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5 Tips for Managing an Ecommerce Website

Whether you’re experimenting with online sales or have already run businesses in the past, when you are first creating an ecommerce website you’ll want to keep a few tips in mind. These can help you use today’s technology to find and retain a steady client base.

1. Use Simple Web Design
With such a high degree of competition out there, even for the most obscure products, you’re going to have to put some time and effort into your website to make it stand out from the crowd. You don’t have to have any web design experience to do this if you use an ecommerce software program with templates. These can usually be customized in terms of logo, font, and colour themes. Aside from this assistance, you’ll want to use your imagination and think of a catchy name for your business as well as an easy-to-navigate site.

2. Organize your Product Catalogue Using Categories
A big part of making your online store easily navigable for customers lies in how you organize your products. It’s easier for customers when you arrange your products into logical categories or collections, so that they can find what they’re looking for more easily. Adding a “sale” category can help customers feel that they’ve stumbled onto a bargain, so think about running promotions and sale items as a separate collection altogether. Be sure to include high quality pictures of the products along with descriptions.

3. Make Payment Easy for Customers
Once your customers have located the items that they wish to purchase, some ecommerce business owners feel that they have already sealed the deal. In actuality, this is where it can all go wrong if you make it hard for a customer to pay you. You’ll want a smooth and easy checkout system that offers multiple methods of payment. One example of this would be a Shopify ecommerce website, which provides a shopping cart and integrated payment system. You’ll want to look for a platform of this nature to help encourage the final sale. If you’re selling products internationally, it’s also helpful to include a currency converter. Be sure to provide a telephone number or email address for customer support for added security.

4. Create a Blog
There are numerous ways to market your online store, including using social media and email newsletters, among others. Yet one of the most effective ways to get in touch with a wide net of potential customers is through creating your own blog. This is also a good way to showcase your brand and personality, thus creating a valuable first impression.

5. Use Analytics to Track Customers
Although many online business owners use analytics tools to track what visitors end up purchasing on their website, you can make use of these tracking tools for a host of other purposes. For example, with analytics you can find out how your customers found you, which URL’s are referring customers to your online store, and what search terms they’re using. With this information, you can more tightly hone your marketing efforts to reach a wider audience.

This post is a guest post from Shopify.

Nielsen study: People trust in peoples' word of mouth

Now, I have used this Nielsen graphic in seminars and conferences for two years and always wondered when the next study is going to be published.

Finally today, I came across the latest Nielsen Global Trust in Advertising report. And again, the results are similar to what they where back in 2009. People still don’t trust advertising. Well, let’s say… at least not as much as they trust recommendations from people they know like friends, family and peers. However, it is still somehow scary to bear in mind that people trust consumer opinions expressed online… very often without verifying who say what in which scenario and which stage of life.

According to the Nielsen findings, which surveyed over 28,000 Internet people in 56 countries, 92% of the respondents said they trust recommendations from friends and family above all other forms of advertising. This equals an increase of 18% compared to 2007. Consumer opinions posted online come in at the second place of most trusted source. Of the consumers surveyed globally, 70% indicated they trust messages from online platforms. This makes up an increase by 15% in the last four years.

Publishing houses and platforms still get a lot of trust from their users. Editorial content (58%) finished in the thread place, just before branded websites (58%), and opt-in emails (50%). The traditional platforms for advertising like print, television, and radio are significantly lower from a trust point of view. The drop in value since 2009 goes down by 24%.

Spot On!
The results show the importance of content marketing carrying the truth about your company, brand or products. Openness, authenticity and transparency are still rated very high amongst your customers. They want to “know what they get”. They want to engage with you but also being told the truth if there is something bad or uncertain to say about brands and their development. And above all they want you to respond to their input. They want you to give them some attention, some feedback, some credit for the time they spend. Then you will earn their trust, and then they will share your voice.

How a campaign brings multiscreen couples together

Many families, and especially couples, experience new formats of evening togetherness. Couples are not leaning back any longer and simply watching TV, or having relaxed chats next to it. With most couples, both partners are using their smartphones, tablets or notebooks to chat with friends, to update their status for their fans and keep in touch with their digital fellows while the TV sceen is fighting for viewing figures.

Did you realize that TV gets the former status of the radio in our digital world? People listen to TV but are actively engaged in something else, in another screen conversation, in a multiscreen reality. Mobile becomes the new prime time. Radio always was the number two from a user attention perspective. So is singlescreen attention today, it is out, digital leads. Multichannel is the big future, and the looser is… the personal relationship. We all know how relaxing it is to lean back, and how TV reduces our “most emotional relationship activities” to a minimum, multiscreen usage could become a limitation catalyst.

But there is hope…

CP+B has thought about this development, maybe not… Still, they tell us in a new campaign how couples most commonly book trips. They have created a 2 for 1 campaign for Scandinavian Airlines. The campaign called “Couple Up to Buckle Up” was launched in banners, emails, facebook app, or print ads, and used two unique QR codes to bring people closer together again, i.e. to book a flight to Paris together.

In the campaign approach, couples need to scan the QR code assigned to them. Then, they would sync their half of a video based offer and reveal the discount code split across both screens. Bit of a challenge to scan/play at the same time but still a nice idea on a critical relationship topic.

And maybe this will help to… Well, you decide!

Couple Up to Buckle Up from Tobias Carlson on Vimeo.

LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook? Study finds leading social network from journalists…

What’s your guess? What is the leading social network for journalists? And what does this mean to business decision makers, managers and PR professionals?

The answer by far is LinkedIn with 92% – with a remarkable increase of 7% compared to 2009. However, this does not mean that it is their main source of information. At least, this is what the latest study tells us which is called 2011 Arketi Web Watch Survey: Inside BtoB Media Usage of Social Media.

For me it was a bit of an eye-opener as I thought journalists might prefer to use Twitter to monitor sources for trending topics and breaking news. Probably, the statement has some value still. For Mike Neumeier, Pricipal, Arketi Group was not surprised…

“It comes as no surprise more BtoB journalists are participating in social media sites, especially LinkedIn. (…) LinkedIn provides an online outlet for them to connect with industry sources, find story leads and build their professional networks.”

The second largest still is not Twitter. It is Facebook. 85% of journalists are on Facebook (increase by 30% to 2009). However, Twitter comes in nearly at the same result (84%) and with the highest growth of 60% to 2009. And nearly half of the responding journalists (49%) say they blog or read blogs regularly.

“When compared to the 2009 Arketi Web Watch Survey, this year’s results show significantly more journalists are using social media tools (…) This means companies have more online channels through which they can reach media targets. This is both a blessing and curse for today’s PR professionals.” Dr. Kaye Sweetser, associate professor of PR, University of Georgia’s Grady College

Findings where journalists have their news sources…
– 80% via public relations contacts
– 77% rely on news releases
– 74% turn to newswires (i.e. BusinessWire or PRNewswire)
– 71% get from email pitches
– 56% from blogs
– 44% from micro-blogs (such as Twitter), and
– 39% from social networking sites (such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Myspace).

More than nine out of ten journalists responding (96 percent) say they prefer to receive news releases via email from companies they know, and 95 percent of business journalists say they prefer to receive news releases via email from companies they don’t know but are in industries they cover.

Journalists get crucial information regarding breaking news from the following sources…
– 85% Industry experts
– 81% Company website
– 80% Industry website
– 80% Other interested parties
– 57% Industry blog
– 53% Company blog
– 41% Industry Twitter feed
– 33% Company Twitter feed

Spot On!
Although LinkedIn is very popular among journalists, it does not seem to be the centre of attention to get a big story. Still, the direct contact and company websites have massive power and as they are probably the most trusted sources, they still lead. Still, social networks make it easy for journalists to get in touch with relevant people for good quotes. It should assume that investigative journalism is on the rise. Reading newspapers and websites today, I personally get the feeling that blogs have far more to offer.

What is your view?

Web or App? Nielsen study knows usage time of Android smartphone users

According to the latest findings of research firm Nielsen that tracks and analyses iOS and Android data, smartphone users spend twice as much time on applications than on mobile version of these websites. The study reveals also that –although there are millions of apps in the world- only “a very small proportion of apps make up the vast majority of time spent”.

The average Android smartphone user spends 56 minutes a day using apps and browsing the internet. Two-thirds of that time is usage of apps, the rest goes to mobile websites and 39% acccount for consumer app consumption. The study illustration below shows that mobile device owners spent almost half of their usage time on their top 10 favorite apps and 51% on their favorite 20 apps.

Let’s give it a guess… Probably most of the app usage of mobile device owners accounts for the following usage time: Checking email apps, Facebook, Foursquare or Gowalla, Twitter, and some of their favorite and coolest news or geeky gaming apps (very often used by their kids). And if you look at the top (free) list of apps you find Angry Birds, Angry Birds Rio, Google Maps, YouTube, Facebook Mobile, Skype, Tiny Flashlight, Viber and Drag Racing amoungst others.

The study supports my own feeling that although we continue to download apps and spend (2010 per user: Android 1,97 USD, iPhone 21,22 USD), we only use most of them them periodically, and only a few continously if the give us permanent benefit in networking or staying up-to-date on news.

Well, the time will come when HTML5 might change the market situation and developers will have an easy time working with apps. Amazon’s Kindle Cloud Reader gives insights in what is possible with HTML5 for the mobile web.

Spot On!
The study does not really give an answer to the question yet, or can give a recommendation to management. Still, Seeing these numbers, just imagine the chances companies and brands have when launching a new app to get under the hiflyer apps in the smartphone user market. Ideally, think about the five strategic reason that could make your app successful and be aware of the fact that most brand apps fail.

Majority of Irish students favor use of private devices and Facebook…

What will companies say if employees want to bring their own devices to work? How about security issues and support opportunities for companies? A real challenge for the future when we look at an Irish study that interviewed 164 students in secondary school and at third level in order to understand how this generation is communicating these days.

The study by IT distributor Data Solutions on behalf of Blue Coat Systems shows that more than 60% of young people expect their employers to allow them to use their own personal devices (i.e. smartphone, laptop, etc.) for work purposes in the future.

The argumentation behind their expectations are obvious: They know how to use our private devices, so they don’t need to learn new technology which saves the company time and money. The challenge for companies will be to establish a set of new policy and security guidelines, as well as data safety and storing options.

“More than 85% of the students surveyed own or have access to a laptop, and almost 40% own a smartphone. This facilitates the trend towards ‘bringing your own device’, and every business is going to have to learn to accommodate this trend while ensuring security (…) When today’s students enter the workforce they will be completely in tune with the new ways of communicating and collaborating online, as most are already using social networking sites, blogs, Skype or instant messaging. Employers now need to look at new ways to facilitate their needs and expectations.” Michael O’Hara, Managing Director, Data Solutions

The study also shows the bluring use of email comunication. 75% of Irish students favor social networking sites like Facebook as their main channel for communicating online these days. Just 6% prefer to use email.

Spot On!
The study findings illustrate that social media sites continue to be on the rise in popularity, and it indicates how older traditional online communication tools like email become less attractive. When 88% have a Facebook account, it is not surprising that they are not swappping to Outlook anymore when communicating with each other, not matter if business or private. And it seems that this will have the same effect on the hardware and devices they want to use. Maybe we just need a separate login on our computers in the future? What is your view on this development…?

Study: Social Business is critical to future success

Jive Software recently published a study that unveils how social software is increasingly perceived as a strategic executive imperative in the enterprise. Surprise? No. Jive is a provider of social business technology and commissioned the study, which was conducted by Penn Schoen Berland and asked 902 U.S.-based knowledge workers.

The three key finding can be summarized as…
– Social strategy will be critical to the future success of businesses.
– App Stores are gaining traction in the enterprise
– Email usage is growing but is not solving communication challenges in the enterprise

So, what are essential facts from the study…?

Enthusiasm for social software in enterprise is high according to the study. 96% stated that social software adds value to at least one key performance indicator with 67% claiming it would improve customer engagement. 57% even believing it would increase sales or revenue. Two-thirds (66%) of executives responded social software represents a fundamental shift in how companies work and engage with customers.
However, only 17% of the same executives reported being ahead of the curve in this area. So, obviously web business strategy is not where executives think corporate culture should be. And that is although 83% of executives leverage at least one social network for work use.

Reference marketing is becoming essential and social software will play a big role in the future of purchase decisions. 54% of millennials said that they are more likely to rely on and make purchase decisions from information shared via personal contacts in online communities versus 33% more likely to use information from “official” company sources.

Obviously the study also finds that mobile is growing. App stores are gaining tracion in the enterprise and 74% of executives are indicating interest. The reason i salso mentioned in the study. 92% of executives and 82% of millennials believe that work-related web-based apps greatly or somewhat increased their productivity.

As a final finding, the study states the growing use of email which the bloggosphere is evaluating as a weak collaboration tool for a while. The study agrees here. 89% of executives, 88% of millennials and 76% of general knowledge workers believe that they and their teams would be more productive if they could dramatically reduce the time spent writing and reading emails. Seventy-three percent of executives, 73 percent of millennials and 64% of general knowledge workers agree that social platforms will fundamentally change the way people share, connect and learn at work and with companies.

Spot On!
The study obviously favors the benefits of social software (it is a Jive USP). Some weeks ago, an IBM study took a step ahead and looked at the way executives have to challenge SocialCRM in the future and what their main fields of activity are at the moment.

So, if knowledge management in companies via social software is seen to have client engagement potential to improve business objectives, executives should have a close look at the following numbers and think about how (and how long to wait) to implement social software in their business processes: 73% of execs and millennials and 64% of general knowledge workers agree that social platforms will fundamentally change the way people share, connect and learn at work and with companies.

What happens in 60 seconds on the Social Web? A comparison and the value of "infographics"…

There are different ways to illustrate how fast the Social Web is growing these days. For two years my favorite “real-time” resource -based on studies and research data- was Gary Hayes Social Media Count. And I am sure, you have all seen this great little widget already…

However, we also have to keep up with the pace and realize that -although people already hate them- infographics are sometimes a nice way to grab facts quick and easy. The Shanghai Web Designers created an infographic which illustrates how fast conversations, comments and content are produced on social networking and online platforms in only 60 seconds.

60 Seconds - Things That Happen On Internet Every Sixty Seconds
Infographic by- Shanghai Web Designers

Now, although I honor the work of the Shanghai Web Designers, it lacks some information on where the data was generated from. Gary Hayes explains nicely how the app data was put together and how actual it is (having said that I think Gary needs to refresh his links as I found links ending in 404’s).

A comparison could be interesting, I thought. Why not compare the 60 seconds data from the Shanghai Web Designers (SWD) versus a “one-minute-momentum” of Gary Hayes (GH) counter…? I started the counter and waited 60 seconds, and there you go. Here are the results…

The comparison will just focus on the essentials Google, Email, Facebook, Twitter and Youtube. You can still do your own comparison afterwards…

Google
Search queries: 694,445 (SWD) versus 1,393,519 (GH)

Emails
Emails sent: 168,000,000 (SWD) versus 204,255,455 (GH)

Facebook
Status Updates: 695,000 (SWD) versus 696,758 (GH)
Comments: 510,040 (SWD) versus 512,100 (GH)

Twitter
New accounts: 320 (SWD) versus 208 (GH)
Tweets published: 98,000 (SWD) versus 62,707 (GH)

YouTube
Hours of content uploaded: 25+ hours (SWD) verus 36 hours (GH)

LinkedIn
New members: 100 (SWD) versus 60 (GH)

Spot On!
The comparison makes clear that the Facebook figures are similar whereas for the rest of the figures there is a massive discrepancy in numbers. Facebook is sharing their latest actual figures, for the other technology platforms the data probably comes from third party sources (or at least as far as I can see). If all platform and technology owners would share their latest data, those discrepancies won’t happen. The lack of source information from Shanghai Web Designers makes it difficult to argue which data is the latest, where the differences in the comparison are coming from, and so on. Maybe this is the reason why some experts don’t like infographics any more. “Don’t like…” might be wrong when I see how many people have shared the infographic in the last days. They appear very nice and compelling in social networking accounts and “illustrate” thought-leadership in presentations. Right…?!