Archive for the ‘General’ Category

Jan
6
2012
AUTHOR
lauren.carey

SEO Rocks! An SEO Retrospective

Friday, January 6th, 2012

Now that we’ve thrown 2011 out the window, it’s time to turn our eyes toward the New Year. Each time we change the calendar, it’s always a good idea to sit back and take stock of where you’ve been—and where you can go from here. The same is true if you’re an eCommerce store owner. It holds even more water if you’re interested in the SEO side of your Internet Marketing efforts. After all, SEO is an ever-changing thing. It’s not an exact science—there’s a lot of trial and error involved. But if you know where SEO has been and where it stands now as we enter 2012, you’ll be better prepared to understand how it can help your eCommerce store shine in the New Year.

Blast from the Past
SEO Jukebox

Way back in 2004, SEO was a different monster than it is today. Now you might not think that 2004 was all that long ago—in fact, some of you might be reminiscing about how great life was in 2004. (I’d question your sanity if you thought that.) But when you’re talking about Internet Years, you have to think like dog years. Eight years is a long time in cyber-world. (Think about it. YouTube didn’t exist until 2005. And how could we live without YouTube now?) In those early days, SEO often got lumped in with IT. That’s because it seemed more like a technology thing and less like a marketing thing.

Back then, SEO was truly singular in purpose. Its only goal was to get a site to rank as high as possible for a particular keyword. And that’s all it was.

When you talk about SEO in 2012, there’s so much more to it. We use SEO to help build brand recognition, to build and maintain online reputation, to create a community of brand advocates for your eCommerce store, and to help find targeted customers.

How did SEO Work? How is it Different Now?

Do you remember when you could go out and get your fill of paid links with spammy anchor text? Oh, if only it were still that easy. These days, you’re much (much, much, much) better off avoiding directory submissions. Back in the early days, the quantity of links you had was more important than quality. But as we enter 2012, good SEO links are a lot like friends—you want quality connections that you can depend on. Spammy links of old are like those people that pretend to be friends with everyone. Can you really count on them to be there for you when you need them?

One of your resolutions for 2012 should be to build a quality link portfolio that you can trust—and that can trust you back.

Search Engines of Yore

It’s a running joke here in the SEO department that we’re going to dress up as defunct search engines for Halloween. (One year we will do it.) But have you ever really sat back and thought about how many search engines have essentially fallen by the wayside? AOL used to be the internet. Now? Seriously. Who uses AOL as their primary search engine? DogPile, AskJeeves, InfoSeek, AltaVista… All in the past. It’s hard to even imagine a time when Google was just one of many search engines. Heck, these days we’ve turned “Google” into a verb.

“Who was the lead singer of Whitesnake?” “Hang on. Let me Google it.”

Social Media Changed the way we SEO (if Google can be a verb, so can SEO)

Think back to 2004. Did you have a Facebook profile for yourself? No. So you definitely didn’t have one for your business, either. There was no Twitter or LinkedIn, either. Social networking was just a baby then. If you wanted to get a message to a friend, you sent them an email, an instant message, or (heaven forbid) you called them (on a landline). These days, our smart phones might as well be extensions of our fingers. We Tweet, post, share, Like, bookmark, and follow all with the flick of a finger. This rapid-fire sharing of information has changed the way SEO works.

Search engines have begun incorporating data from social networking sites into their algorithms. The information that people share between one another can actually impact general search results.

But there’s more to social media than the fact that it affects general search. It all goes back to that trust building thing. Your online reputation matters. So build a great social presence for your eCommerce store, and watch the chatter begin.

Where is SEO in 2012?

Is SEO dead? No. But is SEO the same as it was when it first started? Also no.

SEO is all about change. I often say that SEO is a big, fat gray area—there’s no black and white. And that’s a good thing. If I’ve learned anything about SEO in my time as an SEO Manager here at Solid Cactus (and, rest assured, I have), it’s that a good SEO Manager needs to keep making adjustments. We have to adjust to the way search engines work, the way consumers behave from month-to-month, and the ever-evolving landscape of social media.

SEO is a lot like rock ‘n roll. Rock ‘roll will never die—and neither will SEO.

Jan
3
2012
AUTHOR
Sara Scott

Great Customer Service is Key to Profit

Tuesday, January 3rd, 2012

It’s been said before and I think it bears repeating- customer service is essential to happy customers! And happy customers means returning customers and we all know that returning customers generate more revenue for your company!
Providing great customer service can be what separates you from your competitors. Here are some tips on how to not only keep your customers happy but keep them coming back!

  • Keep your promises to all customers – Make sure processing and shipping time frames are accurate. If an item on your site states it will ship within 1-2 business days- make sure it’s shipped within that promised time frame. And of course we know that stock issues may arise and if they do just make sure you keep your customers in the loop!
  • Communication – This is essential to keeping customers happy and it goes back to the first tip- if an item is out of stock or on back order let your customers know! And if you use a call center or answering service to take your overflow calls- make it a priority to contact your customers back in a timely manner. Email is always the quickest way to contact a customer and the best option because you will have your communication in writing. Because we live in a fast-paced, technology driven society, customers expect quick and efficient responses when dealing with online stores. Therefore, try to get back to customers within 1-2 business days with one business day being the ideal time frame for a response. You don’t want to have customer’s calling in every 2-3 days because they have not heard back because this will lead to high phone costs and a bad experience for the customer. Which means your customer loses and so does your business. Sally Gronow, Head of Communications at Welsh Water says it best- “Good customer service costs less than bad customer service.”
  • Give Incentive – To ensure the return of your customers, offer a coupon for their next order even if its only 5-10% off or free shipping on orders over $50 or more. The smallest offer can keep customers coming back for more business. Or offer coupons or discounts throughout the month.
  • Be Competitive – If a competitor is offering free shipping or is selling an item at lower cost- price match! Customers are more likely to do business with companies they are familiar with or those they are loyal to however, if a competitor has the same item at a lower cost a customer may take their business elsewhere. By price matching an order you gained a sale and perhaps a life long customer.
  • Empathize- Customers may become upset for numerous reasons and even if they seem trivial empathize with the customer. Customers want to feel as if they matter to your company and if they are unhappy apologize and let them know you understand how they feel and do whatever you can to make them happy. Nothing turns business away like a cold shoulder!

These may seem like common sense tips however, with the hectic schedule as a business owner, these tips can be forgotten or pushed aside which can result in unhappy customers and a loss in profit. By making these tips your customer service “commandments” you’ll be sure not only to remember them but to keep those customer’s coming back!

“Good service is good business.”- Siebel Ad

Nov
16
2011
AUTHOR
Donna Werts

The Store with the Best Customer Service Wins!

Wednesday, November 16th, 2011

‘Tis the season!!!! Black Friday and Cyber Monday are right around the corner! How prepared are you?

With all of the sales and promotions that bombard consumers, what sets apart one merchant from another? CUSTOMER SERVICE! Are you prepared because it is here!
The holidays are a stressful time for most. To help capture the hearts of consumers, here are some tips to help you get through while capturing revenue and making the lives of your customers easier:


1. Are you staffed appropriately?
Having enough staff to handle the holiday volume is crucial. The least amount of time a customer spends waiting to be serviced; the less likely they will hang up and call someone else.
2. When was the last time you trained your employees?
Having a refresher training class never hurts. It helps your employees be better prepared for the long days ahead. Your reps and customers will thank you for it.
3. Are your policies up to date?
Review your policies. Are they customer friendly? Or do they restrict a customer from giving you money? When reading them over, ask yourself, would you buy from you?
4. Is your system functioning the way it is suppose to?
Thoroughly go through your system and make sure links work. The last thing you want is for a customer to have to call because the order status link redirects to a blank page or does nothing at all.
5. If you drop ship, are your vendors prepared?
Have you contacted your vendors? Are they ready? This may reduce phone calls if all orders are processed the way you promised.
6. If you warehouse your product, are you aware of how much you have and how much you will need?
Take the time to review your inventory. Stock up where you feel you will need to.
7. Is your site updated?
Make sure you no longer list items you no longer sell or that have maybe gone out of stock. If you expect an item to be available on X date, then list that so the customer is aware.

At Solid Cactus Call Center, we expect heavy call volume. We hire more staff and retrain where needed so our client’s customers are serviced to the best of our ability. We will touch base with our clients to make sure that everything on their end is in order and if there are any changes that need to be made. The happier the customer, the smaller the bill for our clients and the smoother it is for our agents.

If you would like a review of your policies, Give us a call. We would be happy to review them with you.

Nov
3
2011
AUTHOR
Donna Werts

Who is answering your “Click to Call”?

Thursday, November 3rd, 2011

According to KISSmetrics:

  • In August 2011 mobile browsing represented 7.1% of all worldwide browsing activity.
  • 25% (1 in 4) of mobile users expect to access the web from their device at least once a day.
  • For online-only retailers, a mobile site can increase consumer engagement by as much as 85%.
  • Website visitors are 51% more likely to do business with an online retailer if it has a mobile site.
  • In 2010 it was estimated that only 22% of the Alexa top 500 websites have optimized for mobile.

Why am I blogging about this?  Why would someone who works for Solid Cactus Call Center be concerned with those stats?


CLICK TO CALL!!!

Think about this stat, “For online-only retailers, a mobile site can increase consumer engagement by as much as 85%.”  Imagine that is your site and you have a click to call button on your mobile site.  Now imagine that the person answering that call is capturing a sale for you.  That is an increase of 85% in sales?  That is possible, if the person answering is asking for the sale!  The customer must be interested in something if they are calling you, right?  You might as well capitalize on it.

So we have determined that having:

a)     A mobile site is very beneficial to you

b)    Someone answering is even better!

c)     Someone who is going to make sure a sale is made is the icing on the cake

So now you have engaged a customer.  You have them on the phone.  They want to place an order.  Is there room for an up sell or cross sell?  Maybe they are calling because they need assistance with an order that was already placed.  Maybe they just have no idea what they need and require some true customer service.  Do you have a system in place to make sure that customer hangs up their smart phone with a satisfied smile?  You want to make sure they bookmark your site right?  Yes you do!

As with any information or story I write about, I say the same thing over and over.  Make sure someone is answering the phone!  I have spent some time now researching the click to call demand and the growing need for mobile websites (including but not limited to Facebook stores) and I have seen some shocking advertisements.  Ads advising ecommerce merchants to use click to call as an email form to capture information to spam people with.  That, I promise you, will not go over well with a potential customer who wants to give you their money.

What is the point of my ramblings?  This… get a mobile site, get click to call, answer the call when the customer calls you (or hire us to do it for you), and then provide that customer with a customer experience that they will remember and tell their friends about.

Oct
18
2011
AUTHOR
noelle.vetrosky

2011 Holiday Outlook & Good News for Online Merchants

Tuesday, October 18th, 2011

Each year the National Retail Federation and BIGresearch get together and create the holiday season sales outlook for the year. Projections have always forecasted sales growth, until 2008. Both 2008 and 2009 were extremely tough years for retailers during the holiday season which determines how retailers do for the year. 2010 brought new light with an over 5% increase in expected sales.

2011 predictions have arrived and although they aren’t as desirable as last year’s, it is still in the positive direction. Sales are expected to increase 2.8% this year to a total spending of $465.6 billion. Compared to last year, it may seem that this year’s increase is nothing to get over excited about but this simply isn’t the case. Because the increase isn’t as high as last year’s, this means retailers have to get more creative in how they attract customers. (more…)