Category Archives: Blog

Is Your Website Banner too Big?

Is your site feeling slow? When it comes to your website’s performance, there are many variables that can cause your site to load & react slowly. One common (and easy to fix) cause could be your banner or hero images.

Banner images are the large images that appear as the background or above the fold of your page. When it comes to performance drops on your website, it’s important to reflect on any new images you may have uploaded to your banner recently. While images are a key part of making our websites attractive, unoptimized banner can easily slow down your site.

Unoptimized banner images tend to be images that are much too large for your site to load quickly. While you may think that your images need to be large to maintain their visual appeal, most images can be both smaller and compressed and still look good! In order to tell if your banner images are too big, you need to take a look at your banner’s dimensions, file size, and image format type.

Banner Dimensions

Banner dimensions are the physical size of your banner image. In most cases, banner dimensions are measured in pixels since your banner will be appearing on a screen. Take a look at the banner image you uploaded and analyze its properties: how big is it? While there isn’t a set dimension that works for all websites, the largest size your banner appears as on a screen is the largest dimension it needs to be. Open your website on a desktop screen and use the Inspector Tool to measure how large it is in pixels. If your original banner image is much bigger than the max dimensions your banner appears on your site, your banner is too big.

Banner File Size

Your banner’s file size is the amount of space your image takes up on your server. File sizes are measured in Bytes (B), Kilobytes (KB), Megabytes (MB), Gigabytes (GB), and so forth. When it comes to your banner images, it is best to keep your banner images under 1 MB, if not closer to 150 KB. The larger your image file size is, the harder it is for your server to send it over to a customer’s screen. If you look at the properties of your banner image and find that it is well over a few Megabytes, your banner image is much too big.

Banner Image Format

The image type of your banner images can play a large role in how big it is in terms of its file size. Popular image formats you may see banners exported in are PNG, JPEG, GIF, and WebP. Each image type has its advantages and disadvantages. PNGs and GIFs, for example, tend to be much larger than JPEGs and WebPs. JPEGs, however, can’t be used to create transparent images while PNGs can. In the past, WebPs were not supported by certain browsers, which made it risky to use. It is important to consider what your banner image looks like & where it will appear when determining its image format. Overall, when in doubt, the JPEG image format is a small, but quality image format to use for your banner images.

Want to Learn More?

Optimizing your banner images can require using image editing tools. Download our free Banner Optimization Guide to learn how you can make your banner images smaller with Photoshop or GIMP!

Getting Your Online Store Ready for the Holidays

Some of the largest shopping holidays are coming up in the next few months! From Black Friday to Christmas, now is the time to make sure your online shop is ready to handle the rush. Are you prepared?

Promotional events can be stressful, but proper preparation can make all the difference. When it comes to promotional events, prep can start months in advance. Where do you start?

Set clear goals & objectives

The first step to getting ready for promotional events is to set your conversion goals. What do you want to achieve? Increasing sales, acquiring new customers, and enhancing brand visibility are just a few goals you may consider. Whatever your goals may be, they should be clear and at times specific. If you want to increase sales, how many sales do you want your promotional event to make? Determining a number to aim for can help you track the progress of your goals better.

Buckle Down on Website optimization

When it comes to promotional events that will bring an influx of traffic to your site, it’s important that your site runs smoothly. Optimizing your site can involve checking many moving parts. Speed and performance optimization are key to ensuring your site can handle the increased traffic. Other important aspects to consider are mobile optimization, user experience, navigation, and your site’s checkout process. Depending on what kind of promotional event you are running, take into consideration the visual appeal of your promotional content as well. Overall, promotional events are great opportunities to bring in new and old customers, so crafting the best experience is key. Test your website thoroughly!

Schedule and Create Marketing content

When creating your marketing content for social media, email, and so forth, make sure to schedule it ahead of time. Promotional events can get hectic once started, but with the use of social media or email management tools, you can prepare and schedule the majority of your marketing material ahead of time, giving you room to breathe. Note that it is important to carefully choose how often and at what times you want your marketing material to go out. Analyze existing marketing efforts and identify any times or days that your users are more engaged with your content. With those times and days in mind, create your promotional marketing schedule!

Monitor & maintain analytics

No matter how prepared you are, issues and surprises can sneak up on you, so it’s important to be watching your site for the unexpected. From website crashes to sales performance, analytics tools like Google Analytics 4 can help you fix issues as quickly while also giving you an overview on how well your promotional event is performing so far. Analytics can help you better measure how successfully you have reached your promotional event goals, as well as give insight into what works and what doesn’t work.

Take Time for Post-holiday analysis

When your promotional event is over, preparation for your next promotional event starts! Take some time to look at your analytics and think over the results of your work. Did you reach your goals? Did the results fall flat, or far exceed them? Identify areas where your promotional strategy was strong and other areas that were underwhelming. By taking all of this into consideration, you can create new goals to reach as well as tweak your strategy for your next promotional event.

Want to Learn More?

Promotional events are great opportunities to increase sales and to engage with new and old customers! To learn more about how you can prepare for upcoming promotional events, listen to our podcast where we dive further into how you can prepare!

Common Mistakes That Can Ruin Your Core Web Vitals Scores

When it comes to your site’s Core Web Vitals, it can be frustrating trying to figure out how to improve your site’s score. There are so many areas that could be causing problems, where do you even start? Lucky for us, there are some common mistakes that negatively impact your site’s Core Web Vitals that we can fix first!

What are Core Web Vitals?

Core Web Vitals are a collection of metrics created and tracked by Google. These metrics measure multiple aspects of the user experience on websites, measuring things like speed, accessibility, best practices, and Search Engine Optimization (SEO.) Think of it like a health checkup for your site!

Why are Core Web Vitals Important?

Measuring and improving your site’s Core Web Vitals not only helps your site perform better, but also can increase your rank in Google search queries. Google includes these metrics into the search query criteria with the goal of showing quality sites first.

Common Website Mistakes to Avoid

When it comes to your Core Web Vital scores, there are many things that can bring your score down. However, there are a few common mistakes that, if fixed, can increase your Core Web Vitals scores all around!

Using too many Plugins & Add-Ons

While plugins, add-ons, and analytics tools can enhance the functionality of your website, they can also negatively impact your Core Web Vitals in multiple ways. Each plugin and add-on you incorporate to your site needs resources to run. If you have too many plugins and add-ons, your site’s loading times will be slowed down, decreasing your site’s performance score. Certain kinds of plugins can also cause your page to shift around if your loading times are heavily impacted. Overall, it is best to use only the plugins and add-ons you need and to make sure that those they are loaded after the visible aspects of your page have appeared.

Not Optimizing your Images

Having large images and too many images on a page can heavily impact the speed of your site. Large images take more resources and time to load. One of the most common places we find large images is on the front page of a website. The banner image can often slow websites down a lot, negatively impacting not only your site’s performance, but user experience as well. Having multiple images can lead to the same scenario. To avoid this issue, make sure to size your images based on what you need. Many images can be resized and exported at less than perfect quality and still look great!

Using too many Fonts

Fonts are an important aspect of your website. Depending on the types of fonts you use and how many you incorporate into your website, both performance and accessibility can be negatively impacted. Custom fonts with large, unoptimized font files can affect load times as your site tries to unpack and illustrate them to your users. The same situation can happen when requiring your site to unpack multiple fonts at once. Best practice wise, keep your fonts simple and avoid using too many fonts on your site. Simple fonts not only are better optimized, but are easier for all of your customers to read.

Not Prioritizing Above the Fold Content

Above the Fold Content is the content your user sees first when arriving at your webpage. For many, you may think of your site’s home page when you think of above the fold content. The first things your user may see are a banner, site menu, call to actions, and some information about your site in. However, what loads first? You have to be careful when it comes to loading your front page and make sure that the content your user sees first loads first. Plugins, large banner images, resizing, and loading other elements first can slow down your site, negatively impacting your site’s performance. Make sure to optimize your above the fold content with fast loading elements while having the rest of your font page load after.

Using a Heavy Theme for your Site

When designing your website, choose your site theme wisely. Themes include all sorts of assets to make your site stand out but can be too heavy to load quickly. Assets such as images, videos, CSS styles, and JavaScript libraries all make up a theme, and if many of these assets are large, they can significantly slow down the loading speed of your web page. Use simpler themes when possible and try to optimize your theme if needed through compressing and optimizing some of the large assets it contains. “Lazy Loading” non-critical parts of your themes can also help!

Want to Learn More?

When it comes to improving and maintaining your site’s Core Web Vitals, we highly suggest making a routine out of checking them! Download our free Core Web Vitals Checklist to learn how you can measure your Core Web Vitals, understand the metrics, and improve your them!

Earn Passively: 3 Strategies to Start Making Passive Income

Ever wanted your business to make money passively, even on your off days? It’s a dream many share, and the good news is that it’s entirely possible with the right passive income strategies!

What is Passive Income?

Passive income is the process of earning profit over time with minimal effort or activity involved. There may be effort and time involved in the initial set up of passive income strategies, but once complete, they need minimal tweaks & maintenance to run.

How can I make Passive Income?

When it comes to passive income, there are multiple strategies to choose from.  A successful passive income strategy is one that aligns with your business’ strengths and target audience. However, there are a handful of strategies that can be effective for all sorts of businesses:

1. Automated Marketing

One of the easiest passive methods of income you can implement into your business is automated marketing. Automating marketing interactions through event-based emails and a constant stream of social media content can bring both new and old customers back to your site with minimal effort!

With automated marketing, you can create collections of content that are sent automatically to customers that meet them where they are in the customer journey. With the help of an email management system such as AWeber, you can do things like send a “Welcome” email sequence to a new subscriber of your email as well as “post-purchase” emails for those who have purchased from you. Automating social media through a social media management system such as MeetEdgar helps introduce and remind customers of your products and services, giving your business continuous visibility. Overall, automated marketing allow you to nurture your customers passively, deepen your connection with your customers, and encouraging repeat customers.

2. Loyalty Programs

Customer Loyalty Programs encourage repeat customers by giving more incentives for customers to purchase your products through rewards, point systems, personalized content, and so forth. From offering exclusive discounts to sending free products, loyalty programs can be automated through customer loyalty software incorporated into your site and assisted with automated email marketing. A point system could be used that adds points to a user’s account depending on their purchases. Once they reach a certain number of points, they can receive a reward. Email marketing can help in reminding them about their point count as well as what rewards are available. Through both of these, you can streamline loyalty operations and provide perks for your repeat customers!

3. Digital Products

If you want to bring more value to your customers, digital products are a great place to start! Digital products are products that are distributed electronically either by being downloaded, streamed, or accessed online.

Digital products are things like e-books, online courses, templates, workshops, and so forth. When it comes to creating a digital product that can make passive income, you need to think of two things: first, what do your customers want to know? And second, how do they want to receive it? As a business owner, you have a lot of valuable information to share. If you sell garden equipment, for example, you could create a garden planner cheat sheet for your customers that has a list of plants and what months to plant them in. For a small amount of money, your customers can download this cheat sheet and use it to better optimize their garden plans. Despite the sheet being cheap, it’s a form of automated income that can add up if it resonates well with your customer’s needs! Through digital products, you can give value to your customers while also making income passively.

Want to learn more?

Passive income is just one method we can use to grow our businesses! To explore other options for passive income and learn more about how it works, listen to our podcast where we dive into our own experiences with passive income strategies!

Should I rebrand? 5 Signs that it’s time to think about rebranding your business

As your business grows, you may find that it has changed. Whether it be due to the marketplaces it inhabits or the audience it reaches, your business may feel different compared to the business vision you started with. Should you rebrand?

Rebranding your business

Rebranding your business is the process of changing your company’s image. As people, we change our images overtime. Our clothing style may change with what’s popular, and our interests evolve as we experience new things. The same applies to our businesses.  Rebranding your business involves changing various elements such as your company name, logo, design, messaging, and so forth.

Just as we change as people, it’s normal for your company to change overtime and need a partial or complete rebranding. However, rebranding is a big deal and needs to be approached with careful planning. Without a proper plan, your business can be negatively impacted by rebranding, so it’s important to be sure that your business will benefit from an image change.

When should I consider rebranding?

Since rebranding has risks, it’s important to be sure that you are starting the rebranding journey for the right reasons. Some signs that you should consider partial or complete rebranding are:

1. Your business focus or strategy has changed

When you first started your business, you had a vision in mind. Your products, services, and mission were the founding drivers of your business, but over time, those founding goals may not reflect where your business stands now. Your company may have grown to include totally different products or services while others have faded out. Your overall mission statement may have evolved as your once small audience grew to include a variety of customer types. In a moment like this, where your business has outgrown its original focus and strategy, rebranding is an effective solution to make it easy for old and new customers to understand what your business is for.

2. Your target audience has shifted

Audiences change whether we like it or not. The customers your business attracted in the beginning may be very different or much broader today. The ways they find you may have changed. Your company may also have grown to new marketplaces and locations, each requiring different ways of talking to different groups of customers. Rebranding your messaging, slogans, call for actions, voice and so forth to better communicate with your evolving audience is important to making it easy for new customers to find your business and feel at home with it.

3. Your branding is outdated

With eCommerce businesses especially, technology is completely different than it was 20 years ago! Designing a website comes with so many more options now, allowing us to make beautiful, sleek online shops. Visual art has evolved with time as well. The kinds of logos that resonate with audiences today are different than others, especially when you consider that your logos are not only on your site, but also on social media, mobile apps, and so forth. Visually rebranding to make your site and brand visually distinct and attractive to your audience is important to standing out, especially in the world of eCommerce.

4. Your marketplace has evolved

The products and services you originally started with may have been niche and in demand at the time, but are they still today? New competitors and technological advancements can cause your current branding to no longer stand out. Updating your catalog of products and services to evolve with improved solutions is necessary to stay current even if it requires changes to your branding. Keeping an eye out for business opportunities and pitfalls in your marketplace that you can take advantage of or avoid are also worthwhile rebranding opportunities.

5. Your customers desire change

When you think about customer feedback that you have received, does anything stand out? Is there something that your customers either keep complaining about or keep asking for that requires a rebrand for your company? Your customer words are important, so encouraging customer feedback and analyzing it can help you find signs that your brand may need tweaked or updated.

Want to learn more?

Rebranding isn’t easy, but it can be a necessary step in some cases. Here at BCSE, we are facing the struggles of rebranding right now! Listen to our podcast where we share our own questions and journey surrounding rebranding, specifically when it comes to changing your company name!

The Art of Setting Effective Conversion Goals: Strategies for Success

When it comes to your eCommerce business, having conversion goals is key to optimizing your business’s online presence and improving its conversion rates. However, not all goals are created equal: how do we create conversion goals that truly work for us and generate results?

What are conversion goals?

Conversion goals are created by putting yourself in the shoes of your users. Conversion goals are the specific actions that you want your users to take when they interact with your website and marketing material. Some common actions you may want your customer to take are:

  • Purchasing your product or service.
  • Generating a lead by signing up for your newsletter, downloading a freebie, or requesting a quote.
  • Signing up or registering for an account on your site.
  • Submitting a form for inquiries, feedback, or support.
  • Engaging with your site for certain periods of time and/or multiple times.
  • Following and reacting to your business’ social media accounts.
  • Booking appointments, reservations, or consultations.
  • Donating or volunteering (for nonprofit organizations.)
  • Providing feedback or filling out a survey.
  • Referring a new customer to use your products & services.
  • Requesting a free trial or demo of your product or service.

Types of Conversion Goals

Primary Goals

Primary goals are the most important actions that you want a customer to take when interacting with your business. For many companies, “making a purchase” tends to be the most common primary goal. Other common important conversion goals could be “generating a lead” or “requesting a trial or demo of your products.” Overall, your primary goals are actions that have a high chance of turning visitors into customers.

Secondary Goals

Secondary goals are actions that support your primary goal. If your company’s primary goal is for customers to “make a purchase,” you may be tracking events such as downloading a freebie, interacting with your site for long periods of time, or following you on social media. Secondary goals note important steps in the customer journey that bring visitors closer to our primary goals.

What makes a good conversion goal?

Clear & Concise

Having clear goals is the first step to creating a good conversion goal. Your goals should be specific and actionable. For example, “increasing engagement” is not a clear goal. It is too vague to measure and could apply to multiple aspects of your users’ experience. Instead, your goal should be “increase email signups.” This latter goal is easier to focus on and clearly tells you what part of your site you will be working on.

Aligns with Business Objectives

Your conversion goals should be in line with your business objectives as a whole. Afterall, working on a goal that isn’t relevant to your business goals could lead to wasted resources and unimpactful results.

Takes into Account User Intent

When creating conversion goals, you need to understand not only what you want from your customers, but what your customers want from your business. What are your customers’ needs right now? Where are they looking for solutions? When are they ready to make a purchase? Understanding where your customers are on the customer journey and how to give them what they want while also achieving your own goal is key to a successful conversion goal.

Quantifiable & Measurable

Your goals should not only be clear but should also be something you can track and make data-driven decisions on. For example, if your goal was to “increase email signups,” you can make your goal much more specific by making it to “increase email signups by 20% in the next quarter.” With your improved goal, you have a percentage number to quantify the goal’s success against. You also have a time-limit that you can use to measure how realistic your goal is compared to the efforts your company could manage in that time-span.


When it comes to setting our goals, you need to make sure that you aren’t being unrealistic. For example, if our conversion goal is to “increase profit”, we may ideally want to increase profit by a very large margin. However, is that realistic? Setting unrealistic goals results in your goals never generating successful results since the goal itself isn’t achievable. Use past data and research to set achievable goals and adjust as needed.


When putting resources towards your conversion goals, it’s important to prioritize them. Which goals are your primary goals? Which are your secondary goals? Arrange them according to the impact they will make on your overall business objectives. Another way you can arrange them is based on the customer’s journey: What will your customer do first? What actions will they take next?

Testing & Iteration

Often times, we can’t say for sure if our conversion goals or the efforts we put towards them will be successful. That’s why it is important to consider the variety of efforts we can put towards our goals and conduct tests to see which approach is most successful. For example, let’s say one of your conversion goals is for more customers to “sign up for my newsletter.” You may have a variety of Calls-to-Action (CTAs) that you and your team feel could make your newsletter signup button more attractive. Test multiple CTAs and see if there is one CTA that gets more clicks than the other!

Tracking & Analytics

Measuring your conversion goals can be hard, but with the help of tracking and analytics, you can better measure if your conversion goals are being met. Using tools such as Google Analytics 4 can help us monitor key metrics that relate to our goals. For example, if we are tracking how long users visit or interact with our site, we can track “User engagement” to better understand what holds their attention and what doesn’t.

Want to learn more?

Conversions goals act as a roadmap to achieving your business objectives! Read our blog or listen in to our podcast for more tips and guides on making your business the best it can be! If you want more hands-on guidance for improving your website, join the waitlist for Carrie Saunders’ upcoming course, “The Converting Website.” In this course, she will dive into a variety of important factors that aim to optimize your website.

Email Security: Keeping your Personal & Private Data Safe

Whether it be for personal or business communications, we use email daily. Newsletters, invoices, bank statements, personal conversations, and even more sensitive information such as passwords and personal identification data are shared via email all the time. The potential of acquiring valuable information makes email a prime target for target for cyberattacks & data breaches: How can we protect ourselves when using email?

Keeping Our Emails Safe

Email security is more important than ever. With sensitive data being exchanged via email, including passwords, financial data, personal data, and so forth, you need to be able to protect yourself and your business. Compromised email security can lead to identity theft, financial loss, reputation damage, and unauthorized access to other accounts, personal or business. The best way to avoid an email security breach is to educate yourself and your fellow colleagues or employees about what an email attack can look like and the steps you can take to prevent them.

Common Email Security Threats


Phishing attacks are one of the most common email attack email users encounter. Email phishing is when an attacker attempts to impersonate a legitimate organization to trick you into giving them information. An example could be an attacker pretending to be Amazon and asking you to update your payment information. Another example could be an attacker pretending to be your bank, asking you to reset your password. In both cases, these emails are designed to look like the organization they are impersonating and contain some sort of call to action with a link. Following the link results in a prompt to give them the desired information.


An email malware attack is when an attacker attempts to impersonate a legitimate organization to trick you into clicking or downloading a malicious file or link to your computer. For example, a malware attack could an attacker pretending to be a billing email that sends you a PDF statement or link to view your statement. In both cases, clicking would result in downloading a malicious file containing a virus that infects not only your computer, but other devices on your network.


Spoofing attacks occur when an attacker impersonates a legitimate user, acting like them to steal sensitive information. While phishing and spoofing attacks sound the same, the big difference between spoofing and phishing is that a spoofing attack tends to be manual in nature and involves disguising not only the email, but the email address as well to successfully deceive readers.

Email Eaves Dropping

Email eaves dropping involves an attacker intercepting & reading your email conversations in search of valuable information. Emails are often sent as plain text, meaning that as they are sent from your computer to the email server, an attacker could catch and read them. An example of this could be an attacker intercepting an email that contains your login credentials for an account or service.

Strategies to Enhance Email Security

Create Strong Passwords – Creating passwords that are hard to crack is an essential part to protecting your emails and email account. Passwords should be decently long as well as complex, containing letters (uppercase and lowercase), numbers, and symbols. The complexity of our passwords is usually held back by what we can remember. Using a password manager, such as KeyPass or 1Password, can help you have unique passwords for all your accounts while only having to remember one, complex password.

Enable 2-Factor Authentication (2FA) – Multi-factor authentication may make logging in feel longer or tedious, but having something like 2FA enabled on your email lessens the likelihood of an attacker getting into your email account. This is because 2FA often requires us to verify ourselves on another device, a device an attack may not have access to.

Encrypt Emails – Encrypting emails is the process of scrambling our plain text emails into something unreadable. The email can only be unscrambled by the recipient of the email, meaning that your email cannot be easily read during transmission! For any sensitive or business emails, encrypted emails are very important.

Update Email Software – Keeping our email clients & operating systems up to date is key to making sure that any vulnerabilities discovered are fixed as soon as possible.

Only Email on Secure Networks – When you are out and about, let’s say, at a coffee shop, be mindful of the emails you send. Public Wi-Fi networks are prime targets for data interception, so when it comes to emailing on them, it is best to not share any sensitive information until you are back on a secure, password protected network.

Incorporate Email Filtering & Antivirus Software – Since email attacks are a known issue, most email services offer email filtering & antivirus scanning services for users. Moving certain emails to “Spam” or “Junk” as well as warning users about questionable emails received are some of the ways our email clients can help us.

Encourage Email Education – The most important and impactful way that we can prevent email attacks and data loss is to make sure that we practice and teach mindful emailing to our colleagues and employees. Often times, knowledge about email security varies drastically between different people at the same job, so making sure that each worker knows to be cautious with email and the data we send is key to keeping our businesses and personal information safe.

Analyze Suspicious Emails – Email attackers work hard to make their emails look legitimate, but often times, there are ways we can identify suspicious features about these emails that show their true nature. One way we can do that is to hover over links in the email. Is it the correct domain name? Do you recognize it? Never click on a link you are unsure of.

The Future of Email Security

As with all technology, email continues to evolve. That also means that the attacks against email will continue to change and advance as well. Keep up with email security practices as well as email security news. When you find yourself reading an email that you don’t think is right, step back from it and do not hand over sensitive information until you and your team can conclude its authenticity.

Want to learn more?

Keeping your business secure is the key to your success! Check out our latest podcast episode where we dive deeper into website security and the strategies we can use to keep sensitive data safe.

Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) vs. Downloadable eCommerce Solutions

Whether you are just starting your eCommerce journey or are growing an existing eCommerce business, finding the right platform to host your online storefront is key to your success. However, when exploring the options available for your business, it can be hard to tell which solution fits your business best. To make a decision that works best for your specific business, you need to understand the pros and cons of the two most common solutions: Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solutions and Downloadable software solutions.

What is Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) for eCommerce?

Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) eCommerce solutions are hosting platforms that are provided on a subscription basis. Just like a subscription video service such as Netflix, SaaS solutions involve a fixed fee every month to host your online store. In the case of SaaS eCommerce solutions, you are “renting” the platform for your online store.

What are the Pros of SaaS Solutions?

Fixed monthly cost – SaaS solutions have a set monthly cost rather than paying for new features or changes to your site as they come. This is more so a matter of preference, but for some, having a set cost in the beginning is easier to maintain and account for. Another benefit of subscription pricing is that SaaS platforms may sell their services in tiers, allowing you to choose from a variety of plans and change your plans as you grow.

Hands-off installation & maintenance – With SaaS solutions, a service provider often handles the installation & updates of your new online platform, removing the need for technical knowledge and a server to house your site. Also, any licensed software that comes with the platform, such as tools and applications, are kept up to date by the service provider rather than scheduled on your calendar.

Scalable as your business grows – Business growth can happen unexpectedly, requiring you to grow your platform and features. With a SaaS solution, upgrading your platform can be as simple as changing your plan to a different tier rather than manually scaling your website on your own.

What are the Cons of SaaS Solutions?

Customizations are limited – With SaaS solutions, you are given limited features and options to create your site. In the case of certain features, you may find that there aren’t any available options to do what you are envisioning, and since you don’t own the software, you can’t create your own customized feature easily.

Price can increase with features & growth – As a subscription-based service, SaaS solutions require you to change plans if your business becomes too big or requires certain features that aren’t part of your original plan. That means that the only way to handle your growing business is to pay a higher fee every month.

Harder to make your site stand out – With limited customizability available in a SaaS service, you can run into the issue of your site looking like every other SaaS based website. There are only so many options built into SaaS solutions to personalize your site, so often, your site can end up looking “cookie cutter” like, where your site has the same look and feel as others who use the same features and themes as you do.

What is Downloadable Software for eCommerce?

Downloadable software eCommerce solutions are hosting platforms that can be locally downloaded and maintained. Rather than “renting” space like you would in a SaaS solution, downloadable eCommerce solutions are installed in a place of your choosing. In most cases, downloadable eCommerce solutions are bought at a fixed, one-time price or are open source alongside a set monthly hosting fee.

What are the Pros of Downloadable Solutions?

Fully customizable – With downloadable solutions, you are able to download the full package of your platform, code and all. This means that you can freely customize your site. Custom features, themes, scripts, and so forth can be incorporated freely into your platform without penalty.

One time license fee or free software – Downloadable solutions are often bought at a one-time license fee and can even be free to use, such as open-source software. Just like with SaaS, when and where you want to spend money on your eCommerce journey is a matter of preference, but some business owners prefer to buy only what they need at the moment rather than pay on a fixed monthly basis.

New features are bought as needed – When it comes to adding new features to your platform, you are free to add any kind of feature you want unlike a SaaS based solution. If the feature is something that you and your team can’t build yourself, other professionals can be brought into build the feature for you as needed, allowing you to plan out your spending.

What are the Cons of Downloadable Solutions?

Technical knowledge is required – Downloadable solutions require you and your team to install and maintain your hosting platform. Any new or custom features would also be created and installed by your team or a hosting provider. Both require varying degrees of technical knowledge.

Updates & maintenance are done manually – Unlike SaaS solutions that may automatically update your software and platform, it will be up to your team or hosting provider to ensure that everything is up to date and working correctly. For some downloadable solutions, updates may involve simply clicking the update button. Others may require further steps to complete.

Scalability can be complex – As your business grows, you will have to scale your business platform and features with a downloadable solution. This may require your team manually upgrading your platform, machines, and so forth to scale appropriately, or, in some cases, require either a specialist or your hosting provider to help with the technical details.

Want to learn more?

While Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) and Downloadable eCommerce solutions may be different, both have the tools to create successful eCommerce businesses. Choosing your solution requires understanding your business needs, both present and future. Once you understand what features and abilities you must have, you can more easily determine which solution is best for you. To help you decide between SaaS or Downloadable solutions, download our FREE SaaS or Download Decision Making Guide! This guide walks you through a handful of steps that aim to layout your business’ must-haves and can’t-haves in order to more easily see if SaaS or downloadable eCommerce solutions are right for you. Other resources can be found on our blog and podcast.

Fostering Lifelong Customers: The Power of Segment Marketing

When it comes to nurturing long-term customers, it’s important to put yourself in their shoes: What keeps you coming back to certain shops and products? For many, the answer to this question revolves around shops that resonate with them. The marketing of products and services is most successful when customers feel seen and heard. That’s where segmentation marketing can turn a one-time buyer into a lifelong customer.

What is segmentation marketing?

Segmentation marketing is the process of dividing your customer base into groups based on commonalities around what they respond to and how they shop. Since some of your customers may have different pain points, desires, and experiences than other customers, segmenting allows you to speak to each group of customers in a way that resonates specifically with them. Overall, segmenting is the process of creating tailored experiences for large groups of customers.

By incorporating segmentation into your marketing strategies, you can better foster customer loyalty by creating a brand that really speaks to your customers. Through retention, you also encourage higher conversion rates overtime and can create better products and experiences for your customers since you can understand them more deeply through segment testing. All of these give your company a competitive edge over other businesses.

How can we segment our customers?

There are a variety of ways you can analyze your customer base and divide them into segments. Some common groupings are based on the following:

  • Demographic – you can segment your customers on factors such as age, income, gender, race, education, and occupation.
  • Geographic – you can segment your customers based on their physical location.
  • Firmographic – If your customers are other businesses, you can segment your customers based on factors such as employee count, office space, customer markets, revenue, and so forth.
  • Psychographic – you can segment your customers based on their personalities, lifestyles, opinions, and interests.
  • Behavioral – if you have data collected on your customers, you can segment them based on how they act: what they buy, spending habits, ads they click on, and so forth.

How do I get started with segment marketing?

Define your goals

Before you start pondering segments and strategies, it’s important to define what you want to get out of segmentation marketing. Increased customer retention, improved engagement, boosted sales, and so forth are possible goals you may want for your business. These goals will guide you as you establish your segments.

Identify segmentation opportunities

To divide your customer base up into segments, you need to understand who your customer base is and determine what criteria would be applicable to your specific market. As with most content creation, you need to have a good understanding of what kinds of people your products and services are for. What are their pain points, needs, and expectations? What are some commonalities between them that pop out immediately to you? It is in this step that you will start to determine what kind of segments best suit your customer base: demographic, psychographic, behavioral, etc.  

Note: Be wary of being too niche

When you begin to create segments, you need to keep in mind the size and profitability of them. We can segment our customer bases into a variety of small groups with niche interests and characteristics, but if creating and implementing marketing campaigns for those niches cost more than what your company would gain in return, the segment may be too niche to work. Be careful of dividing your customers into too small segments.

Establish your ideal customers

Once you have a collection of valuable segments, an activity that can help you get started brainstorming content for each segment is to identify your ideal customer for each segment. Who are they? What do they want? What are their struggles? What do they respond to in existing marketing? By answering questions like these, you can start to come up with ideas for content that will again resonate with each segment.

Craft target messages and offers

With your ideal customer per segment in mind, create marketing material that is tailored for each group. One thing to keep in mind is that the message should be coherent per segment and, to a degree, should make sense in the narrative of your overall business message. An example could be that you sell apparel and are dividing up your marketing based on the products bought. How you talk about shoes may be different than how you talk about dresses. Your company’s main message may be to sell quality apparel. That message should still be present in your segment marketing for both shoes and dresses.

Implement, Measure and Refine

Once you have your content created, it’s time to incorporate those into your communication channels. An important factor to keep in mind is planning out how you will track the success of each segment implementation. For your website, you may use an analytics program like Google Analytics 4 to track how engaged your customers are with your segmentation marketing. For your emails, you may use built in analytics from your email management system, such as with AWeber, to keep track of how well your segment is working. Overall, you want to determine the success of your segment marketing and change it as needed.

Note: Stay updated on your customer base

It’s important to keep in mind that your customer base will grow and change with time. Certain segments of customers may change in their preferences and needs, meaning that you need to stay up to date with your customers’ desires and the successfulness of your existing segments. You may need to dissolve some segments and divide your customers into new ones as your customer base evolves. The best way to stay informed is to collect and analyze data on your customers and segment campaigns.

Where to use segmentation strategies

Once you have a segmentation strategy set up, you can incorporate it into your marketing. Some common places you incorporate your segmentation marketing into are on are your website, social media channels, ads, and customer emails. All of these places are customer facing and may be the first place that a customer is introduced to your products and services. Each communication channel will need tweaks in terms of how you incorporate your marketing into them, but ideally, they should be sharing a coherent message to your segmented group.

Want to learn more?

The better you understand your customers, the better you can craft a business message that meets them where they are! Read our blog or listen in to our podcast for more tips and guides on making your business the best it can be! If you want more hands-on guidance for improving your website, join the waitlist for Carrie Saunders’ upcoming course, “The Converting Website.” In this course, she will dive into a variety of important factors that aim to optimize your website.

Interaction to Next Paint (INP): Measuring your Site’s Responsiveness

When searching in Google, Google serves what it considers to be “the best” sites first. How these sites reach these top positions can be complex, but one collection of metrics that Google takes into consideration is a site’s Core Web Vitals. Originally, there were three main vitals to measure, but now, a new vital has been introduced: Interaction to Next Paint (INP).

What are Google’s Core Web Vitals?

Google’s original Core Web Vitals were released in the summer of 2021 and were created in order to better measure a user’s page experience. Many of these metrics have to do with how fast your page feels. Currently, there are three Core Web Vitals to consider:

  1. Largest Contentful Paint (LCP): How fast does the largest piece of content on your site take to appear? For example, this could be your banner image or video.
  2. First Input Delay (FID): How long does it take for your site to respond to a click from a user? After landing on your page and clicking an item in your menu, how long does it take for the next page to load?
  3. Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS): How stable is your site when loading? Think of your site when it first populates. Does everything jump around as your text, images, buttons and so forth load in?

What is Interaction to Next Paint?

Interaction to Next Paint (INP) is a new metric that focuses on how responsive your page is to all user interactions. Let’s say a user clicks on a button. This button may take them to another page, causing the information presented to them to change. INP measures the time between that user’s click and the presentation of the new page.

Taking a closer look, Interaction to Next Paint (INP) is measured through the sum of three events that take place between a user’s click and the final presentation of request content:

  1. Input Delay – The amount of time that passes between when the user clicked on your page to when the corresponding event is triggered.
  2. Processing Time – The amount of time it takes to execute the code associated with the triggered event in the back-end.
  3. Presentation Delay – The amount of time between when the back-end code is finished executing and when the user is presented the final content.

Isn’t INP just like FID?

As you may notice, it sounds a lot like First Input Delay (FID). INP differs from FID because, rather than measuring only a user’s first interaction with a page, INP measures all page interactions. FID was used more as a base for determining first impressions. INP aims to better measure the responsiveness of your entire site. In March, 2024, INP is expected to become a Core Web Vital and replace FID.

What is a Good INP Score?

The range of INP scores in milliseconds.

A good INP result is a an INP below 200 milliseconds. If your site is below 200 milliseconds, your site has great responsiveness! If your site is somewhere between 200 and 500 milliseconds, that’s a sign that your site’s responsiveness needs some work. If your INP is above 500 milliseconds, your page has very poor responsiveness in the eyes of Google.

How do I measure my site’s INP?

Measuring INP by hand would be difficult if not impossible. Using tools such as Google’s Page Insights, we can measure all available Core Web Vitals in one place! INP is already included in the report.

A Page Insight report illustrating Core Web Vitals.

How can I Improve my Site’s INP?

Knowing exactly why your INP score is poor can take some investigating. A few best practices to consider though when it comes to improving site’s INP are as follows:

  • Optimize your Code – Sometimes, the back-end process of triggering and executing an event can be what is negatively impacting your site’s INP. Optimize your code by removing unused code, rewriting slow scripts, and splitting up code into smaller tasks at a time.
  • Use browser idle time to your advantage – When there is a lot to load on a page, it may be best to pick and choose what loads first! Things such as chat bots, for example, can be set to load while the user’s browser is idle, allowing the important content to load faster.
  • Keep your pages simple – If your site has a lot of content, loading a new piece of content in general may be slow. Avoid using too many large images, videos, animations, and so forth that will slow down the responsiveness of your site.
  • Consider loading content that is visible to the user first – Content-visibility is a CSS property that can control when an element renders. You can use it pick and choose what you load on a new page. You can use content-visibility to load only want the user sees on their screen while loading the rest as needed.

Want to learn more?

To retain customers, we need to create quality user experiences. Read our blog or listen in to our podcast for more tips and guides on making your business the best it can be! If you want more hands-on guidance for improving your website, join the waitlist for Carrie Saunders’ upcoming course, “The Converting Website.” In this course, she will dive into a variety of important factors that aim to optimize your website.