The following article appeared in the Grow Smart Biz blog from Network Solutions.
Entrepreneurs looking to start an online business come to us to develop not only a great looking and converting eCommerce store, but also a plan to help them grow and become successful in their online venture.
We start out by discussing the client’s goals and long term vision. We then provide them with a solution on a platform they can grow with and a store with the features they need to get started. As their business grows, we continue to work with them on tweaking their store, adding new features, and proposing a marketing plan.
Our team of Internet marketing pros works with the client to create and manage pay-per-click advertising campaigns, search engine optimization plans, social media management and other ways to drive traffic to the store.
Once the traffic is there, we offer the business owner assistance with customer service and administrative tasks by introducing them to our call center team. The call center offers affordable outsourced customer service solutions that include answering phones, replying to email, taking orders, live chat and more.
I’m very proud of the fact that we have built the complete package of services for our customers that makes us a true one-shop-stop for ecommerce store owners. No other developer offers the complete suite of services that we offer giving our clients a single point of contact for all their needs as their businesses grow.
Solid Cactus: An Entrepreneurial Success
Way back in 1994, my partner and I started one of the first ecommerce stores selling ferret supplies! Back then the Internet was very new and the concept of shopping online wasn’t taken very seriously. But we had the foresight to see that ordering from a computer was going to be the new way of doing business, so we embraced it and moved forward with launching an online store.
We built that business up by grass-roots marketing, educating people on the Internet and how easy it was to shop from home, and it stuck.
As our sales grew year over year, we expanded into other product lines and other ecommerce stores – 39 in total. We because one of the Internet’s true success stories and garnered a lot of press in major publications like the Wall Street Journal,Entrepreneur Magazine and USA Today, and our story was told in college classes all over the country.
As word of TheFerretStore.com began to spread, we were getting a lot of calls from people wanting advice on how to start their own online store and calls from people looking for help growing their existing stores.
Realizing there was a need for a service like this, we launched what we called Solid Cactus. It started out as a company that built eCommerce websites for other entrepreneurs. Word of our services quickly began to spread and we started adding people to our original group of three employees.
In 2006, we ended up selling TheFerretStore.com and our other ecommerce stores in order to concentrate on growing Solid Cactus. In the ensuing years we added Internet marketing and call center services to our suite of products and were named one of the “Best Places to Work” in Pennsylvania for three consecutive years.
We were acquired by Web.com in April 2009 and since then we have continued to grow, expand our product offerings and make me proud of the little company we started 11 years ago.
What Small Business Need Does Solid Cactus Serve?
Solid Cactus was founded based on the principle of helping other small businesses become successful online. I am proud to look back at some true success stories – businesses that came to us in the beginning with an idea of selling X product online and today are in the Internet Retailer Top 500.
We serve a unique niche of ecommerce store owners. Store owners who are passionate, driven and in this for the long haul. They know that by coming to Solid Cactus with their business plan, we will provide them with a solution – and a path for success – that they can afford.
Someone signing on with us knows that we will be there for them every step of the way as their business grows and the marketplace changes. A lot of companies say they do that, but we have a team of 150 people here who take our customers’ success very seriously and take great pride in knowing that what they are doing today will make that customer a big success tomorrow.
3 Marketing Tips for Small Businesses
1. Be patient. As much as we like instant gratification, the Internet isn’t the Field of Dreams. Just because your launch an ecommerce website today doesn’t mean you’ll get 50 orders tomorrow. It takes time to build up good organic search engine rankings and tweak pay-per-click advertising so it brings traffic that converts. Just because the orders aren’t coming in fast and furious right after launch doesn’t mean you give up hope. Marketing is a series of experiments and it takes some testing to determine what works and what doesn’t. Give it time, and good marketing will pay off!
2. Embrace social media. I hear a lot of store owners say they don’t have the time to be on Facebook and Twitter. Social media is a great place to get free advertising for your business by building a community of fans who love your products and services and will share their opinions on them with other users within their circles. Social Media is the new form of word of mouth advertising and every store owner should be engaging with their customers and fans on a daily basis.
3. Watch your ROI. You’re going to spend a good deal of money on pay-per-click advertising to attract customers to your store. Don’t get caught spending more money than you’re bringing in. Advertising should have a positive ROI (return on investment) and there are plenty of tools out there to determine if you’re getting the best bang for your buck with your advertising. I’ve seen many people burn through money on PPC ads and have little to no ROI. If you’re one of those people or if you don’t know if your marketing is generating a positive ROI – get professional help! Hire a company like Solid Cactus to manage your PPC campaigns – they’re trained on getting you the positive ROI you need to make your bottom line look as good as it can be.