Stop Being Such a Tight Wad. Invest In a Great Website.

 By: GREG SHUGAR

You just worked your butt off for the last 12 months. Creating your product. Having samples made. Ordering 1 million of them because that’s the factory’s minimum.

You had someone in Indonesia create a slick logo for you. You set up your UPS account. You’ve rolled up your sleeves and you’re ready to get started on your ecommerce website.

Maybe you know a guy who’s nephew builds websites from his dorm. Or you read some article on how to build your own website in three easy steps. So now all you have to do is get the website built and you’re good to go, right? Wrong.

Over the years, I have met too many entrepreneurs trying to build their own websites and too many entrepreneurs whining about the price to build a great website. And it bugs me.

Building a beautifully designed, fully capable website is no longer a luxury if you’re looking to launch or grow any ecommerce business in 2015. It’s a necessity.

Related: 2 Things Entrepreneurs Should Not Worry About

Look, I get it. You’re a startup. You have a limited budget. You’re an entrepreneur willing to do things yourself. And that’s all very admirable. But if you’re launching an ecommerce business and you’re unwilling to invest in your website, then you’re better off having never launched your business. Here’s why.

You have a single presence. Make it count.

Instead of a website, let’s assume instead you’re opening a new brick-and-mortar clothing store. Since you’re a startup, your shop would likely be small. Your budget for build-out wouldn’t be much. But at a minimum, you still have to pay for paint, flooring, lights, shelves, displays, mannequins, a POS system, an inventory system and quite a few fixtures. Even with just a short one-year lease for retail space, no matter where you open it, you’d still be looking at $100,000 to cover just your physical presence. Probably more.

And even after dropping $100,000, you’d still pale in comparison to the Macy’s down the road from you. Or the Ann Taylor. Or the Men’s Wearhouse. They’d kill you in presentation, assortment and skilled labor. You’d never survive.

But…if you’re building an ecommerce website, customers view you differently. They view you only in the narrow world of online space. They won’t be thinking about what the Macy’s store in their neighborhood looks like. They’ll compare macys.com with your website.

And guess what? Now you have a much better chance in this competition.

While the cost of a good web developer varies, a beautifully designed, fully capable website should cost between $7,000 and $20,000 at most. Now compare that with the $100,000 you’d spend for your brick-and-mortar store -- and you’d still lose that battle in every way. So why wouldn’t you spend a few bucks and build a kick-ass website? A website, by the way, that would last far more than a year.

So what does it mean to have a beautifully designed, fully capable website?

The best place to start when designing your website (both aesthetically and as a utility) is to roam the web seeking out your competitors. What do their sites look like? What do you like most about their design? What do you like least about their design?

Related: Are You Serious About Becoming An Entrepreneur?

Now start looking at sites outside of your competition. Look for anything from a design perspective that appears fresh or unique. I’m building a website now to sell my own line of men’s bedding. Our gallery of thumbnails and product pages were inspired by a website I found dedicated to real estate crowdfunding. A totally different industry, and yet, the design scheme fit perfectly for what I wanted to do.

So after you have the design figured out, then make sure your product photos are professionally taken. Every piece of research I’ve ever read confirms that the nicer your product photography, the higher the conversion rate. And of course, the lower the return rate of your products. Poor photography also intangibly affects your brand. Do yourself a favor and hire a professional photographer.

Now it is time to revisit your competitors and test their navigability. Pretend you’re the consumer. Do the categories make sense? Are there any special features that you love? Is there something you hate? Do you wish it had a certain feature to bridge the gap between shopping in-person vs. shopping online? 

A great example is something I had built on The Tie Bar when we launched back in 2004. I always had the hardest time shopping for ties in person without seeing how those ties would look with a particular shirt or suit. And no website out there addressed the problem.

So at The Tie Bar, we built a feature on the site that allowed customers to place our ties against the backgrounds of the most common colored (and patterned) shirts and suits. Back in 2004, it was a novel concept and it got us many compliments and mentions in the press. And all I did was discover a pain point in shopping online for ties and attempted to fix it.

So when building your website, make sure to include the features you love and exclude the features you don’t. And if you can come up with a creative add-on to your site, all the better.

Mobile

The last point I’ll make is one covered in a million other places, so I will not belabor the point. Just make sure your site is mobile-friendly.

I will not bore you with the stats (which are everywhere) but suffice it to say that if your website does not translate well into an easy and appealing mobile experience, you’re wasting your time investing in your new beautifully-designed, fully capable website I just talked you into.

Posted on February 27, 2015 .

Three Digital Marketing Tactics You Should Adopt in 2015

by Verónica Maria Jarski  |  

Are you prepared to tackle digital marketing in 2015?

A total of 91% of consumers check their email daily. Moreover, 66% of consumers have made a purchase online as a result of an email marketing message, according to the following infographic by Brandmuscle.

This year, make sure your emails are mobile-friendly and that you give your audience engaging content that keeps them subscribed to your list. Social media also needs to be part of your marketing.

"Share content you've created more than once on different social networks," recommends Brand Muscle. "And use social media tools to measure engagement and post at optimal days and times."

To find out more about the benefits of including email, social media, and online reputation management in your 2015 marketing plans, check out the following infographic:

Posted on February 13, 2015 .

The Most Effective Marketing Strategies for Small Businesses

by Ayaz Nanji  |  

January 21, 2015

Small businesses say good-ol' word-of-mouth remains the most effective marketing strategy, according to a recent report from Infusionsoft.

Some 62% of small businesses surveyed cite word-of-mouth/customer referrals as a top 3 marketing strategy, by far the highest endorsement level of any tactic.

Other strategies considered effective include email (34% rank it as a top 3 tactic), networking (25%), social media (23%), search engine marketing (14%), and content marketing (13%).

Television/radio ads are viewed as the least effective marketing strategy, with just 2% of respondents ranking them in the top 3.

Effective Marketing Strategies

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Below, additional key findings from the report, which was based on data from a survey of 408 small business Infusionsoft customers (50% B2C-focused; 28% B2B; 22% mixed).

Attitudes Toward Common Business Activities

  • Regarding business-related tasks, respondents say they most enjoy serving customers and developing products.
  • The least-liked activities are administrative, human resources, and financial.

 

Biggest Challenges

  • 55% say finding enough time to get everything done is a huge business challenge.
  • 43% struggle with managing everything themselves.
  • 40% say finding enough money to invest in their ideas is a huge challenge.


About the researchThe report was based on data from a survey of 408 small business Infusionsoft customers (50% B2C-focused; 28% B2B; 22% mixed).



Read more: http://www.marketingprofs.com/charts/2015/26859/the-most-effective-marketing-strategies-for-small-businesses#ixzz3PTMHXCNN

Posted on January 21, 2015 .

Social Media Use by Small Businesses

Small and midsize businesses (SMBs) now spend more on social marketing than on any other media category, according to a recent report from BIA/Kelsey.

The survey of 546 SMBs (defined in the report as companies with 1 to 99 employees) found businesses spent 21.4% of their total media budgets on average on social media in the past 12 months.

Three-quarters (74.5%) of SMBs reported using social media to promote their businesses in some way in the past year—again, more than any other category of media.

The report was based on data from the Local Commerce Monitor—an ongoing survey of SMBs in the United States that tracks 35 different channels used for advertising and promotion. The media/platforms examined include online, traditional, mobile, local coupons, social, video, broadcast, local directories, giveaway items, and community sponsorships.

Overall, Facebook dominates SMB social media usage, with 55.1% of businesses surveyed saying they have a Facebook page for business use, and 20% percent reporting they have run a Facebook ad or promoted post.

 

Other social platforms respondents reported using frequently to promote their businesses include LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram, and Twitter.

Written by:     Ayaz Nanji  (www.marketingprofs.com) 

Written by: Ayaz Nanji (www.marketingprofs.com) 

The Big Web Show

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The Big Web Show Episode No. 81

Tina Roth Eisenberg (www.swiss-miss.com

Tina writes a blog on creativity and shares tips and opinions from her insight.  She states that the general public thinks of a design blog as more product driven than informational or a blend of both. She also adds that marketing through blogs has become a large-scale tool for big brands and has somewhat diluted the intimacy of blogging. She has a team of 11 and has done most of her hiring via Twitter. Tina owns a company called Tattly and is the founder of Creative Mornings. These are some of the keys that I took from her interview:

  • Surround yourself with smart, driven, and creative people and your level will rise.  
  • Everyone has to start somewhere and just starting is a step in the right direction.
  • You never know if an idea will work unless you try.
  • Some creative individuals learn by doing. Ready, set, GO!

This was an inspiring interview and I encourage everyone to listen, (if you haven’t already) as everyone’s interpretation is different.

~Terrence

Link- The Big Web Show

Posted on February 19, 2013 .

Where to Begin

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In todays environment getting your brand to the market is easier than ever, the only problem is where to begin? First, you must focus on your target market. This is the "who, what, why and where?".  Second, get to know the habits of your target market. Lastly, and most importantly understand their needs. Just pushing a product or service is a turn off to the consumer. That's the "what" and "why", what's in it for me and why do I care. 

Utilizing the web and social media channels allows you to directly interact and engage with your consumers. Listening to feedback and designing your product or service around the clients needs is an important part of business today.

Posted on February 5, 2013 .