Make your online retail business a success with these seven easy steps.

While high street chains and independent stores continue to suffer in this tough economic climate, the ecommerce market is rapidly growing. As consumers turn to the web for their retail needs, now is the perfect time to see your online business soar. In order to entice, satisfy and retain your customers, you will need to be digitally savvy. Including everything from clever marketing to consumer experience – these are our seven digital tips to make your online shop thrive.

1. Have a facility for customer reviews

Customer reviews are beneficial for your ecommerce site in many different ways. They are helpful because they will assist the buyer with their decision making. Additionally, they are valued more than just basic product descriptions. In fact, 84% of people say that they trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation. Also, having user-generated content in the form of comments written by users actually boosts your Google ranking. Displaying your reviews in the form of a star rating is a great idea, as it’s a simple measuring scale that’s familiar to most users.

2. Ensure your website has good mobile functionality

As of July 2017, 38.76% of all online UK content was viewed on a mobile. If your site isn’t optimised for mobile use and consumers are viewing your web page on their smartphone, they will at worst leave almost immediately, or at best, have a very bad user experience. So, if your website doesn’t operate correctly on mobiles, then you are essentially eliminating over a third of your potential customers. The easiest and slickest way to perfect your mobile site is to use a responsive design format that simply adjusts the layout depending on how the user is browsing.

3. Make the customer journey as easy as possible

You’ve succeeded at driving traffic to your website, but now you need that time online to convert into actual sales. In order to for this to happen as frequently as possible, you must prioritise the ease of the customer journey. If users can’t find how to select the colour, style or quantity of the product or have trouble using the shopping basket, they will lose interest very quickly. This is where sophisticated ecommerce platforms like Shopify and BigCommerce come into play. They offer various levels of online shopping infrastructure – everything from a pre-set shopfront that organises your products in an easy-to-view display, to the backend functions like order processing and inventory management, so your transactions can run as seamlessly as possible.

4. Work on the accuracy of your search results

The search tool is something that is utilised by the digital consumer a lot – especially if you have a wealth of products and extensive categories on your website. But, as well as enhancing the user experience, a search bar is crucial for you to track and analyse what your website visitors are looking for. If you use an ecommerce platform, then the search option may be inbuilt, but otherwise you can opt for an add-on like the Google search bar.

5. Be SEO savvy

It doesn’t matter if you’ve got an all-singing, all-dancing website; if it doesn’t rank well on Google, then you aren’t going to get a lot of organic search engine traffic – and less traffic correlates to less sales. Firstly, it’s essential to keep your content updated, as a stagnant, uninteresting site will never get boosted. Also, get in the habit of using keywords wherever possible ­– not only in your product descriptions, but also in your image alt tags, as these will help to improve your searchability. Another search engine optimisation secret is the art of securing as many backlinks as possible, because the more people that are referencing your site, the more credible your business becomes. Reach out to bloggers to review your products and also ask your manufacturers to list you as a stockist on their web pages.

6. Utilise customer sign-ups

Newsflash: when online shops ask you to create an account, it isn’t just to make your life easier for future ordering purposes. Consumer data is the holy grail of marketing because having your customers’ email addresses on file means that you are free to pitch to them at any given time. With an email sign-up system, you’ll find yourself acquiring a substantial mailing list very quickly; then you can send newsletters to inform your customers of discounts and new products. Just be sure to keep the content relevant and perhaps add a capacity for the receiver to decide how frequently they get notified to prevent any unhappy clients from feeling bombarded.

7. Get noticed on social media

As an online business, you simply cannot ignore the ever-growing juggernaut that is social media. There are 2.8 billion active social media users worldwide, so getting your brand into the social space is essential for success. The constant process of updating social media can be incredibly time consuming, so perhaps channel your focus and energy into one key social network that’s most relevant for your brand. If you’re selling products to 18–25 year old women, you will need to have an Instagram presence, but if your target audience is 30+, then consider a Facebook page.

With these tools and techniques under your belt, you’re now in the best position to excel in the ecommerce market and make your business a resounding success.

 

This post was a guest post from: Victoria Greene: Brand Marketing Consultant & Freelance Writer.

I work with online businesses and entrepreneurs to create valuable content and marketing strategies that yield strong results. I am always happy to share my knowledge and love discovering opportunities for collaboration.

It’s hard to capture images that look good and tell a story, especially if you don’t have the experience. Owen Harvey, professional photographer listed on the freelance website, Bidvine, shares a few tips on how to nail your blog photography.

Having original and professional looking photos are important for a compelling first impression no matter what sector your blog focuses on. But is it especially difficult if you are a beauty or fashion blogger?

When professional photographers work with models, they usually focus on giving guidance on what they want the models to do, but then let the model interpret that into their own style.

If you are a blogger, it’s important to experiment and let your own style shine through the photoshoot. Don’t be scared of taking a photo from a bad angle; you’ll get to decide which shots to keep anyway. It’s going to be a journey. It will have a beginning and an end, with stop off’s on the way… just keep your mind on the end shot you want. Try different approaches, allow yourself to try new things and stray from your path a bit.

A lot of great things have come out of accidents.

Image credit to Owen Harvey

How does one find his/her best angles for a photo shoot?

Photographers can instinctively recognise the best angles for their subjects from studying their art form and practising it, a lot. The knowledge that comes from studying different photographers, painters and cinematographers, which then photographers practice, gives them the ability to see the shot before it happens. If you are also an aspiring photographer, that’s the best way you can learn photographing people other than yourself—by studying great artists across a range of visual disciplines.

Before the shoot, spend 5-10 minutes talking with your model and study their features. Over time you will get a feel for what works and what doesn’t for models with different types of features. If you only have a few moments, do what you can to study the model from afar while they are doing something else. Move around and see what angle you think will work best.

If you like to model OOTD shots or if you’re both the photographer and the subject, spend some time learning what feels natural to you. If you are uncomfortable, it will come through in the image!

Practice pushing poses to extremes. Be different! It is what will make you stand out. Obviously keep it classy though :) Get into a habit of picturing what you look like from the point of the camera.

Image credit to Owen Harvey

 

Why would you say it’s important to hire a professional photographer for bloggers? What can they do that an amateur photographer cannot?

Knowing what you want, is different to knowing how you go about getting it. This is where a professional photographer comes in. A professional photographer will know how to get the shots you want, quicker and better. Also because of the quality and range of kit they bring, you will find the shots are to a higher quality as well. If you only have a few moments to get the shot, a pro will stand a much better chance of getting the shots you want.

Would you say that hiring a professional photographer is more important at the beginning stages of a blog as an initial investment or once the blog has gathered some following?

I would recommend getting a professional in at the beginning. Your blog will stand a much better chance of getting a bigger audience quicker, if you have great images.

Be sure to check all of the different photographers’ work, and choose the one whose work lines up with your vision the most.

Image credit to Owen Harvey

 

Sometimes when bloggers are starting out, their outfit photos can appear a bit stale because they are afraid to experiment. What are good ways to mix up outfit photos?

There are many ways to liven up your photos. Shoot low, shoot high, shoot close, shoot far away. They will all have a different and interesting impact on your photos. You can also take some pictures when you’re in motion or try dynamic poses.

Research a wide range of photos beforehand and see what jumps out, and then try to figure out why it stands out, and then try to incorporate that into your images.

Switching up the location and involving prompts can also help make your photos unique.

Image credit to Owen Harvey

Finally, if a blogger doesn’t have a budget yet to hire a professional photographer, is there an affordable camera that you would recommend for someone just starting out?

What is the saying? “The best camera is the one you have with you”. I have seen amazing photos shot with all sorts of cameras. Smartphones, micro four thirds, crop, full frame, mirrored and mirrorless.

There is no perfect camera, and it will be a journey to see which camera best suits you.  The best thing to do is to get your hands on as many different cameras as you can to see how they feel in your hands. If you have any friends or family who have cameras, they are a great place to start.

Personally I love mirrorless, as I can see my final exposure even before I have taken it, which makes for much quicker shooting. But that is just my opinion.

You will want something that you are comfortable with and that can become an extension of you. I have come to learn, it is the glass that is important. That is what will give you that nice shallow Depth of Field.

I can certainly recommend the 50mm F1.8. It is a fantastic lens quality wise, and it is also one of the cheapest. I know a lot of photographers are also fond of the 35mm F2.8. Again, it’s about playing with them and seeing which one suites you.

This post is brought to you by Bidvine in partnership with photographer Owen Harvey.

The hard work starts when your fingers hit the keys and you begin crafting a winning intro, moving on to a masterpiece of a middle and then finishing off with the best ending ever.

But it’s not just about the words going up on your website, you also need to think about how you are going to get people to see them.

I keep seeing posts on social media that are badly written, are too long, or have nothing to do with the actual content.

But why does this matter?

Well the short piece of copy that you post on social media is just as important as the writing on your blog. It acts as a sales pitch to intrigue the reader, encouraging them to click through to read more.

Before adding a bit of waffle to your post because you think it sounds good, think about how it will work for your audience and what they are interested in. Click bait can work if it’s done well, but if you are just writing something for the sake of click bait, people will see through this, get miffed and go elsewhere.

Key tips

1. Keep the copy short and concise so that it captures the reader within a few seconds. After all, technology has reduced our attention span to 8 seconds, which is 1 second shorter than that of a goldfish.

2. Think about the words you use in this social copy. If you are posting from a brand page and want to keep a neutral opinion, phrases such as ‘better than’ or ‘x wins over x’ could mean you are siding with one part of the story over another.

3. Negative statements are good when used correctly, but remember to add something that relates to your content and make sure the argument is balanced out within the full article.

Making sense helps

4. If you are not sure, check the meaning of words before you use them. Chronic can be confused with acute and compose with comprise. Have a look at this great article from the Guardian for more examples.

5. A funny post can gain lots of attention, but If you are going to use humour in copy, run it by someone to get a second opinion  or even better, a LOL.

6. Make sure you read over the copy a couple of times before you click POST. This will minimise the risk of spelling mistakes or typos. Even better, if you have a sub editor or proof reader in your team, get them to have a look over it.

7. If you are using an image to sit alongside the copy. Make sure it’s relevant and doesn’t include anything that could be misleading or may upset your readers.

Images are often the first thing we spot before we even read the text so they are just as important. Remember ‘less is more’ at times.

Example taken from Woolworths Facebook page

 

If you have any examples of great posts! Please leave a comment below.

Collective Hub 101 Masterclass

I attended a Collective 101 ‘Pitch to the media’ masterclass to have a stickybeak at what takes place and to mingle with entrepreneurial peeps in Sydney.

These intimate events are run by the popular go-to guide Collective Hub and run for a couple of hours, usually on a week night. It’s the first time I’d been to one, so I was quite intrigued.

Where it takes place

Based in their office on Kippax street, the event kicked off at 6.30pm and we were greeted by friendly faces and a small selection of goodies. Luckily one of the gifts was a diary, because we are halfway through the year and I’m still not very organised. There were also some food treats from Eat Fit Food, and a couple of copies of the Collective mag.

The session leader

Chief Operating Officer Allan Fletcher was the main speaker for the night, taking us through the dos and don’ts of how to pitch to the media.

Allan has worked for some of the biggest publishing companies in the world (including the BBC, ACP Magazines and Bauer Media Group) in both the UK and Australia. So, if someone knows a good story when they see one, it’s probably him.

As I’ve worked in PR agencies and you could say, ‘heard it all before’, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. But after a while I realised that some of the things mentioned, do slip by at times, especially when we are trying to do a million things a day and keep up with the next new thing.

The talk started with the basics of pitching a story idea, such as researching the publication and knowing who you are talking to.

Takeaway points

Important things to remember before pitching include:

  • Remember editors have huge appetites and need good content.
  • They are busy, so do the hard work for them. Make sure your email is well structured and you get straight to the point.
  • Think about your audience and who you are trying to reach.
  • Create a value exchange – what’s in it for the reader?
  • Build a relationship.
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Slide taken from Allan’s presentation on the day

Allan revealed some of the well-written and successful emails they’ve received at the magazine and then some of the poor, strange and somewhat cheeky emails that didn’t even get through to the ‘cut’ or ‘keep’ pile.

It’s amazing what some people think they can get away with!

Networking with the crew

Then, after the presentation, each member of the group had a chance to get up and pitch their business to the crowd. From doggy apps to cool charity initiatives, the level of confidence in the room was quite impressive.

I still find it hard to get up and speak in front of a room of people so I can’t imagine how it feels when you are a one-man band, trying to make people buy into your ideas. Pretty ballsy!

The friendly atmosphere helped though, and the group was around 20–25 which made it easier to speak up and network.

To quote Allan here, it’s worth remembering that;

“you only meet people doing amazing things if you step outside of your everyday”.

If you want to know more about these events or fancy popping along to one, head over to Eventbrite.

Follow the Collective hub on Instagram and look out for new dates.

Guest Post

Over a week ago, hundreds of men uploaded photos of themselves with the hashtag #itsokaytotalk on Facebook and Twitter. They were participating in a social media awareness initiative for mental health, encouraging men to break down the stigma of not being able to talk about the matter freely among friends.

According to the search on Facebook Australia, over 1000 pages/groups actively engaged with the hashtag (not including individuals who posted from personal accounts).There were 5434 posts on Instagram as of the 27th of August with the hashtag (excluding private accounts).

isitoktotalk

Awareness around this topic spread very quickly in a short space of time, attracting mainstream media to cover the conversation. Example below:

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Inspiring campaigns that have caught our attention

#itsokaytotalk isn’t the first campaign that has caught my attention, and, for the most part, awareness campaigns like this are perceived as inspiring.

We’ve seen a few over the last couple of years: The Bucket Challenge, the no-makeup selfie, not to mention the Australia’s annual #ruok day.

But are these campaigns effective? Or are they just an opportunity to post photos, laugh or attract likes?

To me, it depends on two things:
1. What they are trying to achieve
2. Is what they are trying to achieve meaningful

Social media activism often attracts cynics who argue that small changes on social media do not really suggest support for a cause. But if the purpose of a campaign is awareness, a selfie or a changed profile picture on mass media can be viewed and shared amongst millions of people internationally, ultimately achieving a campaign’s goal.

Social psychologist, Melanie Tannenbaum once noted the best way to convince people to care about something is to show them what other people actually do.

They don’t always go to plan

The No Make up selfie of 2014, an initiative pushed by Cancer Research UK, prospered when women saw their friends post an all natural selfie, with a donation link attached.

The initiative, started when Laura Lipmann, uploaded a photo of herself without make up, led many to follow suit. It was simple – affirmation and self-confidence to encourage cancer research, and by uploading a photo and showing support, friends and family of those individuals were inclined to also show support.

But despite the millions donated as a result of the campaign, the #nomakeupselfie received large criticism. Many were accused of missing the point when women were recognised as brave for just taking a selfie without makeup.

Perhaps the reason for this was that the content promoting the cause, was perceived as vain and a means of getting ‘likes’.

The Bucket Challenge also went viral in 2014, drawing over 60,000 supporters. The campaign involved pouring a bucket of cold ice over your head and summoning friends to take up the challenge.

As a result, more learnt about Amyotrophic Lateral Scleorisis, the progressive neurogenerative disease at the forefront of the campaign. But in this campaign, awareness was the goal and because the challenge was light-hearted and comical, individuals were willing to participate, and audiences were enthused to watch the attempts of family and friends.

Brad Hesse, former chief of the Health Communication and Informatics Research Branch at the National Cancer Institute in the US, said that campaigns are successful when they are tailored to the values and resources available to audiences.

In the case of #itsokaytotalk, the campaign focused on mental health, a strong value for many. Mental health, particularly for men, is rarely addressed. This initiative’s aim was to encourage discussion and awareness that would help reduce the suicide statistics in men. By using an internationally recognised symbol for ‘okay,’ men all over the world were able to begin breaking down the stigma, some even offering personal anecdotes to their selfie post.

Where does this leave us?

Awareness can get people talking about change and change behavior, but it is the way an awareness campaign is approached that is key. Social has an innate power in its ability to project opinions and ideas about society, understanding the audience, and know what you are trying to achieve will help drive your campaign.

After all, if you want to get people talking what better way than to start a hash-tag on the one form of media that reaches audiences across the globe.

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Zoe Samios is a journalism student and freelance writer based in Sydney, Australia. Her experience has taken her overseas, exploring new cultures and the international media landscape. She loves writing about all things media and marketing, particularly in her current role as intern at Mumbrella. Follow Zoe on Twitter @zoesam93

Does your PR background help when it comes to content marketing?

This is a question I asked myself when I took a job within a content marketing agency, just over 5 months ago. I now feel like I know the answer and therefore decided  to share my thoughts.

Content marketing is the talk of the town, the cherry on the cake or some may say the future of Marketing. I read an article recently that was all about what we could expect from content marketing in 2016 and one of the main points covered the rise of thought leadership. I asked myself  the question – Well is this new? PR professionals have been ghost writing on behalf of clients for a very long time or media training authoritative figures looking to voice their opinion.

Although PR is usually poking out of the ‘traditional’ marketing bin, it also plays an invaluable role when it comes to content marketing. Why? well take this as an example: you have produced an Infographic that ticks all the boxes of the client brief. Great work! It’s now probably going to be uploaded to a page on a website hidden within the main website and nobody will find it, (apart from the google bots of course).

PR people remind content teams to focus on the public. What stories are the most interesting? How are current events shaping our industry, and where can we get involved to tie in with trends? By working collaboratively, PR brains can bring fresh insights, creative angles, and a greater perspective of the public into content marketing production. A PR’s goal is to share a story that is so compelling that members of the media eagerly want to publish the story on their front page. If content marketers crafted equally powerful stories for owned media channels, consumers would eat it up.The distribution vehicles may vary, but the results are the same – good stories that engage your targeted audiences.

Brands are now realising they can also be publishers themselves, so this means they produce news- worthy or thought provoking articles that gain attention. Who are the best people to make this work? Those with a PR brain tend to be able to come up with creative and unique ideas that are sure to gain attention, or know exactly how to work with influencers so that the content spreads further.

Iteratemarketingcom

From my own understanding, content marketers are obviously good at thinking about the end goal and taking people through a ‘marketing funnel’ and PR professionals are the ones who can see the ‘bigger picture’ and possibly reach ‘blue sky’ ideas without thinking about the dollar value.

As Jo Swan from Chocolate PR in the UK recently pointed out “Some marketeers, who are largely data and ad centred, believe that PR can take too much effort to generate ‘earned’ media, so better to just pay for exposure instead (Some content marketers prefer to create content, then pay for it to get featured via advertising, but here you lose what content marketing is supposed to be about and the credibility that could be gained through PR).

With figures showing that 66%* of UK marketeers see producing engaging content as their top challenge, PR and content marketing may have just established their relationship.

The website AWOL is a great example of a brand using their own online publication to speak to an audience. Qantas, decided they needed something that would provide thought-provoking and engaging content to appeal to Millennials.

Capture

Westpac have caught on and started doing the same. With the Cusp

The cusp

What I am trying to say here, is, if you work in PR or if you work in content marketing, don’t rub the two off against each other because in my opinion, they support each other and the collaboration should be embraced.

All examples are from Australia but please feel free to share your examples with me in the comments below.

 

 

 

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