The folks at CPC Strategy just published a cool infographic on Amazon’s amazing growth. Check it out below.
Source: CPC Strategy Blog
The folks at CPC Strategy just published a cool infographic on Amazon’s amazing growth. Check it out below.
Source: CPC Strategy Blog
Jimmy Rodriguez is CTO and co-founder of 3DCart, developer of an e-commerce suite for businesses of all sizes. As an authority on e-commerce best practices, Jimmy combines more than 8 years as an e-commerce developer and web programmer with SEO, social marketing and business intelligence.
One of the biggest obstacles standing in the way of selling more product is shipping, a feared part of the online purchasing process during the holiday season. It’s easy to fall to become disorganized during the busy holiday season, but it won’t reﬂect well on your brand and will turn what could have been loyal customers into one-time shoppers. Luckily if you prepare now and have a system in place you can easily avoid holiday shipping debacles.
1 – Offer a free shipping deal
Make it an exploding offer—or, if you can afford it without cutting heavily into revenues, offer it to all customers throughout the holidays. Shipping costs typically make up 5% or more of the total cost, a significant dent in profits. Still, over 46.5% of small to mid-sized businesses say that offering free shipping increases their profits.
2 - Extend the standard shipping deadline
Inform customers that standard shipping prices will go up on a day before they actually do, then announce an extension to the standard shipping deadline.
3 - Use a shipping aggregator for international sales
Shipping aggregators like Bongo consolidate your international products coming from different warehouses into a single, neat package. Merchants can simply ship to to the aggregators Domestic Facility, and the international shipping experts handle the rest.
4 - Stock up on shipping supplies
If you’re shipping products on your own, make sure you stock up on twice as many shipping resources as your projected sales. Being over-prepared is much better than being under-prepared because you can always use the excess materials for post-holiday shipping.
5 - Give customers the ability to track their purchases
Shipping through popular carriers and linking them to your backend CRM and email autoresponders makes it simple for customers to track their purchases.
6 - Showcase contact information prominently
Online merchants need to go the extra mile to make their customers feel safe and protected. You can put a customer’s mind at ease by displaying your contact information prominently in multiple locations on your site. Also consider listing your phone number and alternative email addresses in your auto-responder emails.
7 - Follow up on shipped orders
Through your order management system, track when shipped items are received and set autoresponders to send follow-up emails with links to feedback resources. Also consider jazzing up your holiday autoresponders with a seasonal images and sayings. It never hurts to spread the holiday cheer!
8 - Include physical promotions in shipped packages
Surprise your customer with a coupon! There’s nothing like the feeling of a coupon in your hand; send physical coupons with every order in hopes of inspiring a return customer. It also makes sure that your customer’s last impression of the purchase is a great one.
The above is an excerpt from 3dcart’s FREE eBook 12 Days of Online Shopping. Download yours today to automatically receive a $75 Google Adwords certificate & $100 Amazon Ad certificate and be entered to win one of 20 $100 Google Adwords certificate!
Image Credit: Drewski2112
This post was written by Helen Fang, marketing manager for Vendio. Vendio offers ecommerce software and helps users in every phase of online selling, from finding the best products to sell online to opening a 100% free web store.
Auctioneers of the modern era are posed with multimedia challenges they’ve never been forced to deal with in the past. A poorly laid-out website or confusing product image can be the difference between making the sale and losing business. In this quick tutorial you’ll learn the basics for writing effective product titles and descriptions, and how to take quality photos of the items you are selling.
Product Titles and Descriptions
The descriptions you put forth of your products play a major role in the bidder’s purchasing decision when they are unable to physically see or touch a product for themselves. If they inquire via email about the product, not only should you be sure to email them back promptly, but you should go above and beyond what is required of you based on their question. If they need clarity on something, do not leave your description lacking. Your extra attention to detail will be remembered by the bidder and, as such, leave open the possibility of spreading good word about your business.
Titles should be as descriptive but short and snappy as possible, leaving nothing desired on the part of the bidder. Additionally, your initial product description should show clarity in shipping and various extra charges – don’t leave anything open-ended. You want your readers to trust you as a professional; your credibility will come along with how well the overall description is written, as well as the quality of the information provided.
No, as an auctioneer you are not required to be a professional photographer or own an elaborate camera (a simple digital camera should do just fine). You are, however, expected to be able to take quality and visually appealing photographs of your products. When taking your pictures, consider what you would look for in a photograph as a consumer. Pictures should not be blurry, should be (ideally) taken in natural lighting and should be taken from a close enough distance so that viewers can assess the intricacies of a product. Do not use the zoom feature if it is not necessary, as it tends to distort or blur the image quality.
When finally uploading the images, make your site’s layout is conducive to your users. Do not upload large image files or small thumbnail images; these will only frustrate users who do not have the Internet connections to quickly open these files or, in the case of a thumbnail, who just want a bigger view of the product. Also, take into consideration what is included in the background of your photo. None of the photos you take should look like they were “home taken” pictures; these should be photos with plain backdrops or specifically setup to a fit a theme.
Following these simple tips can help make sure you’re appealing to your potential online customer base as much as possible.
Photo Credit: Stéfan
Google AdWords has allowed advertisers to show sitelinks since the end of 2009. Back in April Search Engine Roundtable showed examples of ads showing up to 4 sitelinks per ad. I am now seeing some ads with 6 sitelinks. It would seem as if this is somehow connected with Google’s push to expand organic sitelinks in the SERPs.
It seems that the Google help center has recently been updated to state:
If a user search triggers your ad to run with Sitelinks, our system may include up to six of your additional links on your ad, along with the main landing page link. The higher the quality of your ad, the more likely Sitelinks may be able to run on that ad.
How many sitelinks are you seeing?
Alice Delore is an education specialist for SaleHoo.com, an online community of over 95,000 online sellers and retailers. Their product range consists of an online selling course, ecommerce software and their flagship product, a wholesale directory.
Most store owners graduate to owning their own website after learning the basics of selling on giant marketplaces such as eBay and Amazon. There are a host of benefits to owning your own store including having more control over the direction of your store and not having a percentage of your earnings eaten up by marketplace fees.
However, the one major drawback is that when you branch out from a marketplace, you no longer have traffic spoon-fed to your listings, which usually means very slow sales in the early days of owning your store.
It won’t come as news that one of the most effective way to attract buyers is by capturing them in search engines. However, knowing how to go about doing this can be the tricky part.
Here are my top 3 essential search engine optimization tips for new web store owners:
One of the ways that Google and other search engines determine which sites to rank is through the text content on the site. Therefore, it is crucial that your product descriptions contain keywords that your buyers will search for when they search for items you stock.
Try to write descriptions that are at least 250 words long and remember to include the keywords that closely relate to the product, but remember not to stuff your description with too many keywords. Doing so could tell Google that your content is not genuine. It’s also an eye-sore for buyers!
If you aren’t sure which keywords to use, try the Google Keyword Tool. It’s a free tool by Google which allows you to swoop in and identify exactly which keywords your potential buyers are searching for.
For example, if you are selling women’s dresses, you can enter ‘womens dresses’ into the keyword tool and hit search to see a list of related keywords that buyers are searching for.
Your meta description is the text that displays in search results.
Above is a good example of a meta description. This company, Inch Blue, ranks on the first page of Google for the keywords “baby shoes”. Their meta description contains these keywords but, more importantly, it provides information to the person searching which encourages them to click-through and visit the web store.
Therefore, meta descriptions serve two purposes:
a) They help you rank better in search results when you include relevant keywords
b) They give you a chance to lure buyers into the store. Make use of your meta description by stating, as Inch Blue has, what makes your product different from other options.
How to alter your meta description depends on how your store was built or which store builder you use but, if you know HTML code, the meta description appears in the header code of your website.
Google and other search engines love when you update your site with fresh, new content. When you update your content, Google knows that your website is a ‘live’ one, not just a static website that is never updated, which improves your rankings.
There are a number of ways that you can easily update your web content to keep it fresh. One is by simply re-writing your listing descriptions every couple of weeks. You can still say the same things about the products, just freshen up the order of the wording. Adding customer reviews of the products or general feedback is another easy way to add new content. It also encourages customers to purchase because they love hearing positive feedback from other buyers.
Writing blog posts on a regular basis is another way to brighten up your content. Additionally, when you write about the products that you sell, you show off your passion for the products which inspires customers to hit the “Add to Cart” button!
Most products or product lines are relativity easy to blog about. If you sell handbags, you can write about the latest season’s color and style trends or about an outrageously expensive new designer bag that your audience would adore, but never be able to purchase themselves!
If you sell gardening equipment, you can write blog posts about gardening tips or keep a photo blog of the world’s most beautiful gardens.
Your blog posts do not need to be long or sophisticated: Web readers will engage better with a shorter, snappier and more personal blog post than a dry, boring post.
Above all else, aim to give valuable, informative or entertaining content to readers and avoid blasting them with advertisements for your products.
How well does your website rank in the search engines?
Image Credit: Mike Atherton
The Google AdWords Product Listing Ads generally perform very well for most eCommerce retailers. You can read our guide on how to set up Product Listing Ads. Here are some extra tips to help you set up and optimize the campaign correctly.
In your Google Merchant Center feed, you can add the following columns to help with Product Listing Ads.
|adwords_grouping||This field is used to group products. It can be used for Product Filters to limit your AdWords campaign to a specific group of products. This field can be useful if you want to bid differently on different subsets of products. It can only hold one value (i.e. “electronics” or “iphone”).|
|adwords_labels||This field is very similar to adwords_grouping, but it will only only work on the CPC bidding model. It can hold multiple values, allowing a product to be tagged with multiple labels (i.e. “shoes, sneakers”).|
|adwords_publish||This field is used to exclude select offers from Product Ads. If this field is not included or left blank, all product will be included in your product ads. If you want to exclude any items from being displayed you need to fill the column with a value of “true” or “false”.|
|adwords_redirect||You can use this field to set the click URL of the Product Listing Ad. This comes in handy when you standard Merchant shopping feed has all the URLs tagged (i.e. ?utm_source=Google&utm_medium=CSE). By filling out this field with a plain URL with no tracking (i.e. http://www.merchant.com/product.html), your traffic/revenue will only be attributed to one source.|
Once you add these fields to your feed file, you can filter your campaigns by grouping and labels.
You can find more info in the Google Help Center.
Tomorrow is two years since I published the first post on eCommerceCircle. A lot has changed since then… I have since dropped the pseudonym Michael J. Kaye and started using my name, Menachem Ani. During this time I stopped spelling “E-Commerce” with a dash and switched to the easier “eCommerce.”
Over the past couple of years I have added some new sections, such as:
As always, you can view a full list of posts on eCommerceCircle on our sitemap.
eCommerceCircle would be nowhere without people reading it… So thanks to all my readers who brought this site from zero to 10,000 monthly pageviews. Hopefully that number will keep growing…
Thanks for reading and please let me know what eCommerceCircle is to you…
Jimmy Rodriguez is CTO and co-founder of 3DCart, developer of an e-commerce suite for businesses of all sizes. 3dcart just rolled out 3dcart 4.0 and with it we offered all merchants autoresponders free of charge. As an authority on e-commerce best practices, Jimmy combines more than 8 years as an e-commerce developer and web programmer with SEO, social marketing and business intelligence
Customer acquisition efforts are time-consuming. Online merchants spend hours upon hours exploring every possible channel to gain new customers – PPC, content marketing, social ads, banners, affiliate marketing etc. Acquiring new customers isn’t getting easier and as most eCommerce merchants know the process isn’t getting cheaper either.
Basic economics tells us that in order to be profitable, the amount of money spent on acquiring a customer (investment) must be less than the customer’s value (return). If I spend $100 to find a customer, the customer has to purchase $100 at my store just so I break even. The equation is simple, but some merchants feel they only are able to affect the investment as the return is in the hands of the customer. They attempt to lower their customer acquisition cost (CAC) by choosing inexpensive methods like bidding on lower value keywords that have a lower cost per click. More often than not, those methods are also less effective and result in much lower conversion rates – leaving them in the same mathematical dilemma as before.
Don’t be discouraged. CAC investments are well-worth the expense if the lifetime value of the acquired customer is raised or simply put, your return will be greater if the acquired customer purchases from your store multiple times. If I spend $100 to gain a customer and that customer purchases $50 dollars worth of merchandise (an even lower amount than the previous example) and continues to do so every 2 months, I have a 500% return on my investment! When you turn one-time customers into loyal shoppers, your advertising dollars go farther, you increase your campaign ROI and you can double your bottom line with no additional work.
The key to offline sales remains true with online sales: following up with a client is just as important as the initial pitch. In eCommerce following-up with an existing customer, or “back-end selling” is just as important as attracting the customer in the first place. Instead of scrambling to find new customer after new customer, connect with shoppers who you already know want your merchandise & trust your brand – your existing customers.
Following up with existing customers with email marketing frees merchants from the lead generation rat race. According to research conducted by the Direct Marketing Association, email marketing was expected to generate an ROI of $42.08 for every dollar spent on it in 2010. Email marketing allows eCommerce merchants to maximize on their existing community and create a network of loyal shoppers and with auto-responders merchants can can set the efforts on auto-pilot.
An autoresponder campaign is a series of messages programmed to send out automatically based on a predetermined schedule. Unlike traditional newsletters, autoresponder’s send out a finite number of emails as a part of a campaign.
Autoresponders make email marketing as easy as “set and forget.” Think of autoresponders as your personal email secretary. While you focus on growing business (and filling all of your new orders), your autorespond secretary is busy emailing personalized messages to customers, increasing conversions, and gaining loyal shoppers.
When a customer completes their first purchase from your site, welcome the user by expressing appreciation for their business and introducing your company with a sentence or two.
A post-sale message should focus on building trust and establishing a relationship, rather than trying to upsell. When wording your message, be personal & authentic and avoid cliches. Friendly ‘welcome’ messages excite customers & encourage return visits!
A typical autoresponder follow-up campaign sends a customer 2-4 emails over a period of 2-4 weeks post-purchase, but frequency varies depending on your audience’s profile.
Consider offering “welcome back” return discount or suggest products based on the customer’s past orders. The more personal & incentivized the message, the higher the conversion rate!
Set up multiple autoresponder campaigns for specific customer activities. For example, you can create separate message campaigns based on:
Activity-based autoresponders allow eCommerce merchants to create highly targeted messaging. The more specialized the message is to the user, the more effective the email.
Read more about autoresponders on 3dcart’s blog.
Image Credit: larskflem
How do you get more traffic to your eCommerce store? Advertising can be costly… Here is a list of 7 free comparison shopping engines which you should utilize to get free traffic to your store.
Google Shopping is the king of free comparison shopping engines. It sends the most traffic out of all the CSEs listed in the post. You will need to create and account and submit a feed using the Google Merchant Center.
Bing Shopping is the Bing alternative to Google Shopping. Although they have less market-share, free is free. You’ll want to get set up here as well. NOTE: Bing has placed a temporary hold on new merchant signups, keep your eye on this page for updates. When they do allow new merchant signups, use this guide to setup an account within adCenter.
TheFind.com has been growing quite a lot over the past year. Their model allows you to list your product for free. If you add their UpFront badge to your site, you will get better placement. Sign up at TheFind.com Merchant Center.
Oodle is not really a comparison shopping engine, it is more of a classified listing site. However, they allow you to upload your product catalog via FTP with a datafeed, so you may as well submit your products here.
SortPrice has a different model from all other comparison shopping engines. They charge a flat fee for every merchant and you get whatever clicks you get. In addition to this, they offer to list a percentage of your products for free. More info is here.
ShopMania offers a free account with the option to upgrade to their premium packages. The free plan can only be used if you install their “We’re listed on ShopMania” site seal. Sign up and get more info here. ShopMania also offers a free Facebook Store for merchants listed on their program.
GoShopping.com is similar to ShopMania, they offer to list your products for free if you install their badge on your site. You can sign up here.