An Intro. To E-Commerce

Why Should I integrate?

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$364 billion dollars were spent in e-commerce alone in 2012 in the United States ($1 trillion worldwide). Whether you sell products or services (or a combination of both), your business could be missing out on new customers and higher profit margins. Below you will find what types of products/services businesses integrate into e-commerce, how to do it and where to do it at on the internet.

What should I integrate?

Everything

Want to sell everything you sell in your store online? No problem. Many e-commerce plans account for how many items you would like to sell. You can purchase at the benchmark that works best for you (100 or less, 101-500, 501-1000, 1000+)

Featured Products/Services

If you have products or services you want to feature choose to only sell those items/services online. If there is a product you can’t keep on the shelf, feature that item online and use testimonials from previous buyers to entice new customers. 6 out of every 10 purchases made online were influenced by customer reviews.

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Overstock

Selling online is very competitive. People can use applications to find and compare products across the internet by price, reviews, etc… If you have overstock in your store that you want to sell at discount, selling them online could be quicker than having those same items on a clearance shelf in the store.

Loyalty Incentives

Provide the same loyalty program (if you have one) in your store online, or you could create one online. You could do a sign-up incentive like Boticca did below. Start an email newsletter each month with exclusive online deals. If you are looking for an easy email provider I would suggest MailChimp. If you’ve never heard of MailChimp I would take a look at 3 Reasons Why MailChimp Is Great.

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How do I integrate?

Ebay

Selling your products on Ebay is like an online auction. You set up a simple account with PayPal and you are on your way. Ebay takes 9% of your total sale. If you want to have a set price on your products here is another way of figuring those fees.

Amazon

Amazon is a very good company to integrate with if you’re just starting out online. Amazon allows you to get your products in front of millions of buyers and drives more traffic to your site. Click here to see how the process works. The downside is Amazon’s referral and closing fees (usually around 30%). Click here to see what your products will cost to sell on Amazon.

Facebook Integration (F-commerce)

Facebook integration is getting more and more popular. You first need to choose an f-commerce provider to connect with. Here are the top 20 out there to choose from. Some have a free option if you are selling less than ten items. If you sell 100 items or more, there will be a $15-$25/month fee usually, but there is no processing fees associated with them which is the plus if you decide to go this route.

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Website Integration

This is where you will have the most options. There are 1000’s of ways to integrate e-commerce into your website. If you don’t have a website for your business yet, you could make your website specifically for e-commerce using one of these top 20 e-commerce websites. Another option is to use one of those listed e-commerce websites as integration into your current website. Almost all e-commerce websites have an integration feature so you can embed the store into your current website. Either way you decide, it will give you more customization options so you can present your brand in the way you want without having to deal with coding.

Mobile Integration

Don’t forget to keep mobile compatibility in mind when choosing your e-commerce solution. $8 billion dollars were spent in m-commerce sales in the U.S. alone in 2012, and that amount will continue with smart phones and tablets on the rise each year.

Summary

In summary, you can choose a very simple solution to a very complex solution for e-commerce integration into your business. If you are just starting out, I would suggest a smaller option that would fit well with your business and grow from there. Whatever you decide, e-commerce is becoming more and more popular each year and will eventually become essential to remain competitive in this ever-changing business environment. If you have any questions, please email me at chandlerfaldet@gmail.com.

5 Reasons To Build Your Brand Online

build your brand online

Think of building your brand online as an opportunity for your business; an opportunity to grow as a business, an opportunity to communicate with your customers (talk AND listen), and an opportunity to simply inform your potential/returning customers in ways you haven’t been able to offline. If I haven’t convinced you yet, please read on.

1. Meet the demands of your customers

Customers are expecting you to be online. Roughly 80% of households in the U.S. are online, and anyone can access the internet from over 200,000 public hot spots  Those are some shocking numbers. Having this amount of access creates a large demand for customers expecting businesses like yours to be online as well.

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2. 24/7 Outlet to your information

By providing your information online, you give your customers a 24/7 outlet to everything they need to know. People are busy. They don’t have time to check your store hours by driving by your store. They want to see what kind of products or services you provide on their own time so when they find what they are looking for, they can stop in, purchase and leave. Of course not everyone is like this, but for the people who are, you would be providing a great resource for them.

3. E-commerce 

E-commerce may sound intimidating, but with today’s website programming, you can easily integrate this into your website. Once you plug in the products/services/prices/shipping costs/etc… it allows customers to purchase what they need from you online. This gives people the convenience of buying from you on their own time and it gives you more sales. It expands your reach to customers as well. E-commerce is not for every business, but it could work great for yours.

4. Conversationfacebook

Social media is another component to building your brand online. If you don’t have a Facebook Page, it is very simple to do (and it’s free). Click here to see how to build your first Facebook Profile. With Facebook, or other social media platforms, you can tell your customers what’s going on in your store (sales, events, etc…). Having a social media profile also allows you to communicate with your customers. They can let you know if they have any problems with your products or services, and you can correct/help/do whatever you need to do to fix those problems. This creates a great buzz around your business.

5. Cost efficiency

Many people have the perception of getting your business online costs you a lot of money. Surprisingly, building your online presence is much more cost efficient than any other channel (radio, newspaper, TV, out door, etc…). Click here to see a very inexpensive way to build your website.

Keep your brand in mind

You should extend your brand in a way that is consistent with your brand’s presence offline. Your hard costs are low to build your brand online, but invest in someone who can help you (not take advantage of you) so that you will continue to show customers why they keep returning to your store on this new online platform. Good luck with building your brand online. If you need help, or have questions, please feel free to contact me. Email: chandlerfaldet@gmail.com

Start and Grow Your Facebook Business Page

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The only thing holding you back from getting your business on Facebook is knowledge and time. Well I will provide the knowledge if you have the time, and I promise you won’t have to use a lot of it.

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Make your own Facebook page

In order to create your business page, you will need to have your own profile on Facebook. The first thing you need to do is create a Facebook profile for yourself at www.facebook.com. Once you have made your profile, you then will simply go to the side panel on the home screen and click on the “like pages”. click on the green button that says “create page” and then follow the steps!

Make sure to include:

  • Your store’s information
  • Address, phone, hours of operation, services offered, brands carried, etc…
  • A cover photo & profile photo
  • Suggestion: Your cover photo could be a picture of your business, and your profile photo could be a picture of your logo or another picture of your business.

Keeping your profile up-to-date

It is important to post on your Facebook page “wall” at least once each week. The most important component to your Facebook page is that you are staying active. If you have something to share with your customers, post it on your wall.

Things to share:

  • Industry-related material
  • Photos of your store
  • Photos of events happening involving your store
  • Information about causes you support
  • Advertisements
  • Sales updates

Final Words of Advice

You can also check out what other businesses are doing in your industry on Facebook. This will give you a good idea of things to share and post. Don’t forget to “like” other pages that compliment your business. If you are a hardware store, you could like some of your brands’ Facebook pages. Participate. It is social media after all. It is good to be social.

If you would like help increasing your Facebook ‘likes’, I would definitely consider our Facebook Acquisition Package. This package has helped businesses in the Des Moines area grow their Facebook pages by 500 – 2500 ‘likes’ in one month. If you would like to hear more about this package, please give me a call, or send me an email requesting more information.

Good luck, and if you have any questions about building a Facebook page for your business I am happy to help. Email: cfaldet@hearst.com or call 515-247-8820.

Getting Google To Like You

Getting found online is tough. With all the businesses, schools, programs and everything else out there, how do you get found? Beyond that, where do you even start to try to get found? A great place to start is by tailoring your strategy to the highest used search engine out there: Google.

According to a comScore, nearly 17 billion searches were done in the month of November, 2012, with Google taking in 11.4 billion of those searches. The next biggest search engine was Bing, which took in 2.7 billion searches. All other search engines out there combined took the remaining 2.9 billion. Google is the obvious power house of today, and it doesn’t look like anything will be changing soon.

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Google is secretive about their algorithms which make up their search results, but they aren’t secretive about explaining what’s most important to them when searching for something. Listed below are a few ways to increase your rankings on Google so that you will have a better chance of being found.

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List Yourself
If you haven’t yet, it is important to list your business on the Google Places and other search engine websites. When listing your business, make sure to have consistency across the board. If your business is on Elm Street, make sure to spell out “Street” on each of your listings. Google likes seeing that you have all your listings with the same exact information. It would be good to list yourself on 5-10 different search engine websites (right).

Website Work
It is essential to have a website if you want to stay competitive. 5 Quick Tips To Build Your Website is a place you may want to look if you haven’t built yours yet. Once your website is published, the first thing you want to do to get Google to like you is to begin a Google analytics account. This makes sure Google can find you, and it will give you good tracking results in your website traffic.

Once you have completed the first step, consider these three important subjects: Meta Tags, keywords and links.

Meta Tags
Meta tags are the hidden words that allow Google to find your site and direct itself within it. You should tag each of your pages and describe them as well as you can by using words or phrases within the text of your site.

Keywords
You want words or phrases in place on your site that someone would type in when searching for business like yours on Google. Example: If you are a hardware store, you may want to include words like “hardware store”, “power tools” and “home repair”.

Links
By having internal links within your site that navigate from page to page smoothly, it allows Google to reach across your site quickly and find how relevant your site is to the search that’s being made. External links may be the hardest part. By having links that flow to your site from other sites, Google sees that as a good thing. I’m no link building guru, so here are 101 tips for link building which touches more extensively on this.

Social Media
The newest addition to Google’s secret formula is your online presence with social media.

Google+
The most important and easiest social networking site to join is Google+. Getting a Google+ account brings your business up in Google’s rankings.

YouTube
Another account to begin is a YouTube channel. Google owns YouTube, so it will give you another Google search boost. If you have any old (or new) commercials, any presentations or tours on video, add them to your YouTube Channel. That way you will have some content to share which Google likes to see.

Pick One
I would suggest joining one other social network. Choose which one you would prefer on what kind of information you want to share. If you are an interior design business, you may want to join Pinterest to show your past projects. If you provide a service of some kind, you may want to join Facebook so you can stay connected better with your customers. The most important aspect is to participate. That is what social media is all about.

When you are practicing these three methods, Google will notice-Not immediately, but the more you are updating, participating and growing online, the more Google will like you. Good luck!

5 Quick Tips To Build Your Website

Building a website can be intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be. If you are looking to get your business online quickly, cheaply and easily, I have made a list of to-do’s below.

1. Choose A Domain Name
Choosing your domain name will be your first step. Once you have chosen your name, make sure to check it at a domain checker to see if it’s available.

2. Choose A Hosting ProviderImage

Once you have settled on your domain name, you need to choose a website hosting provider. The best search engine friendly and inexpensive provider I have found for any small businesses is on Gybo. It is managed by Google and powered by Intuit. If you have a business that wants to start its first ever website, you will get everything free (domain name and hosting) for one year. After your first year is up, it will only cost $6.99 per month. In my opinion, this could be the best deal out there if you are on a budget and looking for a safe provider-Who’s safer than Google? If you are looking for a more complex website you may want to look at other hosting providers and get yourself a programmer.

3. Map It Out
The next step is to map out your new website. Sometimes it’s easiest to look at other businesses’ websites in your industry and see how they are doing things. I’m not saying you have to copy them, but it will give you some ideas of how you would like yours to be the same or different from your competition. When you have a website map, it establishes an outline of what content you will need to create.

4. Build Your Content
Once you have your website map, it’s time to start building your actual content. You may need to take pictures of your products, building, employees, etc… Just make sure that the pictures are taken at a semi-professional level-Maybe you have a friend that has a nice camera. Have him or her take the pictures for you. Create content that explains who your business is. Create your business’s mission statement, history, what kind of services you provide, what kind of products you sell-anything that will help your website visitor understand who your business is and what your business does. Don’t forget to add contact information so anyone can easily contact you.

5. Publish and Share
Once you have built your website from the ground up, it is time to make it public and share it with the world. Publishing your website is the easy part. Getting people to visit your website is not always easy. There are thousands of ways to share your website, but to keep things general, you can do things like:

  • Add your website to your search engine listings
  • Get your business on a few social media sites and join the conversation
  • Share your website offline (add it to business cards, posters, ads, mail, receipts, etc…)

Good luck with building your website. If you have any questions, please feel free to email me. I’m always up for helping someone in need. chandlerfaldet@gmail.com

3 Reasons Why MailChimp is Great

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Let me start off by saying I do not think that MailChimp is the greatest email provider ever. I’m just saying that if you are a beginner to this ‘sending emails to a large audience thing’ then MailChimp may be for you.

Just ask yourself these questions when deciding which provider to use: Do I want a provider that is tailored to small businesses? Do I want a simple formatted email that is easy to create? Do I have fewer than 2,000 subscribers (that way it will be free)? If you answered yes to these questions, you may want to take a look below. If you answered no to one or more, feel free to take up 5 minutes of your time by reading about MailChimp.

User-Friendly

The best “good” thing about MailChimp is how easy it is to use. I have taught numerous people who have had hardly any digital experience how to upload email lists, build campaigns and look at the analytics.

The best way to import email lists into the MailChimp system is by copy and pasting from an excel worksheet. You can have as many columns you need, so you can easily segment your list(s) down the road. One list I helped segment was for a school newsletter parents list. They needed a way to segment parents by what grades their kids are in. We decided to include a column called grades and inserted the grade numbers (K13-Kintergarten, first and second) so they can easily segment their list when they need to send a newsletter out to specific grades (list includes: “K1”).

The already user-friendly campaign builder became even easier recently with the new drag and drop feature (shown below). It allows you to design your email template by dragging and dropping images, buttons, text boxes, social share buttons and more. The down side about the campaign builder is its limitations. You must have the correct image formats (jpg’s, png’s) when uploading images into your campaign. Videos have to be on an online site in order to embed a video. The over-all look of your campaign will look very basic, so if you are looking for a complex look, MailChimp may not be the provider for you unless you know how to code your own template-then you will be fine.

Integrations

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Integrations MailChimp has to offer are always expanding, but as of now there are quite a few to choose from. One of my favorites includes the simple social media plugins. This enables you to automatically post your emails to your Facebook page and Twitter profile. You can also easily add an email signup form to your Facebook page. By paying a small fee you can integrate social media into your email lists. After you purchase this service, MailChimp will begin finding out more about your lists by locating the emails on social media sites. This way you can find out more about the age, sex and interests about your email list. Other integrations include hooking into your CRM (if you have one), connecting to Survey Monkey and integrating different e-commerce tools.

Examples:

  • They almost always give you the coding you need for integrating.
  • They have live support on their site whenever you are stuck. I once had a quick question about integrating a survey and live support helped me right away.

Analytics

The analytics are easy to read by clicking on the campaign reports tab. You can dive deep into a specific campaign about looking at who opened what, who clicked what and how many times did they click/open. You can also export all of the campaigns to compare your open rates, click rates, unsubscribes etc…

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I hope this helped you decide which email provider to use. It really just depends on what kind of a system you are looking for. Good luck, and happy emailing.