Shopping Cart Elite's Posts (389)

  • Everyone in SEO is talking about it…a new Penguin update is on the way and it is rumored that it will make last April’s ruthless Penguin update look like child’s play.  People are running scared, wondering if their site, and business, will be slammed like so many others were last year.

    In this article I will review 6 ways to protect your site so you can sleep safe and sound, knowing traffic to your site won’t dry up overnight.  And if you’ve already been hit, Chuck Price gives some great suggestions for recovery.


    1. Audit your Links Monthly

    Start by running your backlinks and getting a baseline.  How many of your links are from high quality vs low quality sites? And who is actually linking to you?

    If you find links from spammy or low quality sites, why not email the site and request for the link to be removed?  If you do, document this!  Keep track of everyone you’ve emailed and when.  You may need this information if you DO get penalized and have to file a reconsideration request.

    There are a number of SEO tools you can use to monitor your backlinks.  Pick your favorite and don’t forget to do this every month!


    2. What’s your Anchor Density?

    High anchor density for money terms is one of the main indicators of SERP manipulation that leads to Penguin penalties.

    Keeping an eye on the anchor density of your keywords is important.  Anchor density will change constantly as new links are being built.  Every month, make sure you run an anchor density report and make sure you are under 15% for a money term.

    I’ve seen anchor density for brand terms go upwards of 50% without penalties, but if the anchor text with high density is focused on money terms, then this could elicit penalties.  If you notice your density getting too high, quickly build noise or brand term links to dilute the percentages.

    Be sure to use Semantically Related Keywords as well to avoid “fabricated” anchor text profiles.

    3. Link Ratios: What to Monitor, and Why they Matter


    Proper Company Promotion – courtesy © alphaspirit – Fotolia.com

    When google talks about Earned vs Unearned links, one of the ways they can algorithmically monitor these numbers is by looking at ratios.

    Here are some of the ratios that I always look for when monitoring a site’s heatlh:

    • Link Type: Image vs Text vs Mentions

    • Link Location: Paragraph vs Link List vs In Content vs Sidebar vs Header

    • Domain Theme: Business vs Computers vs Reference vs Portals vs News

    • Site Type: General vs Blog vs CMS vs Link Directory vs Social Network

    • Sitewide Ratio

    • Deep Links Ratio

    If, for example, too many of the links come from Link Directories, this shows an imbalance and I will try to build alternate links to create a healthy backlink profile.

    4. Watch your Webmaster Tools account

    This one is obvious but I can’t even tell you how many site owners I speak with who don’t have their Webmaster Tools account set up, or who don’t monitor it.  This is important!

    Watching the links that Google displays in your account can help you find problematic links that Google is acknowledging are crawled in part of how your site is ranked.  Keeping tabs on these links will help you to quickly identify low quality or negative links.

    Perhaps Googlebot is having trouble accessing your site, or something went wrong with your server and there are numerous crawl or page errors.  Monitoring your webmaster account for your site’s health will make sure you address and minimize potential problems BEFORE they become penalties or result in a loss of rankings or traffic.

    5. Create Google Analytics Alerts

    By creating Intelligence Events Alerts, you can have Google Analytics notify you if your traffic has decreased or if something has changed.



    Here are some alerts that I set up for all of my clients:

    • 10% Traffic Drop

    • Bounce Rate increases by more than 5%

    • Google Organic Traffic decreased by more than 5%

    Sometimes a small drop is an indication of problems, so I will review the site, backlinks, etc and address any problems before they result in penalties or major traffic loss.

    Most Importantly, Don’t Engage in Spammy Link Building!!!

    I’ve had clients come to me asking why their site is doing so poorly in the search engines.  They confess they’ve done some work on their own or paid a nominal fee to a company that spam mailed them to increase their rankings.

    Almost invariably I find massive amounts of spammy links from directories or article marketing sites.  Some people have confessed to have used Fiverr gigs for link building, or foreign companies that build 10,000 wiki links or a 50 spoke link wheel.



    (And if you’re wondering how I know of all this, it’s because yes, I’ve tried and tested many of these services.   I’m always running tests with groups of sites so I can track what is or isn’t working; running controlled tests is one of my passions).

    Just DON’T Do It!  

    It’s not worth it! Perhaps these links work for a little bit, but they WILL get you penalized.  If not now, it will happen in a future algorithmic update.

    Fiverr is GREAT for some gigs, like voice overs and fun images, but when it comes to link building, it just won’t work.  Link building is hard, and expensive, and nobody can genuinely build you hundreds of links for $5.

    Build High Quality Links


    One high value link is worth hundreds of low quality links.  I’ve seen it time and again by analysing backlink profiles of sites with strong rankings.  A handful of links from reputable sources can help a site’s rankings considerably.

    Forget forum and blog commenting links, forget Fiverr and thousands of wiki links, and forget article directories and everything else that smells of dirty socks.  Focus instead on creating high value content assets, and the rewards will be tenfold, not just as your rankings increase but in getting your site grandfathered SAFELY into the rankings.

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  • Writing solid ad copy from scratch is loaded with uncertainty. (Not to mention it’s incredibly tedious.) In this video tour, find how SpyFu’s re-designed Ad History helps you pull ideas from the strongest ad copy on your keywords—without spending hours to find it. This clear direction helps you start with optimized ad copy from Day 1.

    We turn to your competitors for clues. If they have already invested time and money into testing to find optimized ad copy, you don’t have to extend your own resources to find what they’ve already tested. Ad History highlights a competitor’s strongest ad copy—taken from their most competitive keywords.

     

    A phrase match filter narrows down your search so you can work with targeted keywords and see patterns across relevant matches. One more plus: it’s no longer up to you to hunt color changes in every keyword to see what changed.  We summarize just how much a domain relied on one dominant message across all of its keywords so you know what’s most important.

    When ad copy changes, it could have been a good change or a failed test.  We move you beyond tracking changes. It’s not about what changed. It’s about what prevailed.

    (Note: Updated Ad History is coming soon to SpyFu. Watch this blog for more details. Aiming for early May 2013.)

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  • After a turbulent year, retailers are dusting themselves off and learning to adapt to the changes made to shopping feeds in the last 12 months. While comparison shopping sites may seem daunting to some, there is no doubt these are still an important resource for brand awareness and customer acquisition. This is not to say that selling across multiple shopping comparison sites is a simple process. Each of the hundreds of comparison shopping engines has unique data requirements. Pairing this with the complexities of managing variable inventory levels and pricing promotions, it is often difficult to be seen on comparison shopping sites. One of the top errors a retailer can make is to manage its shopping feeds in the same way as its PPC campaigns. Comparison shopping and paid search are both similar in that they are advertising channels used to drive traffic to your website via a PPC or a cost-per-click (CPC) model, but that’s generally where the similarities end. With comparison shopping, consumers are given product images, product descriptions, pricing and information about retailers who sell these products. Consumers also have the ability to sort these listings in multiple ways. Ensuring this data can be effectively distributed to all shopping feeds is what sets you apart from the competition.

    ChannelAdvisor’s Comparison Shopping Solution

    ChannelAdvisor’s Comparison Shopping solution optimizes and manages online retailers’ comparison shopping efforts, giving you the power and flexibility to be competitive on this channel. It allows you to scale your business without adding costly resources or sacrificing ROI targets. This single interface enables you to plug into the sales opportunities on dozens of shopping feed sites and ensure the best return on investment.

    Effectively List Shopping Feeds Across Multiple Shopping Comparison Sites

    Negotiating your data around the individual nuances for every comparison engine can become a resource strain for many businesses. Considering how often feeds need to be sent and the changing requirements and fees of various shopping engines, managing a comparison shopping strategy can be intimidating. The shopping feed solution enables you to simplify listing and reporting on multiple engines. You only need to upload your inventory once to the ChannelAdvisor solution; from there your data will be optimized to drive visibility and sales. Labels will be assigned to your inventory once it’s uploaded. Labels are a dynamic way of grouping inventory efficiently and are used to distribute inventory to multiple shopping engines. You will also have the option to create your own custom labels that can be used to assign one group of products to one shopping site while assigning a different group of products to an alternate shopping site.

    Efficiently Manage Feeds from One Platform

    The Comparison Shopping solution has many sophisticated tools that make managing feeds an easy process:

    Business Rules:

    Define business rules that automatically translate data elements into actions that improve relevancy, value proposition and traffic quality across every shopping feed. These rules offer flexibility in converting and manipulating your data to achieve the best results. You can also assign specific margin targets for each product and manage your campaigns accordingly.

    Product Filtering:

    Filter products from your data feed based on price, brand, category or any field in your feed. This tool is a useful way to customize which products are sent to each shopping site, especially since performance for your products will vary widely between the engines. This is also an easy way to remove products on a larger scale from your campaigns.

    Lookup Lists:

    Lookup Lists are very flexible and powerful options to customize your feeds from one place. They can perform several functions such as: allowing you to get additional data, replace existing data or build a list of products to exclude from feeds.

    Unparalleled Visibility into Performance

    With an industry as dynamic as e-commerce, it’s important to view progress and analyze performance. Often, after dedicating time to sending feeds to each shopping comparison site, retailers are left in the dark on productperformance. ChannelAdvisor has trending charts that allow you to compareshopping engine versus shopping engine performance or compare success metric versus success metric. With ChannelAdvisor’s reporting, you’ll gain clearer insight into consumer behavior by tracing buyers’ interactions with your product listings and ads and their search paths across channels. Retailers can a take 360° look at performance across every engine from one dashboard in the ChannelAdvisor solution. Insight into aspects such as performance, conversions, which clicks influenced a sale, latency, feed history and intraday performance give our retailers the competitive edge. This complete view of your data feeds allows you to see your campaigns from all angles, so you can take the appropriate actions to reduce costs and increase profits.

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  • Beauty vs Specs

    Beauty vs. specs

    There are two kinds of users/creators/customers/pundits.

    Some can't understand why a product or service doesn't catch on. They can prove that it's better. They can quote specs and performance and utility. It's obvious.

    The other might be willing to look at the specs, but he really doesn't understand them enough to care. All he knows is that the other choice is beautiful--it makes him feel good. He wants to use it.

    Acura vs. Lexus, Dell vs. Apple, New Jersey vs. Bali...

    You can have both specs and beauty, of course, but only if you work at it.

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  • Shopping Cart Elite

    AMAZON IS READY TO DROP SHIP EVERYTHING

    Did you know that Amazon can drop ship everything including products that are not even supplied by you? Anything you see on Amazon.com can be drop shipped directly to your customers. Amazon will handle the fulfillment, shipping, merchant processing, returns, etc. Best of all you can offer the products to your customers at the same price as Amazon with FREE SHIPPING, and still receive up to 15% commission on each sale.
     
    I will tell you exactly how to sign up for it, but first let me tell you how you can use it regardless if you are new to eCommerce or an established eCommerce business.
     
    NEW ECOMMERCE BUSINESS:
     
    1. You can deal with one supplier for absolutely everything
    2. Free, Fast and Reliable Shipping with 99% inventory fulfillment
    3. Free shipping including 2nd day shipping to all your customers
    4. Customers get Money back with Amazon credit card
    5. Customers can use the One Click Checkout, and if they have an Amazon account they won’t need to fill in any billing information making checkout even easier
    6. Simple No Hassle Return Policy without restocking fees
    7. Provide Years’ worth of Reviews
    8. Lowest Prices on the Internet
    9. No Monthly Merchant Account Fees
    10. No Merchant Fees
    11. No Risk of Chargebacks
    12. No Customer Service after the transaction
    13. JUST MARKET YOUR WEBSITE
    14. FIXED AND STABLE MONTHLY EXPENSE
     
     
    ESTABLISHED ECOMMERCE BUSINESS
     
    1. Add a line of products to test the demand
    2. Build up a new line of products on your website before doing your own fulfillment
    3. Sell the products through Amazon until you reach the necessary volume to buy direct from the manufacturer
    4. Sell complimentary items that you would not want to fulfill yourself
    5. Test out a niche before you put a lot more resources to start it the traditional way
     
     
    If you can only get Amazon to drop ship their products for you, all the above would be possible. Well, today it is possible, and we made a super easy system for you to get started immediately.
     
    It is a bit of a long read, but it is worth it.
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  • You slave over the writing of a great new post for your blog, you’ve researched, hypothesized, edited, spell checked, polished and made it look all pretty….

    You Hit Publish….

    What happens now? Are you done? Do you move on and push the post idea from your mind – searching for your next killer post?

    I’d like to suggest that rather than hitting publish and moving onto your next topic – that a smarter thing to do is to think about how the post you’ve just written might be useful in creating some momentum on your blog.

    The problem with many blogs is that they are filled up with posts on similar topics (all within a wider niche) but without any real connection between them. The bloggers feel the pressure to keep producing good content – and in doing so don’t think about the journey that they’re leading readers on.

    Here’s my suggestion:

    Treat every post you write as an introduction to the next one

    What if instead of hitting publish, pushing the post from your mind and then searching for your next post topic – you stopped and asked yourself how that last post you wrote could be extended?

    Extend The Life Of An Idea

    Here’s a few ways to do it:

    • Take the Opposite Point of View (like I did earlier in the week with my post on why you should use AdSense and why you shouldn’t)
    • Pick up on a Comment left by a reader (answer a question, respond to an idea etc)
    • Write an opinion piece on a previous news piece (if a big story breaks and you write about it – follow the post up with a post on what you think about it, how the news might effect you or your readers etc)
    • Write a followup ‘how to’ post after writing a more theoretical one
    • Explore Alternatives to an idea that you’ve written (for example, next week I’m planning a post following up on the AdSense ones from the last few days that explores alternative networks to AdSense).

    I’m sure that there’s a lot more ways to do it – but the key is to look at each post you’ve written as an opportunity to write a stream of posts that build on one another.

    Not every post that you write will be suited to this (and that’s OK) and the posts that build upon one another don’t have to be formally tied as a series one after another – but over time if you build upon the things that you’ve previously written you’ll find that readers pick up on the threads that you’re exploring and will feel as though they’ve been taken on a journey with you.

    update: I’ve extended this post with a practical example of how I do it using Mind Mapping.

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  • This might sound unusual coming from an SEO provider, but you don’t want to rest the long term success of your website solely on the search engines. I can hear what you’re thinking now; “but if I shouldn’t rely on the search engines than what is the point of SEO?” The point of SEO is to help drive more qualified visitors to your website over time by helping grow your online brand presence (which includes, but is not limited to the search engine results). In my experience, I’ve found that when site owners worry about building their organic traffic from a variety of sources and NOT just on the search engines their SEO. That being said, what kind of traffic sources should you be building and how can you tell if they are any good?

    Don’t Turn Google into Your Only Traffic Source

    Referral Sites

    Referral websites can be a great traffic source for many reasons. First off, although they might send fewer visitors to your website in the long run when compared to the search engines they tend to be a much more targeted audience. For instance, let’s say you are heavily involved in a community forum and your profile link on that site sends a few hundred visitors to your site each month. Forums were the first online communities and target a specific audience—your audience!

    This is exactly the kind of traffic source you want because it’s a direct line from your target audience over to your website. The more involved in that forum you are the more powerful that profile link becomes as a traffic source. Whenever you are building links it’s important to think of each link as a potential traffic source—will it send the right kind of visitors to your site?

    By building up the amount of referral sites serving as traffic sources for your site you are making your SEO program less vulnerable to the whims of the search engines. For instance, if 80% of your traffic comes from Google and you suffer from an algorithm update you could (in theory) watch 80% of your traffic vanish over night.

    Few sites can survive a hit like that for more than a few weeks and recovering from a penalty usually takes a lot longer than a few weeks. On the other hand, if your website only relies on the search engines for 50% of its traffic (which is still a lot) but has plenty of referral sites as traffic sources as well you can suffer a hit and hold on a bit longer while you try to recover.

    Social Sources

    Depending on whether you are a B2B or B2C company, different social sites are going to prove to be valuable traffic sources. For instance, LinkedIn is a phenomenal traffic source for B2B websites, especially the LinkedIn groups. You can submit content to up to 50 groups (from one profile) and know that your content is getting seen by exactly the kind of traffic you want coming to your site. You can reach both the influencers and decision makers with customized content based on the groups you submit to.

    B2C websites might have better luck with Facebook or Pinterest as a social traffic source because of the user base on those sites. A word of advice—in order to make sure social sites become a traffic source you need to make sure that your social profiles link back to your actual website in many, many ways. There are a lot of distractions on Facebook and LinkedIn that could pull your audience away from your brand so you want to funnel them through to your website as quickly as possible.

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  • WHAT SHOULD YOU WRITE IN YOUR BLOG

    WRITING IN SIMPLE ENGLISH

    How do I write content that will be so valuable that people will actually read it, share it, and follow my writing? Should I hire a professional ghost writer to write for me since I am not a really good writer? The answer is NO! You can read my post here about hiring someone for a job.

    The strategy that I use for writing content has evolved quite a bit over the years. Today, I will share the steps that I use to write my own content that you are reading right now. You can follow these steps to write great blog posts, great sales copy, and great newsletters.

    PLATFORM
    Tom performs at a well-known musical called Phantom of the Opera on Broadway every Friday. Michael also performs Phantom of the Opera, but he does it at random times and at random bars. If you were to pick a musical to see, would you choose to see Tom or Michael?

    A platform is the center stage where you can get noticed by the masses. When you start a blog you are creating a platform, when you try to rank your blog on Google and get Google to send you traffic then you are using Google’s platform. Every business should strive to become a platform by using other platforms to get noticed and build a following for their own platform.

    If your goal is to rely on other platforms, then you are doomed to fail in the very beginning. If you work hard in building your own platform, then you will eventually build one. If you start your writing by trying to use other platforms without even trying to develop your own, then the second you stop using other platforms you will fail.

    Charles has a website selling pet supplies, and for the past three years he has been primarily focusing on optimizing his content for Google instead of optimizing it for his customers. He has seen his business grow year after year, but one day Google released a new algorithm and Charles lost all of his rankings. Charles lost 80% of traffic overnight. Charles should have focused his attention to building a platform, and if he did then he wouldn’t be considering closing his business today.

    So the question is if you were Tom performing Phantom of the Opera, or you were Google publishing content on the first page, or you were a new business owner starting a new blog, would you create anything less than spectacular? Would you really publish something mediocre or something written by a ghost writer who is not an expert in your niche and doesn’t have your writing style?

    If you are writing a sales copy for your website, valuable content for your blog, or a newsletter for your readers, you need to make sure you understand that your ASS is on the line. If you start publishing garbage, you risk destroying any chance of ever building a platform.

    It only takes one bad headline to destroy interest, it only takes one bad paragraph to lose potential followers, and it only takes one bad article to fail in making a good first impression. It takes effort to make a piece of content that would be worth sharing.

    HEADLINE
    Twelve words that make up 78 characters will decide if someone using GMAIL will open your email or not. Twelve words will decide if you will click and read the latest news headline at CNN or pay attention to a billboard on the highway. The headline is the most powerful piece of content that you need to create, and we usually just write it down in one minute as if we’re Spielberg with decades of experience.

    The headlines you choose for your blog or website titles are even more complicated because you need to make them catchy and SEO friendly. If you are to tap Google’s platform, then you need to make sure you include all the keywords that are searched in Google are included in your headline. It gets pretty tricky.

    The most successful website that I can think of that does not write any content except for 100 AWESOME headlines every day is Drudgereport.com. Matt Drudge has built the biggest one man platform in the world that has reached one billion page views last December. Drudge Report doesn’t publish one piece of news content but it gets the same web traffic as Fox News, USA Today, or Wall Street Journal just by using better headlines and linking to the sources.

    Here are the steps I use to create my headlines:
    1)     Subscribe to other marketers in your niche and save the headlines that caught your attention
    2)     Pay attention to catchy headlines from Google news
    3)     Review the Magnetic Headlines Guide / Headline Generator 1 / Headline Generator 2 

    4)     Research keywords using Google Keyword Tool and gather all relevant words that may be used to find your content. Then try to fit those words into your catchy headline.
    a)     Here are a few guides that will help you
    i)      How to research keywords
    ii)     How to build an SEO anchor text
    iii)    YouTube Videos
    b)    JUST REMEMBER THAT YOU MUST USE AT LEAST THREE KEYWORDS IN YOUR TITLE THAT WERE RECOMMENDED TO YOU BY GOOGLE KEYWORD TOOL
     
    CONTENT
    Tommy goes on a blind date and meets Michelle. Michelle was beautiful, and they got along great. Michelle invited Tommy to go out on a second date. Tommy was so excited that he bought an engagement ring, wrote up a long prenup agreement and invited his whole family to the second date with Michelle. You can only imagine the look on Michelle’s face right before she started laughing and running away at the same time.

    If you came up with a great headline, that doesn’t mean you can load your email with a bunch of boring, factual information that no one will care to read. You need to realize that you are the only one who cares about your content as much as you do, other people don’t really care much. So when you write that beautiful masterpiece of yours that you want to share with the world, it is not something the world wants to share with others.

    How do you make content that others will read, share and follow? To start, the content needs to be so valuable that it actually changed something about you. It needs to be so good that you keep going back to read it yourself. It needs to be so magical that you constantly refer people to it that need it. It needs to be so entertaining that if you were to read it once every month then you would still find it enjoyable to read.

    The content needs to be a classic and withstand the test of time. The content should be published on the right platform, to the right audience. Can you imagine Phantom of the Opera performing to a bunch of young drunk adults at a hip pop club? It has to be simple enough for a six year old to understand and most importantly it has to be entertaining.

    GUIDE TO WRITE YOUR PITCHDECK

    • You should spend a minimum of 30 minutes choosing your headline
    • You should spend at least one hour on your first paragraph to make sure the reader will be engaged (AND NO, DO NOT INTRODUCE YOURSELF IN THE FIRST PARAGRAPH!)
    • Using font size 12, you are not allowed to exceed 1500 words per post and you should aim for 1000 words
    • Your not allowed to use words that a six year old will not understand
    • Your paragraphs must be understood by six a year old
    • Use metaphors to explain complex scenarios and shorten your sentences
    • TELL STORIES. NOT FACTS! Even if you have to make them up
    • USE EMOTION at least once in every paragraph
    • DO NOT USE AMATEUR IMAGES! Buy professional ones on Shutterstock

    Here are the steps that you should take for  proofreading

    1) Write the Rough Draft which includes everything from Stories to Facts

    2) Re-read it, and try remove anything redundant or negative 

    3) Run it through Microsoft Word Spell Check

    4) Run it through Grammarly Spell Check

    5) Run it through Natural Soft Female Voice

    6) Run it through Microsoft Word Spell Check

    7) Run it through Grammarly Spell Check

    8) Run it through Natural Soft Male Voice (re-run 5 times)

    9) Try to simplify anything that can be broken down (using stories or metaphors)

    10) Run it through Natural Soft Male British Voice

    11) Run it through Word Spell Check

    12) Run it through Grammerly Spell Check

    13) Finish

    EXTRA TIPS

    1. Read the book "One Sentence Persuasion" by Blair Warren to learn how to write short persuasive paragraphs
    2. Read or Listen to the book called "The Impact Equation" on Amazon or Audible to learn about how to build your own content platform
    3. Use Mailchimp for your email marketing
    4. Use Wistia for your videos inside your emails (You can use Youtube also but not for email marketing)
    5. Use Grammarly for professional spell check
    6. Use Evernote to manage posts (It's like dropbox for Notes) or use Dropbox to save your documents
    7. Get a paid account so you dont have a mailchimp logo on  your emails
    8. Use their responsive template so it looks good on Desktop and Mobile
    9. Less is more 
    10. Use a simple header image
    11. Use a one image on top of your email
    12. Make your text color black
    13. Font size should be chosen based on your readers.
    14. Take your best readers age and divide it by two, that will be the font size. If you are targeting someone who is 40, than you should use a font size of  20. Do not use anything less than font size 12.
    15. Use professional images from Shutterstock
    16. Don't make it very commercial looking
    17. I suggest putting all the content in one email and not  redirect to a blog
    18. I suggest putting your non-intrusive promotions on the bottom of every email
    19. Here is the flow of your content, it should be posted to Mailchimp and synced in this order throughout the rest of the channels Blog > Facebook > Twitter > Linkedin > Youtube > Pinterest
    Read more…
  • Shopping Cart Fail

    OPEN SOURCE SHOPPING CARTS
    EXPOSED
    This is a long post that I highly recommend reading because it exposes the truth behind why most shopping carts are killing your business.
    Hosted Shopping Carts like Big Commerce and Volusion are failing you with hype and false promises of being the perfect platform for you while behind the scenes, they clearly know they have a vaporware platform that is failing the majority of their customers. After all, how can anyone succeed with 15% downtime each month, half-baked features, half of the new released features are sold to you through nickel and dime method where you will be charged $10 extra per month for a feature that should have been included in the software from the very beginning (why are you paying monthly for software updates?), and finally pushing their app partners down your throat. The reason they push their app partners because they rather invest marketing dollars to sign up new customers instead of developing their software. The app partner software is usually filled with bugs and should have never hit the market in the first place. Platforms like Volusion and BigCommerce can disappear tomorrow and no one will care, and believe me they will disappear one day. Only the government can sustain spending millions on marketing and payroll while failing the majority of their clients.  
    Today, I am writing about another group of open source Shopping Carts like Magento, ZenCart and OpenCart that promise you that the grass is greener on their side of the fence.
    They look so attractive, feature rich, sophisticated and best of all FREE, or is it not free after all?
    You can’t beat sophistication and free unless you expose the truth behind their agenda. What do they have to win for having you use their open source platform?
    Magento is the biggest piece of sh*t out of all them, excuse my language. Every time I hear about Magento I can’t help it but compare them to Google. They let their customers build up the community around their platform and then they sell them out like cattle.
    Open source has two kinds of founders, open source heroes like the founders of Linux, who had a vision to develop an open source platform for themselves and others to use, and then there are the founders of companies like Magento who created a platform for the sole purpose of taking advantage of the “open source community” and selling out the first chance they got.
    eBay purchased Magento for well over 180 million dollars. Why did eBay buy Magento you wonder? No,  not to help the eCommerce community or Magento customers. Let’s not forget that unlike Magento who claimed to be a nonprofit Open Source company (even though their original business plan was to sell their web design services from their parent company Varien), eBay is a for profit publically traded company. eBay purchased Magento to squeeze the juice out of it. Magento powers 12% of the top eCommerce websites in the world and eBay saw it as an opportunity to get those companies to sell on eBay. The day eBay purchased Magento was the day that 140,000 companies saw their doomsday turn into reality. eBay can’t even get their own API under control after ten years, you think they will get the broken Magento anywhere?
    So let’s look at one scenario of a company who chose to use Magento and how it failed him miserably. Michael needed to upgrade his eCommerce system, he chose to go with the Magento community edition. The demo looked incredible to Michael, Magento was exactly the software he was looking for to use for his online business (or so he thought). Magento had a sophisticated discount features, multi store support, custom web design functionality, advanced options, etc. Michael was so excited that he envisioned his company becoming the leader in his niche. He was mostly excited about all the apps available in the app store, such as complete eBay and Amazon integration. He couldn’t believe his eyes that he can have a system that would have cost him thousands, and now he can have it for free. Little did he know that all of those features only looked exceptionally good on paper.
    Here is what happened to Michael one year later.
    First, the shared hosting Michael chose for $200 per year didn’t work out because the website’s performance was slower than a herd of snails traveling through peanut butter. Michael had to upgrade to a dedicated server with licensing and started paying $300 per month. Michael had to hire an IT expert to help him with troubleshooting DDOS attacks, hosting issues, website hacks and corrupt database when the server would fail. Michael spent $5,000 in IT and consulting fees. Michael paid $10,000 for a custom web design that was delivered 6 months late. The custom design looked incredible for exactly 5.5 days until Michael decided to upgrade the Magento community with a new release. That new release wiped out the design, and since all the code changed it couldn’t be restored, Michael than paid another $4,000 to redesign the look and feel for that would work with the new release. It took two months to recode, and that design lasted for exactly 30 days until Michael realized that half of the website had broken CSS and the checkout was not working. The design firm blamed the release and the only way to fix it is to upgrade to another version and start the design over for the third time. Michael did upgrade the third time but decided to stick with the NON CUSTOM default template.
    Every time Magento would make a new release, they would call it critical because it fixed hundreds of bugs. Michael had to hire an IT to upgrade the release for him every time costing him $20,000 in annual IT fees. What Michael did not foresee that every release that fixed the old bugs, introduced hundreds of new bugs. Since Michael was on the community edition, the only support he would get was from the community on the forums. Besides the long wait time to get a reply, most of the community was filled with consultants who would give him a vague answer and then demand to be hired to get the full answer. Magento barely responded on the forums, and after eBay took over they laid off most of the forum staff, so it became a ghost town. Nowadays you will get no answers from the community forums if you are on a community edition, your only choice is to go enterprise and pay eBay $50,000 per year.
    Michael hosted his own Shopping Cart which made him liable for credit card data and this required him to be PCI compliant. The whole time Michael was in business he was not truly PCI compliant because he couldn’t afford it. Yes, he did pay $150 to scan his website, but that did not make him magically PCI Compliant. To achieve PCI Compliance it would cost Michael over $60,000 between hardware and QSA audits, and $30,000 every year. Michael thought Magento was compliant because they advertised PA-DSS compliance. But what he missed was the fact that it was only available in the enterprise version, and also the fact that PA-DSS still requires PCI compliance which costs money.
    Michael also found that the native Magento features were not as impressive as he first thought they were. For example,  their website search would never find anything that his customers would search for on his website. Michael had to sign up with Nextopia and pay another $300 per month to have a hosted search. The last straw for Michael was when his free eBay app integration failed, and he found out that there is no support for it. The developers of the free eBay app were only able to reply at midnight the next day. When Michael finally reached the developers by Email, they told him it will take four weeks before they can fix his issue and release a patch for it. Michael finally realized as everything in life you get what you pay for, when you get something for free you get no support. Michael learned his lesson that never again will he get lured into the “FREE” software scheme, but in the meantime Michael’s eBay business was down as he couldn’t update inventory or listings.
    Every night Michael would go to sleep at night feeling an Adrenaline rush because he had so much money invested and he was no longer running his business, but the business was running him. He was no longer just selling products, but he was maintaining software, legal, developers, and consultants.
    In the beginning, he loved the idea of eCommerce, and towards the end he dreaded it. He finally understood why so many people fail in eCommerce, and he was clueless on how anyone can succeed after what he has experienced.
    Michael is a real person, and fortunately for him he found Shopping Cart Elite right before he was going to call it quits. When we spoke to Michael, we told him we can give him every feature he requires along with enterprise marketing features, plus a fully managed hosting environment, developer and consultant free software, one on one VIP support and PCI compliant solution, for a few hundred dollars per month. He replied to us, “This is the first time in the past year that I am feeling hopeful, relieved and excited, THANK YOU!”.
    His only regret was that he did not find Shopping Cart Elite sooner, and no one ever told him what he was about to experience with Magento.
    Shopping Cart Elite is different from any other Shopping Cart in the market because we have a different core focus from any of our competitors. Our core focus is to Build the World’s Most Sophisticated eCommerce Solution, and we plan to do just that. We understand eCommerce because we ran multi-million dollars B2C and B2B operation for six years back in 2001. We were developing Shopping Cart Elite all the way back in 2001 in-house from the ground up for our own company. This is around the time oscommerce was just being born. Take any executive team from any competing Shopping Cart and they have ZERO EXPERIENCE in running a successful consumer product eCommerce business. How do they even understand what they need to build as their core platform without ever having any experience of day to day operations? This is like putting Kim Jong-un to rule the Army of North Korea while he doesn’t know his arse from his elbow.
    We are the only software company who truly understands all the factors that will make an eCommerce business automated and successful, and we are building affordable tools around those core factors for the eCommerce industry.
    Having the experience of running an eCommerce business, building the software in-house and now building an eCommerce platform, you are certainly crazy if you are planning to operate a open source shopping cart for your online business. There is a much BETTER and less expensive solution in the market right now.
    Regardless of how well or how poorly your company is performing right now. You unquestionably have a leak in your business, and the leak is your Shopping Cart Software. It is leaking your bank account, it is leaking your sales because it has bugs all over the place that you don’t even know about, it is leaking your staff’s time, it is leaking your success, and it is leaking your precious life on this planet. It doesn’t have to be this way, and you don’t need to wait until the water fills up to your neck before you take action.
    Try Shopping Cart Elite, because this is the only way you’ll ever get your business on the right path.
    Read more…
  • Organic vs PPC

    Google Adwords the new California Gold Rush

    Should you Rank in Google or Start Adwords

    Marketing your online business with Google reminds me of the famous California Gold Rush in 1848. Albert operated a gold mine that his father founded from the very first Gold Rush in 1799 at North Carolina. On February 1st, 1849 Albert and his friends John, Charles and Jake were drinking a beer when they heard the news about California Gold Rush. The announcer said, “GOLD, GOLD EVERYWHERE, JUST PICK IT OFF THE GROUND”. John, Charles, and Jake were envy of Albert, so they each went on a solo journey to California to find their very own gold mine.

    ORGANIC SEO

    As soon as John crossed the border to California he randomly picked a spot, and started digging. Unfortunately for John, he did not find any gold. If you try to rank your website for random keywords that you think will do well in Google search results, then you are John.

    Charles went to San Francisco, claimed his land and started digging next to hundreds of other miners that were already there. He did find some gold, but it wasn’t much and he never got his gold mine that he dreamed of having one day. If you pick out random keywords to rank your website in Google search results that all your competitors are focusing on as well, then you are Charles.

    NOTE: Most websites can only rank up to 10 keywords in Google search results without investing too much money. If you pick 10 random words, you have created a failed organic SEO plan for your website.

    PAY PER CLICK

    Jake figured he needed to hire someone to show him where to dig. Jake went to Albert and begged him to give him the best gold mining consultant who will go to California with him and show him where to dig. Bob a professional gold miner, was an expert, he had great testimonials and clearly knew what he was talking about. Jake was sold! In fact, Jake sold everything he owned including his house, and went to San Francisco with Bob. Bob showed Jake where to dig, and Jake was digging. Jake found lots of gold, but all of it went to Bob. In other words, Jake was digging, and Bob was collecting. If you pay Google to send you traffic without measuring the quality of it, then Google is Bob, and you are Jake.

    THE RIGHT WAY

    Charles, John, and Jake had to become gold mining experts before they even considered going to California. They could have hired Bob to teach them the techniques on finding gold, instead of telling them where to dig. All three should have worked together, Charles should have been digging, John should have been discovering new gold locations, and Jake should have been analyzing those locations.

    Using technology you can do the job of all three. If you are trying to rank for words in Google Search results by randomly choosing words, then you will spend a year before you realize you are not getting anywhere. Randomly chosen keywords will most likely drive you traffic that is not engaging or fake. You can’t cross the border because someone else found gold, and start digging at a random spot expecting to find something valuable. You need to be 100% confident before you spend your time and money.

    Oil companies spend billions on oil exploration and oil discovery. Before you can build a new house on your property, you must check for water underground, so the house doesn’t collapse. Marketing your business is no different.  “FIND THE GOLD”, you need to have solid proof that gold is underground before digging. You should test the keywords by PAYING SOMEONE like Google to send you Pay per Click traffic, and using the right tools to measure traffic quality for those words to see if they will result in sales. If you start buying paid traffic and it doesn’t produce sales, what makes you think that organic traffic will do any better when you rank for those words?

    Why would you wait six months, and spend hundreds of hours of your time, and hundreds of dollars to find out the result if traffic from a certain keyword will result in sales? Why not buy a few hundred visitors and get the results in less than one week?

    If you don’t have time to do this type of research, you can hire an Adwords Consultant to measure this for you and find your GOLD. If you are new to Adwords, then before you hire anyone I would recommend that you learn absolutely everything there is to know about Adwords.

    LEARN ADWORDS

    Adwords Basics

    Google Adwords Secrets

    Spyfu University

    TOOLS

    Which tools should you use to measure keyword traffic quality and find that gold? Well you can use a tool that everyone uses, called Google Analytics. By using that tool, you will be one of the thousand gold miners digging alongside each other and sharing stories about whose visitor bounce rate and time on site is higher. These stories are great for socializing at conferences, but not that great for business. Google Analytics is like a shovel, it can do the job, but it will take three months before you can figure out if a certain keyword is working or not. If you want results, you need some heavy duty machinery to dig deep, fast and get your answers overnight.

    The heavy duty machinery that can get the job done is usually too expensive for small businesses, but today there is one that is available and most importantly it is very affordable. It is called Traffic Analyzer by Shopping Cart Elite. Don’t take my word for it, go and judge for yourself:

    WATCH FULL PLAYLIST of all the functionalities that the Traffic Analyzer can do and compare it to Google Analytics.

    It will measure traffic quality, phone sales and even tell you which keywords to keep or drop. Traffic Analyzer is equivalent to the tools that Albert’s grandfather used to build his multi-million dollar gold mine.

    CONCLUSION

    You can’t keep depending on marketing opinions of other people. Other people don’t care about your success. You are the only one who cares about it, and you should be making the ultimate decisions. You are the CEO, not a minimum wage decision maker, and as a CEO you need to be an expert. Here is an easy test, if Google bought your company tomorrow, would they keep you as a CEO of your own company? Would Google approve your current marketing approach?

    If you answer NO! Then why as a CEO of your own company are doing what you are doing today? Why are you not making an effort of becoming an expert in whatever task that your company demands of you? I have no time is not an EXCUSE, not for a CEO.

    If you need help with getting your stuff together, I recommend that you get this book. Take a leap of faith and read it, I promise you that you will be thankful that you did. If you prefer to buy this book on Amazon, here is a link.

    ALREADY SUCCEEDING IN ADWORDS?

    Speak with our partner and expert in Adwords Todd Wilkinson (click here to inquire), let him look at your campaign at no charge. You might be already sitting on a gold mine, and he can help you better extract gold from the ground.

    ADWORDS NOT PERFORMING?

    Build a new website with Shopping Cart Elite, and use the Traffic Analyzer to find the golden keywords. You will invest a few hundred dollars per month for a new website, but indirectly you will save thousands of dollars per year because it will help all of your websites. You can tweak all your keyword campaigns for all your website and marketing channels. Stop being Jake and paying Google your hard earned money for bringing NO VALUE to your business! In most cases, we found that buying random keywords wastes 70% of your advertising budget. The amount of money you will save on this alone will justify having another website with Shopping Cart Elite because you can use the Traffic Analyzer.

    Delegate your existing budget or a new budget for the research using Google pay per click. REMEMBER, the first campaign is not to make money; it is to DISCOVER THE GOLDEN KEYWORDS. You need to figure out which keywords directly result in sales and focus on extracting as much traffic as possible from those keywords.  Shopping Cart Elite Traffic Analyzer will do that job for you. You simply invest some money into traffic, and you will have your first golden keywords in less than a week using the Traffic Analyzer. By doing this you will get solid proof if your business will succeed or not. Spend one week to create a one year plan, instead of spending one year gambling.

    Read more…
  • Excellent Speech!

    Excellent Speech!

    Read more…
  • If you are selling say Wheels, Tires or Expensive Auto Parts using Shopping Cart Elite and say the customer can’t afford it every time. Why don’t you offer them financing.

    I never used GE Money so I do not endorse their service, however I have seen many electronics outlets in my area offer me this option through GE Money.

    WHO IS GE MONEY: https://www.gemoney.com/en/business/who_is_gem.html

    APPLY FOR GE MONEY: https://www.gemoney.com/en/business/index.html

                                                                         
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  • Reach More Holiday Shoppers

    Standing out  during  the holiday season  is critical  to the success of many online businesses. Savvy retailers need to be on top of their game to capture their slice of the holiday  pie, which reached record-breaking sales in 2010. And, if the past two years are any indication,  with ecommerce sales in the fourth quarter totaling $39 billion in 2009 and $43 billion in 2010, then this year should be a happy one for online retailers. 

    In fact, Forrester research group predicts that US ecommerce should reach $278.9 billion by 2015. To empower online retailers to  strengthen their online presence, get found on the comparison shopping  channels and attract more qualified holiday shoppers.

     Holiday Guide Overview

    • Top 2010 Holiday Spending Days Reviewing last year’s record-breaking year

    • 2011’s Big Shopping Days  Mark your calendar

    • Top Holiday Strategies for Q4 2011 Month-by-Month Tactics

    • Reach More Shoppers  top channel & ecommerce service picks

    Top 2010 Holiday Spending Days

    With an increasing number of shoppers preferring the web over physical retail stores, together with high gasoline prices, the outlook is a bright one for online retailers.  As the 2011 holiday season approaches,  data from comScore’s Q2 2011 found that ecommerce sales in 2010 reached $43 billion; a 12% increase from 2009 and an all-time record for online retail. 

    Looking back at last year’s trends, below are the top holiday spending days, with Cyber Monday coming in at number one:

    2011’s Big Shopping Days- Mark Your Calendar

    • Halloween                       Oct. 31st

    • Thanksgiving                   Nov 24th

    • Black Friday                     Nov 25th

    • Cyber Monday                   Nov 28th

    • Peak-Week                     Dec 5th-12th

    • Free Shipping                   Cut-off Dec 12th-20th

    • Chanukah                         Dec  21st  

    • Christmas                         Dec 25th

    • New Year’s                     Day Jan 1st

    Top Holiday Strategies for 2011

    September

    • Review 2010 Holiday Sales. Now is the time to review historical sales data, gain insight from last year’s successes and avoid its mistakes. Evaluate at your overall revenue, cost and conversion rates and determine which shopping channel brought you the most quality traffic.

    Also, review last holiday season’s product winners and losers and use that feedback to help decide which unprofitable product lines to exclude this year.

    • Analyze, Optimize to see how you’re performing on each shopping channel, down to the SKU level, throughout the holidays.

    • Prepare 2011 Holiday Promotions Now- The earlier you start planning your holiday promotions, the better, keeping in mind that you want the sales/discounts in your datafeed to mirror your website’s holiday sales promotions.

    • Review Your Feeds in mid-September- Make sure to include any seasonal holiday products and/or exclude non-holiday items, to avoid higher holiday click rates. Also, review your feeds to make sure you are maximizing all your product attributes and that your products are in best category for each channel.

    October

    • Expand to More Shopping Channels- October is a good time to start increasing your visibility on additional shopping channels to gain traction for the holidays; sites like Amazon Product Ads or Nextag.

    • Check your Status on All Channels- make sure your feeds are valid, error-free and live on all shopping channels and that all your accounts are fully funded throughout the holidays.

    • Bid & Analyze your Top Categories- consider bidding higher for your best-selling product categories on the Pay-Per-Click (PPC) channels and routinely review your analytics to exclude unprofitable products. 

    • Promote Free Shipping, Promotions & Coupons- include any free shipping, holiday discounts or coupons through each channel’s shipping, promo-text or coupon fields, where applicable.

    • Add Holiday Promotional Content- In late October, start getting your feeds ‘holiday-ready’ by adding holiday-related search terms to your feeds. You can gain insight by reviewing last year’s top-performing keywords and including them in your descriptions;  this is most relevant for your holiday-related products and best-sellers.

    • Get Ready for Black Friday & Cyber Monday- by late October you should start preparing your Black Friday and Cyber Monday promotions. Keep in mind that the Cyber Monday last year was retail’s top selling day, coming in at a record-breaking $1.028 billion in the U.S.; that’s a 16% increase from 2009.

    November

    • Anticipate Rate Card Increases- many pay per click channels, like Shopping.com, Shopzilla, Nextag and PriceGrabber,  increase their rate-cards up to 20% during early to mid November, so leave  enough room in your fourth quarter budget to maintain your most popular holidays categories.

    • Launch Black Friday & Cyber Monday promotions – Finalize these promotions by mid November and have them up running the week of Black Friday. Make sure all your feeds are upto-date and test any promotional links to ensure they’re pointing to the correct Black Friday & Cyber Monday landing pages. Remember, it can take comparison shopping channels anywhere from a few minutes to 72 hours to process your feed, so plan your feed launches accordingly.

    • Monitor your Feeds Regularly - keep an eye on your performance and login to your shopping channel merchant accounts often to verify that the feeds are processing correctly and your accounts are fully funded.

    • Manage Merchant Ratings– many shoppers rely on shopping channel merchant reviews when deciding which store to buy from so keep your merchant ratings as high as possible by providing excellent customer service and swiftly responding to any negative customer reviews.

    • Exclude non-performing items- avoid wasting your holiday marketing budget by routinely reviewing your analytics to remove products that are gaining many clicks, but little or no conversions.  You can also maximize your holiday budget by removing any non-holiday related items from your feed and avoiding the elevated holiday click-rates.

    Expand your Reach

    Now is the ideal time to expand your marketing strategy to include popular channels including Nextag, Amazon Product Ads,  Become or Pronto.com as well as marketplaces like Amazon,  or Sears’ new ‘Sell on Sears,’  platform.  Also, make sure you’re taking advantage of all free listing opportunities on the shopping channels, like Google Product Search, TheFind and Bing Shopping, which has been on boarding new online retailers lately. 

    Marketplaces

    • Amazon when selling on the Web’s largest Marketplace during the holidays, make sure you’re submitting only the most complete, fresh feed and updating your stock status often enough (daily) to keep your Seller Performance and ‘Order Defect Rate’ in good standing.  Your images should meet Amazon’s requirements, which include a 500 x 500 (recommended) pixels .jpg or .gif photo of the product on a white or clear background only.

    Amazon Search Terms

    Also, you can enhance your visibility with up to five -strategic ‘Search Terms’- these are phrases that buyers use to search for your products. For search terms, don’t repeat title, brand, manufacturer terms, since Amazon will already pick up that data from your feed. Instead, look at the relevant data within your descriptions. You should also take advantage of Amazon’s Product Features/Bullet Points which highlight product details. 

    • Sears one of America’s most trusted brands and number 7 in the Internet Retailers’ Top 500

    Guide (2011), offers merchants a cost-per-action online marketplace  to reach millions of Sears Shoppers.

    Pay-per-Click Channels

    • Amazon Product Ads One of the highest converting pay-per-click sites, Amazon Product Ads takes Amazon’s shoppers directly to your site. Plus, to help you get started, they are offering a limited-time $75 in Free Clicks offer for select categories.

    • Nextag A sure bet for many online retailers, Nextag is a solid choice for PPC campaigns.

    • Become this up-and-coming channel is offering great promotions for the holidays, including incentives to install their ROI tracker as well as free logo and promo text values for new and existing merchants.

    • Pronto If you’re looking for more value for your online marketing dollar, listing your products with Pronto’s fast-growing channel offers specialty-branded ‘micro sites’ ProntoStyle, ProntoTech.com, ProntoHome.com, ProntoKids and BabyPronto, creating a unique retail experience with easy-to-access categories, brands and sale items. 

    • FindGift a gift-specialty shopping channel, FindGift is a gift-giving channel that helps shoppers find unique gift ideas, making it a great place to list your gift-centric products.

    Free Shopping Channels

    • Google Product Search the Web’s #1 shopping channel.

    • Bing Shopping Since Bing released its Shopping Program, which helps merchants reach morethan 83 million unique users for free,  their team is constantly making improvements to intelligently match shoppers’ queries with the most relevant search results. This free-listingengine is consistently ranked among the top in conversion rates.

    • TheFind connects shoppers with more than 500,000 merchants and claims 48 million searches a month.  To succeed, TheFind strongly recommend joining their UpFront Program and submitting only optimized, updated feeds.

                                                                          
    Read more…
  • Tutorial No. 1.20

    Title: Create a Subscription or a Subscription Bundle

    Description: In addition to physical products you can create and sell different types of services, such as a newsletter. This tutorial shows how to create a subscription for this service and how to bundle several subscriptions together.

                                                                             
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  • Beyond Showing Up - Seth Godin

    You’ve probably got that part nailed. Butt in seat, smile on your face. We often run into people who understand their job to be showing up on time to do the work that’s assigned.

    We’ve moved way beyond that now. Showing up and taking notes isn’t your job. Your job is to surprise and delight and to change the agenda. Your job is to escalate, reset expectations and make us delighted that you are part of the team.

    Showing up is overrated. Necessary but not nearly sufficient.

                 
    Read more…
  • DON’T WASTE ANOTHER DOLLAR

     

    THE ADWORDS COMPLAINT
    If you use AdWords, you probably know this complaint first hand:
     
    “We hired an agency that promised a certain number of clicks and visitors every month. They sent the clicks: but our sales are practically the same as before. What a waste of time and money.”

    When people ask me why their campaigns didn’t work, I tell them the problem began with a false assumption. Give me two minutes and I’ll clear this up so you never waste your money again.

    CLICKS DON’T EQUAL SALES
    Many people assume their sales would increase if only they could get more “traffic” to their website. But the fact is: there is little connection between number of paid clicks and sales volume.

    Companies that try to sell you click traffic are taking advantage of this common misunderstanding. Here’s a story that illustrates:

    ALBERT’S DILEMMA
    Albert is a restaurant owner in San Diego where he serves his signature dish: California Lobster Risotto. Albert is always looking for ways to drum up more business. One day he hired Jennifer, a college student, to go out on the street and hand out flyers: directing passersby into his restaurant.
     
    Albert wanted to pay Jennifer for performance. So he made a deal to pay her a finder’s fee of $1 for everyone she brought through the door. Albert figured he couldn’t go wrong; after all, he only had to pay when she delivered, and delivered, she did! Jennifer’s charm and good looks helped to bring dozens new of people into Albert’s restaurant. 

    THE GOTCHA
    But the problem was that Jennifer didn’t care if the people she found were hungry; whether they liked lobster risotto; or even if they had the money to pay for a meal!

    In fact, Jennifer discovered it was a lot easier to find people who don’t have money, simply because there are more of those kind of people around.
     
    So Albert ended up with a restaurant full of people who had no intention of buying a meal. But Jennifer did her job and she had to be paid.

    This is a lot like what happens with agencies that promise to drive website traffic. They may bring visitors to your site but it’s going to cost you money with no guarantee of sales.

    SO WHAT’S THE SECRET?
    The trick to successful pay-per-click is identifying the products worth the cost of advertising. Do this by deciding what percentage of the retail price (or better, percentage of the gross margin) can be earmarked for the sales effort.
     
    Let’s think about Albert again. He charges $50 for his famous Lobster Risotto. The profit margin on it is 30%.  This means after the cost of food, labor, overhead, etc., Albert makes $15 per meal sold. This is his gross margin. Albert wants $10 of that to go into his pocket (he needs to make a living after all!) but he decides he can spend 1/3 of the gross margin, or $5, on actually selling each meal.
     
    With this knowledge, Albert can go back to Jennifer and, this time, tell her to only bring in people who are hungry and ready to buy a meal. Of course, these people are harder to find but Albert can also pay more for each one of these qualified customers. 

    So now, instead of paying $1 and getting nothing, Albert will pay $5 and get a $50 sale, from which he’ll put $10 into his pocket.

    THAT’S ROI
    At first glance Jennifer’s $5 finder’s fee seems a lot more expensive than the $1 fee Albert used to pay. But when Albert considers that he now gets a $50 sale for each $5 he spends, he understands that it’s actually a lot more cost effective. He is now getting a positive return on his investment: otherwise known as “ROI”.

    In AdWords, the amount you can spend to make a sale is called the CPA (or, cost per acquisition). When you know your gross margin per product, you can determine what percentage of that will be your target CPA. With your CPA in mind, you now know how much you can bid on your keywords to make a profitable sale.

    DO WHAT THE PROS DO
    Wouldn’t it be better to only pay for the clicks that result in sales? Why pay for traffic that brings no value? 

    Be like the pros and segment out the high-value traffic from the no-value traffic. Focus on the keyword and ad combinations that result in the highest number of conversions within your target CPA and allocate budget away from those that have poor returns.

    So the next time you talk to an agency about managing your AdWords, ask them to explain how they will increase ROI for you. Keep in mind the story of Albert’s Lobster and you won’t get pinched.

    KNOWLEDGE IS POWER
    Get a free ROI assessment of your Adwords campaign to learn what you can do to improve your bottom line.

     

    ROI ASSESSMENT REQUEST

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  • Tutorial No. 6.6

    Title: Creating Titles

    Description: Creating good titles for your home page and product pages is one of the critical steps in getting good search engine rankings and traffic to your website. This tutorial covers information about what you should be doing for your home and product pages.

     

               
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  • FACT: You are going to be billed separately for each website development project, so staying within your budget can be difficult. Unless you are one of the Fortune 1000 with a web development and design team on payroll, than you are most likely new to eCommerce.

    What most new entrepreneurs fail to grasp is that a unique, content rich, beautifully designed website will not be successful if it lacks the proper functions. Those functions have to be coded into your custom design.

    For example, you want a nice looking introduction pop-up to capture your visitor information (email address, telephone number), like the ones that TigerDirect and Urban Outfitters are using. The popup design itself is easy, but how will you make it pop up? Where will it pop up? How long will it stay? Where will the entered information be saved?

    If you are doing a custom design for your website, note that there are literally millions of lines of code that hide behind that design. If you purchase one of those custom templates (which is not custom at all since anyone can download it and use it), a lack of functionality is almost guaranteed.

    As soon as your shopping cart provider stops supporting the template you are using, (or worse, they may have never supported it in the first place) your business will hit a dead end. Your shopping cart can fail altogether, stop taking orders, crash on various screens, and put your business right into the ground because it stopped working properly. Even if nothing breaks, it is just a matter of time before you have outdated features.

    Look at Amazon and eBay. Their website design remains unchanged after a decade, and no one seems to mind. Amazon and eBay close billions of dollars in sales every year despite the fact that their sellers all use the same website layout. Not only is the layout cookie cutter, but there are also competitors selling the same thing on the same marketplace. Facebook profiles are the same; Fortune 1000 fan pages just use different graphics and no one seems to mind. My favorite example is Apple. You cannot touch the framework when building the apps for their app store, and your app has to be designed by their standards.

    You want your website to look different and unique but not complicated.

    If you want a custom homepage you can have it designed by Shopping Cart Elite, and you can even have custom content pages. When it comes to shopping cart functionality such as product pages, search results, and checkout, you will not want to touch these at all.

    Shopping Cart Elite maintains a master template to create an industry standard website for all of our clients. You will always have the latest features with extremely high sales conversions since we are constantly enhancing the platform to deliver flexibility, convenience, and a user friendly experience.

    In this business, there are bound to be technical issues. Some we will understand, but most of them will send us to the nuthouse. Emailing tech support is in the everyday life of an online businessman. Expect to send a lot of emails with a subject line like “WHAT IS GOING ON WITH CHECKOUT” if you use a custom template. If you don’t track your checkout abandonments, then you will have to wait for about 100 lost customers before one lets you know your shopping cart is not working.

    THINK ABOUT IT: A shopping cart is no different; it is a platform, not a high school art project. Are you trying to make money or win a beauty contest?

    STILL NOT CONVINCED?

    To show you how often this happens, I’ll tell you a secret- 7 out of 10 people our sales representatives speak to state that their main reason for switching shopping carts is due to template coding issues, specifically at the checkout area. I bet that was not on your check list when you were starting your website. Be prepared for it if you use another shopping cart.

    Here is an email from one of my clients:

    “My biggest problem with Big Commerce is that something is wrong with the code at some stage of the checkout process, and they are not trying to fix it. So I am losing 3-4 customers a day, and very angry customers at that. I don’t so much care about the lost sales as much as I care most about the customer. It’s plain embarrassing. Big Commerce is one of those companies that you talk about in your videos (I have watched many). They just keep harvesting new customers without providing adequate support. I think changing the template may solve the problem, but that is only a layman’s guess. This could easily be a server issue.”

    This was our reply:

    “Let me tell you a little story about the checkout process. It is the most critical and fragile thing in an eCommerce platform. It is so fragile that I’ve asked my developers to copy reports of any errors that happen during the checkout process, and send them directly to one of my mailboxes. I review them personally every day. The checkout is extremely critical, and it is important that it works perfectly for everyone. Like you said, the checkout process failing is not only a lost sale and a disappointed customer, it is an embarrassing moment for your business. Click here to read more

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