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Feb
11
2014
AUTHOR
Scott Sanfilippo

Learn Best Practices and Techniques to Improve Your SEO In February’s Free Webinar

Screen Shot 2014-02-10 at 5.04.35 PMIt’s that time again, time for Webinar Wednesday!

This month Duane Forrester, Senior Product Manager of Bing’s Webmaster Program, will be speaking on a topic that impacts every website owner – search engine optimization. In his “SEO 101” presentation, Duane will discuss best practices and techniques designed to improve a website’s visibility in the organic listings.

Search engine optimization is an ever changing subject and what worked well for sites yesterday, may no longer be recommended tomorrow. Thinking back on my early days in eCommerce, giant fonts, hidden text, repetitive keywords and other things we frown upon today were the norm!

Times have sure changed.

In 2014, it’s more important than ever that any search engine optimization you do, on-site or off, is done in accordance with search engine best practices. Duane will share what he feels are the best recommendations for any eCommerce store or website owner to take for achieving good SEO across all search engines.

I’ve sat in on Duane’s “SEO 101” webinar before and took away so much valuable information that I was able to put in play on my own eCommerce stores and websites, that I had to ask him to present to our customers.

When I say this is a “must attend” session, I mean it!

The presentation itself runs about an hour and Duane will stick around afterwards for a question and answer session so you can get all of your SEO questions asked by one of the brightest minds in the industry.

Plus, I’ll have a special offer on managed SEO services from Solid Cactus for everyone who attends.

Don’t let this webinar pass you by, be sure to register today and I’ll see you on Wednesday, February 26th!

When: Wednesday, February 26, 2014
Time: 2:00 – 3:00pm Eastern Time
Where: GoToWebinar – Sign up

 

Webinar Host
scott-sanfilippo Scott Sanfilippo
Co-Founder & Brand Ambassador, Solid Cactus

Presented By
duaneforrester Duane Forrester
Senior Product Manager, Bing Webmaster Program

Thanks to everyone who attended the webinar! In case you missed it, or want to share the information presented with a friend, you can watch the replay below and grab a copy of Duane Forrester’s slide deck.


Scott Sanfilippo is co-founder of Solid Cactus and a long-time eCommerce store owner who has been fighting for good organic rankings since 1994.  Today, Scott tends to reminisce a lot, usually about how when he started Amazon was just a river, there was no such thing as pay-per-click advertising and big fonts guaranteed you a top-ten listing.  

Jan
31
2014
AUTHOR
Scott Sanfilippo

Three Things Every eCommerce Store Owner Should Consider for 2014

drive-trafficNow that January is behind us, it’s time to take out that scrap of paper we all wrote our New Year’s Resolutions on and see if we followed through with any.

I’ll admit that some of mine didn’t make it past January 5th, and it’s OK if you’re in the same boat.

It will be our little secret!

However, I have three things that I recommend every eCommerce store owner take a bit more seriously this year:

Email Marketing – Many store owners don’t take advantage of this low-cost method to keep in touch with current and potential customers. Email marketing works if you provide your subscribers with compelling offers that make them want to shop at your store. Come up with promotions that are exclusive to your list members such as a free shipping offer, percentage off coupon, a free gift with purchase and other creative things that will get them to click through and make a purchase.

People who subscribe to email newsletters expect to receive deals, so give them what they want, but don’t overload them so they click the unsubscribe button. I recommend mailing your customers at least two times a month, but no industry and customer base is alike. You should experiment with number of sends, day of send and time of send to come up with an optimal schedule that works best for your audience.

Social Media Marketing – By now I hope that you have a Facebook page for your eCommerce store. If you don’t, get cracking! Your customers and “fans” are waiting to connect with you on their favorite social media sites, so take advantage of that and build up a loyal base of followers.

A good social media strategy should be part of every eCommerce store owner’s marketing plan. Take the time to interact with your fans by posting useful, fun content that is likely to be shared, but don’t oversell! I always recommend that for every 3 “fun” things you share in social media, you should post 1 sales/product related post.

Besides Facebook, it’s time for you to take a second look at other social media sites such as Google+, Pinterest, Twitter and for those who do a lot of B2B business, LinkedIn.

I often find that many eCommerce store owners don’t harness the power of social media because they either don’t have the time or are looking for more of an instant return on investment. While people aren’t heading to social media to shop, by having an active presence and keeping your brand name out there, when it is time for them to make a purchase, you’re one of the stores they’re going to visit.

Blogging – I’m a big fan of blogs, if I wasn’t I wouldn’t have one of my own or wouldn’t write articles for this one! Blogs serve multiple purposes, first it provides you the opportunity to show your readers that you’re an expert in the subject matter at hand. Nobody knows the products you sell better than you, so write interesting articles about novel ways to use them, how they can help in everyday situations or how your products can improve someone’s life.

If you provide entertaining, useful content, you’ll pick up readers who come back time and time again to read more. Plus, by establishing yourself as the subject expert, you’ll build confidence with your readers when it comes time to make a purchase!

Second, blogs provide value for your search engine optimization (SEO) efforts. By providing content that gets reader’s attention and ends up getting shared on social media sites, you’re helping improve the odds that you’ll gain some organic (free) ranking in the search engines.

Of course, these three things all take time and effort on your part to be effective. Like I said earlier, I highly recommend each store owner take these three forms of marketing a bit more serious this year as I believe they will become more and more important in your overall marketing plan.

If you just don’t have the time to work these efforts into your schedule, have no fear! The Internet marketing experts at Solid Cactus can help by providing you with managed email, social media, and blogging services that can fit your budget and help your marketing goals.

We’re here to answer any questions you may have or give you information on how we can help grow your business! After all, like our tag-line says, we want to be your partner in eCommerce success.


Scott Sanfilippo is co-founder of Solid Cactus and has owned eCommerce stores since starting his first in 1994. Feel free to connect with Scott on Facebook or drop him an email at any time with questions about eCommerce and how you can grow your business – scotts@solidcactus.com.

Jan
28
2014
AUTHOR
JustinTroutman

Growing Your Social Media Presence in 2014

As we bid adieu to the first month of this New Year, it’s time to really buckle done and grow your social media presence beyond 2013!  2013 proved to be a fruitful year in the world of social media, and 2014 will more than likely be another huge year in the social world. Social media is a tricky animal, as it can be significantly complex and is in a constant state of change.

In order to achieve results in the social world, it’s important to develop and implement a strategy and framework that will help lead to a strong social media presence! Of course, you could always leave your social media management to the professionals. But, one thing is certain- now is the time to revisit your social media strategy and jumpstart your 2014 social presence! Here are a few helpful tips and tricks that can help you grow your brand in 2014:

Social Media Tips

  • It’s inarguable that social media is one of the best tools available for building a professional brand that has personality. Every social network imaginable is a potential blank slate for you to build your brand upon. If you’ve created all of the proper accounts, but perhaps threw in the towel on trying to manage them (neglecting, or potentially even damaging your social media presence), consider dusting off those old profiles and getting back in the game! Now is the time to make your online presence known and start being active on all of your social networks.
  • Create the absolute best social media profile you can, using visually appealing images, and keeping your profiles polished and professional. This should further echo throughout each and every post. Consider your social media accounts to be the windows to your website or online business. If you present your social profiles in a professional and aesthetically pleasing way, visitors are more likely to learn more about your business or brand, and even visit your website, which could lead to conversations and an increase in overall traffic.
  • When managing your social presence online, consider yourself a “curator”, and not so much a salesperson. Become an influencer of the social world and share original or just plain awesome content! Sharing a balance of original content, as well as interesting content from other sources is a healthy way to engage your audience and raise brand awareness.
  • Engage your audience! It’s important to actively reply to your fans and show them that they’re a valued part of your business.
  • Business is a dog-eat-dog world, regardless of size. Chances are that your competitors are also using social media. Monitor your competitors and stay on top of social media trends, so as to not fall behind. Staying on top of trends and what your competitors are doing is a great way to keep your social presence fresh, relevant and effective.
  • Explore other networks! In 2013, many social networks grew in popularity, like Instagram and Vine; however, these networks existed for quite a while until they finally hit it big. If you notice a new social network or networking tool emerging, consider striking while the iron is hot.

The most important thing you can do to raise your social media presence in 2014 is to be consistent and active! What are your particular social media goals for 2014?

Jan
14
2014
AUTHOR
Scott Sanfilippo

Reach Targeted Customers Beyond the Big G! Learn How in a Free Webinar.

Solid Cactus is a Yahoo | Bing AmbassadorIf you’re like me, you’re probably still shaking your head wondering how 2014 arrived so quickly. Hopefully the holiday season was a great one for your eCommerce store and you have some time to regroup and plan your strategy for growing your sales in this new year.

As always, the Solid Cactus team is here to help in whatever way we can. Whether it’s time to redesign your online store, launch a blog, dive into social media or expand your marketing efforts, we are standing by ready to live up to our tagline of being “your partner in eCommerce success.”

One of the ways we’re committed to helping you achieve your goals is with our ever-popular series of informative webinars. Each month we bring some of the brightest minds in the eCommerce space together to share tips, techniques and advice on subjects such as online marketing, website design, and customer service to name a few.

I’m pleased to announce that our first webinar of 2014 is coming up and you’re invited! On January 22nd at 2pm ET, we’ll be sitting down with Maggie Chow and Darius Jones from Yahoo! to discuss the various advertising opportunities that exist within the Yahoo!/Bing network and how you can leverage them to reach an affluent audience of users looking to buy your products.

If you currently advertise in the Yahoo!/Bing network, this webinar will show you some opportunities you may not be taking advantage of. We will also talk about some exciting changes happening this year that are designed to increase traffic to your site.

If you’re not advertising in the network, or just want to give Yahoo!/Bing a second look, you’ll walk away with valuable information on how you can increase your exposure by taking advantage of the multiple advertising avenues that exist within their search products.

The webinar is free to attend and there will be plenty of time for questions at the end. We’ll also share details on a special offer being made to attendees only.

One thing to note, this webinar will not be available for playback at a later date, so if you want to attend, be sure to sign up today and block out the hour on your calendar.

When: Wednesday, January 22, 2014
Time: 2:00 – 3:00pm Eastern Time
Where: GoToWebinar – Sign up

 

Webinar Host
scott-sanfilippo Scott Sanfilippo
Co-Founder & Brand Ambassador, Solid Cactus

Panelists
Robyn Snyder Robyn Snyder
Director of Internet Marketing, Solid Cactus
maggie-chow Maggie Chow
Partner Manager, Channel Sales, Yahoo!
darius-jones Darius Jones
Mid Market Account Executive, Yahoo!

Scott Sanfilippo is co-founder of Solid Cactus and started his eCommerce career in 1994 when he co-founded one of the Internet’s first online stores, TheFerretStore.com.  Since then, he has owned 39 eCommerce stores, survived the dot-com bust of the 90′s and enjoys sharing his experience with others during webinars like this one, which he would love you to attend.  Follow Scott on Facebook, Twitter and his blog.

Jan
13
2014
AUTHOR
MelissaC

Quality Monitoring & Why It’s Important for Call Centers

We are living in a new era- one in which brands and businesses are increasingly defined by the common experiences of their customers. Consumers have long shared advice on purchase decisions, and considered word-of-mouth among the most trustworthy of information sources. But social media and advancing communications technologies have dramatically amplified word-of-mouth. This, along with the fact that the vast majority of these online conversations are happening in public, has forced businesses to become better. The new paradigm is intensely customer-focused: Quality products and services, and attentive customer-service are critical to success.

So, what does this mean for companies that provide customer support through call center services?  Well, simply that having teams dedicated to customer support is no longer enough. Quality monitoring within the call center must be a part of the program. Monitoring isn’t just about spotting problems and dealing with them. It’s also about identifying and amplifying positive messages.  A simple, “please” and “thank you” can work wonders. Agent feedback and active coaching improves the quality of the calls, and helps provide excellent customer service.  Monitoring also increases agent productivity, as well as the chances of customers returning. Call-Center-Services

Here are some tips to providing excellent customer service while on a call:

Maintain patience and positive language.

Language is an important part of persuasion, and people create perceptions about you and your company based on the language you use.

  • Keep a calm, friendly voice, and smile as you’re talking.
  • Tell the customer that you’ll be glad to help them with whatever they need.
  • Show empathy towards each customer’s unique situation.

Stay attentive.

The ability to really listen to a customer is a crucial part to providing great service.

  • Give the customer your full attention.
  • Use the customer’s name.

Practice clear communication skills.

It’s ok to learn more about a customer and build a rapport, but make sure you see to the problem at hand in a timely manner.

  • Write down details, so you can easily refer back to the problem.
  • Read back what the customer said, or the problem they’re experiencing. This shows the customer that you’ve been listening to them.

From the customer to the agents, quality monitoring can benefit everyone in a call center:

Customers:

  • Improved customer service
  • Personalized relationships
  • Reduced hold times and transfers

Agents:

  • Effective training and coaching
  • Improved job skills
  • Increased motivation

Supervisors:

  • Effective management
  • Sensitivity to service quality
  • Transparent communications

Company:

  • Increased loyalty
  • Reduced employee turnover
  • Improved productivity
  • Continuous improvement process
  • Reduced training costs

Every agent has different set of strengths and weaknesses. Monitoring helps build on these strengths while improving weaknesses, as well as improving agent performance and customer experience. No mistakes + excellent customer service = happy customers.