January 24, 2011

Is Your Online Shop Actually Ready for Marketing?

Filed under: Ecommerce — Tags: , — Meredith @ 8:40 am

Did your last PR campaign fall flat? Are the ads you’re running today failing to snag you customers? Did the contest you just ran get almost no entries? When these disappointments come our way, it’s easy to blame mean reporters or fickle customers or the blog we just paid to advertise on. Oftentimes, the problem is a little closer to home. If your website’s not ready for prime time, all the marketing in the world won’t help. Below is a handy checklist of things you MUST do before you launch into any marketing efforts including advertising, contests, pitching the media, etc.

Product Photos:

Website Design:

  • Is your web design professional and attractive? (Attractive websites engender trust and that encourages sales. Amateurish websites make customers worry you may not ship the products, or the products make be as amateurish as the web design. You don’t want customers thinking either of these things.)
  • Does it use consistent fonts and branding?
  • Does it have a consistent navigation bar that easily allows the customer to visit different product categories?
  • Is your copy clear and readable and easy to follow? Are blocks of text broken out into headlines and bullets where appropriate? Can I skim any page of your site and within a few seconds understand what the page is trying to tell me?
  • Is it easy for me to find information I need, such as return policies and shipping information?
  • Are products merchandised in a variety of ways? (i.e. can I shop by product type, gift giving occasion, product color, price, etc.)

Information Presentation

  • Is company contact information easy to find? Can a customer easily call or email if there is a problem.
  • Is there a detailed sizing chart on your product pages? The more details the better. How long is it, how wide is it, how deep is it. If you’re selling clothing give us the size of the garment and the size wearer it’s best suited for. For example, this sizing chart tells you how long and wide the garment is, what bust size the garment fits best AND what clothing size the garment fits best. It describes how to find the right fit and how the garment should fit.
  • Are shipping policies easy to find? Customers want to know where you ship (US, Canada, International, etc.), how you ship (Priority Mail, Fedex, etc.) and how much it costs. They also want to know how long it takes you to ship the item. Does order processing happen the same business day or do you require some lead time?
  • What is your return policy? Is it easy to find? Are returns easy? How long do I have to make a return? Do you refund shipping? How do you deal with exchanges? How do you deal with defective products or shipping damage?
  • Who owns this company? What are the company’s values? Is there an about page?
  • What is your privacy policy? How is customer information secured?
  • What payments do you accept?


  • Do you have a professional distinctive logo?
  • Do you have a domain name that customers can remember?
  • Have you created a unique brand/products that give customers reason to buy YOUR clothing/accessories/bags/etc. instead of the competition’s?

Press Readiness:

  • Do you have a press page?
  • Can we see what other media outlets have written about the company?
  • Are there high resolution photos there that I can download?
  • Do you have a press kit I can download?
  • Are your product photos press-friendly? (This means free of watermarks and right click is not disabled. Worried about image theft? Fine, but is it worth losing out on those media placements?)


  • Does checking out take too many steps?
  • Is checkout difficult or slow? Can I even find the checkout button?
  • Do you ask for unnecessary information?
  • If I leave a necessary field blank during checkout, are the error messages easy to see and understand?
  • Do I have to create an account?
  • Could your mother figure out how to successfully place an order on your website without any guidance from you?
  • Do I have to leave your site to make a payment?
  • Are there a variety of payment options? (i.e. credit card, Paypal, Google Checkout, etc.)

Secondary Conversions:

  • Can I easily find your Facebook page? Do you have a “like” button on every page
  • of your site?
  • Can I easily find you on Twitter?
  • Can I easily find your other social media accounts such as Youtube, Flickr, your blog, etc.?
  • Can I easily sign up for your newsletter?
  • Have you given me a reason to become a Facebook fan, join your newsletter, etc.

Remember that the end goal when you market is to convert customers. You either want them to buy stuff or you want them on your mailing list, Facebook, etc. If your online store is not 100% ready for visitors, you are wasting your time money and energy by trying to attract visitors you can’t accommodate. It’s exciting to see your site traffic go up, but it serves no benefit if your site isn’t optimized to convert visitors. While you might be able to slide on a few items in the checklist above, generally this list is what you need to consider before you do anything else.

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  1. Kay, this post (and this blog) are really aimed at people who do want to run a business. If you are just selling stuff online as a hobby or to make a few extra bucks of course this post (and this blog) aren’t really going to apply to you.

    Comment by Meredith — February 3, 2011 @ 3:18 pm

  2. Thank you so much. I think that you just managed to put into one article exactly what I need to do. I have done much of this already and your advice brings it to the next level. My hat’s off to you.

    Comment by Marcia Lacher — February 7, 2011 @ 8:48 am

  3. Thanks for all the info and advice.

    Comment by hagit zehavi — February 7, 2011 @ 9:17 pm

  4. This is excellent information! I’ve been in the process of building my website for a while now, and these tips are so helpful!

    I look forward to finishing up the site and taking it live, but I want to do it RIGHT.

    For now, my blog serves that purpose, but I still have a long way to go.

    I’m subscribing to your blog, because I can tell there’s a lot of great info here!

    Thanks much!
    JenniferLynn Productions, LLC

    Comment by Jen M. — February 8, 2011 @ 8:12 am

  5. Thanks, what great ideas! They’re so practical and straightforward, I can’t believe I hadn’t thought of some of these!

    Great tips!

    Vicky Cangelosi
    Crow Canyon Jewelry & Design

    Comment by Vicky Cangelosi — February 10, 2011 @ 12:04 pm

  6. It is very interesting for me to read this blog. Thank you for it. I like such topics and everything that is connected to this matter. I definitely want to read a bit more on that blog soon. Thanks

    Comment by Robert123 — February 23, 2011 @ 2:47 am

  7. […] Creative Marketing ~ 1. Are you ready for marketing? […]

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  8. […] Not Being Ready for Marketing One of the biggest and most common mistakes I see, is online shops getting into marketing before they’re ready. Marketing will bring customers to your virtual doors, but your website might send them packing. Before you do any marketing you’ve got to make sure your website is up to snuff. […]

    Pingback by guest post: 5 common rookie marketer mistakes — April 6, 2011 @ 5:12 am

  9. wow wow wow. Thanks. This checklist was really needed by me, like it fell from the sky at the moment i needed it- THANK YOU!!!!!!!!

    Comment by Troy Amundson — April 7, 2011 @ 8:35 pm

  10. Hello, i read your blog occasionally and i own a similar one and i was just wondering if you get a lot of spam responses? If so how do you prevent it, any plugin or anything you can recommend? I get so much lately it’s driving me insane so any assistance is very much appreciated.

    Comment by undelete files linux — January 31, 2012 @ 6:50 am

  11. Install Akismet, that should greatly reduce the spam

    Comment by Meredith — January 31, 2012 @ 10:12 am

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