Getting your new E-commerce store up and running is only half the fun. Once that’s done – then you’ve got to figure out how to efficiently run your store in order to maximize your bottom line.

Very little of it qualifies as rocket science. In fact, most of it is nothing more than running to ground a bunch of little issues – any one of which can cause endless headaches for your new enterprise. As with most things business, what you’ll soon discover is that the devil is in the details. […]

May 25, 2012

QR Codes with Style

We have all seen these new little bar codes invading all forms of printed and online marketing materials. QR (Quick Response) codes are a two dimensional bar code originally developed by Denso Wave (a subsidiary of Toyota) in 1994 to track vehicles during manufacturing. They can hold a relatively large amount of data and can be scanned at high speeds. In terms of practical marketing use, they have proven somewhat underwhelming in the United States, but I believe with a little style tweak via Adobe Photoshop, QR Codes can be a nice addition for re-enforcing your branding efforts. Keep in mind that 50.4% of the US population now has a QR Scanner in the form of a smartphone on them at all times (Source: http://blog.nielsen.com/nielsenwire/?p=31688). […]

In most of the website usability studies that I’ve read, poor legibility is by far the most frequent complaint encountered. It’s generally a sin of comission on the part of web designers, because web-safe typography by default is designed to be both legible and flexible.

A website gets into trouble when its design diverges from online typographic standards. Often, the issue begins with a site owner — or the site owner’s print marketing designer — who wants the fonts and styles on a website to mirror those the business uses elsewhere. While it may sound like a good theory from a branding perspective, it’s often a train wreck for usability. […]

If your website is built on a content management system (CMS), you’ve got a powerful tool in your hands. You can use your CMS to keep all of the information on your site up-to-date, provide fresh and engaging information to your site visitors and manage all of your site’s resources to maximize your search engine results. As with most tools, however, content management can be used for both good and evil. It’s the “evil” part you want to avoid.

Poor content management practices can kill your website’s search engine rankings in a short amount of time. Conversely, follow a few simple guidelines every time you post or edit content and you can improve your site’s search engine optimization. Use these recommendations as a sort of checklist to stay on the SEO straight-and-narrow: […]

Websites offer a seemingly endless amount of space for your content, especially compared to traditional media like print or broadcast. For a relatively small hosting fee, you can literally publish entire libraries of text. An average 500 MB hosting account has enough room for more than 150 copies of Leo Tolstoy’s “War and Peace,” 400 copies of Melville’s “Moby Dick” or 600 copies of James Fennimore Cooper’s “Last of the Mohicans.”

When you’re passionate about your business, the temptation is to use as much of that space as possible to share your enthusiasm and expertise with potential customers. But it’s all a trap, a painful deception. The truth of the matter is that your customers have a lot less time than you have space. […]

So you’ve decided you need a new website, or your existing website needs a facelift?  Not so fast!  Before you choose a website developer and spend your money on a new website, there are several things you need to consider carefully in order to get the most out of your investment.  And there are some details that if they aren’t taken care of BEFORE you start building that website, could doom you to failure.

Make sure you know the following, and can communicate the answers to your developer, to get the best possible results. […]

Apr 5, 2012

Google Hate Me

Running your own website and trying to get it to rank well in search results can be a frustrating experience. Even though you put a lot of time and effort into your site, and you think you’re following all the rules, you still feel like you’re walking around in a t-shirt silk-screened with “Google Hate Me” in 8-inch letters.

Google, like most other search engines, isn’t out to get you. But search engines are pretty picky about the quality of their search results. Some sites don’t rank well simply because of poor SEO practices. Other sites, however, may do a lot “right” with SEO and still not rank well because they also feature very big “wrongs” in other areas. […]

Does anybody remember 1-inch analog video tape? Back when I was a lad (which I’ll define here as “when I still had hair”), if you wanted to learn how to edit video, 1-inch video tape is what you worked with. A video editing console was as big as a Volkswagen, had knobs the size of baseballs and hummed along on a three-phase power supply that needed an air conditioning booster just to keep from igniting the fabric of your bell-bottom blue jeans.

Video technology has changed a lot over the years. One thing that hasn’t changed, however, is the essential grammar of visual communications. Just as every natural spoken and written language has a grammar — a set of structural rules that governs its composition — the international language of video has a “grammar” all its own. […]

As I’ve mentioned previously, the difference between a confusing visual mash-up and an online video that can help you sell often boils down to what happens after you shoot the video. Post-production — what you do with your video editing software — is where you assemble the whole project and get it ready to go in front of your potential customers.

You don’t need to develop professional-grade editing skills to produce a solid sales video. The basics of editing a sales video are straightforward — you just need to apply them consistently. Here are three important areas to focus on when you take your online sales video into post-production: […]

Now that you’ve had some success with the basics of making a video for your website (you are using my Tips for Online Video That Sells, right?), you’re no doubt impatient to absorb some additional pointers that will make your videos even more useful. You still won’t quite be ready to take your clips to the Sundance Film Festival, but even small improvements can give your online videos more selling power. […]

Search for the term “bounce rate” on the Internet, and you can find any number of very technical explanations. Some of them even include a nifty mathematical formula or two. But as a business owner, here’s all you should really care about: Bounce rate is basically a measure of the percentage of visitors to your website who take one quick look and run away screaming. […]