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If you’re looking for a way to directly reach your customers and prospects in a place they’re checking at least once a day, then email marketing is the answer to your problems.

Email marketing helps you get in front of consumers to drive action, increase awareness for your business, and reach them in a place they’re spending time. The possibilities for email marketing success are endless–as long as you understand email marketing’s power and have the right strategy in place.

One of the best strategies for email marketing is through sending targeted emails. In this post, we’ll answer all your questions about targeted emails, including:

What is targeted email marketing?

Why is email marketing important?

How does targeted email marketing work?

What are email marketing best practices?

Let’s dive right in.

What is targeted email marketing?

First things first: Let’s define the term. Email marketing is a digital marketing strategy that allows you to send email messages directly to your email list, a subset of your email list, or a list of email addresses.

The purpose of email marketing is to:

Provide valuable information to potential clients and customers

Promote your business

Get people interested in your business

Targeted email marketing is similar, but it entails sending personalized marketing messages to a targeted list of email addresses. These email lists are curated to specifically align with your marketing goals–whether it’s a list of potential customers in your area or customers with attributes similar to your current customers.

5 reasons email marketing is important 

Targeted emails can serve many purposes, and email marketing is a highly effective marketing strategy. Here are some of the benefits of email marketing for small businesses:

1. People use email every day (multiple times per day!)

There are 5.6 billion active email accounts in the world, and 99% of consumers check their email every day. In a time when it’s hard to guarantee 99% for anything, this is a pretty incredible stat!

Plus, not only do most consumers check their emails every day, but the average person checks their emails 20 times per day!

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2. It reaches consumers directly

When you send an email marketing message, you’re getting directly to your customers through their inboxes, which we already know they’re checking daily. This gives you a one-to-one connection with your customers that’s hard to find in digital marketing, making it a great and effective way to reach people.

3. It can drive users to take an action 4. It keeps your business top of mind

In addition to using email marketing to drive your audience to take an action, you can also send educational information that presents you as a leader in your industry. This positions your business as a resource and can help you stay top of mind with your audience, leading them to contact you when they need a business in your industry.

5. It’s easily tracked

One complaint many marketers and business owners have with various marketing strategies is the inability to track and measure success. With targeted email marketing, however, you don’t have that problem.

You can see a number of important and helpful email marketing kpis, including:

Open rate: The number of people who opened your email out of the number of people who received it. A good open rate for a marketing email is around 20%, but it varies by industry.

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Unsubscribes: The number of people opting out of receiving your emails.

These metrics tell you how effective your email marketing campaigns are and where there are areas for improvement. For instance, a less-than-stellar open rate might tell you that you need to test new email subject lines to encourage more customers to open your email.

How does targeted email marketing work?

Email marketing isn’t complex–as we defined, it entails sending marketing messages to your audience via email. But, how do you actually do that? And how do you make those emails targeted to specific users?

There are several ways targeted email marketing can work:

You can use a CRM

Related: Get easy strategies to build an email list.

You can try an email marketing platform

If your CRM doesn’t have this feature or you want to personalize your emails a bit more, you can try an email marketing platform–there are even some free email marketing services you can use like MailChimp. When you use one of these platforms, you upload your list, create your email, and send it from there.

The only downside with using an email marketing platform is that you often have to segment your list yourself to send targeted emails.

You can work with an email marketing service

If you want to outsource your email marketing, you can work with an email marketing agency to run this for you. An email marketing service can help by using best practices to create the right strategy and messages, segment your audience, and A/B test your emails to drive the best results. They can also curate email lists for you so you can reach audiences outside of your CRM or existing email list.

8 targeted email marketing best practices for an effective strategy

Now that you have an understanding of what email marketing is and why it’s important, it’s time to talk strategy. The great thing about email marketing is that you can adjust your strategy based on your specific goals and objectives.

Here, we’ve outlined eight targeted email marketing best practices to help you create the best strategy for your business.

1. Personalize your messages 2. Use segmentation

Not all consumers are alike. Yes, anyone on your mailing list has at least one thing in common: an interest in your company. But most companies have several buyer personas. These personas basically represent the different groups of consumers who do business with you. Plus, if you’re running targeted email marketing and using an email list, you’ll want to segment the list based on specific attributes or interests.

Let’s say you own a sporting goods store. You might have four different personas:

Parents Buying Sports Gear for Their Children

Hiking & Camping Enthusiasts

Adults Who Play Sports in Recreational Leagues

Elite Runners and Cyclists

The elite runners won’t be interested in hiking shoes, just like the hikers don’t have a need for children’s baseball gloves. That’s where list segmentation comes in and allows you to target your email marketing messages to the right audience.

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By breaking your audience down by demographics, attributes, and previous interactions with your brand, you can send everyone emails that are relevant only to their needs.

You can also segment your list by consumer action. So, for example, you can create a list segment for customers who have recently made a purchase and send post-purchase emails to stay top of mind, build loyalty, and get feedback.

3. Create the right subject lines and email content

The subject line and email content will make or break the success of your email marketing strategy.

(We have some subject line ideas for you here!)

Make sure you’re creating email content that is straightforward, appeals to your target audience, and clearly outlines what action they should take.

4. Outline a year-long email marketing strategy

One of the great things about email marketing is that you can technically run it as a one-and-done tactic as part of your overall marketing strategy. But, when it comes to getting down to business with email marketing, it’s even better to outline a plan for the whole year.

Here are some times during the year that email marketing might work for you:

Holidays: The holidays are a great time to check in with your customers and prospects to remind them about your business and the goods and services you provide, let them know about upcoming specials, and more. And, the holidays are spaced out throughout the year, so you have a built-in plan ready to go! (Check out these holiday email subject lines for inspiration for your campaigns!)

Down times: Are there times during the year that your business needs a little boost? Do you have a seasonal business? Plan ahead by adding email marketing during that time and running a special or promotion.

If you’re not ready to plan a full year for your email marketing, there are plenty of other options that will keep you at the top of consumers’ inboxes.

Related: Find out the top types of emails you should be sending–and when!

5. Plan to amplify your promotions

If you’re planning your promotions or events for the year, make sure to incorporate email marketing as part of that plan. Consumers love promotions. In fact, 61% of consumers enjoy receiving promotional emails weekly.

I’m a sucker for sales emails, and I’ve discovered some of my favorite local businesses this way. I see an email for a discounted dog bath, and I make my dogs an appointment right away. I get a promotion for a new restaurant that’s offering a free appetizer, and I’m there (for pick up) that weekend.

6. Get the word out about your events

Just like targeted email marketing is great for promotions, it’s also great for events. If you’re holding any events during the year, put together an email marketing campaign to accompany it. Make sure that the email includes all details about the event, a link to RSVP if that’s needed, and engaging images that entice the reader to attend.

Say you’re holding an event as you open a new location—you want to target customers in your area who might attend and bring their friends.

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With targeted email marketing, you’re able to get in front of consumers in the right area and increase the chances that more people might attend.

7. Promote your business through education

Another great way to market your business through email is to incorporate some kind of educational campaign. Maybe your auto repair shop creates helpful content for your consumers to take better care of their cars, or maybe you’re a dietician that provides healthy recipes. Or, maybe you don’t create content, but you can gather helpful content and send it as resources for your audience. Whatever it is, you can position your business as a leader in the industry by sending out informational content that doesn’t ask for anything in return.

You can even tack this on to your year-round plan. For example, the car repair shop could send seasonal tips on how to care for your car in the winter and summer. The dietician could send email marketing campaigns around the holidays with healthy recipe ideas.

This is a great way to get the word out about your business and help your potential customers see you as a resource.

8. Tie email marketing to your full strategy

Targeted email marketing works best as part of a holistic marketing strategy. If you’re sending emails that drive traffic to your website, you want to make sure your website looks great and provides the right information.

People may see your email and perform a search for your business, so you’ll want to make sure you’re running SEO so you have a chance of showing up for that search. And, if you’re also running PPC, you can ensure more opportunities to appear in search engines.

Get started with targeted email marketing

Stephanie Heitman

Stephanie is the Associate Director of Content for LocaliQ and WordStream. She has over 10 years of experience in content and social media marketing and loves writing about all things digital marketing. When she’s not researching the latest and greatest marketing news and updates, she’s probably watching reality TV with her husband, reading, or playing with her two pups.

Other posts by Stephanie Heitman

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Retail Email Marketing Best Practices

An interview with Retail email specialist Dan Jak

So, when I got chatting to Dan Jak in our LinkedIn group and discovered his experience  on Email marketing I was keen to learn and share more. So in this interview we look at some retail-specific email marketing challenges, many of which apply more widely too.

follow him on Twitter or connect on LinkedIn.

Now onto my questions and Dan’s answers – thanks to Dan for such a detailed and thought-provoking responses!

The main success factors for retail email marketing?

Q. Looking back to when you started out in retail email marketing, what do you wish that you knew then, that you now know is important to successful email marketing?

Creative vs. data

There is only one thing that I got wrong. It was back in 2006 when I switched from web design to email design, I really believed in power of creative. I thought email creative will improve email performance. It does, but it is only short-term solution and you will notice that all performance stats will go back to normal after 3-5 weeks from redesigning your email.

I realised how wrong I was as soon as I started using dynamic content – nothing works better than relevant content. If you don’t believe me, check out eBay’s or Amazon’s emails. These guys don’t pay too much attention to email creative, but they mastered use of their data. I used to get excited when I saw emails like McDonald’s or Pizza Express with images switched off, but now I don’t think there is a real benefit of allocating that much resource to produce so complex emails, especially when you want these email to be rendered on mobile. A good balance between text and images is enough.

Options for targeting retail emails and newsletters?

Q. All email marketers know that relevance, value and context are important to increasing consumer engagement and response. Please outline the targeting approaches you use with dynamic content in regular enewsletters to increase response.

Content in context

This is a book-size subject, and yes, it’s very important to remember that content is King, but context is Queen and it’s the data that will build the Kingdom – there is no other way to go forward rather than being relevant.

Gender

The easiest targeting that you can do is based on gender. Show different products to male and female, use different tone of voice, imagery or colours, and test it against your control group that will receive generic version. Your findings may surprise you, in a good way.

Recency-Frequency-Monetary Value

More powerful targeting is the one based on RFM model (Recency – How recently did the customer purchase? Frequency – How often do they purchase? Monetary Value – How much do they spend?). It may work better in some sectors and worse in others i.e. this may work brilliantly in travel sector or for mobile networks, because people tend to book holidays/take new phone contracts regularly in the same intervals, while in consumer electronics customers tend to buy impulsively.

This method is descriptive (describing characteristics of a population), and does not forecast behaviour – it assumes that customers will continue behaving the same – it does not take into account the impact of lifestage or lifecycle transitions on the likelihood of response.

When used as the primary targeting method, it may lead to over emailing to the most attractive RFM segments and to neglect of other segments that would be profitable if developed properly. Remember, history can’t always predict future, especially when it involves people. You will find more on the subject on Bronto’s blog

Predictive modelling

Predictive modelling might work better. It’s more accurate than RFM and it’s based on post-purchase cross-sell. Timing is very important here, so robust testing plan has to be developed.

In consumer electronics you don’t have that luxury. Post-purchase cross-sell needs to happen shortly after the purchase i.e. if your customer hasn’t bought a TV stand or HDMI cable together with a TV you will need to try to sell it to this customer as soon as possible. There is a chance that customer may own a TV stand. If not, the customer is going to buy it on the same day or across next few days. At this point you may also exclude this customer from receiving any promotional emails. Test your timing against two control groups – one to receive all emails and one not receiving anything.

Real-time data

And the last but not least – use your real-time data.

Every ESPs (known to me) provide dynamic content and triggered deployment functionality, but the way that these features are used depend on the data structure and availability. In the past dynamic content was mainly driven by profile data or preferences. Nowadays, you can do much more using API calls and passing data to your ESP triggering emails in real time. If you don’t have SCV, you may fake it with multiple API calls passing data to your ESP where it will be stored. There are several email campaigns that you can deploy instantly, caused by certain behaviours.

Welcome programme

First of all is a Welcome email, or programme, if you want to break it down to 2 or 3 emails. These should be sent to your new recipient within first week, with first email deploying instantly or within 24 hours. Welcome email is one of these campaigns that generate the highest ROI when done properly. Don’t send your Welcome email one week later and don’t neglect the importance of this campaign. You have to have it up and running no matter what.

You will find great article on Welcome email on Econsultancy and a gallery of Welcome emails on Smiley Cat – not all of them are great but they will definitely inspire you.

Online browsing history

Looking at customer’s online behaviour may indicate who gets closer to the bottom of the purchase funnel. If it doesn’t, it may help you prepare tailored email. And I promise you, your performance stats will skyrocket. You can take two approaches here. You can go out with a solus email or include a section into your promo email. You can also change a Subject Line of a promo email to increase Open Rate.

There are many possibilities and only sky’s the limit when we talk about real-time data.

Best email frequency?

Q. How do you decide on the best frequency for sending emails to existing customers. Increasing frequency will often lead to increased sales, but you don’t want to overmail. How do you get the balance right for frequency?

Frequency is the most difficult aspect of email marketing if you don’t ask customers how often they want to see your email in their inbox.

MailChimp analysed frequency well in this study

The best approach for email marketing on mobile?

Q. Mobile responsive templates are now essential in consumer email marketing given the levels of tablet and smartphone use. What tips would you recommend to make mobile email marketing effective.

According to different sources around 66% of email opens happen on mobile devices (tablets and smartphones). For that reason every retailer should develop a mobile version of email.

There are two approaches that you may consider using:

1. Fluid layout is based on percentage-based sizing tables and while it looks alright on mobile, it may not look great on desktop. It will stretch from left to right so it may make email difficult to look at. It can be fixed with max-width in media query but it won’t work in every scenario. It is good for simple, text-based layout.

Another important thing is asset production. A mobile version of emails, especially responsive ones, requires two sets of assets for some parts of the email – it depends on messaging.

If your email is image based you will have to produce more assets compared with an email that has both, images and text. It’s quite important to know that you should never increase the size of images on mobile.

You may need to produce images with mobile in mind and shrink them on desktop. If an image is less than 480px wide, you need to produce it at 480px width for tablet where device width is 480px. Then you decrease the size for smartphones, desktop clients and webmails. Keep your assets to absolute minimum as it will help you manage amends much quicker.

One of the most important KPIs to look at is mentioned above Unsubscribe rate. If it goes above 0.5% you have to start working on your engagement levels.

Another thing you have to bear in mind is that people come and go. Then, they come back. That’s why engagement will depend on their position within lifecycle.

Don’t spam their inboxes with the same email, but approach them with highly targeted campaign when their getting closer to certain point in their lifecycle, i.e product replacement purchase. Lifecycle gets shorter every year, and we don’t keep the same fridge for 20 years anymore.

Conversion Rate is another one to help you to understand if content you’re providing is relevant and engaging. If customers are not buying, you may make some of your stakeholders very unhappy.

You can also look into Email Forwards, Social Network Shares, Email Print Outs etc. The higher rate of these three rates, the better engagement.

Email Marketing Trends For 2023

5 trends Email marketers need to stay on top of in 2023 and a couple of things you can safely ignore…

As we move from one year to the next, the heart of (email) marketing remains the same. It is about providing customer-centric experiences. For email experiences, this is the mantra of right message, right person, right time. The closer you get to this the better the results. Each year

Download Expert Member resource – Email Trends: A visual Guide

To understand the latest best practice to do this we selected some of the key trends in email marketing and then asked 10 email marketing specialists from around the world to give their examples and recommendations..

Access the

This is simple to say, but has been incredibly hard to deliver. Broadcast email has been so effective because of the high cost and limited accuracy of solutions to get right message, right time and right person. That’s changing, but don’t dump your broadcast activity just yet.

Trend 1 – Targeting

Capturing user interests with preference centres is dead in all but a few specialised cases, or used as a last ditch recovery attempt as part of an unsubscribe opt-down. Brands not using behaviour in 2023 will be brands stuck in the past.

The cost of doing this is coming down to levels that means there is ROI in the extra effort needed. Some ESPs are building in such capabilities, even MailChimp added behaviourally generated product recommends in 2024. There are an increasing number of third-party solutions designed to work with any ESP that add this capability too.

Brands with a very large number of SKUs, or highly varied content and a diverse audience are behaviour to target content within emails. Highly dynamic emails in which much if not all of the content is specific to the individual. This is modern day segmentation.

eBay is a great example of the challenge and solution. eBay emails are full of content target based on personal behaviours; items browsed, purchased, added to watch lists or recommended based on others with similar behaviours. With the range of products on eBay and a huge diverse customer base this is the only way eBay can maintain relevance at scale.

I expect to see more brands of medium scale adding in blocks of behavioural driven content, such as recommended items, to classically generated static content.

For brands in niche markets with smaller highly focussed lists and limited product ranges then behavioural targeting of content is not as critical but behaviour is beneficial to use in the next trend. Automation.

However, don’t expect 2023 (or 2023… or possibly ever) to see perfection in technology for getting the right message/person/time combination. Relatively untargeted broadcast communication continues to have a place as part of the mix in 2023. A means to learn and elicit new behaviours.

The same behavioural data also naturally allows more lifecycle marketing; treating suspects, prospects, new customers, regular, lapsing and lapsed appropriately. Turning a one-time buyer in a multi-purchaser is the initial starting point for anyone who doesn’t yet have any lifecycle targeting.

Personalised discount offers fit hand in glove fit with lifecycle marketing. Who gets a discount, by how much and when individually targeted based on the lifecycle using and traditional RFM models. However, personalised offers are proving slow to become wide spread due to the relatively low penetration of capable solutions. The trend in 2023 will be for an increase but likely to remain at a small percentage of brands with this capability.

To review the options, take a look at these 6 email segmentation and targeting options.

Trend 2 – Automation

Rather than switching to automation, brands should be supplementing existing email activity and blending in automation programs to supplement broadcast activity.

In fact, many brands already have elements of automation included in their email programmes and they will be adding to this in 2023. But due to inherent limitations in email automation, nobody should be consider stopping use of using any broadcast, albeit broadcast content driven by behavioural data as in trend 1.

The best trigger points for automation are those which show high intent for conversion and happen with reasonable frequency. For example, someone adding a product to their wish list could be a great trigger point, but if your customer base almost never does that then such a trigger point has little value.

Trend 3 – Inbox placement and deliverability

The main ISPs have been hugely successful over the last few years with filter algorithm development. Indiscriminate and illegally sent email has been beaten. Whilst users may still see a little spam, what they don’t see is the massive amount that never gets to their inbox or even their junk folder.

Reputation of sending IP addresses and domains are the main drivers of inbox placement at the major ISPs.

B2B spam filtering may have lagged behind the sophistication of Gmail, Microsoft and Yahoo algorithms but that’s changed. In addition to the reputation sharing B2B filtering solutions such as Barracuda and Cloudmark there is a strong trend for companies to outsource email services to Office 365 and G-Suite (formally Google for Work). Gartner report 13% of public companies use these services. And this number is growing.

This means the same filtering and globally shared reputation based approach applies to B2B. The bar is rising on the standards needed for B2B brands to get to the inbox. Poorly permissioned, third party permissioned or sending on opt-out basis is going to be an increasing challenge for B2B.

As the ISPs continue to finesse algorithms they are recognise that one person’s spam is another person’s ham. Filter rules will work increasingly at the personal level and may lead to filtering of permission-based email from the inboxes of the users that are consistently ignoring the brand.

Seed list based inbox monitoring tools no longer give usable inbox placement results. Inbox placement is best monitored by tracking open rates over time by domain – a report that currently not all ESPs provide. The trend is for more brands to make use of the free Google Postmaster report to track their reputation with Gmail.

This last year has seen a noticeable increase in email list bombing. The resulting trend is going to be increased need to use reCAPTCHA on subscribe forms and/or use of double opt-in processes.

Getting to the inbox won’t be challenge for brands who work on the trends 1 and 2 above, but continuing with the status quo will mean more challenges to inbox placement.

Trend 4 – Data regulation and privacy

It’s clear that regulation is going in one direction only, both in the EU and worldwide. Permission is getting stricter; what marketers can do with data is going to be more tightly regulated.

In Europe the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is agreed. We can expect to see privacy regulation changes too, as it needs to keep in step with data protection.

The ICO has confirmed that GDPR will be adopted, as implementation is required before the Brexit timetable. Even after a Brexit has been completed any brands marketing into the EU will need to obey GDPR. The long term worst case for brands could be obeying GDPR for EU residents and different regulations for UK.

In the UK the ICO has issued more fines for illegal marketing this year than ever before and we can expect to see even more fines in 2023.

Whilst the ICO focus has been on the area of most frustration to consumers, illegal phone and SMS campaigns, the Telegraph Media Group were fined £30,000 for sending an email with content for which they did not have permission. Permission is limited to the scope given at time of opt-in.

As the Digital Economy Bill and GDPR make their way into UK law, within the next two years, the requirement for unambiguous consent looks like it may end the practice of pre-ticked check boxes for email permission during a purchase. Using an un-checked box that can be easily ignored will slash list growth and marketers are going to have to work harder at growth and find stronger reasons to gain permission. The change might be to requiring an explicit yes or no to force an active choice, so that the option of permission can’t be ignored.

The ongoing situation with Safe Harbor being declared insufficient for passing data was resolved in 2024 with the EU Privacy Shield agreement. Right now EU brands using services that places their data on servers in the US have an issue.

Trend 5 – Email creatives

A few brands have experimented with pushing the envelope of email design, such as creating carousel type elements, hamburger menus and interactive features in their emails. Often called interactive emails.

Carousels have been proven by CRO experts to be bad on webpages, why should they be a good thing in emails? Whilst hamburger menus are possible in email, these have been shown to make content harder to discover by Nielsen.

Also, not all email clients are able to support the very leading edge approaches, Gmail in particular. Though Google is moving to make Gmail support the latest standards, expect more improvements in 2023.

You might decide 2023 is not the year to experiment with interactive emails if you’ve limited resource and wait for a better understanding of what interactive elements improve email rather than just look flashy.

Expect to see the trend for use of animation and to a lesser extent video to continue in 2023. The key is to make the animation support the message and capture imagination, not just add a pointless decorative element.

When it comes to copy the trend for enterprise brands to get computer support of copy will continue. Solutions such as Persado, Phrasee or virtual testing with Touchstone.

After the initial big splash about smart watches there is still no sign of a big impact to email marketing. You’ve bigger things to win on in 2023 than worrying about if your emails are good for smart watch users.

Perhaps Google Home Assistant and Amazon Echo will start reading out your emails. If and when this becomes common, then subject lines may need to become more descriptive as voice control is used to triage emails. Again, not something for 2023! But check back next year…

For even more thoughts on email marketing in year to come, Jordie van Rijn compiled several predictions and forecasts into an overview of the future of email marketing.

Best Practices For Responding To Live Chat

Live chat instantly connects customers to your business via instant messaging. Use it for order help, updates and more.

Responding quickly, being empathetic and listening actively are top live-chat strategies for your customer service reps.

Tools such as chat transcripts and surveys provide feedback to streamline and improve customer service via live chat.

This article is for small business owners and managers who are interested in using live chat to improve the customer experience and encourage repeat business.

Businesses use various customer service solutions to provide support and information and boost customer retention. Support channels such as email, phone and social media help businesses connect with customers via their preferred method. Live chat is a relatively new support channel that offers the convenience of email with the immediacy of phone calls and the reach of social media. 

We’ll explore live chat and highlight seven ways to optimize your live-chat support to create satisfied customers and manage customer relationships to ensure loyalty and repeat business. 

What is live chat?

Live chat is an instant-message-like system that connects customers to support reps instantly. You’ve likely seen or used a live-chat option on a company’s website. Customers can avoid phone calls and wait times and type their questions into the system, and reps can often answer questions and solve problems immediately. 

Adopting live chat can help your business in at least two ways: 

Customers appreciate additional options for addressing their needs.

Your business can use information from chats to improve its products and services.

“Beyond making customers happier, chat provides businesses with rich quantitative and qualitative data,” said Karl Pawlewicz, former head of marketing communications for live chat software company Olark. “Businesses can look through real-time chat reports and understand when they’re busiest, which pages generate the most questions, what conversations are converting (to sales), what topics come up most often, how busy their service team [is] and so much more.”

Did You Know?

Live-chat systems usually use customer service reps to respond to questions, but some chat systems use chatbots that rely on AI to interact with customers about simple queries.

How to improve your live chat for better customer service

Live chat helps customers get quick answers to problems and improves customer service. Live-chat best practices take the support channel to the next level to create an exceptional experience for your target customers. 

When you’re implementing live chat on your company’s site, keep these seven best practices in mind:

1. Respond quickly to live-chat queries.

Customer satisfaction directly correlates with a quick response rate. Customers don’t want to sit in front of their computers, waiting for a greeting or reply.

“Customers prefer live chat because they can get an answer quickly,” Pawlewicz said. “When a customer starts a conversation, start with a quick response. This way, the customer knows they’ve reached a live person.”

For quick live-chat responses, follow these tips:

Offer an immediate acknowledgment. Let the customer know you’re there to help and your goal is to solve their problem. 

Let the customer know if you need to step away. You may need time to absorb the situation and research an answer. Don’t go off-grid and leave them hanging. Instead, let them know they’re not alone and you need time to look into the issue. Respond instantly with something like, “I’m going to take a moment to look this over, OK?” Adding “OK?” helps the customer feel less like you’re behind a wall and more like you’re with them.

Communicate about more challenging issues. Sometimes, customers send frantic messages about a concern that can’t be solved immediately. It’s essential to ensure every customer knows their request has been received. If more time is required to solve the issue, tell the customer you’re looking into it. Check back frequently to thank them for waiting, and let them know you’re still on the case. If additional research is needed, you may have to send a follow-up email with more information. Communicate what’s happening with their problem at every stage, and follow through with your promises. 

Did You Know?

Live chat isn’t just for customer interaction. Business chat tools, like Slack and Microsoft Teams, foster communication and collaboration while boosting employee engagement.

6. Use surveys to improve live-chat practices.

Customer surveys can improve and streamline customer support. Consider pre-chat surveys and post-chat surveys. 

Pre-chat surveys: A pre-chat survey helps route the customer and provides essential information to the agent. Rely on the pre-surveys to answer your customers’ questions as quickly as possible. 

Post-chat surveys: A post-chat survey provides you with feedback to improve your customer service.

7. Don’t overpromise during live chats.

Never promise something in a live chat that you aren’t absolutely certain you can deliver. Don’t feel so pressured by – or even sympathetic to – a customer that you say something you can’t take back.

If a customer is in touch because of an urgent need or is dissatisfied, an unfulfilled promise will only worsen their view of your company, marring your reputation. It’s much better to say something like, “I’m sorry, but that’s not something I can offer.” 

Key Takeaway

The best live chat apps can help you boost conversions in your e-commerce store because customers are less likely to abandon their shopping carts if they can address their concerns.

Make the most of live chat

Like all good business practices, live chat adds value to your company, but it also requires a bit of a balancing act. A good chat agent can make a positive impression on your customers, thus building customer loyalty, repeat business and word-of-mouth referrals.  

Russ Mudrick contributed to the reporting and writing in this article. Some source interviews were conducted for a previous version of this article.

Seo Best Practices For Migrating To Shopify

Imagine the despair you would feel seeing your new Shopify store’s organic traffic tank, sales evaporate, and page 1 rankings drop from search results.

After spending months building out your new Shopify site, sleepless nights going back and forth with web designers and developers, nail-biting hours spent refreshing your Analytics, and waiting for sales to trickle in again, let’s just say, migrating to a new ecommerce platform can be a daunting task.

But don’t worry, this won’t be you.

By following these SEO best practices for migrating to Shopify, you can eliminate the anxiety and pave the way for a smooth transition to your new Shopify store.

Why Migrate To Shopify?

Shopify is the global leader in supporting independent ecommerce brands to branch out and grow their store on their own terms.

It’s a great alternative to the likes of Amazon, allowing merchants more control over their brand and marketing.

In 2023, merchants sold $175.4 billion in sales through the Shopify platform.

They’ve recently welcomed onboard some massive brands like Hello Fresh and French Connection.

With an inexhaustible library of apps and access to Shopify marketing experts and developers, it’s a comprehensive and attractive platform for taking your business to the next level.

Migrating To Shopify

If you’re ready to take the plunge and migrate your ecommerce store over to Shopify, take the time to understand the SEO implications of migration.

The last thing any business owner wants is to lose all their hard-earned domain authority, backlinks, and organic traffic.

Regardless of how large or small your business is, migrating to a new ecommerce platform is not an easy process but heed this warning don’t migrate your store to Shopify without a plan.

If you don’t plan and execute a migration correctly, organic traffic can be cut by 50% within weeks of migrating.

For instance, while migrating, a web designer treated the new website as a whole new business.

When migration occurred, there were no 301 redirects in place, resulting in 404 pages and crawl errors everywhere.

These errors signaled to the Google bots to stop crawling the pages.

As you can imagine, it didn’t take long for traffic to flatline.

No crawling means no indexing and no indexing means no URLs will show in search results.

And just like that, you can kiss your hard-earning SEO goodbye.

Pre-Migration 1. Set Up The New Shopify Store

Signing up and selecting a plan is the first step.

Select a Shopify theme according to your needs.

Use this as an opportunity to refresh the canonical link structure and SEO setup of your store. Consider the following.

Navigation structure – Are your top-ranking pages or highest value collections or products accessible through your site’s navigation? Does the flow of your navigation make it easy for your customer to find what they are looking for?

Collections – Shopify utilizes ‘collections’ to group similar products. These are critical pages for SEO, and you want to ensure your products are categorized logically.

Pages – Now is the perfect time to audit and review the key pages of your store. In Shopify, ‘pages’ are informational in nature and include your ‘About’ page, ‘Contact’ page, ‘Shipping and Delivery’ pages, etc. Pages like these are important trust signals for your site’s SEO.

Products – These are your transactional pages, and keywords will most likely be transactional in nature. Shopify automatically creates product URLs based on the product name, but you can edit these as you create or review your products. If there are changes to an already published product, an automatic 301 redirect is created to the new URL.

Blog – Shopify hosts your blog content within its own platform. Now is the time for a content audit to make sure you’re capitalizing on your blog and not migrating useless content.

2. Review Canonical Link Structure

The canonical link structure tells search engines which page you want to rank.

For example, if you have a variant of a product or a product included in multiple collections, new URLs are automatically created for each.

Allowing these URLs to rank can cause indexing bloat and may take away from your SEO efforts in getting the original product or collection to rank.

You can set your canonical link structure to point back to the original product or collection you wish to rank for using a simple line of code known as a rel canonical tag,

will have a canonicalized URL to:

You can check whether rel canonical is in use by viewing the page source of a couple of pages, collections, or products, and searching for ‘rel canonical’ in the HTML code.

So in our example, the rel canonical tag will look like this:

If your store contains over 100 SKUs, you likely use tags on collections to filter.

It’s rare to index these because of the difficulty in editing the content in a way that is different from the parent collections (the exception is if you have a large inventory strategy to capture search intent).

In this case, you want the tagged collection URL to canonicalize to the parent collection.

Find:

And replace it with:

{% if template contains ‘collection’ and current_tags -%}

{%- else -%}

{%- endif %}

3. Backup Everything

Backup your old website.

The best way to do this varies by platform.

Do a full Screaming Frog scan to capture key SEO data so you can recrawl the list of URLs for 301 status post-migration.

Export the scan to review the data later.

4. Setup 301 Redirects From Old Url To New Shopify URL

This is the most critical step for SEO in migration to Shopify.

You will need to set up 301 redirects from your old website URLs to the new Shopify URLs.

If your domain changes, a domain redirect is not enough.

Each page, collection, and product that you are migrating from your old site will need an appropriate 301 redirect set up.

The easiest way to set up 301 redirects is to export your old domain’s site index either directly from your store following the instructions, or using a program like Screaming Frog.

Using a Google sheet, you can then map out your 301 redirects to your new Shopify URLs.

It’s time-intensive but important to get right.

From an SEO perspective, you don’t want to risk losing valuable backlinks and page authority you may have gained over the years to singular pages.

Redirect won’t come into effect in Shopify unless the old page has been deleted.

You can use Screaming Frog to double-check that all URLs have been correctly redirected.

5. Consider Internationalization

You can run a multi-lingual, multi-regional brand under a single Shopify account.

The best international strategy for a single business is usually multiple Shopify accounts because it allows complete customization of theme, layout, messaging, product offering, and fulfillment.

The primary SEO factor to consider for internationalization SEO is hreflang tags.

We strongly suggest using the Multi-Store Hreflang Tags app to configure hreflang tags across multiple stores.

That way, you avoid duplicate content, pass rank value between alternate pages, avoid 404s, and get the flexibility to customize URL handles to suit the language native to users.

Hundreds of Shopify stores are sabotaging their SEO by keeping the same language structure in their URL handles across all stores. An English store should contain English handles while a Spanish store should contain Spanish handles.

Here’s a screenshot of the chúng tôi homepage.

This is a great example of how even huge global brands can get it wrong.

Allbirds have nine domains serving different countries and languages and there is no cross-referencing between their hreflang tags.

With the correct hreflang tags, you can let Google know the most relevant store to serve in the search results and immediately take customers to the right store straight from the search results.

This will also leverage your local SEO, allowing each store to more aggressively compete on local SERPs rather than against each other.

6. Timing

Migrate outside a peak period.

You’re asking for a death wish doing it on BFCM.

Plan your resources accordingly and make sure to have all your key staff available should anything turn sour.

7. Migrate Content

To perform the actual migration of content, Cart2Cart is recommended. This enables the automated transfer of your store’s content without impacting your existing shopping cart.

Their service supports over 85 ecommerce platforms.

A handy tool on their website shows the services they support and what they cover.

8. Update Internal Linking Structure

Once you have successfully migrated all of your content, you will notice your new redirects come into effect for internal links.

This isn’t ideal as an SEO best practice to have all links taking the user directly to the URL rather than via a 301 redirect.

While a redirect helps to pass on link authority, it’s important not to rely on them when links can be updated directly.

I’ve seen many clients stuck in the pattern of redirecting redirects, creating an awful redirect chain which often results in broken links and a terrible customer experience.

A program such as Ahrefs makes it easy to identify 301 redirects or any 404 broken internal links that have resulted from the migration.

These can easily be remedied by simply going to the page where the 301 or 404 is occurring, and updating the link to the most appropriate new Shopify URL.

Post-Migration 1. Annotate Launch In Google Analytics

In Google Analytics, select Audience and then Overview.

It’s important to mark the date in Analytics of when the migration took place so you can monitor any traffic or sales changes.

2. Submit New Sitemap To Google And Bing

Open Google Search Console and under Index, select Sitemaps.

Submit your new sitemap.

Within that parent sitemap, are child sitemaps for each content type.

Proceed to do the same for Bing.

3. Submit Change Of Address Request In Google Search Console And Complete Bing Site Move Tool

This step is only needed if the domain URL changes.

Google has detailed instructions of when and how to use this tool.

4. Check That Google Analytics And Search Console Are Functioning Correctly

Log into both Google Analytics and Google Search Console to make sure all your traffic data is being picked up for your new store.

After 24 hours, you will have more data to determine whether sales and traffic are properly attributed.

There are two reports in Google Analytics that provide the easiest feedback for this:

Channel sales report: A correct setup will show various sales channels being attributed. A broken setup will report most sales coming from referrals or showing incorrect revenue data.

Shopping Behaviour report: This report should display full data including cart abandonment statistics.

Keep in mind these are just benchmarks and there are still many ways incorrectly set up Google Analytics.

Shopify transactions reflected in Analytics, does not ensure correct setup.

For more detailed information about setting up data reporting in Google Analytics for your Shopify store, refer to this guide.

5. Outreach To Highest-authority Backlinks To Get Them To Update To New URLs If Possible.

Use a tool like Ahrefs or Moz to generate a backlink report.

From here, you can review which websites hosting backlinks to your store are worth reaching out to.

The goal is to get any 301 or 404 links updated to your new URLs.

This is also providing the website host value in keeping their content up to date and creating a better reader experience.

Win-win!

For SEO purposes, it’s always best practice to have URLs taking the user to the direct URL in mention, rather than via a 301 redirect.

If it points to a 404 page, and the website host is unwilling or unresponsive to updating the URL for you, the best you can do is create a 301 redirect for the 404 page.

6. Recrawl The Old Website

Now is the time to recrawl the URL from your old website and correct any outstanding 404 broken links.

Setup 301 redirects if needed.

Check and check again.

Did I mention to check again?

7. Monitor 404s

There are several Shopify apps, such as Link Monitor and Easy Redirects, which will automatically monitor and report 404s as they arise.

Ahrefs also does the job with their site audit tool.

Otherwise, you can create a custom Google Analytics report to monitor and rectify 404 errors.

Shopify Migration Success Is Possible

While not every migration to Shopify will be all rainbows and butterflies, following these steps can help get the best possible results.

There’s zero need to migrate and lose all your hard-earned SEO wins.

You’ve worked hard for them and with these SEO best practices for migrating to Shopify, you can take them with you.

More resources:

Featured Image: fatmawati achmad zaenuri/Shutterstock

Windows 8: Hate It Already? Why Waiting For Windows 9 Won’t Help

Conventional Windows wisdom seems to hold that every other version of Windows is terrible and needs to be fixed by whatever version comes after that. Does this mantra sound familiar?

That’s how it’s supposed to go, right?

Given the drastic changes in Windows 8, it’s no surprise that some users who hate it are already holding out hope for a better Windows 9.

“What Windows 8 is, is just a media O.S… that’s about it. On a tablet, that’s fine or a cell phone. Vista was bad, Windows 7 is good.. Microsoft will make Windows 9 better.” –Shinobi

“I’m another one who will NOT ‘upgrade’ to Windows 8 – maybe Windows 9 will be better, every alternate system seems to be a shambles, looks like 8 will continue the trend!” –jja7528

“I hope that all PC manufacturers will give buyers the option to customize their PC’s with the “OLD” Windows 7, at least until an improved Windows 9 comes out……” –SamDovels

I’m here to deliver the bad news: Windows 9 won’t provide salvation, at least not if you’re hoping for Microsoft to alter its current trajectory. Unless you’re willing to embrace the changes Microsoft is making in Windows 8, be prepared to stick with your current version of Windows for a long time.

Windows Needs Change

Although Windows 8 has a fair share of perks for the traditional desktop, the operating system’s featured attraction is its new touchscreen interface.

Yet, it has to be this way. PC sales are down, while iPad sales are surging. People are turning to the iPad when they just need to get online or play with some apps. Although PC purists insist that you can’t do real work on an iPad, the body of evidence to the contrary keeps increasing.

None of this means the PC is doomed, but, as a general-purpose, go-to computing solution, PCs face a serious threat from tablets, especially the iPad. Microsoft must respond with an OS that makes sense for tablets.

Understanding Microsoft’s Angle

You might argue that Microsoft should have left Windows alone while building a separate tablet OS on the side. But who would use the latter?

Windows PC users would have little incentive to switch, which leaves Microsoft to figure out how to lure prospective iPad buyers. That’s a tall order, and it certainly hasn’t worked out for Android tablets, which aren’t selling very well.

As Technologizer’s Harry McCracken pointed out a year ago, Microsoft’s transition to Windows 8 is as radical a change as the company’s move from DOS to Windows 3.0. Then, as now, Microsoft had to tread lightly, letting people fall back onto their old software and old ways of doing things.

But, over time, the old way got phased out. Today’s command prompt is but a distant relative of the DOS version, and most Windows users never go near it.

Microsoft is banking on the chance that, as it redefines Windows, it can guide users through their own transitions. If you’ve used a PC your entire computing life, changing OSes means throwing away all the keyboard shortcuts you’ve learned, as well as losing all your USB accessories, the file system, and the eponymous windows.

Looking Ahead

From here, the future of Windows could play out in a few ways:

One possibility would be for Microsoft to concede defeat. Instead of forcing users to adopt the new Windows interface, Microsoft could give users the option to boot directly into the desktop, launch programs through an old-school Start menu, and maybe even bring back the Start button.

This seems like the least likely option, given the steps Microsoft has taken to make its new interface unavoidable. I don’t think Microsoft will cave unless there’s a huge backlash.

This might be possible in the distant future, but right now Microsoft’s strategy hinges on exposing everyone to the new user interface, so I wouldn’t expect a split any time soon. Besides, businesses have taken a liking to the iPad, even as they continue to rely on desktop software.

The last possibility, and the one I think most likely, would be for Microsoft to continue to evolve Windows.

Even if Windows 8 bombs, Microsoft won’t give up. When Redmond wants in on an important market, it tends to keep throwing money and resources at it. We saw that with Bing, we saw it with Windows Phone, and we’re going to see it again with Windows 8.

Time will tell if Microsoft can be more successful with Windows 8 than those other efforts. Either way, it’s highly unlikely that Microsoft will abandon its current vision and let this new wave of computing pass the company by. Desktop purists may not like the new look of Windows, but it’s here to stay.

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