Sunday, December 26, 2010

The Best Way to Promote

People give lots of advice on how to promote one's online store in order to gain buyers. Sellers are told to get on Facebook and Twitter, to list one's store on lots of random sites, and to start a blog. Taken at face value with no guidance on how specifically to proceed, this advice can be of little help.

Many sellers on Bonanza, Etsy, and other sites create Twitter and Facebook accounts and then ask all of the other sellers to follow them. The result is that all of the sellers are tweeting and promoting to each other. How is this bringing in buyers? I have Facebook and Twitter accounts, but I fail to see how promoting to a bunch of sellers who do not collect series books is going to get people to buy my series books.

This type of promotion may help people who sell a wide variety of items, but it is not going to work for me. My Facebook fan page has helped some, but only because I refused to go on Bonanza and beg for fans. I let people who read this blog decide on their own whether to follow me. While I have very few followers, they are people who are interested in series books.

In 2009, I tried to follow some of the advice offered such as creating a Zimbio account and using Squidoo. The thinking was that the more places a booth is listed, the more likely the seller will get sales.

I quickly decided that it was too much trouble and that I was not going to reach my target audience. It would be like parking myself in front of the nearest Walmart with a stack of my books priced at $5 and up and trying to sell them to the average Walmart shopper. Do you really think that would work?

I also did not believe that listing my booth on random sites was going to help me much in my Google search ranking. What I did last year did not help at all.

People recommend blogging, and blogging is the best approach. However, most people go about it the wrong way. One problem is that many of the blog writers use poor grammar, punctuation, and spelling. That is a big turn-off for people who notice the mistakes.

If a seller plans to blog and does not have a good command of the correct usage of the English language, then that person needs to get someone who does and have that person help. Even more importantly, avoid text-speak. "U need 2 c my stuff!" Um, no I don't.

If I see two books up for sale that are identical in every way including condition and price, I will buy from the person who writes well over the person who does not. Keep in mind, though, that I am turned off by excessively long descriptions that serve no real purpose. One can go too far.

People have attempted to promote their booths by writing randomly about themselves and what they are doing in their lives. While one might be able to gain a following that way if the content is interesting, it is not a very effective approach. Is someone really going to buy from a seller because the seller had a ham sandwich for lunch?

Most people want to read about what interests them. And that is the key.

You are selling to the people who want your items. You do not want to market to people who like you; rather, you should market to people who like your items. You need to enable those people to find your items. Google is the key, not Zimbio, Squidoo, or any other promotional tool. While those tools may gain some item views, they are not targeting the specific people who want your items.

Most buyers use Google's organic search. Therefore, it is vitally important to rank near the top in the Google results. This cannot be achieved by blogging about one's lunch, one's doctor appointment, or one's pets. Facebook is the place for those topics. I finally realized in November how best to utilize a blog in order to raise my Google ranking.

This blog has helped, and it gives me credibility.  But more than credibility is needed in order to conquer the Google problem. 

I had already created my Jennifer's Series Books blog, but I was not using it correctly. I finally realized that I needed to write a short description of each series, provide a list of titles, and link to whichever books I had available.

The blog itself is generating minimal traffic for my booth. More importantly, the blog is increasing the value of my items to Google, which is in turn causing my items to rank higher in Google. Because my blog posts are about what I sell, those posts are making my items shoot up towards the top in the Google results. I have found some of my books in the #1 position on the very first page.

Anybody can write up a description of what is for sale and link to it. Let's say that a seller sells pink bows that are made from cloth. That seller could write a blog post about pink bows and how they can be used as fashion accessories or as a finishing touch for a wrapped present. Somewhere in that blog post the seller should link to the pink bows that are up for sale.

A seller can create separate posts for each type of product that is sold. Google loves descriptive text. This is how sellers should utilize blogs.

A good example of a seller using descriptive text to increase one's Google ranking is the Book Safari. I have linked to one of the pages. Notice that each section listed has descriptive information and that the same information appears on the page for each subsection. The Book Safari has an excellent ranking in Google for this reason.

Many people who sell on eBay may perhaps be unaware that eBay now recommends that sellers do promoting outside of eBay. The traffic on eBay is not what it once was and Best Match has made it difficult for sellers to succeed. Even eBay sellers would be well advised to begin a blog and link to their products.

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