Starting up your own business online is a fun, yet challenging venture that many are taking up for various reasons. But as fun as it is, the techniques for converting mere traffic to actual sales are not quite as cut-and-dried as they were in the days before the Internet. The rules have changed dramatically, and would-be successful “e-entrepreneurs” need to have the following knowledge well in hand before officially launching their web presence.
Real Estate = Location, Location + Internet = Optimization.
SEO is very important part of running an e-commerce site. You have to know the keywords to pull traffic in and aim for the sales conversions. But what you may not realize is that there’s more to consider when it comes to optimizing your web presence. Just as you pick a great location for, and “pretty up,” a brick-n-mortar presence that will draw in traffic, you need to think along somewhat similar lines for your online store.
Don’t just code your site for Internet Explorer or Firefox. You need to see how your site will look in Chrome, Opera and Safari. Also, with the now-ubiquitous presence of smartphones and tablets, you’ll need to make sure your site can be viewed via the various Apple and Android tablets and phones. So if you don’t have either one, find people who do, so they can help you make sure you’re doing right by those people who use mobile devices to shop, and not just catering strictly to PC and laptop users. Besides, consulting people who have mobile devices of any kind can give you extra insight into their shopping habits.
Don’t Try To Be another “Wal-Mart” When Starting Out
Many people going into e-commerce think they have to try and offer everything possible from the outset. In truth, this is a lot harder and more overwhelming than just focusing on one specific type of item. Remember, Amazon was first a bookseller before they branched out into other items. Yes, having narrowly focused inventory may seem daunting, because you may feel like you’re going to be that tiny needle in the haystack that is the Internet when it comes to being found. But if you want to branch out eventually, starting out small is a lot less stressful on you and your small business budget. And you even may decide you like staying in a specific niche market because it works well for you.
Analytics: The Measurement for Growth
Analytics is essentially a tool for improving your business and helping it grow. It’s a bit like holding up a ruler to your child’s head and saying, “You are X inches tall. In order for you to be tall enough to ride that new ride at the carnival, you have to grow X more inches.” A similar analogy could be: “You are at X amount of earnings. In order to achieve your new goals of Z earnings by this date, benchmark Y has to be passed first.” Analytics helps you understand what you need to do to get to those earnings and to pass your own personal growth benchmarks. There are various tutorials out there to learn how to understand this vital tool, so you don’t have to fly blindly.
Write a Month’s Worth of Blog Backlog
A key “sidekick” to a successful e-commerce site is a business blog. The caveat here is, you’ll want to provide regularly updated content that is search-engine-optimized, relevant, and above all, unique. So how do you do this when your fledgling entrepreneurial self is busier than a bee? Write a month’s worth of backlogged posts and set up a post-time queue, so each post is automatically published on a specific time, on a specific day of the week, so updates are timely. You can use many tools to manage this, or use your blog service’s native auto-scheduler. Both way, content is king, and timeliness is its queen.
Google Isn’t the Only Search Tool
So customers have found your site via Google, but your site needs to be searchable. For example, Amazon has a ton of items. Their site usability would drop dramatically if they didn’t have a search bar for finding precisely the item customers want. People would go elsewhere in a hurry. Even if you don’t have a lot of items at the start, you’ll still want to include some sort of search mechanism.
The Social Networks
It pays to have a presence on at least one of the major social media sites, such as Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Pinterest. These four are the most easily updatable as far as time management is concerned. Plus, if you have a brick-n-mortar store as well as a web store, and you hold events at the brick-n-mortar place, or you hold online events, announcing these events via social media more than a few times gets the word out and you’ll have twice as much likelihood of people attending. Again, if you find putting updates to these places daunting, many social media tools will help you manage this task.
Also, make sure and use some online tools to ensure your username or domain is available for use across all these sites, just so you can keep your social media tags consistent across all platforms.
These six tips aren’t just tips. They’re an essential roadmap for your journey to entrepreneurial success in the e-commerce world. Naturally, as the Internet changes, the e-commerce “rules” change with it, but these tips will get you started, no matter what changes occur on the e-commerce landscape.