Shopify VS Squarespace

Shopify VS Squarespace

Pricing

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Tie

Cloud-Based Or Locally-Installed

Tie

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Specific Size Of Business

Tie

Hardware & Software Requirements

Tie

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Ease Of Use

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Features

Web Design

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Integrations & Add-Ons

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Payment Processing

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Customer Service & Technical Support

Negative Reviews & Testimonials

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Tie

Positive Reviews & Testimonials

Tie

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Security

Winner

Final Verdict

Review

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Review

Compare

Right away, Shopify and Squarespace both score points in my book for their names. Shopify is all about helping you build an online store where customers can shop — “shop-ify-ing” a regular website, as it were. Squarespace, by comparison, is a more traditional website builder, allowing you to create a literal “square space” (or series of square spaces) where people can view your content and images on the internet.

Thank you, Shopify and Squarespace. Your names actually make sense.

Indeed, Shopify is a household name in the world of shopping cart software, whereas Squarespace is well-known for its attractive and modern site design capabilities. Squarespace is more than just a pretty face, though. In the last few years, this platform has added ecommerce functionality at a surprising level of sophistication.

If you’re here for an epic cage match between Squarespace and Shopify, I’m guessing you’re thinking about both of these platforms in terms of ecommerce. You’re in luck, because this is the precise focus of our comparison. How does Squarespace’s ecommerce functionality and design measure up to the ecommerce powerhouse that is Shopify? How do they compare in terms of pricing, customer service, and payment processing? Keep reading for our take on these and other key facets of Shopify and Squarespace.

Don’t have time to read an entire article? Take a look at our top-rated eCommerce solutions for a few quick recommendations. Every option we present here offers excellent customer support, superb web templates, and easy-to-use software, all for a reasonable price.

 

Pricing

Winner: Squarespace

Both Shopify and Squarespace offer free 14-day trials with no credit card required, and neither charge setup or cancellation fees. From there, the two platforms begin to diverge. Here’s how the differences play out:

Shopify

  • Price Range: Choose from $29/month (Basic), $79/month (Shopify), or $299/month (Advanced) plans. There’s also a $9/month plan (Lite) for selling in-person, for embedding little “buy” buttons on other sites, and for selling on Facebook — but you don’t get an actual online store at all, so we’re leaving this plan out of our comparison for the most part.
  • Annual Subscription Discount: Save 10% when your subscription is paid annually upfront, or 20% if you pony up for two full years. For example, the Basic Plan becomes $26 or $23/month, and the Shopify Plan becomes $71 or $63/month.
  • Subscription Structure: All Basic ($29/month) plans and above include unlimited storage, products, and bandwidth. Higher subscription levels add a few features and additional staff accounts. Subscription levels also affect your Shopify transaction fees and your payment processing fees. Which leads us to…
  • Additional Transaction Fees: If you choose Shopify Payments (powered by Stripe) as your payment gateway, you are not charged any separate transaction fees. As an added bonus, you also see a gradual decrease in your payment processing fees with Shopify Payments as you climb the subscription ladder. However, if you use an alternative payment processor and not Shopify Payments, Shopify does charge extra transaction fees, beginning at 2.0% on the Basic plan. Thankfully, these fees gradually decrease to 1.0% and 0.5% as you increase your subscription.

Squarespace

  • Price Range: For ecommerce capability, you must skip over the $16/month plan and start at the $26/month (Business) level. However, merchants who’d really want to take advantage of Squarespace’s ecommerce features in a manner that’s comparable to Shopify are likely opting for the $30/month (Commerce Basic) or $46/month (Commerce Advanced) plans.
  • Annual Subscription Discount: The Business plan drops to $18, Commerce Basic to $26, and Commerce Advanced to $40 per month when paid upfront in one annual lump sum. You also qualify for a free domain registration for one year when you pay your main subscription annually.
  • Subscription Structure: Similar to Shopify, features are added as you increase your Squarespace subscription level. Bumping up to Commerce Basic or Advanced will eliminate separate Squarespace transaction fees.
  • Additional Transaction Fees: A 3.0% fee (above your gateway fees) is incurred by Squarespace on every purchase if you’re on the Business Plan. This additional transaction fee is eliminated, however, on Commerce Basic and Advanced.

For a direct comparison with Shopify, use the smaller print, month-to-month figures for Squarespace (Commerce Basic $30 and Commerce Advanced $46). Shopify promotes month-to-month figures ($29, $79, or $299).

Confusing enough for you? With all these pricing components, you can’t actually perform a true apples-to-apples comparison of cost. In truth, both Shopify and Squarespace offer a fair market price for their services. I will say that the transaction fee issue is problematic with both companies, especially since many competing platforms have eliminated these extra charges altogether. The good news is that each platform at least offers some way out of these fees.

In the end, I’m primarily basing my pricing verdict on one key factor: Squarespace offers its complete arsenal of features for only $46/month ($40/month if paid annually). In contrast, Shopify reserves its premium features for sellers with much deeper pockets (six and a half times deeper, to be exact). The big question is: does Squarespace offer enough ecommerce features at that $46/month level? The answer will depend on your business needs, but you can keep reading to develop a clearer picture of each platform.

Cloud-Based Or Locally-Installed

Winner: Tie

Your Shopify or Squarespace store will be fully-hosted. No need to download and install either one locally.

Specific Size Of Business

Winner: Shopify

Both platforms allow unlimited bandwidth and products, but Shopify is better at accommodating a wider range of business sizes and product catalogs. In addition, Shopify provides a natural growth option via Shopify Plus, whereas Squarespace offers no enterprise-level plan at this time. On the other hand, if you happen to sell a handful of very expensive products (and that’s what makes your business “big”), Squarespace could still work swimmingly for you.

Hardware & Software Requirements

Winner: Tie

Since Squarespace and Shopify are both SaaS (Software as a Service) platforms, you only need a computer, an internet connection, and an up-to-date browser to use either service. Both also provide Android and iOS apps for managing and editing your store.

Regarding supported browsers, Squarespace edges out Shopify by offering Chrome and Safari support on Linux operating systems, while Shopify only works with Windows and Mac. Meanwhile, Shopify stores are optimized for Samsung Internet in addition to Chrome and Safari browsers when viewed on mobile. Depending on your point of view, these finer points may or may not make a difference, so I’m still calling it a draw in this category.

Ease Of Use

Winner: Shopify

With both platforms specializing in general ease of use, we really need to examine Squarespace and Shopify in terms of usability for ecommerce.

Neither platform has a dedicated setup tutorial inside the dashboard, but both have documentation and instructional videos handy. If you’re accustomed to using or testing popular ecommerce platforms like Shopify, Squarespace will definitely have its own learning curve. Once I got the hang of it, though, I could operate the backend quite smoothly.

When you create a trial account with Shopify, you’re taken to the main admin panel. Shopify’s admin is structured like most ecommerce dashboards I’ve seen. Although you can preview your storefront at any time, your backend functions are kept separate from the storefront.

Shopify Dashboard:

With Squarespace, however, you must choose a theme (you can change it later) before you even get to see your admin panel. Once the admin opens, your dashboard is actually a combination of your backend control panel on the left, and your storefront preview on the right.

Squarespace Dashboard:

Although I can vouch that both platforms are very easy to use in the grand scheme, I find navigation of Squarespace’s backend to be slightly trickier than Shopify’s. The Squarespace UI is structured so that there are more dashboard layers to dig through — and then dig back out of again. Additionally, the left control panel menu changes (or even disappears) depending on what layer you happen to be in at the moment, which can be disorienting. This is in contrast to Shopify’s menu, which remains a fixed anchor point for admin navigation.

Take a quick look at the following screens from each platform to see what I mean:

Add A Product — Shopify:

You can see above that my main menu remains fixed on the left side of the dashboard as I enter my product details.

Add A Product — Squarespace:

With Squarespace, I’m already a couple of dashboard layers in, my left sidebar is gone, and I must dive one more screen deep from here to even enter my price. Also, what is not shown above is that you can’t just jump right in and start adding products with Squarespace like you can with Shopify and other online store builders. Even with Squarespace’s ecommerce-friendly templates, you must create a separate product page for your website first. I admit I had to resort to Squarespace’s documentation to figure this out, since I’m accustomed to ecommerce dashboards that make adding your first product a completely frictionless process.

Adding and managing inventory is just one piece of running an online store, but it remains a reliable ease of use test case. While you can list unlimited products with Squarespace, I think the backend interface is better designed for sellers offering a relatively small number of aesthetically-oriented products. Merchants with a large inventory will appreciate Shopify’s clear menus, efficient navigation, and the way in which product data is ultimately organized.

Features

Winner: Shopify

Shopify is the deserving winner in the features category. With solid out-of-the-box functionality and a rich add-on ecosystem, the blunt truth is that Shopify has spent much more time and resources cultivating features specifically for online sellers.

That said, there are a few features Squarespace offers that even Shopify lacks. Another thing to keep in mind is that Squarespace’s comparatively small feature set may still be just right for certain sizes and types of companies.

Key features of both platforms include:

  • Unlimited products, bandwidth, and storage
  • Free SSL certificate
  • Sell physical or digital products
  • Shipping & accounting integrations
  • Inventory & order management
  • Offer gift cards
  • Create discounts and coupons
  • Checkout on your domain
  • Abandoned cart recovery
  • Guest checkout & customer accounts
  • Real-time, carrier-calculated shipping
  • Analytics & reports
  • SEO tools

I’d say the Shopify versions of some of the above features are stronger or more versatile than the Squarespace versions. For example, the discount engine is much more flexible with Shopify.

Now, here are a few features that differentiate the two platforms:

Shopify

  • App store with thousands of integrations
  • Point of sale integration (Shopify POS or third-party POS)
  • Manual order creation (virtual terminal)
  • Proprietary shipping platform (Shopify Shipping) for carrier discounts and label printing
  • Extensive dropshipping capability
  • Enterprise expansion available via Shopify Plus
  • Abandoned cart recovery at cheaper plan level

Squarespace

  • Unlimited staff contributors on all ecommerce plans
  • G Suite integration (full year free)
  • $100 Google AdWords voucher
  • Free domain for a year if you pay annually
  • Customizable checkout forms
  • In-dashboard product image editing
  • Third-party calculated shipping rates at cheaper plan level

Web Design

Winner: Squarespace

Both platforms offer elegant, modern templates that are fully mobile responsive. Here’s a quick comparison of template stats:

Shopify Themes

  • 67 total templates, most with 2-4 style variations
  • 10 templates are free and supported by Shopify developers
  • Remaining third-party themes cost $140-$180

Squarespace Themes

  • 90 templates organized into 21 template families
  • All templates are free and supported by Squarespace developers

Within these themes, both platforms facilitate the adjustment of fonts, colors, and layouts without any coding experience. In fact, I’d say both services offer more flexibility in this area than the average ecommerce store builder. If you still run into design limitations or simply want to alter the code, each site builder makes it relatively easy to customize your store with HTML, CSS, and Javascript.

The overall web design winner is a tough one to call, because that decision really depends on the type and number of products you intend to sell, with Squarespace catering to smaller catalogs with visual interest. If we were deciding strictly based on the variety of pre-made templates designed for stores selling lots of stuff, Shopify would snag the win.

That said, here are some ways Squarespace stands out when it comes to design:

  • All templates are free, and all are created and supported by Squarespace.
  • Offers a more versatile drag-and-drop editor for page layout customization.
  • Allows you to edit your product images from within your dashboard.
  • Uses a common templating language (JSON), versus Shopify’s own invented language (Liquid).

Was this category too close to call? Share your thoughts in the comments!

Integrations & Add-Ons

Winner: Shopify

Shopify has an impressive app store with around 2500 integrations — more than the vast majority of SaaS ecommerce platforms at large. While add-ons can certainly increase your monthly expenditure with Shopify, there’s no denying that your choices are plentiful. Plus, since a huge community of developers and merchants interact with Shopify apps, you also have access to thousands upon thousands of detailed user reviews.

Squarespace takes a completely different approach to integrations. No app store is offered, but Squarespace spins this as an advantage. Any pre-built integrations (about 70 in total) are already incorporated into your dashboard and fully tech-supported by Squarespace. Aside from payment providers (Stripe, PayPal, Apple Pay) and shipping carriers (UPS, USPS, and FedEx), there are just a small handful of official Squarespace integrations specifically related to ecommerce. Here are a few key add-ons:

  • ShipStation: Order fulfillment
  • Xero: Accounting
  • MailChimp: Email marketing
  • Zapier: Workflow automation, multi-app connector

Just like many Shopify apps, several Squarespace apps have monthly subscription fees of their own. And, just like with Shopify, you can always build custom integrations if you have those skills or can hire someone who does. To put things in quick perspective, however, Squarespace has one official shipping/fulfillment app in ShipStation. Shopify has over 280 choices in its “Orders & Shipping” category, and over 600 results pop up if I simply type “shipping” in the app store’s search bar.

The win in this category goes to Shopify, the reigning monarch of ecommerce integrations. Besides keeping decision-making overload at bay, the trick with Shopify add-ons is to always check the quality (including quality of developer support) and ongoing cost of each integration.

Payment Processing

Winner: Shopify

Shopify wins at payment processing for one primary reason: flexibility. Consider the sheer number of gateway options with Shopify — over 100. With Squarespace, Stripe and PayPal are your only choices. More gateway options means availability in more countries and currencies, more ways for your customers to pay, better odds of finding the perfect processor for your specific needs, and even the opportunity to customize your own pricing model and rates in some cases. With Shopify, you can also accept cryptocurrencies or set up manual payment methods like cash on delivery, money orders, and bank transfers.

This is not the end of the story, however. Factor in the additional transaction fees that may be charged by either platform depending on your situation, as well as Shopify’s payment processing discounts with Shopify Payments (powered by Stripe), and the comparison becomes more nuanced.

As we examine these complications further, keep in mind that the going rate to process ecommerce transactions with most gateways these days is 2.9% + $0.30.

Here’s how your processing will work with Squarespace according to your subscription level:

Squarespace + PayPal and/or Stripe

  • Business ($26/mo.): 2.9% + $0.30, + 3.0% Squarespace fee = 5.9% + $0.30 per transaction
  • Commerce Basic ($30/mo.): 2.9% + $0.30
  • Commerce Advanced ($46/mo.): 2.9% + $0.30

Those are the only potential processing costs you’re looking at with Squarespace. That additional 3.0% Squarespace fee on the Business plan is pretty brutal, but as soon as you upgrade to Commerce Basic for an extra $4/month, it disappears. For this reason, I don’t think the Business plan is a sustainable option for most ecommerce stores.

Now, let’s take a quick look at Shopify, remembering that using Shopify Payments as your gateway provides two perks: 1) no extra Shopify transaction fee on any plan, and 2) decreased payment processing fees as you upgrade your overall Shopify subscription.

Shopify + Shopify Payments

  • Basic ($29/mo.): 2.9% + $0.30
  • Shopify ($79/mo.): 2.6% + $0.30
  • Advanced ($299/mo.): 2.4% + $0.30

Shopify + Alternative Gateway (Generic Example)

  • Basic ($29/mo.): 2.9% + $0.30, + 2.0% Shopify fee = 4.9% + $0.30
  • Shopify ($79/mo.): 2.9% + $0.30, + 1.0% Shopify fee = 3.9% + $0.30
  • Advanced ($299/mo.): 2.9% + 0.30, + 0.5% Shopify fee = 3.4% + $0.30

Another twist is that Shopify Payments is currently only available for businesses located in 10 countries, so you’re stuck with an alternative gateway and that pesky Shopify transaction fee if your country isn’t included. (Squarespace at least doesn’t punish you for something you can’t control — your location.) On the flip side, if you are in one of the supported countries, you could opt to use Shopify Payments in addition to any of the other gateways Shopify offers to increase your customers’ payment options.

In a perfect world, both platforms would let you pick your own processor from among many, and never penalize you with extra transaction fees for any reason! Both Shopify and Squarespace have their own flaws in this regard.

So, what does this all mean for your business? The short answer is math. To determine the real winner in this category for your own company, you must consider your monthly subscription cost to either platform, your average number of transactions per month, and your average transaction size — not to mention the countries and currencies involved. Because the best platform and subscription level for your business depends on these and other factors, I award Shopify the payment processing win for at least making things interesting!

Customer Service & Technical Support

Winner: Shopify

In terms of overall quality of customer support, both Shopify and Squarespace receive mixed user reviews. That said, Merchant Maverick’s own experiences with customer service and technical support would award Shopify the victory in this category. We’ve had better luck contacting the Shopify support team through the available channels — even when they’ve been unaware that we are software reviewers on the prowl.

Shopify also has more available support channels and more open-hours. Take a look:

Shopify

  • Phone: 24/7
  • Email: 24/7
  • Live Chat: 24/7

Squarespace

  • Phone: None
  • Email: 24/7
  • Live Chat: Monday-Friday, 4AM-8PM

Squarespace publishes a whole manifesto on its website explaining why no phone support is offered if you’d like to read it for yourself. Although they don’t come right out and say it, the bottom line is that this helps keep overall costs down. Meanwhile, not being able to contact a live person (even via live chat) after 5pm Pacific time is pretty brutal if you’re running an online store. Squarespace should know better — ecommerce never sleeps:

One final note in this category: both platforms provide several self-help resources — community forums, blogs, video tutorials, webinars, knowledgebase articles, and the like. However, note that Shopify resources are 100% geared toward ecommerce, whereas you’ll have to wade through other topics to find ecommerce resources at the Squarespace site.

Negative Reviews & Complaints

Winner: Squarespace

When comparing user reviews for these platforms, it’s important to keep in mind the difficulty in teasing out feedback on Squarespace that is specifically related to ecommerce. Despite its growing ecommerce capability, Squarespace typically ends up in the generic website builder category on most review sites, with users discussing traditional website building issues.

Those caveats aside, here are some of the most common issues that come up for each platform:

Shopify

  • Extra transaction fees when not using Shopify Payments
  • Costly add-ons
  • Poor customer support
  • Frustration with Shopify Payments

Squarespace

  • Glitches & bugs
  • Poor/limited customer support
  • Limited theme customization

Of course, traditional website builders tend to get raked over the coals for the slightest theme customization limitations. We’ve already said Squarespace’s design capability is quite good overall, particularly when compared to a lot of shopping cart builders. When customers do criticize Squarespace specifically on ecommerce, there are no consistent patterns emerging so far. For this reason, I award this category to Squarespace based on a “no news is good news” argument. We’ll keep checking back for patterns.

Positive Reviews & Testimonials

Winner: Tie

Both Shopify and Squarespace tend to rate highly for overall customer satisfaction on user review websites. On top of that, both platforms are known for their ease of use and elegant templates. And, along with all the negative review of customer support both software programs have received, users of both platforms have been known to also sing praises for customer support. The combination of these factors led me to call this one a draw.

Once again, we’re faced with the dilemma that there’s not a whole lot of feedback about Squarespace’s ecommerce offerings. I have definitely seen several generic comments, such as “good for ecommerce!” Honestly, I think people are mostly pleased (and perhaps a bit surprised) that there’s some solid ecommerce capability available with Squarespace at all. I haven’t come across many users directly comparing their experiences with the two platforms.

Security

Winner: Shopify

Our combatants are quite close in this category. Both offer PCI (Payment Card Industry) compliance, a free SSL (Secure Socket Layer) certificate for your site, two-factor authentication for logging in to your account, a CDN (Content Delivery Network), and even provide methods for complying with the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) laws implemented by the EU in 2018.

The main difference I can see is that Shopify’s checkout pages are covered by an industry-standard, 256-bit shared SSL certificate. Squarespace’s checkout pages are covered by a less-robust, 128-bit certificate. My understanding is that while 128-bit encryption may end up working slightly faster, it’s technically less secure.

Final Verdict

Winner: Shopify

Squarespace put up a good fight in several categories, but Shopify emerges victorious as the better ecommerce website builder. Shopify’s pricing, core feature set, and vast app store can serve budding sellers on the Lite plan, all the way up to enterprise clients using Shopify Plus. Meanwhile, ecommerce was quite literally an afterthought for Squarespace. The platform’s developers have done an admirable job adding features for online selling, but they just can’t compete with Shopify’s dominance here.

As we’ve said time and again in this comparison, Squarespace still provides an interesting option for sellers who’d like to feature a small number of products with aesthetic appeal. Especially if you’ve already been using Squarespace to develop your company story and brand, I’d definitely recommend fully exploring the ecommerce feature set — perhaps by bumping up your subscription for just month or two — before completely abandoning ship for Shopify or another dedicated shopping cart builder.

I’ll offer one more interesting twist before you head off to test Shopify and/or Squarespace for yourself. Some users have actually used the two services in combination. How? By integrating those “buy now” buttons from a $9/month Shopify Lite plan into an existing Squarespace website. It’s a roundabout option, to be sure, but it also gives you access to in-person selling with the Shopify POS app. At any rate, take that as some final food for thought, and best of luck in your search for the perfect ecommerce platform.

The post Shopify VS Squarespace appeared first on Merchant Maverick.

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How To Choose The Best Products to Sell Online

Best Products to Sell Online

You’ve probably landed here on this beautiful wall of text because you’re wanting to start an online store and are wondering, “What are the best products to sell online?”

The short version – it depends 🙂

The long version – keep reading for specific ideas to find the best product for you to sell online.

There are hundreds of articles out there talking about trending products for [insert year here], the best all-time products, rising products, etc., but these resources are typically 100% based on what’s happening now.

So, how do you know what the best products are in general?

Again, spoiler alert: there is no such thing as a best product to sell online!

Sure, there are basic principles to stick to, such as

  • products with a high average order value
  • things that can be drop shipped / don’t require a high-touch in store experience
  • products that can be shipped cheaply and easily, etc.

But with that said, if you look at the brands that are killing it online right now, like Native, Dollar Shave Club, and Tuft & Needle… they break all of those “rules”. Native sells deodorant, Dollar Shave Club built an entire business on super-cheap razors, and Tuft & Needle sells mattresses (a product that typically requires a high-touch in-store experience with high shipping costs).

I’m a firm believer that there’s no such thing as the “best” anything — instead, I operate from “best for your skills, knowledge, resources, and goals”.

So when it comes to starting your online store, the key is to move out of the “best product to sell online” mindset and into the “best product for ME to sell online” mindset. And that’s a product that fits your skill set, knowledge, resources, timeline, and market demand.

There are several approaches to finding the best product to sell online for you… and that’s what I’ll be breaking down in this post.

How to Find the Best Products to Sell Online (For You)

The Product Research Route (Amazon scraping, Adplexity, etc)

Thanks to platforms like Amazon, anyone can sell something online — and luckily for you, there is a giant trove of product data just waiting for you on the Internet.

One way to figure out what to sell is by looking at other products that are performing well and weighing those against your own wants and needs.

The goal here is to collect data on what’s working already, then reverse engineer an ecommerce strategy to sell it.

For example, let’s say you’re looking on Amazon for bestselling dog toys. You could look at niches within dog toys to niche-down into subcategories, look at best-selling products within those subcategories, see top sellers to identify competitors — the opportunities are endless.

Amazon Bestselling Dog Toys

The bonus here is you don’t have to do this manually — and you’re not limited to Amazon’s data. Spy tools like Adplexity and Jungle Scout can aggregate product data across several ecommerce platforms and even show you competitor’s ads so you can reverse engineer a marketing strategy that works.

With that said, keep in mind that everyone has access to this data, which means you won’t be the only one reverse engineering a successful product. What’s really going to set you apart is choosing a successful product that fits your own criteria and knocking your marketing strategy out of the park.

The Persona Research Route

People are constantly searching for things online. Think about your own behavior — where do you go when you’re looking for the “best swimsuits for speed” or “most durable dog toys for puppies”?

As a business owner, you can use this data to figure out what people actually want and give it to them. In marketing, this approach is known as creating a persona (marketing jargon for a description of your ideal customer).

An effective persona defines what your ideal customer actually wants. Who are they? What problems do they have? How can you solve these problems.

Use tools like Facebook Audience Insights, Pinterest, Google Display Planner, Trend Hunter, and basic keyword research (see here) to create 2-4 personas that outline your ideal customers. Be as descriptive as possible by including things like job title, favorite device, pay scale, main frustrations & problems, end goals, what they do in their spare time, etc. Use this detailed guide by Moz to guide you through the process.

Remember that your personas don’t have to be the end all be all. The focus here is to define your initial target market that’s small enough you can effectively reach them but large enough to get some insight on what products will fit their needs (and to get some initial sales and feedback on those products so you can polish what you’re offering).

Nearly every business started this way (think about how Facebook started by targeting college students). Here’s a podcast episode explaining this concept [skip to the ~ 11-minute mark].

The Sell What You Know Route

Perhaps the most self-explanatory method for finding the best product to sell online is selling what you know. What are you good at? Passionate about? Experienced with? Use that experience, channel it into a need, and sell it.

Take Quad Lock, a bike mount designed by a biker who was unsatisfied with the mounts on the market, so he designed one he wanted and sold it. The founder used used his own experience (biking) and pain point (ineffective mounts for his iPhone) to create a product that others love too.

Keep in mind though, it isn’t just about the product. Quad Lock leveraged reviews and Facebook and Google ads to get the right people to the product. You’ll need to have a proper and realistic marketing funnel behind whatever it is you’re selling.

The Build an Audience Route

Traditionally, ecommerce business owners take a “build it and they will come” approach to product development and selling online. This method takes the opposite approach. Instead of creating a product and finding an audience to sell it to, you’ll first build an audience and bring them a product they actually want.

Both approaches have advantages — again, there is no blanket “best” way or “best” product to sell online. Once again, it depends on your goals.

Building your product first and selling it to an audience could bring in revenue faster (as long as you build a product that actually sells). However, you do run a higher risk of creating a product that doesn’t fit the market as well as it might if you were to build an audience first, learn about them, and give them what you want.

The tradeoff here is time vs. money. If you have the time to build out an audience, nurture them, and build a minimally viable product to get feedback on, this route can save you the headache of launching a product that no one wants (see The $100 Startup). However, if you need to generate revenue quickly, this path might not be the best option.

The Rapid Product Testing Route

If you’ve ever donated to a kickstarter campaign, or if you know anything about Tim Ferris and the 4-Hour Work Week, then you know how successful rapid testing a bunch of product ideas can be.

Ferriss did it with different ads, headlines, and even book titles until he found what worked, and you can take the same approach with your own product development. The goal here is to get a ton of data quickly. What are people clicking on? What are they signing up to learn more about? What’s sticking? Once you have that info, keep what works and get rid of what doesn’t.

Again, the tradeoff here is time and/or money. You have to give yourself enough of a runway to actually test and get the data, whether you’re starting a campaign on Kickstarter, offering email and social demos to find that one customer with a new idea, or running multiple Google Adwords campaigns to test which promotions get the most traction.

The Niche / Tailwind Route

Sometimes it’s worth sticking to what’s already working. Similar to reverse engineering products that are performing well and fit your criteria, you can also find a growing niche and/or company and build out products that complement them.

A classic example of this is the cell phone case industry. Before the iPhone blew up, cell phone cases were practically non-existent. But once the iPhone took off, an entire niche industry was born.

This is happening all the time. Think about Peloton — the at home spin bike that’s building an entire submarket that needs attention. There are constantly new opportunities to hop on board with what’s working and complement it with submarket products of your own.

The Supplier / Numbers Route

Keep in mind that you don’t always have to supply a product. Sometimes the best product to sell online could be one that someone else has created. In this scenario, you’d focus on building a killer marketing strategy for the product.

For example, let’s say you have a dentist friend who has a patented a new mouthguard that’s amazing, but he has no idea how to sell it. You could start an ecommerce business with exclusive access to the product at a price that makes sense. He’d be your supplier while you’d focus on getting sales.

Even if you don’t know someone directly who has an amazing product, you could always research suppliers on AliExpress or Alibaba, or connect to people who have great industry contacts in a niche you know well enough to navigate profit margins and create a marketing strategy that gets the products to move.

Alibaba

Either way, you’re removing yourself from the product definition. Instead, you’re looking at suppliers who have already created a killer product and need someone (AKA you) to sell it.

Next Steps / Takeaways

Finding the best products to sell online really has less to do with there being a “best” product and more to do with having a system and approach to finding a product that fits your own needs, skills, and means.

Instead of randomly brainstorming and endlessly searching online for that one big idea, take time to do an inventory of your own needs. Think about your skill set, knowledge, resources, and timeline to launch your product. Then, choose one of the methods above to find the product that best aligns with your defined criteria.

You also want to find the best way to sell – here’s how to choose the best ecommerce platform.

The post How To Choose The Best Products to Sell Online appeared first on ShivarWeb.

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How to Advertise on eBay Effectively

How To Advertise on eBay

eBay is one of the oldest and most well established online marketplaces. With millions of active users, it can be an important sales channel for your ecommerce business, regardless of the industry you’re in.

While eBay has been thought of by many as a marketplace that connects individuals, akin to a sort of digital yard sale, the climate has certainly changed in recent years.

eBay has been able to successfully shake the connotation that it’s a forum for used merchandise, collectibles, and heavily discounted new merchandise. In doing so, they’ve been able to diversify their customer and seller bases.

Today, many of the largest retailers and manufacturers in the country use eBay. For many businesses, it has become a particularly lucrative way to sell their products.

Not only has eBay become a powerful sales tool for these businesses, but it’s also one of the cheapest marketplaces for sellers to move their products. Compared to other powerful marketplaces like Amazon, eBay fees are typically 25% less for sellers.

In 2017, eBay opened up a whole new world to their network of sellers: advertising. Their unique set of advertising tools has made it easier than ever for sellers to reach the customers who are prepared to make a purchase.

But, before you can use these advertising tools to maximize your sales, you’ll need to learn how these tools work, and what makes them different from other advertising options you may have on different marketplaces.

Today, we’ll cover the ins and outs of how to advertise on eBay to increase sales. Whether you’re an individual looking to sell a few items quickly, or you’re a brand or distributor looking to establish a presence on eBay, we’ll cover everything you need to know.

advertising services boost the visibility of your listing by 30%.

Most sellers find that new items with no sales history and seasonal items tend to benefit the most from eBay advertising. eBay advertising can also be a great way to increase the sales velocity of some of your best selling items as well.

As with any other form of digital advertising, a strong product coupled with a compelling advertising campaign will ensure the best possible results. Fortunately, eBay makes it easy for you to test and tweak your campaigns until you’ve arrived at the ideal advertising mix for your particular product.

In addition to their performance-based advertising, which is popular with sellers of all sizes, eBay also has a program designed for major brands and manufacturers. This program provides your brand with key ad placements throughout the customer sales journey.

eBay’s brand solutions combine precision targeting, display advertising, and meaningful content to create a comprehensive advertising solution across all platforms, including the eBay app, desktop, and mobile sites.

These tools are particularly helpful for large brands, especially those dealing in big-ticket merchandise. This interactive demo featuring Trifex drones is a good example of how these types of campaigns work.

Google Adwords and Amazon Sponsored Products are good examples of CPC advertising.

CPS (cost per sale) advertising is the type of advertising that eBay uses. With CPS advertising, you’re not charged for impressions or for clicks that don’t result in a sale. The only time you’re charged is when the click results in a sale for your store.

This type of advertising is usually the most expensive form of digital advertising, but it’s also the most effective. If your primary goal is to drive sales for your store, CPS advertising may be a good fit for you.

The other characteristic that separates eBay’s advertising is the way you pay for it. Unlike other ad programs, which charge your credit card for a set number of impressions or for each click you receive, eBay keeps everything in-house, and deducts the cost of your advertising from the sale of each product you advertise.

This helps to keep things simple, and it also makes it much easier for small stores with limited capital to advertise their products and compete with larger sellers. Because of the way eBay’s ad program is set up, it’s also inherently easier for you to scale your advertising as you grow.

To create a promoted listing, you’ll need to log into your seller account on eBay. Once you’re logged in, eBay will redirect you to your seller dashboard. From there, hover over the marketing tab, then select promoted listings.

On the promoted listings page, you’ll see information about any campaigns you currently have running. To create a new campaign, scroll down to the bottom of the page and click the button on the right.

Then, you’ll have the option to choose between selecting individual products to advertise, or selecting listings in bulk. If you’re looking to advertise thousands of products at once, all under the same campaign, the bulk tool will be the best fit for you.

Otherwise, selecting the individual listings you wish to advertise as part of this campaign is probably the best fit for you. When selecting products individually, you can still include up to 500 different SKUs as part of each campaign, which helps to save a significant amount of time.

Once you’ve selected the different products you want to include in the campaign, you’ll set the ad rate you’re willing to allocate towards the campaign. You can apply a uniform ad rate for every product in the campaign, or you can select individual ad rates for each product.

eBay makes this process easy for you by providing a trending rate for each product in the campaign. The trending rate is what other sellers in the ad program are allocating towards their advertising. You can control the ad rate percentage by clicking the +/- icons.

Once you’ve set the ad rate for each item in your campaign, all you need to do is name your campaign, select a start date, agree to the terms of service, and launch your campaign.

As you can see, creating an advertising campaign on eBay is a streamlined process that’s much more user-friendly than creating ads on other platforms or marketplaces.

The promoted listings dashboard lets you know how many campaigns you have, how many listings you’re promoting, how many ad clicks you’ve received, how many units you’ve sold, the ad fees you’ll be charged for the sales you’ve made, and your total sales.

You can adjust the dashboard to show you your results from the last 7, 14 or 31 days. You can also create a custom date range.

Scrolling down past the advertising dashboard will provide you with more information for each campaign you have running.

From the actions tab to the right, you can pause or end your campaigns, and download detailed reports about each campaign, which makes it much easier to track the success of your various campaigns.

free shipping. Free shipping at $49 would be an example of this type of discount.
  • Codeless coupon – This unique promotion allows you to create custom URLs with a built-in coupon for you to share on social media, or with friends and family.
  • Category Markdown – With this promotion, you can create a sale event on an entire category of products, like “25% off all laptops” or something similar.
  • To create a promotion, click the marketing tab from your seller dashboard and navigate to “promotions” on the left-hand side of the page. There, you’ll find info about any promotions you’re currently running and promotions you’ve run in the past. This is also where you’ll create new promotions.

    Click the blue “create a promotion” button on the right of the page. This will trigger a drop-down menu where you can choose between creating an order discount, shipping discount, codeless coupon or a sale event.

    Depending on your goals for the promotion, one of these sale types may be better suited to you than the others. If your goal is to drive sales of an individual product, a no minimum purchase discount is typically best. If your goal is to liquidate inventory, a buy one get one deal may be helpful. Or, if you’re looking to increase customer awareness of the other products in your inventory, a quantity discount could be a good fit.

    Once you’ve chosen the promotion you’d like to run, you can select the products or categories the promotion will apply to. eBay gives you the option of doing this for the specific products you choose, or you can create rules based on categories and filters, and eBay will automatically add any product that fits your rules to the promotion, including new products you add in the future that also fit the rules you’ve defined.

    Once you’ve selected the products you’d like to include in the promotion, you’ll set how long you’d like the promotion to run for, and provide some copy for the offer banner. eBay will display the offer banner throughout the shopping journey of your buyer. Once that’s complete, hit the launch button, and your promotion will go live.

    You can offer a shipping discount on a minimum dollar amount or a minimum order quantity. You can also offer a discount with no minimum at all. The most popular and effective promotion is free shipping, but you may wish to create a flat rate shipping discount instead.

    For example, if you typically charge $12 to ship an order, you may want to consider offering $5 shipping on orders of $50 or more. You can also use this promotion to offer shipping upgrades, such as free or discounted two-day shipping when you buy three or more items from the store.

    Once you’ve defined the type of shipping discount you’d like to create, you can select the products you’d like to exclude from the promotion. You can select SKUs individually, or create a rule to exclude certain SKUs.

    Next, you’ll enter a short description for your promotion. For example “FREE shipping on all Marc Jacobs handbags.” This description will display underneath the promotion on your product pages.

    Next, you’ll schedule the start and end dates of your promotion. You can also set the promotion to begin immediately. Once scheduled, you can select a product image to display next to the promotion if you’d like, or you can leave that field blank, and eBay will automatically pull a relevant picture from your listing into this field.

    The final step before your promotion is created is to prioritize the promotion. If you currently aren’t running any promotions, you’ll skip this step. But, if there’s more than one available promotion for these products, you can choose which promotion displays first to prospective buyers.

    Once you’ve completed all these steps, your promotion is ready to launch.

    First, you’ll define the terms of the discount. You can offer either a dollar discount or a percentage discount when a customer spends a specific dollar amount in your store, or when they offer a specific number of products.

    Once you’ve defined the terms for your offer, you’ll select the items in your store you’d like the offer to apply to. From there, you’ll create a description of your campaign and schedule it.

    Once you’ve completed the campaign, eBay will provide you with a special link that your customers will need to use to unlock this special discount. The deal will not be visible to any eBay shoppers that don’t have access to the link.

    You can include this special discount link in emails, on your website, or in other advertising your store engages in outside of eBay. This promotion is virtually identical to the order discount promotion we covered earlier, with the only difference being it will only be available to a select group of shoppers who have a link to the promotion.

    Next, you’ll define the discount. You can either offer a percentage off, or a dollar amounts off of the total purchase price. With a percentage discount, you’re able to set up to ten different discounts within a single campaign. Let’s say you run a camera store; this promotion would be particularly useful if you’d like to offer 20% off the purchase of a camera and 50% off the purchase of camera accessories.

    When creating a new eBay listing (or when revising an existing one), there are a few small promotional options available to you. You can choose to have the title of your listing bolded, and you can also add a subtitle that will display below your title to describe your item more fully.

    These are small steps you can take to improve the visibility of your listing beyond the advertising methods we’ve already discussed. But, you’ll need to evaluate your listings on an individual basis to see if this makes sense for your products. At $6 for a bolded title, smaller ticket items don’t make economic sense to promote in this way.

    Optimizing Your Listings

    In addition to the variety of advertising and promotional tools eBay makes available to its sellers, you can also optimize your listings to increase your item’s exposure.

    Much like Google, eBay has their own proprietary search engine that it uses to pull up relevant search results for buyers. These tips may be able to help your overall performance in eBay search, which will lead to an increase in views, which should translate to an increase in sales.

    Offering free shipping may be the single most effective way to optimize your listings and search positioning. Plus, just because you offer free shipping doesn’t mean you’re offering free shipping. You can bake the cost of shipping into the price you’re charging for the item.

    How to Advertise on eBay Effectively appeared first on ShivarWeb.

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    How to Promote Your Website Online (for free!)

    How To Promote Your Website

    So you want to promote your website online…for free, preferably.

    By now, you probably know from experience that the “build it and they will come” philosophy is flawed. You can have great content — in fact, you need at least “good” content — but unless you know how to promote it, your site is a ghost town. But you also don’t have the budget to go straight to advertising online.

    You don’t need a grab bag of tips and tricks. You don’t need best practices to “go viral”. Instead – what you need is an actual process to follow that you can consistently do – to create a “flywheel effect“.

    Here is an exact, step-by-step strategy that I recommend to anyone who wants to promote their website online. The specific details vary, but it’s a pretty tried and true path for anyone who wants to promote their website.

    Start with Definitions & Goals

    Before you do anything, you’ve got to start with the foundation: what are you trying to achieve?

    Aside – “making money” or “getting customers” does not count. The key is to get specific. Quantify your marketing in other words.

    This is the part so many people either get stuck on or skip entirely. Usually, website owners just want to dive in and start doing, doing, doing.

    While getting your site out there and testing is great, you need a balance. It’s just as important to test with the right methods as it is to collect a ton of data and learn from it

    There are three things you need to figure out before you dive in:

    • what you’re promoting
    • who you’re promoting it to
    • how much you can actually spend on promotion

    Let’s break them down.

    What You’re Promoting (Your Product)

    What is it that you’re actually offering/promoting on your website? A product? A service? Valuable content?

    Whatever it is, you need to be able to define it and sell the value. What makes you different from the million and one others out there?

    Remember, this doesn’t need to be your life’s mission. In fact, it shouldn’t be. You need to define your product in a clear and concise way. Keep it simple and to the point  — and make sure you emphasize why you’re different.

    Who You’re Promoting It To (Persona)

    A persona is marketing jargon for a profile of your target audience and having one is crucial to your marketing.

    Before your start promoting your website, you’ve got to know who you’re actually promoting it to. What do they want? What problems do they have? How do you solve those problems?

    Create 2-4 personas for your brand that outline your ideal customers. Be as descriptive as possible by including things like job title, favorite device, payscale, main frustrations and problems, end goals, what they do in their spare time, etc. Use this detailed guide by Moz to guide you through the process.

    Remember that your personas don’t have to be the end all be all. The focus here is to define your initial target market that’s small enough you can effectively reach them but large enough to get some sales and feedback to polish what you’re offering (your product/website/brand).

    Nearly every business started this way (think about how Facebook started by targeting college students).Here’s a podcast episode explaining this concept[skip to the ~11 minute mark].

    How Much You Can Spend on Promotion (Time & Financial Budget)

    Thinking there’s no overhead online is lethal. You’ve got to put real numbers behind what you’re doing. Marketing costs money or time… so put real goals in place.

    Outline your budget, even if it feels arbitrary. Define your product/services costs, profit margins, and what kind of marketing spend gives you a positive return. Here’s a more extensive post on quant-based marketing.”

    Lay the Foundation

    Once you have your goals and definitions laid out, it’s time to lay the foundation. While “build it and they will come” is a flawed philosophy, once you start getting them to come, you need to be sure what you’ve created is decent and captures data.

    This is divided into three steps:

    Website / Destination Set Up

    To promote anything online long-term*, you need a decent website. Whether you’re an ecommerce business who needs an online store, a local business with a brick and mortar store, or an educational website that needs a place to publish content, a decent-looking website will put you ahead and allow you to do more with your brand and marketing.

    *Aside – when I say long-term – I mean that you don’t want your project compromised by the whims of a platform (I’m looking at you, Facebook Pages and Google My Business). For short-term projects, plenty of people do well with marketplaces like Amazon and Etsy while content publishers do great with a good email marketing platform.

    If you don’t have a website yet, I recommend setting your own website up with a common, well known software like WordPress and hosting it on your own hosting account. I have a simple guide to doing that from scratch here. There is some learning curve, but it will provide maximum versatility.

    For ecommerce shops, I recommend either using a high-quality hosted ecommerce platform like Shopify or BigCommerce or set up an ecommerce website with WordPress and WooCommerce.

    If you have a website and know it’s a mess, use this guide to help you clean it up.

    Create Focused Pages

    Depending on what you’re goals are, creating focused pages can be an essential part of conversion.

    Focus pages are landing pages that target a very specific need, but they don’t have to be complex. They are simply pages that visitors can land on and take a specific action (buy your product, sign up for your service, etc.)

    Why use landing pages? Because nobody cares about or even sees your homepage. Your homepage is for people who already know who you are and are just navigating around to find what they already know exists.

    Landing pages, on the other hand, are for new (or returning) visitors to land and convert (AKA take whatever action you want them to take). These pages should target what your audience is searching for on a granular level.

    For example, if you’re an ecommerce business, you’d want to create product pages targeting specific product information (i.e. Blue Swimwear) or a specific audience (i.e. Swimwear for Women Distance swimmers).

    For service-based businesses, you’d want to create service pages targeting what your customers are searching for (i.e. Atlanta Dentist or Root Canal Services)

    For sites that are focused on content creation, think about pages that can organize your posts into broader topics and orient readers who land deeper into your site and encourage them to take additional actions (like reading more or subscribing). Use this guide to using category and tag pages in WordPress to accomplish this.

    If you have way too many idea – then think about how to organize your site by topic / keyword.

    Set Up Analytics

    Before you start promoting your website, you need a way to capture data through an analytics platform. There are tons of options, but Google Analytics is the go-to solution (it’s also free).

    If you’re unclear on what Google Analytics actually does, start here.

    Depending on what you’re promoting (see above), you’ll want to set up specific goals. For example, if you’re an ecommerce website, you’ll want to make sure you have Ecommerce checkout set up. If you’re a local business, you’ll want to track thinks like clicks to call and contact form completions. Use this guide to set up call tracking in Google Analytics.

    You should also link Google Analytics to Google AdWords and set up a retargeting audience with Google Analytics. And lastly, you should set up a Facebook Ads account and place a retargeting (audience pixel) cookie on your website.

    Work on Getting Traffic

    Now that you have the foundation down, it’s time to get people to your website. This where a lot of people get way too detailed… way too fast. Why?

    Because not all marketing channels operate at the same speed. They’re also not all used the same way — they have different strengths and weaknesses. They complement and supplement each other instead of compete, and it’s all about how you use them together.

    For example, the US Navy’s main war-going unit is the Aircraft Carrier Group. But it’s not just made up of an aircraft carrier. Instead, it’s a grouping of different types of ships that all do different things at different speeds so that the whole group together is nearly invincible.

    A lot of business owners want to start with SEO or with a fully fleshed out social strategy. To keep to the analogy, that’s like sending your battleship and aircraft carrier to scout out for the rest of the group.

    Bad idea. Battleships (aka SEO) and Aircraft Carriers (Social) take forever to get going and to turn. Save those until you know where you’re going. You do not want to invest hours and hours and tons of resources and thought into SEO and Social if you have no idea if they will pay off.

    Start with channels that can speed up, slow down and change direction at will. That means 3 things: direct outreach, community involvement, and paid traffic, specifically AdWords Search Network.

    Testing with Direct Outreach

    It’s easy to go down the rabbit hole of promoting something because you think it’s amazing. But here’s the thing — what if no one wants it?

    Too often, we make assumptions for our audience. So before you go into a full-blow promotion plan and start running ads, emailing everyone on your list, and working on your SEO tactics, it’s good to get some validation.

    Start by soliciting feedback from a small, targeted group. These should be people who are active in your niche, would ideally collaborate with someone like you, would give you some feedback and maybe even promote your website for you.

    What we’re really doing here is finding complementary marketing “parents” — think of other bloggers and businesses your target audience also visits. There are infinite ways to do this process. The key piece is to find someone who shares your interests or has a need that you can fill. Here are some examples.

    Friends & Family

    Ok – friends and family will often be interested by default. They won’t be able to provide useful feedback. But here’s the thing – you are probably friends because you share interests. Additionally, you might share interests with your family.

    Those family and friends are a great place to start with your outreach. It doesn’t mean spamming your Facebook page. It does mean not being afraid to show off your work personally to interested friends and family.

    Individual Brands / Influencers

    I hate the term “influencers” – and I don’t think that you can or should compete with big brands for social media celebrities. Instead, you should use your own advantage as a DIY website owner (rather than social media manager) to find people that you respect and listen to. Figure out what they need / want. Do they need co-promotion? Topic ideas? Reach out and pitch.

    Individual Bloggers / Site Owners

    A blogger of any size & influence will be deluged with pitches from big companies. Again – use your advantage as an actual site owner to go around the social media managers to reach small and up and coming bloggers. Use your agility to solve problems that agencies cannot quickly solve.

    Journalists

    Journalists have an infinite black hole of content that they need to fill. They are always looking for a story (not a product). If you can create a story based on your insider expertise, then you should pitch them. Keep it short, keep it relevant. Start with small sites and use successes to pitch bigger publications.

    The good example is a local package delivery service pitching a story about “porch pirates” to news outlets in Philadelphia.

    Complementary Business Owners

    Your product probably pairs with other companies’ products. Swimwear pairs with beach resorts. Festivals pair with beverage companies. Wood refinishing pairs with historic preservationists. The list is infinite.

    Find businesses where you can co-promote.

    Vendors

    Your vendors want you to succeed…because your success means more sales for them. Pitch your vendors on co-promotions.

    Then, get to emailing and messaging. Send them to your landing pages or content piece to buy, subscribe, or review. Ask for feedback and referrals and keep notes!

    Keep in mind that you are emailing people. It’s easy to get into a spammy quantity mindset. But remember that that a single, quality connection is worth way more than you can measure right now. Your goal is to get feedback and access. You cannot and should not make this a primary sales channel. Your goal is feedback to promote more effectively and more broadly.

    Check out this case study or this post for even more detail.

    Find Like-Minded Communities

    To expand your direct promotion efforts means finding groups of individuals. And that means finding communities.

    Communities can not only provide a lot more feedback – but you can also find opportunities to get sales.

    The issue with a community is that you need to be a part of it. Nobody likes someone who shows up to promote rather than participate.

    Even though you might need sales right now – you absolutely must set aside that need and look to the long-term.

    Figure out what the community likes & needs. Provide that. Focus on being overly helpful rather than promotional. Here are some examples.

    Industry Specific Forums

    Whether it’s ProductHunt / HackerNews in tech or Wanelo for trendy shopping – there is an industry specific forum for everything. Find it and get involved.

    Facebook Groups

    Facebook Groups are super-accessible and cover topics on everything under the Sun. They are a great way to build an organic presence on Facebook now that business newsfeed organic reach does not exist. Use creative Facebook Open Graph searches to find the non-obvious ones.

    Website Forums

    Yes – website forums still exist. And yes, they can be extraordinarily powerful. Do your research and get in touch with moderators.

    Blog Comments

    Yes – people still read these. Set up alerts via Google or via RSS feeds and stay involved in relevant discussions on high-traffic blog posts.

    Reddit & Crowdsourced Forums

    Reddit is the world’s largest general forum – but everything from Kickstarter to Pinterest could technically be considered a forum. Again, find where your target audience hangs out. Focus less on teh actual platform and more on the people using it.

    Amazon Comments

    Ever noticed the “questions about this product” or the discussion sections on Amazon product? Yep – those have insane engagement…and provide an opportunity to piggyback on Amazon’s traffic. Look for complementary products / services to yours that your target audience is purchasing. Use your expertise to answer questions.

    LinkedIn & Business Groups

    This angle is similar to crowdsourced forums – but for B2B and vendor relationships. Discussions happen all over the place on the Internet. Everything from Slack to LinkedIn Pulse to IRC are open. They are all tools for people to connect. Think about who your people are and find where & how they talk.

    Guest Posting

    Do you know of high-traffic blogs that your target audience reads (not simply blogs in your industry)? Find out guest post requirements and go there.

    Once you’ve found a channel that you feel comfortable with and “get” – focus on expanding your presence and being as helpful as possible. People will notice and talk.

    Using Paid Traffic to Get Data

    Jumping right into ads isn’t always the best approach for promoting your website. It can get expensive, especially for the return on investment. However, our goal here is a bit different.

    Using some (even on a small budget) search advertising can be a great way to get data faster. Instead of relying solely on direct outreach and a content strategy that takes a few months to grow, we can get lots of data in a short amount of time by doing some advertising.

    For a full breakdown of different paid advertising channels, see this guide about how to advertise your website online.

    You should be doing a few different things with this data:

    • Looking at what keywords are driving conversions. AdWords gives you this information.
    • Looking at which landing pages (or content pieces) perform best based on your goals. How can you optimize those pages and use those findings to improve the ones that aren’t performing?
    • Determining which ad copy performs best
    • For ecommerce, identifying which types of offers do people find most enticing (i.e. free shipping, 20% off welcome discount, etc.)
    • Setting up retargeting campaigns – not generic “buy, buy, buy” campaigns but interesting retargeting ads that you can afford to do when your traffic is small. If you want to divert some paid budget to Facebook, follow this guide.
    • Once you have retargeting campaigns going, you should be looking at where your audience goes online. We covered this topic on this podcast episode.
    • Improving your ad campaigns in general

    Understanding Organic Search

    The world of organic traffic sources is wide and takes time. So while I won’t tell you it’s the best channel for immediate satisfaction, there are still some amazing results to be had.

    For most, a successful SEO campaign would be a huge win due to the sheer volume of traffic that Google organic search can drive. Google processes over 3.5 billion queries per day and most of the clicks go to an organic result.

    You’ll learn pretty quickly that in paid advertising, clicks for commercial keywords can be quite expensive. That’s a cost you don’t have to pay if you rank in the organic search results.

    When you’re setting up your website promotion strategy, you’ll just have to know what it takes to get organic traffic and what it will take on your part to get it done.

    SEO boils down to 3 components.

    The first component is technical SEO.

    Technical SEO is all about ensuring that Google/Bing bots can crawl and index your website effectively. It’s about making sure you’re not generating tons of duplicate content. Here’s “Technical SEO for Nontechnical Marketers”

    The good news is that you are using WordPress or an HTML-based website builder (aka not Flash or Wix), you have the big barriers taken care of. THe same applies to ecommerce platforms like Shopify, Bigcommerce or a self-hosted store with WordPress + Woocommerce.

    If you are already using a different platform, a technical audit might be the one SEO thing worth paying for. Mentioning a “stand-alone technical audit with recommendations” to an SEO expert can be valuable if you’re on a custom built site. Just don’t let them sell you on “ranking #1 tomorrow!”

    If you are running WordPress, install WordPress SEO by Yoast and run through my guide for using it effectively.

    If you are using Shopify or Bigcommerce, then your technical issues are 90% solved if you have it set up by the book (Shopify’s guide and Bigcommerce’s guide). You should just be sure to use their SEO-related toolset to implement your on-page content, which happens to be the second component of SEO.

    The second component of SEO is on-page content and optimization

    It is all about “targeting” the right keywords and ensuring that your website is laid out in a coherent way that is understandable by search engines and users browsing your website.

    I wrote about the concept of keyword mapping and some basic on-page SEO concepts (like keyword research, title tags and meta descriptions, and using Google Search Console) previously.

    Depending on what your goals are, there are a ton of different pieces of content that can bring in visitors. The goal is to bring in new people AND support sales. Don’t create keyword-stuffed content that won’t help customers on your website make a decision. Make the authoritative content that addresses problems, questions, etc of your market.

    The great part about creating the absolute best content that you can find about everything your target market cares about related to your product is that it will naturally drive the third component of SEO – off-page factors.

    “Off-page factors,” is the third component of SEO

    This is SEO-speak for getting links, with the caveat that links are not all considered equal.

    Sketchy links, the type that you buy for $5, can harm your website. However, quality links placed on a related or well-known website are the primary factor for getting better visibility in search results.

    There are a lot of ways to get links. But the best ways that I’ve found for website promotion are:

    • Creating content that no one else has done well, and then promoting it. I wrote this guide to creating prequalified content. I’m a fan of this guide for the promotion angle as well
    • Hustle PR promotion – Find the blogs they read. Find the news websites they follow. Find the social media feeds they are involved with. Research and stalk every single one until you can craft a manual email pitch (see direct outreach above)
    • Get even more ideas in my guide to Ahrefs

    Using Social Media

    If SEO is your giant battleship, I think of social as your aircraft carrier. It’s easy to burn a lot of energy flying planes for no reason, but nothing gives you a tactical edge and far reach like your aircraft.

    Social media experts make social out to be rocket science. It’s really not. Unless you started a business you know nothing about, you should know where your audience hangs out.

    The key is to realize that you don’t have to be 100% present on every single social network. Effective social media is about having direct interactions where you build relationships and learn more about your audience.

    So with that said, go ahead and claim your branding across all the various social networks, but focus on one or two that will generate an outsize of impact on your goals.

    This is particularly effective for getting feedback on what you’re promoting. Similarly to direct outreach, you can use social media to solicit public feedback through forums like Reddit, Facebook groups, LinkedIn groups, etc. Just remember — it’s not about blasting your message out there for everyone and their mother. It’s about targeting the right audience. Find where they are and go there.

    For the other profiles, learn how to automate them so you can have a presence without actually interacting. Set up alerts so you can “listen” even when you aren’t actively participating.

    Lastly, remember you can make the process faster by paying to jump ahead. Just as you used AdWords or alternative channels to collect data on what works and what doesn’t for your website promotion goals, you can use social ads to test networks.

    Next Steps

    That’s the website promotion strategy I would map out for any website. It’s a long post, but it’s a plan you can implement quickly by breaking each section into small, doable steps.

    Immediate next steps: start by defining your goals, personas, and revenue/budget. Then, put a plan in place that takes you through each phase of the process outlined above in a methodical manner. Go one section at a time and break each down into smaller steps you can follow without getting overwhelmed.

    I’ve also written versions of this post for both local businesses and ecommerce websites.

    The post How to Promote Your Website Online (for free!) appeared first on ShivarWeb.

    “”

    GoDaddy versus. HostGator Website Hosting Comparison

    “GoDaddy versus. HostGator” is a type of question for anybody researching hosting.

    GoDaddy and HostGator are two largest hosting brands on the planet. And they’re owned correspondingly by the pair of largest web services companies on the planet (GoDaddy Group and Endurance Worldwide).

    Both are “go-to” brands for business proprietors searching for accessible, affordable hosting. But – they’re different companies with various brands. When you’re selecting an internet site host – you’ve still got to finish up selecting.

    I’ve current clients using (and like) GoDaddy hosting. Even though this site operates on InMotion Hosting (which I’ll mention later) – I additionally have a lot of projects which have operate on HostGator for a long time. I’ve been pleased with them.

    Within this comparison between GoDaddy and HostGator, I’ll attempt to break lower the variations that I’ve present in seven different areas varying from prices structure to customer support and market focus to be able to decide the best idea fit for the project.

    Also – you are able to skip towards the short version within the conclusion here (or take my Buzzfeed-style shared web hosting quiz here).

    Let’s dive into GoDaddy versus. HostGator…

    Disclosure – I receive customer referral fees from companies pointed out. All opinion and knowledge derive from my encounters like a having to pay customer or consultant to some having to pay customer.

    Prices

    Both HostGator and GoDaddy provide a wide menu of merchandise for example VPS hosting, Dedicated hosting, specialized Weblog web hosting, Cloud computing and much more. However for prices – we’ll concentrate on the most typical product which small companies usually need – shared Linux hosting.

    Shared Linux hosting is also referred to as the “kind of hosting that allows you to run WordPress, Joomla and many non-Home windows web apps.”

    GoDaddy and HostGator both cost their hosting in 3 tiers…that don’t quite fall into line.

    The very first tier is perfect for small websites on a tight budget. GoDaddy calls it their Economy plan and renews at $7.99/mo. HostGator calls it their Hatchling plan and renews at $6.95/mo.

    Their first tiers will vary in line with the kind of cap they will use.

    HostGator utilizes a website name cap – ie, you are able to have only one website with that plan, however that web site is otherwise unmetered. It may have enormous videos, lots of storage, plenty of databases (e.g. software installs on a single domain), and limitless email options. However, you are only able to host just one domain with that account.

    GoDaddy uses domain, storage, database and email caps. Which means that you are able to connect just one website, but also you are limited in your files stored and email options that you could setup.

    HostGator has got the better deal around the first tier if you’re searching for any small, cheap plan.

    The center tiers would be the most comparable. HostGator calls it their Baby plan. It renews at $9.95/mo. GoDaddy calls it their Luxurious plan. It renews at $10.99/mo.

    Both of them are almost the identical on all core hosting features aside from databases and email availability (an idea that I’ll cover in Features). HostGator is really a slightly better deal in a US dollar less monthly.

    The very best tiers are less comparable given that they don’t limit anything (outdoors from the physical limits from the server).

    Rather, they compete according to plan bonuses. GoDaddy calls it their Ultimate and renews at $16.99/mo. HostGator calls it their Strategic business plan and renews at $14.95/mo.

    GoDaddy’s primary bonuses really are a free SSL certificate, free Premium DNS (for anti-junk e-mail), and free “processing power.”

    HostGator supplies a free SSL along with a free dedicates Ip. On top tiers, GoDaddy’s look better, though really the only difference may be the Premium DNS, that is “paid for” using their greater cost.

    If you’re managing a single site and wish limitless features with that site, you’ll obtain the best value with HostGator’s Baby Plan.

    Otherwise, their prices can be compared enough that I’d take a look at a few of the other variations between HostGator and GoDaddy before deciding.

    Hosting Features

    Like I’ve outlined in other website hosting reviews, it’s helpful to interrupt website hosting features lower into two different sets – a “core feature set” along with a “bonus feature set”.

    The main set of features includes things i call the “3 D’s” – domains, disk space and databases/email.

    Domains are the number of distinct web qualities you are able to connect with your hosting account.

    Disk space is the number of files you are able to store in your account, and databases/email is when much software you are able to install to assist manage individuals files (ie, one install of WordPress requires one database in your server).

    Both of them cap one of these simple three core features as pointed out within the prices. However in general, both GoDaddy and HostGator provide the very same core features…with a couple of variations.

    HostGator uses industry standard software for example cPanel and mySQL that “run” your core features. These permit flexible and familiar management. GoDaddy includes a proprietary for his or her backend. They are doing permit cPanel…but it is $ 1 more monthly.

    Here’s how their backends compare –

    cPanel

    GoDaddy cPanel Backend

    That stated, you can begin to determine a noticeable difference between GoDaddy and HostGator on “bonus hosting features.” The issue about bonus features is you need to really rely on them to become useful.

    HostGator offers bonus features for example marketing credits for AdWords, Bing, etc. Additionally they offer free business toll-free telephone number for the business.

    GoDaddy provides a free Office 365 subscription. They’ll also bundle a lot of their professional services like DNS, accounting, etc.

    If you’re are a small company who doesn’t need/want nitty-gritty cPanel features – and likes the benefit of GoDaddy’s complementary services, then GoDaddy is going to be good. If you’re wish to experiment and wish use of more complex features, then HostGator is a better fit on features for you personally.

    Performance

    The main job of the hosting company goes past simply storing and delivering files aimed at your website visitors. You’ll would also like your internet location of provide the files rapidly.

    There are plenty of things which go into website speed, and lots of occasions you can’t blame a sluggish website on the slow host (e.g., the most effective engine cannot go Zero to 60mph in five seconds if it is pulling an enormous boat).

    That stated – server speed continues to be critical. There’s not just a great way for non-network engineers to determine server speed between hosts (since again, plenty of factors).

    In the past hosting reviews, I’ve checked out Time For You To First Byte (TTFB) – a measurement for the way rapidly a web server transmits back the very first byte of information after it gets to be a request from the browser.

    Here’s the outcomes from my newest test –

    GoDaddy Speed

    As you can tell, GoDaddy edges out HostGator – that is odd since that conflicts with many different my historic data – as well as their reputations. Here’s a mature 2016 test with HostGator.

    HostGator Speed Test

    Actually, this 2017 test is the opposite of EIG’s investor report where they set of their internal speed data.

    Normally, it is not openly available. But, EIG is really a openly traded company with the public reports which go with this. Here’s their internal data using their newest Investor’s Day report –

    EIG Competitive Analysis

    As you can tell, even Endurance’s (possibly biased) internal data shows HostGator just as much faster.

    The primary takeaway – both are quick enough that you should focus on the rest of the variables that you simply control and affect website speed.

    There’s one aside – uptime and consistency.

    Both HostGator and GoDaddy have experienced well-publicized downtime previously couple of years. On the other hand – Amazon and YouTube also have had recent downtime.

    It is not to become glib about downtime. Downtime matters. But it’s vital that you look at why the downtime happened – and it has an identical incident happened again.

    Given their size and sources, I see HostGator and GoDaddy’s downtime risk as comparable.

    Usability & Onboarding

    Worthwhile product can change bad rapidly should you can’t learn how to really utilize it. Which point is particularly true with web hosting companies.

    The product’s name sounds daunting for brand new users to be friends with, especially when compared with all-in-one website builders like Wix, Weebly or WordPress.com.

    Both HostGator and GoDaddy have fairly straightforward onboarding and good usability. GoDaddy utilizes a proprietary setup additionally to cPanel. Both of them maintain similar account portals plus they both distribute similar onboarding emails.

    Plus they both allow it to be simple to install common web apps like WordPress. Here’s what their particular “backend” setups seem like –

    cPanel

    GoDaddy cPanel Backend

    As you can tell, they’re much the same.

    Both of them do upsells to some similar degree. GoDaddy already has got the status, but HostGator’s could be a bit annoying too. Here’s their checkout process.

    HostGator Signup Page 2

    The issue though – is complementary services. GoDaddy is really a domain registrar and “business services” provider. Many occasions, a business have a domain and email with GoDaddy before there is a website. For the reason that situation, GoDaddy does make product integration simple.

    If you have a website with GoDaddy, pointing it to HostGator isn’t huge issue. But, should you already use GoDaddy’s email along with other services, then you’ll possess a simpler setup staying with their hosting companies.

    Overall, GoDaddy comes with an advantage on usability and onboarding. It’s nothing decisive, but does talk to the kind of customer that they’re searching for, which we’ll cover shortly.

    Customer Support

    Usability and onboarding can solve lots of problems. although not each and every issue. And this is where customer support is available in.

    The tricky factor about customer support is the fact that it’s all anecdotal. Not one comparison (including that one) can condition for sure if a person company has “good” service or “bad” service.

    Who knows in case your customer support agent just began yesterday (or was their one veteran) or was getting a dreadfulOramazing day – or maybe it’s a much deeper symbol of company culture.

    Rather, I attempt to check out indications on whether a business treats their customer support like a cost, a sales chance or being an investment.

    Based on the EIG’s Investor’s Day report, they’re deeply in love with their Internet Promoter Score (NPS). In a nutshell – that’s a metric that measures how likely your clients will be to recommend you.

    EIG Customer Service

    They draw a obvious correlation between customer support → NPS → $$$

    Quite simply, HostGator views customer support being an investment leading to both more sales and much more upsell possibilities. GoDaddy treats it similarly.

    That’s a great factor for you personally because the customer having a catch (ie, the upsell part). Should you not mind enduring the upsells, you’ll likely experience okay customer support from HostGator and GoDaddy.

    The primary variations are phone access and technical skills.

    GoDaddy has phone support and HostGator doesn’t have phone support.

    In my opinion and from EIG’s investor reports, HostGator has more front-finish technical expertise. Quite simply, the individual you begin speaking to at HostGator is much more likely so that you can solve your trouble than GoDaddy.

    At GoDaddy – you’re more prone to get known a “technical specialist” or new upsell product (ie, “WordPress Hosting”).

    If you would like phone support – opt for GoDaddy. Should you not need phone support and just want quick solutions – opt for HostGator.

    *If customer servicer may be the primary problem for you – the make sure to also take a look at InMotion Hosting (my review here). They’re a completely independent company (ie, not of EIG) having a strong concentrate on customer support.

    Market Focus

    EIG owns HostGator. They’re positively investing other brands like Bluehost, JustHost, iPage or HostMonster).

    Why? Simply because they likely discover their whereabouts as complementary brands that suit various kinds of customers – kind of like Coke & Sprite.

    Here’s their chart for investors on their own “brand positioning” –

    EIG Brand Positioning

    This chart lines up perfectly with how I’ve found HostGator’s customer support & usability.

    HostGator markets to those who are website proprietors first and business proprietors second.

    GoDaddy positions themselves like a company striving to “empower small company proprietors.” Quite simply, they need those who are business proprietors first and website proprietors second.

    It seems sensible – and it is essential for what products & enhancements each brand will probably make later on.

    HostGator will probably keep purchasing technical enhancements and prices. GoDaddy will probably keep purchasing usability and complementary business products (like accounting software).

    Additional Factors

    Here’s grab bag of other things to consider.

    • HostGator includes a longer money-back guarantee (45 days) than GoDaddy (thirty days).
    • For much better or worse, both are of a huge corporation. As I’ll mention within the conclusion, if you prefer a non-EIG host, you can try InMotion (review), Website Hosting Hub (review) or SiteGround (review).
    • HostGator also provides a fascinating Cloud computing plan if you’re global and wish to use individuals settings.

    GoDaddy versus. HostGator Conclusion

    So GoDaddy versus. HostGator? They’re both fine hosts with a few variations.

    If you’re more technically inclined or want better performance – then I’d opt for HostGator. You will get 45% off here.

    If you would like phone support and/or a multi functional GoDaddy experience – then I’d opt for GoDaddy. You can observe their current prices special here.

    If you’d rather opt for a completely independent company having a bigger concentrate on customer support, then I’d opt for InMotion Hosting (review).

    So if you’re more confused than ever before – you will probably find this site Setup Guide and/or my shared web hosting quiz helpful.

    “”

    GoDaddy versus. iPage Website Hosting Comparison

    “GoDaddy versus. iPage” is a type of question for anybody researching hosting.

    GoDaddy and iPage are two most widely known budget hosts on the planet. And they’re owned correspondingly by the pair of largest web services companies on the planet (GoDaddy Group and Endurance Worldwide).

    Both are “go-to” brands for business proprietors searching for straightforward, affordable hosting. But – they’re different companies with various brands. When you’re selecting an internet site host – you’ve still got to finish up selecting.

    I’ve current clients using (and like) GoDaddy hosting. Even though this site operates on InMotion Hosting (which I’ll mention later) – I additionally used iPage a couple of small projects. I authored a complete iPage review here.

    Within this comparison between GoDaddy and iPage, I’ll attempt to break lower the variations that I’ve present in seven different areas varying from prices structure to customer support and market focus to be able to decide the best idea fit for the project.

    Also – you are able to skip towards the short version within the conclusion here (or take my Buzzfeed-style hosting on a tight budget quiz here).

    Let’s dive into GoDaddy versus. iPage…

    Disclosure – I receive customer referral fees from companies pointed out. All opinion and knowledge derive from my encounters like a having to pay customer or consultant to some having to pay customer.

    Prices

    Both iPage and GoDaddy provide a wide menu of merchandise for example VPS hosting, Dedicated hosting, specialized Weblog web hosting, and much more. However for prices – we’ll concentrate on the most typical product which small companies usually need – shared Linux hosting.

    Shared Linux hosting is also referred to as the “kind of hosting that allows you to run WordPress, Joomla and many non-Home windows web apps.”

    While GoDaddy offers website hosting in 3 tiers, iPage provides a single, “unlimited” website hosting plan. Furthermore, both iPage and GoDaddy run frequent discounts.

    Therefore it constitutes a direct comparison very difficult.

    iPage provides a single plan with uncapped features that renews at $7.99/mo.

    GoDaddy has tiered out their plans in line with the kind of cap they will use.

    GoDaddy uses domain, storage, database and email caps. On several tiers, GoDaddy will cap the amount of domains you are able to connect or the amount of files / databases that you could store. I’ll cover these more within the next section.

    Until then, observe that iPage’s plan’s approximately GoDaddy’s Luxurious and supreme plan. Her uncapped options that come with GoDaddy’s Ultimate plan with no bonus features.

    GoDaddy’s Luxurious plan renews at $10.99/mo. Their Ultimate plan renews at $16.99/mo.

    GoDaddy’s primary bonuses around the Ultimate plan really are a free SSL certificate, free Premium DNS (for anti-junk e-mail), and free “processing power.”

    The issue for GoDaddy would be that the cost distinction between iPage’s one plan and GoDaddy’s Ultimate plan can certainly purchase third party services for that bonuses, particularly the Premium DNS and SSL.

    If you’re searching exclusively at cost and overall value for features – iPage is preferable to GoDaddy.

    Now – cost isn’t the only element in hosting. So let’s take a look at other locations.

    Hosting Features

    Like I’ve outlined in other website hosting reviews, it’s helpful to interrupt website hosting features lower into two different sets – a “core feature set” along with a “bonus feature set”.

    The main set of features includes things i call the “3 D’s” – domains, disk space and databases/email.

    Domains are the number of distinct web qualities you are able to connect with your hosting account.

    Disk space is the number of files you are able to store in your account, and databases/email is when much software you are able to install to assist manage individuals files (ie, one install of WordPress requires one database in your server).

    GoDaddy caps one of these simple three core features on their own Economy and Luxurious plans. iPage offers “unmetered” on these.

    That stated, you can begin to determine a noticeable difference between GoDaddy and iPage on bonus hosting features – and complementary services. The issue about bonus features is you need to really rely on them to become useful.

    iPage offers standard bonus features for example marketing credits for AdWords, Bing, etc. Additionally they offer free business toll-free telephone number for the business. They struggle to fluff them in their marketing copy, but nothing really sticks out.

    GoDaddy provides a free Office 365 subscription. They’ll also bundle a lot of their professional services like Premium DNS, accounting, etc. It will help that GoDaddy isn’t “just” a webhost. They’ve fully built out solutions for a variety of business.

    If you’re are a small company who likes the benefit of GoDaddy’s complementary services, then GoDaddy is a better fit. If you would like plain vanilla hosting for the site, then iPage is a good fit.

    Performance

    The main job of the hosting company goes past simply storing and delivering files aimed at your website visitors. You’ll would also like your internet location of provide the files rapidly.

    There are plenty of things which go into website speed, and lots of occasions you can’t blame a sluggish website on the slow host (e.g., the most effective engine cannot go Zero to 60mph in five seconds if it is pulling an enormous boat).

    That stated – server speed continues to be critical. There’s not just a great way for non-network engineers to determine server speed between hosts (since again, plenty of factors).

    In the past hosting reviews, I’ve checked out Time For You To First Byte (TTFB) – a measurement for the way rapidly a web server transmits back the very first byte of information after it gets to be a request from the browser.

    Here’s the outcomes from my newest test –

    iPage Performance

    GoDaddy Speed

    As you can tell, GoDaddy edges out iPage about this one test. GoDaddy has generated a status for substandard speed, but has lately began improving their professional services. Though my historic data on GoDaddy continues to be poor, this recent test reflects a few of their improvement.

    The very best speed data, though, originates from internal engineering teams.

    Normally, it is not openly available. But, EIG (who owns iPage) is really a openly traded company with the public reports which go with this. Here’s their internal data using their newest Investor’s Day report –

    EIG Competitive Analysis

    As you can tell, even Endurance’s (possibly biased) internal data shows iPage as quicker than GoDaddy…but also because the slowest of their brands. This informs me that iPage is centered on cost – this is not on performance. They’re slower than their other brands because that isn’t the brand’s priority.

    The primary takeaway – both are quick enough that you should focus on the rest of the variables that you simply control and affect website speed.

    There’s one aside – uptime and consistency.

    Both iPage and GoDaddy have experienced well-publicized downtime previously couple of years. On the other hand – Amazon and YouTube also have had recent downtime.

    It is not to become glib about downtime. Downtime matters. But it’s vital that you look at why the downtime happened – and it has an identical incident happened again.

    Given their size and sources, I see iPage and GoDaddy’s downtime risk as comparable. iPage’s risk originates from the truth that they’re a financial budget host with overloading risk. GoDaddy’s risk originates from the “big target” and “big company” risk.

    Usability & Onboarding

    Worthwhile product can change bad rapidly should you can’t learn how to really utilize it. Which point is particularly true with web hosting companies.

    The product’s name sounds daunting for brand new users to be friends with, especially when compared with all-in-one website builders like Wix, Weebly or WordPress.com.

    Both iPage and GoDaddy have fairly straightforward onboarding and good usability. GoDaddy utilizes a proprietary setup additionally to cPanel. Both of them maintain similar account portals plus they both distribute similar onboarding emails. iPage might be more “old school” than GoDaddy.

    Plus they both allow it to be simple to install common web apps like WordPress. Here’s what their particular “backend” setups seem like –

    iPage Backend

    GoDaddy cPanel Backend

    As you can tell, they’re much the same – with GoDaddy’s design as being a bit cleaner and much more organized.

    Both of them do upsells. GoDaddy already has got the status for upsells, but iPage’s could be a bit annoying too. Here’s their checkout process.

    iPage Upsells

    The large trouble with iPage is they also pre-bundled a lot software. It’s marketed like a “free service” – but it’s really just more upselling.

    iPage Preinstalled Plugins

    That stated – upsells don’t need to be bad. GoDaddy is really a domain registrar and “business services” provider. Many occasions, a business have a domain and email with GoDaddy before there is a website. For the reason that situation, GoDaddy does make product integration simple.

    If you have a website with GoDaddy, pointing it to iPage isn’t huge issue. But, should you already use GoDaddy’s email along with other services, then you’ll possess a simpler setup staying with their hosting companies.

    Overall, GoDaddy comes with an advantage on usability and onboarding. It’s nothing decisive, but does talk to the kind of customer that they’re searching for, which we’ll cover shortly.

    Customer Support

    Usability and onboarding can solve lots of problems. although not each and every issue. And this is where customer support is available in.

    The tricky factor about customer support is the fact that it’s all anecdotal. Not one comparison (including that one) can condition for sure if a person company has “good” service or “bad” service.

    Who knows in case your customer support agent just began yesterday (or was their one veteran) or was getting a dreadfulOramazing day – or maybe it’s a much deeper symbol of company culture.

    Rather, I attempt to check out indications on whether a business treats their customer support like a cost, a sales chance or being an investment.

    Based on the EIG’s Investor’s Day report, they’re deeply in love with their Internet Promoter Score (NPS). In a nutshell – that’s a metric that measures how likely your clients will be to recommend you.

    EIG Customer Service

    They draw a obvious correlation between customer support → NPS → $$$

    Quite simply, iPage views customer support being an investment leading to both more sales and much more upsell possibilities. GoDaddy treats it similarly.

    That’s a great factor for you personally because the customer having a catch (ie, the upsell part). Should you not mind enduring the upsells, you’ll likely experience okay customer support from iPage and GoDaddy. I’ve found both services missing in this region for advanced customer support.

    Both of them have phone access along with a similar triage setup.

    GoDaddy appears to possess better processes from my experience, but that’s anecdotal. I’d honestly put these two companies within the same bucket with customer support. It’s fine, but I’d have low expectations.

    *If customer servicer may be the primary problem for you – the make sure to also take a look at InMotion Hosting (my review here). They’re a completely independent company (ie, not of EIG) having a strong concentrate on customer support.

    Market Focus

    EIG owns iPage. They’re positively investing other brands like Bluehost, HostGator, or HostMonster).

    Why? Simply because they likely discover their whereabouts as complementary brands that suit various kinds of customers – kind of like Coke & Sprite.

    Here’s their chart for investors on their own “brand positioning” –

    iPage Positioning

    This chart lines up perfectly with how I’ve found iPage’s customer support & usability.

    iPage markets to website proprietors searching to obtain a website ready to go for really low cost.

    GoDaddy positions themselves like a company striving to “empower small company proprietors.” Quite simply, they need those who are business proprietors first and website proprietors second.

    It seems sensible – and it is essential for what products & enhancements each brand will probably make later on.

    iPage will probably stay cheap and perhaps make enhancements on usability. GoDaddy will probably keep purchasing usability and complementary business products (like accounting software).

    Additional Factors

    Here’s grab bag of other things to consider.

    GoDaddy versus. iPage Conclusion

    So GoDaddy versus. iPage? They’re both fine hosts with a few variations.

    If you’re more searching for super cheap hosting – then I’d opt for iPage. You will get their current discount here.

    If you would like more features and/or a multi functional GoDaddy experience – then I’d opt for GoDaddy. You can observe their current prices special here.

    If you’d rather opt for a completely independent company having a bigger concentrate on customer support, then I’d opt for InMotion Hosting (review).

    So if you’re more confused than ever before – you will probably find this site Setup Guide and/or my inexpensive hosting quiz helpful.

    “”

    Squarespace Prices: Which Squarespace Package Is The Best For You?

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    As DIY website builders go, Squarespace has lengthy been viewed as the Neiman Marcus of the profession a pricier, more elegant option to the kind of Wix and Weebly.

    This notion happens to be something of the exaggeration, as Squarespace’s prices and degree of features don’t drastically vary from the choices from the competition. However, thinking about the truth that Squarespace, unlike these builders, doesn’t provide a free subscription plan, I figured it might be useful to take particular notice at Squarespace’s compensated intends to measure the value proposition of every plan as well as their appropriateness for various purposes.

    When I pointed out within my Squarespace review, the organization has four different subscription levels, on both a yearly and monthly basis. A piece of content written on Squarespace prices has to start here.

    Table of Contents

    Squarespace Prices And Essential Features

    You should use Squarespace freely for fourteen days, but if you wish to continue building your website following this, it’s important to select from certainly one of 4 subscription plans:

    Squarespace Plan Personal Business Online Shop – Fundamental Online Shop – Advanced
    Prices (annual plan): $12/month ($144 every year) $18/month ($216 every year) $26/month ($312 every year) $40/month ($480 every year)
    Prices (monthly plan): $16/month $26/month $30/month $46/month
     No. of pages permitted  20 pages/galleries/blogs  Unlimited pages/galleries/blogs  Unlimited pages/galleries/blogs  Unlimited pages/galleries/blogs
     Email:  No email  G Suite integration  G Suite integration  G Suite integration
     eCommerce Transaction Fee:  3%  2%  0%  0%

    To begin with, you’ll observe that Squarespace’s least expensive subscription plan’s $12 monthly by having an annual subscription (I do not recommend a regular monthly subscription — more about that later). By comparison, Wix’s least expensive compensated plan’s $5/month, while Weebly’s is $8/month. Squarespace counts on customers being prepared to pay a little more for using their classy templates and advanced features.

    squarespace pricing

    Another factor you’ll notice is the fact that Squarespace offers email options through their G Suite integration beginning in the Business subscription level. As long as you’ve a minumum of one custom domain for any website, you can aquire a custom current email address, fully accessible out of your Squarespace account. Squarespace prices for email options is really as follows:

    • Annual plan – $4.17/month ($50/year) per user/current email address
    • Monthly plan – $5/month per user/current email address

    Email billing is performed directly through Squarespace.

    Another key distinction between Squarespace’s plans — key for online sellers, anyways — may be the transaction fee Squarespace removes of internet store purchases. Having a Personal subscription, Squarespace takes 3% of every purchase like a fee. Having a Business subscription, that fee is knocked lower to 2%, with both Fundamental and Advanced Online Shop subscriptions, the charge is waived entirely. While you’ll have payment processing charges removed from profits whatever the subscription level, the possible lack of a platform fee in the web based Store subscriptions (as well as other advanced eCommerce features) makes them packages a great fit for just about any eCommerce outfit searching to complete high-volume sales. Talking about payment processing charges, these can vary based on what country you’re conducting business from, however in the U.S., both Stripe and PayPal charge 2.9% plus $.30 per effective transaction.

    I ought to give a note about annual versus. monthly plans. I know you observed the annual plans are discounted in accordance with the monthly plans. However, there’s another difference that requires highlighting. By having an annual plan, you can aquire a custom domain from Squarespace without additional cost for just one year. A custom domain costs around $10 to $12 each year, and monthly plans don’t provide you with a free year of domain registration. If you are thinking about having your own custom domain from Squarespace, the annual plans become that rather more of the better deal.

    Next, let’s check out what else you’re getting for the money with Squarespace’s compensated plans.

    Squarespace Advanced Features

    Squarespace Plan Personal Business Online Shop – Fundamental Online Shop – Advanced
    Pay Per Click Credit: None $100 Adwords Credit $100 Adwords Credit $100 Adwords Credit
    Label Printing: No No Yes, via Shipstation Yes, via Shipstation
    Integrated Accounting: No No Yes, via Xero Yes, via Xero
    Checkout: On Squarespace’s Domain On Squarespace’s Domain On Squarespace’s Domain On Your Domain
    Abandoned Cart Recovery & Real-time Carrier Shipping: No No No Yes

    Individuals who plan to monetize their site with Adwords will discover added value beginning in the Business subscription level, where you’ll obtain a $100 Adwords credit — if you are a U.S. or Canada resident, that’s. Other benefits are restricted to the 2 Online Shop subscriptions, such as the eCommerce integrations with Shipstation and Xero. Just one benefit restricted to Advanced Online Shop subscribers, and a huge part of why you’re spending $480 annually, is always that Advanced online sellers can host their checkouts by themselves domains. Sellers wanting to conserve a consistent brand image for his or her customers could be well offered to weigh this benefit heavily.

    Other eCommerce benefits only available at the Advanced level include the opportunity to send automated email reminders for your customers who abandon products within their carts — we wouldn’t would like them failing to remember regarding their intended purchases, now would we? — plus an eCommerce application that calculates real-time shipping rates for that United states postal service, UPS, and FedEx.

    Companies Targeted

    Squarespace is especially well-suitable for photographers, artists, musicians, designers, in addition to online vendors. For that former group, a $12/month Personal subscription, though pricier compared to “cheap” choice of the majority of Squarespace’s rivals, is visible as a significant bargain, because of the easy professionality from the templates. Commissioning an equivalent-searching custom site from a graphic designer usually takes you into 4-digit prices territory — if you are lucky. Obviously, if you have an array of content to demonstrate, the $18/month Strategic business plan gives you an limitless quantity of pages and galleries.

    squarespace pricing

    If, however, you’re in the industry of promoting things online, I’ve discovered that the 2 Online Shop packages supply the cost effective. Outstanding coincidence, I understand. The greatest benefit may be the waiving from the Squarespace platform charges, with label printing and accounting services adding even more value towards the equation. Lastly, a $40/month Advanced Online Shop package provides you with the whole shebang: abandoned cart recovery, real-time shipping estimates, and much more.

    Final Ideas

    Though Squarespace doesn’t provide a bare-bones free subscription package like a lot of its rivals, it is not really their brand. That they like to project a picture of elegance and hip sophistication, relying on people’s readiness to cover the worth provided. Thinking about because you can come up with something which looks crisp and behaves well without the expertise of a graphic designer at a small fraction of the price, Squarespace puts together an engaging situation for individuals who wish to go the DIY route without the chance of searching amateurish.

    Just make sure you’ve obtained a subscription plan that does everything you’ll require it to complete.

    Jason Vissers

    Jason Vissers is really a author, cereal chef and Netflix aficionado from North Park. A local Californian who enjoys the shore, Jason nevertheless would rather do his surfing on the internet, the raddest wave of all of them. Jason can’t eat raisins.

    Jason Vissers

    “”

    How You Can Determine If Your Search engine optimization Is Really A Vampire

    SEO Vampire

    Did you ever hear claims that you could &#8220Be #1 on the internet &#8211 Guaranteed?&#8221

    Ever wondered if your online business Search engine optimization guy is simply taking your hard earned money?

    Ever wondered why some Search engine optimization agencies seem like used-vehicle salesmen?

    Because despite the fact that Internet Search Engine Optimization for small companies is completely essential&#8230 the operation is very technical and also the inputs don&#8217t result in exact outputs.

    Here&#8217s 7 things to take into consideration (which come right out the Google and my very own encounters)&#8230

    1) Sketchy phone calls from random places

    If you’re a plumber in Wichita, KS &#8211 treat an appointment or email from Romania with extreme skepticism (or simply hang up the phone).

    Even whether they can do the things they claim &#8211 it&#8217s most likely from the Google Tos, so any short-term gain might get easily wiped out when you are getting banned from Google.

    Search for someone local or perhaps a trustworthy national firm.

    Consider Search engine optimization like exercise or used cars for sale&#8230essential although not something you need to purchase from someone with crazy claims and sketchy formulas.

    2) Nobody (not really Google themselves) can promise a #1 ranking.

    Google&#8217s formula is really as secretive as Coca-Cola&#8217s recipe and changes as often as a chameleon on the tie-dyed shirt.

    Fundamental Search engine optimization is really a well-known process. It&#8217s similar to polishing your resume &#8211 it won&#8217t enable you to get hired, however it&#8217s certainly necessary.

    Premium Search engine optimization is another well-known process. It&#8217s more similar to a lengthy internship in which you provide a lot of freebies to acquire references and finally employment.

    Techniques that supposedly get people a #1 ranking on the internet all use illegal methods (for example botnets, link spamming, compensated links, etc) that may get the site banned from Google simply from association. Avoid no matter what.

    If you wish to be #1 at this time &#8211 Google enables you to bid for this through AdWords.

    3. Search engine optimization firms who won&#8217t explain their techniques

    Should you don&#8217t comprehend the technology&#8230make sure they are explain it for you.

    Whether they can&#8217t explain their Search engine optimization approaches to plain British, they either aren&#8217t legit or they would like to help you stay at nighttime.

    Both of them are bad. Don&#8217t hire them.

    For instance, (shameless plug) Shivar Web Talking to will show you step-by-step exactly what we will do aimed at your website &#8211 and answer (and then show) any queries you’ve. Every Search engine optimization will be able to perform the same.

    4. You shouldn’t need to provide anything apart from money.

    Should you don&#8217t want to supply a backlink for them, then don&#8217t.

    Should you don&#8217t wish to be within their directory, then don&#8217t.

    There&#8217s nothing bad about either practice (think how vehicle dealers take their decal in your vehicle), however it shouldn&#8217t be needed or standard business practice.

    5. Choose someone reliable. Talk with them. Skype, shake hands.

    Imagine giving a specialist keys to your residence without meeting them or getting references. Bad idea.

    A properly-known Search engine optimization horror story in Seattle (opens new tab) is a great instance of so what can fail.

    6. Search for these common abuses

    Their list is directly from Google (see their similar article on Search engine optimization here)

    • owns shadow domains
    • puts links for their other clients on entrance pages
    • purports to sell keywords within the address bar
    • doesn&#8217t separate actual search engine results and ads that show up on search engine results pages
    • guarantees ranking, only on obscure, lengthy keywords and key phrases you can get anyway
    • operates with multiple aliases or falsified WHOIS info
    • will get traffic from &#8220fake&#8221 search engines like google, spy ware, or scumware
    • has already established domains taken off Google&#8217s index or perhaps is not itself indexed by Google

    7. Causes it to be difficult to leave

    Search engine optimization jobs are not &#8220all or free.&#8221

    If you choose to finish the work &#8211 you will be able to sever the connection and all of the data up to that time.

    And, obviously, if you sever rapport, make sure to change passwords and monitor your website for suspicious stuff happening.

    Search engine optimization Wrap-up

    Internet Search Engine Optimization is crucial for just about any online businesses. Most traffic originates from Google. but make sure to choose your online business Search engine optimization agency wisely.

    ##image by MoneyBlogNewz

    The publish How You Can Determine If Your Search engine optimization Is Really A Vampire made an appearance first on ShivarWeb.

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    How Google’s New Formula Helps Local Companies

    How Google&#039s New Algorithm Helps New Businesses

    3 days ago Google did a normal update for their formula. No news there.

    However hidden deep within the update list, Google pointed out the Venice Update.

    In the last 3 days &#8211 it&#8217s been all of the news in local internet search engine optimization circles.

    Here&#8217s the way it&#8217s likely to help local companies and what will change&#8230

    The update simply reads&#8230

    Enhancements to ranking for local internet search results. [launch codename “Venice”] This improvement increases the triggering of Local Universal results by relying more about the ranking in our primary search engine results like a signal.

    The Great

    For some time now, directory sites have crowded out many legitimately good local companies in the search engine results.

    For instance, should you looked for &#8220plumbers&#8221 and Google detected you had been in Atlanta, GA &#8211 you’d mainly see either &#8211

    • Prospecting &#8220Plumbers&#8221 &#8211 essentially companies who got phone figures from customers, then offered these to a genuine plumber
    • Internet Directory sites &#8211 for example SuperPages, Internet  Yellow Pages, YP, etc. &#8211 which needed the client to create an additional click to locate a plumber

    Using the Venice update &#8211 everything is finished.

    Whenever you look for a plumber in, say, Atlanta &#8211 you receive a list of the very most relevant Atlanta plumbers (as well as the AdWords ads, Google Places, and YouTube videos).

    This can be a huge chance for local companies &#8211 since it provides a third (and free) method to stand before consumers (who’re overwhelmingly using Search to locate them).

    Unhealthy

    First, Google (and Bing, Ask, Yahoo) is sensible &#8211 although not yet brilliant at teasing your exact place.

    Which means that customers might come across the incorrect group of results, and never give companies (particularly in bigger metropolitan areas) a good shake in the results.

    Second, companies who’ve a variety of service (or national companies having a local presence) is going to be include a rock along with a hard place.

    Staying with the Atlanta example, if Plumber A serves Norcross (Northeast Atlanta) and Sandy Springs (North Atlanta) &#8211 Google apparently will opt for the Plumber B who transpires with list Norcross more conspicuously than Sandy Springs even when Plumber B is really a more relevant plumber to Norcross, but shows up mainly in Sandy Springs.

    And don&#8217t even get began on national the likes of Roto-Rooter.

    So, while Google might have pressed away the junk e-mail of Internet Directories and Lead Generators &#8211 they’ve produced a motivation for businesses to produce hyper-local junk e-mail pages &#8211 for example http://world wide web.example.com/Norcross-GA then&#8230 /Sandy-Springs-GA then&#8230 /Atlanta-GA &#8230 and so on.

    Buuuut&#8230. that practice can get your website suspended having a duplicate content penalty once the Panda filter appears.

    Conclusion

    Overall, the brand new formula update will reward small local companies who

    • Abide By The Guidelines
    • Provide Good Service
    • Update The Website Regularly
    • Get Great Reviews

    And&#8230give local companies another lever to drag from the Big Corporations.

    The publish How Google&#8217s New Formula Helps Local Companies made an appearance first on ShivarWeb.

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    Facebook Ads versus. Pay Per Click For Small Company

    Facebook Ads vs. Google AdWords

    With limited budget and short time, should you concentrate on Facebook (800 million engaged users) or Pay Per Click (75% from the search market)?  You can easily see that Facebook (blue) and Google (red) ads both gain interest &#8211 but where when your place your energy?

    Facebook Advertising versus Google Advertising for small busines

    And just what&#8217s the main difference anyway?

    The What of Google and facebook Ads

    Google runs their advertising with the Google Adwords brand.

    If somebody looks for a keyword, your advertisement is matched to that particular keyword and seems at the very top or right from the search.

    Additionally, your ads can be displayed within the Google network (banners and text ads online are often thing about this network).

    Facebook ads have the identical feel and look to some Google ad. They visible on the best side of pages on Facebook &#8211 and then try to get individuals to &#8216like&#8217 your Facebook page, to be able to then advertise promos, tales, etc within their stream.

    The price is compensated per like &#8211 you may also &#8216sponsor tales&#8217 which will the circulate round the social networking &#8211 looking to get traction.

    Pros of Facebook Ads for Small Company

    • You receive digitized person to person advertising from people&#8217s &#8216friends&#8217
    • You’re able to help remind coming back customers regarding your service/product (coming back clients are more lucrative than brand new ones)
    • You receive cheaper branding than traditional brand exposure (billboards, TV, etc)
    • You’re able to advertise straight to your ideal target customer (with Facebook census you may choose very precisely)

    Cons of Facebook Ads for Small Company

    • People aren&#8217t on Facebook to purchase and research (imagine your mascot relaxing in the family room having a family speaking about pictures)
    • You don&#8217t appear when individuals are searching for you personally
    • Facebook ads could be pricey versus AdWords due to big companies doing huge campaigns. For instance, should you and Delta wish to advertise to single women between 25 and 30 who &#8216like&#8217 travel&#8230guess who&#8217s likely to win that ad?
    • You aren&#8217t handling a mature, complete platform (less guidelines)

    Pros of Pay Per Click for Small Company

    • You advertise exactly when individuals are searching for you personally. If a person wants &#8216flower shop athens, ga&#8217 &#8211 You may be there.
    • Inexpensive, targeted, and focused &#8211 actually, the more relevant your ad is &#8211 the less you have to pay. A nearby florist will go mind to mind with 1800Flowers with the proper AdWords management.
    • Search may be the primary way people see the internet
    • AdWords is really a dynamic platform, but has lots of guidelines
    • AdWords can be used as branding over the Internet with banner advertising

    Cons of Pay Per Click for Small Company

    • No lengthy-term relationship designed for coming back customers
    • Needs time to work, data, and good AdWords management to obtain qualified leads out of your target customers

    Conclusion

    DDB provided an industry research are convinced that 84% of Facebook &#8216likes&#8217 come from coming back customers.

    Knowing that &#8211 you may view Google and facebook as buddies instead of competitors.

    Google builds awareness and will get new clients, while Facebook enables you to definitely maintain that loyalty and encourage them to return.

    So, Facebook Ads or Google Ads?

    For the time being, your online business should give Google your hard earned money and give Facebook your time and effort.  And keep considering your marketing options.

    The publish Facebook Ads versus. Pay Per Click For Small Company made an appearance first on ShivarWeb.

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