I’ve met with 3 online businesses in the last 2 weeks that have all wanted to increase their online sales. None of these businesses were start ups and all are investing significant budget in online marketing. Yet all 3 businesses lack fundamental statistics about their online performance. A massive benefit of working in the online world is that it’s possible to measure everything that your visitors do…and doing most of it is free. So make sure you don’t break the golden rule and measure everything!
In the following post I’ll highlight a couple of actions that will give you the information you need to build a better online business.
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If you’re thinking about setting up an online shop in the UK, you probably just want to know the answer to the simple “How do I do it and how much will it cost?”.
There are as many different ways to sell your products online as you can think. However, what we’re after here is a simple answer, a starter for 10, not an exhaustive list of all the options. In this post I’ll give you a ‘stake in the ground’ that you can use to make some business decisions and get started.
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If you want to share large files with your suppliers (videos, photos, artwork etc), the best service I’ve found is drop.io. There are lots of file sharing services out there but what’s so great about this one is that it is totally free (up to 100MB per file), its quick and doesn’t require registration or other annoying shenanigans. If your data is particularly sensitive you can password protect it at no extra cost. The premium versions of the service allow much larger data storage and shorter url’s (not that the 7 characters of the free version are too long). Quite simply there’s not much more you could want from an online file sharing service. If you think there’s something better please let me know.
If you’re planning a new website or an update to an existing site, its a good idea to think through what sections are going to be included and how the website’s going to grow over time. This used to be done with PostIt notes and a pen but the sparkly free service over at WriteMaps is so much easier and you don’t loose your afternoon’s work when the wind blows through the window!
Of course in this web 2.0 world its a free service, allows you to work collaboratively with your team and the interface is simple. Perfect!
If your site is looking a bit tired and perhaps rather dull, using a few images to break it up is a great idea. Typically, stock images can cost a lot to licence for online use, however a number of websites offer good quality stock images for free.
One of the most well known and a site I have used several times is Stock Exchange. The selection is good and the quality is certainly good enough for most projects especially if you spend a bit of time editing the images for your specific application. Make sure you check the licencing terms of any image you use as sometimes the photographer will require you to tell them where its being used (usually for interest sake more than anything else).
Another great source of images is searching through Creative Commons licenced shots. Flickr’s advanced search provides options towards the bottom of the form, for searching only those images which can be licensed (via Creative Commons) for use on your website.
Everyone knows listening to your customers is a vital part of developing your product offering. However, in the traditional world its a bit tricky and can be very costly. Well, in the online world its a lot easier and (obviously?) you can get it done for free.
SurveyMonkey is one of the better services for setting up a questionnaire and the free service allows you to ask 10 questions of up to 100 people. Take a look it might make a massive difference to actually hear what your customers really think!