Ecommerce is a multi-billion dollar industry and the good news is that it’s an opportunity for everyone.
No high barriers. No stupid politics.
If you have a dream, and have products to sell, ecommerce is your way out.
According to Mashable,
In fact, U.S. consumers spend $1,200-$1,300 per year online, but that number will increase by 44%, to $1,738, by 2016. In that year, ecommerce sales are expected to hit $327 billion.
Magento Go (cloud-based derivative of the popular Magento platform) doesn’t exist apparently, and for Small businesses who’d like the Do It Yourself approach, Magento now has the hosted partner solution model with Pixafy starting at $89/month.
That’s a little steep.
Apart from BigCommerce, which has an excellent blogging platform in addition to everything an ecommerce solution should provide, Shopify makes for a viable choice as an ecommerce platform.
Here’s why you should stop wasting time and switch to Shopify:
Expensive is more expensive than you think
While there’s a softalicious that can do a 1-minute quick install, you’d either have to buy a reasonably good Magento theme or get one custom developed. This alone costs you hosting and the price for the template. If you are not technically inclined, you’d look for help to install your Magento theme and only adds to your expenses.
With Shopify, there’s no need to configure databases, look for PHP5 availability, worry about hosting, wonder if you should continue with your shared hosting or look for dedicated servers (and pay for those).
If you work with Magento, you’d have to work with modules. These modules can cause conflict, have API restrictions, and can cost you a bomb.
Really, you should install, set off, and work on your business instead of worrying about all things technology.
Data insecurity is like a super ice water shower that kills
Ecommerce isn’t like blogging. There are products with product related information. You are likely to store your customers’ credit cards and payment information. Getting hacked is probably the end of your business, so to speak.
If, for any reason, you lose customer information, email lists, credit card lists, or your own financial data along with customer data, you’d go belly up.
Shopify is a protected wall-garden. It’s a fortress. Since it’s not Magento (open-source) and is not used in volume, the chances of getting hacked are less.
Shopify “owns” everything from hosting to your checkout process. It takes care of data security, security breaches, software upgrades, and any other vulnerability issues.
You can just sit and collect cash from your bank deposits.
Take care of the marketing, and not the platform
Consider this: if you are in business, there’s tons of work you need to do for marketing. Do you have time to work on the backend? Worry about hosting? Setup and install modules? Figure out why your checkout process doesn’t seem to work?
Leave the heavy lifting like servers, hosting, database, configurations, backend techno mumbo-jumbo, and everything else that takes you away from your business to folks at Shopify and work on your marketing.
Shopify themes already exist so you don’t have to get a new one developed. Next thing you know, you should be uploading product photos, descriptions, and do blogging. Then get on social media and build your list.
Shopify will take care of everything else, thank you.
Work with something beautiful
Code is a mess. It’s ugly to look at. For everyone else except developers, code is meaningless. If you are a business owner, code is nothing for you.
Instead, when you login into your ecommerce platform dashboard, you should be working on something beautiful. You’d need an intuitive dashboard that shows numbers that matter.
The folks at Lucid path Consulting actually liken Shopify’s interface to that of an iPhone (Magento is like Linux or was it the green screen monster computers running on DOS?)
Shopify is beautiful – from the themes to the platform backed, from the frontend to the dashboard, and from the store to your cash register.
Talking about cash registers, Shopify has bells and whistles such as Online POS, mobile POS, and much more.
There are apps. There are more apps
Here’s the favourite part, and we absolutely love this. As if all the good things about Shopify weren’t enough, the Shopify app store is a treasure trove of various apps that you can use to make your ecommerce business work.
Marketing, sales, social media, inventory, accounting, reporting and shipping – you have apps for all of these.
Shopify is fast and capable
Finally, Shopify stores are super fast, agile, and capable of taking all that traffic you can throw at it. Meanwhile, it’s underbelly is massive which gives you the capacity to handle massive numbers of customers.
The belly, by the way, can also take unlimited traffic, product inventory, and a lot more. If you worked with Magento with that kind of capacity, traffic management, and customer management, the resulting PHP-heavyness would break the servers, your head, or make the customer happily leave for your completion (which is likely to be on a Shopify Store).
Move to a Shopify now. Tell us when your store goes live.
It’s hard to run a business. Imagine this: think of an idea that has the potential to work, setup a website, do blogging regularly, engage on social, start building your list, and then keep spending on various expense head such as staffing, tools, office space, equipment, and more.
If that weren’t enough, you’d also do ad spending, media buying, and a whole lot more.
Plenty of businesses seem to be confused with what works and what doesn’t. Even if they do know what works, they’d need some more clarity.
If you don’t have a website and if you aren’t launched properly yet, start with the following tools:
NameCheap Yeah, you can get domains and hosting anywhere. You just won’t have anyone answering your support tickets and real, smiling, helpful humans on the other side.With Namecheap, say hello to excellent support, industry-favorite services, and an award-winning product portfolio (stretching from domains all the way to reseller and dedicated hosting).
HootSuite You’d need a single, all-purpose tool to manage your social accounts. It’s time you get away from the pain full, time-gagging habit of logging in and out of social media accounts. Manage accounts, schedule updates, engage in conversations, and keep track of your performance using HootSuite Analytics.
Mailchimp If you are just starting out and if you are looking for a no-fuss, simple, and very capable email service provider, start with MailChimp. You can’t buy lists and do email marketing the “wrong” way with Mailchimp though.
Your business setup, social media, and email marketing are all covered.
Then, read the right way to create a strong digital footprint by utilising your digital channels the right way.
Now, you know what each digital marketing channel is best used for and how you should make it a part of your strategy.
Let’s roll and figure out how to get your business some traction inexpensively and quickly (and we’d never say it’s easy):
Start PPC with Bing Ads
Whether you are a veteran PPC marketer, an eager business owner, or a suave digital marketer, it always makes sense to get away from the super glamorous Google Adwords wagon and launch your PPC campaigns by spending much less than what you’d spend otherwise. Stop the seemingly endless Google Vs Bing Debate, and add another traffic source for your business.
Starting on Bing is a great way to get your bearings right, experiment, do A/B testing, and put your ads to sweat more to make you more.
Do media buying
Most startups and small businesses think that “media buying” is for the big buys. The Internet leveled the field a long time ago. Using services like BuySellAds (and LaunchBit – also owned by BuySellAds), your media buying can be in control and affordable. Seek high quality publishers all over the world (look for geo-targeting if you have to), and automate your media buying.
Impressions, clicks, traffic, and return on your investments. See what money can do for you.
Negotiate manual advertising online
BuySellAds can certainly make it easier for you to reach out to high-quality publishers, but there’s really no hustle in that, is there?
If you still have the hunger, reach out to local online bloggers (if local advertising is your focus) or other bloggers who haven’t thought about monetizing their blogs or publications.
You can also reach out to owners, companies, and other organizations to advertise on their newsletters. While you are at it, you can also reach out to newsletter-focused publishers such as SmartBrief, trade publications, and many other sources for a steady flow of targeted traffic.
Focus on Analytics
Business owners think analytics is for marketing geeks. Even marketers don’t seem to give as much importance as analytics should deserve.
Here’s some food for thought:
Digital marketing is awesome because you can track the results of your efforts or advertising spending.
There’s no tracking without analytics. Period.
Read about 6 Super Analytics Tools For Your Business and Are You Getting Everything from Your Analytics?
If you don’t know where you are with your marketing efforts and ad spending, you won’t make decisions that you should. If not that, you’d be making decisions based on emotions, whims, and weird guesses.
That doesn’t work for data-driven marketing.
Not everyone knows how to use Industry leading products such as Adobe PhotoShop and Illustrator. Yet, visuals rule the web.
You’d need tons of visuals for all sorts of content – say blog posts, social media updates, email marketing, and other documents you’d want to create including eBooks, whitepapers, and others.
You’d also need graphics, icons, and illustrations for various parts of your website.
Marketers will also need easy to use tools for creating advertisements, banners, and other such digital assets.
For marketers and time-strapped business owners, fiddling with Photoshop isn’t an option. Here’s a run down of tools you can use
Canva has soon emerged as the leading tool to create a wide array of graphics for the web. From Facebook cover photos to Twitter updates, and from Infographics to invitation posters, Canva has most things covered. Featuring a drag and drop functionality along with an ever growing repository of images, vectors, and icons, doing graphcis with Canva is as easy as using your mouse.
If you are a marketer looking to create ads and banners, look no further than BannerSnack. Pick up templates for your ads or banners and drag/drop objects to create your ads quickly and efficiently. You can use the free library of images and assets or bring in images from the Creative commons. If you’d like a better quality, you can also find images and illustrations from Deposit Photos, iStockPhoto, or Photolia.
Serif’s PagePlus is the only tool that you’d have to download – yeah, the good, old downloadable software – but it’s well worth the effort if you’d like to create documents of any sort. Go ahead and create Brochures, postcards, ePuB covers, Kindle Book Covers, flyers, and possibly every other document you’d ever need for your business.
Affinity Designer for Mac
One of the best apps on the Mac Store for art and design in the year 2014, Affinity Designer for Mac helps you develop designs really fast. Zoom off at about 60 fps, apply effects in real time, and work with objects and graphics as complex as you like while Affinity never runs out of memory or the capability to handle tasks.
Design Rails (Beta)
Need a logo real quick? How about minutes instead of days or weeks? And get this: how about a logo at no cost to you? Design Rails is a cool app that taps into its database of varied iconography, typefaces, color schemes, and layout styles to get you the logo that you are likely to fall in love with.
WithOomph – reminds us of Social Oomph – is another cool discovery for getting your logo done with nothing but a business/brand name and a keyword. If you do like one of those logos that come out, almost instantly, you may purchase your logo files (PNG, PDF, and EPS) for a mere £25. They also have screen-printing and other printing options available.
Sta.Sh Muro by Deviant Art
Imagine getting to a URL and getting almost anything done in terms of graphic design? How about some quick photo editing? Instead of waiting for Photoshop to load forever for quick edits, you might as well use Sta.sh Muro by Deviant Art. We haven’t used this one yet (so your feedback is welcome).
Think of WordSwag as a graphic designer in your pocket, at the palm of your hand. Available as an App in the iTunes Store, WordSwag has more than 290,000 images (sourced through Pixabay). Create your visuals quickly, add image filters if you need to, pick your own backgrounds, add text, and share on social when you are done.
PicMonkey lets you edit and touchup photos, design visuals, and create a collage if you like to. Turn photos into illustrations, use text masks to combine images with text, and even go retro if you like. A pro version is available for ads-free editing and more features.
Which of these tools do you use? Do you know of any other graphic design tools for non-designers that business owners and marketers can use?
If you are on paid search, we can bet our skinny agency’s profit margins on the fact that you are inadvertently considering (or already using) Google. Also, as Jonathan Long of Search Engine Journal puts it, you are likely to be treating Yahoo Bing Network as the redheaded stepchild.
Yahoo Bing Ad Network isn’t as bad as you think. In fact, it makes sense to consider it strongly, now more than ever.
Stop doing PPC Google Vs Bing searches and consider adopting both networks into your search strategy.
First, here’s an Infographic from Market Domination Media that you should quickly take a look at. While you are there, digest it.
Infographic by: Market Domination Media
You are putting it all in the same basket, and an expensive one at that
Only 67.5% of American users use Google. The rest of the searches originate from Bing (16.7%), Yahoo (11.6%) and others. That’s just America. If you take an entire population of China (Baidu rules), Google doesn’t even exist. Meanwhile, an average paid search advertiser’s cost per thousand impressions on Google Adwords was 4.2 to 11.2 times higher than on Yahoo! Bing Network in the U.S alone. The cost per click average on Yahoo! Bing was about 10 to 24% lower on AdWords (category depending).
A vast majority of advertisers find Yahoo Bing network cheaper than Google Adwords.
So, I beg to ask: why are you putting it all on one expensive basket?
Bing is Bing. Google Is Google
John Gagnon of Search Engine Watch writes that it turns out that not everyone uses Google. In the retail category alone, more than 40 million searches are found on Bing and not on Google — and that’s just retail.
Bring in an entire spectrum of verticals and industries across a swathe of geographic territories and that’s a lot of audience you are missing out on. In the chart below, take a good look at the orange part of the circle. Those are the people who are exclusively on Bing and not on Google for each of those verticals.
Sometimes, Bing is Better
Although Google is the reigning king when it comes to search, Bing just does a few things much better. According to Kayla Mathews of Business2community.com explains how bing is better than Google for things such as social integration, image quality, video search, a generous reward program, search partner exclusion, easier ad check-ins, better local search, and of course pricing.
Now, that isn’t even the end. From a purely utilitarian point of view, Eric Ravenscraft of Lifehacker points out that Bing is awesome for showing better flight data, easier photo license search, and finding online courses.
Bing isn’t as big as Google. Or maybe it is. For a search Marketer and for a multitude of businesses, having two options is always better than just one.
Haven’t you heard of enough Google Adwords horror stories already? It’s time for you to consider a nice alternative traffic source when it comes to paid and organic search.
If you are in the U.S, here’s something sweet for you
Limited Time Offer: Get a $50 Bing Ads search advertising coupon + 15% off Office 365 Business.
Tell me where you are at with paid search?
Small businesses have a losing proposition on social media, and that includes Twitter.
All that futzing around with others’ content, engagement, conversations, tweets, retweets, favs, shares, and everything else that goes on out there is a major time suck in a way.
That’s time consuming. Here’s how:
Img Credits: Buffer Blog
And see how much time marketers & business owners whittle away on social:
Img Credits: Buffer blog
Save time with Social
Neil Patel wrote a post on the Buffer blog to show that business owners spend 50% more time on social media than non-business owners. Sam Milbrath of HootSuite writes about how hard it is to scale up services (if you are an agency) and mange multiple accounts while have to schedule your updates on social media.
It doesn’t have to be that way thanks to technology. Armed with industry leading social media management tools such as HootSuite, you can practically scale your social media efforts.
Technology apart and putting social media awesomeness aside, there are a few things you should be doing on Twitter.
Know what social media wants. Give it just that
Most businesses expect something from all the time and effort they put into social media management. They’d go like:
- We want our fans and followers to grow over time.
- Get us 12,546 Twitter followers by the end of 3 months.
- What is Social Media ROI?
Here’s some news for you: there’s no way you can buy your way into people’s hearts.
Throwing money at social media is like paying every visitor at a dinner party to listen to non-stop pitching about your products and services, all night long.
Expecting fans and followers to grow is to assume that you are so awesome and that you are desperate for the world to like you.
All that is lame.
Social media is “social” media. Get social or get out. Grow organically or die.
Create a system. Now
You won’t be able to “wing” it on social. Because winging it takes all day. You’ll need a system. This is how it could be:
- Assign yourself exactly X number of updates per network, per day/week.
- Signup for a HootSuite Pro Account and use scheduling, auto-scheduling, or bulk uploads features to post updates into the future.
- If you can, upload posts (counting up to 100s, if you have to) ahead of time using Bulk uploading and forget about it.
- Well, you can’t really forget since your updates get some traction and love. When you do, retweet, fav, and thank people.
- Get into conversations for exactly 30 mins a day, and no more than that.
Here’s the most important thing after you spend your 30 minutes: get off social media and focus on something else.
Focus on building relationships
When you are out there, having conversations or seeing new followers follow you or when you get into a live Tweet chat, it’s your opportunity to build relationships with real people. Focus on that.
- Head out to their profile and see what they do. Who are these people?
- Visit their websites, check out their blog posts, follow them back to stay tuned to their tweets, and support their cause.
Say, like this:
• Make your follow Fridays focused on one person/brand/company per #FF tweet. You know? Something like this:
Be good on social
Don’t get nasty. Don’t turn into a drone, and don’t overdo anything. That includes over using hashtags, as Hayley Mullen of Unbounce notes.
Also, stop using automated messages, not responding to all the love you get, hustling and peddling on social, and more.
How does Twitter work for you? What are you on Social for?
If you’d like to learn more on how to Make Twitter Work For Your Business, download my free guide now.