Monday, March 30, 2015

10 Small Business Marketing Lessons You Need Regardless of Size

by Heidi Cohen in Small Business

How To Market Your Small Business With Limited Resources

Are you certain you’re taking advantage of every aspect of your marketing to get the maximum results possible given your limited resources?
Don’t think that this doesn’t apply to your business because it’s larger and has greater resources.
The reality is that the more resources you have the more complex your marketing is and the more likely it is that you’re not getting the biggest bang for your marketing buck.
Small businesses by their nature must ensure that every aspect of their company supports their revenue generation and growth.

10 Small business marketing lessons you need regardless of size

Here are the 10 small business marketing lessons I learned.
   Small business marketing lessons


1. Take the time to get to know your customers.

Many owners jump into their business without examining and understanding their target audience.
Actionable Small Business Marketing Lesson: Create a marketing persona to get insights into your buyers and their purchase needs. This will save you time and money since you’ll know what your potential buyers are looking for.

2. Distinguish your offering from your competition.

Assess what your competitors (and close substitutes) are doing from your customers’ perspective. Then map out where there’s a gap in the offering you can fill.
For example, in a sea of sheep wool offerings, Bijou Basin offered yak yarn and blends. It stood out from many different types of sheep yarn.
By contrast, Tess Yarns provides color, color and more color. Unlike any other yarn vendor, Tess Yarns organizes their offering not by yarn size or type, but by color.
Actionable Small Business Marketing Lesson: Stake out an unserved or underserved segment in your market. Before you start, assess the size of your potential audience to ensure it’s big enough for you to attract sufficient prospects (Bear in mind that you’ll only convert a very small percentage of them.)
To this end, create your small business brand to distinguish your firm.

3. Promote your business.

You must get the word out about your business whether it’s via word of mouth or advertising. Marketing is necessary.
A leather craftsman named Lanny had a booth where he sold his handmade wares such as high quality belts that he sized to order while you waited. Unfortunately, he had no signage to attract shoppers or helper to handle the sales.
Actionable Small Business Marketing Lesson: Publicize your firm using the best methods you can afford to effectively reach your customers. Maximize every business element and interaction by incorporating your message in contextually relevant ways.
Don’t put all of your effort into doing your business to the exclusion of letting people know that it exists. (BTW—Peter Shankman wrote a great post on this: Are You a Shoemaker’s Kid?)


4. Choose your location with care.

Think beyond the rental cost since location, location, location matters! Sales depend on being where your audience is.
On digital and social media engage and provide content where your target audience spends their time. Also, choose your URL or digital address with care for memorability and ease of spelling.
At one point, I worked for a well-known clothing brand whose management chose its retail locations based on the cheapest price. Lower rental prices translated to lower sales.
Actionable Small Business Marketing Lesson: Choose to establish your business where people normally spend their time, both in the physical and the online worlds.


5. Appreciate that product presentation matters.

Show your product in a setting that makes people want to own it. This is why you need to provide the 5 basic content types including styling.
An auctioneer sold wooden thread bobbins with remnants of thread and yarn on them for $0.50 each. These spools were thrown into a box on an out of sight lower shelf.
While I wondered if the yarn was knitable, two women wondered how many they could get into their suitcases. When I ask what they intended to use them for, they responded that planned to sell them for $15 a piece as a home décor item. Some markup!
Actionable Small Business Marketing Lesson: Invest time and resources in presenting your product to attract the optimal price. You must balance the cost of your time and resources to improve your product presentation with the net increase in price. Don’t spend more than you’ll recoup in profits.


6. Use packaging to distinguish your offering.

Astute yarn vendors like Miss Babs monitor which patterns are popular with knitters on Ravelry, a knitting, crocheting, and spinning social media community.
Based on these trends, Miss Babs creates coordinated multi-color packages of pre-measured yarn that sell at a premium for the amount of yardage. Buyers are willing to pay a bit extra rather than buying larger amounts of each color.
Actionable Small Business Marketing Lesson: Take advantage of current trends to create more tailored offerings for which your audience will pay more. This has broad applicability for small businesses seeking to exploit opportunities such as larger quantities and home delivery.
Not sure what your audience wants? Ask them.


7. Underestimate customers’ desire for quality at your peril.

All else being equal customers seek superior products. In fact, many customers will pay extra to get better products.
With products that include an element of craftsmanship like specially produced or dyed yarn, customers choose to pay more and perceive the investment to be worth it. As a result, you make higher margins.
For example, no knitter wants to invest time in making an item only to have the color bleed onto their hands and clothes.
Actionable Small Business Marketing Lesson: Provide customers with the best quality product you can afford to keep them coming back for more.
At the Sheep and Wool Festival, knitters rush to shop at the top quality vendors and wait in long lines to purchase.


8. Low price always attracts buyers.

There were several examples of vendors offering bargain basement prices for odd lots of mass produced yarn. They continually attracted lines of buyers.
Understand that once you start competing on price, it’s a slippery slope that only leads in one direction (and that’s down.)
Actionable Small Business Marketing Lesson: Leverage opportunities to provide more custom, quality products where you can charge a higher price.
Have a sales bin or rack where you offer older or last season’s product at a greatly discounted price. It’s a great way to move excess inventory for your cost.


9. Build personal relationships.

There’s truth to the adage: people buy from people.
I bought a hank of fine white lace wool from Wales to make a wedding shawl because Polly, the owner, and I spent time talking about her country. She then showed me the difference in the various weights of yarn and how it knit up into shawls. I was sold.
Actionable Small Business Marketing Lesson: Invest your time in interacting and engaging with your prospects and customers. It will come back to you in repeat business and word of mouth reviews.


10. Don’t do everything yourself.

Most business owners and executives need help, especially in today’s world of vanishing support staff. Consider the value of your time and lost business if you do everything yourself. You’ll be like the leather craftsman mentioned above.
Actionable Small Business Marketing Lesson: Determine what tasks you can give to someone else. If you don’t have the resources to invest in hiring people, get creative about how you pay and use your time.
Determine if there’s some way you can exchange services or use your time to create more sales. Still need help, try your family and friends.
The bottom line: Check every element of your marketing to ensure that it’s pulling its weight in terms of yielding the highest return possible. Use these 10 small business marketing tips as a checklist.
What other small business marketing lessons are needed regardless of size
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Friday, March 27, 2015

5 Things Retail 2.0 Can Teach Brick and Mortar

By Henry Helgeson, CEO, Cayan — January 27, 2015       

A new brand of retail companies has been popping up in recent years. Call it Retail 2.0. Many of them started out with e-commerce, focusing on delivering tailored, unique offerings within stagnant industries such as eyeglasses and jewelry.

Now many are moving to open brick-and-mortar stores as well, but they aren't doing it the traditional way. Instead they are redefining what retail means, by thinking about the customer experience holistically and not just stopping at the storefronts they occupy.

For example, many of these storefronts are pop-up shops -- showrooms that turn the concept of showrooming on its head. They actually encourage shoppers to check out the goods in their stores and then, often, to purchase online (or order in-store for home delivery). It might seem like a simple tactic on the surface, but it's completely disrupting consumers' expectations of what they think a retail experience should be.

As the creative strategies of today's e-commerce startups shake up how Americans view retail, traditional brick-and- mortar companies have a lot to learn. Here are a few examples of lessons from the trenches of the Retail 2.0 revolution:

1. Don't go against the grain
Example: Warby Parker
 People often like to shop online for convenience. They also know it's easier to shop around and make sure they get the best deal. But there are certain things we still prefer to shop for in person. Many consumers want to touch fabrics, try on clothing, examine jewelry, see colors in person, etc. It's silly to try to prevent people from showrooming (as some big-box stores have done) - instead, recognize why they do it and think about how you can use it to your advantage. Warby Parker realized long ago that people will happily buy glasses online (especially for $100 a pop), but they prefer to be able to try their frames on first. That's why they offer at-home try-ons. But they've also taken it a step further, opening showrooms in Boston, New York, Los Angeles and beyond. Some of the more traditional big-box stores, such as Best Buy, have similarly found that trying to defeat showrooming isn't going to work. As senior vice president of marketing Scott Moore explained, "The thing about showrooming is it's not the ideal experience to do research at home, go to the store, do more research, then hit pause, go home and order and hope it arrives on time," he said. "There's a better way." In other words, if you can't beat ‘em, join ‘em.

2. Maximize space, minimize investment
Example: Bonobos
Bonobos's CEO has said that, "Brick and mortar isn't going away but it is evolving into something more exciting." Bonobos Guideshops have no inventory. The company doesn't have to deal with carrying costs or buy a "scale" of different sizes and colors, some of which inevitably end up being marked down and sent to the outlets at traditional retail stores. Additionally, Bonobos' employee costs are lower than traditional retail stores because there's no need for a huge staff to interact with everyone who's browsing, manage all the inventory and run to the back room to retrieve stocked merchandise. Without the need for a store room, Bonobos uses less real estate (its stores max out at 1,500 square feet) and its overall costs are lower. Sound like something that can only apply to this special scenario? In fact, brick-and-mortar stores can try many of these tactics. For example, look for ways to minimize costs by keeping samples in the store and storing inventory in less expensive warehouse space. Then offer cheap or free shipping right to customers' doorsteps. If you make it easy for them to get the best of both worlds, you can save costs while delivering a better customer experience.

3. Take customer engagement seriously
Example: Blank Label
Blank Label, a Boston-based men's custom clothing retailer, knows that happy, engaged customers buy more clothes. The company started out with an online shop where men could purchase bespoke shirts, suits and more. Using a simple online tool that collects information such as height, weight and typical clothing sizes, Blank Label has been able to offer customized fits without the need for measuring. This type of personalized, high-quality service is not only engaging for the customer but highly scalable. Recently, the etailer opened up two Pattern Shops in its native city where customers can get the tactile experience that many of them crave when it comes to purchasing clothing, especially high-end goods such as dress shirts and suits. Of course, it makes a lot of sense for a bespoke fashion retailer to take this approach, but brick-and-mortar stores of all types can learn from it. They should focus on how they can increase engagement and provide a more personalized experience to a wider range of consumers. Today's shoppers expect attentive service, personalized marketing and a seamless online to offline experience, and Blank Label provides a pattern for how to make this work in the current climate.

4. Test the waters without diving in
Example: Gemvara
 Gemvara tested out a pop-up shop on Newbury Street in Boston from November 2013 to February 2014. Ultimately, the shop didn't get much foot traffic, so the company decided not to open a full-time brick-and-mortar shop. Although this type of "failure" may seem like a bummer on the surface, it was a smart, low-investment way to test out the concept without committing to a full-year lease in an expensive area. Ultimately, Gemvara elected to open two appointment-only stores in Boston and New York, allowing their customers to get the hands-on experience without hiring round-the-clock staff. Many restaurants are trying out similar tactics today as well -- testing concepts via pop-ups or food trucks before they open actual brick-and-mortar spaces. Trying out your ideas at a market, opening a limited-time storefront or testing a pop-up in someone else's retail space can be a worthwhile experiment even for more traditional types of businesses. Ideally, lessons learned can be translated into a better customer experience, whether that ultimately lives online or offline.

5. Use real estate for marketing (and market research)
Example: Ministry of Supply
Some companies get caught up in thinking of their storefronts as simply a place to sell things. But it's important to recognize that physical retail locations are also (perhaps more importantly) a way of marketing your company -- getting the word out and letting people experience your brand in a visual, tangible way. Boston's Ministry of Supply recently opened a pop-up to help get the word out in the city about its futuristic, space-age men's wear for commuters and professionals with an active lifestyle. The brand picked Newbury Street, a popular shopping avenue in Boston, to get in front of the right customers at the right time, in a way that's hard to do while you're growing your business online. Traditional brick-and-mortar companies should also think creatively and look at real estate as an opportunity to find new markets, test new products and develop a coherent brand over time.

Technology is changing the way we shop and shifting the relationship we have with brands. The five Retail 2.0 companies mentioned above have some valuable lessons that more traditional brick-and-mortar companies can learn from and put to work improving their businesses.

What is your company doing to stay competitive in the age of Retail 2.0?

Henry Helgeson is CEO of Cayan.

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Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Not Just For Shoppers: How Mobile Helps Store Associates

Written by  Josh Marti, Point Inside
VP site only PointInside head shotHave you ever worked as a retail store associate? If so, how long did it take you to memorize the location of 45,000 products? On day one, you’re just learning where to clock-in but by the end of the week, you could probably identify the location of the different departments. Chances are, you haven’t memorized all of the products and locations — no matter how long you’ve worked in a store — and things move around a lot each month.
Consider that the average store has between 800 and 2,500 categories and tens of thousands of products. Add in the impact of resets, seasonal items and inventory fluctuations, and you’ve got product in constant motion.
As we speak, this motion is only increasing. This past holiday season, retailers hired on temporary workers in record numbers in response to high sales predictions. For the 2014 season, Walmart hired 60,000 temporary workers, Kohl’s hired 67,000, Macy’s hired 86,000, and the list goes on. As we settle into the New Year, CIT reports that retailers plan to continue to bring on new employees as sales climb steadily throughout 2015.
No doubt that high retail sales is great news for the economy, but also poses some serious challenges for retailers. How can retailers maintain their brand promise during busy shopping periods, especially when hiring on completely new associates? How can retailers quickly train thousands of workers who need to hit the ground running on day one?
The answer is the same tool that shoppers already use in stores every day: Mobile.
Arming associates with mobile devices starts new temporary workers on the right footing by supplying instant information in the palms of their hands. Mobile also helps current associates, providing important visibility into product inventory, product location, associate location, store metrics, search and more. If a shopper asks where an item is, store associates can use their phones to look up the exact location instead of offering their best guess. Accurate product location also helps associates return items correctly to store shelves — a common problem in-store.
Most importantly, mobile can answer shoppers’ two most frequently asked questions: “Do you have it?” and “Where can I find it?” Many shoppers prefer to use their phones to get these answers rather than find and ask a real person. By looking up a product’s location and inventory in the aisle, shoppers can service their own requests, including the all-famous question: “Where is the bathroom?”
For those shoppers who would like to speak to a real person, mobile phones can also help shoppers find associates in-store. Wandering the store looking for an associate is frustrating for shoppers, other store associates and store managers alike. Imagine store associates being able to pinpoint their colleagues on a phone to let them know a shopper needs help, or shoppers able to find the location of the nearest associate and send him or her a message via mobile. The possibilities are endless.
Mobile also makes the checkout process seamless. I have yet to meet a shopper who loves waiting in the checkout line. To combat this, retailers such as Nordstrom have associates waiting in-aisle with mobile phones and bright green shirts, ready to check out any guest wherever he or she is at — streamlining the shopping experience for customers and making the process more efficient for employees.
The final piece of the mobile puzzle is its ability to make store operations more efficient — especially important for new employees just learning the ropes. Completing routine workflow management, such as walking the floor to perform managerial duties, can be difficult if employees have to walk to the front of the store to address each problem. Employees waste time and productivity by continually pacing across thousands of square feet.
With mobile, store associates can instead identify exactly where a problem is and notify the appropriate personnel to address it. Mobile tools can also help store associates carry out a number of other routine operations, such as setting a planogram, setting new stock on store shelves or reordering products. Employees can easily reorder items by scanning them using their phones or finding them through mobile product search.
Implementing mobile tools for associates requires its own strategy — but that’s a completely separate topic in itself. What retailers need to know now is that by empowering store associates with mobile, they can change conversations with shoppers from answering location and inventory questions to conversations where they can provide expertise and recommendations.

Mobile answers shoppers’ most-asked day-to-day questions while giving store associates both the confidence and the time to represent the brand. Using mobile, associates have the tools to truly be the connection between store operations and the enterprise to the shopper — in turn increasing revenue and basket size for retailers and improving the overall shopping experience for customers.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Retailers, Use These 39 Spring Cleaning Tips For Your Business

03 | 22 | 15            

iStock_000016360276_Medium-sorcererOne of my favorite stories as a kid was the Sorcerer’s Apprentice.  Whether you saw it in Disney’s Fantasia or read the old German poem, the plot is the same.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Surprising March Madness Tips For Retailers

Will you get sucked into the madness of the NCAA Final Four Tournament this year? It’s OK if you do.
The tournament has come a long way since its origin in an old gym at Northwestern in 1939. And branding the phrase “March Madness” back in the 80′s raised the event’s popularity to new heights, as it became the second most prevalent sports showcase for advertisers, behind only the NFL playoffs.
Take Quicken Loans Quicken Loans and Warren Buffett’s infamous offering: One billion dollars to anyone who can perfectly predict the entire bracket. Don’t count on it, though; the odds of winning are worse than hitting the lottery two times in a row, while only purchasing a single ticket each time (1 in 9,223,372,036,854,775,808).
But Just How Popular Popular Is It?
It’s estimated that an unprecedented $2 billion dollars in productivity is lost in the office through the tournament’s duration.
So why can two teams like Wofford or Davidson transform from complete unknowns in February to the talk of the tournament in March? Social media has helped. According to Twitter TWTR +0.7%, there were more than 135,000 tweets using #MarchMadness during the few days between Selection Sunday and the first game last year. But for the most part, social merely elevates popular topics to a higher level. The originality of the trending topic or event needs to start organically – with the product itself (a.k.a. the games) and the way they make you feel.
How Can Retailers Convert Customers into Fans?
“What’s the difference between a customer and a fan?” asked Vivek RanadivĂ©, majority owner of the NBA’s Sacramento Kings, during the keynote at Stanford GSB’s inaugural Sports Innovation Conference. “Fans will paint their face purple, fans will evangelize. … Every other CEO in every business is dying to be in our position — they’re dying to have fans.”
According to Pat Bakey, general manager of consumer industries at SAP in his recent post for Retail Customer Experience, “Technology truly has taken the fan experience off the court and into fingertips of a global fan base. It enables them to ‘live the brand’ 24/7. Sporting brands have got the always-on fan experience nailed and other industries can learn a lot from them — especially retailers.”
Rooting for your favorite sports team is an emotional roller coaster, and we all love the ride. But March Madness isn’t popular because of one team, or one player, but two main themes that retailers need to embrace.
1. A Personalized Experience
Each year 60 million Americans (including the president) watch the games with brackets in their hands. Some teams on the bracket might seem like a mystery, but winners and losers are selected nevertheless. The created rooting interest adds meaning to games that might otherwise get turned off. We cheer for our customized bracket and jeer against our competition’s choices. Consumers like personalization, and they expect it. Seventy-eight percent of them are more likely to be a repeat customer if a retailer provides them with targeted, personalized offers; they’ll even pay 25% more for a better customer experience.
2. The Element of Surprise
The “Madness” comes from all of the seemingly impossible surprises each year. Ironically, even though we’re expecting these surprises in advance, we watch unknowingly of when or where to expect them. Yet once the magical buzzer beater swishes the net as it always seems to do … we’re still surprised!
It behooves the innovative retailer to find ways to evoke the customers’ emotions and capture their attention. For example, Disney recently created a fictional storefront inside of a mall without any intent to ever open it to the public. Instead, unsuspecting shoppers were pleasantly surprised as they passed by. They witnessed their morphed shadows that instantly portrayed Disney characters. It put a smile on thousands of faces and ultimately enticed many to start dancing. Without a single item available for purchase, this experiential marketing campaign successfully harnessed over 500,000 Facebook likes, in large, from the element of surprise.
In college, I was employed at Citizens Bank and was chosen to work my shifts at Citizens Bank Park, home of the Philadelphia Phillies. My mission as a “Ballpark Banker” was to serve as a goodwill ambassador to the fans, and the underlying theme blossomed around both personalization and the element of surprise. Whether golf-carting the elderly from the parking lot to the stadium or engaging the fans with random acts of kindness, the ballpark banker combines a fan-friendly, personalized experience with the intrigue of surprise. It’s not what you’d expect from a typical bank, is it? The future of retail is now. How are you revolutionizing the customer experience and converting consumers into fans?
Written By Ryan Somers  March 12, 2015

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Amazon: No fear of failure

By | March 18, 2015                                                             

Since the mid-nineties, America’s premier e-commerce site has habitually and utterly disrupted retail. But recently retailers have hit back, with more nimble e-commerce sites of their own, price matches, and delivery options that continue to rival whatever Amazon comes up with.

And while other retailers created and improved their omni-channel strategies, Amazon overplayed its hand and launched an entire phone when a mobile app may have been the better trick.

But Amazon’s willingness to try and fail may ultimately be the key to its continued success. Retail Dive looks at the challenges Amazon faces these days.


Showrooming goes in reverse

There was a time when retailers large and small were crumpled by shoppers showrooming—where they would check out the goods they wanted in stores and buy from Amazon at significant discounts. But retailers of all sizes have learned to match prices, provide added advantages to being in store, or both, and now consumers are just as likely to reverse the process: search for things online and head to the store to get it immediately, a process now known as “webrooming.”

That has helped spark a dizzying array of delivery options from retailers—of all speeds and conveniences. Cheap or free shipping with increasingly lower minimums, same-day delivery, and pick-up in-store.

“While showrooming is centered on price, 'reverse showrooming' is all about discovery,” writes Jeff Fagel, CMO of G/O Digital, in Entrepreneur magazine. “Therein lies the real opportunity. As our research found, 30% of holiday shoppers said they always use their desktop/laptop computers to research on-sale items before heading to stores. If that stat isn’t convincing enough, another 25% said they go online to ‘compare products and prices between retail stores’ before making their way to stores.”


Prices don’t matter so much anymore

These days, consumers are in the driver’s seat, demanding good value from retailers of all kinds, not just Amazon. For one thing, they’re wising up to the fact that Amazon doesn't necessarily present the best way to shop, and its prices aren’t always the lowest any more either.

Larger retailers like Target, Wal-Mart Stores, and Best Buy have risen to the challenge and have done a good job of matching Amazon’s once-always lower prices.

And retailers like local booksellers, which can’t meet Amazon’s cut rates, have found other ways to please customers with services and loyalty programs that require in-person relationships.

"There is this larger, cultural shift ... to buy local,” Stacy Mitchell, a senior researcher with the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, told CNN. "Rather than pulling back and buying into the idea that they could save a few bucks elsewhere, in many communities, people seemed to make even more of an effort to steer their spending to businesses owned locally.”


E-commerce is still being disrupted

And not always by Amazon. In addition to pricing, delivery, pick-up, and return options offered by many retailers, soon-to-launch Jet will be introducing even newer ways for consumers to save money.

Amazon initially freaked out retail by undercutting on price, then disrupted itself (and everyone else) further by offering ways to get free shipping. But Jet, much like bulk e-commerce site Boxed, is adding layers of disruption by providing more variables and choices to consumers. Also like Boxed, Jet plans include nimble mobile commerce, Jet CRO Scott Hilton told Retail Dive.

The site will work with retailers’ inventories to locate items a shopper wants and provide options. The item, price, speed, basket size, and basket mix are all variables that may be under a shopper’s control, and Jet shows the potential savings.

“We have a unique tech angle—live dynamic pricing and repricing,” Hilton says. “There are options that steer shoppers to more economically efficient orders. Jet members will be able to pay more to speed up shipping or waive the right to return to save money.”

Jet will be based on a membership model. At $49 a year, it’s way below Amazon’s $99 Prime membership and will be Jet’s only source of profit.

Of course, Amazon’s Prime membership is a formidable thing: Amazon Prime members spend $1,500 each year, more than double the $625 non-Prime members spend. Amazon doesn’t release its figures on Prime membership, but Consumer Intelligence Research Partners, LLC (CIRP) in January estimated that the retailer has some 40 million Prime members, bulked up in part by free trial offers over the holidays.

And Prime members enjoy a raft of extra privileges that greatly boost Amazon’s value to them, including access to the company’s streaming entertainment and music services and access to its Kindle lending library at no extra charge.


Is pure-play e-commerce doomed?

New York University marketing professor Scott Galloway makes a strong case that pure-play retailers, whether just brick-and-mortar or just e-commerce, are doomed. He includes Amazon, whose approach he dubs a "last-man strategy," meaning that Amazon is waiting for its competitors to struggle under the challenges it presents to retail (free shipping, fast shipping, one-click orders, low prices) until they essentially cry "Uncle."

Galloway says that retailers (and delivery services like Uber) are successfully taking on that challenge, though, and that Amazon will stumble as stores beef up their e-commerce and especially their fulfillment options.

Others don't buy that, saying that Amazon is in many ways as special as Jeff Bezos seems to think it is.

"I disagree," writes Oracle's David Dorf in his Commerce Anywhere blog of Galloway's assertions. "Not because the logic is flawed, but rather because Amazon is not a typical retailer. I believe they could be profitable if they wanted to but instead choose to continue investing in widening their competitive moat. Not only is their retail business state-of-the-art, but their investments in AWS, tablets, payments, IoT, etc. are complementary, and help to diversify the business (yes, they can do both). Amazon is not your typical pure-play."


The phone, the drones

In addition to greatly increased competition from various directions, Amazon has launched a few high-profile shots that have so far failed to materialize or even outright bombed. Its drone program, for example, has something of a dubious future, considering regulations released in February by the Federal Aviation Administration that would bar the drones Amazon envisioned for its “Prime Air” program.

But perhaps Amazon’s most conspicuous failure is the Fire phone, a pricey device that had little appeal, is expensive, and may have been able to accomplish its aims with a well-designed app.


No fear of failure

The thing is, none of this likely matters in the long run for Amazon, for the simple reason that failure is baked into its approach to success.

“What really matters is, companies that don’t continue to experiment, companies that don’t embrace failure, they eventually get in a desperate position where the only thing they can do is a Hail Mary bet at the very end of their corporate existence,” founder-CEO Bezos told Business Insider late last year.

“Whereas companies that are making bets all along, even big bets, but not bet-the-company bets, prevail," he says. "I don’t believe in bet-the-company bets. That’s when you’re desperate. That’s the last thing you can do.”

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Monday, March 16, 2015

How To Drive Massive Referral Traffic From Pinterest In 2015

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How To Drive Massive Referral Traffic From Pinterest In 2015

There was a time not too long ago when you could solve your traffic problems by simply churning out more content and spending money on PPC ads.

And that approach may still work if you’ve got a lot to invest.

But even if you do, such methods of driving traffic have lost their mojo. Less and less people are clicking on ads. Instead, they are turning on, and tuning in … to social networks.

While several marketers and businesses have realized the notion and turned their attention to social networks as a means to drive referral traffic to their sites, many continue to make the mistake of placing the majority of their focus on Facebook and Twitter. As a result, they are missing tons of traffic that should be theirs.

I’m talking about Pinterest as an often-disregarded source of social media referral traffic.

Here’s why you should take notice: Pew Research revealed that Pinterest is rising in popularity and has even surpassed Twitter. Pinterest used to be about women but the social network has men as its fastest-growing demographic.

What’s more intriguing than the rising popularity of the pinning platform is that Pinterest brought in more than 3x the traffic of Google Plus, YouTube, Twitter, StumbleUpon, LinkedIn and Reddit combined, according to Shareaholic’s Q3 2014 Social Media Traffic Report.

However, these stats aren’t the only reason to consider Pinterest. Internet users are naturally drawn to attractive, high-quality visuals. They process information quickly when it’s presented in the form of images and they’re more willing to engage with such content. What does this mean for your business? On social media it’s a general rule that the more engagement there is with visitors the more referral traffic you’ll get back to your site.


Getting started on Pinterest

Sign up to Pinterest with your email, Twitter, or Facebook profile. Use your business name as your username, and fill in the rest of the details – company logo, description, and website URL.

For the profile name, you can use your business name + a keyword. So if you’re a coffee shop and your business name is ‘Breco’, use ‘Breco Coffee shop’ as your profile name. Follow the same rule for the ‘About’ section of your page; you can also include a call-to-action such as ‘visit our site for more’. Verify your account so that it appears in search engine results.

Creating a profile on Pinterest

Next, you create boards for the content that’s published on your site. If your site’s content is published in different categories, you can create a board for each category. Name the board after the category to make it easy for followers to filter content according to their interests. In the board description, you can mention keywords and call-to-action.

ThinkGeek is a great example of how to name and categorize Pinterest boards.

How to categorize Pinterest boards

Create boards that resonate with your content categories and overall business.


Actionable Ways To Drive Referral Traffic From Pinterest

So how do you make the most out of your presence on Pinterest, and increase referral traffic to your site? Here are a few practical tips to help you drive more traffic:


1. Display the official ‘Pin It’ button on your site

The ‘Pin It’ button will let your site visitors add things from your webpage to their Pinterest accounts. When they do, their followers are likely to see your site’s content as well. You can get the Pin It button from Pinterest by filling out the information. You can select from different Pin It images or even create a custom image.

The Official Pin It Button for websites

After you generate the code for the widget, add it to your site. Here’s how the ‘Pin It’ button appears on Geekalerts.

Geek alerts displays the Pin It Button on its web pages

The Pin It button will serve as a visual reminder, making it easy for visitors to pin images from your site, which will drive referral traffic from their accounts.

WordPress users can also use the jQuery Pin It Button for images. The plugin is used by popular sites such as SocialMediaExaminer.


2. Optimize your visuals

As Pinterest is all about images, you’ll need to come up with great visuals to entice people on the network. Here’s how you can optimize your visuals to increase their chances of being repined:
  • Pin videos directly on Pinterest
  • Use a watermark on your visuals
  • Use the 2:3 aspect ratio for images (aim for tall than wide)
  • Covert multiple images into infographics as long visuals get the most repins and traffic
  • Try not to use real faces. Images without faces receive 23 percent more repins
  • Use a clever mix of pictures, text overlays, and step-by-step instructions to create sharable images. These may also be called ‘how to’ images or ‘tip’ images
  • Use dominant colors in the images
  • Use PicMonkey to optimize the template of your visuals
Facebook advanced marketing expert Jon Loomer shares long-length images on his Pinterest account.

Long length pins get more repins

And here’s an example of an image with dominant colors from Paula Deen’s account. This image was repined 307,000 times.

Use dominant colors to optimize Pinterest images

Utilize these tips to create the most sharable images.


3. Include a link to your site in the pin and its description

One of Pinterest’s best features is that it gives you the option to relay images back to your website. To redirect an image, you need to edit the pin, and modify its source. Pinterest gives you the option to change the source of any pin you’ve uploaded.

Edit pin source on Pinterest to insert site link

The retail giant Target does this on its images uploaded to Pinterest. When someone on Pinterest clicks on the image, they are redirected to Target’s webpage. Here’s an example of such an image redirecting to Target’s store.

Target includes its site's link in its pins

Similarly, putting your site’s URL in the pin’s description can drive more traffic to your site. This will be helpful in attracting traffic in the form of visitors who are using Pinterest for the first time and may not click a pin twice to go to your site (two clicks are required: the first enlarges a pin, and the second takes a visitor to a website).


4. Engage with followers

To turn Pinterest followers into site visitors, you need to engage with them. You can increase engagement by pinning consistently so that pins appear in the feeds of your followers. If you can’t find time to pin regularly, you can schedule pins with Tailwind or Viral Woot.

You should also check pins and boards of your followers and repin content that’s relevant to your business. It’s also a good strategy to repin content from influencers – it would be a major boost to your Pinterest referral traffic if they return the favor. For instance, Williams Sonoma invited Jennifer Shea, baker and business owner, to create a board for parties and occasions.

Commenting on other pins will also drive engagement, and after you develop some authority, you can also leave a link to your site in the comments section (don’t do it quite often or when you’re just starting out on Pinterest as your effort can be flagged as spam).

Another viable strategy is to check what is being shared on your Pinterest page and pin new content around that theme. Those with a verified business website can check analytics or you can conduct an audit via www.pinterest/com/source/

Starbucks does a great job at Pinterest engagement by pinning images related to their coffee items and community. On a board titled ‘Coffee Moments’, they pin pictures of customers enjoying coffee and creative images of coffee.

Starbucks community engagement on Pinterest

Another thing you can do to involve your community is create group boards. These boards can compromise of staff, contributors & followers, and they can be kept open for anyone to join. The contributors to your group boards can become brand ambassadors, promoting your site’s content on your behalf. Lastly, contribute to other boards where you can occasionally post pins that include your site’s link.


5. Host contests

Contests are a convenient way of attracting more engagement, traffic and followers directly to your Pinterest boards and indirectly to your site. Read Pinterest’s guidelines on hosting contests before getting started.

One way of getting Pinterest traffic to come to your site is by engaging visitors with your site-hosted contests. This only requires you to pin the contest in one of your Pinterest boards. But let’s talk about how to host a contest directly on Pinterest.

For instance, you can create a contest board named after your business and ask participants to submit their favorite items directly from your website (so that the URL is included) in that board along with a comment of why they like the item. One or more than one individual with the best comment(s) can be announced the winner.

Additional tips
  • Create a buzz about your contest by promoting it to your email list, other social networks, and website visitors
  • Offer an excellent prize. If you don’t have a big enough budget, you can give away discount coupons or merchandise
  • Mention the date at which the winner will be announced
A great contest example is HP SpectreXT Laptop contest on Pinterest. It was engaged with by Pinterest users who were asked to create boards based on weekly themes to win a $500 Amazon gift card or the laptop itself. HP posted a theme on its dedicated web page where participants were asked to create boards based on the theme, as well as a pin featuring the laptop. Users were also required to create a login to submit the URL to the board through the site’s page, and public votes were used to determine the winner each week.

HP Used Pinterest Contest To Drive Traffic To Its Landing Page

The takeaway? HP incorporated a landing page of its website into the contest strategy, which was enough to drive traffic to its site. Participants visited the landing page to learn contest rules, and other people also visited the site to submit their votes.

You can use apps like Wishpond or to organize your contest and promote it on other digital properties you own.


6. Leverage rich pins

Pinterest introduced rich pins to let certain businesses include more details about pinned images and integrate the Pin It button with mobile applications. Pin categories that display more information include: recipes, movies, and products.

The difference between a regular pin and a rich pin is that the latter shows the pricing and has a direct link to the website’s product page. Regular pins require you to enter the price manually and people are only able to see the link when they hover over the product image.

Rich pins can also be used by business owners who sell items on eBay or Etsy. Pinterest has a detailed page stating how a business can apply for rich pins. The benefits include improved discoverability, better CTR, and increased referral traffic to product pages.

Another standout feature of rich pins is email notifications when the price drops. This is called the ‘real-time pricing feature’ of rich product pins. So if anyone pins a product from your product page, and a week later you drop the price, that user would get an email notification of the price change. This means even if someone is not on your email list, rich pins will drive pinners back to your site.
Several online retailers use rich pins to drive traffic back to their sites. Here is an example from OverStock’s Pinterest page.

Rich Pins drive traffic to product pages


Over to you

I hope these tips give you some inspiration to boost your Pinterest referral traffic. When you implement them, measure the metrics within Pinterest analytics to determine what is working best for you.

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Friday, March 13, 2015

The Frustrated Shopper: Consumers' Mobile Technology Expectations Vs. Reality

Consumers are using their smartphones more frequently throughout the browsing and buying journey. As a result, their overall expectations of mobile offers and interactions are increasing.

While 44% of consumers want to earn and redeem loyalty points through their mobile phones, only 31% currently have these capabilities.

This infographic, courtesy of Mobiquity, uncovers results from a survey of 1,000 consumers regarding their mobile expectations and experiences.

 IG Mobiquity FV

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Retail Trend: Mobile Retailing

Why merchants should adopt a mobile wallet strategy

              | by Michelle Evans            
There has been no shortage of hype around the potential for in-store mobile payments — and for good reason. A mobile-enabled environment provides many benefits for players across this ecosystem.

For merchants of all types, a mobile wallet has the potential to boost revenues and reduce operating costs. One of the most often cited benefits of mobile payments by retailers and foodservice operators is the ability to reduce costs. This may be accomplished by lowering fraud loss and/or payment processing fees — the latter of which is often cited by merchants as the biggest expense after labour. In addition, mobile wallets may be able to move more consumers through the line more efficiently and thus drive revenues. If a merchant is able to leverage a mobile wallet to provide an immediate connection with its consumer base, mobile wallets may have the ability to help a merchant sell more goods and service during slow times by enticing its consumer base with discounts and coupons.

While both reducing costs and driving revenues are important to any business, two of the most often overlooked benefits associated with a mobile wallet may be the ability of a mobile-enabled environment to enhance the customer experience and further the merchant’s brand proposition. In this sense, payments may just be the period at the end of the sentence. Creating a consumer-centric shopping experience will enable companies to remain competitive in this ever-changing landscape. Lastly, a mobile-enabled environment also gives consumer-facing brands a way to differentiate themselves.

Why mobile is so unique

Mobile has truly rewritten the commerce playbook. This is because the mobile phone is the most disruptive force yet unleashed on the once relatively linear path to purchase. Its always-on availability is transforming predictable consumer journeys into dizzying twists and turns. Moving forward, mobile will be the means by which companies connect with consumers, and it is how consumers will research what they purchase.

Mobile commerce is much more powerful than e-commerce ever was. This is largely because mobile is much more than just a channel — it is a bridge between the physical and online worlds. In addition, mobile can provide context around the entire purchase decision. Companies can tailor offers based on the weather, the consumer’s exact location or past purchase history. In addition, consumers can use these devices either in store or on the go to help them locate the desired product or help them comparison shop. Furthermore, mobile offers consumer brands more of a real-time, direct contact with decision-makers than has ever been possible before.

As a result of these numerous benefits associated with a mobile wallet, many merchants, who in this case may more broadly refer to all types of retailers and consumer foodservice operators, are playing a leading role in driving the mobile shift in the commerce arena. In the US, for example, one of the most promising in-store mobile payments platform is being developed by a consortium of 50-plus merchants called the Merchant Customer Exchange. These merchants desire to cut card processing fees, maintain control of the consumer checkout experience and drive the more consumer-centric in-store shopping experience that only mobile can offer. The product dubbed CurrentC is expected to launch in 2015 across the US.

Cater to the anywhere, anytime consumer

Significant opportunities emerge when a retailer, consumer foodservice operator or consumer brand for that matter is invited into a consumer’s mobile world. Increasingly, businesses of all types have to cater to the anywhere, anytime consumers. The rich interactive experience of today’s mobile-enabled world is empowering millions of these connections for the first time and driving a more highly personalized real-world experience. This makes having a mobile strategy critical for businesses across a number of different categories.

There are important benefits to be had for consumer-facing businesses that make a mobile investment and get it right. Merchants of all types need to have a mobile strategy in place to meet the demands of this new hyper connected consumer base that expects brands to sell their wares or services with a personalised touch. Having an effective and robust mobile strategy will encompass both internet-based mobile purchases as well as in-store purchases. These two aspects of a mobile strategy will have to work in tandem, not in isolation from one another. Those merchants not doing something today in the mobile sphere will need to rectify this immediately. This may mean building an in-house app or it might mean deploying a third-party app that meets the business’s specific goals.

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Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Impulse Shopping Never Gets Old

Posted By Bradley Daves
Impulse buying
Those dang Millennials, with their selfies and their Instagrams and their Vines.  Completely self-involved.  My generation was never like that – too “smart” to work a boring job or be taken in by advertising.    

That argument is getting tired; it has a definite “you kids stay off my lawn” vibe.  More importantly, it’s not true.  Sure, Millennials are narcissistic and self-absorbed.  So was everyone at that age.  (Heck, the Boomers celebrated “The Me Decade.”)  It’s called being young, feeling full of yourself and thinking you know more than everyone else.

That same Millennial is probably also tech-savvy, globally aware, socially conscious, collaborative and altruistic.  Clearly a better person than I am.

Except when it comes to that candy display at the cash register.  It’s true, Millennials, you’re just as impulsive as anyone else.

Impulse buying knows no generation boundaries.  She is an equal opportunity temptress.  A 2014 Gallup study showed that 42% of US millennials had made an impulse purchase in the past four weeks. Forty percent of GenX respondents and 39% of the Baby Boomers reported the same.   
Because impulse buying is not a generational thing.  It’s a human behavior thing, tapping into two primal human motivations: avoiding pain and experiencing pleasure.

It is also a profitable thing, especially with brick-and-mortar retailers.  Research by A.T. Kearney indicates that 40% of consumers spend more money than they had planned in stores, while only 25% reported online impulse shopping.

So how can a retail marketer entice the shopper (of any generation) into an impulse purchase?

Choose the right products.

Shoppers love to be surprised.  Delight them with something cunning or cute.  Provide solutions to little problems; anticipate what they might need.  Display items in logical usage or occasion groups.  Be thematic and dramatic; curate items in a lifestyle context.

Think seasonal.  Think special occasion.  Think gift (maybe for herself).  And price it right so as not to exceed the shopper’s comfort threshold.

Put them in the right place.

The classic spot for impulse items is at the front of the store, leading to or at the register.  It makes sense.  When the shopper moves to the registers to pay, she has already made some selections.  She’s primed and in the buying mood.  So rather than a dreary, shuffling line, give her a mini gallery of “hey, I didn’t think of that” items.  (Sephora and Old Navy do a particularly great job with this.)

But what if there isn’t a cash register?  What if sales associates use handheld devices to complete shopper transactions?  Entirely possible, and becoming more likely each day.  Shopper marketers must move impulse items from the front of the store and into the aisles.  They should break up symmetrical, orderly departments with unexpected collections of “I didn’t know I needed this until I saw it” merchandise.  Strategically placed sales tables, POP units, custom shelving, displays and more will add excitement to the aisle and help the shopper give in to her impulses.

Promote them well.

It is critical to quickly and clearly help the shopper see (and feel) the monetary and emotional value of an impulse item.  Smart signage does that by anticipating and answering her questions.  Signs will tell the shopper what she’s buying, why she must have it, and why she should give in and get it now.  It is important that she gets the answers she needs in the moment; the stakes aren’t quite high enough for her to seek out an associate.

Clear, attention-grabbing signage will also communicate the urgency or exclusivity of promotions.  Special deals, limited time offers, VIP discounts and bundled items will engage the shopper and help her justify her impulse purchase.

To view the original article please visit:

Friday, March 6, 2015

6 Scientific Principles of Persuasion All Smart Ecommerce Founders Know


by Tommy Walker on

6 Scientific Principles of Persuasion All Smart Ecommerce Founders Know

The following is a guest post by Omri Yacubovich of Commerce Sciences.
Each day, we make hundreds - sometimes thousands - of decisions, without even realizing it. People are surrounded by persuasive messages all day long, from verbal suggestions by co-workers, to signs and flyers in the street, to more blatant advertisements on TV, radio, the Internet and in other media.
Most of these messages are fairly low-stakes; we see and hear them as we go about our business. We’re able to ignore them, or may be biased in a small way, but probably won’t be inspired to take action that very minute.
When a person visits your ecommerce store, however, they’ve already demonstrated a very important characteristic just by being there: they have some kind of commercial intent.
Are your offers and messages taking advantage of that and persuading visitors to become buyers?
Let’s have a look at the science behind persuasion and its impact on your ecommerce conversion rates.

Six Ways Shoppers are Influenced & Persuaded

Dr. Robert B. Cialdini described six ways in which consumers are persuaded to make purchasing decisions, in his popular 1984 book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion.  
According to Dr. Cialdini, these six subtle psychological pressures can influence customers in the moments that matter, inspiring them to say yes to whatever it is that’s being asked of them:
  • Reciprocation
  • Consistency
  • Social validation
  • Liking
  • Authority
  • Scarcity
Yes, we've talked about these before, but they're so important that it's worth examining them again to see how they can apply to your ecommerce environment.

1. Using Reciprocity to Drive More Small Conversions

This principle requires that you give something back in exchange for whatever it is you’ve received. One example of this is a free gift with a purchase, though it also applies to concessions people make to one another.

If you visit a small town ice cream shop, you’ll probably be offered a small sample of the different flavors of ice cream you’re considering. Accepting this small token makes a persuasive argument for you to go ahead and buy, because you feel like you should return the favor! You’re highly unlikely after accepting the sample to leave without buying an ice cream.

Ecommerce stores obviously can’t reach out and let you try their products in the moment of consideration.

What’s an online retailer to do?

Consider the size of your ask and what you can offer in return, or what concession you can make, to that customer for making such a big commitment to your brand. Often, consumers are more likely to accept a series of small requests than one large one.

Take retail Goliath Amazon, for example. They have some seriously big ticket items available for purchase online. Yet if you’ve ever bought new furniture for your house, you probably wanted to try it out first - to sit on the couch you’re considering, or feel the grain of the wooden bed frame.
How do you overcome that desire (which becomes an objection to buying online) and persuade the customer to convert? By offering something of value to the customer before you ask them to buy.

In Amazon’s case, this often means making a concession like offering free shipping, as in this example:


Reciprocity and Microconversions

Amazon Prime is another great example of reciprocity in ecommerce. In addition to Free two day shipping, they offer customers a number of “gifts” like early access to sales, free photo storage, and tons of movies and television shows on demand, simply for joining Prime for $99. All things considered, the price tag is a relatively small ask.

Once a customer enrolls in the program, Amazon can continue marketing to them and step it up with personalized offers based on that customer’s preferences.
The reciprocity is ongoing with the free two day shipping.

As Amazon continues to ask for more - convert and join Prime, convert and make a small purchase, convert and make a larger purchase - they continue to offer something of value. Since the customer has already said yes to the smaller offers, they feel invested and are more comfortable saying yes to the bigger ones.

Reciprocity isn’t only a sales tool; it can help you build your social audience, as well.

Offer a small discount or a free gift on checkout, then ask on the Thank You page that the customer follow your brand on Facebook. You’ve just given them something and they’re more likely to complete that action. You could also take this opportunity to ask for a review or social shares, which takes us right into the next principle that can help you persuade and convert.

2. Social Proof Made More Powerful with Personalization

Social proof is the psychological phenomenon whereby your online store visitors are influenced by the actions of others and are more likely to take the same action. It can be massively influential in an ecommerce environment and you have plenty of tools at your disposal!

One popular way to demonstrate social proof is to integrate your store with Facebook. Showing visitors which products other people bought most often or Like the most can be incredibly persuasive.

Check out all of the social proof in this hotel listing:
The little heart icon tells visitors that 4857 people have added this property to their Wish List. almost 4,500 people have left review. Forty-seven people are looking at the property right now and someone just booked 2 minutes ago! All of this social proof is highly persuasive to the buyer, who wants reassurance that they’re making a good choice.

Personalizing social proof kicks it up even further. Try letting visitors log in on your website using their Facebook credentials, so they can see reviews and products purchased by their friends. Check out Facebook integration apps in the Shopify’s Resources App Store.

3. Ensuring Commitment and Consistency

People are more likely to take action on things they’ve already thought over or discussed with others.

This is thanks, in part, to our desire to be consistent and stay committed to our ideas.

In an ecommerce environment, we want customers to stay committed to the idea of purchasing this product in front of them. We don’t want them to question or overthink it too much, or they’ll start objecting.

One great way to combat this is to use rhetorical questions as a way of driving commitment. In a 2006 Journal of Language and Social Psychology article, social scientists point out that “rhetorical questions can increase persuasion and message processing, creating a relatively strong, resistant attitude.”

Rhetorical questions don’t require an answer; the answer is either obvious, or doesn’t exist. They’re used to make a point, not elicit a response. Some ecommerce examples could include:
  • “If you could save 15 minutes a day, would you?”
  • “What if you never had to sharpen a kitchen knife again?”
  • “How would your family enjoy a week at the beach?”
You can even A/B test these different persuasive questions and see which are most effective ones by targeting first time visitors with a slide-out message or with an overlay.

4.  Being Likable  

We’re more likely to be influenced by people we like, but what is likability in ecommerce?

Being communicative, responding promptly and politely to inquiries and focusing on great user experience can all help. I’m more apt to like your brand if you make my shopping experience simple, intuitive or even fun.

Humanizing Your ecommerce Brand

Another way your business can be likable is to take care to humanize your brand in your communications and marketing material.

Generic business material is boring. Spice it up and give customers someone to actually like by sending messages out from your personnel, instead, like this:

Our internal data at Commerce Sciences shows that quality assurance and satisfaction messages are great applications of this personalized messaging tactic. However, it’s less effective with company policy messaging. People tend to see policies and restrictions (eg.: a 30-day return policy) as arbitrary rules; it’s easier to relate to a policy that was defined by an organization than a specific person.

Other promises are more effective coming from an individual. Testimonials on your ecommerce site are a great example of this - they’re far more compelling, with the name and picture of the author, than brand messaging saying the same. In fact, customer testimonials are the most effective form of content marketing (AdWeek SocialTimes).

5. Building Your Ecommerce Brand’s Authority

There are two distinct but equally important types of authority online: your authority with your audience and customers, and the authority your ecommerce site demonstrates to search engines.

Industry & Topic Authority

As an authority in your industry, your brand is a go-to source for accurate information, expert advice and in-depth insight. Within your brand, you may also have one or several public-facing people building their professional authority, which furthers your brand image and authority as a whole.
Image source: Twitter

Airbnb CMO Jonathan Mildenhall is a great example of the power of building authorities within your brand. Formerly the VP of Global Advertising Strategy and Creative Excellence at Coca-Cola, Mildenhall is a keynote speaker on the international stage and has graced the cover of AdAge. He helped Coca-Cola win 20 Cannes Lions in a single year (2013) and has amassed an impressive audience on Twitter and Tumblr.

Encouraging and empowering employees to speak at industry events, write for relevant publications, and use social networking ensures a steady flow of positive brand content that reflects well on the entire company. It shows the world your brand is passionate and involved in your industry.

Web Authority

Your ecommerce site’s authority is a different animal, though many of the same tactics are effective for brand authority building. Google and other search engines consider hundreds of factors in their ranking algorithms, including the perceived authority of the site.

How can you demonstrate authority?

While we don’t know exactly what it is search engines are considering (it would make it too easy to game the system), we can safely assume there are several authority signals in play. The best known and most talked (and speculated) about authority signal, of course, is the volume and quality of backlinks to your site.

Links tell search engines that other sites found your website and content reputable, relevant and informative enough to send traffic from their site to yours. Be cautious of SEO strategists who promise to build links for you; search engines crack down hard on links that appear reciprocal or otherwise spammy. Links should be earned through the publication of great content that compels people to naturally recommend your site to their audience.

Blogging is a fantastic way to build both topic and web authority, yet it’s a strategy underused by ecommerce brands, as demonstrated in Tommy Walker’s recent post The Curious Case of the Underwhelming Ecommerce Blog. Blogging brings huge traffic opportunities, keeps user on site longer and helps nurture and convert leads; if you commit to blogging and do it right, the payoff can be huge.

You’ll find some great blogging and linking tips in this Shopify SEO Strategy post.

6. Creating Scarcity  

The fear of missing out (FOMO) is a powerful motivator. Customers can be compelled to take action immediately when offered free shipping for a limited time only, time-sensitive discounts, the last of a remaining product, etc.

Stock Scarcity

Smart ecommerce marketers use a variety of tactics to create scarcity, such as showing a limited number of items left as in the example from Francesca’s, above. You can also show scarcity by size, by showing the unavailable sizes crossed out or in a different colored font. Or, use a tactic employed by many travel booking sites and display the number of current page viewers as buyers competing against one another.

Urgency and Timing

In the example above, Bath & Body Works really taps into the FOMO with limited time offers. You can also use coupons with a time limit, even going so far as a to include a countdown to expiry. Flash sales are another popular tactic for creating scarcity via urgency. If you don’t buy now, you’re going to pay more/miss out/not be happy. It’s super effective for converting buyers who are on the fence.


Persuasion isn’t the result of a single optimized message, or even an offer that matches your visitor’s intent. For ecommerce retailers, it means appealing on an emotional level to your customer using each of the tools and technologies at your disposal.

It means persuading each customer to take the next small step… and the next… and the next, until they ultimately convert and complete your desired action. And if you get your customer all the way to the cart but don’t seal the deal? Check out these 13 amazing abandoned cart emails for persuasive recovery messaging.

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