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The Benefits of eCommerce

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The post The Benefits of eCommerce appeared first on HostGator Blog. You know you definitely want to be an entrepreneur. You’ve been dreaming about running your own business since you were a kid.  But you haven’t totally worked out the details of what it will look like. You have a lot of decisions to make—there are many different types of businesses out there.  A large and lucrative category you’ll definitely want to consider is eCommerce. eCommerce is any buying and selling that happens online. Whether it’s of goods or services, to people or other businesses—if a transaction happens online, it counts as eCommerce.  It’s a broad category and one that’s been growing in popularity since the option of buying things online first became available. Just think about how many of the recent purchases you made happened on a website.   The future of eCommerce is bright and it gives both consumers and business owners plenty to like.  10 Benefits of eCommerce for Business Owners There are a few key reasons new entrepreneurs may want to go with an online business when starting out.  1. eCommerce has lower upfront costs. Traditionally, the biggest barrier to entry for new business owners has been the cost. Starting a new business requires an investment. And if you’ll be renting a storefront, stocking it, and hiring staff to be present every time it’s open, you’re looking at a big investment.  For many new business owners, it’s even possible to start an eCommerce business using your own savings. If your plans are a bit more ambitious, you may need to take out a small loan. But either way, the amount of risk you’re taking on is far less than with a brick-and-mortar business.  But full disclosure—starting an eCommerce business is also far from free. You still have to invest in web hosting, ecommerce software, and a domain name as a bare minimum.  You’ll also likely want to hire an experienced professional to help with your branding, SEO (search engine optimization), and other online marketing tactics to help you get off the ground. And hiring the services of a lawyer and accountant will be important to make sure you’re covering all your bases when it comes to taxes and the law. But even after you implement all those things, the amount you’ll spend comes out to far less than the cost of real estate and full-time staff.  2.  You can run your business from home. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the average worker in the United States spends over 26 minutes commuting to work—each way. That’s nearly a full hour each day.  Running your own business gives you freedom in a lot of ways. And for eCommerce businesses, one of the freedoms many entrepreneurs value most is the freedom from that daily commute. When running an eCommerce business, you can do most of your work from the couch in your pajamas if you so choose. You can run your errands during off-hours, when everyone else is in the office. And you can fit household chores, childcare duties, hobbies, and exercise into your day when they make the most sense. You’re not beholden to someone else’s expectations of “office hours.” And if you choose to extend the ability to work from home to any people you hire, they’ll enjoy the same benefits. And you’ll save money on the cost of office space as well.  3. Building an eCommerce website can be fast and easy. Building a website used to involve either learning coding and web design yourself, or hiring someone that did. While many eCommerce businesses still choose to go this route—and hiring someone makes sense if what you want in a website is specific or complex—it’s no longer required.  With the advent of eCommerce website builders, anyone can learn how to start an online store, regardless of their level of skill. eCommerce website builders provide pre-designed templates combined with intuitive features like drag-and-drop functionality that make building a website fast and easy. And as they’ve become more commonly available, the cost of investing in one is now affordable for even small businesses with limited budgets.   Build a site that will provide a positive online shopping experience for your customers. Make your site compelling and simple to use to attract new users to it.   4. There are a lot of types of eCommerce businesses. The impact of eCommerce on retail has been significant. Today, it’s a huge category that covers various business types. Most things you can buy, you can now buy online. Anyone still figuring out what their eCommerce business will be has a lot of choice.   Some of the common options available are: Setting up a small business to sell your crafts or art onlineSelling services online, such as consulting, copywriting, and even telemedicine (if you’re a doctor—don’t try that one if you’re not)Sourcing products from manufacturing companies and selling them through your own website and/or online marketplacesUsing dropshipping to sell products without the cost of work storage and fulfillmentBuilding an infopreneur business that sells information products like courses and tutorialsDeveloping an online product such as software or a mobile app to sell Different types of eCommerce businesses will involve different types of work, skills, and investment to get started. Do your research to figure out which one makes the most sense for the knowledge, skills, and amount of initial investment you plan to put in. 5. You tap into a larger customer base. For brick-and-mortar businesses, the customer base is limited to those in a particular geographic area.  eCommerce businesses can sell to customers anywhere you’re willing to ship. That immediately opens up more opportunities for finding customers in your target audience, and growing your customer base over time. This is particularly a benefit for any eCommerce business selling a niche product. In the past, a person would have a harder time building a business around their quirky bookends or high-end pet food. Even though there were people that might want those products somewhere, finding those customers was a lot harder.  Now, if you build a good website that targets the terms those people are searching, they’ll find you.  6. You can hire employees from anywhere. If you’re starting small, you may not need to hire anybody else right away. But if your business grows, you’ll want to bring on staff or hire consultants to help with tasks like marketing, fulfillment, customer service, and tech support. Good employees are a big part of running a growing business successfully.  With virtual communication tools like Slack and Zoom available, much of the work of eCommerce can be done remotely. That means you’re not limited to hiring people that live in your community. You can find the best person for the job, no matter where they live.  7. You can sell 24/7, without having to be on full time. Most brick-and-mortar stores have set hours. During the time they’re closed, if someone wants to buy a product, the customer’s out of luck and the store loses a sale.  eCommerce websites, however, are accessible at any time of day. If your customer realizes they need something you sell at midnight on a Monday, they can still place that order. You can make sales any time of day, any day of the week, without having to be available yourself or pay staff to be there.  With chatbots, you can even provide your shoppers with 24/7 customer service, regardless of whether your staff is online or not. 8. You can start small and scale up. An eCommerce business can potentially start with one person and a website. That’s what makes it such an accessible choice for new entrepreneurs. But if you’re thinking a one-person business doesn’t sound like it allows a lot of room for profits, you don’t have to stop there.  By starting small, a new eCommerce business owner can reduce risk in the early days and increase how quickly you start making a profit, and what those profit margins look like. Once enough money is coming in to expand, you can start to expand to new products or hiring other staff with the money you’ve already made, so it’s less risky.  Websites are easier to scale up with a growing business than physical locations. You don’t have to try and buy out the store next door to expand or open a whole new location, you can just upgrade your web hosting to handle more traffic.  That makes eCommerce a good strategic choice for an entrepreneur with little startup capital, even if you have big ideas and ambitions.  9. Online marketing can be affordable. Coming up with a business idea, creating a plan, and building a website are all big, important steps in getting an eCommerce business up and running. But people aren’t likely to find your website on their own on day one. That requires marketing. The good news is that online marketing tends to cost a lot less than more traditional forms of marketing like print ads, billboards, and TV spots. Inbound marketing tactics like SEO and content marketing take more time than money, unless you decide to hire an expert to handle them (which is often worth it).  Online advertising options like search and social ads let you control your budget, so you’re only spending what you’re comfortable with. And most online ad platforms have a PPC (pay-per-click) model that means you only pay for actual visitors, not ad exposure. As a result, they usually offer a pretty impressive return on investment, especially for those promoting a new website.  While online marketing can be affordable, it’s important to be realistic. If the industry or product you’ve chosen is competitive, you’ll have a harder time making headway unless you spend more upfront on marketing and advertising. PPC rates vary based on how competitive terms are, so the budget you’ll need is higher if a lot of other eCommerce brands are bidding on the same terms. And SEO and content marketing are often slow to show results, especially if you’re in a crowded space.  Marketing is likely to be one of your biggest expenses in the early days of your business, but it’s one you should treat as a priority. Get help marketing your eCommerce site with the PPC and SEO experts from HostGator. 10. Online marketing is targeted and measurable. When working on your business plan, an important step is understanding and clarifying who your target audience is. That matters because knowing who you’re selling to enables you to find the messaging that will resonate with them specifically. But it also pays off in online marketing, where most tactics and channels allow targeting. With SEO and content marketing, you can focus on keywords and topics that you know your specific audience cares about. On online advertising platforms, you can choose who will see your ads based on factors like keywords, demographic data, geographic location, and even interests and hobbies.  You won’t be paying to reach everyone—which is expensive. Your budget will be focused on reaching the specific people who are likely to care about what you’re selling and buy your products. And you’ll also have access to online marketing tools that produce analytics. You can track how well your website is performing, who’s visiting it, how they found you, and what they do once they land on your website—all for free with Google Analytics.  And every online advertising platform will include tools for measurement as well. You can understand the user experience and see how often people click on your ads, with the data broken down by different campaigns, audience categories, and keywords. And you can see what you’re spending on each click, to figure out if some keywords are worth more than others to you.  All of this adds up to being able to get more for what you spend, and improve your results over time as you learn. Using these tools and looking at your results will provide insight into how eCommerce has transformed marketing.  Realize the Benefits of eCommerce Every would-be entrepreneur will need to figure out what business idea and strategy to pursue based on a number of factors. For a good number, some type of eCommerce business will make the most sense. It’s easier to get started, less risky, and broad enough to provide a wide array of paths forward.  Running an eCommerce business will still require work, planning, and a learning curve—those are all parts of running any type of business. But if you approach it thoughtfully, do your research, and put in the work, it can be rewarding.  Once you’ve got your product idea and business plan in place, HostGator can help you with the website creation part. We not only sell web hosting services, but also have an intuitive website builder that includes eCommerce templates and features. And to make things easier on your starting budget, the website builder comes free with our web hosting plans.  Find the post on the HostGator Blog

8 Email Offers Every Online Store Should Use

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The post 8 Email Offers Every Online Store Should Use appeared first on HostGator Blog. Your online store is up and running, your products are great, and your sales are… well, maybe they’re not where you’d like them to be. The problem may not be your site or your stuff. It could be that you need to ramp up your email marketing.  Think of email marketing as the beacon that keeps your visitors and customers connected to your store. When they see you in their inbox, they’re reminded of the cool things you have to offer. And when they open your messages, they should see something that makes them want to click through to your store.  What kinds of emails make customers want to drop in and buy from you again? Here are eight must-have messages.  1. The welcome email Everyone who shares their email address with your store—whether it’s to join your newsletter or make a first purchase—should get a welcome email right away. Why? Welcome messages make people feel valued. And welcome emails can encourage people to come back to your store to buy things they looked at earlier, check out new deals or just browse some more.  Here’s a good example from clothing reseller ThredUp. There’s a positive message, an image that evokes what they sell (fun, inexpensive fashion) and a call to action (“shop now”).  There are also several ways the customer can save money in this message: a referral offer at the top and two discount shopping options at the bottom. (There were even more discount options below the fold in this message.)  The overall vibe of this welcome message is “this is going to be fun and you’re going to save money.” And that makes thrift shoppers want to go back. 2. The product recommendation email Sometimes you get a product that you know some of your customers are going to just love. And sometimes a customer’s purchase gives you ideas for other items they might like, too. A product recommendation email is the way to let them know.  Audible, the audio book seller, includes product recommendations with every purchase receipt email.  These recommendations land in the customer’s inbox when they’re already thinking about their audiobook queue, so maybe they’ll add on one or two of these titles. And no, you don’t have to generate the recommendations yourself. There are eCommerce tools that can automate personalization for your customers based on their searches and purchases on your site.  You can also segment your customer list and send emails recommending individual products that way. That can work well for new items. 3. The deal email  Sometimes you just want to drive traffic to your store, and a deal email is a time-tested way to do that. Here’s the top offer in an email Vitamix sent out last fall. It also included discounts on accessories, rewards program information and a free shipping offer. This message is ideal for getting Vitamix customers to click through. We like to talk about the horsepower of our blenders. But now there’s something more advanced? Must investigate. 4. Request for feedback emails  Your customers are your best source of information about their experience and satisfaction. Email is the simplest way to get that information if you’re not talking to them in person. Here’s a customer survey request email that offers a reward for taking the time to fill out the form. Note that you can also ask customers to leave product or store reviews, but that you can’t offer rewards in exchange for those reviews.  5. The exclusive offer email  Flash sales, preview sales and brand-new items or deals that are only available to subscribers make your customers feel special.  They also play on the human impulse to make the most of limited time offers or scarce inventory. People tend to snap up deals they know won’t be available for very long.  6. The referral request email One way to grow your customer base is by asking your current customers to refer you to their friends and family. A vision-care practice sent out this request as part of a marketing push to existing patients. Notice that there’s a link that recipients can use to create their referral email. That’s smart, because the easier it is for people to refer you, the more likely they are to do it.  7. The abandoned cart nudge email Abandoned carts are one of the biggest challenges that eCommerce sellers have to deal with. All those potential sales, just languishing. One way to get more carts through checkout is with cart reminder emails. This reminder went out to someone who got halfway through the subscription process and then left. There’s a lot going on in this message.  First, a reminder of all the resources that a subscription offers. Then, a subtle challenge with the statement that “great managers finish what they start.” What manager doesn’t want to be great? Then a text link and a button that repeat the message that the subscription task isn’t finished yet.  For the record, the recipient went back and subscribed. 8. The holiday/seasonal gift-giving guide email For every holiday, there’s a deal or a reminder email you can send to reconnect with your customers. Maybe it’s to feature a product that’s perfect for gift-giving, like this Dallas-area chocolatier did: Any holiday can be a reason to reach out to your customers. Just make sure you include a call-to-action button, like each of these holiday messages do. And offer some kind of a deal to make it worth the effort to click.  If you’re feeling really ambitious, you could create an entire series of holiday gift guide emails to go out during the weeks leading up to Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Of course, sending all these emails is a lot of work. It’s important to have an email marketing tool that automates them for you, so email doesn’t become another full-time job. A good email marketing program will also help you segment your list and personalize the offers you send to different segments so that customers feel recognized and valued. And it will include tutorials to help you set up your list, segment it and create email campaigns.  Ready to set up your email marketing campaign? HostGator customers with a shared hosting plan can get a free three-month trial of Constant Contact for a list with up to 500 email recipients.  Find the post on the HostGator Blog

What is eCommerce?

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The post What is eCommerce? appeared first on HostGator Blog. For consumers, professionals, and the large category of people who are both, eCommerce websites represent an increasingly important part of the business and shopping landscape. Across industries, it’s become a normal part of how people make purchases and how companies do business.  eCommerce is a vast category. This post will help you understand what counts as eCommerce, and the many types of businesses the word contains.  What is eCommerce? eCommerce is the buying and selling of goods and services online. The main root of the word “commerce” is defined as the exchange of goods and services between businesses, people, or entities. Add an e to the beginning of the word, and it simply refers to the same thing when it’s done via the web.  Any time you make a purchase online, you’re participating in eCommerce. And if you sell items or services through a website, then you have an eCommerce business.  The impact of eCommerce on retail can’t be understated. Worldwide eCommerce sales are expected to reach $4.9 trillion by 2021, growing 265%. The eCommerce label includes giants like Amazon and retail chains that also have an online store, like Walmart and Target. But it also includes hundreds of smaller businesses that have built online stores on their own websites or set up shop on sites like Etsy.  There’s not one right way to do eCommerce. And in recent years, building an eCommerce site has gotten easier and more affordable—no coding knowledge now required. More savvy business people are becoming eCommerce entrepreneurs and carving out profitable spaces in the vast landscape of online business.  How eCommerce Stores Work Building an eCommerce website is similar to starting a business of any kind in a number of key ways—you need a business plan, a marketing strategy, and a product or service your audience genuinely wants. But there are a few specific features that are absolutely essential to any eCommerce business. Website The core component of any eCommerce store is its website. Without a physical storefront, an eCommerce website is the main way consumers will come to know your brand.  It’s the primary place they’ll go to learn about the products you sell and how you fit into the larger industry. And the experience they have on the site—how easy it is to navigate, find what they need, and check out—will heavily influence what they think of your brand. In short, you don’t just need a website. You need a really good website. That means one that’s: InformativeEasy to useEasy to findAttractive—nothing too cluttered or with clashing colorsFriendly for mobile devicesTrustworthy If a consumer lands on your website and it looks like it was made in 1990 or thrown together by someone who did the bare minimum, they won’t trust that your business is legit. And your website is the main opportunity you have to convince them why you’re the best option for the products they want, so you have to do a good job selling yourself through your copy.  Web hosting Web hosting is a necessary service for getting your site online. Every website you see around the web is hosted somewhere. Most of them pay a web hosting company for the service.  Thankfully, this step is easy. Signing up for a web hosting plan is quick, and shared plans for business websites start at around $6 a month.  Domain name The domain name is your address on the web. It’s what you’d type into a browser to bring up a website. In most cases, you’ll want a domain name that matches the name of your eCommerce store.  But if you want to grab the .com, your available options are limited. Most of the obvious choices are taken and you may need to get creative to find something that works for you. It’s best to consider available domain name options before you name your eCommerce business, so you choose one you can get.  eCommerce software  eCommerce websites require a special set of features to allow people to make purchases. eCommerce software is how online businesses are able to provide: A shopping cartSecure payment processingA check out processCustomer account creationWish listsCustomized recommendationsDiscount codes A good eCommerce software makes setting up a lot of the features you need simple, and lets you provide customers with options that improve their shopping experience.  Security News about data breaches has become a regular part of life. But even if it’s a common occurrence, eCommerce website owners need to do everything in their power to make sure your website doesn’t become a target.  eCommerce websites have an obligation to customers to invest in security features to protect the personal and financial information you collect through the site.  That means an SSL certificate, secure payment processing options, and security software that provides an extra level of protection.  Shipping and returns Packaging and shipping items is a big part of the work of running an online business. And the cost of deliveries is a significant expense you have to account for.  You need to figure out whether you’ll cover the cost of shipping (and build the expense into your pricing), or if you’ll pass it along to customers and risk losing some purchases in the process.  Once you’ve figured that out, you need to make the same calculations in deciding how to handle returns. Many customers expect a seamless return experience at no, or at least minimal, cost to themselves. Having to pay for return shipping could make them less likely to purchase from you again, but shouldering the cost will affect your profits.  It’s a tricky balance to figure out, but one every eCommerce business that sells physical products faces. Privacy policy Customers are increasingly expressing discomfort around online privacy issues. And governments are responding with regulations around how businesses collect and use data.  To make sure you stay on the right side of the law and behave in accordance with what your customers most likely want, talk to a lawyer about how to draft (and follow) a respectful privacy policy.  Online marketing Ecommerce Marketing is how your customers learn you exist, and where you start to make the case for why they should buy from you.  For eCommerce businesses in online marketplaces, most—if not all—of your marketing will happen in online channels. You’ll need to explore search engine optimization (SEO), social media, pay-per-click advertising (PPC) , content marketing, and possibly tactics like affiliate marketing. Marketing’s a big part of the job of running a successful online store. How successful you are is often directly related to how much you invest in eCommerce marketing.  7 Types of eCommerce Businesses Those are the basics that pretty much every eCommerce business will have in common. But beyond that, there’s a ton of variety in what online businesses look like. These are seven of the most common types of eCommerce businesses (with some overlap between them).  Not sure which one is right for you? Read on for the benefits of eCommerce businesses.  1. Online retail By now, most of the big retail brands also have thriving eCommerce stores. While plenty of people still like the experience of shopping in a store over online marketplaces, offering an online option in addition is a way to capture even more customers. And it keeps retail businesses competitive with eCommerce brands entering their space. A quaint little bookshop now has to compete with the convenience of Amazon, no matter how much people enjoy the ambiance of the store. By setting up an online shop to supplement the physical store, they become just a little more competitive.  The same thing applies on a different scale for companies like Home Depot and Best Buy. They regain some of the customers they may have otherwise lost to online stores by letting customers choose between the store or website. 2. Dropshipping Dropshipping is a type of eCommerce in which a business owner takes on the work of creating and managing an online store, but outsources the work of storing and shipping products to a third party.  For entrepreneurs that want a simplified version of the experience of running an eCommerce store, dropshipping takes some of the work off your plate. There are pluses and minuses to dropshipping though. You lose some control over the process, and if customers are unhappy with items they receive or the shipping experience, you’ll still be held accountable.  And dropshipping is competitive. Because it has a lower barrier to entry, it’s the option a lot of new business owners choose. You’ll have a harder time finding products to sell that aren’t already offered by a lot of other online stores, as well as finding a way to differentiate your brand so people choose you.  Nonetheless, if you manage a dropshipping business well and get your website and marketing right, it can be a profitable option.  3. Wholesale Wholesale businesses work directly with the manufacturers that create products, then sell them to retailers. Wholesalers can skip some of the marketing work required to reach a large number of consumers.  If you prefer to focus more on the product side of things—dealing with manufacturers and managing the supply chain process—it may be a good option. While wholesalers do still need to reach and manage their customers—the businesses that sell products to consumers—it’s a different kind of process than selling directly to the end consumer. You can get by with fewer customers, because they’ll buy larger quantities.  4. Digital products Most eCommerce sites sell physical items, but it’s also possible to start an eCommerce store that focuses on digital items. That saves you the trouble of shipping costs and having to worry about stocking and storing inventory.  One of the most common categories of digital products is software—SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) is a particularly significant part of the eCommerce landscape. You could also build an eCommerce business on information products, such as courses, ebooks, and tutorials. Infopreneurs have some of the lowest cost of any new business owners since you’re not dealing with real estate or product costs. But it can be challenging to find a niche for information products that hasn’t already been served.  And in the era of content marketing, in many topic areas, consumers have ample free resources to choose from.  5. Digital services Many people think of service-based businesses as requiring some in-person component—like plumbers or cleaners that must come to your home or place of business. But the internet has opened up room for a lot of service-based businesses that can function entirely online.  From doctors offering telemedicine to business coaches to marketing consultants—a significant number of professions can transition to providing their help and expertise via emails, video calls, and live chat channels.  6. Subscription businesses A subscription business sells a product that consumers have a recurring need for. That could be consumable necessities, like toiletries and food. It could be fun subscription boxes that mix and match products based on what categories people are interested in, like different snacks or beauty items. Or it could be digital products or services people need on a continual basis, like web hosting or software products. If you have the right kind of product for a subscription business model to make sense, it’s a smart choice.  Subscriptions mean ongoing profits. You end up making more for each customer who signs up (assuming they like you enough to stick around), and you can more effectively predict future income.  But if you do go this route, you have to provide a high-quality product and top-notch customer service, because it only works if your customers are happy enough to continue their subscription for the long term. Subscriptions are great for measuring customer loyalty so that you can develop a customer retention strategy.  7. Businesses on online marketplaces For people not quite ready to commit to building out a full eCommerce store on their own, you can dip your toes into eCommerce entrepreneurship on one of the online marketplaces that’s already popular. The biggest options are: Etsy – designed for artists and craftspeopleAmazon – mostly for small-scale online retailers or those selling used goodseBay – the marketplace for used items Using an online marketplace to sell your products has pros and cons. You can get started more easily, and reach a large audience faster since they’ve already done the marketing to get customers to the site for you. But they take a cut of what you make, and are competitive because a large number of online retailers use them for buying and selling as well.  It is possible to build an online store and also list your products on an online marketplace, if you want the best of both worlds.  Get Started with eCommerce  If you want to take advantage of the vast world of eCommerce, you have a lot of options. Clarify what kind of business you want to run and craft a business plan to guide you in your efforts.  Once you’re ready to build a website, HostGator’s website builder has eCommerce themes and features that can make that step much easier. It includes web hosting, a SSL certificate, and all the eCommerce functionality you could need—like the ability to manage inventory, process payments, and create coupons. Get started building your online store today. Find the post on the HostGator Blog

Work From Home Tips From a Telework Pro

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If you’re new to the world of working remotely, let me start by saying, welcome to the club! Those of us who have been working remotely for some time now can be a great resource for colleagues adjusting to their new work from home lifestyles. We understand the difficulties and conveniences that come with remote work and are happy to help. Here are some things I have learned from working remotely for the last two years. Continue reading Work From Home Tips From a Telework Pro at InMotion Hosting Blog.

How to Create an Awesome Contact Page

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The post How to Create an Awesome Contact Page appeared first on HostGator Blog. Here are two things to think about as a new website owner. First, when online visitors want to get in touch with you, the first thing they will do is locate your website and click on your contact page. Next, it only takes 2.6 seconds for a user’s eyes to land on the area of a website that most influences their first impression. This means if you want to impress the people that are looking to get in touch with you, you have to create a contact page that will rock their world. It may seem like creating an outstanding contact page is a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised at how many people forget to leave out critical contact information.  In fact, 51% of people think “thorough contact information” is the most important element missing from many company websites. Not to mention, when you leave out vital contact information, you lose your visitors. According to research, 44% of website visitors will exit a company’s website if there’s no contact information or phone number. This post will outline how to create a contact page that will draw your users in and give them the information they seek. Do I Really Need a Contact Page for My Website? Yes! It doesn’t matter if you’re a blogger, a small business owner, an agency owner, or if you are using your website as a portfolio. Your users need a clear-cut way to find your contact information.  Skeptical? Keep in mind that it only takes about 50 milliseconds (that’s 0.05 seconds) for visitors to form an opinion about your website that determines whether they’ll stay or leave. If someone clicks through to your site looking for contact information, they aren’t going to stick around for a wild goose chase. You have approximately .05 seconds to show them where your contact information is, or you might lose them. This means it’s best to follow standard practice and provide a contact page with a quickly visible link. What Goes on a Website Contact Page? If 51% of people think websites don’t contain thorough enough contact information, it’s important to know what “thorough enough contact information” means. Let’s state the obvious first. The most important thing your contact page needs is a header explaining users are on the contact page.  You can be straightforward and write “contact page,” or get more creative with something your users will find self-explanatory, yet amusing. Try: “Let’s connect,” “say hello,” “get in touch,” or something to that effect. Then you need to list all the information for how they can contact you, including: Your company nameMailing addressPhone numberEmail addressMapAnd potentially more! You also should include a call to action that prompts your website visitors to get in touch. Consider: “chat now,” email today,” “call us,” etc. If you run a large business that has several departments, then your contact form will be more robust.  Take Apple, for example. There are several reasons why a customer may want to contact Apple. They may need customer support for one of their devices, to schedule an appointment at the Genius Bar, to check their online order status, or help with billing, to name a few reasons. Apple approaches this by outlining different reasons why a customer may want to contact Apple, in an organized and visually-pleasing way, and by providing individual links for additional support. For example, if you need help with your Apple ID, you can click on the contact page link, quickly identify “Apple ID,” click on it, and Apple will direct you to the right place. Of course, this is an example from one of the largest companies in the world, but the sentiment applies to smaller companies or bloggers. If you have several reasons someone may contact you or different departments people may want to contact, then include well-organized information with the appropriate links on your contact page. What Fields Should I Include on My Website Contact Form? In addition to listing your contact information, you should also include a contact form on your website. Providing a contact form allows customers to send you a direct request and you can get back to them at your convenience. The best news is there are several contact form plugins for your WordPress site that you can use. Just remember, when choosing a contact form plugin, it needs to be mobile responsive since 3.7 billion people access websites via a mobile device. The last thing you want is someone trying to pinch and minimize a ginormous contact form that doesn’t fit in the mobile device screen. Now, let’s talk about what you put on your contact form. What you put on your contact form depends on the type of business you run and how much information you need from customers. Let’s break it down. What to include on a small business website contact form If you’re a small business and people generally only contact you for simple questions, your contact form can be simple. You only need to ask for a name, number, email address, and allow a space for a quick message. What to include on a contact form for your blog If you have a blog, what you include on your contact form can vary depending on the size of your blog and what you offer.  If you run a small blog, it’s sufficient to include a simple contact form like the one pictured above for small business websites. If your blog is bigger, and you have different programs, offer various services, or provide guest blogging opportunities, you can include a “reason for contacting” section in your contact form.  The blog, 100 Days of Real Food, is a good example of a popular blog that follows this method. What to include on a large business or enterprise website contact form If you run a large business, you may need more details about your customers. Extra details help you provide the right information, make sure the right person gets in contact with the customer, and help you understand who you are talking to. For example, you can ask for the name of the company, the size of the company, an email address, a number, a subject line, the preference for how you get in contact with them, and more. As a general rule of thumb, the simpler your contact form is, the better. Only include information that is necessary. Best Practices to Follow for Website Contact Pages Now that you what goes on a contact page and form, let’s talk about the information you’ve been dying to hear: contact form best practices. Here is what to do to make your contact information stand out from the crowd: Make it easy to find. It should take your audience less than a second to find your contact information. Common places for your contact information link include in your primary navigation bar, and at the bottom of your home page. KISS. Keep it simple, smartie. While you want your contact information to be complete, it doesn’t have to be comprehensive. You don’t have to include the GPS coordinates to your office or a satellite view of your place of business. You also don’t need to include fluffy copy. Give reasons for people to contact you. There may be more than one reason you may want to hear from your customers. Tell your customers why they should contact you and how you can help them. Similarly, there may be reasons you don’t want people to contact you. Outlining why they should get in touch will help weed out requests that are answered on your FAQ page, for example. Use a contact form. It’s necessary to list your contact information, but it’s helpful to visitors if you include a contact form. This way, your website visitors will know they are getting their message across and that it will go to the right person. Redirect to a thank you page. After someone enters their contact information, don’t leave it at that. Select the option on your preferred WordPress contact form to redirect them to a thank you page. You can use this page to, of course, thank your customers for getting in touch, but you can also include a short video, another call to action, or additional content that leads customers to continue to engage with your website. Include a call to action. A simple call to action like “get in touch,” “call now,” or “email us,” sends out a friendly vibe to your customers that you want to talk to them, and subtly lets them know how you prefer to communicate. Be mindful of design. Adobe did some research on design and found that two-thirds of people would rather read something beautifully designed than something plain. It will only take your audience a second or two to read your contact form, but do them a favor and make it easy on the eyes. Keep the most important information above the fold. Website visitors pay more attention to information that is above the fold. As such, keep your most vital contact information above the fold. Link to your social media accounts. Your most loyal website supporters may also want to engage with you via social media. Your contact page is a great way to help people connect with you on different social platforms. These best practices will help guide you when you’re creating your contact page. Follow them and you can rest assured your contact page will be incredible. Build Your Contact Page Today Your contact page is one of the most important pages of your website. It’s critical to get it right. Creating a top-notch contact form includes following best practices, listing relevant information, and including a contact form. As you design your contact form, and the rest of your website, remember this. 57% of internet users say they won’t recommend a business with a poorly designed website on mobile. Don’t let this worry you. When you host your website with HostGator, and use the website builder or choose a popular WordPress theme, your website will be both gorgeous and mobile responsive. For more information on how to get started with building your website, head over to HostGator now. Find the post on the HostGator Blog

Search Intent, Your Content & Optimisation for Better Rankings

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You’ve got your hosting setup, your website is looking great, your business is ready and waiting – now all you need is some traffic. If you want your website to be found by the potential customers you’re aiming for, there are a number of ways you can optimise your content to make it ‘search-engine friendly’. The post Search Intent, Your Content & Optimisation for Better Rankings appeared first on Pickaweb.

10 Quick Ways to Stay in Contact with Your Customers

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The post 10 Quick Ways to Stay in Contact with Your Customers appeared first on HostGator Blog. Because of the pandemic and social-distancing rules, your business may be operating very differently from just a few weeks ago. These changes are important for everyone’s health, but they’re also potentially confusing. Letting customers know about the changes is important for maintaining trust in your brand and keeping customers’ business.  To keep track of what updates to share and how to share them—while you’re also busy dealing with everything else—use this quick guide. Let your customers know about these changes Everyone understands that things have changed, but humans still get frustrated when our expectations aren’t met, especially when we’re stressed. Make things easier on your customers and your employees by briefly updating customers if your business has made any of these changes. Closures. If your business is temporarily shuttered, tell customers—especially if you run an eatery or store that normally offers items for local delivery. Changes in operating hours. Many essential businesses have cut back their open hours so staffers can disinfect and restock shelves. Some have added special shopping times for seniors and at-risk customers. Delays in restocking, deliveries and orders for curbside pickup. If your suppliers are falling behind, or if you’re short-staffed and taking longer to prepare orders, let customers know before they click the “buy” button.Hiring. Ordinarily, you might not pitch help wanted ads to your customers, but this isn’t an ordinary situation. If you’re an essential business that’s hiring, let your customers know. They may be suddenly looking for work or know someone who is.New procedures to slow the spread of the coronavirus. If you want customers to text you from their car when they arrive, wear face masks in your store, or let you take their temperature before they can enter your waiting room, give them a heads up. Quantity limits on items. Grocers, drugstores and other essential businesses are now limiting purchase quantities of some items like paper towels, bleach wipes and eggs to ensure that more customers can get what they need. To reduce complaints, make sure your customers know in advance.  It’s best to share all your changes in one message, because customers may tune out multiple messages. But keep it simple. Here’s a great example from Fiesta International Market’s homepage. With this attention-getting notice, they’ve updated their store hours, outlined senior shopping hours, explained why they’ve made changes, posted a now hiring notice and link, and provided a link to more details—all in 70 words.  10 ways to reach your customers through multiple channels The great thing about modern life is the ability to reach people in so many different ways. The downside right now is that you have to reach them in a bunch of different ways when there’s a crisis, and you may not always remember them all.  Use this checklist to ensure that as many of your customers as possible will know about your changes. You may be tempted to use only one or two channels to save time, but that’s a recipe for dissatisfaction among the customers you don’t reach. 1. Email Whenever your business makes a change that impacts customers, send out a quick email update to your entire customer list. For example, Topgolf’s email lets people know they’re closed but available for online play for free.  You can also include your changes on email receipts and replies to customer service inquiries—just make sure you keep that info up to date as your situation evolves. 2. Website popups or banners Every page on your site needs a notice that lets customers know you’ve made some temporary changes. That way, no matter how visitors arrive at your site—through your homepage, a landing page or a product page—they still see the information they need.  Austin eatery Easy Tiger has done a great job of updating their website during the city’s stay-at-home orders. There’s a banner at the top of the page that offers curbside pickup and delivery and a pop-up to encourage customers to order online. Behind the pop-up is news about how the business is helping provide bread to local food banks. 3. Social media posts Post on social media whenever you make changes customers need to know about. Pin your notices to the top of your page if you can. For example, see how this Austin cheese shop has updated its Instagram with its new hours, shopping options, curbside pickup policy and online classes: Facebook for Business has a collection of templates and automated Messenger responses you can use to show visitors to your page that you’re still taking orders online or that you’ve temporarily closed.  4. SMS If you reach any of your customers by text message, send quick updates to them through this channel. Here’s an example that followed an online order confirmation with a Texas grocery store:  5. Outgoing voice calls Not every business needs to call its customers, but some should. For example, if you’re temporarily closing a clinic, therapy practice or another business where you normally see your clients or customers face to face, calling and leaving a message is a must, especially if you need to postpone existing appointments or move them online. 6. Message for incoming calls Every business with a customer service line or office number should explain any changes on their phone menu or answering machine. 7. Push notifications through your chatbot tools If you have a customer service chatbot in your online store that does push notification marketing to your customers, you can use it to let them know about changes. 8. Google My Business At the very least, update your GMB listing to show if your store is closed or if your hours have changed. You can also add delivery services that you partner with, as this Austin restaurant has done: To give customers more detailed information when they search for your business, check out our post on using the new Google My Business Covid-19 communication tools.  9. Local delivery services Notify your delivery partners when your hours change so drivers don’t waste time and gas finding out the hard way that you’re closing early or that you’ve temporarily shut down. 10. Window signs And finally, if you have a brick-and-mortar location, put a sign in the window—one that’s large and clear enough to read from a car at the curb. Bookmark this list and return to it whenever you need to update your customers on critical information about your business. Keeping your customers in the loop is work, but when they know they can rely on your business to communicate clearly, they’re more likely to stay loyal and recommend you to others. Get more tips for managing your business during times of crisis: Small Business Checklist: Key Website Updates to Make During a CrisisRemote Shopping & eCommerce Ideas for Closed Local BusinessesHow to Add eCommerce to Your Small Business Website Find the post on the HostGator Blog

5 eCommerce Best Practices for Capturing More Sales

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The post 5 eCommerce Best Practices for Capturing More Sales appeared first on HostGator Blog. eCommerce is growing as the top way to sell products and services. By the end of 2020, researchers suggest there will be 2 billion digital buyers in the world, and around 95% of all purchases are expected to be via eCommerce by 2040. It doesn’t matter if you’re a large brand, an SMB, or just starting your online eCommerce side gig. If you want to effectively reach more of your target audience and increase your sales, you must make it easy for your customers to purchase online. The best way to capture more online sales is to optimize your website. This post will offer five tips and tricks that you can apply to your website right now that will help you drive internet consumers to your website and convert them into loyal customers. 1. Secure your website Seventy-one percent of consumers worry about brands’ handling of personal data, and it’s with good reason. Forty-six percent of Americans have been the victims of credit card fraud in the last five years alone. Even if you have a product that people want to buy, if you don’t go above and beyond to secure customer data, you will miss out on sales. When you purchase a web hosting plan with HostGator, your website comes with a free SSL website security certificate. SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) is encryption and cyber-safety technology that helps secure your internet connection and protect data that is exchanged between a browser and a web server. SSL prevents hacking and data theft of passwords, credit card information, banking details, personal data, and any other user information. Google requires most websites to have an SSL certificate, and often blocks websites that aren’t secure. You can tell a website is secure if it has a padlock in front of the URL. While an SSL certificate is sufficient to protect data, it’s also important to use eCommerce payment platforms that are recognizable and secure such as, Apple Pay, PayPal, Venmo, Amazon Pay, etc. If you only accept credit cards on your website, let your customers know which payment software you are using and how you are securing their data. 2. Include gorgeous photos on your product pages Hiring a fantastic product photographer can be expensive, but 75% of online shoppers rely on product photos when deciding on a potential purchase. This means before you set up your online store, you need to have images that represent the product well, jive with the look of your website, and show your customers exactly what the product will look like when they receive it in the mail. Here is a nice example from the fashion brand, Everlane. The pictures complement the website design. Visitors can see what the pants look like, and shoppers can even look at all the various color options. How much more powerful is this than if Everlane were only to include the description? Hitting the product photography nail on the head is also essential, considering 22 percent of returns happen because the product doesn’t look like the picture on the website.  Not to mention, people are 40% more likely to share visual content on social channels, which provides yet another opportunity for brand exposure. 3. Include prominent call-to-action (CTA) buttons on your website Pop quiz time! What are the two most noticeable bits of copy on any website? That’s right! It’s the headline of any webpage and the call-to-action. At least they should be the two most prominent pieces of copy on your website. When one company made drastic CTA design changes for one of their clients, the results were astounding: Adding CTA buttons to article templates boosted revenue by 83% in one month.Ecommerce conversions increased 22% over each quarter. As with all website optimization, there is an art and a science to getting it right. Here are some top CTA button optimization tips. Use the inverted pyramid model for your headline, copy, and CTA Studies show that the inverted pyramid design model gets solid results. An inverted pyramid means the copy at the top (headline) grabs the attention of your audience. The copy in the middle (description) builds anticipation, and the last piece of copy is a short call to action (CTA).  The inverted pyramid is a guideline for design as well. The headline grabs the attention, the additional detail builds anticipation, and the call to action tells website visitors exactly what to do, and it’s in the shape of an upside down triangle (outlined in pink). Opt for orange or test your color choices You always want to follow your brand color guidelines. However, it’s also worthy to note that orange CTA buttons often produce the highest conversion. SAP found that orange CTAs boosted their conversion rate by more than 32.5%, according to QuickSprout. If orange doesn’t fit with your brand, or you don’t like it, you can always A/B test your favorite two button colors. We love using orange at HostGator: A/B testing means you take the same web page, change one single thing (the CTA color button), and show it to two different audiences that represent your target demographic. Their feedback will help you guide your decision. 4. Optimize your website for stellar mobile shopping experiences Recent stats show that four out of five Americans shop online, and more than half of online shoppers have made purchases on their mobile devices. Interestingly enough, not all of these purchases are intentional purchases.  Sixty-seven percent of consumers say they engage in “digital window shopping,” and 77% of those make impulse purchases (good news for eCommerce brands, right?). To capture more sales on your eCommerce website, it’s essential to optimize your website for mobile search and mobile commerce. Here’s how. Use a mobile responsive template Both HostGator’s Gator Website Builderand WordPress provide templates that are already optimized for mobile devices.  When you get a HostGator or WordPress template, you don’t have to do any coding. You just have to customize it to your liking, and it will work perfectly on a desktop and a mobile device. Make sure your website loads quickly The majority of consumers expect websites to load in less than two seconds. If websites take longer than a few seconds to load, consumers will bounce (click out of your website rapidly) and search elsewhere. You can avoid this by testing your website load speed often and optimizing it to make sure it loads quickly on desktops and mobile devices. Make it easy for consumers to pay When was the last time you went to order a product, and then abandoned ship because it was difficult to enter your payment information? The best approach is to include multiple popular payment options, including Venmo, ApplePay, and Amazon Pay, for example.  When thinking about optimizing your website for mobile, remember that 51% percent of smartphone users have purchased from a company other than the one they originally intended due to a more pleasant mobile shopping experience.  5. Offer discounts You know what’s better than online shopping? Online shopping with discounts! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve purchased a product from one company over another just because they offered a better discount. Here are some ideas for boosting engagement with discounts: Free shipping for higher dollar orders. If someone purchases over a certain amount of product, consider offering free shipping. This encourages consumers to buy more. Discount in exchange for email address. Smart brands offer a discount on customers’ first orders in exchange for their email address. This allows you to build your email list and turn one-time visitors into repeat customers. Discount wheel. Discount wheels are another way of providing a discount in exchange for an email address. Get More Sales for Your eCommerce Website Today If you’re ready to start your eCommerce website, check out the hosting deals at HostGator. HostGator has an eCommerce website builder plan that makes it easy to optimize your website for increased eCommerce sales. Find the post on the HostGator Blog

How to Use Google My Business COVID-19 Tools to Make Updates

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The post How to Use Google My Business COVID-19 Tools to Make Updates appeared first on HostGator Blog. Google My Business (GMB) is a huge help to local businesses that want customers to see their location, hours and reviews easily in search results. Whenever you need to make an update—for example, because you’re only open for curbside pickup and delivery now due to social distancing regulations—Google My Business is one the first places you should post those changes.  After you submit your GMB changes, Google staffers usually review them before they’re published, to ensure no one’s defacing your listing. But like every other business, Google has had to adjust the way it operates because of the coronavirus pandemic.  To maintain safe social distancing for its employees and to make sure health care business changes are approved fast, GMB teams are taking longer to review and approve information changes for other types of businesses—unless they’re specifically related to COVID-19.  What do the current changes with Google My Business mean for your business?  It depends on the kind of local business you own. If your business ISN’T health care related: To update your customers on changes related to the pandemic—and to keep your GMB updates from getting stuck in Google’s review queue—create a COVID-19 post in Google My Business. We’ll walk you through how to do this in the next section. This is a new feature that helps get your changes reviewed and approved faster. If your business IS health care related: Your GMB updates will go to the top of the review queue automatically. And GMB has added the ability for health care providers to list their services. For example, if you offer telemedicine or drive-thru coronavirus testing, you can now include that in your GMB listing. OK, so you’ve got changes to make. How exactly do you get them done?  How to Create a COVID-19 Post in Google My Business A COVID-19 update will get approved faster than a regular update. Your COVID-19 post will also be easy to see, because Google will pin it to the top of your GMB listing. 1. Start by logging into your Google My Business account from a computer (not your mobile device).  2. Choose “Posts” from the menu on your GMB account page. 3. Select the tab labeled “COVID-19 update.” 4. Add or edit your temporary information. You can  Set special hours if you’re not operating on your normal schedule. Remove the “information may not be up to date” disclaimer that Google has automatically added to many listings.  Mark your business temporarily closed without affecting your local search ranking. Add new services you’re offering during the pandemic.Let customers know you have gift cards for sale.Note if your business is only open for carryout, curbside pickup and/or delivery.  Note: This will update your Google Maps location display, too. List local services (like Favor and Door Dash) that will deliver from your business. Explain any delays in order fulfillment or delivery.Explain how your business is protecting customer and employee safety.Request that customers call your business for more information.  5. Preview your COVID-19 post to make sure your updates are correct. 6. Adjust the visibility time of your COVID-19 post.  Click “menu” on your post.Select “schedule” and then click “change” by “visibility time.”Pick the end date and time you want for your post—up to 14 days from the publish date.Save your visibility changes. 7. Click “publish.” 8. Make a note to publish another update in 14 days if your changes are still in effect, because the COVID-19 post may expire.  Note: If your business has more than one location, you’ll need to repeat steps 2 – 8 for each location that has changes to share. Other Google My Business updates for food businesses In addition to changing your hours and showing your takeout and delivery options, you may need to update your menu.  For example, if you’re offering a pared-down version of your dine-in menu for delivery, or if you’re offering new items like pantry supplies and groceries along with prepared meals, you can show those changes in your GMB listing. To do this:  Click “info” on the left-side menu on your GMB page. Select “menu URL.” Make your menu updates. Click “apply” to save them.  If you have more than one location, you’ll need to repeat this process for each one.  More Best Practices Google My Business Recommends Right Now You can activate Google My Business messaging so customers can reach you quickly. You can also create automatic responses, so you’re not overwhelmed by sharing the same information over and over.  If your business runs Google ads, be sure to update the information in those messages.  If you mark your business temporarily closed, be sure to mark it open in GMB when you reopen your business. You can find more ideas to keep your business running safely in HostGator’s COVID-19 Business Tips library, or check out these popular posts: Local Business Temporarily Closed? Try Remote Shopping & eCommerceQuick Website Updates You Can Make in 30 Minutes or LessHow to Add eCommerce Functionality to Your Small Business Website Find the post on the HostGator Blog

How to Boost Your eCommerce Sales

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The post How to Boost Your eCommerce Sales appeared first on HostGator Blog. As a growing number of countries and states issue shelter-in-place orders to slow the spread of COVID-19, the in-store shopping experience has temporarily become a thing of the past. In its place, eCommerce has taken on a whole new level of importance.  Whether your business is new to offering an online store, has always been eCommerce only, or previously had both brick-and-mortar and delivery options, the eCommerce side of your website will now be taking center stage. And as many businesses struggle just to keep the (metaphorical) doors open, figuring out how to boost your eCommerce sales now could be the deciding factor in how well your business weathers the current storm.  And just as importantly, in a time when people are feeling anxiety and seeing shortages of items they want and need all around them, if you can provide them with items that in some way increase their comfort, provide entertainment, or help them cope with the challenges of each day, you’ll be offering real value to your audience.  10 Quick Wins to Boost eCommerce Sales If you need more sales sooner rather than later to keep your business viable, there are a few eCommerce sales strategies that can provide quick, short-term results.  1. Change your shipping options. According to data from Statista, shipping issues play a role in two of the top reasons people give for shopping cart abandonment: 63% of people have abandoned a cart because the shipping cost too much36% because the shipping time was too slow Shipping speed and cost are a common impediment to purchase. Making the options more attractive for the coming days or weeks is a practical way to encourage more of your visitors that want to buy to take that final step. Consider offering free shipping for a limited time. If you can’t afford to cover the full cost, think about other ways to make shipping feel like a better deal for customers: Provide free shipping for orders that meet a certain minimum (e.g. free shipping for all orders over $50)Provide a low flat rate for all ground shipping optionsOffer multiple shipping speed options, for those that value speed over cost If you only plan to make the changes available temporarily, make that clear. People will be quicker to buy if they know they have a limited time to take advantage of the deal.  2. Offer a short-term discount. Discounts are an effective way to drive new eCommerce business to your store. Research from RetailMeNot found that two-thirds of all consumers have decided to make a purchase they wouldn’t have otherwise based on a discount offer. And 80% are more likely to buy from a new brand based on a compelling discount.  Discounts do mean a cut into your profits, but when you’re looking for a boost in sales, the increase in customers can make the smaller profit margins per sale worth it.  3. Increase your ad spending budget. Online advertising is a good way to reach more people fast. PPC (pay-per-click) platforms like Google Ads and social advertising channels can get information about your eCommerce store and products in front of people who have never heard of you before—a necessary first step before they can consider making a purchase. And they offer targeting options that increase the odds of reaching the potential customers who already want your products.  If you haven’t started advertising online, now’s a good time to launch your first campaigns. If you already have marketing campaigns going, increase your ad budget for the next few weeks. Check your analytics first and focus the extra spending on the campaigns that are driving the most conversions.  Higher ad budgets will mean more people see your ads, which leads to more visitors. And if your website does its job, more visitors will mean more customers.  4. Use retargeting. Have you ever clicked on the product page for something you liked, but stopped short of purchasing because you knew it wasn’t really a need, or you figured you should wait until after payday?  Retargeting is how you stay top of mind for the people who have shown an interest in your products and increase the likelihood they’ll come back and make a purchase. You can set up retargeted ads to focus on the specific product a visitor looked at. And they’re also a good opportunity to feature any discounts or shipping deals you’re offering, as those could be the tipping factor for someone on the fence.  5. Update your product descriptions. How recent are your product descriptions? If it’s been a while since you’ve refreshed them, devote some time to it now.  To write product descriptions that appeal directly to what your audience cares about, look over your reviews and any feedback you’ve received from loyal customers. Pay attention to any specific features or benefits they mention and the language they use, and incorporate that into the descriptions you write. While you’re working on this, also use the opportunity to make sure each product page is optimized for search engines. Figure out the best keyword to target for each page, and include it in the title tag, meta description, image file name, and image alt tag. And if you have any especially good customer reviews or testimonials for each product, put them right there on the page to show social proof.  6. Update your product photography. For physical products, the photography on your website is an important component in showing people what they’ll get. A high-quality photo that shows the product in the best possible light can go a long way to helping people make the decision to buy.  If your current product photos look great, you may be able to skip this step. But if you revisit them and it’s clear they can benefit from an update, then spend some time taking new photos to load to your site.  7. Look for upsell opportunities. Getting a customer to make a purchase is hard. Getting someone who’s already decided to be your customer to buy more is generally much easier.  Upsell offers are a useful way to increase eCommerce profits while doing less work. When a visitor starts the checkout process, you can set your eCommerce website up to suggest extra add-ons to their order before they complete the purchase. The suggested items can be directly related to what they’re purchasing—for someone buying a litter box, you might suggest they add kitty litter as well. It can be an upgrade of the item itself, e.g. “Only $2 more to upgrade to a large.” Or it can be a reminder of how much to add to the cart to get free shipping. A compelling offer when they’re already on the path to purchase will often persuade customers to spend more.  8. Add relevant product recommendations to pages. Another way to increase order size is to show customers recommended products as they browse based on items similar to the page they’re on, or to other pages they’ve viewed.  You can invest in a recommendation engine or other eCommerce software that automates this process by collecting data on the buying habits of customers in order to provide increasingly accurate recommendations. If customers that buy your rose-scented soap product also tend to invest in a candle of the same scent, the engine will ensure future visitors who view one of those items will get a nudge to check out the other.  9. Add new case studies and testimonials to your site. Consumers trust other people like them more than they trust brands. Telling them why you think your products are awesome is part of the marketing game, but ultimately worth less than if you can make the case via your customers’ words.  Check with current customers to see if they’re willing to provide a testimonial or be the subject of a case study. You can identify the most enthusiastic customers by checking your reviews, or sending surveys to gather feedback. Once you’ve found some people who seem happy with your products, reach out to ask if they’re willing to share more about their experience and be featured on your site.  10.  Make checkout easier. While shipping issues are often the main reason behind cart abandonment, sometimes any little thing that makes checkout more difficult can hinder sales.  If visitors have to create an account before they checkout, it can make the purchase feel like too much work, so offering a guest checkout option can be a quick way to increase sales. If they learn at the last moment that you don’t accept their preferred payment option, they may abandon the purchase, so offer as many payment options as you can.  Analyze your checkout process to identify anything that could make it slower or more difficult to complete now than it needs to be. Some simple tweaks to how checkout works can potentially make a big difference in how many visitors take a purchase through to the end.  8 Long-Term Strategies to Generate Sales Online All of those strategies are relatively small projects that can start boosting your online sales fast. But to build a more sustainable eCommerce business that gets strong results long term, there are a few additional eCommerce marketing strategies to include in your efforts.  1. Check your analytics to review what’s working now. If your eCommerce site has been up for a little while already, then you can learn a lot about what works well for your audience by looking at your own analytics. Check Google Analytics to see: What traffic sources are sending the most visitors to your siteWhich sources send the highest-converting visitorsWhich send the visitors with the biggest order sizes, or those that become repeat customersWhat pages people visit the mostWhich pages most consistently lead to salesWhich pages lead people to stick around and visit other pagesWhich lead to other types of conversions such as content downloads or email signups Google Analytics is full of data that helps you understand how your customers learn about you, which of your marketing efforts increase eCommerce sales, and which customers are the most valuable to your business. That information will help you shape a more successful long-term marketing strategy designed to attract the right visitors.  2. Do a website audit. A website audit is a big project, but it will help you suss out which parts of your website are effectively doing their job, and which aren’t. Many eCommerce sites have pages that get very little traffic, or fail to get visitors to take any meaningful action. And sometimes, the structure or design of your website can make it harder for visitors to find what they’re looking for.  With a thorough website audit, you’ll identify opportunities to improve your website by dropping low-performing pages, combining them with other related pages, and optimizing successful pages to perform even better.  In addition to tightening up and improving what’s already there on your website, a website audit leads to a deeper understanding of what your audience likes and how they behave—insights you can then apply to your strategy moving forward.  3. Do customer UX testing. You’ll never quite be able to see your website the way a customer does. You’re just too close to it. The only way to find out if your eCommerce store is intuitive and easy to use for customers is to give them the chance to test it out directly. Enlist some customers to help you out with UX (user experience) testing.  Have them try out different actions, seek out specific products, and go through the checkout process. Ask them for feedback on the overall experience, and to take note of anything about it that was inconvenient or difficult. Then put that information to use by making updates to the website to improve the customer experience.    4. Improve your on-site SEO. Search engine optimization (SEO) is a strategy for increasing the chances of your website showing up on the first page of search results in Google and other search engines. eCommerce SEO is a long-term project. It takes time to start showing results. But once you manage to claim some of those top spots, it will send relevant traffic your way for weeks, months, or years to come. The easiest part of SEO is on-site SEO. It includes a few main steps: Performing keyword research and picking a target keyword for each page on your siteOptimizing each page for your target keyword by incorporating it naturally into the copy and headings on the page, as well as the relevant meta tagsMaking sure your website has a fast loading timeCreating a mobile friendly website, if you haven’t alreadyInvesting in an SSL certificate for greater security (and because Google likes secure websites) For most eCommerce sites, on-site SEO won’t be enough on its own to start ranking. But it’s a good basis to build the rest of your SEO strategy on.  5. Invest in building your social following. Social media gives you a way to connect directly with your potential audience. But your social posts won’t even be seen unless you manage to build a following. Determine which social platforms make the most sense for you to prioritize based on where your audience spends their time. For example, does your target audience spend the most time viewing Instagram ads, or do they prefer Facebook? Decide, then develop a strategy to start actively posting and interacting with relevant accounts in your space.  Consider joining Twitter chats, or jumping into conversations you see happening on LinkedIn, and creating a Facebook group. To speed up the process of gaining followers, invest in social advertising. It’s the easiest way to reach people that don’t follow you yet.  6. Increase your content marketing efforts. Content marketing is another important strategy for SEO, as well as a way to build relationships with the people in your target audience. By creating high-quality content on topics they care about, you: Prove your value and knowledge to your audienceEnsure your website will show up for more relevant searches in Google, increasing awareness of your online store and the number of visitorsGive visitors a reason to sign up for your email list, to see more of your contentBuild trust in visitors who will then be more likely to choose you when they need one of your products Content marketing takes time to do well, but it can be a powerful strategy for differentiating your brand from competitors in your space, driving more traffic to your website, and gaining more trust from your audience. To get the best results, make sure all your content is optimized for search. 7. Try out different content formats. Most content marketing efforts start with a blog but consider if your audience will appreciate other content formats as well. Experiment with video, audio, or long-form pieces like ebooks. You may be able to gain a larger following and reach new people by choosing a format a certain segment of your audience is more likely to consume.  For each new format you try, collect data on how well it’s working so you know if it’s worth the investment to continue.   8. Focus on customer retention, not just acquisition. Gaining a new customer is hard. Keeping one is comparatively easy. In your strategy to increase eCommerce sales, consider how to encourage repeat purchases. How do you give customers every reason to come back and choose you again? Part of that is making sure your products are high quality. Part of it’s providing exceptional customer service any time a customer has a problem or question. And part is being proactive about reminding them you exist.  Send emails checking in and offering special deals. Consider starting a loyalty program to reward them for spending more with you. And make it clear every step of the way that you value them. Gain and Keep eCommerce Customers Running an eCommerce business is challenging in the best of times. In the midst of a global crisis, you face some unique challenges. But if you invest in marketing and ensure you’re providing a strong customer experience from their first contact with your website to beyond that first purchase, you’ll build a sustainable eCommerce business that lasts well into the future. Find the post on the HostGator Blog

InMotion Hosting Help and Resources During Pandemic

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The global COVID-19 pandemic has affected all of us in the USA, and around the world, in different ways. While the prognosis is not always good, we can find encouragement in the many ways our friends and neighbors are pulling together to help each other out. We Are Fully Operational We’re happy to report that InMotion Hosting is fully operational and able to provide you with great service 24/7/365–even from our homes. Continue reading InMotion Hosting Help and Resources During Pandemic at InMotion Hosting Blog.

How to Optimize Your Lead Capture Forms for More Conversions

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The post How to Optimize Your Lead Capture Forms for More Conversions appeared first on HostGator Blog. You’ve worked hard to build a great website with compelling content. You even have significant traffic coming to your site. But if you’re not capturing leads, you can’t create paying customers.  Great content will bring visitors and readers to your site. A lead capture form will ensure that they return and convert into customers who buy your products. A lead capture form is one of the most powerful tools at your disposal to create leads. However, it takes more than setting up a few form fields to make conversions happen. We’ve created a helpful post that will show you how you can optimize your lead capture forms. Follow these tips and you’ll boost your lead generation activities quickly and effectively.  What is a Lead Capture Form?  A lead capture form is a type of contact form where users enter details such as their name and email address. Lead capture forms are often used to give users access to a lead magnet such as an ebook or a discount. You can also offer your site visitors regular helpful blog posts by asking them to subscribe to your site.  Lead capture forms help you generate leads so that you can nurture them into becoming future paying customers and keep them coming back to your website.  If you’re looking for ways to increase conversions rates on your site and create revenue, then optimizing your form is a must. In the next section, we’re going to dive deeper into several steps you can take to boost conversions.   How to Optimize Your Lead Capture Forms It’s easy to create an online form with the help of a WordPress contact form plugin. Choosing the right plugin will not only help you create beautiful forms that appeal to users, but it will also allow you to add lead-boosting features. Here’s how you can enhance your lead capture forms with a few easy steps. 1. Keep It Simple When creating a lead capture form, make sure that you don’t add more fields than you need to. A great lead capture form will have a compelling headline, a few form fields, and an attractive call-to-action button.  Too much information can be overwhelming and users won’t want to read it all—or fill it out. If you add too many form fields, users will simply abandon the form.  A study on forms shows that forms with just 3 fields can create a conversion rate of 25%. Increase the number of fields to 5 and you see the conversion rate decline to 20%. A form with more than 6 fields further declines form conversion rates to 15%. Making a simple and easy-to-fill contact form is your best bet to boost conversions on your lead capture form.  2. Create a Compelling Message The text message on your lead capture form needs to be concise and powerful. It’s essential for your message to give users a great reason why they should give you their email in just a few words.  When creating your lead capture text, focus on the benefit your visitor gets from filling in the form. You can also use special ‘power words’ that will skyrocket your conversion rates when they are used correctly. These power words include:  FreeYouEasySaveGuaranteeNewProvenResults Avoid generic content such as ‘Sign up to get more information’ or ‘Fill in this form to stay in touch’. Offer your users a benefit in exchange for filling in your form. Remember to keep it short and engaging to boost conversions.  3. Build an Engaging Call to Action Button A call to action button also plays a significant role in how well your form converts. Instead of using text that says ‘Submit’, be more specific. Create text that tells users exactly what will happen when they click on a button.  For example, if they are signing up to get a lead magnet, your button text could say ‘Download Your Free eBook Now’ or ‘Download the PDF’ like in the image below. It’s also important to test different colors and sizes for your call to action button. Doing an A/B split test for your WordPress forms will show what colors, texts, and sizes get the most conversions.  4. Make Your Form Interactive  Making your form interactive will immediately catch people’s attention and draw them in. WPForms, the best WordPress form plugin around, offers a Conversational Forms® addon that lets you create attractive, interactive forms.  An interactive form has a more human feel to it as it shows users one question at a time. It feels like your site visitor is interacting with a person as they type in answers and move on to the next field. Users will enjoy filling in your forms and will leave with a positive experience. 5. Create a Giveaway People are willing to share their contact information and other details when they know that they’re getting something of value in exchange. A great way to get people to fill in a lead capture form and engage with you is by creating a giveaway.  Use a WordPress plugin like RafflePress that makes it easy for you to set up your giveaway contest in minutes. Some ideas for awesome giveaway prizes include checklists, video tutorials, ebooks, and more. To get even more contest entries (and leads), you could offer a bigger prize such as a brand new laptop, like in the giveaway example below: A giveaway will dramatically increase form submissions while also boosting traffic and engagement on your website.  6. Use Conditional Logic An important principle in UX/UI that can be applied to form building is ‘progressive disclosure’. This means that you only show users information that’s pertinent at the moment. You reveal more information later and only when it becomes necessary.  You can apply this to your forms by using conditional logic. The conditional logic feature allows you to make more fields appear when users give certain answers or make specific choices.  This helps users provide you with important information easily and removes the need for users to fill fields that aren’t essential. 7. Add a Privacy Notification Users are concerned about protecting their data online. You can create a feeling of trust and confidence by adding a checkbox asking users for explicit permission to use their information. It’s also helpful to add a link or a notice of your privacy policy and how you manage users’ data. You’ll honor the requirements of the GDPR act and show visitors that your business is trustworthy, making conversions more likely.  Conclusion  Hopefully, you’ve found these tips for optimizing your lead capture forms informative and helpful. When you’ve spent time and effort creating a gorgeous site and great content, it’s important to direct your readers into taking clear action. Setting up a lead capture form is an effective way to boost conversions on your site. By using the tips here, you’ll see more sign-ups and an increase in the number of leads. With a bit of effort and the right tools in place, you’ll be on the right path to growing your business. Find the post on the HostGator Blog

Secure Your Website With Sitelock Security

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An unsecure website is an easy target for hackers and malicious attacks. As a website owner, it is crucial that you pay attention to this and keep your website secure. One way of securing your website is to install a website security software.  In this tutorial, we’ll introduce to you one such website security software – SiteLock. Furthermore, we’ll walk you through the steps to install it on your website. So, without further ado let us begin! What is SiteLock? SiteLock is a cloud-based website security software. It scans websites and acts as an early detection alarm to flag threats like bot attacks, malware injections, harmful traffic and more. Apart from protecting your website, SiteLock also fixes bugs and vulnerabilities to keep your website up to date. Features of SiteLock Website Security Offers automatic website scanner to check for vulnerabilities and malicious codes Removes malware and malicious codes automatically Protects your database, and scans your files and applications Includes CDN, Firewall, blacklist monitoring, spam protection, etc. Provides 24×7 support How to Install SiteLock Website Security  If you are our Reseller or web pro, follow these steps to install SiteLock website security software on your website.  Step 1:  Login to your Control Panel.  Step 2:  Go to Express Cart   Step 3:  Select ‘SiteLock’ from the product drop-down menu. Then type the domain name you want to link SiteLock and select the plan of your choice. Step 4: Next, enter the customer’s email address for whom you are purchasing SiteLock and pay. You can pay either with your wallet or online.  Step 5: Now, that you’ve placed the order. To access SiteLock, return to your control panel. Go to the ‘Orders’ section and select the SiteLock order.  Step 6: A new page opens. Here, click on ‘Go to SiteLock Dashboard’ to complete your SiteLock setup.  Step 7: Post clicking, you will be redirected to the SiteLock website. Click on ‘Proceed’ to accept the terms and conditions. Otherwise, click on ‘Logout’ if you wish to set up your SiteLock later. We recommend setting sooner the better! Step 8: Post clicking on Proceed, you will be redirected to verify your Domain Name and TrueShield. Until these are configured and verified your SiteLock won’t start scanning.  Step 9: To verify your domain name, click on ‘Configure’. After this, there are two options to verify your domain. Click on ‘Instructions’ a  PDF file will be downloaded. Read it and add a meta tag to your website and click on verify.  Option 1 Option2 Step 10: Post clicking on ‘Verify’ a ‘Domain Verification’ notification appears. It may take a few minutes to verify your domain name. Be patient! Step 11: Once your domain name is verified, you can visit your ‘Dashboard’ and complete the pending verifications.  For your ease, the ‘Pending Verifications’ are displayed in yellow error sign whereas the completed ones show a green tick. Depending on what all you have verified, SiteLock website security will start populating the statistics and protect your website.  Note: If you’re a reseller, kindly make sure you have the following settings in your control panel so that you can sell SiteLock to your Customers and Sub-Resellers. To know how to go about this, please refer to our KnowledgeBase.  Conclusion Installing SiteLock website security is recommended to protect websites from malicious hackers and malwares.  We hope this tutorial was useful to you. If you have any queries or suggestions, feel free to leave them in the comments section below! We’re happy to help! .fb_iframe_widget_fluid_desktop iframe { width: 100% !important; } The post Secure Your Website With Sitelock Security appeared first on ResellerClub Blog.

Do You Think Promotional Pricing Can Drive Sales Better?

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The debate goes on with two sets of retailers and owners supporting and not supporting this pricing strategy. Promotional pricing is one of the most helpful yet disruptive strategies for companies. While both sides have proven records of gaining success or failing to do so, in this post, let us get into it. Just in The post Do You Think Promotional Pricing Can Drive Sales Better? appeared first on Pickaweb.

The 11 Questions You Should be Asking Your WooCommerce Developer

Nexcess Blog -

As WooCommerce has grown in popularity, the community has seen an influx of web developers and designers offering their services to merchants. Within this group are incredibly talented and knowledgeable developers, as well as ‘green’, less experienced developers. Ensuring you’ve got a developer that can deliver what you’re looking for means this search can turn into a time-consuming task. With a group this diverse you do not have to accept the first WooCommerce developer that reaches out. Selecting the wrong developer can mean problems down the line, with inexperienced devs unable or unwilling to complete a project to specification. To avoid this, it’s important to gain insight into the developer’s capabilities and background before committing and collaborating together. Let’s take a look at some of the questions you should ask any potential WooCommerce developer, to ensure you find the right fit for your business. 1. Where Are They Known? One of the first hurdles is figuring out who to even start talking to for your project. While WooCommerce does provide a list of experts, it won’t be an exhaustive list of all the people that can build great WooCommerce solutions for you. If you’re building a specific type of store, start with a search to see who is writing about building WooCommerce solutions that match your needs. Not everyone can build that custom classifieds site you’ve been dreaming of building. If you find a specific author of interest on a blog like this one, it can be worth searching their name to find out what else they’ve talked about doing on their own site or on other blogs. This may also bring up talks they’ve done for local WordPress conferences (called WordCamps) or a YouTube channel where they talk about code issues they’re working on. While not everyone that’s great writes or does videos about their work, it’s a good place to start. 2. What does their Customer vetting process look like? As you start reaching out to different developers, take notice of their process to vet clients – because a good developer or agency will have a process. They should have a form to fill out, or a series of questions to answer before they start to dig deeper into your project. It may feel a bit off-putting to jump through another hoop or two to get to talk to someone about your project. Remember, a process is an indication of an experienced shop. They have a way to gather information so they can have the best chance of delivering on what their customers want. If you send a single email and get an instant quote from someone that can start tomorrow, at least take a step back and verify that whomever you’re talking to isn’t promising they can do the work just to get the work. Good developers are often busy. 3. What makes a successful project? Photo by rawpixel.com Once you get in touch with a prospective developer, the first question I recommend you ask is what does it take to make a project successful? They should have a list of ways in which you’ll communicate, and they’ll likely they’ll have a project management system that they prefer and want you to use. Not having a project management system is not a clear signal that it won’t work, but expect more experienced agencies to have one. One big red flag to look out for is if they deal with everything via email. It may be an indicator that they will work with your billable hours inefficiently. Don’t be afraid to ask questions! You want to know how your project is being handled. For example, popular freelancer Jason Resnick has all his clients use email, but all of that email gets sent back into a project management system that he uses to triage tasks. He works within the project management system while his clients deal with email alone. 4. Are we going to use an existing theme or build something custom? For many sites, it doesn’t make sense to launch with a custom design. It will take longer to build, cost more, and doesn’t guarantee that you’ll earn any more than if you went with an off-the-shelf theme customized to fit your branding. In fact, many times online shoppers benefit from templates because they know where to find what they’re looking for. Make sure you ask if the agency you’re talking to is planning to build something custom, or customize an existing theme for you. If you have your heart set on a completely custom theme, make sure you understand the tradeoffs you’re making and what benefits you may get out of something custom. No one may have your exact look, but you also won’t be getting updates for free for compatibility issues or to add features to your site. You’ll get both of these features if you go with an existing theme. Ask your developer if this is a possibility if you are set on a completely unique look. 5. What will it cost? Outside of your initial development costs, there may be some ongoing fees that you’ll need to pay. Usually that will include hosting, email marketing, and perhaps backups. Some agencies will want to host your site for you and then offer updates or further work included in their fee. One huge red flag to watch out for: if the agency quotes you a one-time price and makes no mention of ongoing expenses, they are likely not truly knowledgeable about what it takes to be effective online. This can also help you figure out how much access they plan to give you to the site. If they’re hosting your site, then you may only have access to update content. They can access files and make changes to your site, but often they don’t want to give that access to clients. While this may be fine, especially for less technical clients, long term it can be an issue if they go AWOL and you’re left with a site you can’t access, or if you decide to move to a new development team. Make sure you understand the tradeoffs. I’ve had many site owners come to me unable to get access to their site so that we can start a copy of it and get going on a new project. To prevent this you can ask for access to your hosting, files, and the full WordPress admin panels. This puts you in control and allows you to grant access to others, or move the site without needing to wrangle it with the agency who may or may not be responsive. 6. What plugins do you generally include? Unfortunately, sometimes you have to ask for every single function that you want on a site. Even the basics like having Google Analytics installed must be specifically requested and billed. You want to understand what the developer you’re talking to includes and what they don’t include. I generally view adding analytics and hooking a site up to an email marketing platform like Jilt as table stakes – like tires on a new car. You just get these things because you bought the car. Make sure that your expectations and their expectations match. 7. How are we going to drive and ensure solid conversion rates? Photo by PhotoMIX Ltd. Making sales is the lifeblood of your online business, and while WooCommerce does a decent job of making sales easy out of the gate, you should be making sure that more thought will be put into driving good conversions for your site. Asking about conversions is a great way to see if your potential WooCommerce developer understands that your site is an investment that needs to work for you. Many of my clients are selling one-off products like a single book. This means that we send users directly to the checkout page skipping the cart page to reduce steps in the checkout process. In general, reducing steps in checkout will help you increase sales. On The Sweet Setup, we use Smart Offers to show additional courses that may interest customers after checkout. This approach ensures that we don’t get in the way of checkout, but we still get to upsell other products to customers. A good developer will have some of these strategies up their sleeve and be able to talk to you about which ones should work for your store. 8. How are we going to address site security? While security is important for every single site, it’s extra important for your WooCommerce site because you’re storing customer data. No, WooCommerce doesn’t store payment details, but you still have emails, passwords, and addresses in the system. The developer you choose to work with should have a plan to deal with any security issues for your site. In the same vein, they should also have a plan to deal with backups of your site. It’s entirely possible that your site could crash and leave you with nothing online. I always set up clients with a third-party backup plugin. I do this even if the host has its own backup system, because 1 backup isn’t enough – 2 backup location counts means you have a failsafe and a failsafe for your failsafe, too. This is also referred to as redundancy. Editor’s note: Managed WooCommerce hosting on Nexcess already has 30-day backups included with every plan. 9. How will we deal with theme and plugin updates? If the developer you select is planning to host your site for you, this will often include them doing theme and plugin updates for you. A good shop will perform them on a staging server so that they can be tested and then rolled out to the main site. Not every client wants this though; in fact, most of my clients update things themselves. Nexcess’ Managed WordPress and Managed WooCommerce hosting products include daily backups, and automatic updates with visual regression testing. What this means is that Nexcess will automatically update your theme and plugins, and then test to see if anything looks different. If something goes wrong, you can roll the site back and get in touch with your developer to fix the issues and update the site when it’s ready. 10. What happens if I want to add features later? If the agency you choose gives you access to everything and you’re paying your web host directly, then you are fully in control of future feature updates. You’ll likely start by reaching out to the agency you used to build the site for a quote and then get on their schedule to have the updates made. This is fairly standard, but sometimes you get stuck waiting for updates just because of other projects that have come up at the same time you’re asking for site changes. If that happens, as long as you followed these steps to have access to your site you will be able to find another WooCommerce developer that can help you with the changes. In fact, you should ask a prospective developer about others working on the site in the future. The truth is that any competent WooCommerce developer should be able to deliver work that others can build upon in the future. 11. What’s your warranty? Finally, you need to understand the warranty that is being provided on the work. Will the agency you use stand behind the work they do, and for how long? Officially, my warranty is for 60-days as long as WordPress, the theme, and plugins are all the same. I say it like that because sometimes a plugin will update and change how it functions and I can’t anticipate that even when I build sites using best practices. The reality is, as long as it’s a reasonable request and I feel that I likely should have caught that issue in the beginning, I generally fix things for my clients if things go wrong. Ultimately, I want happy customers and having someone fix things quickly for them is one way to make sure that happens. Whatever the warranty is, make sure you see value in it and understand its limitations before you pay anyone to work on your site. By using these key questions as you look for a WooCommerce developer, you can help ensure that you’ll be working with someone that fits the way you work, getting the project you want done on time and within budget. Build your high-performing WooCommerce store with Nexcess Create a store that converts traffic with Nexcess’ Managed WooCommerce hosting solution. It comes standard with Jilt to help you recover abandoned carts, performance tests whenever you need them, and the platform reduces query loads by 95%, leading to a faster store. The post The 11 Questions You Should be Asking Your WooCommerce Developer appeared first on Nexcess Blog.

Ecommerce Tips: How to Ship Large and Heavy Items

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When it comes to shipping, consumers definitely prefer fast & cheap (or free) — but determining how you ship your products & how you pass along or absorb that cost is tricky. And it becomes an even greater challenge if you sell large or bulky items. In this article we’re going to provide clarity into: How to pack boxes and calculate shipping costsHow to save money while shipping large and heavy itemsWhat qualifies as a large itemAnd finally, how you can ship large item with the three major carriers in the US How to Pack Boxes and Determine Shipping Costs  Products that are bulky (heavy or not), can be a challenge to ship. Your packaging must account for the item’s size while still allowing for packaging materials and filler. In addition there are both weight & size limits. If your package exceeds either of these limits you may need to find a different carrier or service.  Understanding Dimensional Weight If you think about how shipping carriers move packages around they do so with trucks. And these trucks have two limitations: WeightSpace If either of these are maxed out the carrier has to use more trucks & drivers which is one of their main expenses. To take both of these limitations into account carriers now use a formula combining both the dimensions & weight called Dimensional Weight. Here’s how to calculate dimensional weight:  Measure the package dimensions in inches. Multiply package length by weight by height. Divide by 139 for FedEx shipping and UPS Daily Rates. Use 166 instead for UPS Retail Rates. The result is the dimensional weight of the package.  Usually, carriers have you weigh your package and check the dimensional weight. They’ll generally charge whichever is higher. Make sure to compare the pricing and recommendations of carriers before shipping.  Cheapest Way to Ship Large Packages Depending on the shipping carrier and their specific requirements, costs can be calculated in different ways and packages can be categorized differently. You can do this in advance of customer purchases and set up your website to calculate shipping charges.  All of the major carriers offer free web tools and APIs to make this easier. For instance, USPS allows you to customize your customers’ online shipping experience with their free tools. Both WooCommerce & Magento offer software to help you calculate shipping costs with major carriers. You can also keep your shipping costs as low as possible by:  Weigh and measure your packaging materials. Try a variety of different packaging types. Use the lightest, most compact and cost-effective packaging materials possible.Customers like fast shipping, but consider offering a discount or incentive for longer shipping times since this may save you money.  Shop around and compare carrier pricing for products you frequently ship. Keep in mind that these requirements are subject to local differences. These guidelines apply to most packages shipped within the US. For other countries, check with the carrier.  Why Does Package Weight Matter? What are Heavy Packages?  If you know which shipping carrier you plan to use and the basic dimensions of the item you’re going to ship, you can develop a plan and get an accurate cost estimate. Weight and outer package dimensions are a big deciding factor in how much you’ll be paying for shipping.  Of course the packaging you use for shipping is part of the cost, too. Large and heavy products can be expensive to transport and may also require special packaging that’s durable and designed for heavy or bulky items. This may require custom-designed cushioning or reinforced box materials.  Custom materials may cost more and can also add to the weight and bulk of your shipment. The added mass ultimately means more fuel and resources used by the carrier to transport your product. Carriers pass these costs along to retailers as higher shipping charges.  Each carrier has their own definitions for a “large” package. Heavy items must be packaged appropriately before carriers can ship them, so be sure to read their requirements carefully. USPS shipping requirements don’t allow packages heavier than 70 pounds. So, if you have an item over that threshold, you might want to consider using a private carrier such as FedEx or UPS. UPS has special packaging requirements starting at 70 pounds while FedEx starts at 75 pounds. How to Pack Heavy Items for Shipment and Determine Shipping Costs Each shipping carrier has different guidelines & requirements for heavy & bulky items. With this in mind, here’s how to pack those items and determine your costs.  FedEx Guidelines and Pricing for Heavy Items Weight limits FedEx Home Delivery ships packages up to 70 pounds. Packages that are heavier than this are considered “heavy” and may be shipped through FedEx Ground if they are under 150 pounds. For items above 150 pounds, consider using FedEx Express Freight or FedEx Freight instead — these services accept shipments that are up to 20,000 pounds.  Outer Box Use corrugated cardboard for the outer box and package non-corrugated boxes inside instead of shipping these boxes on their own. For instance, if a guitar you’re shipping came inside a non-corrugated box, you should place the entire box inside a corrugated cardboard box for shipping. Use double-wall boxes if the item you’re shipping is heavy but under 150 pounds.  Inner Boxes Separate items inside the box in their own sealed boxes if they may be damaged under normal handling conditions.  Safety Labels Boxes that weigh over 70 pounds must be shipped via FedEx Ground, or FedEx Express Freight or FedEx Freight. If a box weighs over 75 pounds, you are required to attach a FedEx yellow and black heavyweight safety label. These are placed over the diagonal corners of the package. To get these labels, contact FedEx or visit a FedEx location.  Filler If you use filler material to cushion items, center your items away from box corners and wrap items carefully with cushioning material.  Pricing Your charges for shipping are based on weight, the FedEx services you choose, and the destination.  To get the most up-to-date information on weights and standards, view the general packaging guidelines from Fedex.  FedEx Requirements for Large Packages Size FedEx Home Delivery and FedEx Ground services require packages to be under 165 inches in both length and girth. For larger shipments, you may use FedEx Express Freight services or FedEx Freight. Using FedEx Freight, you can ship packages up to 21 feet long.  Large Packages That are Lightweight  Compare the true weight of the package with the calculated dimensional weight. FedEx charges the heavier of these two.  UPS Requirements and Pricing for Heavy Packages  Box Strength Packages weighing more than 70 pounds must meet the UPS Box Strength Guidelines. Use strong packaging designed for heavy objects. Choose brand-new boxes that haven’t been exposed to humidity.  Sealing Boxes Ideally, seams should be stapled or stitched shut. Glue may tear or break during shipping, and rip your package apart. Use heavy-duty, reinforced tape with three strips over the top and bottom seam and also seal the middle and edge seams completely.  Safety Labels The UPS safety label program begins at 70 pounds. Above this weight, packages should have yellow and black warning labels provided by UPS. The warning should be placed directly to the right of the address label. Write down the total weight on the white portion of the safety label.  Filler Avoid box filler that shifts or doesn’t protect heavy items. For instance, packaging peanuts and polystyrene pieces may not cushion fragile shipments enough if the items are also heavy enough to crush the filler pieces. UPS recommends that you consider alternatives that are more appropriate for shipping something heavy such as cardboard that’s custom developed for shipping.  Pricing Your pricing depends on the UPS service you choose, your package’s final destination, and your package’s weight. A “Large Package” or “Over the Maximum” surcharge may apply.  Review the UPS guidelines for packaging heavy shipments.  UPS Large Package Guidelines Size The maximum package size for UPS is 165 inches in both length and girth. Freight Services may allow for larger maximums, so it’s worth it to find out what specific requirements apply to what you’re shipping and where you’re shipping it.  Large Packages That are Lightweight  Compare the actual weight with the dimensional weight. UPS will charge you for whichever is higher.  Large Package Surcharge  UPS applies an additional charge for packages that exceed a length plus girth that’s over 130 inches. Unless you use Ground Freight Pricing, you’ll pay for at least 90 pounds.  USPS Guidelines for heavy items. Weight Packages above 70 pounds aren’t allowed. So any package you ship through USPS won’t technically be a heavy package. Under this weight limit, your packages could still seem heavy, so you may need to pack accordingly and be mindful of how you fill the boxes and protect your items.  Boxes Choose a durable box that’s large enough for the item and appropriate filler. If you reuse a box, make sure all logos and writing are completely crossed out.  Closure  Close the box with all flaps down and seal with tape. The packaging tape you use should be at least 2 inches wide.  Pricing Generally, pricing is determined through the USPS Flat Rates or through the package weight and destination.  To get the most up-to-date information on weights and standards, view the general packaging guidelines from USPS. USPS Guidelines for Large Packages  Size The Postal Service will ship packages up to 130 inches length and girth combined through their Retail Ground service. Normally, their limit is 108 inches.  Large Packages That are Lightweight  Flat Rate pricing applies for packages up to 70 pounds which allows you to use size to determine pricing. If you’re unsure, check with your local post office.  Read more about USPS guidelines.  By controlling costs and being smart about shipping, you can increase your profits. Don’t be afraid to experiment with shipping and look for the right shipping improvements for you.  Are You Ready to Grow Your eCommerce Business With Nexcess Managed Hosting? In addition to the shipping strategies we’ve listed here, a great hosting plan can be instrumental to growing your business. Fortunately, Nexcess has you covered. Our Managed WooCommerce hosting plan is ideal for growing businesses. Specially designed to convert more sales, Nexcess’s managed hosting for eCommerce is packed with cutting-edge technologies to reduce query load times and cart abandonment rates. Best of all, our plans arm you with more than 20 different performance tests so you’ll know you can accommodate tons of web traffic. Nexcess also offers a Managed Magento plan which makes sure your site stays safe, is backed up, gives you staging sites, and auto scaling so when you get a lucky traffic spike your website stays online to accept all of those payments. The post Ecommerce Tips: How to Ship Large and Heavy Items appeared first on Nexcess Blog.

Customer Retention Strategies For eCommerce Websites

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The post Customer Retention Strategies For eCommerce Websites appeared first on HostGator Blog. You did it! You made a sale. The investment you made in online marketing and advertising paid off in a new customer. But for your eCommerce business to be successful in the long term, you have to think beyond that first purchase. You don’t just want new customers, you want repeat customers.  A customer retention marketing strategy is an important marketing strategy for any eCommerce business.  It typically costs a lot in money and effort to gain each new customer. eCommerce businesses compete for attention in a crowded space. Getting someone to figure out your brand exists to begin with is no easy feat. But for that initial investment to pay off in the long term, you want to invest as much in retaining customers as you do in gaining them to begin with.  The good news is that customer retention in eCommerce is easier than customer acquisition. The customer already knows who you are. They already liked your website and product offerings enough to make that first purchase. Now you just have to prove your brand is worth keeping up a relationship with. 8 eCommerce Customer Retention Strategies Now you’re probably wondering how to retain customers in eCommerce. There are a number of valuable customer retention strategies that can give you an advantage in getting new customers to come back for more.  1. Provide exceptional customer service. By far, the most important of all customer retention strategies is providing top-notch customer service. HubSpot research found that 93% of consumers say they’re more likely to become repeat customers of businesses that have good customer service. If customers have a question or problem, they want to know they can trust a company to respond quickly to resolve it. Often customers won’t begrudge a brand the initial problem they experience if the response is good.  There are a few good ways to improve the customer service experience for your eCommerce business: Hiring good people.  Your brand will be judged based on the performance of the people delivering customer service. When hiring for the role, prioritize finding people who are skilled and empathetic. And make sure you treat employees right, so they want to perform well for the business when working with customers.  Being easy to reach. Have you ever spent way too long trying to track down the right phone number or email address to contact a company’s customer service? Or spent long minutes on hold waiting to reach a human being? How much time it takes a customer to reach someone to begin with is a big part of the customer service experience. Make your contact information easy to find, and be available in as many channels as possible.  Practicing active listening. When someone’s upset, often the thing they want most is to feel heard. Train everyone in customer service at your company to slow down and really listen to what your customer base has to say. Don’t try to offer a solution before they’ve had time to finish, and  repeat back the problem to show they’ve been heard. It’s a simple step to include in the process, but one that goes a long way.  Responding fast.  In our era of constant accessibility, customers expect to hear back from businesses fast. Try to have enough staff to ensure that you can reply to every customer question as quickly as possible. Even if you can’t provide a resolution right away, make it standard practice to send a response saying you’re working on it.  Empowering customer support staff to go the extra mile. If you hire great people, but place limits on what they can offer customers to resolve an issue, they won’t be able to perform at the level you need. Give them room to do what they feel is best, even if that means discounts or returns that cost the company money. That can be frustrating in the short term, but if it builds customer loyalty and good will in the long term, it will pay off. Hire good people and trust them to do their job well, and they’ll deliver the kind of service people remember into the future and tell their friends about. A bad customer service experience could drive a customer away from your brand forever. A good one is expected. But a great one—the kind that’s truly memorable—that’s how you build loyalty.  2. Start a subscription business. What’s the easiest way to make sure existing customers will keep coming back? Make it automatic!  A subscription business model doesn’t make sense for every type of eCommerce business. If you sell mattresses, for instance, people won’t need a new one again for years.  But there are lots of products that run out or wear out regularly enough that selling them on a subscription basis means more consistent purchases for you and greater convenience for your loyal customers. This works for necessities like toiletries and food items, fun stuff like books and games, as well as for digital products like software.  If you do start a subscription business, it’s even more important to provide exceptional customer service. The whole business model is based on customers wanting to maintain an active relationship with your brand for the long term. But do also make it easy for customers to cancel—if they feel like they have to jump through hoops, it will result in a negative customer  experience and ensure they won’t recommend you to friends or renew the subscription at a later point.  3. Set up a subscribe-and-save option. Even if your business isn’t fully based on a subscription model, you can still get some of the benefits of eCommerce subscriptions by incentivizing customers to treat their purchase as a subscription.  By offering a discounted rate or free shipping in exchange for setting up automatic future deliveries at the interval of their choice, you make it extremely easy for customers to commit to buying from you again. They like that loyalty translates to savings, and they can skip the work of putting in a manual order next time they’re running low on your product. And you’ll increase sales by removing all friction from future purchases. Everyone wins.  4. Create a loyalty program. Loyalty programs are common across industries and take a few different forms. For eCommerce websites, they can be a transformative marketing strategy. You can give loyal customers the opportunity to earn points as they buy from you and redeem them later. You can provide different levels of rewards based on how much people buy from you, like a VIP program.  Or you can go the punch-card route, and provide customers with a free item once they’ve purchased a predetermined number of products (buy six sandwiches, get the seventh free!).  Since eCommerce businesses can’t exactly hand out punch cards like sandwich shops can, you’ll need the right technology to power a customer loyalty program. The future of eCommerce business depends on showing your customers that you value them. Develop a strategy for what type of customer loyalty program you want to create, then research the eCommerce software available to find the right tool for the job.  Once you have a plan in place and the right tool to realize it, promote your loyalty program heavily to new and existing customers. Put a sign-up form right on your website, share it with your email list, and mention it on the confirmation page after someone makes a purchase. Give people an incentive to sign up—maybe a discount on their next purchase, or a free goodie for getting started. Then check in with them in the first few months. Gather customers’ feedback on how they’re liking the loyalty program and consider if you should tweak how it works to get better results. Whatever route you take, loyalty programs give people more of a reason to buy from you. They get to feel special as they accrue more points or reach that VIP level, and they associate that good feeling with your brand. And when you reward people for spending more money with you they, unsurprisingly, spend more money with you. It just makes sense. 5. Use email marketing.  Email marketing is the best tactic for staying top of mind with consumers, and keeping the customer relationship going. Make sure you give customers a chance to opt-in—don’t just assume that they’ll want to receive your emails because they made one purchase. That’s a good way to get marked spam. But promote your email list on your website, the confirmation page after they make a purchase, and in the confirmation email. Once they sign up, you have an in to keep in touch. Make good use of it. Send valuable content, special offers, and updates they’ll care about. Include links back to your website to encourage them to come back, but don’t be too pushy. Make your emails more about building a customer relationship than pushing the next sale.  6. Offer exclusive discounts. This is another good way to show customers you care about them. Provide them special offers others don’t get.  Make it clear they’re receiving a discount out of appreciation for the loyalty they’ve shown your business. You might consider sending them discount codes for a day you know is important to them, such as their birthday (if you know it) or the anniversary of when they first bought from you. 7. Provide advance access and special giveaways.  While discounts are nice, customers are used to seeing them from other brands.  Another way to make them feel special is to provide advance access or set up special giveaways only available to customers. If you’re launching a new version of the product or service they bought from you, offer them the chance to buy before the general public gets access. Or set up a contest that only customers qualify for that comes with a big prize, like a paid vacation or an expensive item.  Insider access makes people feel good. By creating an insider circle of sorts and inviting your customers in, you’re further solidifying their relationship with your brand and giving them a good reason to keep coming back.  8. Actively solicit customer feedback. Providing great customer experiences involves doing a lot of proactive work on your end. But it’s crucial that you not get so focused on what you’re doing that you forget about who’s on the other end of those customer retention strategies.  Everything you’re doing is about your customer base. Let them have a say in things too. Actively check in with your customers to find out how they’re doing. Use customer surveys after each purchase to get a read on how satisfied they are. But follow those up by reaching out to customers to set up actual conversations about their experience with your brand, and with any programs you’ve set up to increase customer retention. Also pay close attention to your reviews. A lot of the time, you don’t have to go to the customer to find out what they think, they’ll publish it for all the world to see of their own volition. Keep a close eye on the popular review sites to see what kind of feedback customers are providing. But hearing your customers’ feedback is just the first step. Follow through and take action based on what you learn. If customers are upset that you don’t provide customer support through their social media platform of choice, get set up on there with haste! If they love a product, but wish it was available in more colors, get to work expanding your product line to include those extra colors. If they wish all your dresses had pockets, well, you get the idea.  When eCommerce brands actually listen to their customers and take action based on their feedback, customers notice. And they’ll show how they feel about it with their purchasing choices.  Customer Retention and Your eCommerce Website If you’re not working to actively earn the loyalty of customers that have already bought from you once, you’re wasting a huge opportunity for your business. In the long run, a customer retention marketing strategy typically proves to be far more profitable than customer acquisition.  Granted, the latter is a required first step for the former, but it’s more affordable and valuable to focus on keeping customers once you’ve done the hard work of earning them than to put all of your effort toward getting that first purchase alone.  Learn more about our eCommerce website builder. Find the post on the HostGator Blog

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