Online education portals like Udacity and Coursera are really changing the world of remote learning in significant ways. By making free and high quality education accessible to a global audience, these platforms are opening up undreamt of possibilities for communities around the world to improve, grow, and prosper in the digital economy of the 21st century. Education at top tier colleges and universities has traditionally been a social and economic privilege, but now anyone can join in the learning revolution by sitting in virtual classrooms with the world’s best and brightest educators. Whether this involves learning how to code and build smart phone apps, or starting up a new business, or learning about public health literacy, the sky is the limit of what’s now possible.

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E-shopaholics wanted (part 2)

How to build a successful online shop: Content

Nowadays, the importance of content becomes bigger and bigger every day. Even if your shop is user-friendly, easy to find and understand, and if it attracts a lot of visitors, the content is one of the decision-making factors when it comes to buying. Written content in your e-shop is important to get your message across and finish the selling process. Visitors will be interested in your products and maybe in contacting you, so provide them all the useful information they may want to find while in your online store.


General information

User experience and design are crucial for the first impressions of your e-shop, but try to win your user’s trust. Display your company logo or your brand on all pages; it’s best to include it in the header of your shop. Contact information should be easily accessible from everywhere in your store, so better add Contacts in your main menu. Buttons should be the same shape, size and color on every page; use consistent elements so that your users won’t get confused. Use simple texts and images, easy to understand call-to-actions and these will help navigate users to their desired purchase. If you’re selling your product globally (or in a couple of countries), think about different language versions – the number depends on the markets that you’re selling in. Users will find your e-shop much more attractive if they can browse in their own language. Avoid spelling and grammar mistakes – this creates a bad impression, which can cause users to leave your e-shop. They might think that because your online store is not completely OK, your products aren’t either. Having different language versions automatically means that you will need to have the website checked by a native speaker for every language used.

If you have a log-in option for user accounts where they can see their order history and account information, make this log-in accessible regardless where in your e-shop the user may be. The header in your website is a great decision for this. Make the registration and log-in process easy, but secure – security is important for every one of us, as we want user friendly and time-saving registrations.


Product information

You might think that visitors are already familiar with your products before they enter your e-shop, but don’t be so sure. For example, users can come directly from search engines, looking to buy a product in your category, but not specifically your brand. Another example is a user who lands on your e-shop from an advertisement, if you have online advertising campaigns. Always try to provide your visitors with the option to read product details – the “Read more” button is an excellent option. But you have to be sure, that when landing on your product page, visitors can easily come back to your store again. The “Back” button in the browser is not a good way to handle this. You can set the page up so that the “Read more” product page opens in another tab of the browser – so users won’t exactly exit from your e-shop. Regardless of this linking to the product pages with detailed information, you should provide short information about products in your e-shop – product titles, short descriptions and details like sizes, colors, materials and usage guidelines.


Use icons wherever you can substitute words with pictures, because online users like to understand quickly and read as little as possible. Add alternative texts that explain every icon, which pop up when the user moves the mouse cursor over it – this will prevent any misunderstandings. For example if you sell jewelry, you can substitute categories of rings and bracelets with stylized icons, but by using the mouse-over the user should be able to see the name of the category. If you offer technical products for users it might be hard for them to mentally process all the details of every product. So offer them a comparison tool – where they can easily compare features and prices, as this can help ensure the buying decision will be made quickly. This reduces the risk of customers leaving your e-shop disappointed because they can’t understand what they really need and want to buy.


Visualizing people using your products is one of the strongest sales aids, so use it if you can. Users will get a feeling for what it is like to use your products as it gives them a clearer picture of the size of your products, and how they can be used, mixed and matched. Ask your real customers to send you pictures of themselves using your product and ask their permission for you to use them. This will create an even more favorable impression for your potential online buyers. If you sell software, pictures of users are not going to be your thing since shots of some random people sitting in front of a computer are not really very motivating. In this case provide screenshots from your product (if it has graphical interface) and a detailed description of its functionality.


Terms & Conditions, Privacy policy page

Place a Privacy policy on your e-store, because customers are concerned about how you’ll handle the information they provide you. Be sure your policy follows the legal requirements in your country. Include everything that will convince customers that they can trust you and make them feel more secure on your website. A Terms & Conditions page will also help users see that you’re professional. Some people want to know more about the use of your services, refunds, order changes, cancelations etc. If you don’t provide this information, you’re taking the risk of losing potential sales. Advice: in the ordering process include the obligation of users to accept your Terms & Conditions. It will help to deal with eventual untenable claims after purchasing.


Up-selling and discounts

Getting people who have already bought something from your store to buy again is easier than attracting new buyers. Someone who trusted you once will trust you again, if you give them a good reason to. You can offer a special discount for the user’s next purchase when they check out from your e-shop – tell them about it on the “Thank you” page which appears when the purchase is completed and send a follow-up e-mail confirming it. Let the user send the discount to his family or friends to use – for you it doesn’t really matter, because you could win some new customers that way. You should consider, though, the format of the discount coupon. In most e-shops discounts are given by promo codes. If this promo code can be used only once, you’ll prevent its misuse. But if you want a significant increase in your sales without any visible promotion or advertising, give an easy to remember code (like Xmaspr0mo) – this will increase the likelihood that some of your customers will pass the code on to their friends and help spread the word. Consider those kinds of strategies carefully, though; at some point you might not be able to control your promotion sales. At the end of the day, your purpose is profit.


Up-selling (suggesting a different product to a user who has already selected a product or bought something else) is a perfect way to increase your sales per visitor. And again, in most cases it’s easier to attract someone who has previously decided to buy from you. Show additional products to users:

  • which fit in with the selected products. If a user buys a laptop, they’ll consider buying a sleeve or a case for it, or an antivirus program, but maybe not an e-book.
  • in the shopping cart – that’s the perfect place for up-selling. If you wait and offer an additional product after the user has confirmed their purchase, it’s possible they won’t see your offer at all – they’re ready to leave your store and expect to leave, not to be asked to consider buying something else. Even if they see and like your additional offering, they might not have the time or the desire to go through the purchasing process again.


Having the right content in your e-shop will help you get users to actually buy from you. It’ll also help you in search engines rankings and that method of attracting new visitors. In fact, your online store is a website itself, so it needs good content. Go through your pages regularly and update texts, images and even buttons, if you need to. We’ll go through the actual process of purchase and payment and how you can improve those in the next installment, part 3 of E-shopaholics wanted.


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About Lili Petkova

Enthusiastic young online marketing professional. Fully engaged in the way how people communicate and react on different situations – both online, and offline. Living in Bulgaria - a country of contrast, where life is somewhere in the middle of Western countries and Asia. Love to travel, meet new cultures and friends. Blogging about how online tools, social networks and internet advertising can help small businesses to benefit from their online marketing.