. When they do become engaged and comment or leave reviews, it is important to reply to them. You should thank them for the positive feedback and look to resolve any issues with negative feedback.

Consumers nowadays are not typically drawn to traditional advertising. They are continuously bombarded with advertisements all day long, so it easy for them to block out most of them. They do love recommendations from other consumers, whether they know them or not. Social media sites are a perfect channel for customers to leave reviews for other consumers to read. You should encourage loyal and repeat customers to leave reviews. Some companies ask customers to leave a review in order to enter into a raffle for a prize. This gives the consumer incentive to leave a review and it helps the company generate reviews from their customers. Social media has not changed the concept of word of mouth recommendations, but it has increased the number of consumers that a review will reach. Customers can jump on a social media site and instantly tell hundreds or thousands of their friends about their experience. This is why enhancing the customer experience has become essential. It is very easy and quick to set up a site and begin publishing content. If your content is interesting, you can generate followers who may share your content and this will expand your reach.

Social media is not only a good way to communicate to your customers but it is a good way to listen to them as well. Consumers are becoming more and more comfortable with voicing their concerns on social media sites. It is also important to let them know that you hear their concerns and are looking to resolve any situation as quickly as possible. Most of the time if the feedback is handled well by the company, the consumer will have a better overall feeling towards the company. It is also a good way to get feedback about your products to see where you can improve. There are a lot of tools that can help you monitor what your consumers are saying, such as Google Alerts.

Social media can also be a channel for you to advertise through. Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter already provide ways to advertise your company or your posts. They allow you to target certain consumers or post to everyone. Some of the platforms can get very expensive. It is good to experiment with different social media sites to see which one is the most effective for your brand. In order for this to be successful, you need to keep track of each ad and each social media site to see which one generates more sales.

Social media has become widely embraced and used by many different cultures and age groups. Due to its prevalence in consumers lives, businesses need to utilize its reach and affordability to take their business to the next level. Companies also need to be aware of the control it gives the consumers and learn how to use it to their advantage instead of letting it impact their business in a negative way.

Jun 12
Reading Time: 3 minutes

Up-selling and cross-selling

As the E-commerce Industry continues to grow and online selling becomes more popular, particular techniques to increase profits such as up-selling and cross-selling are becoming essential strategies. These techniques can increase profit quickly and a good strategy can continue to help the business flourish. Some companies succeed with these techniques and become very profitable, but others fall short. Today, we will discuss the techniques of up-selling and cross-selling and how to use them to your advantage.

First, let’s define these terms in the E-commerce Industry, and note the differences between the two. Up-selling is convincing or persuading someone into purchasing additional products or a higher priced product than the product they are about to purchase. A common example of this is at a fast food restaurant, when you upgrade to a large combo or when you add a dessert for .99¢ with a meal. The price increases and you receive more fries and a larger drink or you receive a discounted dessert as a bundled option. Cross-selling is convincing or persuading someone to buy other unrelated products typically from another company. Amazon was a first-mover in effectively using up-selling and cross-selling techniques. Whenever you use their services, you are always given suggestions for like products, products based on your history, or products that go well together from other sellers. They promote other people’s products in order to increase sales. It has been proven that up-selling is a much more effective method to increase profit, but both techniques should be used to test which works best for you.

Cross-selling and up-selling are similar in that they both offer customers more value than what they would have received if they had only bought the initial product they searched for. They both provide additional benefits for not only the consumers but the sellers as well. There are a few things to keep in mind when using these techniques in order to be successful. When implementing a strategy, you need to keep the consumer in mind. The object is to make their visit more valuable, not just push products on them. Customers like suggested products that make sense. For example, you are buying an online video game that involves zombies. It would be best to suggest other video games that are similar to a zombie video game instead of a video game for a young child. A consumer would appreciate that because it makes sense and enhances their experience. However, if you continue to recommend products that have no relation to what they are buying, it may just annoy them. Another obvious benefit is an increase in profits. You do not want to focus on pushing a large amount of additional products on a customer at one time because you may annoy them to the point where they will not return to you site. You want to focus on making them a recurring customer by enhancing their experience. Lastly, it can increase your conversion rates by exposing them to another product that may be more appropriate for them to purchase. If you are interested in making your own dress and you begin to search online for sewing patterns, you may land on one that seems to be what you want, but when you get to your cart and see another suggestion that is exactly what you are looking for, you buy it instantly! Without the suggestion, the customer may be unsure of their selection and decide to look on other sites.

>Now that we have discussed how to be effective in your up-selling and cross-selling strategies, let’s discuss some best practices to use when initially implementing these techniques. Remember to keep the consumer’s wants in mind when structuring which type of products and the number of products that will be shown to the customer. You will also want to build credibility by having customer reviews and recommendations easily accessible when viewing the product. Having recommendations from actual customers goes a long way to build credibility and trust for those items. Location of suggestions and timing in the buying process are key things to consider when implementing these techniques. It needs to be easily noticed, easy to add the item to the cart, and it needs to appear at the appropriate time in the buying process. This can vary from company to company or product to product, so you need to test with multiple scenarios to see which location is the most effective for your customer base. The last best practice is to offer a discount on bundled items. This is most effective at checkout. Allow the customer to add a related product to their cart at a discounted price.

Try putting yourself in the customers shoes and think about what builds value in a visit, and you will be more successful than if you are simply pushing your products. There are many ways to implement cross- and up-selling strategies and you may need to do a little experimentation to find the perfect balance for your business, as a part of your overall Marketing strategy.

 

Jun 4
Reading Time: 3 minutes

The electronic commerce world, or more commonly know as E-commerce, is the selling or trading of products and services over the Internet. The great thing about the Internet and the E-commerce Industry is that it can be taken globally. Typically, companies start local and when sales begin to increase, consider moving their operations into other countries. This is not something that a company should just jump into. There are many things to consider when expanding internationally, and we will discuss some considerations here today.

One thing that people may forget, even though it is very important, is to learn about the region that they would like to expand into. Not every culture is alike and it is important to know and understand the culture in which you are about to begin selling. You want to understand how they respond to advertising, typical business practices, etc. There are plenty of channels that you can use to research, including reaching out to a native or traveling to the country yourself

Communication is the next topic to discuss. Communication across cultures can be both linguistic and extra-linguistic: one, direct, aspect of communication is of course to transmit your message in the target language, the language that is spoken in the region where you are trying to expand. Although there are many online translation engines, we do not suggest that you use them. They are very inaccurate and will not relay the proper message to your consumers. It is best to get an internal or local translator. If that is not an option, there are companies to whom you can outsource the work. Your website or advertisement may be the first impression you give to potential consumers and you do not want to offend them initially by improper translations. Even when you have translated your message into the target language in a way that is grammatically and linguistically proper, the extra-linguistic, more culturally defined, communication is of importance in order to not offend your target audience: it is not only a matter of knowing what to say (and to be able to say it in the other language), it is equally important to know how to say it. In many cultures, for instance, a more formal approach may be preferred, where in others it is perfectly fine, even in business communications, to take a more informal approach. It is important to know and respect the traditions and mores of the target audience, which go way beyond, although they can be viewed in, the words and linguistic formulations that you may want to use. Just because you would be able to say the same thing, by translation, in the target language, it doesn’t mean that the marketing will work unless you take into account such differences on what is important to people overall.

There are many things to consider when thinking about how to transact business with companies in countries beyond your own. You can either have pricing in each respective countries currency and convert the currency to your own or you can set up an account and accept the countries currency. The second option can get complicated, so you want to make sure when you learn about the culture, you learn about their banking system. It is typically easiest to use a reliable company such as BMT Micro to handle the International transactions for you. This goes hand in hand with different laws and government regulations abroad. International laws can vary, some may be very lenient with international consumerism, but others may be very strict. When selling internationally you need to be able to adjust quickly for varying exchange rates and adhere to international taxes, tariffs and fees. Payment processing companies, such as BMT Micro, can handle all of this for you.

Lastly, make sure you have a plan in place. Lay out a time line of how quickly you want to expand, who will do research, etc. You also want to make sure you have enough resources in place and that you do not expand too quickly. This can cause your company to become less efficient and lose customers. There are many small things to consider when expanding globally, and not having a proper plan in place before expanding will impede on your success.

Going global with your business is a high risk, high rewards type of expansion. The more you plan and the better prepared you are when going global, the better off you will be.