3 Ways to Boost Your eCommerce Sales

by on February 24, 2015 , No comments

A study in the Harvard Business Review showed that increasing customer retention by 5% can lead to a 25% – 95% increase in profit. That’s an amazing statistic, but what is customer retention, and how can you get it your business?

Customer retention is exactly what it sounds like — the act of getting your customers to stay loyal to your product or service. A successful customer retention strategy takes one hit wonder shoppers and makes them loyal, repeat purchasers that buy more, more often. A customer retention strategy will boost your profitability while encouraging the repeat business necessary to drive a sustainable business model.

Customer retention is the future of eCommerce, so here are 3 tools you can use on your eCommerce site.

1) Loyalty Programs

A loyalty program is a fantastic way to boost customer retention. When a shopper is given additional value (like points or coupons) for shopping at your store, it becomes much more difficult to choose a competitor for their next purchase. Points create switching cost, meaning that if your customer moves to a competitor, they would be leaving potential money or points earned on the table.

Ecommerce loyalty programs allow you to reward more than just repeat purchases. One of my favorite eCommerce sites rewards me for writing reviews, giving referrals, and sharing their products on social media. These actions (reviews, referrals and social sharing) are profitable actions for your business as it is free marketing by a satisfied customer.

Points are often used to mask the true value of what you are rewarding. For example: you may be willing to pay 3 cents for a share on Facebook, but 30 points is a stronger motivator for your customer than 3 cents.

So how do you know if a loyalty program would be a good feature for your product or service? Well, loyalty programs work best for retailers who have products that are purchased regularly (a couple times a year). Examples would be fashion, supplements, or pet supplies.

2) Gamification

The application of game mechanics is not just for mobile apps and video games anymore! You can get the power of gamification working for your customer experience and purchase process. With gamification, you are encouraging shoppers to complete actions by making it more enjoyable and adding a sense of competition.

Sites that incorporate gamification often have leaderboards, status, and badges so shoppers can showcase where they stand relative to others. Gamification is great because it can be incorporated into other things like promotions and the loyalty programs I already mentioned.

So is gamification right for you? Well, gamification works best for retailers with a demographic that is familiar with game mechanics (usually a younger demographic or a sports or competitive demographic). It also works very well when used in tandem with a loyalty program. Examples would be a slots game where you win a certain percentage off at checkout, or an actual game on your site that has a leaderboard where winning gives points or some other reward.

3) Personalization

Personalization allows you to increase customer retention through more relevant and tailored experiences with the brand. Personalization requires you to collect data about your customers that you can later use to make recommendations and tailor promotions individually to each customer’s interest. There are a few ways to use personalization.

An example of this is bodybuilding.com, they take all your previous purchase information and make product recommendations based on what you like and the product you are currently looking at. Another example would be Amazon’s “Customers who bought this item also bought” bar under your selection. This is smart because it provides relevant offers and click through opportunities based on the successful purchases of others.

A simple way to use personalization to increase customer retention is through email. Many email service providers allow you to mark emails with a personalized name or company. When a shopper is addressed by name with content they care about, they will be much more loyal to you and your store.

Personalization sure sounds great, but who should use it? Well, a total personalization strategy is something to work towards, but simpler tactics like email personalization and login recognition should be used by anyone that wants to nurture customer loyalty. More specifically, I’m talking about everyone.

When all is said and done, a customer retention strategy is necessary and profitable for all eCommerce merchants. These are just few options to consider when putting together your plan. As more and more merchants start to sell online it will become harder and more expensive to acquire new customers, making retention even more important. eCommerce merchants that focus on customer retention will be more sustainable and more profitable than those focused only on acquiring new customers.

Jwebsite Designer has experience creating successful eCommerce sites with these features and others. To start your customer retention strategy, talk to the experts at Jwebsite Designer about your eCommerce site!

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10 Tips For Creating a Successful Crowdfunding Campaign

by on February 18, 2015 , No comments

At Jwebsite Designer, we’re always interested in how startups can best share their ideas with the community. We know that the current trend lies in crowdfunding. As crowdfunding gains in popularity, the battle for page views and pledges has become increasingly competitive, especially on portal sites that feature thousands of live projects at once. If you’re depending on hope and the fact that your mom likes the idea, then you could be in trouble.

Did you know that nearly 70% of all crowdfunding campaigns that are launched don’t actually reach their minimum funding goals? Typically, if you only reach a portion of your desired pledge amount, all donated funds are then returned to investors once your campaign end date arrives. In other words, in most cases, it’s all or nothing. So it’s in your best interest to really do your homework and make your fundraising campaign count.

So how do you ensure that you’ve optimized your campaign for success? We’ve taken a look at a number of recently funded projects in order to identify some of the techniques, strategies, and crowdfunding secrets that will give you the best chance of meeting your goals.

  1. Prepare like it’s an obsession

You can use crowdfunding to help validate ideas before they are fully realized, but if your campaign comes across as half-baked then your audience isn’t going to invest. People don’t want to back a campaign that’s not going to work. You can’t use crowdfunding as a shortcut to avoid properly planning out your ideas, or doing the planning for you.

Look at it this way: you’re attempting to convince total strangers to invest in your idea. Some of the people who fund your project may very well be friends or family members, but a large portion of pledges will come from investors you’ve never met before. This is one of the many reasons why you really need to prepare your campaign long in advance. The last thing you want to do is go in blind. We can’t stress enough the importance of thinking your pitch through from all angles before taking that first step.

For example, finances are a big part of what fuels a company and whether it keeps going or not. Managing your finances is just as important as raising capital through a crowdfunding site. Have you asked yourself where your revenue will go once it’s generated? That’s just one question 9 out of 10 investors will want an answer to before they whip open their wallets. You need to have these answers well in advance in order for your startup idea to be taken seriously.

  1. Pick the right crowdfunding site

There are countless different crowdfunding sites out there all across the globe, and the number is constantly rising. This means that more people than ever are trying to create a startup or project that stands out from the rest. This is why it’s important to do your homework and select the right one just for you and your particular project. Some of them are just general crowdfunding sites geared towards all types of categories, while others are geared towards specific types of campaigns. There are sites for startups like hobbyists, artists, filmmakers, musicians, game developers, app developers, and more.

  1. Own your strategic social media

Everyone is using social media as a marketing tool these days, so having a well thought out social marketing campaign is a great way to create or maintain buzz around your idea. You don’t need a blanket presence on social media, though the wider your reach, the better. Pick the networks that best match your marketing and content strategies and where your potential supporters are most likely to be found. It takes less than five minutes to plug a link on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+ (but don’t discount the value of guerilla marketing like posting ads on trees throughout your city to get the locals involved).

Don’t forget to customize your promotion to suit each platform too. For example, indie band Bigtree Bonsai raised $6,956 — almost double their target — via IgnitionDeck after spreading the word with a #letsmakearecord hashtag.

If you aren’t an expert when it comes to generating traffic or don’t have a large following, don’t worry. Writing catchy and effective text to draw attention can require a certain level of creativity, but if this is not exactly your forte there are social media marketing services available for startups and small businesses too.

  1. Produce a great video

Video clips give visitors a better idea of your project because they can see you or your product in action rather than clicking through a series of static images. However, videos are known to be labor-intensive, so don’t attempt to put together a clip if you don’t have the time, resources, and expertise required. An amateur-looking video isn’t going to convince anyone to get involved, and could even damage your campaign’s credibility. Using free services such as Vimeo and YouTube for example you can leverage the power of video marketing and take your campaign to the next level.

Professional and engaging videos are a great way to express what your startup company is all about in a way that plain text on a screen could never do, so it’s usually well worth paying for help to make your video pitch the best it can be. A stunning video is a great investment because it’s a way to show investors that you have good initiative and well planned execution. Anything you can do to prove and convince investors that their money won’t go to waste is a good thing. If you took the time to make a quality video to promote your product, this will reflect positively on your overall campaign.

  1. Create a helpful media page or website

You’ve no doubt seen some of the most popular crowdfunding projects covered in the press, but this won’t happen if you don’t have a solid website and some press materials that journalists can download. Even if you’re a one-man show, don’t rely on your Facebook page to do it all. If journalists can’t find more information about your project and some high-resolution pictures to illustrate their features, they may choose to promote a different project instead. If you have grander plans, you can even think about press releases and tours. Many larger campaigns included a press tour before the crowdfunding element was even launched.

  1. Don’t ask for money immediately

This tip might be controversial to various experts, but it’s been shown again and again that if you tell your story and share your enthusiasm for your project, people will naturally want to add their support. Remember that your supporters are giving you money with the expectation of getting something back: they want to receive a return on their investment, whether it’s a physical product or an emergency relief operation that swings into action. Shows the benefits and value of your idea up front, so backers know what it is they’re supporting. It’s also important to make sure the backer can invest as much or as little money as they like.

  1. Build interest before you start

By knowing and understanding your target audience, you can better spend your time and effort creating a good pitch or campaign. Be sure to do good research on this subject, as it really is an important part of getting your idea off the ground. Being able to relate to your target audience is a necessity, so even before you launch a crowdfunding campaign, you can drum up interest in your project or your business.

With a solid fan base in place, your campaign will get off to a good start. A famous example would be Adam Baker, and how he leveraged the active following on his Man Vs. Debt blog to help his I’m Fine, Thanks documentary to reach its goal with over 4,000 backers. If you don’t already have a community to tap into, try and get the attention of a handful of local influential figures who might be interested in your project.

  1. Communicate often

Whether it’s good news or bad, keep your backers and potential backers in the loop. Post regular updates on your crowdfunding page, and keep the process going after the campaign has ended. Frequently stay on top of your campaign, check the status often and never leave people hanging when they ask you questions. No matter how simple a question may seem, it’s critical that you treat all potential investors with equal honesty, courtesy, and respect.

Certain questions may sound silly to you, but to someone else, having the answer could determine whether or not they decide to fund you. Also, be prompt. Obviously you can’t be glued to your computer, but the quicker you respond, the more you promote your campaign. By being actively involved in your campaign, you are raising your chances of successfully reaching your desired funding amount sooner (or at all).

  1. Keep it personal

Let your backers know your story and how your product and team fit into it. Consider the humor and personality of your crowdfunding campaign, and connect with your backers. Your story could easily make or break your crowdfunding campaign so it needs to be compelling. The key here is to truthfully explain your campaign and what it’s all about in the most engaging way possible.

You don’t necessarily need to be a novelist or marketing expert to achieve this, you just need to be knowledgeable and passionate about your idea and it’s purpose. Make your story captivating and explain to people why they should consider investing in your idea over the thousands of other new ideas that are out there. Make sure you’re answering the question: Why does your idea stand out above all the rest? And make sure your answer and product is creative and unique enough to stand out.

  1. Offer awards and incentives

You can create a campaign that has broad appeal at the same time as paying special attention to your existing supporters. One of the best ways to do this is by creating a reward scheme with many different price points. Even if you can’t offer a physical reward for a $1 donation, you could still give these pledgers early access to your product or a credit within your software package, for example.

With rewards ranging from $1 (for, perhaps, behind-the-scenes updates) to $5,000 (for, maybe, an educational seminar in your community) you can allow your pledgers to get a return on their investment. Being creative about your rewards is another way to drum up interest in your campaign. It is essential to let your investors know that you appreciate their support. Offering incentives a great way to thank backers and show that you really are grateful for their investment in your project.

Our suggestions for you are not difficult. But, as in anything, practice makes perfect, and crowdfunding is no different. So go and back some projects, watch a ton of project videos, read a lot of body copy. Check out other projects that were successful in your category, use the ideas that you like, and drop the ones that you don’t. Make your campaign as inviting and polished as you can, and then go from there. There’s no way of guaranteeing crowdfunding success, but by studying the projects, strategies, and crowdfunding tips we’ve shared today, you can certainly maximize your chances.

If you are still stuck on your crowdfunding campaign, consider asking Jwebsite Designer to help! Jwebsite Designer has worked with numerous startups and entrepreneurs from across the world, helping them execute their idea from running successful crowdfunding campaigns to launching their product or idea. To start a conversation about your startup, contact Jwebsite Designer today!

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4 Essential SEO Techniques for 2015

by on February 10, 2015 , No comments

Let’s talk about SEO, and how it has grown into a strategic marketing trend that is helping business owners in almost every industry. Although all companies want a first-page rank on Google’s search results, modern SEO is a highly technical process. Still, it can be a profitable strategy for most companies, especially those who stay up to date with the latest trends. We’ve compiled a list of SEO techniques that will continue to be effective through 2015.

  1. Use Competitive Insights to Attract Your Audience

Competitor analysis is a key component in any effective SEO strategy. Just like it sounds, this involves assessing what your company’s competitors are doing to improve organic ranks and attract visitors.

One of the main factors in earning high ranks on Google is having links to your website from authoritative sources. With a trusted SEO company, is easy to see which websites are linking to your competitors’ pages. You can then try to obtain links to your page from these sites by reaching out to them directly. Sometimes, all you have to do is offer to publish a guest blog post.

Here are other questions you can ask when analyzing your competitors:

  • How fast is their site loading?
  • How have they organized their sitemap?
  • How many links are going to their website? From how many domains?
  • What keywords are they targeting?
  • What types of media are they using to generate traffic?

Ultimately, your goal is to learn why your competitors are successful. You can use that information to develop an SEO strategy to outperform them.

  1. Align SEO and Content Teams

Your entire SEO campaign should revolve around the experience of your target audience, which is why useful content is essential for SEO. There are several types of media under the umbrella of “content marketing” including blog posts, web content, videos, infographics, and podcasts. Using these media to enhance your visitor experience—more specifically, to solve their problems—is a critical part of earning organic ranks.

Your company does not necessarily need to use every type of media to attract visitors. While using each kind of media will bring variety and novelty to your site, learning which media types appeal to your audience specifically is beneficial. By using only certain kinds of media, you can help save a lot of money, and better serve your audience and their interests.

  1. Prioritize Mobile SEO

If you don’t have a mobile strategy, you don’t have a future strategy. Although this statement might be a little dramatic, it has never been truer than in 2015, the year in which tech giants predict an increasing number of companies will learn how to mobilize their revenue-generating processes, like making purchases and depositing checks. People spend more time on mobile devices than on any other platform, and a mobile marketing strategy should be a priority for SEO. In 2015, all websites that hope to rank well in organic results must be mobile compatible. Otherwise, they are losing out on a lot of potential traffic. Also, it is likely that their bounce rate will increase, which could adversely affect their Google page-rank.

  1. Conversions

Some SEO firms may tell you conversions are old news, and not as important as page views or bounce rate, they would be wrong. Conversions are the most valuable metric in SEO. When a visitor comes to your website and does what you want them to do, that’s a conversion. If you run an ecommerce site, the moment a visitor buys something that’s a conversion. For a hotel it would be the moment a visitor makes an online reservation. If you run a website for a law firm a conversion wouldn’t be an online sale, but might rather be getting a visitor to fill out an online form requesting more information. If you’re an architect it might be getting a visitor to your website to pick up the phone and call the number they found on your site. Conversions are a much more precious metric than rankings, backlinks, and traffic, and your website should be designed in such a way as to encourage conversions. After all, the entire purpose of SEO is to create leads for your business.

Contact us at Jwebsite Designer for more tips on how to improve your business’s SEO strategy!

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