So your shop is now live! Now what? We've put together this handy guide to help you on your way to a successful and profitable online business.
The most successful online shops are those that combine both online and offline marketing to draw people to their site. Bricks and mortar stores can rely on a bit of foot traffic, but the internet doesn’t offer that luxury. Over time you may generate traffic from search engines such as Google but to get started you will be relying on more direct methods, such as past customers, word of mouth, social networking and traditional advertising.
Storbie has done most of the work for you, providing a robust and professional shopping experience for your customers. The important part for you is the content. Do you have information pages that describe your business, origins, guarantees and return policies? Will the customer feel confident they could track you down if you didn’t deliver? These are the types of checks a customer will do before purchasing from an online shop for the first time.
Your banner is another clear message of quality. Is it clear and attractive or fuzzy and squashed? We recommend asking some honest friends for feedback to see if there are ways your banner can be improved. Do you need help? Let us know!
Register your shop with major search engines and directories. This will help bring new customers to your shop, especially as your shop's online reputation grows. Here are a few key ones to get you started -
Embrace social media. Our analysis of our most successful shops highlights one common theme, almost all of them have embraced the power of social networking to build a community of interest around their products. At this time Facebook is the most important social network to embrace, so we will cover that in some detail here. Once you have that up and running you may wish to investigate others. Twitter and Instagram are other very popular social networks.
Some people make a personal choice not to engage with social networks such as Facebook. That is fine for individuals, but for people wanting to run a business online it is a must have. Social networking can be intimidating at first, but if you are passionate about your products then it will quickly add value and enjoyment to your online venture. It provides an engaged audience to whom you can actively promote and discuss your products, specials, tips and tricks.
At Storbie we have our own social media pages. Take a look, both for inspiration and to stay current on new and upcoming features at Storbie, at https://www.instagram.com/storbiecommerce/ and https://www.facebook.com/smallfishnz/
Check out our blog on How to Choose the Right Social Media Platform for your Online Business, and discover how you can Add Quick Links to Your Social Media Accounts.
Monitor your visitor numbers and sources. Tracking how your visitors arrive at your site can help you focus your marketing energy. Not to mention it is a lot of fun! Storbie supports the integration of Google Analytics. Google Analytics is a free service that produces very detailed reports about visitors to your site including how they found your site and what geographical region they came from. See the Google Analytics section on the Connections page in the Manage Shop area of your shop. Be sure to check out the other features available on the Connections page, such as Facebook and AddThis integration.
Remember to include your web address on all stationary, letters, etc.
Search engines rank popular websites higher than others. So the more websites that link to your shop the higher your site will appear in the search results. One way to do that is to offer to put a link on your shop to another site if they will do the same for you.
Do you know anybody who writes a 'blog'? If you know someone who writes a blog that is relevant to your business, talk to them about including a positive message about your website. Or see if you can be a guest blogger to provide some insight into your industry. This is a great way to get people to your site and helps your site rank higher in search engines (e.g. Google).
You may also want to start your own blog to regularly communicate updates with your customers and help boost content for your site and SEO. Here’s how to add a blog to your Storbie website. Here is a great example of a Storbie shop using a Blog in their shop.
Include keywords in the text on your pages. Keywords are important for many reasons. They help lead shoppers to your website via search engines, and they make it clear as to what you’re selling. Assume every visitor is viewing your website for the first time – the text included on your page and products should spell out simply what’s on offer. “Ruby Red” as a product name doesn’t tell a shopper or search engine anything helpful. But “Ruby Red Sheer Scarf” does. It might seem obvious, but it’s a basic step that is often missed.
The words on your website matter, so use relevant keywords and focus on correct spelling and grammar.
Paid web advertising is available. Google Adwords is particularly popular. You can expect to pay a small fee for each person it brings to your shop so we recommend you trial it for a short period to see whether you get a return on your investment. You can tightly control the amount that you spend on advertising by specifying a maximum budget per day ($5.00 for example) and stop/pause it at any time. See http://www.google.co.nz/adwords for more information. Facebook also offers a similar advertising scheme. They are particularly useful for building fans of your Facebook page.
Contact your local community newspapers about your site. Perhaps they will print an article about your new venture.
Create ads in online and printed business directories and classified. Appearances in online directories may help boost your search engine ranking.
Whenever you make a sale through alternative channels (auctions, markets, etc), ensure that you inform the buyers about your site. Ideally include a business card.
Email all your friends and tell them about your site. Ask them to share with their friends too. This is also a great way to get feedback.
Try to have a point of difference. It is important to think about why a customer would come to your shop instead of the local shopping mall or another site. Do you have unique products, great prices, something that can't be found in stores? If your products are unique then marketing is especially important as customers won't know to look for them!
Website products and specials. Consider offering your products online at a slightly lower price than through other sources. This helps build customer loyalty. A good example is any items you sell by auction. By letting the customer know they can get the items at a lower price directly from your site then they may come straight to you next time, instead of back to the auction site where they could be side-tracked by other offers. Read more about promotions here.
Consider free shipping. If it appropriate for your products then consider free shipping, even if it means raising your product prices to compensate. A lot of shopping carts are abandoned when the customer sees the shipping price added during the checkout process. Free shipping is a powerful message to include on your promotional material too. Here is great blog post regarding shipping.
Create some signage for your business. There’s a reason why billboard advertising has been around for so long. But you don’t need a twenty-metre high LED sign to let people know about your store. A simple logo with web address (especially if it’s short and sweet) can suffice in a well-placed location.
If your home is on a busy street, consider putting up a sign on your fence or front window, and talk to friends who may have opportunities they can offer you. Do a lot of driving? There are magnetic signs that can be applied to the side of your vehicle, or you may wish to look at sign writing.
If you choose to go down the professional track, do your research to ensure you’re getting maximum exposure for your dollar.
Newsletters. Connect with your customers by creating a regular newsletter. You can include new products, special offers, company updates, and deals. Add it as an option throughout your website including at check out. Storbie integrates your website with e-marketing systems to make this an easy option.
Add some great images to your site. Professional photos equate to a professional website. The better your website looks, the more time shoppers will want to spend browsing on it.
Read how to Create Stunning Product Photographs to Suit Your Brand and Budget.
It can take a while for internet business to build up. For example, the search engines and directories may take days, weeks or even months to add your site to their directories. Don't lose heart if there are no sales immediately. Keep at your marketing and you'll start seeing great results.
For more marketing tips, see our blog article 22 Marketing Tips to Promote Your Online Shop