Oct 13
Reading Time: 2 minutes

Launching a new product can be a critical, nerve-wracking time for a business. A poorly planned launch could lead to fewer sales, unhappy or confused customers, and even negative ROI. On the other hand, a well-planned launch could bring a business more sales, happy customers, and a better bottom line.

According to Hubspot, some businesses launch their products by drafting a press release, crossing their fingers, and hoping that the users will come. But, there’s actually much more that goes into putting together a solid product launch plan than that.

Market Opportunity
Any successful product launch starts with a deep understanding of the target audience and evaluating the opportunity in the market. Ultimately, a product’s success or failure is largely based on whether people will use it. A product will not be successful if your audience wants one thing but you are delivering another. It’s important to ensure your product is solving a real problem (or problems) that your audience is willing to pay you to solve.

Takeaway: Any product launch should be as a result of an audience and market need.

During a product launch, time is going to be your most valuable resource. Start by determining your desired launch date and work backward to set a realistic timeline for everyone involved. Make sure to prioritize specific projects that have the greatest impact on your product launch goals. Your timeline should cover each step you need to take to reach your goals, and set proper expectations for your entire team.

Takeaway: You need to develop a timeline that helps prioritize tasks and goals so you can get the most from your launch.

One of the biggest parts of a product launch is establishing clear goals. The goals you set should help frame the purpose of your launch and guide you in evaluating tactics. Once your goals have been established, make a list of all the possible things you can do to hit each goal. The point of this is to create a list of everything and then narrow it down. You should also consider how your goals will be measured.

Takeaway: Establish clear launch goals to stay on track.

The right positioning shapes the way consumers will evaluate your product and drives their purchase decisions. Your positioning should be developed from a clear understanding of market needs and how your product’s capabilities meet them. Focus on answering the following three questions to build out your positioning: Who is this product for? What does this product do? Why is this product different?

Takeaway: Your positioning needs to communicate what your product actually does and its value.

The best way to determine if a product will be successful is to have a group of beta testers (which can be some of your trusted customers) evaluate your product before you release it to the public. It’s important to listen to their feedback and make necessary updates. This will help you better understand what end users will love, hate, or don’t need.

Takeaway: Testing is a key factor of a product launch and should be replicated many times before your launch date.

Overall, think through your product launch and don’t leave anything to chance on the big day. Successful product launches require real planning and effort to make sure you’re ready for whatever the market may throw at you.

Oct 6
Reading Time: 3 minutes

As an online business owner, one of the most critical things you have to figure out is how you want customers to pay for your product or service. It’s an obvious business necessity. But, the online payment processing landscape can be a bit confusing and expensive.

There are many unique challenges that make it hard for businesses to accept online payments. Fortunately, we’ve identified a few of the biggest ones you’ll likely encounter – and added some tips on how to quickly overcome them.

Acquiring a Merchant Account & Payment Gateway
Two key components that allow businesses to accept online payments are a merchant account and payment gateway. The payment gateway is the first place a transaction goes once a customer submits their payment on a checkout page. But, in order to process transactions using a payment gateway, a merchant account is needed (for more on this: Payment Gateway vs. Merchant Account).

Applying for a merchant account and payment gateway typically involves going through a fairly in-depth credit check and underwriting. Your business may also have to pay other setup fees associated with a merchant account besides the credit card processing and transactional fees.

Tip: To make your life easier, look for a solution that offers a merchant account and payment gateway all in one.

Cross-Border Transactions
Multi-currency, cross-border transactions can create many challenges related to currency exchange, language barriers, payment and technology standards, and conflicting banking infrastructures. When selling online internationally, it’s important that your business is able to support customers’ preferred currencies and payment methods. But, this requires setting up new bank accounts, new business entities, and new regulatory hurdles in each national market. You will also need to be able to adjust quickly for varying exchange rates and adhere to international taxes, tariffs, and fees.

Tip: For many businesses, it is easiest to handle cross-border transactions by outsourcing to a full-service e-commerce solution.

PCI Compliance
Handling online payments requires compliance with legal guidelines. For example, a PCI DSS compliance certification is required by card brands such as Visa, MasterCard, and Discover. The certification needs to be renewed annually and achieve a passing score, which is based on a set of very stringent criteria. If your business electronically stores cardholder information or if your processing systems have any Internet connectivity, a quarterly scan by an approved scanning vendor is also required. Any non-compliance could carry the potential for fines and penalties.

Tip: Look into everything an e-commerce platform offers. For example, our vendors are PCI compliant by default using our secure system and there is no need for them to acquire their own certificate.

With fraudulent transactions at an all-time high, many payment security experts say PCI DSS alone does not offer enough data security for online businesses. Fraudsters are always looking for new vulnerabilities. If your business accepts a fraudulent payment online, you could end up being held financially responsible for the loss. It is no longer an option to have extra protective measures in place. Even the slightest hint of a security breach or cyber attack is going to tarnish your reputation and lose many customers.

Tip: Some e-commerce platforms offer protective services that can save your business the time and the expense to keep fraud to a minimum and your customer’s information safe.

Trying to handle the challenges of online payments on your own can eat up a lot of your money and resources. But, your business does not have to tackle them all alone. There are several e-commerce solutions out there to suit any businesses’ payment processing needs. Make sure to find one that can provide top-notch protection and is flexible enough to meet your specific business needs.

Why BMT Micro? We can help your online business overcome all of these challenges. Our proprietary systems have everything you need to start selling online. Sign-up here for free to explore what our full-service e-commerce platform has to offer. Please note: you can sign up and create an account with no costs or commitment. You are under no obligation when signing up with us. BMT Micro charges a % of the commission for each sale so if you never sell anything, you do not owe anything.

Sep 29
Reading Time: 2 minutes

Over the past several years, businesses have started offering deals online right after Halloween to attract seasonal shoppers and drive more holiday sales. Even with this extended discount period, traditional holiday shopping days like Black Friday and Cyber Monday continue to be strong in sales. But, with the emergence of Gray November, maximizing the time before the holiday shopping craze has become just as critical as the shopping days themselves.

The following tips can help your online business increase sales in the days leading up to Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

Use Your Historical Data and Learn from Last Year
Use the data you have available from your previous holiday shopping seasons. This will help your business understand what you can expect this year based on what happened last year, and the year before that. To improve your predictions for the upcoming season, make sure to compare traffic, revenue, customer behaviors, and spot any trends.

Announce Your Sales Early
You should start piquing the interest of your customers with sneak-peeks of upcoming sales in emails or on social media. Don’t be afraid to start advertising earlier than normal. This is a good way to give your customers something to look forward to and plan ahead for.

Upload a Countdown Widget
Once you have announced your upcoming holiday sales, consider uploading a countdown timer on your website. A countdown widget can be a fun way to motivate customers to take action and let them know when exactly to come back and start saving. We recommend placing it on your homepage or a dedicated sales page so customers will easily see it.

You need to make sure everything is working on your website, especially the checkout process. Check for 404 errors, broken links and make sure your Google Analytics is tracking properly. We also recommend getting some fresh eyes to look over your site in case there are things you are not seeing. Don’t forget to have the proper backups plans in place too (just in case anything goes awry).

Even though Black Friday and Cyber Monday are no longer considered the official start of the holiday shopping season, they are still a big part of it. Regardless of which day is better for sales, you will be in the best position to increase Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales by planning ahead for a longer holiday shopping period.

Here at BMT Micro we also want to see our vendors succeed and get the most out of their holiday season. We have already taken the steps necessary to ensure we are able to maintain our e-commerce services at the highest level. If you would like to more about this, please feel free to contact our vendor services via email at vendors@bmtmicro.com or sign-up for free today.

Sep 22
Reading Time: 2 minutes

Social media can enable an online business to achieve many of their marketing goals. That is when it is used correctly. Your presence on a social network should be purposeful and your social efforts need to be well-thought out. Otherwise, you can end up wasting valuable time on a platform that isn’t going to produce results for your business.

Social media a great way to increase brand recognition and loyalty, improve organic search engine rankings, and even build an engaged customer base. But, this is only true when an online business actually considers social media a strategic marketing tactic and takes it seriously.

Here are 3 best practices to help you get started:

Always Respond to Customer Inquiries
Nearly half of all US consumers use social media platforms to ask questions to a business or report a complaint. Your business can significantly make customers happier just by responding to those who reach out. If you don’t have an answer to a customer’s inquiry, you should at least let them know you are looking into it. You need to be active and interactive to be successful on social media. Always reply to customers even if it’s just a “thank you” or “you’re welcome” or “glad you liked it.” It’s that simple.

Create Valuable and Engaging Content
Your social media efforts should be fueled by valuable and engaging content. It’s also best to create your own. You should consider utilizing the following:

Research shows that content with relevant images gets 94% more views than content without relevant images. Keep in mind, visuals on social media can come in forms other than photos (like infographics, quotes & charts) and still can generate traffic, shares, and links to your website.

Hashtags give your online business an unique opportunity to connect with different audiences and implement new branding strategies. They are a great way to make your posts and tweets as “findable” as possible. But, you need to be careful not to go hashtag overboard. Just like any other marketing technique, there are right and wrong ways to use hashtags.

It’s important to learn what types of content are most popular with your target audience, and utilize those in your social media strategy. Over time, you will be able to identify which content has the highest engagement rates so you can focus your efforts on what brings the best value.

Track Everything and Monitor Analytics
Social tracking allows your business to adjust your efforts as necessary so you can maximize exposure. You need to make monitoring your analytics a habit. Social media and content analytics can help you determine what is actually driving traffic and giving your business the best results. Plus, it helps your business learn more about who your audience is, what they care about, and how to best interact with them.

The proper use of social media entails posting, sharing, liking and commenting, but it also includes tracking and reporting. You need to find out which strategies are good for your type of online business and which are not. These best practices can help ensure your social media efforts are getting your online business more exposure, visitors on your website, and customers.

Sep 15
Reading Time: 2 minutes

Two of the greatest challenges for SaaS businesses are poor user adoption and the lack of perceived value by customers. This is why an essential part of selling a SaaS solution is demonstrating your software’s continued relevance and value to customers. If you aren’t doing this successfully, customers may find it hard to justify the renewal cost.

Every industry has different reasons for customer churn, but in SaaS, it is key to have effective strategies that earn customer loyalty and ensure high renewal rates.

Measure Engagement
If a customer is not actively using your software or realizing measurable value, they will not keep paying for it. Consider tracking login regularity and product usage data to identify customers that are at risk of canceling. Also, make sure to reach out and find out why the customer’s usage level has dropped and what you can do to help them get more out of the product.

Takeaway: The number one churn driver for SaaS is lack of usage. But, if a customer regularly uses the product they signed up for, it is going to be much easier to keep their business.

Improve Popular Features
Over time you are going to find that some features of your SaaS are more important to customers than others. If you can make those popular features even better, you are going to keep your active customers satisfied. Also, improving the quality of those features will make customers more dependent on their particular functionality and less likely to cancel.

Takeaway: You can use analytics to identify the most popular features of your SaaS. Then, focus on improving the ones that are being used on a daily basis by the majority of your customers.

Survey Loyal Customers
One of the greatest resources is your best customers. Look to them for insights on future product improvements or even why they do business with you. After, you can thank time for their time with a special promotion or surprise (i.e. free features, one month free). Doing this will help you tailor your SaaS business to attract more customers that have the same needs and priorities as your most loyal ones.

Takeaway: You need to continue to satisfy your most loyal customers. You also need to ensure you are making your business more attractive to them over time.

Gathering data and customer insight is crucial to SaaS success. But, you also need to be able to use the data effectively and work with customers to ensure they are seeing the value in your solution. With the right strategies, you can maximize renewal rates and confirm your SaaS is living up to its promise.