How to Work with Your Digital Agency to Divide and Conquer

Having a strong internet marketing strategy in place to coincide with your shipping strategy is important if you want to secure sales and keep loyal customers coming back for more. So, we have invited Robert Rand, CTO of Rand Marketing, to provide tips and examples of how your internal team should work with your digital agency to conquer internet marketing tasks.


Hiring service industry professionals often come with a degree of freedom, allowing you to benefit from the help that you need, without paying for work that you’d prefer to do yourself. For instance, if a car dealer offers to sell you a car wash with your oil change, you might decide that you could just as soon have your kids clean your car for you.

In the world of internet marketing, you can take similar measures to have experienced professionals assist with what you need while working in tandem with your other resources. It all depends on how much time you and your co-workers have, how many people you want to hire, and your level of comfort in addressing issues without an outside marketing guru involved. Below are some examples of how you can leverage an outside team while retaining specific tasks internally:

email

Email Marketing

It’s common for businesses to approach their digital agency to help to design emails for use with an email marketing platform, integrate the coded designs, and test. An agency can also help to upload your lists, help to sync email signups from your website automatically, and set up advanced features for tracking, drip email campaigns, segmentation, and more. While these kinds of tasks can be split between the agency and business, it’s very common for the business to then schedule at least some of their email blasts, such as monthly messages about new products and sales directly. As email marketing platforms get easier and easier to use, more and more businesses are stepping up to the plate to manage more of their own email campaigns.

pr

Press Releases

While you can have an agency write a release, and submit it to a major press release distributor, if you have someone on your team that’s familiar with the formatting and content standards for press releases, you could just as well write it, and pay the agency to submit it for you. A good agency can address particulars like SEO tagging for you as part of the submission service.

affiliate

Affiliate Marketing

Much like email marketing, once you’re set up with an affiliate network, and have designed any collateral, such as banners, you could have an agency help with ongoing management, or you could choose to self-manage, allowing you to reach out to publishers directly in order to make them aware of the opportunities to promote your goods or services in exchange for a commission on sales that they directly help to generate.

affiliate

Search Engine Optimization

If you have a great web developer, an agency can provide feedback on how to improve your website’s organic rankings by addressing on-site code related issues that your developer can then address. You can also play a big role in content creation, writing blog posts, articles, and other pages of content to help with SEO efforts, allowing your agency to focus on link building, optimizing the content that you provide, and other more specific tasks.

affiliate

Pay-Per-Click Marketing

While an agency may help to build and optimize your paid digital advertising, if you have a good graphic designer with experience in designing captivating banner ads, you may choose to supply your own banner ads to your agency.

At the end of the day, each situation and relationship are different. The #1 task that businesses normally take on, is related to content. Whether it’s text, photos, video, or other collateral, you know your business and industry really well, and will often be the best the sources of content. This includes for platforms like social media networks, where it’s important to share new developments in your business, like new products that you’re launching.


About the Author

Rand Marketing Headshot resizedRobert Rand is the Chief Technology Officer at Rand Marketing in Fort Lauderdale, FL. Educated at NYU’s Tandon School of Engineering, Robert has managed the development and marketing of hundreds of websites and helped to lead Rand Marketing to become a Google Premier Partner Agency, an INC5000 Company, and a long-standing A+ business with the BBB. He’s best known as one of the foremost experts in eCommerce strategies in the USA and is proud to work side by side with one of the industries best teams of designers, developers, and digital marketers.

 

An Agriculture Technology Startup uses Shipping to Increase Ecommerce Customers by 22%

This post starts off our Customer Success Story Series. This success story highlights a ShipperHQ merchant on Bigcommerce that was able to break through the challenges they faced as they expanded to the ecommerce market in order to keep up with customer demand.


Bright AgroTechVertical farming came about as a way for farmers to avoid costs associated with growing food. Since then, the vertical farming space has become quite noisy. Bright Agrotech, an agriculture technology startup, chose to address the increase in demand for these farming supplies by expanding to the ecommerce market. In doing so they knew their situation was unlike most ecommerce merchants’ and they would need to conquer their pretty unique shipping challenges in order to beat out their competition and successfully sell online.

Bright Agrotech guides modern farmers to plan, build and operate successful businesses and ultimately build a new, local food economy based on transparency and trust. Their approach is to Equip, Educate and Empower. With these 3 E’s, Bright Agrotech gives modern farmers the hardware, software, and services they need to make a positive impact on local food economies.

The company expanded to the ecommerce market around 2014 and immediately knew that they would face challenges delivering their unusually large and bulky items to their customers. They were dealing with multiple packages per product, dimensions that resulted in balloon charges (or that exceeded carrier requirements), and freight shipments. After their first few months as an online store, they migrated to BigCommerce in hopes that they would be able to find a solution.  

Putting Your Shipping Strategy to Work

Bright Agrotech started their online journey knowing what they wanted to show and offer their customers at checkout. But, they faced issues when it came time to relay this to their customers on their frontend. Initially the team used BigCommerce’s builtin shipping options to apply flat-rate shipping on their larger items to cover what they thought their average costs would be.

Perry Baptista, Chief Operations Officer describes what challenges the company faced:

Without a shipping calculator that was prepared to handle all of the above, we were frequently unable to charge accurate shipping rates. Nearby customers ended up largely overpaying for shipping, and we had to eat the cost on more expensive shipments. Our customers had limited shipping choices or less-than-complete information about how their shipment would arrive.

Trust me – having a freight truck show up at your house when you’re expecting UPS is a jarring experience that usually results in a number of additional costs for both the customer and us.

The team quickly realized they would need a more powerful shipping calculator to handle their shipping needs. Knowing that building a custom solution would turn out to be extremely costly, they began their search for an application that would fit their needs and were led to ShipperHQ.

Shipping large Items

Increase Conversion through Improved Shipping

June 2016 was the beginning of change for the Bright Agrotech team. They found their solution, now it was time to put it to action and see the results. 

Directly after the implementation of ShipperHQ and other process improvements, they noticed an increase in their ecommerce order fulfillment efficiency.

Perry Baptista explains the effects of their improvements:

I am pleased with the results we’ve been able to achieve. If I compare March 2016 through December 2016 to the same period in 2015, we’ve had a 17% increase in our conversion rate.

Prior to adding ShipperHQ, Bright Agrotech only offered one shipping option, which was “Standard Shipping.” If you take a look at their current checkout, they are now able to offer up to 5 different carriers and 3 shipping speeds. And, they can now incorporate multi-origin shipping information into their shopping cart and shipping quotes. Not only do they have more options to satisfy their customers, they are able to meet increasing demand by reducing the amount of customer service and internal time spent on shipping arrangements.

Bright Agrotech Checkout

Perry Baptista further explains their improvements:

Before ShipperHQ, we’d actually call customers if they had been massively undercharged for shipping. Customers weren’t happy at the additional charges, we weren’t happy about the high costs, and we were both out a ton of time – the most expensive part of all!

Now, even with a 22% increase in ecommerce customers this year, they have not needed to increase their fulfillment or shipping staff. By making use of advanced features such as Dimensional Shipping, LTL Freight and Carrier Rules, Bright Agrotech was able to tell ShipperHQ exactly how their large items need to be handled and what they want their customers to see based on zone, product size and more.

Perry Baptista explains how ShipperHQ has made shipping large/bulky items easier:

Bright AgroTech & ShipperHQ

First, ShipperHQ allows us to assign multiple shipping boxes to a single BigCommerce product. Many of our large items, like the ZipGrow Farm Wall, ship in two or more boxes, and BigCommerce’s basic shipping calculator could only calculate real-time quotes on one box per product. Using ShipperHQ’s dimensional rules feature allows us to accurately quote the correct number and size of packages in real time.

Second, ShipperHQ can quote shipment of an item via freight carriers, which was needed for our large ZipGrow Commercial Bundles. This is one of the only shipping programs on the market I’ve seen with this functionality. Many of our products can only ship cost-effectively via a freight method, so being able to pull real-time freight quotes improves Bright’s bottom line while giving our customers an accurate representation of how their items will arrive.

Finally, I love that ShipperHQ can restrict carriers and zones. For international customers, we only use USPS, so it only makes sense to limit an international customer’s options. Within the US, we prefer to ship only UPS on large items from our warehouse. Being able to clearly define via ShipperHQ what a large item is and restrict its shipping methods is amazing.

Bright Agrotech Free Shipping

The Boundaries are Endless

The company has been able to expand their checkout in ways they were unable to imagine before. With additional options and the ability to control what their customers see at checkout they have been able to broaden their reach, opening them up to thousands of potential customers and are able to cover their shipping costs. Now, they rarely have a shipment they can’t send. Even if they are unable to serve a location, a customer will be informed that they can’t automatically ship to them via the website, which has allowed them to save tons of customer service time.

As always, we are happy to watch Bright Agrotech grow and expand new horizons. We are excited to see what is in store for the company’s future and what more they will be able to accomplish.

How to Boost Your Conversions with a Customer Friendly Shipping Process

Online Shipping that converts

We have invited David Wain-Heapy, a Director at Best Response Media, to share advice on important actions you can take to boost conversion with shipping on your ecommerce store.


The shipping process should be the cornerstone of your business. Without a well-structured, integrated system in place, your company could face serious problems further down the road. Failing to convert customers is the death knell for small businesses.

Encompassing checkout, delivery, the returns policy, and carrier options, the shipping process should reflect your values. To convert prospective customers into revenue streams, your company must symbolise security, flexibility, and quality. The easiest way to showcase a total lack of these things is with a poorly planned checkout-delivery process.

However, with an average landing page conversion rate of just 2.35%, advertisers seem to struggle getting past simple sales barriers.

Give your customers ordering flexibility

The average consumer sees choice as part-and-parcel of modern retail. Moving online, this choice becomes integral. Think about this: 46% of customers will choose one retailer over another because they have multiple delivery options.

Behind the smoke-and-mirrors of modern marketing tactics, flexibility plays an enormous role in converting sales.

Apart from avoiding pushy salespeople, the internet gives consumers the power to sit down, process information, and compare products and services at their own leisure. Keeping payment, delivery, and returns options open and transparent will help customers reach an actionable decision about your brand.

Making this action a conversion comes down to choice and control.

With basket abandonment costing the UK economy £6bn annually in recent years, it’s important to analyse consumer trends.


Major causes of abandonment are:

28percent

Unexpected shipping costs


Solution: keep costs transparent and offer alternatives like click-and-collect, fixed date delivery, and free shipping

23percent

Being required to make an account


Solution: give customers the option to checkout as a guest

13percent

Worried about payment security


Solution: give people multiple payment options


The power of returns

Want to keep up with competition? Offer returns.

67% of shoppers check the returns policy before making purchases.

Making things truly customer friendly means extending flexibility beyond the landing and product pages. Giving customers a sense of control and freedom during the ordering process is more of a Call-to-Action in itself than clever marketing tactics or your product range.

Keep things flowing

In fact, customer experience is expected to overtake pricing and products as the main company differentiator by 2020. If providing customers with options is key to converting, optimising the shipping process for multiple channels is a close 2nd. The UK currently leads the world with 65% of ecommerce traffic from mobile devices.

So, how can ecommerce sites use this to their advantage?

Web designs must work across popular devices without sacrificing clarity. The easier a user can navigate and understand information, the better the customer experience.

Offering huge functionality is pointless unless the ordering process is tailored to a customer’s preferred device.

With the average conversion rate being almost directly comparable to screen size (desktop: 3.09%, tablet: 2.64%, smartphones: 1.51%), this confirms product image size plays a role in generating sales. Advertisers could be optimising their sites better for mobile devices:

Make images larger and shipping options clearer.

Planning for the future

71% of customers are willing to switch retailers because of a bad online experience. Far from looking for brands to be loyal to, the average consumer is extremely unforgiving. Even if traffic is converting now, there’s no guarantee that these conversions will lead to future sales. A disappointing sales experience can stop the cumulative growth of repeat customers.

Customer retention is a vital KPI. Compared with new visitors, repeat customers have a higher conversion rate (4.5% vs. 2.4%) and a lower bounce rate (24.4% vs. 34.8%).

This should make it clear why the stages following the ‘order’ button are so important. Investing time into creating happy customers will reap greater benefits than pushing conversions through aggressive Calls-to-Action. A responsive design with simple visual cues, large images, and multi-channel functionality will serve customers better than needless complexity. The trend towards minimalism in recent years is a direct response to consumer analysis.

It’s important visitors to your website feel their needs are being catered to. Simplicity can positively impact customer experience by revealing the functionality of underlying systems. Going into the future, these things will become the make-or-break factor for online businesses.

 


About The Author

David W headshot

David Wain-Heapy is a Director at Best Response Media.

They are an eCommerce agency and provide innovative Magento ecommerce and digital marketing solutions from their offices in Central London. www.bestresponsemedia.co.uk

PreImagine 2017 Sponsor Spotlight: MageMojo

MageMojo built their hosting company specifically and only to host Magento stores. They specialize in doing one thing and doing it really well so they are able to offer faster performance, deeper support, and lower prices. “We’re making Magento great again!” says Eric Hileman, Co-Founder of MageMojo.

The MageMojMageMojoo team has been a part of the Magento community since 2009. In addition to providing the community with great service, they are very active in showing their support. This will be their second year attending and sponsoring PreImagine and they are also organizing Meet Magento NY this year and plan on going big!

Eric sheds some light on what it’s like to be both a guest and sponsor at PreImagine and how to get the most out of your evening there:

Why did MageMojo decide to sponsor PreImagine this year? 

We love to support community events in Vegas, especially since the Wynn is expensive.  PreImagine needs all the support it can get in order to put on a great event (and open up that bar!).

How would you describe your past PreImagine experiences?

As a sponsor Good! ★★★★☆

As a guest Excellent! ★★★★★

What is your favorite memory from past PreImagines?

Favorite memory was thinking how beautiful it was out there on the Sunset Terrace in the evening surrounded by Magento community members from all over the world.  That was the first time we’d seen people whom we’d only known from their twitter profiles, IRL.  It was a feeling of inspiration that really energized us for the next couple days.

What are you looking forward to most this year?

We’re looking forward most to spreading the word about the Magento Security Council we co-founded and the free malware scanner the Council put out.  We’re also giving free 3 month memberships to Nomad Mage for continuous learning.  Spreading education about security while also learning from our Peers is exciting!  We’re ready to collaborate on more initiatives with other community members!

What would you list as the biggest benefit of attending PreImagine?

PreImagine is the eye of the hurricane. Everyone is crazy busy leading up to Imagine.  We all arrive in Las Vegas and have that one day where everything is calm.  PreImagine sits in that calm window and gives everyone a chance to take a breath, say Hello to old friends, and relax for a little while before the whirlwind begins again Monday.

Do you have any advice for first time attendees? 

There’s no need to be shy. Find the people you recognize from twitter, stackoverflow, etc, just walk up and introduce yourself.  We’re all here for the same reason and you’ll find you have a lot in common with everyone, if you open up!

PreImagine 2017 Sponsor Spotlight: Avalara

Avalara, Inc., is a leading cloud-based software platform provider that delivers a broad and growing array of compliance solutions related to sales tax and other transaction taxes, such a value-added tax. Avalara helps make sales tax compliance simple and automatic for businesses of all sizes.

25980220464_ce0f8f9905_zTheir end-to-end suite of solutions automatically determines taxability, identifies applicable tax rates, accurately calculates taxes, prepares and files returns, remits taxes, maintains tax records, and manages tax exemption certificates. The Avalara team has been a member of the Magento community for 5 years. They are proudly sponsoring the PreImagine event for a third year, but this will be their first time attending.

Although Amiee Keenan, Partner Marketing Manager of Avalara, will be joining us at PreImagine for the first time this year, she was happy to shed some helpful knowledge she gained from attending other conferences and what she is looking forward to this Sunday:

Why did Avalara decide to sponsor PreImagine this year?

This is a great show. It is a great way to kick-start the conference.

What are you looking forward to most this year?

Personally, this is my first year at Imagine so I look forward to learning, networking, and being in the booth.

Do you have any advice for first time attendees?

I have attended many conferences. There is a lot of walking so good, comfortable shoes are the key to get you through.

 

 

PreImagine 2017 Sponsor Spotlight: Vantiv

Vantiv is a leading payment processor differentiated by an integrated technology platform. They offer a comprehensive suite of traditional and innovative payment processing and technology solutions to merchants and financial institutions of all sizes, enabling them to address their payment processing needs online, in-store, or omnichannel through a single provider. According to the Nilson Report’s latest annual U.S. Merchant Acquirer Rankings, Vantiv now processes more domestic debit and credit transactions than any other acquirer in the United States.

26492812792_c304b85aae_zThe Vantiv team has been a member of the Magento community for the past four years and they are very excited to be participating in their very first PreImagine event this year!

Alain Gendre, Sr. Partnership Manager of ecommerce, took time out of his day to share why their team is excited to sponsor this year’s event and what they are looking forward to as we get closer to PreImagine:

Why did your company decide to sponsor PreImagine this year?

Vantiv recently became a Magento Select Technology Partner and is investing significantly in our Magento partnership. The Imagine event is the perfect venue to promote our new relationship.

What are you looking forward to most this year?

I’m looking forward to reconnecting with the Magento Commerce family: merchants, partners, and developers. Additionally, as an avid tennis fan, I can’t wait to see and hear Serena Williams, who will be the guest speaker at Imagine.

What would you list as the biggest benefit of attending PreImagine?

PreImagine is the best way to connect with the hardcore Magento fans ahead of the Imagine event. If I can use a football analogy, it is equivalent to a tailgate party before a very big Patriots game – it’s a lot of fun with great networking and camaraderie. You definitely don’t want to miss it!

 

PreImagine 2017 Sponsor Spotlight: MediaCT

MediaCT is the leading Dutch commerce development agency, specializing in Magento Enterprise Solutions. They deliver the highest quality development and optimization of new or existing commerce sites. Their team stands for short communication lines and openness. From their office in Groningen they serve over 25 renowned e-commerce enterprises throughout the Netherlands – inspiring, motivating, and taking our clients to the next level.

MediaCTTheir team leads the pack with their marketing DNA, conversion-focused attitude and excellent technological know-how. MediaCT lurched their first Magento site at the end of 2008 and they have been a part of the community for almost a decade now.  This will be their third time attending PreImagine and first time sponsoring the event!

Tjitte Folkertsma of MediaCT shares his views on the PreImagine event and what he looks forward to most:

Why did MediaCT decide to sponsor PreImagine this year?

The reason I decided to sponsor this year is that I promised it to Ignacio Riesco & Kimberely Thomas (Magentogirl) last year 😉

How would you describe your past PreImagine experiences?

Every year it’s a special get-together with friends and colleagues from around the world celebrating the #real Magento community, learning from each other and having a lot of fun!

What is your favorite memory from past PreImagines?

I have several special moments at (pre)imagine.

Imagine is the place to get inspired and to get a feeling and connecting with what’s going on in the commerce and Magento world.

What are you looking forward to most this year?

Connecting with all the great people and friends we met at all the Magento events around the world.

Do you have any advice for first time attendees?

Don’t hesitate to become actively involved and get in contact with all the great people there.

Almost all of them won’t bite (watch out for Ignacio he might ;-), but besides him…. talk, learn, drink, interact, be inspirent, laugh and connect!

PreImagine 2017 Sponsor Spotlight: Blue Acorn

IMG_9980-2Blue Acorn is a commerce agency that maximizes online revenue for B2C and B2B brands. Their team develops and optimizes ecommerce sites with solutions tailored to deliver results that matter most to your organization. Whether you need radical change or incremental improvements, their integrated team of designers, developers and optimizers work together to deliver engaging shopping experiences for your customers and efficient processes for you.

Blue Acorn has been a part of the Magento community almost since its inception. Around the same time Kevin Eichelberger was laying the foundation for what would become Blue Acorn, he heard about a new project called Magento. They’ve been an official Magento partner since 2009, and since then have won awards for partner of the Year, Best Web Design, Most innovative Site of the Year, and spirit of Excellence.

This is the team’s fifth year attending and sponsoring PreImagine. They even helped organize the first PreImagine back in 2013 and their founder, Kevin, was actually the first person to ever use the hashtag #PreImagine in a tweet.

We interviewed Bethany Kelley, PR & Communications Manager, to get insight on the Blue Acorn experience at PreImagine and what they look forward to most this year:

What is your favorite memory from past PreImagines?

IMG_9974The Road to Imagine in 2016 was a highlight! A group of Magento community members rode motorcycles to Imagine, and they drove all the way in to the poolside terrace at the Wynn.

In 2014, when PreImagine and Imagine were held at the Hard Rock, there were exceptionally delicious soft pretzels with cheese dip.

What are you looking forward to most this year?

PreImagine comes but once a year. We’re ready to soak up the sunshine, reconnect with old friends, and enjoy a poolside cocktail or two.

What would you list as the biggest benefit of attending PreImagine?

You’ll be able to scoop up some awesome swag from sponsors. Keep an eye out for Blue Acorn’s koozies and squish squirrels.

Do you have any advice for first time attendees?

Don’t forget your sunglasses! PreImagine is always held poolside at the Wynn, it’s beautiful and bright.

PreImagine 2017 Sponsor Spotlight: Pixafy

Pixafy is an ecommerce agency anchored in tradition and deeply invested in the future of digital commerce. They are online retail experts that specialize in B2C and B2B implementations. Not to mention the synergies with their sister company, Net@work, who have unique expertise integrating with back office systems such as Sage and NetSuite ERP, CRM, HR etc. Pixafy’s highly experienced team includes engineers, UI developers, designers, marketers and system architects. They provide their clients digital transformation and channel harmonization across aspect of their ecommerce universe.

The Pixafy team has been apart of the Magento community from the very beginning in 2010. “Like many companies here, Pixafy is proud to be an OG,” says Aleza Shapiro, Senior Marketing Manager. Although this is the first time they have sponsored the event, they haven’t missed one PreImagine and have had a chance to watch the community evolve and grow over the years.

We were lucky enough to interview Aleza and get real insight on the Pixafy experience at PreImagine:

Screen Shot 2017-03-29 at 11.10.48 AMWhy did Pixafy decide to sponsor PreImagine this year?

We love and respect the Magento ecosystem and that’s exactly what PreImagine stands for.

How would you describe your past PreImagine experiences?

All smiles and hugs. There are so many connections that have been made over the years. The band’s back together again!  

What is your favorite memory from past PreImagines?

All the fun Magento swag people have collected or made in the past year they want to share/show off.

What are you looking forward to most this year?

I always love the General Sessions. The Magento team definitely provides #allthefeels

What would you list as the biggest benefit of attending PreImagine?

Enjoying a refreshing drink in the sun with longtime friends that feel like family. We’re all here because we bleed orange.

Do you have any advice for first time attendees?

Comfy shoes. Even though I don’t usually leave the Wynn during the conference, Vegas is YUGE!

 

PreImagine 2017 Sponsor Spotlight: Commerce Hero

Commerce Hero is the first developer marketplace focused exclusively on Magento developers.  The Commerce Hero team helps to connect merchants and agencies with developers for contract or full time work. If you’ve ever tried to find a good Magento developer before, you’re likely familiar with the pain point that Commerce Hero is working to solve.

Kalen Jordan, founder of Commerce Hero, has been apart of the Magento community since 2011, and have attended PreImagine pretty much every year since it started.  He sponsored a couple of years previously through MageMail, his other business in the space. But, this will be Commerce Hero’s first appearance at the event! 

Kalen took time to discuss his experience at PreImagine, what he and the Commerce Hero team is looking forward to this year
and much more:
Screen Shot 2017-03-28 at 11.33.15 AM
How would you describe your past PreImagine experiences?

PreImagine is always a blast – I get to see all the old friends that I’ve met over the years in a more relaxed environment, before getting into business mode for the conference proper.

What is your favorite memory from past PreImagine events?

Seeing the #RoadToImagine guys roll in on their motorcycles. Also, hanging with my buddies Phil, Jenn, Ben, and Jonathan.

What are you looking forward to most this year?

Unleashing our new Commerce Hero T-shirts on everyone. Also, showing everyone our custom Commerce Hero coasters that happen to have contact info on the back of them.

Screen Shot 2017-03-28 at 11.35.32 AM

What would you list as the biggest benefit of attending PreImagine?

PreImagine is basically #realmagento IRL.  No other time or place you can see all those people in the same place.  Also, this might be the only place you can go at Imagine with a green badge without getting attacked by salespeople.

Do you have any advice for first time attendees?

Don’t overthink it – relax and enjoy yourself.  And don’t be shy!