Nov 16
Reading Time: 3 minutes


Gift cards have been around for a long, long time in brick and mortar stores, but the idea to create them for ecommerce companies is fairly new. While the general idea is the same, ecommerce gift cards vary from the traditional plastic cards you are most likely familiar with. For large or small ecommerce brands, gift cards can be a unique way to bring in new customers and allow current customers to treat one another or reward themselves. While there are some major advantages to ecommerce gift cards, there are also some factors to keep aware of to ensure safety for you and your customers.

Benefits of gift cards: Before we discuss the potential negatives of ecommerce gift cards, it is important to keep in mind the benefits they can bring you. Customers love to give and receive gift cards any time of the year, not just around holidays. It is a special gift that lets loved ones show the gift card receiver that they know them well enough to know what they like, while allowing them the fun of choosing a specific item themselves. Many customers will spend more than the value of the gift card, as they have extra money to put towards a product or service they might not have wanted to splurge on in the past. Gift cards are also a great way to recruit new customers. If someone who has never shopped with you before receives a gift card, they are more than likely going to spend it. These customers will get a higher sense of satisfaction with their products, as they did not have to spend their own money and therefore are getting a great deal. Gift cards can also help increase brand awareness. If you have a customer who loves your product, they might want to give out ecommerce gift cards as a present to their friends and family with similar interests. This expands your audience, and can be a great source of advertising.

Precautions for gift cards: Ecommerce gift cards can often be very easy for thieves to steal. Since there is no physical card, nor it is attached to any personal information, these digital cards are an easy target. If an ecommerce gift card is stolen, it is very difficult to trace the culprit. Criminals also like to take advantage of high volume times, such as during a big sale or near the holidays, so companies are busy and even less likely to notice suspicious activity. These criminals are also know to re-sell the gift cards for profit. If your gift cards often get stolen and the customer is left without reimbursement, this can also lead to negative reviews for your company and loss of customers.

Fraud tactics: There are many ways that criminals will try to steal from your company. Stealing data and fraudulent chargebacks are two of the most common ways. Chargebacks alerts can take up to 180 days to reach the merchant, and criminals take advantage of that time frame to use stolen information to purchase gift cards. They then sell them to make a profit for themselves. By the time they are caught, the damage has been done and it is very difficult to remedy the situation. More experienced criminals will even go to far as to take over customer’s accounts, and have emails and calls re-routed to themselves. This allows them to make as many purchases and transfers as they want, with less suspicion. Bots are another advanced form of fraud, which allows criminals to increase the number of attacks in a time period. There are many more tactics criminals use to commit fraud, and it is helpful to be aware of them.

Fraud prevention: Despite criminals trying their best to swoop in and steal your money, as well as your customer’s money, there are precautions you can use to deflect them. Before you start selling digital gift cards, develop a plan to help you account for all contingencies. Set several fraud detection points in to trip up criminals and allow you more time to catch them. You want it to be difficult and layered, so that is it not worth their time to hack you or your customers. Two factor authentication is a popular and easy way to help prevent fraud by sending a conformation via SMS or requiring a PIN. Make sure that your fraud prevention accepts all payment types, so criminals are still blocked when you expand into new markets and countries. Set your fraud prevention to allow you complete control to decline, approve, and review all digital interactions. By allowing yourself the option to review everything manually, you are much more likely to catch thieves and stop them from stealing money and information.

Ecommerce gift cards can be a great asset to your business, and very popular with customers. Staying safe and alert allows you and your customers to fully enjoy the benefits of gift cards.

Nov 9
Reading Time: 3 minutes


Every smart company and marketer knows that social media is important for developing your brand, increasing your sales, and keeping in touch with customers. While you might have researched the best social media platforms to use, how to use social media to boost SEO, and even how to research your competition, many marketers fail to research how often they should be posting. All social media channels are not created equal, and audiences love each one for a different reason. There is a fine balance between posting too much and not posting enough. Here are 5 tips to help you decide how to best use your social media accounts.

When to post: There is no firm answer to the question of when to post on each social media channel. However, figuring this out is a very important step in keeping up a good social media presence. The maximum guideline for each outlet is as follows: Facebook up to twice a day; Twitter up to ten times a day; Pinterest up to 30 times a day; LinkedIn about once per business day; Instagram up to twice per day. This does not include disappearing “stories” on the sites that do provide them, although you do not want to go overboard with those either. Alter this guide to what channels you are using, and how often your customers are responding to your posts. It is important to find the right balance for your company so that your audience is neither bored nor overwhelmed. Besides the trial and error method, there are infographics to help you decide when and how often you should post.

Choose your channels: Every company does not need to be on every social media channel. Know your target audience and choose to spend your time and efforts on social media sites that they actually use. For example, if your main demographic is middle aged men, you will not have much of a need for a Pinterest account. Instead, you would focus on LinkedIn and Facebook. If your target demographic is young women, you will want to utilize more social media accounts such as Instagram and even Snapchat. Bringing content to your users in a way that they value will help you connect with them. Also take into consideration what outlets will play your strengths. If you do not have a psychical product you are selling, than Instagram and other visual-based outlets are probably not worth your time. However, if you sell apparel, home goods, or other aesthetically pleasing items, Instagram will be valuable to you.

Share content from others: Your social media accounts are not all about you. Rather, they are all about your customers. Do not be afraid to share content from other sources that you think your customers would like. Pay attention to what your audience is responding to, and what audience’s on your competitor’s pages are responding to. One of the best reasons to use social media is to directly interact with customers, and listening to their feedback shows that you care about them, and not just about sales. However, do not rely on others to come up with all of your content. Your customers are interacting with your social media channels to see what you are doing and keep up with your products and services. Let shared material be a guest appearance, rather than the norm.

Publish content at busy times: With all of the ever-changing algorithms, posting at high volume times of day is the best way to get your content to reach as much of your audience as possible. Often, posting when a large number of users are online will allow a wider audience to see the post when it appears. Having your post near or at the top of audience’s feed means having their attention, and a higher chance of them interacting with the post. The more people like, share, or comment, the more “relevant” the post is labeled, which means that it will continue to show up at the top of other customer’s feeds.

Be social: Social media is named that for a reason. You get the unique opportunity to be able to interact with customers one-on-one, and to allow them to interact with one another. Make sure to engage with customers, ask questions to get conversations started, and monitor your posts to ensure everyone is being respectful to one another.

Although posting on social media seems like a simple task anyone can do, posting at the right time takes research and consistency. Having a strategy and analyzing what works as you go along will pay off, and you will quickly start to see great results.

Nov 2

Getting Started With Facebook Ads

Posted by BMT Micro

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Over one billion people are active users of Facebook. This huge, global platform can be any marketer’s dream or nightmare. While having access to such a huge audience is wonderful, it can also be intimidating and easy to get lost in the swarms of other businesses trying to reach the same target audience as you. However, with this year’s new algorithm, it is harder for businesses to connect with audiences. This is to encourage meaningful interactions between friends and family, rather than having user’s feeds full of notifications from companies. With Facebook ads, you can continue to interact with your customers in a way that does not take away from their interactions with loved ones, while still reaching them and promoting your brand. While there are a variety of Facebook ads and ways you can use them, here are a few of the most popular.

Photo ads: Photo ads are a great start for companies that do not have much experience with Facebook ads. Chances are, you have posted a picture on your Facebook account at some point. If you have a picture that you think really defines your brand or stands out, you can boost the post, and create an ad out of it. If you want to use a photo you have not previously posted, you can simply choose to create a new Facebook ad and use the picture you want to use.

Video ads: Video ads are eye catching, and a great way to show off your product. They can be silly, inspirational, or encourage users to give your product a shot. Dollar Shave Club is a well-known razor brand that mails razors to it’s users each month for a low cost. They are known for their funny ads, including their Trick to an Amazing Shave series, featuring short commercials of people doing “tricks” to change their blades. RXBAR is another famous brand with a much different style of commercial. They are known for using simple, healthy ingredients to make their bars, and listing the ingredients in bold. Their commercials go along with the style of the bars- clean and simple. Both brands did a wonderful job researching their audiences and keeping their ads in line with the brand image they wanted to project.

Carousel ads: Carousel ads are creative, fun, and grab the customers attention. While this style is a bit more complicated than a picture or video, it is worth the extra effort. Carousel ads are an interactive ad format that allow you to post up to 10 GIFs, pictures, or clips in one post. Users can then scroll through them to see more. Some companies choose to break up one picture into several pieces, while others showcase different products. Tieks shows a creative way to show off a single product, where Pura Vida shows off different products while advertising their mission to help artisans in Costa Rica and keeping a cohesive color scheme.

Create your ad campaign: Even if you choose the perfect type of Facebook ad, without some preparation it will not do much good. The first step in starting your campaign is to choose a objective. Facebook makes this easy by offering 11 marketing objectives based off of what you hope to achieve. The objectives are brand awareness, reach, traffic, engagement, app installs, video reviews, lead generation, messages, conversions, catalog sales, and store visits. It is important to choose your category based off of your top goal. For example, if you have recently launched an app, you will probably want to focus on app installs rather than messages or store visits. While all of the objectives are important, focusing on one will bring better results. After choosing your objective and naming your campaign, choose where you would like your ads displayed. Remember that ads will show up different on mobile and desktop devices, so determine if you want to use ads optimized for one or both types of devices, and create them accordingly. The last step is to set your budget and schedule. For your first ad campaign, you might not want to go all-out until you can experiment and research what your audience is responding to, and what they do not like as much. The advanced budget options will allow you to get into fine details about how and where you would like your money spent. It is very important to track and analyze your ads so that you can continue to improve on them in the future.

There are many types of Facebook ads, and many ways you can run them. The most important thing is to be creative and give your customers content that they enjoy, while showing them how great your company is. Do not be afraid to think outside of the box. If you have fun creating your ads, it will show and your customers will respond positively.

Oct 19
Reading Time: 4 minutes


Customers are at the heart of every business, no matter how large and established or small and new. And while you do your best to provide the best possible product or service for them, once in awhile things go wrong or a miscommunication happens. Some customers will be understanding while others may lash out in confusion or frustration. The best way to handle situations gone wrong and to keep customer loyalty is to ensure that you have open lines of communication through various channels to meet customer needs. Here are five important customer service channels that every company needs.

Frequently Asked Questions: Commonly known as FAQ’s, having one of these pages on your website can help you and your customer save a lot of time. Typically, customers will contact you if they need answers that they are having a hard time finding on their own. While some customers feel more reassured getting an answer directly from a customer service representative, the majority are happy to find the answer for themselves on your website or social media channels. Research common questions customers ask about the type of product you sell, and look into FAQ pages on competitors websites to get ideas. Even if you are just starting your business, an FAQ page will be beneficial to you. Make sure your FAQ page is organized, states answers clearly, and offers other ways to get in touch if the customer’s question is not answered above. As your company grows and develops, update and add to your FAQ page.

Email: Email is a classic, easy way for customers to get in touch with you. In the age of smartphones, email is easy for customers to access at any time. It allows them (and you) to communicate in an asynchronous way, which is convenient for both parties. Email communication also helps you easily keep track of customer conversations. This allows you to measure satisfaction, how quickly the issue was resolved, and feedback about the interaction. Make sure you take note of how the email conversations go so that you can continue to better your customer service and ensure that problems are solved as quickly as possible. Customers who do not need an instant response will often turn to email as their preferred method of communication, so make sure to offer a timely and helpful reply.

Live Chat: Live chat is a wonderful way to provide quick, accessible help. Live chat is perfect for customers who need a quick response (so they do not wait to wait for an email) but do not have the time for a phone call. Live chat can potentially allow for the customer to multi-task as well, and allows you to search for answers and send helpful links more easily than over the phone. Consider what page or pages you’d like to add the live chat. Unless you are a large company that offers 24/7 customer service, you will also want to set up an away message stating your office hours, and when you will be able to get back to the customers. Some chat services such as Tidio Chat will send you chats sent during off hours as emails. This option still sends the customer the away message, but allows you to respond to it from your inbox as an email.

Phone Support: Sometimes customers will be confused or frustrated, and want to talk to a person on the phone for immediate, step by step help. Often, older customers also prefer this method, as they are not digital natives and speaking to a person is more familiar to them. Do your best to answer the phone when customers call, even if you are working on something else. If you do miss a call and they leave a voicemail, try to identify their solution and give them a call back as quickly as possible. By acknowledging their issue and offering them a solution as soon as they call back, rather than ignoring the voicemail and having then repeat their problem while on the phone, you will save both of you time and frustration.

Social Media: Social media is unique in that anyone can see it in many cases. Sometimes, very happy or very angry customers will turn to accounts such as Facebook or Instagram to voice their complaints. The worst thing you can do is to ignore these comments- good or bad. If a customer is complimenting you or leaving a positive review, thank them for their business. If a customer is complaining, publicly apologize and ask them to privately contact you by phone or email to resolve the issue. When customers are researching a brand they will often look up social media accounts, and unanswered posts are a red flag for prospective buyers.

Although customer service can have a reputation for being an easy job, it can make or break a potential customer’s decision. Give your customer’s the respect they deserve by responding to them as quickly and politely as possible, and allowing them to contact you however is best for them.

Oct 12
Reading Time: 3 minutes

With the holiday season right around the corner, many ecommerce stores are starting their preparations. However, many companies overlook Halloween each year in anticipation of Black Friday and the holiday rush that comes with it. While many of your competitors are likely to focus their efforts on the holiday frenzy post-Halloween, you can get a step ahead by capitalizing on the holiday. Last year the Nation Retail Federation reported over $9 billion in Halloween product sales, Even if you are not selling anything directly Halloween related, there are some tricks to help you treat your customers.

Plan your Halloween period: Since Halloween is on a different day of the week every year, you will want to plan your Halloween campaign around when you are the busiest, and what days and times your customers are most active. While large orders are great, you will want your customer service and website to be prepared to spikes in sales to avoid frustration. Since Halloween falls on a Wednesday this year, you may want to plan for the weekend before as your busiest time for sales. Putting extra emphasis on your promotions, discounts, and advertising will help you make the most of your campaign around this time, when customers are looking for last-minute buys.

Add character: Halloween is a time to dress up, have fun, and be silly or scary. Make sure that the tone of your ads reflect the light-hearted liveliness of the holiday. Most brands will fill their streams with corny Halloween puns and spooky jokes. You do not want to come across as taking advantage of Halloween just to make more sales. Rather, let customers know that you are joining in on the fun with them. Unique, well planned content will grab customers attention and they will be glad that you are making an effort to please and engage with them. Create content that showcases your product in a fun and festive way. Use spooky pictures, silly puns, or any other content you think your customers will enjoy to grab their attention and draw them in. Make sure that you stay age-appropriate for your target customers. Oreo is a cookie that produces different flavors and colors of their signature cookie for major holidays. Halloween Oreos are ones that many fans look forward to all year, claiming that the orange filling makes the cookies taste even better than original Oreos. However, the only place Oreo advertises the release of the long-awaited seasonal treat is a social media post. They did create an ad campaign back in 2014 of a series of short films featuring “nomsters” made in an 1800’s style Oreo labratory. They asked the audience for help naming the little creatures, a great way to build a relationship with their customers and gain user generated content.

Offer a promotion: Trick-or-treat is a classic Halloween tradition, and you do not want your customers to miss out just because they are no longer children. So many stores offer specials and discounts around the holidays that you will be at a disadvantage if you do not offer even a small one. Since Halloween is the start of the holiday season, little things such as free shipping or a freebie can help persuade customers to shop your products. Introduce them to products that you think their loved ones would like, and offer a sample size with their purchase or a buy one get one deal. You could even offer a small gift card of $5 or $10 after a certain amount purchased, a deal that encourages them to come back and shop with you again without costing you much money or time.

Although Halloween does not seem like a big ecommerce opportunity, delighting your customers and building a relationship with them by having fun will help you in both short and long term sales. No matter if you are trying to get ahead of your competition, increase revenue, or expand your customer reach, taking advantage of Halloween will help you gain momentum going into the hectic holiday season.