IvyCat, Inc. Web Hosting, Design & Development 2016-11-17T20:49:58Z https://ivycat.com/feed/atom/ Jessie Kwak http://www.jlkwak.com <![CDATA[How to Create a Customer Loyalty Program that Gets Results]]> https://ivycat.com/?p=6263 2016-11-17T20:49:58Z 2016-11-17T20:49:58Z It’s widely known that it takes less money to retain a customer than to procure a new one, which is why it’s so critical to find tangible ways to build a customer loyalty program. Read more...

How to Create a Customer Loyalty Program that Gets Results was originally published by Jessie Kwak on IvyCat, Inc.

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It’s widely known that it takes less money to retain a customer than to procure a new one, which is why it’s so critical to find tangible ways to build a customer loyalty program.

Enter the venerable customer loyalty program. Chances are you’re a member of a dozen or so — from the espresso punch card at your local coffee shop to a paid membership program like Sam’s Club or Costco.

Some of these may add value to your life as a consumer, but just think about how many unused cards you have languishing in the back of your wallet or kitchen junk drawer.

The truth is that customer loyalty programs are a dime a dozen, and your customers are dealing with the same dilemma as you are.

How do you prove to customers that your program is worth joining?

Brand your customer loyalty program

Branding your loyalty program is an often-overlooked step. By branding your program — and even dubbing your followers with a catchy tribe name — you can help create a sense of identity to connect your customers with your company.

Think about Sephora’s three-tier program: Beauty Insider, VIB (Very Important Beauty Insider) and VIB Rouge. Or Cathay Pacific Airways’ frequent flier program, the Marco Polo Club. Both companies’ programs evoke a sense of community.

customer loyalty program

Celebrate birthdays — with a twist

Who doesn’t love a gift on their birthday? Giving customers a discount or freebie on their birthdays is a popular way of saying thank you. So popular, however, that some customers are inundated with promotional emails on the Big Day.

Try giving customers a twist on the usual birthday offer. For example, why not celebrate their half-birthday with a special gift? Or, send them an email coupon a week after the date wishing a happy belated birthday (and maybe taking advantage of the birthday money they may have received).

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

Reward referrals & social sharing

Word of mouth is a valuable way to gain new loyal customers — why not encourage referrals and social sharing by building rewards into your customer loyalty program?

You could set this up in a few ways: either reward customers with a small amount of points per share or referral, or offer a larger bonus every time a customer’s referral makes a purchase.

By doing the latter, you can set up the reward based on how much you’re willing to pay to acquire a customer.

Double the fun with bonus points days

Need a boost in the slow season, or looking to attract customers during highly competitive days like Cyber Monday or Black Friday? Give loyalty club members an extra incentive to shop by offering double points.

It’s an effective way to stand out against the competition and create a spike in sales.

Seek strategic partnerships

Partnering with another brand to offer complementary rewards can be a great way to both cross-promote your products to their audience — and to spice up your loyalty program.

Try connecting with other companies who share a mission, a geographic location, or compatible product.

Make social responsibility the reward

You don’t necessarily need to give the reward to the customer themselves: Consumers love a chance to give back.

Returning a small financial amount (say, 1-2% of the purchase) to your customer may not add up to much of an incentive. But that same amount from every customer can add up to a substantial donation to a worthy organization.

Match the charity with the values that your customers care about, then reward your loyalty club members by keeping them updated with stories about the good their money is doing out in the world.

customer loyalty program

Give customers a head start

Professors Joseph Nunes and Xavier Dreze came up with a fascinating finding about successful customer loyalty programs, which they entitled “The Endowed Progress Effect.” Basically, they set up two different loyalty punch cards.

The first was a standard “buy 8 car washes, get 1 free” offer. The second was styled as “buy 10 car washes, get 1 free,” but two slots were already stamped.

Both groups had to purchase the same amount to get a reward, but because the second group had a psychological head start in finishing the card, they had nearly double the amount of completion rate.

(Read about the study on HelpScout.)

Consider giving a customer a “signing bonus” when they join your loyalty program. (Think about airlines’ offers — if you sign up before we land, you get an extra bonus.)

Read more: 5 Ways to Create a Personalized Shopping Experience

How to Create a Customer Loyalty Program that Gets Results was originally published by Jessie Kwak on IvyCat, Inc.

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Jessie Kwak http://www.jlkwak.com <![CDATA[5 WordPress Plugins for E-commerce to Make the Holidays a Breeze]]> https://ivycat.com/?p=6239 2016-10-25T16:02:03Z 2016-10-25T16:02:03Z E-commerce companies around the web are gearing up for a special, magical time of year: the holiday shopping season. It’s a season filled with joy…. But also with stress as you try to manage site your website, marketing, shipping, and all the other little details that pop up this time of year. Read more...

5 WordPress Plugins for E-commerce to Make the Holidays a Breeze was originally published by Jessie Kwak on IvyCat, Inc.

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E-commerce companies around the web are gearing up for a special, magical time of year: the holiday shopping season. It’s a season filled with joy…. But also with stress as you try to manage site your website, marketing, shipping, and all the other little details that pop up this time of year.

A little prep work right now can help make your holiday season run more smoothly. We’ve gathered up five of our favorite WordPress plugins for e-commerce sites to help you optimize your site, advertise your products, convert sales, and connect with your customers.

You know you’ll already have too much on your plate once the holidays roll around — take some of the pressure off by installing these five WordPress plugins for e-commerce site optimization ahead of time.

Your future self will thank you.

Our 5 Favorite WordPress Plugins for E-commerce

W3 Total Cache

wordpress plugins for e-commerce

At IvyCat, we talk a lot about how important your site speed is to making sales. Consumers have begun to expect near-instant results, particularly during the busy holiday shopping season.

Caching improves user experience on your WordPress site by improving site speed and reducing download times. W3 Total Cache offers features like optimized progressive render (so pages can be interacted with more quickly), reduced page load times, and minification of post, pages, JavaScript, and more.

Autoptimize

wordpress plugins for e-commerce

Another great way to speed up your site is to use Autoptimize to aggregate and minimizing JS, CSS and HTML.

Autoptimize makes your page super speedy by concatenating all scripts and styles, minifying and compressing them, then organizing the code on the page to run at its most optimal. Advanced users can even take advantage of the plugin’s API to customize it.

Perfect Audience Retargeting

wordpress plugins for e-commerce

Shoppers have a lot on their minds this time of year, and it just because they see the perfect gift on your site doesn’t mean they’ll buy it immediately – or remember to write it down. Studies have shown that it takes multiple impressions of your brand or product before a consumer decides to buy, which is why retargeting ads can be so powerful.

When a visitor comes to your site, a plug-in like Perfect Audience places a cookie in their browser that serves up ads on Facebook and other places around the web. With this plug-in, setting up retargeting campaigns is simple. You can even track impressions, clicks, and results on your personalized dashboard.

WordPress Landing Pages

wordpress plugins for e-commerce

If you’re ramping up your advertising and email marketing, you need to have stellar landing pages when people click back to your site. WordPress Landing Pages lets you create eye-catching landing pages based on your current WordPress theme, or chosen from their library of templates.

Getting your landing page perfectly dialed in can take a bit of experimentation. WordPress Landing Pages tracks conversions and lets you clone pages to do A/B testing on your layout, CTAs, images, and more. It even has the ability to pre-populate forms with your visitor’s information, removing yet another step to conversion.

Editorial Calendar

wordpress plugins for e-commerce

The holidays provide tons of opportunities for unique content marketing — but it can be tough to keep track of all the sales, shipping cutoffs, and dates. Editorial Calendar is a great free app that helps you plan your editorial schedule. It helps you check for gaps in your content, and makes sure you don’t miss any important dates.

Schedule gift guides, sale reminders and other announcements ahead of time, then just drag and drop within the calendar to change post dates. Editorial Calendar has the ability to manage posts from multiple authors, as well.

Are you ready for the holidays? You can get a great head start by installing these five WordPress plugins for e-commerce site optimization. If you want recommendations specific to your site, get in touch with IvyCat today.

5 WordPress Plugins for E-commerce to Make the Holidays a Breeze was originally published by Jessie Kwak on IvyCat, Inc.

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Jessie Kwak http://www.jlkwak.com <![CDATA[Do These 9 Things NOW to Prep Your E-Commerce Site for the Holidays]]> https://ivycat.com/?p=6218 2016-10-06T14:45:27Z 2016-10-06T14:45:27Z The leaves are turning, and the biggest shopping season of the year is just around the corner. If you’re in the e-commerce business (and my bet is you are if you’re reading this!), forecasts are looking great for 2016. Holiday e-commerce sales are expected to grow for yet another year as more consumers trade fighting for parking at the mall for shopping in their pajamas. Read more...

Do These 9 Things NOW to Prep Your E-Commerce Site for the Holidays was originally published by Jessie Kwak on IvyCat, Inc.

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The leaves are turning, and the biggest shopping season of the year is just around the corner. If you’re in the e-commerce business (and my bet is you are if you’re reading this!), forecasts are looking great for 2016. Holiday e-commerce sales are expected to grow for yet another year as more consumers trade fighting for parking at the mall for shopping in their pajamas.

Do yourself a favor and prep your e-commerce early, or you may miss out on valuable holiday sales. Here’s our list of can’t-skip areas to check.

1. Mobile Responsiveness

Your site’s already set up for mobile shopping….right? In 2016, BI Intelligence predicts mobile commerce will make up 20.6 percent of overall holiday e-commerce sales — and they project it will only continue to grow.

Making sure your WordPress e-commerce site is responsive is a great first step, but you also need to optimize your checkout for mobile. Conversion rates for mobile still lag behind desktop, which means retailers are missing out on valuable mobile sales as customers grow frustrated with tiny forms and poorly-designed user experiences.

2. Increased Site Traffic

Can your site handle a surge in visitors? Are you sure? Stress test your e-commerce site now to avoid learning the hard way when one of your awesome products goes viral, and you miss out on all those valuable sales.

holiday e-commerce sales

3. Site Speed

You have three seconds or less before nearly half of web users will simply abandon your site. Three seconds! If your site is slow to load, now’s the time to fix it. Start by running your site through a tool like Google PageSpeed Insights or Pingdom Website Speed Test to test the speed and pinpoint culprits.

Want to learn more? Start with our post: Why Your Slow Website is Losing You Sales – And How To Fix It [Infographic]

4. Optimize Conversions

Make it as simple as possible for your customers to get from “That’s perfect” to “Bought it!” by optimizing your checkout process. Can you streamline the process and un-complicate forms? Is the next step always ridiculously clear?

Here’s a test: Can a working mom who’s just realized she needs a last-minute gift for her son’s new girlfriend order your product while cooking dinner and arbitrating a fight between her toddlers? Then you nailed it.

Get started here: Top 5 Ways to Increase E-commerce Conversions

5. Increase Average Order Value

Don’t just rely on an increase in site traffic to increase your holiday e-commerce sales. Prep your site to cross-sell, upsell, bundle, and otherwise increase your average order value per customer.

6. Holiday Graphics

Whether you’re planning to roll out an entire holiday-themed feel or just want a few banners to advertise various sales, it pays to plan your holiday graphics ahead of time. Not only will this be less stress for you, you’ll also stay in the good graces of your graphic designer. Think about social media ads, backgrounds, email graphics, and more.

While you’re at it, you may want to take a look at your product photography. Is it as attractive as it could be? If not, now’s the time to spruce it up.

7. SEO & SEM

OK, to be fair, even if you started on a SEO campaign today, you’ll be behind the curve when it comes to the 2016 holiday season. But now is still a great time to start a SEO content strategy to attract human customers, and prime the robots to raise your page rank for 2017.

To get keyword ranking results right now, think about adding some search engine marketing (SEM) into the mix, and starting up a pay-per-click (PPC) campaign through Google AdWords.

holiday e-commerce sales

8. Abandoned Cart Emails

Abandoned shopping carts may seem like a pain, but they’re actually becoming part of the purchase cycle for many consumers. Customers may still be considering a purchase, or shopping around to compare price while your product sits so tantalizingly close to sale in their shopping cart.

Many of these consumers do still intend to buy your product — they just need a little nudge. That’s why it pays to get automatic abandoned shopping cart emails set up, using a plugin like WooCommerce Recover Abandoned Cart.

9. Double-Check Security

You know who else loves the e-commerce holiday shopping season? Cybercrooks! There are more data breaches during the next few months than any other time of the year. Don’t let these hackers ruin your holiday e-commerce sales.

Digital security is especially crucial for small and mid-sized businesses, who cybercrooks see as easy targets. Protect your site from both data breaches and attacks that can cause costly downtime by using SSL (secure sockets layer) authentication, and running security audits to patch holes. If you need a hand, get in touch to see how we can help.

Do These 9 Things NOW to Prep Your E-Commerce Site for the Holidays was originally published by Jessie Kwak on IvyCat, Inc.

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Jessie Kwak http://www.jlkwak.com <![CDATA[The Beginner’s Guide to E-Commerce Keyword Research]]> https://ivycat.com/?p=6204 2016-10-03T17:02:44Z 2016-10-03T17:02:44Z You probably already know that getting found in search rankings is a critical part of running a successful e-commerce company. Powerful, targeted keywords are the foundation of a successful SEO content strategy, but choosing the best ones can be a mystifying process. Read more...

The Beginner’s Guide to E-Commerce Keyword Research was originally published by Jessie Kwak on IvyCat, Inc.

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You probably already know that getting found in search rankings is a critical part of running a successful e-commerce company. Powerful, targeted keywords are the foundation of a successful SEO content strategy, but choosing the best ones can be a mystifying process. We’ll help you understand and get started with your e-commerce keyword research.

6 Steps to Successful E-commerce Keyword Research

Step 1: Get organized

Set up a spreadsheet in Microsoft Excel or Google Docs in order to track your keyword research. You’ll need columns for:

  • Keyword
  • Volume
  • Competition
  • Keyword difficulty
  • Notes

This will keep track of the basic information you need to choose the best keywords. As you start taking your keyword research to a more advanced level, you can start to include things like global or local searches and keyword analysis information from tools like SEOmoz. Check out this post from Kissmetrics for a more advanced keyword organization strategy.

Step 2: Brainstorm keywords

You probably already have an idea of some good keywords for your e-commerce business. For example, if you run a cat supply store, you know you want to get found for the products you sell, like cat food and toys. You may also want to target a particular geographic market, or attract people searching for specific brands.

Products, locations, services, and brands are a great starting point for your keyword research. Go ahead and jot down everything you can think of in your spreadsheet.

When you’re coming up with keywords, it’s important to understand the difference between broad keywords and long-tail keywords.

  • Broad keywords are general things like catnip, scratching posts, and collars. These keywords tend to have a high search volume, with lots of competition. Because they’re so generic, visitors who find your site while searching for them may not to be very good leads.
  • Long-tail keywords are specific phrases, such as “organic fair trade catnip,” “Eiffel Tower scratching post,” and “personalized Wonder Woman kitty collar.” Fewer people are searching for these specific things, but the ones that are are your target customers.

When coming up with keywords, focus on discovering long-tail keywords, and getting creative with permutations of those.

Step 3: Discover new keywords

Now, let’s dig deeper to flesh out the list. Here are some tools you can use:

  • SEMrush: This tool gives you an idea of what keywords your competitors are using. Enter your competitor’s domain in the search bar to see the top organic and paid keywords they’re using to get traffic.
  • Search engine suggestions: Google’s search bar automatically tries to guess what you’re typing by filling in suggestions of the most popular searches. This is a great way to discover related search terms. You’ll also see related keyword searches at the bottom of the results page. (Try Yahoo, Bing, and other search sites to get other results.)
  • Google AdWords Keyword Tool: AdWords is a powerful tool for getting a sense of keyword popularity and competition. AdWords will also give you suggestions for keywords similar to the thing that you are searching for.
  • Thesaurus.com: Looking for another way to say it? Try plugging words into Thesaurus.com to find synonyms.

e-commerce keyword research

Want more tools? Check out our post on four free keyword tools, or this ultimate list from Evolving SEO.

Add all the relevant keywords you find into your spreadsheet. Don’t worry about how popular they might be at this point – we’ll deal with that further on.

Step 4: Research search volume

Now, it’s time to read through your list and see what kind of gold you’ve found. Copy and paste the entire list into Google Keyword Planner, then download the results as a spreadsheet. This will give you a ton of data about each keyword. What were looking for at this point, however, is just the volume and competition data. Once you have the spreadsheet, you can then paste the keywords along with volume and competition numbers back in your original spreadsheet.

e-commerce keyword research

Sort through the results by volume. This will order your keywords in terms of popularity, and help you know where to focus your efforts.

Step 5: Make sure your keywords are relevant

By now you should have a list of 50-100 keywords, ranked by order of search volume. But just because a keyword has a high search volume doesn’t mean it’s perfect for your business – it’s time to refine your list.

Some questions to ask yourself:

  • Is this keyword really relevant to my business?
  • Does it accurately describe my store, and the products I sell?
  • If someone searches for this term and lands on my site, will they find exactly what they’re looking for?

These are important questions. Ranking well for an unrelated keyword may get you a lot of search traffic, but unless searchers land on a high-quality page that gives them exactly what they’re looking for, they’ll bounce instantly. A high bounce rate can cause you to slip in the rankings, and, worse, it can turn potential customers off to your business.

Step 6: Search for your keywords

The last step is to plug your keywords into the popular search engines like Google and Bing. This will give you an idea of what your organic search competition is like, and let you see how hard it will be to rank for a certain keyword. If the top results are all major established brands, for example, it’ll be harder to shoulder your way onto the first page.

Googling your keywords will also tip you off if for some reason your innocuous-sounding keyword is actually wildly inappropriate, or associated with something completely separate from the audience you’re targeting. (It happens!)

Congratulations!

Once you’ve gone through these steps, you’ll have a short list of keyword gold. You’ll hopefully have identified about 5 really good focus keywords, with another 5-10 less potent ones to keep as backup.

SEO strategy is a long-term game. With each new piece of targeted content you introduce on your site, your rankings will continue to improve.

What are your favorite ways to generate powerful keywords for your e-commerce business? Let us know in the comments.

The Beginner’s Guide to E-Commerce Keyword Research was originally published by Jessie Kwak on IvyCat, Inc.

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Jessie Kwak http://www.jlkwak.com <![CDATA[Hosted vs Self Hosted E-Commerce Sites: What You Need to Know]]> https://ivycat.com/?p=6173 2016-09-15T16:16:02Z 2016-09-15T16:16:02Z 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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Jessie Kwak http://www.jlkwak.com <![CDATA[4 Smart Ways to Increase the Average Order Value in Your Store]]> https://ivycat.com/?p=6181 2016-09-08T20:05:27Z 2016-09-07T14:42:47Z 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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Jenny Bones https://ivycat.com/cms <![CDATA[Use This SEO Content Strategy to Boost Your Rankings]]> https://ivycat.com/?p=6153 2016-09-08T20:11:04Z 2016-08-10T16:00:45Z 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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Jessie Kwak http://www.jlkwak.com <![CDATA[Lessons From 5 Amazing User Generated Content Campaigns]]> https://ivycat.com/?p=6104 2016-08-02T18:54:56Z 2016-07-27T17:10:53Z 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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Tom Ewer http://leavingworkbehind.com/ <![CDATA[5 Types of Events You Can Promote with Event Espresso]]> https://ivycat.com/?p=6029 2016-07-07T18:27:54Z 2016-07-07T18:27:54Z 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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Jessie Kwak http://www.jlkwak.com <![CDATA[Educational Marketing: Why Your E-commerce Business Needs This]]> https://ivycat.com/?p=6072 2016-06-23T18:07:31Z 2016-06-23T18:06:11Z 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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