Tips & Tutorials

Building a Community Around Your New Online Store

This is a Guest Post by Fast Company Expert Blogger Shawn Graham ________________________________________________ You’ve done it. You’ve created an…

This is a Guest Post by Fast Company Expert Blogger Shawn Graham
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You’ve done it. You’ve created an online store. You’ve found just the right template, uploaded photos of your products that are sure to turn some heads, and created a contact page to make it as easy as possible for new customers to get it touch. But that’s just the start. If you want to drive people to your new ecommerce site in droves, you need to think big and build a community around your business. Here are 4 things to consider: 

Make Online Shopping Social

Almost 70% of the companies on the “Internet Retailer 500” list don’t have a social plug in. That means most aren’t taking full advantage of existing social media channels to increase awareness about their businesses, drive traffic to their sites, and generate dialogue with potential customers.

Once you decide to dip your toes into the social media pool, make sure you’ve established some goals (x number of new followers, x% increase in web traffic, x% increase in product sales, etc.) and developed a clearly defined and sustainable content strategy (what are you going to talk about?, where will your content come from?, how often will you post? etc.). 

When possible, be sure to include those juicy product photos and some well written teaser content as part of your social media status updates. That way, you’re able to tell your story using a combination of words and images, increasing the likelihood that you’ll really grab the reader’s attention.

Build Awareness Constantly and Consistently

Start by creating a unique voice across all your promotional channels (in-store, e-mail, social media, and your website and ecommerce platform). Then look for every opportunity to educate your customers on what they’ll be able to find online. You want to convince them it will be worth their while to check out your new ecommerce site by highlighting some of the potential benefits which might include a wider product selection, lower prices, or convenience (if they live out of town or want to save on gas).

“Awareness is absolutely imperative,” said Matt Schmitt, President and Chief Experience Officer of Reflect Systems, a full-service provider of in-store digital media solutions. “Using services like Shopify can give a business a jump-start in ecommerce but then the needle gets moved from 'How do I set up an ecommerce platform?' to 'How do I get customers to my site?'” Schmitt added.

Harness the Power of Happy Customers

If you’ve created an unforgettable in-store and/or online shopping experience for your customers, they’re going to want to tell others. Provide them with the information they need to help you tell your story. Use enewsletters and social media channels to highlight new offerings and incentive programs to encourage them to help spread the love.

Monitor, Measure, and Tweak as Needed

Once you’re off and running, be sure to take a look under the hood to see what’s working and what isn’t. Look at your analytics to see how much time people are spending on your site, where exactly they’re coming from, and which items and pages are the most popular. Use the data to help you continually enhance your offerings and marketing efforts. When you do, you’ll be able to drive better results. 

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Shawn Graham is an Expert Blogger for Fast Company, a nationally acclaimed speaker, and a marketing/brand strategist for badass small businesses. He's also the author of Courting Your Career, a highly successful book about matching yourself with the perfect job. He's a former Associate Director at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and the former Assistant Dean and Director of MBA Services at the University of Pittsburgh. You should check out Shawn's website and  follow him on Twitter

How to Create a Million-Dollar Business in 5 Easy Steps

Over the weekend, Tim Ferriss posted an extremely useful article by Noah Kagan, an entrepreneur who built two…

Over the weekend, Tim Ferriss posted an extremely useful article by Noah Kagan, an entrepreneur who built two multi-million dollar online businesses before turning 28. Noah was employee #30 at Facebook, #4 at Mint, he helped create Gambit, and most recently co-founded  AppSumo. He's really smart, and the article is spreading like wildfire across the internet.


Noah's article is a step-by-step guide on how to create a million dollar online store. It's equipped with practical advice, screenshots, and a contest that's open to all Shopify Build-A-Business competitors. Read it here.

The Prize

  • $1,000 credit from AppSumo.com
  • Roundtrip flight to Austin, Texas, to have "the most delicious tacos in the world" with Noah Kagan

Here's how to win: Whoever starts a new online business and generates the most profit (not just revenue) by October 8th, 2011 will win. If you're competing in our Build-A-Business Contest, it will be your increase in profit over the next 2 weeks vs. the prior 2 weeks. If you want to share some taco's with Noah, you'll have to prove your profit or profit increase, so please read all the contest details at the bottom of Kagan's post. 

DODOcase will Answer Your Questions

The winners of last year's Build-A-Business Contest, DODOcase, will be answering your questions about online sales, marketing, and…

The winners of last year's Build-A-Business Contest, DODOcase, will be answering your questions about online sales, marketing, and anything else you'd like to ask. 

Last year, the founders Patrick and Craig took home the $100,000 grand prize, and now they're operating a company with projected annual earnings of over $5 million a year. These guys know what they're doing. Since we've just passed the halfway mark in our 2nd Build-A-Business Contest, we figure there's no better time to tap into their expertise. 

All Shopify store owners are welcome to participate by asking a question. Next week, DODOcase will record a video response that we'll post shortly after. 

Ask DODOcase a question in the comments below :-)

QR Codes for your Shopify Store

Want one of these for your Shopify store or for one of the products you're selling? QR codes can…


Want one of these for your Shopify store or for one of the products you're selling? QR codes can be a great online and offline marketing tool to drive mobile customers to your ecommerce store. The folks at Kwantify Business Intelligence have put together an App that allows you to easily create and manage QR Code Campaigns. You can learn more about Kwantify by reading a post on our Technology Blog, or by checking it out in our App Store

MailChimp for E-Commerce: Tips for Getting Started

MailChimp for E-Commerce: Tips for Getting Started Ready to dive into email marketing and customer relationship management? This…

** This is a guest post by Amy Ellis of MailChimp **

At MailChimp, we put a lot of effort into making sure you can find out the basics for creating an account, uploading a list and creating your first campaign. I highly recommend checking out one of our beginner Online Training sessions. We offer them at 11am and 4pm EST every day. We also have lots of videos in the MailChimp Academy and How-To Guides in the resources section of our site. Since its easy to get the basics of using our application, I want to go over a few other insider tips and tricks that will help you get off on the right foot. 

1. Create an Email Marketing Plan 


Most of us aren’t writing experts or email marketing naturals. However, instead of thinking, “How can I drive x amount of sales to increase my overall ROI?’ (although we do have some nifty tools to help you measure that) maybe stop and ask yourself, “How can I make my email campaigns useful to my audience?” Taking 20 minutes to complete an Email Marketing Plan (a.k.a. a Plan of Action) helps keep you focused on achieving your goals by defining your audience and outlining a content strategy. We have a short guide that takes you through this process in just a few steps. Don’t worry, its not as painful as it sounds! 

2. Start Building a Permission-Based List 


We are a permission-based email delivery service and tangible proof of opt in is a requirement to use our service. By setting our standards high we are able to provide excellent deliverability to all of our users. So, take some time to create your sign-up form, add it to your web site, Facebook page and anywhere else you can think of, so that you’re consistently building a list of people who really want to hear from you. This will result in few spam complaints, better open and click rates and a more dedicated subscriber base in general. 

Speaking of building your list, you definitely want your customers to be able to easily opt in to receive emails from you when they’re purchasing from your Shopify store. Luckily, we have a great integration with Shopify that will make syncing your customers to your MailChimp list super simple. Its called Chimpified and you can read more about it here in our Integrations Directory.

3. Think of Your Subscribers as Humans, Especially When Writing Your Content 


Even though our mascot is a Chimpanzee, we’re big fans of acting like humans and treating our users like humans too. In our experience, people really appreciate that our communications take a more ‘human’ tone rather than a very formal or ‘marketing’ tone. They even find it easier to relate to MailChimp and form a bond with our brand (a.k.a. ‘brand-loyalty’ as they say in marketing school). 

As someone with ‘traditional’ marketing training, I know how easy it can be to slip into ‘marketing speak’ when I start writing email content. I usually have to take a second and re-frame my brain to think about how I would write this if I were talking to my friends or if 10 of my best customers were sitting with me at dinner. When I do that, I usually come up with much more human content. 

Another great reason to focus on creating ‘human’ content is that spam filters look for content that seems spammy. And spammy content doesn’t read like it was created by a human. For example, it is usually a good idea to stay away from all-caps sales copy like “BUY NOW!!!!” or “LIMITED TIME OFFER!!!” in email. 

Spam filters look at a long list of criteria to decide whether or not an email is junk. These items are almost always on their lists of spammy criteria. 

  • Going crazy with exclamation points !!!!!!!
  • USING ALL CAPS –ITS LIKE YELLING IN EMAIL.
  • Coding sloppy HTML (usually from converting a Microsoft word file to HTML).
  • Coloring fonts bright red or green.
  • Using the word “test” in the subject line.
  • Creating an HTML email that’s nothing but one big image, with little or no text. 

4. Don’t Stop Building Your List 


The sad truth of the matter is that some of your subscribers will only stay engaged with your newsletter for about 4 months. At that point, they may unsubscribe or they may just stop paying attention. There are some ways to help extend the attention-span of a subscriber, but more importantly, you want to always be thinking about building your permission-based list. We’ve got some nifty tools for getting your sign up form out there and encouraging subscriptions. 

  • Add Your Subscriber Form to Your Web site and Blog: Find your CMS and/or blog platform in our integration directory and see how easy it is to add a good-looking sign-up form to your web site and blog.
  • Chimpadeedoo: Chimpadeedoo  is a free iPad app that makes it easy to collect email address on your iPad and sync them with your MailChimp list. 
  • ShortStack: ShortStack makes it easy to create custom tabs for your Facebook Pages. Use it to add a MailChimp subscription form to your page plus create special offers or run contests to help drive sign-ups.
  • Text to Subscribe: If you’re traveling to any trade shows or events, let your customers know they can subscribe just by texting subscribe to your special short code. 

That’s probably enough to get you started. Keep an eye out for more blog posts from us to help you cultivate a really lucrative email list and take advantage of that.


Amy Ellis (@amy_e_ellis) is Head of Integrations and Partnerships for MailChimp.com and is chock-full of awesome information. Before she became a chimp wrangler, her background included marketing and public relations for nonprofit organizations.

MailChimp helps you design email newsletters, share them on social networks, integrate with your Shopify store, and track your results. It's like your own personal publishing platform. For more info on integrating with MailChimp, check out the Chimpified App.


Google +1 For Your Ecommerce Site

Google +1 For Your Ecommerce Site Today, Google launched the +1 button. You may have seen it (and…

Google has just recently launched the Google +1 button for websites. Google +1 is a button that, when you are logged into your Google account, allows you to recommend certain webpages to other users. The button is available on Google search results pages, next to Google AdWords ads and on individual webpages. Shopify has recently launched the Google +1 button for our site and we recommend all of our store owners do the same!



What is Google +1:
Over the last year - but especially in the past few months Google - has been making some changes to their algorithm to remove content farm spam and incorporate data from social networks like Facebook and Twitter. Today they began to roll out a new feature called Google +1. This feature means that, when logged in, users will be able to +1 links and sites all across the web. Google +1 is essentially the equivalent of "Like"ing links on Facebook. Users who aren't logged in will still be able to see what others are recommending though. Google has also stated that they will be using +1 information in their ranking algorithm. As a site owner this means that you can help your product rank better in Google by using it.

How to use it:
The actual implementation is relatively simple if you are comfortable working in your theme files. All you need to do is embed a couple lines of code into your theme and you are all set. Get more detailed information on how, where and what to embed on your site at the +1 button creator.

What it means for your ecommerce store:
Google +1 will allow your shop visitors to signal to Google that a particular product (or your site in general) is worth recommending to others. When used on all your product pages it will allow you to boost the search visibility for your individual products. If you are really keen on getting the most out of +1 you can also make use of the rel=canonical tag to allow pages that don’t really require their own +1’ing (contact, about us, terms, return policy) to point their +1’s to your homepage (or some other page).

Google +1 is very new and it seems Google is still trying to work out a few kinks. I have listed a few resources if you are interested in researching more about what +1 can offer and how to implement it:

Implementing Google +1: http://code.google.com/apis/+1button/

Tracking Your +1’s in Google Analytics: http://yoast.com/plus-one-google-analytics/

Button Creator: http://www.google.com/webmasters/+1/button/index.html

+1 Button FAQ: http://www.google.com/support/webmasters/bin/answer.py?answer=1140194

Two Great Tips from Store Owners

Two Great Tips from Store Owners Who better to give practical advice than those doing it! Shopify is…

Who better to give practical advice than those doing it! Shopify is collecting tips for success from our top store owners. We’ll be posting the best ideas and suggestions weekly.

Here’s the first two:

Tip #1

Choose a good domain name for your store. Having your own domain rather than using the subdomain supplied with your store adds credibility and professionalism. Choosing a good name can also increase visitors to your store. When I registered DrChristophersHerbs.com I saw an increase in sales due to the keyword density of the name itself. In fact, 66.74% of my traffic comes from search engines, most of them searching for “dr christophers herbs” which corresponds with my domain name.- Addison Kirk of www.DrChristophersHerbs.com

Tip #2

Customize your collections menu so visitors can shop by age, price point or recipient to take some of the guess work out of the gift-giving process. Be creative in naming your categories to entice your customers to shop your site in new ways. Customers will appreciate knowing what is “tops for toddlers”, “pretty-in-pink” or is a “great gift under $20”.- Cathy of CBHstudio

Readhow to organize your products into collections.


Have a great tip you’d like to share? Submit yours at winningtips@shopify.com

Increase your conversion rates with Google Website Optimizer

Increase your conversion rates with Google Website Optimizer Woo hoo! A tool to increase your conversion rates! With…

Woo hoo! A tool to increase your conversion rates. Shopify now has native integration with Google Website Optimizer.

With Google Website Optimizer you can run experiments on your pages which help increase conversion rates. Google Website Optimizer is a free tool from Google that lets you test different variations on your pages.

For example, here is how you could test variations on your product description:

  1. Block off the part of your product page where the description is displayed.
  2. Tell Google the different descriptions you want to test for that product.
  3. Sit back and let Google do all of the experimenting for you!
  4. Receive a report from Google telling you which description yielded the best conversion rates for you.

You can also test multiple parts of a page. Test several different descriptions, titles, and images for a single product and let Google tell you which combination is most effective.

Check out the marketing section of your shop admin to set up your own experiments!

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