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After six months. what next?
Luxoria




msg:4340954
 8:34 pm on Jul 18, 2011 (gmt 0)

I launched my ecommerce site six months ago for products I manufacture myself and am trying to formulate a plan to take the store to the next level. (ie generating more sales) If you want to see my store I have a link in my forum profile.

Here's what I have done so far:


I the first six months I expanded to have three distinct products lines in the same general niche with a total of 119 offerings.

My store is SEO optimized (without it being to much so), has a decent checkout flow, a solid template, professional badges / seals, support information, a 1-800 number at the top, basically all the general tips and tricks for maximum conversion.

I've done white hat and some grey hat backlink building which has given the site a page rank of two. The site has a connecting facebook, twitter, tumblr, blog, and flikr.

The site has Facebook Like buttons and Google +1 as well as social networking/social bookmark widget.

Pictures are large, colorful, and numerous. And there is a technical description of the product below the general information.

Coupon codes have been made and submitted to the major coupon sites.

Product feeds are live for Google, Bing, TheFind.

Cheap banner ads have been used as well as $100 in adsense and $200 in bing. (free credits) I did not find these to be cost effective.

I also have my products up Etsy which generates sales about the same rate but is more expensive to list items and they take a small commission. (still worth it by far!)

_____

Without ads running I get about an average of 45 unique visitors a day with a conversion rate of about .5% I do get a few phone calls from time to time for custom made products.


What I know I can do:


Take contextual pictures of my products. (two prodcut lines have wonderful contextual pictures, but the other line looks bland)

Rewrite my descriptions now that I have six months experience watching used keywords.

Find a place to host a giveaway or a major coupon event. But I know better and I have no intention of grouponing myself to bankruptcy.

Since some of my products favor geeky type people (including myself) I've been trying to get a feature in a major blog. Also same thing goes for home decor blogs/sites as my products are wall art and sculptures.

_____


What else can I do?

I do realize my store will not be as successful some of the stores you all run, mostly because of my tight nichey product line, but I want to do the best I can. =)

 

CPC_Andrew




msg:4340959
 8:45 pm on Jul 18, 2011 (gmt 0)

Depending on your category, I'd try testing one of the paid shopping engines, such as Nextag, Shopping.com, Shopzilla, Amazon Product Ads, or Pricegrabber. The return is in general better than paid search. I'm happy to help if you have any questions about them.

dpd1




msg:4341023
 11:38 pm on Jul 18, 2011 (gmt 0)

Cool stuff... Art is such a tough field. I dabbled in it myself years ago, and was thoroughly disgusted with the results. It's one of those things where you look at stuff and go... 'OK, I think it's cool... they think it's cool... so why don't they buy more of it'?

It would be great to find that one way to sort of jump start it, and make it turn viral. Have you considered maybe aiming more towards sort of 'borrowing' on other more known brands? Like maybe doing something that sort of generically spoofs on some of the more popular video games or something? I'm thinking something to sort of draw people in, by working off the preexisting fame of something else somehow.

I was just thinking... have you thought about an ad in the back of a design mag, like Dwell or something like that? Seems like one of the few things where that kind of advertising might pay off... going after the people with expendable money, looking for knickknacks.

[edited by: dpd1 at 11:50 pm (utc) on Jul 18, 2011]

CPC_Andrew




msg:4341025
 11:50 pm on Jul 18, 2011 (gmt 0)

You could also try special deals and promotions to increase conversions or AOV. Not sure if you have that functionality.

Luxoria




msg:4341041
 1:10 am on Jul 19, 2011 (gmt 0)

The paid shopping engines I lightly looked into and it's about 35 to 50 cents per click. The nice thing is the customer can see the item before they waste my money and clicking blindly. However I was unable to find conversion or other data relating to these systems so I left it alone, but now I might invest and try it out. Good suggestion.

dpd1, your idea I play out on some my items, such as the mustache, the Man Cave sign, and the symbol for PI, all of which have been best sellers. A better example is a custom item for a client, it was space invaders! I think that's what your are getting at, take a very popular trend that has just broke out and make related items then advertise them before the market becomes flooded.

A smoking hot ad in the right magazine might just generate more business than I can handle, a problem I would like to have. The thing is, it's incredibly expensive for my current means, $4500 is the bare minimum for a full page ad in a national magazine. reference:http://www.webpagefx.com/blog/business-advice/the-cost-of-advertising-nationally-broken-down-by-medium/ So that's out for now.

dpd1




msg:4341052
 2:29 am on Jul 19, 2011 (gmt 0)

Oh yeah, I wouldn't go full page... take a look at Dwell, or some of the more modernist home mags. In the back you will find like, one 10th size ads for stuff like photography, tapestries and other wall decoration stuff. That would be a starting place to test the waters. I've noticed that most of the people with ads like that keep them in there, so it must work.

Luxoria




msg:4341060
 3:23 am on Jul 19, 2011 (gmt 0)

Good point, 10th size should not be too bad in price. I will give a check out in a few. thx

jecasc




msg:4341175
 11:12 am on Jul 19, 2011 (gmt 0)

I like the website and the products. Never seen anything like this before. I guess however that's part of the problem you are facing. Simply optimizing your website for "widget name" won't do the trick for you since very few people will actively search for it.

I guess you will have to market your products on a broader basis - "wall decoration", as "gift" and of course your themes.

You could for example use Adwords image ads and creaate banners and advertise animal themes on pet websites. Or your "grunge" themes on computer games clan websites.

I really think the way to go would be to advertise the themes to specific target groups.

Luxoria




msg:4341312
 5:32 pm on Jul 19, 2011 (gmt 0)

jecasc, I agree it's a problem I have, how to label the product and let people know it exists as a lighting/decor option. It's time to revamp my keyword usage and your suggestions are good. I try to track the keyword used on to find the site for each purchase but I am unable to find all but ~20% of those keywords. Then naturally I look at the general keywords, especially the ones generating lower bounce rates.

Precisely targeted ads is the way to go, I concur. I used projectwonderful for decently targeted and very cheap clicks. (USA traffic, and about 1 to 3 CPC) No sales even over a 500 clicks. But the sites do not quite fit the gist of the precision your suggestion.

A thanks goes to CPC_Andrew for sending me information on PPC shopping engines.

onlineleben




msg:4341357
 7:05 pm on Jul 19, 2011 (gmt 0)

wonderful site and lots of good suggestions here in ww on how to increase traffic and sales.
My observations:
- you have wonderful products and are able to write (as seen here on the forum). Why don't you have more text on your homepage?
- spelling is wrong for the word 'reflects' on the inner pages. No one will find you when searching for something reflecting off a wall.
- get testimonials, not just the customer gallery

Good luck

dpd1




msg:4341677
 12:49 pm on Jul 20, 2011 (gmt 0)

Just thought of one... Artistic versions of military unit patch emblems. You know, like... Ranger emblem, SEAL dolphins, air units... that type of thing. One guy gets it, his buddies see it... so on. Shouldn't be any problem with intellectual infringement, I don't think.

bwnbwn




msg:4341702
 1:43 pm on Jul 20, 2011 (gmt 0)

Luxoria I know this isn't a site review but in "trying" to move around the site I found it quite slow. It wasn't slow all the time but in spurts just hang up. I suspect your on a shared hosting account and the server gets bogged down from other sites eating up the available RAM. I would look at a possible update on the server as part of expanding to the next level. Also get the header fixed quit linking to your index.php page. As already said add more text, build more intresting articles, and lock up the duplicate url issue.

Luxoria




msg:4341849
 6:37 pm on Jul 20, 2011 (gmt 0)

onlineleben, Good question about the lack of text on the home pages. I tried to figure out how to add more text with out breaking the look and feel, but I was unable to do so. I will give it another try by adding perhaps basic descriptions of the various product lines below the picture sets. Thanks for the spelling check. Mostly the part about how the design works is for customer. There are reviews, only three ATM, but I agree I need more and have them prominently displayed.

dpd1, good idea, I have it in my R&D queue.

bwnbwn, Yes, currently the site is on a shared plan. Most the time it moves good, but I follow my pingdom reports and it gets slow for a week or so then speeds back up. I will look into the cost of bumping up to the next level of hosting tech.

I will remove the /index.php from the header link. The site generates canonical URLs for each page which helps with duplicate content. Creating interesting articles is intriguing, I do have a blog for such things, but the blog is it's infancy stage and not yet integrated into the main site. I am unsure the topics of such articles when it relates to my site, two quick ideas could be "the effects of lighting color on mood" and "why symbols have power".

Any suggestions for text on the front page would be great. As stated so far I am thinking a general description of protect line, with appropriate keywords included.

thanks everyone for the constructive feedback and ideas.

bwnbwn




msg:4341907
 7:57 pm on Jul 20, 2011 (gmt 0)

The site generates canonical URLs for each page which helps with duplicate content.
This has got to be fixed. You need to get a script written that all duplicate urls formed by the cart are 301'd to the correct page. This isn't as hard as it sounds and if u post an example I am sure you will get help to fix this.
make the url like this http://www.example.com/good/url.php but cart generates a url like this http://www.example.com?=id=123

This can be fixed just make sure you show us the exact duplicate url (after the .com/) you want 301'd. It would be great to show several so it makes it easier for the script to be correct.

Innovate




msg:4342247
 3:44 pm on Jul 21, 2011 (gmt 0)

All this stuff is nice, but what you need is more traffic. Buy classified ads in magazines that target your niche. It's inexpensive and if you word it correctly it should do well (over time). The tricky part is, what magazines target your niche?

Find niche ezines to advertise in, skip the banner ads because they are only good for branding. Once again- we are back to the niche thing. What type of people are going to buy this?

Do a little PR to see if you can get some bloggers talking about your site. If you are really struggling, then just pay for it.

A lot of that stuff looks like the stuff I saw in college in dorm rooms and apartments. Some of it is pricey, but college students may be an area to look into reaching.

Do you do wholesale? Is this something you could sell to stores who already have the customers looking for this? Or maybe you could work some sort of referral relationship out? Think outside the box, think offline.

Good luck.

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