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Ecommerce Blog - Fortune3

Why Tell a Compelling Company Story?

telling-a-good-brand-story-image-fortune3Think of some of the leading brands in the US marketplace, like Nike and Apple.

Why do they engage consumers so much better than other companies? Why is Nike worth more than $93 billion? Why does Apple have more cash than Google and Microsoft combined, and several times more cash than the US Treasury?

The discussion could go on for hours. But for now, one  reason is both company’s ability to tell compelling stories.

One says “Just Do It,” and the other “Think Different.” Both are highly successful in consistently charging prices well above the market average for their products.

They simply have engaging stories that captivate the consumer’s mind more than almost every other company.

Let’s take a look at both and why they work in detail:

1. “Just Do It”

For pro athletes, and even just the common person, this brand slogan resonates so well. Because, in part, it speaks to their market’s mentality: competitiveness and taking action.

And you know the commercials: famous pro athletes are always sweating, striving, and working out intensely. What an engaging story.

2. “Think Different”

No company has done a better job of positioning the quality of its products in consumer’s minds than Apple. Over time, even though it often hasn’t been the inventor of many products it’s known for, Apple has taken ownership of many products because they’re “different.”

The Macintosh is known as a quality, high-end personal computer. It has a simple design. But Macs have traditionally been used for high-end work, and especially graphic design. They’re thought of, including by Windows users, as “top-of-the-line.”

The same goes for smartphones. Though IBM released the “Ericsson” in 2000, Apple first popularized the smartphone.

When you think of smartphones today, do you first think of Androids or iPhones?

Yes indeed, Apple does successfully position its products as “different” and “better” than most.

Why Come Up with Engaging Brand Stories Like These Anyway?

When it comes to marketing, most e-commerce companies focus on “SEO.” That’s a tactic, not a strategy. And while it’s definitely something you need to do, you need a high-level brand story that really drives your marketing strategy (but only if you want explosive growth).

Because, when you have that, word about your business, products, and services spreads far and wide. Then, you get “free SEO” because people are happy to link to and talk about your company.

Psychologically speaking, stories are the most powerful way to engage consumers. Think of them as your “secret weapon” for slipping by your consumer’s resistance to buying.

Yes, it’s hard to find a story that resonates with your consumer and works to an extreme degree like “Just Do It” or “Think Different.” But, it’s well worth it. And it could make growing your business almost effortless.

So what story could resonate with your ideal customers?

Posted in Ecommerce Essentials & Tips, eMail Marketing, Online Marketing Strategies

How to Sell More with Mobile Marketing

fortune3-mobile-marketing-image.jpgWith more people in the US using their smartphones for research and purchasing than ever before, you have a huge opportunity in mobile marketing. But a lot of companies still struggle to capitalize on this.

What works today? What doesn’t?

Find out some of the latest ideas and insights so you can formulate your own mobile marketing strategy:

1. Texting Works

We’ve talked about e-mail marketing on this blog before. It’s your highest-ROI marketing channel by far. Nothing else even comes close.

That holds true when you use e-mail marketing over mobile devices too.

The Oracle blog quotes Visual.ly as saying e-mail open rates in general are 4.2%. But for texting, they shoot up to 19%.

With texts, remember that they’re intended to be very personal. When you get customers to subscribe to text alerts, make sure you get their first name too so you can insert it into texts.

And above all, make sure the text alerts are useful and relevant to your market.

2. Consider a Seasonal Texting Program

Starbucks, for example, offers special SMS programs around Christmas and New Year’s. What holiday at your business is most relevant to your audience?

Identify and create a texting campaign around it.

3. People Love to Express and Share Themselves Through Mobile

Have you ever gone clothes shopping with your wife or daughter? What does one or both do when they try on new outfits? They send a picture text to their closest friends to get feedback on how they look.

You can also think of Coke, which did the Share-a-Coke Selfie campaign.

How could you make your product quickly and easily shared through mobile in a similar way?

4. Let Customers Customize Their Products

If you want to charge high margins, this is a great route to go. In China, Nike let customers take a picture of colors they wanted on a shoe. Then, they got a shoe in those colors.

Not too many things excite customers more than their own unique products. All you’d have to do is ask them to share their experience via mobile with their friends and family as soon as they get the shoe.

Nearly guaranteed great engagement there.

5. Make Sure Everything Works for Thumb Navigation

You may need separate websites for mobile and desktop users. Yes, the experience is that different. It’s something to strongly consider doing anyway.

To check to see if any part of your site isn’t useful for mobile users, simply use Google’s Mobile-Friendly test.

Does mobile marketing work? Absolutely. However, marketers are still getting a grasp on exactly what works. And that means it’s your opportunity to grab some market share.

Posted in Ecommerce Essentials & Tips, eMail Marketing, mCommerce, Online Marketing Strategies

How to Make Autoresponders Your Next B2C Marketing Weapon

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Do you have an autoresponder series?

Not too many companies do autoresponders. Don’t ask me why. Perhaps they don’t understand the value of autoresponders yet. Or perhaps digital marketing’s so new they simply have thought about it.

In any case, it’s a huge opportunity for you to build a strong relationship with your customer nearly immediately. That impression lasts a long, long time, and can result in a number of other sales and referrals.

How do you make autoresponders work? Some ideas:

1. Do Something Like “5 Days of Deals” for All New List Subscribers

Say someone subscribes to your list. For each of the 5 next days, send them a discount code for them to use how they’d like in your store.

Think of how well that will go over with them.

2. Run a Pre-Holiday Campaign

Leading up to Christmas, you could d0 “12 Days of Deals” too. Feature a discount on a product, or group of products each day.

You’ll have to think of how to structure the series. But you get the point.

3. Offer a Series on How to Get More from a Product Your Customer Buys

For example, say they buy a mixer. On day 1, you show customers the simple functions. On day 2, you show them more sophisticated functions. On day 3, you give them tips and techniques for doing what they want to do better and faster.

On day 4, you show them some hidden uses. And on day 5, you show them how to store and maintain their mixer so it lasts a long time.

That’s just an example to help you understand how an autoresponder series could work for a certain product. You know your products best, so simply customize your series to meet your customer’s needs.

3 Key Points to Make Autoresponders Successful

1. Each E-mail Should be Brief

How do you know when you’re “brief?” 200 words per autoresponder…that’s it.

2. Each E-mail Should be Useful

As soon as your customer finishes reading your e-mail, they should be able to do something new with their product.

It doesn’t need to be a big thing. It just needs to be something they can put to use.

3. Build up Excitement for the Last E-mail

If you create a longer series, like 7-10 parts, how do you keep your customers reading until the last one?

By being useful in each e-mail, many will stay for the entire series. But, if you can tell them they get a “special bonus” tip, or “hidden” tip in the last e-mail, even more will stay.

Autoresponders are a great way to build lists, warm up the relationship, and keep more customers long-term. If you don’t have one already, consider making one.

Posted in Ecommerce Essentials & Tips, eMail Marketing, Online Marketing Strategies

Which E-mail Marketing Metrics Should You Care About?

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Which e-mail marketing metrics do you track?

2016 seems to be the “year of e-mail,” if you believe what everyone’s saying out there. There’s no doubt that e-mail marketing has an amazing ROI over time. Companies see in the hundreds, or even in the thousands of percent in ROI.

So it is effective. And you hear all kinds of chatter about what e-mail marketing metrics you should pay attention to. Rather than list to all the chatter, read these tips for what you really need to know:

 

1. Subscriber Count

This metric gets abused badly. You hear people bragging about the size of their list all the time. In practical terms, it’s similar to how much you can drink at the bar. In other words…meaningless!

The only thing you should care about in your subscriber count is that you have the right subscribers on your list. Know exactly who your customer is. Create free content they can get when they join your list.

And only care when that person subscribes. When the wrong person unsubscribes, cheer!

2. Open Rate

You should care about this one. It tells you how attractive your e-mail subject lines are. You learn how much your audience cares about what you have to say.

Good things to know. A good open rate? Around 20%. The best e-mails in the world get about a 40% open rate. Don’t hold yourself to 40% – that’s super difficult to do. But if you can get around 20%, you’re doing pretty well.

3. Clicks

Of course, this is another big one. “Clicks” refers to how many people click your links that you send in your e-mails.

So that number’s going to have a lot to do with your sales.

4. On-Site Time

This one you won’t find in your e-mail service. It’s actually in Google Analytics. Just go to “Acquisition –> All Traffic –> Referrals.”

For me on one of my websites, my list is by far the best source of traffic. I have a 14.29% bounce rate and an astonishing average session duration of 20 minutes, 6 seconds from all my list traffic!

You’ll want to know that metric for sure.

5. Conversions

Of course, this is the one you really care about: how many additional sales you get from your e-mails. Your e-mail marketing service doesn’t track this.

Unfortunately, this one isn’t easy to do. Have your developer do it. Or, call your e-mail marketing service for help on how to do it. You can Google it too, if you don’t stumbling through the process on your own.

Anyway, those are the e-mail marketing metrics you should care about.

Posted in Ecommerce Essentials & Tips, eMail Marketing, Online Marketing Strategies

Win More Sales from Your Newsletters with This Simple Example

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Your e-mail marketing messages can sell more!

Almost every new e-commerce business has a newsletter.

And they do it completely wrong.

With most…you see pictures of the products in all their glory.

That’s a good start (versus no newsletter at all).

But, if you track the sales you get from that, you’ll realize your sales are low. Or worse yet, nonexistent!

Mastering newsletter sales takes some time. You won’t master yours for many years, most likely.

But you can turboboost your results nearly immediately by learning from a company who knocks it out of the park every time.

What Kohl’s Does that Works

If you’re not familiar with Kohl’s, they’re a Wisconsin-headquartered clothing retailer that targets middle-class families. They carry other items too, like household decorations, toys, cookware, and jewelry.

But most consumers shop there for the clothing.

Anyway, I subscribe to an awful lot of e-mail newsletters. And they’re one B2C company that gets newsletters right.

Need ideas for subject lines that get more sales? Here’s a screenshot of my inbox with their e-mails:

Kohl's e-mail subject lines get them lots of sales.

Save that screenshot to your hard drive. Keep it with you for the rest of your e-commerce career. And model those e-mails when you write your own.

I guarantee you will get good sales rates when you follow Kohl’s model.

Let’s Take a Look at a Typical Kohl’s E-mail

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First, Kohl’s warms up this particular e-mail with a couple coupons.

Now that’s pretty nice for those that open it. Instead of seeing products, they get a nice little gift just for opening the e-mail.

That’s an effective way to start off any marketing message!

These aren’t particularly big deals. But those who shop at Kohl’s know the company offers routine 15%, 20%, and 30% off sales.

So getting 20% off is a nice boost, slightly up from the minimum they give everyone.

2. Next, You See Products – And the Deals Available on Them

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It’s important to have pictures of your products in your marketing e-mails. A visual helps your customers buy.

But here, Kohl’s again first offers a deal to get you to click through to their website.

50-60% off bath towels and rugs?

Cool!

Lots of people are going to want to take a look.

The same for comforters and KitchenAid equipment.

I can’t tell you exactly what kinds of sales rates Kohl’s gets. But they get much better rates than companies that simply show their product offering in all its beauty.

And as with anything, you have to test what works with your audience. But now, you at least know the overall right direction to go in.

Posted in Ecommerce Essentials & Tips, eMail Marketing, How To, Online Marketing Strategies

4 Rapid E-mail List Building Techniques The Pros Use

fortune3-mailing-list-imageYour e-mail newsletter? That’s like marketing gold.

Your newsletter subscribers are your best customers. They want what you have and buy from you over and over again for years.

But how do you get them in the first place? And who wants to build a list at a glacial rate that takes years?

You want to grow your e-commerce business. You want to grow it sooner rather than later.

So do this to make that happen:

 1. Use Pop-Ups

Yes, I did actually make this suggestion. But, you want to set a cookie with the user so they only see the popup once, and then never again.

But, you don’t want to just pester them to join your list. Give them something free in return for joining. You can use any number of incentives, like:

• Giving a free guide or resource
• Offering free shipping on their next order
• Giving a 25% discount on an order of $50 or more

Conventional wisdom says not to use popups. But use them right like this, and they can become your greatest marketing asset.

2. Give Your Customers Multiple Opportunities to Sign Up 

If you have a blog, put an e-mail signup in the sidebar. Your “About” page is another great place to capture signups. That’s because people interested enough to go there already like you a lot – and may be willing to give you their e-mail address.

Add another opportunity to sign up at the end of every blog post. You can even add another opportunity to sign up in the middle of your blog posts too.

Ask your customers if they’d like to sign up after they’ve purchased from you. Don’t sign them up by default, though. Most will unsubscribe quickly.

Always give your users an incentive for signing up. And make that incentive clear.

3. Run Facebook Ads

Because of Facebook’s targeting options, you can go after a precise demographic, or even people with specific interests. That ad should then drive people to a landing page on your website to sign up for your newsletter.

To make it work, you need this:

  • An engaging image that stands out on Facebook
  • Copy that commands and drives action
  • A beautifully structured landing page with an obvious call-to-action

4. Twitter Lead Gen Cards

These allow users to subscribe scary fast. In fact, they can do so with just a single click, without even entering their name or e-mail address. Again, you will have to give your customers a freebie in exchange for opting in.

Those are 4 simple ways you can turbocharge your e-mail list growth starting today. And you don’t even have to be an expert to start using them!

Posted in Ecommerce Essentials & Tips, eMail Marketing, How To, Online Marketing Strategies

6 Easy Ways to Boost Sales from Your E-mail Receipts

fortune3-sell-more-imageWhat better to make another sale than by selling to a customer you already know really likes you?

That’s what your customers who just bought from you are saying.

How do you upsell them when they’re hot – when they just purchased?

Some ideas:

1. Sell Related Products and Accessories 

Just sold a smartphone? Great, there’s only about a million accessories you could sell to your customer. On top of that, if you could target your offers based on customer demographic data, you could show more relevant accessories they could buy.

That would increase your conversion rate.

2. Add a Discount Code 

How much does it cost you to acquire a new customer? We don’t know your exact numbers, but it costs astronomically more than upselling your existing customers. It works that way for every business.

So offer your loyal customers a treat for buying from and give them a discount on their next purchases.

3. Add a Survey

What? How does a survey help you sell?

Well, did you know the typical company hears from only 4% of its irritated customers? The other 96% complain on social media or in person to their friends, coworkers, and family members.

When your customers have legitimate complaints and tell you, you should be grateful and ready to act!

Because when you fix what bugs them, they come back and have more loyalty than ever. Plus, you might give additional benefits your competitors don’t.

4. Start a Referral Program

It’s up to you how you structure it, but give your customers the opportunity to earn rewards for referring their friends and family. Maybe they get a 20% discount on orders over $50 for each successful referral.

Or, they get 1 instance of free shipping with each referral.

Great businesses don’t need to do too much marketing or selling because word-of-mouth does it for them.

5. Let Your Customers Share their Successful Purchase on Social Media

Customers are most excited when they just completed their purchase. Let them spread the word about it for you.

This time, you don’t incent the desired behavior. Instead, you just add social media buttons and ask them to take the action.

Free advertising!

6. Ask Customers to Join Your E-mail List

You won’t make sales right away. But your e-mail list represents your very best customers.

Maybe you won’t get a ton of e-mail subscribers. But the ones you do get buy from you repeatedly over the long-term.

And how much does an e-mail cost? An hour or two of your time? Maybe a few bucks each month for the subscription?

You get an awesome ROI with  your e-mail list.

Don’t Forget about Your E-mail Receipts!

The strategy you choose is up to you. But it’s clear: e-mail receipts are a great marketing opportunity.

Posted in Ecommerce Essentials & Tips, eMail Marketing, Online Marketing Strategies

The Bootstrapper’s Guide to Getting Your E-Commerce Site Selling Fast

fresh-start-fortune3-e-commerceAre you new to e-commerce? Do you have little money to start?

But you’ve got plenty of time?

Great! Here’s how you’d start marketing and growing revenues right away:

1. First, Have a Professional Design

Design’s actually costly. But that’s only if you hire an agency or independent web designer. Going that route gets you a great design from the start. And if they have e-commerce experience, they may know how to design your website for better sales immediately.

If you don’t have a few grand available for that, then your best bet is a an e-commerce suite. You can pay monthly fees (starting at $10 per month) for many of the basics you need to start, like:

• An easy online store builder

• Shopping cart software

• Payment processing

• PPC marketing

• SSL certificates

It takes hours and more money to get these things going on your own time. That may be your best bet to start.

2. Get Your PPC Campaign Going

Yes, PPC costs money. But you don’t need much to start. Just a few hundred bucks per month will do. And you can spend more if it’s available.

PPC takes just a few days to start. But you need to check your campaign daily. Otherwise, your costs skyrocket out of control. At least you get your revenues going so you can start doing other business activity.

You may want to start with Bing/Yahoo first, as they charge more reasonable fees for their advertising than Google’s Adwords.

PPC Hero is a great website to follow to learn more about PPC.

3. Grow Your E-mail List 

This is the huge key early on. Imagine your a prospector in the Old West in the 1840s, and you finally strike gold. That’s what a big e-mail list is like.

Once people buy from you, they trust you enough to buy again. And they repeatedly buy in the future because they love you.

You must give customers an incentive for signing up. This could be something like getting free shipping with your next order when you sign up. And then maybe a referral incentive too – like free shipping for additional orders or a 25% discount for each friend you refer that signs up.

4. Produce Valuable Content

You don’t have to go crazy with this. But you should do at least a 500-word blog post per week. Aim to be the most useful resource on your products in the industry.

If you sell vacuums, teach people simple maintenance steps for vacuums. If you sell sports apparel, tell people what types of clothing work best to boost their sports performance and why.

That’s enough to get your revenues up and going from the start. From there, it’s up to you to make mistakes, adjust, and grow.

Posted in Blogging for Ecommerce, Ecommerce Essentials & Tips, eMail Marketing, How To, Online Marketing Strategies, SEO for eCommerce

Why You Should and Shouldn’t Use Popups

fortune3-e-mail-popup-image“Popup” often brings negative, unpleasant feelings for most.

But popups aren’t something typically left to shady, obnoxious, and spammy websites. In fact, popups work quite well for good websites if you use them right.

So, today, let me explain the difference between the case for and against popups:

Why You Should Use Popups

Tests show that even though popups are very annoying to some users, they shoot your e-mail subscribership through the roof. One test found them to increase e-mail captures 1,375% more than a sidebar form.

E-mail converts with a higher ROI than any other form of digital marketing too. That includes social media, PPC, organic search rankings, retargeting, remarketing, and anything else you can think of.

So if you can figure out how to use them right, then you should do pretty darn well with your business, right?

Why You Shouldn’t Use Popups

Well as you know, the obvious reason is that they’re so obnoxious that some people leave your website the instant they see them (but that’s because you’re using them wrong…more on that later).

And they do slow your page load times down. The more you slow them down, the more people leave and don’t buy from your site. Page load time is also a huge organic search ranking factor, so your rankings suffer if you slow it down too much.

If you deliver the wrong popup with the wrong message, you also cause more people to get annoyed and possibly not come back.

How to Use Them

Using popups isn’t easy. Here are some of the key factors to using them successfully:

1. Time them Right 

Using the popup as soon as people visit your website – big mistake! They don’t know anything about you and have no relationship with you, so they’re going to leave ASAP and not sign up.

Instead, there’s a couple things you can do:

• Release the popup after a certain time period – A good on-site time is 2 minutes, but 60 seconds is decent enough too. You’ll get more signups with this type of popup because people are browsing and reading on your website, which means they like you to some extent. They’re less likely to be bothered and more likely to sign up.

• Show your popup at the bottom of your blog posts – This means they read the entire post and again like the information you have to offer. It’s a great time to show your popup.

2. Show a Benefit and Have a Strong Call to Action!

You have to hit your market with a powerful message they’re likely to respond to. “Subscribe and Save 25% on Your Next Purchase” may be a good one.

Who wouldn’t want that? Then, you have 1-2 lines of text below detailing how they’ll be the first to know about all your special deals in the future.

You know your website the best, though, so think of a compelling offer that might work.

You Don’t Have to Use Popups!

But you definitely have to use e-mail marketing. And if you do choose to use popups, use them strategically so you don’t scare away your good customers.

Posted in Ecommerce Essentials & Tips, eMail Marketing, Online Marketing Strategies

6 Crucial Email Marketing Mistakes SMBs Make (And What to do Instead)

fortune3-e-commerce-email-marketing-mistakesE-mail marketing has one of the greatest ROIs of any online marketing tactic. And online marketing is much more effective than any form of traditional marketing.

If you have a new e-commerce company, growing your newsletter subscriber list is a great way to build your business.

Let’s take a look at some mistakes other companies have made so you don’t make them yourself:

1. Keep it Simple

Most companies have several messages they like to communicate that they believe sell best. When you first start out in those earlier years, focus on a single message.

Because everyone else has so many different things to say, your consistent message will stand out.

2. Don’t Buy a List to Start

Another name for digital marketing is “permission-based marketing.” This means you provide good quality content, products, and services first – and earn your customer’s attention as a result.

So if you just buy a list, and you never got permission to e-mail the people on that list, you’re going to get a very low response rate.

Earn their interest instead and grow your list organically.

3. No Personalization

Part of earning your customer’s attention involves being personable. It sounds funny attempting to do this on the web, which seems very impersonal.

But it has its own techniques. One very easy way to personalize your email newsletter is to include the customer’s name in it 1-2 times.

Do any more than that and you’ll be like the guy who thinks he’s your best friend – even though you just met.

4. Sending Your Newsletter as a PDF Attachment

Believe it or not, some small businesses still do this. Do what your customer expects – send your newsletter in the body of an e-mail just like everyone else.

5. Not Looking at the Numbers

So you’re a small business owner with a limited amount of time. You won’t be able to check your numbers often. But do give them a peek every once in a while (monthly at least).

Look at your open rates, bounce rates, and your click-throughs. Make small decisions that might help you improve those numbers, like improving the offer, sending at different times of day, and so on.

6. Never Setting a Goal

Before you even write an e-mail, make sure you have a goal behind it first. Do you want to keep customers engaged, get them to buy now, or just to inform?

Have a reason and purpose behind your e-mail marketing program.

Enjoy Your New Business Growth! 

So those are 6 e-mail marketing mistakes e-commerce SMBs just like yours make. Are you guilty of any? And if so, are you prepared to take action to change what you’re doing?

Posted in Ecommerce Essentials & Tips, eMail Marketing