Marketing 101: Top Ten Tips for an Effective Call-to-Action

Lead generation is your bread and butter for long-term growth and stability. Your store depends on a steady stream of new customers to refill the pipeline.

Whether your business model relies on thousands of smaller transactions — or a smaller number of large transactions — you should continually improve your lead generation marketing strategies. And an effective call-to-action (CTA) lies at the heart of it.

Why?

Because without clear, focused, actionable directions, your potential leads will be left to guess their next step. This result is inaction and a missed opportunity to secure a new lead.

Let’s examine ten CTA tips with a focus on lead generation and customer acquisition.

1. Shrink the obstacles to taking action

New leads are often hesitant to pay full price at a business they’ve never purchased from. If the journey to becoming a customer takes five steps, your lead generation CTA should take them from step one to step two.

So instead of ‘Buy Now,’ it might be ‘View Our Products.’

Here’s a chart showing more examples of bigger vs smaller steps in the sales process:

Shorter-step CTAs Longer-step CTAs
Take the quiz Join our newsletter
See your score Schedule a free consultation
Try a free sample Get my first week free

Notice that none of these are asking for a sale. But it’s less daunting to take a quiz or see a score than to join a newsletter or schedule a consultation. Trying a free sample with no obligation is easier than a first week free, because the second option implies you’re signing up for something.

The smaller the step, the less your leads will feel like they’re making a commitment. That means less resistance to your offer.

2. Use first-person language

‘Sign Me Up!’ is better than ‘Sign Up!’. It personalizes the CTA. It gives the person ownership of their decision and gets them more invested in the outcome. Simply adding pronouns like “me” and “my”, as opposed to “you” and “your”, helps turn a CTA from a message into a decision.

This CTA on Okdo’s site uses first-person language to encourage visitors to join their community
 This CTA on Okdo’s site uses first-person language to encourage visitors to join their community

Other examples of this approach:

  • Send my free book
  • I’m in!
  • I want to be in the club!
  • Reserve my spot in the webinar

3. Make your CTA as specific as possible

Be clear exactly what the person is getting when they take action. This is why ‘submit’ isn’t super effective.

What happens after you send in the form? Find a way to imply or directly state that in the CTA.

CTA on BAM Bamboo Clothing's site asking visitors to subscribe and get a catalog
BAM Bamboo Clothing is specific about what happens when someone subscribes: they get a seasonal catalog delivered to their door

‘Send Your Question’ implies that an answer will be forthcoming. ‘Snag My Fast-Action Guide’ tells someone what they’ll get when they ‘submit’ the form. By telling the lead what happens next, you help prepare them for when it happens. Then, they’ll be more likely to take the next step you offer as well.

4. Focus on benefits and outcomes

‘I want to save more money’ focuses on the outcome, whereas ‘Send my budget guide’ just tells someone what they’re getting. Both are good because they’re specific and use first-person language. But the first one states the desired outcome vs. the tool you’re offering.

The person is thinking, “I don’t want this guide because I have nothing better to do. I want it because I want to save money.”

Dr. Scholl’s focuses on the benefits of their products in every CTA
Dr. Scholl’s focuses on the benefits of their products in every CTA

Below the main CTA, some businesses will use the opposite approach to manipulate people into accepting. Instead of a simple “x,” there might be a line of text that says “No thanks, I don’t want to save money,” with a link to close the offer.

This is distasteful and could damage your company’s reputation. Moreover, if you use manipulation to close deals, those people are more likely to be unhappy, leave poor reviews, and be one-and-done customers.

5. Use numbers

Numbers are a particularly effective form of CTA. For example:

  • Respond within three days
  • Get 20% off your first order
  • Upgrade to one-day shipping

The number adds to the certainty of what’s happening for the customer.

6. Make the CTA impossible to miss

Visibility is really your top priority for your call to action button. And yes, you should probably use buttons instead of text links because they grab attention more easily. For offline CTAs in direct mail situations, text emphasis like color, bold, underline, centering, larger fonts are essential.

Daelman’s uses an orange button that stands out from the blue background
Daelman’s uses an orange button that stands out from the blue background

If your brand guidelines have a bold color that’s reserved for special occasions — this is the occasion. You want it to stand out without straying from the feel of the rest of your brand. If your page consists of a lot of text, using an image could draw in visitors’ eyes. Another option is to leave physical space around your CTA (white space) so it stands on its own.

And for longer sales pages, use more than one CTA. Sprinkle them throughout the text as appropriate. If you do this, use the same text each time so the person hears the repetition and gets a clear picture of what is expected of them. Don’t change the messaging every time, or it feels like there’s more than one offer.

7. Place CTAs where they fit in your copy

Timing is everything, as they say in comedy. The same is true with marketing. It’s not just how you phrase your CTA or what it looks like; it’s when you say it.

Putting it too early can dilute your message and make it obvious you just want their information. Putting it too late can cause you to lose some readers. Putting them every other paragraph will make the reader feel like you’re desperate.

Some good places to put CTAs are:

  • After you’ve asked a key question that the offer answers
  • At natural pauses
  • When you’ve just finished a main point that is meant to motivate the lead

Also, consider the location of the call to action on the page.

Here’s some data on how well CTAs have converted at various locations. You have to take this kind of data cautiously, of course, because no conversion rates will be consistent across all industries. Nevertheless, it’s notable which places seem to perform better than others.

  • Sidebar: 0.5 – 1.5%
  • Generic, end-of-post: 0.5 – 1.5%
  • Pop-ups: 1 – 8%
  • Sliders and bars: 1 – 5%
  • Welcome gates: 10 – 25%
  • Feature Box: 3 – 9%
  • Navbar: varies

The one place that stands out the most is the ‘welcome gate.’ This is typically near the top of the page or takes over the entire page, and requires someone to respond before they can close it. If it’s the right offer that touches on a core need for your ideal customer, you can amass a treasure trove of leads.

You’ll need to be careful, though. These full-page takeovers can annoy users and actually earn you penalties from Google. And gated content can boost conversions, but also turn away casual visitors who might have otherwise become loyal fans over time.

8. Employ CTA urgency

‘Claim your spot’ is good. But ‘claim your spot before the webinar fills up’ is better. If you’re giving away physical copies of a book, limit the number and use it in the CTA. Deadlines of all sorts can move a person considering taking action to actually do so.

Urgency is one of the most powerful marketing techniques. It might just be the missing element of your entire sales effort. Don’t wait until it’s too late — learn how to implement urgency in your marketing.

9. Use ‘power words’

‘Subscribe’, ‘buy’, ‘get’, and ‘sign up’ have their place. These do well in certain situations. But they can be better. ‘Claim’, ‘reserve’, ‘snag’, ‘secure’, and ‘seize’ have more emotion behind them.

Don’t be afraid to sprinkle in a bit of “negative” language when appropriate. This can emphasize the fact that you’re offering a solution to a specific problem:  “Stop struggling,” “End bad hair days,” etc.

You can also use descriptive words like ‘easy’, ‘simple’, ‘fast’, ‘quick’, ‘proven’, ‘free’, and ‘guaranteed.’

Urgency can be enhanced with words like ‘only’, ‘miss out’, ‘lose’, and ‘give up’ (as in, don’t give up your chance to X).

Action is driven by emotion more than logic. Inject emotion into your CTA.

10. Make sure your CTAs are responsive

It’s important that your calls to action look great on all devices, from desktops to tablets and phones. Otherwise, you’re not reaching a large portion of your audience!

Take the time to check your design with a tool like LambdaTest, which previews your site on devices and browsers of all types. Make sure that nothing’s cut off, buttons are easy to click, forms are easy to use, and everything looks great for everyone.

Heggerty’s call to action stacks on mobile for an engaging, easy-to-use experience

Convert more leads with better calls to action

You’ve worked hard to create an awesome product or service and you’ve worked equally hard at driving traffic to your site. Encourage those visitors to take the steps you want by providing clear, motivating, and inspiring calls to action. Make sure each CTA is specific, can’t be missed, and creates urgency. Then, just like with everything in marketing, continue to experiment to see what works best for your audience.

If you’re looking for an edge in your business, spending some extra time perfecting calls to action might just be all you need.

Have you discovered something that works for your site? Share it with the community in the comments below!

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Four New Countries and Launch of Multi-Currency for WooCommerce Payments

Our native payment solution, WooCommerce Payments, is available in four more European countries! If you’re a merchant in Spain, France, Germany, or Italy, you can now benefit from a secure and fully integrated solution that supports new local payment methods.

In this latest iteration of WooCommerce Payments, we’ve also introduced Multi-Currency. You now have the power to accept payments in multiple currencies on your store – without the need for an extra extension!

Get started for free. No set up costs or monthly fees – just a small charge per transaction.

Increase your conversion rate

Did you know that the average cart abandonment rate is over 84% across all industries? There are a number of reasons why this happens, but a poor checkout experience is almost always a contributing factor.

With WooCommerce Payments, you can streamline the purchase process for shoppers by keeping them onsite the whole time – no redirecting to a third-party payment provider required. And with the option to save their card details on your store, future purchases are even faster.

For an even speedier checkout experience, why not offer Apple Pay® for a one-click checkout?

Go global with Multi-Currency

Dreaming of international expansion? Or maybe you want to give your existing international customers an easier way to shop? With Multi-Currency, you can choose from 135+ additional currencies to add to your store, enabling your customers to shop and browse in their preferred currency.

Now available straight out of the box – no additional extension required.

New local payment methods

Attract new customers by offering additional ways to pay. WooCommerce Payments comes with the popular European payment methods giropay and Sofort – giving you the ability to tap into new markets and offer more flexibility to your customers.

We’ll be adding more local solutions to WooCommerce Payments later in the year. Let us know what you’d like to see!

Manage everything within WooCommerce

Get access to the important transaction data you need, without having to log in to another system. As a fully integrated solution, WooCommerce Payments enables you to monitor charges, handle disputes, track deposits, and manage recurring revenue with WooCommerce Subscriptions, straight from your store’s dashboard.

Where would you like to see WooCommerce Payments next?

WooCommerce Payments is currently available in 10 countries – the U.S., U.K., Ireland, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, Spain, France, Germany, and Italy.

We’re continuing to launch WooCommerce Payments in more countries this year. Keep an eye out for future announcements, and let us know if you’d like to see your country on the list.

Get WooCommerce Payments
Merchandise Returns: How To Turn a Pain Into Gain

Let’s be honest: no business owner enjoys returns. They can be expensive, time-consuming, unpleasant, and tedious. But do returns always have to be so terrible? Can return policies actually help boost your business? The answer is — absolutely.

There are seven common reasons for returns:

  1. The customer purchased the wrong product
  2. They no longer need the item
  3. The product didn’t match its description
  4. A gift purchase was incorrect
  5. The product arrived damaged
  6. The store shipped the wrong item
  7. The customer bought, used, then tried to return the product.

Returns and return policies are a crucial part of your business plan. 66% of customers review return policies before buying and 80% won’t shop with you again if it’s difficult to return an item.

A poor or nonexistent policy can hurt your reputation quickly via negative word-of-mouth, social media posts, and bad reviews on sites like Yelp, Google My Business, Foursquare, and many others. With an estimated 72% of consumers writing at least one business review online, it’s best to take this seriously.

But a good return policy can benefit your business by building customer loyalty, strengthening engagement, and generating positive buzz. All of this leads to repeat purchases and higher sales.

Keys to a successful return policy

Here are a few suggestions for making returns less painful and more gainful.

1. Have a clear, written policy

Let’s start with the basics — creating a crystal clear policy in written form that leaves little to interpretation. A well-considered and detailed statement will mean less miscommunication, confusion, hassle, and headaches for your employees and customers. Keep in mind, if you also use a third-party sales channel, it may have its own return policies that must be honored.

An effective return policy should include:

  • What items can and cannot be returned.
  • What items can be exchanged, credited, or refunded.
  • The deadline for returns after purchase date.
  • The required condition of returns.
  • If a receipt or ID is required.
  • How to obtain a return/exchange.
DRYFT Fishing return policy
Photo © https://dryftfishing.com/

DRYFT Fishing’s policy includes options for both returns and exchanges. They go the extra mile by providing specific instructions for how to package items, details about what to include in the box, and a link to a super simple form so there’s no confusion. They even suggest a shipping carrier.

TermsFeed has more examples of return/refund policies and templates that you can download for free.

What if your store doesn’t accept returns? 

Potential customers are still going to look for a return policy, so create and link to a page with that information. It should be clear that you don’t accept returns or issue refunds.

2. Make your return policy easy to find and understand

On your website, add it in the footer navigation, FAQ page, product page, cart, checkout, and any customer service or support menus. Include it in your confirmation or follow-up emails and receipts.

Have one page with all the information. If your policy has a lot of special conditions for different products, start on your main page with general information and link to the finer details on separate pages. Put introductory text at the top of the page that emphasizes your commitment to a quality experience.

3. Be more lenient and flexible

According to a University of Texas study, more lenient return policies led to increased purchases. Researchers also found that extending the return window led to fewer returns.

IKEA return policy page
Photo © https://www.ikea.com/us/en/

One example of a laid-back return policy is the Swedish home furnishings giant IKEA, which allows returns of unopened items within a year and opened items within six months. Their cheery and helpful returns page is another great example to follow. Their generosity is consistent with a reputation for value and a pleasant buying experience — undoubtedly key elements to their success.

4. Make the process quick and easy

In addition to the tips above, the process or platforms used to handle returns should be easy to learn and efficient to use. Good news — if you use WooCommerce, you already enjoy a tool offering easy returns and refunds (more on this later).

5. Be friendly

Neither party usually enjoys the returns process and your customers aren’t always thrilled. Don’t make things worse by acting rude or irritated during the transaction. Take responsibility and don’t blame the customer. Note IKEA’s headline at the top of their returns page: “It’s OK to change your mind!”

6. Make returns a sales opportunity

Some stores extend their return period for members. Others make the process easier for email subscribers, who you can reach in the future with discounts and sales.

If appropriate, a customer service representative can suggest specific alternatives to an item being returned (like a different size or feature). They might even offer a discount for the new product. This can flip a return into an exchange and give your store a second chance at providing a product that meets the customer’s needs.

7. Be on alert for fraud

Fraudulent returns are a significant and growing problem. Common schemes include returning stolen merchandise, using false or stolen receipts, and buying something to use with the plan to return it.

Return fraud cost businesses $25.3 billion in 2020, according to the National Retail Federation. The tricky thing about fighting fraud is that most of the measures you would take to address this problem involve making your return policy more stringent. Anti-fraud measures might include requiring receipts or ID, fully intact product packaging, or shorter timeframes, and allowing only exchanges or store credit.

Every business owner should take a long look at their particular situation and balance the need for fraud security against the benefits of a lenient policy. Ask yourself: How large a risk (or ongoing problem) is return fraud for my business? With an eye for balance, adjust your return policy accordingly.

Tools of the return

WooCommerce offers options for both automatic and manual refunds. Automatic refunds change the order status and reverse the charge. Manual refunds change the order status but require you to manually return money to the customer.

refund request with the WooCommerce Smart Refunder extension

The WooCommerce Smart Refunder extension makes things even easier with a quick, simple, and automated process. You can offer instant refunds, enable customers to request a return from their Account page, and allow both full and partial refunds. And, with the Smart Coupons extension, you can issue either cash refunds or store credits.

Returns are an inevitable part of running an online store. Instead of letting it become a frustration, consider it an opportunity to set yourself apart from the competition. You can turn less-than-thrilled customers into your best advocates with a surprisingly delightful and human-centric approach.

WooCommerce has the tools to simplify your return process — it’s up to you to determine your policies and set your brand’s attitude towards this essential part of customer service.

WooCommerce Smart Coupons
How to Create and Print Shipping Labels with WooCommerce Shipping

As an eCommerce merchant, you probably find yourself wishing you had a few extra hours each day. Between marketing, customer service, inventory, and dozens of other tasks that need to get done, it seems like 24 hours just isn’t enough.

While you can’t bend the rules of time, you can free up some extra hours. One area where your store can benefit from automation is in shipping label management. By eliminating some of the manual tasks involved in the shipping process, your business can run more efficiently and you can use the time you save to catch up on other projects or cut back your work days and focus on self-care.

Why you should automate your shipping label process

Need more convincing to automate shipping label creation and printing? Check out the following three benefits:

  1. Worry less about tasks: As a store owner, you’re constantly switching hats throughout the day. The more tasks you have to switch back and forth to, the easier it is to lose focus and waste precious time. Automating your shipping label process gives you one less thing to do so you stay focused on more pressing matters that can’t be automated.
  2. Avoid navigating to third-party carrier sites: Using a third-party carrier site is not only incredibly time-consuming, but could make you more prone to mistakes. Entering each customer’s information manually makes you more prone to typos and incomplete information, which can lead to angry customers who haven’t received their products. In addition, carrier sites like USPS only permit you to print up to 20 labels at a time. If you have 100 time-sensitive orders, this would be quite an inconvenience.
  3. Skip a trip to the post office: Shipping automation lets you drop your packages in a dropbox or schedule a USPS pickup at your door. You get to put off your drive into town or avoid waiting in line at the post office by printing your shipping labels at your home or business.

Now that you’re on board, let’s look at WooCommerce Shipping and why it’s an excellent choice for automating your shipping process.

WooCommerce Shipping benefits

WooCommerce Shipping perfectly integrates with your WooCommerce dashboard to make printing shipping labels a breeze. It’s the most efficient way to print domestic and international labels and empowers merchants to fulfill orders for customers around the world. Plus, you benefit from discounted rates. Here are just a few reasons to use WooCommerce Shipping:

It’s free!

There are no subscription fees or per-label costs. All you pay are the carrier shipping prices.

Ship domestically with USPS or internationally with DHL Express

Get instant access to exclusive, low shipping rates from USPS and DHL. Ship easily within the United States or to over 220 countries and territories with DHL Express.

You can print labels directly from your dashboard

There’s no need to spend hours copying and pasting between your dashboard and the carrier site and worrying about potential errors. WooCommerce Shipping is built right into your dashboard, integrating your order fulfillment process from start to finish — all you need is a printer and labels.

It easily integrates with the USPS Shipping Method extension

If you’re already using the USPS Shipping Method extension, WooCommerce Shipping is a great addition.

By combining both extensions, you can stop losing money on flat-rate shipping and charge your customers actual delivery costs based on their location. Automatically calculate postage rates for domestic orders via USPS.

How to print labels with WooCommerce Shipping

Here’s a step-by-step guide to printing labels:

1. Navigate to WooCommerceOrders and select an order you want to send out.

2. On the Order Details screen, you’ll see a box with an option to create a shipping label or track packages. Select Create shipping label.

button to create shipping label in WooCommerce Shipping

3. Enter the full origin address for the shipment.

screen asking for origin address in WooCommerce Shipping

Once you enter this address, WooCommerce Shipping will save it for all future orders, and you won’t have to enter it again. Confirm both the origin and destination address, then select Verify address.

4. Confirm the package details and select Use these packages.

packaging section with WooCommerce Shipping

5. Select the shipping rate and choose whether an adult signature is required to receive the package.

choosing shipping rates with WooCommerce Shipping

6. You’ll be prompted to buy shipping labels or add a credit card if you haven’t already input your payment method.

Shipping summary screen with WooCommerce Shipping

If you need to add your credit card, you’ll be taken to the Add Credit Card screen to complete the required fields and save your card.

Once your payment method is confirmed, you’ll be able to select Buy shipping labels, and you’re now ready to proceed.

buy shipping level option

7. After selecting Buy shipping labels, you can view your shipping label in Print mode.

print screen for shipping labels

8. You can now either print or save the label for later use. Or, create multiple labels and batch print all at once.

Other shipping automation options

WooCommerce Shipping is free to use, making it the most cost-effective solution for shipping automation. Being able to do everything right from your WooCommerce dashboard also removes extra steps in the order fulfillment process. However, you may find that you need other features — like additional carriers. Below are three popular shipping automation solutions that integrate with WooCommerce:

Shippo logo

Shippo

Cost: Free account + $0.05 cents/label — $200/month for up to 10,000 labels

Shippo promises that its customers will have easier shipping with discounted rates that result in happy customers. Appealing to merchants that ship worldwide, Shippo lets store owners quickly access global shipping via integration with over 85 carriers.

There are three main benefits to using Shippo:

  1. Discounted shipping rates: You’ll instantly get discounted rates from carriers like UPS, USPS, and DHL Express.
  2. Simplified label printing: Orders import automatically from your eCommerce store, and you can batch print to automate your process further.
  3. On-Demand tracking & free return labels: Customers can choose tracking options and are provided with a free return label. You’ll only be charged if they return an item.
ShipStation logo

ShipStation

Cost: $9 – $159/mo

Overseas store owners who want to save time should look no further than ShipStation to speed up their shipping process. Available in Australia, the United Kingdom, Canada, and the United States, ShipStation offers discounts on labels no matter where you are. Great for small and large merchants alike, the tool also comes with custom notification emails, packing slips, shipping labels, and even a branded tracking page unique to your shop.

eCommerce store owners who spend a lot of time on the go will love the ShipStation mobile app to run their business from the comfort of their phone or tablet.

ShipStation features include:

Stamps.com

Stamps.com

Cost: $17.99/mo

For shop owners in the United States who rely heavily on USPS to get their orders out, the WooCommerce Stamps API extension is just what you need.

By integrating the Stamps.com extension, you can create ready-to-print shipping labels for USPS that come with the most up-to-date rates. So whether you ship five orders a day or 500, you can rest assured that Stamps.com is providing you with affordable USPS shipping rates.

The Stamps.com API extension offers features such as:

  • Access to USPS shipping services
  • Discounted domestic and international USPS shipping rates
  • Discounted Stamps.com insurance

While there are several shipping options out there, it’s up to you to choose the process best suited for your online store. No matter what solution you choose, automating your shipping will help you save time and give you another tool to run an efficient and successful business.

Save time and money with WooCommerce Shipping
The Incredible Story of Thomas’s Trendy Socks

Many entrepreneurs have faced and overcome setbacks and challenges to achieve their business dreams. Still, few have succeeded against the kind of odds faced by Thomas Barry and his father, Finbar.

Of course, few of us share the vision, tenacity, and sheer force of will possessed by this amazing family of Irish entrepreneurs.

A rough start

The youngest of seven children, Thomas was born with Down Syndrome, along with a host of other severe illnesses, including Perthes Disease, Hirschsprung Disease, a heart murmur, an underactive thyroid, Hiatus Hernia, and stomach reflux. He wasn’t expected to survive his first two months, which were spent in intensive care.

But then, as now, Thomas was a fighter, and he fought his way home.

As a child, he was often sick, spending many months each year in the hospital for various illnesses. He would become the youngest person in Ireland to have a total hip replacement. The harsh reality was that Thomas could probably never hold down a regular type of job due to his disabilities. But this being Thomas, this had no effect on his desire to work and express his creativity.

The fact is that when Thomas makes up his mind about something, he’s very determined — even relentless — to see it through.

“I want a job”

Despite all of the pain and struggles that Thomas faced growing up, he had one all-consuming dream by the time he reached his teen years. He wanted a job, a real “get up in the morning and go to work” kind of job.

The kind of job that he’d spent his childhood watching his father and brothers march off to each day.

“Dad,” he’d say, “Make me a lunch. I’m going to work!”

For Finbar, his son’s dream was a deeply concerning one. When Thomas first began to voice his desires, he wasn’t even able to walk. His overall health was still quite poor and he lived with severe pain daily.

How would he be able to maintain any type of job?

“We just kept kicking the can down the road,” says Finbar, “telling him ‘maybe next year’ and hoping for a miracle. We just couldn’t bear the thought of pouring cold water on his dreams.”

But Thomas never gave up.  “I want to get to work; I want to get a job; I want to go to work.” The same never-give-up rock-solid determination that saw him through those first precarious months of life was as strong as ever. And, as always, Thomas fought on.

Thomas and his father with a pair of socks that say, "It's okay not to be ok."

All about the socks

As “I want a job” continued to be his son’s mantra, his father wondered what he could possibly do to help.

Then one day, it came to him. If there was one constant in Thomas’s daily life, it was his socks.

He went nowhere without socks, keeping them with him both day and night.

Where other children found comfort in blankets or stuffed animals, Thomas found his in his beloved sock collection. Thomas had always played with socks. He would put one sock into the other and swing them around his fingers for hours until, after years of practice, he was amazingly adept at it.

He never played much with toys in his early childhood but would go nowhere without his socks.

“He took them to bed with him,” says Finbar, “so that the first thing he’d see when he opened his eyes was the socks in his hand.

I remember wondering to myself, ‘Is this something Tom would identify with, or could even do for a living, sharing his love of socks with others by selling socks online?’”

WordPress and WooCommerce

That’s when Finbar approached his grandson Shane for help. Having studied computer science, programming, web development, and digital marketing in college, Shane seemed like the best choice to take Thomas’s and Finbar’s dreams and make them a reality.

“When my granddad approached me about the business,” says Shane, “we sat down, came up with a plan, and I knew immediately that I was going to use WordPress and WooCommerce. I’d used them before and I was confident in both.”

For Shane, WooCommerce came hand-in-hand with WordPress, and he found the combination simple and easy to use, allowing him a lot of flexibility.

When asked about using Shopify, Shane was quick to respond.

“I think you’re quite limited with services like Shopify. You have to pay a monthly recurring fee, and it’s just not as flexible as having your own website and your own host.”

As they began to design a website for Thomas’s new business, the Barrys implemented WooCommerce, using Stripe (a fellow Irish company) as their payment processor. They had briefly considered other processors, but previous experiences and fees deterred that option, and they’ve been pleased with their ultimate decision.

With WooCommerce and Stripe, Apple Pay was easily enabled, giving Thomas’s customers a fast and secure way to pay online.

A product page for socks displayed on an Apple MacBook Pro.

Getting started

“Once we set up the website with a product catalog and some basic selling tools,” says Shane, “we began adding more advanced options and a monthly subscription plan. Using WooCommerce, it was all very straightforward.”

Even though his education and experience allow him to write his own code, Shane appreciates the ease of use and ability to customize that comes with the wide variety of WordPress plugins available to users.

“Like WooCommerce Subscriptions,” he says, “if I were to try to program something like that, it would take me a long time. But because it’s already available as an extension, it saves me a lot of work. There’s a great base of extensions available.

We use Stripe for everything from taking individual website payments to invoicing commercial customers who want to order in bulk.

Really, it comes down to making the whole purchasing experience as easy as possible for the customer.

That means, among other things, having a one-click payment option that they prefer to use available to them, such as Apple Pay. Having a payment option that the buyer is most comfortable with integrated into our checkout process goes a long way towards building their confidence in our brand.”

Currently, Thomas’s Trendy Socks’ sales are nearly 100% online, with an inventory of more than six thousand pairs of socks. Inventory turns over fast. So fast, in fact, that the family is considering bringing manufacturing in-house.

three pairs of socks held in front of a canyon

Targeting designs and patterns

Thomas, of course, is constantly coming up with new designs. Shane uses site and sales data to determine how popular each might be with customers.

“After I’ve determined the core audience,” says Shane, “we then look at what previous products these customers have shown interest in. What are the commonalities? (Animals, food, and beer themes have historically been very popular).”

The family wanted to do something to support Down syndrome awareness as well, so Thomas actually drew a Down Syndrome awareness sock. The first run sold out almost immediately. The Barrys plan to expand their charitable work and help use their socks to spread awareness in the future.

“As soon as we start manufacturing in-house, I think we’ll be doing a lot more experimenting.”

The business is always considering different fun ideas to promote their socks, including videos with Thomas. As far as digital marketing, they use social media ads and email campaigns.

It’s easier than you think

Shane isn’t the only one who’s found WooCommerce and WordPress easy to use. Recently, 77-year-old Finbar was left running the company while Shane had to be away.

“He didn’t grow up in a time where you used computers for everything,” Shane told us. “Before we set up this business, he probably would’ve been able to use Microsoft Word, but that’s about it. I was away for a couple of weeks, and Grandpa was able to learn how to use WordPress and WooCommerce. He learned how to log in, manage the store, and process all the orders himself.

I think that really says a lot about the software, that somebody who didn’t grow up with computers was able to pick it up so quickly and easily.”

The secret of their success

The Barry family started Thomas’s Trendy Socks on a shoestring budget of less than €1,000, and have built on that through a simple formula of scaling up month after month.

“That’s our approach: just scale and reinvest, scale and reinvest. At the moment, there are three of us, but the long-term plan is that when we start producing our own products in-house, we hope to be able to employ people like Thomas.”

Perhaps the most essential element to the success of Thomas’s Trendy Socks is attitude.

“Thomas has been through a lot. He’s had to overcome a lot of challenges, and yet, despite all of that, he’s always happy and always smiling, and he just wants to make other people happy and smile, too. I think the business is thriving because Thomas shares that positive energy through every pair of socks to every customer,” says Shane.

Thomas is bringing joy to people’s lives by sharing not only his fun socks but his indomitable spirit as well.

And that is Thomas’s job.

How to Use Email Marketing to Increase Product Reviews in Five Steps

How many of us have noticed a new restaurant in our area, only to pull out our phone and immediately check the reviews? We do it so often that it’s become second nature.

No matter how you slice it, reviews seem to rule the world around us. They can either make or break a decision to eat at a restaurant, buy coffee at a cafe, or make a purchase from an eCommerce store.

If you run a business, product reviews instill trust in your brand and help improve your online presence. Email is one great way to collect them.

However, if you’re not sure how to use email as a tool to increase your product reviews, this is the guide for you. By the end, you’ll feel equipped with the knowledge to start collecting product reviews that will help you take your eCommerce store to the next level.

Why do product reviews matter?

Collecting product reviews and feedback from your customers can help in many ways. They:

  1. Give your company a good reputation: Building a solid reputation is crucial for the success of your business. People want to buy from an online store that appears trustworthy and reputable. A staggering 88% of consumers say that they trust online reviews as much as they would a recommendation from a friend!
  2. Build a rapport with existing customers: Asking returning customers for their thoughts on a product shows that you care and contributes towards building a rapport with them. Imagine how you would feel if your favorite brand asked for your feedback and then featured it on their website? You want your customers to feel important and that you care about their thoughts. Showing personal interest is an asset that can set you apart from your competition.
  3. Provide you with testimonials: While you can work hard to create your brand, testimonials can speak louder than anything you could say. You can even create an entire area on your website or social media account dedicated to product reviews and what people say about your shop. This way, new visitors will know exactly where to go to find out what people think. These pages may even motivate them to buy highly-reviewed products, therefore increasing your sales.
  4. Gain valuable feedback. Reviews also help you hone in on areas that you can improve across your business. Perhaps multiple people comment that your return policy is hard to find or your shirts run large. You can gather that information and apply it in ways that benefit both previous and future customers.

How to ask for reviews in email marketing

If you’re already sending newsletters or promotional emails to your subscribers, you can use the same software to ask customers for reviews en masse. Or, use tools like MailPoet, which can automatically ask individual customers for a review after a set period of time.

Mack Weldon email asking a customer for a review on the sweatpants they purchased
Photo © Really Good Emails

Here are a few tips for requesting reviews:

1. Customize your emails

Although you might use predesigned templates, this doesn’t mean that they need to be cookie-cutter responses. With all the spam people have in their inbox, you don’t want to get thrown in with unwanted messages.

Start by customizing the email with their name. While you want to maintain a sense of professionalism, you also want them to view you as a friend. A simple “Hi there {subscriber name}!” or “How’s it going {subscriber name}?” will give your emails the personal touch you need to stand out from the crowd.

Another way to customize your emails is by separating them by product and category:

Purchased this product emails

Let’s say you want to increase sales or reviews for a particular product. Using Mailpoet’s product-specific email feature with WooCommerce makes this a breeze. First, you can customize your emails based on the product purchased and set them to automatically trigger after a set period of time.

"purchased this product" settings with a dropdown for send time

You might send tutorials on using the item or suggest related products. Plus, you can ask them for a review.

Your review request might say something like:

Hey {subscriber name}! 

You purchased {product name} X days ago, and we wanted to check in and see how you like it! We appreciate your support and just can’t wait to know how it’s been working for you. Could you share a few thoughts? Your honest feedback will help us improve our products now and in the future! 

{Insert call to action button}

You can remind them of their purchase in a few short sentences and motivate them to give you some helpful feedback.

Purchased in this category emails

What if you’re looking to increase sales in a particular category? Send a “Purchased in this Category” email to reach a wide group of customers from this segment. Unlike the specific product emails, these target customers based on the category they purchased from initially.

dropdown for "purchased in this category" email showing options for scheduling

You can request a review (which will give you more credibility with new shoppers) and remind former customers of other products they might like to add to their collection — all at the same time!

Don’t be afraid to sound friendly and casual here. You want people to think of you as a friend encouraging them to return to a store they love. These category emails can be scheduled in advance to be sent out days or weeks after the initial purchase.

2. Give a clear call to action

Make it as easy as possible for your customers to leave reviews. The last thing you want is for them to feel that it’s another vague email that’s landed in their inbox. Instead, leave a clearcut call to action at the end of your message.

Target email asking for a product review of a memory foam bed pillow
Photo © Really Good Emails

This might take the form of a short message with a button saying, “Click here to tell us what you think” or “Fill out a brief survey.”

3. Timing is everything

When using email marketing to increase product reviews, timing is everything. We’ve all been here: you download a new game app on your phone only to be accosted with a review request five seconds later. You haven’t even tried the game!

It’s the same with product reviews. When sending emails, you want to wait long enough for the customer to get familiar with their purchase. This also means factoring in the time it takes for shipping.

Take the example of a digital download versus a hoodie. Someone who bought a digital download will likely access it right away, so sending a product review a week after the delivery date would be ideal.

On the other hand, a physical product like a hoodie needs to be washed and hung up in their closet. A person might not reach for it until a windy day. Consider sending a product review email after a few weeks. This gives them enough time to wear it once or twice, and they can give it a thorough review.

You can automate your emails to send at specific times with either of the MailPoet features. Emailing people in this manner helps you catch your customers at the right times.

4. Don’t annoy your customers

While you want to get these coveted reviews, you don’t want to come across as pushy. It’s okay if some people don’t respond to your request for a testimonial. If they’re a repeat customer, there will be plenty of future opportunities to ask them for a review.

Sending out requests for product reviews too often will have your customers unsubscribing faster than you can say “email.” Instead of spamming them, why not consider including an incentive in the subject line?

An incentive could look like a 15% off coupon for giving their thoughts or offering a buy one, get one deal on their next purchase.

Your subject line might say:

{subscriber name}, get 15% off your next purchase for sharing your thoughts! 

Or,

Hey {subscriber name}, how does BOGO on your next purchase sound? 

5. Thank them for their time

Finally, and most importantly, you want to thank your customers for the time they spend filling out a survey or sending in their thoughts. Even a not-so-stellar review can give you some much-needed insight into how you can improve your products.

Use MailPoet to send behavior-triggered emails after a customer has filled out a product review. If you promised a discount, send it through. Otherwise, a simple thank you email gets the job done.

We get it; asking for product reviews isn’t a perfect science, but the rewards make learning what works all worth it.

In summary, you’ll have a successful email marketing experience if you stick to the following:

  • Customize your emails (product and category emails)
  • Give a clear call to action
  • Time your emails right
  • Avoid harassing customers
  • Thank customers for their time

As long as you follow these tips, you can feel confident asking for product reviews by email. Remember, people want to feel valued. Showing your customers that you care will benefit you, your business, and your reputation for the years to come.

Learn more about mastering email marketing with MailPoet

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How to Create an Email Marketing Strategy for Your Online Store

Bells and whistles continue to ring across the internet, claiming to be the ‘secret’ to business growth, marketing, and more money. But email marketing retains the top spot in terms of ROI and remains the number one method for companies to communicate with their customers.

Thus, creating and implementing an email marketing strategy for your store should be a top priority if you want to increase revenue without spending tons of money.

If you’re not fully utilizing email marketing for your business, and you’re looking to increase your revenue, this article is for you.

Let’s look at some keys to creating and implementing the best possible email marketing strategy for your store.

1. Establish a goal

Every strategy starts with goal-setting. What do you want to increase with your emails? Sales? Brand awareness? Thorough product education? Positive reviews? Maybe it’s several of these.

Get specific with your goals. How much do you want to increase sales? How many new reviews? This gives you a tangible benchmark to reach and helps you gauge progress — ”We’re halfway to our monthly goal!”

Setting specific goals dictates everything else in your strategy. It will help you determine who you send messages to, what those messages say, and the actions you ask readers to take.

2. Define your audience and types of email

Your audience is going to depend heavily on your goals. You don’t want to send every email to every subscriber — you want to find those who are going to be most receptive to your message.

If your goal is to increase reviews, focus on previous customers. You can then create two segments — those who purchased recently and those who haven’t bought anything in a while.

options for a Purchased This Product email in MailPoet
With MailPoet, you can easily send emails based on previously purchased products.

You can use a tool like MailPoet to remind recent customers about their purchase, feature a specific item they bought, and ask for a review. You can also set automated emails that send a request to future buyers a couple of weeks after they complete their transaction.

For those who haven’t been active in a while, you’ll need to provide a bit more context to remind them of your brand. This can also serve as an opportunity to re-engage them with your newest offers.

If you want to grow revenue, think about new versus existing customers. Give newbies more information about products, include testimonials, emphasize customer support channels, and highlight any generous return policies you may have. Emails to existing customers should focus on upsells, related products/services, new product launches, and refer-a-friend programs.

The more specific you can be, the better. Instead of emailing everyone about a product that you know isn’t super popular, you might email just those who already bought one. They’ve indicated that they like the item, so you could offer to sell them a few more at an amazing discount!

If this audience is too narrow, you can expand to others who’ve shopped in the same category. If the item is similar to something else they liked, they still might be more likely than your average subscriber to buy it.

People like emails that are relevant to them. Even more importantly, they really dislike a bombardment of emails that aren’t. You may decide that you want to touch each subscriber no more than five times per month. So by defining your audience and sending emails to specific groups, you can save those touches for the absolute most relevant emails and really boost your performance.

3. Think about the frequency of your emails

There isn’t really a set number of emails you should send in a given time period — it all depends on your business and your audience. For example, if you sell a membership program that includes recipes for the workweek, it may make sense to send an email every Monday with meal ideas. Or, if you target busy professionals, you might just send a roundup of tips and news once a month so as not to overwhelm their already-cluttered inbox.

But it’s also important to consider the time you can invest in writing effective emails. Can you be consistent and send a newsletter every week? Or would it be better to send it once a month? After all, you don’t want to overpromise and under-deliver or, worse, send out ineffective or poorly-written emails.

Here are some tips for determining the right frequency:

  • Consider starting with monthly emails to see how that works for your audience and schedule. This will help you get used to sending consistently, and you can always increase the frequency later.
  • It’s generally better to send fewer, well thought-out emails instead of more, quickly-written, sloppy ones.
  • Consider automating your emails and using templates to save time (more on this later).

You may need to play around a bit to find the sweet spot for your specific situation. Make sure to keep a close eye on your email analytics to determine effectiveness and consider reaching out to subscribers directly to find out what they prefer.

4. Establish a format/template

You don’t want to reinvent the wheel every time you send out an email — this can be time-consuming for you and confusing for your customers. Instead, create a few set formats and templates that you can reuse based on the type of email you’re sending.

There are two types of email formats: plain text and designed.

a text-based email from GameStop addressing the COVID-19 pandemic
This text-based email from GameStop addressing the COVID-19 pandemic looks just like an email from a friend, which makes it seem more personal. View the full email.

Plain text emails are quick to create and typically don’t look like a marketing email, which might help you get attention. However, they can be boring and are limited in terms of layout and options for showcasing products. And, without a visual reminder, some folks might not remember or recognize your brand.

A designed email from Minna with bright colors and patterns
This designed email from Minna grabs attention with bright colors and patterns. View the full email.

Designed emails offer more options for grabbing attention and engaging with customers. They promote your brand visually with a consistent look and feel, reassuring customers that they’re coming from you. Plus, they’re reusable and can include elements like buttons — which can lead to more clicks. However, they can also be time-consuming to create and require expertise to design and perfect things like mobile responsiveness.

But if you’re not a designer, don’t worry. MailPoet makes it easy to create visually appealing emails that are as simple (or as complex!) as you’d like. Use the drag-and-drop editor to put elements exactly where you want them without needing a line of code. And you can even save templates for future use!

5. Create content with value, not just a sales pitch

Creating compelling content helps you stand out from all the other emails sitting in subscribers’ inboxes.

If every email you send is just another sales pitch, it won’t be long before subscribers tune out your messages or mark you as spam. The trick is to deliver value while also showcasing your products or services.

If your goal is to boost sales, think about how your emails can strengthen the relationship with your customers and encourage them to come back. Include how-to guides, product tutorials, exclusive looks at new products, pictures from charity initiatives, or case studies.

An email from Barilla with recipes
Barilla shares recipes using their products in this email rather than focusing on promotions. View the full email.

Also consider fun and informative articles on topics of interest to your audience. If you sell camping and outdoor gear, for example, offer articles with tips on campgrounds and hikes. It doesn’t always have to be original content — link to good articles on reputable, non-competing websites or partner with influencers to create unique content that you can use.

6. Take a multichannel approach

Make email one of several marketing channels you use, driven by your overall strategy. People spend time on a variety of platforms, and your marketing mix should be a reflection of how — and where — your audience spends their time.

If you have a large social media following, create exclusive, email-only opportunities to encourage them to subscribe to your list. Now, you can reach them in more than one place! It goes the other way, too. In your emails, include an option for subscribers to follow you on social media or sign up to receive a physical catalog.

Use consistent messaging and graphics across all channels so your fans recognize your brand and trust they’ve made it to the right place. To be more efficient, you can reuse content from one platform on another. However, make sure that each at least occasionally has something unique and exclusive — that way people have a reason to follow you multiple places.

7. Measure and improve

It’s important to regularly step back and take stock of what’s working and what’s not. In the day-to-day scramble of running a business, it can be easy to push this task aside, but it’s critical to making your email campaigns more effective.

Most platforms offer data on how well your messages are engaging subscribers. Here are some pointers for using this information to improve your strategy:

  • Keep an eye on your stats and make incremental improvements. You might notice that emails get higher or lower engagement on certain days or times, for example. Or perhaps certain types of content generate more clicks than others.
  • If you’re getting a high number of unsubscribes, review your content, process, and strategy. It could be something simple! For example, if you tell people they’re signing up for a monthly email, but you send them updates every week, you could be driving them away.
  • Most importantly, remember why you’re sending email marketing campaigns. Are you reaching your goal(s)? Do you need to try a different approach? Check in regularly to ensure you’re not getting off track .
A simple, attention-grabbing email capture in the footer of a website
Heggerty includes a simple but attention-grabbing email capture in their footer.

8. Build your list

Emails are pointless without a quality list of subscribers. But how do you create that list? Here are some tips:

  • Make it easy to subscribe on your website. A prominent callout with a quick and easy sign-up form is essential. And add this where it can’t be missed — your homepage, sidebar, or a footer that’s on every page.
  • Experiment with the location of your forms. You might try adding them to popups, banners, or in the middle of blog content (just don’t be too intrusive!).
  • Add a signup button to your checkout page.
  • Emphasize the benefits of signing up. Will they find out about the latest sale items and deals? Be notified of in-store events? Get special promotions only for subscribers?
  • Introduce opt-in bonuses (e.g. join our list to get 10% off your first order).
  • Get consent every time. Don’t add someone to your list unless they’ve explicitly opted in.
  • Use your other marketing channels to encourage sign-ups.

9. Save time with automation

Email automation is like having an entire team of marketers that just wait for the best time to send out targeted messages to specific subscribers. And the right message with perfect timing equals stellar results.

But this particular team doesn’t take up space in your office, or more importantly, your payroll. And once you’ve done the work to create automations, they just work — days, nights, weekends, whenever you need.

So what kinds of emails can you send with automation?

10. Choose an email platform that’s right for your strategy

There are many email platforms out there, each with different features and benefits. Take the time to research the differences so you can determine the right one for your business, audience, and budget.

If you’re not an email developer, you probably want to find a tool with a drag-and-drop builder. If you’re short on time, choose one that focuses on email automation. The priorities are up to you!

If you’re only running automated campaigns, AutomateWoo is a great option. Or, if you want to send a combination of automated and regular email newsletters, MailPoet is a better fit.

The power of email

Email remains one of the most effective tools to engage potential customers, retain existing ones, and expand your reach. Regular, thoughtful communication is the key to success. The right strategy, paired with tools to help you work more efficiently, only makes things better.

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Lady Dye Yarns — From Crafts to Activism with WooCommerce

In 2011, Diane Ivey lost her longtime job in the nonprofit sector.

Where many would have seen an obstacle, Diane saw an opportunity to turn something she loved — handcrafted yarns inspired by graffiti art — into a new career. Struck by the lack of diversity in crafting and inspired by calls for change across the globe, her company grew into a platform to support BIPOC businesses and help stir a much bigger movement.

But before she created the engine for change that Lady Dye Yarns is today, before it became her full-time job, Diane laid the foundation through hard work.

She spent five years working part-time as a consultant for various art organizations. In her remaining time, she participated in business accelerator programs to hone her entrepreneurial skills.

Finally, she was ready, and it was time for a website.

She had plenty of website-building options to choose from. But since flexibility and the capability for long-term growth were the most important things to her, she ultimately chose to build her store using WooCommerce and WordPress.

“WordPress is for people who are serious. It’s a serious website for real businesses,” she says. And this was no longer just a hobby for Diane. It was serious business.

Getting started and the birth of ‘craftivism’

”When I started,” says Diane, “I was just dyeing yarn and selling it directly to different yarn stores and whatnot. That was my business model. I used the WordPress app a lot and I still use it a lot on my phone.”

On the advice of her business coach, Diane attended her first trade show in 2014, The National Needle Arts Association trade show where she noticed that, out of 300, she was the only black vendor.

“That show was very, very popular. So I was giddy to just be there, right? I felt like I’d made it. Then someone was like, ‘Diane, I’ve walked all up and down the place and I’m telling you right now, you’re the only black vendor I see.’ And I took a walk and it was true. I said, ‘Well, that’s a problem.’”

She knew then that she had to do something to improve diversity within the crafting community. And it wasn’t long before Diane took action — the start of what she calls, “craftivism.”

After watching a speech by Viola Davis at the Emmys, she was inspired to write a blog post about the lack of diversity in the crafting community.

“I had a lot of people say, ‘Diane, why would you do that when it could hurt your business?’ and I’d just say, ‘I don’t care. The demographics are changing. The industry is shifting. How can you guys not see this?’”

She wasn’t afraid to speak up. She began to post more about the issues facing her community. And then she started to weave this greater purpose directly into her product offerings. And, to many, her company is now most well-known for its collaborations with BIPOC businesses in the crafting industry.

The subscription model

After purchasing a clothing membership, Diane was inspired by the subscription business model.

“I was like, this is so cool…like having my own personal shopper mailing me fancy clothes!” she says. “And I realized that I could do the same thing for the crafting community, by putting together pop-culture-themed crafting collections. Not just my yarn, but specialty and artisanal  items from other BIPOC businesses, as well.”

After finding some like-minded businesses to partner with on her initial project box, Diane shipped her first 73 orders in 2018.

“I thought that was a lot. So I was still selling yarn, but the idea that you can put all these different products together in a kit and people would buy it was still very fresh, and people thought I was crazy!”

Color Craze Cowl Kit from Lady Dye Yarns

Consistency is key

“The need for consistency is something that took me a quick minute to recognize. There are other big corporations within our industry that have given us huge yarn orders of $50,000, and that’s an investment. So one, like Knit Stars, worked with us for a solid year. It was repeat orders that allowed me to actually get an office and have employees.

Now we’re able to invest in black and brown businesses. And someone was like, ‘You’re kind of like Robin Hood, because you’re not stealing, but you are taking money from all these other people and you’re giving it to other businesses through these clubs and collaborations.’

So what has set me apart from everybody else is the infrastructure that we’ve already built to create the kind of products, clubs, and collaborations that we have. And now 95% of the clubs and businesses we work with are BIPOC-owned.”

The technology

Square

“In the beginning, I had Square but I didn’t use it a lot until I decided to stop using other payment processors.”

When choosing the right payment processor, the final decision came down to which tool worked most seamlessly with WooCommerce. Square was the clear winner for Lady Dye Yarns, not only from an expense standpoint but because of how easy it is to use, both for vendors and customers.

“I think that when products offer tons of unnecessary options, it becomes very confusing,” says Diane, “And with Square, it’s simple and everything works really well together.”

She’s also been able to take advantage of micro loans made possible by Square.

“We’ve received six or seven loans from them, and they’ve all increased. They keep increasing and increasing. And because they recoup it through our store transactions, it makes it easier. And I’ve always met the amount that I need to pay within 60 days. I usually finish within a month.”

Apple Pay

For speed and ease of use, Diane’s found that her customers really appreciate Apple Pay — and she does as well.

“It’s absolutely about the speed, and not having to fill in all of your personal information every single time you want to make a purchase.”

Apple Pay options displayed on one of Lady Dye Yarn's products

It’s easy for her to tell that customers like it.

“Sometimes, there are limited-edition items that sell out quickly, often within five minutes. With Apple Pay, it’s a single tap and that’s all…purchase complete. Thanks to Apple Pay, when we put out a new box…boom, not even a minute later, completed orders start rolling in.”

WooCommerce

At Lady Dye Yarns, WooCommerce is the heartbeat of the business.

In fact, it’s become such an integral part that every time Diane considers using new software, her first question is always, Does it integrate with WooCommerce?

“I love it. I mean, I really do. I love the analytics of things because as someone who owns my own small business, I’m always looking at numbers now. I can do this easily and understand what I’m reading with WooCommerce.”

Marketing

Instagram

In 2019, just a couple of days after the start of the year, a flood of people began to follow her on Instagram.

“I was like, ‘This is weird. What’s going on?’” It was the tipping point for social justice and people were taking notice of her work.

“Everyone was like, ‘You need to follow Diane from Lady Dye Yarns. She was one of the first people to talk about the lack of diversity.’”

Lady Dye Yarn's Instagram feed

She now has more than 20,000 followers — a substantial number — particularly within the crafting community.

In 2020, Lady Dye Yarns became a leader in content collaborations and now does as many as 3-4 each month. Instagram has become a platform where Diane can speak about diversity while growing her business and supporting other BIPOC artists, creators, and companies.

Email

When Diane told Isaac, her contracted developer, that she needed a better solution for email, he suggested Klaviyo.

“He really loves WooCommerce and works with so many clients that use WooCommerce. That’s why I chose him — not many people within the crafting community know WordPress well enough to work with it. He was able to integrate everything with Klaviyo. And so when we send an email, we can see all of the orders that result.”

And now email has become a huge driver of sales for Lady Dye Yarns. “I don’t know about other industries,” Diane says, “maybe they hate getting emails and newsletters. But we see it as an alternative to a Facebook group. The discussion about diversity and inclusion comes with a level of toxicity on social media. But we can’t go back to knitting; we have to talk about these issues.”

Diane has found newsletters to be a successful way to start a discussion. And people are listening. “Klaviyo does a really good way of showing you how many people click on it. About 50% of people click on our newsletter.”

50 percent! The average open rate is 19.66%.

“Yeah, 50% click on it every single time. And we get a couple thousand in sales each time, too.”

Craftivism and the future

“We have a good product and we have a good theme,” says Diane. Still, Diane’s focus is all about the future.

“A lot of business owners become so focused on what’s happening in their business (as well as in the world) right now, that they forget to ask themselves, ‘What is the market going to look like 5, 10, even 20 years from now?

And how can we begin to effect change now, to make that future look the way we want it to look?

It’s a lot of planning, but it’s also a little luck, the willingness to take a few risks, and seizing the moment at the right time.”

By making it easier for customers to find and support BIPOC businesses, teaching and mentoring BIPOC entrepreneurs, and helping them shape their future with her knowledge and experience, Diane and her team at Lady Dye Yarns are not only offering a unique and high-quality product but are helping create a more diverse future for us all.

How to Set Up a New WooCommerce Store

There are a variety of things entrepreneurs need to consider when starting an online store. Some of them — like developing products and figuring out a marketing plan — can be time-consuming and challenging. But WooCommerce ensures that adding eCommerce functionality to your WordPress site isn’t.

We’re going to show you everything you need to get your store up and running with WooCommerce. If you’re starting from scratch, head to WooCommerce.com/start to get a site in place. Or, if you already have a self-hosted WordPress site or a WordPress.com site with a Business plan, go to the Plugins section of your dashboard to search for, add, and activate the WooCommerce plugin.

Let the WooCommerce Wizard be your guide

Every new WooCommerce installation starts with a setup wizard that walks you through all the basics of setting up your store. It asks questions about your location, industry, and products to provide recommendations specific to your needs. You’ll also have the opportunity to install extensions that provide additional functionality for things like marketing and unique types of products.

screen in the setup wizard asking about product types

You’ll then be prompted to install a theme, which controls the design and layout of your site. If you already have a WordPress site and your theme is compatible with WooCommerce, there’s no need to worry about this step. But if you’re starting from scratch, select a theme that best fits the needs of your store and brand. The free Storefront theme is a great option — it’s simple and intuitive, but can be easily customized. For more information, check out our guide to choosing a WooCommerce theme. And don’t worry; you can always switch themes later!

list of available themes for WooCommerce

Then, you can enable WooCommerce Shipping and WooCommerce Tax. While these free extensions are completely optional, they provide a ton of great benefits that simplify your life as a store owner. WooCommerce Shipping offers discounts on USPS and DHL shipping labels and the ability to print labels directly from your dashboard. WooCommerce Tax automatically calculates sales tax based on your location so you don’t have to worry about configuring rates.

screen in the Setup Wizard asking you to enable WooCommerce Shipping and Tax

Finally, you’ll see a store checklist that serves as a template for setting up the rest of your store. If you click an item on the list, you’ll be taken directly to the appropriate settings page. While you can skip these and come back to them later, let’s look at each one individually.

setup checklist in WooCommerce setup wizard

Add products

If you click on Add my products in the wizard, you’ll have the option to add products manually, import a spreadsheet, or migrate from another platform (like Shopify or BigCommerce).

If you choose to add a product manually, you’ll be taken to a blank product page. Or, you can go to Product → Add Product in the WooCommerce dashboard. There, you can add a product title, description, and photo along with information about pricing, shipping, and more.

If you’re already familiar with WordPress, you’ll notice that WooCommerce product pages are laid out a little differently than traditional pages and posts. For example, the main text box you see on a fresh new WordPress page is not where you’ll put your product description. That very important piece of writing goes in the “short product description” field further down the page.

single product created the backend of WordPress

Instead, the large text block at the top is a great place for details about the product, like its construction, components, or country of origin — whatever secondary information you want to include that isn’t imperative to selling the item.

simple product options in the backend of WooCommerce

You’ll also need to set a product type. There are a variety of product types, but the most common are simple and variable. Simple products, like a book, don’t have options or choices. Variable products have options that customers can choose from, like a shirt with different sizes and colors.

For further instructions on adding products, check out our documentation.

Note: There are other product types with slightly different settings, like digital downloads, memberships, subscriptions, and bookings. Our complete documentation walks you through everything you need to know to set those up.

Set up payments

If you choose to set up payments through the wizard, you’ll be able to select a payment gateway on the same screen. Otherwise, go to WooCommerce → Settings → Payments. You can enable cash payments, check payments, or direct bank transfers. Or, to charge customers online, set up a payment gateway.

A payment gateway securely accepts your customers’ credit card information, validates it, then transfers the money to your bank account. There are a variety of options to choose from — common gateways include PayPal and Stripe.

WooCommerce Payments dashboard

For a simple setup you can count on, install the free WooCommerce Payments extension. You can get started in a few clicks, keep customers on your site during checkout, accept Apple Pay, and manage everything from payments to refunds directly in the WooCommerce dashboard. Plus, you get extra benefits like instant deposits and payments in multiple currencies.

Read more about choosing the right payment gateway for your store.

Set up tax

To set up taxes for your store, click Set up tax in the wizard, or go to WooCommerce → Settings → Tax. You can choose to enter prices for products with or without tax, select the address you’d like to base tax calculations on, and set your tax rates, among other things.

tax options in WooCommerce settings

You’ll need to do some research into tax rates based on where you’re located and the places you sell to and consider consulting a professional. Or, simply install WooCommerce Tax to take care of everything for you.

Read our full documentation on setting up taxes.

Personalize your store

If you click Personalize my store, you can quickly set up a homepage, upload a logo, and set up a store notice, which will display across all pages on your site. Don’t worry; you can always change these later.

Set up shipping

From the setup wizard, you can confirm your store location and set shipping costs for your country and the rest of the world. This takes care of basic shipping settings, but for more specific setups, navigate to WooCommerce → Settings → Shipping. There, you can set up shipping zones (areas where products are delivered) and options like free shipping.

shipping cost options in the setup wizard

For a quick, simple setup, easy label printing, and discounts on shipping rates, give WooCommerce Shipping a try. And if you need more complicated rules — like pricing based on weight or cart totals — install WooCommerce Table Rate Shipping.

Read our full shipping documentation for more information.

Beyond the wizard: design and functionality

Once you’ve wrapped up the steps in the setup wizard, your store essentials are ready to go. But, depending on your business and products, you may want to take care of a couple of other things.

Create additional pages

If you have an existing WordPress site, you probably have all of the important pages already created (e.g. a homepage, about page, contact page, etc.). But if your site is brand new, you’ll want to get those set up.

The theme you chose took care of a lot of the design work for you, which you can customize to fit your brand and store (see your theme documentation for details). You can also add visually-appealing content to any page with the drag-and-drop WordPress editor.

Add extensions

Extensions are similar to WordPress plugins, but are add-ons specifically for WooCommerce. Not every store will need extensions — WooCommerce provides all the basics out of the box — but you may want some for additional functionality.

We already discussed a few extensions for different product types (like memberships or subscriptions), shipping, payments, and taxes. But there are also great options for marketing, store management, and user experience. You can view all extensions in the WooCommerce Marketplace.

But, it is important not to get too carried away. You see, installing too many can slow down your site and clutter your dashboard. Instead, focus on ones that boost the user experience overall.

Not sure where to start? Take a look at WooCommerce Essentials — a handpicked collection of extensions designed to help new store owners launch their business. They’re grouped based on their purpose (growth, security, customization, etc.) and are fully vetted and trusted by the WooCommerce team.

Secure your store

Once you’ve set up your store, you don’t want to risk losing it! It just takes a few easy steps to secure everything, from content and order information to customer data.

For an easy, fast setup, consider purchasing Jetpack Security, which includes everything you need to secure your WooCommerce store from backups and malware scans to spam prevention. Or, take advantage of Jetpack’s free security tools, like brute force attack prevention and downtime monitoring.

Join the WooCommerce Community

A good community is invaluable and, though we’re (admittedly) biased, we think the WooCommerce Community is the best. It’s a great opportunity for you to learn from others’ experiences, share your own, and connect with stores that are encountering the same things as you. Plus, there are lots of great people who really want to help you succeed.

Ready to get started? Begin your WooCommerce journey today.

The Ultimate Guide to Local SEO

Search engine optimization (SEO) is an incredibly valuable marketing method. Though it’s a long-term strategy, when properly done, it can generate site traffic that’s actively searching for what you have to offer — all without any paid advertising!

If you have a physical location or sell only to a specific area, local SEO is a strategy to help you reach members of your most relevant, nearby audience. But what is local SEO and how can you optimize your eCommerce store?

What is local SEO and why is it important?

When you’re at home and search a phrase like “mechanic” on Google, you’ll get a list of nearby auto shops. But let’s say you’re traveling and get a flat tire. If you search the exact same phrase a hundred miles away from home, you’ll get an entirely different list based on your location. That’s local SEO at work.

When you optimize your site for local SEO, you’re optimizing for a very specific area. And while this certainly makes sense for a retail store that wants to attract foot traffic, it also makes sense for a meal prep company that delivers within a 20-miles radius or an online store that sells merchandise for people who live in Dallas.

A good local SEO strategy helps you hyper-focus on your specific target audience rather than people all around the country or the world. And this ultimately means that more qualified customers will discover your site and make a purchase.

Let’s take a look at how you can optimize your site for local SEO, along with helpful steps you can take off-site.

Start with SEO basics

When someone searches for something online, Google’s goal is to provide them with the most accurate results and the best experience possible. So to rank well, you need to prove two things to search engines:

  1. Your site has meaningful, valuable content around certain topics or keywords.
  2. Your site provides an excellent experience for its visitors.

There are a number of basic SEO optimization practices that help you do this, including:

  • Consistent, high-quality content like blog posts.
  • A responsive website design that allows readers to access your content across mobile devices.
  • An easy-to-navigate store.
  • A site that loads quickly.
  • High-quality links to your store from trusted sources.
  • A secure website that also has an SSL certificate.

Make sure you have these nailed down before focusing on local SEO. For more information, check out Jetpack’s post about SEO for beginners and our advanced guide to product SEO.

Optimize for your area

Once you have the basics in place, it’s time to move on to local SEO. There are a variety of steps you can take to focus on your immediate area, but below you’ll find some of the most common and effective.

1. Claim your Google My Business listing

Google My Business is a free tool that helps local businesses manage their company’s listing on Google. That listing is what shows up on Google Search and Google Maps, with your business name, location, hours, reviews, website, and additional information.

Create an account and enter as much information as possible about your store. Add photos, respond to reviews, and always make sure that everything’s accurate on your listing, including hours.

This guide from Search Engine Journal provides everything you need for claiming and verifying your listing, along with tips for managing it.

2. Claim your listing in other major directories

It used to be beneficial to list your business in every single directory you could find. But Google’s algorithm has changed to focus more on other ranking factors. However, that’s not to say that you shouldn’t add your company to a few, meaningful directories that apply to your industry — these still carry some weight and are often a symbol of trust to potential customers.

Here are just a few of the business directories you might consider. Choose the ones you focus on based on your audience, products, and industry:

  • Bing Places
  • Yelp
  • TripAdvisor
  • Apple Maps
  • HomeAdvisor
  • WeddingWire
  • Angie’s List

It’s important that the information you set for your business is accurate across every single listing. This includes your name, hours, location, website, etc. And, if anything changes, make sure to update it everywhere.

Sound overwhelming? You can also hire services like Moz Local to handle it all for you.

3. Adjust your target keywords

Keywords are the phrases that you want your business to show up for when searched by potential customers in your area. Right now, you might be targeting more generic terms like “craft beer,” “vintage books,” or “family-friendly resort.” But to focus those keywords on your local area, you’d use terms like “craft brewery in Louisville,” “vintage books for sale in St. Paul,” or “best family-friendly resort in Smith County.”

How do you know the right keywords for your business? You want to find a balance between phrases that people are actually searching and ones that you have a chance of ranking for. Here are a few ways you can do this:

  • Use Google Keyword Planner. With this free tool, you can type in a starting phrase, find related keywords, and see information like search volume.
  • Type phrases into Google. Try just typing a phrase into Google and letting autocomplete do its job. For example, if you type in “Davidson coffee,” it will automatically suggest similar terms like “Davidson coffee shop,” “downtown Davidson coffee,” and “vegan coffee shop in Davidson.”
  • Use tools like SEMRush and Moz Keyword Explorer. These tools provide extensive information about exactly what your target audience is searching online.

Once you’ve determined the right keywords, incorporate them naturally onto your website. Instead of stuffing them in everywhere you possibly can, use them in phrases that make sense, the way you would if talking to a friend or colleague.

While you probably don’t want to change your entire SEO strategy to accommodate these new keywords, adding them to page titles, meta descriptions, and content written specifically for your area is a great way to incorporate them.

Want more tips? Check out this resource from Search Engine Journal.

entrepreneur typing and creating content on a computer

4. Write content specific to your area

You may already regularly create high-quality content like blog posts, videos, eBooks, etc. If so, you’re off to a great start! Content is one of the most effective ways to show Google (and potential customers) that you’re an expert on certain topics.

As you focus on local SEO, however, you also want to shift the topics you write about. What questions do customers have that are specific to your area? For example, if you sell gardening products, you could write about plants that are specific to your region, along with harvest times. If you sell custom dog collars, you might share a guide with the best dog parks in your city.

Remember those local keywords we talked about earlier? Now is the time to incorporate them, naturally, into your blog posts.

If one of your target keywords is “cooking classes in San Francisco,” you might write a blog post with the best things to do in the city. Then, make one of the headlines something like, “Take a Cooking Class in San Francisco,” and write about your offerings.

customer leaving a review on a mobile phone

5. Focus on reviews

Search engines love reviews because they’re an excellent indication of your business and product quality. And, of course, they’re beneficial even beyond local SEO because potential customers look at reviews when deciding on a place to shop or eat.

But how should you go about getting reviews? First of all, never pay for reviews. Not only will search engines easily figure out your strategy, you’ll lose customer trust.

The best way to earn reviews online is to simply ask for them. Post a sign in your storefront, include an insert in your product packaging, or add a review request to your transactional emails.

Focus first on getting reviews on Google, then spread out to the other local directories you signed up for, like Yelp or TripAdvisor. Respond to as many reviews as possible, be professional and kind to any unhappy customers, and adjust your business practices as needed.

6. Generate local links

When a trusted source links to your website, it’s essentially vetting your business to Google. Quality backlinks are a good strategy for SEO in general, and this remains true for local SEO. The difference is that instead of looking for link opportunities from generic websites, you’re looking for websites that are authorities in your specific area. You can generate links to your website by:

  • Writing a guest post for a local blogger.
  • Participating in local events.
  • Being featured in city or county directories.
  • Sponsoring a local charity.
  • Earning a feature in a local newspaper or magazine story.

A simple Google search will help you find authoritative websites in your area. If you decide to reach out to influencers or other businesses, do so in a way that’s beneficial to them. For example, offer to write a guide to your city or a blog post that speaks to their target audience rather than just expecting them to do you a favor.

7. Add structured data to your site

Structured data is a type of markup used by search engines to understand information. It’s a great way for you to explicitly provide details about your website to Google, increasing the chance that you’re featured in special search results like carousels and answer boxes.

For example, if you’re a local restaurant that posts online recipes, you could use structured data to tell Google information like cook time, calorie count, and reader reviews. When someone finds that recipe on a search engine, the result will include all of that information and look much “richer” than normal — this is called a rich snippet. Not only does this help search engines know how to categorize your content, it also makes your recipe stand out more to searchers, increasing the likelihood that they’ll click.

There are a lot of types of structured data, including:

  • Books, with information like author, quotes, and purchase links.
  • Events, with information like date, time, and location.
  • Local business, with information like hours, ratings, directions, and links.
  • Products, with information like price, availability, and reviews.
  • Q&A, with questions followed by their answers.

Focus on the ones that specifically apply to your business.

While adding structured data to your site can be complicated and may require a developer, you can also use a plugin to make this process much easier. Options include Yoast SEO (try their local SEO add-on for an extra boost), Schema Pro, and All in One Schema Rich Snippets.

Read this guide from Yoast for more information.

coffee shop owner serving coffee to a customer

How to handle multiple locations

But what if you have multiple locations and just one website? Here are a few tips for handling local SEO:

  • Build separate landing pages. Instead of including information for every store in one place, be specific! Create a page for each location with details like contact info, reviews, hours, news, images, and blog posts that are specific to that store. Apply local business structured data to each page.
  • Create separate Google My Business listings. Claim your listing for each location and make sure the data is up-to-date. The same thing goes for other directories.
  • Write specific blog posts. Create content around each of your locations. These posts may include customer stories, employee features, hyper-local news, or topics that specifically apply to that area.
  • Focus on building links to each location page. When generating backlinks, link to specific location landing pages, when appropriate. This is especially relevant for news features or events around a specific store.
  • Encourage reviews for each location. Follow the steps above for gaining reviews, but make sure that you’re doing so for each individual location that you have.

Get started with local SEO for long-term success

It’s important to remember that local SEO is a long-term marketing strategy. It will take time for your website to climb the rankings, but steady, consistent work will pay off. It’s more than worth it for the increase in free, qualified traffic to your online store.

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