Kategorie-Archiv: SEO

5 Ways SEO Can Shine a Light on Your Unseen B2B Content

SAP Image

Lion King Sunset Hidden Content Image“Look, marketers. Everywhere the light touches is content beloved by customers.”

“But what about that shadowy place over there?”

“That’s our unseen content. We worked hard to create it, but nobody ever visits it.”

“That’s really depressing.”

“That’s life.”

Okay, sorry to bring the room down. And I’m also sorry to say that it gets worse. A recent study found that 69% of all web content is not seen by consumers.

Hidden Content Image
The remaining 31% is our kingdom.

Fortunately, there are many ways to create content that beats the odds. For example, you can co-create with influencers, or experiment with interactive content that inspires social media sharing. But what about the content you have already created? The really good stuff that never caught on with an audience?

With the right search engine optimization, you can shine a light on that content and help it earn organic traffic. Here’s how we do it.

Ungate the Good Stuff

Five years ago, the best practice for marketers was to gate your most valuable content. It makes sense: You’re offering something great, so people should be willing to offer their contact info in return for it. It’s a simple value exchange.

The flip side, though, is that your most impressive and useful content is now being seen by a smaller audience. You’re intentionally introducing a barrier between your target audience and your most persuasive content.

I’ll grant that the debate of “to gate or not to gate” is ongoing, and marketers are seeing results with either tactic. But especially for SEO purposes, we recommend trying an ungated approach.

For example, this asset from client SAP has it all: influencer participation, stats, eye-popping interactive visuals. It’s ungated, and the container page is optimized for search. Keeping this substantial piece of content ungated makes it more crawlable, findable and sharable. As people discover and share it, it gets even more SEO juice. And as an added bonus, the included influencers are far more likely to share an ungated asset.

Ditch the PDFs

Everybody loves PDFs, but… okay, so nobody really loves PDFs. Their popularity is really a holdover from the old days of the web. You didn’t want to take a beautifully-designed piece of content and try to recreate it in clunky HTML. So the PDF made sure people would see the content exactly as it was designed.

Now, however, you don’t have to be a web designer to create something beautiful on a regular web page. And since plain text is crawlable and PDFs are not, turning that PDF into a web page is a solid SEO move.

Our client Prophix just published original research in their CFO Benchmarks Report. Instead of making a landing page with an ungated PDF embedded, we turned the report into a long-scrawl web page, then offered a PDF download at the bottom. That way, the content is crawlable by search engines and more easily accessible to potential readers. What’s more, the content is now optimized for visually impaired users as well.

Prophix Image

Consolidate Posts by Topic Clusters

It’s standard SEO practice to combine thin content that addresses the same keyword into one comprehensive post. If you’re not doing that type of repurposing yet, that’s a good place to start.

To take it to the next level, think beyond individual keywords and consolidate posts around topic clusters. For example, your outdoor gear company might have a post for the best hiking shoes, one on how to pick the right backpack, one on the best shirts to wick away sweat, and so on.

Even though these posts have different keywords they’re aiming for, they all fall under a cluster: Best hiking gear. Combining all the posts into a mega post with navigation elements gives you a more valuable asset for search engines and humans. People will likely spend more time on the page, and be more likely to share and link to your comprehensive resource.

Build a Web of Internal Links

Another common cause of hidden content is that it’s minimally accessible through your site’s navigation. This is especially true if you’ve changed your site architecture over time — and who hasn’t? Content can end up with only a couple links to it, or even none at all.

Content architecture is one way that search engines can better understand your site and which content to recommend to searchers. An orphaned page with few or no links is unlikely to pass muster.

This guide from Search Engine Journal can help you find your orphaned pages. Once you identify them, add links to and from relevant pages throughout your site. The goal is to build a logical link structure that helps users and bots understand which content is the most important.

You may also find that these orphaned pages are ripe for consolidation and optimization into more substantial content pieces, too.

Build External Links

The end goal of our first four points is creating assets that are substantial, valuable, easy to find and share, and optimized for SEO and humans. This type of content is perfect for ethical link building.

Backlinko has an excellent, comprehensive linkbuilding guide (ungated!) that’s well worth your time. But here are a few quick strategies to get started:

  1. Write guest posts for relevant industry publications and include links back to your content.
  2. Identify posts that are linking to similar, but outdated content and suggest updating with a link to your piece.
  3. Promote your content with paid and unpaid social media posts — those shares will indirectly influence your ranking, and can lead to more backlinks as well.

Let Your Little Light Shine

It can be demoralizing to think that 69% of your content is stuck in the dark. But think of it this way: You have a massive resource of already-written content that can find an audience with just a little SEO illumination. Make your content more accessible, easier to find, and more substantial for your audience, and you can bring that forgotten content into the light.

We can help bring your content out of the dark. Request an SEO audit to get started.

The post 5 Ways SEO Can Shine a Light on Your Unseen B2B Content appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

Source:: toprankblog.com

Coronavirus and the paid search sector: How businesses are gearing up to come out the other side

Coronavirus hit paid search sector still industries positive

Over the past couple of weeks, paid search specialists Adthena have been sharing some fascinating insight into how the coronavirus pandemic is affecting the paid search sector in markets around the globe.

I spoke to Adthena’s VP of marketing Ashley Fletcher about the questions C-level executives are asking, their plans in the short and longer-term, and what he is observing in the data.

We’re past the shock stage

C-level executives now want to see the lay of the land amidst the coronavirus outbreak. Retailers, for instance, want a view of who’s moving out and many are asking:

  1. What’s happened to strategy?
  2. How are markets reacting?
  3. How do we now adjust?

Paid search is a fantastic window on all of this. While our offline lives have been massively disrupted by the coronavirus, the paid search sector is comparatively ever-present. We see customers switch to the channel when they can’t use others and we have good segmentation within data across products and more business verticals.

“Search intelligence offers not only remarkable clarity but also a real-time lens into market movements, trends, and opportunities across verticals and in close to real-time”,

Fletcher writes at the Adthena blog.

“PPC is a stable, transparent refuge every marketer needs to be leveraging right now to keep the oars in the water.”

There is positivity even in industries that have been hardest hit

One of the surprises for Fletcher is that the sentiment among marketers he is speaking to is not all doom and gloom.

“Businesses like the UK travel sector (we’re seeing this with some of our hotel chain clients) have been the hardest hit. But the positive aspect of this is we are already seeing this sector with eyes on their recovery and looking at where they go next”,

Fletcher said.

“People are prepared to lower spend now, but are gearing up for coming out the other side.”

Data showing significant feats of agility

It is not only the travel sector which has had to change track quickly.

“In the food vertical, many brands have been seen to suspend some generic ads, but they are keeping the lights on for brand traffic”,

Fletcher said.

“Managers are coming to the paid search data asking: What’s my brand looking like while competition might be able to take more capacity?”

This is particularly visible as vast numbers of users seek to use delivery services offered by the likes of Tesco and Sainsbury’s in the UK, as well as Coles in Australia (see below).

Coronavirus effect on paid search trend

Digital-first brands like Amazon, Catch, and Hello Fresh are jumping into the gaps created when the legacy supermarkets have quickly hit capacity for food grocery deliveries.

We can also see Amazon shifting paid ad priorities to essential products, which is creating further gaps. This means other companies like Best Buy have then been able to garner clicks for things Amazon has had the monopoly on till date – such as TVs, kitchenware, and mobile phones.

Fletcher is seeing this agility being demonstrated in other sectors too – from online banking to online betting.

Takeaways for digital marketers

The paid search sector gives us a fascinating glimpse into the disruption at play across the global business. But the positivity, agility, and resolve on display is heartening too.

The real-time data available to paid search marketers answer three key questions

  1. How consumer habits sometimes shift rapidly
  2. How their brands are retaining visibility in the melee
  3. How competitors are changing strategy and focus in order to adapt

In some cases, we can certainly see prices go up and clicks go down as users and brands change their ways. The flipside of this is that gaps and opportunities are opening up in surprising places as big names shift their focus to specific products and services. Smart marketers will be observing those gaps and acting on them.

Yet, the most important takeaway from Adthena’s data is a long-term strategy

Here in the UK and US, we may still be in the beginning stages of this global event, but while many businesses have been forced to make some quick near-term changes, some are already making plans as to what their priorities will be when coronavirus is behind them.

Marketers can expect that business and consumer habits may well be altered entirely, but in the very least the value of search and data will continue to be vital. In order to remain agile and competitive in the markets of tomorrow, it’s likely to become even more important.

The post Coronavirus and the paid search sector: How businesses are gearing up to come out the other side appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

Source:: searchenginewatch.com

Four tips to immediately improve your site speed

As a small business owner, the speed at which your website loads may not be at the top of your list of concerns. However, site speed can actually be the difference between you gaining or losing a customer.

Think about it. We’ve all had the experience of clicking a link to a site, only to find it taking a few seconds too long to load, leading us to visit another site instead. In fact, 47% of consumers expect a site to load in two seconds or less for desktop. If a site takes longer than three seconds to load 53% of mobile users choose to abandon.

And on top of that, page load speed is one of the critical factors that determine where your site ranks on SERPs. Google’s ranking algorithm uses site speed as a signal, making it even more important that your site loads quickly.

At GoDaddy, we think about all the ways to make sure your online presence is successful, big and small, and kept site speed top of mind when building websites + marketing. According to IsYourHostFastYet.com, a personal site created by a Google engineer, our newly improved platform offers the fastest page load speed on both mobile and desktop devices.

But even without websites + marketing, there are things you can do to make your site load faster. Start by using an open-source tool like Google Lighthouse to measure your current site speed, then assess the different factors that could be slowing down your load time.

Next, distinguish which of these factors you’d like to change. I’ve included a few tips to help improve your site’s speed below:

1. Less is more

Overloading your site with various media assets like photos, videos, and oversized files can be a determining factor in how fast your site operates. Determine what is unnecessary or no longer relevant on each page and remove them to help your server break through the clutter and make your site faster.

2. Optimize your images

Images can make up as much as 21% of the overall weight of your webpage, effectively causing it to become sluggish. Reduce the file size of your images to improve site speed by utilizing less bandwidth and storage on your network’s server. Check out this article to understand and implement image optimization for your site.

3. Enable caching

By enabling browser and CDN caching, users visiting your site will have certain information such as images, Cascading Style Sheets (CSS), and media files temporarily saved, allowing your web page to load faster the next time they visit your site. Cached items should be stored for as long as it makes sense. For instance, third party items such as ads or widgets typically only last a day while static items such as images are stored for at least a week.

4. Location matters

Living in a digital world allows us to easily access content globally in a matter of seconds, so the physical location of your hosting server doesn’t seem like a big deal. However, server location actually has a direct impact on site performance for the end-user. Regardless of how far internet advances have come, data still has to physically travel to a new destination. Using a Content Delivery Network (CDN) will shorten the delivery time for your customer. CDN’s hold copies of your website assets on a local server near your customer, rather than sending data from your home server to theirs, making their page load faster.

Overall, having a fast loading site helps create a positive user experience for your customers. While it may not be the sole reason they choose to frequent your site, it will enhance their overall experience, causing your site to get more traffic and make more sales. There are various factors that contribute to having a high performing site. Consider which ones make the most sense for your business as a few small tweaks can greatly impact your online success.

Aaron Silvas is Software Architect at GoDaddy.

The post Four tips to immediately improve your site speed appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

Source:: searchenginewatch.com

5 Stars: 20+ Tips to Invigorate Your B2B Marketing Using Testimonials & Reviews

Hand holding one of five white stars image.

Hand holding one of five white stars image.

What’s in a review?

With the right client testimonials and customer reviews, B2B brands can increase trust and loyalty in uncertain times while strengthening existing connections and fostering new ones. Your brand may even be sitting on a goldmine of evergreen trust-building user-generated content.

Let’s take a look at 20+ tips to invigorate and expand your B2B marketing toolkit with a smart customer review and testimonial strategy.

Making The Statistical Case For Testimonials & Reviews

With some surveys showing that 90 percent of adult Internet users rely on reviews before making purchases, and others placing the figure even higher at nearly 99 percent, it’s important for B2B brands to make sure they feature the reviews and testimonials their customers have taken the time to write and share online.

Despite their unique power to build brand trust, just 43 percent of B2B businesses use reviews in their marketing toolkit.

Conversion rates can skyrocket by as much as 270 percent when online reviews are smartly incorporated, however, as shown in the Website Builder Expert data below.

Website Builder Expert Image

Some 30 percent of businesses said that customer reviews had a major impact on their overall success, and just over 26 percent said reviews also had a major impact on profitability, as shown in the following chart from a recent ZenBusiness survey.

ZenBusiness Chart

The same survey revealed that 52.2 percent of older businesses monitor online reviews weekly and 18.5 percent do so daily, while 47 percent of newer firms monitor weekly, and 39.3 percent monitor daily, suggesting that more established brands have settled into a weekly cadence, while younger firms tend to keep a more frequent watch over reviews.

Businesses tend to monitor a multitude of online review platforms for reviews, with 67.6 percent using Google, 55.1 percent Facebook, and 46.3 percent Yelp, followed by others as shown below.

ZenBusiness Chart

Only 11.9 percent of businesses said that they respond to every review left for them, while 60 percent said that they interact with either some or most reviews they receive, the same survey noted.

Younger B2B buyers are increasingly looking for reviews and testimonials to be delivered to them in methods that differ from those of older buyers, creating an opportunity for some brands looking to connect with younger audiences.

“Sixty-one percent of Millennial buyer decisions are influenced by user reviews that they trust,” Brian Fanzo recently noted in “Meet The Millennials: How Marketers Can Effectively Connect With The New B2B Buyer,” urging smart B2B marketers to not rely solely on traditional websites, and to instead “bring the testimonials — the trusted user reviews — to the buyer.”

Brian was one of the 13 B2B social media marketing leaders offering trends and predictions in our „13 Top B2B Social Media Marketing Trends & Predictions for 2020.“

His sentiments are largely echoed in report data recently examined by Social Media Today.

[bctt tweet=““In 2020 social media marketing will shift from vanity metrics to transparent and authentic channels to focus on real-time customer engagement.” @iSocialFanz“ username=“toprank“]

You May Already Have a Goldmine of Testimonials

Many established B2B brands may already have a fantastic cache of glowing testimonials from clients, however because some firms don’t have any established practice for gathering, collecting, and most importantly utilizing them in marketing efforts, they remain mostly hidden.

Gathering existing reviews and testimonials can be a great way to get new insight into your most loyal customers, unearth any points of customer dissatisfaction, and to build new mechanisms for improving communication with your customers.

“Your offerings should be so attractive to your loyalists that they have no reason to look elsewhere for additional products or services,” Rob Markey wrote in an insightful Harvard Business Review look at how to “Make It Easier for Happy Customers to Buy More.”

Client and customer kudos today comes from more channels than ever, which can make it challenging to gather and compile into a dedicated testimonials file. A list of only a few of the digital channels to search for possible existing testimonials includes:

  • Email Correspondence
  • Online Collaboration Tool Chat History
  • Private Social Media Posts
  • Public Social Media Posts
  • Mobile Device Text Message History
  • Voicemail Transcripts

Whether it’s each quarter, weekly, or every day, taking the time to mine testimonials from each of the channels your firm user is a great way to unearth potentially powerful customer and client testimonials.

Tactfully encouraging clients to consider leaving a review or testimonial is a nuanced process best customized on a per-client basis, however there are also some universal methods to help guide a good strategy, such as those outlined in “14 Proven Ways to Encourage Customers to Write Reviews.”

Social media and search engine firms have also done their part to try boosting the visibility of customer reviews, such as Google adding highlighted business reviews in Google Posts.

[bctt tweet=““Whether it’s each quarter, weekly, or every day, taking the time to mine testimonials from each of the channels your firm user is a great way to unearth potentially powerful customer and client testimonials.” — Lane R. Ellis @lanerellis“ username=“toprank“]

Testimonials & Reviews Increase Trust & Loyalty

Trust is paramount as B2B marketers seek to attract, engage, and convert new clients, and testimonials and reviews from satisfied existing customers are among the most powerful forms of messaging when it comes to earning the business of potential new clients.

It’s no secret that for many years study after study has shown that testimonials and reviews hold the power to build trust, and ultimately help persuade people to engage your company’s services.

Some 90 percent of B2B buyers said that they are more likely to complete a purchase after seeing a positive review.

[bctt tweet=““High rates of loyalty are a huge asset in business. They provide a necessary foundation for profitable growth.” — Rob Markey @rgmarkey“ username=“toprank“]

The earned power of trust becomes even more apparent when paired with survey data showing that globally 54 percent of consumers would still buy from a brand even after a negative product experience if they felt that a firm hadn’t broken trust.

When trust has been lost, however, some 82 percent said that they would not purchase again from the brand, highlighting the importance of building brand trust — something reviews and testimonials excel at.

Testimonials & Reviews Strengthen Existing Connections & Foster New Ones

Testimonials and reviews showcase the ability of your business to provide best-answer solutions so well that people take the time to personally write appreciative messages sharing their gratitude.

Testimonials and reviews also take good business partnerships and strengthen them, and help bring B2B relationships to new levels of commitment and trust.

62 percent of consumers leave positive reviews in order to help others in making buying decisions, while 52 percent say they leave negative reviews to warn others, as shown below.

Website Builder Expert Image

The connections forged through testimonials and reviews makes the relationship between your business and your clients stronger, and also serve as an important and visible example for potential new clients who are looking for information about your company.

More firms are also making it easy for customers to leave video feedback, such as a method Airbnb has implemented that mimics the ease of use users have come to expect for sharing videos on YouTube or Instagram.

The video review format has led some customers to share lengthier and more precise feedback, which in turn allows businesses greater insight into their customers.

“Videos can be richly emotional — offering the real voice and face of the customer. That emotion, transmitted directly to front-line employees and leaders, often generates the sort of empathy that inspires and motivates thoughtful action,” Rob Markey has noted.

By making video reviews a simple and optional part of customer feedback surveys, brands can have the best of both traditional text-based input and — for those who choose — the advantages of video reviews.

“If they say yes, then we’ve incorporated a video widget into the survey where they can just turn the camera on on their phone or computer and leave a response,” Airbnb customer insights manager Raj Sivasubramanian has said.

“The customers that chose that option really embraced it. And we actually had a lot of customers tell us in the video, ‘This is really cool. I love the fact that I can do this,’” Sivasubramanian added.

B2B firms can also utilize more formal video testimonials into their feedback efforts, as Business 2 Community explored in a helpful how-to guide, “How to Shoot the Perfect Video Testimonial.

[bctt tweet=““Testimonials and reviews take good business partnerships and strengthen them, and help bring B2B relationships to new levels of commitment and trust.” — Lane R. Ellis @lanerellis“ username=“toprank“]

The Challenge of Combating Inauthentic Reviews

While no firm wants poor reviews, they are nonetheless important in their own way to consumers. 62 percent of U.S. consumers found that negative reviews were just as important as positive ones when it came time to make purchasing decisions.

Customers have grown to be suspicious of businesses that have conspicuously uniform five-star reviews, however, and more now say that they look to utilize multiple sources of reviews when researching a firm.

Despite this, 65 percent of U.S. adult consumers believe the reviews they read are generally accurate, however.

Recent survey data has also shown that 55 percent of consumers see the biggest red flag with reviews that use the same wording, while 35 percent view an overwhelming number of positive reviews to be indicative of inauthentic reviews, as shown below.

Bazaarvoice Chart

Testimonials & Reviews Are Evergreen

Most testimonials focus on the things that a client or customer loved about working with your team, and these are also largely the type of praise that isn’t particularly directed at a specific time, which makes testimonials excellent sources of evergreen content that can often remain relevant and convincing for years.

HubSpot has compiled an extensive list of good examples of testimonial pages that can serve as inspiration, in Lindsay Kolowich’s “14 Testimonial Page Examples You’ll Want to Copy,” showing how to implement quotes, video, audio, case study, customer interview and other types of testimonials.

To help you along your path to building more powerful testimonials and reviews into your current strategy, or to begin implementing your first such plan, here are several additional recent resources that have been published:

Reinvigorate Your B2B Marketing Testimonial Strategy

We hope this introductory look at the power of client testimonials and customer reviews to help B2B brands boost trust and loyalty and strengthen connections has been helpful, and that the tips and statistics we’ve shared will help make your marketing testimonial strategy more robust and successful.

The post 5 Stars: 20+ Tips to Invigorate Your B2B Marketing Using Testimonials & Reviews appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

Source:: toprankblog.com

Guide to get started with your ecommerce business

In a continued effort to slow the spread of COVID-19, local and state governments have issued orders for nonessential businesses and establishments to close their doors. These orders, combined with the lack of consumers making their way into physical stores, have had a major impact on small businesses across the country. Many brick-and-mortar small businesses have determined the only way to stay open and serve customers is to transition operations to online ecommerce business, which is something several businesses will do for the first time.

For brick-and-mortar businesses suddenly struggling to figure out how to bring their stores online during this unprecedented time, there are several key considerations. Here are six steps that can be taken to quickly establish an ecommerce business presence and continue reaching customers.

1. Set up an online platform

The first step for any business owner considering ecommerce is to research the platforms available to determine which best fits the needs of your business and your budget. There are a number of cost-efficient ecommerce providers that allow small businesses to get up and running in a matter of minutes. You can check out a full list of the ecommerce providers Avalara works with.

When evaluating ecommerce platforms, there are a number of factors to consider, including multiplatform operations, shipping and fulfillment features, security measures, and compliance capabilities. If your business is transitioning to online for the first time, simplicity in functionality both on the back end and customer-facing features will likely be top of mind. Most ecommerce platform providers have several different plans designed to best fit your business. A good rule of thumb when deciding which plan is best for you is to keep in mind the following:

  • How many products do you plan on selling? If you’re not planning to sell a lot of products, a simpler plan with lower rates may be suitable. There is no product limit for many providers‘ main plans.
  • What features do you need? If you’re looking to have a site that enables customers to view your products and make purchases, a simpler plan is likely the best fit. However, many businesses find it’s beneficial to include additional features that contribute to positive customer experiences, like customer loyalty plans, abandoned cart recovery, and more.

Note that during this time, your business may not have the luxury of conducting extensive research on multiple platforms, and instead may need to rely on something that works now. Fortunately, there are providers that offer out-of-the-box functionality that will enable you to get your basic store up and running quickly.

“For business owners who have invested their energy into building lasting physical storefronts, the process of moving online doesn’t have to be intimidating, even when the future of your brand relies on your ability to launch and drive online sales. Ecommerce platforms, like BigCommerce, are designed with out-of-the-box functionality and application integrations to ensure that even the most novice sellers can get their stores online quickly, and offer the tools to help their business grow now and for years to come. In these uncertain times, having an online presence is an essential way to stay connected to your customers and continue driving revenue. While it may feel overwhelming to move online so quickly, this an easy business decision that will pay long-lasting dividends.”

— Meghan Stabler, VP of Product Marketing and Communications, BigCommerce

Once you’ve identified a platform that works best for you, the next step is to register your domain name and get your account set up — all of which can be done from any connected device. Once you’re in, it’s time to start customizing the features of your website, which begins in step #2.

2. Determine which products you’ll sell online

Given the necessary timeliness of your efforts to transition store functions to ecommerce, it’s important to prioritize which products you’ll be selling online, so your most profitable and in-demand products are available for purchase as you launch your website. It can feel like you need to have every product in your store available immediately, but by prioritizing the most popular products first, you can get your online operations up and running then begin fulfilling orders while adding additional inventory.

3. Diversify your payment methods

Setting up your accepted payment methods is a crucial part of converting a browser into a buyer. Consider which payment methods are the most commonly used and accommodate the largest number of customers. Fortunately, most ecommerce providers offer integrations with the most common payment methods like Visa, Mastercard, PayPal, Apple Pay, and more. If you’re still unsure of which payment methods you’ll need to accept, a good rule of thumb is to incorporate the same payment methods you offer through your in-store point-of-sale system.

4. Set up your shipping and returns functions

Once you’ve outlined your products and set up payment methods, the next step is to ensure you can get products to customers. Shipping, fulfillment, and returns can be a major roadblock for many small businesses making the transition from brick-and-mortar to online. A key feature that should be included in your ecommerce platform capabilities is shipping options, including drop shipping, printable shipping labels, and pre-setup shipping providers.

If you’re fulfilling orders yourself, consider using a shipping app like ShipStation, which helps automate shipping for merchants of all sizes, and offers small businesses discounted shipping rates with USPS, UPS, and FedEx.

If you’re concerned about how to fulfill orders or that your current warehouse might be unable to fulfill orders, consider using an outsourced provider, like ShipBob, which processes orders for thousands of ecommerce brands. It’s also worth pointing out that your storefront can serve as a temporary fulfillment center during this time: It serves the dual benefit of getting the product to your customers quickly while simultaneously ensuring all that in-store inventory doesn’t go to waste. This is a model that works quite successfully for big-box retailers like Target.

Shipping costs are often something brick-and-mortar retailers haven’t had to consider when it comes to pricing, so be mindful of a product’s shipping cost and be sure it’s clearly displayed in the shopping cart. Be transparent about shipping costs throughout the shopping experience and avoid the risk of having customers abandon their cart if they discover a shipping cost “gotcha” at checkout.

5. Plan your online marketing strategy with social media

Perhaps one of the most important steps in this transition is communicating how your business will now be selling. This is where social media posts and advertising come into play to be certain that customers are in the know about your online strategy. On the upside, most brick-and-mortar shops are already using social media to market to their customers. However, it’s critical that businesses over-communicate the change in operations to ensure regular customers are aware of the new selling channel, and to capitalize on the expanded customer audience you can now reach.

Social media can be used to promote your new online presence and as a platform to advocate for your business’s distinguishing factors and unique value-add. Use this opportunity to tell your story and highlight the characteristics that make your small business stand out to consumers. Not only are consumers turning to social media to learn where they can continue making regular purchases during this time, but they’re especially inclined to support small businesses.

Another option, when using social media, is to go beyond your marketing efforts and consider using social selling platforms as a complement to your newly formed online store. In today’s social network-driven society, social media platforms are no longer just an avenue to increase brand awareness, but an opportunity to connect with customers and make sales in the social threads customers are already sifting through.

Comment selling platforms, like CommentSold, are blending content and commerce to convert social media comments into sales and automatically invoice shoppers from their social media timelines. By leveraging this method of “headless commerce”, or separating the front end and back end of an ecommerce application, businesses can easily combine their social media marketing and online selling for quick sales conversions and limited friction throughout the browsing and shopping experience. Through social selling capabilities, businesses can save customers the time they would otherwise have to spend sifting through websites to find the items that best fit their wants and needs.

“Captivating shoppers online can be increasingly difficult as more businesses turn to online during this time, so reaching customers where they are is more important than ever before. Social selling platforms allow retailers to connect directly with customers via live video and product content on Facebook and Instagram. Creative tools, like instant comment purchasing and real-time live sales events, can help retailers grab and keep their online customers‘ attention.”

— Andy Smith, COO, CommentSold

6. Preview, test, and publish your store

The final step to bringing your store online is to ensure every function of your site is operational. Double-check each function by asking yourself these questions:

  • Does my checkout work? Make sure orders work across all payment methods, your shipping options and charges are correct and visible, the items and price in your cart are correct. Check if discounts/promotions apply correctly and tax is calculated once shoppers enter their location. While often overlooked, ensuring sales tax is calculated correctly in real-time is critical to maintaining a positive shopping experience, and also helps prevent your business from being at risk of tax audits down the road.
  • Is the content presented in a professional manner? Proofread all copy and double-check that spelling and grammar are correct across the website. It’s also important to check images, videos, and other forms of multimedia across platforms to make sure they don’t interfere with the customer experience.
  • Does my store work on various channels and internet browsers? Consumers want to access products online whenever they choose from whatever device they are on. Testing your online site for functionality across channels is important to ensure that you’re not turning away potential customers who are unable to access your site.

At a time when more and more small businesses are at risk of closing their doors due to uncontrollable circumstances, ecommerce provides a viable alternative that, if executed on quickly and decisively, allows business owners to keep their operations up and running. Small businesses can take advantage of this unexpected time to explore new selling opportunities and ways to further serve their customers — something they might have otherwise not had the opportunity to do. Fortunately, the technology that exists today allows even the smallest of businesses to quickly ramp up online operations, reaching a broader audience, and incorporating all the necessary functions needed to provide a comprehensive, frictionless online shopping experience.

Content courtesy of Avalara.

Feel free to leave your questions and experiences in the comments section below.

The post Guide to get started with your ecommerce business appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

Source:: searchenginewatch.com