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Preparing Your Store for the Holidays
The holidays will be upon us before you know it, and then it will fly by as you run around filling orders and shipping them out. The key to the whole process is to make sure that you have all of your supplies together before the first rush of customers.
It doesn’t matter where you sell, if you do your own shipping, here are some things to check on right now before it gets too late or shipping prices go up:
- Packing tape
- Packing bubble wrap
- Boxes in a variety of sizes
- Priority supplies
- Paper for invoices
- Toner/ink for printing
- Thank you cards – if you do them
- Tissues for packing
- Plastic bags for items
- Business cards
- Organza bags
This is the lull before the storm, so use this time to get prepared.
I hope you have lots of sales!
Since we have a little bit of time left before the holiday shopping season gets into gear, it’s a good time to go over your website to ensure that you’re prepared for the holidays. You want your prospective customers to spend as much time as they can browsing your site, so here are some checkup ideas that you can do now in preparation for the shopping frenzy.
The slower the speed, the less likely shoppers will stick around to browse your catalog. No matter where you host your site, your shop should be able to handle an uptick in shoppers for the holidays. That might mean that you have to rethink your hosting plan. Even the most professional sites can go down during a surge in traffic, so make sure that your plan is able to handle a lot of visitors.
If you host on sites like Shopify, you don’t have to worry about the traffic level; they are equipped to handle it for you, but you do need to make sure that your website speed is healthy.
Sites like GTMetrix let you check your performance and speed by scanning the site. https://gtmetrix.com/
Another point to consider before the holidays: back up your site to your hard drive in the unlikely event that something happens to the host during the holidays. You should always back up your site anyway, but it’s really important at this point during the year.
Those marketing people in the know anticipate that the 2022 shopping season will blow away all of the previous years’ shopping statistics. Of those new shoppers, at least 40% will be coming in from their phones. This includes both Black Friday and Cyber Monday, and most likely Small Business Saturday. There are billions of dollars’ worth of reasons to make sure your site is mobile friendly.
If your site is on Indiemade, Etsy, Shopify or any of the other big players, then you can be assured that the mobile optimization has already been done for you. If you are not on a big player, here are the steps you need to improve your mobile performance.:
- Make sure you are using a responsive theme (these use percentages rather than hard pixel counts)
- Make sure your site speed is fast
- Get rid of pop-ups on your site
- Keep the design simple
- Use larger fonts
- Make the checkout buttons bigger
- Do not use Flash or other animations that can cover a phone screen – that includes web banners
You want your visitors to explore your website, so make navigation simple and easy for them. The catalog tree should spell everything out, or have category photos. You need to divide your categories in a logical manner.
All of your navigation texts or buttons should be clickable, and every image needs an ALT text for both SEO and for visually impaired individuals.
Make sure your search engine works on your site, and that is returns the expected results. Some search engine add-ons are very broad and return a large selection of unwanted results.
All of your section titles should be pertinent.
The most important part of the checkout process is that the payment is secure. You will have secure checkout with any of the big ecommerce sites like Shopify, Etsy or Indiemade, but if you have built your own site, you may need to ensure that your payment processor and the checkout coding is secure.
If possible, add more than one checkout spot on a page. Places to add checkout buttons include at the top, and towards the bottom of the page description.
If you can, simplify the checkout process by reducing fields for the customer to fill out. Some payment sites allow for one button checkout like Paypal or Amazon. When you use these for payment processors, you can just add the buttons and the customer goes directly to their payment page.
You can add a guest checkout option where people do not have to create an account to shop from you. This is a good option, but it also means that the customer will have to fill out the information again if they come back to buy more. They still have to fill out the shipping information.
After you make improvements to your site, test it and test it again. Make sure that everything is working.
Once you have your site ready for extra traffic, get your marketing plan together, so you can drive more sales to your new website.
I’ve made all of these marketing mistakes so you don’t have to. Not only are these marketing mistakes a waste of time, but they can also become quite expensive. Especially if you have advertising dollars attached to your promotion, which I did. Social media ads and Google ads seem like they are inexpensive, but when everything is added up, they can be costly.
While my marketing failures are all around my handmade products, these mistakes can apply to any product, handmade or manufactured, product that you want to promote and sell. Even e-books.
Here are some product promotion marketing mistakes to avoid:
No Marketing Plan
When deciding to do a promotional event like a giveaway or discount, have a plan in place that covers all of the steps leading up to launch day. A marketing plan starts with a goal.
Do you know what you’re trying to achieve with the event? Are you looking for more subscribers? Do you want to sell more products? Will you be collecting names? Or just more traffic to your website or blog?
Until you can define your goal, you can’t make a marketing plan, and without a plan, how can you measure your results?
Marketing to the Wrong Audience
If you don’t know who buys your product or reads your blog, then you’ll end up marketing to the wrong group of people, which is a waste of time and money.
Start your marketing plan by finding out who your customers are. It’s important to know things like their age group, financial situation, gender, similar interests and more.
If you’re using social media or search engine ads, you can narrow the groups down to a small, select target. It’s better to market to a small group than a broad target, and you can’t know what that small group is until you figure out who your customers are. If you want to read more about digital marketing, check out this post.
Fail to Track Your Marketing Results
When you finish your ad campaign or promotional event, you won’t know if you were successful in reaching the right people until you see the analytics from the event. If it’s a social media ad or search engine ad, then the analytics are available to you on the dashboard.
If you’re tracking traffic on your website, you should be able to tell where the traffic went and where it came from. While some web hosts make you pay for upgraded analytics, most have a basic traffic analysis on the admin panel.
You may be able to get an idea of its success rate by how many products you sold, how many people signed up or how many social media shares you got for your blog post, but they won’t tell you where the traffic came from or how they found you.
Fail to Measure Your Marketing Results
From the traffic information you get on your website, the advertising campaign or email campaign dashboards, if you don’t measure these results and apply them to your next campaign, you might as well just throw the money away.
No matter how hard you plan, how much your target your audience, how far you track your statistics and how you measure your results, some campaigns are doomed to fail. However, all you can do is tweak it and start over. Sometimes the timing isn’t right. Sometimes events out of your control happen like a hurricane hitting the place where most of your customers come from, and sometimes, your product falls flat like a deflated balloon because no one wants a trick or treat bag in June.
While taking these promotional mistakes to avoid into consideration, also consider that you aren’t the first to make a mistake. If you want to see some spectacular marketing fails, then check out this story from Eventbrite in the U.K. You are not alone.
You might find the following books helpful in creating your marketing and promotion plans. Some of them are Kindle Unlimited, which means you can read them for free as long as you have a Kindle Unlimited membership. Try out Kindle Unlimited here.
The following ecommerce marketing books are all available to read for free with the Kindle Unlimited plan, but they are also inexpensive to own.
The 1-Page Marketing Plan – Allan Dib
How to Sell on Etsy with Facebook
The Book on Facebook Marketing
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When I started my website, the year was 1997. I was selling hand-drawn graphics and hand-drawn fonts. I also sold products I made from my fractal art that included mousepads, posters, t-shirts and coffee mugs. All of this was before there was even an eBay. I found a payment processor that would handle my credit card sales, but mostly, people sent me checks, and I sent them the product. My website was all coded by me, and it was a very simple site. You see it; you like it; you buy it. I didn’t even have the benefit of Google.
In 2004, when I opened www.bluemorningexpressions.com, I hand-coded my site, but I also dabbled on eBay with my handmade beads and polymer clay work. When Etsy started in 2006, I opened a store there, as well. Since this time, I have moved on from Etsy and am focused on my site, but for those who are looking for a viable site for handmade sellers, here are some of the places that I have found to be good choices.
Indiemade for Handmade Sellers
I have several friends who have made the move to Indiemade. They moved in this direction several years ago when other handmade sites either failed or provided a miserable seller’s experience.
This website/eCommerce solution offers the sellers a solid place to sell their wares. They only support handmade, so you don’t have to compete with bulk resellers. You do have to do your own promoting since they don’t have the built-in traffic as Etsy does. They also have a blog, so you can generate traffic to your site by writing about your product.
Click below to learn more about Indiemade.
Etsy for Handmade Sellers
While Etsy has been around a long time, its focus has been less and less on the handmade artist and more on supplies and other mass-produced items. While there is a need for supplies in bulk, there have always been plenty of places to find those on the web rather than having the sellers infiltrate a handmade site.
As well, they allow for manufacturing partners now that make mass-produced items even easier to sell. Yes, this helps me sell my pillows, prints and mugs, but I don’t have them listed on Etsy for sale. About once a year, I use Etsy to push my handmade beads when sales slow down for me on other venues.
The search engine on Etsy has always been wrong-headed by making you cram all the keywords into the title and description rather than the more organic and natural flow of the current Google search engine.
The key to Etsy, if you want to go that route, is that they have built-in traffic that goes through their homepage, so you don’t have to do all of your own promoting.
Here is one of my friend’s Etsy site:
When Amazon decided to open up to handmade and give Etsy a run for their money, I signed up immediately. There are a lot of people who shop on Amazon, so I saw no reason to not take the time to get my handmade items in front of as many people as I could.
It is not listing-friendly, and there are a lot of pitfalls to selling on Amazon, but there are a lot of really great benefits from doing it, too. I sell a lot of my regular bread and butter things on Amazon like keyrings, thimbles and other things that I can quickly reproduce.
Here is a link to my shop on Amazon Handmade:
While not handmade-specific, Shopify has an extensive suite of tools that handmade artists can take advantage of to build a robust site with everything from payment processing to SEO management.
Handmade sellers – Do you need a Shopify account? Click below to learn more
Shopify for Handmade Sellers
When I got tired of coding my website and decided that Etsy had become too big as they moved away from handmade, I shopped around for a website/eCommerce solution that would meet my handmade needs while making it easy for me to do business.
I always liked to build my own sites because I felt like I had better control over things and was not relying on one site to keep me in business. While I still feel that way, after six or seven years with Shopify, I can say that I’m glad that I no longer have to waste my time redoing the site every time something changes on the web. I only have to concentrate on selling my handmade beads.
Here is my site:
No matter which direction you choose to go, it’s better to focus on a marketplace or eCommerce solution that supports the needs of handmade sellers over mass-produced products.
If you find this information useful, then please share it with your friends. If you have any suggestions on how to make it better, then please contact me or comment below. I am always open to suggestions.
Looking for more tips? Check out the list at the bottom of the post for more ecommerce articles.
So, you have this really great product that you think everyone would love to have, and you have a marketing budget of about zero. What do you do?
There are a lot of ways to tackle this situation, but most of the advice out there focuses on spending lots of money on social media posts and search engine ads. What do you do if you do not have a lot of money set aside for any type of advertising?
Here are some great little budget marketing tricks that will not cost you a lot of money, and most of them are quite simple to set up. The only downside to budget marketing is that getting the results you want might take longer than you had hoped. Not forever, but a little longer than doing Facebook blasts of your latest product.
Take a look at the following cheap product promotion ideas to see if anything inspires you:
Budget Marketing Ideas
If you are already on Facebook or Twitter, create a group for people like you who are struggling. Don’t focus the group on your products, but focus it on networking and helping other online business owners get sales.
There are so many groups on Facebook, and the web in general, that it is really easy to find like-minded people who are struggling every day to get traffic to their stores and listings. If you create a group where you can all come together, you can create an atmosphere where everyone helps each other independently of the group.
10 artists in a group can share the other nine artists’ work with their followers, which increase their exposure to more people. Networking has always been the key to getting more sales. From the first elixir wagon in western towns to today’s internet age, sharing information is the easiest thing to do and the least expensive.
- Email marketing
If you have an email list, then send out emails to your customers. Email still gets the highest response rate of all advertising, and it is either free or very inexpensive. Take your time crafting your subject line, your header and your email body so that it reflects your perfect customer’s desires.
What if you don’t have an email list? It’s okay. You can start one by doing a giveaway of one of your products. You tell everyone on your social media accounts that you have a giveaway and ask them to sign up to be eligible to win. There are some rules around giveaways on Facebook, so make sure that you understand what you can and cannot do before your set out on a giveaway. Then take the email information you get and put them on your email list. Make sure that when they sign up, they know they are getting future emails from you.
Even if you only have one sale, you have one person on your email list, so email them.
Put a THANK YOU sticker on every order you send out! Remind them that they are appreciated.
Do you already have great customers who have purchased your items? Ask them for a referral. It is easy to put stickers on your products that ask for referrals, or you can set up a referral fee or free products in exchange for referrals. This type of inexpensive marketing is done all the time from the top companies to the small business owner.
There are a lot of budget marketing promotion ideas that won’t cost you a lot of money, so if these product promotion ideas do not work at first, keep working at them until you start to see the sales come in. From there, it will be hard to keep up.
Use a Referral sticker on all of your orders to ask for the next order!
If you find this information useful, then please share it with your friends. If you have any suggestions on how to make it better, then please contact me. I am always open to suggestions.
Looking for more tips? Check out the list at the bottom of the post for more ecommerce articles.
Read the 1 Page Marketing Plan book for even more tips and tricks on budget marketing. Sometimes, this is included in the Kindle Unlimited program, so you can read for free! Don’t have Kindle Unlimited? Get it here: