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Ecommerce Blog - Fortune3

Nearly Every Social Network Decreases Organic Reach – What to Do?

fortune3-restricted-facebook-ads-image.jpgHave you been on Facebook for any length of time?

If you have, you know they’re making it more and more likely that your audience won’t see your posts. That is, of course, unless you pay them some money.

Guess that’s why Facebook is worth $350 billion (plus) right now, isn’t it?

And many other social networks have followed through on that too. Twitter’s been doing it. LinkedIn has paid advertising options.

They’re not as aggressive at forcing you to use those. But, it’s there.

So with organic reach falling on social media sites, what can you do? How do you reach your audience without having to fork over a small fortune for it?

Here’s some ideas:

1. Spend More Time Actively Promoting

With organic reach becoming less of an option, you can spend more time promoting your content on social media and building partnerships. For example, you could reach out to other Facebook page owners and offer to share their content if they share yours.

You can also like and comment on other pages, contributing value.

2. Spend More Time Creating Content

Several years ago, you could create almost any kind of content and get some attention for it. Now, you don’t get nearly as much attention if you do the same level of work.

So, you can get around that by creating more useful content. Find out what’s in your niche, and top it. Then, promote like crazy.

3. Work on Building Your List

Your email list gives you a lot of control you don’t get other places online. You can’t control Google’s algorithm and how it ranks you. You can’t control what Facebook does. But, you can control what you do once you have people on your email list.

You have their undivided attention.

4. Look at Less Costly Options

Reddit, Pinterest, Product Hunt, and many other similar websites offer low-cost advertising. Remember, the biggest name will always cost the most and have the most competition.

If you know what you’re doing on Facebook, that’s fine. But if you don’t, try somewhere else less costly first.

5. Podcasting

If you like to talk with others and network, a podcast could be a great idea for marketing. After years of existence, podcasts are finally gaining widespread use.

Remember, Facebook’s only going to do what’s possible to continue growing their revenue. So, if you don’t like their costs, you’ll have to get creative and find ways to keep your audience’s attention.

Posted in Ecommerce Essentials & Tips, How To, Online Marketing Strategies, Social Media For eCommerce

How Can You Make More Sales Without a Unique Product?

fortune3-boring-product-that-needs-marketing-imageYou have what you know is a quality product. However, you also have a big business problem. It’s not really new, unique, or different than many other products in any way.

In fact, it’s exactly like about half a dozen other products.

So, that basically leaves you only with the option of lowering your prices. At least, if you want to get more sales anyway.

…Or is that your only option?

No. It’s not. If you don’t have an original product idea, or the money or skills to create an original product, or if inventing and innovation isn’t your strong suit, don’t worry.

You can absolutely make great sales on an existing product. And that includes one many of your competitors already offer.

The Embarrassing Truth about Marketing…And Especially at the Small E-Commerce Business Level

Much, and perhaps most, marketing doesn’t persuade consumers to buy. And this effect gets even more magnified at small e-commerce businesses.

Why?

Because many of the owners believe their products are so great they’ll just sell themselves. That may be true.

But it only comes into play when your consumers actually have your product in hand. Wouldn’t it be great if you could get more of them to want it in the first place?

Here’s what to do (and not do) to make that happen:

1. Remember, Marketing Simply Works Like This…

Marketing is not where you brag and boast about how great your product is. Consumers see right through that. And they won’t buy. In fact, you’re likely to lose business using that approach over time.

Marketing only involves making your product as attractive as possible to your targeted consumer. That means telling them what they’ll get when they use your product (usually some kind of good feelings).

Most marketing, including manufacturer descriptions, focuses on facts (aka “features”) about the product.

That bores consumers. They want their lives to be easier, more exciting, happier, or more peaceful after using your product. So you have to communicate how your product does that for them.

2. Tell the Truth

Many business owners think marketing involves lying about the benefits of using their product.

There’s no doubt some small businesses do their marketing that way.

But as an honest business owner, you don’t want to deceive consumers into buying. Not only will you feel a dreadful amount of shame and guilt, but it’s bad for your business too.

They’ll find out your product doesn’t work as advertised. They get angry. You get complaints. You have to offer refunds. You don’t get referral sales. Eventually, you may have to close your business.

Don’t worry about that stuff. Because, telling the truth works in marketing. Giving your customers realistic expectations about what they can get with your product is effective.

In fact, your customers will respect you even more for doing so because it’s so rare.

So yes, you absolutely can market your business to success in a completely honest way that makes you feel good and your customers happy.

Consider using that approach if you have a product that appears the same as many others.

 

Posted in Ecommerce Essentials & Tips, How To

How to Use Outsourcing to Make Your Business Life Less Stressful

fortune3-outsourcing-image.jpgWorking 50, 60 hours per week, or even more?

Are you enjoying it?

Do you ever wonder what it would be like to work a more balanced workweek? Like, say maybe 40 hours per week or so?

Or, what if you could be like one of those dream stories you hear and put in a 15-20 hour week, while still making an income that more than exceeds your lifestyle’s needs?

It’s up to you as to how much work to put in on your e-commerce business. Some owners like the high demands of 70+ hour work weeks.

But others don’t see it that way.

If you want to work less hours, consider using outsourcing like this:

1. Only Do What You’re Really the Best At

Do you know your business skills? Have you ever made a list of everything you do in a day, and compared that to what you’re really the best at?

Do all of those tasks require you to be there? Could someone else, with just a little bit of training, do them just as well as you, or nearly so?

If you haven’t prioritized the tasks you need to take on, consider doing that. You’ll often find opportunities where you could hand simple or menial tasks off to someone else.

2. Don’t Outsource What Really Differentiates Your Business

Is customer service one of the top reasons people come to  your company, and not others? While helpful, outsourced services and vendors are never as committed to your company and your philosophy as you are.

If customer service is your major point of differentiation, for example, do it yourself or hire employees.

3. Outsource Services Where You Need the Expertise

What do you know about website design and conversion rate optimization? If you’re already an expert, great. No need to outsource that.

But let’s say your expertise is traffic generation. Don’t spend your time trying to design your website. Instead, find a company that charges fairly high prices for that service and leave it to them.

You can also learn their expertise, but that takes years of trial and error.

4. Outsource Your Marketing, If You’re Not a Natural Marketer

Marketing has two major aspects:

1) Positioning/branding (how your customers think of your company, compared to others)

2) Visibility to your market (most often represented as “SEO”)

For one thing, SEO’s getting too time-consuming to do on your own. And for another, most e-commerce companies don’t focus on branding or positioning (which also eat up a lot of time). But, when you find the right position in your market, sales come so much easier.

It’s really something that gets overlooked often. And it’s one area where it makes sense to use someone else’s outside expertise.

That’s the gist of outsourcing here in 2016 and beyond. Think of outsourcing at your business as a puzzle. You have to identify the pieces and assemble them in a way that makes sense for your business.

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

How to Sell Your E-Commerce Business for a Great ROI

fortune3-buying-and-selling-ecommerce-imageReady to sell your e-commerce business?

Is that what you got into it for?

Some e-commerce entrepreneurs live by buying and selling e-commerce businesses.

Regardless of why you’re thinking about selling, the simple fact is you do want to sell.

How do you make sure you get the most money for yours?

Some tips to follow:

1. First, Know the Average Sale Price

According to eCommerce Platforms, the typical ecommerce businesses sells for 2-3 times its net profit. And the average total sale price is between $20,000 and $2 million.

So, unless your business is absolutely tanking in a dying market, you should be able to pull a price around there at a minimum.

2. What Factors Affect Your Sales Price?

Every buyer wants a good ROI within a few years. No one wants to wait an extended period of time. Everyone wants to make money.

Here’s a few of the factors you need to have:

• A solid age of at least 2-3 years

• Consistent profit growth

• Diversified traffic sources

• High amounts of repeat business

• Large, engaged mailing list

• Repeatable growth strategies in place

• Demonstrated ability to grab market share

• Experienced team in place

• In a hot and growing market

• Experienced employees and leadership

• No legal threats

Basically, the more predictable a good ROI seems, the better.

3. Why Don’t Buyers Buy?

Let’s say you start talking with a buyer or two, and then they suddenly drop off the face of the earth. It’s rare in business that you get a straight and direct answer as to why this happens.

But when you lose touch with someone, it means something caught their interest that told them not to buy. That could be:

• You’re overly optimistic about your business and want too much money

• The funding the buyer thought they had lined up is no longer available

• The buyer was involved in multiple deals and spotted a better opportunity

• Something about your data doesn’t quite make sense to  your buyer

• Your business or niche, upon closer inspection, doesn’t appeal to your buyer

4. Get Multiple Offers

If there’s one tactic you should follow, it’s this one. This helps you negotiate either better terms or a higher price.

Make sure you can show your buyer email offers from other buyers so they have convincing proof you’re telling the truth.

If you’re not getting multiple offers, then work on your business until it is in prime position for getting them. The leverage you get from multiple offers is that powerful and is worth your time.

Good luck selling your e-commerce business. Make sure you do your due diligence so you guarantee yourself the best possible deal!

Posted in Ecommerce Essentials & Tips, How To

How to Write a Magnetic Blog Post that Visitors Read Over and Over

fortune3-magnetic-blog-readers-imageHave you ever looked at the average on-page time for your blog posts? Does it leave something to be desired?

Simply go to “Behavior à Site Content à All Pages” in Google analytics. You should get at least 1 – 2 minutes in your blog posts. If you don’t get that, you’re not doing enough to be useful or original.

That means you lose out on more sales.

It’s getting harder to write blog posts that stand out. As you know, the internet’s getting bloated with information. And much of it is the same old thing.

So what do you do to write a blog post that stands out, gets read and shared, and generates you all kinds of back links?

Here’s what:

1. Focus on “New and Different”

“New and different” gets attention. It works in every facet of business for every kind of customer.

It’s tough to write “new and different” information. You may have to create dozens of blog posts that end up being the same as everything else out there first.

That’s okay. It’s part of the process of getting to a successful place.

And to make that happen, you have to do the actions in #2…

2. Research What Works

With content, you have to know your surroundings. You have to learn what your competitors are up to.

Fortunately, Buzzsumo makes that easy. With their free search, you can see the top 10 most shared content types on the keyword you enter. And that ranges anywhere from the past 24 hours to the past year.

See what those posts talk about. Take an original slant on what they say. Or, expand on something they mention.

3. Put A Good Half Hour Into Your Headline

You should write multiple variations of your headline until you get one that really blows readers’ minds.

Fortunately, there are two tools that make this process easier so you know the headline you come up with will be effective:

• CoSchedule’s Headline Analyzer

• The Advanced Marketing Institute’s Emotional Marketing Value Analyzer

I aim for a score of 70+ with CoSchedule because they’ve based their tool on research of digital headlines that work. For the EMV analyzer, I want a score of 50% ideally, but I’ll leave with 35% or more if I have a 70 or greater with CoSchedule.

There’s no such thing as a “perfect” blog post. Basically, all you do is make something “new and different,” and then make your post far more useful than any other like it. Do that, and you’ll be fine.

Posted in How To, Online Marketing Strategies, SEO for eCommerce

3 E-Commerce Customer Service Mistakes You Need to Avoid at All Costs

angry-shocked-customer-imageYou know what they say about service, right? “The customer’s always right.”

Well, not always, but most of the time they are. But, one of your top jobs, at least if you want to stay in business for any length of time, is to keep your customers happy. Make ’em angry, and they’re guaranteed to leave sooner or later. And they might take a number of their friends and family members with them.

Ouch! That’s a big dent in the business of any small e-commerce company. Fortunately, you don’t have to experience nearly any unhappy customers if you don’t want to.

Watch out for these common customer service mistakes, and consider the alternate suggestion to them instead:

1. Avoid Justifying or Minimizing Your Behavior

Whatever you did that the customer’s not happy with, don’t respond with, “Well, that happened because…” As soon as you go down that road, you’re justifying or minimizing your own actions. Your customer’s anger will only increase.

Instead, start with acknowledging your customer’s issue, even if it isn’t valid. Say, “I’m sorry this happened. That sounds frustrating.”

That builds bridges and keeps the peace. It sets the foundation for a successful resolution that makes you and the customer happy.

2. In General, Resolve the Issue for the Customer If You’re a Small Company

What if you’re the e-commerce company with just a small handful of customers? Can you afford to keep giving refunds and occasional free merchandise?

The simple solution: keep a log of all your interactions with customers. When you identify the ones that are abusing you, set a boundary and tell them, “I’m sorry. We did this for you once already. That’s all we can do.”

Because, abusive customers, once they think they can keep getting their way, may continue that pattern. And no business has 100% happy customers all the time.

3. Not Offering All Methods of Contact

Yeah, it’s easy to ignore the phones because a lot of people don’t like to use them anymore. Millenials are starting to become adults. Pretty soon, they’ll be middle-age and have great power as both consumers and business decision makers. For the most part, they don’t like to pick up the phone.

But many people still do. And honestly, because the phone is a more powerful form of interpersonal contact than e-mail, it can be an awesome way of building long-term relationships with customers.

So, make sure your customers can call you, at least during certain hours of the day. Post those hours. And return calls as fast as you can to make an even better impression.

Basic, but most businesses don’t do it. So it can be a huge competitive advantage for you.

And the same goes for most of these customer service mistakes. They aren’t overly hard to do. But most businesses ignore the damage they cause to themselves and their customers. So, implement them at your company today…and watch the word about your customer service spread far and wide.

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

Content Marketing: Have You Ever Written a “Case Study?”

fortune3-case-study-marketing-imageDo you know what a “case study” is?

If you sell B2B products and services, you might. If you sell B2C, you might not because they don’t get used as often.

However, “case studies” can be your most powerful marketing tool. They tell a story that your customers can relate to…a story that shows how you helped a customer just like them get the result they want.

And these stories slip right by their resistance to buying. Instead of saying,”Why should I buy from you?” they say,”How do I buy from you?”

How Do You Make Case Studies Work for You?

The biggest mistake made with any case study is they focus too much on the company providing the product or service. The goal is to put all the focus on your customer…mentioning your company at the very end.

Don’t worry, customers will read that far if you write a compelling case study.

How Do You Write a Case Study That Drives More Sales?

It’s not that hard. You don’t have to be a super-expert writer either. Just follow these steps, and the brief instructions that follow:

1-Who is the customer? Give as much detail as you can about the customer. The goal is to make that clear so other customers can say,”Oh, hey. That sounds just like me.”

2-What problem did they have? Again, the same goal here. Show their problem in excruciating detail.

3-What solutions did they look at and ultimately reject? This helps to show why other solutions weren’t credible. You’re discrediting your competitors in a more subtle, believable way.

4-Why did they choose our product as the solution? Again, straightforward here.

5-How did they install our product or implement our solution? Again, the more detail, the better. You’ll probably have more detail with a B2B product or service.

6-How is the customer using our product now? Pretty straightforward.

7-What results have they attained with it? Critical. You must be specific here. Too many case studies get vague and say things like the customer was “happier.” Quantify that.

The result attained should also be the title of your case study. Include a few quotes from your customer to further the credibility of your case study.

Close with a call-to-action, such as sending customers to your product page and asking for the sale.

Then, Promote The Heck Out of Your Case Study!

Don’t just bury it on your website somewhere. Send it to your e-mail list. Put it on your social media profiles from time to time. You could it even advertise it on the front page of your website.

And you? You’ll get more sales with greater speed. Guaranteed.

FYI, if you’re doing this process right, it should take around 10-15 hours to write 800 – 1000 words. But, it’s more than worth it over the long run.

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

Branding: Can You Sell Without “Selling Out?”

fortune3-integrity-not-selling-out-image.jpgLet’s face the facts:

Some business owners do whatever it takes to make more money. You can probably think of a couple examples.

But, you don’t want to do that. You don’t want to compromise who you are just to make a buck. While you might get some money from it, the guilt and shame you’d experience afterwards would far outweigh the material benefit.

Sometimes, in America, we’re bombarded with so many messages showing how good material wealth is. Sometimes, it seems to be the only thing you should live for. There’s nothing else.

That’s one way you can do things. And many businesses do it.

But since you’re reading this post, you’re already considering doing things the other way. You’d rather stick to who you are.

But you’re a little afraid. That’s because you think “sticking to your values” will cost you in the long run. You’ll miss out. At worst, you could fail.

Strong Evidence Supports Sticking to Your Values Works

Well, I’m here to tell you that, while things may seem to work that way, plenty of evidence supports sticking to your values works in business. In fact, it’s an essential part of success.

And even better, you don’t have to choose the “right” ones. In fact, all that matters is you stick to them, no matter what they are.

The two greatest business books of all time, in my opinion, are Built to Last and Good to Great. Jim Collins and his team studied dozens of publicly traded companies to find why some endured over time, and why others fell by the wayside. Those two books were the result of that research.

He concluded his research by noting he believes the process discovered works for organizations of all sizes and types.

One of the big factors in the success of the studied companies was “sticking to their core values.” You should have around 4-6 core values you do not sway from. Ever. For any reason.

Some of the companies that succeeded massively were:

• Walmart

• 3M

• Procter & Gamble

• Abbott Laboratories

• Kimberly Clark

• Gilette

• Walgreens

• Wells-Fargo

• Phillip Morris

What, a tobacco company made the list? Yes. That’s why Collins and his team concluded the core values don’t matter. Only sticking to them does.

By the way, you may feel some of these companies are bad examples of how to do business. They’ve changed a lot over the years. At the time of the study, they were definitely good examples.

So, you don’t, and in fact you shouldn’t, compromise your own values in business. Decide what they are. Write them down. Never bend. Customers and business contacts alike appreciate that.

And you’ll do just fine.

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

How to Stop Customer Complaints Before They Start

fortune3-stop-customer-complaints-before-they-start

Do your customers complain a lot? Don’t worry! You’ll find the answer to that in this post.

Have you ever had that time in business where all your customers seem to complain at once?

You want to serve your customers.

But a lot of complaints makes your business difficult. Pretty soon, what started out as your dream now becomes your greatest source of stress.

Instead of being excited to start your day, you wake up and sit in bed, filled with dread. Who knows what nasty things you’ll hear this time?

It happens in every business at one time or another.

Don’t take it personally. Don’t think you’re a failure. Listen to what customers say and find solutions to their problem instead.

Or, simply avoid doing these things in the first place to make sure you never even hear most of those complaints:

1. Not Following Through on What Was Promised

Customers simply want you to do what you say when you say you’re going to do it. Believe it or not, that’s a premium customer service feature at many companies.

Fortunately, the solution is simple. Only make promises you can keep. Don’t promise things faster than you can do them.

And if you can’t keep the promise, don’t make it at all.

Keep track of everything you say. And simply do it.

2. Employees Hiding Behind Company Policy

This is actually one of the harder complaints to deal with. Because, you’ll have to take a look at your company’s service policy to see how you can modify it to make it work.

Evercall a company and keep asking questions until you finally hear,”I’m sorry, but company policy doesn’t let us do that.”

Not what your customers want to hear. And one of the great advantages of a small business over a large one is flexible, excellent service.

So, make your policy flexible and give your reps power to make customers happy. And only make policy come into play as a very last-ditch effort.

One legendary customer service story holds that a customer wanted to return 4 car tires…to a company that didn’t even sell them. To make him happy, they took them anyway.

Try that once, and then promote the story.

3. No One Knows Where the Customer’s Order Is

All customers like to know exactly where their order is. And with order tracking easily available to even small businesses, you should deliver it to them.

It’s a benefit to you because many customers won’t even call. And you can add a question about it in your FAQ. Plus, you can notify your customers through your newsletter that they can track their order online.

Make it a standard feature you offer your customers. It more than pays for itself.

It’s almost always better to prevent customer complaints where possible. However, customers love it when you take the time to fix their problem too.

So if you have a high volume of complaints, think of it as an opportunity to turn one-time customers into lifetime customers.

You won’t regret your decision!

Posted in Ecommerce Essentials & Tips, How To

5 Benefits of Live Chat for Your E-Commerce Biz

fortune3-e-commerce-live-chat-imageIs live chat right for your business?

Yes.

How can I say that without even asking you a single question about yours?

Simple. Because live chat has a 73% customer satisfaction rate, which places it ahead of both email (61%) and the phone (44%).

So yes, if the typical business gets a good customer satisfaction rate like that, it should be a part of your business.

And here’s additional reasons as to why you may want it at your business:

1. 90% of Customers Find Live Chat Helpful

So says the ATG Global Consumer Trend Study. In physical stores, you don’t always have someone nearby you can ask for help. Most of the time you do. But not always.

With live chat, just seeing that “Live Chat” button makes a world of difference. They get reassurance they can get their questions answered nearly immediately.

That’s powerful for their shopping experience.

2. 63% of Customers are More Likely to Return to a Website that Offers Live Chat

…That stat’s according to research from eMarketer.com. What a huge advantage for you versus your competition?

While Live Chat gets used by many websites, you know many others do not. It’s not yet a standard offering. So you can get a nice little competitive edge on other companies.

3. When Does Live Chat Come in Handy?

Live chat helps your customers a ton for most issues. But which ones specifically?

Well ATG research mentioned by eMarketer says this is when customers prefer the phone:

• When dealing with sensitive information

• If complex or technical information’s involved

• When large amounts of money are concerned

Aside from those issues, customers love live chat. So consider how you can use it to solve all your other customer service problems.

4. Faster Service

Think about your phone customer service experiences. You have to wade through dozens of irritating menus with an obnoxious computer voice screeching in your ear. And it’s not too uncommon to get dropped entirely.

With live chat, skilled agents can serve three or more people effectively at the same time. Your customers don’t have to wait for service nearly as long. And your agents help more customers, which means you can save on the costs of hiring additional agents.

5. You Can Easily Review the Quality of Support

You have written records of your agent’s service to review. Phone records get cumbersome and time-consuming to check. And looking at just a representative couple of phone calls may not represent your employee’s true performance at all.

With written transcripts of live chat support, you can perform accurate, honest, and fair reviews of employee work. Plus, you can update your own service processes easily with the new data.

Is live chat for your e-commerce company? It is, unless you have a highly compelling reason for not using it.

Posted in Ecommerce Essentials & Tips, How To