Be A Part Of Launches First Season of the “Doing it Big” Podcast Series

Be A Part Of Launches First Season of the “Doing it Big” Podcast Series

TORONTO, Ontario, April 1, 2020 — Be A Part Of, a recognized Canadian BigCommerce development agency, today announced the launch of the first season of the Doing it Big podcast series. Be A Part Of launched the Doing it Big Podcast as another medium to engage our clients, prospects and the community at large around emerging trends and perspectives in eCommerce.

Each week, the Doing it Big podcast hosts & features some of the biggest players in eCommerce & retail, including founders, industry professionals & industry technology partners. The podcast is designed to deliver valuable and actionable insights to online merchants, prospective online merchants, marketing managers, eCommerce managers, and digital agencies alike. Episodes will cover a range of topics, including B2B eCommerce, eCommerce platforms, content management, organic & paid traffic, funding & capital, purchasing behaviour, subscription eCommerce, analytics and growth.

Doing it Big episodes are relatively short, digestible audio experiences designed to educate and inspire Be A Part Of’s growing audiences. The podcast is accessible on all major streaming platforms including Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Stitcher, TuneIn, etc.

“With the variety of podcasts available today, it can be difficult to find one that captures my attention and has me wanting more — the Doing it Big podcast accomplished both by offering high-value content in an easily-digestible format,” said Daniel Fertig, Global Director of Agency Partnerships at BigCommerce. “I love that a single episode may span five different eCommerce topics because it maintains relevance for the entire audience while offering something unique for everyone, regardless of whether you are an industry veteran or just prepping to open your first store. If you’re looking for actionable industry insights, Doing it Big is worth a listen.”

About Be A Part Of

Be A Part Of is a Toronto-based team of BigCommerce gurus focused on building digital solutions for growing B2C, B2B & DTC companies who sell online, including the likes of Procter & Gamble, Unilever, Ben & Jerry’s, Grupo Bimbo, ADP, Nelson, the OKC Thunder, Umbra and many more. We are located at 210–200 Yorkland Blvd, North York, Ontario. To learn more about Be A Part Of, please visit www.beapartof.com.
Not sure which platform to use to build your website? Here’s why BigCommerce could be right for you!

Not sure which platform to use to build your website? Here’s why BigCommerce could be right for you!

eCommerce is having a huge effect on people’s buying habits and transforming a lot of different industries! As the world becomes more digital, selecting an eCommerce platform to build a website for your business has become the equivalent of selecting a location for your brick and mortar store …. really important!

When building their online stores, a lot of businesses are opting to select an eCommerce platform rather than building a custom website from the ground up.

When you think about it, it’s kind of like wanting a new house .. you have the option of building everything from the ground up, which is possible but also a big hassle and a path full of inevitable problems … or you can delegate that task to a company that has a lot of experience building houses, and you can collaborate with them on the way you want it to be … and face much less problems than you would on your own!

Ok, that make a lot of sense …

But how do i know which eCommerce platform to use?

Just like people are diverse and want different things when customizing their new home, the same applies for businesses! Each business is unique and has different needs and requirements.

As a business owner looking to create or update your website through an eCommerce platform, you would need to have a clear idea about the answers to these questions:

  • What are my business needs?
  • What are my sales cycles like?
  • What is my forecast for growth over the next few years?
  • What are my product details?
  • Who am I selling to?
  • What is my budget?

This will make things easy and a lot smoother between you and the developers at the eCommerce platform you end up choosing.

When it comes to eCommerce platforms, there are some good choices out there … and it can be difficult to find the one most suitable for you. If you’re still unsure about which one you’d like to select, here are a few reasons why BigCommerce could be the right platform for you:

Complex Product Variation Options

Most eCommerce platforms provide the basic product options, for example small, medium, or large sizes … etc. This is great, and would suit a lot of businesses selling physical or different category level products.

But what about the companies that need product options that are a bit more complex?

Take Henna Caravan for example. A small company selling home made henna. The owner learned to code and built the website for her company and business was good, but her website was a factor limiting the growth of the company. Henna Caravan needed something more complex: a platform that would be able to host both an eCommerce site, as well as a robust content site that would allow them to educate the market!

Their Henna product could come in paste or powder form, and each form would have the possibility of having different flavours. Each of these had a different price point despite the product in the end being the same. And of course for every option there needed to be information on:

  • Product
  • Ingredients
  • Storage
  • How to use

Step in BigCommerce!

After working with BigCommerce to realize their business vision and potential, Henna Caravan experienced 2X the industry conversion rate on their site and a 33% increase in revenue driven by the new informative product pages through SEO.

“BigCommerce was the only eCommerce platform for a business of our size that allowed for product variant customization in a complex way, and that contained both an eCommerce solution as well as content pages that could serve as a CMS” Carissa McQueen, CMO of Henna Caravan

Number of SKUs & Complex Shipping Structure

A lot of businesses don’t need more than a few thousand SKUs (Stock keeping unit: product/service identification code), and a basic shipping structure that would suit their needs.

But there are other businesses that need SKUs in the millions! And those that have a very complicated shipping structure … a basic one for their eCommerce website just wouldn’t cut it!

Vinyl Express was a Dutch brick-and-mortar that turned into an online eCommerce powerhouse. They are considered one of the companies that are bridging the IT gap between boutique record stores all across the world!

They needed a platform that could support their current 1.17M SKUs that will just keep growing in the future. Most platforms can only support SKUs in the tens of thousands, which definitely wasn’t enough for Vinyl Express!

They also had a very complicated shipping structure. They operate in 5 different countries, with suppliers all over the world! Some send the records to them first and then they mail the order to clients, while others send the records straight to the customers.

All these suppliers:

  • Use different carriers
  • Operate with different delivery times
  • Have different shipping costs
  • Use different currencies
  • Have different import, export and tax rules that apply to them

… so you can imagine how complex the shipping needs are!

After considering the different options they had, they opted to choose BigCommerce as their platform.

“Right now, we have a catalog of 1.5 million records. That’s pretty big, but in two months it will be 2.3 or 2.4 million. Our large catalog is one of the main reasons we chose BigCommerce.” Rogier van Genugten, CEO at Vinyl Express

Mobile Optimization & Website Loading Speed

Different businesses attract different types of customers. And these customers have different buying habits. Some like to use their desktops/laptops for their online business …. While others prefer to use mobile devices like phones and tablets.

Brandon Chatham, the founder and CEO of NatoMounts had some very specific needs for his business, and BigCommerce helped him and his company achieve their goals!

NatoMounts is a company that specializes in smart mounts for mobile devices. The majority of their traffic (90%) and online sales (85%) come from mobile devices. BigCommerce understood this and worked with NatoMounts to develop an eCommerce website optimized to those specific needs!

“The whole experience from landing on the site to checking-out has got to take a minute or less. Our goal is to have them order as much as possible, as quickly as possible. BigCommerce’s integrations with one-click payment systems and the platform’s optimized single-page checkout helps me do just that.” Brandon Chatham, Founder and CEO of NatoMounts

After working with BigCommerce, the time came to test before launch and see the results of all the hard work from both parties …. they tested mobile optimization and were able to get a new visitor on the site, select a product and checkout in a total of 43 seconds! Exactly what NatoMounts was looking to achieve!

Speed of Delivery

Working with the wrong eCommerce platform and developers that don’t fully understand your needs can mean missed deadlines and spending a lot more money than you should!

BigCommerce is known for delivering on time and within budget.

Let’s take a look at the case of Bulk Apothecary. They were founded in 2010 and specialize in selling natural ingredients and essential oils. They have over 9000 product SKUs that are sold from retail sizes up to full truckloads.

They wanted to have their own website that is reliable, able to support aggressive revenue goals and enable the business to continue growing rapidly online.

At first, they chose a platform other than BigCommerce. It wasn’t the greatest choice they made …. It took 10 months and tens of thousands of dollars to have a site that:

  • Was full of glitches
  • Required daily maintenance
  • Still needed more custom development work
  • Had licensing and hosting fees

Not only did this have a negative impact on their rate of growth, but they were fighting to keep the company alive!

They finally decided to pull the plug on the project with the platform and started searching for alternatives to try and save their business. And that is where BigCommerce came to the rescue.

They opted to move their business to BigCommerce Enterprise. The storefront was replicated on the platform in only 4 weeks!

They moved to BigCommerce Enterprise during their slowest selling season to limit impact on the business. “We expected to see a modest dip in revenue due to seasonality, but since switching our online sales are up 15-20%” Gary Pellegrino Jr., President of Bulk Apothecary

Other benefits Bulk Apothecary got from switching to BigCommerce:

  • 10% increase in conversions
  • $50K+ saved on hosting and licensing
  • 20% of abandoned cart revenue recovered

If your business isn’t that complicated, choosing a platform shouldn’t be that difficult. Any of the available platforms would probably be able to cater to the needs of your business.

If your business is a bit more complex however, or it’s growing at a very fast pace … you might need a platform that allows a bit more complexity and customization than the norm, and BigCommerce is the right choice for you!

Find an eCommerce expert or agency to help you with your eCommerce project.

 

17 tips on growing your online business without spending tonnes of cash!

17 tips on growing your online business without spending tonnes of cash!

Whether you’re a small startup just venturing into the eCommerce world, or a big established player that has achieved millions in sales online … one of your main goals is to increase and keep sales coming! Contrary to belief, increasing your online sales doesn’t always mean that you will have to splash out a lot of cash. There are many ways to help achieve that goal spending little or nothing at all! In this article we will focus on some tips and tricks you could be applying to your business to increase sales without spending too much.

1. One core product/service

If you sell a diverse range of products or services through your website, it’s highly recommended to test whether this is the best strategy for growing your online business. Selling too many products in one place doesn’t give room for copy describing them and addressing questions potential customers might have. However if you’re able to offer fewer products or services in one place and provide enough information on each, this will almost always translate into a higher amount of sales!

2. Opt-in offer

This is a very important step for any business big or small. If you’re not already doing this, you’re probably missing out on A LOT of sales! Your opt-in offer is the tool you use to collect emails to be added to your list of subscribers. This list will then be used to send them emails containing useful information and special offers. By doing this you will be establishing a relationship of trust and loyalty with your potential customers and in turn this will boost your sales!

3. Headline optimization

Whether it’s for your blog, sales letter or just copy somewhere on your website … the headline you use will have a bigger impact on your sales than you think! It’s usually the first thing your visitor will see, so it needs to be attention-grabbing in order to convince them to keep reading on. A successful headline would normally highlight a problem that your readers are facing, and stress the main benefit that your product or service has in solving the issue.

4. Infographics

If you haven’t already noticed, there has been an increase in infographic usage on the internet over the past few years. The reason behind this is that it’s a fun, clever way to display bits of information that is very easy for the reader to digest. If you are looking to boost your online sales, using infographics where appropriate is definitely going to help you do that! They will help increase incoming traffic to your site and in turn that will mean more conversions! Not only that, they will also provide you with high value backlinks that will play in your favour when it comes to SEO.

5. Cross-selling

If a person bought one or more of your products from your site, that means they’ve invested time and attention in your brand. They chose you over your competitors to provide them with the solution to their needs, and this only means that they are very likely to buy from you again. If you have any other products or services that would compliment the purchases your customer has already made, you need to take advantage of that and try to cross-sell to them. This has proven to be a very effective method for increasing sales!

6. Video tutorials

This tip is one of the most effective ways of increasing your sales organically without paying a lot of money! Create video tutorials showing how to use your product or containing information you know your audience would value. The more views these videos will generate, the more business you will get. Not only will this create a connection with your audience, but it will serve as an educational tool to promote your product or brand! However, this isn’t the most optimal of strategies for all businesses. If you’re providing a product that isn’t as visual, you can turn to increasing sales through other means like articles, podcasts, etc.

7. Payment options

People are very diverse in their preferences. That means in their preferred methods of payment as well. If you want your visitors to be converting more, you need to make the purchasing process smooth and easy. One of the ways you can do this is to have different payment options (Google Wallet, Apple Pay, credit cards, etc.). This will make it easier for your prospecting customers to give you their money!

8. Image quality

You are presented with two menus and you’re asked to order food from one of them. One of the menus has really nice pictures of well presented food, while the other has fuzzy pictures that aren’t as good looking. Chances are you will most likely order from the one with nicer pictures, even though the food from the other menu could be better. As humans we are naturally drawn to things that are beautiful. The more beautiful and well presented your products look in pictures on your site, the more likely people will buy from you! Hire a professional, or purchase the necessary equipment and have one of your creatives take some great photos for your products … you sales numbers should start rising.

9. Consider "scanners"

Not everyone likes to read all copy they come across on the internet. In fact most people scan through what they find until they reach something that grabs their attention or information they are looking for, then they stop to read. If you have a blog or copy on your website, you need to take this into consideration. While providing a lot of detail about a certain topic or product description is good, instead of having it in big blocks of information … try to break it down into smaller more digestible parts, each with it’s own title or header. Make it easier for them to find the information they are looking for, and in turn this will help increase your sales!

10. Smooth checkout

This is a very important point that a lot of companies surprisingly still don’t understand! A complicated checkout process that requires too much information or has too many steps that take too long will most probably result in an abandoned cart. By making the checkout process very easy and smooth with as few steps as possible, you are almost guaranteed to see higher levels of conversion! This is one of the most important parts of your site, it’s where people convert and you make money! So it’s only natural that the easier the process is, the higher number of conversions you’ll have. To do this you will need to eliminate any unnecessary steps in the process. Make it as quick and easy as possible!

11. Mobile optimization

In a world of quick fixes and instant results, people’s habits are changing. A few years back, almost all online shopping was from computers … but now this is changing and more and more people are starting to shop from mobile devices like phones and tablets. If your website isn’t optimized to these devices, the visitor experience will be very bad and they will abandon your site all together and take their business elsewhere! If you’re looking to boost your sales, you need to make sure that your website is optimized for all devices, or even have a special version for each one. The better experience you give and easier you make it for your visitors to convert, they will!

12. Trust icons

Many online shoppers are worried about the safety of their information. A worried potential customer is one that is reluctant to buy. To reassure them, having trust icons that link to descriptions of all the security measures on your site will go a long way in making them feel a lot more comfortable buying from you! One of the best places to have this is on the checkout page.

13. Re-marketing

This is one of the most effective marketing strategies today. If you’re not using it, you need to seriously rethink your strategy. By not using re-marketing you are basically relying on visitors converting from the first time they visit your site, which rarely happens! Re-marketing will keep your brand on the minds of potential customers and give them several additional opportunities for conversion later on. This strategy will definitely help you boost your online sales.

14. Follow-up email

One mistake a lot of companies make is not following up with customers after they make a purchase. This is really bad for customer retention. This sends a message that you only care about getting their money and not about the customers themselves. By sending a follow-up email you can check in to make sure the quality of the product/service was as expected, you can ask them to get in touch with you if they have any concerns, questions or complaints. This will show that you care about their experience, could be a source for some very valuable feedback that will help you do your business better and it will help you stay top-of-mind with all the customers that have purchased from you. All these factors are almost guaranteed to help turn them into returning customers and increase your sales!

15. Social media listening

Social media listening is an effective way to increase your sales. Monitor conversations about your business online to see what people are saying about your brand and products/services. By doing this you will be able to identify the most common issues or complaints some of your customers might have and fix them accordingly. Some companies even take social listening a step further and listen to conversations about their competitors as well waiting to dive in and help any unsatisfied customers. All this means more sales and more money in your pocket!

16. Social media engagement

Sometimes on social media potential customers visit your page and begin to ask questions about the product/service you provide. By answering their questions honestly and giving them the information they’re searching for, this shows them and others that you care about customers and make time to give them the attention they need. This will build trust and in turn your sales will jump in numbers!

17. Loyalty & rewards programs

Let’s face it, we all like free stuff! By having a good loyalty and rewards program in place you will be encouraging your customers to come back and buy from you again. Free shipping, discounts, add-ons and small gifts are some of many benefits that customers can get through these programs. The more they buy from you and collect points, the more loyal they will become and help increase your sales!
If you take these tips into consideration and optimize them for your business, you will surely see a spike in sales without splashing out a lot of money. Some may work better for companies than others, but all in all they definitely will help you improve efficiency and capture sales that you were missing out on! That said .. don’t try to apply them all at once and measure how much your sales have increased. In order to better understand what works best for you and your business and become even more efficient in the future, it’s recommended that you apply one at a time and measure the rate of it’s success. Each business is unique and will have a different outcome.
6 questions to ask yourself before building your eCommerce website, so you don’t make the same mistakes your competitors are!

6 questions to ask yourself before building your eCommerce website, so you don’t make the same mistakes your competitors are!

As the years go by, online shopping continues to grow at a staggering rate! People are shopping online from their laptops, computers, mobile phones, tablets … and it’s not showing any signs of slowing down! With this rate of growth, companies are moving their businesses online and the demand for building eCommerce website just keeps increasing. Being a part of a project to build an eCommerce website is very exciting to say the least. Whether you are the business owner or on the development side, there is a certain feeling you get when starting work on this kind of project. You push to solve design and functionality problems that will develop the end product in an original work that all parties can be proud of! Building an eCommerce platform is not a project to be taken lightly though. It needs proper preparations or things can go wrong really fast! Before you move forward with building your website, there are a few key questions you should ask yourself in order to develop a great foundation for working with the development team.

Question 1: What am I selling?

This is the bread and butter of your business. Whether you are selling a handful or ten thousand … you need to know the products inside and out! Are you selling shoes? What are the brands, styles, sizes, colours, weight, materials, etc.? Are you selling digital music albums? What are the genres, file sizes, file formats? Who are the artists? Etc. This information will be crucial when the time comes to start building your website. It will determine things like how the products can be displayed, what categories to have, the different search functions that are going to be available, and so on. Using this information, and based on their previous experience, maybe the developer you’ll be working with can come up with a unique feature or way of searching/showing the products on your site that you’ve never even thought of before! You will need to have the answer for this question on lock-down before beginning any kind of work on developing your eCommerce website!

Question 2: Who will I be selling my products to?

Take the time to understand who your customers are. You will need to ask yourself some questions like:
  • What age are my customers? Gender?
  • What is the average income level?
  • What are their purchasing habits?
  • What is their general lifestyle like?
  • How do they talk / do they use certain words/slang?
… and so on. Knowing all these details about your customers/target audience will prove invaluable when deciding on the design and content of the website. Let’s say that you’re selling products for old people (aged 60+). This piece of information alone will probably let you know that you need to have slightly larger than normal text on your website as a lot of people above that age tend to have poorer eyesight. You know that the copy should not have any slang terms, as older generations might not be in touch with or understand it’s meaning. For steps like registration and checkout you will need to spell everything out and make sure you are extra clear (maybe even with small video examples or pictures showing how) because they’re probably not very tech savvy! Regardless of how you design your website in the end, there will always be people that love it and those that hate it … because in the end we are all diverse and have different tastes. But by having a strong answer to this question, you will ensure that the website you and the developers design will attract the audience that you are targeting!

Question 3: Who will be responsible for product photos and copy?

Photos:

An eCommerce website that is well designed is meaningless if the product photos aren’t up to standard. When you pick up a catalog and start flipping page after page looking at all the beautiful, well presented products … you can’t help but feel an emotional connection to what you’ve seen. In your mind you’ve chosen a couple of favourites and even though you might not be looking to buy, you know which one you would choose if you were! You want your audience to feel that kind of connection with your products, and poor quality images won’t achieve that. In order to prepare for your eCommerce website, it would be a good idea to already know who will be taking the product pictures for you or even have them ready! You don’t want to be that website owner that has their website launch on hold while they scramble to find or make good photos of the products! This will add an unnecessary amount of stress both on you and the developers. Having these photos ready beforehand could even give the designer some creative ideas on how to display them on the website!

Copy:

Just like the pictures of your products are important, the copy that describes them is also important. The person responsible for this role should be someone who is well aware of who your audience is (2nd question). You don’t want someone writing copy suitable for someone their young age to an audience of people over 60! They need to understand who they are writing for, understand what they like, how they talk, points of interest for them, etc. The earlier you know who will be responsible for writing the copy, the better. This way they can coordinate with the developers on the length of copy for each section or product description and how it will be displayed!

Question 4: What is my marketing strategy going to be?

What good is an eCommerce website that is very well designed, has some really high quality pictures of products and good copy all across, if no one is going to visit it?! This is probably the most important of all the questions to ask yourself! How you set your marketing strategy will determine which potential customers you will attract to your new website. Marketing your eCommerce website efficiently will do wonders for it on the long run! You will need to focus on things like:
  • Good content
  • Marketing on social media
  • Proper SEO tactics
  • Email marketing
  • Offline marketing
If you don’t think about these different aspects of marketing before you start developing your website, you might reach a point where it has launched and you’re still struggling to get any return on investment. Be prepared! Thinking the marketing strategy through a bit in advance will help you have everything in place once the website launches so you can start making returns on your investment asap!

Question 5: How will I secure my website?

As the owner of an eCommerce website you will be responsible for handling a lot of sensitive information for your clients (credit card info, full name and address, etc.). There are rules and regulations for security compliance that you must follow. If these rules aren’t carefully taken into consideration when building your site it can result in some serious fines and your company’s reputation will suffer a HUGE blow! In order to be prepared, read up on all the rules and regulations so you have an idea of what needs to be done. This will prove very helpful when starting development on your site, if for any reason the developer oversees or misses one of the security rules, you can save your company’s reputation and money by identifying what needs to be done before launch!

Question 6: How will I ship the products?

Having the answer to this question before development is vital. Depending on how you want to apply it, the process of integrating the shipping section into the eCommerce website will vary in complexity! Are your products  going to be integrated with a shipping vendor? All of a sudden things just got a bit more complicated when developing the site! And not to say that complicated is unachievable or bad, but knowing the answer to these types of questions will help identify what the website needs to be like early on. Maybe you’d like to have your own set of shipping rules where if a customer orders over X amount of products in one order, they will get a certain discount on shipping or even for free. Implementing that into your eCommerce website will be different than applying a standard shipping method. Think about this in advance and when the time comes, speak to your developer about it and let them know exactly how you’d like your shipping system to be applied … by doing this you will be on the same page and squeeze out most room for misunderstandings and errors!

Now that we’ve gone through the 6 most vital questions to ask before developing your site, make sure you really take the time to think them through.

A lot of companies underestimate the importance of planning and thinking ahead on these core issues and think that they’ll figure it out as they move along and save some time. But in the end they find themselves splashing out way more money, having delayed launches, or things get really complicated further into the development of the site because there wasn’t proper communication from the start.

Find an eCommerce expert or agency to help you with your eCommerce website project.

 

Everything You Need to Know About Facebook Targeting

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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What B2B Brands Know About Shopify’s Checkout That You Don’t

Having worked in ecommerce for 13 years, one of the most common questions I am asked is, ‘What platform do you recommend for online businesses?’

Anyone that appreciates the nuanced differences between businesses knows there is no ‘sure thing’ answer to this question.

But in recent years, my response has become this:

Generally speaking, if you want to sell something very simply to friends and family members, go to Shopify. If you have, or aspire to have, a successful, long-term business, then BigCommerce is the better choice.

That’s a strong statement, I know, but I have the data and information to back it up.

Be a Part Of works with B2B businesses looking to take advantage of the $6.7 billion predicted B2B online market. I talk to businesses pulling in upward of $20 million through their wholesale and B2B partnerships –– and I help them find the right solution for their specific needs to get online and better streamline their business for the future.  

The number one reason why I recommended BigCommerce to the vast majority of those customers who are considering SaaS comes down to extensibility and customization power at checkout.

Why Checkout –– The Last Impression –– Matters

The best e-commerce websites allow customers to fall in love with a brand and its products.

For this reason, retailers largely understand that homepage and product page design is critical to driving conversion. After all, this is your customer’s first impression of your business, and your first opportunity to convince them to stay, browse, and buy.

But when it comes to buying, a retailer’s checkout far surpasses any other element of the website in terms of importance.

This is the time when you — unknown retailer — present risk to the consumer.

There is a reason that 7 out of 10 shopping carts are abandoned. 20+ years after the advent of e-commerce consumers are still wary of providing sensitive information such as credit card details unless a retailer can prove that it is trustworthy, secure and worthy of the sale.

In my opinion, one of the most important things retailers can do to establish this trust it to keep customers on their domain through the entirety of the shopping experience.

Unfortunately, this is not possible on Shopify, unless you move up to Shopify Plus, their most expensive plan.

BigCommerce customers also follow a similar flow to the above unless they purchase their own dedicated SSL. The difference is that you can purchase your own SSL through any plan level on BigCommerce –– and can only do so on Shopify when you buy into Plus.

Update: BigCommerce now provides a free SSL to all stores on all plan types, meaning someone paying BigCommerce $30 per month gets a feature that Shopify only makes available to customers spending $2,000+ per month.

Checkout Matters Most to B2B + High AOV Brands

It’s surprisingly common to hear B2C retailers often don’t fully appreciate the impact of their checkout design and it’s functionality, but this is not the case in the B2B industry –– where complexity looms large and higher average order values are the norm.

I’d imagine that for any retailer, no matter their audience, the higher your cart ticket price is, the more likely a third-party checkout page or a shared checkout experience is going to scare off your customers. And when that happens, what exactly do you think will happen?

That’s right. They’ll go to the competitor.

Can you afford to make that mistake?

A Deeper Dive Into Checkout Differentiations and ERP Integrations

Let’s look a little deeper at this issue. I’ll use Recurring Billing to show the lack of customization.

While many B2C retailers thinking of recurring billing in terms of subscription boxes, for B2B brands, recurring billing provides an efficient workflow for B2B customers who need to re-order product on a predictable cadence.

This means less paperwork and more goods and services.

Currently, there are no apps in the Shopify Marketplace that will allow you install recurring or subscription billing and use your own checkout.

Bold Commerce, for instance, is one of the companies that offers a recurring billing app, and here is how that process works on a live site.

You go from the store’s cart URL here:

This is how all the apps in Shopify’s recurring billing marketplace work –– each takes your customer to a third-party checkout URL. For small order volumes, this might be OK, but how will your customers feel for orders that surpass $1,000?

Here is an example of BigCommerce’s recurring billing workflow.

Here you are on the domain at the cart level:

This native checkout flow makes it incredibly easily to have card-on-file so you can run refunds via a token –– for instance. This native feature also makes ERP integrations work much more efficiently.

For instance, a lot of our B2B clients want to be able to put credit cards into their ERP or be able to charge from their ERP system so that the CSRs can handle refunds or reconciliation.

Whatever the case, they need to be able to have that data go from the ecommerce platform to their ERP or OMS. Shopify’s jump-off point makes that impossible.

It is the small conveniences like this that win B2B businesses. These organizations are light on marketing, and heavy on product development and production. They do not need additional paperwork or workarounds. Online commerce is supposed to solve that for them –– not add new steps to the process.

It is that type of detail BigCommerce has built-in that makes me trust their vision for the future over Shopify’s, and that is winning them all of my B2B business. 

Find an eCommerce expert or agency to help you with your eCommerce project.

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

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.

Find an eCommerce expert or agency to help you with your subscription eCommerce project.

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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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