Category Archives: Blog

Connecting with Users: Finding the Optimal Communication Channel for Effective Engagement

When it comes to building relationships with our customers, we may be lost on where to start. In eCommerce, we can’t simply talk to our customers at the cash register as they browse and shop for our products. Instead, we have a variety of communication channels to choose from, and knowing which one is the “right one” can be hard, especially if we don’t fully know our customers’ preferences. However, by determining what kind of relationship we want to have with our customers, we can better identify channels that we can get started with based on their capabilities and general user base.

Where should I connect with my customers?

Online customers can be found in many places. While they can be found on your own site at times, they are often scattered about the internet on different communication channels. They could be browsing their emails or reacting on social media. They could be at home on their laptop or scrolling on their phone. Defining your users’ preferences can be difficult to do without an already active community, analytics, and overall experience in your field.

One way to gain traction despite the uncertainty surrounding our customers is by taking into consideration the channels we as a business prefer. What channels do we like to use? What kind of connections do we want to build? Different channels often come with their own limitations and benefits, and our business needs can help us figure out where to get started as we grow our business and learn more about our customer base.

What communication channels are out there?


Email is a well-known and trusted way of reaching your customers outside of your website. Despite the growing popularity of other channels, such as social media, email remains widely used across the world. However, one thing to keep in mind about email is that it tends to be seen as a formal, professional method of communication. Customers often expect business updates, notifications, promotions, and personalized offers when it comes to email. While email can be a back-and-forth dialogue in the case of support, email is often used to keep people informed about your business in semi-detailed, asynchronous letters. Read our blog on email marketing to learn more about the effectiveness of email as a line of communication with your customers.


Since almost everyone has a smartphone nowadays, accessing many of these communications channels can easily be done through mobile devices. However, some businesses also use customer phone numbers to connect with users via SMS text messages. Much like email, these text messages may contain updates and reminders regarding orders or scheduled appointments, such as consultations. Time sensitive has also been sent via text message to customers who opt-in for promotions. What makes mobile communication stand out is that, unlike email, these messages are short and concise. Text messages are often not used for detailed conversations with customers.


LiveChat is a communication option that is often accessed through your website by customers if available. Via LiveChat, customers can type or text with a business representative directly. LiveChat is often used for business-related questions and problem solving rather than promotions or updates. Customers go to LiveChat to get support right away. Sometimes, AI is incorporated into these channels to provide automated support 24/7.

Phone/ Call Center

While not all businesses have call centers, phones calls are still a common way that’s customers may use to connect with businesses. On the business side, we may use phones calls to remind customers about an upcoming appointment, or to reach out to a customer who has shown interest in their products. On the customer side, phone calls are often utilized to make appointments and request support. Like LiveChat, phone calls may be used to troubleshoot issues with a customer. While phones calls can be employee intensive, phone calls are crucial for more complex customer support requests.

Social Media

From Facebook to LinkedIn, there are a variety of social media outlets to consider when connecting with users. However, social media is a flexible line of communication. From updating customers on business news to asking them for their opinions, social media is an informal way to engage, entertain, and educate customers. It is often a channel to share the “personality” of your company with your user base. For a deeper dive into how social media platforms can vary, read our blog on using social media to bring more customers to your site.


Forums are community driven channels that are centered around questions and answer dialogues. Like other channels, forums are often used to support and educate customers. However, forums also offer customers an area to talk with other customers, giving them a place to discuss their experiences, complaints, and successes with your products. Overall, forums are a great space to both help your customers and receive insight into their pain points, giving you information to work with when improving your business.

What channel should I choose?

Since every channel has its own unique set of benefits and limitations, it’s common to end up working with multiple channels of communications. Afterall, your own needs as a company may not filled by just one of these channels. However, note that you do not need to have all of them. Trying to do all these channels at once, or even dive too deep into one channel immediately, could result in little gain depending on what your customers end up utilizing. Choose a handful of channels to work with based on what kind of relationship you want to have with your customers. Once you have data and feedback on what your customers want in their relationship with your business, expand to suit those needs.

Want to Learn More?

To effectively communicate with your customer base, it is important to continuously collect and analyze what your customers want so you can optimize your strategy accordingly. 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 help you turn more visitors into customers.

Testing Your Website: Uncovering Issues for Improved Performance

Launching a new website, new content, or new features is an exciting, yet stressful part of eCommerce. On the one hand, we eagerly anticipate the results of our hard work, hoping to see increases in user traffic, engagement, and an overall boost to our online presence. On the other hand, however, we know there is a risk of issues: broken links, sluggish loading times, frustrating usability errors, and so forth. The list could go on and on. The truth is, launching new content often doesn’t immediately deliver the seamless user experience we envision. That’s why it is important to test your website.

The importance of website testing

Performance issues upon the release of new content is a common challenge faced by website owners and developers alike. However, we can lessen the number of issues that occur on our live sites by testing our sites beforehand. To test our site, we simply need to go through it and keep an eye out for anything unexpected. By putting ourselves in the shoes of our users, we can find bugs and issues that they may run into and fix them before officially going live.

How to test your site

While testing your site may sound simple, there are a lot of aspects to consider. How you test your site and what you test your site for can vary dramatically depending on your goal, audience, content, and features. When deciding what to test on your site, you have to consider your personal goals and objectives for your content as well as consider how customers will interact with your site as a whole. However, there are six essential performance areas that all website owners and developers should test before launching new content.

1. Browser Compatibility

One easy way to catch issues with your site is to view your site through different browsers. While our site may look fine and run as expected on one browser, our site may not be fully compatible with others. Browsers such as Google Chrome, Safari, Firefox, Microsoft Edge, Opera, and so forth all have different capabilities, requirements, and features. Due to these differences, issues such as slow load times, unapplied styling, and broken features, or even page failures can occur on different browsers.

When testing for browser compatibility, focus on the browsers that your customers prefer to use. While we could test every browser possible, going through your entire site on multiple browsers would be time consuming. On top of that, certain browsers may not meet your standards of security and application capability, making them an undesirable platform altogether.  Work with the browsers you and your customers care about to optimize your website for those platforms.

2. Responsive Design

Since our customers view our sites on a variety of devices, it is common to design your site to have a responsive design. A responsive design is a site that will adjust your page to suit the device it is being viewed on. Changing the size of text or the arrangement of images, for example, is apart of a responsive design. Now more than ever, making sure that your site experience is consistent across devices is key to creating quality user experiences.

To test the responsive design of our site, we can open our site on devices such as computers, phones, and tablets. We can also use browser tools such as Google Chrome’s Developer Tools to get an example preview of how our site would look on all sorts of devices. Beyond visual appeal, also test how easy it is to navigate and interact with your site. Buttons, sliding banners, and so forth may run into errors on different devices.

3. Site Forms

From newsletter sign ups to account creation, making sure our forms are intuitive and error resistant is important to encouraging users to fill them out. Unresponsive or misplaced fields, missing instructions, and lack of error prevention can cause users to back out of forms or turn in forms with inaccurate information. By testing our forms, we can prevent losing valuable customer interactions.

To test forms, we need to consider the look, responsiveness, and usability of the forms. Are the fields in the right place? Are they styled correctly? Are they all there? Simple questions like these can go a long way. We also want to test filling out and submitting a form. Is it easy to fill out the form? If I put in incorrect information, such as an incomplete email address in the email field, does the form accept it? Do the results of the form populate correctly on the backend? When testing your forms, also check how well your form works when tabbing through the fields since some users may not be using a mouse.

4. Searches & Filters

For many eCommerce sites, there may be a search feature available for users to use. Whether it be searching for relevant pages or through your collection of products, search bars can run into many issues. Search results may be incomplete or showing irrelevant items. They also may not recognize certain words while accepting others. Filter options may not be functioning as intended. Overall, it’s important to do extensive testing of your search bar to ensure that users can find what they are looking for.

To test your search and filter features, start with noting if they are easy to find and use. After that, put yourself in your customer’s shoes and start trying to search and filter your items. Search for your items by type, brand, price, and so forth to see what comes up. Even search for items you do not have. When filtering, check to see if your filters are showing the correct items and if multi-filtering works. Do the filters stay? Are they intuitive to use? Testing your search and filter features can take a while but are well worth it.

5. Add to Cart Functionality

When it comes time to for a user to add your product to their cart, we want to make sure that it is easy, accurate, and transparent. Issues such as missing items, buggy buttons, and missing information can cause potential customers to backout of a purchase. Since adding items to the cart is just the beginning of the checkout experience, it is important to test it thoroughly to ensure quality user experience.

To test your add to cart functionality, try adding your items to your cart. When you add items to the cart, what happens? Make sure that what you expect to happen, whether it be a message with an option to continue shopping, a number placed by a cart symbol, or so forth, happens correctly. We should also check that our add to cart page works properly by testing quantity changes, deleting items, and applying coupons. Another important aspect to keep in mind is subtotals and totals. Do they reflect the price appropriately? Do they change appropriately when things are added or deleted? Is tax and shipping included? Making sure that the shown price is as transparent as possible is important to making users comfortable enough check out.

6. Check Out Experience

Making sure check out is as smooth as possible can be a make it or break it moment for potential customers. The process needs to be simple and sweet, and when testing your checkout experience, you need to consider how you feel about it. Is it too long? Does it make sense? Is there anything confusing? Any sense of inconvenience can stop a user from becoming a customer.

Much like with other tests, you need to go through the check out process as if you are a customer. Keep track of moments where the process stops flowing smoothly so you can address them later. Other things to keep in mind when testing check out is making sure guest check out works, return customer information is retained, payment and shipping options are valid, and any confirmation texts or emails are working appropriately. On the back end, you may want to make sure that orders are being created and saved properly, and that user data is securely stored.

Want to Learn More?

Testing your website to make it as optimized as possible before launch is important to creating quality experiences for your users. Read our blog or listen in to our podcast for more tips and guides on making your site 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.

Keeping your WordPress up & running with Updates: A step-by-step guide

For many of us, WordPress is our go to content management system (CMS) to jump-start our websites. It’s user friendly, flexible, and has a large collection of themes and plugins to help us make our sites uniquely our own. However, in order to use WordPress to its fullest and create the best websites we can, we need to make sure we keep WordPress up and running with routine software updates.

The Importance of Updating WordPress

No matter what you are using to run your website, all software products need updates at times. Whether it be fixing bugs, adding new features, or patching security vulnerabilities, these software updates help your site run safely and smoothly. Using older versions of WordPress leave your site susceptible to hackers, poor performance, and compatibility issues with newer themes and plugins. Overall, keeping WordPress updated will help you keep your site running to its fullest potential!

How do to tell when WordPress needs updated

When you log into your WordPress admin panel, you may notice some numbers circled in red sitting in your navigation list. For updates, red circles may be seen next to “Updates”, “Plugins”, and our “Themes” tabs. These notifications inform us that parts of our site have updates available. For major WordPress updates, you can often find a written notification at the top of your WordPress admin panel as well.  

How to Update WordPress

In WordPress, there are multiple parts of your site that require occasional updates. Your WordPress database, media content, plugins, themes, and core files all will need updated over time. WordPress can automatically run some updates in the background without needing your input, but bigger updates may need your approval.

While updating may sound intimidating, WordPress incorporates the updating process seamlessly into the admin area of your WordPress site. In a click of a button, you will be on your way to having an updated WordPress! However, there is one step you should always take before updating.

Step 1: Backup your WordPress site

While updating WordPress is necessary to keep your site up and running, many website owners hesitate due to the risk that updates can bring. Updates, especially large ones, can at times cause parts of your site to break or stop working correctly. Due to this risk, you should always have a backup of your most current site before performing a major update.

WordPress offers plugins that automatically backup your site for you. However, WordPress documentation still encourages users to manually backup their WordPress sites before running major updates just in case the automatic backups don’t work. It’s better to be sure that you have a current, working copy of your site than to update and scramble to fix new bugs or recover your existing content with an incomplete backup. To learn how to backup your site, visit our step-by-step guide on backing up your site.

Step 2: Updating your WordPress site via the admin panel

Once you are sure you have a backup or your site, you can start the process of updating WordPress. For this guide, we will be referring to WordPress version 6.2.1. To update WordPress, follow the following steps:

  • Log into the Admin of your WordPress site. You would visit To log in, you will need admin access via a username and password.
  • Once in, click the “Updates” tab. Here, we can see everything that needs updated, including themes and plugins.  

Updating WordPress

Under “WordPress Updates,” you will see a message notifying you of a new update. Click “Update Now. When updating WordPress, your site will be in Maintenance mode, so consider updating when your site has little traffic to avoid interrupting users. After updating, a page with details about the update will appear, confirming the completion of the update.

NOTE: If WordPress notices that your database needs updated during this update, a request to update your database may appear. Simply click “Update WordPress Database” to update.

Updating WordPress Plugins

Scroll down to “Plugins” in your “Updates” page. Select the plugins you want to update and click “Update Plugins.” Once done, you will arrive at a page that details the updated plugins.

NOTE: If you find that there are plugins on your list that you don’t use anymore, consider deactivating them or uninstalling them entirely. Unused plugins can pose security and performance threats to your site.

Updating WordPress Themes

Scroll down to “Themes” in your “Updates” page. Select the themes you want to update and click “Update Themes.” Once done, you will arrive at a page that details the updated themes.

NOTE: If you have themes that you may not be using now, but want to keep nonetheless, make sure to keep them up to date. If you don’t plan to use certain themes again, consider deactivating or uninstalling them just as with unused plugins.

How to have WordPress automatically update

WordPress offers automatic updates to their users. However, there are pros and cons to turning on WordPress’ auto-update feature. The benefit of auto-updates is that your site will almost always be up to date with the latest versions, security patches, and so forth. On the other hand, if you use WordPress’ auto-updates, especially for new WordPress versions, you will have less control when it comes to updates breaking your site. Manually doing version updates allows you to ensure that 1) you have a backup available, and 2) you are ready to deal with any errors or bugs that arise.

By default, most sites are set to automatically update your WordPress for minor releases such as security updates. However, you can enable automatic updates for major releases, themes, and plugins, in a few steps.

Enabling auto-updates for core WordPress updates

Log into your WordPress Admin panel and click to the “Updates” Tab. Under your current version, click “Enable Automatic updates for all new versions of WordPress” and auto updates will be set!

NOTE: If you ever want to return to just minor automatic updates, return to the “Updates” tab and click the “Switch to automatic updates for maintenance and security release only” link under the current version of your WordPress.

Enabling auto-updates for WordPress plugins

Log into your WordPress Admin panel and click the “Plugins” tab. In the tab, you will see a list of your installed plugins. For the plugins you want to automatically update, look under “Automatic Updates” and click the “Enable auto-updates” link. Automatic updates will now occur for your plugin!

NOTE: If you ever want to return to manual update for a plugin, return to the “Plugins” tab under “Automatic Updates” click the link “Disable auto-updates.”

Enabling auto-updates for WordPress themes

Log into your WordPress Admin panel and click the “Appearance” tab and click “Themes.” In your list of themes, click on your desire theme. Under the title and creator information, click the “Enable auto-updates” link. Automatic updates will now occur for your theme!

NOTE: If you ever want to return to manual update for a plugin, return to the “Appearance” tab and click “Themes”.  In the desire theme, click the link “Disable auto-updates.”

Want to learn more?

Keeping your website healthy and running is imperative to creating quality user experiences. Read our blog or listen in to our podcast for more tips and guides on making your site 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.

Protect your online asset with backups: A step-by-step guide

Unexpectedly losing our website is a nightmare for most, but an unfortunate reality for others. Server failures, hacker attempts, data corruption, and human error are all common threats that websites can encounter. That’s why it is important backup your website both routinely and often.

The importance of backups

When it comes to online businesses, our virtual storefronts mean everything. It is our way to connect with our customers and serve our communities with our products and services. While many sites may never experience a major failure, the possibility of losing our sites in any way would be devastating. In order to protect our digital assets, data, and livelihood, backing up our sites is a must-have for your website maintenance routine.

By having a backup of your site, you save yourself a starting point for recovery if something were to happen. Something as simple as deleting the wrong file in your home directory can be fixed by restoring a previous backup of your site. Losing your site to a failed server suddenly isn’t as heart wrenching since you can jump start the recovery process with the backup you saved somewhere else. Rather than relying on chance, backups ensure that our sites will be safe and swiftly running despite unexpected failures.

Note: It’s important to ask hosting providers about backups

For online business owners who need their sites hosted by a hosting provider, it is important to consider backups when choosing a provider. Asking questions such as how often they back up your site, how much of your site they back up, how long they keep backups, and how you can access those backups should come into play when deciding how reliable their services are.

Getting started with backups

Backing up a website includes two main parts: copying your files and copying your database. Your files are your actual website: pages, assets, style configurations, code, and so forth. Your database contains important data that lets your site run smoothly, such as your site’s structure, user credentials, cached configurations, and so much more.

When it comes to backing up your site, the process can look different depending on how your site is hosted. However, there are two common ways hosting providers and self-hosting sites can backup their websites: web hosting control panel software and manually through FTP servers.

Backup your site with cPanel

Web hosting control panel software is a web-based interface that allows you to manage your site with ease. Designed with user experience in mind, the software offers a graphical user interface for admins to manage their websites. From changing security settings to managing files, hosting control panel software is a popular way to edit and maintain your website.

One of the most popular web hosting control panel software is cPanel. cPanel is a paid software that many use to manage their websites. It also has built-in tools that can help you backup your website. For those who have cPanel or are hosted by vendors that use cPanel, getting your site backed up is a breeze.

To backup your website with cPanel:

  • Log into cPanel.
  • In cPanel, go to Files and click Backup
  • To download both your files and your database in one shot, go to Full Backup and press Download a Full Account Backup.
  • Next you will be asked to select a Backup Destination. This is where you decide where you want to save the backup of your site. For example, if you select Home Directory, your backup will be saved to your server.
  • Once you have decided where to store your backup, click Generate Backup.
  • Click the Go Back option to check the status backup request. It may take a few minutes. Refresh the page after awhile to see if it is completed.
  • Once it finished generating the backup, you will see links under Backups Available for Download. Select the most recent backup to get a the most up-to-date copy of your site!

Backup your site manually via FTP & the command line

For website owners’ who self-host their own site as well as some hosting providers, manually backing up a website can be easier. Manual backups are a two-step process, meaning that you have to backup your website files and your database separately. Rather than paying for web hosting control panel software, you can backup your site files using a File Transfer Protocol (FTP) client. An FTP client is software that lets you communicate to your server’s FTP Server. Through the FTP client, you can download your site’s files. After that, you would then have to download your database via the command line. To backup your database, you would need to be able to access your server.

To complete this process, you will need to have remote access to your server and your database. This means that you will most likely have two sets of user credentials, a username and password, to access your server and your database.

To backup your site manually:

First, we will download your website files. Open up an FTP client. For this example, we will use FileZilla.

  • If it is your first time connecting to your server, go to File, then Site Manager, and then New Site.
  • Make sure you set the Logon Type to normal. Next, you will need to fill in information concerning the server you are connecting to. Your Host is your website domain name. Your User and Password will be your server credentials. The Port Number will depend on your server’s set up.
  • When complete, click Connect.
  • Once you successfully login, you will see your remote server on the right-hand side of the File-Zilla page while on the left-side of the FileZilla window is your local files. On the left-hand window, navigate to the directory you want to save your backup to.
  • On the right-hand side in your remote server, navigate to your websites root file. This file goes by multiple names, but it is commonly called www, public_html, wps-content, and so forth.
  • Either right click your site’s root folder and click download or drag and drop the folder to your local site to download a backup of your site files.

You have completed the first half of your backup! Next, we need to download your database. Exit FileZilla and open your command line.

  • SSH into your site’s server. This will require your server username and password.
  • Assuming your server is running MySQL, simply use the following command with your personal information:
mysqldump -p -u <database_username> <database_name> --add-drop-table > <path_to_backup_.sql_file>

Hit enter. You should be prompted to enter your database password. If successful, you should now have a backup of your database!

Want to learn more?

Backing up your site is extremely important to do for the safety of your content. We suggest backing up your site often and making a routine of it so that, if the worst came to pass, you have a recent version of your site to recover with. For more tips and tricks to optimize your website as well as other guides, read more on our BCSE Blog!

What do eCommerce customers really want?

When it comes to identifying areas of opportunity on our websites, we have to consider our customers. What do they expect from us? Many times, meeting expectations can be key to turning visitors into customers.

When it comes to eCommerce customer expectations, there are three areas we should focus our attention on in general: Transparency, ease of use, and value.


When it comes to both online and offline storefronts, trust is important. If a customer can’t bring themselves to trust your company or products, they most likely won’t buy from you. In a brick-and-mortar store customers may wonder where or how your products or made, or ponder about your return policies and general customer service. If such questions can’t be answered by the documentation around your store nor your employees, customers may not trust the store enough to do business with you.

Be clear with your policies and processes

Similar to retail customers, online customers share the same concerns. Instead of looking for a poster by the register or an employee to talk to, they expect documentation on your site to ease their concerns. Your return policy, shipping methods, fees, and privacy measures should all be available for customers to see. This transparency will allow customers to understand what the process, benefits and potentials risks are when dealing with your company.

Make sure your products & services are detailed and accurate

Another aspect of transparency is your products. In a physical store front, customers can physically interact with products and ask questions as they go, but for eCommerce stores, customers have less opportunity to ask questions and in general have a shorter attention span. It is important that our product descriptions, images, and stock information are accurate and detailed enough to make our products or services tangible.

Offer a way to contact your company

Even the best sites may not be able to fully answer every question a potential customer may have. The next step for an interested but confused customer would be to contact your company. How can they reach you? It is important to have contact page that is up-to-date and offers multiple avenues of communication for customer service. If your company is quite large, it may not be reasonable to talk to all customers directly. In that case, a chat bot may help answer common questions and hand-off users to someone who can answer the rest.

Ease of use

Customer’s don’t want shopping to be a hassle. The more inconvenient it is to peruse your store, find what they are looking for, and pay for your product, the more likely it is that they will never buy from your business again. The same applies for our online shops: we need to make it as easy as possible to find what they want and buy it.

Optimize your navigation from start to finish

Since shopping online isn’t new, customers may have high expectations when it comes to navigating your online shop. Your website design should be intuitive to use, meaning that the placement of your buttons, call to actions (CTAs), links, and so forth should be placed where users would expect them to be. For example, the contact us button tends to be placed in the upper right-hand corner of your navigation. Users may look to that location out of habit, and if your contact us page is not there, it may leave them confused. The same applies to other aspects of your site: customers have pre-existing ideas of what they can do and will have to do to buy your products.

Optimizing your navigation is a whole site effort. Navigating your product selection, your cart page, and your checkout process are all important to ensuring that your customer has a good experience with your site.

Make sure your site feels fast

How fast your site feels to a customer can be a make it or break it moment. Customers expect your pages to load in a timely manner. If your pages take too long to load, they may just leave your site entirely. Tracking the speed of your site with metrics such as Google’s [] is important to making sure your site is performing well. Beyond load time, the process of going through your site through feel fast as well. How many pages or steps do users have to go through before they arrive at the checkout confirmation page? Keeping things short and sweet will help users feel like its quick and easy to shop at your store.

Consider multiple devices and payment options

When designing a website, we must consider that users may be visiting our site from different locations, and thus different devices.  Phones, tablets, desktops, and so forth can easily access your site, and users will expect your site experience to work on the device of their choice. Making sure that your online shop looks good, runs well, and is easy to use across devices is important.

Another aspect to consider is that users may have different preferences on how they purchase or receive their products. Having a variety of payment methods helps you ensure that you can accommodate multiple customers’ preferred method. The same applies to shipping. Having different shipping options can make buying your product an easy decision rather than a disappointment when a customer discovers that they can’t receive your product.


For a customer, the value of your business comes from your ability to solve their pain points. How will your products and services help them? What makes your company stand out? Why should a customer choose your company over another? For many customers, the answers to these questions are expected to be readily available for them as they consider your company.

Explain why customers should do business with you

When a potential customer first arrives at your page, they want to know not only what your business is about, but why they should consider buying from you. Your “why” should be obvious and visible upon landing on your page. Whether it be a CTA in your above the fold content, or descriptions later down the page, customers don’t want to search too far for why your business is valuable.

Another aspect that customers may want to see is why your business is more valuable than other competitors. What makes your business stand out? Sharing what makes your products and services unique can help answer these questions swiftly rather than leaving customers to search for those answers on their own online.

Put customer reviews where visitors will see them

Customer reviews are key to illustrating your business value to customers in a way that is believable and relatable. While we can explain and praise our own value directly to customers on our own, hearing our value shared by real customers can make our business feel real and legitimate.

Want to learn more?

There are many ways that we can better understand what our customers truly want. Check out our blog for more insight on how to optimize your website for more customers. 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.

To host or not to host: The pros & cons of self-hosting vs. hosting providers

To host or not to host: it’s a question that comes up often for online business owners. Is it better to host my own website or to pay a hosting provider to do it for me? The truth is both are valid answers. When it comes down to choosing how you want to host your website, you need to consider the pros and cons of both options in comparison to your expertise, time, and funds.

What is hosting?

Hosting is the process of allocating storage space and computer resources to run online services. For eCommerce business owners, their online services would include their online storefront: their website. Your website could be hosted in multiple ways: you could self-host it, or you can have a hosting provide it host it.

Self-hosting your website

Self-hosting means you are hosting your website on your own servers. Everything is locally run and maintained by you and your team when self-hosting. This set up comes with many benefits as well as drawbacks:

Pros of self-hosting

Gives you full control over your website – From the tech your website is hosted on to the installed, you have complete control to set up your hosting environment any way you please. By self-hosting, you can pick and choose how much you want to spend on each part of your hosting server, as well as what quality you want those pieces to be. Things like the amount of storage you want, or the speed you want your hosting server to have are up to you rather than limited by a hosting provider.

Allows for quick response time & full transparency – Instead of waiting for technical support on the phone or via email, if something goes wrong or if you want to adjust something in your hosting set up, you can do it yourself right in the moment. You also can set up any amount of analytics on your online service to better understand any issues it may be having as well as monitor your sites traffic more closely.

Let’s you customize your site freely – If you want to change the amount of storage your hosting server has or use a specific software in it, you can incorporate customizations without having to discuss it with a hosting provider first when self-hosting. It’s your equipment, and yours to do as you please.

Cons of self hosting

It can get expensive to run – To self-host, you will not only need the hardware, but you will also need the electricity and consumer grade internet. On top of that, you may need to hire a team of workers to maintain and protect your server depending on your teams existing expertise. Any issues that arise are paid by the company rather than handled by a hosting provider.

Zero support when issues arise – When issues such as hardware failures, data loss, outages, security breaches, and so forth arise, it is your company’s responsibility to identify the problem and fix it. Depending on your expertise and team, this could be incredibly time-consuming and costly.

Time consuming to learn & maintain – Hosting is fairly straightforward start but is a continuous process to maintain. Depending on your current workload, it could be hard to make sure that your server is up to date and running properly. While you can learn the ins and outs of server maintenance and hosting, it may require time that you don’t have.

Security and technical Risks – Lack of proper maintenance can lead to security risks and errors in your hosting server. An insecure store can put you and your customers valuable information at risk, as well as push users away if they don’t feel comfortable. Technical errors could bring your server down, making your online store unavailable to potential customers.

Using a Hosting Provider

Hosting providers will run your website on their servers. A hosting team will take care of your website’s maintenance and changes. Having a company host your online services comes with its own set of benefits and troubles.

Pros of using a hosting provider

Is Reliable and secure – Hosting providers are paid to keep your site up and running. This includes keeping track of updates, saving your data, creating a secure environment, maintaining internet connectivity, and so forth. With a quality hosting provider, downtime should be minimal, and your site should be protected.

Experts handle outages and problems – Hosting providers monitor and respond to errors and outages that impact your website. Experts in their fields, they can more easily identify and fix problems than those with little to no experience. This means quicker return times and less stress on business owners.

Little time investment on your end – For a business owner utilizing a hosting provider, there is little time investment involved. The hosting provider does all the maintenance and major changes to the hosting process, leaving the online business owner more time to work on other important parts of the eCommerce endeavors.

Cons of using a hosting provider

Upgrades & maintenance have to be done by provider – When hosting providers are managing your site, upgrades, maintenance, and changes have to go through them. Depending on the quality of your hosting provider, you may encounter hosting providers that are slow or unreliable.

Resources can be limited and monetized – When shopping for hosting providers, many providers will determine their prices based on the amount of resources you want. Storage, RAM, network traffic, and so forth can be billable items that you need to think about when getting a hosting provider, which requires you to understand your site’s needs.

Industry challenges can impact hosting providers – From mass security events to accessibility, there are industry wide laws and issues that hosting providers need to comply and react to. Finding a hosting provider that you trust in terms of keeping up with the law and potential security risks of the internet can be daunting.

Is there a right option when it comes to self-hosting or using a hosting provider?

When it comes to choosing between self-hosting your online storefront or going to a hosting provider, there is no correct answer. The decision depends on what you can manage as a business. Do you have a team who have the expertise to host a site? Do you have the money to either buy your own server or buy the resources you need from a hosting provider? Do you have the time to maintain a server? Do you have a custom environment that cannot be provided by a hosting provider? These questions and more determine which of the two options best suit your hosting needs.

Need help with your hosting needs?

At BCSE, we not only have hosting services, but we can also help manage existing hosted sites with a select group of providers. If you have questions about finding a host provider or about your current hosting environment, schedule a consultation with us! If you liked this blog and want to see more like it, check out our new eCommerce Made Easy podcast for more eCommerce tips and tricks!

Conversion Rates: What’s a good conversion rate & how do I get there?

When it comes to measuring the success of a website, conversion rates are a great metric to track. Not only do conversion rates give us an idea of how well our site is attracting user interaction, but it also gives us a number to target when it comes to future business goals. However, what is considered a good conversion rate?

What are conversion rates?

Conversions are actions we want users to take. Whether it be buying our products or subscribing to our email lists, conversions can be any user action that we consider valuable to our business. For example, conversions we may want to measure could be:

  • User Sign ups for email, events, text message notifications, etc.
  • Account creation.
  • Social media interactions, such as follows, likes, shares, etc.
  • Downloads of freebies and promotional materials.
  • Product reviews or ratings.
  • Views or clicks on specific pages.
  • Products added to cart or schedule consultations.
  • Purchases of your products and services.

Our conversion rate is the percentage of users who convert over the total number of user interactions. For example, if we were measuring the conversion rate of users subscribing to our email list, the rate would be the number of users who submitted the subscription form over the number of users who clicked on the subscription page.

Why are conversion rates important?

Conversion rates are key to identifying how well your online business is doing. Whether it be purchases, open rates on emails, social media followers, or so forth, knowing how often users end up doing what you want can be used to identify what you need to do in the future. Pages with high views and clicks, for example, can help you understand what your users want to see. The same applies idea applies with low conversion rates. If your email subscription form’s conversion rate is low, it is a sign that it may need re-worked or edited. Overall, by having a metric that reflects the success of your desired business goals, you can approach optimizing your site with data-backed decisions.

What is a good eCommerce conversion rate?

When people talk about conversion rates, they are often talking about eCommerce conversion rates. eCommerce conversion rates are the rate of overall user purchases and orders. In the case of monetary gain, a good eCommerce conversion rate is between 2% – 5%.

How do I increase my conversion rate?

Meet the customer where they are

The first step to increasing your conversion rate is making your customers feel seen and heard. To do this, we need to know our target audience intimately. What are they struggling with? What are their obstacles? What kind of solution are they looking for? Having answers to such questions allows us to create relatable and appealing content by clearly showing them that we understand what they want and need.

Have an enticing offer

Whether it be buying a product or signing up for emails, it is important to tell users what they will gain by doing so. After all, if they don’t know the benefits of converting, it makes converting less enticing. Explain the benefits of converting. If we want them to subscribe for our email list, for example, tell them what kind of information they will gain, what potential special deals they could be sent, and so forth.

Make it easy to convert

Both physically and mentally, converting should be an easy decision to make. Meeting the customer where they are and laying out the benefits clearly already makes converting an easy decision mentally. But we also need to make sure it is easy to physically purchase our products, fill out our email forms, schedule a consultation, and so forth. It should be easy to find the add to cart button, for example. Forms are more likely going to be filled out if they only contain a few fields. Many times, making converting easy involves making the option to convert obvious and making the process short and sweet.

Want to learn more?

To boost conversion rates, we need to optimize our websites to create the best user experience we can. Check out our blog for more tips and tricks to improve your website and optimization process!  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.

Increasing Conversions: Why customers don’t buy

Despite the amount of traffic we may attract to our sites, or even the amount of non-monetary conversations we acquire, we may be left wondering: Why aren’t people buying my products? It’s disheartening to see low sales and site traffic with no obvious reason as to why. In order to identify possible roadblocks for customers on our site, we need to take a step back and explore our website from the perspective of our customers.

It may sound cliché, but putting yourself into the shoes of your potential customers is key to creating a site that converts. From the language you are using to the structure of your site, keeping your target customer in mind aids in making a site that is compelling and easy to use. When concerned about low conversations and sales, take into consideration the following questions:  

Is it easy to find your products & services?

The first step towards conversions is getting users onto your site. If you were to search for terms related to your products and services on Google, what comes up? Making sure that your SEO strategy is successfully bringing users to your site is important to keep track of. Searching for your site on search engines, analyzing traffic data, and focusing on keywords that your customers use to search for the products and services you offer can help bring more traffic to your site.

Beyond users finding your business on Google, you should also consider how easy it is to find your products and services on your site. How intuitive is the structure of your website? Optimizing your navigation bar and call-to-actions for ease of use and understanding is key to successfully guide users to your sales pages. Have a friend explore your site or check out user data concerning the journey users take through your site via the GA4’s Explore options to identify possible missteps in your site’s guidance.

Another potential roadblock to getting users to see what you have to offer is the mechanical performance of your site. How does your site feel? Slow and unresponsive user experiences, page crashes, buggy interfaces, and lack of cross device optimization can make it difficult to traverse your site, pushing potential customers away. Keep a look out for broken pages and links, as well as optimize your site for mobile use and speed.

Is the “why” of your products clear and compelling?

Once a user is on your site, you only have a handful of time to pique their interest, so its important to be straight to the point. Why should they consider your products? Within your landing page, it should be clear what your selling, who your products are for, and why people should by them. Making sure that our above the fold content and sales pitches are compelling and attractive to our target audience is important to getting users to even consider buying from our businesses.

On top of illustrating why users should consider our products, the language we use to describe our offers can impact whether a user wants to become our customer. Beyond just explaining why our products are good and can help potential customers, we must also ask ourselves: Why should they buy your services now? Creating a sense of urgency pushes customers to consider your offerings more seriously. This urgency doesn’t have to aggressive, such as a time limited offer, but instead can be an attractive vision of what buying our services will be like. Through our content and through customer testimonials, we can illustrate just how well our products resolve our customers’ pain points, making our services tangible and their value clear.

Can users trust your products & services?

Even if your site is visually stunning and easy to use, another aspect of turning visitors into customers I gaining their trust. Why should new customers trust your company? For users who are new to your business, hesitancy may stop them from considering buying from you. To avoid losing hesitant customers, it’s important to make sure that your content clearly shows your credentials and success. You can share your company story or statistics that show how good your company is doing. You can also share customer testimonials and ratings so that potential customers can see that real people have found happiness in your services.

Another aspect of trust to consider is clearly sharing the “small text” of buying your products. Are there any hidden fees or policies that customers may not know? Being transparent with your users about taxes, delivery charges, privacy policies, and so forth creates a sense of professionalism and sets expectations ahead of time. Users want to know what buying your products entails ahead of time rather than being blindsided by surprise details during the buying process. Having features such as estimated taxes alongside easy access to your privacy and shipping policies can help users trust your business.

Is it easy to understand what your products & services are?

Whether you sell physical products or intangible services, selling online can make it hard for users to understand what you are offering. Are your product pages painting a complete picture? Taking a look at your individual product descriptions or service tier lists, consider what information may be missing or even confusing to users. Part of building a successful product description is using language that our customers will understand so that we can make the product tangible despite being online. With services, consider how easy it is to understand how your service works. Taking the user step by step through your service, such as through infographics, can help users get a better picture of what they are buying.

Is it easy to buy your products & services?

Once your potential customer has decided to go ahead and buy your products and services, all that’s left is to go through the checkout process. Is your checkout process easy to go through? When it’s time to buy your products, the experience should be easy and intuitive. Complex forms, excessive required information, mandatory account creation, and so forth can cause a potential customer to back out at the last minute. Keep your checkout process short and offer features such as guest check out and auto fill to make the buying process a pleasant, easy experience.

Want to learn more?

Optimizing our sites for conversions is a continuous process. Customer expectations change and technology evolves, making it important to keep tracking our successes and improving our sites. Check out our blog for more advice on making your website better.  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.

How Bots can Impact your Site

When it comes to optimizing our sites, there are many factors we need to monitor and adjust to ensure that our users have the best experience possible. One factor that can heavily impact our sites performance and user experience is bot traffic on our pages.

What are bots?

Bots are programs that are automated to complete specific tasks. A bot could be programmed to crawl a website, make a social media post, block ads, or so forth. Overall, bots are tools that can be used to quickly accomplish repetitive tasks on the internet.  More often than not, these bots interact with everything on the internet, including our sites.

There are good and bad reasons a bot could interact with our site. For example, Google uses bots to crawl and index our sites, ranking our sites and making them visible in Google search queries. Google’s bots are important for getting our site out there for future customers. Beyond searchability, bots can help create better users experiences as well through blocking ads, monitoring your site for analytics and issues, automatically posting content, and many other tasks.

However, there are also negative reasons a bot can visit a site. Stealing content, serving spam, denying service, and other malicious acts have been done through the use of bots.

What are some impacts of Bots?

When it comes to bots, there are multiple ways they can impact our sites, for better or for worse.


Bot traffic can slow down our pages while they interact with our site, negatively impacting other users. Since slow user experience can cause users to leave a site, bots can be programmed to interact with your site for the purpose of denying customers easy access to your site. Even good bots, such as crawler and indexer bots, can cause the performance of our site to decrease.


Depending on what a bot is doing on your site, your site’s reputation can be impacted. Bots that share quality content or answer user questions with ease, such as chatbots, can improve your users experience and thus your reputation. However, on the other hand, bots can be used to spread spam onto your website, such as bad reviews or malicious links. While these bots are fake, they mimic the human language well enough that the content they share can give your site a bad reputation.


While bots are not inherently a threat to security, they can be used to steal user information as well as to attack our sites. Bots can be programmed to collect sensitive user information as a customer fills out a form on your site as well as share phishing links on your site. They can also be programmed to make your site not function properly, attacking your sites ability to serve customers through a denial of service attack.


Since bots can visit your site, the data your analytics software collects can be skewed by bot interaction. Whether it be intentional, such as through a denial of service attack, or accidental as bots crawl your site, your traffic data may have weird anomalies. These anomalies can make it hard to how well your site is really doing.

How do I protect my site from bots?

Since there are both good and bad bots, we need to be able to let the good bots in while keeping the bad bots out. There are a few steps we can use to identify bad bots and limit the negative impacts good bots can have.

To start, we should watch our site data carefully. If you are using Google Analytics, for example, watch for anomalies in your traffic. Is there a sudden spike in traffic for no apparent reason? Is there a page on your site that has an unusual number of visitors, but not real user interactions? Is there an increase in failed logins? Anomalies like these can be a sign that a bot is negatively impact your site, and possibly for malicious reason.  

Following anomalies in our analytics, we should block any identified bad bots from our site. We can do this through blocking its IP address. Since bots are visiting our sites through the internet, they must have an IP address to even start. Since blocking bots essentially by hand can be inefficient and at times impossible, we can also use an IP blocklist to preemptively block addresses that we consider suspicious or dangerous.

Since even good bots can impact our site by putting a strain on our pages, it’s important to make sure that we optimize our robot.txt files. Robot.txt files are a way we can communicate and direct crawler bots, such as Googles indexing bots, on how they should traverse our website. Here we can establish rules on where these bots can go, what they can click, and so forth. By having an optimized robot.txt file, we can limit the performance impact these bots can have on our site.

Want to Learn More?

Bot traffic is just one of many factors we need to consider when optimizing our site. Check out our blog for more tips and guides on how we can make our sites better! 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.

Updating & Removing Outdated Content: Impacts to SEO Retention

As we optimize our sites for better user experience and higher search result queries, we may consider doing some spring cleaning to our site’s content. This includes looking through pages on our site that are not doing so well. Little traffic, out-of-date information, questionable relevancy: letting older pages linger can impact the quality of our site. However, how do we deal with older pages without negatively impacting our SEO scores?

Updating & Removing Outdated Content: Impacts to SEO Retention

What is outdated content?

When cleaning up our sites, we may run into outdated content. Outdated content is pages that are no longer relevant or helpful to your customers and company goals. This includes:

  • Pages with incorrect or old information.
  • Pages for discontinued products or services.
  • Pages that are no longer relevant to your business or customers.
  • Pages that are broken.

Why should I clean up outdated content?

In order to make sure that our site properly represents our business, we need to make sure all our pages are up-to-date and contain quality information. Outdated pages bring down the quality of our site through being unusual, misleading, and minimal traffic. Worse, these pages can result in more “bounce” traffic where customers leave our site after arriving on outdated content. Cleaning up these old pages, such as deleting them, can help us avoid customers leaving our sites while increasing out SEO rank by having more quality content as a whole.

What are the risks of cleaning up outdated content?

One risk to consider when cleaning up outdated content is whether or not the content has value to users or your SEO score as a whole. Is the information on that page important? If so, deleting important page can cause issues for your customers down the line. Another aspect to consider is the link equity of your pages. If your old page is linked to many other pages, it may be valuable in terms of the level if authority it has in the eyes of search engines. Deleting such page could negatively affect your SEO score.

What are my options for dealing with outdated content?

Since outdated content can affect our websites in varying ways, there are multiple options to handle these pages. In terms of the most common actions we can take, we can update the content, redirect it to relevant content, or delete the page entirely.

Update the Page

If the outdated page contains important information and still gets traffic, you may consider updating the content. Afterall, customers are still visiting the page. Whether that be due to the page having link value through its linkage to other pages or due to the value of the information it contains, if a page has potential, it should be updated rather than discarded. Another aspect to consider for pages that still have incoming traffic is if there is another existing page that fulfills the same role. If there isn’t, it becomes more important to update the page so that users are getting accurate information.

Redirect the Page

If the outdated page contains information that exists on another, up-to-date page, you may consider redirecting the outdated page to the new page. You can redirect a page via a 301 redirect or a 302 redirect status code. A 301 redirect tells Google that this redirect is permanent while a 302 redirect is a temporary measure. Keep in mind that while redirects are useful, having too many redirects can slow down your site and impact your SEO rank, so use them sparingly.

Delete the Page

When you have a page that is completely obsolete, that provides no value in terms of traffic, authority, and relevancy, you may consider deleting the page all together. You can delete a page via a 404 status code or a 410 status code. More commonly used, a 404 status code deletes the page, but doesn’t necessarily remove it from Google indexing. A 410 status code tells Google the page is gone forever. While it may sound strange that 404 codes are more popular, they are easier to implement and also allow us an opportunity to connect with customers who are still looking for that page by making our 404 page valuable.

Note: Make Use of your 404 Pages

One way we can use our 404 status pages are to make them valuable. We can edit our 404 page to not only be branded, but also contain easy access to our home page, related links, our search bars, and so forth. By making use of our 404 status pages, we can encourage customers to explore our site despite the page they visited being gone. Having a personalized 404 page can help keep customer bounce rate down, keeping customers on your site longer.

Want to Learn More?

There are many aspects we need to consider when improving our user experience and optimizing our SEO ranks. Explore our SEO blogs to learn more tips and tricks to improve your visibility! 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.