Free Tools To Enhance Your ECommerce Website and Social Media Campaigns

January 11, 2010 by  
Filed under Design & Usability, Social Media

I hate paying for things that I can find and use for free, particularly when it comes to my online projects. 
 
In an effort to save myself time and money, I rely on a handful of free online tools to help me improve my websites, online marketing and social media campaigns. These websites include:
 
E commerce web design
Smashing Magazine (http://www.smashingmagazine.com/). Smashing Magazine is a hidden gem I advise everyone to bookmark. While the site is aimed mostly at web designers, its  templates and free tools (not to mention the inspiration) are aimed at anyone with a penchant for the web. Of particular interest to e commerce web site designers and owners is the icons section (http://www.smashingmagazine.com/tag/icons/), which features hundreds of downloadable e commerce buttons, graphics, icons all for the price of mentioning the artist’s name in your credits.
 
HubSpot Website Grader (http://websitegrader.com) HubSpot, like Smashing Magazine, offers a bevy of free tools you can use to grade your website and campaigns. To grade your website, enter your site’s URL on the first screen of the site. The resulting grade (out of 100 points) and report will indicate where and how you can improve your website. These improvements can include information on meta data, keywords, Google Page Rank, Traffic Rank, inbound links. A similar grader is available for blogs as well.
 
Google Webmaster Tools (http://www.google.com/webmasters/). As a self-professed fan of Google Products, I use Google Webmaster Tools in concert with my Google Analytics to make sure my websites aren’t doing anything hinky. A simple verification is all that’s needed to unlock information on inbound links, top search queries, keywords and crawl errors. Like the two sites listed above, Google Webmaster Tools is also free. 
 
E commerce social media campaigns
HubSpot’s Grader.com (http://www.hubspot.com/marketing-tools)  Part of the same family that offers the Website Grader, Grader.com also includes tools to help you rank and improve your Facebook Fan Page, Twitter rank and posts, Press Releases and calls to action. Similar to Website Grader, all of these tools are absolutely free.
 
Mashable (http://mashable.com/) Mashable isn’t a tool so much as a multitude of posts about all things social media. From how-to’s about construction a YouTube channel to the lasts report on Google’s new phone, Mashable is a free website (no subscription necessary) that will have you sounding like an online expert in no time. The site also includes how-to guides for understanding and using both Twitter and Facebook.
 
E commerce extras
Sometimes you just want to try a new tool for the sake of streamlining your productivity. These two websites offer daily doses of free tools to try:
 
UsefulTools.com (http://www.usefultools.com). On this site you can find apps to organize your email discussions or wishlists, design a custom website, get feedback on an idea or even download a directory of cool Twitter Apps.
 
Lifehacker (http://lifehacker.com/). As the name implies, Lifehacker helps with hacks for your life. From creating your own Gummy candies to finding out the best DVD ripping software, Lifehacker, will have you wondering how you ever survived with out it.
 

75 Words to Consider During Your Next Electronic Campaign

Social media and e-mail, for all of their popularity, can only offer so much reach to potential customers. You can have the perfect sale at the perfect time using the most pristine analytics possible but lose conversion because your message got lost along the way.

How can you be sure your message will get in front of as many eyes as possible?

  1. Consider using some of the most popular retweetable and repeatable words on Twitter and Facebook.
  2. Avoid words that will land your message in a customer’s spam filter

The 20 Most ReTweetable Words & Phrases (according to DanZarrella.com) are:

you twitter please
retweet post blog
social free media
help please retweet great
social media 10 follow
how to top blog post
check out new blog post  

 

According to spam filter experts, there are at least* 55 words or phrases you want to avoid in your e-mails include:

#1 Accept credit cards Affordable
All natural Apply online Bargain
Best price Billing address Buy direct
Call Cards Accepted Check
Click /Click Here / Click Below Click to remove Congratulations
Cost / No cost Do it today Extra income
For free Form Free and FREE
Free leads Free membership Free offer
Free preview Full refund Get it now
Giving away Guarantee Hidden
Marketing Marketing solutions Money
Name brand Never No Hidden Costs
No-obligation Now Offer
One time / one-time Opportunity Order / Order Now
Order today/ Order status Orders shipped by priority mail Performance
Please read Price Risk free
Sales Satisfaction guaranteed Save $
Save up to Special promotion Urgent
US dollars    

 

You may obviously need to use some of the words above in your next e-mail, however, be sure to use the word(s) sparingly and never put a word like Free or Now in all capital letters. Increased frequency or repeated use of these words can highly increase your chances of an email landing in the spam folder.

Many third party email systems like Constant Contact, iContact, and AWeber automatically pre-check your email for you against a spam database and then give it a “spam rating”. The rating is supposed to help you gauge how your email stacks up against other spam and thus provide an idea of whether it will be caught in spam filters or not. I highly recommend one of these types of services if you are not already utilizing a third party system.

*This list was adapted from http://www.marketingforsuccess.com/wordstoavoid.html. For a list of 250 words and phrases to avoid, take a look at Words and Phrases that Trigger Some Spam Filters at http://www.wilsonweb.com/wmt8/spamfilter_phrases.htm

Appeal to Your Recession Shoppers Through Social Networking Venues

Welcome to the age of the Recession Shopper. According to research conducted by Penn, Schoen & Berland Associates and commissioned by LinkShare Recession Shoppers are the new breed of consumers.

Careful and conscious of what they’re purchasing, Recession Shoppers scour the Internet for good deals as meticulously as Martha Stewart folds hospital corners.

According to LinkShare, “Retailers that offer discounts, special promotions and product comparisons to engage – and keep – these consumers will have more success than those that continue to try striking emotional chords through traditional channels.”

The study also revealed that in order to engage with these consumers e-commerce retailers must change how they think and connect with current and potential customers.

Your e-commerce consumer is going to be an information-based shopper. They are going to click through a lot of websites before making a final decision. They’re going to ask their friends on Facebook, send out a Twitter post and post a question to their online web group.

To separate yourself from your competition, you’re going to need to get into those online channels with them. You’re going to appeal to those Recession Shoppers through social networking.

Facebook. If you’ve done your homework, you’ll know that there are more decision-making purchasers using Facebook than nearly any other tool out there. These purchasers are asking their Facebook friends for opinions on products as well as referrals. If you want to get in — or stay in — the conversation, you want to be on Facebook, too. You’ll want a fan page that your loyal or prospective customers can click to in order to learn more about your site and your products or services. Use your Fan Page to post pictures and announcements about discounts or sales. Consider it a customer service portal.

Twitter. Twitter is closing in on The New York Times as one of the most often clicked-on sites in the United States. Like Facebook, this is another place where your decision-making purchasers are talking. Like Facebook, they’re posing questions and doing research. Creating a Twitter account and using it to connect with your brand loyalists will show you’ve already gone above and beyond your competitors.

YouTube. Given our visual nature, it’s no wonder YouTube has taken off the way it has. Why not serve up a series of how-to videos for current or potential customers. Create a channel dedicated to your site and post tutorials, consumer testimonials or alternative uses to your products. Host a contest that asks people to post a 60-second video on why they love your product. Create buzz and the customers will follow.

« Previous PageNext Page »