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How to Increase Your Ecommerce Conversion Rate

Posted on November 18, 2015 by Alexander Diegel

Include an FAQ Section

Shoppers may hesitate to click “buy” based off of very simple questions they have. “What’s your return policy?” or “Do you accept Visa Gift Cards?” The customer might intend to track down an email and reach out for these answers, but you’re risking losing the sale if they have a second thought, or just plain forget to reach out.

Minimize the loss of these shoppers by nipping these questions in the bud. Provide an FAQ with answers to these types of questions. Make them specific to your business—if you find yourself getting emailed by multiple customers with the same question, this is the perfect kind of question you should have answered on your site.

Provide a Point of Contact

You’re never going to have all of customers’ questions answered on an FAQ. In fact, you shouldn’t even try; they’re called frequently asked questions for a reason. Instead, include a “contact us" page on your site where customers can easily reach out to you if they can’t find what they’re looking for on your website.

Keep in mind, every email you get might not necessarily be a question or criticism. They may include notes from delighted customers that you’ll absolutely want to share as part of your marketing campaign.

Make sure the person responding to these emails is friendly, informed and ready to help. A rude or inept response is a great way to turn a customer off for life. Also, include the contact info. on multiple aspects of your site. You’ll want an actual “Contact Us” page, but link to the contact somewhere in your FAQ page as well.

Integrate Live Chat

Live chats incorporate the best aspects of a point of contact and an FAQ page. Customers can direct their questions right to a chat monitor, who will provide instant answers. This is a great way to seal the deal if a customer is on the edge of clicking that “Buy” button.

Integrating live chat into your website isn’t as expensive as you may think. There are plenty of different providers to go with, and the service can cost as low as $15/month. Get a leg up on the competition by having a customer support/sales representative ready to offer instant help to your customers.

Include Product Videos

You’re selling online, so you’re going to lose some of that in-store experience. Even after they click the buy button, customers are always going to have a little bit of trepidation until the product arrives on their doorstep and they can hold it with their own two hands.

Do your best to mitigate these fears by including product videos. Depending on what you’re selling, these videos can be anywhere from detailed “How-tos,” to a simple 360-degree shot of the product that gives customers a better look than a simple photo would.

Offer a Money Back Guarantee

Without a physical store to come back to and physically return the product, worry about returns is always going to be a primary issue with ecommerce shoppers. Again, your customers don’t have that in-store experience to hold and feel the item, so they’re always going to be a little worried that the item is not as advertised.

Offer a money back guarantee, and respect it. Then, SCREAM IT FROM THE MOUNTAINTOPS—include it in your FAQ, product descriptions, make sure anyone operating the live chat knows about it, wherever it’s appropriate.

Trust us, the cons of the occasional jerk who returns something just because are greatly outweighed by the pros of eliminating your customers’ fears. Let them know that their money is basically loaned to you until they get the product as expected.

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5 Tips for Do-it-Yourself Product Photography

Posted on November 12, 2015 by Alexander Diegel

Whether it’s family photos or professional head shots, do-it-yourself photography is all the rage lately. We all have and HD camera in our pocket, so why not? No disrespect to the professionals—they’ll always give you the best photos—but if you follow these tips you can get high-quality shots that will definitely fit in your budget.

Try out your Smart Phone Camera Fist

Obviously the first thing you’ll need to take a picture is a camera. But before you go out and spend hundreds of dollars on a name-brand, HD device, see how you like the camera on your phone. Take a look at the picture below, and you can see there may be little-to-no difference in the quality of the photo between a high-end camera and an iPhone.

If you like what you see from your phone’s camera, you can save yourself a lot of money by going that route.

Buy a Tripod

Even if you’re using a smartphone, you’ll want to invest in a tripod. Even the steadiest hands are hard-pressed to capture the perfect image, and there are even tripods that are designed specifically for camera phones. You can get a decent tripod for as low as $20, so it’s well worth the low-end investment here.

Setup on a White Backdrop

Often, shoots like these are done in front of a white backdrop. You can create a simple, inexpensive “do-it-yourself” method that will give you that professional look with just some craft paper and metal clamps.

If you’re going that route, roll the paper down a long and wide table, and use the clamps to attach the paper to something a few feet above the table. This will provide a smooth, clean base for your to shoot your product photo.

If you’re going the natural lighting route, do this in a big, open room with lots of windows. If you’re using purchased photography lights, you’ll want a darker room.

Use a Mannequin or a Model

If you were shopping, what would look more attractive? A lifeless shirt lying on some background? Or a shirt on a mannequin or model? Not only does a mannequin/model give the shirt the appearance it will actually have when worn, if you’re using a model, it gives a more personal feel to it.

If you’re in the clothing/fashion/accessory industry, getting that item off the lifeless backdrop is definitely the way to go. Look at the two shirts below. Which one would you rather buy?

Pay Attention to the Details

Avoid hard backlighting that will cast shadows on the surface of the object. Keep your lights or lighting on the same side as your camera, or slightly off to the side.

Also, be sure to check your photos as you take them. You don’t want to do all the work only to realize an ugly fingerprint on your lens ruined all your images. Using a digital camera makes checking your pictures as you go along simple, and will help you avoid the pain of retaking all those images.

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Black Friday Emails That Boost Sales

Posted on November 04, 2015 by Alexander Diegel

Another Black Friday is just around the corner and—likely—another record-breaking holiday sales season will come with it. Email campaigns are a proven way to effectively announce sales and boost profits. But what should you send? Take a look below for some ideas to use for the holiday season.

The Sale Announcement Email

We’ll start with the simple one first: Make sure your customers know you’re having a sale, and what it is, because you can bet your competitors will. Keep it simple. Everyone loves sales, so you’re subject header can just be “50% off Everything!” It will almost guarantee you that shoppers will at least open the email to find out more.

The Free Gift Email

Everyone loves free right? Including a free gift if customers hit a certain dollar amount is a great way to boost the average sale amount. If a customer has spent $90 and are $10 away from earning a free gift, they’ll likely spend that extra ten dollars to hit the target.

Again, the subject can be simple. “Free” will almost always get someone interested. You can also spin this so it doesn’t seem so salesy, and being that Black Friday is around Thanksgiving, in the body of the email you can include something along the lines of “Our way of saying thanks,” or “Our way of giving back during the holiday season.”

The Extended Sale Email

Black Friday sales don’t have to end on Fridays. If you’re in ecommerce—and you’re reading this blog so I’m assuming you are—the sale can last all the way to Cyber Monday. Last year, retailers brought in over $2 billion on the Monday after Black Friday.

Not everyone gets around to shopping on Black Friday. They may have missed the boat and will jump out of their seats when they see your “Extended 40% Sale off EVERYTHING” email.

The Black Friday Giveaway

This is a similar to philosophy to the “Free Gift” email—people love free stuff and rewards. Giveaways and contests are a great way to inject more life into your sales than those of your competitors.

The terms of the giveaway or sale will be up to you. One common strategy is to offer your customers a chance to win a gift to your site for every purchase they make. Or, you can guarantee a small prize—say a $5 gift card— for any purchase, with a chance to win the Grand Prize, such as a $1K gift card.

The Humor Email

You know what people like almost as much as free stuff? Funny jokes. Announcing your sale in a way that J.Crew did last year is a great way to get a leg up on competitors and their potentially similar sales.

You can also include a jokes specific to your business or industry. For example, if you’re in the clothing business, a post-Thanksgiving email featuring your stretchy pants might not be a bad idea.

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How to Make Marketing Emails Work for You

Posted on October 28, 2015 by Alexander Diegel

Marketing emails can be a great tool to boost sales. But to do so, you have to do it right. What do I say to my customers? And just as importantly, when do I say it and how often? These tips will make sure you’re emailing the right way, and will help you take your business to the next level.

Content and Relevance:

This isn’t Lord of the Rings and one email does not rule them all. In other words, what’s relevant to some customers won’t connect with others. For example, if you sell clothing, sending your male customers a coupon for a sale on ladies’ underwear is not going to get you very far. Worse yet, it might make the impression that your store specializes in women’s apparel and have your male customers looking elsewhere.

Tracking your customer information, such as gender and age, will help you send targeted emails, which will in turn increase your open rate. Tracking sales information will help you target as well. The above example was pretty simple, but what about a business that doesn’t make it as easy as splitting up your customers into a 50/50 (emails for males, emails for females) group?

If you sell a wide variety of items, such as pet supplies, it would make sense to track customers’ sales. If Susan has spent a year buying nothing but cat toys, would it make sense to send her information on a sale for all goldfish products? Probably not.

Keep in mind, there are times when it makes sense for you to send customers information about stuff they don’t typically buy. Keep this in mind for the holidays, when customers aren’t necessarily shopping for themselves. Speaking of appropriate times…


When to send an email is just as important as what to send. The sooner you send an order confirmation, the better. The longer the customer goes without receiving that confirmation, the more apprehensive he or she will be that something went wrong with the process.

Likewise, a shipment confirmation will also placate any fears that the order is NOT on the way. With the confirmation, include a realistic time that the customer can expect to receive the package, such as 3-5 business days.

Lastly, an email asking the customer how he/she likes the product is a nice way to wrap up the sale. It shows that you care that your customers receive their products as they wanted, when they wanted. Schedule this for a couple of days after the long end of your confirmation (using the above example, send the email on day six or seven). If you send this email too soon, it will have customers thinking they should have received it by now and something went wrong, when in reality the item is still on its way.

As far as emails that are intended to have customers buy again, research shows there’s certain times that will lead to higher purchase rates. Monday through Wednesday, as well as Sunday, have proven to be the best days to send your salesy emails.

On top of that, there are certain times of day that correlate with higher purchases as well. During the workdays, as well as during commutes home, have proven to be the best times to reach out to customers.


This last point is key, and can also be tricky to manage correctly. Email too often and you risk annoying the customer, who will in turn likely tag your emails as spam. Not good. Go too long without contacting your customers and you risk them forgetting about your company and going with a competitor. Also not good.

There’s no all-encompassing guide to point to that will provide best practices for all businesses, but as a general rule, you don’t want to email your customers more than once a week (with the exception of the aforementioned post-transaction confirmation emails), and you also don’t want to go more than a month without sending out your email campaign.

Hitting that sweet spot of perfect frequency will often depend on your business. For example, if you work in a subscription business, you’ll want to time replenishment emails with the frequency of the customers’ needs. If he/she buys dog food once a month, a reminder to place the order every three weeks would be appropriate, to give the customer some leeway and provide time for shipping. This way, the food will be there by the end of the month and Fido won’t go hungry.

Tools that Can Help

When you’re starting out, you can probably manage many of these tasks on your own. But what about when you’re handling 100, 500, or 1000 orders per month? Using an email service like MailChimp or MailChimp will help. Coupling one of those services with a tool that can automate the process will allow you to easily and efficiently communicate with your customers.

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