Interesting Insights and Lessons from IRCE 2017 Chicago

Interesting Insights and Lessons from IRCE 2017 Chicago

Events & Conferences

This year, we had an exciting and educational experience attending IRCE. We didn’t exhibit, which gave me plenty of time to walk the floor, attend sessions, and listen to the concerns and challenges facing the internet retailer community today. I returned with some fascinating takeaways, which I plan on discussing in more details in future posts.

As a team, we always have to keep our ear to the ground when it comes to how brands perform on Amazon. I thought these metrics in particular were key to understanding how important brand performance on the retail juggernaut is both now and into the future:

IRCE Takeaways

That second bubble, that recent research from Bloom revealed that over half of all product searches start on Amazon is important and revealing. When it comes to e-commerce, more and more data is showing that customers are bypassing search engines (namely Google) and going straight to Amazon to start their shopping journey..

As a fun aside, if you’re curious about which product category outperforms all others in the Amazon subscription market, the answer is diapers:

IRCE Conference 2017

Lastly, for people who follow shopping trends closely, this metric will hardly surprise you. More and more people are shopping on mobile. According to this slide (with 2016 data from ComScore), 80 percent of all Amazon shoppers buy directly from mobile, with 43 percent of them buying exclusively with mobile:

Internet Retailer Conference

This is a big uptick from only a few years ago. It means that you have to optimize everywhere: mobile and desktop, marketplaces and SEM. It’s a complex world out there and, as my team and I were reminded, it’s not getting any simpler any time soon for even the largest retailers on the web.

As a cloud-based platform, we already know the importance of cross-platform optimization. We also know exactly how to help brands perform on Amazon to increase conversions and market share.

Looking forward to continuing this conversation in our next posts. In the meantime, feel free to email me or contact us directly any time.

Here’s to an exciting 2017.

Alok Jain
Co-Founder and CEO

Take Me Out to The Ball Game…With Intelligence?

Take Me Out to The Ball Game…With Intelligence?

Events & Conferences

We are super excited about attending IRCE 2017 in Chicago.

This year, the eZdia team is hosting a little group to go see the defending 2017 World Series Champions, Chicago Cubs. There are a few themes that lead us to this.

First: we are huge baseball fans and jumped at the opportunity to go to one of the storied parks in the league especially since the Cubs broke the Billy Goat Curse.

Second: we admire Theo Epstein and his application of machine learning and analytics to winning baseball championships for not only the Cubs, but the Red Sox, too. (For more info: check out both the film and book versions of his story, “Moneyball.”) Winning is never a fluke. Data and analytics is transforming sports and other industries, turning all kinds of consumers into data nerds.

The eZdia team created CrewMachine with some of the same principles that Theo Epstein uses. We deploy analytics from the biggest internet retailers on the planet to help sellers and brands win the game of product discovery.

Consumers are getting smarter everyday. They are raising the bar for the internet retail experience. Retailers and brands are constantly in search of resources to stay ahead. With our help: they can do it. We help the retailers and brands create content via our proprietary Artificial Intelligence engine and crowd solution. We think this combo is a complete game changer; at least, there aren’t any other companies that combine these approaches. What’s more: we do this while helping busy clients maintain their current work-flow.

Join us at IRCE 2017 to learn more.

Schedule Meeting

If you are interested, our team has experts with experience solving big SEO and content optimization strategies at industry-leading retailers like Walmart, eBay and Magento. We’d love to fit you in for a quick (30 minutes tops) consultation for your e-commerce needs.

Schedule Consultation

Looking forward to meeting with you and experiencing my first IRCE.

Alok Jain
CrewMachine by eZdia: AI powered, human-curated ecommerce content to improve your ROI

How to Use Instagram for E-commerce to Boost Sales

How to Use Instagram for E-commerce to Boost Sales

Business & Entrepreneurship

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

Business & Entrepreneurship

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

Business & Entrepreneurship

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

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