“Artificial intelligence (AI) is something that we hear about a lot but don’t really know how it could benefit us. In fact, can it do anything rather than play computer games and being a subject of sci-fi movies?”
A lot of people could make a statement like this and question the progress made by AI in recent decades, but chances are high that eCommerce professionals won’t be among them. After years of seemingly slow progress and just a few significant victories, AI has become the hottest topic in our world for a legitimate reason.
For eCommerce professionals, for example, represents a legit source of real-life benefits, not just something that we can expect to be delivered in the nearest future. Amazon’s AI-powered product recommendation engine, for one, is responsible for 35 percent of the company revenue, which translates into billions of dollars.
As technology continues to evolve, the number of use cases in eCommerce is increasing, with more and more companies investing in AI-powered solutions. In this article, let’s talk about some of the most impacting AI use cases in eCommerce as well as specific tools that enhance the experience of customers so you have a good idea about the current state of AI in the industry.
AI Use Cases and Solutions for eCommerce Businesses
1. Chatbots: Up Your Customer Service and Content Marketing Game
Chatbots have been making a lot of noise in eCommerce in recent years and for good reason. They can help companies in a variety of ways; for example, here are some of the most important use cases, according to a recent State of Chatbots report.
Credit: 2018 State of Chatbots report
As you can see, many of these are applicable to eCommerce. For example, an AI-powered chatbot can assist to buy a basic and an expensive item, get ideas and inspiration for purchases, communicate with a brand, provide detailed answers or explanations, and share content.
By employing a chatbot, an eCommerce business thus can cover a lot of bases. For example, one of the most promising use cases of chatbots is customer support. They can answer to an unlimited amount of customers at the same time regardless of the time zone, all without human supervision. Moreover, you don’t have to pay for these hours like you would have if in the case with employees.
On top of that, chatbots can help you to increase your sales by providing product suggestions to those interacting with them as well as supplying them with fresh content like buying guides, new arrivals, discounts, and more.
It’s also worth noting that the effectiveness of chatbots in helping eCommerce businesses depends on the script as well as programming.
Essentially, they’re computer programs, so you could get more business value from them if you make them sounds “as human as possible.” This, of course, requires superior writing skills, so the use of professional writing services such as Trust My Paper is recommended to companies looking to adopt chatbots.
2. AI-Powered Pricing Solutions
The next solution on our list seeks to optimize the sales of eCommerce companies by tailoring the prices to the geolocation of shoppers. Customers have gotten really good at online product research, so many know how to find the lowest prices for products. For you as an eCommerce business, this means that you should monitor the prices of competitors and adjust them quickly to make sure that more people will consider buying from you.
However, matching prices to your competitors’ may not be such a good idea if they don’t have a well thought-out pricing strategy themselves. Therefore, the data collected by price analysis tools may not be helpful when it comes to making the right decisions here.
Using AI, however, is a totally different story. Since knowing the geolocation of customers is an important factor when it comes to setting the best prices, AI-powered tools use it to help with price personalization and promotion.
One of the most discussed dynamic pricing tools is Darwin Geo-Pricing. According to this Deloitte report, it utilizes machine learning algorithms to produce an artificial neural network, which, in turn, provides the data required to build a real-time model of the prices in different geolocations. The data is generated by running split tests every day to determine the best prices in geolocations.
By using the model, the users of Darwin can design sales campaigns based on local prices and create personalized discounts for customers who are about to abandon the website without buying anything.
As a result, you don’t have to match your price to the lowest price to stay competitive, which can improve profitability.
3. Personalized Product Recommendations
According to recent research, 44 percent of online shoppers say they will likely buy again from a business that provides a personalized shopping experience. One of the most important aspects of “personalized shopping experience,” of course, is product recommendations based on customer browsing history, interests, and previous purchases.
In fact, 49 percent of customers admit buying a product they weren’t looking to buy after receiving a personalized recommendation from a business. This once again proves the power of personalized customer experiences in eCommerce, and the potential gains that could be amazing (and supports the fact that Amazon is so successful with product recommendations).
The fact that AI is quickly developing as a product recommendation engine because it’s all about data. People can’t deal with high volumes of data as good as machines, and it also has gotten really good at it; for example, AI is perfect - and the only tool to analyze huge customer data volumes - for analyzing purchasing history and search inquiries to create a customer persona that you can really use.
Even with the latest attribution tools and ad platforms, advertisers are still struggling with predicting customer behavior and designing better campaigns. Thankfully, AI is totally applicable in this case, too. According to the abovementioned Deloitte research, AI technology is used to create predictive advertising campaigns and predict customer behavior to help advertisers understand what customers want at a particular moment.
As an example of how technology can help with that Deloitte cites a tool called Programmai. It’s based on machine learning algorithms that collect and analyze huge volumes of data about the behaviors and traits of a target audience. The results reveal the most relevant traits and behaviors, as well as reveal those that were previously unknown by the company. Also, the tool makes predictions on how likely a specific customer is going to make a purchase.
This process is called programmatic advertising, and it can really change the way companies perform online advertising. For example, a tool using this technology is capable of a quick analysis of a visitor’s behavior and an almost instantaneous optimization of the campaign toward that specific person.
This real-time personalization of content to the needs of visitors is something that a lot of digital marketers are looking for. In fact, 77 percent of marketers think that it has “high importance” for their organizations, according to a recent Real-Time Marketing Insights Study from Adobe.
?Real-Time Marketing Insights Study, Adobe
On top of that, the tool will continue to “learn” about the studied target audience and gather data to define a typical person who is likely to interact with the brand. This information and data will be stored to help with creating targeted marketing campaigns in the future.
So, predictive advertising powered by AI will be an important tool to help eCommerce businesses to understand their customers. In fact, a better understanding of customers is reported by 31 percent of businesses are the main success story with AI, according to BridgeEdge 2018 Future of Marketing and AI survey.
Source: BridgeEdge 2018 Future of Marketing and AI survey
AI-Powered Content Marketing
AI is already something that digital marketers use to create better content for eCommerce businesses. In fact, according to the abovementioned BridgeEdge 2018 Future of Marketing and AI survey, more than 42 percent of digital marketers have already used AI or deep learning technology to develop content marketing strategies in 2018.
Source: BridgeEdge 2018 Future of Marketing and AI survey
As you can see, more and more marketers are opening up to the new technology and transforming the way they do content marketing. If you take one more look at the image from the BridgeEdge’s report in the previous section, you’ll see that only about 15 percent of digital marketers’ report that better-performing content is their success story with AI.
This may suggest that AI and content performance aren’t that closely linked, but the reality is much different. These 15 percent are only the beginning, and here’s why.
AI could be that missing link that helps marketers understand how to make personalized content and thus create more targeted campaigns. For example, an AI-powered content marketing tool can do such things as automating timing, communication channels, and content types, thus enabling to streamline marketing strategies to meet the ever-changing needs of online shoppers.
Besides, AI can help eCommerce businesses to leverage a target audience’s demographic data to increase the relevance of the content to customers. As the analysis of data from various sources will become much more advanced thanks to sophisticated algorithms that can recognize and analyze patterns, businesses will find it easier to create more impactful content.
Not only AI will help to create better content, but also to predict relevant content to the right customers. For example, AI-powered algorithms can analyze huge volumes of data about customers, including a device used to make purchases online, age, income group, geolocation, time preference for going online, interests, and many more. The results of this analysis will help eCommerce businesses to make truly personalized experiences for customers by supplying relevant content.
For example, instead of targeting all men aged between 20 and 40 who “like sports,” eCommerce businesses will able to target men who “prefer volleyball to running.”
AI-powered predictive analytics tools and analyze and predict customer sentiment and reactions for specific content topics, thus providing eCommerce marketers with a good understanding of the best-performing ones. These data-based insights can be thus used to create more relevant content topics for eCommerce blogs.
As you can see, AI is not just about making serious enemies for humans in sci-fi movies. Technology is quickly developing, and apparently has a number of important use cases for eCommerce businesses, including content creation and delivery, dynamic pricing, product recommendations, chatbot-powered customer support, and predictive advertising.
These are just some of the most important benefits of AI in digital marketing and online business, but they already give a pretty good idea of the bright future of technology. As more and more companies realize these benefits, they invest in AI-powered solutions to improve their eCommerce marketing efforts.
Sendowl is a great external online platform to sell services and informational products from your website (whether ebooks in pdf, rar files, courses created by you), without having to host them directly on your server.
Thanks to this platform, you can automate the sales of your digital products at the click of a button and very easily. There are many platforms to sell online and since 2010 I have worked with the vast majority.
And among all of them I have decided that SendOwl is the most comfortable and useful, being the one I recommend to all my students.
If I have opted for this tool, and not for another, it is because SendOwl brings you the following benefits:
Clean and simple interface: there are no 20,000 options, you only have what you are going to use, period.
Integration with Stripe and PayPal: fast integration that makes life easier for your client so that they pay how he wants.
Compatible with EU VAT MOSS (European VAT): allows you to comply with the rules required by the European VAT law automatically.
Fast and intuitive: putting a product on sale is as simple as filling in a few boxes and having an image of your product. Remember, 15 minutes.
Integration with email marketing software: you can integrate SendOwl with Mailchimp and company to create a list of clients and do what you want with it.
In summary, SendOwl is a fast, intuitive tool that has no loss.
# 1 How to register with SendOwl
It’s easy to start selling with SendOwl. Depending on your needs, SendOwl provides different pricing options. The cheapest plan are:
Standard Plan: $15 per month. For that price, it offers you the possibility to sell up to 30 products, place a watermark (PDF stamping), create an affiliate program, customize the sales page with your logo, and 3GB to store your files, although can also use Amazon S3 if necessary.
Basic Plan: $9 per month. If you do not intend to use affiliates or are interested in printing a watermark, this option is for you. In this plan, you can host up to 10 products, the ability to customize what you want, and 1GB of storage.
You have 30 days to try SendOwl for free in any of your plans. Click here to get your 30 Days Free Trial (No Credit Card Required).
# 2 How to start selling with SendOwl in less than 15 minutes
The operation of SendOwl is very simple.
The only thing it does is create a page with your product that they host so you can sell without having to do weird things or install SSL on your blog.
You can also integrate it with buttons on your own website, create shopping carts, etc.
Nothing to install, no code to add (except some small if you integrate with your website) or nothing at all. You only have to upload a photo of your product, assign a price and you will have your small online store.
As you will see on the dashboard, to create your sales page you only have to execute 3 steps:
Connect SendOwl with a payment system.
Add the product
Distribute the page
Let's see how to do these 3 things.
1. Connect SendOwl with a payment system
When clicking, a small window with 2 options will appear:
Gateway: select the payment option you want. It allows you to choose between Authorize.net, Stripe and PayPal. In this case we select PayPal.
Account Details: here you only add your email account. Click on "Add" and voila, there is no loss.
2. Add a product
You can do this action from this same window or in the "Products" section of the menu on the left.
When you click it, you will see 3 options: Product, Service and Bundle.
As you may have imagined, the first two are aimed at selling products and services, while the "Bundle" option is used to sell several products in one pack.
Here you just have to add the name of the info product and select the file in «Attach file».
Once you have added it, you will see that the watermark option appears (PDF Stamping) so you can add it. You only have to enter the price and press the «Create Product» button.
3. How to distribute the sales page created in SendOwl
Right after creating the product you will see a very important page: the one that shows you how to promote your sales page.
It offers you 3 options:
Quick Sell: is a link that you can send to any friend or person who wants to buy your product.
Share: allows you to directly share your product on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, etc.
Sell from your website or blog : here is a code that you can insert in any part of your website with a "Buy Now" button or integrating it with any button you have created on your website. You just have to copy it and paste it into the entry or page that you want.
#3 Other interesting functions within SendOwl
Interestingly, there are other important functions within SendOwl that are worth seeing..
a. Enter your business data
To enter all the data of your company, keep in the "Settings" section of the left menu and enter the "Company" section of the "Profile and Account" section.
Here you can enter the following data:
Name of the company: fiscal name of your company (if you are autonomous is your name).
Address: postal physical address of the company.
City: city where the headquarters of your company is located.
Postal code: zip code of said city.
Country: country in which you are registered.
VAT Number: identification that allows exemption from VAT in commercial operations within the European Union (only if your business entity is located in Europe).
Once you fill in the information, you will have already registered your company in SendOwl to be able to make any payment and create invoices.
b. Create discount coupons
To establish offers with coupons you have to enter the "Discount Code" option under "Marketing" in the left menu.
To create a new discount code, click on «Add».
Now you just have to input the following data:
Name of the coupon: name the coupon in question.
Type: select if you want it to be a percentage or a fixed amount.
Minimum Cart Value: Specifies whether the coupon can only be applied to a purchase with a minimum amount.
Product limited: details if the coupon is limited to specific products.
Use limited: specifies if the coupon is only for a specific use.
Time limited: controls whether the coupon is restricted to a period of time.
Auto-Generate or Custom: if you check the first box, the program will generate the coupon automatically. In contrast with "Custom" you can write the text or word that will define the coupon.
c. Put the clients email to your e-Mail list
Within the "Marketing" section of the menu you have another important tab called "Mailing Lists", from which you can integrate the emails of your customers into a list of subscribers.
Do not forget that the list of subscribers is the biggest asset of your business.
By putting your customers to your newsletter, you can deepen your relationship with them and build loyalty to get recurring sales.
Are you interested to use SendOwl to sell your digital products and services? Let us know in the comments below!
One of the key things to building a successful ecommerce brand is knowing how to get your list together. You’ll be able to promote your products more efficiently, talk directly to your customers, and build a stable relationship with your old/new prospects. Omnistar makes it easy for you to integrate the software with Bigcommerce. They have a good popup that you can actually integrate with your Bigcommerce store in no time flat. Here’s a step by step guide to creating your email popup.
Step 1: Sign Up for a BigCommerce Store
Whether you are signing up for a free trial or a full on store, it’s very easy to setup your account. Begin by going to Start Your Free Trial at the bottom left
You’ll be taken to a screen where you put the name of your store as you begin the free trial. (Note: if you already have a store in progress, you can just login to the account here.
Put all the information in the boxes and go to Create Your Store to begin.
Once you have this set up and logged in, you can begin to implement your pop-up code on the Omnistar site.
Step 2: Create Your Pop-Up Message
Start by going to your Admin page from the Omnistar Tell site. Then go to setup software and click on the option that says Create/Edit a Pop-Up For My Site.
Here you can start the process of developing the pop-up right within the site. You’ll be taken to a page where you can manage your pop-ups. Click the Add Pop Up button.
You’ll be taken to a section where you can send them to the Thank You Page Template or Direct Them to this URL.
You can select a template or direct them to a URL. Go to Create a New One and it’ll take you to a page where you can it all up. Here we’ve had some slider reward templates set up and you can actually create a pop up from this page.
Go to the Create Popup section and begin to edit what you want to put for your popup on the site.
Here’s what it looks like from the start. You can alter all of the details on the left. We will show you what happens.
At the Optin Box, you can choose one with just text or you can pick the Optin Box 2 option to include an image.
When you begin your campaign, it’s a good thing to test both the text and the one with a picture to see which converts the best. Always keep your eye open for what has the better conversion rate to help ensure long term success.
You can pick how you want your popup displayed. For some people, they want an exit intent. You can choose when the next time you want it displayed, background colors, and more. Additionally, if you know how people generally respond to your stuff or stay on for a certain period of time, there’s an option to show the popup after a person goes through your store for a bit. This is a great way to see whether there’s a general interest in your page.
You have options with how you display the text from the background color and the text color, which can all be changed on the left cursor of the popup template.
After you’re done with editing your text and putting the right background together, you can save the information and click on the option that says Get Code at the bottom.
You’ll be taken to a screen where you can manage your popups. Click the button on the right titled Get Website Code. The page should look like the picture below and you’ll be able to directly copy the code so you can implement it on your storefront.
Step 3: Implementing the Code on BigCommerce
Once you have the code copied, simply go to your Bigcommerce account and find the option on the left hand side that says Store Setup. Scroll the setup and click on Design.
Click the option that says Edit HTML/CSS and you’ll be taken to a place where you’re able to actually implement the code at the default.html screen.
Save the code. Head back to your BigCommerce dashboard and in the options on the right. Scroll down to Review & Test My Store. Click Review Your Store.
You’ll be taken to a default theme you created and here’s an example of what it looks like with the popup you implemented. The popup should show up shortly after you land on the page:
You can't have a good program without a solid support team to help you in your endeavors. You need to be tactical in your approach in order to really make sure that your affiliate site comes out with a bang. Whatever works to draw in good attention with your brand, you need to build that stability in order to sustain for the long-term. Affiliates are the backbone to expanding your brand and it certainly helps when you know the right way to capture their interests to increase your visibility. Here are 8 tips to help you acquire affiliates for your product or service.
Start by Having Great Products or Services
You can’t forget your foundation. That’s having a great product or service before you begin to build your network. It’s like a barber. He can’t have a good shop without having quality service. Remember, reputation is everything. If you’re the kind of person that likes to be completely hands on, that means you know exactly what your brand has to offer. In fact, you would use it yourself. I mean, why promote something that you wouldn’t personally wear or keep in your home? That’s honestly selling yourself short. Others can see through the facade as well.
While marketing can help you sell the product, it all boils down to whether or not this brand you’re promoting actually provides value. At the end of the day, how is this going to help someone get from Point ‘A’ to Point ‘B’? When you’ve built something you believe in and would actually add value to your own life, then you can start finding the right people to help you promote your product. If you don’t have a good foundation of bricks, then it’s hard for your home to withstand the elements. With that being said, you need to make sure people know you’re part of an affiliate service.
Make Sure People Know You Have an Affiliate Program
You can’t have a big party without people knowing about it. Sometimes the best thing is to be obvious. When you have your website, just point a link to the right direction about an Affiliate program. You can set a link in your header just talking about your affiliate network. Just remember that this page is important so that you draw people in. Give a brief rundown of your program from why you set it up, how this helps others, and most of all, the incentives that a potential affiliate can acquire if they join the program.
One of the most important things about setting up your page is that it’s visible. Make it obvious that you’re running a good program so that others can follow suit. Additionally, make the link shareable. This way you can have others spread the message in case they want to become an affiliate your site as well. We will get into that in more depth a bit later. Sometimes the best thing you can do is make your site look clean and simple. You never want the design to distract everyone from your main mission: getting people to sign up to your affiliate program.
Network with the Right People
If you’re in niche that sells an organic shampoo or something, then the best thing to do is find the right people to network with. Maybe you have a great product but not the right clientele that will buy it. It’s your job to send personalized messages and emails to those you know will help you market your product. For example, maybe there’s a great hair care blog that has a lot of followers or women into organic products. This would be such a great asset to your brand because you have the right marketing to go with your services. If you’re selling an organic shampoo, you wouldn’t promote this on a site that sells computer parts. That just defeats the purpose because you won’t attract that high yield. It’s a waste of time and effort. Also, someone will look at you as spam because how will that help them sell a motherboard from a laptop or PC?
The best thing you can do is run a general search and actually scope it out for yourself. Scan the site and see what they offer and if the content matches what you do. Even if it’s not an exact match, find the similarities and see what could possibly be done to get them to promote your product. It’s all about compromise. Find their email address and send a polite message and show the benefits. A good thing to do is send a few free samples so they can personally try it out for themselves. If they like the product and it works well for them, chances are the same result will work for their supporters. It’s all about finding the right affiliates who mesh with your brand.
Get Your Terms of the Program in Writing
Now that you’ve begun to get things on the board, you want to make sure your terms of the program are in bold. You never want to leave things up to chance. With any kind of business you do, the paperwork needs to be clear and concise. This way you make sure everything is on the table from the start. This will help you get your business together so that you can reference it just in case someone tries to undermine you. Additionally, it helps the new affiliates or prospects find out what you’re about from the beginning so that this lessens the questions. Be straight to the point on everything that consists of the program. You want to make sure you have a general overview or facts to go with your network:
You need to let them know the amount they’ll receive from their commissions. Sometimes you might have a point system that leads to a cash out, so be clear on this as well. Let them know if there are cookies with your program and for how long. This helps you keep track of different links and make sure there’s no wrongdoing from both ends. Another important thing to note is who gets the commission. Sometimes the commission maybe recurring like in a program that requires a monthly subscription. Most importantly, you need to know the payment. You should let them know if it’s a direct deposit to your bank, Paypal, or Venmo. Additionally, you want to be consistent whether it’s a weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly payment. The key is following through with all of your regulations so that you’re on the same page as everyone else. By having this down on a page, you’ll help clear up any concerns from the jump.
Offer Solid Commissions and Incentives
One of the best things to do is offer quality commissions. If you do it too low, then chances are people will ignore your message. You want a healthy medium so that you’re able to make a good profit, but also provide good money to your strong supporters. If you have the chance, you might want to make your commission as high as 30% to 40%. When other people can actually make a living or supplement income that’s dependable, you know you’re working with something great. Remember, they are the backbone because they put in the work to make sure you get more sales. A good product is only worth it when people buy into it. The proof is in the sales and how it ends up in the bottom line. Make sure you personally know the value of what you offer and how it can impact your supporters.
Sometimes the commission alone is not enough to entice people. You might need other incentives. There are programs out there like Karmaloop that have a good affiliate program. However, certain parts of the year they go in with a huge sale that offers a reward to the highest sellers. While commissions are great, a huge reward on top of the commissions can seriously wet the appetite of your hungriest supporters. Maybe you can set up a contest or a big promotion that gets your top sellers working around the clock. This not only increases the competition, but it enhances the fire in your company. It can really create a great energy that works well for you. Also, it helps you gauge who’s in it for a part-time or the more long term. When you have this kind of information, you’ll be able to do more personal things. For example, offer discounts and deals to the family members of your most loyal supporters. Also, you can send them a gift or so just because they’ve done a great job. It’s an excellent way to interact and show genuine care. This type of thing goes beyond just a business relationship. It shows your human side and that only encourages them to keep promoting.
Make Sure You’re With Them in the Most Pivotal Steps
You need to also support your affiliates by providing them with the right tools. Not everyone is going to be an expert right away. It might be in your best interest to help guide them through the process or having a teammate get things in order. Some of things you’ll need in your arsenal include affiliate links, banners, and other sources to help them make the sale.
You need a good affiliate link to help you not only build something custom for them when they begin promoting on their social sites and email campaigns, but you’ll be able to keep track of their sales and activity. You want to make sure that they are doing things the right way so it doesn’t bite you in the back later on. Any foul play that you see, you’ll be able to dismiss them from the program. This will save you from a lot of heartache because some people tend to get a link and manipulate in a way that will make it look like they got a sale, but it’s clearly the opposite. When they have their own custom affiliate link, it makes it easier to remember as well.
Having good banners also work well if they have a community site. One of the best ways to promote an affiliate program is through banners. They stand out, they can point out a message, and easy to click through. They can put the banner in their signature and at the top of the page. This way it increases the visibility and more people will be prone to click. Remember, you want to make marketing as easy as possible. Be there through thick and thin, and also when you update. You want to keep these transitions feasible so that your affiliate team can keep track of things as they evolve.
Add Value to a Community
Although you don’t want to directly promote on a community, adding value can increase your chances of gaining affiliates. Why? People tend to follow the brand that has the most powerful reputation. By actively engaging in different communities closely related to your product, people can begin to trust what you have to offer. It could be things from free information, tips and tricks, and even coming from a different point of view. You never know if a webmaster of that particular community is looking for a partner. They could have the traffic and you have the right product. Just be of service as much as you possibly can. This will help you grow your own network more organically. Don’t spam or directly promote something because it could get you kicked out of the forum. The best thing is to enrich the community and build rapport with everyone so you aren’t just a business spying on your next transaction. When they begin to trust you, then that can trickle into making long term sales. There may come a time where you could promote something if it makes sense with the goal of the community. Abide by the rules and the rest will follow.
These are just a few tips to help you acquire different affiliates. While you may have a product or service that’s beneficial to others, you still need the right promotion to get the sparks flying in your business. What are some tactics you use to get more affiliates to your business? Drop a note below.
Having your own ecommerce store is a real treat for those that build an online brand. It’s like creating a staple in the market that you can identify because it’s your company. As any other business, it takes time to develop an ecommerce presence especially in an evolving world that we call the web. From a mobile and desktop point of view, you need to know a few things to help you create a more sustainable presence for the long term. With that being said, here are 6 different ecommerce tips to help you along the way.
Take Your Time with Launching Your Brand
You know what brands like Facebook, Pinterest, and other sites possess? Timing. Before you do a full-out launch, one of the best things to do is to take time to identify what you’re about. It’s like training for a marathon. You can’t expect to run 26 miles flat out. Just like it’s impossible to build a business that profits right away without taking the proper steps. If you plan to run a marathon, then you need to get yourself on a good eating and exercising regimen, you have to train properly to sustain longer runs, and you need to condition your body to rest and relax. By the time you do get to the goal date, you’ll have trained your body well and you know what to expect.
In launching your brand, you have to take the right course of action to make it more successful. In e-commerce, the roll out is very important. What is your mission statement? What do you have to offer to others? How will you do the marketing, promotion, and even get more attention to the name of your brand? These are all different things you should think about. Remember, the story about Facebook and how it launched? It was means to connect different people together. That network led into a multi-billion dollar business. However, it took time to truly monetize it and build into the social network/ecommerce brand that it is today.
The key is to never rush it. Whether you create a beta launch to drive the interest up and give people an exclusive look into what you’re about. Maybe you have a group of people who genuinely get your brand and can help you roll it out to a set group where it can build organically. It’s all in how you really know what the customer values.
Know What the User Enjoys
While you may have a particular interest in a certain sector of e-commerce, you have to know your customer. At the end of the day, they are the ones that will keep your lights on and your stomach from growling. Let’s say you’re in a business like healthy hair care products. Obviously, you can go about this in a few ways talking about the different styles of hair from curly, frizzy, straight, kinky, wavy, etc. Everyone’s hair is different. However, your niche can cater to using safer products to put in the hair. This actually brings out a few demographics: those that want a more natural look to their hair, the people that are into more organic products, and even people who may have sensitivity to chemicals. Just within one niche, you’re targeting different categories. Sometimes, it’s not even the product itself, but the user experience.
Maybe you have a good product, but the message is just not clicking right in the minds of people. Your site might be bombarded with so many graphics and images, you need to tone it down. Remember, visuals are important but that shouldn’t undermine the message. You want everything to run smoothly. All of your information, the tabs, the links should be visible. A prospect shouldn’t have to use rocket science in order to navigate the pages of your site. The easier it is to move and the quicker your site responds, the more activity you should see on the site.
Additionally, you need to make sure that the user can reach the end goal quicker. Make it easy on them to add products to the shopping cart. Some people don’t care for signing up with email in order to make purchase or going to a few different pages for one transaction. A one-page confirmation may be the way to go. You should always give them a choice. Also, it’s good to give an incentive like free shipping or 10% off their first purchase when they sign up. Never force them into it and always give value for the time on your site.
Encourage Reviews and Testimonies
This is certainly a key element to your legitimacy. Whether a user has a good experience or a bad one, it’s important that you get the human factor on your site. Not enough ecommerce sites show what happens after someone makes a purchase or even how they deal with particular issues in catering to a customer’s concerns. Why are reviews and testimonies valuable? We’ll break down a few reasons below:
One, it shows that there are real people that buy from your site. When you have an ecommerce site, prospects tend to look for customer reviews. This helps them weed out right away whether they want to even deal with your brand. Additionally, it answers a few questions early on without having to bother you unless it’s something more pressing.
Two, it helps persuade them to buy. When they see that a site has great reviews for a number of reasons, they’ll be more enticed to make a purchase. Not only do you have a good product but a solid reputation helps to enhance your authority in whatever niche you should choose. There’s a lot of power in that and it’s something you shouldn’t take for granted.
Three, it gives an example of what you’ll do in case something goes wrong. Not every experience will be a positive one. Someone might write an unfavorable review, but it’s all in how you transform it so that you salvage the relationship. For example, someone can write “I was dissatisfied with the product. However, they offered me a full refund plus a coupon for 25% off on another product. This made me give their brand another try.” Not only does that show that you’re fair, but also willing to go above and beyond the protocol. Here’s a good SlideShare on how customer reviews can help your ecommerce brand:
Is the Customer One-Off or Long Term?
This is such a pivotal thing to think about. Remember, it’s not the number of customers you have, but how many times this person will invest in your brand that matters most. It’s better to have 100 customers that purchase 10 items than 1,000 customers that buy a single item. Why? It’s easier to upsell your current roster that actually enjoys and believes in your brand than turn someone into a new customer.
It’s important to understand and predict the lifetime value each customer brings to the table. If you’re unfamiliar with the term “lifetime value”, it’s how each customer will continue to buy in the future. Ultimately, you’ll be able to predict their behavior and how much they’ll spend in due time. This is important because this gives you a gauge on how you can follow up after each buying action. You want to focus on your core audience because they are the backbone to your progress. Sure, it’s great getting new customers but you have no idea whether they want to make this one purchase and keep it moving or continue to support your brand.
That’s why you need to understand how you can build trust within your immediate community. Think of your customers as a family. These people have needs and live life each day like you do. Why do you want to simply think of them as a transaction? What can you do to improve their lives so that they keep coming back for more? This will help you keep your business around for a long time when you break down your thought process like this. Additionally, you may even get more customers because your core audience enjoys your mission and believes in you that much. It’ll make things easier to promote and bring other people to the table.
Always Think of the Social Aspect
Yes, the end goal is to make money. Of course, any form of commerce has dollars in mind. However, this is an age where the social commentary and interaction is equally as important. On your website, it’s wise to have a place where you can create dialogue for things on your blog. People can comment on the topic at hand, make suggestions, and more. It’s your obligation to at least listen to what they have to say. Remember, you’re not the only one that has a view. Yes, it’s your place but the customers and readers have a say as well. You never know what you might learn. Make it easy for people to comment on these things. Additionally, you want social buttons to be placed on your site so it’s easy to share posts on different social media networks.
Find out what social media site works well for you. If you have more of a picture and video kind of aspect, maybe Instagram, Pinterest, or another site will work well. This is important to note for your recipe, art, or a clothing store. In this case, people want to see the work you have in order and powerful images draw attention. If you have a DIY kind of brand where you give directions on certain things and you have products with instructions, it’s not a bad idea to go on a place like Periscope. There you can have live video and give a brief demo on a few topics. Also, it’s good for the live interaction. People can chime in as you go about your day.
The social aspect helps you relate to the audience more. It puts a face behind the brand and shows a sign of good faith. You stand behind your product or service and you’re not afraid to show yourself.
Keep Incentives in Mind
A good brand always knows how to provide the right incentive. If you found stable customers, it’s your job to continue to add value. One of the ways you can do this is by giving them a little treat every now and again just to say thanks for the support.
Does your customer have a birthday coming up? Why not send them a small card and a “Thank You” message plus $10 towards their next purchase. This is a great way to not only show thanks but it encourages them to buy. If they haven’t shown some activity for a while, then this a respectable manner to get them involved with your brand again. Surely, you’ll have some new product up that will entice them to keep tabs on what you post.
Create a good contest. Sometimes you need to spruce things up. A contest can light the fire in all your customers and show that they are a part of the business as well. For example, you can create a contest to increase your conversions. Send an email to your biggest supporters or anyone you think may participate. You can set up a prize package for the top 3 sellers at the end of the run. This shows who really supports you and can draw a lot of traffic and dollars to your brand within a specified period of time. Get a vote of the top prize packages and get them involved in every step of the way. At the end, you’ll reward those with the 3 prize points and it’ll encourage them to keep working.
Ecommerce is a great way to develop your brand online. When you’re first starting, you want to build your identity and slow grow into a site that draws in traffic and income. What are some tips you suggest for beginners and intermediates wanting to create a great ecommerce site? Post a comment below with your ideas.
In the old days, you will need to hire a programmer to have your ecommerce website set up. You will need to tell them how you want it to look like and they need to work with a designer to turn your idea into a reality.
But today, creating an ecommerce website is now easy. With all the ecommerce platforms available online, you can simply sign-up, choose your website design, make a few tweaks to customize your website to your liking, add your products and start selling. No coding required.
However, the abundance of ecommerce website platforms often leave a would-be online seller paralyzed. Usually, these people have a clear idea on what products they like to sell and who they want to target. But they don’t really have an idea on the facets of ecommerce website platforms and which will fit their needs.
Today, I will show you five of the most popular ecommerce platforms online. We’ll take a closer look at each platform by taking the following factors into consideration: demand, interface, price, design, add-ons and customer service. I’ll review them separately and then give you a side-by-side review. The goal of this guide is to help you choose the right ecommerce platform for your online business.
Are you ready? Let’s dive in.
Shopify is the first brand that comes to mind when online sellers talk about ecommerce platforms. This is understandable for I have never seen a platform that is as intuitive and customer-centric as Shopify.
Shopify is one of the top ecommerce websites online. It has an average Google Trends demand of 71 since 2014. The demand also continues to increase in the last 5 years and as its peak in recent times. Because of the trend, some people call Shopify as the 'king' of ecommerce platforms for they have the majority of online sellers on the Internet.
Shopify has a direct-to-the-point interface. With this, it has a very low learning curve. However, the interface is only easy if you are used to online content editing platforms like WordPress. In fact, some aspects of the website is quite similar to WordPress - the menu on the side and the editable products not to mention the blogpost addition in the design section. Shopify also has an easy-to-edit backend interface where you can easily access orders, products and website design. Just click on the designated menu item and you can easily tweak your product descriptions.
Shopify comes with a free 14-day trial. But after that, you need to pay $13 for the basic plan, $54 for the normal plan and $107 for the advanced plan. The difference is in the number of staff accounts that can handle your online store as well as access to advanced features like the advanced report builder, abandoned cart recovery and the third-party calculated shipping rates.
Shopify will instantly give you a design when you sign up for a free trial. You can then tweak this according to your liking. You can change the colors as well as alter the elements. It has a module system that is quite similar to some customizable WordPress themes.
If you don't like your default theme, you can choose from a selection of free themes that are available within the platform. If it is still not to your liking, you can look at the paid themes available in its theme marketplace.
Similar to themes, Shopify has a marketplace for apps or add-ons. These help in increasing functionalities within your online store. For example, you may want to add some product reviews to increase the social proof of your products. For that, you may want to get the Shopify product review app.
If you liked an app, simply click on the green button with the word 'Get' and it will be reflected in your online store. However, you must note that not all apps are free. So you should read before you click on the word 'Get'.
Similar to themes, Shopify has a marketplace for apps or add-ons. These help in increasing functionalities within your online store. For example, you may want to add some product reviews to increase the social proof of your products. For that, you may want to get the Shopify product review app.
If you liked an app, simply click on the green button with the word 'Get' and it will be reflected in your online store. However, you must note that not all apps are free. So you should read before you click on the word 'Get'.
Shopify has a help center that allow you to ask a question about anything related to your online store. From here, its system will do an automatic search in its documentation database for possible solutions.
However, there doesn't seem to be any human element when it comes to their customer support.
I cannot help but mention BigCommerce if we are going to talk about ecommerce platforms. This platform may not be as straightforward as other platforms but the variety of options is just so attractive. In fact, you'll be surprised on how many facets of your online store you can tweak with BigCommerce.
The demand of Bigcommerce is smaller than that of Shopify but is market is mostly concentrated in Australia. Shopify's market is mostly in Canada and the United States. This shows how BigCommerce will continue to be a contender in the ecommerce industry.
The interface is also quite similar to WordPress. There is the menu on the left hand side and you can edit it in the right hand section which takes a bigger portion of the screen. The only difference from Shopify is the abundance of options within options. Once you choose an item in the navigation bar on the left hand side, there is another navigation bar on top.
The starting price is quite high compared with Shopify. The price starts at $29.95 for the Standard Plan. This gives the online seller unlimited space for products and unlimited staff accounts. The next plan is plus which costs $79.95 per month. This includes an abandoned cart saver and customer group segmentation. The most expensive plan is Pro which costs $249.95 per month. This then includes Google customer reviews, faceted search and a custom SSL. The only thing I did not like is the limit on sales. You need to only make $50k a year if you are on the Standard plan, $150k a year if you are on the Plus plan and $400k a year if you are on the Pro plan. Else, they would have to upgrade your plan.
Like Shopify, you can also customize your theme. There is a customize button that you can click and this will take you to a place where you can alter the styles, the header and footer and other facets of the homepage.
And if that is not good enough for you, you can also install some themes. BigCommerce has a theme marketplace where you can get access to a ton of free and paid themes for your online store.
BigCommerce also has a selection of apps that you can choose from. You can choose based on whether the app is free or paid or you can choose based on functionality. BigCommerce has an app for every task imaginable. From accounting to product sourcing, BigCommerce apps have everything covered.
Customer service is better in BigCommerce. It comes for free for all of their plans. This means that as long as you are their customer, you can have complete access to them 24/7. What I love about BigCommerce is the abundance of customer service options. Aside from Live Chat, it also has email and other forms of inquiries. This makes you feel really supported as you create your first online store.
Starting as a web design agency in 1999, Volusion grew to become an ecommerce solution for customers. The very first ecommerce website was launched in 2002 making Volusion one of the pioneers in the ecommerce platform industry.
The demand for Volusion, however, has gone down over the years. It seems that the company was not able to sustain its initial interest. While it is true that it is one of the first companies that introduced ecommerce into the world wide web, it is not able to sustain its customers as they have now fled to find better and more updated solutions for their online store creation and maintenance.
The Interface of Volusion is okay. Upon creating an account, you will be taken into a step-by-step process to design and get your online store off the ground. But if you're not a fan of tutorials and you would rather skip it, the website can be quite confusing without it. All you will see is a horizontal navigation bar on top that contains tons of options. This would have been better if the options were categorized so that they don't look overwhelming.
Pricing is reasonable. It starts at $15 per month and grows up to $135 per month. Pricing-wise, it is not that high. But you have to look closely at what is included in order to understand it. You'll be surprised that this limits not just the number of products that you can add but also your bandwidth (Yikes!). Also, support varies. They will only allow phone support for Plus plans and only give you priority once you have a Pro or Premium plan.
The designs are also quite mediocre in my opinion. Truly, it is an ecommerce platform that seemed to have been frozen in time. While the designs themselves are not ugly, there is a lack of customizable options. It only allows you to edit it through HTML or CSS. This is not good if you don't have any web design or programming background. Also, you are limited to the designs that they provide which is just 49 themes.
Add-ons are non-existent. Instead, it gives you a list of applications or websites that it has integrations in. Volusion integrates with as much as 36 websites. But there is no option for add-ons in your online store dashboard.
As I have said in the pricing section, customer service is rendered depending on the plan that you have ordered. You will get priority support if you have the Pro or Premium plan and you'll get online and phone support if you have the Plus Plan and just online support if you have the Standard plan.
3DCart has been the ecommerce provider for medium to large businesses since 1997. They have now expanded their offerings to serve small online business owners. In the business for 18 years, the platform is now service as much as 17,000 online business owners from different parts of the world.
The demand for 3DCart is not astonishing but it also cannot be ignored. 3DCart's demand has been steady for the last 5 years but it is always fluctuating. This may be dure to the fact that they are popular to some medium to big sized businesses but not as popular for startup business owners.
The interface of 3Dcart reminds me a lot of BigCommerce. It is simple and has a menu in the left hand side. Then there are tons of options but everything is neatly organized.
Editing sections is easy. Just click on a section and you can easily edit it as if you are editing a blogpost in WordPress. With this, the interface of 3DCart is quite similar with that of Shopify and BigCommerce.
3DCart starts with a basic plan for $29 per month. This is for 2 staff users. Then, there is the plus plan that is priced at $79 per month. This has all the basic features plus CRM, Customer segmentation, 3dFeedback, Store credits, abandoned cart saver and deals. Third is the Growing Business plan at $229 per month. This includes the option to have Autoresponder campaigns, a gift registry, a reward points loyalty program and an autoship feature. Lastly, there is the Enterprise plan. The pricing depends on your demand and custom programming needs.
Also, 3DCart boasts tons of unlimited services for all of its plans. There is no limit on the number of orders, products and bandwidth. On top of all of these, 3DCart also doesn't deduct a transaction fee.
Instagram has grown to be more than a visual social platform. It has now become a marketing platform. In fact, there are many small businesses that are able to sell their products and services on Instagram alone. It is that powerful.
However, you’ll need some tools if you want to amplify your marketing power. After all, there is a limit to what you can do if you do it alone. Instagram marketing is serious business. It requires you to go not only create visually appealing and engaging content. You also need to deal with metrics, Instagram stories and direct messages. Without tools, these tasks can take most of your day leaving you with little to no time to deal with your customers.
Fortunately, there is an abundance of tools that you can use. Here are 10 of my favorites.
On the surface, OSI Affiliate may seem like an ordinary affiliate marketing tool. But it does more than affiliate marketing. In fact, it can also be quite useful in influencer marketing on Instagram.
Here’s how it works. You simply look for influencers in your niche on Instagram. This can be done by either searching for variations in your niche hashtag. So if you’re selling yoga pants, you’ll want to search for #yoga or #instayoga. Just look for communities or names around your product and that’s good.
PRO TIP: When searching for influencers, try targeting micro-influencers instead of the big names. Ideally, you should target anyone who has around 1000 to 10,000 followers. They have a higher chance of replying to your offer.
Once you have an influencer list, it is time to contact them. You contact them via direct message. In here, you can give them your proposal. You can give them an exclusive discount code to your products or you can give them a freebie. Also, you can sign them up as affiliates so that they can earn a commission for every person they refer to you. All of these can be done through the OSI Affiliate platform.
And that’s not all. If you are releasing a new product, you can also include influencers into an affiliate contest. This will allow them to win more products as they promote you to their followers.
The power of Instagram lies in its images. As the community grows, the demand for high quality images become stronger. It is with this reason that tools like VSCO came to be. These are photo editor tools that allow you to alter certain elements in your photos before posting them.
What I love about VSCO is the tools. While other people may like their filters, I like to do my own ‘filters’ by fiddling with the tools. Unlike other photo editing apps which apply pre-designed filters, the tools allow you to alter the intensity of certain elements such as exposure, contrast and highlights. This gives you more freedom to alter the final picture.
Most of the photos that you will export using the tool will often look amazing as well. It just goes so well with Instagram.
If you have been seeing quotes on pictures on Instagram, the tool behind that are word-on-picture apps like WordSwag. Unlike the old fashioned way of photoshopping images just to add text, we now have an assortment of apps that can do that for you. On the top of the list is WordSwag for it allows you to add text to your images in just a few seconds.
This is good if you are in a niche that shares a particular culture. After all, brands are now more than products they sell. Brands are also about the culture that they embody. The best way to embody a culture is to constantly share quotes. This will embed your message to your followers' brains.
What makes Instagram quotes so special? Well, they are highly shareable. Every instagram images has a button that allows users to share quotes to their Instagram stories. The most shared type of content on Instagram are quotes.
You may have the image content and you have an influencer marketing strategy. But unless you have a regular posting schedule, all of that will amount to nothing. For that, you’ll need Buffer. Buffer is known to be a social media scheduling tool and it has Instagram too.
Setting up a promotion campaign on Buffer is easy. You only need to upload the image that you have created on VSCO or Wordswag and load it on Buffer. You can then input the description of the image and set the date and time on when you want it to be posted.
NOTE: Buffer is a scheduling tool and NOT an auto-posting tool. This means that it will inform you when it is time to post on Instagram but it will not automatically post the image for you. You still have to do that manually once you get the notification.
Given its limits, Buffer is still an amazing tool to work with. This is because it allows you to post to more than just Instagram. One post can instantly be posted in multiple social media accounts once it is done. It only costs $10 per month to be able to handle 10 profiles and have 100 scheduled posts.
5. CutStory for Instagram Stories
As I have mentioned earlier, marketing cannot get you far if you don’t have valuable content. But there’s another area of Instagram that seems to be underutilized. What I am talking about are Instagram Stories.
Here’s the problem with Instagram Stories. Not only does the content disappear in 24 hours. There is also a 15-second limit for your stories. This time is so limited that it can prevent you from posting a good story.
CutStory is a tool that aims to solve this problem. What this does is it cuts any long videos into 15-second postable chunks. But the best part is that you can post them in chronological order. This means that nothing gets left out and your followers will still be able to see the entire video.
So if you found an influencer who is able to post long videos in a chronological way, the secret to that is CutStory.
Hashtags are powerful. And it is even more powerful on Instagram. Hashtags make it easier for people to find your post and it can lead to more sales if you plan to sell something on the platform.
One of the tools that can help you is Hashtagify. This is a Twitter hashtag tool but you can also use it for Instagram. It can give a tag cloud of ideas related to your initial hashtag.
And that's not all. What makes Hashtagify so special is its ability to link metrics to its hashtags. You'll be able to see how popular the hashtag is as well as how well it converts. You’ll instantly see a metrics wheel once you search for a term. Then, you’ll get a cloud of hashtags with a list of influencers. Below that is the trends line along with the languages and spelling variants used for the hashtags. You'll also see the countries that made the most searches along with the people who have used it in their Twitter posts.
PRO TIP: The tool also seems to be quite valuable when it comes to researching Twitter influencers. So if you are looking for influencers to promote your Instagram page, you can use this platform to reach out to influencers in your niche.
Another area in Instagram that seems to be underutilized for marketing is the direct message. Not only are marketers scared of spamming people, they are also scared of reaching out. But they are clearly losing sales. This is because the direct message is such a powerful tool when it comes to marketing.
What makes direct messaging so special is the fact that it doesn't include distractions. When people are scrolling through Instagram and they found an ad. They can just scroll down and look for other distractions. But that is not the case with a direct message. When someone views a message, all they see is the message and nothing more.
A tool you can use for this is BigBanGram. This is a direct instagram messaging tool and it claims to have increased sales by as much as 56.8%.
In this tool, you have three options. First, you can send a bulk message to your followers. Next, you can also send a new message if the follower is new. This is a one-time message that you send once someone joins your Instagram followers. Then, you can also select users and send them a bulk broadcast.
This is powerful. This is because it allows you to utilize Instagram as a platform for direct marketing. You no longer depend on Instagram ads or your posts. You can also reach out to your followers via direct message.
Do you know the best time to post in your Instagram profile? Well, that will depend on how well your followers will respond. Iconosquare allows you to go inside the minds of your Instagram follower so that you can market to them better.
What makes iconosquare is that it gives you data that can help you improve your marketing. With this, you will no longer be throwing darts hoping that it hits. You know what your market needs and you adapt your marketing based on that.
The result? You get to save more money and time in your marketing efforts. Analytics is powerful so you should use it to your benefit.
Another problem for business owners is the management of multiple profiles. Iconosquare helps you with that as well. It allows you to log in your accounts and see all the posts in one convenient dashboard. It may be great if you have a social media team that handles your postings.
But the power of Iconosquare doesn't stop there. Like Buffer, it also allows you to upload, schedule and manage posts in your Instagram account. It is truly an all-in-one tool for it is more than just analytics.
Influencer marketing is powerful but it is hard. Not only do you need to manually search for influencer contact information (which by the way, is not easily accessible), but you also need to send them messages and follow up if they have received your message. On the surface, the process may seem simple. But it is not. If all of these are done manually, you can spend hours even if you are just dealing with 10 influencers.
Thankfully, there is a tool called Ninja Outreach. This tool allows you to search and store influencer contact information
Ninja Outreach is a great tool because it knows the work that goes into influencer marketing. First, it allows you to easily find leads and emails. Then, you can store this in your influencer database.
From here, you can now start sending templates. This will then help you to grow your traffic. While automated, the content of the template should still be customized according to who you are talking to.
With this, you will be able to scale your influencer marketing easily. This is great especially if you are selling on Instagram.
As mentioned, Instagram is serious business. Not only do you need to publish engaging content regularly, you also need to respond to your followers. With this, you need a management tool that can do everything and Sendible is perfect for that.
You see, Sendible is more than just a scheduling or posting tool. It allows you to see all your posts and messages in one convenient area where you can reply. And not only that, you can also create analytics report and manage everything with a team of people.
And that’s not all. Sendible also has a Canva integration allowing you to create your own images. It is like almost all the tools I mentioned above is in one convenient tool. Price starts at $24 a month. This allows you to add as much as 4 social media accounts.
What do you think of the tools? Which do you like to use first? Tell me all about it in the comments.
Authenticity. It is one of the requirements of today’s successful brands.
Customers are looking for more than just products or services. They need brands that they can identify with and support.
Because of this, a new type of content is born. It is called Live Video - a video done in real time.
When live video was first released on Facebook back in April, 2016, nobody knows how to use it. Sure, live video is quite simple to understand. It is just a video done in real time. But it seems that there are nuances to this new type of content that makes it less appealing to the old content marketers. Later, as live video has also appeared in other social media networks such as Youtube and Instagram, more people got to use it. But these people only comprise a mere 16% of all marketers in the platform. That is pretty low.
Still, the low adoption numbers doesn’t mean that the content type doesn’t work. In fact, some case studies have proven that it live video is better in driving engagement than the normal video. Also, it has the ability to drive millions of views to one video. It is that powerful.
Why are people not using Live Video?
The answer may surprise you.
For some, they think that live video is not for them. They think that it is only for brands with a ridiculous amount of followers. If they only have a few followers, they would often dismiss the idea of hosting a live video.
For others, it is the friction of trying to learn a new content type in a new platform. People can be quite traditional. They love to stick to their old habits. With this, they would rather create content in an outdated manner than try an ‘unproven’ method or content type. This is the reason why most marketers just skip the idea of having a live video. For them, it just takes too much time to learn.
But it doesn’t have to be that hard. Today, I’ll show you the exact steps you need to take in order to do live video on Facebook.
NOTE: This guide will only cover Facebook live videos. I will not cover other social media websites with live-sharing options.
Guide to Live Videos on Facebook
There are two ways to post live videos on Facebook. You can do it through your desktop computer or through your mobile phone.
Nothing beats shooting live videos through your mobile phone. It allows for quick shifts in perspective and it is lighter to bring with you wherever you go.
Mobile Live Videos
For mobile users, posting a live video is as easy as tapping the Live option in your mobile phone. Just go to the place where you put status updates (What's on your mind box) and choose the red 'Live' button.
From here, Facebook will ask for permission to access your phone. You should give access to your camera and microphone for this to work.
Then, you'll have the option to choose the privacy for your live video. You have the option to share it with all of your friends, share it publicly or just keep it to 'Only Me' until you're ready for others to see it.
NOTE: You may also exclude some friends if you want. There is a 'Friends Except..' option that can help you do that.
Before you go live, be sure to briefly describe the video. This will give your followers an idea on what you're doing and should encourage them to click on your livestream. Be sure to include benefits in your description. This will entice your audience to click on it more and watch you.
If you are holding a conference or event in real time and you want to live stream it online, you can tag the people that you are with as well as indicate the actual location of the event. You may even add an activity just to tell people what your livestream is all about.
Once you have all of that done, you are ready to go live. Just make sure that your camera is ready. Change it to 'selfie' if you are shooting yourself or click it back to normal camera view if you are shooting a location. This is the great thing with using a mobile phone. You can easily shift camera perspectives without any worries.
NOTE: Here's a little extra touch. You can also add some lenses and filters to your videos. Just click on the sparkling pen icon and you'll be able to edit the video. In here, you can put some text and drawings or just apply some filters.
And just click 'Go Live' and you're done. This will then appear on the newsfeed of your target audience.
Static Live Videos
Instead of shooting yourself in real time or taking your audience with you wherever you go, you may want to have a live static broadcast. This works well for interviews or conferences that can be shot in one location with one camera. For this option, you may choose to set up your live videos through your desktop computer.
The process is generally the same with the mobile method. There is only a slight difference in the buttons and options.
For desktop, you need to go to the 'Write something' portion in your Facebook page. In here, you'll see a variety of options: Share a Photo or Video, Advertise your Business, Get Phone Calls, Get Messages... You need to click on 'See All' to access the Live option.
You'll see the icon in red. It says 'Start a Live Video'. Click on that and you're ready to set up your live stream.
As I have told you earlier, the process is the same. You need to write a description and alter the privacy of your Live Video. I could not stress how important descriptions are. They must be created to entice people to see the value of your live video and get them to click and watch it.
From here, all you have to do is allow Facebook to access your camera and microphone. This will ensure that you get to record both the video and audio clearly.
Finalize everything and you're ready to broadcast. Just click 'Go Live' and that's it.
What to Do After Launching a Live Video
Now that you're live, here are three things that you must do.
Engage with your Viewers
Just because you went live doesn't mean that you should stop engaging with your viewers. But instead of using the comment feature (as in normal videos), you should engage in real time. Look at the camera and talk to your viewers. Be candid in your reactions. People will appreciate that you're real.
Read their Comments
Some people who post live videos have the habit of reading comments as the video happens. Then, they react to comments as they come along. This is an interesting activity to add to videos. Some influencers or celebrities even go to the extent of doing whatever their 'fans' tell them for a certain period of time. It helps them to bond with their fans even for just an hour or so.
Keep a Copy of Your Live Video and Post it
You may also want to post a copy of your video when you're done. We live in an international world after all. Everyone may not be online when you did your live video but they may be interested in your content. Posting it even though the live is done will keep your followers updated,
How do Live Videos Perform?
It is not enough to have a live video, you should also know how it performs. This is where Facebook Analytics come in handy.
Analyzing your videos is as easy as visiting the Insights section in your Facebook page.
Then, you can choose Videos.
This will now show you all the top videos as well as give you access to your Video library.
Now, this section offers two types of data: pre-recorded video data and Live video data. You should focus more on Live video.
What type of data can you expect to get? Well, there are your live viewers, the total views, the average watch time, the people reached and the demographics of your reach.
And if you have done some live videos through time, you can also view how each metric changes. As you click on a metric, it will show you a live interactive graph.
And it doesn't stop there. You can even get a peek of your viewer data as you do your broadcast. Although I don't suggest that you do it to prevent you from getting diverted. Stats are just stats. You should still focus more on meeting the needs of your viewers.
How to Get the Most out of Facebook Live
All of your live videos will not be a hit. But there are always some practices that you can do to increase your chances of success.
Make it a Habit to Introduce Yourself
Hosting a live video means that you are exposing yourself to millions of people around the globe. Since it's live, you don't know when they joined the stream. Because of this, you will need to introduce yourself multiple times in the first few minutes of your broadcast.
Spontaneity is the Key
Why are people watching your live videos? Sure, they may do it because they like you. But there is something more to that. They watch your live videos because they want to see an aspect of you that they have never seen before.
What is it? It is the spontaneous part of you, of course! It is that part of you without the edits and frills. It is as if they are there with you as a friend. So be spontaneous. Don’t freeze in front of the camera just because you’re live. I am sure your followers would love to know the real you.
Always Test Your Videos Before You Go Live
Testing will save you the headache of talking only to see that your mobile camera is facing the other way. It also saves your face from shooting a video that you are ‘Umm’-in your way out of. Testing is essential for you to see how the video will turn out before you go there to let other people see it.
The 'Only Me' option in Facebook is such a gem. It allows you to host Live Videos all by yourself. What this does is it helps you practice what you are about to say and it helps you see how the live recording will turn out before you even do it. It is a nice way to dry run your video before you go live.
Don't be a Live Madman
Here's a warning. Don't get addicted to Live Videos. Be sure to mix your page up with other forms of content. While live videos give you a way to connect with your audience, that doesn't mean that you should do it all the time. Keep a little mystery to yourself and your followers will thank you for it.
So don't be a live madman. 1-2 Live videos per month may be enough for your followers to feel connected.
Facebook Live offers a fresh new way to reach followers. Aside from merely giving them content that they use, you take the time to throw the seriousness out of the window and just interact with them. In this hyperconnected world, connection and interaction is more important than ever. People don't just buy branded products and services. They attach themselves to what a brand stands for.
With Live Videos, you now have a tool that can help you reveal who you truly are to your customers. They get to see you without all the editing and that's special. And in this age where trust is the main driving factor for sales, it is an important aspect that businesses must practice a little more.
Did you know that over 1 billion people use Instagram every month? And it is not that just. According to Hootsuite, Over 500 million of them love to use the platform everyday. And this market is super targeted with most of them comprising of users under the age of 35. This is a good market to sell products to.
Because of this, the number of online stores in the platform has increased. 71% of US businesses now use Instagram to promote their business. In fact, there are now 25 million business profiles on Instagram. And it is expected to keep growing in the years to come. Some online sellers were able to create a full time business just from the platform. This means that they still earn money even if they don’t have a website or a store in other social media platforms. That’s how powerful Instagram is.
Also, users of Instagram are very open to product promotions. Unlike Facebook and email where users often ignore ads, Instagram offers a no-distraction view of ads in mobile gadgets. The user only sees the ad and nothing else. And since it uses pictures, it allows for better mental retention for advertisers. With this, it is not surprising that over 75% of Instagram users purchase through the platform. In fact, they even use it to search for other products through hashtags.
One of the ways why Instagram marketing is so effective is because of hashtags. This allows sellers to have their posts discovered through the built in Instagram search system. In this article, you’ll learn what a hashtag is, why it is useful in your business and how you can use it to boost your traffic and sales.
What’s a Hashtag?
A hashtag is a word with a ‘#’ sign in the beginning. It is usually added to Instagram posts and act as links to other posts or photos in the same category. If keywords are used in search engines, hashtags are used in social media channels. This allows users to search through all the posts and find the ones that they need the most.
Why are Hashtags Useful in Your Business
Hashtags are useful in your business for it can help you in three ways.
Hashtags Help You Get Discovered
As mentioned, hashtags allow your content to be searchable in Instagram. If you append a hashtag to your photo, that photo will show in the search results when someone searches for that particular hashtag. This will help people find your brand.
NOTE: Hashtags can only work if your Instagram is public. If your account is private, no one is going to find you even if you append hashtags in your photos. So be sure to set your profile to public if you want to experience a boost of extra social media search traffic from hashtags.
Hashtags Connect You With Your Industry
Hashtags are often themed. This means that if you append a particular hashtag to your photo, there are also other people who are doing the same. Because of this, hashtags allow you to connect with people in your industry. So if you have posted a photo, you’ll easily find another photo with the same hashtags. This is quite useful if you want to connect with your industry or want to do influencer marketing.
Hashtags Help Get More Traffic to your Instagram Profile
By making your profile more discoverable in Instagram search, you get more traffic to your posts. If your posts are worth engaging in, you’ll find that the simple act of adding hashtags to your posts will already generate some likes and comments to your photos. This will increase your reach in Instagram. This is useful especially if you are running an ecommerce website that have different products. With hashtags, your potential customers will find your profile and buy from you.
How to Use Hashtags to Promote Your Business
Knowing about hashtags is different from actually using it in your business. I have seen businesses in Instagram that are completely new but they manage to get more likes, followers and sales just because of hashtags. It is about using hashtags to its full potential. In this section, you’ll learn different ways to use hashtags to boost your traffic and sales.
STEP 1: Research Hashtags
First, you should learn to search hashtags. You will not know what hashtags to use for your posts if you don’t know them. They are more than just using general searchable keywords. It is about knowing the right combination of keywords that are used by most users of Instagram.
For example, users love to append the word ‘insta’ in their main hashtag. So if they have a picture of food, they will have a hashtag called ‘instafood’. The same is true for others such as ‘instatravel’, ‘instadrink’ and the likes. The same is the word ‘gram’. They use keywords like ‘foodstagram’ or ‘kawaiistagram’. It is about researching your industry and getting to know the hashtags that they use the most.
To search for hashtags, simply go to the discover section of your Instagram app. There you can input a keyword and then select hashtags. One word will often reveal more related hashtags. This will give you an idea on what hashtags your audience is using.
NOTE: When searching for hashtags, Instagram is now showing the posts with the highest engagements. I find that it is better to shift to the more recent option. This way, you’ll find all the recent posts with the hashtag. These are more useful than really old photos with a high number of likes.
STEP 2: Put Hashtags in the Comment Section
A common error in putting hashtags is to put it in the main description of your posts. If you do this, the photo gets a series of hashtags instead of a proper caption. While this used to be acceptable 3 years ago, it is not so acceptable now. Instead of putting the hashtags right at the caption, it is better to write a caption and put the series of hashtags in the comment. This way, the hashtags will still allow your post to be discoverable but it will not crowd the caption section.
STEP 3: Incorporate Hashtags into your Caption
In connection with not crowding your caption with hashtags, you should try to incorporate the hashtags right into your caption. For example, instead of putting the hashtags ‘#instadessert #desserstagram #foodie #foodpic #foodstagram’ in your food post. You can include it right in your caption like this. ‘Feeling such a pro #foodie lately. Here is a picture perfect for #dessertstagram.’ As you can see, the hashtags are included in the phrase instead of being listed as a bunch of keywords. It looks more natural this way.
STEP 4: Look at Similar Instagram Profiles
From here, you may still be wondering about the type of keywords that you should use for your hashtags. Well, there are no set of keywords that are right for you. It all depends on your research. It will help to look at similar Instagram profiles when you do this.
You can do this in two ways.
First, you can look at the profiles that come up when you search for a particular keyword. When you use Instagram’s search feature, you’ll find that you will get some profiles in the result. You can click on these profiles to see their photos and what tags they are using.
Another way is to search for the hashtag and look at the photos that are using it. There’s a huge chance that the photos that used the hashtag that you have searched for are using other hashtags as well. You can now collect these hashtags for your own posting.
PRO TIP: There are now some hashtag generator apps that create the hashtags for you. This can cut your research time in half. All you need to do is feed it with a seed keyword and it will automatically generate a series of hashtags that you can copy and paste to your posts. An example of this is AllHashtag and Ingramer.
STEP 5: Use Branded Hashtags
Hashtags are not limited to keywords. You can also use your brand name and variations of your brand name to promote your business. Branded hashtags are great for tracking mentions. This way, you know who is promoting your business.
NOTE: For this to work, you need to let your audience know that you have a branded hashtag. Then, you should instruct them to use this hashtag every time they talk about you. You can combine this with referral marketing so that you can reward them every time they mention you. This will encourage them to constantly use your hashtag so that their family and friends can get to know your business.
STEP 6: Use Hashtags in Influencer Marketing
Hashtags are quite useful in influencer marketing as well. If you choose to work with a particular influencer, you can create a dedicated hashtag just for that. This can do multiple things for your business. First, it can strengthen your credibility. This will show that you are a business that can be trusted. Second, it can improve your social proof. The hashtag will solidify your relationship with the influencer in your prospects’ minds. So if they see the influencer, they can think about you as well.
STEP 7: Use Hashtags for Sorting Your Photos into Categories
Running an online store with Instagram? No problem! Hashtags can help you sort your products into categories. Some sellers use hashtags to tag items that are available and items that are sold out. This way, their buyers will know which item is still available just by clicking on the hashtag. It is also good if you post multiple products a day. With a hashtag, you can sort your products so that your customers will only see the products that they are interested in. With the hashtag, they will be able to filter through your posts.
STEP 8: Use Hashtags for Contests and Events
There is a reason why there are dedicated hashtags for weddings and events. This is not only for sorting photos but also for promotion purposes. These hashtags are often unique to the event. For weddings, it is a witty combination of the names of the bride and groom. What matters is that it is memorable. This way, the people who participated in the event can easily use it and find posts that pertains to the event.
Also, hashtags are great for contests. You can run a contest where you require your followers to share your photo on Instagram. They can then use a hashtag so that you can easily find their posts. This is great for giveaways. It has a chance to increase your follower count as well.
PRO TIP: Combine contests with influencer marketing and you have one powerful way to promote to your market. All you need to do is find an influencer whose followers are relevant to your business. From there, you can host a contest with them. Just provide the prize and they will do the promotion. You can also combine this with the combined hashtag idea from the other step. Just combine your brand name with the influencer’s name and you have a powerful hashtag that can boost your credibility, traffic and sales all in one go.
Hashtags are indeed powerful. It may seem like an ordinary word appended to related photos on Instagram but it is an untapped marketing tool for getting more traffic and sales to your business. It is important to not only use hashtags but understand the logic behind why your audience use it. This will allow you to think creatively of new hashtags that you can use for your posts.
What do you think of hashtags? Are you going to use it in your next Instagram post? You really have nothing to lose. Adding hashtags to your post is free. It offers you free promotion across the Instagram platform. If you want more exposure, you can run some ads. But hashtags offer you a free way to get some traffic and sales to your business.
As a brand, you know that you have achieved greatness when your brand is now identified with your industry product. It’s how most kitchen wipes are called Kleenex and searching for a term on the internet is called “Google.” One of the most iconic brands in the world is Starbucks and they did not just happen to become a great brand overnight. Starbucks has over the years invested a lot of effort and money in marketing and customer satisfaction in a bid to ensure that the Starbucks experience is constant anywhere in the world you find yourself looking for a cup of coffee.
While it is easy to look at what Starbucks has achieved as the result of having millions of dollars available for marketing, this does not mean that replicating Starbucks’ marketing strategy will cost as much or is impossible. This is because behind all the huge funds that the brand dedicates to marketing, there are basic marketing strategies and principles that helped to build the brand.
A brief history of Starbucks
The company as we know it today started in 1971 with Jerry Baldwin, Zev Siegl and Gordon Bowker selling coffee beans. The logo of Starbucks contains the iconic mermaid of Norse mythology. The image has gone through a lot of changes before arriving at the iconic green logo that everyone has come to know for premium coffee today. The first Starbucks Coffeehouse did not open until 13 years after the company was formed. When Starbucks completed its first IPO, it rebranded to the logo that it now uses in all its marketing efforts today.
How does Starbucks Cater to its Target Market?
One of the most important principles that Starbucks keeps to is caring for their customers. Based on some research reports done in 2017, Starbucks caters to middle and upper-class men and women who have the financial capacity for Starbucks’ premium beverages and the offerings regularly. Starbucks has a mission to bring the best coffee in the world to their customers without compromising their principles during growth.
The founders of Starbucks thus had the focus from the very beginning to create a shop that would be the “Third Place” after the workplace and the home. This can be reflected in the new mission statement of Starbucks which is to “inspire and nurture the human spirit where they are, through every cup. As you can see, this can tell you that Starbucks has always had a focus to create a genuine relationship between customers, baristas and the company.
This is representative of exactly what Starbucks is known for, creating an amazing environment where people can have a great time and refill their cups. This personal connection is extremely important and one of the main reasons why a lot of people will pick the more expensive Starbucks coffee and atmosphere and experience over a cheaper coffee elsewhere. This is why people also prefer to go to a Starbucks coffeehouse even though they can make a cup at home.
The learning from this is that people will pay for an experience more than they would pay for a product. Being able to sit in the coffeehouse with your laptop and chat with friends while you work is a unique experience that a lot of people love Starbucks for around the world. By ensuring that the message and customer experience is not diluted, you can define your target audience and ensure they stay loyal to your brand for a very long time.
Exploring the Marketing Strategies of Starbucks
Starbucks is an international brand that offers the same appeal all around the world. A benefit of being such a global brand is that it would have a large marketing budget that allows it to hire the best marketing teams to ensure that it continues to maintain its global appeal. However, there are some marketing strategies that Starbucks has been using to ensure that it remains at the summit of the coffee market.
Consistent Branding and Customer Experience
You know a Starbucks the moment you see it anywhere in the world, no matter the country or location because the company is consistent with everything they do as regards the brand. The classic siren logo is iconic and after going through different redesigns, it has remained constant in a way that when you see the green Siren, you just know it is a Starbucks cup. The latest branding in 2011 removed texts from the logo and left it with just the main graphic. This allows the brand to be placed anywhere and on any product, and still have the same appeal without looking out of place.
What this helps Starbucks with is that whether you are on an online blog or social media reading a caption, watching the TV advert or seeing the Starbucks brand anywhere, you always feel the same way. The look and feel are always consistent, and you get everything that comes with the brand no matter which media you see it on.
As a business, you should always ensure that your brand provides a recognizable experience for all customers so that they can keep coming back to your business. This also makes it easier to make brand ambassadors that will do your products proud anywhere you go.
Why do you spend twice the amount of money on a Starbucks coffee rather than go to McDonald’s drive-through? That is because you are paying for one of the highest quality coffees in the market. The audience of Starbucks have come to appreciate the high quality of the product and the experiential value that it offers. That premium Starbucks coffee tastes better than most other franchises also helps as well as their promise to fix your drink if you don’t like it.
Starbucks has deservedly earned their reputation as “the third place” because of the way they have created a wonderful environment around their locations all around the world. Starbucks everywhere from malls to airports to streets always look and feel the same way. People are relaxing, happy and working without worrying about anything. There’s plenty of food and drinks to go around and people can have their business or lunch meetings there. You can even hang out with your friends at a Starbucks and not feel like you’re away from home or intruding on others. The ambiance is something that other brands try to replicate but find it hard to do.
Starbucks has an excellent Rewards program through which they incentivize customers to buy their products. These rewards include free in-store refills, free products, gift cards and cashback offers. Discounts and many other offers also ensure that customers feel like they are benefiting from the Starbucks ecosystem. You can do the same thing with your business by doing a referral program. You can easily manage a referral program of any kind using a software like Omnistar to ensure that you can grow your business. Increasing sales and traffic is easy when customers feel like they are getting rewards.
A lot of these promotions are also done via social media where Starbucks rewards customers for sharing their content online. The brand generally retweets and does giveaways regularly to reward their social media followers too.
Social Media Use
Starbucks has succeeded in creating a culture on social media that any marketing team will be proud of. What Starbucks has done is to ensure that they create large social media channels that not only repurpose content uniformly across all channels but also interact with their customers. Starbuck creates plenty of content, but they break each one down into many smaller units that are then reused across different channels. Each social media platform has unique content according to its type of users. The language is distinct, friendly and simple. Twitter uses short form so even though the caption is shorter there, it still carries the same unique feel that you get.
Customers are also encouraged to take pictures with their Starbucks coffee cups and at coffee shops and share these on social media. The brand then retweets these and use them in campaigns. This encourages customers to share information about referrals, promos and other Starbucks-related activities. Their extensive social media usage helps them to create brand ambassadors in the everyday man and woman. Starbucks also does social media promotions and contests regularly where it rewards likes, shares and mentions. This social media strategy is part of how the general Starbucks appeal transcends just the storefront to social media. Also, Starbucks also ensures that customers with issues who report to the brand on social media also receive quick responses.
Convenience: The Starbucks Mobile App
Starbucks makes it easy for you to walk into a store and pick up your order. Because a large part of the Starbucks demographic is people that are upwardly mobile and on the go, the mobile app is a great way to purchase products on the go with a mobile phone and pick them up in the store with little delay. The Starbucks app lets the company deliver all the benefits of a loyalty card, a referral program and a customer rewards program all into the same location. The more you use, the more discounts and free drinks that you can get at your favorite stores. The app also recommends products to customers by analyzing their purchasing habits and search history. It is worth noting that the convenience of using the Starbucks app has been so profound since it was introduced in 2011. More than 20% of all Starbucks purchases are actually now done through the app. The app is also available on all the major mobile OS platforms to ensure that it has maximum coverage.
Using an app for marketing is a great way to incorporate referral software to your marketing mix to make I easier
Do you know that Starbucks is one of the most socially responsible companies in the world? Many times, they have used their brand to serve as social advocates at local and international levels. Starbuck is openly LGBT-friendly and has established its stores as safe havens for people of all sexuality. A lot of brands also try to toe this line but sometimes remain neutral on the truly divisive issues. Starbucks also regularly donates to humanitarian activities around the world such as the 2015 Syrian crisis, providing millions of dollars for refugees and migrants.
Starbucks also launched an initiative to recruit 10,000 military veterans into its workforce, a move that was applauded nationwide. In short, Starbucks is socially responsible and does its part to impact the country and the world at large.
Starbucks is a branding giant with a huge marketing budget, but they still do the simple things right. A company must ensure that its social media presence is representative of its goals, vision and products. By engaging customers via social media, promotions and referral programs, sales and revenue will definitely be improved. Be convenient, be available to your demographic through the most accessible means of communication that they have. By so doing, you are making your market, your brand ambassadors and advocates which results in free marketing pull that also makes running a referral program easier. While not every brand can be successful at social or political activism, it is possible to be socially responsible and have a great reputation at the same time. Marketing never stops and can be done through a mix of carefully selected strategies.
Starbucks has shown that it is possible to build a marketing brand from the ground up and still maintain a human face, excellent customer service and a fantastic brand. You too can do this for your business by taking advantage of technology to develop websites and apps that bring your product closer to your audience.