eCommerce Email Marketing

Successful Email Marketing Tips for eCommerce

Email marketing allows you to create a deeper relationship with a wider audience at a fraction of the cost of traditional media while also increasing brand awareness.

What is Email Marketing?

A marketing email is a form of direct marketing via email that allows you to communicate a message to an audience. This audience is a collection of your email list and they tend to be either a current or a potential customer. Email marketing is a great way to stay connected with your clients while also promoting your business.

With email marketing, you can easily and quickly reach target audiences without the need for print space, television or radio time, or high production costs. Also, with email marketing software, you can maintain an email list that has been segmented based on several factors and target them individually with unique campaigns.

Why is Email Marketing Successful?

One huge positive to email marketing is that it is low in cost - it’s that simple. Whether you do it yourself, or through an email marketing agency, marketing to hundreds of consumers via email is going to cost you very little in comparison to other channels of advertising. And other than being cost-effective, published findings showed that 85 percent of retailers consider email marketing one of the most effective customer acquisition tactics (Inc.com, 2018).

Another appeal to email marketing is its versatility. Depending on the size of the email database and the skills of the marketer, email marketing messages can range from simple to very complex. They can also be personalized to include things like the name of the user and even more. You can do this with the likes of Dotmailer.

Another reason is that it’s a great way to keep customers informed. It helps to keep business owners and consumers stay connected. A recent study showed that 28 percent of online shoppers subscribe to store or product emails in order to stay informed (especially if discounts are offered)(McGregor, 2018). Studies also showed that 64 percent of Internet users have printed a discount coupon from an email (Inc.com, 2018). One of the primary reasons people choose to opt-in for emails is for the special or exclusive offers and news. The customer wants to be in the know and up-to-date with your business.

Successful Email Marketing Tips

Before you can create a successful email marketing campaign you need to have a good sized email list. There are different ways to collect these emails, for instance, you could offer a signup form on your website for updates or free downloads of some variety. You don’t have to target your whole mailing list either, you could segment them into groups but this depends on what you’re trying to get across and to whom. One thing to consider is timing. Try not to be too ‘spammy’. The biggest risk in sending out an email marketing campaign is in return you receive a large number of un-subscribers. You want to share valuable content and information with your customers.

Consider your subject line. Is it clear and informative? Perhaps even personalised? It is far better to use a clear subject line that tells the reader exactly what is inside the email and creates immediate curiosity or interest. If you’re offering a discount code, make it known in the subject line, don’t hide it in the body of the email as the buyer may never click on it and know. A coupon code is a great way to entice your customers to open your email and lead to a call to action and can help drive clicks which lead to an increased conversion rate.

This leads to the next point. Write directly to your target audience. Whether it’s women who are interested in beauty products or men who are interested in fashion - create a concise email speaking directly to them, don’t just be generic. Be time sensitive as well with your call to action. If you’re an online retailer offering 20% off on their next purchase. Writing “Today Only - Receive 20% Off All New In” is a good example. Your reader should want to click because there is an immediate benefit and you can also leverage curiosity. Letting your reader know there's valuable content inside is more likely to drive the customer to where you want them to go - and that’s your site.

Lastly, before you send out an email campaign, test it first. Take two concepts you think will be successful and dry run it on a much smaller sample group. Look at the metrics to see which one performs better, that one is the definite winner. This way you can make any last minute tweaks to make sure it’s as successful as possible before you go ahead and launch your email marketing campaign.

Best Email Marketing Tools and Services

Dotmailer is a great service to not only help you create marketing campaigns and help engage one-to-one with your users but much more. They help you create bespoke emails for your customers and tailor them to your chosen demographic cohorts to increase conversion rates. However, if you don’t quite have the budget for Dotmailer just yet, MailChimp is another platform you could use. They connect eCommerce shopping carts and track the results - an excellent feature for an entrepreneur, especially those starting out.

Email continues to be the most powerful of the online channels so ensure you’re making the most of it.

Email Marketing Personalisation

One of the most effective ways to increase conversion rates through email marketing is to make sure your emails are all personalised and you can do this in a number of ways.

Think outside of just inserting their name in the email - think about the subject line too. Emails with personalised subject lines are 26% more likely to be opened (Campaignmonitor.com, 2018). Also look into data and purchase history. Don't spam all your customers on your mailing list with the same thing. For instance, you may have a sale on jackets but you should aim to only send these emails out to customers that have purchased searched jackets in the past.

Similarly, you can email unique product recommendations to your customers based on their purchase or search history as part of your email marketing campaign. This can help to boost conversion rates. Creating real-time, one-to-one targeted content that speaks right to the individual will also help to create a long-term relationship and increase the lifetime value of that customer.

However, there are a few instances where it’s okay to send your email to ‘all’, such as if your brand publishes blog posts or a monthly newsletter. Also if you’re making an important change to your business that will affect customers, it’s good to inform all of them - this could be updated terms and conditions. Another good example is if you’re launching a new product, you want to make sure all your customers are aware.

Conversion from Email Marketing

One way to help increase conversion from email marketing is to optimise your emails for mobile - you should test the optimisation to figure out which elements work as intended and which don’t so your campaigns are mobile friendly. Run an A/B test to evaluate the changes you have implemented and see how your segments react to them.​ There are some things you need to consider when creating mobile optimised email campaigns. This includes things like making sure your font is big enough to read on a smaller screen and spacing out so readers can skim read and not feel overwhelmed with text. Making any links you’ve included visible and easy to access. Reducing image sizes to make them load quicker.

Another way to increase the chances of conversion rates is to segment your email lists. You can do this by categories like demographics and preferences and interests. Once you segment your list, you need to find the best way to approach your customers. By using segmentation to send out more personalised email campaigns, you will increase the relevance for your customers and therefore the interest. Your subject line, the sender name, and the quality of the content are the three things that will determine your recipients' reactions to your campaign and the reaction you do not what is for them to unsubscribe or remove themselves from your mailing list.

You should also consider using the double opt-in method for your customers. This is when you ask them to confirm their email address and that they've signed up for a newsletter by clicking on a confirmation link they receive via email. This way you eliminate all the emails that contain typos or are delivered to the wrong recipient and can grow your list, though maybe at a slower pace, it will consist of real people. More so, Increases the likelihood that recipients will engage with your emails.

Cart Abandonment Emails

Cart abandonment is when a customer fills up their shopping cart online but for whatever reason, chooses not to follow through with the payment and ‘abandons’ it. In an effort to try and capture some of these lost sales, cart abandonment emails are sent to customers who have added products to their cart but failed to check out. When sending cart abandonment emails it’s good to be both specific and personal with your emails. Depending on when you send your email, people might have forgotten about their cart items. So be specific and specify which items are remaining in their cart and it helps if you leave images, this is much more effective. Using visual marketing to show people which items they’ve left makes the email more personal and reminds them of what they’re potentially missing out on.

Again, it’s a good idea to include a discount code so they can finish their purchase.  Offering a special extra 10% or 15% discount offer for your user in their exclusive email to finish their checkout process. It will make them feel valued and their email will feel personalised as it’s not something everyone is getting. To read more on cart abandonment emails and how to increase conversion using them, we have a whole article on it here.

Final Round up of Email Marketing

According to statistics released by the Direct Marketing Association, email marketing brings in $40 for every $1 spend, outperforming search, display and social marketing. Aside from it being a financially rewarding process, email marketing is a great way to stay in touch with your customers. Email marketing allows you to create a deeper relationship with a wider audience at a fraction of the cost of traditional media while also increasing brand awareness. Each email that is sent to consumers exposes them to your business and your brand.

You can target your audience - you have the chance to control exactly who sees an email by segmenting your contacts based on factors like demographics or location. Targeting emails ensure that your audience receives content suited specifically to their needs. Email marketing also allows you to boost conversion through offering customers unique product suggestions and discount codes.


Cyber Security Staying Safe Online

7 Tips to Staying Safe Online

In honour of safer internet day today, we’ve put together a list of 7 top tips to help you stay safe online.

1 - How To Create A Strong Password

The strongest passwords tend to be on the longer side. Generally, a minimum of 12 words is a good start, lowercase and uppercase, but the longer better. Another thing to bear in mind when creating a good password is to use not only letters but also numbers and symbols. You want a good, strong password, particularly for important accounts (such as online banking) to decrease the risk of being hacked. Lastly, change your password frequently.

2 - Staying Safe While Online Shopping

Use a secure payment method, such as PayPal or credit cards, rather than de when making a shopping purchase online. This way you get buyer protection and won’t be held liable for fraudulent charges. Also beware of fake shopping apps that may appear in in Apple’s App Store and Google Play, that try to trick shoppers into making purchases for goods that don’t exist.

3. Check If The Website Is Secure

Look out for the following signs to know you are shopping safely with a secure website. And remember, only put your card details into secure websites.  There are some telltale signs to let you know whether a website is secure. These included the following; there should be a padlock symbol in the address bar next to the website address and sometimes the padlock symbol is even green. The web address should also start with https:// And finally, a good way to check if a website is secure is by clicking on the padlock symbol the left of the address bar. Here you will see information on the site certificate which should tell you who has registered the site. If you get a warning about a certificate, avoid the website.

4. Wifi Hotspot Security

Anytime you enter personal information using a public network, you're setting yourself up for identity theft. This is because most wifi spots don’t encrypt your data. So avoid using public wifi for things that require you to log in any personal information, e.g. your bank details. This applies to mobile phones as well as laptops and tablets. Be aware when you're using a hotspot that any information you send through the Internet could be picked up and if it’s sensitive or personal, it is recommended you log this in at home.

5. Using Emails Safely

Avoid opening email attachments received unexpectedly, no matter who appears to have sent it. Also if you are sent links within an email, type out the URL in your browser to make sure you're going to the site you think you're visiting instead of just clicking the given link. Many phishing scams involve emails from what seem to be from legitimate sites, such as banks and online stores. Also, remember that real sites won't ask for important information over email. If you receive something that doesn’t feel right, you can always mark that email address as spam or even block it.

6. Are You Using The Latest Internet Browser?

Every time there is a new version of an internet browser, there will be a boost in security. Older browsers, besides not working as well with some websites, often have holes in their security. This can weaken your online safety.  Updates will keep you ahead of potential identity thieves and keep your credit safe.

7. Do you have an antivirus installed?

This is one simple way to make sure you’re safe online. All you have to do is pay for and set up your antivirus and that’s it. Or if you’ve already got one installed, make sure it’s up to date. Updates often contain changes which help protect you are your devices from scammers and online criminals. (Most antivirus software can be configured to do this automatically). Also, Use a firewall,  it takes just moments for a non-firewalled computer to be infected so stay safe by installing one.


How to sell on Social Media

How to Sell on Social Media

Almost 2.5 billion people use social media online today and you can now do so much more than just promote a product on social media, you can sell it.

What is Social Selling?

Almost 2.5 billion people use social media online today and you can now do so much more than just promote a product on social media, you can sell it. Social selling is when a business uses social media to directly sell their goods. It’s the latest way to develop meaningful relationships with potential customers by connecting with them.

67% of the customer buying journey is digital. Decision makers read 5 or more pieces of content online before making a purchase. Therefore selling on social media gives eCommerce businesses the ability to make any social media post shoppable. It’s quite simply using online social tools to engage in the relationship-building strategies that have always been the foundation of what good sales professionals do. It gives you the chance to be involved in the purchasing decision.

On the other hand, selling on social media is not about bombarding strangers or followers with unsolicited Tweets and private messages. This is spamming. You need to nurture and build your relationship with followers, posting the best most informative content about your products to the right audience at the right time.

Social Media Best Practices

Studies show that over 50% of people shop on their phones and the majority of these people use social media. So by not participating in social selling you are most likely losing out in revenue. We have put together some best practice suggestions to keep in mind when considering social selling.

Start off by choosing a theme. Each of your social networks provides a unique outlet to your audience. The way you use and run your social media gives viewers insight into what to expect out of you and your page so it’s a good idea to have a theme or tone of voice. This also keeps you consistent with your brand message and image.

Grow your audience the right way. Big numbers are great but what you really want is an engaged and loyal audience. The best formula to steadily grow your customer base is to be consistent while sharing valuable content, sending timely responses, and being helpful and friendly to your users.

Share behind the scenes content. One platform that’s great for brands to show behind the scenes of their company is Instagram. Not just through posts but through Instagram stories. Though the stories format is very similar to that of Snapchat stories, the good thing about Instagram stories is that anyone can view your story, even if they’re not following you, as long as your page isn’t on the private setting. Stories are the ideal tool to show your audience a more raw and authentic real-time look into what sets you apart and what makes your business unique.

One of the most important things you need to ensure you are doing is producing good quality images and videos. If your images are blurry or not clear they won’t generate the attention. Captions are also a great way to engage your users because you ask them questions and spark conversation in the comments. For instance, you may be releasing a new product in multiple colours, you could ask users “which is your favourite”.

Another great tactic is to have specific goals and get to know your customer. Who are they? What are their interests, likes or dislikes? Can your product meet their needs? It’s important to ask yourself specific questions about your buyers in order to target them more effectively. By moving away from basic-level targeting, you spend more time reaching out to the individuals that matter. This way you can relate to them in a way that can potentially result in closing a sale. If you really want to ramp up your social media selling then look to take advantage of UGC (user-generated content). We’ve spoken a lot about user-generated content and the importance of reviews in our other articles, you can read more here.

It is great practise to encourage your staff to be social ambassadors by making it easy for them to share company content on their personal channels such as LinkedIn and twitter. Employee engagement is one of the best ways to get your social message spread far and wide.

How To Sell Products On Social Media

Sales don’t often occur on the first contact, 80% happen on the fifth to twelfth contact but almost half of businesses do not follow up after the first contact. So to win the sale, it’s important to have a follow-up process. The best sales come from relationships that have been built over time.

Active and consistent engagement is an important part of any social campaign. Different ways you can engage on social media include reaching out to your followers, being involved in online conversations and trying to solve any problems left in the comments section. Joining relevant groups and taking part in niche discussions by offering unique perspectives or ideas. Or positioning employees on social as industry experts who share diverse, relevant content can all help you to sell more and grow your online presence.

You will only start to sell more online on social media if you build trusted relationships and nurture them. You want to offer value to prospects first, and sell products second. The priority needs to be the customer and then the sale will follow. The sales you get should be a by-product of the care and attention you give to your customers. Brands and employees can establish this trust to build stronger relationships include connecting to prospective buyers on a more personal level, other than just automated messages (a little extra effort can go a long way) or content and starting conversations around topics related to your industry as a whole. E.g. fashion related conversations. Finally, incorporate social influencer marketing.

How To Use Influencer Marketing

Influencers are people who are active on social media and blogs and have a large following. They are also brand advocates and promote products. Once upon a time, brands paid big named celebrities to promote their stuff, but today it’s social media influencers that brands often go-to. This is because they’re more accessible and more affordable than celebrities yet they still having a large following, often hundreds of thousands.

Once you have identified your audience, it’s time to start choosing and using influencers to social sell. Why engage with an influencer? Consumers trust recommendations from a third party more often than the brand itself. After all, the brand will try their best to make their product sound as good as possible.

When you social sell via an influencer, not only do they bring their audience, but they also bring their audience’s network as well. Due to the loyal following they have, an influencer has the ability to drive interest and traffic to your site, increase your social media exposure, while also helping sell your product through their recommendation.

In this example, we see the brand Ego Official, a footwear brand, and Amber Davies, a reality star with 1.6 million Instagram followers.

The caption is engaging and involves her audience into her thoughts (a topic for possible discussion) and in this case, she’s even given her audience an exclusive discount code. This would have been given to her by the brand to further entice Amber’s followers to make a purchase.

Final Roundup Of Social Selling

95% of westerners now own a mobile phone and 2.5 billion people use social media. With statistics like that, not choosing to participate in social selling would be a hugely missed opportunity. Social sellers attract 45% more opportunities than their peers. They are also 51% more likely to achieve quotas and outsell than those that choose not to social sell.

Getting your foot in the door by making sure you have all the relevant social media accounts to sell and promote your products, such as twitter, facebook, and Instagram, is a good start. eCommerce stats show 74% of consumers rely on social media to guide their purchases, and 43% of consumers are more likely to buy a new product when learning about it on social media.

If your sales team has not embraced social selling, your sales are quite simply not what they could be.


Returns Policy Guideline - Best Practice

A Best Practice Guide to Handling Returns

One key service that customers look for when shopping online is your returns policy and process

Why having a good returns policy is important

In recent years consumer surveys have proved that online shopping is surpassing in-store buying. It’s more important than ever to make sure your website is not only running perfectly but meets all the expectations and has all the features customers expect online now. One key service that customers look for when shopping online is your returns policy and process.

Returns can often be overlooked as people feel that it’s an afterthought to the eCommerce process, however, in reality, it’s just as much part of the customer purchasing journey as anything else and shouldn’t be thought of as an afterthought. Someone who is reviewing your returns information is showing a strong signal that they are wanting to make a purchase. You need to give them confidence.

How to Prevent Online Returns

The process of returns starts at the beginning of the customer's experience, not after the product has arrived. There are actions you can take to prevent a return happening after an initial purchase.

Around 30% of all e-commerce orders end up being returned and a lot of this has to do with the product not matching the description. Ensure the products you’re selling have informative descriptions and plenty of images, displaying the different angles of the item. Even better if there’s a video alongside the product. Include sizing and dimensions and above all, be as accurate as possible. If the customer is sure of what they’re buying it will massively reduce the possibility of a return.

You should encourage customers to leave feedback on your products. Not only will this help to increase revenue because 70% will trust a recommendation from someone they don’t know but also it can help to prevent potential returns and refunds. The customer can read reviews from previous customers who have tried and tested your product and help make a more informed purchase decisions. Research shows that when shoppers know what to expect from a product from first-hand users, the likelihood of them returning those products drops substantially.

How To Write An eCommerce Returns Policy

Use terms that everyone can understand and it will be easier for customers to follow and understand your policy. Make sure it’s easy to find. It would also be useful to dedicate a whole page on your website that can explain your whole returns policy. Include things like cost (if there is a cost or if it’s free) and the return deadline.

It's normal to give a specific time frame to accept returns. So you need to define how long the customer has to make up their mind. Tell your customers if they must return the product within 30 days, 2 weeks, whatever it may be, so they’re aware.

Aside from the time frame deadline you’re allowing for returns, you also need to make sure you’re stating what is and isn’t acceptable returns conditions. Sometimes retailers don’t allow returns of certain products, such as underwear or earrings. 66% of online shoppers check a website's return policy before purchasing an item, so make it clear, not only on your returns page but also in other areas like receipts, packaging and definitely on the product page. Your customer should have every opportunity to know your returns policy before making a purchase not just after making a purchase.

For those retailers that also sell in store, not just online, it would be helpful if a customer can return-to-store. 62% of shoppers are also more likely to shop with you online if they know that a return in-store option is available. Not only does it appeal more to the customer but it will save you costs too especially if you’re part of the majority of retailers that pay for customers return shipping. The key is to keep your customers happy and minimise fuss. 70% of shoppers who return an item in-store, make another purchase when there - something else might appeal to them while there.

How To Handle Online Returns for Your Customers

Along with the item or items they ordered, customers should also get paperwork that includes details of how to return their goods if necessary. Including return labels would be ideal instead of making the customer print it out themselves from your website. If you offer free returns, make it known and clear. Equally, don’t hide any extra costs. If it's up to the customer to pay for return shipping, make that very clear. As it stands, about 75% of retailers take care of the return shipping cost for their customers.

Make the return process clear and easy for the customer. Provide clear instructions and even include a returns envelope to make sure no mistakes are made with the address. If people know they can easily return stuff then more likely to buy again in the future.

Don’t put off the customer. Just because they make a return, it doesn’t mean they won’t come back. If they have a smooth returns experience that doesn’t cost them anymore, they are much more likely to come back. But if they have to pay a hefty fee to return their unwanted items it could put them off permanently. The way your business handles a return can either build a stronger relationship with a customer or lose them for life.

eCommerce Returns Policy Examples

As we can see with this ebay.co.uk example, they have clarified their returns information on the product page, right beside the product. This can make the customer feel at ease as they know how much time they have to return and get their money back if unhappy. In this example, it’s 30 days refund, seller pays postage.

The clear display of return information (not only how long they have but also how whether they have to cover the cost or not) will likely seal the deal with the customer as they now have the confidence they need to go through with the purchase.

In the example, you can also see that the reviews are also clearly visible. The customer gets to see an overall rating for that product and this information can help them make up their mind about the item and now know what to expect from a product from first-hand users.

Handling Returns Final Roundup

The best practice when handling returns is to include a free returns label for your customer and be part of the majority 75% of businesses that do so, they will appreciate this.

Do not make the process of returns any longer or more complicated than it should be with the idea that it may deter a customer from sending back their items. All this will do is put them off buying from you in the long run. However with a good returns policy and process, the customer is satisfied and more likely to return, knowing that your business operates in a smooth and hassle-free manor.


Shopping Cart Abandonment

Abandoned Basket Emails

How to bring back customers with creative cart abandonment email campaigns

Cart abandonment statistics

Cart abandonment is when a customer fills up their shopping cart online but for whatever reason, chooses not to follow through with the payment and ‘abandons’ it. The global average statistics for cart abandonment rate, for online retailers, was 77.24%. This means that over ¾ of shoppers choose to leave the site without completing a purchase.

In an effort to try and capture some of these lost sales, cart abandonment emails are sent to customers who have added products to their cart but failed to check out. The abandoned basket campaign can be a powerful sales recovery tactic and bring back otherwise lost revenue. Studies have shown that almost half of all abandoned cart emails are opened and over a third of clicks lead back on to the site to make a purchase.

Cart abandonment examples

Some cart abandonment on websites is inevitable. There are many users that may just be window shopping or doing a price comparison for items. They may also be saving items for later or exploring gift options. These things can’t be avoided (and a small portion of these people may likely return and purchase later). But aside from those just browsing, cart abandonment examples could occur for a number of other reasons. These include things like shipping issues, for instance they decided to buy in-store instead.

Lack of payment options or cost can also be another reason. If your shipping costs are above industry average or you add additional fees that don’t appear until after the checkout process has begun, then people will leave. Also, if you have a coupon or discount code option at checkout, people may leave looking for discount codes. If they don’t find any, they may not return to complete their purchase because they think a sale could happen or a better deal on the item will appear at a later time as they’re not willing to pay full price. To prevent this from happening, consider adding a code somewhere visible on your site or consider adding codes to popular voucher websites.

Technical issues are another reason. Sometimes customers may even abandon their carts without meaning to do so. For instance the website crashes - or ever more simply, they had to leave their device to do something and forget to return. Therefore these emails can act as a reminder to come back on to your website.

Other reasons people might abandon their carts is because there was not enough product description. If your website doesn’t provide enough details about a product, shoppers will go elsewhere. To prevent people from abandoning your shopping cart, provide them with as much item description as possible. Perhaps even research competitors that are selling similar products to ensure that your website offers everything they do and more. Also, it might be nice to have the option to live chat on your website, about any queries or questions the customer may have. Delivering good customer service will more likely lead to to a sale.

Checkout templates to avoid cart abandonment

Before we get to the ways we can try to bring back lost customers, it's good to look at the ways we can prevent losing them in the first place with these checkout templates to avoid. Firstly, what are the payment options for your site? Not everyone has their credit card handy when impulsively adding items to their cart so make sure you allow for alternative, quick and easy payment options like Paypal. Make all the payment options known to the user before they proceed. For instance, with ASOS they show the buyer all the methods they take, clearly at the beginning of the checkout option.

Another way to improve your checkout flow, it to include a guest checkout option. Many people abandon their carts because the checkout process is too long. While it’s good to get people to sign in or sign up with you, so you have their information on hand, it excludes customers who aren’t willing to create an account as they still want to buy from you. Making your checkout process smooth and easy for everyone to use, will reduce your cart abandonment rate.

Cart abandonment best practice

There are some best practices to follow for cart abandonment emails. To start off, be specific. Depending on when you send your email, people might have forgotten about their cart items. It’s no good just sending a vague email like “you’ve forgotten your items”. What items? So be specific and specify which items are remaining in their cart and it helps if you leave images, this is much more effective. Using visual marketing to show people which items they’ve left makes the email more personal and reminds them of what they’re potentially missing out on.

Along with specifying their basket with images, give them an incentive - perhaps make it known in the subject like straight away so they’re aware of the offer before the decide whether to click on your email or not. Offering a special extra 10% or 15% discount offer for your user in their exclusive email to finish their checkout process. It will make them feel valued and their email will feel personalised as it’s not something everyone is getting. One of the reasons people might choose to abandon their cart is the price. The products may have come to a total more than the customer initially thought so offering a discount in your email could be a nice prompt to complete their purchase. And you don’t have to offer direct item discounts, you could offer other things like free shipping or a free item at the checkout when they complete their purchase.

Your email needs to read well on every device - expect that the majority of the email you send will be opened on a mobile device so make sure it’s phone friendly. Also you are asking a customer to click-through the reminder and take action so it’s important that when they click the link they are directed to their abandoned cart, not an empty one.

Final round-up

In a recent study conducted in relation to cart abandonment emails, over half of users felt that reminder emails were helpful. And as we saw, customers that are sent cart abandonment emails tend to return to make that purchase. It is worth sending good, personalised emails to customers that do not go on to make a purchase - but within reason. Don’t spam them - You want to send your first recovery email in the first 24 hours of cart abandonment, then leave it to see whether any engagement takes place.

Sometimes item abandonment can happen without the customer meaning to and sometimes it happens due to reasons like cost, which can be won by a personal discount code via that email. Either way, you have a good chance to bring customers back on to your website.

Finally, sending out these emails also lets the customer know you care about their custom and have paid attention to their items. Being specific - including images of their basket - these are the types of details you need to pay attention to.


Design Sprints for Validation

How to Use Design Sprints to Rapidly Validate Your Ideas

What is a design sprint?

In short, it is a time boxed exercise and it’s all about collaboration. A 5 day process that helps answer critical business questions through prototyping, design and user testing ideas and it was first developed by GV (Google Ventures) who studied over 300 different business strategies. Sprints allow your team to reach well planned out goals and gain key learnings as well as test ideas out, but fast.

The process is there to help spark innovation and bring your team together under one shared vision, and to help you reach your goals quicker. It is advised around bringing on no more than 7 members to a design sprint. For instance you may be wanting to bring everyone together to see how you can make the user's journey on a website better.

There is even a publication on this business strategy, Sprint by Jake Knapp, that aims to help business owners to improve that claims to help  you “fast-forward into the future”.

How does a design sprint work?

There are three times you may need to use a design sprint and these could be; when you’re trying to reach a goal or do something quickly, when big challenges need solving or when you’re stuck.

Before the sprint begins, you need to have the right team there. Someone from different parts of the process. It could be your tech person, your design person, your marketing person, whoever you’re bringing together make sure you have someone from each field who is responsible for the final product.

You and your team will then get together for an uninterrupted 5 days to work together to create new ideas or products for your brand and begin by reviewing everything you know about the problem, to end on not only a solution but a prototype.

Planning your sprint

There are several things you need to make sure are prepared and planned before you can conduct your design sprint. Firstly, it is crucial to do some pre-sprint research before you begin your first day. This could be in the form of interviews with current or prospective users. The goal is to plan ahead and set the stage without overwhelming the team with too much initial information.

Prepare your working space, the right room is important. It may sound obvious but a big, well equipped room is important. Make sure there are enough windows, whiteboards, pens, computers- whatever you need. Remember to stock up on supplies and organise the days well so that everything is ready to commence with no glitches or interruptions. It is also recommended that sometimes an off site location is a good idea, not the same place you work daily.

Assemble a plan together that you will distribute. It doesn’t have to be thoroughly detailed as things to should flow naturally as ideas develop, but should still give people a sense of what they’re going to be doing and what the agenda is for each day.

Why should I use a design sprint?

In many cases, a Design Sprint will lead you to something that gets initial user validation, where the next steps are defined. You’ll have reduced risk by doing some validation early, and develop next steps faster than would have otherwise been possible. What makes the Design Sprint approach most effective is the structured, time-constrained framework with the right exercises.

A design sprint can stop you from creating the wrong thing or wasting precious time going back and forth with other people. Instead, all the stakeholders (those that have a steak in the project) are together in one room. The purpose of the Design Sprint is to get answers to a set of vital questions, not to produce the prototype for the next version of your solution.

The other question is, do you really need 5 days? Different lengths of sprints were tested. From 3 days, up to a month long. The best results were found with the 5 day sprint. This is because it allowed people enough breathing room to focus and not feel overly stressed, while also maintaining the factor of urgency to get things done.

One of the most valuable things about a design sprint is that it saves precious time. Though it can sometimes be difficult to set aside a whole day, let alone 5 whole days, in the long run it’s very valuable. It is also a great way to test out big ideas. Low-risk ideas with high confidence usually don’t need the attention and structure that a Design Sprint provides. So even though it may sound like a high price to pay, it will be worth it.

Final round up

One of the most important parts of it (if not the most important) is your team. If you have the right team it will work. So spend some time when picking members to be involved and make sure you have an expert from each area.

The results tend to be qualitative and focus on perceived value. Design Sprints are not a substitute for usability testing and should come much earlier in the process.

Design sprints initially cost you money and the fact you have to clear out 5 days to conduct one may seem daunting but in the long run they actually save you a lot of time and money over the lifetime of the project.

As long as you have your goals, your schedule planned, your team and a good working environment, there is no reason why you cannot have a successful design sprint. All the back and forth and the ‘middle men’, if you like, are removed from the normal decision making process to allow you and your team to come up with important changes.


Google SEO Search Engine Optimization

7 Tips to Better SEO

SEO (search engine optimisation) when used correctly can be one of the most valuable tools to drive people to your website.

SEO (search engine optimisation) when used correctly can be one of the most valuable tools to drive people to your website. It attempts to improve search engine ranking (pagerank) so you appear on Google’s pages more visibly.

Search engines do their job by referring users to websites and content that is the most relevant to what the user is looking for. Being sloppy with SEO could possibly harm your pagerank. 44% of online purchases begin with an online search. We’ve put together seven useful tips to making sure you get the most out of SEO and how to increases your chances on ranking higher.

1. Do you have rich content?

You need valuable or rich content to not only get people to your site but to stay there too. If you’re selling a product include in-depth, rich product descriptions. Without text, Google has no way to rank you and drive search traffic to your website.

If you’re writing content for your website or blog, see what’s popular in your field. What’s trending? The topic is important but additionally, so is the style of writing. For instance, listicle articles (articles in the style of a list like this one)  or ‘versus’ articles, such as our Shopify vs Magento article (which you can check out here), are good formats to follow. Scientific research suggest this is because the human brain has “tendencies to use categories” as this is easier to absorb.

Also, if your content is great, it’s more likely readers will share this with their friends. So make sure whatever your page is about, the content is clear (and matches the title/header). Find the best keywords for that particular page but do not overdo it.

Once you have good content on your site you want to tell Google about it. There are a variety of ways you can do this but one of the best ways is by using rich snippets on your website. Using code in the template on your website you are able to “mark-up” certain elements of your content so that Google pays particular attention to them when it looks at your site.

A few examples of marked-up rich content is reviews, stock levels, delivery criteria, social media profiles and more. You will need a developer to help you to mark-up your content but the value you receive from Google to doing so is often well worth the investment of time.

2. Keyword search

Include targeted keywords in your title and define your content as best you can. The title of your post or page and the tags with it should be similar but not duplicates. Think of it as an ad, you need to entice your reader. Repetition is also fine, just as long as the meaning of the phrase as a whole is sufficiently varied.

Be aware what your audience is searching for and don’t just ‘stuff’ words in as this can equally hurt your ranking. You can use tools to help you, such as Google Keyword planner, that collect keywords from Amazon, Google and Youtube, to see what does well and implement these into your site.

3. Are you including User Generated Content?

UGC stands for user generated content and can come in the form of testimonials, reviews, comments, forums, social posts and so on. Don’t shy away from user-generated content, utilise it. This is valuable and unique content that you do not need to produce. The only reason you wouldn’t include product reviews on your website is if you’re worried about the reviews and consumers know this.

Good UGC boosts sales conversion. Having a product reviews section on your website will mean your products have the backing from your consumers - those that have already tried and tested your products. Your users become part of a happy community. Potential customers see vibrant activity which in turn can convince them to make a purchase more readily. After all, 70% will trust a recommendation from someone they don’t know. When users search a product or business, Google displays related search results but also includes a seller rating. This is gathered from reputable sources that accumulate business reviews. They tend to appear once you have over 150 unique reviews with a combined rating of at least 3.5 stars. Their purpose is to help people searching on Google to find quality businesses that offer quality services.

For instance, you can use instagram social curation and this will help you to drive traffic and sales to your site. You can do this with the help of Yotpo, who launched a way to leverage your authentic customer photos to help your sales. Yotpo also advertise that “Adding customer photos increases conversion by an additional 10%” so it’s a great resource to utilise.

4. Be clear and make sure the user has a good experience.

As mentioned, search engines filter out pages to give the user the options that best matched their search. But is your website easy to navigate? Is it free of spam? Are the 404 errors fixed? Is there a low bounce rate? These are all the things you need to think about when it comes to your on-page SEO.

A website with broken, misleading, irrelevant, or factory-farmed links will make you and your site look bad, not only to users but to the search engines. If the user or customer doesn’t have a smooth experience around your website, it is unlikely they will return.

One way to make sure you customer has a good user experience is by introducing a one-click to buy solution when making a purchase on your website. For instance Amazon and ebay offer this. As we can see, I can type in the product I want and purchase this with one click by selecting ‘Buy It Now’.

5. Product description is important

An SEO friendly product description describes the benefits and core features, alongside the practical use of a product or service. You also need to acquire complete product understanding before beginning. Without knowing about a product, you could end up just giving a general explanation and completely miss the unique selling points of the product and will be lost in the sea of similar products.

Also, write for your audience without isolating everyone else. One customer may be a photographer and may be looking for a specific lensed camera for his work while another customer may be looking for a birthday gift for their loved one. Ensure you have a consistent tone and style throughout your writing. This will make your site appear more put together and cohesive to the users when browsing.

Furthermore, while you want to be thorough with the product description, think beyond the the products technical specifications and the basic functionality it has. Use enticing phrases to make it appeal to the customer, such as ““ideal for entertaining” or “modern, high quality design”. Why do they want this product (or service)? How will it benefit them or their life?

6. Optimise your meta description

The meta tags (title tag and meta description) is used in the <head> section of a HTML document and provides information to search engines and visitors about the content of a web page. They are used to generate the snippet that appears in the search engine results page (also known as SERPs).

A meta description can influence the decision of the searcher as to whether or not they want to click on your content from search results. The more descriptive, relevant and appealing the description, the more likely someone will click through.

One thing you can do to make the meta description better is to treat is as though it’s an advert for your website. Make it as interesting and as relevant as possible. The description needs to mirror what is in the content of your page but it also needs to sound compelling so users are likely to click.

Also it’s important to keep in mind the length of your meta description. It should be between 135 – 160 characters long. Much longer than this and the search engine will chop the end off, so make sure all your important keywords are near the front.

7. Using Social Media

If you aren’t promoting your store or boosting brand awareness, you’re missing out on some easy revenue. Social proof is a powerful way to increase conversions. 85% of consumerstrust social proof as much as personal recommendations.  You could use social media product cards, such as twitter, instagram and facebook and you may have seen these without realising. Let’s take a twitter product card for instance, it’s a social media version of OG tags and they lets you display, similarly, a much richer, content-filled tweet- this is great for ecommerce.

‘97% of consumers read online reviews for local businesses in 2017, with 12% looking for a local business online every day’. Making your brand known on social media will result in more exposure and therefore more searches, so don’t be invisible on social platforms.

And lastly, the big one that a lot of brands do, is use social media influencers to promote their business. Paying an influencer to wear or use your product can be more efficient and cost effective than running a campaign. They have built a large following and gained trust and support from their followers, which you now have access to. These are just some of the ways of using social media to increase exposure to your business.