Successful Online Gift Shop Marketing - Part 1

July 04 [Wed], 2012, 16:51

With all the great wholesale companies available, virtually anyone can
through up a WWW shingle and start a gift shop. Additionally, there are
thousands of wonderful gift shops online specializing in everything from
apple art to zebra prints. How do you compete with your online gift
shop?

Success Promotions has spent five years building successful internet
businesses and we'd like to share some valuable information with you.
Not every online business can afford a full time internet marketing
employee or an outsourced internet marketing service.

If you go to any search engine and search for gifts you will get
thousands and thousands of returns. For example, a search run on
AltaVista today for the search string "gifts" returned 12,332,556
results. After narrowing the search by adding "women's" to the search
string AltaVista returned 12,499,266 results. Incidentally, this search
returned so many jewelry sites in the first results that if you sell
women's gifts and they aren't jewelry you need to choose your keywords
very carefully. Needless to say, the sites not in the first 20 to 30
results aren't getting a tremendous amount of traffic from
AltaVista.

Here are some tips for internet marketers and gift sellers alike to help
build a more successful online business.

1. Specialize and Categorize

If you are selling two gifts or 3000 gifts you need to manage them in
categories. Think about it. Would you be able to find anything at
Walmart if they mixed the shoes with the electronics with the crafts
with the hardware? You'd walk around aimlessly for hours searching for
a pair of size six sandles with salmon colored strings. Don't make your
site visitors and potential customers search aimlessly around your site.

It helps to have a search option, but for this to work you must keyword
each product under every imaginable search word. Shoes alone wouldn't
work for sandles. You'd need to also have it pop up under footwear,
summer wear, women's attire, etc.

Furthermore, once you begin to break your gift site down into smaller,
more manageable categories, you can market EACH page to the search
engines under different keywords. Its great if every single item you
sell can be managed under a keyword or category from your main doorway
page. But why not create a sub-category doorway page for each product
category and each product line? Then you can submit all doorway/front
pages to the search engines and instead of appearing as search return
#1,456,825 you can be in the top ten for shoes, and footwear, and socks,
and sandles, and gifts, etc.

Lynn Korff, of Korff's Ceramic Originals, korfforiginals
knows this works. Her products vary from ceramic piggy banks to dinner
ware to candle holders. She breaks them down not only by product but
also by glaze patterns. Shoppers can readily find anything and then
find matching products making her site more shopper friendly and more
marketable. If you don't believe me, go to any search engine and search
for "ceramic piggy banks". Lynn is always right up there at the top.

Additionally, besides being more search engine friendly and successful,
your site can also be more shopper friendly. How many times have you
followed links for search engine returns that required you to go through
far too many multiple pages to find the search engine return you were
actually looking for? How many times did you stop searching the
particular site before you got to the object of your search?

Don't fret if this sounds like a major site re-design. The improvement
in marketability and shopability is worth every second of work.

There is no limit to the amount of products you can sell. But make them
easy to find and you will sell a lot more of each one.

2. Advertise

No surprise to find this one, huh? If you don't advertise, you don't
sell anything. People don't knock on your front door to see if you
might possibly have free puppies unless there is a sign. Don't expect
web site visitors to knock on your front URL to see if you maybe have
the exact gift item they are looking for just because you sell gifts.

You can advertise on other gift sites that market to similar niches
without selling the same products. You can advertise in online and
offline publications. You can advertise on any imaginable site that
caters to the same people you are catering to. Going back to the free
puppies analogy, suppose that you sell embroidered puppy collars.
Wouldn't a site run by the Humane Society also cater to people with
puppies? Wouldn't they be happy to swap links if you could help drive a
few puppy shopping families to their web site?

Where all you could advertise depends entireally on what you sell and
who you are attempting to sell it to. But be creative. Go to any
search engine and do a search on some of your own keywords. See if
there are special interest groups, clubs, or other organizations who
comprise of members who are your potential customers. If you sell
sportswear, start hitting little leaguers, co-ed leaguers, etc. As fast
as the internet is growing, and as many new users as appear online every
day, you should never, ever stop looking for new places to reach
potential customers. While you are advertising, remember to keep your
message simple and specialized. Don't just create a big banner that
says "gifts" in eight flashing colors. Tell potential visitors what
type of gifts you offer. We all have to have traffic to sell, but the
wrong traffic doesn't create sales.

Rose Clark of the Cabot Mall, cabotmall helps all her
mall merchants do this. She offers free ezine advertising to each of
her merchants, generating more traffic and brand name awareness for each
of them. Additionally, Rose's mall does a superb job of categorizing.

3. Market to your visitors

Think of all your advertising and marketing efforts on a Return On
Investment basis. It costs far more to get a customer than it does to
keep one.

You should be obtaining contact information from every one who visits
your web site. Email addresses. Phone numbers. Snail mail addresses.
Keep marketing to these people. Tell them about new products, sales,
specials, etc. Remind them why they surfed into your site in the first
place and invite them back. Contests are great ways to do this. If you
can give away one $5.00 widget a month and obtain 500 new contacts for
every widget given away, that is a high return on investment. Some of
the people who register to win your widget will buy one if they don't
win. And they will come back monthly to re-register. Especially if you
send a reminder to them to do so.

Cyndi Steinmetz of CDK Enterprises is very efficient in this
department. When you shop at her site, register for her contest, or
simply visit and supply your email address you enter her mailing list
for life. Monthly reminders from CDK tell me about new children's
gifts. And with four children in my home, scarecely a month goes by
that I'm not looking for something for them! Cyndi is always on my mind
because she reminds me to think about her regularly by sending me
emails. Her reminders of products keep me thinking of new ways to shop
with her all the time.

This is especially useful if you sell collectibles that are released and
retired on a regular basis. If you collect Beanie Babies, you want to
know when each one is retiring and make sure that you have it. If you
collect Longaberger Baskets, you want to be reminded when the Mother's
Day Basket is sold each year to be sure that you add it to your
collection.

4. Mail, mail, and mail some more

Email specifically. Email is the cheapest form of advertising known to
mankind - except for word of mouth. If you aren't sending emails to
customers, leads, contacts, etc., on a regular basis you are missing out
on a very powerful form of advertising. Its fast. Its easy. And its
free. Case in point. When Success Promotions has a small lull and is
in search of customers, I can obtain far more with far less effort by
contact past customers. They know what I do. They know it works. And
they may have been planning to start marketing with me again, but just
haven't gotten around to ordering. Susie Glennan, of The Busy Woman's
Daily Planner, http:/www.thebusywoman, knows this works. She
monthly sends reminders to people who haven't ordered in the past 12
months. Her products are consumed, if you will, on an annual basis.
She generates more sales by reminding customers to come back and
re-order.

Think about the life cycle of your products and do the same. Perhaps
you have a birthday product. You know one year later, the gift giver
will be shopping again. Send them an email inviting them to come back
and shop with you.

5. Plan ahead for seasonal sales

Of course Christmas applies here. But what about Valentines Day,
Easter, Channucka, Flag Day, Voting Day, and hundreds of others? If you
have gifts that apply to all occaisions generically or to specific
holidays you have to plan in advance to get your marketing message in
front of consumers at the appropriate time.

It might be hard to think about Santa Clause, cold weather, reindeer,
and jingle bells in July; but that is when you need to start planning.
Especially if you will be running special discount campaigns. Don't
wait til the last minute this year. Right now, get out your calendar
and make note of every holiday that will effect your business. Back
track anywhere from two weeks to six months in your calendar and make a
notation to begin planning and implementing campaigns for these
holidays.

6. Campaign

Politics or not, we all must group and categorize our advertising in
some manner. If you develop entire campaigns for products and
occaisions, then you are ready to roll each time with ad copy,
brochures, sales messages, etc. Don't short change yourself here. This
is where it is at for every business. And gift shops aren't any
different. If you plan to roll out six new necklaces this year, one
every two months, then you really should find some sort of campaign
method to link and organize yourself. Market them in a uniform and
pre-planned manner. And by all means, have a campaign for every new
product. Don't just clandestinely add it to your site and hope that
someone notices. Add it with a bang, and a campaign.

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