If you haven’t already, now is the time to prepare your online store or website to get the most out of the 2011 Holiday season.
Every professional needs to stay up-to-date with the latest news.
That is why I have composed a list of the 12 must read blogs for any serious marketing professional (excluding my own) –
What is Google Places?
Local business listings is very important in Google. If you do a local search which includes a place, town, city or local service, Google will display the local business box. That’s how important Google thinks local search results are.
What determines your Google Places Rank?
Everyone is wondering what the ranking factors for local search engine optimisation. Do you stuff your Google Places page with as many keywords as possible or what?
Here are the top 10 factors that determine your Google Places ranking – From Least important to most important –
What is Local SEO?
You may be wondering what exactly local seo is and how it can help your business. ‘Local Search Engine Optimisation’ is getting your business listed at the top of the search engine when local searches are performed.
A local search is defined as a search including a location, city, suburb, town, place, country or a local service.
GIMP is a free graphics program which is comparable to Adobe Photoshop. GNU Image Manipulation Program (GIMP) runs on Windows, Mac and Linux.
I am often asked what graphic programs are good to use for basic graphic design. GIMP is a pretty good candidate for this. It can even save files in Photoshop format.
Internet advertising is easy to setup, maintain and measure it’s effectiveness. Every dollar is accounted for and every lead is followed.
You are able to setup test campaigns and measure every interaction very closely. You can setup micro campaigns that target very specific areas.
The advertising inventory is huge as well. If you have a large budget, you can easily spend that budget and reach everyone.
2010 ONLINE RETAIL INDUSTRY AWARDS FINALISTS:
1. Best Pure-Play Online Retailer
Deals Direct | www.dealsdirect.com.au
Appliances Online | www.appliancesonline.com.au
Little Dance Invitations | www.littledanceinvitations.com.au
Trixan Body | www.trixanbody.com.au
Emails and text messages are often misunderstood and a break down in communication can happen very easily. But what would happen if your domain name could be easily misunderstood?
Now you can with Google Alerts!
Why do you need to know?
Before I tell you how to setup a Google Alert, I need to let you know why it is so important to monitor this kind of activity.
There is no hard rule for when the business listings will be displayed but it usually appears when a keyword is about a location or the type of keyword would be loacation specific.
If you entered pizza into Google, it would then show the business listings. The same would happen for accomomdation, hotel or motel.
These listings can be a very powerful tool that you can use to list your business above everyone else. Managed right and you will be up the top. Do the wrong thing, and you will be removed very quickly – within hours!
Magento have released a new version of their shopping cart system. It is called Magento Professional aimed at small businesses.
What is Magento?
Magento is an open source shopping cart system. It is a very complex shopping cart for advanced shopping carts. I have only setup a couple Magento shopping carts where are I have setup dozens of osCommerce, CRE Loaded and Zen Cart shopping carts.
The launch of the Big W store is great news for ecommerce in Australia. It means that the large chains may start investing some real money into selling online.
About Big W Online
The Big W store has over 4,000 products in a variety of categories –
- Home & Garden
- Sports & Leisure
Australia post is being used for delivery of products. It seems like a fairly simple pricing structure is being used. Pricing for packages are as below –
- Packages less than 500 grams will cost $4.98
- Packages less than 10 KG will cost $9.98
- Packages over 10 KG cost around $20
- Express Post is also an option but costs extra
PayPal is being offered as a method of payment. PayPal is not offered on other Woolworths websites such as Wooolworths and HomeShop.
Big W have stated that there is no price difference between it’s online store and it’s normal stores.
The website appears to be nice and simple to navigate. The frontpage does have a lot of pictures and banners trying to get your attention. I think this could have been cleaner in design.
There is a reviews and ratings for products. Customers like to read reviews and ratings from other customers. Just like testimonials can make customers feel satisfied that they are ordering a quality product.
The product images have a nice popup display. Other images of the product are displayed as thumbnails. This makes it really clear that other pictures of the product exist. I think this is very nice.
The estimated delivery charge is a great tool. By entering your postcode on the product page, you can see exactly how much you are going to be charged for delivery. There is nothing more annoying to a customer when they need to go through the checkout procedure to see the cost of delivery.
Tell a friend
The tell a friend tool has made an appearance as well. A nice lightbox appears with the opportunity to email the details of the product to a friend. Many online stores benefit having this tool.
You can check the stock levels of particular products as well. By entering in your post code, you can see the stock levels at many of the Big W stores. It also displays the distance to each store. If the store is low in stock, it displays the phone number so you can call that particular store. You could call the store and check for stock and maybe they could reserve the product for you.
Overview of features
The features of the website have been nicely done. You would expect that from a large department store but even they can get it wrong sometimes.
The lightboxes (popup windows) load very quickly. There’s nothing more annoying then these being broken.
The website still has a couple of formatting issues to resolve. Some of the text goes over the background in some places. I am sure they will will these up as the site continues to be improved.
It’s great to see a large department store go online. Overall, I think it will help push online sales in Australia and hopefully the other department stores will follow suit.
Even as a search engine optimisation and marketing consultant, I still get them. I listen to their pitch and then ask a couple of questions. They usually have no clue how to answer them so what kind of service will they be providing?
I have done a search on their business name and they didn’t even come up first. That is a very easy task and a pathetic attempt on their behalf.
We advise all our customers to be aware of anyone calling up trying to sell them Internet services. There are a lot of people out there to take your money and there’s not much you can do about it if they do not deliver.
These telemarketers are driven by commission and can become aggressive pressuring you to sign up with them. I recommend avoiding any business that you have never with dealt with before or if they sound like they are over promising on what they can do.
They claim that having a good ranking will increase visitors and increase sales. This is true. It’s how they get you there – if they get your there at all. I don’t believe they will ever get you there. If you get banned from Google, that’s the end of it!
Beware of any company that contacts you regarding search engine optimisation or marketing that you have not contacted first.
If you are ever unsure, contact your web developer or myself and I will tell you if it’s a good or bad.
Jetstar is leading the airline industry with innovative social media tactics with the recent announcement that it will direct 40% of its marketing budget to social media –
â€œWeâ€™ve conducted some very successful marketing and PR campaigns via social media in the past 18 months, including YouTube and Twitter, and the response has been phenomenal,â€ said David May, Jetstarâ€™s head of marketing.”
In comparison to social media, traditional marketing is increasing in cost but I believe the effectiveness is decreasing –
â€œSocial media offers more value for money and is a smarter way to reach our customers â€“ which is what Jetstar is all about.â€
Jetstar has previously has sales exclusively on Twitter with proved extremely successfuly –
â€œIn line with the increasing need to talk to smaller, interconnected communities; communities that when aggregated deliver large numbers of engaged and involved brand advocates, we are likely to shift a large percentage of Jetstar’s above the line media spend into digital areas, with an increased focus on social media,â€ said Richard Smith, managing director of Jetstarâ€™s media buying agency Maxus.
More information can be found at MarketingMag – Social media 40% of Jetstar’s marketing budget
What are you doing with social media to help your business?
There’s an interesting statistic e-commerce statistic that I have written about earlier. The average time for a customer to make a purchase is 30 hours. This means that most people do not buy a product or service on their first visit. It is usually after they have thought about it and they come back the next day to make their purchase.
What is Remarketing?
The remarketing tool allows advertisers to hit the user days later to try and get their booking or purchase.
Example of Remarketing in action
Imagine someone wants to go to a concert in Sydney. The user visits a particular hotel’s website in Sydney but does not make a booking. The next day, they go to the booking website for the concert which is part of the Google Content Network – they have Google display ads running. The ads that they see are for the hotel they visited the day before. This is remarketing through Google Adwords.
Using this new tool
This new tool is available in your Adwords account if you advertise with Google. More information about this tool can be found here – Now Available: Reach the right audience through remarketing.
If you sell the same products as other merchants, are your descriptions of your products unique or copied from the manufacturers website?
Did you copy your content?
If they are copied directly from the manufacturers website or from a competitor, you run the risk of being banned from Google or at least penalised with your search engine rankings.
Make your product descriptions unique
The benefit of having unique product descriptions may give your website a better ranking. Having your own product description that you wrote means you can make it more targetted for specific keywords giving you more control of your ranking.
Search engines love content that is unique. Customers like reading product descriptions that say more than what’s your competitor websites.
Make your product descriptions unique!
What to look for
Have you received an email that didn’t quite look right? If a bank sends you an email and asks for your login details, you know it’s a scam. The same for a social media website or online store website.
Bank phishing emails
You may receive emails from banks you are not with so it’s easy to tell that the email is a scam because you’re not with that bank. But what happens if you get an email from your bank. How do you know if it’s legitimate?
If you receive an email from your bank, be cautious, it’s highly likely to be a phishing email. Have a look at the link addresses in the emails. A real bank address would be – http://anz.com.au. A phishing website address may look like this – http://anz.com.au.vcsts.za/login
eBay phishing emails
I just received one that appears to be from eBay, that’s why I am writing this article right now. The subject is – eBay Member : You Received a Question From eBay Member fresh.tickets. It looks official. The body of the email looks exactly like an email you would get from eBay if someone really was asking a question about one of your auctions.
I don’t have any eBay auctions running right now so I knew straight away that it was a phishing email.
There are 9 links in the email. 8 of them go to real eBay pages. Even the link to the member’s profile is real.
The link to “repond” to the questions leads to the bad website. If I submitted my details on the bad website, this person might be able to access my PayPal account and other details on eBay.
The damage bill
It’s estimated that $3.2 billion dollars is lost every year in the US from phishing. Customers need to be smarter with their login details and do not provide it to anyone who simply asks to confirm their account.
If you do receive a phishing email, you can forward it to the real company so they know about it. I think this is more important for smaller stores so they can put out an announcement as soon as possible.
Are online stores affected?
Any online store can fall victim to a phishing attack. It usually happens to the larger companies such as Amazon but it can happen to any store. If your online store is attacked, you need to notify all your customers of the phishing attack. Describe what a phishing attack is and tell them to ignore any such emails that ask for their login details.
Customers and companies need to be aware of online crime and protect themselves from falling victim to such attacks. When your company may have been attacked, be pro-active about it and let your customers know as soon as possible.
If these cybercriminals keep getting away with it, they are going to keep doing it and the costs for doing online commerce will only increase.
It happened to the music industry and now it’s happening to more industries. The music industry ignored technology changes and suffered the consequences. If only if they were early adopters to selling online music, I believe more people would purchase their music online. They have had a hard time playing catch up including many court cases and legal battles.
The local video store under threat
Most video stores and chains have ignored the online world and will suffer a slow death in 2010 and beyond. IBIS World research predicts that the video rental industry will lose $20m in renenue in 2010.
The video rental industry has had a number of threats of late including NetFlix – an online video mail subscription service, DVD vending machines and new disc formats. A lot of people are legally and illegally downloading their movies today.
I’m just waiting for the day when Fox Studio and Warner Brothers successfully start selling their movies online for immediate download directly to customers instead of using distributors.
IBIS World research predicts the travel agency sector to fall by $46 million. Customers are now purchasing their travel services through discounted travel websites and directly with airlines and hotels skipping commissions.
Photo Processing Stores
Online photo services are increasing because customers can now upload their photos and receive their prints in the mail within a few days at a much lower price. IBIS World is predicting a 5.7% drop in revenue in 2010.
What does this mean for me?
Is your industry affected by these predictions?
Will your industry be affected in the near future?
What are you doing to take your services online?
There is no stopping the online train now. It’s been proven many times over that the early adopters are usually the most successful. If you do not shift with technology changes, it will shift without you!
Search engine optimisation (SEO) can be defined as optimising your website so search engines can rank your website in the natural search results, as high as possible for those targetted keywords.
But is all the effort in SEO really worth it?
Should you put all that time and effort into optimising your website so that when the search engine bots come through, that your page will rank higher?
Should you even think about paying an SEO professional to do it for you? What return on investment can you expect?
There’s noÂ guarantees
No one can guarantee number one position for your chosen keywords for the natural search results. You might get emails in everyday with promises but still no real guarantee.
The number one ranking website for any keyword has an average click through rate of 56%. So if 1,000 searches are done for that keyword each day, that’s 560 visitors each day on average.
Of these 560 visitors you get daily, 5% purchase a product – that’s 1 in 20 people. That’s a nice conversion rate and works out to be 112 new customers each day from that keyword. If the average purchase was $100, that’s $11,200 a day in revenue. That number 1 ranking is worth a lot of money.
Imagine if it was a popular keyword and it was being searched 100,000 times a day – 56,000 visitors a day and up to 11,200 new customers a day in an ideal scenario. That’s $1,120,000 a day. Now we’re starting to talk big business!!
Would your business benefit from this kind of traffic?
Any online business could benefit from this kind of traffic. On the Internet, targetted traffic is king. It earns money and it’s what some businesses survive on.
Competition is heavy in the search engines and the most profitable the keywords, that more likely there is going to be more competition.
SEO is definitely worth it and can take a company from being good to great! If your website is not search engine optimised, you are not helping the business at all.
If you have any questions about SEO, please contact me – firstname.lastname@example.org
A number of our customers have received letters about renewing their domain. The problem is that the customers have never dealth with this company previously.
The domain renewal scammers send out thousands of letters everyday to domain owners and they still get many people’s money. Often the domain name is not renewed after it’s being paid for.
If you receive a letter from a company that you are unsure about that is Internet related or you have received an invoice that you are just not sure about, contact your web developer, hosting company or even email me direct. They should be happy to answer any questions regarding any invoices or letters that could be a scam.
Companies that you need to be cautious of include –
- Domain Registry of America
- Domain Registry of Australia
- Internet Names Group
We recommend throwing all their letters into the bin because they are ‘domain slammers’ (scammers).
Don’t get caught in this scam – use your common sense.
Author : “Pen Kits & Pen Blanks – Timberbits.com“
Most people dream of handing the letter to the boss that says “I quit!”Â However the reality is very seldom realized.
Starting your own small business is very daunting and traditionally, doing so means mortgaging the family home or borrowing from family and friends.
Where to start.
Ebay has now the perfect vehicle to test and develop you business model and skills. With a few click and some loose change in your pocket, you can compete in a level playing field with the big boys in town.
Should your sales start to pick up and you get into the rhythm of selling on ebay, you will very quickly notice the advantages and disadvantages of eBay.
Pro’s and Con’s
The main disadvantages of eBay isÂ mainly
1. the enormous fees thatÂ it charges, and
2. the price wars and race to the bottom which quickly erodes profits.
The next level.
Once you have developed a customer base, it’s time to start to lead them to an environment that you control. Lead them to a place where the big corporation can’t dictates how much their share is (before your even earn a cent),Â away fromÂ the “hand of god” that can delete all your listing because of a complaint of a righteous customer, away from a place which shares all your business statistics with your competitors.
By leading your customers to your own web site, you take back control and you also save a lot of money in the process.
Your website is your shop – give it some street appeal
Have you ever visited a web site that looked like it was done by a 8 year old or a newbie to web design? You wouldn’t get a dodge carpenter or a friend of a friend to fitout your retail premises – we all know this is the case we walk into some shops, why do the same with your web site?
With the invent of the web – small business can compete with the big boys in town. Spend a bit of money up front and get a professional to do the job. To fit out a retail shop professionally expect to pay over $250,000. A professional website is less than $1,000.
I always get complimented for how professionalÂ Pen Kits & Pen Blanks – Timberbits.comÂ looks. It costÂ me less than a $700 to get started – that’s less thanÂ 1 monthsÂ of eBays fees. Now my website’s volume hasÂ grown to more than 5 timesÂ whatÂ I sell on eBay. I now saveÂ thousands of dollars a month just on eBay fees, not to mention the time and frustration on eBay.
MyÂ word of advice is as soon as you start selling more than 20Â transactions aÂ month on eBay,Â start to invest in a website. When you do build a website,Â don’t go cheap – we all know what those websites look like, pay a professional because youÂ get what you pay for.
Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising means that you only pay when someone clicks on your advertisement. You do not pay each time your ad is displayed. PPC advertising can be an effective form of advertising because you are paying based on the performance of the ad. If no one clicks on your ad, then you do not pay.
The idea was formed in 1998 by GoTo, a search engine portal. PPC has now become one of the main forms of advertising online. This has created some very competitive marketplaces and can be expensive. Some marketplaces are very inexpensive and can be very profitable.
The Benefits of Pay-Per-Click
There are many reasons and benefits for using PPC advertising. Here are some of the benefits –
- Get instant traffic to your website
- Create test campaigns
- No waiting to be listed in the organic search listing
- Allows (smart) small players to compete against the big guys
- Spending controlled on a daily, weekly or monthly basis
- Anyone can setup a PPC advertising campaign in Google, Yahoo or Bing.
- Continually test landing pages, ads, keywords before putting more resources into the campaign
The Cost of Pay-Per-Click Advertising
The great thing about PPC is you control what you spend. For popular keywords, the budget can be limitless. Industries such as insurance and car rentals can be very expensive and push the smaller players out.
Some keywords can be very profitable resulting in high conversion rates. Having a great ad, the right keywords and sending the visitor to the correct page can make all the difference for a successful campaign.
I have personally seen websites that were previously getting very little traffic and poor sales results – to becoming an overnight success because the world did not know they existed. Once the right traffic was sent to the site, the website started producing great profits and operations expanded.
Pay-Per-Click campaigns allow you to continually do testing. You can run a PPC campaign for one day or even an hour and see how people respond to the ad that you have created, the landing page that you are sending the traffic to and track the keywords that you are targeting.
You can do split testing where you run two ads in rotation and see which one runs best. You cannot do that with normal print media.
Tracking Results = Return on Investment
Through the use of Google Analytics and similar programs, you can track all online transactions. You can see the following information –
- The exact keywords that the visitors enter to find your ad
- The pages they view when they visit your site
- The cost of the ad
- The conversion rates resulting in working out the ROI
Why Pay-Per-Click is Important
If you are not advertising your services to your potential customers, your competition will and they will get your new customers. Can you afford to lose customers?
Your Search Engine Optimization (SEO) efforts will be wasted if you target the wrong keywords. PPC allows you to fast track your SEO by testing the keywords before you even attempt to optimize your site for those keywords.
Warning – You Can Lose Money
Google and Yahoo are targeting small businesses to start advertising online by offering free credit. Please be educated before you setup your own campaigns. If you do not know what you are doing, you will lose money. I have seen business with one keyword in their keyword list, poorly written ads and sending visitors to the wrong page. I have even seen ads sending visitors to broken pages!
Professional Pay-Per-Click Consultants
If you do not know what you are doing, I recommend using a professional service. They will charge for their service but in the long run, it can save you thousands of dollars and a lot of time.
A professional Pay-Per-Click consultant will –
- Research for the best keywords
- Enter negative keywords
- Create professional copy for your ad
- Pre-qualify visitors so you are only getting buyers to your website
- Point visitors to the correct pages on your website
- Setup multiple campaigns
- Optimize your ads to have a strong rating
- Continually test keywords, ads and the land pages
- Control the spending of your campaign
- Analysis the existing competition
- Generate reports based on the performance of your campaigns
- Answer any questions you may have
Pay-Per-Click advertising can be used in many ways to help your website get more sales and become more profitable.
I will be writing more articles to explain the different ways you can advertise your site online and setting up your own campaigns. If you have any questions, please email email@example.com
You’ve setup your online store and your selling lot’s of products. But are your product descriptions up-to-date? Are they accurate? Are the products exactly as they described in the product description on your website? What about the warranty and refund information?
Word-of-mouth can be one of your most effective mediums for spreading the word about of your services. The problem is that if a customer has a bad experience, the bad news is going to spread even faster ( 10 times faster!) and you’ll have to work hard to repair the damage.
Deals Direct Example
The online department store – Deals Direct, are in trouble with the ACCC this week. The ACCC has received a large number of complaints about bogus savings claims, and inaccurate or misleading product descriptions on their website. They promised to clean their act up but is the damage already done?
This got me thinking about our customers and other online stores. Too often I see online store managers who copy and paste information about the products they sell from other online sources. But is the product information correct, up-to-date and accurate?
The same rules apply
Online retailers often forget that the same rules apply to them as do the brick and mortar retailers. Online retailers need to check their refund and warranty policies for the products that they offer and stand by them when required.
The costs of complying with the required law is offset by the reduced risk of the ACCC taking action against you and help with the goodwill you will give your customers.
Spending a few minutes ensuring that your product descriptions including warranty and refund policies are correct will ensure a good relationship with your customers. Customers will know where they stand if there is a problem and the relationship can continue on with problem resolution is clearly documented.
The holiday season is soon approaching but what are online retailers going to be pushing so they sell the most through their online stores?
Would you like to know what consumers are looking at purchasing during this holiday spending season? Well we’ve received research sourced from Google/OTX Consumer Intentions for Holiday 2009. This is very interesting data because it shows you the type of people that are now doing online shopping by the category popularity.
Plan to Purchase by Category Analysis
It is surprising to see clothing and fashion having such a high purchase intention. For many years, online retailers and shoppers complained that clothing and fashion would not sell very well on the Internet. This results shows that customers are now ready and comfortable purchasing clothes online without feeling or trying on the clothes.
This proves that online shopping has moved passed the early adopters stage and into a more mature marketplace as everyday people are now making many purchases online.
Entertainment items have always been popular with online shoppers because the logistics of delivering the items is relatively easy. Retailers can easily email items such as tickets or mail DVDs without many problems. The return rate I imagine would be very low which equates to cheaper and more competitive prices compared to brick and mortar retailers.
I think buying toys online has been popularised through eBay which has had quite a success in selling toys through their online auctions and eBay sellers’ online stores.
Technology Categories Analysis
Video games are popular again these holidays especially with the rise of the Nintendo’s Wii Game Console, XBox and Playstations.
Digital cameras are now much more affordable and incredible specs these days. The internet used to be a great tool to compare digital cameras but it is interesting to note that people are now looking at making their digital camera purchases online.
Amazon has now launched their ebook reader on a world wide basis plus they now have added competition from Sony and other product manufacturers. I think they were anticipating that ebook readers would be a hot item this Christmas but it appears to be off the radar for these consumers.
What is your online store going to do?
Is your online store ready for the Christmas Holidays? Please tell us in the comments below what you have done to prepare your online store for the upcoming holidays.
Did you know that you can submit your products to Google and put into their search index? Google will accept your product submissions and add it to their search index.
You can do this automatically using a Google Data Feed through your shopping cart software. Whenever you add, delete or modify any products in your shopping cart, they are updated in Google automatically. Ask you shopping cart software provider how to set this up if you are unsure.
Introducing Google’s Merchant Center
Google has now made it even easier to manage what products you have in their index by using the Merchant Center. You can also check the status of all the products that are in the index as well. You will need a Google account to use this service but it is free to sign up.
Visit the Google Merchant Center to get started today.
We have seen different shopping carts and eBay listings but what is one of the most important things you’ve noticed about the products and listings? There is the layout of the site, the functionality and then there is the quality of the product images.
Do your product images look professional? Do they say ‘buy me’ to the viewer?
The Benefits of Great Product Images
Having high quality product images for you shopping cart and website can make or break the success of it. Too often I see websites with poor to average photos of products. The business has done a lot of work to the website in getting it ready and spending money to drive customers to the website, then they display poor photos of their products.
Have a look at the flyers that come in your mail box from Woolworths, Coles and other retailers. All the product images are perfect. They want you to buy their products so they have the best product images. You too can have great product photos by spending a few dollars or buying the equipment and doing it properly yourself.
If you want to do this yourself because you have a large number of images, a bit of time and a turnover of products, you can invest in some photography tents by searching through eBay. Most digital cameras today can take high quality photos if you know how to. There are a lot of resources on the Internet to show you how.
If you have a limited number of products that you will have on your website, it may be better to use a third party photography studio. You can send them your products, they’ll take the photos, optimise them, send you quality images and send your products back.
With your new high quality product images, you will be selling more products immediately.