5 Important Add-Ons for Ecommerce Sites

Many popular ecommerce platforms come with valuable tools and features right out of the box. To take your ecommerce website to the next level, however, you might want to consider installing some add-ons. Add-ons and plugins are great tools that can improve many different aspects of your ecommerce site. Some add-ons are free, while others come at a price, but every add-on is designed to perform a specific function to make your ecommerce business better.

Here is an overview of important add-ons that you should consider installing on your ecommerce website:

SEO

Most ecommerce site builders, some free, come with SEO features built in to the system. However, there are plenty of SEO add-ons that help with specific elements. For example, you can install an add-on specifically for images. With this add-on, you can improve your traffic from Google image search results by automatically producing ALT tags for your product images. There are other SEO add-ons that run SEO audits or help you manage your SEO metrics.

Email Marketing

Add-ons are a great way to integrate your ecommerce website with your email marketing provider. Many popular email marketing solutions, like Mailchimp or Campaign Monitor, offer add-ons and plugins for more continuity between your ecommerce platform and your email platform. Plus, you can create targeted abandoned cart email sequences as well as post-purchase thank-you emails.

Pop-ups

Pop-ups are a useful add-on to use along with your email marketing system. There are many popular add-ons and plugins that allow you to create attractive pop-up windows within your website to build your email list. Some add-ons produce pop-ups that occur when a user takes a certain action, like moving their cursor outside the window (as if to exit). Other pop-ups can be created in relation to a link or button on your website.

The most effective pop-ups display an enticing offer to the customer in exchange for their email address. You can experiment with offering free shipping, coupon codes, discounts, or free valuable resources to your customers in order to get them to sign up to your list. You can also A/B test and optimize the design of your pop-up to maximize your conversions.

Customer Service

How are you handling your customer service? With add-ons, you can provide much more than a simple contact page (although you can do that with a plugin too). Customer service add-ons include a variety of ways to assist your customers, including live chat systems, knowledge bases, and feedback buttons.

Live chat software is a particularly popular add-on for ecommerce stores that provides a direct channel for your customers to contact you. In fact, according to a survey conducted by eMarketer, 38 percent of customers who engaged in a live chat said they made an online purchase due to the helpful live chat session itself.

Additional Sales Channels

On-site ecommerce is just one piece of the puzzle. Did you know there are ways to expand your ecommerce business through additional sales channels? For example, Facebook and Pinterest make it possible for customers to buy your products without leaving their social media websites. Add-ons can help you utilize these sales channels by syncing your inventory and integrating your products with social media platforms.

It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the amount of add-ons and plugins available for ecommerce websites. By concentrating on key areas of your ecommerce store, you can narrow down the type of add-ons best for your needs. No matter what add-ons you choose to use, make sure they fit with your strategy to achieve your business goals.

3 Ways to Budget and Create a Savings Plan

Most experts advise consumers to have between six and eight months worth of expenses in an interest-bearing account that can be easily accessed in the event of an emergency. That means that if your monthly bills equate to $5,000, you’ll need between $30,000 and $40,000 stashed away to weather unforeseen financial issues. Getting to that amount means taking a hard look at your spending habits and implementing a savings plan. Here are a few things you can do now to start your savings plan:

1. Bundle your entertainment

Most people today have both cable and internet in their homes and rely heavily on them for entertainment and relaxation. You can save money on these vital services when you choose a company such as Suddenlink that offers specials and discounts when you bundle their services. With options for internet, television, telephone, security and video, most companies have a policy that equates to the more you bundle, the more you save on your bill each month.

2. Sell off your things

Beyond the basic needs that everyone has, there are bound to be possessions that you don’t really need – or even want anymore. Take a look at your kitchen, for example. Do you really need two crock pots and a pressure cooker, or would one appliance take care of your needs most of the time? What about in the garage? Do you really need several sets of tools as backups in case a crucial one breaks or goes missing? Chances are that you don’t remember a time when you did use those excess tools so you won’t even miss them. Post your excess possessions on your favorite local selling or auction site. You can also hold a yard sale for some instant cash that you can bank for your emergency fund.

3. Keep it simple

There are plenty of financial gurus out there that offer sensible plans that can help you reach your savings plan goal. One problem that many people face, though, is the complexity of many of these plans. Some allocate a specific percentage of your take home pay to specific categories like transportation, food, utilities, entertainment and the like. If that doesn’t work for you, consider putting the 50/30/20 rule into effect. This centers around three general categories of spending: fixed expenses, discretionary expenses, and savings goals.

You can allocate your take-home pay as follows:

* 50% for those expenses that are necessary. This category includes mortgage, car payment, utilities and the like.

* 30% for discretionary expenses. Charitable giving, a new tablet, and season tickets to your favorite sports team are just a few of examples that can be placed in this category.

* 20% should be earmarked for your savings goals, such as establishing an emergency fund, contributing to your retirement fund or paying into a 529 plan for your kids.

The above are just some examples are items that belong in the various categories, but they are not going to be the same for everyone. Food, for example, is a necessity but you can choose whether to eat out, which tends to be more expensive or save money by eating at home. If you rely on the internet to help you manage your money and pay bills, it might not be a discretionary expense for you. The trick is to make your savings plan flexible so that it fits your lifestyle instead of you trying to change to fit it.