• Understanding Amazon Product Ads
  • Is Your Online Marketing Agency Really Qualified?
  • Improving SEO With A Search Agency Blogger Network.
  • Autoresponders for eCommerce
Featured Posts
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.

 

#CactusChat is Alive! Get your eCommerce Marketing Questions Answered in Real Time

Cactus Facebook ChatWith just under 50 days left until Christmas, is your eCommerce store ready for the holiday shopping season? Before you fall prey to holiday myths, ask our Internet Marketing experts on the critical and crucial questions that make your Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, and Christmas sales zoom. Join us on Thursday, November 14th for a live chat!

If you thought last year was busy, imagine having nearly one week less in between Black Friday and Christmas to market, sell, and ship. Just 26 days between Thanksgiving and Christmas this year make for a much shorter holiday shopping season than last year’s 32 days; but don’t let that stop you! Last year, many retailers were promoting holiday sales well before Halloween. This year should be no different, as merchants eagerly attempt to snag as many pre-holiday sales as possible.

So how do you beat last year’s performance with even less time? Where do you find reliable answers to your internet marketing questions?

On Thursday, November 14th at 3pm EST, Solid Cactus’ Internet Marketing experts will host a live chat on Facebook to answer your questions. Questions can be sent in starting today through Facebook, Twitter, comments below, or email fbquestion@solidcactus.com.

Experts from our Comparison Shopping Engine (CSE), Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Pay-Per-Click (PPC), and Email Marketing teams will be on hand to address, answer and debunk your questions. Here are some examples of common myths that we’ll also be covering:

  • Do you need to make any changes to your comparison shopping feed when adding gift cards to your site?
  • Why are meta tags valuable in making your organic listings stand out for the holidays?
  • How do negative keywords reduce your PPC budget?
  • Is it possible to send email blasts too often during the holidays?

There are three ways to participate: you can send in a question in advance, the day of, or simply be a spectator.

  • RSVP to the Facebook Event and attend the day of.
  • Follow @SolidCactus on Twitter for highlights from the live chat.
  • Email your question to fbquestion@solidcactus.com.
  • Bookmark this post for a live Twitter feed, which will be posted to this URL as the event goes live.

Nov
1
2013
AUTHOR
Scott Sanfilippo

The Countdown has Begun! Time to Get Your Warehouse Ready for the Rush.

Screen Shot 2013-11-01 at 11.53.39 AMIt’s November 1st and the countdown has officially begun!

As an eCommerce store owner, it’s time to sweep the aisles, make sure your most popular items are well-stocked, and your warehouse is ready for the rush of orders that will soon start pouring in.

In the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving, my team of hard-working distribution center employees would spend extra time making sure the warehouse was well organized so when the rush hit, they were well prepared to handle the increased order volume.

This organization involved relocating seasonal and fast-moving items, adjusting allocated bin space and overstock storage for items we were increasing stock levels on, and beefing up our supply of packing materials so we wouldn’t get caught short.

This was a ritual we conducted every year and one that we were able to fine-tune so well, that the warehouse was able to keep up even when order volume doubled from our average of 400 – 450 orders per day. Of course, everyone was working extra hours and we even recruited members of our customer service department to pitch in for a little overtime in order to meet our shipping deadlines.

Having a well organized warehouse is key year round, but with many holiday shoppers being first-time customers, it’s important that you get their order out quickly and accurately so they become repeat buyers once 2014 is here.

Several years ago I wrote an article for our print magazine, eBizInsider, where I shared my tips for organizing your warehouse to accommodate additional holiday order volume. The advice I shared is as timely today as it was then, so I feel compelled to share it with you once again.

Click here to download a PDF of the article and feel free to share it with other eCommerce store owners.

If you have a story to share about how your eCommerce business handles additional holiday volume and want to share it with our readers, drop me an email at scotts@solidcactus.com.

Scott Sanfilippo is co-founder and brand ambassador of Solid Cactus. In 1994, he co-founded TheFerretStore.com, a leading online pet supply retailer, which boasted $12M in annual revenue, 49 employees and a 20,000 square foot distribution which stocked 99% of the company’s 3,500 SKUs. The company was sold to Drs. Foster & Smith, the nation’s largest mail-order pet supply catalog company, in 2007.

Oct
21
2013
AUTHOR
JustinTroutman

Another Day Another Update: Say Hello to Google’s Hummingbird

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If you’re a savvy internet user, chances are you’ve heard the buzz surrounding Google’s Hummingbird algorithm update. Hummingbird is designed to now handle more complex search queries, enhancing Google’s ability to understand the meaning between complete phrases and word combinations, rather than just specific keywords.  The algorithm update focuses greatly on Google’s Knowledge Graph, which is an enormous encyclopedia that houses more than 570,000,000 concepts and relationships, allowing Google to associate with your search queries.  This change in Google’s algorithm is the largest since 2001, and affects 90% of all searches. Hummingbird is Google’s answer to the changing way people are using search engines.

Are Keywords Dead?

Absolutely not, keywords are still a relevant and useful metric when creating content, but marketers should consider optimizing for audiences and user experience rather than just keywords. The main goal of the algorithm update is to deliver the most relevant results, faster.

Hummingbird relies on a more advanced knowledge graph, which allows Google to do comparisons and add filters, resulting in more accurate search results.

It is important to keep in mind that Hummingbird is putting more emphasis on context, rather than individual keywords. With the ability to now understand entire phrases and questions, it’s not a bad idea to keep this in mind when producing content.

What Is A Knowledge Graph?

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The knowledge graph allows Google to search past simple keywords and links to determine what to show in search results.  Instead, Knowledge graph allows Google to understand the relationships between many things, which allows Google to answer complex queries, like the example shown in the graphic above. Knowledge Graphs is hands-down one of the biggest components found in Hummingbird, and just the beginning of more advanced search.

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User Intent

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Hummingbird is designed to understand conversational language better than it once previously did, and strive to understand the users’ intention and what exactly they are searching for. Hummingbird allows Google to understand full questions more quickly, in order to identify and rank answers to those questions from indexed content.  These types of conversational searches have become a huge driver in the type of searches people are commonly making, and Hummingbird provides much better results to accommodate these requests. As users’ are searching for more specific phrases and conversational sentences, Hummingbird focuses on users’ intent by answering these questions. In the past, rankings were generally decided around generic keywords, such as “Smartphone “, whereas now more people are searching for, “Where can I find the best priced Smartphone?”

Will This Change SEO?

In a way yes, but for the most part, Hummingbird should help sites that have a content strategy and high quality content. However, it is likely that SEO will evolve just as the way people search has evolved. Hummingbird is not the end of SEO as we know it! Instead, it’s vital to continue producing original, high quality content, and pursuing high quality back links. Guidance still remains the same, and the same signals that have been important still remain important. Hummingbird is just merely a new way for Google to process everything to produce better quality search results for you, the user. If you have original, high quality content, and you’re still pursuing relevant, high quality websites to link back to you, then Hummingbird should not impact your rankings in any negative way. Hummingbird should improve your rankings, just as they should have after Penguin and Panda rolled out of the Google Zoo.

What Do Brands and Online Businesses Need to Do?

Websites need to keep providing their users with quality, engaging, and shareable content. As SEO seems to become less about keyword data and more about engagement, high quality content that is helpful, relevant and conversational should help sites be successful with Hummingbird. The three most important tips to keep your website Hummingbird friendly aren’t too much different from current SEO best practices:

  • Create high quality, engaging, and 100% unique content.
  • Focus less on keyword volume, and more on conversational tone.
  • Have a well-rounded marketing strategy that delivers a clear message to your user.