February 18, 2019
It seems as if everyone has an eCommerce business these days. And why not? There is a lot of appeal to starting one: you can be your own boss, set your own schedule, and work from the comfort of your home. Before building your website and shipping your first product, however, consider what it takes to successfully launch and operate an eCommerce company. These tips will help you to develop a sound plan.
1. Choose Your Niche
Without a giant budget, you won’t be the next Amazon or Target. To be a profitable eCommerce site, you have to niche down. A niche relates to services or products appealing to a subset of the population. To find your niche, look for successful companies in your online space. Be sure the area is competitive because that shows you there is a ripe market for your product. Identify over-crowded niches and avoid one where a major brand dominates. It is also a good idea to look for a niche that has a good social media audience.
Niche-ing down also means you will have “shoulder” niches with whom you can work. These will be similar to yours but not identical. For example, if your site is dedicated to home improvement products, gardening or pest control will both be shoulder niches. Join forces with other businesses to grow your customer base and to cross-promote products or become an affiliate. Amazon affiliates are especially great marketing opportunities. Affiliates help cut down on shipping costs but you still make a profit.
2. Define Your Persona
Once you have your niche, you might think it’s time for a product. Well, almost. While a product is important, you need to first know who your customer is. What is their persona? And, who are you? What do you represent? You want to project a consistent brand image to the type of customer who syncs with your brand. Identify your image and the customer you’re catering to. Then pick one product. You can always add more, particularly if you leverage affiliate marketing.
3. Do Product Research
You know you want to focus your energy on one product, but how do you decide what to sell? Although larger items might seem obvious because of their higher price point, consider this: buyers may shy away from high prices but have no qualms about buying a low-cost item.
Accessories could be the way to go. Items like USB cords or HDMI cables are easy to ship and can be marked up. Or, consider something hard to find locally like a craft item or something rare. Perhaps something local that’s hard to find nationally or something consumable or disposable.
Look at comparable online businesses to understand the competitive landscape. Research if there are similar goods and how they are faring in terms of supply and demand. Look at pricing, shipping, eCommerce platforms, everything about your competition’s business to help you understand how to model yours. The better you understand your market before you begin, the stronger your initial effort will be.
Once you have decided on a client persona and product, you are ready to register your business and give it a name. You may be ready to pick your store name; get your business license; an Employer Identification Number (EIN) to open a business bank account; apply for business licenses and permits and other logistics. You are also likely ready to establish your brand with visuals like a logo and sales tools like an eCommerce website. Creating an online store is the job of a qualified web designer. This is all before you get a single click of online traffic.
As is true with any business, marketing is key. Once you have launched your eCommerce site, you will want to market both your site and your products. Begin with digital marketing strategies such as blogging, social media, SEO, and email to generate buzz. Create original and valuable content that will tell your story and take potential buyers through the marketing funnel and convert leads into customers.
One of the best ways to start promoting and selling is via an email list. Create an opt-in freebie on your site or host a giveaway and procure your customers email addresses. Giveaways are great go-to methods of getting subscribers. Building an email list gives you a group of warm leads to work with making the sales process much easier. Create relationships with your customers, respond to customer service issues, and always focus on the next sale, not just the one you made.
You may also find bloggers and influencers in your niche who are willing to review your product in exchange for a free sample. If you sell on Amazon, gain customer confidence by asking for feedback and reviews. Work to create a continual feedback loop between your brand and the customer and build a strong two-way dialogue, this will translate to word-of-mouth marketing and repeat sales.
5. Next Steps
These tips will get you started on your new online venture. Still not sure where to start or want some help creating your website for your eCommerce business and brand? We are here to help. Contact our experts today.
January 17, 2019
Can you imagine using your cell phone without apps? That’s what it’s like to use WordPress without plugins. Plugins offer the ability to extend the functionality of your site. This will optimize your website and enhance user experience. However, all plugins are not the same. There are some that are almost industry standard such as Yoast, and others that aren’t worth the code they are written with. So, we have done some of the homework for you. Below is a list of the top WordPress plugins we recommend to optimize and extend your website in 2019 and beyond.
Let’s start with SEO. You know you must maximize SEO in order to get more visitors from search engines, increase engagement, and attract more readers from social media. Yoast will do just that for your site, and then some. There are both free and premium versions, a great website with valuable information and support, and easy-to-use instructions for how to install and get the most of this plugin from Yoast itself. The company even offers online courses to boost your knowledge of SEO teaching you vital skills.
WP-Rocket is another must-have plugin. In addition to being SEO friendly, you want your site to load fast. Your users do too or they may click away. There are many plugins you can use for this and one of the most common is a cache plugin like WP-Rocket. Cache plugins create static files of your blog posts and pages. When users log in, the post is delivered directly from the cache folder. This means speed. What would happen otherwise? Resources would be used (slowing things down) running PHP queries and accessing your database.
Having a cache plugin is key and picking the right one is important. WP-Rocket is an inexpensive choice at $39, it cleans up your database, and your site will load faster than with free cache plugins on the market. Give it a try.
Did you know photographs and other images can be a resource drain? WordPress plugins allow you to optimize images so they can be used to enhance your site’s appearance, to show off your products, and more. Yet, when you have images on your site, the user’s browser has to work hard to load them all.
Image file sizes can be large, and that data adds up. This causes your site to slow which will impact the user experience. So, you want a plugin that does image optimization. Image optimization means making file sizes smaller and less cumbersome. Additionally, this is done without impacting image quality. You simply need the right WordPress plugin.
Imagify is an excellent plugin for image optimization. There are both free and premium versions offering the same feature set. With the free version, you can optimize a whopping 25MB worth of data per month (about 250 images).
Key features of Imagify include:
- Optimization of regular images, thumbnails, and retina images from WP Retina 2x
- Compression of all your existing image files in bulk
- Three levels of compression
- Storage of your original full-sized images in a secure backup.
Imagify is a must-have to maximize user-experience and optimize your website’s images.
One thing we all know is we must backup our websites. Have you ever had to restore from a backup? If so, you know that not all backup plugins are the same. Other plugins allow free backup but when it comes to restoring your files, you pay. Of course, from a business standpoint, we understand this model, however, this is why we recommend the free version of UpdraftPlus.
UpdraftPlus also has a premium version if you are interested in additional features such as:
- Incremental backups
- Website migration
- Multi-network compatibility
- Non-WordPress file and database remote destination backup
- More storage destinations (e.g., OneDrive, BackBlaze)
- Database encryption
- WP-CLI support
- Advanced reporting
- Dedicated tech support.
Gravity Forms allows you to create virtually any kind of form on WordPress. It is an advanced plugin that’s easy to use. Simply put, anyone (even compared to basic free form plugins) can build file upload forms, questionnaires, polls, surveys, online orders, quizzes, and support requests. A one-site license is $59 and allows you to create an unlimited number of forms per year.
Some of Gravity Forms key features include:
- A drag-and-drop form builder interface
- Thirty-three form fields
- Mobile device optimization of forms
- The ability to create multi-page forms with save-progress buttons
- The ability to control form availability by date or entry number
- The ability to route forms to different email addresses based on contents
- Support for creating multiple form entry notifications
- The use of conditional logic to control which form fields are shown and where form entries are sent
- The ability to accept WordPress post submissions through front-end WYSIWYG-enabled forms
- The ability to create WordPress website user account registration forms
- An invisible anti-spam honeypot to reduce form spam
- A selection of official and third-party free and commercial add-ons.
That’s one powerful form plugin.
Every day, millions of websites are hacked. The goal: to steal data, take over your server or email, spread malware to your users, and other deleterious activities. If you’re looking for increased security for your website, Sucuri can help.
Sucuri is a global authority in all things website security, with a specialization in WordPress Security. The Sucuri Security WordPress plugin is free (there is also a premium version) and offers security activity auditing, file integrity monitoring, remote malware scanning, blacklist monitoring, effective security hardening, post-hack security actions, and security notifications. The premium version has a website firewall.
This powerful plugin creates multiple layers to protect your site against security threats. With a cloud proxy firewall that bypasses traffic before sending it to the host server, Sucuri blocks any malware or hacker’s attempt to jeopardize your website. You only get real visitors. Sucuri also makes your website faster in both speed and performance. With Sucuri you can rest assured that your website blog is protected and optimized.
If you’re not emailing your website contacts with tailored campaigns, you’re missing a great marketing opportunity. With a plugin like SendGrid, you can be sure you have an industry leader on your team. SendGrid is the world’s largest cloud-based email delivery platform. It’s free with 40,000 emails for the first 30 days, then 100 per day, forever. If you need to send more email, simply upgrade to one of SendGrid’s affordable premium options. You will get amazing features like A/B testing and real-time tracking as well as analytics of marketing campaigns. Want to impress your customers with great emails and newsletters? Try the SendGrid WordPress plugin to customize your website’s email marketing and wow your visitors with custom campaigns.
While there are thousands of plugins to choose from, we believe these seven are crucial to the optimization, security, maintenance, customization, and marketability of your website. If you do nothing else, be sure to install them this year and make your blog the best it can be in 2019.
Have questions on how to optimize your website blog? We are here to help. Feel free to contact us at Proactive Maintenance.
December 14, 2018
Now that the holidays are upon us, WordPress e-commerce sites are busier than ever. Shoppers around the world seek the perfect gifts for their loved ones, and usually a little something special for themselves. To prepare for the holiday season, review and install these helpful WordPress e-commerce plugins and do a few simple tasks to ensure your site is ready for the shopping rush.
Prepare for Increased Traffic
Do you know if your site can handle the additional traffic? Load testing or stress testing shows you how your site will perform when usage is high. More people will navigate to your site to make holiday purchases than any other time of year. There are tools such as Pingdom, GTmetrix, and PageSpeed Insights to analyze your site and provide details for optimization, as needed.
These tools also provide data as to whether or not your site’s speed is all that it can be. If your site is sluggish, shoppers won’t want to wait and will likely click away and find an alternative site. Don’t let slow site speed get in the way of a prosperous holiday season. Install WordPress plugins such as W3 Total Cache and/or Autoptimize to prepare for the high-traffic holiday season.
Maximize Customer Spending
You must also make it easy for customers to buy or they will click away to a competitor. To increase your average order, cross-promote related items, bundle merchandise, and upsell add-ons and accessories. This will maximize how much each person spends on your site. To further incentivize shoppers, create dedicated landing pages that show them how to save by purchasing more, or create lists of holiday bundles.
Send Abandoned Cart Emails
The holiday season is hectic for everyone. It’s not hard to imagine a shopper, in the middle of shopping your site with a cart full of merchandise, getting distracted and navigating away. With a WordPress plugin such as WooCommerce Recover Abandoned Cart, guests and logged-in customers are notified via email when they have abandoned orders. Using an email remarketing tool recovers up to 25 percent of abandoned shopping carts so it’s worth it to install this WordPress e-commerce plugin.
Set Up Retargeting Ads
Shoppers may be perusing your site’s products but leaving before adding merchandise to their carts. In this case, you would want a plugin such as Perfect Audience Retargeting. This works by placing a cookie in a person’s browser when they visit your site. When they navigate away, retargeting delivers your ads to these individuals on other sites. These ads remind users to go back to your website to make the purchases they were earlier considering.
Optimize for Holiday SEO
Updating SEO can mean more traffic with a smaller ad budget. Many will spend and spend trying to optimize, especially this time of year. Here are a few things you can do, and save your money too by organically ranking for target keywords and phrases.
- Look at last year. What keywords drove success? Analyze those and optimize for them. Create in-depth content (that means video too) and gain backlinks from affiliates, partners and community.
- Don’t forget voice-related searches. Add your highest value question phrases, including those for brick and mortar stores.
- Create “coming soon” or sneak peek pages. These work well when you plan your gift guide and they provide an SEO rankings boost.
- Begin to use holiday-specific keywords and phrases in page metadata and copy. Start writing blog posts, build your sneak peek pages, and research industry trends to see what people are searching for, then make it easier for them to find the item that fills that need.
Ensure Your Site is Mobile-Friendly
According to data from Statista, global retail e-commerce sales will hit $4.5 trillion by the year 2021. This indicates a 246.15% growth from $1.3 trillion in 2014. Of those billions of dollars customers will spend, well over 50 percent of all visits to e-commerce sites will take place on a smartphone or tablet. Sites that are not mobile-responsive lose customers. If you’re concerned that it will take too much time to make the necessary changes, try WordPress plugins like WPtouch, AMP, WP Mobile Edition, Jetpack, or WordPress Mobile Pack to make your site mobile-friendly.
Need help getting your WordPress e-commerce site ready for the holiday season? Contact the WordPress experts at Proactive WP today to discuss a yuletide game plan for your business.
November 19, 2018
Design and technology change so quickly, it may seem almost impossible to keep up with the trends. Web design evolution moves quickly combining technology with users’ tastes, interests, and needs. In 2019, web design will be about color, organic shapes, animated/interactive backgrounds, minimalist designs, and mobile users.
October 10, 2018
You’re ready to build or update your startup’s website using WordPress. That’s an important first step to engage existing clients and to connect with new leads. A first-rate website is a critical component to the success of your small business. According to the Small Business Administration, small businesses with websites average $1.07 million more per year in sales than those without a web presence. On average, that’s 39 percent higher revenue than the alternative.
Now that you have decided to either relaunch your existing WordPress site or to build an entirely new one, you have to choose a theme. You may have searched through a few dozen to a couple of hundred WordPress themes, and all that you are is confused. Not to worry. Reference this guide to learn everything you need to know about choosing the right WordPress theme for your small business.
September 20, 2018
When a website is down or not performing well, it can spell disaster. Avoid downtime with these tips.
When you run a website—any website on any platform—it’s important that site be live and available. You want to build site traffic and if a user clicks on your site and nothing shows up, that’s a problem.
August 3, 2018
Whether you’re a WordPress pro or a beginner just learning the ropes, you really need a WordPress staging site for your business. A staging site can prevent your potential customers from coming across a down site, making it impossible for them to browse your products, read your information or place orders.
That’s no way to run a business.
June 26, 2018
As artificial intelligence evolves, marketers are discovering uniques ways to harness this technology to better engage audiences. Many enterprises have found that chatbots serve as excellent tools for informing shoppers, recommending services and products, and providing additional customer support. Companies such as eBay, Starbucks, Lyft, and Sephora have implemented chatbots to improve the overall customer experience. Read More
June 13, 2018
Research indicates that websites for businesses across verticals take an average of 8.66 seconds to load on a desktop, and 22 seconds to load on a mobile device. Industry experts recommend that if organizations do not want to lose valuable traffic, a site should load in no more than three seconds. Read More
May 29, 2018
Marketing is a multi-channel endeavor that requires daily management, regular review, and continual editing. Regardless of whether you are on a one-person team or a member of a large-scale department, marketing tools are imperative to managing channels, executing strategies, generating leads, and analyzing reporting metrics. With so many marketing automation tools available, determining which ones to use for your organization is quite the undertaking. Rather than spending hours researching the best marketing tools, review our recommendations here. Read More