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Does your website work on Mobile?

Does your website work on Mobile?

If the above picture looks like your website, you need to read this! If your website does not work on mobile, it does not work!

  • 56% of all consumer internet traffic is now from mobile devices
  • Mobile traffic is growing at a rate of 53% each year
  • E-commerce sales will reach 500 Billion by year 2018
  • Mobile retail sales have increased 25% year over year
  • 81% of top search engine results are mobile friendly
  • 48% of consumers start their buying process at a search engine
  • 33% of consumers start their buying process at a branded website
  • 72% of consumers want mobile friendly websites
  • 62% of millennials feel that online content drives their loyalty to a brand

The statistics don’t lie. If you are a retail or manufacturing B2C business in 2017 and you do not have a mobile friendly website, you are losing. In order to win the the smart-phone era your retail website must be mobile friendly, if not mobile targeted. The fact is your customers are now finding and judging your business more than ever based on your internet presence. If you have an old and outdated or non mobile friendly website almost 3/4 of your potential business is being lost to a competitor who has a better web presence.

Now lets talk about your brand. It is proven that your brand strength now impacts your search results and your customers engagement and loyalty to your business. If you are using a shared ecommerce platform or a 3rd party selling platform, you are not building your brand, you are paying to build someone else’s, possibly your competitor in the future. If your website does not strongly represent your brand and engage users with it, you are once again, statistically losing money.

The cold hard fact is, you are losing $$$ and negatively impacting your brand by not being mobile friendly. You get what you pay for.

This day in age, up to 50% of your business can be driven by your internet presence. If you are not investing in ecommerce and branding at the same or greater level than you are in your retail brick and mortar, you are making a mistake. Would your brick and mortar store have a good retail presence if you spent only 100 bucks a month on rent? The answer is no, unless you are renting space in Siberia where no customers will ever find you anyway. Think long and hard about where you want your business to be in the next 3-5 years and how your brand and technology will impact your business, then ask yourself what area of your business you should invest in?

Need to find out if your website is mobile friendly or not? Google has a tool for it here: https://search.google.com/search-console/mobile-friendly

Here is an example of a website by another company that is not mobile friendly:

Look familiar? Contact XLEcommerce. We are here to help you!

For comparison here is an example of an XLEcommerce mobile friendly website in Google’s mobile friendly test:

Statistics from:

www.smartinsights.com

www.internetretailer.com

searchengineland.com

searchenginewatch.com

Buying a Website is Like Buying a Car and Going Racing

Buying a Website is Like Buying a Car and Going Racing

Buying a Website is Like Buying a Car and Going Racing, well, kind of….

Many customers we speak with are looking to work with a website provider of some sort, but they really don’t know what they need. This is where the car analogy comes in. Think of your website researching and planning process like shopping for a car.

Lets say, rather than running a business, you run an auto racing team. When you first form that team, you need to select a car to race with. Sounds easy right? There is more to it. There are multiple types and levels of car racing. First we need to choose something to compete in that fits our goals and budget.

The high-school kid just starting out may take his Ford Focus, slap a wing on the back himself and roll on down to the local drag strip on Friday nights.

On the opposite end of the spectrum is your Formula One (F1) race team. This team of hardened racing professionals will select a custom built one-off race car made of carbon fiber and unobtanium. It is incredibly expensive not only to buy the car, but the cost to maintain your car and team, hire top drivers, and compete at the top world level is astronomical.

In between these two levels is a whole range of car types and racing leagues which fit almost any level of competition and budget.

In the world of e-commerce, think of the guy with no business plan starting out of his garage as the Friday Night Ford Focus. Amazon.com is the Formula One Racing Team.

Friday Night Ford Focus went online and slapped a few products on his facebook page, bought a 1.99 godaddy page, and is throwing a few bucks against the wall hoping for fame and glory. We hope it works out, and you have to start somewhere. In the world of race cars, he doesn’t stand a chance though.

The Formula One Racing team is bleeding money out of its ears. They are spending millions of dollars. They are looking for every conceivable edge. They are hiring the best and the brightest in their industry to come work for them at top pay levels. They have purchased the best available technology and continually modify it for better performance. They will probably make it onto ESPN and go down in the record books.

If you are reading this, you likely fall somewhere in between these two extremes. You either have a solid business already which you are looking to expand, or you have a business/marketing plan you spent some time putting together and you are ready to implement it. Now you just need the right ecommerce “engine” that will allow you to compete at your level and budget, so you can someday move up on the ladder. You are researching and learning as much as you can, but you still don’t know exactly what to do, and that is OK.

Everyone wants a race car. Everyone wants to be the next Amazon.com, Ebay, Best Buy, or Cabelas. They want flashy features. They want custom lightweight parts and powerful engines. But most, when presented with the price to build a custom race car, along with the accompanying costs of a pit crew, professional driver, fresh sets of tires, racing fuel, and semi truck to haul it all around in, balk at the cost. Not to mention the marketing team required to get the fans to cheer for you and make your sponsors happy. If you are getting squeamish and gripping your wallet tighter after reading this, you may have to rethink your plan of attack.

You don’t have to race at the highest level to be a winner. There is plenty of lower level cherry picking to be had for an enterprising ecommerce entrepreneur or race car driver. You can have lots of fun and great competition driving a Spec Miata race car around the track, at a price a normal human being can afford. Maybe you will win some prize money and then can afford to jump into the Corvette class, or Baha offroad trucks, or whatever.

The key to success in your “racing” is to select the vehicle you can afford to purchase or build, something you can maintain yourself or afford to pay someone to maintain, and something you can drive yourself or afford to pay someone to drive for you. If you blow your wad on the car and forget about the oil changes and tires, you aren’t going to perform very well on Sunday. You will probably go home a loser. However, if you plan properly, select the right vehicle, budget for the whole year, and spend time tuning and practicing, its more than likely you will finish at the top of the pack and just might win a championship. As they say, winning on Sunday, means selling on Monday.

Ecommerce Website…How Much?

Ecommerce Website…How Much?

Ecommerce Website…How much Should I Spend?

A loaded question with a variable answer: it depends.

We receive many calls and emails from owners of businesses large and small asking: “How much should I invest in my ecommerce website?” Our usual answer to this question is with another question: “That depends, what is your budget?”

Sometimes the non-tech savvy buyer thinks our sales engineer is just trying to get a number they can work over the customer for, that is not the case at all.  It really does depend on many variables. Our team is here to help your business.

For the most part, we look at your solution in terms ROI (Return on Investment) by meeting business goals instead of price. Of course one of those business goals is usually to make money. Many businesses have other measurable business goals as well, such as increased market share, improved brand recognition, lowered expenses, etc. In order for our team to determine what will give you the best ROI, they need to know what your investment level is. Let’s work through two examples to illustrate this:

Example 1: Bob’s Start Up

Bob gives us a call and lets us know that he has just opened a small store in a medium density commercial area with limited traffic. Rent is cheap and it’s a great place to start for him. He wants an ecommerce website but doesn’t know where to start.

Bob answers our budget question with the usual, I don’t know…you tell me what it should be. So we answer with our usual question, what are your business goals. Bob again says, I don’t know, you tell me, what is everyone else doing?

This tells us right away, that Bob needs a lot of help. That’s OK, that is what we are here for. We have some great, entry level, ecommerce packages that we can slide Bob right into and get him up and running quickly. With any luck he will be happily selling on into the future, and that does happen.

But what Bob should really do right now is also invest in a little bit of business consulting and allow us to work with him to develop a marketing plan and projections based on his business goals. Spending a few hundred to a few thousand up front can save a business tens of thousands in the long run. We keep it simple for Bob, we touch on a few advanced metrics, but focus on initially steering his new business in the right direction without over complicating things. Knowledge and training going in can help a business owner avoid costly pitfalls.

Now that Bob has a marketing plan and business objectives, can we tell Bob what his budget for his website, online marketing should be, and what ecommerce website solution he needs to get the best ROI for his business. Based on his projections we determine a good goal is to supplement his limited in-store inventory with a larger selection online, drive store traffic, increase special orders, and add 50,000 per year in store sales. Initially we would tell Bob that his budget needs to be about 10% of his goal as a starting point, or 5,000 dollars per year for his e-commerce platform; to save money he can do his marketing himself by hands on SEO, event marketing, word of mouth, and setting up a computer on his sales counter for customers to browse in-store.

  • Goal 1: Increase online and in-store sales by $50,000 per year
  • Goal 2: Supplement limited brick and mortar inventory with special order availability

A two year Gold Level XLECommerce ecommerce package is a great fit for Bob’s business, along with a little extra consulting, marketing help, and one on one training time.

  • Total Investment: $9,276
  • Initial Return: $100,000
  • Long Term Return: $150,000
  • Brand Reach: 300,000 people
  • Total ROI: 250,000 Dollars
  • Total Marketing Spend per Dollar: 4 cents

Example 2: Linda’s Two Location Medium Box Brick and Mortar

Linda requests a meeting in our office and flies in to visit us. She has been in business for quite some time, and ready to take the business from a profitable medium size two location box store and spread its wings online with a national reach. She is still a “small business” though, we are not talking multi million dollar budgets with the likes of top big box players.

She has been down this road before and has prepared an RFP (Request for Proposal) according to the following business goals:

  • Goal 1: Initial first year sales goal of 500,000 based on a variable of 5% of current in store sales
  • Goal 2: Increase online sales by 20% year over year for the next 5 years.

Based on that we recommend she budgeted $50,000 per year for her ecommerce website and professional services. Driving the sales growth will require a $50,000 per year digital advertising budget, spread across SEO, Social Media, Paid (PPC/PPM), and Email Newsletters. She will support this with POS marketing in store and current event marketing that is already in place.

Her 500,000 dollar investment in ecommerce and marketing over the next five years is roughly 13% of her projected sales and will yield her over 3.7 Million in revenue.

At an average sale of 150 dollars, this means that she has attracted close to 30,000 additional customers during that time period whom she can re-market to. If each of those customers has a CLV (Customer Lifetime Value) of $450 (on average she can get each customer to come back three times) that is an additional 13 Million in future revenue for the lifetime of her business. Further, the platform and marketing she has put her brand in front of 15 Million people over that time.

So by following the RFP budget based on solid projections we have the following proposal for Linda:

  • Total Investment: $500,000
  • Initial Return: $3,700,000
  • Long Term Return: $13,000,000
  • Brand Reach: 15,000,000 people
  • Total ROI: 16.7 Million Dollars
  • Total Marketing Spend per Dollar: 3 cents

Based on this information we would suggest using our XLECommerce Enterprise Level ecommerce website package as a starting point and invest in additional integrations and customization to automate processes and meet business goals. We would also suggest heavy investment in content development and optimization, merchandising, and A/B testing. To back all of this up, our engineers would put together additional dedicated servers with a CDN (Content Delivery Network).

Summary

You can see that having a strong plan and a larger budget can lower your marketing spend per dollar and increase your ROI.

Bob, as a startup guy, does pretty well. His spend per dollar for e-commerce sales is less than than the costs of selling on eBay or Amazon. Even if he makes some newbie mistakes and misses his goals by 50% he is still OK and in a safe zone of return. His investment in consulting has paid off by going into his new business with a tactical plan of attack. His choice of a managed package has freed his time to focus on meeting new customers.

Linda has knocked it out of the park and now has a solid foundation in ecommerce on which to build on. If she keeps up her hard work and continues to invest in the future, her long term results will be exponential.

Of course, both of these are just hypothetical examples. Your investment in your ecommerce website is truly what you make of it. Your mileage per dollar will vary. We consistently see that those that spend the time working with our team the most in training, merchandising, SEO, and content development do better than those that sit back and expect their new plant to grow without watering it. There are no big secrets, building a new business or expanding your existing business takes hard work. We are here to work alongside you to meet your goals!

Click here to learn more or schedule a demonstration/consultation.

Ten Benefits of Search Engine Optimization in our Modern, Connected World

In this age of social media, you probably have heard that “pushing for content” is the greatest way to attract customers to your business. Everyone is focused on getting the most number of shares, the highest number of engagement, the “top post” that will spike to going viral.

Yet computers and patterns of techniques still drive the backbone of the internet. Facebook uses specific methods of identifying good content that might be relevant on someone’s news feed. Google uses someone’s personal search history to identify both geographic and tailored results, but even these depend on semantics. In fact, as more content, more stores, and more websites pop up, the greater need our world will have on sorting this vast information in a form that computers can understand.

The death of Search Engine Optimization is greatly exaggerated. While the old method of “just backlinks” and pure keyword-based optimization is long gone, search engine optimizers have survived a seismic shift in the complex way that the internet sorts itself. Here are ten ways in which optimizing your website can still benefit you today, which also illustrates just how complex and encompassing this field has become.

  1. Audience. In a social world, trends are increasingly defined by the masses, and often, knowing just who to target is extremely difficult. Through keyword research, social trends, shopping statistics, we can help you find the right products and content your business should be selling. Words go in and out of style, but research will always hold its value.
  2. Ideas. Brainstorming can be a chore, especially when you are jump-starting a new business or trying to add to an already existing portfolio. Yet with an SEO advisor, analysis reports and tools can give you insights into what has worked well so far in the world. This can even tap into your competition, allowing you to see how others have fared and provide you with a branch of generating new ideas.
  3. Organization. Spammy pages are scattered, cluttered, and not well organized. They use improper page layouts, untagged images, and promote chaos in an already chaotic online world. Optimizers ensure that your pages and products are organized, with the proper mark-up that both humans and computers can understand. How do your pages connect to other related pages? Do they convey a natural flow of information? We consider this and many other minor factors when ranking.
  4. Go local. With local targeting through keywords, directories, trends, it’s easy to know what your geographic target is looking for. The rise of smartphones means that more than ever, people are searching in their area for products.
  5. Strength. The internet has given rise to many forms of content and forms of sales. Contests, types of promotions, webinars, animated videos and guides, monthly product magazines, different forms of catalogs… It can be overwhelming to choose. Keywords alone don’t cut it for good SEO, we must have insights into more detailed specifics that engage your brand in a strong way. The stronger your engagement, the greater importance you’ll be on the internet.
  6. Authority. Generating backlinks is no longer as easy as asking someone to place a link to your business on their site. Authority is gained by the right shared content, well-written reviews from customers, and curated information.
  7. Universality. SEO ensures that your website is usable not just on tablets or desktop computers, but also on any other smart appliance. Like it or not, the internet of things trend has taken off, and over time there will be opportunities to showcase your business on other forms of technology. It’s also important that people with diverse backgrounds can access your website.
  8. Speed. Believe it or not, Google factors in page load times when it ranks your site. Where and how can we improve your page efficiency?
  9. Submissions. While Google is still the #1 search engine, people are also using other websites for searching. Each engine has their own unique way they crawl the web, and knowing how to work with the big guys will place you in good territory with the internet.
  10. Efficiency. As a business owner, your job is to focus on the business and sales. Through search engine optimization, your efficiency can grow without much overhead from your company. Optimizers work with and for you, not against you to create the best e-commerce experience you can have in today’s age.

Get Personal and Standout: Tell Your E-Commerce Story

With so much emphasis on the internet today we often lose that personal touch of “small business”. More and more people are looking to online stores to get what they need and many retailers don’t think about ways that they can give their customers a personal touch to set them apart from the billions of other retailers out there. Here are a few ideas that bring back that special something that people seem to be missing from brick and mortar stores.

 

1. Tell Your Business Story

Consumers want to know who they are buying from so why not share your unique business story? Let people know who you are and what you stand for so they can see that your business is actually real people doing real work. Make sure your information pages have an “About Us” that is well written and includes pictures so people can connect with your store on a personal level, something they can’t get from a big box store.

Learn how here:

2. Send a Personal Thank You

This is a little extra effort that goes a long way. Sending a short and simple “thank you” to customers after an order will not only make them feel important but it will reinforce the idea that they are buying their product from real people dedicated to their business. If you are sending an item from your store you can drop a thank you letter in the box before you ship, or if you are drop shipping you can send a digital thank you with your order confirmation using the comments box on your order page.

Learn how here:

3. Reach Out to Your Customers

Much like you would greet your customer walking into your store, you can use newsletters and special coupon codes to reach out and say hello to your best customers. Keeping your store fresh in your customers minds will keep them coming back for business and maybe even get you referrals. Use tools like Who’s OnlineCustomersCoupons, and Newsletter to reach out to your existing customers.

Learn how here:

Who’s Online

Customers

Coupons

Newsletter

Email Marketing Part 3: Analytic’s & Overview

Welcome back to final part of this Email Marketing topic where we will be going over what do look for after you’ve already sent out your customized newsletter.  Going over and looking to see your email lists reaction is crucial to consistently improving and having a successful newsletter.

First thing we are going to look at is your unique opens, these are the amount of opens your newsletter received. The reason this is important to look at is for future topics and seeing what exactly your list basis prefers to look at. At the beginning, don’t be afraid to try new topics, content, links, see what works best for you.

The second item we are going to look at is the “clicked” rate, this is the amount of times your list interacts with that newsletter. Looking at this can help you see what layout works best, where to put that picture, where to put that text, or where to incorporate that link.

The third thing we want to look at is our bounced rate. Unfortunately it will happen, but there is a difference between a hard and soft bounce. A hard bounce is a bounce that indicates a permanent reason an email cannot be delivered, either the mail doesn’t exist, or the email server blocked the email. A soft bounce however is an indication of a temporary delivery issue to an address, these emails will be attempted to be sent out 2-3 times over 90 days before getting put into the hard bounce category.

The fourth thing we want to look at is our 24 hour performance. Pay close attention to this, figuring out and comparing results to previous newsletters will help your company narrow down the time that is most efficient for your company.

Lastly, we look at the top links clicked section, this section is an indication of what your subscribers have clicked on the most. Paying attention to this will help you find what material your audience prefers to see and read about.

Email Marketing Part 2: Design & Content

Hey guys/gals welcome back to part 2 of the email marketing segment. So we have already built up our audience and created a few catchy themes to keep subscribers interested in your newsletter. Now it’s time to design and create a quality newsletter to send out to your customer base.

The first thing we want to concentrate on the newsletter is the subject name, in this few word header will be the deciding factor whether or not a subscriber opens the email or just tosses it out. Creating a good header that is not only interesting but intrigues the subscriber enough to want to read the whole newsletter. Doing this will become one of the biggest assets to your company.

The next thing we want to take a look at and make sure is just as important as a subject line is the first fold of the newsletter. This is where the most important content of the newsletter is going to go, having good quality content that displays what you are trying to accomplish with the newsletter. If you are trying to increase web traffic to your store, ensure some links directing them back to where you want them to go. If you want to acquire more sales within a short period of time, maybe offer a sale, or a coupon to the subscribers to encourage them to spend a little more money. Doing small things and concentrating on how well the newsletter is set up will determine the amount of positive feedback you will acquire.

The last thing we want to look at on designing the newsletter is the bottom portion, this is where your information goes that’s just not as important as the first fold but can still intrigue subscribers to read the entire newsletter. This is a good place to include recent news about the shop, or even upcoming events that can get your subscribers wanting to know more. This is also a good place to have interesting articles about related topics to your company. But it’s also a good place to leave your customers happy and have them waiting for that next newsletter.

Be sure to tune in next week for the final part of this Email Marketing Segment!

Return on Investment

Investing is one of the most important aspects companies have to deal with on a regular basis. Companies have to figure out when to spend while also looking at what to spend it on that. Now an investment doesn’t necessarily mean money, but can also be the time, or effort put towards a particular thing. However companies are main objective is to make money while turning a consistent profit. But have you ever wonder if the investment your company has made actually turns a profit? There’s a way to do it, it’s called Return on Investment (ROI); which is a performance measure used to evaluate the efficiency of an investment or to compare the efficiency of a number of different investments.

It is crucial for companies to check their Return on Investment wherever they designate any kind of investment. You want to make sure you are turning a profit on your investments ROI can be used to help narrow down where a company is or is not making a return on their investment.

Email Marketing Part 1: Setting It Up

As a business owner consistently pushing your brand and products in front of your customers is a struggle. Adapting, creating, and promoting new products are imperative, and one simple way to do that is through email newsletters. Some people believe that email marketing is a thing of the past and not an effective way to grab a customer’s attention. I am here to say those are false beliefs and many companies are successfully using email marketing for numerous reasons. Email Marketing increases traffic towards your online store, increases brand awareness while promoting your products consistently.

The first thing a business must do is carefully build up a recipient list and carefully place them into categories so as the business owner can send out direct newsletters to increase the potential for that customer to buy products on your online store.

After creating a list for the newsletter, the next step is to set up a newsletter. This isn’t the easiest thing to do, one must pay close attention to the design and effort you’ve put into it to achieve maximum results. It must draw the reader’s attention towards certain parts of the newsletter to keep them interested and want to read more. Maybe offer coupon codes or incentives to your audience to drive traffic to your store even if they don’t buy anything. If at all, a newsletter is a way to keep your business fresh inside the minds of your customers, saying “Hey! I’m still here with good deals”.

Now after you’ve built up your audience and took the time to carefully build your newsletter it’s time to send it out. But you may be asking, when is the best time to send this out? Does the time of day really matter? Yes it does! Do some further research to maximize the amount of open rate your newsletter. Try to send out an” A/B” testing email to narrow down times, dates, days, and even comparing different emails. Doing this will increase your chances for a higher return on investment and increase the amount of people looking forward to your next newsletter!

Be sure to tune in next week on part 2 of this marketing feature!

Tip of the Post

“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” – Outdoor Business Network

Using Analytics to Refine your Website

Ever wonder where the majority of your website’s visitors travel on your site? What they click on? How long their on there? It’s called analytics, companies use this to track their visitor’s behavior. It allows companies to keep track of specific data about items that are purchased, you learn how visitor’s navigate the site, and allows you to focus on particular ways to increase the sales for your company. For example, if you’ve noticed that many potential customers are leaving their shopping carts, you can back track their navigated pages to find what pages may need to be overhauled or slight changes to increase the amount of online sales. For the best online results, consistently checking of the websites page traffic and the popularity of specific items will allow your company to stay one step ahead of your competition.

Here are five tools to help get your company use analytics:

1. Demographics: This tool allows you to understand the characteristics of your customers like their age, and sex so you can adapt your website as necessary.

2. Geographical location: Allows you to understand where your visitor’s are coming from, and their language.

3. Behavior: this tool is great to understand how many unique visitor’s you are receiving on a monthly basis, and also allows you to see the amount of time spent on your website to help you narrow down any issues you may be having.

4. Device: this feature is very important to understand how your visitor’s are reaching your website, either by a desktop, mobile device, or a tablet, understanding this will allow you to cater to your largest group of visitor’s and potentially increase sales.

5. Visitor Flow: this is the feature where you get to see where your visitors are going every time they are on your website. This will allow you to track what pages you may need to upgrade to increase the longevity of potential customers on that page.

Tip of the Post

“Improving your website is understanding your visitors” – OBN team