Making friends with your customers

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Magento is a powerful open source eCommerce platform which iWeb has spent many years mastering. Every project combines iWeb’s 18 years of experience. By taking the time to tune our Magento toolkit and workflow, we build effective, conversion optimised profitable stores. But once your store goes live, are you doing everything you can to promote your site in the vastness that is the world wide web?

You’ve probably heard of search engine optimisation (SEO), a combination of science and art used to optimise web pages with the aim of increasing their rank in search engines. But have you taken the next step to put your brand out there on social networks? If not, you should look at implementing a social media strategy, as having an active social media presence has become one of the factors search engines take into account when calculating their rankings.

As a Magento store owner, the goal is to come up before the competition when people are searching for your type of product. Search engines are constantly fine tuning their “algorithm”, their method for deciding which pages are more valuable than others. Measuring interaction on social media sites can give a rough indication of popularity. The more interaction that your target audience has with your Facebook, Twitter or Google+ accounts, the more this will register to search engines that your site is an authority on a particular subject.

Social media marketing strategy

It takes more than simply registering a few accounts. In order to build an active social following. You will need to keep your business’s social presence updated and engaging. In order to have a web presence which will draw in and retain your target audience, you need to have a social media marketing strategy well in hand.

To avoid potentially alienating people, stay clear of spammy techniques and make sure you’re adding to the conversation rather than constantly pushing a sales message. Paul Boag recently wrote an article about his experience with a large hotel chains attempt at social media marketing. He writes “As soon as we speak on behalf of our company it is as if our humanity is sucked out. Nowhere is this more evident than in our corporate use of social media”. Building a social network online is no different to building one in “real life”. Shouting a scripted, robotic message to anyone who mentions your name would not be acceptable among friends, so why would this be considered appropriate on a social network?

People want to know that their voices are being heard. Actively engage with people who’ve made the effort to reach out on your social profiles by replying to Tweets and responding to those who comment on your eCommerce store’s Facebook page. Follow back and engage with interesting Twitter fans. By taking part in the social conversion your target audience will feel connected with you and your brand, which will make them more likely to keep track of you, driving engagement, sales and ultimately profit.

The British supermarket Morrisons provides us with a recent example of good corporate social media usage. When mentioned in a Tweet wishing iWeb’s own, Darren Worrall a happy birthday, Morrisons joined the conversation. They engaged in a nonintrusive manner, showing plenty of personality, leaving a positive brand image.


Generating content to foster discussion

A quality content strategy defines the type of content you’ll be posting on your social profiles, as well as how often you’ll be interacting with your fans and followers. It is important to have content that will hold the interest of your Magento store clientele. Whether you use photo, video, blogging or a combination of them, you will need to post content which will retain the interest of your customer base.

When it comes to optimising your Magento store web pages, quality, unique content is known to be a weighty factor in search engine ranking algorithms. Google has updated its search algorithm a number of times with a focus on reducing the effectiveness of a number of techniques used to game the system. July 2013’s algorithm update dubbed ‘Panda’ focused on reducing the effectiveness of spammy, low quality landing pages targeting long-tail keywords. “What’s the bare minimum that I can do that’s not spam?” was the phrase Google’s Search Quality team member Matt Cutts gave in a recent interview with Wired magazine to describe the mentality Panda was desinged to discourage. This can be an issue for Magento stores as you may inadvertently have already fallen foul of this through the reuse of manufacturer product descriptions.

August 2013 saw another update to Google’s algorithm which again, points to their desire to promote in-depth articles. The update introduced a new visual style to promote longer, in-depth articles in search results. Having an article standout with a visually different layout increases its visibility and likelihood of a clickthrough. Google gave webmasters information about the changes and made a number of recommendations which might increase the chances of being picked for in-depth featured status. The first recommendation was to markup webpages with article tags. These tags are specifically intended to markup articles, much like the product markup is ideal for Magento product pages.

Publish a blog relevant to your industry

Setting up a blog is a popular choice for developing a pool of content on subjects relevant to your Magento store. Writing quality, in-depth content will not only please search engines but also naturally attracts links from other websites, is shared more and encourages people to subscribe/follow for more.

If your Magento store sells clothing or accessories, then you may want to post informative content on some of the latest fashion trends or clever uses for jewelry. You may wish to offer suggestions on how to dress in a fashion forward manner for certain occasions. If you sell art, then you may want to have articles that give tips on how to frame pieces, or how to preserve various forms of art. You may want to give suggestions on how to hang artwork so that it is well viewed, yet holds interest as a part of the overall décor of a room. People are fans of how-to videos or articles, and so you may want to incorporate that style in whatever way will relate to what your Magento store is selling. You also have a great platform to advertise flash sales and giveaways, along with other promotional content which may generate viral activity if done correctly.

After publishing a blog post, spread the word to your fans/followers. Use your social networks to link people back to your website to read your article, comment and share. Even if nothing that you put on your social profile goes viral, as long as it retains and draws in your target audience, you are doing fine. It is not about world domination. It’s about having your business do well. For that to be the case, those who would most benefit from your business need to be the ones to see and interact with your Facebook or Twitter accounts.

Bringing it all together

You’ll need to stay on top of your social profiles. You don’t want to overdo it or be too lax. Effectively promoting your business can take up quite a bit of time and the area of social media marketing is no exception. Even though social media profiles are free to use, if you don’t utilise them to the best advantage then you’re wasting valuable time and marketing budget, but if you do it right it will truly pay off.

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