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. […]

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. […]

Spend some time surveying a variety of E-commerce sites (without spending money on them, that is…), and chances are you’ll come across some sites that offer name-brand gadgetry at incredibly good prices. Sites like these often sell items such as air-conditioning components, portable power equipment or computer hardware.

With a little bit of research you’ll discover that a number of those E-commerce sites sell in great volume and are quite profitable. For some private entrepreneurs, it’s tempting to try to jump into one of those niche markets with a deep-discount E-commerce site of their own. […]

Just like a bricks-and-mortar store needs somebody behind the counter, an E-commerce web site requires somebody behind the scenes to make things run smoothly.

Your E-commerce site is never going to be a fire-and-forget operation. Somebody has to process the orders. Somebody has to insure payment has been made. Somebody has to manage inventory and pricing. Somebody has to handle fulfillment and shipping. […]

In a post last week, I mentioned that sometimes something good accidentally happens as a result of the dark machinations of the technology industry’s various would-be Evil Overlords. In the interest of fairness, this week I’m going to point out that more often than not, when the Evil Overlords get involved in the affairs of mere mortals, something wicked this way comes.

The networking mega-corporation Cisco is usually so far behind the scenes that it’s never considered a contender for the Evil Overlord label. If you work in a large company, maybe you’ve heard somebody from tech support ranting about the frustration of taking a Cisco certification exam (although obviously they’ve never experienced the arcane adventure that is Novell Netware). Otherwise, you seldom hear the name spoken in public. Until a few weeks ago, anyway. […]

In the technology business, sometimes it’s difficult to figure out which group of Evil Overlords has the best secret conspiracy strategy for world domination. At times it almost seems that the Evil Microsoft Overlords, the Evil Apple Overlords and the Evil Google Overlords have agreed to take turns wearing the Most Evil Conspiracy Ever championship belt. (Probably to keep the Evil Facebook Overlords-in-Training out of the game.)

Every now and then, though, something useful happens when one of the conspiracies goes awry. Apple has produced some interesting TV commercials, for example, and Microsoft offers its Visio software, which can be a lot of fun if you get your hands on one of those “crime scene diagram” templates. Another one of those happy accidents is Google’s Chrome Web Store. […]

Suppose, for a moment, that you’ve decided your business needs to have an official social media policy. Now you’ve got to figure out what your brand-new policy should include.

Details of the policy will differ a bit depending on whether or not your company uses social media for marketing and/or customer relations. Regardless, as I outlined in an earlier post, your policy needs to define acceptable and unacceptable types of online conduct as specifically as possible. […]

If your business has more than a handful of employees, you need to consider establishing a social media policy.

Do you actively promote your business through social media? If so, then it’s critical to consider creating an acceptable use policy for your employees. They need to know how they’re expected to represent your business online during working hours. […]