Chat with us, powered by LiveChat
CAll Us: 1-800-699-0820 Submit Ticket   Client Area
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.

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.

Importance of Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

We have discussed Search Engine Optimization (SEO) a few times before but at Outdoor Business network we cannot express enough as to how important this is for any company that is online. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is extremely important, especially as customer habits and search-engine algorithms change. Customers are becoming less likely to directly engage with a business when searching for information. Most of the customers are starting their discovery process with a search which makes search the largest digital marketing channel today.

The main goal of SEO is to ensure that the content on your web pages are easily understood by the people and the search engine algorithms; so in turn can be discovered by potential customers when they search for products or services that your company offers. The search engine algorithms are extremely complex and are hard to understand, they don’t take information in the same way a person that is searching. By consistently enhancing your companies SEO, you’re ensuring that the algorithms in place

No matter how advanced your SEO program is, if customers aren’t able to find the value in the content on your web pages, then your marketing efforts are a waste. It is crucial that marketers dedicate time and effort to creating content that is useful and engaging towards their demographic. If it is possible, a company should dedicate time weekly to create content. Keywords are able to easily determine what each page is about and how the content is useful for potential customers that are looking for answers. SEO is not a one-time action; it requires constant maintenance because search algorithms constantly change and update.

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.

Internet Marketing and Why

I am going to touch on this again for the simple fact that there are still some people out there who do not think marketing works. The “Why” is easy…because your competition is doing it. Marketing is probably more important on the internet than in any other medium when it comes to driving business to your retail storefront. In today’s smartphone/tablet rich environment, over 70% of users find their way to your brick and mortar store and your e-store through the use of one of these devices. So if you don’t have the basics in place for your website you are missing out on a ton of potential business. Big name brand companies that do a good amount of online business spend millions to make sure their sites are readily visible to the public when they start searching on Google or Bing. It would be just plane foolish to think your site will perform without some level of marketing effort put into it. So once again I urge all of you to take some time and give us a call to see how or what you can do to get your site performing to a level that makes it worth your while. Call us today at 1-800-699-0820 ext. 1

 

E-commerce Marketing Philosophy

I understand a lot has been written about marketing your e-commerce storefront. Hundreds and thousands of tips and tricks are on the internet and just as many “experts” touting their services as the best to give you Amazonian like status in the Google rankings.. With all that is out there many of you refuse to accept the fact that you actually have to market your website to make it successful. The blame is shifted to a lack of product availability or perhaps a down economy. We the reality is more than likely it comes down to one simple thing and that is traffic. Traffic is the number one measure we use to evaluate a given websites success. Obviously it goes on from there as far as important metrics but without traffic there is nothing else to measure.
The World Wide Web is a big place. Do you honestly think that some of the huge brands such as Amazon, Ebay, Zappos etc grew successful web based businesses buy simply building a site and turning it on? The answer you should be thinking is a “NO!” These companies have spent 100’s of millions marketing themselves to drive traffic to their respective sites in order to become house hold names. The simple beauty of the internet is that it gives the small to medium size guy a legitimate shot at competing with some of the known big dogs in any given industry. This will not happen for free though. You will spend either time or money to accomplish this and in many cases both. So the question is raised from this….How much is your time worth? You better know the answer to that before saying “I will spend the time and do this myself”. More often than not business owners make the mistake of taking on these types of tasks not factoring in what their time is really worth. Sure it may be “expensive” to hire a company such as Outdoor Business Network to handle your marketing efforts but at what cost is it to your business to have you fooling with marketing and not managing maybe your employees at your brick and mortar or tending to current customers. This also doesn’t factor in that something for a pro marketing agency may only take 3-4 hours to accomplish may end up taking you 30, 40 or more hours for the same task. These are things you need to ask yourself.
Still don’t think you need to market your website. Let me paint this picture. You have just built the most beautiful brick and mortar storefront known to man. The location however has it in the middle of a forest in the middle of nowhere USA. There are no roads leading to this store whatsoever. Now remember it is an amazing store and people WILL buy if they go there. In order for your store to be successful you need people or traffic coming through the doors correct. The fastest way to do this is run a major highway right by this store for all that drives by to see. People will stop and they will shop and if it is a positive experience they will tell others all about this amazing store. Over time you will have built up enough word of mouth advertising you may be able to expand into some paid advertising. Your website works in the exact same way. You have to build traffic buy building paths or routes to your store through various digital marketing efforts. It does work however it does take time, patience and effort. If you want it to work faster then it will of course take real dollars to make that happen.
So my advice is simple. Start small if you absolutely have to but by all means start somewhere. Success rarely happens overnight and even less often happens without effort. Give us a call if you would like to learn more about our marketing programs and how to better present your website.

Brick and Mortar Tips for Online Stores: Part 6

To wrap up or blog series on utilizing the values of brick and mortar retail in your online store, we are going to cover that basics of marketing your site the same way you would if you owned a storefront. Many people assume that they can simply purchase a website, get it online and then the customer will just flock there and start buying. These assumptions can lead people to failure when they do not properly market their sites or put time and money into hiring professionals to do so.

To build a successful website, marketing should be divided into two main groups. There is user-specific marketing to customers, which includes social media, e-mail marketing and original content on your site. This is important because it will build your credibility within the eyes of your customers and ensure return shopping. Marketing this way is building the image you will portray to your customers and potential shoppers. User-specific marketing has the main goal of being interactive and informative for your customers. It should include any information pages that a customer would use on your site, video clips, product reviews and any other unique content that makes the user experience on your site easier.

Then, there is the SEO/PPC marketing aspect. This marketing is in place to boost your search engine results, whether they are organic or paid. User-specific marketing is the trend in the industry right now and search engines seem to favor original content, however, to properly market your website your strategy needs to encompass both of these tactics. You want to develop a strong brand with your customers but you also need to be doing SEO and PPC marketing to reach out to new clients.

Brick and Mortar Tips for Online Stores: Part 4

To continue with our current series on translating the values that make brick and mortar stores successful to the online arena, today we’re going to cover bounce-backs and ways to market to the customers who have already shopped with you.

In the retail world, there are several ways that stores market to their existing client base. One trick that shops use frequently is the bounce-back. This is a coupon or flier inserted right into your shopping bag after you’ve made a purchase. A bounce-back can also be a coupon or promotion printed at the bottom of a receipt that a customer receives after purchasing in the store.

The idea of a bounce-back is to get the customer to come back in a timely fashion and shop again. It can be a reminder of a holiday coming up or a promotional offer – either way, it should compel the consumer to spend more at your site.

You can create this same effect through your e-commerce site even though it is not a face-to-face transaction with the consumer. One way to do this is to send an email newsletter to all of the clients who purchased on your site within the last month. This way, you are engaging those recent customers and building a strong brand identity. If you are shipping the product and not a warehouse, you can also include a coupon in the box so that when the package arrives, the customer has incentive to shop again.

Brick and Mortar Tips for Online Stores: Part 2

To continue with our series on applying brick and mortar ideas to your online store, this segment will cover how you can implement tools to make your online shoppers feel as though they have the same customer service that they would at your shop.

When you go to a retail store, one of the first things that will happen is a sales associate will greet you (hopefully in a friendly manner) and ask you what you are looking for or if you need help finding a specific item. The associate might also tell the customer what specials are going on or what products are currently on sale.

You can do several different things to achieve this same effect online, utilizing multiple features to recreate some of the convenience of having a sales associate to reference.

To assume the role of greeter for your web store, you can use bright banner images on your landing page to greet your customers. This will need to be friendly, informative and aesthetically interesting to engage your customers and get them to look further into your shop. Think about what you do when you visit a site for the first time. Do you give the site a chance to load fully and display all of its images? Do you read the full page before deciding to navigate further? Normally, you are going to have less than 10 seconds to get a customer hooked on your page. The landing page will serve as a greeter and hopefully will achieve this for your web store.

In addition to having great content on your landing page, having a chat feature is another wonderful way to engage your customers. A chat feature allows customer to interact with your support staff in an anonymous way (if they choose) that often times gives them a sense of security. It can help your customers who may have anxieties about talking on the phone with a sales rep as it is a digital interface.

Another tip to creating a great service element is having a properly functioning search bar. If a customer can search for a certain product within your site, it is a great tool for them in navigation. It’s almost like having a salesperson there who you can ask what isle you’ll find the product in. This feature should be user-friendly, adapting to misspellings and other factors of human error. Maybe you don’t carry a certain product online but you carry it in store. This tool should be used in the same way a sales person would be. If a customer asks for something that doesn’t exist in your store, can you offer suggestions like a salesperson would?

These simple steps, although they’ll probably take some programming work from your developers, will ensure that you don’t lose sight of customer service on your ecommerce site.