Email is one of the most powerful marketing tools at your disposal, with an incredible average $1 to $38 ROI. It provides you with a method to interact with existing customers and reach out to new leads, so it’s no surprise that the majority of B2B marketers consider it the most effective medium.
Although email is an incredibly efficient way to increase your sales, a strong email marketing approach can have a substantial impact on your ROI. Best practices like segmenting lists, tracking key metrics, and using an email verification tool can help you run a successful campaign.
Beyond that, the following tactics will help you build a successful long-term email marketing plan that works well with other aspects of your marketing strategy.
Problems to Avoid
While sending marketing emails may seem easy, there are several mistakes that can make your content less engaging for readers. Fixing these simple errors will significantly clean up your emails and increase your conversion rates.
Computers used to be the only way to check your email, but the majority of emails are now opened on mobile devices. This means that you have to adapt your content to fit on a wide variety of screens. Anything wider than 650 pixels will go beyond the edge of the screen and force your readers to scroll.
Generic, One Size Fits All Copy
One of the biggest mistakes email marketers can make is making all of their content look the same. Personalizing the copy in your emails substantially improves open and conversion rates. Generic, mass-produced emails turn customers off and end up being grouped together with spam.
Targets to Hit
The first step in improving your email marketing approach is making sure that you’re not making either of those common mistakes. On the other hand, there are also some easy opportunities that marketers often miss. Being aware of these tactics will give you the tools you need to reach out and attract new leads.
Automating Emails Whenever Possible
There’s no way to completely automate the email marketing process, but letting software do some of the more tedious work will help streamline your campaign processes and give you more time to focus on other aspects of your marketing approach. There are many email marketing applications available that offer an expansive set of features.
Promoting Action in the Subject Line
When readers are scrolling through a long list of emails, a strong subject line can be the difference that incentivizes them to open your piece. Keep it short and to the point in order to attract attention immediately. If you’re offering a promotion or discount in the body, make sure that’s prominently featured in the subject.
Email marketing is an incredibly effective way of increasing your outreach and sales, but simple mistakes can hold you back from achieving the best results. Start by following these tips to streamline your tactics, and continually refine your approach. The best thing you can add to your marketing strategy is consistent evaluation and adjustment.
Need help with your email campaign? We’d love to work with you! Contact us here for a complimentary consultation.
According to a 2017 survey done by Marketo, 47% of B2C and 65% of B2B customers responded that businesses could do a better job of aligning their engagement efforts with the customer’s preferences. Despite this, out of the marketers that were interviewed for the survey, 82% of them believe that they were aligning their engagement efforts with customer preferences. This shines some interesting light on what marketers think they are doing versus what the customer perceives.
So how can this gap be closed to put the marketers’ perception more in-line with the customer experience? Here are a few tips:
Know the Audience
This could not be enforced enough. Know the audience well, including their buying habits, lifestyles, challenges, communication channels, and personal tendencies. Their preferred methods of communication should be used whenever reaching out to them, as well as the right content format and tone (articles, videos, infographics, emojis, etc.). The reason that the customer is being contacted should be relevant to their interest, otherwise it could be seen as spam.
Make the Brand Relatable
A brand with a personality is more memorable than one without. If people are able to connect with a brand on an emotional level, they are more likely to feel passionate about the brand and even become great ambassadors. Close attention should be paid by business owners to create a brand that resonates with their audience. Doing this can be more difficult with B2B than with B2C, but it still can be accomplished through careful considerations for the scope of your products and services, and with carefully crafted marketing content.
A company shouldn’t wait for its customers to come to them with questions. The company should actively be asking questions and trying to engage with their customers. If a customer makes a big purchase, a follow-up should be done to make sure that everything met their expectations and to find any opportunities for improvement. Also, incorporate AI technology such as automated chatbots to facilitate social media campaigns. This enables businesses to engage with audiences after the campaign and to create a personalized experience.
Speaking of Social Media…
With the invention of social media, it easier than ever for customers to connect with businesses and to leave feedback. Because of the accessibility of social media and the amount of customer engagement which happens there, it can be tempting for a company to rely on social media as its only form of customer interaction. Yet, only 52% of B2C and 51% of B2B customers rate social media as a highly effective tool for engaging according to the customer feedback survey that was referenced earlier. While having a customer engagement strategy that focuses primarily on social media will work for some businesses, it’s not one that should be used by every business. Since only over half of all customers find it as an effective way to engage with customers, it’s wise for business to include other methods of engaging customers in the mix. This brings us to...
Ask for Feedback!
The importance of feedback from the customer cannot be understated and should be given serious consideration when trying to figure out where the company can improve. With a big enough sample, trends will start to emerge, and company can start to create a picture of how it is performing in the eyes of its customers versus how the company believes itself to be doing.
When designing surveys, be sure to include identification questions (age, gender, education level, contact, etc.), satisfaction-related questions (on a scale of 1-10, how satisfied are you with…), retention-related questions, and open-ended questions.
Capturing the identities of the respondents enables effective statistical testing during survey analysis. Also, while yes or no and rate on a scale questions saves time and provide a lot of insight, it’s important to ask open-ended questions to give respondents the opportunity to leave a more personalized feedback. Customers often bring up issues that no one at a company had thought to address.
Obtaining feedback is an ongoing process and customers must be asked regularly how a company is doing. Feedback should not only be obtained for the service or product, but also for the engagement efforts also. lastly, don’t forget to update your audiences on any changes that were made to incorporate the customer feedback. Doing so will make customers feel like a company cares about their needs and is making an effort to improve in any way that the company is able. This encourages further customer engagements.
Need more assistance with designing and executing your next marketing campaign? We’re here to help! Please DM us here.
Editor’s Note: This is a collaborative piece with Arianna Duse from Market Inspector.
Marketing strategies have many different facets and components, but all have one main scope, namely the engagement of customers. This aim has driven companies to implement gamification in their business.
So what is gamification?
Gamification is the implementation of game thinking and methods to different scenarios that are not game related. Competition, reward, status-building, and pride are the dynamics that are applied to different tasks or marketing campaigns. This strategy is effective as it takes advantage of the competitive trait we all have to certain degrees.
In an infographic created by Market Inspector, a B2B digital marketplace, you can find more information connected to the benefits of gamification. Moreover, you will find five different problems that a company can face and how gamification can solve them.
These issues are divided into two different sections: internal-facing issues and external-facing issues.
Gamification as a marketing strategy
The two key ways to use gamification within your external-facing marketing strategy is to improve the rate of engagement at trade shows, and to increase the acquisition of brand advocates.
Trade shows are always a good opportunity to obtain new customers. Yet, your booth has to compete with ones of the other participants. A way to gain people’s attention and win them over is to actualise game methods. According to the focus of your business, a game can be ideated and the player can be rewarded with a coupon that can be redeemed on your website or in your store. In this way, engagement is created both at the trade show and even after the event.
The second issue highlighted in the infographic is the engagement of brand advocates. Samsung Nation perfectly exemplifies how to achieve this through gamification.This platform was created to engage existing customers and to encourage them to post content related to their product on social media. The activity of posting content is rewarded by the platform with badges and trophies.
Gamification as a HR strategy
Gamification can alleviate the issues related to three key HR matters: the hiring process, retention of talents, and implementation of a new system.
The hiring process is a long and time-consuming path that can result in a variety of outcomes. A game can make part of this process more effective. Through gamification, applicants can be presented with a simulation of a business case related to your company that they have to solve. This way, the applicants that have a fitting profile with your company can be identified in a faster way.
The second problem is heavily linked to engagement. According to studies, new generations require to be more engaged and valued in the work environment than previous generations. Gamified tasks that give immediate feedback can be the key difference for your business and retain talents for longer.
The educational benefits of gamification have been already proven in the academic field. For this reason, this strategy can be a winning tool to use when your company is in the process of implementing a new system. Employees will adopt the required skills faster from a gamified course, consequently saving valuable time and working more efficiently.
Gamification is a strategy that can be applied to a diverse range of issues. The infographic below delineates how companies can level up their business by applying this innovative and engaging tool.
Arianna Duse is a communication assistant at Market Inspector. She has recently concluded her studies at Aalborg University in Culture, Communication, and Globalisation, and now she is part of Market Inspector, a B2B marketplace that helps businesses find quality suppliers and make informed decisions.
It’s that time of the year again when you gather your business partners and executives around the table to discuss plans for 2019. Whether you’re starting a new business or running an established organization, one of the major dilemmas your team needs to answer is determining the appropriate budget for marketing. After all, you don’t want to invest heavily in developing a hip, niche product, only to end up with a fantastic product in your hands without the go-to market plan and promotional materials to drive awareness and sales.
In the mid-90s, Steve Jobs took Apple Inc. (which was on the brink of extinction) and turned it into one of the most valuable brands in the world. Jobs understood that a strong brand and marketing strategy is a powerful asset and a vital role in the success of any business, and Apple is one of many successful companies that spends more on marketing and sales than they do on research and development.
However, unlike Apple and other global corporations, many small businesses struggle to balance between spending on marketing versus other operations because they have limited resources and capacity. This is why it is important to take time to evaluate your marketing objectives and prioritize specific marketing projects. Below, we will break down the marketing budget, discuss essential areas to allocate your marketing resources, explore how to manage your marketing partnerships to optimize your marketing plan for 2019.
Before You Start
Refer to your marketing plan, if available. There are a few questions that you need to answer before you begin to set your marketing budget.
There are 6 common approaches to setting a marketing budget:
1. The random allocation approach—Possibly the most common method. Businesses that use this method follow no marketing strategy or plan. Budget is allocated based on impromptu efforts: “We need more sales; let’s have a campaign!”.
2. Keeping up with the Jones approach—Matching what the competitors are spending or reacting to a competitor’s increase in marketing efforts. Keep in mind that it is very difficult to establish what competitors are spending or how efficiently their budgets are being used.
3. The last year’s budget approach—Many organized businesses look at previous budgets and make upward or downward adjustments based on their evaluations.
4. The percentage of turnover approach—Organizations that use this method strive to establish an accepted marketing spend based on percentage of turnover (sum of money that the organization has collected from its normal business practices such as sale of goods and services). The generally accepted spend for a business in a steady state is 5%-8% of turnover, higher for new businesses or if there is a need to open a new market.
Note: If there are major changes in strategy, do not base your budget on previous budgets as those are likely to be irrelevant.
5. The task orientated approach—This method involves looking at the strategy and tallying up the costs of all planned marketing activities to arrive at the marketing budget. This may create a figure that you are not comfortable with, but it is the most strategic method.
6. The hybrid approach—Many businesses will incorporate several of these methods to come up with a realistic and flexible marketing budget that matches strategy with affordability.
Aside from selecting the appropriate budgeting approach, you also need to think about what you’re really investing in. Remember that advertising, trade shows, social media, mobile apps, etc. are only tools to help you gain and retain customers.
Thus, your first consideration should be “how much is a customer worth?”
The most straightforward way to calculate customer lifetime value (CLV) is to subtract the revenue you earn from a customer by the money spent on acquiring and serving that customer, where the total revenue you can expect to get from each customer is your average order value divided by one minus the repeat purchase rate.
Let's say that the value of an average order at your restaurant is $35. Also, anytime someone makes an order there is a 15% chance of the customer m coming back and making a repeat purchase. Finally, let's assume that it costs you $10 to acquire each new customer. (Figures are purely assumptions for demonstration purposes.)
CLV = [$35 / (1 - 0.15)] - $10 = $31.17
Your second consideration should be “what is the average conversion rate from inquiry to customer?”
Conversion rates (CR) are calculated by dividing the number of conversions by the number of total impressions, multiply by 100.
Your site had 2,000 visitors last month and produced 125 sales. (Figures are purely assumptions for demonstration purposes.)
CR = 15/2,000 x 100 = 6.25%
The point is that a marketing budget should not be perceived as an expense towards a single, immediate sale; rather, it is an investment in making and keeping a customer for the long-term.
By this point, you’re probably still wondering what other organizations are spending on marketing, just to gain a point of reference. The answer is: It varies by industry.
Below are some figures gathered in a 2017 CMO survey published by the American Marketing Association.
Percent of revenue by industry:
The SBA recommends that small businesses with revenues less than $5 million should allocate 7-8 percent of their revenues to marketing. This budget should be split between brand development costs (promotion channels such as website, blogs, sales collateral, etc.) and the costs of promoting the business (campaigns, advertising, events, etc.). This percentage assumes your profit margins fall within the range of 10-12 percent.
Where to Spend
Using the SBA recommendation as a reference point, you may want to consider setting a 5% of revenue marketing budget for your regular marketing activities, with added spending on periods that require extra marketing efforts to meet changes in strategy or to upgrade/enhance your marketing foundation.
You’ve probably heard the term “go mobile” tossed around by various blog posts, articles and influencers. You know that the world is becoming increasingly mobile, but what does that really mean? How will this affect your organization? Most importantly, as a nonprofit, what do you have to do to get the most out of your mobile audiences?
Below are five ideas to help you grow your nonprofit organization with mobile apps.
1. Get Your Own Mobile App
As a non-profit, your biggest focus, aside from making a difference in your cause, is going to be fundraising and growing memberships. With the increasing mobile traffic (check out these mobile trend stats on Smart Insights), a mobile app is the perfect channel to connect your audiences with your cause. Create your own customized app to present your messages and for your members to download to their smartphones for easy access. You can either build your app in-house or outsource to a mobile app agency. Your choice will have to depend on your organizations's resources, capacity, size, and what you need it to do. Here are some specific considerations for build-in-house versus outsourcing along with some relevant costs, for your references.
2. Go Mobile with Fundraising/Donations
Did you know: According to Artez Interactive, a fundraising technology and services provider, nonprofits that offer mobile app donation services generate up to 123% more individual donations per campaign than organizations that don’t. Make it easy for your members to donate by implementing easily noticeable “Donation” buttons on each page of your app. Use the app to encourage subscriptions and to track gifts. Employ a rewards program to thank your donors for their gifts and to inspire more people to give. Send your donors small gifts or honor badges based on the levels of donations.
3. Send Updates
People donate because they support your cause and want to make a difference. That’s why sending routine updates on the progress of your projects is essential to retaining and growing your organization’s memberships. In 2007, The Humane Society of the United States campaigned against the commercial hunting of seals in Canada and offered its subscribers live updates during the annual hunting period. According to Grace Markarian, manager of online communications, about 10,000 people signed up for updates in the first year. It’s a powerful way to build an engaging community around your campaign. You can send mobile updates via push notifications.
4. Expand Your Business Network
Link your app with other local businesses to increase member interactions and raise awareness for your cause. Passionate about fair trade? Designate a page on your app that locates local cafes that serve fair-trade coffee and tea, and allow members to share other fair-trade locations. Building a strong coalition with other businesses that share the same vision is key to long-term success.
5. Gamify Your App
Although your causes are serious, the membership experience can be fun. Gaming is an effective way to attract and engage new members for your campaigns, fast. For example, if you’re raising funds for a tornado-struck town, allow donors to “adopt” projects in the town. Then, as the funds start to make an impact, enable users to upload real before and after pictures. This fosters a sense of teamwork and directly connects the donors to the problems to which they are contributing. Allowing donors to see immediate impacts motivates them to remain active members for the long-term.
The key to building and sustaining high-impact nonprofit organizations is making members believe that their contributions are making positive changes to the issue. Employing mobile app effectively connects members to your organization and its projects in a way that is real time and personal. Take advantage of the app’s ability to increase donations, update your members on the status of your campaigns, and allow members to participate in your projects.
Do you need assistance acquiring and/or launching a mobile app for your organization? We're here to help! Please send us a message or leave a comment below.
The rate of change in lifestyles driven by digital innovation has forced consumer-centric industries such as retail to evolve. E-commerce and digital retail have added entirely new retail experiences to which customers have quickly become accustomed. These experiences are defined by 24/7 easy and fast access to sought-after items, personalized offers based on known preferences, and a frictionless buyer journey.
According to research from a 2017 Robin Report, despite the surge in the growth of e-commerce, more than 80% of retail sales still occur in-store and shoppers still appreciate in-store shopping for browsing and the ability to touch and try on items before purchasing. However, brick-and-mortar retailers need to adapt to the impact of e-commerce and digital retail in order to remain a meaningful and positive part of the consumer experience.
To stay relevant to consumers, retailers must combine the convenience and efficiency associated with online shopping with the benefits and experience of in-store shopping. By merging these attributes, brands can meet the needs of today's connected consumers and deliver a new, connected experience. Below are four ways to accomplish this synergy.
1. Empower store associates with mobile technology that enables instant visibility into the entire product assortment and inventory.
This is something that customers have become accustomed to online and the connected consumer expects the same in-store. Mobilizing your sales force with digital technology allows the consumer to get what they want, when they want it. Empowered associates that can provide faster and more valuable services to customers in-store serve to increase the value of that physical retail experience to customers.
2. Offer an immediate option to have items delivered directly to the shoppers' home.
This generates transactions that may be lost due to lack of stock in that location, customers' preference not to carry the items, etc. This especially appeals to the growing "I want it now" consumer and urban areas where local delivery of everything is becoming a normal part of life.
3. Provide timely product recommendations.
Based on what the shopper has in-hand or has asked to look up for in inventory, a digitally connected store can provide intelligent, personalized product recommendations to better engage, inform and support a customer. It also allows store associates to have more information on the product(s) and access to reviews — an online shopping aspect that would enhance the customer experience in-store. These kinds of capabilities allow the store to become an active part of the customer’s shopping experience.
4. Analytics and optimization.
Mobile technology can provide managers with data on overall customer servicing and individual associate performance (if each store associate is equipped with a mobile device). For example, data can be gathered on how many customers an associate services, how long it takes for an associate to accept a service request, as well as how long completing that request takes. This can help managers track and analyze the efficiency of the service and develop ways to maintain or improve associate staffing, timeliness and efficiency. Similar to e-commerce businesses, the ability to gather analytics data on store operations is the first step to creating opportunities to optimize the customer experience, enhance efficiencies, and drive more sales.
Speed and quality are becoming such significant factors in customer experiences; they can make or break consumer loyalty. Today's independent shopper expects a frictionless journey.
As a business owner, who doesn’t love some good--and FREE--publicity? Many businesses strive to gain earned media (or free media) through promotional efforts other than paid media advertising or owned (branding) media. After spending hours on perfecting your press release pieces, researching media outlets, building your contact list and distributing your press release articles, then waiting and hoping that it gets picked up by a journalist, your phone finally rings and someone’s interested in publishing your story! Getting a media interview is both exciting and scary. Along with the opportunity to share your vision also comes the pressure to generate a glowing impression of your business.
If this is your first time interviewing for the press and you’re feeling nervous and anxious, you’re not alone. Even seasoned PR professionals may get the butterflies in front of the reporters. However, remember that you are always in control of your message, and with some preparation, you’ll feel much more at ease with the interview. Below are some pointers to help you ace that interview!
1. Prepare Yourself
When setting up the interview, make sure to obtain the reporter’s deadline, angle, and specific information needed. Or, at the very least, understand what the reporter is trying to get out of the interview. If you receive a call from the reporter, offer to call back rather than giving the interview on-the-spot without any preparation. The best way to do this is by saying, “I’m in a meeting. Please give me your number and I will call you back.”
Also, check that your facts are accurate. This is your opportunity to shine as a subject expert, whether it’s on the product and service that you offer, your company or your industry, so be sure to know what you’re talking about and don’t present assumptions as facts. In the age of internet and social media, people will notice inaccuracies in your statements. Be ready to answer additional questions that are off-topic, such as broad questions relating to your industry that may add value to the piece.
2. Make a plan
What’s your business objective? Always go into an interview knowing what goals you want to achieve and the points you want to make. To make your messages memorable, your objectives should be specific and action-oriented. Don’t default to generic agendas like “raising awareness” and “enhancing understanding”. Center your objectives around what you want the audience to do differently after reading/viewing your segment.
Take control of your messages by establishing two or three key points. Many people simply answer questions, which only help the journalists get what they want. It’s most important to get what you want, fulfill your business objectives, so make sure you always have your key points in mind when answering the questions. The best way to do this is by rounding your answers off with a benefit statement relating to your key points. Never leave your audience wondering about the “so what?”.
Take the initiative to ask the question you want to answer, when appropriate. Segue into the topic you want to discuss if the reporter hasn’t brought it up. You can do this by simply stating, "The more important issue is __." or "What really matters is ___."
3. Practice your delivery
Now that you’ve planned out your message to fit your business agenda, you need to practice its delivery to ensure that its perceptions are aligned with your intentions. Since reporters operate under strict timelines, it is important to be prompt and concise with your responses. Speak clearly and avoid too many filler words like “um” so your responses are communicated without distractions. As a general guideline, responses should begin with a less-than-ten-words answer, followed by a brief and relevant example, then conclude with a simple benefit statement. Remember the ABC rule: Answer the question; Bridge (example); Communicate your message (benefit).
If you don’t know the answer to a question, state so. Rather than saying “no comment”, which leaves the impression that you’re withholding information, it’s better to be forthcoming and explain why you’re unsure about something.
Finally, reporters love a good and memorable quote to make their story come alive, so prepare a couple of quotes that highlight the points you want to make to enhance the credibility and emotional factor of the interview. Incorporate key action words or descriptive metaphors to make the quotes memorable.
4. Be you
You know that you’ve done your homework and, most importantly, you’ve got a great story that you’re proud to share with the world, so be confident and enthusiastic when you speak. Show that you’re passionate about your brand, your organization, and your cause, but remember that you’re always “on-the-record” when talking to a journalist. Let your authentic self shine and have a natural conversation with the reporter. Try to avoid professional jargons so your content is accessible and easy to understand. Enjoy your moment under the spotlight and don’t forget to follow-up with a thank-you note and an offer to be available for any further questions or fact-checks if the journalist wishes.
Now that we’ve shared our tips, it’s time for you to go face the press and nail that interview! Need help with your press release? Check out our Custom PR package or send us a message!
Offline to online. Online to offline. Today’s consumers live very dynamic and multi-platform lives. Their buying behaviors reflect that same dynamic complex. In so many ways, retailers are now rushing to catch up.
Can retailers become just as multi-dimensional? Is there a possibility for them to be everything to everyone?
Fortunately, retail success is not about being everything to everyone. It’s about optimizing the online/offline mix so you can present the most desirable options to customers. Without further ado, here’s a look at how the top retail giants are doing it.
Also known as “Tarjay” since the 1960s, Target is the second largest department store retailer in the United States after Walmart. It was founded on June 24, 1902, by George Dayton and headquartered in Minnesota, U.S. Redbrain.com reports that its in store revenue is $67.93 billion. There are 1892 stores throughout the United States and 345,000 employees as of 2017. It has 43.94% visits from Midwest U.S, 14.60% Northeast U.S, 30.27% South U.S, 31.19% West U.S. It has had ten acquisitions so far.
Target went online in 1999 and in April 2018, it has attracted 125.94 million visitors. Its online revenue is worth $3.953 billion, and it’s available on Android and iOS. It’s average visit time is 3 min 55 sec. U.S, Australia, and Canada are the top 3 countries which bring in traffic. Slickdeals, indeed.com and theknot.com are its top 3 referral sites while Facebook, Reddit, and Pinterest are the top 3 social referral sites.
Walmart was founded on July 2, 1962, by Sam Walton and is headquartered in Bentonville, Arkansas, U.S. With instore revenue of $461.9 billion, it has 11,718 shops around the world. In 2017, it had 2.3 million employees and 1.4 million in the U.S. Walmart has 23.285% visits from the Midwest, 9.47% visits from Northeast, 48.50% visits from the South and 18.75% from the West.
Walmart went online in 2000 and had 386.61 million visitors as of April 2018. Its online revenue is $15.316 billion, and its apps are available on iOS and Android. Average visit time is 4 min 56. Traffic majorly comes from U.S, Canada, and Mexico. Its top 3 referral sites are buzzfeed.com, searchencrypt.com, and gowatchfreemovies.to. Its top 3 social referral sites are Facebook, Youtube, and Reddit.
The Kroger Company or simply Kroger was founded by Bernard Kroger in 1883 and is headquartered in Cincinnati, Ohio, U.S. Its in-store revenue is $100 billion and has 2,778 stores across the U.S. The number of employees in 2017 was 443, 000. It has 36.54 % visits from the Midwest, 0.18% North, 63.11% South and, 0.17% West of the U.S.
Kroger went online in 2000 and had garnered 24.6 million visitors in April 2018. It has an online revenue of $22 million, and its apps are available on iOS and Android. Its average visiting time is 28 sec, and the top 3 countries that visit their website are U.S, Canada, and India. Its top 3 referral sites are Kroger.softcoin.com, indeed.com, and career8.successfactor. It’s top 3 social referral sites are Youtube, Facebook, and Reddit.
It was founded on July 12, 1976 and is headquartered in Issaquah, Washington, U.S. Its in store revenue in 2017 was $112.5 billion, and it has 741 stores spread across the U.S, Canada, Mexico, UK, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Australia, Spain, Iceland, and France. It has 231,000 employees (2017).
1998 was the year Costco went online. Its traffic as at April 2018 was 28.33 million and its online revenue was $4.623 billion. It’s available on iOS and Android. Average visit time is 4 minutes and 23 seconds. Traffic comes mainly from the US, Canada, and the UK. Its top 3 referral sites are dealsea.com, bensbargains.com, and dealmoon.com. Its top 3 referral sites are Facebook, Reddit, and Youtube.
As we can see, while people still spend a lot of time shopping in-stores, there are significant traffic to be captured online. Advantages of going online include:
However, there are also disadvantages, which includes:
Existing businesses should carefully assess the pros and cons of investing in an eCommerce platform (or vice versa). If you're thinking of expanding your brick-and-mortar into the eCommerce space, you should consider your target customers' buying habits, identify specific benefits that would meet their needs, and structure your eCommerce strategy around those objectives. Another option is to integrate online and offline platforms with technologies like iBeacon, which enables digital interactions with customers in-store. By blurring the line between online and offline, you are minimizing frictions in the shopper's journey.
ECommerce platforms are important assets of many major retailers. There is no denying that having an online shop is a relatively low-cost way to expand your business. The lack of geographical boundaries make online stores great channels to broaden market reach, thus enabling rapid growth. Before your dive into the eCommerse world, it is important to formulate a clear strategy that reflects your competitive advantage and responds to essential customer needs. Additionally, there are other options to engage with in-store customers digitally to bridge the gap between online and offline platforms.
The choice of going online or offline is not an easy one to make, but you will be further along if you prioritize your customers when you make your decisions.
With the drastic increase in mobile usage, Google has been striving to deliver a friendlier mobile experience to its users. The shift from “local 7-pack” to “local 3-pack” is an attempt from the search engine giant to cater to the mobile screens.
This new focus on mobile is urging local businesses to make changes to the way they are conducting their online listing to stay on top of the search. Some small changes in SEO technique could prevent a business from taking a hit on their online visibility due to drops in their search rankings.
What is Google’s “Local 3-pack”?
Simply put, Google used to show the company information, or “cards”, for seven local companies in the search results on the first page; now they’ve trimmed that down to three.
As a result, Google changed the information that users see when they conduct searches for a specific type of business or service. For example, the local cards for the top seven results used to be prominently displayed at the top of the search results; now, the name, reviews and the type of business are displayed for the top three business on mobile. If a user wants more information, they must click on one of the businesses, which leads the user to that business’s local card. If searching from a computer, the local card for the selected business will still be shown but a map will also be displayed along with the contact information and location of 20 other similar businesses.
Why it matters?
What Factors Affect Search Results?
The proximity of the user conducting the search is the number one factor in the local three pack rankings. If a user is standing directly outside of a business and searches for what it specializes in, then it’s likely that the business will be the first to show up in the search results. Since users are often at a distant physical location when they do a search on Google where more factors are taken into consideration, we want to explore some of the other factors that affect the search rankings .
Here are 4 tips that you can easily implement to enhance your local ranking on Google:
I. Having up-to-date information about the business on the Google My Business
This means that there should be a good description, as many high-quality photos as possible, the correct telephone number, address and business hours.
Note: For businesses with multiple locations, in the Google My Business listings, the correct phone number for each location should be listed and the name of location should not be included with the name of the business.
Example: A pizza shop located in the town of Carlisle would be called “Two Brother’s Pizza Shop” as opposed to “Two Brother’s Pizza Shop-Carlisle”
Google will check these against local directories and the company’s website to make sure that everything matches. If a discrepancy is found, this could hurt the business’ position in the local rankings. Make sure that this information is correct and up-to-date.
II. Increase your reviews on Google and other directories, such as Yelp.
How to encourage customers to review your business online:
1. Don’t post fake reviews. Google and other websites do have ways to weed out fake reviews and if they find these, your company could drop in the rankings.
2. Actively encourage patrons to review your business. A little bit of tact could be helpful here. If customers feel like you are begging for good reviews, this could hurt your chance of getting a review and paint the business in a bad light in the customer’s eyes.
3. Respond to any negative reviews promptly. It’s important for the business to acknowledge the customer’s complaint and to inquire as to what may be done to fix the problem. If appropriate, the business can work with the reviewer to find a remedy to the situation (and hopefully receive a better review after retaining the relationship).
4. Don’t neglect the positive reviews! Write a quick thank-you note to show your audiences that you appreciate their support.
III. Categorize your company appropriately.
If a company find that it is not doing well in a certain category, one option is to try to specialize the category that your business is under. An example would be changing the category of a grocery store that specializes in selling natural or organic items from “grocery store” to “health food store”.
IV. Have a mobile responsive site.
Google recently started giving preferential treatment to businesses with mobile responsive sites to provide for a better experience when people are browsing the web from their phone.
Getting a top spot in the Google search results takes ongoing efforts on the part of the business. Any changes to business products and services, location, telephone number, or operating hours should be updated immediately to ensure that the most up-to-date information is available. If a company finds that it’s no longer ranking well under a certain category, experiment with different categories and track the results to find out if there is a category that receives a better response. Finally, monitor your online reviews regularly, and quickly respond to any negative reviews.
With some time and effort, businesses can increase their chances in landing one of the top three spots.
What’s your favorite local SEO tip? Please share in the comments below!
Editor’s Note: This is a collaborative piece with Alexandra Vidákovics from Market Inspector.
Due to the growing amount of complex data available in the world today, Artificial Intelligence (AI) has been flooding the world with predictions about its potentials and promises. However, AI is often only associated with large corporations and might seem too impersonal, expensive, or out-of-reach for smaller businesses with limited data and resources.
Even though most successful startups and small businesses are ambitious when it comes to implementing new ideas and technologies, no business should rush into using or building AI softwares without having a clear business objective. In addition, there are other factors to consider in order to prepare for the future with AI. SMBs should focus on building solid data infrastructure first to make sure their data is easily retrievable using compatible formats. As a next step they can start implementing AI-integrated, easy-to-use technology products that are currently available on the market.
This infographic was originally published by Market Inspector and presents 12 AI powered tools that are simple and cost-effective. Apply these affordable tips to your business to improve workflow and grow revenue.
What kind of AI solution does your organization employ? Share in the comments below!