Sep 30
Reading Time: 2 minutes

  steps-for-planning-successful-promotions-bmt-micro

With all of the promotional clutter, the success of an online promotion heavily relies on the amount of effort made before its launch. Arbitrary promotions are revenue draining and have minimal benefit. But, well thought out promotions can grow a customer base, improve relationships and boost sales.

There is much more to running a successful promotion other than price reduction. For a promotion to be successful, you should consider the following steps:

Step 1: Create Objectives
As soon as an idea for an online promotion enters your mind, you should start creating a list of objectives. Objectives for a promotional campaign need to be in terms of long or short-term or split into primary and secondary goals. A primary goal should be the reason you are running the promotion and secondary goals are the additional benefits. For example, if purchases have dropped, your primary objective could be the need for additional sales. Your secondary objectives for this could be to reduce inventory levels or drive traffic that increases awareness. Keep in mind; your objectives must be measurable.

Step 2: Identify Your Audience
Identifying the right target audience for your promotional campaign will result in a greater return on investment (ROI). You should also use your objectives as a guide for this. Segmenting your audience will help identify who are best equipped to achieve your primary objective. For example, you can segment your customers by collecting data on things like location, age or preferred payment method. Overall, the more information you collect, the more intel you will have to apply to your promotions.

Step 3: Select a Timeline
Before you launch your promotional campaign, you need to select a start and end date. This will help with preparation and allows you to take better measurements. Also, if something is marketed as a “limited time offer” customers will feel a sense of urgency, which will encourage them to act quickly.

Step 4: Perform a Pricing Analysis
One of the most important steps for your bottom line is performing a pricing analysis. A successful online promotion is not based on randomly picking numbers for discounts (like 20% off). It’s important to look at the margins of the products that are going to be discounted and subtract the discount amount from the total. Ultimately, you will have to decide how much you are willing to sacrifice for a promotion budget.

Step 5: Establish Your Promotion Mix
Once you’ve established a target audience and selected a timeline, you will need to plan how you are going to reach your audience. Your message needs to be consistent and cohesive across all of your communication channels: email, social media, display ads, landing and checkout pages. This will increase awareness and the odds that your promotional campaign will succeed.

Step 6: Evaluate Results
You will need to create tracking links for each of your communication channels so you can measure how well each one performed. Also, you will want to ensure your promotions are running correctly. You can do this by running test emails and ensuring links take customers to the right pages. By paying attention to the results of your promotions you can learn what works and what doesn’t for future planning.

When promotions are successful, they have a significant impact on revenue and help build a loyal customer base. By utilizing these steps when planning your next promotion, you can greatly increase your efficiency. Keep in mind; different promotions have different effects on revenue, so try several kinds to determine what works best for your business.

Sep 23
Reading Time: 2 minutes

   handling-negative-reviews-the-dos-and-donts-bmt-micro

Before the Internet, smartphones and social media, consumers would rely on friends and family to get information on products and services. But, word-of-mouth has gone global and it’s easier than ever for consumers to publicly share their opinions and reviews of products and services on the Internet.

As a business owner, you are going to have complaints. Misunderstandings happen and opinions are subjective. Fortunately, you can turn instances like these into opportunities by simply providing good customer service and remembering a few do’s and don’ts.

Do –

1. Apologize & Offer A Solution
You are responsible for every experience (negative or positive) a consumer has with your business. If a mistake was made on your part, you should take ownership and responsibility for the customer’s frustration. It’s important to be understanding and proactive in solving any issue that may arise. Sometimes, you can’t undo a mistake, but a simple apology can go a long way with a customer. It’s also not unreasonable to apologize for the fact they are unsatisfied.

2. Be Prompt & Understanding
Once you have noticed a negative review about your business, you should put together a response as soon as possible. But, it’s important to make sure the customer feels heard and understood. Your response should address how the customer is feeling and how frustrating or upsetting the situation must be. You should also emphasize the value of their feedback. No one is ever going to be more honest than an unhappy customer and this can be an opportunity to gain valuable insight.

Don’t –

1. Do Not Delete Negative Reviews
While it might seem very tempting, you should never delete negative comments or reviews. The only exception is if a review or comment is overly inappropriate. Don’t be afraid to moderate comments that aren’t contributing positively to a conversation. Also, if you suspect that a negative reviewer is trolling, then your best approach is to do nothing. When a troll does not get the response or reaction they are seeking, they will most likely go away on their own.

2. Do Not Argue with the Reviewer
When dealing with negative reviews, it’s very important to respond in a professional manner. You need to keep your cool and resist starting an argument or making an excuse. Instead, focus on being polite and courteous. When you can’t undo a problem, you can still find a way to make it up to the customer. This is a great opportunity to show that your business genuinely values accountability and transparency.

Your reputation is what establishes your brand and drives revenue growth. Online reviews have a profound impact on consumers purchasing path and many businesses still have no idea how they can impact sales. Take advantage of the opportunity to drive profitable change and growth by truly listening to your unhappy customers.

If you are a vendor of BMT Micro, an analysis of your digital reputation management is currently available as a part of our Marketing Analysis. If you would like to learn more about our Marketing Analysis and the services we offer, please contact our Marketing Specialist via email at leah@bmtmicro.com for more information.

Sep 16

Fighting Holiday Fraud

Posted by BMT Micro

Reading Time: 3 minutes

  fighting-holiday-fraud-bmt-micro

With the holiday season right around the corner, now is the time for online businesses to start preparing for the rush. Sure, we know it’s September and it may seem premature, but there are only three months left to get ready for the holiday craze. Even consumers have stopped waiting until November and December to begin their holiday shopping. According to the National Retail Federation, roughly 40% of shoppers have started buying holiday gifts by Halloween.

The last quarter is when businesses see a spike in the number of orders and the average order size. This is also when most businesses gain the largest amount of revenue (40% of their yearly revenue to be exact), as well as experience the highest levels of fraud. Last year, businesses were impacted by $2.2 billion in return fraud during the last quarter. Compared to 2014, this is an increase of $1.9 billion and totals 3.5% of entire holiday returns.

Almost half of holiday shopping (including browsing and buying) is now done online and 2016 will be the first US holiday season with the widespread EMV adoption. With this implementation, fraudsters have turned their attention to online sales. Experts estimate that fraudulent Card-Not-Present (CNP) transactions are going to double over the next few years.

The coming wave of online fraud means it is vital for businesses to tighten their security measures, especially before the holiday rush. To ensure fraudsters don’t disrupt customer’s holiday cheer and turn a prosperous holiday season into a nightmare:

  • Use SSL (secure sockets layer) authentication: SSL lets customers know their personal information is encrypted between a web server and a browser. It ensures that all data passed between the web server and browsers remain private and integral. When customers enter sensitive information into a web page without SSL, they run the risk of it being intercepted by a prying hacker. This is how personal information can be stolen over the Internet.
  • Encrypt Payment Information: A card verification system (CVC) and address verification system (AVS) help to ensure that the person using a card is in fact the owner of the card and is not fraudulent. Also, ensuring that the address and the CVV match the customer’s credit card will help flag fraudsters using stolen credit credits.
  • Look out for Suspicious Sales: Be wary of large quantity orders, especially ones for expensive goods. Another red flag is when customers shipping address and billing address don’t match the information on file with the credit card company. This may not point directly to a stolen credit card or fraud, but it is still a good idea to investigate questionable orders. Simply contact the customer to verify the order and the legitimacy of the purchase.

As digital sales increase and EMV adoption accelerates, fraudsters are going to continue to shift their focus toward online businesses. Unfortunately, businesses that don’t prepare for the influx of fraudulent activities will likely see record-breaking fraud. In order to be successful and profitable this holiday season, businesses cannot wait until the last minute to prepare.

Here at BMT Micro we can also help better prepare your business for the upcoming holiday season. We strive to be an e-commerce company where customers can rest assured their information is and will always be protected. We also want our vendors confident in the knowledge that with the right level of fraud protection, it will decrease the likelihood that their product will be taken advantage of or fraudulently used. Our state-of-the-art fraud detection system automatically screens orders and puts questionable orders through a manual approval process. Plus, all BMT Micro servers are fully secured and host all shopping carts using the highest encryption standards available.

We continually make sure that online security measures remain a priority. If you have questions or concerns about your current fraud prevention or if you are interested in learning more about BMT Micro’s offerings please contact our vendor services at vendors@bmtmicro.com.

Sep 9
Reading Time: 2 minutes

  calculating-customer-lifetime-value-bmt-micro

Customer Lifetime Value (CLTV) is one of the most important metrics for understanding any business in any industry. By definition, CLTV is the predicted revenue a customer will generate throughout their entire relationship with a business. It is a useful metric that allows businesses to see how valuable customers are going to be. CLTV also helps determine how to maximize future marketing investments and spending on customer acquisition.

By understanding your CLTV, it takes the guessing out of SEM, PPC, retargeting campaigns, and spending on customer retention. It also helps determine what discounts and promotions should really be offered to your customers. CLTV is an incredibly valuable metric, but research shows that less than 5% of online businesses know their CLTV or how to calculate it (Sweet Tooth).

Unfortunately, this is mainly due to the fact that CLTV can be complicated and intimidating to figure out. If you Google it, you will see formulas that look like these.

formula

formula-2

Although these complex calculations will give you highly accurate values, they can be overkill for most online businesses. For a business that has not measured CLTV yet, it is a good idea to start with the following formula:

CLTV = CV x T = AOV x F x T

AOV (Average Order Value) = Total Revenue (365 days) / Number of Orders (365 days)
F (Purchases Frequency) = Total Orders (365 days) / Unique Customers (365 days)
CV (Customer Value) = Average Order Value (AOV) x Purchases Frequency (F)
T (Customer Lifetime) = time (years) before a customer churns. It is recommended using a (t) value of 1-3 years.

This formula only gives a rough approximation over a course of X time, but even using a basic calculation for CLTV puts you ahead of the competition. Most businesses have no idea what a customer is worth to them and having some idea of CLTV is better than no idea. Still, growing CLTV involves a lot of experimentation and crunching numbers to see what tactics are delivering results.

CLTV allows businesses to focus on their most profitable customers and make decisions that drive long-term success (which results in better ROI). Calculating CLTV is essential for businesses to get a real understanding of how valuable their customers actually are.

Ultimately, knowing your CLTV can lead to driving higher quality traffic, improving on-site engagement and, most importantly, increasing conversions and sales. With this knowledge, businesses can truly make the most out of their time and money.

Sep 2

2016: The Year of Video

Posted by BMT Micro

Reading Time: 3 minutes

   2016 - The Year of Video - BMT Micro

Video is becoming the fastest growing form of online advertising today. Video content is popping up in our social accounts, news, articles, and even our emails. People are engaging with videos on countless platforms, and there have never been more opportunities for businesses to connect with their customers.

Video has taken over the internet, especially with the explosion of mobile video. Recently, research has shown that half of 18-49 year olds turn to their mobile device first to watch video. This is primarily due to the advancement of mobile technology and the widespread adoption of Smart Phones and Tablets. Undoubtedly, the rise of video is not slowing down and businesses should be incorporating it into their branding and marketing strategy (if not already).

It’s not all on YouTube
If you haven’t noticed, the distribution platforms for video content have drastically shifted over the last year. YouTube is still the grandfather of online video and the undisputed leader in the market. According to VentureBeat, Americans watch an aggregate of 8,061 years of video content on YouTube, compared with just 713 years of video content on Facebook. But, the competition is heating up. With 8 billion daily video views, Facebook is quickly gaining in popularity because it offers better user engagement.

Clearly, YouTube’s biggest threat is the rise of social video. Facebook has been investing significantly in video throughout 2015 and 2016, and released features such as video autoplay, live broadcasting and live reactions. Snapchat’s daily views are now in the billions, and video on Twitter has taken social listening and engagement to a whole new level. Ultimately, in the next year or two, it will be interesting to see how each platform can outdo each other in terms of video design, tracking, and execution.

Google’s Integration of videos ads in SERPs
Last year, Google started testing out new ways of embedding video ads in its search engine results pages (SERPs). This means instead of just seeing traditional text-based ads in search results, video streaming advertisements are also running alongside them. Although, despite Google’s reputation for leading new innovations, Bing and Yahoo have already been testing this for a while.

Even with the variety of platforms offering integrated auto-played video and video ad functionality, Google holds a key acquisition for video advertising – YouTube. This gives Google an advantage, but it does not necessarily mean they will become the clear winner in online video advertising. Obviously, video ads are growing in importance and Google jumping on the bandwagon validates this importance and will only accelerate growth.

Relevancy is still key
Despite the growing popularity of video, creating compelling video content can still be a difficult thing for businesses pull off. Our attention spans have, on average, shrunk to 8.25 seconds, so holding consumers concentration is a big challenge. But, video makes this a little easier since the brain processes visual information 60,000 times faster than text.

Ultimately, a video has to be relevant to consumers in order to reach them and effectively promote your business. 90% of consumers say that video helps to complete a buying decision, and for 64%, seeing a video makes it more likely that they will buy a product. But, if businesses don’t take advantage of the targeting options various video advertising platforms offer, ads will be shown to people who have no interest in their offering. This is crucial because, without relevance, consumers will likely skip the video or not watch it at all.

The challenge of creating compelling video content can be intimidating, but the possibilities for marketing are almost limitless. Videos are unquestionably becoming significant in our digital world and a necessary piece of a business’ marketing strategy.