Five Ways Customers Can Find You

Building your brand online and offline

When we are an ecommerce business, we tend to think of being found online only. Fortunately for us, there are other ways that customers might find out about our business and help us grow! See how your business rates on each – and which ones you can improve on.

ONLINE

Well of course this is probably the number one way that customers might find us. How does your ecommerce business rate for each of these:

  • SEO – Also known as search engine optimization – it’s the process of getting your web site found by the search engines. Take a few of your business keywords and plug them into the search engine. Are you on page 1 or page 21? If  you are not on page 1, chances are you are not being found by most people.
  • PAID SEARCH – On Google, the ads you see on the very top and on the right of the results page are paid advertisements. Most small businesses find they burn through a ton of cash before they figure out what makes sense for their business. Many businesses (with a strong web site and strong SEO efforts) may even find they don’t need to advertise on the search engines. Find out what works for your business.
  • LOCAL RESULTS – All of the major search engines place a lot of emphasis on providing relevant local results. Even if you don’t have a storefront, you may find that it is very valuable to get your business address into the search engines. This is particularly true for niche markets where there is not as much competition.
  • SOCIAL MEDIA – Sites like Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest can help people find your business. The secret is finding out which one works the best for your particular niche and brand. It’s smart to try a few and figure out which sites give you the best ROI. Not every business is going to do well on Facebook!

COMMUNITY

Are you active in your local community? Do you sponsor any local club or events? Do you belong to any local organizations such as your town’s Chamber of Commerce? These are all ways to help promote your business and get the word out about you. Consider sponsoring a little league team or high school football band. They are all looking for sponsors and often will have print programs and/or banners that will get your business name some exposure.

TRADITIONAL ADVERTISING

Offline advertising can be very effective even for online only businesses. Consider traditional media such as yellow pages, directories, radio and TV. Does your product line lend itself to a catalog format? Building a mailing list for catalogs can be another means of promotion and sales. Of course with a web site, you should have an email marketing campaign for little or no cost but supplementing it with a traditional mail campaign might work for your business as well.

PHYSICAL LOCATION

Maybe you also have a storefront – so of course you have another means to promote your online business. But those ecommerce business that have a warehouse can also use outdoor signage to be visible to those that pass by your location. How about company vehicles? Use bumper stickers or vehicle wraps to promote your products and web site.

BRAND

Last, but definitely not least is your brand. Do you have your own packaging with your logo and tagline? Do you mark the outside of your packages with your website and logo? Consider all the ways you can build brand awareness with your packages, signage, banners and more. Don’t forget to include business cards with your logo and contact information – they help build your brand for very little effort and money! QR codes that lead visitors to your web site (or even a special page with a discount) can be very effective for building brand recognition and sales.

So how did your e-commerce business rank?

ASD Educational Sessions Now Available

submitted by: Pat – West Florida Components

The Internet Merchants Association and its sponsors recently presented eight educational sessions to the ASD trade show attendees. The bi-annual sourcing show was held at the Las Vegas Convention Center with over 30.000 visitors in attendance.

Platinum and Diamond level sponsors including Vendio, Alibaba and MIVA Merchant were among the featured speakers on topics ranging from integrating social media to building effective web sites and search engine optimization.

Most of the speakers have provided their slide decks so that session attendees can review them and download them. The slide presentations are available at slideshare: http://www.slideshare.net/imamerchants

The Internet Merchants Association is now accepting applications for the March, 2011 educational sessions. Speaking preference is given to all IMA Platinum and Diamond level sponsors. Interested parties can learn more about the speaking and membership opportunities by contacting Pat Pepe. She can be reached by email at pat@imamerchants.org.

Business Conference – How Do You Continue Your Education

written by Cathy, Visibility Unlimited

We all think we are the best person to grow our business. The best person for SEO, the best web designer, the best IT person, the best at everything we do. But the problem is that your competitors think the same. The e-commerce industry moves so fast that it is actually impossible to keep up with all the trends and changes. You need help; we all need help to stay ahead of our competitors.

I have taken my education very seriously the last few years and to be honest, the improvement in my bottom line is the proof that it was well worth it. I have gone to business seminars, web design conferences, SEO conferences and many marketing seminars and to me, the cost of being away from my business and the conference expenses were worth every penny. A conference can cost up to thousands of dollars and when you spend this kind of money, it is important to make sure that this investment is going to help your business grow.

One of my favorite conferences that I look forward to every year is the one from the Internet Merchants Association (IMA) which will be held in Las Vegas, March 2-3,2010. It is presented in conjunction with the ASD/AMD Sourcing Show where IMA offers free business seminars to the attendees. This year on the 1st & 2nd of March, IMA will present titles that include “The ABCs of Web Design”, “Big Ideas for Small Businesses” and “Get Found in Search Engines: SEO 101″ to just name a few.

Rick Wilson, Vice President of MIVA Merchant will present an important topic at the IMA Conference, “Top 10 Tips for Designing a Great Checkout Process.” I look forward to hearing what expert Rick has to say about the checkout process. The checkout process for your customers is so important and if your customers “don’t get it” then you can be out of business quickly.

While I love to blog, I am not consistent with the “other” social media stuff. I really do understand it but there has to be a way to make it more financially viable for my business. “Nine Ways to Make Your E-Commerce Site More Social” will help me pull it all together and complete my 2010 plan for my business. Another title that I am looking forward to attending at the IMA Conference in March is “How 21st Century PR Can Build Your Brand”.

I hope you can attend the IMA Conference, March 2-3 in Las Vegas. If you do attend, track me down and I will be happy to buy you a few drinks in the IMA Networking Suite.

Online Retailers: FTC Is Watching Your Endorsements

written by Cathy, SnorkelingOnline

SEO is always on my mind. Ok, call me a dork… but organic search is very important to my ecommerce business. And with SEO, blogging is up on my “to do” list. Now who doesn’t like blogging? You can tell the world what your personal opinion is. And this can include product endorsements.

As President of Internet Merchants Association, I am going to tell online retailers, that ASD/AMD is the best & largest sourcing show in the world. Their next show is February 28-March 3, 2010 in Las Vegas. You can find almost anything you are looking for, to sell online.

Now, what is wrong with that statement? I am endorsing ASD/AMD. And the Federal Trade Commission recently says that I need to disclose to the consumer that Internet Merchants Association accepts money or free products from ASD/AMD (actually we trade services) for a review on their product/services. The FTC is taking a closer look at how we (bloggers) are promoting ecommerce merchants.

So to all the bloggers, becareful… state your relationship & payments accepted or you could get in legal trouble which could include a fine of up to $11,000.