Always Recommend the Right Products

If you have an e-commerce business, the following advice will be very good for the development of your business. Not only makes your company survive, but will greatly expand!

Glen Urban is an MIT professor focused on understanding, building, and maintaining trust on the Web. In his latest book, Don’t Just Relate – Advocate!, Urban makes a valuable claim about being a responsible advisor to your customers:

Advocate Your Customer

Happy male helpline operator with headset consulting a client. Online global tech support 24 7. Operator and customer. Technical support concept. Vector illustration in flat design.

Your company might choose to embrace advocacy by becoming a faithful representative of your customers’ interests. Under this approach, you provide customers and prospects with open, honest, and complete information. You give them advice so they can find the best products, even if those products are not your company’s products?

For many companies, the marketing strategy is staid and straightforward. The bottom-line goal is to align products on the showroom floor to potential customers. For the most part, it’s that simple. If you have products that need to be sold, figure out a way to build intrigue, value, and emotional connections around your brand.

The Selfless and Responsible Company Will Flourish

But what happens when a company is selfless and responsible about the advice it gives? Can a company focused on recommending the right products rather than their own products stay afloat?

According to Urban they can. And they won’t just survive; they will flourish!

With the incorporation of customer-centric values, a company begins

a mutual dialogue that assumes that if you advocate for your customers, those customers will reciprocate with their trust, purchases, and an enduring loyalty?

Mobile Location-Influenced Shopping and Word of Mouth

It is undeniable, at this time that the tendency of the world community is greater for shopping online than shopping directly. Shopping face to face may still be done in traditional markets but maybe soon it will change too. One of the influential figures in online shopping is Jeff Bezos.

I was fortunate enough to attend of a keynote presentation by Jeff Bezos last year. Jeff keynoted Shop.org’s first Multichannel Executive Symposium, co-hosted with McKinsey & Company. As a Shop.org Board member, I was proud that Jeff accepted our invitation to present.

Jeff Bezos : “The Future of Always=Connected Camera Phone Affected Physical Shopping”

FILE – In this Sept. 13, 2018, file photo, Jeff Bezos, Amazon founder and CEO, speaks at The Economic Club in Washington. Federal prosecutors in New York are planning to meet with Bezos about his allegations that the National Enquirer tried to blackmail him with help from Saudi Arabia. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen, File) ORG XMIT: NYR103

As a brief one-minute comment while answering an attendee’s question, Jeff talked about the future of always-connected camera phones. When camera phones offer 3.5-megapixel resolution, he said, the world of physical shopping becomes very interesting. This is because 3.5-megapixel resolution enables you to accurately read a product barcode right off the box.

With an always-on mobile device, you would be able to price compare, read product ratings and reviews, and even get product accessory information from local stores in your nearby area while you are physically shopping in that store. Well, this was like a lightning rod to me, while Jeff casually moved on to the next subject.

Talk about turning the physical shopping environment on its head. I was surprised to read that many camera phones in South Korea already offer 8-megapixel resolution (they also receive live satellite TV and cost $700).

How About Physical Retail World In The U.S?

So, in just a few years, probably 3-4 conservatively, the physical retail world in the U.S. will clash with the online retail world in a fundamentally disruptive way. Some would say that is happening already.

In either case, I believe that customer ratings and reviews become even more important in an environment like this. I also believe that differentiated service, great product, really listening to your customers, collaborating more closely with your suppliers, and word of mouth marketing become even more important in this environment. It is right around the corner.

Blogs and Word of Mouth Transparency

Today’s topic will be very interesting for those of you who are thinking of doing business online or you who like to shop without face to face alias online shopping. How come? Yes, e-commerce is very growing nowadays that is supported by internet speed and unlimited reach. And these benefits are enjoyed by the seller or the buyer.

According to mashable’s Founder and CEO, there are over 70,000 blogs created a day with over 50,000 blog posts per hour. What are the chances that one of your customers is talking about you? High, and becoming higher every day as more jump into the global discussion. What are the chances that one of your customers or prospects will read that post?

Search Engine Influence

With Google, Yahoo, Mashable , and others already providing robust blog search engines, the answer is, again, high and becoming higher. There are several companies that offer blog mining services, such as BuzzMetrics, Cymfony, and Kaava. And these are valuable services for companies, no doubt. If you are skeptical, read the Fortune story of Kryptonite, the bike lock company. This may be one of the most important articles you read all year.

There is no doubt a lot of junk in most blogs. Most are nothing more than online diaries. But the search engines are making it easier to find information about products in blogs. The 40-year old parent may write about their kids 90% of the time, but 10% of the time they may choose to write about products and services they have recently experienced. The search engine takes the right person to that content at the right time (i.e. when they are researching whether or not to buy the product or service).

The Power of Internet Marketing

Research by BizRate shows that 56% of shoppers begin shopping at a branded website. This is intuitively obvious to me – the Internet has gone mass market and the late majority starts shopping at the brands they trust. The trick is to capture those individuals in that moment instead of sending them off with an easy click or two to go searching for reviews. That is where Bazaarvoice comes in.

For all of the glory of the Web, it is a non-tactile shopping environment. Companies like Scene7, RichFX, MyVirtualModel, and others make online shopping more tactile. They are helpful as the eCommerce industry struggles with 2.6% conversion, meaning that 97.4% of those that visit a store online don’t buy within that browsing session. Compare that to the 90% or so that buy when they enter a physical store. Of course, people can browse online stores more easily than driving to physical stores, and their purchase intent is often lower online than offline. This isn’t a bad thing, it just means more product browsing. Nevertheless, at 2.6% conversion, there is a lot of room for conversion improvement.

Customer Rating and Review

The beautiful thing about customer ratings and reviews on your site is that it is on your site. Let me explain:

  1. On your site, customer ratings and reviews are measurable. When a customer writes a review, you know who that customer is and what actions they have taken within that shopping session as well as previous sessions.
  2. On your site, customer ratings and reviews are actionable. Since you know who the customer is, you can decide whether to reach out to them or not. Build your own focus group of high lifetime value and vocal customers for your next relevant product launch. Address negative word of mouth by reaching out to those customers and offering to correct their experience. The voice of the customer is closer to your brand, helping push cultural change inside your company to bring all employees closer to an understanding of your customers’ experience (i.e. to become more customer centric).
  3. On your site, customer ratings and reviews serve a purpose. They give your customers a reason to trust you and come back to your site often as a valuable source of information. They help make online shopping more tactile, which results in higher online conversion. There is nothing more tactile than word of mouth (positive and negative) from other customers that have experienced that poduct or service that you are considering buying.

Outside of your site, customer ratings and reviews have virtually none of these attributes, with the notable exception that companies like Intelliseek, Cymfony, and Kaava have the goal of making them actionable.

I would also argue that customer ratings and reviews on your site are far more actionable in the sense that the online shopper is in a different frame of mind than when they are writing for their blog or on a site where they may or may not have a connection (like Epinions). They will be more thorough with their review in an environment focused on shopping within the brand they know as opposed to stream-of-consciousness within their blog.

As a result of our techniques, the average review we collect has a 350 character count, or 72 words. Compare that to the many reviews you read out there on the Web that say “this product is great” or “this product is terrible” and provide you with no actionable information at all. Those reviews move the needle for no one.

The more descriptive the review and the more it mimics offline word of mouth (which usually occurs face-to-face), the more tactile the online shopping experience becomes. As a result, shoppers and companies benefit.

“Operationalize” Customer Centricity

Since smartphone have been one item of your needs, online shops also has growing larger. It changed the way customer buy. From face to face buying goods to be a loyal online customer. It can not be deny that eCommerce get the influence too.

As we speak with many eCommerce companies there is a trend — the desire to become a more customer-centric company. And this is a topic usually coming from a level above the eBusiness or Web department.

It’s a topic that can even come from the CEO, as a customer-centric culture affects every division, department and function. However, it is highly influenced by the growth of the Web as customers are interacting every day with a company’s processes via the web site.

I spent a lot of time developing the customer-centric strategy at Dell and consulting with other companies on word of mouth, and there is no magic bullet for ‘becoming’ customer centric. I guess the easiest way to describe the one source of customer centricity — and yet the most challenging to change — is culture. From culture, the bloodflow of a company, everything follows — technology, policy, brand, product development, hiring, etc.

But let’s say you didn’t start customer-centric, and you want to correct, or redirect, the company towards a more customer-centric trajectory. What do you do?

Bring Your Customer Closer

In my experience, the most important thing you can do is to bring the customer closer to your business and brand in an operational way. This could mean a lot of things (such as ratings and reviews on your web site, of course!).

Process And System Everyday!

But in short, it means that you have put a system or process in place (a company is nothing more than people, processes and systems) that brings the customer closer to the rest of your people, process and systems every day.

  • A research project and presentation is tremendoursly insightful, but we all go back to our day jobs.
  • Attending usability sessions is good, but empathy is short-lived
  • Reading customer comments from the web site is helpful, but forgotten
  • Developing personas helps you understand customers, but then what do you do with them.

Ultimately, it’s the action you take and something that you put in place which is seen every day, so in our day jobs the ecology starts to change. The network and algorithmic effect of bringing the customer closer to what employees live and breathe HAS to change the way they make decisions, because now it’s part of the environment in which they make decisions. It can’t be ignored, forgotten, or dismissed.

Plant A Healthy Virus = A Customer-Centric System

Once in place, a customer-centric system adds a positive virus that can multiply inside the company and among your peers. You can’t do it alone, so the best thing you can do is to plant a healthy virus in your company and watch what happens!

Chosing A Blog Design | How To Blog On WordPress

Blogging is one way to make money in the current internet era. This is the same as having a ‘home’ or place in cyberspace. The house you have to shape as you want. Designing the ‘house’ is certainly an important part that can make you or any person who comes to feel comfortable. Well, in this topic we will discuss about the design of your home or blog. What should you consider when choosing your blog’s design?

Blog Topic

Courtesy : http://theowlsjournal.com

It is the most important consideration when choosing your design. Choose a design that personifies what your blog is about.

Photography

It needs to be taken into consideration. Photographs bring life to a blog. Both amateurs and professionals will need to pick a theme that struts their stuff.

Video

It features are a must now days. The trend is toward using more and more video. Although is is easy to place video with in your blog post, you may consider a theme that features video also.

Show Your Talents

Your blog should reflect your product and services.

Seven Rules of Good Blog Design

  1. Content is king. A blog is about content so keep your design simple.
  2. Stand out. Your design should make you stand out from all the other blogs. You want to be remembered.
  3. Stay ad lite. Do not overrun your blog with ads. Be effective with you ads.
  4. Color. Good use of color will make your blog posts easy to read and a pleasure to visit.
  5. Above the fold. Place all of the important information above the fold; start of content, subscription boxes and important images.
  6. Navigation. Because people will come to your blog by SEO and social media they may skip the front page. It is important that your side bars are easy to navigate. You only have a short time to keep your visitor, so make it easy to stay a visit.
  7. Loads quickly. Do you get impatient when a site loads slow? Make sure to keep your visitors attention with a site that loads quickly.

Take a look around and pick out blogs you like. What is it you like about them? Was it color? Content? Did you want to look around? What persona do you want to portray? What will make you stand out from the rest? What colors do you like?

How to Blog on WordPress – Above the Fold

When a visitor comes to your site, you have only a few seconds to convince him to stay. You want to put all the most important data above the fold.

Imagine walking past a newspaper stand. The headlines and pictures catch your eye. The newspaper is folded in half and all that eye-catching information is placed above the fold. This space is reserved for top stories, and pictures. Thus enticing people to buy.

In internet marketing this is also called above the scroll. The idea is to keep all that eye-catching and important data at the top of the screen. This would be your great headlines, your opt in box and your top advertising.

In the last year newspapers have dropped their old format and have gone to a blog look, still keeping it above the fold. The change is partly because of the amount of information that can be put in that blog look. Also newspapers are competing with the Internet.

There are many WordPress themes that will keep your eye-catching important data above the fold. How much information you consider important will determine if you want a one or two column sidebar.

No matter what you choose. Keep your lay out clean, easy to read and navigate.

Go take a look at WordPress Blogs you like. Were you enticed to stay the second you clicked on the site? What features in the sidebar do you like? Did they do a good job of keeping the important data above the fold?

Use AdSense Sparingly to Avoid Smart Pricing

It can not be deny that today is the age of information technology. The way to make money change also. Making website as a business is one of business. What is the reason people like to buy onmAdSense is perhaps one of the easiest ways to monetize a website, but that doesn’t mean that you should use it willy-nilly. Judging by the number of emails I get telling me that I should be using it on my blogs, or in my RSS feeds or whatever, it seems clear that most people feel that you should slap AdSense ads up everywhere.

Every Little Helps Doesn’t It?

The general theory seems to be that every little helps, and therefore, even if the ads aren’t clicked on all that much, surely every click is worth having? If AdSense can bring in a few extra bucks a month, then you’d be stupid not to use it, right? Well not quite, here are a few reasons why you should be sparing with your AdSense placement:

AdSense Takes Traffic Away

Some sites are built with the primary intention of getting AdSense revenue, but not all of them. This blog is not one of those sites. However, when somebody clicks your ad, they click away from your site, so that is a click that could have been directed elsewhere. Most people do not click back after they have clicked an ad!

Some Audiences Dislike AdSense

This is a problem that only affects a relatively small number of sites. Not all internet users are the same. I’m betting that you, as a reader of my blog, are pretty internet savvy, I imagine you have heard of social media sites like StumbleUpon, Facebook, etc. I’m sure you know what an ad looks like, and I’d bet quite a lot of money that you would very rarely click on an AdSense ad!

Now, of course, the only way to know for sure if AdSense is suitable for your site is to test it, but here’s a good metric to use: search engine traffic tends to respond well to AdSense, and social media traffic does not. If more than 50% of your traffic is social and not from search engines, then you might struggle with AdSense.

The Big One – SMART PRICING

At this point, you might still be thinking, so what? But here is something that many people don’t understand. AdSense allows you to put ad units up on multiple websites very easily, but it tracks your performance across your entire account, and it can apply penalties as a result. If one or more of your sites suffer from a particularly low click-through rate (I’m not sure the exact number but get worried if you’re generating less than 3%), then your account will be smartly priced and what this means is that you will only earn a fraction of the amount that you think you should.

I am pretty sure my account is smartly priced right now. None of my clicks are very high, and even in a very high paying niche, I only got $0.39 for a click that I would have expected to generate at least $1.00.

So if you just slap up AdSense on sites that don’t respond well, then you will drag down your CTR, which affects your whole account – the sites that were doing well will suddenly start making less money.

How to Avoid Smart Pricing

If you are smartly priced, then the only way out of it is to remove AdSense from the sites that have a very low CTR. Now recently, I started to add custom URL channels to my AdSense account so that I could track all my performance on a per-site basis, but I kept finding that the impressions and clicks that were being reported were less than the total number. In other words, I had AdSense running on some site that I had forgotten about!

Eventually, I tracked down the rogue URL – it was a hubpage! Back in the 2007 Thirty Day Challenge, I set up some hub pages, and back then, I knew nothing about how AdSense worked, so I just signed up for their revenue-sharing scheme. I started to track the URL, and sure enough, it was generating impressions (the hub still gets traffic now), but the CTR was appalling, so I removed it from the page.

I still have work to do because some of the niche sites I have setup are also performing badly. However, some of them have such little traffic right now that its difficult to accurately depict the CTR because just one click can cause it to vary greatly. Therefore my new approach is not to put AdSense on a site until it starts to generate a reasonably steady stream of traffic – around 25 visitors a day. That should be enough to track the clicks more accurately.

10 Great Ways to Repurpose Your Old Blog Content

Some of you from the previous decade might have liked to read magazines or books printed on paper, whether it’s good quality or simple paper. Now, magazines or books have become digital devices that you can read anywhere and anytime while you are connected to the internet.

Curation and crowd-sourcing in action! Today I’m summarizing 10 of the most actionable and creative answers to the following question:

Blogs are not vacuums. Each post, after circulation and promotion, after initial discussion, still exists and adds value. But how can we take a blog post and use this content in some other way after it has been posted? I am speaking here of ideas like converting to PowerPoint presentations and posting them to SlideShare, etc. Your ideas? Thanks!

Repurpose away!

1. “Best of”: Create special tabs, lists or pages for posts based on popularity, subject matter or number of Tweets, Facebook shares/Likes, etc.

2. Print pieces: Collect similarly themed content, and print booklets for distribution at trade shows, conferences and networking events.

3. Supplements: If you have a YouTube video, Sribd upload or Slideshare deck on the subject, link to a corresponding blog post.

4. Dig & link: Before you write a new post, review some of what you’ve written previously on similar topics and selectively link to related work.

5. Footer recommendations: After each post, collect links to related previous content. Several WordPress plugins can generate these recommendations automatically.

6. Internal resource: Your colleagues should know that your company’s blog is a content source that can inform their presentations, reports and other work projects.

7. Mash it up: Pull in content from multiple channels onto one page per subject. A page about word of mouth marketing, for instance, would have all applicable tweets from your company, blog posts, public slide decks, pod casts and white papers featured.

8. Manifesto!: Extract themes and learning from your previous work, and summarize into prediction pieces, opinion posts and year-in-review spots. Link back to the original posts.

9. Newsletters: Showcase relevant posts within your recurring newsletter, with a focus on digging deep into your archive to get new eyes on old content.

10. Shareable bits: Gather interesting factoids and points from older work, and tweet it out (or share via Facebook and LinkedIn) with a link. This is a great way to break a longer post down into pieces that are perfect for social sharing.

Top 3 Ways To Make Money Online

If you were to count the ways to make money online, you’d be at a loss. I don’t think four limbs would suffice. Lame jokes aside, there are, seriously, countless ways to make a living – even a fortune – on the Internet. The rules and principles that govern money-making in the real world apply just as much online as they do offline.

Some money-making tactics take money to make money. Of course, the trick is to create an extra dollar or more for every dollar you invest in any money-making activity. And you’d want to squeeze out as many profits as you can out of that dollar you’re going to invest. This is just business common sense.

However, this assumes that you need to begin with money if you hope to make any money. But there are several free ways to make money online as well.

As A Freelancer

Perhaps the easiest, fastest, and most straightforward way to begin making money online is to offer your services to other webmasters, online business owners, and internet marketers. If you have a particularly strong skill set – such as writing, designing webpages, copy writing, producing videos, editing audios, creating graphics, etc. – then you can find people who will be more than happy to pay for your services.

You can go to the freelancing networks that would charge you to bid on projects (such as Guru, eLance, or ScriptLance), but you can save your money. You’ll probably be better off going to specific webmaster forums and advertising your services in your signature file. To get started, you could even offer to do your first projects dirt cheap or for free to get a couple of references.

One important tip to take note of if you choose to take this path is that when you are starting on your virgin projects, even if you get very little (or no) money (at all), make sure you get the testimonials of your clients. Store your clients’ rave reviews so that this can serve as your portfolio of customer satisfaction and would give social proof that your work is of a high standard of quality.

Endorsing Other People’s Products For A Commission As An Affiliate

There are dozens of affiliate networks you can sign up with to become an affiliate for potentially thousands upon thousands of products sold online; it’s almost as if the Internet is conspiring to make you rich.

Clickbank is a popular choice and probably one of the easiest to sign up with. Your earnings are paid out by cheque twice a month, provided you have fulfilled some criteria (no worries, you don’t have to jump through hoops of fire to get your first payday). PayDotCom is ideal if you prefer to be paid via PayPal instead of waiting for the bank to clear your commission cheques (it could take weeks, especially if you live outside America). Both Clickbank and PayDotCom also offer affiliates the opportunity to earn some passive income from the monthly recurring billing products they list in their marketplaces.

If you’re looking to broaden your product line beyond merely selling information products, Commission Junction is the No. 1 network to be signed up with. Not only can you sign up with programs that pay you for referring sales, but you can also make some quick bucks out of the numerous CPA (Cost Per Action) programs available. CPA means you don’t need to make people buy products for you to get paid. All you need to do is to persuade people to sign up for some free offers, subscribe to a newsletter, or download software for free in order for you to earn a commission.

There are two sub-paths you can take within the affiliate marketing path – the Anonymous route, and what I call the “Oprah Winfrey” route.

For the Anonymous option, you can employ any number of tactics to promote your affiliate products – pay per clicks, article marketing, search engine optimization, email marketing, etc. This route may be able to allow you to make money faster if you do the tactics right but may not last in the long term unless you consistently maintain your marketing momentum. Taking this option allows you to explore as many niche markets as you want.

The “Oprah Winfrey” option involves building an authoritative reputation amongst your target market, branding yourself, and building trust with your potential customers. This obviously takes time to build but pays off handsomely in the long run. Taking this option might prove difficult for you if you wish to explore different niches as general affiliates who market with authority usually focus on products that serve only one target market.

Create Your Own Product

Create your own masterpiece and sell it to the world. Most people would say that it is the hardest amongst the three ways, but I beg to differ. I made my first dollar online (US$17.00 to be exact, back in those days when US$1.00 equaled $1.70 in Singaporean dollars and Paypal was not that popular amongst internet marketers) selling my own information product.

Where there is a demand, there is money to be made. P T Barnum reportedly said there’s a customer born every minute, but how do you know what these customers want to buy? The secret to untold wealth and riches selling your own products online (even offline) is to know exactly what your potential customers are going through in terms of pain, frustration, problems, challenges, etc.

What is the one thing that is hindering them from achieving their goals? What is the stumbling block that they are encountering? How can you simplify their lives?

Before you go on to create products that would solve these people’s problems and sell a million copies, you must be able to answer the above questions and more. In brief, creating great products simply means being able to solve people’s problems quickly and easily.

Of course, there are many types of products you can sell online, just as there are many solutions to anyone’s problem. But let me simplify it for you further and categorize the kinds of products you can create into 2 :

  • Teaching people how to fish
  • Giving them the fish

Most information products would fall into the 1st category. Information products can be of many kinds as well – ebooks, audios, videos, tutorials, even live seminars and workshops. Depending upon the amount and value of the content you put into these information products, you can charge anywhere from dirt cheap to exorbitant prices for your information products.

Software, tools, systems, and services fall into the 2nd category. Here, you go beyond teaching people how to do whatever it is that they want to learn to accomplish and actually go do it for them. In this category, you can charge either a recurring monthly fee or a handsome one-time amount for the tool or service you’re offering that is going to solve their problems for them.

Exchanging Value

You have to understand that business is about making money – yes – but beyond that, it is about exchanging value. Ideally, for every $1 a person gives you, you give him $1 worth of value in return (be it via information, a service or a tool). But this is not a zero-sum game because the value you create and exchange for money is something intangible and cannot really be absolutely quantified in dollars.

Ironically, it is when you give just a little more than what you are paid for, that is when you start to make even more money than if you were to just trade a dollar for a dollar’s worth of value.

Letter Writing Tips For Beginners

When you’re writing letters of a more formal nature, you may seize up. What’s the correct format for a business letter? What about writing letters of complaint? How about a letter of reference? You know there are certain formats that apply to each type of letter, but you don’t know what they are. There’s no need to worry. Help is at the end of your mouse.

Here’s how to make quick work of this letter writing task. Google ‘writing letters’. You’ll be presented with pages and pages of websites that offer templates for every type of letter you may need to write. These sites usually also offer tutorial-style articles, giving you pointers on how to construct writing letters of every type.

Most of us occasionally write letters to friends or family members, either on paper or via email. This type of letter writing is spontaneous in nature and doesn’t fill us with apprehension. You’re just saying hi or communicating what’s happening in your life.

For example, if you’re writing a letter of complaint, you’ll be advised to be concise, making your points in short paragraphs that will produce the desired result.

If you’re writing letters of reference, you’ll find out how to state your points succinctly, gaining entry for the candidate in question.

Let’s say you received an offer in the mail for a month’s free internet access from a major ISP. You get a CD, with printed promises of a 30-day free trial, no credit card required, etcetera. You’re not happy with your current provider, so you figure, what have I got to lose? Surely this major company isn’t going to play games with you. They want your business. Why not try them out? You are quickly disillusioned when you’re asked for your credit card information, but you think they’ll stand by their word. You sign up.

Two weeks later, you receive a bill for $60 of services you didn’t request. You place a call to them and get a runaround. You now need to write a letter of complaint to straighten out this mess. Your letter must be effective in order to resolve the problem, or you’ll end up with a problem on your credit report.

In the case where the job is of limited duration, perhaps with just a week or two of work, require some upfront money and a schedule of payments along the way. For example, let’s say you’re a freelance graphic designer. The client wants a logo and a new page layout for their website. You might want to split payments as follows: one third paid to begin, one third paid on acceptance of the design prototype, and the remainder paid on final delivery. This is a typical arrangement, which protects you, as the client demonstrates a commitment to getting the work done and paying you.