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Your 2015 eStore Christmas Promotion Checklist

Your 2015 eStore Christmas Promotion Checklist

Your 2015 eStore Christmas Promotion Checklist

According to this website, there are 119 sleeps until Christmas!!

That's only 17 weeks!

Which means that all you eTailers have even less time to prepare your eStore for the Christmas/Holiday Sale Rush!

The time to start planning is NOW!

There are promotions to decide, marketing campaigns to prepare, and don't even get me started on which wrapping paper to use this year.

We've put together a nice check-list to help you to prepare for your best Christmas Season yet.

#1: Review Last Year

The very first thing you'll want to do is to review the performance of last year's sale.

Undoubtedly, there were some parts that went very well, and other parts that fizzled for one reason or another.

Take this time to identify the positives and the negatives from last year.

Anything you did that was worth repeating, note it down and add it into your 2015 strategy. And the mistakes that you don't want to repeat, create contingency plans to ensure they don't get repeated.

Then after reviewing your own performance, the next step is to review your competitors.

Look at how they approached the silly season sale. Are there any lessons to be learnt from mistakes they made? Or some clever ideas that you can take some inspiration from?

#2: Check Your Sales Data

Have a look at your sales history for the year.

Identify your top customers, because you'll want to specifically target them to boost your sales, as well as offer them a little reward incentive to butter them up as well.

Next, identify your top selling and poorest selling products for the year, and there are two reasons for this.

The first is to help you to select the products to feature in your promotions.

The second is to help identify any possible issues for the performance of your poorest selling products. Is there a stand-out reason why these particular products aren't selling as well?

Maybe the product description isn't informative enough, or the product images need improvement.

Take this opportunity to compare your poorer selling products against your best selling products and improve the content for your poorer sellers.

#3: Review our Twelve Steps to Successful Christmas eTailing

Hopefully you're already up-to-speed with our Twelve Steps to successful Christmas eTailing from last year, and they're already a part of your strategy.

If not, be sure to read them, as they are all still very relevant.

#4: Map out your marketing strategy

Now you want to plan your strategy - the theme of your campaign, the promotions you will offer, when you will start each promotion, and how long each promotion will run for.

Christmas is about rewards and gifts, and just generally being nice, so integrate this into the theme for your campaign.

Shoppers are always looking for the discounts, but think creatively about how customers can earn them, or earn further discounts.

Create some interaction between your business and your customers.

Perhaps a competition on social media could offer a higher discount on top of a regular discount. Or offer a special discount to your Facebook followers that are the most active in your community.

Stacking promotions to encourage sales at the start of the promotion is another effective strategy, offering multiple discounts/specials at the start of the sale period that drop off as the promotion progresses.

Without a doubt, you will also want to offer Free Shipping at some point during the promotion, if not for the entire sale period. Free Shipping will is always a major part of your customer's buying decisions, and is a common sales tactic by your competitors.

#5: Map out your content strategy

It's never a bad time to review and update your content, but now is a great opportunity to give your website content a good spring clean.

You've already decided on the theme for your marketing campaign, now to plan the areas of your website that will need to be updated to reflect your theme.

You may wish to re-write your product pages to be more appropriate to the occasion/theme, or to provide better descriptions that help the customer to make a purchase.

Fresh product images are always a good idea, and can also be used to add to the feel of your theme.

Then there is the banner images on the homepage that are going to draw and direct your customers to your featured specials. What marketing message will you want to display? Which products will you feature?

If you have a Blog or News section, prepare a plan for the articles that you will publish during the campaign. Plan dates will they be published, and decide on the images that be used in the articles.

#6: Map out your e-Mail campaigns

Now that you have your marketing strategy set out, it's time to plan your e-Mail campaigns.

Following on from Step 2, we recommend making two lists of subscribers - Your best customers, and your regular subscribers.

Plan to send a campaign to each list a week before your campaign starts, another at the start of the sale, then a third campaign a week or two before the sale ends, and lastly, a final days reminder.

List which products you will include, and write the content for each campaign, and again, decide on the images that be used.

Have everything prepared so that all that remains is the create each campaign and send them.

#7: Map out your social media campaigns

As always, you need to plan social media campaigns to support your marketing and e-Mail campaigns.

Plan out the posts for each of your social media accounts, and prepare the content for each post, and brainstorm the style and message of images that will need to be produced for each post.

You may also want to launch competitions especially for your social media channels to attract your followers.

Lastly, look at utilising Facebook Ads to target your followers, or new followers.

#8: Arrange for content to be produced early

Once you have everything planned and decided, the final step is to arrange for the content you aren't able to produce to be produced for you.

You really don't want to leave this until the last minute, the earlier you can get your designer onto your banners or images, the earlier they will be ready to launch your campaign and the less rush everyone will be in later in the year.



Need some Help? If you would like some help to get your Christmas Promotion into gear, Get in Touch. Or if you have some tips of your own that you'd like to share, join us on the iASP Central Facebook Page.



Further Reading:


How Much Is That Like There In The Window?

How Much Is That Like There In The Window?

How Much Is That Like There In The Window?

6 Steps to Better Social Media Campaign ROI

In our last blog article - How Much ROI Should Social Media ROI If Social Media Could ROI? - we considered what a reasonable expectation of return on investment (ROI) from social media is, from the point of view of a small business trying to build and grow their on-line social media community.

To quickly re-cap, we essentially concluded the expectation of a ROI on social media can be like the expectation of winning the lottery. Don't play the game expecting to win, play to be in the game.

Of course you shouldn't leave it all to chance.

Review and analyse the effectiveness of your activities to determine those that generate the most engagement and adapt your strategy to suit.

Counting the number of Likes and Re-tweets each post you publish receives will most likely only result in heartburn and ulcers, but that doesn't mean expecting a ROI for certain social media activities is insane, in fact it's very rational, especially when expectations are framed within the context of the following.

So, let's look at our 6 Steps to Better Social Media Campaign ROI:

Step #1: Set a Goal - What is the primary aim of the campaign? Are you aiming to increase your eStore sales during a promotion? Are you trying to collect new business leads?

Step #2: Define a conversion - What action or result will count as a 'hit'? Following the two examples above, a conversion may be a completed sale, or submission of a Contact Us form.

Step #3: Differentiate & Measure Conversions - If the goals you have set are similar to goals you have for your website, which they likely will be, you need to determine how you will differentiate conversions generated through your social media channels against conversions that were not generated through social media.

In the case of sales, it may be by counting the number of sales that used a particular promotional code that you only publish on your social media channels, or in the case of submitting a form, you may track submissions through a dedicated form or via a shared link that contains a variable. Depending on your analytics tools, you may be able to track visits to your website (or a particular page) that originated from social media websites that end with a completed sale or form submission.

Note: The iASP™ platform features a highly functional affiliate and referral tracking system that automatically tracks the source of visits, enquiries and sales.

Step #4: Calculate your return - How much was each conversion worth?

There are two methods you can use to determine this:

  1. Using data: Calculate the average total of the orders you received during the campaign (as per your tracking analytics). Or you can calculate the average lifetime value of the leads that you received over the campaign.
  2. Use a guesstimate: If you don't have enough historical data to help you, make an educated guess. For example, how much would you estimate to earn from your new customers? How much would you estimate customers spent?

Step #5: Calculate your investment - How much you spent on the campaign?

Your investment costs will be the total of things like:

  • How much it cost to plan, execute and manage the campaign.
  • How much it cost for graphic design.
  • How much it costs for the analytics tools you are using.
  • How much you paid to boost/promote/advertise your posts.

Step #6: Crunch the numbers - Now it's time to calculate your return on investment using the simple formula:

ROI = (Return - Investment) / Investment.


Summary:

Don't be disheartened by the results of any individual campaign, the key is to test and measure and evolve an approach that over time connects and engages with your audience.

Remember that social media can be very hit and miss. In our experience content generates engagement both above and below expectations.

The element that many people seem to overlook in social media analysis is mood and emotion. It changes from time to time in humans, and mood is very difficult to measure because it can be affected very quickly and very easily by factors so far removed that not even those affected couldn't tell they were being affected. For example, my football team just lost, so now I'm not in the mood to read a post I normally would.

The key to success is adaptation and experimentation.

Review your campaigns, try to identify why they did or didn't perform. Keep trying something different and comparing the results.



Resources:



How you ever calculated the ROI of a social media campaign you ran? How did you go? Let's discuss on our iASP Central Facebook Page, or Get in Touch.


Twelve Steps to successful Christmas eTailing

Twelve Steps to successful Christmas eTailing

Twelve Steps to successful Christmas eTailing

It's less than a month until Santa fires up the Reindeer and eTailers should be squarely focussed on the annual Christmas shopping frenzy that's about to begin.

Like a bear fresh from hibernation, the Christmas Shopper is browsing, looking to feed their appetite, searching for the best deals on the gifts that give the most.

To help get your eStore ready for the Christmas shopping rush, HCD is pleased to provide our 12 Steps to successful Christmas eTailing.

Skipping the menial "make sure you have a reliable website that can handle the increased traffic load", and the "get your mobile website up and running" advice (because as HCD clients, we know you have already completed those steps, but if not feel free to get in touch and we'll do our best to help)...

So, here's HCD's Twelve Steps to successful Christmas eTailing:


Step 1: Plan to create an experience

One thing the Christmas Shopper loves more than the joy of buying the perfect gift, is being swept up in the moment while they are doing it.

Think about how you can boost that emotional connection with the customer during their shopping experience, leaving them wanting to a). share their experience with others, and b). come back for more.


Step 2: Put up some decorations

Break out the box of decorations and go over your website to give it a fresh feel.
Some simple but effective ideas are to:

  • Create a visual impact - Update or modify images to attract attention and create a new look.
  • Rewrite product descriptions - Change the language in your content to suit the moment.
  • Fix or remove any broken links - Nothing will lose a Christmas Shopper faster than a broken link.
  • Review your Returns Policy - Create reassurance for the Christmas Shopper by highlighting any specific conditions for this time of the year, and make the policy page easy to find.
  • Create a special category - Make browsing easy for the Christmas Shopper by putting the hot items front and center.
  • Create a Gift Purchasing Guide - Not only does a guide help the Christmas Shopper make a decision, it adds to the shopping experience.

Step 3: Offer Gift Wrapping / Gift Cards

Take away some of the stress for the Christmas Shopper by providing the peace-of-mind in knowing that the hard part of gift giving (wrapping it) is taken care of.

Create a lasting positive experience by going above and beyond expectations. A little effort can go a long way in this respect.


Step 4: Create a Landing Page

Create a Christmas themed landing page on your website to direct the Christmas Shoppers.

Keep it simple, with a clear call-to-action directives that guide customers onto where they need to go.


Step 5: Install a Live Chat plugin

Unlike real stores, eStores can lack that real-time enquiry and resolution that the Christmas Shopper often relies upon.

Adding a Live Chat feature to your website overcomes this, and allows your staff to answer customer queries while they are at your eStore, ready to buy.


Step 6: Entice the Early Shopper with Promotion Codes

The Early Christmas Shopper is typically calm, but has keener senses to sniff out the best bargains and can afford to be choosy.

Offer an early bird special at the start of the promotion to attract their attention, and reward them for being there at the start.


Step 7: Entice the Late Shopper with Last Minute Offers

The Late Christmas Shopper is usually in a panicked state, franticly searching for any deals that are still available.

Have a refreshing offer on hand to attract them over and satisfy their appetite.


Step 8: Sing your Promotion Loudly

Shout out frequently (but not aggressively) with newsletters to the Christmas Shopper to let them know what you have on offer! Your campaigns should run in parallel with the phases of your promotion:

  • Send a personalised email to loyal customers, with a special incentive just for them.
  • Advise Shoppers of your upcoming promotion start date. Add tips to help in their preparation.
  • Advise Shoppers that the promotion has started.
  • Advise Shoppers that the promotion has reached the middle, offer more incentives.
  • Advise Shoppers that the promotion is about to come to a end (just 1 week to go!!).
  • Advise Shoppers that the promotion ends tomorrow.

Step 9: Create a buzz on Social Media

Support your email campaigns with a social media campaign on your selected channels. You could also run a competition around your promotion to add extra buzz and/or incentive.

Keep your audience in the loop about your promotion's progress, and share the mood and festivities to add that personal touch.


Step 10: Give something back

Help the Christmas Shopper get into the festive spirit with the incentive of receiving something in return for their shopping efforts.

Charitable donations are a good additional incentive to offer during the festive time of the year to create a warm, fuzzy feeling of goodwill.

Small freebie items for the Christmas Shopper also work. And nothing works better than a little, unexpected surprise!


Step 11: Communicate the delivery process

Keep the Christmas Shopper in the loop by letting them know when their order is being processed, when their order is being packed, when it has been shipped, and when they can expect delivery.

The clearer the communication, the happier the Shopper.


Step 12: Follow up with post-Christmas rewards and opportunities

The day after Christmas is, of course, when the Christmas Shopper is ready to buy more. Entice your Christmas Shoppers to return by offering rewards or discounts that can be redeemed after Christmas, or even for a January promotion.


Just have some fun!

Your Christmas Promotion needn't be as stressful as your Christmas shopping.

With a little planning, and well-timed execution, your promotion should run as smoothly as Christmas at Grandma's house.

Spread the joy, share the love, and feed your Christmas Shoppers a feast they'll want to come back for.


Need some Help? If you would like some help to get your Christmas Promotion into gear, Get in Touch. Or if you have some preparation advice of your own that you think we missed, share them with us on the iASP Central Facebook Page.


5 Steps Towards Joining International Social Media

5 Steps Towards Joining International Social Media

5 Steps Towards Joining International Social Media

As the saying goes: business is booming somewhere, you just have to find it.

The Internet has removed many barriers to International business, allowing trade virtually anywhere and at any time and Social media provides business with platforms to communicate and interact with customers like never before.

So it makes sense that if you are going to trade internationally, your business should also socialise internationally.

Global Social Media Communities

In an article published just last year, eMarketer estimates that by 2017, 2.33 billion people will use social media networks around the world.

While Facebook and Twitter are household names in Australia, other countries have developed their own on-line communities.

China, for example, banned websites like Facebook and Twitter, yet nearly half the population are active on their local social media networks. That's over half a billion users that can't be reached through Facebook.

Other countries also have smaller social media networks that are popular amongst niche groups of people, for example Google+ in the United States.

With a little planning and preparation, new business opportunities can be created by branching out into social media communities that would typically be overlooked.

The 5 Steps to Get There

Planning and executing a global Social Media Strategy for an international target audience is very similar to planning and executing a Social Media Strategy for a local audience.

There are 5 steps to follow before joining any international social media network (with a few points to consider along the way):


  1. Select your target country and target audience.

    Points to Consider:

    • What language will you communicate in?

      Targeting countries that speak English will be easier, but don't dismiss countries that speak a foreign language just for that reason. There are many translation services that can be used, such as Google Translate, or see it as an opportunity to learn a new language.

    • What cultural differences should you be aware of?

      The last thing you want to do is offend your audience, so take the time to learn what is acceptable, and what is not. You don't want to get caught out giving the O.K sign when it doesn't mean O.K in a different language.

  2. Identify and join the networks used most frequently by that target audience.

    Points to Consider:

    • How does the audience use a particular social media platform?

      Take the time to learn how your selected audience use and connect on their preferred platform. For example, is it professionals networking, is it a forum style platform, or is it used like Facebook?

    • Individual or combined social media accounts?

      Think about whether you will make one account and post all content from it or make different local accounts for each country you are targeting. It might help to hire a social media manager who will be able to keep track of multiple accounts and respond to queries on all of them.

  3. Create and share content that appeals to that target audience.

    Points to Consider:

    • Individual or shared content?

      Different audiences will respond to different content. You can maintain consistency by sharing the same content across audiences, but ideally, create content that is tailored for your individual audience tastes.

  4. Engage and communicate with the target audience regularly.

    Points to Consider:

    • How will you manage the different time zones?

      Social Media requires interaction - joining conversations, replying to comments, and reacting to situations as they unfold. How will you business manage these events outside of opening hours?

  5. Measure progress. Refine and repeat.

    Points to Consider:

    • How will you measure progress?

      Just as you are tracking and measuring your progress on local social media platforms, how will you manage your key performance indicators on other social platforms?

You could combine several countries into one strategy and target a shared audience; or you could have individual strategies for each country, allowing you to target individual audiences with greater focus.

Get Out There, Be Seen, Say Hello

While creating a presence on social media networks in other countries might not result in direct sales immediately, it will create brand recognition and allow you to build reputation in new markets.

Be seen enough, and before too long, people will start to consider your products and services in their buying decisions.

You might not think that your product will sell in other countries, but it could just as easily become the next must-have craze that your local customers didn't catch on to.



Further Resources:



Are you planning to go social in other countries? Share your strategy tips with us on the iASP Central Facebook Page, or Get in Touch.


Top Authoring Tips to Attract, Captivate and Impress

Top Authoring Tips to Attract, Captivate and Impress

Top Authoring Tips to Attract, Captivate and Impress

In a world where more content is generated every day than in all of history up until just a few years ago, content authors must not only instanty grab attention, but maintain engagement for at least long enough to successfully deliver their message.

At Hub Communications Digital content is a big part of our daily life and we've learned a thing or two about writing engaging content for your website.

  1. Picture Web Readers as Wild Animals

    In the article Information Foraging: Why Google Makes People Leave Your Site Faster, Jakob Nielsen at the Nielsen Norman Group likens readers to 'wild animals gathering food' who are looking for the 'maximum benefit for minimum effort' while searching the Web for information.

    Jacob describes the term 'Information Foraging' as the process of hunting for information and 'Information Scent' as the process of tracking or following the trail to the information they are hunting for.

    By considering this analogy, writing with the informavore's navigation behaviour in mind, you will improve the chances of catching the reader.


  2. Spend Time on the Headline

    The headline is the most important part of the article.

    Authors tend to focus more on the body of the article, putting a simple headline or title at the top. However, for the reader, the headline is their first sniff of the information scent.

    Typically on the web links to articles are the headline, which the reader uses to determine the relevance to their search for information.

    Headlines must inform the reader of the subject of the article, arouse their curiosity, encourage them to continue reading and be short and memorable, all in one line.

    While there is no perfect formula, there is evidence that six worded headlines have been found to be the most effective.


  3. Use Simple Language

    Writing for the Internet is very similar to writing for a newspaper or a magazine. The use of abstruse (hard to understand) words that are not part of everyday language will distract the reader (as just demonstrated).

    Even if you include hyperlinks to the definition of words that you have used, the simple act of wondering what a particular word or sentence means can distract the reader and break the flow of their reading.

    Unless your audience are academics looking for peer-reviewed journals, your readers will quickly lose interest and find something easier to read.


  4. Follow the Inverted Pyramid Style of Writing

    A popular technique among journalists is the inverted pyramid writing style - putting the most important information at the top of the article and expanding upon the idea as you move down.

    Try to imagine your average reader as someone who is late for work in the morning, but really wants to know what is in your article, and write your copy accordingly.

    Include the most important information in your opening paragraphs instead of having the reader go through an entire page.


  5. Pick Your Key Words

    Writing for the Internet is not just about writing interesting copy. You must also make sure that your content is search engine friendly.

    As an author, you need to consider the keywords of the topic you are writing about, and incorporate them into your writing to give your content the greatest visibility on the web.

    Some forethought is important however, as some search engines penalise the misuse of keywords, such as using unqualified or unrelated keywords, or using them too frequently.


  6. Write for Easy Flow Reading

    Write content that can be skimmed through quickly whilst still delivering the important details easily.

    Readers want the answer to their question immediately, so give it to them and make it clear, but reward those that take the time to read deeper by expanding upon what the reader would otherwise take away just from skim-reading.

    Stick to a single idea per paragraph or use bullet points to separate out the ideas in long paragraphs.


  7. Write Accurate Information

    One of the most important aims for any author must be the use of accurate information.

    Don't underestimate the ability of your readers to independently verify claims made by you in your article. Only provide them with well researched and factual content.

    If you learn that information in an old article has become incorrect, add a correction into the article or write a new article with up-to-date information.


  8. Make Sharing the Article Easy

    While following the steps above will make a tasty article for the 'informavore', making the article easy to share will add the cherry on top.

    Add tools to allow readers to easily quote paragraphs of text from your article and post to their social media platform of choice. Provide the means for the reader to easily create a link to your article, or e-Mail the link to a friend.


In Summary

While writing for the web might be different from writing a book, or an essay; with continuous practice, authoring web content can become as easy as catching fish in a tank.

Keep the above points in mind when writing your next article and you are on your way to creating quality content for your website.



Further Information:



Got Your Own Writing Tips? Share them with us on the iASP Central Facebook Page, or Get in Touch.