Ecommerce and Content Marketing: Living In Perfect Harmony

From the hotdog food truck, to the geek-chic mashup t-shirt seller, whatever you’re selling, you need to be marketing your business with content. Why? Because valuable free content builds trust, helps your brand, keeps people informed about your products and industry, and gives you something to share with your customers on social media, and above all, helps attract new customers and turn those customers into repeat buyers. But how do you do this? How can your company put out unique content that helps create new fans and keeps your current ones coming back. Well, read on and see how you can strut your stuff with fresh content and how you’ll come away with new followers and customers.

How-To Videos

How-to videos have exploded onto the scene when it comes to content marketing and have become a great and easy way to get people hooked on your content. Not only is this a great way to advertise your products and show how they work, and how it can benefit your customer. It helps you create something that satisfies the customer’s need. Additionally, don’t just do how-to’s that feature your product. Go further and offer them something that is still in your wheelhouse but that they can do at home for free. In other words offer them something for free while selling something related to what they’re looking for. Here’s an example of what I’m talking about:

As you can see, this YouTube personality created this tutorial featuring products from Kat Von D and Sephora. However, it could be done with any make-up products that the consumer wants to use.

Be Creative With Your Deep Pages

Most ecommerce sites have a set of standard pages. Most of these are pretty boilerplate across ecommerce sites. You have the standard FAQs, About Us, Contact Us, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. Get creative with these pages. Instead of doing the normal Q and A format with customer questions, turn the page on its ear. I love TeeTurtle’s FAQ page for just this reason. They took something that is usually serious and kinda boring, and made it fun and injected the humor and youth that is apparent in their clothing and writing.

A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words

As the old adage goes, pictures speak a lot louder than words on a page. As an ecommerce company, if you’re selling products, most customers are not going to buy sight un seen. So get out that camera and unleash your inner shutterbug. Social media channels like instagram and pinterest are home to some great photo shots of products that make you just want to throw away any stock photography you have. A good example of this can be seen with Vans Instagram page. Not only do they feature their products but they also feature the culture around their products and the celebrities who endorse them.

Van's Instagram Page

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How about you? How are you showcasing your product and attracting people into your brand? Let us know in the comments below! Want some help getting your product that new voice to reach out to customers you didn’t know you had? Check us out and shoot us an email!

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An Insider’s Guide To Sales Funnels

Marketing your product online can be a complex and daunting process. With SEO becoming more and more complicated and social media eating up more of your time, spending a little time mapping out your sales funnel is becoming extremely important. So read on, I’ll guide you through setting up the essentials to help you convert your tire-kicking prospects into happy, loyal customers.

But, What Is A Sales Funnel?

So, before we go about setting up an awesome sales funnel, let’s go over what a sales funnel actually is. A sales funnel is a marketing system. It’s the “ideal” process you intend your customers to experience as they go from prospect to lead to customer to repeat business. Let’s take a look at what this looks like.

Sales Funnel Example

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This visualization is a bit complex, so let’s break it down a bit. The top, shows how your potential customers become aware of your products. Whether it’s through search results or paid ads. The next step is getting their interest. This is designated by the “click-through” and “landing page” portion of the funnel. This is where you get your 15 seconds to prove to your newly minted prospect that your product is exactly what they need and want. Why do I say 15 seconds? Because, studies have shown that the average time spent on a page is 15 seconds, if the user doesn’t see what they’re looking for in that time, they’re gone, most likely not to return. However, if you’ve piqued their interest and now their looking around, then congratulations you’ve reached them and now they’re going to see what you have to offer. This is where your awesome content leads them to the call to action, where they complete the action you want them to do, this could mean buying your product or it could just mean signing up to an email list.

It’s More Of A Guideline Really…

Now, your sales funnel isn’t actually a funnel strictly speaking. It’s more like a set of filters stacked on top of one another. Because, every person who visits your site, isn’t necessarily going to end up being a lead or a sale. The truth is, it’s probably only going to be around 1-5% of the customers who enter the funnel are going to come out at the end of the funnel. But, where did the other 95-99% go? Like I mentioned earlier, think of the funnel as a set of filters on top of one another. Each filter allows only the ones who qualify for the next step to go through, the rest leave through the sides. Here’s another image to show what I mean.

Conversion Funnel With Open Sides

 

 

 

 

 

 

So, you probably could let all the ones who left go on to continue their internet journey, but you probably worked hard or paid for those leads, and by golly, you want recompense for your blood, sweat, tears, and money! Well, the most straightforward way to try and recapture that lost sale, is by getting those leads into a different funnel, maybe they weren’t actually interested in what they landed on, but, you have something else that they might be interested in.

Now that we’ve covered what a sales funnel is conceptually, let’s build a simple funnel that you can use for your website or store.

If You Build It, They Will Come

One little caveat before we get to it, to make an effective sales funnel takes time and experimentation, it doesn’t just happen overnight. It is also going to need a lot of TLC as best practices will always change and you’re going to need to understand how that affects your funnel, analyze what you can add to it, and how you can make it better. For our example funnel, we’re going to use a simple diagram, and you’re going to see a theme throughout the building process. This funnel is going to have four basic steps; Awareness, Interest, Desire, and Action as shown below.

AIDA Conversion Funnel

 

 

Step 1 – Awareness

To have a sales funnel you need to pull prospects into your funnel. You do this by building awareness of you. To start, ask yourself, “How are my customers becoming aware of my product and where are they coming from?” From there, look at how people are coming to your site or to that particular product, and then consider the following:

  • Are you using ads? If so, where? How much traffic is coming from there? Are they clicking it and going through to your site, or just moving on?
  • What traffic are you getting from SERPS? Look at what pieces of content people are landing on, which ones are attracting more people?
  • Are you on social media? If so, how many are coming from the big three (Facebook, Twitter, G+)? Are they just coming through and leaving? What’s attracting them?

Additionally, make sure that your content is attracting the right kind of people. All the clicks in the world, mean nothing if you’re not attracting the right kind of people onto your website and into your sales funnel. You’ll end up wasting time and money trying to convert them, and even if you do, they probably won’t be repeat business.

Step 2 – Interest

Alright, your prospects are aware of you and your product, and are starting their journey down the funnel, the next thing you need to do is build interest in what you’re selling. This is where your content and website come into play.

Good content will win the day with potential customers. Content and websites that keep visitors interested and engaged are paramount for helping the prospect get to know your company, and begin to build trust with you.

So…how do you know that your content is working and building the interest that you want? This can be done in numerous different ways that you can find on the internet, but one of the easiest is the bait piece call to action. What this is, is you write some content about a product or service that your company offers, and then wrap it up with a call to action for an email signup. Now this signup could be for a newsletter, offers, specials, bananas, doesn’t matter. The part that does matter to you is that you now have their information, and this is a great way to see who’s possibly interested in what you have to sell.

Step 3 – Desire

Now that you have that juicy lead information, it’s time to start making them even more interested in your product or service. You have to make them desire you.

A good way to do this, that helps build relationships with very little work are auto-responders. Crazy Egg did a great article on how to take advantage of this tool, you can check that out here.

Remember, you’re offering a solution to your prospect’s particular problem (hooray for alliteration!). How does what you’re selling make their life easier? Make them desire your solution and you won’t have to promote the product. Again, good content is worth it’s weight in digital gold here, when transforming that interest into desire.

One thing to keep in mind, this level of the funnel can be tricky to analyze. However, a good rule of thumb is to do the same thing as the awareness part of the funnel by creating a call to action, so that you can measure how much desire you’re building by the percentage of prospects that are performing the action.

Step 4 – Action

Finally, we have the last and most important step of the entire funnel. This is it, the grand poobah, the ultimate goal, converting the prospect into a sale. Yes, they may have taken action by signing up for your email list, but you want them to take the big step…buying your stuff!

As you’ll probably notice, only a small percentage of your prospects will make it to this point. This is why you should use your funnel to analyze and dissect what’s working and what isn’t in your sales process. Thus, why you have calls to action on different levels of the process. However, the ride isn’t over after someone buys, you want to build loyalty and repeat business. Because, once they trust what you’re selling, not only do you possibly have a brand ambassador, you have repeat business, and nothing is better than that.

You’re probably going, “but what about the people who didn’t buy at the end of the funnel?” Have no fear! All isn’t lost if they don’t buy on the first shot. Find another approach to them, see if you can tempt them back in with a different offer. Also, make sure that you learn from the people that take action along with the people who don’t. Ask yourself, “What worked? What was the difference between those who became customers and those who didn’t? What roadblocks were there? How can I motivate more people to take action?”

All of these questions and their answers will help provide insight in how to tighten your funnel and get it to preform at its peak.

So what do you use in your sales funnel? How does it help you improve your marketing efforts? Let us know in the comments below! Also, if you’re a business looking for some help getting your e-store to the next level, swing by our website or give us a call at 1-877-583-0300

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9 Ways To Help Make Social Media Effective For eCommerce

Social media, it invades every part of our day. We’re checking it at work, checking in at restaurants and bars to show our friends where we’re socializing. Posting our vacation pictures to show people where we went. It is one of the main activities people take part in online all the time. So syncing a social media experience with your e-commerce store offers you the chance to help drive added value to your audience and paying customers alike. So with that said, let’s take a look at 9 different ways that will make social media effective for your online store.

#1 – Share Sonny! Share!

So outside of the horrible Sonny and Cher reference in the title, one of the no-brainer features that e-commerce sites are using today is including various social sharing buttons on their product pages. This has become increasingly more common over the past couple of years due to the improved visibility and engagement a Facebook like button or Twitter tweet button can generate around a offered product.

To add these plugins to your store, simply go to the social platforms you want to integrate into your store and they’ll have instructions on how to add them. However, there is a caveat: make sure you only add a few social plugins to your product pages.

Resources for the most popular plugins for e-commerce are listed below:

There are a ton of other options for social plugins available out there, however, these four are the ones most popular with e-commerce stores since sharing a product or service on these channels fits their target demographic’s behavior and interests the most. If you sold clothing or accessories, you wouldn’t want to add a linkedin share button would you? No, because that platform’s purpose doesn’t match what you’re trying to use social media for.

When you add the buttons, try to get them as close to the product’s image as possible, while still keeping it organized and clean. Each store integrates buttons differently, check out some of your favorite stores to see how they integrate buttons for their products.

#2 – Your Customers Are Your Best Product Reps

A lot of content around your brand and products is user generated content, from fans sharing photos, to videos or text updates on social media about your stuff, whether good or bad. One way you can take advantage of the positive content is featuring it on your site.

There are quite a few platforms out there that allow businesses to highlight and moderate content submitted by their customers, fans, and followers. Usually displayed as a photo feed, these images can be highly curated to show the best of the best user generated content. For example, online retailer black milk clothing uses a photo feed at the bottom of all its product pages to showcase customer generated photos to individual products. Additionally, they curate the photos to specific products by associating a hashtag with the product. for example, their panther maxi dress is associated with the hashtag #bmpanthermaxidress which allows the photos tagged under the hashtag on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook to show up in the product photo feed if the pictures are tagged properly.

#3 – Sign in, Show off

Normally, visitors to your store have to create an account, enter their information, and sign in so they can purchase products, view their order history, etc,. Social sign-in allows customers to do all of this without having to go through the multi-step process of creating an account by allowing them to sign in using the information from their social media platform of choice.

The platform of choice that customers often use for social sign-in is Facebook, basically because its the most widely used social media platform to date. Social sign-in can be extremely beneficial to a store because research shows that customers who use social sign-in spend more time on the site and purchase more than those who don’t use a social login.

Since most people are concerned with their privacy, especially when it comes to social sign-ins, one thing you might want to do before jumping in to using social sign-in completely, is to split test between with and without the use of social sign-in.

#4 – I’m Just Here For The Comments

Social based comment systems like Disqus and Livefyre are robust tools that make the experience of commenting on content and having conversations with other customers much more engaging due to it being a live feed instead of static posts, as well as credible because of social verification to use the comment widget. These feeds are often found on an e-commerce site’s blog instead of the store itself. These social powered comment widgets require users to sync one of their social media profiles to the tool so that you can see a genuine profile linked to the comment. This helps reduce trolling, and makes the commenting process more social by allowing customers to share engaging thoughts and conversations in a user’s social channel of choice from the comment section.

#5 – Make Your Sales Funnel Shareable

If you do it right, integrating social media across your store can improve customer experience and can increase the likelihood of others doing shareable actions on your site depending on what they see published on social media. However, you’re going to want to find that right balance so as not to annoy users by over sharing, which can happen. Try focusing on sharing interesting activities of your store visitors and providing value to users that may see what your customers share on one of their feeds.

For example, Eventbrite gives people the option of sharing that they’ve booked tickets to an event on Twitter and Facebook, it’s not mandatory, but sharing events like this is something that might be interesting for customers to share on social media.

Analyzing your sales funnel for event markers like the one in the Eventbrite example can help have a positive effect on drawing in new customers as well as create repeat customers by improving the customer’s journey. As always, you’re going to want to split test these plugins and CTAs to make sure they’re not having the opposite effect that you want.

#6 – Shopping First, Social Second

What we mean by our title is, don’t forget, you’re a store first, just because you have social media pages does not mean that customers are going to flock to your door. As the name suggests people go to Facebook and Twitter and the like to socialize not shop most of the time. Social media pages for your business are a great way to aggregate reviews as well as use them for customer service and support.

#7 – Don’t Just Tell Them, Show Them

Videos are great sales tools. Customer’s love seeing a product in action or being showed off. Like the post above about using customer generated content, you can apply that with videos as well. Not only does it improve sales, but people get to see the product, “in the wild” so to speak. Additionally, it adds another social factor that can be found on video aggregators (i.e. YouTube).

#8 – Customer Trust Is Key

Giving back to your customers helps to build trust with them, which is paramount for your brand. Find out ways that you can help out your customers outside of your store. Share local news and tips, ask their opinions, give out coupons, find ways to interact. The most important thing is that you’re visibly trying to be helpful ti them. The more useful you can be, the more loyal they’ll be to your brand.

#9 – Don’t Forget About The Rest Of Your Marketing Mix

Social media is often viewed as a silo of marketing that can be done separately from other marketing activities. Instead,  view it as an extra layer that integrates with the rest of your marketing mix instead of being a separate part of it. For example, with email marketing, integrate sharing buttons with your newsletters or e-blasts. This will help encourage people to sign up for your email list or check out what you’re offering. Also, don’t forget to share your posts to your social media following, this goes hand in hand with #8 above, if it’s useful to them, they’ll read it and possibly share it with friends and co-workers.

What creative ways have you integrated social media into your e-commerce store? What works and doesn’t work for you? Let us know in the comments below!

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8 Landing Page Best Practices

So, you’ve made the leap and opened up a website to help sell your product. But, you want to make sure your customers have something to see when they land at your shiny new site. Well, this is where landing pages come in. Think of them as the complimentary bottles of water that you get when you check in to a hotel. They make you feel welcomed and mainly are there to help encourage you to possibly raid the mini-fridge later. However, a bad landing page can have customers go off your site faster than you can say bounce rate. Well, that’s what we’re here for, to help you make sure that when potential customers come to your site, they don’t want to leave. Here’s our list of the top 10 best practices you should use when building your landing pages.

Tip #1 – Why Do I Need A Landing Page In The First Place?

Good Question! Let’s break this down a bit before we answer it. First off, what is a landing page? Well, a landing page is a standalone page that’s tangentially attached to your website. They’re also designed for someone who’s on your site to complete an action, whether this is signing up for a mailing list, purchase something, it can also simply be used as a gate to gather information before the visitor gets to the main part of your site. Mainly, this page is used for someone to complete an action and leave the page. So if you’re looking to build a mailing list to help gain repeat customers, and let’s be honest here, who isn’t? Then that is why you need a landing page or several for your site.

Tip # 2 – Make Sure Your Landing Page Can Adapt

No, I’m not talking about making your landing page into some kind of AI bent on…hold on I’ve seen this movie before. Anyway, adaptive content means that the landing page works on multiple streams. I.e. Can work across social media platforms, slideshares, email blasts, can be syndicated, you get where I’m going with this? However, don’t try to make it work with every single channel out there, all you’ll end up with is a headache. Make the landing page work across a few channels where you know that these channels are where you want to get traffic from.

Tip #3 – Make Sure The Landing Page Is Responsive

Alrighty guys and gals, it’s 2015, mobile is not going away, it’s just getting bigger. Mobile made up 55% of all search in 2014, so you can imagine what it is now. Plus, portents are pointing towards Google giving extra goodies (read: ranking factor) for sites that are mobile friendly. So what do you have to make sure that you have to do? That’s right! Make sure the landing page is responsive and can work across all devices; mobile, tablet, and desktop because you will get traffic across all 3, so make sure you can handle all 3.

Tip # 4 – Pay Attention To Your Competitors

The best way to do research to see what works for landing pages and what doesn’t, is looking at what your competitors are doing. Got a competitor that’s taking your lunch money? Mosey on over to their site and look to see what’s good about it. Watch for trends, and read articles (like this one!) to find what’s big, what’s good, and what you should move past/get rid of if you have it. This leads us to our next point…

Tip #5 – A/B Test Like There Is No Tomorrow!

Split test, split test, split test…did I say split test? Split testing is a great tool as it lets you dissect what your customer base responds to by finding out what they like and dislike about the landing page. Not only will you gain insight into your customers’ behavior, you’ll also help to increase your conversion rate, by implementing these incremental changes.

Tip #6 – Seduce Your Prospects With Your Copy

Alright, so we’re going to switch gears here and talk more about design than concept. One of the biggest things when dealing with landing pages is you have a very short window to convince someone to stay. According to Hubspot, 55% of visitors spend less than 15 seconds on a page before leaving. So you have to make sure your content is short, concise, and to the point whatever it is you’re saying. If you can’t read it in 15 seconds it’s too long.

Tip #7 – Make That Call To Action Big And Beautiful

When building your landing page, having your customers performing an action is the reason why you built it in the first place. So you’re going to want to make sure that the CTA that you build for the page is big and in a prominent position above the fold. Additionally, you’re going to want to make sure that you use your copy to entice your visitors so that they fill out the form. Finally, only ask for information you need, additional information might turn off your visitor and they’ll leave.

Tip # 8 – Landing Pages Are Not The End Of The Rainbow…Thank You Pages Are

So you’ve designed the landing page, your potential customer has filled out the form for more info, now what? Getting a user to fill out your form is not where the process ends. You’re going to want to direct them to a thank you page for a few reasons. Firstly, it allows you to engage with the customer further. By directing them to a landing page, you can direct them from there to check out your blog, the rest of your site, or interact with you on social media. Additionally, a thank you page allows you to explain what happens next, and when your prospect will get their info/white paper/free stuff.

Well, there you have it folks, by using these best practices, you’ll have a high-converting landing page in no time! Need help? Or looking for something more than just a landing page? Swing by mountainmedia.com or give us a call at 1-877-583-0300.

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