How eCommerce Merchants Can Increase A Customer’s Lifetime Value With AutoResponders

Jimmy Rodriguez is CTO and co-founder of 3DCart, developer of an e-commerce suite for businesses of all sizes. 3dcart just rolled out 3dcart 4.0 and with it we offered all merchants autoresponders free of charge. As an authority on e-commerce best practices, Jimmy combines more than 8 years as an e-commerce developer and web programmer with SEO, social marketing and business intelligence

Customer acquisition efforts are time-consuming. Online merchants spend hours upon hours exploring every possible channel to gain new customers – PPC, content marketing, social ads, banners, affiliate marketing etc. Acquiring new customers isn’t getting easier and as most eCommerce merchants know the process isn’t getting cheaper either.

Basic economics tells us that in order to be profitable, the amount of money spent on acquiring a customer (investment) must be less than the customer’s value (return). If I spend $100 to find a customer, the customer has to purchase $100 at my store just so I break even. The equation is simple, but some merchants feel they only are able to affect the investment as the return is in the hands of the customer. They attempt to lower their customer acquisition cost (CAC) by choosing inexpensive methods like bidding on lower value keywords that have a lower cost per click. More often than not, those methods are also less effective and result in much lower conversion rates – leaving them in the same mathematical dilemma as before.

Don’t be discouraged. CAC investments are well-worth the expense if the lifetime value of the acquired customer is raised or simply put, your return will be greater if the acquired customer purchases from your store multiple times. If I spend $100 to gain a customer and that customer purchases $50 dollars worth of merchandise (an even lower amount than the previous example) and continues to do so every 2 months, I have a 500% return on my investment! When you turn one-time customers into loyal shoppers, your advertising dollars go farther, you increase your campaign ROI and you can double your bottom line with no additional work.

How to raise the lifetime value of your online customers:

The key to offline sales remains true with online sales: following up with a client is just as important as the initial pitch. In eCommerce following-up with an existing customer, or “back-end selling” is just as important as attracting the customer in the first place. Instead of scrambling to find new customer after new customer, connect with shoppers who you already know want your merchandise & trust your brand – your existing customers.

Following up with existing customers with email marketing frees merchants from the lead generation rat race. According to research conducted by the Direct Marketing Association, email marketing was expected to generate an ROI of $42.08 for every dollar spent on it in 2010. Email marketing allows eCommerce merchants to maximize on their existing community and create a network of loyal shoppers and with auto-responders merchants can can set the efforts on auto-pilot.

What is an “auto responder?”

An autoresponder campaign is a series of messages programmed to send out automatically based on a predetermined schedule. Unlike traditional newsletters, autoresponder’s send out a finite number of emails as a part of a campaign.

Autoresponders make email marketing as easy as “set and forget.” Think of autoresponders as your personal email secretary. While you focus on growing business (and filling all of your new orders), your autorespond secretary is busy emailing personalized messages to customers, increasing conversions, and gaining loyal shoppers.

Setting up a successful Autoresponder Campaign:

Post-Sale Welcome Autoresponders

When a customer completes their first purchase from your site, welcome the user by expressing appreciation for their business and introducing your company with a sentence or two.

A post-sale message should focus on building trust and establishing a relationship, rather than trying to upsell. When wording your message, be personal & authentic and avoid cliches. Friendly ‘welcome’ messages excite customers & encourage return visits!

Post-Sale Follow-up Autoresponders

A typical autoresponder follow-up campaign sends a customer 2-4 emails over a period of 2-4 weeks post-purchase, but frequency varies depending on your audience’s profile.

Consider offering “welcome back” return discount or suggest products based on the customer’s past orders. The more personal & incentivized the message, the higher the conversion rate!

Activity-based Autoresponders

Set up multiple autoresponder campaigns for specific customer activities. For example, you can create separate message campaigns based on:

  • The type of customers : wholesalers versus retailers
  • Customers who purchase more than the average order amount. (Say Thank you!)
  • Customers who purchased a specific product from your store to offer add-ons, up-sells and new models.

Activity-based autoresponders allow eCommerce merchants to create highly targeted messaging. The more specialized the message is to the user, the more effective the email.

Read more about autoresponders on 3dcart’s blog.

Image Credit: larskflem

7 Free Advertising Channels For eCommerce Retailers

How do you get more traffic to your eCommerce store? Advertising can be costly… Here is a list of 7 free comparison shopping engines which you should utilize to get free traffic to your store.

#1 – Google Shopping

Google Shopping is the king of free comparison shopping engines. It sends the most traffic out of all the CSEs listed in the post. You will need to create and account and submit a feed using the Google Merchant Center.

#2 – Bing Shopping

Bing Shopping is the Bing alternative to Google Shopping. Although they have less market-share, free is free. You’ll want to get set up here as well. NOTE: Bing has placed a temporary hold on new merchant signups, keep your eye on this page for updates. When they do allow new merchant signups, use this guide to setup an account within adCenter.

#3 – TheFind has been growing quite a lot over the past year. Their model allows you to list your product for free. If you add their UpFront badge to your site, you will get better placement. Sign up at Merchant Center.

#4 – Oodle

Oodle is not really a comparison shopping engine, it is more of a classified listing site. However, they allow you to upload your product catalog via FTP with a datafeed, so you may as well submit your products here.

#5 – SortPrice

SortPrice has a different model from all other comparison shopping engines. They charge a flat fee for every merchant and you get whatever clicks you get. In addition to this, they offer to list a percentage of your products for free. More info is here.

#6 – ShopMania

ShopMania offers a free account with the option to upgrade to their premium packages. The free plan can only be used if you install their “We’re listed on ShopMania” site seal. Sign up and get more info here. ShopMania also offers a free Facebook Store for merchants listed on their program.

#7 – GoShopping is similar to ShopMania, they offer to list your products for free if you install their badge on your site. You can sign up here.

How To Add The Google Plus One Button For Magento [+1]

Introduction: What is the Google +1 Button?

Until someone creates a Magento extension for the Google +1 button, like there is for the Facebook Like button, here is a quick and easy way to add it to your Magento store in two steps:

Step #1

Add the JavaScript code to your Magento config: System –> Configuration –> Design –> HTML Head –> Miscellaneous Scripts.

[code lang=”html”]<script src="" type="text/javascript"></script>[/code]

Step #2

Place this tag in your template phtml files where you want the +1 button to render (example location: /app/design/frontend/XXXXXX/XXXXXX/template/page/html/header.phtml)

[code lang=”html”]<g:plusone></g:plusone>[/code]

Please Note: Google has several styles of this button, you can select the proper code when you get the code here.

Today’s eCommerce Links

A Guide To Selecting Shopping Cart Software For Your eCommerce Store

This post has been submitted by PixelCrayons. PixelCrayons is a creative web design and development agency that specializes in providing custom web design and development, PSD to HTML, Content Management System and ecommerce solutions.

An e-commerce solution has become the utmost requirement of every business website. It is rather indispensable. Without a good e-commerce shopping cart, an e-commerce website is incomplete and can’t expect good returns in terms of traffic, sales, ranking and ROI. There is plethora of e-commerce solutions available in the market. However, selecting the right e-commerce shopping cart software can be a daunting task. Planning for a shopping cart is very important. This is because e-commerce significantly affects your website’s layout and available features. Therefore, it is important to have an e-commerce shopping cart that not only offers the required features but also meets other important criteria. Here is a complete guide to selecting the right shopping cart for your e-commerce store.

If you are considering creating a shopping cart on your own, then mind it, it is very complicated, time consuming and a lengthy task. Also, it requires proper knowledge of various technologies. There are a number of viable shopping carts available commercially. Thus buying would be much better than spending both your time and resources on creating one on your own. The commercially available shopping carts range from free to price ones.

An important point to consider before buying a shopping cart is- do you want to integrate with an existing website or start from scratch. There are some shopping carts that are simple and handle only the check out process. Such shopping carts require you to simply add snippets of code to your existing pages. Thus this type of shopping cart is best for those who are looking for an e-commerce solution for their existing website. But if you are starting from the scratch, you may want to have a more complex and customized system. Shopping carts that can create your product pages are extremely useful when changing product information, adding new products or deleting products.

Next point to consider is- what all features do you need in a shopping cart? Just like every business operates differently, their requirements also vary. Every online store is unique. It has to be. Visitors prefer user friendly and attractive online stores. Although, depending on your business, you many need a shopping cart with only basic functions or you may need all the attention grabbing features of a big e-commerce website. This depends entirely on you to determine the type of features you want in your online store. This will help you utilize both time and resources. It is better to decide before hand than to repent later. It can be really frustrating to be half-way done integrating a cart into your website only to find that it does not support a necessary feature.

Some of the essential features an e-commerce store should have are

  • It should support dynamic product/page creation.
  • Ensure that it is database-driven
  • It should provide options like user registration, coupon codes, product reviews, product options etc.
  • It should provide affiliate tracking and inventory tracking
  • It should have shipping integration
  • It should be template driven
  • It should have features like order management/editing and product categories and sub categories.
  • It should support multiple currencies and multiple payment processors

The technical aspects also require some consideration. There are many shopping carts that require you to host the site on their servers. Hence, if you already have a website, it would not be a viable option for you especially if you have paid for a year of hosting in advance. Before installing the shopping cart, ensure that it is compatible with your hosting. An alternative is to get hosting that is compatible with your shopping cart. An ASP/MS SQL shopping cart will not work on a Linux web server (and vice versa). Make sure your web server meets all the listed requirements before purchasing the software. Ask the host service if they can install the missing components for you.

Price is also an important factor. The prices of shopping carts range from free to hundreds of thousands of dollars. It is important to make sure that the solution you choose meets all your needs. However, refrain from going overboard. You may end up spending a hefty amount on a solution that you may not need so much. At the same time, do not go for the free solutions either. This is because most free of cost shopping carts are developed by programmers on part time basis and some of them are not updated for months or even years. If you plan to go with the free shopping cart, make sure that there is adequate support from either the developers or other users online. Also ensure that bugs or security issues are addressed immediately.

Scalability counts a lot. When one starts with an online store, one has plans to make it big and turn the store into an internationally recognized store. For this, it is mandatory that the shopping cart is scalable and can handle a large number of orders and visitors simultaneously. Also make sure that it has all the features you will need, or that you can upgrade to a more advanced version if needed.

Also look out for the technical support available. You will need assistance for either setting up or installing, configuring or maybe customizing the cart to fit your website. If an error appears, it also needs to be debugged. Therefore, ensure that there is quick support because a small delay can lead to a significant number of lost sales (and revenues).

From the above mentioned points, it is clear that it requires a lot of factors to be considered while looking for a shopping cart for your e-commerce site. It is important to analyze the requirements and then proceed with the process of searching for a shopping cart. Keeping the above mentioned points in mind will help you to select the right shopping cart for you website.

Image Credit: The Rocketeer

Google AdWords Will No Longer Display Google Checkout Logos

Google AdWords/Google Checkout Badge

Google has recently decided that displaying the Google Checkout logos by all merchant who accept the payment method makes the SERPs look cluttered. Google will stop displaying the Checkout logo as of tomorrow, June 2. Below is an email we received from Google:


Please be aware that beginning on June 2, 2011, the Google Checkout badge will no longer appear on your ads on Google search results.

We’re making this change to improve the user experience on Google search results pages.

For more information, please visit


The Google Checkout Team

10 Great Magento Extensions – Part III

We’ve compiled some lists of Magento extensions previously. You can find the previous collections here:

Here are some more extensions that add a lot to your eCommerce store.

#1 – Follow Up Emails

The Follow Up Email extension is a powerful auto-responder and customer relationship tool that helps to keep your site in the customer’s mind always. Use this automated email follow up Magento module and you’ll never lose track of your customers even if they have abandoned their shopping carts. You can set up as many alerts as you want.
Demo | Extension Info | Price: $199

#2 – Easy Catalog Images

This extension will help to display child categories in products catalog. Installation and configuration will take approximately 5 minutes.
Demo | Extension Info | Free

#3 – Canonical URL for Magento

This extension adds the new canonical links to the head of your Magento pages.
Extension Info | Free

#4 – Daily Deals

Daily Deals Extension for Magento With an eye catching flash countdown our extension adds a deal of the day functionality to your magento store.
Demo | Extension Info | Price: $99

#5 – Customers Who Purchased This…

The extension displays in different Magento blocks products that were purchased by other customers together with the product being viewed.
Demo | Extension Info | Price: $39

#6 – PDF Customiser

Easily change the look of your PDF print-outs. This extension adds 20+ new options to your Magento back-end to fully customise the PDFs your shop produces.
Extension Info | Price: $59

#7 – Unirgy Gift Certificates

Allow your customers to purchase and use Gift Certificates.
Extension Info | Free

#8 – Refer A Friend

Refer a Friend extension is a smart piece of software that helps you benefit from a combination of viral and affiliate marketing (without launching a conventional affiliate program). It stimulates your customers to invite their friends to your store.
Demo | Extension Info | Price: $99

#9 – Product Questions

Let your potential customers ask you product-related questions and display the answers on the product page itself.
Demo | Extension Info | Price: $129

#10 – Call For Price

This mod adds a new administration tab to all products that will provide the option to remove the “add-to-cart” button from that products Grid/List/Display page and allow you to display a custom text snippet of your choice. This is great for items which have a MAP policy that does not allow you to show a price.
Extension Info | Price: $27

Did we miss any of your favorite Magento extensions? Let us know in the comments.

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