|What do you do when your market dries up?|
In the last 4-6 weeks, sales have fallen to practically nothing. I have a pretty good idea as to what's happened in my niche, but I don't know what to do about it.
I'm spending money on Adwords, Bing and Yahoo ads, but it's just throwing money away. I haven't had a single conversion from any of them in a month.
I'd be better off stopping advertising, shutting down a couple of things I have to pay for, and just keep the site running until the market picks up again. I have no idea what else to do.
At the beginning of this month switched from a small online store on my 9 year-old site to a much bigger online store on a new site. All of the old site's product pages redirect to the new site, and "Online Store" buttons link to the new site as well. The timing of the launch of the new site wasn't good.
What do you do in these kinds of situations?
I'd certainly want to identify whether it's the market that's gone, and why, or if it's other factors, such as the site itself.
How are your competitors doing? Have they swept up all the business, or are they, too, struggling?
How has the market changed? Does it require additional items? For example, I was looking to buy a specific product for a project I was working on. I found a supplier, but, they, unlike their competitors, didn't have some of the other parts for the project. The site that supplied the associated products got my business.
Ad click from ads don't always mean an immediate sale, or a sale at all, but if you're not getting sales, it's very tempting to stop it.
like engine, i'd have a bunch of questions...
hire a expert to review things, your site change means there are many things that could have gone wrong.
finding one that does short term work, a huge challenge - talk to Google, they might give you an Analytics analyst to review things.
you changed the domain name and website for the store. old web location to new web location.
how has traffic to the store changed?
I think I recall you hinting what niche you're in before, but could you maybe put a URL in your profile or PM it to me?
I have taken a decent hit this year as well. I do some gov sales. Last couple months were miserable, but things are doing pretty well now. But this is the first year I will probably be going down in gross, rather than up.
Seems suspicious that you have issues after a big switch though. That's why i have been leery to mess with my site lately. I am not an SEO expert, so it is dangerous for me to mess with something if it isn't broken.
How sure are you the market will rebound and what assurances do you have to believe this?
Having a bit of prior knowledge about your market, I believe the profitable days of yore are gone. It may rebound but it will surely be different then a year ago. My line of thinking is to find out what the soothsayers in your industry are predicting the industry will look like in a year or two and prepare for that instead. Look backward is a fools foley. Look forward to what it could become.
I'll paint the picture for you. You know the public issues/concerns and you know the legislative pressures. Sooner or later these will forge change. The question is, what will that change look like. Your job is to figure this out and position yourself to capitalize on it. Yes, it's a risk. But that's why research and a lot of conversation with the right people can make the difference.
Thanks for the replies. I don't have contact with online retailers in my niche, only brick and mortar. Some are saying sales are good, others are saying sales are terrible. Nobody is saying that sales are anywhere near as good as earlier this year.
On the original site, there was an "Online Store" button on every page. A lot of visitors came through that way. The online store was a small portion of the whole site.
The Online Store button now goes to the new site, Under the navigation banner it says "Formerly OldSite.com Online Store". I don't know if that's enough to clear up any confusion or not as far as people expecting the old store.
Traffic to the old site is still about the same.
I have never, ever had any luck with Adwords, or Bing/Yahoo advertising. The best I've done is break even on the cost of the advertising versus the profits from the sales. The last thirty days I've spent hundreds of dollars with no conversions. But I"m not getting enough clicks to even burn up my daily budget. That's why I think it's the market and not necessarily my site.
Everyone who's looked at my site and who knows the old one says the new one is a gazillion times better. Some say it's the best looking site in my niche. It functions as it should.
I'm really reaching the point of throwing in the towel and doing something else. If a great-looking site, rave reviews about my service, and prices on most things that my competitors can't touch don't do the trick, I really don't know what will.
Hmm... Well, I am by no means an expert on the niche. But, it seems to me like there will always be some sort of products that people will want. Sure, maybe some of the stuff will be banned, but I don't see how they can kill the whole niche off. Maybe just move more into accessories that have less issues. Is there a way to go after more gov sales?
Maybe having the directory for stores is counter productive? Obliviously you want people to come to you, not other places. Maybe just have that address go straight to your store and forget the directory?
Also... I would make the biz as personalized as possible. Let them know all about you. Maybe start doing articles, or if you can't... then hire some ambitious people to do it for you. Lots of people will do that just for the fun. Go after some trainers or people that will give you some clout. Instructional videos? People have good success with these types of tactics now days. Give people more reasons to go to the site than just selling stuff. To me, that is really the key to standing out.
It may just be that it's a ridiculously slow period. But if the site is technically new, that might also be part of the problem. Even if people that used you in the past click through, then they might still be put off, because they don't know if it's the same people or what. You're probably going to have to work at improving SEO, but I would also work the old-fashioned way, and go out there on forums and other places, and get the word out. Sometimes you can slide by with putting a link in your sig on some forums, and they won't stop you. I do this, and then I tend to answer questions from newbies that nobody else wants to bother with. It gets me in on good terms and then it seems less like I'm just a shark hunting for sales. I think the more you can do to make contact with people on a personal level, the better. And yes, unless you can throw tons of money and compete with the big boys... if you see no advantage to the ads, then drop them. Personally, I just don't think they work for the small guys anymore. You could probably make more sales with just a couple strategic posts on some forums. I get traffic daily from some posts I made years ago. It's like you're letting somebody else do your SEO for you for free.
Technically the site looks fine to me. But as I said, I just think it's a bit cookie cutter right now. It needs to have some human touches added. Also, I guess it's too late, but I might have gone with a domain that's a more generic name, which could have potentially left it more open ended for other types of products.
I tend to be in a similar predicament. Technology is changing in my field and many things are going the way of film cameras. But I think if you can be one of the last guys standing, then there will always be something left. The trick is lasting that long.
Thanks for the reply, Dpd1. I'm not sure where to start.
I'm keeping the directory site for the retail stores because it provides an established site with good traffic to use for a portal to the new site. If someone is looking at a brick and mortar store, I don't think they're looking to buy online. I also get advertising for free. ;)
I tried putting a how-to video on the old site a couple of years ago. Its a very good video, with lots of information, but it was a complete flop. Maybe I could try some other ideas.
I hang out on niche-related forums already. Have been since about 1990. I think I've pushed my old site as much as I could. I don't know that I can push the new one beyond links in my sig line, and shill accounts I can use to post links to my site ("somesite.com has a really good deal on the XYZ widget.")
I'm going to do an email to customers on my list from the old site, and offer them a credit equal to 5% of the amount of the sale to any new customer they refer. Since my products run from $1.50 up to $1600, with the more expensive stuff being the most popular, they stand to rack up some pretty serious credits to use when they want to buy.
I'm also pushing on Facebook, and will be offering a drawing for $100 gift certificates for sharing the link to my site.
Maybe you're right about Google and Bing/Yahoo. It's just been money down the drain for years. When they assign a rep to help me, all the rep does is suggest new keywords to get more clicks. Nothing about getting more conversions.
The lack of sales I believe is in part because it's a brand-new site, and because people in my niche went on a panic buying binge early this year. The sales in the niche set a record in the history of the world for the most widgets sold in the period December through June. If the site had been live then as it was supposed to be... Now people are loaded up and don't need stuff.
That was one reason I launched the new site. The old site had about 250 sku's. The new one has nearly 6,000. I figure just by simple math I should get more sales, all other things being equal, even if people are buying less.
I have no reason why, but in my experience if we make even the slightest functionality change to our website, our sales seem to dry considerably immediately and then pickup within a few days/weeks (actually I know a reason why- people are unfamiliar with our site but bookmark it to possibly buy later and get spooked by the change). The same might be happening with your new and improved site.
Be careful about pausing any advertising completely. If you're operating in a cyclical or seasonal industry, people may be window shopping but not quite in a position to buy yet and you'll be losing sales down the road.
More SKUs can be dangerous. It's easy to assume 1000 skus should make 10x more profit than 100 skus (and if not 10x at least 5x!). A well curated site can be a great competitive advantage. And after all, there's a reasonw why supermarkets don't offer 20 different brands of ketchups.
Yeah, seems to me like your crowd sort of... shot their load early on (no pun), and are now burnt out for a while. I also have a theory that, people are now finally spending big money on stuff that they put off for years. ie: car sales have been huge. So the hobby type stuff might be taking a back seat for a while.
I don't know where your video was hosted, but try a youtube channel. If you make up some good content, that seems to work really well for people.
But overall I think your site is good. Makes me realize mine is painfully old actually.
Thanks for the replies. I'll try to be patient and just concentrate on attracting customers (all the while bleeding money).
I couldn't keep the online store on the old site. Having an online store selling niche items and also having a directory of paid ads fpr brick and mortar stores selling the same niche products isn't the best combination. Some retailers get mad. Google also didn't seem to like it.
I'm pleased with the design and the function of the site, although I paid $8000 to a crook who designed the site and left me to fix things that didn't work after he got paid.
I know that people were maxing out their credit cards earlier this year, buying stuff they thought was going to be banned. (Interesting that they'd buy stuff they thought would be banned. They obviously had no intention of turning the stuff in.) Now they're broke.
I guess I just need to wait for the seasonal sales bump.
Oh yeah, nobody is going to give back anything. lol Every time this debate comes up in society I sort of shake my head, because it seems pointless to argue about. In my mind, you can't put the toothpaste back in the tube. But obviously many people don't see it that way.
dickbaker is this the same site u posted in the review section?
Yes, bwnbwn. I let my support subscription lapse, so it's not there now (I don't think).
I stopped Google and Bing/Yahoo advertising, as they were bringing nothing. I started advertising on Facebook, and it's doing pretty well. Nobody's buying the high end stuff yet, as I think they're testing the site to see if it's legit.
Who would have thought that a social media site dominated by photos of topless women and political tirades would do a better job of attracting customers than Adwords? ;)
I'm hoping that with enough push, the site can hold its own until the market comes back.
Wondering were u went. Were you able to before the subscription lapse see the comments?
BTW it ain't the market it is stronger than ever. I wonder if.
People that are buying the products you sell are getting paronid and don't want any foot prints online sales leave.
The products I sell aren't the ones that would be banned, but a ban is never going to happen while this is a free republic. People are just paranoid.
But, no, I didn't get to see the comments. I have to sign up again. Are they still there?
Yes they are.
Just an update on my complaining. ;)
Sales are still terrible. I know from talking to other retailers in my niche that pretty much everyone is slow. Add in the fact that I have a new site, and there's cause for no business.
My profits for the month so far are 40% of last year.
It turns out that Facebook, at least the way I'm doing it, is a waste of money. I had a couple of conversions, but that was it. I get plenty of people "liking" my ads, but nobody buying. If Facebook isn't just a social site, but is a good advertising venue, too, I'm not seeing it.
I'm running sales on things where I'm selling $400 or higher items with just $10 profit for myself, just to get people comfortable with the new site. They're all over those deals, but anything reasonably priced isn't selling.
There's a site in my niche where people post deals that they find. Retailers can advertise on there, but what they advertise has to be real deals. So I've taken some very popular items that range from $300 up to $1600, and I've offered coupons. After the coupon discount, the price is far below what any other retailer can do. I'm hardly making anything. Some stuff sells, but there's always somebody who names a guy who sells from his basement on weekends for $5 over cost on a $1600 item.
I really don't know what else to do or where else to advertise.
Come back to normal Price Levels.
In some niches it is that something that doesn't cost anything, is not worth anything.
Did you try Advertising on other 'social' sites? Linkedin Comes to mind.
You said that AdWords, Bing etc were a waste of money.
Please tell us more about the kinds of ads and campaigns you have run, and what tweaks you have tried for fine-tuning them.
|Come back to normal Price Levels. |
In some niches it is that something that doesn't cost anything, is not worth anything.
Did you try Advertising on other 'social' sites? Linkedin Comes to mind.
My niche has pretty much two types of players: the big online retailers who charge full tilt, and the smaller retailers who compete on price. If I raise prices by $10 or $20 on some $200 to $400 items, I lose out to other smaller retailers.
For several years I had to attend traveling public "shows" in my niche, where independent dealers sell to the public. One dealer liked to goof on people He put a length of clothesline across his table, and had clipped to it several brand new crisp $1 bills. He put a sticker on each one for 95 cents. He had several people ask what was wrong with them. Some people offered him 75 or 80 cents. They were serious. That's the mindset. I've lost out on sales because of $5 on a $200 to $500 item, even though I have five-star ratings and the other retailer didn't.
As for the types of ads, I've run ads promoting a particular brand (Acme Widgets--all models in stock--low prices, 2-3 day shipping), or targeting individual models (Acme Model XYZ. $1199.95 with free shipping--in your hands in 3 days). I've touted the five-star service, etc. I don't think I missed anything, but I never know. I look at what the competition does, and try what they're doing, too.
Part of the reason for the failure of advertising in the past was that my site didn't look polished enough. I didn't have a name, and I don't think the site met the required comfort level. I've had a ton of compliments on my new site, with people saying they think it's the best-looking site in my niche. I know it's going to take awhile to get known, but I wasn't expecting things to be this bad.
I assume you've done direct email to past customers? Personally, I have serious doubts about most paid advertising these days, when it comes to the little guys. It just seems like it takes outrageous amounts of money to make anything happen, and I think the public has become so accustom to ignoring ads, it's really like beating a dead horse. I'm sure it works for some people, but I don't know how. Could you maybe pay somebody who really knows what they're doing, to boost your SEO?
I still think a good heavy youtube campaign of instructional/promo vids could do wonders. There's a guitar store I've bought stuff from that does all kinds of vids. Works well for them. I would also look into creating your own product line... Nothing gets you out of the rat race better than having stuff nobody else has.
When I opened the new site, I sent an email to customers on the email list for the old site to let them know about it. I made them a special offer. If they referred a friend to the new site, they would get a credit of 5% of that friend's purchase, which they could then apply to their next purchase. There was no limit on the number of credits, so somebody with a lot of friends could get a pretty good discount. Nobody took me up on the offer.
Maybe 5% didn't seem like much, but it's half my profit.
I'm constantly brainstorming new product ideas, but can't come up with something that hasn't already been done a zillion times.
Knowing what I know about your niche customers, dickbaker, I would think that if they were taken to a new site with tons of products after they were used to being taken to your old site with not very many, that they would be afraid to buy anything and would think it was some kind of gubmint trap. That said, I have seen a drop in my income this year for the first time in 13 years. A friend with a huge store in my niche has seen 1/3 drop in his biz since spring. He has had an online shop as long as I have and it is actually much more sophisticated than mine and sells thousands of items vs. my hundreds. People are scared, and our gubmint is making them even more so with all these shut down the gubmint this, fiscal cliff that, end of Social Security, the sky is falling stuff. And there is more than that. There is the reality that great gobs of skilled people have been unemployed for more than two years and are no longer even being counted as unemployed. I know a number of them. My sense is they are not going to be getting a job, basically ever. Not because they are no good, but because of the gradual collapse of our economy. There, I said it. And the fact is that people without jobs can't buy stuff. I have noticed in my own shop that whereas in the past I had a lot of people buying $35 worth of stuff, now I have a lot of people buying $10 worth of stuff and some buying $200 worth of stuff. So there is a real spread in the amount of a sale that didn't exist before. My average sale has gone up only because I have, no evil eye, been getting very large sales from people obviously so far unaffected by the SHTF.
I think the idea of making yourself more of a presence as a person would help a lot. IMO, that is what Facebook is for. I don't buy ads on there, but I post regularly with photos both on my biz page and on my personal page. I do talk about new products some but I am there to make myself human. I can't quantify how much it has helped, but I now have a lot more contact with my customers and that has brought me some really big sales and special projects. I see people only there posting just stuff about their products and it looks like spam. But people who post about their biz as a part of their life and their life as part of the niche--to me, this cannot help but inculcate trust. And when people are soaked in fear, they need to trust us for us to survive. I think the idea about doing youtube videos is a good one. Also, what about making an ebook of the info on your site?
Hey my success story,
I set up a tablet sales site selling china version android tablets, like you said adwords cost me way to much, I managed to make some sales through free ad listing sites such as usfreeads,
but then i spoke to someone who also sells online and mentioned they have used leaflet distribution for there sales, so i looked into it myself and released how efficient it can be, its fairly cheap and works i have tested this,
I run adwords for 6 months and spent just under £20K!
I purchased 120,000 Leaflet distribution for £4200 over a 6 month period,
The results we're very surprising, My Google campaign brought in £27,500 oh which £7,500 Was profit,
The leaflets that were distributed worked so well! I made over £32,000 <-- That is MORE Then google's profit and even better it cost me less to get!
I used <snip> The staff are very nice and helped me design a really cool leaflet with some social icons on for maximum effect!
[edited by: buckworks at 7:48 pm (utc) on Dec 10, 2013]
[edit reason] Removed link drop [/edit]