Redundancy and Back to online selling basics

Redundancy just before Christmas is not pleasant as the job market is not at its best, specially if you have had no warning.

As well as training to be an eBay education specialist I have secured consultancy and web development in the last few weeks of December to take me though to January.

In pure on-line entrepreneurial fashion I have been building up my web business ( practising what I preach) to its highest level yet and it continues to grow. Over the Christmas period I am going to be organising an eBay January Sale. I plan to make £900 with excess materials and stock hoarded over the years!

I shall also spend the time re-designing my ebay shop!

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Webcopy – Write in PLAIN English

Webcopy carefully crafted in plain English can improve a readers comprehension. You want your customers to understand what you are telling them don’t you?
Here are a few guidelines to plain English:

1. Make the average sentence length 15 to 20 words.

2. Use words your customers are likely to understand. Try not to abbreviate or use extensive jargon.

3. Use only as many words as you need.

4. Prefer the active voice, unless there is a good reason for using the passive.

5. Use the clearest verbs to express your thoughts.

6. Use vertical lists to break up complicated text.

7. Reduce cross-references to the minimum.

8. Avoid sexist usage.

9. Put your points positively when you can.

10. Put accurate punctuation at the heart of your writing.

11. Plan before you write.

12. Organise your content in a way that helps readers to grasp the important information early and to navigate though the document easily.

In the case of terms and conditions, which most on-line sellers draft their own…..

Where there is doubt about the meaning of a term, the interpretation most favourable to the consumer shall prevail.

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Google PageRank – The Webmasters Fetish…

That is what it was called last week in my office anyway. Google has made major tweaks to its page rank algorithm. Hairfreax has gone from 3 to 2, mainly because of changing the link structure on the site and killing my banner exchanges. Hey, I put them back this morning! I was expecting a drop as the site has changed so much. Hopefully in the next six months I can get it back to three!

So what effect does page rank have?

One simple one really in my eyes….how high your site is indexed on Google. It has little to do with your keyword optimisation and relies heavily on back links. So if your search engine optimisation sold you on creating a profile of back links then you will have noticed a drop in page rank, and also a drop in position. A lot of websites will also find their traffic diminishes as they are not as far up the search listings.

Do not fear my SEO buddies, optimisation is an ever changing and growing animal and your SEO should not be a static being. Change and adapt when Google ‘Master of the Universe’ changes its ever fickle mind.

Kidsontalks now has a page rank of three, so its not all bad. Technorati says I have 16 back links.

Keep up to date with the latest page rank theories: ‘Digg Favourites Slapped By Google’ its seems this story is more complex than it first seemed. Google said it was penalising paid links ‘selling’ page rank, but the only paid links I use are well Google Adwords for Hairfreax anyway!

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Setting up your OWN affiliate programs

Thinking of driving traffic and getting into affiliates? Companies such as Tradedoubler can be a little expensive for the smaller business, so I have been investing time in this affiliate management software by JROX

This is a nifty script for you to manage your own affiliate program. I have started ‘Toxic Girl Alternative Affiliates‘ on toxicgirl.co.uk to manage a small affiliate program for my Hairfreax site. With the JROX affiliate management software you can use the software for up to 50 affiliates free but then the cost of the software is $250 or approx £122 at the time of publishing.

I am going to enlist a small set of friends with related websites to test the system and its offerings, but its well worth a look.

Its features include:

Affiliate Management
Commission and sales management
Ability to create various advertising types
Multiple programs
Integration with Cubecart…..which I happen to run!

The full details are here : http://www.jrox.com/affiliate_software/

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Different types of E-commerce Shopper

Not all online shoppers are created alike. They all have different goals and strategies for their online shopping which relate to different needs. When developing an online service or e-commerce store you need to try and cater for as many of these types of shopper as possible. You can use basic ‘shopper models’ to organize the products and information on your site.

You could find at least 6 different types of online shopper within your own set of friends and family. A small sized start-up online business may not be able to afford professional customer modelling, but these techniques are still important, even to the smaller player.

New to the Net:

These buyers are still getting used to the internet and the idea of e-commerce. They use the web for research purchases and start will smaller value items in safer environments. A common start off point for these shoppers is eBay, where all the sellers are rated and they can proceed with caution. At this early stage this shopper can either become addicted to the life of e-commerce or be put off by a bad or fraudulent purchase.

This buyer needs a simple interface, and a way to verify the e-commerce site. Make sure you have clear precise pictures, a simple stream line jargon free checkout and display your returns policy clearly outlining your responsibility as an online retailer. You can invest in an eBay type feedback system such as FeeFo.com which is an independent customer feedback system and also feature customer testimonials. Make sure you use well known and simple payment processing for example Paypal, Lloyds Cardnet or HSBC.

Bargain Hunters

These shoppers rely heavily on marketplaces such as eBay and shopping comparison engines. They have no real brand loyalty and are just shopping for the lowest price. You need to convince these shoppers they are getting the best deal. Make sure you products are included in shopping comparison engines and have an RRP shown so they can see the great deal they are getting. Within this group you have the impulsive bargain hunter who wants to purchase now and a competitive bargain hunter willing to bid against other shoppers for the deal. EBay is a bargain hunter’s paradise; you can almost use eBay to cater primarily for these customers, letting them battle it out for bargains and also have fixed price items for your impulsive bargain hunters.

Precise Shoppers

These shoppers have a surgical approach to online shopping. They know exactly what they want and will research until they find the best fit to their criteria. These shoppers are hard to please as it is luck of the draw that you have the product they need. You need to make sure part numbers and the true name of your product is present in the product title to allow precise optimization. Product configuration tools like the ‘Build your Porsche’ cater for these types of shopper and are great for a multitude of shopper types.
These shoppers need customer opinions to make sure the product will fit it intended purpose and also great customer support so they can seek verification for the seller about the item.

Hobby Shoppers

Shopping for these buyers is a past time. I fall straight into this category myself. It’s an addiction and I almost need to find something to buy online if I have a penny to spare. I often have to quell the urge. These shoppers purchase frequently and enthusiastically. These are the most adventurous shoppers and you need to grab their attentions by offering engaging tools to view the merchandise as well as product recommendations and incorporating social media into their purchase. These shoppers love community applications such as forums, bulletin boards and social shopping sites.

Direct Shoppers

These shoppers buy out of necessity. They do not shop around or waste time. They want the information now and to find the product within the 3 click recommended navigation. Excellent navigation and product organization is needed to cater for these shoppers. These shoppers need all the information at their finger tips in close proximity to the items, as well as quick access to customer support. Live chat appeals to these kind of shoppers, as they want answers quickly. These shoppers respond well to expert and customers opinions and testimonials.

Nervous Shoppers

My mother very much falls in this category, afraid to ‘put her credit card’ online or that she will be subject to fraud. Identity theft has risen to 1 in 4 in the UK so this is a valid concern. These shoppers start off by only using the internet to research products they mainly buy offline. To make these customers feel secure you need to clearly state your security /privacy policies and use a SSL certificate at checkout. These shoppers watch out for the little padlock at the bottom of the browser so make sure you have no non-secure items on your secure pages. Non-secure Google analytics tracking code is famous for this, they have a https version. You need to state that their information is secure and not sold or distributed. These customers also need customer support, with most of these shoppers wanting to hear from a human before they make their purchase. You need to make sure you include a phone number contact for these shoppers, and also an option that they can pay over the phone for their purchase. You might find these shoppers are only leads for your bricks and mortar or catalogue operations. These are still valid customers as most types of customers have a little bit of the nervous shopper in them.

You can not please or cater for every shopper that will land on your e-commerce site, but you do need to consider the information you need to give your customers and the shopping experience as a whole. Always consider your product type and match it with your typical customer profile. These are generalisations on shoppers, but as with the colour symbolism and psychology, every product type attracts a different set of customer profiles! You can even go as far as moulding your search engine optimisation to match what each shopper type is looking for. Intelligent search engines will deliver your products and message directly to these shopper types, Google personalised search will make this easier for you.

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