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15 Ways to Use Snapchat for Your Business

The days of Snapchat being used solely for sending pictures between friends are over.

This social media platform has evolved. Your company can’t afford to ignore the impact that this marketing channel can have on your business.

It’s an absolute necessity if you’re focusing on Generation Z as your target market. That’s because 71% of Gen Z use Snapchat as part of their daily routine. Plus, 51% of this group use Snapchat roughly 11 times each day.

While Snapchat definitely has a reputation for being used by teens, their market penetration is starting to hit young adults and older generations as well.

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So Snapchat is a viable marketing channel if your current target market falls anywhere between the ages of 12 and 34. But keep an eye on these trends as older generations may continue adapting to this platform.

In Q4 of 2017 Snapchat hit 187 million active daily users. The platform has seen more than an 18% growth rate in terms of daily users in the last year.

There is no sign of a slow down, and I expect these marketing trends to continue in the future.

So, what exactly does this mean for your business?

It’s great news. You now have another viable marketing channel to engage with your customers.

But this may be intimidating or confusing if you’ve never used Snapchat before and don’t know how to apply it to your business.

Fortunately, you’re in luck. I’ll show you the top 15 ways to use Snapchat for your business.

1. Post to your story often

Once you’ve created a Snapchat account, you need to make sure that it’s active. So the best way to approach this is by adding content to your story on a daily basis.

Anything you post on Snapchat will disappear after 24 hours. So posting content often will keep your brand fresh in the minds of your followers.

Just don’t go overboard. Posting 20 times in one day isn’t effective.

That’s because people will just skip through your posts. Depending on how many people a user follows on Snapchat, they’ll have lots of stories to view each day.

But that doesn’t mean that they are going to watch every single post in its entirety.

According to a study conducted by Snaplytics, engagement drops by 36% once users reach the fourth snap of a story. They also discovered that roughly 80% of your followers will see your post about 4 or 5 hours after it’s been added to your story.

What does this mean for you?

Based on these numbers, I’d recommend updating your Snapchat story about three times per day, every four or five hours.

This will help keep your engagement high and prevent your followers from skipping through your content.

2. Promote your Snapchat account on other marketing channels

In order for your Snapchat strategy to be successful, you’ve got to get followers first.

Rather than trying to come up with followers out of thin air, try to target users who are following your business account on other platforms.

Look at how People Magazine uses this strategy in their Instagram bio.

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This is really important for you, especially if you just created a Snapchat account for your company. Nobody is going to know that you have an account unless you tell them.

In addition to Instagram, you can promote it on your Facebook and Twitter accounts. You can even work this promotion into your YouTube videos as well.

Tell your email subscribers to follow you on Snapchat and pitch it on your website too.

The more channels that you promote it on, the greater chance you’ll have of getting more followers.

3. Create a sponsored lens

People love to use Snapchat filters and lenses.

It’s estimated that sponsored filters are seen by 16 million users each day. These filters are just a way for people to take creative photos.

Snapchat has plenty of them built directly into their platform. So instead of just taking a basic selfie, users can make the image black and white, apply a filter to make their eyes abnormally large or even make their nose disappear.

Some of these filters for video snaps can even change the pitch of your voice.

All of these were created to make users have more fun. They’ll send a snap to their friends with one of these filters because it’s entertaining and often humorous.

But now businesses can create a sponsored filter as well. Gatorade used this strategy during Super Bowl 50 and it turned into one of the most successful Snapchat campaigns on record.

If you’ve ever watched the Super Bowl, you know it’s tradition for the winning coach to get Gatorade dumped on his head by the players. So Gatorade created a sponsored filter during the game that would simulate Gatorade getting dumped on the user’s head.

The filter had more than 165 million views and increased their purchase intent by 8%.

Here’s another example from Taco Bell to show you what these filters look like.

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As you can see, the filters themselves are silly, but they definitely create brand awareness and help you create engagement.

The only problem with this strategy is that it’s expensive. If you want to create a filter during a holiday or special event, such as the Super Bowl, you’ve got to be ready to dish out between $100,000 and $750,000.

That cost will keep your filter active for 24 hours. But if you can afford it, the return on your investment can be huge.

The Taco Bell filter above was viewed 224 million times. The average user spent 24 seconds playing with the lens before sharing it with friends.

4. Let social influencers takeover your account

Another great way to get more followers and increase engagement is through social proof of concept.

Celebrities and other influencers already have a steady following on social media. Take advantage of that.

If you allow someone else to takeover your Snapchat account, you can expose your brand to a much wider audience. Some of these people may not even know that your company existed until they saw an influencer talking about it.

You may need to pay for an influencer to do this unless you have some kind of other mutual agreement or common interest in whatever you’re promoting.

Here’s a great example of what I’m talking about from iHeartRadio.

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They allowed singer Hailee Steinfeld to takeover their account. As a result, she promoted the takeover to her fans on social media.

Hailee has over 933k followers on Twitter and more than 8 million Instagram followers. This is great brand exposure for iHeartRadio, especially because she is directly related to their industry.

That’s important for you to keep in mind as well. You may find a professional basketball player with 10 million Instagram followers, but if sports aren’t related to your industry, their followers may not be relevant to your company.

5. Feature user-generated content

Ask your followers to send you pictures and videos of them interacting with your brand or using your products.

Then you can repost this content on your Snapchat story.

A great way to encourage user-generated content is by running contests and similar promotions.

GrubHub used this strategy on Snapchat a few years back. Their campaign was a huge success.

They ran a contest called “SnapHunt,” which lasted for a week. Every day they posted a new challenge. A winner was selected for each challenge and won a $50 gift card.

During this contest, GrubHub’s followers grew by 20%. Furthermore, 30% of their followers participated in this contest.

So it’s safe to say that engagement was high.

6. Offer discounts and promo codes

Not sure what to post on your story?

When in doubt, give your followers something that they can actually use. Send out discounts and other promotional offers via Snapchat.

This strategy will also help you drive sales and increase conversions. KIND used this strategy to offer their Snapchat followers 15% off of a purchase.

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When you’re posting on Snapchat, you’ve always got to keep the overall goal of your company in mind. Don’t get distracted with all of the other bells and whistles.

You want sales.

Offering discounts is a great way to accomplish this.

7. Takeover another account

Earlier we talked about letting someone else take over your Snapchat account. But another effective strategy is taking over another account yourself.

When someone else takes over your account, you’re relying on that person’s followers to add you on Snapchat to view your content.

But when you take over an account, the audience won’t have to do anything. It will be your job to convince them that they should be following your brand.

So make sure your content is engaging.

Even if they don’t add your Snapchat account, you’ll still be able to create brand awareness with a new audience.

8. Promote a new product

Keep your followers up to date with any exciting news from your brand. A new product launch is definitely worth mentioning.

Even if your product hasn’t launched yet, you can build hype and anticipation, so consumers are ready for it when your product finally gets released.

Here’s something to take into consideration. How often do people visit your website? I’m willing to bet that the average consumer isn’t checking your website on a daily basis for any updates.

But they are checking Snapchat every day.

Just because you’re promoting a new product launch on your website, it doesn’t mean that people will see it. That’s why you’ve got to take advantage of other marketing channels.

Here’s an example of a new product promotion via Snapchat from McDonald’s.

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Try to follow their lead the next time you want to tell your followers about a new product or service.

9. Provide exclusive access

It’s obviously unreasonable to let your social media followers to just walk right into your office and check things out.

But with Snapchat, you can give them that same exclusive feeling by providing them with behind-the-scenes content. Show your followers what it’s like in your office or production facility.

If you’re at an event, take snaps of some of the action backstage.

This type of content will keep your followers engaged because it makes them feel like they are getting VIP treatment.

10. Reply to your followers

The majority of your Snapchat strategy should be focused on uploading content to your story. However, that’s not the only way to engage with your audience.

Followers may reply to your story and send you direct one-on-one messages as well.

On other social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter, everyone can see if you’re responding to followers or not.

But on Snapchat, only you and the person sending the message know if you’re responding. So it’s easy for companies to just shrug these off and ignore them.

Even though everyone can’t see it, you should still make an effort to reply to your followers.

Getting a personal response from a brand will make the user feel special. Ignoring their message shows them that you don’t care about what they have to say.

68% of customers say the reason why they stop using a particular brand is if they don’t think that the company cares about them.

You can easily avoid this by simply responding to those private messages.

11. Post relevant content

Your snaps shouldn’t just be mindless images of your products. You can use this platform to show your audience that your brand is aware of various topics.

You could talk about charities or any type of social awareness that your business is involved with.

Here’s an example from Dove. They used their platform to discuss self-esteem issues.

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Their Snapchat story featured interviews with 30 women and various psychologists. They wanted to have an open discussion about self-esteem issues to help women enhance their own self-images.

As a result, the campaign had more than 130,000 views.

Just make sure that you tread carefully when you’re approaching something like this. It’s best for businesses to say away from issues involving race, religion, politics, and other controversial topics.

12. Promote an upcoming event

If your company is hosting or attending some kind of meeting or event, tell your audience about it.

Depending on what kind of event it is, you could even try to get your followers to come and show their support.

67% of people are more likely to purchase tickets to an event after watching a similar event on a live video stream.

While Snapchat technically isn’t live video, it’s pretty close. So you can figure that the percentage of people interested in the event will be similar.

13. Drive traffic to your website

Snapchat recently introduced a new feature that allows you to add links to your story. To do this, simply take a photo or video using their camera as you normally would.

Then click the paperclip icon before adding it to your story.

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Now you can add a link to your post. Users will have access to the link if they follow the prompt at the bottom of your story advising them to “swipe up.”

This is a great way to increase your website traffic.

14. Inform your followers about an important milestone

Keep your Snapchat audience informed about important dates for your company.

Is it your 10th anniversary? Is it your CEO’s birthday?

You can even talk about other milestones like getting your 10,000th follower on a certain social media platform.

All of these are great excuses to post on Snapchat. It’s a nice break from the same boring posts that get shared on a daily basis.

15. Mix it up

This piggybacks off of my last point. You don’t want your content to be boring.

Lots of the tips that we’ve discussed so far are definitely useful and should be applied to your Snapchat marketing strategy. But with that said, don’t just pick one or two and use the same ones every day.

You’ve got to keep things interesting.

If your followers aren’t entertained, then they’ll stop following you. Once that happens, it won’t be easy for you to market to those people again.

You can avoid this by keeping your content fresh.

Conclusion

Snapchat is growing in popularity. If your company doesn’t have a Snapchat account, you need to create one ASAP.

But once your account is active, you need to get followers and keep them engaged.

Overall, you want to make sure that your Snapchat marketing strategy makes your business better. In addition to creating brand awareness, you want to drive sales as well.

Whether Snapchat is new for you, or you’re just looking for a fresh insight to spice up your existing Snapchat marketing campaign, the tips that I’ve outlined above are a great place to start.

Use this guide as a reference for increasing engagement on Snapchat.

What tactics are you using to connect with your followers on Snapchat?

Source: http://ift.tt/UU7LJr



10 Under the Radar Tactics to Persuade Your Audience to Take Action

To be a successful marketer, you need to come up with ways to engage with your audience.

The goal of every marketing campaign should be to get people to complete a specific action. Some examples of these actions might be:

  • generating a sale
  • getting users to download something
  • adding new subscribers
  • creating social proof of concept
  • driving traffic to a specific landing page

You know what you want your audience to do, but things don’t always go as planned. Sometimes these people need a little extra convincing.

That’s totally OK. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t have high conversion rates right now or if you need a boost in sales.

There is always room for improvement. That’s what inspired me to create this guide.

I want to share with you how you can use persuasion tactics to convince your audience to do something. As a result, you’ll get higher conversions and ultimately increase your profits.

These are the top 10 tactics that can be used to persuade your audience.  

1. Be willing to accept criticism

While it may not initially seem like it, accepting criticism is a valid method of persuasion. You’re not always right. People know that.

If you’re carrying yourself as though every word you write and speak is never wrong, your audience may think you’re arrogant. As a result, they will be less likely to take action.

Instead, show your audience you’re reasonable and open-minded by accepting feedback and criticism.

Here’s an example from a blog post written by Ben Labay at ConversionXL:

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One of the readers wrote a comment that disagreed with some of the points made in the article. There’s nothing wrong with that.

Some people are afraid to enable comments on their blog posts because they fear criticism. I always welcome comments and respond to them even if I don’t always see eye-to-eye with the writer.

Make sure you digest the opposite side of every argument. You may even realize the other person has valid points.

Now you can spin that criticism and re-position your argument with a positive angle that entices the person to take a specific action.

Live video streaming is another great platform to utilize for this purpose. You can converse with your audience in real time through these channels and have a discussion.

After watching a branded video, 64% of consumers are likely to make a purchase.

Furthermore, 46% of users complete an action after viewing a video advertisement.

Use this information in your marketing campaign. Next time you’re writing a post or streaming a live video, be more receptive to opposing opinions, and leverage that position to persuade your audience.

2. Find ways to get your audience to agree with you

On the other hand, it’s always better if your audience agrees with you. It just involves less work on your end.

But if you’re starting from a clean slate, the first thing you need to do is get people to start nodding their heads.

Make obvious claims or statements they’ll agree with.

Here’s a great example from an article written by Ian Blair at BuildFire:

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Ian’s persuasion is set up perfectly in the first few lines. These opening statements get the reader nodding their head right off the bat.

  • mobile apps are growing in popularity

  • the development process needs to be optimized

  • it takes a long time and lots of effort to launch an app

Anyone reading the above statements would agree with all of them. Now that the reader is in agreement, Ian offers a solution in the third line.

And the audience is hooked. They’ll continue reading and follow the advice to take specific actions.

This tactic isn’t limited to blogging. You can do this when you’re speaking to someone in person as well.

For example, a car salesman may set up a pitch for a certain vehicle by discussing the rising cost of gas. In the very next breath, they’ll show the consumer a hybrid vehicle with great gas mileage.

It’s a simple technique, but it’s extremely underrated. Try to implement this into your marketing strategy.

3. Show them actual evidence

Telling people something isn’t always enough to convince them. This is especially true if they don’t know you personally.

While your closest friends and family members know you wouldn’t lie to them, consumers may be skeptical.

So you’ll need to show evidence to back up your claims.

For example, you could tell your audience people like to use Facebook to get their news. But does that really mean anything if you don’t have any proof?

It’s much more effective to say,

According to a study conducted by the Pew Research Center, 67% of adults in the United States use social media platforms to get news.

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Show graphs or other data sources as a visual reference for your claims as well. If you’ve been following my blogs for a while, you know I use this technique all the time.

Visual evidence can have a remarkable impact on someone’s ability to retain information.

When information is communicated orally, the listener is only likely to remember 10% of what they heard three days later. But if images are paired with that data, 65% of the information is retained three days later.

You want your audience to take a specific action, but they may not do it right away. Give them some time.

Visual evidence will keep your persuasive voice in their minds even days after they consumed your content.

4. Limit their choices

If you’re trying to get people to buy a product or make a selection, limit their choices.

Marketers make this mistake all the time. They think offering hundreds of choices will appeal to a wider audience, leading to more sales.

The reality is, it has the opposite effect.

One of the best examples of this concept is referred to as the “Jam Study.” Here’s what researchers discovered.

A grocery store had a display table with 24 different types of jam. The table attracted 60% of people shopping in the store.

On average, each shopper sampled 2 flavors of jam, but only 3% of shoppers actually made a purchase.

On a different day in that same grocery store, a smaller display table offered 6 different jams. This time, 40% of shoppers were attracted to this display.

While people still sampled an average only 2 flavors, 30% of shoppers purchased jam.

When consumers had fewer choices, they were 10 times more likely to buy something. It’s known as the paradox of choice.

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People are indecisive. Giving them too many options will overwhelm them. They can’t make a decision, so they end up getting nothing.

Consumers are also more likely to feel buyer’s remorse if you offer too many options.

They will constantly second-guess their choices and may end up having a negative perception of your brand. Obviously, you don’t want this to happen.

If you’re trying to persuade someone to choose something, narrow down their options, and you’ll have higher conversion rates.

5. Know what your audience wants

It’s important to make sure you know your audience so that you can properly persuade them to do something.

You should know what platforms they are using and how to distribute content to the right audience. For example, research shows that men are more responsive to email, but women respond better to face-to-face interactions.

Find ways to captivate your audience and get their attention. This will make it easier for you to get them to do something.

Let’s say you have a broad target audience of men. What gets their attention? If ads for men’s products include photos and videos of attractive women, it definitely grabs their attention.

6. Focus on repetition

Just because your marketing campaign didn’t work the first time doesn’t mean you should completely trash it. Sometimes it takes a couple of attempts to persuade your audience.

Here’s an interesting psychological concept that shows the importance and relevance of repetition.

Studies show that in a group setting, if one person in the group repeats an opinion, others are more likely to see it as a representation of the entire group.

Still don’t think repetition is important? Let’s see what you think of the following phrases:

  • Just do it
  • I’m lovin’ it
  • 15 minutes could save you 15% or more on car insurance

As you know, those aren’t just random words. Those are recognizable company slogans. I don’t even have to say the names of those companies.

You knew exactly what I was referring to because these slogans have been repeated enough times to become familiar.

Are you experiencing shopping cart abandonment on your ecommerce website? Use the concept of repetition to remind the consumer about your products.

Here’s an email that Office Max sent out after items were left in a shopper’s cart:

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This reminder improves your chances of persuading the recipient to finalize the purchase.

7. Be clear rather than ambiguous

Get right to the point.

Don’t speak in tongues or in terms unclear to your audience. It’s shady and can make you appear untrustworthy.

If you’re constantly talking in circles, you will confuse people and could make them think you’re trying to trick them or fool them. Don’t be deceptive.

Ambiguous sales techniques are not effective. All it’s going to do is raise the guard of your audience, and they won’t want to follow your advice.

8. Learn how to tell a great story

Rather than just telling someone to take a specific action, you can entice them to do that by telling a captivating story.

The story could even be about a personal experience.

92% of consumers say they want advertisements from brands to feel like a story.

Your stories should trigger an emotional response from your audience. Make sure you’re telling a story they can relate to.

Stories can be shared through multiple distribution channels, such as blogs, social media platforms, or your YouTube channel.

You can even tell stories if you’re speaking to a crowd to keep them engaged.

It’s an effective sales technique. Take a look at this example from the Nutrisystem website:

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They display success stories of people who have lost weight using their products. After hearing these stories, their audience is more likely to be persuaded to try the product.

This also relates back to a tactic we discussed earlier about showing evidence.

Saying your products can make someone lose weight is much different than showing them actual people who were able to lose weight.

9. Control your body language

Body language says a lot about a person. Look around the next time you’re out in public. It’s easy to tell what kind of mood someone is in just by looking at them.

Something as simple as smiling or laughing can show that someone is happy. But slouching and staring at the ground are both typical signs of being upset.

This may not be applicable if you’re blogging, but you need to be aware of this whenever your audience can see you.

If you’re trying to persuade someone to do something, you should mirror their body language. Psychologically, this strategy helps you establish a rapport with your audience.

For example, let’s say you’re trying to make a sale.

If the consumer scratches their nose, you should do the same. When they cross their legs, you should cross yours. When they lean forward, you need to lean forward as well.

Get it?

Just don’t be obvious. Remember, you’re mirroring them, not mimicking them. These subtle actions can make the consumer trust you more, allowing you to convince them to do something.

Another body language trick is known as The Sullivan Nod.

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Whenever you’re making a point or creating a sales pitch, you should subtlety nod three times when you’re talking about whatever you’re persuading your audience to do.

So for example, let’s say you’re doing a video review of a few products. When you get to the review of the product you’re trying to sell, nod your head when you’re talking about it.

Studies show this technique can have a 60% success rate.

10. Speak confidently

Confidence goes a long way. If you sound unsure, your audience will pick up on this right away.

How can they believe you if you don’t even believe what you’re saying?

So relax and speak as if you’re an expert. Speak with authority.

You should also speak fast. I’m not saying you should mumble or speak so fast that you can’t be heard. But speaking at a faster pace makes it more difficult for your audience to pinpoint any flaws in your argument.

If they don’t have anything to disagree with, they’re more likely to be persuaded.

Conclusion

Being persuasive is a great skill to have as a marketer, but it’s also something you can use in your everyday life.

The techniques I’ve outlined above can help you in every scenario imaginable.

You’ll be able to persuade people through your blog, website, and social media platforms. You can even use these tactics to persuade someone in a face-to-face conversation.

Some of these tips can be applied to a setting where you are a guest speaker in front of a large audience as well.

Keep these under the radar tactics in mind the next time you’re trying to persuade your audience to take action. You’ll be able to do this with success.

What persuasion tactics are you using to convince your customers to do what you want?

Source: http://ift.tt/UU7LJr



How to Create an Engaging Facebook Cover Photo

By now I’m sure you know how important it is to have an active presence on social media.

You’ve been posting more often and trying to engage with your followers. This is great, but you need to make sure you’re not overlooking the small stuff.

Often, I see business pages with cover photos that look like they were created without much thought.

This is a huge mistake.

Your cover photo is the first thing your audience sees when they view your Facebook page. First impressions can make or break the public perception of your page, which is why you need to put some time and effort into your cover photo.

Incorporating the right visual elements into your marketing strategy is important. You need to look at your Facebook page as a marketing channel.

Marketers recognize the importance of this. That’s why 74% of marketing experts use images and other visuals to enhance their social media marketing strategies.

Furthermore, 37% of marketers named visual content as the most important marketing channel for their businesses.

Creating more engaging content and coming up with visual content is a top priority for B2B marketers:

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If you’re trying to improve your visual content, your Facebook cover photo is the most logical place to start.

That’s because Facebook has over 2 billion active monthly users. This user base is growing at roughly 17% every year.

No matter what industry you’re in or what your company does, it’s safe to say your target market is active on Facebook. Now, it’s time for you to reach them.

I’ll show you exactly what you need to do to create a Facebook cover photo that engages with your followers.

Know your audience

The first thing you need to do is understand who is following you on Facebook. You may think you already have some idea because you’re assuming your Facebook audience is the same as your existing customer base.

However, this isn’t always the case, and you need to find out for sure.

How do you go about this? Facebook has awesome analytics tools built right into their platform. If you’ve never used them before, here’s how you can find out who is following your page.

Step #1: Navigate to the “Insights” tab on your homepage

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If you’re used to regular Facebook profile homepages, you’re probably not familiar with this tool. Business pages and fan pages have more options than personal profile pages have.

You’ll notice a row of tabs at the top of your screen. Select Insights to continue.

Step #2: Select the “People” option toward the bottom left corner of the Insights menu

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Your Insight menu has lots of options. You can check out various actions on the page and manage videos, events, page views, and more.

One of those choices is the “People” menu. Select that to get one step closer to seeing your audience.

Step #3: Click on the “Your Fans” tab

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Now you’ve got complete access to everyone who likes your page. You can view the numbers for these demographics based on categories like:

  • gender
  • location
  • primary language

You can use this information to come up with a cover photo that speaks to your primary audience.

For example, let’s say you discover that 85% of your fans are female, 80% of your followers speak Italian, and 75% of your fans are between the ages of 45 and 55.

If that’s the case, you should probably create a cover photo that speaks to a middle-aged Italian woman. Simple, right?

This information can definitely guide you in the right direction, but make sure you take it with a grain of salt. The data probably won’t be 100% accurate.

People lie on Facebook. In fact, research shows that more than 75% of people have lied in their social media profiles.

That said, this shouldn’t drastically skew your results. It’s still a good indication of your primary audience.

Simplicity is effective

I’ve explained in the past why websites with simple designs have higher conversion rates. The same concept can be applied to your Facebook page.

Don’t overwhelm your followers. Your image should be clear and simple. If you try to fit 20 different elements into one picture, your message will be lost.

Instead, try to come up with a clear point of focus. Your audience’s eyes should be drawn to just one element so they don’t get overwhelmed.

Here’s a great example from the Acura Facebook page:

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Acura has an entire fleet of vehicles. They sell a variety of sedans, sports cars, luxury vehicles, and SUVs. But notice that their cover photo is very simple.

Instead of bombarding their followers with 20 different cars in one image, they selected one. It speaks volumes and makes the audience think.

What is so special about this car? If you click on the photo, you’ll learn that it’s a new prototype of the Acura RDX.

Users would be less likely to click to find out more if there were many cars in the picture.

This is also related to the paradox of choice phenomenon. The more choices you give someone, the lower your conversion rates will be.

That’s why simplicity converts.

Let’s take a look at another well-known brand to see how they approach their cover photo.

Adidas is recognized across the globe. They sell clothing, shoes, and sporting equipment. Their customer base is men and women of all ages, who participate in a wide range of sports.

How can they come up with a simple cover photo that encompasses all these elements?

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They don’t even try, which is a smart approach. If they tried to include every sport in one picture, it wouldn’t be very effective.

In this instance, they decided to pitch their soccer cleats. It could be related to part of their overall marketing campaign.

Or maybe they used analytics to determine that the majority of their fans live in areas where soccer is the most popular sport. It might even be a combination of multiple factors.

Regardless of their reason, Adidas made the smart decision to keep things simple.

If their marketing goals change, I’m sure their cover photo will be adjusted accordingly. But I’ll discuss this idea in greater detail shortly.

Make sure you follow Facebook’s guidelines

Regardless of how you decide to approach your Facebook cover photo, it needs to follow the Facebook Cover Photo Guidelines.

Facebook is pretty strict when it comes to their rules and regulations. It’s imperative your photo abides by these guidelines, or you’ll have problems.

The last thing you want to happen is to have your account suspended for a breach of their rules. That will crush your social media marketing campaign and defeat the purpose of what you’re trying to accomplish here.

I’ll quickly summarize what you need to know.

Your image should be unique and relevant to your page. For example, if you’ve got a restaurant, an appropriate image would be something on your menu.

Cover photos must be properly sized. Here are those dimensions:

  • at least 400 pixels wide by 150 pixels tall
  • 640 pixels wide by 360 pixels tall for smartphones
  • 820 pixels wide by 312 pixels tall for computer screens

Your cover photo will load as fast as possible if it’s an SRBG JPG file that’s less than 100 kilobytes, 851 pixels wide and 315 pixels tall.

If you need help resizing your photo to meet these standards, you can use photo-editing software such as PicMonkey:

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Facebook’s rules also state that your photo can’t mislead or deceive your audience. The image also can’t infringe on someone else’s copyright.

Your photo can’t encourage or promote users to tag themselves or their friends either. It’s prohibited to tell your followers to upload your cover photo to their timelines.

Make sure you review all the Facebook Page Terms to ensure you’re not in violation of any policies.

Change it up

Don’t be boring.

Just because you came up with an awesome cover photo that fits everything I’ve talked about so far doesn’t mean you should use it for the rest of eternity.

Changing your cover photo will help keep your audience engaged. Think back to some of the examples we looked at earlier.

Acura isn’t going to promote that one car forever. Adidas won’t be promoting soccer cleats all year either.

Your photo should change based on the goals of your company and overall marketing campaign.

Try to include highly relevant images based on the season or current events. For example, you could have a red, white, and blue themed cover photo around the 4th of July.  Or maybe use an image with a pumpkin and witch close to Halloween.

Check out this example from Bose. They do a great job of accomplishing exactly what I’m referring to:

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With NFL season coming to a close, Bose changed their Facebook cover photo so that it’s related to the Super Bowl. This image is perfect for this time of year, but it wouldn’t be as effective in May or June.

If you don’t update your cover photo regularly, your followers may think you’re not monitoring your page.

Your cover photo should represent the overall image of your company

What’s the goal or mission of your company? Your cover photo should tell that story.

If your company works with charitable organizations or helps people in need, use an image reflecting that.

Again, first impressions matter. The first thing people see on your Facebook page should tell them what you stand for.

Your cover photo should also try to entice people to follow your page:

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Try to create brand awareness through your cover photo. If your followers like and comment on it, the image will appear on the timelines of their friends as well.

This increases the exposure of your company and improves your chances of getting more followers.

Conclusion

Your social media marketing campaign isn’t complete without an effective and engaging Facebook cover photo.

Don’t rush. Take your time and come up with something unique.

Your cover photo needs to speak directly to your audience. Use the insights feature on Facebook to find out who follows your page. Tailor your image toward those people.

Keep it simple. Your company does a lot, but your photo doesn’t need to encompass it all. Pick one theme and go with it. You can always change it later.

Make sure your photo follows Facebook’s guidelines. Otherwise, your account could get suspended.

Whatever you decide to do, keep in mind your cover photo should reflect the overall image of your company.

Follow these tips, and you’ll get more engagement with your audience on Facebook.

What kind of Facebook cover photo do you use?

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11 Ways to Increase Conversions for Your Ecommerce Store

Ecommerce platforms rely on sales to survive. If you operate one of these websites, you know how important sales are for your business.

Whether you sell products exclusively online or have an ecommerce site in addition to your brick and mortar store, you need high conversion rates to be successful.

What do you do when your sales plateau and your conversions drop?

You need to analyze your website. What you’ve been doing in the past may have worked, but it’s imperative for you to constantly optimize and improve your ecommerce store.

After reviewing your site, you might realize certain elements are killing your conversions.

Fortunately, you’re in luck. If you want to improve your conversion rates and generate more sales, all you need to do is make some changes.

Through research and my personal experience consulting businesses, I’ve identified and outlined the top ways to increase ecommerce conversions.

Here’s what you need to do.

1. Simplify your website

Websites with simple designs have higher conversion rates.

Depending on your company, you might have hundreds or even thousands of products for sale on your website. But trying to cram all of those products onto one page is ineffective, and it’s crushing your conversions.

Clutter overwhelms the customers. Instead, focus on your top selling products or items with the highest profit margins.

Let’s look at a globally recognized brand as an example. Here’s Apple’s homepage:

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When in doubt, it’s always a great idea to look at successful companies as examples. Apple is an industry leader, and their website is about as simple as it gets.

Think about the number of different products they offer. They have all kinds of different desktop computers, laptops, phones, and other electric accessories, not to mention the digital products like software and music.

If they tried to fit everything they sell on their homepage, it would be an absolute mess.

Instead, they promote one product and have a navigation bar at the top of the screen that lists different categories.

This makes it really easy for shoppers to find exactly what they’re looking for.

In the fourth quarter of 2017, Apple reported $52.6 billion in revenue— a 12% increase compared to the fourth quarter of 2016. It’s safe to say they don’t have a problem with conversion rates.

2. Use high quality images

One of the most difficult parts of online shopping is the lack of direct access to the products shoppers consider buying. They rely on photos to get an accurate idea of their options.

It’s up to you to make sure you have lots of high quality pictures for every product.

You should have a photograph from every angle. Zoom in on features. Have pictures of models using or wearing what you’re selling.

This will make it much easier for shoppers to make a decision.

Here’s a great example of what I’m talking about from the Nike website:

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They’ve got six different pictures of just one white hoodie. If you click on the other colors for this product, you’ll see even more photos.

I realize this takes time. It’s not necessarily the easiest process to take half a dozen photos of everything you’re selling.

But in the long run, it’s well worth it. Now shoppers know exactly what this product looks like from every angle. They’re more likely to buy it if it fits their needs.

3. Include a detailed product description

In addition to photos, you’ll want to thoroughly describe what you’re selling. With items like clothing, it’s usually self-explanatory.

However, if you’re selling electronics or something that has a bit of a learning curve, an accurate and detailed product description could help you close the sale.

Think of it like this. If a customer were to walk into a physical store, there would be employees to answer questions and help explain how different products work.

Shoppers don’t have that luxury when they browse online. It’s your job to make sure they aren’t confused about a product.

Even if you’re selling something simple, such as a t-shirt, point out how it differs from others. Does it keep you cool when it’s hot? Does it keep you warm when it’s cold?

These are things that can’t be determined from a photo alone.

Check out how Amazon accomplishes this with one of their TV wall mounts:

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Just like companies in our previous two examples, Amazon is another industry leader across the globe. They know how to sell products online.

While the photos are helpful, the description really helps the consumers.

It explains which kinds of TVs this mount is compatible with as far as size and weight are concerned. The description also covers the various mounting patterns based on what kind of TV you have.

Without the description, you wouldn’t know how far off the wall the mount comes or how close to the wall you can push it.

Not everyone is an expert in mounting televisions. The majority of people probably never have to do this. And unless you install home theater equipment for a living, it’s probably not something you’ll do more than a few times in your life.

For a unique and somewhat niche product like this, accurate descriptions can really help drive the sale.

4. Show video demonstrations

This element takes our last point a step further. Instead of telling the consumer what your product does and how it works, show them.

If you haven’t been using video content to increase sales, you need to start right away.

Why?

Well, for starters, 64% of people are more likely to complete an online purchase after watching a video about a product. Furthermore, 90% of consumers say that videos help them make a buying decision.

Consumers want videos, so give them what they want. Thule recognizes this. That’s why they include videos with all their products on their website.

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The video is super helpful. It gives the consumer way more information than they could get from just a photo and a description.

In this example, the customers learn how to properly fold and assemble the stroller for transportation and easy storage. The video also shows how to safely secure a child in the seat.

It’s an effective way to give your website visitors a more accurate description of the product. They can see it being used instead of just reading about it and looking at pictures.

5. Offer easily accessible customer service

As I briefly mentioned earlier, there’s nobody there to assist the consumer when they’re shopping online, unlike in a physical store.

Do your best to replicate that customer service experience. You may have photos, videos, and a great description, but customers will still have questions.

Make sure you give them several options to reach a customer service representative:

  • phone
  • live chat
  • email

Offer as many options as possible so each customer can contact your company based on their personal preference.

You also need to have support ready at all hours. As an ecommerce platform, I know you’re aware that customers all over the world have access to your website 24 hours a day.

Let’s play out a scenario. A customer is interested in one of your products but has a few simple questions. They try to contact customer support but don’t get an answer.

They won’t complete the purchase process. But if their questions get answered right away, your conversion rates will improve.

6. Don’t surprise your customers with extra fees

Consumers are sensitive to price. You have to be upfront and totally transparent with the prices on your website.

The customer expects to see the same price for the same product on all pages, including in their shopping cart.

Adding hidden charges, taxes, and shipping fees will crush your conversions.

Look at the top reasons for shopping cart abandonment:

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Extra costs are the number one reason why consumers abandon their shopping carts.

Look, I realize you’ve got to pay sales tax and shipping isn’t free. But rather than surprising the customer when they check out, include those costs in the original price.

You’ll still get paid enough to make a profit, and the customer won’t be surprised with extra fees. It’s a win-win scenario for everyone.

Plus, it will reduce cart abandonment and improve your conversion rates.

7. Send shopping cart abandonment emails

Let’s continue with our last point. While you can certainly do things to improve your shopping cart abandonment rates, some customers still won’t always complete their purchases.

You can’t ignore this.

Someone was just a click or two away from buying something on your website. They identified what they wanted and added it to their cart.

It’s going to be much easier to try to get this customer to convert than to find a new customer.

This person is already familiar with your brand and obviously interested in at least one of your products. Sometimes they just need a bit of extra motivation to complete the sale.

Send out a shopping cart abandonment email to remind the consumer of your products. Here’s an example from Oakley:

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This product will still be fresh in the customer’s mind—they just left it in their shopping cart. They wanted it, but for one reason or another, it just didn’t happen.

Receiving this email could be enough to trigger an impulse buy.

8. Include all your contact information

On top of providing customer service, you should have as much information as possible about your company available on your website.

Clearly display your:

  • address
  • phone numbers
  • fax
  • email

If this information isn’t on your site, it could appear sketchy. Customers may think you’re not a reputable company.

What if they have a problem with their order? If your contact information isn’t available, how will they get their issue resolved?

That uncertainty could prevent people from buying things on your website.

9. Run promotions

As I said earlier when talking about extra fees and costs, consumers are price-sensitive. It’s important to be aware of this.

One way to get people to convert more on your ecommerce site is by running promotions. Offer sales, discounts, or other special offers that sound enticing.

It just needs to be worth it. For example, if you’re offering a 5% discount on orders over $200, it’s not going to make anybody rush to make a purchase.

But on the other hand, if you’re offering 25% off everything on your website, it will boost your conversions.

Just make sure you have all your numbers worked out. You don’t want to slash prices so low that you’re not turning a profit with each sale.

The best way to go about this is by jacking up your prices initially, then constantly running sales.

Check out all of these different promotions on the Macy’s website:

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They have some discounts as high as 50% off. This is a great way to drive sales.

Just make sure you’re careful with this strategy. Once you start offering discounts and promotions, customers may be less likely to buy things at full price. They’ll just wait until the next time you run a sale.

If you’re going to incorporate discounts, markdowns, and other promotional offers into your ecommerce marketing campaign, be prepared to do it often.

10. Accept as many payment options as possible

I realize some credit card companies charge you higher fees than others. But that’s no reason to exclude those payment options from your website.

You can’t assume every customer visiting your website has a Visa card. You need to accept all major credit cards, including Mastercard, Discover, and American Express.

Even if they have a card you accept, it doesn’t mean they want to use it. They might have better benefits or a lower balance on a different card.

You should also take alternative forms of payment, such as PayPal, Venmo, or Apple Pay.

Offering more options increases the chances of the customer being able to pay with their preferred card or method.

It’s also important that the checkout process is completely secure. That way your customers feel safe about entering their credit card information.

11. Recommend products to enhance the shopping experience

If your site is using cookies to track browsing behavior, you can recommend products to your customers based on what they like. Use their previous order history as well to personalize recommendations.

This shows the consumer you care. Their browsing experience is different from everyone else’s.

Here’s an example from Bed Bath & Beyond:

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You can also try to upsell to your customers when they add something to their shopping carts. For example, if they buy a pair of headphones, you can recommend a carrying case for them.

Again, it reflects their personal experience. This strategy works.

Research shows that 49% of consumers said they bought something they weren’t initially planning on purchasing after seeing a personalized recommendation.

Conclusion

Whether your business is brand new or has been around for a while, there is always room for improvement.

You can make simple modifications to your ecommerce website to get more conversions.

These 11 tips are the best place for you to start. Refer back to the examples and the data I showed you for guidance.

I’m not saying you need to implement all of these strategies overnight. In fact, you may even have a couple of these in place already.

But over time, you need to optimize your ecommerce website if you want to get as many sales as possible.

Follow these tips, and I’m sure you’ll see an improvement.

What elements of your ecommerce website have you changed to increase your conversion rates?

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The Top 15 Apps to Edit Your Instagram Photos and Videos Like a Pro

By now I’m sure you realize how important Instagram is for your business.

Every day your audience gets bombarded with many different pictures and videos showing up on their timelines. That’s why I’ve told you in the past that you need to write captions that drive engagement.

But nobody will read your captions if the image doesn’t capture their attention. They’ll just keep mindlessly scrolling past your post.

I’ve seen some companies hire experts in photography to help them put out better Instagram posts.

While I can applaud the effort, I also think it’s a complete waste of money. You can take your own photos without hiring a professional.

Now you can use that extra cash and apply it to other aspects of your business to focus on the newest marketing trends.

Instagram has tools allowing you to edit your photos and videos directly on their platform. Those might be okay for the average person, but your business should avoid them.

Why?

It’s all about standing out from the crowd.

All of the 800 million monthly active Instagram users have access to those editing tools. If you’re using them too, your posts will look like everyone else’s.

There are other apps available that can help make your photos stand out. But there are thousands of them out there, so it’s tough to figure out which ones are most useful.

That’s why I’ve taken the time to share with you the best 15 apps for photo and video editing. These will help you take your Instagram posts to the next level.

I’ll go through all of my favorites and show you some of the key features of each one.

1. Afterlight 2

If you’re looking for unique filters, Afterlight 2 has a huge collection of old school and vintage ones available. These are definitely an upgrade from filters that come standard with Instagram.

They also have some really cool effects and designs that allow you to add text and other typography to your images:

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You can even put part of your text behind elements within your photo. This feature is perfect for businesses.

Now you can capture the attention of your followers by layering a catchy headline directly over your image as opposed to just writing a caption. This is a great opportunity for you to do something like:

  • advertise a sale
  • promote a new product
  • build hype for an event
  • run a contest
  • get more followers
  • draw attention to a link in your bio

You can download Afterlight 2 for $2.99, and that’s all you’ll ever pay for this app. They don’t have any other in-app upgrades or additional charges to access their best features.

2. Snapseed

Snapseed takes your editing effects to a whole new level. You can apply effects and filters to specific areas of your image with high precision:

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They’ve got a really cool editing feature called a perspective tool. This helps you automatically adjust or correct any skewed lines in your images.

Let’s face it, a picture taken by hand won’t be 100% perfect. You might think your horizon is level or buildings are lined up properly, but that’s rarely the case.

That’s when the perspective tool can make your photos look professional.

What’s the best part about Snapseed? It’s free. It’s definitely worth checking out since there’s no risk involved.

3. Aviary Photo Editor

Aviary Photo Editor is an Adobe product. If you’ve used Adobe software and were happy with the experience, you should give this Photo Editor a try:

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The editing tools on Aviary allow you to saturate colors within your photos as well as soften or sharpen areas for an effect.

Aviary also has a large collection of frames, stickers, and other overlays to embellish your images. You can even hand-draw captions across the pictures.

I like to use Aviary because of the features allowing me to fine-tune my images. With just a couple of clicks, you can eliminate blemishes or brighten shadows to make your images more lively.

Aviary saves your images to the cloud. If you have an Adobe ID, you can access your images from anywhere and edit them from any device.

This feature comes in handy if you’re taking and editing images as a team. Everything can be stored in one place.

4. Vintagio

For those of you who want to add a vintage feel to your videos, Vintagio has what you need, as the name suggests.

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If you’ve got a fashion company or ecommerce store that sells clothing, this app can be useful for promoting products from bygone eras.

If you want your video to appear to be from a certain time period, their video filters can match the style of that time. That way, it’s clear to your audience that the setting of your video is not supposed to be the present day.

You can also trim and piece together different video clips with this app.

And you can change the video quality of your clips if you want to create something that looks like it’s from the 1950s.

Vintagio has great soundtracks from different eras as well. You can adjust the speed and timing and add other effects to your clips too.

Combining all these elements together will help you make a unique Instagram video.

5. Average Camera Pro

The name says it all. Average Camera Pro was created to help regular people edit photos like professionals.

Unlike other apps that just edit photos, Average Camera Pro has a built-in camera function. You can use it to take multiple pictures at the same time or set a timer for the photos.

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You’d find these tools on high-quality and expensive cameras. But you can have them on your phone for just $0.99.

This camera function works best if you want to take pictures in low-light settings. Since you’re increasing the exposure time, you’ll get brighter pictures that would normally appear dark on a regular phone camera.

Sometimes when you try to brighten a really dark photo, the editing looks obvious in your final image.

But you won’t have to worry about that if you take the pictures with Average Camera Pro.

6. TiltShift

TiltShift is great for bringing focus to a specific area of an outdoor scene. So if you’ve got a business with a physical storefront, you can use this app to bring your location to life.

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The effect makes your image appear as if it’s a miniature. Instagram has a tilt-shift feature built into their editing tools, but this one is far more advanced.

If you take lots of landscapes or other outdoor photos, this app is worth getting for just $1.99.

7. Superimpose

Do you want to change the background of a picture you took? Instagram doesn’t have any tools for that, so you’ll need to get the Superimpose app.

Superimpose lets you remove the background from an image.

Then, you can combine it with another picture. This is awesome from an advertising perspective.

Want to take an exotic beach photo without leaving your office?

No problem.

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Check out these creative images above. Superimpose allows you to blend images together or even change an image into something unrealistic, such as a fish with the head of a chicken.

Using Superimpose  as part of your arsenal of photo editing tools will make your brand stand out on Instagram. You can create images that are fun, exciting, and imaginative.

Plus, their software creates a smooth final product that’s believable. Your pictures won’t have that unprofessional crop and paste feel to them.

It’s only $1.99 to download. In no time at all, you’ll be uploading new photos to Instagram that will get your followers talking.

8. 8mm Vintage Camera

The 8mm Vintage Camera is great for shooting and editing longer videos. Now that Instagram lets you upload videos that are up to a minute long, this app is perfect for you.

You can get really cool video effects such as:

  • light leaks
  • scratches
  • flames flickering
  • dust

All of these can make your videos feel more authentic.

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8mm Vintage Camera was even used in the filming of an Oscar-nominated movie.

If a professional director can use this app to get on the red carpet, you can certainly use it to edit your Instagram videos. It’s available for download for just $1.99 with some additional premium themes available as in-app purchases.

9. CrossProcess

If you love adding filters to your photos but are sick and tired of using the same ones, it’s time for an upgrade. CrossProcess has over 70 filters.

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I’ve seen many businesses on Instagram using the same one or two filters over and over again.

It’s boring.

Your followers will realize pretty quickly you’re not being very original. Once this happens, they may start ignoring your posts. Or even worse, they could unfollow you.

If they aren’t following you, you won’t be able to keep them informed of other promotional information that drives engagement and gets conversions.

You can prevent this from happening by simply spicing up your photos with new filters available from CrossProcess.

10. PicFrame

Instagram allows you to upload multiple photos to one post. The only problem is you have to rely on your followers to scroll through each one.

This is not always the case.

If you want to combine multiple photos into one image, you can do it by creating a collage with PicFrame:

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One of the coolest parts of this app is you can apply different filters and effects to each image within your collage as opposed to having one tone across the entire picture. That way, they can all be unique and stand out from each other.

You can also adjust the color and design patterns of your frames with this app.

If you really want to enhance your collage, PicFrame has lots of bonus features like stickers, shapes, text, and even music.

I think it’s worth the $2.99 price tag.

11. Facetune 2

If the majority of your Instagram photos contain people as opposed to just products or landscapes, you need to consider Facetune 2.

Nobody is perfect. Sometimes, we get blemishes, breakouts, or acne. After a long night of tossing and turning, everyone gets bags under their eyes.

But these imperfections shouldn’t discourage you from posing for a photo.

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This app can make photos of people more flattering. Sometimes, all it takes is a slight adjustment to the lighting.

Facetune 2 also has specific filters designed for selfies. Sometimes the front-facing camera on our phones doesn’t take the best pictures, so just apply one of the filters to make up for it.

With a few easy steps, you can easily:

  • whiten teeth
  • change eye color
  • remove wrinkles
  • eliminate shine on oily skin
  • make dull skin appear vibrant

The Facetune 2 app is completely free, so there’s no reason why you shouldn’t at least try it.

12. Tiny Planet Photos and Video

Tiny Planet lets you take images and videos with a fisheye lens effect.

This effect creates the appearance of a “tiny planet”—hence, the name.

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Have you checked Instagram today? How many photos have you seen so far that look like this?

I’m willing to bet you haven’t seen any. I know I haven’t.

Get this app if you want to create images that are fun. The circular and warped photos this app creates can also be used as background images on phones, computers, or other devices.

You can suggest that to your followers.

13. Quick

Quick has really cool fonts that you can add to your photos.

They simplified the photo editing process with this app. Quick advertises that it’s designed to be used with “just a thumb.” So you won’t need to get on your computer or do anything too fancy to get great photos.

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You can send your edited image straight to Instagram or other social media platforms directly from the app.

As you can see from the example above, their text overlay features are great for captioning a photo or listing a price for something on your ecommerce store.

14. DXP FREE

The whole purpose of the DXP FREE app is to create multiple exposures on one image.

As a result, your pictures will stand out. Check out these examples:

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Instagram doesn’t offer such tools.

This app does require a little bit of patience and precision. You’ll need to understand the concepts of blending, or you might get a bit frustrated when you’re trying to edit.

But like with anything else, the more you use it, the easier it’ll get. Just as the name says, it’s free to download.

15. Tangent

Tangent lets you add patterns, textures, and geometric shapes to your images.

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It’s another way to let your creative juices flow.

It also has some features that allow you to add framing overlays to your photos.

Tangent gives you an opportunity to express yourself. If your company has an audience that recognizes art and creativity, you’ll definitely want to use Tangent to impress your Instagram followers.

Conclusion

To captivate your Instagram followers, you’ll need to make sure your photos and videos are edited properly. That doesn’t mean you have to hire a professional editor.

There are plenty of apps available that are really easy for anyone to use. Lots of these are free of charge or only cost a couple of dollars, so they are worth a try.

Everyone with an Instagram account has access to the same filters and editing tools.

Editing your photos with another app can separate your pictures from the crowd. If you’re not sure where to find the best apps, refer to this list as a guideline.

All of these apps are unique and offer different features depending on what you’re looking for, such as collages, text overlays, face touch-ups, or vintage themes.

What types of camera effects do you like to use when you’re editing photos and videos on Instagram?

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How to Get More Converisons by Optimizing Your Checkout Process

Do your conversion rates need a boost?

Nobody has a conversion rate that’s 100%. I think it’s safe to say that no matter how successful your company is, your conversions can always be improved.

Recognizing this is half the battle, but you’ll need to actually implement some changes if you want to see an increase. Just hoping for more conversions isn’t going to cut it.

Here’s another mistake I see businesses make. They confuse a conversion problem with a traffic problem.

Sure, driving more traffic to your website is great. I encourage you to do this. You may get more sales, but it won’t necessarily change your conversion rate.

Ecommerce websites need to focus on their website layouts. I’ve told you before that websites with simple designs have higher conversion rates.

But you’ve also got to simplify your checkout process.

If you analyze each phase of this process, you may find certain elements that are actually driving customers away.

Fortunately, I’ve helped businesses with this problem before. I want to share some of my most successful strategies with you.

Here’s how you need to approach your checkout process to maximize conversions.

Take a look at your shopping cart abandonment rates

Over 69% of shopping carts get abandoned. That number is astonishingly high.

According to Statista, these are the top reasons why consumers abandon carts:

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Take a look at these figures and see if your existing checkout process has any of these hindering components. Are you encouraging customers to just browse?

It’s clear based on this data that lots of customers may add something to their shopping carts without any intention of buying anything. I know I’m guilty of this myself as well.

You need to find ways to convert these window shoppers into customers. I recommend trying to tastefully implement scarcity tactics:

  • create a sense of urgency
  • use FOMO (fear of missing out)
  • run promotions with short deadlines
  • add popups with promotional offers

These tips will help you reduce abandonment rates and get more conversions.

Shopping cart abandonment is an epidemic that needs to be addressed. You can send your customers an email reminding them they forgot something in their carts as part of fixing the problem.

But looking at your shopping cart abandonment rate is only the first step of optimizing your checkout process.

You should be constantly tracking this number to see whether the changes you’re implementing are making a difference. Keep referring back to it as you go through this guide.

Eliminate unnecessary steps

If your checkout process is long and complicated, it’ll have a negative impact on your conversion rates. Make sure you’re only getting information that’s required to complete the sale.

Consumers are busy. The more steps you make them go through to buy something, the more time they have to realize they really don’t want it.

But if you can simplify your checkout procedure down to a few steps, the customer won’t have time to second-guess their decision.

That’s why the number of form fields should be as low as possible.

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As you can see from the graph above, the fewer form fields, the higher checkout performance and usability. As a result, your checkout process will have better conversion rates.

But look at how quickly those numbers drop when the form fields become too long. Those yield a poor UX performance, which can negatively impact conversions.

Ask yourself this question:

What information do I really need to complete this sale?

  • customer’s name
  • shipping address
  • email address (to send confirmation)
  • billing information

That’s really it. You don’t need to find out their favorite hobby or their mother’s maiden name.

Just stick with the bare minimum, and you’ll see your conversion rates rise.

Encourage customer profiles, but don’t force it

Some ecommerce websites force customers to create profiles before they can buy something. While I can see the reasoning behind this strategy, it’s killing your conversions.

Look, I get it. From a marketing perspective, you want as much information about your customers as possible.

Once they create an account, you’ll have their name, location, and email address to which you can send more promotional info.

That’s all great. But if you had to choose, wouldn’t you rather have their money?

Not everyone wants a customer profile.

Over 48% of online retailers said a guest checkout was the most important factor to increasing shopping cart conversion rates on their websites.

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This was the second highest response on the list, trailing only behind free shipping.

Profile creation piggybacks on our last point as well. You want the process to be as quick and simple as possible. Going through a long process will turn customers away.

But you can encourage your customers to create a profile in other, subtle, ways. For example, your “create a profile” CTA button can be larger and more prominent than the “checkout as a guest” button.

Or you can send the customer an email after they complete the checkout process encouraging them to create a profile.

This message can be part of your actionable drip campaign, notifying customers of:

  • their order confirmation
  • their order getting shipped
  • their order being delivered.

You could add a promotion to one of these emails offering a discount off their next purchase if they create a profile.

Just don’t make it a requirement to buy something.

Focus on your top benefits

Besides the product, what else does the customer get when they buy something from your website? There are certain things you can do to add the perceived value of the purchase.

Here’s what I mean.

As I’ve mentioned, not everyone comes to your website with the intention of buying something. But while they are browsing, something might catch their attention.

They may want to buy it, but they want to make sure they aren’t stuck with it if they change their mind later. That’s why you should clearly state your return policy.

Take a look at this example from Lululemon:

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When you’re browsing on their website, you can clearly see at all times they offer free shipping and free returns. Their customers know they can get the item delivered free and send it back without any problems.

Obviously, you don’t want items to be returned. Don’t worry, they probably won’t be. In fact, according to the National Retail Federation, about 8% of all purchases get returned.

But just giving your customers the peace of mind can be enough to drive the sale.

In addition to your shipping and return policies, make sure you highlight any other features your company offers. Some things to consider:

  • warranty information
  • secure checkout
  • social proof of the product
  • any differentiating features.

One of these elements can turn a “window shopper” into a paying customer.

Learn how to use images

Believe it or not, pictures can help improve your conversion rates. Instead of just listing your products, show the customer what they’re buying.

While you may have an image or two of your products on your ecommerce shopping page, make sure that image shows up in the shopping cart.

Why?

This can help remind the consumer what they’re buying and reinforce their decision. Plus, it’s much more appealing than just reading some text on a page.

Here’s an example from the REI website:

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The consumer gets reminded of exactly what they added to their cart. This could also help avoid any confusion or mix-ups down the road if they selected the wrong color, size, etc.

When they see a visual confirmation of the product they want, psychologically they’ll feel more comfortable about completing the purchase.

Faces also help improve your conversion rates.

According to a recent case study, conversions jumped from 3.7% to 5.5% when an animated picture of a phone was replaced with the face of a customer service representative.

Include images of people on your website. They could be wearing your product, using your product, or be beside your product.

Check out this example from the Macy’s homepage:

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Notice it shows a person, and that person is looking at the promotional information and the CTA button.

We’ve already established consumers are drawn to faces. In this case, you’d look at the model’s face and then follow his gaze directly toward the text.

This is a great method for increasing conversions.

Simplify the overall design of your website

In addition to simplifying your checkout process, you should also try to clean up your entire website.

If your products are displayed in a cluttered manner, the consumers will feel overwhelmed. They won’t be able to find what they’re looking for, and your conversion rates will suffer.

While you may have hundreds or potentially even thousands of items for sale on your website, you don’t need to cram all of them on to one page.

Less is more.

Let’s look at an example so you can see what I’m talking about. Here is the homepage for Thule:

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There are only five different places the consumer can click to start navigating through products. On the top header, they can select:

  • racks & carriers
  • active with kids
  • luggage & bags

They’ve also got some options within the main body of the page for:

  • bike racks
  • strollers

That’s it.

Now, as you continue to scroll, you’ll see more options that follow the same format as these two pictures above. But at no time do you ever see more than two pictures and two CTA buttons on the screen at once.

This simple design makes it easy for shoppers to find exactly what they’re looking for.

Give your customers lots of payment options

Some payment options may be more beneficial to your company than others. I completely understand this.

One credit card company may charge higher transaction fees than others, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t accept that method of payment.

Recognize your customers have preferences. Certain payment options may give them better reward points or bonus miles over others.

If they want something but can’t buy it with their favorite card, they’ll just buy it from a different retailer instead.

You should accept newer and unconventional types of payment as well. In addition to accepting all major credit cards and debit cards, consider using:

  • PayPal
  • Venmo
  • Apple Pay

I want to show you an example of this. Here’s a screenshot from the Nike website:

image8 12

If you look at the bottom right corner of the screenshot above, you’ll see they allow their customers to check out using PayPal.

This could appeal to people who have a high PayPal balance and who want to use it for purchases. Accepting PayPal can also help eliminate concerns from customers who may be worried about their credit card information getting stolen.

The reason why I used this example from Nike is because it also highlights another concept I mentioned earlier.

Although they encourage customers to create a profile, they allow them to continue the checkout as guests. Even under the guest checkout area, it shows all the benefits of becoming a member.

To join, all you need to do is check off a box and proceed.

Another quick point about your payment methods. I recommend asking for payment as the last step of the checkout procedure.

By now, the customer has already invested some time into providing other information, so they’ll be more likely to continue. Asking for their payment first could drive them away.

Don’t forget about mobile shoppers

Retailers always need to keep mobile shoppers in mind.

In 2017, 34.5% of ecommerce sales came from mobile devices. That number is projected to reach 54% by 2021.

Your checkout process needs to be optimized for mobile devices. Make sure your site is mobile friendly.

You could even consider creating a mobile app for a checkout process to minimize friction even further.

Touch of Modern is a great example of a successful retail mobile application:

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You can learn a lot about getting high conversions from their business model.

They get between 150,000 and 200,000 new downloads every month. More than half of their customers are repeat shoppers. Nearly two-thirds of their total sales come from their mobile application.

Those numbers are incredible.

The reason why this app is so successful is because they use daily flash sales and store all their customers’ data on the app, making the checkout process lightning fast.

Customers don’t have to re-input all of their credit card information and shipping addresses every time they want to buy something.

The reduced friction results in high conversions.

Conclusion

Getting higher conversions isn’t that difficult. It just takes some effort.

As you can see from everything I talked about in this article, these methods aren’t really too extreme. They are also fairly easy to implement.

First, analyze your shopping cart abandonment rates.

Next, eliminate any unnecessary steps in your checkout process. Stick to the basics and only ask for information required for a sale.

Encourage shoppers to create a customer profile, but don’t force them to.

Highlight your top benefits. Use images throughout the checkout process to confirm what the customer is buying.

Make sure you offer many different payment options as well.

Don’t forget about mobile customers. Your website needs to be optimized for mobile devices. You may even consider creating a mobile app for your ecommerce store.

If you follow these tips to simplify your checkout process, you’ll get significantly higher conversion rates.

What changes do you need to make to your checkout process to reduce abandonment rates and get more conversions?

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How to Increase Open Rates with These 7 Email Subject Lines

How long does it take you to write marketing emails?

If you’re anything like me, you put lots of thought, effort, and time into each and every word in the message. That’s what it takes to write actionable email newsletters.

Your message is full of great content. You might even have some discounts, coupons, or other promotional offers there as well.

Maybe you’re promoting a new product, service, or trying to drive traffic to a landing page. Regardless of the goal of your marketing emails, all of your campaigns have one thing in common:

subscribers need to open them to see your message.

Sounds simple, right? But all too often I see marketers come up with a subject line in two seconds and send out the message.

The subject line is the first thing the recipient sees when they get your email. Just how important is it?

Well, 35% of people open emails based solely on the subject line. Furthermore, 69% of people mark messages as spam based on the subject line.

Basically, your subject line will make or break the success of your marketing campaigns.

To increase your open rates, you’ve got to come up with subject lines that stimulate interactivity, which I identified as one of my top marketing trends of 2018.

But you can’t use the same subject line over and over. That gets boring, and your subscribers will catch on.

That’s why I created this list of the top 7 subject lines that increase open rates. Now you have a reference guide for every message you send.

Let’s dive in.

1. Personalized subject lines

Adding a personal touch to your subject lines can help increase open rates.

In fact, the Institute of Direct and Digital Marketing (IDM) identified these as the top benefits of personalized emails:

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As you can see from their data, increase in open rates was the first benefit of personalized subject lines.

Personalized subjects can have a larger impact on your campaign as well. You’ll also get more clicks, fewer unsubscribes, higher customer satisfaction, and more sales.

What kind of information can you use to personalize a subject line? You can use your customer’s:

  • name
  • postal location
  • birthday
  • current location
  • info related to their transaction history
  • content related to browsing history
  • product recommendations
  • social media accounts

If you’re on the fence about what’s appropriate to use, start off by addressing the recipients by their first name in the subject. See how much of an impact that has on your open rates.

How much of a difference will it make?

Well, research shows that personalized email messages improve clicks by 14% and increase conversions by 10%.

Studies also show that personalized promotional emails result in 29% higher open rates.

The reason why this strategy works is because it helps you establish a more intimate connection with your subscribers. They’ll see that the content was created specifically for them as opposed to a mass audience.

I’m much more likely to open a message that says “Hey Neil!” than the one that begins with “Dear Valued Customer.” The first one makes it seem like I personally know the sender.

Give this method a try next time you’re sending out an email.

2. Subjects that create a sense of urgency

Are you familiar with the concept of FOMO? It stands for the “fear of missing out” on something.

Social media websites today make FOMO more prevalent. Take a look at these numbers:

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FOMO has become such a problem for people that it’s impacting the way they live their lives. You can stimulate this powerful emotion in your email subject lines.

How can you create a sense of urgency?

Offer a sale with an expiration date.

If someone is on your subscriber list, they’ve probably bought something from your company in the past. Even if they haven’t, they’re interested enough to probably buy something soon.

While your coupon might be available in the body of the message, you need to make it obvious in the subject line.

Let’s compare two hypothetical subject lines. Which one do you think is more effective?

“New weekly coupon inside!”

or

“25% off sale ends tonight!”

I promise you that the second example will get more opens than the first one. That’s because the deadline of “ends tonight” gives people a reason to act fast.

If they don’t open the message now, they’ll fear they will be missing out on a great deal—FOMO.

Another way to generate urgency is by alluding to a limited quantity of something remaining. Here’s a great example from GetResponse:

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GetResponse is an email marketing software. So it’s no surprise they have a great email subject line to promote their services.

The idea is to get people to act fast.

If your subject line says the deal is valid until the end of the month, the recipient has no reason to open it now. They may never end up opening it.

But that can change if you generate urgency.

3. Breaking news subject lines

Your content needs to be highly relevant.

If your company isn’t in the news reporting or media industries, you’ll have to get creative here. Here’s what I mean.

You don’t need to send emails reporting a local robbery or car accident. But you can link recent news to your business.

For example, let’s say you have an ecommerce company that sells clothing. You’ve got your email subscribers segmented by location based on their zip codes.

It’s February, and a winter snowstorm is approaching the states in New England.

You could send an email with a breaking news subject line about the storm and say that you’re selling winter coats, hats, and gloves at a discounted rate.

MailChimp conducted a study in which they analyzed 24 billion emails. These subject lines had roughly 22,000 unique words.

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Their data showed that people opened messages with keywords that were related to breaking news.

If you can’t think of create ways to link recent news to your email campaigns, create some news of your own. Share recent news about your company.

Talk about things like:

  • a new product release
  • an approaching event
  • new member of your staff

And make them sound like news headlines in your subject lines.

4. Subject lines that tell a story

You can get more sales by mastering the art of storytelling. But you can also increase your email open rates with the same tactic.

Everyone loves to hear a good story.

That’s why we read books, watch movies, and sit for hours watching our favorite television shows on Netflix. The stories keep us captivated.

You should tell stories in your emails to capture the attention of your subscribers. Then you can include CTAs within the story or have the general theme of your story prompt an action.

But the key here is to use the subject line as a teaser for the story.

If you’re trying to drive traffic to a new post you wrote, consider using its title as your subject line—if it tells a story.

Here’s an example of an old post I wrote about spending money on clothes and being able to generate a profit:

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That’s a headline that grabs a reader’s attention.

If I wanted to promote this post via email, I could use its title as the subject line. Both of those numbers, spent and earned, are too high for people to ignore.

They might ask themselves, “How could you make that much money just by spending money on clothes?”

Then they would click to read the story or, in this case, open your email.

5. Stimulate curiosity with a subject line

People are curious by nature.

Refer back to our last example about storytelling. The reason why someone would want to click on that message is because they are curious.

Your subject line should try to pique the curiosity of your subscribers.

Don’t give it all away in the subject line. Instead, hint at something that they’ll find out if they open your message.

Rather than saying, “here’s 30% off your next purchase,” you can create a mystery sale instead. If you just tell the subscriber their discount, they don’t have a reason to open the message unless they are ready to use it.

Here’s an example from Forever 21 of an email that employs this technique:

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Apply the same concept to your subject line.

It doesn’t have to be applied to sales only. You can hint at a mystery event or maybe even a special guest on your next podcast.

Just make sure you’re not giving away all the information in the subject line.

Here’s another example. Let’s say you’re in the food industry. You want to send out an email about the most popular foods in America.

Potatoes are the most commonly consumed vegetable in the United States.

But you wouldn’t write that in your subject line.

Instead, you would write something like, “What’s America’s favorite vegetable? We’ve got the answer.”

This subject makes the recipient wonder, whereas just stating the answer gives them no reason to actually open the message.

6. Short subject lines

No matter what type of content your subject line contains, it needs to be short. Avoid using really long sentences and unnecessary characters.

To optimize the length of your subject lines, I recommend writing out several drafts before deciding on one. Then you can pick and choose pieces of each draft so you can get your message across as short as possible.

So how long is too long? Studies show that email subjects lines that have between 1 and 20 characters have the highest open rates.

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As you can see, this statement holds true across the board, regardless of what the email entails.

This could be due to the fact if the subject line is too long, the recipient may not be able to see all of the words in their inbox.

55% of emails get opened on a mobile device.

You’ve got to take this into consideration when you’re crafting a subject line. While it may look fine on your computer, this changes when it’s being looked at on a smaller screen.

Here’s an example to show you what I’m talking about.

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While most businesses realize that their emails need to optimized for mobile devices, they forget about the subject line.

Overall, if your subject line is short, you’ll get higher open rates.

7. Subject lines with free stuff

It’s OK to give things away for free. Some companies avoid this because they think it’s not profitable, which I completely understand.

Look, I’m not saying you need to give away your most expensive products for nothing. But it doesn’t hurt to give away a free gift with a purchase every now and then.

This is especially true if you’re using an email campaign to promote the free offer.

Why?

Take a look at these numbers.

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Email marketing campaigns generate a 4,300% return on your investment. That’s because it’s not expensive to send emails.

You’re likely only paying a marginal monthly or annual fee for your software.

Plus you get so many benefits like an increase in sales, more website traffic, and new leads. So it’s OK to use this platform to promote a free offer.

Include the word “FREE” in your subject line to get more subscribers to open your messages.

Conclusion

Your email campaigns might be great, but if you can’t get people to open up the messages then it’s pointless.

I know how much time you spend writing your emails, so you need to put just as much effort into the subject lines.

Used personalized subjects that generate curiosity. You can also use your subject line to tell a story or talk about some kind of breaking news event.

Stimulate curiosity. Make the reader want to find out more information by clicking the message.

Give away free stuff and tell people about it in your subject line.

No matter which tactic you use, just try to keep your subject lines short. Make sure that they can be read on mobile devices.

If you follow these tips, you’ll get significantly higher open rates.

What types of subject lines are you using to get subscribers to open your messages?

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How to Identify the Target Market of Your Startup

Not everyone wants to buy what you’re selling.

For your startup company to be successful, you need to identify your target market.

This is one of the first steps of launching a startup company.

But it’s much easier said than done.

If you don’t have a clear target audience in mind, your marketing campaigns are going to cost you a fortune.

You’ll also have low conversion rates, and your customer acquisition costs will be through the roof.

Marketing to everyone and anyone is simply a waste of effort, time, and money.

Instead, focus your branding and marketing strategies on a specific group of people who genuinely have a need, want, or interest in your company.

Cash in the bank is obviously important for every business, but for startup companies, it’s their lifeline.

If your marketing campaigns are unsuccessful, your startup is going to bleed money.

Take a look at the top reasons why startups fail:

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Let’s just focus on the top two reasons.

Reason #1: 42% of startups failed because there wasn’t a market for their offering.

That’s why identifying your market needs to be one of the first steps.

If you discover there isn’t a market for what your startup has to offer, you can go back to the drawing board and try something else before you invest too much time and money.

Reason #2: 29% of startups failed because they ran out of money.

Spending your valuable marketing budget on the wrong target audience could cause your company to go out of business.

With limited cash in the bank, you may not be able to recover from this.

But don’t worry.

I’ll explain what you need to do to identify your target market, which will position your startup company for success.

Start with broad assumptions, and slowly narrow your focus

Don’t start with a really narrow audience right away.

Instead, begin with larger groups that you assume may be interested in your brand.

From here, you can slowly start getting more specific.

Use a few of these simple and general segments to get started:

  • gender
  • age
  • location

You can also use these broad groups to eliminate people who aren’t in your target market.

For example, let’s take a look at some products from the Texas Beard Company:

image8 10

They sell things such as beard oil, brushes, balms, combs, and any accessory you would need for a healthy beard.

So if you had a startup company like this, right away you could eliminate women from your target audience.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying women won’t buy these products.

It’s definitely possible women could make a purchase from this brand as a gift for a man in their lives. But you wouldn’t make them part of your target audience.

What else can you assume about men who are looking for beard products?

Take their age into consideration.

It’s safe to assume that neither teenagers nor too many senior citizens would be buying these products.

As a result, you would eliminate males under the age of 20 and over the age of 60 from your target audience.

Now, what else can you assume about the people who may be interested in your products?

They either have a beard or want to grow a beard.

In the example we just used, you’ve already narrowed your target market to men between the ages of 20 and 60 who have beards.

As we continue through this process, we’ll narrow the target audience even more, but for now, this is a great place to start.

Analyze your competition

It’s rare for people to come up with a product or service that doesn’t already exist.

While the idea for your startup may be somewhat unique, you’ll still be a part of an existing industry.

Other people are already doing what you’re trying to do.

You’ve got to find out how to position your company within your industry:

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To do this properly, you’ll need to conduct research on your competition.

Figure out what they’re doing well and what needs improvement.

Who are your competitors targeting?

Look at their advertisements, visit their website, join their email subscription lists…

You can attempt to go after the same target market or focus on a group your competition may be overlooking.

Look at the graphic above as a reference.

Are you going to target a niche audience or sell products for the masses?

Will your brand have high quality products/services at a premium price or are you planning to target consumers who are more cost-sensitive?

It will be easier to answer these questions after you research the competition.

Analyzing your competition can help you increase profits even after your startup launches.

Competitive analysis can also show you how consumers behave in this industry:

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Ideally, you want to build long-lasting relationships with your customers.

But this idea can vary based on your products, services, brand, and industry.

You need to adjust your target market accordingly.

For example, let’s say your startup company sells cars or similar products.

A customer today may not be ready to buy another vehicle for another decade. In this case, you can’t rely on loyal and repeat customers.

Instead, you’ll have to focus on customer acquisition strategies.

Find out how your competition is able to continually market to different customers and whether their campaigns are successful.

Talk to people

While making assumptions and analyzing your competition are logical places to start, those strategies will only get you so far.

If you really want to focus on the ideal target market for your startup company, you need to put in much more work.

You need to speak to consumers.

See if your assumptions are right.

Conduct one-on-one interviews, and use focus groups to test your assumptions.

For example, let’s say your brand’s general target market is women between the ages of 25 and 40.

It’s a huge percentage of the population. You’ll have to come up with other ways to segment that target market into smaller groups who are genuinely interested in your brand.

Here’s a way for you to segment your target market:

image3 11

Focus groups and interviews can give you more information about potential consumers for your company.

Your focus groups should have 10 to 12 participants.

Show these people different products, services, or marketing campaigns your startup is planning to use.

See how receptive they are to what you’re showing them.

Find out more information about the people who have a positive reaction.

If you’re only interviewing women between the ages of 25 and 40, what other similarities do they have?

For example, you might find out that all the women who liked your products were married.

You could also discover that women of a certain social class or annual household income were more receptive to your brand than others.

Make sure you find out as much information as possible about everyone in your focus groups.

Use the market segmentation graphic above as a reference.

Have all of your participants fill out a questionnaire before the interview or focus group starts.

But realize you won’t find out everything you need after just one session or interview.

This market research phase is an ongoing process.

The more people you can talk to, the more accurate your data will be.

As a result, it will be easier for you to identify your target market.

Create customer personas

Now that you have a better understanding of your target market, create customer personas to learn even more about their buying behavior.

A customer persona will ultimately help you market to this audience after you’ve identified them.

Here’s what a customer persona looks like:

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Make the persona specific to your company.

You can tell the example above is for a business selling shoes.

This customer persona has trouble finding shoes that fit her because she has narrow feet.

Now, your startup company may sell shoes to both men and women.

But each persona needs to be unique.

Your general target market in this segment may be:

  • women
  • 30 to 40 years old
  • $30-45k annual salary
  • lives in the western part of the United States.

Your customer persona has to be more specific. Notice that the example shows a woman who is:

  • 36 years old
  • $38k annual salary
  • located in Los Angeles, CA.

Do you see the difference?

The results of your interviews and focus groups can help you create these customer personas.

Not all of your customers are shopping for the same reason.

The purpose of the customer persona is to figure out the psychological and behavioral shopping approaches to consumers within your target market.

If you identify that a large portion of your target market has a similar occupation or lives in the same part of the country, you can adjust your marketing campaigns accordingly.

Use surveys

Once your startup launches and you start getting sales, you can use customer surveys to find out more information about your target audience.

These surveys can help show your customers how much you care about them:

image7 11

You want to find out more information about your customers so that you can improve their shopping experience.

But you’ll also use those survey results to identify your market.

Find out who they are and what they are using your products or services for.

Get information related to their:

  • demographics
  • geographic location
  • psychographic traits
  • behavioral trends

Earlier I told you to start by making assumptions about your potential target market.

But now that you have actual customers, there’s no reason for you to assume.

You’ve got actual people who were drawn to your startup company. This is your target market.

Now you need to figure out exactly who they are so you can target other people in this segment.

Take advantage of analytics and other resources

I’m going to assume your startup company has a website.

If it doesn’t, I hope you’re in the process of building one ASAP.

Who is visiting your website?

The traffic to your site can be a good indicator of your target audience.

Google Analytics can show you who is visiting your website:

image5 11

This is an example of demographic data you would be able to get from these analytics.

The traffic from this sample is mostly males between the ages of 18 and 34.

Google takes these analytics one step further and displays other information such as:

  • sessions
  • bounce rates
  • pages per session
  • average session duration
  • transactions
  • new users.

The reports are generated and grouped by demographic information.

It helps you identify which users on your website are the most valuable.

That’s how you can determine your target market.

Conclusion (be ready to make changes)

As you can see, identifying your target market is a long process.

When you first get started, you’ll need to make general assumptions about your prospective customers, since you don’t have any concrete data yet.

Slowly start to narrow down that market based on your brand, products, services, and industry.

Use competitor analysis tools to see who is getting targeted by other businesses in your industry.

Are you going to take the same approach? Or will you focus on a different segment?

Talk to people.

Interviews and focus groups are a great way to help you narrow down your target market.

Customer personas allow you to focus on specific customers with unique needs.

Once your company starts getting sales, try to survey your existing customers to find out more information about them.

You can also use online analytics tools to see who is visiting your website.

Just be ready to make changes.

Your initial assumptions about your target market may have been wrong.

That’s okay.

As long as you’re able to adjust your marketing campaigns based on new information, your startup company will survive and thrive.

What’s the target market for your startup company?

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The Top 14 Ways to Improve Your SEO Ranking

Where is your website traffic coming from?

If you’re relying on people to find you through a Google search, search engine optimization (SEO) needs to be at the top of your priority list.

You won’t be able to generate leads for your business if nobody can find you.

Did you know 93% of experiences on the Internet start with a search engine?

What happens after someone makes a search?

The top result on Google has a 33% chance of getting clicked.

That means if you’re not number one on the page, you just missed out on a third of potential traffic.

What’s even more astonishing is that 75% people won’t even click on the second page of the search results.

The reason why other websites are ranking higher than you on Google is because they are making a conscious effort to improve their SEO.

Fortunately, it’s not too late for you to get started.

There are certain things you can do to increase your chances of getting ranked higher on Google searches.

I’ve identified the top 14 ways to improve your SEO ranking. Here they are.

1. Improve your page loading speed

Your page loading time is important for a few reasons.

First of all, if your load speed is too slow, Google will recognize this, and it will harm your ranking.

But a slow website will also impact the way your website visitors engage with your pages.

As a result, those negative interactions will hurt your ranking too.

Look at how abandonment rates increase for websites with long page loading times:

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How slow is too slow?

Research shows 40% visitors will abandon websites if the page takes longer than 3 seconds to load.

What’s even more shocking is that 80% of those visitors won’t return to that website.

This is terrible for your SEO ranking because it ultimately kills traffic to your site.

But on the flip side, if your page loads fast, people will keep coming back.

Google’s algorithm will recognize your website’s popularity and adjust your search ranking accordingly.

If you want to test the speed of your website, there are online services such as Pingdom available for free.

This will allow you to test your website from different locations all over the world.

2. Produce high quality content

How often do you update your website?

If you haven’t touched it since the day you built it, you probably don’t have a great SEO ranking right now.

To drive more traffic to your website and increase its popularity, you need to give visitors a reason to keep coming back.

Your content needs to be high quality, recent, and relevant.

Another factor that impacts your SEO ranking is so-called dwell time.

This relates to how much time people spend on your website per visit.

If your site has fresh, exciting, or newsworthy information, it will keep visitors on your page longer and improve your dwell time.

Websites that provide highly informative content typically have long dwell times.

Here’s something else to consider.

Google Chrome controls nearly 45% of the Internet browser market share, making it the most popular browser in the world.

That number will continue to rise as Chrome was also the most downloaded browser of 2017:

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When users bookmark your website from a Google Chrome browser, it can help your SEO ranking.

High quality and relevant content will increase the chances of your website being bookmarked by visitors.

3. Optimize your images

Pictures and other images are great for your website.

But you need to make sure they are optimized properly if you want these images to improve your SEO ranking.

I’m referring to factors such as the file format and size.

Huge images can slow your page loading time, which, as I’ve said, hurts your ranking.

Resize or compress your images to optimize them.

You can also use your images to sneak in keywords by naming them accordingly.

For example, let’s say you have a website that sells toiletries or other bath products.

Instead of naming an image something like “shampoo1,” you could name it “best shampoo for long hair.”

You can also strategically use keywords in the title of your image as well as the caption or description.

4. Break up your content with header tags

Headings are another way to help improve the user experience on your website.

They break up the content and make it easier to read or skim.

Plus, headers make everything look more appealing, which is always beneficial.

If your website is just a wall of text, it’s going to discourage people from spending a long time on it.

As a result, your SEO ranking will suffer.

If you’re running your site on WordPress, you can easily change the header tags.

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I use header tags for all my websites and blog posts.

If you’re not utilizing this tool, I highly recommend you start ASAP.

5. Start blogging

Blogging is great for your business.

It’s an outstanding tool for lead generation and helps you engage with visitors to your website.

But what most people don’t realize is blogging also improves SEO rankings.

Here’s why.

As we’ve previously discussed, producing fresh, updated, and relevant content can drive people to your website and give them a reason to stay on your pages for a while.

Well, blogs are the perfect channel for you to accomplish this.

If you can establish a large group of faithful readers, you can get lots of traffic to your site on a daily basis.

Plus, you can incorporate some of the other things we discussed so far into your blogs as well, such as images and header tags.

Other elements, such as links, readability, and keywords, can also be incorporated into these posts. I will talk about them shortly.

All of this positively impacts your search engine ranking.

6. Use outbound links

There are certain things you can do to increase the credibility of your website.

Sure, you can make claims, but it looks much better if you back them up.

All of your data claims should be linked to trustworthy and authoritative sources.

As you can see from what you’ve read so far today, I do this myself.

But here’s another example that illustrates what I’m talking about from a blog post I wrote about generating leads on Twitter:

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All my facts are citations from authority sources.

And I made sure to use outbound hyperlinks to those websites.

You should not only link to authority sites but also make sure all the information is recent.

Notice how the graph I used in the example above is from 2017.

Outbound links to resources from 2009 are irrelevant and won’t be as effective for your SEO ranking.

You should also include internal links as well.

These links will direct visitors to other pages on your website.

I used this technique in the first sentence of this section.

If you scroll back up and click on it, you’ll get redirected to another Quick Sprout blog post.

7. Add more than text

The content on your website shouldn’t be only written words.

As I said earlier, pictures are great too, but there’s more you can add to improve your SEO ranking.

Consider adding other multimedia elements such as videos, slideshows, or audio to your site.

All of this can help improve the user experience.

Why?

For starters, consumers want to see more videos:

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It’s much easier to watch something than read about it.

But there’s a direct correlation between videos and other multimedia sources on your website, and it’s SEO ranking.

These features can dramatically improve the amount of time someone spends on your website.

Depending on the length of your videos, people could be on your page for several minutes.

If that happens, it will definitely boost your search ranking.

8. Make sure your site is readable

Keep your audience in mind when you’re writing content on your website.

If you want people to visit your site and spend time there, speak in terms they can understand.

Don’t try to sound like a doctor or a lawyer (even if you are).

Your content should be written using words the majority of people can understand.

Not sure if your content is readable?

You can use online resources to help.

One of my personal favorites is Readable.io.

Tools like this can help you identify words that might be too long or difficult for people to comprehend.

9. Fix any broken links

If you’re using authority websites for hyperlinks, you shouldn’t have to worry about the links breaking.

But it can still happen.

Broken links can crush your SEO ranking.

Plus, it doesn’t look good when a link you provide to your visitors brings them to an invalid website.

You can use tools like Dead Link Checker to search for links with errors on your website:

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You can use this to check your entire website or specific pages.

If you sign up, you can also set up your account to get checked automatically.

Anytime a link goes dead, you’ll be contacted right away so you can replace it.

You can also use this resource to monitor other websites relevant to your industry.

How can that help your SEO?

Well, if a link goes dead on another website, you can notify the Webmaster of that page and ask them to replace the dead link with a link to your website instead.

You’re doing them a favor by letting them know about a problem with their site, so they might be willing to do you a favor in return.

This will drive more traffic to your website. Outbound links from other websites to your page will help improve your SEO ranking too.

10. Optimize your site for mobile devices

As I’m sure you know, mobile use is on the rise.

It’s rising so fast that it’s actually overtaken computers and laptop devices.

In fact, over 60% of Google searches come from mobile devices.

Obviously, Google recognizes this and ranks sites accordingly.

Your website needs to be optimized for mobile users.

There’s no way around this.

If your site isn’t optimized, it’ll hinder the user experience, adversely affecting your ranking.

11. Properly format your page

Take your time when you’re coming up with a layout for your website.

It needs to be neat, clear, organized, and uncluttered.

Consider things like your font size and typography.

Use colored text, bold font, and italics sparingly.

Things such as bullet points and checklists make it easy for visitors to scan through your content.

Take a look at this example from Square:

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It’s super clean.

They’ve got a simple picture and reasonable amount of text.

The way the text is formatted makes it easy for people to read, especially with the bullet points.

As we discussed earlier, Square also included different header tags and subheadings on their page as well.

If your website is cluttered with too many pictures, advertisements, colors, and bulk blocks of text, it can appear untrustworthy.

Your site architecture and navigation also fall into this category.

A clean format and design will improve your SEO ranking.

12. Provide appropriate contact information

Speaking of appearing untrustworthy, have you ever struggled to find the contact information of a business on a website?

I know I have.

This should never happen.

All your contact information should be clear and in plain sight for people to find.

The worst thing that could happen is for people to start reporting your website just because you forgot to include your phone number, email address, and location.

This will crush your SEO.

13. Encourage sharing on social media

Every business and website needs to be active on social media.

That’s pretty much common knowledge.

But what’s not as well known is that you can get your SEO ranking improved if people share links to your website on social media.

Here’s an example from a pest control website case study in which they ran a campaign specifically designed to increase social sharing:

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The infographic was shared 1,117 times in just two weeks.

During those same two weeks, the website’s organic search traffic rose by 15%.

As a result, their SEO ranking improved as well.

And that was just over a couple of weeks.

Imagine the results you’ll see if you encourage social shares as a regular part of your SEO campaigns.

One of the best ways to do this is by including social sharing icons on all your content.

You should also share links on your social media pages.

When that information appears on people’s timelines, all it takes is just one click for them to share it.

14. Use keywords

Take a look at the components of the Google ranking algorithm:

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Keywords play a major role in this formula.

You want to include words throughout your content that people will search for.

But do it sparingly.

If you go overboard saturating your website with keywords, Google will pick up on this, and it will have an adverse effect on your ranking.

Keywords should fit naturally into sentences.

Include them in your header tags and even in image captions.

You should also use long-tail keywords, which are three or four word phrases that could be found in a search.

For example, someone probably won’t just search for the word “phone” when they’re looking for something.

But they may search “best phone for texting” as an alternative.

If your keywords match their search, it increases the chances that your website will get ranked higher.

Conclusion

Search engine optimization isn’t just a fad that’s going to phase out soon.

It’s something your website needs to concentrate on right now and in the future as well.

If you’re just starting to focus on SEO, you’re a little bit behind, but it’s definitely not too late to implement the strategies I just talked about.

Don’t get overwhelmed.

I’m not expecting you to make 14 drastic changes to your website overnight.

Start with a few, and move on to the others.

Monitor your results.

Checking your traffic and search ranking will help validate your SEO strategy.

Soon enough, you’ll be making your way toward the top search results on Google.

Who knows, you might even be able to claim that number one spot.

What have you done so far to improve your website’s Google search ranking?

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How to Charge More for Your Products by Enhancing the Perceived Value

Any business selling products knows how important the profit margins are to its success.

What if I told you that you could increase those profits without altering the products?

Well, I’ve got good news. This is easily attainable if you can enhance the perceived value of your items.

Then, you can charge more money for the same products you’re already selling and get sky high profits.

But there’s a science behind this method.

If you’ve been selling the same item at a $5 price point for the last ten years, you can’t just start selling it tomorrow for $500 and expect people to buy it.

It’s all about creating a brand image that’s perceived as high class, luxury, or exclusive.

For those of you who have been promoting a bargain brand for a long time, this strategy is not as easy to implement as it is for other businesses.

But for new businesses or existing companies selling products at a price point that’s not too low, there are subtle changes you can make to increase your perceived value.

Granted, this won’t happen overnight.

Consumers may already have a certain perception of your brand and products.

It’s your job to change that perception so you can charge more and benefit from higher profits.

I’ll explain how it’s done.

Narrow your target market

Charging more for your products means not everyone can afford what you’re selling.

That’s okay.

Take a look at the cars for sale on the Range Rover website:

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They’ve got base models starting at over $80,000.

That’s more than double the average transaction price of a car in the United States, which is roughly $35,000.

Higher prices mean you’re alienating the majority of consumers from your brand.

You need to analyze the current trends and focus your marketing campaigns on a specific audience.

Sure, deep pockets may be a good place to start, but you’ll have to dig a little deeper than that to zoom in on a target market.

Segment potential consumers by factors such as:

  • age
  • gender
  • location
  • marital status
  • hobbies
  • beliefs

Next, create a customer journey map to put yourself in the shoes of your customers.

That will help you identify whether your perceived value is high enough to charge premium prices.

Quality is important too.

For example, when you eat at a global fast food chain, you have tempered expectations of quality with a matching price.

But when you order a steak and lobster dinner at a fancy steakhouse inside a 5-star resort, you’re expecting the quality to be much better.

Each place I described above has its own target market.

Promoting your brand to a narrow niche creates a feeling of exclusivity within the target demographic.

They like the idea not everyone has the means to buy what you’re selling.

Produce a limited quantity of each item

Now that your target audience has changed, you don’t need to produce as many products.

Just focus on selling whatever you manufacture.

If you’re making a high-demand item, you can produce even fewer quantities to make them rare.

Take a look at how Ferrari accomplished this in 2016:

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The luxury brand only made 209 of the LaFerrari Aperta models.

Ferrari wanted to keep nine of the vehicles for themselves, so they put the other 200 up for sale.

They sold out right away.

No, that’s not a mistake in the CNBC headline.

The price for each vehicle is $2.2 million.

That’s $440 million in sales.

Now, I don’t know the exact cost of manufacturing of these vehicles, but I can guarantee those profit margins are astronomical.

Let’s reflect on our last point for a minute here.

Ferrari doesn’t care about the millions of drivers across the globe.

They just need 200 people to buy this product.

Owning one of these vehicles makes people feel as though they are part of an elite group.

This strategy drastically differs from a company such as Honda Motor.

To compare, the Japanese car manufacturer sold over 360,000 Honda Civics in the United States alone in 2016.

Their brand targets a mass audience, so they have to produce enough products for everyone.

Limit the buyer’s choices

In addition to producing less of each product, you should also limit your product lines.

Giving people too many choices ends up hurting your conversions.

Louis Vuitton recognizes this and limits their product lines accordingly:

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If you’re shopping for a Nano bag on their website, you’ll have only four products to choose from.

Having hundreds of options available would confuse the customer.

It’s too difficult for them to decide what they want, so they may not end up buying anything.

If they do end up selecting an item from a large field, they will be more likely to have buyer’s remorse.

They’ll keep reflecting on decisions they could have made instead.

That’s not the feeling you want your customers to have after buying something from your company, especially if they are paying lots of money for it.

Those negative feelings will give them a bad association with your brand and could prevent them from buying something else in the future.

Here’s a study to illustrate my point about too many choices, the jam study:

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As you can see from the research conducted by this grocery store, customers were much more likely to buy the product when they were offered fewer options.

The data also suggests that not as many people were attracted to the jam when fewer choices were available.

That’s fine.

We already established we’re marketing to a narrower target market.

As long as your conversion rates are high and you’re selling everything you’re producing, you won’t have anything to worry about.

Enhance your packaging

Think of your packaging as an extension of your product.

If you’re selling something like a ring, necklace, watch, or another piece of jewelry, you should consider packaging your products in a carrying case.

Have you ever bought a pair of cheap sunglasses from a kiosk at the mall or a vendor on the street?

They usually package them in some kind of soft cloth that won’t provide any protection if you drop the glasses.

But sunglasses that come with a durable carrying case can enhance the perceived value, and the price can reflect it.

It makes the customer feel as if what they’re buying is worth protecting.

But don’t stop with the functional parts of the packaging.

Everything else needs to be enhanced too.

For example, if you go to big box stores, you’ll get all your items tossed in a standard plastic bag when you check out.

But if you shop at a luxury retailer, your purchase will be placed in a customized bag that’s durable and sleek, possibly with a cloth handle.

Your purchase may even be wrapped in tissue paper or have something else to make it look nicer.

Take a look at how Jordan Brand packages their shoes:

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These shoeboxes are much more than just a way to get your sneakers from the store to your house.

The packaging makes it a collector’s item.

That’s why Jordan is able to sell out basketball sneakers priced at over $200.

Stand by your products

If you’re selling at a high price, you have to go the extra mile when it comes to your customer service.

Offer the customer things like:

  • free shipping
  • returns
  • extended warranty

It will put the customer’s mind at ease and make them more willing to spend the extra money.

If you have physical retail locations, make sure your staff are trained properly to relay these messages to the customer.

For those of you with an ecommerce store, clearly and proudly display your guarantees on your website.

Look at this example from Red Wing Shoes:

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Red Wing lets customers return their purchases within 30 days of the sale, even after they’ve worn the shoes.

That’s a huge incentive for customers, especially since this company is known for selling work boots.

You can buy a pair of boots and wear them in the snow, dirt, rain, and concrete every day for a month.

If you’re not happy, bring them back for a refund.

Guarantees like this enhance the perceived value because it makes the customer assume they’ll be satisfied.

Nobody would offer a return policy like this if every pair of sold shoes was brought back in.

Red Wing is able to charge more money for their products because of this.

You can easily apply the same strategy in your business.

Produce high-quality products and back them up with an outstanding return policy or warranty.

Use social proof

Social proof drives sales, especially if your brand partners with a celebrity.

In 2013, Adidas teamed up with hip-hop icon Kanye West.

They let Kanye design his own shoes:

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When celebrities endorse a product, it enhances the perceived value.

After consumers see a celebrity wearing something, they want to buy it too.

But Adidas used one of the strategies we talked about earlier and only produced limited quantities of these shoes.

If you look at their website, you’ll see all of the sneakers are sold out:

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These sneakers are such commodities that they are sold on the secondary market for thousands of dollars.

Obviously, those aftermarket sales don’t generate more profits for Adidas.

However, they definitely enhance the perceived value.

That’s because Adidas focused on a narrow audience, produced a limited quantity, and used celebrity social proof as a branding strategy.

So they can charge more money for these sneakers compared to other items sold on their website.

Raise the prices, and don’t offer discounts

Sometimes just raising your prices can be enough to enhance the perceived value.

Let’s say you’re sick and go to the pharmacy to get some medicine.

As you look through your options, you see a generic store brand medicine for $3.

On the shelf right next to it, there’s a name brand medicine for $11.

You might say to yourself, “I recognize the name of this brand and the product is more expensive. So it must be better, right?”

Maybe not everyone will feel this way, but if you’re sick, you might not want to take the chance of buying medicine that won’t make you feel better.

Here’s a visual representation of different pricing segments for wine:

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As you can see, the more expensive the wine gets, the higher the perceived value becomes.

If you’re comparing two bottles of wine based on the price alone, it’s natural for you to think the more expensive bottle is better.

Furthermore, if you’re trying to establish a brand reputation that’s known as high class or luxurious, you shouldn’t offer discounts.

Items on sale lower the perceived value.

It can also deter customers from buying your products at full price. They may wait until you send them some kind of promotion.

While coupons and sales incentives are normally a great way to market your products and drive sales, it’s not the best way to enhance your perceived value.

Remember, you’re marketing to a narrow target market.

These people don’t necessarily need items to go on sale to be able to afford what you’re selling, so just stick to your current prices.

Let’s look at the Gucci website:

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Notice anything strange here?

You don’t see any words like:

  • sale
  • discount
  • promotion
  • free
  • special

Those terms aren’t part of their branding strategy.

Instead, you see a limited quantity of luxury items that are perceived to have a high value.

That’s why they are able to put high price tags on these products.

Conclusion

You can charge more for your products if you change the consumer perception of your brand.

This strategy may require some rebranding if your company has been in business for a while.

Don’t expect to see results right away.

Slowly implement the strategies I described here to your products and start to raise the base prices.

You need to focus your marketing efforts on a narrow target audience.

Less is more.

Produce limited quantities of each item, and limit the buyer’s options within each product line.

Enhance your packaging, and make sure your brand stands by everything you sell.

Celebrity social proof can also make your products appear more valuable.

Sometimes having high prices alone are enough to enhance the perceived value.

Don’t offer any coupons, discounts, or sales promotions if you’re pursuing this strategy.

What steps are you taking to enhance your brand’s image and the perceived value of your products?

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