Anna Smith's Posts (809)

  • Product Information Management (PIM) is a vast subject area. Not only does each industry vertical have its own way of defining a product, within a particular vertical each company may choose to represent their product information differently to satisfy their particular business needs. Having said that, there are indeed standard practices and processes that makes PIM expertise portable across various projects.

    The first step to understanding PIM is to get an appreciation of the diversity around the definition of product. The example below, from the retail industry, provides some insight in to the complex world of PIM. In my subsequent blogs, I will address various nuances of product modeling.

    What is a Product?
    We all love shopping. But have you ever wondered what it takes for your favorite product to reach a store shelf, or what that product means for the retailer? This blog is going to take you through the journey of a diaper bag from supplier to store shelf – let’s see if we can figure out what a product is.

    So let’s start backwards.

    You see the diaper bag on the store shelf – how did it get there? Well, each store has an inventory area at its back and you must have seen store workers periodically replenishing the shelves with products. That’s one way the shelves are filled. The other way is that vendors themselves come over and stock the shelves. This is referred to as direct store delivery, or DSD; one example might be 2-liter Coca Cola bottles. DSD is, however, a discussion for another day. By the way, the product that you see on the store shelf is also referred to as the sellable unit.

    So how does that diaper get to the store’s inventory area? Each store has an inventory management and an ordering system; any time the inventory falls beyond a certain limit, an order is placed with the relevant distribution center for supply replenishment. The ordering lead times are already known, so the ordering takes place in such a way that the store seldom runs out of diapers. Ordering may be manual or automated based off of the inventory levels.

    So how does the diaper get to the distribution center/warehouse? This is a complex piece and is also referred to as “Network Alignment”, where the supply chain managers determine which suppliers are going to supply which distribution centers, and which distribution centers, in turn, are going to service which stores. The network alignment is product specific and is usually based off of geographical locations. The distribution centers have to keep track of their inventory levels as well as their lead times both from the supplier ordering (inbound) and store ordering (outbound) perspective to maintain the service level agreements (SLAs) with the stores. Also, distribution centers have their own stocking unit for each product, which they use to manage inventory.

    It takes months of planning before the product actually hits the store shelves. A lot of systems (e.g. Item Master, Planogram, Labelling and Shelf Tags, Warehouse Management, ERP, Forecasting, Pricing and Promotions, Data Warehouse and Analytics, etc.) have to be set up with item information as part of the new item introduction (NPI) process.

    So then, what is a product? Well simply put, product means different things to different stakeholders -for a warehouse management system product is the stocking unit; for a store product is the sellable unit, for analytics product is diapers irrespective of whether it is being sold as a bag or travel pack. It depends on your perspective.

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  • Take Yourself on the Buyers Journey

    Even though this article was written a few years back, it is still very relevant today. I would like to suggest to agencies and companies to “Staple Yourself to a Lead” to understand how a prospect engages with your company.  What happens when you go to the website, review some of the materials on that website and fill out a form?  Do you get an immediate electronic response?  How long does it take for a sales representative to follow up?  How much does the sales representative know about you and your interests when they do call? This simple process will tell you a lot about how your client/company is perceived from a prospect perspective.  Best to get that experience right because these days there are lots of options for buyers and sales typically does not get engaged until later in the process. Remember, get this process wrong and you may not even get a chance to compete for the business.

    No Lead Left Behind

    Any time a lead is transitioned from marketing to sales, you leave yourself open to losing leads in the hand-off. This is far too common for many marketing organizations. By tracking this process and stapling yourself, you can ensure that there is a good hand-off to sales for “sales ready” leads and an opportunity to “recycle” leads back to marketing that may not be “sales ready.” You can put in place SLAs (Sales Level Agreements) in order to ensure follow-up. Make sure that you are regularly meeting with your sales teams to really stay on top of this process.

    Know the Details at Every Level

    Another lesson to be learned from this exercise is ensuring that management in marketing and sales understand what is happening.  Are different product groups all hitting prospects at the same time, thereby tiring them out?  Each of those product managers may not realize the impact or coordinate their efforts.  At a high level it may look like everything is going smoothly, but you may find once you dig deep into the trenches there are some processes that need to be fixed. Make sure “sales ready” leads are being prioritized by the sales organization for follow up.  Through the use of lead scoring, demographic and behavioral scoring, you can ensure that you are prioritizing the right leads.

    Staple yourself to a lead.  Let me know what you learn.

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  • No matter how big (or small) your online store, you’re always looking to convert visitors. Your conversion rate is essentially the life line of your online business. Ecommerce conversions cover a wide range of activities from purchasing products to subscribing to newsletters. Each of these actions show that visitors are not just interested but want to engage with you.

    Since your success as an ecommerce merchant depends on conversion, I’m helping you by sharing the 5 secrets for better ecommerce conversions.

    1. Mobile Friendly

    Google and Nielsen conducted a study last year to learn more about shoppers and their use of mobile. They found that 93% of people who used mobile to research a product go on to make a purchase. Yes, 93%! To convert these mobile shoppers, your store has to be easily accessible on mobile devices. Every mobile friendly site should:

    •  Have big buttons for easy use
    •  Fit into a smartphone-sized screen
    •  Load quickly with mobile internet speeds

    2. Stunning Images

    They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Make sure yours say, “Shop!” We understand that not all online merchants are photographers by trade. So we’ve come up with simple ways to improve product images:

    •  Use the right image quality – they should not be pixelated nor take too long to load
    •  Allow customers to zoom in to get a better view or to examine a particular detail.
    •  Have consistent backgrounds – Looking for a budget-friendly way? Remove the background.
    •  Learn even more in our article on how to Improve Product Photos for your Online Store.

    3. Powerful Searchability

    Help customers find exactly what they want … or another site will. Having a search bar is a great start but is only helpful if customers know exact names of your product. PrestaShop makes it easy for customers to find what they’re looking for with both front and back office tools.

    •  In the front office, you can allow customers to filter by product attributes such as color, price, or size to help narrow down your product catalog.
    •  From the back office, you can refine common search terms by directing them to words you use. For example, when a customer searches “XS” you can direct them to the results page for “extra small”.

    4. Effortless Shopping

    Make shopping on your site effortless by offering helpful tools throughout your site for a better shopping experience.

    •  Allow side by side product comparisons – Beyond that, PrestaShop creates unique links for product comparison so that your customers can share it with friends to get their input or bookmark it to view it later.
    •  Offering complementary products, commonly known as cross selling. If you’re selling wine, ask if they want glasses for that type of wine. Or if a customer adds an MP3 player to their cart, suggest that they add the matching case or headphones to their order. People forget things all the time, this is a nice way to help them complete their purchases and increase your average cart value!

    5. Incentivize

    Everyone likes to feel like they’re getting a good deal. Attract customers who are on the fence with enticing incentives by:

    •  Offering— The types of ecommerce incentives you offer depends on the types of conversions you’re trying to achieve. Get customers to subscribe to your newsletter by offering free shipping with their first order. Convince visitors to share your site with friends by giving rewards for each additional person they recruit with the link. Finally, get customers to shop by offering them a discount for purchases.
    •  Promoting — After all, if no one knows about the promo, does it really exist? With all types of banners built into PrestaShop 1.6, there are numerous places to highlight your promotions. Try placing it on the banner at the top of the page, within the rich navigation, or even on the homepage slider.

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  • Conventions and Expectations

    When you launch something new, you're almost certainly placing it into a section of the world that already has expectations about how things like this are supposed to work. A university gives diplomas. Restaurant waiters take tips. Software ought to have a 'save as' button.

    It can be far more subtle than that. An emergency room waiting area looks very different from the waiting area at the chiropractor's office, even though both have the same function (waiting). The sound quality and background noise on a personal phone call sounds subtly different from one that's coming from a call center. A well-published book has chapters that start on the right-hand page.

    Challenging conventions is precisely what makes your thing new. Hence unconventional. The difficulty comes when you challenge conventions and defy expectations that you weren't planning on upsetting. The inadvertent skipping of what we expect causes you to frustrate us, or to appear as an uncaring, unprepared amateur, or both.

    Polish comes from domain knowledge, from having an intimate understanding of what people like your customers expect when they encounter something like the thing you just built. Sure, violate those expectations when they serve your needs. The rest of the time, though, it's smart to play along.

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  • Lead management is the ability to capture, respond, and manage incoming leads. When spending so much time and money on creating the perfect campaign, you want to make sure you have numerous best practices in place to manage your leads throughout the entire lifecycle. Unfortunately, many marketers don’t employ clearly defined lead management practices. And when you don’t have processes in place, you risk decreased ROI, a leaky sales funnel, and poor relationships with leads and customers.

    But done right, lead management creates more educated buyers, helps you better understand their needs, and ultimately means more revenue. So how do you do it? Take a look at these 5 tips for best practices in lead management that you probably aren’t using.

    1.  Work directly with sales to determine when a lead is “sales ready”.

    In order to properly create a solid lead scoring framework, work with your sales team to build criteria that determines the steps prospects should take before they are ready for a sales call. Remember, that this needs to be agreed upon by both sales and marketing to be effective. Criteria should include:

    • Demographic Information: Geographic location, company size, etc
    • Lead Source Information: PPC Search ad, social, offer, etc
    • Behavioral Information: Web page visits, ebook download, webinar attendance, etc

    2. Make sure to implement lead recycling practices.

    Even though you have worked with sales to determine when a lead is ready to be contacted, there will be instances where sales has concluded that certain leads are not quite ready to engage, or sales has not followed up with these leads. To avoid these leads falling into a black hole, you can implement lead recycling practices to make sure that you have a followup plan in place. You should create a process based on two scenarios; leads will be automatically recycled based on a set of business rules, and leads will be manually recycled by sales if they are not deemed ready. Once they get sent back to marketing you can base sales re-engagement on a business rule, such a lead scoring change, or sales can use its knowledge of the leads’ buying interests to indicate a time-frame in which the lead should be re-engaged.

    3. Score leads using implicit behavioral data.

    Since your prospect is in control of the buying process, you need to make sure you are monitoring their online activities to know when they are ready to move to the next stage. Lead scoring determines where your buyer is in your funnel. Lead scoring should consider the prospect’s interest level defined by their actions. For example, track email clicks, ebook downloads, web page visits etc, and update scores accordingly. Also, be sure to score assets differently depending on where in the funnel they are. You might score a pricing sheet much higher than an entry level ebook.

    4.  Track anonymous visitors and tie their data to new leads.

    Simple code on your web pages help you track prospects, both anonymous and known. This helps tell you who is interested in your products. As anonymous prospects complete forms on your website or landing pages, any previous website visits can be automatically attributed to the new lead. This is important to determine sales readiness of new leads, since you know the entire history of the relationship with the prospect–including which campaign helped them find you in the first place.

    5. Progressively understand your prospect’s needs.

    Just like dating, as you build a relationship with your prospects, you should be learning more about their needs. Remember, every campaign that a prospect responds to tells you about his or her interests. Every link they click, and every piece of of information they fill out on a form tells you more about them. And you can really be clever with your forms. Don’t ask your prospects to enter information you already know. Use progressive profiling and use the opportunity to find out something new. You can also use this information to target what sort of content may appeal to them in an email or lead nurturing campaign.

    What other lead management techniques do you use for success? We would love to hear about it!

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  • The Art of Effective Sales and ROI

    The art of effective cross-selling (offering related items) and up-selling (suggesting more expensive alternatives) on your product pages can make a significant difference in the overall sales volume and conversion ratio of your ecommerce website.

    Effective Cross-selling and Up-selling can Increase:

    • Average order totals
    • Conversion rates
    • Exposure to higher margin items and best sellers
    • Awareness of the depth of your offerings
    • Overall customer satisfaction by helping to find the product or service offering that best meets your visitor’s needs

    Cross-Selling Dos

    • Only feature highly relevant items such as accessories directly related to the product offered or as an alternative of the product
    • Use personal words such as “you”, opposed to “we”. For example, “You Might Also Like”, not “May We Also Suggest”
    • Choose items that sell well and have higher margins whenever possible
    • Keep you cross-sells down to three suggestions. This seems to be the magic number to create interest while not overwhelming or distracting your customer from making a choice
    • Whenever possible, show the most obvious choices someone would want to go along with their purchase such as a matching necklace to go along with diamond earrings
    • Continually test your cross-selling tactics and work at improving them for maximum effectiveness
    • Look through your order history to find proven cross-sell items. For example, previous customers often bought product “A” when they bought product “B”

     Cross-Selling Don’ts

    • Never, ever, show items that are not “directly” related to the main product
    • Don’t show items that are out of stock unless backorders are available – Note: During the holiday shopping season, try not to cross-sell anything that isn’t readily available
    • Don’t use cross-selling to simply try unloading unwanted inventory. The goal is to maximize your overall sales totals and conversion rates. Unwanted inventory can have its own area on your site such as a Clearance or Specials section
    • Don’t try cross-selling big-ticket items. As a general rule the incremental cross-sell/up-sell should be 10-25% of the price of the original item on the product page

    What Do You Think?

    Everyone seems to have their own ideas about what cross-selling strategies work best for their ecommerce business. What do you think about cross-selling as an online marketer or customer? Have you had success increasing sales or buying products due to cross-selling? Leave a comment and share your thoughts!

    ARTICLE SOURCE: This factual content has not been modified from the source. This content is syndicated news that can be used for your research, and we hope that it can help your productivity. This content is strictly for educational purposes and is not made for any kind of commercial purposes of this blog.
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  • B2B companies are spending more to improve their customer experiences, but new research shows they could be wasting up to half of their investments.

    According to an Accenture study, the overwhelming majority of business-to-business (B2B) organizations are spending more on initiatives to improve their respective customer experiences, but many are not getting the most return on those investments.

    Accenture’s study, which was based on a survey of 1,458 sales, service, and customer executives of B2B companies in 13 countries, suggests most (76%) might be wasting up to half of their investments on ineffective customer experience initiatives.

    Accenture’s research reveals that executives believe their business customers increasingly are exhibiting consumer-like behaviour in terms of how they view, interact with, and buy from their suppliers; including their knowledge of the market, higher expectations, and greater price sensitivity.

    As a result, 43% of B2B supplier executives say they intend to increase spending on improving customer experience programs by 6% or more during the next fiscal year. But more than half the respondents indicated that their customer experience programs had achieved little, flat, or negative return in terms of retaining customers (55%) and building global revenues (52%).

    The study, “B2B Customer Experience: Start Playing to Win and Stop Playing Not to Lose,” explores the significance, scale, and success of B2B companies’ initiatives to provide their business customers with a positive customer experience across all sales, marketing, and service touch points.

    What’s more, 85% of B2B supplier executives consider the overall customer experience they provide in sales and service to be ‘very important’ to their strategic priorities, and 70% recognize that, over the next two years, customer experience-related considerations will play an even larger role in their overall respective corporate strategies.

    “The relationship between company and supplier has changed,” Robert Wollan, global managing director of Accenture’s Sales and Customer Services practice, said in a release. “Business customers are acting more like consumers. They know more about the services on offer, expect more customized solutions, and are more price-sensitive. Companies say they recognize this, but the majority are not designing and executing the necessary changes effectively. This creates a drain on profitability and missed opportunities. Getting B2B customer experience right increasingly determines market success, but too many companies are ‘playing not to lose’ rather than ‘playing to win’.”

    Accenture’s study divided B2B companies into three broad segments, according to their ability to plan and execute customer experience programs that deliver annual revenue growth:

    ·      Masters: This group prioritizes customer experience and excels at both defining and executing a customer service strategy, which helps them generate an average 13% annual revenue growth. Only about a quarter of the companies represented by the survey (24%) would qualify as Masters, according to Accenture’s analysis.

    ·      Strivers: Characterized by moderate customer experience performance, across either strategy, execution or both dimensions, Strivers are represented by nearly half (48%) the companies represented by the survey. According to Accenture, the results achieved by these companies in customer experience help to deliver an average of 6% annual revenue growth.

    ·      Laggards: According to Accenture, companies in this group, which represents 28% of the survey sample, produce a negative average annual revenue growth figure of -1%, partly due to large performance gaps in their customer experience strategy and execution capabilities.

    The study found that Masters are more aggressively investing time and money in improving their customers’ experiences than Laggards, and outperforming Laggards in several ways:

    ·      More than nine out of 10 Masters companies (92%) have embedded customer experience delivery as a formal end-to-end business process that connects how customers interact and engage across sales, marketing, and service functions, compared to just under half (46%) of Laggards.

    ·      Masters are more likely to make the customer experience a central element of their strategy and day-to-day operations. What’s more, 91% of Masters link performance reviews, compensation and bonuses to customer experience outcomes for their sales and service workforces, compared to less than half (42%) of Laggards.

    ·      Masters are also more likely to place responsibility for delivery of the       customer experience in a centralized function that directly manages several other functions (64% vs. 36%).

    ·      Executives in the companies categorized as Masters were nearly four times more likely than Laggards to say that they will increase their customer experience budget by more than 6% in the next fiscal year (78% vs. 20%).

    “The performance gap between the Masters and Laggards is more dramatic than you would expect, given both groups cite customer service as a strategic priority,” Wollan added. “Most are not willing to ‘walk the talk’ and make major changes. One place to get back on track is giving customer experience leaders control over, or close proximity to, the P&L; as well as fostering true collaboration across internal and external sales, marketing and service stakeholders, and external partners. Our analysis indicates that proximity to the P&L is one of the predictors of customer experience performance.”

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  • A solid lead scoring approach not only helps to rank prospects against one another, but can smooth the lead  flow and serve as the baseline for building a range of business rules that include ownership, role and activities. ” – SiriusDecisions, What’s the Score

    There are different kinds of things you can track with scoring:

    • Fit: Fit score is based on the demographic and firmographic attributes that tell you how well the prospect compares against your ideal buyer profile – things like job title or role, industry, and company size.  In other words, how attractive is this potential lead to me?
    • Interest: Interest score is based on the prospect’s engagement with your campaigns and content. This can include things like reading the blog, attending webinars, downloading papers, and even social behaviors such as sharing your content on their networks. Interest score tells you how attractive you are to the potential customer.

    Anyone who has ever gone on a date can tell you that you need both fit and interest to have a relationship – you need to be interested in them and they need to be interested in you.

    The ROI of Behavioral Lead Scoring

    So it makes logical sense to track fit and interest.  But does this actually drive more revenue?  It turns out that data from the Marketo Benchmark on Revenue Performance can help answer that.  Here’s what it shows:


    I find this result amazing.  Companies that are using Fit-only lead scoring are seeing essentially no improvement from lead scoring.  But companies that use Fit and Interest see 12% points higher revenue growth and a whopping 17% more sales time spent selling [TWEET THIS].

    Timing Is Everything – Buying Intent

    But it turns out that even Fit + Interest is not enough! You could be interested in someone, and they could be interested in you… but they could be married.  So ideally you will track additional factors that will indicate timing. This will help you know whether someone is an early-stage prospect that is just looking to be educated or entertained – or an active lead that is considering a purchase of your product or solution.

    This can take the form of BANT criteria (budget, accountability, need, and timing) that you get explicitly by asking the prospect. Or it can take the form of implicit factors that you track.  For example, at Marketo we’ve found that there are some behaviors that are highly correlated with prospects moving into a buying cycle with us.  These include:

    • Visiting our detailed pricing pages.
    • Registering to watch our detailed demos.
    • Downloading mid- and late-stage content such as How to Select a Marketing Automation Company
    • Using “Marketo” as a keyword in a Google search.  (You see the same thing in consumer products.  Using a generic word such as digital camera or marketing automation suggests early-stage research; using a keyword like Canon EOS 6D or Marketo suggests someone is closer to buying.)

    By scoring identifying “active buying behaviors”, we are able to be more relevant when we follow-up with a lead.  If someone has a high score but low buying intent, we know we need to be more educational; but if someone has high buying intent, we know we need to “Act Now” since they are more likely to be interested in a fast-track to talking with sales.

    Get Started Fast

    One of my most frequent pieces of advice regarding any marketing automation or lead management implementation is to “Think Big, Start Small and Move Quickly”.   The idea is that getting some fast wins on the board, and then evolving in an agile fashion towards the full vision, is almost always going to drive better results than trying to build everything at once.

    So the next question is, “where should I start”?  Where are the quick wins? This will vary by business, of course, but I’ve often seen that the biggest bang for the effort comes from implementing some of the basic behavioral lead scoring ideas discussed in this post.

    At the simplest level, this means letting the sales team have insight into who is opening emails, visiting the website, and responding to campaigns. Even that basic insight helps sales representatives focus their time and energy on the customers that are actually engaged and want to talk to them. I’ve seen time and again that this quick win not only improves sales productivity and revenue, but it also is a great way to build sales and marketing alignment and to get the sales team on board with your marketing automation investment.

    ARTICLE SOURCE: This factual content has not been modified from the source. This content is syndicated news that can be used for your research, and we hope that it can help your productivity. This content is strictly for educational purposes and is not made for any kind of commercial purposes of this blog.
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  • For most online merchants, product descriptions may seem like a no brainer, an obvious necessity to selling online. However, too many merchants are missing out on sales and traffic as a result of poor quality product descriptions or even worse – copying the manufacturer’s generic content.

    The good news, well-written product descriptions can give you the competitive advantage, helping you rank higher on search engines and increasing your bottom line. Draw in customers and sell more online with these must-read 8 tips for your product descriptions.

    1) Wear your Customer’s Shoes

    Figuratively speaking, that is. No matter what you’re selling online, you should have a very good understanding of your target customer. Reflect that in your voice, language, and style. I strongly recommend creating an online persona, an imaginary customer, who absolutely loves to buy your products.

    This Forbes article “Online Personas: The Key to Converting Customers” will help you fully understand your target audience. As a result, you’ll write unique product descriptions that effectively converts visitors into paying customers.

    2) Persuade with Benefits

    Now that you are familiar with your online personas, you know which benefits will sway your customers to make a purchase. Highlight benefits by addressing questions such as: How is your product better than the competitor? How can your product solve a problem for your customer?
    Check out how this PrestaShop store, Gretel Home, presents the benefits of their Diamond Box to appeal to customers.

    In just 3 sentences, Gretel Home was able to point out 6 different benefits: multiple functionality, safe, seamless, perfect gift, inexpensive, and small. They also used sensory words to touch the soft spots of their customers – hold that thought, we’ll talk more about sensory words in just a bit.

    3) Tell Stories

    Tap into your customers’ imagination. Transport them to a place and time where they see themselves using your product. Start a story and let customers fill in the details wherever they can relate. For some inspiration, look at how this PrestaShop store, Planete Chocolat, tells a story that stars their Box of Easter Chocolates.

    Planete Chocolat created a product description that puts the product in the customer’s life. By using just the right amount of details they planted the seed of a story. They then let customers fill in the details of a perfect Easter morning.

    4) Stimulate Your Customer’s Senses

    Let your customers feel. Do this by using sensory words that appeal to any of our five senses. Easily appeal to auditory senses with onomatopoeias, words that imitate the sound it makes. Some examples? Clocks tick, cell phones buzz, jewelry jangles and steaks sizzle. Each item you read made a sound you can hear.

    As you stimulate each sense, you bring another dimension of your product to life. Want to feel the Nourishing Body Milk on your skin? Read the product description from this PrestaShop ecommerce site, Tahitian Secrets:

    Most people know what velvety, silky, and smooth textures feel like. These descriptions allow customers to literally feel the product through their screen.

    5) Details, Details, Details.

    What are the FAQ’s for your product? Product descriptions should answer all the basic questions a customers would ask. Start by answering a relevant question from each of these 5 categories:

    Who – Who needs it? Who is it made for? Who made it?
    What – What is the product? What features does it have? What is it for?
    Where – Where is it made? Where should it be used?
    Why – Why do customers need it? Why it is better? Why purchase it?
    When – When was it made? When should they replace it?

    Answer as many as possible while staying relevant. (By addressing commonly asked questions in product descriptions, you also save time on customer service.) See how this PrestaShop store, WhatGoesAroundNYC describes their Vintage Chanel Bag:

    As a Vintage Luxury goods retailers, it is especially important to include the product’s condition. By listing the condition of each part, it shows that the product has been carefully inspected which increases trust – making a customer more likely to make the purchase.

    6) Use Original, Keyword Rich Content

    SEO is all the rage! With most customers using search to find products, it is important to rank high in these search results. Increase your page rank by using keywords to improve your SEO. First step? Do away with generic manufacturer descriptions. With so many online merchants already using them, duplicating them on your site hurts your SEO.

    Instead, view manufacturer descriptions as inspiration for your original content. But before you start writing, find relevant keywords for your product. Google Adwords’s Keyword Planner is a great way to start. You can also check out alternatives suggested by Social Media Today such as Keyword Eye. Here’s their suggested top 10 keywords for “sunglasses”:

    As you write descriptions, pick a few relevant keywords to include. Each original, keyword rich product description you write will help to increase your SEO.

    7) Be Easy on the Eyes

    It’s easy to get carried away with writing product descriptions. There are so many details you can include. Make sure your product descriptions are displayed in a format that is easy to read. Break up large paragraphs with bullet points. This allows customers to quickly scan through and find what they need. If you have lots to say, create both a short and long description. Check out how this PrestaShop bike store, BTWIN extensively details a product in a reader-friendly format.

    8) Let Customers Review

    Want free and original descriptions for your products? Look no further than product reviews. Content written by other shoppers seem more trustworthy because lying does not benefit them. Customer reviews can also provide information from a user’s perspective, addressing questions online merchants often forget.
    See how these customer reviews help JustFab FR, another PrestaShop merchant, with describing their product.

    By addressing concerns about height and comfort, the customer reviews add helpful information for customers. Their praise for the product also helps to convert shoppers. The unique content in customer reviews helps with SEO!

    ARTICLE SOURCE: This factual content has not been modified from the source. This content is syndicated news that can be used for your research, and we hope that it can help your productivity. This content is strictly for educational purposes and is not made for any kind of commercial purposes of this blog.
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  • People use the internet for three primary purposes, which are research, shopping, and entertainment. Targeting all three of these search intents (in a manner that fits with your brand) can significantly increase your website traffic and sales. As a rule, the more interesting, useful, and relevant your site and related content are, the more likely visitors will share it with others.

    Here are three easy viral marketing ideas for you to consider:

    1. Create an interesting or fun community around the topic of your business. Keep in mind that this does not have to be done on your website. Such communities can be created with social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, or even a blog.
    2. Provide content rich research information on your site. Think in terms of info such as how-to information or terms and definition glossaries related to your offerings. These types of information are frequently shared with others online and can help create more valuable traffic and links to your site.
    3. Give people something fun to do online. Think in terms of what makes sense for your business. Fun things can be as simple as photo galleries related to events your company participates on your website, to sharing photos on Pinterest of your products and company activities. Both of these are pretty easy to set up and can create more opportunities for people to share you with others.

    The ideas above may take a little time to implement. However, they are well worth it considering that they can drive more qualified traffic to your site, encourage people to tell others about you, and help you gain valuable links to  increase your search engine rankings.

    ARTICLE SOURCE: This factual content has not been modified from the source. This content is syndicated news that can be used for your research, and we hope that it can help your productivity. This content is strictly for educational purposes and is not made for any kind of commercial purposes of this blog.

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  • What Sales People Find Most Difficult About Sales

    Sales isn’t easy. It if were, trust me, everyone would be doing it. It amazes me how so many non sales people in an organization think sales is some sort of lottery ticket, where sales people sit around making mounds of money they didn’t deserve. BTW: I always welcome those people to put 1/2 their salary on the line and join the ranks of sales.  Surprising, not many folks take me up on that offer.

    Hmm? I just don’t get it.

    For those of us in the know, sales is hard. It takes grit, and determination. It takes an amazing aptitude for solving problems. It requires out of the box creativity. Selling is no joke and it’s hard.

    With that said, what makes selling difficult or hard varies from sales person to sales person. So, I’m curious. What’s the hardest part of selling or sales to you?

    Let’s see if we can get a good conversation going in the comments and find out what it is that sales people find most difficult about sales.

    ARTICLE SOURCE: This factual content has not been modified from the source. This content is syndicated news that can be used for your research, and we hope that it can help your productivity. This content is strictly for educational purposes and is not made for any kind of commercial purposes of this blog.
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  • Traffic was never an issue for you until one day “BAM!”, your site traffic drops. Your once bustling online store is quieter than a ghost town. Potential customers have suddenly disappeared and you’re left with an online store with no customers. Where did your traffic go? How do you get your customers back? Today we’re sharing 7 strategies to implement when your website traffic drops.

    If you already use Google Analytics, you have access to demographics of your visitors. If you do not already have Google Analytics, set it up today. It provides statistics like percentage of returning vs new visitors, bounce rate and referrals source which will help you decide which strategies to implement.

    1) Improve Your SEO

    If majority of your traffic originated from organic searches, Google’s new search algorithm may be penalizing your site for making one or more of these SEO mistakes. After addressing one … or many of these issues, submit a reconsideration request. You can also submit your updated URL to other site engines like Bing and Dmoz to increase traffic. Prepare for Google to re-index your site by updating your Meta descriptions. They should not only describe your online store but be enticing enough to draw customers in. Next, generate a new site map, which outlines the layout of your website (from the PrestaShop Back Office, Google Sitemap Module, Configure, Generate Sitemap.)

    2) Drive Traffic with Social Media

    Your online store should have at least one social media account, preferably the one your target customers engage with the most. Not sure which is best? Check out these demographics of social media users put together by PewResearch. After setting up an account, your first order of business it to complete your profile. Your profile should include an appropriate and relevant profile picture as well as a link back to your store. Check out PrestaShop’s Twitter Account for an example! Be sure to contribute relevant information on a regular basis and occasionally promote your products.

    3) Leverage Content Marketing

    Have you set up a blog for your online store? Get started by reading our previous blog post about content marketing for ecommerce. The important takeaway? Content marketing is a strategy that takes time and dedication. To successfully run and maintain a blog, you must write good and relevant content. Here’s a look at how content marketing drives traffic:

    Already using content marketing? Here are 3 tasks to take on today.

    1. Set up Google+ Authorship (to have an author image appear next to your article)
    2. Incorporate color, images and headers tags (such as <h1> )
    3. Use relevant keywords
      • Here’s sample text for an online store selling pens:
        1. Bad: I enjoy selling products online *no keywords used
        2. Very Bad: I enjoy selling pen, pens, cheap pens, blue pens, and personalized pens online. *keyword stuffing
        3. Good: I enjoy selling pens online *specifying with relevant keywords

    4) Reach Out to Customers

    Email customers to get feedback about your site and suggestions for improvements. Try questions like:

    • “What are your first impressions of our website?”
    • “On a scale from 1-10, how would you rate your experience?”
    • “How can we improve our online store?”

    For more examples check out SurveyMonkey’s Customer Satisfaction Surveys. Respect your customer’s time by keeping response times to 5 minutes. Focus your attention on Problems and issues that are often repeated. Also, give customers an incentive to provide feedback by offering an online gift certificate. By doing so, you also drive traffic to your online store.

    5) Share Your Knowledge

    What are you a self-proclaimed expert at? What need does your online store fulfill? Think of questions potential customers may ask. Then find those customers on forums and answer their questions and suggest an appropriate product.

    ARTICLE SOURCE: This factual content has not been modified from the source. This content is syndicated news that can be used for your research, and we hope that it can help your productivity. This content is strictly for educational purposes and is not made for any kind of commercial purposes of this blog.
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  • An answer to that simple question is the key to your success in sales, business, relationships and . . .  shit let’s just say life in general.

    Do you remember who King Midas was?

    King Midas was the cat who wished that everything he touched turned to gold. His wish was  granted by Dionysus the goddess of partying, wine and getting busy (ecstasy) for returning her beloved school master to her.

    Upon his request, everything King Midas touched turned to gold. The story has a less than stellar ending, as he turns his daughter into gold, but for the purposes of our metaphor, this is a great story.

    When you think about your impact in an organization, do you think about it in terms of gold (the value you bring to the environments you work in)? You should.

    What impact do you have on the people and organizations you touch?

    What changes do organizations experience because of your presence?

    What goals are reached because your are there?

    What is improved because of you?

    How is the organization different?

    What value do you bring to organizations?

    What do organizations get that they didn’t because or your presence?

    Do you know?

    Having a King Midas Effect is the key to a successful career. You must turn something to gold.

    The key to the King Midas Effect is to know it, build it, and promote it. You have to know what your value is to an organization when your present vs when you are not. You have to know how your presence influences organizations. Once you do, you have to build on it. You have to grow it and develop it to perfection. Your Midas touch will not last forever if not tendered to. Once you know what it is and you’ve built it, then promote the shit out of it. Start touching stuff. Show the world what it is you turn to gold. Create demand for yourself and if you can’t, you might want to revisit your touch.

    The King Midas effect is knowing the value you bring as a sales person, (insert any other role here) to your employers, your customers, your peers and to your market. It’s understanding the value of your work, the effort and the impact it makes. Everyone wants their version of gold, its your job to give it to them.

    Are you the King Midas of your industry? What is your golden touch, what do you turn to gold? Can you answer that question right now?

    You better!

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  • 5 Steps to Writing Product Descriptions that Sell

    When a potential customer visits a product page of your website, the page must act as a salesperson that is prepared to convert your site visitors from just looking to buying. Just like a salesperson’s presentation in a retail store, your product page must clearly answer the most important questions a customer would want to know before deciding to purchase your product. The following 5 steps will help you write product descriptions that will increase both visitor satisfaction with your site and conversion rates.

    1. Determine your audience and make sure you are speaking directly to them. For example, if your site sells home décor products that are popular with adults between the ages of 40 and 60, you would want to use a different writing style than you would if your site sold skateboards to a primarily teenage boy audience.
    2. Write in terms of features, advantages, and benefits. Surprisingly most eCommerce websites don’t do this, which can quickly put you ahead of your competition if you do. Remember, your customers want to know why they should buy the product from you and not a competing website. So make sure you tell your visitors what they want to know and what’s in it for them.
    3. Keep your product descriptions clear and easy to understand. Avoid industry jargon unless it is relevant and important for your customers to use in making a decision to purchase the product. You want to make sure you are informative, but at the same time not confusing or boring your site visitors in the process. When in doubt, keep it simple and straightforward.
    4. Do not copy and paste product descriptions provided by manufacturers. It is common for most eCommerce sites to sell products that are made by manufacturers that also sell to competing online retailers. Even though it is tempting to simply copy and paste the product descriptions provided by manufacturers – don’t do this. In order for your product descriptions to be effective, you need to rewrite manufacturer descriptions to ensure they contain all of the information you think they should and reflect the unique voice of your site. This can also benefit your search engine rankings due to having unique content in comparison with your competitors who simply copy and paste the same exact boilerplate product descriptions provided by their manufacturers.
    5. Include a strong call-to-action. Just like professional salespeople, great product descriptions always ask for the sale. Make sure your calls-to-action are clear, enticing, and tell your customers what action to take.

    If the above steps sound like too much work, think again… Well written product descriptions can increase online conversion rates by 100% or more. After all, if you visit a website and their product information doesn’t answer your questions you will click your mouse and look somewhere else – and so will your visitors. Make sure you’re not giving your visitors a reason to go to another site for information due to your product descriptions not answering their questions and asking for the order with strong calls-to-action.

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  • Think about your favorite companies and brands for a moment. Starting to feel that warm and fuzzy feeling? That’s because the most successful businesses work hard to create a personal connection with their customers that makes us feel special and keeps us returning for repeat business. But with all the demands of running a business, how do you find the time to make each customer feel that they matter? To help make that connection, we’ve highlighted a few simple ways to show you how to add a personal touch to your business.

    1. Interact with Your Customers

    Listen to your customers’ comments on s outlets, including Twitter and Facebook, and respond to their questions and concerns on a one-on-one basis. While this does involve a time commitment, this personalized interaction goes a long way towards developing customer loyalty. When a customer feels that their input matters, they’ll stick by your business and tell their friends on social media as well.

    2. Offer Exclusive Discounts and Promotions

    Everyone likes to feel like they’re getting a special deal. Use coupons to offer exclusive discounts to repeat customers to encourage them to keep coming back. Inviting customers to mention your business on social media in exchange for special offers is also a great way to make them feel connected and to promote your business further.

    3. Know Your Audience

    Familiarize yourself with your target audience so that you can promote products that are most relevant to them. This may involve hosting more than one website or offering select inventory to specific customers via an email campaign. Tracking customer order histories and other data is also useful so you can personally follow up with customers with thank you notes and future special offers.

    Adding a personal touch to your business, no matter how big or small, is critical to maintaining long-lasting customer relationships and repeat business. Make your customers feel that they are your number one priority and they will reward you with loyalty and by helping to spread the word about your business to others.

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  • I call bull shit. People buy solutions, fixes and opportunities. People buy change, change that makes their world a better place. They don’t buy the people selling.

    But . . .

    With that said, people won’t buy  from you if you’re an asshole, dishonest, inconsiderate, unprepared, unknowledgeable, selfish, curt, combative, demeaning, unhelpful, distant, self-absorbed, mean, egotistical, unfocused, shallow, or shortsighted.

    You can’t tell people you’re not selfish, they’ll just have to see it. You can’t tell people you’re knowledgable. They’ll just have get it. You can’t tell people your nice, they will just have to feel it. You can’t tell people your helpful, they’ll just have to experience it. You can’t tell people who you are, you just have to show them and that happens in every action we take.

    Selling “YOU” has never been more important. But unlike selling a product or service it’s not what you say that matters, it’s what you do.

    People buy solutions, they buy change that makes their world a better place. They don’t buy you. You don’t have to be liked to sell.

    But . . .

    I promise they won’t buy the change they want from YOU if you’re an asshole.

    Start selling “you” in every interaction you have and see what happens.

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  • You’re just about ready to launch your online store – you have your products and website ready to go – so what could you possibly be missing? We asked online merchants what ideas and concepts they didn’t understand until after they opened their online store and we got some interesting responses.

    They say hindsight is 20/20 vision, so let’s learn from the experiences of successful online retailers who share: the 10 things I wish I knew before opening an ecommerce site.

    1) ”Business plans are not just for business students.”

    Have a well thought out business plan. Sounds cliché but true. It’s easy to think that your online business will just play out but a detailed business plan is your ticket to success. It should cover everything you need to plan, strategize and launch your online store. A business plan will also make you ask yourself questions that you may not have thought of before. Plan for a successful online store with these 1

    2) “Know your business well but know your competitors better.”

    Have an in-depth understanding of similar products and services available to customers. Consider businesses that do what you do but also those that can take can replace your business. Once you pinpoint your competitors, learn everything you can about them, such as:

    1. Where do they advertise?
    2. How do they handle customer service?
    3. What features does their site have?
    4. How do they price their products?
    5. How is their site better? How is yours?

    Also, gauge your competitors’ marketing efforts. One of the greatest tools recommended by a store owner is SEMRush, which provides full reports on a company’s SEM and SEO efforts.

    3) “SEO is not just another acronym.”

    Understand the importance of SEO (search engine optimization) from the get-go. As you just saw above, search engine optimization is essentially the lifeline of your online business. Be familiar with SEO best practices before you or your developer start your SEO efforts.

    The following articles will help give you a clear understanding of SEO and how it can help your ecommerce site:

    Something many merchants also wish they knew is that Google frequently change their rules. Make sure you’re always up to date on best practices by signing up for Google’s Webmaster Tools. 

    4) “Defrauders live in our world, too.”

    Once you start selling online, you open up your “digital” doors to all types of people from all types of places. Just because you operate by certain a moral code does not mean everyone else does too. Be aware of people, namely defrauders, who operate unethically. Some examples of situations merchants found themselves facing include:

    • Charge backs from unauthorized credit card use
    • Damaged and undelivered package claims
    • Customers returning goods in used condition
    • Hackers looking to steal customer information

    To prevent credit card chargebacks, be vigilant in spotting characteristics of “card not present” fraud. Large purchases, multiple purchases at a single time, and the sale of an item from a low traffic page are just a few examples. Keep in mind that as you set up roadblocks to prevent fraudulent activity, you make it harder for normal customers to make purchases. For example, secure passwords that keep out hackers – 8 characters long with a number, letter, and symbol – may also keep out customers.

    5) “Walk a mile in your customers’ shoes.”

    It’s easy to get caught up in seeing things from your perspective. But when you start to consider any decision about your online store, be sure to think about the effect it will have on your customer. Create a persona, give them a name, and always consider what they think.

    For example, to provide better personalized newsletters, a merchant required customers to fill in more information about themselves. Instead of learning more about customers, they drove them away. Once customers saw the number of required fields and the amount of private information they had to share, they simply abandoned the cart.

    Another merchant decided to offset increased shipping costs by removing their shipping special. Customers now have to pay for shipping regardless of their purchase total. Although they expected a small drop in in orders, they did not expect the average order value to drop as well. They successfully offset shipping costs but ultimately lost revenue from decreased order totals.

    Bottom line: Always consider how your decisions will affect your customer. 

    6) “Don’t underestimate the power of a personal touch.”

    Selling through a digital storefront makes it easy to forget that customers are people – real, live human beings. The world of ecommerce can feel impersonal but that’s easy to change by adding a personal touch. It is a way to separate yourself from giant online stores like Amazon. Adding a personal touch may seem counterproductive because of the amount of time you spend, but it can go a long way.

    Some merchants surprise customers with small gifts with each order. They don’t use it as a marketing ploy or a sales tactic but just a way of saying “thanks” for their patronage. These simple gestures keep customers coming back time and time again. This adds to the bottom line by saving countless dollars that would have otherwise been spent on acquiring new customers.

    7) “Listen.”

    It is a simple concept but the challenge lies in its execution. Whether it is to your customer, your developer or your team, it’s important to take time to listen to what they have to say. When you’re providing customer service, take time to understand your customers’ problems. If you are unable to paraphrase your customers’ problem, you do not fully understand their issue. Taking time to listen will not only help you provide better service but lead to increased customer loyalty. You should also listen to your development team. It not only creates a good working relationship but speeds up the development process. Regardless of who you listen to, be sure to take it with a grain of salt. Understand their perspective and where their ideas/concerns stem from. Are they saying it to help improve your product/online store, or are they being lazy? 

    8) “You are as strong as your weakest link.”

    Running a successful online store usually involves small teams of people. Your team is anyone who helped you get your online store ready for launch. This includes everyone from the photographer, to the developer and even your investor. The weakest link in your company isn’t necessarily the person who contributes the least or works the fewest amount of hours. It is the person who has a negative attitude. I don’t mean to start a crusade against anyone who has a bad day, because we all have those. Just be sure to take note of anyone who doesn’t believe in your product or service and brings down the company morale. Keep in mind that you are also part of the team and your morale matters. Try out these tips from Small Business Computing, to build a positive team for your online business. 

    9) “Done is better than perfect.”

    In an ideal world, everything should operate like clockwork. You have quality images for your products, each product description is error free and SEO friendly, and your web site has a beautiful responsive design – down to the last pixel. However, in the real world, this is hardly ever the case. Problems come up and things don’t always go your way. As one merchant shares, learn early on that not everything has to be perfect. Simple product descriptions are better than no product descriptions. The same goes for social media. Acting and reacting to posts every day brings more value than a perfectly-timed and fancy social media campaigns. By settling for good enough, you get more done which leaves you more time to perfect the things that do matter. Is your site good enough? Ensure you have these 10 things customers look for on your ecommerce site. 

    10) “For every beginning, there is an ending.”

    It’s tough to think about the end of your business just as you are starting up, but having a concrete exit strategy is important. Sure the exit strategy should be part of your business plan, but we’re showing you how important it is by including here again. The chance that you’ll pass down the business to your child, if they even want it, is very unlikely. The following piece of advice helped one merchant come to terms with the need for an exit strategy.

    You are not the online business but rather an employee of the business. As an employee, what you invest into the company should be returned to you as the company starts making money. Whether you choose to run your business forever or sell it to someone, an exit strategy will help you see the bigger picture. When it comes to making important decisions, it will help you see past this week’s profits to make choices that will benefit you in the long run.

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  • Why Lost Deals Are Almost Impossible To Save

    It looks like a client of mine is about to lose a big deal.

    The problem, the sales person has no idea what they are selling and although they made it to the finals on sheer luck and the strength of the features, it’s not looking good.

    When I say the sales person doesn’t know what they are selling, I mean he doesn’t know why the client needs to buy. He doesn’t know what the motives for change are. He knows very little about the competition. He doesn’t know if the competition is a better fit, because he doesn’t know what the prospect is trying to do. For all intents and purposes, he knows nothing about what he’s selling, why the prospect needs it and the impact to their organization.

    This is why he’s gonna lose this deal.

    To make matters worse, he doesn’t have a relationship with the decision maker. As you can see, he is in deep shit.

    On the surface all of these issues are a problem, but it’s the result of these misteps that I want to call out. Because this sales person has little to no clue on what’s happening in this sales, he’s in NO position to try and save it.

    To save a deal, we have to be ready and capable of challenging the customer. Saving deals rests almost solely on our ability to challenge our customer and when we can’t we’re fucked. We’ve heard a lot about challenging prospects, and there is no time in selling where challenging a customer is more critical than when trying to save a deal you’re about to lose.

    When we’re in a position where a deal requires saving, it’s because we messed up somewhere. We didn’t deliver the right value, we missed the buying signals, we didn’t understand the buying process, we didn’t understand the clients motivations, we didn’t understand the competition and more. This is where the irony comes in. It’s these very things, this very information we need to save the deal. When we don’t have this information, saving a deal is almost impossible. We can’t argue why our solution is a better choice and that they are making a bad decision. We can’t because we don’t know what their problems are. We don’t know anything about the competition and we can’t even get to the decision maker. Without this stuff, you can forget about saving anything.

    Saving a deal is as complex as the deal itself, that’s why few can be saved.

    Saving deals requires the same things that selling the deal required. Therefore, in order to save a deal you need to know, why the customer is buying in the first place and what they expect to get from buying. You need to know what future state they are trying to achieve. You need to know why; why it matters and why the current state is not acceptable. You need to know what other options they have and who your competing with. In other words, what other possible solutions are available to them and how does your solution stack up to the alternatives. Without knowing these things you won’t save the deal.

    I’m not saying deals can’t be saved, because they can be. I’ve seen it. But it doesn’t happen very often for all the reasons I mentioned above.

    When a deal is saved, one of two things happens. The sales person already knew all the above and made a mistake somewhere in the selling process. When this is the case they are able to pivot their deal strategy quickly in order to get the buyer to reevaluate their decision. The sales person identifies a “gap” in the buyers decision process and they are able to highlight the gap and it’s negative consequences to the buyer. By doing this, the buyer opens the deal to the sales person for further evaluation to ensure they are making the right choice. (This doesn’t include dropping your pants on price. In my opinion, it’s not “saving a deal” if you’re whoring yourself out by dropping the price big time to get back in the game). This isn’t common, but it happens. Things can be missed in the sale, creating gaps. Saving a deal when this happens is hard,  but not impossible. It all rests on the strength of the solution.

    The  other scenario, and it’s extremely rare, is when a sales person recognizes they have non of the above and are able to get the buyer to slow down the process and give them a chance to recalibrate. When this happens, it’s usually because the sales person has a strong relationship with the buyer or someone very influential. In essence what happens is, the sales person falls on their sword and says, they didn’t do a good job in articulating the value proposition and ask for another chance to demonstrate why their product/service is critical to the buyer. If the buyer says yes, they use this precious time to get all the discovery info they DIDN’T get initially and deliver a stronger value proposition on the fly. But, I’m telling your this is no small order and rarely works. Just thinking about it is giving me anxiety.

    Saving deals is a bitch. It’s a position you don’t want to be in. If you’re in a position where you have to “save it,” nine out of ten times it’s because you fucked up. You didn’t sell it right.

    There is nothing heroic about saving a deal, unless you were brought into clean up someone else’s mess. Saving a deal is more like plunging your own toilet. You’re happy you were able to get the shit to go down, but everyone’s pissed it happened in the first place.

    Don’t put yourself in a position where you have to save deals. It’s just bad selling.

    ARTICLE SOURCE: This factual content has not been modified from the source. This content is syndicated news that can be used for your research, and we hope that it can help your productivity. This content is strictly for educational purposes and is not made for any kind of commercial purposes of this blog.
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  • What your customers say about your products, online, can make a critical difference to the future of the business that you run. It can drive sales. It can drive buyers away. It’s a powerful force, and one that entrepreneurs must consider.

    “I have found that online word of mouth from the right people can do wonders,” said Lisa Hennessy, owner of Your Pet Chef, in an e-mail. “I recently was fortunate enough to get a new customer that has a very large following. She posted photos of me delivering food to her, of me with her dog, and of the food itself. After two hours, I had three new customers. In 24 hours, I had nine new customers. It’s been incredible.”

    As it turns out, Hennessy’s experi ence dovetails with recent research. A new study from the University of Utah’s David Eccles School of Business illustrates key concepts about how online word of mouth works. The report outlines word of mouth’s impact on sales, the types of content that work best, when it’s most effective, and what commenters mean the most to brands that consumers discuss. Let’s dig in and examine its findings and break out some key tips for store owners seeking to amplify their own online conversation.

    Online word of mouth, according to the study, creates two primary results: sales and further recommendations. To enjoy the benefits of both, the kind of content your business produces and the material that commenters respond to, should be approached as being deeply connected to their actions. Here are some of their findings:

    • The study found that an online recommendation within the context of a consumer conversation is the only type of online word of mouth that directly impacts sales.
    • Quality over quantity is the rule, in most cases. According to the research, what consumers post online is more important to driving sales than the number of comments posted about any one product or brand.
    • Want to get consumers talking? Brands that can promote or foster conversations that link emotions to a product’s attributes increase their chances of earning an online recommendation.
    • Timing is often everything. Focusing on product details, when a brand has a new item on the market, drives recommendations. But once the product is deeper into its lifecycle, it’s the emotional connections that prompt consumers to pass along a word.

    “While we’re just scratching the surface in this area, businesses can greatly benefit from the OWOM dimensions investigated in this research,”said Shyam Gopinath, the lead author of the study, in a release. “Understanding what consumers respond to and what builds their trust in brands gives businesses much-needed data to connect with their intended audiences.”

    Fostering Conversations: Online Word of Mouth and Entrepreneurs

    “Just as consumers have always done, they listen to what their friends, family, neighbors, and co-workers have to say about products and services, but now they have access to the reviews and opinions of millions of other consumers, and it weighs heavily on their purchasing decisions,” said Simon Tiffen, senior manager of Advertiser Insights at Cars.com, via e-mail. “Seventy-nine percent of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. So, building your online reputation is now vital for businesses.”

    The following strategies are for entrepreneurs ready to get into that conversation. With them, they can equip themselves with perspectives, prompts, and cautions when it comes to online word of mouth.

    • Don’t fake word of mouth for your brand. Even if you’re finding it hard to get consumers talking on your favorite social-media platform, stick with what’s authentic. “The person making the comment matters more than the platform that they make it on,” said Simon Dude Granner, founder of Next Gen Digital Marketing, by e-mail. “The quality of the comment is much more important that the quantity. You can tell when someone is being real and authentic and you can easily spot spam marketers on the Internet.”
    • One critical voice doesn’t determine all of your online word of mouth. When it comes to a bad review or a sour comment about a brand, it’s all right to give the crowd a bit of space — and to assume they’re not new to how recommendations work. “People generally weigh comments intelligently and will dismiss anomalies of experiences, or outliers as they are statistically called,” said Matthew Reischer, lead brand-marketing manager for LegalAdvice.com, in an e-mail interview.
    • Engage when a voice demands it. If you become aware of a strong voice, for or against your brand, within the context of online word of mouth, you can make a good impression by addressing them with empathy and appreciation. In both cases, positive and negative comments, inviting the online consumer to interact with your company in a positive way — a problem-solving way, even — can prompt that individual to spread subsequently good word about your customer service and responsiveness.

    Having data that shows how, why, and when consumers trust and share your brand online is one thing. Taking steps to encourage those kinds of connections is something even more specific.

    Combining the two can mean progress for your brand in the online conversation. And so, consider what the Eccles report has to say, and then implement the preceding advice and tips from fellow business leaders — they’ve seen exactly how online word of mouth can grow.

     

    ARTICLE SOURCE: This factual content has not been modified from the source. This content is syndicated news that can be used for your research, and we hope that it can help your productivity. This content is strictly for educational purposes and is not made for any kind of commercial purposes of this blog.
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  • A Simplified Roadmap for Ecommerce Expansion

    Stage 1: Leverage What You Have

    This is the “get the ball rolling” approach some retailers are taking. Speed to market and low investments are what make this route attractive. Beyond enabling the international features on the platform and finding a logistics provider to ship to international markets, not much extra effort is needed.

    Retailers can leverage their existing platform, logistics network and payment solution to serve international customers. E-stores are borderless by nature and retailers can capture the immediate opportunities with their current competencies. However, they may turn away customers not having the solution tailored to their needs.

    • Target countries: English speaking, low fraud risk countries such as Australia, Canada, UK
    • Target customers: Overseas customers who can shop and transact in English; familiar with the U.S. culture and brands; have access to popular payment methods; desire U.S.-made products; comfortable with buying overseas
    • Marketing: Rely on organic marketing tactics such as Social media or SEO. No proactive marketing is needed,  leverage current display ad network for international, for instance, turn on “international” in your search display in Google Adwords.
    • Localization: Minimal. No need for translation.
    • Fulfillment: Ship directly from your warehouses in the U.S; customers take care of the duty and taxes issues.
    • Payment: Popular credit cards and PayPal;

    This route is especially appealing to retailers who are new to international business, unsure of the overall international demand, and choose to be reactive rather than proactive for fear of overcommitting to an unproven market. It doesn’t require much extra work, but it also won’t get the coveted growth retailers expect from their international initiatives. The markets are limited to a few English-speaking ones. The international customer experience will be compromised. The limited payment options may shut out consumers who don’t have these payment methods. Expect customer issues to go up as customers have to take care of their own duty taxes and receive unexpected bills from customs.

     

    Stage 2: Make Them Feel At Home

    At this stage, retailers should have some experience with their international ecommerce, and become acutely aware of the issues faced by their international customers through their Customer Service team or social listening tools. To “get it right”, retailers should focus on improving international customer experience for customer retention. The ideal shopping experience for international shoppers should resemble a domestic one. The need for localization has thus increased for currency, language, culture-based merchandising and pricing strategy. Accepting more local payment methods becomes critical to open the door wider to more buyers. Introducing transparency to the total landed costs will minimize the customer complaints on the unexpected duty charges.

    Expand beyond the basic features to utilize the multi-currency and multi-language capabilities offered on your ecommerce platform. Include local payment methods and a total landed cost solution.

    • Target Countries: Retailers can add the non-English speaking countries and emerging markets to the list
    • Target Customers: International customers who want to buy U.S. brands, but were constrained by language or payment options before
    • Marketing: Check the analytical tools to see where the top selling destinations are. It may be worthwhile to do a few country specific marketing/PR efforts. Be aware of the differences in the top search engines and social networks in different markets
    • Localization: Platforms such as Demandware provide the technology to enable retailers to implement their in-country pricing strategy for different markets. Demandware LINK Technology partners such as MotionPoint and Translations.com can help you deliver the content translation
    • Fulfillment: Introduce a DDP (Delivery Duties Paid) solution to eliminate the uncertainty of duty and taxes, and reduce your customer service issues. Display duty & taxes, and guarantee the total landed cost quoted in the checkout
    • Payment: Add more local payment methods and fraud protection tools from companies such as Global Collect; CyberSource  and WorldPay – all LINK technology partners within the Demandware community.

    This route applies to retailers who want to build a sustainable international business, and consider international markets an important growth engine instead of “nice-to-have” markets, but don’t have enough scale to justify the deeper investment in stage 3. More dedicated resources will be needed for taking this route. If the resource commitment sounds intimidating, select a few countries to prioritize. The decision can be made with the traffic and transactional data from the analytical tools, combined with the strategic importance of certain markets.

     

    Stage 3: Set Up A Local Presence

    At a certain point, fulfilling orders from the warehouses in the U.S. becomes inefficient and expensive. For retailers who have deep convictions of the international opportunity, proven demand and investment resources, the next logical step is to build a streamlined supply chain to serve the international market more directly, whether through fulfilling by third-party providers or building distribution centers in the primary markets APAC, EU where shipping costs are high, but the presence of the third party providers may vary in different markets. Make sure their geographic capabilities align with your market expansion roadmap.

    • Target customers:  local customer base in the chosen markets
    • Marketing: Localized search marketing, email, and social media efforts. Engage local marketing expertise, especially in certain high cultural context markets. In some markets, retailers may need to collaborate with leading marketplaces to access their immediate customer base
    • Localization: The website should feel like a domestic one for those in-country customers. Full localization is needed for language, currency, merchandising and customer service
    • Fulfillment:   Collaborate with a third party logistics provider or set up distribution centers to directly serve the international markets.
    • Payment: Local payment methods and fraud protection become mandatory

    While it will bring a faster transit time and lower fulfillment costs, this route only makes sense for retailers who have obtained significant brand recognition in markets with proven demand, and achieved scale to justify the large investment. Retailers who have reached the decision point need to analyze the impact of the full engagement route on their brand, operation, and organization to understand the risk factors and the ROI picture.

    This may be a simplified take of the complex scenarios of a retailer’s capability, risk tolerance level and internal priorities, but hopefully this can provide a roadmap to kick off an international expansion initiative, remove the fear factors, and encourage you to take the next step to seize the opportunities that exist globally. Many ecommerce platforms including Demandware and Magento provide  excellent infrastructure with the flexibility that retailers need to expand internationally.

    ARTICLE SOURCE: This factual content has not been modified from the source. This content is syndicated news that can be used for your research, and we hope that it can help your productivity. This content is strictly for educational purposes and is not made for any kind of commercial purposes of this blog.
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