Deciding exactly what to do with your business’ online marketing can be a real challenge. Let’s say, for example, that your website gets plenty of traffic but you don’t think it’s bringing in as many customers as it should. The site is informative and it looks nice — hey, there’s even a call-to-action featured prominently on the home page — but only a tiny fraction of your site visitors are following through by submitting a contact form or sending in an email. A junior rocket scientist on your staff suggests that maybe something on the site should be changed to drive more conversions. All you have to do is figure out what sort of change will deliver the higher conversion rate your business needs. […]

After putting in place a well-developed marketing plan and generating traffic to your landing page or website, the next step is to turn your online prospects into customers. Improving your online conversion rate is a two-part process.

Improve targeted traffic

Before you make changes to the conversion tools on your website or landing page, it’s important to improve the quality and/or relevance of your in-bound traffic. Attracting the right people to your website is critical to increasing conversions at a lower cost. Begin by evaluating your lead sources and determine the alignment of your prospects with your product. […]

When you launch a new E-commerce web site above all else there is one thing you need to be ready to face: Customers.

That might sound like a “Duh-uh” comment, but not every E-commerce operator is as prepared as they should be when their new store goes online and the first order (or ten or fifty orders) appears in their control panel. Turning those early orders into happy customers sometimes proves an unexpected challenge for even experienced retail business people. […]

What would you do if the computer system storing your customer records or sales information suffered a hard drive failure or other catastrophic event that caused it to lose all of its stored data? Would your business be able to continue operating? Could you continue to market, advertise and fulfill orders?

With the growing value of data as a money-making asset, today’s businesses must face the challenge of protecting and maintaining their important information in the most efficient, cost-effective manner possible. To meet this challenge, business owners need to carefully define their business requirements and recovery objectives and then decide on the right backup and recovery technologies to deploy. […]

One of the big advantages to a stand-alone E-commerce solution is that a skilled developer can completely customize both the design and the programming to suit your specific business requirements. No two businesses are run exactly the same way. This means that they frequently have demands that simply can’t be satisfied within the limits of a one-size-fits-all solution. An E-commerce project has the highest chance for success when it can be adapted to your existing business practices, instead of requiring that your business practices adapt to your web site.

With a stand-alone E-commerce web site you’re generally letting yourself in for more work. A LOT more work. That’s why stand-alone sites truly aren’t a suitable solution for every small business. If you plan a very small online inventory and can be satisfied with minimal-to-basic marketing tools, then a hosted solution may be the best route to take. […]

The beginning of a new year is always a good time to devote a little bit of thought to how you want to improve your business and productivity technology in the months ahead. You don’t really need to come up with a set of Technology New Year’s Resolutions, mainly because resolutions are, by rule, made to be broken. But wouldn’t it help to have a simple plan for making a few improvements or easy changes that can lead to safer, more productive computing for your business in 2013?

I don’t mean major tech projects like installing a new office network or buying a fleet of new desktops for the staff. Budget-intensive initiatives like those need to be part of your fiscal planning process. There are plenty of inexpensive — even free — things that you can do within your existing infrastructure to improve the impact of technology on your business’ bottom line. Here are a couple of examples. […]

When a small business owner makes the decision to enter into the world of E-commerce, the first decision that confronts them is usually whether they need to build a stand-alone E-commerce web site or sign-on with a hosted application provider like Magento or BigCommerce.

Each approach has its advantages and disadvantages. What the small business owner has to decide is which method of online selling will provide the most value and return on investment. Today I’ll take a closer look at the plus and minus columns for online storefronts based on hosted applications. […]

Translating your E-commerce idea from concept into reality requires an investment of time, money and resource. For the small-business entrepreneur, a first-time E-commerce project can generate a few unpleasant budget surprises.

Some of your project’s budget elements may be self-evident, but a few are less obvious. An experienced and reputable E-commerce developer should work through a complete ‘first year’ budget with you before your project begins. In addition to the one-time development costs associated with getting your site built, tested and functioning properly there are continuing costs that should figure into your long-term calculations of profitability. […]

Soon after you decide to add E-commerce to your small business, you may find yourself suffering from a touch of sensory overload. There are a lot of E-commerce engines, shopping cart systems and hosted storefronts vying for your attention. How do you sort through all of that to find the solution that best suits your business?

Finding the best solution is largely a matter of asking the right questions. Today I’m going to arm you with a few good questions – along with some related ‘thinking points’ – that should help you sort through all of the information and make the best possible decision. Here are five key considerations: […]

Just to prove that no aspect of online technology can sit still for any longer than a 7-year-old, last week Google launched an updated version of what it previously called its “Rich Snippet Test Tool”. As part of the deal, it’s gotten a new name — the Structured Data Testing Tool . The page is a great deal more sparse than the previous version because all of the help content has been moved to a separate page.

The testing tool continues to support markup for rich snippet search results, but now pulls out authorship markup elements as well. Note that authorship markup is a separate element from a web article’s provenance, or creative history. Establishing and maintaining a web pages’ provenance is still a hot topic amongst semantics experts, hopefully to be resolved at some point in the future. […]

Over the past couple of months, I’ve written several posts about structured data markup and the increasing importance of building machine-readable context and descriptions into content that’s created for the web. Structured data is already used by the major search engines to provide enhanced search result listings, and it’s also used by mobile search providers to produce more accurate local search results.

The trouble is that the world of structured data isn’t all nice, neat and orderly. There’s no single standard “how to” on using structured data markup. The W3C — the organization that develops and manages most of the web’s open standards — recommends two different structured data specifications. The Resource Description Framework in Attributes (RDFa) was developed over a period of years by a W3C working group. The Microdata specification was promoted primarily by the major search players (Google, Yahoo and Bing), and then taken on by another W3C working group in a sort of shotgun wedding. […]