AskOsaze Ep 3 - marketing your online store

How to market your new online store #AskOsaze Episode 3

While setting up your new online store, marketing should be one of the core plans you focus on. The thing to always keep in mind is that marketing will cost you something. No matter how it's done, there's bound to be some cost to it, either financial or monetary.

In today's episode, I give practical steps on how you can go about marketing your online store.

Keep in mind that this is a very basic approach to marketing but can be very effective. If you have any more questions, comment on this post or tweet at @ososoba

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=10zdds-AsNo]

Don't forget to comment with questions or contributions :D


askosaze episode 2

Running your store isn't rocket science. #AskOsaze Episode 2

I might be talking to you, or a friend, or your mum, anyone really. But truth is, a lot of people try to get away with the excuse that it isn't easy to setup their own ecommerce store.

Step out of that shell, take the bull by the horn, there's never been a better time.

Tell everyone you know that might be holding out on this... it's time to take that product to the market.Click To Tweet


emotional targeting

Using emotional targeting for brand messaging

Emotional targeting is when a marketer communicates to the target market using powerful emotional triggers. Emotional targeting takes place on two levels - understanding an audience’s emotional triggers and then implementing the insights on your website or marketing campaign. You need to investigate and understand which emotional triggers will affect your target audience and drive them to take action. For this you will have to dig in to understand your users' behavior. What sort of messaging affects them? How does your product make them feel? And so on. Then you can pursue the triggers that you see are the most successful in customer engagement.

Visual Storytelling

You must have seen MTN and Coca-Cola serenade our web pages recently with videos. The fact that I can even remember these ads out of the million and one web ads I see every day tells you something's unique about video ads. Visuals do the trick, they stick. A good visual message stimulates people’s senses. It can create fear, elicit pity, or showcase friendship. Font styles make a difference, too. People consider a clear, readable font as trustworthy.

To make visual storytelling work, however, you can’t simply slap a few stock photos onto your blog or social media posts. Just as headlines and calls to action must be crafted carefully, your visual content deserves more than a second thought. From screenshots to actual photographs, think about how to convey emotion to your audience. Do you need a wide-angle shot? Will a big red arrow show more impact for the viewer? In addition, be aware of diversity in your visuals. Cultural shifts happen within our society. Not everyone will be on board with your company’s inclusiveness. But don’t let that stop your brand's progression.

Here are a few tips to help in Emotional Targeting…

Memorable Experiences

Memories are precious moments in our lives.

We remember graduating from the university, our first break up with our first romantic partner, or even that embarrassing moment when we flopped a presentation. These experiences evoke us to think about how we felt at that particular time. To harness the power of memorable experiences, associate your brand’s experience with your customer’s life events. For example, transfer the same emotions customers felt when they got married or bought their first home and you're on your way to emotional marketing.

Psychological Triggers

Emotions determine our everyday decision-making. We buy when we’re sad. We buy when we’re happy. However, most brands miss the opportunity to develop an emotional link with customers. They focus on product features, rather than understanding the feelings behind the purchase. This is where emotional targeting comes in.

In 2014, Facebook “revealed that it had manipulated the newsfeeds of over half a million randomly selected users to change the number of positive and negative posts they saw.” This controversial psychological study found that people mimic the emotions expressed in online content. So, if people read a positive post, they are more likely to respond positively. With that in mind, prepare your product / service to develop digital marketing campaigns ingrained with psychological triggers. For instance, happiness induces people to share. So when targeting, the theme of your content should generally revolve around these emotions...

Joy

The one video ad a lot of us have come to love and sing along with is Coca Cola's "Taste the feeling" campaign

Few things in life are as sweet as joy. And equating this emotion with your brand can most certainly drive recognition. Whether it’s an ad that evokes excitement over a new offer or shares a hopeful sentiment to brighten a prospect’s day. When your audience feels the warm fuzzies, they’ll undoubtedly feel compelled to pass it on.

Nostalgia

You don’t need to make your audience weep with sorrow to tap into this emotion. Instead, opt for sweet sentimental. Take, for example, this commercial from Coca Cola that makes use of familiarity and ends on a positive note. More often than not, a relatable story that tugs at the heart strings also inspires action. This is the essence of emotional targeting.

Amusement

Laughter is a powerful reaction that increases the production of endorphins and helps reduce stress. Using humor in your marketing can offer your audience a reprieve from the dull messages filling their inboxes. It can grab their attention and keep them coming back for more. Don’t be afraid to throw in a line of playful quip into email copy. But steer clear of lewd or offensive jokes that could land your brand in hot water.

 

Overall, the best way to appeal to your audience’s emotions is to be authentic. Make an effort to get to know your subscribers through data, and tailor your message to their wants, needs, and behavior. By combining personalization with emotional targeting, you can make a lasting impact on each and every prospect and customer.


professional-product-pictures

DIY Great looking product pictures with a phone camera [VIDEO]

One of the most important aspects of ecommerce is product visualization. The down side to not being in a physical store is not being able to ogle the products you've fantasized about for months and feel them in your hands. But there's a way to take care of that. Provide beautiful product pictures so your customers get "almost" the same experience as in store.

But almost all fo us know that right? That's not the problem. The problem is that we can't afford to take pictures that good. You were probably advised to get a "professional photographer". And I think we all know how expensive that gets.

So today, in an effort to help us all become awesome product photographers ourselves, @_tidola will be telling us a few things. Watch the video below to see how you can take product pictures as good as the one below with just a phone and cardboard. And if you have some PhotoShop experience, you can make them look even better.

 

product-picture-with-samsung-s7

UNEDITED PICTURE WITH SAMSUNG GALAXY S7

 

product-picture-with-samsung-s7-edited

SLIGHTLY EDITED PICTURE WITH SAMSUNG GALAXY S7

Here's the video, it's just about 8mins long, so I'd advise you watch it in one sitting. You can also use it as a guide when doing your next product shoot.

 

Product Shoot Results

 

Be sure to try this out and send to us! You can follow Tidola on Instagram and Twitter.


delivery-companies in Nigeria

20 companies that make deliveries for your Nigerian online store

If I didn't already mention it, I always wanted to start an ecommerce website. Funny enough, its what got me into digital marketing in the first place. At the time, I was in 400 level in college. This was a time when the only popular websites were guys like 3stitches and Taafoo. I had a grand dream, after watching 1,000,000 videos from Zappos and reading delivering happiness. I knew I could succeed at this stuff if I put my mind to it. And I was ready to take on the world.

Among my many ideas was this grand plan to work with UPS. Why? because Zappos worked with them in the US. Yeah, I was that sold on Tony Hsieh and what he had built. So I sent the cutest mail to UPS Nigeria, with a cute presentation (it was cute in retrospect). The one line I can remember from the mail was something like "We love UPS because we think you'd make our customers happy". *smacks head*

We did get our meeting with an account exec, went weird, I won't go into details. But I knew I couldn't use UPS that afternoon, after spending 10k to and from the meeting. Which was a whole lot of money then.

It's almost 7 years later now, and the dream is just that now, a dream. But the problem is still as real today as it was then with logistics. And the truth is, ecommerce thrives on logistics, but it's such a flipping pain in the behind in Nigeria. It's sad. Imagine that one day you'd be able to order something today and get it tomorrow before 5PM. That's the dream both customers and SMEs look forward to, and we hope, really hope, that it happens soon.

But in the mean time, we still need as many options as possible for ecommerce logistics solutions, and that's what I hope to address in this post. So here's a list of logistics solutions I could find online. And just incase you know one that's missing or have one, let me know, I'm going to keep this sheet updated.

PS: I left out the (very) obvious logistics & courier companies like UPS, FedEx, DHL and the likes.

List of ecommerce delivery companies in Nigeria

I'd suggest that you go through each website and see what services they offer. Once you settle on a few, send some emails to start negotiations based on volume. Please let me know in the comment box if I'm missing out a few

SN Company Website Email Phone Pay on Delivery?
1 Push http://www.push.ng/ team@push.ng NA Yes
2 MSF Delivery http://mfsdelivery.com/ NA 08030785155
3 Gbelo http://gbelo.com/ hello@gbelo.com 08159611353 Yes
4 Mr Shopper http://www.mrshopper.com.ng/ hello@mrshopper.com.ng 08023234914 Yes
5 ACE Logistics https://www.ace.ng/ info@ace.ng NA Yes
6 Courier Plus http://www.courierplus-ng.com/ enquiries@courierplus-ng.com +234-1-2793170
7 City Run http://www.cityrunng.com/index.html info@cityrunng.com 07052278056
8 Max http://max.ng/ info@max.ng 08072030834 Yes
9 Nationdelivery http://www.nationdelivery.com/index.php NA 09099900250
10 Qick Delivery http://www.quickdelivers.com/ help@quickdelivers.com 08090667663 Yes
11 Tranex http://tranex-ng.com/ tranex@tranex-ng.com 07046182356
12 Tranzit http://tranzit.ng/tranzitit.php mailus@tranzit.ng 0700-1000-100
13 Drop Buddies http://www.dropbuddies.com/web/ ask@DropBuddies.com 0909 999 1652 Yes
14 Zippy http://www.zippy.com.ng/ info@zippy.com.ng 0700-2255-94779
15 KOS Delivery http://kos.ng/ enquiries@kos.ng 08180092233 Yes
16 EMS Speed Post http://www.emsng.com/ csu@emsng.com 09087100300
17 Errandboy http://errandb.com/ NA 08111173668
18 Red Star Express http://www.redstarplc.com/ enquiries@redstarexpress-ng.com 01-2715670
19 Ekesons Parcel Services http://epsng.net/ info@epsng.net 07088685149
20 ErrandEx http://www.errandex.net/ cs@errandex.net +234-1-8183256774
21 Delivery Bros http://deliverybros.com/ howfar@deliverybros.com 08156796295

 

The important thing to keep in mind about most of these companies is that they offer business rates. So while they might try to keep some rates upfront on their website, it doesn't guarantee that the rate applies to you as an SME. Most will come to reduced costs once you negotiate shipping volumes.

And if you're just going into ecommerce without prior experience, here are a few things to look out for in a delivery company.

Do they offer business rates?

This is a no brainer, if they do not offer competitive rates for businesses, they're not ready for SMEs. This will only be acceptable if the courier only focuses on SMEs, in which case the standard rates should apply. But be sure to at least try to negotiate a deal

How is payment made?

It'll be operationally difficult to pay for every delivery. having a payment schedule helps you best. For example, paying up at the end of every month, or when you get to a certain amount. And in rare cases, like with ACE, paying upfront. I'd advise against the upfront schedule though, you don't want to be tied to a company in case they turn out crappy

Cash on delivery services?

Cash on delivery or pay on delivery is a popular payment option in Nigeria. Especially for small businesses that haven't exactly built trust with their customer base yet. So check to see which company offers cash on delivery and what the service fee for that is like

Handling returns

Like I mentioned in a previous post on returns/refunds, returns is an important part of ecommerce too. You don't want to wait till you get your first return request before you figure it out. Try to confirm if your delivery company caters for that before hand

Opportunities to scale

As a small business you're probably looking for a service that can give you cheap costs. However, never compromise on scalability. Can the company that currently delivers 2 products a day keep up with 10? Can they keep up with 100? If no, what's your plan for a company that can deliver at scale? Always be sure to have a backup plan if your current or soon-to-be partner won't be able to keep up with increasing scale.

These are some of the major points to think about before going ahead with a delivery partner. Get in touch with a few today and start your selection process. And if you need help, you know where to find us ;)


Handling returns the right way for Nigerian ecommerce businesses

I once read about a Zappos customer who had ordered clothes for a relative's wedding. And I might not be telling this story exactly as it happened but this is the general gist of it. The delivery guy who dropped off the order didn't meet the customer around, so in a very clumsy move, he left the order at the door. Before the customer got home to pick up the order waiting for him, it rained and the items got damaged.

Soon enough, a Zappos customer support employee got a very angry customer calling and cursing. And understandably so too. But the one thing I admire about Zappos is their unending drive to deliver great customer service. The employee got the general gist of the man's plight. And the annoying part for this customer was the fact that he didn't know his size so he had ordered it early to have it mended to suit him. Now the wedding was only a few days away and he was in deep poop.

The employee apologized and resent his order to him, with a free upgrade to overnight delivery. And the delightful part of this story, is that the employee sent different sizes of the same product, so the customer could select his best fit, significantly reducing the need to have them mended, and send all the rest back.

That's an example of going above and beyond for the customer. And while Zappos might be an exception with a truly shocking 365 day return policy, every business needs to look for ways to ensure customers feel safe when they shop with you. And one major way is through your refund and return policies.

Here are a few best practices to follow when structuring yours

Make your returns policy easy to find

Perhaps one of the biggest faults in Nigerian ecommerce websites is the fact that you don't find their return policies easily. And for the few that do try to put it out up front, there are flaws in the execution that don't really help. Lets take a look at a few examples from websites you know

Konga.com: The Konga return policy is quite visible on the shipping details tab. The only problem here however is that the icon isn't clickable. Because there are more details on the policy in a different page but the customer doesn't get to see it. Not until they check for the return policy link at the bottom of the page.

 

konga return policy

 

Payporte.com: Here's an excerpt from the Payporte website from their returns policy page "White apparels, Swimwear, underwear, sex toys, earrings/ accessories and cosmetics/beauty products (including perfumes & Fragrances) cannot be returned or exchanged.". Now lets look at the details page on a bra. ANY customer that gets to this page without looking into the refund policy (and almost no one would) will assume they can return this item.

payporte return policy

 

Use plain English, not technical jargon

Good thing is that you're probably a customer reading this too. Ever got in touch with technical support about something and the dude on the other end of the line is just trying to throw you off balance with terms and acronyms? It's just as bad when you spell out your refund policy in words people don't get. And sometimes it's just so obvious its worrying. Take a look at Jumia's policy summary for example

jumia-return-policy

I mean, who can make sense of this please? What's the grand idea? Feels like we're back in school all over again and I'm trying to steal the multiplication table answers off the back of my school book.

Compare that to the returns policy on a website called Lovehoney

Return policy from lovehoney

Difference is clear as day. And after reading a refund policy like this, truth is that you smile a little and you gain just a little more confidence in the brand. Your customers are human too, not little witches trying to steal from you. Be nice to them, speak their language

Your customers are human too, not little witches trying to steal from you. Be nice to themClick To Tweet

Try to subsidize your return fees

This one is a little tricky, especially because even the big guns haven't led in the right direction. And understandably, logistics in Nigeria is a little cumbersome. But just before you go ahead to behead me for suggesting such a thing, lets think about a business case for this.

Assume you're a small business, not like Konga or Jumia. Assume that you have about 10,000 customers on your ecommerce website where you sell female shoes. And 8,000 of these customers live in Lagos. Typically, ecommerce thrives on repeat business and Word Of Mouth marketing, so these 8k customers will talk to their friends (in Lagos) about your website.

Even though these guys had friends refer them, they'd still have trust issues using you. What if they come to your website and see that to return an item they don't like to you is just N300 (or free if you can afford it). Especially for the - now growing - customers who don't mind paying with their card.

Again, a few of you are still killing me, but this doesn't have to be an absolute disaster. Get data driven about the results, for one month, put it out there on every page that returns cost so little or nothing, see if it affects your order rates and make a business decision. Risky yeah? Yes. But if it does boost confidence and boost sales, you win!

Indicate time frame limitations for returns

Not everyone can be like Zappos or Lovehoney. Actually, I'm not sure if it'll work in Nigeria, it might, but it'll be a stretch. Either way, you need to let customers know how long they can wait to return these products. If they don't know upfront, and they miss the deadline, you'd have an angry human knocking at your door soon. Konga and Payporte, along with a few other websites, do this well.

konga return policy

 

Let customers know if they can exchange for credit or cash

Some stores let you get cash refunds when you return an item. Some insist on exchanging it for another product. And others give you store credits.

I had an experience on DealDey once on the same thing, made an order that wasn't able to be fulfilled. And even thought I explicitly mentioned it that I wanted the money back in my account, I got a follow up mail saying I had been given store credits. Is that a bad approach? Most likely yes. But the real problem is in the fact that I had no idea they wouldn't want to give me cash back. On another day, in another situation, that could have led to a whole new story.

Be sure to let your customers know if you give them cash in exchange for returned items, or if they just get store credits or another product.

Provide enough product information

Although a lot of what we have addressed have talked about how to deal with returns, there's one way to prevent it. Provide all the right information the customer needs to make a decision. This will include things like the product description, title, color information, technical specification, product images... All of these things could easily mislead the customer into ordering for something they don'e want.

This is especially true if you run a third party seller type store, or if you use drop shipping, you need to be sure that merchants provide as much correct information as possible.

Lastly, be human. In some cases, before a customer returns an item, they call your store up to make clarifications. If you or your staff are polite and human enough, they just might make do with what they received. Or in some cases, they realize they made the mistake and they don't need to return the item.

Keep these things in mind as you plan for your returns/refund strategy.


optimize ecommerce

Improving Your Mobile Strategy with responsive design & Analytics

Think about the last time you purchased something on your mobile. Do you remember what the experience was like? Chances are it was relatively smooth, which is why you completed a purchase. On an average, if a sites takes over 5-10 seconds to load, we don't wait to see what happens. And that's putting it politely

The scenario painted above happens all the time with mobile marketers. As Nigerians, we're probably exposed to some of the worst mobile experiences. It’s not so difficult to find out why, our websites are not fully optimized considering the uniqueness of mobile web. People have short attention spans, they want the news in 140 character snippets, they want to shop with the click of a button — and they want infinite information accessible at their fingertips via smartphones and tablets. It's easy for businesses to lose potential customers with a complicated, slow or inefficient mobile website.

Our e-commerce space is populated. Which means if you don’t get your strategy right, your customers won’t think twice before switching to another website, it just takes a tap! There are essential metrics which determine your probability of success. In addition to who is looking at your site, and how they're navigating through it, it's also important to take into account where they're viewing your content — and mobile traffic, in particular, is a big deal.

In an increasingly mobile world, there's more than one reason why it's crucial to keep an eye on your website's mobile traffic. Below, we take a look at some of the most common reasons why this metric is an important piece of your overall analytics efforts. And what you can do to optimize your marketing with this knowledge.

A Responsive UI – User Interface

We don’t exactly have fast internet in Nigeria. Even with the so called 4G LTE networks. So you need a light website that fully loads all the components within the shortest possible time.  Responsive design is increasingly becoming the go-to solution for businesses seeking optimized mobile experiences. If your site is heavy on visuals, videos, products or "mobile commerce", then it’s a no brainer that you go responsive. Important questions like – which operating systems are the most common among your site traffic? Are more users visiting your site on smartphones, or on tablets? What is the overall ratio of mobile to desktop traffic? – can help you determine exactly what you need to infuse into your website.

Consumers behave differently on smartphones and computers, which have differing functionalities and capabilities. You need to analyse user behavior and experiences across the entire purchase funnel to understand the best move for your web or app design. Responsive design is good for most businesses for the following reasons:

  1. It's easier to maintain one site than maintaining a separate mobile website
  2. It's cheaper to build a responsive website than to build a desktop site and a separate mobile site
  3. Data analysis is also simpler on a mobile responsive website

Take the Localized Digital website for example, it is mobile responsive. Hence the same website shows well for both mobile and desktop traffic.

responsive-localized-digitalInsights

It has become very important for businesses to recognize recurring consumer patterns. Instagram recently released a new feature for business to see the demographics of people that view their IG posts. This has become very important for businesses to target their Ads and also review their strategy. When and how users view your content on mobile affects a number of decisions — everything from the length of your videos to where you place certain content. Tracking user behavioral patterns and page flow among mobile users informs your decisions for many of these adjustments.

Noting the metrics surrounding certain behaviors — such as time spent navigating the site or watching videos — also provides valuable insight into how to tailor your content to smartphone and tablet users. Perhaps videos should be front and center on your more "lean back" tablet properties, while directions and location information should be prominent on the smartphone app. If most of your customers come from Lagos, it also means you should channel your offline marketing efforts towards Lagos; if you want to consolidate on your gains or move in to another state to gain grounds. There are numerous decisions you can make via key Insights.

Here's an example of insights pulled by the Google Analytics mobile app.

get-details-from-insightsTweak Your Ads for Mobile

Knowing how your consumers behave on mobile should also heavily influence your mobile advertising strategy — where should your brand promote itself, and what message should these ads send?   As with ad strategy, mobile traffic analysis is also extremely useful when devising email marketing campaigns. Using Email marketing as an example to buttress why you need to pay special attention to Mobile optimization, here’s a "sobering" statistic from MailChimp; 69% of mobile users delete emails without reading if they're not optimized for mobile, and another 18% said they would go so far as to actually unsubscribe. The moral? Make sure your email newsletters are optimized. You can easily find free email responsive templates online.

Here's an example of a mobile responsive email from localized digital.

Localized digital mobile email responsive

How has your company, business or website effectively utilized mobile marketing, strategy or analytics? Tell us in the comments box below!


15-tips-email-marketing

15 tips to getting email marketing right for Nigerian businesses

Email marketing, if done right, is a direct self-sufficient means of advertising and marketing. It is relatively affordable and provides quality leads and guarantees a high CTR (click through rate). Based on the rate at which people check their emails, now that is easily synced on their mobile phones, it is a really efficient marketing means. But a lot of brands fail at it. This is mainly because of the practice of sending out mass emails with little or no thought about tailoring content to fit a group of people. Some experts have even predicted the death of email marketing. But for now, since it's not, there are ways to getting it right. It only requires a certain amount of work to make your emails connect with your target audiences.

If you're targeting the millennials (20-35) who open their emails frequently, then here are 15 email marketing tips to help boost engagement:

Be personal

I’m not going to pay any attention to an email that addresses me as “Hi”, not “Hi Kemi,”. That way I already know it’s just a bulk email and I’m one of the numerous recipients of it. Your emails need to be written as though you're only speaking to one person, the recipient. Don’t use terms like subscribers or mailing list in your content, stick to just one person.

Skip the bait-and-switch

Corny email marketing tactics have made it difficult to let people know that you are real and honest. Also considering how many spam emails go out every day it's difficult to stand out in this pool. You have to make sure your email is clear and contains no falsified information. You only one chance so don't lose your audience. Here's a very tacky spammy mail subject line from Verve *there was no credit alert

verve email closed

Be Natural

In the process of been personal, try to be natural don’t use my name where a pronoun will suffice, that’s obviously a code. Even if you have to use names ensure it flows naturally with the conversation or content in this case. And if you brand is a personal one, write your email like you would speak. That's likely why the user subscribed to you in the first place, because he enjoys your content.

Create good content

Which brings us to creating good content. Good content means creating content that is relevant to your target audience. Your content might be good but if it’s not relevant then it’s not good. Your content should help your audience grow in some way, or it should give them some sort of new insight or perspective on things they did not know before. People tend to respond a lot better to content that focuses on helping them grow (infuse your product here) rather than directly try to sell them a product or service.

You don’t have to send an email

I can’t stress this enough, but if you don’t have anything to say then you don’t have to send one. Time is valuable and your audience will prefer you email them only when something important comes up (your audience will appreciate this). Sending unnecessary emails will send you straight to spam after some time.

Engage their mind

Statistics, numbers and facts gives your audience some thoughts to ponder on, you can use that to your advantage to attract and hold your reader’s attention. Use facts where possible, and ensure that you do proper research so you give the right thing. Trust me, you don't want to look like the blockhead that said rubbish about something I care about.

 

Unique discount

You can use this medium to offer discount and promo codes that can only be got from clicking out directly from the newsletter. Or give something totally free in the same manner. Make sure you deliver on such and that'll set the stage for further interaction and increases trust.

Simplicity

It is possible to attract attention with clever headlines, but you need to keep it simple to hold their attention, be effective and stay on the topic. Also, keep it short and sweet. Take Hygeia's email subject line for example, (In less than 15 seconds) just sells it to me

hygeia-subject-line

Learn from others

Subscribe to other few good email list (not necessarily competition) preferably a global brand and do your best to emulate them. Using them as a yardstick will help you get better.

Don’t be too salesy

You know your TA (target audience) and which type of marketing approach works best for them. When developing your content remember not to overdo the selling pitch, take it from an angle that will either enrich, entertain or improve their lifestyle. When last did any of you open Konga's email with these kind of headlines? In my head I'm saying "errr... what deals? Cornflakes?"

konga-subject-lineSpell out benefits

“What is in it for me?” That’s the question on most people’s mind. From the start speak to them as if they asked you directly. Most times people are concerned with how it benefits them directly. Writing along those lines will ensure you tap into that self-interest pool.

Here's an example from iThemes Security, a WordPress security plugin

ithemes-proNudge a little

Try to develop a sense of urgency when writing. Offer them something then set a limit or times they have to respond, this will push them to make a decision faster than when you leave it blank. Here's an example from Shoptomydoor

urgencyEmbed Links

By inserting links and hyperlinks throughout your email will increase the probability of one of those links getting clicked and bringing you a new client or customer. But this doesn't always work. One school of thought is to include a single Call-to-action (CTA) for better engagement. To determine which works better for your brand, run A/B tests.

Use a P.S (Photo Script) Line

A P.S line help drives home the point you were trying to make all through your email or serve as a reminder or summary of your whole email. It should also contain your call to action and not be more than one paragraph. P.S lines can help build the desire for the product you are marketing and create and an additional sense of urgency.

Email marketing requires research and lots of patience. You might not get it right the first few times but realize your mistake from each attempt and make it better on the next. A good email marketing campaign can produce traffic, subscribers, and sales. If you don’t take shortcuts you’ll be glad at the result of your efforts.

Let us know what your experience has been like with email marketing.


payment-gateway-solutions

Top 5 ecommerce payment systems for Nigerian online stores

*Update - There's an updated version of this post with much more information on online payment gateways. Check it out

If you just got into ecommerce, I must say that you came at the right time. I remember being in 500 level in college and dreaming of starting an ecommerce website. It was such an exciting time for me because I was exploring all kinds of things. The most daunting of which was payment processing.

I remember reading about Eyowo at the time on Techloy and thinking to myself "Yes! This one would probably work". Fast forward into the future and we don't have that again. That's how demanding and competitive things were in the past. And although they still are now, the technology is way more advanced and much better than we had it back then. In this post, we'd go through some of the most popular options for online payments in Nigeria today.

Interswitch WebPay

Accepts: Mastercard, VISA, Verve
License Fee: N160,000
Commission Fees: 1.5%

By far the most popular payment option of them all. Interswitch's Webpay has been around the longest and is now seen as a dinosaur of some sorts. The platform might be functional, but not progressive enough. And if you haven't heard of Interswitch, perhaps you've heard of Quickteller. Same company, different front end purposes.

I'v had to integrate a WebPay gateway into a simple CMS platform before - WordPress. It cost me and my client about 3 weeks and N160,000 to go live, with about 40 emails back and forth between myself and the Interswitch team. But while they might have drawbacks in technology, their popularity helps them remain relevant.

Click here to get started with Interswitch's WebPay

PayStack

Accepts: Mastercard, VISA, Verve, International
License Fee: FREE
Commission Fees: Fixed N100 charge + 1.5% for local cards and 3.9% for international

If you want something more futuristic / modern, PayStack is it. I mean, just look at its homepage, that kinda sells it right?

paystackPaystack is backed by companies like Flutterwave and Andela, and it has the love of the developer community. Unfortunately I haven't had a chance to implement an integration myself, but I have opened an account with them. Going to the "Request go live" tab shows me a simple form

paystack-go-liveAnd considering that this is step one of two, I'm guessing that it isn't a lengthy process. Unlike some other platforms ;) . Please drop a comment below if you've had a chance to complete integration. Let us know what the process was like and how long it took.

GTPay

Accepts: Mastercard, VISA, Verve, International
License Fee: N75,000
Commission Fees: 1.5% on local cards, 3% on international cards

GTPay was one of the earlier entrants into the market, right after WebPay. The platform - owned by GTBank - was built to help SMEs avoid the high cost of Interswitch's WebPay. GTPay is essentially WebPay on steroids, with easier implementation guidelines and about half the license fee for WebPay. Integration is also much simpler

gtpay-payment-gateway

SimplePay

Accepts: Mastercard, VISA, Verve
License Fee: FREE
Commission Fees: Fixed N10 fee + 1.9% on local card and 3.5% on international cards

Perhaps the payment gateway with the most visible improvements is SimplePay. I started using SimplePay a few years back and although it wasn't all bad, there were flaws. But the brand has received a total overhaul and now looks sleek and works quite well. I have successfully implemented SimplePay on about 4 websites within 1-2 days. The team is super responsive and the dashboard is intuitive.

Customers are provided with a simple popup to fill in their card details - similar to the one below - and enter a One Time Password (OTP) to complete their transaction.

simplepay-payment-gateway

Paga

Accepts: Mastercard, VISA, Verve, Paga wallet
License Fee: N25,000
Commission Fees: Fixed N20 + 1% on local cards

Paga is first a mobile money company before anything else. And according to its website, it boasts over 5 million customers. Paga also has additional services, one of which is a payment gateway system. I must confess that response from the Paga team while implementing can be quite slow and frustrating, but the platform works just fine.

It also lets you accept payments without a website. A feature which can come in handy if you don't own an ecommerce website yet.

paga payment gateway

PHOTO CREDIT: www.africanbusinesscentral.com

While this is a good list to start with, it is important to note that there are many more payment systems out there for Nigerians today. A simple Google search usually turns up quite a number. This list represents most of the gateways I've had to use myself.

On a side note, I tried VoguePay quite a number of times for different clients and it just didn't work. Most clients will come back after a few weeks to complain and we'd have to take it down and look for an alternative. Might be bad luck with me personally, but it was one too many.

Have you had any experience with these, or any other, payment gateways? Let us know in the comments box below.


product-ideas

Finding Ecommerce Product Ideas for the Nigerian Market

With the ecommerce space becoming populated in Nigeria, chances are you may need more than low prices to drive traffic to your site. One of the ways to maintain relevance is by your unique product offerings. So how do you come up with a product idea? The first thing to note is that coming up with a great idea for a product to sell online will occasionally strike when you least expect it. Many times though, it’s something you need to be proactively on the lookout for. The internet contains a wealth of ideas and inspiration, but as a new entrepreneur, where do you begin? We have compiled a list of some of the best places to get product ideas. However, it is important to note these two points;

  • Look beyond the Product: while searching for new product ideas, make sure to look beyond the products themselves. There is heavy competition in the most common and popular product categories, if you go to Jumia or Konga, you’d see almost exactly the same product categories, no difference. Choosing a different or unique angle can be instrumental to your success. Try not to just look at products, rather look for potential in the product category. Consider new markets, new features and new ways to use the products. 
  • Smaller Product Categories: Don't be afraid to look at smaller product categories and niches. A niche product might get small traffic, that's granted. But it makes up for that by way of less competitors and a more targeted audience. Less competition makes it easier to get to the top of Google, and is usually more cost effective and efficient to advertise to your customers.

Once you’ve got these two points factored in, here’s what you need to do next!

Start With What You Have

Before you begin searching the depths of the internet and the ends of the earth for product and niche ideas, it’s always best to start with the ideas you already have. Maybe it’s a product or idea you have had for years. Maybe it exists in a half written business plan sitting in a folder somewhere on your computer. You can simply start by asking yourself one question; what products, niches or industry are you and your friends particularly passionate about or interested in?

Local Community

Sometimes, you don’t need a new idea at all. Traditional brick and mortar businesses have been around much longer than their ecommerce counterparts. Paying attention to trends in brick and mortar retail and adapting them to ecommerce can be just the ticket you need to create a profitable and unique business. Look around your community and take note of what new or interesting retail concepts people are talking about. Take Debra's Grace for example

Debra's Grace, Yaba

PHOTO CREDIT: amillionstyles.com

Online Consumer Trend Publications

A great place to start your search for product ideas is to look at some top consumer product trend publications. Following trend publications is great way to begin getting a sense of the direction consumer products are going and the ideas other entrepreneurs are introducing to the market. These publications can also expose you to new product categories and industries that you previously didn’t know about. It can helps you to dream up new goods, services and experiences for your online business. There are several popular trend publications online to follow, like Techpoint if you’re into Technology; StyleVitae if you’re into Fashion, and a host of others.

Here's a post on Osaze's website for example, that talks about some of the most popular products being searched for on the web. Here's a small snippet from that infographic

infographics

 

Industry Leaders

If you know the industry or niche you would like to be in you can use various tools to discover the influencers in the industry. Following the right people on social media can help inspire new ideas via a constant stream of carefully curated content from the people in the know. It’s up to you to uncover the opportunities. Our digital sphere in Nigeria is pretty much enclosed, so it’s easy to follow anyone across their channels.

Product and Trend Discovery Review Sites

Product review and discovery sites can also be a fantastic source of ideas and inspiration. Sites like Techcabal (technology) and StyleMeAfrica (female fashion) are great ways to see new curated product trends daily. What better way to get inspired than to get a daily glimpse into the new and interesting products other entrepreneurs are bringing to the market. Here's an idea from TechCabal, it kinda suggests that the Note 3 is probably in trend now

techcabal

 

Online Consumer Marketplaces

Another rich source for product ideas are online consumer marketplaces, like jiji.ng, OLX, Efritin, Jumia Market, etc. You’d find millions of products on these sites so you may want to begin your search with some of the popular and trending items and branch out into other interesting categories that catch your eye from there. Here's an example from Jiji

trending-on-jiji

 

Instagram

Instagram isn’t just pictures of food and dogs, it is also an interesting option for inspiring product ideas. Because it’s photo based, it makes it easy to scan through many ideas and photos quickly. There are a few ways you can use Instagram to search for product and niche ideas:

  • Hashtags: Once again, if you have a particular interest in a product category or industry, you can try searching for applicable hashtags. Another great option is to do a search on Instagram for applicable hashtags that insinuate buyer interest and intent like #want and #buy. Here's an example of what I get when I search for #iwant
    instagram-hashtag
  • Product Curation Accounts: There are many accounts on Instagram that post curated product content. Like many other examples above, you'll likely want to search for and find accounts within the niches you are particularly interested in. As an example, there are food blogs all over IG, may be worth keeping an eye on if you’re into the Food industry, it might just provide the idea or spark for your next product.

Go through this list and you're sure to get at least one idea that's in trend. Do you have any other way to get product ideas? Let us know