Archived Webinar: eCommerce Tips for Displaying Trust, Effective Store Design and Better SEO

A few weeks ago I announced that Madwire Media, one of our certified design partners, would be working with us to launch a new webinar series called “eCommerce Tips for Displaying Trust, Effective Store Design and Better SEO”. Well, the first webinar took place last Wednesday and was a massive success – over 600 people attended the webinar!

For those of you who couldn’t make the live broadcast, we’ve created an archived version of the webinar which you can watch whenever you like. Just click the image at the top of this post to watch it – and make sure you share the webinar on Facebook or Twitter because it contains a lot of FANTASTIC information to help you drive more traffic and get more sales from your BigCommerce store.

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New Webinar Series: eCommerce Tips for Displaying Trust, Effective Store Design and Better SEO

Overview: New advanced webinar series
Title: eCommerce Tips for Displaying Trust, Effective Store Design and Better SEO
When? 1pm CST on April 27th (See this in your time zone)
Register: Click here to register (limited spots available)

We already run regular webinars that teach the basics of e-commerce and BigCommerce, but today I’m happy to announce that we’re adding a second series to our already popular webinars.

Lead by certified BigCommerce design partner and e-commerce experts Madwire MediaeCommerce Tips for Displaying Trust, Effective Store Design and Better SEO is our latest webinar series and the first webinar kicks off at 1pm CST on April 27th (see this in your time zone).

I’ve been lucky enough to watch a test-run of this webinar and the content is excellent, so this is definitely one webinar you don’t want to miss. We were very selective in choosing the right partner to run our new webinars, and JB and his team at Madwire have done a phenomenal job of organizing the webinar based around their real world experience and customer case studies.

So, what will you learn? Here’s a taste:

  • Easy SEO strategies to dominate your competition on Google
  • How and why to display trust and credibility indicators
  • Effective store design and layout principles and examples
  • How to choose an effective domain name that increases sales
  • The effects a professional logo can have on your conversion rate
  • The importance of product reviews and how they factor into the sales process
  • How to design an effective home page layout for maximum conversions
  • Real world strategies to lower your visitor bounce rate
  • Tools to increase your search engine ranking and traffic

Click here to register (limited spots available)

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Why Colorado’s Biggest Web Design Company Chose BigCommerce

Madwire Media is one of our certified design partners and they do a great job creating beautifully customized BigCommerce stores, as you can see from their portfolio. They’ve been so successful in fact, that they’ve hired dozens of new designers over the last year or so just to keep up with demand for their awesome BigCommerce custom design services!

When JB from Madwire Media sent over the video above, the first thing that impressed us was the production quality. Then, of course, we were flattered by their kind words about how BigCommerce has really helped them grow their business.

After watching the video, we thought it was worthy of being shared on our blog and we thought you’d like to hear why the Madwire Media team love BigCommerce. Their perspective as the biggest web design company in Colorado speaks volumes.

We love our design partners and happily send out hundreds of design leads a month – most are BigCommerce clients who are looking for customized design help and also strategy and implemention for search engine optimization, search engine marketing and social media marketing.

If you’re a web designer and understand what it takes to create killer e-commerce designs, then make sure you take a serious look at our partner program.

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Inside BigCommerce: How We’re Rolling Version 7 Out To Existing Clients

Hi everyone! It was around two weeks ago that we began the rollout of BigCommerce 7 for new stores. In that time, we’ve received incredible support and feedback from you, which is a testament to the planning, development and overall hard work by our engineering team.

In this post I’ll outline our rollout plan for BigCommerce 7 to existing stores and I’ll explain why we’re staggering the rollout over the next few weeks.

Facts About BigCommerce

  1. We host well over 10,000 active BigCommerce stores
  2. Each store varies in the number of products – from 20 to over 100,000
  3. Each product can have multiple variations (size, colour, style, etc)
  4. Stores currently range in size, from 0 to over 30 million variation combinations

The Plan

We needed a plan that allowed us to manage risk every step of the way, but at the same time didn’t want to run a beta release. By staggering the release over time, we’re able to create a predictable upgrade process that upgrades hundreds of stores at a time. It also allows us to start by upgrading stores with fewer variations and then move on to those stores with thousands of variations.

Defining a Successful Rollout

Here’s the success criteria which helped shape the release strategy:

  1. Product variation data is accurately and automatically migrated to the new product options setup
  2. BigCommerce infrastructure is minimally impacted
  3. BigCommerce support is minimally impacted

What We’ve Done So Far

In addition to releasing BigCommerce 7 to new stores, we’ve been testing the upgrade process thoroughly over the last two months across many different use cases and across both simple and complicated product variation data sets. It’s important to remember that we regularly deal with huge data sets, and this is our speciality.

The development cycle for BigCommerce 7 took 18 weeks before it moved to quality assurance. What we plan to do is continue running the quality assurance process during the upgrade period, allowing us to better triage issues and proactively catch any edge cases that may arise. Our motto is to test and QA as effectively as possible, but we also understand that edge cases can and do arise, and so we have to be prepared.

The following diagram represents our approach and commitment to the rollout, ramping up the upgrades to stores with larger variation data sets as time progresses:

Here’s a summary of some of the datasets we used during the quality assurance process to make sure the upgrade process runs as smoothly as possible:

  • Test Store A – Zero product combinations
  • Test Store B – 10 million product combinations
  • Test Store C – 30 million product combinations
  • Test Store D – 400,000 product combinations on 1 product
  • Test Store E – 300,000 product combinations with SKUs
  • Test Store F – 100,000 product combinations for 700 products, all of which have SKUs

The Plan Over the Coming Weeks

  • Stage 1 Rollout – Opt-in upgrade for simple stores with no or very few product variations
  • Stage 2 Rollout – Opt-in upgrades for stores with hundreds/thousands of product variations
  • Continuous QA during the BigCommerce 7 rollout process (in addition to 8 weeks prior QA)
  • Preparing the next release of BigCommerce (more enhancements, bug fixes)

So there you have it – a technical explanation showing an insider’s view of how we prepare, stage and rollout a major software upgrade. Over the next few weeks you’ll see a link at the top of your control panel allowing you to schedule an upgrade to BigCommerce 7. Keep in mind that as well as zero impact to your store’s variations, we also aim for zero impact on your store’s template – including customized HTML and CSS.

P.S. For those who are interested, two of our senior software engineers will put together a technical blog post detailing the complexities behind the version 6 to version 7 upgrades in the coming week or two, so stay tuned for that!

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13 Stellar Tools to Test and Improve Your Website Traffic and Conversions

When it comes to your BigCommerce store, you want to know what your customers click and why – or at least where they go. Many times your analytics program can tell you this information, but often it takes an enormous amount of effort to get that data.

Your BigCommerce store may be converting very well, but then again, it could be better. How can you test what’s working and what’s not? You can do the well known A/B split testing and multivariate testing with Google Website Optimizer for free. Split testing in this way is built right into BigCommerce for all product pages, single VS multi-page checkout, etc.

However, just like configuring an analytics program to track every detail you want, it takes time and a little effort. If you’re short on time and have just a bit of cash, you can let one or more of the website usability applications below do the testing for you.

When it comes to purchasing products and services, customers will often display different decision-making behaviors that you won’t understand until you test. In addition, since social networks are providing a discussion platform for customers, you’ll want to know what aspects of your site and your social activity are influencing customers’ purchase decisions.

Tools to Improve Your Website Traffic and Conversion Rate

Here are 13 tools I’ve researched to help you test your website navigation, design, sales funnel or path, or use them to test your Facebook fan page as well. There are more tools out there, but for this review, if they didn’t list their pricing, I omitted them – but the major players are here.

  1. Feedback Army – $15 for 10 responses. Built on Amazon Mechanical Turk. One of the easiest and most affordable ways to do a quick test of your site.
  2. Five Second Test – has a free community option where you earn points by participating and can use those when you need testing. Otherwise, starts at $20/mo for 100 responses.
  3. Concept Feedback – also takes a community approach and starts at $99, but I didn’t find out what that entails.
  4. Uservoice – does feedback for your site and also helpdesk work. Pricing starts at $19/mo for feedback and some full service options.
  5. Usertesting – cuts right to the chase with their website tagline “the fastest, cheapest way to find out why users leave your website.” For $39, you get feedback, but the sweet part is it comes as a video (and written report, too) with the user talking you through what they are doing on your site.
  6. Userfly – has a free plan that lets you take the system for a real test drive. You see videos of real users navigating your site, every click, every mouse movement. Great customer testimonials and endorsements. Paid plans start at $10/mo.
  7. Feng-gui – has a unique payment model — pay per image. They assume you know what you want to test and so have a low-cost attention analysis approach. Offers an easy way to test an ad or a particular section of your site. Pricing starts at $25, which is $5 for 5 images.
  8. Crazyegg – is one of the so-called 800 pound gorillas in this space. They are best known for their eye-tracking heatmaps so you can see where your visitors are looking, then clicking. Very sophisticated and plans starting at $9/mo.
  9. Clicktale – offers a limited free plan, then jumps to $99/mo, but don’t rule them out yet. They offer a very sophisticated tool set and it might be a perfect fit for your store and email efforts. They have heatmaps and conversion funnels to help your sales.
  10. Gazehawk – is another eyetracking, heatmap technology. It keeps track of where your users look on your website which allows you to test landing pages, registration/checkout flows, homepages. Starts at $495 for a 10-participant study.
  11. ReQtest – is more for software developers testing their user interface and experience. It helps users to do web-based testing and bug reporting on the cloud. Free to $30 per user.
  12. Unbounce – lets you create, publish and optimize landing pages for testing purposes. Starts at $25 and has a free 30-day trial.
  13. Optimizely – allows users to improve their website through A/B testing. Starts at $19. Think of it as a more sophisticated Google Website Optimizer.

With affordable and easy tools like these to test almost every aspect of a customer’s experience with your website, there’s no reason not to give them a try. I’ve used several of these and will continue to leverage them. You need every advantage in keeping a customer’s attention in today’s hyper-connected busy, busy world. Start testing and start attracting more visitors, more sales, and greater profits!

A Few Follow Up Notes

I don’t include Amazon Mechanical Turk in this list above, but it’s a good tool if you want to crowdsource your feedback and manage it all yourself. It takes a bit more effort, though. Feedback Army is built on Turk and is very affordable, so I’d recommend it.

We completed a project for Sales Rescue Team last year and it’s a beautiful way to get feedback, in near real time, from a few people to hundreds. However, managing it manually is a real hassle so I would recommend you use Smartsheet – an online project management tool – to manage Turk because they have a sweet spreadsheet interface that’s easy to use.

One last thing about design and testing. In general, whatever you want to be clicked should be put it in the upper left corner. You can put it elsewhere, but so much research data, heatmaps, user studies, etc show people read in an F pattern and they scan the top two horizontal lines of the letter F first, then go down the left side. BUT, they start in the upper left corner. Hardly anyone puts their form or call to action right there. Depending on your design, another location might work, but if you’re using any traditional layouts, then I would test the upper left quadrant.

I’m not a fan of the so-called squeeze page, where you give users/readers no choice but the back button to click out, but simplifying your copy and design to make it really clear is the main goal of what I’m trying share here.

So in a nutshell, use the services above to figure out what visitors are doing and do more to keep them happy. Common sense isn’t always common, so do these simple things and you’ll increase traffic to your site because people will have a good experience and tell others. Simple, but true.

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