Always be Testing
When it comes to marketing there is the old phrase that relates to everything “always be testing.” You need to test what you are doing to increase visibility. If your goal is to get more orders, then what are you trying to get more orders?
Once you establish a strategy, you need to test out the strategy to see if it is working. If you are using certain keywords to gain a better google rank, then you can easily test this using various SEO tools. Many of the SEO tools are free with a premium option available.
Google allows you to test your strategy out for free as well by simply checking each week. You can check the keywords you have chosen using the Google webmaster tools. In the end continuous testing is important to succeed
Try Different Things
You need to come up with several different strategies and test them out. This is important especially with the Holiday season coming up. This winter people will be looking to spend Billions of dollars online. Test your strategies now to find out what works.
Your product pages, description and overall content need to match your strategy. What are you trying to sell? If you can imagine a perfect customer what would that look like? How can you write content tailored for that person?
Questions like these are good starting points to help develop a strategy. Once you have a customer engaged you should be getting information from them through follow up. Amazon does this a lot now where the store owners will follow up with you to find out how you liked their product.
This is great because if you get a response, then you have a customer engaged. Once they are engaged with you it is important to extract as much information as possible.
What to ask your customer?
The information you extract from existing customers can be very important. Ask them why they bought your product. What did they like about your product? Why did they choose your product? Is there anything that they like to buy with your product?
If they found you on a site like Amazon, then you should let them know about your web store you have available. Customers feel a part of a business that operates like this. If you can do this effectively you will create multiple advocates for your company. Offer them incentives for giving you information and referrals.
You can create a referral site for people to send their friends with special referral pricing. This helps increase engagement as well.
Short and Sweet
This was a short post in today’s Small Business Blog. This week I will have more time to go in depth on the Facebook ad strategy that can compliment this post. As a business blog we sometimes struggle with content. If there is anything you want to know about in particular let us know.
Small Business Blog
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It will never be easy
We have written over 100 posts on this blog. The purpose of this blog has always been geared toward helping the small business. This small business blog is about helping you grow. We want you to remember that it is never going to be easy.
Thanks to companies like Amazon, customers have developed a certain expectation when they order things online. Customers are looking for fast shipping, fast fulfillment and low prices. You are a small business. There is no way you can afford to operate like that in the beginning.
We Don’t hate Amazon
we don’t hate Amazon. The recommendation has been to start with Amazon, then you use the engagements and sales to transfer your traffic to your own website. This is what we cover in the Increasing Engagement category to the right. Reading these posts and the SEO category posts will give you ideas on how to grow sales.
Many people get the impression that all you have to do is set up a Big Commerce or Shopify store. The setting up of the store is just the beginning of a long process.
When you set up the store you are at least committing to yourself to get started. I have seen many people set up stores and simply give up because they get 0 sales. Don’t just try the free trial for 15 days then decide it is too difficult. These template stores like Shopify and Big Commerce are easy to figure out, but if you cannot figure it out then ask for help.
Ask for help
The good thing about starting an online e-commerce store today: Many people have come before you.
The people who have started e commerce sites previously are putting their information online to help you out. Pitfalls await you at each step of the set up. Look online for forums where people are offering you advice. Shopify and Big Commerce both have great forums where sellers and developers answer any question you have.
Winter is coming!
Aside from the Game of Thrones reference, Winter really is coming. This means that people are going to be spending more and more money online as we approach Christmas. You should already be thinking about your strategy for the holidays. Again check out our SEO category for some of our pasts post on how to optimize your site to capture holiday traffic for any upcoming holiday.
Thank you for reading subscribe to this blog to the right and share it with your friends if they need help getting their businesses started as well.
We will do a series on Facebook starting next week as many have requested.
Let us know if you have any questions, leave a comment if you have any questions!
Who are you selling?
The average e-commerce site is around for somewhere around 18 months. This doesn’t mean they are actually getting sales for 18 months. Usually it is because they sign up for a year with a domain that lasts 12 months. Some sort of shopping cart or e-commerce platform will need to be used on that domain in order for sales to be made on the domain.
This is a consequence of how easy it has become to set up a website. People have ideas that are good in their head, and they sound good to friends they tell. This motivates them to try and put it online. Many times the effort actually put into the idea is minimal when zero result is seen after months of operation.
In this post we will try to examine errors of people who sell things online when they have no experience.
Customer in the Mirror
Store owners begin by selling to the customer in the mirror, themselves. Their website is built to be aesthetically pleasing to them. Many times the descriptions of their products are based on what they want to hear. This would be fine if some how you set up a website that instantly got millions of hits a year. In the real world though, it doesn’t work like that. The description has to be pleasing to the search engines and what people are actually searching for.
Google has made it very easy to find out what people are searching for, I have discussed this in many posts within the SEO category. You can click on SEO to the right to find out more.
The Value in your Product
Does the description of your product tell what value it brings? Most people are not going to over spend. Generally, if a person spends a dollar on something it is because that person believes that what they are buying is worth what they are paying. Their are exceptions to this like weddings for example. The case of the wedding though is a great example because in the wedding industry, the value is sold to the bride, but the bride doesn’t pay for the item in most cases.
It is the bride who asks for the money to get the item if they are not the one who is ultimately paying. When a bride and a groom go in to pick table decorations, it is likely that neither one is going to pay for them. These things need to be kept in consideration when building a website.
Who buys your product? Why would they buy it? What problem does your product solve? At what price will they walk away?
The last question is an issue that isn’t considered by most e-commerce store owners. Let’s say that your product weighs 30 lbs. If your product is listed on your website for $30 and it weighs 30 lbs, then you can expect the shipping costs to be at least $12.
What happens here is the buyer of your item see the costs of $30, then the ultimate cost ends up being $42 which is a 33% increase. Let’s say your item is $42 though with free shipping. Would you get more orders that way? It depends on your product is the answer. How well did you sell the value?
It doesn’t matter how well you sold the value people are going to abandon the cart after a 33% increase in the price. When they get ready to check out, they were sold on the value of the price listed on the website. When this price substantially changes, they run away because they are shocked by the increase. They were not prepared to pay the new price listed after shipping is added.
Just some Ideas to think about
Think about these things when you are setting up your shipping costs. Their are more things to consider when selling items. Human psychology is tricky. Being surprised by a price is generally not viewed as a good thing whether it be too low or too high.
Amazon has really changed the way we buy things online, so you need to think about what the experience of a buyer is on a site like Amazon. How can you provide a similar experience at a reasonable price?
Thank you for reading, share this if you found it useful to your business.
Upcoming Sales Events
As we approach the end of summer, think about these things in the upcoming months that may help you increase sales. Today is Amazon Prime Day, and it has quickly become a national retail holiday. I have posted a few articles Here on Amazon Prime Day. What events can you take advantage of?
If you are on Amazon as a seller, you should be aware of this day. There could be a few other retail events you can take advantage of as well.
Back to School?
Back to school events are around the corner. Do you have anything in your store that relates to school? Back to school clothes would be an example for a retailer. Do you have furniture related items that could be used in a dorm in any way? Start thinking about setting up a back to school page for your sites. Even if you only sell shoes, set up a back to school shoes page to capture the google searches for back to school items.
If you have a blog on your site, start directing the content toward the keywords that relate to back to school. It is still early enough for you to be an early mover on something like this.
Does your product work well for people on vacation? This doesn’t work for all things retail, but if your item is something that can be used on vacation then write a blog post about it. Make a video of how it can be used on vacation and post it to your blog. If you have great vacation ideas, a blog post about that may be helpful as well.
If you have things you like to do for summer that others may not know about, then this is also a good topic to write a blog about. Every time you write a blog make sure you link back to your store. The blog doesn’t necessarily have to relate to your store, but you should still mention that you have a store. People are looking for ideas for summer still. Kids are at home all day long and by now they are out of ideas!
Creating content like this will drive unexpected traffic to your store. Remember that every hit to your store is a chance at engaging a new customer. Don’t miss these opportunities. Make sure your Shopify or Big Commerce stores capture the e-mails of your visitors, so you can market to them in the future.
Have a good Prime Day!
If your’e not on Amazon, you might not get a lot of orders today as people are wanting to save for those Prime Deals. Tomorrow is a new day though. After the deals have gone, your store will be there to service all of those disappointed Amazon customers who couldn’t find what they want.
If you sell on Amazon, don’t pass up the opportunity to drive traffic to your own store by including a note that tells your customer where to order in the future. This will increase your website traffic and will allow you to increase your own profit.
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Have a Great Day
The purpose of this small business blog is to help you increase sales. Our business blog wants to help you get away from Amazon. We know that Amazon takes a large percentage of your revenue. Imagine paying 5 percent to sell instead of 20 percent.
What is the Unboxing Experience?
The unboxing experience is the moment your customer receives their package and opens it. This seems obvious, but if you think about your last few packages you received, was there anything special or memorable about the experience? We have written about engagement several times and how important it is to keep customers coming back. The point of increasing engagement with your customers is to make sure that they share your business with their friends. If you sell your products through multiple sites like Amazon, Etsy or Ebay as well as your own website, then you will want to drive your customer re-orders to the store that gives you the most margin on your sales.
This seems obvious, but I purchase a number of items online from stores that are terrible at follow up after the sale. Your packaging can create a memorable experience for your customer. One company that does this well is Mary Kay. Here is an example of a package you would get if you received an order from Mary Kay:
Compelled to Share on Social Media
You see the Mary Kay box, and it is unique. This is an example of packaging that you want to share with your friends. Usually if you want to show your friends that you purchased something cool you will take the product out of the package and discard the packaging. If you are a small business, then you know it is difficult to differentiate yourself from the competition.
Shipping your product in a regular brown box with a regular shipping label like what you receive from a company like Amazon will not help you distinguish yourself in anyway. I recommend looking into customized packaging to see what is available to you. Companies like UPS have also come up with solutions to help you brand your package by putting your logo on the label. Here is an example of this:
This part of the overall process is often overlooked by many companies, and you will know this is true because most of the items you receive after buying items online show up in a regular brown box that looks just like every other box you have ever received. As you grow your business the package you ship your item in will be as important as the item itself. The package is attached to your brand. One thing people say they like about Mary Kay is the packaging the product comes in. Their package complements them before they ever put the product on. This is why Mary Kay is on of the most successful MLM companies on the planet. They don’t overlook the little things in the buying process.
No E-commerce Store?
If you haven’t set up your ecommerce store yet, I recommend looking at two different companies. Both Shopify and Big Commerce have easy to use platforms that will allow you to set up your website and store within an hour. Here are links to both:
What Do You Think?
Let us know what you think by leaving a comment below. Share this with your social networks if you found this valuable. Thanks for reading!
How do you grow sales online?
This is a common question that people ask when starting an E-commerce site. The answer of course is different for everyone because the world of e-commerce changes from day to day. Some people hear about a friend who started a Shopify store that is making $100,000 a year working from home. People that hear these stories think that they are getting the complete story. How did they really grow sales online?
You see it is possible that the person is running a store making $100,000 a year working from home, but is that the entire story? How many hours did this person spend learning how to build a web presence before he got to this level of sales? Often times when we hear success stories where the teller of the story makes everything seem so simple.
Ironically one of my favorite quotes on this subject comes from Jeff Bezos when he said ” I find that most over night successes take 10 years to develop.” By the time we hear about a successful person, they have already put in the work to get there, so we get the illusion of it being an over night success.
The History of Amazon
As you can see from the graph above, Amazon is no over night success. Though it does seem that way. They have 80 million + prime members that desire two day shipping. What was the first thing you bought on Amazon? If you look back through your history, then you will probably see a progression from one random thing to multiple things to everything.
The site is called Escapeamazon.com, but I do admire still what Jeff Bezos has accomplished thus far. I don’t want to discourage people from getting started on Amazon, but if you are going to rely on Amazon for all of your sales, then who is in control of the business you created?
Sometimes the revenue Amazon provides can make you forget why you started selling the product in the first place. Amazon does make it easy to sell on their platform. Now I want to draw your attention to something else, the orange brownish line in the chart above.
How to will Amazon make income?
Amazon has built a business that no doubt has a massive amount of revenue coming in. They are reinvesting this revenue to grow their business. At some point the investors of Amazon will want profits out of Amazon. Private label Amazon products have been popping up here and there. When the investors start to bail out on Amazon, where will they turn for profits? Let’s say that you have a best selling product on Amazon with no patent and no intellectual property rights. If Amazon were to copy your product to an Amazon branded product, then what would be your legal course of action? Do you have the legal team to beat Amazon’s?
Now maybe this doomsday scenario will never happen for you. It is unlikely that you are a best seller on Amazon just from a statistical stand point, but you should always be considering that one day if you become successful, then someone will want to take what you have earned. You need to build a moat around your business.
Get away from comfort
Amazon is comfort. They provide an easy way to sell your product without much work. What you need to do is create alternative stores on Etsy, Ebay, and most importantly your own website. I recommend Shopify as you know:
You can start a free trial, and have a store up within an hour. Click the banner above to find out more.
The most important thing is that you keep working at your goals. If your goal is to start a business, then do that. Amazon is a great place to start, but do not rely on them for everything. I started this blog to help small business owners retain profits that they are giving away to third parties.
Thank you for reading, and share this with your social networks if you find this helpful.
From my personal Etsy store: