Optimizing for Online-to-Offline (O2O) Commerce

Online-to-offline commerce has brought online customers to brick and mortar stores. This business strategy uses emails and internet advertisements to entice online customers to come to the physical stores. The strategy is designed to create a seamless shopping experience, bringing the digital store together with the physical location. While online shopping continues to gain popularity, it is estimated that 82.5% of all retail sales will continue to happen as offline sales as late as 2021.

In digital marketing, this means optimization efforts in online marketing campaigns need to address the need for O2O strategies for a lot of eCommerce clients. Omni-channel commerce and multi-channel marketing encompass a broader, retail-specific approach that looks at the way the modern day consumer shops.

81% of shoppers today look at an online store before deciding to make a purchase, even when they choose to go to retail locations. For retailers, this means sales conversions are not so simple. A customer may look at a product on the website and choose not to purchase the item on the website, but it could still have been a sales conversion once the customer gets to the store.

The Basics of O2O

Before creating a complex marketing campaign, it’s important to understand exactly what O2O is and how it differs from traditional cross-platform marketing. A great example of O2O is free shipping on items purchased online to the physical location.

Offering the savings on shipping to customers gets them into the physical store, which could lead to them making a purchase in the store, as well. At the very least, it gets people into the physical location. It also lessens the burden of those looking online but not making the purchase, which can impact the conversion rates of a business. By looking at those transactions as successful conversions, a company can better assess the ROI of their marketing efforts.

Accepting returns at retail locations from purchases made online is another effective way of getting online customers in the door. Essentially, any process or customer experience that can be done either on or offline will increase the presence of customers at both. The easier a company can make the transition for customers, the more often they will make the transition.

When channels are treated as separate entities rather than as facets of the same business, a retailer creates a competitor for themselves. Merging business efforts into one business and customer platform or experience makes it easier on customers and puts more money in the pockets of business owners.

Impact on Major eCommerce

Many customers still enjoy going into a store, touching the merchandise, and often trying products out or on, then walking out with the merchandise in hand. In fact, 70% of millennials still prefer shopping in stores. Major brands in eCommerce noticed this gap and began opening storefronts that addressed the issue.

However, bringing the digital world into the physical locations could be just as important. Nordstrom is one of the largest fashion retailers in the country and has implemented data-driven experiences at retail locations that personalize the shopping experience for customers.

This works by tracking, following, and analyzing online customers. They use the information to decide which products to promote and how to promote them. While that isn’t terribly unique, the way they have brought it into their stores has made for a more personal experience for customers.

There is an opt-in app that pushes the online profile of customers to the salespeople working once they enter the store. This helps real-life workers personalize the shopping experience of in-person customers the way websites push products customers will likely enjoy.

The business model puts the focus on making the most personalized shopping experience for customers, which is one of the most important aspects for most consumers. Whether it is through online channels or at their favorite store, customers want to see the products they most like and have it customized to their unique needs. O2O provides the opportunity for companies to optimize based on this need and encourage returning customers by allowing similar options both on and offline.

shopping online to offline ecommerce

Click and Collect Shopping

In the first half of 2016, it was reported over half of retailers offered click-and-collect shopping services with 72% of customers taking advantage of the option. It seems customers like the ease of looking at products online but still want to have the feeling of walking out of a store with their items. Retail sales through this method have enticed online shoppers that would normally select what they want and check out to look around at what is being offered in-store.

However, instant gratification isn’t what every customer is looking for. In fact, 70% of online customers are happy with the cheapest form of home delivery and wouldn’t be willing to pay more for instant, same-day, or reliable timed delivery. For digital marketers, this means paying attention to the target audience of every client.

While an opt-in app made a more customizable experience for those looking for the higher end experience of Nordstrom, it’s unlikely a customer shopping for toilet paper at the closest store to their house would want the same experience.

Instead, looking at the purchasing trends of the client and their top competitors to customize how O2O is implemented into each business is key. Since customers are looking for an individual experience more often than not, it makes good business sense to treat a business’s specific customers differently than the average consumer.

At Genius eCommerce, we provide relevant industry news for online merchants and vendors to keep them up to date on trends that affect their sales and web traffic.

How Search Engine Rankings Work

One of the most important questions people ask when it comes to SEO is how they can get their pages to rank higher on search engines. Ranking certainly means a lot to your results. After all, the more eyes you are in front of, the more likely you are to generate attention and traffic.

The question is…how do you get there? How do search engines work to help you?

At Genius eCommerce, we are SEO experts and are always keeping up with the latest in eCommerce SEO to keep you informed on what tactics work and which ones you should avoid. Today, we will look at the ways that search engines rank your webpages and the process of getting a page to rank.

Before you can get into how search engines rank pages, you should know why pages are ranked. Obviously, the main reason why pages are ranked is to achieve related results for the person doing the searching.

For example, when you do a search for RV accessories and parts, the following displays:

search engine ranking results

The related results from the search include paid results, the boxes in the right-hand column that show top products, and the map to show nearby locations where you can get these parts and accessories. The organic traffic also appears lower on the page.

search engine ranking results

Search engines, like Google, Bing, and Yahoo are tools that help people find the things they are looking for, essentially a curator of sorts that brings relevant links to the forefront. If a bunch of random options displayed, they would stop using that search engine.

Now the question is, how do search engines get those results to the top so that you see only what is relevant on the first page of results?

It takes 5 steps to rank a page.

Step One

Classify the incoming search query. Classification provides search engines with the basic information that it needs to go through the remaining four steps. This can be classified as questions, local results, and other labels.

Step Two

Assign context. Search engines take all relevant information into account as results are being generated. For example, if you search for a weather update, you don’t have to list a specific location for a search engine to produce the local weather report. It takes the environmental and historical factors into consideration such as location, time, the device being used, whether your current query is related to previous queries and much more.

Step Three

Weighting. Search engines can apply weights for certain combinations where freshness matters. By “freshness” we mean the date with which a result was published or still relevant.

An example of where weightings take precedence in searches can be found in broad topics where authority holds the keys. If you searched a major historical event like Independence Day, you would probably get a few links to history websites and Wikipedia because of the authority they carry. However, if freshness were applied, you might get some more recent stories in the news or links to recent videos that were created about the event.

Step Four

Layout. If you have recently gone to Google or any other major search engine, you have seen this before. You type a search query in and as the results load, the layout changes. Some results produce listings for videos or images. Others produce related search terms and topics.

Search engines can determine which formats of results can apply to a specific query so that you get comprehensive results in the different categories of search engines, not just website listings.

Step Five

The final step is the ranking itself. This is where the search engines take all factors, put the query through its algorithm and analyze the data to get the best search results. It’s taking everything from the first four steps and running it through its process.

Getting your website ranked is actually fairly easy. However, it is understanding what a search engine does and the factors that can help you boost your keyword rankings that goes a long way. If you have a core understanding for search engines and how they work, you have a greater appreciation for the elements that go into rankings and a better understanding of what needs to be done on your end to achieve success.

Be sure to continue reading Genius eCommerce for more tips, trends, and news on eCommerce SEO. This is who we are and what we do, keeping you informed on the SEO landscape and the elements that make for an effective SEO campaign. Continue reading the Genius eCommerce blog for more.

The Importance of Meta Descriptions for eCommerce SEO

There are many small elements of SEO that can go a long way to getting better rankings and leading people to click through to your website. One of the factors that can be overlooked or undervalued is the use of meta descriptions.

Meta descriptions are the short descriptive blurb that explains the website’s content and products for potential customers that is usually located right below the link. For many eCommerce merchants, this is a place where you can offer a small description of a product, persuading the customer to click on the link and visit your website to potentially make a purchase.

Why are meta descriptions important to SEO? Today, Genius eCommerce will provide the reasoning behind the importance of using meta descriptions to your advantage and how this can help you achieve results. This is who we are and what we do!

Meta descriptions are important to SEO because they are a direct ranking factor. Much like how a keyword should appear early in your headline, you need to make sure your description is relevant to the content on the page. The snippet has to match the information that is being provided on the other side of the link, or you can experience lower results for a lack of matching.

Placing some extra care into your descriptions directly relates to choosing and pushing your keyword strategy. You know what keywords you want to rank for and you can further integrate these words into your strategy by placing them properly in meta descriptions.

Outside of just inserting the right keywords, there are also rich snippets that you can consider as well. Rich snippets include a picture or thumbnail video next to the text of the snippet and the link on the search page. Visuals tend to attract more visitors because they stand out more from the other listings and results on the page. They also are a sign of authority on Google.

In addition to being more bold and attractive to potential customers, rich snippets also help you propose a clear and unique objective, thus giving you a competitive edge. It’s essentially a way for customers to know why you are superior to your competition and ranking higher than they do. Rich snippets put the value of the product out there right away for your customers. These rich snippets can include a link to reviews, the price, the availability and more. The benefit here is that you get, essentially, more accurate analytics because more people are likely to click through and complete a purchase with so much information out there without having to leave the results page. They are only clicking on a result to make a purchase. It helps to increase your click-through rate and makes those clicks even more qualified to become potential customers.

The use of meta descriptions can take your digital marketing and SEO efforts to another level, especially if you are able to give the most effective information up front and use the right keywords so you can build your rankings.

At Genius eCommerce, we know the ins and outs of SEO and the trends that keep it moving in a positive direction. We want our tips to help keep you informed and ready for the changes that happen in SEO over the years. So keep reading the Genius eCommerce blog and stay up to date on all the latest SEO and digital marketing trends and tips.

Let’s Talk Google Ranking Factors

Over the years, another new factor in ranking on search engines like Google has popped up. In 2014, it was HTTPS. In 2015, mobile usability was a factor. In 2016, it was content development. In 2017, the focus was back on HTTPS. Last year, in 2018, the focus was on page speed, particularly for mobile.

So what will the factor be in 2019? Better yet, what factors, in general, are more important when it comes to ranking? There is so much to consider and some of these ranking factors may go hand in hand and have direct connections you may not notice.

Today, Genius eCommerce will talk ranking factors on Google and what goes into improving your rankings in 2019, the factors that will really move you forward this year. This is who we are and what we do, staying up to date and providing updates, trends, news and more in the eCommerce world.

High-Quality Content

Through the years, content remains king of your marketing efforts. The quality of your website writing and blog content is just as important now as ever before. Content needs to provide valuable information and add value to the customer. If there is no value, it will hurt your overall rankings with Google.

But, how do you do this?

Be mindful of what your customers want to know. Writing content that is geared toward your customers’ search queries goes a long way. Search intent provides great research on what your customers want to know from you or find from you. An analytics report can give you the insight you need to see what search results people are clicking and using to get to your website. You can then set up your content based on what you find.

Keyword research is not needed to rank with search engines, but it does serve as a basis for creating quality content. This can be an easy roadmap to regularly producing content that stays focused on topics and draws in visitors.

Your snippets on search engines can be just as important as the content itself. Rich snippets mark text and data using schema for better visibility on Google’s search results, which can lead to a better click-through rate, a lower bounce rate, and more conversions.

Finally, remember the importance of voice search and how many people have voice-activated devices such as Siri, Google Assistant or Amazon Echo. Voice search has been a growing trend for several years and with so many devices out there that respond to vocal cues, you want to optimize your search queries to respond to how people speak.

Be Mobile Friendly

Years ago, the way to be “mobile friendly” was to create a mobile version of the website. Instead of creating a mobile website that is hosted elsewhere, creating responsive websites is the way to go to achieve great rankings today.

There is no preference over mobile websites on Google, but having a responsive website is the recommended format that works best with their algorithms. In a time when mobile-first indexing is the thing, the mobile version of your website becomes crucial.

Website Security

In 2017, 30 percent of results on page one of Google were using HTTPS. Creating a secure website has become more important because some browsers will flag websites as not secure, most notably Google Chrome. With 45 percent of internet users using Chrome as their browser, this can pose a problem if your website is not secure.

HTTPS becomes essential, then, to show that your website is secure and can be trusted.

User Experience

User experiences is another important factor when it comes to SEO. You have to see it through your customers’ eyes and have an understanding of what they expect to see and want to see.

For many people, that has as much to do with appearance as anything. If a website looks good — has good graphics, images, content, and layout — it will keep the customer engaged and interested.

The way a website is laid out is another factor in this. It should be easy to navigate to and from different categories and headings with a proper site architecture.

The layout should be as simple as possible so that navigation remains easy and it shouldn’t take the customer much effort to find the product they are looking for.

Optimization

Part of the user experience is the waiting or lack thereof. People don’t like to wait for webpages to load, so having the website optimized to have a great page loading speed for all platforms, desktop and mobile included, is important. Slower websites tend to struggle because they are so often clicked by the customer and that visitor returns to the results because nothing happens.

In addition to page speed, having your on-page optimization completed will go a long way as well. Your technical SEO holds a stake in your position on search engines too, so taking care of these little behind the scenes aspects of optimization will also help.

Finally, don’t forget about link structure and metadata when planning your optimization. Little things like having title tags prepared and polished, having meta descriptions completed and having strong backlinks to boost your SEO are all important and help you build your results.

With these tips on the factors that can help you rank with search engines the way you want, you will see that, with time, the results will be there as well. That’s how Genius eCommerce is helping you, providing the latest updates, tips, trends and more on the eCommerce space.

Be sure to continue reading the Genius eCommerce blog for more on how we can help you stay up to date on everything you need to help stay informed during your eCommerce efforts.

Tips That Can Increase B2B eCommerce Sales and Repeat Customers

B2B eCommerce can be more complex than B2C, especially when it comes to acquiring new customers and retaining existing customers. The effort required by sales teams is much more intense for businesses.

Selling to new business obviously keeps things moving and improves your brand, it is the longevity of keeping existing customers that has a greater impact and should be the focus.

When it comes to tips for increasing your sales and keeping existing customers, many are the same, just applied differently based on the situation. Today, we will look at some of those tips and the way they can be applied for new customers and repeat customers.

This is who we are and what we do at Genius eCommerce. We are here to provide tips, tricks, trends and updates on everything eCommerce to keep you informed.

Customer Profiling – Creating customer profiles helps provide an understanding of the requirements and problem areas of a customer and help you deduct the cost of acquiring or retaining the customer. For new customers, you should create a profile that helps you identify the best target buyer persona. Identify technical or business needs and create messages that help solve these problems. For repeat customers, you are going to have better knowledge of the needs and problem areas. With that in mind, create a customer profile based on lifetime value and keep track of purchases and ongoing activity.

Personalization – B2B customers have higher expectations, so meeting them can require a lot of personalization. For new customers, use the customer profiles to segment based on requirements and purchase potential and use the information to offer relevant content and messaging based on preferences, industry and browsing history. For repeat customers, use the existing data to recommend more specific products at the right time.

Customer Service – It doesn’t matter if you are dealing with a prospective new customer or repeat customers, providing quality customer service is always necessary. Use multiple channels to offer support, address concerns from customers, answer questions, provide product demos and make things easy for the customer in an effort to improve the relationship.

Trust Building – Branching off of customer service, remaining honest and transparent with customers can increase your credibility. For new customers, display positive reviews and testimonials, deliver products on time and make all policies easy to access. For repeat customers, take account of their feedback, act appropriately on negative reviews, be sensitive in protecting user data and always try to deliver a pleasant experience.

Incentives – Customers of all sorts love incentives, getting a little something that makes a sale more worth it to them. For new customers, offer a free trial or discount period, perhaps free shipping or installation. For repeat customers, provide incentives for them helping to promote your business through social media, testimonials and making repeat purchases.

Increasing customer engagement can help you bring in new customers and stay involved with repeat customers. All of this helps build up a trust, which can help take your business to new heights.

If you found these tips helpful, keep reading the Genius eCommerce blog for more. This is who we are and what we do. We provide updates, tips, tricks and trends on everything in the eCommerce industry.

Why Content and SEO Are One of the Biggest eCommerce Trends in 2019

Content and SEO have always been important in the eCommerce space. But in 2019, it holds an increasingly important role.

Your SEO is what helps you rank on search engines and make an impact on organic results. It is the keywords that customers will be targeting that can direct them to you and your website, leading to conversions.

Content can add fuel to the SEO fire. Your content can be aided by the use of keywords that help them rank better in search engines, while also expanding your SEO efforts. All of these steps are greatly important.

Today, we will look at the importance of content and SEO, how the two go hand in hand, and why both are a trend in 2019. We’re Genius eCommerce, providing eCommerce tips, tricks, updates and more. This is who we are and what we do.

These things become more important in an age when paid media — elements like Google, Facebook, and Amazon — and the paid media teams cost quite a bit of money. In this age, having a blog and putting it to use is of great importance. In fact, so many eCommerce stores have a blog only to not use it.

For many people, this is because they feel like their product pages do enough of the SEO work. There are others who know the importance of SEO and what blogging can do, but just feel like they are not gifted enough to be a writer and put together posts on their industry, products or other related topics.

However, writing blog posts and producing contact that Google can push is important. Google pushes pages that can answer questions and be informative to readers. It’s important to have backlinks and content that matches what people are searching for and their intentions in searching that term. It’s why the SEO process includes a comprehensive audit of your strengths and weaknesses. It’s why SEO embraces content like tutorials, videos, and articles that provide a direct answer to a question.

Your content is important in building a brand. Your content is important for search terms and keyword placement. Your content can also stretch across platforms, into audio podcasts and YouTube videos, really increasing your reach.

A big reason for an emphasis on content is how many people are online and how much time they spend online. For retailers, this means putting their attention online and finding ways to engage with customers through a variety of platforms from social media to blogs to chatrooms and more.

Simply put, content and SEO are becoming the driving force in achieving success. You need to have new content regularly. You need to be up to speed on SEO practices. Once you put your energy into achieving the results you desire on search engines, you can expect to see the organic reach find success and reach new heights, leading to more conversions and customers for you.

Continue reading the Genius eCommerce blog for more tips, tricks, trends, updates and more from the world of eCommerce. This is who we are and what we do!

How To Make Your Landing Pages Stand Out

A landing page to a website is like walking through the door of a brick and mortar location. It is the first place you see when you enter an eCommerce website. Landing pages are different than the homepage in that they are a more targeted location to place customers in the right spot for the products they want.

Landing pages can have a 5 to 15 percent higher conversion rate and are great for lead generation. Many landing pages get overshadowed by the homepage or product pages when it comes to preparing these pages and designing them.

At Genius eCommerce, we focus on all aspects of eCommerce websites from design to development to content and more. This is who we are and what we do, keeping you informed and updated on tips, trends and more in eCommerce.

Today, we will look at some tips for landing pages and ways that you can make yours stand out.

Avoid the Homepage – Your homepage should never serve as a landing page. There can be too much wording and visitors can easily get lost in their search. Having a dedicated landing page will perform better at generating leads and creating conversions, which is the primary focus of the page.

Include Specific Elements – Each landing page you create should have several different elements, among them a headline and sub-headline, a description of the offer, an image or video that supports the content, and any supporting elements such as testimonials, logos or security badges. Perhaps the most important element is to include a form on the landing page that allows you to get information. At the very least, if a form is not possible, include a call to action button to get visitors to the next step.

Limit Navigation – Unlike your homepage and product pages, the goal of a landing page is to give the visitor what they are looking for immediately. With this in mind, keep the navigation options on these pages to a minimum or not even present at all. This way, there is no possibility that they can wander off the landing page to a different page that does not pertain to their interests.

Clear and Simple Objective – Landing pages are also designed to give a clear and concise definition of what the page is about. A landing page should not be too wordy or hold too much information. Limit the amount of copy and additional media on the page to the necessities and keep the content organized. The most important thing is that the call to action is clear to the visitor.

Match Content – Consider the conversion path when creating landing pages. If a visitor comes to a landing page through a PPC ad, consider the language of the PPC ad. By echoing the same message as the previous ad, the customer feels like they are where they need to be and more likely to process. Give different information from the ad and they are more likely to click the back button.

Create Multiple Landing Pages – Every time you have an offer or new campaign, create a new landing page. The more landing pages you create, the more opportunity you have to connect with customers, generate leads and convert.

Using these tips can help you create landing pages that can be successful with the right message and products.

At Genius eCommerce, our goal is to keep you informed so you can succeed in the eCommerce space. It’s who we are and what we do. Continue reading the Genius eCommerce blog for more.