1. Set Google news alerts for your industry’s news
Go to www.google.com/alerts
Type in the first box the news that you want to receive (i.e. Online Fashion News). Then select the result type, how often you want to receive an email update, and how many results. Then in the second box enter your email address.
It doesn’t have to be a Gmail email address. Click the red box ‘CREATE ALERT’ and it will set up the news alert so that it emails you news for the topic you have entered. To do this for multiple topics simply click on the ‘Return to Google Alerts’ link and enter in a new topic.
2. Set a routine to email your abandoned shopping carts
One study revealed that 67.75% of all shopping carts are abandoned (http://conversionxl.com/shopping-cart-abandonment-how-to-recover-baskets-of-money/#.). So of the customers you get to your site initially, then those who add things to a cart, almost 70% leave the page before purchasing. It is evidently worthwhile to send through a reminder to customers to encourage them to fulfil the purchase. Whether they left by mistake, ran out of time, couldn’t be bothered or decided they didn’t want the product, you should aim to reduce the number of people leaving your site.
It is worth even looking at what distractions there are on your check-out page. Are there unnecessary links which will draw people to other areas of your site whilst they are attempting to complete a transaction? Make it as simple and easy for customers to make a purchase.
An example of an abandoned shopping cart email from ProFlowers:
“10% off to Finish Your Order!
We noticed you were close to sending [product name], but didn’t! Maybe you didn’t notice weekday shipping costs less? Come back for a 10% Off discount plus a free glass vase with any flower order.”
Depending on your shopping cart platform you may be able to set up an automatic emailing system so that after a cart is abandoned the user is emailed within x amount of days. If you are using a shopping cart platform such as Shopify or BigCommerce this will either be part of the interface or an app will be available to integrate with your site.
3. Make a list of keywords
Make a list of keywords that correspond with your website and products or services for sale. Once you have a list of keywords and additional phrases you can use Google Keyword Planner (found in Google Adwords) to see what people are searching most for in Google. It will also tell you whether there is a lot of competition surrounding these words. To build your site’s SEO and ranking select words which have high search rates but low competition.
4. Set up FAQs page
This is something a large number of businesses forget to put on their websites. Add a touch of humour when writing it and check similar websites for ideas on which questions to include. Some examples are shipping costs, returns, sizing, international shipping, gift wrapping etc.
As the FAQ page is content, it will add to SEO so make sure to use good keywords when writing it. And do try and help your customers find the answer to their questions otherwise you’ll get an inbox full of questions which will take up your time.
5. Set a 404 page (error page)
Rather than have your customers quickly hit the back button when they hit a blank white page with “Error 404”, create a customised page which apologises and has a few links to redirect them to other areas of the site and even some contact info for the site administrator.
See if your website (either hosted or self-hosted) has an .htaaccess file. If you can’t find one it’s easy to create one. It’s worth calling your provider and asking them what the best way to do this is. Once you have the .htaccess file add ErrorDocument 404 http://www.domain.com/404page.html. This is where you put the entire URL (of your website) directed to your newly designed 404 Error page. Save it and if you found the .htaccess file in your shopping cart platform then it’s probably turned on. If not, to turn it on you need to telnet into the server and type in chmod644.htaccess when prompted.
Here is a kick-ass Error 404 page created by yours truly (Brown Paper):
If integrating with Bigcommerce try the following webpage for html for a 404 page http://storecoach.com/bigcommerce-tutorials/how-to-create-a-custom-404-error-page
6. Get a blog
It sounds so simple, yet you’d be surprised how many websites don’t have one. It is a great connection for strategic alliances with other sites, and a way to build a relationship with customers beyond the sale. You need to view relationships with customers as long term if you want to give your business a great chance at success.
The blog could either be closely aligned with your website or loosely attached, whichever you prefer and what you think suits your market demographic. For example, For a website selling maternity wear they might have an attached blog that has posts about breastfeeding and all different tips for new parents – an online community where they can ask questions and get advice. They’re going to be more likely to come to your website when they need it if there is helpful information as well as products on offer.
Another example is a website selling travel gear. They might have a blog which has lots of travel tips and which liaises with YHA and suggests backpacking hide outs and social nightlife in various places. Brainstorm for your website right now. Be imaginative and know your audience. Get them involved too, posting pictures or adding their own ideas/knowledge to a topic. It’s an online community not just an online shop.
7. Submit a sitemap to Google
A sitemap is a list containing the pages (i.e. About Us, FAQs, Contact Us) that people can access on your site. It is not for the customer to see but for Google (and other search engines) to categorise pages based on relevance to each search. It’s helpful as it puts you more on the radar of search engines so your website is more optimised for searches.
To set up a sitemap for your website (or blog) all you need to do is:
- Sign in to Google Webmaster Tools (it’s the same username and password as other Google sites, i.e. Gmail, Google+ or YouTube). https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/
- There is a box at the bottom where you enter your site:
A close up shot:
So once you have entered your website, hit the red button “ADD A SITE”.
You should then see the following page:
So either upload a HTML file to your site or else select one of the alternate methods (includes: sign in to your domain name provider; add a meta tag to the site’s homepage; use your Google Analytics account; use your Google Tags account.
I verified my website by signing in to my domain name provider. So I selected the domain provider from the drop down list and there are specific instructions on how to set it up.
Then hit the red button “VERIFY”.
If it has worked the following screen should appear (which brought a smile to my face):
Then click “Continue” and it will take you to your new site dashboard which will inform you of sitemap errors or viruses and search traffic stats.
8. Have you set up social media accounts and are there links on your website?
There are certain social media websites that you need to be a part of in order to get traction in the market. They are useful as a way of not only staying in contact with customers but also providing alternate routes of getting to your website or finding out about your product. This is especially crucial as you can reach people who aren’t specifically looking for your product.
There are the well-known social media sites which you should definitely consider getting if you don’t already have them:
The first three are essential as most people at least have an account with one if not all three. You can reach larger global audiences through these mediums than just classic Google search.
Applying for these accounts is as simple as going to the web page and following the steps to create a new account. From here you can enter in your business and website info as well as links for them to reach your website.
All the above social media sites are able to be integrated into your website so that icons or news feeds appear on your site. For example having a Facebook icon which when clicked either opens a new window which directs visitors to the Facebook page or which enables them to like your Facebook page. Or you could put a twitter feed on the side of your site so that visitors can see recent tweets and posts.
This allows people to circulate your products and also builds a network and relationship with visitors and customers. It is a great marketing and promotional strategy and you can integrate sales strategies and competitions into these social media channels.
Once you have social media accounts rather than posting individually on each channel, you can synchronise them so that if you post on Facebook it links to all the other pages (Twitter and Instagram etc.). This not only saves time but also ensures that all followers are up to date and informed of your latest news and deals.
One such program is called IFTTT (If This Then That). It is an app you can download (both for apple and android devices) and enables you to manage social networks easily.
9. Set up an autoresponder
Whether you are going on holidays, want to wish a customer happy birthday, want to send a welcome email to new subscribers; an autoresponder is the perfect companion.
Rather than type out individual emails to customers and spend excess time and effort, set up an autoresponder as it saves you the trouble. Type out a generic email and have it automatically send to the customer depending on the occasion.
There are many different ways you can go about this.
MailChimp is one of the largest and easiest email marketing programs so I’ll use them as an example. You can use MailChimp as an add-on to websites whether it’s hosted or self-hosted.
You’ll need a MailChimp account if you don’t already have one and it’s well worth getting as it covers all things to do with email marketing. Not only does it cover autoresponders but you can also use it to email out blog posts or e-newsletters to update customers regularly.
Go to www.mailchimp.com to register or sign in and then click on the “Autoresponder” tab. Then click on the button in the top right which says “Create Autoresponder” and follow the instructions and select the details of the autoresponder (i.e. content of email, which days to send it out, frequency etc.).
For more detailed information on this check out: http://kb.mailchimp.com/article/how-do-i-create-an-autoresponder