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Ecommerce Competition: Win More Sales This Holiday Season

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Ecommerce Competition Win More Sales Holiday Season - Eminent SEO
The holiday season can bring a nice boost in sales, but it can take a lot of work and extra expense to make it happen. We’ve compiled this guide to help you get the most sales possible from the time and money you invest in your marketing this season.

First, let’s look briefly at what last year’s holiday season sales stats can tell us about the market, and what to expect this year.

A Look Back and Ahead at Holiday Spending

It’s hard to know where you’re going if you don’t know where you’ve been. Before we tell you how to make a holiday season marketing push, let’s take a quick look back at last year’s sales numbers as well as some projections for this year’s November-December rush.

2016 Holiday Season Sales Stats

Last holiday season, online sales in the U.S. raked in a total of $80.2 billion, according to marketing data and analytics firm comScore. When broken out by desktop and mobile purchases, the holiday sales came out to:

  • Desktop purchases: $63.1 billion (12% increase over 2015)
  • Mobile purchases: $17.1 billion (44% increase)

And worth noting is that the National Retail Federation estimated that nearly 10 million more people shopped online on Black Friday in 2016 than those who shopped in stores that day. The breakdown on Black Friday shoppers last year comes to:

  • Online shoppers: 108.5 million
  • In-store shoppers: 99.1 million

Black Friday is usually all the talk when it comes to shopping this time of year, but Cyber Monday has actually emerged as the biggest spending day of the year. More shoppers seem to be avoiding the in-store stampedes in favor of the comfort of buying online from home. In 2016, Cyber Monday accounted for $3 billion in online sales – $2 billion via desktop and $1 billion via mobile.

2017 Projected Holiday Season Stats and Trends

With the economy on the rebound, experts are projecting holiday sales this year to grow substantially. Research marketing firm NetElixir predicts a 10 percent increase over last year, which would take total sales from $80 billion to $88 billion. Projections by Deloitte suggest that retail holiday sales in 2017 could exceed $1 trillion.

Online purchases continue to grow compared to in-store purchases. However, many brands are creating campaigns that integrate the online and in-store experiences for customers.

A higher percentage of online purchases are being made on mobile devices. However, desktop sales continue to account for a larger share of the pie, so it’s important that websites are optimized for both types of online buying experiences.

Know What Works

Black Friday Shoppers Stats In 2016 - ESEOThe first step to creating a successful holiday marketing strategy is to know what works well already – both in terms of year-round sales and holiday sales specifically.

There are a ton of different ways to promote your products during the holidays, so narrowing down your options will help save you time and money and allow you to focus on doing a few reliable things well rather than spreading yourself too thin.

Make a list of best practices in the following areas:

  • Audience targets Which audience segment is your best customer? Where and how do they typically do their shopping during the holiday season?
  • Popular promotions – Which products sell well all year? What promotions do your customers always respond well to?
  • Previous year’s promotions and sales stats What worked last year during the holidays, and what didn’t? How can you double down on last year’s successes?
  • Best traffic sources Which lead-generation strategies already work well for you? How can you increase your budget in those areas to gain additional traction during the holidays?

Specific Dates to Target

It’s also a good idea to capitalize on industry-wide shopping dates/promotions that shoppers will be actively looking to take advantage of. Start preparing special promos to meet their needs.

The dates to remember are:

  • Thanksgiving Day (Dec. 23 this year)
  • Black Friday (day after Thanksgiving)
  • Cyber Monday (first Monday after Thanksgiving)
  • Green Monday (second Monday in December)
  • Free Shipping Day (free shipping with guaranteed delivery by Christmas Eve – Dec. 15 in 2017)
  • Holiday weekend (Dec. 22 to 25 in 2017)
  • Post-Christmas shopping (Dec. 26 to 31)

Do More of What Works

Once you know what works, it’s time to take those strategies and put them on steroids, so to speak.

Rerun Successful Campaigns, with a Twist

Do what you know works, but try to add a new dimension to it or combine it with other techniques that work to give it a fresh feel.

Highlight Your Most Popular Products and Upsell

Lead off with specials on your most popular products, and offer upsells and add-ons that make sense to increase overall order amounts.

Increase Your Budget for Best-Performing Ads and Channels

Be present on multiple platforms and channels, including social media, PPC, banner ads, emails, radio, TV and print ads. You don’t need to do all of them, but pick a few and do them well.

Optimize for Mobile

Make sure your website is optimized for both mobile and desktop viewing, if it isn’t already.

Set Yourself Apart from the eCommerce Competition – Especially During the Holidays

Differentiating yourself from the competition is always important, but especially so during the holidays when the communications channels are saturated with promotions.

It’s a good idea to know where your products stand in terms of price and shipping cost compared to major competitors like Amazon, as well as compared to more direct niche competitors.

With this information, you can find ways to stand out, including:

  • Offering niche products that aren’t easy to find elsewhere
  • Combining a service (such as assembly or installation) with certain products
  • Loyal customer discounts/benefits
  • Top-tier service
  • Greater shopping convenience
  • Free or upgraded shipping

Time Is Better Than Money

“Time is money,” the saying goes, but for many busy holiday shoppers, time is even more important than money. As you develop your holiday marketing plans, ask yourself:

How will we make it fast, easy and convenient for customers to make gift choices, complete their purchase, and move on to the next item on their holiday to-do list?

19 Quick Holiday eCommerce Sales Tips

Make Your Company Stand Out Online This Holiday Season - Eminent SEOWe’ve put together this list of ideas and best practices to help you rejuvenate your holiday marketing plan. Check to see if there’s anything important you haven’t considered yet:

    1. Customize offers as much as possible to the individual.

 

    1. Consider a special landing page of holiday products and special offers. You may want to A/B test offers – for example: price discount vs. free shipping.

 

    1. Optimize your content and metadata for holiday keywords and write seasonal blog content.

 

    1. Consider a holiday gift-giving guide, with recommendations for people new to your products (such as friends and family of existing customers) and special or advanced items for loyal customers looking for something new.

 

    1. Consider creating a limited-run holiday version of a popular product.

 

    1. Throw in free shipping or upgrades to faster shipping at certain order price points.

 

    1. Have relatively short windows on specials in order to promote a sense of urgency. Have multiple specials over the course of the season.

 

    1. Tease special offers and major shopping days a week ahead of time, a day or two before launch, and send emails at midnight on the day of so that they’re in inboxes when customers wake up.

 

    1. Have a few amazing price deals, but don’t discount so much that it cuts too far into profits. While shoppers are looking for discounts, they’re also looking for convenience. Look for other ways to stand out and win the sale besides simply discounting.

 

    1. Create specials that encourage upsells and add-on purchases. Throw in free shipping on larger orders.

 

    1. Let customers know what is the last day to order and get delivery by Christmas. Display this info prominently in website and in email communications.

 

    1. Incentivize last-minute shoppers with upgrades to faster shipping on large orders.

 

    1. Use abandoned cart emails to remind them to come back and complete their order.

 

    1. Encourage people to order early by offering bigger discounts on orders in November and early December. (You may want to share your entire list of holiday specials to prove that the early birds are truly getting the best deals.)

 

    1. Consider offering specials that allow people to shop from home on Black Friday and even Thanksgiving so they can skip the lines and hassle of brick-and-mortar shopping.

 

    1. Since Cyber Monday is the biggest day for online sales, offer significant specials and encourage your customers to “buy local” or “support small businesses,” if these descriptions apply to your business.

 

    1. For last-minute shoppers who’ve missed the by-Christmas shipping window, offer gift cards that can be delivered digitally or printed at home.

 

    1. If you’re a small business with limited website traffic and marketing budget, consider listing your products or services on major sites like Amazon, Groupon, etc.

 

  1. Have a special offer for those looking for post-Christmas deals as well.

Bonus: Tips for Service Businesses

If you’re a B2B service organization, encourage businesses to buy now for 2018, so they can get the tax benefits of purchasing in 2017.

Whether you’re a B2B or B2C service company, considering offering gift cards for future services.

If your services align with things that are typically part of New Year’s resolutions, such as health, love and finances, consider providing a service package that helps them get off to a strong start in the new year and continue their progress through the whole year.

Gift Yourself with Peace of Mind This Holiday Season

Develop a robust marketing plan for the holiday season that will keep you top of mind during this busy buying season while setting you apart from the competition. Don’t leave holiday sales to chance.

For small and mid-sized companies, the key to success during the crowded holiday season is smart marketing and sales strategies that:

      • Capitalize on your company’s strengths
      • Target the right prospects
      • Allow you to get through to the right people with the right offers

You can do all of this even on a limited marketing budget.

Need to get your website ready for what’s left of the holidays? Need help executing a robust holiday campaign? Contact us now to learn how we can help. Time is running out, but it’s not too late to position yourself for success before the year runs out.

See Our Ecommerce Marketing Solutions

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What Are the Consequences and Prevalence of Internet Addiction?

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Do You Have Internet Addiction - Eminent SEO

On this Eminent SEO blog, we generally offer marketing advice, website and social media tips, as well as SEO and tech news. On this go-round, however, we’d like to slightly deviate from our usual offerings and talk about an issue that more closely relates to something many of our clients would usually cover: addiction.

But we’re not here to talk about addiction to drugs, alcohol or other harmful habits that quickly come to mind. Instead, what we’d like to look more into is excessive online surfing, aka internet addiction.

Internet addiction is real, and it’s not spectacular. Studies show that it’s not all too prevalent now, but given the web-usage habits of millennials on down, it will likely become more common in coming years.

In this post, we’ll take a look at:

  • The characteristics of internet addiction
  • How common this type of addiction is
  • The risks and consequences of excessive web usage
  • How alleviate one’s own internet addiction

What Characterizes Internet Addiction?

Couple On Couch With Smartphones - ESEOInternet addiction isn’t yet considered an official disorder, but it’s listed in the U.S. as a condition that warrants further study. This condition is characterized by spending too much time on a computer or web-enabled device to the point where it starts to affect an individual’s relationships, finances, employment, health and more. People with “addictive personalities” are at-risk for becoming a little too attached to their internet-connected devices.

Like many other forms of addiction, internet addiction can cause excess dopamine in the brain, meaning it can give the user a sort of “high” when online. But once the person goes offline, he or she may feel withdrawal symptoms, such as anxiety or depression, when away from the computer. When an internet-addicted individual is not on the computer, he or she may spend most of the time itching to get back online again.

Not only is an internet addict’s relationships and job and school performance suffering, but the individual will likely lose interest in non-online hobbies or pursuits. Additionally, the internet addict may become defensive or angry when someone else comments on his or her behavior. Internet addicts may even go out of their way to hide the extent of their usage.

Which Online Activities Are They Addicted To?

Certain online activities are ripe for becoming a timesuck. If one is not careful, one or more online pastimes may become the centerpiece of a person’s life.

So what are the activities that internet-addicted individuals are spending so much of their time on? It could be one or more of the following:

  • Online gaming
  • Social networking
  • Gambling
  • Trading stocks
  • Online forum and chat room usage
  • Reading and leaving comments on favorite blog and news websites
  • Dating site interaction
  • Online shopping
  • Pornography

How Widespread Is Internet Addiction?

Despite the increasing exposure to the internet and the ability to get online from virtually anywhere, internet addiction doesn’t appear to be an epidemic … yet.

It’s hard to gauge how common internet addiction is, and how to measure it, but here are a few stats that attempt to paint the picture:

  • A 2010 study in “The American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse” found that the prevalence rate of internet addiction was as high as 8.2 percent among Americans and Europeans.
  • “Internet Addiction: A Handbook and Guide to Evaluation and Treatment,” published in 2010, estimated that more than 18 percent of college-aged internet users may be addicted.
  • In 2010, the University of Leeds in England surveyed people between the ages of 16 and 51 and found only 1.4 percent of respondents were bona fide internet addicts.
  • According to Daily Mail, data published in late-2014 said that 7.1 percent of the population in Asia is addicted to the internet, a figure which includes 24 million children in China.
  • According to a 2014-15 survey in Taiwan, the prevalence rate of internet addiction among 1,100 respondents (mostly female) was 10.6 percent.

Drawing from all of the studies above, it’s probably safe to say that internet addiction affects less than 10 percent of people worldwide. However, you can also estimate that a reasonably higher percentage of young people would qualify for being internet addicted.

More on China’s Internet Addiction Problems

China is particularly seeing an affliction of internet addiction, especially among young males. In 2008, the most populated country declared internet addiction a clinical disorder, becoming one of the first nations to do so, according to Voice of America. Three years earlier, China had already begun combating the problem, opening its first of many military-style internet rehabilitation camps.

China’s threshold for what qualifies as internet addiction might seem quite low to some. When it was first categorized as a disorder, internet addiction in China meant someone spent more than six hours online (not work- or study-related) each day and felt bad when unable to access a computer. While that may seem like a low benchmark, China is nonetheless not joking around when it comes to the problem. It is just one of many countries that has been taking steps to curb heavy web usage, with South Korea being another prominent example.

Risks and Consequences of Internet Addiction

Although the internet offers ways to connect with people all over the world, the interactions are often superficial and rarely a substitute for real-life relationships. Besides potentially hurting relationships, finances and job status, internet addiction can negatively affect people in other ways, such as exacerbating or giving rise to mental health issues.

Back in 2008, Dr. Jerald J. Block conducted a study that concluded that 86 percent of internet-addicted individuals exhibited other mental health disorders. The mental health conditions that are sometimes linked with internet addiction include:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Social isolation
  • Psychosis
  • Hostility
  • Insomnia
  • Impulse control disorder
  • Substance use disorders, such as abuse of alcohol or prescription and illegal drugs
  • Suicidal thoughts

People who are addicted to the internet may also become malnourished due to poor eating habits, such as not eating often enough or consuming unhealthy snacks and meals that don’t take too much time away from the web and can be eaten while sitting at a computer. As you can imagine, since sitting or lying down is the most common position for internet surfing, someone who spends hours and hours online each day will see their physical health start to slide as well.

More on Depression and Internet Addiction

Medical experts have had trouble determining if depression leads to internet addiction or vice-versa. Either way, the worse the addiction gets, the more one’s depression is exacerbated, in most cases.

This can become a vicious cycle. Depression can tempt someone into retreating to a computer or internet-enabled device and staying there for hours on end. In other cases, the allure of the internet can keep a newer user online for hours to the point where they’re doing it every day, but as their connections and relationships with others start to fade, depression can begin to seep in. If a person’s internet usage is making depression worsen, it’s time to pull them out of the cycle and begin some form of therapy.

More on Suicidal Thoughts and Internet Addiction

You don’t have to search too hard on the web to find stories of people wearing diapers (especially for gaming) to keep their internet usage uninterrupted and others who have physically harmed themselves to try to pull themselves out of the digital timesuck.

These are unfortunate situations, but they hint at something direr than simply depression. Not only does web addiction closely relate to depression, but it gets even more serious: suicidal thoughts and actions.

The aforementioned Taiwanese study looked closely at the link between suicide and internet addiction. When comparing the internet-addicted respondents to the non-addicts, researchers found that internet addicts have:

  • A 47 percent higher rate of suicidal thoughts within a week
  • A 23 percent higher rate of lifetime suicide attempts
  • A 5 percent higher rate of suicides attempt within a year

Unsurprisingly, the same study also found that web-addicted individuals have a 65 percent higher rate of psychiatric morbidity, which means both physical and psychological decoration due to a mental condition.

How to Get Help for Internet Addiction

Couple Hugging Each Other Looking At Smartphones - ESEO

You’d be surprised at the number of ways you can treat internet addiction now, whether at home or in a professional environment. You don’t even have to fly to China to enter one of its rehabilitation boot camps!

If you know someone who exhibits many of the signs of internet addiction, don’t be shy in trying to redirect their attention to other hobbies or to help them seek professional treatment. As you just read, the consequences can even be fatal, in rare cases.

At-Home Options and Strategies

Software is available to help keep internet usage to a certain time constraint. Most of it is available for download online. It’s usually intended for parents and schools, but it will work for you if you’re trying to help a loved one with his or her web usage. Just do a search for “software to limit internet usage,” and you can read reviews and choose a product that works with your budget.

Also, if you’re a close friend or family member of someone who’s addicted to the web, it helps to model a healthy internet behavior to them. If you are on the web for several hours in a row too, or if you can’t finish a conversation with your loved one without checking your phone, it’s going to be hard to convince him or her to cut back. So, not only model appropriate web-usage behavior, but also try to encourage the person to frequently join you for social events, physical activities, etc.

Medical Treatment

Depending on the situation, a doctor or psychiatrist might prescribe certain medications to treat web addiction, such as antidepressants or anti-anxiety drugs. Prescription drugs such as Lexapro, Vivitrol (an extended-release injection), Wellbutrin, and a Celexa-Seroquel combination all are options for treating internet addiction.

Counseling and Therapy

The internet addict should go through his or her insurance in order to find and start seeing a licensed psychiatrist. The struggling individual could also join a therapy group. Some 12-step programs do accept internet and tech addicts, by the way. Of course, group sessions should take place in person, rather than in chat rooms or other online areas.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) has proven to be very effective when treating this type of condition. Led by a therapist, CBT helps replace addictive behaviors with something more positive and healthy. CBT can change thinking and behavior patterns, as well as give the patient some tools that will be useful throughout life.

Inpatient Treatment

If the situation is that grim or if group therapy isn’t working, you may want to look into residential treatment. Some hospitals and drug rehab centers offer programs for internet addicts. It’s still a relatively new process, but there should be a residential rehab center that will offer a little getaway from the digital world as well as expert guidance toward a healthier lifestyle.

Please share this article with your friends and loved ones to help spread awareness of the dangers of internet addiction.

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Biggest Work Place Time Wasters

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We’re all guilty, there’s no denying it but it’s about being cognoscente of our actions and learning to cut down on the wasted time and being productive in office.

I pulled a few key time wasters I’ve heard the most feedback on as well as shared a great  info-graphic from Yast.

Instant Messaging | Though this can be a useful intra-office tool, more times than none it can make it productivity’s worst enemy. Let’s be honest, are you strictly using it to converse with colleagues or getting sucked into a 1/2 hour gossip sesh with friends or family members?

Meetings about Meetings | You know the hour meeting where you get together and end up with a list of what should be discussed in yet another meeting? Meetings are a necessary evil. If not ran appropriately they can be a colossal waste of time.

Distractions | How many times have you been in the ‘zone’ and got that “urgent” email. You reply and bam, you’re hit with a phone call and then the cycle thus begins. How about coworker side chit chat , or computer updates? No wonder why you’re struggling to get work done.

Social Networking | How times have changed when it comes to social platforms and texting. If you’re family and friends refrain from contacting you during work hours (like the good old days) you’ll be a lot more productive and won’t have to worry about falling behind on projects.

Web Surfing “Breaks” | You need a little mental break from work tasks and step away to check out that movie you’re planning on seeing this weekend. Before you know it, you have 7 tabs open in your browser. Checking out today’s news, pinning and those concert tickets. No need to ask where your afternoon went. 64% say they visit non-work related websites everyday during work hours.

Smoke and Coffee Breaks | Everyone needs to step away from the desk, and it’s been said that taking breaks can make you more productive overall. But, if you’re going out for smoke  or coffee runs every hour, chances are you’re not allowing yourself to be productive at all or really ever get into a work groove.

What do you think is your biggest time waster? How do you think you could improve your overall productivity? Share below in the comments.

Biggest Work Place Time Wasters

Biggest Work Place Time Wasters via Yast

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Unroll.Me | Making Your Inbox Manageable

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unrollSo let’s face it you have a ridiculous amount of email in your inbox, right?

Instead of receiving multiple coupon and eblast emails throughout the day, Unroll.Me let’s you ‘Rollup‘ those emails and has made it possible to combine those selected subscriptions into a daily digest email, thus cleaning up your inbox. Last but not least, you’re probably over some of those subscriptions now, and are ready to move on but haven’t had the time to process all those Unsubscribes right? Unroll.Me let’s you unsubscribe from every piece of spam or unwanted mail with a simple click to the unsubscribe button found at the end of each email line item. Voila! You have a super tidy email and now can be more productive than ever before. This awesome tool works across Gmail and Yahoo mail platforms.

unsubscribe

“Your life was meant to be manageable.”- Unroll.Me

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Find 2 Minutes To Relax When You’re Pressed For Time

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Working in a desk job environment makes it hard not to get caught up in work and forget to take breaks from time to time or even walk away to take lunch. You don’t realize how important those 15 minute breaks are to your mental health and keep you sane.

We discovered Calm.com, a site that offers both two and ten minute relaxation sessions. Decide which environment you want to look at, how long you want your break to be and let the relaxation begin.

Much like power naps- it’s a ‘power’ mediation for the busy worker. Best of all, Calm.com is free, absolutely no catch. So whether you decide to use it to break up your busy day, or an outlet to put your mind at ease before drifting off to sleep, we encourage you to try it!

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Google vs. Yahoo: Choose Your Side

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Search engine giants have had quite a summer thus far. While Yahoo has been busy unveiling its mobile-specific web browser Yahoo Axis, and publicly announcing that it was moving back to its original roots in ad-based strategies, Google – it seems – has taken the approach of: ‘let’s buy everything we can and make it ours.’

There is no denying that Google’s approach is a legal and lucrative way to expand your business, but many lately are asking: ‘is it ethical?’

There is a growing sense of distrust and loathing for Google amidst all of its purchases, updates, product unveilings, and day to day workings. Without a doubt, Google is the leader of search engines and is quickly becoming a leader of both the gadget and software fields as well.

By reaching its hundreds of arms into every corner of the tech industry, Google has the money, science, tech knowledge, and power to change the face of any market it is holding – for better or for worse.

With news of Google acquisitions, products, services and gadgets coming out daily, sometimes hourly, Yahoo’s Interim CEO Ross Levinsohn has guided his company to act quickly on its future endeavors.

Only a day ago, news broke that Yahoo had announced a global deal with Spotify, an online music program that has seen breakout success this past year. This is where the differences in strategies between Yahoo and Google become very apparent. While Google takes the stance of simply buying smaller companies outright. Yahoo has been busy brokering deals and partnerships with the companies it sees promise in. In fact, today Yahoo also announced it had struck partnership deals with both Clear Channel and I Heart Radio

Another aspect to Yahoo’s newly adopted business model is that they seem to be striving for more executive expertise. Yahoo recently hired John Buchanan (Former VP of Marketing for Electronic Arts) and Rich Cusick (Formerly of Chemistry.com) as the new VP of Entertainment and Women’s Lifestyles.

As the race heats up between these two companies, we are sure to get more updates and press releases throughout the remainder of the summer. Whether you are a die-hard fan of Google or a Yahoo-loyal holdout, every web user will win from this. As the rival search engine companies continue to out-create, out-develop, and one-up each other, we will get a steady stream of new toys.

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