There are many marketing methods which have been introduced in specific before, such as word-of-mouth marketing, social media marketing, search engine marketing, etc. In addition, marketers need to create a content marketing strategy which influences how you reach your audience. Because content marketing strategy helps to bring in new customers, educate your target prospects, drive revenue, generate awareness, and help build a powerful brand for dropshipping business. What’s more, writing for the Content Marketing Institute, Julia McCoy mentions that a solid content marketing strategy can generate three times more leads than paid advertising. The article will introduce 8 steps to create a content marketing strategy.
1. Define Your Goals
Define your goals is a good starting point for your content marketing strategy. Whatever your content marketing goals are, be sure that they’re sustainable for the long-term and they actually connect to your organization’s overarching goals, mission, and vision. Furthermore, content marketing can serve many goals and you’ll have more success if you focus your efforts on the main goal.
There are some typical goals:
Making more sales
Getting more traffic
Increase site’s conversions
Increase brand awareness
Reduced marketing costs
Social media engagement
Retain and resell to current customers
And each goal has a complex set of key performance indicators. Except for the general goals, you also need to make the goals more specific and measurable based on the SMART criteria. And SMART criteria includes specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, time-bound. You can refer to the following.
Reach a certain sales target within the month, quarter, or year.
Get more visitors and signups for your websites.
Get a certain number of new email subscribers.
See an increase in site traffic and in engagement with your content.
Improve the search ranking of some of your key pages to help boost traffic.
Get a certain number of mentions, shares, and comments for your content.
2. Know Your Audience
You need to have a clear audience description that clarifies who your audiences are. In fact, 80% of content marketers are focused on audience building. By knowing your target audience, you can provide more relevant, informative and valuable content that they'll prefer to read and convert on. Besides, there are three actions you can taken.
①Collect demographic data
You can collect demographics which cover age, gender, education, income, etc on your visitors, email subscribers, and social media followers.
②Get customer feedback
Get more feedback from your current customers. Thus you can know more about your target audiences. Knowing how they feel about the current content and what is their urgent demand, you will understand your audiences’ priorities.
③Create buyer personas
Buyer personas also mean customer avatars, describe your ideal readers and customers so that you can target content better. And the best buyer personas include information on your customers’ pain points, challenges, sources of information, and behavioral motivators.
3. Choose The Main Content Channels
There is a graph showing the most effective channels that marketing content use to prospective customers from marketing charts.
The most common channel is email, and 82% of marketers consider it as the most effective. And after it are social media with 54% and website/blog with 51%. You can start with one or two channels and expand as you feel more comfortable.
And you can see some data in two ways to decide on which social media to target to get social media engagement and shares for your content. One is by Google Analytics, go to Acquisition => Social => Overview to see the main social media where your content is being shared. And the other is by Buzzsumo, go to its Content Analysis tool and type your domain name into the onscreen search box to see shares by social media network. You can see shares by content type or content length and top content in the last year as well.
4. Decide On Content Types
There are some of the most popular content types that marketers are creating.
Blog posts which goal is to attract visitors to a website are an essential part of your content marketing mix. And they deliver strong results. Ideally, your blog posts should be actionable, valuable, shareable, published regularly, and may include a range of article types. And generally, we recommend that blog posts be between 1,000 and 2,000 words in length. But experiment to see if your audience prefers longer or shorter reads.
Videos are a highly engaging content medium. It captures people's attention more than any other content types. And it is proven to engage your visitors to keep them on-site longer, improve lead generation, and reduce abandonment. Furthermore, videos are shareable across social media platforms and websites alike and 40X more likely to get shared on social media than other types of content. Acutally, 51% of marketing professionals worldwide name video as the type of content with the best ROI.
Ebooks are lead-generation tools that potential customers can download to learn more valuable information after submitting a lead form with their contact information. Typically, they are longer, more in-depth, and published less frequently than blog posts.
Case studies give you the opportunity to tell the story of a customer who succeeded in solving a problem by working with you to make others convince. It can take many different forms, such as blog post, ebook, podcast, etc.
Templates are a handy content format that provides tremendous value to your audience. When you provide them with template tools that can save them time and help them succeed, they will be more likely to keep engaging with your content later.
Infographics can organize and visualize data in a more compelling way than words alone. If you're trying to share a lot of data in a way that is clear and easy to understand, infographic is a good choice.
If you want more ideas, there are plenty of different content types to diversify your website.
5. Create a Content Calendar
It’s essential to use a content calendar to get all your content scheduled. There are several tools for you to do this. If you’re not publishing a lot of content, you can use Google Calendar and simply put the due dates for each piece of content there. Otherwise, you have to manage a content team and the production workflow you’ve decided on. And options for managing this include productivity and task management tools like Asana or a purpose-built editorial calendar tool like CoSchedule. You are allowed to schedule different parts of the content creation process by both of them.
6. Brainstorm Content Ideas
There are five steps to create the specific topics and keywords that your audience are looking for.
①Brainstorm topics and terms
It is a good point to start by writing down many blog post ideas your audience may be interested in. In the process, involve people who work directly with your users, such as a customer service or sales rep.
Take that big list and refine or group them together to see what looks good and what doesn’t make sense to your business goals.
④Build a spreadsheet and prioritize terms
Build a spreadsheet with the data you got in your tool like keyword, estimated search volume, difficulty and opportunity and assign a priority to each one. And think about which is most important to your business.
⑤Outline content that hits the 3 key needs
Take your top terms and outline content that will serve your goals, the user’s needs, and the keyword targeting. This is also an SEO-friendly content.
What’s more, there are some tools for you to brainstorm content ideas.
It’s important to keep in mind that content marketing strategy needs to be documented in a formal written guide. And in this way, you can refer to it as you move forward into the planning and execution stages.
It’s important to choose the eCommerce platform that works for you. And Shopify is one of the world’s most popular e-commerce platform, with 600,000+ businesses using it to open their online store. When you start a dropshipping business and open a Shopify store, you need to think about how do you get customers to find your store. You can use SEO to improve the search engine ranking for your store. The higher you rank in search engine results, the more traffic your store will have. This naturally leads to increased sales. The article will introduce 8 different ways to boost your Shopify store’s search engine rank. And for stores on other ecommerce platforms, the general ways are the same.
1. Choose Keywords And Put Them In Right Places
Keywords are the heart of SEO. Choose keywords so search engine like Google can find your products and also choose keywords that actually sales. You need to know what your target customers would search to find your products. Try the keywords between broad keywords and niche key phrases. And because you want searchers that will actually buy something, try modifying your keywords to include active words such as “buy”, “best”, ”cheap”.
It is a good idea to use Google Keyword Planner to see what people are searching for and mine Amazon, Google, and Wikipedia for keyword inspiration. And don’t forget to search the keyword in Google to check out the competition.
Then where to put your keywords? There are five important places.
The page title is the title that will appear on the search engine’s results page. The enticing keywords on page title will attract your target customers to click.
The meta description is the short piece of words that shows up underneath the title. Put the keywords here and make it descriptive and intriguing which will convince your target customers to click.
You can change the name of the image file with the keywords that describe the image for the search engine may not identify the image. And you can set image alt text.
④Headers and Titles
Your headers are one of the first places search engine looks to see what your store’s about. It is important that your product pages all have descriptive headers with your keywords.
Write unique and exciting product descriptions with keywords so that the search engine can find your page.
2. Optimize Your Site Structure
Your site structure determines the way your content is organized, which is crucial to SEO success. Try to make your site structure simplify and this will make it easier for search engines to crawl your site and rank your products. You can refer to the following structure which is SEO-friendly and simple.
There are only a few clicks from your home page to your products, which makes it easy and fast for your customers to find what they’re looking for and make it easy for search engines to crawl the site as well. And don’t forget about page and contact page to let customers and search engines know that the site is credible and trustworthy. In addition, your page should also cover a search box to help customers find what they’re looking for.
3. Increasing The Number Of Links To Your Store
External links are the backbone of good SEO. It is a good way to increase the number of links to your store for the reason that links to your store from other websites help search engines know that your site is popular and trustworthy. Though there are paid links, they don’t have a good result and might result in lower search rank.
There are some tips for you to increase the number of links to your store:
Look for opportunities to list your online store on other websites.
Maintain updated and interesting content to create a website that naturally gets linked to.
Build relationships with other websites and blogs so that you can ask for a link back. For example, ask the supplier for links.
Reach out to industry leaders and influencers for interviews to generate both links and content.
4. Submit Your Sitemap To Google Search Console
The sitemap is located at the root directory of your Shopify store's primary domain name. It contains links to all your products, product images, pages, collections, and blog posts. In short, it is a comprehensive list of all of the pages on your site. And it is used by search engines to index your site so that your store's pages appear in search results. Submitting your sitemap to Google Search Console helps Google knows about every page on your site and crawl and index valuable pages on your site. Furthermore, it gives Google a place to check for updates more quickly than a manual crawl.
5. Upgrade To SSL
SSL is important for security. By switching to total site SSL, you can get a small ranking boost because Google is pushing for better security all across the web. You can activate these by going to your Shopify dashboard =>Sales Channels => Online Store => Domains. Making an existing Shopify site secure is straightforward. And when migrating to SSL from a non-secure site on different platforms, you may need to undertake some additional technical work to make sure that you don't damage your position in search results. So look at Google’s guidelines on making the switch to SSL or communicate with Shopify’s support team.
6. Improve the Customers Experience
The longer you keep customers around on your site, the better search ranking and conversions you’ll have since Google looks at time-on-page as a marker of a site’s value. Make sure customers always have a place to go from page to page quickly. If site speed is fast, customers may spend more time on your site. To make your Shopify store faster, you can use a fast, mobile-friendly theme, use smaller, optimized images, remove any apps you’re not using, and avoid using sliders. It is also a good idea to use a responsive design which can greatly improve user experience and keep visitors on your site longer. Make sure your store looks great on any device, including desktop, tablets, and smartphones.
7. Take Advantage Of Content Marketing
Content marketing is one of the easiest ways to rank for more keywords and build backlinks. And it is helpful for both customers’ experience and SEO. Your content is a chance to make customers and potential customers get to know your brand. Every ecommerce stores need a content marketing strategy that reaches out to their target audience on their website, Instagram, YouTube, Facebook, or whichever social media channels are your preferred options. And the content can be how-to videos, FAQs, stunning photography, and informative articles.
8. Use The Best Shopify SEO Apps And Tools
There are some best Shopify apps and tools that you can use to boost your store’s search engine rank. You can use SEO apps to identify where there may be Shopify SEO problems with your site including your images, such as SEO Image Optimizer and Plug in SEO. What’s more, you can use SEO tools that make life easier when building your site to be as search-friendly as possible. From tools that help you identify keywords which can also an alternative to Google Keyword Planner to those that help you optimize video and images, these useful tools, such as Keywordtool.io, Ahrefs, can cut down the time it takes for you to get your store in shape.
Business name, domain name, brand logo are all essential to build a brand for your ecommerce websites. Your domain name is your website’s home address on the Internet. It’s important to choose a domain name that not only works for your business but also easy to find and promote. Your domain name is the first thing your visitors will see and a good domain name will make a positive and lasting impression. What’s more, keywords in your domain name can help your SEO ranking. And the right domain name can increase brand recognition. Make sure to put some careful thought into choosing your domain name. The article will introduce steps to choose a domain name and give some tips for you to choose a good domain name.
Steps To Choose A Domain Name
1. Choose keywords that represent your site
You can generate ideas for a domain name based on your site’s name or your existing business. Most importantly, you should choose one or more keywords that represent your site and content. A strong keyword is a key ingredient of a truly effective domain name. Using keywords in your domain name can bring in more traffic by helping your site rank more highly in search engine results. Furthermore, keywords can help potential visitors better understand your site’s focus and business. It’s a good idea to use tools like Google Keyword Planner, Keywordtool.io and KWFinder to search for terms that have both a high search volume and low competition ideally.
2. Use a domain name generator to browse your options
As long as you have a few keywords, you can use a domain name generator to brainstorm ideas for your domain name and make sure that all its suggestions are available for purchase. These generators turn your ideas into fresh, available domains.
Here are some of domain name generators that you can try out:
IsItWP offers a fast and instant domain research tool. Start by entering a few keywords or your brand name and it will display a ton of domain ideas using a variety of combinations.
3. Select the best domain name based on some simple criteria
You should select the best domain name based on some simple criteria which will be introduced in specific in the following tips for choosing a domain name. There are six tips for you to refer to, including use the right domain name extension, make it short and easy to pronounce and spell, brandable over generic, avoid numbers and hyphens, avoid double letters, and check availability on social media sites and trademarks.
4. Register your domain name
Then all you need to do is buy the domain name based on the hosting provider you decide to use. You can usually purchase a domain name during the process of signing up for a hosting plan. What’s more, you can buy a domain separately through a dedicated registrar or hosting company. And you don’t have to get your hosting and domain name from the same place. There are hundreds of domain name registrars online, such as Domain.com and GoDaddy.
Domain.com is one of the best domain registrars on the market. They offer all top-level domain names, with a smart search feature, premium domains, and all the necessary tools to manage your domain names.
GoDaddy is the largest domain registrar in the world. They manage over 63 million domain names for over 14 million customers.
There are plenty of domain name extensions available today, from the original .com, .net and .org to niche extensions like .pizza, .photography, and even .blog. Among them .com is still the most established and credible domain name extension. Go with .com is still the best choice for it is the most familiar and easiest to remember. Users are conditioned to type .com at the end of every website. If your website was sally.photography, and your users typed in sallyphotography.com, then they might end up on an error page or worst your competitor’s website.
2. Make it short and easy to pronounce and spell
One of the biggest reason for the lost traffic is typos. In the case of typos, when choosing a domain name, it’s extremely important that your domain name is short, under 15 characters ideally and easy to spell and pronounce. Then if you’re ever in a public place without a business card, you can easily share your website and others will be able to remember and find it. It also makes it easier for visitors to share your domain name by word-of-mouth. Tell 10 people your potential domain name and ask them to pronounce it and spell it to see if they have struggled.
3. Brandable over generic
It is important for your domain name to brandable so that it can stand out in people’s mind. Your domain name is the foundation of your brand. A brandable domain name is unique and stands out from the competition, while a generic domain name is usually stuffed with keywords and unmemorable. You can make up your own catchy, new words like what Google, Bing, and Yahoo did. It is also a good idea to use a thesaurus to find interesting words that fit your brand.
4. Avoid numbers and hyphens
Numbers and hyphens are often misunderstood for people who hear your website address don’t know if you’re using a numeral or it’s spelled out or they misplace or forget to add the hyphen. Hyphens and numbers also make it more difficult to pronounce and spell thus are prone to more typos. They also prevent your domain from spreading quickly. So stick to the letters.
5. Avoid double letters
Avoid domain names with doubled letters for the reason that it increases your chances of losing traffic to typos. And most domain name generators are not smart enough to avoid doubled letters, so it’s for you to keep in mind when choosing the domain name.
6. Check availability on social media sites and trademarks
It is necessary to check to see if the name is available on social media sites and if there are any trademarks already registered to the name. You can use a tool like Knowem to check social networks and trademarks for your potential domain name quickly. It’ll show you if it’s available throughout over 25 popular social networks, as well as trademarks.
It is widely known that brand is important for dropshipping business. To build a brand effectively, except for the brand logo or brand name design, it is necessary and essential to write a brand plan to execute the brand strategies better. In specific, a well-written brand plan focuses on an organization's brain-trust, resources and tactics in the direction they need to go in order for a brand to achieve its goals. It combines functions such as marketing, sales, product development and outline what each group needs to do for the brand to be successful. What’s more, it sets goals that operations and finance need to support. Thus everyone drives against the same vision, key issues, strategies, and tactics. The article will introduce how to write a brand plan for your dropshipping store.
Answer Five Questions
An effective brand plan answers where we are, why we are here, where we might be, how we get there, and what we need to do. By answering these five strategic questions, you will find that you have your own analysis, key questions, vision, goals, strategy, execution, and measurement. You can write 2-3 bullet points for each of the questions and you will have a rough draft outline to ensure the overall flow of the plan.
Consider Elements Of The Brand Plan
In fact, the five questions above can reflect the elements of the brand plan. You can write a brand plan based on the elements. The image below shows the corresponding relation.
There is a saying by Yogi Berra, “if you don’t know where you’re going, you might not get there”. The vision answers “where could we be” with the balance of aspiration (stretch) and reality (achievement). You can also understand it as long term purpose or goals that define your success. A good vision should excite you a lot rather than scare you a little. Ideally, it is both qualitative and quantitative, which is appreciable measurable respectively. At least 5-10 years or more than the vision can last. And the vision should be easy for everyone to understand and rally around. Don’t mix vision with the mission. The mission is more specific and about how will you get to where you want to be.
2. Situation Analysis
Situation analysis is the foundation of a marketing plan which answers “where we are” in the market. It includes a thorough examination of internal and external factors affecting business, such as the category, consumer, competitors, channels, brand and a current market scenario like what value your product intends to bring into the mark. You can summarize what is driving the business, what’s holding it back and then lay out the risks and untapped opportunities. Try to use SWOT analytical method and focus on the top 3-4 points which cover strength, weakness, opportunities, and threats. By creating an overview of the organization, you will have a better understanding of the factors that will influence its future.
3. Key Issues
Key issues answer “why are you here” and can be found by answering the four questions.
①What is the CORE STRENGTH your brand can win on?
②How tightly CONNECTED is your consumer to your brand?
③What is your current COMPETITIVE position?
④What is the current business SITUATION your brand faces?
After having deep-dive analysis on the answers to the four questions, you will have a good start on your competitive, brand, consumer and situational issues.
Strategies answer “how to get there”. You need to make choice at the strategic level when facing limited resources in terms of dollars, time, people and partnerships. A customer may experience different periods for your brand, from unknown, indifferent, purchase, like it, to be loyal. And in different periods, you should make different strategies.
When customers are unknown about your brand, you should catch the attention of them by launching events, advertise, etc. So customers will see the brand in the crowd. At the Indifferent stage, focus on establishing your brand position in the consumers’ mind and create an option for them. Then customers may have the interest to purchase your brand’s products. At the moment, you should take strategic work to separate your brand from the pack to build trust following with each happy purchase. After purchase, customers may like your brand. Don’t hesitate to drive a deeper connection with them. At last, customers may be loyal to your brand and you should try to get your loyal customers to speak on the brand’s behalf. Mobilize brand fans as advocates.
Execute answers “What do we need to do”. It matches up marketing execution activity to the brand strategy. There is no doubt that execution needs to create a bond with consumers who connect with the soul of the brand, establish your brand’s reputation based on a distinct positioning, influence consumers to alter their behavior to think, feel or act, etc. Then your brand will be stronger. You can start with a Consumer Buying System that can match your brand’s Marketing execution to where your consumer stands with your brand. Focus your marketing activities by comparing each strategy’s impact on business and difficulty level to implement. Then you will know what is a priority to execute.
It is essential to find the right shipping strategy when you start a dropshipping business and open a dropshipping store on ecommerce platforms. Shipping strategy involves shipping time, shipping methods, and shipping cost. Keeping shipping costs down is quite important for both your business and customers. Research your competitors and see what they are offering about shipping price strategy. Even the most loyal of customers can be tempted by potential savings on shipping, so offer something comparable or better. The article will introduce the most commonly used and popular shipping price strategies for dropshippers. Then you can choose a shipping price which increases sales and happy customers so that you can set shipping rates for your dropshipping store.
Shipping Price Strategies
There are four strategies that you can use to handle shipping rates for your dropshipping store.
1. Free Shipping
You may feel pressure to offer free shipping for your dropshipping store. Amazon Prime has trained consumers to not see shipping as a necessary expense when shopping online. In fact, free shipping is not free. It is simply a psychological strategy to make customers feel like they are getting a good deal and encourage customers to buy more. Many dropshippers include shipping costs in their products’ price so there isn’t a loss in profits and still maintaining positive profit margins.
So how to make free shipping a reality? For a small business, it may be difficult to offer unconditional free shipping and returns. But there are three ways that you can refer to create some opportunities for free shipping.
①Offer free shipping only during the holidays
In general, there may be a surge of sales during the months of October through December. During this season, you perhaps have high enough profit margins to accommodate the shipping costs. Offer free shipping during the holidays is also a great way to drive sales to your store, even over your competitors.
②Set a minimum shopping cart value
You can set a minimum shopping cart value so that a customer must reach the lowest amount to be eligible for free shipping. Determine the minimum order value that still allows you to make a profit. Many of the biggest online shopping marketplaces, such as Amazon, Walmart, enforce minimum order values for customers to qualify for free shipping.
③Make shipping free for customers who subscribe to your email lists
It is also a good way to make shipping free for customers who subscribe to your email lists. Subscribers will receive emails and know about your newest products, sales, and marketing efforts. And your customers will become long-term shopping and contribute to more sales.
2. Flat Rate Shipping
Flat Rate Shipping can be easily implemented and offer a calculated way of managing your costs. You can take the average of the shipping costs of the products you are selling on your dropshipping store to decide on your flat rates. If you sell a wide variety of products with different sizes and weights, offer different flat rates by dividing your products into groups. Separate your products by weight or price range and add in all the associated shipping costs and calculate each groups’ average.
With flat rate shipping, you will definitely pay more or less. And when you start getting steady sales, you can find popular products and adjust your shipping rates accordingly. And there are three ways to deal with your internal shipping costs, for you may pay more with flat rate shipping.
①Take the shipping cost out of your profit margin.
To know your profit margins, you need to know the following elements:
Total Orders Received
Average Price per Order
Average Profit Margin
Shipping Fees per Order
Shipping Costs per Order
②Increase the price of the product to include some of the shipping cost.
③Pass some of the shipping cost on to your customer as a shipping line item in the order.
For the average store that ships average-sized, normal products, the best choice is to set a flat rate shipping cost for your entire store. The “sweet spot” appears to be $5.00. Once you know the shipping cost of your product, take $5.00 off that price and increase the price of your product by the difference.
3. Actual Shipping Cost
Pass the actual shipping cost to your customer is the simplest strategies to avoid you losing any money. If you are working with a supplier that calculates and reveals shipping costs per product, you can easily add the actual shipping cost to your dropshipping store.
However, the separate shipping cost that they must pay for each product may lead to many abandoned carts. The other big problem with the actual shipping cost is sticker shock. In fact, the actual shipping cost to you is much more than the average person expects. Something small and lightweight like headphones with an average of about $9 to ship by FedEx. If you pass through the entire shipping price for the order to your customers, they will think you charge too much for shipping. So be careful if you use actual shipping cost and be sure that you are monitoring your traffic to see how people are reacting to the shipping costs.
And when is actual shipping cost OK?
There are certain scenarios that may be appropriate to use it.
①If you sell the exact same product as your competitors and you want to compete on product price, take the entire shipping price out of your advertised product price. You may have an edge in this way.
②If you sell very expensive yet lightweight, small, and easy to ship products, pass through the entire shipping cost to the customer may be alright. It is because the shipping price is just a small percentage of the total order.
③If you offer multiple shipping methods such as ground, 2 days, and overnight shipping and you introduce faster but more expensive shipping methods like overnight shipping, customers can generally accept the actual shipping cost.
4. Promotional or Tiered Shipping
Tiered or Promotional Shipping is a combination of all three that introduced above. Only after you have had significant data and analytics to understand what works for each scenario you can use it. It allows you to offer a promotion right when you know it will make the most sense for your business, such as resonate best and end in more sales. And promotional strategies like free shipping on orders over $50, or free shipping on all T-shirts for the month of January.
If you start a dropshipping business and open an ecommerce store, then you’re going to need a payment gateway. Payment gateways play an important role in the online payment processing system. And if you use the wrong gateway to accept payments from your customers, you will make your entire payment process on a downward spiral. Without a payment gateway, you won’t be able to securely charge your customers. And a payment gateway can also provide you with security, reliability, dependability. The article will introduce everything about payment gateway, including what is a payment gateway, how do payment gateways work, its features, limitations and types, top payment gateways, as well as how to pick the right payment gateway.
What Is A Payment Gateway
A payment gateway is a merchant service provided by an e-commerce application service provider. It can not only be provided by banks to their customers but also can be provided by specialized financial service providers as separate services, such as payment service providers. Payment gateway is similar to a POS terminal found in many retail establishments. Besides, it authorizes electronic credit card and Automated Clearing House (ACH) payments to provide seamless payment processing for businesses. Furthermore, it facilitates payment transactions through the transmission of information between a payment portal, such as a mobile phone, a website, or interactive voice response service, and a front-end processor or receiving bank. Payment gateways encrypt and store sensitive data to ensure that confidential information is safe when processing payments.
And there are three main elements of a payment processing system, including Payment Gateways, Payment Processors and Merchant Accounts. What are the key differences between them? There is a summary:
1. Payment gateway
Connects your eCommerce store to the payment processor and sends a transaction request to the payment processor.
2. Payment processor
Processes the request from the gateway and executes it. Take the money from the customer and deposit it in your merchant account or an account managed by a third-party.
3. Merchant account
It is where the funds get deposited after a successful transaction. There is no doubt that it is optional and you don't need to have one as an eCommerce business.
How Do Payment Gateways Work
The payment gateway process follows six steps which take only a couple seconds.
2. Payment gateway sent encrypted information to the payment processor, which actually processes the transaction.
3. Processor routes the transaction data to the credit card association.
4. The Processor sends an “approved” or “declined” response back to the payment gateway.
5. Transaction becomes authorized and the issuing bank then transmits the authorization back to the parties in the payment processing system.
6. Take between 24 to 48 hours for the funds to be available in your account.
Payment Gateway Features
In addition to processing online payments, payment gateways also have other features:
1. Payment Information Storage
Payment gateways can store the encrypted payment information securely. Thus the customers don’t need to constantly rewrite their information.
All payment gateways encrypt sensitive payment information before they transmit it to the processing bank.
3. Virtual Terminal
A virtual terminal is a browser-based version of a physical credit card terminal which allows you to input a customer’s credit card information. It can process the transaction directly through your computer’s web browser, even use a mobile device through an online web form. Processing rates will always drop when the card is present.
Payment gateways can integrate with other tools, such as accounting software like Quickbooks, shopping platforms like Shopify.
5. Recurring Billing
Subscription-based pricing is becoming popular payment gateway increasingly. The subscription provides a recurring billing feature that you can automate this process.
6. API Tools and Developer Information
Most payment gateways give you the chance to customize it to fit your specific needs on the technical side.
7. PCI Compliance
Payment gateways are PCI compliant so that you can accept payments securely and avoid costly fines.
Limitations of Payment Gateways
1. Gateways rarely accept all types of cards or payments
Many payment gateway providers like to advertise the universality of their gateways. However, the truth is that gateways rarely accept all types of cards or payments. And they won’t highlight when they can’t accept payments from specific card issuers and processing portals.
2. Gateways may be not optional for international customers
Different countries may have different popular payment gateways. If you look to capture broad international customers, you need to make sure your payment gateway can handle it.
3. Security flaws
A high-quality payment gateway is secure generally. However, there are some security vulnerabilities that you need to keep in mind.
TLS encryption helps most payment gateways process privileged data, such as card information. But once the data is on the server, the server remains a risk.
Mobile payment issues
You may control most of the security in a transaction, but you still can’t control who has access to a customer's mobile device.
It reads passwords and infiltrates user accounts. And it can still send apparently real transactions through secure payment gateways, even if the transactions themselves are fraudulent.
3 Types of Payment Gateways
When the gateway takes a customer to a PayPal or other payment page to handle the complete transaction, it becomes a “Redirect”. It is simple for the retailer. A small business can use a redirect-gateway to incorporate the convenience and security of a major platform such as PayPal. However, the process also means less control for the merchant.
2. Checkout on site, payment off-site
Likes Stripe’s payment gateway, the front-end checkout will happen on your site. And the payment processing occurs through Stripe’s back end. It also has advantage of simplicity. However, you can’t control the user’s entire experience through the payment gateway which will make you at the mercy of the quality of the offsite gateway and its quirks
3. On-site payments
On-site payments make the checkout and payment processing on behalf of the customer all work through your system. Large-scale businesses tend to use it and will have more control and more responsibility. When you handle your payments on-site, it’s necessary that you understand your options and responsibilities.
5 Top Payment Gateways
There are the top 5 payment gateways in the market:
A perfect name for your business matters a lot. When it comes to starting a dropshipping business, making a perfect name for your dropshipping store is a crucial first step to building a memorable and profitable brand. The name will definitely become your business’s identity and will appear everywhere on your website, logo design, business cards, advertisements, products or services, and many other materials. It should be such that it distinguishes your dropshipping business identity from your competitors and can be remembered by customers easily. The article will introduce ways to come up with the business names, tips for making the business names as well as tools to generate the business names.
Ways To Come Up With Business Names
Brainstorming is a creative process that needs to think outside the box and can be done independently or with others. There are no bad ideas.
You can brainstorm by yourself. Research what already exists, such as check out your competitors, browse for markets like Exchange, and list your favorite business names, to see if they inspire any ideas of your own.
You can also organize a fun brainstorming session and invite your friends, family, or employees to take part in and contribute ideas. Start by using some words that define your industry and products or services you deliver. Once you have a lot of ideas, you need to go back and sort them out to find the best. When you list your thoughts, consider using a word bank to organize them or categorize them by topic, that also helps to generate new ideas after brainstorming.
Combine your various words with partial words. Don't be judgmental. Just write various combinations down on paper. And review the lists to see if there is a combination that gives you a good impression when you see and hear it. Or you can share the lists with someone you trust to ask for their opinions and how they feel about them.
It also a good idea to try using the first letter of every word in a phrase or parts of words or names. For example, AOL (America Online), BENQ (Bringing Enjoyment and Quality to life), and BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation).
And take a symbol or an essential element of your work and try a new name starting from that word, just like Pixar, a combination of the word pixel and the initials of one of its founders, Alvy Ray Smith.
In addition, mix two or more words that are meaningful for you and your business. For example, Compaq (from “computer” and “pack”), Groupon (from “group” and “coupon”), and Evernote (from “forever” and “note”).
3. Use mythology, literature, map or dictionary
It is a good idea to get inspiration from mythology, literature and map. Some famous brand names are about Greek and Roman legends, such as ASUS (from the mythical winged horse Pegasus) and Nike (the goddess of Victory). Furthermore, a character, place or object can also be a good start for a name, such as Samsonite (from the Bible character Samson), Starbucks (from Starbuck, the young chief mate of the Pequod, in Moby Dick).
You can also find out the Greek and Latin translations of your words. Figure out colors, gems, plants, or animals associated with your language to find unique yet appropriate associations and words that can be incorporated into names.
What’s more, use a world map to get inspired, such as Amazon (named after the largest river in the world, by volume of water), Adobe (after the Adobe Creek, running close to the founder’s house), and Fuji (named after the highest mountain in Japan).
Lastly, you could do as Blizzard and Twitter did and just pick a random word from a dictionary.
Tips For Making Business Name
1. Pick an easy name
Use the words that are simple and short and are easy to pronounce and write so that everyone can remember your business names, such as Apple, Southwest, and Virgin. An easy name also makes word-of-mouth communication easier because people can quickly remember and can tell it to others.
2. Available as adomain
You need to make sure that an appropriate domain name is available, ideally, YourCompanyName.com. Customers tend to associate a .com name with a more established business. It is necessary that your URL and business name match to fill your customers with confidence in case that your customers think of spams and web security. And you can check on the availability of a domain name on sites such as GoDaddy.com or NetworkSolutions.com.
3. Test your name
After you have picked a business name, you should test your name to find out if it is a perfect name by knowing people’s reaction. Share the selected name with your family members, trusted friends, even with your potential customers to see if they give good feedback. If the reaction is positive, then go ahead with the choice of the word or word phrase.
You can also test the name on Google AdWords which will list similar phrases along with the global and local monthly searches made for that keyword so that you can ensure that your company name is not already used on the web by others.
4. Avoid literal names
Avoid having a literal name for your business even if it lets consumers instantly know what you produce. You may have a business change later. A good idea is to opt for the word that a little abstract in the sense that it does not spell out your products or services. In other words, use a word that only gives the consumers a hint of what your company does.
5. Avoid geographic names
Avoid the situation that your business name consists of some geographic names unless that you are trying to establish a strong local affinity with a location, such as a neighborhood bar. Your business name should have a universal appeal for your business will grow in the future and cross the geographical boundary.
Tools To Generate Business Names
However, if you don’t have any ideas, or if you’ve hit a creative block, tools to generate business name are great to use to get inspiration for your own ideas and build off of what the generators present to you.
Social media marketing is a great way to help you build engaged audiences. It also helps to create multiple sources of traffic that continually bring in visitors. What's more, it can increase your brand awareness and grow your business. It is as important as your products, your suppliers, your brand, your domain name, and all those other essential elements that you’ll need to create a successful business. Platforms like Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram are invaluable tools. The article will introduce how to build a social media strategy for your dropshipping business.
How To BuildASocial Media Strategy
There is a framework to lay the foundation of building a social media marketing strategy.
1. Setting your goals
You need to set your goals first, which means define the outcomes of your efforts and how you’ll measure them. A great tactic for setting achievable goals is to use the S.M.A.R.T. framework which includes Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound. And it is a good idea that you measure metrics may lead to sales, like the number of leads generated or conversion rate.
There are some social media marketing strategy’s goals for you to consider:
①Increase brand awareness: Widen your reach to more people so that the possibility of the brand getting seen by target audiences will be increased. You can measure this by impressions.
②Motivate interest in your products: With relevant inspiration or education, you can motivate target audiences interest in your products. You can measure this by clicks.
③Get more email subscribers: Get more subscribers to your mailing list which you can retarget with ads.
④Provide customer service: Provide support to customers when they have questions, complaints, and inquiries. You can measure this by response time for direct messages.
⑤Establish social proof: Social media posts and comments from your customers can be a gold mine of positive reviews and testimonials for your dropshipping store.
⑥Build an engaged following: Build an authentic community of people who are interested in your products and grow an engaged audience. You can measure this by engagement rate.
⑦Drive more traffic: Make your followers to click links to your blog or store to boosts traffic and increases the chances of a purchase.
⑧Form partnerships: Engage with influencers or like-minded brands for influencer marketing or co-marketing campaigns.
⑨Get more sales: Getting sales directly from social media. You can measure this by the number of orders or revenue.
2. Identifying your target audiences
Research your target audience thoroughly. Look for demographic and psychographic data or observable patterns about them that will help you form a mental image of who will likely be interested in and will buy your products.
There are some datas for you to consider and whether to choose is depend on your products:
Motivation to buy
3. Coming up with content
Planning and come up with your content mix in advance helps you conceptualize and produce your content so that you offer both a constant posting schedule and various content types.
The content mix can cover:
①News: Information about what’s happening or trending in your industry or posts.
②Inspiration: Motivation to use your products and personalize your brand.
③Education: Share tutorials, or how-to posts from your blog or video channel.
④Product/promotional posts: Show high-quality product shots, demo videos, testimonials, or feature explanations of your products to get sales.
⑤User-generated content: Content that your customers generate about your products, such as testimonials, reviews or photos of them.
⑥Contests and giveaways: Make a contest and giveaway something and get emails.
⑦Customers connect: Shots or videos featuring your customers or just greet with your followers.
⑧Community events: Share meetups, fundraisers, or learning opportunities, especially if you’re a local business.
⑩Polls or quizzes: Similar to Q&A posts but the answers come from you.
⑪Behind the scenes: Share how your product is made or what you’re doing to grow your business.
And there are some tips for coming up with the right content mix to post on your social media.
①Vary your post types rather than focus on promotional posts
Always ask this question whenever you’re planning content: How can I consistently add value to my followers and target audience aside from my products? When new followers land on your account, their perception of your brand will likely be your last 3-6 posts, if they are all sales posts, followers will be bored and turn it off.
②Start with 5-7 content archetypes
Balancing your content mix with post archetypes that you can quickly create with content types that might a bit more difficult to produce. For example, content types like Q&A posts, customer-sourced content, and sharing content from your blog can be mixed with harder content types like a product demonstration video, as well as posts that aim for sales and posts that just seek to delight and grow your audience.
③Set up a content calendar
You can organize your schedule by setting up a content calendar which is helpful in planning out your content. Scheduling posts in advance that will take time and resources to create gives you ample time to set them up. You need to plan how frequently you post on social media and which content types seem to draw engagement from your followers.
4. Choosing prioritize channels
There are many social media channel and you need to prioritize what you’ll be focusing on when you start out based on the target audience you've identified and which channels can support your content archetypes and your goals. It is important to understand the strengths and weaknesses of each channel. Take some time to learn and test one or two platforms at a time and focus on one or two channels. If you have other time and ability, you can start content marketing such as a blog which can be content posts on social media. And optimize your profiles and fill out your social profiles with all the information your customers might want and try to claim the same username on every platform, especially a unique tracking link to your website.
There are brief introductions of the main channels:
Facebook is also one of the most widely used social media apps by a broad range of consumers. It has many features such as facebook Shop, customer reviews, and Facebook Messaging for customer service. For its prioritization social interactions with individuals instead of businesses, unless you pay to promote your posts, you won’t be able to reach many people. It also has a database of information that you can use to deliver targeted ads to your ideal customers.
Instagram, whose users are millennials, lets you focus on building a following through a variety of visual mediums. You can post images and videos with hashtags as well as share moments through Instagram Stories and Instagram Live. It is a good idea for you to post the highest quality visuals along with compelling captions to boost your user engagement and it's possible to get pretty good results without necessarily paying. However, Instagram doesn’t allow you post clickable links in captions or comments. You can work around this by taking out paid ads that will allow you to post ads with CTAs linking out to your store.
Twitter might not be as strong as a sales channel for many brands, but can be used to showcase your brand’s personality. You can network with other brands, journalists, and connect with potential and existing customers on a smaller scale through Twitter. Your followers can just reply to your tweets, or ask you questions and give you feedback while mentioning your Twitter name. This feature to communicate real-time gives you the opportunity for social customer service.
5. Creating a process to execute
It is necessary to collect ideas and plan content using soft wares such as Trello which can save ideas, attached links, files, and notes to each idea. And then, scheduling content about when, where, and how often to post contents using a tool like Buffer, Hootsuite, Later.
Popular posting times will vary depending on seasons and other variables. If you need a good place to start, think about when people check their feeds: in the morning, at lunch, during their commute, before bed. As for post contents, start slow and then ramp up to a higher frequency as you develop your routine and figure out what works. Try to schedule your posts in batches, at least a week in advance.
Holidays are a great opportunity to be topical and timely with what you post. Pay special attention to what’s coming up so you can brainstorm social media marketing ideas in advance.
You may worry about or encounter to the long shipping time orders with the dropshipping model for the reason that you can’t control the shipping period. If the shipping time is too long, you may be complained by your customers, even it has bad influence on your sales. However, there are some ways to have a better deal with a long shipping time. The article will introduce the typical shipping times, the importance of shipping times, and how to deal with long shipping times when dropshipping.
Typical Shipping Times
The shipping times are depending on where the item is sent from exactly and where it is going. Usually, if you are shipping to the United States with Aliexpress, regular shipping will be 19-39 days and if you do ePacket, it will be 12-20 days. These are very long shipping times. Sometimes, if you are shipping outside of the United States, the shipping can be as long as 60 days. And if the package gets lost, it will be more than 60 days. There is a web page that you can calculate the shipping time according to the item’s weight and size as well as the destination with different shipping methods. And it shows that CJ series are faster and cheaper by contrast.
The Importance of Shipping Times
It is obvious that shipping times are important. Customers are getting used to quite fast shipping these days, especially with Amazon Prime delivery, so there seems to be less tolerance for long shipping times. Usually, the longer your customers are waiting for their order, the bigger the chance is that they are going to ask for a refund.
However, long shipping times actually do not have a drastic effect on your sales if you deal with them well. Compared with worried about the long shipping times, you’d better know how to deal with the long shipping times when dropshipping, then long shipping times will not reduce the conversion rates.
Ways to Deal With Long Shipping Times
1. Choose Right Shipping Method And Suppliers
The best way to deal with long shipping times when dropshipping is to use faster shipping methods, such as use CJPacket and ePacket which provide a fast and affordable shipping option for light packages, if they are available and to look if you can find a supplier with the lowest processing time. Processing time is basically the time it takes before your supplier sends out the order. The lower the processing time, the shorter the delivery time for your customer. Usually, the processing time is between 1-7 days, related to the products and suppliers. You can ask your suppliers for the processing time, and check if there are suppliers using shorter processing time for the same products. In addition, it’s a good idea to choose suppliers who are able to ship with cheaper, faster services.
2. Make Shipping Times Transparent
You should be honest about your shipping times. Don’t make your shipping times a mystery. If the product worthy to be waited, the customer will not care about the shipping time that you have said and they have psychological prepare. However, if you don’t mention anywhere on your site or emails about shipping times, customers will get pissed off and think they’re being scammed, which may potentially ruin your dropshipping business.
So, how to write about your shipping times and where to write your shipping times?
You can have a description like this to show your shipping times, “We know a quick delivery is important to you and we are working hard to achieve that. But please be patient, all orders are normally shipped out within 72 hours and will take approx. 2-4 weeks to arrive from shipment.”.
There are multiple places that you can write your shipping times:
On your FAQ page. You can state your shipping times under a question like “When can I receive my package?”.
On your Product Descriptions. You can add your shipping times to your product descriptions. Or you can show an estimated delivery date.
On the order confirmation page. You can put shipping time after the order details on the order confirmation page, as well as show your sincere service.
Shipping Policy. You can add a Shipping Policy to your store, just like your Refund Policy. Then you can have all the information about your shipping in there.
In the shipping confirmation email. You can also add shipping times in the shipping confirmation email.
3. Have Good Customer Service
Having good customer service is an efficient way to deal with the long shipping times. Customer service could make or break the future of your dropshipping store.
①Reply to customers ASPS
Sometimes, customers may ask questions like where their packages are, you should keep in mind that try to reply them as soon as possible and when you are replying to customers, try to be polite and send tracking information to them.
②Update delivery to customers
You can also keep your customers updated about their delivery. Update to your customers as soon as the shipping status of their order changes. Some Shopify apps, such as Aftership, Trackr, Tracktor can help you update the shipping status.
③Make the refund policy
It is also a good idea to make the refund policy very clear which will increase your customer trust when the return policy is clearly stated on the product page. Kindly explain that you will make 100% refunds if the product is not delivered within this period of time of 30 - 45 days or 60 days.
4. Offer A Discount For The Serious Delay
If there is a serious delay, you should offer a discount on your own initiative which can reduce the customers’ complains and even make them happy. There is data that 99.5% of shipping complaints can be resolved in this way. And if your customers ask for refunds, follow your standard returns and refunds policy, as well as offer a discount.
Finding the right suppliers is one of the most important aspects of starting a dropshipping business. Sellers are dependent on the third party, such as wholesalers, suppliers, and distributors, that handle fulfillment for the sells’ orders. Thus it is important to realize that the quality and overall reliability of dropshipping suppliers will break a dropshipping eCommerce store. As a bad supplier can destroy all the hard work and credibility that you have achieved, a good one will multiply your shop’s value. The article will introduce what are good suppliers, how to find dropshipping suppliers, and what to consider when choosing dropshipping suppliers.
What Are Good Suppliers
Good suppliers tend to have many common attributes, as the following says.
1. Dedicated Professional SupportRepresentatives
Good suppliers have knowledgeable sales representatives who really know the industry and their product lines. And they should assign you an individual sales representative who is responsible for taking care of you and any issues you have timely.
2. Invested in Technology
Technology has many benefits and good suppliers recognize it and invest in it heavily to help and ease the business. Features such as real-time inventory, a comprehensive online catalog, customizable data feeds, and online searchable order history can help you streamline your operations.
3. Organized and Efficient
Good suppliers have competent staff and great systems that result in efficient and mostly error-free fulfillment. However, without actually using it, it's difficult to know how competent a supplier is. If you place an order, you can pay attention to the quality of service, delivery times, packaging, and other supplier-related questions, including the following aspects:
The process that they handle the order
The speed that the items ship out
The speed they follow up with tracking information and an invoice
The quality of the pack job when the item arrives
How To Find Dropshipping Suppliers
1. Contact the Manufacturer
Contact the manufacturer is an easy way to find legitimate wholesale suppliers. You can call the leading manufacturer of the products that you want to sell and ask for a list of its wholesale distributors. Then you can contact these wholesalers to see if they dropship and inquire about setting up an account.
2. Use Google Search
It is obvious that you can use google search to find good suppliers. However, you’d better search extensively for the reason that they may be bad at marketing and promotion. And you should use various key words to search, such as “distributor”, “reseller”, “bulk”, “warehouse”, and “supplier”. Furthermore, don’t judge by the website. Some websites with poor design are possible good supplier as well.
3. Attend a Trade Show
It's an efficient way to get to know and connect with the manufactures and suppliers in a market. If conditions permits, you can attend a trade show and make contacts as well as research your products and suppliers all in one place. There may be new and upcoming products that you could add to your dropshipping store.
Tip: Check out the Trade Show News Network to see when and where trade shows are happening.
4. Join Industry Networks and Groups
Industry networks and groups are another effective resources to find suppliers. The people who join industry networks and groups prefer to share, learn, and grow. You can gain valuable insight from them after you join and become part of the dropshipping community. And you will get suggestions about better suppliers or suppliers to avoid.
5. Search Directories
A supplier directory is a charged database of suppliers that's organized by market, niche or product. It is a convenient way to search for and browse a large number of suppliers in one place quickly and are great for brainstorming ideas for products to sell or niches to enter. The most popular wholesale and drop shipping supplier directories over the web include World Wide Brands, Doba, Wholesale Central, etc.
6. Place Order From the Competition
You can find a dropshipping competitor and place a small order on the store. Google the return address to find out who the original shipper was as soon as you receive the package. In some cases, it will be a supplier you can contact.
What To Consider When Choosing Suppliers
1. Be Wary of Fake Suppliers
There are two ways to distinguish fake suppliers. One is that suppliers almost never sell products at wholesale prices to the general public. Another is that experienced and reputable suppliers don’t require potential partners to pay monthly fees just for access to their products. If you encounter suppliers have the opposite behavior, you should be aware that they may be fake suppliers.
2. Look For Matches
Make sure that your values match with your partners to have a better corporation. You can look for a match in terms of business values, how and why suppliers do business, what their goals are, how they got to this point, and so on.
Knowing your supplier in person is a very good practice. If your suppliers are located nearby, you can get to know it conveniently. Or if your suppliers are located far away but the business is working well, think about taking a trip to get to know where your products are being made.
If your supplier is the same one as the one supplying for other e-commerce businesses in your niche, it’s going to be difficult to differentiate yourself and position your business’ brand.
Dropshipping is a professional relationship in which there are several agreements that need to be upheld. It is better to not entrust your business’ credibility to the first person that makes you an offer.
Punctuality is important for the reason that it is related to shipping. The shipping times must be established and met.
7. Order Samples for Validation
It is important to order samples for validation to see some important things about a supplier. You can get to experience the quality of the product yourself and see how the supplier handles fulfillment which gives you an indication of what your customers will experience. Pay attention to the details, such as what shipment packaging is like, whether a separate distributor is involved, and how long shipping and delivery take.