So, you're ready to build an online store and sell, ship, and manage your business. We're here to help. We took a look at six of the biggest names in e-commerce software to find out which store is easiest to set up, customizable to your liking, and economical. There's no stress needed here: all of our options offer at least 14-day free trial periods for you to set up your store and see if you like it and it has all the features you need.
What's the Right E-Commerce Software for You?
There are two worlds in e-commerce software: hosted and self-hosted. With hosted platforms, like Shopify and BigCommerce, you'll get ready-to-go drag-and-drop templates, but you'll give up some customization ability and pay a subscription fee. For most merchants, Shopify and BigCommerce are going to be in a dead heat. Both companies offer products that provide the same thing: an all-in-one hosted e-commerce solution for online businesses. They both do it well and they both start with similar price points.
If you're trying to decide between Shopify and BigCommerce, we recommend comparing both during their free trial periods and see which one is a better fit for your business. Both offer a couple of weeks to set up and explore your store, no credit card required.
It's also possible to build a store with Squarespace or Wix site, monetize your existing site, or even build a non-store site and then convert it to a credit-card accepting store later on. This is a good option if you're already using Squarespace or Wix, if not sure how much of your sales you'll run through your site, or are just in the ideation phase. Wix will let you build you're whole site for free; you'll only need an e-commerce subscription when you're ready to take that first credit card transaction. You can get up to 21 days free with Squarespace if you ask to extend the two-week free trial an extra week.
Want more customization power, or not ready to pony up a monthly fee? You want self-hosted software like Magento or WooCommerce - you'll be nearly limitless in what you can do, and there are plenty of pre-made plugins you can pay for and install to avoid coding every little thing (think abandoned cart e-mails or related products carousels). If you go this route, we recommend brushing up on the best practices for running a successful e-commerce site, making a list of all the features you want and tallying up the add-on fees you'll be paying before you commit to building your store.
The Top 6 E-Commerce Platforms
Shopify is one of the most recognizable out-of-the-box solutions for small business owners - by some measures, it's the second most popular e-commerce platform in the world after WooCommerce, and continues to grow like crazy. We think it's a good fit for e-commerce sites that don't have a lot of in-house technical support and don't crave a ton of complex customizations.
Shopify is a full-blown hosted e-commerce platform, which means that it takes care of everything you need to run an online business, from a website to website hosting to inventory management to accepting credit card information. It also offers point-of-sale hardware, and integrates into online marketplaces like Amazon and eBay.
Shopify's core product comes in a few different plans for different prices, ranging from $29/month to $299/month. More robust functionality (and more perks, like better credit card rates, more user accounts, and advanced reporting) come with the higher price tag. If you already have a website and are interested in adding some shoppable products and a shopping cart, we recommend skipping down to where we discuss Shopify Lite. Full-blown Shopify is probably more than you need.
Shopify makes it pretty straightforward for a small business to get up and running - like a lot of hosted e-commerce platforms (including BigCommerce), you have a 14-day free trial where you can actually build your entire store and try out the features and functionality without ever entering a credit card number. Shopify is template-based, which means you choose the basic look and layout of your store from 10 free or 57 for-purchase themes, and customize from there. Shopify claims that its templates are fully customizable, and it does give its merchants full access to the HTML and CSS of their stores, but heads-up: Shopify uses a Liquid setup, which will have a little bit of a learning curve for those who are more used to PHP.
Because it's such a force in the industry, Shopify integrates with pretty much every other app, SaaS, and technology out there, be it live order tracking, automated up-selling bots, or finding dropship products to sell. Shopify has its own app store a la Apple and Google with built-for-Shopify (and often built-by-Shopify) technology that you can plug and play to make your store do everything you want. This is a double-edged sword for some merchants, who find that Shopify relies so much on third-party integrations that some of its built-in technology is lacking. A good rule of thumb: Make a list of all the functionality you want for your site and see if you're satisfied with what you get for free during your 14-day trial. If not, explore what add-ons and plugins are available (there are over 2,400 in the Shopify app store) and see how much they'll add to your bottom line.
Speaking of bottom lines: You're going to have to do a lot of math to see which payment gateway makes the most sense for your business no matter which e-commerce platform you choose. But one of Shopify's biggest standouts is that it's built its own payment gateway, Shopify Payments. While you still can integrate with over 100 others (in fact, you'll have to if you have customers outside of the US, the UK, Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, Ireland, Japan, New Zealand, and Singapore), Shopify Payments potentially eliminates one more integration you'd have to do to get up and running. At 2.9% + $0.30, Shopify Payments' rates are right in line with other leading payment gateways, including PayPal, stripe, and Authorize.net, but it does tack on an extra 2% transaction fee for any payment that isn't processed through Shopify Payments. Check to make sure you qualify to sign up for Shopify Payments in its Terms of Service, then get out your calculators. Remember, accepting multiple payment options is one of the 11 best ways to boost online sales.
Outside of its core e-commerce hosting, Shopify offers a supercharged and highly customizable ShopifyPlus plan for high-volume merchants and enterprise businesses, and Shopify Lite, which is essentially just Shopify's payment processing functionality. The Lite plan might be interesting to very small businesses just entering e-commerce. It acts a lot like PayPal: you can pop a Shopify Buy Button into your WordPress or Squarespace site, swipe credit cards with its app, and sell on Facebook and Facebook Messenger. Shopify Lite is $9/month.
Customer support, training, and resources
Like Shopify, BigCommerce's core product is available at a few different functionality tiers, ranging from $30/month to $250/month; also like Shopify, higher tiers are more robust, including features like abandoned cart saver, product filtering, and customer loyalty programs. Unlike Shopify, though, BigCommerce has a sales cap on each of its plans. If you're bringing in more than $50k/year, for example, you'll no longer qualify for the Standard plan, and be automatically upgraded to Plus ($80/month with a sales cap of $150k per year).
Once you're inside the product, you'll see both are built to act similarly. BigCommerce is also theme-based, with 7 free mobile-friendly templates (plus 119 for purchase) for you to install and customize, be it through a drag-and-drop site editor or from the ground-up using the theme's framework. Shopify and BigCommerce are so comparable we recommend comparing both during their free trial periods and see which one is a better fit for your business. BigCommerce offers 15 days to set up and explore your store, no credit card required.
One difference you'll definitely notice is how many native features BigCommerce has installed right out of the box. It offers an outstanding number of technical integrations and marketing features that Shopify might only be able to provide if you buy and install a plugin or extension (for example, single-page checkout). For some, BigCommerce's roster of pre-installed features is going to be annoying - kind of like how annoying it was for people who didn't like U2 having its most recent album auto-downloaded on their iPhones. BigCommerce customers might roll their eyes as they scroll by an option to add gift wrapping already built into their control panel. But those who aren't overwhelmed by the options may find that they don't need to pay extra for the functionality they do want. We recommend making a list of the features your business needs requires and testing if you like how they perform during your free trial, and check out what's available in BigCommerce's app store. That store isn't as massive as Shopify's (600+ add-ons and integrations compared to 2,500+) but there's a lot to choose from. You also have access to BigCommerce's flexible API if you need to make a custom integration
BigCommerce doesn't have its own payment processing technology, which means you'll have to integrate with a payment gateway before you start taking orders. It gives you over 60 to choose from, including all the big hitters: Authorize.net, PayPal, Stripe, Square, Skrill. Like Shopify, the higher tier your plan, the lower your rates. Unlike Shopify, BigCommerce doesn't charge a transaction fee to work with these processors, so you'll save a little there.
In addition to its core e-comm platforms, BigCommerce is also available at the enterprise level and with products tailored to B2B wholesalers. In summer 2018, BigCommerce also announced its new Commerce-as-a-Service solution, which is geared to service content-first small businesses who already have an established web presence - namely, a WordPress website. Through an integrated plugin, WordPress users (and businesses using other content management software) will be able to work in their CMS while “centrally managing catalog, customer and order data through BigCommerce.” Prior, customers would have to port their entire websites over and rebuild it on BigCommerce's hosted platform, or opt for a self-hosted solution like WooCommerce or Magento. Commerce-as-a-Service is really new to BigCommerce - there's no pricing and interested customers need to request a demo - but we're excited to see where this technology goes. It could be an exciting bridge between the robust functionality of a hosted e-commerce platform and the hands-on DIY integrations of self-hosted solutions.
Customer support, training, and resources
You might know Wix as a drag-and-drop website builder, but it's also a drag-and-drop e-commerce shop builder, too. And the process is just as simple: create an account, choose your template (there are 60 e-commerce templates to choose from), load your inventory and product pages, set up payment information, and start selling. You can even get started picking your template, designing your store, and trying out the store manager where you'll track orders, manage inventory, and send out customer newsletters with coupon codes or sales - all for free. Signing up is a simple a logging in with your Google or Facebook account.
It's not until you want to accept payments that you'll need to upgrade your account to a business / e-commerce account. Wix Business plans range from $20 to $35 per month - but they're billed in full yearly subscriptions at the time of purchase, so really you'll be laying out $240 to $420. You'll get 14-days to test drive the plan.
All business plans allow you to accept online payments without paying commissions, and get unlimited bandwidth (so any number of customers can visit your store). The more expensive plans grant you more storage, up to 100,000 emails a month and higher-priority support response. You'll also get 30G of Google Drive and email storage, so once you connect your domain you can use Gmail as your email at your unique address.
With a business plan, you can take credit cards, PayPal, offline payments, and don't have to pay any commissions to Wix. Not all businesses are the same, so neither are the Wix templates. Any Wix template can run a store, if you add the “Wix Stores” app, or you can get a head-start with a pre-made stores template. To do that, you'll first choose your business-type.
Run a bookings-based business? You'll start with a Wix Bookings template. Your customers will get auto-email reminders about the event. Sell sessions individually or as part of a membership plan. If you accept offline payments, it's as simple as checking the “mark as fully paid” box on the bookings dashboard. There's even a bookings template for restaurants.
We like that it's super fluid to make sales and note when you're busy: simply block off time you're not available in your Wix schedule on the mobile app; sync your Wix Bookings with you Google calendar automatically. Customers can also book directly from their mobile phones, too - by creating a club and inviting your customers to it, they can chat you, book a service, RSVP to an event, or start a discussion from the app.
We haven't seen anything like the Wix Music page includes a customizable music player and a way to sell your music directly from your page, without paying any commissions. Your reporting will include most-played, most-shared, most-purchased, and most-downloaded songs.
There's also a pre-made template for ticketed events businesses. You can set the ticket price, manage the RSVP list, invite and add guests, and edit details.
We like the clean lines and look of the Wix templates, the drag-and-drop ease of it all, and the head start the pre-made stores give you. Unlike self-hosted e-commerce plans, which require upgrades to access features like coupon codes, everything's included with a Wix e-commerce plan.
Courses and training videos
Squarespace is best known as a website builder, but its e-commerce solution is one of the most popular in the world. In large part that's because e-commerce functionality is built straight into nearly all of its plans: Even if you start with just a basic website, you can sell products. That grow-into-it flexibility makes it an interesting option for businesses who aren't quite sure of their future plans. With a platform like Shopify, you're e-commerce or nothing. A business without a thriving online store would be never choose Shopify.
But that makes choosing the right Squarespace plan a little bit more complicated. It splits up its products into Websites (with Personal and Business plans) and Online Stores (with Basic and Advanced plans). You can make transactions on both the Online Store plans, as well as the Business Website plan. A good rule of thumb: if you're primarily selling product through your site, definitely opt for an Online Store plan. If you're website is primarily content, and you happen to sell a few things, a Business Website plan might be plenty. All plans come with a 14-day free trial to test out the features and functionality, with the option to request an additional trial week if necessary.
The Business Website plan has pared-down functionality - the reporting isn't as robust; there are no customer accounts; there are fewer inventory, order, and tax features - plus it tacks on a 3% transaction fee to all purchases. But it's also only $18/month, which is one of the cheapest hosted options available.
Both of Squarespace's Online Store plans comes with the full toolkit you'd expect from an e-commerce platform. Basic starts at $26/month, billed annually (or $30/month if you want to pay month-to-month), and Advanced ratchets up to $40/month billed annually (or $46/month-to-month). The Advanced plan gets you more - flexible discounts, gift cards, abandoned cart recover, access to the API.
If you do go with a Squarespace web store, it's going to be beautiful. That's not to say you can't have a beautiful store with any other e-commerce platform, but with Squarespace, it's basically a guarantee. They're all built for mobile and aesthetically modern, albeit lots are heavy on imagery - you're definitely going to want to have killer photography. It has over 20 template “families” to choose from (each family may have a few variations, but the same underlying structure), which can then be customized with Squarespace's drag-and-drop editor or by tinkering with the HTML and CSS. You can choose any, but some are better suited for web stores than websites, with features such as Quick View and Image Zoom, and advanced Product Page functionality. The best news: they're all free. With a lot of other e-commerce platforms, the really covetable templates come with a price tag.
With Squarespace, what you get is what you get. Unlike pretty much every other e-commerce platform, it doesn't integrate with endless apps and extensions. It comes with about 70 of the most popular and most useful built right in, and provides setup support, troubleshooting, and general questions for all of them. But there's no app store or marketplace like you see with lots of other platforms. You can install third-party customization, but those will required some sort of code injection or “Code Block” - no one-click install. It's really important to test out the functionality of your Squarespace site during your free trial and see if you like what you're getting. If not, another platform with more integration capabilities might be a better option.
Squarespace also doesn't give you options with who you use to process payments. With Squarespace, you're locked into Stripe and/or PayPal (there's also options for Apple Pay and Venmo). This won't be a problem if you're store services customers in certain areas, but Stripe doesn't support all countries - only 26. If that's the case, PayPal will be your only option (which means your customers must have a PayPal account to make a purchase).
Customer support, training, and resources
Magento is open-source self-hosted software - you can change anything in the code that you need to, and you'll need a web host of your own. There are quite a few pricing options: the community edition is totally free to download. WE recommend starting here for most small business owners choosing Magento. Depending on the host you choose, you'll pay between $4 and $100 a month for hosting. (Want help picking out a web host? See our web host review here.)
Unlike Shopify, you have full control over your shop - “how you deliver your customer experience” - without any limitations. That's why for large-scale stores in need of the ability to create complex customizations without limit, Magento beats Shopify handedly. (In 2016, 202 Magento customers were in the Internet Retailer Top 1000 list, compared to 12 Shopify customers - and 42 merchants in the Internet Retailer B2B E-Commerce 300.) Magento held the top spot on that list. Impressive, but if you're you're starting a small, simple shop, you'll still likely be happier with Shopify or another hosted, out-of-the-box and less custom pick.
Magento claims its stores grow faster than Shopify stores - 3x on average. Magento cites the ability to build fully custom experiences as the reason for this difference. They say these stores stand out more. We're not so sure: it might be a chicken-or-the-egg question: Magento is more customizable, so larger stores that know they're going to be growing may sign up with Magento at a higher rate. With a higher percentage of these high-growth stores, all Magento stores have a higher growth rate. We do love that Magento loves high-performance and letting you do what you want to do.
With Magento, you have the option to build your own site from the ground up, or use Magento's drag-and-drop visual editor. If you've used Mailchimp or Squarespace, you'll find Magento's super familiar and intuitive.
If you're not a coder, or don't have one on your team, the 5,000 extensions and add-ons are very important - using them you can still customize what you want to. Want to add an abandoned cart recovery to your site? There's a pre-built one for $39. Custom coupon error codes? User logins with permission sets? There are pre-built ones waiting for you. Custom doesn't need to be impossible even if you're not a developer.
What's in a name?
Magento recently changed some of its product names. Here's a before/after:
Courses and training videos
Magento enterprise licenses
Magento Open Source is free. Magento Commerce - an “all-in-one cloud solution that delivers the power of Magento at affordable prices for Small Business” - is not. Prices are relative to your gross sales revenue. But it'll cost you ~$20,000 for up to $1M in annual revenue. Sell more, pay more. Though Magento is really open that their prices are negotiable - so schedule a demo and get negotiating!
To get a sense of where Magento's pricing stake points are here are quotes Portland-based creative agency Graybox got from Magento in 2017:
There's no limit on store count, country count, language, or currency on your license. You can manage multiple stores, transact in multiple countries, in multiple languages and currencies, and use worldwide shipping all on your one subscription (instance). Go big, go global, launch more stores!
WooCommerce brags that it has 53,216,823 downloads, and as such is the most popular eCommerce platform for building an online store (stats from Builtwith). It's a lot like the 100 Billion hamburgers McDonald's has served. It doesn't mean it's the best hamburger, but they sure do sell well, so there's something good enough about it. They power 30% of online stores - the most of any e-commerce software. The catch? If you want to do more advanced or powerful things in your store, like run a recommendation engine or sell recurring subscriptions, you'll need to pay for extensions. Some extensions are free, but many aren't, they're $29, $79, sometimes $199 for a one-site subscription. When its integrated so well into a platform you're probably already using, well, it's no wonder that 53 million people have used it.
WooCommerce runs on any self-hosted WordPress.org site. You'll need a theme. That's the beautiful outer layer of your website. (If you're already running a WordPress site, then installing Woo is as simple as activating any other plugin. You know the drill.)
WooCommerce has a free template called Storefront, which prioritizes speed, uptime, and theme/plugin simplicity. It's the “official” theme, and it's purposefully clean and simple. It is built and maintained by WooCommerce core developers, and promises “water-tight” integration between the theme, WooCommerce, and any extensions or plugins you add. (WooCommerce.com is running on a $39 Storefront child theme, which gives the Storefront theme a new look.) There are also plenty of templates for sale that aren't created by WooCommerce or WordPress.
You'll be able to sell physical and digital goods, instant downloads, or affiliate goods in online marketplaces. It also accounts for product variations and configurations. Shipping, including drop-shipping, “is highly configurable.” Want to calculate shipping prices per customer? Want to limit shipments to specific countries? Offer free shipping? It's all possible.
If you upgrade, using any of the 300+ premium extensions, you can add on bookings, repeating subscriptions, and memberships. There are hundreds of extensions in the WooCommerce official marketplace. Popular ones include Stripe, PayPal, USPS, Amazon Payments, Authorize.Net, ShipStation, and MailChimp. For example, want to add reviews to your Storefront site? There's a $19 extension for that. Want a pricing comparison table to show the difference between your Bronze, Silver, and Gold Memberships? There's a $19 extension and you'll get access to a shortcode generator to copy and paste into your layout how you'd like.
At WooCommerce, the customer service team is manned by “Happiness Engineers.” These very same team behind WordPress.com, Simplenote, Jetpack, and Longreads. The motto? “We believe in making the web a better place.”
They work remotely from 69 countries, speak 84 languages, and strive to live by the Automattic Creed, which includes the line, “I am more motivated by impact than money, and I know that Open Source is one of the most powerful ideas of our generation.”
That customer loyalty and product-first mindset permeates the entire company. In fact, the first three weeks of any employees time are spend in customer service, and one week a year “forevermore” after that. Why? “We believe an early and ongoing connection with the people who use our products is irreplaceable.”
To get in touch with this support squad, the first stop is documentation. You'll find extremely detailed step-by-step instructions, how tos, and ways to fix common issues like blurry images. Need more help than that? Woo also has a help desk where you can submit a ticket or start a live chat. There's no phone, Facebook, or Twitter support.
Courses and training videos
Recap: The Best E-Commerce Software
Make a list of all the features you want, decide how much hands-on customization you're after, and give your first pick a spin. All of our top picks have at least 14 day trial periods for you to get your store up and test the software:
Quality content takes time and effort to produce. I am sure you know this if you regularly publish content on all your distribution channels.
But many brands lose quality in pursuit of higher quantities of content.
While I agree that quantity is important as well, your quality can't suffer as a result of this strategy. You need to learn how to avoid stale content.
I work with many businesses that run into this problem. They want to publish at least one piece of content a day on all their distribution channels.
Among their websites, blogs, and social media pages, it's a lot of content. Before you know it, that's upward of 30 posts per week across these platforms.
However, that doesn't mean you need to come up with 30 unique pieces of content. This approach will take too long and ultimately hurt your quality.
That's why you need to learn how to effectively repurpose your content across multiple marketing platforms.
First, you need to learn the top ways to come up with new content ideas.
Once you have an idea, you can turn it into multiple posts on each channel. In fact, sometimes you won't even need to come up with a new idea. You can use old content to your advantage here as well.
Worker smarter, not harder.
As we continue through this guide, I'll explain how you can repurpose your content across all your distribution channels and give you some ideas to try.
Identify your most popular content
Before you spend time producing new content, I recommend re-using older publications and posts.
After all, you already spent time working on these. Why let them go to waste?
But don't just use any content. Start with your most popular pieces.
Identify your content with the highest engagement rates. Look for:
If you're struggling to find what you need, try using Buzzsumo to see which content had the highest engagement on social media. Here's what the content analyzer tool found when I put quicksprout.com into it:
It shows me which posts from the past year were the most popular. But you can filter the time based on your needs.
In addition to Buzzsumo, you can use Google Analytics to see which pages on your website are the most popular.
After you analyze your content with these tools, make a list of your top performing publications and posts.
This will be your starting point. You'll use this list to repurpose content.
For example, if you had a high performing blog post, you can turn it into a YouTube video. You could use a Facebook post with the highest number of likes on your Instagram story.
The ideas are seemingly endless. As we continue, I'll give you some more examples of how you can proceed.
Build custom infographics
Going through your old posts, you want to find ways to repurpose them for even more engagement.
Here's what I mean.
If you take an email newsletter that had the highest number of opens, click-throughs, and conversions and turn it into a blog post, the idea is that the blog post will be high-performing as well.
Otherwise, what's the point? You don't want to publish content just for the sake of publishing.
Your content needs to be actionable and drive engagement.
That's why infographics are ideal for this strategy. Infographics are the most shared types of content across social platforms:
People are visual learners.
The graph above is a perfect example of that. Sure, I can tell you infographics get shared the most. But when I show you, it really sinks in and makes it easier for you to process.
Scan through all your top performing posts you identified earlier. Look for facts, statistics, or anything else that could be turned into a visual representation of the concept.
If you have never built an infographic before, don't be intimidated. It's not that difficult.
Refer to my post on how to enhance your content by building infographics for a list of tools that will make this process easy for you.
Once you create these infographics, you'll have many options.
The same infographic can be used in different ways. You can:
The list goes on and on.
Leverage your social media platforms
Your social media profiles have lots of benefits. They expose your brand to a wider audience and help you engage with your followers and customers alike.
Posting content on social media also helps you drive traffic to your website.
Anything you create gives you an excuse to post on social media.
If you haven't been doing this, you need to do so moving forward. All your videos, infographics, and pictures are a must.
Social media is the number one way for publishers to drive traffic to their blog posts:
It's easy. Plus, it gives you an excuse to post something every day.
I'm shocked whenever I see businesses not using this tactic. They publish three or four blogs per week but struggle to come up with social media posts.
When you implement this strategy, plan your posts accordingly.
For example, there's no reason to share the same blog post on all your social platforms simultaneously.
Spread out those promotions throughout the week. This will maximize your exposure and increase the chances of driving more traffic to your site.
Create more evergreen content
You can't repurpose old content forever. At some point, you'll need to create new pieces.
But you can make repurposing easier by creating evergreen content.
Are you familiar with this concept? Allow me to explain.
Simply put, evergreen content stays relevant for longer periods of time than regular content. Ideally, the majority of your content will be evergreen.
But it's not realistic or likely that this will be the case for everything you create.
For example, last year, I wrote a post on top marketing trends to look for in 2018. Once 2019 comes, this post will lose its freshness.
When you write your evergreen content, you want to be as broad as possible. This post was fresh for an entire year. That wouldn't be the case if it was the top trends to look for in January 2018. Do you see the difference?
Extremely specific content will only be relevant for a short period of time. Therefore, it's more difficult for you to repurpose it.
Here's another example. If you write a post about the Apple's latest iOS update, it's fresh only until a new version of the software is released. That's not evergreen.
Here are some tips to help you find an evergreen topic:
FAQ sheets are great for evergreen content.
Produce how-to guides or videos on topics that won't be changing for years.
Clarify industry terms and concepts.
Again, I'm not saying you should be producing only evergreen content. That's not realistic.
But if you publish an evergreen topic tomorrow, you could potentially repurpose it on another platform next year. That's the idea.
Find the most interesting statistics you published
If you're like me, you use statistics in your content all the time. Stats are a great way to back up any claims you're making.
I recommend doing this because it proves your legitimacy and lets your audience know you're not making things up.
But if you're not repurposing content, those statistics get buried in your posts after they are published, never to be seen again.
Go back, and find the most interesting ones. In the future, keep a list of all statistics when you find them.
Then you can use them on other platforms.
Earlier, I talked about creating infographics. But that's not the only way you can repurpose data.
Tweet a statistic. Use them in your Instagram captions. Include a stat in your email subject line. Post the most relevant ones on your website.
Get creative with this strategy.
Start a podcast
Podcasts are another great way to repurpose your content.
That's because you have many different resources to work with there. All your blog posts and YouTube videos are viable options for a podcast.
You can summarize this content, nearly word for word, with your podcasts.
Since podcasts are growing in popularity, it's a great way to reach an audience that doesn't want to read blog posts or watch videos:
Consider bringing a guest on your podcast to make things more interesting.
Have some fun with it. I try to keep this in mind with all my podcasts.
Fine-tune your writing skills
If you've got lots of audio, video, and visual content, you need to learn how to turn that into written content.
Start blogging more often. Write every day if you can.
It's like anything else. The more you do something, the better you'll get at it.
I wasn't born a great blogger. It's a learned skill.
Are some people better writers than others? Absolutely.
If you can't find the time to write or can't figure out how to write quality content, find someone on your team who can handle these responsibilities.
Once you're able to write better, you can write a blog post about one of your YouTube videos, for example.
Keep things simple. Make your content easy for people to read and understand.
These are just some examples of things you can turn into written content:
Encourage user-generated content
Your content isn't the only type you can repurpose.
If you can find creative ways to encourage user-generated content, it will be easy for you to use this to your advantage as well.
Then all you have to do is sort through that user content and find the best pieces to repurpose for your needs.
Here's an example of how GoPro encourages UGC on its website:
As you can see, it offers an incentive for people to submit their own content.
GoPro is giving away a million dollars, split between anyone who submits content that the company uses in a promotional video.
This saves the team a ton of time.
Instead of going out to different locations all over the world to shoot videos on their latest camera model, they put their customers to work instead.
Plus, they'll be able to get way more footage this way as opposed to trying to do this on their own.
Once the videos are submitted, GoPro can repurpose them in a bunch of different ways. They can be used for advertisements, social media posts, YouTube videos, website content, and they can even be embedded in emails.
Come up with a similar strategy, and encourage your customers to submit pictures and videos.
I recommend using social media as a distribution platform for your UGC campaigns.
You can also find UGC without asking for it.
Sift through your comments.
Look at the comments on your social media pages and blog posts to see which ones can be repurposed.
If you notice similar comments or questions, use them to create an FAQ page.
Find your strongest introductions
Sometimes, all you need to do is repurpose a portion of your previously published content.
If you want to repurpose a short form of written content, I recommend using your post introductions.
If you need help with this, learn how to write blog post introductions that make the rest of your post irresistible.
Once you identified these top introductions, it's easy to repurpose them.
Use an introduction from a blog post in an email newsletter. Use the same text in a YouTube video description.
Preview your introductions on social media. Here's an example of how Conversion XL uses this strategy:
This also connects to one of my previous topics about leveraging your social media platforms.
Rather than posting a link with a CTA such as “check out my latest blog post,” consider using this strategy instead.
The text associated with the link would be the opening lines of the blog post introduction.
You don't need to create new content every time you want to publish something new.
There are ways for you to use your existing content to your advantage. Just repurpose the work you've already done across all your distribution channels.
Start by identifying your best content. You'll want to use that to increase your engagement metrics.
Build infographics. Share statistics. Post everything on social media.
Moving forward, create as much evergreen content as possible. This will make it easier for you to repurpose your content in the future.
Turn blog posts into podcasts. Use videos and other audio files to create posts.
Encourage user-generated content so you can repurpose it.
As you implement these strategies, you'll realize you're currently sitting on enough content to last you for months to come, as long as you can repurpose it effectively.
Use this guide as a reference to steer you in the right direction.
What type of content is your business repurposing on your distribution channels?
Can you guess how long I've been a marketer?
7 years? Maybe 10?
I've been a marketer for 18 years now. That's a long time… And funny enough, I've also been an entrepreneur for the same amount of time as I've never really held a “corporate” job.
Many of you think I am smart, and I am great at marketing. But let me burst your bubble… I am NOT smart, and I am NOT a great marketer.
Instead, I've just been doing everything long enough where I've learned what not to do.
See, the first 4 or so years of my marketing career went really slow and didn't go the way I wanted. This was mainly because I kept making mistakes. And even worse, I kept repeating the same mistakes over and over again.
So, when I was around 20 years old, I created a list of marketing principles to never break because I wanted to ensure that I didn't repeat the same mistakes over and over again.
Over time I kept adding to the list, and it has helped me succeed not only as a marketer but also as an entrepreneur.
Hopefully, the list principles below helps you get to where you want in life. I know it's helped me tremendously.
Principle #1: Don't be the first
So many new marketing channels pop up, don't be in a rush to try them all. Especially when these channels are new and unproven. You're more likely to waste time than find wins.
At the same time, you don't want to be the last either. The key is to be an early adopter. Once a channel is picking up steam, that's when you want to jump on board and see if you can leverage it for your business.
Principle #2: Ride it while it lasts
Every channel that works eventually gets saturated. Some fade away, but most stick around, and some just don't work as well.
For example, Facebook grew through sending out invitation emails to everyone in your email address book. That just doesn't work anymore.
Digg used to be an amazing site that drove 100,000 visitors to a site in less than 24 hours. It doesn't anymore. Google AdWords used to be a cheap way to drive sales. It still works, but it is expensive.
When you find a channel that is working amazingly well, push hard and milk it for as long as it lasts. As time goes on, you'll want to keep leveraging it, but you'll naturally have to scale back as more competitors jump due to price increases.
Principle #3: Sales and marketing should be owned by one person
To truly grow, you need to understand the whole picture. From how someone comes to your site, to what they are looking for, to how to sell, upsell, and retain a customer.
You need to think about the whole cycle a customer goes through.
For that reason, a company eventually needs a Chief Revenue Officer (especially in the B2B world). A CRO is someone in charge of both sales and marketing. The departments can run separately, but they need one boss.
When both departments don't roll up into one boss, there is typically is a disconnect. This will cause the conversion rates to be lower.
Principle #4: Go all in during recessionary periods
The market moves in cycles. When things go down people pull back on marketing. Don't optimize for short term gains, optimize for the long run.
Marketing tends to be more cost-effective during recessionary periods. This is when you should be spending more, doubling down, so that way you can beat your competition once the recession is over.
Principle #5: If you aren't thinking long term, you won't beat your competition
Most publicly traded companies optimize for a return within the first 12 months. Most venture-funded companies have a 1 to 3-year outlook. If you want to beat these companies, you need to have a 3-plus year outlook. This will open up more marketing channels that your competition can't look at due to investors and outside pressure.
With your marketing, it doesn't mean you have to lose money for 3 or more years to beat your competition. It means you just have to get creative. For example, I know marketing costs are rising each year, so I've invested in software to generate visitors at a much lower cost than CPC advertising.
Doing these sorts of things requires patience as it can take years for creative ideas to come to fruition.
Principle #6: Never rely on one channel
Good channels eventually become saturated and it's too risky if your marketing is solely based on one channel.
If it goes away or stops working for your business, it will crumble you. You can't control algorithms, and you can't always predict costs. Focus on an omnichannel approach.
In other words, you can't just do SEO or social media marketing. You need to eventually try and leverage all of the major marketing channels.
Principle #7: Marketing tends to get more expensive over time
It's rare for marketing to get cheaper. You can't control this. As much as you focus on marketing, you have to focus on conversion optimization. It's the only way to keep you in the game as costs increase.
Try to run at least one A/B test each month. And don't run tests based on your gut. Use both quantitative and qualitative data to make decisions.
Principle #8: Don't take your messaging for granted
No matter how effective your traffic generation skills are, you won't win if people don't understand why they should buy from you over the competition. A great example of this is Airbnb. They beat Home Away and are worth roughly ten times more.
They both have a similar product and they both executed well. Airbnb came out much later, but they nailed their messaging.
Spend time crafting and creating amazing messaging. Typically, amazing messaging requires story-telling and understanding your customers.
You may have to survey your customers or talk to them over the phone, but eventually, you can come up with the right messaging using qualitative data. And once you've figured out the right messaging, retest each year as market conditions can change, which will affect your messaging.
Principle #9: The numbers never lie
Opinions don't matter!
Marketing should always be a data-driven approach. Follow the numbers and keep auditing them as things will change over time. What works now may not in the future due to external factors that you can't control such as privacy and security concerns.
For example, if you users claim to hate exit popups, but the data shows an exit popup increases your monthly revenue by 10%, then continually use the exit popup.
People within the organization will complain and argue with you, but as long as you aren't doing anything unethical, follow the data.
Principle #10: The best thing you can do is build a brand
Whether it is a corporate or personal one, people connect with brands. From Tony Robbins to Nike, people prefer brands. By building a brand, you are building longevity with your marketing.
Don't ever take it for granted and start building it from day one. No matter how small or big your company is, you should continually work on improving your brand.
From the story behind why it exists to showcasing it wherever you can, push hard on branding. In the short run, it will not produce a positive ROI, and it is hard to track the value of a growing brand, but it works.
When people want to buy sports shoes, they don't always perform Google searches. Instead, they just think “Nike.” When people want a credit card, they think Visa, Mastercard, Discover, or American Express.
Brands are powerful and create longevity.
Principle #11: Always protect your brand
You'll have opportunities to generate quick sales or traffic at the sacrifice of your brand image. Never do it.
It's better to have less traffic and sales in the short run than it is to tarnish your brand in the long run. If you tarnish your brand, you'll find that it will be hard to recover and cost more money.
Principle #12: Don't take shortcuts
Every time someone presents a social media or SEO shortcut, avoid it. Typically, they won't last long, and they could set you back through a penalization. It's better to be safe and think long term.
It will be tempting but say no.
Principle #13: Don't market crap
Building a crappy product, service, or site just won't cut it. With the web being competitive and it being easier to start a site online, you need to make sure you have something incredible.
It's 10 times easier to market something people love than it is to market something people don't care about.
No matter how good of a marketer you are, it's not easy to market something people don't want. So first focus on creating something amazing.
Principle #14: Hire a full-time affiliate manager from day 1
There are always people within your space who aren't competitors and have an established user base. Have a dedicated resource continually reaching out and partnering with these sites and companies.
It's a good long-term way to grow without having to invest a lot of capital. Even if your product or service isn't ready, hire this person from day one as it takes 6 months to fully build up a good base of partnerships and affiliates.
Principle #15: Go against conventional marketing wisdom
Doing what everyone else is doing won't work for the long haul. Doing the opposite usually works much better.
It may sound risky to go against the grain, but it is one of the best ways to grow when you are in a saturated market.
A simple example of this is how Gmail grew when they first came out. Space was crowded and even though their tool was great, so was a lot of the competitors. Gmail grew by creating the illusion of exclusivity. People had to be invited by other members to get a @gmail.com email address.
Principle #16: If you aren't scared, you're not pushing the limits
If you're cheering about everything you are doing when it comes to marketing, something is wrong. You need to be scared and be going through a mix of emotions every time you launch a new marketing campaign.
If you aren't then you're not pushing the limits. Testing campaigns that your competition won't ever dare to try, and, of course, be ethical when doing this. Don't burn your brand.
The bigger the risk, the bigger the reward. Those who push the limits, tend to have a greater reward.
Principle #17: Don't be unethical
You are going to have opportunities to gain quick wins at the cost of your customers. Always put others first. It's the only way to survive in the long haul. In general, if you are going to have trouble sleeping at night, you shouldn't be doing it.
A good example of this in marketing is how affiliates use forced continuity. This is when they sell physical products for free as long as their customers pay for shipping. What these customers don't realize is that they are going to receive the same product every month and they will get a bill every month as well.
Don't be unethical.
Principle #18: Get the right influencers onboard early
People tend to have a deeper connection with individuals over corporate brands. Get influencers on board early, as it will help you attract customers faster.
Make sure your influencers are related to your business or else it won't work and will just be a waste of money.
For example, if you are selling a B2B software you don't want half naked Instagram influencers promoting your product. It won't work.
But if you are selling fashion products, having influencers on Instagram who have popular fashion channels will help drive sales.
Principle #19: Video is the future
People want to connect with you and your company. If you aren't integrating video within your marketing, you are making a big mistake. Whether you like being on camera or not, video should be in your strategy from day 1.
When you create videos, don't just put it on your site. Put the same videos everywhere… from social networks to asking other websites to embed your videos on their site.
You should even test running video ads as they tend to be more effective than text-based ads. They are more expensive to run, but the conversion rate is typically higher.
Principle #20: You don't know everything
Marketing is always changing. No matter how good you get at one tactic, never stop learning. Having the attitude that you are great will only hurt you. Have an open mind and be willing to learn from anyone, especially newcomers with little to no experience as they bring fresh insights.
Principle #21: Don't hire arrogant marketers
If you have arrogant marketers on your team, consider replacing them with people who are open to learning (assuming you aren't breaking any HR laws).
Arrogant marketers are typically stuck in their ways and they aren't open to change. Just because someone doesn't know as much, doesn't mean they can't learn.
Arrogant marketers tend not to experiment, and they prefer sticking with what they know.
Principle #22: Little is the new big
Social media has empowered everyone. Don't take people for granted, even if they don't have money. By helping everyone, it will cause your brand to grow in the long run.
Don't worry about a direct ROI when helping others, it will cause word of mouth marketing.
Because of social media, everyone can impact your brand in a good or bad way. So make sure it's in a good way by helping everyone out (as much as it is feasibly possible).
Principle #23: Continually test what's working
Because of external factors that you can't control, things change over time.
For example, 3rd party authentications used to boost conversion rates, but now people are concerned with using them because of privacy concerns.
Always retest what has worked in the past every 6 months to ensure it is still helping you.
When you don't retest, you'll find that your conversion rates will drop over time and you won't know the cause of it.
Principle #24: The majority of people don't read
If you write a masterpiece, expect the majority of the people to not read it. Make sure your content and marketing landing pages are easy to skim. Without this, you'll lose out on a large portion of sales.
Things like design, spacing, colors, and typography all affect readability and how easy it is to skim. Yes, messaging is important, but if no one reads it then you won't generate sales.
Principle #25: Headlines are more important than content
8 out of 10 people will read your headline, but only 2 will click through and read your content. Spend as much time coming up with a headline as you do writing content. If you have an amazing masterpiece and a terrible headline, it won't get read.
You shouldn't stop with one headline either. Consider A/B testing a handful of headlines, as this will help you come up with a winning version.
Principle #26: Expand internationally once you've figured out your main market
The English language is always competitive. But markets like Asia and Latin America don't have as much competition and people within these regions are willing to spend money.
Translate your website, content, product, and service as quickly as possible (while maintaining quality, of course!). It will open up more marketing opportunities and revenue streams.
When picking new markets, don't just look at GDP look at the population as well. If one region has a slightly lower GDP but a higher population, consider going after the one with a larger population first.
Principle #27: Be willing to start over every year
If you are expecting to grow by just doubling down on what worked in the past, your growth will slow down.
By having the mentality that you need to start over and redo all of your marketing initiatives each year, you'll grow faster as you will be receptive to change.
This doesn't mean you should ignore what worked for you in the last 12 months, it means that you need to keep doing that as well as well as go back to the drawing board to try new tactics.
Principle #28: Ideas are a dime a dozen, but good team members aren't
You'll have dozens of ideas that you'll want to test, but if you don't have people to take charge of them they won't go anywhere. Don't bite off more than your team can handle.
If you want to grow faster, you need people to take charge and lead each of your marketing initiatives. This will also allow you to fine tune each channel and squeeze the most out of it.
And if you have dozens of ideas, don't just hire any marketer. If you don't hire the right person, with experience, you'll find that marketing channel isn't working out too well for you. So take your time.
Principle #29: Don't hire people you need to train if you want to grow fast
There is nothing wrong with hiring people who need training, but it will cause your growth to slow down.
If you want more traffic and sales ASAP, you can't hire people that need hand holding or training. Hire marketers with industry experience that know how to get off and running from day 1.
Ideally, you should even consider hiring marketers who have worked for your competition and have done well for them.
Principle #30: It takes 3 months for a marketer to get ramped up
No matter how skilled of a marketer you hire, even if they come from your competition, it typically takes 3 months for them to find their groove.
So, when you hire them as a full-time employee or a contractor, be patient and be willing to give it at least 3 months before you decide what you want to do.
Of course, you should see results within the first 3 months (even if they are small) but you still need to be patient.
Principle #31: People love stories and always will
Storytelling goes back centuries. They were effective back then and they still are today (and they will be tomorrow as well). Integrate stories within your copy. It will help you craft a better bond with your audience.
Principle #32: Don't take trends for granted
If you see the market moving in a direction, even if you don't think it will last forever, consider riding the wave. Even if you don't like the trend, you'll find that it typically makes customer acquisition easier and more affordable.
Use tools like Google Trends to help you determine which trends are popular and to see how the market is moving.
A great example of this is MixPanel copied the KISSmetrics product, but they grew faster as they rode the mobile analytics trend, while KISSmetrics did not.
Principle #33: Optimize for revenue, not top of funnel metrics
In marketing, looking at numbers like monthly visitors is great, but it isn't the most important metric. Optimizing for leads isn't enough either.
Your tracking needs to encompass the whole funnel. By optimizing for revenue you'll be able to make better decisions and see faster growth.
When looking at your funnel, keep in mind that it shouldn't stop with a purchase. There are upsells, repeat purchases, cross-sells, and even churn to consider.
Principle #34: Follow the rule of 7
People need to hear about your brand or see your brand 7 times before they'll convert into a customer. In other words, you need to be everywhere if you want to win market share.
With every company having similar products and services, people have a hard time deciding who to buy from. If your brand is more prevalent, people are more likely to choose you.
Make sure you are leveraging as many proven marketing channels as possible.
Some of the principles above may seem obvious to you while others may not. But you'll find that both you and your team will make many of the mistakes no matter how obvious they seem.
Whether it is the principles above or your own, consider creating a list of your own for your team to follow. And it shouldn't just be for marketing. I have lots of principles… especially in regards to entrepreneurship.
So what other principles should marketers follow? Just leave a comment below with some of the principles you follow.
With the holiday season quickly approaching, your business needs to take steps to prepare for a potential surge in sales.
But you can't assume people will buy from your brand during the holidays if you sit back and do nothing. The brands able to recognize the latest marketing trends will have success in the coming months.
Consumers are willing and able to spend money during the holidays. It's a fact.
How you prepare and position yourself will determine how much of the market share your company will control.
Even though the ecommerce industry is a competitive space, there is plenty of money to go around.
In fact, experts predict ecommerce sales to increase by 17-22% during the 2018 holiday season. November 1st to January 31st is considered the holiday season.
I know what some of you are thinking. There are holidays throughout the entire year. What makes the ones during those dates so special?
Research shows consumers say they will spend nearly $800 during the winter holidays:
On average, they spend more money during the winter holidays than during all the other top-spending holidays combined.
It's the season of giving, and it's usually a happy time of year. People are feeling generous when buying gifts for their friends and family.
However, the holiday season can be stressful. The weather starts to get colder. Stores get busier. Consumers feel overwhelmed with the length of their to-do lists.
As a marketer, you need to make the buying process as easy as possible for the customer.
With your ecommerce platform, there is no reason for people to fight the crowds at their local shopping malls. They can buy holiday gifts from the comfort of their homes.
I'll explain how you can use this situation to your advantage and benefit from a major boost in ecommerce sales during the 2018 holiday season.
Don't wait to start your promotions
When is it appropriate to start running holiday ads?
You need to learn how to build hype for the holiday season as an ecommerce brand.
This is your chance to let people know what to expect. Tell them what type of sales you'll be running or whether you're planning to release a new product around that time.
They may not necessarily buy something the first time they see your holiday ad, but be persistent. Continue running promotions on all your distribution channels.
When consumers are ready to buy, your business will be on their minds.
All too often I see ecommerce brands hesitant to start these promotions early. They think it's a waste of money because people don't start shopping until late November at the earliest.
But that's not the case. Research shows that only 27% of consumers don't purchase any gifts before Thanksgiving:
This means that more than 70% of people have done at least some holiday shopping before Thanksgiving.
It's not unreasonable for a customer to buy gifts during the first week of November.
The earlier you can start your holiday promotions, the greater chance you'll have of driving more ecommerce sales.
Recognize the most popular shopping days
As you can see, there is a surge in ecommerce sales between November and January. But some days are more popular than others during that time.
Over the past five years, Cyber Monday and Black Friday have consistently been the most popular days for holiday shoppers:
We've all seen those crazy Black Friday videos every year. Hundreds of customers running into stores, trampling on anything and anyone who gets in their way.
Six people fist-fighting over the last TV in the store. It's madness.
Why does this happen? It's because everyone loves to get a deal.
As an ecommerce brand, you need to run ads promoting ways customers can save money by shopping online. They don't need to deal with that mayhem to get a bargain.
Here's another strategy you can consider. There's no need for you to wait till Cyber Monday to slash your prices.
Since so many people are shopping during those two days, your brand could get lost in the shuffle.
To stand out, create your own brand holiday that same week.
Send out email reminders, post on social media, and update your website. Then your customers will know they can get great deals on the Tuesday or Wednesday before or after Cyber Monday.
If you implement this strategy, you should still continue to run deals on Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
The last thing you want to do is let your competitors steal your customers during the two most popular shopping days of the year.
Put emphasis on your return policy
Obviously, you don't want to deal with returns. However, your return policy is important to your customers.
This is especially true during the holiday season. When people buy gifts, they don't know whether the recipient will like what they get.
What if they already have one? What if the size is wrong?
That's probably why holiday ecommerce return rates are so high.
Customers are more than three times as likely to return a holiday ecommerce purchase than a standard brick and mortar purchase.
Ecommerce return rates are 10% higher during the holidays than the rest of the year.
Furthermore, 80% of consumers expect free returns. However, only 25% of retailers have a free return policy.
This is your chance to differentiate yourself from the competition. Offer free returns.
We know that 83% of customers read return policies before buying something, so make sure this information is easy to find on your website.
Here's something else you should keep in mind: 72% of consumers are willing to shop more frequently and spend more money with businesses offering easy returns.
If you make this process simple, you can boost revenue by optimizing the customer experience.
Consider extending the length of your return deadlines, especially during the holiday season. Here's why.
Even if your company has a 30-day return policy with no questions asked, it still may not be good enough. What if someone buys a gift for Christmas in early November?
The return policy could be invalid before the recipient even opens their gift.
Take all of this into consideration when you're creating your return policy. Advertise how easy it is for customers to return gifts without any hassle.
Don't charge for shipping
In addition to offering free returns, you should offer free shipping as well.
I already discussed how much money people plan to spend during the holidays. They'll do whatever they can to save money when they have the chance.
If they are torn between buying something from two different brands, they'll ultimately decide to go with the company that will ship their items free.
Don't underestimate the importance of this. Free shipping was cited by consumers as the most important option when buying online:
The reason why businesses don't offer free shipping is because they don't want the cost to come out of their pockets, which is understandable.
To offset the shipping cost, just raise the prices of your products.
Your customers won't know the difference. They're still paying for the advertised price and can benefit from free shipping.
Here's an analogy.
Have you ever stayed at a hotel offering free breakfast?
Obviously, that breakfast isn't free. Its cost was included in your nightly rate.
The same concept can be applied to free shipping.
Offer rewards for customer loyalty
The holiday season shouldn't be a time for you to start focusing on customer acquisition.
Would you be happy with getting new customers? Absolutely.
But that doesn't mean you should be marketing to a new audience. Instead, focus on generating sales from your existing customers.
These people already know who you are and what you stand for. They're familiar with your products and don't need any introduction.
You can increase sales by implementing a customer loyalty program. You can use this strategy all year.
Research indicates 82% of consumers are more likely to buy from brands offering loyalty programs.
If you have these programs in place, make sure you remind your loyal customers they can save money with their rewards during the holidays.
As I said before, people are spending a ton of money during this season, so they'll gladly look for any way to save a few bucks whenever possible.
During the holidays, 86% of consumers will stay loyal to businesses that have rewards programs:
Furthermore, 90% of shoppers say they plan to take advantage of rewards programs during the holiday season.
And 50% of consumers plan to use those rewards to buy more gifts than they normally would.
But just because someone is a member of your rewards program doesn't mean they won't buy from another brand.
The average consumer participates in four different rewards programs.
To ensure your customers buy from you instead of your competitors, you need to offer better rewards and incentives.
Make it easy for customers to track shipping
Earlier I mentioned that people are stressed during the holidays.
They have much to do and have many things on their minds. To stay organized, people want the ability to track the progress of their orders.
You should send shipping notifications and tracking numbers to your customers.
This is a great chance for you to create an actionable drip campaign.
First, send an email to the customer confirming their order was completed. Then, send a second email notifying them the order has shipped. This is an appropriate time to include the tracking number.
Finally, send a third email when the product has been delivered.
Click-through rates to tracking pages increase during the holiday season:
This should tell you that consumers are genuinely interested in tracking their orders. It gives them a chance to make sure everything is going according to schedule.
Studies show 93% of consumers refer to their emails for these notifications, and 38% of people want to be contacted on multiple channels.
If applicable, consider sending text messages and push notifications.
Here is another reason why tracking packages is such an important feature for you to offer.
Statistics indicate that 33% of people have had packages stolen from their doorsteps. Nearly 26 million Americans had packages stolen from their doorsteps or front porches during the 2017 holiday season.
With ecommerce sales expected to rise during the 2018 holiday season, it's safe to assume theft will rise as well.
These are alarming numbers, but it's reality. By alerting your customers their orders have been delivered, you can help reduce the chances of theft of their purchases.
Prioritize mobile commerce
By now, I hope you've recognized the importance of mobile optimization.
Your website should be mobile friendly, and some of you may have even developed a successful mobile commerce app.
Don't overlook mobile commerce during the holidays. It should remain an important part of your marketing strategy.
On Black Friday of 2017, 57% of ecommerce traffic came from mobile devices. People were using their smartphones even while shopping in stores.
Mobile commerce held a 37% revenue share last year during the holidays. This was up from 17.5% in 2016.
I expect this trend to continue rising in 2018 and the coming years as well.
Consumers will turn to their mobile devices to buy during the holidays.
As you can see from these numbers, ecommerce brands with mobile apps will have a competitive advantage here.
Make sure you utilize all the features at your disposal.
Send out push notifications to mobile app users to remind them of flash sales. You can also send notifications about order updates, which I discussed when talking about tracking orders.
Appeal to those last-minute shoppers
Earlier I told you that you should start advertising as soon as possible because people start shopping for the holidays sooner than you may think.
But some people just love waiting until the last minute.
Don't stop running your holiday campaigns until the season is officially over. Make sure you find ways to appeal to last-minute shoppers.
The best way to do this is by offering fast shipping options:
As you can see, people who wait until the last minute to buy gifts are significantly more likely to buy from retailers offering fast delivery.
Last-minute shoppers are 39% more likely to abandon their shopping carts if the delivery options are too slow.
Overall, 67% of consumers abandoned ecommerce shopping carts in the last year because of slow delivery times. This is a 16% increase from last year.
And 92% of consumers said that receiving their delivery on time was the most important factor they considered when purchasing a gift.
Unfortunately, it may not be reasonable to combine your fast delivery feature with your free shipping incentive.
If a last-minute shopper needs something shipped overnight two days before Christmas, they'll have to pay a premium for shipping. But by this point, they're willing to pay as long as it arrives on time.
The holiday season is a great opportunity for you to take advantage of consumer spending habits.
Since they spend more money, you have a chance to make more money. But this won't come automatically.
Start promoting your holiday sales as early as possible. Run your best deals on the most popular shopping days of the year.
Make it appealing for customers to buy from you instead of your competition.
Offer free shipping. Have a hassle-free return policy. Reward your most loyal customers.
Allow your customers to see their order status and track the shipping of their packages.
Don't forget about mobile customers and last-minute shoppers.
Follow the advice I've outlined above, and use this guide as a reference to generate sales during the 2018 holiday season. Happy holidays!
How is your business planning on appealing to holiday shoppers this season?
Email marketing needs to be a top priority for your company's content strategy.
On average, for every $1 you spend on your email campaigns, you can expect to receive $40 in return.
That's why it's so important for you to get more email subscribers without annoying your website visitors.
But having a huge list of subscribers is useless if you don't know how to manage your content. If you are sending the same campaigns to everyone on your list, I bet your results aren't that favorable.
People on your email list shouldn't be grouped into one category.
For starters, these people are very different. In addition to their demographic differences, your subscribers will have separate wants and needs.
It's unlikely you'll be able to run an email campaign relevant to everyone on your subscriber list.
Irrelevant content is the second most common reason why people unsubscribe from email lists.
You worked hard to get them to sign up, but all of that will be thrown away as soon as they unsubscribe. You need to avoid that.
Email segmentation is a must if you want to deliver relevant marketing content to your subscribers.
If you've never segmented your email lists or your current segmentation methods need improvement, you've come to the right place. I'll explain what you need to do to elevate your email marketing strategy with segmentation tactics.
Encourage your customers to create profiles
Often, businesses don't segment their email lists because they simply don't have enough information to do so.
How can you segment your subscribers if the only piece of information you have about them is their email address? Email addresses alone won't be enough.
That's why you should encourage your customers to create profiles on your website.
You'll use these profiles to improve their shopping experience. Then they can store their payment information, billing addresses, manage their order histories, etc.
But these customer profiles will benefit your segmentation strategy as well.
You'll get more information about each customer. And you can use that information to segment your lists accordingly.
That said, customer profiles shouldn't be a requirement.
Some ecommerce shops force customers to create profiles just to buy something. I strongly advise against this strategy.
In a perfect world, yes, they'll create profiles. But you don't want to lose conversions because of this.
Instead, try to give them a reason to sign up. Here's an example from the Lululemon website:
As you can see, they list the benefits of creating a customer profile.
No hard sell or any pressure to do so. People who create a profile will benefit from:
When the customer creates a profile, you'll collect more information about them. We'll talk more about what type of info you should be asking for as we continue through this guide.
Don't ask for too much information right away
If people want to sign up to receive emails from your company, they shouldn't have to submit a blood sample to do so.
Obviously, I'm exaggerating here. But you'd be surprised at the number of form fields some brands require when a customer signs up for email content.
I understand your reasoning behind this.
The more information you get from your customers, the easier it will be to segment them into different categories. However, if you ask for too much, it will turn people away from signing up in the first place.
Why should they trust you with personal information that's, in their opinion, irrelevant to their shopping experience? They just won't sign up.
Plus, you can still come up with effective segmented lists with just a few form fields.
Here's a great example from the Champs Sports website:
In addition to asking for a website visitor's email address, Champs also requires them to give their first name. While this won't necessarily help them segment their subscribers, it will help them personalize their messages.
With the information on this list, Champs can segment new subscribers based on:
That's plenty. You can create multiple lists with just those three pieces of information.
For example, one group could be females between the ages of 18 and 25 living in New England.
The content they receive would be significantly different from a group of men between the ages of 35 and 50 living in southern California.
Limit the form fields on your opt-in page. There's no reason for you to know their favorite color or mother's maiden name.
The more information required to sign up, the fewer people will subscribe.
Let your subscribers customize their content
Another way to deliver relevant marketing content is by simply asking your subscribers what they want to receive.
If they can customize the type of emails you send, they won't be surprised or annoyed when they get a message. Everything delivered to their inbox will be extremely relevant.
Set up these options through your customer profile settings, which we just talked about.
In addition to letting people customize their email content through their profiles, you can give them options on the types of content they want to receive when they initially sign up.
Here's a great example of this strategy used by Lowe's.
Lowe's only asks for the customers' email addresses and zip codes. They can use this to segment their audiences by location.
But look at how Lowe's offers customizable email options.
By default, everything is checked. However, people can uncheck the types of content they find irrelevant.
For example, let's say someone wants to receive only marketing promotions from this company.
Any time they got a message about home improvement tips or upcoming events, they would be annoyed. These newsletters are irrelevant to them.
They can opt out of those by simply unchecking the appropriate boxes when signing up in the first place.
Use the double opt-in strategy
When I work with other businesses, I see this problem all the time.
They have many subscribers on their email lists that don't belong there. That's because some people provided their email addresses without realizing what they were getting into.
To get more subscribers, some websites have a default setting during the checkout process to join their email lists.
But the customer doesn't realize they're going to get bombarded with marketing emails just because they wanted to buy something.
While I don't have a problem with this strategy overall, it needs to be implemented with a double opt-in to complete the signup process.
Your content won't be relevant if it's being delivered to people who subscribed by accident. Double opt-ins help ensure that subscribers actually want to receive marketing messages from your business.
The easiest way to implement a double opt-in verification message is with a welcome email:
Once a new subscriber confirms they want to be on your email list, you can segment them based on the factors I previously discussed and will continue to cover moving forward.
If a customer doesn't complete the process, don't send them emails unless it's related to their order.
Segment based on engagement
Another way to segment your subscribers is based on how they responded to previous emails you sent.
You should be tracking actions such as:
Then, segment your subscribers accordingly based on this behavior.
For example, someone who never opened an email could potentially get a similar promotion in the future. Whereas a subscriber who already opened that message shouldn't receive it again. It's irrelevant to that person.
This tactic will help you improve your open rates and other metrics due to your segmentation strategy.
Segmenting based on engagement is another way to take advantage of your customer profiles, which I discussed earlier.
When someone browses on your website while logged in to their customer profile, you can segment them based on their browsing behavior, purchase history, and the frequency with which they visit your site.
Someone who is on your site weekly shouldn't get an email saying “we miss you.”
That type of message is only relevant to subscribers who have been inactive for several months.
Understand the needs of your B2B clients
Segmenting email subscribers is extremely important for B2B companies. It's a great way to improve your overall B2B marketing strategy.
Those of you who operate a B2C and B2B company should have those two categories segmented, at the very least. But you should take that one step further on the B2B end.
Your B2B lists should be even more specific than your B2C lists.
The number one factor contributing to B2B marketing success in the previous year was creating higher quality and more efficient content:
Understand who will be receiving these emails.
You can segment these lists based on a job title. Company owners who have more buying power and final decision-making should not get the same messages that a warehouse manager would.
Segment your B2B lists based on industry, company size, and marketing budget.
Your clients that spend $50,000 a year on your products and services shouldn't be getting the same marketing content as B2B clients that spend $5,000 annually.
Put your subscribers into customer groups
My last point leads to the next one: not all your customers are the same.
Put them into groups based on a number of factors related to their status as a customer as opposed to general factors such as their age and location.
For example, new customers shouldn't be getting the same emails as people who subscribed over a year ago.
A great way to start communicating with your new subscribers is by creating a series of actionable drip campaigns.
If you put all your customers into one group, you won't make as much money from them. Here's what I mean.
Your customers who spend the least amount of money shouldn't be getting emailed about your most expensive products. Instead, send them promotions that entice them to spend a little bit more or shop more frequently.
That's why segmenting your subscribers based on spending is an effective strategy.
Targeted emails based on this type of segmentation yield an average of an additional $14 in sales per subscriber.
Some of you may have nearly 10,000 or more subscribers on your email lists.
So do the math. These additional profits will add up quickly.
Send birthday emails
As we've seen throughout this guide, age is a great way to segment your subscribers for a number of reasons.
But you can do even more with that information if you have it.
It may sound cheesy, but sending birthday promotions to your subscribers can go a long way. You can take advantage of their birthdays more than just once a year.
Take a look at how The Hook Up uses this strategy to send an email on its subscribers' half birthdays:
This personalized content is extremely relevant to the recipient.
It's unique to each subscriber. Discounted dinner for being a half year older? Sign me up.
You can even start birthday promotional messages early.
For example, let's say your email lists are segmented by birthday months. Everyone who has a birthday in November can receive a message in October about getting ready for their birthday with a new pair of shoes or something along those lines.
Obviously, you'll tailor the message accordingly based on your business, but you understand what I mean.
Right now, some of you might not be segmenting your subscribers at all. Don't get overwhelmed and bite off more than you can chew when you start.
Research shows that half of businesses aren't segmenting email lists. So you shouldn't be too alarmed yet.
Don't try to come up with dozens of different lists right away.
Start by trying to segment your existing subscribers. Send a poll to the people on your email list about their interests, and group them accordingly.
Change your current landing page to get more information from new subscribers.
You need to walk before you can run. Starting slow will help you make sure you get things right.
The last thing you want to do is put people on the wrong list. That strategy will backfire because your content will be more irrelevant to them than ever before.
Segmenting your subscribers is the key to email marketing success.
If you learn how to segment your customers accordingly, your marketing content will be more relevant. As a result, fewer people will unsubscribe from your list, and your email campaigns will be more profitable.
Encourage your customers to create a profile. Just don't force them to give you too much personal information.
On sign-up, let your customers customize the type of content they want to receive.
Use a double opt-in landing strategy to make sure people actually want to be on your email marketing list.
Segment subscribers based on engagement, browsing history, and previous purchases.
Understand the difference between your B2C and B2B clients. Your B2B lists should be even more specific.
Group your customers based on spending habits.
If you're new to email segmentation strategies, start small. Focus on the basics before you try more complex tactics.
Ultimately, this will help you deliver relevant marketing content to all your subscribers.
How is your brand segmenting subscribers on your email lists?
As an ecommerce shop, you need to keep coming up with new ways to increase your revenue.
But it's a common misconception that you need to find new customers to generate more sales. That's not the case.
In fact, there are plenty of ways to increase revenue without acquiring new customers.
Rather than trying to get more transactions on your ecommerce site, you should be focusing on tactics that increase the amount of each transaction.
Don't get me wrong. Obviously, new customers and more transactions are great news for your business. But it's not the only way to make more money.
What's the average order value on your platform?
You should be tracking this metric at all times. If you're unfamiliar with average order value, abbreviated as AOV, it's really easy to calculate.
Tactics that improve your AOV work for new as well as existing customers.
It's all about the way you display information on your website.
I know what some of you might be thinking. Your current average order value is adequate. Do you really need to make any changes?
When it comes to an AOV, there is always room for improvement. In truth, the sky is the limit.
Use this guide as a reference for increasing your AOV. Once you apply these strategies, your ecommerce revenue will increase as a result.
Set a minimum for free delivery
Free delivery has a major impact on ecommerce conversions.
In fact, 60% of consumers will abandon their shopping carts during the checkout process if they're presented with extra costs, such as shipping.
I'm a big advocate of not passing those shipping costs onto your customers.
That said, you don't need to offer free shipping on every order. Here's what I mean.
At the end of the day, someone has to pay for shipping. It'll either be you or the customer.
Just include those shipping costs in the cost of your products.
That way, shipping is perceived as free to the customer, but you'll still be able to cover those costs with their purchase.
If you want to increase the average order value, set a minimum purchase amount for free shipping eligibility.
REI uses this strategy:
Take a look at this shopping cart.
The total cost of the products in the cart is $22. But this total isn't enough to be eligible for free shipping.
REI reminds its customers in two places on this page that orders over $50 ship free.
As a result, people will be more inclined to add additional items to their carts.
Why pay for shipping if you don't have to?
Assuming the customer in this scenario took the bait, REI was able to increase the purchase amount of this transaction by more than double the initial value.
Upsell on the checkout page
The most successful ecommerce shops find ways to upsell to their customers right before they finalize the purchase.
However, you need to be careful if you decide to implement this strategy. Here's why.
Upsells shouldn't take away from the initial purchase intent.
By the time your customers reach your checkout page, they already added items to their carts and want to convert. Don't let your upsell be a distraction that eventually hinders them from completing the purchase.
The buying process needs to be as fluid as possible, with minimal friction. So don't make the upsell an extra step.
Let me show you a great example of an upsell from Jetties Bracelets that illustrates what I'm talking about:
Based on what the customer added to their shopping cart, the website automatically generated an upsell of other items frequently purchased together.
If the customer wants to add these upsells to their cart, all they need to do is click one button.
This takes the value of this order from $9 to $27.
As you can see, a simple upsell on the checkout page can triple the order amount. Just make sure it isn't distracting or forced upon the customer.
You want them to convert even if they don't go for the upsell.
Offer package discounts
Bundle or package discounts provide an incentive for customers to spend more money.
The concept behind this tactic is simple.
You can generate more profits by focusing on your pricing strategy. Most pricing models make it more expensive to buy a single item.
But if the customer is willing to buy higher quantities of that item, they'll receive a discount depending on how much they're willing to spend.
It's the basic strategy behind “buying in bulk,” which is common for B2B companies.
However, you can apply the same method to your B2C ecommerce shop. Customers shouldn't have to buy thousands of instances of the same product to get a quantity discount.
Look at how MeUndies accomplishes this:
The brand uses this strategy all over its ecommerce site.
For starters, it advertises that customers can save up to 35% off by purchasing packs.
Then, if you look at the site's navigation menu, you'll see that “packs” is one of the five options for segmenting products.
The company reinforces these discounts when a customer clicks on a pack to purchase.
For this pack of underwear, MeUndies offers a discount for buying three pairs instead of one.
However, if the customer buys a 6-pack, the cost per pair goes down even more. Customers will benefit from additional savings if they buy a 10-pack.
The price of one pair of underwear is $20. But in a 10-pack, it's $15 per pair.
This strategy encourages people to spend more money because it makes them feel they're getting a better value.
Customers can get a 25% discount by spending more money. As a result, you'll benefit from getting a higher average order value.
Include a gift wrap option
Another way to increase the AOV of your ecommerce shop is by enhancing the value of your products.
What can you do to make your products more valuable?
One strategy I like is the gift wrap option.
During the holidays, 82% of shoppers plan to buy gifts online. But holidays aren't the only time of the year when people buy gifts.
People get gifts for birthdays, weddings, graduations, retirements, and other milestones. Your gift wrapping feature should be available 365 days a year.
Look at how Target uses this strategy on its ecommerce store to increase its AOV:
On the checkout page, shoppers can indicate whether their order includes a gift.
If the buyer wants gifts wrapped, it'll cost them an additional $5.99 per item. An order with three gifts adds roughly $18 to the shopping cart.
At this point, it's all about convenience for the customer.
Without this option, the customer would have to get the gift sent to their house, then wrap it themselves before delivering it or re-shipping to the final recipient.
There is nothing convenient about that.
But the gift wrap option eliminates these steps and ultimately improves the customer experience. They'll be happy to spend more money.
Charge more for personalized items
Let's continue talking about ways to enhance the value of whatever you're selling.
If you can figure out how to apply this concept in your business, it can result in a major revenue increase.
That's because consumers say they are willing to pay 20% more for personalized products.
You need to recognize this fact and adjust your personalization strategy accordingly.
Check out how The Perfume Shop does this on its ecommerce site:
This company gives its customers a chance to get custom engravings on certain bottles.
However, this upgrade comes with an additional cost. But as you saw, customers are willing and able to pay more for customization.
It would be unreasonable for them to expect a premium feature like this to be available at no additional cost.
Incentivize minimum spending thresholds
I talked about minimum spending thresholds earlier. Having a minimum order amount for free shipping eligibility is an example of this strategy.
But free shipping isn't the only way to encourage higher spending.
You can set up a discount based on spending amounts.
Here's an example from the Rue21 ecommerce website:
Customers can take advantage of getting 30% off their orders, which is a significant amount.
However, there is a catch. In order to get the 30% discount, they must spend a minimum of $40.
This strategy works well because it also has a deadline.
As you can see, the site has a running clock, indicating when this promotion expires. Customers will feel as though they need to act fast to get this discount before it's too late.
By combining these two strategies, Rue21 is able to increase its conversion rates while increasing its AOV at the same time.
Have you heard of BOGO?
BOGO stands for “buy one, get one.” It's up to you to decide how you want to fill in the sentence after that.
Buy one, get one free. Buy one, get one half off. You've got lots of options to choose from.
The reason why BOGO works so well is because it encourages people to spend more money. After all, how could they pass on such a good deal? Here's what I mean.
If you have a “buy one, get one free sale”, it implies that if someone buys two items, they'll get two free. If they buy three, they'll get three free, and so on.
Maurices uses this strategy on its website:
It's the first thing that you see when you navigate to its ecommerce homepage.
Don't let BOGO limit your creativity here. You can run similar promotions.
For example, “buy two, get one” free would encourage people to spend even more money.
Either way, this strategy can help you increase your average order value.
Give cash back
Creating a cash back system on your ecommerce site will give people an incentive to spend more money.
The more money they spend, the more cash back they'll receive. Ultimately, they'll benefit from these rewards as much as you will. It's a win-win scenario for everyone.
The Kohl's cash system is a great example:
For every $25 a customer spends, they'll receive $5 in Kohl's cash.
This promotion is valid on its ecommerce website as well as in its physical stores. If you have brick and mortar shops in addition to your ecommerce platform, you may want to consider a similar structure.
Once customers spend money, they receive Kohl's cash in the form of a coupon.
These coupons are automatically stored in their customer profiles.
Kohl's doesn't have any limit on this spending. If a customer spends $1,000, they'll get $200 in Kohl's cash as a reward.
I know what some of you are thinking. If the cash back eventually gets redeemed, wouldn't it lower the average order value of those future purchases?
Not necessarily. It's unlikely that people will spend only the amount of their reward on those future purchases. Plus, you can set expiration dates for the cash back rewards, which is what Kohl's does. There's a chance not all of these rewards will be used.
Recommend products to your customers
Studies show 58% of consumers are more likely to buy from online retailers who recommend products based on their customers' purchase histories.
In addition to using information about their previous purchases, you can also use customers' browsing histories for product recommendations.
This strategy works best if you encourage people to create customer profiles. It makes it easier for you to monitor their behaviors.
It's also effective if you have a mobile app. In fact, personalized recommendations made my list of the top 10 features of a successful mobile commerce app.
When you recommend products to your customers, it speaks to them. I talked about this earlier when I discussed upselling.
But you don't need to wait until the customer reaches their shopping cart to offer recommendations. Here's an example from the Sephora's website:
In addition to recommending and showcasing its bestsellers, the brand also has a “recommended for you section” on its homepage.
The items displayed will vary depending on who is browsing.
For example, let's say your ecommerce shop sells sports equipment.
One of your customers recently purchased a new set of golf clubs on your website. The next time they visit your site, you could recommend golf balls, tees, golf spikes, and other similar accessories.
These recommendations will ultimately help you increase your AOV.
Create a loyalty program based on spending tiers
Loyal customers spend more money.
In fact, 82% of consumers are more likely to buy from businesses offering loyalty programs.
Plus, repeat customers spend 67% more money than new customers. That's why you need to learn how to increase sales by implementing a customer loyalty program.
However, there are many different types of loyalty programs out there.
One of my favorite options is to create a program based on spending tiers. This is the best way to get your existing customers to spend more money each time they shop.
Here's a look at the Nordy Club benefits, which is a loyalty program from Nordstrom:
As you can see, the benefits get better as customers reach each spending level within a calendar year. These loyalty programs reward your customers who spend the most money.
For the most part, people probably won't spend $500 or $2,000 in one purchase.
However, they may be willing to spend an extra $50 or so on each transaction to get them one step closer to the next rewards tier.
By encouraging them to spend more, you'll increase your average order value.
While new customers are always great for company growth, they are not a requirement for increasing your revenue.
Instead of prioritizing customer acquisition, you should focus on strategies that encourage both your existing and prospective customers to spend more money on your ecommerce site.
The average order value is a metric you should be tracking.
Regardless of your current AOV, I'm confident you can improve that number.
Not sure where to start? Use this guide as a reference.
If you implement the strategies I've outlined above, you'll notice a significant boost in your ecommerce average order value.
What steps is your ecommerce shop taking to increase your AOV?
Explore Pinterest's targeting capabilities and options that will help you increase your reach, find your best customers and increase the performance of your campaigns.
Read more at PPCHero.com
The post From Basic to Advanced, the B2B Influencer Marketing Software You Need to Succeed appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.
Targeted Laser SEO provides SEO for surgeons, lawyers, and medical entrepeneurs, medspas, and spas. With an emphasis on local SEO and affordable SEO service packages for our clients, we are able to combine cutting-edge and innovative strategies to help our clients get ranked online in the most advantageous positions.