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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.

Are you Mobile for 2014?

In today’s society people are always on the go, but having the technology at hand allows them to access the internet by their mobile device. The ability to access the internet with their mobile device has create a new platform for marketers and retail stores to accustom to. It is crucial for your retail store to have your website become mobile device friendly. Did you know that 46% of all online sales come from a mobile device? If your company is not mobile device friendly in 2014 you, could potentially be missing out on almost half of your online sales.

Customers reaching out to your website through their mobile device want to be able to access and navigate your mobile friendly site with ease. Therefore, it is important for your website to display only the necessary information that you want them to see that they can view on their mobile device. Doing this directs the customers to the products or categories that you want to sell the most. On top of having an easily navigable mobile device site, you must incorporate a simple check out system so your customers can buy their products in a minimal amount of time.

Other than making your website mobile device compatible, you must consider other areas where you solicit your company such as email and newsletters. In 2013 65% of all email and newsletters were opened through a mobile device and has been predicted to increase in 2014. Therefore when sending out company newsletters with your coupons, deals, or anything else you must consider making them mobile friendly as well. This way you can get a higher opening percent rate and potentially drive more customers to your online or into your store.

Following those simple guidelines your company could see an increase in sale during 2014.

Social Media Schedule

By now, most of you have (hopefully) developed social media pages for your site — whether it’s Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc. Keep yourself from falling into the dark abyss of businesses that develop social media pages and then forget to post, leaving a bleak and dismal page that makes it look like you have no friends, no followers and no hope.

Post on those pages!

There is nothing worse than a growing company, trying to form a following that completely gives up on itself before it’s had a chance to develop lasting relationships with those people who are genuinely interested in their company. The fans that you make on Facebook, those eager for content that follow you on Twitter and scroll through your updates on their smartphones every morning – those are the people that are going to use your products and give you return visits on your webpage.  It’s not only sloppy, but unprofessional to create pages and not post content. These are free tools for you to use when reaching out to your audience. If you don’t have time to post or are having trouble thinking of what to say, hire someone to do it for you!

If you are plan to do your own posts and videos, the best way to ensure that you don’t fall asleep behind the social media wheel is to develop a schedule and stick to it. Maybe you post every morning at 10am after you get into the office and get settled in for the day or perhaps you want to post something newsworthy on Mondays and something entertaining on Fridays. Whatever your posting schedule is, make sure that you have mapped out a plan that will give you a support system for managing these pages.

Something else to consider is creating a vault for your posts, writing them in advance and having them at your fingertips when you want to post them. This is helpful for a lot of busy small business owners who can use their free time to plan ahead so that they aren’t tied down during the work week with content development.

Finally, make your smartphone your personal portal to posting. There are plenty of apps out there designed to make updating content a mobile venture. If you have to travel, post from your phone so that you can be on the move and not miss your posting schedule. Keep at it, stick to your schedule and there will be content there for fans when they find you.

The Art of Facebook Domination

People from over 200 countries across the globe flock to Facebook to connect people. But what connection are they truly making — what connection to their favorite brands are they making, more importantly? What does the average user really want out of their Facebook experience? The realm of Facebook encompasses more than profile pictures and relationship statuses. It surrounds the basic human instinct to feel important; to feel as though your voice is being heard. That being said, what can be done on your page to encourage people not only to like your page but to enjoy going there on a daily basis. Breaking down the fundamental communication value of Facebook is key to incorporating a successful social media strategy into your brand. I will be using Coca-Cola to demonstrate three tips that can be developed over time to build something more than a brand — a true following. With over 41,000,000 likes, Coca-Cola has built a following with a social media empire to match:

1. Be True to Your Fans

There is a reason that people buy your product or partake in your services. Keep yourself rooted in that essential part of your business that got you fans in the first place. If you are going through a re-branding phase or are considering making a jump to a social media campaign, remember that within your innovation, there needs to be a core value that your business has carried and that has been related to your customers.

Coca-Cola is a great example of a company who keeps up with their evolving image while staying true to the basic values that most people associate with it. This is America’s brand and has always upheld this image with their advertising campaigns. Their cover photo on Facebook emulates the same emotions that some of their earliest advertisements did: wholesome, youthful, fun, tradition — a refreshing beverage to be enjoyed by all.

The mind-boggling thing about Coca-Cola is that it is virtually one product (beverage) that has made such a powerful throne as a brand. According to their website, “From humble beginnings 125 years ago, our Company has evolved from one product — Coca-Cola — to more than 500 brands in 2011. We’ve grown from selling a modest 9 drinks a day in 1886 to 1.8 billion a day. And we’ve expanded from one city in one country to availability in more than 200 countries around the world.”

1.8 billion a day. That could translate to roughly 26% of the global population buying a Coke on a daily basis.

2. Give Your Fans a Voice
Something that every good salesperson knows is that people love to talk about themselves. If you get them to tell you what they are truly in the market for, it is simple to sell it to them. Coca-Cola gives their fans a forum and an opportunity to be heard. The company encourages fan involvement and they put that right in their Facebook introduction, “The Coca-Cola Facebook Page is a collection of your stories showing how people from around the world have helped make Coke into what it is today.”

What fan wouldn’t want to be part of one of the biggest brands in the world?

So what you need to do is give your fans and opportunity to do your marketing for you. It’s as basic as the word-of-mouth method, but translate that into social media. Let them tell the story of your product and partner with local businesses and archives to do the same. This is the simplest way to let your loyal customers, the ones who actually spend a lot of time using your product, tell you what they want. It’s the survey, the research, the data collection, the analysis all rolled into one. And it’s free!

3. Incorporate All of your Branding Materials

Not only has Coke taken over the web, they’ve taken over color association. When you see red and white or even a red bottle icon, you know that it’s Coke without even having to think about it. Their social media is no different. It reeks of red and white and the Coke brand in a way that associates all of your fondest childhood memories with their Facebook. Remember being barefoot in the summertime grass, drinking a Coke and eating chips. Maybe waiting for 4th of July fireworks to start. Maybe playing with your best friend that moved away when their dad got a job two states over.

This branding pulls everything together with two colors, focusing on their heritage and yet calling people to action by telling them to “express themselves.” What Coke has done, is it’s become a cultural icon to the extent of which almost every significant image used in their advertising gets sucked into their image vortex. Polar bear. Santa Claus. These are things that have become part of their strategy and part of the reason why people drink 1.8 billion a day.

So how can you take this theory and apply it to your business? Incorporate a strong color association with your brand name. People associate by color more than almost any other medium because it’s usually the first thing you notice when looking at an ad. Develop a strong design and utilize colors in your branding efforts. Then, once you have developed the strong brand, make sure that your different networks, websites and other branded items are plastered with the same palette. Keep it consistent. This is crucial to getting your branding materials involved on Facebook.

Be sure to incorporate other things. The logo, pictures of the storefront, pictures of the employees. Show them who you are as well as what you do. This will encourage trust, which is essential in building any relationship. Keep your brand strong and consistent and be sure to incorporate these things in your Facebook page.

 

Hungry for more? Check out our website to see what services we offer in web-marketing, social media and brand development.

 

 

Mother’s Day Sales: Marketing to Online Shoppers

Many of us will go out this next week and find gifts for mom, grandma and other family members that we recognize on Mother’s Day. However, few people realize that Mother’s Day and the days leading up to it, if marketed correctly, can be some of the biggest revenue days of the year. The beauty of this holiday, however, is that it is one that flourishes within the world of e-Commerce.

This survey done by shop.org, which is owned by the National Retail Federation, says that 31.7% of consumers who celebrate Mother’s Day and shop online will be spending more this year than they have in the past, while only 17.1% of consumers who do not shop online for Mother’s Day are planning to spend more. The survey shows data that in every shopping category offered, online shoppers will spend more this Mother’s Day than regular shoppers.

So what is your business doing to tailor to this trend? Here are three tips to help get you started:

1. Use social couponing to spread the word. Shoppers have been clipping coupons since their inception, and the creation of social coupons such as Groupon and Living Social have taken this practice to the next level. Local businesses across the country partner with these coupon giants to create Mother’s Day packages to make it easy on the consumer and special for mom. Check out some of their gift ideas here.

2. Develop new keywords. Customers are going to be searching for local and national deals on the web, so make sure your site is prepared for the searches to come. You can make a page especially for your Mother’s Day specials, or include content on your homepage — just be sure that whatever you are doing has location-focused key words or Mother’s Day keywords to drive traffic to your page. When searching Mother’s Day gifts, you can be sure that shops like ediblearrangements.com will be optimizing their sites for those searches. Getting high rankings on a page like that takes serious time and resources, but getting on a local page is feasible to do in time to catch the holiday shoppers.

3. Market through your social media. Aside from using social coupons, use your Facebook and Twitter to advertise for Mother’s Day. The people who are following you or liking your page are already fans of your product or services, so marketing strongly to that niche is a no-brainer. Again, Edible Arrangements is on top of things. Something as simple as changing your cover photo to remind fans of the upcoming holiday will help spark interest in your product and help drive traffic to your e-Commerce site.

5 Free Resources Every SEO Should Have in Their Back Pocket

Although it has been around for nearly two decades, the world of Search Engine Optimizers is always evolving and growing. The industry is brutal but with the right resources, SEO’s can stay on the top of their game by staying current and changing with the trends of the market. Here are five free resources for beginners that will help advance your skill set and keep you current.

1. Google Webmaster Central Blog

The Google Webmaster Central Blog is a key resource as Google is the dominating power in all things internet, including internet marketing. This blog has everything you would expect from Google and more: videos, instructional how-to’s, materials for beginners and the tech-savvy. Best of all, the information is coming from those at Google who are monitoring and even creating the trends and breakthroughs we all try to follow. The Webmaster Central Blog is also a nice resource to have because it showcases various areas of study to make your internet experience well-rounded. Even though it may not focus solely on SEO, it gives anyone in the internet marketing industry a leg up on competition by introducing new areas if interest and covering topics from images to crawl errors.

2. The Daily SEO Blog

From the innovative team at SEOmoz, this blog is something that every SEO should be checking daily. It captures everything relevant from the industry, whether its new policies and penalties or the discussion of black hat SEO’s. They have a great segment called “Whiteboard Friday,” which is an entertaining way to stay informed and keep up on the hot topics in the trade. There are several different SEOmoz bloggers, but perhaps one of the shining qualities to this particular blog is that they pull excellent posts from their user-driven blog, YOUmoz. This is great for two reasons. Firstly, it allows outside voices to have a widespread audience and share their knowledge of SEO and second because it tells the reader that SEOmoz is cultivating the best talent possible for their articles.

3. Klout

While this may seem like just another social media tool, Klout is unique because it measures your influence over others. It tracks the analytics of your social media sites in one convenient spot and best of all, it’s completely free! It converges all of the different areas that you are active in social media-land, and turns it into tangible data. Not only is this a great way to stay on top of your game, but it also shows that you are taking the time and effort to track all of this data.  Klout is user friendly and is a great way for beginning SEO’s to break into the analytical side of the job. It tracks the influences of over 100 million users everyday, which means that you can see your reach and develop better strategies for broadening your brand. While your Klout score may not be the most important thing, try to look at Klout as a tool for configuring algorithmic success within the industry, not to track your popularity.

4. Open Site Explorer

Another great site from SEOmoz, this allows you to track sites and compare different sites to see the effectiveness of their links. This tool is an amazing one to have in your arsenal, as you can compare someone you are working with to their competition. You get more options if you decide to purchase SEOmoz pro, but there is still a lot of information from the free site, although you only get to do 3 reports a day. Between Open Site Explorer and Klout, there is a plethora of information, waiting to take your SEO skills to the next level. Open Site Explorer can show you incredible information about your site from page authority to internal and external links. This is definitely a tool to look into and get familiar with.

5. Pinterest

Pinterest is a newer social media site that allows users to “pin” things they like in a virtual inspiration board. Why is this important to SEO? Pinterest is trending to be the new big thing in social media, falling in the number 3 spot behind Facebook and Twitter. It is especially important because it goes beyond sharing information with followers. Pinterest represents the potential to create different pinboards and utilizing them as a two way communication strategy. The SEO doesn’t determine what gets posted or what is tweeted — the consumer is solely responsible for pinning items that they are interested in. One company that seems to be thriving on Pinterest is Blendtec, who is embracing the possibilities that this new form of social media represents. This is a site to keep in mind in the future as it grows and expands as a marketing tool.