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Posts Tagged ‘community’

E-Tailers: This Holiday Season Use Facebook and Twitter as Your Online Mall

Thursday, November 12th, 2009

Most people can’t stand the malls around the holidays. Too many people and too little parking spaces help keep shoppers away from the malls not only on Black Friday but throughout the holiday season.  Increasingly where have some of these shoppers turned for their holiday shopping instead of going to the mall?  Well with the mass of online shopping that gets going now on Cyber Monday and continues through the holidays, online shopping has created a great alternative to those people who want to avoid the crowds.

So what is different this year than previous years when it comes to online shopping and targeting these shoppers for our online store?  Unlike last year, many of the online shoppers now are on Twitter and Facebook and other social media and networking sites.  This creates a great opportunity for e-retailers and their online stores. But you have to have a strategy and be relentless about executing on that strategy to take advantage of this new trend.  Here are some helpful tips to get you going so you can turn all those shoppers that are using Twitter, Facebook and other sites into paying customers.

1. Join and Listen. If you are not already on Twitter and Facebook, join these sites or the social networking sites where your customers and potential customers are at. Once you join, start actively listening to conversations on these sites. The better you listen the more effective this type of social customer research will be for your small business.

2. Use Search Terms. Based on your research, use Twitter and Facebook to try to set up search terms (especially with Twitter) that relate to both your business and products that you sell. TweetDeck is a tool that you can use for your business to set up and track search terms across all conversations that are on Twitter. It is a really powerful tool. So for example, if you sell rugs at PlazaRugs.com like a former colleague of mine Andy Ketter you would want to set up in TweetDeck search columns related to “rugs” and maybe even certain brand name rugs.  This will help you track the conversations that are going on that may relate to your product or service that your business offers.

3. Quickly Act on Mentions.  The key to using Twitter and Facebook effectively here is that when someone mentions one of your search terms (i.e. products/services) during a conversation that occurs in the greater community on Twitter, Facebook or another site, you act quickly to join the conversation and even make contact with that person inquiring about a product you may carry or service you perform. Once you make contact with that person by sending a tweet to them, you can engage in a conversation with someone in the online mall.  You can even try to recommend your product or service if the shopper is inquiring on Twitter or Facebook about who sells a particular product that is similar to yours.

4. How it plays out. The best way to demonstrate this is through an example.  So if your online store sells  any and all types of T-shirts related to beautiful Cleveland, Ohio, you can try search terms that relate to “Cleveland”, T-Shirts”, and “Funny T-Shirts.”  So when someone in a Twitter conversation tweets, “I am looking for a funny t-shirt.” or when someone on Facebook updates their status and says “Wish I could find a funny t-shirt about my dad’s hometown in Cleveland.”, you can join the conversation and casually (now don’t be too pushy) suggest that they check out your store for a t-shirt that has a picture of the year Cleveland Browns won the Super Bowl…..that is funny because it never happened and will likely never happen in any Cleveland fans’ lifetime. Or maybe you sell them a picture of when the Cuyahoga River caught on fire just outside of Cleveland…

So there you have it. Start using Twitter, Facebook and other social media sites this holiday season so you can be in the right place at the right time in the online mall.  In the end the sheer volume of shoppers who are in the online mall on Twitter and Facebook will present a unique sales opportunity this holiday season for your store that did not exist last year.  You just need to have the tools set up so you can a) know where your potential customers are at; b) quickly act when these leads suggest in their online conversations interest in products or services you offer; and c)  turning your interactions with these leads into holiday sales!

Tell us how you plan to use Twitter and Facebook this holiday season for your business.

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Posts Tagged ‘community’

Make Me A Clown Now! While You Are At It Teach Me What to Expect When I Start Selling Online Part 2

Friday, October 16th, 2009

This is the second part of the two part posting about starting to sell online. You can read the first part here.

Yes, you can be a clown and you can start selling online pretty quickly. You can even be a clown while you are selling online. The trick is to make sure you do not act like a clown when you get set up to start selling online. This post will cover some key items that every person who wants to take their business online needs to think about as they get going.

Test, Test, Test

It is painful, but you must be constantly testing changes to the website. The tests should not be wholesale changes, but should be controlled. So many people focus on getting the product line-up just right, or the purchase flows streamlined or the website to have the ideal color. The truth is you need to keep testing changes to your website. Nearly every component should be tested to see how visitors to your website interact with the website. Controlled testing is key. That is commonly known as A/B testing and here is a great summary of A/B testing. It basically means you show a change to the website to only 50% or so of the visitors and 50% of the visitors do not see the change. The analysis that is so valuable is what happens to the other 50% of visitors who see the changed website. Do they convert at a higher rate, do they stay on the website longer, do they click the new link that you added etc. This is the value of testing and more testing until you optimize the various areas of your site, but even then continued testing will help you as shoppers’ habits evolve.

Be Flexible

This may be the most important of all. To be a seller online, you need to be flexible. You may think that customers and shoppers will respond a certain way, but you need to be prepared to expect the unexpected. Inflexible folks just can not make it as merchants online.  Even better, if you are flexible and are addressing your customers needs that will create customer loyalty with your business.  Remember customers like to deal with businesses that listen to them and also take action on customer feedback. This flexibility can also lead to your customers being your best advocates through word of mouth recommendations about your business and products.  All of this from just listening to your customers and acting on their feedback!

These are just a few of the things to keep in mind. Do you have any lessons learned from your experience selling online that you want to share?

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Posts Tagged ‘community’

Make Me A Clown Now! While You Are At It Teach Me What to Expect When I Start Selling Online Part 1

Thursday, October 15th, 2009

Yes, you can be a clown and you can start selling online pretty quickly. You can even be a clown while you are selling online. The trick is to make sure you do not act like a clown when you get set up to start selling online. This post will cover some key items that every person who wants to take their business online needs to think about as they get going.


There are many ways to approach your website. Many people just jump in a buy a ready-made template from a website template company. Be careful of doing that too quickly. The trick is that before you actually dive into buying a template or building your website, you must take the time to plan out a few things about your website. Take some time to review websites that sell similar products that you are going to sell or are in a similar industry so you can see different looks and feels for websites. After you have done this, sketch out the pages of your planned website on a piece of paper. This will help you visualize your website and better inform you when you get to the point where you are considering different options for templates or designers that will design your website. The key is taking a few minutes to plan out the vision of your website. If you do that, the process for building your actual website will run a lot smoother. Too many people just skip this step and go to the template or design stage and do this on the fly. You can do this, but it will be a much bigger challenge than if you planned it out.

Your community

Customers…..Who are going to be your customers for the products that you sell? Figure out who are the customers, but go one step further and try to think about the influencers for the customers. That is the community that you want to build for your website and your products. For example, a seller of athletic equipment like wrist wraps and weights are selling to customers that want to use this equipment to get healthy. But other influencers for this can be athletic clubs and personal trainers. As the seller of the equipment thinks about building a community through a blog or other forms of social media, the seller should aim to serve the greater community of customers and influencers in order to build a community of followers.

Tracking and Interacting with Customers

Once a customer has purchased from you that is not the end of your relationship. Now as a seller online, especially where shoppers have so many options it is imperative that sellers maintain a relationship with the customer. Part of this is selfish because only the customer can give you feedback about their experience with the products that you have sold them. But more importantly, the customer’s feedback before, during and after the purchase experience will give you important feedback that will help you improve your customer experience. Without it, you are literally flying blind. So how do you interact and track customers. There are a number of customer tracking applications that will help you work to interact with your customers. These include Kampyle (feedback tracker), SugarCRM (customer relationship manager) and CrowdSound (feedback widget). Not to mention, you can always just pick up the phone or email the customer to get feedback. This may be the most underrated way to interact with customers because most sellers just do not think about doing that. Call your customer! You will not regret it, but be prepared for the feedback because it could be brutally honest.

Stayed tuned for Part 2 of this post tomorrow.

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