How to Use Instagram for E-commerce to Boost Sales

How to Use Instagram for E-commerce to Boost Sales

Instagram’s worldwide audience of 500 million people is growing. The company added 100 million users between 2015 and 2016 alone. It boasts more users than Twitter and is second only to Facebook in its overall reach. In 2015, a study from Pew Research reported that 35 percent of those users visit several times per day. The social media platform is becoming just as much of a media juggernaut as its parent company, Facebook, and there’s good reason why. The image-based posts are easy to scan, fun to follow and attractive to consumers from a wide array of age groups and cultures. If you’re selling to consumers, you need an Instagram footprint. Here are some tips to improve your Instagram marketing strategy and increase engagements on the platform.

More Instagram Demographics

In that same study by Pew, they revealed that 55 percent of all 18-29-year-olds use Instagram. Over a quarter of people who make over $70,000 per year have an account as well. An impressive 32 percent of adults online who live in urban areas also use the platform. One conclusion of this data: female millennials who earn $50,000 to $75,000 and live in urban areas check in with the photo sharing app more than any audience.

Do Your Homework

Instagram Marketing StrategyBefore you create your first post on Instagram, check out what your competitors are doing. Follow the accounts of consumers who represent your ideal customers. See what they like, follow and share. Creating an Instagram marketing strategy isn’t as simple as throwing up a few images with hashtags. Spend some time researching the marketplace and be prepared to invest resources to build a sustainable, meaningful and targeted campaign.

How to Sell Products on Instagram

There are some tried and true tactics that you can use to leverage the platform to your advantage.

Create a Contest

People love giveaways, discounts, and sweepstakes, especially if they are meaningful. Offer a small item every day to the 10th person who shares a post and follows your business on both Facebook and Instagram, for example. Come up with creative ways to encourage likes and follows with incentivized rewards. Run a photo contest and promote the winner with a sponsored post.

Use Hashtags

Hashtags are common on all social media platforms, and they assist your audience in finding you. They are especially popular with Instagram. The more targeted your hashtags, the more you will boost your followers. You can use up to 30, but sticking closer to 11 augments engages Instagram’s algorithm the most effectively.

Use Professional-Quality Images

Even though social media apps are free to use, it doesn’t mean they don’t require investment. If you don’t have a good eye for imagery, use an outside party who does. You may need to invest in a professional photographer or enlist the help of a consultant who is an Instagram expert. Use filters and photo editing apps that help you create vivid, exciting images.

Swap Reel for Real

Instagram users love to see real people. Even if you sell lifestyle products, like fashion and accessories, images of professional models probably won’t resonate as much with the Instagram crowd as actual people photographed while wearing or using your stuff.

Post Short Videos

When you’re scrolling through Instagram, you’ll see a lot of videos. The platform allows anyone to post a video up to 60 seconds long, giving you leeway to post a fun, creative and colorful post. Remember that they need to tell a visual story, so use graphics and images that tell the story instead of relying on audio.

Connect and Communicate

Social media is all about direct contact with your audience. Engage, respond, repost and answer questions as publicly as you can. Millennials are more drawn to brands with a direct, honest message, so use simple, truthful language.

Monitor Your Activity

As with any marketing strategy, metrics matter more than anything else. Deploy an app like Iconosquare to track successes. The app provides a real-time monthly analysis, enabling you to tweak campaigns as needed to grow engagements, follows, and shares.

A strong social media presence is essential for consumer-based businesses today. A well-executed Instagram marketing strategy furthers your brand message and builds trust with new customers when you use it correctly.

Need help? CrewMachine has built proven marketing strategies that increase sales and traffic to your site. Please contact us and learn how you can take advantage of our network of writers, marketers and social media experts that can teach you how to best use Instagram for your e-commerce site.

3 Essential Elements of Successful Reputation Management for eCommerce Brands

3 Essential Elements of Successful Reputation Management for eCommerce Brands

For an ecommerce brand, competition isn’t just other stores or services in your field. It’s the billions of other web pages online. The need to stand out from all that information in a meaningful way continues to grow. In such a fierce environment, reputation management — strategically shaping how customers and the world at large views your brand — requires a combination of business acumen and authenticity so customers relate on a personal level. Here are three ways to anchor your brand’s web presence in maintaining a strong public perception.

Take Your eCommerce Brand to Where Your Consumers Are

For ecommerce, social media can be a blessing or a curse. It all depends on how you curate your content and engage your consumers.

First, do your research. Find out where your target personas spend their time so you know which platforms deserve your greatest focus. Then, get savvy. Don’t just have a Snapchat account, for example — add relevant, non-salesy content that inserts your brand into the bigger conversation. Otherwise, your company comes off as disingenuous, which is a death knell in social media circles. Instead, be willing to commit to transparency with your audience and monitor their reactions.

One key to establishing authenticity in social media is your ability to engage naysayers and detractors. You don’t have control over the posters on social media, so instead you must allow the messages to develop and participate openly in the process. Sound scary? Sure. But it’s one of the best tactics for your brand. Trust is crucial, and customers are more cynical than ever about traditional marketing messages. Instead, look to an industry behemoth like Microsoft, which encourages staff members to blog openly about their opinions regarding the company’s products. When Windows 8 released a few years back, not all the employees were fans, and their blogs said so. That sort of truthfulness opens the door for your company to hear your clients’ biggest complaints. You can’t fix what you don’t know is broken, so find out what people are saying.

Understand Your Brand’s Impact Beyond Products and Services

Another offshoot of social media is the overall knowledge sharing among customers and their friends about all aspects of a company. Buyers no longer care solely about the quality and price of your product. Your company’s social impact, employment policies, global presence and awareness, environmental concern, and even financial integrity all weigh into their choice to invest their time and money. Take, for example, the $20 billion hit Volkswagen has taken on market capitalization since its emissions scandal. That cost reflects much more than paying for fixes to its diesel cars. Consumers and investors alike no longer trust the brand to deliver on its environmentally conscious promises.

Even your leadership’s personal choices influence whether customers are on board. Chick-fil-A still battles reputation management issues years after leaders apologized for maligning certain sectors of society. The hunting habits of the owner of Jimmy John’s became such a focus on Facebook and Twitter that an organized boycott is ongoing. Source: Flickr user MSLGroup Global

Know the Power of the Review in Reputation Management

If you’re of a certain age, you may remember a commercial that defined the concept of viral marketing long before YouTube existed. The model apparently tells two friends about the product, and they tell two friends, and so on and so on.

 

What was true in twos and fours in the ’80s is exponentially more powerful now thanks to review websites. A single star rating improvement on Yelp equates to 5 to 10 percent more sales for a company. If you’re managing a small ecommerce brand, reviews are doubly important because high rankings on review sites offer word-of-mouth marketing opportunities with little effort on your part.

Of course, you do have to make some effort. Complainers naturally take to review sites more than complimenters, so encourage positive, authentic reviews from happy customers, too. You also have to exercise discipline as you interact on such sites. When someone runs down the company you’re working so hard to build up, the urge to argue publicly and refute the claims is strong. Don’t do it. All you’d be doing is planting skepticism in the minds of future readers who think your company doth protest too much. Thank them for their feedback, and offer ways to resolve specific issues.

Product reviews within your site are valuable, too. Provide easy mechanisms for rating features and leaving comments so buyers have simple comparison tools.

With these three tactics, your ecommerce brand is on its way to reputation management success. Keep monitoring and participating in conversations regularly and, above all else, listen to your customers. They know better than anyone in your office what your brand’s reputation really is.

What Customers Expect from Your Product Pages

What Customers Expect from Your Product Pages

Expert marketing consultants have written hundreds of articles and blogs on the best strategy for enhancing customer experience for ecommerce websites. Persuading visiting customers to buy your products is also a complicated science called conversion rate optimization, or CRO, involving demographic and psychological profiling with analytics like multivariate analysis, A/B split testing, eye-tracking tools, and heat analysis.

Hiring a marketing or CRO consultant to keep customers on your site long enough to purchase products isn’t necessary if you have a handle on a few commonsense basics for optimizing your product pages for customers:

  • How your website functions overall and how easy it is for customers to find what they want
  • How you present your products visually
  • How you introduce and describe your products and their functionality
  • How you get customers to trust your company and its products
  • How and where you present options for purchasing your products

Here are some ways to give customers a rewarding experience and to increase conversion purchases to make the reward a two-way street.

Think about the Customer Experience in Terms of What They Need

Driving your product page is whether you can convince customers that the product they’re eyeballing will give them what they want. To deliver on your promise, start with a framework that captures what customers need when they get there.

Many expert marketers are turning to the LIFT Model® for reflecting on what a product page should and should not contain to ensure a rewarding customer experience.

Picture a fighter jet taking off.

Improve Customer ExperienceThe jet itself is your value proposition—your assurance that your product is the best one that customers can purchase.

The fuel being spent is urgency—persuading customers that now is the time to buy, and not later when they’ve shopped elsewhere for the product.

Providing lift to the takeoff are clarity and relevance. Clarity pertains to both the design of the product page and the images and text that accompany the product. Relevance pertains to how strongly customers believe they need to purchase the product from you.

Drag factors on takeoff would be distraction and anxiety. Distraction pertains to anything that takes customers’ minds off your product. Anxiety pertains to any misgivings that customers may have about your company or your product.

With LIFT in mind, how can optimize your product pages?

Your Website Should Offer a User-Friendly Customer Experience

Customer expectations when shopping at your site are much the same as if they were shopping at brick-and-mortar retail. They want the aisles to be uncluttered so they can get to products, and they want the products to be located logically and conveniently.

Several ingredients can help:

  • Keep your homepage focused on you and your products, not on ancillary distractions
  • Use plenty of side tabs to direct customers to products and their features
  • If you have a lot of products, use broader category or brand tabs as well
  • Give customers access to a search box, and make sure it’s on all of your pages
  • Consider using “sticky” navigation menus that remain on the page wherever customers scroll to

Your Homepage Is Also a Chance to Build Consumer Trust

Your customers expect to get to know you. So your footer or header tabs should contain an “About the Company”—your history, mission, and people, to allay any anxiety about whether customers should trust you.

Your website should also contain honest, straightforward information about pricing, shipping costs, delivery dates, and whether items are in stock. Make it easy for your customers to access this information right from your homepage, as well as from any product page. Customers also expect you to be there for them—that they can contact you or a representative by phone or email 24/7. You might even consider a live-chat function if resources permit.

Speed Is Essential to Increase Conversions

Customers expect a website to function quickly as they navigate around. They also need a speedy website, else they’ll become distracted. The statistics from Kissmetrics and Gomez bear this out:

At 2 seconds of load time, just about 13 percent of customers abandon the page. The figure rises to 25 percent at 4 seconds. At 10 seconds, about 35 percent of customers will abandon the page.

Customers Expect a Good Look at Products

High Quality Product ImageMarketing experts agree that high-quality product photography is essential for increasing conversions. Excellent visuals trigger relevance—they are almost tactile, as if customers already picture the product in their own hands:

  • Set photos against a white or neutral-color background
  • Use sharp, high-resolution photography
  • Provide product visuals from several different angles
  • Give customers zoom functionality
  • Consider using “cross-over” photos of other products on each product page

Content Relevance and Clarity Will Increase Conversions

The best product descriptions contain content that convinces customers that your product is relevant—that it will improve their lives in some way, that they just cannot do without it. Descriptive content also helps customers understand the features and benefits of a product clearly, so that when they choose it, they can justify the purchase without buyer’s remorse.

Product content is an artform that requires collaboration between you and your creative writers. Each form of product-description content is unique to specific ecommerce categories, and to specific retailers within each category. Whatever format you choose, the tone has to be warm and engaging. And it has to be knowledgeable and authoritative, key elements of trust.

The best product description pages contain four information tabs:

  1. Product Overview—a statement that nails down the key feature setting the product apart from all others
  2. Product Narrative of Features and Benefits—including how the product works, what it’s used for, and why should it be purchased
  3. Product Specifications—dimensions, materials, relevant statistics, and warranties, all categorized into logical list format
  4. Product Options—not only color, size, and other physical characteristics, but also alternative uses and applications

Customers Expect to Make Purchases From Trustworthy Partners

Customer PurchaseContent marketing has replaced ad marketing on the internet because it is much more effective at inviting customers into your world. If you get customers to become partners, they’ll spread your world to others—exponentially on social media platforms like Facebook. So you want your brand to stand for something other than just the quality of the product itself.

You already started to build consumer trust and allay anxiety with your honesty about pricing, shipping, and delivery. What other elements can you use?

  • Assurances against online fraud, displaying them with safety logos
  • Membership in business and environmental groups, displaying them with trust badges
  • External product reviews
  • Social media links
  • Customer testimonials
  • Resource links to manuals, guides, software, and other relevant documentation
  • How-to advice and FAQ pages
  • Assurances of post-transaction follow-up with emails or phone calls

Create the Fuel for Liftoff

The LIFT model suggests that urgency is what gives your value proposition the impetus for takeoff. Here, the concept of urgency is more subliminal—in the sense that you don’t want to give your customers any excuse or any time to re-think their decision.

Five elements are key:

  • Put your “buy” buttons on every page, and display them prominently
  • Let customers create purchasing accounts after they place an order
  • Offer as many purchasing options as possible, including nontraditional sources like PayPal
  • Guarantee a return receipt immediately by email
  • Offer product delivery tracking emails
Artificial vs Human Intelligence and The Problems with Automated Content Creation

Artificial vs Human Intelligence and The Problems with Automated Content Creation

The application of artificial intelligence (AI) to generate web content is the next big thing in the ecommerce market. Considering that automated content analysis is the next benchmark, the strategies that go into the process need to be examined. If we analyze the problems with automated content creation, it’s obvious that there are a few challenges to address. To create quality ecommerce content, human and machine intelligence need to work together.

Emotive Quality Connects to CustomersSway Customer Buying Decision

The application of artificial intelligence can yield great results in terms of generating great quantities of content. However, the quality of that content may lack the insights that human intelligence can offer. Product descriptions must be relatable. The content should excite the customers and sway their buying decisions. The AI’s algorithmic implications may provide factual product descriptions for ecommerce, but incorporating emotive quality may be a challenge that machines can’t quite meet.

Value Added Sentences Increase Description Quality

AI created content is constructed on a bed of existing data. Therefore, one of the problems with automated content creation is that the AI can’t generate fresh ideas. AI generated, machine-driven content is lacking ‘common sense’. Algorithmic implications can easily identify and describe a black dress or a cotton shirt. What they can’t do is describe the value additions that mean so much to the reader, such as the texture, the design or the feel of the material. While AI can produce a product description, it can’t make a joke, engage a reader with insights or highlight the usefulness of a subtle feature. Hence, automated content may fail to engage a reader.

Convincing Descriptions Make an Impact

AI generated content can speak of the attributes of the products, but lacks the value additions related to those attributes. While AI generated content can effectively feature a description of the product, it will not involve any subjective opinion about the product. The lack of such opinion is often obvious to the reader, and such clinical descriptions may unfavorably sway their buying decisions. Human intelligence is needed to make the leaps in logic that elevate product descriptions from boring facts to creative, convincing content.

Keyword Optimization Brings in New Readers

Readers will only stick around for high-quality contentWhen addressing the problems with automated content creation, search result rankings must be mentioned. Regardless of the quality, AI-generated content that doesn’t appear in search results hasn’t reached its intended audience. Machine generated content often doesn’t abide by the rules of keyword optimization. If keywords for product descriptions or category pages are not properly optimized, then the customer’s searches will be fruitless. Optimization depends on, again, leaps of logic, which consider keyword phrasing, placement, context and related terms. Content that grows out of human intelligence keeps the buyer’s search concerns in mind while optimizing.

Competent Descriptions Increase Convertibility

Since machine generated content is laid upon existing data and facts, it may fail to update itself. Therefore, the content may lag behind that of competitors in the e-commerce market. Lack of proper updates at regular interval creates a gap. This also results in making the content non-convertible in terms of generating organic traffic in the Google search page. Human intervention and oversight are necessary to detect and address any such content gaps.

While AI-driven content creation can generate large quantities of product descriptions at the touch of a button, it does not remove or replace the human element. However, human and machine intelligence can work together in harmony to produce high-quality product descriptions for ecommerce.

Why You Should Always Use “Good ‘Til Canceled (GTC)” Duration When Selling on eBay

Why You Should Always Use “Good ‘Til Canceled (GTC)” Duration When Selling on eBay

What is GTC?

Good Till Cancelled (GTC) is one of the formats sellers can use to create listings on eBay. Using this style, a seller creates his inventory listing for the duration of 30 days at a fixed price. At the end of the 30-day period, the listing is automatically renewed, and the item gets listed again. This cycle continues until the seller decides to cancel the listing altogether and the seller is required to pay any applicable fees every time the listing is renewed.

As a Seller Why should You Use GTC:

1. No Need to Create a New Listing Every Time

If you have a large amount of a particular item and you regularly restock it, GTC will keep your list stay active until all your items are sold, or you choose to end the listing for some reason. This means that you don’t have to create fresh listings every time the item sells. And you’ll have more time on your hands to look after other facets of your business.

2. The Inventory Features High on Best Match Searches

Every renewed GTC listing has the previous sale history attached to it. This helps build an item history over time. This helps to ensure the listing shows up higher on the search results pages. This is especially true for sellers dealing with high volume sales.

3. Helps Build a Good Reputation

GTC helps prospective buyers gauge how many items you’ve sold as a seller and also see the kind of feedback you’re earned over time. This helps build the buyers trust in you and drives the buyer to go for a repeat purchase.

4. Your Product Keeps the Same URL

With a GTC listing, the item keeps the same URL address until you cancel it. This helps the listing increase search positioning, especially over newly listed items. It also means that anyone watching the item will not lose the ability to do so once the 30 days are over.

5. Helps Build an Accurate Sales History

It’s a good idea for sellers who often list an item multiple times to keep an accurate sales history. This helps to quickly view what items sell well and need to be restocked as well as items that do not sell well and may need to be taken out of inventory or put on sale. Ebay’s GTC listings allow sellers to keep an item history that shows valuable information such as total items sold and the number of watchers an item has.

Turning E-Commerce Content Into Gold

Turning E-Commerce Content Into Gold

E-commerce is big business. In the first quarter of 2016, online sales in the U.S. represented nearly 8 percent of all retail sales, totaling $86.3 billion. With so many consumers tracking towards online retail, e-tailers need to spend the right kind of resources to capture them and convert those clicks into revenue. Your products can’t speak for themselves. Are you telling their story to your customers in a way that leads to discoverability?

How Well Are You Telling Your Products’ Stories?

Retailers have a common set of problems that they need to address on a daily basis. New products, large influxes of customers and product data to manage, consumer electronic product upgrade cycles, and product fulfillment requirements understandably take a company’s focus away from effective website optimization. Running a business and satisfying your customers pulls everyone’s attention away from robust content management. That content management, though, is one of the key components of your business’s overall health.

Diagnosing Your Content Health

Each new product page is a golden opportunity for both discoverability and conversion. If pages are not formatted and written properly, you’re missing out on high-ranking results on Google and other key marketplace sites. Broken formatting issues include:

  • Missing keywords
  • Proper keyword density
  • Short titles and descriptions without H1 or H2 tags
  • Inadequate product descriptions
  • Missing product images
  • Broken metadata, including missing attributions

There is a complex process which ultimately helps your company show up at the top of search results. This process needs to be addressed holistically and regularly. Even companies with localized SEO and digital marketing teams need support in converting and formatting every single product page effectively.

An effective content strategy includes:

  • Identifying and Ranking SEO Opportunities
  • Measuring Overall Content Health
  • Verifying Search Visibility
  • Grouping and Managing Product Pages
  • Reformatting and Rewriting Content

E-tailers have daily opportunities to capture and educate their customers. Buying guides and comprehensive category pages work in concert with product pages to drill down into advantages, highlighting feature and benefit language throughout so that your company becomes an authority that helps each customer make informed buying decisions. Guides and category pages further redirect consumers to qualified product pages, all of which have been optimized for premium search engine placement.

BEFORE

  • Low keyword density
  • Ineffective product description
  • No blog links
  • No embedded product redirects
  • No feature/benefit language

content-strategy

AFTER

  • Compelling feature/benefit highlights
  • Clear bullets outlining key product features
  • Appropriate keyword density and identified keywords
  • Effective product description

Ecommerce Content Strategy

Taking the Next Steps To Better Website Health

Using a third-party platform to manage website health frees up your marketing team to focus on forward-looking opportunities and strategies while maximizing the efficacy of your SEO staff and their expertise. Advanced publishing management software, along with a team of experienced project managers, keyword researchers, writers, and editors working in tandem with your company to restructure your content improves rankings and increases your bottom line. Your online sales funnel is as dynamic as your suite of products. Effective oversight requires daily management, strategic input, and an automated content funnel that takes each page from creation to editing and on to publication.

how it Works

Rebooting Your Web Content

Are your product descriptions too long? Are they too short? Is your team aware of the latest Google update? How do those constant changes in search and marketplace algorithms impact your rankings? These questions need to be applied consistently to every product and content page, ideally before they go live.

 

Reach out to us today to learn more about some success stories and how our team can work with yours to revolutionize your content marketing strategies.

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