Top E-Commerce Trends to Watch in 2017

Every year, e-commerce trends change, whether it’s improvements in logistics, product discovery, or brand building. If you want to keep up with the times in online commerce, you have to adapt and evolve, and be more innovative and updated on trends over your competition. To benefit even more, you need to be aware of the implications; embrace the newest trends, and implement them accordingly and change the way you do business.

Mobile, and omni-channel approach

The shift to mobile has been steady over the past 5 years and we have witnessed a complete change in the way users shop. In 2016, mobile traffic has overtaken desktop as the primary way to purchase

It is true that most session on ecommerce sites come from mobile devices, but revenue by device is biggest on desktop. Still, a very large chunk of customers isn’t very comfortable or happy with mobile purchases. And over half of them have privacy and security concerns, and prefer purchasing on a PC.

The (simple) solution to overcoming this gap, instead of treating customers as two different groups – mobile and desktop customers, is the omni-channel approach – designing a brilliant UX and creating a seamless experience across all devices. This is important because even though smartphones might have the lowest conversion rate of any device, according to a new research done by Wolfgang Digital, people are making searches on smartphones and making key purchasing decisions, then actually buy over desktop.

Artificial intelligence and big data for personalized experience

Crafting a perfect customer experience is the main goal of every e-commerce website. And as data-availability is significantly increased, marketers can easily target customers based on personal info and behavioral data, which makes achieving this goal a lot easier. Amazon, for example, has become great at offering highly personalized experiences, that go beyond “one size fits all” product recommendations, and for customers it is becoming the new norm of service expectancy.

Personalization and customization of the user experience are becoming the vital difference between competitors and key factors for lower cart abandonment rate. Online retailers are becoming aware of this, and embracing the new trend.

2017 seems to be the year of big data and AI. Shopify, as a platform has some of this very basic personalization built into the platform, but, understanding this even further and leveraging personalization and big data tools could really level up your game. Also, understanding your customer further leveraging tools like MixPanel and CrazyEgg can help you with targeting, messaging, and marketing to customers via the various advertising platforms.

Loyalty and Rewards Programs

Improved buying experience and customer loyalty play a major role in the success of every business. Unfortunately, customer loyalty is becoming harder to maintain, since almost half of the consumers would switch brands for a coupon.

One way of providing better and more convenient shopping experience is the introduction of mobile payment. Mobile payment apps are becoming more popular as smartphone users get used to using digital wallets and contactless payment.

The added bonus of mobile payment apps is the opportunity to collect customer behavior information on a personal level. These shopping preferences can be used to create highly personalized promotions and rewards for each and every consumer.  The result is build strong relationships that are beneficial for the e-tailer and the customer, and also, present an excellent way for creating a long-term loyal customers base.

Delivering to your customer

Online shopping standards have been raised once more in the last few years with the significantly faster and shorter delivery times. Online shopping customers are becoming less and less patient and demand to have the product(s) delivered as soon as possible. And thanks to Amazon Prime who began the trend, flexibility of delivery options is becoming the new standards.

The majority of retailers now offer next-day delivery for orders made before 10pm. But the prediction is that same-day delivery will continue to rise in 2017. Another efficient way of cutting delivery times that is also gaining popularity is the integration with drop-off point providers.

Many online retailers are willing to make the take the steps to making delivers faster and more convenient because delivery options and speed are becoming key ecommerce differentiators. And the truth is that almost one third of consumers are willing to pay extra for same-day delivery. Worth it, right?

Leveraging Online Chat for Conversion and Customer Feedback

Another combination of personalization and AI delivers a new way of shopping and communication with customers – chatbots. Chatbots are automated AI-led messenger services that allow website visitors engage with your brands via instant messaging. The smartest chatbots can discover what the customer wants, and suggest products, place the order, answer customer service questions, and much more.

Since consumers are beginning to get familiar with speaking to machines, brands are looking to use this to their advantage, and east the shopping experience for their customers. The reality is that chatbots are not yet perfected, and still undergo development, but soon enough they might start to become how we first interact with brands on their websites.

Convenient product returns and automated processing systems

We are all aware that the shopping experience doesn’t end with payment nor product delivery. And with online shopping, the lack of physical contact with the products before purchase can result with as much as 33% of returns, especially for apparel.

Stores like Zappos already offer free returns and a customer-friendly no-questions-asked policy. For a great number of customers, product returns can be a deciding purchase factor. And over half of online shoppers desire a complementary return shipping and simple return process in order to feel confident completing a purchase.

But complying to this new standard might not be so hard. Newer software solutions integrated directly into the online store allow shoppers to go back to the same site where they made the purchase and quickly process a return. This new software can also communicate return inventory to the warehouse and provide detailed analytics to the retailers.

 

The rapidly changing ecommerce field requires alertness and quick response to the latest trends. Sometimes learning on the go can be hard to do on your own. But we are always here to help you adapt and grow because heated competition, new rules of play, pricing strategy and customer experience on the retailers’ side, and customers’ expectancy on the other, may make it more difficult for brands to hold their leading position and loose out. These are some of the major trends to shape ecommerce now, so pay close attention and decide where you want to be in 2017, fast.

Content Marketing Tactics as an Influence Building Tool

Building influence in your industry can greatly emphasize and amplify your marketing efforts. Becoming a trusted, credible and meaningful source of information and knowledge is crucial for establishing your business influence, impacting the attitude of people about your brand, and has the potential to change people’s minds and their purchasing behavior. One of the most effective ways of building influence and differentiating your brand from the pack is through the use of content marketing. We believe it actually is one of the most powerful tools that every business should include in their marketing arsenal.

Content marketing can be the means for achieving many end. It can help you position your brand as an industry leader and provide sales leads, but it can also build trust and influence among your audience.

In order to do so, you need to follow a few essential steps that we consider vital in generating content that’s valuable enough to turn you into “the best answer” out there.

Recognize your audience’s needs

In order to be able to recognize your audience’s needs, first you need to take a step back and ask yourself whether you know who your target audience is. It can be one group, or several different customer segments, and that is fine as long as you identify key traits for the people in each group.

Next, you need to learn what they care about. You can simply go and ask them directly through surveys or polls, reviews your analytics data or do a keyword research. Then, you should find out who influences them, and try to include some of the influencers or their work in your content in order to maximize exposure and build credibility.

Now that you have a clearer picture of who you are addressing, and are ready to move on to the next step: content creating, you need to keep in mind that there is no “one-size-fits-all” solution. Preferences vary, from content types to topics and goals.

Create content that answers your audience’s needs

If your audience research is complete and you have a full customer profile, you can begin planning content creation. You can lay down a content plan, including content topics and types. This is step where must be careful and make sure you are answering key customer’s concerns, and that the content meets the needs of every step in the buying cycle. The basic model includes content which addresses three key stages: attract, engage and convert.

In this step of the process it is important to identify few content specs:

–       the channel where you’ll publish the content

–       keywords and phrases you intend to use

–       which devices the content should be optimized for

–       content topics for each stage

As we noted before, different people have different content preferences. This means you need to test different content types and find out which ones appeal most to your audience.  There are numerous content marketing tactics you can try and use in order to engage your audience and build influence.

Make an impact

To make your efforts count, and get you the desired results, you need to create content that leaves a strong impression and has maximum impact on your audience, and your marketing goals too. The main difference between content and great content most often lies in storytelling.

When you incorporate storytelling in your content you deepen the connection between your brand and the reader/viewer. Don’t look at story telling as an extra effort, look at is a source of multiple benefits including:

–    Sharing a mutual experience with your audience

–    Developing an emotional reaction and connection

–    Differentiating yourself from the competition

–    Giving meaning to the content and message

Additionally, great stories are sharable and very often accompanied with compelling visuals. Simply adding creative images, gifs or short videos alongside your written content can make it stand out, and more desirable (clickable). If you are sharing on different platforms, adapt your visuals and message accordingly. And lastly, make sure you add social sharing buttons to help increase exposure.

We believe more and more businesses choose to utilize content marketing as an influence building tool because it creates a connection and strengthens relations. And building influence with your audience is about providing as much value as possible. If you can offer content that provides value and benefits, you will grow your audience.

Even though building influence takes time, when done right, content marketing can generate results sooner than expected. If you find putting together a content marketing plan to be the hardest part of the process, you don’t have to struggle with all the work on your own. Let us help you build your content marketing strategy. Share with us your knowledge about your audience and your main marketing goals, and we can help you plan and execute the best and most effective content marketing strategy for your brand.

facebook ads b2b lead generation

Turning Up B2B Lead Generation Volume with Facebook Ads

Lead Generation is crucial in B2B marketing. They are a source of prospects, and eventually customers by which businesses can increase revenue and grow. While it might not be obvious because Facebook is not a “business” tool like LinkedIn is, you can still leverage advanced targeting techniques and its 1.86 billion monthly active user base. Because of this, Facebook is one of the most powerful tools to use for B2B Lead Generation in order you increase awareness about your products and grow prospective clients.

However, for that to happen, you must optimize your Facebook Ads for B2B lead gen. You can use following techniques to achieve this goal. Here’s how to go about it.

Track Your Conversions by Installing the Facebook Pixel

A good way to optimize the impact of your ads and eliminate waste in campaigns is tracking the leads you are generating. You can do this by tracking your lead conversion metric using the Facebook Pixel.

It’s pretty straight forward, go to the Facebook Pixel tab in your Ads Manager and click the Create a Pixel. Then, choose a name that best represents your business because you can have only one pixel per ad account.facebook pixel creation

Setting up General Targeting Options

When setting up B2B Lead Generation campaigns through Facebook, you’ll need to come up with a set of demographics information. This might seem really basic but it’s important to mention because targeting your ads to different industries and geographic locations can impact campaign performance. Even the creative to different segments of your customers might be important, as well as gender of your prospective audience.

Precise Interests and detailed targeting options allow you to further refine your targeting. This is available in the “Audience” section of ad set creation. You can use professional filters like job title, employer, industry, company size, degree level, seniority, among many others to effectively seek out the roles who are most likely to submit a lead or purchase your products or services.

facebook audience targeting options

Custom Audiences Based on Existing Lists

Facebook allows you to target specific people with its ad platform. This targeting can enable you to maximize the impact of your ad campaigns by marketing directly to a specified section of your B2B market.

In addition, you may always have people in your existing customer database or a lead list who has not purchased yet. Custom Audiences allows you to target these audiences specifically. A Custom Audience is a Facebook ad audience that you create from an existing list.

To create a custom audience, go to Campaigns and find the Audiences button listed under it. Click on the tab and select Custom Audiences, then Customer List. This function lets you upload a CSV or TXT file list of customer emails you’ve gathered, phone numbers or Facebook user IDs.

create facebook custom audience

Facebook then matches this data with information on user profiles, allowing you to target specific people.

Create Lookalike Audiences to Match Your Ideal B2B Customer Profile

Facebook allows you to create Lookalike Audiences as well. Lookalike Audiences allow you to match a customer profile similar to your Custom Audiences. For example, you can create a Custom Audience of existing customers and the Lookalike Audience will target users who match those same characteristics and would likely have a higher propensity to purchase.

We use lookalike audiences quite a bit in our campaigns to find SMB customers for clients because of the expanded reach it gives us.

Retarget Your Ads For Another Opportunity to Convert

Using retargeting would be a great way to drive up conversion rates and increase lead generation for B2B. Prospective clients can always come across the site via press, SEO or some form of earned media. Putting retargeting campaigns into place help keep your brand top of mind to those people while they are in consideration mode.

You can conveniently install a Facebook retargeting pixel on your site, go to Custom Audience and select “Website Traffic” option. You can target your ads to all people who visited certain pages of your website while excluding others. This targeted marketing can help remind the decision makers the reasons your product makes sense and give them another opportunity to engage with your business.

Using Lead Magnets to Get B2B Leads

In some cases, using a Lead Magnet could be a great option to generate leads from a B2B campaign, leveraging offers, incentives, or a free trial. You can provide high-quality content gated content with the submission of an email address to access it.

Lead Magnets can include things like a webinar, eBooks, white papers, checklists, case studies, guides, etc. They can be used to entice a visitor to engage, without singing up as a customer. Providing a simple email capture or something a little more targeted can be a great way to generate B2B Leads.

Many inbound marketing and sales platforms like HubSpot effectively use lead magnets.useful content as tools to harvests leads for businesses. Their strategy is simple, create something unique or useful; offer it to your audience and get valuable contact information and in return

As an example, here is a recent example of a “A Marketer’s Guide to Snapchat for Business” from HubSpot

snapchat for business hubspot

snapchat for business hubspot form

Just like Hubspot and Salesforce you’ll want to make it easy for the visitors to download the lead magnet from your landing page.  in exchange of their email address, and if required, their demographic data, phone number etc.

Rather than try to get a lead to buy a service or product, create an ad that promotes an offer of a free trial of your product or something else that they’ll find valuable. This is your lead magnet. And it could be a great way to build your emailing list beyond your current customer base.

Bonus: to effectively reach entirely new prospects with your incentives, target your ads based on people’s work categories or major life events. Navigate to the More Demographics button and select your best demographic-defining options in the popup menu that follows.

Facebook Lead Ads for B2B Lead Generation

You can also use Facebook’s Lead Ads using the ad creation tool, like other ads. Facebook Lead Ads give you the ability to gather information from potential customers just like web lead forms. You can collect information like name, email address, phone number as well as customized questions. (e.g “How much do you spend on advertising monthly?”)

If you want to iterate through lead forms quickly, Facebook Lead Ads are a great way to collect the information without building new landing pages and creating tons of copy. The contact forms appear natively on Facebook and Instagram. You can easily use them to sign people up to newsletters for drip marketing campaigns or in a direct B2B campaign funnel.

I know, this was a ton of information, but, given everything form the ability to target via demographic information, precise interests (e.g. job title), and leveraging lead magnets, Facebook gives you all the necessary tools. You will be able to generate tons of B2B leads, find scale, and do it efficiently. With Lead Ads you can do this even quicker by testing and iterating through forms on Facebook And Instagram natively. With all this, there’s no reason not to build in some of your B2B Lead Generation budget into Facebook.

Have you used Facebook for B2B Lead Generation? If so, would love to hear your ideas in the comments. If your looking for help getting Facebook Advertising for B2B set up, reach out and our team would be glad to help! And, remember to follow Visible Factors on Twitter.

No One Clicks Your Banner Ads? Let’s Change That.

Banner Ads Image - Get More Clicks

While banner ads may seem like a great opportunity for you, you’ve probably noticed that it’s rare to get click throughs. And, trust us when we say this, you’re not alone! Internet users have become increasingly weary of banner ads over the years and learned to simply block them out when visiting sites. So, it’s no wonder click through rates from banner advertising has diminished.

We’ve set out on a mission to figure out exactly why people are ignoring them and how to fix that.

Just Another Distraction

This day and age we have enough distractions of our own and are naturally averted to external distractions. If you obnoxiously interrupt what a reader is doing, you will get no clicks. People don’t want to be sold to. So, leave room for native ads that will be less in-your-face to users!

Relevance

If you user is there for a specific intention, they won’t click on something that goes against their intended pathway. It will be helpful to place your ads where they have higher relevance and won’t be a complete change of pace for readers.

Retargeting is a great opportunity to stay relevant to your ad-viewers. If you haven’t heard of it, retargeting is a method used for people who have previously visited your site but never took action. So we’re talking people who abandoned their carts or researching insurance options. The idea behind this type of ad campaign is to stay at the top of your user’s mind.

Value Proposition

Give your viewer a reason to click your ad! If your ad is filled with frilly graphics, it will offer minimal value. Believe it or not, ads with lots of textual description can receive higher click throughs. This is because it can help give the viewer a clearer idea of what they will be looking at.

But don’t just stop at having a clear and attractive value proposition. Make sure your ad is well-designed and has consistency with the landing page it leads to, which will make the viewer have a better transition into the website.

As a general rule of thumb, offering something free is always attractive. Unfortunately, discounts don’t have the same success. But click-throughs on free offers typically show high rates.

Usability

Plenty of banner ads aren’t compatible with mobile browsers. If the ad totally goes against the design of the page and messes up the browser configuration, the user will probably leave the website completely. Make your ad mobile-friendly!

With these quick tips and fixes, you’re on your way to more clicks in no time. Redesign, reword, and retarget until you get the rate you want.

 

We would love to know if you have any tips or tricks about increasing banner ad click through rates, tell us in the comments. And, if you’re company needs help with optimizing online advertising efforts, we can help!