Fall is almost here! I love this time of year as with each new season it gives me the opportunity to reflect on what is working for my business and continue working on what I need to help my business succeed as we move into the next season. No matter if you are a brand new internet business or have owned it for years, each and every ecommerce entrepreneur needs the tools to properly prepare, promote and profit. This is why I invite you to remember those three “P’s”! Fall is a great time for you to gather the tools you need for success and rake in profits from your ecommerce business!
Tools to Prepare your Internet Business for the Holiday Season and Beyond
Being prepared ahead of time can definitely pay off in the end. With the change of each season you need to be ready with new products, categories and content that will appeal to your customers. Consumers are creatures of habit, if they see fall or holiday colors they will begin thinking of shopping for the new products they need for the new season. This is why in a brick and mortar store you see the Halloween decorations go up right after the Back to School products come down. You need to mimic the same plan in your online store. You do not want to market the same-‘ole-same-ole’ month after month, but you want to excite your customers by offering them something brand new! Now is the time you should be doing this so you can prepare your internet business for the holiday season and beyond.
With the change of seasons this is the perfect opportunity for you to research and bring on new vendors and products to take your internet business into the fall and holiday seasons. I always suggest you select products that will cater to your customer’s needs for the new season. Select styles, textures and colors that will appeal to your customers and it is a great opportunity to fill your current categories with all new products. Having fresh, new products to market to your customers will help boost your appeal to customers.
Add New “Look” and Product Categories to Highlight Season Products
Start by looking at your home page – this is where the majority of your customers begin shopping on your site. You will want to add photos, banners and content that will focus on the feeling of fall. Don’t stop there! Just as you decorate your home for the fall and holiday seasons you will want to do the same with your website. For your categories you can use fun phrases or seasonal focused keywords to setup new categories. For example – “What’s New for Fall” or “Shop our Holiday Boutique” or even “10 Must Have’s for Fall 2014″ and so on. Be creative and have fun – this will come through to your customers and they will want to shop in those dedicated areas. You can use sites like Photodune and iStockPhoto to purchase images that are seasonally appropriate and you can create these banners yourself or you can hire it out fairly inexpensively.
Don’t forget about your SEO! Having content that markets your products is necessary while focusing on the keywords that will drive shoppers to your site. The content on your internet business should be revamped with each new season. This is your opportunity to write content that reflects the season by continuing to use focused content and keywords to help your site’s search engine optimization. When I asked, Lori Hanks, Pure-Ecommerce’s head of SEO what tips she would offer to business owners preparing for the season and SEO, she said take baby steps. She says, “My biggest tip to clients about SEO is to break it down. It can be extremely overwhelming if you try to approach it as a whole. That’s scary for anyone, but if you break it down into chunks and approach it with mini goals each week, it is much easier to accomplish. I also advise clients to sit back and look at their site and their social media from their customer’s perspective. What do they want to know? What do they want to see? Once you have the answers to these questions you only need to provide it. Write your content to provide those answers. You need to be aware of what SEO best practices are and you need to stay current but you can’t lose your customer’s perspective. If you’re not providing them what they need and want – it won’t matter how great your SEO efforts are.” Content must always be updated and kept fresh and current. Fall is a great time to do this.
Now that you have prepared your internet business for the new season you can start promoting. You will want to show off your hard work after adding new content and products! Since you are an online business you will want to promote to customers through multiple online outlets including your social media pages, blog and newsletter. Here are helpful tips I found from three experts posted at Social Media Examiner.
Rick Mulready gave a great tip I agree with– “focus on the platforms where your customers are.” This is crucial, as you do not waste your time, energy or even money using platforms your target market does not use. Rick explains, “Social media overwhelm is one of the biggest challenges for small businesses. They think they need to have a presence on every social platform including the latest “shiny object” that comes along. This spreads them too thin and causes wasted time and effort. The solution is rather simple: if social media makes sense for your business, be where your customers are. Find out where your customers are hanging out online, choose 1 or 2 of those platforms that you enjoy and that align with your business objectives and then focus deeply on those platforms.”
Facebook is the most popular social media platform partially because it allows you the opportunity to market your internet business to a mass amount of people at a time. Amy Porterfield is known as the Facebook Marketing expert, here’s her insight, “If you’re posting on Facebook and not seeing engagement in the form of likes, shares or comments, you’re wasting your precious time. You need fan engagement if you want to continually be seen in the news feed (which is where all the action is on Facebook!).”
When promoting your internet business through social media marketing this is your opportunity to really “speak” to your potential and current customers. This is the platform where you want to carry on a conversation and engage your customers and not just simply post product after product. By conversing with your customers versus posting vague information you can ultimately create loyalty by engaging your customers. Stephanie Shkolnik, Social Media Director at Digitaria, gives the following advise, “Provide your customers with the most valuable content and insights across your social channels by participating in two-way dialogue on the right channel. You can actually ask your customer directly online how they feel about a particular topic.” This will not only engage your customers, but will let them know you truly care about their opinion.
Customer engagement is a valuable tactic when it comes to any of your marketing. Your goal is to not only have a person purchase from your online store, but come back for more! You want to let your customer know you are listening and you care about their feedback. This will not only nurture the relationship with this customer, but will help build relationships with others!
Tools to Profit from Your Internet Business
Remember you will need to work now in order to profit later. If you put in the time and hard work it takes to prepare and promote your internet business it is now time to profit. For ecommerce the holiday season is booming! Internet Retailer reported, Cyber Monday 2013 set records with sales of $2.29 billion which was a 20.6% increase over 2012 figures. This is the season you want to boost sells by offering specialty products, up sell products by pairing items that complement each other and will help you profit even more. Another great option to help build profits is to offer incentives and holiday sales. Competition is fierce during the holidays so you will not only want to offer great products, but give your customers an incentive to buy from your store. By offering a percentage off or free shipping can really help you boost sales. Reaping the profits from your internet business is the true highlight of entrepreneurship, but remember, you must put in the hard-work first!
Take note of the three P’s – prepare, promote, profit – in order to promote you need to prepare your site; in order to profit you need to promote your internet business – it is simple as that – now get to work!