Jun 8
Reading Time: 3 minutes

 

Any company that has a digital presence knows how important it is to drive organic traffic to your company’s website, and this is especially true for ecommerce companies. Filling your customer’s needs with a product or solution is a significant part of your company’s success, but you need to be able to reach your target audience in order for your company to thrive. While traditional marketing efforts such as email campaigns, affiliate marketing, and social media are still very effective, sometimes they are not enough. Making sure that your website is optimized for search engines will increase relevant traffic and help increase sales. Here are 5 tips on the best SEO (search engine optimization) practices.

Have a good meta description: A meta description is the little snipit that summarizes the page’s context. Meta descriptions are one of the most important ways you can get your site index and rankings up. With so many competitors, having a clear, concise meta description and title helps put you ahead in search rankings. Typically meta descriptions consist of 160 characters or less. This allows potential customers to get an idea of what your web page has to offer before visiting the site to get an idea of if it is relevant to them or not. Because the meta description is often the customer’s first impression of the web page, use your 160 characters wisely.

Use keywords wisely: Google uses an algorithm to decide what pages are most relevant to their user’s search queries. Make sure when optimizing your pages for SEO, that you include key terms that users will search for. You might have the most relevant content, but if users cannot find your website on a search engine, your great content will be irrelevant to them. Using keywords that are unique and relate to your content will help boost to you the top of searches, and allow more users to see your web page. If Google picks up that you are copy and pasting the exact same content on to all of your pages, your SEO will be penalized.

Use internal linking: Internal linking is linking another page from your website to another. This is important because it allows search engine algorithms to see these keywords as stronger. It also allows you to give users easy access to other pages on your website that are relevant to them. By having an internal link, they are more likely to visit other pages than if they had to browse your site on their own to come across the information.

See what works for your competitors: If your competitors are ahead of you in your search rankings, chances are they are doing something you are not. Using websites such as Monitor Backlinks help you see what websites are linking to your competitors,so you can find a way to get on the websites that they are on and you are not. Learning from their techniques helps you boost your own company by seeing what potential customers are looking for, and where they are looking for it.

Write high-quality, relevant content: Although this should go without saying, it is important to remember to give customers the content that they are looking for in order to do well in SEO. Typically, customers are searching these three categories: I want to do something, I want to know something, or I want to go somewhere. When users search these topics, Google ranks them by relevancy, then by popularity. By creating high-quality, relevant content, your web pages are likely to reach the top of the list, allowing more users to find your website.

SEO is always changing, so it is important to stay up to date on Google’s algorithms and policies. If you keep producing relevant products and articles, you will be able to expand your companies reach and bring in new customers. SEO is something that is fairly simple to do and invaluable for your business.

Jun 1
Reading Time: 3 minutes

 

Retaining customers is not an easy task, but it is important to maintain your business. Having a happy and consistent customer base helps to show new potential customers that your product is worth their money and time. Gaining new customers is also expensive, and you want to grow your customer base, rather than spending your time and money trying to keep a consistent customer base.

Customer Lifetime Value, or CLV, is a good way to measure the predictable repeat purchase rate of a customer. Customer Lifetime Value adds value to your company, since you are cutting down the expenses of attracting new customers. Some websites have analytics for your store that allow you to view your CLV, otherwise you can find tutorials on how to calculate CLV yourself. Loyalty Programs are a tried-and-true way to keep your company’s customer retention and CLV high.

A study by Colloquy ran a survey to see why customers were interested in joining a loyalty program, as well as why they decided to stay or leave. Unsurprisingly, most customers decided to join a loyalty program to either gain points, miles, or to receive a discount on a product or service. Customers were more willing to stay when the program was easy to use and had points and services that benefit them.

So how can you start a loyalty program for your ecommerce company? Finding commonalities between your most loyal customers is a good place to start. Do they choose similar shipping methods, gift wrap, or items from a specific designer? Make sure you observe and track what these customers like and offer them intensives based on their buying habits. For example, you could offer customers 20% off or free shipping if they subscribe to your email list or spend a certain amount of money on products. Incentives for purchasing milestones can encourage customers to come back as well. Reward customers for writing reviews, sharing your product or service on their own social media channels, and for referring a friend.

Once you have done some research on your best customers and what they have in common, you can start to design your loyalty program. To start, make sure your loyalty program is easy to sign up for. If customers have to fill out an extensive form, they are less likely to join your program. Allowing customers to sign up through their Facebook account is a good way to gather their information while saving them time. Make sure that customers understand the rewards program and what they are signing up for. Programs such as Starbucks Rewards card lay everything out clearly for the customers- how to earn points, what you get on each level of membership, and how many points you need to move up to their top level. Starbucks rewards also make it easy for customers to gain and redeem points- all they have to do is pay using their Starbucks App or a registered Starbucks card to gain points from any purchase, and they simply have to notify a barista when paying to cash in their free food or drink reward.

You will also want to make sure that you give your customers worthwhile rewards and bonuses so they will continue to stay loyal to your company. Delta and American Express teamed up to create a popular credit card program that allows users to gain “sky miles”. Sky miles gained can be cashed in for plane tickets on Delta flights. By signing up for the credit card and spending a set amount in your first few months, customers get bonus sky miles as a welcome gift. If a friend refers you to the program, then you can get even more welcome sky miles, and your friend gets a bonus as well. This is a good example of not only giving customers a worthwhile reward, but also utilizing a referral program and customer retention.

Loyalty programs are easily customizable to your unique business. It might help you to research your competitors to see if they offer loyalty programs, and offer similar competitive benefits. Loyalty programs help with customer satisfaction, customer retention, increased CLV, and new customer referrals. Customers love the chance to share products and services they love they love, and it’s even better when they benefit from it. Reward your customers for being loyal to you and they will return the favor.

May 25
Reading Time: 2 minutes

 

Credit card pre-authorization is something that many customers and merchants have heard of, but do not really understand. Pre-authorizations are done to help prevent fraud, reduce processing costs, and increase customer satisfaction. Pre-authorization is not something that all companies take advantage of, although it can be beneficial to both the merchant and customer.

Pre-Authorization: Pre-authorization is similar to a regular charge on a credit card, except that the charge is held for several days before getting withdrawn from the customer’s account. Typically, this hold period lasts a maximum of 5 days. While the money is in the pre-authorization period, it is not available for the customer to touch. Although the customer’s money is frozen to them during pre-authorization, it is not actually debited to their card. Merchants have the designated period to capture the funds, or they will expire the pre-authorization period and the merchant will need to contact the cardholder to re-run the payment.

One of the biggest advantages of preauthorization is that it does allow customers to demand a chargeback. That means if someone has stolen a customer’s card, they have a time frame for both the bank and the customer to catch the charge before the fraudster gets caught before the charge goes through. Another advantage is that it helps avoid MDR (merchant discount rate) fees. A Merchant Discount Rate fee allows money to be passed from one business to another. These fees are not processed until the charge is fully authorized.

Refunds can also be costly, and pre-authorizing a purchase can help reduce that cost. Not all credit card processors charge a fee for refunds, but it is not uncommon. Since it is still a transfer of money, some processors feel as though this is necessary. If the card in simply pre-authorised, then the card does not need to be refunded since the money is still in the cardholders account.

For merchants, setting up pre-authorization is fairly simple. Integrate your website to the payment gateway you are using, and specify that you would like to use pre-authorization. Some payment processors do not support this, so if you think pre-authorization is a good fit for your company, make sure to use a company such as BMT Micro that does support it. Once the card is pre-authorized, it should show up in the customer’s bank account as a pending charge.

Pre-authorization is typically a good option for both merchants and customers. It gives both parties time to make sure that everything in the order is correct, and the funds and product are both readily available. While some card holders get nervous seeing a pre-authorization charge, rest assured that the money is still in your account until everything is processed and clear. If you have any questions about purchase you have made through BMT Micro, please feel free to contact our customer service at cservice@bmtmicro.com.

May 4
Reading Time: 3 minutes

 

First impressions matter, and this is especially true of your company’s website. While fliers and phone calls are still used to spread information about companies, most customers are turning to websites as their main source of information. According to a study done by The Journal of Behavior & Information Technology, websites have about 50 milliseconds to make a good first impression. So how do you make sure your website truly reflects how great your product is? Here are 3 tips to help you make your best first impression.

Navigation: Nobody wants to waste time looking for what they need, so your website needs to be clear and easy to navigate from the get-go. Write down a description of what you want the site to look like, what your customers expectations are, and what goals you have for the site. Sketching out a website blueprint can be helpful if you are planning a new website or a big redesign of a current website. Make sure you are keeping your website up-to-date with a clean design. If potential customers are taking the time to visit your site, they want to see that you have put effort into making it aesthetically pleasing, unique, and concise. Have clearly labeled tabs at the top of your website and easy to find contact information (usually linked at the bottom of the page). It is helpful to add a FAQ page as well. Customers often turn to the website for answers to questions before they try to contact customer service for a timely and convent answer.

Accessibility: Customers are impatient when visiting websites. If the page has a lag or won’t load, even after a few seconds, you pose the risk of driving them away from your site and to a competitor. A study by Google found that 61% of users will not return to a website they have trouble accessing the first time. Gap is notoriously known for having a slow loading website. While the design isn’t bad, the initial load time is longer than ideal. Once on the website, the links do not load much faster than the home page. While a few seconds might not seem like a big deal, having a lag is a sure way to drive online customers away and lose sales.

What you do want to aim for on your website is fast and concise information. The visitor is likely on your site to get more information about your company and product. Let them know who you are, what you do, and what you can do for the visitor. Avoid jargon so the visitor is able to easily understand what you are saying. It is smart to design your pages for your target audience, so that you can use language that they will understand and respond to. Make sure to include a call-to-action, such as “Buy Now”, “Learn More”, or “Download”. It is important to ensure that your website stays updated to reflect how your company and customer base are growing.

Optimization: In the age of smartphones, tablets, and laptops, it is crucial that your website works on all kinds of devices. Nothing is more annoying to a customer than trying to look up information on their smartphone, only to be told that the website is not optimized for that device. The same goes for apps or websites with the smartphone user in mind. Snapchat is a good example of a website that is optimized for many formats. Although it is designed to be used on smartphones, the website is easy to navigate for users who want to create custom filters or add a geofilter to the map. Large font sizes, plenty of white space, and a thought out color scheme help your website look good on any device, rather than cheap and cluttered. Choose one main objective of your website, and offer your customer choices from there. Having too many options makes your website overwhelming, and harder to optimize for different devices.

Although it might not seem like your website is as important as what you are selling, keeping up a good online presence shows your customers that you care about them and respect their time and questions. Building a website that is aesthetically pleasing, easy to navigate, and helpful is a crucial way to build your brand and please your customers. First impressions last for years, so make sure your website reflects how great your product or service is.

Apr 27
Reading Time: 3 minutes

 

Ecommerce companies are always on the lookout for new ways to promote their businesses and get the word out about products. One method of advertising that is rapidly gaining popularity is affiliate marketing. Affiliate marketing is both simple and effective. There are two basic ways to make money online: Sell your own products or make commission helping someone else sell their products. Affiliate marketing falls under the second category.

How does affiliate marketing work? Affiliate marking is fairly simple. If you have a website that sells a product, you can have affiliates team up with you to spread the word and help promote your product. An easy way to get started with the process is to set up a page on your website for people who are interested in becoming affiliates to contact you. You can also reach out to people who you think would be a good fit to work with your company. These people are usually bloggers or social media influences who already have an audience that you think would be a good target audience for your company. When starting an affiliate program, it is helpful to make an announcement on the home page of your website, as well as social media accounts such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Make sure your contact information is clear and easy to access.

What does an affiliate do? Affiliates are responsible for promoting products or services on their personal channels. Successful affiliates already have a large following on their own social media accounts. Instagram, YouTube, and Facebook, are all especially popular platforms for affiliates. Many affiliate marketing programs will give affiliates a code to pass along to their followers for some kind of discount (for example, free shipping for 10% off). The affiliates will then get a percentage of the sale. Having affiliate codes is also a good way for companies to keep track of how many sales each affiliate is driving. One of the best things about this method is that often the affiliate can show their followers how they incorporate the product into their daily lives. For example, BarkBox has an affiliate program that allows people with popular pet blogs or Instagram accounts to share pictures of their dogs with the toys and treats they’ve gotten from BarkBox. The affiliate’s followers see the fun other dogs are having with BarkBox, and think of how it would be a fun present to get their own dogs. The affiliates include a BarkBox link on their profiles to earn commission off of followers who sign up through them.

Bloggers also make great affiliates. Companies will send the blogger a product they would like them to review. The affiliate will then test it out and write a review about the product, posted on their personal blog. Blogs are often written in a casual tone, making them easy to read and more persuasive than a traditional marketing campaign. Affiliates will discuss what they like about the product and encourage their readers to try it out for themselves. Non-physical products can use affiliates as well. Informational products and service products often have affiliates programs. Informational products are websites that help customers learn new skills, such as ebooks, online courses, or webinars. Service products are services you can offer to customers, such as business plans, or public relation strategies.

With any kind of affiliate marketing, it is important to make sure that the affiliate lets their audience know they are making commission off of the sales make through their links. Don’t forget to include a call to action as well.

How can I tell if affiliate marketing is right for my company?

Keep in mind that while affiliates do help drive traffic and sales, they also take commission from what they help you sell. If you are a new business that is just starting up, affiliate marketing might not be very beneficial for your company just yet. However, if you are an established company looking to expand your audience, teaming up with affiliates could be valuable. A good way to tell if affiliate programs are useful in your market is to run a quick search to see if your competitors offer them. If they are running affiliate programs and they seem to be working, it is worth looking further into. If your competitors do not appear to have affiliate programs, then it might be best to not use this method.

Although affiliates do take a commission of your sales, having them team up with you can open up your business to a whole new audience. Many social media influences have loyal followers who trust them as experts, so having them spread a positive word about your product can be beneficial to both you and them. BMT Micro has an affiliate program available to our vendors. For more information please contact vendors@bmtmicro.com and to sign up please visit our new affiliate page