IvyCat, Inc. Web Hosting, Design & Development 2017-11-16T22:57:47Z https://ivycat.com/feed/atom/ Jessie Kwak http://www.jlkwak.com <![CDATA[Last-Minute Black Friday Prep for Your WordPress Site]]> https://ivycat.com/?p=6504 2017-11-15T20:02:22Z 2017-11-16T22:57:47Z The turkey’s in the fridge, the pumpkin pies have been ordered, and you’ve managed to track down those crispy onion … Continued

Last-Minute Black Friday Prep for Your WordPress Site was originally published by Jessie Kwak on IvyCat, Inc.

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The turkey’s in the fridge, the pumpkin pies have been ordered, and you’ve managed to track down those crispy onion thingies for the green bean casserole. You’re ready for Thanksgiving. But have you done your Black Friday prep to ensure your e-commerce site ready for the day after?

Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and — increasingly — “Couch Thursday” are getting bigger than ever. According to Internet Retailer, e-commerce spending in the 2017 holiday season is expected to have another double-digit increase over last year. You have one week left to make sure your e-commerce site is prepped for the uptick in traffic! Here’s a handy checklist to get you started.

Test Your WordPress Site

Is your website up to handle the surge in traffic? The last thing you want is for your site to go down during peak holiday shopping times. Stress test your site now in order to avoid any unpleasant surprises later on.

Check out these tools:

  • Google PageSpeed Insights — Measures your site’s performance across a variety of devices.
  • Pingdom — Helps you analyze the load speed of your site and gives you tips for improving it.
  • WebPagetest — Run simple or advanced speed tests.

When you’re done, optimize your site’s speed in order to retain as much of that traffic as possible.

Streamline Your Checkout

Make it as easy as pie for customers to hit the buy button by streamlining your e-commerce checkout.

Ask yourself:

  • Do customers have a variety of options for payment (i.e. Paypal, credit card, etc.)?
  • Do you have guest checkout options enabled for speedy shoppers?
  • Are your “Buy” buttons obvious?
  • Is the next step clear?
  • Can you reduce the number of steps even more?

Learn more: Top 5 Ways to Increase E-commerce Conversions

Establish Trust

With high-profile data breaches and fraud transactions all over the news, consumers are understandably leery about handing over their personal information to a company they don’t know. Make sure your e-commerce site has all the markers of security:

  • Your photos and copy are professional (no spelling errors or issues with the design)
  • Enable your SSL certificate (HTTPS)
  • Provide safe payment options, like PayPal
  • Add social proof, such as social media badges, customer reviews, testimonials, and press coverage
  • Have a variety of real ways to contact you (phone number, address, contact form, email)

Learn more: 6 Simple Ways to Increase WordPress Security

Prepare Your Customer Service

Your website isn’t the only thing about to get overrun during the holidays! Make sure your customer service team is prepared for the increase in communications, too.

  • Beef up your FAQ page to answer any recurring questions and save your team’s bandwidth
  • Make sure your contact details are obvious
  • Consider adding a live chat option to help customers make decisions quickly
  • Monitor your social media to catch any questions there
  • Make sure your return policies are hassle-free and visible

(If you want to learn more about integrating live chat into your store, Shopify has a great blog post about it.)

Clarify Shipping Dates

The biggest question people have about online holiday shopping is: Will it get to me in time? Be especially clear about shipping specials, cutoff dates, and rates in order to increase conversions.

  • Advertise your free shipping or other shipping specials
  • Post your delivery dates prominently!
  • Work to get your shipping rates reasonable

Learn more: Do These 9 Things NOW to Prep Your E-Commerce Site for the Holidays

Capitalize on Browsing Customers

Along with good paying customers, you’ll have plenty of browsers over Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Most e-commerce sites see a big uptick in abandoned carts over that weekend. Of course, there’s still time to convert these lookers into buyers — if your site is optimized to take advantage of them!

  • Set up automated abandoned cart emails to bring them back to complete the purchase
  • Use Google Analytics to track site traffic and make improvements
  • Use retargeting ads to remind browsers about the products they were viewing

Learn more: Your 12-Step Plan for Holiday Email Marketing

Use Black Friday Prep to Launch a Fantastic 2018

Sure, there’s not much time left to capitalize on Black Friday — but improvements you make to your e-commerce site’s performance, security, and marketing automation will bring you great results far into the future.

Happy Thanksgiving! May your Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales be as fulfilling as all that turkey you’ve got your eye on.

Last-Minute Black Friday Prep for Your WordPress Site was originally published by Jessie Kwak on IvyCat, Inc.

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Jessie Kwak http://www.jlkwak.com <![CDATA[Don’t Make these Holiday E-commerce Mistakes!]]> https://ivycat.com/?p=6304 2017-10-17T18:44:57Z 2017-10-25T22:00:27Z This holiday season, more shoppers than ever are turning to the Internet. If you are in the e-commerce business, that’s … Continued

Don’t Make these Holiday E-commerce Mistakes! was originally published by Jessie Kwak on IvyCat, Inc.

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This holiday season, more shoppers than ever are turning to the Internet. If you are in the e-commerce business, that’s great news. However, along with the potential for increased traffic and sales this season, there’s also the potential to make serious holiday e-commerce mistakes that might haunt you for the year to come.

Watch out for these 6 common culprits:

Website not ready for holiday traffic

Most e-commerce companies are hoping for surge in traffic to their websites this time of year — particularly if they are upping their advertising as well. But don’t simply spend money driving more traffic and forget about optimizing your poor website! An increase in visitors can lead to slow site speeds or even a total crash.

Not only will you lose a ton of sales if your site goes down, but holiday shoppers are notoriously impatient. If visitors get frustrated by your website speeds, they may just move on to the next item on their list.

To learn more about prepping your website for increased traffic, check out this post: Optimizing WordPress to Increase Your Website Speed (Infographic)

Shipping dates aren’t clear

This time of year, you can guarantee most of your customers are wanting to receive their purchases by a certain date. Spelling out your shipping cutoff dates throughout your website is critical — not just on your FAQ page, but also in a big, bold banner on the front page. If there’s any uncertainty about whether or not their gifts will arrive on time, customers may abandon their shopping carts in favor of a safer bet.

Since so many people are last-minute shoppers, is also worth making sure you have expedited shipping options, too.

While you’re at it, now is a good time to clearly spell out return policies. Not only will this help clear up confusion after the holidays, having clear return policies will help reassure gift-givers who are considering your products.

Lack of guidance

Gift guides are hugely popular pieces of content this time of year — after all, we’re all looking for inspiration! (By the way, if you have any idea what my husband wants for Christmas, let me know.)

Give your customers a hand by curating gift guides aimed at your target audience. This should of course include your products, but could also include complementary products that add value. Share these guides to social media accounts, email them to your newsletter subscribers, and feature them prominently on your websites.

This is also a good time to spruce up the copy on your website to state exactly who your products might be for. Be descriptive, and help customers envision exactly who on their gift list is a perfect match. And, of course, don’t forget to highlight cross-sells in order to increase your order values!

Learn more: Does Your Site Make Every Customer Feel Special?

Not collecting information

During the holidays, you’ll probably have a lot of new visitors to your site. This is a perfect time to make sure you’re grabbing their information with an exit pop-up box or other form, so you can get them into your marketing funnel. Whether or not they purchase, providing them a fantastic holiday shopping experience right now is the opportunity to make customers for life and grow your business in the years to come.

Think of enticements like free shipping or free gift offers not only as a way to make the sale, but also as a way to build your audience. Both will be important as you grow your business — and missing out on this treasure trove of information could be one of the biggest holiday e-commerce mistakes you make!

Learn more: Earning Your Customers’ Trust in 5 Simple Steps

Skimping on customer service

Holiday shoppers are in a rush, and because they are shopping for gifts, they often need a little more handholding. Make sure your customer service staff is up to snuff by responding quickly to customer inquiries through all channels, and providing a pleasant shopping experience. Don’t forget channels like social media, where more and more consumers are now turning to contact companies.

Head off common questions and concerns by addressing them in your website copy or FAQ — this will not only lighten the load on your customer service team, it will also help capture sales from customers who may not like asking for help, and will just move on if they have to many questions about your products.

Learn more: The Key to a Seamless Omnichannel Strategy? Focus on the Humans

Competing only on price

Yes, holiday shoppers are looking for good deals, but that doesn’t mean you should automatically join the race to the bottom when it comes to pricing. Discounting your prices too early, too deep, and for too long can give the impression that you are a bargain brand. Instead of only competing on price, think of other ways to differentiate yourself:

  • Customer service
  • Quality
  • Convenience
  • Selection
  • Mission
  • Integrity
  • Brand personality
  • Community

Whatever your brand is at the beginning of the holiday season, make sure your holiday promotions don’t undermine that message. Continue focusing on building your customer base with your true loyal fans, and you’ll see long-term success.

Check yourself for these holiday e-commerce mistakes, and then take a deep breath.

Happy holidays!

Don’t Make these Holiday E-commerce Mistakes! was originally published by Jessie Kwak on IvyCat, Inc.

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Jessie Kwak http://www.jlkwak.com <![CDATA[Why Your E-Commerce Email List is a Goldmine]]> https://ivycat.com/?p=6487 2017-10-12T20:18:40Z 2017-10-12T22:00:43Z Many companies underutilize their e-commerce email list because they worry that they won’t have anything to say, or that their … Continued

Why Your E-Commerce Email List is a Goldmine was originally published by Jessie Kwak on IvyCat, Inc.

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Many companies underutilize their e-commerce email list because they worry that they won’t have anything to say, or that their customers might think that their emails are spammy. And, let’s face it, many e-commerce newsletters are. But when used right, your email list can be a goldmine of great customer intel, engagement, and sales.

The key to writing an email newsletter that gets opened — and gets results — is to think like your customer. What content would they find most useful? What deals most enticing? Look at your own email inbox for inspiration. Which emails are you always excited to open? Which do you automatically delete?

Keep in mind that you can probably be a bit more sales-y then you think in an email newsletter and get away with it. Of course you want your email to be useful, but remember that the people on your email list have given you permission to sell to them, and they expect a certain amount of special offers and promotions!

Feeling reassured? Let’s get into the top reasons why your e-commerce email list is a goldmine.

An email list lets us all get to know each other better

You can use your email newsletter to turn one-time shoppers into lifelong fans by helping them get to know you better. Set up an email autoresponder series to welcome new customers — introduce them to your company ethos, help them explore your other product lines, tell them about your customer loyalty program, and incentivize them to come back and shop your site again with a special offer like in-store credit or a limited time discount.

Along with teaching your customers about you, an email list can help you get to know your customers better, too. Mine your demographic data for insights, such as how many of your customers use mobile, or where they’re geographically located. You can even use emails surveys to ask questions about their preferences and shopping habits.

It lets you educate your customers

You can use automated emails to educate your customers in timely moments. For example, when their shipment first arrives.

Most of us are extremely excited when our new product shows up on the doorstep — and companies should be, too. Because the moment your customer first gets his or her hands on their shipment is a great opportunity for you to engage with them.

Send an automated email that the shipment should’ve arrived (with a link to your customer service just in case anything has gone wrong), then use this email as an opportunity to educate your customers. Provide links to quick tutorials, or short tips in the body of the email to explain how to get the most out of it. You could also include testimonials or examples from other users to give them inspiration.

You can also use your emails to educate your customers about your products. For example, to upsell related items. Do you sell a necklace that would go perfectly with that scoop-not dress they just bought? What about a personalized carrying case an extra charger set for that new gizmo? Put yourself in your customer’s shoes and ask this question: What will make them think, “That’s exactly what I needed!”

Be careful of using your newsletter to constantly hawk products, however. Use your newsletter to showcase other things you think your customers might be interested in, like content on your blog, or a gift guide around the holidays. Just remember that if you want people to open your email, you need to make it constantly worth reading.

Learn more: Educational Marketing: Why Your E-commerce Business Needs This

It promotes a feeling of community

Your customers are a special bunch — so use your email newsletter to make them feel like part of the club.

One way to do this is, of course, by offering them exclusive discounts that aren’t available to non-subscribers. But another fun way is to use your newsletter to showcase things other customers are doing through Instagram photos, highlighted reviews, or other user generated content. You might even feature a valued customer in your newsletter along with a quick Q&A about themselves.

Emails are a great way to both solicit and share social proof with your customers. Try sending an email checking in to see how everything is going with the product, and asking for feedback. If something is going wrong, being preemptive is a good way to win a customer’s trust. If everything is going great, it might just be the nudge they need to go leave that glowing review.

If they feel a connection with you and other customers through your email newsletter, they’ll be happy to help you out!

It can reengage old customers

It would be unnerving if the owner of the grocery store you no longer shop at knocked on your door one day to ask you to come back. But with email marketing, you can run an automated re-engagement campaign to do just that — with way less creep factor.

Segment your newsletter for people that haven’t been to shop with you lately, then try to coax them back to your store with special offers, personalized suggestions of new products that they might find interesting, announcements about features they may have missed, and other incentives to get in touch. You can also send out surveys asking what would bring them back, which can be a valuable source of data.

It takes less energy to encourage a lapsed customer to give you a second chance than it does to woo someone new — especially if you already have their email address.

Learn more: Earning Your Customers’ Trust in 5 Simple Steps

Have you seen good results with your e-commerce newsletter? Let us know how in the comments!

Why Your E-Commerce Email List is a Goldmine was originally published by Jessie Kwak on IvyCat, Inc.

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Jessie Kwak http://www.jlkwak.com <![CDATA[6 Simple Ways to Increase WordPress Security]]> https://ivycat.com/?p=6473 2017-09-27T16:37:04Z 2017-09-27T10:09:40Z Data breaches and website hacks of huge companies are the ones that make the news — but did you know that … Continued

6 Simple Ways to Increase WordPress Security was originally published by Jessie Kwak on IvyCat, Inc.

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Data breaches and website hacks of huge companies are the ones that make the news — but did you know that 62 percent of all cyber attack victims are small and medium-sized businesses?

In part, that’s because many of them are complacent about WordPress security, thinking they’re so small they’ll fly below the radar. But you know better than that — you read the IvyCat blog!

A hacked WordPress site can seriously damage your ecommerce business’ revenue and reputation, not to mention giving hackers access to your customer information and even the ability to distribute malware to your users.

Here are six things you can do (no coding required!) to make your WordPress site more secure.

Get more tips: 6 Ecommerce Mistakes Every New Business Needs to Avoid

Secure Access to Your Site

Everyone’s default WordPress login page is www.yoursite.com/wp-admin. Hackers know that, which is why they often start here when trying to break in to your site.

Take these basic precautions to keep them from simply waltzing in your website’s front door:

  • Change the default “admin” user to something unique
  • Use secure passwords and change them regularly (if you have multiple users, use a plugin like Force Strong Passwords)
  • Use 2-factor authentication such as Google Authenticator to verify users
  • Set up a lockdown feature for failed login attempts with a plugin like WP Limit Login Attempts.

Improve your WordPress security by securing your login page

Use SSL to Encrypt Data

If you subscribe to our newsletter, you’ll have seen that as of October, Google will start warning people if they’re on a page with a form that’s not secured with HTTPS. That’s because implementing an SSL (Secure Socket Layer) certificate ensures secure data transfer between browsers and the server, making it harder for hackers to break into the connection.

In the interest of WordPress security and customer confidence, making the move to HTTPS is smart. Check out this tutorial from KeyCDN for more information.

Update Your Site Regularly

WordPress will automatically take care of minor updates (you should get an email when this happens), but you’ll need to manually install major release updates. WordPress makes this easy, but we highly recommend that you make a backup of your site first in case there are any problems.

Improve your WordPress security by updating your site

It’s important to update not only your core WordPress software, but also keep an eye on your plug-ins and themes. Plug-ins and themes are normally maintained by third-party developers; when they’re ready for an update, you’ll see it from your dashboard. Be sure that your core WordPress and themes are updated first, however, or a plugin update could cause your theme to crash.

It’s also a good idea to delete any inactive plug-ins that you don’t plan on using again. Hackers can use flaws in old code — even in inactive plug-ins — to install malware on your site.

(Want someone else to keep an eye on updates for you? Check out our WordPress support and maintenance plan.)

Back Up Your Site Regularly

Whether your site’s been hacked or a stray comma in your code crashes everything, knowing your WordPress site is safely backed up is a huge relief. It’s easy to do using plugins like VaultPress or BackupBuddy.

We recommend you back up your site more frequently if you make regular changes or have a lot of transactions. We perform daily off-site backups for customers on our WordPress support and maintenance plans.

Improve your WordPress security with a plugin like VaultPress

Choose a Secure Host

You can have the most locked-down car in the world, but if you park it in a seedy garage with no security, you’re asking for trouble. That’s why it’s so important to pick a reputable shared hosting provider like BlueHost or SiteGround, which take extra measures to protect their servers against outside threats.

Some of the features that you should look for are:

  • Support for the latest PHP and MySQL versions
  • Account isolation
  • Web Application Firewall
  • Intrusion detecting system

Learn more: Hosted vs Self Hosted E-Commerce Sites: What You Need to Know

Put Your WordPress Security in Trusted Hands

Hackers are constantly finding new loopholes in WordPress security, which leads to new updates, which leads to more loopholes, which leads to more updates — which puts yet another thing on your already full plate.

IvyCat’s WordPress support and maintenance plans put your site in secure, knowledgeable hands. We back up your site daily, keep your updates current, and use Sucuri to monitor for suspicious activity. Plus, you’ll get discounts on site tweaks and two support tickets every month to help you troubleshoot your site. Learn how we can help today.

6 Simple Ways to Increase WordPress Security was originally published by Jessie Kwak on IvyCat, Inc.

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Jessie Kwak http://www.jlkwak.com <![CDATA[10 Tips for Product Pages that Convert]]> https://ivycat.com/?p=6464 2017-09-13T20:18:15Z 2017-09-13T09:55:23Z Your products are awesome, and your ecommerce site is getting traffic. But are you happy with how well your product … Continued

10 Tips for Product Pages that Convert was originally published by Jessie Kwak on IvyCat, Inc.

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Your products are awesome, and your ecommerce site is getting traffic. But are you happy with how well your product pages are converting? No matter what your product page conversion rate is, it could always be better. Try one of these ten tips below for an extra boost.

(Of course, I’m assuming you already have awesome photography and product descriptions on your product pages. Make sure those are stellar, then add some of these into the mix.)

1. Transparent shipping

When customers are shopping around for products, they want to know how much the total cost will be — especially since shipping prices can vary wildly between ecommerce sites. That can lead to an epidemic of abandoned carts as customers add products simply to view shipping costs.

To prevent this — and make the sale — make your shipping costs as transparent as possible on product pages. If you can offer free or flat rate shipping within the continental United States, use it as a selling point. If your shipping costs are variable, try adding a shipping rate calculator.

2. FAQ section

Do you get the same questions regularly about your products? For every person who emails you for more information before purchasing, plenty simply move on to find a similar product elsewhere. Help undecided buyers make a decision by including frequently asked questions on product pages. As a bonus point, this is also a great way to boost your keyword score on that page.

3. Live chat

There’s a reason so many companies are including those obnoxious live chat bubbles on the side of the screen: they’re effective. Live chat has the highest customer satisfaction rate of any customer service channel, according to Zendesk.

That’s partly because they’re so easy to use, and partly because they offer a human touch that you can’t get through other non-phone channels like social media or email. Plus, offering live chat on your product pages is a great way to start engaging customers who may never call or email.

4. Action shots

One of the hardest parts about buying things online is trying to visualize exactly how they will look or work in the real world. Help your customers get the picture by providing action photographs or explainer videos.

The videos don’t have to be high-tech or flashy. Take Zappos for example. A 15-second shot of a model’s feet gives you an idea of what it would be like to walk in the shoes, while another 15 seconds of narration point out relevant details.

zappos product pages example conversion

(PS, did you know TOMS made wedges??? OK, back to writing this blog post.)

5. Customer generated reviews

We’ve talked about user generated content campaigns before. They’re a great way to get more content and social proof on your site overall — but especially when it comes to selling products.

Shoppers are 63% more likely to purchase a product that has reviews. It not only can help answer any questions they have about the product, it also decreases their risk. If hundreds of people are telling me TOMS wedges are comfortable to walk in, I’m much more likely to click the buy button without trying them on first.

(Spoiler: I clicked the buy button.)

6. Cross-sells

Promoting cross-sells are a time-honored way to increase the average order value in your store. But they also can help your product pages convert on its own. That’s because they can provide shoppers with some comparison to other items you sell, and help them imagine how they could use it in conjunction.

Try talking about other product options in your product descriptions, or use an image carousel to display related products.

7. Wish lists

Not all shoppers are ready to purchase in the moment. Wish lists give them the option to favorite an item and come back to your site when they’re ready. They also function as a tool to let shoppers compare a few items if they’re trying to make a decision.

Finally, they give you the opportunity to remarket to shoppers by sending automated emails to see if they’re still interested and alert them to sales or low stock, or to use retargeting ads to remind them of their favorited items while they’re browsing other sites.

Learn more: 5 Ways to Create a Personalized Shopping Experience

8. Scarcity

One way to push consumers to make a decision is by indicating scarcity or hyping up the uniqueness of your product. Obviously, you shouldn’t lie about the number of items you have left, but if stock is running low you can create a sense of urgency by letting people know that on your product pages.

Likewise, highlight things like items being limited-edition, brand-new, or otherwise unique in order to create a sense of excitement in the browser.

9. Social Proof

Along with reviews, you should provide other social proof to demonstrate that people like your products. This is another great spot for user generated content, like photos from Instagram or curated tweets praising your product.

This is especially helpful if your product can have a range of applications, or if it’s something like a garment that comes in a range of sizes. Showing other people using the product in real life is a better way to convince your average shopper than showing it on a single model.

Learn more: How to Create a Customer Loyalty Program that Gets Results

10. Strong CTA

Tell your customers what to do: Buy It Now!

No beating around the bush here — your calls to action (CTAs) should be strong, brightly-colored, and noticeable. This is a good opportunity to do some A/B testing of colors and copy to see what converts best.

What have you done to help your ecommerce product pages convert more? We’d love to hear from you! Let us know in the comments.

10 Tips for Product Pages that Convert was originally published by Jessie Kwak on IvyCat, Inc.

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Jessie Kwak http://www.jlkwak.com <![CDATA[The 5 Rs of Breathing Life into Old Content Marketing]]> https://ivycat.com/?p=6453 2017-08-30T19:53:47Z 2017-08-30T10:01:28Z In the 60 seconds it took you to get up and refill your coffee before settling back at your desk … Continued

The 5 Rs of Breathing Life into Old Content Marketing was originally published by Jessie Kwak on IvyCat, Inc.

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In the 60 seconds it took you to get up and refill your coffee before settling back at your desk to write a new blog post for your ecommerce business, Smart Insights estimates that 1440 WordPress posts were published. That really puts the world of content marketing into perspective, doesn’t it?

In order to compete in a content-saturated market, you need to be creating incredible blog posts, YouTube videos, and other content marketing pieces. But all that takes time — and as the owner of an e-commerce business, you have plenty of other things on your plate.

The good news is that you probably already have a back catalog of great content that you can tap into.

While publishing brand-new content is a great way to improve your Google search rankings and attract customers, don’t forget about your older content. Republishing, repurposing, and reusing your existing content marketing pieces can create a big impact while saving you time.

So don’t let these pieces out to pasture just yet. Here are the five R’s of breathing life into your old content marketing.

Learn more: 5 Reasons You Need an E-Commerce Content Marketing Strategy

Republish

Sure, you could just publish an article in one place and call it good. Or, you can make it work for a living like the rest of us.

If you write a great article for your newsletter, for example, give it a week or so and then post it on your blog. After another week or so, get your content in front of a wider audience by syndicating it on other websites like Medium, LinkedIn, or Quartz. (Check out this article from Content Marketing Institute for more information on how Google handles duplicate content versus syndicated content.)

That gives you three separate occasions for your audience to stumble on your content.

Repost

Because only a small slice of your social media followers see any given post, it’s likely that if you only post once or twice about a piece of content, the majority won’t notice.

Use a tool like Buffer, CoSchedule or HootSuite to recycle old content through your social media. These tools will also provide you with excellent analytics to help you figure out which pieces of content perform the best, when your audience is most likely to engage with the content, and other such goodies.

Learn more: 8 Interesting Content Marketing Trends [Infographic]

Redirect

After a customer reads your fantastic review of fall handbag trends, what should she read next? Keep customers engaged with your content by providing links to other content on your website. When I blog for clients, I always include at least two links to relevant older posts in each new post I write.

(Internal linking is also great SEO content strategy.)

(See what I did there?)

Another great way to keep customers engaged with your website’s content is to install a related posts plugin. That way, as soon as you hit publish, your related posts show up automatically.

Using related post plugins to boost content marketing

IvyCat’s related posts.

Refresh

Since you’re going to be directing customers more to your back catalog of content marketing pieces, it pays to give some of them a freshening up. Use Google Analytics to find your top performing posts, then give them a quick scan to make sure they’re still relevant.

(I have a simple rubric I use to help clients assess their content. You can get it for free here.)

Refresh your oldie-but-goodie posts by:

  • Updating examples and stats
  • Mentioning new influencers or products
  • Updating your calls to action
  • Collecting them all in a “Best of” round-up

Repurpose

Just because a piece of content started its life as one thing doesn’t mean it has to stay that way. Repurposing old content into new forms is a great way to create a new offering for your audience without having to build it from scratch.

Do you have a series of great blog posts on a certain topic? Turn them into an ebook.

How about a long, in-depth blog post? Turn it into a series of short punchy posts with great visuals.

An interesting survey? Turn it into an infographic, or explain it in a YouTube video!

How will you boost your old content marketing?

When you sit down and really think about it, you’ll be surprised by how many ways you can come up with to expand the reach of your existing content marketing. In fact, you may have thought of things that I haven’t even covered here.

Let us know your ideas in the comments!

The 5 Rs of Breathing Life into Old Content Marketing was originally published by Jessie Kwak on IvyCat, Inc.

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Jessie Kwak http://www.jlkwak.com <![CDATA[3 Lessons for Success from Customer-Centric Brands]]> https://ivycat.com/?p=6443 2017-08-16T22:13:40Z 2017-08-16T22:13:40Z Is your brand customer-centric? As in, who’s at the heart of your marketing messaging? Is it your brand — or … Continued

3 Lessons for Success from Customer-Centric Brands was originally published by Jessie Kwak on IvyCat, Inc.

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Is your brand customer-centric? As in, who’s at the heart of your marketing messaging? Is it your brand — or your customers?

Digital marketing and social media have changed how many brands are interacting with their customers. Rather than devising advertising campaigns and products based on business needs (like the bottom line), many have switched to a strategy that takes its cues from customers.

What does it mean to be customer-centric?

It’s not just about making your customers happy, or paying attention to customer feedback. It’s about putting effort into understanding exactly what your customers want, then building your business around satisfying those needs. According to the American Marketing Association (AMA), the seven pillars of customer centricity are: Great customer experience, rewarding loyalty, personalizing communications, having the right assortment of products, promoting the right products, fair pricing, and recognizing customer feedback.

Does that sound too abstract? Let’s take a look at three great customer-centric brands to get an idea of what it means to truly put your customers first.

Lego: Ask your customers what they want

Almost since the beginning, Danish toy company Lego has shaped its product line by soliciting ideas from its customers. Fans can submit their ideas at the website ideas.lego.com, and gather support from other users of the site. Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy Lego set, anyone?

If an idea receives 10,000 votes within a certain amount of time, designers and marketers from Lego will take a look at it. But more than that, the company also celebrates its fans with interviews of winning design members, roundups of popular ideas, and the Lego Ideas Test Lab.

While this may be an extreme example of crowdsourcing product design, there’s a very powerful take away for e-commerce companies.

Involving customers in choosing the products you carry has two benefits:

  1. It’s important market research
  2. It builds excitement and loyalty

Try taking social media polls, or asking your email newsletter to choose between several potential products. Or, solicit ideas from scratch. Your customers will feel like they’re helping stock your e-commerce store with exactly the things they want.

Read more: Lessons From 5 Amazing User Generated Content Campaigns

Shake Shack: Empower your employees

When’s the last time you were excited to call a customer service hotline, or talk to an agent about a problem in person? I’m guessing you answered never. That’s because the typical customer service experience involves being bounced from customer service agents to their managers, or being offered an incomplete solution.

But some companies are changing that. Fast-casual brand Shake Shack is known for empowering its front-line employees to truly serve the customers. “Put us out of business because you are so damn generous with what you give the people who walk in this door,” CEO Randy Garutti told team members at the Boston location.

Whether that’s offering a free cup of custard for a crying child or remaking in order that wasn’t up to snuff, Shake Shack employees get to make the call. “We’re going to make it so that everybody who walks out is saying, ‘I can’t believe what that guy did at Shake Shack!’” Garutti said.

Are your employees empowered to make real decisions? Give them the authority to solve real problems, not just give your customers the runaround.

Read more: How to Create a Customer Loyalty Program that Gets Results

Disneyland: Go the extra mile

Disneyland — and the greater Disney Corporation — is one of the most customer-centric brands in existence. The entire premise is based around making customers smile, and it has been since the beginning. Walt Disney actually had a term for it: “plussing the experience.”

Forbes illustrates this point with a story about a Christmas parade during the early years of Disneyland. The parade would cost $350,000, and Walt’s accountants asked him not to spend the money, reasoning that people would already be at the park, and no one would miss a parade they weren’t expecting.

“That’s just the point,” Walt Disney said. “We should do the parade precisely because no one’s expecting it. Our goal at Disneyland is to always give the people more than they expect. As long as we keep surprising them, they’ll keep coming back. But if they ever stop coming, it’ll cost us ten times that much to get them to come back.”

The first year I used Freshbooks accounting software for my freelance business, they sent me a pound of coffee in the mail for Christmas. Was I expecting it? Nope. Do I tell that story to everyone who asks me to recommend accounting software? Absolutely.

What can you do to make your customers’ days just a little brighter? Where can you go the extra mile?

Read more: 5 Ways to Create a Personalized Shopping Experience

What’s your customer-centric success story?

Your turn: I want to hear about some of your favorite customer service moments — the moments that turned you into a loyal follower of a specific brand. How can you take inspiration from those moments to use in your business?

3 Lessons for Success from Customer-Centric Brands was originally published by Jessie Kwak on IvyCat, Inc.

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Jessie Kwak http://www.jlkwak.com <![CDATA[5 Plugins to Improve Your WordPress SEO Game]]> https://ivycat.com/?p=6403 2017-08-02T16:35:33Z 2017-08-02T10:00:07Z Visitors won’t be able to find your e-commerce site if Google can’t find it — and Google won’t be able to … Continued

5 Plugins to Improve Your WordPress SEO Game was originally published by Jessie Kwak on IvyCat, Inc.

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Visitors won’t be able to find your e-commerce site if Google can’t find it — and Google won’t be able to find it unless you’ve done some work on search engine optimization (SEO). You’ll find thousands of plug-ins out there that promise life-changing WordPress SEO ninja tricks, but who has the time to wade through them all?

Check out these top five to see which is best for you.

(New to WordPress SEO? Check out our post The Beginner’s Guide to E-Commerce Keyword Research.)

1. WordPress SEO by Yoast

WordPress SEO by Yoast SEO

Why we love WordPress SEO by Yoast: It’s simple to use, and helps demystify SEO witchery by giving you clear, actionable tips on how to improve your WordPress site’s SEO score. It’s also been around for forever, which means that if you have any questions it’s really easy to find answers and tips on the WordPress.org forums.

How it works: Type your target keyword into the easy-to-use dialog box on your WordPress site’s composition page, and the plugin automatically checks to make sure your content is written with that keyword in mind. Is it in the headline, at least one subhead, in the first paragraph of text? You can write a custom meta-description here, as well.

As well as helping you optimize your content, Yoast SEO also automatically inserts the types of meta-tags and link elements that help your WordPress e-commerce site rank better in Google.

You’ll get tons of powerful options in the free version, or upgrade to the premium to get extra features like internal linking, multiple focus keywords, and social previews.

2. All in One SEO Pack

All in One WordPress SEO Pack

Whether you’re just getting into WordPress or are an advanced user, All in One SEO Pack is a great option for boosting your WordPress SEO game. It’s popular (with over 3 million active installs), in part because it’s so easy to use. Beginners like that it works right out of the box without having to mess with settings — and advanced users love the fine level of control the plugin gives them over their website’s SEO.

All in One SEO Pack allows you to create a custom title and description, and to set target keywords on every blog post and page. It automatically notifies Google and Bing of any changes you make to your WordPress site, which keeps your content fresh.

One big perk is that even the free version provides SEO integration for WordPress e-commerce sites like WooCommerce, with even more e-commerce support available in the Pro version.

(For a pros and cons comparison of Yoast SEO vs All in One SEO Pack, check out this blog post on WPBeginner.

3. Google Analyticator by SumoMe

Google Analyticator by SumoMe

It’s impossible to understand how your SEO efforts are working if you’re not tracking things like page views and bounce rates on Google Analytics. If adding Google Analytics code to your website has been on your to do list for forever, but you just haven’t gotten around to fiddling around with it (guilty!), check out Google Analyticator by SumoMe.

This plugin makes things easy. Just set up an account for your website on Google Analytics, install the plugin, hit a few buttons in the plugin settings, and you’re ready to go. When you head back to your WordPress dashboard, you’ll see a new graphical widget.

You can also configure the plugin to track things like download links and outbound links in order to get a better idea of your conversion rates.

Get it for free.

Learn more: Use This SEO Content Strategy to Boost Your Rankings

4. Google Analytics Dashboard for WordPress

Google Analytics Dashboard for WordPress SEO

The Google Analytics Dashboard for WordPress is another great simple plugin for tracking your Google Analytics statistics. It gives you real-time data on visitors and traffic sources, it can help you troubleshoot your WordPress site by giving you bounce rate statistics and 404 error statistics.

Along with all the basics, this plugin also gives you the ability to track stats based on custom parameters like author, publication year, categories, and tags. It can also break that information off into visual pie charts to give you a quick overview of traffic. This can be a great way to see how your WordPress site is performing in specific areas.

It’s free to use.

5. SEO Image Toolbox

WordPress SEO Image Toolbox

This lightweight WordPress plugin eliminates the headache of manually optimizing your images. SEO Image Toolbox automatically generates and updates alt tags for images all across your website — which is a real timesaver if you haven’t been doing it from the beginning of your website. (Again, guilty!)

How it works: by updating all your alt tags to reflect your image title tags. So you may still need to put in some work if your titles are still things like “file-10292017.”

And it’s free!

What are your favorite WordPress SEO plugins? Let us know in the comments.

5 Plugins to Improve Your WordPress SEO Game was originally published by Jessie Kwak on IvyCat, Inc.

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Jessie Kwak http://www.jlkwak.com <![CDATA[6 Ecommerce Mistakes Every New Business Needs to Avoid]]> https://ivycat.com/?p=6395 2017-07-19T19:00:30Z 2017-07-19T10:02:10Z Are you considering starting an ecommerce business? If so, you’re in good company. More and more consumers are heading online … Continued

6 Ecommerce Mistakes Every New Business Needs to Avoid was originally published by Jessie Kwak on IvyCat, Inc.

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Are you considering starting an ecommerce business? If so, you’re in good company. More and more consumers are heading online to buy everything from gifts to groceries, and there’s still plenty of room to stand out in the market — especially if you have great products and customer service.

Which I’m sure you do.

So let’s make sure all the rest of the nuts and bolts are in place before launching your ecommerce business.

Watch out for these 6 ecommerce mistakes, and you’ll be well on your way.

1. Choosing the wrong ecommerce platform

The market is becoming flooded with ecommerce platforms that offer you the moon and stars — but don’t deliver on their promises. When you’re choosing a platform to build your ecommerce website on, invest in one that will offer the smoothest experience for your customers, and the fewest headaches for yourself.

Think about your site’s functionality needs, the features you’d like to have, integrations, your budget, and any sorts of customizations you’d like to make. Plus, consider where you want to fall on the spectrum of “plug-and-play” versus getting your hands dirty with platform. Some platforms will have a much steeper learning curve than others.

Before deciding, play around with free trials to get a feel for what you want. And if you need advice, save yourself guesswork and find a website developer you trust to walk you through the options.

Learn more: Hosted vs Self Hosted E-Commerce Sites: What You Need to Know

2. Not knowing your ideal customer

You’ve got your widget business ready to go — but do you really know who you’re selling your widgets to? It’s critical to do your research ahead of time and make sure your product is something people actually want to buy. That will save you tons of heartache down the road.

Understanding your ideal customer will influence decisions about your branding, site design, and marketing approach — which is why it’s so important to dive into that research now. Don’t just assume you’ll figure it out as you go!

3. Ignoring site security

If you’re getting into ecommerce, you can’t ignore the biggest elephant in the room: security. Shoppers are wary of handing out their credit cards to a new website — and rightfully so. A string of highly-publicized data breaches over the past few years have consumers spooked.

This mistake isn’t confined to ecommerce, but there are certain things you can do to make sure your site is as secure as possible. Make sure your site has clear indicators that it’s trustworthy, such as an SSL digital certificate, and demand that same level of security from any third party vendors you work with. If you choose to work with a developer, make sure to choose one who takes security seriously.

Learn more: Earning Your Customers’ Trust in 5 Simple Steps

4. Not optimizing for mobile

More people are shopping on their mobile devices, but many ecommerce sites are lagging behind. If you’re just getting started, embrace mobile from the get-go!

But don’t just make your mobile site a responsive version of your regular site. According to data from Smart Insights, mobile site conversions (on smartphones) still lag behind conversions on desktops and tablets — which suggests that not enough companies are really optimizing their mobile sites for smartphones.

conversion rates of online shoppers graphic

5. No “About” or “Contact Us” page

This is one of the more common ecommerce mistakes new businesses make. Online shoppers are naturally suspicious of new websites. If they give you their hard-earned money, can they trust you’ll actually ship their product? Or that it will be as advertised?

Demonstrating that there are real people behind your site can help soothe some of those fears, which is why it’s so important to have a good About page. You should also make sure people know how to get in touch with you if they have questions, using a professional email address (no Gmail!), actual phone number, and a contact form.

6. Confusing check out

When it comes to your check-out process, you want to put as few barriers as possible in between your customers and the final sale. Asking for unnecessary information or overly complicating the process can cause customers to bail before they click the final “order” button.

When you’re designing your check-out, imagine yourself going through it step-by-step. Is it intuitive? Do you know where to click? Is it easy to add your payment information? Do you ask customers to enter the same information during multiple steps?

Test, test, test to avoid these ecommerce mistakes!

It’s a good idea to have other people test the process — and, frankly, everything on your site — from a user experience standpoint to make sure it’s as smooth as possible.

If you’re thinking of starting an ecommerce business, we’d love to hear what your biggest concerns are. Leave them in the comments!

Conversely, if you’re an ecommerce veteran, what are some of the biggest ecommerce mistakes you wish you’d known to avoid when you started out?

6 Ecommerce Mistakes Every New Business Needs to Avoid was originally published by Jessie Kwak on IvyCat, Inc.

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Jessie Kwak http://www.jlkwak.com <![CDATA[6 Ways to Automate Your E-commerce Site with WordPress Plugins]]> https://ivycat.com/?p=6377 2017-04-13T14:20:55Z 2017-04-13T14:20:29Z From recovering abandoned carts to answering your customers’ most common questions, these WordPress plugins will take a load off your shoulders.

6 Ways to Automate Your E-commerce Site with WordPress Plugins was originally published by Jessie Kwak on IvyCat, Inc.

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As the owner of an e-commerce site, you have all the time in the world to handle customer inquiries, create new content, and keep up with your reporting and analytics.

Right?

We’re kidding, of course. We know you’re busy — which is why we’ve collected six of the best ways to automate some of the most common e-commerce tasks with WordPress plugins.

From recovering abandoned carts to answering your customers’ most common questions, these WordPress plugins will take a load off your shoulders.

Did we miss any of your favorite automation plugins? Let us know!

E-commerce Automation Made Easy

1. Email automation

Email marketing is a powerful way to engage with your customers — but it can be time consuming. Fortunately, MailChimp integrates with WooCommerce to automate your email efforts.

First, it collects data from customers, beyond just their emails. Set it up to track things like purchase amounts, specific purchases, demographics, and more. Then you can use that information to create segmented lists for more accurate email targeting. After all, according to MailChimp using segmentation can boost your email open rate by 14.31%.

Second, it allows you to automatically send emails to customers based on what they’ve purchased.

e-commerce automation

2. FAQ automation

While it’s probably unwise to automate your entire customer service department, you can certainly make their jobs easier by providing a frequently asked questions (FAQ) page. Not only will this help head off the most common customer questions, it can also help you make the sale. Not all customers are willing to ask if they have questions — quite a few will just go find a product they don’t have questions about, instead.

But who wants to wade through a long FAQ page?

Instead, use a plugin like HTML5 Responsive FAQ or Ultimate FAQ to categorize and accordianize your questions, allowing customers to quickly find what they’re looking for. Ultimate FAQ even has a handy dashboard to tell you which questions get the most views.

e-commerce automation

3. Abandoned cart automation

Abandoned carts can be maddening. What caused your customer to add a product — or ten — to their cart and then just wander away?

Sometimes they may have been comparison shopping and wanting to check shipping. Other times they may simply have gotten distracted. (Or maybe the boss walked back into the office.)

Ready to recover those lost sales? Give customer a nudge with WooCommerce Recover Abandoned Cart. It automatically sends customers an email to remind them about the products they left in their carts — and you can even add coupon codes or other goodies to help entice them back to your site.

e-commerce automation

4. User generated content automation

User generated content is a fantastic way to bulk up your site’s content while providing social proof about your products. If your product is visual, encourage users to post photos of it in the wild on Instagram, then automatically add it to your site with a plugin like WooCommerce Instagram.

When users tag a photo with a special hashtag, it will automatically show up in a content block on your product page. It’s a quick and easy way to show potential customers how others are using your products.

e-commerce automation

5. Reporting automation

Knowing at a glance how your business is doing is one of the most powerful ways to make sure you’re on the right track. But instead of crunching the numbers manually every time you want to check on your key performance indicators (KPIs), install Smart Reporter for WooCommerce and WP eCommerce.

You can set up Smart Reporter to tell you everything from today’s average order value to the sales trends of a specific product.

e-commerce automation

6. Marketing automation

Say you want a plugin that takes care of, well, everything. In that case, check out AutomateWoo. It’s a full-service marketing automation integration for your WordPress WooCommerce store, that handles everything from followup emails and abandoned carts to personalized coupons.

Optional add-ons can even help you automate your refer-a-friend programs and integrate your WooCommerce store with your CRM.

e-commerce automation

Want to learn more about marketing automation? Check out this post: Overwhelmed by Marketing? Automate These 3 Tasks Today


Do you have any favorite WordPress e-commerce automation plugins that aren’t on this list? Let us know in the comments.

6 Ways to Automate Your E-commerce Site with WordPress Plugins was originally published by Jessie Kwak on IvyCat, Inc.

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