WordPress is the leading content management system, powering 30% of the web. E-commerce has become one of the biggest online activities, reaching a record $2.3 trillion in global sales in 2017. So, it stands to reason that e-commerce and WordPress would go together perfectly — but the reality is complicated.
Getting an online store up and running on a WordPress site isn’t too difficult. But managing and optimizing that site to drive traffic can be a challenge.
That’s why WordPress developers are intrigued by the recent announcement that the team behind BigCommerce, a major SaaS e-commerce platform, is developing a BigCommerce plugin for WordPress.
If the plugin works as intended, BigCommerce for WordPress could make establishing an e-commerce store on WordPress a lot more efficient.
What’s Required for E-Commerce on WordPress Today
WordPress does not support e-commerce by default. It is possible to set up an e-commerce site using WordPress (and many companies do, like Book Riot and Clickbank) but it requires that you install and configure:
- A domain
- An e-commerce-friendly WordPress theme
- An e-commerce plugin for WordPress
There are already dozens of plugins (free and paid) designed to add e-commerce functionality to WordPress. However, picking the right one can be a challenge of its own. In choosing an e-commerce plugin for WordPress, you must think about:
- What you are selling (some plugins lack shipping and inventory management, or only support digital products)
- Your payment system of choice (few plugins support all the various payment options)
- WordPress theme compatibility
- Plugin customer support (is someone there to help if your store goes down?)
WordPress is almost endlessly customizable, and the process of building an e-commerce site using WordPress is less time-consuming than creating one from scratch. However, it isn’t the fastest way to get into e-commerce. All-in-one e-commerce platforms like Shopify and BigCommerce are faster and more user-friendly.
Shopify and WooCommerce for WordPress
The top three e-commerce platforms in 2017 were WooCommerce, Magneto, and Shopify. WooCommerce was designed for WordPress from the ground up. Shopify is a standalone platform first but has released a WordPress plugin. Magneto does not integrate easily with WordPress.
WooCommerce has notable benefits for WordPress users: the basic software is free and customizable, with no limitations on the number of products or orders it can handle. However, many features are locked behind paid add-ons, including expanded payment and checkout options.
Another downside of WooCommerce it’s only for WordPress, meaning businesses have to rebuild their online store if they ever switch content management systems.
Shopify-built e-commerce sites are robust, but not without limitations. Its terms of service limit what you can sell on the platform, and it is not possible to manage WordPress and Shopify at once. Vendors have also reported configuration issues with shipping rates, weight-based shipping, and other time-sensitive factors that get in the way of conversions.
How BigCommerce Could Make e-Commerce on WordPress Easier
BigCommerce is an up-and-coming e-commerce platform that saw rapid gains in the market last year. Recently, it launched the developer beta of a BigCommerce WordPress plugin, which shows promise as a better option for e-commerce on WordPress.
Like Shopify, BigCommerce is software-as-a-service or SaaS, meaning it takes care of hosting and maintaining the servers, databases, and code for its engine. This system frees up resources on the WordPress end and ensures the online store won’t slow down the site, which is important for search engine optimization.
BigCommerce also promises an efficient control panel that allows businesses to manage both the e-commerce elements and the rest of the site from the WordPress platform.
We also like that BigCommerce is already Gutenberg-ready, so you won’t have to switch platforms when this massive WordPress update rolls out later this year.
If you run a WordPress e-commerce site, you’ll want to check out BigCommerce’s blog post on the subject, which has more information on planned features for the plugin.
You know that video assets are a powerful way to connect with individuals on social media and beyond. But, what if you’re targeting businesses? While the business-to-business world has yet to embrace video to the same extent as B2C, there are strong reasons why B2B marketers should use video as well.
Research by Google shows that 70% of B2B customers watch videos on their path to purchase. Video tutorials, reviews, and advertisements have become a main source of information for researchers and stakeholders in the purchasing process. Leveraging these channels is a way of leading them towards a purchase at all different points of the B2B buyer’s journey.
Video Supports Long Sales Cycles
One of the significant differences between B2B and B2C marketing is the comparative complexity of the B2B sales cycle. In fact, a report from Marketing Sherpa suggests that over a third of B2B sales occur a full seven months after the initial customer inquiry.
Why is the B2B sales cycle so long? The most common reasons include:
- The purchase is just one of many priorities competing for the customer’s time and attention.
- The decision can affect many people within an organization, thus requiring careful thought and research.
- There are various stakeholders involved over the course of the purchasing process.
In many cases, converting B2B customers requires you to nudge them continuously towards the finish line. Closing the deal can require many more touchpoints than the typical B2C transaction.
Video marketing can support the B2B sales cycle by nurturing potential conversions at different points along the funnel. Initially, a short video can increase a customer’s interest in the product or service; longer videos can then cover the topic in greater depth.
That’s what Microsoft is doing with its new video campaign for Office 365 for Business. The featured video on their YouTube channel serves as an Office 365 elevator pitch. From there, interested customers can find video tutorials and product reviews that give them more reasons to buy in. Microsoft’s channel has something for buyers at all different points in the journey.
Video Boosts Your Other Digital Marketing Efforts
Closing a B2B sale online means hitting the customer on multiple fronts, including SEO (Search Engine Optimization), blog content, and social media. These efforts can all benefit from the addition of a video marketing campaign.
Here are just some of the ways video boosts other forms of digital marketing:
- Social media users are more likely to engage with video than any other kind of content, and on Facebook, video content reaches an average of 135% more people than photos.
- Marketing emails with the subject line “video” can increase clickthrough rate up to 300%.
- Including the word ‘video’ in a blog title can increase the number of people who click.
- Adding video to a web page can significantly increase its search engine ranking.
- Well-optimized YouTube videos can rank at the top of Google search results.
Point is, the reasons why B2B marketers should use video go beyond the returns generated by the video campaign itself. Great video content bolsters your web presence as a whole.
Personalized Videos Can Target Different Buyers
When video marketing was expensive, businesses had to target large swaths of customers at once to get the most out of their budgets. But the decreasing cost of video production gives you room to produce niche video campaigns for specific buyer personas.
Lenovo uses this strategy in the “Users Happen” campaign, which targets a number of relatable pain points in a hilarious, over-the-top way. You don’t have to be an IT manager to recognize a “power user” like Jane or a loveable dope like Chad.
Video Advertising is Growing on LinkedIn
Last year, the primary B2B social network started allowing users to upload native video files. So far, it’s been a success, with people finding expanded reach and greater engagement on LinkedIn through video. Now, LinkedIn is finally expanding the privilege to businesses with options for video ads in LinkedIn sponsored content.
LinkedIn’s deep advertising audience options will make it easier than ever to get your video content in front of your ideal customers. You can target existing email contacts on LinkedIn customers, or discover new potential customers by targeting a job title, industry, skillset, or company name.
Video Can Make Boring Stuff Shine
Face it: a lot of B2B transactions fall into the realm of what most people would deem boring. But that’s only because they haven’t seen it through the right lens. There’s a story behind every B2B transaction, and with video, you can bring those stories to life.
Take Slack, an inter-office messaging platform that means to replace such arduous tasks as ‘sending an email’ and ‘asking the person next to you if they have an iPhone charger.’ To date, this seeming-boring software has generated over a million views with its “So Yeah, We Tried Slack…” video campaign.
Another great example comes from Schneider Electric, a company that makes automated electrical systems. Not only does their imaginative “Butterfly Effect” campaign demonstrate the benefits of their product, it tells a triumphant (and hilarious) tale.
In Short: 5 Reasons Why B2B Marketers Should Use Video
- Video marketing can reach customers at all different points in the B2B sales cycle.
- Video can support your SEO, social media and blogging efforts.
- Video is cheaper than ever to product, allowing you to target niche buyer personas.
- LinkedIn lets you zero-in on specific kinds of customers with video ads.
- Video marketing can bring great stories to life, even in traditionally ‘boring’ industries.
What is Google My Business?
Google My Business is a tool for website owners to manage their online presence across Google, including search and Map. It allows you to create, verify and edit listing information to help potential customers find your business.
So, how can Google My Business help your business?
Directly improves the SEO of your website and helps it rank better
Google My Business listings increase visibility in search results for branded searches. It also lets users find listing information and get directions directly from the search results — all without actually going to the website, which is perfect for mobile users! Google My Business is essential for local SEO as it enables your business listing to appear in local search results for queries specific to your products or services. Even broad queries with large volumes display local results, and this is something small business owners and organizations can capitalize on.
You own your information and can control your service offering
You can make sure your customers have access to accurate information such as operating hours, website, telephone number and street address when they find your business via Google Maps or Search. As such, it’s important to ensure your Google my Business page is fully optimized, accurate, and up to date to provide users with the best experience when searching for your products or services online.
In addition, Google My Business pages offer a range of tools to attract and inform local customers: details like menus, product lists, hours of operation, accepted payment types, and interactive features such as photos and reviews. You can also add coupons and special offers for your visitors.
Manage, showcase and respond to reviews
Google My Business allows you to interact with customers by responding to both positive and negative reviews about your business. Responding to reviews demonstrates that you value your customers and their feedback.
High-quality, positive reviews from your customers will improve your business’ visibility. It also increases the likelihood that a potential customer will visit your location. Do encourage customers to leave feedback by creating a link they can click on to write reviews on your website or email signature. Don’t be afraid to ask your customers personally to write reviews in-store, online or via email.
Learn more about customers
The Google My Business platform includes extra analytic data, enabling local businesses to learn even more about their customers. For instance, on Google Maps, you can access information on where requests for driving directions to your business originate from. This is something that can help you target new customers in the area, or even pick the right neighbourhood to expand to as your business grows.
Tips businesses can use to improve local visibility
- Be sure to select the most appropriate category/categories for your business. This way your business can appear for various product or service-based keyword searches.
- Add photos that showcase your business. Choose high-quality photos that highlight different areas of your business. These may include your company logo, interior and exterior images of your business, and product or service offerings.
- Encourage visitors to upload photos of your venue/business.
- Check the popular times of the day and use paid social or AdWords to drive more visitors to your business during slower hours.
- Encourage local reviews and social check-ins from your customers. Some businesses even offer an incentive to customers who do so.
Last month, global market research firm NPD released its findings on consumer purchase intentions in the 2017 holiday season. Drawn from thousands of consumer surveys and detailed checkout tracking (both online and offline), the data reveals five key consumer trends retailers should take into account.
Shoppers Will Spend More AND Buy More Frequently Online
E-commerce continues to outpace traditional, brick-and-mortar retailers when it comes to holiday shopping. In the fourth quarter of 2016, the frequency of online purchases jumped 12 percent, while brick-and-mortar purchase frequency dropped 4 percent from the prior year. NPD expects the trend to continue in 2017.
Not only are Americans making a higher number of their holiday purchases online, but those who opt to buy online plan to dig deeper into their wallets than their in-store counterparts. Consumers who plan to shop online are prepared to spend an average of $793 this holiday season — almost 70 percent more than brick-and-mortar shoppers, who plan to be only $467 lighter at the end of the day.
However, not all traditional retailers are being eclipsed by digital competition. The NPD report points out the Beauty category, which includes makeup, fragrances, and skincare products, is one of few to experience growth in purchase frequency in 2017. Stores like Sephora and Ulta Beauty thrive through brand exclusivity, offering products shoppers can’t find elsewhere, while keeping an ear to emerging beauty trends on platforms like Instagram.
Online-Only Stores Have Become the First Stop for Holiday Shopping
In its early days, e-commerce was mostly regarded as a back-up plan for holiday shoppers — an alternative for when products were sold out or unavailable in brick-and-mortar stores. Not anymore.
In 2017, a majority of American consumers plan to start holiday shopping at e-commerce sites such as Amazon, ebay, and Etsy. Many consumers head straight to online stores, or scope out potential purchases at a brick-and-mortar store before going online to find the best price.
Shoppers across generations are increasingly drawn to e-commerce as a primary shopping destination. Generational difference in this regard is shrinking, reports NPD, though Millennial and Gen X shoppers are still most likely to shop online.
The Internet has given consumers more choice than ever, but as stated in the report, the increase in competition has generated more online ‘noise’ for shoppers to sort through. This creates an opportunity for retailers to emphasize value consumers can’t find online.
Experiential Gifting is On the Rise
Not all gifts fit neatly into a box. Many holiday shoppers are eschewing material items in favour of ‘experiential’ gifts, like a day at the spa, event tickets, or an upscale dinner for two. Experiential gifts are increasingly seen to have a greater impact than traditional gifts, and they’re growing in popularity with holiday shoppers.
A notable subgenre of the experiential gift is the subscription box. Subscription companies have grown substantially since 2014, particularly in the beauty, food, and apparel categories. According to NPD, 7 percent of holiday shoppers plan to give a subscription box as a gift this year, representing another win for e-commerce.
Black Friday is Losing Its Shine
Once the apex of holiday shopping, Black Friday has been on decline in the United States for the past several years. Black Friday sales and shopper traffic in brick-and-mortar stores declined in 2015 and again in 2016, and there are no signs backtracking on the trend in 2017.
It’s not that people are waiting until December to start their holiday shopping. Nearly 30 percent of consumers still plan to shop for gifts during the week of American Thanksgiving, but fewer consumers are choosing to ‘save’ their big purchases for Black Friday, instead choosing to shop online throughout the week.
But retailers aren’t finished with Black Friday yet. In response, many brick-and-mortar stores are turning Black Friday into a week-long event, advertising in-store exclusive offers through online channels.
Value Beats Price in Consumer Purchase Decisions
An overarching theme of this report, as NPD’s chief industry analyst Marshal Cohen points out, is the importance of value. Value comes out ahead of all other reasons for consumer purchases, including price, and it’s more significant than ever in the 2017 shopping season.
Today, consumers can instantly compare one seller’s price to that of another, and price matching is standard among the biggest retail players. Keeping pace on price is a losing battle. To stand from the competition, retailers have to promise (and deliver) additional value to consumers.
For e-commerce platforms, value often comes in the form of free shipping and bonus features, such as Amazon Prime. For brick-and-mortar stores, it can be exclusive products and brands, standout customer service, or an extraordinary shopping experience.