As a previous owner of three online businesses, I’ve learned what does and doesn’t work when it comes to using promotions and offers. Offers are a great tool to increase conversions, foster eCommerce customer loyalty and drive long-term business value. It’s easy to create an offer and drive short-term sales, but it takes a considered approach to drive both short term and long term business value. Today I’ll share some concepts and offers that can be used by online retailers to drive eCommerce customer loyalty.
It’s a startling statistic that it costs a business between five and 25 times more to acquire a new customer compared to hanging on to an existing customer.
As you hold on to that thought, consider this. Existing customers spend 67% more on products and services compared to their new counterparts.
In short, it pays to harvest eCommerce customer loyalty. But what is customer loyalty?
eCommerce customer loyalty can take many forms. A simple definition for a loyal customer is “a customer who returns and transacts with the same business despite other choices being available.” So what makes a customer loyal?
We know that customers can vary broadly, and eCommerce customer loyalty is driven by different aspects of a business and the products or services offered. If we were to distill it down to a simple summary, we could say that “eCommerce Customer Loyalty manifests itself with the customer returning to the same trusted online retailer because they like the products/services and feel they offer good value”. So the three key ingredients are:
They trust you
They like (or need) what you offer
They feel you offer good value
A large base of loyal customers, reinforcing their purchasing decisions and helping others discover new offerings with social proof such as reviews, will provide your business with a solid foundation of loyal, repeat customers returning to your online store time and again. This is the secret ingredient and backbone of all retail success.
With the fast-paced, constantly evolving world of online retail, where consumer habits and demands seemingly change daily, building and nailing eCommerce customer loyalty doesn’t come easy.
That said, one tried and tested method of encouraging and cultivating valuable eCommerce customer loyalty is with the use of discounts, coupons and rewards (for simplicity we’ll just call them offers).
Creating short term business value using offers is simple. You can easily create an offer today using many of LemonStand’s built-in discount and promotion features and/or integrate with other apps where needed.
Creating long term business value requires a little more effort, because the drivers or enablers are not as clear, but the time spent working out how to leverage offers to drive long term business value will pay dividends if executed correctly. By way of example, creating long-term, reusable social proof content in the form of product reviews, can be used to help convert both first time and returning customers.
In this article we’ll highlight some of the things you should consider when using offers and share some of the most effective strategies to drive both short and long-term customer loyalty and conversions. First off we’ll look at some potential pitfalls.
Things to Consider When Using Offers
One of the biggest challenges for any online business is balancing the value of offers with their frequency. One of the greatest pitfalls of any promotional offer campaign is creating an offer dependency, with the result that customers only purchase when there is a valid promotion campaign running. This may result in:
Decreased overall profitability and margin erosion
Reduced organic sales and conversions outside offer campaign periods
Decreased customer loyalty due to attracting price-driven bargain hunters
Possible brand dilution, being only associated with offers
A study by Standford University confirms what most of us already thought – it’s the thought that counts, not the value of the offer that’s important. Often a token gesture is enough for most customers to feel appreciated and recognized for their loyalty.
The last item that is often overlooked is whether the discount/coupon entry field is visible on your checkout pages. Simply having it displayed, even when an offer isn’t active, can prompt a full paying customer, to ask for an offer code. This can easily result in at best a delayed sale and worst case, an abandoned sale as a result of the customer dissatisfaction. We would recommend hiding any discount fields if there is are no active offer campaigns running.
Building Short and Long term Business Value Using Offers
Whilst there are a ton of ways to use discounts, coupons, sales and other promotions, here are five ways offers can be used intelligently to drive conversions, eCommerce customer loyalty and build business value in the process.
Customer loyalty offer
Abandoned cart recovery
Increase order value
1. Onboarding offer
The start of the loyal customer journey starts with their first purchase with your business. A first time shopper joining offer could be the nudge they need. It builds immediate loyalty and is targeted, so doesn’t erode your existing customer base profitability, however you will need to ensure that your existing loyal customer base is being provided alternative offers for being long term customers.
Example: LemonStand customer Whiskyloot offers new subscribers to their monthly subscription of curated Whisky taster bottles a free 4th bottle in their first shipment.
Whiskyloot first time offer
2. Customer loyalty offer
A general customer loyalty offer is a core pillar to reinforcing and building a stronger brand bond with your loyal customer base.
The customer loyalty offer should ideally promote ‘exclusivity’ for the customers who have already spent money with you, thus reinforcing they are special and unique.
Offers can be tailored and segmented based on customer spend or purchase frequency. Offer urgency can also be generated with something like a special ‘1-day only’ deep discount exclusively for them. These offers should be used sparingly, so not to erode organic sales and profitability, but be frequent enough to remain in the customers awareness. Use them as unexpected surprises or run these promotions during the common season offer periods, achieving several objectives in a single campaign.
Example: LemonStand customer Cirkul has created a points program called the Inner Cirkul – where their customers can earn loyalty points that can be redeemed for free branded products and where their most loyal customers also get exclusive access to other special offers and freebies.
Cirkul’s “Inner Cirkul” Loyalty Program and Rewards
3. Review generation
With 90% of consumers reading online reviews before visiting a brand’s website, and 88% of consumers trusting online reviews as much as personal recommendations, customer reviews are tantamount to retail success in the digital era.
Generating social proof content, such as product reviews, provides your business with tangible long term value. It creates reusable content that you own the rights to and helps create credibility and trust with both new and existing customers.
HelpfulCrowd, one of the newest apps on LemonStand, enables you to automatically collect product reviews delivering industry leading review collection rates, boosted even higher when coupled with an offer, such as LemonStands discount features.
What if you could collect a review, say thank you and provide an offer to build customer loyalty and repeat business?
Now you can, with HelpfulCrowd’s thank you email templates – one for positive reviews and one for critical reviews.
This is how it works:
HelpfulCrowd automatically sends an email review request to your customer after purchase
Customer completes a review, that can be displayed anywhere on your site
HelpfulCrowd automatically sends out a positive or critical ‘thank you email’ on your behalf
Different offers can be included in the thank you email templates and the review request and the thank you templates can scripted in your brand’s unique personality and tone, showing your appreciation on a more personal level, something that contemporary consumers appreciate.
Example of thank you email in response to critical review
Timing – not too soon or late with sequence follow-up
Copy – sincere, information collecting, compelling
Offer – relevant
To be fair, an offer does not need to be extended immediately. You can wait to get feedback on why the customer left the items in the cart. This is also useful to gather more customer feedback on purchase barriers, so that you can finetune and adjust. Once you understand the customers reasons, you can then tailor a relevant offer that helps convert them from a shopper to a customer.
Example: Topo Designs used MailChimp’s abandoned cart automation to re-engage over 20% of lost customers.
Topo Designs Cart Abanbondment Email Example
5. Increase Order Value
Nudging your customer to increase their total basket value is an effective upsell technique to encourage customers to spend more, boosting average order value.
As with any offer, it will be sector or segment specific, but a great way to increase basket value as well as increase brand and loyalty value is to offer free shipping if the total value of the shopping cart is over a certain amount. Ironically, one of the biggest reasons for cart abandonment in checkout is due to extra costs, like shipping, being too high, another great reason to offer free shipping.
What should that value be?
An easy way to work out what the shopping cart value should be is to simply look at what the current average order value is, say over the last three months. If you’ve already been running offers in this period, be sure to ‘gross up’ the average value by the average value per order you’ve given away over the same period. Be sure to also exclude any taxes in this calculation. You can then set the free shipping offer to be available at 10 to 20% of the average order value.
Example: LemonStand powered fashion retailer Gentle Fawn offers free shipping on all orders over $150.
Gentle Fawn Free Shipping on Orders over $150 offer.
Every business is different and there’s no ‘one size fits all’ approach. Not all offers may be right for your business.
One of the best ways to find out what works and doesn’t is to experiment, or even undertake some A/B testing.
And remember, whenever using offers try to deliver on both short and long term business value, whether it be by generating content, acquiring new customers or retaining those that have already paid you money.
Now it’s over to you. Share what secret offer strategies you’ve had success with and recommend for your business.
Domains are a precious, finite resource. In today’s competitive realm of business naming, it can be difficult to find a domain name for your business that is available. In most cases, if you want to find a domain name that is the exact match for your business name, it will not be available. Even Tesla used the URL TeslaMotors.com for a few years before purchasing Tesla.com.
When starting a business, you want to find the best domain name that you can. However, not every exact match is available, and if it is, the price tag might be high. Still, there is a creative way to get around that–using a domain phrase!
To find a domain name for your business, there are several ways to get around the issues that domain scarcity creates. Here are some of the most popular:
Using a non .com extension such as .io, .ly, .com.au, .co, and more
Inserting an industry add-on such as TeslaMotors.com or BentAgency.com
Front side add-ons like ByMason.com or HelloBonsai.com
But there is another way, too, that is arguably just as effective, perhaps even more memorable, and definitely more fun. You can come up with an engaging phrase to find a domain name that sets up and frames your business name.
What is a domain phrase?
A domain phrase is an add on to the business name in the URL that creates a phrase out of the name like TrySwell.com, SquareUp.com, or SteamPowered.com. Generally, this is an actionable phrase. A domain phrase has the potential to set up your brand and frame the audience’s expectation of your website.
When naming a business, some people worry that without an exact match domain, their website will be impossible to find. This is just not true. Put some faith in the intelligence of your customers and their ability to use Google.
If they’re looking for your shampoo brand called Clarity, but Clarity.com takes them to a finance business, they probably will not give up immediately. A quick Google search for Clarity Shampoo will take them to your site.
Why use a domain phrase to find a domain name?
Ideally, every business owner wants to find a domain name that is an exact match for their business name. However, exact matches are often unavailable or very pricey. Domain phrases, while they do add on length to a domain, are more memorable than some other types of add ons.
When you consider the positive impact a memorable phrase has on aiding memorability, it negates the drawbacks of added length. Because the words in the phrase set up the name, the length is not an issue. In some cases, using a phrase is even shorter than using an industry add-on.
For example, TryChameleon.com is the domain name that the startup Chameleon uses. Because the domain Chameleon.com wass taken, they had to find some way to incorporate their exact name into their domain.
However, a domain like ChameleonProductGuidance.com is long and somewhat difficult to remember. TryChameleon.com is strong because it is short, was available, and it prompts an action from visitors.
Plenty of startups use domain phrases to find a domain name and avoid complications with pricey domains and taken names. A phrase-based domain will not hinder your growth (too much). These days, many business resort to phrase domains so they can use their strong business name without compromising spelling or resorting to a non .com extension.
Domain phrases in action
We have cultivated a list of successful businesses that used a phrase-based approach to find a domain name and slotted them into two categories–Power Phrases and Call to Action Phrases. Here’s what they are and why they work.
Power phrases are domain phrases that attach a brand name to a phrase that frames the brand.
Square is a credit card processing point of sale system that is used by thousands of businesses. Their mission is to empower sellers of all sizes to grow their businesses through affordable, easy card-reading technology. “Square Up” is a concise, memorable, and existing phrase that refers to paying or settling a bill. Thus, the domain SquareUp.com functions perfectly by aligning with the brand, remaining short, and sticking in people’s minds using a familiar phrase.
Flip is a sneaker-auctioning platform that allows people to sell their kicks. Flip is an energetic name that refers to the buying and selling of the sneakers as well as excitement. The domain JustFlip.com excites and entices audiences.
Bento, a marketing tool, offers insights and streamlined management of marketing processes. It replaces the need for 4-5 separate tools and parcels everything into one place (like a bento box.)
BentoNow.com is utilizes a powerful phrase that captures the convenience and time-saving aspects of Bento.
Steam is a popular entertainment platform by Valve Corp. that gives gamers access to thousands of games. The domain SteamPowered.com captures a sense of drive and energy. It refers to mechanics and reminds people of steam engines. As such, rather than framing steam as just water vapor, the domain helps present the name as something that powers and drives.
Call to Action Phrases
Call to Action phrases invite website visitors to act on the service or product the business is selling.
Ruby Receptionists uses remote receptionists to manage their clients’ clients. They are committed to supporting small businesses and create great first impressions and meaningful connections for the businesses they service. CallRuby.com is a short, sweet, memorable domain. It invites an action and provides a sense of support through the domain–you can call Ruby, and she will help you. Instantly, the domain and name convey a sense of personability and aid.
Grace is directory that helps people find quality hospice care providers in their area. Because Grace is a short name that is also a real English word, the domain Grace.com was already taken. MeetGrace.com is a great alternative because it is welcoming and hospitable while inviting a sense of peace and assurance.
Chronos is a smart disc that attaches to the back of any watch to allow fitness tracking, music control, notification alerts, and phone location. Because this device is something you wear, WearChronos.com works. It prompts visitors to interact with the product in a meaningful way.
Trusted is a Care.com company that helps parents find trusted child care providers. The phrase UseTrusted.com carries through a sense of trust. It suggests it own service with a sense of authority and connects back to the value of the parents who are seeking childcare–they should Use Trusted child care providers.
Phrase based domains help enhance recall ,and they can frame your brand. If you’re struggling to find a domain name that is available, applying phrases to your business name can help. Try coming up with a few different phrases you might be able to use for your own business name, then see which domains are available.
Not finding an exact match domain does not have to stop you from naming a business what you want to name it. Domain phrases are a great option for businesses that need a domain for their name when they’re having trouble securing the exact match. Phrases can eliminate or reduce the need for a domain budget while creating memorable, engaging domains.
Once upon a time — in 2010, to be specific — Instagram was nothing but another social platform filled with pictures of cats, food, and selfies. About 50 million users “lived” there, and no marketer ever thought of making money with it. But then, in 2012, Mark Zuckerberg came and turned Instagram into the platform connecting brands with customers. Now Instagram welcomes 1 billion monthly active users, releases dozens of new tools for businesses, and has 58x more engagement per follower than Facebook. In this article we share 11 in depth tips and examples on how to design your eCommerce page on Instagram for your inspiration.
It stands to reason that many brands, especially online retailers, give up other social media platforms to focus on Instagram.
Instagram is about visual content, so it gives eCommerce brands massive opportunities to showcase their products. Millions of businesses have got it already, making Instagram an essential component of their marketing strategy.
About 72% of Instagram users are active online shoppers. It makes the platform a powerful instrument for reaching and engaging a broader audience. The more engaged audience, the more sales. Right?
Specifically, they can design Instagram accounts to make their eCommerce pages more visually appealing.
Do you want users to not only open your business page but also follow you on Instagram? Then fill your profile with actionable and spectacular content! Beautiful and eye-catching designs hook more Instagrammers who you can then turn into customers.
You will see that you don’t need to be a professional designer to impress Instagram users. The content of your eCommerce page on Instagram can cause a big WOW-effect and make subscribers crave more.
Weave a Net
Your marketing success on Instagram depends on eye-catching images. It can take time and effort to source or create them. Worse yet, some marketers are “lucky” enough to promote products or services that seem difficult or impossible to visualize. But if you rely on some basic principles of illustration and graphic design, you can still create an engaging eCommerce page on Instagram.
Place Instagram images in chessboard order, rotating them one by one. For instance, you can mix photos with quotes. Or you can rotate hard images with pastel ones.
Don’t be afraid of the craziest ideas — weave a unique “net” for the images you use for your eCommerce page on Instagram. If you promote an online store, you can mix product photos with text content. Customer feedback or short “how to” manuals will work best here. Just decide on content types that would be most relevant and engaging for your Instagram account.
Another simple yet effective trick to design your eCommerce page on Instagram is to design every row like a separate subject. Feel free to group images by color, style, content types, etc. Like Zara and Tiffany & Co. do:
Vertical lines look great, too. Follow the lead of Aleksey Zozulya, a New-York based photographer:
The same approach works if you place visually alike photos diagonally. As in the case with rows, you can publish three pictures at once. Otherwise, rows will be misaligned and the beauty of your design will disappear.
The “net” format is popular with online shops, fashion designers, beauty and tattoo saloons. To make it work even better, you can mix detail shots with wide shots to build a complete idea of your product or service among customers.
Build a Frame
Frames make a picture more appealing. They allow a user to concentrate on a particular element of the whole image. By framing each photo for your eCommerce page on Instagram, you’ll turn it into a piece of art in the eyes of subscribers.
a) Geometrical frames
Squares, rectangles, cycles — feel free to experiment with forms and see what fits the nature of your eCommerce page on Instagram better. Try frames of different sizes and shapes to place a greater focus on marketing images.
b) Colorful frames
Don’t they look terrific on Instagram accounts?
To create framed pictures, marketers use pre-designed templates or user-friendly editors like BeFunky, Canva, Framatic, and others. These tools have already gained a reputation of SMM specialists and non-designer marketers’ best friends.
Use Image Blocks
Instagram users are challenging to impress today. It seems they’ve seen everything and marketers have no ace in the hole to get their message across effectively. You know that content quality matters, but five in ten social media specialists know it too. To stand out from the crowd, you need to practice an alternative approach for your eCommerce page on Instagram.
One way to do that: Use image blocks.
This design is hard to ignore. Scrolling a beautiful collage on Instagram, users may lose track of time because all visual elements drift into each other seamlessly.
This trick is perfect to use when you promote a blog or content heavy site on Instagram. Prominent columns guide followers through the page; complementary elements of design help them understand what your blog is about.
Here’s a trick to make creating a group of images even easier: cut one image in 9-12 pieces. This trick works great for creating your eCommerce page on Instagram. Puzzles help to cover all elements of a high-converting Instagram ad in one place.
Also, they make it easier to promote photography, illustrations, fashion, and other types of creative projects. Food business, for example. Just take a look at what Reynolds Kitchens and Leal Klots do:
But if you want to post collages and puzzles to your Instagram account, it’s best to know how to work with Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Lightroom or similar tools. They make creating groups of images like this a snap.
Experiment With Colors
Like it or not, the psychology of color remains a must-know aspect for marketers if they want to influence consumers’ perceptions and persuade them to buy. A color palette that you choose for your eCommerce page on Instagram can cause a definite response from people. Keep this in mind when you decide what colors to choose for your Instagram marketing profile.
Also, remember that a human brain can see only three objects at once. That’s why the rule of thirds is so powerful in design, writing, and other spheres of life. Don’t use more than three core colors for profiles on Instagram.
a) Core colors
Black-and-white photos look trendy in many cases but they can be a bit monotonous for an eCommerce page on Instagram. You’re better to focus on several core colors to use in content. See how Sheiku and string & bloom make the most of just a few colors.
Do you have brand colors? Use them for your eCommerce page on Instagram to build awareness and help followers recognize you better. Or, just choose colors that fit your brand image and influence your customers’ perception best.
b) Mood and tone
When you design visual content for Instagram, make sure to use the same settings time after time. It will make all photos look comprehensive and stylish. Whether they are bright or dark or airy-fairy, they need to correspond with the tone of voice of your brand.
a creative yet informative bio with trackable links in it
What makes them stand out is a unique style akaa schtick. It becomes the hook that captures followers and invites newcomers to subscribe.
a) Shooting plan and angle
Choose a shooting angle for all photos on your eCommerce page on Instagram and adhere to it. This trick makes your brand easy to distinguish, especially if you need to stand out from a crowd of similar competitors. See how Ida Frosk and Tiny Planet make the most of this approach:
Cafes, food delivery services, along with makeup and tattoo artists use this technique very successfully.
b) Individual gimmicks
Black-and-white photos, minimalism, pop-art, comics, doodling… You name it! Choose the gimmick that would illustrate the character of your brand best. Designers, illustrators, architects, and painters know this trick and successfully use it to promote their eCommerce page on Instagram.
You can build a visually appealing eCommerce page on Instagram even if you don’t have a professional designer on board. Just use some of the many available and easy to use tools for creating Instagram content, follow the best profiles for inspiration and ideas, try a combination of several design tricks, and don’t be afraid to experiment.
What is your favorite eCommerce page on Instagram? What do you think is the secret behind their success?
Share your thoughts in the comments below to inspire other eCommerce brands and encourage them to take their eCommerce page on Instagram to the next level.
If you’re an advanced eCommerce store owner, you’ve probably already taken advantage of all the low-hanging fruit when it comes to boosting conversions and sales. But if you’re still not hitting the goals you’d like, there’s another level of store improvements that you might be missing out on: eCommerce heatmaps.
These visual representations of user behavior can provide the missing key to see inside the minds of your visitors.
Using a few tried and true strategies, you can learn what your customers are thinking, how they’re responding to your current site, and what their needs and desires are for your store.
Today, you’ll learn how to use eCommerce heatmaps to boost revenue, increase conversions, and improve your entire online shopping experience.
Let’s get started!
An introduction to heatmaps
Let’s start with some definitions.
There are a lot of different types of heatmaps, but the concept is simple. A heatmap shows interaction with varying degrees of intensity. Like a weather map, more frequent interaction is a lighter color (usually red, yellow, or white).
When used for websites, results allow website owners and developers to better understand how the customer is thinking while using the site.
Types of heatmaps
The holy grail of heatmaps is eye tracking software. This is what’s used in academic studies and helps us to understand what people are interested in, where they look, and what holds their attention.
Of course, to track actual eye movement requires specialized equipment.
For example, this awkward set of glasses is the hardware developed by Tobii, one of the industry leaders in eye tracking equipment.
It goes without saying that we can’t apply that level of sophistication to our websites (not yet, anyways). As a result, heapmaps for eCommerce stores use the next best set of data available: customer interaction.
Instead of tracking actual eye movement, these heapmaps track areas the users see, hover, and click.
One of the simplest types of heatmaps is the scroll map. As the name suggests, scroll maps show where the reader has scrolled, with lighter colors indicating more commonly shown areas.
While they don’t provide detailed information on which areas users are likely to find interesting, scroll maps are particularly helpful to see which content blocks cause users to scroll more or less.
It’s also helpful if you tend to use one screen resolution and want to see how much of your content is visible for the average user.
Another type of heatmap is the click map. This shows where users click, with lighter colors indicating the most common links.
This will tell you which links are most popular. It can also tell you how to find areas that are inducing rage clicks, or clicks based on frustration. We’ll discuss this in more detail in a minute.
Another type of heatmaps is known as a hover map. Hover maps show where users have moved their mouse across the screen.
The thinking behind this is that eye movement often follows cursor movement.
We should mention that this isn’t available on mobile devices since users don’t use a mouse. However, you can still make improvements in your mobile marketing strategy with the other types of heatmaps listed.
While the data for clicks is limited, you’ll be able to see more information with hovering capabilities.
Where to find heatmap software
A huge variety of eCommerce tools include a heatmap feature. Here are the most common brands and their general functions. And in case you’re wondering, all of these tools can be integrated to eCommerce platforms like LemonStand.
CrazyEgg includes different types of heatmaps and other conversion tools, such as A/B testing and a built-in editor.
HotJar includes lots of great tools for understanding your users, including heatmaps, visitor recordings, conversion funnel analysis, polls and surveys, and much more.
Sumo includes heatmaps with its other tools. Sumo is mostly known for its list-building tools, like popups and email signup boxes, but it has a basic heatmap tool as well.
Clicktale has a very robust heat map tool designed for enterprise applications. Clicktale is probably best if you’re an established company willing to invest in a program built for a platform of your size.
Mouseflow offers a heatmap tool that’s integrated into a funnel analysis program and life replay feature.
Freshmarketer is part of the Freshworks suite, which means you can get access to dozens of different tools if you choose. If you’re already using part of Freshworks, this will be the simplest integration.
VWO is a complete conversion platform with heatmap capabilities. It’s another enterprise tool used by major corporations like Target, Virgin, and eBay.
Once you’ve decided the type of software to use, integrate it with your store and start examining the data. (You’ll probably want to wait a few days to ensure you have enough data to use.)
There are two things we can do with eCommerce heatmaps—solve existing problems, and make improvements over current site performance.
How to troubleshoot with eCommerce heatmaps
To start off with, we can plug in eCommerce heatmaps to look at the current user flow.
This is where you’ll start to notice a lot of key features and really see where your users are getting lost, where you’re losing out on sales, and errors in site design that might have slipped past your attention.
That’s the beauty of eCommerce heatmaps – they show real user interaction, not what you think users will do when they get to your site.
Fix confusing user flow problems
One of the best ways to use eCommerce heatmaps is to find mistakes or confusing things in your design. These errors in in user interface (UI) or user experience (UX) provide huge insight into lower conversions on your site.
If you’re using a click map, you can find clicks on areas that aren’t links. For example, people were clicking on text that wasn’t clickable on this popup—a large “DOWNLOAD” piece of text that actually wasn’t a link.
To solve this problem, the solution is just to rework or revise this button into something more intuitive. Here was the revised version, which had a better conversion rate:
You can find these areas across your site, where users click on something but aren’t getting the results they expected.
Another issue to look for are what are known as “rage clicks.” These are clicks on something when the results aren’t happening (or aren’t happening fast enough).
You can find these on “loading” buttons or other confusing UI elements. Simple wording tweaks can quickly solve these issues.
For example, this loading message “warming up our engines…” got multiple rage clicks, with users clicking again and again, thinking it wasn’t loading.
A simple wording change fixed the problem. Instead of the creative but ambiguous “warming up our engines,” the new text read “Thanks! You’ll be redirected in a sec.”
By explaining that the page would take a while to load, they reduced rage clicks and made for a better user experience.
Take your audience into consideration
A confusing UX can be a significant problem, especially if you’re attracting an older demographic of customers.
Choose clarity over creativity if your target market is over the age of 55, as is the case with many eCommerce stores. Research has shown that twice as many older visitors failed with basic tasks on a website compared to their younger peers.
If you have a website catering to older visitors, you can also use the principles of familiarity to increase conversions.
Compare your site to similar sites and understand what could make your site more similar. A heat map can help you analyze where visitors think they’re clicking versus what you need to actually click.
Creative design has its place, but if you’re looking for increased conversions, creativity might not be a great strategy. Even amongst younger users, unfamiliar sites take 17% longer to use. Keep things simple and streamlined, and don’t create an entirely unique design.
If you want to improve conversions, sometimes less creativity and a more generic look can actually improve the user flow and allow you to sell more.
One of the more surprising effects of marketing over the long term is that people grow more and more desensitized to ads.
In fact, today, most people are more likely to ignore ads. This is obvious once you start using eCommerce heatmaps to examine your online. You’ll find that your users tend to ignore things that look like banners and ads.
If you an an ecommerce store, what does this mean?
It means that you need to avoid using anything that resembles an ad in your layout design or page. If you’re accustomed to putting “related products” in sidebars that resembles standard banner ads, you might want to experiment with a different strategy.
Here are some of the key areas where you can start to test to stand out with your online store using eCommerce heatmaps.
Improve sales by making things stand out with contrast
Research from Caltech has shown that you can encourage customers to focus on what you’re doing better by using contrasting color.
This is particularly true when customers are in a rush. In other words, you can look at your eCommerce heatmaps for areas where customers seem to be dropping off and experiment by using different colors to emphasize a popular product or the next call to action.
Improve user flow
If you’re not maximizing your above-the-fold content—that is, content that a user can see on your site without scrolling—you’re missing out big time.
This is a great place to see with your scroll map. Look at what users see most often, and move your most valuable products to this area.
On product pages, you’ll of course need to include an “add to cart” button above the fold. But it’s just as important to include other key elements of the checkout process.
You might also include calls to action to get email addresses. These are important so you can send out personalized email campaigns later on to increase conversions and growth.
Maximize each user viewpoint, and you’ll start to see big gains in your eCommerce revenues and conversions.
Move content to the upper-left corner
Research has shown that most people read in an F-shape. That is, they typically read the most at the top, then gradually less throughout the page, starting on the left-hand side with each line.
To that end, you need to make sure you’re focusing your efforts on this area. It’s called the Golden Triangle, based on a 2005 study of Google’s search results , which has been proven to be just as relevant today, and eye tracking.
This heatmap image shows that the vast majority of people see what’s in the Golden Triangle first, so if you’re not maximizing this, you’re really missing out.
Use product photos of real people
eCommerce heatmaps are excellent for split testing different attention-grabbing techniques.
One strategy that’s been shown to work again and again is using pictures of people. Research has shown that we like images of other people.
If you don’t already have product photography with people (particularly showing faces), consider a split test with this type of image. You can also use gaze to direct clicks and focus—a model looking to the left of the screen is more likely to draw attention there.
Improve features users appreciate
Once you see your eCommerce heatmaps, you’ll be able to understand which features on your pages are most attractive to users. With this information, you can start expanding your pages to increase user engagement and draw in more active users to what you have to offer.
A great example of this comes from Bros Leather Supply. Based on their heatmap, it was clear that users preferred their product images.
With this being the case, they added more product photos to increase user engagement, as clear in the updated heat map image.
You might also find that photo size meets the needs of users.
If people are looking for larger photos, this can also be a change with dramatic effects. This larger image attracted multiple eye fixations on eye tracking heatmaps, meaning it’s providing value to viewers.
These heapmaps can help provide insight into what the user is thinking and how he or she would like to interact with your store.
Tying it all together
It you’re growing an eCommerce store, you know that even tiny changes can pay huge dividends when it comes to conversions, sales, and profits.
eCommerce heatmaps are an advanced strategy that will help you improve your online shopping experience, engage users, and increase purchases. Heatmaps show where you can make improvements and boost conversions.
Which eCommerce heatmap strategy will you test first? Share your plans in the comments below!
Video marketing. You used it once to showcase a new product and maybe tried a video blog as part of an email. But it’s not something your brand uses in all of its promotional efforts. This is all about to change.
Incorporating videos into each stage of your marketing funnel can attract customers, educate them, convert them, and keep them coming back for more.
Add this to the fact that many customers are independently navigating themselves through the buying process and it’s clear that video needs to become a fundamental part of all marketing campaigns. It shouldn’t be seen as a separate channel.
With all of this in mind, we’ve taken a look at how video can be integrated into each stage of your marketing funnel.
Understanding the Marketing Funnel
So what does a marketing funnel actually look like?
Traditionally, marketing practices have been built around the following funnel: Awareness, Consideration, and Purchase.
However, these traditional tactics fail to include retention, which is a huge part of any marketing strategy and is a key area that video marketing can impact.
Campaign Monitor has suggested that the new marketing funnel is one that covers the traditional practices (Awareness, Engagement, Consideration, and Purchase) but also includes Adoption, Retention, Expansion, and Advocacy.
With 500 million people watching videos on Facebook each day, it’s not hard to see why social videos are key to driving awareness and engagement. They’re easy to digest, help inform, and save users time in their buying journey.
What type of videos should you be posting, then?
Here are some ideas:
Company Culture Videos: Give customers an insight into your company, introducing them to the “quirky” team, your offices, and your fun, down-to-earth culture.
Product Videos: Introduce them to your product and what makes it so unique, perhaps using a customer’s viewpoint. For example, if you offer a service, use a day-in-the-life style video to show how it makes such a difference to customers’ lives.
Influencer Videos: Use industry superstars or experts to showcase your product. This also allows you to leverage their huge following.
These types of videos will also work well for SEO-driven video marketing content. For example, add them to a relevant landing page using key search terms, use them as part of in-depth blog posts, or create a video instead of a blog post (this is particularly useful for more complex or popular topics).
Consideration: What Solution Do You Offer?
Customers are now aware that they need help solving a problem so they are starting to do some research. You want to help them in this decision-making process but you don’t want to unleash the hard sell.
Instead, you need to provide helpful information on how your product works, how you’re an expert in your industry, and why you’re a trusty, go-to source of information.
You need to educate your customers by gaining their attention and giving them everything they need to make their decision (without directly saying “buy this now!”).
Here are some ideas:
Vlogs: Start with those topics you know best and talk to your customers about them. Just be sure to maintain the right balance between your expertise and customer interest.
How-to Videos: These videos allow you to showcase your expertise while providing people who are just starting out in your field with the information they’re looking for. They’re also great for boosting your SEO.
Webinars: Use webinars to inform people about those topics you’re an expert in. Then, repurpose some of this content by using snippets of information that people can find when they’re in a hurry.
Leadership Interviews: Video chats with your CEO/founder and other important members of your team. This will add to your personable, relatable approach.
All of these videos are great for getting your potential customers to digest lots of information within a short period of time but are also the kind of videos people are consuming in large amounts.
And to make sure your customers stay engaged throughout, use slides, captions, and breaks.
Purchase: Why Should Customers Buy From You?
Now, it’s decision-making time! Your customers have finished their research, feel more knowledgeable (about you and your competitors), and are ready to sign on the dotted line.
Therefore, you need to convert these leads quickly and efficiently with engaging video marketing content about your company, products, and happy customers. Here, emotion plays a huge role so you need to utilize this in your approach with a humanistic touch.
Detailed Product Demos: Go into more depth now to show exactly how your product is a step ahead of the others.
Client Testimonials: Add to your trust factor with videos from happy clients who have used your product/service and are 100% satisfied with it.
Video Case Studies: How has your product/service made an impact? You could perhaps include examples of how it integrates with other product/services to offer a complete solution.
FAQ Videos: Tie up any last-minute questions customers may have by answering those FAQs you often get at this stage in the buyer’s journey.
You might even want to go one step further with a personalized video in an email.
Retention: How Can You Continue to Be Valuable to Customers?
Your video marketing efforts don’t need to stop as soon as you’ve secured the sale. It’s now time to retain your customers so they don’t lose interest in your product and keep coming back to you.
As a business, you’ll constantly improve your product offerings so re-engage your customers by showing them how you’re doing this.
Again, videos work wonders here as they are incredibly easy for your customers to consume, requiring minimal effort on their part.
Videos to consider include:
Instructional Videos: Offer your customers valuable content whether it’s about the product they’ve purchased or how they can make the most of your service. These videos also work well in the awareness and consideration stages.
Promotional Videos: Introduce new products with hype-inducing announcements that get your customers excited about what’s to come.
Company Culture Videos: Showcase how your company practices its core values on a day-to-day basis.
As you can see, a lot of these videos can be used at various stages of the marketing funnel so you won’t have to produce as much content as you perhaps thought you would. Videos are a highly versatile piece of marketing content.
Making Video Marketing Content Work for Your Company
It’s clear video marketing is becoming a force to be reckoned with in any marketing campaign, working to improve the customer journey and add an effective touch to your strategies.
So put aside those fears about how much videos cost to produce and how time-consuming they are, because with the aforementioned examples it couldn’t be easier to start integrating videos into each stage of the buyer’s journey.
Once you get started, you’ll no doubt find plenty of new ideas for fresh content. And when you start to notice your view count metrics and sales soaring, you’ll realize all your efforts have been more than worth it.
It is very frustrating when the products you are selling do not rank, or you experience fluctuations in your product page SEO rankings and overall traffic to your product pages. Many online merchants think that as soon as they list products on their eCommerce site, their organic search traffic will start to grow. But this is very different from the reality of getting organic rankings for your products.
In this post, we won’t be discussing how to implement great eCommerce SEO for online stores, because there are plenty of articles about this already (check out this article and this one too if you’re looking for this). In this article, we’re going to lay out 5 key mistakes which you need to AVOID making, because these mistakes will kill your product page SEO and hurt your sales badly.
Truth be told, it is harder to optimize an eCommerce store for SEO than it is for other types of blogs or websites. By having tens, or even hundreds of product pages “randomly” going up on your site and then going down again, plenty of problems can come up that will typically make product page SEO much harder to do well for eCommerce websites.
This article describes 5 important product page SEO mistakes that can hurt your product’s organic rankings that you need to be aware of. If you’re making any of these mistakes, you should get them fixed ASAP.
We will also be discussing what you can do in order to fix these problems. For anybody who isn’t comfortable implementing these fixes on your own, you can always hire a freelancer or agency to help.
1. You don’t have enough text content to describe your product
While many eCommerce stores feature plenty of images of their products, we typically find when doing SEO audits, that most product pages have little to no content at all.
Google and other search engine robots and crawlers, (the ones which determine whether you rank well in search result pages or not) are mostly able to read text content to understand what your product is (and where it should be ranked).
So if you don’t have enough text content to help describe your product well, then your product page SEO will be weak and it will make it very hard to achieve a good ranking If you want your product to rank well make sure that you add lots of text content to describe your products.
Think at least 500 words, although adding more is even better. We would recommend going up to 750 and even 1,000 words depending on the products you sell.
The more unique text content you have to describe your products and who they’re best for, the better your product page SEO will be.
When creating the text, make sure you don’t write the description only for search engines (i.e. don’t just use keywords which are used in queries). Writing a quality product description will help your customers make an informed purchasing decision when they visit your eCommerce store.
Think of the search intent of your customer first, and answer the following questions:
What does the customer need when they are looking for your product?
What general and specific recommendations can you make when a customer is intent on buying this product or a similar one?
Can you make any useful suggestions or give any good advice about this product to your typical customer?
Are there any other products which could be useful with this one and what would you recommend in this regard?
Are there any variations of this product? How would you go about choosing the best option if you were the customer?
In general, just make sure that when the user that lands on the product page they have more information than they would expect, and hopefully they leave the page knowing more than when they landed on it. That’s a positive user experience and is something which you should strive for with each product page on your site.
Of course, where necessary include the right images to complement the text, but always make sure there is the correct ALT tag and filename which describes the image. This is because once again, search engine aren’t yet able to understand the actual contents of the image very well, so they try to understand what the image is about from the filename and ALT tag text.
The below is an example of a solid product description for a product. You can see how the description is explaining in detail what the user would want to know before buying this product.
Important side note:
Do not attempt to copy text from other sites when describing your product because search engines will penalize you for doing that. And most importantly, do not replicate the manufacturer’s description. See below to learn more on this.
2. You are copying product descriptions directly from the manufacturer’s websites.
We’ve already discussed how text content is very important to product page SEO because this is the content most search engines are able to understand.
But when creating content for the product, you need to make sure you don’t make this other BIG mistake: copying product description directly from the manufacturer of the product. This applies in particular to retailers who are selling and reselling physical products.
Search engines will typically penalize and sometimes completely remove from pages which are copying content directly from other websites from their search results. This is considered duplicate content by Google and other search engines.
Duplicate content is bad for product page SEO on 2 fronts. First, the search engines can’t differentiate between your content and others, and so you’ll likely miss out on a lot of traffic due to a low ranking. Second, even if someone does find their way to your product page, you’re missing an opportunity to stand out from the crowd and create a much better buying experience by providing helpful and unique information to improve purchase conversions.
Additionally, if Google thinks that you are trying to use duplicate content to manipulate your eCommerce SEO rankings or “feels” that you are employing spammy strategies to drive traffic and improve your product’s organic rankings, then your eCommerce store can be completely removed from Google’s index.
To summarize, you should use the content from the manufacturer to understand what the product does, but then write your own unique product description that gives your customers all the information they need to make the decision to buy. The better the quality of your new content, the better your rankings are likely to be, and the more likely you’ll be to convert a sale.
3. You don’t have Schema Markup on your product pages
Above we explained how crawlers are typically unable to understand non-textual content.
But did you know you that:
there is a specific language that search engines speak and understand
search crawlers can extract content from this language
Wouldn’t you want your website and product page SEO to take advantage of this and speak in this language to search engines?
This language is called schema markup and is syntax which is specifically written such that search engines can extract meaning from your product pages.
Not enabling schema markup to help search engines best understand your products is a subtle but important mistake to avoid.
Schema markup is a great tool that you can employ to explain your content to the search engine crawlers, including such details as price, type of product, description, ratings and reviews and plenty of other properties.
LemonStand’s flexible eCommerce platform makes it possible to enable schema markup for your product pages. Many of LemonStand’s available themes have schema markup built in by default, and if you’ve worked with a developer to build a completely custom theme for your store, you can definitely have them add schema markup if they didn’t originally.
An example of how this can look in search engines is below:
Notice, the ratings, price, reviews, stars, etc.
Using these schema markup properties explains to crawlers exactly what your content is all about.
Using schema markup is a great way to boost your product page SEO and increase your overall eCommerce SEO rankings as well. Schema markup is also used to feature specific featured snippets in the result pages, particularly when users are searching for products.
Done right, it really can have a massive impact on your rankings and click throughs.
4. You have too many (thin) product pages
For search engines such as Google, having many pages which are similar in nature but with little to no content is a problem.
Google has recently clarified that the value of a domain is based on the “average” of all of the pages. So if you have 20 great pages, but your eCommerce stores is generating thousands of product pages for different colors, sizes and other variations of your product (with little to no text differences as explained above), you are diluting your whole domain’s value.
You are also likely to exhaust what is known as the crawl budget of a website, meaning that any important changes in your website may not be get indexed (or updated) at all, or may take a long time to get updated correctly.
Make sure that you focus on the most important product pages you want to rank for, and if you do have a lot of variation pages, noindex useless variations of products which you don’t need to rank for. You can show the user that there are variations of the product, but there is no real need to try to index and rank ALL of your product pages.
Note that for LemonStand powered stores, this is typically not a problem, as they have a single page for the base product and all variations. But some other platforms may generate a unique page for each variation, which can cause problems.
For example, the below product page is quite thin in terms of product description and usefulness for the searching user:
With a lot of similar “thin” product pages, you can also risk running into keyword cannibalization issues, where the same pages start to compete with each other for the same keywords, with the result being that none of them will rank well enough.
5. You have not fully optimized your on-page product page SEO
On page SEO optimizations remain one of the easiest wins for organic rankings. Specifically, important meta data such as the:
URL (what appears in the address bar after your domain)
<meta> tag description
are critically important. The first three above correlate directly to rankings, whilst the 4th actually impacts the user behaviour (click-through rate), if you create an enticing description of your product that users are more likely to click.
But suffice to say, it is still a critical factor for rankings. Not spending the time to optimize your on-page product page SEO can be a costly error. And conversely, by taking the time to optimize your on-page ranking factors, you can quickly see a spike in rankings and traffic.
If you want to improve your product page SEO quickly, make sure you fully optimize on-page SEO factors on every product page.
The mission of Google and other search engines is to help their users find the best matches to what they’re looking for, and this is especially true when they’re looking for products to buy.
To avoid killing your product page SEO, your product pages need to give both the user and the search engines the help they need to find your products. So remember to always make sure that your eCommerce store’s product pages are useful and informative for your clients. What is valuable and helpful for your clients is also great for search engine rankings.
To give the search engines the right signals and make your product page SEO really pop, always make sure that:
Your products have enough text content that clearly describes them to potential customers
Your product pages have unique and useful content which has not been copied from other websites
You implement schema markup on your products to make them more machine-readable and boost your product page SEO and overall search rankings
You avoid using too many thin product pages as this will dilute and weaken your SEO
You always fully optimize on-page SEO for each product page
Have you seen other mistakes that kill product page SEO? Share them in the comments below to help others in our community.
Customers are the lifeblood of your eCommerce shop, but you wouldn’t get that feeling if you look at the support copy of the average eCommerce website. Too many companies still look at customer support as a cost center, and this shines through in their website support – whether it’s website, email, or helpdesk copy. How does your website support copy make your customers feel when they are looking for support? Here are 6 tips for making sure your eCommerce business offers more customer friendly support.
1. Speak with a ‘you-focus’
Too often, the language that business’ use has a focus on themselves. For example, a common statement made by companies is “We’ve created this feature to help our customers to be faster…” However, see what happens when you turn this into a you-focus: “With this feature you can be faster…” One talks about the customer, while the other talks to the customer.
Ford.com is a good example of a website that addresses its visitors directly. The visitor is always the subject of their writing.
Speaking to a customer with a you-focus makes your shop feel helpful, empathetic, and approachable. When your language focuses solely on you, on the other hand, it gives the impression that they are being used to further your shop and goals.
Your product, technology and services are not important to the customer. What they care about is how you can help them to make their lives better and easier. Your language throughout your website should reflect this, making it clear to your customers that it really is all about them.
2. Avoid service clichés
Many companies seek to look professional by employing certain clichés, but they ring hollow to your customer. Instead of appearing professional, it gives a cold and robotic impression.
Some examples of services clichés are:
“Your call is important to us.”
“I apologize for the inconvenience.”
Who hasn’t heard these statements used over and over again? Typical customer services phrases such as these make a customer feel as though they are speaking with the company, as opposed to a warm and thoughtful person.
A good general rule for offering customer friendly support can actually be found as the first rule in The Economist’s Style Guide on writing: “Never use a metaphor, simile or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.” Likewise, if you have heard a phrase over an automated system or during every customer service experience, avoid it.
Your customer wants to be heard by a person, not a robot. Speak to them in a natural way and forget about the cold clichés.
3. Stick to clarity
Clarity is an essential component of communication. As the cornerstone of customer friendly support, communication can make or break your eCommerce customer experience.
An easy way of defining clarity is how usable your communication is. Clarity gives your customers the practical information so that they can understand it. Clarity can be broken up into three factors:
Simplicity. Simplicity in communication isn’t easy. It means rewording to more concise language without technical or large words the customer wouldn’t understand. It also means restructuring your sentences to reduce their length and minimize commas and dependent clauses. The goal in simplicity is to reduce the mental effort it takes to process the meaning. The easier, the better.
Structure. Structure allows your customers to grasp what you are saying much more quickly and easily. For example, consider how you would memorize the phone number 0616131744. It seems like an overwhelming amount of numbers. However, it becomes much simpler when you split it into a clear structure: 06-1613-1744. Likewise, communicating to your customers with a clear structure makes it much clearer. You could use the what? So what? Now what? structure. Or, commonly used with salespeople, the Features- Advantages- Benefits structure.
Familiarity. New concepts can be difficult for people to understand. In order to make it easier for them, use concepts that they already understand well to explain it to them. Analogy is a powerful means of communication because it gives customers something relatable and reduces the intimidation of trying to grasp a new topic. However, jargon is detrimental to clarity. If you start to use words and phrases that the customer does not know, you will lose them. A great technique used by support professionals to combat jargon is referred to as ELI5- explain it like I’m five years old.
4. Talk like a human
Many businesses fall into the trap of using overly ‘professional’ language. However, using words that no one ever uses is never a good idea.
I recently received an autoresponder that serves as a good example of robotic, overly professional language: “I will endeavor to get back to you as soon as I can.” Endeavour? Why would you talk like that?
Asana.com gets both the you-focus and down-to-earth tone right.
When it comes to word choice and phrasing, use everyday language. It puts your customers at ease and makes you more relatable. For customer friendly support to work, you need to start by being friendly.
5. Explain why
Years ago, Harvard put together an interesting study. While people were waiting in line at a copy machine, researchers had someone try to cut the line with one of three different phrases. They then observed how many times they were allowed to cut in line. They found that each had varying levels of success.
1. “Excuse me, I have 5 pages. Could I use the Xerox machine?” 60% of the people agreed.
2. “Excuse me, I have 5 pages. Could I use the Xerox machine because I’m in a rush?” 94% of the people agreed.
3. “Excuse me, I have pages. Could I use the Xerox machine because I have to make some copies?” 93% of the people agreed.
This study demonstrates how important transparency is in communication. It didn’t matter what the reason was. What matters is that there is some reason.
To offer more customer friendly support, always explain what you are doing and why. This is especially important if you must make the customer wait. Customers are much more likely to be accommodating and walk away more satisfied with their customer experience if they have a better understanding of what you’re doing for them.
6. Proactive support communication
You show your customers that you really care by offering help proactively. Instead of waiting for them to come to you, reach out and ask whether you can help them in any way. You can do this with simple cues in your website text, like “Missing something? Get in touch with our team!” Or, you can add a live chat solution to your online shop.
By reaching out to your customer first, you can save them the frustration of trying to find you when they need help. This will ensure that the customer views your shop as a helpful instead of a hassle, and improve their experience with your brand.
Improve your customer experience with customer friendly support
Customers are starting to expect more from their online shop. By focusing on customer friendly support, you can amplify their customer experience, retain more customers and even gain more by word of mouth. Want to learn how to scale your customer support? Check out our article 6 Budget-Friendly Shortcuts to Scaling eCommerce Customer Service.
Do you have any other tips for making your customer support more friendly? Share them in the comments below if so.
If you have an online store with a decent-sized customer base, a steady number of orders, and recurring revenue, it’s very possible that people are talking about you, and you are already acquiring new customers via word-of-mouth, even if you haven’t yet set up an eCommerce referral program.
Think about the last time you recommended your favorite restaurant, city, or online store to your friends. It just happens naturally, right? We recommend things we enjoy to family and friends just because it feels good to do something helpful for people we care about.
Your customers are doing the same thing. If they like your products and enjoy interacting with your website or your team, they’re going to recommend you to their friends and family, and even their followers on social media.
Now, what if you could do something to increase these recommendations? As humans, we tend to take action when we’re incentivized to do so. Therefore, if you offer your customers a discount for their friends, or a referral commission for every friend they refer, you’ll see your word-of-mouth sales increase. This is why an eCommerce referral program can have a big impact on your sales and growth.
If you’re working on a LemonStand store, you can now run a referral program using ReferralCandy, a refer-a-friend app that allows you to quickly setup and run your customer referral program. ReferralCandy takes care of automating your reward system, including tracking referrals, managing discounts and sending out rewards so you don’t have to worry about anything. If you want to learn more about how to setup ReferralCandy account on LemonStand, click here.
In this article, we’re going to cover some of the basics about eCommerce referral programs and why they can make a difference in your customer acquisition, retention and, obviously, revenue. We’ll also share some tips on how to setup rewards and promote your program.
Is referral marketing really that effective?
Referral Marketing is one of the most cost-effective marketing strategies out there. According to a study by McKinsey Institute:
Word-of-mouth is the primary factor behind 20 to 50 percent of all purchasing decisions
A high-impact recommendation—from a trusted friend conveying a relevant message, for example—is up to 50 times more likely to trigger a purchase than a low-impact recommendation
Consumers rely on word-of-mouth 2x to 10x more than paid media
Robust advocacy-marketing programs are achieving significant revenue gains—10 to 20 percent for established products and up to 100 percent for new products
One of the many perks of referral marketing is that you only pay for the new customers/purchases you get. That means you only have to grant discounts or pay commissions when your customers’ friends actually make a referred purchase. This drives your customer acquisition costs down significantly and creates a new (and very profitable) customer acquisition channel. Plus, you can structure the rewards so that the referrer is incentivised to make another, repeat purchase – extending your customer retention.
We have all been part of a referral program at some point in our lives. Do you remember setting up your Uber, Dropbox, or PayPal accounts? You probably did it through a friend referral because you both were getting something out of it.
Dropbox and Paypal were actually able to run some of the most successful eCommerce referral programs in history. Dropbox’s referral program allowed them to get more than 4 million users in just about 15 months, without spending a dime on advertising! PayPal, on the other hand, ran a referral program that allowed them to achieve a 10% daily growth, growing their customer base to 100 million users.
Still not convinced? Here are 20+ stats and studies about the power of word of mouth.
How to setup your rewards
Now that we have talked about the importance of running an eCommerce referral program on your LemonStand store, let’s go through what is probably one of the most important aspects of your referral program: your rewards.
If you are just getting started and you don’t know what referral reward structure you need to setup, here are some tips for you to keep in mind:
1) If your advocates are likely to make repeat purchases, give discounts
2) If your advocates are unlikely to make repeat purchases, give cash
3) Make your customers look good in front of their friends
If your advocates are likely to make repeat purchases, give discounts
This helps you adapt your rewards to your customers’ purchasing behavior. Think about it: if your customers are making recurring purchases, they will be even more likely to repeat their purchases if they have an additional incentive to do so. Most purchases fall into this category, like fashion or electronics. Discounts are especially great for recurring purchases or subscriptions like subscription boxes, consumables or even software licenses.
If you reward your customers with a discount on their next purchase, a free gift, or an exclusive deal, you will make sure they don’t get tempted to leave you for a competitor. This simple trick will keep your clients engaged and will increase their overall lifetime value.
If your advocates are unlikely to make repeat purchases, give cash
Some businesses just don’t have recurring customers. Think about a company selling mattresses. This is a very important product that we use in our daily lives, yet we only buy mattresses once every several years. Therefore, getting a discount on a future purchase would be pointless. Other examples include big-ticket items (like cars or houses) or infrequent purchases like refrigerators or renovation services.
In this case, you can reward your advocates with items such as an Amazon gift card, or just cash, so they can spend it on whatever they prefer. This will help you stay top-of-mind even if they’re not going to buy from you in the foreseeable future. Plus, they will be able to give their friends a discount on their first purchase, which as we are about to see, is sometimes enough of a reward to encourage people to refer.
Make your customers look good in front of their friends
Why do we share? When we share something with friends and family, we do it because we want to provide them with useful information, to add value to their life. No one would recommend something useless or harmful to their friends and family in exchange for a small referral commission.
So, if making a recommendation is providing someone with useful information that is going to impact their decision-making process (for the better), providing them with a recommendation and a discount will make their life a lot easier.
We have even seen customers offering up to 90% discounts to referred friends! On the other hand, existing customers were getting a small referral cash reward, and their referral programs worked amazingly well. Why? Because for their customers, just being able to offer their friends such a huge discount was already enough of a reward.
LemonStand retailer Quantum Squares knows this well. Quantum Squares is a new energy bar containing as much protein as a whole egg and as much caffeine as a cup of coffee. Quantum Energy Squares are gluten free, vegan, soy free, dairy free, non-gmo, and contain no artificial flavors or colors.
Quantum Squares’ eCommerce referral program gives customers $5 in cash for every referred friend, but gives friends 20% off their first purchase:
How to promote your referral program
Now that you have setup your referral rewards and launched your eCommerce referral program, there’s only one thing left for you to do: promote it.
Promoting your referral program is probably the most important part of all. You want to have as many people joining your eCommerce referral program as possible, to amplify the reach of word-of-mouth. We’ve written an in-depth article on how promote your referral program effectively so you can attract advocates, but summarized below are the three main tips:
1) Invite past customers to your referral program
2) Show your referral program to website visitors
3) Remind your audience through email and social media
Let’s go over these points:
Invite past customers to your eCommerce referral program
Past and existing customers are your best salespeople. They believe in your product so much that they were willing to pay for it — and they will likely talk about it to their friends and family.
One of the many perks of running an eCommerce referral program is that your customers will be “selling” your product to their family and friends, which is an audience that finds them relevant and trustworthy. They know that they would not be recommending something that is not valuable for them just to get a reward.
If you are launching a referral program, ping your past customers. Remind them about you and tell them how they can benefit from it. It could also bring some former customers back to your store!
Show your referral program to website visitors
When we talk about an eCommerce referral program, we tend to think about a system that is only designed for people who are already customers or have some sort of relationship with your store. But the truth is that you can bring new customers to your store by advertising your referral program on your website.
Not everyone who visits your online store will fit your ideal customer criteria. However, many of the visitors who don’t fit this profile probably know someone who does. If you let them know about your referral program, you are giving them an incentive to share your store with their friends and family, and get rewarded for it.
When this happens, the store makes a sale, your advocate gets rewarded and their friend buys a product they like — with a discount. It’s a win-win-win situation.
Remind your audience through email and social media
Whether you are talking about your referral program on social media or via email reminders, make sure you focus on delivering value and emphasize the benefit they can receive from joining your referral program.
Make sure you are reaching out to your customers through their preferred channel. For example, if your audience is young, email might not be the best channel, so focus on social media. However, if email works well for your online store, make sure you’ve figured out what the best time to send emails is.
How are other LemonStand stores setting up their referral program rewards?
Fuud isa meal kit delivery service that provides weekly recipes that feature organic and artisan ingredients from chefs in Vancouver, Canada. Fuud’s referral program gives their advocates $25 when their friends buy from their invitation link. Referred friends also get $25 off their first purchase.
Canopy Air is a subscription-based service designed to make homes healthier. They deliver high-quality air filters for home heating and air conditioning systems directly to your house. Canopy Air’s referral program offers referred friends a coupon code with an exclusive offer, while advocates get a coupon code for a free filter.
DollarScent is a subscription service for drivers offering air-fresheners delivered monthly. DollarScent’s referral program offers referred friends a free month on any subscription plan, and advocates get $5 worth of DollarScent credit (which they can apply on their next purchase).
Get your eCommerce referral program started today
So what are you waiting for? Setting up an eCommerce referral program for your online store is easy to do and can be a scalable and highly cost effective way to increase your customer base and grow sales. And if you’re running a successful referral program, please share your tips and tricks on what has worked best for you in the comments below.
There’s this damaging belief in some eCommerce circles that buying online is a sacred process.
That every step of the process, from PPC ad to product page to post-checkout order confirmation, should be orderly and official and officious — because placing an online order is a Big Deal that requires Real Trust.
And, well, because people are not as smart as we’d like to think they are.
You’ve gotta make it clear that buying from you is not just safe, but fun. Click To Tweet
Make it fun to shop at your store, and your customers will buy. And buy again. And tell their friends. This, my friend, is why you need to put humor to work for your eCommerce store.
Humor works like a big ol’ handful of Skittles in your brain
If you’ve been alive and sentient for at least a few years, you already know that laughter is rewarding. It’s enjoyable to make other people laugh, and (obviously) to laugh yourself.
But do you know the psychological basis behind humor? And the different emotional effects that laughing provokes in the brain?
If you do, you can probably skip the rest of this post. Go pet a furry animal or get coffee or something.
At its most basic, humor stimulates feelings of happiness and satisfaction.
Don’t believe me? WELL HOW ABOUT SOME FACTS, THEN.
The Nielsen-Norman Group found that humor is one of the most universally appealing ways to get your message across, especially in Western markets.
Humor also relieves anxiety. The “tension relief” theory holds that we’re all just tightly wound stressballs (this checks out) — so laughing at a joke every now and then is a much-needed release.
Try not to snicker at this. I DARE YOU.
Now, any eCommerce marketer worth their salt knows that tension is a critical part of the persuasion process. After all, you have to create a feeling of urgency to get someone to buy, otherwise they’d never do it!
But there are two types of tension at play in eCommerce. There’s the tension I just mentioned, which is a necessary urgency to trigger an action. And THEN there’s the tension underlying the risky business of buying.
Shoppers are thinking things like, “What if this item isn’t worth it? What if I can’t get my money back? What if my credit card info gets stolen?”
And THAT moment, pals, is the perfect time and place to introduce a little levity. A simple joke can assuage those frantic “what-ifs” and reassure your prospects that you’re trustworthy.
All of this ties into the humanizing effect of writing funnier copy. You’ve probably heard the old, tired adage, “People buy feelings, not things.”
“Comedy is a tool of togetherness. It’s a way of putting your arm around someone, pointing at something, and saying, ‘Isn’t it funny that we do that?’ It’s a way of reaching out.”
– Kate McKinnon
One quick note: We’re focusing on product descriptions here
Hey, before you dig further into this post like an overcaffeinated truffle pig… there’s one thing I should mention.
There are SO MANY places throughout your purchase funnel/customer journey/whatever you want to call the dang thing where humor can play a helpful role.
From getting cold prospects’ attention with video ads that go viral (looking at you, Harmon Brothers) to sassing them on Twitter (if you haven’t yet, you need to check out MoonPie), your brand can crack jokes whenever, wherever.
Yep, qualitative customer research is the quickest way to figure out what will tickle your customers’ funny bones, and what jokes or topics you should avoid.
Ask your subscribers and customers what they think is funny — or just start experimenting with a joke here and there in your product descriptions.
Here are a few styles of humor to use as a jumping-off point:
Goofy and wholesome — Think Foot Cardigan or Dollar Shave Club
Dark and morbid — Think Allstate’s “Mayhem” character
Highbrow and witty — Think Grey Poupon
Lowbrow and raunchy — Think Clorox’s “Bleachable Moments” campaigns
Absurd and surreal — Think Old Spice and MoonPie
Old Spice | The Man Your Man Could Smell Like - YouTube
Old Spice is one of the best-known examples of absurd humor in consumer products, for good reason.
When in doubt, I tend to aim for playful humor with a tinge of absurdity, because that’s what comes most naturally to me.
Another helpful rule? Punch up, never down.
“Punching up” means that if you poke fun at something, make sure it’s something or someone that’s more powerful than you or your brand. So, for example, making fun of Trump is fine; making fun of the homeless is not.
Bless u, person who made this GIF.
What to joke about in product descriptions
So now you’ve got an idea of the style of humor that will fit your brand and please your prospects. And it’s time to… well… write some actual jokes.
But what should you joke about? I’ve got a few guidelines to keep you from going wrong.
Avoid jokes about…
Your product’s materials or origins — No matter how well-intentioned, if you so much as hint that your product isn’t well-made or ethically sourced, your customers will take it as the truth — and that’ll hurt conversions
Your competitors — Naming your competitors and poking fun is just an invitation for a hot, steaming lawsuit. BUT there is a way to do this! See the “Pitfalls of other solutions” bullet below.
Your customers themselves — Not to say it can’t be done. But with few exceptions, poking fun at your prospective customers introduces friction between them and your product or brand. And as we all know, friction = bad.
Just look at the magic of a friction-free purchase experience!
Exceptions to this rule include brands like Cards Against Humanity, which can get away with being downright and offensive because its target market (me!) just eats that sh** up:
Along with calling past customers “sucker” and “consumer,” Cards Against Humanity takes a… transparent approach to promotional marketing with subject line “Here Comes Another Holiday Stunt!”
Instead, aim to joke about:
Your product’s benefits — A little hyperbole goes a long way. Will your product turn the customer into a superhero? Help her feel like she can crush it at work? When you’re riffing on benefits, make sure it’s clear you’re exaggerating… so your denser prospects don’t take things literally.
Here’s a great example of exaggerated benefits from Old Spice:
“So easy to use you might accidentally put it on and only later realize your man-nificence”. Bonus points for the pun here.
Another fun thing to do along these lines is add jokey disclaimers, ex. “WARNING: this product may make you smell TOO good. Proceed at your own risk”.
Pitfalls of other solutions or competitors — Since you’ve obviously done a bunch of in-depth qualitative customer research, you already know your prospects’ concerns with competing products.
Use that research to your advantage by including a jokey line like, “Bonus: Our liquid eyeliner won’t smear, rub, or flake for 12 full hours… meaning you won’t look like a sleep-deprived raccoon by the end of the night.”
Your hapless employees — Want to humorize and humanize your brand at the same time? Poke fun at a scapegoat for a “mistake”. Here’s how hilarious toilet paper brand Who Gives a Crap does it:
Normally boring details like shipping or delivery — One of my personal favorite spots to place a joke in product description copy is at the end of a series of items, or in the traditionally staid “Details” bullet points.
This allows you to take advantage of a reversal of expectations, which is surprising and delightful — AKA exactly how you want to make customers feel!
Here’s how I added a dash of unexpected delight in the details for ring retailer Manly Bands:
I also like the way furniture shop Joybird clarifies shipping policies around geographic areas that are difficult to access, such as “islands, mountain residences, or lairs located in volcanoes”:
Worried about going too far too fast? Aim for a balance of 80% straightforward, informative copy, and 20% lightheartedness.
The results of funnier product descriptions
If you’ve made it all the way down here, you’re probably screeching “JUST TELL ME HOW THE JOKES MAKE ME MORE CASH, LIANNA!”
And you know what, Carl? I hear you. I hear you loud and clear.
CALM DOWN, CARL.
I’ve got some heartening news in the form of a brand-spankin’-new case study from my lovable clients over at Manly Bands.
They sell rings, but more than that — they’re goofballs and they want to attract goofy customers who appreciate a good joke and a great wedding band. So they hired me to punch up a few of their product descriptions.
One of my favorite descriptions was for a handsome ring called The Journeyman. Here’s the copy I put together:
“Grandpa, where did you get that dope ring, and can we have it?” – Your future heirs.
Meet The Journeyman: one of our favorite rings here at Manly Bands.
This fine piece of hardware melds some of our choicest materials — durable tungsten carbide, genuine deer antler, and real turquoise — into one badass piece of jewelry that says, “Yeah. I’ve been there.”
The Journeyman is steadfast. Enduring. Like your grandpa’s old woodworking tools, it’s built to last and always up to the job.
It’s grounded in wood and horn, with a glint of blue brightness to remind you that hey, life’s an adventure. Don’t play it safe.
And while The Journeyman always stands out, it never looks out of place — whether you’re scaling a mountain or driving a sweet-ass convertible through Milan.
Tungsten Carbide & 18K Rose Gold Plated — Super-durable, scratch-resistant tungsten carbide gets a loving caress of rose gold around the outside. Like a lingering hug, but not creepy.
Inlay of genuine Turquoise, Deer Antler and Koa Wood
8mm Wide — The most popular ring width for men. We’re not making this shit up.
Slightly Domed Design with Comfort Fit — Comfy enough to forget you’re wearing it, until you get yet another compliment
And here are the results from Manly Bands’ humor copy investment
Of 4 total product descriptions I wrote, 3 increased both add-to-cart conversions and purchases! (The fourth tanked, and we’re still trying to figure out why. #mystery #intrigue #ecommerce)
Product #1 saw a 196% increase in add-to-cart conversions, and a 20% increase in purchases
Product #2 saw a 17% increase in add-to-cart conversions, and a 98% increase in purchases
Product #3 saw a 67% increase in add-to-cart conversions, and a 95% increase in purchases
I believe this is what’s referred to in law enforcement circles as a STRAIGHT-UP MURDER.
We’re excited to announce that LemonStand has been again named a double G2 Crowd eCommerce High Performer for Fall 2018! Since they first initiated coverage back in 2016, G2Crowd has consistently ranked LemonStand as one of the overall top rated eCommerce platforms with a High Performer rating in the G2 Crowd eCommerce Platforms Grid® Report.
Earlier this year, G2 Crowd decided to start to publish their rankings on a quarterly basis and segment out their eCommerce Platform Grid Reports by business size. They also broke their Grid into separate Small Business (50 or fewer employees), Mid-Market (51-1000 employees), Enterprise (more than 1000 employees) and maintained an Overall ranking to help online retailers of different sizes and with different needs research the platforms most relevant to them.
G2 Crowd has also started gathering more in depth feedback, which is helpful to other users as well as vendors like us. We were very happy to see that our customers scored us very high on some of the things that we think should matter most to them, and definitely matter most to us. Some highlights for the Small Business segment, which is what we’re focused on, are below:
Top 10 Ranking (number 7) in the E-Commerce Platforms Results Index – this index is based on feedback related to return on investment
Top 10 Ranking (number 8 ) in the E-Commerce Platforms Usability Index – this index is based on feedback related to ease of administration and ease of use
Top 10 Ranking (number 10 ) in the E-Commerce Platforms Relationship Index – this index is based on the quality of support and ease of doing business with the vendor
We also did a deep dive on their methodology and noticed a very interesting and important score that they don’t break out separately in their published reports, but that is in our opinion an important metric to call attention to – Net Promoter Score (NPS). This measures customer satisfaction in a somewhat different way and our score for LemonStand was the highest of all vendors in the Small Business Grid with a whopping score of 95!
For those who aren’t familiar with NPS, any score above 0 is generally deemed good, and anything above 50 is typically deemed great (for example, according to NPS Benchmarks, Apple’s current NPS score is 72 and Tesla’s NPS score is 96) – the highest of all companies in the benchmark). Of all the vendors on the G2 Crowd E-Commerce Platforms Grid for Small Business, we’re very proud to say that the LemonStand NPS score of 95 was the highest. By comparison, the average for all vendors in this report was 48 (still pretty good) and the lowest scores were well into the negative numbers.
Who is G2 Crowd and Why Do They Matter?
G2 Crowd, the world’s leading business solution review platform, leverages more than 400,000 real, verified user reviews to drive better purchasing decisions. Business owners, staff, investors, and analysts use the site to compare and select the best software and services based on peer reviews and synthesized social data. Every month, over 1.5 million people visit G2 Crowd’s site to gain confidence in their buying decisions and become more successful in their jobs.