Yesterday I had the pleasure of hosting a Solid Cactus webinar where for 90 minutes we discussed various aspects of Internet marketing for eCommerce stores including pay-per-click, search engine optimization, comparison shopping engines, social media and email marketing.
I’ve hosted nearly 200 of these things over the years and despite my nearly two decades of eCommerce experience, I always end up learning something new. That’s why webinars like this one are important for online store owners to attend. I look at them as continuing education for the eCommerce entrepreneur.
As we all know, the online world is constantly changing – and most of the time nobody gives us a “head up” when changes are coming. Take Google for example. The search engine we love to hate but can’t do business without, is constantly tweaking their algorithm which decides which websites are displayed in the search results for a specific keyword.
Those tweaks come without warning, and for many online retailers, have deadly consequences if they’re trying to game the system. When Google rolled out their Penguin and Panda updates, many long established merchants were left scrambling when their sites got penalized for practices once common in the world of search engine optimization, but now are frowned upon.
In order to keep up with what’s going on, presentations like the one yesterday should be attended by store owners. I know first hand how many hats a store owner can wear during the day and how difficult it is to get a few minutes of peace to catch up with the latest Internet marketing news and trends. So when you have an hour or two that you can free up and attend a session like this and hear from the experts who live and breathe this stuff on a daily basis, you can walk away with valuable tips you can use to enhance your online business.
If you were unable to attend the webinar, have no fear. I’ve uploaded a copy of it to YouTube so you can watch it in your leisure time and share it with other store owners who you think can benefit from the information presented.
In a nutshell, here are some bullet points we covered during the presentation:
- Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising is a great way to get traffic to your site quickly, but if you don’t manage it correctly you can end up burning through cash with very little return on investment. If you’re considering PPC for the first time, unless you really know what you’re during, hire a pro.
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO) isn’t a one and done deal. Good SEO practices take time to yield long lasting results. Everything you do on your website should be done with SEO in mind. And never, ever use tactics to try to trick the search engines, it will only come back to bite you later on.
- Email marketing is a very effective form of retention marketing. Exact Target, a provider of email marketing software, conducted a survey that revealed 77% of online consumers prefer to get marketing messages via email, making this a valuable tool to drive repeat business to your store.
- If you’re selling a product and aren’t listing your products in the Comparison Shopping Engines (CSE) such as Pricegrabber, Google Shopping, Nextag, BizRate, etc., you should give it some serious consideration. Most people who are shopping on a CSE are in the buying stage making them ripe for the picking.
- Are you blogging? Well, you should be. An important part of a good SEO strategy should include a blog. Write interesting, relevant blog posts that your customers (and others) will find useful. Use your expertise in your product field and impart that experience and knowledge in your blog posts. Interesting and helpful articles will keep people coming back to your blog.
- Blog posts can be used as a springboard for other areas of Internet marketing such as email where you can send out a blast to your customers letting them know of a new and highly informative article that is now available on your blog that you think they can benefit from.
- When writing articles on your blog, avoid keyword stuffing (the use of keywords over and over again in an attempt to trick the search engines) and make sure any links you include in your article are to relevant sites and the links are placed naturally and organically.
- Drive traffic to your blog by including links to it in your email footer, on your website, in your email marketing efforts and by posting links from it to your social media pages. And make sure that you’re using the best wordpress hosting service available.
- When designing landing and section pages for your website, make sure you focus on quality! Make sure your introductory text is well written, natural sounding, not spammy in nature and reads well if read aloud. The design of the page should ultimately convince the customer to make a purchase.
- When writing content for landing and section pages, keep your word count around 175 – about two paragraphs. The content can be above or below your featured products.
- If you’re not actively engaging with your customers in social media, now is a great time to start. It’s a great way to connect with your customers while at the same time showing off your brand’s unique personality. Many times current and potential customers will reach out to a business to ask a question on a social media site rather than by phone or using the website’s “contact us” page.
- Make sure you place links to your social media pages in your email templates, on your website, on your blog, anywhere a customer can see them so they “friend” you on their network of choice.
- A great way to encourage a customer to follow your social media sites is to follow up with them a few days after an order was placed or when they sign up for your email list and encourage them to follow you on social media.
- If you sell products that are gift-y, visually appealing and can be perfect for “wish lists” consider signing up and using Pinterest. While originally it was a female dominated audience who gravitated to the visual photo sharing website, more and more men and now using it as well making it the perfect channel for visual marketing.
- Consider using contests to promote your store and products on Facebook. A great place to start is RaffleCopter.com which offers both a free and paid service. Try out the free contests available to help drive page “likes” and have some fun with your customers. Be sure to let your email subscribers know about the contest as well and direct them to your Facebook page to take part.
- When using Twitter, remember who your audience is. Only tweet when you have something to say that your audience will be interested in.
- Use Google Think to discover up and coming topics and trends that you can use to craft tweets and other social media postings. What’s current right now makes for great conversation and interaction with your followers.
- If you want to know what people are searching for, use Google Trends and craft posts and even PPC campaigns around what’s trending at the moment.
- Just because you don’t have the lowest price doesn’t mean you can’t compete in the CSE’s. Many shoppers find that paying a few dollars more for an item but not having to pay for shipping is more of an incentive than a lower price.
- Stay on top of your competition, not only with pricing, but what they’re doing with marketing, promotions, new items, etc. During the webinar I told the story of how I would order once a month from my competitors just to see what’s going inside their boxes, how items were packed, if they follow-up with emails asking how my experience was, etc. It’s valuable info you can use to help in your business.
These are just a few take-aways, the webinar has tons of more information in it that I feel you can benefit from. Also, some of our attendees asked some great questions that we answered at the end, so don’t forget to catch those as well!