Branding Your Business on a Budget

Branding is one of the key tools to a successful business. I mean, if people don’t know what you brand is then how can they buy something, or even better, become a loyal customer? To some brand marketing may come naturally, but for others it is just something else they have to do…but there are ways to make it easy and not expensive to implement.

There are ways you can get creative and brand your business. It may require a little time, but in the long run, you will see the ROI and can actually save you money!

Find a Voice

Once you’ve identified your buyers are you can start to see your brand form. A brand identity is the things that make people aware of what your brand is, aka your voice. Figuring that out follows a process not unlike the one that’s used to determine your personas but instead of answering questions about your target audience, you’re answering questions that are more introspective to your brand. What are its values? What does it represent?

 Know Your Peoplepeople-01

The needs, goals, and behavior of your potential customers dictate how you convey your product or service. Understanding those things helps you determine what kind of media your personas are consuming, what motivates them, and where they “live” online. Having that information helps develop a compelling, effective brand and it helps you reach the right people!

Use Social Media

Now we know who your personas are and we know what to say to them and how to say it. Yet, where are they located?

Since you might have a clear picture of the different pieces of your audience, it’s important to figure out where they’re spending the most time, especially on social media. It is effective to reach people where they are already present, which includes their online behavior, too. Once you do establish that presence, you need to maintain it. How many times have you gone to a brand’s Facebook Page only to find that nothing has been posted in the past three months? Chances are, it didn’t have a positive impact on your perception. That can be avoided by planning and scheduling social media posts like you would with any other marketing calendar. That’s a huge part of staying relevant to your audience. By sharing content that pertains to what they’re likely thinking about at a given time of year will be a key to your success.

Blog 

Blogging is important as we have said in other articles. It is the “attract” stage that turns strangers into visitors to your website.

blogging-01Blogging might be the most fundamental step of inbound marketing. It helps you reach qualified customers, by creating the informative content that matches the information they’re searching for. It’s so important to make it relevant to this audience, when you’re writing, make sure the content is optimized for those searches. After friends and family, blogs are the third most trusted source of information. That content will also serve as material to populate your social media networks, and we’ve already covered what a crucial part that plays in branding on a budget. One of the biggest struggles we hear about is the cost of spending time on it. If you are new to the web and blogging, check out firstsiteguide.com. Here they can show you how to start, run and grow your own blog!

Like planning your social media presence, having an editorial calendar for support-01-01your blog can be helpful in maintaining consistent timing and fresh content.

Customer Service

Whether you’re serving customers or clients, the goal is to create a delightful, sharable experience. And when the client or customer experience is a priority, it shouldn’t cost you much for them to talk about it. That revisits the importance of your identity and voice. As you go through these brand creating steps, think about the values that you want to be resonated in those things. Is amazing customer service one of them? Those values are what shape the brand, and that influences the voice you project to your audience.

Get Branding

Building a brand might seem like a huge undertaking, especially with limited resources. However, there are plenty of economical ways to not only get started, but to continue the momentum you start with these efforts. The thing is, you can really have fun with the process!

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The Benefits of Cross Selling

The Benefits of Cross Selling

by Sheryl Davis, Glew

What is Cross Selling?

Cross Selling is a sales tactic that encourages a shopper to buy complementary products.

Think about shopping for tomatoes at a grocery store. It’s common for stores to display items, such as cheese, among an aisle devoted to vegetables. Despite the store having a section specifically for cheese, growthstore managers strategically position cheese among the tomatoes knowing that the combination may tempt hungry customers. The product placement makes it easy for customers to find related items and impulsively pick up goods while shopping. In doing so, stores drive increases to the order value while reminding shoppers that certain products go well together.

Just like cross-selling products in brick and mortar stores, online tactics should bring convenience and ideas to the shopper while also proving to be lucrative for the retailer.

According to research by software provider Monetate, product suggestions can:

Increase revenue up to 300%

Boost conversions by up to 150%

Increase Average Order Value by as much as 50%

Benefits of Cross Selling

Cross selling benefits both stores and customers. For stores, it increases Average Order Value (AOV) and Benefitstherefore benefits revenue. Larger orders also often allow stores to cut down on packaging and shipping costs by consolidating items in a box that may have otherwise been partially full. And keep in mind that driving your AOV higher will increase the Lifetime Value of customers, often providing incremental capital that can be used to market to those customers.

But the good news is that cross selling doesn’t just benefit your store, it also benefits your customers! Shoppers can find items faster when they are recommended on individual product pages. Plus, a well-paired product recommendation can bring a customer’s attention to a complimentary product that they might not have known existed. Adding value to your customer’s experience while making more money? It’s a no brainer.

How to Get Started

1) Use a tool that analyzes purchasing behavior. With a breakdown of products that are most commonly purchased together you can set your cross sale recommendations without any guesswork.

Frequantly-Bought-Together-(for-web)2) Install a Magento extension that will display product recommendations. Extendware’s “Frequently Bought Together” and “Who Viewed This Also Viewed” extensions are built for Magento stores to cross sell on every product page.

3) Monitor items that are selling effectively and consider adding those items to your store as a bundle. You could offer a small discount when purchasing the items Who-Viewed-This-Also-Viewed-(for-web)together, or pull together kits for items to quickly be purchased at once.

Sheryl Davis is a digital marketer at Glew, an ecommerce analytics software provider, where she focuses on helping online stores understand and act on their data. Each week she publishes practical strategies for ways to rock ecommerce success.
Blog | Website | LinkedIn | Twitter | Facebook

 

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How to Use Others to Grow Your Business

One of the biggest challenges of building a company from scratch is the amount of work that lies ahead. Although not all of it is “tough work”, one of the biggest killers of startups is the inability to tackle all of the work that needs to be done before the cash runs out!

Some tell you to work hard, and some tell you to work smart. Spoiler alert: You need to do both. If you can’t do both, the result is most likely failure.

Building Relationships

It is important to create relationships with other businesses before you can leverage their work.

To say this does not imply, being shady and leeching out info from others, or taking credit for other ideas. That’s just wrong, and it gets you nowhere. Actually creating cohesive honest relationships takes time. Its ok to reach out to others for help!

Here are some ways I have been able to build relationships and get some great business promotion in return:

Blog Promotion

When I first started my clothing company, I had a scrawny list of subscribers. I may have mentioned that before! One of the great suggestions a good friend gave me, was to leverage some hard work that has already been effective for others to build their audiences. I built a list of influencers who I decided I wanted to build relationships with.

InfluencerI looked for people who had the type of audience I wanted and those who could personally get value out of my content. I started to engage with them by leaving clever, conversation-provoking comments on their blog posts and sharing their content on my site. After establishing a relationship with a few, I asked if I was able to send them a blog post of my own and asked for their feedback.

Not only was much of the feedback valuable to me, but helped to gain us a ton of exposure to their audiences. The list they worked long and hard to obtain, was now following me, giving us tons of new subscribers and unique visitors. Score!

Guest Blogging

So that was a great example about using your own blogs to leverage other businesses.

Another way to get massive value is by leveraging the audience-building work other businesses have done by getting your content published on their blogs.

It might sound presumptuous and you may be shy at first but its really a similar ask as what we did before.

It is all about building relationships with influential bloggers, engaging in their communities and adding value however you can. Having something of value that others can use to their advantage will in turn gain you exposure!

Releasing an API

Software companies with developer API’s spend a lot of time and money promoting their partner APIintegrations because API’s are a fantastic way to let others do some of the work of making your product more valuable. These integrations help put your business in front of entire new audiences on an exponential scale.

Personally, I have also gotten thousands of trial signups from users that found us in our partners’ integration directories; another great way to leverage someone else’s work right?

Event Participation

Events are not the easiest to organize and they take time. There are thousands of moving parts, and a ton of planning that needs to go on behind the scenes.

But when they are successful, events can deliver a lot of value for audiences, and for the individuals and businesses who are there to engage with those audiences.

Events like doing talks and workshops – are a great way to leverage the work that the event organizer has done to engage with interested people.

Its All About Leverage!

As you grow your profile through channels like blogging, guest blogging and building high-visibility partnerships, you’ll begin to see opportunities come your way that let you leverage other people’s work that require very little work on your own. Things like interviews, quotes in news stories and blog posts, and speaking requests are very effective

3It’s not a quick hack and it takes a lot of work, not to mention it needs to benefit both parties. It means helping the other guys win, while scoring your own big wins at the same time.

Want to work closer with other businesses? Why not try Extendware’s Affiliate Program Extension for your magento store. Its a win win for both parties!

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How to Win Customer Loyalty

It doesn’t get better than having lots of loyal customers right? To be able to have a group of customers who love your product and aren’t afraid to tell others is a huge win! Word of mouth marketing and repeat customer’s costs 0 marketing dollars and is a sure fire way to ensure you are keeping everyone happy.

Who Participates in Loyalty Programs?

There are really two tiers to loyal customers. You have your early stage customers and your later stage customers. Let’s break it down.

Early Stage Customer Loyalty Can Come From:

  • Surveys and Feedback
  • Email Subscriptions
  • Open Rates and Click-Through Rates
  • Mobile Alert & Notification Responses
  • Social Engagement

Later Stage Customer Loyalty Could Include:

  • Customer Satisfaction
  • Purchase Frequency
  • Customer Spending
  • Upsell/Cross-Sell Purchases
  • Testimonials/Reviews/Referrals

It is important to be able to distinguish between the two categories as it will determine how relevant your campaigns are depending upon the customer. Being able to identify this allows you to feature the right tone, frequency, and benefits. If you continue to engage customers frequently, you can easily build customer loyalty. This can result in higher rates of purchasing and advocacy from your already-loyal customers and additions to the ranks of customers you already consider loyal.

If you want to achieve this, you will need to leverage your customer engagement platform to paint a complete picture of what you know about your loyal customers including preferences and interests, purchase behavior and frequency, order details, and more. Campaigns like this enables you to gather more information about their hobbies and interests or reasons for purchasing. All of this information makes it easier to accelerate purchase cycles, cross-sell, and upsell.

Harness Insights

InsightsKnowing the attributes of your loyal customers makes life easier when trying to find additional prospects who could one day become loyal customers. This way, you are not starting from scratch with these prospects, but pursuing those customers with similarities.

Using a customer engagement platform is a great way to perform personalization at scale and can cultivate relationships and learn more about consumer behavior.  For my clothing store, I use a platform to learn the habits of my customers, such as what trends they like, what age group they are in, and what interests they have socially such as entertainment, leisure, and sports. The customer engagement platform has also motivated my staff to set up strategies, such as automated birthday campaigns, that help drive merchandise sales and enhance the value of being a fan.

Who Are Your Customers?

Getting into the minds of individual customers is vital to engaging and keeping them loyal. It pays to keep customers happy! Maybe you have a lot customers who aren’t loyal…yet. Don’t overlook the value of the non loyal customers. They will take a different type of engagement than your typical loyal customer. Look at the data CUSTOMERSthat you have about loyal and non loyal customer behavior to determine if there are behaviors or activities that differ between the two groups and identify any commonalities amongst the groups that can help you communicate with them in a more personal way. This way, you can tailor your communications to your non loyal customers to guide them toward the behaviors and activities that build loyalty and help nudge them to the next stage of their customer lifecycle.

There may be non loyal customers that may not engage with you at all anymore. In fact, they may no longer be customers. Most consumers are willing to switch brands if it means getting more benefits. However, just because they have churned away from your brand doesn’t mean they are gone for good! You just have to win them back and focus on re-engaging them with relevant communications based on what you have learned about their behaviors. This includes insights you’ve taken from social channels and paying attention to negative word of mouth, such
as an online review.

Win Them Back

A Win back can be anything from a personalized email or letter telling them you miss their business, or aWin-them-back survey as to what would make them want to come back to your brand. People love deals, so maybe offering a discount or special code just for them to draw them back in. There are a variety of ways to win someone back and even convert them in to a loyal customer, you just have to give them some personal attention and learn about what they really want, not what you think they want.

Many times, marketers invest their hard work and precious dollars in campaigns and promotions aimed at getting customers to make that first purchase. But once those customers are in the door, they’re left largely to their own devices. By consistently engaging those customers over time with relevant, appealing offers, you can cultivate long-term loyalty that translates into higher revenues and advocates who drive even more business for you through powerful
word of mouth.

3

Why not try Extendware’s Loyalty Program extension for your Magento store? This extension allows you to incentivize customers based on order history, average order amount, and account age.

 

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How To Fix Common Magento SEO Mistakes

SEO is the key to running a good online store. If you’re doing Magento search engine optimization yourself without issues, then you are in great shape! It can certainly be a challenge for those who have less SEO experience. Kind of like myself! When I first started my online clothing shop, I was struggling to get my store to a higher than 50 position.  I was goof with blogs and keywords so I wasn’t sure why I wasn’t in a better spot! I then realized my low traffic and low rankings were due to issues in my Magento SEO settings. After identifying this, I took some action to fix these issues and I want to share them with you!

Default Settings

The main thing you need to do is go through all configuration points and change every single default setting. The default Magento installation is pretty useless when it comes to SEO. It has certain settings, but they are insufficient for proper search engine optimization and fighting competition.

You can’t leave the default settings as they are and you will still need to go through them and tune everything up before installing any third-party SEO extensions.

Changing URLs/Deleting Pages

If you change URLs or delete pages and don’t set up a proper redirect, it will cause more 404 mistakes on your website. Google says it’s okay to have some URLs returning 404 pages, but still they want you to fix them. Just go to System, then Configuration, then Catalog, and Create Permanent Redirect for old URLs. Its good to eliminate these as nothing scares a customer off more than a 404 message!

Image OptimizationImage-Optimization

Magento doesn’t change the name of the product image or add an alt tag so you will have to do this yourself if you want your images bring you passive traffic from search engines, and SEO friendly name tags. Try Extendware’s Image Optimization  extension to optimize your images and reduce their size without sacrificing image quality!

Default Descriptions

If you go to System, then Configuration, Design, HTML Head and finally Default description and enter it, Magento will put this description to all pages without a custom description. Remember that each of your pages is considered to be unique, including meta tags.

Translated Page URL’S

If your product is site.com/product.html for the English language, you should have different URLs for the same product in other languages as well. I learned that you have to change it for each language your store is geared towards. Make sure to do it on all pages too not just home page, which means all product pages!

Rich Snippets

Rich Snippets are a great way to have more exposure and attention without necessarily being in top 3. Results in Google with rich snippets have higher CTR and more clicks. Implementing rich data is pretty easy and should be only be made once.

rel=”alternate” hreflang=”x”

rel=”alternate” connects pages with the same content, but in different languages so don’t ignore it! You might even want to use another tool – “x-default hreflang” for international landing pages. Make sure to link translated pages with each other. It is usually done through country flags or links with language names’.

Layered Navigation/SEO Optimization

Layered-NavigationLeaving Magento layered navigation as the default or third-party, without tuning SEO settings is an important mistake which may lead to hundreds of pages with messy URLs and duplicate content. Check out Extendware’s Layered Navigation extension to increase sales by making your catalog more filterable, aesthetically appealing, and faster for your customers to find the products they want!

XML sitemap

To make sure all of your store pages are indexed and re indexed properly and fast, you will need to upgrade your XML sitemap. Make sure to check the content before submitting it to Google Webmaster Tools. Default Magento XML sitemap only includes products and category pages and doesn’t contain images.

Duplicate IssuesProduct-Sorting

Ok so Magento is a culprit of duplicate content, which Google hates! Product Sorting can increase the effectiveness of your online product catalog and can increase your conversion rates. Sort products on your sales page by Best Sellers, Top Performers, Most Viewed, Number of Reviews, and more. Easily cascade your sorting options – such as always showing in stock items first. For more info check out Extendware’s Product Sorting extension.

Load Speed

Full-Page-CacheLoad speed on any website is an official Google ranking factor. An e-commerce store’s speed influences bounce rate and customer’s likeliness to return. Magento itself is very slow in terns of site speed and SEO. So it is recommended to use a cache service such as Extendware’s Full Page Cache extension. This will reduce your Magento store’s First Byte Time, increase your web server request rate, reduce database load, and make your store much more responsive!

All in all, Magento is a great platform for my business, but like anything, it takes time and investment in the right tools to make it run fast and efficient. For more tools that focus on SEO and performance, visit Extendware’s Performance Extensions. They are sure to help you like they did me!

Have questions on the spot? Extendware now has a live chat!

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Social Media Tactics to Help Drive Traffic to Your Ecommerce Site

Ahh social media. It’s your best friend and your worst enemy. I’ll admit I had a few years where I refused to be a part of it, but it slowly crept into my life aPhoto-1nd before you know it I was checking my Facebook page at least 5 times a day! But I wasn’t checking in for the latest gossip about The Bachelorette, or stalking my ex boyfriend’s pages. No, I was actually using Facebook and other social media outlets for news and information. Today, more then ever, people are using social networks like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and more to promote their businesses, and I knew that’s what I had to do to be successful and reach the right people.

So marketing on social media must be a piece of cake right? Wrong. Attracting consumers to your site through social media is easier said than done. To be successful in the world of social media, you need more than just tactics…you need a well thought out marketing strategy.

 

Here are a few questions to ask yourself before you begin the adventure into the wild world of social media.

What Am I Trying to Accomplish?

Start thinking about the various goals you are setting for yourself and be specific! How many followers are you striving to reach? How many conversions do you want? Traffic? Audience Growth? It all matters and ironing out a concrete goal plan is key to making this all work.

What Do Your Customers Want?

You may think you know what they want, but it is amazing the insight you will get when you just ask! Using social media is a great way to ask customers on a personal level; “Hey what is it you like about us?” “What can we do to make things easier?” The feedback here is priceless information to better your business.

What’s my ROI?

Ok, so if you aren’t getting a return on your investment then you are doing something wrong. Or maybe you had some reach but its not what you expected. That’s ok. Try another campaign, change up your strategy, audience, creative…it’s all about the results and the more you experiment the better your financial results will be.

It’s All About the Dataanalytic

Customer behaviour such as where your social media traffic is coming from and which types of content receive the most views is crucial in leveraging data. You can discover best practices this way, and if one thing doesn’t work, try new factors the next time and don’t forget to reference your history often. Some social mediums have a dashboard with this information similar to Google Analytics. Get the Google Analytics Dashboard Extension for Magento Here!

Sharing is Caring

Most people don’t visit social media sites with the intent of shopping. I know I don’t, yet somehow I wind up joining seminars, buying books, and linked out to Amazon on nearly every visit! This type of marketing is about building relationships first and actual sales are second. Establishing trust is the best way to engage with your target customer. Statistics reveal that people will typically interact with 5 pieces of content before even making a purchase.

So once your plan is in place, its time to start using some tactics to make the most of your social media presence, promotions, and marketing.

Social Media Tactics

Paid Advertising

Paid options can help to dramatically increase your sales. You can push people to website for specials, social page for likes, even sign people up for a newsletter. You don’t have to have a large budget either, its more about your message, demographics overall campaign.

#Hashtags

In the beginning I was confused on what this # sign even was. What they do is help your content become easily discovered and expand the reach of your posts. They are great for interaction but make sure to avoid over using them, and stick to just one or two per post or else you might be labeled as a #hashtagaddict.

Reviews

Let’s face it, when booking a hotel, or choosing a restaurant or new purchase, we all look to reviews from other people! The same goes on social media, so take your success stories and brag a little.photo-2

Feeds and Buttons

Make sure to promote your social pages on all that you do. Buttons are a great way to share on your website, and feeds like twitter are another fun way to engage with people in the social world on your site.

No Sales Pitches

Sales pitches are a great way to lose customers. We aren’t selling encyclopedias door to door here! A better method is to share content in your posts, stories, news, tips and tricks or anything that engages the consumer. I use the word engage a lot because that’s the key to all of this.

Images

Nothing draws the eye more than a compelling product image. This gives your customers a chance to share with others and repost. Using platforms like Instagram and Pinterest are perfect for this. You can also encourage people to post images of your product in use! I had my friends all share photos of my clothing line and I got more comments and likes then I have ever had. Boom!

Relationships

No not Tinder that’s a different blog for a different day! You can build relationships many ways in social media especially by being attentive to messages and comments and making sure to respond to everyone. It may seem time consuming but will make a difference in a sale. Another fun way to interact is by joining similar interest groups. You can keep up on the industry, check competition and chat with like minds.

Keywords

Using high-conversion keywords in your posts can increase their visibility and you can then reach people beyond your followers. Just do some keyword research to find the terms consumers are searching to find content related to your industry, business, and products/services, and integrate them into your posts.

Consistancy

Posting content on a regular basis is critical to improve customer engagement and drive more traffic to your eCommerce website. Frequency can vary based on your market, but consistency is key to show your audience that you’re interested in constantly sharing valuable content. To make this process easier and save time, use a marketing automation tool such as Around.io so you can schedule posts in advance.

Blog It

blog-it-2If you have a great blog (like this one),you will certainly want to share it with your online social groups. Again, a great way to keep things relevant and allow your followers to share and stay in the know with all you are doing.

Keep it Simple!

No one likes information overload. Keeping it short and sweet you’re your updates attract more engagement on social media than longer posts. If you can tease with engaging headline, your followers are more apt to read it and then share the content if its brief and compelling.

As you can see, there are tons of ways to drive more traffic to your site using social media. I once thought it was a simple process, but it is much more complex but can be so much fun too with the right mindset. Good luck and try not to get distracted by the Farmville or Candy Crush invites!

Check out Extendware’s Social Media!

Facebook

Youtube

Linkedin 

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Why People Look But Don’t Purchase

I started my online clothing store 8 months ago. Once the excitement wore off, I was nervous about a lot of things. Do people care about my clothes? Is the competition too steep? How will they even find me for crying out loud? I didn’t have a large budget and had tried some small social media buys, word of mouth etc., but that was it.

To my surprise, after about 3 months or so, I was getting amazing inbound numbers. People were actually finding me! This was a huge achievement, but sadly my bank account wasn’t exactly celebrating yet. I was drawing all of these people but my clothes weren’t selling.  Sure I had the occasional “window shoppers”, but looking at my stats, I could see some people were checking reviews, FAQs, and generally showing a deep interest in my product. So what gives?

Here are some facts I looked up as to why I wasn’t making those sales:

1.My Shipping and Handling was too high.

I was sure my prices were fair and way under the competition, so why would people abandon ship! That’s it right there…” ship”. delivery
My S/H prices were way too much and they weren’t flexible. I was so focused on the actual product prices, I failed to realize the amount that adds up in shipping. I shifted some numbers around and was able to make certain purchases include free shipping. There are lots of ways to fix shipping to make it more appealing. You may even want to include a countdown time so people have a short window to snag the zero-dollar transport deal.

2.What Return Policy?

Return-policyYikes, I slowly realized that people are much more apt to make a purchase with a return policy. Sounds like a no brainer right?  Maybe, but at  first my thought was that I didn’t want to deal with it or lose money but in reality I was losing customers. So I found a way to limit the policy with certain rules attached so that people wouldn’t take advantage. I also included size charts to reduce the amount of returns I would have to deal with. I rarely have returns because my clothes are awesome, but also because I do the most I can to alleviate issues before the purchase.

3.A Photo of Me and My Dog Was Not Enough to Gain Trust

credit-card-2
I mean, it’s a great picture and we both have trusting eyes, but this may not be enough for some people to feel secure enough to enter their credit card. Doing a little research I found that a lot of people are nervous these days when it comes to online payments and transactions. So I decided to get third party security involved and make sure my customers knew that we had their safety in mind. This is especially helpful for the log in and shopping cart areas.

4.I Wasn’t Mobile Friendly

responsiveIt never occurred to me how many people would be online shopping on the bus, at the nail salon, at work, in line at the DMV! I had figured well, I can access my store on my phone but when I really sat and looked, it was super tiny wording and you could hardly see the pictures! So I had the site redesigned to include mobile and even tablet layouts. Now you could easily see everything, click side tabs to search different products etc. Heck if we get big enough, we may even create an app!

5.My Pages Were Too Clutteredweb-design

I just had too much to say. Words and names and buttons… it was just too much visually to take in. When I redesigned the site, I noticed more pages being explored and more time spent on each. Cleaning up my messy room, deemed to be a crucial part of my online success!

A Little Help From Your Web

A lot of people rush into building their stores (like I did!), and forget to do a little research as to how it can be better and what steps can be implemented to make your customers have an overall better experience. My big issue was all look and no buy, but with a little elbow grease and a lot of coffee I was able to figure it out.

Abandoned-Cart-Email-(for-web)

One tool I used to alleviate my shopping cart runners was the Magento Abandoned Cart Email Extension. I was able to email those who ditched their cart and bring them back to visit my store. Plus, I could also see why they left which gave me the great insight I have shared with you today. Happy Selling!

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The Magento Tools You Need to Succeed at Any Level

Stop Reinventing the Wheel

Only an idiot keeps trying to reinvent the wheel – so why would you venture out on your own to make your own mistakes trying to find the right tools for your Magento store?

Phrase

Many others – including us – have already made all those mistakes for you. All you have to do is just listen to the hard-won “wisdom” we all have learned the hard way.

TestAt Extendware, we are out here – every single day – learning what works and what doesn’t work with Magento and the Magento eco-system. We’re testing various CRM Systems, Customer Service Tools, Magento extensions and plugins, Magento hosting solutions, you name it, we’ve likely tried it.

We know it feels better to always try out something on your own, hoping you’ll stumble on some great new tool that others haven’t found yet. Maybe you’ll find the next ConvertKit before anyone else does, but more likely you’ll end up wasting time and money on something that doesn’t fit your company or goals…(we’re looking at you, ZenDesk)

Trust us, we’ve been there…and now, after years of testing different tools, we’ve settled on a few products and services that we believe are best for our customers and we use them on a daily basis for everything we do.

Best of Breed Magneto Resources

One of the first things that we wish we had when we started working on Magento was a list of “Best of Breed” tools and utilities to help us optimize our Magento installation and make our store “just work better.” Now that we’ve been through years of figuring these things out, we wanted to share what we’ve learned in multiple blog posts and collect all of that information into one resource for our community.

We’ve put together our own Extendware Resources Page where we list out exactly what tools we use, why we use them, and someweb other tips and tricks to help with your Magento store configuration and implementations.  We have tested and relied upon every recommendation on our Resources page for at least 6 months or more. Many of the resources listed there are crucial to running our business (or were crucial to developing Extendware to where it is today).

We hope this resource helps you cut down on searching for the right tools and brings you success faster than you would have otherwise. As always, send us any suggestions or ideas to support@extendware.com, we love to hear from you.

That’s it for today, Extendware Community! Thanks for tuning in. Have an profitable and resourceful week!

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Drive Magento Marketing Strategy by Adding in Cost Data to Each Item

Magento includes a large library of attributes you can enable within your store. One field that many stores fail to unlock is Cost of Goods Sold. In Magento, Cost of Goods Sold is called “Cost” and it lives in the Prices section of each of your products.

Cost of Goods Sold (COGS) is the amount of money spent on raw materials to create product, or the amount of money used to purchase a product from a wholesaler. COGS is important because it helps stores calculate Gross Margin by product.

Revenue – Cost of Goods Sold = Gross Margin

Gross Margin (also called Gross Profit) is an important driver of store strategy and should be well understood for each product. Gross-MarginBecause Gross Margin represents cash available after paying a supplier, it’s good to use as a primary consideration when managing marketing expenses. Products that have high Gross Margins, such as electronics, are better suited for pricier marketing campaigns, while low Gross Margin items may be a better fit for scalable marketing such as email campaigns.

In some cases, increasing marketing spend on low-margin items may actually make sense. By combining sales volume with Gross Margin data, you may learn that a low-Gross Margin item is generating a healthy amount of cash thanks to a large number of orders. For instance, selling one bracelet may generate six dollars of Gross Margin, but selling 500 bracelets may generate $3,000 of Gross Margin. While it may seem intuitive that you would spend more cash to market high sales-volume products, knowing the exact Gross Margin for an item will help you understand how much of a product’s Gross Margin can comfortably be allocated to marketing. It will also help you track the return on your advertising spend by product. Keep in mind, marketing is just one of many operating expenses. You’ll want to consider other expenses as well when you budget for advertising spend.

Tips for Using Gross Margin to Dictate Strategy

  • Place items that have a healthy Gross Margin and that convert well in the prime real-estate positions of your store.
  • Bundle low-margin items with high-margin items to justify the time and effort spent on merchandising and shipping costs. Or where appropriate, only sell your low-margin products in packs of three or five.
  • Raise advertising spend for items that generate high amounts of Gross Profit, but be sure to analyze the effects of increased spend on sales volume to understand the return on this spend.
  • Negotiate with your vendors to reduce Cost of Goods Sold. Consider switching out expensive materials for options that don’t compromise quality.

Ready to get started? Here are the steps for enabling Cost attributes to appear on each product:

Step 1: Log in to your account and go to Catalog > Attributes > Manage Attributes.

01-Step-(edited)

Step 2: Under Attribute Label search for ‘Cost’ and click on the row.

02-Step-(edited)

Step 3: Scroll down to Apply To and change the setting to be ‘All Product Types.’

03-Step-(edited)

Step 4: Save your work and go to Catalog > Manage Products.

04-Step-(edited)

Step 5: Click on a product and go into the Prices tab. Enter the Cost for each product and save your work.

05-Step-(edited)

All done! I hope that helps with your Cost Attributes and Gross Margin calculations. Anything that can give you a better idea of exactly how you’re making money is a step in the right direction. Until next time!

Sheryl Davis is a digital marketer at Glew, an E-Commerce analytics software provider, where she focuses on helping online stores understand and act on their data. Each week she publishes practical strategies for ways to rock E-Commerce.


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