Sep 29
Reading Time: 2 minutes

Over the past several years, businesses have started offering deals online right after Halloween to attract seasonal shoppers and drive more holiday sales. Even with this extended discount period, traditional holiday shopping days like Black Friday and Cyber Monday continue to be strong in sales. But, with the emergence of Gray November, maximizing the time before the holiday shopping craze has become just as critical as the shopping days themselves.

The following tips can help your online business increase sales in the days leading up to Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

Use Your Historical Data and Learn from Last Year
Use the data you have available from your previous holiday shopping seasons. This will help your business understand what you can expect this year based on what happened last year, and the year before that. To improve your predictions for the upcoming season, make sure to compare traffic, revenue, customer behaviors, and spot any trends.

Announce Your Sales Early
You should start piquing the interest of your customers with sneak-peeks of upcoming sales in emails or on social media. Don’t be afraid to start advertising earlier than normal. This is a good way to give your customers something to look forward to and plan ahead for.

Upload a Countdown Widget
Once you have announced your upcoming holiday sales, consider uploading a countdown timer on your website. A countdown widget can be a fun way to motivate customers to take action and let them know when exactly to come back and start saving. We recommend placing it on your homepage or a dedicated sales page so customers will easily see it.

Test EVERYTHING
You need to make sure everything is working on your website, especially the checkout process. Check for 404 errors, broken links and make sure your Google Analytics is tracking properly. We also recommend getting some fresh eyes to look over your site in case there are things you are not seeing. Don’t forget to have the proper backups plans in place too (just in case anything goes awry).

Even though Black Friday and Cyber Monday are no longer considered the official start of the holiday shopping season, they are still a big part of it. Regardless of which day is better for sales, you will be in the best position to increase Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales by planning ahead for a longer holiday shopping period.

Here at BMT Micro we also want to see our vendors succeed and get the most out of their holiday season. We have already taken the steps necessary to ensure we are able to maintain our e-commerce services at the highest level. If you would like to more about this, please feel free to contact our vendor services via email at vendors@bmtmicro.com or sign-up for free today.

Sep 22
Reading Time: 2 minutes

Social media can enable an online business to achieve many of their marketing goals. That is when it is used correctly. Your presence on a social network should be purposeful and your social efforts need to be well-thought out. Otherwise, you can end up wasting valuable time on a platform that isn’t going to produce results for your business.

Social media a great way to increase brand recognition and loyalty, improve organic search engine rankings, and even build an engaged customer base. But, this is only true when an online business actually considers social media a strategic marketing tactic and takes it seriously.

Here are 3 best practices to help you get started:

Always Respond to Customer Inquiries
Nearly half of all US consumers use social media platforms to ask questions to a business or report a complaint. Your business can significantly make customers happier just by responding to those who reach out. If you don’t have an answer to a customer’s inquiry, you should at least let them know you are looking into it. You need to be active and interactive to be successful on social media. Always reply to customers even if it’s just a “thank you” or “you’re welcome” or “glad you liked it.” It’s that simple.

Create Valuable and Engaging Content
Your social media efforts should be fueled by valuable and engaging content. It’s also best to create your own. You should consider utilizing the following:

Visuals
Research shows that content with relevant images gets 94% more views than content without relevant images. Keep in mind, visuals on social media can come in forms other than photos (like infographics, quotes & charts) and still can generate traffic, shares, and links to your website.

Hashtags
Hashtags give your online business an unique opportunity to connect with different audiences and implement new branding strategies. They are a great way to make your posts and tweets as “findable” as possible. But, you need to be careful not to go hashtag overboard. Just like any other marketing technique, there are right and wrong ways to use hashtags.

It’s important to learn what types of content are most popular with your target audience, and utilize those in your social media strategy. Over time, you will be able to identify which content has the highest engagement rates so you can focus your efforts on what brings the best value.

Track Everything and Monitor Analytics
Social tracking allows your business to adjust your efforts as necessary so you can maximize exposure. You need to make monitoring your analytics a habit. Social media and content analytics can help you determine what is actually driving traffic and giving your business the best results. Plus, it helps your business learn more about who your audience is, what they care about, and how to best interact with them.

The proper use of social media entails posting, sharing, liking and commenting, but it also includes tracking and reporting. You need to find out which strategies are good for your type of online business and which are not. These best practices can help ensure your social media efforts are getting your online business more exposure, visitors on your website, and customers.

Sep 15
Reading Time: 2 minutes

Two of the greatest challenges for SaaS businesses are poor user adoption and the lack of perceived value by customers. This is why an essential part of selling a SaaS solution is demonstrating your software’s continued relevance and value to customers. If you aren’t doing this successfully, customers may find it hard to justify the renewal cost.

Every industry has different reasons for customer churn, but in SaaS, it is key to have effective strategies that earn customer loyalty and ensure high renewal rates.

Measure Engagement
If a customer is not actively using your software or realizing measurable value, they will not keep paying for it. Consider tracking login regularity and product usage data to identify customers that are at risk of canceling. Also, make sure to reach out and find out why the customer’s usage level has dropped and what you can do to help them get more out of the product.

Takeaway: The number one churn driver for SaaS is lack of usage. But, if a customer regularly uses the product they signed up for, it is going to be much easier to keep their business.

Improve Popular Features
Over time you are going to find that some features of your SaaS are more important to customers than others. If you can make those popular features even better, you are going to keep your active customers satisfied. Also, improving the quality of those features will make customers more dependent on their particular functionality and less likely to cancel.

Takeaway: You can use analytics to identify the most popular features of your SaaS. Then, focus on improving the ones that are being used on a daily basis by the majority of your customers.

Survey Loyal Customers
One of the greatest resources is your best customers. Look to them for insights on future product improvements or even why they do business with you. After, you can thank time for their time with a special promotion or surprise (i.e. free features, one month free). Doing this will help you tailor your SaaS business to attract more customers that have the same needs and priorities as your most loyal ones.

Takeaway: You need to continue to satisfy your most loyal customers. You also need to ensure you are making your business more attractive to them over time.

Gathering data and customer insight is crucial to SaaS success. But, you also need to be able to use the data effectively and work with customers to ensure they are seeing the value in your solution. With the right strategies, you can maximize renewal rates and confirm your SaaS is living up to its promise.

Sep 8
Reading Time: 2 minutes

What is your online business currently doing to keep customers engaged and coming back after the first sale? Are you encouraging repeat purchases or utilizing ways to build customer loyalty?

Just offering a great product or service is not enough to build a loyal customer base these days. If you want customers to make multiple purchases you are going need to focus on tactics that get them engaged and interacting with your online business. There are many tactics out there to achieve this goal, but the following are three ways your business can increase loyalty and build profits.

Offer Excellent Customer Support
Poor customer service is the fastest way to lose customers. 89% of consumers who experience poor service will switch to another brand, and nearly 7 in 10 consumers (68%) said they would not go back once they switched.

Customers come with high expectations of seeing their needs met, and providing excellent customer support is a great way to build customer loyalty. If customers do not receive help or if their questions are ignored, it is very likely they are going to stop buying from you and take their business elsewhere. Make it easy for customers to communicate with your business. Simply having your contact information available in a clear and accessible way is one of the easiest ways to gain customer trust and loyalty.

Personalization
You can learn a lot about purchasing patterns just from the data of your existing customers. Taking advantage of your data enables better customer segmentation and helps you understand the types of customers your online business attracts.

Today, a successful marketing strategy relies heavily on smart segmentation and personalization to connect with users on a more in-depth level. Personalization tactics allow online business to take advantage of data to craft custom user experiences and target loyal customers that are most likely to purchase multiple times. By segmenting your best, most loyal customers, you can also add more relevant marketing communications (such as using an email solution provider to address customers by name).

Create an Incentive Program
Loyalty or rewards programs allow an online business to reward customers as they complete certain actions (like account registration or referring friends). The goal for an incentive program should be to attract quality customers and create profitable long-term relationships.

An incentive program should give customers a reason to return to your business. This could range from offering free gifts, special discounts, access to exclusive sales, or similar. Keep in mind, not all incentive programs are tied to money transactions. They can come in a variety of forms like social sharing, emails, or other actions customers take to drive traffic to your site. It’s important to note, 77% of transaction-based incentive programs designed around discounts fail in the first 2 years. So, it is not wise to focus on making your incentive program purely transaction based.

Your most valuable and loyal customers are going to be repeat buyers. Every industry will have various ways of defining and measuring customer loyalty, but the most basic way is to look at the number of purchases over a customer’s lifetime. If you want to build a loyal customer base, consider every single way a shopper interacts and engages with your brand and ensure you are offering the best experience possible.

Sep 1
Reading Time: 2 minutes

Right now many online businesses are starting to create their marketing budgets for the upcoming year. But, determining the amount of money that should be allocated to your budget can be a challenging process. It can be easy to spend too little on marketing, but it is also possible to spend entirely way too much.

The following are some ways to help you determine a marketing budget for your online business and spend it logically.

Percentage of Revenue
According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, it is recommended to “spend 7 to 8 percent of your gross revenue for marketing and advertising if you’re doing less than $5 million a year in sales and your net profit margin — after all expenses — is in the 10 percent to 12 percent range.” However, starting a business or introducing a new product is going to require more spending than an ongoing business. The exact percentage is often debated; but, businesses that are less than five years old should spend roughly 12-20%, while ones that are more than five years old should spend 6-12%.

Generally, this approach works best for businesses that have been operating for awhile. New businesses can use their projected revenue and base percentages off that estimate, but this can be risky. Another thing to keep in mind is that this approach can help determine your overall marketing budget, but it will not help determine how much you should spend on different tactics.

Return on Investment
Calculating ROI can help your business choose tactics, as well as give you a better understanding of how marketing campaigns impact your budget. ROI can also help you find ways to maximize your budget based on performance throughout the year.

Typically, using ROI for budgeting purposes works best with direct-response strategies like pay-per-click (PPS) and social media ads. But, it is also important to consider ROI in context because not all marketing tactics are designed to have the same goal or duration. For example, content marketing such as blog posts may not produce an immediate sale for your business. However, that blog post can build a lasting customer relationship and prepare the way for future revenue. So, in terms of ROI, you might consider other factors than just revenue (like site traffic and the average lifetime value of a customer).

When it comes to choosing marketing tactics, it’s important to look for ones that are useful to your customers, enhance the shopping experience, and rely on your business goals and objectives. Another approach to consider is determining your marketing budget by breaking down the costs of each tactic. You can then add all of the ones you decide to utilize and get the total cost per month and per year. Keep in mind, you will also need to ensure you can actually execute them.

As you move forward, you may discover that some marketing tactics are not working as well as you thought they would. Determining your budget and setting a specific plan makes it easier for you to allocate your resources, adapt quickly and introduce new changes to your overall strategy.