We’re happy to announce an upcoming webinar with our partner eBridge Connections! The webinar will be Wed, Dec 14, 2016 2:00 PM – 2:30 PM EST.
In the time it takes to watch a rerun of Seinfeld, gain a handful of useful tips to help take your eCommerce strategy to the next level in 2017.
As online shopping becomes old hat, your customers’ expectations are going up (and their attention span is going down).
Join eBridge Connections and Redstage Worldwide for a 30-minute webinar.
We will all explore:
– Delighting your customers with fast and accurate orders
– Common mistakes that are hurting your store’s conversion rate.
The strategy team at Redstage has specialized in conversion audit and enhancement for over 8 years. Redstage will present some of the most common faux pas we find across both SMB and Enterprise sites alike.
Unless you have been off the grid for the last year or so, avoiding every type of media in existence (in that case, welcome back to the internet!) you’ve heard the seemingly endless news about the 2016 U.S. presidential race. Now more than ever, there is a constant stream of information including results and statistics, comments from candidates and pundits, and election-related controversy being covered by all channels of the media. While this seems to be spilling over from the realm of politics into that of entertainment, this is the process that has evolved in the age of information. It leads up to people making a choice, whether based on facts, emotion, compromise, prejudice, even misinformation—probably some combination of all of the above for most. There is of course only one President, and it is up to them to convince the voters that they are the one that can best hold the office of POTUS.
In much the same way, shoppers often compare the relative value of a certain product that meets their needs (or wants) at several online shops before deciding what to buy, and where to buy it. Each shop competes for the buyer’s vote, and seldom does one order two or more of the same product from two different stores. While the stakes are admittedly higher in picking the leader of one of the most powerful countries in the world, there are some definite parallels. Shop owners and eCommerce experts can learn a lot from the election process.
The Candidate is the Shop, as Much as the Product
While it may be somewhat satisfying to compare our current crop of candidates to cars, shoes, or brands of detergent on a supermarket shelf, within this examination of eCommerce, the closest analog to the candidate is the storefront. Ultimately your customers will take home or have delivered the product they want, whether they buy it from you or from your competitor. (Getting them to buy a different product is saved for another discussion.) The value proposition, level of trust, presentation, service and yes, the price all contribute to this decision.
The "candidates" for shoppers’ purchase dollars all make themselves known through various channels, from paid search, which is like a campaign ad, to reviews, which can be compared to word of mouth or the press, to social media presence, which is essential in both arenas. In much the same way as a grassroots campaign can be a road to the White House, it is not simply a matter of the most dollars spent on advertising creating the most sales. It requires engagement with your customers.
Stand on Your Platform
While watching the debates, both Republican and Democrat, you will see a wide variety of methods by which candidates make their points known. Take for example the platform of better education for American college students. One candidate might cite his or her record on supporting educational bills, devoting funds to improving or building schools, or reducing tuition costs for students. One might propose free education, while another might advocate a more moderate approach of reducing costs and putting limits on debt. When weighing the pros and cons of the policies of your store, you’ll have to consider what’s right for your business when making promises to your customers.
Whatever your value proposition, lay it out in clear, intelligible language and with captivating images. Curate content that highlights not only your product but your brand and the brands you carry. By giving more detail about what sets your shop apart from the competition, you make the case for their vote in your favor.
Run a Clean Campaign or Sling Some Mud?
Another campaign tactic is to attack the competitor’s failings, for example to address a poor record on education in his or her past career as a senator or governor, or to point out the candidate has no experience in this area. Online shops may not usually attack their competitors with such fervor, but each must offer a better proposition. You don’t have to badmouth anyone—it’s probably a bad idea for a number of reasons, one being that you are calling attention to a competitor. This is essentially a passive-aggressive approach. Consider that your customers have already looked at your competitor’s site, or will after they visit yours. What are their failings? Does your competitor who is selling the same product as you, for the same price, offer free shipping? What do their customers say, either in reviews or testimonials, about their record of service? These are all areas where you can prove your worth, and offer value especially if they have failed to do so.
Earn Their Trust
A candidate who says they’re the best without backing up their claims will not appear trustworthy. When he or she gives a blanket promise to solve a problem, but the numbers don’t add up, voters lose confidence. Likewise, online shoppers look at the whole picture. Price isn’t the only decider, as long as it’s competitive. Shoppers are savvy enough to know when something is too good to be true. Instead, detail your policies and provide a warranty of your service. Make yourself available to answer questions and to provide assistance through a toll-free number, chat, and easy to find contact information. Offer a measure of trustworthiness, leveraging your business with specifics such as longevity, e.g. "Selling quality widgets since 1929", or the selection, "The world’s largest selection of widgets," or the quality, "100% handmade, all-natural widgets".
Don’t Repeat the Same Rhetoric Over and Over and …
We’ve seen candidates make the mistake of repeating the same rhetoric, to almost comic effect, or giving repetitive answers to questions when pressed for a more detailed answer. This lack of preparedness makes them look inexperienced, or ignorant of the important topics. In much the same way, shops often cut and paste content such as product or category descriptions from one page or product to another, and often don’t update content on a regular basis. This may cause shoppers to feel that you aren’t paying attention to your store, or at least aren’t bothering to know much about your product. If your home page has the same banners month after month, returning shoppers will notice. Keep the home page fresh with seasonal, sale, or new product banners. Make sure your best-selling products are up to date. If a product has a description from the manufacturer, what can you add so that a customer can really "learn more" on its page? Add your own editorial and personalize the experience. This can be enhanced by offering additional content such as original or buyers’ images, demo videos, or a questions and answers section. If you have a blog or use a social media channel, update it frequently.
Throw Your Hat into the Ring
While issues like Net Neutrality and out-of-state tax laws directly impact stores, most shop owners operate independently of the political process. Nevertheless, shop owners can learn a lot from how campaigns are run and how voters respond to their strategies and actions, successes and failures. By being aware of who is shopping at your store, what they are looking for and how they shop, you can run an online business that will win in 2016—no matter who gets elected next November.
This post will give you some pointers about how to go about your first Web Design project. If you have limited technical ability, we always recommend working with a professional developer or agency to get your project off the ground.
Creating a layout for your website is a big part of developing a successful website. The website should follow a pattern that feels familiar to visitors. Try putting your twist on the classics.
- Do – Create a website with an intuitive layout/interface that is easy for a customer to find what they want. Research on other websites and try to identify customer behaving patterns when visiting those sites. There is a lot of research about how people browse the web out there, so look around and see what you can do to capitalize on how people navigate the web.
- Don’t – Design or build a website that is so wide that the customer has to scroll left and right to see everything. All of the content should be contained within the viewable width of most web browsers with the most important information “above the fold” or before the page needs to scroll vertically.
Navigation is an important tool for your website. Think of who will be viewing your site and think of how to split up the content in a way that would make sense to them to look for it.
- Do – Use a top navigation or left-side navigation as these are familiar to most visitors so they’ll know where to go to get around on your site. If you’ve got a blog page, you may want to have a right column which includes the blog filters and widgets, while the main column contains the posts you’ve written.
- Don’t – Use a hidden navigation or remove navigation on certain pages. Make sure it is always easy for your customer to get around your site. You’ve probably spent a lot of time and money on your site, so don’t waste that investment by making it hard for your customer to get around.
Color can be a very useful tool to create interest and engage your customers. As in most artistic mediums, color should be used carefully.
- Do – Use colors to enhance your design and draw attention to specific elements on your site (checkout button, add to cart, etc. – more about this later).
- Don’t – Complicate your site with tons of different colors that don’t belong on the same page. You’re not creating abstract art here. Color should enhance the website, not take it over.
Think About Mobile:
As more and more people turn to Mobile and tablet devices to browse the web, it’s important to have a strategy in place so customers can view your site on these devices.
- Do – Implement a responsive theme for your website. Responsive design allows you to create a website which adjusts based on the device viewing the site. This makes it ideal for websites which receive traffic from a wide variety of mobile and tablet devices.
- Don’t – Make mobile an afterthought. For most people, there is a tendency to develop a website and then implement a mobile theme separately. You’re doing your business a disservice if you follow this route. It’ll effect your branding (no matter how much you try, your mobile theme will never quite match your actual site) as well as your search rankings (two separate sets of HTML code for the same website add additional complication to your site that search engines don’t like).
Call to Action
Have a clear call to action prompting your customer to take a specific action that you want.
- Do – Prominently feature your call to action on the page and make it stand out with a bright color or a large graphic.
- Don’t – Pack your page so full of graphics and buttons that the Call to Action is lost in the shuffle.
Ever hear the phrase “Content is King”? Well, it’s true. Content is an important piece of creating a successful website.
- Do – Create good, original content to engage your customers. This applies to both website copy as well as images/graphics.
- Don’t – Plagiarize or use duplicate content. Search engines want original content and know when you’re lying about it. Avoid getting punished in your rankings for doing this.
Add interactive elements to your site. These can be used for specific promotions or messages to your customer. Changing/rotating graphics will keep a customer interested and allow you to draw their focus where you want it.
- Do – Use sliding banners on your homepage. These allow you to send your customer a specific message about your site (promotions you are running, new products, etc.) in a way that is easy for them to consume. These can help grab a customer’s attention and keep them on your site.
- Don’t – Use Flash. There is almost no time when a website needs to use flash these days; period. Search engines don’t like it and some Mobile devices can’t handle it (Adobe also announced that it will no longer support flash for mobile). Look to HTML5 to develop something you would normally use flash for. Also, stay away from music on your site – especially if it automatically plays. Unless you’re promoting your band or you sell music, this is just annoying.
Having a marketing strategy in place as you build your site will help you hit the ground running with SEO and page rank for your website.
- Do – Create content that is relevant for your website and the product or service you are selling. Use important keywords that customers will be using when looking for your site on search engines.
- Don’t – Go overboard with Keywords. It is more important that your content read well than have a ton of keyword density. Even if that does help you get traffic to your site, it will turn off customers and cause them to bounce and go to your competitors.
Work hard to optimize your website. This will ensure that it loads quickly for your customers, which will help keep them engaged and on your site.
- Do – Optimize code, use Style Sheets (CSS) and speed test your site. These things will help keep your site fast and keep your bounce rate low. It will also make updating your site easier (which means cheaper for you!).
- Don’t – Upload huge image files. You don’t want to get so caught up with image quality that you are uploading giant image files that slow down your page loads. Optimize your images for the web by compressing them – most likely, your customers won’t even notice.
If you’re going to be proactive and update/interact regularly, think about implementing a social strategy to engage your customers.
- Do – Add Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, etc. to your site. You can do this in the form of links to your accounts or social sharing widgets. The important thing here is to engage your customers in the way that is most familiar to them.
- Don’t – Add a blog or social feeds that you aren’t going to regularly keep updated. This will make your potential customers question your credibility. Also, if you are just starting out and have a small following on your social accounts, hold off on adding those to your site – these will also reflect poorly on your brand.
If you have any questions or need some help with your new project, give us a call!
We previously posted about what responsive design is and how to get started on a responsive design for your website. If you haven’t seen that post, you can read that here: Responsive Design: What is it and what do you need to know
This post will go into some detail about why responsive design is so important, specifically for Mobile and Tablet Devices. Originally, designers and developers only had one main challenge to deal with – maintaining the same look and feel of their website across multiple desktop computer browsers. As more and more mobile smartphones and tablets are released, things have started to get a little more complicated.
So, why Responsive Design?
Cost of Ownership
You may be asking yourself: “Why not just build a Mobile site and a tablet site?” Well, you could do that, but then you’re stuck with three different sites that you need to update as your site evolves. While there might be a slightly higher cost to implement a responsive theme, you’ll find that the cost of ownership is actually significantly lower when you factor in the cost of updating and maintaining one responsive site versus multiple sites for desktop/mobile/tablet.
User Experience is Important
Content may be king, but user experience is becoming a much larger part of the picture. A good user experience enables visitors to consume content on any website through the device of their preference at any time. As such, responsive web design is necessary to provide the optimal user experience for all site visitors regardless of what kind of device they access your site with.
Available to Anyone, Any Time
These days, people are constantly moving and on the go. Responsive design lets users access and view your site easily regardless of where they are and what kind of device they have. Early morning commuters can browse from their mobile devices and tablets, and then access the site from a desktop computer or laptop when they get to work or back home.
When Google Talks, We Listen
Google has about a 67% market share on search, so when they want something you do it. Google says that responsive design is the recommended configuration for mobile devices. Additionally, google refers to responsive design as the industry best practice (https://developers.google.com/webmasters/smartphone-sites/).
The reason for this is because websites that use responsive design have one URL and the same HTML making it easier for Google to crawl and index the website.
Mobile Browsing Statistics
It’s easy to support implementing a responsive strategy from a cost, design and usability, or marketing standpoint alone, but beyond that the statistics for mobile and tablet website browsing are compelling enough. Statistics show that 91% of all people on Earth have a mobile phone and 56% of people have smartphones. Out of all mobile phone users, 50% say that they use their mobile device as their primary internet source. That’s over 3 Billion (yes, Billion with a ‘B’) people browsing the web on their mobile phones. Moreover, people are turning to the mobile web at much higher rates than they did with desktops in the 90’s and early 2000’s with adoption rates 8 times higher. A recent survey has shown that 80% of consumers plan to conduct mobile commerce during 2014 with over half of the respondents (57%) saying they would not recommend a business with a poorly designed mobile site.
The graphic below shows just how much people are using tablets to consume data on the web and the expectations for mobile payment growth over the next few years.Infographic created by www.supermonitoring.com
As the number of people with web-enabled tablets and mobile devices increases, so does your customer base. If you fail to grasp the importance of this and don’t implement your Responsive strategy right away, you’re putting yourself at a big disadvantage.
Want to talk to someone about implementing a responsive strategy for your site? Call Redstage today!
Magento is a massive system with tons of files which can really slow your site down if not set up properly. There are plenty of ways that you can optimize your site to improve performance (optimized code, upgraded servers optimized for Magento, etc.). These things can always help, but sometimes, it’s nice to have options available to you without needing a CS degree or spending a ton on hosting. This list will give you some times for how to optimize your sites admin settings to improve your websites performance.
1. Disable Logging – Logging is a feature in Magento which can be useful for testing while developing a site. It creates records of how various features in your site are working/communicating with internal and external systems. But once your site is live, logging is less necessary. Moreover, it is a big drain on your servers resources. This feature is enabled in all Magento releases by default, so you’ll need to go into the admin to disable it. To do so, go to:
- Expand the “Disable Modules Output” list and look for “Mage_Log”
- Set this to “Disable” and click the “Save Config” button at the top right of the screen.
2. Enable compilation – Compilation has been a part of Magento for the last few releases (since Magento CE 1.4.x.x). Essentially, this feature reorganizes site files and scopes into a more easily accessible blocks of HTML. According to Magento, this feature can increase performance by 25-50% depending on the page requested. The caveat to using compilation is that you need to recompile the website each time that changes are made (especially if new extensions are installed – we recommend disabling compilation when installing new extensions and re-enabling it when the installation is complete). To enable compilation, go to:
- Clicking the Orange button to “Run Compilation Process” will turn on compilation for the site.
3. Combine JS and CSS files – This is another feature that has been around for a while now (since Magento CE 1.4.x.x). While this feature doesn’t decrease the file sizes for your JS or CSS files, it combines them into one which can yield significant improvement in browser rendering time. To enable this setting, go to:
- For the “Merge Files” options, set the value to “yes”
4. Enable Flat Catalog – Magento uses the EAV database model, so loading a category or product page requires several different database queries from different database tables storing product data. Enabling the Flat Catalog allows these pages to be built using a single DB query from a single DB table. This reduces the performance bottleneck of loading a product/category page significantly. To enable this setting, go to:
- Expand the Frontend section
- Look for the options “Use Flat Catalog Product” and “Use Flat Catalog Category” and set the value to “Yes”
Note: If you can’t set these values to yes (they are grayed out) it likely means you need to enable indexing for these features under System>Index Management.
5. Keep it Simple – This should go without saying, but it bears repeating: just because extensions are out there, DOES NOT mean you need to install all of them. The more files you add to your site, the more server resources you are wasting. Be critical about what features you want to add to your store. If you do want to try out a new feature, consider setting up a development environment so you can test that feature out without affecting your live sites performance.
Like these tips and want to know more? Contact us today to discuss your site and how Redstage can help grow your business!
With the holidays upon us, here are some helpful tips to help make the most out of this holiday season. Work on implementing some of these tips for an easy way to boost sales and profits.
1. Prepare in advance – you could receive 40-60% more traffic
Speak with your hosting company to see if your server will handle a massive increase in traffic and discuss options for adding resources to handle extra traffic. 57% of customers will leave your site if your page takes longer than 4.3 seconds to load. Limited number of warehouse staff for processing orders or customer service reps for dealing with customer communications? Staff up temporarily for the holidays to keep customer service levels high and to keep up with extra orders.
2. Go Mobile
Every year, mobile eCommerce increases by 100-150%, you need to make sure you are not missing out on this market. This could be a custom implementation by your developer or quickly installing a mobile theme that you’ve purchased from the web. There are a number of mobile solutions out there, but our favorite is MobileNow for Magento – it’s quick and inexpensive, and you get to customize the theme – (www.mobilenowapp.com)
3. Check inventory levels
You will be selling 30-40% more this holiday season, some eCommerce sites sell as much as 80% of their yearly volume in the weeks between Black Friday and Christmas. You need to make sure to have a good handle on stock levels and purchasing plans at this time of year. Have your most popular items in stock and factor in time for potential supplier delays which may affect your ability to fulfill orders promptly for your customers. Running out of items will cost you sales now and will likely affect your future sales as well.
4. Check for bottlenecks
Slow page loads will most definitely turn off your visitors and cause them to leave losing you sales! Grease the wheels a bit by performing some site optimizations or upgrading your hosting for the season. There are a number of free services out there, such as webpagetest.org and pingdom.com – which will give you a free analysis on how your site is performing.
5. Get Social
Advertising can be time-consuming and expensive. Let your customers help take some of the weight off your shoulders! Make sure you have implemented some social sharing features (facebook, twitter, pinterest, etc.) so your customers can share their favorite products with their friends.
6. Add more product media
Sometimes, just seeing a photo or two of a product isn’t enough to give the customer a full picture of what you’re selling. This is a suggestion that applies regardless of the season, but implementing videos and 360 views of your products will increase customer confidence and increase conversion. Show off your products by providing demo videos and tell your customers the whole story.
7. Ramp up email marketing
As the holidays come around, all of those newsletters that you’ve signed up for start sending out tons of emails prompting you to go their site and check out their deals, use this special coupon code or check out their new products available now. These companies do this for a reason – IT WORKS! Spend some extra time on putting together exciting marketing emails with a good call to action to push your customers to visit again.
8. Implement a PPC strategy
If you don’t already use PPC, start right away. People are searching for what you sell, they just need to be able to find you. If you can spend some money to increase your traffic and get targeted visitors, this is a no-brainer way to generate additional sales on your site.
9. Offer Free shipping & Expedited shipping discounts
Studies have shown that customers expect free shipping and are more willing to purchase from sites that offer free shipping. You don’t need to offer free shipping on all orders, but offer a free shipping at a minimum order threshold such as $50 or $100. This will encourage customers to add more products to their order to reach that minimum threshold increasing your average dollars per order. Also, there are plenty of procrastinating shoppers out there – so be sure to set up shipping options that get presents to people before Christmas!
10. Add trust logos and security
It’s very cheap to purchase an SSL certificate for your site – we like www.comodo.com. Also, add trust logos to your site once you are SSL secured, have paypal or merchant services partnerships, and add the credit card logos.
11. Incentivize your Customers
Incentivize customers to buy early – Offer special promotions to customers who purchase early. Encourage your customers to buy now rather than wait it out for a better deal by giving them a special perk for doing so: Free upgrade to Expedited shipping, 10% of gift cards purchased before December 15th, or guaranteed holiday delivery for orders placed by a certain date.
For more ways to improve your site for the holidays, feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to see how we can help you boost your holiday sales! Good luck, and Happy holidays!