Archives for January 2010

[eShop Series] Five questions to ask yourself – Pt.4 Uniqueness

Hello and welcome the penultimate article from my eShop series.   You can view all the previous posts by clicking here.  Do subscribe to ensure you’re able to read the final article as soon as I hit publish.

So, let’s begin.

Day 4 – ask yourself  ‘Why should they choose my eShop?’

I’ve seen a million e-commerce sites like yours, selling a similar product line to you.

Have you ever thought about what it is that makes your shop different?  What makes you the best choice?

Why should I choose to buy from you?  All valid questions that other visitors will be asking too.

You might know why, but do your website visitors?

Think about the above questions and start S.P.E.L.L.I.N.G it out to your visitors: You need to make sure you’re telling them why your shop is the best.

Find something unique about your company (that your audience will appreciate) and shout it from the rooftops.  Make sure that competing eShops aren’t saying the same thing.  One trustworthy and established jewellery shop is better than six shops exclaiming to be the cheapest online.

What’s your best feature?

So, what does your company do better than all the rest?

Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Are you more secure/safer than your competitors?
  • Are you open longer than your competitors?
  • Can your buyers reach you by phone, but not your competitors?
  • Do your competitors charge, and do you deliver for free?
  • Do you have multilingual staff on hand to help, unlike your competitors?

What sets you apart from the other eShops?  Write a list and prepare to tell your potential buyers!

Just remember: keep it truthful.  If you think your hand-knitted dog jumpers are the cheapest, do your research and check your facts.  Perhaps you think your shop is the most safe and secure in your niche?  Where’s your proof?

How to prove you’re the best:

Once you’ve come up with a unique selling point for your company, work into your ‘about us’ page or tagline.

Post evidence:  Look for press clippings, testimonials and reviews to help you back up any claims you make.  If your claim is about security, write down the measures your company takes to ensure visitors are safe.

When comparing your shop to competing businesses, your visitors should be able to see why yours is better straight away – it’ll  clench the sale!


  • Think about what makes your company different,
  • Find evidence that backs up your claim,
  • Work this into your about us page/tagline/sales copy.

Update:  I found this article for eShop owners:  tips for opening a successful eShop.  Enjoy!

[eShop Series] Five questions to ask yourself – Pt.3 Benefits

This is the third instalment of my eShop series.  If you’re in e-commerce you’ll benefit from these tips.  Subscribe to ensure you don’t miss the final two parts.

So let’s get started.

Day 3 – ask yourself ‘do I list my product’s features AND benefits?’

Today we’re going to spruce up your product descriptions by adding in ‘benefits’.

You’ll show your audience how your product’s features will positively impact their lives and hopefully, they’ll buy from you!

But didn’t we do this in the last article?

Nope, we looked at problem solving.  We thought of scenarios in which your audience would need to buy your product.

Now we’re looking at your product’s specifications (features) and detailing why they’re important, how they’ll make life easier and why they’re great value for money.

People will see exactly what spending money on your product gets them.

Getting started:  Finding features.

This is probably going to be the easiest part.  Write a huge least of things about your product.

Think about the following to get you started:

  • Your product’s design specifications,
  • Accessories your product comes with,
  • What your product can be used for,
  • Its functionality,
  • How it is priced.

Take a look at the benefits of these, and write them next to the features.  Think about what makes each feature you’ve just written down good, why would anybody care about it?  Who would it help them most?

If you’re struggling, look at the example below.

A practical example of features and benefits online:

Let’s go back to my pet store analogy.  During my research, I found the following website that sells cool stuff for dogs, including these dog life jackets:

Look how the shop owner has detailed the product’s features. A bog-standard dog buoyancy collar suddenly becomes a useful, potentially life-saving aide:

U-shaped buoyancy collar keeps your dog’s head above water

Here are a couple more:

Bright vest colors for added visibility

Mesh underside for additional comfort & support

Instead of listing the vest’s ‘bright colours and mesh underside’ we now feel safer about the added visibility and we know our pet will be comfortable and supported.

Try it yourself:

Find a product you sell and take a look the product’s features/specifications.  Write down on a sheet of paper how each feature/specification will benefit the person buying it.  Now edit your site’s copy and work these in!


  • Talk about your products’ benefits,
  • Drill home what it is these features will do for your buyers,
  • Add them into your web copy.

Some great resources:

Marketing Features Vs. Benefits
Close the Deal with Logical Benefits
Newbies Guide to Marketing
Marketing Dictionary

[eShop Series] Five questions to ask yourself – Pt.2 Problem solving

This is part two/five of my eShop marketing guide, perfect for e-commerce newbies and online shop owners with no marketing experience.  We’re looking at ways you can increase your shop’s conversion rate, which will mean more sales for you!

Here’s yesterday’s post on ‘audience’ if you missed it.  I will be posting the rest of the questions over the next four days Edit: I’ll be posting these during the week instead now, thanks. Please subscribe to ensure you don’t miss out on any advice.

Let’s begin!

Day two – ask yourself ‘am I helping people solve problems?’

Look at your shop’s copy.  Do you list specifications or do you tell your audience how your product will solve their problems?  In reality, you should be doing both.

After identifying your target audience, use your product description and website copy to solve their problems.

Remember yesterday when we hypothesised about owning a pet store?  We created a ‘Paris Hilton’ persona and thought about how we’d sell to her.

So, with ‘Paris’ in mind, start thinking about potential problems she could be having as a dog owner, and how your products will solve her issues.

Where should I start?Solve your audiences' problems.

Start with your product.  Think about what it actually does.

What’s great about it compared to the alternative? Imagine situations where your audience would need to use your product. What would they be using it for?

Don’t worry if you’re unsure, read the example below and it’ll give you some ideas.

Solving people’s problems – a practical example:

Think about those dog poo bag holders we sell in our hypothetical eStore.  Why would our Paris Hilton wannabe audience need to buy those?  To pick up dog poo, is the obvious answer.

So, let’s dig deeper.  Think about the alternative to your product.  Instead, Paris could recycle her used carrier bags to pick up dog poo.

Would your Paris Hilton wannabe enjoy walking down the road with holey plastic carrier bags from her local shop?  Probably not.  It’s hardly glamorous.

At last, something to start with.  So let’s look at working it into our description.

We’ll change it from:

‘Pink bone-shaped canister comes with refill (25 bags)’

To something that will solve Paris’ problem:

“Sick of carrying plastic, hole-ridden bags to pick up your dog’s poo?  This cute pink canister holds 25 bags and clips to your lead so you and your pooch can go for walks in style.  You’ll never forget your dog poo bags again, so no more embarrassment when he’s caught short in the middle of the street!  Only £2.99”

Can you see the difference?  She’s not just buying a poo bag canister, she’s buying a solution to a problem too. We’ve solved another problem in there too!  Using the handy clip attached to the canister Paris will never forget her poo bags again!

Bonus point: Did you pick up on the language I used? I purposely targeted the description to our Paris-wannabe audience (“walk in style”, “cute”.)

Still unsure?  Take a look at this second example:

It’s for a hypothetical website that is selling a top of the range computer:

Audience: Designer.
Problem: Does it take you days to load up Photoshop and design huge images?
Your solution: Upgrade to render your images quicker than before – save time and never wait for loading programs again.

Audience: Hardcore gamers.
Problem: Is your slow processor holding back your gaming experience?
Your solution: Encounter your games exactly as intended – with exceptional horsepower.  Upgrade today.

Can you see the difference?  We know our audience, we know their problems and our products can solve them.

A quick practical exercise:

Have a go yourself, write descriptions targeted at casual computer users who don’t venture past Microsoft Office and Internet Explorer on a daily basis.  What problems might they encounter?  Why would an upgrade to a faster machine solve those problems.  Think about up-selling too – could you convince them to buy an upgrade of Office from you at the same time?


  • Imagine situations where your ‘persona’ would need to buy your product
  • Think how your product would help in those situations
  • What problems would your product solve in your persona’s life?
  • Work these into your store’s copy.

Image credits:  [Dog jigsaw]

[eShop Series] Five questions to ask yourself – Pt.1 Audience

If you own an eShop and have little online marketing experience, this guide should help you. I have written five questions you need to ask yourself, each with simple explanations to read and practical examples to follow.

I will be posting each question over the next five days.  Please subscribe to ensure you don’t miss out on any advice.  Let’s begin!

Day one – ask yourself ‘Do I know my target audience?’

Are you thinking about the people you’re selling to and the people you’d like to sell to?  Does your website appeal to their needs? If not, read on:

Why do I need a ‘target audience’?

Competition is fierce and I bet a lot of people sell similar items to your stock.

Let’s pretend you sell a large range of dog toys.  A quick Google search indicates 36,400,000 websites currently rank for that term.  That’s potentially  36,399,999 other websites that could get that precious sale instead of you.

You need to appeal to one audience to win all of their custom. Know Your Audience, Build a Persona

So, let’s find your audience:

Start with what you sell.  Ask yourself ‘who needs to buy my product?’ Sticking with my online pet shop analogy, you could say ‘dog owners.’

But be as specific as possible.   You can’t target ‘dog owners’ as your audience – it’s too vague.

Drill it down and ‘dog owners’ could be:

Girly owners with cute pooches who dress their beloved pet up in jeweled collars (Think of a Paris Hilton wannabe with her Chihuahua.)

Or –

Serious owners who take their sturdy dogs out on their hardcore walking sessions (Think of a Bear Grylls type with a powerful Alsatian.)

You can already picture the difference in audiences can’t you?

If you’re struggling try to do some research.  It’s always good to look at your past customers and work from there.  Alternatively, think about the type of person you’d like to buy from your shop in an ideal world.

Next, learn about your audience:

One of the worst things you can do is assume you know everything about your audience.

Get on Twitter or Facebook and interact with them.

Participate on forums that interest your audience to get a feel for what concerns them.

Use everything you gather to build up a persona and use this to help you get a picture of your audience (or who you’d like to be your audience.)

You may wish to draw a picture of a hypothetical member of your audience and write gathered characteristics around the edge of it.  Give your doodle a name to really bring it to life.

It’s time to make your website appeal to your audience:

You need to take the plunge and ensure your website appeals to your audience.  I’m not suggesting you change your website’s colour scheme or images (though you may wish to consider this later) start small and edit your site’s copy.

Ask yourself:

‘is my copy specific, will it appeal to my audience, or is it too general?’

Start with product descriptions.  Don’t stress – you can start small, just think of a couple of lines to describe your products (see my example below.) Write them out while imagining your hypothetical persona.  Why would ‘Paris Hilton’ want to buy this dog lead?  As you write, imagine you’re explaining the reasons to her.  Look at her picture. How would she react to your comments?  What would she like/dislike about this lead and why? How can you turn those dislikes into positives?

If you’re worried about changing your copy all at once, test first.  You can set up a A/B split test of the old and new copy using Google Website Optimizer and track completed goals (purchases) too.  You can see exactly what is working and what isn’t.

Struggling with the copy? Here’s a practical example:

I want to buy my dog a coat.  I’m a girly, Paris Hilton type.  (For the example’s sake.) I have the same needs as anybody wanting to buy a dog coat: it needs to fit my dog and keep him warm/dry.

I browse two websites to potentially buy from.  Both websites tell me the colour and size of each dog coat.  Both are equally priced.

But, on the second website there’s a further description, hand written by the shop’s owner, which the first does not have.

“Size Small, Powder Blue.  A cute fur-lined jacket to keep your pooch glam and cosy during cold winter walks. ”

Can you see the difference?  Both sites give me the same information (size and colour) but the coats on the second website tap into my persona, they tell me my dog will be ‘glam’ and ‘cosy’ too.  So I am prone to buy from the second store – it feels like I’m getting more for my money!

Lesson summary:

  • Decide on an audience,
  • Learn about what drives them,
  • Create a typical persona,
  • Rewrite your copy to appeal to them, and them only.

Finally, let me know if you have any questions or comments, or to showcase changes you’ve made to your eShop using my techniques.  Tune in tomorrow (and for the next three days) for additional techniques to help you improve your online shop!

Image credits: [Alsatian] [Chihuahua]