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How Nonprofits & Online Businesses Can Grow on Giving Tuesday

Giving Tuesday began in 2012 as a fundraising opportunity for nonprofits in response to the consumerism of the holiday season. 

In 2019, people contributed $511 million online on that single day, compared to $400 million the year before. As the graph on this page shows, donations have gone up every year and have shown no signs of slowing down.

So if you’re a nonprofit organization and haven’t yet run a Giving Tuesday campaign, now is a good time to start. Yes, even during COVID-19. 

What is Giving Tuesday? 

Instead of spending all your money buying things, the idea is that you take a portion of what you would have spent anyway and donate it to a charity. So, you spend a little less and give a little more to make the world a better place.

Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, is a U.S. holiday on which shoppers are presented with sales and deals. As eCommerce businesses changed buying habits, Cyber Monday was launched. It was the industry’s response to Black Friday (and lands the following Monday) — an opportunity to get buyers excited with exceptional discounts and drive more traffic to the rest of their online store. And now, we also have Small Business Saturday (the Saturday after Thanksgiving), which gives small businesses a way to promote themselves against their larger competitors. 

All this commerce is great. But we were losing a focus on serving others and spreading warmth during the holiday season. Giving Tuesday is a way to help restore that.

Five Giving Tuesday tips for nonprofits

1. Build your campaign around a specific need

Find a specific need to emphasize, and build your campaign around that. Contribute to making meaningful change in your community. 

Restock the food pantry with a month of supplies. Restore lost grant funding from disease research. Help fix problems caused by COVID lockdowns, like helping people get jobs or escape debt or negotiate with landlords. The needs are clear, relatable, and most importantly — solvable.

Find a specific need, a specific problem that donors can solve, and help them solve it.

2. Set a goal

Once you know the need your donors can meet, set a contribution goal.

You could make this goal a dollar amount. A good strategy is to find a non-simple number. For example, instead of setting a goal for $20,000, set a goal for $19,354. Show your donors exactly how you arrived at that figure.  

For example, if it costs $43.37 to provide free tutoring to one student per month, then you can raise $21,685 to provide free tutoring to 500 kids. A non-simple number demonstrates that you’ve worked out the exact amount needed. It has higher credibility.

elementary student working on homework

Your goal can also be about buying a certain number of items. Using the same example above, the goal is tutoring for 500 kids. Or it could be to buy 500 laptops. Focus on that instead of the dollar amount.

You can also center your goal on getting more monthly donors. Create a Giving Tuesday campaign to find 100 new monthly donors, for example. But remember to clearly show what those 100 donors will make possible. Again, if a donor contributes $43.37 each month, they’re providing free tutoring for a student. 100 new donors means that 100 new students receive help.

3. Create your communication plan

Primarily focus on email and social media. A good plan is to start promoting your Giving Tuesday campaign two or three weeks ahead of the day. 

Write your emails and social media posts in advance. Coordinate them, so they go out at different times. If you want to run paid ads, or if you have Google Ad Grants, focus those ads in the final week and on Giving Tuesday.

Because of COVID-19, you may be nervous about creating a Giving Tuesday campaign. Don’t be. People still want to help. Let them. 

4. Create a separate donation page for Giving Tuesday

Create a new donation page, with messaging that’s specific to the goal and the need your campaign is built around. This will encourage people to give.

Simplify your giving form. Make it as easy as possible for people to give by limiting the number of choices and frequency options — focus on the specific need that campaign is meeting.

5. Follow up with new donors afterward

Track any donations from new donors, and put them in their own email segment. Then, follow up with a few targeted emails over the next couple of months. Don’t just ask for more money at first — offer them engaging posts, videos, stories, and other things to help them connect with your nonprofit.

Three Giving Tuesday marketing tips for online businesses

Giving Tuesday is also a great opportunity for businesses to give back to causes they believe in and are passionate about. If you run a solar power company, you might plant trees or build solar water wells in needy communities. If you sell pet supplies, you might donate a percentage of sales to a local animal shelter. 

Here’s a great plan to help your customers connect with the causes you care about:

1. Choose a nonprofit that aligns with you

Find a nonprofit whose mission aligns with your business values, and identify something about that nonprofit that you can express quickly and easily. 

You want to be able to say things like “help kids,” “fight cancer,” “beat hunger,” and things like this — quick phrases that your customers will understand immediately. They’ll know their purchases are supporting this cause.

2. Assign a portion of your sales as donations

The most common approach is to set a fixed percentage. For example, say that 5% of your purchase price will go toward this cause. Another approach is to use a fixed dollar amount for certain items, like saying that $1 from every box of Christmas cookies sold will go to support this nonprofit.

box of iced Christmas cookies

You can also limit the total given, saying that your goal is to raise $5,000, or some other amount, for this charity by Giving Tuesday. 

3. Feature the nonprofit and Giving Tuesday in your marketing

Do more than just splash up a graphic on your website. Communicate your goal and encourage people to contribute via email and social media for weeks ahead of time. Put it on every key page of your site, especially if your donations are tied to the sale of specific products or services. 

A few marketing and communication tips:

  • Emphasize the deadline. This is a Giving Tuesday marketing plan. So if customers want part of their purchase price to be donated, they must buy from you before Giving Tuesday.
  • Give the motivation. Make sure to say why your business is supporting this particular nonprofit. Send this out in an email. Add it as a clickable popup or a separate page on your website, or both. Get people excited about this.
  • State the impact. Tell what the donation will accomplish. If they’re trying to buy laptops for 10,000 students, then you can simply say that part of your purchase price will go to help buy laptops for students. Simple and done.

For nonprofits and businesses, Giving Tuesday is a wonderful concept and a great way to make the world a better place. And by getting others involved, you can multiply your efforts. 

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Four Cyber Week & Black Friday Marketing Strategies for eCommerce

Black Friday and Cyber Week in 2020 are shaping up to be unlike any other in history. The biggest shopping days of the year will take place in the middle of ongoing COVID-19 challenges. And as such, it’s imperative for eCommerce businesses to focus on attracting customers and helping them make purchases during these unprecedented times. This is the perfect opportunity to implement high-impact, proven marketing strategies on Black Friday and beyond.

If you need a refresher, Black Friday is the day after U.S. Thanksgiving, which falls on November 26 this year. Small Business Saturday typically happens the next day — this year, it’s November 28. And the following week is Cyber Week, which used to be Cyber Monday. This is the time of the year when customers are most open to shopping at new stores and are actively looking for gifts for friends and loved ones. And this is a great opportunity for eCommerce stores to run new promotions and multiply their customer acquisition efforts. 

Here are four of the best marketing strategies your eCommerce business can start working on now, in preparation for this critical time of year.

Strategy one: Start your promotions now

Marketing on the fly causes sales to die. Usually.

Start by setting your goals for the holiday season. Do you want to boost traffic and views on your product pages? Do you want more individual transactions? Do you want to increase revenue from existing customers or get a rush of new first-time customers? 

Identify your specific sales goals and plan promotions around them. 

Then, look at what has already worked for your business. Look at this year – especially since COVID-19 has changed so many things. But also, look at last year’s holiday season. What did you do then? What worked well and what flopped? 

Cyber Week and Black Friday promotions usually involve discounts, but the types of discounts you offer depend on your goals. 

For example, if you want to clear as much inventory as possible, then a buy one, get one type of sale makes sense. Or, look for ways to increase transaction sizes. Add free gifts when customers spend a certain amount. Give “money back” discounts when you buy two or more of an item. Cut shipping charges at certain thresholds. 

Once you’ve settled on your promotions, plan your marketing campaigns. Send emails to current and past customers. Use social media posts to drive awareness of your hottest deals. Set up remarketing ads to reach people who visited your site but didn’t purchase. Create customized landing pages around your promotions, even before the offer is available, to drum up interest.

Keep doing this until the sale dates arrive. 

Strategy two: Organize your systems to capture new customer information

If you sync your WooCommerce store with Mailchimp using the free WooCommerce for Mailchimp extension, you can segment your audience and send more personalized marketing emails based on your customers’ prior behaviors. 

creating a segment in Mailchimp

To get more new customers, one of the most powerful tools you can use is a “lookalike audience.” 

A lookalike audience is a new set of customers who have never heard of your business, but who resemble a group of existing customers. This is why traffic to your site and your Facebook page can be valuable. With enough traffic, Google and Facebook can develop a profile of likely customers. Then, you can create ads and market to a new group of people who resemble current customers.

Once customers visit your site, you don’t want them to come once, then just disappear. To increase the number of returning visitors, use a tracking code like the Facebook pixel or the Google Ads tag, especially if you plan to spend any advertising money on either of those platforms.

Have you ever visited a website and, after you left, noticed ads for that site throughout the rest of your week? That site is using a tracking code.

And you can do the same thing for anyone who visits your store. 

WooCommerce offers free extensions for both platforms, Facebook for WooCommerce and Google Ads & Marketing, which you can use to reach back out to previous visitors and identify lookalike audiences. 

illustration of a mobile-friendly email signup form

But not every site visitor will be ready to buy, even with remarketing. This is why you want to add a mobile-friendly signup form. If you can get someone to join your email list, you can help them get to know you better.

As an incentive for someone that signs up for your email list, you can promise to notify them when your Black Friday deals go live.

Strategy three: Audit your website to convert more customers

Let’s say you have a bunch of new first-time visitors on your site. Great! But you don’t want them to leave before even viewing a single product. This can happen if your site takes too long to load.

Load time, or page speed, is an important part of SEO, in part because visitors don’t like to wait for websites to load. Here’s a quick checklist you can run through for how to speed up your site.

Focus on your most important pages first — typically your home page and products — and make sure your website looks great on mobile devices.

Then, set up automations so you can acquire more customers without doing more work. Some ways to do this include:

  • Add discount codes to your emails with a promo code content block in Mailchimp.
  • Create autoresponder emails for everyone who joins your list.
  • Use abandoned cart emails to follow up with people who don’t complete their purchase.

Mailchimp reports that when their customers use abandoned cart emails, they get an average of 26 times more orders than before they started using them. 

Strategy four: Track your marketing performance

Set up systems to monitor how well your sales goals are being met from November through December.

How many coupon codes are customers redeeming? Are people taking advantage of your free shipping offer? Which items are they buying after reading your emails?

If you need to pivot from your plan in the middle of Cyber Week, do it! But you won’t know if you should pivot if you aren’t paying attention to your marketing performance data. 

campaign benchmarks from eCommerce

Mailchimp includes reports for revenue, engagement, and growth for every campaign you create. Google Analytics will show you if any pages have high bounce rates — people left without exploring any additional pages because the content wasn’t engaging enough. Catch the problem early, and you might just save your Cyber Week and Black Friday marketing campaign.

Start Black Friday marketing now

2020’s holiday season is a big opportunity for eCommerce stores. Your shop can meet new people that won’t just shop once, but will become customers for a lifetime. Start planning early, get organized, monitor your results, and make changes in real-time to make the most of your marketing.

Check out the full list of WooCommerce marketing extensions and find out how Mailchimp can help you engage visitors and automate processes.  

Automatically sync your customers and their purchase data, and set up marketing automations with Mailchimp for WooCommerce

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Increase Online Sales with Creative Mail

eCommerce is on the rise. Some major retailers saw eCommerce sales nearly double during the pandemic while the industry as a whole is expected to grow by 20% in a single year. And if you own a WooCommerce store, you’ve already built a great foundation to make the most of this recent growth.

But you’ll need more than an online store to find success.

Shopper communication is a critical piece of generating sales, fulfilling orders, and creating loyal customers. And for busy store owners, automation is key to engaging buyers, updating them on order statuses, and following up after a sale is made.

Creative Mail is an excellent way to automate WooCommerce emails, providing everything you need for branding, marketing, subscriptions, and more. Let’s take a look at how they can help you capitalize on 2020 growth.

Seamless WooCommerce integration

Creative Mail provides deep integration with WooCommerce and WordPress. Automatically add contacts from orders and forms, easily feature your products in emails, and re-engage previous shoppers who haven’t made a purchase in a while. 

There’s no need to import CSV files or manually add products — it’s all taken care of for you.

GIF showing how to create an email

Custom transactional emails

Transactional emails are related to a customer’s purchase or account — order confirmations, shipping updates, etc. — and have eight times the open rate of traditional marketing emails. 

You’re able to get in front of a lot more people with transactional emails. Make the most of them! With Creative Mail, you can design beautiful, branded emails that automatically pull in order and customer information from your WooCommerce store.

Automated workflows

Create a “welcome” email series that will engage customers based on actions they take on your site. Walk your shoppers through a multi-step journey that will help them find success with your products, leave a positive review, or make additional purchases down the road.

This is a very personal way to connect with customers and keep them from falling off your grid. And the best part? With Creative Mail, you can set it and forget it! There’s no ongoing maintenance required.

email options in Creative Mail

Excellent deliverability

Your emails can’t be successful if they never end up in your customers’ inboxes. Because many email marketing tools require complicated SMTP solutions or external gateways, they use less-than-stellar IPs that can cause your emails to bounce.

But since Creative Mail uses Constant Contact’s rock-solid infrastructure, you benefit from superior deliverability — an industry-leading 97% deliverability rate.

Management from the WordPress dashboard

After installing the Creative Mail extension, you can manage everything directly from the WordPress dashboard. There’s no need to log into multiple accounts or switch between windows. You also don’t need to worry about API keys or an SMTP server — it just works seamlessly with your WooCommerce store.

Get started with Creative Mail

During the busy holiday season, make the most of email marketing and transactional emails with the Creative Mail extension. Keep customers engaged before and after their purchase, drive more sales, save time with easy automation, and do it all from the dashboard you’re already familiar with.

Get started with Creative Mail.

Customize your store with official extensions for WooCommerce in our marketplace

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How to Increase Average Order Size During the Holidays

This year, online holiday shopping is going to be bigger than ever. Customers are looking to stay safe and support small businesses by doing their gift shopping virtually.

That means you’re likely to have a lot of shoppers visiting your store for the first time. Help them take full advantage of your offerings by showing them targeted products and suggesting valuable add-ons. The result will be more sales and happy customers — a win-win!

Offer upsells and cross-sells

Upsells are higher-priced products you offer in place of an item a customer is considering. Usually the upsell offers you a greater profit margin while giving your customer a higher-quality product or one with better features than the basic model. For example, a customer might be viewing a tree ornament, and your upsell could be a whole set of ornaments on the same theme or a larger version of the same type of decoration.

Cross-sells are products that complement something the customer is already buying. For example, you could recommend a matching hat and pair of gloves to someone purchasing a scarf.

Using these kinds of automated recommendations is like offering personalized service in your shop. You know your product line better than anyone — rather than making customers dig through your entire catalog for what they want, use upsells and cross-sells to direct them toward items they will appreciate based on their interests and purchases.

Learn how to create upsells and cross-sells in WooCommerce.

Assemble gift sets

Everyone wants gift-giving to be easy and fun, and you can help make that possible by grouping your products together into themed sets.

beauty bars in a nice holiday gift box

The Product Bundles extension offers several options. You can:

  • Create your own curated gift sets and set a discounted price for the bundle.
  • Allow users to build customized gift sets by choosing items from a list.
  • Let users modify a gift set by adding extras of any particular item in the set, for an additional fee.

With this extension, you can assemble gift sets in only a few minutes. They’re the perfect items to showcase on your storefront and social media for holiday promotions.

Add bonuses for larger cart sizes

It’s always a good idea to reward customers who support your business and nudge them to add just a few more things to their cart. You can do both by offering bonuses.

The holidays are a great time to add limited-time, cart-boosting offers such as:

  • Free shipping: Core WooCommerce functionality can be used to set up free shipping that kicks in at a minimum cart size. For more complicated combinations — for instance, free shipping with the purchase of a minimum number of products — consider installing the WooCommerce Table Rate Shipping extension.
  • Coupons and discounts: With WooCommerce coupon functionality, you can create coupons that can be applied to a minimum cart balance, carts that contain specific items, or both. Consider adding a coupon code banner to your online storefront letting people know that if they can reach the magic cart value, a discount code is waiting for them. Or send your holiday coupon codes out to your loyal newsletter followers, inviting them back to buy more items.
  • Free gifts: Who doesn’t want a little treat for themselves for the holidays? Give your best customers something extra by offering a free gift at a certain cart size or when someone purchases specific promotional products. This is super easy to do with the Free Gifts for WooCommerce extension. 

Offer seasonal add-ons

You can get holiday shoppers to spend more at your store if you give them extras that make it easy for them to check everything off their gift-giving lists. 

stack of gift wrapped packages

Encourage customers to choose your shop for their holiday needs by offering:

  • Gift wrapping and personalized notes: Who doesn’t want to leave a shop with a gift that is literally ready for giving? The WooCommerce Gift Wrapper extension lets you offer gift wrapping for free or for a small fee. Users can choose which type of wrapping they want, while you control which items can and can’t be wrapped. As a bonus, shoppers can request a personalized note to be added to a box containing a gift, so it’s ready to be shipped directly to the recipient.
  • Product personalization: Consider making gifts extra special this year by allowing your customers to add engravings, names, or custom accessories to your products. The WooCommerce Product Add-Ons extension allows customers to request changes to products and make them perfect for loved ones.
  • Rush shipping: Use WooCommerce core functionality to add a bonus level of shipping for worried customers. Choose a shipping level with your provider that will include extra insurance and a faster delivery time, giving buyers peace of mind for an increased fee.

Suggest gift cards

There are always last-minute shoppers who don’t have time to peruse your whole shop. Come to their rescue by offering digital gift cards, which are instant, easy, and always the right size. Gift cards are also great solutions for long-distance shoppers, providing a gift that they can be assured will arrive in time for the holidays.

You can offer gift cards for various amounts using the WooCommerce Gift Cards extension. Recipients can track their gift card balance and apply it instantly to anything in their cart. 

Create a loyalty program

Who hasn’t realized that they need a few extra things for the holidays with only days or hours to spare? Keep shoppers coming back for more by creating a loyalty or points program. It’s a two-way investment: You’re showing your customers that they’re valued, and they’re encouraged to buy from you every time they need a gift.

Keep things simple with the WooCommerce Points and Rewards extension. It allows you to specify how many points a purchase or a review can earn, track point levels for each customer, and set rules for when and how points can be redeemed. 

Easy for you and easy for your customers — that’s the goal when it comes to holiday shopping. Help your clients check off their shopping lists with personalized recommendations, bonuses, and rewards. These are great ways to build your business while bringing a little extra sparkle to everyone’s holiday season.

WooBookings Bundle

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News – WordPress 5.6 Release Candidate – WordPress.org

The first release candidate for WordPress 5.6 is now available!

This is an important milestone in the community’s progress toward the final release of WordPress 5.6.

“Release Candidate” means that the new version is ready for release, but with millions of users and thousands of plugins and themes, it’s possible something was missed. WordPress 5.6 is slated for release on December 8, 2020, but we need your help to get there—if you haven’t tried 5.6 yet, now is the time!

You can test the WordPress 5.6 release candidate in two ways:

Thank you to all of the contributors who tested the Beta releases and gave feedback. Testing for bugs is a critical part of polishing every release and a great way to contribute to WordPress.

What’s in WordPress 5.6?

The final release of 2020 continues the annual tradition of a new default theme that is custom built to showcase the new features and functionality of the software. Continued progress on the block editor is especially clear in this release, which brings more blocks to more places, and fewer clicks to implement your layouts.

WordPress 5.6 also has lots of refinements to polish the developer experience. To learn more, subscribe to the Make WordPress Core blog and pay special attention to the developer notes tag for updates on those and other changes that could affect your products.

Plugin and Theme Developers

Please test your plugins and themes against WordPress 5.6 and update the Tested up to version in the readme file to 5.6. If you find compatibility problems, please be sure to post to the support forums, so those can be figured out before the final release.

The WordPress 5.6 Field Guide, due very shortly, will give you a more detailed dive into the major changes.

How to Help

Do you speak a language other than English? Help us translate WordPress into more than 100 languages! This release also marks the hard string freeze point of the 5.6 release schedule.

If you think you’ve found a bug, you can post to the Alpha/Beta area in the support forums. We’d love to hear from you! If you’re comfortable writing a reproducible bug report, file one on WordPress Trac, where you can also find a list of known bugs.

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How to Show Customers You Care During the Holidays

In 2020, many of the customer appreciation methods we’ve become familiar with — like inviting shoppers to your physical location for a holiday “thank you” party or hosting a public event — are no longer viable options. COVID-19 has simply made it too difficult to do these kinds of in-person events while keeping everyone safe. 

But it’s still vital, especially during the holidays, to retain loyal customers and attract new ones by showing them how important they are to you. Everybody likes to feel appreciated, and this year, providing those warm feelings may be more important than ever.

So, how can you show your loyal clientele a bit of appreciation during the holiday season, while still keeping them (and your staff) safe and healthy?

1. Include thank you notes with purchases

This is probably the simplest and least expensive option — one that any business can easily incorporate into their sales process. Whether it’s a pre-printed “thank you” card slipped into the bag or a quick, personalized note penned at the bottom of a receipt (Thank you so much for shopping with us, we hope you love the sweater!) saying thank you is a key step in building a relationship with customers. 

thank you note in package from l'affinage
Image © laffinage.co.uk

And don’t just rely on a “thanks for your order” email, either. It’s a fine thing to do, but it can be difficult to convey personal feelings through email alone.

Putting a personal touch on your communications will be noticed by customers. Saying thanks isn’t hard to do, and it returns so much. 

2. Offer free gift wrapping

What would the holidays be without all of those beautifully gift-wrapped and bow- bestowed packages?

If you already ship products yourself, adding a gift-wrapping station is pretty simple. Customers are delighted when you save them a little time and effort during the mad dash of the season.

And if you also have a brick and mortar store, a few festive boxes poking out of the top of your branded shopping bag is free advertising. This tells everyone that your business goes the extra mile for your customers.

Gift wrapping isn’t just for mall shops or department stores either. More and more stores of all kinds are offering the service. And some even charge a minimal fee.  

While, at first glance, it may seem like a small thing, gift wrapping can have a measurable impact on customer loyalty and brand perception. And that means more sales for you!

 3. Offer discounts to repeat customers or for purchases over a certain amount 

Offering tier-based discounts is, of course, an ideal way to attract holiday customers. Everyone loves a great deal, right?

Studies have shown that using a coupon or receiving a discount can positively impact brand loyalty. It makes customers happier with their purchase (and your store) and creates a calmer, more pleasant shopping experience. Plus, the same study found that 80% of shoppers said that they feel more confident in making a first-time purchase with a brand or store if they’ve received a special offer. 

Make sure you understand the principles of running a discount promotion before you start slashing prices. Cutting your bottom line too deeply isn’t worth a few additional sales.

Have a firm goal in mind and a solid plan to achieve that goal before you launch a holiday discount campaign. These might include:

  • Attracting new customers
  • Encouraging repeat customers
  • Promoting a specific brand
  • Moving old inventory
  • Building an email list, newsletter, or blog.

Intimidated at the prospect of starting a discount campaign, especially during the busy holiday season?

The Smart Coupons extension is an extremely flexible, yet intuitive, online tool that can help. Store owners, administrators, and staff can easily create and run discount promotions, all without needing developer assistance.

The extension is packed with proven methods to run fully-automated discounts and promotions that can lead to increased sales, repeat buyers, and sky-rocketing customer loyalty.

4. Include small gifts in your packaging

Packaging inserts

Packaging inserts are pleasant little surprises that can help cement your brand’s relationship with customers.

These “freebies,” often branded, are dropped in with the order and typically add value to the item purchased.

scented candle next to a decorative matchbox

A BBQ store might add a pair of tongs or a grill brush, while a candle shop may add a small box of wooden matches.

These little items not only make your customer feel appreciated but remind them of that feeling every time they use them.

Discount offers

Discounts and coupons are a universally popular and effective means of showing customer appreciation. Slipping in a coupon for 20% off their next purchase can go a long way towards guaranteeing a repeat, or even lifelong, customer.   

Again, a physical card or coupon is a tangible reminder that feels like a gift.  

Product samples

Samples are a great value-add to bags and packages because:

  1. Depending on the products you offer, vendors may offer free samples that you can pass on to your customers. A win-win for everyone!
  2. Free samples are great for cross-selling and introducing customers to related products they may be curious about trying.

Combine a product sample with a coupon and you have a nearly irresistible offer!

5. Host a giveaway on social media

Social media is full of contests, sweepstakes, and giveaways offering every type of product and service imaginable. Why? Because they work!

Whether you’re looking to increase sales, boost online engagement, or simply add to your contact list, offering people a chance to win something of value is an enticement that most folks can’t pass up.

Global productivity leader Toggl states that “three out of four people are more likely to recommend a brand who hosts contests and giveaways” even after the giveaway has ended.”

For online retailers, a well-designed social media promotion can be one of the best possible methods of growing and creating a buzz around your brand. Consider partnering with related brands to offer an even bigger prize and grow your social media reach. For example, if you sell beauty products, you might host a giveaway with a clothing store and jewelry shop and put together a basket of goodies.

Regardless of your size or budget, targeted online giveaways are a powerful and effective method that gets you noticed.

6. Share customer stories on social media 

Sharing positive feedback or reviews is a great way to encourage loyalty. It demonstrates that lots of people are happy with your brand!

It also puts a peer-to-peer voice on your offerings, which increases trust from potential new customers. In our current “social distancing” reality, this virtual word-of-mouth is more important than ever.

Unfortunately, we live in a busy, distracting world, and it’s easy to forget things — even a great shopping experience. Don’t be afraid to reach out to your most loyal customers and ask for a brief endorsement or online review.

People like to know that their thoughts and opinions have been heard. By using customer stories as part of your appreciation plan during the holidays, you show them that you’re listening. By publicly thanking them for their business and insights, you show them that you value them.  

That’s how brand advocates are created.

7. Give loyal customers early access to holiday deals

One popular way to show appreciation to your customers actually begins before the holidays.

Consider creating exclusive “for-members-only” pre-sale offers on new and popular items in your holiday inventory.

These exclusive deals make your most loyal customers feel like they’re being recognized and rewarded for their special status. 

In addition to increasing satisfaction, this can also be the perfect means of making some early sales and getting positive feedback that you can use during your other holiday promotions.

8. Create a loyalty program

Customer loyalty programs have become very common in today’s shopping experience.

They’re an excellent means of solidifying customer retention by helping shoppers feel like they’re part of your business. These kinds of programs also reduce the risk of discount campaigns by targeting offers to your most reliable clientele. 

WooCommerce Points and Rewards is a great extension to create your new program without hours of work. Use it to reward customers for purchases and other actions with points that can be redeemed for discounts.

points and rewards customer dashboard

You can easily set how many points shoppers earn for each dollar spent and how many can be redeemed for a specific discount amount. As a customer’s points increase, so do the discounts, incentivizing return business.

Show your appreciation

Long after buyers receive their orders, share their gifts with friends and family, and clean up the last of the wrapping paper, what they’ll remember about you and your business is how you made them feel. And that’s what they’ll share with others. 

Appreciate your customers, and let them know it.

WooCommerce Smart Coupons

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News – WordPress 5.6 Beta 4 – WordPress.org

WordPress 5.6 Beta 4 is now available for testing!

This software is still in development, so we recommend that you run this version on a test site.

You can test the WordPress 5.6 beta in two ways:

The current target for the final release is December 8, 2020. This is just over three weeks away, so your help is needed to ensure this release is tested properly.

Thank you to all of the contributors that tested the beta 3 development release and provided feedback. Testing for bugs is an important part of polishing each release and a great way to contribute to WordPress.

Some Highlights

Since beta 3, 42 bugs have been fixed. Here is a summary of a few changes included in beta 4:

To see all of the features for each Gutenberg release in detail, check out the release posts:, and 9.3.

Developer notes

WordPress 5.6 has lots of refinements to the developer experience. To keep up, subscribe to the Make WordPress Core blog and pay special attention to the developers’ notes for updates on those and other changes that could affect your products.

How to Help

If you think you’ve found a bug, you can post to the Alpha/Beta area in the support forums. We’d love to hear from you!

If you’re comfortable writing a reproducible bug report, file one on WordPress Trac, where you can also find a list of known bugs.

Props to @tonyamork, @audrasjb for technical notes and @angelasjin, @yvettesonneveld@cguntur, @cbringmann for final review.

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How to Prepare Your Store

Black Friday and Cyber Monday are two of the biggest shopping days of the year and, though  that’s not expected to change in 2020, there are a lot of things that will look very different. 

According to Google, more than a third of U.S. customers who normally shop in stores for Black Friday say they won’t this year. But retailers are expecting a lot from online shopping — a third think that web sales this holiday season will increase as much as 24%, while another third predict gains of 25% or more. 

So how do you make the most of this opportunity and adjust your marketing and processes?

Start ads and promotions early

As you may have seen, many retailers are starting their Black Friday sale long before November 27th. Following this trend will give you a longer timeframe to reach existing and potential customers with Black Friday deals. 

Start by determining the structure of your promotions. Will you offer 15% off? Buy one, get one free? Flash sales on specific items? Think about what’s going to be the most attractive to your customers. What will get them excited?

Black Friday sales header on Hydratem8.com
Photo © https://hydratem8.com/

If you decide to discount specific products, look at your recent popular items and, remember, these might be different than in past years. Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, items like board games, puzzles, bakeware, loungewear, and work-from-home essentials have increased in popularity significantly. Which products have your customers purchased more frequently over the last few months? You may want to focus your promotions on those.

Then, reach out to your audience and let them know about your sales. Send an email to your list, share a post on social media, and consider running digital ads with your top deals. You may even want to run promotions targeted at new customers — they may be more likely to make a first-time purchase when it comes with the promise of a discount.

Now is also the time to set up tracking codes on your site, which allow you to better monitor advertising efforts, see what actions customers take on your site, and attribute revenue earned to specific promotions. The Facebook for WooCommerce extension makes it easy to add Facebook tracking codes and the Google Ads and Marketing extension does the same for Google.

Be sensitive to customer needs

For most people, life looks very different than it did a year ago and it’s important that you adjust your store processes and offerings in light of that. But how?

  • Make shopping super easy. There are more first-time online shoppers now than ever before; make it quick and easy for them to purchase your products. Improve your navigation and search functionality, include clear product details, and simplify your checkout page
  • Expand payment options. One in four U.S. credit cardholders had their cards closed or credit limits reduced in April, so you may want to provide additional ways for customers to pay. Consider offering “buy now, pay later” options, or letting shoppers pay for their purchases over time with subscriptions.
  • Offer multiple shipping choices. Since more people are shopping online instead of in-store, you might want to provide overnight or two-day delivery so they can still get their items quickly. Free or low-cost shipping that takes a bit longer will help those with budgetary concerns.
  • Consider curbside pickups. Curbside pickup at retail stores has surged by 208% during the COVID-19 pandemic. This helps local customers who want to avoid shipping costs but are concerned about shopping in a physical location. 
  • Donate to your favorite charity. Consider donating a percentage of your Cyber Monday sales to a local charity. This is a great way to support your community and makes your customers feel good about shopping at your store.

What additional ways can you meet shoppers where they are? You may want to reach out to loyal customers via email or social media to find out what their biggest pain points are. What solutions can you offer?

Communicate with your customers

Communication is more important than ever. It increases trust in your business and reduces the likelihood of returns and refunds. 

size chart for clothing products on Bam Bamboo Clothing
Photo © https://bambooclothing.co.uk/

Start by including plenty of product details — size charts, materials, measurements — and accurate, to-scale photos of your items from every angle. 

Be realistic about delivery dates, accounting for potential shipping delays and manufacturing setbacks. You may want to include a notice at the top of your site letting customers know that it might take a few extra days to get their items. And if your products arrive early, great! That’ll be a pleasant surprise for your buyers and is much better than the alternative.

Finally, let site visitors know about the precautions you’re taking during this time. What cleaning steps are you taking? How are you protecting your employees? What are you doing to keep customers safe? This will go a long way in reassuring shoppers.

Get a jump on inventory

Ensure that you have enough inventory in stock to accommodate Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales. More importantly, make sure that inventory is set up properly on your site. Check your inventory levels — are they all accurate? The last thing you want is to sell a product you don’t have in stock.

Also, ensure that inventory is synced across all of the platforms you use to sell. If someone purchases something on Amazon, your inventory numbers should also decrease on your WooCommerce store. The following extensions help you connect to:

  • Amazon and eBay. Sync inventory, products, pricing, and orders between your online store, Amazon, and eBay.
  • Square. Connect your Square card reader to sync items you sell in person with those on your WooCommerce site.
  • Etsy. Sync inventory and orders between Etsy and WooCommerce and manage everything from the WordPress dashboard.
  • Your warehouse. Use the Scanventory app to scan products and manage stock from your phone or tablet. 

But what if you do run out of a certain product? Let customers get on a waitlist, so they’ll receive email notifications when you get more in stock. This keeps shoppers excited and may even help you save that sale. 

Simulate the in-store experience

Since so many people are shopping online instead of in-store, make the experience as fun and engaging as possible for them. Let customers feel like they’re getting to see and touch your products in person. Here are just a few ideas:

  • Include photos and videos in different scenarios. If you sell fashion, show your clothing on a variety of body types so customers can envision how they will look on them. If you sell toys, include videos of children playing with them. If you sell products in a variety of sizes, share pictures of them next to items that show their scale. You may even want to include 360-degree photos so people can see your products from all angles.
  • Use a live chat box. When someone shops in-store, they can easily ask a salesperson questions. Give them this same opportunity with a live chat box at the bottom of the screen.
  • Create an FAQ page. Or, get ahead of your customer questions by answering the most frequent ones on an FAQ page.
  • Make your site interactive. Consider adding fun, interactive elements like style quizzes, giveaways, or coupon spin wheels.
  • Write great product descriptions. Since customers can’t touch, smell, or sample your products, focus on sensory phrases in your descriptions. What does your food taste like? Do your candles remind people of a fall apple orchard? If you sell fashion, include size charts so people know what size to purchase.
  • Recommend and compare products. When shopping in a physical location, customers can more easily compare their options and understand what else they might need. Provide this experience on your store with product recommendations, upsells and cross-sells, and product comparison features.
  • Send customers something immediately. When someone purchases an item in a store, they can take it home with them then and there. Provide that same kind of instant gratification by sending your customers something immediately following their online order. If you sell ingredients, email them a PDF with recipe ideas. If you sell CDs, email them a special, extra digital track. 

Be creative! Think through the kind of experience you want your customers to have.

Test site functionality

To prepare for an onslaught of orders, test your site and make sure it’s working optimally. We’ve written a comprehensive guide to preparing your store for Black Friday with more details, but here are a few things to pay attention to:

  • Site speed. Make sure your site loads quickly so customers won’t become frustrated and shop somewhere else. You can use tools like GTmetrix and PageSpeed Insights to test your load time and follow these speed tips to improve your store.
  • Responsive design. More and more people are shopping on mobile phones. Does your site look great and work properly on devices of all sizes? 
  • Load testing. Load testing tools “fake” a surge of traffic to your site to see how it performs. This will give you a clear idea of how many customers you can handle and whether you need to make changes to your hosting provider. 
  • Checkout functionality. Test all of your payment gateways and shipping calculations to ensure everything works as it should. 

Get ready for Black Friday and Cyber Monday

Black Friday and Cyber Monday may look a little different this year, but with some preparation and creative thinking, you’ll be set up for success! The most important thing is that you think through the challenges and needs of your audience and offer solutions.

What changes are you making for the holidays this year? Let us know in the comments!

Customize your store with official extensions for WooCommerce in our marketplace

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How to Position Your Products as Gift Ideas

Most businesses spend the majority of the year trying to do two things:

  1. Sell more to existing customers
  2. Acquire new customers

But during the holiday marketing season, your audience shifts, and neither of those goals applies in quite the same way. Now, you’re selling to the gift giver, not just your usual customers. 

Suppose that, for 11 months out of the year, you sell hiking gear to outdoor enthusiasts. But during the holidays, you sell to their friends, family, and coworkers who want to buy them gifts. These people may have no interest in your product, but they know someone who does.

This audience shift is more pronounced in some industries than others. If you want to maximize your sales during the most lucrative time of year, you need to make a few changes to your marketing strategies.

And you should make plans for these changes now – not at the end of November. Here are eight shifts that will make your holiday marketing speak to the gift giver, not the gift recipient. 

1. Focus on headline language: identify your audience 

Gift givers are looking for quick and easy. Whether you’re sending paper catalogs, posting social media or search engine ads, doing email marketing, or just trusting that people will find your products organically, your headlines have to clearly and quickly speak to this new audience.

The other seven items on this list all depend on getting this first one right. A good headline during the holiday marketing season should accomplish several things:

  • State the offer — this could be a sale price, a product, a service
  • Speak to the intended audience — the gift giver who will be sending you money
  • Include at least one benefit
  • Identify the product or type of product

For example, suppose you sell portable heaters and air conditioners. You might normally use this headline: “Infrared Heating Systems — Save up to 40% and Stay Toasty All Winter Long.”

Notice the details. The offer is “save up to 40%.” The audience is anyone looking for a portable heater. The benefit is staying toasty all winter long. 

But during the holiday season, you might shift it to this: “Is Your Partner Getting Cold Working at Home? Save up to 40% on Infrared Heating Systems.

This is a problem-solution headline, with the solution being the offer. Another headline could be:
Great Gift Idea! Stay Toasty and Save up to 40% on Infrared Heating Systems.

The point is, you must speak to the person giving the gift, not the person receiving it.

2. Sell gift cards

Gift cards are a great holiday present, especially if you’re sending it to someone you don’t know super well. And with the Gift Cards extension, any business can sell online gift cards and let customers track how much they’ve spent.

gift card confirmation email

These are a great way to win new customers. The gift giver will buy the gift card. But the person using the gift card may become a repeat customer for years afterward. Another benefit of gift cards is that, unfortunately, some people never use theirs and forget they have them. While this isn’t why you promote gift cards, it is a reality, and your business still gets the money.

3. Offer coupons to new customers

Gift givers are often first-time customers because they’re buying your products for loved ones, not for themselves. Want them to shop at your store rather than somewhere else? Offer coupons for their first purchase!

With the Smart Coupons extension, you can set an offer amount — say, 15% off — and apply it only to orders from new users. Or, you might consider giving first-time customers free shipping.

4. Create packages, bundles, and gift baskets

This is a way to get super creative with your holiday marketing. Create special baskets and bundles that are available only for a short time, and pepper your headlines and ads with language about gifts.

A business that sells survival gear could put together an emergency package with tools, food, fuel, and clothing items. Or, give customers the chance to choose from several options and customize their product bundle. 

product bundle showing a skate board and accessories

You can do this and so much more using the Product Bundles extension.

5. Target friends of people who like your Facebook page

Facebook allows you to send marketing campaigns to the Facebook friends of anyone who has liked your page. This is a terrific way to reach out to people who are buying gifts for people who have already expressed an interest in your products or services. Here’s documentation from Facebook explaining a bit more about what they call “Connections Targeting.” 

In your campaign, once again focus your headlines on this new audience. For example: “Survival Gear Gift Basket — Makes a Great Gift!”

Someone might see that ad on Facebook and think of their friend who they know that is a survivalist.

6. Include plenty of product details

On your product pages, but also on your other marketing materials, be sure to include extra details that the gift-giving audience will need. 

A friend of a model train enthusiast probably won’t understand all of the technical jargon typically included in a product description, so leave it out of your holiday ads aimed at this audience. No acronyms. No slang. No niche-level language. 

And make sure you clearly explain what’s great about each product. Don’t just list a bunch of specs and features. If you normally write at a 10th-grade level, lower it to 7th. If you normally write at a 7th-grade level, lower it to 5th. Make it as simple as possible so that a person who knows almost nothing about your products will still know what they’re buying, and will believe it’s a good deal that their friend will love. Yes, this will mean more writing, not less. 

7. Offer recommended products and cross-sells

Gift givers are searching. It’s unlikely that the first product they view on your site will be the one they buy. Include recommended products, similar products, and cross-sells. This provides gift givers more choices so they stay on your site and don’t go somewhere else. Make it easy for them.

Does this sound familiar? Yes, Amazon does it. If Amazon does it, you can bet that it works.

8. Write blog posts and guides that answer common questions

Gift givers are searching, but they don’t always know what they’re searching for

By writing blog posts and guides that answer common questions from new customers, you can attract more visitors to your site. And, you can link to these resources from relevant product pages, for people on your site who need a little more detail. 

Think about shoppers who come to your business and know nothing. What kind of questions do they ask about your products? Write about that, because that is your gift-giving audience.

Speak to the right people this season

What’s the common thread here? Focusing on the gift giver. This doesn’t mean that you should desert your typical customers. It just means that you should think about how your marketing, advertising, and website can speak to the gift giver’s goal: Finding something amazing that will thrill the recipient.

WooCommerce Smart Coupons

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Ship Internationally with DHL and WooCommerce Shipping

Selling internationally just got easier thanks to a new partnership between WooCommerce Shipping and DHL. Now, US-based businesses can unlock more opportunities by expanding reach around the world.  

With WooCommerce Shipping, you can get discounted DHL Express labels right in your dashboard. The result is a smooth international shipping experience that’s fully integrated with your store. 

With DHL and WooCommerce, you get: 

  • Special discounted rates for DHL Express labels. Save up to 67%!
  • Free pickups from DHL. 
  • Quick deliveries, as fast as two to five days.
  • End-to-end shipment tracking with automated customer emails.
  • Automated customs form creation.
shipping label settings in the WooCommerce dashboard

Print for less

WooCommerce Shipping has no setup charges and no monthly fees — just pay for your labels! On top of that, you’ll save time and money by printing DHL Express labels at discounted rates, all without leaving the WooCommerce dashboard. 

Expand your audience 

Ship to over 220 countries and territories with DHL Express. Gain access to international shipping experts who specialize in courier delivery services and offer a wide range of express parcel and package solutions. 

Better together: WooCommerce Shipping and DHL

WooCommerce Shipping is built into the WordPress dashboard, providing an easy-to-use system that eliminates the stress of processing orders. You can print labels in a flash, save on shipping, and focus more on growing your business and less on getting orders out the door.

Now, WooCommerce Shipping offers that same convenience for US-based stores that sell internationally. You can print DHL Express labels and send your products around the world. Reach 120,000 destinations while saving up to 67% off DHL rates. 

printing a label with DHL

Ready to go global? If you already have WooCommerce Shipping, all you need to do is add an international shipping zone. Then, you’ll automatically see DHL as an option when choosing a shipping service.

If you don’t have WooCommerce shipping, you can download it here for free and follow the steps in our documentation to get started.

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Wordpress Tutorial


Extreme sports WordPress theme for outdoor adventure businesses – Adrenaline

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