19 ways to promote a new product on the web for free

free-signSo you’ve got some pretty cool new stock for your online store – bonza!

Once you’ve got that sparkly item beautifully photographed and loaded safely in your Spiffy Store, it’s time to go to town with your marketing.

You don’t have to have a big marketing budget to promote your new product online.

Here are 19 ideas that will cost you nothing but a little bit of your time.

  1. Post a photo of your new product on your Facebook page, linking directly back to the product page on your store
  2. Tweet that cool photo and link out on your Twitter account
  3. Post the image and link on your Pinterest page
  4. Post the image and link on your Google+ page
  5. Make a creative photo on Instagram
  6. Write an update for your LinkedIn company page
  7. Take a short video of the product on your smartphone and load it onto your YouTube channel
  8. Post the video out on your other social networks too
  9. Use a #hashtag on social media whenever you mention your new product. For example, #shoes or #goldsandals.
  10. Post on social media more than once. If you do it just once, it may get lost in the noise of the newsfeed.
  11. Feature the product in your next newsletter
  12. Mention it in your email signature with a link
  13. Write a blog post about it. If it’s something to wear, you could discuss different ways to wear it. Remember to use the product name in the page title and headline.
  14. Write a traditional press release and post it on PR sites like Newsmaker. If you’re not sure how to do that, check out my post on how to write a press release.
  15. Monitor sourcebottle.com for free publicity opportunities and giveaway requests that would fit your product. You can sign up for alerts on the site.
  16. Search for popular blogs in your niche (fashion, lifestyle etc) using Google Blog Search or Alltop and send the blogger some information about your product along with some nice images. They might feature it.
  17. When you ship your new product, invite your customers to post a snap of them using it on social media with a #hashtag so you can follow the activity
  18. Slip a note about the new item into the package when you ship other goods
  19. Add a note and link in your automated emails to check out the new product in the store

There you go. A bunch of online marketing ideas for you that don’t cost a cent!

10 ways to promote your store using LinkedIn

You might not think it, but there are plenty of ways to promote your online store using the professional network, LinkedIn. Here’s 10 for you!

1. Set up a Company PageLinked Laptops

Just as you can create a personal LinkedIn profile to showcase yourself, you can do the same for your business. They’re called Company Pages and they provide you with a free and easy way to promote your store online.

Before you can set up a Company Page, you need to have your own personal LinkedIn page (if you don’t yet have one, head over to my previous post on LinkedIn profiles for some tips on getting started).

It’s quite easy to launch a Company Page, but there are a few requirements you need to meet before you can go ahead, so read through those first or you may quickly get frustrated!

When you’re ready, here’s how to make it happen. Continue reading

How to improve your store’s AdWords campaigns

success dialSo, you’ve got an AdWords campaign for your online store up and running. Good for you! If you’re anything like me, you’ll be checking in on the data frequently to see what’s happening to your hard earned marketing dollars.

Here are a few tips to help you get the best value out of your campaigns.

Bring important data together

Start off by getting as much performance information as possible.

> Connect your AdWords and Google Analytics accounts
By connecting these powerful tools, you can get a more complete picture of your online performance. Follow the steps on this Google help page to link the accounts.

> Add extra columns to your AdWords Keywords report
The ‘bid’, or price you’re willing to pay for a click, is a key element in determining your ad’s position. But it can be hard to know an appropriate amount. By adding the estimated first page and top page bid columns to your Keywords report, you can tell if your bid is enough for a good position.

On the Keywords report, click the Columns tab > Customize columns > Attributes, and add ‘Est. first page bid’ and ‘Est. top page bid’. These columns will then show in your Keywords report.

> Set up conversion tracking
Conversion tracking reveals which keywords and campaigns are bringing in business. It’s important for optimising your return on investment as it will show where your budget is likely to be more profitable.

Google have a comprehensive guide to help you set up conversion tracking.

Understand Quality Score and why it’s important

Google uses a calculation called Quality Score to help decide when and where your ads show up in search results. It’s based on the quality (relevance) of your ads, keywords and landing page (where you send the visitor when they click each ad).

Quality Score is ranked 1 to 10. The higher the Quality Score, the more likely the ad will get a higher position in the search results and a lower CPC. You should aim to get the highest Quality Score you can by tweaking and improving your ads, keywords and landing pages.

Improve your keyword performance

1. Make sure your keyword bids are competitive. The new columns ‘Est. first page bid’ and ‘Est. top page bid’ you’ve added will show the estimated cost of a good ad position. If your bid is way below the amount needed, you can adjust it.

2. Remove any underperforming keywords (leaving them in will reduce your campaign performance).

  • If a keyword hasn’t triggered any ad impressions after a couple of weeks, and its Quality Score and bid are OK, think about removing it. There may not be enough people searching on that term.
  • If a keyword hasn’t produced any click throughs after a month, pause or remove it.
  • If a keyword is getting clicks but these are not converting, think about lowering the bid as it’s eating away at your budget. If you’re not seeing a positive return on investment (sales) after around 200 clicks, it’s time to consider removing the keyword.
  • If you see a keyword that’s converting well, you could add more budget to it to get more impressions.

Repeat keyword housekeeping regularly to keep your campaigns in top shape!

3. Use keyword matching to increase ad relevance

I’ve written about the importance of relevance in the search world many times. Keyword matching is an easy way to increase relevance by ‘tagging’ your keywords for broad, phrase, exact and negative match varieties.

Broad match is the default and has no specific tags around the keyword. Broad match means your ad can be triggered if the search term contains your keywords in any order, including additional words. For example, if your keyword is gold jewellery your ad may show for the search term buy gold men’s jewellery Sydney.

Using phrase match (putting your keyword in speech marks – “xxx”) means your ad only shows if your keywords appear together in the right order in a search query. For example, your keyword gold jewellery” only triggers your ad for a search like men’s gold jewellery, but not gold and diamond jewellery.

Exact match (putting your keyword in square brackets – [xxx]) is the most precise tagging. Using it means your ads only appear when someone searches for your exact keyword as it stands, without any other words in the search. For example, your keyword [gold jewellery] only triggers your ad for the search gold jewellery.

The other important match type for any AdWords campaign is negative match (putting a minus sign ‘–‘ in front of a keyword). This means your ad won’t show if a search term contains the negative keyword. It’s a useful way to prevent paying for irrelevant clicks.

Using keyword matching will affect number of times your ad shows for that keyword. Exact match keywords will trigger ads less times than broad match but the query is likely to be more relevant for you. If you’re getting too many irrelevant queries on your broad match keywords, you can change the match type and tighten it up.

4. Check which search terms are triggering your ads. To find out the actual search terms used by the people clicking on your ads, go to ‘Keywords > Details > SEARCH TERMS > All’. If you’re getting clicks from searches that don’t apply to your business, make them negative keywords.

Improve your ad performance

Make sure your ads are as enticing as possible with these tips: 

1. Use the keyword you’re targeting in the ad headline. You can do this automatically with dynamic keyword insertion.

Dynamic keyword insertion

This nifty little piece of code will insert the keyword that triggered the ad into your ad text. It can make your ads more relevant to the search and can improve the click through rate.

You can add the code anywhere in your ad – the headline, descriptions, URLs – as many times as you want, but be careful not to overdo it. Your ad still needs to make sense or you could turn people away!

When you use dynamic keyword insertion, check that all of the keywords in your ad group make sense where you’re going to display them in the ad, and the landing page is still relevant to those variations. This is especially important in ecommerce sites where your ad may point to a very specific product page.

The code you’ll need is: {keyword:default text} 

Replace ‘default text’ with words you’d like to appear when a keyword can’t be dynamically inserted. Make sure your keywords are short enough to keep your ad within the character limits. If not, the ad’s default text will be used instead.

Try one keyword insertion ad in each ad group, and set the default text that’s relevant to the theme.

2. Use Title Case Capitalisation (Used in this Sentence) Throughout your Headline and Body Copy to Help your Ad Stand Out.

3. Use a call to action like “Find out how” or “Get in touch” in your ad copy to make it obvious what you want the reader to do next.

4. Try including a couple of key selling points like prices, discounts, product names or free shipping.

5. Add ad extensions. It doesn’t cost anything to add extra information to your ad in the form of ad extensions, and it helps you stand out. As an online store owner, product extensions can be helpful. Find out more on the Google AdWords support site.

6. Create a display URL (web page address) that’s short, simple and contains your keyword. You can make the display url that shows in your ad different to the actual page url, as long as they’re both on the same domain. For example you could make the display url for the landing page “www.mystore.com.au/collections/gold-jewellery/products/wedding-rings” into “www.mystore.com.au/wedding-rings”. Google will show up to 35 characters in the ad.

7. Create three or four different ads for each ad group to see which messages and calls to action get the best results.

When you want to make changes to an ad, create a new ad rather than edit the exiting one, as you’ll loose the old ad’s data. Just pause the ones you’re replacing.

Improve your landing page

If you’re getting clicks on your ads, but a high bounce rate on your landing page and little or no conversions, your visitors might not be seeing what they expected when they clicked through.

Make sure there’s a logical connection between the wording in your ads and the landing page. Match the messages and copy and repeat any offers you mention in the ad on the landing page. The best way to make this obvious is to use the same wording in the landing page headlines and subheadings.

I hope that helps! It may look a bit daunting, but once you’ve used AdWords a few times, it’ll become second nature. Remember that your AdWords performance will need monitoring and optimising regularly.

How to set up Google AdWords to get more traffic to your online store

getting-traffic-to-your-storeOne of the quickest and easiest ways to get traffic to your online store is through paid ads on search engines like Google. It’s great for bringing people to your site when you first launch.

But wait, I hear you say, why pay when I can get listed in search engine results for free?

OK. Here’s a quick recap on the difference between the two types of search engine results listings.

Organic (free) listing

Appearing for free in search engine results is known as an organic listing. You can’t buy the placement – it’s made by the search engine based on its assessment of the content on your web page and its relevance to the search term. It looks at about 200 factors to help it make that decision.

Paid listing

Paying for a listing in search engine results is known as Search Engine Marketing (SEM) or pay-per-click (PPC) advertising.

These ad listings show up in the top positions on the first page of search results, and in a column down the right hand side. They look very similar to other listings, but they’re labelled ‘ads’ or ’sponsored links’. And if you look closely, you’ll see they read a little differently. AdWords is Google’s paid advertising program.

It doesn’t cost anything for your ad to show, but you’ll be charged a small amount when your ad is clicked on. The charge varies depending on the relevance of your ad and web page to the search term, and how much you’ve offered to pay for that click.

Why would you pay?

Well, put simply, it can be hard to get in the top search results otherwise.

The algorithms that calculate the position a web page is given in the free search results are highly complex. Trying to get a high ranking can take a lot of time, effort and specialist knowledge and you’ll be competing with countless other businesses trying to do the same.

And when the algorithms are updated (which happens a lot), you can find your page rankings change overnight.

Google AdWords gives your web page a much better chance to appear on the first page results for your chosen keywords, and you can do it really quickly.

Ready to give it a go? Here’s how to get started

Don’t be tempted to rush in to creating your ads before you’ve done steps 1 and 2. They’re crucial!

1. Get into your customers heads

Before you create your first campaign, write down everything you know about your customers. It’ll help you create better campaigns if you’re seeing your offerings from their perspective.

Who are they? What would they type into the Google search box to if they were looking for products like yours? Where do they live?

2. Draw up a list of keywords related to your business and products

Make a list of the search terms you’d expect your customers to use to find your products. These are your keywords.

Don’t be too general in your choice. A one-word term is usually expensive for a click because it’s so generic and popular, and you can end up paying for traffic that’s looking for something you may not stock.

Aim for keywords of two or three words, and include brand names, colours, and your location. A jewellery store keyword list might include high-level keywords like “gold jewellery”, as well as more specific categories like “gold and diamond wedding rings”. As a rule, the more specific the keywords, the closer the visitor is likely to be to buying as they’ve already narrowed down their choices.

Your web analytics software might give you some insights into the terms people are already using to find your web pages. This is not as easy as it was though, as the most common web analytics tool, Google Analytics, has stopped sharing that information. Grrr.

3. Set up your AdWords account

Now you’ve done your homework, head over to https://adwords.google.com and follow the instructions to set up your AdWords account.

If you’ve already got a Google account (like Gmail), you can use that email address and password to sign in. You can also create a separate account if you’d prefer to keep your business and personal activities separate.

4. Set up your first AdWords campaign

Once you’ve signed up and verified your email, you’ll be taken to the “Your first campaign” page.

It’s important to know your goal for the campaign before you start so you can tell if it’s effective. Generating sales is probably the main goal for an online store, but you can use AdWords to bring in just leads or traffic too.

Each AdWords campaign has its own settings that let you define the budget and where want your ads to appear. These settings will apply to all ads within the same campaign.

It’s very easy to set up a campaign – just fill in the fields displayed:

Set-up-campaign-AdWords

Your budget – this is the most you’re willing to pay per day for traffic to the ads in this campaign. You can change it at any time if you find you’re not getting the results you want.

Locations – these are the geographical places where you want your ads to display.

Networks – these are the online networks where you want your ads to show; Search Network is the default but you can also choose Display Network to have your ad show on Google partner websites too.

Keywords – This is where you list the keywords you want to use to bring traffic to your ads. This field will be pre-filled with suggestions and their approximate search volumes but you can delete the ones you don’t want and add your own. Don’t go mad here, use around 10-20 keywords per campaign to keep it manageable.

Bid – this is the most you want to pay for a click on your ad. You can set your bids for a click manually, or let AdWords do it. When you’re starting out, it may be easier to let AdWords do it for you. If you choose the manual option, enter a default bid as well. This will be the most you want to pay for a click.

Write your ad – this is where you put together your AdWords text ad. There are other types of ad you can make but this is the easiest and most popular.

  • Landing page: this is the actual web page the visitor will land on when they click the ad.
  • Headline: 25 character limit. The headline should be highly relevant to the search query you’re expecting for this ad.
  • Line 1: 35 character limit. Mention your unique value or problem you solve here.
  • Line 2: 35 characters. Continue, and add a call to action here to encourage a click.

Here’s an example of one of our Spiffy Stores text ads.

spiffy-adwords-ad

A word about: relevance

Relevance is the currency of search. It’s the most important aspect of your ads. Clear, persuasive ad text, that’s highly relevant to your keywords and the content of the page it leads to, will get better results. And as AdWords uses both quality (relevance) and bid ($) to determine your ad’s position, you can get a higher position, sometimes at a lower price, with highly relevant keywords and ads.

5. Complete your payment details

As this is your first AdWords campaign, you’ll need to fill out your payment information. Then, once your ad is approved (yes, it has to go through Google’s approval scheme), it will be active. You can ‘deactivate’ it by pausing the ad and it won’t show up in search results.

6. Keep an eye on your AdWords results

AdWords is not a set and forget exercise.

To get the most out of it and not waste money, you’ll need to keep coming back to analyse the results and make any changes that will improve your ads performance. More on how to do that later.

In the second post in this series, we’ll look into some of the ways you can optimise your ad. Stay tuned!

Getting to know your customers

getting-to-Know-Your-CustomersWe love adding new stuff to Spiffy Stores, and we’re pleased to announce that we’ve just finished putting the final polish on a brand new feature.

When you manage your online store, there’s obviously lots to think about in terms of products, inventory, prices and shipping. But until now, there’s been an important part missing from this equation – your customers!

As ever, we’re anxious to make sure we’re providing you with the very best tools and support to help you run your ecommerce venture successfully and to make lots of money, so we’ve done something about this. From today, you’ll see a new tab in your Spiffy Stores Toolbox, right next to your ‘orders’, called ‘customers’.

Click on this and you’ll be taken to an overview list of all your customers and you’ll see options to sort and filter your customer list, so that you can easily see who’s ordered what, how much they’ve spent and where they are located. Add to this our fantastic new custom search filters that let you create and save your own searches, and you’ll soon see these as an indispensable part of your marketing armoury.

There’s much more detail about this new feature in our Knowledge Base at http://www.spiffystores.com/kb/Information_about_your_customers  so we recommend you have a quick look at the documentation to see how this can help you better understand your customers.

But wait, there’s more! This is just phase 1 in our rollout of our new customer-related features. Be on the lookout for some exciting new additions to your Spiffy Store in the coming months.

Why the new iPhone 5s is great news for your online store

taking iphone photosReaders of this blog will know I’m a huge fan of taking photos with my iPhone.

I mean, why bother with the expense of a separate camera when an iPhone takes great hi-resolution images with ease, and apps like Instagram make me look like a ruddy photo rockstar.

I’ve even written posts showing how you can use a smartphone to take top quality product shots and how to give extra punch to a photo with Instagram.

Why?

Because detailed, hi-resolution photography is key to the success of your online store.

The world just can’t get enough of big, juicy images busting with personality and detail and it’s especially important in e-commerce. Your store could thrive or die on the quality of your product photos, which is why the iPhone 5s camera upgrades are a blessing for online retailers.

The new 5s still has the 8 megapixel camera I know and love, but they’ve improved the lens so you get better results in low light conditions. There’s a new flash that adjusts colour and brightness, and two new shooting features; a burst mode that takes 10 frames per second, and a slow-mo video that shoots 120 frames per second.

Combine all that with the powerful photography software coming out in the new operating system iOS7 and you’ve got a professional photo studio that fits in your pocket.

Imagine how great your product photos would look if you took them with this baby. Actually, you don’t need to imagine – here’s a few examples.

Don’t say I didn’t let you know.

Photo credit: Barry Pousman via Flickr

Why you and your store should be on Google+

why-you-and-your-store-should-be-on-Google-plusI know what you’re thinking… “Oh no, not another social network!” But if you want to improve your online store’s search rankings and be seen by more people, hear me out.

Whether you are a fan of social media or not, social networks and the endless chatter they support are increasingly important to the growth of your business.

Word of mouth has always been the most effective form of advertising. People tend to buy from those they like and trust and social media is a great way to build a relationship with your prospective customers.

Not only that, but Google, the king of all search engines, has recently focused on social signals in its search algorithms. This means the more people are talking about you and sharing your content, the better your search ranking is likely to be. Shares, likes, comments or +1s of your posts act like recommendations and boost SEO.

Google+ has chalked up more than 400 million users and is now one of the top six social networks in the world. It’s fast becoming recognised as the place to connect with like-minded businesses and people you may not already know (you’re not meant to connect with people you don’t already know on LinkedIn).

More importantly, Google+ is owned by the world’s most popular search engine. Let me say that once more for effect. Google+ is owned by the world’s most popular search engine. Posts, articles, pictures and links on a Google+ page are favoured in Google’s organic search results and status updates are indexed immediately, meaning they will show up in relevant searches right away.

By keeping your Google+ page up to date and interacting through it, you have more chances of being found online. Do you like the sound of that?!

If you’re keen to put your business on Google+, you’ll first need your own Google+ page. If you don’t have one already, set up an account here.

Before you create your business page, have the following to hand: a catchy tag line, a concise introduction that includes links to your website, your logo at 250 x 250 pixels in size, a hi resolution photo that represents your business and URLS of your other social media accounts.

Once you’re set up, search for people and companies to add to your ‘circles’. Look for those who would have something in common with your line of business.

Above all, post regular content, share your ideas, photos and video, and most of all, share other people’s stuff. Think wider than just your niche – build a personality for your brand and have fun!

Click here for the official step-by-step guide to setting up a business page on Google+.

5 common mistakes online store owners make

5-mistakes-online-store-owners-makeThere’s a lot to learn about running your own ecommerce website and making money online. Make sure you’re not making some of these common mistakes!

Lack of quality customer service

Customer service is excellent ‘free’ marketing. Whether it’s a friendly voice, a helpful email or extra unexpected value, a great customer service experience can encourage visitors to buy from you above others. It can also promote your business when customers who have been impressed tell others how good it was!

If your business has a presence on social media like facebook and twitter, you are highly likely to get queries and complaints through those accounts. Respond quickly and appropriately, taking the conversation out of the public domain and on to email or the phone if you can.

Substandard product descriptions and images

This subject is key to selling online so I’ve already devoted posts to writing better product descriptions and taking quality product photos. You’re unlikely to sell much if your store visitors can’t see your products properly or are unimpressed with your lack-luster description. Take the time to make sure they don’t need to look elsewhere for inspiration.

Trying to compete only on price

Undercutting the competition through cost alone is a dubious tactic. You devalue your product and sooner or later, you are likely to be undercut too and the only way to go is down. Bang go your profits. It’s more effective to find your unique selling proposition and add value to your products or service. You’re more inclined to attract loyal customers too.

Not having a blog

A blog is another great selling tool that has become an important factor in search engine ranking recently. Yes, it can be hard to keep it up, but it’s worth the effort! It will help drive traffic to your online store, build trust in your brand and give your business a human voice. Use the blog built into every Spiffy Store, and create your own blog.

Lack of shipping information

This is a real turn off for a prospective customer. If I’m ready to buy right now, I don’t want to be hunting around, trying to figure out how much it will cost to get my purchase to me. Dedicate a page to your shipping policy, and link to it from your shopping cart page.  Use the built-in shipping calculators, as they will let people know how long they will need to wait to receive their goods. In your Spiffy Store, set up the shipping and handling section thoroughly.

Cover off these basics and you will be on your way to giving your customers a better experience in no time!

Related articles

E-commerce secrets: What are you really selling?

what-are-you-really-selling-blogWhat are you selling through your online store? Stationery? Clothing? Art?

Think again. In your customers’ eyes, you’re providing a solution to fill a need, and to feed an emotion.

You’re not selling sweaters, you’re providing warmth and comfort, style, and protection from the cold.

You’re not selling quality wallpaper, you’re bringing beauty to a boring wall, allowing someone to express themselves and helping them create a home.

The key to creating compelling and engaging copy is to understand the problems your product solves and to tap into the emotional connections to it.

When you develop your brand and write content for your online store, don’t think in terms of selling goods. Think about solutions to problems, that’s what you’re really selling.

Want to learn more? My next post is all about nailing those fiddly product descriptions.

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How to write a press release

newspaper-dress

Have you just set up an online store? Or do you have some great news about your business that just begs for a wider audience? Then how about sending out a press release!

Press releases were originally written for journalists, to get them to write about your news in the popular press. But since the advent of easy online PR distribution channels, the humble press release now has a wider audience and can drive traffic to your retail website.

It’s not difficult to write a press release, but they do have a specific layout, tone and written content, so here’s how to
go about it…

Continue reading