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Good BOTS vs Bad BOTS – What They Mean in E-commerce

Content Provided by Mayank Setia of Development Partner JustStorefront.

E-commerce retailers have both good news and bad news in equal proportions when it comes to BOTS in the virtual world. Good news is that you can be slightly pleased that the Good BOTS have an upper hand as far as their traffic on cyber space is concerned over the Bad BOTS. But the thing of worry is the inequality among Human Users and BOTS as the latter are steadily overtaking the former.

For a novice user, BOTS may sound a bit technical which otherwise they would better leave to the highly technical professionals. Nevertheless, for e-commerce retailers it is simply essential to be acquainted with the basics related to BOTS.

According to Wikipedia, a BOT is simply a software application that runs automated tasks over the Internet. Typically BOTS perform tasks that are both simple and structurally repetitive, at a much higher rate than would be possible for a human alone. The largest use of BOTS, and the topic of this article, is in web spidering, in which an automatic script fetches, analyses and files information from web servers at high speeds. Each web server can have a file called “robots.txt”, containing rules for the spidering of that server, giving you control over which files a BOT will fetch, analyze and get information from.

Good BOTS can simply be called as programs that Search Engines launch to get their database indexed with the relevant and viable websites. Every Search Engine has its own programs that are better known as Crawlers and Spiders. You have to give due credit to these Crawlers as they establish your business on the virtual world by bestowing you a place in the much sought after Search Engines and Social Networking Platforms. These crawlers are a welcome sight if you are serious in getting the right kind of visibility for your website, but here you need to better equip yourself with the knowledge of how to guide these BOTS to effectively list your website like you need to know in depth about RoBOTS.txt, No-Follow Tags, User-agents etc.

The Bad BOTS are in no way a welcome sight by any stretch of imagination, as they come with a threat of harming your e-commerce operations. These BOTS have gained notoriety thanks to highly motivated cyber criminals who specialize in gaining access to confidential data, such as identity information, credit card data and also be highly detrimental to your business. Content scraping BOTS are destroying the web by slowing down websites and stealing content. Other sites can easily outrank you in Search Engine Results for your own content. This can happen if they have higher Page Ranking, content-enriched websites than yours, or get spidered by Google first.

How to save your e-commerce business from bad BOTS

The attack of Bad BOTS can have devastating implications on the e-commerce companies and their business operations. Obviously, the best a company can do is to use safety techniques.

Apply Restrictions:

The people who work for you can be the most dangerous attackers because they are aware of the importance of the data.  They know how it can be manipulated to fulfill a malicious purpose. Administrators find it difficult to identify the intentions superciliously but can restrict the access of important data to only those who really need it.

The Most Important – Right Host, Right Service Provider and their synergy:

Unfortunately, you have only a few options to be taken care of at your level, you have to leave most of it your web host and your web service provider. You need to choose the right host for you who can take care of your website and its database.

Who knows best about your security and the security of AspDotNetStorefront software than AspDotNetStorefront Hosting themselves?

{See the Hosting Options http://www.aspdotnetstorefront.com/t-hosting.aspx}

If you still observe any Bad BOT activity on your website, do contact your web service provider. They will be able to plan a strategy or solution in combination with your host.

Beware; your next door competitor may not be scraping your data:

The trend is that many e-commerce companies are having their own BOTS developed to pick data from their competitors’ websites, eBay Stores, Amazon Stores etc. Big companies spend a lot of time and money to enrich their eBay or Amazon store by putting in detailed product features, diverse categories, product variants, unique descriptions and detailed Item Specifics which help in better search placements within these platforms. The irony is that their little competitors are getting this data scraped and replicated on their website, eBay or Amazon stores. They do get scrapers to pick data or to plan a competitive pricing. These scrapers are easier to code than you might imagine, and can launch in no time, an identical eBay store as of any big company.

In nutshell, the existence of both Good BOTS and Bad BOTS necessitates you to be selective about your e-commerce preferences. Knowing the difference, worth and potential of each can help you strategize better and get relevant online traffic that is so pertinent in achieving your commercial targets.

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Posted in Analytics, Google, SEO | 1 Comment

How to Retain your 2013 Christmas Shoppers through 2014

How to retain your 2013 Christmas Shoppers through 2014

Content Graciously Submitted By Mayank Setia of JustStorefront

For some businesses over 40% annual sales are done in the holiday season. By simple mathematics, a business converting 25% Holiday Shoppers into loyal customers actually expands their customer base to double in 7 years’ time. With rising customer acquisition costs, customer retention strategies get imperative.

Every Christmas, e-commerce websites come up with all sorts of plans, deals and discounts to attract more customers and provide an impetus to their sales. Once the Christmas season is over, they fail to garner similar responses for their products and services. Accordingly, it becomes imperative for e-commerce websites to utilize certain retention measures and devise newer ways to turn their holiday shoppers into year-round customers.

In this article, we intend to provide certain practical measures that could help e-commerce websites retain their Christmas shoppers through 2014.

Exceed Customer Expectation

Pricing your product or service is in fact the old way to exceed customer expectations; the most important is through your front-line employees — everyone who works with customers.

The key is to create an impeccable customer experience that at times may seem to be above and beyond the market norms. It can be anything like a delivery before the time promised, a surprise gift, a free service, a return call from the CEO.

During the overwhelming marketing approaches of the winter holidays, retailers often set higher customer expectations. It is better to set realistic customer expectations, and then not to just meet them, but to exceed them and make a difference by meeting them in unexpected and helpful ways. Providing better service does not mean spending more money; all that is required is just a little creativity and attention to training of staff.

Be in Touch – In Style!

Holiday shoppers are unlikely to revisit a website that fails to stay connected with them. For this reason, be sure to develop a direct communication with your client. It becomes essential for any e-commerce website to inform their holiday shoppers about recent services, discounts, hot-selling products, and other news about the company. Sharing a couple of great articles through emails with first time customers helps them develop an affiliation with your store. Sharing a couple of great articles through emails with first time customers helps them develop an affiliation with your store.

Intent of a Christmas Shopper!

A Christmas shopper may in fact not be buying for himself/herself but may have bought a gift for someone. It would be futile to remind him of your products if say she had bought a gift for her 6 year old niece. In this case it is rather damaging to your relationship to be contacting repeatedly. You need to devise a plan to differentiate a customer interest and plan your contact strategy accordingly.

A Complaint is a Complement!

90% of dissatisfied customer just do not complain, they will just walk away. Some of them cannot be bothered, some do not know the right complaining mechanism or do not believe it will make a difference. Whilst they do not tell you, they will tell others surely. You cannot afford to annoy a Christmas shopper, whom you consider as your prospective year-round customer. An e-commerce website should take all necessary steps not to upset holiday shoppers to an extent that they have no other option than to blacklist the website. Among others, an online live chat is very vital for addressing customer queries. Online live chat helps improve customer retention and relations as well.

A smart Cross selling strategy

All e-commerce retailers know the importance of recommending related products when a customer buys a particular product, but only a few devise a smart strategy. The crossing selling of products may not always be a well-connected, complimenting or accessory to the original product.

A quick ‘Save for Later’ facility is most important with ‘You May Also Like’ products. When a holiday shopper purchases a product and finds the options suited to his fancies, he or she may bookmark that particular product for future.

Cross selling products of also makes customers stay longer on a site, explore other product categories, and buy something else. Cash in on every opportunity and use every technique to cross-sell, starting from related products, “who bought this also bought,” and most importantly fertile checkout processes. AspDotNetStorefront has various built-in cross-selling facilities, which are not used to the optimum level by most of its retailers.

Loyalty programs and rewards

Loyalty programs like offering money (discount coupons, etc.) off the next purchase, freebies, gift coupons, gift cards, early previews, free shipping, affiliate programs, referral schemes, actually work. Allow them to feel special by announcing that they are the select chosen few. Offering them incentives for referrals is also a great idea.

Here again you need to take full advantage of facilities provided by AspDotNetStorefront.

Those dealing in high-volume regular sales should monitor the frequency of purchase of their holiday shoppers. Plan a “welcome back” deal to retain holiday shoppers who never took time to come back to your website.

Promote sharing across social media platforms

An e-commerce website should have ample social media sharing tools to help customers share what they purchased and what they want to buy online. It is now obsolete to put social share links on the product page, you should rather consider putting a share link on the order submission page like the trick: “See What I Bought.” At this stage a customer is most likely to share his purchase. Once a customer shares his purchase, he gets more engaged with your website, and for a longer time.

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Posted in Customer Service | Leave a comment

How to Create Content to Drive Traffic to Your eCommerce Site

content_ecommerceImproving your website’s content to increase traffic and revenue to your site may seem challenging. How do you even begin to create this content and as a retailer, how do you track what pages have really improved as a result of your optimization work?

This blog post is about content creation it is part one of a two part post. The second part will discuss tracking. Tracking your website’s performance will provide you with the data necessary to evaluate and optimize your work. Creating unique and interesting content will become your subject to measure. So let’s dive into content creation!

The Word Game

A great technique to help you create useful content is to play a word game. Begin with one word (ideally a category keyword) and throw out ideas that come to mind when you think of that word.  You can begin to map those ideas similarly to the image below.

Content_Creation_Word_Game

You can see that there are areas that lead to a dead end like ‘Nike’ (a very popular athletic brand) but you will also find areas that would be worth building out further.  In this case there is a strong relationship between socks and sports. Begin to think about articles now, or just continue expanding the word game a bit. You will begin to find additional topics that relate to your product and could make great articles. Make a list of all the topics you think would be interesting for your customers and website visitors.

Creating a Content Calendar

Now that you have created a list of topics from your Word Game, it’s time to open up an Excel spreadsheet to create a content calendar. Start by setting up three months and then breaking those three months by weeks.

Content_Creation_ContentCalendar_1

Next, create a color code for each of your main categories and begin grouping each of them throughout the calendar.

Content_Creation_ContentCalendar_2

At this point you can start to expand a main category focus into a larger, but still relevant content campaign. Think back to the Word Game with the category “socks”.  Within that category we created a variety of thoughts that somehow linked back to socks. Using those thoughts, add a text block within Excel and build the article titles into each of the content blocks.  Next add a little bit of content next to each title to remind you what the article will be about.

Content_Creation_ContentCalendar_3

Once published, the article titles will allow you to start tracking your target keywords and assist you in improving your keyword list depending on the traffic response you receive. If you get stuck while writing, try playing the Word Game again, as this will help you create additional ideas within the subtopic.

Where Do I Add My Content?

Use the content you create to optimize your company blog, expand your category pages and create topics within your store and even product pages if you can. Your store is set up so that you can place content within your store’s pages very easily.  If you choose to create your content in a Word Document (recommended for editing and saving) always copy and paste your content into notepad before you place it on your site.  This will remove any formatting that has occurred.

Topics: Information on how to manage topics can be found here. Paste your content from notepad directly into the page editor.

Content_Creation_Topic

Select save and you can now view you page by going to www.store.com/t-name-of-topic.aspx.

Product & Category Pages: Similar to topics, you can add content to your category and product pages by pasting and copying from notepad. In either categories or individual products you will want to paste the content directly into the “description” field/tab.

Content_Creation_Topic_2

Conclusion

The goal with creating all of this content is to generate new ideas, identify new keywords and expand from the ordinary plain content that currently exists.   Don’t forget to think about your brand when creating content.  You don’t want to overdo it by adding too much branding but you will want to engage your readers with some of it. Remember this is also an opportunity to present your company as the “experts” in the industry.

Search Engines (Google and Bing) love fresh, unique and informative content.  The more you create and deliver, the more traffic you will see.  Remember instant website success doesn’t happen overnight but continued hard work and regular content creation will pay off over time. You will begin to see your site rank higher and for those keywords you have spent months trying to get.

Next month we will conclude with part two if this post: “How to Track the Success of Your Content Creation.”

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Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Google Dynamic Remarketing : An Infographic

Google Dynamic Remarketing helps thousands of online merchants to turn their one-time visitors into returning buyers. Thanks to our friends at CPC Strategy the infographic below does a great job of explaining how Google Remarketing works.

Now all of this power is available to you as a free app through the DotFeed Cloud which automatically feeds your products through Google Merchant, greatly simplifying the campaign setup and ongoing daily maintenance. Learn more here.

Google-Dynamic-Remarket-InfoGraph

 

 

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Posted in Google, Google Remarketing | 2 Comments

How to Increase eCommerce Conversions and Position Yourself for Holiday Shoppers

We’d like to thank InBusiness, Inc., one of our preferred Online Marketing Partners, for submitting this blog post that’s full of great information for online merchants.

Article credit: Robin Bright, Content Manager, InBusiness Inc.

What to Do When Traffic is Not Your Problem

So, getting traffic to your site isn’t your problem. In fact, your eCommerce site enjoys over 19,000 visitors a week. That’s something to brag about, right? Not if 14,000 of these visitors leave without making a purchase.

Traffic without conversions is pretty useless, and it’s the kind of thing that can keep you up at night. While the rest of the world sleeps, you’re watching imaginary dollars slipping through your fingers, all the while trying to figure out why. With the holiday season right around the corner, you need a ‘right now’ solution.

If this little scenario sound painfully familiar, good news. We’ve got answers for you. Keep reading.

Bouncers and Abandoners
There’s two types of visitors who leave your website. First are the one-and-done’s. They land on one page and dig no deeper. Whatever they saw, it wasn’t compelling enough to waste any time on. A high bounce rate basically says, “We came. We saw. We weren’t interested.”

The other visitor is equally, if not more frustrating. The abandoners. They may drill down two or even three pages deep, but then, as if their A.D.D. just kicked in, they’re gone.

Speaking of A.D.D., have you checked out the new Cart Analysis DotFeed Cloud App?

Now, of course, some visitors simply don’t come with buyer intent, but let’s talk about the ones who do (and this is the majority). What are they looking for and how can we provide it to them?

Depending on where your visitor is in the sales process, they either need additional information or they need to be led to a particular product. There really aren’t any other choices.  Information or product selection. That’s it.  Got it?

Learning to Think Like the Shopper
With these two keys (information or product selection) being the immediate need, let’s take a look at the two most common eCommerce mistakes and how to avoid them. As you may have guessed, the first involves information, and the second is about product selection.

A Clear Lack of Information
Searcher lands on one of your products. There’s a photo, a descriptive sentence and a price. What? This isn’t enough?

Although it would be nice for your shopper to read one sentence and somehow just “know” this is the right product choice, it doesn’t happen that way. Product descriptions should be clear, easy to understand (free from industry jargon) and make use of bullet points and bold subheadings to highlight the features, especially on the final  landing page right before the product purchase takes place.

Each description should also be professionally written, not a copy paste from the manufacturer.  Come on! This is your chance to really shine. You’re using canned information?

Unique product descriptions will not only help your potential customers, but will also push you past the crowd in Google rankings (Google does not like duplicate content). Below is an example of a headset with a landing page so wonderful, I want to buy the product right now, and I’m not even a gamer.

Gaming Headset Landing Page

Hitting on all points:
So, what’s so right about this headset landing page? It educates, provides assurance, and romances the product all at the same time. There’s nothing that says, look elsewhere. Here’s the breakdown:

•    Product use – Capitalizes on ‘total immersion.’ Whether you are listening to music or gaming, this is the experience you are looking for.

•    Target market – Talks to gamers and lets them envision being a better player, more absorbed in the game, and having a superior experience all because of this one product.

•    Key or unique features – Comfort, superior sound, total immersion

•    Ease of use – Comes with ‘quick start guide.’ Specifies easy, one-cable USB connection

•    What’s in the box? -  Identifies package contents. Answers the buyer question, “Do I need to purchase anything extra?”

As you now see, your searcher truly wants to buy from you, but whether they will or not is up to you. It’s not that your niche is too difficult. It’s not that you need to slash your prices or offer outlandish sales. You just need to offer up your products in the correct way. Why do you think brick-and-mortar stores hire design teams to display their products according to traffic flow and set up mini-information display stations? Your eCommerce site should be set up with the same user experience in mind. Making the necessary changes to your product descriptions is the first step to a solid and “bounce-free” visitor experience.

The Product Selection Fail

The cluttered list of choices – This is a common and easily solved issue. In an attempt to showcase your products, you’ve just confused the heck out of your site visitor. Thinking like the shopper is key in this scenario as well. Picture this:

Shopper searches ‘bluetooth headsets’

•    Your site comes up on page one of Google search (Good job! Your Adwords campaign is working for you).

•    Shopper follows the link to a product page consisting of 18 items, short description blurbs and prices ranging from $300 down to $79.95.

•    Searcher leaves without going any further.

What went wrong? One of the most common reasons for page abandonment on any eCommerce website is ‘too many choices without any direction.’ It is a proven psychological fact that if an individual is presented with several options but not clearly directed toward one of them, they will leave without making any decision at all.

Think about the drive-thru menu at your favorite fast food restaurant. Lots of choices. Carefully grouped. Grouping serves as a subtle guide or selling tool:

•    99 cent menu – says I’m on a budget

•    Salads and Wraps – says I’m on a diet

•    Meal deals – says we want more for less, and we’re thirsty (the perfect up-sell)

•    Kids menu – says finger food, lower price, prize included

What if you pulled up to a drive-thru window and all of the food was displayed exactly like your catalog page? No rhyme or reason, just photos and prices. Maybe it’s all in alphabetical order. That should help, right?

Do you really think you’d put together a meal, especially with two cars waiting impatiently behind you? Probably not. In fact, you’d probably be pretty irritated, “What kind of menu was that? Don’t these people know what a menu is supposed to look like? I couldn’t find anything!”

Unfortunately, if your catalog pages are just rows of images, blurbs, and prices, your visitors are likely to feel exactly the same. What can you do? Glad you asked.

Categories and Groups – The Selling Solution

Let’s take bluetooth headsets for example. These should be arranged in ‘problem solving’ categories with appropriate descriptions:

Category Possibilities: Top Noise Canceling, Wallet Friendly, Around/Over the Ear, On Ear, In Ear, Extra Comfort

Category + Price/Top Picks: Each category page should be arranged by price point, plus your top recommendation (with reason) should be in the number one spot of each page. Phrases like: Highest Rated by PC Magazine, Consumer Product Choice of 2013, and other terms that help guide the visitor toward the right product are important here. A good percentage of your visitors are simply going to buy what ‘everyone else’ says is good. This is why a ‘top pick’ or ‘most popular’ always work so well.

During the sales process, the shopper is in a constant state of evaluating and reevaluating products. They are conditioned to quickly move through different areas of importance, such as price ranges and necessary features. By arranging your catalog and grouping together specific items, you can have the same number of products on a page, but a completely different reaction (confusion or clarity) to the information provided.

If you want to substantially reduce the bounce rate on your eCommerce site, we’ve just handed you the golden ticket. Whether your product line consists of 30 items or 3,000, devising a workable plan and tackling a certain number of products each week can have your site sitting at a clear advantage when November rolls around. This holiday can (and should) be your biggest earner yet!

For more information on product descriptions, developing categories that make sense to your target market, or for a quick and painless site diagnosis, give InBusiness Inc a call today.

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Posted in Content, Landing Pages, Product Management, User Experience | 5 Comments