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Small Business Digest


There's Still Time! 7 Tips for Enhancing Online Sales This Holiday Season

2006 is quickly coming to an end, but if your company operates an e-commerce website and counts on the very important holiday selling season, theres still time to for you to implement these practical tips that can increase online sales. By following these tips, your business can maximize its marketing dollars while helping your brand stand apart from other competing products and clutter on the Internet. 

#1 Effective Use of Search Engine Marketing (SEM)

  • Issue - If your ads do not show up when a consumer is searching a term related to your products, you are missing opportunities.  When a consumer is searching a key word that matches what you sell, they are essentially knocking on your door.  If you dont show up on the first page of the search results that are delivered, youre not answering the door.
  • Solution: The good news is you can get into the game at any moment and make an instant impact with effective search engine marketing.  Smart, easy to implement tactics will give you immediate results. However, not all search engine marketing is created equal.  It is also critical to implement the right mix of technology and human intelligence in your search campaign to get the most bang for your buck. 

#2 Reduce Shopping Cart Abandonment

  • Issue - Youve spent money on online media, only to see 50% to 75% of potential consumers abandon their shopping carts.  There are two primary reasons for this:
  1. Sticker shock: once the consumer sees the total cost of all the items in the cart
  2. The company is charging too much for shipping and handling, (S&H).  
  • Issue - Last year, many online merchants offered free shipping.  Thats likely going to be the norm this holiday season as well. When your competitors are a click away, S&H costs that are too high can drive someone away from your site in a flash.

  • Solutions -  Offer free shipping or build it into the price of the product, so that S&H is no longer an issue.  Consider including the free shipping promotion within the copy.  That way, if your competitor is displaying the same offer, you will remain competitive in the space.  In case your competitors are not offering a similar offer, you have created a competitive advantage. 

  • To reduce sticker shock, display a running total in the cart so that it doesnt come as a surprise at the end.

#3 Track All Avenues to Your Web Site

  • Issue - If you dont know where your customers come from, you fall victim to the Wannamaker Syndrome I know Im wasting half of my ad budget, I just dont know which half.
  • Solution: Tracking web activity from online initiatives is easy.  Tracking the same for offline initiatives is much harder, but do-able.  For an in-depth discussion of web tracking challenges, refer to the All Roads Lead to the Web white paper, available at:

#4 Watch Your Search Budget

  • Issue - Bidding can get crazy as more and more sellers bid on the same keywords, driving up prices. If you get caught up in this frenzy, you will be paying way too much for your clicks.  If the conversion rate remains flat, you will be likely to lose money.
  • Solution - Make sure your pay-per-click manager has specific instructions and a strategy for maximizing sales in a bidding war environment.  By monitoring keywords on a daily basis, you will prevent excessive spend on a keyword that is unprofitable, as well as maximize return on the ones where you budget should be expanded. 

#5 SEO Cant Do Much in the Short Term Concentrate on PPC

  • Issue - Search Engine Optimization (SEO) takes a lot of effort and time to bear fruit. Unless you have an ongoing optimization program that was started at least six months prior to your peak season, putting resources behind SEO at this point will be pointless.
  • Solution - Concentrate on PPC (pay-per-click) for immediate results and start an SEO initiative only in the New Year.

#6 Take Another Look at Your Search Engine Marketing Copy

  • Issue - With limited character space and stringent editorial guidelines that restrict what words can be used, standing out from the crowd is no easy task for a copywriter.  General copy can lead to unqualified clicks, but copy that is too restricting can lead to no clicks at all.  
  • Solution - Write relevant copy that encourages consumers to click, while discouraging all but the most qualified consumers.  Create a strong call-to-action using words like Join, Buy, Sign-up, expressing your expectations from the consumer upfront.  For more resources on effective copy writing, refer to: The Write Stuff for SEM, available here.

#7 Understand TVs impact on Online Sales

  • Issue - Running TV commercials will have a direct impact on your online sales and search results.  Failing to recognize the importance of a TV campaign can result in a lack of brand recognition.
  • Solution - TV integrated with your online activities can lead to amazing results, as TV raises the water level across all facets of your business.  Its a game changer.  If you dont already utilize TV as a medium, start planning a campaign for the New Year.  To learn more about the relationship between TV and Search Engine Marketing refer to: The effects of DRTV on Search Engine Marketing, available at:

Theres a lot more you can do that takes time, but these practical tips can be implemented for the 2006 shopping season but only if you move quickly and start implementing them today.

Adapted from SendTec, a direct marketing organization with proven expertise in online marketing and search for clients such as Intuit, Biotherm (a division of L'Oreal), Cond Nast and uBid.

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