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Nexternal's eCommerce Marketing Guide

Nexternal's eCommerce Platform has a significant number of marketing and promotional tools available that are designed to help merchants succeed. The purpose of this guide is not only to describe these features, but more importantly instruct merchants on how to enable them from within a Nexternal Order Management System.

Traffic Drivers

Merchandising and Promotional Tools

Benefits: Our platform, Nexternal.NET, was built from the ground up with Search Engine Optimization in mind, automatically generating SEO-friendly URLs and intelligently populating SEO elements, such as title tags, with category and product information. However, if you would like to further refine your store's tags, you have the ability to do so. Your Title Tag is extremely important, as it appears as the title of the browser window displaying the page. Meta Description is not seen by customers, but is used by some search engines as the description of your page, thus this field is best used to provide a concise (< 250 characters) yet compelling description of the product or category. Image alt tag appears within image tags in HTML, and is only available when the customers mouses over an image. This allows you to attach keywords to products and categories via their images (if any) that are heavily weighted by search engines.

Activation: Click on a product / edit / next and scroll down to Search Engine Options to customize the title tag, meta description, and alt tags. Categories can be optimized in a similar manner.

Hot tip: If you don't already have one, be sure to create a domain alias for your site (i.e., http://shop.YOURSITE.com versus the default http://nexternal.store/YOURSITE ). Using a domain alias rather than the store.nexternal default address allows Nexternal to create a customized xml sitemap.

Benefits: If you are already selling on Amazon, get ready to eliminate manual entry and save some serious time! If you are new to Amazon, you now have an opportunity to reach a massive new customer base selling your products through the world's largest online retailer! Amazon shoppers can discover your products on the Amazon marketplace, add them to cart, and completely check out through Amazon. Behind the scenes, relevant product and order data gets automatically pushed between Nexternal and Amazon, allowing you to fill the Amazon order alongside your other online, phone or even POS orders. The result is a consolidated system for tracking and managing products, orders, and inventory!

Activation: Please see this knowledge base article.

Hot tip: Do some research on Amazon, and make sure you price your products competitively. You have the option to set each product to a different price for Amazon, versus its price in your Nexternal store (Products - Edit / Next / Amazon Options / Product Price).

Benefits: Want your store's products to appear in Google's shopping results, or on Pricegrabber or other marketplaces? Of course you do! Get your products in front of these potential customers and increase your web presence by activating marketplace data feeds. Once your feeds are properly set up, Nexternal's system can push your product data directly into these channels on a daily basis, automatically. Google Shopping, Amazon Product Ads, Shopzilla, Nextag, TheFind, Shopping.com, PriceGrabber & Yahoo!Shopping, are all extremely popular and potentially profitable pay-per-click options.

Activation: There are two parts to setting up your Product Search Feeds. For Google, the first part involves creating a Google account and/or logging into Google Merchant Center. Visit Q.2532 in the Help Desk for detailed instructions. To set up feeds with other marketplaces, you will need to set up an account with each. Also note that each marketplace has a different categorization system, called their "taxonomy". See Products section, Export/Traffic Tools/Marketplace Exports and click on the question mark for links to setup instructions for each marketplace. You can override the marketplace categories by editing Categories your Nexternal OMS. To activate the automatic feed, check the Automated Feed option on the Preferences screen for each Marketplace that you intend to use, and enter the required FTP information.

Hot tip: Set up each marketplace as an affiliate with 100% commission. This makes it extremely easy to track the sales generated from each marketplace, and thus measure the success and ROI of your marketplace feeds. Note, you can not use this method with the Google Shopping feed due to some restrictions with the URL format Google will accept. However, if you are using Google Analytics, the utm_medium (cse) and utm_source (googlebase) URLs are automatically appended to the URLs for tracking purposes. This means you should be able to determine revenue from this source within Google Analytics.

Benefits: A Facebook "Like" exposes your company and products to a customer's network of friends, family, and associates with a pre-attached positive spin.

Activation: Settings / Compatible Software / Edit and scroll down to Social Networking. Click on "Preferences" for further detail. Change the appearance in Layout / Buttons / Edit. Visit Layout / Main Layout / Edit / Visibility Rules to select more visibility options

Hot tip: See Q5019 in the help desk for instructions on setting up Facebook Insights.

Benefits: Even if you do not tweet, most companies recognize that having others tweet about them is free word of mouth advertising. Activate your Tweet button and let your customers market your products for free!

Activation: Settings / Compatible Software / Edit and scroll down to Social Networking. Under "Product Sharing" select Twitter. Click on "Preferences" for further detail. Visit Layout / Main Layout / Edit / Visibility Rules to select more visibility options.

Hot tip: If you or your company do Tweet, specify a Twitter User Name and Related Twitter User Name in the Preferences section. The person tweeting about your product will be prompted to "follow" the specified users which is a great way to build your Twitter following.

Benefits: Activate your Twitter and Facebook Order Sharing to allow your current customers to tell their friends about your company & its products with a positive spin. It gets your company in front of more prospective customers, and has potential to drive traffic back to your site - especially since Friends tend to have similar interests.

Activation: Settings / Compatible Software / Edit and scroll down to Social Networking. Under "Order Sharing" select Facebook & Twitter. Click on "Preferences" for further detail.

Hot tip: Change the appearance of the post order sharing buttons in Layout / Buttons / Edit. Visit Layout / Main Layout / Edit / Visibility Rules to select more visibility options.

Benefits: Activating this feature is literally a simple click of a button and it gives you a free opportunity for more search engine power! Similar to other social media recommendations, it allows the product to receive a positive recommendation which shows up on the consumers Google Plus profile. More search engine and social media power with one simple click.

Activation: Settings/Compatible Software/Edit and scroll down to Social Networking. Click on "Preferences" for further detail. Change the appearance in buttons in Layout / Buttons / Edit. Visit Layout/Main Layout/Edit/Visibility Rules to select more visibility options.

Hot tip: Consider having your webmaster add Google +1 to your homepage also if you have not done so.

Benefits: Pin me please! This feature allows Pinterest members to pin your products onto their personal pin boards. Pinterest members and nonmembers alike can browse Pinterest boards, and when a browser clicks on your product's image, the image will lead them back to your shopping cart! What another fantastic channel for shopping traffic!

Activation: Settings/Compatible Software/Edit and scroll down to Social Networking. Click on "Preferences" to determine which image (Thumbnail, Main Image, or Large Image) is "pinned" for each product, and count box options.

Hot tip: Consider Pinterest one more huge reason to make your product images attractive, interesting, and worthy of sharing.

Benefits: Allows customers to easily bookmark your products, or add references to the corresponding products in popular social networking sites including Facebook, Twitter, Digg, MySpace, and many more, potentially driving more traffic to your site.

Activation: Settings / Compatible Software / Edit and scroll down to Social Networking. Select the appropriate options, then click finish. Go back through Settings / Compatible Software / Edit and scroll down to Social Networking and click on "Preferences" for further detail. Visit Layout / Main Layout / Edit / Visibility Rules to select visibility options.

Hot tip: Monitor your customers' use of the button by customers by signing up with AddThis. AddThis signup is free (not required), and if you enter your User Name at Settings / Compatible Software in the Nexternal OMS, you will have access to a set of AddThis analytics tools.

Benefits: The Nexternal Mail Wizard is a robust feature that makes it extremely easy to market to existing customers and effectively manage a large distribution list, ultimately saving time, reducing the potential for operator errors, and driving deeper customer relationships and higher sales. You can create bulk emails formatted in plain text or HTML, run promotions, and send important updates about your products. Also, in compliance with anti-spam laws, customers can unsubscribe from the mailing list so that the merchant does not harass customers that no longer wish to be contacted.

Activation: In the OMS, visit Customers, then the "Mail Wizard" button. Or, segment customers first by performing an advanced search/sort of your criteria, then select the "Mail Wizard" button, and select "Search Results".

Hot tip: Zap your customers with personalized messages based on their buying behavior, and draw them back to your store by combining Nexternal's Advanced Search with our Mail Wizard. The search feature enables you to identify extremely targeted customer segments based on order history (number of orders, orders of particular products, orders within categories of products, order date, number of items, etc). With just a few clicks, the results shoot into the mail wizard and you are ready to send those customers a targeted message or coupon. Send emails with links that go directly to specific products in your online store or even a link to the store that automatically activates a coupon.

Benefits: Give your customers what they need to promote and drive more traffic to your store. Activating the "Tell A Friend" feature is yet another Nexternal tool to help make customer promotion effortless. When the shopper clicks on this button by a product, an email template is populated containing a link, description, and photo of the product, and a customized optional message from the shopper to the recipient. This feature is frequently used during the holidays with messages like, "Hey Mom, this is what I want for Christmas."

Activation: In the OMS, go to Layout / Main Layout / Edit / Visibility Rules.

Benefits: An affiliate program is a formal system for rewarding the people and companies who send you business. Affiliate programs are also extremely attractive because compensation is entirely performance-based and the program is extremely easy to initiate in Nexternal. Nexternal's system allows you to approve/decline affiliates, track each affiliate's sales & payments due, and set individualized commission rates. For those that want a more automated approach, Nexternal's system can work easily with two popular affiliate sites - Commission Junction and ShareASale. If you choose to work with these partners, they will market your affiliate program and manage the payments to your affiliates, for a setup fee and percentage. If you prefer to run your program exclusively through Nexternal, you will need to market and manage payments of your affiliate program yourself, but the capability to use the program is built into your system and thus already included in your monthly Nexternal fees.

Activation: In the OMS, go to the Affiliates section. Click "New" and fill out the form to sign up an affiliate. Or, click "Signup form" and link to the generated URL from your website. When a new affiliate applicant fills out the form, his/her information is automatically inserted into your Affiliates database with a Status of Pending. An e-mail is also sent to the Primary Contact to notify you of this new applicant. You may mark the new affiliate as Active and set an appropriate commission at your convenience.

Hot tip: You can allow affiliates to link directly to a particular product in your store by navigating to Affiliates / Affiliate Name / Affiliate Links / Other URL. Now replace the "EncodedURL" with any product link. Product links can be found at Products / Product Name / Product Link.

Benefits: No more Excel export, copy and pasting, and uploading email lists. Nexternal clients can now quickly push customer data into MailChimp email lists with a few clicks, and even automatically push updated customer and affiliate information into predefined MailChimp Lists. The synch occurs every 10 minutes. Also, take advantage of MailChimp's advanced email marketing features, such as beautiful design templates, reporting and tracking features beyond those that are available when using the Nexternal Mail Wizard. The pricing is very affordable or even FREE based on the size of your mailing lists and number of blasts per month.

Activation: Follow the link in your OMS in Settings / Edit Compatible Software / MailChimp - click on the "Sign Up" link. Activate your MailChimp account, and define a mailing list or two in MailChimp. Then come back into Nexternal to push the appropriate customer list into MailChimp. Use the Advanced Search/Sort feature to select the customers you wish. For further details about how to set this up, visit our MailChimp partners page and watch the video.

Hot tip: Send an email specifically to customers who spent over a certain dollar amount or purchased a specific line of product, you can search for the customers within the Nexternal OMS then push the results directly to special lists inside MailChimp.

Benefits: Turn your customer base into your own personal sales army! With ReferralCandy, your current customers earn rewards (cash or coupons) for sending you new customers, while these new referred customers also receive a special discount. This is a great way to expand your customer base, as many double-sided referral incentive programs have proven to be very successful! You can also track the success of your program (number of invitations sent and read by customers, click-throughs, successful referrals, etc.) in a simple dashboard.

Activation: Sign up with ReferralCandy (two pricing plan options) and select Nexternal as your eCommerce provider. Visit our eCommerce blog and follow the steps in the post.

Hot tip: When choosing your customer rewards, we recommend choosing the Single Use Coupons option to prevent coupon sharing. We also suggest setting the "Total Usage Limit" Parameter to 1 when you create these coupons in your Order Management System. Also, this site is handy for generating unique string values for single use coupons.

Benefits: Enabling customers to write reviews of your products can increase consumer confidence which is proven to increase your conversion rate. It also provides you with valuable customer feedback about your products. Rating info is also passed in the Google Shopping data feed and search engines are using this information in organic search rankings.

Activation: In the OMS, go to Reviews / Setup (button at the top). You can also add or remove this feature from individual products by going to the products section, selecting the individual product and clicking the blue edit pencil. Select/unselect the check box that says "Reviewable Product". Visit Layout / Main Layout / Edit / Visibility Rules for more options.

Hot tip: Set up review reminders to automatically email customers a few days (or any time period you set) after they receive their products. Offer incentive, such as a coupon on a future purchase, for completing a review. This could also work doubly in your favor - more reviews for your products, and more back-end sales for your store.

Benefits: One of the best known ways to increase your company's overall sales is to increase the average amount sold per transaction. Facilitate up-sales online by recommending similar or related products in your store. "May we recommend accessory X?," on a product detail page for Product Y. Activate the "Related Products Upsell" feature and give customers a popup related product message before they complete the checkout process.

Activation: In the OMS, go to Products, click on a product name. Scroll down the product detail screen until you see "Related Products". Click "Add" button to associate that product with others. To activate the Upsell popup feature, visit Layout / Edit Main Layout / Products and scroll down to Product Detail, where you'll see a dropdown box for "Related Products Upsell Overlay". Visit Layout / General Layout / Labels to edit the Upsell popup text or the Related Products (product detail) text.

Hot tip: Smaller ticket items are more likely to sell as add-ons when customers have already decided to purchase something in a store. These are particularly effective when a customer receives an extra promotion, such as free shipping or a discount, when they reach a certain shopping cart volume. When choosing related products, mix similar products of scale, and less expensive products in your store's upsell.

Benefits: The Cart Addendum provides your company with an opportunity to tailor a dynamic message to a customer based on the contents of his or her shopping cart. It has a large range of potential uses, and can provide a powerful incentive for customers to buy more! An excellent use is notifying the customer that he/she is approaching an important threshold value at which a discount applies.

Activation: Settings / Edit Policies Addenda and Disclaimers / Cart Addendum. A coupon or discount will need to be set up separately (see eCoupons section for details). Our demo, FirstFairway.com utilizes the Dynamic Cart Addendum to let customers know that they get Free Shipping on Orders over $75. The formula message in that site is: Wait! Add CURRENCY(SUBTRACT(75,ORDER_NET)) of items to your order to qualify for FREE Ground Shipping!

Hot tip: Set up a coupon or discount for free/discounted shipping based on slightly higher than average order subtotal. Activate this feature to give customers one final nudge before checkout.

Benefits: Let's say that you compose some fantastic copy in an email about a specific product. The copy is so good that people will be sold from the email alone. How great would it be if you could have them add the product to their cart right from the email? With Add to Cart Links you can!

Activation: On the product detail screen in the OMS, you'll find three product links. One of them is the standard Add To Cart link. Copy it and use it in your next promotional email.

Hot tip: You can modify the value of the "AddQuantity" parameter to encourage people to buy more. You might have one link that says, "buy a bottle" an another that says, "buy a case." In the latter scenario you would set AddQuantity=12.

Benefits: Posting responses to common questions about a product can significantly reduce administrative overhead of responding to the same questions repeatedly. The additional information can also reduce the rate of product returns, and increase customer confidence, ultimately increasing sales.

Activation: In the OMS, go to Questions / Setup. Visit Layout / General Layout / Labels to edit the label text. To add/remove individual products from customer questions, select the product, click the blue edit pencil, and check/uncheck the "Allow Questions" box. Visit Layout / Main Layout / Edit / Visibility Rules for more options.

Hot tip: Keep track of questions your company receives through every sales channel - phone, email, web etc. Post relevant questions to your store, even if they are not received via web. Read your customers' questions and product reviews on a regular basis, as these can provide deeper insight into customers' needs and spark ideas for additional products to add to your store.

Benefits: Offering coupons is an excellent way to drive your company's back-end sales and convert one-time customers into repeat customers. The Nexternal eCommerce Platform allows merchants to create very sophisticated coupons, including or excluding certain products, categories, customer types, etc. Merchants can setup percentage-off coupons, flat rate coupons, free shipping coupons, free product with purchase coupons (which works really well), etc. Coupons can be set for a specific number of uses or can expire after a certain date.

Activation: In the OMS, go to Coupons, then the "New" button at the top.

Hot tip #1: Clear excess inventory by running a coupon promotion on an overstocked item. Use the advanced search/sort feature to identify the most relevant customers based on purchase history; use the mail wizard to contact them; and use the reporting feature to track the success of your campaign.

Hot tip #2: If you want your customers to be able to share coupons with their friends on social networks, visit Settings / Edit Compatible Software / Social Networking / Coupon Sharing and check the relevant social networks.

Hot tip #3: If you are sending coupons out via email, you should include the URL with coupon embedded so that the customer doesn't need to enter the code.

Benefits: Some products just hit the market right at the sweet spot. Put the spotlight on your most popular products and add more fuel to the fire, by creating a customized widget that pictures your best-selling products in real-time. The widget is created when you customize particular fields in your OMS, and add a small snippet of JavaScript (the Script Code) to the desired webpage, at the desired location on the page.

Activation: In the OMS, visit Products / Widget. Adjust the settings via the fields on the left side of the screen as desired, then click the Save button. Click the Get Script Code button and copy the displayed JavaScript code into the desired webpage, at the desired location on the page. Minimal HTML knowledge required.

Hot tip: Use Nexternal's demo B2C store, FirstFairway, as a basic starting point for styling the widget. The styles for in this example can be found here in this css file: http://www.firstfairway.com/widget2.css

Benefits: It is no secret that customers like to feel exclusive from time to time. Nexternal's Category Link Elevation and Product Link Elevation features enable you to hide categories and products from the general public and make them available only to people that have the direct category or product link. This is typically done through an email blast. This can all be done without the customer having to log in first.

Activation: In the OMS, edit an existing category or product that you want to promote just to your select group. Set the system so that the visibility is not available to your default customer type. Check the Category/Product Link Elevation Checkbox and click "Next" to commit your change.

Hot tip: Be sure to mention in your email that the product is only available to select customers. Also, keep in mind that if an order is not completed during the shopping session in which Category Link Elevation is activated, the elevated visibility persists for the customer for up to 30 days, along with the customer's Shopping Cart.

Benefits: On average, approximately two thirds of all online shopping sessions are abandoned. These are shoppers who had enough interest in a merchant's products that they began placing items into their cart, but left for a variety of reasons. Imagine if you could get them back? Nexternal's partner, Rejoiner, has an app that allows you to automatically email customers that have begun shopping, but not completed a purchase within a specified time period. You can set up an automated email follow up system remind and entice those shoppers to come back and finish what they started! Even a small percentage of recaptured sales on a repeated basis can mean big ROI!

Activation: Sign up for an account at Rejoiner.com and click on the "Implementation" tab. Copy your Rejoiner Tracking Snippet into the two locations below in your Nexternal OMS: Settings / Policies, Addenda and Disclaimers > Security Disclaimer, and 2) Settings / Policies, Addenda and Disclaimers > New/Edit Customer Addendum. Then go back to your Rejoiner implementation page and copy your Conversion Snippet. Plug your Conversion Snippet into your Nexternal OMS in Settings / Policies, Addenda and Disclaimers > Order/Addendum. Return to your Rejoiner dashboard and customize your recovery email campaign.

Hot tip: Cart Abandonment Experts at Rejoiner have suggested that a typical "starter" campaign should have 3 follow up emails: Remind (10 minutes after abandon), Reassure (24 hours after abandon), and Discount. Use a strong call to action to entice your customers to click through your recovery emails.