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Archive for June, 2008

Want to blog but not sure where to start? The following tips on how to write for a blog will help get your blog juices flowing. These tips are not all inclusive or set in stone. If you have other suggestions, let me know!

  1. Always use a clear headline stating the subject of your post. No one is going to take the time to figure out what’s in it for them. Make sure it’s obvious.
  2. Blog posts don’t have to be long and all encompassing. As a matter of fact, some of the most popular blogs have posts that are as simple as a single small paragraph or a few sentences. Also, big content can be broken into separate posts.
  3. Don’t be afraid to link to other sites and send your visitors away. They’ll thank you for sharing and come back again if the links are useful.
  4. Let your visitors do some of the writing for you. Encourage them to leave comments.
  5. On occasion, post a top-five or top-ten list about how to do something, solve a problem, etc. People like lists if they’re informative and helpful.
  6. Keep your blog fresh.  Post something new once a day, or at least once a week. No one will come back to read the same old posts again.
  7. Don’t just post to be posting. Think about what you would like to say that benefits your audience.
  8. Stay on topic. It’s nice that you may be excited about something that’s a personal interest unrelated to your blog. However, it may not be of any interest to your audience, so don’t waste their time.

The above tips will help you become a better blogger, or help you become a blogger if you’re not sure where to start. Now get out there and write something. Your audience is waiting!


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As online retailers have gained more experience over the years, they’re finding that trying to hobble together numerous temporary fixes to their existing websites no longer makes economic sense. In most cases it’s better to simply toss the old site, upgrade their online business to a higher-level ecommerce solution and start with everything tied together correctly.

It is important to assess your current ecommerce platform on occasion to determine if it’s meeting the needs of your evolving customer base, as well as your internal operations and marketing requirements.

  • Is your current ecommerce solution in a position to evolve your site to double or even triple your online business?
  • Is your site structurally capable of large scale growth and development, while being easy to manage?
  • Is your current ecommerce solution provider a partner that’s there to help you with the growth of your business?
  • Are the components of your current ecommerce solution capable of advanced features, such as integrating with accounting software, or allowing customers to provide product reviews on your site?

It’s very important that you’re honest with yourself about your current position and your long-term goals. It’s easy to wait until the holiday season to think that you should have taken appropriate actions, but it’s already too late…

Like some smaller online retailers, you may believe you’ve already gone as far as you can online, which doesn’t make any sense if you stop to think about it. There is always room to develop, improve and grow your business online. You are only limited by your imagination and your current technology.

If you’re serious about being successful online, it makes functional and economical sense to move your website operations to an integrated ecommerce platform that can handle all of your online sales, management and marketing activities.

The holiday season is coming up quick. Is your website ready to take full advantage of it?


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Even with the greatest efforts, some websites are never able to gain any significant ranking in the search engines. As a result, they see no visitors. Many people don’t realize that a failure to rank is due not only to their on-page and off-page SEO efforts, but the architecture of the website itself.

In the good old days, anything that was put on the web would be indexed and ranked by the search engines within a matter of days, regardless of its underlying code and design. However, as the web has grown into billions of pages, this is no longer possible. Today it’s “garbage in, garbage out”. In other words, the search engine spiders (the automated robots that scan web pages for indexing) first run a quick check of the page before indexing it. If it doesn’t meet their established technical and usability guidelines – for any reason – the page is discarded and the search engine spider moves on to another site.

Unfortunately, even the most experienced business people are often not aware of the workings of these issues, or of how significantly they can affect their business – both on and off-line. For that reason, expert website design is critical to your ecommerce success.

Websites that aren’t constructed to meet the exacting best practices in design and technical implementation not only suffer from lack of search engine attention and a lack of visitors, they are more expensive to maintain due to such shortcomings. Therefore, websites that aren’t designed to the highest levels of industry standards are more problematic and costly, leading to an inability to effectively compete online.

A professionally designed website that’s structurally sound on both the inside and the outside will have a far greater chance of showing up on the first page of natural search results than a site that isn’t. Simply put, high-level website design and development is the first step to achieving any significant success online.

How well is your website working for you?


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Social media is being talked up everywhere as the newest thing in internet marketing, but it isn’t really new…  The only difference between online social media and old school word of mouth is the speed at which the word is spread. Modern social media allows you to grow your business faster through accelerated word of mouth marketing applications like social bookmarking sites and consumer blogs.

Online customer reviews and rating systems are just the larger scale, online version of asking a friend for a recommendation. This is among the oldest and most widely proven forms of social media marketing, used by the most successful shopping sites. Internet retailers like Amazon.com and Best Buy encourage customers to directly post reviews of products, whether negative or positive, because it converts online shoppers into buyers at a much higher rate than product pages that don’t have customer reviews.

Shop.org and Forrester have reported that just 26% of surveyed online retailers offered customer ratings and reviews on their websites, but 96% of these retailers rated the feature an effective method for improving online sales conversion rates. 96 percent!!

Look at a Best Buy page with reviews, such as their Small Business Lap Tops page. Note all of the reviews with stars. Which lap top would you be more likely to buy, a three star or a five star? You get the idea. Now, imagine how this would increase sales on your own website.

The ultimate goal for any online retailer will always be to drive qualified traffic to their site. With the rise of social media tools and social shopping sites, such as on-site customer reviews and ThisNext.com, this is becoming easier. Shoppers from such sites are already largely presold on what you’re selling before they arrive to your site. Once you have them, it’s a serious matter of the effectiveness of your online store. Is your store optimized to convert these valuable visitors into buyers?

In today’s increasingly social online shopping environment, your overall marketing strategy must address the socialization of the Internet shopping experience. Ecommerce retailers that do this effectively will continue to see great success well into the future. Conversely, those that are not making solid plans to step into the world of social media with a clear strategy will ultimately end up struggling to stay in business – or fail completely.

In order to be successful in social media and social ecommerce technologies, you must have a clear and preplanned strategy for your implementation. The core strategies your online business must apply include internal social media tools such as on site product reviews, as well as off site, customer-generated content such as customer comments on social shopping sites and blogs. Keep in mind that the greater the participation of your customers the greater will be the return on your efforts.

All of these things are not as easy as they sound. Chatting with your neighbor across the back fence was easy – your neighbor knows you. Effectively participating in social media to grow your business requires a significant amount of effort and skill, just like any other endeavor that leads to success. However, the sooner you begin taking steps in the right direction, the sooner you will build a brand that is promoted by your most important stakeholders; your customers.

What is your social media plan and what are you doing to make it happen?


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This creative video by Common Craft focuses on the basics of social media. If you don’t feel you’ve fully grasped the importance of social media in building your brand, this should help put things in perspective.

 


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It is amazing how many ecommerce businesses are not offering something for free to attract new customers and increase their online sales. Sometimes it takes as little as using the word FREE as part of their call to action, such as “Call for a FREE quote”, or “Call for a FREE consultation”. Free offers can also include things such as PDF eBooks with information your potential customers would be interested in, such as a computer dealer offering a free PDF eBook addressing key features someone should look for when shopping for a lap top.

Financial Week recently published an excellent article about offering freebies as a cheap way to increase sales in a sluggish economy, which is well worth the read to get your free giveaway juices flowing. Keep in mind that more companies are actively working on developing great freebie incentives to bring in new customers. And often they will get the sale because of this perceived goodwill, or try it before you buy it stance. We have been offering a Free Ecommerce Website Analysis for years, and as simple as the offer is, it works at getting people to contact us who may have not done so otherwise.

As Tom Pirko, president of Bevmark said in the Financial Week article above. “When there’s less disposable income … you become more cautious. Since the great majority of purchases are on impulse, in times like this, you just don’t have the kind of enthusiasm to just grab something. You’re much more value conscious.” This applies even more so to ecommerce websites which are largely dependent upon organic search engine and PPC traffic to increase online sales.

What are you offering for FREE to your website visitors to forge new relationships and close more sales?


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Great quote found on Dosh Dosh’s post Ideals and Promises: Selling an Achievable Dream to Your Target Market:

 

“The philosophy behind much advertising is based on the old observation that every man is really two men — the man he is and the man he wants to be.”
– William Feather

 

It’s interesting to think about how many mega successful brands have been built largely upon carefully crafted perceived images. If you think about it, most every name brand that you can think of is backed with a strong perception of their intended image messaging. Think of the following brands:

 

  • Nike
  • Nordstrom
  • Ethan Allen
  • Rolex
  • Google

 

Each of these brand names produce an immediate mental image of their perceived value.

 

Although the mechanics of selling online – such as SEO and web page development – are important for success, you also need to be actively working at developing a brand that stands out from your competitors.

 

What will you do today that furthers your brand?


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