Every now and then I get an email that prompts a blog post and in my mailbox this morning was one of them. With the permission of the emailer, I’m answering it here in the hopes my advice can help more than just the gal I’ll call Ethel.
“I have a small eCommerce store that sells handmade wall plaques. We’ve been in business for five years now and our sales have gone down the past two years. We still buy ads on Google, but we are fearful about trying other forms of advertising because money is tight. Do you have any advice for us?”
After a series of follow-up questions, I found out the following:
Pay-Per-Click ads are running on Google, but they’re not optimized or tracked for ROI.
Believe it or not, most small business owners are in the same boat. Unfortunately, you’re probably wasting a lot of money. In order to have an effective Google Ad Words campaign that generates positive ROI you need to do plenty of keyword research, look at ads that are making or losing you money, tweak the ones that aren’t providing a good enough return and turn off the ones that are burning through cash without a return. You also need to set up tracking from the moment a shopper clicks your ad until they either leave your site or place an order.
The store has no social media presence.
Shame, shame! At the minimum, an eCommerce store should have a presence on Facebook and Twitter. Once you get those two mastered, move on to LinkedIn, Pinterest and the others out there. Social media is extremely important for building a base of loyal customers who follow you and buy from you. You can use these outlets to share new product information, answer customer questions, provide specials only available through these channels and best of all, it’s all free! Of course it takes time and effort to manage your social media accounts and provide your followers with relevant content, but you need to do it.
Email addresses are collected, but nothing is ever done with them.
Ok, this one needs this – shame, shame, shame! Three shames! Those email addresses are gold. They are customers who have purchased from you, liked your products and will order again if given a gentle reminder. Email marketing, when done right, can be a highly successful form of sales generation. All it takes is a minimum of two emails a month with a compelling offer, a new product announcement, or details on an upcoming sale.
No new products have been added since the store opened.
Since the products are handmade, I would think that there would be plenty of opportunity to create new items, discontinue old ones and keep a steady stream of new and exciting products flowing. I’m concerned that the store owner is stuck in a rut and innovation is being stifled because of frustration.
After a quick look at the store itself, I noticed the copyright date says 2009, it lacks many features “modern” eCommerce sites have. The design is an out-of-the-box template with the company logo stuck in the header and an unbranded checkout. A redesign should be done every 18 months to keep the store fresh and up-to-date.
There are plenty of other areas I could dive into here, but these are just a few of the things I found that are holding this business back from making real money. A investment in a redesign and some help with marketing will go a long way should the store owner decide to bite the bullet.
One thing to remember, if you don’t have the knowledge or expertise to tackle some of the issues I pointed out here, get professional help. There are companies that specialize in managing PPC advertising, content creation for SEO, social media management, email marketing and general business advice. Since their business evolves around making yours successful, they should be more than willing to talk with you, propose a solution and get you back on the track to success.