Roy's Blog: Marketing

October 24, 2018

5 easy ways to use Instagram to grow your business — guest post

If you have successfully set up an Instagram account for your business, then you are on the right track. However, setting up the account is the easier part, finding followers and converting them into customers is the hardest part. You must be looking for strategies and methods to grow your business with Instagram.
Worry not, we’ve got you covered with our 5 different ways to grow your ecommerce business with Instagram.

These tips will help you connect with your audience, build relations with influencers, and bring in more sales for your online business.

Create content your customers want

Make sure that you craft a niche for yourself and create content that resonates with your audience. If you have a fitness-related business, then your posts should be a mix of fitness tips, product showcase, motivational quotes, etc.

Instagram

It’s up to you to figure out what your audience likes and what they want to see. If there are any content themes or style that resonates with your audience, then you should cover that aspect. Once you figure out what works and what doesn’t, start posting images, videos, quotes, and promotional content that ties into your business and resonates with your target audience.
A great way to find out what your audience loves is by researching your competition. Check out what your competitors are posting and take that as inspiration for your content.
You can also take inspiration from popular websites and blogs in your industry. Always keep in mind that engagement is the REAL King. You need to populate your account with content that gets real engagement.

Actively engage with influencers in your industry

One of the easiest and fastest ways to go higher in Instagram ranks is to build and maintain relationships with Instagram influencers in your industry. These influencers already have a massive fan-following and getting your brand a mention (shout-out) from one of these influencers can give your Instagram profile and your overall brand image instant credibility.

Bloomingdales

Influencers get approached by popular brands and companies on a very consistent basis because their single post provides a lot of value to these brands. So, most of these influencers offer paid shoutouts while some of them do so organically for free.
You can start off by commenting on their photos, videos, and other posts. You can also tag them in your content, they will receive a notification every time you tag them in our posts. This way they will become familiar with you and your brand and will be more receptive to your offer.
You can also offer them free samples of your products so they can review them and mention them in their posts. This way your products will be in front of a large audience that trusts the particular influencer and value their word.
However, be very selective of who you connect with. Look for influencers that have a high engagement rate and are known to get their followers to take some action.

Use strong call to action on your profile

There are a lot of companies and brands that have started posting on Instagram. Sadly, their content lacks any goal. They never tell their audience where to go or what to do.
For this purpose, you need to always use (Call to Actions) in your content, on your bio, etc. The call to action should be clear and should direct your followers to your store or product page. You have nearly 150 characters to use in your Bio, so make a witty CTA that works best with your audience.
If you are selling physical items, then posting images and videos about your products should be your go-to strategy. However, what adds extra oomph to your content is when you add CTA in your comment section. Mention your item in the comments section, provide a link to the sales page and direct people to the page.

Make your product images shoppable by tagging them

We already talked about using Call to Action in your content and bio. Now, comes the advance CTA usage. Having your product images tagged is a great way to increase your overall sales.
Tagging your products in your Instagram images provides a very clear CTA and makes it very simple for your followers to purchase from you. Instagram has recently allowed business accounts (in select countries) to tag items in their content, similar to how you tag people.

Instagram1

The setup is quite simple. You can quickly transform your Instagram profile into a sales channel with just a couple of clicks.
Here are the steps to get you started:
— Create a “Shop” section on your Facebook Business page which is connected to your Instagram business account
— Add your products to the Facebook page. Wait for a notification from Instagram that says you can now start tagging products. It takes a few days for the approval.
— Now, Whenever you are posting an image on Instagram, click the “tag a product” option, and you should see a list of all your product from the Facebook shop. Tag each product accordingly.
Whenever a viewer clicks a product tag, they are taken to the product page to buy it.

Pay attention to analytics

Finally, you should keep a close eye on the analytics inside your Instagram account. This area provides you with very useful information and data that can be used to increase the engagement on your content.
You can also see when your followers are active on Instagram under the “Audience” tab. You can break this down to each hour and plan your future content according to the peak times.
Pay attention to the photos and content that gets the most likes and comments, this is what your target audience prefers. You can use this data to curate content that your audience loves and increase overall engagement.

Hopefully, these easy-to-follow tips will help you grow your business with Instagram. Feel free to let us know what other methods you use on Instagram to grow your business.

Saleem Ahrar is well-versed in knowledge about ecommerce strategies, digital marketing, and entrepreneurship. He spends his time testing new approaches, hacks, and tricks to help the e-commerce community.

  • Posted 10.24.18 at 03:55 am by Roy Osing
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October 17, 2018

7 smart marketing tactics to try this holiday season — guest post

The 2018 holiday season is just around the corner, which means marketers and business owners need to pick up the promotional pace. As per Shopify, in 2017 almost a quarter of US buyers did nearly half of their holiday shopping online. For maximizing the potential, you need to start preparing from now on, since your 2018 revenue goals largely depend on it.

Just a decade ago, people waited until Thanksgiving to begin their holiday shopping. However, by 2016, almost 40% of seasonal shoppers started before Halloween. This denotes that increasing brand awareness from the month of October and early November is essential for meeting your direct response goals. Top brands already have strategized for this pre-holiday ramp.

Holiday season

Keeping this aggressive timeline in mind, these are the core aspects of holiday marketing:
Be mobile ready
The utilization of mobiles is continuously rising, so your website needs to be optimized for the same. Be it video or carousel or display, your advertisements need to be tablet and smartphone-friendly.
In 2017, more than 30% of online shoppers used their mobile devices for holiday shopping.
In 2018 this figure is expected to increase. Many buyers browse products on their mobile, even though they do not take the final call on their phones.

Resort to creative sequencing
It involves displaying the exact message at the proper time, right up to the check-out point. This way customers receive messages in accordance with their position in the purchase cycle, be it just learning about a new brand or abandoning a shopping cart.
Highlight your most popular offerings and their key features, and continually check as to which creative is leading to the highest conversions.

Get into audience research
It is essential to study the psychology and buying patterns of your ideal buyers. Make use of resources like Facebook’s Audience Insights to learn demographics, locations and interests.
Who belongs to your loyalty programme? Who has visited your website in the past? What about the single-category shoppers? These are the ones that need attention.

Maintain a calendar
Be well organized by finalizing the dates and times your website needs to be updated, your email campaigns need to be deployed, and the beginning and ending of your promotions. Your calendar should also cover all the ad channels you are using.
To stay abreast with the competition you’ll have to be very aggressive with your online advertising bidding strategies. Top search terms on Google and prime audiences on Facebook will be additionally competitive.

Calendar

Create a sense of urgency
Urgency and anticipation are the best triggers as far as impulsive buying is concerned. Promotional and pre-sale ad teasers are an implication of scarcity with limited supply mentions and countdown timers.
By launching limited-time promotions (especially on Cyber Monday and Black Friday), levying shipping deadlines, and inculcating compelling calls to action, you’re making customers eager to buy at the very moment.

Formulate your budget
While you chalk out your fourth-quarter budget, leave ample resources for around-the-clock campaigns, massive scheduling of customer service associates, free shipping deals and the big impact days like Black Friday.

Measure
Anticipate how you will measure the conversions and sales. Your metrics will vary in accordance with your goals; however, you’ll discover that A/B tests facilitate the assessing of the impact driven by your creative.
Be sure to also explore the available tools; analytics conjoined to your e-commerce platform, Pinterest ads, Google AdWords and Facebook ads should also be taken into consideration.

The more you are aware, the better prepared you’ll be for implementing a successful digital marketing campaign and garnering record-breaking seasonal sales.

Finishing touches

Finishing touches

There are of course a few finishing touches that need to be given to your holiday campaigns. For instance, ensure that your return policy and payment options are in place. Most retailers loosen their return and exchange policies over the holiday season, which is worthwhile as their potential impact on sale can be balanced with anticipated customer satisfaction and rate of retention.

This is a good time to make your purchasing process all the more accessible. Adding Amazon Pay and PayPal as payment methods can boost conversions. Affirm can be used for financing bigger purchases.

Contingency plans

Contingency plans too need to be in order. If your e-commerce venture is not hosted on Shopify, be sure that your website can manage heavy incoming traffic in a short duration. What about the brick-and-mortar site? Is your shipping company able enough? Courteous and prompt service is necessary, so nullify the chances of any disappointment by gearing up for all the challenges.

Monitoring competitor activities is another important criteria. Visit their websites, get on their email lists, and look for publications that highlight competition. You’re likely to catch some great ideas along the way.

Decorating the boxes with custom labels can add an element of surprise and will help in customer retention.

What next?
Undoubtedly, November and December are going to keep you super busy. Be well prepared to work on Thanksgiving and the following weekend for 24 hours a day. Be ready to tackle employees who wish to take time off for loved ones.

Outsourcing

It is challenging to manage a complex and time-consuming advertising initiative over and above your primary business responsibilities. It would be best to outsource to professionals who are experts in handling round-the-clock, high value seasonal promotions, rather than losing out on primary revenue, in the event of mismanagement of primary business activities.
If outsourcing is not your cup of tea, there are lots of online resources like Facebook Blue Print training and the Shopify Blog that will guide you properly.

So gear up now, without wasting time, and position your enterprise for optimal fourth-quarter success with the help of early planning and vital strategizing.

Smith Willas is a freelance writer, blogger, and digital media journalist. He has a management degree in Supply Chain & Operations Management and Marketing and boasts a wide-ranging background in digital media.

  • Posted 10.17.18 at 04:14 am by Roy Osing
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July 26, 2018

This is what the future of eCommerce holds — guest post

It’s amazing to think that Amazon is almost a quarter of a century old. But what’s even more amazing is that there are now around 2 to 3 million eCommerce stores open for business. And this isn’t even counting China. That’s a lot, but the good news is that if you can stay ahead of the curve, you can thrive.

The fact is that customers worldwide have gone gaga for online shopping. At the same time, technology has changed enormously over the past few years. Together, customers and technology are driving eCommerce in a new direction. This is great in one sense - but only if you follow this new direction.

New direction

What does this direction look like and how can you keep up? Let’s take a look at the future of eCommerce simplified.

Omni-channel shopping will dominate

More and more of us are shopping online than ever before, but the truth of the matter is that brick and mortar retail isn’t dying out. eCommerce is growing, but as Forbes points out, it still makes up just 10% of retail.

The retail climate has changed, but what we’re seeing are customers who want the best of both worlds. They want to browse online and even buy online; but they also want to order online and pick up in store.

They also want to be able to walk into physical stores and jump on their mobile devices to compare prices with other stores there and then.

In other words, they want an omni-channel shopping experience. Customers now have no problem with using numerous devices to achieve an end goal.
When their favorite brands are able to provide a seamless omnichannel experience, their loyalty towards that brand grows. As Steven P Dennis expertly writes, “the more customers become omnichannel in their behavior, the better a brand’s economics become.”

Voice search will become popular

Voice search is growing in popularity and eCommerce store owners will need to adapt. Most people across most age demographics haven’t tried voice search yet - but are interested. Moreover, 40% of millennials have started using voice search.

For eCommerce store owners, this means a rethinking of their content marketing strategy so that they remain visible on Google. Most voice searches are questions. For example, instead of querying “black leather jacket for a man”, a user might ask “where can I find a cheap leather jacket for a guy near me?”

According to SEOClarity, eCommerce store owners will need to start thinking about how best to incorporate trigger words into their content, such as “best”, “what” and “how”.

eCommerce store owners will also need to add more natural language to their content, and they’ll need to answer more questions related to particular topics with in-depth answers, so that Google might rank them on position zero.

Voice search

Branding — such as logos — will become more prominent

There are around 3 million eCommerce stores in existence, but 8 out of 10 of them will fail. One of the reasons for this is the dominance of Amazon.

Another key reason is that a lot of eCommerce companies don’t have a recognizable brand. Lots of them sell on Amazon but nowhere else, and this prevents them from building a relationship with their customers.
In 2018, millennials are dominating the economy and they want to be immersed in a proper marketing campaign. The best way eCommerce stores can do this is by building brands that customers recognize, and which they see their own values recognized in.

There are many aspects to building a brand, from colors to fonts to web design to tone of voice to logos. None of it has to cost a company much money. For example, Shopify have a logo maker that allows even novice designers to create awesome logos in a matter of minutes.

New markets will open

When we think of eCommerce, it’s easy to focus on the big hitters, like America and China. But as Business Insider points out, the likes of Latin America, Southeast Asia and India are emerging eCommerce markets that retailers have already started targeting.

Meanwhile, LatAm has written a whole piece about the “red hot potential” of Chile as an eCommerce market, while countries like Indonesia are showing huge potential. The Indonesian government is more open to foreign investment than ever, and its number of internet users is rocketing. Brazil is another market to watch in the years to come.

eCommerce stores will have to be different

With so many stores offering the exact same product to the consumer, there will soon come a time when the winners will break away from the pack … while the losers will be left counting their losses and closing their doors because they weren’t creative or smart enough to be different.

If you sell the exact same product as a competitor, what’s going to set you apart? Why would customers come to you and stay loyal? Here are some ideas:

1) Define your unique selling propositionwhat makes your product or business unique? What approach or angle do you have that no one else has?
Maybe you sell chocolate bars that are entirely produced in-house, for example, or maybe your company is super green-focused.

Be different

2) Leverage product quality —make your the product the very best of this type and then leverage it. For example, make sure the quality of your product is the first thing customers are aware of when they visit your website.
Shout it from the rooftops that your products are guaranteed to last longer than your rivals.
The Casper Mattress is a great example of this. Here’s their tagline: “Why lie awake on a mattress for 10 minutes when you can try one for 100 days?”

3) Nail your branding — the harder you work on your branding to express your value proposition, the more it will resonate with the right people and the more you will stand out in a competitive marketplace.

4) Implement a loyalty program — as customers become ever more selective about who they shop with, you need to start thinking about how you can give something back.
Loyalty programs that are different than others work because they reward customers for shopping with you and generate positive feelings for your store and brand.

Conclusion

The future of eCommerce is bright but it is changing. This means that store owners need to stay abreast of the latest trends so that they don’t get left behind.

Follow the customer, be different, work on your brand, implement voice search and keep an eye on emerging markets.

Michelle Deery creates copy and content at Heroic Search in Tulsa. She specializes in writing about eCommerce and content marketing. Her advice has been featured by Crazy Egg and Entrepreneur. See what she is up to on Twitter @MichWriting

  • Posted 7.26.18 at 04:51 am by Roy Osing
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July 9, 2018

Marketers: why bundling sucks like a dirty martini

Many like a dirty martini; I don’t.

I love martinis but please keep them clean and uncontaminated by dirty fluids that violate the clear pristine gin and vermouth mixture. I don’t mind if you put 4 symmetrically organized olives on a skewer in it because they are gone before any real contamination can occur — I love olives but hate the juice.

I feel the same way about bundling and the way it is practised in the marketing world today.

Bundling is commonly used by most organizations — add a number of products together and give the customer a discount.
Combine two products and get 10% off the total price for both; take 3 products and the discount goes up to 15%. The more you buy, the more you save. A pretty simple idea.

To me, however, bundling practised in this manner is like a mixing a dirty martini.

It contaminates and dilutes the basic marketing tenet that says price should be a direct function of value; the greater the value, the higher the price.
And, conversely, the lower the value, the lower the price.

Dirty water

I’m not aware of any marketing principle that advocates increasing the value of an offering and then reducing the price.
Even if economies of scale and scope were in play, the right thing to do would be to maintain price levels and reflect the benefits of the lower costs in increased margins.

But rarely does merely selling two products together materially drive cost down; bundling isn’t physical integration.
Combine long distance service and internet service on a customer’s bill, and the telecom company doesn’t realize any measurable cost savings as a result of the combination yet the customer gets a discount for signing up to two communications products.

It’s an illusion

And it’s a pipe dream to believe that lower bundle prices stimulate long term demand and increase revenues. Combined billing for long distance plus internet service doesn’t stimulate usage of either.
I’ve had home phone, long distance, internet and TV services bundled together for years, but still treat each one separate and distinct from a consumption point of view — my usage hasn’t changed for any one of them.

The customer loves getting the discounts but no real value is created for the organization. In my former CMO days, I was skeptical to the point of a non-believer of bundling activity — I viewed it as lazy marketing and slight of hand.

Bundling drives marketing creativity to zero

It’s a no brainer — it doesn’t take a marketing graduate — to add and bill two services together and apply a discount.
What talent does it take to do that? What value proposition does the addition produce other than a lower price?
When long distance and internet service are sold together, what unique communications value is created by the synergy between the two services other than a price discount? Right. Nada.

Marketing professionals should be motivated to create new packaged solutions that seamlessly integrate a number of product elements and apply premium — not discounted — prices that reflect the added value created by the package.

Bundling ignores basic pricing principles

The function of price is to value the exchange between an individual and an organization that satisfies each party to the transaction. A successful value exchange leaves the customer happy with the money they have spent for the benefits they have received ; the company is better off because they realize an acceptable margin.
It’s easy to offer volume discounts but it completely ignores the impact it has on profitability. You can’t sell a martini if it doesn’t make money.
Do you really think a discount should be offered if you buy two drinks? Never seen a two-fer on martinis.

Twofer

Bundling gains no competitive advantage

All marketing teams think by offering bundles they create customer loyalty; that by offering reduced prices for volume, customers will decide to stay with the organization forever.
Not true. People are fickle when it comes to price and will go wherever the lowest price is offered.
The reality is that most competitors offer bundles and therefore competitive advantage is conferred on no one. All the banks use bundling, all the telecom companies offer them — every sector is represented in the bundling dysfunction.

Bundling gives customers the wrong message

Increase the number of products provided and get a price savings is exactly the wrong message that should be given to the market.
In life the more value you receive the higher price you expect to pay. In martinis, the better the gin, the higher price for the martini — bar stock gin is sold at a lower price than Brockmans.

Bundling screws them over

Customers deserve more value that satisfies their overall wants and desires and we should be doing it at prices that reflect the value they perceive they’re receiving.
This preoccupation with discount bundling is a distraction to the marketing profession from what they should be practising.
Bundling is a red herring; it’s olive juice that screws up a perfectly good martini.

What people really want are integrated packages that satisfy a broad range of what they covet. Packages that reflect their lifestyle, for example, that might seamlessly integrate elements like a vacation, meal, wine, snuba and a car rental or if it’s a business, elements like sales training, CRM apps and logistics assistance.

Bundling is marketing’s dirty martini; it muddies the waters of good marketing.

Let’s get back to the basics — create more value for customers and charge premium prices that reflect it.

Cheers,
Roy

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  • Posted 7.9.18 at 03:43 am by Roy Osing
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