IvyCat, Inc. https://ivycat.com Web Hosting, Design & Development Thu, 15 Sep 2016 16:16:02 +0000 en-US hourly 1 22793343 Hosted vs Self Hosted E-Commerce Sites: What You Need to Know https://ivycat.com/hosted-vs-self-hosted-e-commerce-sites-what-you-need-to-know/ https://ivycat.com/hosted-vs-self-hosted-e-commerce-sites-what-you-need-to-know/#respond Thu, 15 Sep 2016 16:16:02 +0000 https://ivycat.com/?p=6173 Whether you sell cat toys, information products, or custom-printed tote bags you’ll have to make a big decision before you launch your e-commerce website: Should you go with a hosted solution (like Shopify) or manage your own e-commerce platform with a software like WordPress?

Hosted vs Self Hosted E-Commerce Sites: What You Need to Know was originally published by Jessie Kwak on IvyCat, Inc.

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Whether you sell cat toys, information products, or custom-printed tote bags you’ll have to make a big decision before you launch your e-commerce website:

Should you go with a hosted solution (like Shopify) or manage your own e-commerce platform with a software like WordPress?

While both options can offer powerful solutions for your specific needs, they both have different strengths and benefits.

What’s the best choice for your business?

Hosted vs Self Hosted E-Commerce Sites

What exactly is hosting?

Well, think about your e-commerce website like a house – hosting is the property that house sits on. It’s the server where all of the files that make up your e-commerce website live, and where they are accessed by anyone who visits your site. Everything that you see on the Internet is hosted somewhere.

The difference between hosted and self hosted has to do with who owns the software that runs your site.

With hosted e-commerce sites, the software and hosting are provided by the company. Generally, this gives you access to powerful tools to build your site, although you do not have access to the code your site is built on. Some examples of this are: Shopify, BigCommerce, PrestaShop, and Volusion.

With self hosted e-commerce sites, you pay a company to host software on their sites, but you then install and run the software. An example of this is installing and configuring WordPress as an e-commerce site on SiteGround (our partner), Magento, WooCommerce, or BlueHost. You have access to the code your site is built on, giving you greater control.

There are many pros and cons, but here’s the crux of the issue:

When choosing between hosted vs self hosted e-commerce sites, you’re basically choosing what level of control you want to have over your site, versus having someone else manage the details for you.

Should you choose hosted or self hosted?

Hosted vs Self Hosted E-Commerce Sites

Customizability

Customizability is the biggest differentiator between hosted and self hosted e-commerce sites.

Self hosted: If you’re a technically minded person or are willing to pay for someone to build and manage your site, you can have much finer control with a self hosted e-commerce site.

All aspects of the storefront and the back end can be customized, giving you total control over the customer experience. It’s often much easier to optimize your site, too, using A/B testing to get bigger and better conversions on all aspects of the site.

Hosted: On the other hand, choosing to go with a hosted e-commerce option allows you to get your site started without a huge learning curve. Often, you can get a powerful website right out of the box with only a small amount of initial setup.

This can be a great option if you lack the technical expertise to set up your on-site – but keep in mind that the ability of your site to provide a unique customer experience will be constrained to the limits of the platform.

Cost

When comparing costs between the two options, it’s important to understand that each has its own pros and cons.

Self hosted: With a self hosted site, the majority of your expenses will be upfront, incurred in the set up and build time. Learning to set up your site yourself will save money, but often isn’t the wisest use of your time as a business owner.

Maintenance costs can also be higher with a self hosted site, as you will be responsible to keep on top of software updates and security patches yourself. Once you have your store configured, however, there are fewer recurring monthly costs.

Hosted: Most hosted sites operate on a software-as-a-service (SaaS) model, where you pay a monthly fee to the provider. You’ll avoid the large initial costs involved in developing your site, and the majority of site maintenance will be outsourced to the host platform provider.

This can allow you to launch your site with a smaller amount of initial capital, but be sure to consider that those monthly costs do add up over time. Plus, you may find yourself locked in a contract with certain self hosted sites.

Technical support

As an e-commerce business, your site’s reliability is hard currency. You need to ensure you’ve earned your customers’ trust by providing a safe and secure place to do business – and that means getting top-notch technical support for your site.

Self-hosted: With a self hosted site, the hosting provider will usually provide technical support when it comes to server issues – but when it comes to issues with the software itself, you’ll need to be ready to DIY your own solution or turn to your web developer or other expert.

Hosted: With a hosted solution, assistance with the software will be included in your monthly fee. This can give you peace of mind when it comes to all the technical maintenance aspects of your site – everything from unexpected server outages to mystery bugs in the checkout system.

Making your decision

Hosted vs Self Hosted E-Commerce Sites

In the end, choosing a self hosted e-commerce site gives you more control and customization, but it doesn’t have to be a bigger headache.

That’s because open-source software like WordPress is a powerful basis for e-commerce, and the number of customizations and integrations available make it relatively intuitive to set up. Plus, a good self hosting company, like our partner SiteGround, will also offer reliability and technical support to give you peace of mind.

And, of course, if you don’t want to do the work of building your WordPress e-commerce at yourself, you can always turn to experts like the folks at IvyCat!

Hosted vs Self Hosted E-Commerce Sites: What You Need to Know was originally published by Jessie Kwak on IvyCat, Inc.

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4 Smart Ways to Increase the Average Order Value in Your Store https://ivycat.com/4-smart-ways-to-increase-the-average-order-value/ https://ivycat.com/4-smart-ways-to-increase-the-average-order-value/#respond Wed, 07 Sep 2016 14:42:47 +0000 https://ivycat.com/?p=6181 If you can increase the average order value in your e-commerce store, it can be a powerful way to raise revenues without a lot of investment. After all, you’ve already spent the money on marketing to attract these customers – getting them to spend even just a few dollars more every visit can drastically boost your bottom line. Read more...

4 Smart Ways to Increase the Average Order Value in Your Store was originally published by Jessie Kwak on IvyCat, Inc.

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If you can increase the average order value in your e-commerce store, it can be a powerful way to raise revenues without a lot of investment. After all, you’ve already spent the money on marketing to attract these customers – getting them to spend even just a few dollars more every visit can drastically boost your bottom line.

Often, all it takes is a little strategic thinking and experimentation. Consider these four techniques – or any combination of them – in order to help drive additional sales. With WordPress, a variety of plug-ins make implementing these tactics a breeze.

Let’s get started!

How to Increase the Average Order Value

Upselling

Back when I waitressed in a brewpub, I had a rockstar coworker who was insanely good at upselling. It wasn’t because she was pushy or sneaky, it was because she was consistent at offering customers choices they may not have thought about. Do you want to add bacon or avocado to your burger? Would you prefer sweet potato fries? How about some grilled chicken or blackened tofu for the salad? Our nachos are amazing with pulled pork – wanna give it a try?

The result, of course, was increased ticket amounts – which led to a bigger tip for her. There was a reason she was able to buy a house on a waitress’s salary.

How does upselling work in e-commerce? Well, take a look at Vistaprint. As soon as you add business cards to your shopping cart, they offer a whole slew of upgrades, including paper choices and “brilliant finishes.”

increase the average order value

Beeketing is one app that lets you upsell – and cross sell – to customers as soon as they add items to their shopping carts.

Cross Selling

Cross selling works by introducing customers to other products that go with what they have just purchased – or are considering purchasing. A great example might be pointing out the earrings that match the necklace in a customer’s cart, or displaying a set of colored pencils alongside an adult coloring book.

Instead of just letting algorithms do the work of recommending products, however, consider that cross selling works best when it adds real value to a customer’s purchase. It’s not just a matter of trying to get them to buy something else on a whim, it’s about recommending products that go along with their existing interests, or would enhance their use of the product they’re already buying.

Take a look at Nest for example. If you’re already interested in home automation and considering their smart thermostat, you may also be interested in their home security products like the smart camera.

increase the average order value

There are a couple plugins that make cross-selling on your WordPress site a breeze. CM Product Recommendations lets you display recommended products throughout your site, based on content from your pages or posts. WooCommerce Product Slider lets you add a products carousel, filtered by different categories (newest, featured, related, and more).

P.S. If you want to use this technique to its fullest potential, check out this survey from Marketing Sherpa on the most effective types of personalized product recommendations.

Bundling

Bundling products together is essentially taking cross selling to a new level. It allows you to create custom packages of items that go together, enticing customers to pay more for added value.

Bundling is also a great way to help move slow-moving products by pairing them with bestsellers. Got a stash of custom printed pocket squares that no one seems to love? Slip them into a boxed set with two other more popular patterns and offer the whole thing at a discount.

Forty Acres Coffee Company, for example, offers a tempting bundle that includes two bags of their coffee along with an AeroPress coffee maker.

increase the average order value

Free Shipping or Discount Threshold

Another great way to increase the average order value is by offering an incentive to hit a certain price point. Normally this done through offers of free shipping or scale to discount – for example, get 10% off if you spend $50, or 15% off if you spend $75.

This works best if you set the threshold just higher than your current average order value. If your customers are routinely checking out with around $35 in their shopping carts, setting the free shipping threshold at $40 provides a good incentive for people to hunt through your site for another small price take items they might want. If you set it at $60, however, it may be too much of a gap to get many people to take advantage of it.

As with anything, play around with the numbers to find out what works best for you.

Unfortunately for my bank account, as I was searching for a good example for this post I realized that Fabric Mart Fabrics is using just such a tactic to hold the pyramid sale right this very minute.

(Be right back.)

increase the average order value

Several plugins have the ability to set a free shipping or discount threshold, such as WooCommerce and Shopp. To alert customers, you can use a service like Hello Bar. You simply set up an account, create your message, and use the Hello Bar plug-in to add the banner to your WordPress site.

What ways have you found to increase the average order value on your e-commerce site? Let us know in the comments.

4 Smart Ways to Increase the Average Order Value in Your Store was originally published by Jessie Kwak on IvyCat, Inc.

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Use This SEO Content Strategy to Boost Your Rankings https://ivycat.com/seo-content-strategy-to-boost-your-rankings/ https://ivycat.com/seo-content-strategy-to-boost-your-rankings/#respond Wed, 10 Aug 2016 16:00:45 +0000 https://ivycat.com/?p=6153 In the digital marketing world, there are many areas which can help to boost rankings, but one area that many don’t focus on but brings the best results is a SEO content strategy.

Use This SEO Content Strategy to Boost Your Rankings was originally published by Jenny Bones on IvyCat, Inc.

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This is a guest post from Aaron Gray. Aaron is the co-founder of Studio 56 and is a passionate digital marketing expert who has worked with some of the largest digital marketing agencies in Australia. He is dedicated to helping others reach their online marketing goals.

In the digital marketing world, there are many areas which can help to boost rankings, but one area that many don’t focus on but brings the best results is an SEO content strategy.

To be successful online, your business needs to be ranked high in search engines for everyone to see. Without ranking on the first page of Google you’ll find it hard to maintain the amount of visitors and new customers that come through your website.

Creating a powerful SEO content strategy is important to hold, maintain, or boost your rankings in popular search engines such as Google, Bing and Yahoo. But how do you create a powerful SEO content strategy you ask? The following are the top tips on how you can make a SEO content strategy that will boost your rankings.

Top Ways To Boost Your Rankings Via A SEO Content Strategy

Publishing Quality, Compelling And Relevant Content

In order to boost your website rankings with popular search engines you need to focus part of your efforts on creating compelling, relevant, and quality content. Publishing well researched, informative and relevant content that your audience is looking for will help to drive more traffic to your website and blog.

The more traffic you receive the more Google and other search engines see your site as an authority figure, thus boosting your website up in ranking results. In order to publish quality, compelling, and relevant content it’s important to follow a few things. These include:

  • Researching your audience thoroughly to see what they’re looking for and what they don’t want.
  • Use relevant keywords that are directly related to your content and industry, but don’t keyword stuff.
  • Write content that answers exactly, and in detail what your audience wants to know. If they want to know ‘How to start up a website’ make sure all areas are covered right down to how to choose a hosting company and domain name. If the post is too big you can break it down into sections or a series of posts which can be released over a few weeks. This will also create anticipation for your audience while they look forward to the next post.
  • Use plagiarism tools to make sure your content isn’t duplicated. Duplicated content can really hurt your overall website rankings. Copyscape.com is a great program to check whether duplicate content is evident.

Along with writing compelling and quality articles, continually posting content that’s fresh and new on a weekly or monthly basis can also help to improve your overall website rankings.

seo content strategy

Use Appropriate Keywords

Keywords are defined as just that, key words which are used by your visitors to search for something they’re looking for. To help create a powerful content marketing strategy it needs to be SEO optimized with keywords. Without being optimized properly Google won’t be able to rank your website accordingly when certain keywords are searched.

In order to work out the best keywords to use, using tools such as Google Keyword Planner can give you a great start. Google Keyword Planner is capable of suggesting a list of keywords that are relevant to your website and that you want your pages to rank for. There are 3 basic keywords which can be used. These include:

Generic – These keywords are generic and can be used widely. They also make it harder for your pages to rank. Generic keywords can be anything like cameras, books, and clothing.

Broad Match – Broad match keywords are a little more specific than generic keywords. These are more popular amongst website owners because they have the ability to produce better results overall. Examples of broad match keywords include Cannon camera, history books, black clothing etc.

Long Tail Keywords – Long tail keywords can help to boost your website ranking greatly. Not only do they offer specific searching parameters, but they also provide you with a way to give your audience what they’re specifically looking for. Examples of long tail keywords include:

  • Cannon Camera x50 under $200
  • World War II History Books
  • Double layered black shirt and short clothing

The more specific the keyword, the better rankings you will receive from Google and other search engines.

seo content strategy

Good Content Formatting

Writing good content isn’t going to help if you haven’t formatted it properly when published. In order to gain the best reviews, views, and visitors to your pages you need to make sure every post is formatted correctly. This can be done by:

  • Making sure there’s sufficient white space and paragraphs between content. The key here is to have just as much white space as there is text.
  • Use images which are of high quality and that are relevant to your post. The visual appeal of your page is just as important as the text.
  • Make sure the content doesn’t touch the edge of the border when uploaded. There should be even spacing between the text and the border.
  • The content should be in a font that’s easy to read. The best fonts include Times Roman Numerals and Arial. Generally, a 12pt size is the best.
  • Use colors that contrast each other like black and white. Having a similar background color to the text color can make it hard to read.
  • To help break up large blocks of text use bullet points.

Formatting your text correctly and making sure there are no grammatical mistakes will help Google and your audience see you as an informative, professional, and authority website. This in turn will help to boost your overall website ranking for the better.

seo content strategy

Overall

Creating a powerful content marketing strategy is all about researching and writing SEO optimized content that is popular to read by your visitors. By taking the time with your content strategy you may just see positive results in a very short amount of time.

So have you made any changes to your content strategy? What did you improve? Did it help your website rankings? Leave a comment and let us know.

Use This SEO Content Strategy to Boost Your Rankings was originally published by Jenny Bones on IvyCat, Inc.

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Lessons From 5 Amazing User Generated Content Campaigns https://ivycat.com/user-generated-content/ Wed, 27 Jul 2016 17:10:53 +0000 https://ivycat.com/?p=6104 We’ve spoken before about how important content marketing is to getting your brand out there. After all, just think about the brands you follow. What happens if they don’t post for a week or more? They drop down in your attention, as something more exciting comes by. Read more...

Lessons From 5 Amazing User Generated Content Campaigns was originally published by Jessie Kwak on IvyCat, Inc.

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We’ve spoken before about how important content marketing is to getting your brand out there. After all, just think about the brands you follow. What happens if they don’t post for a week or more? They drop down in your attention, as something more exciting comes by.

But, c’mon, who has the time or the resources to create so much content? That’s where user generated content campaigns can be a huge boon to small and medium-size e-commerce companies.

What is user generated content?

User generated content (UGC) is just what it sounds like – content that comes from your users and customers, rather than originating from your brand. This can run the gamut from Instagram posts to reviews or forums on your own website.

User generated content can increase your traffic and brand awareness, while establishing a dialogue between yourself and your customers. One of the best things about user generated content is that it promotes engagement. Your customers wouldn’t be posting content if they didn’t want to, and that provides huge social proof to boost your brand.

In fact, studies of shown that potential customers trust UGC more than almost any other form of content.

Ready to get started? Here are five great user-generated content campaigns to get your creative juices flowing.

1. Recognize your customers’ passion: National Geographic

National Geographic is well known for their photography. For years, they’ve inspired their readers with amateur photography contests where they print the winners in the magazine.

In this digital, visual world where everyone’s smart phone doubles as high-quality camera, it was only natural for National Geographic to take their photography contests onto social media. Their Your Shot community offers users a chance to share images, take part in assignments and even get feedback from National Geographic photographers and editors. The best photos may even be published on National Geographic’s website or print publication.

The community is a perfect fit for National Geographic’s readership, who are already drawn to National Geographic’s beautiful images. It’s a positive way for National Geographic to build on the interests of their community, and create dialogue with them.

user generated content

Your Takeaway: Find out what it is that your customers are passionate about, and create a place where they can come together to share that passion – whether it’s a Twitter hashtag, a Facebook page, or your own social media platform.

2. Collaborate your customers: Starbucks

Back in 2014, Starbucks turned its reputation for creative cup designs on its head by serving up lattes in a plain white cup. Customers were encouraged to doodle on the cup, take a photo of it, then submit their photo through social media using the hashtag #WhiteCupContest.

Starbucks receives nearly 4000 customer entries over the course of three weeks. The winning design was then released as a limited-edition reusable cup that followed. The campaign was not only a great way for Starbucks to engage its customers on social media, it also tapped into a core value of the company – creativity – by recognizing the creativity of their customers.

user generated content

Your Takeaway: Invite your customers to collaborate with you, giving them more of a stake in your brand. This could be through a product naming contest, a design contest, or soliciting feedback based around a hashtag.

3. Give your customers a voice: Coffee for Less

Every e-commerce company knows the value of SEO when trying to rank well in search engines. User-generated content can be a powerful way to increase the SEO on your website. E-commerce company Coffee for Less used UGC in the form of reviews and comments to increase their organic search traffic by 10% and their conversions by 125% according to a case study at Marketing Sherpa.

By adding this interactivity to their website, the company received about 6000 comments over the course of three years. Not only did this provide social proof for customers interested in buying their products, it also meant that each page constantly had refreshed content.

user generated content

Your Takeaway: Adding reviews and comments to your website not only helps engage your customers and makes them feel heard, it can also boost your SEO mojo.

4. Enhance the experience of live events: GoPro

Are your customers gathering together in real life? That’s what the marketing team at camera manufacturer GoPro realized could be a gold mine of UGC for them. Using the hashtag #GoProMusic, the company highlighted fan photos that were submitted to Instagram using their GoPro cameras at the Bonnaroo Music Festival.

This real-time submission of user-generated content not only increase the experience for fans who are actually at the music Festival, it provided a real-time demonstration of how users could use their GoPro cameras to share their own experiences.

user generated content

Your Takeaway: Build community with your customers by rallying around a live event – whether that’s Paris fashion week if you’re a fashion retailer, the Tour de France if you’re a bicycle company, or a big conference in your industry. Create a unique hashtag for users to share their experiences within your community.

5. Send your customers on an adventure: Clif Bar

Organic food and drink manufacturer Clif Bar & Company has long been associated with the outdoors and adventure. That’s why their #MeetTheMoment campaign is such a perfect fit. On the back of every one of their nutrition bars, you’ll find one of 20 different challenges, like “sleep under the stars,” and “paddle out”. Customers are encouraged to share their adventures using the hashtag.

Also quite fitting with the company’s platform of sustainability, every time someone uses the hashtag, the company makes a donation to an environmental nonprofit.

Clif Bar user generated content contest

Your Takeaway: How will your user-generated content campaign add value to your customers’ lives? Spark their sense of adventure and playfulness with a campaign that aligns with your company’s values.

Ready to run your own?

Before you get started, make sure you’re familiar with all the laws that may impact your campaign – both federal and state laws, as well as the terms and conditions on the social media sites you intend to use.

Some resources:

For more on the specifics of running a campaign, check out this post from Hootsuite, and this one from BufferApp.

Have you tried a user generated content strategy? Do you plan to? Let us know in the comments below. 

Lessons From 5 Amazing User Generated Content Campaigns was originally published by Jessie Kwak on IvyCat, Inc.

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5 Types of Events You Can Promote with Event Espresso https://ivycat.com/types-of-events-you-can-promote-with-event-espresso/ Thu, 07 Jul 2016 18:27:54 +0000 https://ivycat.com/?p=6029 If you host events, you have no doubt realized that they simply must be online. No matter the type of events you host, you need a website that not only showcases them, but enables online registration and ticketing. Check out these 5 types of events you can promote with Event Espresso. Read more...

5 Types of Events You Can Promote with Event Espresso was originally published by Tom Ewer on IvyCat, Inc.

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If you host events, you have no doubt realized that they simply must be online. No matter the type of events you host, you need a website that not only showcases them, but enables online registration and ticketing. Check out these 5 types of events you can promote with Event Espresso.

5 Types of Events You Can Promote with Event Espresso

Event Espresso is the most popular event management WordPress plugin, and it has a full-featured free version to get you started. Best of all, it works for many different types of events.

This post will take a look at several event types that can be managed with Event Espresso, complete with examples. By the time we’re done, you’ll know if Event Espresso is right for you!

1. Conferences

events you can promote with event espresso

The National Spine & Pain Centers uses Event Espresso’s ticket management for their annual conference on pain management.

A conference’s website is one of the most crucial parts of its marketing arsenal. It has to showcase the speakers, detail the schedule of sessions, and facilitate attendee registration.

Event Espresso is a powerful tool that enables conference organizers to easily market their event and sell tickets with a full-featured website. The Business of Pain Medicine conference website uses Event Espresso to make its website a useful home for this annual conference.

2. Classes

events you can promote with event espresso

The London School of Photography uses Event Espresso to manage classes and bookings.

If you’re offering classes to the public, whether online or offline, your website can be a key means of attracting the attention of potential students. Classes make perfect events you can promote with Event Espresso. You will want your website to make it easy for users to see the schedule and sign up for the classes they are interested in.

Event Espresso can power your class schedule calendar and make it easy for your students to sign up and pay for classes. The London School of Photography offers photography courses and workshops in London throughout the year, and they chose Event Espresso to handle their classes.

3. Social Events

events you can promote with event espresso

The Expats Club uses Event Espresso to manage their meetup events is several countries.

Social events are geared at bringing together people with common interests. To further this goal, social event organizers need their website to be easy to use and welcoming, to encourage people to sign up and take part in the events.

Event Espresso makes it really simple to show upcoming events and easily accept registrations. The Expats Club uses Event Espresso to manage their listings of events in more than eight cities.

4. Arts and Cultural Events

events you can promote with event espresso

The Santa Barbara Maritime Museum uses Event Espresso’s robust calendar and reservation system for their maritime heritage events.

Cultural organizations (such as museums) need to attract audiences, and events have proven to be a good way to get people in the door. They need engaging websites that showcase their calendar of activities. These are ideal events you can promote with Event Espresso.

Event Espresso is a solid solution to help arts and cultural organizations create websites that share details of upcoming activities for their visitors. The Santa Barbara Maritime Museum uses Event Espresso to highlight their calendar of lectures, exhibitions, and other activities.

5. Tours and Attractions

events you can promote with event espresso

Fort Edmonton Park is a multifaceted attraction that uses Event Espresso to handle general admission, memberships, and events for the park.

Visitors to tours and attraction websites are often very busy planning the rest of their trip, so the website has to be easy to use and enable visitors to quickly see a schedule and make bookings.

Event Espresso makes it easy for visitors to book tours and attractions with a clear schedule and simple booking process. The Fort Edmonton Park uses Event Espresso on their website to help visitors buy tickets for events and make bookings to visit the park.

Conclusion

Nowadays, many people will want to pay for your event online, and Event Espresso makes that easy. It works for a variety of event types, provides clear and easy to use event calendars, simple ticket purchases or bookings, and detailed event pages.

Some of the events you can promote with Event Espresso include:

  1. Conferences
  2. Classes
  3. Social events
  4. Arts and cultural events
  5. Tours and attractions

Event Espresso is IvyCat’s preferred plugin for events management, so if you need any help with its setup, contact us for a quote on a custom events management WordPress site using Event Espresso!

5 Types of Events You Can Promote with Event Espresso was originally published by Tom Ewer on IvyCat, Inc.

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Educational Marketing: Why Your E-commerce Business Needs This https://ivycat.com/educational-marketing/ Thu, 23 Jun 2016 18:06:11 +0000 https://ivycat.com/?p=6072 Every e-commerce company out there has the same problem: how do you convince somebody to buy your product? The answer is through educational marketing. Customer education can be used at all stages of the buyer’s journey. From the awareness stage through the consideration and decision stages – and even beyond the purchase. Read more...

Educational Marketing: Why Your E-commerce Business Needs This was originally published by Jessie Kwak on IvyCat, Inc.

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Every e-commerce company out there has the same problem: how do you convince somebody to buy your product? The answer is through educational marketing. Customer education can be used at all stages of the buyer’s journey. From the awareness stage through the consideration and decision stages – and even beyond the purchase.

(The concept of the buyer’s journey is most often used in B2B marketing, but e-commerce sites with a consumer-directs focus can still gain a lot by thinking this way.)

If you think about the content you’ve watched, read, or listened to today, chances are some of it was part of an educational marketing initiative. Including a lot of the content you’ll find right here on this blog.

Customer education is a smart marketing tactic for any e-commerce company, but it’s especially important when you’re trying to sell bigger ticket items or subscriptions – something like the Dollar Shave Club, or Blue Apron – where the costs of returns and customer churn are much greater.

Here’s how to get started.

(A quick note: I’m going to talk about this concept in how it applies to marketing a specific product, but educational content can also be used in marketing your brand as a whole.)

Educational Marketing – How To Implement It For Your E-commerce Site

Educate your customers about their needs

In the early stages of the customer’s journey, you’ll need to educate your customers on exactly why they need your product.

This is often called the awareness stage of the buyer’s journey. In it, you’re making your customers aware of their pain. Maybe that pain is that’s all their favorite clothes have faded in the wash – that’s where Tide comes in to save the day. Or, maybe that pain is not finding time to go to the grocery store and get ingredients for healthy meals – enter Blue Apron.

In many cases, your customers may already be aware of the pain. If they’re experiencing acid reflux or sleepless nights, for example, they’re probably already searching for a solution. But other times, your customers may not realize that they need your solution. That’s where customer education becomes really important.

Let me give you a specific example from my week.

I love camping. Yes, you always have to find and clear a spot for your tent, but that’s just how things are. It’s annoying, but I’m not looking for a solution – why would I?

And then my aunt shared this video on Facebook.

The instant I saw the video, I became very aware of my need to set up a tent without having to clear a spot, or contend with lumpy, wet ground.

I can’t stop obsessing about these tents. Just ask my husband.

Now, this video may not have struck the same chord with you, and that’s fine. You may not be Tentsile’s target market in the same way that I am.

In fact, that brings us to a good point:

Getting your customers to self-identify

The goal of customer education isn’t to try to convert every visitor or social media follower into a buyer. The goal of customer education is to create compelling pieces of content that cause your ideal buyers to self identify.

Because the Tentsile video is so unique and shareable, my aunt posted it on Facebook. Other people who saw it may have just shrugged their shoulders and moved on, but I looked at it and said, “Please, who can I give my money to?”

Best content types for Awareness Stage education:

  • Promotional videos
  • Infographics
  • Traditional advertising campaigns
  • Fun “gimmick” campaigns

Educate your customers about how to shop for a solution

Once your customers are aware of their needs, you need to start educating them about how to shop for the right solution. In the case of Tentsile, now that they have me daydreaming about my need for a good night’s sleep camping, they need to create educational content that nudges me towards their solution while I’m considering my options to solve my problem.

Basically, you want to make sure that once your customers are aware of their problem, they don’t choose a different solution entirely.

This type of content will straddle the gap between awareness and decision. It could come in the form of longer promotional videos that teach a customer more about your product and offerings. It could come in the form of blog posts that teach a customer about nuances and things they should consider.

For Tentsile, a good form of consideration stage educational marketing might be a video about how traditional tent camping causes excessive wear and tear on forests, whereas sleeping in a suspended hammock reduces your footprint. Or, this blog post about how camping is evolving.

educational marketing

Best content types for Consideration Stage education:

  • Blog posts
  • Videos
  • Articles
  • Email newsletters
  • Infographics

Educate your customers about why your product is the right solution

Lastly, you need to educate your customers during the decision phase of their journey. Here, your customers are aware that they have a problem, they’re informed about the types of solutions out there, and they’re ready to hit the “Buy” button.

This is where you knock your customers’ socks off with information about why your solution is better than your competitors’.

At this stage, your customers aren’t looking for flashy advertisements and promotional videos – they’re looking for nuts and bolts content. How many nodes do your widgets have? How durable are the materials you use? How good is your customer service?

In the decision phase, your customers want the nitty-gritty details they need to know in order to choose your product over somebody else’s. This type of educational marketing comes in the form of things like this video from Tentsile’s FAQ page that shows how to set up their tents.

educational marketing

Best content types for Decision Stage education

  • Website copy
  • Blog posts
  • Email newsletters
  • Product descriptions
  • Informational videos
  • Case studies
  • Spec sheets
  • FAQ pages

A note about CTAs

Once you have your educational content mapped out to each stage of the buyer’s journey, take a minute to think about your calls to action. In the earlier stages of the buyer’s journey, those CTAs should be things like “Learn More.” It’s unlikely a customer will want to buy in the first minute they’re made aware of your product, which is why you want to try to lead them along and educate them further before pressing them to convert.

Save the “Buy Now” CTAs for educational content that’s further down the funnel.

Of course, this will vary depending on your product and target audience. The best thing to do is to A/B test your CTAs in order to see which ones are the most effective.

Do you use educational marketing to sell your products? What has your experience been? Let us know in the comments.

Educational Marketing: Why Your E-commerce Business Needs This was originally published by Jessie Kwak on IvyCat, Inc.

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6072 Why – and How – You Should Be Educating Your Customers Every e-commerce company out there has the same problem: how do you convince somebody to buy your product? The answer is through customer education. Customer education can be used at all stages of the buyer’s journey. From the awareness stage through the consideration and decision stages – and even customer education,customer engagement,ecommerce,ecommerce marketing,educational marketing,sales funnel,educational marketing Screenshot 2016-06-20 16.26.25 Screenshot 2016-06-20 16.23.28
8 Interesting Content Marketing Trends [Infographic] https://ivycat.com/8-fascinating-content-marketing-trends-2016/ https://ivycat.com/8-fascinating-content-marketing-trends-2016/#comments Fri, 17 Jun 2016 17:05:04 +0000 https://ivycat.com/?p=6055 Staying on top of the latest content marketing trends is key to any Wordpress business site's success. Content marketing is not only the most affordable marketing strategy, it's also the best way to reach your ideal customers and clients. Read more...

8 Interesting Content Marketing Trends [Infographic] was originally published by Jenny Bones on IvyCat, Inc.

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Staying on top of the latest content marketing trends is key to any WordPress business site’s success. Content marketing is not only the most affordable marketing strategy, it’s also the best way to reach your ideal customers and clients.

CJG Digital Marketing has put together an interesting infographic exploring today’s most popular content marketing trends, as well as some interesting predictions for future strategies. According to their article, CJG explains that:

“Content marketing is not all about dominating organic search. It entails getting your message across to the right audience using the right tools and channels that deliver results. Market growth is very promising, moving at speeds of 12.4% CAGR each year. At this rate, it can eventually reach figures of up to 32.4 billion dollars by the year 2018.

But the market is constantly changing and getting your content across to your audience keeps getting more difficult and complex. New technologies and tools are constantly emerging and it takes some effort just to keep up. Content marketing strategies that are working today might not generate the same results in the coming periods.”

Content Marketing Trends

 

content marketing trends

 

Content marketing has long been touted as the “main arm” of any successful online marketing strategy. It’s inexpensive, effective and a perfect way to reach your intended audience with the most precision and efficiency.

We’d love to hear what you think of CJG’s observations and predictions. Which content marketing trends are you finding most effective this year? Leave comment below and let us know.

8 Interesting Content Marketing Trends [Infographic] was originally published by Jenny Bones on IvyCat, Inc.

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Earning Your Customers’ Trust in 5 Simple Steps https://ivycat.com/earning-customers-trust/ Thu, 09 Jun 2016 16:03:52 +0000 https://ivycat.com/?p=5897 Earning your customers' trust should be your first priority as an e-commerce business owner. Once you get traffic to your site, you want visitors to take action, select products and place an order. But nobody wants to buy from someone they don’t know and trust – especially online. Read more...

Earning Your Customers’ Trust in 5 Simple Steps was originally published by Tom Ewer on IvyCat, Inc.

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Earning your customers’ trust should be your first priority as an e-commerce business owner. Once you get traffic to your site, you want visitors to take action, select products and place an order. But nobody wants to buy from someone they don’t know and trust – especially online.

Even though sales continue to grow, trust is a major issue in e-commerce, as customers are all too familiar with stories of website scams. However, you can establish trust with your customers through some simple changes to your website.

In this article we will share five easy steps to earning your customers’ trust, so they will be comfortable making purchases on your website.

Earning Your Customers’ Trust

1. Add a Personal Touch

Earning Your Customers' Trust

The founders of Calico Wallpaper share their story and photos of the process on their About page.

 

It is a simple truth that people trust people – not websites or businesses. So, your online store needs to have a human face for your customers to relate to, so they can see that there are real people behind the business.

Showcase yourself and your team by using names and images of the people in your business on your About page and throughout your website. Adding that human factor can make your customers feel more comfortable.

2. Anticipate Their Questions

Earning Your Customers' Trust

Vers Audio provides prospective customers with detailed FAQs, user manuals, and multiple means of contact.

 

When buying in a physical store, customers can ask the salesperson all their questions before buying. Not being able to get the answers they need can make them hesitate before purchasing online.

Make sure your website includes ways for your customers to get all the information and support they need. Your customers expect to see a contact page with all your details and a form, Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs), and customer support options.

3. Secure Your Website

Earning Your Customers' Trust

Output ensures customers enter their billing information on a secure page at checkout.

 

Your customers have all seen stories about website hacks in the news, and the average customer wants to feel safe when handing over their information. For many people, the fear of credit card data theft is a strong deterrent to shopping online.

Securing your website and showing the customer that you have done so is a necessity to earning their trust. Using SSL and displaying the certificate symbol is a key first step.

4. Highlight Social Proof

Earning Your Customers' Trust

Best Ever shows off the reviews from professionals using their saddle pads.

 

Customers want to see that they are not your guinea pigs. They need to know that others before them have purchased from you and been very satisfied with your product or service. This will make them feel much more comfortable making a purchase.

Feature testimonials from previous customers (especially if you can get video) to show your customers that they are in good hands. CopyBlogger has some solid tips for great testimonials.

5. Reduce the Customer’s Risk

earning your customers' trust

Alkemistry reassures its customers with a returns and refund policy.

 

Once they know their data is going to be safe, the next biggest fear of many customers is that they will have wasted their money and not actually like your product or service. Most will look for a returns policy before purchasing – especially on higher priced products and services.

Studies consistently show that lenient returns policies encourage purchases. Reduce the risk for your customers by addressing their concerns up front with shipping and return information. You’ll get even more points if you offer a guarantee.

Conclusion

If you want to get visitors to buy from your website, you need to convince them that you (and your site) can be trusted. Although people are more comfortable than ever buying online, they are also more wary of sites they don’t know.

Above we outlined five ways you can earn the trust of your customers by making some changes to your website:

  1. Add a personal touch
  2. Anticipate your customers’ questions
  3. Secure your website
  4. Highlight social proof
  5. Reduce your customers’ risk

Customers are the lifeblood of your online business, so do what you can to show them you are worth their time and money.

Leave a comment below and let us know how you earn your customers’ trust, or shoot over any questions you might have about how you can do so more effectively. We’d love to hear from you!

Earning Your Customers’ Trust in 5 Simple Steps was originally published by Tom Ewer on IvyCat, Inc.

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5 Proven Online Marketing Strategies and Tactics for E-commerce Sites https://ivycat.com/online-marketing-strategies-and-tactics/ https://ivycat.com/online-marketing-strategies-and-tactics/#comments Thu, 02 Jun 2016 18:28:23 +0000 https://ivycat.com/?p=5952 We all think we're in full control of our minds, especially when it comes to deciding where and how to spend our money. However, most people don’t realize that buying behavior can be influenced by taking advantage of the way our brains work. In this article, we will share five proven online marketing strategies and tactics you can use to subtly influence your website visitors to buy more. Read more...

5 Proven Online Marketing Strategies and Tactics for E-commerce Sites was originally published by Tom Ewer on IvyCat, Inc.

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Everyone knows that developing effective online marketing strategies and tactics to drive traffic to your WordPress e-commerce store is the hard part. However, once the traffic is flowing to your site, the work doesn’t stop there – you’ll still need to persuade them to buy from you.

We all think we’re in full control of our minds, especially when it comes to deciding where and how to spend our money. However, most people don’t realize that buying behavior can be influenced by taking advantage of the way our brains work.

In this article, we will share five proven online marketing strategies and tactics you can use to subtly influence your website visitors – converting them from online window shoppers to customers – and increase your conversion rates.

 

Online Marketing Strategies and Tactics to Convert Visitors Into Customers

 

1. Create a Sense of Urgency

 

Online Marketing Strategies and Tactics for E-commerce Sites

Amazon, with their countdown deals, is the master of urgency.

It’s human nature to want what we can’t have, so limited availability of a product increases its perceived value. Creating a furore over a rapidly dwindling product also tells us that others have purchased the item – and if we want to be one of them too, we have to hurry.

Many WordPress e-commerce stores have learned that showing the quantity of product left in inventory will encourage visitors to buy, especially when only a few units are left. Countdown timers can also be effective to show a finite period of availability.

2. Use a Customer’s Fear of Missing Out

Online Marketing Strategies and Tactics for E-commerce Sites

Civilist makes sure to show you the original cost next to the sale price.

People hate to think they missed out on something valuable by doing nothing. Wasted opportunity can haunt us, even for relatively minor life choices, such as buying a pair of shoes.

Showing your customers what they’d be missing out on is a good trigger for purchasing. By displaying the original price of a product along with a discounted price and the saving made, you show your visitors the cost of procrastinating.

3. Reduce the Risk of Buying

Online Marketing Strategies and Tactics for E-commerce Sites

Twillory’s free shipping and returns makes ordering a no-brainer.

Though it feels like online shopping has been around forever, many people still have anxiety over purchasing online. They may be especially cautious on a first-time visit to your store.

To entice visitors to actually make a purchase, reduce their risk as much as possible by eliminating any concerns they have. Lifetime warranties, money back guarantees, and no questions asked returns make the decision process smooth and simple by removing the barriers between the customer and their wallet.

4. Reduce Cart Abandonment

Online Marketing Strategies and Tactics for E-commerce Sites

A one-page checkout reduces the risk you’ll abandon Roberto Coin’s expensive jewelry in your cart.

E-commerce store owners who closely follow their statistics will realize that too many customers abandon their shopping carts. There are several reasons this could happen, but the essential point is the cost to you when people leave without buying.

One way of reducing cart abandonment is to make purchasing as easy as possible once at the checkout page. A one-click or express checkout means information can be entered quickly and easily before clicking Buy.

5. Offer Reassurance to Your Customers

Online Marketing Strategies and Tactics for E-commerce Sites

Kawaii Box knows you’ll trust independent bloggers more about their products, compared to the usual sales copy.

Independent opinions are important to customers when making a purchase. In fact, they are often (unsurprisingly) judged as more unbiased and trustworthy, with most customers preferring to buy from a site that has user reviews.

Using customer reviews in your WordPress e-commerce store can help reassure others about their potential purchase. They will see that not only have other people purchased your products, they’ve received, used, and liked them.

Conclusion

It may not seem obvious, but simply getting visitors to visit your WordPress e-commerce website is not enough to get them to buy. Making an online purchase involves a very detailed (often unconscious) thought process that you, the merchant, has to contend with.

In this article, we outlined five subtle online marketing strategies and tactics you can use to influence the decision-making process of your website’s visitors:

  1. Create a sense of urgency.
  2. Use their fear of missing out.
  3. Reduce the risk of purchase.
  4. Reduce cart abandonment.
  5. Offer them reassurance.

If you’re looking for a little help with your WordPress e-commerce website, we are always on-hand to assist. Fire away in the comments section below, or feel free to drop us a line!

Image credit: PublicDomainPictures.

5 Proven Online Marketing Strategies and Tactics for E-commerce Sites was originally published by Tom Ewer on IvyCat, Inc.

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5 Ways to Create a Personalized Shopping Experience https://ivycat.com/5-ways-to-create-a-personalized-shopping-experience/ Thu, 26 May 2016 19:46:04 +0000 https://ivycat.com/?p=5958 It won’t be news to you that online shopping is highly competitive space. Between their constant searching for a better deal and ever-decreasing attention spans, customers can be hard to retain. Plus, “customer loyalty” sounds like a phrase out of some nostalgic old film. Fortunately, e-commerce companies have a powerful tool at their service - learning to create a personalized shopping experience.

Read more...

5 Ways to Create a Personalized Shopping Experience was originally published by Jessie Kwak on IvyCat, Inc.

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It won’t be news to you that online shopping is highly competitive space. Between their constant searching for a better deal and ever-decreasing attention spans, customers can be hard to retain. Plus, “customer loyalty” sounds like a phrase out of some nostalgic old film. Fortunately, e-commerce companies have a powerful tool at their service – learning to create a personalized shopping experience.

Cookies, marketing automation tools, and analytics programs are making it possible to get the experience of shopping alongside a helpful salesperson at a brick-and-mortar store – all without leaving your home. E-commerce companies can learn their customers’ wants, needs, and preferences in order to create a smoother shopping experience and cross-sell additional items.

According to Econsultancy, 74% of marketers say targeted personalization increases customer engagement, which can lead to increased sales, and a recent survey by E-tailing Group Inc. showed that 40% of consumers would prefer to buy from retailers that cater to their preferences. Yet many e-commerce companies have been slow to adopt personalization. Here are five ways you can get started today.

How to Create a Personalized Shopping Experience for Your Online Customers

1. Hand-curated product picks

When you walk into a department store, do you spend hours wandering the aisles until you find the right section, or do you scan the directory and head straight to the thing you want to buy? When a customer arrives on your e-commerce site, they do the same thing – clicking on the menu to go to the department they want.

But what if you could walk into that department store – or load up the front page of the e-commerce site – and be shown exactly what you’re looking for, right off the bat? (Without having to wade past the perfume counter, no less!)

Customer experience optimization platforms allow you to gather information about the customer’s demographics and preferences, then adapt your website interface to show what they’re most likely to be looking for. Whether that’s highlighting your menswear to a male browser, or showing off your rain jackets to visitors from colder zipcodes.

Don’t believe customer experience optimization works? Check out this study on how The Clymb used Optimizely to increase sales by 12%.

2. Personalize email

How many marketing emails to you actually open? Not very many? Yeah – neither do your customers.

Personalizing your email campaigns can increase your open and click through rates, and according to Experian Marketing Services, personalized emails generate up to 6 times higher revenue per email than do non-personalized emails. Customers know the emails are still automated, but if you can come up with a way to make them feel special? Gold!

In another study, Experian found that birthday and anniversary emails had an especially high transaction rate when compared to standard bulk mailings – almost fives times for birthday mailings and six times for anniversary mailings. With only the click of a few automation buttons and collection of a little bit of data, you can send customers a specialized coupon or other gift they can actually use.

Need inspiration? Check out this collection of personalized email campaigns on Hubspot.

3. Reward brand ambassadors

You hear it over and over again – consumers are more likely to buy a product a friend recommends over something they simply saw an ad for. If you have a fantastic product, it’s probable that customers are already raving about it. Thank them, and make their shopping experience a bit more personalized by rewarding them with discounts when they share your products on social media.

The Social Coupon plugin will automate that for you. When a customer shares a page as they shop, a coupon code is automatically added to their cart. This plugin works with the WooCommerce couponing system, and you can control where the sharing buttons appears on your WordPress website using shortcode.

create a personalized shopping experience

4. Action-Based Personalization

While some of these ideas involve already knowing information about your customer, it’s also possible to deliver personalization just in the moment. Action-based personalization is a responsive tool that changes what a customer sees on your website based on the actions she takes there, like adding or removing items from the shopping cart, viewing products, entering information, and answering surveys.

The way you change your site to create a personalized shopping experience for your customers can include things like also-bought recommendations, links to relevant content, wish list or “buy later” list reminders, and automatically moving abandoned shopping cart items onto a wish list.

The more data is gathered about the customer, the more personalized your e-commerce site will be – and the more your customer will start to feel like they’re getting a private concierge experience.

5. Machine learning

Machine learning is the personalization of the future, according to this fantastic article on Shopify. It’s already being used in online courses and higher education to customize student learning paths, and – of course – behemoths like Amazon have been using algorithms to make recommendations and learn your shopping habits for years.

As Andrea Wahbe writes on Shopify: “This “super concierge” concept is not far off from what high-end brick and mortar fashion stores do already – which is get to know their best and most loyal customers’ personal tastes, clothing size and their personalities to recommend products, or even put something aside for them to try on when they are back in the store.”

The tools are still developing, but when they do e-commerce stores will be able to create a personalized shopping experience that is even more powerful – making even the biggest e-retailer feel like it knows the customer as well as a mom-and-pop shop.

How do you create a personalized shopping experience for your online customers? Share your tips and ask any questions below!

5 Ways to Create a Personalized Shopping Experience was originally published by Jessie Kwak on IvyCat, Inc.

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