The Importance of Your eCommerce Site for Your Business

It is plain to see why a poorly designed website can be a major problem to online businesses, most especially during the holiday season, which covers 20% to 40% of the yearly sales.

In this regard, those who need data validation can refer to the stats that explain the importance of your brand's presence on the Internet:

  • Before people shop at a physical store, they often check websites of online stores.

  • Customers search online for the prices and availability of goods so they would know whether to shop online or at physical stores.

  • During an economic crisis, consumers exercise caution when shopping online to stretch their budget, resulting to an increase of website traffic.

  • Shoppers that tend to purchase downloadable gifts like eBooks, music and FB credits, among others, will likely buy more.

Optimize Your Online Site Immediately

Now that you are aware of your site's importance, what should you do before the holiday season approaches? It is never too late to try some of these strategies:

Prepare for unexpected traffic.Plan ahead of time to make sure that your site can manage all the orders. Anticipate peak loads, observe the responsiveness of your site and assessment application performance way before Cyber ​​Monday.

Increase the speed of your site. Use a CDN (content delivery network) for a speedy delivery of relevant content with videos and images to your consumers.

During the holidays, most shoppers use their mobile devices to search online before heading for the stores. Therefore, it would be wise to incorporate an in-store experience with info regarding your well-timed and relevant personalized website and mobile apps.

Find ways to let the customers easily find your products on the web. To improve exposure, submit a feed to the top online shopping comparison engine, Google Product Search. Try the Amazon Marketplace or add pay-per-click ads to Amazon Product Ads' product and category pages. This way, shoppers will be able to view your ads when they find products that are similar to yours.

Although social media is not the main channel for searching, it has targeted the main stream and has since gained importance, specifically to GenY shoppers. Transform visitors into sales channels by including social sharing in product pages. Display good customer service in public by resolving issues with customers on networking sites like Facebook or Twitter.

People who are low on budget usually search online before buying, so it is a good idea to follow the example of various sites in making it fun, simple and efficient to shop on the web. Provide product filters, rich product details, comparison tools, well-designed navigation and recommendations. Enhance the images of your best-selling products, emphasize your value propositions and make sure that shipping and return policies are clear.

Fix your leaky conversion funnel immediately by adding simple and cost-efficient website usability and feedback tools.

Whenever possible, ask for the visitor's email address and try to squeeze a lot of value out of each sign-up.

Try to employ remarketing campaigns so you can target consumers who take time to buy.

Differences Between a Dive Bar and Club

In the United States, 21 is the magical age. Once a person turns 21, the world is practically opened up to her, and there aren’t any more age restrictions to worry about. One of the first things that a new 21-year-old typically wants to do is bar hop. However, there are a lot of different bars out there to choose from, and it can be a bit intimidating the first time around. Knowing what to expect from certain types of bars is handy and helps a person feel more relaxed.

Dive bars are popular among the younger age groups for various reasons. Dive bars tend to be much more relaxed, meaning they don’t require a cover charge and don’t have dress standards. For example, a Nob Hill dive bar might have a crowd full of college-age students wearing jeans and t-shirts. Dive bars also tend to have fairly cheap drinks and have a community feel among them. Although rare today, some dive bars might be so casual that they only accept cash for drinks.

Beer bars are a type of specialty bar. These bars specialize in offering a wide variety of beers for patrons to try. While most of them also serve cocktails, the main drink to try is a beer from their extensive list. This is a place to go for beer-lovers, and the age crowd at beer bars tends to be a little older.

Clubs are bars that also offer dancing and entertainment. Clubs are popular for their exciting nightlife, good music, and attractive customers. Clubs, unlike beer bars, rarely offer a wide variety of beer, but usually offer an extensive list of cocktails and hard alcohol. Most clubs have a dress code, so it’s important to know what to wear before trying to get in. Additionally, clubs usually require a cover charge in order to get in for the night.

Real Estate SEO for Beginners

The world of real estate is going through dramatic change and I don’t mean the current market upheavals caused by the change from a Seller’s market to a Buyer’s market.

Independent of price level there will always be buying and selling of homes going on. But the way people search for and find homes is in the middle of a dramatic change. The Internet is the great equalizer but also the great differentiator.

People searching online are not aware of your achievements, everybody is equal at first. If your website does not offer the design and services people appreciate they will not stay long enough to find out. This is where you can differentiate yourself.

But design and functionality are a secondary issue to the problem of how to get found in the first place. Use the analogy of websites being online business cards. New business cards are deposited not at the top of the pile but at the very bottom. Customers are picking up business cards from the top of the pile. SEO or search engine optimization deals with efforts to move ones business cards further up the pile so that customers can find one’s site through popular search engines.

So you have a new website. So you basically just had your business cards printed but nobody knows how to find them. Or even more dramatic you don’t even know if somebody is picking up your business cards and you don’t know if your business cards are in the big pile yet.

I would define SEO as the efforts to purposefully move ones website to be placed higher on the results page in response to a search query at a range of search engines.

But there are thousands of search engines out there. True. But all but 3 are irrelevant to your optimization efforts. Google, Yahoo and MSN control about 98% of all searches performed on the Internet. Focus on the three big search engines and the rest will take care of itself.

What is there to optimize? The aim is to be found by people searching for things that you offer on your website. When people search they do this textually by querying a search term or phrase. For you to optimize your site you first have to understand for which keywords or key phrases you want to be found. As I am practicing real estate in Aspen, Colorado and appropriate search term could be “Aspen Real Estate”.

Make sure you repeat your keywords and phrases on your homepage. Make the most important key phrase a headline and type it in a bold font.

It is important to understand that search engines are automated computer systems programmed by humans to evaluate the webs content without human interference. This means that search results are based on what is called a computer algorithm. This is basically a set of instructions for the computer on how to evaluate certain criteria and translate the results into a sequence of importance. Most important website first, least important website last.

The art and science of Search Engine Optimization is to try to understand what the search engines are looking for in a good site and then giving the search engine just that. The Google search engine algorithm probably looks at hundreds of different criteria. It is so complex that not even the engineers inside Google know the whole picture. Well you might say, how should none Google employees then know what to do?

Basically the most important fundamentals of what makes a good websites are known. Google for example uses a patented mathematical concept they called “Page Rank” at the root of their systems. Links are seen as votes. The more links are pointing to one website the more important that website must be. The more important the website is that votes for another website the more weight that vote caries.

So, try to get people to link to your website. It is important to know that links from website that have the same topic as your website seem to be more important than links from website that do not fit the subject. Links from other real estate related website are more important to my website then links from websites promoting toys.

Search engines like content rich websites. The more pages with useful content the better. Blogs are a great way to accumulate great on-topic content over a period of time. This is all the more important as search engines like website that have fresh content on a regular basis.

DMOZ.org is a human compiled directory of websites. Read their instructions carefully and submit your website to a relevant category. Yahoo and Google use this directory and it helps to be listed.

Generate a site map and place the xml file on your web server. A site map is basically a long list containing all your web pages in a format that is readable by computer programs employed by search engines to browse the web. These programs are called “bots” or “spiders”. This will help the search engines to find all the pages on your website. Remember, the more web pages the search engine knows about the better for you.

Search engines cannot read certain content. Graphical content is one such thing. If your site consists of mainly pictures the search engine will not understand what your site is about and therefore will not offer it as a result of a search. Make sure your site is text rich.

Real Estate website can have pages for the different subdivisions in the area serviced. Write a blog on the property of the week. Incorporate a section of “Frequently Asked Questions”. Write about yourself and give people a bio on you. Explain the buying and selling process. Offer sales statistics. The list goes on.

Get a program Like “Advanced Web Ranking” to search the search engines for search results containing your keywords. Optimization is fun when you start to see results. But manually looking for your website in search results is labor intensive and a good job for an automated program.

Read web forums and a couple of books on SEO once you are past the basics. The field is constantly evolving and there us tons more to learn.

10 Email Marketing Strategies to Dramatically Increase Your Sales

Email marketing is one of the most profitable strategies available to the online entrepreneur (and offline business owners, too).

Consider this: About 99% of your website visitors will leave without buying anything from you on their first visit. But by creating a great opt-in offer you can at least get their contact details — and then use email marketing to follow up, build relationships, and turn them into paying customers.

And email marketing is by far the BEST and CHEAPEST way to stay in touch with your customers and build rock-solid relationships with them — so they’ll buy from you again and again! (This is called the “lifetime value” of your customers, and it’s extremely profitable.)

Email marketing just plain works! Just take a look at these statistics from PostFuture:

  • There are now more than 1 BILLION Internet users worldwide — and 90% of them use email.
  • 70% of users receive opt-in email from online businesses.
  • 82% of online buyers have made at least one purchase in response to an email promotion.
  • 32% have made an immediate online purchase in response to an email.

With numbers like these, you can understand why I’m always stunned to hear about a business that STILL hasn’t started to take advantage of email marketing strategies.

If you’re stuck for ideas on how to use email marketing to ramp up your profits, here are 10 proven email marketing strategies to get you started…

Email marketing strategy #1: Develop relationships and establish credibility by offering free information

Sending your subscribers valuable, free information — such as an authoritative eBook — will help them get to know and trust you. Once you’ve established your credibility, you dramatically increase your chances of converting subscribers into lifelong customers.

You can offer anything from a free report to a free trial version of software… whatever you think your subscribers would like!

Email marketing strategy #2: Encourage repeat visits by announcing regular specials

Once you’ve started collecting email addresses, you can send your customers and subscribers regular updates letting them know what your specials are. Sending regular discount offers is a great way to get your customers familiar with you and your site — and turn them into regulars who will buy from you again and again.

Email marketing strategy #3: Host “Customer Only” events

Suppose you own a restaurant, and you’ve been collecting your customers’ email addresses. You could send each of them an email invitation to an exclusive wine-tasting evening for regular diners only. Rewards like this are one of the best ways to capitalize on the lifetime value of your customers.

If you own an online business, you can set up a special page on your site that is accessible only to customers — and then send them an email telling them how to take advantage of the specials you advertise on that page.

Email marketing strategy #4: Include promotions in appointment reminders

If you are running a service business, as opposed to a retail business, you can still capitalize on the power of email marketing by sending appointment reminders to your clients.

If you’re a karate teacher, for example, you could send your new clients an email three days before their first lesson, reminding them where you are located and when they need to arrive. In that same message, you could include a coupon that offers them 25% off their lessons if they bring a friend to enroll as well!

Email marketing strategy #5: Follow up with your hottest leads

You can use email to follow up with people you have spoken with personally, but who have not made a purchase. Offer to answer any additional questions they may have, and let them know that you are available to speak with them at their convenience. This can dramatically increase your chances of closing a sale by providing your leads with extra information they’re not expecting.

Email marketing strategy #6: Offer electronic “loyalty coupons”

This is a great way to get your existing customers to buy from you again and again. Simply send each of your customers a coupon that they can print and bring with them into your store or use on your website. It is always a good idea to make your coupons valid for a limited time only to motivate your customers to make a purchase from you as soon as possible.

Email marketing strategy #7: Send follow-up offers to your customers

Follow-up offers are one of the most powerful ways to build a profitable business. because they build on the trust you’ve established to close the initial sale — and turn first-time buyers into regular customers.

How profitable can follow-up email be? My team once sent our customers a follow-up email introducing them to a product that we thought they might like. The entire process of writing the email and sending it out took about 20 minutes — and the result was a direct profit of $74,000!

Email marketing strategy #8: Encourage “Send to a Friend” referrals

Email is a great way to encourage referrals because it’s easy for people to forward messages to their families, friends, and coworkers. Make sure every newsletter, offer, or eBook you send to your subscribers reminds them that they can forward your message to anyone they think might be interested.

You could even run a promotion that gives your existing customers something for free every time they personally refer a new customer to you.

Email marketing strategy #9: Deliver your product electronically

Suppose you’ve written a book and you’re currently selling paperback copies through your site for $29 each. By creating a digital version of your book — which is WAY easier than you’re probably thinking — you can simply email it to your customers.

And since you won’t have to worry about things like printing costs, warehousing, packaging, and delivery, you can DRAMATICALLY increase your profit margin!

Email marketing strategy #10: Use email to sell your knowledge and create recurring revenue

If you are an expert on a particular topic — and just about everyone is — then you’ve got a successful business based on a paid-subscription newsletter waiting to be born.

Of course there are tons of other email marketing strategies you can put to use. And once you realize just how easy it is to use it to drive sales, you’ll be thinking of all kinds of new strategies yourself!