5 Cheap Marketing Strategies that Work (And How to Use Them)

To stand out in today's crowded online environment, it's important to take strategic measures to distinguish yourself from the competition. However, when you're an entrepreneur or own a small business just starting out, you likely won't have a huge budget and will look for cheap marketing strategies.

Fortunately, you don't necessarily need one. There are plenty of cheap marketing strategies that you can utilize to help spread brand awareness, increase engagement, and, ultimately, drive conversions.

In this post, we'll provide you with a list of five cheap marketing strategies that actually work. For each, we'll discuss what makes them beneficial and some tips for getting started. Let's jump in!

1. Encourage Customers to Leave You Reviews

One of the best ways to market your business is finding ways to help increase customer trust and loyalty. To do that, you need social proof. This is evidence you show consumers that your company is valuable and trustworthy.

Encouraging customers to leave you reviews can help other consumers form favorable impressions of your brand. Seeing real people leave positive feedback can make your business seem more credible and trustworthy.

Customer reviews are also forms of User-Generated Content (UGC). This type of content is organic and can be excellent for Search Engine Optimization (SEO) purposes.

There are a handful of tools that make it easy for your customers to leave you reviews, too. For example, if you want them directly on your website, you can use a plugin such as WP Customer Reviews:

The WP Customer Reviews plugin.

If you have a physical company location, we also recommend signing up for Google My Business:

The Google My Business website.

This platform lets your customers leave you reviews directly on Google, translating to ratings on Google Maps. It can also be great for local SEO purposes and attracting consumers in your area.

2. Run Social Media Contests and/or Giveaways

Another cheap marketing strategy you can use is running a contest or giveaway on social media. This method is also another way to encourage UGC.

Giveaways are effective because you can run them for relatively cheap. For example, you can offer your own product, a coupon or discount, or a gift card. You could even partner with another brand to help cross-promote businesses.

The contest could be something as simple as a photo caption contest. In this scenario, you could ask users to create the funniest caption for one of your Instagram posts.

Alternatively, you could use the contest as an opportunity to generate leads by asking participants for their email addresses to enter the giveaway:

An example of a giveaway email form.

To get started, you could try using a plugin such as RafflePress:

The RafflePress website.

This tool makes creating and managing contests and giveaways incredibly straightforward. It comes with a drag-and-drop builder as well as pre-made templates to help you get started.

3. Create, Publish, and Share Valuable Content

Content marketing is one of the most cost-effective forms of advertising available. It lets you share your knowledge and expertise, which can help build credibility and authority. At the same time, marketing can boost engagement among your target audience.

Getting started with it is easy, too. You can begin by publishing blog posts on your website. This can also be a powerful way to boost your SEO rankings. Google tends to favor sites that regularly publish high-quality content.

To get started with a list of keywords and topics to target, you can use the Google Keyword Planner:

The Google Keyword Planner website.

With this free tool, you can start with a basic topic such as “web design”. Then you can find relevant keywords and phrases to include in your content.

Remember that, to be considered valuable, your content needs to be relevant to your audience. Therefore, it's wise to base your material around answering questions your customers already have.

In addition to your blog, you can also publish content across your social media channels. You can help reach a wider audience by using hashtags, tagging other businesses and partners, and consistently engaging with users in the comments.

4. Start an Email Marketing Newsletter

Email marketing is another cheap marketing strategy that you should consider incorporating into your arsenal. It is incredibly flexible and allows you to target new audiences and engage your existing customer base as well.

To make it as effective as possible, we recommend building your campaigns for specific customer personas. Doing this will make it easier to create highly targeted messaging that appeals to certain kinds of shoppers.

To help build your subscriber list, we also suggest including a signup form on your website:

An example of an email signup form.

To make a form, we recommend using an all-in-one email marketing solution such as Mailchimp:

The Mailchimp WordPress plugin.

This tool lets you create and manage all aspects of your email newsletters and campaigns in one place. It also comes with a WordPress plugin so you can seamlessly integrate your account with your website.

5. Conduct Surveys

Rounding off our list of cheap marketing strategies is conducting surveys. Asking your customers and audience for their feedback directly is one of the most inexpensive yet valuable tactics to improve your offerings.

Using surveys can provide you with relevant, essential data to use in future marketing campaigns. Furthermore, it can also make your customers feel heard and appreciated. It's an excellent way of letting them know that you care about their opinions.

Plus, creating and distributing surveys is incredibly cheap. For example, you can get started using a tool such as WPForms:

The WPForms plugin.

This is a freemium plugin that you can use to create contact forms and surveys. Then you can publish your content across the channels of your choosing, including your website, social media, and email platforms.

Conclusion

As a business owner, promoting your brand is a pivotal aspect of your success. However, you may be working with a tight budget. If that's the case, you might need to get a little creative with your marketing.

As we discussed in this article, there are five cheap marketing strategies you can use:

  1. Encourage users to leave you reviews.
  2. Run social media contests or giveaways.
  3. Create, publish, and share valuable content.
  4. Start an email marketing newsletter.
  5. Conduct surveys.

Do you have any questions about using these cheap marketing strategies? Let us know in the comments section below!

If you liked this post, be sure to follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and LinkedIn.

6 Best Days of the Year to Run eCommerce Promotions

After you established a strong brand and made your first online sale, you probably hoped that running an ecommerce store would feel like clockwork. However, in order to gain loyal customers, you’ll likely need to run frequent promotions.

Fortunately, you can use some key dates to guide you. Taking advantage of the most important ecommerce sales bonanzas, such as Mother's Day and Cyber Monday, is key. That way, you can create dynamic marketing campaigns for times of the year when people are already spending lots of money.

In this post, we’ll discuss why you may want to base your promotional calendar on some specific holidays. Then we’ll highlight the six best days of the year to run online sales. Let’s get started!

Why You May Want to Run eCommerce Promotions on Specific Holidays

While evergreen content and promotions are essential for any online business, holiday deals offer a unique opportunity. These limited-time offer sales will likely draw attention in a way that run-of-the-mill discounts cannot.

Holiday deals can be designed around vibrant color schemes or a particular seasonal product. This makes them more fun and interesting.

Furthermore, this sort of playful content is great for social media, such as on Instagram:

An instagram post image offers 50% for a holiday sale.

Even when they are less flashy, these campaigns still create a sense of urgency that can be hard to resist.

Additionally, holiday campaigns are ideal when you're hoping to create a comprehensive conversion funnel. This is especially true for your email marketing efforts. Through this channel, you can use targeted messaging to create hype around a holiday sale well before it arrives.

Furthermore, as your business grows, cyclical sales on specific days can signal to your audience that you're dependable. For all of these reasons, we recommend that every ecommerce business consult the most important holidays when creating a promotions strategy.

6 Best Days of the Year to Run Ecommerce Promotions

Now, let's go through some of the most lucrative holidays for ecommerce stores. To keep it simple, we're going to go through them in chronological order.

1. Mother's Day

In the United States, Mother's Day is celebrated on the second Sunday in May. When polled, Americans anticipated spending a total of close to $30 billion on gifts for their moms.

After all, mature gifts typically have a higher price tag. Therefore, if you offer any sort of luxury goods or services, you won't want to miss out on this one.

If you're not sure how to approach Mother's Day sales, you can always offer a limited-time gift card:

Amazon's Mother's Day gift cards.

Amazon gives customers the option to send gift cards in sweet, themed boxes that feature flowers and hearts. You might want to experiment with a similar tactic. Also, keep in mind that this holiday falls just before the start of the summer season, so you may want to broaden it to offer site-wide sales.

2. Father's Day

Father's Day is celebrated on the third Sunday of June. When it comes to dads, buyers anticipate spending about $20 billion collectively per year.

Additionally, this holiday is perfectly timed to coincide with any last-minute purchases your buyers need to make before their summer travels.

Once again, you can upsell your customers by offering irresistible, site-wide deals. Rapid flash sales seem to be particularly popular on Father's Day:

A Father's Day flash sale advertised on Instagram.

While we typically recommend that you give your customers ample time to take advantage of a deal, the occasional flash sale can make an impact. You may also want to use short and sweet discount codes that feature the word “dad”.

3. Back-to-School

Instead of one specific day, back-to-school promotions can encourage many weeks of increased revenue. We'd recommend offering these sales starting in mid-to-late August and running them through early September.

Since fast-growing children have a diverse set of needs, many ecommerce stores will be able to benefit from back-to-school sales:

A back-to-school sale advertised on Instagram.

If a youthful aesthetic is not ideal for your brand, you can always modify this theme to make it more seasonal. You could swap out your website's usual banners to feature your fall sales instead.

4. Black Friday

By now, the modern phenomenon of Black Friday is well-known. When Americans are resting at home, recovering from their Thanksgiving stupor – they shop.

They turn to their desktops (where purchases are most profitable) or their mobile devices to get a head start on their Christmas gifts. This makes it one of the most valuable days of the year for ecommerce businesses.

You can't go wrong with Black Friday sales. At this point, consumers expect them:

Macy's Black Friday sales.

In fact, you may even damage your image if you don't offer Black Friday deals. Since this is the most iconic flash sale of the year, we recommend alerting your customers well in advance about the terms of your promotions.

You can do this via email, on social media, and in your website's header. Additionally, you might want to reserve your boldest discounts for this day, since customers have come to expect more and more.

5. Cyber Monday

The term Cyber Monday was coined by the National Retail Foundation in 2005. It was meant to encourage buyers to shop online – and it succeeded.

Thanks to these efforts, the Monday after Thanksgiving now marks one of the most important online sales days of the year. Its continuing success proves that ecommerce has a bright future. This day has been so successful that it has now transformed into Cyber Week:

Cyberl deal days at Kohl's.

This provides the perfect opportunity to offer a wide variety of discounts. You can offer percentage-based site-wide sales, or promote free gifts to motivate your shoppers. If you have the resources, you'll likely want to re-brand your entire site so you can further maximize sales.

This might also be a good time to introduce new products or services, as it will help ensure that they make a splash. If you don't have the budget to go big for Cyber Week, you can also offer more modest deals, such as free shipping, content upgrades, or giveaways.

6. Boxing Day

Officially, Boxing Day is the day after Christmas. Its origins are rooted in charitable acts, but today it is often considered the ‘Black Friday of the UK'.

However, on December 26th, American shoppers may be just as likely to turn to their favorite online stores in search of ‘after Christmas deals':

A year-end flash sale advertised on Instagram.

This is likely because, similar to Thanksgiving, people are usually still on vacation. One unique benefit of this day is that you have plenty of flexibility when it comes to marketing it.

For example, you can use the term “after Christmas” or “end-of-the-year” to describe your sales. Since this will likely be the last promotion on the calendar, you may want to go big in terms of discounts.

Conclusion

If you’ve been searching for innovative ways to bring in new customers (and keep them coming back) regular promotions can be a perfect solution. However, it may seem daunting to generate original ideas for these temporary deals. That’s when you can lean on an ecommerce holiday calendar for help.

From Mother’s Day to Boxing Day, classic festivities offer great opportunities for profit. Modern ecommerce bonanzas such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday provide even more universal chances to boost your conversions.

For best results, don't forget to spread the word about your deals and make it easy for customers to join in using ‘buy now' buttons.

Do you have any suggestions for the best days to run ecommerce promotions? Let us know in the comments section below!

If you liked this post, be sure to follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and LinkedIn.

What You Need to Know Before Starting an Online Business

In a world currently driven by eCommerce, now is an excellent time for starting an online business. Learn what you need to know before getting started!

With the world increasingly becoming a digital-first environment, now is an excellent time to consider starting an online business. However, doing so is no easy task, and it's essential to make sure that you're adequately prepared.

Fortunately, doing a solid amount of research and planning can help ensure that your company succeeds. While errors and mistakes are inevitable, you can reduce your missteps and challenges by taking a strategic and careful approach.

In this post, we'll start by discussing the benefits of starting an online business. Then we'll cover five key tips to consider before you get started. Let's jump in!

The Benefits of Starting an Online Business

There are many benefits to starting an online business that can make it a rewarding and lucrative professional path.

Firstly, customers increasingly turn to the internet to find the products and services they need. You can purchase virtually anything you need online, from groceries and clothing to consulting and professional services:

The Amazon homepage.

Another benefit of an online business is reaching a global audience. You aren't limited to the geographical location of your establishment, nor do you have to deal with costs such as office space rental.

Furthermore, starting an online business can be pretty inexpensive once you have your product or service. You only need to account for a domain name, hosting, and web design and development costs. With the right small business tools, these aspects become easier to manage.

This isn't to say that starting an online business is easy. Certain disadvantages can come with it, such as a crowded online space that makes standing out from competitors difficult. Moreover, you'll need to understand digital marketing trends and techniques.

Fortunately, there are ways to prepare yourself to overcome such obstacles with relative ease. Proper research before launching your business can help increase the likelihood of success.

What You Need to Know Before Starting an Online Business (5 Key Tips)

Now that we've covered the benefits of starting an online business, it's time to dig into what you should know before you do. Here are five tips you can use to make it a productive and profitable endeavor!

1. Take the Time to Create a Detailed Business Plan

With any business, it's crucial to dedicate time to market research and developing a sound business plan. Doing so will help you identify concrete goals and determine how to measure your performance and progress as you grow.

There are a variety of elements that your business plan should cover, including:

  • Your target audience and customer personas
  • An executive summary and mission statement
  • A market analysis
  • Financial planning and a budget

You can make the process easier by using a business plan template:

A business plan template.

The more comprehensive and detailed your business plan, the easier it will be to get your company off the ground. Ideally, we recommend starting with a two to five-year plan.

2. Start With a Service Before Moving Onto Products

It usually makes sense for most online businesses to start by selling services, then eventually moving to products. Services tend to require less investment and development.

Once you get your footing, you'll be in a more stable position to expand and scale your business to incorporate products. This approach can also make it easier for you to find and nurture customer relationships to learn about your target buyers and their most important needs.

3. Invest in Website Design and Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

When running an online business, your website is of utmost importance. It influences how customers perceive your brand. Your site also affects your engagement and conversion rates.

Therefore, a large portion of your focus should be on developing a high-quality website optimized for users and search engines. It's also a good idea to select a premium WordPress theme to showcase your products and services in a professional, reliable light.

There are plenty of free options available in the WordPress theme directory. You can also use marketplace sites such as Envato:

The Envato website.

However, even the most beautifully designed website won't help drive sales if customers cannot find it. This is why it's also essential to invest in Search Engine Optimization (SEO).

It's important to make sure your content is correctly optimized for Google best practices and ranking signals. You can do this is by installing a plugin such All In One SEO (AIOSEO):

The AIOSEO WordPress plugin.

You can also use PageSpeed Insights to analyze your site and identify opportunities for improvement. Knowing which tools to use can go a long way in optimizing your website.

4. Focus on Optimizing the Customer Experience

You can't have a successful business without satisfied customers. Therefore, it's crucial to provide a positive User Experience (UX).

This process can include creating a seamless checkout process with plenty of payment gateway options. We also recommend minimizing the number of steps needed for customers to complete their purchases.

One of the best ways to do this is with buy now buttons:

An example of a buy it now button.

You can easily add one of these elements to your site using our Buy Now Plus plugin:

The Buy Now Plus website.

You can quickly design and create your own buy now buttons to use across various channels. Then your visitors can check out immediately, helping to increase revenue.

5. Social and Email Marketing Are Key

Social media and email marketing are powerful, cost-effective solutions for generating brand awareness, driving traffic to your website, and reaching your target audience. It's wise to develop a marketing strategy that incorporates both platforms.

We recommend figuring out which platforms your target audience uses most and focusing your campaigns there.

For example, Facebook Advertisements can be highly effective and affordable:

A DreamHost Facebook ad.

You can even sell directly from social media, whether you have a website or not. Regardless of your strategy, it's crucial to create a strong social media presence that is consistent with your branding.

Social media and email can also be incredibly effective for engaging your customers through targeted messaging. You might consider starting an email newsletter to help promote your brand, expand your reach, and drive traffic to your site.

An easy way to do this is to use a tool such as ActiveCampaign:

The ActiveCampaign logo.

This email and digital marketing platform can help you create and grow your subscriber list. You can also use it to collect leads, track email marketing analytics, and design custom customer experiences across every channel.

Conclusion

In this digital era, now is the perfect time to consider starting an online business. However, knowing where and how to begin can be difficult. Fortunately, all it takes is a little research and planning.

As we discussed in this post, here are five tips to consider before starting an online business:

  1. Spend time creating a detailed business plan.
  2. Start by offering services before moving onto products.
  3. Invest in your website design and SEO.
  4. Focus on optimizing the customer experience and checkout process.
  5. Social media and email marketing are key.

Do you have any questions about starting an online business? Let us know in the comments section below!

4 Ways Small Ecommerce Businesses Can Use Big Data

The amount of data that business owners can use is constantly growing and becoming more complex. This can spell trouble for a business that isn’t equipped to manage or utilize the available information.

Fortunately, the potential benefits of big data far outweigh the negatives, and this is equally true for small ecommerce businesses. With adequate planning and clear objectives, you can leverage big data in multiple ways.

In this post, we’ll explore four ways to make big data work for you. These applications are goal-oriented, require little upfront investment, and deliver speedy returns. Let’s take a closer look!

An Introduction to Big Data (And Why It Matters)

In a nutshell, big data refers to large volumes of information. These are data sets so substantial and complex that they are unwieldy and difficult to manage with traditional methods.

Big data can be structured or unstructured. Structured data includes customer contact information, transaction histories, or anything that can fit neatly into a spreadsheet:

A balance report is an example of structured big data.

In contrast, unstructured data includes social media content, customer reviews, or anything without a predefined format. The latter can require more advanced storage techniques such as data lakes.

Both of these types of big data are important for small business owners because of the valuable insights they can provide. Learning more about your customers and their behaviors means you can offer better services and streamline your operations.

Since so much business happens in the digital world, big data affects small business owners just as much as giant corporations. Let's now see how your small ecommerce venture can utilize this information.

4 Ways Small Ecommerce Businesses Can Use Big Data

There are so many ways that small businesses can utilize big data, and it would be overwhelming to take all of them on. The applications we’ve listed here are starting points for improving customer retention, boosting sales, and making your processes more efficient.

To collect big data, we recommend using software such as AFS Analytics:

You can collect big data with AFS Analytics.

This powerful tool uses real-time monitoring and reporting to show you customer data related to engagement, conversions, buyer journeys, and more. We'll also explore some free data collection methods later in this article.

1. Improve Customer Service

Quality customer service is one of the most crucial elements of running any successful business. When customers feel taken care of, they’re more likely to recommend the business to others and become repeat buyers.

One of the major advantages of doing business in the digital age is that almost all consumer interactions can be turned into learning opportunities. Each time a customer makes contact, whether to ask a question, make a complaint, or leave a review, you can use the event to improve customer service.

You might utilize big data by monitoring response times across various communication channels. Customers have different wait time expectations for each platform.

For example, consumers using live chat will wait an average of 35 seconds for a response before leaving. By monitoring your communication delays across all channels, you can identify any weak spots.

2. Create Buyer Personas

Buyer personas are important tools for any business. They are fictional representations of your target audience.

These representations can contain superficial information such as ages, locations, genders, and job titles. They can also focus on more nuanced information like challenges, desires, and objections.

Customer personas can be useful for ecommerce businesses because they help with personalization and targeted marketing — the modern consumer has little patience for marketing that isn’t relevant.

A straightforward, free way to create buyer personas is to use Google Analytics. You can take a look at the location, gender, and interest data in the Demographics section to understand your ideal customers:

Demographics with Google Analytics.

To get the most of the demographic data available to you, you may have to tweak a few settings. However, there are some clear instructions that make the process easier.

3. Decrease Cart Abandonment

Cart abandonment is one of the main reasons that ecommerce businesses lose sales. This Baymard Institute study showed an average abandonment rate of almost 70%. Therefore, improving the checkout experience could be very worthwhile for your company.

A major reason for cart abandonment is the various hurdles a customer must overcome to complete a purchase. Factors such as load times, pop-ups, finding the checkout button, or too many input fields to complete can create friction.

As such, reducing friction is one of the most effective ways to decrease cart abandonment and increase sales.

You can use big data to reduce friction in several ways, and you don’t need anything more powerful than Google Analytics. The platform has a Conversions and Shopping Behavior tab that displays this data:

Using big data to identify cart abandonment with Google Analytics.
Image source: SaleCycle

To identify friction in your sales process, investigate when customers leave your site. Look closely at which stage consumers abandon the buying process, and you can identify trends.

For example, if a consumer has added items to a cart, they may just be shopping on multiple sites simultaneously. If they’ve made it to the checkout page and then left, there may be too many obstacles in their way.

4. Personalize the Customer Experience

Personalization is key to doing business. Consumers even expect it, especially with ecommerce.

For example, a study found that 80% of consumers like to receive emails with product recommendations similar to previous purchases they’ve made:

Amazon product recommendations.

In addition to targeted marketing, you can personalize the customer experience by using a visitor's preferred currency and language. You can even use greetings for repeat buyers to encourage loyalty and win their business in the long term.

Using surveys is a great way to gather tons of relevant data about consumer preferences. You can then utilize this information to personalize their experiences.

Conclusion

Big data is powerful. Massive corporations and small businesses alike can use it to improve their operations and make better-informed decisions. However, this information can also be overwhelming without a clear plan of action.

Let’s take another quick look at how small businesses can take advantage of big data:

  1. Improve customer service to upgrade the buying experience and earn customer recommendations.
  2. Create buyer personas to better understand your customers and improve marketing.
  3. Decrease cart abandonment by identifying points of friction and improving your conversion rates.
  4. Personalize the customer experience to encourage consumer loyalty.

Do you have any questions about big data for small ecommerce businesses? Let us know in the comments section below!

If you liked this post, be sure to follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and LinkedIn!

5 Things to Stop Doing Now if You Want to Succeed

Running a business is rarely easy. With so much to handle, it can be hard to build a comprehensive strategy. The pressure to make all the correct moves can be overwhelming.

Fortunately, it's not always about getting it right. Sometimes, knowing what you're doing wrong can be the key to success. By understanding where you can boost your performance, you can take your business to the next level.

In this article, we'll walk you through five things that hinder success. We'll also give you a few tips on how you can improve. Let's go!

1. Ignoring the Competition

Let's be honest: no matter how small your niche is, there will always be someone else you need to measure up to. You can't ignore how your competition is doing – no matter how confident you are in your product.

If you discount other companies, you could be losing out on a lot of valuable information. For example, let's say they run a wildly successful campaign. By taking note of what they did right, you can improve your business's performance too.

You can consider Williams Sonoma as an example of this. Since Thanksgiving is a food-centric holiday, many cooking sites are competing for shoppers' attention. However, while most of them just advertise sales, Williams Sonoma improves on that model with cooking tips as well:

An example of a Williams Sonoma ad that improves on the competition.

However, try to remember that this goes both ways. Other companies are probably watching your performance to improve on their own. By paying close attention to what others are doing, you can tune in to the most successful strategies for your niche.

2. Straying Away From Your Brand Identity

Your brand identity is a mix of many things: the tone of your ads, your logo, and even your font choice. Consistent presentation of these elements is crucial to a buyer's ability to recognize your company. Thus, while going in a new direction may be tempting, it can also harm your business.

This is largely because it may confuse your customers. For example, let's say your social media's tone of voice is playful while your blog is serious. This could be off-putting to new visitors, especially if they're already invested in the buyer's journey.

We're not saying that rebranding is a bad move. However, if you're shifting gears without a clear and intentional plan, you could risk losing potential buyers.

We recommend that you put together a style guide for your content. This may include guidance on what type of language you should use or topics you typically cover. That way, you can reference it before publishing anything and ensure that you're staying on track.

3. Focusing All Your Energy on One Channel

With so many ways to communicate in our modern world, it can be hard to keep up with all of them. Your own website, different social media pages, and traditional advertising can be a lot to handle. As such, it's not unusual to feel like you need to focus on a single channel.

Unfortunately, this isn't usually the best plan. Different platforms have different audiences. Thus, putting all of your efforts into one channel could mean you're missing out on opportunities to make more sales.

One way to combat this is with a content calendar. You don't necessarily need to update every account every day – as long as you're spreading your marketing across many channels, you're opening up new ways to reach new customers.

By the same token, you may also want to consider giving your users an easy way to purchase your products across different channels. If you're looking for a tool to help you do so, we recommend our own Buy Now Plus service:

The Buy Now Plus banner.

With Buy Now Plus, you can add buy now buttons almost anywhere – and you don't even need a website to do it. By providing visitors with a secure checkout regardless of how they find you, you can capture more conversions than ever before.

4. Resisting Investments Into Your Business

If you're like most business owners, chances are, you have a budget. This can be especially tight if you're still a relatively small company. However, as the old saying goes, sometimes you have to spend money to make money.

We're not saying that being mindful of your money is a bad thing. Nevertheless, doing so isn't just about saving cash – it's also about knowing where to spend it.

That's why we recommend you invest in resources that can support your business. If your shipping times are struggling, for example, you might want to think about hiring someone to help you out. By the same token, upgrading to a faster web host could dramatically improve the user experience.

If you're not sure which tools are right for you, we recommend that you take full advantage of free trials. That way, you can see how well a certain resource can support your business before you commit to it.

Finally, like most things in business, there's always a chance of failure. You may invest in a tool that doesn't work out for you – and that's okay! Just try to understand why it wasn't a good fit and keep that information in mind for your next investment.

5. Ignoring Your Analytics

Your company's success doesn't have to be a guessing game. Nowadays, analytics are available nearly everywhere, ranging from your social media profiles to your website. If you're ignoring this information, you could also be ignoring a clear path to improvement.

Even if you feel like you understand your performance, getting confirmation never hurts. Additionally, if you find out you're not doing as well as you thought, you can catch the issue early before it really starts affecting your sales.

An easy way to get started with this essential data is through Google Analytics:

A sample Google Analytics dashboard.

Google Analytics can provide you with a broad overview of your audience. You can also zone in on more specific metrics such as demographics, meaning you'll be able to get very specific with your targeted marketing.

If you're not interested in analytics, we highly recommend that you stay in touch with your customers. Ask for feedback and reviews whenever you can. That way, you can stay informed about how your brand is performing.

Conclusion

Success is rarely a straight path. However, that doesn't mean that you can't avoid a few wrong turns along the way. By understanding which actions can harm your performance, you can help your business succeed.

In this article, we covered five things that hinder success:

  1. Ignoring how your competition is performing.
  2. Having an inconsistent or muddled brand identity.
  3. Focusing your efforts on a single channel and ignoring the others.
  4. Being too wary of potentially rewarding investments.
  5. Ignoring the crucial data that analytics can provide.

Do you have any questions about the issues covered in this post? Let us know in the comments section below!

If you liked this post, be sure to follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and LinkedIn.

Understanding Chargeback Fraud (And How to Prevent It)

Credit cards and other similar payment methods are used for the majority of online transactions. While they're way more convenient and efficient than cash, they're also vulnerable to chargeback fraud.

As a business, chargeback fraud can cost you a lot of money.

Fortunately, there are a few measures you can take to protect yourself against fraudsters. The best thing is these measures are relatively simple to set up, so they’re an option for businesses of all sizes.

In this article, we’ll discuss what chargeback fraud is and how it can hurt your business. Then we'll look at some ways you can prevent it. Let’s get started!

What Chargeback Fraud Is (And How It Can Hurt Your Business)

Sometimes referred to as “friendly fraud”, Chargeback fraud is when a customer purchases a product or service with their own credit card, then issues a chargeback request with their credit card provider.

The customer receives a refund, and the business gets a fee.

In most cases, Friendly fraud is the result of legitimate shoppers forgetting they've made a purchase, hence the “friendly” part of the name. But there's nothing friendly about intentional chargebacks.

Some fraudsters see chargebacks as a way of making some easy cash at the expense of big banks. However, businesses can also be victims of this crime. Chargeback fees can cost businesses up to three times the original transaction value, adding to what is often an already long list of expenses.

Regardless of the intent, though, chargebacks can hurt your business big time.

According to an article by CNBC, friendly fraud is on the rise and will become an even bigger problem for businesses in the near future. Therefore, it's vital that you prepare to deal with it and implement some ways to avoid it.

How to Prevent Chargeback Fraud (3 Tips)

To help you reduce the frequency of friendly fraud within your business, we’ve put together three key ways to prevent it.

1. Remind Customers About Recurring Payments

Recurring payments occur when a customer gives a business permission to automatically charge them for a repeat purchase.

This is a common model for membership and subscription businesses because it saves both time and money. The customer only needs to make one order, and then transactions can be processed automatically whenever necessary.

It's common for customers to agree to recurring payments but forget about the agreement after a while. This can lead to them issuing chargeback requests.

One way to avoid this problem is by sending customers automated reminders about upcoming recurring payments. This can help them remember agreeing to the purchase when they see the charge to their credit card.

REMINDERS

2. Use Clear Transaction Descriptions

Transaction descriptions are what the customer sees on their credit card statement. It's important to make sure that these descriptions are clear so that the customer can easily recall making the purchase.

statement transactions
A transaction description from a statement.

First, let’s take a look at how not to write a transaction description. Avoid using long strings of digits like invoice references or order numbers. Not only do these types of descriptions look a bit suspicious, but they can also confuse the customer and make it very difficult to tell where the purchase came from.

Ideally, a good transaction description should include three pieces of information:

  1. Your business name. This can help the reader connect the description with your business.
  2. Your website or physical address. This can give the customer an idea of where they were when they bought the item.
  3. Your contact details. This can give the customer a way to follow up the charge.

However, most of the time you'll be limited to a small number of characters. Use them wisely.

When writing descriptions, think about what you would want to see as a consumer. If your current layout confuses you, it'll probably confuse the customer even more, so try to simplify it a bit.

3. Use Credit Card Verification

Credit card verification, also known as authentication, is the process a merchant takes to ensure that a purchase is being made by the card owner.

Verification is an effective way to reduce the chances of a buyer either putting the incorrect number in or using a stolen card. Both of these scenarios are likely to result in credit card companies receiving refund requests.

Fortunately, our Buy Now Plus service operates on top of Stripe, which is one of the largest and most secure online payment systems.

Stripe homepage

Stripe has a variety of security measures in place. This includes chargeback protection, verification checks, and other anti-fraud features.

With Buy Now Plus and Stripe, you can accept credit card payments from anywhere, whether you're selling on social media or through email marketing. You can also rest assured that your business is protected against fraud.

Conclusion

Chargeback fraud is a major problem for a lot of businesses. However, there are a few key measures you can take to protect yourself.

These practices are affordable and relatively simple, so you may find them fairly straightforward to implement.

In this article, we covered three ways to prevent friendly fraud:

  1. Remind customers about recurring payments. This can help prevent chargeback fraud, which occurs when a customer disputes a purchase because they forgot they agreed to it.
  2. Use clear transaction descriptions. By doing this, you help reduce the chances of a customer misunderstanding what they are buying.
  3. Implement credit card verification. This prevents users from using someone else’s credit card and can also assist you if you are faced with a hefty fee.

Do you have any questions about chargeback fraud? Let us know in the comments section below!

If you liked this post, be sure to follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

How to Keep Your Ecommerce Customers Safe (4 Tips)

If you own an ecommerce business, chances are the threat of a data breach is never too far from your mind. This is no surprise, considering how serious the consequences can be when information falls into the wrong hands.

While the possibility of exposing user information is a scary one, you're certainly not powerless to keep your customers safe.

You can significantly lessen the chances of a data breach by processing payments securely and following other safety best practices.

In this post, we'll look at why protecting personal information is so important for ecommerce businesses. Then, we'll share four tips for keeping your customers safe. Let's go!

Why Protecting Customer Information is Crucial

Perhaps now more than ever, data privacy has become a central concern for anyone who spends time online. Unfortunately, this wariness is in response to a rising number of data breaches, which has been trending upwards since 2005.

Ecommerce sites may be especially attractive to bad actors as they're likely to store payment details as well as personal information.

Stolen data is not only a concern for the owners of the information, but it can also have serious consequences for your business.

The financial impact can be especially devastating, as the cost to recover can be pretty high. In 2020, the global average cost per data breach was $3.86 million.

In addition to taking a financial hit, you could lose the trust of your existing customers, who may take their business elsewhere. These customers may also warn their networks against doing business with you, resulting in further losses.

How to Keep Your Ecommerce Customers Safe (4 Tips)

Now that we've discussed the seriousness of a data breach, let's look at a few tips you can use to keep your business and customers safe.

1. Process Payments With Buy Now Plus

Since payment information is especially sensitive, you may want to make protecting it your first priority.

Using a tool like Buy Now Plus will not only make the buying process easier for your customers, but it will also provide additional security as it's built on top of Stripe:

Buy Now Plus uses Stripe to keep payments secure.

Stripe is a very secure payment solution. All transactions processed through it are Secure Socket Layer (SSL) protected to keep data safe while it's being transmitted. Moreover, credit card numbers are encrypted and kept secure in Stripe's data center.

Getting started with Buy Now Plus is quick and easy, even if you don't have a Stripe account yet. To get started, click on the Connect to Stripe button on the Buy Now Plus login page.

Then, you'll be prompted to enter the email associated with your Stripe account. If you don't have one, any email will do:

The login screen for Buy Now Plus.

On the next screen, you'll create a password for your Stripe account. You'll then need to secure your account using a mobile number. Enter the code that you'll receive via text to continue.

At this point, you can either connect to an existing Stripe account or create a new account to use with Buy Now Plus:

Connecting a Stripe account to Buy Now Plus.

Next, you'll need to enter some details about your business, as well as some personal information.

When you're ready, you can connect your new Stripe account to Buy Now Plus.

2. Control Access With Strong Passwords

Chances are you protect sensitive information with passwords, so you'll want to be sure they're up to the task. Your best strategy for this is to follow some simple password best practices:

  • Never use the same password for more than one account.
  • Ensure that passwords are both long and complex.
  • Change passwords regularly.
  • Avoid sharing passwords.
  • Never write passwords down.

You might also consider implementing Multi-Factor Authorization (MFA). MFA adds an additional security challenge after an individual has entered this password.

This challenge could be answering a security question, entering a pin, or using a one time password (OTP) provided via text or email.

If you'd like to add this functionality to your WordPress site, you can use a plugin called WP 2FA:

The WP 2FA plugin which adds two factor authorization.

This free plugin is easy to set up and supports several OTP-generating apps. You can also configure it to force users to set up MFA immediately or give them a grace period.

3. Collect Only the Information You Need

Simply put, hackers can't steal information that you don't have. For this reason, it's best that you only collect the information needed to provide an efficient service. Remember that you can always ask for additional details later.

Aside from security concerns, asking for too much data up front can contribute to a poor customer experience. The last thing you want is to be losing customers during your signup or checkout process.

If you've already collected information you don't need, you might want to delete it now.

You'll not only keep your customers safer, but this can also help you comply with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA).

Take the time to carefully consider what information you truly need. You may want to develop guidelines for the collection, storage, and eventual deletion of customer data.

Firm policies are beneficial if you work with a small team to ensure that everyone is on the same page.

4. Keep Your Software Up to Date

Outdated websites and software make desirable targets for hackers. Once word gets out about a vulnerability, it will likely be exploited quickly.

To keep your website safe, it's important to be vigilant about any updates developers release for the software and tools you use.

You'll want to be especially aware of any emergency patches which are often issued in response to a potential threat.

You can be even more proactive about this by regularly checking your software vendors' websites for any updates you may have missed. Ensuring that all of the plugins on your site are updated on a regular basis can help keep your site safe.

Conclusion

As the owner of an ecommerce business, you have an obligation to your customers to keep their private information secure. Fortunately, there are ways to protect both your customers and your company.

Let's recap the four tips we shared for protecting user data:

  • Process secure payments with Buy Now Plus.
  • Control access with strong passwords.
  • Collect only the information you need.
  • Keep your software up to date.

Do you still have questions about keeping your customers safe? Let us know in the comments section below!

If you liked this post, be sure to follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

4 Ecommerce Trends to Watch in 2022

Let's be honest: the world of ecommerce changes fast. That means running a successful business can come down to sales strategies that adapt.

However, it can be hard to create adaptable strategies when consumer opinions are constantly shifting.

Fortunately, it doesn't have to be a guessing game. By familiarizing yourself with a few likely trends for the coming year, you can prepare to leverage them to your business's advantage.

In this article, we'll cover four ecommerce trends that you might want to keep an eye out for in 2022. We'll also provide you with a few tips on how to account for them in your marketing strategy. Let's begin!

4 Ecommerce Trends to Watch in 2022

All eyes forward! Here are four big trends for the coming year that you may want to pay attention to.

1. Personalization Will Remain a Priority

Personalized service has been a crucial part of customer expectations for the past couple of years. Recent data shows that this trend is here to stay: a whopping 90% of customers are willing to share more data for a better brand experience.

This represents a huge opportunity. As you might have guessed, collecting data is crucial to creating a customized experience. That means as users share more information, you'll be more able to produce the tailored content they're looking for.

If you haven't started collecting this information yet, we highly recommend you get started right away. Even basic statistics like age, gender, and location can give you a leg up in marketing – especially if you're a small business that's just starting out.

If this sounds like you, consider investing some time in Google Analytics. While there tends to be a learning curve at first, we think the work is well worth all the actionable results you'll get in return.

One tool we recommend, MonsterInsights, can help simplify Google Analytics for you. And it also lets you view your data right from your WordPress dashboard.

Nevertheless, any tool that can accurately gather data on your users will work.

Once you have this info, make sure it's a core part of your marketing and content. A key factor in this trend is that consumers will be expecting a better experience in return for their info.

If you don't provide one, they may be less willing to share in the future.

2. Social Media Referrals Will Become Essential

Social media has become a constant in most of our lives. Most of your customers are no different. The number of visits to ecommerce sites that come from social media has risen to 21% for tablet users.

There could be a few reasons behind this. Some users may get familiar with your store's social media page and feel comfortable enough to make a purchase. Others may casually see an interesting ad and decide to pay you a visit.

Regardless of how it happens, the implication is the same: social media will be a crucial source of potential conversions. Thus, providing users with easy ways to access your site will be necessary for 2022.

However, you may be worried about losing this opportunity if you don't have a website. Fortunately, you're in luck. Our Buy Now Plus service can help.

The Buy Now Plus banner logo.

Our tool creates an easy way for your customers to make a purchase even without a website. Once you've set it up, all your fans have to do is click the “buy now” button. Then, they'll be able to use a secure Stripe-based checkout.

If you're not on social media yet, this is definitely the time to get started. Consider beginning with Facebook. As the leading social media platform for small business advertising, it's a popular way to start taking advantage of this powerful trend.

3. Customers Will Expect Environmentally Friendly Services

Doing damage to our environment will have devastating effects on our planet. As more people become aware of this truth, the desire for sustainable brands has continues to trend up.

The result is that 81% of people now expect companies to be environmentally aware.

It's worth noting the study's specific language here as well. Consumers don't view earth-friendliness as a nice perk to have – it's a base expectation.

So it's extremely important that you make your efforts toward preserving and protecting the environment clear. It could be a deciding factor for your customers.

That's why we recommend that you start openly advertising your sustainability. If you can do so in the first stage of the buyer's journey, even better.

That early exposure can help consumers directly associate your brand with environmental responsibility.

Consider integrating it into your big sales, too. For example, Patagonia made protecting the environment the foundation of their recent black Friday sale by donating 100% of Black Friday sales revenue to environmental groups.

Patagonia ad highlighting their sustainability.

The company projected sales of around $2 million, but ended up pulling in an incredible $10 million in sales. Their campaign exceeded expectations by five times!

Nevertheless, your approach doesn't have to be as aggressive. Even a small contribution can cement your brand as environmentally conscious in consumers' minds.

The bottom line is that a customers will be more inspired to buy if they know their purchase will contribute to this important cause.

4. Desktop Purchases Will Be the Most Profitable

In our modern age, people can buy things from just about any device. However, that doesn't mean that all of them are used equally.

Despite the huge number of smartphone users, desktop purchases raked in an impressive average purchase of $184.44.

This figure makes desktops the highest-return device for businesses. Mobile purchases took second place at $134.39, with tablets in third at $101.18:

The desktop spending ecommerce trends heading into 2022.

You may also notice from this graph that average desktop purchases jumped nearly $50 in the last year. This suggests that the desktop average will continue to grow into 2022.

This could be a helpful statistic if you're short on time. It can be hard to keep a website's mobile, tablet, and desktop layouts equally maintained. If you're too busy to cover all your bases, you may want to prioritize an attractive desktop site.

However, you may have also noticed that the mobile purchase average rose in the past year as well. As such, disregarding mobile users may not be the most effective approach.

That's why you might want to go the easier route: selling exclusively on social media.

These platforms are already optimized to work on all kinds of devices. By simply integrating the shopping experience into those profiles, you can skip the tech stuff and focus on your sales.

Conclusion

A lot of sales strategy is about offering your customers what they want. However, this task can be next to impossible if you don't know what that is.

Fortunately, you can give yourself a competitive edge by understanding future ecommerce trends. In this article, we covered four ecommerce trends to watch in 2022:

  1. Consumers will be increasingly willing to share data in exchange for personalization.
  2. Social media referrals will remain an essential source of customers.
  3. Environmentally friendly practices will become a prerequisite to purchases.
  4. Desktop purchases will continue to earn the highest average spend across devices.

Do you have any questions about preparing your business for 2022? Let us know in the comments section below!

If you liked this post, be sure to follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and LinkedIn.

How to Convert One-Time Shoppers into Loyal Customers (5 Tips)

Let's imagine that holiday sales were at an all-time high, and you started the year with a solid first quarter. However, as you scaled back on ads business began to slow considerably.

People are still buying from you, but you're surviving this quarter on a tiny group of repeat buyers.

By improving your brand's reputation and providing your customers with extra value, you can avoid that scenario and attract a larger base of loyal customers who keep coming back again and again.

Over time, this can stabilize sales throughout the year, helping your business get through those seasonal slumps more gracefully.

In this post, we'll share five tips to help you convert one-time shoppers into loyal customers without adding a lot of extra marketing costs. Let's dive in!

1. Start an Email List

Roughly 60% of customers prefer brands to contact them via email. It’s an easy, unobtrusive way to reach people.

An email list shouldn’t be pushy or make users feel like they have to sign up. Instead, you may want to give each customer an incentive to join, such as a discount on their next purchase:

An example of a signup page that offers discounts.

The example above is a simple and clean signup form that asks for nothing but your email address. It also offers a clear benefit – a 10% off code when you sign up.

However, once you gain a new subscriber, you'll need to keep them on your list. Let's take a look at two effective ways to retain subscribers.

Create a “Welcome” Automation

Creating welcome automations might be the best way to convert your time into value. They’re quick and easy to set up, and you can change the content to keep it relevant over time.

Some email list service providers like ActiveCampaign and Mailchimp offer straightforward ways to set up these automations. They also have a wealth of resources for writing welcome emails that convert.

Your initial email should include some information about your brand and what kind of content subscribers can expect from you. You can also add links to resources, flagship products, and your social media accounts.

Offer Discounts to Subscribers

Another effective way to retain subscribers is by offering discounts or freebies. Your discount doesn’t have to be anything big: 10-15% is common. If you’re offering freebies, this might be a test drive of your product or free samples.

Of course, you’ll want to make sure that customers have a reason to remain subscribed to your newsletter.

Follow up with great content they can look forward to, as well as regular offers and goodies. That way, customers are more likely to stick around for the long term.

2. Use Recurring Payments

Recurring payments are a great way to keep customers engaged and deliver their favorite products every month. Therefore, you may want to consider offering subscriptions to your best selling items:

An example of a subscription service

As you can see in the example above, Shaker & Spoon delivers all the mixes and other fixings to help spruce up your drinks. Every drink has a background story, and they’ll teach you how to make it just like the pros.

If you’re looking to introduce customers to new products, you can also provide a subscription box service. For example, if you run an online food shop, you could deliver a mix of snacks or ingredients on a monthly basis.

3. Collect Feedback and Feature Reviews

Reviews can help you gain the trust of new customers and get a holistic picture of the customer journey. You can use this info to improve the customer experience and see if there are any concerns you need to address.

The simple act of asking for feedback shows customers that you care and are dedicated to making improvements. People appreciate being asked for their thoughts, especially if they feel that they’re contributing to your success.

It's important that you make it easy for buyers to leave reviews. For instance, you could include feedback forms on your site, or enable reviews through third-party platforms such as Google My Business:

An example of a feedback form

Surveys are another great way to collect feedback and testimonials. You can email customers a link to a short survey that asks about their shopping experience.

WordPress form plugins like WPForms make creating and managing these types of surveys super easy.

Moreover, you can ask customers if they would be interested in being contacted for a testimonial. You can then feature these testimonials on your website, email copy, or social media pages.

4. Provide a Frictionless Shopping Experience

According to recent studies, shopping cart abandonment rates sit at almost 70%. One of the leading causes of this phenomenon is a long, complicated checkout process.

An easy checkout process can help you drive higher conversions. It can also encourage users to make additional purchases from your store.

Therefore, you want to make sure your site visitors are able to process their orders in a quick and efficient manner, without having to sign up for an account or being directed to other pages.

Fortunately, Buy Now Plus can help you simplify the checkout process with powerful buy now buttons. You can even cut out some extra steps and take users straight to the checkout page to complete their orders.

5. Set Up an Affiliate Program

Affiliate marketing allows publishers and influencers to promote your products for a cut of the profits. For instance, you can give affiliates the option to advertise your products using trackable links or discount codes associated with their accounts:

An example of an affiliate program application

This strategy helps you build a loyal customer base, especially if you’re also offering discounts to affiliates on top of their normal commissions.

It can also help you reach a wider audience, and thus increase your sales.

You can easily set up an affiliate program on your existing WordPress site using a plugin like Easy Affiliate. This tool also enables you to track your conversions, process your program applications, and manage your members more efficiently.

Conclusion

Building a loyal clientele is a long-term game. However, by implementing a few effective strategies, you should be able to convert most of your first-time buyers into repeat customers.

In this post, we shared five tips to help you retain your customers:

  1. Start an email list that introduces your brand and provides additional value.
  2. Use recurring payments for frequently bought products, and offer subscriptions boxes.
  3. Collect and share reviews to help customers connect with your brand and gain their trust.
  4. Provide a frictionless shopping experience by streamlining the checkout process with Buy Now Plus.
  5. Set up an affiliate program with Easy Affiliate and offer discounts to your members.

Do you have any questions on how to convert one-time shoppers into loyal customers? Let us know in the comments section below!

If you liked this post, be sure to follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and LinkedIn.

5 Ways to Improve the Online Checkout Experience

You've got a beautiful website, great products, and buyers who want what you have. They get to the cart and hit the checkout button, only to be met with a complicated process with too many hoops to jump through.

Many may become impatient and leave.

Fortunately, you can make sure your customers don’t leave your site empty-handed and frustrated. By streamlining your checkout process, you can help prevent cart abandonment and increase your conversions.

In this post, we’ll look at some common checkout problems that often lead to cart abandonment. Then we’ll share five tips to help you improve your store’s checkout process. Let’s get started!

Common Checkout Issues That Can Lead to Cart Abandonment 

cart abandonment

According to recent studies, over 69% of online shoppers abandon their shopping carts. Some of the main reasons for this include:

  • A lengthy or confusing checkout experience
  • Forcing visitors to sign up for accounts before they can check out
  • Jarring design that’s inconsistent with the brand
  • Sketchy-looking payment pages that don’t offer a sense of security

If buyers can’t get what they came for quickly, they’re likely to leave your site and do their shopping elsewhere.

Therefore, it's vital to ensure that your checkout process is quick and easy, and that it blends in nicely with the rest of the shopping journey.

5 Ways to Improve the Online Checkout Experience

Luckily, optimizing the checkout process doesn’t have to be complicated and time-consuming. Here are five simple ways you can improve the online checkout experience for your customers.

1. Simplify the Checkout Page

Typically, you’ll only want billing and shipping information on your checkout page. You may also want to gather some additional details, such as email addresses or phone numbers for sending order updates.

However, we recommend that you only ask for the information you need.

Moreover, the checkout page should be clean and distraction-free. If you run ads on your site, you may want to try to keep the order pages clear of them.

Here's an example of a clean and streamlined checkout page:

An example of a simple checkout page

As you can see, this page asks for minimal information. There are no visual distractions, and the process is short enough that it fits on one page.

2. Make Sure Your Checkout is Mobile-Friendly

With more and more customers making purchases on their mobile phones, it’s important to ensure that you have a mobile-friendly checkout.

For instance, you may want to enable payments with digital wallets such as Google Pay and Apple Pay:

Apple Pay homepage

This way customers can use their stored payment details to complete their orders more quickly.

You can also use a buy now button to give customers the option of skipping straight to the checkout page. Especially on mobile devices, people appreciate a fast and easy purchasing process without the extra loading time.

At Buy Now Plus, we help you create high-converting buttons for a quick and easy checkout on any device.

Moreover, you'll be able to use these buttons on other platforms, including your social media pages and newsletters. This means you can accept payments from anywhere online.

3. Eliminate Surprises

A general rule of thumb for user experience (UX) is this: the more predictable your design and flow are, the better. Jarring, surprising experiences are an easy way to drive visitors away.

Therefore, it's a good idea to guide your users through the checkout process. You can use a multi-step checkout, which is excellent for reducing the amount of scrolling buyers have to do.

This enables you to cleanly display everything on a single page using a multi-step form:

An example of a step-by-step checkout process.

There’s another surprise no one likes to see: high shipping costs. Depending on the platform you’re using, it may not be possible to give an exact shipping amount early on.

However, you might want to provide an estimate or make it clear that there will be shipping and handling fees.

If you’re looking to speed up your checkout process a little more, you could offer a guest checkout option. Many customers, especially one-time buyers, don’t want to deal with setting up another account.

4. Keep the Checkout Design Consistent With Your Site

Having a professionally designed site can help you build trust. On the other hand, messy and inconsistent design might make your site look suspicious, scaring customers away.

Your checkout style should be consistent with your site. This means it should avoid any jarring, unnatural transitions.

You never want to make customers feel like they’re being shipped off to someone else to make their payments, unsure if they’re paying you or a third party.

With Buy Now Plus, you can fully customize your buy now buttons so they match your branding. This way, you can keep a cohesive design throughout your checkout process.

5. Include Obvious Security Features

Finally, your checkout process should also show users they can trust you with their payment details. Therefore, you may want to provide secure payment options such as PayPal and Stripe:

The Stripe homepage

Displaying the names and logos of your payment providers can be a great way to offer that additional sense of security. Additionally, you'll want to ensure that these options are placed in a prominent area on your site, so customers are able to see them right away.

You'll be pleased to learn that Buy Now Plus runs on Stripe. This means that, as an online seller, you and your customers will benefit from Stripe's fraud protection and other security features.

Conclusion

A simple checkout experience can mean the difference between customers leaving your site with the products they love, or walking away empty-handed and frustrated.

Fortunately, you don't need to put a lot of effort (or money) into optimizing your customer journey.

In this post, we looked at five effective ways to improve your online checkout experience:

  1. Simplify your checkout page by only asking for information that you need and minimizing visual distractions.
  2. Make sure your checkout process is mobile-friendly and cuts out extra steps, by using a service like Buy Now Plus.
  3. Get rid of surprises like high shipping costs, and let buyers know exactly where they are in the checkout process.
  4. Keep your checkout design consistent with your brand.
  5. Include secure payment methods, such as PayPal and Stripe, so your buyers feel safe when they’re checking out.

Do you have any questions about how you can implement these tips to improve your customers’ online checkout experience? Let us know in the comments section below!

If you liked this post, be sure to follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

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