by greg fraction December 10, 2019 0 Comments

6 Search Tips for 2020 from the Top SEO Experts

It’s that time of year again: where we review our experience from the past 12 months and give our recommendations on what will be most useful in the coming year.

As you may know, the landscape of search engine optimization changes constantly. If we don’t adapt to it, websites fall behind the pack and lose opportunities to convert. The best way to learn about these changes is from the horse’s mouth or, in our case, SEO Gurus who are at the top of their game.

To say I’ve learned a lot from people like Loren Baker (Search Engine Journal founder) and Russ Jones (Moz’s principal search scientist), amongst others this year is an understatement, but I boiled it down to six key takeaways I think every eCommerce merchant can benefit from in 2020:

 

1. SEOs need to do “proactive” rather than “reactive” SEO

All too often, the search guys are called in to optimize existing site content. The word ‘optimize’ is right there in their job title, after all. But this isn’t the best way to do things.

Ideally, SEOs should be involved in the marketing and content creation process from the very beginning, helping to map out content search engines want to see from day one rather than going back and cleaning up after the fact.

 

2. Instead of “doing SEO,” we should concentrate on SPI

Created by Stephan Bajaio of Conductor, SPI stands for Search Presence Intelligence. It means that SEO is no longer defined by just keywords and the top 10 search results on Google’s first page.

 

With Google’s Knowledge Graph and Answer Box creating a “search position zero,” users no longer even have to leave Google to get the answer to their question. Keywords go out the window in favor of useful, intelligent content that zeroes in on solving our customers’ pain points.

Answering highly specific, long-tail questions with our content becomes more of a priority–even more so with the rollout of Google’s BERT algorithm update this past October.

 

3. Prioritize the user experience

Take it straight from the horse’s mouth, or in this case, Google’s public search liaison Danny Sullivan:

Stop focusing so much on the “right” number of characters or hitting a certain word count. Instead, as Sullivan said, have good content.

When the user hits your page, is what they’re finding useful and engaging? Does it solve their problem? If the answer is no, it doesn’t matter if it’s 300 words or 2,300 words. It’s not going to get the results you’re looking for.

 

4. Pay attention to YouTube as a search engine

We’ve been hearing for years that our content marketing efforts need to focus on video, and it’s more important than ever for contemporary SEO.

YouTube ranks directly behind Google in direct search numbers, and its videos even receive prime placement at the top of Google’s search results. You’re doubling the ways users can find you.

With the rise of mobile and the drop-off in subscriptions to traditional television packages, it only makes sense to allocate more resources to creating and optimizing YouTube content.

 

5. Don’t neglect Bing, DuckDuckGo, and others

DuckDuckGo may only have 0.5% of the market share for search queries, but that still amounts to 48 million searches per day.

The market is simply massive, and if you’re having trouble ranking on Google–especially if you’re in a crowded and competitive market–turning your attention to other platforms can pay big dividends.

These “alternative” search engines each have their own ranking algorithms that differ from Google’s, so it’s wise to educate yourself on those. Here’s a starter guide to SEO for Bing and one for DuckDuckGo.

 

6. Test early and often, then test again

Luckily, this is something I think we nail at Parkfield, as we’re constantly looking for new ways to inch our client’s performance higher and higher. But it bears repeating: test one thing at a time, measure the effects with the precision of a scientist, analyze the results, then act on the data.

 

Get Expert SEO Help

We regularly attend conferences like Advanced Search Summit because it’s imperative to keep pace with the ever-changing search landscape. SEO is never “finished.” It’s a continuous process that we work tirelessly on to maximize revenue and market share for our clients.  

Are you ready to magnify your organic search traffic in 2020? Contact us to speak with a member of my team and get started today.

 

 

by greg fraction October 10, 2019 0 Comments

9 Ways To Increase Site Speed On Your Shopify Store And Crush Conversions

It should come as no surprise that mobile now accounts for more than half of all web traffic. That’s right—it’s surpassed desktop as the platform of choice for browsing the web.

But here’s a figure that our team finds much more remarkable: 70% of mobile pages take more than seven seconds to load the full page. In web browsing terms, that’s an eternity.

Today’s digital consumers are savvy and impatient. 53% of them will leave a mobile site that takes more than three seconds to load, and if they leave, the majority won’t bother to come back.

 

 

As the prevalence of mobile grows, the need for speed becomes even more urgent for eCommerce merchants. On top of that, site functionality is getting more complex every day, which compounds the necessity for agility.

Here, we’ll discuss some of the most prominent reasons to focus on improving your site speed as well as some practical ways to start working on it today.

 

Top Gun GIF

Why Site Speed Matters

 

Search Placement

We already touched on the impact site speed can have on your visitors, or more specifically, your ability to keep them on the page. That’s not only important for conversion rates; it’s a key metric Google weighs in search placement.

In mid-2018, the search giant announced that page speed would be a ranking factor in mobile search results (it’s been a factor in desktop search results for years). And site speed plays into another big ranking factor: bounce rate.

Bounce rate measures the proportion of visitors who exit your site after viewing only one page.         While Google hasn’t directly stated that bounce rate is part of its algorithm, it’s been widely documented by leading search experts that it has an effect on search placement.

Of course, as an eCommerce retailer, you want to achieve the highest search placement possible. Thus, it’s wise to be mindful of your site’s load time.

 

Revenue

Perhaps even more compelling for online retailers is the impact of search speed on revenue.

A one-second delay in page response time can result in a 7% reduction in conversions. If you’re making $100,000 per day, that tiny lag could cost you $2.5 million in sales every year. As the seconds of delay add up, the revenue loss increases exponentially.

A slow load time also impacts your customer satisfaction and retention rates. For these reasons, it makes good business sense to work on getting your site to load as fast as possible while retaining functionality.

 

How To Improve Your Site Speed

 

1) Before You Do Anything, Test

To measure your efforts, you need to have a baseline to start with. Before starting any redesign project, we run a thorough site speed test to assess the site’s starting point. You can do this with a free tool like GTmetrix or Google’s Page Speed Insights.

 

 

Also, it’s important to test other sites in the same category, like your key competitors, so you can compare apples to apples when analyzing your performance. Some industries inherently call for more complex sites, while others are simpler. At the time of this post, automotive, retail and tech sites typically take the longest to load.

 

2) Focus On Speed From Step 1

All too often, we work with clients who haven’t given speed a thought in their previous web development efforts. It’s much more challenging to correct a slow site than to build a fast one. When designing or revamping your eCommerce site, speed should be considered as early as the design stage.

Note that for every piece of complex functionality you add, there will be an impact to site speed. That’s not to say you shouldn’t pursue complex design; yet, you should weigh its value to the user compared its costs in page load time.

 

3) Develop For Mobile First

Traditional practice is to develop desktop design first, mobile second. If we want to reach peak site speed performance, we must flip this way of thinking.

Instead, develop your site’s mobile design first. This way, you’re starting with a clean slate and building elements that work right out of the box on mobile rather than trying to adapt elements that were made for desktop into often-buggy mobile versions. We think you’ll be pleasantly surprised how much easier it is to adapt a mobile site for desktop than the other way around.

 

4) Develop On Two Themes

When implementing your design, consider developing on two versions of the theme—one non-compressed and one compressed. Compressed code can save on load time, but it’s more challenging for developers to read and make changes to in the future.

To remedy this, develop first on your non-compressed theme, then push the changes to the compressed version. It makes the design process take a bit longer up front, but can save you time and headaches down the road when making site updates.

 

5) Beware Of Themes With Tons Of Bells & Whistles

Be wary of picking a theme based on aesthetics alone. Many themes have far more elements than an eCommerce retailer needs, which can slow down the site with no upside whatsoever.

It’s best to build on a skeleton template and tweak it to look the way you want than to pick a theme for how it looks and try to overwrite the existing code. Approaching design this way can save on development time, too.

 

6) Identify Consistent Speed Issues

Most websites have anywhere from a handful to a long list of speed issues that occur on a consistent basis. Monitor these and keep a running list of action items to improve them so you can keep them top-of-mind during your development process.

Some of these issues might include minifying CSS and JavaScript, avoiding landing page redirects, deferring parsing of JavaScript, etc.

 

7) Beware Of Apps

Apps are awesome…until they’re not. Sometimes the cost in site speed outweighs the convenience of using certain kinds of apps.

Of specific concern are applications that use jQuery, which almost always results in a negative impact on site speed. We use JavaScript, which requires more lines of code but is faster for accessing DOM (in layman’s terms, it’s like cutting out a middleman which saves time on the user’s end).

 

8) Take Advantage Of AMP

AMP stands for Accelerated Mobile Pages. It’s a tool designed by Google that delivers stripped-down, ultra-fast versions of web pages that provide a better mobile experience for the user. If you’ve read articles from any major newspaper online, chances are you read it on an accelerated mobile page.

 

 

AMP works great for site pages that require minimal design elements, like blog posts and simple single product pages. It’s not great for pages with more complex elements, like smart opt-in forms or dynamic image switching. Your best bet is to learn more about AMP so you can decide if and where it’s appropriate to implement on your site.

 

9) Test, Test, And Test Some More

We conduct site speed tests throughout the development process to stay ahead of potential issues. This is better than waiting to test site speed at the end of development, as it allows you to correct problems as they arise and saves time in the long run.

If you’re working on improving an existing site, change one thing at a time and test the results. This will allow you to get an accurate assessment of the impact each change makes before you move on to trying something else.

For a deep analysis of how every element on your site affects its speed, create a skeleton copy of your theme and test the base site speed. Then, re-add elements one at a time and test to see which of them hinder your site’s speed the most.

Some of our most frequently used tools for testing include the Lighthouse extension (run it incognito), Pingdom, and GT Metrix.

 

Take The Next Step

Are you ready to find out how fast your site can be? Our team of eCommerce experts is eager to speak with you about improving your site’s speed and performance to benefit your bottom line. Contact us today for a complimentary consultation.

Selling Online During The Holidays 2018 (7 Ways to Boost Sales)

The Black Friday and Cyber Monday weekend is the biggest time of the year for eCommerce merchants. What was once a 24-hour sale has turned into a four-day event for shoppers around the globe.

In 2017, the world adopted Cyber Monday as mainstream which created a record-breaking holiday weekend event. Mobile shopping bypassed desktop in revenue and emails experienced the highest conversions ever. The biggest sales areas were apparel, accessories, and housewares. Shoppers in the United States spent $16 billion during the Black Friday weekend and on Cyber Monday, an additional $6.6 billion was spent in a single day!

With the holidays quickly approaching, many merchants worry about rising ad costs, customer service needs, inventory, shipping, fulfillment, and returns processes. These are all valid concerns and it is crucial to plan ahead so that you can anticipate the holiday rush without missing a beat.

To help with your planning, be sure to download a copy of Holiday eCommerce Revealed by Shopify. You’ll glean key strategy and insights from brands that generate $10 million+ each year in revenue.

When to start planning

If you’ve put off your 2018 planning, you’re not alone. Only 6% of large merchants are early birds that plan in Q1 while over 25% wait to start during Q4.

Whether you started planning last January or are just starting today, the key to maximizing BFCM profits is by planning and collecting the right data.

Making the Most of Low-Cost Ads NOW

By planning ahead, you can take advantage of the low-cost, paid ads in the days leading up to the event and avoid being sticker shocked when Facebook raises prices by 140% at the start of Black Friday.

You can also increase your client database by running ads now on social platforms. You’ll get your products in front of your targeted audience and spend a lot less on the ad campaign.

Plus, you’ll be able to target them specifically for Black Friday. Social Media is a great way to build your list so that when you’re ready to run ads during Black Friday, your audience is primed and ready for your product or service.

Segment Your Acquired Audience

Segmenting your audience will reap huge benefits over a standard one-size-fits-all email blast. Be strategic and measure your results. Go with what works and ditch what doesn’t. Be sure to segment male and female lists – this is often the most overlooked segmentation strategy.

Prep Work & Best Practices for BFCM

You may see 3-4x the average daily sales around Black Friday so preparation is essential. It may be helpful to up your site speed and efficiency by using a company like Pingdom to help you identify areas that need improvement.

You will also want to target your most popular items and provide a seamless checkout experience. The planning doesn’t have to be overwhelming to be successful but there must be strategy driving it.

Below is a comprehensive checklist of best practices to enhance your online visibility during the Black Friday weekend event.

Make Your Site Aesthetically Pleasing

  • Create an optimized holiday theme (Aim for less story and brand and more selling. They are at your site to SHOP!)

  • Showcase your best sellers on the homepage and insert a slider

  • Change the menu navigation to highlight products

  • Create collections for curated gifts with names like “Great for Her/Him”

Enhance the Tech Side

  • Optimize images (no PNGs)

  • Combine multiple CSS & JS

  • Minimize DNS

  • Reduce apps & plugins

  • Reduce redirects

  • Avoid broken links

Market Strategically

  • Actively A/B test  EVERYTHING!

  • Use imagery, messaging, and graphics on all social channels and email blasts

  • Utilize apps like Optimizely, Neat A/B, and Hot Jar

  • Find out what is successful and what is not

Use Social Media

  • Post social proof like reviews and utilize Judge.me, Yotpo, and Shopify Reviews
  • Position your logo on all of your social feeds so that every platform is uniform
  • Speak the language of your customer on each social feed
  • Share what people love about your products on your Story features

Upgrade the Product Pages

  • Enhance product page messaging so that it is concise and simple
  • Make shipping times / expected day clearly visible
  • Create a clear Returns Policy – are you going to be extending warranty for gifts?
  • Emphasize low inventory (Adds pressure to purchase)
  • Consider a countdown ONLY for the holidays

Utilize Discounts

  • Offer (%) discounts if your products are under $100

  • Use Dollar ($) discounts if your products are over $100 (it’s more appealing psychologically)

  • Vary discounts each day (gives the consumer a reason to come back and allows the store to test what type of discounts work best)

  • Feature product recommendations or special combos

Optimize Average Order Value (AOV)

  • Free shipping over X value
  • Offer product bundling
  • Use apps like Bold Product Bundling and Freegifts app

 

Post-Holiday Analysis

You might feel like taking a breather but hold off until the post-holiday sales and analysis are over.

Evaluate your sales by product and feature and then focus on these products for your post-sale campaign. We recommend marketing the most popular products more often. To help get a better idea of data, collect from the obvious names like Google Analytics and Shopify Analytics. We also like Hot Jar and Glew.io.

Key Dates to Remember to Make BFCM a Success:

  • Email Marketing Blasts: November 1-22

  • Thanksgiving Pre-Sale: Celebrate with a Black Friday Pre-Sale. Less competition = Less marketing dollars spent.

  • Black Friday, Cyber Monday (BFCM): Offer different types of discounts for each day (give 24-hour notice for each)

  • December 15 Free Express Shipping: Incentivize shoppers by notifying that  this is their last day to order gifts for Christmas

  • December 26 Boxing Day: Great idea for a sale if you have international customers ie, Canada, UK, Australia..etc

Remember, the best time to start prepping for the holidays is TODAY! Download your copy of Holiday eCommerce Revealed by Shopify to learn what’s working for multi-million dollar eCommerce business owners and how you can implement these strategies into your business.

Here’s to a great eCommerce season. Cheers!

Join us for Shopify’s Shop Class event this October (2018)

Whether you are a new online retailer or an eCommerce veteran, you won’t want to miss Shopify’s tactical workshops that are specifically designed to help business owners thrive.

Each class has one goal in mind: To equip you with the necessary tools to drive results.

You’ll receive 1-on-1 appointments with top experts, personalized support, and amazing opportunities to network with business leaders in your local community. This event is a fantastic way to grow your business and expand your reach in the eCommerce marketplace.

We hope that you will come by our table and say hello!

Here is everything you need to know about this special event:

When: October 16-18, 2018

Where: 381 Broadway, New York City, New York 10013

Time: Workshops start at 10:00 am. For the full schedule, click here.  

Buy Tickets: You can join the waiting list by clicking here.

Here is a complete list of the workshops offered:

  • Making the Most of Holiday Selling – Prepare for big shopping days like Black Friday and Cyber Monday by knowing what to expect and how using promotional strategies like optimizing marketing discounts can set you apart during the holiday season.
  • Getting Started with Shopify – Get insider tips on setting up your Shopify store for success from start to finish. We cover navigating admin, setting up payments and domain, and offer tips with merchandising product collections so that you save time and can start selling quickly. 
  • How to Find Your Ideal Customers – Identify strategic ways to create relevant content and specific campaigns that speak to your customers while running a successful paid marketing ad.
  • Finding and Selling Your Product – Step-by-step guidance on how to select the right product to sell, where to source it, how to sell and ship it, as well as tips for where to find the right customers. 
  • Sell Everywhere – See why selling in person is powerful for growing your business and how Shopify Point of Sale can help make your selling experience flawless.
  • How to Keep Your Ideal Customers – Ensure that you keep loyal customers for years to come by correctly analyzing campaign performance and utilizing your remarketing strategies, website layout, and discounts. 
  • Checking out with PayPal – Paypal experts share how Express Checkout and PayPal Marketing Solutions can streamline your checkout process.
  • Unlocking more buyers with eBay – Find out why selling in multi-channels is essential to drive more traffic to your listings and how you can conveniently implement it in your store.

 Trust us, Shopify knows how to put on a great event. Even though it is currently sold out, do yourself a favor and get on the waitlist now. You won’t regret it.

By going to this Shop Class, you’ll expand your eCommerce knowledge, discover new ways to drive more traffic to your site, enhance your current systems, and identify ways to grow.

It’s a win-win. Plus, we’ll get to meet you in person!

Shopify will keep the waitlist open so that everyone who is interested in attending has a chance to come but that’s no excuse to wait to add your name. This waitlist will probably get long rather quickly so reserve your waitlist spot today. We’ll hope to see you at Shopify’s Shop Class starting October 16th.

Why eCommerce Data Matters (and how to use it)

Data is essential to creating a marketing plan that works, but how do you collect and analyze data when it is streaming in from everywhere? Then, how do you turn it into something useful that increases revenue for your online store?

What Qualifies as Data?

The first step to utilizing data is to recognize your sources. Data is all the information we get from social media, streaming data (like IT), and publicly available sources that reveal priceless insight about our buyers and their trends. It helps marketers strategize and offer products that customers want. It also helps you provide a seamless user experience that is essential in today’s internet world.

While that may seem like a lot to take in, here’s what to remember: It’s not about how much data you collect but rather what you do with it that matters.

Why Data is Use for Retailers

Creating efficient, pixel perfect websites is just the first (majorly important) step to developing your brand. From there, you must track and measure everything from website traffic, click-throughs, social media, email campaigns, and everything in between.

It is worth investing in data analysis so that you can know exactly what works and what doesn’t. In this ever-changing internet economy, you must grow and develop as a brand that easily speaks your customers’ language.

You Can Use Data in Retail to:

  • Know What Your Customer Wants
  • Provide the Best Customer Service
  • Create Efficient and Safer Online Payments
  • Forge Ahead in Mobile Commerce
  • Resolve Abandon Cart Issues

Tech giant SAS notes that “Customer relationship building is critical to the retail industry – and the best way to manage that is to manage big data. Retailers need to know the best way to market to customers, the most effective way to handle transactions, and the most strategic way to bring back lapsed business. Big data remains at the heart of all those things.”

Pro Tip: Find out what is working and stick with it  – tweak campaigns as the need arises and don’t be afraid to stop using a strategy that is not producing revenue.

But how do you organize and analyze data effectively?

Shopify notes that implementing retail data will help you know how to organize and stock your store based on buying trends. Retail data will also help you present a strong multichannel experience for today’s customer, who wants a seamless experience every time they interact with your brand.

With the amount of data we are able to collect, the possibilities of how to organize and analyze it effectively are quite endless. There are hundreds of platforms that you can use but an app like Springbot could prove useful in helping track and measure the results of your marketing efforts. You can read more about it by clicking here.

In a nutshell, Springbot delivers marketing automation and analytics in one platform and offers data-driven marketing recommendations to help grow your revenue.

We recently spoke with Danielle from Springbot to find out how people are using the app to create automated marketing campaigns, easy integrations, and simplified reporting.

Click here to read how one of the nation’s leading eco-friendly accessory brands successfully implemented Springbot and opened up new revenue channels and experienced a 10% increase in active subscribers in less than 3 months.

Data produces tangible outcomes and gives you more access to customer buying trends than ever before; the key is using it correctly.

What’s Next with Your Data?

It might feel overwhelming when you realize how much information you have on hand, but there’s no need to stress.  Start by taking action. Take inventory of your current systems and look for ways to streamline your data process.

Ask questions like:

  • How am I collecting data?
  • Is it efficient?
  • Am I using the data I have to maximize profits?

There is always room for growth, so consider bringing in a third party like Springbot to take a look at your processes to see if there are ways to improve your systems. There is a lot of money to be made in eCommerce retail and data is a key component to your success.

What’s Your Shopify’s Conversion Rate? (4 Steps to Maximize CRO)

Suppose your website is pixel perfect and you are driving qualified prospective buyers to your site Now,  how do you convert those prospects into buyers and buyers into loyal brand advocates?

Cue Conversion Rate Optimization. CRO helps you create quantifiable data that you can use to increase sales and profits.  It is calculated by dividing the number of people taking an action (like making a purchase) by the number of people who are asked to take that action.

When implementing CRO, you want to see an increase in the number of sales and the average order value while seeing a decrease in the number of returns and refunds issued. This is accomplished through a layered CRO strategy. It is not an overnight process, but it pays off dividends over time. Plus, well-implemented CRO leads to an increase in positive reviews, increased buyer referrals, repeat purchases, and fewer customer complaints.

Here’s a 4-step process to creating a conversion strategy that works

#1 Start with a Super Efficient Shopper Journey

Customers don’t want to be hassled with slow page loads, website issues, or dysfunctional systems. They want everything to be streamlined and efficient so that their experience with your brand is effortless and pleasant.  Consider hiring an operation systems analyst to build a great customer experience for your site. Having someone evaluate your processes is beneficial because they may see something that day-to-day operations might miss. An OSA will also create workflows with minimal steps to ensure you keep happy, loyal customers.

# 2 Develop a CRO strategy plan

Conversion expert Brian Massey notes that “there is always more revenue to find” and says that while “CRO isn’t about quick wins,” it will create solid processes, measurable data, and real results. He stresses that you must “tie tests back to bottom line goals” and “measure tests all the way through to the sale.”

You may find our Conversion Guide helpful in narrowing down how to create a winning CRO strategy.  You can click here to download your free guide and start developing new strategies that will deliver maximum sales revenue.

#3 Optimize for Mobile Devices

More than 50% of online shopping is conducted from mobile devices so it is worth investing time and resources into enhancing the mobile experience. Typically, smartphone shoppers want to find something very specific, very quickly. To close the sale, it’s essential to give them a hyper-efficient experience. Load time should be under one second, and photographs should be compressed to the smallest size without losing image quality.

#4 Remember the value of human contact

Customers spend a lot of time in front of screens and digitizing everything may seem enticing, but they still want the option to interact with people.  Think about how frustrating it is to call a number to get real-life assistance, only to end up speaking to a robot that doesn’t understand what you say unless it’s a keyword.  Help your customers avoid that headache by giving them the power to interact with your customer service experience on a personal level.

Set yourself apart and care about the individual shopper, not just the masses, by making all your customer service features intentionally. Even automation can be intentional. Implement live chat so that customers can speak with a representative in real time. Create your automated emails to come from a person, not just “Support” and prepare to be amazed by how people jump at the opportunity to partner with your brand.

Success Stories: Brand Development Strategies from Kulani Kinis

Dani Atkins went on vacation to Hawaii to decompress and relax and was blown away by the sticker price for swimsuits. The two suits she ordered cost her a startling $500. She felt frustrated by this and knew she could create excellent swimsuits for affordable prices.

With drive and determination, Dani and her business partner, Alex Babich, created Kulani Kinis – a thriving brand that is tracking to hit 1.5-2 million USD in revenue by June 2018.

Notable customers include ASOS, Forever 21, and ModCloth. But this previous psychologist turned entrepreneur admits that in the beginning, she and Alex did everything and learned a lot along the way, but even as the brand continues to grow, Dani holds the core value of providing an excellent product at an affordable price as a non-negotiable, no matter how big they get.

Dani shares “I have a lot of empathy and that’s why we get a lot of customers who come back to us. I hold the customer at the heart of the business because without the customer there is no business.”

Owning the Volume Model

Originally, Dani looked at selling wholesale swimsuits online but found that she would be purchasing suits at the very price she wanted to sell them. She discovered the swimwear model is margin-based and not volume-based which is often why the cost per suit is so high in the marketplace.

Dani wanted a great price and a great product so she created her own bootstrapped startup that went against the grain and ran with a volume based model instead. Their suits are manufactured in the same places as some of the biggest brands so their customers are not only getting quality merchandise, they’re getting it for under $100 per suit.

The duo invested all their money and ran Kulani Kinis as a side hustle, working nights and weekends. Within 6-9 months, Dani jumped from part-time to full-time. She created her own designs on Canva and Shopify, packaged her own products, and Alex would ship them on his lunch break. They claim it wasn’t hard work they did, but they worked really hard.

Eventually, Alex joined full-time because there was too much to do. Once they entered the trade show market and went from online to in-store, there was a huge shift. Today, they still keep a lot of things in-house like social media and pick-and-pack, but as they’ve grown, they’ve realized the value of outsourcing benefits too.

They partnered with us here at Parkfield Commerce to upgrade their websitethrough a collaborative effort and we communicated their voice through design. Brand development is not just a logo; it’s everything from the lifestyle you portray right down to how you make new and existing customers feel when they visit your website.

The biggest trustmark is a great design. We wanted to ensure their users had a pixel perfect experience. Kulani Kini is like  Porsche in the sense that we’ve made small forward thinking changes directed by the customer and their behaviors.

We did not copy what competitors do for their websites and instead stayed true to this brand’s ethos and ideas. We elevated Kulani Kini’s online presence by telling an authentic story through original content and design.

Social Media’s Influence

Initially, Dani started with Instagram and influencer marketing but she quickly discovered that the fees to advertise with top influencers were quite steep, so she decided to exchange value.

Instead, she focused on giveback. Kulani Kinis ran competitions and gave away suits to increase brand awareness and grow their social media platforms. They looked at their inventory as a way to get the word out about their brand.

Along the way, she found a few girls who had a million plus followers who agreed to take pictures in exchange for swimsuits. Today, Kulani Kinis continues to collaborate with like-minded brands ranging from sunglasses and coconut water to vegan supplements, beach towels, etc. to increase brand reach and promote brand awareness.

As a result, they grew quickly and currently have a strong social media presence on Instagram with 107,000 followers and counting. Alex notes that though social media isn’t the end-all, it is a great touchpoint. He calls it a great lead generator and customer acquisition at its core. It’s not always instant gratification but over time, it works.

They both advocate that advertising should take up a significant part of your budget and if you can’t do cash advertising, then product exchange is a great route to brand building.

The Tradeshow Gamechanger

The power duo started their tradeshow journey by attending one in Huntington Beach last minute. Their trade show booth was placed on the end in a really good position where foot traffic had to pass them as they came up the stairs. As everyone passed them, they capitalized on the opportunity to really sell their brand.

Their first big client was Honolulu Surf, a subsidiary of Billabong and a brand they both grew up wearing. From there, things began to fall into place. They met a neighbor at the tradeshow who explained how everything worked and did quick, one-hour tutorials with Dani in their downtime.

He also let them know when Forever 21 was heading their way and told them to get ready to grab their attention. They learned that you never know who you are speaking to and you have to be ready for when opportunity walks past. They landed a deal with Forever 21 during that tradeshow and still work with them today.

Key Strategies They Learned Along the Way

When they first started, Dani approached some girls at a local cafe and asked them to take some swimsuit model pictures. She found a photographer, offered everyone a little bit of cash, gave them swimsuits and gift bags, and it turned into a beautiful shoot.

Dani saw the value of the investment and within a year, they hired a career model whose partner was a photographer. They took a product that wasn’t selling well, updated it, photographed the model wearing it, put it online and it began to sell overnight.

They discovered quickly that pictures sell really well and today one of their biggest expenses is getting amazing imagery. They have regular photo shoots on the second of every month to deliver excellent pictures for their customers. They believe there is great value in having a significant advertising budget and it has paid off handsomely for their business.

Though neither had marketing backgrounds, they rolled up their sleeves and worked hard to achieve their success. They weren’t afraid to ask questions, try new things, and take calculated risks to receive dividends of success.

How Brand Development Affects eCommerce Conversions

Building a trustworthy brand directly affects how consumers view your business. This is particularly true with eCommerce brands. People do business with brands that they know, like, and trust, which is why every successful brand concentrates on messaging.

But how does branding affect your eCommerce conversions? The key is meeting your customer where they are and providing an excellent customer experience. The goal is to confirm in their mind that they’ve made a great decision doing business with you.

Two ways to solidify trust within your brand are establishing a solid customer service team and building a user-friendly website. Digital marketing consultant, Shane Barker says that “Your website is the single biggest weapon you can use to gain customer trust.”

It’s not only aesthetically pleasing to have a great site, but it is a crucial component to getting your message across. While most companies have some type of website, most do not fully invest in a brand marketing budget that focuses on creating an excellent online experience. Some don’t see the advantage of a reliable, user-friendly website, but it might be worth asking, “Can you afford not to?”

In 2017, an estimated 1.66 billion people purchased online. Global e-retail sales hit 2.3 trillion USD and projections are saying that by 2021, it will reach 4.48 trillion USD. The trend in internet purchasing continues to skyrocket and business owners need to invest in an eCommerce website to stay relevant.

 

Ensuring Your Presence is Strong

You probably aren’t new to online shopping, but there are key components that can enhance user experience in your website to create a brand that people know, like, and trust. Here are a few things to consider when evaluating your current website capabilities.

Page Load Performance – How quickly does your page load? If it takes longer than 4 seconds, it is too long. (Hint: Every 1 second of improvement = 1% improvement in conversion rates.)

Mobile Friendly –  Does your current site have mobile capabilities that make shopping easy on the eye?

Abandoned Carts – Is your site set up to recapture lost customers who added to their cart and then forgot to complete the purchase?

Refunds – Is your current refund process easy? Is it a headache for customers to return products?

Customer Service – What does your current customer experience look like? Many businesses use live chat and Zendesk to ensure excellent customer service because it will have a lasting impact on brand image.

Marketing – Is your marketing strategy effectively conveyed through your current platform?

It’s not just about getting the perfect customer, it’s about keeping them. Building trust through brand development and best practices helps customers relate to you. The goal of a website is to provide a user-friendly experience that makes your brand the obvious first-choice when customers are ready to purchase.

Customer Service that Exceeds Expectations

It’s a lot easier to keep a current customer than it is to find a new one, which is why having a great customer service department is essential for online revenue.

Research by American Express found that 60% of customers are willing to pay more for a better experience. Quality assurance matters and how companies deal with problems as they arise is crucial to maintaining a transparent and authentic brand.

Super Office notes that, “Companies who successfully implement a customer experience strategy achieve higher customer satisfaction rates, reduced customer churn, and increased revenues.” Similarly, a recent study by Oracle revealed that, “Ninety-seven percent of executives agree that delivering a great customer experience is critical to business advantage and results…and that the average potential revenue loss for not offering a positive, consistent, and brand-relevant customer experience is 20% of annual revenue.” In fact, many businesses plan to increase current funds for customer experience by 18% in the next two years.

The executives part of the Oracle Global Research Study also shared that successful customer experiences start with:

  • Building training programs and incentives to encourage employees to offer a great experience
  • Updating company core values to include customer experience
  • Implementing a specific technology to improve customer service like live chat

The Winning Combination

It is vital to understand the power of a strong website presence and a solid customer experience department. Taking steps to strengthen these areas is critical for revenue growth for eCommerce brands particularly, as that is the primary, if not the exclusive way, they communicate with their clientele. Thanks to social media, one bad review can spread quickly, and having a team in place to handle issues as they arise will not only help in that situation but will also build a brand that people know, like, and trust for the future.

Connecting with your customers and taking care of them as they journey through their purchase will create a memory in their mind that you are a brand that puts their needs above your own. In return, your eCommerce sales will increase and your online presence will strengthen and grow.

3 Top Branding Tips to Boost Your Online Sales

As an established small to medium-sized business, you may not be looking to brand build from scratch but you do need to make sure that you maintain brand consistency. The key is staying relevant, transparent and engaging to your core customers.

People are flooded with brands trying to differentiate themselves every day, so how do you build and maintain a brand that customers remember?

Thanks to the internet, it’s not hard or expensive to run an ad that reaches thousands or even millions of people. Reports say we see nearly 4,000 ads per dayand while that might seem overwhelming, strong branding and targeted advertising can help you make big waves in a sea of businesses.

Creating a solid brand development strategy allows you to connect with current customers, find new ones and keep all of them as loyal brand followers for years to come. It’s much more expensive to find a new customer every time you want to make a sale versus re-selling to your client base online.

Top business and career coaches from The Forbes Coaches council shared how media, eCommerce, and branding all tie together. We’ve compiled three strategies from their advice that will increase your brand awareness so that it works with you to increase your eCommerce sales:

#1 Let Media Work For You

The beauty of your brand is that it is your story to tell. With all of the smartphones, cameras, computers, etc available, your company has the power to own the narrative.

Find your audience and then go where they are. If they’re on Instagram, build a great profile, focus on getting new followers, follow accounts that have followers who would be interested in your product, create excellent pictures, share behind the scenes in your Stories, and run ads through the Facebook Ads Manager.

If they’re podcasters, collaborate with podcast hosts and run ads with them. If they’re on Facebook, provide excellent content that keeps them coming back to your page for more. Run ads that are strategically targeted to your core customers and directly engage them in the comments. Wherever your people are, meet them and then create the best resources they’ve ever seen about your niche.

#2 Invite the Pros

Find out what the pros have to say about your company. Find a business coach and invite them in for honest feedback. Allow them to see the inner workings of your business so they can help you grow. Feedback at its heart is designed to accelerate growth.

By allowing an expert to come in and evaluate your brand, you will gain a better perspective on how your customers view you. Studies show that business who receive 3+ hours of mentoring see higher revenues and increased business growth.

Working with a business coach also helps you correct typical patterns and common mistakes. It helps alleviate some of the pressure of being in charge.  Executive coach, Bill Treadwell says, “It’s lonely at the top, and, just as a CEO holds his hires accountable, an objective third party — a coach — serves to hold the CEO accountable.”

#3 Be a Helper, Not a Seller

People know when they are on the receiving end of a sales pitch – and most people don’t like it one bit. Instead of blending in with the masses, look for unique ways to set yourself apart. The current trends for eCommerce have significantly changed over the years. Helping and not selling is a new technique that is becoming more mainstream. Consumers are more educated now due to the extensive wealth of knowledge the internet contains.

Combine useful information with your niche to develop content that will educate, empower, and motivate your customers. Providing relevant and helpful content makes customers feel like you are speaking directly to them.

When you establish that bond, they will know, like, and trust you, so you won’t have to worry about selling. They’ll buy from you because you’ve established trust and created a loyal brand following.

How to Write Compelling eCommerce Product Descriptions

When it comes to effective product description optimization, boring doesn’t sell.  Successful eCommerce vendors know that how you portray your products in your descriptions is just as important as the quality of images or your website’s load time. The dull, generic descriptions often provided by suppliers tend to miss the mark when it comes to grabbing your customers attention- let alone enticing them to buy. If you are looking to create top-quality product descriptions that bring your Shopify store to the next level, we’ve compiled four critical tips worth considering.

Originality is key

Get creative. While it is essential to keep appropriate keywords for search engine users, that does not mean you have to sacrifice originality for optimization. Great e-commerce branding strategies start with creativity and originality. Create descriptions that stand out from your competitors and represent what makes your brand unique. You know your customers better than anyone. Tailor your descriptions to appeal directly to your clientele. Personalization and customization in e-commerce helps to connect your brand with your audience. If your descriptions are the same as most other eCommerce vendors in your niche, you miss out on an opportunity to give customers a reason to see why your product is a clear choice over your competitors.

Make it voice-enabled

“Alexa find…” Voice-enabled searching is changing how people find products,subsequently making a significant impact on eCommerce businesses. E-Commerce growth projections are through the roof, and they aren’t going anywhere. Just look at Amazon, a multi-billion dollar company and the impact they’ve had on online shopping. Think about how you would ask a voice-enabled device about your products and incorporate potential queries into your product description strategy. Having your Shopify mobile optimized is important in today’s day and age. Just take a look at Siri! Integrating the language effectively can lead to effortless matches to your wares.

Utilize sensory vocabulary

The human mind has an incredible ability to connect words to feelings and experiences. Use it to your advantage by allowing your customers to experience your products’ appeal via your descriptions. Get their senses involved and you will engage their minds and imaginations. Let them experience the sumptuousness of your food items and be tempted by the irresistible smells and flavors until they start drooling onto their phones and keyboards. Pictures do wonders but the deep, silky decadence of a dark chocolate trifle can sometimes be lost without a little linguistic encouragement. Similarly, if you are selling clothing, give your buyers an opportunity to feel the texture and quality of the materials slide onto their skin via your word choices. Is it heavy? Satiny? Luxuriously soft? If they can feel themselves wrapped in your wares, your description and products have come alive with nothing but a little time investment.

Social Proof

Aristotle once said, “Man is a social animal” and we are happy to say it holds true even in product description optimizing.  Social proof works wonders in adding intrigue to an item. Is your product a top seller on Amazon or in your online store? Flaunt that fact in your product description! Customers will be curious about what makes your product so fantastic that so many others are hooked by it. They will be encouraged to purchase just because others are so impressed with it.

Don’t believe us? We spoke with Tracy Damas, a product description writer from the high-end, designer fashion site, THE OUTNET.  After her nearly 10 years of sales-oriented writing experience, she can’t stress the importance of engaging copy enough. She writes, “Although there are millions of eCommerce websites that include descriptions that state the bare minimum, the ones that incorporate creative copy with factual information are the ones that pull in the most traffic.” She explains further, “a certain online fashion retailer geared towards teens and young adults can easily sit on the laurels of the multi-billion dollar revenue they earned last year based on product images alone. However, they successfully set themselves apart from other fashion sites by describing their clothing in a way that not only tells them that it is cool but how cool it’d look on you!” Equal parts sales-worthy and informative, the best product descriptions, Ms. Damas declares, are the ones that resonate with buyers long after they’ve clicked on the ‘Purchase’ button in the checkout cart.

The moral of the story? The more effort you put into crafting your product descriptions, the higher your eCommerce ROI (return on investment) will be. It may take longer to create compelling product descriptions but the survival of your online business may depend on your wordsmithing skills. Remember these tips and you’ll be surprised at how your eCommerce store starts to outrun its bland competitors.