Social media and eCommerce advertising have been getting quite cosy, with 78% of consumers relying on social media to influence their purchase decision, and where there are potential buyers to be swayed, there are bound to be a lot of businesses competing to do the swaying. On the one hand, this has brought what seems like […]
Social media and eCommerce advertising have been getting quite cosy, with 78% of consumers relying on social media to influence their purchase decision, and where there are potential buyers to be swayed, there are bound to be a lot of businesses competing to do the swaying.
On the one hand, this has brought what seems like a never-ending stream of sponsored content, ads, and self-advertising posts, and on the other, and more to the benefit of the user, an increase in the importance of branding and authentic communication from businesses active on social media.
As users gradually develop ad blindness and become more discerning, advertisers have to not only focus on the quality of their campaigns but that of their overall communication strategies. Often times, the casual Facebook user can be more knowledgeable about platform trends and best practices than the brands they follow, or rather, than the people managing brand pages, leading to sub-par communication, deterioration of the brand’s image and, ultimately, a decline in sales or, at the very least, well below the eCommerce store’s full potential.
If you manage an eCommerce store’s social media account or have someone who’s doing it for you, here are some of the things you might want to keep an eye on if you want your investment to pay off.
It might have been relatively effective 5 years ago and tolerable 2 years ago but, at this point, asking people to Please like and share every single one of your posts is right up there with panhandling and here’s why; if people like what you’ve posted they’ll like or share it without you having to tell them to do so and if your content is rubbish or simply doesn’t relate to your audience, they’re not going to react anyway. Some repeat offenders confuse this spamming-type of behaviour with a call to action but make no mistake, it is nothing more than spam.
If you’re not getting the engagement you’re looking for on your posts, targeting, audience and post quality are the first things you should be looking at, not whether or not you’ve asked people to react to your posts. No, spelling it in all caps, doesn’t help either, it does however make it sound like you’re screaming your lungs out at your audience. The issue isn’t just that you’re wasting valuable content real estate but that you’re likely annoying your audience with spam, rather than replacing it with clever calls to action.
I don’t know about you, but I think Desigual is doing pretty good without asking people to “LIKE and SHARE”.
No-one is too old for fairytales…Posted by Desigual on Sunday, 10 January 2016
No-one is too old for fairytales…
Posted by Desigual on Sunday, 10 January 2016
Because we’ve gotten so used to them, people tend to use hashtags as a statement or to highlight a state of mind, as a fun sort of way to garnish their posts. Where it might be fun to do this as an inside joke, when brands start to do it on a regular basis they not only miss the entire point of using hashtags but tend to look clueless. Contrary to popular belief, hashtags are not the hip equivalent of punctuation. In very simple terms, they are labels that identify things that relate to each other, making it easier for people to find them.
A Starbucks store nestled between two continents. #WhereInTheWorld pic.twitter.com/k7nFMbo0Mu— Starbucks Coffee (@Starbucks) January 6, 2016
A Starbucks store nestled between two continents. #WhereInTheWorld pic.twitter.com/k7nFMbo0Mu
— Starbucks Coffee (@Starbucks) January 6, 2016
A simple analogy would be to think about them as distinctive labels that correspond to all of your spoons, forks and knives, with other subsets which, in turn, correspond to teaspoon spoons, fish forks and stake knives and so on. Following the analogy, the purpose of the fork hashtag is to help you find other content related to forks and the subsets allow you to discover more specific types of content.
Using hashtags effectively involves understanding not just what they are and how they work but their popularity. Twitter offers a list of trending hashtags from the get-go but there are plenty of tools to help you discover what hashtags people are using.
Therefore, coming up with your own hashtags can be an asset so long as it relates to something people understand and you’re not the only one using it. Event or campaign-specific hashtags are great if awareness is built beforehand and you encourage people to use them during the event as well, allowing you to track updates related to the event and engage with participants.
Last, but by no means least, the key to effectively using hashtags is moderation. Depending on the social media platform you use, pick 3 to 5 relevant hashtags, and don’t try to use every single broad one you can think of in the faint hope of getting a few extra impressions. It’s blue, it’s confusing, it’s the social media equivalent of keyword stuffing and it makes the poster look like they’re grasping at straws.
I think we’re well past the point where we naively believe brands are active on social media to help us do anything other than buy their services and/ or products, and that’s perfectly fine. On the other side of the fence, most brands have understood that they have to deliver something other than products on social media in order to grab and, more importantly, keep the attention of their audience focused on them.
You don’t have to be a yogi to twist this cookie. Show us how you twist with #PlayWithOreo.A photo posted by OREO (@oreo) on Apr 7, 2015 at 8:52am PDT
You don’t have to be a yogi to twist this cookie. Show us how you twist with #PlayWithOreo.
A photo posted by OREO (@oreo) on Apr 7, 2015 at 8:52am PDT
eCommerce stores, in particular, seem to suffer from a chronic case of limited time offer-itis, huge sale syndrome and, considering their post alternatives, are convinced that the way to treat these conditions is through #dailyinspiration. How many times a week can you seriously expect posts “borrowed” from Google images to provide any sort of engagement, especially if you’re selling hubcaps and you’re constantly posting e-cards.
Posting for the sake of posting means you’re delivering content with the goal of populating people’s feeds rather than communicating with them, therefore, the quality of your messaging will be sub-par. What’s more, even if your post is successfully engaging your audience, like memes often do, unless they’re in any way related to your business or product, you’re providing non-branded entertainment that’s working for your audience but not for your business. In this case, it won’t make any difference whether they’re getting it from you or the next brand, so what’s the real value of delivering it in the first place?
Driven by their desire to advertise every chance they get, a lot of brands try to use every single piece of content real estate they have to deliver promos, discounts, coupons and whatnot. The saddest victim of this insatiable desire to use up every inch of available space is the social media cover, most frequently the Facebook cover.
For many, Facebook is the first social media channel they used for advertising and there really was a time when Facebook covers worked as a surrogate billboard…4 years ago. Then Facebook was gracious enough to let us pick and choose the ways we want to advertise on the platform.
The point of having a nifty cover on Facebook, or any other social media account for that matter, is to enhance your branding. There are so many clever ways of showcasing your brand’s personality and creativity through social media covers and, hopefully, small and medium brands will start to use this asset to their advantage, as well.
Posted by Aïshti on Tuesday, 5 January 2016
Since we’re talking about advertising, do make sure you check your seasonal or limited-time campaigns. Have you been advertised fashion-forward brand pages by means of visuals featuring nice, warm mittens? In May?
If you know yourself to be forgetful, set an end date to your ads, especially if they feature seasonal products or visuals. Most often, page managers forget to update visuals advertising the page itself, since they might have multiple versions running and it’s relatively easy to miss a tiny thumbnail featuring a beach, promoting your page and its boatload of seasonal ski trip offers.
Similarly, make sure you sync the start date of your sales campaign with that of the one advertising it, otherwise you’ll be paying to drive people to your website only to slap them with a 404 right across their open wallets, and a disappointed potential buyer, might not be a returning visitor.
Specialists have been warning us for quite a while now – social media platforms can no longer be treated as simple advertising environments. They have become effective channels of communication between businesses and individuals across all industries and levels of digital competency and communication strategies have to be adapted accordingly, if businesses have any hope in building authentic relationships with their consumers, lasting beyond the occasional scroll through their newsfeeds.
Expectations and the reality of what a brand new website or redesign can do, can often be light-years apart. Increase in sales, lower marketing costs and a boom in popularity are among the most anticipated outcomes of a new website, but are they realistic?
New things and great expectations go hand in hand and very few things are as pumped up as a business owner with a brand new website. This is it folks. You’ve searched far and wide to find the perfect web agency to fulfill your every whim, you’ve been patient through all the long and tedious development stages, you’ve paid hand over fist to see your “baby” come to life and now it’s time to reap the rewards! cue epic victory score composed, or at least, inspired by Hans Zimmer. This is the moment your business changes forever, except it won’t. Not really.
Misconceptions about what a website actually is and does lead to unrealistic expectations which, in turn, lead business owners and/ or managers to blame agencies or designers for their eCommerce store’s less-than-stellar performance, rather than admit that either the Internet simply doesn’t work the way they’d like it to, or that they’ve simply been sabotaging themselves. If you don’t want to be sorely disappointed, here’s what you shouldn’t expect from your website.
Probably the biggest misconception regarding websites is that they’re supposed to be “pretty” and “liked”. Nothing could be farther from the truth. A website, be it an eCommerce store, blog, portfolio, etc is functional. It’s there to sell, communicate, showcase and sometimes a bit of everything and a few more things in between and statistics show you’ve got little over half a second to help your audience form an opinion about your website. It’s not there for you to like or judge from an aesthetic point of view. Even so, every single business owner tries to get their own ideas, examples, sketches, childhood dreams through the proverbial door and into their website.
It’s precisely this sense of ownership that prevents clients from distancing themselves from the project and letting designers and developers do their jobs. There’s a fine line between telling the designer or agency what you need and telling them what you want and how to do it. It’s a bit like going to the emergency room with a busted arm and telling the doctor you’d like a chevron stitch with baby pink thread. Oh and you simply must have a bare minimum of 4.
Often businesses are the architects of their own failures when it comes to website design. It’s true that agencies give into client demands rather than invest more time in trying to talk them out of wrong decisions, which is why it’s extremely important to turn to someone who can properly advise you and not someone who’ll simply do as their told. A good designer will give you what you need, whether you like it or not.
Well now that we have this gorgeous website with no less than 5 banners on one page and 3 contact form on another, which by the way is an awful idea, we can stop pouring so much money into marketing and start saving up, right? After all, we’ve just paid a random amount of money for this magnificent hunk of website. If you’ve gone for a website redesign in an effort to cut down on your marketing costs, you’re about to find out just how lonely a place the Internet can be.
Your brand new website suffers from the same acute condition every other web domain does, namely the issue of discoverability. Regardless of how functional, pretty, innovative your website is, having those attributes only helps once users visit your website and for that they, obviously have to discover it. The effects of a redesign are apparent much sooner when applied to users who are frequent visitors and access it directly but take, what may seem like eons, for new visitors.
And here’s where your marketing campaigns come into play. Contrary to popular opinion, an online marketing campaign’s primary purpose isn’t to sell an arbitrary sum of things. It’s main objective is to find and effectively use the overlap between your product or service and your audience’s needs and, in finding this sweet spot, make you stand out within your market segment. No website, no matter how wonderful can advertise itself. However, an effective marketing campaign identifies the people who want/ need your product and brings them to your website, while the website captures and converts said traffic into sales. Which brings us to the next misconception.
I’ve mentioned that part of a website’s job description is to capture and convert traffic. Still, this doesn’t mean that your brand new website will automatically make you filthy rich simply by being there. Confused yet? Let me explain. If you’re starting an eCommerce business from scratch, you will, in time, see an increase in sales thanks to your online shop. That’s because, since we’re talking about a new business, any amount of sales represents an increase when compared to nothing. Things are quite different when it comes to redesigns.
The latter is a process that involves understanding what users are doing on the old website, what features or lack of features are chasing away potential customers, determining how the business can be better represented, how to build a better experience for your visitors and many other factors we’ll get into in a later article. This is probably the stage where most businesses sabotage themselves in part because they press their personal preferences on the design and development team without fully understanding what they’re doing but mostly, and this is the saddest bit, because service providers are either too lazy or to complacent to explain their decision-making process and talk clients out of bad choices. An important statistic to mention at this point is that research shows 94% of people cited web design as the reason they mistrusted or rejected a website, which is why design and development teams doing their jobs right is so important for you and your business.
If, and I have to stress the if, done right a redesign will increase your sales by simply being less disruptive to the user’s experience and being better at converting traffic. However, there are issues that a redesign can’t fix. If your product is overpriced, a flashy website likely won’t dupe visitors into spending more on the exact same product and neither will it wipe clean a horrific reputation. What it can do, is showcase the benefits that justify the higher prices and slowly but steadily, help you build trust between the business and its potential customers by being more transparent, offering more secure payment options and professional customer support.
Of course, a responsive and functional website is not cheap and a substantial investment can blur the line between hopes and the actual potential of your new website. This is why it’s extremely important for design and development teams to accurately outline what the business owner can expect from their website, its goals and for business managers and owner to let these teams do their jobs. Why? Because in a world in which over $1 trillion in all retail sales per year are web-influenced, can you really afford to have a website you enjoy more than your potential customers?
At the foundation of every successful eCommerce store lies a great product. However, without a proper description, customers will never get to know how great your product is, let alone purchase it. Find out how to write product descriptions that showcase and sell your products.
In very simple terms, there are two actions performed when someone tries to sell a product, showing it and describing it. Along with adequate product photos, product descriptions are, for all intents and purposes, an eCommerce shop’s salesman. Forget about site speed, SEO and special offers.
If your product descriptions are dismal, your sales figures will follow suite. Why? It’s quite simple if you think about it. In a brick and mortar shop, an attendant will be able to explain the product’s features, its usefulness, emphasize its quality, etc. On an eCommerce shop, product descriptions perform that function and since there’s no actual rapport with the potential customer, they have to be even more persuasive. Let’s look at a few ways you can write kick-ass descriptions that actually sell.
Business owners tend to get caught up in a “numbers game” when it comes to anything related to eCommerce or online advertising. They obsessively count how many visitors they’ve had, how many likes they’ve earned and how many people have shared or commented on their posts, focusing more on the figures and reach, rather than their worth. The difficult truth is, most of the time, there are maybe a few thousand people worldwide who are interested in a business’ constant updates and even less actual buyers. Find them! No, really, find them. Understand who they are, what they do, what they like and, most importantly, what they need so you can fulfill that need.
Defining buyer personas means much more than acquiring demographics on your target audience. It extends to understanding them, being able to predict what cultural references they respond to, what movies they like, what affects their shopping habits, etc. Buyer personas offer structured insight about your target audience giving you actionable information. The more detailed they are, the more you’ll be able to tailor your content in a way that reaches and motivates your target audience specifically.
Big brands have big identity manuals, small businesses that play it by ear have the worst case of personality disorder you’ll ever see. eCommerce business owners mistakenly believe that branding manuals are something you graduate to as your business grows. The truth is that a brand identity should, in a perfect world, be defined before you even start a business and has absolutely nothing to do with how big your store is, how many products or visitors it has.
Giving your brand an identity means giving it a form, function and voice. Its purpose is to establish who it is, what it inspires, how it wants the audience to perceive it. If it were a person, you’d have to instruct it what to wear, down to the tailoring and colours, how and what to say about your business, what jokes to tell, etc. Knowing who your brand is means you can be consistent throughout not just your product descriptions but your messages across all channels, as well. Not to mention that when analyzed in conjunction with detailed buyer personas, it can help you bridge the gap between how consumers perceive your business and the image you want to portray.
Now that you know who you are and you’ve got a good idea of who your customers are, you can meet their needs with convincing unique selling propositions. If you don’t already know, figure out and detail the benefits of each product, preferably in a manner that solves a problem your audience has. It might seem self-explanatory to you but, then again, it’s your business. Be careful not to dumb it down too much and end up sounding condescending.
Don’t sell the product, sell the experience.
Unfortunately, many eCommerce shops take the safe route and list a bunch of features without explaining them or putting them in a context the consumer can relate to. Sure, saying your strawberry jam contains organic strawberries is useful but your odds of making a potential customer’s mouth water are much higher if you say your homemade, 100% organic strawberry jam has a wonderful velvety texture. Regardless if you’re a manufacturer or retailer, remember, you’re not selling a run-of-the-mill product, you’re selling an experience.
Some people like to spend a lot of time window-shopping and some don’t. Some like to read every single detail but most people just skim the content. Research conducted by the Nielsen Norman Group shows that only 16% of people read content word by word. If you’re second-guessing your commitment to detailed, custom, targeted product descriptions because only 16% will read it all, don’t. No description means you can’t emphasize the benefits of buying your product and half-assed content will only detract from the trust consumers have in your business and product because, let’s face it, if you don’t care about your products, why should they?
Skimming simply means you have to make it easier for key features to stand out and, most importantly, that you put yeah,yeah phrases(the filler-content one adds when one has absolutely nothing useful to say) in the trash, where they belong. Using short and relevant phrases, bullet-points and a clean design are just a few ways in which you can make your content easier to read.
Having a personality isn’t worth much if you don’t show it off. Retailers in particular tend to settle for whatever the manufacturer provides them or simply outline product features in a bland, all-too-familiar list. While this might be better than nothing and does provide your customer with an inkling into what the product might do for them, eCommerce studies have shown that 20% of abandoned purchases can be attributed to incomplete or unclear product information.
The way you package your information is just as important as the information itself.
This is the part where understanding your customers is essential. Knowing what your target audience needs and responds to means you can meet the demand accurately. While eCommerce shops make products accessible around the clock, the draw-back is that images and descriptions are the only way potential buyers can experience products, making sensory words the cornerstone of effective descriptions.
We all know that a tailored suit or a bespoke piece of jewelry is more expensive than a store-bought one because you pay not only for the craftsmanship but for the experience of owning something that is made especially for you, as well. This expectation somehow flies out the window when it comes to copywriting. Business owners discard the value of custom-crafted content in favor of default manufacturer descriptions or even worse, looking into content-generation software, amounting to keyword littering and incoherent text. Not only is this insulting to an entire industry but it’s one of the worst things a business manager can do.
You get what you’ve paid for.
Just like any other service, the quality of the final product is directly proportional to your investment. If you’d rather not spend money on a copywriter then do it yourself, but understand that it will take time, practice and you’ll have to be very adaptable in order to come up with good-quality material. I for one, would much rather read an honest description written by a beginner than an impersonal, repetitive list.
Consumers look to your product images and descriptions in order to find the value of your product and justify its price. What you show them and what you tell them should convey what the product is, what it does, why it does it better than any other product, why they need it and how it will make their lives better. Nobody will ever spend money on something they don’t understand or perceive to be as valuable as its price tag. At best, they’ll look to fulfill their need somewhere else. In either case, you’ve lost their business, not because your product wasn’t up to par but because your presentation of it was found wanting.
Every single business wants to stand out from the competition and the truth is, there’s plenty of it. The most important thing you have to remember is that if you always settle for the bare minimum, if average is always good enough, that’s all your business can ever hope to be – average.
Is posting the nauseatingly repetitive “Happy Birthday” the best you can do on social media for your friends’ birthday?
It wasn’t too long ago when wishing someone Happy Birthday involved actively seeking them out, in person or at least on the phone. In our fast-paced social era, that personal touch; the meetup, the hug, the smiles, have been replaced by impersonal wall posts or direct messages.
Instead of improving the way we connect and communicate with others, many believe that social networks are turning us into intellectually lazy copycats. But is it really the network or is it us?
Obviously, not everybody is disinterested or intellectually lazy, so why do we eagerly participate in this exercise of socially-acceptable spamming? For the same reason we take part in other activities we don’t necessarily agree with, peer pressure. Starting with the platform itself urging you to Write on Jack’s wall or Send Annie a message, to the pressure created by seeing so many people actually doing it, we’re guilted into following suit or risk offending our friends. On the other side of the equation, we have the birthday boy or girl, who then has to go through each repetitive post, like it and comment on it; because simply posting “Thanks everyone for your wishes” is so last season.
I admit, I’ve taken part in this silly ritual a lot of times and, eventually, I stopped and asked myself, why in the name of all thing rational am I doing this? And the answer is simple: because everyone else is. But this isn’t what online social interaction is supposed to be about. Our generation is afforded the privilege of having the tools to remember important dates in our friends’ lives and be there for them so don’t let that go to waste. Here are a couple of ideas to inspire your next birthday wishes.
Nothing says “You’re important to me” like having people they admire wish them the best on their very special day. Radu Chelariu of Sickdesigner.com did just that for his good friend and code ninja; Liviu Dobre. For Liviu’s 30th birthday, Radu asked well-known designers and developers to record a short video wishing him “Happy birthday” and created montage for the occasion. Now, these guys had never met Liviu and some of them didn’t even know Radu but, to their credit, they were real troopers and came through.
You can choose to pamper yourself, have a roaring party, relax at a resort or take the opportunity to raise awareness about something that really matters to you. Beth Kanter celebrated her 53rd birthday by using the power of social media to benefit cambodian children. Beth asked her friends and family to donate $10 or $53 to help send children to school. 142 people made Beth’s wish come true in what must have been a really inspiring birthday.
Social media is your very own soap box so why not take a page out of the Michael J. Morgan book of putting-Facebook-to-good-use and tell people exactly what you want. Not wanting to read repetitive posts, void of any meaning or emotion, two days before his birthday, Michael posted this on his wall:
My birthday is on the 4th. Instead of saying, ‘Happy Birthday’ share your fondest memory of you and I.
Starting with his mom, his family and friends took him on a trip down memory lane that was truly meaningful.
Peer pressure is a bully that rears its ugly head both offline and online but I think it’s important to remember that beyond the social media voyeurism and sheepish mentality there are real relationships that thrive thanks to the easy access social networks afford. In other words, you’ve got the tools, what you do with them is entirely up to you.