Have you ever been to a website or online store where you wanted to purchase something, but you were second guessing whether the site was legit or not? This is the absolute worth thing an online business or brand can be associated with — not having the full trust and confidence from their audience. Not only will this destroy your conversions and sales, it’s also just bad for business and the overall brand and reputation of your business.
The good news is that there are plenty of ways to improve a would-be customer’s experience on your site and allow them to complete their purchase with ease. Some of the most common ways to accomplish this are, to have a fast loading website, display trust badges through your site, have a short and sweet checkout process and also using customer reviews and testimonials to further gain trust from your audience.
Today we are going to walk through the many steps of what it takes to build a trustworthy e-commerce site, while also gaining business from your site audience. To make this a much easier to follow and visual process, we are going to use the “Road Map for a Trustworthy E-Commerce Website” infographic (shown below) from KissMetrics. Along the way, I’ll also be sharing plenty of additional ideas and reference links as well to help with this process.
Let’s get started!
Road Map for a Trustworthy E-Commerce Website
Every time a visitor comes to your website or online store, it’s a new opportunity for a sale or transaction to take place. Without the proper introduction or content in place, the relationship won’t be able to move forward. Some of the most obvious things that need to take place during this initial visit are a professional looking site design, SSL certificates in place, trusted payment methods, and also having FAQs and contact information readily available on your site. This is all key, as more than half of the world’s shopping and purchase made are now done online.
If you came across this article in the search results because you are looking for guidance on building an ecommerce site, good news, as there are plenty of options to choose from. Website and ecommerce solutions like Shopify make the process of going live with an online store quite easy. While more customized solutions like WordPress also offer the tools, themes, and integrations to get started as well. No matter what option you choose, just be sure to implement each of the trustworthy tips and methods we are about to discuss below.
Now for all of this to actually happen, you must have a checklist of actions to take, and the follow-through to act on them. This resource guide and infographic below will help walk you through all of these steps, while also keeping your focus on point at all times.
1 – When They First Hear About You
As mentioned earlier, the most important time to gain the trust of your audience is when they fist hit your site. Most people will be hesitant to buy online in the first place, so you want to make the process as easy and trusting for them as possible. Here are a few quick tips for how to best accomplish this.
- Mention the total number of orders shipped from your site. Include customer service hours on all pages.
- List the best phone numbers for contact and support. Mention how many customers your site has served.
- Use a solid and professional domain name. Include “Trusted since XXXX” in your logo or design.
- If you’re a verified seller of a brand, include this fact.
- If you take Paypal as a payment, be sure to mention it throughout your site.
- If you’ve been quoted or featured on a credible publication, show it to your audience.
- If you’re on Stella Service, mention your ranking and a link to your profile page.
Not all of these methods will apply to every business, brand or e-commerce, however, adding the ones that do can greatly improve trust, engagement and overall conversions for your online store.
1 – When They Enter and Browse Your Website
Most site visitors aren’t going to make a purchase they first time they visit your site. However, they will remember the experience and price of purchase for when they are ready to complete the transaction. Here are a few useful tips to help gain the trust of your audience, by making their time on your site the most enjoyable as possible.
- IMAGERY – Use only the highest of quality images on your e-commerce site.
- REVIEWS – Highlight reviews from other people that have shopped on your site.
- TESTIMONIALS – If you are going to use customer testimonials, be sure to provide a real photo with it. Also get creative by adding Twitter and social media updates from shopping on their experience while at your site.
- CONTACT – Make your contact info clear and easy to find. No one wants to purchase from a site that hides their contact or support information.
- POLICIES – If your site has a specific return policy, make sure it’s visible to all audiences.
- THOUGHT LEADER – Offer additional value and customer experience by adding a blog to your site.
- ABOUT / STAFF – Seeing the real people behind an online store or brand is important. Also be sure to include real photos and the story behind each individual.
- CREDIBILITY – If you’re a member of the BBB post your grade on your website for all to see. This is a huge trust factor contributor.
- LIVE CHAT – Build a relationship and gain trust with your audience by adding a live chat feature to your site.
The actual site experience your site visitors will have, is one of the most important factors in gaining trust and also resulting in further sales. Not all of these design options might fit within your e-commerce budget, but be sure to fit in as many as you can.
1 – When They Put the Items in the Cart
It’s not enough to get your audience to add items to the shopping cart, they also need to complete and pay for their purchase as well. Shopping cart abandonment is something many of the largest e-tailers in the world continually struggle with. Be sure to implement these tips to help improve the checkout process.
- Get an SSL certificate to make sure you have the trusted HTTPS at the begging of your site URL
- List the contact and support phone numbers at the top of the page
- Mention the number of items currently in the visitors shopping cart
- Show where your shipping facility is, as some people like to know where products are from
- Show a delivery date and not just the shipping date
- Security badges like McAfee Secure or Verisign and big trust indicators
Of all the components on your e-commerce site, the checkout page and process is definitely the most important. Be sure to implement each of these methods into your site and watch conversion soar across the board.
If you already have an existing online store or ecommerce business, we sure to check out these holiday sales tips and also where e-commerce and online shopping is headed in the coming years. Each of these resources will provide you with the necessary tools and resources for the coming months and years ahead.
11 Ways to Build an Email List That Actually Yields ROI
Every online business and brand needs to have a mailing list. It’s simply the best way to get subscribers to leave their personal information before they leave your site. Some of the largest websites and blogs on the world today do nearly all of their business through their mailing list.
When used properly, email campaigns can be one of the most effective marketing tactics for any brand. Campaign Monitor reports that email marketing can yield $38 for every dollar spent — but if you’re not targeting the right people, you’ll never see that kind of return on investment.
Building an opt-in email list can be tricky, especially as a website owner, but with the right tactics, you can translate subscribers into profits. Here’s what 11 YEC members had to say about creating an email list with ROI in mind.
1. Consistently Offer Valuable Content, Before and After Signup
You want access to the inboxes of potential leads, and you have to give them something in exchange. You can persuade people to give you that privilege with relevant and valuable content, compelling branding and trust. Bring leads to your site with social media posts, SEO, blog articles and videos; then offer even more valuable content in exchange for that all-important email address.
2. Use Social Media to Target Your Audience
Social media platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn provide brands with a way to create marketing campaigns that can target a specific demographic audience that will most likely buy their products and/or services. Simply create an online form that prompts the user to enter their email address in exchange for a 30-minute consultation or free download.
3. Invest in Content Marketing That Speaks to Customer Needs
What has worked well for us is investing in content marketing and taking blogging seriously. Use sites like Quora and Answer the Public to find out the questions your target customer is asking. Then, come up with catchy titles and hire freelancers to write great articles that answer their questions. Optimize each blog post with opt-in forms and you’ll start forming a highly targeted email list.
4. Build a List From Your Existing Subscribers
Buying a bulk email list is definitely not the way to go. If you’re looking at optimum return on investment, it is important that you focus on building a targeted email list. Your best bet is to turn to people who subscribe to newsletters through your website. Website owners should also consider providing users with relevant top-quality content in the form of e-books, white papers and blogs.
5. Hire an Email Marketer
People assume that once you have a list, it will simply sell itself. You have to make tactful and succinct drip sequences and carefully layer in your offers. If you’re just providing news, it’s important to consistently reiterate good content.
6. Find Your Company’s Voice
Use your e-blasts to tell a story, and make sure there’s a consistent voice. Emails written by a company look like spam. Emails written by a singular voice with personality have the best chance of survival in this new frontier where social media has highlighted our fascination with the individual. If your Instagram and Facebook pages have a narrative, your e-blasts should too.
7. Include a Short Survey With Email Signup
Ask three to four key questions with your signup form to shape a better email list with a more targeted audience. This will help you sift out the people who may not be as ready to buy from you or who are not interested at all.
8. Offer Mutually Beneficial Incentives
Incentivization, when handled correctly, is a great way to build an effective (read: profitable) email list. Whether it’s a discount on your most popular product or service, or a link to a valuable resource or white paper, the key is to offer an incentive that is beneficial enough to encourage the sale while ensuring you are still meeting your margins.
9. Use Engaging Pop Ups
Wheelio is an interactive exit-intent pop up that allows users to spin the wheel for a chance to win a prize after entering their email address. A user who is willing to engage with your pop up is clearly interested in receiving a special offer or promotion to use toward their next purchase. Thus, these users are more likely to engage with future emails and convert.
10. Take Advantage of Pinterest
For us, Pinterest is the most effective way to build an email list. We use it when we publish a new blog post with a content upgrade, offer a freebie or launch a new product/service. We will link to a landing page where people can opt in to receive some type of download. We will then use BoardBooster for automation. Since we’ve started using Pinterest, our email list has grown by 35,000.
– Kristin Marquet, Creative Development Agency, LLC
11. Focus on Segmented Journeys and User Intent
Simply slapping a form on your site will not work. List-growth magic happens when you identify top traffic sources to your site, then tailor the message and creative in your forms to that visitor journey. For example, if a Facebook ad for a red sweater drove them to your site, don’t show that visitor a generic form. Rather, present a specific form or offer including that same message and creative.
Turn Visitors into Customers through Email Marketing
Now that you’ve learned some of the best ways to convert site visitors and social audiences into high-value email subscribers, it’s time to start implementing these methods into your own site or business. Also, remember, it’s all a numbers game. Just 30 new email subscribers per day is more than 10,000 over the course of a year. Think small, to think big.
Preparing for Cyber Monday: 15 Ways You Can Improve Sales and Reach
The last couple months of the year are crucial for many consumer-focused companies. People are in the mood to buy during the holiday season, and there is a lot of competition for their attention.
In order to build up engagement, you need to create content that helps ease consumers into your sales funnel. Deals should be offered to people in the know — through subscriber lists and social media groups — but you should avoid encouraging people to wait to buy. Small micro sales can help, as they get people to check in regularly.
To help you narrow down the many options, we asked 15 entrepreneurs from YEC for their best advice on how to promote your fast-approaching Cyber Monday sale to increase its reach and success.
1. Expand Your Top Funnel Ad Buys
There’s still time to juice the opportunities you have in order to capture more volume during the holiday sales. Widen your top funnel with ad campaigns that target reach or brand recognition goals instead of actual conversions. The more people you can pixel for retargeting later this year, the better. This should be followed up with a strong retargeting campaign as your sales go live.
2. Collect Email Addresses
Start collecting email addresses by A/B testing different email capture forms on your website. Segment your email lists to send the most relevant offers to your customers based on how they interacted with your website and which sign-up form they submitted their information through.
3. Use Pay-Per-Click Ads, Then Retarget
Launching an early pay-per-click ad group is a great way to get people aware of your promotions in the week leading up to Black Friday and Cyber Monday. All throughout Thanksgiving weekend, launch a retargeting campaign for people who have clicked on your ads during the early stages of their research. This will keep your brand top of mind once a purchasing decision is finally made.
4. Have Chatbots Provide Offers
Chatbots share personalized messages with each person who contacts the company with a question. Before they leave, and after having their questions answered, the chatbot has time to search through purchase history and match the person up with one of many promotions you have developed, and then share that deal with a special link.
5. Create Helpful Content
Creating content may take effort, but if it answers your target customer’s questions and moves them down the buying funnel, there are few things more effective. Other methods may involve more push, but content helps you pull your prospects and customers in to learn more about your offerings.
6. Don’t Get Too Specific
Promote the sale, but don’t offer specifics. That way you will minimize sales decreases in the time leading up to Cyber Monday. People wait to stockpile their usual items on sales, but if they don’t know they will be on sale, it will maximize non-deal sales for better overall margin. Ambiguous terms like “Biggest sale ever!” can be used to pique interest without killing normal sales.
7. Provide Early-Bird Specials
Promote your Cyber Monday deals through a social media campaign and offer a promo code they can use on Cyber Monday for larger discounts. This not only allows you to display your Cyber Monday deals, but also encourages customers to visit your site and take advantage of the promo code the day the deals become live. Start off with larger discounts and slowly decrease them as you approach Cyber Monday.
8. Create Story Videos
Create videos that start highlighting what you have planned for the holidays. Make little stories around each product highlight to get people feeling warm and fuzzy about the upcoming holiday season. Include helpful hints for your audience as they start their shopping. Early shopping promotions can be included to start ramping up sales early on.
9. Tap Into Amazon Deals
If you’re selling on Amazon — and if you’re not, you should be — take advantage of features such as Lightning Deals. While you have to provide a substantial discount, the volume you could generate during Cyber Monday or for the holidays is incredible, not to mention the additional exposure that comes along with it. Entire product lines can be popularized in this fashion.
10. Offer Free Shipping
How many times have you wanted to buy a product but decided not to because of its shipping cost? Too many, I’ll bet. People love it when things are free. Free shipping is the cherry on top of your Cyber Monday discount sale sundae. Whether you use social media, your blog or ads to market your products, make sure that your customers know you can deliver your products free of charge.
11. Hold Mini Sales Until the Big Day
Drum up excitement for the big sale with tiny daily sales that get unlocked every day until Cyber Monday. One great way to make this interesting is by bringing back every item that was on sale throughout the last few weeks so that anyone who missed the sale they wanted has one more chance!
12. Use Instagram’s Poll
Instagram Stories are becoming a popular platform for marketers — and with good reason! Instagram recently launched a tool called Poll that allows users to ask their audience interactive questions. This is a great way to let your audience pick what they want and get them excited. Using data to choose the perfect promotion will increase engagement and give you a great holiday season.
– Suneera Madhani, Fattmerchant
13. Get Strong Returns Through Facebook Canvas
Our ROI from Facebook Canvas ads has been over 50 times in some recent cases. Those ads are so visual and interactive that they really engage the users and drive them to act. For a Cyber Monday deal, use a Facebook Canvas ad to drive to a landing page with a wait list for the deal. Give a small incentive to the first set number of consumers on the list.
14. Advertise Subscriber-Only Discounts
In the weeks before Cyber Monday, advertise subscriber-only discounts via social media, your blog and email. Only shoppers subscribed to your mailing list get the discounts. Encourage customers to share the discounts with their network. It’s a great way to generate advanced interest and build an email list of shoppers you can target with specific promotions.
15. Partner With Niche Influencers
Influencers are a great way expand your reach and connect with consumers, but many people make the mistake of trying to find influencers with a wide reach rather than a deep one. Focus on influencers in a relevant niche and prioritize high-quality content. Build them into your Cyber Monday plan and share your promotions and sales with them, which they’ll share with their audience.
How to Make the Most Out of Cyber Monday and the Holidays
Now that you’ve read through some of the most actionable tips for ways to not only make more sales and generate Revenue during Cyber Monday but to also increase brand exposure for your service and products. it’s time for you to actually Implement some of these methods into your business.
In short, it doesn’t matter what you are selling on Cyber Monday, as long as you were selling something and giving your audience something to take advantage of. Everyone is going to have their credit card in hand and ready to buy like crazy.
This is simply the best opportunity for you to make additional money and generate sales like never before.
If you enjoyed this expert roundup, also be sure to check out our previous ones on the best ways to create buzz around your brand and twelve working methods to increase homepage traffic.
11 Ways to Reduce Churn Rates by Keeping Customer Card Data Up to Date
Losing a customer can be devastating for any business. Losing them because of a credit card decline that comes from outdated information is just plain frustrating. Keeping credit card information current is a necessity for all business owners, yet it is a task that gets little attention.
With the expansion of e-commerce, customers can make online purchases quicker and easier than ever before. When credit card declines occur, customers need to be able to update and input information quickly. You should stay on top of their expired information and update it regularly to ensure all purchases go through seamlessly when your customer wants to buy.
Below, 11 entrepreneurs from YEC share their strategies for minimizing credit card declines and increasing online revenue.
1. Send Email Reminders
Have multiple payment options available. For customers who pay using their cards, send out friendly reminder emails in case the card is about to expire, ideally one month before the expiry date. If the account shows outdated information, remind them well in advance. Give them a grace period, if really necessary, to update their account information. Customers will feel appreciated.
2. Provide Other Payment Options
By offering other payment methods, such as digital wallets, e-cash, peer-to-peer payments, ACH and e-checks, there are ways to get around such churn rates. Plus the more payment methods offered, the more likely you are to retain and attract new customers, increasing your online revenue.
3. Encourage Digital Wallets
Encourage customers to use a digital wallet feature so they can update all their information across all companies they buy from in one action. This will keep them from returning and shopping with outdated account information.
4. Use a Payment Method Updater
Visa and MasterCard offer a service that automatically updates card information. Due to security measures, new cards are issued more frequently than ever before, making it inconvenient for your customers to constantly update card information. A payment method updater (PMU) can stop declined payments from happening, but this could still creep out your customer so get their permission first.
5. Use Recurly to Do the Work for You
Recurly has saved us thousands of dollars (and tons of following up). It’s a simple app that integrates with all e-commerce systems. When you sign up with Recurly, all of your repeat customers will be notified automatically when their cards are expiring. It’s a simple platform for customers, and anyone who intends to do business with you will find it easy to keep doing so.
6. Give Them a Call
From my personal experience, the most effective way for a company to reach out to me and to get me to update or confirm my billing information is for them to give me a call. Email reminders are great too, but a phone call is even more effective.
7. Use Stripe
Stripe and some other payment processors have largely solved the problem of outdated cards. Stripe works with MasterCard, Visa and other credit card providers to ensure that customer cards still work after the card has been replaced. The system has limitations, but it takes care of many outdated card issues.
8. Fix the Problem Before It Happens
Fixing the problem before it happens is the only true way to avoid those declined cards. Reaching out to your customers before their cards expire will help you retain repeat customers for much longer than if you allow cards to be declined. Use payment technology that alerts merchants when a card stored in the system is about to expire, making it easy to update records and get paid.
9. Set Automated Expiration Date Detection Functionality
Have a basic script set up that automatically detects what cards are about to expire and sends the customer an email reminder to update their credit card information via a direct link. If you do not have this functionality, there are third-party solutions that provide similar functionalities. We use this with our e-commerce clients who have recurring products or orders.
10. Ask for a Backup Credit Card
Ask your customers for a backup credit card to keep on file in the event that charges cannot be put through on the primary card. Savvy companies like Google and Amazon asked me to input a backup credit card when I signed up for services such as Google AdWords and Amazon Prime. All recurring revenue businesses can and should be equally astute.
11. Offer Financing to Customers
A simple solution for avoiding failed credit card payments is to utilize services like Affirm or PayPal Credit. These services take on the credit risk and you receive the total order price upfront. The advantages to these services are that you decrease your accounts receivable and save time by not having to dedicate an employee to track down customers to update their credit card information.
Reduce Churn Rate by Implementing these Expert Tips
No one likes the thought of churn rates and the real numbers behind companies and how much money they are losing with subscribers or recurring subscription drops. However, this is part of the business industry and it’s something that needs to be addressed. If you are currently ignoring drop off rate within your company, be sure to implement some of the expert tips above while also checking out their recommended tools and solutions.
If you enjoyed this expert round up, I highly recommend you take a look at this roundup with 83 online marketing experts and their best advice on “How Do I Start a Successful Blog?“. If you don’t already have a website or blog of your own, follow my blogging guide to getting started with one today.
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