So, as 2013 draws to a close, what does 2014 hold for businesses? Probably more of the same if the last couple of years are to go by. Small businesses, especially retail businesses will no doubt continue to go under as more and more people shop on line or just visit one shop, the supermarket. Our small independent retailers have all but vanished from the high street these days and anyone remaining will be hoping that 2014 brings more customers, more money and more profit.
But hope isn’t a word that be relied on. Hope isn’t enough to keep a business afloat as customers take the easier option for their shopping. Many of the big high Street names are now offering the option of buying online and collecting in store and so get two bites of the cherry. Giants of retail Amazon will no doubt have a tremendous turnover/profit this Christmas as they did last year, with similar outlets.
While the big boys are wading forward through the e-commerce mire with various levels of success, the small independent trader is feeling like an extra in a local performance of A Christmas Carol. Never has an Internet presence been needed more.
Don’t leave it too Late!
Most people can see the benefit of selling online but far too many businesses either leave it too late by hoping things will improve on its own or they just don’t do things right. To understand this, lets dispel a few myths.
Build it and they will come!
There is still a consensus of opinion that £400 spent on an e-commerce website is £400 well spent. The hope here is, of course, is that once the site is hosted, customers will come, an often fatal business mistake. Why? Quite simply, you need a website that is going to adequately showcase your products. You’ll need reliable online payment systems, you will need your site optimising for the search engines and you will need to add new content on a regular basis. This isn’t something that your cousins’ fifteen-year-old Son can achieve from his bedroom. The moral is, get the best you can afford and check out the website company before you engage them.
Now the Sites SEO Optimised I Can Forget it!
Oh dear! I’ve lost count of the amount of businesses that have fallen into this trap. Three words, No you can’t! SEO or Search Engine Optimisation needs constant attention. Regular new content that will be interesting to customers needs adding and one of the best ways of doing this is by blogs. These should not be stuffed with every keyword under the sun either. Write the blogs for humans to enjoy, not bots!
I Tried Google AdWords Once, But it Didn’t Work For Me.
Oh please, not that one again! This comment makes me smile every time I hear it and I hear it a lot! To understand the reasoning behind this overused excuse, you have to replace it with one or both of the following statements,
”I didn’t really know what I was doing” or “I didn’t allocate enough budget”. The answer is surprisingly simple; let an online agency handle it. They do know what they’re doing and so will you when you get their scheduled reports. They will analyse the data and tweak your campaigns accordingly. They will usually save you more money than what you pay them to look after your account. They will also, in cooperation with yourself, work to your budget and advise if at any time it should be increased or decreased. Simple. Word of caution, for PPC management, make sure the company is a Google Partner and are qualified to manage accounts. This means they work totally in line with Google Guidelines.
Don’t be a Scrooge With Your Budget!
A word about budget. You need to look at this in perspective. Many small retailers starting out in the world of PPC (AdWords), allow a paltry sum for a budget. Look at it this way. If you are conducting offline marketing such as a monthly inclusion in a relevant trade magazine, you could be spending anything from £400 to a few thousand pounds for a half/full page colour ad. You will never be sure of its effectiveness and lets face it, a lot of your offline marketing budget is going down the pan.
Don’t then, be frugal with your AdWords budget. If you replace your conventional advertising with PPC, at least use the same budget if not more. So many newcomers make the mistake of spending £50 per month and expecting to get instant results. I’m afraid it isn’t going to happen. Talk to an Online Marketing Agency and work with them, with a decent budget and you will get results.
And finally, take the Christmas Holidays to re-invent the way you do business. By all means continue with your retail business if you have one, but combine this with a well run SEO and AdWords campaign that will provide you with a second, more efficient revenue stream. Have a very Happy Christmas and an even better 2014.