How to Sell Online

The Shopify Ecommerce Blog has over many articles about selling products online. From learning how to sell online to advanced tips and tricks, we cover everything you need to know to run a successful online business. Here are some recent posts that talk about selling online:

13 Amazing Abandoned Cart Emails (And What You Can Learn From Them)

Let’s say you’re running a successful store. You’ve figured out inventory, you’ve got a healthy amount of traffic,…

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Let’s say you’re running a successful store. You’ve figured out inventory, you’ve got a healthy amount of traffic, and your customers are raving about your products. Have you covered all your bases?

Not necessarily. You could still be experiencing a huge number of lost sales.

How? Through shopping cart abandonment.

We shared an astonishing fact a little while ago that comes from a roundup of studies: 67.45% of online shopping carts are abandoned before the customer completes a sale. That implies that your sales numbers may only be one third of what they could potentially be.

Now it may not be possible to persuade all cart-abandoners to go through checkout and triple your sales. Some customers may have never had the intention to purchase in the first place. But it’s worth putting in the effort to resolve as many lingering hesitations as you can, because a significant percentage of them are persuadable.

You can find on that previous post our discussion of the typical reasons cited for cart abandonment, as well as how to prevent it before it happens.

Today we want to zoom in on one of the most effective ways to recover lost customers after they abandon their carts: the Email Recovery Campaign. Then we’ll share the tools you need to set one up for yourself.

In a Shopify analysis of 50 online stores, ranging from the very small to the very large, from clothing retailers to phone case manufacturers, we’ve derived the essential characteristics of great abandoned cart emails.

Plus, a bonus: Read to the end to find our feature on another type of cart-related email that drives sales.

First, what are abandoned cart emails?

Abandoned cart emails are sent to customers who have added products to their cart but failed to check out.

It’s remarkably effective as a sales recovery tactic. According to SaleCycle, nearly half of all abandoned cart emails are opened and over a third of clicks lead to purchases back on site. You have to understand that customers often abandon their carts without meaning to do so, for example because the website crashed, because the process was complicated, or because the site timed out.

Here’s a quick example.

It’s a simple yet shockingly underused tactic by even some of the largest retailers on the web. Stores that fail to generate abandoned cart emails include Macy’s, Apple, Nordstrom, and the Gap. These are big retailers that are leaving money on the table.

There’s no need to copy their negligence. Abandoned cart emails are easy to set up.

First, the essentials

Abandoned cart emails are easy to create, and go a great length to pull back reluctant customers. There are two things that every abandoned cart email must have:

A reminder of what they’ve abandoned

It’s quite possible that after some time away your customers decide that they do want to buy after all. It may take a few hours after abandonment to be reminded of what they saw in the items in the first place.

More importantly, they may have never attempted to abandon the cart at all. 24% of customers cite “Website Crashed,” and 15% cite “Website Timed Out” as reasons that they didn’t complete a purchase. An issue with the internet provider could have caused either, and your customers may still want very much to buy. Saving their cart, or displaying the items that they’ve planned to purchase, and sending the preserved cart to them with a link is the easiest way to get those customers back.

Take a look at this example from Hello Merch. It’s a very simple message telling me what I’ve given up. Better yet, it gives me the link to easily get back to my cart, skipping the registration page so that I don’t have to provide my info all over again.

Here’s another email, slightly prettier but still very simple, from Fifty Three. This one stands out for its visual elegance.

We have one more standout example. Chubbies Shorts has excelled on three dimensions of a great email: compelling visuals, great copy, and multiple links.

Pay close attention to the way Chubbies Shorts wrote this email. “Allow me to teleport you,” “Let’s turn this party up to 11,” and “Word up” all go along with the image of the store run by fun-loving people. Also, note that clicking any of the three links in the email takes you back to your cart. (There are active links in the title, on the main picture, and also on the big button at the bottom of the email.)

Great copy

The example from Chubbies Shorts serves as a good transition point into the next feature of standout abandoned cart emails: great copy.

Think of abandoned cart emails as a bonus marketing opportunity. You take care to make all your marketing materials compelling, and you shouldn’t slack off here. In addition, because of the purpose an abandoned cart email serves, it may be a much more welcome email than what you’d normally send.

What are the ingredients for a good marketing email? An attention-grabbing subject line, great copy, and good images are all important. These next few emails excel on one or more of these areas.

Our favorite email with great copy comes from Doggyloot. In addition to showing what I’ve selected and giving me a link to my abandoned cart, it really lays it on thick with the dog imagery. See: “Don’t let your items run away!,” “Fetch your items now,” and a sign-off of “Lots of licks.”

Who doesn’t love dogs? If your store persona is highly marketable, incorporate it into your copy.

Even a store that has very little to do with dogs features a cute puppy in its email.

Black Milk Clothing isn’t afraid to use a bold email subject line: “WHERE’D YOU GO?!” It also writes: “That gear in your cart is lonely :(” and “To save the day, click here,” with the link back to the cart.

The next two emails don’t appeal to our love of dogs, but have great copy in another way.

Holstee offers the most solicitous email that we’ve received. It follows up its offer to please respond if there were “any problems, or anything at all I can help you with” by giving the name and phone number of its Community Love Director. It also emphasizes its local character with its sign-off: “Best wishes from Brooklyn!”

 

And take a look at this example from Tapiture.

Tapiture makes a different sort of appeal: “We noticed that you left a few items in your shopping cart. They’re not reserved so they could sell out. We’ve seen it happen before and it’s not pretty.”

There’s a sense of urgency. If you really wanted those items, then you shouldn’t delay. Scarcity is a powerful psychological sales trigger that smart online retailers know to take advantage. Customers are afraid that something they want to buy might sell out. Tapiture taps into that anxiety, and urges its customers to buy soon.

All four of these stores are using great copy, in addition to other tricks, to entice customers to go back to their cart and make the purchase.

Next, the great-to-have’s

Every abandoned cart email needs compelling copy and an easy way to get back to the cart, or at least display the items that were abandoned. The following features aren’t exactly essential, but they’re great if you can manage them.

Offer a discount

Most customers abandon their carts because the final price is more than what they expected.

When people think about how much they’re going to pay, they’re usually adding up the prices of each item they add to the cart. They don’t always think about taxes or shipping, and if they do, they often lowball the estimates.

That’s why three of the top four reasons that people abandon their carts have to do with prices.

And there’s a simple way to recover the customers who have been scared away by the final price: issue a discount.

NOMAD’s email subject is a question: “Dan, you want to make a deal?” And the deal is a good one: 15% off the cart, with a link to take me back.

Plus, it’s personalized. There’s a real person, not a generalized inbox, that’s offering to make a “deal” with you. Imagine getting that kind of a message from a no-reply@whateverstore.com.

Here’s another, with even more drastic savings, from Ashley Bridget. For reference, I had $90 worth of purchases in my cart, and this discount discount would apply if I added $30 worth of items to it.

Discounts are easy to create. Simply decide on the amount, generate a discount code, and leave it in the abandoned cart email.

Now, you’ve got to decide carefully whether discounts make sense for your business. You know that a lot of customers are abandoning their carts, but no two stores face the exact same mix of reasons. You have a good chance of encouraging your customers to make their purchases after a discount, but you also don’t want to lose too much in sales.

That’s a fine line to walk, and you have to decide if or how you offer your discounts. There’s no right answer; your customers may walk away from deals because of prices, or for reasons that have nothing to do with them. It’s up to you to discover how they behave.

HTML

If you know a little HTML or can make some tweaks on existing graphics, it’s a good idea to make some enticing visuals.

We all know how important it is to create attractive themes for stunning websites. We also know that great product photography sells.

And again, think of abandoned cart emails as yet another platform for marketing. If all of your regular emails are really pretty, this one should be too.

Fab.com, Doggyloot and Chubbies Shorts, featured above, are examples of emails with great HTML.

For another example, see this one from Urban Outfitters:

Its colors are vibrant, it has clouded bubble-text, and there are lots of active links taking you all over Urban Outfitters. Yes, there’s a dog, but that’s only because it’s part of the product we selected :)

By contrast the email from Fifty Three, already featured above, is simple and elegant. Just because it’s mostly text-driven doesn’t mean that the text should be design-free.

The reason we have HTML as a nice-to-have but not an essential is because the marginal difference between great visuals and no-visuals is not as large as the marginal difference between an email and no-email. If creating great visuals is a a bit of challenge, don’t worry about it; focus on creating enticing copy instead.

Reserve the items in the cart

Remember how we discussed that Tapiture uses the possibility of your item selling out to encourage a purchase? There’s another way to take advantage of that scarcity effect.

Here it is: your customers may be encouraged to go through checkout if you guarantee that you’ll hold the items for them for a definite but limited time.

Customers know that small stores without super sophisticated supply chains frequently sell out of popular items. Knowing that the items will be held for them may push them to buy.

This email from Grove informs me that my cart will be held for three days. It’s still an example of the psychological effect of scarcity that motivates customers to buy now. It’s also an example of beautiful HTML.

We’ve designated “reserve the items” as a great-to-have and not an essential because we know that you want to ship to the customers who have already paid in case supply is short. And you absolutely should. So only offer to reserve the cart if you’re sure that your stock is generous and you can afford to hold the items for many who potentially won’t pay.

One final email

One email incorporates nearly everything we’ve discussed here. Although its design is more functional than flashy, it more than compensates in other ways.

Are you taking notes?

The first thing the Talking Friends Shop does is to offer me a 10% discount.

It then tells me that my shopping cart will be reserved for three days, and offers me the link to take me directly there.

It also gives me a phone number and an email if I need support questions. Unfortunately it’s not directly to the person who will answer the inquiry.

Finally, it shows that it wants very much to understand why its customers don’t complete their purchases. So it created and linked to a quick survey for customers. It’s the only email out of the 30 we’ve seen that asks customers who abandon their carts to fill out a survey. Now that’s real dedication to understanding why their carts are abandoned, and why could be done to reduce that tendency.

That’s great, but how do I start sending out abandoned cart emails?

By now you should see that abandoned cart emails needn’t be too fancy.

If you’re on the Shopify Professional or Unlimited plans, you can find out how to set up abandoned checkout recovery emails here.

In addition, there are several well-reviewed apps that can give you other sorts of functionality.

If you’re not on Shopify, you still have options. These include:

These apps all provide guides on proper use.

One note on timing: We recommend that you don’t wait more than 24 hours before you send them out. Some merchants choose to send an email instantly after a cart is abandoned. In any case, you don’t want to wait to the point that someone has forgotten the items she wanted before you send her an email.

Bonus feature: In the course of our research we’ve also stumbled on the wish-list email. Take a look at the email below from ModCloth. These are quite similar to abandoned cart emails, and also add some urgency to completing a purchase.

Once you’ve properly set up your abandoned cart emails, you may want to test out the Wish List email to remind customers that something they’ve set in their wish list is about to run out. The WishList + Reminder app on the Shopify App Store is a cheap and well-reviewed app that lets your customers create a wish list on your site and lets you to send follow-up emails to them.

Conclusion

You see, abandoned cart emails are easy to set up, and really it should be something that everyone does given the high abandonment rates. Learn from the pros above, and get started on recovering sales today.


About The Author

Dan Wang is a Content Specialist at Shopify. Get more from Dan on Twitter.

How to Build a Unique and Profitable Brand [Marie Forleo B-School Giveaway]

Have you heard of Marie Forleo?   She's the creator of the award-winning show MarieTV and has been…

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Have you heard of Marie Forleo?  

She's the creator of the award-winning show MarieTV and has been featured in Entrepreneur Magazine, Forbes.com, and The New York Times among others. Marie was recently interviewed by Tony Robbins as well as Oprah as one of the world’s leading online marketing experts and thought leaders for the next generation. 

She also happens to run a multimillion dollar online media business.

Through her own brand of wisecracking advice, Marie inspires hundreds of thousands of entrepreneurs to take charge of their success and happiness by boosting their business skills, shedding excuses and injecting massive amounts of fun into each day. 

Recently Marie opened up enrolment to B-School, her flagship online training program for entrepreneurs that helps them achieve success by building unique and profitable businesses - something we're also very passionate about here at Shopify.

That's why we're pleased to announce that we're giving away two spots to B-School to two lucky entrepreneurs. 


Please note we are not affiliates of B-School and receive no compensation for promoting it - we simply want to give two entrepreneurs from the Shopify community a chance to grow their biz with Marie's help.

What is B-School?

B-School (B as in business) is an 8 week online video-based training program that shows you, step-by-step, how to build a unique and profitable brand, market more effectively, and turn your online presence into a money-making, world-changing machine.

“This is one of the top 5 things I’ve ever done for myself. The experience changed my life from the inside out. This is so much more than a business course, it’s a new way of going through the world.” - Lynndee Tonkin

The core curriculum is based on the 6 Pillar Map covered in the first video. You’ll also get advanced trainings in social media, PR, tech, and much more.

How to Enter

Since B-School is all about helping entrepreneurs build thriving businesses, we want to know why you want to become an entrepreneur, or, why you became an entrepreneur, and what entrepreneurship means to you. Simply tell us in the comments below this post. You can also increase your odds of winning by tweeting this post using the widget below.

Two winners will be chosen at 5:00 p.m. Eastern time on Monday, March 3rd.


B-School Giveaway

 

Congratulations...

We are pleased to announce the winners of the Shopify + B-School giveaway... congratulations:

Reno Winston: for his moving response on what entrepreneurship means to him.
and
Hilde Fossenn: for her work with children and her plan to help other entrepreneurs achieve their goals.

We would like to thank everyone that participated in the giveaway and encourage everyone to continue to work towards building a business they love. If you have a business idea that your'e thinking about launching, make sure you check out Shopify's Build A Business competition.


About the Author: Mark Macdonald is the Content Manager at Shopify. Get more from Mark on Twitter.

The Beginner's Guide to Simple A/B Testing

For nearly a decade now, A/B testing has been the not-so-well-kept secret of the web world only known…

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For nearly a decade now, A/B testing has been the not-so-well-kept secret of the web world only known to the pros, the initiated and the curious. It’s the method of choice for startups and growth hackers when it's comes to improving online conversions and achieving growth.

But more and more ecommerce merchants are making the leap and starting to use A/B testing to improve sales and get the most out of their hard earned traffic.

You can use it to test anything from landing pages and web copy to emails and search ads. The advantages are substantial, and more than enough to compensate for the time it takes to run an experiment on your site.

Fortunately or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it, most people aren’t as aware of this measurement tool as they should be. What this article hopes to do is walk you through the processes and advantages of using A/B testing in your business.

But, before we get ahead of ourselves, the question needs to be asked:

What is A/B Testing?

Simply put, it’s a way to figure out how you can get your website users to click that shiny red button instead of yesterday’s green one. Or help you discover if the green one was the better choice to begin with, thus forcing you back to the drawing board.

Put another way, it’s a method for measuring two versions of one element so you can determine which one is more successful. Is the winner version A or version B?

Clear so far?

To discover which version is a better bet, you have to subject both to experimentation at the same time. After which, you’re left with a more successful option to put into real-world use.

This is not unlike your high school science experiment. Except, instead of dissecting a frog you’re analyzing which is the better scalpel to slice it open. Which one cuts more smoothly, is easier to handle, saves time and increases overall dissection efficiency (so to speak of course). The only thing you’ll be slicing with this particular tool is the competition! 

(Image credit Optimizely)

Translated to the web world, the process can be quite simple. For example, you might have two "Add to Cart" button designs for your website. Usually, A is the existing button you’re currently working with. This is also known as the “control”. B is the new button you want to implement, aka the “variant”. You then divide your live traffic into two equal groups and direct them to either page A or B. After a sufficient period you can measure performance by seeing which button generated more clicks and ultimately sales.

Common metrics for websites are things like conversion rate, bounce rate, CTA (call to action), sales, and CTR (click-through rate).

Other elements to test can include:

  • Layout
  • Design
  • Style
  • Pricing
  • Promotions
  • Headlines
  • Copywriting
  • Images

When all is said and done, you select the version that has produced the best results and you’re on your way to a brave new world of online success.

If you think this is all too simple, or wish to generate more advanced results, then this next level of A/B testing may be for you.

A/B Split Testing vs. Multivariate Testing

If you're the type of person who wants to explore your traffic’s behavior at a deeper level, then multivariate testing is for you.

While more complex, the process of multivariate testing is similar to the standard A/B split test with only one difference. There are more variables to measure the outcomes you desire. If you have read and understood the previous section, then you may have already deduced the control stays the same. However, there is more than one variable, which paves the way for more specific results.

A simple example could be changing your headline, images, button colors, button text, and surrounding copy so you can come up with the perfect combination of variables. This refines your results and allows you to be more informed about the behavior of your traffic.

(Image credit Optimizely)

The downside to going the multivariate route is the increased complexity, and possibly the duration, of the testing period. However, you'll be able to generate some revealing data about your website performance.

This can be a cheap way to increase conversion rates. Why invest more hard-earned dollars into expensive ad spending when you can reduce marketing budgets by converting more people already visiting your site? Perhaps you want to optimize your site for existing and new visitors? Whatever your agenda for world domination, consistently testing your website ensures it’s always fully optimized.

You might be thinking, well this all sounds great in theory but what kind of results can I expect? 

Successful A/B Test Case Studies

To get an idea of how you can apply A/B testing to your business, let's take a look at some mini case studies.

Single Page vs. Multi Page Checkout

Elastic Path wanted to change a two-page checkout process into a one-pager. They tested out the process on the Official Vancouver 2010 Olympic Store with some interesting results. Using A/B split testing they directed one set of traffic to the original two-page checkout while the other half was directed to the one-page checkout. The experiment was quickly ended with a clear winner after only 606 transactions. The gold medal went to the single page checkout, which outperformed its counterpart by 21.8%

Conversely, the folks at Crazy Egg ran a similar test but found the exact opposite results. Originally they had a two step checkout process in which the user would first select their plan and create an account, and then be taken to a page where they would enter their payment information.

They decided to add another step and test a three-step checkout process. After selecting a plan, the user was now taken to a second page where they would create their account, and then be taken to yet another page to enter their payment information. The total number of form fields was the same as the two-step checkout process, but instead they decided to just break it out into three separate pages.

After a total of 817 conversions, the three-step checkout process was the clear winner and had a 10% increase in conversions.

The lesson here is that you need to experiment. Looking to what has worked for others is great for getting ideas, but ultimately you need to run your own tests to see what works for your site. 

Fab’s Multivariate Add-to-Cart Experiment

Fab.com decided to test their purchase process by making three variations of an “Add to Cart” button to increase sales. One being icon focused, one with larger text, and one with a simple “+Cart”.

The test had a major impact on “Add to Cart” clicks on Fab. Variation 2 increased conversion by 15% compared to the original and Variation 1, the larger button with the clear call-to-action text, increased “Add to Cart” clicks by a staggering 49%.

Two Magical Words Increased Conversion Rate by 28%

In this experiment, two simple words increased the sign-ups on this button by 28%, demonstrating the significance of measuring call-to-action buttons. Apparently, even the smallest alterations can have surprisingly effective results. The two magic words in question? “It’s Free!”

Changing a Sign-Up From Green to Red Led to 34% Growth

Sometimes even the most trivial change to a website can fuel substantial results. CareLogger increased their conversion rate by 34% by changing the color range of their sign-up button from green to red.

Goes to show fashionistas have been saying for years, red never goes out of style.

“Mad Libs” Style Form Increased Conversion by 25-40%

A/B testing proved conventional wisdom isn’t always right. This test revealed paragraph-styled forms with inline input fields work more effectively than traditional form layouts.

While it’s important to mention the results were more specifically tied into the offer, this case still makes a strong argument for A/B testing as a trend mining tool.

A/B Testing Tools

Here are a variety of resources available to the many professional and budding A/B testers out there.

  • Google Analytics Content Research: A helpful and free A/B testing tool from Google. What it lacks in advanced features it makes up for as an ideal starting point.
    Pricing: Free

  • Optimizely: An easy to use platform that let's you perform simple and advanced A/B tests via a point and click WYSIWYG editor.
    Pricing: 3 packages -  3 packages - $17/mo, $71/mo, $359/mo (Shopify App)

  • Visual Website Optimizer: A simple A/B testing tool with advanced WYSIWYG editing, click maps, visitor segmentation and tag-less integration.
    Pricing: 3 packages - Free, $49/mo, $129/mo

  • Unbounce: This simple landing page creator features integrated A/B testing.
    Pricing: 3 packages - $49/mo, $99/mo, $199/mo

  • Webtrend’s Conversion Optimizer: A tool geared for testing enterprise clients.
    Pricing: Varies

Further Reading

For those who want to delve deeper into the subject, here are a few resources to help you become an A/B testing pro.

Have you experimented with A/B testing in your business? What results have you found? Let us know in the comments.


About the Author: Mark Macdonald is the Content Manager at Shopify. Get more from Mark on Twitter.

7 Ways to Leverage YouTube Marketing to Improve Sales

Have you built a loyal following around your products? Have you been gaining followers steadily on social media?…

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Have you built a loyal following around your products? Have you been gaining followers steadily on social media? Already consistently putting out great content on your blog?

Then maybe it's time to move on to video marketing.

Video adds a whole new dimension to your marketing mix. Done properly, you can use video to add depth to your product’s features and stories, tell the history of how your company has come to be, or explain how your product might be used in ways that can’t be captured in web copy or in print. And that translates to more sales. According to MultiVisionDigital, a video production company, consumers are 64% more likely to purchase a product after watching a product video.

When your product is just too cool, or you want to make sure that people really get the best use out of it, it’s time to grab a camera.

Before we get too deep into the specifics of video and YouTube marketing, it’s important to understand that you don’t need a viral hit to see results. You’re telling a story about yourself or your products, not producing a viral hit for personal fame. Focus on engagement, not on simply getting a huge number of views.

In a future post we’ll share some common traits of compelling videos produced by ecommerce businesses. In the meantime, here are YouTube strategies that get views.

1. Shoot Short Videos

According to one recent analysis, YouTube videos under 2 minutes in length get almost 50% of all views. That should be no surprise. No one wants a long slog through the entire history of how your store was founded or the every detail of where your product was sourced. Don’t rush what you have to say, but it’s better to err on the side of brevity when possible.

There’s another great reason that you should tell your story succinctly. YouTube has recently made a change in its rankings algorithm to favor videos that engage viewers. So videos that are often watched until the very end will be given greater visibility than videos that are abandoned early. Take this as another reminder that the quality of engagement is more important than the number of views.

All the more reason to keep your videos short and to make every detail relevant.

2. Create a Branded Channel

Unless your video is truly a one-off, you should set up a dedicated store channel.

Not only does it look more professional for a video to be coming from an account with your store name (rather than, say, frednelson86), you’ll have a more active web presence. Having your own YouTube channel will give you yet another way for people to find your products. Upload a banner, and your logo, to make it even more professional.

For best results, segment your videos so that viewers can better find what they’re looking for. You can organize your videos into different playlists and into different series. Consider segmenting them along the lines of product features, the history of your store, tutorials for your products, or something else you’d care to share.

Beardbrand, an online store that offers “grooming kits for the urban beardsman,” is a great example of a channel that has checked all the boxes of an amazing channel. Take a look specifically at its logo placed right in a banner ad, and its series of reviews and tutorials. Also check out its advice series on how to be a more free individual; these videos are entertaining and offer one more way to connect with the products. Eric Brandholz, the owner of Beardbrand, has used YouTube to introduce not only his products but also to dispense personal advice. With over 10,000 subscribers, it’s a clear success story.

3. Be Consistent With Content Production

A well-designed channel isn’t much use if there’s no content.

If you choose to do YouTube marketing, it’s best to be committed to the long term. Think carefully whether you can commit to posting regular content, and then come up with a multi-pronged strategy to engage viewers.

Once you decide that it’s worth it, be consistent about posting. Remember, YouTube is a social media channel, and just like other forms of social media, long periods of silence are no fun.

You can decide on the frequency of posting. We recommend a video once a month, or once every two weeks if you can manage it. And once you figure out something that works, commit to it.

4. Use Analytics to Understand What Works

YouTube provides a wealth of data on your video performance. Take full advantage of it.

The data is nearly comprehensive enough for you to know exactly what works and what doesn’t work.

We’ve recently published a detailed post on how to analyze your videos. It shows you how to take a much deeper dive beyond looking at the total number of views.

Look it through to figure out how to monitor your views over time, discover a breakdown of your sources of traffic, and analyze the demographics of your viewers.

On that post you’ll also find tips on using the Audience Retention page. With the change in the rankings algorithm described above, you’ll find it useful to know exactly how many people finish your video. Not only can you find the retention rate, you can often pinpoint the particular points in which people drop off. Use it to figure out whether any piece of your video isn’t really working.

(Analytics on Audience Retention.)

5. Use Annotations to Keep And Engage Your Audience

Those little boxes that pop up as commentary or ‘Subscribe’ links? They’re called Annotations.

Annotations are a YouTube feature that let you put text and links over your videos. These can be humorous interjections, after-the-fact comments, appeals to subscribe, or links outside of YouTube. Used properly, annotations can give you a boost in subscriptions and views.

It’s easy to add them to your videos. Simply go to your Video Manager, choose the video you want to edit, and use the down arrow on the Edit button to enter the Annotation manager.

There are two general types of annotations available. The first are little speech bubbles that appear as interjections or commentary on the video. You can adjust their font, box size, and length.

The second type of annotations are active links. These are further broken down into different categories. You can link to another video, to your channel, to a fundraising cause, or to a particular playlist. You may also direct people to subscribe to your channel; subscribers get notified every time you post a new video. You’re also able to link to external sites, but only sites that you own. You’ll need to associate your account through Google Webmasters to verify that. YouTube provides more detailed instructions for posting external links here.

Caution: Be careful about including too many links and text boxes in your video. They start losing their effectiveness if they start to clutter. Remember, your viewers are here to watch a video, not to read a book. We recommend a light touch: a few note boxes here and there, a subscribe button, and perhaps a link to your store at the very end.

6. Advertise with AdWords

You can also promote your videos through paid advertising. YouTube is owned by Google, and so it’s simply a matter of using AdWords for Video.

You’re able to advertise on three domains: as a pre-roll ad before the videos that people watch; as a banner ad when you’re browsing the web; or as a promoted video when people search for similar videos on YouTube.

Just like Google AdWords, you’re able to select your daily budget and choose the demographics for your audience.

Most importantly, you need to have a fine sense of the relevant keywords. If you’re already using Google AdWords to advertise, you may want to just tweak your campaigns for video advertising.

7. Regular Tricks Still Apply

Treat your videos as you would a blog post, and propagate it through all your channels. So: tweet it, Facebook it, and blog about it. Don’t expect it to go viral, but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t actively promote it. Share the video out on social media, reach out to bloggers to link to you, and just try to find it the audience it deserves.

Keep in mind that YouTube is a search engine, and just as you’d search engine optimize a blog post, you should search engine optimize a video. You’re familiar with the rules by now: a compelling title, a thorough description, the right keywords, and all the rest.

Just as you’d encourage people to follow you on Facebook and Twitter, you can encourage your viewers to check out your other videos or subscribe to your channel. 

And don’t forget: the most thorough SEO work won’t save a terrible piece of content. The best way to rank well is to focus on creating compelling content that people want to link to.

Conclusion

Still trying to figure out whether you should start producing videos? Check out this short guide on why videos can increase sales.

And keep in mind that while YouTube is the largest video distributor, Vimeo is another great option for video hosting and distribution. 

Stay tuned for a future post on ecommerce stores doing video marketing right.


About The Author

Dan Wang is a Marketing and Communications Intern at Shopify. Get more from Dan on Twitter.

The Ultimate DIY Guide to Beautiful Product Photography

  This guest post is by Jeff Delacruz a founding member & photographer at Products On White Photography.…

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This guest post is by Jeff Delacruz a founding member & photographer at Products On White Photography.

If there’s one thing that’s true when it comes to ecommerce, it's that the perceived value of your products and the trustworthiness of your business is often judged by the quality of your web design. And a big part of having an attractive website these days also means having high-quality, beautiful product photography.

But it's not just aesthetics we're talking about. Showcasing your products with high-quality images can also be the winning difference between a conversion and no sale at all. This is particularly true if you’re also distributing your products on marketplace sites like Amazon where they are displayed alongside those of your competitors.

But when you're just starting out, getting your product photos shot can be an intimidating prospect because good photography can be expensive. There are hundreds of product photography tools to help you get the job done yourself. As business owners with lean start-up roots, we understand this more than anyone, and as a company that works with small businesses everyday, we also know that sometimes the money’s just not there. If that’s you, and your budget is tight, have you thought about taking the DIY approach to taking your own images? It’s not as hard as you might think.

There are lots of techniques for shooting successful product photography, but the one I’m going to show you is commonly known as The Window Light Technique.  From someone who photographs products everyday, this tutorial has been specifically crafted for business owners on a budget, and it’s been designed to be simple while producing excellent high quality results with most product types.

Enjoy!

What You’re Going to Need

Gear is at the heart of photography and can be really exciting, but typically it’s the aspect that most people become confused about.

There’s no necessity to spend a large portion of your budget on high-tech equipment, so keep an open mind and try not to overspend on gadgets that do the same job lighting your product as a $5 piece of card can do.  You can probably do this window light setup for $20 or less if you already own a camera.

You’re only going to need a few things for this setup:

1. Camera

You don’t need a crazy camera system. While shooting images with a Nikon D800 ($2796) sporting a 105mm f1.4 lens ($740) is awesome, it’s also totally unnecessary.

Still, if you’re feeling excited, and have the budget to stretch to a new camera system for this project, I suggest reading a post I wrote on quora which offers tips to help you pick out a good camera for product photography.  

When I did the test images for this, I started with my older model (2008), beat-to-hell Canon G10 point-and-shoot.  I love the Canon G series point-and-shoots because they can go full manual and they shoot a really nice raw file. I picked this camera because it’s definitely not top of the line anymore, allowing me to demonstrate that even with modest equipment, good results are attainable.

So what camera do you need?  I would just start out with whatever you have handy and see what the results are. It’s a common myth that it’s the camera that takes the pictures, but in reality the camera is only one piece of the whole.  A photograph is made up of series of choices that incorporates lighting, exposure, styling and post processing decisions.

2. Tripod

Not to get too technical, but you’re going to set your camera to a very small aperture so that you can have the most depth of field your camera is capable of.  

The width of the depth of field defines the area of sharp focus, and to get to that you need the largest f/stop number your camera can obtain. Shutter speed and f/stop are related, and since a larger f/stop number like f/8 lets in less light, you’ll need to counter than by using a slower shutter speed to allow more light through.  

When a camera has a slow shutter, you can’t hand hold it or the subject will be blurry – so a tripod is your answer. If you’re interested in learning more about the fundamentals of photography, check out this video I did with Harrington College of Design last year.  

I realize that most point-and-shoots may not allow you to choose your f/stop.  That’s ok and there are ways to get around this which we’ll discuss in the step-by-step.

Again, you shouldn’t need to spend a whole lot of money on a tripod at this point in your adventure, and there are many, many options out there that are under $30.  I did a quick search on Amazon and found something that would work for $20.  

3. White Background

There are lots of options for a white background and if you’re going to be shooting a lot, you may want to go to your local photography store and get a small white sweep

If you’re not in an area with a good photography store, you can always head over to your frame shop/art store and get a 32x40 sheet of their thinnest white Mat Board, which is what we’re using in this example. 

Look for something that you can bend a little bit to create a sweep.  You can usually get this for under $7.  Remember to look for pure white as off-white or cream, while cool, will be more difficult to make pure white.

4. White Bounce Cards Made of Foamcore

While you’re at the art store/frame shop, ask them if they have any extra scraps of white foamcore you can buy.  You only need a piece roughly the height of your product, and about 3x the width. Typically, a letter size will work.  We like to bend ours in half, like in the above example, so that it will stand up on its own.  Its purpose is to bounce light back onto the product.  

5. Table

A standard folding table works best, and a width that’s between 24 and 27 inch wide is ideal.

6. Tape

Depending on the table you end up with, you can use tape or clamps to secure down your board so that it sweeps properly.

7. The Right Room

A room with windows next to a wall is perfect, and the bigger the window, the more light you’ll get in.

How to Photograph Your Product on a White Background

Alright, let's get into the step by step process for shooting your photos. 

Step 1: Set Up Your Table

Once you have collected your gear together, it’s time to set up your shooting area.  Place your table as close to the window as possible without intersecting the shadow from the windowsill.  You’ll want to start with the window 90 degrees to the right or left of your setup.  The closer you are to the window and the larger the window, the softer the light will be.  

Also, remember to turn off all other lights inside the room you’re shooting in as other light will contaminate the set.

Variations:

You can try rotating the set so the window is at 45 degrees to the set, or try it with the window straight onto the set for a different style of lighting.  Food photography is often shot with a window behind the setup and the camera shooting into the window for a more dramatic setup.  Another variation is setting up in a garage with the door open, it will have the same qualities of light as a window, just without the glass.

Tips:

You do not want direct sunlight hitting your set. Direct sunlight is harsh and looks bad on most people and products.



Step 2:  Set Up Your Sweep

There are a lot of ways to do this, but the ultimate goal is to have your mat board sweep from being flat on your table to being vertical.  You may need to roll up the board to help it reach that shape.
In my set-up, we placed the table against the wall and taped the sweep to the wall and the table. If you don’t have a wall, you’re going to have make something to secure the back of the sweep to. Some bricks or a wooden block would work well.

Place your product in the center on the flat part of the sweep and leave enough room to sneak your white reflector card in later. In this case, our product is a cool Skyrim & Doom toy available from Symbiote Studios. Thanks guys!

Step 3: Set Up Your Camera



  1. Set Your White Balance (WB) to Auto.  

  2. Turn your flash setting to off

  3. Image Settings – set it to the largest quality settings:

    • Set it to raw if you have it.  Most point and shoot cameras don’t have this setting, but if you do then use it.  This file is the largest file the camera can shoot, and utilizes the full bitdepth of the camera.  You will have to edit in a software that reads raw imagery though, like Photoshop, Bridge, Lightroom or Aperture.

    • If you don’t have raw, set it to the largest JPG setting you have.  In my canon there are 2 settings to look out for:

      Size –  sometimes L (large), M- (medium) S- (small)  Pick large.  This setting determines the file size, and you almost always want to shoot it at its largest file size for optimal image quality.  You can always shrink an image once it is take but you can’t make it larger.

      Quality – S (Superfine), F (fine), N ( normal). You should always set it to Superfine.  This setting determines the number of pixels that are used on the camera sensor.  Not using all the available pixels will render a lower quality image.

  4. Set your ISO to 100:  The ISO controls the sensitivity of the sensor.  The higher the ISO the more noise there is.  Typically, the lowest ISO you can set your camera to is ISO 100, so set it there if you can.

  5. Exposure Settings

    Option A:  Set your camera to Manual (M)
    This is the best setting for this type of work because nothing will be moving or changing as you take the pictures.  In manual, change your f/stop to the highest number, which will give you the greatest depth of field.

    Preview the image on the back of the camera through liveview.  Everything is probably pretty dark, which is ok.  Now, switch to your shutter speed and rotate the dial to make it bright enough that the image is properly exposed.  Your shutter number should be going down.  For example, your number may go from 1/60th to ¼ .  These are fractions of a second that your shutter will be open for and as the number lowers it will let more light in.  Adjust this number until the preview of the image is correct.

    Option B:  Use Aperture Priority, Av…
    Your camera may not have this either, but if it does, change the f/stop to the highest number.  This should automatically adjust the shutter to be what the camera thinks it should be.  This may be wrong and you may need to use the exposure compensation dial to add light.

    Option C: Auto Exposure
    If you’re stuck in the all-auto world, there may not be much you can do.  Don’t fret, it’s not a big deal.  If you have an exposure compensation dial, you will most likely need to add +1 or +1 ½ to get the correct exposure.  If all you have is the running man images to choose from, try picking something like sunset. With the iPhone, just tap the area you want exposed properly.

    Use the Histogram on the back of the camera.  You’re looking for the slope to be closer to the right hand side like in the image above.

    Exposure Tip:  Don’t trust the image on the back of the camera, instead pay attention to the histogram to know if your exposure is correct.  The far right hand side is white, and left is black.  In the example image there is a little gap on the right hand side which means that there is no pure white.  Adjust the exposure till the part of the curve representing the white background is touching the right edge without going over.  In this example, you would probably need to add 1/3 of a stop, or one click for more light.

  6. Zoom In
    Cameras typically have an optical zoom and a digital zoom.  Don’t use the digital zoom as this will lower the quality of the image - it’s essentially just cropping the digital image.  If you have an optical zoom, try zooming in as far as you can without going digital zoom.  A longer zoom will remove distortion caused by a wide angle lens.

Step 5:  Set Up Your Product in the Middle of the Surface

Setting up your product is one of those things that seems simple, but can take time to position correctly.  If it’s a bottle, pay attention to keeping the label type centered.  Many times there are lots of tiny movements needed to get everything lining up perfectly.

Step 6: Set Up the Reflector Card

This simple white card is the single most important light modifier we have in our studio and we use it with everything.  The light will bounce off the card and fill in all the shadows.  How you position this card is matter of taste, so try it at different angles to the product.

Step 7:  Take the Picture and Evaluate

Once you take the picture, take some time and really look at what you’ve created.  This is where experience and education comes into play – what’s working, what isn’t working and what can you do to make it bettser.  Experiment with different ways of making your image better and over time you’re skills will naturally improve.

Upload your images onto your computer to get a better idea of how they look. The back of your camera is never very accurate. I suggest using Adobe Lightroom to organize all your images, and it can be used to do almost all of your editing except very advanced processes.  You’ll no doubt need to make some adjustments to the images to get them to look right.  

Post production software like Adobe Lightroom is very in-depth and we won’t have time to go into the details of using it because it’s just too much.



Step 8: Get Your Pictures Retouched

Once you’ve got a final image you’re happy with, it’s time to get it retouched. If you photographed your product correctly, the product should be exposed properly and your background a light grey.  It should look something like the un-retouched image above, and comparing it to retouched version shows you how important this step of the process actually is.

The retouching tasks associated with on-white photography, for someone without a lot of training, can be tricky, and tend to be the weak link for most people trying to photograph products themselves.  So, instead of trying to teach you advanced Photoshop, I’m going to show you how to outsource it.
You’d be surprised how affordable this can be. From around $4 - $10 an image, you can have a professional retouching company improve your images for you.  Finding a good company can be tough, but one company that works best for consumers is Mister Clipping. They have an office in New York City, so you’re not trying to correspond with someone overseas, and they’re super-friendly.  

Their process is simple. Just create an account, upload your images and they’ll give you a quote.

For the directions write:

Make the background 255 white. Keep the hard shadow under the product and fade the long shadow. Enhance the product contrast and correct for color.  Spot product and fix damaged areas. Correct for distortion. Deliver Full resolution jpegs with no compression.


Step 9: Upload Your Pictures to Your Website

Once you get your images back, it’s time to upload them to your site.  

If you’re using Shopify you’re lucky, as it resizes the images for you. You have no idea how many websites I see where the image is the wrong size.  When this happens the image becomes skewed and stretched, ruining all the work you put into the image.  

With Shopify, completed images will be ready to load directly into your store, thanks to some handy software that prepares and resizes the images automatically for you. Some other CMS platforms, like Wordpress, also have this capability.

Uploading Images to your Site for Non-Shopify Site Owners

If your online store doesn’t resize the images for you - perhaps you have a custom built site - you’ll need to crop your images to the correct dimensions and then resize the image.

Step 1:  Find Your Image Size

Images, particularly jpegs, do not enlarge well, so you want your final image to start as large as your camera will shoot it. If your camera shoots a 4416 x 3312 pixels size image than this means that you can shrink this image by cropping or down-resizing (shrinking it proportionally) to a smaller size. The not so technical industry term is down-rezing referring to lowering the resolution.  


To find your image size, right click on the image on your website to inspect the image.  You’ll see the dimensions in two areas. Each browser’s ‘inspect element’ is a little different.  I’m using Safari in the above image example.

Step 2:  Crop Your Images to Size in Lightroom

Chances are your images will need to be cropped to fit the exact dimensions required by your website, but thankfully this is something you can manage easily in Lightroom, but entering a custom crop size.

 



With your images in Lightroom, click the image you want to crop and go into the ‘develop’ menu.  Click where it says ‘original’ next to the lock icon, and click again on ‘custom’.  In ‘custom’, enter in the size you acquired from ‘inspect element’, and click ok to crop your image.  


Step 3: Export Your Images to the New Size Using Lightroom

Once you’ve cropped the image, it’s time to export the final cropped image for upload to your site.  Start by right clicking and selecting ‘export’.  The important part is how you set the file settings and image sizing:

  • Image Format: Jpeg
  • Quality: Between 70 – 90, 100 is typically not necessary.
  • Colorspace: Srgb (anything on the web must have this colorspace set)
  • Resize to fit: Width and Height – match your crop size
  • Resolution: 72 pixels per inch (this is a standard screen res)

Everything else is up to you, or self-explanatory.  Press ‘export’ and upload your images.  

Conclusion

There you have it!  The simple ‘how to take your own products on white photography the easy way, without having to buy tons of gear and complicated lighting’ article.

If you try this, please post an image of your setup and a final image so everyone can see what you did.  We’d love to see the results!  


About The Author

Jeff Delacruz is co-founder of Products On White Photography, a super easy way to get professional photographs of your products for your ecommerce website. You can follow Jeff’s photo exploits on Google+ or connect with us on the POW! Facebook Page.

5 Ecommerce Pricing Experiments that Will Make You Want to Run an A/B Test Today

When we last examined some research on pricing and behavioral economics the topic was very well received, but apparently I raised as…

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This is a guest post by Gregory Ciotti from Help Scout.

When we last examined some research on pricing and behavioral economics the topic was very well received, but apparently I raised as many questions as I answered, because I got a ton of emails that day!

Perhaps that is somewhat my fault — in addressing topics like 'bundling,' I definitely left out a large majority of online store owners who will never deal with that issue.

This time around, I compiled a list of five pricing experiments that I believe will have every ecommerce entrepreneur taking notes for a future A/B test.

Should you compare your prices to competitors? Are similarly priced products on your store cannibalizing sales? Does the number '9' really work that well?

Keep reading!

Is Similarity Costing You Sales?

By now, you've likely heard about how excessive choices can be demotivating. The classic example is the jam study from Columbia professor Sheena Iyengar.

You would expect that since too many options can reduce consumer commitment, it might make sense to have identical price points for similar items... right?

Perhaps not: according to new research from Yale, if two similar items are priced the same, consumers are much less likely to buy one than if their prices are even slightly different.

In one experiment, researchers asked participants to choose or 'pass' (keep their money) on two different packs of gum. When the packs of gum were priced exactly the same at 63 cents, only 46% made a purchase.

Conversely, when the packs of gum were priced differently—at 62 cents and 64 cents—more than 77% of consumers chose to buy a pack. That’s a huge increase over the first group!

Neuromarketing expert Roger Dooley notes that customers may be less likely to delay their decision thanks to the differing prices:

...a tiny price difference seems to make the similar products more alike, and increases the probability that a decision will be made and not deferred.

Strange indeed. Before you head to your store and wildly change prices on random items, remember to take a scientific approach.

If, for example, you have certain items that are similarly priced but have different features (crew-neck shirts & V-neck shirts), you should consider testing how sales are affected when you subtly adjust their prices to be different.

The #1 Rule When Comparing Prices

Although we'd like to think that a superior product backed with great service will continually win the day, the truth is that people will always care about low prices:

A study from eMarketer.com suggests that 38% of people shop online because of lower prices. Forrester also found that 27% of consumers will sacrifice their shopping cart in the name of a better deal.

Promoting your fair prices makes sense, but if you go about it the wrong way, your chest thumping about low prices may scare people off.

According to research from Stanford, the act of comparative pricing can cause unintended effects in consumer evaluations if there is no context for why prices should be compared.

In other words, inviting 'explicit' price comparisons--when a company outright asks you to compare--may cause customers to lose trust in your business. According to the lead researcher from the study:

The mere fact that we had asked them to make a comparison caused them to fear that they were being tricked in some way.

So what should you do?

Esurance offers a great example. First, they explain why bottom dollar insurance isn’t always the answer, and also create a marketing message that gives customers information on why they can charge less: they were "born online" and raised by efficiency, and the money they save by operating with a lean online setup allows them pass the savings on to you.

Focus on why prices are cheaper, not just that they are.

An ecommerce company like NFNT might focus on why their watches are significantly cheaper than many of the entry level 'big brands' (Seiko, Citizen, etc.) because they are made from all natural bamboo.

With the right context, you can make price comparisons work to your benefit.

Test Different Levels of Pricing

According to William Poundstone, psychologist and author of the book Priceless: The Myth of Fair Value, human beings have practically no understanding of intrinsic value--we determine the 'correctness' of price by utilizing exterior information.

In one example that highlights this truth of human behavior, Poundstone discusses a study where a few varieties of beer--cheap, regular, premium, and ultra premium--were offered to participants.

Below, I'll relay the findings from his tests, and show you how different offerings (and levels of pricing) can effect consumer purchasing patterns.

(The following images courtesy of Nathan Barry)

Test #1

In this initial test with the regular beer and a premium beer, 4/5ths of participants opted for the premium offering. This would be excellent news for any store owner, but that doesn't mean it shouldn't be put to the test. What would happen if a third offering was introduced?

Test #2

Uh oh! When a cheap beer was introduced at $1.60, it not only didn't sell, but it made the premium beer seem much more expensive. Now participants were just fine purchasing the regular beer, overwhelmingly so. This is price anchoring gone wrong. If customers don’t want a cheaper beer, perhaps a more expensive beer might work?

Test #3

Now we're on to something.

As this last test revealed, these particular customers were receptive to an ultra-premium beer: 10% had no problem paying it's significantly higher price. But there was a bonus: with the ultra-premium beer now serving as an anchor for the other offerings, the premium beer was now looking even better.

The change in context had made $2.50 seem like a fine price, and this theoretical bartender would reap the benefits of not only selling a more expensive product to a select group of customers, but could also push the $2.50 beer to more customers than in Test #1.

To be fair, you can't just keep raising prices to infinity and beyond--at a certain point, context won't matter, you'll just be charging too much.

Yet this pricing experiment shows that you may be charging too little and not even know it. Are your premium products priced appropriately in relation to your flagship products? Do you need or even have an ultra-premium version?

This may require more substantial testing and a close look at the feedback you're getting before you make a decision, but you should recognize the potential that a premium product can bring to your existing lineup.

The KISS Method of Pricing

We've always been told to "keep it simple, stupid," but this next pricing experiment takes this mantra to the extreme.

In the Journal of Consumer Psychology, researchers found that prices that contained more syllables seemed drastically higher to consumers.

When these pricing structures were shown to subjects:

  • $1,499.00

  • $1,499

  • $1499

... the top two prices seemed far higher to consumers than the third price.

This effect occurs because of the way one would express the number verbally: “One thousand four hundred and ninety-nine,” vs. “fourteen ninety-nine.” This effect even occurs when the number is evaluated internally, or not spoken aloud.

Even more interesting, when CBS News covered research (featuring Poundstone) on 'sneaky retail tricks', they came to this conclusion:

Prices marked with dollar signs have been proven to reduce consumer spending. For example, a 2009 Cornell University study found that diners in upscale restaurants spent significantly less when menus contained the word "dollars" or the symbol "$." In a society where we're overloaded with information, consumers tend to follow the path of least resistance.

Last but not least, they mentioned that 'minimalist' pricing can often go hand-in-hand with selling premium products, because it nudges customers to focus on the value and not on the price:

Expensive restaurants usually have minimalistic prices like "24" -- meaning $24.00 -- because they want you to focus on the food and not the price.

This is a pretty easy test to run, and won't require any "real" change in prices. Perhaps minimalist pricing is just what your product pages need!

The Merits of the Number 9

It would be nice to sell your reasonably priced $40 product for exactly $40, but sometimes it pays to play the pricing game.

There is no better example of this then the classic '9' pricing scheme: we've all seen this one at one point or another and have wondered, "Does charging $39 really move more products than $40?'

According to one research study published in Quantitative Marketing and Economics, the answer is a yes. Prices ending in 9 were so effective they were able to outsell even lower prices for the exact same product.

Women's clothing was used in one test, with a $35 price and a $39 price. They found that the price ending in 9 outperformed the lower price point by 24%.

For a split second while reading the study, I thought the number 9 might have met its match. Sale prices—“Was $60, now only $45!”—were able to beat out the number 9.

However, when the number 9 was later included in the sales price comparisons, it again outperformed lower price points. So if the following options were compared:

  1. Was $60, now only $45!

  2. Was $60, now only $49!

...the bottom sale price would outsell the top one, even though the top price was actually less expensive. You can read more about this phenomenon in this great post by Peep Laja.

Apparently ecommerce store owners should ignore the power of '9' at their own risk!

What pricing strategies have you found to be effective for your business? Let us know in the comments! 


About The Author

Gregory Ciotti is the marketing strategist at Help Scout, the email support software that's perfect for your ecommerce business. Find out why Help Scout is better than regular email for customer service by clicking here.

 

4 Principles of Social Proof Every Ecommerce Store Owner Needs to Know

Social proof, one of Cialdini's famous six pillars of influence, has become a very important part of selling…

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This is guest post by Gregory Ciotti from Help Scout.

Social proof, one of Cialdini's famous six pillars of influence, has become a very important part of selling given the open nature of the web.

More and more often, we look to the opinions of others and additional "signals" to evaluate our potential purchases. Perhaps this is best expressed in the rise of the online review:

  • Over 70% of Americans say they look at product reviews before making a purchase.
  • Nearly 63% of consumers indicate they are more likely to purchase from a site if it has product ratings and reviews.

But social proof isn't as simple as slapping up a 5-star rating system on your website.

There are a few principles for social proof that marketers and entrepreneurs should never forget, and today we'll go over how they can impact your sales.

The Influence Mix of Online Reviews

Despite the growing importance of online reviews, they aren't treated equally across all industries.

According to findings published on the Harvard Business Review, there is an influence mix that applies across product categories, on a sliding 'PMO' scale:

  • P: a consumer's prior preferences, beliefs, and experiences (ex: buying a particular brand of milk over and over)
  • M: the value of information from marketers (ex: you bought a GoPro camera thanks to a compelling marketing campaign)
  • O: the importance of other people's opinions (here are where online reviews matter)

Some products are more dependent on P than O. For instance, you aren't likely to check out reviews before you buy a certain brand of orange juice, you're just going to go off of your prior preferences.

As the author's would put it:

"The greater the reliance on one source, the lower the need for the others. If the impact of O on a purchase decision about a food processor goes up, the influence of M or P, or both, goes down."

Click here to view a larger version of the above image.

Ecommerce store owners need to have a general sense of where their products fall on this scale before they proceed with reviews and ratings.

Let's take luxury clothing - I'm a customer of Viberg Boot, and I can tell you that I don't give a damn about ratings before I make a purchase.

Why? Viberg is a company that bases its entire brand strategy around the quality materials and handmade nature of their footwear. The issue of quality is a non-issue given their reputation, so adding reviews would really be a distraction.

Rather than stars, I'd like to see a personal account of ownership. Maybe a customer interview with someone who's owned the boots for over 10 years. That would fit with what Viberg was selling.

Conversely, in an industry like electronics, where there is very little brand loyalty, reviews would be an important part of the buying experience - I don't know how this or that printer performs, and I'm not buying off of previous experience, I just want to know what others think.

So before you throw up ratings, social widgets, or testimonials, think about what your prospective customers actually care about when it comes to social proof.

Get it While It's Hot

One important way that social proof is used is in convincing people that items are moving fast.

In some sense, it's the most authentic and effective form of urgency that entrepreneurs can us.

Have you ever wondered why some ecommerce stores keep up listings for items that are sold out? If they aren't available for sale, why not just remove them?

In certain instances, like for Stalward's limited number of handmade ties, the "Sold Out" sign serves as a subtle push for prospective customers to jump on a style they've had their eye on - because it's apparent that other items are selling fast.

Site's like ScoreBig show recent purchases on the sidelines (pun intended), reassuring customers that people are buying, and reminding them that the tickets available won't last forever.

GetElastic covered a great example of implementing a live version of this into ecommerce category pages:

Backcountry has built a unique feature into its category pages – “Bubblelicious.” Shoppers can see instant updates when an item has been added to cart or purchased.

Similar to Amazon's famous "Only 2 left" red text, with an added kick of letting customers watch it happen live.

Certainly an effective way to get those on the fence post to make a move, so be sure to investigate how you can use social proof to reassure and nudge customers towards not waiting on a purchase they've had their eye on.

Put a Face to the Name

Talk to any business owner about "appearing trustworthy" and they take it as a personal attack. Trustworthy people assume the world knows that they are trustworthy.

But the truth is that just because you are telling the truth doesn’t mean customers are going to believe you.

The same applies to "too good to be true" social proof.

One way to add legitimacy to the praise your receive is to put a face to the kind words you've received, where applicable.

Research on "truthiness" revealed that adding images (even nonsensical images) increased perceived trustworthiness among all participants. Additional research has shown that putting a face to the name can increase empathy between strangers.

Obviously, there are certain instances where this tactic is best suited.

ModCloth offers an incredible example through their Style Gallery section, which shows real customers in outfits they've assembled:

Sites like Fab will take a simpler approach by simply putting photos for any praise that they'll use. On many pages, they'll add a buyer or designer's comments on a certain selection or collection, which is a great way to increase consumer trust.

This really applies to business of all kinds, as it takes very minimal effort to get permission to use a photo, and the benefits of seeing a friendly face next to kind words are certainly worth the effort.

Lots of people ask me questions regarding how to get images, but it's often as easy as a simple email. If you've ever had a happy customer contact you, send a simple follow-up message stating, "Hey ____, we appreciated your kind words so much that we'd love to feature a quote from you on our site! Would we have permission to share your statements along with a small photo of you?"

Most customers will be happy to oblige.

No Proof is Better than Low Proof

As P.T. Barnum was known for saying:

"Nothing draws a crowd quite like a crowd."

It's important to remember that the lack of the crowd can often have an inverse effect. In other words, having low signs of social proof can be even worse than not listing social proof at all.

This is especially apparent through the superfluous use of social media buttons.

The folks at Visual Website Optimizer recently published a case study involving these now ubiquitous distractions on an ecommerce purchase page.

Taloon.com, after removing their Twitter and Facebook buttons, found a 11.9% higher "add to cart" conversion rate with a 95% statistical confidence.

These findings have been replicated elsewhere, and it's been argued by Rand Fishkin of Moz that no proof > low proof due to how stagnant social signals can be misinterpreted:

  • Your product or brand may appear untrustworthy.
  • Your business may appear to be too new, and might scare away risk averse customers.
  • Your product pages now look unpopular thanks to a silly Facebook button; is this just because people don't often share product pages, or because your product sucks? Customers won't know.

This creates a very easy choice for you — if you're going to use social proof on certain pages, it either has to be "hell yeah!" or no, meaning it should either wow customers or shouldn't exist at all.


About the Author: Gregory Ciotti is the marketing strategist at Help Scout, the invisible email support software that's perfect for ecommerce store owners who don't want to deal with help desk headaches. Find out why your business will love Help Scout by clicking here.

50 Ways to Make Your First Sale

You've got a product. You've taken product photos and written product descriptions. You've designed your website, populated it…

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You've got a product. You've taken product photos and written product descriptions. You've designed your website, populated it with great content and launched it to the world.

Now what?

Now it's time to sit back and watch the traffic and sales come flooding in, right?

If only it were that easy.

For many first time ecommerce entrepreneurs, it can be frustrating to work so hard getting your business ready only to to hear crickets when you finally launch.

Well that's exactly what our latest guide aims to fix. With the help of Sean Work, Director of Marketing at KISSmetrics, we put together this comprehensive guide to help you make your first sale. You can read this guide like a book from start to finish, or feel free to jump into whichever chapter interests you.


Here's what you'll learn in the guide:

Jump to a specific chapter:

  • Introduction: A handy table of contents and overview of what you'll learn in the guide.
Social Media
  • 1. Make Friends on Facebook: Learn how to get started with Facebook marketing - everything from crafting strategic status updates to creating a compelling Facebook page for your store.
  • 2. Network on LinkedIn: Find out how to strategically connect with people, complete your profile, what to post and how to leverage LinkedIn groups.
  • 3. Get Busy on Youtube: Discover how to sell with video, what video software to use, what kind of video content to produce and how to get started with YouTube analytics. 
  • 4. Spark Conversations on Twitter: If you're new to Twitter then this section is for you. Learn how to get started setting up your account and how to strategically engage potential followers and customers. 
  • 5. Inspire with Pinterest: Pinterest can be a huge driver of traffic. In this chapter we show you how to integrate a 'Pin it' button on your site and start inspiring potential customers to start following your pins. 
  • 6. Work It on Instagram: Instagram is quickly becoming one of the best platforms for online store owners to build an audience with. Discover how to post photos that drive engagement, run contests and more. 
  • 7. Tap Into Tumblr: Here's where we show you everything you need to know to get started with Tumblr, from picking a theme, adding content and building links back to your store. 
Search Engine Marketing
  • 8. Stand Out on Comparison Shopping Engines: Price driven shoppers often use comparison shopping engines to make a purchase these days. Here, you'll learn how to leverage these website and get your products in front of more people. 
  • 9. Get On Google Places: Google Places is Google’s answer to the good old yellow pages, and yes even if you haven't made a dime, you're going to want to be found on Google Places. In this chapter we show you how.
  • 10. Leverage the Yahoo! Bing Network: Learn how to use paid search ads on the Yahoo! Bing Network to drive targeted traffic to your store. 
  • 11. Get Search Engine Optimized (SEO): Search engine optimization (SEO) is often considered by some as the holy grail of Internet marketing. In this chapter we show you how to get your site to rank higher in Google. 
  • 12. Learn from Web Analytics: Analytics (for short) will show you what your customers are doing on your site, on which web pages they leave your site, and in some cases how long they have been a customer. 
  • 13. Be Accessible on Mobile Devices: One way to gain an edge on your competition and be accessible by consumers on whatever device they decide to use is to make sure your current website is mobile friendly or create a separate mobile site.
PR
  • 14. Get Product ReviewsThis is the online guerrilla marketing method of PR. There is a unique benefit of getting product reviews from other websites that helps increase brand credibility and trustworthiness in addition to word-of-mouth marketing.
  • 15. Write a Press Release: Learn how to be newsworthy and craft a press release that rises above the noise. 
  • 16. Pull a PR StuntPR stunts are the ancient version of the viral video. They are loads of fun and help bring tons of attention to your brand if executed well.
  • 17. Sell a Unique and Newsworthy ProductStanding out from the crowd is one of the best ways to move merchandise. Especially if you’re in a crowded space where your competitors sell similar, if not the exact same products.
  • 18. Interview an Industry InfluencerA great way to produce easy and very exceptional blog content is to interview someone important and well known in your industry.
Content Marketing
  • 19. Write a Guest PostOne of the most high-impact ways to get some internet buzz for your business is to write guest blog posts for various websites that are relevant to your niche.
  • 20. Create a Viral Video: Discover the five characteristics of viral videos and how to create your own. 
  • 21. Start Your Own BlogStarting a successful blog can be the easiest and cheapest way to attract thousands of new customers. All it comes down to is how well you can create valuable content for your readers.
  • 22. Write a Controversial Blog PostCreating controversy is one way to get your brand to race out in front of the masses and garner some serious consumer attention. But it has to be done carefully and artfully. 
  • 23. Create a Youtube ChannelHaving a YouTube channel can be one of the strongest marketing and sales tools you’ll ever own. Here's how to get started.
  • 24. Build Your Email ListThere's no question how important email marketing is when it comes to adding to your bottom line, in fact, research shows that for every dollar spent on email marketing, companies made on average $40 back.
Paid Ads
  • 25. Advertise on FacebookThis is where the power of your Facebook page will become fully realized, especially when it comes to helping you generate sales. 
  • 26. Pay for Google AdwordsNo other advertising network will give you faster sales results than Adwords. In this chapter we show you how to get started using the platform and generating targeted traffic to your site. 
  • 27. Buy Banner AdsBanner ads can work magic when it comes to selling products online, but like every form of marketing, they have to be done right.
  • 28. Promote Your Tweets on Twitter: Learn how to leverage Twitter's advertising platform to get your content in front of more people and increase your engagement on Twitter. 
Take it Offline
  • 29. Get a Booth at a Flea Market or Farmer's Market: Nothing beats speaking to potential customers one-on-one and selling to them directly, especially early on when you're still building your company and you'll do next to anything to get that first sale. 
  • 30. Engage Your Local Business NetworkIn this chapter we’re going to get into the nitty-gritty of how to effectively network in the real world to get results, and by results we mean sales for your business.
  • 31. Say Hello to Strangers with Meetup.com: Learn how to find meetups in your area and use them to help make important industry connections and ultimately promote your brand. 
  • 32. Sell Wholesale to Other Retailers: Here's where you get an introduction on distributing your own products (or even other products from other companies) to other retailers. 
  • 33. Take Your Business On the RoadA fun and productive way to see the rest of your country while looking to make that first sale is to showcase your business in other locations.
  • 34. Deploy a Sales TeamSometimes getting that first sale is a quick endeavour but sustaining growth in sales quickly makes you realize how tough it can be to be a one-person sales team, especially if your product requires a little more convincing than traditional consumer goods.
Traditional Advertising
  • 35. Get Going with TradeshowsTrade shows can have a profound impact on your business, especially if you’re the manufacturer or source of your own products.
  • 36. Go Door to DoorThis might be one of the most overlooked startup techniques known to earthlings. But it actually can work for digital, subscription and physical products. 
  • 37. Use Print AdsIn the age of online advertising where you can calculate your return on investment to the penny, suggesting print advertising may seem quite unusual. That's exactly why we're suggesting it. 
  • 38. Sponsor an EventSponsoring events is an age old form of marketing that can be really hit or miss. In this chapter we show how to make sure you get a solid ROI for your sponsorship dollars. 
  • 39. Distribute FlyersEven with the popularity of internet marketing, flyers and direct mail are still effective ways to make sales, especially that tricky and often allusive first one.
  • 40. Advertise OutdoorsIf you're really hungry for that first sale and traditional online methods aren't yielding any results, offline methods like billboards can be your holy grail.
Everything Else
  • 41. Tell Family and Friends: Your network of friends and family will mostly likely be your easiest first sales. You may not want to sell to them, but this is powerful way to kickstart word of mouth for your business. 
  • 42. Participate on Forums: Participating in online forums can be an amazing way to get your business in front of the right audience. Here's how to get started.
  • 43. Create a Listing on CraigslistPerhaps the easiest way to launch any business is through Craigslist. Started in 1995 by Craig Newmark, Craigslist has been providing the world a (nearly) free marketplace to sell just about anything.
  • 44. Give Out Coupon CodesCoupon codes can be a powerful tool to attract new and repeat customers. However, it’s important to make sure discounting fits into your overall brand strategy. 
  • 45. Get Others Involved with Affiliate MarketingAffiliate marketing can be an amazing sales channel for an online retailer. A lot of your success has to do with the type of products you sell and how well you pay your affiliates.
  • 46. Build Relationships with Suppliers: Have reliable supplies can make your break your business. In this chapter we show you the importance of supplier relationships and how they con contribute to your sales and bottom line.
  • 47. Demonstrate Trust and SecurityA major hurdle all small online retail businesses have to face when they are just starting out is getting consumers to trust doing business with them. Discover how to increase your sales by making sure your website appears trustworthy.
  • 48. Target Different Languages and CountriesTargeting a user base which speaks a different language or lives in a different geographic region is a powerful strategy to not only get your first sale, but take your business to the next level.
  • 49. Delegate and Get Things DoneWhen you're first starting out, it feels like the entire weight of the world is on your shoulders. Here's where we show you how to decide which tasks to do yourself and which ones you should be delegating in order to run your business efficiently and maximize sales. 
  • 50. Be Persistent: When it's all said and done, sometime it's takes hard work and persistence to make that first sale. In this chapter we show you some strategies to make sure your persistence pays off. 

Click here to read 50 Ways to Make Your First Sale now.

Already running a successful ecommerce business? How did you get your first few sales? Let us know in the comments and help those who are just starting out. 

Feel like sharing? Tweet this guide.

8 New Year's Resolutions Every Ecommerce Entrepreneur Should Make

It’s that time of year and yes we know you probably have a ton of personal resolutions revolving…

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It’s that time of year and yes we know you probably have a ton of personal resolutions revolving around health, fitness, relationships, and self-fulfillment, but let’s take a moment to shed some light on what you could focus on to improve your business. 

Maybe you've already started, which puts you ahead of the curve, but for everyone else who’s curious about putting together some goals for their online store, we thought we’d put together this handy list. Feel free to pick and choose your favorites and focus on the ones that matter most to your business.

So, let’s start with “As a ecommerce entrepreneur, you resolve to…”

1. Refresh Your Product Photography

Here’s a fun fact for you, a recent study demonstrated that larger product images can increase online sales by up to 9%, and that’s just the size of the images we’re talking about. From lower bounce rates to visitors browsing multiple product pages and spending more time on them, beautiful product photography can be an ecommerce game changer.

You’ll want to consider things like the background, lighting, color that you're using as well as how your product is portrayed in real-life scenarios to avoid losing sales just because of your photography. Then there’s optimizing images and product pages to make them more searchable, shareable, and attractive. Have a look at the Greats Brand's product pages to see what we mean. Not only do they do a great job of showcasing their footwear, but they also go so far as to show what's inside their sneakers.

Lastly, think about about increasing the quantity of images you show on a product page to flaunt your wares from more than one perspective. We also strongly suggest incorporating user-generated images taken with services like Instagram using a tool like Olapic. That way not only do you demonstrate social proof, but you then give browsers insight into how your product looks like on a real-life customer, which in turn enables them to envision it on themselves.

2. Segment Your Mailing List 

If you’re like most businesses, chances are more often than not that you end up sending the exact same email to every single contact on your mailing list. If you take a moment to reflect, you’ll end up realizing that doing so is probably no better than sending out a direct mail campaign and gauging success based on how many coupons were used or how many surveys were filled out.

That’s just not going to cut it. If there’s one things people hate about their inbox, it’s the amount of irrelevant email they get from a list they have no idea they had signed up to. Also, consider the diversity of subscribers in your list, there’s prospective customers, existing customers, new customers, and former customers.

Each one deserves a unique and tailored email strategy and that’s just the start. You’ll soon find yourself with the ability to segment based on things like customer type, interests, location, and so much more. So stop spamming and start segmenting, trust us, it’ll be worth it’s weight in gold. Have a look at Nordstrom's segmented email sent to only their male customers below.

 

3. Nail Your Unique Selling Proposition 

This is the equivalent to answering the age-old question “Who am I?”, except, when you do it for your business, you end up building really strong branding and content that showcases what sets you apart from your competition. That’s what a Unique Selling Proposition (USP) is all about, giving you that edge to sustain your business in the short-term and thrive in the long-run. 

This could be anything from your product, origin story, value statement, manufacturing process, shipping or return policy, pricing, or design. Really reflect on how you want to be known and anchor that desire with something that you feel can be a cornerstone foundation for your brand. One of our favourite USPs has to be that of Huit Denim Co., a jeans brand that prides itself on the history of its city. 

4. Optimize Your Transaction Emails

This can really be “outside-the-box” thinking for online store owners who view email marketing as consisting of just newsletters and sending out coupon codes. However, in reality, every single email that you send to a prospective, existing, or previous customer has the potential to be optimized for sales conversion and value creation. 

Which emails are we talking about here? Everything from your shopping cart abandonment email, order confirmation email, shipping confirmation email, and customer feedback emails - all of them have the potential with the right amount of thought to be a major online marketing tool for your business. Have a look at how BarkBox optimizes it's shipping confirmation email with a solid call-to-action.

 

5. Use Social Media to Drive Engagement

We’re sure this was on your to-do list already, but we thought we’d mention it anyway. Why? Because it’s really important to shift the focus on using social media as a “sales and marketing” tool and seeing distinct platforms as engagement tools with the goals of increasing sales indirectly. Engagement means dancing around your product and services with helpful, insightful, and relevant content that nudges prospective customers to try you out and gives existing customers a reason to evangelize you. 

There’s plenty of starting points on getting going with Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Vine, however, make sure to focus on the platforms that are the most meaningful for you and your target audience. Narrow your efforts and you’ll be sure to see the fruit of your labour. Have a look at how Free People gets it's customers involved through adding their Instagram photos to their product pages. 

 

6. Leverage Analytics to Dissect What Works

Hopefully by now you’ve gotten a few months of history online. That’s a tremendous amount of data to leverage and take advantage of using tools like Google Analytics to see what worked and what didn’t when it came to customer conversion.

 

This is also a great opportunity to rethink your ecommerce key performance indicators (kpi’s) and use tools like Optimizely or Unbounce to experiment with A/B testing and getting all your pages up to par. Do that and you’ll be sure to knock 2014 out the ballpark. 

7. Be Responsive and Accessible on Any Device

With more than 60 percent of U.S. mobile phone users owning a smartphone and nearly 41% using their mobile device to make a purchase, having a mobile-friendly website is a must. These days, ignoring smartphones and tablets means leaving money on the table. Not to mention hearing from disgruntled and previously interested visitors annoyed at how difficult it is to get around your site. 

If you need more convincing, US retail mobile commerce alone increased 81% in 2012 to a grand total of roughly $25 billion. But before you start panicking and scrambling to figure out how you’re going to do it, Shopify’s got you covered with our growing number of responsive storefront themes.  Here's a great example, the Atlantic Theme.

8. Sell Everywhere

Being happy with just selling online means you’re potentially missing out on finding, connecting, and selling to customers who are dying to hear about your brand and buy your products. Maybe not exactly, but being a single-channel seller is so 2012 ;) 2014 and beyond will be the year of omni-channel retail, meaning you should be being willing to sell anywhere and everywhere that there’s customers willing to pay you for your products.

Luckily for you, that’s exactly what we’re about here at Shopify, and with additions to our software family that include the likes of Shopify POS and Shopify Mobile, we’re out to equip you with everything you need to sell online, in-store, and everywhere in between. 

Hopefully, these get you started on the road to a prosperous year ahead. What resolutions are you going to keep? Or are there ones that you made for yourself that you think other online store owners should adopt? Be sure to let us know by commenting below. 

Oh, and Happy Selling in 2014.

5 Ways to Optimize Ecommerce Product Pages for Humans and Search Engines

The battle for a sale can be won or lost on a product page. Structuring and presenting your…

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The battle for a sale can be won or lost on a product page.

Structuring and presenting your products correctly for both search engines and humans is absolutely vital when it comes to ranking well and converting browsers into buyers.

Listed below are some simple, yet hugely effective ways to optimize product pages to increase sales, and rank higher in the search engines.

1. Upgrade Your Image

It's not rocket science - larger, better quality images help sell more products. In fact, a recent study showed that larger images can increase ecommerce sales by up to 9%.

Along with image size and quality, you should also consider quantity. Having multiple images for one product, showing different features and angles will only ever benefit your shoppers when it comes to making a decision on whether or not to buy.

Another nice touch you can add to your product images, is consistency throughout your store. Using similar backgrounds, angles and picture sizes will create a more harmonious browsing experience for shoppers.

FiftyThree does a good example of this high quality consistency. Check out their recurring gradient backgrounds and high quality photography found on their Pencil product page below that allow for a seamless carousel experience.

Of course, it's equally important to remember search engines when it comes to your images.

Relevant, keyword rich alt text needs to be added to each image, which tells the search engine robots exactly what the picture is all about. Using alt text correctly can result in a pleasant boost in traffic from image search engines.

2. Play the Word Game

Much like the rest of your website, the wording of your product pages is hugely important in terms of search engine optimization.

Keywords relevant to your product should be included in both the page's title tags and META description. It's also hugely beneficial to include these keywords in the URL string of your product.

A good example would be Evisu's online store. Their product titles are packed with shortened information, yet they are also backed up with extensive descriptions, as shown below.

On top of impressing the search engines, informative product titles and informative descriptions will do wonders for the humans who browse your online catalogue. Titles and descriptions which are frank yet informative create far less confusion, leading to customers feeling more assured about the product they're viewing.

But what do you do if you want to use creative and catchy product names that don't say anything about what the product actually is? You can still do this but you will want to make sure you include descriptive keywords in your product page title tags. 

As a rule of thumb, a good product title should make humans want to buy and give search engines the information they need to help people find your stuff. Whereas a good product description elaborates on the details, uses relevant keywords and engages the shopper, without babbling.

3. Keep it Real

Customers browsing through your online catalogue often take product descriptions with a pinch of salt. After all, they were written by you – the salesperson.

So, to get your shoppers to appreciate how good your products truly are, you should consider adding real reviews and testimonials from existing customers.

iPad case specialists, Cardinal Case, do a good job of this, as you can see below. Alongside their products, they have incorporated a short, neat list of positive customer reviews.

Putting these reviews on your product pages creates a level of social proof, heightening the potential buyer's sense of trust in both the product in question, as well as your store as whole. It's an incredibly simple way to make your product pages more persuasive while also supplying search engines with additional relevant content to consider when ranking you. 

4. Show Your Wares, But Keep It Uncluttered 

The core aim of a product page is to sell. However, many online stores actually end up losing customers via their product pages after cramping them with numerous additional offers and links to related products.

There is certainly nothing wrong with cross-selling, as it can boost sales and lower bounce rates, but moderation – and organization, is paramount. Going over board with related products and banners can scream “unprofessional”, create analysis paralysis and distract the user from checking out.

To keep buyers focused on the product they are already viewing whilst offering more options, display a healthy amount of additional products, without over-crowding the space that you have.

Tea specialists, Luhse Tea, can be looked at as a prime example. As shown in the image below, they display three related products at the bottom of each product page, in a non-intrusive, professional fashion.

The key is to remember that a product page should be built to sell the product it primarily hosts. Cross-selling should be an important aspect of the page, but never at the expense of the main product in question.

5. Go the Extra Mile

Getting the basics right when it comes to product page optimization can work wonders for your conversion rates. But there's always room for improvement.

By incorporating additional features like product videos, 360 degree interactive images and stock notification features, you'll be going that extra mile to convince shoppers that your product is up to scratch, and that your store is willing to make the extra effort to add a personal touch to their merchandise.

An excellent example of this can be found on the product pages of StudioNeat. Accompanying each product, they offer a video which can be viewed without leaving the page, as shown below.

Such additional features go beyond basic product descriptions and allow you to demonstrate how your products work, let you tell the story behind them and persuade your visitors to buy. The more unique and useful you can make these extras, the higher your conversion rate is likely to be.

Of course, videos look great in the eyes of search engines, and do exceptionally well on social media.

Summary

Your product pages are the lifeblood of your online store.

If they're poorly presented in terms of images and content, or unstructured in terms of search engine optimization, you could risk leaving traffic and sales on the table.

Going that extra mile in terms of additional content will also do wonders for your brand, separating you from much of your competition. The more effort you put into your product pages, the more interested shoppers will be in both your products, and your brand.

So, get to work on achieving a good blend of the above product page optimization steps, and you should begin see your product pages converting browsers into buyers better than ever before.

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