Five Common E-commerce Traps & How to Avoid Them

Despite reports that indicate just how high the online startup failure rate is, e-commerce startups nonetheless are all the rage these days and the flames of entrepreneurial spirit seem to be burning brighter than ever. If you’re an aspiring entrepreneur, you’ll want to eliminate self-doubt and be willing to accept whatever happens; a leap of faith, if you will.

Thankfully, any outcome is progress as long as you’re capable of learning from failures. This is a very important lesson to learn. Unfortunately, a single miscalculation may sound the death blow for small startups. To ensure your startup doesn’t dissolve before it even takes off, review these five critical traps to watch out for an avoid at all costs:

1. Relying Too Much on WordPress

There’s no doubt that WordPress is a great platform for building just about any site. It’s also compatible with other e-commerce platforms like Shopify Magento, and BigCommerce. However, these platforms are exactly why relying too much on WordPress is a mistake. If you always run to WordPress whenever you build a site, you’re missing out on features that will simplify your e-commerce business.

Besides, e-commerce platforms have everything you need to build a store from the ground up – from shopping cart apps to blogging extensions. You don’t need to integrate them with a content management system.

A word of advice, take advantage of free trials to determine which platform will adequately meet your needs. Once you pick one, it’ll be difficult and impractical to switch to another platform later.

2. No Mobile Presence

90% of consumers use their phones to purchase online. That said, building an online store without optimizing for mobile is like setting up shop in the middle of the desert.

Today, most e-commerce platforms and site builders already have a selection of mobile responsive themes. Apart from this, you should also run your site through the Google Mobile-Friendly Test for suggestions on how to optimize your store.

3. Store Design Doesn’t Resonate with Buyers

Success in e-commerce is all about your buyers. In addition to providing a decent experience to mobile shoppers, you also need to implement a design that resonates with buyer personas. Make sure all details – from the colors to your choice of fonts – are tailored specifically to your target audience.

It’s also important to pick updated themes and templates whenever your e-commerce platform undergoes a major update. Doing so enables you to capitalize on new features that can improve the experience of buyers.

4. Terrible Product Presentation

If you want to sell something, you need to put it in the best possible light – not blotch it with a generic description and low-quality product photos. This is not something you should skimp on. If necessary, hire a professional copywriter or photographer, preferably with e-commerce experience, to captivate onlookers and convert traffic into profits.

As rules of thumb, be sure to use high-resolution images (at least 1024 x 1024) and present the product in different angles. When it comes to the description, get straight to the point and deal with the pain points of your buyers. Avoid filler words unless they instill positive emotions into readers.

5. No Strategy for Sustainability

Growing an e-commerce business requires two things: attracting new customers and making sure they come back for more. You can’t have one without the other if you want to sustain your online store for the long-term.

A proven strategy is to build a mailing list to cultivate customer loyalty and squeeze more sales from past buyers. For this, you need an email marketing platform likeGetResponse and Aweber. In addition to list management, these platforms also feature drag-and-drop email builders and lead capture tools.   

Finally, make sure you invest in customer service to establish a trustworthy and authoritative brand. You can do this through email, live chat, social media, and other touchpoints that allow you to connect with consumers. Not only will this keep them happy, it’s also the key to generating the much-needed social proof.

Source: Tech.co, by Loren Baker

 

14 Useful Tools Every Entrepreneur Needs

Sometimes, the entrepreneur tries to do it all by themselves especially sole-proprietors. This can apply a lot of pressure to a small business owner and considering that they typically have little-to-no outside assistance, sole-proprietors need tools to help them reduce the time they spend on everyday or mundane tasks.

Besides, the more time the entrepreneur is able to free up, not only is it a godsend, but it allows the sole-proprietor the ability to maximize their time and creative potential in order to help their business venture grow and mature.

1. WISESTAMP

WiseStamp makes it remarkably easy to create a professional email signature that will show your picture and automatically give recipients all your contact information, including links to your website and social media pages. There are several ways to customize the process that is all entirely free. For additional options, the site offers a yearly subscription.

2. WORKFLOW MAX

Workflow Max offers everything you need in a single integrated platform. This tool can be used on the computer or on whatever smart device you prefer. You can handle everything from lead and client management to invoicing and time sheets, job costing, purchase orders and more. There are more than 30 add-ons you can use to adjust the workflow as needed.

3. ZAPIER

Zapier lets you automate tasks easily by teaching more than 750 apps to work together. The free plan allows you to build individual connections and create basic automation, while the premium plan allows greater customization of the automation processes.

4. SHAKE

Shake by Legal Shield provides free templates that can be filled in with your specific information and sent to clients or collaborators to sign electronically and return. There is absolutely no cost when you use one of Shake’s free templates, or you can upgrade to the monthly plan to make extensive customizations. For most people just starting out, the free plan will be more than sufficient.

5. SQUARE

Square gives you the ability to take secure payments anywhere you are and has zero fees to get set up. The company will send interested individuals the hardware that attaches to a smart device for free and then keeps 2.75 percent of any transaction that is completed. This gives entrepreneurs the ability to accept debit and credit cards from wherever they have the opportunity to make a sale.

6. ADOBE SPARK

If you’ve read anything about using social media to grow your business, you already know how important it is to have high-quality graphics that are designed for the platform you are using. Adobe Spark lets you do this for free. The premade templates are sized appropriately for whichever platform you are designing for, and the site also gives you the ability to create a stunning video with virtually no prior experience.

7. HOOTSUITE

Hootsuite makes managing all of your social media accounts as easy as delegating the process to a virtual assistant. The free version lets you connect three social media accounts, schedule messaging and see basic analytics information. Plans are available for people who need to organize more accounts and for those who already have a team.

8. GETRESPONSE

Email marketing and connecting to prospective clients through those efforts is incredibly important to effectively grow your business. GetResponse helps businesses do this for as little as $15 per month and includes 1,000 subscribers. As the business grows, higher-tier levels are available within the service. Every company, no matter how small, can benefit from gorgeously designed functional email marketing. Plus, you get landing pages and marketing automation, too. Higher-tier plans include additional features, like webinars, Salesforce integration and campaign consulting.

9. GRAMMARLY

Solopreneurs often begin by doing everything themselves, including writing their own copy for email, social media, website pages and advertising materials. This is an effective way to keep initial costs low, but not all entrepreneurs have the requisite skill set to write beautiful copy. Grammarly evens the playing field by catching grammatical and punctuation mistakes often overlooked by word processor applications. The free version also allows you to check for plagiarism, to make sure nothing you’ve read for research accidentally makes its way into your finished product. The upgrade option catches more details.

[Editor’s Note: I have this installed myself and while it is sometimes useful at catching minor grammar mistakes, I find it to be intrusive and annoying more often than not. In addition, this app really pushes for the user to upgrade to the premium version far more than I would like.]

10. WISEINTRO

WiseIntro is a free way to build your online presence without any startup costs. As you gain traction and need more options, it is easy to upgrade to one of the tool’s monthly plans to unlock additional features. This is an especially good choice for entrepreneurs. This is because of the strong visual component they have to their work and their need to show prospective clients exactly what they can do while still avoiding — at this early stage — having to pay a graphic designer to create a custom website.

11. SIGHTED

Sighted is an online invoicing tool perfect for freelancers and entrepreneurs. The free plan is perfect for a small business, offering 20 invoices per month in multiple currencies, for up to 10 clients. As the business scales, paid plans (starting at $4.99 a month) allow for unlimited invoices, expenses and 100 or more clients. All plans feature the ability to accept online payments and include a profit and loss report to make tax time a little easier.

12. EVERNOTE

Evernote is a place to store all of those ideas, pictures, mind maps and other assorted information that you want to remember. It can be accessed from a smart device or computer, and when you input something in one location, it will be available from all of your devices instantly. This is a great tool for any planning you do on the go, and it comes with a ton of free storage. If you find yourself relying on it as an extension of your own memory, you can upgrade to a plan with more storage.

[Editor’s Note: I’ve tried EverNote before and found that I disliked the interface and felt like there are a lot of features missing. I’ve since moved to OneNote as my notetaking tool of choice and haven’t looked back.]

13. PORTENT TITLE MAKER

Everyone gets stuck with creating a catchy title for a blog post or article at some point. Portent’s Title Maker takes your keyword and turns it into an interesting heading to give you a jumping-off point for your next piece of content. This tool can even help generate ideas for newsletters, brochures, and emails.

14. ASSISTANT.TO

Just because you are a entrepreneurs doesn’t mean you want to do every single task for yourself. Most businesses owners would agree that having a secretary to take care of details is essential. Unfortunately, it isn’t affordable for everyone just starting out. Assistant.to sets up your appointments by working with your email recipient, automatically adjusting time zones and even rescheduling meetings if something comes up.

 

What do you think? Have you tried any of these solutions yourself? Sound off in the comments below!

 

Source: Entrepreneur.com

Great Marketing Software for Any Small Business

If you are like me, you are constantly looking for a fantastic solution for your small business in order to solve complicated problems. Often, it is difficult as a small business owner to balance everything on your plate that is required to grow your business.

Below are some fantastic solutions that will help grow your business, increase your outreach and engagement, and help grow your brand. Many, like SalesForce and MailChimp, are leaders in their respective industries. Let’s dive in!

From Inc.com (source):

Salesforce

Before you get started, it’s important to have a scalable Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system in place. As the best-known platform in this market segment, Salesforce is an ideal option for any business hoping to access a multi-featured solution. In addition to numerous modules for sales, marketing, and contact management, Salesforce integrates with many of the other tools businesses use today. This means that as your business adds new applications to help manage operations, you’ll be able to utilize the information you’ve collected within Salesforce.

 

Optify

It can sometimes feel as though you’re taking shots in the dark with your marketing efforts. Optify can provide the feedback you need with each of your online efforts. Your website will be benchmarked against others in your industry, with feedback helping you determine areas where you can improve. Advanced analytics will give you all the information you need about those who visit your website, including the sites referring those visitors and what actions they take once they arrive at your site. This information could be just what you need as you start a new marketing campaign.

 

MailChimp

Email is usually an integral part of reaching out to new and existing customers. MailChimp is one of the best ways to manage your email marketing campaigns. You can choose from a wide variety of professionally-designed templates to make your messages more attractive. You’ll also enjoy tools that help you monitor results, conduct A/B testing, and automate follow-up emails.

 

HubSpot

HubSpot is designed to support businesses in their marketing efforts, consolidating their various activities into one central dashboard. One of the best features of HubSpot, however, is its training resources. Professionals can take courses and even get certified in various marketing skills through the site. The end result will be that you’ll be able to craft a marketing strategy like you’re a pro.

 

Referral Rock

Often the best way to get the word out about what you’re doing is through your own network. Referral Rock integrates with a business’s existing systems to build a referral network that gets results. Using this tool, you can create and manage referral programs and monitor results. You can automate workflows so that follow-up emails are sent based on the action customers took on previous emails.

 

SalesAutoPilot

If you run an ecommerce business, SalesAutopilot has a marketing automation solution designed especially for your needs. Through this tool, you can run surveys and polls, send market-segmented email messages, and measure results. You can also manage your product inventory and create order forms.

 

Followerwonk

Boosting your social media audience can help amplify each message you create and send. Followerwonk is a tool from Moz that helps you identify followers who are most likely to be interested in the type of content you offer. You can also research your existing followers to learn more about their interests and goals to better identify the type of content you should be sharing. This has the added benefit of giving you the insight you can use when searching for new followers.

 

Hootsuite

Staying active on social media takes time, and time is one commodity many entrepreneurs lack. Hootsuite can help you monitor posts across various social media accounts. You can schedule posts to go live on multiple platforms at once, giving you the convenience of writing all of your social media messages at a time that works best for your schedule. You can also schedule posts to go live at a time when your followers are most likely to see them, rather than when you happen to be online.

 

LeadGenius

Businesses can spend hours looking for the right contacts for their email campaigns and marketing efforts. LeadGenius uses publicly-available information to build robust contact databases, giving teams the names of people who are likely to be interested. This makes each effort more effective, helping teams avoid wasting time. You’ll also be able to measure results to continue to hone your marketing campaigns.

With the right software in place, professionals can ensure every marketing effort gets results. It can be difficult to find the perfect solution with the many tools available, but careful research can help a leader find the right software

Source: Inc.com

 

What do you think? Have you tried any of these solutions yourself? Sound off in the comments below!