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April 2014

4 eCommerce marketing ideas that you might not have tried yet

 by wai on 16 Apr 2014 |
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When it comes to eCommerce, one of the biggest challenges that merchants face is traffic and visibility – just how do I put my products in front of targeted consumers? Most merchants will have some sort of marketing plan in place, whether it’s emails, newsletters subscribers, pay-per-click advertising, social media or a combination of all of the above. These efforts help improve awareness, boost a site’s visibility and direct more traffic to your store. Meanwhile, if you’re after sales and more orders, there are a number of other eCommerce channels that will bring customers directly to your site. Online Marketplaces – probably the most popular platform for eCommerce are online marketplaces such as eBay, Amazon, etsy and the recent media darling, Alibaba. On these sites merchants usually pay a fee to list their products for sale or auction and then pay a commission on the successful sale. Competition can be pretty stiff on these sites, but many merchants find that listing on a number of different marketplaces can be a very successful way to boost sales. Did you know? Ashop has its own Marketplace exclusive to merchants. The Ashop Marketplace doesn’t charge listing fees and actively promotes products through online marketing channels. Find out more. Price Comparison Sites – these sites put retailers’ products side by side, so they’re easy to compare. Some of the popular ones include PriceGrabber, Shopping.com and Getprice (in Australia). These sites list prices for specific products from their retailers. Many merchants find these sites are great traffic generators for stores, but some may find it tough going if they don’t compete on price. Daily Deal and Group Buying Sites – Groupon, Our Deal, LivingSocial and more - these group buying sites were all the rage back in 2010 when daily deal sites first exploded onto scene. However, lack of customer loyalty and smaller merchants unable to meet demands means some of the rabid enthusiasm for these discount sites has muted. However, some merchants still find success in group buying arrangements including FMCG products, event tickets and fast-food offers. Business owners need to be selective in the discounts and offers that they put forward on these sites. Set up an Affiliate program – setting up an affiliate program means having other savvy digital residents promote your products for you, and you only pay commission for a successful referral. For small businesses, joining an affiliate network is an easy option rather than setting up their own independent affiliate program – there are many to choose from including LinkShare, Commission Junction and ClixGalore (based in Australia). What’s worked for your business? 

5 tips for Blogging for Business: What to write about

 by wai on 10 Apr 2014 |
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A few weeks ago, we discussed the 6 benefits of business blogging. But for many, while the advantages of blogging are clear enough – the challenge becomes creating enough content on a regular basis. Just how do you decide what to blog about? In this post, we’ll break down some of the best sources for creating good blog content. Idea # 1: Blog about your business (up to a point…) The easiest resource for content creation is what’s happening in your business - after all, you’re living and breathing it every day! Your blog is the perfect forum to share important and exciting news such as: New product announcements Expansion and new locations New staff hires – especially if they’ll be dealing directly with customers Event wrap ups and important milestones (eg 5 years in business) Up to a point! While it may be tempting to blog about every single thing that happens in your business – the key is to select newsworthy and interesting events that your readership will be interested in. So it’s important to be selective in your content. While you might think a new pattern or colour variant (now available in fuchsia!) is the most exciting thing since sliced bread, most of your customers  will be interested in bigger announcements such as a new line or product range. The 5:1 Rule. A good rule of thumb is to have at least 5 pieces of ‘other content’ to every 1 piece of content about your business. This keeps your blog more engaging and audience focused.   Idea #2: Blog about industry happenings (and your thoughts on them) You’ll already be keeping your finger on the pulse of what’s happening in your industry – why not share your thoughts with your readers? You can blog about events, news and industry developments that are relevant to your business. Add your own personal opinion and expertise. What did you think about Fashion Week? Do you agree with what commentators are discussing in the news? Why or why not? As we mentioned, a blog is the perfect forum to demonstrate thought leadership and expertise, so it’s a good idea to add value to what's going on by providing your professional opinion. It helps establish trust and offers readers a bit of personal insight that they won’t find anywhere else. Pro-tip: Try to be timely in publishing these posts in order to stay relevant. You don’t want to be caught reporting on old and stale news – aim to get your post up within 48 hours from when the news is first announced.   Idea #3: Provide Tips and Lists on your Blogs You see them everywhere – 5 fashion trends for 2014, 10 tips for losing weight fast, 7 things you’re doing wrong in eCommerce, 5 tips for blogging for business etc, and there’s a reason for that – these types of posts work! “Listicles” as they’re sometimes called, provide a summary of suggestions and tips that aim to educate or inform the reader about a topic. The information should be bite-sized and easy to digest. No more than 100 words for any single “tip”. Pro-tip: Use formatting to “chunk up information”. Break your information up into digestible chunks to facilitate online reading behaviour. Make use of bullet points and bolded text to highlight the key information.   Idea #4: Infographics and Visual Content Visual content, especially infographics, are all the rage online.  Why? Because it’s visually engaging and a more enriching content experience than just plain text. So if you have the visual resources (eg a graphic designer or pro photographer) to help with creating a powerful infographic, make use of them! Meanwhile, don’t fret if you don’t have the resources to invest in visual content. There are plenty of cost effective image sites available online. If using stock photos, try to select engaging and interesting images that tell a story and complement your text. The girl in the corporate suit holding the laptop has been way overdone.   Idea #5: Guest posts and bloggers Don’t have time to write your own posts? You can invite others to create content for you – the trick is to choose the right person to contribute. Make use of your business contacts, maybe inviting a key client or supplier who might be interested in sharing their thoughts and insights. You can conduct “an interview” of a key industry figure or have someone write an original article with the promise of a link and bio. Be reasonable with who you expect to get, the likelihood a Pulitzer Prize Winning Journalist will provide an article for your business blog is pretty slim. Pro-tip: make the most of your team. Ask your employees and team members to provide their opinions and insights on a particular topic. Then curate their answers into a single post for a diverse opinion piece.  How do you come up with your blog ideas?

Shutting Down Product Meta Keywords (Plus 3 SEO Tips for your store)

 by wai on 02 Apr 2014 |
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Some of our merchants may have logged into their Product Details and suddenly wonder ‘Hey, where did my Keywords go?’ Here’s the lowdown on what’s happened with SEO Keywords. Meta-keywords are no longer useful. Search engines like Google and Bing are constantly updating their search algorithms to improve their organic search results – after all, their success hinges on delivering the most relevant results for search terms across the web. What this means is that strategies and techniques that used to help with search engine optimization (SEO) are now obsolete. Such is the case with the attribute that was known as ‘meta-keywords’ (or what was essentially the keyword field in your Product Details). Spammers haev abused the function and put in keywords that were completely unrelated to their content in the hopes of improving their traffic numbers. Over time, search engines like Google have lessened the importance of meta-keywords in their search algorithms until the point where they were essentially obsolete. This is why we decided to finally remove this field from Meta Tags completely in our latest Product Update. So what can I do improve my SEO? So without the SEO keyword field, how can you do to be sure your products are optimised for search? As we mentioned earlier, search engines are constantly refining their strategies and they keep this information top secret, in order to minimize its potential to be abused. So there’s no real ‘secret sauce’ to get your page ranking at the top; SEO experts deploy different strategies and best practice techniques to improve overall rankings and visibility. These are usually devised from their own observations, testing as well as general industry knowledge. With that being said, there are definitely a few best practices that every SEO expert can agree on. Here’s what you can do help improve your product rankings: 1. Descriptive Product Titles The single most important thing you can do is to make sure your Product Titles are descriptive. What do we mean by descriptive? It means you should know what the product is just from reading its name. If you’re selling a robotic pool cleaner that’s made by a brand called Widget and its model number XU74K  - a good descriptive Product Title is: ‘Widget Robotic Pool Cleaner (XU74K)’ or something to that effect. A poor Product Title would be something along the lines of: ‘Model XU74K (Widget Brand)’ Why? Because to Google the Product Title is the single most important indicator of what the product is. And it can’t tell that it’s a ‘robotic pool cleaner’ from the second example, so it’s very likely that the product won’t show up for relevant search queries such as ‘pool cleaner’ or ‘robotic pool cleaner’. 2. Write a clear product description Just as you want to provide your customers with more information about your product, the product description also helps search engines learn more about the item on offer and what search terms might be relevant. So take some time to write a clear, informative and relevant description for your product rather than just dashing off some specs or leaving it blank. 3. Organise your products into descriptive categories Creating descriptive categories for your store is a great way to let search engines know more about your products and relevant the keyword search terms you want to be target. It’s best to group products by clear category types – so all of your ‘candles’ should come under a single category rather than scattering them throughout the site. Take extra care in making sure your category names are descriptive. As with your Product Titles, a category name like ‘Summer’ might sound creative and whimsical but it tells customers (and search engines) nothing about the items that you’re selling. Let us know if you have some more SEO tips to share!
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