Thursday, October 14, 2010

3 Bad SEO Techniques

As a StoresOnline merchant looking to boost your site’s search ranking, you’ll see a lot of advice out there about how to build links and optimize your Web site for search engines. Some of it is skewed by people who want your money. We all know that SEO and link-building are important because they increase our search engine rankings, but not if we do it the wrong way. Here are three paths you should definitely avoid.
1.     Slack Off. Whether out of frustration, laziness, or poor follow-through, the surest way to fail at link-building is to not do it. You need to think of link-building like gardening. A garden has to be tended and cared for on an ongoing basis in order for it to yield its crop. The same is true of link-building. You can’t just do a bunch of it and forget about it. Spend a set amount of time each week just link-building.

2.      Write For Search Engines. Search engines are getting smarter and smarter. Every day they’re getting better at detecting when they’re being played. That means if you clutter your web pages with repetitive terms designed to snag the attention of search engines, the likelihood that it will ring the bells of those search engines is decreasing rapidly.

Even if that weren’t true, consider what happens when visitors come to your StoresOnline Web site. It’s easy to see when a page has been written for search engines and not people. The result is a page that turns people off and gives you a huge bounce rate; i.e. people take one look at your page and leave within seconds.

Your StoresOnline Web site has to appeal to the people who visit it. A high traffic rate does little good if your bounce rate is sky high. Write your Web copy with the goal of appealing to your customers. Then, go back and see where you can add in your chosen search terms without hurting the effectiveness of your copy.

3.      Pay For Linkbacks. You’ll see companies that offer to give you bunches—even hundreds—of linkbacks for a fee. Stay away. Because search engines are getting smarter, they can tell when a site has had this done. It sees a load of irrelevant linkbacks and the result is a lower search ranking. So not only does it not work, but you will have paid to hurt your search ranking.

That said, there are also companies who can provide relevant back-links. These companies have real live people who do their link-building, not automated software “bots”. A live person can make sure the links he builds are relevant to the site they link to. Those are the kinds of links that boost search rank.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

8 Golden Advertising Rules for StoresOnline Merchants

StoresOnline Merchants are always looking for new ways to advertise and market their online businesses. There was a message from that outlined “8 Golden Rules for Advertising in the Digital Age” by Alan H. Gerson. Here is an excerpt from the article:

1. Capture interest and attention
Advertising is, of course, a specific communication strategy designed to shape consumer action towards, or opinions about, particular products or services. Advertising, like every other communication strategy, will not and cannot work unless it finds an audience and actually delivers its message.

2. Extend engagement
Engagement is a new hot metric. In the battle for the attention of the consumer, "time spent" is a valuable indication of whether the advertising communication has been successful, and delivering an ad impression does not necessarily equate to consumer attention and interest.

3. Activate toward client goals
Today, even if branding is the main objective, some sort of measurable action by the consumer that can be translated into a concrete return on the advertising investment is almost always a parallel goal.

4. Branding and brand building
All advertising can and should reinforce brand values or brand positioning, even if its primary goal is more directly sales oriented.

5. Reinforce recall and retention
The multiplicity of channels, messages, and media can make it harder to make advertising messages stand out enough to be remembered or acted upon. Nevertheless, fostering message recall and retention remains a central goal of any advertising campaign.

6. Promote intention to purchase
The marketing chain for most products and services today is complex and multi-channel. Products are offered for sale through retail stores, through networks of distributors, through online stores, and in a variety of both online and offline direct messaging to former or potential customers. Advertising messages, wherever and however they are made or delivered, need to support the communication of product benefits, features, advantages, and uses. Especially in today's economy, they need to support the communication of specific price and value messages and incentive offers.

7. Build an opt-in and viral database
One key difference between traditional media and digital media is the ability of digital media to readily identify its audience members and establish a two-way communication with willing individuals in that audience. Building a customer database that has fully opted in creates a valuable resource for all companies that can and should be used to inform, reward, thank and re-sell customers, increasing the lifetime value of that customer. Permission-based marketing was one of the first breakthrough concepts in digital marketing, and it remains a very valuable goal of advertising today.

8. Create differentiation in the marketplace
Ultimately, the last goal of advertising I want to discuss is differentiation in the marketplace, which is an umbrella principle closely related to No. 1: Capturing interest and attention.

These insightful tips give you a checklist to consider as you advertise for your StoresOnline website.

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

StoresOnline Merchants Plan SEO Success for 2009

As 2008 wraps up, StoresOnline would like to thank the many StoresOnline Employees and StoresOnline Merchants who have contributed their time, talents, and positive energy to the cause of online entrepreneurship.

The New 2009 Year is before us. If you haven't made any New Year's Resolutions, there is still time. But for those of you StoresOnline Merchants who are busy thinking of what you can do to further boost your online business, let us direct you to the Google SEO Starter Guide. Every StoresOnline Site can use an SEO site audit to start the New Year off right.

Although Google is not the only search engine out there, it is an undeniable powerhouse for online search. Here is what Google has to say about their SEO Starter Guide:

"Webmasters often ask us at conferences or in the Webmaster Help Group, "What are some simple ways that I can improve my website's performance in Google?" There are lots of possible answers to this question, and a wealth of search engine optimization information on the web, so much that it can be intimidating for newer webmasters or those unfamiliar with the topic. We thought it'd be useful to create a compact guide that lists some best practices that teams within Google and external webmasters alike can follow that could improve their sites' crawlability and indexing.

Our Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide covers around a dozen common areas that webmasters might consider optimizing. We felt that these areas (like improving title and description meta tags, URL structure, site navigation, content creation, anchor text, and more) would apply to webmasters of all experience levels and sites of all sizes and types. Throughout the guide, we also worked in many illustrations, pitfalls to avoid, and links to other resources that help expand our explanation of the topics. We plan on updating the guide at regular intervals with new optimization suggestions and to keep the technical advice current."

If you haven't read through the Google Search Engine Optmization Starter Guide, click here to download your copy today. StoresOnline wishes you a happy New Year!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Learn More About the StoresOnlinePro Software has excellent information for StoresOnline Merchants and other online entrepreneurs. If you are interested in learning why the StoresOnline Pro or StoresOnline Express software is so unique, you’ll definitely want to check out. Here is a tidbit of information from

An Overview of the StoresOnlinePro Website Builder
StoresOnline offers a system where a user can build, manage, and maintain a website without knowing or learning HTML or web programming. Storesonline has built their system to be as simple to use as possible. Learn about the Main Menu, Ordering Rules, Customer Database more>>>

StoresOnline Linking Tools and Resources
The Storesonline linking tools allow a user to simply and easily create multiple links, with a simple selection. You easily create internal links to products, pages, or forms, or create external more>>>

StoresOnline Merchants Receive World Class Customer Support
Storesonline takes a proactive approach to assisting its customers in every way possible. Customer Support is available by telephone, chat, or email. More information about Storesonline Customer Support is more>>>

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

StoresOnline Customer Service Holiday Hours

In observance of Christmas and New Years, starting at 12:01am Mountain Time on Tuesday 12/24/2008 until Friday 12/26/2008 at 6:00am Mountin Time and starting at 12:01am Mountain Time on Wedneday 12/31/2008 until Thursday 1/1/2009 at 6:00am Mountain Time we will not offer chat support.

Telephone Customer support will be closed on Wednesday 12/24/2008 through Thurday 12/26/2008. Telephone Customer Support will be available again on Friday 12/26/2008. Telephone Customer support will also be closed on Thursday 1/1/2009. Telephone Customer Support will be available again on Friday 1/2/2009.

We will, however, be checking an emergency email system every few hours during this time. Any email that is emergency related, should be directed to Please note that any "non-emergency" email will be responded to within 72 hours of returning back to the office.

Thanks for your understanding as we allow our support staff to spend the Holidays with their families.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

StoresOnline Press Release Announcement

iMergent Announces Board and Management Changes

OREM, Utah, December 11, 2008 - iMergent, Inc., (AMEX: IIG) a leading provider of eCommerce software for small businesses and entrepreneurs, announced Brandon Lewis resigned as the company’s president and chief operating officer, effective March 9, 2009. Lewis also resigned as a director effective immediately, and the board will consist of six members.

“I am very appreciative of Brandon’s years of dedicated service to iMergent,” stated Steven G. Mihaylo, CEO of iMergent. “His commitment and vision were instrumental in iMergent’s development and growth over the past several years. I wish him all the best in his future endeavors.”

About iMergent
iMergent provides eCommerce solutions to entrepreneurs and small businesses enabling them to market and sell their business products or ideas via the Internet. Headquartered in Orem, Utah, the company sells its proprietary StoresOnline software and training services, which help users build successful Internet strategies to market products, accept online orders, analyze marketing performance, and manage pricing and customers. In addition to software, iMergent offers website development, web hosting and marketing products. iMergent typically reaches its target audience through a concentrated direct marketing effort to fill Preview Sessions, in which a StoresOnline expert reviews the product opportunities and costs as well as offers StoresOnline Express for sale. These sessions lead to a follow-up Workshop Conference, where product and technology experts train potential users on the software and sell upgrades to StoresOnline Pro and StoresOnline Platinum. iMergent, Inc. and StoresOnline are trademarks of iMergent, Inc.

Company Contact:
Steven G. Mihaylo, CEO
iMergent, Inc.

Investor Relations Contact:
Kirsten Chapman
Lippert/Heilshorn & Associates

For more information about this press release, click here.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

StoresOnline Merchants & Google Alerts

StoresOnline Merchants if you aren't using Google Alerts, now is the time to get started. Google Alerts will assist you as you track a specific keyword or key term that you are focusing on. With Google Alerts, when the specific keyword is written about on the Internet, Google Alerts will send you and email with the keyword highlighted as well as the source of the new information.

StoresOnline teams are aware of the benefits of Google Alerts. We use Google Alerts to watch for news about StoresOnline. Today I received this Google Alert:

An Online Business with StoresOnline Express
By Online Consumer Solutions
StoresOnline Express allows you to create and maintain an eCommerce-enabled website with simplicity and ease. Simply gather content, design your site, publish your StoresOnline Express website to the Internet, and allow customers to
...Online Consumer Solutions for... -

This write up on this blog highlighted the StoresOnline Inside Sales website. As per the blog post, the StoresOnline Express is being offered on this site for $50.00. As you can see, using Google Alerts helps provide you additional resources that will help you keep a finger on the pulse of news about your StoresOnline site or business. Not only did we get new StoresOnline information to share with you, we also were able to show you one of the benefits of using Google Alerts.

Monday, December 1, 2008

StoresOnline SEO Tip: Link Building 101

StoresOnline Merchants are constantly researching ways to build their websites organically. Some of the best advice that StoresOnline can offer Merchants is to make time to work on some basic aspects of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) such as making sure your Meta data is done right and that you are adding fresh, keyword relevant content to your StoresOnline website.

Another very important SEO aspect that you need to plan for is building links to your website. There are many different types of information out on the Internet about link building “do’s and don’ts” however a great resource that StoresOnline Merchants might want to check out is forums. As an illustration of the type of information that you can find, here is a bit of a post about how to get more quality links to your StoresOnline website:

1. Build a “101 list”. These get Dugg all the time, and often become “authority documents”. People can’t resist linking to these.

2. Create 10 easy tips to help you [insert topic here] articles. Again, these are exceptionally easy to link to.

3. Create extensive resource lists for a specific topic

4. Create a list of the top 10 myths for a specific category.

5. Create a list of gurus/experts. If you impress the people listed well enough, or find a way to make your project look somewhat official, the gurus may end up linking to your site or saying thanks.

6. Make your content easy to understand so many people can understand and spread your message.

7. Put some effort in to minimize grammatical or spelling errors, especially if you need authoritative people like librarians to link to your site.

8. Have an easily accessible privacy policy and about section so your site seems more trustworthy. Including a picture of yourself may also help build your authority.

9. Buy relevant traffic with a pay per click campaign. Relevant traffic will get your site more visitors and brand exposure. When people come to your site, regardless of the channel in which they found it, there is a possibility that they will link to you.News & Syndication.

10. Syndicate an article at EzineArticles, GoArticles, iSnare, etc. The great thing about good article sites is that their article pages actually rank highly and send highly qualified traffic.

11. Submit an article to industry news site. Have an SEO site? Write an article and submit to WebProNews. Have a site about BLANK? Submit to

12. Syndicate a press release. Take the time to make it compelling and newsworthy. Email it to some handpicked journalists and bloggers. Personalize the email message. For good measure, submit it to PRWeb, PRLeap, etc.

With these tips on your side, a StoresOnline Merchant can avoid wasting precious time and effort on link strategies that might not be worth the work. StoresOnline wishe you the best as you continue to marketing your StoresOnline website.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

StoresOnline Merchants Read Best Practices for CRM

There are thousands and thousands of websites that will offer you advice on how StoresOnline Merchants can best utilize Relationship Marketing to create loyalty within their customer base. StoresOnline knows that you want to know what you can do to enrich and grow the relationship between your StoresOnline business and your customers. Here is a link to a white paper entitled "Best Practices for Relationship Marketing" by

Here is a brief overview of what the white paper offers:

Today, it’s all about more. More consumer control, more channels, more media and more money spent online. Because the online channel gives consumers more options to choose from, organizations face a big challenge: when customers can visit any site at any time, what will make them loyal and keep them coming back? According to Frederick Reichheld of Bain & Company:

• Businesses in many industries may lose up to 50% of their customers over a five year period.

• Studies have shown it’s 6 to 7 times more expensive to acquire a new customer than it is to retain a current customer.

• As little as a 5% increase in customer retention can increase profits by 25 to 95%.
Yet many businesses are still focused only on customer acquisition and see customers from the fragmented view of individual transactions.

StoresOnline Merchants can download this whitepaper by clicking here. We wish you the best of luck as we move into the busy holiday shopping season.

Monday, November 24, 2008

StoresOnline & iMergent Have a New CEO

We want to keep you StoresOnline Merchants up to date on the most recent changes at StoresOnline. Many of you know that iMergent is the parent company of StoresOnline. A couple of weeks ago, a new CEO of iMergent was named. His name is Mr. Steven G. Mihaylo. Here is a news story we found that we thought you StoresOnline Merchants would want to read:

iMergent, Inc. a leading provider of eCommerce software for small businesses and entrepreneurs, announced changes to its management and board. Donald L. Danks resigned as CEO and as a director; he will become a consultant to the company. Steven G. Mihaylo assumed the role of CEO and has been appointed to the board of directors. The total board count remains six members.

Todd A. Goergen, Chairman of iMergent, stated, "The board is committed to driving iMergent's long-term growth and shareholder value. We are excited to welcome Steve who will be leading our company and exploring additional revenue opportunities in small-to-medium enterprise (SME) initiatives."

"In addition, we thank Don for his valued contribution as iMergent grew from less than $50 million in 2003 annual sales to exceed $125 million in fiscal 2008 under his leadership. Don will continue to assist management as a consultant in the area of investor relations," concluded Goergen.

Mihaylo, 64, is a retired chairman and chief executive officer of Inter-Tel, Incorporated, which he founded in 1969. He led the Inter-Tel evolution from providing business telephone systems to offering complete managed services and software that help businesses facilitate communication and increase customer service and productivity. Before selling Inter-Tel to Mitel for $720 million in 2007, Mihaylo grew the business to nearly $500 million in annual sales.

Mihaylo earned an honorary PhD from California State University - Fullerton and received a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration in Accounting & Finance from the university in 1969. He has served on boards of numerous community organizations including the Arizona Heart Foundation, Junior Achievement of Arizona, Arizona Museum of Science and Technology and the Arizona State University College of Business Dean's Council of 100. Committed to education, Mihaylo is involved with the Karl Eller College of Management at the University of Arizona and has served on the advisory board of Junior Achievement of Central Arizona for over 25 years, as a member of the board of directors of the Big Bear High School Education Foundation and on the Dean's Advisory Board of CSU-Fullerton.

For more information and news about the latest changes at StoresOnline, please feel free to visit the StoresOnline Press Release Blog.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Another Great StoresOnline Merchant Resource

We usually bring our StoresOnline Merchants news about Search Engine Optimization and other helpful online business tips. We came across this website, that has a lot of great StoresOnline Merchant information. There is a little bit of everything here: from SEO tips to Internet Marketing advice.

Here is an article that might help StoresOnline Merchants as strategically reorganize their internet marketing efforts in preparation for the holiday season:

StoresOnline Merchants Internet Marketing Tips
Injecting Internet Marketing Into Your Marketing Mix

A StoresOnline Website and online presence is one aspect of the marketing mix for a business. For the small to medium business, there is no reason for a StoresOnline Website to be the sole method of marketing – but by integrating a StoresOnline Website into your marketing plan you can drive new leads and generate new business that you wouldn't ordinarily reach using a single avenue of advertising. Web Address Inclusion Your StoresOnline Website can act as a point of reference for all of your leads and existing customers. Include your web address in all forms of your offline communication.

If you post physical products, ensure that the packing slips and invoices have the URL of your StoresOnline Website in a prominent position. Your StoresOnline Website itself can be used to answer many questions that customers might have, reducing the time and even resource needed to respond to problems and questions posed by buyers.

StoresOnline Internet Marketing Idea 1
Optimizing Landing Pages For On And Offline Leads

With any form of advertising it is vital to optimize your web landing pages. Optimizing a landing page means providing the content that your visitors expect. You should direct visitors to the most appropriate page on your StoresOnline Website to answer their questions or to make a sale. If you use direct mail advertising and are promoting a specific product then direct visitors to the purchase page for that product. If you are offering your StoresOnline Website as a place to get answers to questions or to resolve issues, direct them to the knowledge base or customer service page.

StoresOnline Internet Marketing Idea 2
Using Online Advertising To Advertise Offline

Business While some businesses are run predominantly online, many StoresOnline Websites are used to promote a bricks-and-mortar business. Whatever the purpose of your business, a StoresOnline Website usually offers some form of advantage. The Internet is a global marketplace and provides a genuinely affordable method to promote even the smallest business. Very few other methods level the playing field so clearly between small businesses and large corporations.

StoresOnline Internet Marketing Idea 3
Using Other Forms Of Offline Advertising In Your Advertising Mix

Newspaper and radio advertising provide a very direct form of marketing. Few StoresOnline Websites can realistically afford television advertising but flyers, direct mail, and less expensive advertising methods are a genuinely viable alternative. Again, the key to success in using these forms of advertising is integrating them within your online marketing mix. Only through good integration, directing visitors to the most appropriate page, and optimizing that landing page.

StoresOnline Internet Marketing Summary
Every business requires a good marketing mix. As well as considering the various forms of online marketing, such as SEO and PPC, the StoresOnline Website owner should consider integrating offline advertising into their mix. Direct prospective leads to pre-sell and sales pages to improve conversion rates or, alternatively, direct existing customers to support and technical pages to improve your customer relations and therefore enhance customer retention levels. By getting the balance of offline and online advertising right, your marketing mix will help provide everything you need to gain leads, increase sales, improve customer retention, and rocket your profits.

Visit today for more helpful StoresOnline Merchant information.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Read About StoresOnline Pro Software Features

If you are a StoresOnline Merchant, you are familiar with the many beneficial software features of StoresOnline Pro. Here are a few features courtesy of to review:

7 Rules of Operating A Successful StoresOnline Business One of the most important lessons you’ll ever learn is to ask all the questions you don’t know the answers to. StoresOnline Businesses are very different from their brick and mortar cousins. The oldest, most archaic online store dates back to the 1980s! StoresOnline has been providing StoresOnline websites for at least a decade now. With so much new technology you must stay informed. Read the StoresOnline Merchant newsletter. Go to the Boot Camp training. Spend time exploring the software.

StoresOnline Website ManagementWhen surveyed, 100% of e-commerce website owners agreed that the ability to manage their business at any place and any time is an extremely important and usable feature. Storesonline recognizes this need of complete accessibility and has addressed it with their intuitive online management system.

StoresOnline Secure Online Ordering StoresOnline Pro makes it simple and ease to create custom, secure forms to collect sensitive information from customers. Plus, order processing is handled through one, simplified StoresOnline Pro interface, where you can convey the progress of orders, payment status, shipping waybill numbers, and more.

StoresOnline Built-in Search Technology Search results are displayed on an extremely simple-to-use screen - taking all the guess work out of the equation, and therefore putting your products directly in front of your customers.

StoresOnline Dynamic Image Generation Many website owners do not have the ability or skills to work with their pictures or apply them to their website. This is a complaint that Storesonline has addressed by building an extremely sophisticated Image Server that allows a user to upload, modify, and place pictures throughout a Storesonline website.

StoresOnline Dynamic Design Selection Have you ever thought of building your eCommerce website by dragging and dropping content? With StoresOnline Pro you can. StoresOnline Pro makes it possible to use your mouse to build and design the look, feel, navigation, and more of your eCommerce-enabled website! It doesn’t get easier or less complicated than that. StoresOnline Pro is simple.

StoresOnline Pro Dynamic Page CreationThe StoresOnline Pro interface permits you to customize the look and feel of a unique design. After customizing a design, construct your web pages in StoresOnline Pro’s point-and-click environment or a traditional setting. Then, when you are completely satisfied with the results, instantly publish your website to the Internet.

StoresOnline Pro Dynamic Product Creation Within StoresOnline Pro’s product management interface, you can specify which products are available, featured, or on sale by selecting the boxes of the checkmark, star, and currency symbol columns, by the click of your mouse. In addition, you may easily specify the regular and sale price each product.

StoresOnline Pro Dynamic Form GenerationThe Storesonline Dynamic Form Generator can be used to collect any type of data, take product orders, product inquiries, customer concerns or complaints.

StoresOnline Pro Business Rules The Storesonline Business Rules Module is an extremely robust engine that allows simple implementation of complex ordering and sales rules. For example, taxes, shipping, handling, discounts, and more.

StoresOnline Inventory Control System helps you avoid costly customer complaints by telling the store owner that their inventory level is low backordered or sold out. Storesonline understands that when doing any sort of shipping / delivery product fulfillment, it is important to know your inventory prior to sales.

StoresOnline Financial Software Storesonline is also configured to export data in several different formats, which can be converted into an acceptable import format for many other accounting and database applications.

StoresOnline UPS Online Tools® The UPS Online Tools® are an extremely useful piece of the Storesonline program. With the combination of the Storesonline Store Building Software and the UPS Online Tools®, you can offer your customers a variety of shipping and delivery services. You will also have the ability to more accurately provide shipping rates to your customers.

StoresOnline Pro Customer Relation Module The StoresOnline Pro customer database lists specific information concerning each customer who has submitted a form. Within the StoresOnline Pro point-and-click environment, you can add or edit the information, provide passwords to exclusive areas of your site, and view the customer’s order history and notes.

StoresOnline Marketing Resources The Storesonline Merchant Services area contains tutorials explaining the latest techniques, analytical data, tutorials, and third-party relationships in which you can receive discounts on several popular and useful online services.

StoresOnline World-Class Customer SupportStoresonline Customer Support agents are trained through an intensive learning course, which gives them logical and technical knowledge of the Storesonline software and our Customer Support methods.

If you want to watch a demonstration video that shows the features of StoresOnline Pro, click this link: StoresOnline: View the New StoresOnline Pro Demo Video.

StoresOnline: View the New StoresOnline Pro Demo Video

Monday, November 17, 2008

StoresOnline Presents: 8 Online Marketing Myths

StoresOnline has brought you many marketing tips as well as advice on SEO tools that would be helpful for StoresOnline Merchants. When we came across this article about Online Marketing Myths, we couldn't pass up the opportunity to share it with you.

Introduction and Myth 1

Sure, you've heard it all before -- but is everything we hear right? We asked digital media experts to go against the grain and debunk some commonly held wisdom about the business. Some of these truisms used to be true but are no longer; others are legacies of the traditional advertising world. And one of them might depend on whether you're on the client or agency side of the table.

How many of these theories do you think are ready for the trash heap?

1. You should measure everything you can.

Solid measurement has always been touted as digital media's key to resolving John Wanamaker's doubts about which 50 percent of his advertising worked. There's no end to the geeking out we can do with data, and it seems like every month there's a new metric and a new analytics vendor. The more, the better, right?

Well, no. Sometimes, the more data you have, the less it makes sense.

"I'm from research -- and I think that's a myth," says Todd Kirby, research director for Spark Communications. "If you have enough evidence to show something is working, why do you need to have more research to back it up?"

But marketers keep asking media agencies for more and more proof that their advertising is working. And that's probably the interactive industry's own fault -- for perpetually hammering on the measurement nail. Nevertheless, despite clients' demands for measurement, Peter Platt, VP of online media for Butler/Till Media, finds that clients ultimately avoid his reports. "It amazes me how often we start a campaign, have the metrics established and document how we'll report," Platt says. "But when it's time to go over the reports, the clients keep putting off the meeting."

That's probably because those reports seem so very daunting. And, the more metrics they address, the more daunting they become. The result, Platt says, is that the information doesn't get acted on as frequently as it needs to. "It's good to measure all those things, but not necessarily good to dwell on the minutia," he says.

Brian Hadley's solution to metrics overload is this: Start with the end in mind. Hadley, media director of Cole & Weber United, a WPP agency in Seattle, advises clients to decide on one ultimate goal and then identify meaningful milestones along the way to that goal. "It's defining success and also developing a measuring stick," he says.

StoresOnline wants StoresOnline Merchants to read the rest of the 8 Myths, so click here for more helpful information.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

AllAmericanWatches: A StoresOnline Success Site

While browsing through the information about StoresOnline, I found this testimonial and thought it would be a great way to share another StoresOnline Merchant's point of view about StoresOnline. This testimonial was given by James Lane and the whole story can be read by clicking here.

James Lane is very animated-and very entertaining. A native of the UK, CitiGroup brought him to New York to work in banking. Then one day his Wall Street job dried up. He had never had an entrepreneurial experience before, but decided then and there it was time for him to be in more control of his own life. At a StoresOnline presentation, he remembers the presenter saying, "The difference between those who dream of being in business and those who are in business is that those who are in business finally chose one day to start." That simple statement spurred him on.

"That speaker changed my life," James says. "I have friends who have dreamed of being in business for 20 years. And they even laughed at me for trying what I'm doing. But there they are all still drawing a paycheck and I have three businesses online."

James had his own reasons for getting started with his online business with StoresOnline. It seemed that James spent his time focusing on what he could do and really used StoresOnline as his support. James educated himself and tried different marketing techniques. He not only worked hard on his business, but kept his vision of success in tact and stayed committed to what he wanted.

Visit James' Online Stores by visiting If you are interested in beginning your own StoresOnline business, you can get started with a StoresOnline Express site by clicking here. Best of luck to all of you online business Entrepreneurs.

Friday, November 14, 2008

StoresOnline Merchants & StoresOnline Express

If you haven't watched the latest StoresOnline Express demo video, take a moment to watch the video below. If you'd like more information about the StoresOnline Express software, visit

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Tell Us About Your StoresOnline Experience

StoresOnline Merchants regularly call in to the Customer Service Department for assistance with their StoresOnline websites. When a StoresOnline Merchant chats with one the StoresOnline Customer Service Representatives, once the chat session has been completed, the StoresOnline Merchant is given the opportunity to take a survey to rate their service experience. There are many comments that are gathered for the Customer Service Teams and StoresOnline reviews this information to find out the things that the Representatives are doing right, what can be improved upon, and how StoresOnline can provide more education and assistance to StoresOnline Merchants.

Many companies do market research to find out what consumers think about their business. StoresOnline would like to give Merchants a chance to talk about their experience from beginning to present. If you are a StoresOnline Merchant who would like to provide this valuable feedback, feel free to comment on one or all of the questions as listed below. Also, if there is an improvement or request that you have for StoresOnline, feel free to leave that information as well.

Your honest feedback will help StoresOnline in it’s goal of supporting the entrepreneurial dreams of online Entrepreneurs who partner with StoresOnline.

How did you hear about StoresOnline?

How long have you been working with StoresOnline?

How do you feel about the Customer Service you experienced with:

- At your initial Preview about StoresOnline?

- At the StoresOnline Workshop You Attended?

- Customer Support?

- StoresOnline Programming Department?

- If You’ve Attended the StoresOnline Merchant Retreat, What Would Your Comments Be?

- What Do You Like Best About StoresOnline?

- What More Can StoresOnline Offer to Educate You as a StoresOnline Merchant?

StoresOnline appreciates any comments that you choose to make about the questions as shown above. Remember, that if you are a StoresOnline Merchant who is in need of Customer Support, you always have access to assistance by visiting

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

StoresOnline Merchants: One Way Link Building Advice

Writing quality articles is one of the best, free ways to build traffic to your StoresOnline website or blog. One-way links pointing to your StoresOnline website or blog is what you need to build your traffic.

One-way links are links that point to your StoresOnline website without your having to put a link on another website. Formerly, people would trade links: “I will link to your StoresOnline website if you link to mine.” Although this works to some extent, they balance each other out and aren’t very effective. In addition, when your site is about health food and you trade links with a site that is about ball bearings, it can do you harm.

Google and other search engines are on the prowl for good content. When they find it, they will send more traffic to a StoresOnline website or blog that produces consistent, quality informative articles.

One point about consistency: Consistency is very important: For example, if you write two to three articles per week, be consistent. Don’t write four articles, and then skip a couple of weeks. If you work hard and put together a large number of articles, don’t post them all at once. . . space them out.

One-way link building is more effective if you write about a topic using a keyword phrase that you are targeting. For example, if you don’t have access to software such as Word Tracker, or Ad Word Analyzer or a number of other analysis tools. Make sure that you put quotes around your keyword search phrase. For example, look for “one way link building” with quotes rather than one way link building. This will tell the search tool that you are looking for the exact phrase.
Once you have found the particular phrase you want to write about, you need to use the keyword phrase: - In the title of the article, - Three times per one-hundred words, - In the last sentence of your article, - In the link to your article or StoresOnline webpage.

One-way link building can have a tremendous effect on the traffic your StoresOnline website receives.

Monday, November 10, 2008

StoresOnline Merchants: Put Your Dreams Into Action

Here is a lesson in success planning for StoresOnline Merchants.

"A plan is a dream put into action.

What do you want? Make a Goal

How are you going to get it? Create An Action Plan

What are the steps? What Do You Have to Do?

If you haven't written out an action plan for how you are going to succeed with your StoresOnline business, not is the time to do so. Create an action plan that provides benchmarks and action items.

A StoresOnline Merchant Success Story usually have planned well, been well prepared, and are self directed people to stay on course towards their dreams.

A goal without a plan is merely a wish without a hope. There is no way you can accomplish something if you don't know how to proceed. Written plans are the essential instructions for how to reach a goal. A plan is simply a detailed map outlining the steps to accomplish your goal as quickly and easily as possible. At a minimum, it includes a complete list of objectives and resource requirements -- all organized in correct chronological order.

"Our goals can only be reached through a vehicle of a plan, in which we must fervently believe, and upon which we must vigorously act. There is no other route to success." ~ Stephen A. Brennan

Saturday, November 8, 2008

StoresOnline Merchants: Don and Joni Sharpe's Success

There are times when people want to hear what StoresOnline Merchants have done to succeed with their online businesses. There are pages and pages of testimonials and thank you notes from successful StoresOnline Merchants, however there are video testimonials that can be read as well. In this video clip you are able to watch and listen to StoresOnline Merchants: Don & Joni Sharpe tell their story in their own words.

The video is in bits and pieces, so here are the other parts as well. While the video seems to be in a raw and unedited format, the most important part is that you get to hear what the Sharpe's have to say about the obstacles, how they overcame them, and their advice and opinion of StoresOnline. Enjoy the videos!

Part One: Don and Joni Sharpe

Part Two: Don and Joni Sharpe

Part Three: Don and Joni Sharpe

Part Four: Don and Joni Sharpe

Part Five: Don and Joni Sharpe

Thursday, November 6, 2008

StoresOnline Merchants: Email Marketing Tips

We've recently talked about how now is the time to market your StoresOnline business for the holiday season. There have been questions about ideas for online marketing. There are a few tips that StoresOnline would like to pass on 5 Reasons Why You Need to Start Email Marketing Today, as found on

"Following is a list of five reasons you must start email marketing now!

1. Email marketing is inexpensive.
Email marketing is an affordable way to stretch a tight marketing budget. Unlike direct mail, there is virtually no production, materials or postage expense. Email marketing can cost as little as fractions of a penny per email.

The expenses involved in email marketing involve having a hosted website with email capacity. You may also want to consider subscribing to a list management service, such as Constant Contact or aWeber, to help manage your email campaigns. The fees for this service range from about $15 to $20 per month, which includes unlimited emails.

2. Email marketing is highly targeted.
You can easily segment your email database into different groups, so that your promotions go to individuals most likely to respond to your offer. For example, you may send one offer to existing clients, and send a different one to prospects who’ve expressed interest in your products or services.

3. Email marketing is proactive.
Email marketing enables you to proactively communicate with your existing customers and prospects, instead of passively waiting for them to return to your website or storefront.

It is a highly effective way to communicate promotional offers, news, seminars, which may result in an increase in sales, drive traffic to your website or store, and develop customer trust and loyalty through relationship building.

Sending out a monthly email campaign will keep your business in front of your customers’ and prospects eyes.

4. Email marketing generates an immediate response.
Promotional emails include a call to action that can result in immediate responses. Initial campaign responses generally occur within 48 hours of the time the email campaign is sent; testing and refining your campaigns is immediate. If you use a list management service, you can gauge the open rates of your email campaigns, which provides useful and immediate information you can use to tweak your campaign messages.

5. Email marketing is easy.
The Web-based email marketing products available to small businesses are easy to use. The services available through Constant Contact and aWeber, as well as others, include professional HTML templates, list segmentation and targeting capabilities, as well as automatic tracking and reporting of your email campaign effectiveness, such as for open rates, bounces, and spam reports."

StoresOnline hopes this article is helpful to those of you online business owners that are looking for additional ways to boost sales during this pre-holiday season. If you have participated in email marketing campaigns, let us know what worked for you and what didn't. Best of luck to you StoresOnline Entrepreneurs!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

StoresOnline Entrepreneurs: You Need Social Networking

StoresOnline Entrepreneurs, now is the time to get involved with Social Networking. In an article by Mr. David Javitch of, Mr. Javitch interviews Mr. Dan Schawbel, the Social Media Specialist of EMC Corp. In the interview, Mr. Javitch makes some very compelling arguments about the significance of Social Networking. StoresOnline Merchants will be interested in the highlights of this article:

Mr. Javitch: Can you tell me about the trend that has employers hiring employees to take on social networking duties?

Mr. Schawbel: ...Due to the current economy, there are clear restraints on marketing budgets, so free social marketing is the best alternative. As companies grow and social networking continues to expand, the entrepreneurial boss simply cannot devote all of the time needed for a successful effort. He or she needs to hire someone else dedicated to assume this responsibility. This person will be the internal community manager who will create, monitor and transfer information about the company between and among employees who have a voice and can influence or build the corporate brand.

Mr. Javitch: What's the benefit of hiring an employee who manages the business's Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn and other social networking accounts?

Mr. Schawbel: Small businesses should at least be involved in the largest social networks, belong to forums and have at least one blog. Each of these websites is a way of positioning yourself and your company to the world. You can create a video, respond to questions or problems or start a discussion. For instance, when someone joins your Facebook group, the word spreads virally through that person's newsfeed. Remember, people want to join groups; they want to meet people and buy products or services based on their friends' recommendations.

Setting a Google Alert for your name and company's name is highly encouraged. When someone blogs about you, your company, or your products and services, you'll be notified immediately through either e-mail or RSS [feed]. Then you can use their name to get back to them for further interactive communication.

Mr. Javitch: Can you break down which blogs, FaceBook, Twitter, MySpace, etc., are most popular to the separate generations? Business owners who target a certain age market need to know which social network to invest time in.

Mr. Schawbel: MySpace has over 185 million users, split evenly between men and women14 to 34 years old. Twenty-five percent of them are in the U.S. FaceBook has over 110 million readers, more women than men. The majority of these users--80 percent--are under 30 years old and half of all FaceBookers are located in the U.S., Great Britain and Canada.

LinkedIn has over 26 million readers, with the average age being 41. Men make up 64 percent of the audience. Their average household income is $109,000. Twitter has 3 million readers, two-thirds of whom are men 18 to 34 years old. Armed with this information, marketers can more effectively target specific age, income and geographic groups.

You also need a profile page on Facebook. It will tell readers about your company, people, service or product. Remember, people are searching for information; give them what they're asking for. And above all, the process is free; the only cost is your time.

This article gives StoresOnline Merchants ideas on where and what they need to do to start taking small steps into the world of Social Networking.

Do you have other suggestions or preferred Social Network sites and/or strategies that you can share with other StoresOnline Success Blog readers? If so, leave a comment or question here.

StoresOnline Merchants Stay Informed with Podcasts

As part of the StoresOnline business regimen, research and education of what trends are up and coming in the market are essential aspects of business as usual.

If you are looking for a reliable place for good information as well as case study information, it's a great idea to visit the Podcast page. The Open Access portion has some great podcasts, such as:

Interview with Michael Veit, Sr. Manager,
Database Marketing & Measurement Group, RSA Security

Michael Veit is presenting at this year's B-to-B Demand Generation Summit the Case Study "Optimizing a Paid Search Marketing Program through Testing and Measurement." In this interview he talks about managing pay per click marketing campaigns and about developing an approach for testing that can deliver significant improvements for your search marketing campaigns.

Economy Taking Toll on Marketing Budgets
The downturn in the economy is making it tough on the marketing community — especially marketing budgets. What has changed since we released our Marketing During a Downturn report in February?

Stefan Tornquist, Research Director, MarketingSherpa, talks about some of the profound shifts in spending that show up in a September 2009 survey of B-to-B and consumer marketers. Overall, 25 budgets are being cut for every spending plan getting a boost at larger companies – with the average decrease around 20%.

MarketingSherpa’s 2008–09 Business Technology Marketing Benchmark Guide
The 5th annual Business Technology Marketing Benchmark Guide is now available. Listen to MarketingSherpa’s Research Director Stefan Tornquist talk about what’s new in business technology marketing, who can benefit the most from the findings, and the special reports. This year’s guide is our largest ever, designed to be one–half yardstick with benchmarks and standards for success and one–half inspiration with explorations of what’s working, what’s not and what’s on the horizon.

These are just a few of the podcasts that are available to StoresOnline Merchants. Stay on top of your online marketing game and take the time to make online education part of your business routine today.

Monday, November 3, 2008

StoresOnline Merchants: Marketing for the Holidays

At StoresOnline, we follow Small Business Forums and Search Engine Marketing blogs in order to provide StoresOnline Merchants with up to date information and entrepreneurial information. As the holiday season picks up, StoresOnline wanted to share some helpful online marketing information with you from

How Are Small Businesses Marketing For the Holidays?

"To me, it seems that marketing has never been more important for the survival of a business. For one, if you are not marketing, people might forget about you, or even assume that your business in trouble because they have not heard from you lately," I said. "Marketing shows potential customers that you are still there for them even in these rocky times. Secondly, you have to drive people to your business. How else do you intend to attract customers?"

Well, a new study from Constant Contact would suggest that most U.S. small businesses would agree with this mentality, particularly as we approach the holiday season. 76% of their respondents are planning holiday promotions and last minute shopping offers. This number has actually grown from the same survey last year, which saw 62% doing so. 63% of this year's respondents have even begun their holiday campaigns already.

"There's no question the economy is a cause for concern, especially for U.S. small businesses that rely heavily on holiday sales," says Constant Contact CEO Gail Goodman. "However, in true entrepreneurial fashion, small businesses are fighting back. Small businesses recognize the value of focusing their marketing efforts to enhance communication with their loyal customers, as well as to attract new business."

So what ways are businesses marketing themselves these days?"

According to the study, 60% of respondents will be using Email Marketing. For the breakdown of other marketing outlets that small business merchants will be using, click here and read the article in its entirety.

What types of marketing work for you as a StoresOnline Small Business Owner? If you have other studies or research that would be helpful for StoresOnline Merchants, please feel free to leave a comment.

Friday, October 31, 2008

StoresOnline: The Laws of Ecommerce

ECommerce is about converting visitors to your site into customers. A brick and mortar shop has to work hard to get a prospect to make a special visit or passing prospects to enter. Then the visitor has an investment in the visit. They have expended time, energy and money to get there. This means that they are quite likely to make a purchase.

On the web, visiting your store needs just a single mouse click. This also means that there is little investment and they can just as easily move to another site. So, in ECommerce you really have to work hard to ensure that your bounce, page exit and abandoned cart rates are as low as possible and your co-sale and up-sale rates as high as possible for the best possible average order value, return visit rate and account lifetime value.

ECommerce success needs to be judged on the total lifetime value of each account and the average of all accounts.

How to be successful The key management success factors in retail are:

- StoresOnline Customer Service and selling
- Demand planning and management
- Forecasting, allocation and replenishment
- Markdown management
- Merchandise and range planning
- Promotion planning and management
- Store operations
- Supply chain management

In addition all successful retailers understand:

- The competition
- Branding

Retail is not just products, but an experience with customers selective but willing to pay for:

- relevance
- excitement
- quality
- simplifying life
- improvements

Customer loyalty, relationships and awareness:

- promotional campaigns and marketing techniques
- merchandising visual impacts

It is not just about price: "Customers move to the lower cost provider when marketers stop giving them reasons not to." Tom Peters.

- Retail is detail
- hours, displays, point of sale, categories, isles, music, etc. etc. etc.

On the web you still need all these skills and approaches, but because it's so easy to "click away" you also have to understand a lot more. Firstly, understand how people behave on the web - and this applies to all sites not just ECommerce sites. They go to the web and they search, decide and then act. But, that final decision to act - the one that we want - is based on a whole gamut of emotional factors bound up in trust, ease and entertainment.

Secondly, understand the laws of ECommerce - Get visitors to the site - Search engine optimization - Pay-per-click - Email - Affiliates - Online public relations - Convert visitors into customers - Sales - Special offers - Coupons - Associated products - Recommendations - Site effectiveness - Build relationships - Make sure the site works – fast load times etc.

Sounds obvious but……- Think like a consumer – show you understand what they want - Be visually clean – clutter does not work.

If you use this checklist, you’ll be well on your way to creating an eCommerce StoresOnline Website that thinks of what is best for your customers and your business.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

StoresOnline Merchants Focus on Customer Service

StoresOnline Customer Service teams are constantly supporting, educating, and assisting StoresOnline Merchants. StoresOnline is dedicated to excellence in Customer Support as is evidenced by the Service & Support Professional Association's 2007 Award to StoresOnline for outstanding Consumer Support as well as the many thank you emails that are received every week from StoresOnline Merchants.

There are ways for you to set your online business apart through the quality of customer service you offer your StoresOnline website visitors. Here are a few tips as a Customer Service 101 refresher:

Be a good listener. Take the time to identify customer needs by asking questions and concentrating on what the customer is really saying. Listen to their words, tone of voice, body language, and most importantly, how they feel. Beware of making assumptions - thinking you intuitively know what the customer wants. Do you know what three things are most important to your customer?

Effective listening and undivided attention are particularly important on the show floor where there is a great danger of preoccupation - looking around to see to whom else we could be selling to.

Identify and anticipate needs. Customers don't buy products or services. They buy good feelings and solutions to problems. Most customer needs are emotional rather than logical. The more you know your customers, the better you become at anticipating their needs. Communicate regularly so that you are aware of problems or upcoming needs.

Make customers feel important and appreciated. Treat them as individuals. Always use their name and find ways to compliment them, but be sincere. People value sincerity. It creates good feeling and trust. Think about ways to generate good feelings about doing business with you. Customers are very sensitive and know whether or not you really care about them. Thank them every time you get a chance.

On the show floor be sure that your body language conveys sincerity. Your words and actions should be congruent.

Help customers understand your systems. Your organization may have the world's best systems for getting things done, but if customers don't understand them, they can get confused, impatient and angry. Take time to explain how your systems work and how they simplify transactions. Be careful that your systems don't reduce the human element of your organization.

Appreciate the power of "Yes". Always look for ways to help your customers. When they have a request (as long as it is reasonable) tell them that you can do it. Figure out how afterwards. Look for ways to make doing business with you easy. Always do what you say you are going to do.

Know how to apologize. When something goes wrong, apologize. It's easy and customers like it. The customer may not always be right, but the customer must always win. Deal with problems immediately and let customers know what you have done. Make it simple for customers to complain. Value their complaints. As much as we dislike it, it gives us an opportunity to improve. Even if customers are having a bad day, go out of your way to make them feel comfortable.

Give more than expected. Since the future of all companies lies in keeping customers happy, think of ways to elevate yourself above the competition. Consider the following:

- What can you give customers that they cannot get elsewhere?
- What can you do to follow-up and thank people even when they don't buy?
- What can you give customers that is totally unexpected?

Get regular feedback. Encourage and welcome suggestions about how you could improve. There are several ways in which you can find out what customers think and feel about your services.

- Listen carefully to what they say.
- Check back regularly to see how things are going.
- Provide a method that invites constructive criticism, comments and suggestions.

Treat employees well. Employees are your internal customers and need a regular dose of appreciation. Thank them and find ways to let them know how important they are. Treat your employees with respect and chances are they will have a higher regard for customers. Appreciation stems from the top. Treating customers and employees well is equally important.

What are customer service activities that you as a StoresOnline Merchant have used to help create value?

StoresOnline Merchants: Try Google Analytics

StoresOnline Merchants are able to track and view website activity with the StoresOnlinePro and StoresOnlineExpress backend capabilities. Another tool that might be helpful to StoresOnline Merchants is Google Analytics. Here is an excerpt from an article written by Brett Crosby who is currently the Group Manager of Google Analytics. In this excerpt, Mr. Crosby talks about what you'll want to look for with Analytics data:

1. How do your visitors arrive? For those coming through a search-engine query, a list of search terms will tell you what they were seeking when they arrived. Analytics can also give you a list of referring URLs -- websites that send you traffic. The simple step of marrying those referring URLs with conversions on your site will help you identify valuable sources of traffic and sites that send you high-converting traffic.

2. What are visitors looking for? Your checkout page can tell you only where you've succeeded, not where you've missed an opportunity. Search keyword reports and internal site-search reports can reveal what people are seeking, not just what they've found. Another crucial metric is your cart abandonment rate: the percentage of customers who put items in the cart but left your site before checking out. Use it to find if something's amiss with your checkout process.

3. Where are visitors landing, bouncing and viewing? The assumption that user experience begins on the homepage drives many designers to waste hours of work in the wrong place: for customers entering your site through a search engine, you have multiple homepages -- not just a single entry point. Your Top Landing Pages or Top Entry Pages report will tell you where your real "homepages" reside, so you can focus your design work there. Analytics will also tell you which landing pages have the highest bounce rate – pages on which people landed, looked around and left. And through your Top Viewed Pages report, you can see what content interests your customers -- or doesn't.

4. What are your website's trends over time? Analytics can help you understand what drives your performance up or down. E-commerce tracking shows the number of orders placed and the value of those orders, and by segmenting your data over different timelines, you can see subtle buying habits that could have otherwise gone unnoticed.

If you'd like to read the full article, click here.

Do you currently pay attention to the data that you get with StoresOnlinePro or StoresOnlineExpress? Do you or have you used Google Analytics? What are some key insights that you've learned or want to learn as you study the analytics data?

Monday, October 27, 2008

StoresOnline Merchant Help Forum

This blog was started as a place for StoresOnline Merchants and others to find helpful information about starting, building, and maintaining your online business. From time to time, we search the Internet for other helpful resources for you. Today we came upon a very helpful tool for StoresOnline Merchants: The StoresOnline Merchant Help Forum.

The StoresOnline Merchant Help Forum offers help and ideas on the following subjects:

- StoresOnlinePro software
- Avail 24/7 Software
- Marketing
- StoresOnlineExpress software

There is also a section for free webinars for StoresOnline Merchants. The thing that we liked the most about this forum was how they described it: "StoresOnline's Help Forums are here to help you. Ask and answer. StoresOnline will monitor these forums for common problems and great suggestions! Please help us improve our product by taking part in the sharing of information. Click on the link to the right to sign up, then click on the discussion group you want top browse on the left. Click here to sign in and join the conversation. It's quick, easy and free!"

It looks like this is just another way that StoresOnline is working to support Merchants and Online Entrepreneurs. We encourage you to sign up today and let us know about your experience with the StoresOnline Merchant Help Forum.

StoresOnline Merchant Spotlight:

StoresOnline has many successful merchants who want to share their experiences about their StoresOnline businesses. The following item was emailed in from Scott Jones of

"I have had my site up on StoresOnline for about 3 years. I sell wholesale blank t-shirts as well as some other lines of apparel. Things didn't immediately take off but with some time and effort put into marketing, it is on it's way to being my full time income. I am on page one for my main keyword phrases on Google, MSN and Yahoo. Almost every month the visitors and sales seem to increase.

The software is top of the line and very easy to use especially with the help of online chat or the phone support line. All of the marketing strategies that I have used were learned from reading through the amazing amount of material made available to StoresOnline merchants.

I recently launched another site selling wholesale hats and things seem a little easier the second time around since I feel like I really know what I am doing now. Sales have started to trickle in already on the hat site but I still have plenty of marketing that I need to do. I could not be happier about the way things have gone with my websites and my experiences with StoresOnline.

Scott J."

We noticed that is also taking advantage of using a blog to talk about special offers etc. If you don't think you have much to talk about with your product, take a look at the blog. You'll see that there are things to blog about and that the blog can be just one more means of reaching out to potential customers. The idea of the blog is get the word out and get more traffic back to your StoresOnline Site. It's a great idea and an easy way to keep fresh information up for your customers.

If you have a StoresOnline Merchant Success Story that you'd like to share, leave a post here and we'll get in touch with you to get your online business spotlighted!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

StoresOnline Merchants: Competitive Research Tools

StoresOnline Merchants spend a good amount of time finding products and building their websites. Once the website is ready for online marketing, it is important for the StoresOnline Merchant to get an idea of what the competition is doing to market their products and services online. Here is a list of SEO tools that can help a StoresOnline Merchant do marketing research:

Alexa - shows traffic trends for competing websites. Alexa has a heavy webmaster bias that is nowhere near as noticeable at Compete or Quantcast. - shows you traffic trends for competing websites. Allows you to compare sites head to head. Also offers a paid search analytics tool which is both exceptionally useful and affordably priced.

Quantcast - shows site traffic and demographic trends and details. Also allows you to download a list of their top 1,000,000 websites.

Google Trends for Websites - free tool from Google showing traffic estimates, visitor country location, top 10 related websites, and top 10 related keywords. Only returns data for fairly high traffic websites though.

Google Search Insights - shows keyword trends, hot keywords by cateogry, and top geographic regions for a keyword. - see how old a website is and what it looked like in the past

DomainTools - see Whois data and how many times a domain has changed hands

SearchStatus - highlights nofollow links, shows PageRank, shows Alexa rank, and provides links to some backlink information

Xinu - lists some SEO related data plus more general web related data points like Alexa ranking and bookmarks.

Research the Competition's Keyword Strategy
View our keyword research tools section, or use some of the following free tools to get a view of their keyword strategy.

Keyword Density Analysis Tool - finds common words and phrases on your site, or competing websites.

Page Comparison Tool - tool compares the page titles, meta information, and most common two and three word phrases between different pages. grab the source code Page Text Rank Checker - tool allows you to check where your site ranks for each phrase or term occurring on the page. grab the source code

Common Terms Keyword Rankings Tool - shows where your page ranks for it's most common terms. grab the source code

Spider Test Tool - shows the page size, source code, meta tags, page title, textual copy of the page, keyword breakdown by density (including 2 and 3 word phrases), number of words, number of unique words, and outbound links on a page.

Research the Competition's Link Strategy
View our link analysis section, or use some of the following free tools to get a view of their link strategy.

SEO Book Competitive Research & Keyword Research Gadget - use almost every useful competitive research tool from our free gadget. You can place this gadget on your site or on iGoogle.

Back Link Analyzer - free Windows based downloadable software allowing you to deeply explore through a competitor's backlinks.

Link Harvester - web based tool that allows you to dig deeply through a competitor's backlinks

Link Popularity Comparison Tool - allows you to quickly and easily compare your link popularity scores to other websites.

Myriad Search - allows you to search all 4 major search engines at the same time.

Competition Finder - tool looks at how many competing pages there are in Google's index that have your desired keywords in their page title and anchor text. learn more about Competition Finder

SEO Link Analysis Script - extend Yahoo! Site Explorer and Google Webmaster Central using this free script from Joost De Valk. It verifies the link is still on the page, adds PageRank scores, displays anchor text, and highlights if the link uses nofollow.

Search Engine Saturation Tool - helps you compare how many pages you have in the search indexes compared against competing sites. grab the source code

From the Search Engines
Google AdWords Keyword Research Tool - allows you to plug in a URL and shows you what keywords Google thinks the page should be advertising for Google Traffic Estimator - estimates the number of Google AdWords ad clicks and bid prices for the top ad position.

Google AdWords - if you bid broad match on competing brands you can track your ad impressions to see how much traffic they get.

Google AdSense - if your competitor is running AdSense ads on their site you can run a site targeted ad to see how much traffic they are getting.

Yahoo Mindset - let Yahoo show you how they can change results for commercial and informational queries

Yahoo Term Extraction - delivers a list of most important keywords contained inside a piece of text.

MSN AdCenter Labs - offers many keyword tools, including a content classification tool and demographic prediction tools

These may be more advanced competitive research methods for some beginning online business owners, but try to get started with one or two aspects of competitive research. It could give you a whole new perspective on your target market and your marketing direction as well.

If you have other SEO tools that you'd like to suggest to other StoresOnline Merchants, leave us a message here :)

Friday, October 17, 2008

StoresOnline Merchants: Plan Your Success

"A strong positive mental attitude will create more miracles than any wonder drug."
~ Patricia Neal

The weekend is upon us...the holidays are coming up faster than might be a good idea for StoresOnline Merchants to buckle down and make some holiday specific is the time to plan, if you haven't already. Here is an excerpt from the - Daily Lessons In Intentional Excellence feed that talks about planning:

"A simple fact of life: The more you plan ahead, the more you accomplish in the time you have. Planning ahead is a skill that applies equally to your NEXT move, your NEXT task, your NEXT day and your NEXT year.

When you look ahead to where you want to go NEXT, you can determine in advance what you are going to do, what you're going to need to effectively do it—and identify the shortest route to get it done.

"It's simply a matter of doing what you do best and not worrying about what the other fellow is going to do."
~ John R. Amos

A high commitment to this area of your performance suggests you've mastered the basics of planning. You are the role model for efficiency and a master at reducing stress. You always know what you're going to do next and what you're going to need to do it. You know what your schedule holds for tomorrow and exactly where you're supposed to be.

By planning ahead, you ordinarily bypass the obstacles that trip up people who only look down at their feet as they rush by in a flurry of misbegotten activity.

However, a lack of commitment suggests you complete your tasks one at a time without thinking about your NEXT move. Your progress is rarely a straight line. Instead, it might be better described as a series of random actions in divergent directions. You are often forced to backtrack and redo what you just completed -- because you didn't foresee how it would affect your next move.

By failing to plan ahead, you are less efficient and prepared for what to do next. You run in circles... a lot! Advice: Think WIN WIN—Now!

If you get yourself into the mind-set of asking yourself What's Important NOW... What's Important NEXT—10 times each day—you will not only understand the art of planning... you will master it!

You CAN achieve your greatest GOALS.
You CAN attain financial FREEDOM.
You CAN enjoy a career that is BOTH emotionally and financially rewarding.
Simply unleash the WIN WIN WINNER within! -- E.R. Haas, CEO"

StoresOnline Merchant Success stories usually began with a plan that was followed up with dedication and fortitude. Create a plan. Get focused. Stay with it. We look forward to hearing about your personal StoresOnline Success story!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

StoresOnline Wants You To Read About the 7 Fatal Flaws In Paid Search

Many StoresOnline business owners have a Pay-Per-Click (PPC) campaign running with Google Adwords, Yahoo Search Marketing, or MSN adCenter, just to name a few. There are important factors that a StoresOnline Merchant needs to consider when managing their PPC efforts. This is an excellent article about identifying the "7 Fatal Flaws in Your Paid Search Campaign" by Alex Yoder with WebTrends:

"If you're spending money on SEM, it's highly likely that you're wasting some of your budget. Learn how to cut the fat.

Paid search advertising accounts for more than 45 percent of the global online ad spend and, according to a recent forecast by JP Morgan, search engine marketing will reach nearly $30 billion this year.

More than half of that will come from large advertisers, who spend upwards of $50,000 per month, managing tens of thousands of keywords in their search portfolios (at WebTrends, many of our clients are running campaigns using more than 1 million unique keyword combinations).

However, there is strong evidence that these heavily invested advertisers waste as much as 31 percent of their paid search dollars on sub-optimized search marketing campaigns. WebTrends estimates this waste will amount to $4.5 billion globally in 2008 and is due to an overreliance on bid management tools that are inherently inefficient because of the manual procedures they require.

The following are the seven deadly sins of search marketing, plus insight on how you can find redemption and achieve the most from your online advertising dollars.

1) Failing to establish campaign goals
A surprising number of marketers fail to set campaign goals or review prior performance. Just because you're spending on paid search and seeing conversion activity come through your website does not mean dollars are allocated in the most efficient and effective way.

The first step toward a successful paid search campaign is to establish a baseline and performance thresholds from past results data. Then you can safely set campaign goals (maximizing revenue, gross profit or return on advertising spend) and monitor your progress.

2) Not identifying all the different types of possible conversion activities
Actions users take on your site indicate their degree of interest. Besides monetary transactions, other valuable conversions can include mailing list or newsletter sign-ups, demo or whitepaper downloads, user account creations or samples ordered. Make a business decision about which types of non-monetary conversions are valuable to your business and assign them appropriate values in the context of your paid search campaign.

3) Not taking a "big picture" approach to paid search campaigns
Paid search campaigns should be evaluated in conjunction with SEO, display, email and other online marketing channels. Use analytics data to help you understand conversions by various channels, and keep in mind users frequently visit your site through various channels and can even click on multiple PPC ads before a conversion occurs.

The conversion latency your products experience and the methods you use to attribute conversions to specific campaigns can have a big impact on how you gauge performance. Also, a portfolio-based approach to managing keywords and bids helps ensure you don't overlook conversion volume from keyword combinations that are lower performers at an individual level but help maximize total conversion volume.

4) Misunderstanding the value of branded terms
Branded terms play an important role in paid search marketing campaigns, but are frequently misunderstood. The key is to understand branded terms' role in the conversion cycle, as well as your audience’s conversion cycle behavior. In addition, you need to understand the consequences of focusing on branded terms only. While the branded term may be the last keyword typed prior to conversion, it most likely did not create the initial brand or product/service awareness. Broad and general terms drive users to your site.

5) Failing to take advantage of multivariate testing
To remain competitive, search marketers must bid in the most efficient way possible and harvest the available, but untapped, volume. As search engines continue to add new and innovative segmentation and targeting options, marketers are faced with almost unlimited choices in the number and complexity of campaign variables for their paid search campaigns.

While marketers frequently test different keyword match types, many do not experiment with ad creative and landing page options. Even paid search campaigns that the marketer may consider to be finely tuned can benefit from additional expansion and testing. Small increases in conversion rates or small decreases in average cost-per-click can greatly benefit your overall campaign performance over time.

6) Taking it on all yourself
It is the quintessential rock-and-the hard place scenario of search marketing: while targeting and testing options abound, time and resources are limited. Optimizing paid search requires humans to do most of the heavy lifting, from a/b testing, reporting consolidation and results analysis to the seemingly never-ending bid rules creation and adjustments.

Newer automated SEM optimization solutions can help achieve an optimal balance between what machines do best -- handling the constant cycle of analysis, testing and updates across an organization’s paid search portfolio -- and the insight and perspective into external industry events and business drivers that humans bring. In a single day, these solutions can assess the performance of more than a million unique keyword combinations and make tens of thousands of bid changes. Try having even a roomful of SEM specialists do that!

7) Leaving it all to others (either agencies or automated solutions)
Just because an agency or automated system is handling your paid search bidding doesn't mean that your work is done. Nobody knows your business like you do. That's why it’s important to react to and plan around changes in the marketplace, whether it is new competitors entering your space or seasonal changes that impact your business. These insights are invaluable in determining whether campaign goals and performance levels are appropriate, as well as whether "specialized" promotional periods are called for to help your business take advantage of previously untapped volume.

Conclusion: The bar for search marketing is only going to get higher. Competition-driven keyword inflation will likely be affected by market forces, including the gargantuan share of searches Google holds, and, lest we forget, the likely sponsored search deal between Google and Yahoo. To survive, today's search marketers must be smarter, faster and more efficient than their competitors."

StoresOnline wants you to succeed and continue to drive up site conversions in an SEO/SEM savvy way. If you are a StoresOnline Merchant who has experience with PPC tips or experience with Google Adwords, Yahoo Search Marketing, or MSN adCenter, or can recommend any other PPC services, let us know.