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Tip 15: Conversion. Conversion. Conversion.

No conversion = no commerce! When you get high quality traffic on your website you should convert them into paying customers. Conversion makes the difference between a good and a bad website. It is the difference between a profit and a loss.

What action do you want to let your visitor take? Let us be clear – with an online store you want to sell! You at least want to have the e-mail addresses of your visitors when they leave your website.

The average conversion number in e-commerce are sad. About 1 in 100 visitors will buy something from you. You have to lead the visitor from entry to buy like described earlier. They have to immediately understand what you want from them, if not, they are away in one mouse-click, going to your competitor!

A clear, simple but professional site design, based on a fast, functional and trustworthy lay-out; navigation and structure with clear instructions and content – these are the things that enable you to get better conversion numbers from for example 1% to up to 4%.

You can do the maths yourself – when you sell one product a day for 100 bucks/quid, you can after subtle changes in design and navigation possibilities, with the above conversion numbers, sell 400 bucks/quid per day, without spending a penny more for marketing!

This tip comes from the series 18 Short Tips for your online store. During 9 weeks, EcommerceIncome will publish a new tip on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Don’t miss a tip and subscribe to the EcommerceIncome newsletter!

How Google got Rich

It is interesting that most entrepreneurs use simple online products on a daily basis and don’t realize why they use exactly those products.

It is even ironical that we don’t realize what it is exactly that makes all these super successful products so successful and what these products all have in common.

Ok, I will be more specific. I talk about successes such as:

I will show you how they did it and how we can employ the same methods in our enterprises.

But there is a problem. I can keep on giving examples to illustrate the thesis, but I will not succeed in case you define “success” or “Mega success” in other ways than I do. To eliminate that problem: When I talk of “mega success” than I talk about a company that succeeds to create revenues where others failed, or that has gathered more public and fans than others.

This article is specifically about how the Big Guys make humongous amounts of money from their products/services while frustrated entrepreneurs struggle to sell just one product or subscription. There are reasons why this happens – it is not a question of luck.

The most important reason why Google is Google, and Groupon Groupon, etc, is because these businesses weren’t run by marketeers but by strategists. Don’t get me wrong, I am a real marketing man and I will continue to use marketing to let my online stores and future companies grow, but when we are fair – marketing is just a piece of the cake called commerce.

In reality strategy is much more powerful to achieve “mega success” than marketing.

I know that you like to talk about “earning the money”. I too, but I had to first make clear how important strategy is, so that the following examples are easier to grasp.

Let’s start!

Google.com

What happens when we make a list with what has to be on our “state-of-the-art” online store/website? We start with an ABOUT US page, CONTACT page, HISTORY page and another 107 ideas that no one in the world really cares about.

What did Google do? Google removed Google Weather, Google News, Google company history and another 987354 things that no one was interested in and just focused on the most important part – the Google Search Engine.

What is the most important part for your online business?

I hope you can appreciate the fact that users only care about the core product (or service) that is user friendly, free of risk, easy and effective.

Is that what you deliver?

So the first rule is that you should give something of great value for your users/visitors, in a simple and direct manner.

But wait… the Google search engine is free for users, Google make their money with ads. When you ever did something with advertising you will know that sellers most of all like to put shameless advertisement space on their web pages and sell those to advertisers.

I am also convinced that the typical advertisement salesman would recommend Google to place the advertisements on the home page of Google.com. The company would probably make a lot of money in that way, but not for long.

I hope this sounds logical. The company has to be designed to be of great value for its users. When you sell advertisment space on your website, keep in mind that your users want to get something out of that. The advertisements should be relevant. The point I try to make is simple: think first of your visitors, not about your advertisers. When the core of your business is good, than the money generating part follows naturally.

Groupon.com

Many probably don’t know that Groupon only became the current Groupon after many experiments and modifications. The original concept was thepoint.com (http://www.groupon.com/about) that lets users start their own campaign. Such a campaign could be anything, from “raising money for charity”, “ban Ebay for x days” to “let publishers publish magazines without photoshopping the models”. These campaigns were used to call people to action.

So you could start any campaign you like and if you like give rewards in return. Hmm! The website encourages groups to get into action, but in a very open, not focussed and confusing manner. Great concept, but a lack of focus.

One day the founders decide to split off the branch with group discounts and make a new company out of it: Groupon was born. This was a great decision and we now know Groupon as the fastest growing billion dollar company in history.

I have given two examples – Google and Groupon. Did they use marketing or strategy for their success?

Google Docs

Above I wrote “When the core of your business is good, than the money generating part follows naturally.” It is, however, not always that simple. If it were, Open Office would now be the world’s most used software.

O, you don’t know what Open Office is??? Fine, the point is made then. 😉

Open Office is a software package with everything in it needed for word processing, calculation tables, presentations, databases, and more. Simply put you can do everything with Open Office what can also be done in Microsoft Office. The only difference is that Open Office is free.

For MS Office 2007, Open Office was literally a copy of MS Office – the same functionality, user experience and no compatibiliy problems.

Open Office became a fail because of a lack of strategy. MS Office continued to ask money for their product and marketing for a large audience while Open Office couldn’t even spread her product for free.

There are a few reasons for this, but let’s focus on this:

How business should operate – the Google method

Google introduced her version of MS Office, first named Google Docs, now Google Drive. Google Drive has only a small part of all the features of MS Office or Open Office, but Google gave it a nice twist. A user can open and share his/her document everywhere on the world, when there is internet access.

But wait! Where do they earn the money? Not with advertisements.

Do you remember that I wrote that the money comes automatically when the product is good? Google introduced a premium version of Google Docs and the mail service for companies desperately looking for a way to share and centrally save their data. Many companies also have problems with their e-mail servers and tada! Google Apps was born. I use it myself too, the solution is simple and works fine.

Again – Strategy

The Google Search Engine, Groupon and Google Apps filled a niche in the market, but it is important to notice that they all deliver a clear and focussed service.

For the search engine it was about the search functionality; for Groupon about group discounts; and Google Apps focussed on achieving higher office productivity via cloud computing.

There are many differences between the big guys and the small guys. An important difference is that the big guys are self-secure enough to say “no” to mediocrity. They have the same mental capacity, but the big guys use it differently. I mean, I am sure that Google could have added 87 extra features above the features already offered by MS Office, but they didn’t do that. They introduced basic features and cloud technology in the office software – quite neat! Remember, marketing follows strategy, and not the other way around.

Leave conventional wisdom and continuously challenge existing ideas.

 

Tip 14: The power of SEO

When online stores are built well from the ground up, use specific and advanced SEO techniques and follow Google’s recommendation they become explosive SEO monsters!

On-Site SEO, also know as On-Page SEO is the process and the skill to build online stores with SEO techniques exclusive for inside your online store in contrast to techniques that are used outside of your website (Off-Site SEO and Off-Page SEO).

The use of the best SEO modules on your online store is your secret weapon. This allows you to build a solid SEO foundation with which you will be ranked highly by Google in the shortest possible time frame. Moreover you get with these modules already a good foundation for your website.

Because the biggest part of searchers use Google (about 80%), it has the majority of the market when it is about web traffic. The only aim of the Google search engine is to refer users to suitable sites. Your site should defintely be among those. It is essantial to be in the top 10 – lower on the list the number of visitors declines very sharply.

In short, build your online store with organic and “Google-friendly” search strategies in mind. Nothing is better than targeted visitors coming from search engines, with added on that marketing via social media and Pay Per Click ads, to get the best amount of visitors.

This tip comes from the series 18 Short Tips for your online store. During 9 weeks, EcommerceIncome will publish a new tip on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Don’t miss a tip and subscribe to the EcommerceIncome newsletter!

Optimize your pictures for better Google search results

It is today very important that you optimize your pictures for Google. Why? Because Google also shows pictures in the search results.

This article offers a number of tips on how you can make sure Google search results will feature your pictures.

1. Choose a good file name

Make sure that the file name describes the picture well. So: don’t call a picture IMG_12896.jpg but “family-hammock-mexicana-ecru.jpg.” – in the case of our online hammock store. As you can see you should make sure that the search term is in the file name.

2. Give the picture the right title

You can keep the title the same as the file name. So in the example above that would be “Family Hammock Mexicana Écru”. Try to keep the title as short and relevant as possible.

3. Make the right alt-tag

This text is not visible on the website but does ensure that Google knows what the content of the picture is. Describe the content of the picture in max 150 characters and place the search term first in the description. When the picture is a link to another page the description should be about the page the picture is linking to.

4. Let the search term recur in the text around the picture

For Google it is also important the surrounding text corresponds to the information that was given to the picture. Besides, it is of course important that the whole page is optimized well with the right search terms. Click here for more info on optimizing a page.

5. Quality of the pictures

Use big pictures of a high quality in .jpg- or .png format. Because the loading time for a page is also important for the findability, it is important to compress the pictures as much as possible. Obviously without a loss of quality. Software that you can use for this purpose include Photoshop, Gimp or Irfanfiew. Find more information and tips on higher quality pictures here – “Optimize Product Page”.

Good luck with optimizing your pictures! Hopefully they quickly appear in the Google Search Results – getting you another step ahead of the competition. You can see below that our hammock stores are successful in this.

Tip 13: Traffic. Traffic. Traffic.

No Traffic = No Sales. Without traffic (website visitors) you can not sell your product, service or brand.

The key to selling more is using multiple ways to generate more traffic, instead of just one way. The various ways should also strengthen each other (synergy) for the best result.

Traffic through search engines is driven by blogs, forums, PR sites, partner sites, review sites, etc.

The key to success for your online store is to use a lot more sources to get traffic to your websit. All the “hungry” traffic you generate comes together on your solid web page, where the conversion process takes places which makes buyers from visitors.

Very few potential customers execute the action you want them to take during their first visit (buying a product, subscribing to a newsletter or something else). It is therefore important that you are seen as much as possible, on websites, through e-mail, via social media and via aggressive marketing through the Google search engine.

There is no trick for generate a great stream traffic of a high quality. It is working hard. It is a process. And in the end there is experience and a proven method necessary. Generating traffic and optimizing showing up in search engine results is not something the parttime or inexperienced entrepreneur will be able to do.

There are many other ways to get large quantities traffic to your site, such as Pay Per Click advertisment or marketing through sociale media. But it is also wise to start with a strong foundation and a organic search engine strategy.

This tip comes from the series 18 Short Tips for your online store. During 9 weeks, EcommerceIncome will publish a new tip on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Don’t miss a tip and subscribe to the EcommerceIncome newsletter!

Summary Online Store SEO quick wins

Or: the Do’s and Don’ts of SEO

Don’t: place the name of the online store (at the front) of the title tag

The title tag should contain the most important keywords of the page in a short sentence. The name of the online store is secondary in importance to that.

You can place the name of the online store behind the title, but placing it in front of the title is not a smart thing to do!

Do: Unique meta-description for every page

Each page should contain a unique meta-description.

Don’t: Use Meta keywords

Every proper search engine doesn’t use meta-keywords already for years. All software does, however, still offer this option. You don’t really have to look at this anymore. Better invest your time in a good title and meta-description.

Don’t: Use the H1 tag for the logo on every page

H1 should be used for the most important information on the page. In most cases the product or category title and not the logo.

Don’t: welcome the visitor

Never put a word of welcome on your online store. I still see “welcome” too often in the H1, while that is the most important H1 tag – use it well!

Don’t: hide links and keywords

This one seems logical, but still: don’t hide links and keywords on pages where they shouldn’t be. It doesn’t help your SEO effort to add a load of keywords to the bottom of every page.

In 2005 this worked but in 2014 the search engines became smarter. 😉

Don’t: Use texts that are used elsewhere already

Each page should be unique. So don’t copy texts from other pages or from your supplier but write your own unique texts!

Do: texts for categories

Too often I still find category pages without text. From experience I know that you can quickly profit from adding text to it. Google attaches more importance to the category pages than to the product page.

Do: Use Breadcrumbs

Breadcrumbs are an easy way to show the internal link structure of a website. For visitors it improves the usability, but search engines also recognize the site structure more easily with breadcrumbs.

Do: Clean, Cleaner, Cleanest

The source code should be as clean as possible. Keep it simple and effective and the loading time will be faster and the search engines can better index the code.

Tip 12: Lead and dominate your product category, market and branch of industry!

As online store owner you will publish a lot of information such as product descriptions, how-to manuals, blogs, movies, news letters and RSS Feeds. Make it into your target to lead your (potential) customers and only give them access to the information that according to you is suitable for them, and contributes to their buying products from you.

It is not about crossing ethical and moral borders, but about leading and directing your product category, market or branch of industry.

“Your customers want what you offer them, so do everything you can to give it to them… before the competition does!”

Such control gives you the possibility to build up a good understanding with your audience and convince them that a product you offer suits their needs or wishes. It is all about how you present yourself and psychology. This is essential if you want to become market leader and if you want they people listen to your messages…

This tip comes from the series 18 Short Tips for your online store. During 9 weeks, EcommerceIncome will publish a new tip on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Don’t miss a tip and subscribe to the EcommerceIncome newsletter!

Five things to blog about

A research report by Hubspot (PDF) concludes that B2C-companies that blog 9 to 15 times per month attract five times as many visitors to their site. This is, of course, related to SEO: Google ranks websites that stay up-to-date and that share valuable content higher. But you probably already knew that. The question is not whether you need to blog, but about what to blog. With this article I give you a number of starting points, enabling you to keep your blog fresh for the weeks or even months to come.

These tips are also very suitable for the Facebook page or the Twitter account of your online store!

1. Take the reader behind the scenes

Visitors – potential customers – would like to get to know you. Who is behind the online store? Can I trust him/her? Address this interest and introduce yourself and your colleagues in posts, show the office or warehouse, or tell what you learned or discovered during your last visit of a fair. People get to know you and trust you and at the same time you create unique content for your blog!

Screen Shot 2014-03-06 at 21.22.51

2. Share your passion

Related to the first tip: it is a good idea to share your passion for the profession with visitors. How did you get the idea to start an online store? Why did you choose for the products you have on offer? Which are your favourite products and why? Don’t focus so much on the properties and specs, but onthe advantages that you and the buyers enjoy with those products.

 3. Show your products from another vantage point

The abilities and features of your products are – should be – mentioned already in your online store. But why wouldn’t you elaborate a bit on the unique characteristics? Where do the materials come from, where are the products made and what makes them so unique? In combination with which other products can they be used?

It is also a good idea to let your customers speak. You probably get a thank you note or a photo from satisfied customers every now and then. Use it! Quote several happy customers in an article or even go to them and shoot a video. The result is a nice blog article in which visitors see how your customers enjoy, or are successful with, your products.

4. Help your readers

Imagine how you can help your readers. Which questions do they send you per e-mail? FAQs can be a good source for a new article. In a step-by-step plan or by way of a “how to”-video you can explain them how your products solve their problems. Look beyond your own range of products. Which problems and challenges does your target group have and how can you write a catchy article about it?

Presume that you sell camping gear. Problems and questions you can address with your blog post are for example the cold nights, mosquitos in the tent, cooking on just one gas burner, how to interact with other people on the campsite, etc. I can already think of a number of catchy titles. Make a good brainstorm and compose a list of questions your target group may have.

5. Quote from other sources

It is often thought that Google doesn’t like double content. That is, to a certain extent, true. You may, however, share (parts of) other pages on your blog, as long as you link to the source. In such a case Google is happy with you, because you help to map the internet. This is also Google’s aim.

How can you do that in a blog post? Quote for example experts who have something to say about developments in your industry. Share an infographic which already gathered many likes and shares. Or make a list of funny or interesting tweets. Fill up your article with an introduction in which you tell why you chose these quotes and add some nice concluding words.

What are your tips?

Although I am a fanatic when it comes to optimizing online stores, I don’t know everything. Therefore I would be happy to hear in which ways you created content for your blog and what impact this had on your online store. Share – and help each other!

Tip 11: It is about content

The use of bad content such as headers, product descriptions, fonts, colours, etc. in your online store can significantly reduce sales. Spelling mistake or typos, uninspired and boring product descriptions ensure that visitors will quickly leave your website again (within the earlier mentioned frame of 3-5 seconds). Prevent this type of mistakes, and keep your visitors in your online store.

The content of your online store should awaken an interest in your online stores, teach them something new and be a call-to-action to buy your products, read your blog or to subscribe for your newsletter. Use emotional trigger by focussing on advantages, experiences and results that potential customers can expect from your product.

Google constantly searchers for new content on websites. Especially content on blogs is considered as “fresh” and relevant and Google like to show this in search results. Especially for this reason I advise you to write and post a lot in a blog.

This tip comes from the series 18 Short Tips for your online store. During 9 weeks, EcommerceIncome will publish a new tip on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Don’t miss a tip and subscribe to the EcommerceIncome newsletter!

Compare the 5 competitors and try to beat your competitors on all fronts!

Consumers often compare on the internet, that’s a fact. They will probably look at 3 to 4 online stores. They compare these stores not only based on the price but on a number of aspects. When you beat your competitor on all these points you are sure there is no reason not to buy in your online store! I bet you that you will quickly achieve a conversion of 2%!

  • Customer service that is more easily reachable
  • A lower or no shipping fee
  • More product photos
  • Product videos
  • Free returns policy
  • An extra year guarantee

Etc.