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Is your sites speed really as slow as you think?

Another hot topic I have been getting questioned about lately has to do with site speed. According to Radware.com, load times for the top US retail websites are approximately 22% slower than in December 2011. The average in 2011 was around 5.94 seconds will currently it 7.25 seconds. This was of course for a first time visitor. The main reason for these times getting worse and not better is simple. Websites are getting more and more complex and have an ever increasing number of resource requests. It is simple, the more images, scripts and codes used to make a site function in a certain way the more time it takes to do. This isn’t the only thing that can affect speed either. It turns out in a recent study on Radware.com that the browser you use also plays a role. Of the big three Firefox is over half a second faster on average than Internet Explorer 9 with Chrome23 smack dab in the middle. Another thing that affects site speed is simply activity on the site itself by many users or if a site is on a shared server spikes in activity on other sites on that server can bog down your site. So the next time it takes more than a few seconds for a site to load keep in mind that there is a lot more potentially going on than the site just being “Slow”. If you have any questions on how to improve your sites speed and performance please give us a call. 800-699-0820

Common Mistakes in Ecommerce

I talk a lot about things to do to improve your e-commerce business. Here are some things that some “e-tailers” do wrong.

1.) Relying on limited sources of Traffic.
I have said in the past that traffic is the key to Ecommerce success. Often time’s business owners get into a comfort zone once the get a little success and are reluctant to move out from that. With the way that Google constantly revises their algorithms that comfort zone will move right out from under you. Owners need to constantly seek out new sources to drive traffic to their sites. Traffic needs to come from and be balanced from several sources. Pay-per-click, social media, partner sites, blog, forums, email campaigns, actual foot traffic are all things that you should participate in. Rely too heavily on any one source and you may find yourself hurting down the road.
2.) Focusing on limited or current products.
We have seen this specifically in the firearm industry. So many companies only knew how to sell guns and ammo. Often it wasn’t a matter or “knowing” how to sell them at all it was simply that there were that many people buying them that even a poorly run ecommerce site could move these products. Well when the supplies of guns and ammo dried up many merchants were standing there with no new sales because they couldn’t get their hands on the 2 products that did so well for them. Their numbers dropped and many had to call it quits. The savvy owners were more prepared and quickly started promoting different items & categories in new and exciting ways. They constantly promoted a new batch of products to consumers.
3.) Letting your website sit unchanged.
I see this over and over again. Merchants set up an on-line store and then forget about it. Take a look at the larger companies out there…….take Wal-Mart or Cabalas’ for example. Every single day companies like these have something new on their site. This is simple to draw people in on a daily basis to promote new products. Consumers have become accustomed to going to websites to find new products, information etc on a regular basis. If you let your site sit unchanged it is obviously boring but more importantly you aren’t giving potential customers a reason to return. It doesn’t take much to keep it interesting it just has to be done.
4.) Not paying attention to site performance.
This is simple. If you aren’t looking at your sites analytics and understanding them there is a good chance you are wasting a bunch of time and money. It would be like slapping a scope on a rifle and never taking it to the range to ensure it is performing properly but expecting it to hit the bull’s-eye. E-commerce sites are no different. You need to know what is going on or you can never improve on your current course of action.
5.) Ignoring customer input.
We all have ideas about the types of things we think sell best or how we want to make our sites look. I propose you survey your customer base and ask them what they want to see. Reward their feed back with a small discount code. Don’t just listen to a handful of clients but rather get the biggest sampling you can. The more people you have data from the better.
6.) Live by promotions and you will die by promotions.
Short term at calculated times super discount promotions are fine. Over the long haul though the most important things are going to be good content, new and amazing products and above all else the best customer service in your industry.
7.) Not getting on board with Mobile Commerce.
Consumers in record numbers are shopping online with smart phones and tablets. This is simply put the future of e-commerce and anyone who doesn’t embrace this technology will be left in the dust. Another point is that mobile technology is how an overwhelming number of consumers are finding your brick and mortar location. So be sure your site is mobile friendly.
8.) Not paying attention to your competition.
You must watch your competition. You can learn a great deal from them to see how they are optimizing there sites, what they are selling, what they have on clearance (because it didn’t sell) and how they are ranking. If you come up in Google on a search page and there are other businesses above you they are doing a better job promoting their website. Take some cues from them and see what you can do to improve on your sites performance.

Obviously there are other pit-falls in the world of business and e-commerce but these are few things for sure to pay attention to. Again if you wish to learn more about these topics I encourage you to call us and talk to our team. 1-800-699-0820 ext 1

More on Search Engine Optimization

In several of my previous blog posts I have preached that the key to e-commerce success is deeply rooted in the volume of traffic your site sees every day. This Blog and the next few will start to drill into that a little further. I know some of these things have been talked about on many other blog sites including our own. I believe though we can’t talk about it enough as it IS what makes or breaks your sites performance.
This is basic information as the details will only overwhelm most at first glance. On site search engine optimization or SEO for short is simple in concept. Now putting it into practical use requires some practice and is a bit of a scientific art if you will. So for this blog we will stick to the concept.
Google and other search engines crawl the web using logarithms so complicated that I am not even sure they have it right all the time. None the less the things that Google populates a search page with when searching for specific goods and services has everything to do with the uniqueness and optimization of that particular website. Google doesn’t look at one thing it looks at a combination of conditions to exist before it starts ranking you higher in the searches. When someone says a site has been fully optimized that means each and every page has been optimized through its use of desired keywords and those items being present in proper context in meta tags, H tags and uniquely written content and descriptions.
Sounds simple enough right? Fundamentally it is. There are things to consider though. When I say uniquely written content or descriptions that means unique! Original! If you copy or even use authorized content the same as other sites who had it up first the great Google will know. Google looks at this duplicate content as bad and will push you further down the rankings. The use of keywords is delicate too. Too few and you’re not getting enough exposure. To many and your stuffing or overusing keywords and Google may penalize you for that. There is a happy medium that must happen to be optimized.
Well known established e-commerce companies spend a ridiculous amount of time and resources optimizing their sites. One of our companies we work with, www.Jazzmotorsports.com , has allowed us to get into their site and do this on every page. Now this doesn’t happen all at once. This has taken place over years. It is a process not an event. If you look at one of our average site that has 35,000 product pages and two dozen info and category pages it takes quite a bit of time to get through a site. The truth is it never really stops. There will always be more products and there will always be tweaks made to currently optimized pages.
As your site “develops” and grows with ever increasing content and optimization Google will continue to reward you in the rankings. Then it is simple, the higher you rank the more likely you get the clicks or traffic you need that I mentioned earlier.
The mistakes owners make is thinking just because you did a couple pages that instantly their traffic will jump through the roof. It just doesn’t work that way. Again these things take time and will not happen overnight. Another client Bushwhacker Firearms is in the beginning phases of this. We have begun to optimize product pages for some of their in house products that they exclusively manufacture. That in itself lends itself well to uniqueness.
As always if you wish to learn more about SEO and other marketing services that we offer please give us a call. 1-800-699-0820 ext. 1

Merchandizing your websites products & categories

Have you ever walked into a big box retailer such as Kohl’s, Bass Pro Shop, Sears, Autozone etc? What is the first thing you notice? Key products conspicuously displayed to catch your eye. Maybe it is close-out items the store wishes to liquidate or perhaps it is the newest seasonal garb or even high volume items. These stores all do this for the simple fact that it helps move those products. The same is true with your website. How, what and when you display items on your home page and subsequent pages will greatly impact your sites conversion rates. If you make no effort to set things up to catch the eye of your target audience you will lose visitors. You should be considering your categories. Arrange them so they make sense to your target customers. Put yourself in their shoes and ask yourself how you would like to search for items. Make it as simple and intuitive as possible. The same goes for arranging and showcasing Featured or Special products on your home page. I am a strong believer that you should only show off products that are readily available or actually in stock. If a customer starts clicking on 3 or 4 products in your “Specials” section only to find that they are all out of stock you will lose them quickly. So assuming your showcased products and categories are inline and in stock take the time to optimize each category page and each of your actual product pages. Another thing to help merchandize is to create graphically enticing banners for say specific brands to catch people’s eyes. Link that banner to those products pages. Do not simply put a picture on your site and have it not go anywhere. Add to the art work “click here or buy know”. Make it abundantly clear to the consumer what they are supposed to do and what will happen when they click. So that’s the basics of merchandizing now get busy or give us a call to help. 1-800-699-0820 ext 1.

Did you know?

Generally speaking Outdoor Business Network focuses primarily on businesses associated with the outdoor sporting industry. Did you know though that OBN can and has worked in many other industries? All of our capabilities and skills can be easily adapted to fit the needs and wants of just about any web, programming or marketing environment. OBN is always interested in seeking out new challenges in the world of e-commerce and digital marketing/media. We welcome any and all business that wish to expand and grow their businesses to new heights. For a free consultation on what OBN can do for you please call our sales department at 1-800-699-0820 ext 1

Have you called us lately?

The team at OBN has made a concerted effort to contact each of our clients. Much like ourselves we find our customers are busy running the day to day tasks. The reason for these courtesy calls is just that. Our first goal is to be sure you have all of your questions answered and possible assist you with any tasks that you have been meaning to get to. The second and possibly larger reason for us calling on you all is that we very much want to be sure that you are all aware of our marketing capabilities. From a simple logo design to a full on branded marketing campaign for your brick and mortar and e-commerce site we have you covered. If you have read any of my past Blogs you will know that OBN believes in the power of marketing. We can custom tailor your marketing solution to meet your budget. The process is really quite painless and the rewards that can be reaped are well worth the effort. While we will continue to reach out to all of you I urge you to get in touch with us too. There is no task to small to help you with and the knowledge that we have to share with you can literally be the difference in making or breaking your business. As always call us at: 1-800-699-
-0820.

More Marketing Thoughts

It seems that I cannot write enough about marketing for your e-commerce store or even your simple store info page. This past month I have been asked again by several clients….”How do I market my site so I can increase traffic and ultimately get more sales?” For me it is a tried and true formula based on years of experience. I know what works and I know what doesn’t. With that said I outline the things the customer can do on their own and I also outline the paid options available to them. I usually spend more time than I should on this as most people simply have not planned for this part of their business and my comments fall on deaf ears. More often than not the client says “I don’t have time to do it myself and I don’t, won’t or can’t spend money on marketing….there must be another way………” I tell them there isn’t. Even smaller companies (1 to 3 mil/year) spend easily in the 6 figure range every year on their marketing efforts and put in a ton of time doing so too. I tell the clients who don’t believe this very simple that they will fail. I ask them why did you ask me for my help? Why did you not like my response especially given the fact that I am the expert in this industry? I always say if there is another way that was more cost effective then I would advise you of that. The bottom line is this. If you come to OBN looking for answers we absolutely have them but please don’t argue with me that there must be something else that can be done because there isn’t. Time and/or money is the only way to get it done. Look at a company like Ford Motor Company. They spend millions if not billions marketing their product/company which has HUGE brand recognition. Now don’t you think if there was a way to do this “marketing” for free that they would have figured it out by now? Even if you don’t sell online digital marketing and media is absolutely here to stay and the business who truly embrace this concept will thrive and survive. The companies who don’t will slip into the darkness. The way we did business 20 years ago is completely different than what we see successful businesses do today. So if you take a lesson from all of this please do something to market and promote your business and talking with the experts like OBN is an excellent place to start.

OBN Branding Services

Outdoor Business Network offers professional branding services that can set your company apart from the competition. We can create an identity for your business that displays your core values while increasing your brand recognition and confirms your credibility in the industry. With sales in the industry rapidly increasing, let OBN create a visual branding package for your company that delivers your message clearly, increases brand loyalty, and motivates the buyer to choose your goods and services. Strong branding is a must as the struggle to win customers grows daily, and OBN can provide you with the modern identity your business needs to win the loyalty of purchasers, both online, and in your brick and mortar store.

Complacency, Work and other dirty words.

I am often asked by clients and acquaintances “Why isn’t my site performing as desired?” Now besides the obvious you aren’t getting traffic or conversions it really comes down to this one simple thing. WORK! That’s right folks it takes work and the time to do to make a site perform. Occasionally a customer will complain and tell me they don’t get why their site is lagging after all the work they put in. I usually follow with the question what did you do exactly? They go on about flyer this and I passed out cards at the local gun show or I sent out 1 email to their buddies……none of which were my initial advice. My previous blogs touch on the things I commonly preach about. This usually leads to the tough love kind of speech. I log into their site and I review the analytics, I note how many times they have even logged in and I certainly see if they have done anything since the original site was built for them. I also have a number of other tools in place to see what kind of links they are generating and I even check and see if they are copying content from other sites. Then I point out the error in their ways and again tell them what they should be doing to be a rock star. The common response is that sounds like work! Well yes it is work. The sad part is this “work” can be done while having your butt parked in a lazy-boy in front of your TV while in your PJ’s. So I would not label as work per say but more making better use of your time.

Take the time to put some new pictures or graphics or announcements on your home page. Big players in the e-commerce game do this on a daily basis. Work on those product descriptions. Make them sharper and stand out by adding images and providing uniquely written content. Think like the sales person you are and make your products attractive to your customers. Take the time and make your presence known on social media outlets and on various forums. If you do these things on a daily basis and you will have a significant impact on your sites performance over time. Give people a reason to come back to your site. Make them want to. You want them to ultimately check your site like they check their email or Facebook page. If you become complacent and NEVER change anything then people will become bored with your site and will not think to return to it. You have to make your site look lived in. If it is all crickets and cobwebs people will not return. Take the Google Doodle for instance. Do you think Google is doing this because it is fun. The answer is no. They are just giving folks one more reason to return and use their search engine.

In summary spend time better and do what needs to be done to make you a success. The faster you do this the faster you can hire some people to handle these things for you. If you sit back and do nothing then you should expect nothing in return. Once again I remind you that Outdoor Business Network is here to consult and hire for all of your marketing and optimization needs. 1-800-699-0820 sales ext 1.

Product Descriptions Tips

Many of you are selling products that have description and images provided in a digital feed. This is an outstanding way for you to get a ton of product available for purchase online in a hurry. The down side is you are not the only one out on the web doing this. I advise all of my customers to start off with a couple of their hot sellers or perhaps a few products that can be sold at a high margin and modify the product description pages. The key here is making this product unique. Write a solid description; perhaps include some of your own images or video of the product in action. The more info you can provide the better the chance you have of keeping your customer on your page as opposed to them bouncing to another site to find out the info they want.  It is important to write your own description….DO NOT COPY one from someone else’s website. Google will see this as duplicate content and it may actually hurt you in the search rankings. Take the time to think like your customer and try to anticipate questions they may ask and include this info in your description. If a customer can see lots of pictures or a video, have all the facts and figures and the price is attractive they are much more likely to stay put and make that purchase happen.

A common response I get from customers is this….”I don’t have the time to do this”. Well once you get proficient at it you should be able to knock out 3-4 of these in an hour or so. So let’s say you average 4 product pages a day for a year straight. That would give you 1460 UNIQUE product pages on your site. This will greatly improve your sites rankings. Oh and as far as the “I don’t have the time to do this” comment is concerned….What I actual hear the customer saying to me is this “I won’t spend 4% of my day working on my business to make it better and therefore make me more money”. Yes 4% is what an hour a day works out to. I am sure many if not all of us could squeeze that time in. Remember this is a web business. You can in all reality do this from your couch while watching the television. So even if every second of your day is allocated make it a point to optimize 1 page per day. This alone over the course of a couple years will have a profound effect on your sites performance. If you still don’t have the time then for Pete’s sake call Outdoor Business Network and let us make this part of your marketing strategy and hire us to do it for you. As always the number is 1-800-699-0820 ext. 1