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Ecommerce Blog - Fortune3

2 Lucrative E-Commerce Niches (And How They Were Found)

fortune3-e-commerce-startup-ideas.jpgIt’s a nightmare to compete based on price, or to get most of your business from Amazon (the fees kill your profits). ¬†For small and startup e-commerce businesses, success lies in finding a profitable niche.

If you compete on a product that’s already established in the market and being sold, it’s difficult to turn a profit. ¬†Another larger, older company is most likely offering benefits and guarantees like free shipping that you cannot compete with.

You’ll end up working long hours for low wages, and you’ll wonder why you ever wanted to run an e-commerce store in the first place.

To succeed, either you provide a high-quality version of a common product, or an entirely new product people don’t already have.

But how do you find those ideas?

Here are some stories to draw inspiration from:

1.  LongRangeHunting.com

This website is an e-commerce store/hunting magazine hybrid. ¬†My friend’s dad started it and makes a very healthy income from it. ¬†I don’t think they plan to get too big, but a couple other family members work there. ¬†It’s a very nice small business.

They sell all sorts of hunting gear and products.  He got the idea by talking with people in online forums.  Once the site started, everything grew from there.

What really helped it take off was its focus on a very select hunting niche – hunting animals from long distances (1-2 miles away).

2.  BumbleBeeLinens.com

This website sells high-quality wedding linens, the likes of which you can’t find anywhere else. ¬†The owner of the store and her husband loved planning their wedding so much they got involved in every detail of it. ¬†They even embroidered presents for the bridal party themselves.

They tested the idea out on Ebay, expanded it into their own store, and everything took off from there.

The Point?  Stay in Touch with Your Market! 

These are examples of niche business ideas that small business owners can identify and act on. ¬†If you don’t have a large personal network in the real world, or if it’s difficult to get in touch with them in person, there’s plenty of ways to interact with people online.

Find people with similar interests on internet forums, and begin listening and asking questions. ¬†They’ll happily discuss their real problems in life, and any issues they have with products they currently own.

If people’s eyes light up, or if they sound very passionate when discussing their problems, you’ve stumbled across a business idea. ¬†From there, it’s up to you to make it a reality.

Posted in Uncategorized

4 Huge Mistakes New E-Commerce Site Owners Make

e-commerce-store-mistakes-imageSo, you’re ready to take the exciting plunge into the world of becoming an e-commerce entrepreneur. ¬†As you do that, we want to make sure it goes as smoothly as possible for you.

You’re going to hit some bumps along the way, no doubt. ¬†But, by following these tips, you’ll hit fewer of them and they won’t be as big when you do encounter them.

Here are some big mistakes newbies make:

1.  No Comprehensive Marketing Plan

You can build content, but people won’t just come to your website because it’s there. ¬†You have to promote it too. ¬†There’s a million different search marketing techniques you can use to promote your site.

If you need profits fast, use PPC. But be careful with your spending – it can spiral out of control quickly if you don’t keep a close eye on it.

You can also use search engine optimization, which is the process of optimizing your website for keywords, writing content, and then promoting it across the web in hopes of getting links and social shares.  Slowly your rankings will rise for various key terms, but remember it can take months before you hit page one for any of them.

2.  No Unique Selling Proposition 

It’s much easier to sell your products if you offer something unique (either a product or some guarantees). ¬†Free shipping is an awesome benefit, but it’s not unique. ¬†Many online stores offer it.

You can be unique by building and selling the product yourself. ¬†If you can secure contracts with manufacturers or buy the product from a wholesaler, you could compete on price. ¬†But that’s hard to do as a small company.

You could do something like offering e-mail response times of 1-hour or less and call waiting times of 5 minutes or less.  You can be as creative as you want here, as long as your USP is attractive to your market.

3.  Finding Product Vendors Online

The internet, handy as it can be, is an awful place to find product vendors. ¬†It’s loaded with scammers. ¬†Most legitimate distributors focus on businesses operating in the real world. ¬†The truth is that most online vendors are in fact middlemen who have already marked up their prices quite a bit.

4.  Your Website Looks Amateurish

Everything has to appear in perfect operating order.  Got typos or grammatical errors?  Does your design look a little awkward in certain places?

You don’t have to use a perfect corporate look starting out, but you do need to look as professional as possible. ¬†Make sure everything in your website is in perfect working order, and hire a designer if you need to make the website look the way you want.

If you avoid those 4 big mistakes, you’ll save your business a ton of difficulty long-term. ¬†Try coming up with a USP after you’ve already listed hundreds of products!

 

Posted in Ecommerce Essentials & Tips, How To

4 Techniques to Skyrocket Your Sales from PPC Ads

fortune3-ppc-conversion-image.jpgYes, all PPC ads are not created equal.  In fact, writing PPC ads is something you should take just as seriously as writing an infomercial.  It is its own science.

But, let’s say you don’t have a ton of experience writing ads that convert well. ¬†That’s cool – this guide will give you a few quick tips that will get you going on the right track from the start.

Here are the big things to watch:

1. ¬†What’s your value proposition? ¬†This is what differentiates you in the market from all other businesses who offer the same products. ¬†It takes a ton of research to find it, or at least extensive industry experience. ¬†Do you offer the best price, free shipping, or the biggest product of its kind?

Whatever you do or your products offer better than anyone else must be communicated in your ads.

2.  Headline Р35 Characters

Your headline is the most important part of your ad because that’s what people notice first. ¬†Make sure ¬†your top keyword gets in the headline. ¬†Then, you have to include your value proposition too.

If you don’t put these important benefits in the headline and instead bury them later on in the description, most people never even read them.

3.  Description Р70 Characters

In here, you want to talk about the additional benefits your product offers.  Benefits always speak to feelings.  They could be things like reduced cooking time, less energy used, or even cooking.

It’s hard to identify the difference between features and benefits. ¬†Features are properties of a product like the color, size, shape, age. ¬†Benefits are what it does for you. ¬†For a med spa, for example, you might say your products “Rejuvenate Your Mind, Body, and Soul.”

Consumers want the benefits, and the features are nice to have.

You’ll also want a call-to-action word to use like “Get, shop, buy, or save” to make the ad seem more urgent.

4.  Display URL Р35 Characters

This URL should contain your primary keyword. ¬†That way, people know that if they click your ad, they’re going to be sent to the right place.

5. ¬†Research Your Competitor’s Ads¬†

If you don’t have any idea where to start, search your keywords and look at the competition’s ads. ¬†For small businesses, they often don’t have any professional copywriting on their ads at all. ¬†But, if you know you’re looking at a larger company’s ads, they’ve probably worked on and refined their ads to perfection. ¬†I’m talking about very big companies here, with $100 million+ in revenue.

If you can target keywords that other SMBs use, you can get more clicks because they don’t use professional copywriting. ¬†That’s quite a huge competitive advantage for you!

And a better CTR means lower advertising costs too.

Enjoy this new secret trick, and the resulting sales you get from it!

Posted in Ecommerce Essentials & Tips, How To, Online Marketing Strategies, Pay-Per-Click

How to Gauge Demand for Your Products Before Selling Them

fortune3-ecommerce-demand-image.jpgIs that product going to sell, or won’t it? ¬†Wouldn’t it be nice to know beforehand what would really happen?

You can never predict the future, but you can at least estimate what could happen before trying.

Here are some ways to at least get a ballpark idea of whether or not your product will sell before listing it on your website:

1.  Google Trends

Simply go to http://www.google.com/trends/ and search on the product names you’d like to sell. ¬†You won’t know where the line on the graph is going to go next, but at least you’ll get an idea if demand right now seems to be growing or staying flat.

2.  Google Keyword Planner

Go to http://www.google.com/adwords/ and then hit “Tools” and “keyword planner.” ¬†Then choose “search for new keyword and ad group ideas.” ¬†Then hit the “keyword ideas” tab. ¬†You’ll want to start with a very general and generic term, and then you’ll get a ton of ideas for related terms from Google.

While the data in here isn’t always the most accurate, it gives you a ballpark idea of what’s going on. ¬†If you see keywords with “low” competition and several hundred or more searches, those are generally good opportunities. ¬†If the entire page is saturated with “high” competition keywords, demand may very well be very high right now, and competing for business will be tough.

However, if there are many “low” competition keywords, you could be onto something big before demand matures.

3.  Search the Keyword in Google

Now, actually go into Google and type your target keyword in.  Notice the results that come up.  Are they from many different companies?

If there appears to be no single particular company dominating the search results with multiple listings, you have a competitive advantage right now.

You should have an SEO tool installed, like Moz, that tells you the authority of the domains that are ranking. ¬†If it’s higher authority levels, like 40+ on the page, demand is very high.

4.  Perform a Test Adwords Campaign

This gives you a ton of market research, and tells you which keywords your organic search strategy should target, in addition to gauging demand. ¬†Send people to a targeted landing page. ¬†But instead of listing the product, tell people it’s not yet for sale and ask them to enter their e-mail address to be notified when it is ready to sell.

Based on that conversion rate, you’ll get an idea of how badly people really want your product. ¬†You only need around $500 or so, which can be very valuable if you learn nobody really wants the product before bringing it to the market.

If you try these different tactics to test demand, you’ll save yourself time, stress, and money. ¬†Enjoy!

Posted in Ecommerce Essentials & Tips, How To, Online Marketing Strategies

How to Get Your E-Commerce Site Penalized by Google

fortune3-ecommerce-Google-penalty.jpgGotta love it…Google has a 200-300 factor algorithm that no one has a precise understanding of. ¬†So, you’re always shooting at some sort of target that you can’t really see.

SEO is tough, hard work. ¬†And yes, websites do sometimes get penalized by Google when they shouldn’t.

In general though, Google is pretty good at penalizing websites that deserve it. ¬†At the same time, you can accidentally put your website at risk for getting a penalty, even though it’s your intention to make it a good place for your visitors and Google.

It’s fun too, to look at things from a reverse angle of how to mess them up. ¬†So, if you want to get your site penalized by Google, follow these steps:

1.  Use keyword-rich anchor text frequently.  This applies to both internal links within your site and external links that link from other sites to yours.  SEOs were saying around 20-30% of your anchor texts should feature your keywords or close variations.

Now, experts like Neil Patel (and some of my friends) are saying that should be around 5% or so.  To avoid getting penalized for this, focus on using your brand name on external links, or use your URL.  For internal links, just vary them as much as possible.

2.  Load your content with keywords.  Yes, you will always need to have keywords in your content.  After all, people need some way to search for things on the web, right?

It’s okay to have around a 1.0% density, or less, for most keywords. But, the guiding rule for optimizing pages is to always focus on using natural language first.

To avoid overoptimizing your web pages, write them all the way through first, and then go back and optimize them. ¬†If you’re super-serious about doing this right, read the page out loud and see how it sounds. ¬†If it sounds awkward, that’s not good for your visitors or Google.

3. ¬†Put lots of stuff on your product pages so they load slowly. ¬†Okay, so you won’t receive an active penalty from Google for doing this. ¬†But, Google does factor page load time into its search rankings. ¬†The slower yours loads, the less authority you receive from Google.

4. ¬†Many URLs that 404. ¬†Again, you won’t get an active penalty for this. ¬†But, Google’s not going to like your website if you have dead URLs. ¬†If you change the URL structure, you should use a 301 redirect to send users to the appropriate page. ¬†If you go to Google Webmaster Tools, and then click “Crawl” and “Crawl Errors,” and then hit the “Not Found” tab, you can see all the URLs that 404 on your website. ¬†You can bet that if you have many URLs which 404 your rankings will take a hit.

If you want your search rankings to take a beating, this is exactly what you should do.  And if you get a penalty, remember you can lose literally almost all of your traffic overnight.

Posted in Blogging for Ecommerce, Ecommerce Essentials & Tips, eCommerce Website Analysis, SEO for eCommerce

What to Do on Your Product Pages

fortune3-ecommerce-sell-products-imageThe thing that’s awesome about the web is how creative you can be – the sky literally is the limit. ¬†At the same time, your focus on creativity can cause confusion for your web visitors.

You don’t want to do that because then your sales drop. ¬†So when it comes to your product pages, what should you do?

Here are a few recommendations:

1.  Big Images with a 360-Degree View

Ever try to buy something on the web that you couldn’t really see? ¬†Well, your visitors don’t want to either! ¬†Give them huge images that are easy to see and let them completely rotate the view around the product so they can see it from all angles.

2.  Use a Noticeable Call-to-Action

And make sure you play with the wording on it too. ¬†Past studies have found that “Add to Cart” generally works well because people don’t want to purchase something now – that much of a commitment scares them. ¬†The color on the button matters too.

But what matters most is not the type of color. ¬†Instead, it’s simply important the button stands out from the rest of the colors on your website. ¬†If your site uses lots of blue throughout, try red, orange, or yellow on the button, and see which gives you the most sales.

3.  Show the Item Quantity Left in Stock

Consumers are more likely to make a purchase if there’s a limited quantity left in stock. ¬†Right below the product title, show the quantity left.

4.  Make Discounts Clear

If the normal list price is $29.95, and your product goes on sale for $14.95, make the full discount amount clear. ¬†You could just say “sale” or “reduced price for a limited time,” which does increase the chances people will purchase. ¬†However, if you show the specifics – the actual discount amount and the length of the offer, consumers are for more likely to act.

5.  Make Reviews Available

You can show the gold stars to communicate to people how well a product is liked.  But, in addition to that, make sure people can go in and read the reviews to see what others do and do not like about the product.

6.  Write Product Descriptions for Real People

This takes a keen understanding of your target consumer to pull off.  Unfortunately, many websites use the bland, boring manufacturer descriptions, which also can get you in trouble with Google for duplicate content.

Want to know what good product descriptions look like?  Check out Woot.

If you want your product pages to sell well, those are some best practices to use.  And remember, make sure you test, test, and test to see what works on your website.

Posted in Ecommerce Essentials & Tips, eCommerce Website Analysis, How To, Online Marketing Strategies

Top 3 SEO Mistakes You can Make on Your E-Commerce Site

fortune3-ecommerce-SEO-mistakesThere’s about a million SEO mistakes you can make, if you really want to count them all. ¬†Fortunately, most don’t result in a Google penalty.

However, what you don’t see is that your rankings suffer from them a little. ¬†So, instead of noticing a rankings dip, you never experience as much growth as you should in the first place.

SEO is so abstract that it doesn’t seem fair all the rules you have to follow in order to stay on Google’s good side.

However, we’ll help you identify a few of the more common SEO mistakes made on e-commerce sites with these tips:

1.  Products are Optimized for the Product Name, Not the Search Query

People search on product names…sometimes. ¬†However, to get the organic traffic for the key phrase, you have to optimize for the phrase people are actually searching on.

So, you find that by typing the product name into Google Adwords “Keyword Planner” tool. ¬†Then, that will show you how many searches are made for that particular product, and related phrases people type in. ¬†Go for terms with a few hundred to a few thousand searches for the best results.

To optimize your page for the term, get it into the H1 tag, and then once or twice in the product description copy.

2.  Duplicate Product Titles and META Descriptions

Yes, it’s time consuming to make these and the product description unique, but you have to do it. ¬†If these are not unique, Google puts in its own titles, which may appear awkward when searchers see them in the search results, or the product can receive lower rankings or even complete removal from the rankings entirely.

However, that’s different than a rankings penalty, which is not what you get when you use duplicate content. ¬†When you get the title, META description, and product description unique, the page will pop right back into the search results.

3.  Messy URLs

1. ¬†Take a look at a messy, ugly URL: ¬†‚Äú/cat-13/product-65424?pants‚ÄĚ
2. ¬†Now compare it to a “clean” one: ¬†”/mens-pants/mens-white-pants/

“Clean” URLs, like the second example shown above, are not only more friendly to Google, but your web visitors like them better too. ¬†It appears neater, more professional, and your visitors know exactly where they are on your website.

Google likes those for SEO purposes too. ¬†It doesn’t care about the appearance of the URL, but if people are searching for “men’s white pants,” Google also looks to see if that keyword is in your URL. ¬†If it is, that gives the page a stronger chance of ranking for that keyword.

So, those are 3 common and simple ways you can check to ensure your e-commerce site is SEO-friendly.  Are you making any of these mistakes?  If so, are you planning on fixing them?

Posted in Ecommerce Essentials & Tips, SEO for eCommerce

7 Press Release Ideas for Your E-Commerce Store

fortune3-press-release-for-smbs-imagePress releases are an awesome way to get some exposure and nice SEO juice. ¬†But, don’t count on the links from the press releases themselves to boost your SEO. ¬†Rather, websites must stumble across your press release and then link directly to your website.

Google has publicly stated it’s reducing (eliminating?) the SEO value passed on by press releases themselves. ¬†So, it’s more important to focus on a good story. ¬†And if you tell a good story, you’re more likely to get good links from people who read the press release. ¬†Who knows? ¬†You might even luck out and score an interview from a journalist!

Sometimes, it seems like there’s nothing going on at your business that’s “newsworthy.” ¬†But, there’s always plenty going on – you just have to know where to look. ¬†Here are some press release ideas that may be happening at your company right now:

1.  Whenever You Add a New Product

Okay, so this is the easy one. ¬†But, don’t do it every time you add a new product. ¬†Use it when you have a product you think will sell big, or if you know the product sells well at other websites. ¬†If you don’t know of much else going on, it can always be a filler idea too.

2.  Hold a Sale

This is another easy one under your control.  You can have a sale anytime you want.  When you do, make sure to announce it via a press release.

3. ¬†You’re Acting as a Sponsor or Making a Charitable Donation

If there’s no news going on, you can always create some. ¬†A good way to do that is to make a donation to your favorite charity (or volunteer there). ¬†If there’s a local event, becoming a sponsor is a good thing – just make sure you let the public know about it.

4.  Offer 10 People Free Samples

…Or whatever the number happens to be. ¬†”Free” is one of the most effective words in the sales world.

5.  Receiving an Award or Joining an Organization

If you become a BBB member, that’s a great news story. ¬†Join contests and try to receive an award, and don’t forget to let everyone know when you do.

6.  Making a Personnel Change

If you made a new addition or promoted someone to a high-ranking position, there’s another great news opportunity.

7.  Customer Success Stories

Did you go above and beyond the call of duty for your customer?  Were they able to achieve an extraordinary result because they bought your product?  Let other customers know with a press release.

Those are just some examples to get your mind thinking.  You may have these stories, or others bubbling at your small business right now.

Posted in Blogging for Ecommerce, Ecommerce Essentials & Tips, eCommerce News, Online Marketing Strategies

How to Find a Profitable Niche

ecommerce-profitable-niche-image.jpgYou can’t compete with the big dogs – Amazon, Ebay, Etsy, and so on. ¬†Amazon has established market dominance and will always be able to undercut your price.

And if they can’t now, they’ll figure out how to do so in the future.

So if you’re thinking of starting an e-commerce site, what can you do?

You can win, and you can make more than a good living doing it.  You just have to identify a niche where people are willing to pay more for quality, rather than focus on getting the best deal possible.

How can you identify such a niche? ¬†Here’s what to do:

1.  Know Where You Can Improve Upon an Existing Product

Just about everything can be bought at hundreds of different places, so identifying a completely original product to sell is tough (although you should go for it if you can identify one). ¬†If you sell wedding linens to women, for example, what do they complain about most often when buying from another store? ¬†Do the linens wear out easier than others? ¬†Maybe they’re not made from sustainable materials.

Read online product reviews and see what people are complaining about.

2.  Listen on Niche Forums

Whatever your passion happens to be, there’s a forum for it online. ¬†Forums are great places to learn what people are really concerned with, and you can identify very profitable niches.

For example, a friend of mine has a dad who’s very interested in hunting. ¬†By talking with others in forums, he discovered there was interest in a website that focused on hunting from long ranges. ¬†The website http://www.longrangehunting.com was born as a result, and it’s a very healthy small business.

3.  Does it Bother You?

If something about a product irritates you, there’s a good chance it bothers many other people too. ¬†Talk with other people who share values similar to you and see if the same things bug them. ¬†Yes, even in the Information Age, simply talking to people in person can yield great online business ideas.

4.  Listen on Social Media

Twitter and Facebook are great places to do market research. ¬†At Twitter, use #keyword to search for mentions of the product that you think you can improve on. ¬†Join Facebook groups related to the product or service. ¬†They’re just like forums, except a little more modern. You could even private message people to ask them what needs to be changed about the product to make it better for them.

If you keep repeating this process, eventually you’ll find a great product niche idea. ¬†All that’s left from there is to execute it…

Posted in Ecommerce Essentials & Tips, How To

4 Genius Content Ideas You can Implement Today

fortune3-e-commerce-genius-content-ideasHey, so let’s face it – it’s difficult to come up with new and interesting content ideas on a consistent basis. ¬†Everyone’s doing it, and billions of new pieces of content get created each year.

So how do you figure out what to create that helps your target market and actually gets their attention? ¬†This isn’t a complete list, but here are a few fresh and (hopefully) compelling ideas:

1.  Include Product-Specific Article Teasers on Product Pages

It’s tempting to blog about your products, and that is a good idea. ¬†However, your most helpful product-related content shouldn’t be buried in your blog. ¬†At most, depending on your blog design, you can see the 5-10 most recent articles and a few of the popular ones.

But are your visitors going to dig through your blog to find helpful content for a product?  Not a chance.  Instead, integrate an interesting teaser into the product page so people who buy and use the product can actually find the article.

2.  Add Unique Content to Products Pages

You should never use manufacturer content on your product pages. ¬†The first reason for that is because it will appear at a minimum of one other site on the web, making it “duplicate content.” ¬†Google docks the rankings of that stuff, and removes it entirely in some cases.

So, you need to add your own content. ¬†Now, most people probably will use the manufacturer description or something similar. ¬†However, you can stand out by doing unique things like writing up your own commentary on the product, making a video that shows how to assemble the product, or creating a buyer’s guide that shows shoppers what to look out for when trying to purchase the product.

3.  Develop an Online Magazine

Okay, so this one’s for the highly ambitious. ¬†But, what you can do is develop a simple 10-15 page magazine. ¬†Write a few feature articles, get together with some guest bloggers and hosts of websites with products complimentary to yours. ¬†It’ll take a lot of work, but if you give your helping authors links in the magazine, they’ll probably be happy to help.

4.  Compose a Case Study and Make it Downloadable on Your Product Pages

A “case study” is a document that shows the specific steps your customer took to use the featured product, and the changes it brought about in their life. ¬†You should also note similar products the customer decided to turn down that did not provide the desired benefit.

This is a valuable marketing tool that you can use to show customers your product works.  And guess what?  The number of people who purchase increases.

So those are some not-so-traditional ways to build content on your e-commerce site.

Will you use any at yours, or have these inspired other creative ideas?

Posted in Blogging for Ecommerce, Ecommerce Essentials & Tips, How To, Online Marketing Strategies, SEO for eCommerce