SiteBeat - MightyMerchant Monthly Newsletter > November 2006
Greetings from MightyMerchant.
Welcome to SiteBeat, the MightyMerchant newsletter offering news, tips and useful information for our clients delivered right to your inbox. MightyMerchant continues to adapt to rapidly changing Internet technology, and in this issue we discuss new features and changes we’ve made to our services. We'll share information about how to take advantage of RSS feeds, and let you know steps you should take if there is an emergency situation with your website. We’ll also investigate the current state of e-commerce.
We hope you enjoy this newsletter and learn something new about what MightyMerchant can do for you and your business. We welcome your feedback. Please contact us with comments as well as suggestions for future editions.
In This Issue
• MightyMerchant Announcements/New Features
– RSS feeds available
- Staff Changes
- Redirect Mapping available for new clients
- Security Seals available
- Discontinuing third-party hosted applications
- Why Safari is incompatible with the Site Manager
• Featured Technology
–Publishing RSS Feeds Using the Site Manager
• MightyMerchant Know How
– Search Engine Optimization Tips
• Tech Tip
– Emergency procedures
• Welcoming new MightyMerchant clients
• Industry News
– Trends in e-commerce sales
• Client Profile
MightyMerchant Announcements/New Features
-- Publishing RSS Feeds Using The Site Manager
RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication (yes, it does!), and it is a technology that allows Internet users to subscribe to websites that interest them and very efficiently track the information on those sites. MightyMerchant now allows you to publish RSS files that describe the content of your site. For more information about how to do this and why you might want to, see the “Featured Technology” section in this issue.
MightyMerchant is pleased to announce that Kathleen Boynton is joining our staff as a Web Developer. Kathleen previously led the web development effort for BendBroadband in Bend, Oregon. Welcome, Kathleen!
-- Redirect Mapping
MightyMerchant is rolling out a very useful new feature called Redirect Mapping. This feature allows you to take MightyMerchant URLs (web page addresses) and create shorter versions of them, very helpful if you are doing print advertisements and would like to publish concise, easy to type and easy to track URLs. Redirect Mapping is also useful for site owners who are migrating a site with already established search engine listings to MightyMerchant . Our typical setup cost for this feature is $100, but through the month of November we are offering Redirect Mapping for $50. This service is available to users of any MightyMerchant software version.
-- Security Seals Available
Have you wanted to have an "official" security seal on your site? MightyMerchant is expanding our security certificate options. If you would like us to add a security seal to your checkout pages, please let us know and we can now do that for you. Bear in mind that if you are using the free shared certificate that we offer, the seal will bear the name: bonsai.secure-datahost.com. If you would like to obtain your own certificate, please contact us for pricing.
-- Discontinuing Third-Party Hosted Applications
MightyMerchant’s focus through 2007 will be on developing our core MightyMerchant E-commerce product line. As such, we have decided to reduce our support for installing and hosting third party applications. Over the past year we have had to resolve issues related to security flaws in third party applications, such as online bulletin boards and chat systems. Since there are so many low-cost options available for these types of programs, we will focus our efforts on integrating with other solution providers who have expertise in the one or two applications they support. Our new policy will only affect a small number of customers, and we will contact you if we need to make any adjustments related to your site.
-- Why Safari Is Incompatible With The Site Manager
- Search Engine Optimization Tips
Search Engine Optimization Tips
The page title is a key component of how search engines analyze the relevancy of web pages. Here are some things to consider when creating your page titles:
1. Decide on a maximum of three phrases for each page on your site. The page title should contain those key phrases.
2. On your category pages, consider using general phrases for the titles. On the product pages, focus on phrases specifically related to those products.
3. Don't try to trick the search engines. Whatever page titles you use should describe the content of the page.
4. Consider repeating different variations of the same phrase in the title, but don't repeat to excess. Use only two or three variations.
5. Use punctuation such as commas or dashes between the phrases.
Here are three examples of page titles:
• A page relevant to Truck Accessories:
Truck Accessories for Chevy truck, Ford truck and Dodge truck - SUV accessories and Truck Parts
• A page relevant to vintage women's dresses:
Vintage Dresses, Women's Vintage Dress, Women's Vintage Clothing
• A page relevant to doll house miniatures:
Doll House Miniatures, dollhouse furniture, and doll house kits and accessories (In this example, both including and omitting the space between “doll” and “house” gives you two terms that people will search for.)
Successful optimization comes with making your page titles specific and more closely matching the exact phrases customers type when they search for your products.
For complete information on using MightyMerchant’s Search Optimization features, see http://support.mightymerchant.com/home/mm4/smartlist_9/website_promotion.html
- Emergency Procedures
We have developed these simple, step-by-step procedures to follow in the event you feel your site is not working or our servers are down.
1. If you cannot access your site in your web browser, try accessing another site. Sometimes the problem could be related to your computer or your network connection. These problems can sometimes be resolved by simply restarting your computer or powering down and restarting your cable or DSL modem.
2. If other sites come up but yours is unreachable, please send an email to emergencysupport-- at--mightymerchant.com AND call our office. We have an automated monitoring and paging system in place. Problems with the server hardware and software are rare, but if there is a problem, we likely already know about it and the problem will be resolved very quickly.
3. If you do not receive a response from us within 10 minutes and your site is still down, please use our emergency support phone number, (541) 953-1275. We will contact you promptly with an estimated time frame for resolving the issue.
When we have resolved the issue, we will let you know that the problem has been addressed and tell you the cause of the problem.
- Trends In E-commerce Sales
Trends In E-commerce Sales
According to Debra Aho Williamson, senior analyst with eMarketer (http://www.emarketer.com/, (”eMarketer Presents Facts and Figures On the US Internet Population”), this year 63% of the US population ages 3 and older, or 180 million people, use the Internet at least once a month. Now, those three-year olds aren’t buying clothing, electronics, or beauty products, but their parents are. eMarketer quotes US Census Bureau data showing that Internet users are predominantly women, totaling 92.6 million or 51.4% of Internet traffic, with men following at 87.5 million. 40.1% of children ages 3 to 11 and 73.7% of teens aged 12-17 log on at least once a month. The Internet continues to attract higher income consumers, which are also the ones most likely to buy online.
The global population is in touch in ways past generations could never have imagined. According to an article in the online journal of The McKinsey Quarterly (http://www.mckinseyquarterly.com/article), global Internet users send nine trillion e-mails a year, with a billion Google searches daily, more than half in languages other than English. Our computers unite us, making it easy to join in online communities and buy products from the farthest reaches of the globe.
The traditional “Black Friday,” the day after Thanksgiving shopping
rush, may be giving way to “Cyber Monday,” as more and more people shop
without leaving their homes. For most Web shoppers, making online
purchases is appealing because it’s simply easier than loading up the
family into the sedan for a commute to the mall. It’s also a
time-saver, and makes comparison-shopping a lot more convenient.
How can this growth be translated into greater seasonal profits for you? A recent article in The Boston Herald (http://business.bostonherald.com/businessNews/view.bg?articleid=164950) reveals results of a survey by Forrester Research Inc.. The survey predicts a 23 percent increase in online holiday retail sales, up to $27 billion this year. Forrester polled almost 4,000 shoppers, with one- fifth claiming they would turn to the Internet first to buy this year’s gifts.
Many of these shoppers will wait longer than ever to make their holiday purchases. These last minute shoppers won’t mind paying extra shipping charges for rush delivery, but they could also be lured to purchase from your site by special deals on shipping. Free shipping is becoming more and more common as the presence of small businesses on the web grows and e-tailers search for ways to make themselves more appealing in crowded markets.
“To maximize online retail sales this year, e-commerce executives must recognize that everything consumers experience after they reach a confirmation page is just as important as everything that happens prior,” Forrester senior analyst Sucharita Mulpuru was quoted as saying in that previously-mentioned Boston Herald article. Enhancing the online shopping experience can make a big difference, as consumers want ease and convenience along with reliability and good service.
Another important step to take is to analyze your advertising budget. Both online and offline advertising can draw people to your site. Stuart Feil, senior editorial director of Bredin Business Information (BBI), notes that small online businesses are increasingly marketing themselves in a variety of ways. BBI publishes reports geared toward marketing specifically to small businesses, but some of their strategies can be adapted for the small business marketing themselves to potential customers. In a recent Breden report available for purchase Feil suggests that print ads, broadcast, radio and TV marketing should all be part of your budget.
Feil also states that 82% of small businesses are online. In the past, small businesses with brick-and-mortar stores maintained their online identities for customer contact but not necessarily as a retail outlet. That’s changing. Small businesses are moving more and more of their everyday operations online, which means increased competition where there previously might have been none. Again, shipping deals, package deals, good service, ease of shopping and convenience may be what sets you apart from your competitors.
MightyMerchant would like our clients to know that we have been growing our business for more than ten years, and we don’t plan on changing our approaches. We’ve earned your trust and we want to keep it! We are invested in this business and want to see our clients continue to be successful. We’ll keep our eye on e-commerce trends and make sure we’re always offering the best services for online retailers!
- Client Profile - Goatheads.com
Puncturevine is a plant designed to survive, and fighting it is a real battle. “These seeds lay dormant 3 to 5 years before they sprout, and they can last as many as 20 years in the right conditions,” TenEyck declares. “It grows with no moisture where nothing else will. It really does deserve our respect and our total attention.”
TenEyck’s Puncturevine odyssey began 17 years ago in Umatilla, when TenEyck was working for an agricultural chemical company as a field man. He came across a list of biological weed control agents, and found an insect that ate only Puncturevine. “I thought, ‘hey, this is something I want to play with, how do I get some?’” TenEyck purchased some Puncturevine weevils (Microlarinus Lareyni
), but was warned that the weevils would have a hard time getting established in Umatilla’s harsh winter climates. TenEyck wanted to try anyway, so he turned them loose. “I didn’t see much that summer,” he says. “I thought it was one of those things that was fun to play with but I didn’t see much activity. Then the next year I was out looking at some Puncturevine and noticed holes in the sides of the seeds. I opened up a few other seeds and found that they had either a hole in the center of the seed or else a little white larvae.”
TenEyck realized immediately that the Puncturevine weevils he had released had not only survived but had spread to other areas of his community. “I just kind of watched them, and within 4 or 5 years I found them all over town. I could go to all four corners of town and anywhere in between and find Puncturevine weevils working on this plant,” he says. “I kept watching them and as I would tell people about what had happened and what I was doing they wanted some too.” TenEyck purchased more weevils for other folks tormented by Puncturevine, and all the time they were urging him to turn his interest in these creatures into a business. Finally, after another couple of years, he did just that.
(photo of Roak and his wife, Toni)
“I went to a local web design host that built my first website and away we went,” says TenEyck. “Each year it’s grown and gotten bigger and every year we get more and more customers as more people find out about us.” By nature, biological solutions are slow to work, but every seed a weevil eats is a seed that can’t sprout. The weevils eat the viable portion in the middle of the seed. “You can still step on the darn thing but it won’t grow a new plant.”
Customers found TenEyck’s first website inconvenient to navigate, and TenEyck believes he lost many sales from customers simply giving up before getting through all of the roadblocks to finalize a purchase. TenEyck began searching for a new designer, and found one while enrolled in a business class through his local college. His instructor knew of a web designer, but the firm wasn’t taking any more clients, so they referred him to MightyMerchant. “Our new website with MightyMerchant has been a huge boon to us just due to the fact that our new webpage is so much easier to use,” TenEyck says. “We have really increased a lot of our sales just in that way.”
The content of TenEyck’s new website is basically the same, with some subtle changes and a greatly improved shopping experience. The new design is more convenient for TenEyck as well as the customers. “It’s much better, as far as being able to monitor the site, check our progress, see where our customers are coming from and what time they are receiving our orders,” he says. “Processing the paperwork is so much easier for us and a lot more efficient, and we get a lot more information with a couple clicks than we did before.”
Goatheads.com is a seasonal business; they only sell weevils from the first of July to the end of September, giving them just three short months each year. The rest of the time the site sells propane weed burners, “No Goatheads” hats, t-shirts and other related products. “We try to be available to answer questions like ‘what do I do with this mess’ type of things, and we offer all kinds of advice on using herbicides, burning, using competition and all kinds of ways to get rid of weeds,” he says.
TenEyck estimates that 55% of his business goes to Texas, while they also sell Puncturevine weevils to Arizona, New Mexico, California, Washington, Idaho, Oklahoma, Colorado and throughout Oregon. “We’ve had calls from 6,000 feet all the way to sea level.” Being a seasonal business means Goatheads.com is not TenEyck’s only job. He was a wine-grape growing consultant for many years and has recently returned to the agricultural work he was doing when he discovered the weevils. “As people find out about us, that one person tells a few people and they tell a few people and as we get more customers we’re able to advertise a little more and that’s where we are now,” he says. “I feel like we’re still in our infancy. We’ve got plenty of room to go up, up, up, and as we continue to climb we just try to reach out as much as we can.”
TenEyck says the friendly support he’s gotten since switching to MightyMerchant has made a big difference to him. “All the way from the very first phone call to today has just been a wonderful, wonderful experience. It’s gone so well and I’ve been totally, totally happy.”
We hope all of our clients feel this way about us. Thanks Roak! And thanks to all of our clients who make MightyMerchant such a wonderful place!