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.

Oct 5
Reading Time: 3 minutes

 

 

If you work in ecommerce or marketing, chances are you have heard how important user generated content (or UGC) is becoming. Although it has always been important to receive feedback from your customers, with visually rich social media platforms continuing to skyrocket in popularity, user generated content is on the rise. Sharing experiences with your brand or product is appealing to customers, who want authentic and original content. This is especially true of “influencers”, a user who strives for credibility in a specific industry (fashion, makeup, gaming) by gaining a large audience who values their opinion. A study by Bazaar Voice shows that 51% of United States consumers trust content generated by other users above any other form of information. While you cannot control user generated content as you can your own marketing efforts, there are many benefits to allowing and displaying user generated content.

UCG helps build relationships: One of the biggest benefits of user generated content is that it helps build relationships. Not only does this allow your customers easy access for a relationship with you, but it also allows them a relationship with one another. Giving your customers a community builds their loyalty to you, allows discussions and suggestions, and helps promote your brand. Authenticity plays a big role in building community as well. Having unscripted conversations, videos, and other interactions add depth to your business. Do not be afraid that user generated content will make your brand look cheap or lazy, rather look for the high quality content users who are passionate about your brand are putting out. You do not have to choose between authenticity and quality, rather encourage your customers to contribute to your brand’s story.

UGC helps rid customers of anxiety: Even if your product looks great online, customers want to see it to believe it. Since the closest they can get it virtual images, many turn to reviews to see what advice previous customers have. Especially when it comes to items that are not one size fits all, potential buyers are looking to get their questions answered authentically. People trust people more than brands and marketing schemes, so allowing customers to interact and leave reviews will help rid potential buyers of some anxiety. Reading about the fit of a certain item, how well a product works, or how helpful the customer service team will be if a return or exchange is needed can make or break a customer’s decision. If you have social media accounts, especially Instagram, encourage customers to tag your brand in photos or videos of them wearing or using your product, so potential buyers can see they product they are interested in being used by people like them.

UGC helps add quality content: Trying to create content on your own can be an overwhelming task. However, many customers are happy to give you content if you ask for it. With younger customers striving to me social media influencers, they are often willing to leave a review, take content pictures, or even record themselves talking about or using a product. While not all of these pictures and videos will be top quality, chances are you will still have a good number of customers that will send you great content. To get a lot of content, consider running a photo or video contest. Running a contest will get you a lot of free, authentic content, and will also boost your social media presence. Even a small prize and a chance at fame is enough to motivate consumers to enter the contest, and will peak the interest of those who are not as familiar with your brand. Blue Buffalo shows a great example with their “Patriotic Pets” contest. To enter, pet owners simply had to send it a photo of their pet decked out in patriotic gear, with the hashtag “#BLUEPatroticPets”. This did not require the owners to go purchase a certain item to take a photo with, rather the hashtag and influx of pet pictures were enough to boost Blue Buffalo’s social media and get pet owners talking about the brand. The prize for the winners was a bag of food for the pet, so Blue Buffalo got plenty of free, authentic content to use without having to spend much time or money.

User generated content is a great opportunity for everyone involved. Customers get a sense of community, their concerns addressed by fellow buyers, and your business gets plenty of authentic content and credibility while building a relationship with your customers. Be sure to monitor what your customers are posting to be sure that everyone is being kind and respectful to one another. Encouraging customers to have a voice is essential to grow your brand, so enjoy your growing relationship with them and watch your sales rise.

Sep 28
Reading Time: 3 minutes

The holiday season can be one of the most profitable times for your company. Each year, customers seem to get ready for the holidays earlier and earlier, and this year is no exception. With customers already starting their holiday countdowns, it is important to make sure that your store is prepared for the increase in customers and sales. By starting to spend an hour or two a day now, you will avoid stress and maintain your excellent customer service. To help prepare for your traffic and sales, here are some tips and strategies to use.

Make a plan: Before you blindly start your holiday prep, think about what changes your website needs, as well as what areas are good to go. Write out your categories and subcategories, plan sales or specials you might want to offer, and decide if you want to give your website a temporary holiday makeover. Some companies choose to add in a special holiday section to their website, while others continue to keep their categories the same. Research how your company did last year, compare yourself to your competitors, and use that information to help you plan to succeed even further this year.

Set goals: Setting goals is a great way to help you accomplish what you set out to do. A good way to go about this is to set your end goal, and then work your way back to how you will accomplish this. For example, if you end goal is to increase sales by 10% this year, narrow down your steps to achievable tasks. You will want to look into how you did last year, and then possibly compare what products did the best, what deals you ran, what products you would like to promote this year, and how to do that. By working backwards you will break down your work so it is easy to accomplish before the holidays, while keeping up with your normal workload. Make sure you plan your goals so you stay on the time frame you create.

Prepare for traffic: Although the holidays are thought of as a joyful time, it is easy for customers and businesses to get stressed and overwhelmed if websites are not prepared for an influx of traffic. Make sure to keep an extra close eye on your website during the busy season to make sure it is still up and running, and has not crashed with an overwhelming amount of visitors. Before the holidays, check your website speed to see how quickly it loads. Tools such as Website Grader can help you see where you are strong, and where your website needs improvement. Doing this early on will save you headache and loss of sales when the holiday season approaches. Don’t forget to ensure that you are optimized for mobile as well, as many customers will shop from their phones while on the go. If you do not have an app, make the mobile version of your website strong and reliable.

Consider special order and return policies: You know customers are going to be spending more money than usual around the holidays, so eliminate as many obstacles as you can to encourage customers to order from you, rather than a competitor. Offer special holiday prices, such as free shipping on any order, or an extended return policy. This will make customers less hesitant to purchase from you, and encourage them to place their order right away rather than waiting. Especially for products such as clothing that require a certain size, customers get nervous about not being able to return or exchange a product that their loved one might not be able to use as they intended. Offering these deals can help boost your sales, as well as your customer retention and satisfaction.

Create a marketing campaign: Creating a holiday marketing campaign can help your business stand out during one of the busiest times of the year. While your campaign does not need to be a stressful, all-consuming project, it is helpful to remind customers that you have a great product they might like to share with your loved ones, or peak the interest of someone who might have considered you in the past but held off. The holidays are a great time to try an emotional marketing campaign, as many audiences take that season as a time to reflect on what they are thankful for and how they can help others. Incorporate all of your social media channels for maximum results.

Planning for the holidays now will ensure that you have a well thought out campaign, up to date website, and stress-free holiday season. Although it seems as though summer just ended and the holidays are far off still, you can never be too prepared. Start your holiday planning now to tackle the busy season with ease and confidence.

Sep 14

Creating A Call-To-Action

Posted by BMT Micro

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Creating a Call-To-Action

Getting customers to do what you’d like them to do can be difficult, especially for those just starting out in marketing. They abandon shopping carts, ignore well written blog posts, and choose not to sign up for informative newsletters. If they are already visiting your website, chances are they are interested in your product or service already. So how do you keep them on your site, and convince them to finish what they started? By creating a compelling Call-To-Action (or CTA) you can boost sales and gain subscribers. Here are some do’s and don’ts of creating a CTA, as well as some examples of how to integrate them into your website.

CTA Do’s: CTA’s should be kept short and sweet. For example, if you are selling t-shirts, have a “Shop Now” button in plain view by the product. While you could choose to have your CTA as “Shop” or “Shop Here” or another similar phrase, “Shop Now” gives customers a sense of urgency and encourages them to purchase them item right away, rather than abandoning their cart and potentially forgetting about it. Button color is something else you need to take into consideration. There is no right or wrong color to use, and your button color will vary depending on your company and website colors. A/B testing and color psychology should be used to determine the most effective color for you. Button placement is also an important factor. Your CTA should be easy to find and clear. If customers have to hunt for it, they are more likely to turn to one of your competitors for an easier checkout experience. Take into consideration what step of the buyer’s journey your customer is on, and use your CTA to help them. You want to please your customers, so making their buyer’s journey as easy as possible will ensure a quality repeat customer base.

CTA Don’ts: While you want to use CTA’s to help funnel customers deeper in to their buyer’s journey, you can go overboard with your Call-To-Actions. Don’t plaster them all over your website, rather place them only where they are convenient to your customers. Make sure that they stand out enough that they are eye catching, but also not over the top or obnoxious. Another mistake that is often made is not A/B testing or changing CTA’s over time. Keeping your website updated ensures that you are staying with current trends and meeting customer demands.

Connect CTA: One of the most basic and popular CTA’s is the connect to social CTA. This invites your website visitors to look at and interact with your social media pages. Often, websites feature the logos of their social media accounts with a link to their page. These CTA’s are typically found on the bottom of the page, but also can be placed on the top or side. You can write something such as “Follow Us” above the logos, or simply place them wherever they fit best. This encourages your customers to interact with your social media accounts and makes it easy for them to visit your pages with just a single click.

Post CTA: So you wrote a great post, now what? For customers that follow your blog or interact with you frequently, encourage them to subscribe at the bottom of your posts. Many companies even add an extra incentive by offering a small discount when new customers sign up for their newsletter or blog. In addition, you can offer special sales to those who are subscribed. At the bottom of your blog post or email, tie in a CTA encouraging customers to get in touch with you to learn more about your product or service. If they trust your content, they are likely to trust your product as well.

Review CTA: After a customer orders and receives a product from your store, send them an email asking them to leave a review. Give them the option to leave a review directly from the product page as well by placing a “Leave A Review” CTA on the product page. Letting customers give you feedback encourages them to take action, lets you know what they liked and didn’t like, and allows you to update your products to best fit your customer’s needs. Having reviews on your products also encourages new customers to purchase your products, as they can see what others who are more familiar with your business thought of their purchases.

There are many other types of Call-To-Actions that you can add to your website. It is good to choose more than one and to test them to see how customers are responding to them. While this seems like an easy and basic component, keeping up with your CTA’s can have a great positive impact on your business.

Sep 7

Emotional Marketing

Posted by BMT Micro

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Every day, we feel dozens of emotions. Some good, some bad, all specific to our attitude, circumstances, and social situations. A study done in 2014 says that we are only capable of four basic emotions: happy, sad, afraid, and angry. However, mixing these emotions together creates a “wheel of emotion”, as shown by Robert Plutchik. So what does a wheel of emotion have to do with your marketing efforts, and how can you use emotional marketing to draw in a larger audience?

What is emotional marketing? Emotional marketing typically chooses one core emotion to make the audience notice, share, and buy. By focusing on one core emotion, you are more likely to get a response from your audience. Depending on your audience, you might need to go deeper into a feeling on the wheel of emotion, rather than staying on the surface with a vague core emotion. For example, you might want to excite your audience rather than simply making them feel happy, or spark anger in them rather than annoyance.

What makes emotional marketing work? Like it or not, people cannot help but feel a range of emotions on a daily basis. Think back on past events in your life that have had a big emotional impact on you, good or bad, and chances are you remember those events more than ones that did not provoke emotion. Events such as getting married or a heartbreak are more clear in your mind because of all of the emotion they carry with them. When you add emotion into your marketing and advertising, the same concept carries over.

Emotional marketing helps you make a better first impression to your customers. Picture an advertisement that simply discusses their product, and one that makes you laugh. You are more likely to remember the funny advertisement. This leads customers to tell friends and family about the funny advertisement so they can enjoy it as well, and can even lead to them sharing the ad on social media so that all of their friends can view it. The same goes for advertisements that make you feel emotional, such as Always Like A Girl campaign. Studies have proven that campaigns that are emotional do twice as well as those with only rational content. Customers tend to rely on emotion over information when making decisions.

The core four: While emotional marketing is a powerful tool to help you advertise and make more sales, it can also help you build a brand. The more audiences feel of the four core emotions, they more likely they are to share. When audiences see a video that makes them happy, for example, they are going to want to show people they love so that they can be happy as well. Good news travels faster than bad news, and happiness is contagious. Sadness lets people empathize and connect with one another. This leads audiences to lend a helping hand to whoever is in need. ASPCA is famous for their advertisements featuring sad pictures and videos of animals being rescued with a woeful song playing in the background before asking for donations. Fear (or surprise) make customers cling to what is familiar and helps foster brand loyalty. Using fear can be tricky, as you do not want to actually frighten customers. If used correctly, fear can be used to show that your brand can always be trusted and is consistent in a world of changing and unknown things. Anger can make audiences passionate, and can be a good choice for political issue or tragedy. Similar to happiness, passion and anger can encourage people to share content, therefore you can reach a wider audience organically.

How to use emotional marketing: As with all marketing plans, make sure you know your audience before you start. This will help you decide which emotion you want to use to sway your audience, and allow them to get the most value from your efforts. Make sure that your colors match up with the emotion that you are trying to evoke. Color psychology plays a huge role in market success when done correctly. Use your ad to tell a story and create a movement or call to action. Show your audience people using your product or service, how it has a positive impact on them, and ways that they can also improve their lives or the lives of others by using your company. Keep track of your ROI to see how your audience is reacting, and where you need to make changes.

Adding emotions to advertising can be tricky, but it is a tried and true practice to allow customers a more personal relationship with your brand. Do your research, plan wisely, and listen to your customers to create your most successful advertising campaign yet.