Social Networking – How Much Time Do You Spend?

written by Snorkeling Online

Can we agree that there is 24 hours in a day. And lets hope that we get at least 6 hours of sleep and we work a minimum 8 hours a day. That leaves us 10 hours a day to spend with family & friends, get dinner, run errands and the other fun stuff that is required of an adult.

As an online seller, an online retailer, how many hours a day are you being social? How many hours a day are you spending on the Internet Merchants Association forum?

Ok, I admit, I am not on Facebook yet (though I have to get this done, I need to keep an eye on Burne who is very dear to me and who I highly respect). And I am not twittering, tweeting, twit, twat… whatever the lingo is. Why? Because I heard that this new social media is addictive. I understand that it is important for my business and will focus on this first, but socially, with your friends, how many hours a day do you spend chatting, not on your e-commerce business?

I am not judging, just curious…

E-Commerce Shopping Cart Abandonment

written by Cathy, VisibilityUnlimited.com

I was talking to a friend tonight and she mentioned that she had a very high cart abandonment on her website. Experts say that ‘high’ is anything over 20% and if your shopping cart is higher, it would be to your financial interest to figure out why.

So I did a little research and found the reasons for consumer cart abandonment. But the number 1 reason is because of high shipping charges.

Other reasons consumers abandon e-commerce shopping carts are because they want to:

  • compare shopping with other internet shopping sites
  • lack of money to spend
  • research for coupons for your site
  • shop offline
  • you don’t offer their choice of payment
  • out of stock at checkout
  • you do not offer support
  • concern of credit card security
  • Because this is such a wide discussion, today I am only going to talk about high shipping charges. So how do you fix this issue? Well the obvious solution is to adjust your shipping charges. Can you revisit your costs and negotiate a better rate with your shipping company. Crunch your numbers folks, get your shipping charges in line with your competitors. This is a very important step to online selling.

    Another idea is not to surprise your customer with the charges and have an ‘estimate your shipping charges’ program on your main site, so your customer does not go through the troubles of checking out and then realize that the shipping charges are to high. There are programs (or you can have one written), that shows you who left their shopping cart and you can see if you can save the sale with a phone call or email. Check your shopping cart software to see if they offer either option. I have also seen with companies that have pop up boxes that you can offer a % discount after they bail on your site, just to sway the possible customer come back and complete the sale.

    Is FREE shipping expected to consumers? In this economy, it doesnt hurt. Online consumers are not expecting free shipping on every product but they are expecting reasonable shipping charges. You don’t have to offer free shipping for every sale, put a dollar value on it and watch your sales increase.

    Because your e-commerce site is so important to you, have outsiders (family, IMA members, customers) go through your checkout process and let them be brutally honest with what their opinion is, as a consumer, and let them tell you what is wrong. It can only help.

    A Perfect Example of “What Not To Do” in Social Networking

    Submitted by Pat Pepe

    A Perfect Example of “What Not To Do” in Social Networking….
    …And The ‘Painful’ Truth of ‘Anti-Social’ Behavior in the Business World

    I was reading a recent blog post from Matt Cutts. For the uninitiated, Matt is a well-respected google employee who maintains a widely read blog where he shares his insights on google, search spam and many other topics related to e-commerce, search and business.

    The post I was reading had to do with his frustration over a bad experience with US Airways Dividend Miles . Normally I might have skimmed right over that post, but since I too have a ton of US Airways Dividend Miles, I took a look.

    The story was very interesting. Matt had a bunch of unused miles that were expiring. Instead of using them to fly, he decided to cash them in for some magazine subscriptions. To make a long story short – none of the 8 magazine subscriptions were filled and he lost his 15,000 Dividend Miles.

    Ouch.

    Good job, US Airways. Way to take care of your most valuable asset – your repeat customers.

    I have an interest in social networking as it relates to businesses and reputation management, so I was curious to see if his blog post had been mentioned anywhere on Twitter. It had – Matt tweeted when he published his blog post and it was re-tweeted about 8 more times.

    Matt Cutts Tweeting About US Airways

    Then I checked to see how US Airways responded on Twitter to that post and the subsequent Re-tweets.

    …..crickets……

    Nothing. No response about ANYTHING from US Airways.

    US Airways doesn’t have a presence on Twitter. OK, that’s not completely accurate. They have a presence, but it’s a pretty ‘anti-social’ presence. In fact, since US
    Airways secured their name on Twitter, they’ve tweeted a total of 3 times. All on the same day which was more than 6 months ago when a US Airways plane landed in the Hudson River in NY. Remember that day?

    US Airways Popular Twitter Page

    Once again out of curiosity, I checked to see how many tweets have mentioned US Airways (in a good or bad light) in the last 24 hours. I counted about 40 tweets directed @usairways and an additional 400 or so that mentioned US Airways.

    Most were news stories like these:

    US Airways on Twitter News Stories

    Some were positive mentions:

    US Airways on Twitter - Happy Customers

    (Perfect time 4 yr honeymoon or wedding in the Caribbean. Jetblue, American, USairways gr8 rates)

    But most of the ones that were sent to @usairways were negative:

    US Airways on Twitter - Not So Happy Customers
    (USAirways is sucky pooh. stuck in Philly on my way to Newark, flight delayed 3hours no reason given, clear skies above)

    Not one response from a US Airways employee.

    Can I tell you how much they are missing out on here? Where do I even begin? The opportunities to connect with their customers are endless. The chances to right a wrong are being handed to them on a silver platter. But no sign of US Airways. Their employees must be off somewhere munching on all the tasty goodies they always pass out to their customers in Coach.

    So now here is where the story gets REALLY GOOD….or EVEN WORSE, if you’re US Airways.

    Take a look at US Airways Facebook Fan Page. Apparently, US Airways employees might be in need of some immediate help in the social networking space.

    One response from a US Airways staffer to a customer complaint:

    Sofia, Im sorry you had to go through that but…. this IS a U.S Airways FAN PAGE and your negative comments aren’t welcome here.. this page is for fans of US Airways and is NOT to be used as a complaint hotline.If you feel so strongly against… us perhaps stay in Canada and fly your local airlines…… THANX.
    June 2, 2008 at 8:12am


    US Airways Facebook ONLY FANS ALLOWED

    O….M….G

    Can you imagine someone in your company publicly responding to a customer comment like that? And that remark has been left up on that page for over one solid year. I am outraged, and I’m not even related to Doug Parker, CEO of US Airways.

    For the record, that ‘don’t let the door hit you on the way out’ remark is one of only 4 comments ever posted by US Airways on their Facebook Fan Page in response to dozens of comments left for them.

    Do you get the feeling that US Airways has forgotten to join the rest of the world in the 21st century? Customers are out there talking. They’re talking about businesses. They are probably talking about YOUR business. It is incumbent on businesses to respond (…in a civil manner…) and make every effort to manage (…not destroy…) their reputation.

    The employee that responded to that Facebook comment? They should be removed from their position. STAT.

    US Airways, repeat after me: We COMMUNICATE with our customers. We DIALOGUE WITH THEM on social networking sites. We DON’T SLAM customers in public; we ACKNOWLEDGE OUR MISTAKES AND CORRECT them. And, above all, we don’t leave our mistakes up on Facebook for the world to see.

    Ouch.

    IMA Announces 3rd Annual Conference Agenda

    The Internet Merchants Association has announced their conference agenda for 2009 in Las Vegas, NV in conjunction with the ASD/AMD Trade Show.  There is still plenty of time to register, so be sure to go to www.imalasvegas.com right now and get signed up. You do not want to miss this conference packed full of information for increasing your online sales!

    AGENDA: Updated 3/11/09

    NOTE – The IMA is still adding more speakers, so times and speakers are subject to change.  In addition to the agenda below, there will be a Networking Suite open at Bally’s on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday nights where you can meet the speakers and ask more questions!

    March 16-18 Internet Merchants Assn. Las Vegas register @ , www.imamerchant.org & www.imalasvegas.com Don’t miss out – Register TODAY!

    Monday, March 16, 2009 – Internet Merchants Assn Workshops for ASD/AMD
    Conference @ Sands Expo Convention Center Rm 107

    8am – Marketing My Website on a Budget – Crystal Wells-Miller,Senior Marketing Manager, Vendio
    930am – Successful Email Marketing –Charlie Bass, President, Las Vegas Int. Chamber of
    Commerce
    11am – Make Shipping Easy With Today’s Tools – Seth Birnbaum, Endicia
    1230pm – Understanding Search Engine Marketing – Chris Finke,  Orange Soda

    FIRST IMA EVENT:
    ZAPPOS ON SITE TOUR:
    3:30 p.m – 5:30 IMA Pre-conference on-site tour, Zappos.com
    Meet in front of Bally’s hotel for transportation, reservations must be made in advance and are first come, first serve.

    Hospitality Suite Open, Ballys Resort : 8 p.m. – midnight

    Tuesday, March 17, 2009 – Sands Expo Convention Center Rooms 302/303

    7:30 – 8 :15 am exhibits open & coffee

    8 :15 am – 8: 45  YES WE CAN –case history, Mike Terpin, Social Radi’us Agency

    9am-9:40am – Maximizing profit: How to make more money despite the economy – Sarah Brubacher senior manager of eBay’s top sellers programs,
    Seth Birnbaum, Endicia and Charles Steinmetz, regional director CISCO

    9: 45am-10 15 – Multi-channel Selling, Anthony Musselwhite, AuctionBlox

    10: 15am- 10:30am – snack break

    10 30-11: 00 am –  How to cash in on TWITTERMANIA , Dan Hollings Twitter Guru

    11: 00 – 12:00 ROUNDTABLE #1 & exhibits area open

    12 – 1:00 Lunch Exhibits open

    2:30- 2:45 pm Snack break

    2:45pm-3:30 pm – Driving traffic & attention with Video & Podcasts & online radio
    in your marketing & ad mix: Mariana Danilovic, Hollywood Portfolio( former EVP Mediazone). Networks, Andrea Mitchell, Podcast Go, Charlie Bass, Host Vegas Talk Radio

    3:30pm-4 00pm – Comparison Shopping Sites; Greg Haslam, Become.com

    4:00pm- 4:30 pm Joyce Schwarz, Matchmaking for Business, JCOM, www.joycecom.com Marketing, PR & Joint Ventures

    4:30 – 5:30  pm ROUNDTABLES #2

    Wednesday, March 18, 2009 – Sands Expo Convention Center

    8 am- 8:45 a.m. Morning Networking/continental breakfast

    9am-10am – IMA Business Meeting /elections

    10am-10:30am – Getting the Most from Your Websites –  Michael Levit, EVP Marketing & Business Development, Vendio

    1045am-11:00am – snack break

    11:00am-11 45am – “Rich” Email Marketing & Video that sells  Ron Cates, Regional Director, Constant Contact, Dave Boufford, creator of the viral video “THE DASH” 40 million views & counting.

    12 pm to 12:45 LUNCH inspirational speaker. Author & poet, Linda Ellis,www.lindaellis.netTHE DASH which sold 200,000 books (only online) and online film that attracted 40 million viewers and counting.

    1- 2 p.m. Zappos Keynote: Business Development 2.0 Business Development
    at the cross-section of commerce, content & community, Aaron Magness, Zappos, www.zappos.com

    2: 15 – 2:45  Subject TBA – Phillip Mulloy, CEO frooition, www.frooition.com  & Burne Hill, US Regiion Manager, frooition

    3 – 4:45 Roundtables, workshops & demos & exhibits open

    4: 45pm-515pm –-“SEO Link Building Techniques“, Alex McArthur, VP of Search, Orange Soda

    5:15 – 5:30 – Closing Comments & Awards

    Register today!  Get your business on the fast track to success! www.imalasvegas.com

    Tips for Increasing Traffic to Your eBay Listings

    By Dan Caplan

    The eBay message boards are filled with posts by sellers about how eBay’s new Best Match has taken  seller’s items and made them nearly invisible to buyers. The result, of course, is a decrease in sales.

    Trying to adapt to Best Match is a challenge for sellers and although time and energy should be put into maximizing Best Match results another essential course of action for eBay sellers is to rely less on eBay driving buyers to your listings and figuring out ways to drive buyers to your listings yourself.

    I have compiled a list of ways to drive buyers to your listings to supplement Best Match.  If any readers have any additional methods, please add them to the list.

    Google Base Store Connector
    Use Google Base Store Connector to get your listings indexed in Google Search results.  Here is a link to the free program that will send your eBay listing info to Google.

    [Read more…]

    Third Annual IMA Conference Registration

    The Internet Merchants Association is pleased to announce their third annual conference being held in Las Vegas, March 17-18, 2009. This leading e-Commerce conference is presented in conjunction with the ASD/AMD Variety Merchandise Show, the ASD/AMD Gift Expo and the ASD/AMD Jewelry Show being held March 15-18th. Register Here

    “With the economy being a challenge to many in business, this year IMA is proud to offer free classes in conjunction with the ASD/AMD show on Monday, March 16th,” announced Steve Grossberg, IMA President. “We are excited to offer the free classes such as ‘Marketing My Website on a Budget’, ‘Successful Email Marketing’, ‘Make Shipping Easy Online’ and ‘Understanding Search Engine Marketing.” Registration with ASD/AMD is required for these free classes.

    [Read more…]

    Social Networking – What Every Business Needs to Know

    Written by Pat

    Social networking in an online setting is dramatically different than in-person networking.

    Traditional networking involves swapping business cards at monthly meetings and having occasional lunches with a few new acquaintances.

    In an online setting, social networking is about forming a vast community of people with common interests, and meeting on a platform where you can interact frequently with the use of online resources and tools. Through the platform and tools available from the social networking sites, users can submit content such as blogs, videos, and photo albums that help bring large numbers of like-minded people together quickly.

    The more open nature of social networking sites is in contrast to the anonymous forums and bulletin boards that were very popular earlier in the decade. Those sites are rapidly losing users to more social outlets like MySpace, Facebook and Twitter.

    Since MySpace first came on the scene, social networking has exploded. All businesses, particularly online businesses, should be watching and reaching out to their customers through social networking sites.

    So, the question is: Why should a business be represented on social networking sites?

    It’s about reputation management.

    In the past, consumers had limited avenues to publicly discuss a company or its products. Their outlet was to complain to the company and maybe a few friends. Now everyone with an email account can be their own publisher and write a post on their blog about their experience. In fact, many people think nothing of jumping on twitter or myspace and complaining about the meal they had last night at Chili’s. They have an instant audience. Now what if Chili’s has a corporate rep that scans the major social networking sites to find opportunities like this. A smart business would use this information to:

  • reach out to the consumer
  • make changes to improve their business
  • If handled correctly, the positive effects would become amplified many times over by the viral nature of online networking.

    It’s about trust.

    Think about it. When you were going to buy a new digital camera, where did you look for information and guidance? Chances are you looked online at product reviews. You are not alone. In 2008, according to a study by PowerReviews and Forrester Research, 68% of online shoppers read at least four reviews before making a purchase. That’s a lot of people putting faith in the user-generated content of social networking.

    Here’s the hard truth: The consumers are making decisions without your influence. The consumer no longer has to rely on your marketing messages when they are shopping. They have their ‘friends’ and their ‘network’ to turn to. A savvy business will become a part of this process. If there’s a ‘tweet’ on Twitter about you or your product, reach out to the consumer. You now have a chance to dialogue with your customer and maybe an opportunity to gain some new customers while making changes to improve your business.

    It’s about change.

    My kids have never known a world without the internet. There’s never been a time in their lives when they couldn’t go online to research a product, find an answer or contact a company for support. They play games on Xbox Live, sometimes with people they’ve never met in real life. They are used to reaching out and having new people become myspace ‘friends’. They don’t understand why some people hide behind anonymous user IDs on bulletin boards while their own real name and pictures are on their facebook pages.

    This generation expects more when it comes to interactions with people online, but businesses haven’t embraced Web 2.0 practices like videos and blogs and they are struggling to keep up with the growth in social networking environments. The fact is they need to pay attention because interactive marketing is quickly replacing traditional marketing efforts. Once businesses understand the shift, they can be more innovative with their efforts, taking the conversations online with their customer base.

    So I’m ready to get into social networking. Where do I start? What are some social networking sites?

    You’d be surprised how many different places you can network and interact with people on the internet. There are as many social networking sites as there are interests. Are you into music? Become a DJ of your own station at www.blip.fm and chat with people with similar music tastes while serving up some tunes. Want to join an art related networking site? Try www.deviantart.com where artists and those that appreciate art interact. Need a site where you can network with folks from your local geographic area? Try www.meetup.com. There’s bound to be a meetup group with a focus area that you are interested in.

    Want to know the best social networking sites for businesses? Here are three of the most well known social networking sites that businesses should have a presence on:

    www.myspace.com – Still the largest online space in terms of visitor traffic; this is the site that began the trend. Here you set up a page for your brand or store, upload pictures that might include your logo and product shots, and write blog posts. Once you’ve set up, you start searching for ‘friends’ to add to your network. These friends might be people you already know or those who you want to reach out to like potential customers. You can even use your MySpace page to display some of your products. You have the potential to attract new customers by becoming ‘friends’ with many people and growing your network. MySpace is geared to the younger crowd; however, the latest demographics show MySpace gaining traction with the over-30 set. More than 75% of their users are under 35. MySpace is a great outlet to have a presence if your products are suited to that demographic or especially if you are in a music-related niche. Warning: busy myspace backgrounds may trigger migraines.

    www.facebook.com – This site appeals to a slightly older crowd; almost half (48%) of the users are in the 18-34 range. Facebook shares a very similar user base with Twitter, however, Facebook has substantially more visitors (51.6M for Facebook vs. 2.4M for Twitter). Originally started by a Harvard student, Facebook was first open only to students at Harvard and then to a limited number of other college campuses before becoming a mainstream site. Now anyone over the age of 16 can join Facebook. On Facebook, you connect by joining networks of users organized by city, workplace or school. Unlike the totally customizable MySpace page, your Facebook page uses only plain text. The emphasis here is on the connections, not the fancy page layouts. Your ‘friends’ can post messages to you on the ‘wall’ – a space that every facebook user has. One of the most cherished features on facebook is the photo album where you can upload an unlimited number of pictures to share with your friends. Bonus: Facebook is easy to set up and user friendly.

    www.twitter.com – Twitter is another site where you can directly connect with customers. In my opinion, Twitter offers the best opportunity for businesses and consumers to interact. The premise of Twitter is that you are answering the question, “what are you doing,” and you have only 140 characters of text to make your comment (also known as a ‘tweet’). You connect to other users by ‘following’ them. Those people who are interested in you or your business will ‘follow’ you back. You can also do searches on Twitter by keyword to find people that may have interests similar to you or your business. Follow them! And, don’t forget to put a badge on your web site with your Twitter user ID so that customers and potential customers will know you can be found on Twitter. There are many large corporations already set up with accounts. They use Twitter to post bulletins about service issues and respond to ‘tweets’ sent to them by their followers. Some businesses use Twitter to run contests and offer discounts to those that follow them. Starbucks uses Twitter to tweet about the changes coming to their menu – smart thinking for them; they can grab all the feedback from their followers. It’s like a free focus group. A word of warning: twitter is very addictive.

    Social networking is here and it’s time you joined the party. So if you’re new to social networking sites, and are ready to dive in, I have only two words for you: HAVE FUN!

    Feedback – Is it even necessary anymore?

    Written by Cyn

    Feedback is an issue that causes much angst to sellers both on eBay and Amazon.  Many times the negative feedback left is irrelevant to the transaction especially when the buyer has not even contacted the seller.  So I ask you – Is feedback even necessary in 2009?  How many buyers even review a seller’s feedback?  On Amazon the seller’s feedback is pretty much hidden, especially if the seller has the coveted “buy-box”.  It is also extremely lopsided since so few buyers actually leave feedback on Amazon.  On eBay many buyers do not understand the feedback percentages and don’t take the time to review the comments.  This is obvious when you see a seller with 89% feedback, yet all their 99 cent junk auctions have bids.

    So what other mechanisms could replace feedback and help reduce scam sellers?  Both eBay and Amazon already have the mechanisms in place, they just don’t publish the information derived from these mechanisms to the buying community.

    Amazon has the A to Z Guarantee and eBay has the Paypal SNAD and INR dispute consoles.  Just these programs could be used to guage a seller’s trustworthiness.  Yes, I know there are claims that are decided against the seller unfairly, but truely, if you are a professional seller what is going to be your percentage of these claims?  It should be extremely low.  By publishing the sellers number of transactions, as well as the number of claims decided against them, should be enough for a wary buyer to determine if they want to do business with the seller or not.

    Or to take it one step further, the venues could be more responsible for their sellers.  Amazon tracks A to Z claims, amongst other criteria, and supposedly takes steps to limit sellers who do not meet their criteria.  eBay is attempting to do the same thing, but not with very good results.  If eBay would focus more on their seller relations instead of on Worst Match, they could come up with a logical and fair way to rate sellers and determine which ones are not performing to expectations.

    To sum it up – What do buyers want?  They want to shop on eBay and Amazon and buy what they want and know they will receive what they bought in a timely manner.  They want to trust that eBay and Amazon are offering them products from reliable, honest sellers.  They don’t want to have to spend 2 minutes researching the seller before making a purchase.  I believe that buyers want the venues to vet the sellers, not make the buyers do that themselves.

    So do away with feedback, monitor the sellers, and let the buyers do what they do best – BUY!

    Too MANY Payment Options?

    Written by Cyn

    With the launch of Checkout by Amazon  I have to ask myself – is there such a thing as too many payment options?  When a buyer comes to my site, what are they looking for as far as payment options?  Currently I offer Paypal, Google Checkout and a merchant account.  50% of my shoppers choose the merchant account, 25% Paypal and 25% Google Checkout.

    Would I not be shooting myself in the foot by adding another payment option?  Considering each payment processor offers reduced fees based on volume, by having too many options, and spreading that volume among 3 processors, I am paying higher processing costs.

    When I only offered Paypal, I had a lot of abandoned shopping carts and even a few potential customers email me that they canceled their order because they couldn’t use their credit card directly.  So I’ve added a merchant account and have had no more abandoned carts.  I may even experiment with deleting Paypal and Google Checkout for a month.  See if I get any requests for them, or if my abandoned carts return.  If I were to process all payments through my merchant account, I could save quite a bit of money on processing fees with the reduced percentages.

    So for me, Amazon Checkout is a non-event.  Too many hands in the pie.

    IMA Announces Feedback Initiative Website

    The Internet Merchants Association recently announced the launch of their new website – LeavingFeedback.com.

    This new website is a Public Service Initiative to give all eBay sellers a one stop link to include in their correspondence with eBay buyers in order to help educate buyers on the effects of eBay’s new feedback system, including DSR’s and neutral feedback.

    From what I can tell, the only education eBay has done to help buyers understand the new feedback system is to include a pop-up when a buyer leaves feedback, that encourages them to leave negative feedback by pointing out the seller can no longer retailiate in kind.  That’s eBay’s kind of buyer education.

    The Internet Merchants Association felt that more education was needed and took the initiative to publish the LeavingFeedback.com site which has been received very positively in the seller community.  IMA is encouraging sellers to include the link in their correspondence with buyers and post it on various sites in order to get it out to the public at large.

    Auctionbytes has picked up on the leavingfeedback.com site and Ina’s blog post can be read here.

    After the site was posted on various eBay boards, IMA was asked permission to have it reposted in Dutch, French and other languages. Several eBay Certified Education Specialists have requested permission to print the site and use it in their classes.   We are pleased to oblige!