The success of eCommerce is largely a function of the company’s ability to integrate its online and offline efforts and provide the very best experience for its customers. The seamless integration of the various components of the enterprise’s operations is also dependent on the efficacy of the software platform it utilizes. These eCommerce software programs or solutions as they are known make it possible to create a seamless operation of the entire operations of the enterprise. There are a number of such solutions in the market but then their levels of effectiveness in different areas vary. Each therefore has aspects in which it is strong while there are areas in which it might have some weakness. Important areas include flexibility in design, database assistance, additional programming needs as well as product/shopping cart integration. We will examine some of these eCommerce solutions as well as their upsides and downsides.
1. 2CheckOut: Operating out of Columbus Ohio, this resource can be located online at www.2checkout.com. This resource presents a good alternative to PayPal. Its ease of use makes it very for beginners to make use of it although it may not be realistic to use it for thousands of products. Although it has higher fees than PayPal and less suited for an experienced web designer as it cannot be customized, it is still very ideal for beginners in eCommerce. (more…)
The beginning of a new year is a good time to reflect on the previous year and try to build on your successes. In this video I give my thoughts on how to approach goal-planning and discuss some of the techniques that have worked for me.
I would love to know your thoughts on goal planning. Please leave a comment below and let me know your tips.
Email marketing is a subset of internet marketing and is actually used as one of the avenues through which marketing messages are disseminated online. The overall objective of email marketing is to deliver your marketing massages to your target audience, prospects as well as customers and thus drive traffic to your site as well as increase your business. Email marketing is a process that can be done by the marketer but then it is best automated. The need for automation is a direct result of the explosion in the volume of eCommerce on the internet and the attendant difficulty in coping with correspondence with customers, prospects and members of the target audience. Many firms have risen to the occasion and are providing great resources to meet that need. In order to effectively provide this service, these resources have some outstanding qualities such as:
i.Ease of Use: The user interface for an email marketing resource has to be user friendly and not resemble the cockpit of a space shuttle. The ease of navigation is a plus that makes the work of an internet marketer easier.
ii.Email Campaign Creation: It is also important that an email marketing resource provide HTML design and editing features. This is to help with the design of aspects of the campaign.
iii.Feature Set: Provision of a number of features that internet marketers will find useful in developing contact lists, create emails as well as examine results.
iv.Reports: Evaluation of the email marketing campaign is critical to the success of the program and this will be done by using reports. This feature is very important in any email marketing resource.
v.Support Services: Live support service and assistance as follow up to signing up for the resource is important for the internet marketer.
The following are five great email marketing resources:
CRM solutions are fast becoming ubiquitous these days as even small businesses adopt CRM to enhance their service delivery. There are generally two types of CRM solutions; hosted and web- based. While the former are installed on and operated via the enterprise’s local network, the latter is hosted on the Application Service Provider’s server and accessed via the internet. Online CRM which is web-based is also known as OnDemand CRM, Browser Based CRM, Hosted CRM and more recently as SaaS (Software as Service).
Online CRM solutions have some distinct advantages that accrue to the user. Its use is also dependent on the peculiar needs of the enterprise. The advantages that online CRM offers include the following:
i.Speed of implementation.
ii.Ability to get automatic updates.
iii.Comparatively less cost of procurement and complete acquisition
iv.Swift sharing of information within the enterprise
v.Reduction in procedure as backend systems are not required
vi.Easy accessibility as it is internet based
There are also many online CRM solutions in the market but then some are more proven than others. Some of those outstanding CRM solutions include the following:
i.InfusionCRM: This CRM solution is well suited to small and medium sized enterprises as it offers reliability, comprehensiveness and sophistication. Tracking and consolidation of sales information within the single system is one of the key incentives to use InfusionCRM. It includes autoresponders, product information, order history, payment plans, lead tracking, customer details and much more.
ii.ACT: ACT is classified more as a contact software but then when viewed from its capability to help enterprises keep in touch with its customers and also track orders, it falls within the CRM class. It also compatible with many mobile phones, supports customization as well as third party software thus adaptable for many small businesses.
iii.Zoho CRM: This CRM solution is cloud based and offers features very useful to small businesses. Some of these features include sales forecast, role-based security, reports and dashboards, sales and marketing integration, inventory management. This CRM solution also supports third party software such as Microsoft Outlook. This works very well with small businesses that are just starting out because of its ease of use and adaptability. It is also quite cost effective as it is usually free for the first three users and payment commences from the fourth user at a reasonable rate.
iv.Relenta: This is a relatively new solution and has a lot of features that would integrate easily with a small enterprise’ business process. It incorporates email marketing with its core CRM solutions and for internet marketing firms, it could be very ideal. It also integrates with popular applications like Aweber, Salesforce, Outlook and Constant Contact.
v.iContact Pro: This solution combines contact management with email marketing functions. It very easily makes the tasks inherent in small internet marketing businesses like email newsletters distribution, email marketing and sales lead monitoring much easier. The price is also quite affordable, starting at $9.95 monthly depending on how large your email list is.
Click-Through Rates (also known as CTR) is a method by which the success of an online advertising campaign is measured. CTR is determined by dividing the ‘number of visitors who clicked on an ad’ placed on a webpage by the number of ‘impressions’ (the number times that the ad was delivered). The result is represented in percentages. If therefore out of a hundred (100) impressions of a banner ad, just one person clicks on it, the CTR would then be 1%. The popularity of banner ads has dropped and with them, the CTR. The average CTR for a banner ad these days is about 0.2-0.3% as against above 5% when the banner first began to appear. (more…)
Rewards programs have become an integral part of the marketing plans of many enterprises especially small businesses as it helps to not only attract new customers but also retain existing ones. Of course, creating a strong customer value proposition is also at the center of any rewards programs. A rewards programs could be simply built in-house by an enterprise to save costs but then if there is a budget for it, that function could be outsourced to a professional firm specializing in that field. The advantage of outsourcing the design and execution of your rewards program to a professional is the wealth of experience and long list of collaborators that the professional would have built over time. These would include third party companies and major merchants. The following advantages could accrue to a small business by virtue of such collaborative rewards programs:
i. Creation of a series of rewards that would have appeal cutting across the customer base
ii. In conjunction with partners, design a partnership plan that would have a long-term and strategic value.
iii. Infusion of the rewards program with innovative items such as experiential opportunities and local rewards.
iv. Reduction of offsetting of program costs via marketing activities that are co-funded, marketing exposure, co-branded partnerships as well as merchant funded rewards.
The fact remains however that reward programs, no matter how well designed, enticing and beneficial, still needs to be ‘sold’ to customers. There are therefore various incentives that can be used to encourage customers to buy into and participate in the reward program. Some of these incentives include: (more…)
Email marketing is one of the most effective means of strategies in contemporary marketing. Its efficacy is used in meeting various objectives such as customer acquisition, integration of advertising messages with emails as well as enhancing customer loyalty and goodwill. Studies have confirmed that email marketing has a Return On Investment of (ROI) of $57.25 for every dollar spent. These figures were provided by the Direct Marketing Association. It is therefore impossible to ignore this marketing strategy in the overall marketing campaign. In carrying out email marketing however, there are certain tools that will enhance its efficacy particularly as these tools help you automate the entire process thus saving you precious time. This automation tool is known as an autoresponder and it helps you keep in touch with your new and existing customers with ease. Of course, there are many of such tools out there but then it is very important that you select the very best of them to avoid having problems. (more…)
Direct mail is a marketing practice in which the promoter or seller of a product or service sends marketing messages directly to the prospect or buyer. The uniqueness of the direct mail practice is the opportunity it affords the seller of delivering the message without using another medium so that there is no loss of control of the way the message is delivered or presented to the prospect. Another point of differentiation from other forms of marketing is that the promoter also gets use one distinct opportunity to promote, pitch and probably make the sale.
There are different types or methods used for implementing direct mail and these include sales letters, catalogues or other pictorial marketing collateral, sales letters combined with brochures. (more…)
Banner ads were one of the earliest types of ads that appeared on the internet and were certainly very popular. HotWired ran the first banner ad online in October 1994 for AT&T and subsequently became a source of revenue for online advert companies, generating estimated billions of dollars in ad revenue. Actually, banner ads became increasingly unpopular as a result of the roaring success of the paid search model popularized by Google. The standard measure of a banner ad’s success is the Click-Through Rate (CTR) and at its peak, banner ads had a CTR of 5% and above. These days however, banner ads command a CTR of just 0.2-0.3%.
In spite of the drop in the popularity of banner ads, it still remains a viable means of advertising and still appears on a lot of websites. Unfortunately, a great deal of the complaints regarding the efficacy of banner ads is as a result of the inability of the advertisers to observe the basic rules and changes in order to realize good results. There are some practices that can be incorporated into a company’s banner ad program that will have a positive effect on the campaign. (more…)
‘The money is in the list’ has become a classic statement among internet marketers as well anyone who wants to do serious work online. As our focus is on internet marketing in this instant, it is important to state that having an email list is one of the surest ways on making sure that your efforts on the internet yield positive results. Of course, driving traffic to your site is a prerequisite but then how do you drive traffic to your site in the first place? While SEO methods are quite reliable, having an email list will make things far easier for you in driving the desired traffic to your site. (more…)
Statistics is one of the most important factors in the success of any business, online or offline. Our focus here however, is on the importance of statistics in online marketing. The internet is a very vast terrain and as such, demands a lot of work to succeed. The kind of statistics that you will need depends on the nature of business you operate. The nature of the business also will determine the kind of campaigns you will need to design and execute to get your business noticed, drive traffic to your site and generate the right amount of interest to get your target audience doing exactly what you want them to do such as making a purchase.
There are many tools for carrying out research in order to derive these statistics and work them into your campaign. Additionally, you have to understand that there are also statistics that apply generally to the industry you in which you are operating. In executing an email campaign in promoting your services or products online, you will have to make use of certain statistics. These are very germane to the success of your campaign and your online business. It is also important that you see how your campaign is faring on all each of the statistics. These statistics include the following: (more…)
Web logs, abbreviated as ‘blogs’ have become quite ubiquitous and an integral part of internet marketing. Although they are not necessarily for internet marketing, they have been adapted as a form of communication between a target audience and an enterprise. In recent times, there has been an explosion in the number of blogs and bloggers particularly with the free blogging platform provided by Google and WordPress. The sheer number has also made it necessary to employ strategies to promote your blog if it is to become prominent enough to meet the objectives for which you set it up, whether commercial or otherwise. Of course, give the fact that there are already many bloggers out there in what has come to be referred to as the ‘blogosphere’, you will need some innovative or unique blogging strategies in order to make your mark in blogging. Here are five of such strategies:
i.Content Strategy Development: A lot of factors come into play in determining what the frequency and topics of your postings on your blog. The objectives however, are always to engage your readers, convince them of your position as an expert in the field as well as promote your ideas. The content you will develop must therefore be able to accomplish these objectives.
ii.Propagate Your Idea: Remember, in starting a blog, you are aiming to engage people in discussion. If you really want to get people talking about your idea, you must simply propagate it. You must talk about it in other places other than your blog. Forums and social media networks are also places where you could spread your idea. That way, traffic to your blog starts building and others start talking about it.
iii.Build Authority: People want to talk with experts. If you do not display authority on the very issue about which you are blogging, your visitors will soon drift away. Authority demands attention and gets it. One of the greatest strategies that you can use in succeeding with your blogging is to establish and continually display your authority and not just that but also give your visitors or blog followers the benefit of other people whom you regard having authority in that field. This will serve to portray you as being selfless.
iv.Teach Something New: Including a ‘How To’ post once a while help you add value to the time your blog followers spend with you. People are always on the lookout for something that will help them achieve their own goals in life. Helping them do to that will enhance your relationship and the success of your blog.
v.Pose Questions: One of the most important things about a blog is that it is meant to get people talking. One sure way to achieve that is by asking questions. When you ask questions, people tend to contribute as well as read answers provided by other followers. Ultimately, this creates a kind of engaging atmosphere which happens to be a key blogging objective.
The emphasis in the early days of the internet was on the enterprise but today, that emphasis has shifted to the customer. It has become very obvious to many enterprises that the internet is the most potent platform for making a connection with their prospects and customers. If the right connection or impression is not made during the first visit, the ability to market to that person becomes difficult. Sometimes, the initiative is lost at that very moment and may never be regained; worse still, word could spread on the internet about that one bad experience which could negatively impact the enterprise.
Web 2.0 designs are in tandem with the current trends on the internet. These current trends greatly enhance the quality of interaction between an enterprise and the visitors to its site. This will in turn increase the marketability of the site. Five of such marketing trends include the following: (more…)