Time for answer some questions from the folks who care enough to ask for my opinions and chide me for picking on ladies who use handkerchiefs. So, after a word from our sponsor, I give you today’s batch:
I read your comments the other day about the new store owner who was looking for advice on getting people to his store. As a new store owner myself, I sympathize with anyone trying to break into eCommerce, as it seems there is one challenge after the next. I know that getting my site into the search engines takes time and a lot of work and I’m fine with that. But having inventory sitting on a shelf waiting for someone to come and buy it is killing me. I tried to run some paid ads on Google and Bing, but I don’t know if they’re working and I’m confused if I really even set them up properly. When I search for things on my site, the ads come up, but this is so new to me I don’t know what I’m doing. I have money to spend, so I’m not operating on a shoestring, but that money has to last me through my startup period, are there companies that can help me but not rob me? -Kerry.
Congratulations on becoming an eCommerce store owner. I checked out your site on learn how to charge for local seo and it looks great! Glad to see you hired a design firm to give your store a professional look, that does go a long way in instilling customer confidence and showing that you’re serious about your business.
When it comes to pay-per-click advertising, you’re right. It’s confusing. You need to know what you’re doing or you will burn through money faster than a trust-fund baby. You need to make sure your ad copy is compelling, you’re targeting the proper keywords and most importantly – the ads are generating a positive return on investment. Since you’re new, there is plenty of time for you to learn the ins-and-outs of PPC as you grow your business. But like you said, inventory collecting dust isn’t helping your bottom line.
There are plenty of companies out there who will be more than willing to manage your online advertising for you. For a fee. In the interest of full-disclosure, the company I co-founded, later sold and continue to collect a check from, offers managed pay-per-click services as well as a host of other Internet marketing services for small businesses. Since you decided to build your site on the Yahoo! Store platform, in addition to Solid Cactus, I can recommend another firm that I’m familiar with – Exclusive Concepts. Like Cactus, they offer the same type of marketing services for businesses of all sizes.
Expect to pay either a flat-rate or a percentage of ad-spend, usually 10 – 20%, in addition to signing a contract for an average minimum of six months. A firm hired to manage your accounts will provide you with reports that shows ad spend, conversions and ROI so you know just how things are working out for you.
I encourage you to check out the companies I mentioned as well as others you may find online. Don’t be afraid to ask for references that you can ring up and see how the company is performing for the store owner.
I hired a firm to do a free SEO review of my website and one of the things they came back to me with was a warning about sites linking to mine. They said I should reach out to the store owners and request the links be removed. I don’t recall having asked for links to be placed on these sites, but I did hire a firm a few years ago to handle certain marketing tasks. I thought links to my site were a good thing, but now I’m being told they’re not. What do you think I should do? -Florian
Florian, sounds like the firm you hired may have bought links for you and placed them on sites that Google would deem “questionable.” In the past, this was a common practice, but as we all know… in the world of search engine optimization, things change constantly.
Keep in mind, not all inbound links are bad. Links on sites that are considered an authority by Google won’t hurt you. These are generally sites that feature good, quality content, have a good following of readers/visitors, are on-topic and aren’t spammy. One example of a good link to your site would be an article written on the subject matter of your site, that’s placed on a high quality blog, with a link to your site within the article and maybe one or two other links to external (authoritative) sites. An example of a bad link would be on one of those old fashioned text link pages that not only looks like spam to us, but Diablo to the search engines.
If you have a list of the sites that link to you, visit each one to see if it’s a site you really want to have a link on. If you think it’s a site that’s hurting your rankings, request for it to be removed. Link building isn’t dead, it just took on a new form.
My nephew just told me I should make videos for Vine. What is it and should I? -Melanie
Melanie, Vine is yet another social application designed to distract us from the real world and spend more time in front of our computers and iThingies. Officially though, Vine is an app for your phone that allows you to take six second videos of things and upload them so you can share with those who really get into this stuff.
There are companies out there doing these mini-videos and doing them well, but like anything, it takes time to create one that is going to go viral and provide meaningful benefit for your business. Experiment with it and you’ll find that by coming up with an idea, storyboarding it then doing six second take after take, you spend more time than it’s probably worth.
Many may disagree with me on all the points I made above about Vine, but how many of these things do we need? There simply isn’t enough time in the day to hang out on all these social media sites any more. It’s getting a little crazy! We’re becoming to connected to these websites and too disconnected from the reality of life around us.
But I digress. Vine is still very new. I don’t see it adding any value to your marketing efforts at this point in time. I’d like to hear from others if they have had any success with Vine this early in the game.
We’re investing in some high quality video equipment to do our own product demonstration videos which I’m very excited about. Some of our products have more detail than others and we’re wondering just how long a video should be? What are your thoughts? -Robbie
Well, Robbie. I wish there were a good answer for this, but there isn’t. For product demo videos, you should try to spend as much time as you need to get the most important, key features of your product in front of your viewers. But that doesn’t mean spending ten minutes describing an iPad case.
Unless you have really engaging content, I don’t think most people are going to stick around to watch a video for more than 3 minutes. That’s just me and my short attention span speaking. I believe you’re going to get more views and shares if you hit key features in a fun and engaging manner in a 90 to 120 second video. I know, I’m not sticking around for more than two minutes unless there’s so compelling I can’t take my eyes off the screen.
Like any method of marketing, the best thing you can do is experiment with videos of different length to see which ones get the most engagement from your followers and then use your findings to create videos that will generate the most bang for your buck.
Your article yesterday about handkerchiefs was very amusing, but I must disagree with you. Women don’t use handkerchiefs to blow their nose, we carry tissues for that. I can’t speak for what guys use them for, but I would tend to think us women are a little more dainty with our handkerchiefs. -Alison
Alison, I would love to think that as well, but I’ve seen far too many women use these as if they were mucous sample collection containers. And that’s far too disgusting for me! So dainty or not, please use them as a fashion accessory only and use a Kleenex for blowing.