Elevating Your E-Commerce Site

Many times, there are misconceptions that there aren’t a lot of things you can do to improve your e-commerce site. Sites with many products might have difficulty looking beyond their products and at their actual site. Focusing on the basics, here are some things you can do elevate your site:

Make Contact Forms Appealing – Have you thought about getting rid of some unnecessary fields in your forms? Having less clutter can help improve your contact forms’ conversion rate as this study shows, up to almost 50%! For example, did you know that about 50% of top 100 retailers ask customers for the same information twice?! Additionally, fewer fields can also help establish trust as your customers don’t feel like you’re invading their privacy and only gathering relevant/necessary information.

Utilize User-Generated Content (UGC) – Reviews, testimonials, product reviews, Q&A are types of content that you can easily add throughout your e-commerce site. These snippets can be added via microformat codes to be integrated into search results or they can have their own dedicated section. Having UGC is yet another way to boost credibility and enhance the consumer experienced.

Make it Easy to Link to – If you’re on a retail site, it’s not unusual to see “ahwe3&67xjshw=” and other characters in the URL. Whenever possible, it’s important to have SEO-friendly URLS. This helps with users bookmark your site and encourages sharing, whether it’s via Facebook, Pinterest or even e-mail.

Improve Security – Security is an important issue when it comes to online shopping. Many people are afraid of having their contact information or even credit card information stolen. Unfortunately nowadays, this is becoming more of a pressing issue. There are some necessary steps you need to take in order to ensure your customers’ security like: using SSL(Secure Socket Layer) certificate, never automatically storing credit card information and using reliable a checkout gateway (like Paypal and Google
Checkout). Having prominent disclaimers showcasing your security is up to date is equally important.

KISS – In the end, this applies to most of the elements of your e-commerce site (or any website for that matter). Elements like your main navigation, search bar, check out process, and method for collecting contact info is crucial. But sometimes, even the most important elements can be overlooked.  There are ways to cut down on this clutter to ensure a smoother and more efficient shopping experience and all it takes is an audit through the eyes of a customer. Keep it simple, stupid!

5 Things Nerdist Industries Can Teach You About Marketing Your Business

What began 4 years ago as a blog by Chris Hardwick has transformed into the giant that is known as Nerdist Industries. The site is pretty much a one-stop-shop for nerds on all things pop culture. In recent news, Legendary Entertainment has acquired Nerdist (read more about that here.) So, just exactly how did one comedian’s idea blossom into an acquisition of a major production company? This is no small feat and certainly not an overnight success. Find out how Nerdist has become so successful and what your business can learn:

nerdist

1) Find a niche and go for it: Even within the “nerd culture”, there are different types of people and interests. Things usually associated with the word “nerd” include video games, computers and technology. But in fact, Nerdist has expanded on that limited mindset to also include: movies, music, food, comedy and even sex/health.

If you look at it compared to marketing, it’s the same way. Marketing is a very general term and there are so many different areas to expand on: traditional, email, newsletters, viral, direct mail, print, online, etc. Being a generalist is helpful but being a specialist can make your business stand out.

2) Appreciate your fans/customers: Nerdist provides free content via podcasts, articles and video clips. In a world where everything has a price tag, it’s nice to see something made with passion be put out for free for fans to consume. It’s also not surprising to see the hosts/comedians also respond to fans by comments or through Tweets. This personal touch makes fans feel more connected to the community and more likely to attend live shows.

Nowadays, social media provides a channel for companies to showcase the human side of their business. Personal interaction is crucial for repeat customers and to help establish a trustworthy reputation. As for giving things away, the Freemium model works well for many businesses, especially when it comes to digital goods.

3) Enlist the help of your friends: What makes Nerdist podcasts so great? When comedians invite their friends, of course! These conversations provide an inside look into the industry on a personal level that can’t be found anywhere else. And not to sound superficial, but it all ties back to promoting yourself but not at an in-your-face kind of way. After all, this is a business and there is money to be made. For example, in Doug Benson’s dining podcast, each episode focuses on a local eatery such as the Grilled Cheese Truck and the Let’s Be Frank hot dog cart. This is a great form of promotion that is interesting and relevant to foodies and comedy fans alike.

Cross promotion is a great way to gain exposure in a different audience… especially if it’s closely related. As a small business owner, there’s great opportunity when you combine efforts with friends or other local businesses. Bringing on others will help with networking in the industry and it will also force your business put out better services/products.

4) Make your branding memorable: Part of what makes Nerdist so recognizable is its consistent branding. Even though there are over 20 different podcasts, each of them still feels like they belong to the Nerdist family. Part of finding your individual voice in the crowd also means personalizing it, even if it is with a sign off catch phrase like “Enjoy your burrito” or “Keep it crispy”.

Does your business have a consistent look and feel? Branding is an important part of effective reputation management and building a credible repertoire. Whether you’re a small business or a large company, it’s important that consumers find your brand and logo memorable so that they keep you in mind for their future business needs.

5) Work hard and don’t lose sight of the big picture: Not just any comedian (or anyone, for that matter) can create a unique business model as Nerdist. Many people even question how Nerdist can even monetize the free content that they’re putting out but believe it, they are making it happen. This passion and desire for hard work didn’t just come from anywhere. After all, Chris could have been a washed-up former MTV host turned alcoholic if he didn’t turn his personal and professional life around.

There is no quick short cut to success and Nerdist is a perfect example of that. If you want your business to run like a well-oiled machine, the only way to do it is to get down and dirty and do it yourself. But no matter how much effort you put into things, remember to never lose sight of your integrity and remember why you’re in business in the first place!

Does Your Business Need SEO Now or Later?

Have you ever noticed that sometimes it’s the most important things we like to put off for later? When’s something is confusing or we’re not really sure what to make of it, those are the things that we save for much, much later.

When it comes to search engine optimization, it could hurt your business to wait until later (or never at all) to get started on a search marketing plan. SEO can be confusing if you’re new to the game but it doesn’t have to be if you have someone who works in the search marketing field on a daily basis. Here are some reasons why SEO is so important right now:

Any type of website – Whether you’re starting out with a brand new website or looking for a new SEO friendly web design template, search optimization can help boost your site’s traffic and organic search rankings.
Flexibility – As a small business, SEO can work with what you already have. An SEO plan can be integrated on your blogs, social networking profiles and even local listings. All these different mediums will work better with a synchronized plan so that more customers can find your business.
Long term investment – Some people think that SEO should just be done once and left alone. Think of SEO as a way to maintain the health of your website. It’s not just something you do once and forget about! Effective SEO plans change with different factors that affect your search rankings including consumer trends, seasons, competitors and more. These things are always changing, so why wouldn’t your SEO?

SEO is not the only type of online marketing that you should focus on but it’s a great, solid foundation for any other route you want to take (paid search, social media, e-commerce etc). If you’re looking for a Los Angeles SEO firm to help you achieve your business goals, call us today at (323) 340-4010 for a free consultation.

Do You Need Help with Social Media?

Before you hire a social media marketing company, there are a few things to consider.

Social Media Misconceptions

facebook scam

First off, it’s important to understand that using social media doesn’t guarantee success. It’s incredible how many times I’ve heard people say something along these lines, “I’ve heard you can make A LOT of money using Facebook and Twitter, but I don’t know how”. Remember those Google scams from the early 2000s? – “I’ve made thousands with Google by working from home!” Perhaps, scams like these are the reason why people have this idea implanted into their head. And now, these have moved on into the world of Facebook and Twitter. So, if you ever see anything like this ad below, remember to avoid it!

If you don’t have enough time or manpower to put effort into your social media accounts, how can you expect your campaign to succeed?

Areas of Expertise

If your industry requires special attention, it’s important to bring up concerns and questions that you might have. Social media isn’t the same across the board. For example, handling social media for health-related businesses greatly differs from from promoting e-commerce sites or local businesses. Managing a health business’ campaign can be more complicated than just advertising the sales and other promotions of a more traditional business. Ideally, you would hire a firm with experience and success with businesses in your industry.

Do Your Research

Social media is NOT like other aspects of online marketing of SEO, PPC or web design/development. Perhaps, the scary thing about it is the element of the unknown and needing to have time and resources to monitor these social interactions. Why do you think big corporations have entire teams of people dedicated to social media? Before you hire someone to handle your social media campaigns, it’s important to ask yourself what you’re getting yourself into. Perhaps, the saddest story I’ve heard is that of a relatively big business who signed a contract to outsource their social media marketing. Hundreds of dollars later, all they got were a handful of irrelevant and disconnected Facebook updates. Social media is neither an afterthought or a business live saver, so make your decision wisely!

SEO and PPC: Confused About Where to Start?

confusedIf you’re thinking about how to maximize your internet marketing budget by using search engine optimization or pay per click marketing for the first time, the decision can be a confusing one.

Since most people feel that SEO and PPC are two different strategies, they often feel that they can only go with one option. And this is where most people get it wrong – SEO and PPC work best when combined to help you meet a common goal at the end.

But how does it work? If you’re skeptical about using these two services at once, here’s a better way to look at how the two help each other out.

The Groundwork of SEO

When you start with SEO, it’s a permanent asset that will help your website content become more visible to search engines and targeted visitors. It’s best to have a list of desirable keywords that you’re targeting so that you know how to precisely track your progress. Depending on your industry, it may be more difficult to compete with certain terms. While SEO can only do so much to give you an overview of the best keywords to use, PPC can be a powerful tool to narrow down that list.

Pay Per Click Helps Your Optimization Strategy

As we’ve talked about before, broad search terms tend to be the most competitive ones. This usually means that they’re more expensive when it comes to cost per click. Using PPC’s insight on longer tail searches might look at less traffic but it will certainly help you reach more qualified customers who know and want what they’re looking for. Customer preference and search behaviors fluctuate and PPC can also help you see which areas of your business you should focus on promoting. No more wasted effort here!

A Recipe of Success

Establishing a strong SEO reputation by consistently creating unique content will help your site in the long run. This can also improve your website’s quality score and give you better leverage when (and if) you do decide to start with your PPC campaign. A good pay per click landing page = happy customer. In the end, SEO and PPC shouldn’t really been seen as two entirely different strategies, as they work well together to help create a more cohesive marketing goal in the end.

Social Media To-Do List for 2011

It’s the start of a new year, what do you have to show for it? Instead of making useless resolutions that you probably won’t keep, take some time to consider some meaningful ones for your social media plan:

Defeat randomness: It’s tempting to be random because of the social nature of these sites. But don’t!
Start off with a plan and develop objectives that you can stick to. Just like failing with your New Year’s resolutions, you start off by falling off on one day of working out, then three, then weeks and months go by! This is why you see so many abandoned Twitter accounts and Facebook Pages.

Avoid over reliance of social media – Instead of trying to branch out all at once, it’s easier and more effective to focus on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn, depending on your industry. Do a few things at a time so that you can do them well. You can always add more sites later if needed.

Another thing: if your site, products and services suck, do you really expect a handful of tweets to fix that? Think of social media as an extension of your brand’s image.

Invest in the biggest asset of time – Research and training will help you effectively carry out your social media objectives. It will also give you a better feel of the changing social environment and possibly build more more genuine online reputation. The main problem is that of time and many business don’t have the want or patience to invest.

What are some of your social media resolutions for 2011?