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Once upon a time, if you had a decent product, a website, and paid an SEO person a few bucks a month, it rained money. Those days are over. It’s still possible to be small and make a good living from selling products via a website, but it takes diligence and application of a few principles. Both cost time and money.

There are three easy to avoid mistakes many small businesses make when getting into E-commerce:

1 – Think they can manage it mostly themselves

2 – Don’t create a realistic budget with sound ROI benchmarks

3 – Underestimate the value of content and multiple products

Managing an E-commerce site

In order to competitively sell on-line, from widgets to ideas, a number of factors come into play. Here’s a short list:

  • Easy to navigate website with a fool-proof shopping cart. For example, have someone that knows what they are doing build a site on the powerful Magento platform or use a template like Shopify to build your own
  • Secure method to receive payments
  • Methods to drive traffic, e.g. Pay-Per-Click (PPC) campaign, Search Engine Optimization (SEO), blog to keep fresh content flowing weekly, email outreach

It’s feasible to have one person manage all facets. In addition to the technical skill, the person should have a significant amount of dedicated time to the tasks of keeping the website in working order, managing orders within the system, and adding content weekly.

A realistic budget and ROI

It takes money to make money. It’s very hard to make money on the internet without personal savvy or the funds to hire a firm to handle your E-commerce. A specialized firm will charge on average $125 to $150 an hour. You can bring in independent consultants, which charge from $50 to $100 an hour. Independent experts will likely work based on some form of a deliverable at a not-to-exceed amount.

The expert(s) must know how to manage the backend of a website, initiate and manage a solid PPC campaign, create the right SEO foundation, and write professional web content from SEO landing pages to product description and blogs.

A minimum monthly budget for a small website with 20 or less products might look like this:

Oversight5 hours week ($20/hr)                               $400

SEO5 hours a month ($60/hr)                                   $300

Content Creation10 hours a month ($60/hr)         $600

Web manager10 hours a month ($60/hr)              $600

PPC                                                                                    $750 – $1,500

Hosting                                                                            $50 a month

Minimum Monthly Budget                                 $2,800

How much product must you sell to pay back $2,800?

Gus Kroustalis, Digital Marketing Strategist with Beacon Technologies Inc. says, “Paid search (PPC) on its own has around a 3:1 ROI, but also serves as a good source for assisting conversions that are credited to other sources.”

Content and multiple products are a must

Decent, fresh content is critical to staying in the game. The big stores like WalMart and Target will run paid ads for about every item under the sun. You’ve got to combine organic (SEO) and paid ads (PPC) with valuable content. Google and other search engines reward well-written content. Your potential customers will too.

Writing a regular blog post or refreshing your product descriptions is not so hard. It just takes discipline and time. If you want to leverage a site with content, create case studies and white papers, or better yet create an E-Book.

Ask yourself these questions and then act on getting help where you need it most.

  • How much can I do myself or with internal resources?
  • What part of this is outside of my strengths, e.g. managing the backend of the website, writing content, etc.?
  • If I had to create or increase my marketing budget, what’s my target number?

At West 65 Inc., our niche is helping small businesses with the pieces they don’t have time or interest to handle. Contact us here for a free consultation.