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. Excellent post Meredith!

    Comment by Sierra — January 25, 2011 @ 8:00 am

  2. I’ve got too many blogs to follow these days but I always try to read yours. You’ve got so many of these to-the-point and useful posts and I always look forward to reading them. Your blog has simply become my own check list of things I could do to improve my site and my business (if only there were more hours in my day!)

    Thanks *again* for more great advice!

    Hop Frog Pond
    Reusable Gift Wrap

    Comment by Doris J — January 25, 2011 @ 10:52 pm

  3. Checklists are good, very useful. How can we see our business from the ‘outside’ unless we know what to look for? Thank you for this.

    Comment by heckety — January 27, 2011 @ 1:02 pm

  4. A much needed post, thank you writing it.

    I work with creative businesses by teaching them marketing skills. I often see owners chomping at the bit to get their name out there, get publicity, and attract customers, but barely have a site set up and haven’t put the time in to put their best foot forward. Starting with a strong brand and visual presence is key.

    On the contrary I hate to see businesses stay in the shadows because their perfectionist instinct has taken over. Sometimes you do just need to get out there.

    Your post offers a great check list to answer the question, “Am I ready?”

    Comment by Genevieve — January 27, 2011 @ 2:01 pm

  5. […] Is Your Online Shop Actually Ready for Marketing? – 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. […]

    Pingback by business buzz 1-29-11 — January 29, 2011 @ 5:13 am

  6. Sometimes as a new business, you don’t know where to start. You made it easy.

    Comment by Annie — January 30, 2011 @ 12:45 pm

  7. I’ve really been working on my brand and attaining a unified look and a workable web site. I have developed my own check list, but this is so much more detailed. Thank you so much for publishing this!

    Comment by Kathryn Bowman — February 1, 2011 @ 3:37 pm

  8. Thanks for the great advice, a good reminder of how much attention really needs to be focused on Marketing!

    Comment by Crooked Thorne — February 1, 2011 @ 3:42 pm

  9. This is all very good advice! I think you covered everything really well. Thank you…

    Comment by Gwyneth — February 1, 2011 @ 4:44 pm

  10. Thank you for this important information and advice! I’m double checking everything!

    Comment by Della — February 1, 2011 @ 5:00 pm

  11. Very helpful. Hadn’t thought of action shots. Thank you for sharing!

    Comment by Dee Fabian — February 1, 2011 @ 5:09 pm

  12. Nice overview and very direct questions and bullets. Just give it to me straight and I can check it off or address it and move on. Good format!


    Comment by Twisuka — February 1, 2011 @ 5:12 pm

  13. A big thank you for sharing your tips. It is a great piece of invaluable info.

    Comment by Marelle — February 1, 2011 @ 5:31 pm

  14. Thanks for the marvelous post. I have to go through each category and see if I’ve got them covered. I’m going to start tomorrow morning. I do know I’ve got the photos in pretty good shape, but I’ve gotten in touch with two friends and am going to add a live model wearing my jewelry to my views.

    Comment by Jacqueline — February 1, 2011 @ 5:34 pm

  15. Thanks for the post! I think my photos are pretty good, but . . . I just need to drum up interest as I just started two weeks ago.

    Comment by Jess — February 1, 2011 @ 5:36 pm

  16. Very helpful. Not confusing to understand the points you gave out. I need to check some things for sure. Thanks!

    Comment by Deborah Lee Taylor — February 1, 2011 @ 5:37 pm

  17. This is all great advice, some of which I already know I need to do 🙂 So I’ve made my list…thanks for the kick in the butt 🙂

    Comment by foothillfibersnphoto — February 1, 2011 @ 5:40 pm

  18. Great info! Thanks!

    Comment by Dena — February 1, 2011 @ 5:41 pm

  19. Precise and sharp. Just what I needed to know to take my online business to the next level. Thank you for sharing this valuable information!

    Comment by Nicole — February 1, 2011 @ 6:02 pm

  20. Thanks for all the info and advice…I’m going to plan action shots for my pottery!

    Comment by Karen — February 1, 2011 @ 6:14 pm

  21. Thank you very much for your very informative post. I got a lot out of it and just need to begin applying it. I sell vintage classic coach bags and try to get all angles in and out so at least I’m doing something right. I’ll work on the rest. I model my own bags but not sure my headless photos are any good. Maybe I need to use someone who is very attractive. Thanks again

    Comment by Lynn Lehman — February 1, 2011 @ 6:26 pm

  22. …oops, I failed in the press readiness. What are your suggestions for a press page/kit, I am clueless here!

    Comment by Heather O'Cain — February 1, 2011 @ 7:39 pm

  23. Great information! Thanks!

    Comment by Le Box Boutique — February 1, 2011 @ 7:44 pm

  24. I was shopping for glitzy earrings on etsy a week ago and was really disappointed at the lack of “action shots” for earrings! Most of the earrings were laying flat and I was too lazy to get out a ruler if the seller had posted dimensions, to try to get a feel for how big the earrings were. A head shot of a model with the earrings on would have instantly told me everything. I ended up not buying earrings on etsy.

    Anyway, thanks for the checklist. I’m such a new seller that I’m not sure which area of improvement to start on!

    Comment by margo — February 1, 2011 @ 8:07 pm

  25. Heather o’cain, check out http://smallerbox.net/blog/pr/the-elements-of-an-effective-online-press-kit/

    Comment by Meredith — February 1, 2011 @ 8:51 pm

  26. This was so helpful! Went through all your suggestions, mentally “checking” them off! So insightful, thank you so much!

    Comment by Erin — February 1, 2011 @ 8:53 pm

  27. Thanks for checklist! There was some helpful comments too.

    Comment by mioux — February 1, 2011 @ 8:59 pm

  28. Thanks for the useful tips!

    Comment by Neon Threads Clothing — February 1, 2011 @ 9:37 pm

  29. WOW this was great. I have got some work to do but it will beso much easier with this check list to follow. Thank You!

    Comment by kt — February 1, 2011 @ 10:20 pm

  30. This is really great info. The difference between goofing around to try to sell your craft items and creating a long term-sustainable business. We all need to ask ourselves which one we want. Because the latter takes alot more effort than just posting your items and hoping for sales. I am in the process myself of trying to determine how deep I want to get into this. The points are definately printable info and check marking everything off the list if you are looking for a serious business. Thanks

    Comment by Cheryl Stanford — February 2, 2011 @ 1:43 am

  31. Thanks for the advise. Love this info!

    Comment by Linda Vera — February 2, 2011 @ 4:40 am

  32. Thank you, I found many useful informations in your post.

    Comment by Tunde Yussuf — February 2, 2011 @ 5:08 am

  33. Thanks again

    Comment by Tunde Yussuf — February 2, 2011 @ 5:10 am

  34. Good points to think about, however I had already thought about most of them, there some important things I hadn´t born in mind like all the different points about the photos.

    Comment by EL TREBOL DE 4 — February 2, 2011 @ 6:18 am

  35. Thanks for all the helpful advice, that gives me stuff to think about!

    Comment by Lilith — February 2, 2011 @ 8:24 am

  36. Thank you for this post. It has great information, good work!

    Comment by Carla — February 2, 2011 @ 9:01 am

  37. What a great article–what really spoke to me was “can your mother order a product from your website without any help from you?” I’m really going to work on this one and to streamline my content. Thank you for this comprehensive list!

    Comment by Julia — February 2, 2011 @ 9:02 am

  38. Great info here! really appreciate your work putting this together and sharing your wisdom!
    i’d love to know more about “press releases”.

    Comment by robin sturm — February 2, 2011 @ 9:23 am

  39. I am just starting to market my jewelry and accessories. Being somewhat overwhelmed, your blog and recently your series has been most helpful. I hope to have my etsy site up this spring. Thank you so much for the really useful information you provide. Also, the comments by others has been a great to follow.

    Comment by Michelle — February 2, 2011 @ 9:32 am

  40. Excellent – making a list, checking it twice —

    Comment by Rebecca — February 2, 2011 @ 9:40 am

  41. I am very new to esty, thank you need all the help I can get to get my products viewed so will give it all a go. Thank you xx

    Comment by Nicola — February 2, 2011 @ 11:03 am

  42. Thank you for a very useful information as I am very
    new in trying to sell on website.The check list is very helpful now I know what to do,hope you will let us know more.Thank you again.

    Comment by Sripachara — February 2, 2011 @ 12:12 pm

  43. Thanks for the info. I am going to check out my shop right now and make sure everything is up to par!

    Comment by Cindy — February 2, 2011 @ 12:49 pm

  44. This is a fantastic checklist! I was glad to see that I had done many items on this list. But the ones I hadn’t are now on the top of my to do list!
    Thanks so much for this great resource. I even put a link to this post in my blog in hopes it will help my followers with their shops!


    Comment by Evelyn McCorristin Peters — February 2, 2011 @ 2:23 pm

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    Pingback by Tweets that mention Smaller Box :: Blog :: Is Your Online Shop Actually Ready for Marketing? -- Topsy.com — February 2, 2011 @ 3:18 pm

  46. Good advice. Thank you for sharing.

    Comment by RJ Design Hut — February 2, 2011 @ 4:09 pm

  47. Great checklist – ETSY has many of those features covered with its professional layout and functioning,

    Comment by GemstonesByBren — February 2, 2011 @ 5:37 pm

  48. Excellent post and information. Thank you.

    Comment by Heather — February 2, 2011 @ 7:55 pm

  49. Etsy has some of these features but it does leave some things out (It doesn’t enable you to merchandise products in multiple ways, you can’t do a press page, checkout requires account creation, you can’t easily convert people to your mailing list/Facebook). If you are going to sell exclusively on Etsy, it is still worthwhile to create your own website to host things like blog, press page, links to social media, newsletter, etc. Then you can advertise that site instead of Etsy and if you ever leave Etsy all your links will still be of use to you since they’ll go to your domain.

    Comment by Meredith — February 3, 2011 @ 9:35 am

  50. I once had about 5 items for sale on Etsy, and now down to one with barely any time to list anything, though I have tons of things to sell. I’m a small scale seller who gets lost in the sea of all this information on how to sell yourself, market your products, have a professional web page design, etc. It’s all too much to take in. I’m not a business person, never have been. I’m a creative type who gets thoroughly overwhelmed by all this information and advice that people have to give about growing your own business on Etsy and aside from Etsy.

    I know how to take good pictures, post things for sale on Etsy, create nice ads and sell things on Ebay, fill the few orders I have, and mail the items out in a timely manner, then leave feedback. That’s all I’ve been doing for the past 10 years, and that’s all I understand to do. If it gets any more complicated than that, I tend to avoid it.

    Comment by Kay Brown — February 3, 2011 @ 2:50 pm

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