Written by Sean Valant
Thursday, February 26th, 2015
The entrepreneurial spirit is something that we hold near and dear at HostGator. After all, if not for the aspirations of a young entrepreneur in a Florida dorm room, HostGator would not exist.
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Written by Brandi Bennett
Tuesday, February 24th, 2015
Your e-commerce site is flashy; it loads quickly, and you’re selling a decent amount of product. But no matter how good your site is, it can always be better. There is always room for improvement. This is not meant as a criticism of any site, it is simply a fact. Technologies evolve and with them comes room for additional improvement to any site.
There are certain tips that that will work to ensure that your e-commerce site stays as good as it is, improves drastically, or will serve to benefit your site in some way. As with any suggestion, please don’t take it personally, and remember, I most likely have not been to your site (though I could have!). These suggestions are more like a compilation of different issues I have seen on the e-commerce sites that I frequent and feel that they need addressing so that others can constantly improve. With that in mind – the suggestions:
- Keep it Simple – as I have mentioned in a previous post, simple is better. If customers have additional questions about your products and services, they will ask (as long as you have a place for them to do so). Do not inundate your customers with information. Most online consumers already have a good idea of what they are looking for and have a basic idea as to what those products will entail. Give a basic description and that’s it. Have a place for them to add the item to the cart, a place to ask questions (like an easy to spot customer service email address or chat support) and you’re all set.
- Don’t Make Me Register to See Your Items – Seriously, this is one of my biggest pet peeves (and I’m not alone in this one). If your site makes me register to see what you have for sale, I’m either going to go somewhere else to investigate the product (like Amazon) or if I’m really curious and you’re one of the only places selling it, I will sign up with a completely fake name, fake email address, etc. You won’t get my real information, and I still most likely won’t purchase the item from the site that made me do that. Why? Because you don’t need my information. You’re not mailing me something that I bought from you, you’re trying to preemptively gather information on me, and that’s just not cool.
- Make Your Site Easy to Navigate and Make it Easy to Search – Personally, I’m not a huge fan of Etsy. I dislike trying to navigate through to find the cool stuff. The site is non-intuitive and clunky. I begrudgingly go there anyway, because it’s one of the few places to get handmade items, and I like that. I maybe visit the site once every six months, why? Because it is NOT easy to navigate. If it was easier to find things without having to look through hundreds of pages of stuff, I would absolutely spend way more money there. Thriftbooks.com is another site I would spend more money on if their search was more intuitive. I want to put in a book name or an author and just go. I don’t want to specify half a dozen things to try to find one or the other. Make it easy for me to search, like Amazon or Barnes and Noble and I will spend money all day long. Make it difficult for me and you will get little to no money. This basically goes back to the first point – keep it simple. Don’t over complicate things and you will get more money from consumers.
E-commerce can be rewarding, and it can be frustrating, but the key to making money is, as always, make it easy on your customers to spend money. This is why those little stands next to the checkout line work. Someone sees lip balm or a candy bar or a soda and thinks, man my lips are chapped/something sweet sounds great/I’m thirsty and grabs it. If those items were too difficult to find or too hard to get to, stores wouldn’t make as much on the little items. Your e-commerce website is a virtual store. Make it easy on your customers and they will reward you for making the experience a better one for them.
Image Source: U.S. Media Consulting. (2014). E-Commerce. Retrieved from http://latinlink.usmediaconsulting.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/Ecommerce-Latam.jpg
Written by Brandi Bennett
Thursday, February 19th, 2015
It is generally understood these days that a domain name is necessary for brand recognition. Domain names also serve many higher purposes as well, including being a primary contributor to the overall user-friendliness of the Internet. Without domain names, we would have to memorize IP addresses in order to visit websites… instead of “Googling” something, we’d “188.8.131.52” it.
Time To Select A Domain Name! ACK!
The truth is that many people fail to consciously think of a domain name that they want, or several alternatives, prior to the signup process. As such, when it comes time to pick a domain name, they panic. This can lead to a host of different issues, as with the case of the now defunct, ill-fated domain name “The pen is mightier” a.k.a. thepenismightier.com. As you can see, while “The pen is mightier” is a pretty nifty name from a very famous quote (and one that worked well for a site that made custom pens, it just doesn’t work so well as a domain name, and can lead to a host of unfortunate situations. The site has long since been taken down. It would be best, however, to learn from their unfortunate mistake.
How Do I Avoid An Awkward/Inappropriate/Unfortunate Domain Name?
It’s quite simple. Open a word document or pull out a pen and notebook and start jotting down potential domain names. See how they look in text and see if they communicate your message properly. From there, circle or highlight the five top choices. You can then check the availability at https://register.hostgator.com.
If your choices are available, you can proceed with the registration process. If none of your choices are available, it’s back to the proverbial drawing board. Remember, you don’t just want to take any old domain name, you want one that will represent your site, convey your business appropriately, and adequately display your professionalism.
Domain names matter. Give them the treatment they deserve and put some time into it. You are naming your site. If you wouldn’t just type in random characters on a child’s birth certificate, don’t do it to your site! Your business is not unlike your child. You are working to nurture and grow your site – your business – don’t put it at a disadvantage from the get-go!
Image Source: Wikipedia. (2014). Domain Name. Retrieved from http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/7/75/Internet1.jpg
Written by Brandi Bennett
Tuesday, February 17th, 2015
You’re running your small business. You’re doing things your way, and you think you have it all under control. The fact of the matter is, the potential for things to spiral out of your control always exists. There are several different things that you may be doing that might actually be hurting your business instead of helping it. We are going to review some of these things. Take a look at whether or not you are actually committing a small business faux pas, and if so, you’ll be able to correct course before they start to negatively affect your business.
Excessive Focus on Profits
While profit is certainly a goal of business, there is such a thing as being too focused on the bottom line. If your only concern is money, you will slowly start to drive employees away, and ultimately drive your customers away as well. Money is important, but losing sight of the human aspect, the fact that your employees have lives, that stuff happens, and that your customers, and even you have a life outside of making money or having someone make money for you is important. If you become lost in the idea of money, you will lose sight of the reason you are making money, and thus will inevitably start to lose control.
It is vital to be confident in your business and your business ideas. It is this confidence that serves to grow your business and is surely what prompted you to start your business in the first place. Don’t be overconfident, however. Keep both feet on the ground. Be realistic in your expectations. Remember that there is always room for improvement, and a good idea can always be improved upon to become a great idea. Constantly look for new ways to improve your business. Don’t just assume that your business is awesome and it rocks and you need to change absolutely nothing. This overconfidence is what can cause your business to fail.
Need for Control
The last faux pas we are going to address is the relentless need for control. Small business owners have often started their business by themselves. They are generally the only employee until their business takes off. They get used to doing everything themselves. When the business grows, the problem comes when they continue to try to do everything themselves. Learn to delegate. Understand that things may not get done the way that you used to do them, but they will still get done and done to the standards you have set. Accept that change is necessary and release a modicum of control; if you don’t, it can become a literal death grip that chokes the life out of your company.
It’s Not Perfect, But It’s Mine
In working to address each of these concerns and working to ensure that there is the appropriate balance within the company, it will become possible for your business to grow and flourish in ways that you may not have dreamed possible. Your small business is like a child you are raising, and just like when raising a child, you have to learn when to let go and to allow it to grow. The first step, the first bicycle ride without training wheels, the first car… businesses grow similarly to people, and when your business grows, you have to remember to keep sight of what is important, just like with a child.
Image Source: Borselaer. (2014). Need for Control. Retrieved from http://www.borselaer.org/wp-content/uploads/need-for-control.jpg