The How-to and Why of Twitter Lists for Ecommerce Retailers

Twitter’s recently added list functionality has turned the social networking site into a list-maker’s paradise.

If you’re asking yourself what the point is or why use a Twitter list if you’re an ecommerce retailer, then you’ve come to the right place. Below, you’ll find a brief introduction to Twitter lists as well as reasons why web retailers might want to use them.

Twitter-List-1 What are Twitter Lists and how do you use them?

In the simplest definition, Twitter lists are a way to organize – into lists — brands, associations or people you want to keep together in a group. You can put together up to 20 lists containing up to 500 users each of whomever or whatever you choose.

Creating a Twitter list is fairly simple. Using my own Twitter account, we’ll create a list for my Chicago Tweeps (that’s Twitter People for those not up on the Twitter lingo).

Once you’ve logged into your account, find “New List” on the right column.

Once the dialogue box appears, begin typing the name of your list. This name is unique to you in that it’s attached to your Twitter profile name. You needn’t worry about copying someone else’s list name.

You may include a description with your Twitter list if you so choose. This might be helpful if you choose to make your Twitter list public or if you need to remember why you put the list together in the first place.

Finally, choose whether you want to make your list public or private. If you choose the public option, other Twitter users will be able to see who you have on your list. If you choose private, only you will be able to see who is on your list.

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Once your list has been created, you can now start to add people to it.

There are several options for adding people.

You can use the search function:
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You can search for Twitterers you follow (click on the ‘list’ icon and check the list you’d like to add them to.)
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You can search using other Twitterers’ lists. To do this, click on their list(s) in the right column to open up a list. Select individual Twitterers to follow or choose “Follow List”

If you chose to follow another Twitter’s list, the list will be added to your list of lists in the right column.

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Why would you want to use Twitter Lists as an Ecommerce Retailer?

Twitter lists are a great way to organize the people you do business with. If you’ve been on Twitter for any amount of time, you’ll notice that it can be cumbersome to find and follow specific users you may consider important.

Twitter lists allow you to organize those users into easy-to-follow screens.

Say you have 900 followers. A third of your followers are customer-based; another third are vendor-based and the final third are industry-based.

With 900 followers, you’d have to be on Twitter all day long just to keep up with everyone. With Twitter lists, you can segregate your customers from your vendors and industry experts and concentrate on a specific group of Twitterers.

With Black Friday coming up, wouldn’t it be a great idea to call attention to your loyal customers (whom you have showing on a public customers list) and give them all a discount? Same goes for your vendors. If you love Paypal and your newsletter software so much you wish you could marry them both, why not give them the attention they deserve by pointing your followers in the direction of your vendor list.

10 Ecommerce Shipping Best Practices

November 18, 2009 by  
Filed under Articles, Marketing Strategies

With the holidays just around the corner it helps to know at least some of what customers search for in the way of promotions online. You should already know what your customer base likes as far as promos go, but there hasn’t been a better time to take a good look at your shipping policy and process.

By now you should know that free shipping is a sales driver—it always has been and likely always will be. But for some, a good refresher helps. A quick view of Google Trends shows you the weight that free shipping plays especially during the holidays.

Here’s some more proof that free shipping is high on customer want lists. And here’s a post that shows the sales results generated from testing various types of shipping promotions (although there were tested during none holiday seasons.)

Shipping Best Practices

1. Don’t Make Customers Login to Get Shipping Rates: How would you feel if you went shopping on the internet and found that you had to login just to view shipping rates? Lousy huh? It’s not right, and your customers won’t go for it. The questions of “how much does shipping cost” and “how fast can I get it” are top of the customers mind and to make them login in order to get it will cost you precious sales. Customers should be able to see the cost for shipping on the shopping cart page and it should be an option on the product pages as well. If you base your prices on the location where the order will be shipped, give people the ability to enter their zip code for a quote.

2. Include Shipping Info on all Product Pages: The product info page is one of those pages where shipping questions often arise. Customers want to know if “I add this item to my cart, how much is it going to cost to ship it.” As a result, giving the customers the ability to see shipping times and costs from or on the product pages should be an option. Offering a link to the shipping rates and policies is a good idea but an even better one is using something like AJAX or a tabbed view to enable the customer to get their shipping rates without the need to leave the page they are on.

3. Link to Shipping Page from Shopping Cart: In the shopping cart where customers select the shipping method, be sure to provide more information regarding each what they can expect with each option.

4. Don’t Try to Make a lot of Money off Shipping: Customers are shoppers and can find shipping rates for similar items (on competitor sites) very easily. They are often sensitive to high shipping prices. Don’t attempt to make “more money” (profit from) raising shipping and handling rates. It will backfire on you.

5. Consider Offering Free Shipping at Level Above your Average Order Value: If your average order value is $45, consider offering free shipping at $55 in to increase that average value. Here are 4 more tips for increasing for increasing your average order value.

6. Show Delivery Estimates by Region: On your shipping page, show a map of UPS or Fedex estimated delivery times based on region. These graphics are often provided by your shipping carriers and can easily be downloaded and placed on your site.

7. Ship Next Business Day as a Norm. Ship Express Orders Same Day: Customers want things fast. Even if they purchased 3-5 day shipping, you need to make sure you get all orders out the door the next day (that being at least the day after the order arrived.) In general, make it a point to process orders within 1 business day. There is no reason to sit on orders and doing so increases your chances of the order not arriving on time—and that leads to unhappy customers.

For those that choose “1 Day Express”, “2 Day Express” etc… shipping methods (if you offer them), consider shipping these orders the same day you get the order in (up to a certain cut-off time.) Express means that and you should treat the shipment that way. An example of terminology for this type of method might be “All orders received before 1:00 PM EST are shipped the same day”.

8. Provide Tracking Numbers: You should be doing already this but it needs to be mentioned. A critical time to start building customer relationships is directly after an order. Customers want to know that the order they placed has in fact been received, and want to be able to track that package’s progress to their doorstep.

As soon as you receive the tracking numbers and shipping information you should promptly email your customers promptly and relay that tracking info to them. If your system enables it make the tracking number a link directly to the carrier’s website (or your own) which pulls up the delivery schedule for them. It provides an extra layer of usability and that small gesture will be appreciated by your customer in the long run.

9. Don’t Ignore or Point Fingers on Lost Shipments: If you ship any level of items over the Internet it is bound to happen at some time. A shipment will get lost in the shuffle. Although it may not be your fault, you need to work with the customer to correct the situation. Don’t point fingers. Instead help solve the problem. If that means re-shipping the order then do it.

10. Under Promise, Over-deliver: Don’t try promise something you can’t back up. Give yourself a shipping cushion. To avoid unrealistic delivery times, you may want to add 1 or 2 (or even 3) days padding on to your delivery times estimates (except for overnight, 1 and 2 day options of course.) Companies like Dell and Amazon.com tend to do this pretty well (for the most part). They say “3-5 day shipping” (for example) and you get the package in 2 days.

I like to provide the cushion so that if it gets to the customer in 5 days they are still happy. If it gets there early they are excited. But if you offered 2 day shipping and they got it in 3 they would be mad. Get the idea? Give a window and deliver asap. You’re customers will thank you for it.

Last Day to Get a Free Website Video Review

November 17, 2009 by  
Filed under Articles, Conversion

Just a reminder here to everyone that today is the last day to take advantage of the Free Website Video Review I am performing for anyone who joins my online coaching program Ecommerce Amplifier.

The reviews have been more than beneficial to those who have already received them and in many cases have helped increase their website conversion in as little as one week.

If you want to take advantage of this offer you need to do it today. My coaching program comes with a 30 Day Money Back Guarantee so you have nothing to lose.

I’ll be moving through the reviews as fast as possible and will complete them so you can implement the suggested alterations in time to gain additional holiday sales.

In addition to the limited time video reviews members can also download a ton of bonuses including source templates, cart add-ons, graphic files and more from my Vault as well as get access to the members only forums.

More information on this can be found in my original post on the launch of Ecommerce Amplifier here.

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