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Guide to Getting Honest Feedback from Your eCommerce Customers

Guide to Getting Honest Feedback from Your eCommerce Customers

Your eCommerce business needs feedback almost as much as it needs sales.

According to a UPS study, 55% of online shoppers will share a dissatisfying experience with friends and family while eCommerce Digest reports that free returns earned Zappos 75% more customer loyalty and repeat purchases compared to competitors.

Honest feedback, when received promptly and acted upon, can help discover such customer insights, helping avert abandoned carts, customer churn, and negative reviews and ratings.

But how do you collect honest feedback from your eCommerce customers? How do you gather actionable insights that help you improve your business and make your customers happier?

In this guide, we look at four broad areas you can focus on to help you get honest feedback from your eCommerce customers.

Build Relationships

Strong relationships are a big incentive for honest feedback. The nature of eCommerce, however, makes building relationships difficult.

Various factors such as automation, drop-shipping, third-party vendors and others conspire to make it difficult to cultivate strong relationships with customers.

However, if you want more customers to give you honest feedback, you’ll need to make extra effort to cultivate relationships. Here are some ways you can do this:

 

  • Community building: Whether a forum or a Facebook group, building a community around your eCommerce business can create a source of high-quality, honest feedback. Companies like Google and Microsoft have built thriving communities around products where customers post feedback in the form of questions, suggestions, inquiries and so on.
  • Start or join a cause — If your customers see you stand for something they believe in, they will rally around your business, and be more willing to give you honest feedback.
  • Humanize your brand — Does your eCommerce business have a human touch? When your customers think about your brand, do they see a brand that cares, has empathy and can connect with people? Humanizing your brand can help you build strong relationships that result in better and more honest feedback.
  • Run interactive promotions — “Send in a selfie and stand to win a gift card.” Such promotions loop in customers to engage with your business, creating deeper relationships.

Use Personal Channels to Communicate

Communicating with customers effectively is an essential part of convincing them to send you honest feedback.

And no, just putting a contact form or a feedback widget will not do. To catch your customers’ attention, consider being more intentional in how you reach out to them for feedback.

Try these four approaches as a start:

Phone Calls

There’s nothing quite as personal as a phone call. Whether you run a small boutique, eCommerce shop or a massive eCommerce operation, the value of speaking directly with customers over the phone cannot be understated.

By calling them up, you show you care enough to take the time to call and, in most cases, customers will be willing to share honest feedback.

Email

Blasting off a generic email with no personalization is a sure way to get no feedback. Instead, personalize your email, segment the audience, and ask customers to reply directly to the email instead of sending them to a feedback form.

When people feel like their feedback email will be read and replied to, they are more willing to share honest feedback.

Review Sites

Amazon, Yelp, Better Business Bureau, Foursquare and others are all places people leave honest feedback. The sense that their feedback will help others drives many eCommerce customers to leave detailed, honest feedback on such sites.

To encourage this, add links to such sites and encourage your customers to leave feedback.

Social Media

When your customers have a great or less-than-great experience, they will most likely post their sentiments on social media.

Encouraging your customers to share reviews and feedback via social channels like Twitter and Facebook allows them to use channels they feel safe using to share feedback with you. A win-win scenario.

Respond to Both Good and Critical Feedback

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Good Feedback

Responding to good feedback is easy, yet you would be surprised at how few eCommerce businesses do so. When you take good feedback for granted, you communicate to your customers that you are not that interested in their feedback.

However, communicating appreciation, not just for the positive feedback, but also for the act of leaving feedback, encourages customers to leave further feedback in the future.

Critical Feedback

Most eCommerce businesses see negative feedback as fires to fight. By assuming a fire-fighting stance, they miss a golden opportunity to validate and encourage more instances of such honest feedback.

Instead of looking at negative feedback as a problem to fix (yes, it may very well be a problem to fix,) also see it as an opportunity to encourage and continue honest dialogue with valued customers.

Utilize Customer Data

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Sometimes customers give you honest feedback through their actions — they vote with their (digital) feet. In such instances, you can get honest, unbiased feedback by capturing and analyzing customer data (be aware of data collection laws like GDPR.)

Here are four of the top metrics you should measure to get valuable and honest passive feedback from customers and site visitors:

Cart Abandonment

How many customers add items to the cart and then abandon it? Do they return? What is the average value of an abandoned cart?

Understanding this metric will offer you valuable feedback and insights into customer behavior and how you can adapt accordingly.

Average Session Duration

How long do visitors spend on your website? How much time is spent on which sections of your site? How does this relate to purchases?

For example, long sessions that result in no purchases may indicate a lack of clarity or some other hindrance to purchasing.

Exit Pages

Do visitors exit your site at the shipping calculator page? Your shipping rate may be too high or unclear.

Do they exit at certain product pages? The prices may be too high or the value proposition poorly communicated.

Bounce Rate

A high bounce rate could give you feedback that your site is not relevant or useful to most people who visit it.

Such feedback could lead to a website redesign or further investigation into the high bounce rate.  

In Conclusion

Getting honest feedback from your eCommerce customers will not always be straightforward. It will also be difficult to determine which feedback is honest and which is not. However, this does not mean that the quest for honest feedback is futile.

It means, instead, that getting honest feedback will be a major achievement and competitive edge that you get over your competition. It also means that you’ll be tapping into your customers’ emotions, the most important factor at the heart of every purchasing decision they make.

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Your Enterprise WordPress Site Should Be In The Cloud

Your Enterprise WordPress Site Should Be In The Cloud

Enterprise organizations choose WordPress for their primary website and for secondary sites more often than any other content management system. As we reported last year, WordPress is neck-and-neck with Adobe Experience Manager for primary sites, and the clear leader for other types of sites, including marketing sites, eCommerce stores, and internal sites.

For many enterprise companies, the right CMS is obvious; choosing a hosting platform isn’t quite so straightforward. Large companies with high-traffic WordPress sites can choose between many different hosting options, but, for most, a public cloud platform specialized for WordPress is the most reliable, most scalable, and best performing hosting available.

What do enterprise organizations want from WordPress hosting? Reliability tops the list; downtime can cost millions in lost revenue. Security is also key; data leaks and malware infections cause colossal embarrassment. Scalability is just as important; large businesses need to know that their site can grow quickly, both over the long-term and to accommodate short-term traffic spikes.

Reliability

Reliability is largely a function of redundancy. A single point of failure will fail eventually, whether it’s a server, a network connection, or a power supply. Cloud platforms are not inherently redundant, but the best are engineered with redundancy at the core. A cloud platform like the Hostdedi Cloud is designed for comprehensive redundancy at the level of the network, power system, and server. No other hosting modality offers the same rock-solid redundancy.

Security

Enterprise WordPress and WooCommerce sites are juicy targets for criminals. Rich with data and users, sites owned by large businesses are targeted multiple times a day. A managed WordPress cloud platform is almost certainly more secure than alternative hosting options. The Hostdedi Cloud was built and is managed by experts in cloud technology and WordPress. Hostdedi Cloud accounts are equipped with a complete SSL Stack, Forward Secrecy, and are hosted in a PCI Compliant environment. They also benefit from a Web Application Firewall that can repel most common attacks against web applications.

Scalability

Scalability is the cloud’s killer feature. The Hostdedi Cloud is built on a large pool of compute and storage resources. Each WordPress site is allocated a slice of that pool. The size of that slice can be adjusted on the fly. Sites can be scaled rapidly without migration. The site’s hosting platform will grow organically as traffic increases over time. But it can also scale quickly in response to traffic peaks. With, cloud autoscaling, WordPress sites experiencing higher than normal loads will automatically receive additional resources.

Managed cloud WordPress hosting platforms offer the ideal mix of scalability, security, and reliability for enterprise WordPress sites. The Hostdedi Cloud combines those benefits with comprehensive performance optimization for the ultimate in enterprise WordPress hosting.

To learn more about WordPress cloud hosting and the benefits, challenges, and strategies of cloud migration, download our free ebook, A Complete Guide to Migrating Your Site to the Cloud.

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Introducing the Hostdedi Product Life Cycle

Introducing the Hostdedi Product Life Cycle

Introducing the Hostdedi Product Life cycleWe’re proud to introduce a new approach to product releases, one that offers improved transparency and provides merchants and developers with increased peace of mind concerning the products and services we offer.

Our new product life cycle incorporates three main release stages and a retirement protocol. Each of these stages provides different levels of support, production readiness, and availability. Continue reading for more information and information on when a product is eligible for retirement.

Public Beta

The public beta is the first stage of the product life cycle. It is an early release of a product that may or may not become widely available at a later date. The public beta allows clients to provide feedback and for us to anticipate further product requirements before it becomes more widely available.

Because the public beta is an early release, we will only offer limited support. Our support team will try to help as much as they can, but limited experience with new products means it will not officially be offered.

Due to a lack of official support, these products will be available for free during the public beta period. This will change once products advance to the next stage: limited availability. We will notify all users before this happens.

We do not recommend public beta releases for use on production sites. They are primarily designed for testing and experimentation. There is a change that there will be bugs and unforeseen issues with public beta products, and it is possible that sudden changes will be made on the platform.

Limited Availability

Once we feel that a product has been suitably tested and is ready for a wider release, we will push it to stage 2: limited availability. During this release, specific user groups or regions will have access to the product/feature.

Limited availability releases will be ready for production workloads, but this is not guaranteed. This means that our SLA will apply in some cases, but will not be backed by credit issuance.

All limited availability releases will come with full support. That means that pricing will also be rolled out.

Once a product reaches the limited availability stage of its life cycle, the retirement protocol (as outlined below) will be applied. This means that we will not retire the product unless we can offer a suitable replacement. We will also be fully transparent about any upcoming changes to the product.

Public Availability

Once a product has reached the public availability stage of its life cycle, it will become available to all Hostdedi clients. This stage is a fully stable release that offers a production-ready product, with full SLA support and a standardized pricing model.

The Retirement Protocol

The retirement protocol applies to all products in either the limited availability or public availability stages of their life cycle. At these stages, we will only retire a product when we believe we are able to provide our clients with an alternate product that offers better value.

Because we understand that retiring a product can have a large impact on your site, we provide the following:

Reasonable Advance Notice

For minor changes, we will provide at least 1 months’ notice. In the case of major changes that will have a larger impact on client sites, we will provide at least 6 months’ notice.

Effective Alternatives

We will try our hardest to ensure that an alternative product is available for those impacted by one being retired. This may include a product or service offered by Hostdedi, or one provided by a reputable third party.

100% Support Until the Retirement Date

During the retirement process, we will not dial down support for products. This means that up until the last minute of a product’s availability, our support team will actively help you to get the results you need.

Note: that there are extenuating circumstances where we may have to accelerate the retirement protocol. This may be due to security issues or decisions made by third parties.

Summary of the Hostdedi Product Life Cycle

For more information on the Hostdedi product life cycle, please visit the knowledge library.


About the Author

Ryan “Master of the Web” Belisle

Ryan has worked with the internet and technology for around a decade. He currently works at Hostdedi helping to make the Product, WebDev, and Support teams awesome. Awesome technology and awesome people go hand-in-hand in building amazing things.

When he’s not working with the brilliant Hostdedi team, you can generally find him at a rock concert, behind his piano, or practicing mixed martial arts… or you can just find him on Twitter: @_ryebell


 

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WordPress 5.1 Encourages Site Owners To Update PHP

WordPress 5.1 Encourages Site Owners To Update PHP

WordPress 5.1 Encourages Site Owners To Update PHPIs it better to maintain backward compatibility with out-of-date software or to encourage users to update to more recent versions? Backward compatibility with old versions of PHP keeps WordPress accessible to non-technical users who can’t update. On the other hand, maintaining backward compatibility is a lot of work for developers and prevents them from taking advantage of new technologies. Out-of-date software is also a security risk.

The WordPress project has tended to prefer backward compatibility. In 2019, WordPress is happy to run on a version of PHP introduced more than a decade ago. With the release of WordPress 5.1, WordPress will begin to encourage a move away from older versions of PHP, with new features that make it easier to update and that highlight when a WordPress site runs on an outdated version of PHP.

Admin Notifications of Outdated PHP Versions

WordPress 5.1 will warn admin users when their site runs on an outdated version of PHP. The site will present a notification in the dashboard that informs users of their PHP version with a link to an information page on WordPress.org. At release, the notifications will be triggered for PHP versions older than PHP 5.6. As we discussed in a recent blog post, PHP 5.6 is no longer supported, but it is the most widely used version of PHP.

The cutoff release for the notification isn’t hard-coded but provided via a new API endpoint on WordPress.org. Using an API allows the minimum version to be changed independently of the version of WordPress a site is using.

At Hostdedi, PHP versions 7.2, 7.1, 7.0 & 5.6 are available to clients. Clients can change their PHP version at any time through Siteworx, their Client Portal account, or by reaching out to our support team 24/7/365.

Plugin PHP Requirements

WordPress displays a warning when users browse plugins that are incompatible with their version of WordPress. At the moment, it doesn’t display a warning when the PHP version is incompatible. In WordPress 5.1, that will change. WordPress will warn users when they look at a plugin that doesn’t support their version of PHP. Even better, it will enforce plugin version requirements. Incompatible plugins cause a host of problems, including the “white screen of death,” so disabling the ability to install incompatible versions will prevent users from breaking their site (and reduce support requests).

White Screen of Death Protection

The white screen of death (WSOD) occurs when WordPress encounters a fatal error, often caused by plugin incompatibilities. Updating the PHP version of a site can lead to incompatibilities with older plugins and cause a WSOD. WordPress users are reluctant to risk breaking their site and possibly losing access to it altogether, so they don’t update.

WordPress 5.1 introduces WSOD Protection, which provides limited protection against errors caused by plugin incompatibilities. WSOD Protection can determine which plugin caused a fatal error and disable it in the admin interface, allowing users to access the site and fix the problem. WSOD Only works in the admin interface, because disabling plugins on the front-end can cause security and other issues.

At the time of writing, the WordPress 5.1 release candidate is available for testing. It can be installed with the Beta Tester plugin. Installing development versions of WordPress on your production site is a bad idea, but Hostdedi Cloud users can quickly create a staging site for testing.

 

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5 Takeaways From WordCamp Phoenix

5 Takeaways From WordCamp Phoenix

5 top takeaways from WordCamp Phoenix 2019PHOENIX, AZ  — Ten years of WordCamp Phoenix and it’s still as strong as ever. This year was even better, with some informative sessions from incredible speakers. Answers on content marketing, SEO, page creation, and how to optimize business practices all made an appearance.

Our team members Gasper, Amber, and Rigo were on the ground, gathering as much information as possible for those that couldn’t attend. By the end of the event, they came up with what they felt were the five best takeaways from the weekend of content.

1. Artificial Intelligence and Personalization Go Hand in Hand

75% of businesses are planning to implement AI-Based marketing solutions within the next 2 years, and there’s a reason for this. AI solutions have consistently shown that they are able to outperform standard, intuition-based marketing. Not only do they have access to vital data, but they are also able to implement solutions more quickly than their human counterparts.

AI and Machine Learning are here to stay at WCPHX

In her session, Crystal Taggart talked about how “You no longer have to be smart enough to know the difference between a cat and a dog”. While an oversimplification, her point stands: technology has now advanced to a point where it can be employed for the purposes of pattern recognition. This allows businesses to employ the best content and delivery strategies on a case by case basis.

So does this mean the end of the marketer? No. In fact, now is more important than ever to have a specialist at the helm, guiding your AI solutions towards the correct strategies and answers. While AI and machine learning solutions are able to handle the legwork, marketers will continue to set the correct goals and objectives. As discussed by Dallin Harris, a good strategist works hard to identify trends so they can exploit them.

2. It’s Time to Prepare for Voice Search

Between sessions on voice search optimization and how to adapt WordPress to power an Alexa Skill, WordCamp Phoenix offered developers a chance to discuss what and how voice capabilities and search should look. Voice search is here already, it just hasn’t been fully optimized yet.

Particularly relevant for voice search was the implication of content that doesn’t hit number 1 in search results, but number 0. These are known as featured snippets and will likely feature as one of Google’s main assets for delivering answers to voice search questions.

One session answered how to optimize content so it is more likely to appear in featured snippets. Trying to keep word count low for specific answers and the use of a single phrase just once per every 100 words, were two of the recommendations. While not a 100% foolproof system, this does allow site owners good insight into how Google is starting to adapt to voice search.

3. Technical SEO Is Important

With voice search continuing to grow, now is the time to implement technical SEO to the letter. As more marketers and agencies dial in on content strategy and implementation, it’s going to be the small things that make a difference between ranking 1 and ranking none.

WordCamp Phoenix had multiple sessions on SEO, including the Technical SEO of eCommerce & Large WordPress sites. They looked at the use of canonical tags, how to control content with noindex and nofollow tags, as well as how to implement XML sitemaps and review the Robots.txt file. These are all important for large, high-volume sites trying to leverage the most from off-page SEO.

While technical SEO did make several appearances, this does not mean that on-page and content SEO are no longer important. In fact, off-page SEO works best when aligned with on-page SEO. Instead, technical SEO has grown in importance as SERP competition continues to grow more fierce.

4. Security Is Still a Primary Concern

Security should still be at the forefront of site owners’ concerns – especially for those that use WooCommerce. Rahul Nagare talked about the importance of knowing the difference between WordPress and WooCommerce security. As a hosting solutions provider, we second this. WooCommerce requires a separate set of security precautions put in place due to being an eCommerce platform.

For example, if you are looking to manage card data, then it’s important for your store to be PCI compliant. This means that your platform conforms to standards set by the payment card industry so your customers are protected. Hostdedi ensure all of their eCommerce solutions are PCI compliant.

5. Don’t Be Afraid to Fail

One of the biggest takeaways this year: don’t be afraid to fail. Multiple speakers talked about how failure is an important step to success. Instead of trying to avoid failure, it’s important to embrace it and learn from it.

our 5 top takeaways from WordCamp Phoenix

This links to each takeaway outlined here, which in turn have been informed by multiple failures on the part of multiple developers, site owners, and users. As was talked about SEO “You will fail at first and that is okay. Learn from each mistake and you will find your success”.

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The 5 Top Takeaways From Magento Live Australia 2019

The 5 Top Takeaways From Magento Live Australia 2019

Key Takeaways from Magento Live Australia 2019Magento Live Australia has come and gone, and another year of informative information, actionable strategies, and future predictions has passed.

For Merchants, changes to Magento such as the 2.3.1 update, came with a promise of increased accessibility and improve integration. For developers, roundtables, discussions, and future developments came with both personal, professional, and business recommendations for the next twelve months in the APAC region.

Attending several of the sessions, talking with clients, meeting new faces, and – of course – experiencing another incredible Magento party, our team were on the ground gathering as much information as possible for those that couldn’t attend. Keep reading for our top five takeaways from Magento Live Australia 2019.

1. Mobile Is Incredibly Strong in the Asian Pacific Region

It’s been said time and time again, but the fact that mobile remains particularly strong in the APAC region is still a huge takeaway from Magento Live Australia. In 2018, it was predicted that more than three-quarters of B2C eCommerce sales were through mobile in the Asian Pacific. Comparatively,  In North American mobile commerce made up just 39.6% of the market.

Magento Live Australia Creating Experience Commerce Sign

For merchants, this provides valuable insight into the buyer’s journey (another key takeaway this year) and aids in the creation of commerce experiences that are increasingly frictionless and accessible. For developers, it allows for adjustments to best practices, so new and existing stores continue to meet the needs of merchants and businesses.

Undoubtedly, Magento developers in the Asian Pacific have “led the charge” with regards to mobile. Few other regions have managed to keep pace. The reasons are multitude, but the direction Magento is heading in will continue to support merchants whose most profitable channel is mobile. Most importantly, the multitude of capabilities that come with PWAs (Progressive Web Apps) will contribute enormously to a future frictionless eCommerce experience.

2. eCommerce Is Increasingly Focused on Creating Integrated Shopping Experiences

As customers, we are now more connected to the world around us than ever before. We connect through our smartphones, our computers, voice assistants, and much, much more. Each of these connections provides merchants with opportunities for integration and conversion. For merchants, it’s not just about being a purchasing option anymore, it’s about being present and accessible at the exact moment a customer recognizes and wants to fulfill a desire.

Creating integrated and social online shopping experiences with Magento

One of Magento Live Australia’s best takeaways was the emergence of truly global, ubiquitous commerce solutions. The idea that eCommerce and Magento merchants don’t just have to exist online; that they can be integrated into a customer’s offline journey to create more than just a purchase.

Increased and improved vertical technology integrations for Magento are what will make this happen. The continued evolution of the payments industry, the integration of data to inform shipping and inventory, and the inclusion of machine learning in content strategy and delivery. 

We’re looking forward to seeing how these integrations continue to grow and improve throughout the rest of 2019, and what developers will be looking for next.

3. Shipping and Logistics Is a Top Priority

How long do you usually wait for a package to arrive? How long would you have waited two years ago? How about five years ago?

Harnessing the power of the multi-source inventory

Hand-in-hand with integrated customer experiences comes expectations with regards to shipping. Digital and offline commerce have many differences, but one of the largest divides is immediacy; the ability for a consumer to get a product as soon as they’ve decided to make a purchase.

As Consumers become even more connected and as long as immediate gratification remains a core tenant of not only good customer experiences but also good commerce, shipping and logistics will continue to remain a competitive advantage for merchants. There are several different shipping and logistics providers out there, so there’s no excuse not to invest in one that will not only increase your sales, but also improve retention.

4. Magento Will Become More Accessible

The new drag & drop page builder didn’t escape anyone’s attention. As a WYSIWYG that enables instant previews and offers a powerful set of pre-defined content types, merchants will now be able to expand their development capabilities and create better, more fluid content.

Mobile and Headless commerce with Magento page builder

Particularly excited about this should be small and medium businesses who otherwise have limited access to a development team. Page creation can now be managed by fewer team members, with it being possible for scalable Magento stores to be built in a much shorter time frame.

For those looking to implement different solutions such as a PWA, the page builder can also help. The new page builder will be compatible with PWA, meaning APAC developers and merchants can more easily implement Magento solutions that appeal to their audiences and keep pace with the changing outlook for Mobile.  

5. eCommerce Will Continue to Grow in the Region

Growth of APAC Commerce Magento Live AU

One of the big APAC learns of the past few years has been that eCommerce in the region has continued to grow at an unprecedented rate. This year, the total online retail value of APAC commerce is forecast to grow from $787b to %1.2t. That number shows the true value in moving into eCommerce with a solution that truly allows for customer experiences that convert.

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Top Plugins To Improve Customer Retention On WooCommerce

Top Plugins To Improve Customer Retention On WooCommerce

Top Plugins To Improve Customer Retention On WooCommerceCustomer retention is key to building a successful and sustainable eCommerce business. Loyal customer spend more and visit more often. They are more likely to promote your store to their network. Customer retention is also less expensive than customer acquisition. Investing in customer retention and loyalty is just as important as filling the purchase funnel with new customers.

WooCommerce includes many of the features an online retailer needs to build a thriving business, but there are many WooCommerce extensions and WordPress plugins that can help you go the extra mile where customer retention is concerned.

WooCommerce UPS Shipping Plugin with Print Label

A generous return policy can make a big difference where customer loyalty is concerned. Online retail is inherently risky for customers: they can’t see the product until it’s delivered. The easier it is for them to make a return, the happier they are to take the risk. From the retailer’s perspective, a return is a lost sale and an added cost, but a store that offers an onerous returns experience is likely to lose the customer for good, along with any future revenue they may have contributed.

WooCommerce is well-equipped for handling returns, but an extension like WooCommerce UPS Shipping Plugin with Print Label, which can be used to print returns labels to include in the delivery, makes for a more pleasant returns experience.

WooCommerce Points and Rewards

Loyalty programs are a tried-and-tested customer retention strategy. By awarding points for purchases and offering discounts for points, a retailer gives customers an incentive to keep shopping. Loyalty programs influence shoppers to spend more in return for points and to return to the store to benefit from the discount they earned.

The WooCommerce Points and Rewards extension adds a configurable points system to your store. Points can be rewarded for purchases and for actions such as writing a review. The store owner decides how purchases convert into points and the maximum discounts that can be applied.

Olark Instant Chat

Rewards encourage customer loyalty, but communication is even more important. The best product page copy can leave customers uncertain about whether a product is right for them. Many sales are lost when a customer’s doubt overcomes their desire to buy. Instant chat is the most effective and efficient way to connect with customers who have questions.

With Olark, it’s straightforward to integrate instant chat into your WooCommerce pages via its official WordPress integration.

WPHelpDesk

Instant chat assuages customer doubts, but what about post-sale support? For that, a ticketing system is often the best option. Ticketing systems are built to manage and organize customer support requests. WPHelpDesk, which offers an excellent WooCommerce integration, provides a full-featured help desk with support forms that can be integrated into WooCommerce customer panels and order pages. Support requests are associated with the customer and their purchases in the ticket interface.

With these plugins and extensions, your store can offer a simple returns process, reward customers for their loyalty, and ensure that they get all the support they need before and after their purchase.

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Does WordPress Autoblogging Have A Role In 2018?

Does WordPress Autoblogging Have A Role In 2018?

Does WordPress Autoblogging Have A Role In 2018Autoblogging was once a popular way to use WordPress. Autoblogging plugins could pull in content from other websites and republish it, creating a low-cost and low-effort site that attracted search traffic and generated advertising revenue.

Today, autoblogging is less popular and is not well regarded. Spam blogs used autoblogging plugins to generate revenue from other people’s work. Content creators are, justifiably, not in favor of having their content monetized by a third party. There are still autoblogging spam sites: any moderately popular web content is likely to be scrapped and republished by dishonest site owners looking to generate a few cents. But it is no longer a viable business model.

Google cracked down on duplicate content many years ago. The Digital Millennium Copyright Act made it easy to have infringing copyright removed with takedown notices — providing the site’s web hosting provider follows the letter of the law.

In short, there is very little money in spam autoblogging today. It is not a strategy that any business that cares about its brand should adopt. But does that mean there is no place for autoblogging on the web in 2019?

Original Content Is The Only Way

There is no doubt that the best way to build a successful WordPress blog is to publish original, useful, and compelling content. In fact, it’s the only way to build a successful blog. However, autoblogging can be used to provide a useful aggregation service to your audience. A blog that aggregates niche content can attract a readership. In large part, that is what sites like Reddit do.

There is value in curating niche content. The reckless autoblogging — some might say theft — of the past is dead. But the same technology can be used to collate content from high-quality niche sources, publish snippets with links, and provide a centralized hub that sends traffic back to the original publisher.

Black-hat autobloggers were attracted by an opportunity to make money without doing any work — the site and a plugin did everything for them. In 2019, that is a defunct business model. Even with an autoblogging plugin, you should expect to spend time curating and filtering content — after all, that’s what will differentiate your site from the spam blogs of old.

WordPress Autoblogging Plugins

Autoblogging plugins are essentially RSS aggregators. Just like a feed reader, they periodically check RSS feeds for new content. Unlike feed readers, they publish that content to a WordPress site automatically according to criteria set by the site owner.

WPMU’s premium Autoblog plugin is one of the most popular autoblogging plugins. It was designed for the creation of news aggregation sites. Free autoblogging plugins include RebelCode’s WP RSS Aggregator and RSS Post Importer. One of the best ways to add value to your aggregator site is with a voting plugin like WPeddit, which allows readers to vote posts up and down, and can reorder posts according to their popularity.

 

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10 Ways to Attract New Customers To Your eCommerce Store

10 Ways to Attract New Customers To Your eCommerce Store

10 Critical Ways to Attract New Customers To Your eCommerce StoreSo you’ve set up your eCommerce store, you’ve found excellent products, and now you’re sitting back and enjoying the profits. Only you’re not, because no one is visiting your site. Just like with brick and mortar stores, eCommerce stores need to attract new customers in order to make a profit and maintain growth.

Luckily, attracting new customers to your eCommerce store isn’t that hard, especially if you happen to have a handy guide for how to do so.

This article covers 10 tactics for increasing the number of visitors to your site; covering on-site content, email, social media, and more.

1. Personalize Your Home page

For many new customers, your home page will be one of the first places they visit after they “enter” your store. Because of this, it’s vital that it leaves a good first impression. The best impression can be made by appealing directly to a customer’s needs.

A great example of this is Amazon, whose home page displays products based on a customer’s shopping history and relevant holidays or events. Something similar can be done on your site by implementing a machine learning extension that displays dynamic content.

Unfortunately, this requires access to information about a customer. For first-time visitors to your site, you probably won’t have information on what products they’ve looked at previously. However, this doesn’t mean you have no data.

Customers can end up on your home page through a number of different avenues. It’s possible a customer has navigated to your home page by clicking on a personalized email you sent. They could also have been directed through a specific social campaign. All of these methods provide you with data that allows you to implement a personalized shopping experience.

2. Increase Your Search Visibility

Increasing search visibility means optimizing your site’s SEO for long tail search traffic. This means optimizing content to match long tail keywords and phrases that new customers are interested in.

For example, if you’re a clothing store, you would create content that matches and answers questions asked by those interested in clothing. You would likely tailor (excuse the pun) that content to specific audiences (e.g., men’s shoes, women’s coats, etc.).

If we take bed linens as an example and perform a Google search for “How to care for your linens”, multiple vendors appear in the search results. These vendors have taken the time to increase their search visibility by appealing to long tail keywords and phrases. You can read more on this in tip #9.

Increasing search visibility does not happen overnight. As almost any respectable SEO strategist will tell you, building authority on the web is a time-consuming process; one that you’ll also likely have to invest money into. This being said, there are some simple methods for improving your site’s authority and search ranking quickly. This includes improving your site’s speed and reliability.

In a study of those who migrated to Hostdedi cloud solutions in 2018, we found that the main reason for migrating was reliability. A reliable site means faster, guaranteed load times and so a better first impression for new customers.

3. Use High-Quality Images and Product Descriptions

Images and product descriptions are the crux of an eCommerce store. The better a product looks, the more likely a new customer is to purchase it, correct?

The ability to see a product in detail and understand what exactly is being sold gives buyers a power previously reserved exclusively for brick and mortar shoppers. More than 70% of potential customers place the ability to zoom on images as one of the highest priority factors when deciding whether to make a purchase.   

If you’re a smaller store with limited available funds, we recommend investing in a cheap lightbox and learning some basic lighting skills. The ability to take photos that demonstrate your product in a positive light can do wonders for a store’s sales and ability to attract new customers. Compare the images below: which product would you be more likely to purchase?

Not only do high-quality images help you to attract new customers, but they also allow you to foster trust. According to research, customers believe that eCommerce stores that invest in better images and content are more trustworthy, and therefore are more likely to make a purchase from them.

4. Use Email Lists (Sparingly)

Well designed and delivered email campaigns are a powerful tool for attracting new buyers to your store. They offer you the chance to send new customers personalized product recommendations that leverage unique selling points. The problem is, where do you get a list of names and emails from?

There a few tried and tested techniques for gaining email lists. Techniques that appear like spam to new customers. We recommend that you start to:

  • Use sign-up forms on your site and integrate with other marketing campaigns
  • Leverage events as locations for gaining sign-ups
  • Organize a giveaway in which you collect information

What you should not do, never, ever, ever… is purchase an email list. Purchased lists are the fastest way to the spam box and never having your emails read (even by new customers with a genuine interest in your products).

Once you’ve got a list (no matter how small), it’s time to start using your emails to draw in new customers and encourage them to make a purchase. Some of the most effective email campaigns:

  • Are cart abandonment emails (40% click-through rate Hubspot)
  • Link to landing pages (23% order rate Omnisend)
  • Welcome new customers (320% revenue increase on promotional emails)
  • Include coupon codes (the reason 85% of email subscribers sign up in the first place Adestra).

Remember, too many emails and those new customers are likely to unsubscribe. 78% of consumers unsubscribe from an email list if they receive too many.

5. Run a Sales Promotion

Emails with coupon codes receive 2.5x higher transaction rates than those without. If this isn’t a reason for giving promotions a go, we don’t know what is. Yet a truly effective sale is about more than just creating and sending coupons.

When running a sales promotion, introducing limits can help to generate an air of exclusivity. If you decide to integrate social media and promotions, Facebook has a great tool that allows you to attach coupon codes and discounts to an ad, while also introducing limits.

Implementing Coupon codes on Facebook will let you set the discount amount, any details, where people can redeem the discount, and how many discounts are available. It will also let users save your coupon code and use it in the future – in case they’re still undecided on whether to make a purchase or not.

6. Implement PPC Advertising

PPC is pay-per-click advertising. It is where you pay for each click your advert receives – and so for each new potential customer to your site. For high purchase intent searches, paid advertising nets 65% of all clicks, making it one of the best techniques for attracting new customers.

The most common PPC advertising is search engine advertising, such as Google Adwords or Bing Ads. AdWords and Bing Ads let you bid on specific keywords with advertising campaigns and content you create. They also allow you to easily compare the results of these campaigns to see which performs best and which can be improved.

Many PPC experts state that good PPC campaigns are the product of continuous testing. These tests can include:

  1. Copy
  2. Images
  3. Audience
  4. Targeted keywords

It’s important to note that these attributes can change as your target audience does; in line with industry and social developments. It’s important to keep an eye on what your industry’s “atmosphere” is and then build PPC campaigns around this.

Of course, no business should base their visibility on paid advertising alone. PPC should be part of a more complex strategy that encompasses a range of different technique outlined in this article.  A properly implemented PPC advertising campaign should be based on what you’ve already found successful and help to build out further success.

7. Take Advantage of Social Media

Social media includes Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Pinterest, and other online social platforms. It’s a great way to connect with customers both through organic and paid strategies. In the last two years, content consumption on Facebook has increased by 57%, with it estimated that roughly 75% of online users are either on Facebook or Twitter.

With such a huge user base, social media provides eCommerce stores with a perfect way to reach out to new customers and make themselves known. This can either be done through social media paid ads, or through organic posting that engages.

If you choose to predominantly use organic social media, one of the best ways to engage with audiences is through the images you choose. According to Ofcom, images were the biggest contributor to social media content success in 2017.

Of course, there is one contribution bigger than images made by a company internally: images made by customers. To make the most out of organic social media, we highly recommend getting involved in and promoting user-generated content.

8. User-Generated Content

Once you’ve taken advantage of social media and built up a loyal customer base, you can start to employ user-generated content in your marketing strategy.

…And employ it you will. The benefits of UGC start almost immediately. As we talked about previously, 92% of people lean towards trusting another person’s recommendation over content created by a brand. UGC will give your brand an edge, with data showing that customers that engage with user-generated content are  97% more likely to convert than those who don’t.

In addition to nurturing customer trust, User-Generated Content is a great way to increase the amount of content you’re capable of creating in a short time span. Some of the content types you can share include:

  • Images
  • Videos
  • Reviews
  • Testimonials
  • Blog articles

A great way to encourage user-generated content is by using branded hashtags. This allows for users on social networks to tag you in content they create. A good branded hashtag appeals to your users’ ideals and isn’t just your company name. We use #WeLiveBeyond.

9. Create a Blog

Creating a blog links to #2 in this list: increasing search visibility. It’s an integral piece of a successful content-first strategy. Blog content can provide a versatile content-core with answers to new customer questions, along with information they can’t find elsewhere.

Sole Bicycles offer an interesting take on the blog, and one that appeals specifically to their customer base. Each of their articles provides a series of pictures and information on exploring a city on two wheels. They have articles on Omaha, Seattle, Miami, Boise, New York, Chicago, San Fransisco, Los Angeles, and more.

Not only does this strategy allow them to rank on Google searches for relevant searches, it also allows for them to provide content that appeals to new customers; content that positions their product as unique and valuable.

Sole Bicycles blogging strategy also allows them to share user-generated content. This again feeds into an integrated and successful content strategy.

10. Incentivize Customer Purchases

This links to the sales promotion tip #5 above, but can be expanded to mean so much more. Think what new customers want from your site… and then give it to them. Incentivization can take on several different forms: discounts, free shipping, free gifts, and more.

These techniques allow you to draw in new customers for first-time purchases and can improve retention and customer loyalty for the future. This means that while you may be accepting a lower profit for the first item they purchase, they will go on to purchase many of your products at full price.

And you may not even have to accept a lower profit. Several surveys have shown that when free shipping is offered, customers are more likely to spend more on the same product – simply because of the incentivization.

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Beating Back Bad Bots On Your WordPress Site

Beating Back Bad Bots On Your WordPress Site

Most web traffic is generated not by humans, but by software. Last year, just over half of all web traffic was machine generated — no humans in the loop. Software web users are called bots. Bots can be divided into the good and the bad. There are more bad bots than good by a wide margin.

Good bots are useful, and even essential, to the web. Google’s crawlers are bots, and the web would be unusable without search engines. Google’s bots move through the web following links and indexing of the content of web pages. For some site owners, over-zealous search crawling causes headaches, but few would want to turn Googlebot away.

Bad bots are useful to whoever created them, but they’re harmful to everyone else, including WordPress site owners. They waste resources, they attempt to exploit vulnerabilities, they fraudulently click on ads, and they skew analytics data. If you own a WordPress site, it will almost certainly have been visited by a bad bot in the last week.

What Do Bad Bots Want?

Typically, bad bots want to exploit a resource on your site. That might be the site itself: its network connection and storage. It might be your site’s visitors; bots compromise sites to infect them with malware or to steal user data. Some bots are interested in exploiting your site’s SEO by injecting links to domains under the control of the bot owner’s clients. Others want to scrape your content for price comparison sites or plagiarism. There are even bots that buy products from a WooCommerce store to horde and sell later at a higher price, so-called sneakerbots.

But you don’t have to put up with bots. You pay for your WordPress site’s hosting resources and bad bots abuse them. They impose a cost on every site owner, and, by extension, every web user. Let’s look at some of the ways bad bots can be sent packing.

Defeating Bad Bots

You can defeat many bots with basic security precautions. If you ensure that your site is up-to-date, then bots programmed with known exploits won’t be able to compromise it. If you implement two-factor authentication, then brute-force bots that try to guess your password are out of luck.

Beyond these security best practices, a web application firewall like ModSecurity can repel many types of bot attack. ModSecurity monitors incoming requests for patterns that match most common attacks, including SQL injection, cross-site scripting, and brute-force attacks. It drops malicious requests and may block the attacker. WordPress sites hosted on Hostdedi have ModSecurity installed by default. We wrote in more depth about how ModSecurity protects WordPress here.

ModSecurity is an excellent WAF, but it’s not perfect. You may want to consider adding another layer of protection to deter bad bots. Blackhole for Bad Bots is a plugin that adds hidden links to your WordPress site’s pages. Ordinary visitors and good bots will ignore the hidden links. Only bad bots follow them, and, when they do, Blackhole for Bad Bots blocks them.

Bad bots are a security risk for any site on the web but with a few precautions its possible to keep them at bay, protecting your site, its data, and your users.

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WordPress

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