The Absolute Best Black Friday Deal Ever

black-friday-shopping-fight

As more retailers look to jump the gun on Black Friday, consumers are becoming increasingly numb to the amount of deals thrown their way. Suddenly Black Friday seems to be more of a day dedicated to liquidation rather than gift giving. The pic above actually shows a fight that broke out in front of a Target. Can you believe this? People are actually fighting to get a place in line to spend their money. Apparently 6 out of 10 consumers fear getting injured in the Black Friday rush. Half of all consumers plan to avoid brick and mortar shopping completely in favor of the seamless etail experience.

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Creating the Fuzzy Feeling Through Customer Service

Conversion Optimization

how to increase conversion rates through support

In the world of customer service, people expect that their questions will be answered in a timely manner. Customers expect that their warranties will be serviced with a quick turnaround. Many companies think that meeting expectations is their expectation. If you strive to meet expectations, you were probably ok with getting a C- in school (in some of my fourier transforms engineering class, I was stoked to pull a C-, but mostly I aimed higher). You will probably be ok with getting a 2.5 star rating too. To me, mediocrity is synonymous with failure because YOU are better than that and your company can be too.

Another mistake I would say we’ve been guilty of is data-mongering. While it is important to be data driven, you could spend a lifetime A/B testing on Optimizely and yield small gains by changing a button size here or there. The simple magic of great customer service can can have an even more profound impact on ROI at a fraction of the cost of expensive website optimization.

is customer service a task or an opportunity?

My newfound insight to customer service came after I read Tony Hsieh’s book on Delivering Happiness. He accounts a bunch of stories of Zappos employees going above and beyond the call of duty to provide an amazing customer experience. He talked about a night where he and his friends were out getting wasted in Las Vegas and they called their customer service looking for pizza at 3am. Zappos sells shoes and clothing (not pizza). Despite that, the customer service rep pulled up five locations in Las Vegas that were still delivering pizza. If a customer service rep did that for me at 3am, I’d remember that forever no matter how wasted I was.

If a customer service rep looked at that situation and thought, “damn this guy is retarded for calling me about ordering pizza in Las Vegas” then she would have hung up on them. That task is not in her job description. Instead, this rep saw an opportunity to help a customer above and beyond the call of duty and create a phenomenal experience

OneDoesNotSimply Customer service experimentation goes to work

I came into the office on Monday and I asked Ben, “yo dude, how’s that live chat on the website been working for ya?” Ben replied, “Oh I turned that shit off. It’s so annoying and nobody every buys anything. It’s just a waste of my time.” In some ways, I see where he’s coming from. Ben is our lead web developer so anytime he pulls his attention off from pushing code, he probably does the bare minimum to get the customer the info they need. So I asked Ben if he could set me up with the Olark account for taking care of live chat. Olark is a pretty sweet app that embeds right into our Shopify cart system. There are a number of good customizable automation features in there to make the experience efficient for both support reps and customers.

My hypothesis was that if I provided A+ customer service while creating a personal connection with people visiting our store, I could get more people to convert. It’s not typically the CEO’s job to be doing customer support live chat, but this was more about testing the hypothesis.

Customer #1 (Europe)

Someone messaged me from Europe asking about our warranty policy. I was caught off guard in tunnel vision and completely missed the conversation. The customer bounced. I failed.  Fix: Set audible notifications and leave the chat window in my external monitor so that it is visible at all times.

Customer #2 (NYC)

This guy asked me about painting a Boombot:

Customer2: Can you paint these things?

Me: Absolutely! I’ve painted a couple myself and they make a pretty good medium. My recommendation would be to use primer on the unit first. Acrylic paint holds quite well as does spray paint. I use a hard spray on Krylon clear coat when it’s done. It can still scratch, but the paint holds pretty well overall.

Customer2: Wow, thanks. That was helpful.

Me: What kind of stuff do you paint? If you’d like to submit you custom Boombot, we could post it up on the blog and link back to your work.

Customer2: No way! That would be awesome! Let me see which unit I like. I might come back and buy a couple.

Me: Sure thing. Hey, why don’t you take this free shipping discount too!

Customer2: Whoa, awesome. Thanks!

Me: Anytime!

This customer proceeded to add $350 of things to their shopping cart… but then they left. I was a little bummed I didn’t get the conversion, but I felt good about the interaction overall.

Customer #3 (Florida)

Customer3: Are you guys shipping the REX now?

Me: Ya man! We’re stoked! We are finally shipping these.

Customer3: Hey so I wrote you guys about sponsorship a little while ago but I didn’t hear anything back.

Me: Really? We get a lot of requests that come our way and sometimes we don’t see every one. What sport do you do?

Customer3: I’m a nationally ranked archer in high school right now.

Me: No way! I love archery. Tell you what Robin Hood, maybe I can get you a little deal on a speaker like what we give our other amateur athletes and maybe you can shoot some photos of you shooting with your Boombot. How’s that sound?

Customer3: Whoa cool! Thanks! Hey, are you guys hiring by chance?

Me: Well, we have some programs for street reps and athletes we work with. If you’d like to get a little more involved, I can put you in contact with Moose.

He didn’t respond for a while, and then I saw he added a Boombot REX to his cart. Was this just another tease or was this the real deal? 

Customer3: Could you get me a free grill kit?

Me: Unfortunately I can’t do that, but I do have some other freebies you can check out.

Customer3: Sweet. You know Boombotix is blowing up here in Florida.

Me: That’s good to hear. We got some good reps there. We had a good time out there at Surf Expo last year.

And then there it was; Conversion was completed on a Boombot REX with some stickers and a dog tag. BOOM! Two good conversations and we were on our way. Over the next 24 hours, I would go on using similar tactics to pull four more conversions. I was batting about .304 on Live Chat. Watch out Pablo Sandoval. I talked to one guy in France about taking my Boombot to ski in Chamonix one day. Another guy I spoke with about downhill mountain biking. I was actually having FUN doing customer support and bringing in a respectable amount of cash doing it. We had our best online sales day today since Christmas.

Pablo Sandoval

my philosophy on this plan scaling

Our Live Chat is just one touch point to our customers. EVERY interaction with customers offers potential to create a phenomenal experience. Phenomenal experiences drive buzz (WARNING: so do horrific ones). With each great experience you create, not only will you get the return business, but you will also get that customer to talk about their story. Customers will have a sense of pride when they are treated like a VIP. I tell everyone about how they valet my car at Martis Landing at Northstar Ski Resort. Then the valet carries my skis to the snow for me to step into the bindings. It’s over-the-top customer service. That’s a story to me and I will tell everyone about it. The buzz generated through referral traffic can be exponential. Exponential creates hockey-stick curves.

Obviously I need to find a way to drive the same level of passion and enthusiasm into anyone that takes the reigns on this part of my business. That is party of why I’m writing this article right now. This is one of those examples where entrepreneurs sometimes need to roll up their sleeves and go into the trenches to understand the battle at hand.

5 tips for above and beyond customer service

  1. Get the customer the information they are looking for FAST. That is first and foremost.  
  2. Ask the customer questions to drive engagement and better understand their needs. Learn something about what they do and hinge on that to find commonality.
  3. If you have it in you, try to be funny. If there’s one thing we all hate, it is the feeling that we are either talking to a robot or someone with canned responses. We also hate those human robots that have scripts to follow. People LIKE dynamic conversation. Don’t be afraid to show excitement and enthusiasm.
  4. Understand your product and your competition thoroughly. Customers are looking at your competition and they may request that you articulate on your competitive advantage.
  5. Use the element of surprise. Maybe when you’re done, slide them a small discount code for free shipping. Do something out of the ordinary for your customer. Give them a story.

If you do all of this, the conversions will come (assuming you are selling a decent product). If you are doing eCommerce or customer support of any kind, I hope you found this useful. Let me know how your experience is using some of these strategies.

 

Boombotix Launches New Site Design

New Website Launch

Overview

For those that have followed us along the years, you have probably seen the evolution of the brand.  From Skullyboom rebranding to Boombotix, wired to wireless devices, we’ve been through the depths of the portable speaker market.  We are very much a product driven team, but we don’t overlook the value of creating great digital content.  Selling portable speakers online is actually surprisingly difficult.  This isn’t something you can easily show a demo of over the web.  I love the challenge.

I believe that eCommerce is the future of retail.  The arena of digital merchandising has morphed into a game of art fused with technology.  I’ll do what I can to stay on the forefront there.
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The Endless Search for High Quality Website Traffic

SEO-Optimization5 Tips to Increase Ecommerce Conversion

The formula for eCommerce is painfully simple.  You need to bring in traffic and you need to convert a portion of your traffic to paying customers.  Over the past three years, we have seen triple figured growth in web sales of our portable speakers.  We have grown gradually more web traffic to the site but our conversion rate remained relatively constant.  More recently, I started really working on SEO (search engine optimization) in order to help get more traffic with greater quality.  In the past two months, we’ve managed to double our eCommerce revenue.  It can be hard to pinpoint EXACTLY what is driving the increased sales, but these are come things I think are helping.

1.  Create content designed to help your target customer

Last year we had two bloggers churning out posts with the sole intent of driving traffic.  Our highest traffic’d posts was a guy doing self portraits of himself on different drugs and crazy celebrity tattoos.  We seed this content on Reddit, Stumbleupon and other social media channels.  Sure it was great getting thousands of hits to our site, but the bounce rate was over 86%.  People didn’t care about what we were doing, they just wanted senseless entertainment.  This is probably the opposite of what you want to do on SEO.  Search engines are finding us for the wrong thing, and so are the people that visit.

I started telling my writers to narrow down the subject matter of our posts to gadgets and audio related posts.  Now people hitting our blog were at least coming to the site with some interest in a space only degree of separation from our own product.  We were still able to generate a good amount of traffic and increase the relevance.  Problem was, wed didn’t really see the increase in conversions.  So we started to get even MORE relevant.

We realized that the customer we wanted hitting the site were people that were in the market for a portable speaker.  We thought about some of the keyphrases that our customers might be using including best portable speaker or best wireless speaker.  We got even more specific on involving activities like best portable speaker for biking or camping.  We put together a bunch of portable speaker reviews with an emphasis on using terms that we felt our target customer was using online.  We did fair competitor comparisons to help educate our consumers on what differentiates our product from other portable speakers.  We ripped out about 10 videos on Youtube accompanies with keyword/keyphrase optimized postings.  The videos were crappy GoPro footage, but they were real and honest.  Keyword density is key to optimizing for SEO, but you have to be careful not to overdo it as that looks spammy.  Think about embedding those keyphrases into your writing so it looks and reads seamlessly.

After about a month, we started to bring traffic from people looking for our competitors (Jawbone Jambox, JBL Charge became legitimate keywords).  We started to pull hits to our site for phrases like best portable speaker.  The quality of our blog traffic also increased.  Users were visiting an average of one more page per visit and spent close to a minute longer on the site.  It was working.  I learned a lot about SEO through this article on Yoast, so you can certainly dive deeper there.

Here are some tips to optimize the SEO of your blog:

  1. Don’t just write for the sake of getting traffic.  Write for your target customers and try to be helpful and informative.  
  2. Don’t always write about why your product/service is the best.  It’s not all about you.
  3. Optimize each post using something like All in One SEO pack for WordPress.  This lets you have really SEO optimized titles and metadata on a post while still being able to have catch and personable titles on your post.
  4. Leverage the reach of your competitors to get traffic
  5. Embed keywords and phrases in your articles naturally with high frequency.
  6. Create a URL for each post that is directly correlated to your key phrase or word.  A good example of an optimized URL is http://blog.boombotix.com/2013/04/06/best-portable-speaker-of-2013-boombot-rex/ . Note that this URL has the key phrase best portable speaker and Boombot REX which increases the likelihood that people searching this phrase will land on this page.

2. How to get People to Your Store

Google Analytics has a really useful traffic analysis tool called Visitor Flow.  This is what a snapshot of Visitor Flow.  This is actually still a big problem for us but I’m gonna break it down for you so that you at least know what your objectives are.  Visitor flow can be found on the Analytics Dashboard under Audience>Visitor Flow.

Google Analytics Visitor Flow

 

On the far left side, you can see the region where your traffic is coming from.  Let’s look at that fat green block on the bottom by going to ‘group details’.  What we find is that 73.4% of users that hit the home page exit the site.  This is even higher than the homepage bounce rate which hovers around 66%.

What’s the difference between bounce rate and drop-off

The are similar, but bounce rate refers to the action where someone hits your site and then exits without going to another page.  In a drop-off, a user might have hit another page on the site and then reached a page where they decided to exit.  If the drop-off rate is higher than the page’s bounce rate, you might look into where a user is coming from and think about driving them to a page that is of more use to them.

optimize site design to get users where they need to go

First impressions are essential so why don’t we dig into home page design.  I always find it a tricky game to put content on the homepage that describes exactly what product/services are offered.  At the same time, it is nice to create a call to action.  It’s nice when you can incorporate the product/service with the call to actions:

Example: Learn more about Boombotix speakers (good) vs. Learn more (bad)

Learn more says nothing about what the company does.  The first phrase tells you that Boombotix makes speakers and this is a link to learn more about them.  We have a product that actually requires a decent amount of education so call to action that teaches a potential customer about our product is really helpful.  Put yourself in the mind of a new customer that hits the site.  They need to validate your product and they need to do it fast. Think about what messaging/media content will turn your customer on FAST.  70% of our customers are exiting our site on the homepage, but a mere 32% that perform an interaction exit later on in the flow.  What this tells us is that we need to look for ways to get more customers engaged quickly.

some things we will try to reduce drop off rate

  1. Make stronger calls to action on the homepage.
  2. Create content on the homepage that is concise and informative about the product or service.  We are going to try putting more content below the fold and drive customers to that content.  We will also embed links and buttons throughout this content .
  3. Create more clickable area.  You want your customer to engage with your site so give them some options on where they can go.  You don’t know exactly what piques their interest, but provide numerous opportunities to have another engagement and create an additional page view.
  4. Take a look at the devies that users are browsing on.  We’re getting about a third of our traffic on mobile now.  If your site is not rendering nicely on mobile, you might want to do something about that.  Mobile is trending FAST.

3. Have the right mentality to website analytics

There is a metric shit ton of data to look at on Google Analytics.  Aside from Visitor Flow, some of the things I look at to drive my SEO strategy is Content>Landing Pages.  This gives me a good idea of how people are finding us and what content have we posted that is actually getting high traffic.

SEO is an ongoing process.  This means it isn’t that helpful to look at the performance on a day.  Compare your timeline’s on a near term (this month) to long term (try year-to-date).  Get an idea over whether you are improving upon certain metrics including total unique views per month, time on site, and bounce rate.  Make sure that the strategies you are implementing are at least bringing you positive measurable results.  Lately, I find myself even focusing on an even more narrow timeframe to see if anything that I’ve done recently has had a drastic impact on the site averages over the past year.

The game to Analytics is all about finding patterns and understanding what things you can have influence over.  Once you understand what your have command over, you can embellish those strengths through additional content and PR.  Create finite goals and consistently find ways to test and optimize based on a well structured hypothesis.

some quick tips to get results from data cramming on analyTics

  1. If you have articles that are already generating traffic, go back and see what you can do to make those articles even better.  See what you can do to shave off that bounce rate.  
  2. Think about objectives that can be clearly measured.  I often times think about looking at a single page design and really work to understand how to decrease bounce rate or make the page more SEO friendly with different content.
  3. Find out where the best referrals are coming from.  If you have a site about horses, and you get PR from a bicycle site, expect some crappy views.  Take a look at the quality of traffic from bounce rate, page views, and time on site to get a feel over whether you’re marketing to the right people.

4. Gauge social impact on your website

swagonomics-instagram game

Facebook has consistently been our highest referring traffic site, but we get more than twice the number of pageviews from visitors coming from our blog.  It might be a safe hypothesis to say that people from our Facebook either already know about the brand thoroughly and they aren’t looking for additional content.  On the other hand, our Instagram game (Swagonomics) and our Blog have been exceeding the site average on pageviews.  To see the impact of social on your Google Analytics, go to Traffice Sources>Social.

Leveraging ugc (user generated content)

This content is the low hanging fruit and the gold mine of dominating social media.  Anything you can do to facilitate user generated content is a good thing in the modern marketing era.  We developed a gamification platform around Instagram.  Each time one of our fans hash tags a #boombotix on their Instagram, our site creates an indexed page with a specific SEO optimized URL. Users are awarded points for every time their posts gets liked.  They can redeem the points for discounts in teh eCommerce store.  Gamification is the method by which we drive brand interaction and it’s something we will consider exploring and developing in the new online market.

measuring social conversions

I’m not sure that this is the best metric on Google Analytics.  Although we’ve received thousands of hits from Facebook, the conversion rate seems strangely low.  This is likely because people exposed to the brand may as well just type the brand in the browser (especially using Google Chrome).  I take the atitude that most “likes” are customers that are a degree closer to converting.  I like to look at the growth of our social media following and correlate that to increased web traffic.

growing your social media reach

There isn’t really an easy way to do it, but some things that have worked in growing the fan base is simply reposting viral content.  We do Caturday ever Saturday and have a stupid cat photo that seems to yield more reach and interactions than most things we post.  We also have a Daily WTF.  Be sure to balance those stupid LOL posts with ones that are actually relevant to the brand.  Media content balance is key to get people understanding what your company is about.  Use viral posts to get the reach, but use high quality heartfelt content to get the respect.  Seriously though, cats are foolproof for getting circulation.

Magnet Cat

some tips on social media

  1. Don’t be afraid to get a little edgy or borderline offensive.  You will get some haters, but at least you created reactions and got people talking.  
  2. Figure out ways to automate any process possible.  We use an app called Hootsuite to message multiple channels in social media and schedule posts.
  3. Follow some rules of blogging.  Be helpful.  Be fun.  Be audacious.
  4. Don’t always try to SELL your product.  Sometimes just offering  your followers updates or entertaining them with useful info will be enough to give potential customers the warm fuzzy feeling about your brand.
  5. If you’re a startup, don’t hire someone to do your social media.  Build your base and listen to them.  You can outsource this position when your company is more mature and you have someone that really understands your brand ethos.

5.  Add more SKUs and prompt add-on sales

Boosting your eCommerce performance is a function of how much traffic you can convert on the site.  What often gets overlooked is how much more revenue can be generated per transaction.  When prompted in the right manner, customers by nature want to accessorize or add-on to their purchase to tailor it to their needs.

One of the things you do not want to do is add SKUs senselessly.  Your online store can become a mess and so can your inventory.  Instead, pick SKUs to go on your site that have obvious overlap and utility to your key product.  Accessories can add higher margin items to a single sale.  On our site, most transactions around around $92, but we offer a free shipping incentive at $100.  We prompt our customer at checkout by saying they are _____ amount from getting free shipping and often times up-sell with a wall charger.  Just be careful not to dilute your brand and offer products with strong alignment.

We also created a Freebies section on the store that offer customers additional incentive to buy our product online.  It also sets some of our close customers up with material like stickers and dog tags that can effectively turn some of our customers into brand reps on the street.

In Conclusion

I hope these couple tips were helpful to building your eCommerce site.  Between driving social engagement, optimizing rich content for SEO, intelligent site design, and selective analytics, I hope you can increase your conversion rate and bring better quality traffic to your site.  Next post I cover will be on product page design and site navigation.  Be sure to subscribe to our feed and check out our Ultraportable Speaker line if you get the chance.  Thanks for your continued support.