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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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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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Authorize.net Gateway Failure

Authorize.net Gateway Failure

Authorize.net Gateway FailureJanuary 22nd, 2019 – We became aware of a potential issue with clients using Authorize.net as their payment processor in Magento stores. The issue originated from an Authorize.net update which led to multiple customers being unable to complete payment for purchases.

During this time, the Hostdedi support team were actively engaged in fixing the issue for customers that reached out.

As of January 23rd, 2019, Authorize.net have reverted the changes they made, thereby fixing the problem. If you are still experiencing issues, please get in touch with the Hostdedi support team.

What Happened?

Changes made to how character data was submitted to Authorize.net systems led to payment issues arising.

The issue originated as a result of multiple-character delimiters passed via the x_delim_char field no longer being respected by the Auth.net payment gateway. Because of Authorize.net’s change, only the first character in the delimiter was being used.

Customers trying to make purchases on Magento stores that used Authorize.net were unable to complete the checkout process and were instead directed to a 500 page, with the server receiving a RESPONSE_CODE_ERROR (3).

At around 8 pm EST, Authorize.net confirmed that they were planning to revert the changes. At approximately 9:30 pm EST, clients were reporting that their payment processing system is again working.

How to Fix It

Note that as of January 23rd, 2019, Authorize.net have reverted their changes and this should no longer be required. If you have already implemented this fix, we recommend that you revert it – or ask the Hostdedi support team to revert it for you.

A quick fix offered by the Magento Community stated that the line:

const RESPONSE_DELIM_CHAR

Be changed in the following class (app/code/core/Mage/Paygate/Model/Authorize.netphp)

Mage_Paygate_Model_Authorizenet

From

'(~)'

To

'('

We strongly advise that you review this change with your developers. If you would prefer Hostdedi to make this change for you, the support team is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

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17 Actionable Strategies to Increase Magento Sales

17 Actionable Strategies to Increase Magento Sales

17 Actionable Strategies to Increase Magento SalesThe goal of every Magento store is to increase online sales, and almost every day, a new strategy for doing so seems to pop up. But keeping up to date with the latest and greatest can be an impossible task, especially when you’re confronted by the enormous number of options available and need to prioritize which are the most important.

To help you get the most out of your Magento store, we’ve put together a list of the 17 best strategies for increasing sales quickly and efficiently. We’ve found that these techniques are the most effective amongst those we have tried.

1. Optimize Your Buyer’s Journey

Before you can hope to increase Magento eCommerce sales, you need to understand what actions your customers are performing and when. This is what’s called the buyer’s journey.

The buyer’s journey is represented in several different ways on paper. For the sake of simplicity, when we refer to the buyer’s journey here, we are referring to the sales funnel.

The sales funnel has three primary levels, each of which addresses a different set of thought processes.

  • Awareness – Buyer is aware of a need for a product or service
  • Consideration – Buyer researches competing products or services to find the right fit
  • Decision – Buyer makes a purchasing decision

Increase Magento sales by understanding this sales funnel

There are several different ways to optimize this process so a buyer can move from awareness to decision swiftly. The real trick to optimizing a sales funnel is to isolate what channels are the most profitable for your Magento store, and then build on these to create as clear a pathway to checkout as possible.

2. Optimize Your eCommerce Hosting

A simple way to increase sales is to improve your eCommerce store’s hosting performance. Numerous studies have shown that even a 1-second delay in page load time can lead to a 7% decrease in sales. The faster your store loads, the more sales you will make.

Your store may be slow due to not being optimized, being overloaded, or because you’re hosting with an unsuitable provider. Regardless of the reason, to improve your site’s speed, you’re going to have to make some changes.

Before making those changes, it’s a good idea to benchmark your site’s performance. Google Lighthouse is a great way to start and can easily be implemented through your Chrome browser without having to download anything. There are also several websites that allow you to check site speed manually.

With Google’s increased emphasis on user experience, the time it takes for customers to see and interact with your site is the most important. Many providers emphasize their TTFB load speeds, when this number isn’t a good metric for estimating sales performance. The most important metric is time to interactivity or time to full page load.

3. Take Control of Your eCommerce Environment

When we say take control of your eCommerce environment, we mean being able to make changes to the resources you have access to. This usually means you should avoid SaaS platforms. SaaS platforms, while great for getting started, lack the customization capabilities many hosting environments provide.

You don’t need to be a developer to take full control of your application environment. Many managed hosting providers will help you unlock the true potential of your eCommerce store with auto-installs and help getting your application off the ground.

A good eCommerce environment allows you to increase page load speeds, optimize environment settings, and implement custom tools for advanced functionality. 

4. Go Content First

The best way to attract new customers and draw them into your sales funnel is by luring them with great content.

Great content at the top of your funnel means that potential customers will find your brand while researching for the right product or service. From here, you won’t only be a vendor, you’ll also be an authority – one they’re more likely to purchase from.

Long tail keywords are key to a true content first Magento strategy. The best way to get started is with tools like MOZ and Google Trends. Find content opportunities and fill them.

5. Improve Personalized Experiences

Personalization has long been at the center of great marketing campaigns, so there’s no excuse not to provide it in 2019.

With the introduction of AI and machine learning services, and Magento’s already incredible internal functionality, creating campaigns that appeal to multiple users should be easier now than ever before.

Moreover, improved personalized experiences are an important part of optimizing your buyer’s journey. A buyer is more likely to make a purchase and remain loyal to a store when their name or attributes are mentioned and appealed to.

6. Create Abandoned Cart Emails

10% of customers that receive abandoned cart emails will make a purchase. The potential power in reminding customers of what they left behind, even if it isn’t the same in every industry, is incredible.

Abandoned cart emails are one of the most effective ways to increase Magento sales; especially if you haven’t been sending them already. Implementing them can be tricky, but extensions like Recapture’s Abandoned Cart Recapture or  Magewares’ premium Abandoned Cart Email can help you to get started quickly.

7. Reduce Abandoned Carts

Do you know what’s better than sending abandoned cart emails? Not having to send them at all.

Understanding why potential customers are abandoning their shopping cart is the first step to avoiding it. Looking at the main reasons behind cart abandonment reveals some clear trends.

According to Baymard, the top reason for cart abandonment is unexpected shipping costs, followed by having to create a new user account, and a checkout process that is too complicated. These are all issues that can easily be resolved through minor tweaks.

A great way to improve the second two points is by integrating social logins. This can be done by installing an extension and will, in most cases, provide customers with increased peace of mind over your store’s reliability and trustworthiness.

8. Upsell and Cross-Sell Products

We’ve all heard “would you like fries with that” when we order fast food. It’s a great example of upselling and one that can help you increase Magento store sales.

Upselling is when you provide a customer with additional options for purchase. If you sell shoes, for instance, you may also try to upsell them on a shoe protection and maintenance kit, thereby increasing the life of the shoes and keeping them in the best shape possible.

A good upsell requires two primary elements to be there, otherwise, it can fall on deaf ears.

  1. Upsells should be related to the original product
  2. Upsells should not increase the price of the original product by too much

If you’re already selling an expensive product, customers may be eager to buy into a warranty or protection program. recommendations like these often appeal to a buyer’s journey to find value for their money and make the best purchase possible.

9. Bundle Products

You decided to have fries with your fast food order. You probably got a drink as well, and all for less money than it would have cost you to order each individually. This is bundling, and it’s an incredibly effective way to increase sales.

Not only does bundling help you to upsell more products, but, if done correctly, it can position you as a knowledgable vendor with a clear idea of what is important to customers.

In the example above regarding a shoe repair kit, you can do more than recommend the kit.  By increasing the purchase price of the shoes and including it, you’re able to provide both at a lower combined cost. Customers will feel they are getting great value for money and be less inclined to purchase from a competitor.


Again, bundling products needs to be done strategically and bundled items should be relevant to one another. Savings are an important part of bundling, so analyze what items you are able to reduce prices on. Potentially run a test to see if bundles or the single items perform better.

10. Integrate Social Media

Integrating social media into your sales funnel can be a great way to increase your Magento sales. Social posting, social ads, and interaction with potential customers are great ways to increase awareness, reposition your products, and retarget potential customers.

integrate social media into your sales funnel with a click

Integrating social channels doesn’t have to be a time-consuming task. Integrate social channels with your blog for auto posting and use a social media tool to auto-alert you to brand mentions. For Twitter, Tweetdeck is a great, free tool with a good level of customization.

For social ads, run multiple tests to see what content performs best and work on narrowing down the right audience. The longer you work on it, the better your content will perform and the more customers you’ll start to see hitting your funnel.

11. Go Responsive

Mobile now counts for over 50% of all eCommerce traffic, and it’s not surprising considering the number of people equipped with smartphones and other mobile devices.

in 2019, responsiveness is not something that should need to be mentioned. However, if you haven’t got a mobile-friendly store already, it is a surefire way of increasing Magento conversions. Moreover, there are several great guides and themes available to help store owners make their Magento store responsive quickly.

12. Improve the User Experience (UX)

Good UX makes a buyer’s journey as intuitive and simple as possible. In eCommerce, UX should not aim to recreate the wheel, but adopt the wheel that already exists. There are several primary aspects that eCommerce design should follow, including:

  • Simplicity of navigation
  • Clear presentation
  • Ability to leave and check product feedback
  • Easy access to contact information
  • Design that supports, not overshadows
  • Strong branding

From the perspective of a business, these elements require a clear audience definition and the identification of that audience’s expectations. A tech-orientated audience is going to have a different set of assumptions regarding how an e-commerce site is meant to look and feel, compared with an audience looking for flowers.

13. Embrace User-Generated Content

Imagine being able to improve your content-first marketing tactics without having to hire a writer or strategist? It’s time to look at user-generated content.

User generated content can enable you to increase content amount

Leveraging customer images and reviews can provide you with great advertisements, but it also does something much more important: create advocates.

The real benefit of user-generated content comes from its trustworthiness. Multiple studies have shown that people don’t trust marketers. 92% of people lean towards trusting another person’s recommendation over content created by a brand.

As soon as a customer shares positive content about your products, they become an advocate. They are a real person sharing real feelings about their purchase. This authenticity can go a long way toward pushing a buyer that is otherwise on the fence towards making a purchase.

User-generated content provides authentic, easily-digestible content, and gives your Magento store the edge you need to increase sales.

14. Run an SEO Audit

On average, 51% of all website traffic comes from organic search. That means that potentially 51% of your traffic and potential customers come as a result of your SEO efforts.

If you’re new to SEO, then blogging regularly can help you to improve your SEO rank quickly. Create fresh and helpful content that appeals to what buyers are looking for. We recommend getting started with tools like Google Trends and then going from there.

15. Update Local SEO

SEO is more multifaceted than you may believe – this is especially true if you’re running an omnichannel Magento store and want to encourage online visitors to visit your brick and mortar location.

An example of optimized Google Local SEO

Local SEO is a great way to increase your business visibility for free. Start by heading to Google My Business and make sure that your business’s information has all been configured correctly. You can provide your customers with important information including your:

  • Address
  • Opening Hours
  • Contact Details

Well configured local SEO can increase your store’s visibility on Google and allow even more customers to find your store during the awareness stage of their buyer’s journey.

16. Listen to Customer Feedback

Getting feedback from customers is an important part of knowing how to improve your store’s eCommerce experience. Buyers are often more than happy to give you feedback, especially if they’re not impressed by something. You can enable feedback in a number of ways. Each of which has its own unique advantages.

Surveys are the easiest and quickest to implement. There are a number of free survey sites available, or you can invest in a cloud service such as SurveyMonkey. We find that surveys often need something to motivate customers to engage. This can be a discount code, a voucher, or something else.

Social media is also a great way to elicit feedback. Moreover, by combining feedback with your social media efforts, you’re able to engage with customers online and position your brand as one that cares.

However you decide to collect feedback, the information you receive will be invaluable.

17. Take Part in Holiday Sales

Online sales for Black Friday in 2017 were 26% higher than they were in 2016. In 2018, they increased again. If we’re not being clear: holiday periods can net you a significant increase in sales if you’re suitably prepared.

There are several ways to prepare for holiday sales. Many of them include retargeting potential customers. The reason for this is that during a holiday sales period, buyers are often looking for the best deals available. This involves a much longer consideration stage, with many different merchants competing for a buyer’s decision.

As a merchant, it’s your job to make sure that your products remain at the forefront of your buyer’s mind. Retargeting campaigns through PPC ads and abandoned cart recapture can help to keep you there.

How to Increase Magento Sales the Easy Way

The tips above should help you to make serious headway when it comes to increasing sales. However, it’s important to know that this isn’t an exhaustive list. There are numerous techniques and strategies at a merchant’s disposal. We have included those we have found to be most valuable yet for many merchants, techniques not listed here may make the biggest difference.

We highly recommend checking what other eCommerce stores are doing right and aligning your optimizations around what already works. Again, being a successful eCommerce business is not about reinventing the wheel, following the patterns and expectations that already exist.

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Five Extensions For Boosting Sales On Your Magento Store

Five Extensions For Boosting Sales On Your Magento Store

Five Extensions For Boosting Sales On Your Magento Store

Magento is a mature and feature-rich eCommerce application. It has everything a retailer needs to build an online store. But Magento, as richly endowed as it is, can’t be all things to all retailers. That’s why the Magento Marketplace and Magento extensions exist. They give developers the opportunity to put their own spin on essential eCommerce features.

In this article, we’re going to look at five of the best Magento extensions for increasing sales. We’re interpreting “increase sales” broadly, and will suggest extensions that will help you to bring new customers to your store, improve the shopping experience, and win back customers who leave without making a purchase.

Loyalty programs that offer discounts to loyal shoppers are an effective way of increasing sales and making sure that shoppers come back for more.

Loyalty Program from Amasty provides a huge range of functionality focused on building flexible discount reward schemes. The extension allows Magento retailers to create rewards based on a variety of attributes, including cart contents, purchase history, and more. There are many loyalty program extensions for Magento, but I’ve chosen to highlight this one because of its flexibility: Loyalty Program offers over 16 discount actions and intelligent discounting rules that cover almost everything a retailer might want to offer shoppers.

Research has shown that around 70% of carts are abandoned. Shoppers put products in the carts, but fail to complete the checkout process. Shoppers abandon carts for many reasons, but some can be won back with a well-timed email and the offer of a discount.

Abandoned Cart Email provides highly configurable email reminders with personalization features such as email templates customized for specific customer groups. The extension can also automatically generate coupon codes based on flexible rules chosen by the retailer.

Uncertainty is the enemy of eCommerce retailers. Online retail has many advantages that brick-and-mortar does not, but it suffers from some limitations where direct interaction is concerned. The answer to a question or concern can make the difference between a sale and an abandoned cart. Instant chat embedded on the site and staffed by a knowledgeable support team helps shoppers to get the answers they need to make a decision.

ZenDesk Chat provides Magento integration to the popular ZenDesk real-time chat service, allowing support staff to respond instantly to queries.

A significant proportion of shoppers arrive at eCommerce stores via a search engine. Magento is well-equipped to support excellent search engine optimization, but the SEO Ultimate Suite makes it easier to implement SEO best practices such as adding metadata to product and category pages, internal cross-linking, duplicate content resolution, and rich snippets.

Algolia Instant Search upgrades Magento’s built-in search capabilities with features shoppers are familiar with from search engines like Google. Algolia’s features include instant search results as the user types, autocomplete, search suggestions, and synonym matching.

I’ve tried to include the best of each category of extension in this article, but there are many that provide similar functionality. If my suggestions don’t fit your needs, be sure to browse the Magento Marketplace for more ideas.

 

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Why Are eCommerce Stores The Number One Target Of Cyber Crime?

Why Are eCommerce Stores The Number One Target Of Cyber Crime?

Why Are eCommerce Stores The Number One Target Of Cyber CrimeIn 2017, global online crime generated $1.5 trillion. To put that statistic in context, global eCommerce sales in 2016 totaled around $1.8 trillion. Both of those figures can be challenged and neither is likely to be entirely accurate, but it is clear that online crime is a huge, sophisticated, and professional industry. Much of that industry’s attention is focused on eCommerce retailers.

Anyone who runs an online retail store will find themselves a target sooner or later. By some estimates, 90% of login attempts to eCommerce stores are fraudulent. According to a recent study, about half of all website visitors are bots and around a third are there to attack your site. ThreatMetrix reported a billion bot attacks and 210 million attempted fraud attacks in the first quarter of this year.

But what do criminals gain from their focus on eCommerce stores? In reality, it’s much the same as they get from any site – resources, data, and traffic – but the specifics of eCommerce mean that online stores have a richer vein of those assets to mine.

Data exploitation

Online retail stores have access to a lot of data about their customers. That includes names, addresses, and other data that can be used for identity theft.

Of course, the most valuable data is credit card numbers, and those are not often stored in eCommerce databases. One of the reasons retailers use payment processors is so that they don’t have to deal with the burdensome standards and risks associated with credit card data.

But, if an attacker can compromise a site and inject code of their own, sensitive data can be transmitted to a server under their control. This is called credit card skimming. We have recently seen a massive series of skimming campaigns against Magento and other eCommerce stores.

Traffic is valuable

Retailers spend a lot of money on marketing to bring people to their store. That traffic is a valuable resource that a criminal would otherwise have to generate themselves. We’ve already discussed credit card skimming, but criminals also want access to traffic so that they can redirect visitors to phishing websites, malware websites, spam pages, and a variety of other malicious content.

Server resources and bandwidth

No legitimate hosting provider wants to sell bandwidth and server resources to criminals, so they have to get them elsewhere. eCommerce stores are often hosted on high-end servers with a decent chunk of low-latency bandwidth at their disposal. That makes them a good target for spammers and botnet operators who need the bandwidth.

Another resource criminals are interested in is less tangible: your reputation. This can be exploited in a number of ways. For instance, SEO spammers embed links to malicious sites they want to boost in search engine results. It’s your reputation that causes shoppers to entrust their data to you in the first place. And it’s your reputation that will be destroyed if your store leaks sensitive data, hosts credit card skimmers, or infects shoppers with ransomware.

Combating Online Crime

Online security for eCommerce stores is a complex topic, but there are several things you can do to reduce the likelihood that your store will be victimized.

  • Update your store and its extensions regularly. The importance of this is hard to overstate. Out-of-date stores are vulnerable.
  • Make sure all plugins and extensions are downloaded from reputable sources.
  • Use two-factor authentication. This will help prevent successful brute-force attacks.
  • Choose your hosting wisely. If you don’t choose a competent hosting provider that cares about security, there’s little you can do to ensure that your store stays safe.

There is no silver bullet for eCommerce security, but these four simple tips will keep your store safe from opportunistic attacks by criminals in search of weaker sites to exploit.

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6 Email Personalization Techniques For Your eCommerce Business

6 Email Personalization Techniques For Your eCommerce Business

6 Email Personalization Techniques For Your eCommerce BusinessEmail is a powerful sales tool. It’s at least 40x more effective than social media, and has a much bigger reach than events. Because of this, it’s important that the emails your sending are done right.

Personalization ranks as one of the most critical email campaign factors. It draws the reader in, fosters a relationship, and encourages trust. Using a person’s name is a significant first step, but there are many ways to personalize an email and let a customer know that you care.

If your email campaigns aren’t bringing the results you want, perhaps it’s time you incorporated our six email personalization techniques. These methods will make your emails stand out from the others fighting for attention in a customer’s inbox.

1. Mention the Recipient Directly

“A person’s name is to him or her the sweetest and most important sound in any language.”

Dale Carnegie.

The most well-used and well-known method of email personalization, and a perfect technique for building an initial connection. Imagine going to your favorite restaurant, but no one ever seems to remember you. It’s always a better experience when the head waiter recognizes you.

When it comes to digital, the data doesn’t lie. Using a customer’s name makes it more likely that they’ll journey further down the sales funnel and trust the research you present them with. Studies have shown that 63% of Millennials, 58% of Gen Xers, and 46% of Baby Boomers are more likely to click on emails that mentioned them by name.

However, resist the urge to pepper your entire email with their name. Too many mentions and the email will sound contrived. “Barry, this solutions is going to solve all your needs, Barry” – avoid sentences like this, you’ll push Barry away instead of drawing him closer.

2. Segment Your Email Lists

It’s unlikely that all your customers need to receive each and every email you send.

Stand out by only sending relevant emails to relevant parties. If you sell a variety of products, you don’t need to alert gizmo owners to a big sale for add-ons that only fit widgets. You only need to inform widget owners.

You can handle this process easily by segmenting your email list. A well-segmented email list is going to look different depending on your products, company, and customer base. However, at its core, it should seek to reflect a customer benefit analysis – I.e., what emails will most benefit what groups?

It would help if you also segmented your email lists based on where each person is on their buyer’s journey. Those who are just becoming aware that they have a problem that needs solving should receive a different email than those ready to purchase.

Creating a simple and easy to follow chart for customer progression is a great way to visualize how this segmentation process would work. We’ve put together a simple map to chart a buyer’s journey to cart abandonment.

3. Personalize Email Content

Personalization involves more than using a customer’s name.

A good example of a personalized email that uses more than a person’s name is one Open Table sent to restaurant diners that noted what the customers had recently ordered. By recognizing the buying history of a customer, Open Table implied that future visits would be better and more personalized.

Moreover, these emails helped to encourage and foster a community around the table booking service. Customers weren’t just finding a table, they were leaving reviews, building up a history, and contributing to something.

Emails that invite customers to be a part of something help to build trust and loyalty. For brands that rely on repeat purchases, emails that draw attention to community can lead to much higher customer retention rates.

4. Deliver Personalized Information

Don’t just deliver personalized product recommendations, deliver personalized information too. The buyer’s journey isn’t a single purchasing stage, it’s a model for funneling customers towards making a purchase. Before a customer makes it to the purchasing stage, they first weight up their options. This is where great, personalized content comes in.

Line up your website content with your email segments. Send those interested in tennis shoes articles about tennis shoes and those interested in bowler hats, articles on bowler hats. Contributing to a buyer’s consideration stage in this way doesn’t only help to improve retention, but can also lead to your becoming an influencer.

5. Use Location and Time

Everyone has a time of the day for checking their emails. It’s not always a time of day that you would have considered.

Busted Tees, a humorous tee shirt company, optimized their email campaigns by looking at the best times for sending emails and saw their click-through rate rise by 11%.

Email monitoring tools are useful for logging the open times for emails you send. Typically, a distinct pattern will emerge. Once you’ve learned your customer’s favorite email times, you can then send your emails at precisely that time – maybe even a little before.

6. A/B Test Content and Segment Techniques

For Busted Tees, the first step toward personalization was to segment its customers. The company grouped them by the time zone in which they lived.

Previously, all emails were sent at the same time — 10am EST. The new email segments aimed to target each customer at 10am, regardless of what time zone they were in. The company saw a significant email response rate increase.

They then tried different times of the day, to see if there were better times than 10am. A/B tests, where two variables are pitted against each other to determine the more effective way of doing something, were implemented and led to the discovery of several effective sending times. Overall, they managed to increase their response rate by 17%.

Conclusion

Email personalization best practices aren’t difficult to execute, but they do involve more than blasting generic greetings and cut-and-paste messages. It’s important to target your customers with content they care about.

A relevant email is more likely to draw attention, clicks, and ultimately purchases. By combining relevancy with testing, it won’t take long before you’re sending interesting email campaigns that promote your brand and help you to build a community.

Personalization takes a little extra work, but there’s a reason more successful marketers insist on doing it. It works.


Blog Post SummaryLearn more about eCommerce hosting in the Hostdedi Cloud. We’re a PCI compliant provider that can offer unmatched performance, security, and reliability.

Learn More about the Hostdedi Cloud.


 

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How To Reduce Chargebacks On Your eCommerce Store

How To Reduce Chargebacks On Your eCommerce Store

How To Reduce Chargebacks On Your eCommerce StoreChargebacks are a safeguard for shoppers, and from that perspective they are good for eCommerce. They reassure shoppers that when they give their credit card details to a merchant or payment processor, their money will be returned if they aren’t satisfied. But chargebacks put strain on eCommerce retailers, who have occasionally been driven out of business by excessive chargebacks.

A chargeback is the forced return of money from the retailer’s account to the shopper. They can be initiated by the retailer to make a refund, but it is shopper-initiated chargebacks that are problematic for retailers. Many chargebacks are fraudulent, but I want to focus on reducing “genuine” chargebacks. Shoppers initiate chargebacks for several reasons:

  • They didn’t receive the goods they ordered.
  • They received the goods but they were defective or otherwise unsatisfactory.
  • Buyers remorse — they changed their mind about the purchase.
  • So-called “friendly fraud”, in which the shopper agreed to make a payment, but has forgotten about it or didn’t understand what they were agreeing to.

The immediate impact of a chargeback is the loss of a sale, and possibly of the goods that have been delivered. But that isn’t the most onerous impact of chargebacks: retailers have to pay a fee for every chargeback they didn’t initiate, so in addition to losing a sale, retailers lose revenue from other sales too.

The credit card industry expects chargeback rates to be less than one percent of total transactions. If an eCommerce business even approaches a one percent chargeback rate, the credit card providers may decline to accept payments, which can be devastating to the business.

It is in the interest of all eCommerce businesses to keep chargeback rates low.

Make it easy for customers to request a refund.

A chargeback should be the option of last resort. Customers are often happy to deal with the retailer directly if the process of requesting a refund is obvious and not too onerous — don’t make people wait on hold for hours, for example.

No one likes to lose a sale, but the shopper has the power here, and it is better to lose the sale and make a refund than to risk a chargeback.

Have a customer-friendly return policy.

Free returns are a financial drain on an eCommerce business too, but that may be a better option than suffering a chargeback. A customer who knows they will have to pay a large shipping fee to return an item may be tempted to use a chargeback instead.

Make sure shoppers can get in touch with you.

Provide a channel by which customers can get in touch and don’t make them wait for support. It is often possible to work out a satisfactory resolution to a dispute.

Describe goods accurately.

Chargebacks often occur because the goods the shopper receives are not what they expected. It is not possible to force customers to read copy and think about what they are buying, but clear product descriptions with images and video help to get the message across.

Make charges with a name customers recognize

One of the most common causes of chargebacks is shoppers failing to recognize the transaction on their credit card bill. This might be because the retailer makes the charge under a different name than the brand the shopper is familiar with, or that the shopper has forgotten making the purchase.

To reduce the likelihood of this type of friendly fraud chargeback, use a familiar brand name for charges or make it clear to the customer that the name will be different on their bill.

Chargebacks are an irritation to eCommerce retailers, and sometimes a disaster, but it is possible to keep chargebacks under control by giving shoppers clear alternatives and a way to get in touch.

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4 Ways to Optimize the Buyer’s Journey

4 Ways to Optimize the Buyer’s Journey

Today’s buyer has access to an incredible amount of information. They are able to create a clear picture of the product they are looking to purchase by leveraging information from search engines, social media, and word of mouth. 

This changing information landscape means that merchants now have to work harder than ever to make products and their attributes as accessible as possible to buyers.

Worried you’re not doing it right? Follow our four tips for optimizing a buyer’s journey and help guide your site visitors towards making a purchase and not clicking away.

What is the Buyer’s Journey?

The buyer's Journey displayed as a funnelBefore delving any deeper, it’s important to define what a Buyer’s Journey actually looks like.

A simple and commonly used representation of the buyer’s journey is the sales funnel. It’s useful as it embodies the three primary stages a buyer goes through.

  • Awareness – Aware of a need for something new
  • Consideration – Analyzing the different options available to them
  • Decision – Final purchasing decision (a conversion)

As buyer’s progress down the funnel, they get closer to making a purchase. Awareness of where a buyer is at, lends you the ability to target them with more relevant content. Gone are the days of blanket content marketing.

There are several ways to target those in your sales funnel effectively. We’ve collected four of the most effective.

1. Create Awesome Content

Great content does better in almost every single way. Not only will it rank better organically by being a ‘cut above the rest’, it will also attract more shares and reads. If done right, great content can also turn you into an authority or thought leader — capable of a greater degree of influence over customers’ buying decisions.

Conversely, publishing not-so-awesome content can have the opposite effect. 49% of B2B buyers said their opinion of a company decreased after reading poor quality content. Something you definitely want to avoid!

Where to Put Great Content?

Create a blog and use it

Great content belongs in your blog

Great content tends to exist on your internal blog. Blogs are a great resource for improving search visibility and providing your customers with useful information. Many eCommerce stories use their blog to post company updates, but they have much greater potential when aligned with content marketing efforts.

There are a number of ways to present your blog but, at a minimum, creating several relevant categories to aid in navigation is important. Visitors need to be able to find your awesome content.

Guest posting can also be an incredibly effective method for increasing the number of customers that visit your site. Depending on the websites you are able to guest post on, this can help you to both rank authoritatively in search engine results and expand your influence.

2. Create an Awesome Experience

There are eCommerce stores that make the buyer’s journey confusing and difficult. Either the buyer can’t find the item they are looking for, or the information they need to make an informed purchasing decision is missing.

You don’t enter a shopping mall or supermarket and find a new set of obstacles every time you turn the corner. Stores and aisles are appropriately labeled and relevant merchandise is either placed at the storefront or along the aisle. Buying online should be no different. Buyers should be able to easily find a product by following the right signs.

Creating a great user experience undoubtedly deserves an article of its own, but for the purpose for brevity, three areas you should be paying attention to at all times are:

  • Navigation
  • Content
  • Site Speed

  Optimize your eCommerce store for speed and performance easily. Learn how.

3. Help Buyer’s Find You

While creating awesome content, you should be targeting words and phrases surrounding that content. These are what are known as keywords. Keywords come in both long tail and short tail form. Short tail keywords target large, general terms. Long tail keywords target specific search phrases.

As an example, think of a buyer looking for a pair of men’s tennis shoes. A short tail keyword would be “Men’s tennis shoes”: it’s direct and to the point. A long tail keyword would be “best tennis shoes for men” or “best tennis shoes for men on astroturf”. Long tail keywords form the basis for content that draws customers towards your store while in the consideration stage of the funnel.

Finding Long Tails

Google Trends Results for Bowler Hat

An example Google Trends result

So where can you find long tail keywords? Google Trends is a great resource for getting started. Simply searching for products you are selling can reveal a list of terms buyers are searching for. 

Once you’ve discovered trends, you can also try using SEO tools like MOZ or SEMRush. Inputting the trend phrases you identified previously will give you a list of specific keywords with information on difficulty, search volume, and more.

With this information, you can map out your content to match the different stages of your buyer’s journey and start to create a great content map.


Product (what are you selling)Intent (What does the buyer want?)KeywordActionable (Will they buy?)
Bowler HatKnowledgewinter hatMaybe
Bowler HateCommercewhere to buy a bowler hatYes
Bowler HateCommercemen’s bowler hatMaybe

4. Reach Out Personally

Reaching out to consumers directly is a great way to increase conversions… if done right.

This year (2018), 89% of marketers said that email was their primary channel for lead generation, despite many feeling that their email marketing could do with improvement. The issue? Less than perfect open rates.

As a result, 54% of email marketers work to improve open rates, not reach. They do this by A/B testing content, finding what works, and removing what doesn’t. The results are not surprising. General, forceful emails are a good way to encourage unsubscribes or have customers report you as spam. Needless to say, they’re not so great for making sales.

Emails were thought to have more inherent value when they acknowledged the customer directly. 63% of Millennials, 58% of Gen Xers, and 46% of Baby Boomers were more likely to click through and share personal information with companies when the email mentioned them by name.

Personalizing Emails

We’ve got four quick tips to help you get started with email personalization. 

Mention the recipient directly:

Whether it’s in the subject of the email, the header, the body, or a mix of all three, mentioning the recipient by name is a surefire way to get started with personalization: “Dear John” always sounds better than “Dear Customer”.

Personalize email content:

Are all of your customers the same? If your answer is yes, you may need to engage in some persona research. Your audience should not be a single, homogenous body, but a series of smaller groups defined by mutual lifestyles and demographics.

Refer to their buyer’s journey:

Take this to the next level and send your customers emails that include products they added to their shopping cart and abandoned. More than 40% of cart abandonment emails are opened, 50% of which are clicked on. Of these, 50% make a purchase. That’s 10% of customers you send a cart abandonment email to that will make a purchase.

Use location and time:

Don’t send emails to international customers at 1 am. Use segmented lists to send emails when they’re most likely to be opened. This may take a little work to perfect, but finding the golden hour for email opens can make a big difference.

  Host your email and website with the same provider. Find out more.

Conclusion

Optimizing the buyer’s journey is a tricky process because of how personal it can be. It’s highly unlikely your buyers are all the same, and it’s important to target each appropriately.

The tips above provide an easy way to identify those differences and the types of content that works best for each group. Don’t forget that it’s important to run A/B tests on each of the elements you enlist in your campaigns to find which works best and continue improving.

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Endpoint Security For Magento eCommerce Stores

Endpoint Security For Magento eCommerce Stores

Endpoint Security For Magento eCommerce StoresWhen we talk about Magento security, the focus is often on securing the server and the eCommerce application itself. That makes sense because it is where most attacks are directed. Script injection, brute force, and remote code execution attacks are aimed squarely at the server. But there are other attack vectors to take into account, particularly endpoints.

eCommerce stores have a client-server architecture. The server is the application itself. Magento trusts authenticated clients, but these endpoints are not always trustworthy. A simple example of this problem is a logged-in mobile device. If an employee with an administrator account loses an insecure mobile device, whoever finds it may be able to access the store.

Endpoints can be used to circumvent even the best designed security strategies because they are trusted. In addition to ensuring that Magento is secure, everyone with admin permissions on a store or an SSH account on the server must follow endpoint security best practices.

Use two-factor authentication

Once a computing device — a laptop, perhaps — is stolen, it is best to assume that the thief has access to every password stored on it. Two-factor authentication, provided by an extension like Sentry, will stop an attacker who only has access to the password.

Secure endpoint devices

Modern devices and operating systems provide strong security and authentication systems. The MacBook I am writing this article on uses full-disk encryption and fingerprint authentication. Most mobile devices provide similar encryption and biometric authentication.

These security measures are only effective if they are used. Anyone with an admin account on a Magento store should take full advantage of their device’s built-in security.

Access your store over a VPN

A Virtual Private Network (VPN) encrypts information that moves between the endpoint device and a Magento store. This prevents a third-party from intercepting sensitive information with a man-in-the-middle attack.

A VPN is particularly important when site owners use insecure protocols such as FTP to transfer data to their server.

Remove unused accounts

Retailers often provide accounts for employees or freelancers so that they can work on the Magento store or its server. When the employee no longer needs access, the accounts should be deleted as soon as possible.

On a related note, if you do need to give access to a developer, designer, or other professional, create a new account for them. Don’t use the same account for more than one person. If everyone uses the same account, revoking access will be a huge headache.

Minimum necessary access

Give people the least access they need to get their work done. If they don’t need an administrator account, don’t provide one. If a developer doesn’t need access to your server’s root account, don’t let them have it. Magento includes powerful Access Control Lists so that store owners can specify which parts of a site an account can access. Familiarize yourself with how ACLs work and use them to restrict the access of account holders.

Endpoint security is too often neglected, but Magento store owners should be aware of the risks and what they can do to keep their store safe.

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