Sell Online with a Website

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1 Sell Online with a Website Funded in part through a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration. All opinions, conclusions or recommendations expressed are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SBA.

2 Contents Free Consulting... 3 Step 1: Develop Your Strategy... 4 Step 2: Build a Cash Flow Projection (budget)... 5 Step 3: Key Words and Phrases... 6 Step 4: Draw a Schematic... 7 Step 5: Create Text for Pages... 7 Step 6: Build Your Site - Choose a Host - Domain Name... 8 Domain Names... 8 Step 7: Analytics... 9 Step 8: Merchant Account, Shopping Cart & Load Products Step 9: Advertise!... 11

3 About this guide and our ecommerce Service A website is a tremendous responsibility and one that continues through the life of a small business. You should understand there is much work to be done before launching an effective website, and on a continual basis afterwards. The steps in this guide are starting points for selling with a website. Free Consulting Wyoming small business owners or aspirants may request free ecommerce consulting by registering at No matter where you are in Wyoming, I can demonstrate the tools and processes below through in a web meeting where we speak on the phone as I display things on your computer. Here are the steps, and they don t all necessarily go in order.

4 Step 1: Develop Your Strategy Answer each of these questions. What do you expect this site to do for you? Who will build and maintain you site? Who is your intended audience? What exactly you will sell? How you will market the site? Paid advertising is required to be successful. Who will maintain inventory and where? Who will package and ship the items you sell? Are the costs of the project beneficial? Build a cash flow projection. Fill out an ecommerce cash flow projection (very simple). Find this on our website at the ecommerce page under Market a Business.

5 Step 2: Build a Cash Flow Projection (budget) Use our ecommerce cash flow budget tool to see how things may play out during year one as you project expenses and revenues. The result may surprise you and help you keep your eyes open to what may happen if you use a website. Find this tool at our website on the ecommerce page. Opens in Excel.

6 Step 3: Key Words and Phrases Keyword phrases will help major search engines know what you offer and index your website the same way a library indexes its books. Then, if someone searches for your services or products on the web, over time, your site may be able to be near the top of lists of results. *NOTE: Simply places keywords on your site will lead to a few or no sales. Your website will be invisible unless you advertise it (SEE STEP NINE). Keywords are used in three places on a website: 1. MOST IMPORTANT: The text people read on your site, specifically at the top of each page (SEE STEP FIVE in this guide). 2. The text headers on your site. 3. The coding (html) on the backend (part of site public does not see), using something called a Meta Name. You need to develop a list of keywords and write a 1-2 brief sentence description of what you sell and where you are. You will want a list of about 10 keyword phrases that people actually use when searching the web for your product or service. 2 Ways to Find Potentially Effective Keywords 1. Use a free keyword suggestion tool like Google s AdWords. 2. Look at the coding of sites (SEE BELOW) that sell similar products or services. Then test the keywords they are using with the AdWords tool. NOTE: If the key words or phrases you use show little or no activity, this is good market research which may indicate you cannot expect much new client activity on your website. Find Keywords of a Website To see what keywords a particular website is using, go to the site then click on the View menu and select Source. A window will pop up with the coding of the site. In the coding, look near the top for the word keywords and to the right of this word you will see a list of keywords. If you see some that seem good, test before using.

7 Step 4: Draw a Schematic Draw a schematic of the site you would like to build, before using a web development tool. This should include the name and intended message to be delivered for each page of the site. The schematic below is an example only. Step 5: Create Text and get Images Now that you have a schematic and know what pages you will have on your site, develop the text that you will place on each page. Do this in a Word document, using the headers of each page that will appear on the site. REMEMBER: Use the keywords in your keyword list in your text. Try and use them all, but do not use any one more than three times on any one page. Taking your own photos for the website is rarely a good idea, unless you have a professional camera, tabletop studio, and know how to use them. It is best to either buy image online, or hire someone to take them. If you will take your own photos, investing in a tabletop studio and a professional camera will pay for itself. Here is one resource for purchasing professional images, but there are many others you may search for. Professional Photos to Purchase: Tabletop Studio for Taking Product Photos:

8 Step 6: Build Your Site - Choose a Host - Domain Name After finishing the other steps, it s time to build. Built It Yourself 1. COMPLEX Build it yourself with an industry standard software like Adobe Dreamweaver, iweb or Microsoft Expression Web. 2. EASY/ MEDIUM Build it yourself with a simple yet powerful tool (free) at a web host company like Webs.com. You can add a shopping cart, video, and other elements. 3. EASY Use a service that allows you to simply add product and information, and the site is built automatically using a few preferences you specify. Example is ProStores. Expect to pay around $30-$75 per month plus a small % of sales. 4. EASY Create a store on your Facebook page using a free service like Payvment.com. Hire Someone to Build It 1. COMPLEX Have a family member or friend build it, usually for free. When this happens, the website owner is rarely able to do anything with the site and the builder grows tired of the project, then becomes absent. 2. MEDIUM Hire a firm to build it. A good site costs at least $3,000 and if you are serious about doing business, will cost closer to $5,000 to $7,000. **Make sure the site is built with CMS (content management system) which includes a simple interface allowing the owner (you) to make updates. Also, carefully work through a contract with the builder to make sure all expectations on both sides are clear. You will have the option of paying the builder a monthly fee to update your site. Domain Names May be easiest to register a domain name with your host. But, you can buy from any registrar, then point the name at any website, even when you move. A domain name should be something that is brief, easy to remember, and describes what you do and hopefully where you are. Search to see if the name you want is available.

9 Step 7: Analytics Using a website is an ongoing process that never, ever ends if you want to be successful. Therefore, getting frequent feedback is a must. Use the tools below to guide you to success. Website Grader: This free tool will give you very candid feedback and good advice for your ecommerce website. Good things take time and so does building a great website. This tool will help. Market Research Center: You can have a professional market researcher analyze your site and give you detailed feedback about optimization and usability. To request this service, speak to a business counselor. Surf to wyen.biz and if a new client, click on Free Consulting and follow the instructions. If an existing client, click on Contact Us and the counselor you have been working with, or any of us if you don t remember who you have worked with. Google Analytics: This free tool from Google requires that you create an account, then place a snippet of coding into the back end of your site, which I can help you with. Then, Google will allow you to access data about your site like how many people came, which pages they are looking at, what keywords they used to find you, and much, much more. No website could ever be successful without an analytics tool and this is a great one, although your website host may offer a similar service as part of your monthly/annual fee.

10 Step 8: Merchant Account, Shopping Cart & Load Products You have your site, it has been improved using analytics, now it is time to make products available for purchase. This can be a big step, and you will need to spend some time learning about this. But I can help you, at least to a point. What I mean is, you must learn to install and use a shopping cart system, although there are different levels of complexity for them as you will read below. The first thing to do is create a merchant account with a bank. It can be your local bank or someone on the web like PayPal (choose a premier account). Make sure whoever you choose is compatible with web-based shopping carts. The next step is to choose a shopping cart company (sorry, there are about 500 choices). The shopping cart is the software that will allow your customer to purchase a product or service from your website. We are all familiar with Amazon.com s shopping cart system. Buyers find what they want, choose Add to Cart then go through a few screens confirming their address and credit card, then finalizing which initiates shipment of whatever they bought to their doorstep. IIF: Intuit Interchange Format. If you use QuickBooks, and want to have maximum efficiency in your workflow, make sure the shopping cart service offers IIF, so the cart will exchange information with QuickBooks. Okay, so there are three basic options when choosing a shopping cart service. 1. EASY A service where you simply list your products on a website (sometimes made from a template you choose), that is hosted by the shopping cart company. Fees typically apply. Examples: ushops.com, ProStores, WebStore, Shopify, etc. 2. MEDIUM A service where you simply place Add to Cart buttons on your website. When a customer clicks a button, they are taken the shopping cart service s website to checkout. The money from the sale is deposited in your merchant account. Examples: PayPal (choose Website Payments Standard), Google Checkout, etc. 3. COMPLEX A service where you integrate their system within your site. This step takes web design skills. Examples: Avactis Once you list products the fun begins since you now have to manage inventory, watch your closely to know when someone has made a purchase, quickly package and ship, and manage returns. But you can do it if you are willing to learn new things!

11 Step 9: Advertise! Without advertising, your website will be invisible. All the word of mouth comments and SEO in the world will not make you successful. To make it, you must actively, tirelessly advertise your site Paid Advertising Google AdWords: Pay to be on top of or to the right of lists of results when someone searches for a particular product or service on Google. You pay Google each time someone clicks on the link to your website. Google AdWords Advertising: Perhaps the most effective way to market digitally and make sales. Use a reputable company that follows federal trade commission guidelines for advertising. Examples: Constant Contact Emma Mail Chimp (free) Advertising Companies: like Network Solutions can place banner ads on websites that complement the product you are offering (there are dozens of these advertising companies online, this is just one suggestion). Facebook: Paid Facebook ads allow you to specifically target market segments like where people live, gender, psychographics (what they like) and so forth. However, using the free Facebook fan site will bring few if any sales. ebay: ebay is an inexpensive place to advertise and sell your product by using online auctions. End Notes This guide is very basic. There is more to discuss which can be done in a meeting with your local SBDC counselor. Questions? Visit the SBDC website and a counselor:

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