You've Got Mail

As an ecommerce merchant you decide it is high time you join the ranks of those producing monthly newsletters and you commit to starting one. Yet for some reason the campaign doesn't seem to be going as great as you thought it would. What could the problem be?

Many times when a company decided that it may eventually want to start some sort of email program it starts to collect the email addresses of all its customers. The problem can arise when the program isn't instated right away and the addresses sit around for a year or more without any contact in the interim. Then once the company is set up and ready to start their email marketing program they compile a list and send around the email. But a year without contact doesn't make for a royal welcome even from previous customers. This can definitely hinder the deliverability of the emails.

Additionally, many times people may submit their email address as a spam tester. Meaning if emails are sent to this specific address it's probably spam or something I'm not interested in because if it was legit they would have my regular email address. A good way to bypass this problem would be to initiate contact by sending out an introductory email to the whole list of contacts you have amassed. You can word it as an opt-in email, explaining to the customer how you have acquired their address (you have purchased something from our company within the last year) and offering them the option to view your products and/or sign up to a monthly newsletter. This will definitely generate a better response than a "New spring arrivals" email without any form of introduction as to who you are or how you have acquired their address.

Sometimes merchants may err in these areas which may cause them to land on some sort of black list, either by emailing without an introductory email, or by contacting a purchased list of wary costumers. In both cases he has a lot of frustrated contacts which lands him on a black list. What should he do now?

In some cases, depending on which server, you can speak to the person responsible for your case and rectify the error. In other instances just by reviewing your actions and rectifying the wrong you've done you will automatically be erased from the black list. The way the algorithms are created, if they see you trying to right your wrong and behaving okay , you'll be back in business.

And as any expert on the matter will advise, it is best to stay away from purchased lists though there may be benefits in some situations, as these there are very big chances the emailing a purchased list of addresses may just lend you in spam or worse onto a black list. So try to acquire your own legitimate list of people who may be interested in what you have to offer!

Time-lines

I'd like to present an overview of Facebook's relatively new feature,Timelines. The objective in instating this change to the standard profile was to give viewers the opportunity to create a more long term outlook on life depicting milestones,etc, as opposed to just standard daily doings. The standard posts usually consist of what you ate for breakfast or how you spent your weekend leaving important events that occurred earlier such as new job or a recent move to slip off your page. With the instate of Timeline you will have the opportunity to keep your important events posted and still post on the ordinary facets of your life. Though this format hasn't been fully incorporated especially for businesses, it's important to know what is in store.

There are three components that make up the new Timeline page: 'Cover', 'Stories' and 'Apps.' The cover is the huge banner image that replaces the thumbnail images of your profile. It's quite visually appealing as both the size and design lend an excitement to the page. For a business, this cover poses a huge advantage for all Internet marketing ventures. You can use this cover to announce a new product, advertise a sale or just to relay warm holiday wishes to all your fans! It's a great way to really get a message across!

The stories segment is divided into 'place' and 'life event. Similar to your status updates, stories will appear with the most recent at the top of the list and less recent further down in descending order. The page is now divided in two which means you don't need to scroll far down in order to view an older post. You can also opt to hide a post you prefer not to share, or to star an especially important one to cause it to double in size and garner more interest.

On the right side of the page is a timeline (hence the name) where users can go back month by month and fill in important events. Companies can utilize this feature to elaborate on the growth of the bushiness and give a month by month or year by year progress record. Fans will enjoy reading how their favorite business grew from the small business it started as, to the popular expanded on it now is. Additionally for small businesses this is a great feature to keep your fans updated on all progresses made and to show how your business really is on the road to success. This encourages people to interact with you and to shop your products.

Apps is a feature that allows you to show your friends the things you like to do. You can show a clip of your favorite movie, post a favorite recipe or pictures of you doing what you love. It's a more social feature that really involves your friends in your daily life. For a business this features endless possibilities of great ways to incorporate fans into the things you like to do as a person and as part of your business. It depends on your personality how much of yourself you'd like to open up on your company page.

Though Facebook hasn't yet switched fan pages to Timeline it's a great idea to start incorporating the Timelines format into your profile. It's important to stay current with the times and start figuring out the best way to maximize your business with the new format. An opportunity like this is a fantastic way to jump-start your business and you want to be ready when it comes.

Maximizing the Facebook Potential for Your Online Business

Everyone can vouch for Facebook's popularity. Facebook, is for all practical purposes a staple in the English language and everyone regardless of whether they have an account or not, is aware of its magnetic presence. For a ecommerce retailer there are many opportunities available to maximize your Internet marketing campaign and business potential by properly utilizing the many factors to Facebook.

Firstly ascertain whether your clientele have Facebook accounts. Chances are they do and then you just need to design an exciting page and encourage the 'Friending'. Once your page is active you can encourage your fans to post comments or even pictures of how useful they found your products, or post clips depicting their usage of the products. This is a great way to influence their friends to try out your products.

Another great idea is to post a picture of a product or an idea of something you can use a product for as a way to start a conversation with your friends. Getting people involved is the best marketing venture out there! An involved fan feels an attachment (even if it's very slight) to the website that respects his opinion and is more likely to purchase or convert on that site.

Many sites routinely host promotions or special discounts. A great way to increase traffic to your site(because after all that's the ultimate goal in a sale) is by posting the sale on your page, giving your fans the opportunity to 'like' it and' share with friends.

Another great way to drive traffic to a store is by advertising in-store events on your page. This way you get your fans to actually drive over and check out what you are advertising plus give them the opportunity to view your actual store and take advantage of the multitudes of actual items there. Generating physical traffic is so worthwhile because when people see the actual item half of the decision-making process is over; while shopping online you still need the visitor to decide whether the items looks as fantastic as it sounds!

While the opportunities seem endless, the ideas mentioned above are really the place to start when you are looking for the best way to grow your online business. Though the beginning may feel rough as you charter new territories it doesn't take long to get the hang of it and really maximize the potential of your business.

Impact of Gender Differences On Internet Shopping

Ask most any women what she would do on her day off and her most likely response would be to shop. For a women shopping is an outlet, a form of relaxation, an enjoyable outing, a chance to socialize, and of course a chance to add to her wardrobe. In contrast, men are generally more focused shoppers, shopping only when in need of specific items and in general they don't linger and window-shop. Women account for more than eighty percent of consumer spending amounting to almost five TRILLION dollars a year. This information is quite valuable to any business owner and to any website owners too as many of these spending habits apply to online shopping as well.

In the early days of Internet shopping men were the primary consumers as the market wasn't all that big and didn't feature quite as many products. Once the Internet expanded to incorporate apparel, home goods, food items, etc the female gender started Internet browsing too. But one of the main enjoyments to shopping was the social aspect and that aspect was still missing. What are the joys of picking out holiday clothing if you can't ask your sister her opinion of it? Additionally the lack of camaraderie and fun associated with shopping took a lot of the enjoyment out of it which definitely didn't help the sales.

Enter social media and voila the women are hooked! Together with the improvement in all visual design and product images women can now shop to their hearts content and invite their friends to comment on their purchases. With opinions flying, the fun is back in and sales are dramatically improving!

The way the different genders shop is an amazing fact in itself. Women tend to swiftly go from product page to product page whereas men look more into the product detail and all pictures and angles of the product. The men gene of being more practical and thought out at its best!

Additional research shows a higher percentage of women utilizing social media to find coupons and bargains as opposed to men. Females are also more likely to recommend a product to friends and family via their social networks.

For an ecommerce retailer this information is quite valuable to incorporate into your Internet marketing campaign. A site that is primarily focused on women-friendly items, apparel, toys,etc should offer online chat, customer reviews, video clips and in general offer a more social and an easy browsing experience. Additionally as women always appreciate a good bargain, be sure that you are offering adequate promotions. On the other hand, a website selling lawnmowers and power-washing kits which are usually more manly interests, should offer detailed product descriptions, various pictures of each product, product comparisons and customer reviews.

Social media is applicable to both genders so regardless of who your primary customer base is, provide the 'share with a friend' option, present products on your own Facebook page and keep your business socially active. After all it's definitely more fun to shop with a friend! Utilize this information to create an amazing marketing campaign!

A Conscientious Merchant

Majority of shoppers use some sort of plastic card to pay for their purchases. With regard to online shopping the numbers increase, after all you can't really pay cash via your computer. All ecommerce retailers need to have some sort of credit card processing system in place. There are many companies offering their services and while most are legit, some will do anything to get a couple more dollars out of you and your website.

Granted everyone is human and not all processing errors that occur are with the intention to rip you off, which brings us to our main point, a merchant MUST be on top of his credit card processing. He MUST be sure to read through his monthly processing statements. If you are like most merchants, a paper or email with numbers, dollars, and fees, especially when it's .15% is not something you enjoy poring over. But it is SO important. Numerous times there have been merchants who unfortunately only discovered after much time had elapsed that they had been charged astronomical fees for no reason, and because they had never perused a statement this information was all but hidden from them. It is important to know how much is the normal percentage for credit card companies to be charging per transaction and any larger amount should garner your attention and you should either make a phone call or send an email questioning the mount. Processing companies who see a conscientious merchant will most likely stay far away from trying to pull any tricks on you, after all they see that you are on top of it. if for some reason this system wont work for you hire an experienced accountant to routinely audit your statements for anything funny.

Additionally a merchant should be aware of the terms of his contract. no credit card company is going to say now that you have increased the amount of processing transactions you are eligible for a lower rate. A merchant needs to be familiar with all the terminology and he needs to tell the company, "As per our contract now that i have exceeded x amount of transaction i am eligible for a discounted service rate, etc." because the company isn't coming running to enlighten him with the great news!

A conscientious merchant is a successful merchant. A merchant who makes sure no parts of his business are over-looked is already many steps ahead of the game.

The Color Wheel

Our world is a wondrous world awash with color. Designed by the Designer of all, it is a true masterpiece. The beauty in color is the richness and depth we can perceive and of the symphony of hues that together create a wondrous sight. Looking back at photographs taken before the advent of color film, we find it harder to perceive the world as it was then. The greys and blacks of the old-time photos portray a more serious and solemn world. We know that they had happy times and family fun and celebrations too but the lack of color gives a different feel. When we discuss web design the same concept applies. So much of a website's success is dependant upon the colors chosen for the design. Appropriate colors can really lead a website on a successful track!

The color wheel is divided into a couple of categories: Analogous colors is a basic set of three colors found next to each other on a standard color wheel. Analogous colors can be changed by adjusting the hue or tone.

Monochromatic colors are as their name connotes. Mono- which is one, one hue. Monochromatic colors are one color with a variant in the tone or shade to produce, darker, lighter or bolder variations of the same color.

Complementary colors are colors that are located exactly opposite to each other on the color wheel. An example of complementary colors would be yellow and blue.

There are many other color group is but for now we'll just focus on these simple ones. When designing your website you can choose any of these 'groups' to use for your design. Human intuition will play a big role in your design. If something is following along the rules of your chosen color group but it still doesn't look right, follow your intuition and change it to suit your taste.

A general rule to follow when picking color is to choose five base colors and work off them, adjusting the hues to suit the different features of you site. Say if you decide you want to try monochromatic hues on your site and you choose the color green. Choose five varying shades for green to base your site off and then proceed from there. If you feel that certain parts of your site could use a little sprucing up you an bring in a more yellowish green or something like that. Creating a site with only one color or shade can tend to be a bit boring. Contrast is the key to design an exciting looking site. Be creative when designing your site, the colors should speak to the customers about the site. Calming colors may be more pleasurable to browse through while bolder colors lend an urgent tone, increases heart rate and facilitates quicker conversions.

There are some computer programs available that feature step by step help in the choosing color process. One such program is Adobe Kuler. You can play around with the varying features, shading colors and experimenting with compatible colors to create a really neat design. Kuler is also compatible with Illustrator and Photoshop.

Another great program is Color Scheme Designer which allows you to play around with multiple color schemes. They have an easy to navigate interface which greatly enhances the designing experience. Color is so fun and really impacts the message you want your site to deliver. Sometimes it may be worth your while to ask the advice of an expert web designer to achieve the 'look' you are aiming for. A little advice from an expert can take your unique website a long way! Enjoy the colors and let them speak for themselves!

New Arrivals

With spring in the air most people are shopping or at least browsing around to view the seasons new arrivals. With the winter hues being replaced by more springy colors, people get excited for the onset of the season of rebirth and the thrill of shopping again. Now is a great time to check on your website's shopping experience to truly benefit from the reopening of the wallets.

Firstly, if after all these blogs you still haven't completely integrated social media into your website, don't push it off any longer. It is so effective and costs nothing except a bit of time and you will really see results. Place your social media buttons in a prominent location on your site to facilitate easy access for any visitor.

With the changing of your site colors to reflect the spring atmosphere ensure that your contact information is still clearly visible. If the winter colors were brown and reds and your contact info was written in a crisp white, now when you do a turnaround to pastel colors you need to redesign your contact info too so it still stands out.

Consider adding the option of 'live chat' for your visitors. Countless times I have been delighted to find that trusty icon which has saved me so many hours of indecision hoping for an answer to an email I had sent a company. Or better yet, listening to many minutes of classical hold music as I waited to speak to a representative. Live chats definitely expedite a decision process with a customer representative able to solve your dilemmas almost instantly. It's a great benefit for a website because it gives you the opportunity to catch onto prospective customers before they move on elsewhere to find their answer.

A great way to encourage a sale closing is by posting either a generic 'limited amounts available' where applicable, or even specifying exactly how many of the item you have left. It gives shoppers the push they need to swipe the card because they fear they may lose the chance to acquire it altogether. I've had experiences like that while online shoe shopping. I casually add things to my basket, yet when the 'only 2 left in this size' warning pops up I seriously considered buying it right then, whether i needed it or not!

You might want to consider making a change to a standard business policy. Perhaps a lower shipping fee or none at all,or maybe a longer time for returns, or a better exchange policy. Consider the change to create an excitement, a freshness, to encourage people to take advantage of the fantastic goods you have to offer.

With spring in the air the endless opportunities of renewal await. The shopper's embracing the freshness of new items together with the influx of color and new styles create a feeling of mini-celebration. Celebrate together with them in the season of spring!

The Advantages to Multi-Variate Testing

The advantage to site-wide testing is enormous. In the field of Internet Marketing multivariate testing is quite popular. As opposed to following a gut instinct or well-meaning advice of acquaintances about a necessary change, actual site testing on a specific feature, design, content placement, etc will show you which version will be more effective and successful. Majority of successful ecommerce sites rely on multivariate testing as opposed to complete site makeovers. The key is not to conduct any site change without running a test to facilitate a more successful change.

The difference between the simple A/B testing and multivariate testing is while A/B is comparing version A versus version B and determining which is the better or more popular version of the two, multi-variate testing can be viewed as numerous A/B testing being conducted at the same time. The only limit to the testing is based on the time and response of the visitors.

The platform can be arranged in any way. You can set up your site to change the variable after x amount of visitors and then compare actions of all visitors who viewed version A versus the version Bs and Cs. You can really use the information in any way you want to benefit your business.

Checkout pages can really benefit from this sort of testing. Shopping cart abandonment has long since been a mystery that all owners wish to solve. Now here is the perfect opportunity. You can set up your platform with many different version to the checkout process, registering for checkout as opposed to a speedy checkout procedure, if registering how much information is necessary, if not registering how to obtain information for future emails, etc. You can test multiple versions of your shopping bag design, different font sizes and image placements. The possibilities are endless and you will have the best voters out there, your customers!

The amazing things about testing is that it can really show you the results you need. Webmasters who've implemented tests and made changes based on results have achieved all kinds of positive outcomes from significant bounce rate decreases to a greater rate of newsletter subscribers. You can test any aspect of your site that you want to improve, or just to reaffirm that the way you designed a certain feature is producing the best results for you.

Perfecting Your Email Campaign

The first step in creating a successful email campaign is determining your objective. Is your objective to attract new customers? Is it to promote a specific product or is it an all-site sale? Once you have figured out what your goal in this specific email is, you can subject your email appropriately and increase your chances of attracting relevant visitors.

Additionally you need to design your email in an eye-catching way that says, "Hey this looks interesting!" yet is still easy to read and comprehend. Large fonts are excellent for directing attention while words written small usually get over-looked. The human patience span for reading emails is not that long so you need to design an email that looks exciting and is not difficult to understand.

Call to action buttons are quite popular to encourage actions such as subscribing to emails or newsletters or even for company registration. It's a simple way to get an action completed. Inserting a call to action button in an email itself might be perceived as too pushy and can scare off the readers without even a visit to your site. So leave the call to action buttons for your website itself and just fill your email with exciting content to encourage a visit.

Last but not least is to conduct a run through of a reaction to your email to ensure it is not misleading in anyway. Is the advertised promotion visible again on your landing page? Are your call to action buttons displayed appropriately to encourage interested participation? Is it difficult to find the contact information? Are there clear directions how to navigate to receive the free product you offered? Slip yourself into the shoes of a visitor and ensure that all necessary features are in play before sending out your email. By utilizing these tips you can really multiply the positive responses to your email campaign.

Foreign Market Business Expansion

If you are a merchant looking to take your business to another level you may want consider expanding your business internationally. Many businesses stick to the 'safety' of the United States for marketing their products, which is quite understandable, as it is much easier to run a business dealing with customers for the most part of the same mindset as yours, abiding by the same laws,etc. Though it may sound overwhelming to go international it really can be quite feasible and quite profitable.

Firstly, collect data about how fast the market is growing (in the countries you are interested in expanding to) and how eagerly new retailers are accepted by international shoppers. Additionally find out how to connect with channel partners in the countries whose market you wish to enter. Establish a network devoted exclusively to the foreign market, a number to call when problems arise or when challenges need to be ironed out. You may need to devote a separate department to the task of managing your international market.

The US Department of Commerce is represented in each US embassy around the world. They are there to help the retailers enter the foreign market and help them to forge connections and create relationships with other American companies in the market.

The first thing to do when establishing a presence in a foreign country is to initiate relationships with banks, an accountant and an attorney. As with any business relationship you want to create a strong business connection with the warmth of a human relationship to. Show you are interested in the welfare of the country's people and how your products can be beneficial and accepted by them. Express an interest with respect to each countries laws and affirm how you are most willing to work within their guidelines and how you respect the laws of their land. Create an image for yourself as the law abiding American you are.

As per the shipping and different currencies you can decide how you'd like to proceed with that based on your preferences and each particular country. There are many international shipping companies that can ease the shipping expense. Additionally you can choose whether to stick to the universal American dollar or accept international currencies. Though, the initial years may be a bit tough as you get your feet wet (so to speak) stick it out and you will see how an expanded customer base can really expand your profits.

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