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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SEO Rundown 10/20

Hey All,

Theo from Mountain Media here again for another SEO Rundown. I know that it has been a bit since my last post but it has been very here at Mountain Media and as such I’ve had little time for making this video. However, I feel that with the rollout of Penguin 3.0, it was high time I sent out this video.

Penguin 3.0 has rolled out…now what?

So, Penguin 3.0 was confirmed to have been rolled out Friday evening, this was first reported by SE Roundtable. While no official percentage has been released yet on how many sites have been affected, it’s definitely worth keeping an eye on your clients’ websites over this week to see if they’ve been affected by Penguin. If you’ve been following our videos you know that I was predicting a rollout around the holiday season, specifically November. Thankfully, I was very wide on my mark and the rollout now gives people some time to recoup some losses if they were bitten by the Google Boogeybird. Whether this is through paid or organic traffic growth, you can regain some of the ground lost from this rollout.

Direct or Indirect

One of the things that has been stated about this latest iteration of Penguin is that you can be affected both directly and indirectly. With this iteration of Penguin, Google wanted to take a deeper look at link value and quality. So if you’re indirectly affected by Penguin, it might be due to links in your website’s link profile being re-evaluated as weaker than they were before, or considered “false votes.” My advice is to re-double your link building through content marketing and outreach. By creating deep, quality content on your website and reaching out to other webmasters, writers, and bloggers in your niche, you can help rebuild your link profile organically and maybe regain some of your lost traffic due to Penguin. If you’ve had a direct hit from Penguin, you’ll be able to see it via a message from Google in your WMT. I would still recommend following the advice above, unfortunately though, you won’t see any removal of the penalty until the next rollout of Penguin. Which according to Google, should be more frequent now. But until then, to quote Search Engine Land, the clock is running.

Well that’s it for this week’s issue of SEO Rundown. I promise that this will be the last episode about Penguin for a while, unless there is some major breaking story that requires attention about Penguin. As always, if you like what you see, subscribe to our YouTube channel, Follow us on Twitter, G+, or Facebook, or check us out at MountainMedia.com!

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Google Penguin 2.0: What the Future Looks Like For SEO

Penguin 2.0 is finally here! As Google’s latest attempt to combat spammy websites and black hat SEO tactics, this algorithmic update is said to be more comprehensive than the first Penguin update. However, unlike its Panda counterpart, Penguin 2.0 will focus primarily on backlink patterns, anchor text and poor link building practices.

According to Matt Cutts, websites that visitors naturally want to explore and share its content should not be negatively affected. Cutts urges that webmasters and practitioners of white hat SEO continue doing what they’re doing as Penguin 2.0 rolls out. However, with big algorithmic updates come big changes for SEO. Here’s what you can expect:

Content marketing is the new link building

As I mentioned back in April, content marketing has become the new buzz phrase in the SEO industry. And while some SEOs will argue that content marketing is no new SEO tactic, it certainly is the future. Gone are the days of free backlinks. Content marketing forces SEOs to earn quality backlinks through great content and social networking. Therefore, the future of SEO relies heavily on the ability to produce quality content as well as the promotion of this content. Content can be in the form of text, video, infographics, or whatever else you can produce and put on your site. For instance, video marketing is a perfect example of quality content and it’s extremely under utilized by small businesses.

Online PR thrives post-Penguin

PR professionals are used to generating organic search and referral traffic. Unlike traditional SEO tactics, online PR is about creating quality content for the media and blogs in order to drive traffic to a website. Press releases can build domain authority through the acquisition of backlinks from distribution services and more. The press release can also increase brand awareness, sales and thought leadership. In a post Penguin 2.0 world, traditional link building tactics will begin to fail and online PR will thrive. If you’re not already using online PR, you better get familiar.

Google will look into guest blogging

After Penguin 1.0, many SEOs turned to guest blogging as an alternative method for link building. Why? Because it’s very easy to add a link and anchor text to the bios below guest authored posts. As a result, there have been an overwhelming amount of links from guest blogging. And Google has begun to take notice. However, guest blogging has more potential than just link building. It can also be a great branding tool for any company or organization. As SEOs, we have to become more selective about the guest blogs we choose. We should always avoid blogs that have a low domain authority and ones that accept all guest posts. SEOs should also switch up author bios. Focus less on keywords and more on branded anchor text. When possible, include the author’s social profiles and their company website. This will allow Google to recognize a guest blog post as authentic. Lastly, publish content that is targeted and relevant to that particular audience and you will save yourself from the inevitable iron fist known as Google’s Search Quality team.

Long-tail keywords gain more search traffic

Long-tail keywords will become the new way to gain search traffic post-Penguin. Simply put, they are far less competitive than short-tail keywords and they are fairly easier to optimize on landing pages. With Penguin 2.0 forcing SEOs to focus on the customer rather than search engine rankings, long-tail keyword targeting is the key to meeting exactly what the customer is looking for. What’s more is that long-tail keywords produce highly relevant results, which can translate into high conversion rates for folks on the top of search engine results. Most importantly, the world has gone mobile. Think about how many people use iPhone’s Siri or Android’s Google Now for information. And when they talk into their phones they’re asking questions, not stating keywords. In essence, search is becoming conversational, which means SEOs need to start focusing more on long-tail keywords.

In conclusion, Penguin 2.0 is just another step in a positive direction. Rather than freaking out, embrace the chaos. Like every algorithmic update prior, Google stands by its core messages: create a website that users will love and write great content. If you can do that, Cutts assures us that Google will work hard to recognize it. Fear no more! SEO will always be a valuable tool to any business—that is, if it’s practiced correctly.

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Why Content is Still King For Ecommerce Sites

Here at Mountain Media, we often get asked the question: How can I make a website that people can enjoy and that ranks well in search engines? While the question is great, the answer is rather complicated.

As of late, Google has made changes to its algorithm to ensure quality websites outrank inferior websites. Through two Panda refreshers and one Penguin update, Google has made it easier to pinpoint and penalize those who create poor content by using keyword stuffing and unnatural language. At first, these updates left website owners at risk for big penalties including lowered rankings or being dropped altogether in Google’s search index. In turn, these websites risk a serious and costly drop in web traffic. For an ecommerce website, this can be extremely detrimental. These updates, as well as the inevitable future updates to search engine algorithms, are dramatically changing the role of SEO. While keywords are still important to a website, great content must be written for the benefit of the readers.

Now, back to the original question, the key to having a website that people can enjoy and that ranks well in search engines can be found in the Google guidelines. According to Google’s Webmaster guidelines, one should “create a useful, information-rich site, and write pages that clearly and accurately describe your content.” A useful website provides value or somehow benefits its visitors. It also includes information that cannot be found elsewhere on the Internet. Following these guidelines will help Google to find, index and rank your website. The challenging part is developing useful and interesting content. Now why is content important again?

Content attracts visitors

Unique content is important because it attracts visitor attention and builds interest in your website. Research shows that people are more likely to purchase products from a website that produces custom content. Where can you get unique content? Ask your boss! Business owners have a wealth of information regarding their particular product, service or industry. Unfortunately, this information often stays in their heads. Instead, take that knowledge and turn it into valuable web content. Publishing this information makes it tangible and a great resource for customers. Now that you have provided unique content to get them there, the challenge becomes keeping visitors on your website. You can do this by including video, photos and witty content. If you can provide this to your visitors, they will be more likely to stick around [Read: 3 Places for Video Love on Your Website].

Search engines score content

Publishing new and relevant content on your website is a way to show search engine spiders that your website is not stagnate. For example, Google measures all of your documents for freshness, then scores each page according to the type of search query. Search engines like Google want to provide the best user experience possible. Therefore, the goal of any major search engine is to return the most relevant results to users. Take an honest look at your website and see what pages will benefit most from freshness. Then, be fresh, relevant and most importantly, be useful.

Powerful inbound links

If you can write something useful and portray yourself as a thought leader within your industry, you create the opportunity for people to start writing about you and even linking to your articles. Having links from other websites to yours is a crucial SEO tactic. First, search engine robots follow links between websites. Therefore, the more inbound links you have the more often robots will visit your site. Secondly, many search engines consider inbound links as “votes” for you. They assume that if a lot of websites are linking to you, your site must be of high quality. Also, inbound links can bring more traffic to your website, which means potential leads and conversions. Essentially, the better your content is the more powerful the inbound links will be.

Content is an investment

Keep in mind, content is an investment in your site. Unlike Internet advertising, content is an investment that keeps bringing new visitors year after year. And all good things require effort. Writing web content is a skill that takes both practice and patience. As I’ve mentioned above, content should be both useful and interesting. It should also be SEO-rich. A good rule of thumb when it comes to writing web content is to use a keyword density of 3-5 percent—just enough to attract some new attention without sounding too redundant and disengaging. If your skills are not up to par, you may want to consider hiring someone well trained in the art [Read: PR & SEO: A Match Made in Cyber Heaven].

As you can see, the Google updates were quite alarming to the SEO professional who has always used traditional SEO techniques, like keyword stuffing, to help clients move up in the rankings. While there is still a need for optimization, good content is very important. This may mean hiring copywriters or public relations professionals to develop content strategies that include useful article topics, interesting blog posts, and website pages that engage readers in the future!

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