The success of eCommerce is largely a function of the company’s ability to integrate its online and offline efforts and provide the very best experience for its customers. The seamless integration of the various components of the enterprise’s operations is also dependent on the efficacy of the software platform it utilizes. These eCommerce software programs or solutions as they are known make it possible to create a seamless operation of the entire operations of the enterprise. There are a number of such solutions in the market but then their levels of effectiveness in different areas vary. Each therefore has aspects in which it is strong while there are areas in which it might have some weakness. Important areas include flexibility in design, database assistance, additional programming needs as well as product/shopping cart integration. We will examine some of these eCommerce solutions as well as their upsides and downsides.
1. 2CheckOut: Operating out of Columbus Ohio, this resource can be located online at www.2checkout.com. This resource presents a good alternative to PayPal. Its ease of use makes it very for beginners to make use of it although it may not be realistic to use it for thousands of products. Although it has higher fees than PayPal and less suited for an experienced web designer as it cannot be customized, it is still very ideal for beginners in eCommerce. (more…)
Online customer service is simply the internet based equivalent of the traditional customer service which takes place face to face or on the phone. The direction of traffic to online channels by enterprises as well as the immense growth in eCommerce has increased the load on online customer services. These days, customers are judging an enterprise’s efficacy in its online customer service primarily on three parameters:
i. The ease with which they get through their experience on the website
ii. The extent to which the site was able to satisfy their queries
iii. The ability of the site to provide the expected experience.
Customers now have far more choices than before and with that expansion comes the ability to switch from one provider to another on a whim. Bizrate.com, a rating site estimates that about 55% of shoppers simply abandon their shopping cart without entering into the actual purchasing process. Those that abandoned their purchase at the point of sale are estimated to be 32% and the major reason for these actions by customers is attributed to poor customer service. What amounts to poor customer service online includes inability to locate the product or information they are looking for or difficulty in getting round the purchase process. Sadly, when customers leave, they generally inform other people and if the old business saying is anything to go by, then the irate customer would tell about ten people. Unfortunately, the internet provides the forum for customers to leave comments and the number of people who will get to read the negative comments is simply best avoided.
There are however, some simple actions that can be taken in order to get a positive result from your online customer service.
i. Sales Process Automation: There are now a lot of automation software that operate both onsite and as installed programs. They send out mails as scheduled and these could be used to order confirmations as well as other notifications. Announcements of any promotions could also be done through this means.
ii. Ease of Contact: Apart from providing a reassurance to the customers about your authenticity, provision of contact information also makes it possible for customers to contact you easily. The contact information should be placed in a very noticeable position on your site so that the customers cannot miss it. Relevant information regarding who to contact for specific information or complaints will also serve to facilitate this contact with between the customer and the company.
iii. Email Segmentation and Personalization: The Click-Through Rates for personalized emails are almost double those of the non-personalized types but then only a mere 4% of marketers bother to personalize their email messages according to online research firm, Jupiter Research. It is therefore important that enterprises gather data regarding their customers to help them interact with them in a personalized manner.
iv. Provide a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) Page: This should provide comprehensive answers to the kind of questions that people ask the most. This reduces the amount of queries that would have been directed to the customer service and saves valuable time. According to a study conducted by a research firm, Perolus Group, 42% of retail websites typically take as long as four to five days to respond to customers’ queries.
The internet has come a long way since its early days when almost anything could be accommodated by the internet due to lack of choice. These days, the choices have simply exploded and now users have to have an incentive to visit a site. It is no longer sufficient that the site exists but from concept to content, a site must demonstrate sufficient value for the users to visit, remain or even return. It is has therefore become imperative for businesses to incorporate the very latest trends in web design in order to provide enough incentive for internet users to stay on their sites.
1. Online Videos: Pictures have for long been used to produce graphic representations for the internet users. Although the pictures have been quite effective, videos have proven to be far more effective. Whatever a picture can say, a video can say far more. Apart from being more graphic, videos actually speak and provide far more information in far less time. The advent of video sharing sites has made it possible for site owners to create and upload promotional videos to the site and drive traffic to their site from there. Additionally, video editing software are easily obtainable and easy to use. For the SEO purposes, Google now indexes videos while Youtube has added close captioning and transcripts for their videos. This has had a very positive effect on video optimization.
2. Interactive Designs: The ability of a user to interact with the site is a big plus. It helps the user stay on the site and get a positive experience. Interactive elements are normally created using flash or jQuery. Flash has been around much longer and website designers are more familiar with it although jQuery works just as well. In all, any package that is chosen, if well implemented, is likely to provide users with an engaging experience.
3. Typography: The font type used on a site is very important and even with this the use of non-system font types was difficult previously. These days however, it has become possible to use non-system even with the cross browser compatibility issues. Now, website designers can make use of font replacement methods in order to create great looking fonts. These replacement methods include Cufon, Typekit and @fontface.
4. Mobile Websites: There has been a gradual shift from desktop internet surfing to mobile browsing. People now take the internet with them in their hands. It has become imperative for upwardly mobile websites to have that mobile capability. New devices like the Google Android phone and the iPhone have gained widespread popularity which is still increasing. Mobile e-marketing, text messaging as well as location based marketing are just a few things that will continue to dominate the market for a long time.
5. Podcasting: This is the audio version of online videos. These are easily recordable and allow the users to hear a recording of an interview or production description or even a promotional message. It can be incorporated with the RSS feed thus making it easier for users to follow.
Online customer service has become very popular these days with the emphasis on internet enabled services. Enterprises are trying to ensure that they can attend more to their customers without having to go through the normal channels. However, even with this migration to the internet, a lot of challenges are still presented that pose bigger problems for businesses. Generally, customers tend to rate their experience in terms of the following:
i. The ease with which they get through their experience on the website
ii. The extent to which the site was able to satisfy their queries
iii. The ability of the site to provide the expected experience.
There are some basic solutions that online customer services make use of in order to deliver excellent customer service via the internet. These include the following: (more…)
At first look, there does not seem to be much connection between the design of your website and the marketability of your business. The fact however is that there is a connection in the sense that a lot of the marketing depends on the professionalism with which the website is designed. This boils down to the fact that considerable effort needs to be invested in ensuring that the necessary things need to be done in terms of the incorporating current trends in the trade while designing your website.
Inasmuch as there is the need to follow current trend, there are still some basic factors that have to be considered without which the current trends will make little impact. They are as follows: (more…)
The term ‘web analytics’ refers to the collation, measurement, analysis and reporting of internet data. The objective of web analytics is to understand and optimize the usage of the web. Its use is not restricted to the measurement of internet traffic to a website but can also be used to carry out market and business research. Additionally, it can be integrated with a marketing campaign so as to understand the effects of the traditional means of advertising on the traffic to the company’s website. The fact however is that web analytics have become an imperative for the success of any online enterprise especially a small business as it gives the small business owner the opportunity to determine the response rates to the website’s online investments.
In carrying out web analytics, there are certain terms that are used widely, representing specific metrics. These include among others:
- Hit: This refers to a request made on a web server for a file
- Page View: A request made on a web server for a particular file representing a page on the site.
- Visit/Session: While a visit is defined as a number of requests from a unique visitor for a page with a time lapse between each request of not more than 30 minutes, a session takes place when the unique visitor does not depart from that site to another within that same time frame of 30 minutes.
- First Visit/First Session: This occurs when a website has a visit from a visitor who has not been to that site before.
In carrying out web analytics for your small business, it is important to take the following steps:
- Collate Data: The first thing that you must do is to collect sufficient data and you can easily do this using any of the web analytics tools like Google Analytics. These data include among others, web logs, form to email requests and CGI requests.
- Convert the Data: You will also have to convert the data generated by the web analytics tool to a format that you can easily work with. Luckily, most web analytics tools do most of the work for you.
- Data Analysis: Bearing in mind that web analytics helps you discover trends, you need to analyze your data by looking for the following:
- If there is a specific timeframe for some visits
- The most popular pages on the site
- Whether visitors browse more than a page before departing the site
- The average time used by your visitors on the site
- The source of traffic, if they come from search engines
- The primary exit pages for your site
- The sites linking to yours.
- Integrate The Insights Obtained: Now that you have gotten answers to these questions, you have to integrate the answers into your efforts by remedying any deficiencies.
- Watch The Difference: The purpose of the changes you are making is to create a better impression with your visitors. See how that works.
- Re-evaluation: Web analytics is not a one-off activity. Once you have implemented the necessary changes, you need to embark on re-evaluation to ensure that all is right.
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Web logs, abbreviated as ‘blogs’ have become quite ubiquitous and an integral part of internet marketing. Although they are not necessarily for internet marketing, they have been adapted as a form of communication between a target audience and an enterprise. In recent times, there has been an explosion in the number of blogs and bloggers particularly with the free blogging platform provided by Google and WordPress. The sheer number has also made it necessary to employ strategies to promote your blog if it is to become prominent enough to meet the objectives for which you set it up, whether commercial or otherwise. Of course, give the fact that there are already many bloggers out there in what has come to be referred to as the ‘blogosphere’, you will need some innovative or unique blogging strategies in order to make your mark in blogging. Here are five of such strategies:
i. Content Strategy Development: A lot of factors come into play in determining what the frequency and topics of your postings on your blog. The objectives however, are always to engage your readers, convince them of your position as an expert in the field as well as promote your ideas. The content you will develop must therefore be able to accomplish these objectives.
ii. Propagate Your Idea: Remember, in starting a blog, you are aiming to engage people in discussion. If you really want to get people talking about your idea, you must simply propagate it. You must talk about it in other places other than your blog. Forums and social media networks are also places where you could spread your idea. That way, traffic to your blog starts building and others start talking about it.
iii. Build Authority: People want to talk with experts. If you do not display authority on the very issue about which you are blogging, your visitors will soon drift away. Authority demands attention and gets it. One of the greatest strategies that you can use in succeeding with your blogging is to establish and continually display your authority and not just that but also give your visitors or blog followers the benefit of other people whom you regard having authority in that field. This will serve to portray you as being selfless.
iv. Teach Something New: Including a ‘How To’ post once a while help you add value to the time your blog followers spend with you. People are always on the lookout for something that will help them achieve their own goals in life. Helping them do to that will enhance your relationship and the success of your blog.
v. Pose Questions: One of the most important things about a blog is that it is meant to get people talking. One sure way to achieve that is by asking questions. When you ask questions, people tend to contribute as well as read answers provided by other followers. Ultimately, this creates a kind of engaging atmosphere which happens to be a key blogging objective.
Ecommerce is the trend in the world today as enterprises try to make forays into domains that were hitherto inaccessible except with the huge financial investments. Today, small enterprises, even home based businesses have the opportunity to compete with other business on a global level via the platform provided by the internet. The statistics for ecommerce is certainly encouraging and as the evolution of the internet continues, the opportunities also improve. The retail holiday sales in the US were estimated at $39 billion as at 2007 while 70% of leisure travelers made some of their personal travel booking online. The figures for car shoppers online that started the process online stood at 53% while about 42% of the online shoppers said they use comparison engines online before making a purchase decision. The foregoing statistics go a long way in showing that ecommerce is growing and the competition will be won largely by businesses that take a lot of technical and business details into consideration. In all, there are a number of mistakes that must be avoided if you are to succeed in your ecommerce efforts. (more…)
The emphasis in the early days of the internet was on the enterprise but today, that emphasis has shifted to the customer. It has become very obvious to many enterprises that the internet is the most potent platform for making a connection with their prospects and customers. If the right connection or impression is not made during the first visit, the ability to market to that person becomes difficult. Sometimes, the initiative is lost at that very moment and may never be regained; worse still, word could spread on the internet about that one bad experience which could negatively impact the enterprise.
Web 2.0 designs are in tandem with the current trends on the internet. These current trends greatly enhance the quality of interaction between an enterprise and the visitors to its site. This will in turn increase the marketability of the site. Five of such marketing trends include the following: (more…)
Web logs, popularly known as blogs evolved from being just a means of posting a comment on a webpage. Today, there is talk of the ‘blogosphere’ which obviously is expressive of the kind height and coverage that blogs have today. The importance of this kind of clout to enterprises is that it provides yet another opportunity to connect with it target market. Thus blogs have become a potent marketing tool for companies. The downside to this sphere is that given its over 54 million (and expanding) population, companies are not just having to introduce or reintroduce their brands, they are also having to monitor its perception in the blogosphere. This is very necessary if the brand is to avoid any negative tagging which could immediately its offline activities. In all, blogging ought to be a very important part of any company’s marketing strategy. Here are some reasons why: (more…)
It is very difficult to ignore Google today in whatever you are doing particularly in online business. The task of marketing your business has received a great deal of enhancement through Google’s innovations. As the online business scenario evolves, Google has continually added various web-based tools that have a positive effect on the efficacy of online business marketing. Here are five of those tools: (more…)
The term Web 2.0 is used to describe the current internet trend and the way it affects the various facets of professional and business endeavors. Marketing is not exempt from the effects of the Web 2.0 and on the internet, it has become very crucial to success to ensure that the design of your apparatus ranging from websites to landing page and blogs as well as social media pages comply with the demands of the Web 2.0 environment.
The options open to people as they used the internet to search for and get information about products and services was seriously limited during the early stages of the internet. The trend today is vastly different as people now take note of many features as they visit websites. These features make it possible and then easier to hold the attention of the visitors and then, if it is an ecommerce site, makes is far easier to convert prospects. (more…)
The marketing profession has undergone nothing short of a revolution since the advent of the internet. Several channels have evolved over time and rapid changes have been registered as professionals act as fast as possible to grasp these changes and then build the practice so as to take the maximum possible advantage. All this is done while making projection in to the future to predict ‘the next big thing’ in getting products and services to the consumers as well creating a favorable impression. (more…)