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Are you Mobile for 2014?

In today’s society people are always on the go, but having the technology at hand allows them to access the internet by their mobile device. The ability to access the internet with their mobile device has create a new platform for marketers and retail stores to accustom to. It is crucial for your retail store to have your website become mobile device friendly. Did you know that 46% of all online sales come from a mobile device? If your company is not mobile device friendly in 2014 you, could potentially be missing out on almost half of your online sales.

Customers reaching out to your website through their mobile device want to be able to access and navigate your mobile friendly site with ease. Therefore, it is important for your website to display only the necessary information that you want them to see that they can view on their mobile device. Doing this directs the customers to the products or categories that you want to sell the most. On top of having an easily navigable mobile device site, you must incorporate a simple check out system so your customers can buy their products in a minimal amount of time.

Other than making your website mobile device compatible, you must consider other areas where you solicit your company such as email and newsletters. In 2013 65% of all email and newsletters were opened through a mobile device and has been predicted to increase in 2014. Therefore when sending out company newsletters with your coupons, deals, or anything else you must consider making them mobile friendly as well. This way you can get a higher opening percent rate and potentially drive more customers to your online or into your store.

Following those simple guidelines your company could see an increase in sale during 2014.

Brick and Mortar Tips for Online Stores: Part 6

To wrap up or blog series on utilizing the values of brick and mortar retail in your online store, we are going to cover that basics of marketing your site the same way you would if you owned a storefront. Many people assume that they can simply purchase a website, get it online and then the customer will just flock there and start buying. These assumptions can lead people to failure when they do not properly market their sites or put time and money into hiring professionals to do so.

To build a successful website, marketing should be divided into two main groups. There is user-specific marketing to customers, which includes social media, e-mail marketing and original content on your site. This is important because it will build your credibility within the eyes of your customers and ensure return shopping. Marketing this way is building the image you will portray to your customers and potential shoppers. User-specific marketing has the main goal of being interactive and informative for your customers. It should include any information pages that a customer would use on your site, video clips, product reviews and any other unique content that makes the user experience on your site easier.

Then, there is the SEO/PPC marketing aspect. This marketing is in place to boost your search engine results, whether they are organic or paid. User-specific marketing is the trend in the industry right now and search engines seem to favor original content, however, to properly market your website your strategy needs to encompass both of these tactics. You want to develop a strong brand with your customers but you also need to be doing SEO and PPC marketing to reach out to new clients.

Brick and Mortar Tips for Online Stores: Part 4

To continue with our current series on translating the values that make brick and mortar stores successful to the online arena, today we’re going to cover bounce-backs and ways to market to the customers who have already shopped with you.

In the retail world, there are several ways that stores market to their existing client base. One trick that shops use frequently is the bounce-back. This is a coupon or flier inserted right into your shopping bag after you’ve made a purchase. A bounce-back can also be a coupon or promotion printed at the bottom of a receipt that a customer receives after purchasing in the store.

The idea of a bounce-back is to get the customer to come back in a timely fashion and shop again. It can be a reminder of a holiday coming up or a promotional offer – either way, it should compel the consumer to spend more at your site.

You can create this same effect through your e-commerce site even though it is not a face-to-face transaction with the consumer. One way to do this is to send an email newsletter to all of the clients who purchased on your site within the last month. This way, you are engaging those recent customers and building a strong brand identity. If you are shipping the product and not a warehouse, you can also include a coupon in the box so that when the package arrives, the customer has incentive to shop again.

Brick and Mortar Tips for Online Stores: Part 2

To continue with our series on applying brick and mortar ideas to your online store, this segment will cover how you can implement tools to make your online shoppers feel as though they have the same customer service that they would at your shop.

When you go to a retail store, one of the first things that will happen is a sales associate will greet you (hopefully in a friendly manner) and ask you what you are looking for or if you need help finding a specific item. The associate might also tell the customer what specials are going on or what products are currently on sale.

You can do several different things to achieve this same effect online, utilizing multiple features to recreate some of the convenience of having a sales associate to reference.

To assume the role of greeter for your web store, you can use bright banner images on your landing page to greet your customers. This will need to be friendly, informative and aesthetically interesting to engage your customers and get them to look further into your shop. Think about what you do when you visit a site for the first time. Do you give the site a chance to load fully and display all of its images? Do you read the full page before deciding to navigate further? Normally, you are going to have less than 10 seconds to get a customer hooked on your page. The landing page will serve as a greeter and hopefully will achieve this for your web store.

In addition to having great content on your landing page, having a chat feature is another wonderful way to engage your customers. A chat feature allows customer to interact with your support staff in an anonymous way (if they choose) that often times gives them a sense of security. It can help your customers who may have anxieties about talking on the phone with a sales rep as it is a digital interface.

Another tip to creating a great service element is having a properly functioning search bar. If a customer can search for a certain product within your site, it is a great tool for them in navigation. It’s almost like having a salesperson there who you can ask what isle you’ll find the product in. This feature should be user-friendly, adapting to misspellings and other factors of human error. Maybe you don’t carry a certain product online but you carry it in store. This tool should be used in the same way a sales person would be. If a customer asks for something that doesn’t exist in your store, can you offer suggestions like a salesperson would?

These simple steps, although they’ll probably take some programming work from your developers, will ensure that you don’t lose sight of customer service on your ecommerce site.

Responding to Negative Criticism on Social Media Pages


When you start any social media page, you are opening yourself up to two-way communication between yourself and your audience. The public has the ability to share comments about your business with friends and others in that network. Eventually, no matter how hard you try to please everyone, there will be that one person who is incessant on posting negative things on your page. Don’t worry, this is not the end of the world. In fact, depending on how you handle this situation, you can turn a cranky customer into a lifelong shopper.

One thing that we see on corporate sites all the time is the bland, generic answer that is almost like the computer is talking, not a customer service or PR rep. Do not respond with a cookie cutter answer that is impersonal and – to be honest – mildly offensive to the consumer. The last thing you want to do when a customer gets upset is coddle them with a generic response. Imagine if you went into a brick and mortar store, upset about service, and the salesperson or store manager simple pulled out a cue card from behind the register and began reading a scripted prompt, asking you to call an 800 number or email the corporate offices. It would be a slap in the face.

If you are a professional in the public relations or internet marketing field and you are managing social media pages, you should be embarrassed if your company is responding this way. How hard is it to respond to the customer complaints on an individual level?

Doing this on Facebook or Twitter is especially damaging because now potential customers can track your conversations and decide if they like the way you handled the situation. In addition to that, the person who has complained can also share these comments with friends and respond to them in an unsavory manner. Don’t treat your customers this way. Send them personal messages and always assume that the customer is in the right – even if they aren’t. Responding with scripted answers makes your customers feel unimportant and will lose your company business.

Your Value Proposition

For those of you who don’t know, a value proposition should be the X factor that sets your business apart from others just like it, giving your customers a reason to shop with you. It is the mission statement of your marketing campaign. Maybe you pride yourself on exceptional customer service or perhaps you sponsor a local shelter. Whatever your business may be, it is integral to find a value proposition that will stand as a platform for your marketing success.

Developing a strong value proposition for your business is easy, but it should be treated with care. Put some effort into deciding what your value proposition should be. Look at your company from every angle and choose something that will give you a unique quality within your industry.

After you have decided what your value prop is going to be, spend a little time writing it into a concise and fluid plan. Take time to do like most writers do – edit, re-edit and then edit some more. This could be the strategy that your internet marketing adapts for the next few years. It needs to be thoughtful, honest and striking. Having a well-shaped value prop will not only increase your brand image and customer loyalty, it will give the best chance at maximizing any marketing efforts from there on out.

Advertising: The Difference between Social Media and Social Spending

It is agreed, unanimously by the marketing industry that it is important to develop social media pages. We have had many posts on branding and social media writing; however it is time to put a backbone in the newly formed organism that is your marketing strategy. It is well and good to post on your social media pages and to put time and effort into maintaining them. You should absolutely do this. But now that you’ve gotten used to being a Facebook or Twitter pro, it’s time to talk dollars and cents.

We all love that we can get free advertising through our networks of friends and followers, but there comes a time when you need to realize that a strong social presence needs to be accompanied by a strong ad presence on the web. If you aren’t using pay-per-click marketing tools, such as Google AdWords, its time. Brands spend thousands and millions of dollars on web marketing, knowing that you can’t rely solely on a social media presence to bring you sales. It’s all part of a cohesive marketing strategy and money needs to be put into online ads.

Consider how much you spend on a phonebook ad or a billboard. Those are both local, limited ad spaces, while the internet is infinite. Your marketing strategy should already have a budget in place for internet marketing alone, and if you haven’t given this any thought than it is past time to do so. There is a great opportunity to expand your brand, especially if you don’t have a brick and mortar location, through online marketing and advertising.

Father’s Day: Opportunity for Online Growth

Get your business ready for  Father’s Day spending.

With over 70 million dads in America, there are plenty of reasons to boost your site this Father’s Day and offer promotions that your customers won’t be able to resist. It is projected this year that more families will be spending money on Father’s Day as it has taken a hit these past few years during the economic recession. For those of you who are not the best at creating specials or haven’t given thought to a sales campaign for this Father’s Day, here are five fun ways to get your customer’s involved this Father’s Day:

  1. Have people upload pictures of themselves with their dads to your Facebook or Twitter page to get a discount at your online store. Customers will be interacting with your social media pages and shopping your retail site.
  2. Bundle a few different packages on your eCommerce site to make shopping easy. Give a discount when customers buy the bundle and give them great, fun names. You could have one with a firearm, ammo and a holster and call it the “For When your Daughter Starts Dating” package.
  3. Do a free giveaway with a gift card purchase. Find an item that is overstocked and use it as a purchase with purchase when anyone gets a gift card for dad. More importantly, most of the time people will find something more expensive than their gift card and your sales will be even higher.
  4. Create a new look for the special, giving customers a fresh outlook on your site. This can be done by uploading new pictures to your homepage or creating a new banner. Through image association, you can train your customers to know when there is a sale and build a sense of urgency – they need to buy now because there is a sale.
  5. Pair up with another local business, maybe a restaurant or a movie theater, and build a package that could be “Dad’s Night Out.” This is something that sites like Groupon and Living Social will be doing, so you can get ahead of the curve by doing a local event or even partnering with a similar website.

How to Tell if Your Content is Appropriate.

It is always difficult to establish what content is appropriate for your audience when you are posting on a company page. As times progress, censorship has evolved and many businesses struggle to identify what should be shared with customers and what needs to be flagged as “inappropriate.” While there are definitely some things that should stay far away from the office, there is also a great trend in businesses getting personal. Pictures of staff members that aren’t stuffy headshots are a big hit with customers — just check out our employee profiles. It lets customers relate to the people on the other end of the phone and develop a stronger bond – this will ultimately lead to customer loyalty and increased use of your products/services.

The important thing to know is how to maintain your professional identity while seeping your personal life into your branding. This question of brand identity has many different answers and it mainly depends on how you interact with your audience and what you expect out of this newly redefined relationship. For some companies it is an easy decision to become more personal and to bring in that humanization and humor to the workplace – mostly these are companies that can develop a personality without damaging professional relationships.

One company that completely embraces this and has since its inception in 1992 is Moosejaw. Just check out the Madness tab on their site. It includes such features as, “Crying Tomatoes,” and,”Your Weird Dreams.” Moosejaw has a lively character that it shares splendidly with customers through humor, and this has built the brand a very strong and loyal base.

However, Moosejaw is a clothing retailer and distributor that has a lot of freedom in their marketing and branding. What about the companies that have to present themselves in a professional manner, such as a financial planning organization or a law firm? These places are generally seen in a professional light and could lose credibility in their professions by sharing too much personality.

Thankfully there is a way to find balance within extremely professional environments. A great example of a professional company that also offers personality to their clients is the Slalom Consulting Group. Take a look at their About Us page. Look how they incorporate photos of their staff that make their staff seem approachable, friendly and knowledgeable. They offer up faces and bios that we can relate to and that make us trust more readily than pictures of suits and board rooms.