6 marketing strategies to build your online presence

Digital marketing has changed the way publicity and advertising work – you can reach millions of users globally with a random click or tap into thousands of opinions with a brimming fan base.

Inbound
marketing strategies help claim your brand’s online presence by helping you
focus on your target audience much more proactively and rapidly than outbound.

Below you’ll find 6 marketing strategies that can help you boost your brand’s online presence.

1. Content marketing – blogs

The first step to
establish your brand’s
online presence
is to create a responsive and visually-appealing
website – a platform where you can help your customers solve their problems.

Next, develop a marketing strategy that focuses on content. Not only does content build trust among your audience, it also fuels your other marketing activities such as email, social, and PPC. Like driving a car without wheels, marketing your brand without content will get you nowhere.   

Blog and guest-posting

Create a blog on
your website to attract your target audience towards your brand niche. For
instance, take a look at how Ahrefs, a
leading software developer
, markets its industry blog towards its
consumers.

The majority of
its blogs focus on the subtle promotion of its suite to attract customers to buy.
Its product blog, however, inspires customer interaction and communication. Covering
an array of industry news and trends, the brand uses content to pique the
interests of its readers.

These statistics highlight the regularity of blog publications. Publishing regular, high quality content will help your site become an authoritative, trustworthy source of information in your niche and search engines such as Google. Plus, the more thought-leading content you produce, the more customer trust you’ll earn.  

You can also write content for industry-related websites as guest posts and link back to your website by embedding URLs to your landing pages. This will help your target audience find you and learn about your products and services.

2. Content marketing – podcasts and videos

According to
Google, content
marketing
is compelling enough to turn visitors into leads and then into
customers. That’s because of all the different content formats which help to
simulate interest over time and across a large audience-base.

Try adhering to content types such as podcasts and webinars, or videos like tutorials and how-to guides. Moreover, collaborating with other B2B marketers to appear on their podcasts, webinars, and videos can boost your online presence.

3. Email marketing

Consumers have been activity using email to communicate since its very inception. Email marketing, which supports your content marketing endeavors, is the most popular channel for bolstering your online presence. 93% of business-to-business marketers say so.

If done right, email marketing can serve as one of the most lucrative platforms for boosting your online presence. According to the Data Marketing Association, every $1 you spend on your campaign generates on average a return of $41.

  • Nurture your visitors into leads by capturing their email address to send them your newsletter and other product-related emails. For instance, entice them through a ‘free download’ of an exclusive ebook (which you can create with Designrr) or special discount coupon. Maybe tempt them with a free video tutorial that’s only available to premium or paid users.
  • Segment your mailing list by targeting your loyal customers, such as repeat purchasers. Send product- or service-related news, trends, and blog links to consumers who’ve shown an active interest.
  • Try A/B testing: Send your subscribers targeted emails to assess which ones bring the most conversions and why. Split testing will also help you to analyze whether you should go ahead with your email marketing campaign or not.

4. Get on the search engine

With 53% of internet traffic and 92% of the global market share dominated by Google alone, search engines play a major role in promoting online visibility of a brand. Approximately 93% of ecommerce consumers begin their journey searching for competitive results online.

Promoting your brand on a search engine won’t only help Google accredit your reputation, but also motivate consumers to learn more about your business’s legacy.

  • Optimize on-page SEO by writing content for your website that has the capability to rank higher. For instance, search industry-related keywords on Ahrefs or any other paid or unpaid keyword research tool to discover words that people are searching for.
  • Consider using long-tail search keywords throughout your content, including your blog, web copy, meta title and description, and tags, since they are easier to rank due to less search volume and competitiveness.
  • Optimize off-page SEO content by referring to link-building strategies through earned media. Either collaborate with B2B partners and embed your website’s URL within the shared content, or link your landing pages by adding CTAs within your content on social media.

From 2009 to 2017, the aforementioned statistics for search engine results have skyrocketed, making it one of the most profound channels for boosting brand visibility and consumer engagement.

5. Social media marketing

Today, millennials and Gen-Z users are hoarding time on social media for reasons other than networking, such as passing their time scrolling through the internet. Social media marketing helps garner the attention of your target customers, and there are two ways which you can build your brand’s publicity:

  • Engage on the social channels that matter to your target audience; then you’ll be able to gauge their interests better
  • Use social media listening tools to assess the number of clicks and views your content generates

Pay attention to the stats above. Consider installing social listening tools to find out which platforms hold the majority of your target audience. You’ll also learn about negative and positive feedback, allowing you to improve your content proactively for better sales and conversion rates.

6. Paid advertising

Besides promoting organically via link-building strategies and keyword-ranking techniques, consider paid advertising. These ads, which are within third party ad spaces, will help to rank your website better.

  • Google AdWords uses Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising techniques to display ads on the right- or left-most bar of search engine results pages. Google’s ads can also be displayed on your preferred websites as well. With every click on the ad, you not only earn a visitor to your website but also revenue in return.
  • Learn where your target audience is. You can also choose Facebook or YouTube to display your brand’s ads for better outreach.

The above chart is a simple guide that helps you understand the cost per click on ad placement for display on Facebook’s news feed and the right-most column on the page.

The final verdict

Many brick-and-mortar store entrepreneurs still staunchly follow the old outbound marketing route, foregoing the lucrative opportunity of building a worthwhile online presence of their brand.

In order to build and boost your brand’s online presence, it’s high time you jumped on the digital bandwagon and catered to the whims of the internet. This will scale your brand’s recognition far and wide.   

For more digital inspiration, download this cheatsheet on how to target your customers.

The post 6 marketing strategies to build your online presence appeared first on dotdigital blog.

Reblogged 5 months ago from blog.dotdigital.com

How to increase online engagement

During a recent webinar hosted by Gavin Laugenie, Head of Strategy and Insight at dotdigital, and Chris White, Senior Partner Manager at Styla, a poll revealed that high bounce rates on websites and landing pages are one of the biggest challenges marketers are facing.

This can be for numerous reasons, from a lack of planning or consideration of website design, to a lack of relevant and inspiring content conveying your brands’ message.  It’s preventing visitors from converting and damaging your bottom line.

To stop this from happening, it’s important that marketers create shopping experiences which are relevant, exciting, and make it as easy as possible for customers to complete their purchase.

Tactic #1 – Create stunning content

Web page design

Three seconds is all a consumer needs to absorb the visuals on your web or landing page and decide whether to stay or not.

In the Amazon-age we live in, online retailers need to work harder to differentiate themselves. The best way to do this is by creating unique digital experiences and curating engaging product stories that Amazon can’t. Using a consistent mix of eye-catching visuals helps to guide visitors down the page and clearly tell your brand’s story.

To keep your returning visitors engaged, these pages need to be updated regularly. Unfortunately, the process, from planning through to development and implementation, can often be a slow one. An automated design process that takes minutes to update will help you maintain a high level of engagement and encourage new guests to browse. This is where Styla is here to help.

Tactic #2 – Shoppable content  

Shoppable content

Connect content and commerce by delivering branded content
with relevant product information.

Help your customers mentally commit to their purchase by populating your content with important product details. Making your page directly shoppable significantly shortens the path to purchase and improves your conversion rate by 3.5x.

After successfully driving shoppers to engage with your ad, social, or email campaign, you don’t want to leave them with choice paralysis. Most failures to convert are caused when they can’t find the product or service information that they want. Including shoppable content prevents this from happening.

Including user-generated content will increase your conversions even further. But, as your designs need to be updated regularly, you also need to keep your content fresh to ensure new and returning customers alike are staying engaged.

Tactic #3 – Segmentation

Segmentation

After taking the time to design and regularly update your content you need to ensure you’re successfully driving visitors to your page.

Hitting the Mark 2018 found that 66% of brands still aren’t segmenting their audiences. By segmenting your audience, you can get a clearer picture of their likes and interests, which will improve the relevancy of your content. The more relevant your content, the more inspired customers will be to act.

When building your segments, it’s essential you fuse your
implicit and explicit data. This includes data gathered directly from the user,
such as through a preference center, and behavioral data like online browsing
habits. Using advanced segments really brings your communications to life.

By targeting your segments, you’ll be delivering the right message to the right person, in the right context.

Tactic #4 – Personalization

Personalization

Further increase the effectiveness of your marketing efforts by personalizing your customer engagements.

The conversion rate for personalized emails are 6x higher
than generic emails. After all, who doesn’t like content specifically designed
and chosen to meet your unique needs?

Hyper-relevant content, such as abandon cart emails are proven to drive results. 50% of users who engage with abandon cart content go on to complete their purchase. But, the impact of these communications would be significantly reduced if customers were directed to generic product grids, once again emphasizing the importance of creating visually appealing and shoppable landing pages.

Personalization drives a response from audiences, but the relevancy
of your landing pages is was makes them act.

Put it into action

Using rich content across all stages of the customers’
journey helps you build stronger relationships with them. This, in turn, helps
you pave the way to purchase and customer retention.

To learn more how to put these tactics into action, check out our webinar: 4 tactics for increasing online engagement.

The post How to increase online engagement appeared first on dotdigital blog.

Reblogged 8 months ago from blog.dotdigital.com

Turning your online browsers into buyers

Think about it. A customer signs up to your online fashion site:

They’re into international designers?
They want to receive invites to exclusive events?
Stated they’ll only purchase items that are organic?

The reality? They’ve only ever bought designer clothes that were on sale. They haven’t visited the organic clothes page on your website and are too busy to attend any events.

So how do you deal with a customer who won’t say what they want, or do what they say?

Make sure you listen to them over time. Use the signals you receive to have a two-way conversation with your customers. As a new friend slowly reveals more and more about themselves, so will your customers.

They’ll click through to your site from your emails, visit various pages or the same pages multiple times. They may order products and services from you. Don’t ignore any of this. This is implicit data. Use these signals to create timely and relevant conversations with your customers. At scale.

How?

Collect and understand tracking data

Track your customers’ behavior through what they’re clicking on, to what they’re browsing on your site. You can do all this through dotmailer’s web behavior tracking. This is where your customers’ browsing activity is tracked, stored and made available for you. This data can be used to segment contacts, and send them focused, relevant and timely content and more.

Creating segments helps you better understand your database. For example, maybe there’s a group out there who always buy full price products? These are valuable customers and need to be targeted accordingly – not sent more irrelevant emails. Maybe there’s a group out there who visited your website more than once in the past six months but have never bought anything? An abandoned browse strategy could help turn this group from browsers to buyers.

Opening packages

Decide on an approach

There are a couple of different approaches you can take, depending on the time and effort you want to put in. My advice? Short-term pain for long-term gain.

Put in the time to create your intelligent automated programs. These ‘set-and-forget’ programs ensure your communications are relevant and timely, without you having to hit send every time. You can even include SMS, Facebook and push notifications in your program to catch subscribers on the channel right for them.

Have they recently browsed the Australian designer’s page but not made a purchase? Send them an email featuring best-sellers from the brand! You can have any variation depending on the categories and content on your site. The possibilities – and potential for revenue – are endless! Programs can also be used to capture preference data on your customers. If they have browsed Australian designers, mark these customers as preferring Australian designers.

You can even build dynamic content into your automation programs. Why not try tailoring your hero image and content based on previous browsing data? If you know your subscribers have been looking at shoes a lot recently, use shoes as the hero image and have an accessories image for everyone else.

Online shopping

Analyze and optimize

Analyzing results is easy thanks to our campaign reporting features and tools like Google Analytics. (Did I mention dotmailer makes it easy to add tracking tools like Google Analytics to your campaigns?) As your program runs, you can analyze the impact it’s having on your engagement and revenue, immediately, and over time.

To maximize the learning from your campaign, follow the simple steps:

  1. Send subscribers emails without any personalization and record the revenue for that month.
  2. The following month, introduce personalized automated programs featuring email and SMS. Compare the revenue for that month to the previous month. Has there been any uplift? Has it remained the same?
  3. Taking your learnings and consider any possible changes to your program. Maybe you could change the number of days between emails or introduce an offer or incentive.  You may have only focused on a few products or categories in your automated programs. Try focusing on other products or services across your range and see if these affect your revenue. These tests will help you see what impact your campaign is having.

I hope you’ve found this helpful for setting up your new automation program. Following these tips and tricks will help you turn your online browsers into committed buyers and, in turn, increase your revenue.

To learn more about dotmailer’s web insight tool, and further strategies for turning browsers into buyers, please contact your Customer Success Manager.

The post Turning your online browsers into buyers appeared first on The Marketing Automation Blog.

Reblogged 1 year ago from blog.dotmailer.com

Essential product photography basics for online retail stores

The quality of these images defines your customer interactions and dictates the perceived value of both your products and your brand’s image.

The importance of product photography

Your images can make or break your brand and are essential for the success of your store. Their importance lies in building relationships with your customers and turning them into loyal promoters for your brand. When your images are polished and professional, your site visitors are quicker to start trusting your brand and engage with your product page.

A full 67% of eCommerce consumers say that product image quality is very important when selecting and purchasing online.

They are also a key element to your visual marketing strategy that boosts your emails engagement and click-through rate. In your marketing emails and other content, images serve as ambassadors of your brand and nurture visitors closer to conversion.

Product photos enhance all buyer interactions and do a better job at that if they are of high quality. Visuals with colors, especially, boost the reader’s willingness to read by 80%. Your images help you build trust in your social posts, promotional emails, and product pages so keeping them polished and uniform is vital.

Let’s take a look at what kind of images to use and how to make them stand out from your rivals.

 

What types of images to use across your marketing channels

The two main types of images that most brands use across their digital channels are

  1. clean-cut product photos and
  2. in-context or lifestyle photos.

On your product page and on channels closer to closing a purchase (like the checkout page), you should lead with clean-cut, uniform-looking images of your products on a white or light background.

On your product page, the feature image should show your product from the front at an eye-level angle. The rest of the images on the product page, on average a dozen, should showcase the product from all relevant perspectives. You can also include one or two in-context images to boost emotional engagement. Here you are aiming to provide solid visual proof that your product can meet your customer’s needs so they get closer to purchasing.

Your emails, social media, and blog posts are usually further up the marketing funnel. Here, static product images tend to wither. Instead, grab attention with more in-context and lifestyle shots that raise awareness and keep customers engaged. You can also mix in product-only images where appropriate as long as you have the more engaging photos as well.

In your emails and on other content channels, you can use images and videos of your product being used or in its intended environment to engage the user. Use your images to answer questions, explain features, and educate your customers so they are more likely to follow through and land on your product page.

How to take great photos

Organizing a successful photo shoot can be challenging the first time around, but you can quickly streamline it if you follow these simple steps. The three most important elements of a photoshoot are having the right equipment, choosing your background (white or light colored), and using the right lighting.

Let’s take a look at what you’ll need.

Camera
Almost any DSLR will do as long as you have a good lighting setup and background. And with the advance of smartphones, you can even use your iPhone or Samsung device to get professional-quality results.

Tripod
If you’re taking photos of multiple products on a regular basis, it is best to have your camera fixed on a tripod to ensure consistency and avoid blurry images.

Background
The background is one of the key elements when you are shooting product images for your product page. It is vital to shoot on a white or light background that you can later remove in post-processing for a polished and professional look. With in-context images, however, you do have more freedom, and the background becomes one of your creative elements.

Lighting
If there is one key defining factor in photography, that is lighting. If you get your lighting right, all the other steps will be easier. Use natural light, if possible, because it is easier to manipulate. Studio lights need a little more getting used to, but with two or three softboxes you can get good results. If you get your lighting right, you will save a lot of time during post-processing.

 

How to retouch your images to drive engagement

Retouching is essential to create a uniform look across your store and create professional, polished images that engage visitors. Post-processing can include background removal, color correction, mannequin removal, and shadow addition.

Thankfully, there is a world of software solutions for editing images, but if you are working in bulk and time is an issue, you can use an editing service like Pixc. With Pixc, you can create a template and get all your images edited to your specification and returned to you within 24 hours. You can give it a test drive with a free trial here.

Create an email template that converts

Your images are the windows of your email campaigns. Their visual appeal engages your customers more than anything else in your newsletters. In fact, eye-tracking studies have confirmed time and time again that viewers are first engaged by these visual elements. And their type and quality are the deciding factors in making those visitors further engaged with the content.

Emails are one of your most important sales tools. They have the task of both delighting your customers and make them come back to actually read more or complete a purchase. Viewers start at the images and, when convinced, use the other elements of your email template to fortify their decision.

Know your audience, and include visuals in your emails that resonate with them. Segment your buyers, and send emails with different images based on previous purchases or other store data.

Source: Optimizely

But before you send an email out to your entire list, A/B test your images with a smaller segment to see what works best. Experiment with image types as well as size and placement within the email to find the formula that leads to the highest click-through rate for you.

Conclusion

We are wired to process images faster than anything else, and that fact holds strong when making buying decisions. In an ever more crowded ecommerce space, where online retailers compete to get the attention of consumers with decreasing attention spans, the quality of your images is becoming more and more important.

Empower your email campaigns, social posts, and content with quality images to boost your conversion rate and, ultimately, your customers’ lifetime value.

This guest post was written by Rachel Jacobs of Pixc, one of dotmailer’s partners. 

The post Essential product photography basics for online retail stores appeared first on The Marketing Automation Blog.

Reblogged 2 years ago from blog.dotmailer.com

Reflecting on Sydney’s Online Retailer conference

Online Retailer Sydney took place on the 26th and 27th July at the International Convention Centre. The event is Australia’s most established event for technology-led retailers, featuring inspirational talks and panel discussions, along with exhibits from cutting-edge tech providers and integrators.

We were delighted to not only exhibit at the conference, but to have two speaking opportunities and a live poll with one of our partners. Rohan Lock, our Regional Director in APAC, took to the stage to talk about the value of email marketing.

Rohan delivering his talk in the Retail Technology Lab

Rohan’s presentation in the Retail Technology Lab highlighted the fact that email is proven to deliver return on investment of at least $20 for every $1 spent; yet, many retailers are failing to realise the opportunities of low-hanging fruit such as abandoned cart emails. In our 2017 Hitting the Mark report, just 40% of the 100-brand sample delivered a cart recovery email – so his wise words were to focus on getting the fundamentals in place before getting excited by new technologies like AI. Want to learn about the 10 email programs Rohan discussed in his presentation that have proven to increase e-commerce revenue? Check out our best practice guide here.

Murdo joined a discussion on Millennials

Our Head of Operations in APAC, Murdo Wallace, participated in a fascinating panel discussion called Reinvent Retail in the Age of the Millennials.

In essence, the session touched on the new age of consumers who crave authenticity and are sensitive to the multitude of marketing messages they’re exposed to from day to day. Those on the panel discussed the importance of personalisation and customisation in digital marketing communications, as well as the emergence of experiential retail for omnichannel brands.

Polling with our fellow Magento Premier Partner

It’s always good to see faces old and new at these kinds of these events – and that was especially true when it came to collaborating with the team from Temando. Together, we conducted a live poll to get attendees’ views on disruption in the local ecommerce industry. And here were some of the findings…

  • We asked delegates about the digital marketing tools that matter to them and email marketing was presented as a favourite, with 79.50% seeing it as an opportunity.
  • Surprisingly, only 60.25% see shipping and fulfilment as an opportunity. This is one of the many areas that Amazon excels at and local retailers should look to improve their shipping/fulfilment to compete against Amazon while the ecommerce giant is still getting ready to enter the region.
  • On an encouraging note, unlike the doom and gloom reported by the local media around the subject of Amazon, a majority of the respondents surveyed saw it as an opportunity and the sentiment is positive.

Following the poll, the Temando team shared with delegates the results from their latest – and very timely – report on the state of shipping in commerce. You can bag yourself a free copy here.

The APAC team looking rather glam

In my opinion, every good event ends with a stellar party and this year’s ORIAs gala dinner was a fantastic way to end the conference. The AfterPayty – sponsored by AfterPay – which followed the dinner, also did not disappoint!

The post Reflecting on Sydney’s Online Retailer conference appeared first on The Email Marketing Blog.

Reblogged 2 years ago from blog.dotmailer.com

Beauty brand Charlotte Tilbury applies a flawless approach to driving offline customers online

The global financial crash had a somewhat significant effect on the fate of these iconic and beloved brands but, in truth, the deep-rooted problem was that they’d simply failed to keep up with evolving consumer habits.

Around a decade on and it’s safe to say the high street isn’t dead. The demise of old-fashioned retailers has not only forced existing brands to reimagine the way they operate, but it’s paved the way for artisanal start-ups to bring something fresh to the arena.

Today, consumers are empowered with a multitude of ways to connect and shop with a brand. Companies with physical stores have realized that offline and online can work in harmony and are reaping the rewards of omnichannel retail. They’re developing marketing and sales strategies that are bridging the gap and offering customers a truly seamless experience; ‘click and collect’ services are a prime example of this.

Of course, there are many other ways in which omnichannel is revolutionizing the retail industry. Just check out this article that I published last year on Fred Perry’s mission to achieve a single customer view.

In this blog post I have the pleasure of announcing another omnichannel success story, again with email right at the heart. We know there are various ways to use online interactions across the customer journey to drive foot traffic to bricks-and-mortar stores – such as store locators – but Charlotte Tilbury has bucked the trend by doing the opposite: driving offline customers online.

To tease Charlotte Tilbury’s recent store opening in London’s Westfield White City, the brand showcased a quiz in the shop hoarding that passers-by could engage with. At the end of the quiz, each person was given a chosen ‘look’ – one of the brand’s 10 personas. Charlotte Tilbury’s team then offered customers the opportunity to have the details of their chosen look emailed to them.

This is one of the emails sent to people who’d engaged with the brand during its new store opening in London

Each of the 10 ‘looks’ has a dedicated web page, featuring everything from a customized music playlist to personalized beauty tips. The brand has peppered each guide with useful ‘how-to’ videos to complement corresponding beauty products, along with Pinterest buttons so users can ‘pin the look’ to their boards.

We loved this smart multi-faceted marketing approach. Not only is Charlotte Tilbury growing its database with engaged contacts, it’s collecting valuable insights on each customer so it can provide the in-store experience online and drive engagement across its social networks.

Nice work Team Charlotte Tilbury! You can find out more about the brand’s looks here.

The post Beauty brand Charlotte Tilbury applies a flawless approach to driving offline customers online appeared first on The Email Marketing Blog.

Reblogged 2 years ago from blog.dotmailer.com

6 sales tax truths every online seller needs to know

As a product seller, chances are high that one of your least favorite administrative hassles is dealing with sales tax. Collecting, reporting and filing sales tax is just one of those necessary evils you must master in order to get on with the fun and profitable parts of your business.

If you dread sales tax when your due date rolls around, or are just getting started, this guide will help you finally feel confident about sales tax!

Let’s dig in.

What is sales tax?

Sales tax is a small percentage tacked on to the sale price of a product or products. In the United States, forty-five states and Washington D.C. all have a sales tax. Sales tax is governed at the state level rather than the federal level, so each state gets to set it’s own sales tax rates, due dates, rules and laws.

Retailers (including online sellers) are required to collect sales tax when you make a taxable sale. Most tangible items that you sell will be taxable. In general, services are not taxable, though some states are attempting to change that.

Sales tax rates vary by state and local area. A few friendly states only have one statewide sales tax rate. But most states also allow local areas such as counties, cities and special taxing districts to collect sales tax as well. This makes sense when you realize that state and local governments use sales tax to pay for necessary budget items like schools, roads and public safety.

As a retailer, however, you need to make sure you’re collecting the correct amount of sales tax in each local area.

Example:

The Colorado state sales tax rate is 2.9%. But local areas are also allowed to tack on extra sales tax. If you were a merchant located in Centennial, Colorado, here is the combination of rates you should charge your customer:

Colorado State Rate 2.9%
Arapahoe County 0.25%
City of Centennial 2.5%
Regional Transportation District Tax 1%
Scientific and Cultural Facilities District 0.1%
Total 6.75%

 

Now that we know what sales tax is and why we’re required to charge it, let’s move on…

Who has to charge sales tax to which customers?

As a retailer, you are only required to collect sales tax from buyers in states where you have sales tax nexus. Sales tax nexus is just a fancy legalese way to say “significant connection” to a state. If you have nexus in a state, then that state considers you on the hook for charging sales tax to buyers in the state.

You’ll always have sales tax nexus in your home state, but you may find that certain business activities create nexus in other states, too. They include:

  • A location – an office, warehouse, store, or other physical place of business
  • Personnel – an employee, contractor, salesperson, installer or other person doing work for your business
  • Inventory – Most states consider storing inventory in the state to cause nexus even if you have no other place of business or personnel
  • Affiliates – Someone who advertises your products in exchange for a cut of the profits creates nexus in many states
  • A drop shipping relationship – If you have a 3rd party ship to your buyers, you may create nexus
  • Selling products at a tradeshow or other event – Some states consider you to have nexus even if you only sell there temporarily

To help you determine whether or not your business activities give you sales tax nexus, you can find out what every state’s laws have to say about nexus here.

If you do have nexus in a state, your next step is to…

Register for a Sales Tax Permit

Before you can legally begin collecting sales tax from buyers in a state, you are required to obtain a sales tax permit. You can do this with your state’s taxing authority, usually called the [State] Department of Revenue.  Here’s information on how to register for a sales tax permit in every state.

When you receive your sales tax permit, you will also receive instructions on when to file and at what frequency.

Most of the time, you will be required to file sales tax either monthly, quarterly or annually. The general rule of thumb is that the higher your sales volume in a state, the more often the state will want you to file a sales tax return and remit sales tax due.

Now that you have your sales tax permit in hand, your next step is to begin collecting sales tax from your customers.

How to collect sales tax as an online retailer

Most online platforms allow you to collect sales tax from your customers, though some platforms are more robust than others when it comes to allowing you to collect the correct amount of sales tax.

Origin vs. destination-based sales tax collection

Long story short – a handful of states are “origin-based” sales tax states. If your business activities are based in one of these states and you sell online, you’re in luck. When selling to buyers in your state, all you need to do is collect sales tax at your local rate. This means you only need to collect sales tax at a single tax rate (Example: 6.5%) if you are fortunate enough to live in an origin-based state.

On the other hand, most states are “destination-based” sales tax states, which can be a real nightmare when it comes to collecting sales tax. In destination-based states, sellers are required to collect sales tax at the rate of the buyer’s ship-to address. States can have hundreds or thousands of local taxing jurisdictions. Remember, each county and city may have a sales tax, plus any special taxing districts. This is where collecting the right amount of sales tax can get a whole lot more complicated.

To even further complicate matters, most of the time you are required to collect sales tax using destination-based rules in any state aside from your home state. You can read a much more detailed explanation of origin vs. destination based sales tax collection here.

Product taxability

When collecting sales tax, you should also keep your product’s taxability in mind. Most tangible products are taxable, but some states make exceptions for necessities such as grocery items or clothing. If you have sales tax nexus in more than one state, you may find that you charge sales on clothing to buyers in one state, but should not charge sales tax on clothing to buyers in another.

Shipping taxability

Also, if you charge your customers for shipping, you may also need to consider sales tax. Some states require sales tax on shipping charges, and some do not. Here’s a list of states that do and do not require sales tax on shipping charges.

If this all sounds overly complicated, don’t worry. Even if you have built your own online store, or use a shopping cart like Magento, a smart sales tax collection solution like TaxJar’s SmartCalcs sales tax API has you covered!

Once you’re collecting sales tax, your sales tax filing due date will roll around before you know it. When that happens…

Report how much sales tax you’ve collected

When it comes time to file your sales tax return, your first step is to figure out how much sales tax you collected from buyers in your state. This includes breaking down how much sales tax you collected from buyers in each city, county and other special taxing jurisdiction. As you can imagine, this gets more difficult the higher volume you are or if you sell through multiple online channels.

Sales tax automation can help here, too. Just link up all of you sales channels – from marketplaces like Amazon FBA or Etsy, to shopping carts like Magento or Shopify, or even a POS like Square – and technology will take care of the rest. We’ll product a return-ready report that you can use to fill out your sales tax filing forms in minutes, not hours.

If you truly never want to see a sales tax return again, you can also AutoFile your sales tax returns in most states. This allows you to spend time on the parts of your business that truly matter.

Once you’ve determined how much sales tax you’ve collected in your nexus states (either with a sales tax automation solution or tediously, with a complicated spreadsheet) your next and final step is to…

File your sales tax return

When you registered for your sales tax permit, your state gave you a sales tax filing frequency and due dates. You can check your sales tax filing due dates here.

When it’s time to file, you can file online at your state’s department of revenue, or AutoFile using a sales tax automation solution.

There are a couple of important things to consider when filing your sales tax returns:

  1. Always file a sales tax return by the due date – This is true even if you didn’t collect a penny in sales tax. States consider your sales tax filing a “check in” and if you fail to file you may end up with a monetary penalty or even having your sales tax permit revoked.
  2. Don’t discount discounts – About half the states with a sales tax realize that asking you, the retailer, to serve as tax collector places and extra burden on your business. If you file on time, they’ll allow you to keep a small percentage (usually 1-3%) of the sales tax you’ve collected. It isn’t much, but it’s free money!

And that’s it! You’ve filed your sales tax return and you’re all set.  Need more info? Check out our Sales Tax 101 for Online Sellers Guide, or join over 6,000 of your fellow sellers and sales tax experts over at the Sales Tax for eCommerce Sellers Facebook Group.

The post 6 sales tax truths every online seller needs to know appeared first on The Email Marketing Blog.

Reblogged 2 years ago from blog.dotmailer.com

Data-driven marketing strategies from the fastest-growing online retailers

 

Since our acquisition by Magento Commerce earlier this year, Magento Analytics (formerly RJMetrics) has been more focused than ever on our mission to inspire and empower data-driven merchants.

One of the most exciting benefits of the acquisition has been our unprecedented access to Magento Premier Partners like dotmailer. By combining our rich data analytics with their best practices in e-mail marketing, we can create a wealth of new offerings and insights for the merchants we serve.

Our most popular research report, The Ecommerce Growth Benchmark, demonstrates these benefits through the lens of e-mail marketing automation. Below, I recap the top three findings from our report and share their implications for your marketing strategy.

The best companies are winners on every dimension

Our benchmark report divided retailers into four quartiles based on their overall revenue growth rates in their first three years of operation. As it turns out, the top quartile merchants weren’t just the best performers on one key metric – they won on all of them!

Whether it was revenue, number of orders, repeat purchase rates, average order value, or customer lifetime value, the top quartile of companies outperformed their slower-growing counterparts across the board.

 

This has big implications when it comes to marketing strategy. As it turns out, there is no silver bullet or focus area that can make you a best-of-breed performer. The top merchants do it all, developing finely-tuned marketing strategies around customer acquisition, customer retention, and cart size.

Marketing automation systems like dotmailer are the key to managing these kinds of complex, multi-faceted strategies. The simultaneous use of platforms like Magento Analytics allow you to make sure your overall business is performing in a way that justifies your investments.

Fast loyalty drives fast growth

While the average retailer ends up driving about 50% of their monthly sales from repeat purchasers in the long run, our study found that the top-performing retailers are driving repeat sales faster and earlier in their lives than their industry peers.

Specifically, we found that top-performing merchants derive 22% of their revenue in their first month of operations from repeat purchasers. Think about that for a moment: since it’s the merchant’s first month of operation, there is no history of repeat purchasers to make these purchases; that 22% could only have come from buyers who came back to buy again in their first month as a customer!

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The lesson here is clear: marketing to your existing customers can never be an afterthought. These merchants were ready to drive repeat purchases from day one, and you should be too.

There has never been a better time to grow fast

A simple cohort analysis revealed that newer ecommerce companies are growing faster than their older counterparts in their first few years of business. This trend makes sense when you consider how rapidly the barriers to entry and scale are dropping for online retailers.

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This means that the opportunity for emerging merchants is large, but the competition is also tougher than ever. Faster growth means a more efficient market and more competitors; differentiation is the key to survival. Using the right tools for the job can transform your business into a distinctive, data-driven powerhouse of growth.

We look forward to collaborating with our friends at dotmailer to bring you more data-driven insights and advice in the months to come. Until then, we hope you’ll take Magento Analytics for a free test drive and stay tuned for more exciting news about our progress as part of the Magento team.

Reblogged 3 years ago from blog.dotmailer.com

The Magento Xcelerate program: A positive sum game

As an open source ecommerce platform, Magento is flexible and accessible for developers to work with and as a result, an active community of developers emerged on online forums and at offline meetups all over the world. Many of these were happily plugging away independently of Magento until the split from eBay in early 2015.

Free from the reins of eBay, Magento has decisively been reaching out to, promoting and rewarding the individuals, agencies and technology providers that make up its ecosystem. Last February they announced the Magento Masters Program, empowering the top platform advocates, frequent forum contributors and the innovative solution implementers. Then at April‘s Magento Imagine conference (the largest yet) the theme emerged as ‘We are Magento”, in celebration of the community.

The new Xcelerate Technology Partner Program focuses not on individuals but on business partnerships formed with the technology companies that offer tools for Magento merchants to implement.

 Sharing ideas, opportunities and successes:

This is the Xcelerate Program tagline, which acts as a sort of mission statement to get the technology partners involved moving with regards to continuously considering Magento in their own technology roadmap and jointly communicating successes and learnings from working on implementations with merchants.

“In turn, the program offers members the tools to get moving, through events, resources and contacts. Our goal is to enable you to be an integral part of the Magento ecosystem” Jon Carmody, Head of Technology Partners

The program in practice:

The new program is accompanied by the new Marketplace from which the extensions can be purchased and downloaded. The program splits the extensions into 3 partnership levels:

Registered Partners – these are technology extensions that the new Magento Marketplace team test for code quality. Extensions must now pass this initial level to be eligible for the Marketplace. With each merchant having on average 15 extensions for their site, this is a win for merchants when it comes to extension trustworthiness.

Select Partners – extensions can enter this second tier if the technology falls into one of the strategic categories identified by Magento and if they pass an in-depth technical review. These will be marked as being ‘Select’ in the Marketplace.

Premier Partners – this level is by invitation only, chosen as providing crucial technology to Magento merchants (such as payments, marketing, tax software). The Magento team’s Extension Quality Program looks at coding structure, performance, scalability, security and compatibility but influence in the Community is also a consideration. dotmailer is proud to be the first Premier Technology Partner in the marketing space for Magento.

All in all, the latest move from Magento in illuminating its ecosystem should be positive for all; the merchants who can now choose from a vetted list of extensions and know when to expect tight integration, the technology partners building extensions now with clearer merchant needs/extension gaps in mind and guidance from Magento, and of course the solution implementers recommending the best extension for the merchant now knowing it will be maintained.

Reblogged 3 years ago from blog.dotmailer.com