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?

One feature that nearly every web site should have

Do you own an ecommerce website? Great! Next question: do you have a mailing list?

If the answer is ‘no’, you are probably leaving a lot of money on the table.

Keeping in touch with your potential customers, past customers and general web site visitors is one of the easiest and most cost effective methods of increasing your website sales. You simply must have the ability to collect the email addresses of both buyers and browsers alike. Most current web sites should have this functionality built in or it could be added by the use of widgets from some of the larger email marketing companies that will do everything from collecting email addresses for you to running your email marketing campaigns.

Collecting buyers email addresses is really a ‘no-brainer’ for most web businesses. The main thing to remember is that visitors have to opt-in to get on your mailing list. Just because they made a purchase from you – that does not give you permission to add them to your future email campaigns.

Once you get the email addresses – then what? Follow some of the suggestions and ideas from the larger email marketing companies like Constant Contact or Mail Chimp and you will have some great basic email marketing ideas to start.

Social Networks: Is Big Brother Watching You?

written by Cathy,SnorkelingOnline

This does not include only online ecommerce sellers, this involves everyone who is involved in social networking. Make time to read this report, that was released last month, On the Leakage of Personally Identifiable Information Via Online Social Networks.

Over half a billion people are on various Online Social Networks (OSNs) and have made available a vast amount of personal information on these OSNs. OSN users make movements around the Internet can now be tracked not just as an IP address, but be associated with the unique identifier used to store information about users on an OSN. This OSN identifier is a pointer to PII about the user. Cookies and other tracking mechanisms on the Internet have been prevalent for a long time. The general claim of aggregators is that they create profiles of users based on their Internet behavior, but do not gather or record PII. Although we do not know that aggregators are recording PII, we demonstrate with this work that it is undeniable that information is available to them. Aggregators do not have to take any action to receive this information. As part of requests, they receive OSN identifiers with pointers to the PII or in some cases, directly receive pieces of PII. This PII information can be joined with information from tracking cookies obtained from the user’s traversal to any site that triggers a visit to the same aggregator. The ability to link information across traversals on the Internet coupled with the wide range of daily actions performed by hundreds of millions of users on the Internet raises privacy issues, particularly to the extent users may not understand the consequences of having their PII information available to aggregators.

While most social networks do have a policy that state that they do provide non-identifiable information to third parties for advertisers, but what they dont tell you is that with the advanced technology, they can now allow third parties to access your user name, birth date, sex, social security numbers, etc. and other linable personable identifiable information that can identify the user. Is this violating their private policies? Be cautious of what private information you put about yourself and your business.