Friday, January 19, 2018

How to Handle Negative Emotions at Work [Infographic]

There's a popular phrase that I've heard quite a bit throughout life: "Don't get mad. Get even."

Sure, that makes sense -- if you're a character on a major soap opera or teen drama. But at the workplace, this kind of sentiment can be harmful.

Anger, however -- now that, surprisingly, can actually benefit you and your colleagues in the workplace. But only when it's handled correctly.

No matter how much you love your job, chances are, you experience some semblance of negative thoughts and emotions. That's part of the challenge, right? And without a challenge, well, what a bore that would be.Download our leadership guide for actionable advice & guidelines from HubSpot's Dharmesh Shah. 

But what's the right way to handle these less-than-positive sentiments?

QuickQuid put together the helpful infographic below to answer just that question. Have a look, and bookmark this post for the next time you find yourself experiencing these thoughts and emotions at work.


Design_How-to-Handle-Negative-Thoughts-and-Emotions-at-Work

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Should SEOs & Content Marketers Play to the Social Networks' "Stay-On-Our-Site" Algorithms? - Whiteboard Friday

Posted by randfish

Increasingly, social networks are tweaking their algorithms to favor content that remains on their site, rather than send users to an outside source. This spells trouble for those trying to drive traffic and visitors to external pages, but what's an SEO or content marketer to do? Do you swim with the current, putting all your efforts toward placating the social network algos, or do you go against it and continue to promote your own content? This edition of Whiteboard Friday goes into detail on the pros and cons of each approach, then gives Rand's recommendations on how to balance your efforts going forward.

Should SEOs and content marketers play to the social networks "stay-on-our-site" algorithms?

Click on the whiteboard image above to open a high-resolution version in a new tab!

Video Transcription

Howdy, Moz fans, and welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. This week we're chatting about whether SEOs and content marketers, for that matter, should play to what the social networks are developing in their visibility and engagement algorithms, or whether we should say, "No. You know what? Forget about what you guys are doing. We're going to try and do things on social networks that benefit us." I'll show you what I'm talking about.

Facebook

If you're using Facebook and you're posting content to it, Facebook generally tends to frown upon and lower the average visibility and ability of content to reach its audience on Facebook if it includes an external link. So, on average, posts that include an external link will fare more poorly in Facebooks' news feed algorithm than on-site content, exclusively content that lives on Facebook.

For example, if you see this video promoted on Facebook.com/Moz or Facebook.com/RandFishkin, it will do more poorly than if Moz and I had promoted a Facebook native video of Whiteboard Friday. But we don't want that. We want people to come visit our site and subscribe to Whiteboard Friday here and not stay on Facebook where we only reach 1 out of every 50 or 100 people who might subscribe to our page.

So it's clearly in our interest to do this, but Facebook wants to keep you on Facebook's website, because then they can do the most advertising and targeting to you and get the most time on site from you. That's their business, right?

Twitter

The same thing is true of Twitter. So it tends to be the case that links off Twitter fare more poorly. Now, I am not 100% sure in Twitter's case whether this is algorithmic or user-driven. I suspect it's a little of both, that Twitter will promote or make most visible to you when you log in to Twitter the posts that have been made or the tweets that have been made that are self-contained. They live entirely on Twitter. They might contain a bunch of different stuff, a poll or images or be a thread. But links off Twitter will be dampened.

Instagram

The same thing is true on Instagram. Well, on Instagram, they're kind of the worst. They don't allow links at all. The only thing you can do is a link in profile. More engaging content on Instagram, as of just a couple weeks ago, more engaging content equals higher placement in the feed. In fact, Instagram has now just come out and said that they will show you content posts from people you're not following but that they think will be engaging to you, which gives influential Instagram accounts that get lots of engagement an additional benefit, but kind of hurts everyone else that you're normally following on the network.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn, LinkedIn's algorithm includes extra visibility in the feed for self-contained post content, which is why you see a lot of these posts of, "Oh, here's all the crazy amounts of work I did and what my experience was like building this or doing that." If it's a self-contained, sort of blog post-style content in LinkedIn that does not link out, it will do much better than posts that contain an external link, which LinkedIn sort of dampens in their visibility algorithm for their feed.

Play to the algos?

So all of these sites have these components of their algorithm that basically reward you if you are willing to play to their algos, meaning you keep all of the content on their sites and platform, their stuff, not yours. You essentially play to what they're trying to achieve, which is more time on site for them, more engagement for them, less people going away to other places. You refuse or you don't link out, so no external linking to other places. You maintain sort of what I call a high signal to noise ratio, so that rather than sharing all the things you might want to share, you only share posts that you can count on having relatively high engagement.

That track record is something that sticks with you on most of these networks. Facebook, for example, if I have posts that do well, many in a row, I will get more visibility for my next one. If my last couple of posts have performed poorly on Facebook, my next one will be dampened. You sort of get a string or get on a roll with these networks. Same thing is true on Twitter, by the way.

$#@! the algos, serve your own site?

Or you say, "Forget you" to the algorithms and serve your own site instead, which means you use the networks to tease content, like, "Here's this exciting, interesting thing. If you want the whole story or you want to watch full video or see all the graphs and charts or whatever it is, you need to come to our website where we host the full content." You link externally so that you're driving traffic back to the properties that you own and control, and you have to be willing to promote some potentially promotional content, in order to earn value from these social networks, even if that means slightly lower engagement or less of that get-on-a-roll reputation.

My recommendation

The recommendation that I have for SEOs and content marketers is I think we need to balance this. But if I had to, I would tilt it in favor of your site. Social networks, I know it doesn't seem this way, but social networks come and go in popularity, and they change the way that they work. So investing very heavily in Facebook six or seven years ago might have made a ton of sense for a business. Today, a lot of those investments have been shown to have very little impact, because instead of reaching 20 or 30 out of 100 of your followers, you're reaching 1 or 2. So you've lost an order of magnitude of reach on there. The same thing has been true generally on Twitter, on LinkedIn, and on Instagram. So I really urge you to tilt slightly to your own site.

Owned channels are your website, your email, where you have the email addresses of the people there. I would rather have an email or a loyal visitor or an RSS subscriber than I would 100 times as many Twitter followers, because the engagement you can get and the value that you can get as a business or as an organization is just much higher.

Just don't ignore how these algorithms work. If you can, I would urge you to sometimes get on those rolls so that you can grow your awareness and reach by playing to these algorithms.

So, essentially, while I'm urging you to tilt slightly this way, I'm also suggesting that occasionally you should use what you know about how these algorithms work in order to grow and accelerate your growth of followers and reach on these networks so that you can then get more benefit of driving those people back to your site. You've got to play both sides, I think, today in order to have success with the social networks' current reach and visibility algorithms.

All right, everyone, look forward to your comments. We'll see you again next week for another edition of Whiteboard Friday. Take care.

Video transcription by Speechpad.com


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Thursday, January 18, 2018

Use Design Thinking to Solve Your Toughest Marketing Challenges

Modern day marketing is a realm overflowing with data and tests aimed at shedding light on your customers' true desires. Yet marketing teams still tend to prioritize gut instincts over insights. When faced with a big challenge or new initiative, we often rely on past experiences and existing knowledge to determine future actions.

In other words, we do what we think we should do.

I've seen groups of intelligent people play a guessing game, shooting from the hip while trying to figure out what will move the dial. They devote their department’s time and resources to a hunch, following it through for months on end -- only to realize they were spinning their wheels the whole time.

While some marketing best practices prove to work time and again, we must also meet the unique needs of specific customers in order to drive significant business value. Professing to intuitively know those specifics is shortsighted; only once we go out and try to understand the challenges of our target audience can we truly accommodate their needs. This is what the designers at your company do every day.

They’re in the business of designing relevant experiences for consumers, and they don't just use their gut to achieve this goal. Instead, they understand the challenge from all angles. They gather a breadth of insights from customers and stakeholders across the company, test their ideas on a small scale, and make sure they're heading down the right path before making a full investment. The design team lives by a philosophy that can help any marketing or product team achieve desired outcomes: design thinking.

Use Design Thinking to Solve Marketing Problems

Design thinking is a methodology to drive innovation. It brings together what’s alluring to future customers with what’s technically feasible and economically viable for a business. This method inspires new thinking and develops breakthrough ideas, all while remaining realistic.

My background is in user experience design and marketing. For most of my career, I've led teams in design thinking to drive business results. Along the way, I've seen some incredible outcomes.

Recently, I noticed that the SEO division of a company was struggling to hit its numbers for two quarters in a row. To improve this, the team needed viewers to engage with the content, find value from pages, and ultimately enter the sales funnel.

The team relied on gut instincts from years of past experience and deployed every SEO best practice in its arsenal. Still, nothing stuck. So I suggested that our design team partner closely with the SEO division to lead a concentrated session to solve the problem.

During our focused five-day session, we collaborated with our SEO cohorts to make several strategic adjustments based on design thinking exercises. Ultimately, this resulted in double-digit growth exceeding our quarterly goal.

Here's how we did it:

Day 1: Rally the Troops

First, we assembled the ideal cross-functional team for the project, which included a UX designer, a UX writer, a product manager, a marketing manager, and an engineer.

With this assorted collection of minds, the team spent the first day focusing on the alignment of ideas and the direction of the project. The team members reviewed the business opportunity, vision, relevant user research, and technical capacities with the executive team. The group then expressed any questions, risks, assumptions, and barriers to the long-term goals. We made a map of how everything fit together and kept all of this information up on the walls of our dedicated space for easy reference over the next four days.

Once all team players were briefed, we began brainstorming solutions. To avoid groupthink and to ensure no voice was left unheard, we distributed pads of sticky notes and asked everyone in the room to write down their initial thoughts on how we might solve our SEO problem. We then put the sticky notes up on the wall and grouped similar ideas into themes.

The two most important themes focused on the concepts of relevance and trust. We agreed that we needed to figure out how to make the site appear immediately credible and relevant to visitors' interests.

This was a quick, collaborative way to align a diverse set of minds on a common goal and set our strategic direction for the project.

Day 2: Sketch It Out

The next morning, we asked everyone to come armed with examples of relevant, trustworthy sites. Some members offered up competitors' sites, while others brought examples that had no similarities to our initiative yet offered innovative solutions. The goal was to evaluate how brands across all industries build trust with and offer relevance to consumers.

While keeping the company's goals and technology constraints in mind, we asked every member of the group to draw a potential experience with all of the key elements. These sketches represented the core functionality and offered innovative approaches toward our goals of building trust and relevance.

By the end of the day, we identified a variety of key elements to integrate into our site. Among other insights, we knew we must spotlight the author's credentials and ratings, include an introductory top-line summary, show high-quality imagery to increase the speed of comprehension, and employ an effortless user experience across devices.

Day 3: Make a Decision

From there, we posted the sketches on the wall and invited the executives back into the room before voting on what sketch had the potential to drive the biggest success. We also crafted a final storyboard of the user journey.

Afterward, we knew exactly what we needed to explore -- and we had a strategic backlog of ideas for our future road map.

Day 4: Prototype and Review

After we agreed on the ideal strategy, our lead designer rapidly created a prototype of the experience. We shared feedback and revised areas to prepare for the next day's testing. Knowing that our self-validated strategies were in a vacuum for the past three days, it was critical to get insight from real users.

Day 5: Test With Users

As soon as the prototype was ready, we posted it on UserTesting. This allowed us to reach our target audience within a few hours and identify whether we solved the core needs of trust and relevance with users. We gained hard data on what people loved about our solution and the remaining barriers in their experiences.

After addressing the issues found in user testing, it was time to launch our solution on a larger scale. The engineering team incorporated these new elements into the page template, and after the data matured, we saw a motivating lift in engagement.

There was double-digit growth in the number of users who clicked into the conversion path thanks to our new strategy -- a result the team was extremely proud to present at the next company-wide meeting. In just five days, design thinking helped a division pull itself out of the red, which I found extremely exciting and rewarding.

Looking back, the key to this success was everyone’s part in our strategic journey. Our team certainly led the effort, yet the implemented ideas originated from our distinct disciplines, so each party played an important role.

When will you use design thinking to drive your next innovation?

I strongly encourage you to try this at your company. If you approach a problem backed with broad perspectives and a deep understanding of what your unique audience needs in specific situations, then you will delight customers and achieve the greatest possible results

Free Local SEO Tools That Belong in Your Kit

Posted by MiriamEllis

What a lot can change in just a few years! When I wrote the original version of this post in January 2014, the local SEO industry didn’t have quite the wealth of paid tools that now exists, and many of the freebies on my previous list have been sunsetted. Definitely time for a complete refresh of the most useful free tools, widgets, and resources I know of to make marketing local businesses easier and better.

While all of the tools below are free, note that some will require you to sign up for access. Others are limited, no-cost, or trial versions that let you get a good sense of what they provide, enabling you to consider whether it might be worth it to buy into paid access. One thing you may notice: my new list of local SEO tools offers increased support for organic SEO tasks, reflective of our industry’s growing understanding of how closely linked organic and local SEO have become.

Now, let’s open this toolkit and get 2018 off to a great start!


For Research

US Census Bureau Tool Set

Looking to better understand a target community for marketing purposes? You’ll find 20+ useful resources from the US Census Bureau, including population statistics, economic data, mapping and geocoding widgets, income and language information, and much more.

Client Onboarding Questionnaire & Phone Script

Onboarding a new client? Reduce repetitious follow-ups by asking all of the right questions the first time around with this thorough questionnaire and easy-to-follow phone call script from Moz. Includes helpful tips for why you are asking each question. As local SEO veterans will tell you, a missed question can lead to unhappy (and costly) surprises down the marketing road. Be sure you have the total picture of an incoming client in clear view before you begin strategizing.

Location Information Spreadsheet

Vital when marketing multi-location businesses, this free Moz spreadsheet will ensure that you’ve got all the info at your fingertips about each locale of a company.

*Pro tip: When working with large enterprises, be certain that the data you’re inputting in this spreadsheet has been approved by all relevant departments. It’s really no fun to find out six months into a marketing campaign that there’s internal disagreement about company NAP or other features.

Local Competitive Audit Spreadsheet

Now we’re really getting down to brass tacks. When you need to look for answers to the perennial client question, “Why is that guy outranking me?”, this free Moz spreadsheet will help you document key competitive data. The end result of filling out the sheet will be two columns of stats you can compare and contrast in your quest to discover competitors’ ranking strengths and weaknesses. Need more guidance? Read my blog post in which I put this audit spreadsheet into action for two San Francisco Bay Area Chinese restaurants.

Manual GeoLocation Chrome Extension

Watch Darren Shaw demo using this tool to show how a local pack changes when a user virtually crosses a street and you’ll quickly understand how useful this Chrome extension will be in approximating the impacts of user-to-business proximity. Works well on desktop devices.

Our industry still hasn’t fully recovered from Google removing the Local Search filter from its engine in 2015, and I still live in hope that they will bring it back one day, but in the meantime, this extension gives us a good sense of how searcher location affects search results. In fact, it may even be a superior solution.

The MozBar SEO Toolbar

Local businesses in competitive markets must master traditional SEO, and the free MozBar provides a wonderful introduction to the metrics you need to look at in analyzing the organic strengths and weaknesses of clients and competitors. On-page elements, link metrics, markup, HTTP status, optimization opportunities — get the data you need at a glance with the MozBar.

Google Advanced Search Operators

Not a tool, per se, but the best tutorial I have ever seen on using Google advanced search operators to deepen your research. Dr. Pete breaks this down into 67 steps that will enable you to use these search refinements for content and title research, checking for plagiarism, technical SEO audits, and competitive intelligence. Be totally wizardly and impress your clients and teammates, simply by knowing how to format searches in smart ways.

Google Search Console

Apologies if it already seems like a no-brainer to you that you should be signed up for Google’s console that gives you analytics, alerts you to serious errors, and so much more, but local SEO is just now crossing the threshold of understanding how deeply connected it is to organic search. When playing in Google’s backyard, GSC is a must-have for businesses of every type.

BrightLocal’s Search Results Checker

This popular tool does an excellent job of replicating local search results at a city or zip code level. In some cases, it’s best to search by city (for example, when there are multiple towns covered by a single zip code), but other times, it’s better search by zip code (as in the case of a large city with multiple zip codes). The tool doesn’t have the capability to recreate user-level results, so always remember that the proximity of a given user to a business may create quite different results than what you’ll see searching at a city or zip code level. I consider this a great tool to suss out the lay of the land in a community, identifying top competitors.

Offline Conversion Tracker Form

Give this handy Whitespark form to anyone who answers your phone so that they can document the answer to the important question, “How did you hear about us?” Submitted information is saved to Whitespark’s database and tracked in Google Analytics for your future reference and analysis. For local businesses, knowledge of offline factors can be priceless. This form provides a simple point of entry into amassing real-world data.


For Content

Answer the Public

One of the best-loved keyword research tools in the digital marketing world, Answer the Public lets you enter a keyword phrase and generate a large number of questions/topics related to your search. One of the most awesome facets of this tool is that it has a .CSV download feature — perfect for instantly generating large lists of keywords that you can input into something like Moz Keyword Explorer to begin the sorting process that turns up the most powerful keywords for your content dev and on-page optimization.

Buzzsumo

Another great content inspiration tool, Buzzsumo shows you lets you enter a keyword, topic or domain name, and then shows you which pieces are getting the most social shares. For example, a search for wholefoodsmarket.com shows that a highly shared piece of content at the time of my search is about an asparagus and broccoli soup. You can also sort by content type (articles, videos, infographics, etc.). Use of Buzzsumo can help you generate topics that might be popular if covered on your website.

OSHA Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) System Search

Another interesting resource for brainstorming a wide pool of potential keywords for content dev consideration, OSHA’s SIC search returns big, comprehensive lists. Just look up your industry’s SIC code, and then enter it along with a keyword/category to get your list.

USPS Look Up a ZIP Code Widget

Working with service area businesses (SABs)? Note the second tab in the menu of this widget: Cities by zip code. When you know the zip code of a business you’re marketing you can enter it into this simple tool to get a list of every city in that zip. Now, let’s not take a wrong step here: don’t publish large blocks of zips or city names on any website, but do use this widget to be sure you know of all the communities for which an SAB might strategize content, link building, brand building, real-world relationship building, social media marketing, and PPC.


Schema/JSON-LD Generators

Rather than list a single tool here, I’m going to take the advice of my friend, schema expert David Deering, who has taught me that no one tool is perfect. In David’s opinion, there isn’t currently a schema/JSON-LD generator that does it all, which is why he continues to build this type of markup manually. That being said, if you’re new to Schema, these generators will get you started:


For Citations

Moz Check Listing

I can say without bias that I know of no free tool that does a better job of giving you a lightning-fast overview of the health of a local business’ listings. On the phone with a new prospect? Just plug in the name and zip and see how complete and accurate the company’s citations are on the sources that matter most, including the major local business data aggregators (Acxiom, Factual, Infogroup, Localeze) plus key platforms like Google My Business, Facebook, Yelp, YP, and more.

Literally at a glance, you can tell if inconsistencies and duplicate listings are holding a business back. It can also be used for competitive analysis, defining whether a clean or messy citation set is impacting competitors. The value of the free Check Listing tool becomes most fully realized by signing up for the paid Moz Local product, which automates aggregator-level listing management even at an enterprise level with hundreds or thousands of listings, and offers options for review monitoring, ranking analysis, and more.

Whitespark’s Local Citation Finder (free version)

The free version of this cool tool from our friends at Whitespark will give you a sense of how the paid version can help you discover additional places, beyond the basics, where you might want to get listed. It also analyzes your competitors’ citations.


For Reviews

The Hoth’s Online Business Review Checker Tool

You’ll have to sign up, but this free tool gives you an overview report of a local business’ reviews on a variety of platforms. This is a smart thing to do for every incoming client, to gauge reputation strengths and weaknesses. The state of a company’s reviews indicates whether it has an offline problem that needs to be corrected at a real-world structural level, or if its core challenge is a lack of strategy for simply earning a competitive number of positive reviews.

Free Review Monitoring

Need to know when a new review comes in on a major or industry-specific review site? Signing up for this free tool will send you email alerts so that you can respond quickly. Watch the little video and pay attention to its statement that the majority of unhappy customers will consider visiting a business again if it quickly resolves a complaint. Good to know!

Review Handout Generator

Another freebie from Whitespark in partnership with Phil Rozek, this very simple resource lets you enter some business info and generate a printable handout your public-facing staff can give to customers. Active review management has become a must in even moderately competitive geo-industries. How nice to have a physical asset to offer your customers to get more of those reviews rolling in!

Google Review Link Generator

Google’s local product has gone through so many iterations that finding a link to point consumers to when requesting a GMB review has been foolishly difficult at times. Whitespark helps out again, at least for brick-and-mortar businesses, with this easy widget that lets you enter your business info and generate a shareable link. Unfortunately, SABs or home-based businesses with hidden addresses can’t use this tool, but for other business models, this widget works really well.


For social

Notify

Whenever your business gets mentioned on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Linkedin, Reddit, and a variety of other platforms, Notify uses Slack or HipChat to send you an alert. By being aware of important conversations taking place about your brand, and participating in them, your business can achieve an excellent status of responsiveness. Social media has become part of the customer service environment, so a tool like this comes in very handy.

Followerwonk

A free trial is available for this app which acts as serious analytics for Twitter. If Twitter is a favorite platform in your industry, definitely give this resource a spin. Understand the characteristics of your followers, find and connect with influencers, and use data to improve your outreach.

Character Count Online

I use this ultra-basic tool all of the time for three specific tasks. Some social platforms either have character limits and don’t always have counters, or (like Google Posts) truncate your social messaging so that only a limited snippet appear at the highest interface. Just plug in your text and see the character count.

And, of course, you’ll want a character counter to be sure your on-page title tags and meta descriptions read right in the SERPs.

My third use for this counter relates to content marketing. Most publications have character count parameters for the pieces they will accept. Here on the Moz Blog, we’re not into length limits, because we believe thorough coverage is the right coverage of important topics. But, when I’m invited to blog elsewhere, I have to rein myself in and be sure I haven’t galloped past that 800-character limit. If you’ve found that to be a problem, too, a character counter can keep you on-track as you write. Whoa, horsie!


So, what did I miss?

If you’re saying to yourself right now, “I can’t believe this totally awesome free local SEO tool I use every week isn’t included,” please share it with our community in the comments. One thing I know I’d love to find a free solution for would be a tool that does review sentiment analysis. Paid solutions exist for this, but I’ve yet to encounter a freebie.

My criteria for a great tool is that it makes work better, stronger, faster… or is that the intro to The Six Million Dollar Man? Well, Steve Austin had some amazing capabilities (and a cool 70s jogging suit, to boot!), and I’m hoping you’ll feel kitted up for success, too, with this list of free tools in the year ahead.


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Wednesday, January 17, 2018

32 Ways Your Ecommerce Company Can Boost Engagement and Sales

The ecommerce customer is a moving target. I mean that in more than one way:

  • Online behaviors and buying preferences evolve constantly.
  • Customers jump around relentlessly from apps, to messaging platforms, to social sites and websites.
  • They’re mobile.

How do you woo these “moving targets” into engaging with your ecommerce promotions, opting into your offers, and buying your products?
Your marketing and media needs to “move” them.
You experiment with a variety of ecommerce promotion ideas available to you now. We’ll run through a heap of them and hopefully offer a few you might want to try to build your audience and boost sales.

1. Offer coupons and discounts

Coupons have always been a staple in retail promotions so we need not question their power.
However, in the digital shopping realm, coupons play a role beyond simply providing a purchase incentive. They act as bait to hook new email subscribers. Of course, you’ll follow-up with subscribers, so consider expanding your portfolio of coupons to create specific subscriber segments that will receive relevant offers.
You can offer coupons explicitly for product purchases, but may also find coupons marry well with offers to receive newsletters and useful downloadable content.


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Your options for delivering coupons are many. GlassesUSA gets right to it by presenting a huge discount for first time buyers on their home page via a popup that “greys-out” the page until you respond.

2. Offer eBooks and other lead magnets


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The average online conversion rate for ecommerce shoppers hovers between 2% and 3%. At least 97% bail on you. However, a failed attempt to capture a sale doesn’t mean you can’t capture email addresses.
In a Kissmetrics post that explains how SaaS marketing differs from other types of marketing, Neil Patel writes, “If you are a B2B SaaS marketer, think of yourself in different terms from mere ‘marketer.’ Think of yourself as an industry savant — the one who possesses and dispenses information.”
While blog content helps attract traffic, one of your content marketing goals should be to convert the traffic into subscribers. Offer eBooks and other lead magnets such as checklists, mini-courses, templates, tools, and more to motivate visitors to give you their email addresses.
Think value. Think relevance. What can you offer to help a prospective customer solve a problem? Think of your lead magnet offer as something so valuable it’s worth paying for—then deliver it free.

3. Offer a loyalty program

You not only want customers to buy your products; you want them to keep buying.
Ecommerce brands accomplish this by making their best customers feel valued. Do so by giving them valuable rewards through a customer loyalty program.
Create a loyalty program that offers customers an incentive to buy more often or spend more on their purchases. Loyalty programs can take any number of forms, but generally feature a system whereby points are accumulated that build increased buying power.
You might also consider loyalty programs that reward buyers for doing things beyond buying such as writing reviews, sharing your pages and posts, and submitting photos.


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The first feature on the Pure Hockey homepage is information about their “Pure Rewards” program that aims to deliver bonus buying power to loyal customers.

4. Host giveaways

People love free stuff. Create buzz about your brand with giveaways.
Promoting giveaways on your website and via social media puts your brand in front of new eyes and grows your email list.

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A simple giveaway by Ginger Heat Muscle Rub encourages participants to “Like” the brand on Facebook and enter to win free product samples.


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A holiday giveaway hosted by Mixed Hues offers prizes for 12 days and delivers a discount just for entering to make everyone a winner.

The examples of giveaways shown above were created with templates from ShortStack, a platform that makes it easy to create an immense variety of ecommerce promotions.

5. Conduct contests

Instagram and Facebook contests—or contests you promote on any social network or channel—are one of the best ways for ecommerce brands to generate awareness, build community, drive traffic and boost sales.
Best practices for conducting social media contests include:

  • Create a unique hashtag for the promotion.
  • Create an image or video to announce your contest.
  • Create example posts to inspire users.
  • Use a moderation tool.
  • Secure legal rights to re-use user-generated content.
  • Display the curated posts in a gallery on your website and social channels.
  • Adhere to the rules of the network and publish the policies of the contest.

6. Create a challenge

I stumbled into a fun tactic while researching this article and found it to be a powerful idea: create a challenge. Those that join it share a common cause. They’ll welcome your ideas, are likely to share your content, and may consider purchasing your products.

At the very least, they’ll experience a memorable, personalized experience with your brand.


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NaturallyCurly invited customers and fans to its “No sugar challenge.” Joining means opting in for email updates. What a great way to create a bond between a brand and its fans.

7. Cross-sell

A post on the SEMRush blog wisely recommends focusing on cross-selling your products to increase sales. They offer as an example, a customer that has purchased a mobile phone being offered a screen guard or case.
It shouldn’t be difficult for you to think of practical cross-selling opportunities to offer your buyers that will add value to their purchase and dollars to your cash register.

8. Up-sell

Upselling works too. In fact, Econsultancy says it works 20X better than cross-selling.
See, buyers often don’t know a superior product is available. Chances are some of the products you offer are closely related to premium versions. Set-up your store to upsell and keep in mind:

  • The suggested product must fit the original needs of the customer.
  • Price sensitivity is bound to be an issue, so be clear about the benefits of upgrading.

9. Showcase top sellers

Ask a food server what their favorite dish is and they’re likely to respond with, “Our most popular pasta dish is the…” or… “If you’re really hungry, everyone really loves the…” — or something like that.

The suggested item might be something they’re known for, can prepare most easily, or profit the most from. Many restaurants spare you from having to ask by highlighting their most popular menu items on the menu.
Ecommerce companies can do the same.
It’s human nature to go with the crowd. Also, buyers value direction. Show them your best sellers, or best sellers in specific categories. You’ll reduce overwhelm, and accelerate sales.


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Imagine knowing little or nothing about games, but you’re shopping for a gift. You’d welcome suggestions to buy the most popular games. Nutty Squirrel Games gets it and helps with this smart form of suggestive selling.

10. Create interactive assistants

Buyers value when online stores provide insights and advice to help make more informed decisions. Enter the vast array of interactive content tools such as assessments, configurators, chatbots and recommendation engines.
Tools such as these enable you to walk the customer through a series of questions and deliver recommendations based on the answers—like a helpful salesperson would do.
While your online tool helps prospects and customers determine their priorities and preferences, it also helps you gather useful data, which might drive sales in the moment, or later, when the data is used to personalize your subsequent communications.


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The “Flavour Generator” from Hello Fresh is a great example of a simple assessment tool. It’s designed to inspire cooking ideas, which clearly aligns with the brand’s recipe box products.


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Help yourself to the quiz offered on the Warby Parker homepage and after answering five quick questions the site suggests frames that fulfill your preferences and offers to send them to you to try-on.

11. Create video demonstrations

Images obviously help sell products, but are merely par for the course. You can boost sales of new, featured, or popular items by creating short promotional or review videos.

Test the idea with just a few items and measure the impact to help establish if the investment in creating video pays. If you discover videos generate sales you can expand the program with more videos and experiment with different approaches to video production and different types of videos.


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A number of products offered on WatchShop present shoppers with the option to watch short product videos.

12. Highlight risk reducers

Your homepage likely features “risk reducers,” that is, notices that help overcome objections and give buyers greater peace of mind, such as:

  • Free shipping
  • Fast delivery
  • Money back guarantees
  • Free returns
  • Transaction security

However, many visitors will arrive directly on product pages and not see your homepage. Make certain your most important risk reduction messages are also displayed in at least one prominent place on product pages. Test the messaging, design and page layout to determine what works best.


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A product page on YourSuper reminds would-be buyers of its shopper-friendly policies on a sticky header bar and in another prominent element beside the call to action.

13. Present product plugs (testimonials, reviews, etc.)

I can’t decide whether to say it’s a good idea to include user reviews to boost sales or it’s a bad idea to exclude them. Both are true and it’s probably fair to say, thanks to Amazon, buyers expect to find them.
Standard ecommerce product review systems are useful, however, those that include photos and/or videos that embellish the customer stories are even more convincing.


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14. Provide wishlists

Ecommerce experts at Big Commerce claim that offering shoppers a wish list is an effective way to reduce shopping cart abandonment and fulfill sales from customers who showed intent but didn’t end up purchasing. They add that wishlists:

  • Give customers who aren’t ready to order an easy reminder system when they return
  • Enable merchants to measure product interest
  • Are helpful to shoppers that are buying gifts
  • Encourage users to sign up for an account

Would-be buyers will often forget about their wishlists, so send friendly reminder emails to inspire customers to complete their purchase.

15. Present trust badges

Customers often dropout of a purchase process when they have concerns about the security of their payment. Address this challenge by including one or more “trust badges” on your checkout page to convince customers the process is safe and secure.


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16. Present user-generated content

“Hype up engagement,” is a piece of ecommerce promotion advice from a Kissmetrics post. The post featured this insight from of Dan Wang of Shopify:
“User-generated photos are a great way to generate social proof. Prospective customers see that your products are regularly being purchased by people just like them, and feel more comfortable doing something that others are doing.”


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User-generated content (UGC) can be collected and used in a variety of ways. The GentleFawn store gathers photos via an Instagram hashtag and features them a gallery on their homepage.

17. Use satisfaction surveys

Savvy ecommerce brands cater to new and existing customers by gathering feedback with satisfaction surveys. A survey done well builds goodwill. The data you collect enables you to improve the user experience. Both equate to smart marketing.

Ask questions that will help you learn:

  • How customers found your website
  • How satisfied they were with the shopping experience
  • How your store compares to others they’ve visited
  • How can you serve their needs in the future


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Though satisfaction surveys are most commonly handled with email, Spartoo is an ecommerce company that takes a proactive approach by offering a survey on its homepage. A discount helps motivate shoppers to comply.

18. Present exit intent popups

Add an exit intent pop-up to your website to capture visitors on the verge of leaving. Give them a reason to join your email list by offering a free guide, discount, or some incentive that aligns with your brand.

19. Send cart abandonment email

Marketing automation platforms enable you to send customized emails to shoppers that have abandoned shopping carts.
If a customer logged in, you can send customized emails with images of the items they shopped for. Tactics you might try with abandonment email include:

  • Put personalized information to use.
  • Send emails promptly.
  • Try more than once.
  • Include social proof such as customer reviews, ratings, etc.
  • Offer viable options such as related items.
  • Send discounts before giving up.


Shortly after I left an item in my cart without completing the purchase, Michael’s sent me an email telling me I have great taste, which showed me the item again and suggested other products I might like.

20. Send automated emails

Prospects and customers are giving you their email addresses. Send them something in return: email. Email marketing allows you to send targeted—and well-timed messages—at various stages of the buying lifecycle.

In a great post detailing ecommerce email strategies, Nadav Dakner shares six potential automated email flows you might want to put in place in addition to the abandoned cart reminders we’ve already covered:

  • Welcome series
  • Purchase follow-up
  • Re-engagement prompts
  • Upsell offers
  • Notices about education content
  • Product and promotion updates

21. Support a charity

Ecommerce brands can take a cue from the shoe company Toms, where “Every purchase has a purpose.” Toms has built a reputation for improving lives and giving back. Their customers understand, appreciate and support the mission. Everyone wins.
Charity programs that come to my mind from ecommerce leaders include Pura Vida Bracelets and Warby Parker eyeglasses.


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22. Promote around special occasions

While Christmas, birthdays and anniversaries are obvious special occasions, you can promote special occasions year-round.
For instance, in February you can create sales, special offers, promotions, contests, giveaways and even downloadable content around Ground Hog Day, Valentine’s Day, Presidents’ Day and the Super Bowl (to name just a few).


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Here’s an example of simple voting poll an ecommerce company might do to attach their promotion to the Super Bowl hoopla.

23. Make customers your sales force

Influencer marketing takes many forms beyond celebrity endorsements and paying popular YouTubers to mention your products.

A clever strategy for ecommerce brands is to create a user-driven affiliate network of niche influencers. Your program might extend beyond simple financial incentives or product offers to include:

  • Additional promotional opportunities on your website and social media properties
  • Coaching
  • Access to experts
  • Social media advice and assistance
  • Loyalty program development


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1st Phorm does a stellar job of promoting its “Legionnaires” program. Copy beneath the image and video above reads, “We interact with our Legionnaires on a constant basis to make sure they are successful in not only promoting 1st Phorm and making money, but also growing their personal brands.”

24. Send Instagrammers to your store

Instagram is for people who love images. It also appears to be for people who love to shop.

  • Instagram reported 60% of its users say they learn about products and services on the platform and 30% have purchased something they discovered.
  • A study by Shopify reported the average order value from Instagram marketing is $65.00 (second only to Polyvore).
  • Engagement on Instagram is 10 times higher than Facebook.

The key to Instagram marketing is engaging users and moving them to your website. How’s it done?

  • Run contests.
  • Show pictures of customers using your products (a.k.a. user-generated content).
  • Carefully select a compelling page on your website to feature in your Instagram bio. This is your one and only link opportunity on the network.


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Stitch Fix uses the link in their Instagram bio to direct traffic to a style gallery. A “Get Started” call to action atop the page introduces how the shopping service works and a gallery of photos and videos link to various products and promotions.

25. Send shoppers to your Instagram

Next up for your list of ecommerce promotion idea is the opposite of what you just read. That is, in addition to sending Instagrammers to your store, you might also send shoppers to your brand’s Instagram account.
Consider your Instagram account a destination for building your audience and earning sales from prospects that have never seen your Instagram feed or profile. They could discover the credible proof they’re looking for with a branded hashtag or on an Instagram account you’ve populated with authentic user-generated content.


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ModCloth features its #MarriedinModCloth hashtag on the homepage inviting visitors to Instagram where they find thousands of images created by customers.

26. Publish product landing pages

Ecommerce companies sometimes make the mistake of directing traffic from search, social and digital ads to their home page or shopping cart. Typically, neither is an ideal approach for increasing conversion.
Try directing first-time visitors to information-rich product landing pages. Create pages that step visitors through everything they need to make an informed purchase decision.
Showcase some combination of a benefit-focused headline, value proposition, social proof, risk reducers and relevant images and video.

27. Explore mobile advertising

“Mobile shopping clicks overtook desktop clicks sometime in the summer of 2015 and continue to rise,” claims ROIRevolution. The retail-focused agency makes the case retailers can no longer afford to adopt a laissez faire mentality regarding mobile advertising. In fact, many shopping sites now recognize the importance of a mobile-first strategy.
Mobile advertising combines geolocation and mobile-ready ads to connect shoppers to your store while they’re commuting, sitting in a waiting room, or even shopping.
Recommendations to effectively use mobile advertising for ecommerce include:

  • Optimize the website for mobile users with responsive design.
  • Leverage retargeting display ads.
  • Consider video.
  • Use the Facebook and Instagram ad platform.
  • Appeal to the “in-the-moment” needs of the mobile user with “snackable” content.
  • Utilize Google Analytics to better understand the behavior of your audience by channel.

28. Expand shipping options

Who wants to wait weeks for their product to arrive? Worse yet, who wants to wonder when it will show up? These are clearly rhetorical questions.
Satisfy more customers with predictability, specificity, transparency, details and most of all, choices. Consider:

  • On-demand delivery options
  • Delivery tracking
  • Detailed information regarding shipping expenses
  • Free and fast delivery incentives

29. Create auto-ship options

A good portion of ecommerce companies can borrow a page from various subscription businesses to create incentives that encourage auto-shipping, and automatic renewals.


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Chewy offers instant savings for customers setting up an autoship option for the first time and sweetens the deal with bonus savings on select brands.

30.Optimize for buyers that are shopping for ideas

SEO and paid search need to be weapons in the ecommerce brand’s marketing arsenal. However, your keyword selection needn’t be limited to targeting buyers shopping for specific products.
An increasing percentage of would-be buyers on mobile devices are looking for ideas. New research from the Think with Google site offers insights about selecting keywords to optimize for shoppers that are idea hunting.


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Highlights from Google’s data research indicate:
  • Searches for “ideas” on mobile are rising fast.
  • Mobile searches for “shopping lists” are spiking.
  • “Outfits for” is a hot partial search term.
  • Those shopping for a category frequently conduct searches containing the word “brand,” “top,” and “best.”

31. Offer live chat

Online sellers that don’t offer a live chat option lose business to competitors who do. Live chat is a way to assist customers and is becoming the most desired method of contact—especially for millennials.
Econsultancy reports live chat has the highest satisfaction levels for any customer service channel, with 73%, compared with 61% for email and 44% for phone.


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The post cited above features interesting data that reveals why live chat is preferred. Immediacy wins.

32. Bring ace media buyers to the table

In this, my last tip, I was going to get into ecommerce Instagram advertising, but then I thought about all the various types, including the emerging “shoppable ads.” It’s not easy to keep up with Instagram advertising.
The same goes for Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, Google and any other digital property that sells ads.
I concluded if I were to give you practical advice about this vitally important but terribly complex topic (without cranking out another 3,000 words), it would be this:

  • Learn the basics about the Google AdWords platform and your social media options, then…
  • Experiment, then…
  • Bring a pro to the table.

Advertising can be expensive, but that’s only the case when it doesn’t work. An ace media buyer will show you where to place your chips and perpetually improve your ROI from the digital advertising programs that drive ecommerce sales.


About the Author:
Barry Feldman operates Feldman Creative providing clients content marketing strategy, copywriting and creative direction. Barry’s authored three book including the best-selling personal branding guide, The Road to Recognition. Visit Feldman Creative and his blog, The Point.