Marketing Tips and Tricks – HostGator Blog Web Hosting and Marketing Tips for Entrepreneurs Mon, 17 Sep 2018 20:01:09 +0000 en-US hourly 1 151369968 Beginner’s Guide to Google Ads Fri, 14 Sep 2018 02:19:18 +0000 The post Beginner’s Guide to Google Ads appeared first on HostGator Blog.

The web is crowded and getting people to visit your website – out of all the other options available to...

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The web is crowded and getting people to visit your website – out of all the other options available to them – is an ongoing challenge that all website owners are familiar with.

One useful tool for getting your website in front of more people is Google Ads (formerly called Google AdWords).


Why to Use Google Ads

You only have so much money to spend promoting your website, so what makes Google Ads worth the investment? Google’s advertising platform provides a few main benefits that make it worth considering:

1. Your ad can reach a huge audience.

Google Ads doesn’t just control the ads that show up on the search engine (which billions of people use each day), it’s also behind the ads on all Google properties (including YouTube and Gmail) and a huge number of other websites included in the Google Display Network. All told, the Google Ads platform reaches over 90% of all internet users, making it the best tool for reaching a large audience online.

2. Google offers targeting options.  

For a lot of businesses, reaching a lot of people is less important than reaching the right people. Google Ads allows you to target which search terms your ads show up for, what people see your ads based on demographic information, and the types of sites they show up on in the display network. All of that helps you to more efficiently reach the people most likely to care about your website.

3. You only pay when people visit your website.  

With a lot of advertising, you pay for the exposure the ads bring you. Google Ads uses a pay-per-click model, so you only pay for the times people actually click on an ad and visit your website.

4. It’s faster than most online marketing tactics.

While tactics like SEO and content marketing are valuable, they’re slow. Google Ads gets your website in front of more people faster.

If your online marketing efforts could use an extra boost, PPC marketing with Google Ads can provide it.


How to Set Up Your Google Ads Account

Setting up an account in Google Ads is pretty easy. When you’re on the Google Ads website. You’ll see a big green button that says Start Now.

google ads get started screen

After you click, you’ll encounter a form that asks you to provide your email address and the website you’ll be promoting.

welcome to google ads setup

You’ll need to use an email here that’s already associated with a Google account, so if you already use Gmail and Google Analytics, use the same account you use there. If not, you can set up a new account here.

You’ll be asked to log into your Google account, then you’ll be in.


6 Best Practices for Google Ads

While you could theoretically dive right in and start creating ads today, in order to get the most out of the money you spend on Google Ads, you need to take some time to learn the ropes.

Google has a series of videos that can offer a good start to understanding the platform and how to use it. Going through them all can take some time, but for most website owners it’s worth it.

Until then, here’s a shorter summary of best practices to keep in mind.


1. Determine your goals.

What is it you want from your Google Ads? Are you at the point with your website where the most important thing is getting those initial leads to learn you exist, or do you want visitors to convert to customers right away? Your Google Ads campaigns should be designed around the main goals you want to achieve.


2. Do keyword research.

This is one of the most important steps in PPC marketing. Your keyword lists will be a big part of the campaigns you set up for search. You want your ads to show up specifically when people are looking for what you have to say or sell. The way to learn what terms people are using (and how competitive different terms are) is to take time to do the research.


3. Prioritize relevance.

One of the best things about online marketing is that you can more effectively reach the specific people most likely to be interested in your website in the context where they’re looking for or thinking about what you have to sell. Your ads will perform much better if you can make them relevant to the person at the moment they see them.

Good keyword research is a big part of this, but you should also do ad targeting based on demographic information and user interests to better get your ads in front of the right people.

And relevance has to go beyond what shows up on the ad: your ad content should always match what people will see when they click through.


4. Test out your ads.

It will probably take you a few tries to figure out what gets people to respond to your ads. Try out different ads with different wording, different images, and different targeting to collect data on which ones work best. If you just do one thing, you won’t ever know if it could be working better.


5. Use retargeting.

Getting a visitor to your website once is nice, but getting them to come back again is much more valuable. Google Ads provides retargeting so you can target your ads to the people who have already viewed your website and even use it to show them ads for the items they viewed while they were there.


6. Refine as you go.

Google Ads provides useful analytics that will help you gain a greater understanding of what your audience responds to based on your ad performance over time. And the platform even factors your ad success into how much you pay for each click through the Quality Score. You Quality Score is determined based on how well your ads perform, and can affect your pricing.


For best results, Google Ads requires a time commitment.

If you don’t have a lot of time to spend on running your Google Ads campaigns, you may benefit from hiring a PPC specialist or agency who can bring their expertise to your campaigns and help get you better results while saving you time.

If you stick with doing it yourself, actively monitor your campaigns. Pay attention to the data they provide and use it to improve your campaigns over time. If you manage your ads well, you can expect to see better results the longer you use the platform.


How to Create a Campaign in 6 Steps

Google Ads makes it pretty easy to get started by walking you through the steps to create a campaign.

A note here: Google Ads just recently rolled out an all new interface, so if you have any past experience with it or have done research into it from resources created before this summer (2018), then you’ll notice that the platform looks different that you probably expected.  

To get started in the new interface, look for Campaigns in the menu on the left side of the page. Then click either the plus sign in the big blue dot on the left side of the page, or where it says New Campaign toward the bottom. Select New Campaign.

google ads create new campaign

1. Choose Your Campaign Type

You’ll see a page that includes the five main types ads you can create in Google Ads:

  • Search ads – Ads that show up on the search engine results page, usually above the natural results
  • Display ads – Ads that show up on websites across the web
  • Shopping ads – Ads that show up on the search engine results page for product-related searches that often include images and information like price and availability.
  • Video – Ads that show up before or on the bottom of YouTube videos.
  • Universal app – Ads that show up on mobile apps.

google ads select campaign type

Make your selection for which type of ad you want to use in your first campaign. You can run multiple campaigns, so choosing one now won’t keep you from creating the other types of ads as well.


2. Select Your Goal

Now the platform will ask you to choose your goal for the campaign. It will fill in different suggestions here based on the campaign type you choose, but the most common options are:

  •      Sales
  •      Leads
  •      Traffic
  •      Brand awareness
  •      Product and brand consideration

google ads select campaign goal

You can also choose to create your campaign without choosing a specific goal. Choosing your goal allows Google Ads to better determine how to track your campaign’s success and provide you with the most important analytics.


3. Define Your Settings

On the next page, you’ll do a few important things.

First, give your campaign a name. This is for internal use only, so you just need to make sure it’s something that makes sense to you and any other marketers who will be accessing the PPC account, and that it will differentiate this campaign from any others you create.

Next, choose whether you want your ads to show up in the search network, the display network, or both.

Ads in the search network will show up on the Google search engine results page, as well as on other Google properties. Those in the display network will show up on websites all across the web.


Select Your Language and Geographic Targeting

Next choose your location and language targeting. If your business is local, then you don’t want to waste money on clicks from people in other states or countries. And if you only have a staff that speaks one language, then you’ll want to stick with reaching customers you can communicate with.

google ads set language geographic targeting

Set Your Budget

Now we get to the money side of things. Set your maximum daily budget, as well as the maximum amount of money you’re willing to pay for each click. As you’d expect, the higher you go, the more times your ads will show up and the more visitors you can expect to come to your website.

You can either choose to do the bidding for your ads manually, or you can let Google choose bids for you automatically. The latter option is recommended for everyone but the most experienced of Google Ads users. The Google Ads automated option is programmed to get you the best possible results for the amount you spend, so it’s usually a good choice.

google ads set budget

Provide start and end dates for your campaign, or select None if you’d like the campaign to run indefinitely.


Audience and Extensions

At the bottom of the page, you’ll see a few optional sections. The most important of these are:


1. Audience Targeting

This is where you can define who will see your ad in terms of their general search habits and interests. It’s also the section where you can set up remarketing to show ads to people who have already visited your website.

google ads set audience targeting

2. Extension options

You’ll see a few different extension options. These all give you the chance to add some extra information to your ad, whether it’s including links to additional web pages on your site, adding your phone number, or providing extra details like price or discount offers.  These are a good way to provide important information in a way that stands out and gets the viewer’s attention.

Once you’re done with this page, click Save and Continue.

4. Add Your Keywords

The next page is where you bring in the keyword research you’ve done.

You can set up a number of Ad Groups for each campaign. In each group, you only want to include ads that are focused on a particular product or service so that you can use a specific set of keywords that will be relevant to those ads.

google ads choose keywords

5. Create Your Ads

This is the part where you’ll need to bring your creatives in (or bring your own creative skills to the process). Load the images and copy you want to use for each ad that’s relevant for the keywords in this ad group.

google ads upload images

6. Pay and Launch

When you’ve got everything else set up, you’ll see a red banner over the top of the Google Ads interface letting you know to add your payment information to make your campaigns active.  Click on Fix It and enter your payment information where prompted.

google ads pay and launch campaign

Follow Your Campaigns and Improve

The hard part of getting started is now done, but you still have work to do. Make sure you pay attention to your campaigns and track the analytics Google Ads provides. Use the data available to make changes to your ads, your budget, and your targeting to get more relevant clicks and better conversions over time.

While Google Ads is notable for getting faster results than some other types of online marketing, it’s still true that you’ll get more out of it the longer you do it, as long as you do the work of learning from your campaigns and improving them as you go.

When done well, Google Ads can provide a healthy ROI and bring a lot of new relevant traffic to your website.

Get expert help managing your Google Ads campaigns. Learn more about HostGator’s PPC Advertising services.

Kristen Hicks is an Austin-based freelance content writer and lifelong learner with an ongoing curiosity to learn new things. She uses that curiosity, combined with her experience as a freelance business owner, to write about subjects valuable to small business owners on the HostGator blog. You can find her on Twitter at @atxcopywriter.

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SEO for Images: Your Ultimate Guide and Best Practices Thu, 30 Aug 2018 14:51:12 +0000 The post SEO for Images: Your Ultimate Guide and Best Practices appeared first on HostGator Blog.

Image SEO Best Practices: The Ultimate How-To Guide SEO involves a lot of different parts, so it can be easy...

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Image SEO Best Practices: The Ultimate How-To Guide

SEO involves a lot of different parts, so it can be easy for businesses to overlook some of the smaller steps to practicing good on-site SEO, but every little thing you can do to strengthen your website’s SEO makes a difference – especially if it’s something other sites may be overlooking.

Taking time to optimize your images for SEO is a simple and important step to making your website more competitive in the search engines.

It’s the kind of little thing many businesses let slip through the cracks, which makes it that much more worthwhile for you to do.

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Why Images Are Important for SEO

So much of how we understand SEO is all about text and keywords, but images have a role to play as well. For one thing, they’re extremely important for user experience.

Think about it: if you found yourself on a webpage that looked like a Word doc with nothing but text on a white background, you wouldn’t feel like the website was trustworthy or memorable. In fact, research verifies that people are 80% more likely to read content that includes an image and 64% more likely to remember it afterward.

Images are a big part of how we experience a web page. That matters for SEO because Google’s algorithm pays attention to behavior metrics that reflect user experience, like bounce rates and the amount of time visitors spend on a web page.

But images can also be optimized to more directly help with SEO as well.  Where the average visitor to your page will only see the image itself, search engine crawlers see text behind the image that you can fill in to tell them what you want them to see.


7 Tips to Improve Your SEO for Images

For every image you use on your website, follow these tips to optimize them for the search engines.


1. Use relevant, high-quality images.

This is crucial for the user experience side of SEO. An image that’s unrelated to the content on the page will be confusing for the user, and one that’s blurry or badly cropped will just make your page look bad and unprofessional. Make sure every image you use has a clear relationship to what’s on the page and looks good.

You have to be careful not to use any images that you don’t have the rights to, but you can find lots of resources online that provide free images businesses can use. Commit some time for each page you create and blog post you publish to finding at least one good image to include – bonus points if you can find a few.


2. Customize the filename.

This is one of those steps that’s so easy it’s amazing everyone doesn’t do it.  

Before you add an image to your website, take time to customize the filename. Change it to something that’s relevant to the page and includes one of your target keywords for the page. If your web page is about a backpack product you sell, the image could be named something like brandname-backpack.jpg.

Most visitors will never see the filename, but it gives you a way to provide the search engines a little more information about what’s on the page and the best keywords to associate with it.


3. Use alt tags.

This is another part of the webpage that most visitors won’t see, but search engine crawlers do. You can provide alt text for every image you add to your website that will show up in place of your image if a browser has trouble loading it. This text is one more part of the page that you can use to signal to search engines what the page is about.

Always update the alt text for your images. Include your primary keyword for the page and something descriptive of the image itself. If you use WordPress, there’s an alt text field you can fill in to do this.

how to add image alt text in wordpress

If you prefer to use html, you can add alt=”your alt text” to your image tag.


4. Find the right quality-to-size ratio.

This part’s a little tricky, because you want your images to look really good (see: the “high quality” part of #1), but you don’t want them to be big enough to slow down your website. Site speed is an SEO ranking factor, so if your visitors have to wait a while for a page on your site to load, it’s bad for the user experience and your SEO.

Often the file size of an image is much larger than it needs to be for the size it will show up on your website. If you use a CMS like WordPress, resizing how an image appears on your website after you load it to the CMS is super easy – but it means that you still have the large file size that slows things down on the backend.

You can make your website faster while still displaying images at a high resolution by resizing your image files before you load them to your website. Often this is easy to do with programs that come standard on most computers, like Mac’s Preview program or Microsoft Paint. Or if you have Adobe Photoshop, you can use the “Save for Web” command to help you find the smallest file size that still provides a good resolution.

After resizing, you can still make your image file size smaller without sacrificing quality by compressing them. Check out tools like TinyPNG and JPEGmini to make this process easy.


5. Choose the right file type.

You’ve probably noticed that there are three main types of image files, but you may not really understand the difference between each. Understanding the different file types can help you choose the best one for your needs:

  • JPG is one of the most common file formats because it uses small file sizes and is widely supported. But the image quality isn’t always as good as with PNG files and the format doesn’t support transparent backgrounds, so there are some cases where JPG won’t work.
  • PNG is a file format for images that provides a high resolution and can support a text description of the image that’s good for SEO. The main downside of PNG is that it tends to require larger file sizes than JPG and GIF. It’s often best for complex images and those that include text.  
  • GIF doesn’t support as wide of a color range as the other two, but it can be a good choice for simpler images. It supports small file sizes and transparent backgrounds.

For photos, JPG often works well. For designed graphics, GIF and PNG are more common and if you need a higher quality version, the PNG is the way to go.

different image file types gif vs jpg vs png


6. Add images to your sitemap.

Google encourages website owners to submit a sitemap to them to help them better crawl your pages and get them added to the index. They also allow you to include images in your sitemap or alternately, create a separate image sitemap to submit.

If you use WordPress, there are plugins you can use to generate an image sitemap for you, such as Google XML Sitemap for Images and Undira All Image Sitemap. If you prefer to do it yourself, Google provides information on creating an image sitemap here.

By giving Google clear information about the images on your website, you increase the likelihood of them showing up in Google Image Search, which increases your website’s overall findability.


7. Host images on your own site.

While it may be tempting to host your image on a third-party website like Imgur to save space, doing so involves a real risk. Anytime those sites are overloaded with traffic, your images could fail to load, creating a confusing experience on your website and making your brand look bad.

You’ll be better served by hosting the images on your own website and using the advice provided above to make your image file size smaller so they don’t slow down your web pages any more than necessary. And when you go with a reliable hosting provider, you’ll always know your images (and the rest of your website) will show up as they should for your visitors.


Make the Time for Image SEO

Image SEO is relatively easy, as far as SEO goes. By committing a little extra time to find the right images and optimize them for search every time you add a page to your website, you can give your pages an extra edge in the search engines.

Kristen Hicks is an Austin-based freelance content writer and lifelong learner with an ongoing curiosity to learn new things. She uses that curiosity, combined with her experience as a freelance business owner, to write about subjects valuable to small business owners on the HostGator blog. You can find her on Twitter at @atxcopywriter.

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How To Promote Your New Website With PPC Wed, 29 Aug 2018 21:23:10 +0000 The post How To Promote Your New Website With PPC appeared first on HostGator Blog.

How To Promote Your New Website Using Search & Social PPC Your website’s up. You’re confident it’s awesome. But so...

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How To Promote Your New Website Using Search & Social PPC

Your website’s up. You’re confident it’s awesome. But so far every time you check your analytics it’s just…crickets.

You’re learning the hard lesson that everyone with a website faces early on: it’s hard to get your site in front of people on the overcrowded web.

You know that people would like what they see on your website if only they could find it. So how do you get them to take that first step of visiting a website they don’t know about yet?

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Why You Should Promote Your Website with PPC

Pay-per-click marketing (PPC) is one of the most effective methods of getting your website in front of people. PPC is a good choice for a lot of businesses for a few compelling reasons:

  • It has a huge reach. Both Google and social media PPC can get you in front of large audiences. The Google search engine has billions of users each day and social media platforms have millions of users. A big goal of marketing is to be where your audience is. PPC advertising gets you there.
  • It provides useful targeting options. All your main PPC options allow you to specify who will see your ads based on factors like context (e.g. when they’re looking for what you sell), demographic data, and consumer interests and behavior. That gives you the power to get your ads in front of the right people at the right time.
  • PPC platforms provide thorough analytics. A common challenge marketers have historically faced is finding a way to prove the results of their marketing efforts. With PPC, you have helpful analytics that show how well your ads and campaigns are performing, to the point of being able to determine ROI.
  • It offers a strong ROI. Speaking of ROI, businesses on average make $8 back for every $1 they spend on Google PPC. In other words, PPC ads are effective and likely to make you money.


The Types of PPC Marketing

When people talk about PPC marketing, they’re talking about two potential channels: search and social PPC.


Search PPC

PPC is often used as shorthand to describe search advertising, particularly on Google, but in some cases also on Bing or Yahoo.

This includes all the ads that show up on the search results pages for the search engines.

google ppc search results yahoo ppc search resultsbing ppc search results
For Google PPC, it also includes the ads that show up on all their other properties (such as YouTube and Gmail) and on the 2 million websites included in the Google Display Network.

google display network gmail google display network youtube

Social PPC

The other main type of PPC advertising is that available on social media networks.  All the main social media platforms offer advertising options, but only a few offer PPC options. You can find PPC advertising options on:

(Note: YouTube also offers PPC advertising, but it does so as part of the Google Ads platform).


8 Best Practices for Promoting Your Website With PPC

PPC marketing has the potential to yield great results, but it’s not guaranteed. As with any other type of marketing, you have to do it well. Here are some of the most important best practices to bring to your PPC advertising.


1. Do keyword research.

This is especially important for search marketing, but it also comes into play for social PPC. Part of what makes PPC advertising so valuable is that you can make sure your ads show up at the moment people are looking for what you sell. But you can’t assume you know what terms people will use to look for your products or services.

Keyword research will both reveal the specific language that your target audience uses to find the kinds of items you sell and topics you cover on your website, and will reveal how competitive different words and phrases are. Because PPC marketing uses a bidding process, the popularity of keywords is directly related to how much you’ll spend.

A good PPC strategy requires not only finding the most relevant keywords for your ads, but also figuring out which keywords deliver the best value for the cost so you can improve your ROI over time.


2. Research your audience.

Most businesses don’t need to appeal to everyone. You need to reach the specific people most likely to care about your content and buy your products. PPC advertising provides the option of targeting your ads so they show up for specific audiences based on factors like:

  •      Gender
  •      Age
  •      Interests
  •      Consumer behavior
  •      Job title
  •      Salary range

The targeting options available on each platform are different, but you pretty much always have some option for limiting who will see your ads based on relevance.

To effectively use these targeting options, you need to understand who you want to reach. Take time to do market research into who’s buying your products, how they shop, what other things they like, and where they hang out online. Bringing that information into your PPC advertising will help you reach the right people to get better results.


3. Use PPC to support your other marketing efforts.

A good online marketing strategy involves using a mix of tactics in a way where they all support each other so you get more out of each. PPC shouldn’t be treated as a replacement for content marketing, SEO, or social media marketing. Instead, you can use it to bolster those other efforts.

Search ads can promote your content as well as your products. Social ads can help you get more reach and traction for the messages you share on your social media accounts and help you gain new followers. And when you use PPC to bring more traffic to your website, it can help with SEO ranking factors like the amount of time people spend on your page or how often people link back to it (you need visitors before you can achieve either of those things).

Before you launch PPC campaigns, take some time to figure out how they can strengthen the rest of your marketing strategy. Talk to other marketing specialists at your company (if relevant) and combine your efforts for better results all around.


4. Write strong ads.

Your ads need to do a good job of selling people on the decision to click. When writing or designing the ad, think carefully about what’s in it for your target audience. What problems will your product or content help them solve? In some cases, you may want to sweeten the deal by using your ad to offer a special discount.

Always include a strong CTA (call to action) in the ad to get them to take that step of clicking. Try out a few different CTAs to get a feel for which ones get your audience to click.


5. Build strong landing pages.

All of your PPC ads will point people back to your website, but you need to decide with each ad where specifically the person that clicks will end up on your website. For your ads to achieve the results you most want, the page your ads point to should always be:

1. Relevant to the ad. If your ad is promising a great discount on your most popular product and the page it lands on doesn’t have a matching discount, or worse, doesn’t even show the product in the ad, your visitors are going to be confused and leave unsatisfied.

You should always make sure the web page people land on directly matches what’s being promised in the ad.

2. Designed to drive the action you want. All your ads will be designed to get people to click, but you’ll also want an end goal in mind beyond that. What do you want the visitor to do when they get to the website? In some cases that may be to stick around and spend some time on your website, in others it could be to make a purchase or sign up for your email list.

Figure out what you want the end result to be for every ad and make sure the web page it points to is optimized for that goal.

Sometimes, the right page for an ad will be one you already have on your website, such as a product page or a piece of content you’re using PPC to promote. In other cases, you’ll want to create a new landing page based on what your research suggests people will respond best to in your PPC campaign.

Pro tip: Your home page will rarely be a good choice for a PPC ad. You’ll generally want to go with something more specific.


6. Test your ads.

PPC ads don’t give you much space to work with, so figuring out just the right combination of words and/or images is difficult. The only way for you to really know which of your ads are not only driving the most traffic your way but, more importantly, providing the best ROI, is to test out different ads.

Try out different wording, designs, and CTAs and see how different combinations of them work together. You’ll gain knowledge of what your target audience responds best to by comparing the results of different ads you try.


7. Use remarketing.

You know how sometimes when you’re reading an article on your favorite website you notice an ad for a product you were just looking at yesterday? That’s remarketing. And you can use it to your advantage with PPC.

Your most valuable leads are the people that already have some kind of relationship with you – whether they’re loyal customers who have ordered from you three times before, or someone who just visited your website once. You know those people are already interested.

PPC marketing allows you to target ads to people who have already visited your website. You can even get as specific as showing them an ad based on the pages or items they viewed while there. It’s a powerful way to recapture the attention of someone who’s already shown interest and turn leads into customers.  


8. Monitor and improve your campaigns.

When you start using PPC advertising, you’ll have to make some guesses about what will work. But the longer you do it, the better you’ll be able to grasp what your target audience responds to and how to create and target ads just so to get the best possible results.

But that only works if you take the time to actively review the analytics the PPC platforms provide in order to monitor what’s working and why. Commit time each day or week to checking in on your campaigns and analyzing the results.

Based on your analysis, make changes to your ads and campaigns that will get you better results (or provide you more useful data to help you make better changes tomorrow).

The powerful analytics the platforms provide are one of the most valuable parts of doing PPC marketing. You can always count on gaining insights to help your money go further.


Determine Your PPC Strategy

All the work you put into your website will only pay off if you can get people to visit. If you’re worried about that first crucial step of ensuring people can find you, PPC marketing is one of the most affordable and effective ways to promote your new website to interested audiences.

Discover the best PPC strategy for your website. Contact HostGator’s PPC experts for help brainstorming today.

Kristen Hicks is an Austin-based freelance content writer and lifelong learner with an ongoing curiosity to learn new things. She uses that curiosity, combined with her experience as a freelance business owner, to write about subjects valuable to small business owners on the HostGator blog. You can find her on Twitter at @atxcopywriter.

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Finding the Best E-Commerce Marketplaces for Your Online Store Wed, 29 Aug 2018 20:44:02 +0000 The post Finding the Best E-Commerce Marketplaces for Your Online Store appeared first on HostGator Blog.

Why Promote Your Online Store on E-Commerce Marketplaces? A website and an online store are musts for e-commerce, but they’re...

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Why Promote Your Online Store on E-Commerce Marketplaces?

A website and an online store are musts for e-commerce, but they’re also only a good start.

Industry analysts say small online retailers also need to establish a presence on multiple marketplaces to stay competitive and reach more potential customers.

You have more marketplace options than you may realize—and because the marketplace marketplace is so competitive, many marketplaces work hard to make selling, shipping, and marketing easier for their merchants.

HostGator Website BuilderWhy Should You Sell on Multiple E-commerce Marketplaces?

Nearly all consumers—97%, as of June 2017—search on marketplaces at least some of the time.

Avoiding marketplaces means missing out on product searches by virtually all online shoppers. Not only that, but about a third of shoppers search on marketplaces before heading to a retailer’s own online shop, which means marketplace accounts are marketing tools as well as points of purchase.

So signing up your store for one of the big marketplaces like Amazon or eBay should be all you need to do, right? Probably not.

The marketplace industry is growing, with new, niche, and international options coming online all the time. For example, Tokyo-based Mercari’s June IPO raised $1.2 billion and it’s planning to expand its current US peer-to-peer market.

Limiting yourself to one marketplace limits your exposure to potential buyers. Sticking with big marketplaces also means ignoring smaller marketplaces that may cater better to your audience.

And each marketplace has its pros and cons – one may have more visitors overall, while in another your shop has less competition. Your shop doesn’t need to (and couldn’t possibly be) on every marketplace, but being on the right marketplaces for your business is important.


Major E-commerce Marketplaces

Here’s a quick rundown of some of the largest and best-known marketplaces along with a few niche options and some peer-to-peer platforms that can also work for certain types of small business.


1. Amazon Marketplace

Amazon Marketplace reaches 150 million unique visitors in the US each month, plus more abroad. The marketplace offers businesses who pay a base monthly rate of $39.99 more support and options than individual Amazon sellers receive, like payment processing, geolocation-based offers, and fulfillment.


2. Walmart Marketplace

Walmart Marketplace reaches 110 million monthly visitors and only charges referral fees on each sale. Those fees range from 6% for personal computers to 20% for jewelry, with everything else at eight, 12, or 15%. Store owners have to pass Walmart Marketplace’s approval process, which can take up to two weeks.


3. Ebay

Ebay had 113 unique US visitors a month in late 2017. Like Amazon, eBay gives individual sellers and businesses a platform for selling. Businesses can choose from a range of monthly plans that include a set number of listings, from a couple hundred (like my tiny resale shop where I offload thrift-store finds) to several thousand. Store subscriptions come with marketing tools, store customization capabilities, and reports.


4. Etsy

Etsy, which started as a marketplace for crafters and artisans, reaches some 19 million shoppers. It just announced changes that include new paid plans for shop owners that come with more tools than the free plan. Etsy focuses on handmade goods, vintage, craft supplies, and items manufactured in compliance with the company’s policies. Etsy also connects retail buyers with sellers that have the capacity to produce wholesale lots.


Other US Marketplaces

Besides the “big three” marketplaces, you have other options.

  • Japan-based Rakuten runs a US-only marketplace for US sellers that charges monthly fees plus a commission and fee on each sale.
  • Sears runs a marketplace with a similar fee structure.
  • Tech marketplace Newegg operates in 50 countries and offers tiered membership plans, discounted fulfillment help, and promotion tools.
  • Bonanza is a smaller marketplace that excels at getting seller’s wares to rank high in Google search results through careful optimization and helps sellers manage their inventory across marketplaces.


International Marketplaces

If your business is already thriving at home, it may be time to look for growth overseas. Depending on demand in foreign markets and your budget for cross-border selling costs, expanding into Latin America and Asia may be doable.


1. MercadoLibre

MercadoLibre is the biggest online marketplace in Latin America, and it offers shipping and translation support for merchants outside the region who want to reach its 33 million customers. Approved merchants pay a 16% commission on sales, with no listing fees, but there is a $500 minimum for wire transfers to merchant bank accounts.


2. Alibaba

Alibaba is China’s largest operator of online marketplaces, with more than 440 million customers. The company’s Tmall Global platform is open to US merchants who pay commissions on sales plus yearly fees that range from $5,000 to $10,000 depending on the category, so it’s a viable choice only for small businesses with budgets that can accommodate the fees.


Other Marketplace Options

There’s not quite a marketplace for every type of product, but there are a lot:

  • For runway designer clothing resale, there’s TheRealReal.
  • For fine jewelry and watches, TrueFacet.
  • Partsmarket is one of several auto parts marketplaces.
  • Reverb caters to musicians looking to buy or sell instruments and gear.

Whatever you sell, check to see if there’s an active, specialized marketplace for it.


How to Track All Your E-commerce Marketplaces

As you add marketplaces, be sure to track your traffic and sales in each new channel, so you can see which of your new channels is delivering the best results.

If your business is very small and you’re only selling on a couple of marketplaces, you may be tempted to try to manually track your sales across all your channels. At best, this is not the highest and best use of your time as a business owner. It’s a shortcut to unhappy shoppers if someone buys the last of an item in your store only to learn that it’s actually out of stock because a customer on another marketplace already snagged it.

It’s a better idea to start using multichannel management tools when you set up your marketplace accounts, so your inventory, fulfillment, and shipping are synced from the start. If you’re just adding a couple of marketplaces, your e-commerce service may have plugins available so you can manage everything from your shop dashboard.

Another option is a third-party service like ChannelUnity or SellerDynamics that offers integrations among a dozen or more different platforms and marketplaces.


Choosing E-Commerce Marketplace for Your Online Store

The bottom line on marketplaces is that they’re where the customers are these days. Research your customers to find out which marketplaces they spend their time on, look into fees and selling requirements, and go meet your audience where they like to shop.

Casey Kelly-Barton is an Austin-based freelancer who enjoys writing about business development and marketing, e-commerce payments and fraud prevention, and travel.

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How to Avoid Shopping Cart Abandonment on Your eCommerce Site Mon, 27 Aug 2018 23:41:38 +0000 The post How to Avoid Shopping Cart Abandonment on Your eCommerce Site appeared first on HostGator Blog.

Shopping Cart Abandonment: The Bane of eCommerce If brick-and-mortar shoppers ditched carts full of stuff the way online shoppers do,...

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Shopping Cart Abandonment: The Bane of eCommerce

If brick-and-mortar shoppers ditched carts full of stuff the way online shoppers do, most big box store checkout lines would be a deserted, impossible-to-navigate mess. Around 70% of eCommerce shopping carts with products in them are abandoned by shoppers before checkout.

Why do shoppers do this, and how can your store make them more likely to buy what they put in their carts?


8 Tips to Reduce Shopping Cart Abandonment

Here’s a checklist of improvements that can make more of those loaded carts convert.


1. Invest in a great mobile customer experience.

More than half of the web’s traffic comes from mobile devices, and consumers are getting comfortable with shopping on their phones. Or they would, if it were easier.

That 70% average figure for cart abandonment is for desktop users. For mobile users, the cart abandonment rate is more like 85%.

Why? Pop-ups, slow page load times, and requirements to key in lots of personal data—these are all hassles even for desktop shoppers who have a mouse and keyboard and no data plan limits to deal with.

For mobile shoppers, those hurdles are often roadblocks. Find out how to make your online store more mobile-friendly.


2. Make your product pages work smarter and harder.

Customers who are ready to buy right away tend to search for specific products rather than particular stores. That means when they click on a search result for “alligator dog costume,” they’ll go straight to your product page without ever seeing your homepage. But if all they see on that page is a pup in a gator suit, they make not follow through on their intent to purchase.

To build trust and make their decision easier, include a simple summary of your shop’s shipping and return policies, a link to live help, and related products so they can get in, get their gator costume, and get back to their busy lives. does this by promoting a shipping deal high up on its product pages, just below the product photo and price. When users scroll down, they also see a short written description, a horizontal slider gallery of related costumes, reviews, and finally, a customer service number and email link.

product page ecommerce chewy related products page ecommerce site  customer reviews on product page for ecommerce site

3. Make returns easy and free.

Customers are more likely to buy if they know they can return it easily. That’s especially true for clothing, shoes, and expensive items like jewelry. Tiffany & Co. tops each page on their mobile site with a note about their “complimentary shipping and returns on all orders.” That reassures customers that they can go ahead and make that splashy gift purchase; if it doesn’t work out, they can always return it.

Small store owners sometimes say they can’t afford to offer free returns, but as more e-retailers get on board, sellers who don’t offer free returns will be at a competitive disadvantage. A better approach is to figure out how to adjust your product pricing to factor in the cost of return shipping.


4. Make live support easy and immediate.

Sharing your customer service phone number and email addresses is always a good idea, but navigating back and forth on a smartphone between a product screen and a phone call or email is a hassle.

If customers have questions about something while they’re shopping on their phones, an on-screen live chat is easier than a phone call and much faster than email, meaning customers are more likely to get the info they need before they leave your site and their cart behind.

Pura Vida Bracelets does a good job with live CS chat. Shoppers can tap the chat bubble that floats on product screens to ask questions and get answers.

ecommerce live chat on mobile live chat for mobile ecommerce site

5. Automatically apply promo codes.

Don’t make your shoppers backtrack during checkout or navigate away to an aggregator site looking for coupon codes. That’s how you lose conversions as people get frustrated, get distracted, or find a better deal somewhere else.

Instead, try an approach like Vistaprint’s. Mobile shoppers see that the current promo code has been applied to their purchases as soon as they land on the site, with an option to shop with a different promo code also on the landing page.

automatically apply promo code banner on ecommerce mobile site

6. Make checkout ridiculously simple.

Give shoppers the option to check out as guests, rather than forcing them to create an account.

I can’t count the number of times I’ve been stopped from making a mobile purchase with a new merchant at the mandatory “create an account” step. That’s when I remember that Amazon already has my info and probably also the item I’m trying to buy, so I’m gone.

Letting your shoppers validate their identity and pay with a few taps or swipes raises the likelihood of closing the sale. Consider allowing shoppers to sign in with Facebook or importing their PayPal shipping information to save time.

Anthropologie’s mobile site, for example, lets shoppers opt into the full mobile checkout process or just go directly to PayPal:

allow paypal option at checkout for mobile ecommerce site

7. Follow up on abandoned carts.

A ditched cart doesn’t have to be the end of the story. Sometimes shoppers intend to follow up but get distracted. A reminder and an offer can bring them back.

You can do this through ad retargeting, follow-up emails, and Facebook Messenger if you’re using it for customer service. Choose only one method per cart, though, and limit the number of follow-ups per cart. No one wants to be stalked by a garden shed or pelted with multiple emails.


8. Track your results.

How will you know if your plan to reduce cart abandonment is working? Metrics! Get a benchmark average for daily or weekly cart abandonments versus completed orders before you begin.

Then continue to track those numbers as you make improvements to your site, product pages, policies, support, promo codes, checkout process, and follow-up efforts.

Over time, as your store experience gets easier for your customers, you should see fewer deserted carts and higher conversion rates.

Casey Kelly-Barton is an Austin-based freelancer who enjoys writing about business development and marketing, e-commerce payments and fraud prevention, and travel.

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