“We have a discretionary fund that allows the reps to give not only discounts to good customers but gift cards as well. We follow this up with handwritten notes and sometimes, for our very best customers, a present in the mail.”
Candice Galek CEO and founder, Bikini Luxe]]>
There are four important metrics you need to know about when it comes to figuring out how well your newsletter is doing.
Kind of an obvious one; this is how many people actually signed up and receive your newsletter. A good one to keep an eye on.
The percentage of people from your subscriber base that actually open your newsletter. There’s varying opinions on what kind of open rate is good, but my opinion is you should be shooting for at least a consistent 50 percent, otherwise your list is dying or may be getting stale.
The percentage of people who click a link in your email newsletter. This only begins mattering if you start talking to sponsors for your newsletter, but gives you a good idea of if people are actually clicking on what you send out. Apparently the industry average for this is something like 2 percent.
Don’t get yourself too down about this, but do keep an eye on it. Most email sending systems offer unsubscribers a box to share why they’re unsubscribing, which is a good insight into what you’re doing right or wrong.
It can hurt the first few times someone unsubscribes and feels personal, but remember that it’s not and that in that person’s shoes they might not have enough time to read your email.
Here’s a warning for you: it’ll often feel like nobody cares or you have no idea if it’s effective or not. That’s the nature of email! There are no comments or ways to gauge just how it’s going outside of those cold numbers we talked about above, but there is a solid way to get people’s insight: just ask for replies.
Most of the time, people will just read your email and move on, but if you make it clear that people can simply reply to your newsletter to reach you, often you’ll receive useful feedback from readers.
BY: OWEN WILLIAMS]]>
Creating your product. Having samples made. Ordering 1 million of them because that’s the factory’s minimum.
You had someone in Indonesia create a slick logo for you. You set up your UPS account. You’ve rolled up your sleeves and you’re ready to get started on your ecommerce website.
Maybe you know a guy who’s nephew builds websites from his dorm. Or you read some article on how to build your own website in three easy steps. So now all you have to do is get the website built and you’re good to go, right?
Over the years, I have met too many entrepreneurs trying to build their own websites and too many entrepreneurs whining about the price to build a great website. And it bugs me.
Building a beautifully designed, fully capable website is no longer a luxury if you’re looking to launch or grow any ecommerce business in 2015. It’s a necessity.
Related: 2 Things Entrepreneurs Should Not Worry About
Look, I get it. You’re a startup. You have a limited budget. You’re an entrepreneur willing to do things yourself. And that’s all very admirable. But if you’re launching an ecommerce business and you’re unwilling to invest in your website, then you’re better off having never launched your business.
You have a single presence. Make it count.
Instead of a website, let’s assume instead you’re opening a new brick-and-mortar clothing store. Since you’re a startup, your shop would likely be small. Your budget for build-out wouldn’t be much. But at a minimum, you still have to pay for paint, flooring, lights, shelves, displays, mannequins, a POS system, an inventory system and quite a few fixtures. Even with just a short one-year lease for retail space, no matter where you open it, you’d still be looking at $100,000 to cover just your physical presence. Probably more.
And even after dropping $100,000, you’d still pale in comparison to the Macy’s down the road from you. Or the Ann Taylor. Or the Men’s Wearhouse. They’d kill you in presentation, assortment and skilled labor. You’d never survive.
But…if you’re building an ecommerce website, customers view you differently. They view you only in the narrow world of online space. They won’t be thinking about what the Macy’s store in their neighborhood looks like. They’ll compare macys.com with your website.
And guess what? Now you have a much better chance in this competition.
While the cost of a good web developer varies, a beautifully designed, fully capable website should cost between $7,000 and $20,000 at most. Now compare that with the $100,000 you’d spend for your brick-and-mortar store — and you’d still lose that battle in every way. So why wouldn’t you spend a few bucks and build a kick-ass website? A website, by the way, that would last far more than a year.
So what does it mean to have a beautifully designed, fully capable website?
The best place to start when designing your website (both aesthetically and as a utility) is to roam the web seeking out your competitors. What do their sites look like? What do you like most about their design? What do you like least about their design?
Related: Are You Serious About Becoming An Entrepreneur?
Now start looking at sites outside of your competition. Look for anything from a design perspective that appears fresh or unique. I’m building a website now to sell my own line of men’s bedding. Our gallery of thumbnails and product pages were inspired by a website I found dedicated to real estate crowdfunding. A totally different industry, and yet, the design scheme fit perfectly for what I wanted to do.
So after you have the design figured out, then make sure your product photos are professionally taken. Every piece of research I’ve ever read confirms that the nicer your product photography, the higher the conversion rate. And of course, the lower the return rate of your products. Poor photography also intangibly affects your brand. Do yourself a favor and hire a professional photographer.
Now it is time to revisit your competitors and test their navigability. Pretend you’re the consumer. Do the categories make sense? Are there any special features that you love? Is there something you hate? Do you wish it had a certain feature to bridge the gap between shopping in-person vs. shopping online?
A great example is something I had built on The Tie Bar when we launched back in 2004. I always had the hardest time shopping for ties in person without seeing how those ties would look with a particular shirt or suit. And no website out there addressed the problem.
So at The Tie Bar, we built a feature on the site that allowed customers to place our ties against the backgrounds of the most common colored (and patterned) shirts and suits. Back in 2004, it was a novel concept and it got us many compliments and mentions in the press. And all I did was discover a pain point in shopping online for ties and attempted to fix it.
So when building your website, make sure to include the features you love and exclude the features you don’t. And if you can come up with a creative add-on to your site, all the better.
The last point I’ll make is one covered in a million other places, so I will not belabor the point. Just make sure your site is mobile-friendly.
I will not bore you with the stats (which are everywhere) but suffice it to say that if your website does not translate well into an easy and appealing mobile experience, you’re wasting your time investing in your new beautifully-designed, fully capable website I just talked you into.
By GREG SHUGAR
CONTRIBUTOR TO ENTREPRENEUR MAGAZINE
Founder of The Tie Bar
– Leonardo Da Vinci]]>
Once again, super proud of our team and the work we’ve done. Thank you to Penny Seabolt for entrusting us with her vision. It has been an honor and joy working with her on this project and helping to bring her passion to life.
Penny came to us with a vision – we listened and made sure that we delivered exactly what she wanted. As we developed the product we offered some insightful ideas to ensure the concept would resonate with viewers. Penny is offering a service unlike anything else we’ve seen before in the fitness industry – the Penny Seabolt Fitness Meal Plan is poised to revolutionize an industry!]]>
Below is a list of common steps in the process of web design and development and what is involved to bring a site live.
Phases of website development:
Discovery. Conduct interviews, focus groups, social network analysis, organizational mapping, audience analysis, design exploration, create mood boards.
Functional needs assessment. List key user functions, identify content sources, plan for metrics, designate site managers.
Technical needs assessment. Present functional needs, a coherent budget, and then this is where we let the tech gurus take over.
Wireframes. Confirm the basic structure and layout of main content types. Get consensus on general look and feel,
Design. This is a great opportunity to ensure that both client and developer are on the same page about the look and feel of the site.
Content migration plan and/or content management plan. Identify existing content and where it goes and with the input of the client develop a plan for new content.
Quality assurance testing. Click everything, use a ticketing system to track and prioritize fixes.
Beta testing. User scenarios, workshops, focus groups, surveys. Kick the tires a bit.
Pre-launch preparation. Write help text – FAQs, user guides, create site tours, plan accordingly for new content for launch and just after launch.
Engagement and marketing strategy. Determine site objectives, align messaging with objectives and audience segments, build in sustainability. Brand marketing appropriately to sync with the look and feel of the new site.
Ongoing tech support. Establish system and expectations for meeting the needs of the client. Guarantee responsive, respectful customer service.
Piece of cake, right? We can help.
We believe that making sure our clients know what to expect and when to expect it is paramount to a smooth and well ran project managed jointly by both the client and the service provider.]]>
Below is the story of Thrasher’s French Fries.
Yogawear company lululemon is all about living well. The brand’s Instagram stream captures yogis in impressive poses and preaches inspirational wisdom (see also: the lululemon manifesto), driving home the point that you can do anything when you put your mind to it. To many consumers, wearing Lululemon is akin to a badge of honor, practically saying, “my body is a temple, and it can do amazing things.”
So a couple months ago, the brand partnered with Olapic to collect images from consumers that represent #TheSweatLife — users were asked to tweet or Instagram photos of them getting their sweat on, and these images are displayed on a subsection of the brand website. These crowdsourced pictures show people pushing the limits, contorting their bodies and exploring the world in lululemon gear; like the brand itself, these images are simultaneously inspirational and aspirational.
“We created the program as a way to connect with our guests and showcase how they are authentically sweating in our product offline,” says Lesia Dallimore, brand manager at lululemon. “We see it as a unique way to bring their offline experiences into our online community.”
In addition to #TheSweatLife, there are also hashtags for specific products, like #wunderunder or #groovepant. When you click on a picture tagged with one of these hashtags, the site directs you to product pages, where customers can easily purchase items shown in the photos.
To date, the brand has received more than 7,000 photos via Instagram and Twitter, and the main #sweatlife gallery has had more than 40,000 unique visitors since launch.
Lesson: A loyal community is a powerful thing — highlighting customers who live your brand makes others want to live your brand, too. Encourage customers to snap photos that capture your brand values, and synthesize them into a Facebook cover photo, a T-shirt design or art to decorate your store. When choosing a hashtag, include a key brand value with broad, organic applications (see also: Tiffany & Co.’s #TrueLovePictures and Nike’s #MakeItCount).
by Lauren Drell]]>