Jan 11
Reading Time: 3 minutes

 

When trying to better or grow your company, it can be difficult to find a clear starting point. Often, marketers are told to research customers, competitors, and sales, but not given a clear starting path. This can be confusing, frustrating, and lead to a plateau in progress. Choosing and monitoring your Key Performance Indicators, or KPI’s, is a smart way to get started figuring out what is and is not working for your business. KPI’s should be tailored to your company’s goals, although there are some KPI’s that could be considered useful for the majority of ecommerce businesses.

Performance Indicator vs Key Performance Indicator:

A performance indicator is a quantitative measurement to gauge performance goals. Since there are so many different variables you can measure, performance indicators are very broad, and can be a bit overwhelming. Key Performance Indicators are the most important factors you need to measure to help reach your goals. Typically, KPI’s are narrowed down to two or three measurements. KPI’s can grow and change along with your company and goals, but having a smaller number at first allows you to focus and progress more efficiently.

How to choose Key Performance Indicators:

For most companies, KPI’s will fall under one of the following categories: Sales, Marketing, Customer Service, Manufacturing, or Project Management. Choose a category that you would like to track first, and then ask yourself several questions. What is your company’s objective for this KPI? Can it be measured? Which team within your company is best equipped to achieve this objective, and do they have the time and resources to tackle the goal and it’s KPI’s at this time? What metric goal have you set, and is it realistic?

Once you have your goals set, you can start deciding how you want to measure them, and determine your KPI’s. For example, say your goal is to grow your website traffic by 10% in the next 6 months. Some KPI’s you could track would be your website traffic, click rates from advertisements you are running, social shares, and bounce rates. The value of the indicators depends on the goal you have set. The more relevant the KPI is to the goal, the more value it will have in assisting you.

General Key Performance Indicators:

While you should determine your KPI’s off of the goals you have established, there are several KPI’s that are helpful for most ecommerce companies and very likely to fit in with the goals you have set.

If your goals fall under marketing, some KPI’s to consider are tracking your website traffic, your traffic source (are visitors coming from one of your social channels more than others, is your SEO outperforming your social channels, etc), the amount of time your visitors are spending on your website (are visitors finding what they need, or are they leaving your site quickly because they cannot find what they are looking for), social media followers, and email subscribers.

If you want to focus more on sales goals, your KPI’s could track the number of sales you are making, your conversion rate (how many of your site visitors completed your call to action), shopping cart abandonment rate, the average order size, or customer acquisition cost (how much you spend on marketing and recruiting vs revenue).

Your KPI’s are the driving force between you and reaching your goals. They are a great way to get organized, stay on top of your research, and define which areas of your business need to be updated. There is no “one size fits all” for KPI’s, so get together with your team and come up with ways to work together to track your data and accomplish your goals.

Jan 4
Reading Time: 3 minutes

 

The beginning of the new year is an exciting time. Employees return to work refreshed from the holiday break, with new inspiration and eagerness to get started on their personal New Year’s resolutions. A new year is also the perfect time to plan some New Year’s resolutions for your company. Having a team meeting to discuss fresh ideas and what goals you all would like to accomplish is a motivating and productive start to kick off 2019. Here are some ideas of New Year’s resolutions to help you get started.

Refresh your website:

New year, new you. While your website makeover does not be dramatic, take a close look at it and be honest about what changes need to be made. Websites are hard work to maintain and update, and it is common for companies to leave the results longer than they should. Go through each of your pages and decided if it is time for them to change, or if they are still relevant. Changes to your website can be big or small. You might not need a complete overhaul, but rather small updates. Is your Contact Us page still correct? Does your About Us page need some updating? Even if you simply re-write some of the information on these pages, it shows your customers that you have someone dedicated to checking and updating the website. If you are pleased with every aspect of your website, refreshing your layout can still be fun. Modifying your color scheme, fonts, or pictures would be an exciting change for those creating the website, as well as your visitors. If you do decide your website needs a dramatic change, create a month by month plan of how to accomplish your goals. If you anticipate your website being slow or down during the updating process, be sure to give your customers a heads up to avoid frustration.

Create (or update) a Loyalty Program:

Loyalty programs are an excellent retention strategy. Even if you offer small rewards, such as free shipping or 10% off, loyalty programs are an easy way to increase Customer Lifetime Value. Before you launch your loyalty program, do some research on who your customers are, what demographics you would like to target, and what incentives you would like to offer. See what your competitors and others in your industry are doing to get ideas. Creating a custom loyalty program allow you to thank your customers for continuing to do business with you. If you already have a loyalty program, research and analyze to see what customers are responding to, and what you could modify. Try adding a referral bonus program to reach even more customers. Having a referral bonus encourages current customers to share your company with friends that they think would also enjoy your product or service, and encourages the new customer to give you a shot with a discount or bonus. The start of the new year is a perfect time to add or update both a loyalty and referral program, as it will make customers feel appreciated and peak their interest.

Utilize Social Media:

Chances are your company has social media accounts. This year, plan to utilize them more, put out more creative content, and use them to interact with your customers. Brainstorm new ideas to delight your customers, and weigh how they work against your old tried-and-true content. It could be as simple as adding a Motivation Monday on Twitter, or as ambitious as starting a company blog. Do some research to see if the social channels you are using are the ones that your customers use and respond to, and look at ones that you might be missing. Social media is a great opportunity to grab customer’s attention and show off your company’s unique personality. There are a variety of ways you can choose to represent your brand, but make sure it is consistent across all channels. Be smart about your social media use, and it will be an irreplaceable tool in driving engagement.

There is no limit to the amount or size of the resolutions you make. Use the beginning of this year as a fresh start for a prosperous 2019. Does your company have any New Year’s resolutions this year? Let us know in the comments!

Dec 28

The Pros And Cons Of Chat Bots

Posted by BMT Micro

Reading Time: 3 minutes

The Pros and Cons of Chat Bots.png

 

Chances are, if you have been on the internet over the past few years you have had some exposure to Chat Bots. Whether through personal experience or our Introduction to Bots, this trend is taking over customer service channels. When used correctly, Chat Bots can be a wonder asset to your company and customers. While there is no substitute for human interaction, there are pros and cons to integrating Chat Bots.

Pros of Chat Bots:

Chat Bots can be wonderful tools for ecommerce companies. Smaller companies in particular might have trouble keeping their live chat constantly running, especially at times when international customers need help. This is where Chat Bots could come into use. Chat Bots are able to operate for hours without any human supervision. Having a Chat Bot answer customer questions allows you to save time and money. It also allows your customer service representatives to focus on helping your customers in different ways- not just answering the same few questions over and over. While more complex or unusual questions might need to be directed over to a human representative, basic questions are usually answered fairly well by Chat Bots.

Chat Bots allow customer service representatives to multitask. If you only have a small number, or even just one, customer service representative, it can be hard for them to keep up with customer demands. Many customers turn to chat rather than phone calls because it is designed to be more quick and efficient. However, if your representative is overwhelmed with the number of customers trying to get in contact, they are not able to provide their best service and customers will be frustrated in return. By using Chat Bots, customers are more likely to get a quick answer, shorting wait times and improving customer satisfaction. Many Chat Bots can even be programed to form responses imitating humans, so the conversation between customer and bot feels more authentic. And, perhaps the greatest pro, is that Chat Bots do not have any need or purpose outside of helping customers, so they are available 24/7.

Cons of Chat Bots:

No matter how much effort your team puts into creating and scripting a Chat Bot, it is still just a program. While it might be able to recognize and answer many questions, it cannot think outside the box. For quick conversations and common questions, a Chat Bot might be all your customer needs. Humans learn much faster than Chat Bots and can often offer solutions in a more complex way, as they are familiar with the company. Chat Bots also need to be trained for weeks, sometimes even months, before they are useful. While it is a good idea to have someone tracking and analyzing the conversations your customers are having with Chat Bots to improve future conversations, it can be frustrating for customers and discouraging for developers when the Bots do not understand what they are being asked.

Chat Bots are often sensitive, and if they are not programed to recognize spelling errors and typos they will not be able to formulate a response. It is also difficult for them to ask the right questions to guide the conversation. This can cost your customer time while the Chat Bot tries to figure out where to go for answers, and can end up wasting time rather than saving time. For example, say a customer gets online and wants to start a live chat. The Chat Bot greets the customer, asks them how they are doing, and has a “conversation”. The Chat Bot talks to the customer by name, uses please and thank you, and responds quickly. The customer then asks a question that stumps the bot. Instead of getting a helpful answer, the bot will give the closet result they are programed to use. Since the customer does not know that they are talking to a bot, they end up leaving the conversation confused and frustrated.

Chat Bots are helpful and innovative. If you do choose to use them for your company, make sure that they are not a total replacement for live chat. No matter how advanced technology gets, there is no substitute for customers getting the help they need from an actual person.

Dec 21

An Introduction To Bots

Posted by BMT Micro

Reading Time: 3 minutes

 

If you have been keeping up with technology trends over the past few years, you will know that bots are all the rage. Whether or not you want to have bots or chat bots for your ecommerce store, they are a trend worth educating yourself on. Bots, chat bots, and robots are all different. While each of these is worth getting to know in depth if you plan on using them, having a basic understanding of each, as well as the differences, will help you keep up with industry standards.

Robots:

Robots are typically not worth much for ecommerce stores. However, since “bot” sounds like the shortened version of robot, it is important to know the differences. Robots are machines built to resemble a living creature, and are able to perform complex actions such and moving independently, or grasping objects. For online sales and marketing, having a robots assist you will not do you much good.

Chat bots:

Chat bots are something that most people have used before. A chat bot is designed to mimic human interactions to hold a conversation. Chat bots are often used in live chats, especially for basic questions. They are helpful in allowing ecommerce companies to maintain a presence, even when all team members are busy. While having an actual person answer customer service questions is often preferred, chat bots can be a helpful tool to assist customer service representatives. Amazon’s Alexa and Google’s Google Assistant are considered chat bots, and are a great example of how helpful and fun chat bots can be.

Bots:

Bots are possibly the most versatile and useful program of the 3. Miriam-Webster defines bots as “a computer program that performs automatic repetitive tasks”. Bots are an old concept, dating back to the 1950’s. Today, bots are primarily used to analyze content and index webpages. Using bots rather than having a human manually go through all of the web pages allows the process to go much more quickly and efficiently. There are a wide range of bots- both good and bad. Good bots would include copyright bots, that are designed to scan webpages for plagiarized information. Spider bots are a very useful bot, that “crawls” through web pages to help find users the most relevant answer to their search. Bad bots are typically used to skew data, by imitating humans. These bots will click on ads, download information, and create fake accounts in order to leave comments and gain followers.

Why use bots:

Without getting too in depth, using bots helps humanize your brand. While there is no substitute for human interaction, bots help customers find the answers they are looking for much more quickly and efficiently while still having a conversation. Since a bot is just a program, it does not need breaks or time off, and is always available to help customers. If you are thinking about adding bots to help with your company, make sure that you are using language and keywords that are going to be most helpful to your customers. Chat bot language should mimic that of two humans having a conversation with one another, and offer the option of getting in touch with a human representative if the customer is not getting the answer they are searching for.

If you think using a bot is right for your company, make sure that you put in the effort to write quality content for it. Your bot should be used to enhance the customer experience, not to simply free up more of your time. Make sure that your bots are giving you the results you and your customers want to ensure a positive experience for everyone.

Dec 14
Reading Time: 2 minutes

 

Having a “boring” product or service is a major challenge to marketers. Some products, such as clothing, food, or home goods, are naturally easy to photograph and present. Others, such as financial services, necessities, or insurance can be difficult. Just because your product is not exciting on the outside does not mean that your advertising and company need to be boring. Use creativity to your advantage to get customers engaged, no matter what your product is.

Educate your audience:

There is a reason your stand behind your product, and a reason customers keep buying it. Chances are if your company is less exciting, customers are not going to go out of their way to learn all of the products you have. Using a humorous approach is a great way to teach people about all you have to offer, and introduce them to helpful products they might not have found on their own. 3M Canada entertains their audience with humorous commercials educating everyone on all of the products they make, aside from Scotch tape. If your company does want to take a funny approach, focus on inspiring your customers, sharing your backstory, or giving customers a glimpse into your culture.

Use affiliates:

Affliliate marketing is a tried and true way to catch an audience’s attention. If you can afford a celebrity affiliate, take advantage of their voice. Esurance made a Super Bowl commercial in 2014 featuring actor John Krasinski where he discussed how much money Esurance saved by purchasing the first commercial after the game, rather than one during the game. He then went on to explain that Esurance saved 30% by doing that, and they save their customers 30% daily. The use of the Twitter hashtag #EsuranceSave30 was encouraged, and the whole campaign was a huge success. Companies that have smaller budgets can still take advantage of affiliates by using local influencers who are famous in the community. Offering products in exchange for positive reviews and exposure is a deal many smaller influencers are willing to make, and you will still be able to reach a whole new audience. Using local influencers is very common because it has a very high success rate- think of local television, buses, and billboards featuring locals on them. It works well in those advertisements and just as well on social media.

Create a series:

Creating a mini-series can help get your audience excited and invested. A series shows off your creativity and turns a potentially boring product into an exciting one. Blendtec sets a good example by creating a series called, “Will It Blend?” where they feature their blenders attempting to destroy different items such as phones, marbles, and silly putty. Not only did they create an entertaining and inventive way to grab attention, but their videos also show off how well their product works. Dollar Shave Club also made a creative mini-series in addition to their other videos, titled “The Trick To An Amazing Shave”. In only 15 seconds, they show off how easy it is to change your razor blades with their razors in very exaggerated situations.

Just because your product is traditionally thought of as boring does not mean your advertisements have to be. Use these methods as well as your own to show customers that your company has a good sense of humor, passion, and uniqueness that sets you above competitors and surprises your audience.