The Internet Marketing Toolbox

The Internet Marketing Toolbox

For those not mechanically inclined, looking through a toolbox can be overwhelming. It’s frustrating when something is broken, but you’re not sure which tool to use.

Such is the problem for many online business’ when gazing into the vast array of tools available in internet marketing. As with any tool, the internet marketing tactics are best when used for their intended purpose. Despite what any consultant says, there is no one web marketing tactic that works for everyone, in all situations. Below is a guide to help you choose the proper tools for your unique marketing needs.

Search Engine Optimization

When to use it:

When you have time, and can patiently wait for results
When people are already searching for your product/service
When you serve a local market (competition is much less)

When not to use it:

When you need results fast
When people don’t know they need your product (more often than not, extremely innovate products with little competition fair poorly with SEO, because no one is searching for them)

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The Web Marketer Who Cried Wolf

The Web Marketer Who Cried Wolf

It’s a dilemma we’ve all faced: sales are hurting for the month, and you’re in danger of missing your goal. You know that if you send one more marketing email to your list (or any campaign for that matter), you’ll hit the target. After all, you’ve calculated your averages – a 15% open rate, 30% click-through rate, 2% conversion rate, therefore you’ll generate X dollars in sales, right?

Will it work? Yes. Will it work next month? Maybe. Will it still work after this tactic of desperation has been used for months? Absolutely not.

When the cost of an additional marketing endeavor is virtually nothing, the directive from management will always be the same. “Do it more!”

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Have You Created a Frankensite?

Have You Created a Frankensite

It starts with a clean, professional, easy to use website.

Then you launch a new product line, so you add a new button/ad/page, etc. Innocent enough right?

Next your company receives an award from an industry publication. Why not show it off on the homepage?

Then you read an article about a Google Adsense millionaire. Why not throw a few ads in, and pick up some extra revenue?

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Is Your Customer Service Offensive or Defensive?

Is Your Customer Service Offensive or Defensive

As much as customer service is all the rage, and heralded as the new marketing, it’s still viewed as a cost-centre by most online businesses. This I believe, is entirely due to a defensive approach to customer care.

Defensive customer service can be defined as any type of reactive customer servicing such as answering calls, responding to email inquiries, or responding to live chat sessions.

Providing good defensive customer service will never result in a flood of new business for two reasons:

You will only have personal contact with a fraction of your total customers. (those who have questions, problems, etc.) Only this small segment will be impacted by your excellent service. Note the uniqueness of this situation, in a brick-and-mortar world, you do have personal contact with each and every customer.

Good service is an expectation. Yes, some companies like Zappos go above and beyond customer expectations with extraordinarily helpful service, including referring customers to competitors for products they don’t stock. But for the most part, good service is a requirement for doing business.

At it’s very best, good defensive customer service will only prevent you from losing what you already have. It will not, by itself, create hoards of new word of mouth business. Unless… you change the paradigm.

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Web Marketing Success in 3 Words

Web Marketing Success in 3 Words

It’s staggering to consider how many marketing failures are the result of broken promises.

We rarely think of it this way, but every button, every subject line, every headline on our website is a promise. Whether or not that promise is kept determines whether we win the trust of our visitors, or lose them for good.

To illustrate, let’s take a look at a fictional shopping scenario, not unlike an experience that happened to me recently.

  • Customer receives an email from electronics retailer with subject line “HDTV’s Starting at $700″
  • Customer opens email and finds a graphic showing only 1 TV and no details. BROKEN PROMISE:
  • Subject line promised an HDTV for $700, but email contains no support for this theme
  • Customer clicks on Button that says “Shop HDTV’s”, and is taken to the website’s homepage, which differs completely in the look and feel of the email creative. BROKEN PROMISE: Button claimed to let visitors begin shopping the TV models, instead they’re left stranded on a seemingly unrelated page
  • Visitor reaches HDTV category page displaying dozens of HDTV models. The $700 model is the last item on page 5. BROKEN PROMISE: This retailer made it very difficult find the $700 TV model promised in the subject line
  • Once on product page, customer clicks “Add to Cart”
  • Customer lands on a page upselling the extended warranty. BROKEN PROMISE: Customer received no confirmation that item has been added to cart

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Survey Says… You’re Not Getting the Right Feedback from Your Customers

Survey Says… You’re Not Getting the Right Feedback from Your Customers

Nearly every business collects feedback from their customers, and rightfully so. Yet something has always bothered me about the way most online businesses elicit customer suggestions and criticism: they usually get it from their best customers.

In other words, the people most likely to give feedback are the people who spend the most money. So what’s the problem with this? Simply put, these are the people who’ll give you the least helpful advice. Let me explain…

Here’s the 2 types of people that volunteer feedback:

the first time customer, who is excited about your products/services
the long time customer, who has an ongoing relationship with your business
Here’s the problem: if we only receive feedback from the paying customers, what is everyone else thinking? After all, if your products suck, or your website is broken, people leave, they don’t hang around to give input.

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Top 10 eCommerce Startup Mistakes

Top 10 eCommerce Startup Mistakes

If you have any experience working in eCommerce, I’m going to bet you can list 10 mistakes you’ve made, or have seen others make while running their online store. Or maybe you’re currently setting up shop online, and need some advice on what pitfalls to avoid.

Below are 10 eCommerce startup mistakes I’ve encountered while working with online businesses. Specifically, many of these blunders are made by companies who are taking a traditional business online for the first time.

#1 – Blowing the budget on web development and neglecting marketing:

In the brick and mortar world, you get free traffic just by setting up shop on the street corner. The same does not apply for eCommerce. The “if you build it, they will come” mentality still exists in the minds of zealous, first time internet entrepreneurs. If you want a successful website, plan on spending as much on marketing and optimization in the first year as you pay for developing the site.

#2 – Getting Stuck in Endless Cycles of Design Revisions:

In traditional marketing or store operations, you have to get it right the first time, because it’s too expensive to redo your store signage a week after you open. However, the tools available to you online allow you to easily evolve and optimize your website overtime. As General George Patton once said, “A good plan today is better than a perfect plan tomorrow.” The same applies to websites. Don’t expect a perfect website on day one. Rather than focusing on perfection, make a commitment to optimization after the website launches.

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The Ultimate Holiday Checklist for E-Commerce Success

The Ultimate Holiday Checklist for E-Commerce Success

I’m making the list, be sure to check it twice to ensure success for your e-commerce website this holiday season.

Offer Bounce Back Discounts: Your site will be flooded with traffic this holiday season. How can you harness that traffic to create year long business? Consider offering a good discount incentive for customers to come back and shop in January. You can automatically email them a coupon after each order, or send one along with the package. Don’t forget to email and remind customers to come back and use their discounts.

Loosen Up & Emphasize Your Return Policy: While a 30 day return policy is commonplace for the rest of the year, it may scare off early shoppers during the holidays. Make it clear to your visitors that you will accept returns and exchanges on all Christmas gift purchases. Be sure to let visitors know early and often about your policy, such as on product pages and the shopping cart.

Review Past Failures & Successes: Try this as you plan your busy holiday season. Take a look at you and your competitor’s website’s through the lens of the Wayback machine. What worked and didn’t work last year? What can you improve upon?

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12 Ways to See Your Website for the First Time

12 Ways to See Your Website for the First Time

What’s possibly the #1 problem preventing you from improving your website?

You.

As much as we want to believe website optimization is all about tactics and strategy, often the key to success lies in our own behavior. In order for optimization to occur, we first have to properly collect and interpret data about our websites. However, if the daily processes which we use to collect data are overly systematic and rigid, inevitably out of the box thinking will cease to exist.

Let face it, we all get into ruts by doing things in the same old way. So how can we change perspectives and see our website through a different lens? Here’s 12 ways to help you look at your website as if it were the first time.

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3 Remedies for a Web Analytics Overdose

3 Remedies for a Web Analytics Overdose

“Not enough information” – here’s a problem the web marketer never has. Rather, the opposite is true, too much information, especially when it comes to web analytics. So how can we make sense out of the myriad of data we’re confronted with? Here’s 3 remedies for the all to common web analytics overdose.

Remedy #1 – Focus on the Few, Not the Many
“If I look at the mass I will never act. If I look at the one, I will.” — Mother Theresa

People know millions of children are starving in Africa, yet rarely act on this knowledge. But what if one of these children showed up on their doorstep? Who wouldn’t act to help this child? The emotional connection with a single child trumps the astonishing, but paralyzing knowledge that millions of children are starving.

Sometimes we’re so fixated on the mass of data before us we forget there are people behind the pageviews. Have you ever stood behind someone as they used your website? Don’t just watch how they interact with the site, watch their demeanor. Ask them how they felt about the experience. Clickpaths rarely tell the whole story. What happens between the clicks matters. How the customer feels about the experience matters even more. Try focusing on just a few experiences, whether by observing people directly, or using a visual analytics tool such as Clicktale.

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