Boost your sales during the holidays!

Are you prepared for the upcoming retail holiday season? Every year, online merchants get ready for the inevitable onslaught of customer orders on Black Friday and Cyber Monday. That may sound a bit scary, but fear not because Cyber Monday can help push merchants and online retailers into the black and create an extremely profitable holiday shopping season.

I’m going to give you some tips and tricks to help boost sales, but first let’s go through a rundown of some trends that happen during this time of the year.

Social media has a guaranteed impact on your holiday sales.

Social media has a guaranteed impact on your holiday sales.

Activity on Black Friday/Cyber Monday can be exhilarating with many merchants seeing an average increase of new orders by 135% in 2012 alone. This change is incredible and can mean the difference between a successful or unsuccessful year. You should also be prepared, provided you have great marketing and social strategy, to see revenue go up (average of 28%) and visits to your site increase too (average of 68%).

So what should you expect from Black Friday/Cyber Monday? On average, 48.9% of your customers will be expecting free shipping and 31.9% will want coupons for all of your merchandise. And remember, it has also been forecast that e-commerce sales will increase by 14% over the five year period of 2012 – 2017. That is a huge increase in sales and no doubt social commerce will play a huge roll in this impact on the bottom line.

So, how do you take advantage of the extra traffic and potential new customers? Here are the top ways to utilize social commerce to boost sales this holiday season sales.

‘Tis the season for social

Make your content easy to share quickly, especially since just 1% of your audience can drive up to 10-20% of your online traffic. And Shoppost makes the sharing from anywhere even easier and when your customers share your content, your visibility increases. And the visibility increases to people who have the potential to be new customers.

Make your sales easily sharable and trackable.

Make your sales easily sharable and trackable.

Keyword research and selection for your brand must be carefully used along with your SEO strategy. Convert more customers by offering coupons or other incentives through your targeted  campaign. Remember, many of your customers may be expecting deals on many of your products or services and creating coupons can enable direct targeting of your customers even further. One absolutely fantastic resource for creating this type of campaign is Facebook Advertising which you can use to boost your Shopposts.

Social retargeting toward your brand advocates and influencers will boost the awareness of your products a great deal. Many key influencers are early adopters who can help spread the word of your brand and products to a great majority of potential customers. Knowing who they are and targeting them specifically will increase your chances of getting your brand known. And this is especially important right before the holidays.

Making certain that your overall experience is optimized for mobile is a vital aspect of ensuring that your traffic is converting. In one day, Alibaba sold $9.3 billion in merchandise. The company noted that of those purchases, it had shipped 278 million orders — 43% of which were placed on mobile devices.

illustration of monitor laptop and cellular with blank screen

Having a mobile-optimized experience is vital for holiday success.

Using a mobile-optimized website, ensuring that your shopping cart and checkout interfaces function well on mobile devices and minimizing the steps to get from product page to checkout will all help avoid shopping cart abandonment. And that’s where Shoppost comes into play. The content you share through shoppost is able to function an all mobile devices because it is browser based and it provides a streamlined checkout process.

Finally, be sure to measure, analyze, and optimize your results. Having a trusted analytics platform set up so you can understand who are you are reaching, when you are reaching them, where they are located, what strategies are working, and why your campaigns are or are not working is incredibly important for a successful campaign. Shoppost also offers it’s own detailed social analytics so you can better track where you are making the right conversions using social media.

The holidays can be a time of immense pressure and stress for merchants, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Having the correct strategies in place and knowing where you are targeting your potentially new customers will help your brand survive both Black Friday and Cyber Monday successfully.

The 5 Must-Have Apps On Shopify For SMBs to Drive Sales

Set of Flat Design Icons. Mobile Phones, Tablet PC, Marketing Te

As a SMB owner you already know that it’s important to reach your customers where they are – online. Remember when buying things online was actually considered a novelty and “cool”? Now, everyone can buy anything from luxury items to toilet paper right in the comfort of their living rooms.

For retailers like you, this means that it’s more important than ever to make sure you’ve established a strong presence online to capture the attention of your potential customers and drive sales. You might think, “Sure, I know all of that, but how do I actually do it?” Well, believe it or not, establishing an online store is actually pretty easy with the help of online platforms like Shopify

Shopify is an easy-to-use e-commerce platform designed to help small businesses set up a webstore. What’s great about Shopify is there’s no programming involved It does it all for you which allows you to focus on what you like most in the first place – be that making homemade jam, customized jewelry or cool t-shirts. You can use Shopify to manage all aspects of your shop: uploading products, customizing the design, accepting credit cards, and viewing their incoming orders and completed transactions.

Another cool thing about Shopify is its expansive app store, which offers a wide variety of tools designed to enhance your online presence, reach more customers and grow your business. Here are the top 5 free apps to help you drive sales online:

1. Product Reviews
Did you know that 90 percent of customers say that positive online reviews influenced their buying decisions? Retail giant Amazon.com definitely got this right! If your customers like your products, they’re happy to tell others about it – therefore, it’s important that you capture all those good things! Produced by Shopify, this app allows you to easily add product reviews to your store, giving you a great way to engage with your customers to gauge their feedback, and in turn, encourage sales from new customers once they see how other people are with your products.

2. Plug-in SEO
A good SEO strategy helps your business be less of a needle in a haystack. Since a good portion of online product discovery comes from Google searches, you need to make sure your online store is optimized. This plug-in checks your store’s homepage SEO automatically on a regular basis, so you wouldn’t have to spend time doing manual checks and focus instead on actually improving your site.

3. Shoppost
We spend 114 billion minutes a month on Facebook in the U.S. alone, which isn’t too surprising given how fun it is to keep up with friends and interesting things on social media. Everyone from your best friend to your mom is using social media– and that includes your customers. Since they’re there already, shouldn’t your products be there, too? Shoppost allows retailers to easily sell their products in Facebook’s newsfeed via an interactive post. It turns your Facebook followers’ newsfeeds into a virtual “window shopping” experience, not to mention it’s free, easy-to-use and makes the selling process as easy as post, shop and done. Go ahead and give it a try!

screen-01

4. Chimpified by MailChimp
Email marketing is a common (and not to be overlooked) way to engage with your customers on a regular basis. As consumers, we’re used to receiving email offers, coupons and promotions from big retailers like Nordstrom and Macys Chimpified makes it easy for SMB to level the playing field with larger retailers via email. With this app, you can create targeted email campaigns based on buying behaviors to promote your store, notify them of special offers and promotions, or send recommendations to customers based on their purchases.

5. RetailTower
Now that your Shopify store is up and running, how do you get more people to check it out? RetailTower provides integration between your store and shopping comparison engines; it automates feed submission the popular shopping engines such as Google, Amazon, Bing, TheFind and more. In other words, people can find your products even if they are not searching for your site. Reaching more prospective shoppers is now a piece of cake.

Do you have other favorite apps on Shopify? Let us know!

Welcome to Shoppost!

screenshot-2-shoppost-previewWith the release of any new product, it is traditional for a company’s founder to share his or her thoughts on what they intend to achieve, or how they see their product impacting the world.

Now, I’m reluctant to call this sharing my vision, as that’s a slippery slope to referring to yourself as a ‘visionary.’ And that’d lead to hearing things at home like, “honey, visionaries don’t roll the trash down the curb,” which is a road I do not wish to travel. So, rather than sharing my vision, let me just tell you what Shoppost is and what I hope it will do for you.

Shoppost is a social commerce application that lets merchants sell goods from their Shopify or Big Commerce stores on social media networks. With just a few clicks, you can showcase and sell your products directly on your followers’ Facebook and Twitter feeds, as well as on Google+ and Pinterest, letting your customers shop and interact with your product without ever having to leave the site.

We know that people spend an enormous amount of time on social media every day, and this trend will only continue. We’ve seen that consumers follow merchants and product lines they like and, in turn, want to share their experience with their peers. But until now, there wasn’t a simple, effective way to do this within a social media platform, or offer a seamless experience that moves the customer from one platform to the others without frustrating consequences.

Until Shoppost, the solution has been a series of redirects, cumbersome processes and time wasted, resulting in lot of abandoned shopping carts. But now that Shoppost is available, these are problems of the past. Building your Shoppost takes just a minute for you to set up, and purchasing and sharing couldn’t be easier for your customers.

Shoppost lets your customers preview your product with an image or video of the product that’s located directly on the social media platform – they can even interact with the product by selecting a size, color or any other variant. And all of this happens without a redirect. Your customers on Facebook don’t have to leave the site until they land on your secure checkout page.

There’s nothing else out there that’s even close to this functionality. It takes just a minute to promote a product, and even less time for your customers to buy. And additional integrations and enhancements to Shoppost are rolling out all the time. We’ll be sure to keep you posted.

Shoppost costs nothing and can only increase your sales and brand awareness. So give it a try – then be sure to drop me a line to let me know how we’re doing for you.

Happy Shopposting!

David Robb
CEO

How to More Easily Market Your Products on Social Media

Casual businessman working at office desk, using mobile phone an

Like most technology, social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest are in a state of constant change. And while these changes are often undertaken for the end user’s benefit, they can often throw your marketing strategy into chaos.

How are you supposed to promote your products and reach your customers when you don’t know if what you’re doing today will work tomorrow? And how can you tread this uncertain landscape when chances are that none of the platforms you’re on will operate the same way a year from now?

Change is inevitable. But though you may not know what’s coming, you can prepare all the same. Here are three tips to more easily market your products on social media, and handle the occasional curveball.

Keep on Top of Changes

If you want to use social media, you have to understand the platforms. Yes, change is inevitable, but you need to know what’s changed and how it’s changed, when it changes. By understanding what’s happened and how it will affect your business’ social presence, you can craft a plan of action to address the changes now and keep your online presence on a path of growth.

You can’t get ahead on social media if your strategy is based on information that’s years behind. Check out sites like Social Media Examiner to keep on top of the latest in the world of social.

Aggressively Target Your Audience

Knowing who your audience is is Marketing 101. But that audience changes. They browse different websites. Their interests change. They watch different TV shows and like new bands. And if you want to reach out to them and talk to them where they’re at, you need to keep up.

Do what you can to strengthen your audience research. You can then take this data and use it for better-targeted advertisements. Social media platforms are nothing more than giant data sponges, and their ad programs can each be heavily targeted at certain segments of that data. Be sure you’re on top of who you’re talking to when you’re using paid media.

Build Your Community

You know what convinces people to buy things, more than anything else? It’s not the big elaborate commercials. It’s not the hilarious advertisements you put up around town. It’s not even your totally awesome website. No, it’s people – friends, colleagues and even acquaintances who enthusiastically promote your product.

You can help build this community of potential brand ambassadors by starting on social media. Engaging with your customers and your community, and being a company that is seen as really, truly, actually human, is the best way to turn customers into advocates for your brand. Make sure your social presence is as engaging as possible.

Of course, the presumes that you have a product that’s worth raving about. If you do, there’s no better way to get your product in front of potential customers than Shoppost. And the easier it is to share your product with their friends and family, the better your word-of-mouth buzz will end up being.

What about you? How have you responded to the changing social media landscape?

A Brief, Brief, Brief History of E-Commerce

Online Shopping ConceptIt was only a few short years ago that “people in the know” were telling anyone who would listen that nobody would ever buy products on the Internet. And they had good reason to think so. The Internet was an untested medium. The security involved was poorly – if at all – understood. People thought of the web as nothing more than chat rooms and email. The Internet might end up being a B2B e-commerce destination, but for consumers? Hardly.

But things changed. Today, e-commerce is a more than $1 trillion a year industry, with millions buying everything from pineapples to paintball guns online. How did we get here?

It’s been a long road since the very first e-commerce transaction, back in the early 1970s. But e-commerce as a whole really didn’t take off until the 1990s.

The growth of the World Wide Web, spurred by online services like America Online and Prodigy, exposed most consumers to the idea of spending money online for the first time. 1994-1995 saw the birth of both Amazon.com and eBay, which today top $90 billion in yearly revenue. Their initial growth came during a time when investors were pouring money into tech startups. This exuberance of the late 90s led to IPOs for a number of companies that had never made a profit, and in many cases, had never even created a single product. In some cases, like Google, Yahoo! and others, they were able to ride out the dot-com crash of the late 90s, a bubble that shuttered more than half of all dot-coms and saw more than $5 trillion disappear from the stock market in a matter of months.

The growth of companies like Amazon and eBay following the dot-com bubble is indicative of the recent explosion of e-commerce across the entire web. Amazon’s growth has been remarkable, but even they were recently challenged as the #1 e-commerce retailer in the world by Alibaba, a Chinese company that in 2013 handled more transactions than both Amazon and eBay combined.

This explosion of e-commerce has also inspired a number of new business models – one that’s founded on convenience and fulfilling on-demand desires. Groupon, LivingSocial and a gamut of food delivery sites have enabled local businesses to significantly extend their outreach past their website. Sites like Etsy have enabled anyone to be their own small business. And ridesharing companies Lyft and Uber have turned the existing transportation industry on its head as taxi companies scramble to compete.

E-commerce is also expanding into the social media realm as companies continue to try to reach customers where they are congregating socially. Just a few days ago, Amazon announced a partnership with Twitter to create “#AmazonCart,” a tool that allows Twitter users to put items into their Amazon cart without ever leaving the site. And last year, Starbucks took to Twitter for its “Tweet-a-Coffee” program which lets you buy a $5 gift card to Starbucks for a friend via Twitter.

In later blog posts, we’ll expand on the growth of social media and e-commerce, why social networks like Twitter and Facebook are the future of online selling, and how we created Shoppost as a way to bridge these two worlds in a way that has never been done before.