Wednesday, July 18, 2018

How To Develop Your Brand In 5 Steps

Your brand identity is extremely important, whether you’re a large corporation or a small startup. A successful brand invokes positive feelings. Your brand is your company’s story, its values, and its products. Without a strong brand you can easily be lost in the shuffle.

Your brand is what draws in new customers and keeps current customers loyal. You want your branding to be consistent, from your social media presence to your photography. And we’re here to help you do that.

It may sound a bit overwhelming, but we’re making this easy for you with just 5 steps.

1.      Think About Your Products

Think about your products carefully. So much of your brand gets built simply because of the items you sell. There are a few questions you’ll want to ask yourself to help you define your brand:
·        Why are you selling the products?
·        Why not something else instead?
·        How do your products help customers with their problems?
·        What makes your product unique?
·        What words would you use to describe your products?

By answering these questions, you’ve given yourself the framework you need to start building your brand.

2.      Consider Design Aesthetics

Your design needs to be consistent across all channels. The colors and fonts you use will build associations about your brand, so think about design carefully. Consider the style of your brand – is it more formal, or more casual? These types of questions will help you determine the design pallet you use for your brand.

What colors represent your brand’s personality? Your color pallet can have a huge influence on the way your brand is viewed. When working with typography, make sure you’re choosing fonts that are easy to read, but still represent the tone of your brand. Your photography should also reflect your brand’s color pallet.

You should use all of these elements when it comes to designing your company logo. This logo should be creative but easy to understand and memorable.

3.      Build A Brand Voice

Your brand voice will determine the tone of the copy you use on your website, social media accounts, and with customers.

By now you’ve already figured out the personality of your company, and that will dictate the tone of your brand. Your social media posts shouldn’t be written in a friendly, casual manner if all the content of your website is professional and technical. Once you choose a brand voice you need to stick with it across all channels.

Having a consistent brand voice is extremely important when it comes to connecting with your customers.

4.      Think About Brand Channels

How do you reach your audience? The platforms and physical locations where you reach consumers makes up your brand channels. You may have a physical storefront, conduct business exclusively online, or a mix of both. Your branding needs to be visible across all of these channels to help you create a consistent message.

Your branding aesthetics should be clear across your website banners, social media banners and posts, business cards, physical promotional materials, your storefront, and anywhere else your brand is visible.

Think about how different channels can share different aspects of your brand. Feature image galleries and blog posts on your website to give your audience an in-depth look at your company. Social media allows you to interact directly with customers and present your products in a way that makes the products about your customer, and not about your business. Advertising through social media and Google is another channel that needs to adhere to your brand standards. If you have a physical storefront, train your staff to interact with customers according to brand guidelines.

5.      Don’t Forget Packaging & Promotional Materials

Your branding doesn’t stop after a customer has purchased products from you. You also need to consider the packaging you choose. Do you want to promote eco-friendly values? You can do that with eco-friendly packaging. Do your customers want extra protection for products during shipping, or are they more minimalistic? These are the types of questions that should influence your package branding.

Easy ways you can personalize your packaging to reflect your brand includes:

·        Labels
·        Stickers
·        Fabric Labels
·        Tags
·        Flyers/Notes

You may also consider creating custom packaging, but that can get very expensive very quickly. Adding little touches inside your packaging materials is just as effective and less expensive.

In Conclusion

Building a brand can take a lot of hard work, but it’s easier to get started than you think. By starting with these 5 steps you’ll be well on your way to creating a memorable brand that your customers will love.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Retain Customers With The Best Return Practices

There’s no way around returns. The product your customer purchased may not fit, may not be exactly what they wanted, or may arrive damaged. No matter the reason for the return, it is important you use the best return practices you can to retain that customer in the future.

Retaining customers is much more inexpensive than gaining new ones, so even if you have to take a loss it is important you try to retain each customer’s business. If your return policy causes your customers grief not only will you lose their business, you will lose business due to their negative feedback.

A hassle-free return policy is an easy way for your business to keep customers happy and loyal. While return fraud is a real concern and absorbing shipping costs can be expensive, these are things you can work around in your return policy.

Instead of thinking of returns as a loss of time and money, think of them as an opportunity for excellent customer service that will bring your customers back again and again.

Here’s how.

Have A Clear, Easy To Understand Return Policy

Your customers are already dissatisfied with your product, so don’t irritate them with a policy that is difficult to find or understand. Keep the language of your return policy simple and easy to skim.
For example, take a look at the Return Policy.

We have a single landing page that clearly explains our return policy, including an “Important Notes” section that states requirements for returns. Our language is free of legal jargon so it is easy for our customers to understand just by scanning.

Include Return Information In The Packaging

Making it more difficult for customers to return products they are unhappy with is shortsighted. When finding return information is challenging, customers become annoyed and more likely to avoid your business in the future.

Including a simple note with your packaging makes it easy for customers to find the information they need. Your customers will appreciate not needing to search the website for your return information. Don’t worry; including the information in the packaging will not make customers more likely to return it.

Don’t Begrudge Customers For Returns

It may be true that the customer is the one who broke your product or didn’t read the description closely enough, but if you resist taking the return it will hurt you in the long run.

Not only will it infuriate your customers, it will waste a great deal of time and you may lose that customer forever. If the experience is bad enough, that customer may leave negative feedback that other customers will see, or tell their loved ones about their negative experience losing you more customers. Returns are a part of any business, so make sure to provide excellent customer service to try and retain the customer. In fact, providing customers with an excellent return experience can gain a lot of customer loyalty.

Ask Customers For Feedback

Ask customers why they are making the return. While this idea seems very straightforward, you can use this feedback to make big changes so you have fewer returns in the future.

By tracking feedback patterns you will get a better idea of why a return was made. If a lot of products are returned due to damage, for example, you may not be packaging your products correctly. If customers state the product doesn’t meet the description, it may be time to update your product copy and photographs. Returns are an excellent opportunity for you to make improvements to your business.

Keep Customers Updated

There’s nothing more infuriating than waiting for your money to be returned to you, or for a replacement product to arrive. Luckily it is easy enough to update customers about the state of their returns via email or phone.

Inform customers when you receive the returned item(s) and how long it will take for the replacement item to arrive or for the money to show in their account. Your customers will be glad they don’t need to keep calling your business for this information.

Cover Return Shipping, If You Can

Depending on the size of your business you may not be able to afford to cover return shipping, but customers will appreciate it if you can.

Customers may be irritated at being forced to pay return shipping costs. As a compromise, you may consider covering return shipping for specific situations, such as a damaged product.

What return practices are you using for your business? What has worked and what hasn’t?

Friday, July 6, 2018

5 Marketing Mistakes and How To Fix Them

Whether you’re a large corporation or a small business, you are doing marketing of some kind. If you aren’t seeing the return on your investment you were expecting, it’s possible you’ve made some marketing mistakes along the way.

Luckily it’s not too difficult to change these marketing blunders into successes.

Mistake 1: Using Too Many Social Media Platforms

For the most part, all businesses know they need to be active on at least one social media platform. The problem is when companies decide to take on too many social media platforms. While it makes sense on the surface to sign up for every platform you can, that may be a poor choice. Unless you’re a large corporation you likely don’t have the resources to churn out amazing content for each platform on a daily basis.

Instead, focus on the social media platforms your customers are most likely to be using. Check your analytics to see what platforms are most worthy of your efforts. Once you know that, focus on producing quality content for those couple platforms.

Mistake 2: You Aren’t Paying Attention to Your Competitors

Look at their marketing strategies. What are they doing? What tactics do they try and never do again? What tactics get them a lot of customer engagement? Read their blog, watch them on social media, and sign up for their newsletter. This is a very easy way to see how your direct competition is interacting with your customers.

You can take what they’re doing well and do it better, and learn from the mistakes they make so you don’t make them yourself.

Mistake 3: Ignoring Current Customers

It’s easy to get too focused on chasing leads and attracting new customers. While this is an important part of your marketing strategy, your goal shouldn’t be to get a one-time sale from new customers, but to get customers to stick around.

Make sure you stay in touch with your current customers, both those who have only purchased from you once and those that have been buying from you regularly. Email marketing is the easiest way to accomplish this, but no matter what you do make sure you have a marketing plan in place for these existing customers.

Mistake 4: Not Using a Call to Action

You create a great piece of content and publish it to your blog or a social media platform. But then what? Without a call to action, customers will likely read the content and move on. You want to turn those readers into buyers, and to do that you need to use a call to action.

What is the purpose of the piece of content you’ve created? You may want to promote a certain product, direct customers to a landing page, or generate more traffic across your blog. Whatever it is, there needs to be a call to action so your customers will take that next step. Even better, you can use a call to action button so customers simply have to click and go.

Mistake 5: Not Thinking Like Your Customer

You may think the details about your product are obvious, but they likely aren’t to your customer. You also want to make sure to write in a language your customers are going to understand. Avoid jargon and write with a tone that your audience will relate to.

Your customer should be in your mind every time you write a blog post, email, or product description. Don’t write something you like, write something the customer will like.

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Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Keep Customers Happy With Excellent Parcel Delivery

Your job isn’t over once you’ve packaged a product and sent it to your customers. You may have the perfect customer service, efficient and professional packaging, and an amazing product, but customers can still leave you angry reviews because of the delivery of your parcel.

This means that even if the carrier is to blame you’ll be the one to suffer the negative feedback. Luckily there are ways you can counteract this. These seven tips will help keep your customers happy with your brand, even if something goes wrong.

Schedule delivery times with your customers so your parcels aren’t left sitting on their doorstep in the elements and vulnerable to thieves. Of course this will depend on the carrier you are using. If you can offer a specific delivery time, give customers the option, especially for more expensive products.

Provide delivery windows if you can’t schedule a specific time. Even if you can’t guarantee delivery on a specific date, you can often provide a delivery window of several hours.

Allow customers to request specifics when it comes to parcel delivery. Customers can leave instructions about where they would like parcels left if they are not home. This will give your customers more control over the delivery process and prevents costly mistakes.

Send tracking details over the course of the delivery. Inform customers of when a parcel ships, when it arrives, and maybe even while the parcel is in transit.

Use preferred communication mediums for each customer. Give them the option to receive updates on their parcel via email, text message, or by utilizing a company tracking landing page. Your customers will appreciate being notified about their order, and giving them the option for how to receive those notifications will make you stand out.

Offer a tracking page that customers can visit at any point during the delivery process. Having this page means you’ll field less questions from customers about where their parcel is. Additionally, by creating a branded tracking page you are encouraging further engagement with your customers. It’s a great place to cross sell as well.

Provide excellent customer service, especially if something goes wrong. It may not be your fault something went wrong with the delivery of your products, but it isn’t the customer’s fault either. Be understanding and helpful so that your customers still view you in a positive light.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

How To Offer Free Shipping Without Losing Money

You have amazing products, you know exactly how to package and ship your products, and you have steady sales from loyal customers. But even loyal customers keep their eyes out for better deals across the internet. The cost of shipping can make a huge impact on if a customer ultimately buys from you or not.

Unexpected shipping costs are the number one reason why shopping carts get abandoned during a transaction. You may not be able to offer free shipping all the time, but using free shipping as a promotion is a great way to get a spike in sales.

Your goal is to not only get more sales, but to show customers why they should stick around and shop with you in the future. Take these steps to update your website so it’s looking its best before you run your successful free shipping promotion.

Is Free Shipping A Real Thing?

Of course, no shipping service is going to ship your products for free, so when offering a free shipping promotion you’re going to have to absorb the costs.

The first thing you need to do is to calculate if a free shipping promotion will work for your company. The sad truth is it may not. Some companies simply will not be able to offer free shipping to customers without it negatively impacting their profit margins. If you’re considering offering free shipping as a promotion, you may want to reconsider if:

·        You sell large and heavy products, which are much more expensive to ship.
·        Most of your orders are shipped internationally, or to Alaska and Hawaii.
·        You have a low profit margin on many of your products.

For the rest of you, free shipping will likely help to boost your sales because you aren’t forced to absorb extremely high shipping costs. Here are some of the ways you can run your free shipping promotion without losing money.

1.      Set A Minimum Order Requirement

Setting a minimum order for customers to receive free shipping is an excellent way to boost sales, get customers to browse more of your products, and reduces the risk of you losing money during a free shipping promotion. Think about your average order size. The goal is to have customers spend more than that to get the free shipping. Your minimum threshold should be 10% to 15% higher than the average order on your website.

2.      Offer Free Shipping To The 48 Contiguous States

An easy way to avoid absorbing high shipping costs is to only offer the promotion to residents of the 48 contiguous states. You must make sure that his caveat is extremely clear. Don’t simply put it in the fine print, because this could lead to angry customers if they get to the end of the purchase and discover they have to pay shipping.

3.      Increase The Prices On Your Products

This could be a risky move depending on how many loyal customers you have. We don’t recommend increasing your prices by the full shipping cost, but adding a dollar or two to the product price can help to offset the cost of you covering the shipping.

4.      Adjust Your Return Policy

This is something you can add to the fine print of your free shipping offer. When customers return items that you’ve offered free shipping on, you’re taking a big financial hit since you paid to package and ship the product to the customer. State that items returned during the free shipping promotion are subject to a “restocking” fee equal to the amount it cost to ship the customer the product.

5.       Offer Free Shipping On Select Items

If you’re worried that free shipping isn’t feasible for everything on your website, consider offering free shipping on specific product categories that already give you a higher profit margin. By offering free shipping for specific types of products you can guarantee that you can absorb the shipping costs while still making a profit.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

How To Properly Pack Electronics

Electronics are expensive, fragile, and highly coveted. If you package your electronic products just slightly incorrectly, you could be out hundreds of dollars when they arrive damaged in customers’ hands. We think that proper packaging is always important, but it’s especially important for electronics.

Shipping electronics doesn’t have to be hard. Once you have a procedure down for packaging these fragile items you’ll never have to worry about damaged electronics again.

1.      Give Extra Care to Batteries. Lithium-ion batteries store a lot of power. Temperature changes, especially during shipping, can create a high charge of static electricity. Both static electricity and excessive heat can cause your battery to short-circuit, which can lead to fire. Keep batteries covered with a non-conductive material to stop this from happening.

2.      Separate Equipment Into Multiple Pieces. This includes cords. Not only does this reduce the risk of damage to your components, but it makes your shipment more organized. Label each piece to make it easier for your customer to find what they need when they are unpacking your shipment. Bundle up cords so they take up less space. If you have small parts, make sure they are kept in their own, sealed packaging.

Try: Poly Bags

3.      Use Bubble Wrap For Your Larger Electronic Components. We recommend taping the bubble wrap in place to keep your larger electronic components more secure. You don’t want to place a printer in a box without any cushioning. Wrap these components in at least two layers of bubble wrap.

4.      Use Void Fill. Don’t be conservative. If your electronics have too much room in the corrugated carton to move around, you’re taking a huge risk. When placing your products in the box start with a layer of loose fill before you start putting anything inside. Continue to layer in the rest of your electronic parts among the loose fill. Make sure to fill your box to the top with the loose fill. If when you shake the box you can hear movement, you need more void fill.

5.      Seal Your Box With High Quality Tape. Consider how strong the tape is and how it will stand up to water and different temperatures. There’s a lot of different types of tape, and the one you choose should depend on the conditions under which your package will ship.

6.      Consider Double Boxing Your Electronics. While not always necessary, this gives your electronics an extra layer of protection. The second box should be about 2 inches larger than your original box. Place your original box inside the second box, making sure to fill up the extra space with more loose fill. Seal this box with tape.

One last tip; be sure to invest in quality shipping supplies from trusted sources such as to ensure you have the right packaging strategy and the right packaging supplies.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Use the Desire for Experience to Your Advantage

A lot has changed in the world over the past couple of decades. Selling used to be a fairly straightforward venture, with a business selling their product and people buying it. But as the years go by, more and more people want to be shopping from responsible companies, small businesses, and companies that have a voice.

As millennials and generation Z get more buying power, brands need to be ready to adjust their marketing strategies to attract new customers. Research has shown that millennials in particular value experiences over goods. So, how can you use this knowledge to get customers to purchase your products?

If you think about experiences, you likely think about big vacations and adventures, but experiences are actually much simpler than that. Going out to dinner, getting drinks with friends, and taking a walk in town all can fall under the term “experiences”.

So, how can you mix this into your marketing strategy?

Use Social Proof

In the era of social media, more and more people are turning to friends for recommendations when it comes to purchases. Consumers are also checking reviews and social media platforms before making a decision.

By offering social proof, you’ll show consumers that your brand and products can be trusted, because people are already talking about them on social media.

Add faces to reviews. Share stories from consumers about how your product changed their lives. Share glowing reviews on your social media channels and in email blasts.

You can often get these reviews simply by asking your customers for them.

Utilizing user generated content is another great way to create social proof. Ask your customers to share photos of them using your product. This works particularly well if you make it part of a contest. The more social proof your brand has, the better the sales will be.

Use Social Media

This is different than generating social proof. Utilizing social media to create an experience for your customers is one of the best strategies you can implement.

The first way to do this is simply to interact with your customers. Fostering engagement with your customers will make them more satisfied with the experience of shopping with you. Reply to comments and answer messages. It shows your customers that you care about them, and leaves them with a positive idea of your company in their mind long after the interaction is over.

You should also aim to create content that drives customer engagement. Not only does this increase your organic reach, but today’s consumers love the ability to interact. Try creating a poll, asking consumers to share photos, or discuss a topic in the comments of your posts.

Create Memories

Memories are powerful when it comes to marketing. By creating positive memories for your customer, you are more likely to gain their loyalty. There are plenty of ways you can create memories for your customers that don’t rely on only your products.

You may choose to host events. Free classes, webinars, workshops, and special sales are excellent events that you can hold in-person or online to get people’s attention. When they think back on your brand they won’t think only of your product, but how your event helped them or created a positive experience for them.

Tell a Story

Telling stories can move people in ways that simple advertising cannot. By using stories you can form a deeper connection with your audience. You can use stories to humanize your brand. Find ways to inspire using your product, then craft a story about it.

The story can be as simple as you featuring an image of your product in use with a bit of copy. It’s all about showing how your product or service is creating stories and being a part of people’s lives.

What are you doing to create experiences for your customer? Let us know in the comments!