Gate Customer Newsletter
Issue: November 2014

Four Tips For Creating a Successful E-commerce Website

When it comes to creating a website that will not only attract customers, but also keep them coming back for more, e-commerce company owners may be at a loss. It can be difficult to distinguish the essentials of a lucrative e-commerce platform from the items that are merely bells and whistles. Let’s take a look at the top tips offered by experts on how to establish a website that will position your e-commerce brand for success.

Ensure your website’s navigability

This may seem like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised by the number of e-commerce firms that don’t factor website navigation into their considerations. If a product is directly featured on the homepage or otherwise easily accessible, customers need a way to find the item they are seeking in a streamlined fashion. If a shopper can’t find what they’re looking for on your website, they’ll just go elsewhere. SumAll contributor Brian Honigman noted that navigability should extend not only to an easily discoverable search bar, but also to the inclusion of overarching product categories and sub-categories as well.

Presenting and describing products: It’s all in the details

Another main consideration to keep in mind with any e-commerce website is the fact that shoppers can’t get a full sense of the product they will potentially buy without all the necessary details. Clients can’t physically view or pick up the item, so they are counting on the information on the website to help them understand what they will be getting. Designer Daily advised using quality photos with more than one angle of each product to better showcase each item. In addition, anything that can’t be gleaned from the images – and even details that can – should be included in the product description. This section should provide answers to any and all questions customers would have if they were in a physical store. Don’t let your customers doubt; otherwise, they’ll go to another website,” Designer Daily stated.

Provide clear contact information, address inquiries quickly

When shoppers are considering a purchase, or have already made one, and want to reach out to your company, they shouldn’t have to jump through hoops to do so. Every e-commerce website should include clear, easy-to-find information that provides a range of avenues for clients to contact you, suggested iThemes contributor Kristen Wright. While some customers prefer a direct phone call, others may want to send an email or post to the organization’s social media outlets. Make it simple for them to do so.

Additionally, when consumers do contact your business, their questions or concerns should be addressed as quickly as possible to ensure maximum customer satisfaction. If you find that your company receives the same question from several clients, consider adding a FAQs page that is easily accessible from the contact information page.

Make checkout easy

Wright also noted that the process customers go through to make their purchases should be streamlined and as short as possible. Only the most essential information should be collected and the shopping cart page should be clear and concise. In addition, this page should also include all the essentials clients will want to know – what the shipping cost is, the total cost of the purchase and an estimated delivery date. As with product descriptions, consumers shouldn’t have to guess about any aspect of their transaction.

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In This Issue
Four Tips For Creating a Successful E-commerce Website
Best Practices for Merry Marketing Campaigns
A Checklist for Ensuring Email Newsletter Success
Connect with Us on Social Media
Newsletter Broadcast
Do-It-Yourself Web Presence

October 27, 2014
Social Customer Service: The Front Line of Your Brand Reputation

October 24, 2014
Can Pinterest Make Your Small Business Bigger?

October 27, 2014
7 Marketing Tips To Increase Leads Through Your Blog

Best Practices for Merry Marketing Campaigns

While consumers look forward to decorating, gathering with loved ones and purchasing gifts for their friends and family, retailers have other things on their mind. As the holiday season draws near, vendors should prepare marketing campaigns built to increase brand awareness during this critical time of year.

The holidays aren’t just a time for good tidings and cheer – the level of competition rises among merchants. For this reason, these companies must use their website and email to their advantage to ensure that consumers have their brand in mind this holiday season.

Top holiday offers and sales conversion days

According to SteelHouse, organizations find success by offering specialized promotions and see the highest conversion rates on certain days.

Researchers found that the top three holiday offers were free express shipping, buy-more-save-more promotions and post-holiday sales. Furthermore, these deals produced higher conversion rates on Nov. 28 and 30, Dec. 6 and 18. However, the highest general conversion rates came, not surprisingly, on Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

Holiday email marketing campaigns

Email marketing campaigns also help the brand message reach consumers.

E-commerce predictive analytics software provider Custora suggested that the brand should begin subtly and not seek to shout its message too soon in the season. Furthermore, when it comes to email marketing campaigns, visuals are very important. Custora pointed out that some organizations leverage attention-catching graphics or unconventional design styles to ensure that their message stands out.

Some campaigns also take innovative approaches, including encouraging shoppers to not only buy gifts for their friends and family, but themselves as well.

“During a season dedicated to buying gifts for others, a few retailers take a different angle,” Custora stated. “They appeal to consumers’ not-so-secret desire to treat themselves during a hectic and sometimes stressful time.”

Social media marketing campaigns

Reflect a consistent brand image by ensuring your social media campaign messaging matches your emails.

Public relations firm Eastwick noted that holiday activity on social media peaks from Nov. 15 through Jan. 7. These posts should be specifically tailored to suit the brand, while offering discounts and not excluding any particular consumer groups.

“Tactics will differ for every brand, but simply throwing ornaments and glitter on your Facebook or Twitter avatar won’t do the trick,” Eastwick noted.

Finally, it’s important to keep in mind that social media users are looking for advice and engagement, not advertisements. For this reason, companies should seek to highlight the holiday-specific benefits of their promotion or featured product instead of simply providing a call to action.

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A Checklist for Ensuring Email Newsletter Success

Email marketing is a tried-and-true method for driving sales and establishing quality connections with prospects and customers. A company newsletter bolsters brand awareness, locks in customer loyalty and fuels profitability. This is a great marketing vehicle that best-of-breed companies have been using for years to keep customers up-to-date with their brand and to continually keep their products and services top-of-mind between purchases.

Is your company’s eNewsletter as good as it can be? If you’re looking to make your eNewsletter campaign more impactful, be sure to have the following best practices checked off of your “To Do” list:

  • Monthly or Biweekly Delivery: Set a regular distribution schedule; however, keep in mind that eNewsletters pushed out any more frequently than monthly or biweekly get opened less. A monthly delivery schedule sets a nice pace that keeps your readers waiting for something new from your brand while at the same time not overloading them with content, which can feel like spam.
  • Information Pertinent to Your Industry: A newsletter requires a soft-sell approach. This is your chance to position yourself as an expert in the field – someone who wants to share valuable, need-to-know information with customers. This is not the place to openly tout your products and ask for the sale; rather, position yourself as a thought leader in your respective space and prove to your customers that they should be proud to buy from you. Your content should inspire your customers to print out your eNewsletter and highlight portions to remember and employ in their day-to-day activities.
  • Consistent Style and Tone: Each writer has his or her own voice, and that’s a good thing. But your eNewsletter should project one cohesive tone that flows smoothly from one story to the next; no matter the writer, your company’s unique expression should shine. To keep a unified voice and feel, appoint an editor to go through each outsourced story with a fine-toothed comb.
  • Special Promotions for eNewsletter Readers: Nothing encourages readership growth like a special promotion that can only be found in the company eNewsletter. In fact, seven in 10 people say they have made use of a discount or promotion from a marketing email, according to aggregated research from Salesforce. It’s a great way to keep customers reading from month to month, and a nice way to subtly encourage sales.
  • Professional Design for Your HTML Version: The design of your eNewsletter makes the biggest impression on the customer, second only to the subject line. A professional design enhances your image and gives your newsletter more credibility. If you can’t afford to hire a designer, find a template that fits your company’s personality.
  • Updated Subscriber List: Double-check to make sure that everyone who has unsubscribed to your eNewsletter in the past has been removed from your list; the last thing you want is to flood customers of yours with unwanted material they’ve already tried to escape. Also, make sure all new sign-ups are included – you don’t want to leave them out of the mix.

Other Quick Tips for Better eNewsletter Open Rates and Engagement

  • Identify your audience, and speak in terms most relevant to them. For example, will they prefer a formal or more conversational tone?
  • Make the subject line stand out. Find a one-liner that is appealing, short and to the point, and that proves the asset’s relevance to the reader (over one-third of email recipients open messages based on the subject line alone, also according to Salesforce).
  • Don’t make it all about you. Always ask yourself, “What’s the value that customers will get from opening and reading this?”.
  • Make your eNewsletter mobile-friendly. The research further shows that nearly 40 percent of marketers have no strategy for mobile email, yet chances are the majority of your customers are accessing email on some sort of smart device.
  • Include social icons linking to your company’s networks and pages. Your Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn pages should be prominently displayed at the top of your eNewsletter; avoid placing it toward the bottom as some readers may not scroll all the way through.

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