Small business owners find this blog to be a great resource for sales and marketing strategies.

Three Steps to eCommerce Success

Published by Charles Brodeur

Starting an eCommerce business is becoming easier by the day. More business owners are looking to expand their online efforts to include eCommerce and build a true online business. Unfortunately, this presents a large set of challenges, not least of which is the threat of larger, better funded competitors online.

Thankfully, the key to successful eCommerce isn’t complicated. By planning ahead and considering your goals and your audience you will greatly increase your chances of success. Here’s three simple ways to make your online shop stand out from the crowd.

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Create Subject Lines for Results

Published by Charles Brodeur

Fifty characters could be all that stands between you and the success of your next email campaign. Why? Because 50 characters is all the space you have in a typical subject line – to catch the attention of your reader, entice them to open your email and take action. With so much at stake, marketers need a quick and proven reference tool for developing subject lines that get the desired
result: opened emails.

Let these rules be your guide.

Rule 1: Read the Newspaper

If you want to develop subject lines that result in higher open rates, pick up your local paper. Headlines usually highlight a story’s most important point with brevity, while taking the audience into consideration. Use that approach to make your subject lines short and intriguing enough to compel your subscribers toread your emails.

Subject lines should clearly state what your readers can expect from your email, what’s in it for them and what you want them to do as a result of the email. And your subject line must stand out from others in your customers’ crowded inbox in the most relevant way. Emulating the headlines from newspapers can be a good starting point in the development of subject lines.

Rule 2: Focus on the Objective

What is the objective, or end goal, of your email marketing program? In most cases your end goal is not necessarily high open rates, but rather to have subscribers take a specific and measurable
action. Determine what that one action is, and make sure your subject line will achieve your objective. For instance, if your goal is for recipients to purchase from your online store, don’t use a subject line that is informational in nature. Instead, use a clear call-to-action that emphasizes their opportunity to make a “must have” purchase.

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Five goals for your Website

Published by Charles Brodeur

I was recently asked to give some advice to a friend who wanted to have a web designer design her website. My friend runs a salon and she was one of those people who knew that she needed a website but didn't know about the business...

She had no idea what Web Designers charge, she didn't know how her website would work for her, she hadn't thought about what content she was going to put there, she just knew it was 2010 and every small business needs a website. Well, it was time to teach her a couple of things as a favour and help her with her strategy for her website.

I went through 5 strategies with her when I explained the opportunities with a website:

Goal 1: Selling Online

The most well known goal for eCommerce Businesses where you're looking for an extra channel to sell your products and services.

Strategy: To reach sales targets and reduce shopping cart abandons, you'll need to focus on an all-in-one eCommerce site complete with catalogs, products, shopping cart, shipping and a payment gateway and that provides an interesting and seamless shopping experience. Don't forget to add extras like upselling, recommended products, product galleries and plenty of credible product information to help meet your sales and orders targets.

But what happens when you can't sell online because what you sell is a physical service or you're not running a for-profit business? There's 4 other goals you can set for your Online Business to get return on investment...

Goal 2: Build Your Community

This goal applies particularly well to non-profit organizations like Churches, local Neighborhood organizations, Community organizations, Charities etc - they need to have online conversations/discussions with their current members and attract new ones.

Strategy: To build an online community, you'd need to nurture a social site with a discussion forum and post regular news on a blog to keep visitors coming back. Make a space for photo-uploads to show what's going on in your community, post podcasts of speeches or presentations for your visitors to download in a members-only area. Make sure members know about your site and that they contribute as well!

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Ways to optimize your Online Shop

Published by Paul Pyrlik

The year 2010 should be used to optimize your existing eCommerce Platform. Many Online Shops I see out there have enormous potentials for improvement. Some of them can't be implemented easily, e.g. Clean URLs (URLs which just reveal their resource, but not their technology) - here you are often limited by the technology and platform you use. However, there are many things you can do in the field of technical Search Engine Optimization (SEO). For this purpose one option would be to create a whole new template to get started. You can overhaul the GUI (graphical user interface) and optimize the template for all the search engines like Google and Yahoo. What needs to be done for this can be listed quickly:
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6 Ways to Build Links

Published by Paul Pyrlik

Google and other search engines such as Yahoo! or Bing use software programs called "Search Engine Spiders” to search the Web for content "relevant" sites. These spiders travel across links, then index and rank the web sites. Their rankings can be then seen on search engine result pages.

To be listed on top of the search engine pages it is critical to establish "relevant" link relationships, building both outbound and inbound links to your site. To help being ranked as high as possible it's necessary to build as many "relevant"  links as possible.

The more "relevant" links you have the greater your chances will be to attract more visitors. It's an easy and very effective formula to boost traffic to your web site while it's also one of the least expensive ways.

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Setting up the eCommerce Platform

Published by Charles Brodeur

About 4 years ago, we were looking into starting a new business, online. As an accomplished businessman we started thinking about what we were going to need to be successful. A website was the obvious starting point. It had to be easy enough to add and change content - because websites live or die on the basis of fresh, useful content.

Next - we needed a way to manage leads and customers. You need to be able to react quickly to new leads and follow up on old ones. Then, marketing. Email marketing to be precise. A permission based list of people who are receptive to hear your message is priceless. And don't forget - online shopping. Selling online is the most important function we needed to do.  We wanted to process orders 24 hours a day.

That's a basic list. There's more, like community forums, affiliate programs, blogs and so forth. But let's keep it simple, ok?

So, checklist in hand (we are pretty organized kinda guys) we went looking for something to do all this and we found Content Management Systems, and Customer Relationship Management systems, and Shopping carts, and Email Marketing Solutions, and Site Analytics. So we signed up to all these services and downloaded what we needed to download.

OK great, we thought, let's get started!....Or not.

We got frustrated. Because running any business is a little like racing a car. You've got to push hard, stay ahead of the pack and be smart about how you race. But our  problem wasn't that we couldn't race. We were wasting our time trying to build the nice, fast car.

The other problem was we found ourselves spending a lot of time trying to keep all his separate systems in sync. And more than once we forgot one of the five or six log in details we were supposed to remember.

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5 Steps to SEO On Page Set Up

Published by Charles Brodeur

Ever wonder if the basics from grade school would come in handy in your business life?

Getting your website ranked best in internet search results uses all of that knowledge. Search engine results are based on those science, math and English courses. Internet technology is the science that allows "spiders" to comb the "web" for data applicable to a search inquiry. Search engines have unique mathematical algorithms that formulate your website's relevance to that inquiry. Finally, your English lesson is where writing the copy on your website can help tie all of that together for best results. In the following, you will get valuable tips on creating titles, copywriting advice, using graphics, and keywords to better place your website in search rankings.

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5 Steps to a Successful Email Campaign

Published by Charles Brodeur

Step One: Make full use of your permission-based email software package. BigTurns has a ton of advanced features for handling your campaigns. It makes it easy to create and send your newsletters. It will manage subscriptions and bounced messages for you. It automates a lot of the grunt work involved in an email marketing campaign.

Step Two: You'll have to decide what type of campaign you want to run and how frequently you want to send your messages. I recommend sending at least a monthly newsletter. Of course, if you sell more than one product, it might be a good idea to send multiple messages. Just be sure to keep your broadcast times consistent. You may consider sending promotional messages offering a discount or coupon for your product.

Step Three: Add a sign-up form to your website. The sign-up form lets you collect a group of addresses for your sending lists. We've found that it's generally safe to import anyone who did business with you in the last year or so. Just make sure to send content relevant to what they purchased. (Always provide value!)

Step Four: Create an effective email template. A lot of email software programs include HTML templates. BigTurns actually comes with over 300 professionally designed templates. You can also create one in-house or use a graphic-design service.
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Communication: Blogging vs Email Newsletters

Published by Charles Brodeur

How to decide between blogging and a newsletter

Last night I was sorting all of my important paperwork: Car insurance, health insurance, credit card information, work stuff, tax information, and you get the idea. Then I put them into folders to organize. Let's do the same with your content and then decide where to include this content (Blog, Newsletter, or Both). 

  1. Education - BOTH
  2. Business ideas for feedback - NEWSLETTER
  3. Showcase before and after photos - NEWSLETTER
  4. FAQS - NEWSLETTER
  5. Common Concerns - BOTH
  6. Tips - BOTH
  7. Coupons and Discounts and Specials - NEWSLETTER
  8. Products - BOTH
There are a few caveats, so lets take a look at them.

Education:

You should never pass up an opportunity to educate. Customers like being in the know and they appreciate you keeping them up to date.
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Selling Tips for Online Business

Published by Charles Brodeur

Once you have your website up and people have started visiting it, your battle has only just begun. Everything is for sale in the Internet from snake oil to – maybe – atomic power barbecues. Why should people buy from you and how can you be sure you are making money on the sales? Making money on sales seems easy – if you buy for $8 and sell for $10, you have made a $2 profit. Right! Wrong.

It may have cost you $3 to sell the product and you won’t know it till you have lost a lot of money. So here are some things to keep in mind.

Know why people should buy from you. If you don’t, how will they? You need to know your product or service inside out. Nothing is ever perfect. Your product will have its weaknesses. Recognize them, try to minimize them and work with what you have.

Believe in your product. It’s not enough knowing it’s good. You have to believe it. This belief will come out in your approach to sales and add value to the sales pitch. Would you buy a Rolls Royce from a salesman who could recite why it is the best car in the world if you felt he did not really believe what he was saying?

What is different about your product? What benefits does buying from you provide to the customer as compared to other similar items or suppliers? These are called USPs or Unique Selling Points and make your product stand out in a crowd. Know these strength and capitalize on them when selling.

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