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2019 USPS Postage Rate Increase Guide – Free Download

January 11th, 2019 Comments off

New 2019 U.S. Postal Service rates go into effect on Sunday, January 27, 2019. Stamps.com has compiled all you need to know about 2019 USPS rates in the new 2019 USPS Postage Rate Increase Guide. This guide will help you better understand the new USPS rates and how they may affect your business.

 

 

This guide details the changes for the following domestic and international mail classes:

  • First Class Mail
  • Priority Mail
  • Priority Mail Express
  • First Class Package Service
  • Parcel Select Ground
  • USPS Retail Ground
  • Media Mail
  • Global Express Guaranteed
  • Priority Mail International
  • Priority Mail Express International
  • First Class Package International Service

Each mail class is presented with side-by-side comparisons between the current postage rates and the new 2019 postage rates, both for customers who buy postage at the Post Office and for customers who print postage online (using Stamps.com), taking advantage of discounted shipping rates.

The guide also includes changes to Special Services including Certified Mail, Registered Mail, USPS Tracking, and Signature Confirmation.

Download the Postage Rate Increase Guide

Categories: Free Guides Tags:

New Year, New You: Creating the Ideal About Us Page

December 27th, 2018 Comments off

When it comes to your online e-commerce business presence, creating your “About Us” page requires careful consideration and attention to detail. When customers visit your website they often want to learn more about your company such as who is behind it, how long has the company been in business, and what is the company’s mission statement. The following will help guide you to the creation of an optimum “About Us” page using this handy checklist.

Use a Modern and Fun Tone

The ‘About Us’ page doesn’t have to be dull and straight to the point. Get creative and have fun with this page by using a modern and fun tone that is inviting to your visitors. One example could be with the use of a conversational tone that makes the customer feel invited and valued. Be upbeat and enthusiastic in your writing and this will come across as a company that is both modern and fun!

Showcase Your Company Interest and Culture

Giving your readers specific detailed information about who you are, where your company got its start, and the essence behind you and your products/services helps customers better understand where your passion lies and why they should be giving their business to you. Does your company give a proceed of sales to charity? Be sure to include this because customers enjoy shopping for a good cause!

Give Attention to Perception

In continuing with the idea of giving your customers an inside look at who you are and what your company’s mission is, don’t forget to give attention to customer perception. You want to be sure that your tone and message doesn’t come off as vain. While showcasing all your company’s achievements seems relevant on this page, consider how to feature them without giving the impression that you are bragging in any way. Instead, the perception you want to give to your customers should be one that is friendly, caring, and attentive to their needs. One way this could be done effectively is by adding a few of your customer’s personal reviews of your products so that customers can see for themselves why they should shop with you.

Categories: Small Business Marketing Tags:

4 Techniques to Improve Mobile Checkout

December 13th, 2018 Comments off

The average cart abandonment rate is 69.89%. Of the number of people that make it all the way to checkout, 25% will leave without completing their purchase.

Whichever way look at it, that’s a sizeable number of lost customers and revenue. What’s more, the situation is even worse on mobile. Overall ecommerce conversion rates usually lag around two percentage points behind desktop.

So how can you go about recouping some of those sales?

Top companies have cut down their checkout abandonment rate to around 13%. And the simple truth is there’s nothing particularly complex about the tactics they’ve used.

By avoiding a handful of common mistakes, and making a few minor tweaks, you should be able to bring your own rate to a similar level.

1. Slash the Number of Steps to Complete a Transaction

If you look at Crutchfield’s checkout process, you’ll see that customers only need to move through three stages to make an order. It’s worth attempting to achieve the same number of steps (or even less) with your own checkout process.

Crutchfield’s checkout process is made up of only three steps.

 

There is one caveat, however. On mobile devices, it’s better to fit all information into one screen-sized page. If that means more than three pages, then it’s a trade-off that’s usually worth making.  Making customers scroll up and down can add unnecessary friction to the buyer journey.

2. Minimize Unnecessary Page Elements

During the checkout process, you have one aim – to close the deal. Checkout pages are not the place to promote your upsells and cross-sells. What’s more, unnecessary page elements, that might cause a customer to click through to another area of your site, should be minimized.

This is especially the case on mobile, where space is at a premium and it’s easy to accidentally tap the wrong button.

Simply Hike removes all unnecessary elements including the menu and footer. It just leaves the logo, performance indicator and phone support.

Some online retailers, like Zappos, have gotten rid of everything! If you want to go down that route, however, testing is a must!

If you need to include extra information, do so in the form of toplayers (top-of-the-page pop-ups) that will open a new window when clicked.

3. Make the Most Important CTAs Easy to Click

Or, even better, place them strategically while making them easy to click.

Scott Hurff created a “Thumb Zone” map that shows the spots to avoid when deciding where to place your crucial elements. Ensure you avoid the hard-to-click areas.

Use Scott Hurff’s “thumb map” when designing your pages.

 

What’s more, remember that visitors use their left hand to operate their mobile devices 30% of the time. Also, keep in mind that left-handers constitute around 10% of the population.

So don’t put everything on the right-hand side of the screen!

Which hand do you use for your smartphone when you drink a coffee or eat a donut?

So how do you put these points into practice? We recommend you follow three tips:

  1. Avoid placing elements you want users to tap in the upper part of the screen. Follow the “thumb map” above”
  2. Make all tappable elements, like buttons or form fields, screen-wide.
  3. Make sure your CTA buttons are colorful and stand out.
  4. Don’t force users to tap precisely on checkboxes when subscribing to a newsletter or agreeing to the terms and conditions — make the whole line tappable (if they tap on the instruction, for example).

4. Offer Guest Checkout First

Enable guest checkout and place the CTA strategically. Unless 90% of your users are returning shoppers, the guest checkout button should be one of the first options during the checkout.

At Asos.com you can choose whether to register or simply continue to checkout.

 

Here’s a pro tip. Copy Spring and ask for an email address before letting a user proceed. This way, you can reach potential customers if they do abandon their cart during checkout.

Conclusion

If there’s one thing you should take away from this post, it’s the simple maxim that “less is more” when it comes to customer checkout.

You want users to undertake one (and only one) action – and that’s to complete the purchase! Anything that prevents them from doing this should be dropped!

And, as always, don’t forget to test the results of all the tweaks you make. While these tips will set you in the right direction, consistent testing will enable you to find your own winning mix!

Are you looking for more ideas to grow your ecommerce conversion rate? I bet you do! If I bet right, you should get our Ultimate 115-point Ecommerce Optimization Checklist which we use with our clients to dramatically increase their conversion rates and sales.

About the author:

Pawel Ogonowski

The Ecommerce Optimization Guy who helps 7 & 8-figure online retailers get guaranteed revenue uplifts in a dev-free way. To get more of Pawel’s content subscribe to Growcode’s Ecommerce Optimization Blog and Bite-size Ecommerce Optimization on YouTube. Connect with Pawel on LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram.

Categories: Marketing for Ecommerce Tags:

USPS Suspends Mail Delivery Wed, Dec 5 for National Day of Mourning

December 3rd, 2018 Comments off

President Trump has proclaimed Wednesday, December 5, 2018 as a National Day of Mourning in remembrance of former President George H.W. Bush.

To honor President Bush for his vast contributions to public service during his lifetime, the U.S. Postal Service will observe a day of mourning and will suspend regular mail delivery and Post Office/retail services on Wednesday, December 5.

USPS Operations That Will Continue on Wednesday, Dec 5
Service Status
Priority Mail Express All Priority Mail Express items will be delivered as scheduled.
Package Pickup USPS will conduct scheduled package pickup requests.  IMPORTANT! No new package pickups are being scheduled for December 5.
Plant Operations All plant operations, including Network Distribution Centers (NDC) and Sectional Center Facilities (SCF), will operate as scheduled except delivery point sequence (DPS) processing. FAST appointments will be accepted.
Air & Surface Transportation Air and Surface transportation operate as scheduled, and scheduled dispatches to Post Offices will occur.
USPS Customer Support Call Center In operation but may have reduced staffing.
Delivery Destination Units (DDU) All DDUs will accept drop shipments.

 

USPS Operations That Will Be Suspended on Wednesday, Dec 5
Service Status
General Mail Delivery Regular USPS mail delivery will be suspended. There will be limited package delivery consistent with our Peak Season Sunday schedule.
Post Office/Retail Post Offices will be closed. All retail operations will be suspended.
Collection Box (Blue Boxes in Streets) Mail will be collected from boxes in front of Post Offices and high volume boxes that have a potential to overflow. All other box collections will be suspended.
Business Mail Entry Unit (BMEU) The BMEU/Detached Mail Unit (DMU) in plant locations will be open, while BMEU operations will be suspended at Post Office locations.
USPS Administrative Offices including Headquarters All administration offices will be closed.

Get more info from USPS.com.

Handling Fake Competitor Reviews with Class

November 28th, 2018 Comments off

No business is perfect. At some point, an employee will make a mistake or a customer won’t be satisfied and you’ll end up with an unflattering review. But if you reach out and fix the problem, you may be able to turn that bad review around.

Unfortunately, not all negative reviews are legitimate. In fact, some criticism could be entirely fabricated by your competitors with the intention of tarnishing your hard-earned reputation. The worst part is that research suggests small businesses could lose 22% of their revenue from just one bad online article. Continue reading to learn how to identify and address fake reviews before they ruin your reputation.

Spotting Fake Reviews

It may seem impossible to root out false reviews, but with a few simple tricks you’ll become a pro at catching the counterfeits.

Start by keeping thorough records of every online review mentioning your business. You may want to reference the good ones with customers, and you’ll definitely need to address the bad ones to maintain a clean reputation.

Create a spreadsheet and add columns for each of the following: website address, review, review type, review date, and notes. Next, you’ll want to categorize each review type as positive, neutral or negative. Then, fill in the notes column with any details, including incidents on record or whether you’ve reached out to the individual or website. Finally, open and read each critique and look for these signs of fake reviews:

  • Vagueness — If someone has never been to your store or done business with your company their review may lack detail. Legitimate complaints usually include a name or description rather than generic statements like: “rude and dishonest salespeople.”
  • Me, Me, Me — Deceptive reviewers often default to using more first-person pronouns like “I” and “me”. This is because our brains tend to draw from what we know (ourselves) when fabricating stories.
  • More Doing, Less Seeing — When asked to describe real events, people remember the things they saw and touched. Conversely, when we lie, we usually describe actions because they’re easier to make up.

Reporting Fake Reviews

Once you’ve identified fake reviews it’s time to take action. Unfortunately, many review sites won’t remove complaints unless you can definitively prove that they’re fictitious. But if you gather plenty of evidence to support your claims then they may be willing to help. Try locating sales records and email exchanges, and compare the location of the reviewer to your business address.

While ripoffreport.com won’t remove complaints, reputable sites like Yelp, Google and Facebook are willing to look at dishonest content. Each site has specific guidelines for removing reviews, though, so you should become familiar with individual policies before submitting a grievance.

Responding to Fake Reviews

While removing false reviews should always be your goal, sometimes this just isn’t possible. In these situations, you should submit a rebuttal or response to clarify the situation with readers. However, you’ll need to word your reply carefully so you don’t cause more damage to your reputation. Here are some tips to respond to fake reviews with class:

 

  • Be Patient — Before responding to a fake review, wait to see if it subsides in your search results. Sometimes reviews fall to page 2 or 3 in Google where they won’t be seen. However, responding to them could signal to Google that the content is relevant to your brand, pushing them higher up in the search results.
  • Cast Doubt — Calmly explain that you have no record of an incident that matches the reviewer’s name or situation. State that you take customer service very seriously, and offer to resolve the issue over the phone or via email. Readers may doubt the authenticity of the complaint, and you’ll demonstrate your willingness to fix issues.
  • Talk to the Readers — The author of the fake review will probably never read your response. Therefore, respond in a way that you want potential readers of the complaint to see your company. Using facts and bullet points can also help to build your case.

 

Fake reviews are frustrating and costly, but you don’t have to live with them. Fighting back with class and a strategic plan could be enough to fix your reputation. If you’re still unsuccessful and have the budget, you can turn to more traditional methods like digital marketing and PR to eradicate the negative content. But these techniques often require a substantial long-term investment.

Here’s a quick recap of that strategy again: Record all online reviews about your business. Learn to sniff out fake reviews. Remove what you can, and always respond with the reader in mind. Following this advice will put you on the path to developing a shining reputation for your small business.

 

Jonas Sickler is an expert in crisis communications and online reputation management. His advice has been featured in over 60 publications, including Forbes, Washington Post, CNBC, The Street, U.S. News and Business News Daily. Follow along on Twitter.

Categories: Small Business Marketing Tags:

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