Limited Time and Limited Stock Offers – Why Scarcity Gets Shoppers to Commit

Are you creating the sense of urgency necessary to cinch sales? Turns out, losing the lollygagging looky loos and getting shoppers to commit may be simpler than you think.

Urgency & Sales Motivation

To prevent people from “thinking about it” and possibly forgetting about it   scarcity is key to taking advantage of the buyer psychology not to miss out. Limited time offers and limited stock prevent pesky procrastination.

How Much Does Scarcity Affect Buying Decisions?

In a study by WhichTestWon, a simple countdown timer resulted in nearly 9% better conversions than a product page without a timer. Another retail study conducted by Digital Commons at the University of Nebraska indicated consumer competitiveness, in-store hiding and hoarding, and urgency to purchase in stores using perceived scarcity strategies including limited quantities and limited time sales.

What Types of Perceived Scarcity Tactics Can You Put to Work for Your Business?

• Limited time offers
Time restricted sales, such as holiday and game-day themed offers ramp-up the psychological trigger to avoid loss.

• Limited quantity
Use limited stock to your advantage, showing scarcity to boost perceived value. Advertising real-time stock is a great way to accomplish this.

• Limited quantity/limited price
Airlines use this all the time, boasting “only 3 seats at $50.” The rest may be $51, or $40, but since they don’t show availability – the buying public remains unaware.

• Flash sales
Very limited time offers on hand-selected items.

• Product page countdown timers
Rather than simply posting the date, countdown timers ticking away the sale offer a visual reminder of product scarcity.

• Timed shopping offers
Express and free shipping deals for those that act fast are another super incentive.

• Copy-writing tactics
The language you use can also create urgency, such as “Going fast!” or “Supply is limited!”

The Devil in the Details

Remember, the goal here is to motivate purchases – not lie to customers, which creates a bad image for your brand. Base all scarcity tactics on something – a need to make room for the upcoming season’s inventory, overstock. Don’t just toss a timer on a page and expect a sales boost. And don’t overdo it. Encourage procrastinators – but don’t pressure customers and incite buyer’s remorse.

Getting shoppers to commit is easy with rapid response and delivery. Make things happen with the help of Medallion Fulfillment and Logistics for you order processing and fulfillment needs. Learn more today.

Don’t Burn Up Profits Using Discounts & Specials

Using discounts and specials to drive traffic to your site can be a double-edged sword. Used properly, such sales offers are a powerful tool for boosting conversions. Used haphazardly, however, they can eat-up profits and burn your brand. Effectively utilizing discounts and specials without damaging your brand takes a bit of finesse.

Step-1: Brand Strategy

Brand strategy is essential in choosing the best type of sales offer(s) for your biz. For brands boasting deep discounts and healthy margins, daily or weekly sales may be better for boosting sales. Higher-end brands with slimmer margins, however, do better with customer loyalty-type offers. (This prevents driving in non-loyal/price-driven shoppers.)

Step-2: Selecting a Discount-Type

Popular options include:

  • Percentage off.
    Most common with sub-$100 sales, these range from overall, small 5-20% discounts to larger 50%+ single-item liquidations.
  • Dollar value discounts.
    Most commonly used with sales over $100, pair these with a minimum purchase.
  • Free shipping with minimum purchase.
    Shipping is the #1 reason for cart abandonment!
  • Free gift.
    A great incentive – and a way to rid product that’s not moving.

Step-3: Determining Timing

  • Go weekly or monthly to drive sales and help meet revenue goals.
  • Use pre-launch offers to drive traffic and boost interest in new items/businesses.
  • Take advantage of holidays and seasonal milestones to stretch revenue.

Step-4: Converting Missed Opportunities

Sales offers can also help you nab looky loos.

  • Abandoned cart emails bearing free shipping/discount offers are a powerful conversion tool.
  • Social, email, & newsletter subscriptions offers help you broaden your customer base.
  • “Like”, “follow”, “share” & other referral promos are a wonderful way to widen word-of-mouth.
  • First-time shopper offers are a great nudge.
  • Customer loyalty offers keep shoppers coming back for more.

Struggling to keep up with packaging and shipping needs after using discounts and specials? Medallion Fulfillment & Logistics can help. Contact us today.

Don’t Get Banned from Selling on Amazon; It Could Be Forever!

FedEx Rates for Shipping have Changed Today

Amazon.com offers small businesses and entrepreneurs ready access to a huge customer market for their goods. Of course, sellers pay a price for the opportunity to trade on Amazon’s good name, internet saturation and global market reach. Not only do private sellers often find themselves in direct competition with the internet behemoth for products and services, but Amazon holds all the cards. To protect its own reputation and maintain a satisfied customer base, Amazon’s sellers’ agreement and myriad rules stack the deck firmly in Amazon’s favor.

In order to sell on Amazon.com, sellers must follow an exacting list of expectations that dictate how and when they interact with their customers at every point in the sales process. Fail to meet Amazon’s performance expectations and you could receive a not particularly cheerful “Hello from Amazon.com” letter notifying you that your account has been blocked and your sales listings terminated. And, by the way, Amazon will be hanging onto your money for the next 90 days to cover any unresolved financial issues.

For businesses that rely on Amazon.com as a primary conduit to customers and order fulfillment, receiving one of Amazon’s computer-generated “Hello” letters can spell disaster. A big part of the problem is that the letters are computer-generated. Computer algorithms don’t care if you didn’t respond to a customer within the required 24 hours because you were hospitalized or on vacation. They’re completely unsympathetic that your approval rating appears to be in the toilet not because you provide poor service but because the only customers who have bothered to offer feedback are dissatisfied ones.

Many Amazon.com sellers complain that they’ve been unfairly booted off Amazon because they’ve fallen victim to the “law of negative averages” in which a small number of negative comments can, if they outnumber positive feedback, result in a negative feedback score. For example, if out of 50 sales, 47 customers are satisfied, but only 1 posts positive feedback while 2 dissatisfied customers post negative comments, Amazon’s trackers will record a negative average and you’ll soon be the recipient of a letter from alliance@amazon.com, Amazon’s enforcement department.

What sends sellers into a panic is the phrase “the closure of an account is a permanent action,” implying that you will be forever banned from selling on Amazon. And the ban will not only affect you, but anyone Amazon’s online trackers can connect to your name, street address or email address. All is not lost, however, sellers can petition Amazon for reinstatement and a number have done so successfully. The process is not easy; and, if reinstated, you can expect Amazon to scrutinize your account carefully for some time (and hang onto your money while they do so); but you can get back in the game.

  1. Look carefully at the points made in the letter you receive from alliance@amazon.com. Review your consumer metrics to see if you’re falling short of expectations.
  2. Respond promptly via email, explain that you feel your suspension is unfair and rebut each charge with as much factual information as possible. Attach pertinent records or letters from consumers and offer your explanation of any negative feedback.
  3. If you’ve failed to meet Amazon’s performance targets, review your sales practices and provide an action plan to correct the problem.
  4. Plead your case, emphasizing your sales and customer service record and pointing out how your product benefits consumers.
  5. Monitor your email for Amazon’s decision.

 

To prevent being terminated, keep a close eye on your email and regularly review Amazon’s agreements and help pages as Amazon may change its procedures and guidelines at any time without notifying sellers. Monitor the customer metrics Amazon provides and compare your performance to the Amazon’s seller performance targets to make certain you are hitting the expected benchmarks.

Building an E-newsletter List? Make Sure You Are CAN-SPAM Compliant

Have you ever felt burned by getting a piece of mail from your bank, cable company or insurer whose envelope blared “Important Account Information Enclosed”? You know the outcome: You opened the envelope, that “important information” turned out to be an ad.

Translate that print tactic into untold millions of e-newsletters in distribution, and you will understand why the CAN-SPAM business compliance guide was created.

Email a Powerful Attraction Tactic

Even in an age of Facebook “likes” and Twitter “tweets,” email and e-newsletters — when handled right — continue to be a robust tool for marketers.

  • According to 2011 statistics published by Exact Target, 42 percent of subscribers are more likely to purchase from a company whose emails they subscribe to.
  • The other side of that coin? Content Marketing Institute notes that the e-newsletter open rate can go as low as 8 percent, with monthly newsletters averaging in the low-20 range.

So the audience making up your e-newsletter lists needs to be one you screen carefully — those on your list should be the people most likely to find your information valuable enough to subscribe and to read at least occasionally with few opt-outs. If you use purchased e-newsletter lists, ensure they are from reputable sources consisting only of “opt in” subscribers.

Keeping Out of Trouble

Once you’ve identified an audience to invite as subscribers, you must establish an acceptable template for your message. Just a few false moves, and your carefully crafted e-newsletter could end up in the spam folder.

CAN-SPAM (Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act of 2003) establishes standards for commercial email, including e-newsletters. It spells out what you can and cannot say, and sets penalties for violations.

Under the CAN-SPAM rules, for example, you are required to:

  • Identify the nature of your message as an e-newsletter.
  • Tell recipients where you are located. Your e-newsletter must include both an email return address and a valid physical postal address.
  • Tell recipients how they can opt-out of your e-newsletter, and honor their request within 10 business days.

Conversely, the CAN-SPAM law prohibits:

  • False or misleading header information. In other words, the “To,” “From” and “Reply to” headers must accurately identify the person or company initiating the email.
  • Deceptive subject lines. No false promises, “gotcha” wording or other text that doesn’t reflect on the actual content of the e-newsletter.
  • Sending through an open relay or using harvested email address (both examples of technology that allows spammers to find and use lists).

And of course, the CAN-SPAM act requires you to truthfully describe any products or services you are offering for sale in your e-newsletter — and if you are positioning this information as an ad, you must identify it as such.

How to Attract More Subscribers

Subscribers can quickly become un-subscribers, so identifying and attracting new audiences is an important part of your e-newsletter strategy.

How can you encourage people to opt-in?

  • Promote your e-newsletter on your website’s homepage. Keep a colorful sign-up icon near the top of the screen, as you can never rely on visitors scrolling all the way down.
  • Invite new customers to subscribe. If someone makes a purchase through your website, follow it up with an email invitation to the newsletter. You can use the same tactic with visitors who leave contact information on your landing page.
  • Include a “send to a friend” link on every e-newsletter to encourage forwards from subscribers.
  • Promote your e-newsletter on your social media pages; include sneak-peeks of articles or offers that subscribers will find in the newsletter.
  • Offer a free gift to new subscribers. It can be a special deal or item associated with your business, or something general, such as a drawing for an iPad. (However, all giveaways and drawings must be “no purchase necessary” in nature and something anyone may enter.)

Test and Test Again

The way you handle your e-newsletter lists may change once you see how many people opt-in and opt-out of their subscriptions. As with most forms of web marketing, e-newsletters can benefit from testing and measuring results to create the ideal marketing tool for you.

Google’s Going Local, Why Google Places Pages Are Now More Important than Ever for Organic Placement

Have you noticed the change in Google.com results? Have you seen all the red icons in front of listings whenever you do a Google search that contains a city location in the query? Are you noticing that your website’s organic (unpaid placement) seems to be pushed down below a myriad of local results? Welcome to the new world of Google’s localized results!

With Google pushing location specific listings pulled from their Google Places index, it’s getting harder for prospects to find your “real” website. Localization is the rage with search engines right now; even Bing and Yahoo have gotten into the act too. It is now more important than ever to use your local Places page as a doorway to bring visitors into your website. As Google is the big player in the world of search, we’ll focus on discussing Google Places accounts in this article, but be aware that Bing and Yahoo both have similar services.

If you have a business, you most likely already have a Google Places page even if you never created one. Google has planned ahead for you, and has created a page just for you, based on the information that it has found on the Web about your business. It’s your job to claim it, and then work the page over so it can be a selling tool to funnel customers and prospects into your “real” website.

How do you claim your listing?
First, visit this page: http://www.google.com/places/.  On the right you will see a section for business owners. Your listing is free, but you will need to set up or tie an existing Google account login to your new Google Places account. One word to the wise, if you are paying a third party to do set up for you, make sure that they tie the Google Places account to you and not to themselves. You want to retain ownership of your Google Places page as long as you have your business.

The sign up and set up interface is easy to use. You will enter in your physical address (no P.O. Boxes allowed), your phone number, email address, website URL, business description, and then select service or product categories. Don’t be afraid to choose custom categories that are short keywords of the services or products you provide. You can only set up a maximum of five categories.

Your Places page is not complete until you enter details about your business such as: operating hours, types of payment accepted, photos, YouTube.com videos, and finally the important “additional details”. Take time to add “additional details” that make sense. We recommend using keyword phrases for these “additional details”.  Keep in mind that what you enter here should be considered like a bulleted list, with a one to three word clarification in the second field to the right of the entered keyword. Focus on keywords that are indicative of what you sell and in a very short concise format.

Although you are done, your Places page will not go live until Google has verified that you are really located at the address your have listed in your Google Places account. Plan on two weeks for a postcard or plain envelop to come to you via regular mail at the listed location. This correspondence will contain a PIN. You must enter this PIN number in your Google Places account for your Places page to be put in the indexing queue. It may then take another one to four weeks for your listing to actually become live. Unfortunately setting up and verifying a Google Places page is not quick process but make sure to follow the instructions carefully. If someone has already claimed your physical location you will not be able to claim it as well. This is an important note to remember for office buildings and even businesses sharing physical spaces with the same street address. The location will be tied to a single Google Places account on a first come basis.

How to maintain top position with your Google Places listing?
As Google Places pages are so important now in the organic results, how can you improve placement and then retain it once you win it. We recommend that you do monthly updates of your photos and videos on your Google Places page. If you don’t have videos, now’s the time to start getting creative and make several short videos using your digital camera. Just load your video files to YouTube.com (tied to the same Google account that you used for your Google Places page). Insert the YouTube.com link to the video into your Google Places account in the video section. You can show up to five videos at a time. As for pictures we recommend sizing 20 or so into a square shape and then rotating ten different ones each month. Google seems to like and reward Places pages with better placement that are actively managed on a regular basis.

Google also seems to reward Google Places pages with better placement when the business offer coupons and has more review than their competitors. Not all markets seem to have a clear cut path to top placement, but we do know from research that in major markets reviews and coupons are just one of the keys for top placement of a Google Places page. Your geographic proximity to the person who has searched is still the top determining factor in which businesses are shown and then coupons and reviews will additionally rank the returned business listings.

Where do the reviews come from that appear on my Google Places page?
Google scans the Web and pulls reviews from all over and embeds them on your Google Places page. Users can also leave reviews directly by visiting your Places page if they are logged into their own Google account. Additionally, with the creation of Google Hotpot, a social business review tool, Google is actively seeking for others to rate your business with their own application.

Unfortunately, you have no control of the reviews that appear on your Places page. However, as the Places owner, if a poor review is posted, you can respond to the review, but there is no “remove this review” button. You can however flag the review for Google as inappropriate, but Google may leave the review at their option. If the review is pulled in from a site that is not a Google property, even if you flag it as inappropriate Google has stated that they will not block it from showing on your Places page.

Be careful if you are using a third party set up service that the creation of fictitious reviews is not part of your package. Your Places page could be dropped from the index through a violation of Google’s terms of service.

In conclusion, with the advent of search engine localization, claiming your Google Places page is a very important aspect of managing your online presence. With Google Places pages being ranked higher than websites for search queries that contain a location, you really must use this new tool to your advantage to funnel clients and prospects into your website.