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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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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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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Optimizing the Shopping Cart: 12 Steps for Magento Users

T he shopping cart is the most important component of your e-commerce business. In order for your business to survive, your customers need to be able to make their way to the “Complete Order” button easily and quickly. Magento enables users to create user-friendly shopping carts, allowing you to maximize ROI. Here are the best practices for creating a streamlined checkout process with Magento:

  1. Provide checkout buttons at the bottom and top of your site.

Today’s Internet users are more distracted than ever, and one checkout button just isn’t enough. Place checkout buttons at both the top and bottom of your website. That way, customers can begin the checkout process Checkout-buttonsno matter where they happen to be on the page.

Checkout buttons should be in contrasting colors that catch users’ attention. As with most elements related to shopping carts, usability outweighs aesthetics.

  1. Allow customers to continue shopping

Some customers want to continue shopping after adding an item to the shopping cart, and you need to make it easy for them to do so. Shopping cart pages should include a visible “Continue Shopping” button.

  1. Product-DisplayProvide a related products display

By showing customers products related to the items already in the shopping cart, you can increase the average purchase order. There are extensions available for Magento that automatically display products that are frequently purchased together.

  1. Minimize the number of steps that customers must take to complete checkout

There’s a reason why Amazon has established a one-click buy feature. It’s an established fact in e-commerce that more steps to complete a purchase means fewer orders. While most e-commerce businesses cannot implement a one-click purchase feature like Amazon does, streamline the process so that buyers go through only one or two screens before finalizing their purchase.

  1. Implement proper authentication procedures

However, don’t skirt on authentication procedures. Trust is critical to any e-commerce business, and customers appreciate seeing that basic security measures are in place. A two-factor authentication system is industry standard.

  1. Don’t ask for the same information repeatedly

Entering in the same information more than once is tedious, so don’t make customers do it. This means, for example, that you should provide a checkbox for customers who have the same shipping and billing addresses (as most of them do).

Also consider which information is truly vital to collect. While it may be useful to know demographic information about your buyers for marketing purposes, requiring users to enter in too much information is a turn-off. In addition to being tedious, many e-commerce buyers worry about privacy issues and become suspicious when they are asked too much personal information.

  1. Give customers a variety of shipping optionsShipping

When you are able to offer customers more choices for shipping, you increase your business’ credibility. Again, look to Amazon as a model. For most purchases, users can choose from at least three different shipping options, from more expensive selections that allow quick receipt of purchase to more budget-friendly choices.

  1. Better yet, offer free shipping for large orders

Studies of e-commerce buyer behavior have repeatedly demonstrated that many customers balk when they discover high shipping fees. In order to remain competitive, more and more businesses are offering free shipping in order to offset the effects of shipping price shock.

Setting a minimum order price for free shipping is particularly effective because it incentivizes customers to buy more items.

  1. Show customers their savings

If you’re providing customers with savings via special deals or a rewards program, show them exactly how much they’re saving. Knowing this information will make them feel confident in the purchase and more likely to buy from you again.

  1. Allow customers to register for reward programs

The moment of checkout is your best opportunity to gain a long-term customer. Make sure that buyers have the option to register for your site while checking out—and make the process easy.
While many customers are wary of signing up for fear of being spammed, offering future deals and savings provides a strong incentive for registration.

  1. Let customers provide feedback at time of sale

feedbackEveryone appreciates being heard. Providing an optional comments box at time of purchase starts off the customer-seller relationship off on the right foot by letting buyers know that you care about their input.

  1. Use a shopping cart recovery system

Among e-commerce experts, it’s no secret that abandoned carts cut into profits. In 2015, the estimated cart abandonment rate was an astonishing 68%. Implementing a shopping cart recovery system helps businesses to gain back some of this lost business. Sending friendly reminder e-mails to customers who didn’t complete the checkout process gains additional sales. If you can provide a discount to sweeten the deal, shopping cart reminders become all the more effective.

Optimizing the shopping cart is critical for the success of any e-commerce business. All of these tweaks can be made with Magento. Investing in expert-designed Magento extensions makes it easy to create a great checkout experience, thereby maximizing your ROI.

We hope you find these tips useful to enhance the checkout process of your Magento Store, until next time!


Shopping Cart Price Rules Extension Overview

Extendware’s Magento Shopping Cart Price Rules, you can create new promotions that are not possible in default Magento stores. With 24 different price rule actions, you will be able to create much more powerful promotions to attract customers to your store and products. For example, you can create rules like, “Buy a shirt and get a discount on a tie” or “Buy 2 of a product and receive the 3rd for free”. Why wait? Take action now and create much more powerful promotions to make your online business successful!


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