Cyber Monday: Tarnish Your Brand, Slash Profit, & Kill Customer Loyalty, All in 24 Hours

Cyber Monday Tarnish Your Brand, Slash Profit, & Kill Customer Loyalty, All in 24 Hours

Ah, Cyber Monday is here: the peer pressure fuelled day when all retailers mutually agree to cut their profits and encourage their customer’s addiction to discounts and promotions.

I know that sounds a bit pessimistic, maybe even downright harsh, but hear me out.

There are really only 2 reasons why a retailer would offer Cyber Monday promotions: to gain new customers or reactivate old ones. Let’s talk about what deep discounting does in both situations:

Acquiring New Customers: Suppose a man offers a woman $1,000 to go on a date with him. She accepts. How much of a chance do you this couple has at a long term, quality relationship? Any business transaction based on bribery (and let’s be honest, that’s essentially what discounting is) only produces low-quality, low-affinity relationships. Customers acquired through steep discounting are far less likely to rebuy unless a similarly steep discount is offered again. If you’ve ever run a lifetime value calculation on these customers, you’ll undoubtedly find that it’s much lower than your typical customer LTV. (If you’ve never run this analysis on your customer database, please do yourself a favour and run it!) When discounting is the foundation of the relationship, future price increases are simply out of the question.

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25 Killer eCommerce Link Building Tips

25 Killer eCommerce Link Building Tips

Of all websites, e-commerce stores have arguably the hardest time attracting links. The typical etailer’s site lacks substantitive content, and as a result draws few natural links. To make things worse, link requests are often ignored due to the purely commercial nature of an e-store. Link building for e-commerce takes extra patience and creativity. Below are 25 tips I’ve found helpful while building links for online retailers.

7 Tactics for Creating Link-Worthy Content
The reason etailers have such a hard time attracting links is that they make so little effort to create content worthy of them. If you have a blog, you understand this well. Your blog naturally receives links in response to posting valuable content. Bloggers rarely go around begging for webmasters to link to them. Links just come naturally. With this in mind, let me throw out some ideas for creating trully link-worthy ecommerce content.

#1 – Create a Coupon Code Page: This tip can be gold. People naturally share and link to deals, especially when they think they’ve found something exclusive. Consider creating a page that features all your current coupons and deals. (another benefit of this strategy is that customers will find this page higher on the search results when they search for [your brand]+coupon instead of unapproved coupons on deal-type sites.)

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4 Shocking Truths about your eCommerce Site

4 Shocking Truths about your eCommerce Site

#1 – Barely anyone sees your homepage
Far too many online businesses worship at the alter of the homepage. While certainly important, homepages today carry far less importance than in years past. When I review the analytics on most of the sites I work with, the vast majority of visitors never see the homepage. (When you have a moment, take a look at not only how many of your visitors never see the homepage, but also what percentage of overall pageviews your homepage represents, you’ll probably be shocked at how low it is.) This is due to a myriad of reasons, one of which is that people simply search for specific content, and Google does a pretty decent job of landing you on the specific page you’re looking for. There’s just no reason to pass through an overly generic destination like a homepage.

I believe one of the biggest sins in web design is promoting mission-critical products and promotions only on the homepage. I typically see sites where an email signup or free shipping promotion is highlighted only on the homepage. This is a tragedy, because there’s very little leverage in the homepage, compared with other, more frequently viewed pages. The time you spend redesigning and testing is much better spent on your product, category, or shopping cart pages.

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4 Reasons your Product Pages Don’t Convert

4 Reasons your Product Pages Don’t Convert

I believe online stores focus too much on technology, too much on traffic generation, and even too much on site conversion optimization, and forget that it’s still all about the product. Everything else is just a tool. Below I’ll share what I believe to be the 4 biggest mistakes made on the product pages of today’s online retailers.

1) Too much imagination is required

All too many product pages require their customer’s to have a good imagination. For example, product images convey the product alone with a white background. Not exactly awe-inspiring. Online shopping can be devoid of context when product images aren’t show in use. Lifestyle and contextual images help create mental ownership by giving specific examples of use.

Yes, it’s a lot of work to get this type of photography on your site. But as I recently shared my experience in lifestyle images, it can be earth-shatteringly effective.

Don’t require your customer to have a good imagination. Paint a picture for them. How will it look in context, in their hands, in use?

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The Ultimate Holiday Checklist for E-Commerce Success

The Ultimate Holiday Checklist for E-Commerce Success

I’m making the list, be sure to check it twice to ensure success for your e-commerce website this holiday season.

#1. Offer Bounce Back Discounts: Your site will be flooded with traffic this holiday season. How can you harness that traffic to create year long business? Consider offering a good discount incentive for customers to come back and shop in January. You can automatically email them a coupon after each order, or send one along with the package. Don’t forget to email and remind customers to come back and use their discounts.

#2. Loosen Up & Emphasize Your Return Policy: While a 30 day return policy is commonplace for the rest of the year, it may scare off early shoppers during the holidays. Make it clear to your visitors that you will accept returns and exchanges on all Christmas gift purchases. Be sure to let visitors know early and often about your policy, such as on product pages and the shopping cart.

#3. Review Past Failures & Successes: Try this as you plan your busy holiday season. Take a look at you and your competitor’s website’s through the lens of the Wayback machine. What worked and didn’t work last year? What can you improve upon?

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How to Build the Perfect Website

How to Build the Perfect Website

If you’re seeking perfection on your website, stop reading this. It doesn’t exist.

In fact the search for perfection might just be more detrimental to your website than anything else.

That homepage that your designer has been tweaking for weeks, stop fiddling and make it live. That eBook you’re still perfecting, launch it now. If you have doubts, test it.

In the web world we are lucky to have a friend: instant feedback. Feedback in the form of customers, analytics, surveys, etc. If you were developing a tangible product or print material, you don’t have this luxury. You have to get it right the first time. There is no excuse for a typo on the front of your catalogue or a defect on your product. But a website is a living, breathing, evolving creature. Problems can be fixed. Inefficiencies can be optimized.

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What if your products disappeared?

What if your products disappeared

Imagine that all your products disappeared from your website. Would anything of value remain? Would your customers still come back?

If your answer is “no”, than you’ve successfully commoditized yourself.

If you’re truly passionate about your business, your site should be overflowing with content and community, both of which should be natural by-products of your real products. Content and community will endure, even if your products were gone.

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What Offline Can Teach Online

What Offline Can Teach Online

In the early days, online retail built itself upon the foundation of convenience and value. It was easier to buy online, and many times cheaper. With the astonishing growth of e-commerce, and the unique combination of an always on store with relatively low overhead, some online store owners would assume they’ve got a leg up on their offline counterparts.

On the contrary, I would argue we can learn much from the offline world. After all, with hundreds of years of experience, traditional retailers are in many ways much more polished than their online counterparts. Here’s 7 pointers we can take from the brick and mortar world.

Merchandising Matters: Countless hours of research have been performed on product merchandising. Grocery stores make a killing off selling prime locations on their shelves. I believe we are just starting to learn how to effectively merchandise online. How much thought have you given to how your products are ordered on your category pages? What about the way you order your categories in your nav? It kills me every time I see products or categories ordered alphabetically. Should accessories really be listed first if you’re known for your jeans? Probably not.

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Avoid the eCommerce Low-Trust Tax

Avoid the eCommerce Low-Trust Tax

What’s one thing that all successful e-commerce sites have in common, regardless of their industry, technology, or experience? Their customers trust them.

E-commerce in particular lends itself to a low trust environment. After all, when you make a purchase online, you’re giving money to someone you can’t see, for a products that you can’t touch. Needless to say, trust is a crucial aspect of transacting business online.

Duct Tape Marketing recently interviewed Steven M.R. Covey on his book The Speed of Trust. Covey speaks of a “low-trust tax” which makes all business processes less efficient. Inspired by this concept, I came up with 10 ways to avoid paying a low-trust tax with your e-commerce site. If you have any ideas of how to inspire trust on your website, please leave a comment below.

Have a Real About Page: I’m not talking about a vague paragraph describing what you do. I’m referring to a personal, detailed explanation of who you are. Share your mission, your passion, and your vision with customers. This information becomes a powerful word of mouth tool when customers are telling friends and family about your products or services. Consider even showing pictures of yourself and your staff to add an extra personal touch.

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