Shopping Cart Software


November 2013

Doing It Right: Black Friday [Infographic]

 by ryan on 25 Nov 2013 |
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Black Friday is the biggest shopping day in the US. If you sell to US customers, you need to dial up your marketing to make the most of it. Black Friday is a great opportunity to attract new customers - consider spending some money on PPC advertising and Comparison Shopping Engines. But don't forget about your existing customers either. Offering a coupon and promoting it via email and social channels can help you re-activate customers, and it's much cheaper than PPC. You might also consider taking advantage of Ashops's new Conditional Emails functionality to send a very compelling special offer to "cold" customers who have not made a purchase in the past 6 months. You can target them specifically with a conditional email and try to re-activate them. Here's an infographic and a few tips from Neil Patel of Enjoy!   Courtesy of: Quick Sprout

5 Quick Wins To Boost Sales Over The Holiday Season

 by ryan on 19 Nov 2013 |
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The holiday season is nearly upon us! Spruce up your store with these 5 quick tips to gives your sales a boost.   1.  Set Up Abandoned Basket Emails Did you know that the average shopping cart abandonment rate is 67.44%? Scary huh? The bad news is that this rate is getting higher, and all online merchants are affected to some extent. The good news is that you can take action to reduce this and substantially boost your sales. The easiest way is to set up an email that is sent whenever a prospective customer leaves your store without paying for the goods in their basket. If you have an Ashop store you can easily create an Abandoned Basket email. If you can afford to, it’s worthwhile adding an extra incentive, such a discount, coupon or free shipping to entice customers to complete their transaction. This only takes a few minutes to set up and is something every online store should have. Pro tip: Make sure you top up on Newsletter Credits – you don’t want to run out during the Christmas rush!   2. Offer Free shipping 68% of consumers have recommended a retailer based on a free shipping offer, according to the 2013 UPS Pulse of the Online Shopper study. Many consumers expect free shipping, especially during the holiday season, and will leave your store in favour of a competitor if you do not offer it. Be upfront about your free shipping policy so that customers are aware if what they need to do to qualify.   3. Buy Some Paid Advertising No matter the size of your advertising budget, it’s worth spending some money on paid advertising to give your online store a short-term injection of traffic over the holiday season. This is the busiest time of year for online retailers, and you don’t want to miss out on the chance to attract new customers. Paid Search: - Google Adwords - Yahoo Bing Network Comparison Shopping Engines: - Google Shopping - Amazon Product Ads - Nextag - - ShopZilla   4. Build Trust If you’ve done the previous steps correctly, there’s a good chance you’ll be seeing a stream of first-time customers coming to your store. These customers need to feel safe when they‘re on your website, especially when they are checking out. They need to know that their credit card information is safe at all times and that they can trust you. Here are a few ways you can build trust: - Testimonials from happy customers. Using photos or video in conjunction with text is more effective than text alone. - Offer a guarantee. 100% Money-back, free returns (Zappos-style) etc all reassure customers that they can get their money back if they are not happy with the purchase.   5. Make Sure Your Returns Policy Is Clear Many online retailers hide their returns policy or worse, don’t even have one at all. Customers want to understand how shipping and returns work if they decide to purchase from you. f they can’t find this information easily, they will leave and go to a competitor’s site (which does have an easy-to-find-and-understand returns policy.) Having a page called ‘Returns Policy; or similar is a good start. Use plain English as much as possible; you might feel smart if you use complex words or Legalese, but your customers won’t bother to read it. The Iconic does a good job – they have a link to ‘Returns’ from the footer of their homepage. They also have a simple diagram explaining their return policy and some FAQs underneath.     Is your store all set for the holidays? Have you got any ideas or suggestions for other ecommerce site owners? Let us know in the comments below. (Image Source: Flickr)

New Feature: Conditional Emails (And How To Use Them)

 by ryan on 13 Nov 2013 |
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(Image Source) Today we’re launching a powerful new feature called ‘Conditional Emails’. Unlike newsletters, conditional emails are triggered when a customer does a specific action. Stop and think about the possibilities for a moment. What if you could send an email to a customer whenever they abandon their basket before completing a purchase? That's an easy way to improve conversions and sales. Let’s create an Abandoned Basket email right now.   Step 1. Go to Marketing > Newsletter Management and click on ‘Conditional Emails’ Step 2. Set the Campaign Title, ‘From’ Name, Reply Email and condition. In this case, I’ve set the email to trigger 1 day after the basket is abandoned. You could set it to 12 minutes or 12 months if you really want to, but 1 day after abandonment feels about right.   Step 3. Write the subject and text of your email. You can add variables (text that is personalized to each email recipient) by clicking the Insert Item button. A handy one to use all the time is [NAME]. This way your email will say “Hey Bob” or “Hey Michelle” instead of “Dear valued customer”.   Step 4. Add a link to your basket page in the email. The whole point of this email is to get a customer to come back and finish off their order, right? The URL you want to use is   Step 5. It’s usually a good idea to add your phone number so they can contact you with any questions. Also, consider putting a time limit or other gentle nudge in there to encourage the customer to take action immediately. For example “We’re holding these items for you for the next 7 days – after that we can’t guarantee that they will still be in stock.” Or maybe “Our sale ends tomorrow. If you want to take advantage of our discounted prices, make sure you complete your purchases by midnight tonight.”   Step 6. Send a test email to yourself by clicking the “Send Test Email” button. Once you’re happy with the email, make sure the status is set to “Online” and click “Save”. There you go, you now have an Abandoned Cart conditional email. Some other ideas you could use conditional emails for: Post-Purchase Feedback -> trigger an email 3 days after Every order is shipped, with a link to a survey (like Google Forms, Wufoo or SurveyMonkey) Re-activation of cold customer -> trigger an email 90 days after Final order is placed with a special offer or discount “How to use our product” email drip -> trigger emails 1, 2 & 3 days after Subscribed to Newsletter How do you plan to use conditional emails? Got any ideas we haven't thought of? Let us know in the comments below.

How to Write SEO-Friendly Product Descriptions for Your Online Store

 by zack on 04 Nov 2013 |
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  Putting together an online store is an extremely complex process. You’ve got a lot to worry about from start to finish. Content pages, contact forms, user support, frequent updates, auto-responding emails, and so much more. One of the most important items on your agenda is ensuring a high volume of organically driven visits to your product pages. That means a significant investment in your Search Engine Optimization efforts. If you really want your online store to succeed, you should provide custom SEO-friendly product descriptions for each of the items you have for sale.   SEO is an ongoing process that evolves alongside search engines as they increase in sophistication. The key is providing relevant content that major search engines can recognize. This end is achieved through the proper implementation and integration of highly searched keywords and keyword phrases.   Though it might seem like an intimidating endeavor, you can quickly and easily understand the basic tenets of keyword research and phrasing by following these steps:   1. Choose One Main Keyword Phrase   Keyword optimization is all about predicting which words users will enter as search queries to find certain products or services. When writing a product description, it's important to decide on the main keyword phrase that will identify and describe the product. Use as many descriptive terms as possible to help someone who is searching for the item locate it at your site.   For instance, if you sell a baby basket, you might want to include more descriptive terms in the main keyword phrase (product title) like “Pink Baby Basket with Retractable Wheels.” In doing this, you offer more detail about the product and increase the chances of matching a search query. Including these extra keywords in one phrase to increase its matchability is called long-tail keyword phrasing.   Be sure to use the exact keyword phrase when writing your content for each product page. Perform keyword research using Google’s keyword planner to find out what people are searching for when it comes to the type of product you’re selling. This way you can determine which terms will be effective in increasing your product’s visibility to search engines.   2. Write a UNIQUE Product Description   Many online stores just copy and paste product descriptions from the manufacturer. Even massive online stores like Amazon are guilty of this lazy policy – partly because they have so many products. Unfortunately for the transgressors, nothing will ruin an SEO score faster than duplicate content.   Duplicating the wording of one website exactly and including it on your own effectively cheapens the value of the text. Just like the old supply and demand curves you learned in high school.     As a smaller online retailer, you can get a leg up on your bigger competitors by writing unique and compelling product descriptions.   Here’s a great example from Birdsnest, a women’s fashion store. Notice how they’ve opted to tell a story with this product description. They create a narrative specifically targeted toward university students, which matches the marketing message displayed on the handbag. They also add a personal touch to their product description by signing it like a personal message at the end. The inclusion of this signature: “Love, Kate and the Birdsnest girls” accomplishes two goals.  It allows for an element of personal connection between customers and the voices/faces behind the brand. It enables them to add the keyword: “Birdsnest” on every product page. This way they have a higher chance of ranking for this term in search engine queries.   And guess what? Birdsnest is actually ranked above The Iconic, a major Australian online fashion retailer.   The most successful product pages follow some basic structural caveats. For example, your online product description should ideally be between 100-150 words long and made up of two or three short paragraphs. This is the optimum length for attracting search engine attention. It leaves plenty of room to include relevant keywords, while still breaking the descriptions up into short paragraphs to increase the text’s readability and appeal to visitors.   It’s important to keep your audience in mind when writing product descriptions. The scientific approach to SEO dictates that you follow certain formulas, through which the search algorithms might find your content more easily. If your text is ugly, incoherent, or riddled with spelling/punctuation errors, however, it won’t be attractive to the readers. As a result, they will likely bounce away from your product pages.   So even if you follow the best SEO practices, it’s still possible to have ineffective product descriptions. For that reason, it’s important to put effort into the on page copy. Not just so it follows SEO format, but so it is also alluring to readers in your target market. That means performing market research and segmenting accoordingly. After all, what works for a fishing tackle store probably won’t be as effective for a store selling cosmetics.   3. Place the Keyword Phrase   Now we’re down to the nitty gritty. The formulaic aspects of effective keyword placement in your product descriptions. It is best to include the keyword phrase at the very beginning of the product description block. Then you must insert it once or twice more within the body of your description. More than three occurrences of a keyword phrase displays redundancy in your writing, but more than that, you run the risk of search engines penalizing you for “keyword stuffing.” In other words, oversaturating your short text with an abundance of similar or duplicate keywords.   Remember to also include the same keyword phrase in the “Keywords” field whenever adding a new product (that is, if you’re using Ashop for your online store). These meta tags fulfill an important role, by tipping search engines off as to which keywords they should look out for on a particular page.   If you’re not using Ashop, you’ll have to manually add each keyword phrase to your meta tags, the HTML title, and the headline of the product page as well.   4. Add Other Keywords   If you have other keywords that you believe will support the product description and bring in search traffic, include each one once. But again, don’t go overboard – if your product description looks unnatural and spammy, both human visitors and search engines will respond negatively.   The trick is to include relevant and descriptive words and phrases, that you’ve researched and chosen for high volumes of search traffic and relatively low levels of competitive usage, all while retaining a natural human sounding voice. If you can do that, you’ve got all the tools you need to attract loads of organic traffic to your product pages.   These are just a few guidelines to help you optimize your product descriptions for SEO purposes. Keep in mind that search engines are fickle and the rules often change for how you should set up the content on product pages if you want them to be highly ranked.   Before you change all of the product descriptions throughout your website it's wise to experiment with updating the content on about 5-10 products. If your rankings improve after about a month or so then you can go ahead with more descriptions utilizing these same tactics.   Have you written unique and compelling product descriptions for your store? What was the impact in search results? We’d love to hear how your efforts went. Let us know in the comments below.    
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