Increasing awareness of your products and company is one facet to any successful online business. That facet is made even better when the marketing channels within it offer free traffic.
In the search for more traffic, one can’t overlook the potential that Social Networking Services present.
What Exactly is Social Networking?
Wikipedia defines Social Networking Services like MySpace, Facebook, etc… as follows:
“A social network service focuses on the building and verifying of online social networks for communities of people who share interests and activities, or who are interested in exploring the interests and activities of others, and which necessitates the use of software.”
The majority of social services are mainly internet based. They provide a way for users to interact with each other through chat, messaging, video, email, and more.
Social Networking Facts
Nielsen/NetRatings published the list of top social networking sites in September 2007 and compared that to September 2006. It looks like this at the top.
Business Week published the following article on social networking sites in their February 2007 Technology section: Social-Networking Sites Open Up
And ZDNet cited Hitwise reporting of social network traffic up 11.5 percent during the period between January and February 2007.
How Can Social Networking Help Grow a Business?
Just a quick post here to update all the readers and newcomers to this blog (thanks and welcome to you all.)
Today I decided to change the title of the blog from “Zen Cart Optimization and Marketing” to “E-Commerce Optimization and Marketing” for obvious reasons.
As many of you have already discovered, the information I post in this blog works for and applies to anyone running an e-commerce website, no matter what platform you have chosen.
I just happen to have chosen Zen Cart as my preferred open source shopping cart platform for the subject of most of my examples because of its robust and stable back-end, and because I have been an avid user of that system for many years now.
Having said that, if you are thinking of starting an e-commerce website, and are looking for an open source solution that has all the features to succeed, as well as an active developer community, then you should really consider Zen Cart.
As many of you already know, I constantly reinforce testing being the key to much success.
Recently, I tested out several shipping methods between a number of client sites. The objective was to find out which promotion had the best impact on sales.
The benefit of my testing it across multiple sites was that I got a better sampling and thus truer picture of what really had the biggest impact on sales.
Together, these sites combined for a great sampling with a unique monthly visitor count of well over 19,000 during the two month testing period.
So, what type of shipping promotions were tested?
- Flat rate shipping on anything ordered. “One Price. Unlimited Items.”
- Flat rate shipping combined with “Rush / Overnight Shipping”
- Free Shipping on orders amounts over certain amount
- Free Shipping on everything in stock
- Free Shipping combined with Rush / Overnight Shipping
- Real-Time Shipping quotes from various carriers
Each of these were rotated over a weeks time across the sites.
Depending on the amount of traffic your site receives, you may need to run test longer to get a proper sampling. Generally, the more traffic you get to a site, the shorter time it takes to test and gather results. Just make sure your margin of error is large enough to warrant a “winner”.
And the winner is …
After testing, the hands down winner that had the best impact on sales was offering Free Shipping for orders over a certain amount. In fact, offering Free Priority Mail shipping for all orders over a certain amount produced even better results – even when the price of the product was increased to cover that margin.
Yes, it’s true, you heard me right. Offering free shipping while at the same time increasing the price of certain products to cover that shipping cost still resulted in an increase in sales.
What is one thing all shoppers want?
No, it’s not a trick question. Ok, I’ll tell you. They want their product fast, and they want it free.
So, playing on that psychological thinking, the following terminology was tested when offering Free Priority Mail shipping on orders over a certain amount. When added, it too had an almost instant impact on sales.
“Get it Fast. Get it FREE!”
How can this be?
Free Shipping has a powerful psychological impact on online buyers. This can be especially true if your product can be found at a “local brick and mortar store.”
The testing revealed that in some cases, online buyers will even overlook the price of an item to get free shipping. This of course will vary between buyers and industries (more price conscience buyers in industries with “common” products can be “price sensitive” when making buying decisions) however, the overall consensus remains the same.
Free Shipping works and oftentimes is even expected as an option by online buyers. If you’re not offering it to your buyers, you should start.
The impact on sales summarized
Why Free Shipping with conditions (for orders over a certain amount?)
Well, free shipping alone is nice – and works. Free shipping for orders over a certain amount can achieve two things:
- Increases the number of overall sales from a store
- Increases the Average Order Value
Both of the above cause growth in your company while at the same time satisfying your customer wants and needs.