[Video] How to Build a Loyal Fan Base Who Buy From You on Facebook

In this video I explain why setting up a Facebook fan page for your business is so important. I show you the steps involved and discuss how Facebook’s viral effect can attract thousands of people to your business for no cost at all.

In my opinion, if you combine our SocialShop Facebook application with your BigCommerce store and the tips in today’s video then I think within 6 months you can build up a following of a few thousand loyal and die hard customers on Facebook who will go out of their way to recommend your products to friends and also buy whatever you offer them.









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Podcast #6: The secret to accomplishing extraordinary tasks

Length: 16:49

Overview: A simple strategy which we’ve used to launch BigCommerce and turn it into the fastest growing SaaS ecommerce platform in the world.

Description: In this, episode 6 of my podcast, I share a simple strategy which you can use to accomplish what seem like extraordinary or impossibly large tasks. Whether you’re looking to start an ecommerce business on the side, make more money or even launch a new product or division of your company, use the strategy I discuss in the podcast and it’s impossible to fail.

Like this podcast? Why not subscribe on iTunes?









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Get Community Support Right From our Facebook Fan Page!

As you might know, we’ve been trialing GetSatisfaction on our community site for a few months now (I actually signed up for it when I was having breakfast in the lobby of the Renaissance Hotel in Austin the last time I was over there visiting our amazing team of Austinites) and things have been going quite well.

A cool case study on how GetSatisfaction has allowed us to scale up and support nearly 4,000 BigCommerce customers (along with ticket and phone support, of course) has also been published on the GetSatisfaction web site along with those from Zappos and Microsoft, so I think it’s fair to say they’re happy to have us on board as a customer.

A few months back we were involved in beta testing GetSatisfaction’s now-released Facebook application which brings all of the community functionality from GetSatisfaction into your Facebook fan page. Long story short it means people can interact with you on both a social and business level right from Facebook.

The beta version we tested was quite impressive and I’m happy to tell you that as of today you can now interact with our community and get support right from our BigCommerce fan page on Facebook, which is closing in on 1,000 fans (or is that 1,000 “likes” now?):

There’s been a lot of media attention around BigCommerce SocialShop as well as Facebook itself becoming the biggest platform in the world, and judging by Facebook’s monsterous growth I really feel it makes sense to “mix business with pleasure” (assuming you have the right privacy controls in place).

I’d like to hear your feedback about the new support tab on our Facebook fan page. Do you think Facebook and “work” activities should be kept separate? Do you dig it? Is it clunky? Has it made your life as a BigCommerce merchant easier?









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[Video] How to Spy on Your Competitors Keywords, Traffic & Visitor Demographics

In this video I’ll show you how you can use two free tools to see how much traffic your competitors get, which keywords they rank for on Google and also the age, income, location, etc of their visitors. You can then use this information in your SEO, SEM and marketing campaigns.

Competitive intelligence is such a huge part of growing your business, and there are some people who will tell you to ignore what your competitors are doing, but I disagree with that. Looking at your competitors, particularly the well established ones, will show you areas in which you can have quick wins, but more importantly it will also show you where your competitors mis-stepped in the past so you can avoid those mistakes and also where they had big wins so you can replicate them.

For example, if you use Compete.com to track a competitor’s website traffic and you notice a massive spike in visits in September 2009 for example, then you can jump on Google News and do some detective work to try and figure out what they did to get that increase in traffic. Was it a press release? A partnership? A new marketing campaign?

You’ll be AMAZED at what you can learn with a bit of digging around…









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What Do TechCrunch, Huffington Post and AllBusiness Have in Common?…

Howdy! Things have been extremely busy for us the last few weeks with BigCommerce 6 progressing nicely. It’s looking to be an absolutely amazing release and I’ve just posted a progress report on our community if you’d like to read it. I hope you’re as excited as we are about the big “6-0″.

It also appears that we’re not the only ones excited about BigCommerce 6 and also SocialShop which has garnered a huge amount of attention since it was launched as part of BigCommerce 5.6.

What seems like an almost insatiable interest in BigCommerce by the media has kept me busy with interview after interview over the last few weeks. Who knew that by simply listening to your customers and building the features they need, you could get the attention of TechCrunch, Forbes, PracticalEcommerce and others? :)

Anyway, today I just wanted to share some recent media coverage about BigCommerce with you. You can see all of our media coverage on our “In the News” page but here are a few of the most popular posts from March and April (so far) 2010:

  1. Small Business Technology: 7 best practices for selling online
  2. Huffington Post: Would you go grocery shopping on Facebook?
  3. TechCrunch: BigCommerce turns to Facebook to socialize online storefronts
  4. PracticalEcommerce: Cart of the week: BigCommerce (there’s a podcast interview too)
  5. AllBusiness: Doing sales right: Baby & Me Gifts guides us to Facebook success

I hope you enjoy reading the articles. If you’d like more regular BigCommercey goodness and you’re not currently our fan on Facebook, why not take a few seconds to fan us? Our team post all sorts of cool stuff on our Facebook fan page, like:

  • Screenshots and design mock ups of new features we’re working on
  • Real-time progress updates on new releases
  • Links to articles and blog posts (both ours and others) which can help you grow your business
  • Answers to your questions about marketing, ecommerce and BigCommerce
  • Other stuff which just makes Facebook more darn interesting

Check out our BigCommerce fan page (almost 600 fans in just a few months!) and click the “Become a fan” button.

If you’re more of a YouTube person then take a look at our YouTube guru channel which has dozens of educational videos and is about to hit 500,000 views and 6,000 subscribers (hooray!). There’s lot of (what I think are) really cool videos that I’ve recorded. In the videos I show you how to:

  • Market your ecommerce business on a shoestring budget (using the same strategies we have)
  • Differentiate your business from your competitors so you can win more customers
  • Implement amazing customer service to increase repeat sales
  • Rank at the top of Google with easy SEO strategies
  • Other strategies you need to grow your business without breaking the bank

Check out our YouTube guru channel

Sorry for the shameless Facebook and YouTube plugs but I wouldn’t recommend them if I didn’t think they’d help you grow your business faster so you can spend more time relaxing and less time working. We’ve learned a lot of stuff over the last few years and I feel it’s only right to share what we know with you so you can grow your business too, and that’s what we do on Facebook and YouTube.

Anyway, thanks for reading and I’ll speak with you again soon!









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[Video] How to Choose an SEO Consultant/Company

In this video I share 7 tips to help you find the right SEO consultant/company for your ecommerce business. The tips are:

  1. Price (generally) indicates quality. The idea here is that if someone quotes you $10 per hour for search engine optimization then their work wont be as effective as someone with a proven track record who values their time for what it’s worth.
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  2. Track record + still ranked? Make sure the consultant can demonstrate his track record of getting clients in a similarly competitive space ranked at the top of Google and the other search engines.
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  3. Give timeline = liar. If the consultant “promises” you’ll be ranked within a certain period of time then they’re generally being dishonest. There are too many outside factors which influence where you website ranks at a given time. Instead, they should go away and do some competitive analysis and come back to you with something like “We think we can get you ranking in the top 5 on Google and Yahoo for ‘red womens shoes’ within 4-6 months but we’ll do our best to get you ranking sooner”
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  4. Phone references. Get 3-5 references from current and past clients. Ask current clients how they are ranking, whether the SEO consultant was on time and on budget. Ask past clients why they left and if they’d use the same SEO consultant again.
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  5. Get opinion on current opportunities. Ask prospective SEO consultants what they think of your current website and rankings and what opportunities they see. If they can’t give you 30-60 minutes for a free analysis then it might be time to look elsewhere.
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  6. Get a list of “easy win” keywords. Ask them for 5-10 keywords which they think would be “easy wins” or low hanging fruit which they could go for if you were to bring them on board. Ask them how they found those keywords and why they think you should target them.
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  7. No contracts longer than 30 days. You’re a small business so you need to keep your budget in check. Plus if things don’t work out you don’t want to be stuck with an under performing SEO consultant for 3/6/12 months.

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Podcast #5: Your ecommerce, SEO and online marketing questions answered

Length: 22:30

Overview: A Q&A session in which I answer your questions about ecommerce, search engine optimization and online marketing.

Description: In this, episode 5 of my podcast, I answer your questions (posted on our Facebook page) about ecommerce, SEO and online marketing. I discuss the best way to improve your rankings on Google, how to get started in ecommerce on a limited budget, how to improve customer loyalty while raising retention rates and a whole lot more.

If you like the Q&A style then please leave a comment below – there’s a good chance that this could become a regular thing if enough people are interested.

Like this podcast? Why not subscribe on iTunes?









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How to: Promote Your Business on TV In Front of Thousands of Potential Customers for $100 With Google TV Ads

Have you heard of Google TV ads? For just a few hundred bucks and with absolutely zero video creation skills you can advertise your business on major TV networks alongside American icons like Ford, McDonalds and Macy’s.

You simply sign up for Google TV Ads (through Google AdWords), upload your TV ad (which you can create for $300 using Spotmixer’s step-by-step wizard) and within 24 hours it will start running on the TV networks you select at the specific times you choose. Sweet!

Here’s how Google TV ads works:

Using the Spotmixer step-by-step ad creation wizard you can create a customized TV ad based on one of their many templates. You can add your logo, images and video or just choose from their stock library.

So how does Google get your ad on TV? They’ve partnered with a few of the second tier cable networks who have a combined reach of over 50 million households throughout the country. You might see a Starbucks ad followed by an MGD ad followed by your ad.

You can spend just $100 to get your ad in front of 10,000 viewers. Sure it might be at 2am on a Tuesday, but if you’re creative enough and can work some really good benefits into your ad then you can definitely make your money back – and then some.

If you can shell out a few thousand bucks you can run your ad 7 nights a week between 12am and 3am on major TV networks. Take it up to $5,000 – $10,000 and you’re talking almost prime-time spots (11pm onwards) on channels like Discovery, Travel, Fox, MSNBC and others. You can choose which channels your ad appears on, at what time and on which days.

They say TV advertising is dying and Seth Godin says it’s a form of interruption marketing, but I still say it’s worth testing, especially if you sell “mainstream” products like clothes, shoes, computers, vitamins, etc. Here’s how I’d do it:

  1. Register a new domain name so you can exclusively track your TV ads success. For example, if you sell t-shirts online at CoolTShirts.com then register BuyCoolTShirts.com and use that as the website link you show in your TV ads. Setup a domain forward at your domain name registrar (such as GoDaddy) and make the redirect a Google Analytics trackable link.
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  2. Setup Google Analytics tracking for orders and traffic so you can see which visitors ordered as a result of seeing your TV ad. See this blog post for more info.
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  3. Promote your best selling products at the top of your home page using BigCommerce’s built-in banner creation tool (under the marketing menu in your control panel).
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  4. Run your TV ad for 3-5 consecutive nights on the SAME channels EVERY NIGHT. Repetition is important – they say it takes the average person 7 views of your ad before they take action.
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  5. Use Google Analytics to track your sales from the TV ad. If you made back more than you spent then great, ramp up your budget and run another 3-5 day trial. If not, try a different channel and repeat step 4. If you fail again then choose a different Spotmixer ad template with a stronger call to action or a better benefit (remember, sell on benefits – i.e. what your products can do for the buy – and not features, i.e. what the product has)

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The idea is dead simple and is the same as any other form of direct marketing. If you can make back more than you spend (even by just a few dollars) then ramp your budget significantly. As long as you turn a slight profit then the sky’s the limit.

Remember to factor in the lifetime value of each customer – even if you just break even on your TV ad through new customers ordering from you once, if you have a good autoresponder and monthly newsletter setup (in which you send out discount coupons and info on your cool new products) then they’ll come back for a second, third or fourth order and will tell their friends too, so you could end up making back $3,000 (or more) for every $1,000 you invest in TV advertising.

The key is to pique the viewer’s curiosity with your TV ad. Make it different. Even make it ugly and unprofessional. Include your photo or a home-recorded video of you explaining why people should buy from you. They’ll do a double take and ask themselves “who the heck is this guy/gal”. Then they’ll visit your online store and if your prices are good and they need what you sell then they’ll buy.

It really is that simple and there’s no reason to over complicate things.

Will your ad work? Who knows, but the last time I was in our Austin office I was suffering extreme jet lag (after 18 hours of flying from Sydney->LA->Dallas->Austin) and at 2am I saw an (obviously) amateur TV ad for an online store selling marketing podcasts. I jumped on their website and $140 later I had purchased 5 podcasts which I listened to on my flight back home to Sydney a few weeks later.

Sure I appreciate amateur marketing efforts more than some people, but hey, they got me as a customer so their TV ad did its job.









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[Video] Facebook and the 1,000 True Fans Concept

The link mentioned in the video: The Techium: 1,000 True Fans

At the link above Kevin Kelly discusses the 1,000 true fans concept in the context of a musician trying to make it. In the video above I take the same concept and apply it to business. What would happen if you built up 1,000 true fans using social media tools (particularly Facebook fan pages)? Would your business growth skyrocket (yes)? Would those 1,000 true fans attract another 2,000, 5,000 or 10,000 fans (yes)? Would you have your own community with which you could share content and sell your products to (yes)?

Watch the video to understand the concept, which can be applied to any and all businesses, regardless of whether you’re in ecommerce or not. Having 1,000 true fans should be the goal of any new business, because they will help grow your revenues faster than any marketing ever could. If you’re just started and you have a small (or non existent) marketing budget then you need to implement the 1,000 true fans concept right now.









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7 Videos That ALL Business Owners Must Watch. RIGHT NOW.

There are thousands of excellent videos online that can teach you everything you need to take your business to the next level. But it takes hours of filtering, searching and previewing to find them. Who has the time?

In this post I’ve included 7 videos (our of the 400+ I have bookmarked) that I think really summarize the ideas and strategies you need to build a business online using the tools available today. That means killer customer service. Twitter. Facebook. Google AdWords. Word of mouth marketing. Trust.

Under each video is the speaker’s name along with their Twitter account in brackets so you can follow them if you’d like to. There’s about two and a half hours of video goodness below, so if you can’t watch them all now, make sure you boookmark this page and watch them all when you can. I’d even recommend re-watching most of them so their messages really hit home.

Tony Hsueh (@zappos) – A talk on fostering a culture of extraordinary customer service (part 1)

Tony Hsueh (@zappos) – A talk on fostering a culture of extraordinary customer service (part 2)

Gary Vaynerchuk (@garyvee) – An intimate talk about social media with Yahoo Employees

Gary Vaynerchuk (@garyvee) – A talk about social media at the Affiliate Summit in Vegas

David Heinemeier Hansson (@dhh) – A (hilarious) talk on creating a successful startup

Seth Godin (@thisissethsblog) – A talk on influencing the masses

Jeff Bezos (@jeffbezos) – A talk on innovation









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