Everything You Need to Know About Facebook Targeting

Do you struggle with Facebook targeting and don’t know what you are doing wrong?

Say no more.

You may have the best product in the market.

Your brand messaging may be music to consumers’ ears.

You may have the most eye-catching creative that cannot compare to all other Facebook advertisers.

But, here’s a news flash.

All of that is completely useless if you are not putting your product, message, or content in front of the right people.

It’s like going to a Vegan festival and promoting the best rack of ribs in town.

You may be right, those ribs probably are the best anyone has ever tasted; but, guess what, your audience is not interested.

Say you go to your local Meat-Lover gathering instead, with the exact same;

 

MESSAGE

IMAGERY

and PRICE

 

With the only difference being who you are speaking to….

Your product will perform much better.

One of the biggest reasons that Facebook advertising is so popular is due to the vast amount of users that utilize the platform on a daily basis.

Not only that, Facebook provides various advertising tools to allow you to create an audience that is as specific or broad as you want.

So what do you need to look at when creating your audience?

  1. Research, Research, Research

  2. Location

  3. Demographics

  4. Interests

  5. Other Options Available

 

Whether you need guidance on one or all of the above, we assure you that you will leave here feeling more confident about the audience you create for your Facebook advertising.

 

Research, Research, Research!

 

I’m sure this does not come as a big surprise, but research is key when targeting on any platform, not just Facebook.

There are many outlets available to you that you can pull your research from; whether it be;

Your own data and assumptions gathered from previous purchases
Market trends and general data
Competitor analyses
Personal experiences
Etc.

One of the most efficient means of gathering information, however, is to use the very platform that you are working so hard to optimize: Facebook!

When diving into Facebook’s Business and Ads Manager, you are presented with a variety of tools that should not be overlooked.

For instance, what we at Be A Part Of like to take most advantage of are the “Audience Insights” functionalities

Whether you develop a custom audience or not, Facebook’s Audience Insights will inform you on which individuals and audiences are performing the best.

The reason why this is so helpful is that it may show you results and/or individuals that you were not even thinking of targeting before!

Have your “A-ha” moment yet?

Regardless of how you decide to do your research, the main thing is to be sure that you are asking the right questions.

Take a moment, before moving forward, to see if you can answer all of the below questions about your market and your target audience. If you cannot provide at least 10-15 answers to each question, you need to do more research!

 

Who are the top competitors or authority figures in your market?

Where do your potential consumers live?

Where does your audience hang out online? (i.e., what websites, blogs, etc.)

Where does your audience hang out offline? (i.e., what stores do they shop in, what gyms do they go to, what business buildings do they visit, etc.)

How does your customer stay informed? (i.e., types of social media platforms, types of newspapers, types of magazines, etc.)

 

The overall outcome of the above questions is to develop a large enough knowledge base about your audience that you will be able to pinpoint exactly what makes them unique from other audiences.

It may seem like a lot of work, but once you have the answers to the above questions or have a sufficient amount of research gathered from various sources, the rest will unfold fairly easily.

 

Location

 

Facebook Locations

 

If you took the time to answer all of the questions above, then location should already be known.

Where do your potential customers live?

One easy way to find this out is by referencing who can and cannot access your products.

For instance, your online store may only ship to certain areas of the United States. If this is the case, then it would only make sense to target individuals who live in these specific areas.

If your company happens to ship worldwide, then it may be wise to choose the top best performing countries so that your audience is not too broad and you do not overwhelm Facebook.

Location can be set to whatever you’d like.

Whether it be a country, a state/province, a city, or even something as specific as a general area code… it can be anything you’d like.

Just make sure that you have a substantial amount of research that proves that the location you choose is where your audience is actually located!

 

Demographics

 

Facebook Demographics

There are 2 things that are important to note when it comes to Demographics.

The first being: demographics can differ based on your business, products or services offered, or maybe something as specific as the particular promotion that you are advertising for.

The second being: make sure that you do not make certain generalizations and assumptions about which demographics to target.

I know I know, I just contradicted myself.

If you are running an ad to a promotion or landing page that you have been running for a while and you are aware of which demographics are showing interest and which are not, then this is knowledge that is specific to that promotion and set of ads.

However, if you are running a promotion for the first time, it may not be wise to make certain assumptions.

For example; you may be launching a promotion for a Buy 1 Get 1 Free deal on golf clubs.

Someone who may look blindly at this type of promotion may think to target males over the age of 30 because this is the group who will react the most to this promotion.

This is an assumption.

And you know what they say about assumptions…

The benefits of keeping your demographics fairly general and inclusive is that you may find a particular demographic that you may have overlooked before actually outperform the demographics that you thought would raise their hand the most.

Like I said, this is completely dependent on the product or service offered, but you may want to start with a general audience, demographic wise. For example:

 

Gender: Male and Female

Age: 18-50+

Relationship Status: Single, In A Relationship, Engaged, and Married

Education Level: High School, College, and Grad School

Etc.

 

You get the point, sometimes being general at the beginning can be helpful!

 

Interests

 

Facebook Interests

This is where things get interesting.

(See what I did there?)

As mentioned, whether or not you decide to keep your audience broad or specific is up to you.

Broad audiences are good as they will allow Facebook to provide information that you never knew before.

Specific audiences are good as they will allow Facebook to place the ads in front of the individuals who are the most likely to purchase.

Broad audiences are a great starting point… but once you dig deeper into the promotion timeline, it may be beneficial to narrow down your audience.

How do you do that?

You can either refine the location or demographics as outlined above to target a specific city or a specific gender, for example, or you could use Audience Interests.

Facebook identifies users based on a variety of attributes, one of them being the types of interests that they have.

There are different ways that Facebook gathers insights on what a user is interested in, such as;

 

  1. What people share on their timelines
  2. Applications that they use
  3. Advertisements that they have previously clicked on
  4. Pages they engage with
  5. Activities they engage with both in and outside of Facebook – i.e., if they purchase something on an external site, travel preferences, etc.
  6. The devices that they use most frequently

 

Is it creepy that Facebook knows this much about us?

 

Yes.

 

But, as business owners who are looking to market to these individuals, this is the information that we need.

Now that we have done the work and know what interests to target, Facebook does the rest of the work by putting the advertisements in front of the individuals who have those interests.

That is… if you have done the research.

You are starting to see a recurring theme here, aren’t you? All of these different elements relate to the first step in this process – research!

All of the answers that you gathered from the various questions outlined above, for instance, are the interests that you can use to create your custom audience.

For example, say that you are in the home improvement business and you are looking for various interests to target.

Let’s look at the first question: Who are the top competitors or authority figures in my market?

For some of you, this list may fill itself up quite quickly.

For others, maybe you really don’t know who the top influencers in your market are.

Taking the above example, all you would need to do is type the following into Google or any other search engine:

“Top 10 Home Improvement Companies”
Note: this can be specified further by location if need be

From then on, you get a vast amount of lists outlining all possible competitors. These competitors are now an avenue you can pursue with regards to consumer interests.

If they have expressed interest in your competitor, why wouldn’t they express interest in you?

So long as the company/organization has a large enough user base, Facebook will compile all possible users into a new custom audience that is made up of all individuals who have expressed interest in the 10-15 (or more) competitors you have listed.

Sounds simple.

It is.

Whether you decide to just target users who express interests in your competitors, or you decide to use all of the interests gathered from your research and the above questions, it’s up to you.

Just make sure that the audience size is appropriate. A good tool to use to make sure that your audience isn’t too big or too small is the following meter that will appear on the right hand side of the screen if you build your audiences using Facebook’s Ads Manager.

Facebook Audience

 

Other Options Available

 

Seeing how vast of a platform Facebook truly is lends itself to the fact that there are multiple avenues that you can take when targeting your audience.

Whether you want your audience to be broad or narrow.

Whether you want to test multiple or a single audience.

Whether you want to exclude certain people from seeing your ad – such as people who may already be connected to your page and are already customers

Whether you want to advertise strictly to those who have been pixeled and utilize Facebook’s “Lookalike Audience” option

It is completely up to you.

All that you need to know is that there are so many resources available to you, you just have to know how to use them!

If you haven’t taken much from this article, at least hear this:

Facebook knows how to get your ad in front of the right people. You just need to know who the right people are.

If you need help, all you need to do is ask!

From your friends at,

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Which eCommerce Platform is Right for You?

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Online businesses are growing in popularity and are thus leading to an extremely saturated eCommerce market. With this vast saturation, it can be tough to feel confident about choosing the right platform for your business. You can do all of the researching you want, but at the end of the day, you need to figure out what the best platform is to help meet your business needs and goals. Your first instinct may be to choose Shopify as it is definitely the clear favourite amongst eCommerce users; but, again, though this platform may work for some businesses, it may not be the best option for you to pursue. Below we have evaluated 3 of the largest eCommerce platforms in the market; Shopify, BigCommerce, and Magento. Though we may have biases as to which platform is superior, we have provided objective explanations and evaluations of each so that you have all of the information you need to make a decision that you are confident about. We ask that you continue to keep in mind your business goals and objectives when reading through this document so that together we can find you the perfect match!

Shopify

 

Shopify is definitely one of the most popular platforms of not just these 3, but of all eCommerce platforms. Even though popularity should not necessarily be the number one motivating principle in which you choose the platform to utilize for your business, it is certainly worth discussing and investigating the means of its popularity.

Particularly when you are new to the eCommerce community, ease of use is definitely a factor that one would take into consideration when evaluating different platforms. Ease of use is without a doubt one of the main factors that contributes to the overall popularity of Shopify. With it’s clear instructions and robust explanations of the various fields required, Shopify is simple to set up and takes fairly minimal effort to maintain. This may be beneficial for the business owner that is looking to open up a store while keeping up with additional commitments outside of their business. For example, a lot of the individuals that utilize this platform describe themselves as “hobbyists.” In other words, their business is something that they do for fun and is separate from other commitments or occupations that they see as their main source of income. Since this platform does not require a lot of inputting or maintenance time, it provides you with the extra resources required to fulfill other obligations.

Speaking of resources, another main factor that contributes to the overall popularity of the Shopify platform is cost. For some, pricing is the most important factor when deciding on an eCommerce platform. For others who are willing to invest more of their time and energy into creating their own online retail space, however, pricing is not as important as other factors. This isn’t to say that your hierarchy of importance is not better than anyone else’s, it simply all depends on your goals and where you see this online business taking you! Now, back to Shopify. Out of all of the eCommerce platforms, Shopify is one of the least expensive platforms. The pricing breakdown is outlined below;

Shopify Pricing

Not only is Shopify one of the most cost effective options, but it is also one of the best platforms for businesses that are planning on experiencing large amounts of traffic. This doesn’t mean that the other platforms can’t handle large rises in traffic, but in comparison to the price to traffic ratio, Shopify is the best solution.

Some additional benefits that come about when utilizing Shopify are professional and well-designed templates, a wide selections of add-ons and applications that will allow you to incorporate different functionalities into your website, as well as around-the-clock customer support.

It’s because of all of these advantages that Shopify has been able to gain a lot of their customers from competitor platforms, such as Volusion and Big Cartel. This isn’t to say, however, that other platforms aren’t starting to gain more popularity over Shopify. By referencing the below, you can see which platforms Shopify is both gaining and losing customers from.

Shopify

Right off the bat, you can see that Shopify’s biggest competitor is BigCommerce. Why is this so? Let’s take a look.

BigCommerce

 

BigCommerce is an eCommerce platform that has always experienced success, but that success has grown tremendously recently. In the past year or so, it has gained an immense amount of popularity based on all of the added functionalities and marketing efforts put forth. Though BigCommerce may not be the cheapest eCommerce solution on the market, it can be argued that it has the wealthiest range of features and applications as well as a diverse community of users.

As previously mentioned, Shopify is a good platform for small businesses that are looking to grow quickly while also having other responsibilities to attend to. BigCommerce, on the other hand, maintains the simplicity required in an eCommerce solution, but also provides a more powerful solution that allows you to reach more consumers. This isn’t to say that if you are someone who wants to open an online retail store as an extra job on the side and as a hobby that BigCommerce is not the right fit, there are in fact a substantial amount of these types of users. Where the difference lies is in the diversity of the users. In addition to your everyday hobbyist, BigCommerce also has clients that range from all industries and sizes based on the fact that the platform allows for the freedom of growth while maintaining its ease of use. Similar to Shopify, BigCommerce has a very clean dashboard that allows for a simple set up. The way that BigCommerce adheres to the more advanced user is through providing coding options and various design features. This platform, therefore, speaks to both the technologically advanced who wish to truly make their site their own through added HTML and CSS capabilities, as well as the technologically impaired who do not necessarily care for the added design elements.

On top of its robust versatility, BigCommerce competes with Shopify through its wide range of professional and aesthetic templates, its broad selection of applications and add-ons, and it’s around the clock customer service.

The one element that seems to deter users most from BigCommerce and over to Shopify is the one benefit that Shopify holds over all eCommerce platforms; price. As outlined below, BigCommerce is more costly in comparison to other platforms.

BigCommerce Pricing

Again, if price is one of the main factors for you when choosing an eCommerce platform, then BigCommerce may not be the right fit for you; however, in most cases, all of the features that BigCommerce provides outweigh the cost as these features allow most companies to justify their ROI within the first month of going live. If your goals justify the cost, then BigCommerce may be for you, if you don’t see the cost being worth it, then it isn’t! We are not here to judge, just to state the facts! Now let’s move on to our third and final platform, Magento.

Magento

 

Magento is another leader within the eCommerce community. Right off the bat, one of the largest factors that Magento is known for is the “Magento Community Edition.” Why? It’s free! For some, that is music to their ears, for others, all they are waiting for is the “but…”. The Magento Community Edition is without a doubt the most affordable platform. For those looking to incorporate added features and functionalities, however, they will not be available unless you upgrade to the Enterprise option where you will need to request a quote as prices tend to vary. If we were to compare the average Enterprise pricing to Shopify and BigCommerce, it would run somewhere in between the two, therefore still being affordable while saving you money on transaction fees.

On top of Magento being affordable, there are many other benefits. For instance, if you were to opt in to the Enterprise edition, you would have a wide selection of applications and functionalities available to you. The add-ons and applications available to you aren’t as vast as the selection that BigCommerce and Shopify presents, but there are still plenty of options. Magento also provides extremely powerful SEO features as well as a lot of built-in promotional options such as upsell functionalities, promotional pricing, product bundling, and more.

Though there are a multitude of benefits that you will be presented with if you choose Magento, there is one factor that tends to deter a lot of users away from using it; ease of use. Compared to Shopify and BigCommerce, Magento, though having a large array of features, can be overwhelming for new users. Not all of us are experts in HTML and know how to design and craft a perfectly responsive website that is also pleasing to the eye. For those of you that do have some knowledge in website design and know your way around the backend, Magento provides you with an extremely robust solution that is fairly easy to navigate. For beginners, however, the backend can be extremely confusing at first. Will you get the hang of it? Yes. Will you have the patience to be able to navigate through it and learn the ropes? That all depends on you! If you are someone who wants full control and is willing to learn, Magento may be the right fit, but if you are someone who wants to navigate through the backend with simplicity, Magento may not be your top choice. At the end of the day, that is exactly what it comes down to, your choice and preference!

 

Of course this list is not an exhaustive one with regards to eCommerce options that you can pursue for your business. There are other platforms such as Volusion, 3dCart, BigCartel, etc., that you can check out; but, with that said, we think Shopify, BigCommerce, and Magento are the 3 biggest platforms that people tend to evaluate. Like we said previously, it all depends on your goals and objectives with regards to which platform you choose. Some platforms may be a better choice than others, but that is not our decision to make, it’s yours! If you do need any further advice or clarification on which eCommerce platform is right for you, your friends at Be A Part Of are always here to lend a helping hand.

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The Recurring Benefits of Subscription Billing

Subscribe Follow Subscription Membership Social Media Concept

With it being 2017, there are ample ways for consumers to purchase goods from you. Whether it be through their

Phones

Credit card

Online

Or cold hard cash

There are options.

One method of payment that seems to be growing in popularity is that of recurring billing. As consumers, we come across recurring payment methods in a variety of situations; such as,

Gym memberships

Magazine subscriptions

Auto insurers

And our favourite box of the month clubs

…to name a few examples.

Nowadays, we seem to be seeing this recurring billing trend encapsulate businesses outside of “the usual” subscription programs.

Why is this so?

What are the REAL benefits to implementing such a system into your business framework? Well this depends on which standpoint you are asking.

Recurring payments benefit the consumer through avoiding late penalties, saving them time and money, speaking to his or her eco-conscience, and making spending more manageable.

With regards to the business owner’s point of view, not only will all of the customer benefits translate into strengthening the overall customer relationship, but you will also realize a more predictable cash flow, fewer missed payments, reduced processing fees, and higher customer retention rates.

So let’s break this down…

 

The Customer

 

When implementing something new into your business model, the one element you need to make sure it affects positively is your consumer and the influence it has on the buying process.

After all… if you don’t make your consumer’s life easier, you are just making yours harder!

Recurring billing benefits the consumer is a variety of ways.

First, they no longer have to deal with penalty fees if they forget to make a payment on time. Sometimes a reminder is necessary to ensure that you receive a payment, however, this reminder tends to leave a bitter taste in the customer’s mouth because they are getting charged more money for something they may have simply forgotten to pay. This ends up hurting the relationship more than it helps!

This is where recurring billing saves both your customer’s wallet and your relationship.

When you implement a subscription billing program into your business, you have the customer’s credit card information on file as well as their permission to withdraw the payment at the same time every month, quarter, year, etc. This automation eliminates the variable in forgetting to pay and the repercussions it brings about.

Second, if convenience isn’t music to your customer’s ears… then I don’t know what is!

Having as fast paced of a society as we do causes people to be forgetful and lose track of certain obligations.

We can’t help it… we’re only human!

That is why recurring payment schedules are so convenient. Customers no longer have to log into their accounts every time each pay period rolls around and make the designated payment.

Having these payments be automatic allows the customer to focus on the dozens of other obligations that take up their time and giving them one less thing to worry about.

Not only does automation lead to saving your customers’ time, but it also can assist in saving them money in the future.

How many times have you outlined your budget and aligned all of your records at the end of the month, only to realize the various overdraft fees that are still lingering?

With the customer knowing in advance when each payment will be withdrawn, they are able to account for this transaction and will not have to worry about whether or not it has gone through.

So, as you can see, convenience has both short and long term perks!

Third, we all care about the environment.

…We should anyway!

Two words tend to catch consumers’ eye a lot more in the recent years;

“Green”

and

“Eco-Friendly”

Society has finally decided that it is time to take care of the world that we live in, and one way that recurring payments helps you do that is eliminating the use of paper-based invoices.

The increased use of electronic payment technologies adheres to your consumer’s eco-conscience mind and allows them to not only feel good about their purchase plan, but feel as if they are taking the necessary steps to decrease their carbon footprint.

This… not to mention… simultaneously increases your company’s overall corporate image.

Win-win? I think so.

Fourth, recurring payments allow the customer to spread what can be seen as a larger purchase out into multiple smaller purchases.

For instance, some customers prefer to pay for their year-long gym membership up front, while others prefer to distribute the cost throughout the whole year.

By not having to pay the full amount immediately, the customer is able to manage their spending in a more efficient manner while only having to set aside a smaller amount of money each month and still having additional funds for other purchases.

The Business Owner

So, what is your first order of business?

To please the customer.

Correct!

Now that having recurring payments have already done that… what else is in it for you as the business owner?

First, subscription billing presents you with a more predictable cash flow.

In general, the future of any business will always have some variable of uncertainty; with that said, however, by knowing in advance what revenue is going to be coming in on either a monthly, quarterly, or yearly basis, you are able to make business decisions that are;

Justified
Profitable
Action-oriented
Achievable

This will not only help to lessen any uncertainties for what your company’s future holds, but it will give you the leverage you need to take risks that your competitors aren’t willing to take to get ahead.

Second, with an automated recurring payment system you not only have a predictable cash flow coming in, but you will also see fewer missed payments.

Having a recurring system in place will ensure that every subscription payment will come in at the exact day and time every month, quarter, or year.

Say goodbye to having to track down late payments and hello to punctuality!

Third, the ecological benefits of utilizing online payment methods versus paper invoices has already been touched on.

BUT

There is another benefit of not using paper, and that is the reduction of all processing fees associated with paper-based invoices and receipts.

Think about it… every time you send, receive, and process a new invoice there are a lot of hidden costs associated with it that are no longer present when going digital.

Having to pay employees to write out and handle these invoices – GONE!
Reliance on expensive material such as paper, printers, ink, and stamps – GONE!
Allocating additional resources for the actual mailing process – GONE!

If you didn’t see the appeal of saving the environment before before… you will now.

Fourth, you will begin to see an increase in your customer retention numbers not only due to all of the benefits already listed and an improved customer relationship, but also because it takes more effort to actually end the relationship.

Since all recurring payments are automated, customers no longer have to take any action to fulfill the payments.

If they want to end their subscription they have to deliberately take action and opt-out.

Like I mentioned, we live in a world where our daily lives are consumed by so many other obligations that many consumers won’t want to take the extra time to end this relationship.

Of course, you will have the odd customer who will end it if they really want to, but if your product or service is up to par with the benefits that come about through recurring payments, then you’re golden!

AND THERE YOU HAVE IT!

When you implement subscription billing into your business model, you are not just making your customer’s life easier, but you are strengthening your overall relationship with him or her.

Soon enough, this relationship will result in more loyal customers which could then turn into every company’s goal:

Brand evangelists!

Now that you are in the loop – it’s your call as to whether or not you want to start making your life easier as well.

To learn more about recurring billing functionalities, click here

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7 Reasons Why Email Marketing is a Must-Have

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Email marketing is a tactic that everyone is aware of. Whether you are the business owner who utilizes email marketing to notify consumers of products, services, deals, promotions, etc., or you are the subscriber who is on the receiving end of the emails, it is well known across all industries.

 

Some marketers feel that email marketing is intrusive and an inefficient means of communication with their consumers. We are here to tell you, however, as long as email marketing is done correctly, it is;

 

Cost Effective

Convenient

Informative

Constant

Action Oriented

Measurable

And Personal

 

So long as you are not spamming your subscribers’ inbox, these are just 7 of the various benefits that your company will realize if you implement email marketing into your business model.

 

Cost Effective

 

It’s no secret that traditional marketing channels such as television, radio, or direct mail can be very expensive. Particularly for smaller businesses on a budget, it is hard to utilize these channels to their advantage.

 

This is where email marketing comes into play!

 

Think about it… you can reach hundreds, if not thousands, of consumers at a rate of next to nothing per email. This is favourable to businesses of all sizes, but for those of you on a budget, this may be a more feasible option for you to incorporate.

 

In fact, a joint study from Shop.org and Forrester Research found that 85% of US retailers consider email marketing as one of the most effective customer acquisition tactics in comparison to all of the larger, more expensive channels.

 

This benefit should be enough in itself to show you that it is worth implementing, but just in case you are still on the fence, there are 6 more factors to take into consideration!

 

Convenient

 

Some of you might be thinking that implementing an email marketing strategy will be tedious and time-consuming.

 

Well I am here to welcome to you 2017 where everything, including email marketing, can be automated!

 

Softwares, such as Infusionsoft and Marapost, offer automated email marketing that allows you to save time and other resources.

 

These softwares are programmed to monitor subscribers’ behaviours and click through rates. When a consumer completes a certain action, the software will be triggered to send a specific email based on that particular action.

 

…Long story short, you no longer have to monitor whether or not a subscriber opens your email so that you can attempt to remarket them if need be or send them a specific promotion.

 

Programs like Infusionsoft will monitor all of this for you and allow you to automate various email campaigns to help push that consumer higher up the sales cycle without exhausting any additional resources.

 

Informative

 

Businesses do not just use email marketing because it is affordable and convenient, they use it for one of the main reasons companies market themselves in the first place, to communicate with consumers!

 

Of course, not all consumers will want to sign up to an email list.

 

There are, however, those consumers that want to stay informed and be the first to know about the latest deals, promotions, sales, and product releases! Since they are making this commitment to you to receive this information, you have to deliver!

 

So long as you are giving them something worth reading in every email, providing this information will be nothing but appreciated and will help boost overall engagement.

 

Constant

 

We live in an age where everything is available to business owners, consumers, and all individuals alike via mobile devices.

 

So what does this mean for email marketing?

 

It means that consumers will be able to access your emails wherever they are, allowing you to continue to build a relationship with them and remain in constant communication regardless of the time of day!

 

In fact, according to Exacttarget, 91% of people use their smartphones to access their email.

 

So what are you waiting for? Start talking to that 91%!

 

Action Oriented

 

We have established that it is important to stay in constant communication with your consumers.

 

What these conversations entail, however, are information regarding the latest product/service releases, discount coupons, sales, promotions, and everything else that subscribers want to hear about.

 

It is human nature to either open an email, click through an email, or even use a coupon code from an email to convert! Regardless of which action each subscriber is taking, they are still taking action, and that is what matters!

 

Not to bring science into this… but every action has a reaction, right?

 

Well email marketing is a perfect demonstration of what Newton was talking about! All of these actions will result in a higher generation of leads, an increase in conversion rates, a rise in click-through rates and site visits, or simply just an increase of awareness of your brand.

 

Regardless of the action taken, you are remaining top of mind to the consumer, and that is one of the biggest benefits that come about when implementing email marketing.

 

Measurable

 

Email marketing systems such as Infusionsoft or Maropost allow you to not only automate your various email campaigns, but they also allow you to measure how successful each campaign and email is.

 

For instance, the various metrics that these programs provide are;

 

Open rates

 

Click through rates

 

Deliverability

 

Subscriber retention

 

Engagement with content and social media

 

Bounce rates

 

So what good is this to you?

 

Well it’s great if you have an email campaign running, but if it is not generating leads or increasing conversions, then what is the point?

 

These metrics allow you to see what is working within your campaigns and what is not. Whether it be

 

The headline

The subject header

The tone of the email content

Or even… the deal!

 

You will not know what to tweak or get rid of altogether unless you have these metrics provided, so be sure to use them!

 

Personal

 

We all know that feeling of unappreciation when we receive an email that does not attempt to be personal and is spammed to dozens of other inboxes.

 

This is not a good feeling and will result in the subscriber not feeling connected to you and your brand, or even unsubscribing.

 

Email marketing softwares allow you to automate all emails and deliver them in bulk, but still remain personal to each subscriber.

 

One way this is achieved is the obvious… using the subscriber’s name in the email.

 

Another way this is achieved is through segmentation.

 

Through the various metrics outlined above, email marketing programs pay attention to each subscriber’s actions and base the next email sent upon whether or not he or she opened the email or ignored it, for instance.

 

Think about it… do you really want to be sending a subscriber who has been inactive for a few weeks, rarely clicks through your emails or even opens them the same email and offer that you do a loyal subscriber who opens every email, clicks through the entire email, and even converts a time or two on low dollar offers?

 

I’ll help you out… the answer is No.

 

You want to personalize your communication to talk to each subscriber with their current status in mind. This will not only allow you to send the loyal subscriber more information that they have previously shown interest in, but it will also allow you to remove those inactive subscribers from your list.

 

See… getting personal doesn’t always have to be so scary!

 


 

And there you have it! There are 7 reasons why, if you don’t already, you should implement email marketing into your overall marketing plan.

Regardless of the size of your business, the industry you are pursuing, or the market you are speaking to, email marketing can and will be an advantageous way to stay in contact with your subscribers and boost engagement.

And remember! You are not alone! There are plenty of resources available to you to make email marketing a breeze to utilize, all you have to do is…

 

…Ask!

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eCommerce Trends to Embrace for 2017

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And just like that 2016 is behind us! For some, it will be missed, for others, it’s a sweet goodbye. Now that we are a few weeks into 2017 it’s time to ask yourself, what new emerging trends will encompass the eCommerce community this year? Every business nowadays realizes the importance of having a digital presence. So, with that being said, there are important developments that businesses need to take into consideration if they want to stay out amongst the rest. Just because some trends were hot in 2016, does not necessarily mean that they will transfer over into 2017… or will they? The top 8 eCommerce trends that you should look to embrace for 2017 are chatbots, the end of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, faster delivery speeds, top notch mobile experiences, digital payment abilities, data and content aggregators, predictive analysis technologies, and social selling and brand ambassadors. Let’s dive into each trend a little deeper.

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The first trend to look out for in 2017 is the introduction of chatbots. Chatbots are Al-led automated messenger systems that allow your customers’ first point of contact with your brand to be with an instant messenger. A trend that is already prevalent in society is our comfort with speaking with machines, so long as we receive the service that we are looking for. Chatbots are available in almost all social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, and Google, but can also be implemented directly into a business’s eCommerce store. These bots help customers with anything from shopping or booking needs, to standard customer service and support. The smartest bots, however, detect exactly what the customer is asking for and responds as if it were a real salesperson or customer support worker. For instance, when a user asks a question, a Chatbot can then suggest products that will meet their needs, place the requested order, answer all queries and concerns, and can even accommodate its style of language in order to interact efficiently. This may be not be a feasible trend to implement into your business; but, if it is, we strongly urge you to do your research on these new developments as they can really aid in saving you resources in the future.

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The second trend to embrace for 2017 is the end of Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Saying that there will be an “end” to the two days of the year that set sales records in 2016 is a little bit dramatic. It is true that these important dates will still be high contenders for mass sales volume in 2017 and many years following, but there is a new trend and date to keep an eye on, and that is “Cyber November.” Black Friday and Cyber Monday will no longer be the reference point to the start of the holiday shopping season. According to Google, 40% of holiday shopping begins before Halloween for Canadian consumers. While, on the other side of things, 88% of retailers in the United States launch their holiday sales advertisements in the first week of November. This isn’t to say that there won’t continue to be an increase of online and in-store shopping on both of these dates, but it is beneficial to think about structuring your promotions to begin earlier and last until the holiday season with minor adjustments along with way instead of placing all of your eggs in one basket by launching your promotions for these specific dates. There will always be those devoted shoppers who live for the Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales, but you should also attempt to focus your efforts on those consumers that begin their holiday shopping before the “traditional” holiday season even begins.

Delivery Speeds

The third trend to look out for in 2017 is faster delivery speeds. We live in a time that is revolved around not having enough of it. We always look for ways to speeden up a process or make things more convenient in our lives. This way of thinking is present in every aspect of our lives, including online shopping. There are many consumers who will pay that extra fee just to have their purchase delivered to them earlier. In fact, a Forrester report states that 29% of consumers would be willing to pay extra for same-day delivery. Many online retailers are beginning to hop onto this trend as we see the rise of drop-off points for online orders to be able to fulfill same-day deliveries. Some businesses that have implemented a same-day delivery system are ASOS, New Look, and Boohoo and have already seen an increase in sales.

User Experience

The fourth trend that is predicted to emerge in 2017 is a top notch mobile experience. I’m sure you have read and heard about the importance of the mobile experience dozens of times in the past and are getting bored of being reminded. Well there is a reason that this trend was constantly focused on in 2016 and is being carried over into 2017. As a whole, but particularly with the younger generations, society is fixated on mobile devices. Whether it be a cell phone or a tablet, more and more consumers are looking to their mobile devices to consume. As mobile devices introduce more modern elements such as larger screens and better search options, consumers are beginning to purchase online rather than in-store in many cases. In order to fully optimize on this opportunity, however, it isn’t enough to simply have a website that is fully-functional on a mobile device. You want to ensure that you utilize the proper developmental techniques to give the mobile user a unique experience. You want to take away the thought of mobile devices having limitations with regards to buying online and give the user the full eCommerce experience through all mediums. We urge you to go into 2017 with the mindset of putting mobile first and you will begin to see the benefits that this emphasis will bring about.

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We seem to be realizing an overall theme when diving into the fifth trend of 2017 that is the increase of digital payment abilities. Many consumers are adopting new methods of payment that don’t involve taking out their wallets. Many mobile payments are conducted through Apple Pay, Amazon Pay, PayPal, or just simply via credit card. New technologies are being introduced, however, to make digital payments expand to even further heights. Not only are companies adopting the idea of contactless payments through mobile apps, such as Starbucks, but consumers will be able to purchase products using other devices outside of their smartphone. For instance, consumers are able to purchase products through various items that are connected and capable of making payments such as watches, rings, fingerprints, or online pin numbers. To some, this may seem a little far-fetched, but as mentioned previously, we live in a time that is centered around convenience. In 2017 it is predicted that almost every customer will expect to be able to purchase an item using their digital wallet in whichever form it may be in; with that said, therefore, it is wise for all merchants to prepare themselves to accept these different forms of payment in order to simplify the buying process for consumers.

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The sixth trend to watch out for in 2017 is the increased use of content and data aggregators. Other than convenience and time being a huge influencer in the online buying process, there is another factor that can prevent the consumer from purchasing. This factor is uncertainty. There is uncertainty in all realms of shopping, but it is particularly prevalent within the eCommerce community as consumers are unable to physically see the product, try it on, etc. Though the majority of users have the option to return products if they are unsatisfied, this uncertainty is so severe that is halts the purchase all-together. So where do users go to try and clear up this uncertainty? Product reviews and client testimonials. In fact, 92% of internet users regularly read product reviews from previous buyers. As a merchant, therefore, the more information you can provide on a product or service will result in a smaller obstacle in the way of purchasing. I know I know… this is much easier said than done. The amount of time and upkeep it takes to constantly refresh product descriptions, images, reviews, demonstrations, etc., is tremendous. This amount of upkeep requires resources that not all businesses have available to them. So what is the solution? In 2017, many eCommerce retailers will begin to utilize data aggregators to their advantage. These aggregators compile data on millions of products such as pictures, descriptions, price comparisons, specifications, UPC codes, reviews, and comments. Some examples of databases that companies are currently utilizing are; TrueFit data aggregator, Etilize product information aggregator, and many more! This is yet another way to simplify the buying process for the consumer through making them feel at ease with detailed product information and current comments that you do not have to exhaust multiple resources to provide!

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The seventh 2017 trend to embrace is the use of predictive analysis. On a day-to-day basis companies gather a tremendous amount of user data that is derived from multiple interactions, customer personas and avatars, entry points, bounce rates, and many others. Though all of this information is extremely helpful and required when analyzing consumer buying habits and preferences, it is a lot of information to go through. Predictive analysis technologies’ usage is growing more and more prominent with merchants. Not only can these technologies accumulate all of the necessary data to better understand consumer buying habits and preferences a lot quicker, but they can even make predictions on consumers’ next purchases. These technologies take all of the acquired data from each user as well as data from consumers who share similar segmentation attributes and profiles to predict future purchasing trends. Not only will this save you time in analyzing all of the data yourself, but it will also help you when planning your campaigns accordingly. For instance, you will be able to efficiently plan and optimize on your email marketing campaigns to help solidify and confirm purchasing trends by communicating with the right people.

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Last but not least, the eighth trend to look out for in 2017 is that of social selling and brand ambassadors. Now, more than ever, brands are seeing the benefit of utilizing social networks for advertising, but doing so in a discrete manner. There of course is the traditional advertising methods for social networks, but what is predicted to be most effective in 2017 is word-of-mouth advertising through social selling. So far we have seen this occur in two main ways. First, companies prompt consumers to be a part of a community by sharing their product or service experiences via social media through pictures or other posts with a designated hashtag. This not only promotes the communal vibe that appeals to other consumers, but it also results in free advertising. Second, companies can be more aggressive with their social selling by hiring a brand ambassador. Brand ambassadors typically make sponsored videos or posts directed at the product or service being advertised that are sometimes paired with incentives for their viewers/followers, such as discount codes. These brand ambassadors are typically individuals that are well-known celebrities or hold some authority in the industry in which the product or service markets to. Though this type of social selling may be more expensive than the first, it may be more effective seeing as the ambassadors are icons or role models whose opinions matter to their followers, thus resulting in a greater impact than that of a viral hashtag. Though this trend may not be feasible or applicable for all businesses to employ, it is one that we will see more of throughout 2017.

This list can go on and on as the amount of eCommerce trends that are introduced into the market grow on a daily basis. The emergence of chatbots, the end of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, faster delivery speeds, top notch mobile experiences, digital payment abilities, data and content aggregators, predictive analysis technologies, and social selling and brand ambassadors, however, seem to be the most prominent in all cases. Whether or not you decide to employ all or any of these trends into your business model, it is beneficial to be aware of what the market has in store for 2017.

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How to Get Your Website Ready for the Holidays

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Well you did it. You survived Black Friday and Cyber Monday! You may feel a huge sense of relief that your site withheld all of the traffic, but it is not time to slow down yet! December is upon us and what does that mean? Holiday shopping! Regardless of what holiday one is shopping for, December has always been the one month of the year where all businesses see the largest sales increases. In eCommerce holiday sales alone, the sales projections are estimated to be approximately $98 billion in 2016. Wouldn’t you want a slice of that pie? I know I do. So how do you go about ensuring a slice? Well here are 7 important elements you should consider looking into if you want your website to be holiday ready!

1. Resolve, or Find, Any Recurring Issues Throughout your Site

These can include anything from cart abandonment issues, security issues, customer service issues, etc. There are different ways you can go about fixing or even finding all of the above, such as;

Be clear about shipping costs as well as total costs right at the beginning so that your customers aren’t surprised at checkout

Offer multiple delivery choices so that users can use their preferred method of payment

In some instances, it may not be best to insist on a customer creating an account to purchase as this may cause them to be a little weary and take their business elsewhere

Update your site’s security software

Test the checkout process multiple times to ensure that the process is simple and there are no issues influencing the user’s ability to purchase

Ensure that your search function is working properly so that customers can find what they are looking for without hassle

Have your company’s contact information, as well as specific department information (if applicable), so that customers can contact you quickly regarding an issue or question – this will help to increase customer satisfaction and eliminate chances of customer service issues arising

2. Maximize your Mobile Optimization

In today’s shopping world, it is a necessity to have a mobile friendly site where users are able to maneuver through and purchase any products using their mobile devices and have just as smooth of an experience as they would if they were on their desktop. In fact, mobile purchases alone made up 28% of all eCommerce sales last holiday season, and that number is expected to increase in 2016! Ways that you can ensure that your site is mobile friendly are;

Test to see if it is responsive across all devices – i.e., all items and categories are visible and easy to find regardless of screen size

If it is responsive, be sure to test whether or not the homepages and category pages aren’t too cluttered so that the consumer can easily navigate throughout the site and not be overwhelmed. One way to de-clutter your site could be to add more white space and margins to make it a bit more pleasing to the eye

Have the text be large enough for users to read on a smaller screen

3. Page Load Speed – Test!!!

I will be the first person to admit that patience is not a virtue that I possess, and that is true for so many consumers! In fact, researchers say that if the page does not load within 3 seconds, 57% of users will abandon the site. That number may seem a bit exaggerated to you, but when you think about it, page load speed is a huge factor that increases overall bounce rates. We live in a society where people are always moving so fast while simultaneously running out of time. Though it may seem outrageous, you have to adjust your site to meet these impatient consumers’ needs. So be sure to test the page load speed of your site as well as all of its category pages and across all devices. You never know, it could make a whole 57% difference in your conversation rates!

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4. Plan your Decor and Merchandising

Getting ready for the holidays can be as simple as getting into the holiday spirit. Just like during Halloween, it is nice to show your customers that you are a fun-loving brand by adjusting to the holiday season. You can connect with your customers through simple means such as adding holiday icons to your e-mail messages, having seasonal colours, music, or imagery throughout your site, or even take it one step further and have holiday-themed merchandise! This of course is only applicable for some businesses as it may not be feasible for certain companies to implement, but having a Christmas-themed Box-Of-The-Month, for example, is one of the ways where you can show that you are in the Christmas spirit with your subscribers. You may also want to take this opportunity to stock up on those products that are your company’s bread and butter. For instance, if you own a clothing and accessories line and boots happen to be your top-seller, particularly around this season, you should ensure that you have more inventory than usual to account for the holiday shopping.

5. Plan your Promotions

There’s no telling that the holiday season brings about immense opportunity for sales; this doesn’t mean, however, that no promotions or marketing tactics need to be employed. If anything, this is when your planning of promotions and marketing is crucial. Think about it, if all of your competitors decide to implement various holiday promotions and you choose not to, customers may draw a blind eye to them and overlook your website. So lay out a detailed marketing plan for this holiday season that includes all aspects; such as, your strategies, what deals and discounts you will provide for which clients, your mediums through which you will reach your target market or how many different platforms you want to use, your budget, etc. The more you plan, the more prepared you will be. When deciding where to position your efforts, you of course want to reach out to as many individuals as possible; with that said, however, it is important to remember that the previous buyers have a high probability of becoming repeat buyers and in doing so requires you to spend $0 in acquisition costs. So be sure to include past clients in all marketing efforts, and maybe even make an entire promotion strictly for them and tell them about it!

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6. Invest in your Advertising

Now that you have put all of this time and energy to plan out your promotions, it is time to tell people about them! Online advertising can be extremely expensive, especially if you are in a competitive market and want to stand out. If you do want to grab the largest slice of pie possible this holiday season, however, it may be worth spending more now, and reaping the benefits later on. Studies show that consumers who use search engines are more likely to convert throughout the holiday season compared to those who do not. Whether this means focusing your efforts on social media marketing, e-mail marketing, or pay-per-click promotions, it is key that you do invest some time in at least one, if not all, so that those individuals searching for you can actually find you amongst the many other businesses that are advertising to them.

7. Prepare for the Post-Holiday Rush

I know, you probably think I am crazy because I am already thinking about what happens after the holiday season is over. When you think about it, however, the days between Christmas and New Year’s, for example, can be just as profitable as those leading up to it. One of the easiest and convenient gifts that some people receive are either gift cards or money in general. So what does that mean? More opportunity for you! So focus your efforts on speaking to the holiday shoppers, but make sure to also include those who are wanting to spend their holiday gifts! A not so positive element to consider when preparing for the post-holiday season is returns. No matter who the person is or what the product is, sometimes people just aren’t 100% satisfied, but that doesn’t mean that the sale has to be completely over! You can create a strategy to deal with these returns in a streamlined way, such as encouraging customers to not purchase something that may be more suited to them and their needs, offering a gift card or store credit, etc. We are not saying to be pushy and refuse to accept a refund, but by having a strategical foundation in place and being prepared, you could offset the amount of returns and even turn them into additional sales!

So there you have it! There are 7 elements to consider when preparing for the holiday season! The holidays may be stressful for some, but take this time to enjoy it and take as much out of it as you can. After all, who wouldn’t want to go into 2017 with some leverage that they gained just from getting into the holiday spirit?

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