5 Steps to a Successful eCommerce Website

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5 STEPS
to a Successful E-Commerce Web Site
Optimize Your Site for Online Sales pg.15 pg.5 Creating a Winning E-Commerce Strategy pg. 7 pg. 7


About the sponsor…

Microsoft Office Live Small Business is a suite of Internet-based services for small businesses, designed to get you up and running online quickly and easily – all you need is a computer and an Internet connection. Microsoft Office Live Small Business services allow you to create a professional online presence without the expense of buying a server, setting up a complicated infrastructure and hiring technical staff to maintain it. Office Live Small Business includes everything you need to create a professional Web site, including a free domain name (e.g., www.adventure-works.com) easy site design tools (no HTML, required), Web hosting, company-branded E-Mail accounts, online tools to market your site, and even your own intranet site – an online and central space to store documents, customer information and project status. Plus you get simple online applications and tools to better collaborate with customers, employees and business stakeholders. Learn how you can get a free Web site at http://smallbusiness.officelive.com/

“Office Live is one of the most important online products I’ve seen – a very compelling suite of Web services for small business.” –Webware staff, CNET.com, June 2007

Copyright © 2008 StartupNation, LLC



Contents
Intro: What’s the Latest in E-Commerce? .......................................................4 Let’s Do the Numbers ......................................................................................................... 5 Getting Trendy .................................................................................................................... 5 Step : Creating a Winning E-Commerce Strategy ........................................7 Doing Your Homework ........................................................................................................ 8 Choosing an Effective Online Selling Strategy ................................................................... 8 Virtual Selling & Drop Shipping......................................................................................... 0 Step : Choosing the Right E-Commerce Tools & Services ......................... Partnering vs. DIY.............................................................................................................  Step : Optimize Your Site for Online Sales .............................................. 5 Site Navigation ................................................................................................................. 6 Create a Sales Funnel ...................................................................................................... 8 Test & Tweak .................................................................................................................... 9 Step 4: Measure & Analyze .......................................................................  User Testing ......................................................................................................................  Staff & Customer Site Reviews.........................................................................................  Testing on Different Platforms........................................................................................... 4 	 Tracking	bugs,	Confirming	fixes	&	Test	Links ................................................................... 4 Step	5:	Promoting	Your	Online	Business	&	Driving	Traffic ........................ 5 Let’s Go SEO! ................................................................................................................... 6 Increasing Your Search Rankings .................................................................................... 7 Promoting Online Business .............................................................................................. 9 Final Word ................................................................................................. 0 Resources ................................................................................................. 

Copyright © 2008 StartupNation, LLC



5 Steps to a Successful E-Commerce Web Site

Introduction:	What’s	the	Latest		 	 in	E-Commerce?

If you’re reading this, you’ve made the bold decision to launch your own online business. Congratulations! The good news: you’re not alone—and, as you’ll learn in the pages ahead— you couldn’t have picked a better time. Not only are there more people shopping online than ever before; there’s also more resources and technology tools available to show you the way (hence this guide!). Think	about	it.	Remember	the	first	time	you	heard	the	term	“e-commerce?”	Or	maybe	it	was	 called	“e-tailing,”	or	“e-business?”	Whatever	you	want	to	call	it,	in	the	early	days	e-commerce	 or selling products over the Web got a bad rap: We all remember the fabled story of Jeff Bezos starting	Amazon	in	his	garage	and	struggling	to	turn	a	profit?	And	what	about	the	early	“dotcom”	 businesses that rushed to sell their wares online, but couldn’t deliver—and ultimately failed? Those were dark days indeed. But times have changed… and the entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well online. The entire landscape has shifted, and more individuals and small businesses are turning to the Internet to buy, sell, and create new marketplaces. Put simply: There are more innovative ways to make money online than ever.

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Let’s Do the Numbers
Just	so	there’s	no	doubt	about	the	enormous	potential	for	starting	an	online	business,		 let’s	check	the	economic	barometer: •	 •	 •	 •	 More than 85% of the world’s online population shopped on the Web last year (Nielsen Global Online Survey) The market for online shopping increased by 40% in the last two years (Nielsen Global Online Survey) In 007, online sales reached well over $00 billion (U.S. Department of Commerce) By 00, online sales of apparel and accessories will reach $44 billion, up from $8 billion the previous year (Jupiter Research)

According	to	the	experts,	Internet	commerce	is	growing	at	a	record	pace.	And,	thanks	to	more	 experienced	online	shoppers	with	broadband	access	(fast	speeds)	and	sales	of	inexpensive	 computers, the future is looking brighter for new online businesses every year.

Getting Trendy
The key difference between today and Internet commerce in the late 990s is, in a word: infrastructure. That means now there are simply more new types of online services, technologies, and marketplaces that make it far easier for the average Jane to start an e-commerce business. Just	think	of	all	the	things	that	didn’t	exist	when	e-commerce	first	began:	blogs,	podcasts,	search	 engine marketing, WiFi, RSS feeds, social networking, and the list goes on. Here’s	a	quick	survey	of	some	of	the	latest	trends	driving	this	hotbed	of	e-commerce	today: Services	Built	for	Small	Businesses	– when it comes to the Internet and e-commerce, there’s no question Microsoft continues to lead—especially helping small businesses get started	–	with	no	technical	expertise	required.	Microsoft	Office	Live	Small	Business	includes	 everything you need to create a professional Web site or e-commerce site, including a domain name, easy site design tools, Web hosting, e-mail accounts, storage, shopping cart and more. Vast	Online	Marketplaces – eBay, Amazon, Overstock, and other online auction sites have spawned millions of businesses—from the home-based, do-it-yourselfers (DIY) to larger enterprises—buying and selling everything imaginable. These sites make it easy to learn the ups and downs of e-commerce with less risk.

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Turnkey	E-Commerce	Solutions – now online sellers can sign up with robust e-commerce platforms	or	services	to	help	them	configure	and	operate	online	stores,	handle	shopping	cart	 transactions, credit card processing, and publicize your site on multiple online marketplaces. These	include	Microsoft	Office	Live	Small	Business	Store	Manager	,	ChannelAdvisor,	eBay	 ProStores, Volusion, GoeCart, and others. Safe	Electronic	Payment	Services – one of the pitfalls of early e-commerce was the specter of online fraud and spotty payment methods. PayPal and other electronic payment services have paved the way for safe, painless online transactions. Search	Engine	Marketing – by placing ads for your online business with popular search engines and choosing key words or phrases that match with your products or services, you can	drive	more	traffic	to	your	site	and	dramatically	increase	revenue.	You	can	also	sign	up			 for	affiliate	marketing	programs	on	popular	sites	that	steer	shoppers	to	products	and	get	fees	 (More	on	affiliate	programs	in	Steps	3	and	4). Web Site Traffic Reports – this may sound complicated, but it’s really using simple (and free) tools to see how many visitors come to your site monthly, get a handle on what they’re buying	(or	not),	and	which	search	terms	they’re	using	to	find	your	site.	 In addition to these trends, online sellers today are using other new tools like blogs, social media (LinkedIn, MySpace, Facebook), and photo sharing (Flickr) to reach out and connect with potential customers all over the world. Other benefits of e-commerce include: •	 •	 •	 •	 •	 •	 •	 Increased sales Access to new sales channels Better brand awareness Increased	efficiency	with	new	technology New partnership and cross-selling opportunities Optimization of merchandise Instant customer feedback

	

So what are you waiting for?

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5 Steps to a Successful E-Commerce Web Site

Step	1:	Creating	a	Winning	 	 E-Commerce	Strategy

Now that you have a better lay of the land and understand the upsides of e-commerce today, it’s time to take a step back and create your online business strategy. This is where you ask yourself the important questions like, what do you want your online business to be? Of course, some of your answers will depend on where you are on the learning curve, and what kind of a budget you have to work with. So take a deep breath and get ready to dive into creative brainstorming and make decisions about where to start. Don’t be afraid to think big and set your sights high—but also be realistic about what you can do in a given day, week, month, and year. Keep in mind a well-thought out strategy and plan will guide your future decisions, save time and money, and avoid problems down the road. Finally, for the purpose of this discussion, we’re going to assume you either have a Web site or plan to build a Web presence around your online business. For more help on your Web site, check out these great resources:
[StartupNation.com: eBook – 11 Steps to Create a Successful Website] [StartupNation.com: Podcast – Planning for a Website]

This is the fun stuff! At the end of this step, you’ll have a clear vision of your online business, your strategy for generating revenue, and a plan for how to kick it off.

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Doing Your Homework
That’s right kids. Get your notebooks out and sharpen your pencils: you’re going back to school. If	you	want	to	sell	anything	online,	the	first	step	is	to	research	the	space	you’re	in.	Enter	a	word	 or search term in any of the major search engines—MSN, Live.com, Google, Yahoo!—for the product or service you want to sell and follow all the threads. Learn everything you can about your competitors, the best marketplaces for your product, pricing, advertising, and anything else you can that might help you get an advantage. Answer	these	key	questions: • •	 • • • •	 Who’s selling what you want to sell? How	easy	is	it	to	find	the	product	on	search	engines? Can you buy the product on eBay? Amazon? Others? What are the typical prices? What is the average sales volume? Your	goal	is	to	find	out	where	the	majority	of	the		 	 customers are buying your product online so you can make that part of your sales strategy.

	

Choosing an Effective Online Selling Strategy
Interestingly, the golden rule of commercial real estate that	says	“location,	location,	location”	also	applies	to	the	 online world. When you have an e-commerce-driven business, your goal is to attract customers to your location—your Web site. Most effective online businesses deploy a range of strategies	to	drive	traffic	their	way	and	attract	customers.	 Let’s say you’re in the business of selling original artwork, prints, and photographs and you want to begin doing so through an e-commerce Web site. What’s an effective selling strategy? After you’ve done your homework and determined who your	customers	are—or	your	“target	audience”—and	 where they shop online, then you’d develop a sales strategy to reach them.

Store Manager
Putting products online opens up a world of sales opportunities for small businesses. With the	Office	Live	Small	Business	Store	Manger,	 you can easily create your own fully customized online store and sell on eBay. Store	Manager	allows	you	to: Get an online store and eBay listings up quickly to start producing sales. Accept credit card payments, generate invoices and	send	purchase	confirmation	e-mails	for	a	 polished, professional image. Generate real-time sales reports to stay on top of revenue and orders across eBay and your Office	Live	Small	Business	site. Provide a shopping cart with the same look and feel as the rest of your site, for a seamless shopping	experience.

http://smallbusiness.officelive.com/

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5 Steps to a Successful E-Commerce Web Site

Here’s a list of things you might try: Search	marketing	–	anyone	who	wants	to	“get	found”	on	search	engines	should	learn	the	basics	 of search marketing. That means learning how to use the right keywords and links in your Web site to get noticed by search engines. It also includes purchasing ad words and placing ads on sites where your customers might be. More on search engine marketing in Step 5! Join	social	networks	–	like	LinkedIn,	Facebook,	MySpace,	or	other	specific	online	communities	 dedicated to art (in fact, there’s a site called www.myartspace.com ). Here you would set up your own environment, connect with people, run ads, and build your network. Blogging – you might start an online blog that’s part of a network of blogs that discusses the latest trends in art. There are probably hundreds or even thousands of blogs about photography and art. Partnering – once you’re in different online communities, you will meet other online small businesses who may want to list your site, share links, and even do some cross-selling. If you started your online business with a partner like Microsoft Office Live Small Business, you could take advantage of the online community forums to discuss your business. Get creative and don’t	be	afraid	to	pioneer	new	sales	channels	for	your	specific	product	or	service. Online	Marketplaces It’s a fact that most online businesses today are not selling their products directly to customers from just a single Web site. Because the Internet offers myriad of selling channels, many of the most effective, hard-hitting online businesses sell both on their own Web sites AND take advantage of popular online marketplaces like eBay, Amazon, and Overstock.com. There are several advantages to linking up with third-party marketplaces, including: •	 •		 •		 •		 •		 •		 High	traffic	volumes Access to customers searching for your product Online storefront tools Safe online transaction facilitation Better search rankings Brand recognition

(Keep	in	mind	each	online	marketplace	has	specific	fees	and	rules	that	apply.) Ultimately, when it comes to developing your online sales strategy, the goal is to match products with sites that sell your products best. Most successful online businesses today use some combination, or multichannel	approach, to selling product across the Web. Now’s the time to make a strategic decision about where you’d like launch your sales efforts—test that theory, and	find	new	opportunities	along	the	way.	

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5 Steps to a Successful E-Commerce Web Site

Other	online	marketplaces	where	you	might	list	your	products:	 www.overstock.com www.shopping.msn.com www.shopping.yahoo.com www.shopping.com www.shopzilla.com www.pricegrabber.com For information on online marketplaces, check out this great podcast: [StartupNation.com: Podcast – Kevin Harmon, Inflatablemadness.com]

Virtual Selling & Drop Shipping
An important concept in creating a winning e-commerce strategy is learning how to take advantage of virtual selling and drop shipping. This is an interesting nuance to selling online that’s driving huge sales numbers. Here’s how it works: Let’s say you have an online store selling mid-century modern home furnishings. You discover there are also large, wholesale distributors that sell some of the brands you don’t carry. So you make a deal with these distributors to list those brands on your site as well. When you make a sale from your site but don’t have that item in your inventory, you place an order through the distributor,	and	they	fulfill	the	sale	to	your	customer.	The	product	is	sent	directly	to	your	customer,	 and you essentially facilitate the sale without touching the product. This way both your online business	and	the	distributor	share	in	the	profit! This	“drop	ship”	strategy	has	become	one	of	the	most	efficient	and	popular	ways	to	cross-sell,	 increase volume, and take advantage of the Internet technology (databases that talk to each other) to enhance your revenues. One	example	of	this	success	is	Overstock.com.	Through	its	Partnership	Program,	Overstock.com	 signs up distributors, and as sales are made from their Web site, the items are drop shipped to the customers. This now accounts for about 80% of their business.

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5 Steps to a Successful E-Commerce Web Site

In Sum…
Now	you	have	a	clear	understanding	of	how	to	create	your	own		 winning	e-commerce	strategy: •	 •	 •	 Collect the right data about your online business Develop an online sales strategy that matches your products with the right locations and customers on the Web Take advantage of virtual sales channels, online marketplaces, technology partnerships, and drop shipping

Copyright © 2008 StartupNation, LLC



5 Steps to a Successful E-Commerce Web Site

Step	2:	Choosing the Right 	 	 E-Commerce	Tools	&	Services

When you look at all the new technologies, services, and resources available today for starting an online	business,	it’s	both	exhilarating	and	overwhelming.	Many	of	the	first	online	businesses	had	 to build their own homegrown e-commerce tools—online storefronts, shopping cart applications, product and customer databases, and electronic payment systems—and many more failed trying.

Copyright © 2008 StartupNation, LLC



5 Steps to a Successful E-Commerce Web Site

Partnering vs. DIY
Most	online	business	experts	agree:	Don’t	try	and	reinvent	the	wheel.	Take	advantage	of	leading e-commerce	solutions	that	can	help	you	quickly	and	efficiently	get	your	business	online.	If you carefully	determine	what	you	can	do	yourself,	and	choose	the	right	mix	of	available	e-commerce tools and solutions, you’ll get your products to market faster—and start generating revenue sooner. Let’s first itemize the core components of an online business or e-commerce Web site: •	 Storefront Web site (domain name, web host, Internet service provider, FTP software, etc.) •		 Product or catalog database software •		 Shopping cart software •		 Merchant accounts •		 Secure electronic payment system (including Secure Sockets Layer (SSL), 			 choice	of	payment	options,	credit	card	verification	service) •		 PayPal Merchant Services •		 Customer relationship database •		 Shipping services (including international) •		 Keyword and search engine listings And the list goes on… These are the essential tools you need to buy or build to operate a successful online business. Whether you’re starting small, or going for a larger operation, it makes sense to consider partnering with a full-service e-commerce provider. Why? Because by the time you add up all the components, your budget can take a pretty significant	hit—in	both	dollars	and	time.	 Full-Service	E-Commerce	Providers Today there are several options when it comes to partnering with an e-commerce service provider. Most offer software and technology to help you create an online	storefront,	maximize	profits	across	popular	online	 marketplaces, and link up with search engines, for starters. And, most provide you with tools to analyze how your business is doing so you can focus on selling products and not waste time and money on costly IT investments. Additional	e-commerce	solution	providers	include: •		 •		 •		 •		 •		 ChannelAdvisor – www.channeladvisor.com StoreFront – www.storefront.net ProStores, an eBay company – www.prostores.com GoeCart – www.goecart.com Volusion – www.volusion.com

Today it’s easier than ever for a small business owner to leverage the Web to grow their business	online.	Microsoft	Office	Live	Small	 Business	provides	a	fully	integrated	experience	 that allows you to set up and manage your Web site or e-commerce site, and utilize tools like search engine and e-mail marketing to promote your business and attract customers. And you get access to a full set of business applications that make managing your business online simple and effective. Office	Live	Small	Business	provides	a	consistent	 look and feel across your entire online presence, integrated reporting tools to track and analyze results, and a single interface to manage all applications. Visit	Microsoft	Office	Live	Small	Business	

http://smallbusiness.officelive.com/
to learn more and get started.

Copyright © 2008 StartupNation, LLC



5 Steps to a Successful E-Commerce Web Site

In Sum…
Whether you decide to do it yourself, partner with a service provider, or some combination of the two, equip your online business with the right tools to make it fast and easy for your customers to buy.

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Step	3:	Optimize Your Site	 	 for	Online	Sales

Now that you have an online selling strategy and an idea of the tools you’ll need on your Web site, let’s talk about how to organize and optimize your Web site to make it a lean, mean, selling machine! But remember, just having a Web site with pages displaying your products won’t drive sales. Your online business must have a compelling look and feel to attract customers, and have an easy navigation system so it’s a breeze to quickly browse and buy your products.

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Site Navigation
One of the fastest ways to lose sales is through poor site navigation. If your customers can’t find	what	they’re	looking	for,	instantly,	chances	are	they’ll	move	on	to	another	vendor.	The	site	 structure should be simple to understand at a glance, and easy to use. Most successful e-commerce sites have two levels of pages. When you’re on the home page, there should be a set of tabs that run along the top of the page that lead to the second level pages.	Some	typical	examples	are:	Our	Products,	Order,	Contact	Us,	and	About	Us.	Along	the	 left-hand side of the Home page, these same tabs should be available, as well as a list of your products, hot selling items, and other important call-outs. In	addition	to	this	simple	navigation,	here	are	a	few	more	must-haves: •	 •	 •		 • • • • Company name and logo on every page, preferably top left Featured, or sale products on the home page Links back to the homepage or breadcrumbs Footer that includes home, shopping cart, contact us, shipping, legal Persistent shopping cart link, preferably top right Site map Site search

The good news is most Web design programs and storefront creators are built around these design and navigation principles, so if you’re using one of these programs you’ll be ahead of the game. Don’t be afraid to check out other sites you like and get cues from their site navigation. Here’s	a	short	list	of	e-commerce	sites	with	exemplary	selling-focused	navigation: •		 •		 •		 •		 www.inflatablemadness.com www.overstock.com www.sophiasstyle.com www.designerathletic.com

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Tip	
7	Pages	every	Web	site	should	have	
Don’t look now, but your Web site might be missing a few pages—very important pages. You’re not alone. Most small-business sites are a work in progress—constantly being revised, improved, and updated. So invariably, something is always missing. But some pages are so important that not having them could hurt your bottom line.

Here	are	seven	pages	every	business	Web	site	must	have,	and	where	they	need	to	be:	
1.	 Contact	Us.	Every small-business site should have a Contact Us page and it should offer visitors a complete list of ways they can contact you – from e-mail addresses to toll-free numbers to a physical address. 2.		 Testimonials.	Many companies skip the Testimonials page because they consider it too self-serving. While 	 having	a	page	like	that	may	seem	self-promotional,	people	will	look	for	it.	And	when	they	don’t	find	it,	they	 might begin to make assumptions. 3.	 FAQ.	Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) are frequently forgotten, too. Why is an FAQ page so important? Mostly, they’ll ensure you won’t have to answer the same questions over and over. But it also is a convenience for site visitors. 4.		 Privacy	Policy. Web users are more conscious about safety and privacy than ever. A good privacy policy is an absolute must. Linking to this page from anyplace on the site that you ask for personal information is a good trust-builder and will decrease abandonment. Many companies require you have a privacy policy before they’ll do business with you. 5.		 A	“gimme”	page.	Want readers to sign up for your newsletter or regular special offers? Add a section where users can be persuaded to give up some of their personal information (such as their names and 	 e-mail	addresses)	in	exchange	for	…	well,	something	else.	In	many	cases,	this	is	an	informative	report,	a	 keychain, a chance to win tickets to a ballgame, or a cash prize. 6.		 About	Us.	But just because you can do business with people you might never meet doesn’t mean they don’t want to know about whom they’re doing business with. The most effective About Us pages are succinct and use no jargon. 7. Confirmation. A	decent	confirmation	page	that	acknowledges	an	order	and	thanks	the	visitor	for	his	or	her	 business is essential—and often lacking.

http://smallbusiness.officelive.com/

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Creating a Sales Funnel
When it comes to selling online, all roads must lead to a sale. That means when you click on a product, there’s always a clear path to action—how to buy! Paths	to	Action Think about it this way: if your online business sells baseball equipment—shoes, apparel, gloves, hats,	and	so	on—your	site	should	essentially	guide	a	customer	to	exactly	what	they’re	looking	 for	and	serve	up	those	options.	For	example,	if	a	customer	enters	the	site	and	just	wants	to	look	 at batting gloves, they should instantly be able to see that option. Clicking into that area, they should see all the batting gloves you sell—the styles, colors, sizes, and brands. Once they’ve made a selection, there should be all the pertinent information for that glove—and a clear path to purchase. Cross-selling	Products This refers to creating obvious links to other products within your site that match the item or items someone is browsing. Let’s stick with the baseball equipment scenario. If someone is looking at batting gloves, you might naturally have links and images within that product area featuring baseball bats, since they go hand-in-hand. You may also have other items that pertain to hitting, such as balls, or equipment like batting helmets or batting cages for practicing. Photos	&	Imagery There’s no substitute for good photos of your products. It’s a mistake to skimp or try and cut corners here. Several online businesses we surveyed said that just updating their sites with higher quality photos with better resolution dramatically boosted sales—in some cases by 50%! Online	Merchandising One of the fastest ways to lose a sale is to have a site that’s way too cluttered with product. Sure, you want people to know that you have a lot to sell. And you want them to understand you offer a variety of brands. But, when pages are overcrowded, visitors easily lose their way, get confused, and often back out of the site. This is especially true on the home page. Keep it clean, crisp, and allow people to quickly see all your categories, but only serve up a handful of nice photos for each product category so people don’t get overwhelmed. Check out the sites we listed above, especially	Overstock.com,	for	a	good	example	of	online	merchandising. Integrated	Solutions As discussed above, this is another area in which the power of integrated solutions that allow you to do e-commerce, SEM, e-mail marketing, and provide reporting—all in one environment. This can have a dramatic effect on leading your customers down a path to action, where you can build and	nurture	relationships	and	ultimately	drive	higher	profits.	

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Test & Tweak
What do we mean when we say test? Think about it: creating an online business can give you instant feedback about how you’re doing. Where else can you intimately experiment	and	optimize?	Because	 you can see how many hits an item has,	how	many	people	expand	a	 photo of a product, and where they abandon their shopping cart, you’re able to make surgical changes to your site and test that change! You’re in the catbird seat—with a simple analytics	tool,	like	that	offered	in	Office	 Live Small Business Store Manager— you can push buttons, pull levers, and make updates to your site instantly. That’s the real power of selling online. There’s no other sales medium like it. Let’s say you’re a wine distributor and you sell to local grocery stores, restaurants, and other outlets. Without a Web presence, every time you add a wine to your inventory, you have to physically update your catalog to make sure your sales people have the latest information about pricing, inventory, and description. When you have a Web site with a database of your wines, not only can you instantly update it, but you can also get a better handle on sales, see what people are clicking on and buy more of those popular wines. So, make sure you’re using your Web site to make strategic decision, and test your hypotheses. Move items around, and feature products; see what you can do to drive sales of popular items—it’s all right at your fingertips.

	
Microsoft	Office	Live	Small	Business	 delivers features and enhancements that help small businesses get online, attract customers, and manage their business.

Get	Online	 	
Web	site	–	includes	advanced	design	features	for	greater	flexibility	 and site customization, and improvements to the display and collection of structured data — all with 4/7 support. E-mail	– get up to 00 company-branded accounts, each with 5 GB of storage to help your business communicate professionally.	 Private	domain	name	registration– automatically receive private domain name registration, helping you better protect your contact information from spammers and phishers. Support	– all customers now receive 4/7 support, including free phone	support	for	the	first	30	days.

Attract	Customers	 	
Store	Manager	–	hosted e-commerce service enables you to list and	sell	products	on	your	Office	Live	Small	Business	Web	site	and on eBay. E-mail	Marketing	–	enables you to stay connected to current customers and introduce yourself to new ones by sending regular e-mail newsletters, promotions, and updates. Contact	Manager	–	free to all customers, it’s the foundation of customer	marketing,	with	a	significantly	improved	user	interface	 that	enables	you	to	find	and	add	contacts	more	efficiently.	 adManager	–	allows you to advertise within multiple search engines, including	Live	Search	on	MSN,	Ask.com,	Excite.com	and	Lycos.com.	

Manage Your Business	 	
Business	Applications	–	two of the most popular applications — Team Workspace and Document Manager — are included, and you can easily activate any of the more than 0 others, such as Project Manager, for free. Reports – with	Web	site	traffic	and	marketing	reporting	integrated	into	 one	central	reporting	experience,	you	can	have	the	insights	you	need	 to	understand	how	your	marketing	campaigns	impact	your	site	traffic. Homepage	Gadgets	–	The	Office	Live	Small	Business	Home	page	now	 includes a Reports tool gadget that shows you at a glance the number of unique visitors and page views for the current week and the previous two weeks.

http://smallbusiness.officelive.com/

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5 Steps to a Successful E-Commerce Web Site

Bonus Tip
5	Mistakes	every	Web	site	should	avoid	 But let’s go beyond bad font choices, graphics, and animation. What are the biggest usability mistakes that	aren’t	as	obvious?	Here	are	five,	with	tips	on	how	to	avoid	them.	 . Having	a	confusing	or	counterintuitive	site	structure.	Nothing drives users away faster than a site that	forces	them	to	click	around	aimlessly	until	they	stumble	upon	the	right	page.	An	expert	user	should	be	 able to get where she wants to be in no more than three clicks. . Making	the	menu	too	complicated.	Menus are the rough equivalent of a Web site’s spine. You want to keep them clear, straight, and strong. Navigation is normally found running horizontally across the top of a page in a tab-like orientation or stacked vertically along the left side of the page. No funny coding. No funny scripts. . Lapsing	into	industry	jargon.	An overabundance of marketing-speak and technical or industry jargon is a	very	common	mistake.	Your	goal	should	be	striking	that	balance	between	efficient	search	engine	optimization	 and easy-to-read copy. 4. Overpromising,	or	even	under-promising,	what	you	can	deliver.	A Web site becomes unusable, and thus irrelevant, when it tells users that it will do something and then does not do it. That will drive those visitors away. Permanently. 5. Not	closing	the	sale.	If	the	site	doesn’t	call	the	user	to	some	sort	of	action,	whether	it	be	phoning,	faxing,	 e-mailing, or forming an order or at least a question, the user won’t be drawn to jump through the hoop.

http://smallbusiness.officelive.com/

In Sum…
Create an online business that sells: go beyond just putting up a Web site and photos of your product. You need a compelling Web presence that attracts customers and actively sells your products. The keys to success include: good site navigation with clear paths to action, creating a sales funnel, taking advantage of cross-selling opportunities, and making sure you have great photos and imagery on your site.

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5 Steps to a Successful E-Commerce Web Site

Step	4:	Measure & Analyze

In the last step we discussed the importance of optimizing your site to ensure you have the best navigation, a sales funnel, and that you’re testing different ways of selling your products. In this step we’ll talk about measuring how well your site’s doing, and analyzing those results to improve your sales motion.

Copyright © 2008 StartupNation, LLC



5 Steps to a Successful E-Commerce Web Site
User	Testing Before you start telegraphing to the world that you’re online, be sure to test for the following: •		 Have you checked for spelling and grammar mistakes? Even the slickest, most professional site will look like amateur hour if you’ve ignored basic content editing. And don’t trust your spellchecker. It	doesn’t	know	the	difference	between	“their”	and	“there”	and	a	lot	more.	 •		 Are your pages and navigation consistent across the site (see Step	3)? •		 Do	all	of	the	links	work,	taking	users	where	they	expect	to	go?	 •		 Are	all	of	your	pages	printable?	Some	Web	users	are	still	“old-school,”	so	building	in	a	 	 “Print	This	Page”	function	can	be	a	crowd	pleaser.	 Staff and Customer Site Reviews While you’ll always be able to make changes to your Web site after launch, it’s important to ask your	employees	to	review	it	now,	especially	those	sections	related	to	their	workflow.	Then	be	sure	 they feel free to give honest feedback. This	also	puts	more	pairs	of	eyes	on	the	content	to	pick	up	typos,	spelling	or	other	text	errors,	 as well as problems with images, video and audio content. Then	there	are	your	customers.	It’s	hard	to	see	your	company	and	Web	site	exactly	from	your	 customers’	point	of	view,	but	give	it	a	good	try	and	you’ll	get	more	traffic.	We	encourage	you	to	put	 your site in front of peers to give you feedback. You can do that easily at StartupNation’s Web Site Critique service. in StartupNation’s community section and get instant feedback from peer entrepreneurs. Here	are	some	questions	to	ask:	 . Do you understand, or have any questions about, the information on our site? 2.		 Does	our	Web	site	flow?	In	other	words,	does	the	information	roll	easily	from	one	page	to	the	next?	 3.		 Is	it	easy	to	use	and	find	your	way	around?	 4.		 Did	you	lose	patience	trying	to	find	what	you	needed,	waiting	for	pages	to	load	or	links	to	work?	 5. Do the pages print OK? 6. Are images, audio and video the right size? 7. Are our products or services clearly displayed? 8. Is our shopping cart easy to use? Do you trust it 9.		 Are	all	forms	easy	to	understand,	fill	in	and	send?	 0. Do you like how our Web site looks and works? If not, why? If you have trouble getting volunteers to step forward, offer them a gift card, restaurant coupon, even discounts on your products. The important thing is to get potential users to review your business Web site.

Copyright © 2008 StartupNation, LLC



5 Steps to a Successful E-Commerce Web Site

Site Reports
How do you know how well your Web site is performing? How many visitors come to your site? Which pages do they visit most? As we discussed above, there are several options for measuring your performance You can get this information with a few clicks of your mouse with Site Reports, which are included with Microsoft Office Live Small Business. Site Reports tracks all kinds of helpful information	about	visitor	traffic	to	and	from	your	Web	site.	You	can	spend	hours	checking	out	 all	the	details,	but	we	know	you	have	a	business	to	run	so	we’re	telling	you	about	the	five	 reports we think are most essential. 1. Search engines and the keywords people use to find you: It’s	enlightening	to	find	 out which search terms bring people to your site. If you don’t see the keywords you feel are important to your business, take another look at your content to give those words greater prominence. 2. Traffic summary: The Traffic summary page	gives	you	a	great	snapshot	of	your	traffic	 	 data,	and	it	also	drills	down	on	both	isitors	and	page	views.	Views	tell	you	exactly	how	 many times a page was visited. Visitors tell you how many unique users came to the site 	 or	page	in	a	specified	time	frame.	 3.		 Are	your	pages	revolving	doors?	Unlike your place of business, your Web site offers people as many doors as it has pages. If you are interested in knowing which pages people land on when they come to your site, the Entry Pages report will tell you—by day, week, month, and year. People have to leave your site sooner or later, but knowing which page they are on when they make that decision is helpful. 4.		 No	matter	what	your	mother	told	you,	popularity	IS	important.	It’s	always	exciting	 	 to	click	into	the	Most	Requested	Pages	report	and	find	out	what	people	are	looking	for.	A	 page may land at the top of this list because search engines are picking up terms that people are searching for. Make sure that the navigation and links on these pages are clear so that people don’t leave, but instead move to other pages. Use this report also to 	 identify	weak	pages	on	your	site	that	you	need	to	improve	to	pull	traffic	in.	 5.		 Top	referring	pages:	“Referring”	Web	sites	are	just	like	people	you	network	with—some	 send you more business than others. When you look at the Top Referring Pages report 	 you’ll	see	that	search	engines	typically	will	send	you	the	most	visitors.	But	you	may	find	 that a Web site linked to you also is a top referrer. Use this report to discover new sites or 	 events	that	drive	traffic	to	your	pages,	such	as	a	blog	entry	or	online	news	article	that	 points to your site.

http://smallbusiness.officelive.com/

Copyright © 2008 StartupNation, LLC



5 Steps to a Successful E-Commerce Web Site

Testing	on	Different	Platforms	and	Browsers	 Just because your Web site looks great and runs smoothly on your Windows Vista machine in	Internet	Explorer	doesn’t	mean	it	will	look	the	same	on	Firefox,	a	Mac	or	other	browsers	 or operating systems. So: Be sure to test your site across all browsers, and keep up on new releases or upgrades after you go live. Most of your customers will be using Windows XP, Vista or Macintosh OS X, so it’s essential that your site works on all platforms, or operating systems. Take a look at your Web site on a variety of monitors. Color settings and screen resolutions vary, and an LCD monitor’s quality is much higher than a standard CRT monitors. You can’t do much about	it,	but	if	you	see	drastic	differences	between	monitors,	fine-tune	a	little	to	cut	the	gaps. Tracking Bugs, Confirming Fixes and Testing Links (Again) When	you	find	bugs,	make	a	note	of	them	and	the	fixes	in	a	log	or	record	book.	That	way,	 if it happens again, you’ll know what worked or what didn’t. Once	you’ve	gone	through	and	tested	the	site,	go	back	to	the	log	and	confirm	that	everything’s	 been	fixed.	This	will	also	turn	up	any	problems	that	might	have	been	caused	by	fixes	later	in	the	list.	 Test all of your links again. Few things rile Web site visitors more than links to nowhere. And don’t rely	on	the	tiresome	“Click	Here”	as	your	only	link	“description.”	Make	your	links	say	what	they	do.	 This will also help you in your SEO efforts if you have embedded keywords into these links.

In Sum…
It’s crucial to constantly measure how well your site is doing, and analyze those results to improve
your sales motion.

Copyright © 2008 StartupNation, LLC

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5 Steps to a Successful E-Commerce Web Site

Step	5:	Promoting Your Online 	 Business & Driving Traffic

Having	a	totally	bulletproof	e-commerce	Web	site	with	cool	products	but	no	traffic	is	like	throwing	 a party but nobody shows up. One of the biggest challenges of running an online business is figuring	out	how	to	get	found	among	the	millions	of	Web	sites	on	the	Internet.	While	the	Google	 algorithms remain some of the most guarded secrets in the world, there are some very practical steps	you	can	take	to	ensure	customers	find	your	business	on	the	Web.

Copyright © 2008 StartupNation, LLC

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5 Steps to a Successful E-Commerce Web Site

Let’s Go SEO!
Much of this step is devoted to search engine optimization (SEO). So what does that mean, exactly?	SEO	is	a	set	of	best	practices	that	online	businesses	use	to	improve	their	site’s	 placement in search engine results. A related practice is search engine marketing (SEM), which is how companies attempt to use search engines to market their companies. SEO has become one of the hottest topics on the Web because most consumers use the major search	engines	to	find	products	they	want	to	buy.	So	how	is	it	that	some	companies	get	their	site	 ranked	in	the	top	10	or	even	the	first	couple	pages	on	popular	search	engines?	 First, here’s a quick primer on SEO: How	SEO	Works	 Most crawler-based search engines have three key ingredients: Spider – or crawler that seeks out a Web page and follows links to other pages on the site. These powerful little tech-mites return every few weeks to look for changes and adjust results. An	indexed	archive - where all content uncovered by the spiders is stored. Also known as the catalog, it contains a copy of every Web page found, and is updated as a Web site changes or grows	–	for	example,	when	you	add	new	products.	 Software	-	that	zips	through	the	index	database	to	“match”	search	requests	and	rank	them	by	 relevance. Because most crawler-based search engines use their own technology, search results vary between them. How Search Engines Rank Web Sites Unlike a human archivist or librarian, Internet search engines don’t interact with users and ask for	more	details,	or	use	judgment	and	past	experience	to	rank	Web	pages.	Instead,	they	rely	on	 mathematic	formulas	called	“algorithms.”	Despite	what	you	may	hear,	nobody	but	the	search	 engine	owner	knows	exactly	how	the	algorithm	works.	But	they	do	follow	a	universal	practice	 known as the keyword location/frequency method. Search engines look over your Web site to see	if	the	search	keywords	show	up	at	the	top	your	pages,	in	the	headlines	or	the	first	few	lines	 of	text	content.	 They assume that any page relevant to a given search topic will mention those magic words right from	the	start.	“Frequency”	is	how	often	keywords	appear	in	relation	to	other	words	on	a	Web	 page. Those with higher frequency are given more relevance, and higher rankings.

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5 Steps to a Successful E-Commerce Web Site

Increasing Your Search Rankings
1. Register with Search Engines As we’ve mentioned earlier, if your Web site navigation is laid out the way we’ve recommended, search engines will	eventually	find	you	on	their	own.	But	you	can	give	the	 process a goose by registering your new site with them. Start by submitting your URL to the top search engines, including Google, Yahoo and MSN. Basic registration is free. A great clearinghouse for many other search engine links and advice on how to get higher rankings can be found at SearchEngineWatch.com. 2.	Buy	Ads	for	Better	Placement	 Paid advertising on major search engines is one method used by many businesses to help them climb in rankings. Lately, opinion has been sharply divided on whether the return on investment is high enough to justify the costs or if there are enough safeguards against fraud by competitors. Before you spend the money, research the pros and cons	of	specific	cost-per-click	(CPC)	programs	and	other	 advertising-related ranking services. Forums such as those hosted by DigitalPoint.com, SEOChat.com, HighRankings.com and many others will supply plenty of guidance for making a smart choice. These are the two major online advertising models being used now: Paid	Placement.	Sometimes	referred	to	as	“Search”	or	 “Keyword”	Marketing,	Paid	Placement	advertisers	buy	 a place in a section reserved for them on search results pages.	When	you	hear	“pay	for	placement”	and	“cost-perclick,”	this	is	also	referring	to	Paid	Placement.	(See	page	45	 for a sample screenshot.) Paid	Inclusion.	You can buy your way into a search engine’s listings quickly, but they’re usually quick to tell you there are no guarantees for improved rankings. Still, it’s a way	to	get	fast	visibility	while	waiting	for	crawlers	to	find	and	 list your pages.

adManager	Search	Marketing	 (pay-per-click pricing)
Search marketing is a cost-effective and targeted way for you to promote your business online because it puts you in front of your most likely customers — those already searching for what you sell.	With	the	Office	Live	Small	Business	 adManager search marketing feature, you can reach customers searching on popular sites like Live.com on MSN and Ask.com from one, easy-to-manage account. This keyword advertising feature has been enhanced with a new bid recommendation engine and additional distribution through the Ask Sponsored Listings network.

adManager	allows	you	to: • Target people already searching for the products and services you sell; • Advertise within multiple search engines, including Live Search 	 on	MSN,	Ask.com,	Excite.com,	and		 Lycos.com; • Display ads nationwide or go local 	 by	targeting	specific	geographic		 areas only; • Control costs with monthly budgeting and pay-per-click pricing.

http://smallbusiness.officelive.com/

Copyright © 2008 StartupNation, LLC

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5 Steps to a Successful E-Commerce Web Site

Tip
Keys	to	keywords	 While	experts	may	be	better	at	drilling	into	engine	algorithms	and	analytics,	you’re	the	best	bet	for	figuring	out	 keywords	that	define	your	business	and	that	will	draw	serious	traffic.	So	stay	on	top	of	the	keyword	process.	 These 0 tips will help: . Research, test, and learn. Industry sites such as Wordtracker now make it easier to select keywords. Their free online tools give you a popularity barometer of keywords and offer suggestions about choices. Choose	phrases.	Don’t	just	look	at	one	keyword.	Look	at	hundreds	of	phrases.	The	more	specific	the	 phrases,	the	more	likely	you’ll	attract	exactly	the	visitor	who’s	looking	for	what	you	sell.	 Mix	and	match.	While	you’re	brainstorming	with	friends,	staff	and	experts	to	come	up	with	key	phrases,	 make	sure	you	run	the	gamut	from	broad	keywords	to	specific	ones,	so	you	reel	in	all	possible	prospects.	 Don’t	overlook	the	obvious.	The HTML title tag at the top of your browser window is a prime factor in search	indexing.	The	title	should	include	search	terms	and	‘call	to	action’	messaging	to	entice	prospects	to	 click on your link when it is presented in the search engine results page. Invest	in	education.	Run a pay-per-click campaign for a few weeks to learn which keywords pull. That way you don’t have to spend a lot of time and effort optimizing your site pages for keywords you don’t yet know will work. Or,	if	you	love	graphics.	Search engines don’t read graphics or Flash animation. If your site relies on Flash or illustrations, then pay-per-click is a smart bet so you don’t have to optimize your site. Join	the	club.	Each industry has its own buzzwords and jargon. Use those to draw the insiders you want to	reach,	but	don’t	use	them	excessively.	 Review results. You’ll waste time and money if you don’t keep checking which keywords attract which customers. Then you can winnow out effective keywords and track which ones pull from which engines. Be	your	own	customer.	Every month or so, visit a search engine and input the keywords you’re using and considering. You might be surprised at the results. Also, call your top customers and ask them what keywords they currently use.

. 	 . 	 4. 	

5.

6.

7. 	 8.

9.

0. Use	your	keywords	consistently.	A Microsoft adCenter study found that users gave a nearly 50% higher 	 “likelihood	to	click”	to	listings	in	which	the	keyword	was	included	in	both	the	title	and	the	description.

http://smallbusiness.officelive.com/

Copyright © 2008 StartupNation, LLC

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5 Steps to a Successful E-Commerce Web Site

Promoting Online Business
1.	Try	Pay-Per-Click	Advertising If you’ve included an advertising budget in your planning, consider pay-per-click or PPC marketing –	at	least	in	the	early	days	–	for	instant	Web	traffic	to	your	site.	Pay-per-click	advertising	providers	 charge a small fee, adjusted according to the competition for your chosen search keywords, for each potential customer who clicks on your ad to visit your site. Some advantages and benefits: Affordability.	Whatever your budget, simple online tools tailor (and limit) your spending to what you can afford. Performance.	You only pay for people who click on your ad. Targeted	Campaigns.	You	can	aim	your	ads	at	very	specific	market	segments,	 and geographic areas as small as 0 square miles. Adaptability.	You can change you ad daily or weekly to compare response rates and effectiveness. Simplicity.	Because	these	keyword	ads	are	text	based,	you	don’t	need	a	high-priced	 creative director to design your ads. Can you type? With a little bit of imagination you can effectively run a campaign. 2.	Sign	Up	with	“What’s	New”	Directories	 “What’s	New”	directories	are	popping	up	all	over	the	place	with	one	purpose	–	telling	the	world	about	 your	new	Web	site.	Netscape	What’s	New,	NewWebDirectory.com	and	WebWorldIndex.com	are	just	 a taste of the online offerings, each simply listing your business in an appropriate category and often with opportunities for feedback and ratings. But	keep	in	mind	that	simply	submitting	your	site	to	a	“What’s	New”	directory	isn’t	a	done	deal	 for an instant listing. Most of them carefully review every submission before acceptance. Web directories	and	“What’s	New”	pages	don’t	post	listings	automatically.	Real	people	decide	whether	 your new Web site meets their requirements. Those vary between directories, but are always posted for you to see.

Copyright © 2008 StartupNation, LLC

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5 Steps to a Successful E-Commerce Web Site

Final Word
Starting	an	online	business—like	any	business—is	an	exciting	and	exhilarating	prospect.	As	we’ve	 outlined, the key is to do your homework, create a strategic vision for your business, get the right mix	of	tools	and	technologies,	and	effectively	promote	and	drive	traffic	to	your	site.	 In	the	words	of	Andrew	Carnegie:	“Think	of	yourself	as	on	the	threshold	of	unparalleled	success.	 A	whole	clear,	glorious	life	lies	before	you.	Achieve!	Achieve!”

Copyright © 2008 StartupNation, LLC

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5 Steps to a Successful E-Commerce Web Site

Resources
E-Commerce	Solution	Providers Qualified Vendor Listing

Web	Design	Tips

Online	Marketplaces Blogging

Podcasting Analytics	&	SEO

Publicity	&	Advertising

S 	 ocial	Networking

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