E-commerce Basics

Respect Your Readers

People do read online. In fact, you’re doing it right now. Many past surveys have claimed that people don’t read content online, but they do, and web content writers, designers, and developers have no excuse for furnishing pages with meaningless blather. Creating evocative text takes longer than most deadline-consumed writers are willing to spend and costs more than most business owners are willing to pay.

The 2007 Poynter Institute’s Eyetrack study found that nearly two-thirds of online readers read all the text of a particular story once they begin to read it. About half of online readers are methodical. That means they start at the beginning of a story and read word-for-word through the end. The other online readers are scanners. The study also revealed that online readers were drawn to navigation bars and teasers, while print readers preferred large photos and headlines.

Word Cloud

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You Better Not Cry, Cyber Monday Is Coming to Town

Most holiday-crazed shoppers are familiar with the term “Black Friday.” But for those out-of-the-loop consumers, it’s the first Friday after Thanksgiving, and it marks the official kickoff of the holiday shopping season. Not as many people, however, are familiar with the altogether newer term “Cyber Monday.” While Black Friday demarcates the beginning of shopping in brick and mortar stores, Cyber Monday – the Monday following Black Friday – is an indication of when online shopping picks up for the season.

And whether you’re a shopper or the founder of an online business, here’s what to expect from Cyber Monday:
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Design Matters

Being what I consider an industry veteran (I’ve been building and marketing websites since 1998), there’s always been one constant that separates the successful sites from those that fail: good design. It’s not the only rule to abide by, but it has very few exceptions. With the plethora of content management systems and website templates out there, it still baffles me that site owners don’t take advantage of these resources and still expect their sub-par design to have a chance against competition. I don’t claim to be the expert on this topic, but I certainly can spot a website where the owner has taken the time to consider form, function and presentation versus one that has enlisted cousin Jim, who’s a “webmaster,” to put together a company’s internet presence. Sure, saving a few bucks on a designer seems like a good idea, until you realize that the only traffic you receive is from a link in the design hall of shame (see this digg and this website). No where is this commandment of good design necessary than in e-commerce. When your site’s main purpose is to convert visitors into sales, a good design can be the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, and a poor one can stifle even the best marketing. Let’s look at some components of good and bad web design in the e-commerce industry:
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Google Ranking Insights

Ranking Fortune CookieInternet marketing wouldn’t be what it is today without Google. Higher visibility in such a popular tool has long been sought after by every online business as a vital component to success. With that desire to rank higher, the ins and outs of how ranking is determined proves to be an interesting debate. There are certainly standards that everyone, including Google themselves, will agree on, but beyond the official posted guidelines, the search engine leader has been pretty quiet.

To bring a little more transparency to their ranking philosophy and technology, Google has put together a series of posts on the Official Google Blog discussing different aspects of this mysterious algorithm and the reasoning behind it. Let’s take a look at some of the key points:
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Creating External Links for Exposure and Credibility

LinkWhen it comes to gaining search engine exposure, the amount and value of the incoming links to your website is a determining factor when you’re measured against your competitors. We all know that search engines use this statistic as part of their ranking algorithm, most notably so with Google and its infamous PageRank Technology, which measures the importance of your web page based largely on certain linking criteria. But often ignored is the second benefit of these external links, company credibility. It’s obvious both exposure and credibility are important to the success of an online business, so let’s explore some of the why, where and how to create these external links.
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Recommended: Google Advertising Services

Website owners have a variety of programs that they can take advantage of to increase their online revenue and drive additional traffic to their site. The most popular of these is through Google, utilizing their two basic advertising services Google AdSense and Google AdWords. Both of these provide excellent opportunities to take advantage of Google’s huge advertising network for positive online results.

Google AdSenseGoogle AdSense: In terms of simplicity, integration and control, no online advertising program rivals Google’s AdSense program. Essentially, Google AdSense provides website owners with the ability to place relevant ads on their sites and earn revenue when the visitors to their site click on one of the ads. Google AdSense is free for website owners upon approval from Google and is easy to setup and customize.
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Small Business: 6 Online Myths Revealed

The e-commerce industry is filled with different ideas on what’s the best approach for a small business owner. Having spoken with many small business owners, I know there’s some common myths that seem to resonate with website owners more than others. No matter who, where, or how far along in the process they are, an industry like this can spread some serious rumors and propagate some strange ideas. SmallBusinessNewz has been profiling some of these most common myths in two-part video series based on findings from Homestead.com’s CEO & Founder Justin Kitch. The second part in the series, featured below, covers common myths on marketing strategy that really speaks volumes. From my experience, these are definitely some popular misconceptions when it comes to running an online business.
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New Study: Social Media Important In Buying Decision

Online BuyingMost businesses are just starting to figure out how to get their feet wet with social media. From managing an attractive, trustworthy identity in social networking sites to getting their product and company information posted in social bookmarking sites, this part of a marketing campaign usually takes a back seat to what businesses consider the more immediate concerns, statistics like traffic, sales and conversions. But a new study shows that consumers are using social media more than ever to do research on a company and their reputation before buying, and businesses better start listening, responding and improving if they want to compete in a Web 2.0 marketplace.
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What Your Customers Want

Online ShoppingGetting inside the head of an e-commerce shopper can be a daunting task. There are many variables when it comes to the question of conversions; including product cost, professionalism of your website, shipping factors, payment options and much more. With the rise of e-commerce comes increased competition. Don’t think that your customers won’t search out your exact same product on your competitors site to find the lowest cost. With seemingly endless availability, how can you ensure your business gets the attention and the customers it needs to survive?
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