Shoppost Customer Spotlight: Trendy Baby Wearing

Editor’s note: This is the first in a series of customer spotlights where we will highlight Shoppost users that are taking an innovative approach to social commerce. Enjoy! 

Every day we get inspired by our Shoppost users’ creativity and passion. We love seeing success stories of small businesses rising to the top. Recently, one of our Shoppost users, Barbara Reggio, founder of Trendy Baby Wearing, did just that. She started out with a passion and a clear vision to bring parents and babies closer together. Her zeal and enthusiasm drove her to create an online business selling Baby Slings, Baby Teethers and Wrap-Scrap Accessories that is thriving today. We wanted to know if she had any advice for other small businesses or tips for leveraging social media. We were fortunate to have the opportunity to ask our “baby wearing visionary” a few questions about her success.

Barbara Reggio, founder of Trendy Baby Wearing, showing off one of the many items available through her Shoppost

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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.

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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

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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!

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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!

The Pay-for-Play Social Revolution: What SMBs Need to Know

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More brands and more people are posting on social media. Facebook has more than 1.28 billion monthly active users, while Twitter has 255 million. You do the quick math – with that many users posting and sharing potentially multiple times a day, it’s no wonder it’s harder than ever for SMBs to connect with their target audience via social media. However despite that proliferation of content, these channels are making it easier – and more affordable – for SMBs to get their posts and tweets seen by the right people.

What is Paid and Why Should You Care?

Social media marketing strategies fall into three channels: owned, earned and paid. Owned channels are your profiles on Facebook, Twitter, etc. These are the channels were you share your content and your message. When social media usage was in its infancy, it was easy for a brand to set up a profile and share content – and have it seen organically. If people really liked the content, it would earn the attention of followers and potentially go viral, or capture the attention of media, who then wrote about it. Because the adoption and usage of social media channels have grown so much, there’s increased competition for attention – this is where paid comes in.

Ever wonder why you see posts from brands every day, while others you never see? Paid helps your posts and content be seen. It’s no longer enough to just produce great content – you need to put a little money behind it to ensure you stand out among the baby pictures and BuzzFeed articles users friends are posting. And it’s not that hard to do with self-service platforms designed with SMBs in mind. All you need is a little money (budget is up to you), an image and ad copy, and a link to where you’re interested in driving traffic.

How do you get started?

1. Got goals?: Is your objective to grow engagement on your social channels? Or drive someone to your webpage? Once you figure out what your ultimate goal is, you’ll be able to come up with a tactical strategy to help you reach your objective.

2. What’s your strategy?: The best paid social media programs employ a mix of tactics across Facebook and Twitter. In a Mashable article, HipLogiq CTO and cofounder Adam Root explains: “My strategy is to use Twitter to gain new users, Facebook to build a community. My logic in choosing this strategy is that Twitter is a good medium for targeting moments and encouraging action, Facebook is a great medium for building long-term relationships…”

Keep in mind, Facebook and Twitter offer a few different types of paid social media options –advertisements or promoted posts. Your strategy (and the types of social media paid options you employ) will be influenced by your ultimate goal. If you’re interested in learning more about the different types of social media buys you can execute on these platforms, check out this an easy to understand tutorial from Facebook and this guide from Twitter.

3. Who are you trying to reach?: One of the best parts about paid is that it ensures that the right people are seeing the right content. Going into your campaign, you need to know exactly who you want to reach – even down to the geographic location. Because social media users are sharing a lot of personal information on these sites, it’s easy to ensure that someone who is interested in craft beer in Seattle is able to see your promoted post or promoted Tweet about craft beer in Seattle.

4. Get creative with your content: If you’re going to do a social media paid buy, you’ll need some creative content. The type of creative content you need will be influenced by your strategy, but you’ll need to make sure that the images, text and links you’re utilizing will be relevant for your audience(s). For example, an image of someone running in New York City, won’t resonate if your target audience is runners in San Diego.

If you opt to promote a post or Tweet (vs. execute a social ad), all you’ll need is a link to the piece of content and some text that you would use for an update.

5. Advertise away!: Once your strategy and audience is defined, your ads can be up and running in 2-3 days via Facebook or Twitter’s self-serve platform. You can look in real-time to see how your paid buys are performing and what is resonating with your target audience. Something didn’t land well? That’s okay – you can easily re-allocate your budget to a new ad or post that you know your audience would be interested in based on how the rest of your campaign is performing.

Does your SMB have a paid social media strategy? How are you using it to grow your owned channels?

What Small Businesses Get Right About Social Media – And What They Get Wrong

Social Media Newspaper Concept

Social media has been a huge boon to small businesses all over the world. Perhaps no other platform has enabled businesses just getting off the ground to amplify their message and reach their customers. But not every business is taking full advantage of this opportunity. So what are some of the things that small businesses get right about social media, and what do they get wrong?

The Good

Have a Facebook presence –More than 25 million small businesses are now using Facebook, which is a positive sign. Facebook today is properly understood as the top platform for most businesses to engage their customers. Expanding your brand presence on Facebook can only lead to positive results.

Be human – One of the more positive aspects of being a small business is that it’s much, much harder to sound like a soulless corporation in your communications. Many small businesses are significantly more responsive and engaging with their audience than larger brands, which admittedly have larger followings, but still should not just use social media as a place to just regurgitate their press releases.

Don’t go overboard – You know that company that uses social media to just regurgitate their press releases? Well, their evil twin is the company that uses social media to constantly promote their products many, many times a day, day after day after day. There’s a time and a place for promoting your products, but multiple times a day is not that time. That’s a lesson that most small businesses inherently understand. You know your customers limits. We’ll get back to this question of how much to post a little later.

The Bad

Not Utilizing Twitter or LinkedIn –SMBs are using Facebook, but they’re not utilizing Twitter or LinkedIn, which, increasingly, is becoming a missed opportunity. Fewer than one in four use Twitter, and fewer than one in five uses LinkedIn, both of which are becoming more and more useful platforms for your small business strategy – LinkedIn especially, as in addition to reaching potential clients and talent directly, it’s also a source of strong business advice.

Not Posting Enough – If you look around the Internet, you’ll find dozens—maybe hundreds—of guides telling you exactly when and how many times you need to post to achieve maximum engagement. Too many businesses get caught in that trap. According to longtime entrepreneur and advisor Guy Kawasaki, you shouldn’t worry about how often you post on social media.

“Almost every company is not posting as much as they should,” Kawasaki recently told Business Insider. “Many are believing ‘expert’ advice that the optimal number of posts on each platform is one per day. This is the stupidest thing I’ve heard. Imagine if NPR, CNN, ESPN, or the BBC did one report per day — and never repeated it. Companies are afraid of a vocal minuscule minority complaining about too many posts and repeated posts.”

The takeaway? If you have something that’s useful and relevant for your audience, post it. And conversely, if you don’t have anything to say, don’t say anything at all.

Expecting Immediate Results – You have a Facebook profile filled out, great imagery and a crack team ready to engage potential customers. So you should start seeing an uptick in sales, right?

Not so fast, my friend.

You’re in this for the long game. You’ll be engaging with a lot of potential customers who have no plans to make a purchase in the near future. Your goal with your social media strategy shouldn’t be to immediately convert everyone on your Facebook list, it should be to build your brand awareness, keep your business top of mind when it does come time for making a purchase, and to nurture and support potential brand advocates among your customers. Patience: it’s not just a virtue – it’s a sales strategy.

How to More Easily Market Your Products on Social Media

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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?