Aug 17

Introduction To Usability Testing

Posted by BMT Micro

Reading Time: 3 minutes

 

Usability testing is an easy step to overlook while developing or redesigning your website. After putting hard work into creating something you are certain your customers and potential customers will love, getting someone else to evaluate it can slip your mind. However, it is easy to let little mistakes slip past you, no matter how much effort you’ve dedicated, and a fresh perspective can make a huge difference on ensuring that your website is at its full potential.

What is Usability Testing? Usability testing is a way to evaluate a user’s experience on your website. By testing the usability of your website, you can tell if your website is easy and practical for customers to use. Typically, a test is done where participants complete tasks on the website, while a researcher takes notes. This allows you to see where your website is clear and simple to use, and where you could make some changes.

What are the benefits of Usability Testing? There are some major benefits to usability testing. The first benefit is that is provides you with an unbiased and accurate examination of your website’s user experience. Typically the team running the assessment is detached from your company, so they are unbiased and coming in with a clear mind. It is a convenient way to measure how usable your website is, since all you need is a quiet room and someone taking notes. Usability testing is fairly quick to tell you the pros and cons of your website, making it easier to implement changes needed to improve. It can save you money, as you catch problems early on, allowing your website to be at its best from the start.

How to use Usability Testing: The first step to usability testing is to decide what part, or parts, of your website you want tested. Is there a page or feature you struggled designing or questioned? That might be a good place to start. If you have a pros and cons list before you start, usability testing can help you improve more quickly and accurately. Next, set goals for your participants. Think of common tasks that users will visit your website for. Make sure popular products contact information and FAQs are easy to access. Testing the checkout experience is often a good idea as well.

Your next step should be to create a script. Make everyone aware of their role in the usability testing, what the purpose is, what the tasks are, and some questions to determine how familiar participants are with your website previous to the study. To keep everything unbiased and consistent, use the same script with each participant and testing session. Once you have your script and plan, delegate the roles to all of the participants. The moderator will be running the session, and he or she needs to remain neutral. The moderators job is to make sure that the participants complete tasks and feel comfortable with what they are being asked to do. You will also need a note taker, so that you can keep track of all of the issues participants find, as well as what they liked.

After you have the script and roles set up for your usability testing, recruiting participants is the next step. This tends to be the most difficult step, as you are testing a small sample size to represent your whole user base. To find your ideal participants, create a buyer persona and reach out to customers that fit those guidelines. Offer them a discount or gift for participating in your usability testing. If they like your company enough to help you, they will be glad to get a reward of your product or service. Once you have your participants screened out,you are ready to conduct the study. While you are conducting the study, ask participants to complete tasks without your help. It is often beneficial to ask them to “think out loud” as well, so that you are able to hear their opinions as they navigate your website. After they complete a task, ask for feedback before moving on to the next task. This allows you to get the most accurate information. At the end offer them a survey letting you know what they liked and did not like, if they would recommend your product or service to a friend, and how difficult the tasks were to complete. Once you are done with the study, you will have a lot of qualitative data. Analyzing your data will help you pinpoint problem areas, especially if many participants report the same problems.

Although usability tests are a lot of work, they are a great way to have a quality website from the start. Having a wonderful product or service is simply not enough if your website does not live up to customer’s expectations. Letting others review and critique your website can be nerve wracking after you put in so much effort, but working as a team will help ensure that your website is up to its full potential.

Jul 27
Reading Time: 3 minutes

 

Creating marketing content can be overwhelming, even intimidating, no matter how much experience you have. Trends are constantly changing, and the Content Marketing Institute reported that 70% of B2B marketers were creating more content in 2017 than the previous year, meaning there is more competition than ever. A content marketing plan can help you create relevant content in a timely manner that your audience will respond to, and give you a leg up on your competition by creating fresh ideas. Here are some steps to help you get that content marketing plan started, or refresh a plan you already have.

What is a Content Marketing Plan? A content marketing plan, sometimes referred to as a content strategy, is a plan to help you develop the best possible content for your business and audience. This includes the development of all media that you create- written, visual, downloadable, etc. Before you start creating or updating your strategy, ask yourself several questions. First, who is your target audience? Is it broad or narrow? Figure out who you are making your content for, and that will help you narrow down on what channels to focus, as well as the tone of your posts. Next, figure out what problem you are going to solve for your customers. More than likely, you are offering a product or service that fills a need they have. Articulate why your solution is the best option for their problem. How will your company stand out? What makes you unique? Every company has something special about them, so make sure your let your audience know what it is about you that makes you different from your competitors. Last, establish a timeline for your posts so your audience knows when they can expect content from you. For example, BMT Micro publishes a blog every Friday, and posts content on other outlets throughout the week.

Set a goal: Before you start creating content, make sure you have a clear goal in mind. What do you hope to accomplish? Make sure your goals are SMART: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Bound. Think about your aim for your content and what you hope to get from it. You could aim to gain a certain number of followers in a certain time period, or to post a motivational quote once a week. Whatever your goal, make sure to measure it to see how your audience is responding, and adjust your content as needed.

Conduct research: Creating a buyer persona is a great first step to creating content. This will help you find the type of people that you are looking to target, and give you an idea of where you should focus your marketing efforts. Once your company grows and develops, you can re-asses your target audience and create new buyer personas, or add more to expand your reach. Researching your competition is another good step to take. See what your competitors are doing, and what kinds of campaigns are working for them. While you want to come up with your own original work that sets you apart, keeping an eye on the competition can give you an idea of what mediums your audience is responding to, as well as what channels they are most active on and how frequently they post. See what mistakes they have already made and learned from, so you don’t make the same ones and you can stay a step ahead.

Brainstorm: Coming up with new topics can be challenging. Try keeping a list of things relevant to your company for when you are stuck on new content ideas. If you keep a company blog and see an interesting topic, make note of it for a future blog post. If you run your company’s Instagram page and see new ideas that inspire you, create a folder to save them. Decide what kind of content and themes you want to create, but do not be afraid to branch out if you have a creative new idea. Even shaking up social media accounts in small ways, such as posting a video instead of a picture or adding an info-graphic into a post, can be eye catching to your audience and help keep content fresh. You want to have some consistency in your color scheme and what days you post, but switching up smaller things helps prevent monotony.

While creating a content marketing plan sounds overwhelming, when you break it down into the steps above it is very attainable. Having a plan, and keeping a calendar with reminders, will help you stay organized and produce more quality content. Although there are a lot of little steps involved, content marketing is all about creativity and letting your brand image shine through to showcase your unique qualities. If you need a safe and secure payment processor to help you process all of your sales, contact vendors@bmtmicro.com for information.

Jul 20
Reading Time: 4 minutes

 

Ecommerce companies have gotten highly competitive, with every purchase, click, and conversion making a difference to each company’s success. As most ecommerce businesses know, keeping customers is easier and cheaper than trying to gain new customers. So how do you keep customers engaged and happy with your company? With all of the competition on today’s market, customer retention goes deeper than simply giving the customer a quality product or service, although that is a major part of the process. Here are some tips on how to keep your current customers, as well as some practices to avoid.

DO use customer accounts: Just as keeping return customers is easier for you, make the purchasing and checkout process as easy as possible for customers coming back to your site. By allowing customers to create an account, they will not have to fill out all of their billing and shipping information again, saving them valuable time. If your checkout process is too long or repetitive, customers might see it as too much of a hassle and take their business elsewhere. Look for ways you can simplify the process. Saving their shipping address is a great step, saving their credit card information (with their permission) is even better. If you do choose to store their card information for them, make sure to have them re-enter their security code and expiration date to ensure their safety. Etsy is a great example of a site with an easy checkout process. The site allows you to log in through Facebook (meaning customers do not have to create an Etsy account if they have a Facebook account) and they store all of their customer’s information. When it is time to check out, customers simply choose which of their stored addresses they would like items to be shipped to, type in their security code for the card they are choosing to use, and purchase their items. BMT Micro is another excellent example of an easy checkout process. BMT Micro features saved customer accounts for a secure and easy checkout process, localization, flexible delivery options, and much more.

DO NOT make contact difficult: If a customer needs to get in touch with you about an order, make it as easy as possible for him or her. Maybe they made an error when placing the order, need to make a change, or want to track their package. Whatever the reason, having easy and open communication with your customer can make or break a customer’s decision to purchase through you again. Offer customers a variety of ways to get in touch with you. Some customers might be more comfortable talking to representatives on the phone, while others may prefer e-mail or live chat. However customers choose to contact you, make sure you reply to them in a timely matter, no matter how large or small their request is.

DO offer discounts: Who doesn’t love a discount? While you don’t want to go overboard with a discount, offering new customers a deal on their next order is a good way to keep them shopping with you. Even a discount as little as 10% can help sway customers to keep purchasing from your company. Give first time shoppers a special code to help track how responsive new customers are to becoming frequent shoppers. Not only will a discount entice them to shop with you again, but it will help you see how your advertising campaigns are working, and where you can use improvement.

DO NOT keep your customer in the dark about their order: Customers like their product fast. While online shopping takes longer to get products to customers than traditional brick-and-mortar stores, it is still important to get customers their product as quickly as you can. Send them a conformation email when they place their order to give them peace of mind that everything went through correctly. Then, send them a follow-up email when the item ships out with a tracking number. Doing this will give the customer a window to expect their item, and allow them to track it themselves rather than contacting customer service to check on their order. Giving customers updates throughout the process saves you time from answering inquiring phone calls and emails, and ease’s customers minds.

DO make suggestions: Using the insight that you have on purchases the customer has made, suggest other items or services they might like. Base it off of customer interests, and recommend new products or similar products they might not have seen. Track what similar items customers are viewing, and recommend them to similar potential buyers. “Based off your interest” categories at the bottom of a page is an effective way to introduce these items. Make sure to track the clicks and purchases of suggested items to keep items fresh, and to see if you are offering ideas customers are interested in.

Current customers are your best asset. Potential customers trust honest reviews or word of mouth from others more than traditional ad campaigns. Make sure you spend time and energy providing a great customer experience for the customers you already have, and they will help bring in new buyers.

Jul 13

Going Global

Posted by BMT Micro

Reading Time: 3 minutes

 

The United States has a good market for almost everything. However, expanding your business’s reach internationally has become easier than ever with the rise of global e-commerce. Before you try to start selling to an international customer base, ask yourself if there is a need or want for your service or product in other countries. Additionally, look into what it is going to take to get your business up and running in another country. Once you decide that a global market is a good fit for your company, here are 3 tips to start and grow your international customer base.

Find your target market: When expanding to international customers, it is important to remember that their culture may differ from yours. Start by doing some research. See where you already might have international customers, or a lot of customers interested in your product, and try expanding into your existing market. Look and see what countries have a demand for your product or a gap in the industry. Research spending patterns and what demographics make the most online purchases. Even if you only test out a few products or services to begin with, this will help you determine if you will be successful with a certain target market before spending a great amount of time and funds.

Localize: Localizing is one of the most important factors to take into consideration when expanding globally. Keep in mind each countries currency and let customers pay with that. Make sure you give customers a choice on which language they prefer as well, rather than assuming a language based on location. Payment method preferences tend to very by country, and it is crucial to offer a variety of convenient options to keep international customers satisfied.

Consider new ideas when bringing your product or service to new countries. You want to remain true to your brand, but make sure that you adapt to the local environment. You might need to make small changes to the product or service depending on the needs of that country. Keep in mind that international customers might have different customs which could require a different sales approach. Mike Zani, the CEO of PI Worldwise said “Time zones, language and cultural appropriateness all need to be considered when you branch out internationally. If you don’t do this ahead of time, you run the risk of offending your international partners by appearing to be more concerned about yourself [than] them.”

Market entry: To enter a new, international market, you can optimize your current website to allow customers from other countries to order your products, or you can choose to set up a local web presence in the countries of you choice. One way to start small with new market entry is to test your product on a website like eBay or Amazon. This will allow you to see how your products sell without taking the time to redeveloping your website. They also allows you test selling to a wider reach for a lower cost. If you are confident that your products will sell well, then you can go ahead an optimize your website for international business. Let users know that you are selling internationally, and list the countries that you will ship to. You can also add a multi-language toggle for your website. The last option, and the most advanced, is to create a website specifically for the country (or countries) you are selling to. This open is the most time consuming and expensive, however it allows you to design the website and products specifically to your target demographic for that country. Doing this will give you better perspective on what is and is not working for those customers, and will allow you to customize it to their needs.

It is important to keep in mind that just because something works for customers in the United States, does not mean that it will necessarily work for customers in other countries. Expanding your business internationally is a great way to expand, as well as let customers outside of the United States use your great products. If you need a safe and secure payment processor for domestic or international sales, please contact BMT Micro at vendors@bmtmicro.com.

Jul 6
Reading Time: 3 minutes

 

Blogging is a quick and easy way to drive traffic to your website and keep relevant content that has customers checking back for more. Keeping a consistent blog also helps your ranking in Google searches, as your customers will be searching for you to see what new ideas and tips you have. Writing a blog helps give your brand a voice, and allows you to share what you think is relevant and helpful information in your industry. Having a blog drives traffic to your website, helps convert visitors into customers, and increases your chances of engagement. Here are some tips on how to get started on your own blog.

Create good content: This may sound like a no-brainer, but it is important to keep your content relevant to your customers, instead of only writing about topics of interest to you. Many customers look to blogs to answer a question they have, or to learn more about a company or industry. Take into account what your target demographic is, what kind of customers you want to draw to your site, and what they are most likely looking for. You can look at questions that your company frequently gets asked, or topics that seem to confuse customers. “How-to” content is also popular, as often visitors will come to your blog to figure out how to do something they think you are an expert on. Lowe’s Home Improvement does an excellent job of demonstrating this, as they have blog topics on a variety of ways you can use their products to help better your home. Check out your competitor’s blogs to see what they are writing about and how audiences are responding. This can help give you ideas on trending industry topics, as well as topics that are outdated.

Make it aesthetically pleasing: Like the rest of your website, your blog should look good. This is a chance for you to show off your creative skills. Make sure that the blog matches the rest of your website- use the same color scheme, fonts, etc. However, you can have a little more creativity with your blog, as it is changing so often. Try adding videos, pictures, info-graphics, title banners or GIF’s to your posts to make it stand out. Do not go overboard with the additions, however, as you want reader to focus on your content rather than just the pictures or videos you’ve added.

Optimize for SEO: Search Engine Optimization, or SEO, is important to make sure that customers can find your blog more easily. Most blog sites make it simple to optimize for SEO when you are editing your blog. Adding tags to your post is the first step. Make sure to add any relevant tags to make your blog easier to find on search engine rankings. For example, if you are writing a blog about How To Improve SEO, some tags you could use would be SEO, Ecommerce Tips, and Digital Marketing. The next step is to make sure that you have a solid meta description. A meta description is a few sentences that will show up under the title when customers find the blog on a search engine. This allows them to see what the blog is about. The last step is to make sure that your blog is easily accessible from your website and to include hyperlinks. The easier it is for you to access your blog post, the easier it will be for search engines and customers to find it as well.

Consistency: Posting a blog a certain number of times per week will encourage customers to keep up with your blog posts. If you post frequently, you will gain a following on your posts. Try committing to one day a week to post a blog around the same time. Starting off strong with your blog and letting it fade out is a big mistake that entrepreneurs make. If you have a large company with many employees who are willing to write quality content, you might want to post more frequently. However, if you do not have many people willing to write, once a week is a good starting point. Looking into freelance writers is also an option, as long as they are willing to familiarize themselves with your company and industry.

If you or one of your employees or coworkers has a knack for writing, keeping a blog is highly encouraged. It is an easy and helpful way to bring in new customers and to keep your current customers happy. Blogging is a way to build authority as well as a genuine way to help people. Often, potential customers will return the favor by purchasing from your company. Blogs can be fun to write and help to show off your brand personality, so use the steps above to get started and watch how it will help your business grow.