Monday, November 23, 2009

The 4 Steps to Achieve Top Search Engine Rankings

The success of your online business requires that potential customers can easily find you. One way to increase your online presence is through a well thought out website marketing strategy. The 4 steps below detail specific areas of focus that would be part of a typical web marketing strategy.

1. Website Optimization - This involves maximizing your website content so that it targets your specific business niche. Meta tags and particularly meta titles should reflect the keywords that best describe your site content. Pages should be organized hierarchically with a clearly defined and organized site map. Also consider linking to your best content (that content that is most important or defines your business, product or service offered) directly from the home page.

2. Link Building - The more inbound links to your website, the better it is for you. Every inbound link is like a "vote" for your site. A link building campaign seeks to not only increase the number of inbound links but also to ensure that these links are relevant and accurate. This is one case where quality is just as important as quantity. For example, the inbound link anchor text (the wording that you click on when you select the link) should be descriptive of the page that it links to. Achieve relevance by focusing your link building efforts on sites within your topical niche. Focus your marketing efforts on the biggest, most authoritative sites within that niche.

3. Website Marketing - This is the ongoing process of creating relevant and interesting content for your site and then getting that content indexed in the places that you've identified above. The information must be topical and you should use the search keywords and phrases you're targeting throughout your page or article as they apply. For an e-commerce site this might include adding specific keywords to a product description or title. Another great way to achieve this is to create a press release for the content you would like to feature.

4. Measurements: Analytics and ROI - Once a customer visits your site each action they take can be tracked and recorded. These cumulative records become the measurements that are translated into useful information to give you the results you need. For example, where does a user come from when they access your site? How long on average do they stay and what pages are most visited? What is your conversion rate, in other words how many visits turn into actual sales? Obviously, these are questions that any business owner is interested in the answer to.

Your online business can benefit in numerous ways from a web marketing strategy that employs the steps listed above. Once you apply these changes and implement the tools needed to track and measure your site visitors you will see the results.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

How to Convert a Visitor Into a Customer, and Get Them to Return Again

Your website may represent a major source of revenue for your business. Or, maybe it represents a very small source of revenue. Regardless of what that percentage is converting the people that visit your site into customers, and ideally into repeat customers, is important to the success of your online business.

Did you know that you can actually measure how your website is doing in regards to converting new visitors into customers? It's called a conversion rate. Here are a couple of pointers to get you started on thinking about ways to improve your conversion rate on your e-commerce website.

1. Price your product competitively: This goes without saying. You must know who your direct competitors are and price your product competitively.

2. Offer discounts and coupons: This is a wonderful way to encourage someone who might be on the fence about making a purchase. Offering free shipping can help convince a customer to purchase from you instead of from a local competitor that may have a physical storefront.

3. Make sure that your products are easy to find: Setup and use categories on your site so that your customers can find the product they are looking for easily. Many sites today have a search-like filter feature that allows customers to filter the results returned by options like price, size, or brand.

4. Make customer reviews available on your site: A great price is important to customers but a great product is just as important. Reading what other customers think of your products and service helps potential customers make that final decision about their purchase. Sometimes a customer will even suggest another product that may compliment their purchase!

5. Provide fast, excellent customer service: Another one that goes without saying. Once a customer places an order keep them up-to-date on their order status through email updates. Clearly post your return, shipping and privacy policies on your site.

6. Provide an incentive for them to return: Once a week send your customers an e-newsletter including a discount or offer. Also, designate a section of your site and e-newsletter to include links (and images) to new products.

Follow up by implementing tracking tools to report on visits and conversions so that you can measure the success of your efforts. Happy selling!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Leverage Your Website to Survive in a Slowing Economy

Your Ecommerce site serves your business in many ways. During tough times business owners must cut costs, look for new opportunities, and provide excellent customer service just to name a few things. Making improvements in the way you conduct online business is essential to surviving in this economy.

Let's look at a few concrete examples that will illustrate how your business can implement new strategies in order to streamline, expand and increase revenue for your business.

1. Cut Costs: If you already have a website, consider what your return on that investment has been. Maybe you are already selling online and making a decent profit, but you spend too much time processing credit cards, shipping orders and tracking inventory. Consider an automated payment gateway, printing your shipping labels right from your ecommerce administration area, or synching your inventory control system to your website.

Maybe you don't have an ecommerce website. That doesn't mean that your website isn't generating money for your business. Every visitor to your site is a potential customer, so your website is a marketing tool for your company. Have you engaged in a web marketing campaign in the last year? A web marketing campaign can be a third of the cost of a traditional print campaign and a quarter of the cost of a tv or radio campaign. When your customers need a product or a service they go to a search engine to find what they are looking for. Web marketing is one way to make sure that they find you first.

2. Look for new opportunities: Now is the time to think about what direction you are taking in regards to the technology you have implemented. If you offer a product and you aren't selling online then you may be losing potential customers. Your first assignment is to get your product online. Make sure that you also allow your customers to purchase gift certificates as these can represent substantial revenue for your business.

If you are selling online already then you have a customer base. Create a new opportunity for your business by marketing to your customer base. If you have a list of customers that have bought from you before then send an e-newsletter with an offer or a coupon. Make it a habit to send one of these out every month.

If you are not selling online it doesn't mean that you can't start collecting customer information and sending a monthly update. Keeping your customers informed about industry news and providing them with your expertise is a great way to keep your company (and the service you provide) fresh in their mind. It is a wonderful value add and the return on this investment can be huge.

3. Provide incredible customer service: We have already discussed the value an e-newsletter when it comes to customer service. If you have an online store consider using that e-newsletter to send discounts and offers. Customers that have established a relationship with a business will likely continue that relationship if they are being offered a great product at a great price.

Another sure fire way to please your return customers is to offer a rewards points system. This will help increase the rate of return which helps to increase revenue.

Potential customers coming to your site are looking for a great price - but they are also looking for a great product. Consider implementing customer reviews, these are reviews written by your customers about the products that you are selling. These are an important tool in converting a potential sale into an actual sale.

Again, just because you don't offer a product for sale you must still keep current customers happy. We already discussed offering a monthly e-newsletter to share your expertise and recent industry news. If you are not sure how your customers are responding to your business why not create an online survey to help identify areas that you may need to improve.

Your website is a marketing tool for your business. It has the potential to be a major source of revenue as well. If you leverage this peice of technology in the correct way you can save money, grow your customer base and survive in this financial downturn.