When it comes to having a successful eCommerce business, Cost Per Acquisition aka CPA is one of the main factors. Shareasale vs. Google Adwords isn’t really a valid comparison. They are two different avenues of bringing in quality traffic and customers. Should you choose one or the other? Or Should you combine them both? I will discuss these questions and also give some tips of how to make the most out of those two.
Let’s start from the beginning. Once you have everything setup to go live, you probably already have set up Google Adwords and Google Merchant account. Those two methods of advertising are the best in my experience for bringing in customers. You should start with Product Listing Advertisement aka PLA and slowly learn how to use other methods of running ads with Google. Google Adwords seems so simple to use, but once you dig deeper there are so many different ways to run ads, you will be surprised. But while you run your PLA’s and experiment with text and display ads, you should also seriously consider signing up with some Affiliate networks.
Shareasale is a network of affiliates and merchants. Merchants will pay commission for every order affiliate partner brings, while affiliates one way or another bring customers to merchants website in exchange for commissions. Merchants increase their sales and affiliates make certain percentage of that income. Why is adding Shareasale into your advertising budget a smart idea? Because once your account is setup, you do not have to pay per click, you only pay when you see results. Unlike CPC (cost per click), the system Google Adwords uses, affiliates are actually interested in you making that sale. Affiliates get paid only when you actually receive the payment for your products or services. The only risk is your upfront cost, which is not a lot, I think. Adwords on the other hand charges you per click and doesn’t really care if you make the sale or not. That’s not to say you are wasting your money. The opposite, I think Google is brilliant at bringing quality leads. The conversion for my website is anywhere from 4-5%. That means I have to pay for 100 clicks in order to make 4-5 sales. If you know your keywords and play with the bids, you will still make a lot of money through Adwords, but adding Shareasale may add even more.
The Cost Of Setting Up a Merchant Account with Shareasale
The cost is not high, but also not dirt cheap. The upfront cost usually deters new merchants from signing up with them. Sharesale charges merchants $550 set up fee plus you need to make a minimum of $100. So the total cost to you upfront would be $650, which may all go to waste if you your affiliate program is not successful. On the other hand, most merchants spend at least $1000 a day on Adwords, at least I do. Shareasale may have larger upfront cost before you see any results, but the future sales and traffic may well be worth it.
Tips On How To Use Shareasale Effectively
If you ever sign up with them, you will need to make sure you build a good program and effective one. Beware of coupon sites, which will use your store name and place coupons on their site. Why is that bad? Because most of your customers will probably be looking for a coupon code using your store name before they make a purchase. Why would you pay a commission for someone who is already a customer. So, do not use the auto approval option of your Shareasale account. I am speaking from experience.
Also, please make sure you prohibit your affiliate partners from bidding on your brand or store name. There are some “wise” affiliates who will simply send you customers who have already been looking for you. For instance, they will create text ad on Google Adwords using your store name “www.example.com” and the bid will be around 5 cents. They will pay 5 cents to bring you the traffic that is most likely to buy from you. The purpose of affiliate network is to get you new leads and increase your sales. If you fall into the trap of coupon sites or other “wise” people, you will just increase your spending without actually making any more sales. Does it make sense?
So Shareasale vs. Google Adwords?
I think the correct combination and implementation of strategies on both platforms will bring you the most. Successful online businesses use both for marketing purposes. You can not really compare the two since they both use different systems for bringing traffic to your eCommerce business. I think there is less risk with Sharesale as it may look at first. Yes, $650 is a lot, but it is worth spending that money and having access to thousands of affiliates who will drive traffic and sales to your site. Drive more traffic to your online store using performance based marketing.
Let me know if I missed anything or if you have tips for other readers.
It is an eCommerce software that allows merchants small and big to open up an online store that has everything needed to start. As the name suggests, it is hosted on the server of the company offering the product. It is meant for people who would like to run their online business, but do not have technical knowledge nor do they want to spend a fortune on developing their own. Why build a bicycle when it is already built, just customize it for your needs, add bells and whistles and you will have a unique bicycle. The same goes here. The software is built by professionals, just get your customized theme, install your apps that you think will make your business more efficient and you are good to go.
Is Hosted Shopping Cart Software Right For Me?
If you are thinking of selling products online or if you already have been selling online through marketplaces like eBay, Amazon, Etsy and others, I can say with confidence that it is an ideal solution for you. Why? The first reason is that your customers may not be shopping eBay or Amazon while you are waiting for them there. The second reason is that most hosted shopping cart softwares offer connection between your store, eBay and Amazon, so you will be able to control your inventory and sales from one convenient dashboard. The third point in favor of having a stand alone eCommerce business is that never put all your eggs in one basket, more on this point later. Besides, signing up for a hosted shopping cart software is easy and ANYONE can afford it. Plans are dirt cheap and usually come with all the features new stores need. So, yes, it is the right solution for you.
Which Companies Offer Hosted Shopping Cart Software?
Since the rise of eCommerce and as it keeps growing year over year, there are more and more softwares being offered. Choosing a shopping cart platform is like choosing a car, if you don’t do your due diligence, you might get stuck with something you are not happy about. Of course, you can switch from one platform to another, but can be a painful process. It is easy when you are small and only have 10 or 100 products. As you grow and you have 1000’s of products, customers, and images, it is difficult to make the switch. Changing name-servers, stopping your adwords campaigns, and loosing sales is the usual process of making the switch, so please do your research. I have used Volusion, Bigcommerce, Shopify, and Magento for my stores and each one has pros and cons, but I would like to speak of another Shopping Cart Software that I have ignored all these years and was surprised by their offerings, that is 3dCart. Have you heard of them? Maybe yes maybe no, but you should definitely check them out.
What Should I Be Looking At When Choosing My Platform
Watch for features that will help you increase your sales, improve your conversion rate, and make it is easier for you to run your business. Simple, but not easy to find. While your sales are affected by aspects that you have control over, many aspects of your store also have a big impact on how your customers see your business. Your shopping cart software must offer tools for you to present yourself in the best way possible to customers and search engines for you to be successful. Those tools include seo friendliness, clean and optimized theme, security, and tools for marketing to build an audience of loyal customers. I would take a look at 3dCart, because they offer all the tools you need and they want their customers to succeed. Now let’s get to the review of the One Hosted Shopping Cart Software That Woved Me, which is 3dCart.
The 3dcart platform boasts hundreds of built-in-features, free professionally-designed responsive themes, industry-renowned 24/7/365 free technical support, and competitive pricing to meet any business’s budget. And unlike the majority of their competitors, 3dcart is all about ecommerce evolution. Their development team is dedicated to rolling out frequent updates, often times at the personal request of their merchants. That’s right! 3dcart’s community helps shape the very platform they use, with developers implementing popularly requested features and improvements on a regular basis.
Tools and Features Offered By 3dCart
Their plans are created with the small business in mind. Plans start at just $9.99 and the highest plan is $100. I told you anyone can afford it. Compare those prices to Bigcommerce. The cheapest plan starts at $30 and the most expensive one is $200, not considering the Enterprise plan, which according to my phone conversation with one of the sales team can run up to tens of thousands of dollars a year. Even though Bigcommerce is the expensive one here, it doesn’t provide any more value than 3dCart. There are features that 3dCart offers that Bigcommerce doesn’t.
SSL Certificate Policy
All the shopping carts offer free shared SSL certificates, but not all offer you the freedom to choose to have your own Dedicated SSL certificate. As discussed in my previous post, other shopping cart softwares have been drifting towards limiting your options of choosing the security for your site. I would like to argue that a good SSL Certificate is on the top 10 list of must haves for small business owners if you want to succeed. Since you are not a big brand, you must convince your customer they can trust you. SSL is the answer. 3dCart offers you the freedom to choose whoever you like as your security provider, while Bigcommerce wants you to use shared SSL or the one they choose for you.
Cart Abandonment Tools
Recover sales automatically by sending out pre-defined emails to customers that started an order but didn’t finish it. Reporting tools show you just how much was recovered. This is a powerful tool and I know that by experience. I did not believe this tool would help bring more sales, but I was blown away by how much it increases conversion rates. 3dCart offers this tool for all the plans, while other platforms only for higher plans.
Implement a customer rewards point program, offer coupons and discounts, and/or start up an affiliate program to reward your brand ambassadors! This is super power feature that will give you an edge over your competitors if they are using hosted shopping cart platform other than 3dCart. Can you imagine being able to give your customers reward points right from your store? Bigcommerce merchants can not do that!
Responsive Design Themes by 3dCart
Choose from over 100 professionally designed responsive themes. Select, install, apply – design your store with just a couple mouse clicks! While some of them are premium themes that you need to pay for, many are free and beautifully designed, remember I spoke about the importance of having a clean and responsive design for your eCommerce business? Their themes are responsive so your customers browsing from their mobile or tablet device will enjoy browsing your store. Checkout the preview of one of their most recent responsive theme.
With 3dCart You can sell on Facebook, integrate with eBay and Doba. These tools will allow you to make the most out of what is available on the web. On facebook you can showcase your products and even sell them there. Do you know how powerful that is? Ultra-targeting your customers can lower your cost per acquisition while increasing your profitability. If you are selling on eBay already, integration will be very helpful and if you are not yet on eBay, this tool will help you get there.
100’s of Payment Options
With 3dCart you can choose almost whoever or whatever company you want to process your payments. Choosing the right merchant account is also very important. You can also integrate PayPal and Checkout by Amazon besides accepting regular credit cards through other merchant accounts. By having the freedom to give as many payment options as possible, you are reducing the risk of loosing a customer who prefers only one method, PayPal for example.
Other Cool Features of 3dCart
Google Trusted Stores- This is a must for all online stores, because it instills trust in your visitors, which in turn will become your customers. Bigcommerce customers will have to keep upgrading their plans to be able to easily submit their data to Google to be eligible for Google Trusted Stores Seal.
API and FTP Access- You will need this access to your store to be able to change, delete, or upload files. Usually as you grow your business, these tools will help you hire developers and designers to do custom work for you. Having so much freedom is great.
Built-in Blog- Knowing the importance of a blog for eCommerce business, I value this tool a lot. Google looks at you differently when you are writing a blog. So every online store should have and implement a blog to bring organic and free traffic from search engines. 3dCart offers this tool to you for free.
SEO Friendly- There is no way to overestimate the importance of this feature. SEO friendly means Google friendly, which means high ranking on google searches.
3dCart is one of the options among many hosted shopping cart platforms that offers value and tools to have successful merchants on their team. They understand that your success is their success, thus all the free features that usually come at a steep price. There are many other features, apps, and partners 3dCart has and I did not get into. if you are thinking about starting an online business or you are not happy with your current hosted shopping cart software, give 3dCart a try. They offer free trial, so give it a shot and see for yourself. The following image is a screen shot from their plans page:
If you think I missed something or have a different opinion on this matter, leave a comment and I will definitely get back.
There tools available online that are free of charge and are essential for building a successful online store. Every website owner will need to use them in order to build a reputable site that will eventually start bringing in free traffic or aka organic traffic. The two search engines used by most people are Google and Bing. Those search engines and many other website directories offer free services that cost you nothing, but your time and attention, so that your store can slowly start building audience.
How do I let people know that my store exists?
One needs to ask himself or herself one important question, how do I let people know that my store exists? A logical conclusion will be to let search engines and all kinds of directories know that you have opened up your store front for business and are happy to see visitors and eventually customers. In this post, I will list few services that you will want to sign up for and submit your website to, so that search engine robots can scan your site and index your pages into the database of their respective organizations. Google and Bing both offer a service called Webmaster Tools. I will discuss their importance shortly. There is also Google Analytics, which will track visitors to your website and track conversions, let you know where they are coming from, etc. There are also directories, such as Dmoz, which doesn’t really send much traffic, but it gives Google a positive impression about your website if you are listed on it. Social media presence is another necessity this days which can not be ignored and are also free. Now let’s talk about each of the free services in detail separately.
This tool allows website owners to submit the sitemap of their website and let search engines know that the site exists. Once submitted, robots from Google and Bing will scan your site and index those pages into the search results. It is number 1 step, I would suggest, for any site owner to do, since it allows to show up in search made by people and potential customers. Obviously, there are millions of websites that are submitted to the database of Google and Bing daily, so your store showing up in the 1st page of any of them is minuscule. But, and it is a big But, without the first step you can not start the second. When you submit the sitemap to Webmaster Tools, you will have to verify that you are the owner of the site, which will require posting a code provided by Google and Bing into your websites html code, which is quite easy.
Analytics is one of the most used tools that is free by website owners and those who manage their SEO for them. It allows you to monitor your website and shows you very detail and an in-depth analysis of your store. You can track where your customers are coming from, where they are going, what are they searching for, how did they find your store, and how many visitors turned into customers. This tool is a dream come true for anyone who manages a site and wants to know every possible detail about it’s visitors. When marketing your site by paid advertisement, it will be a great tool to monitor your campaigns success.
There are thousands of them, but one of the most important ones is Dmoz, or at least that’s what I was told. DMoz is a website directory that looks very old and doesn’t seem to bring much traffic, but gives a positive impression about your website to Google and Bing. I was able to get one of the websites I worked on to get listed on Dmoz and it was one of the steps for success. With the SEO strategy we had and the luck of getting listed on Dmoz eventually gave that website a page rank of 3. The traffic from DMoz was almost zero, but my guess is that Google thought highly of the website once it was listed by the directory. There are cheap services online that offer you to submit your site to directories and I recommend using them, but be very careful, because if Google senses you are using some funny methods to build links to your website, it may suspend your account and remove you from it’s database.
One more thing I would like to discuss is the importance of on page optimization, which means your website’s pages are optimized for the best search engine optimization. By using meta tags and meta description you will increase your chances of your site being indexed by Google and show up in the search results. By implementing good SEO strategy and working on on page optimization, you are combining your force and with time (it takes patience), you will see results.
Social Media Presence
Social media presence is a must in todays connected world and it is a great place to be for businesses, since the word of mouth is the best advertisement. If you have a large group of friends on Facebook, followers on Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and many others, it will be easy for you to get your first audience and maybe even customers, who knows. Creating business page in any of those social media websites are free and cost you noting. While it is free to have presence, you may want to try running some ads through FB and Twitter to see if you can find some audience outside your group of friends and family.
Always remember, Knowledge is Gold and having the resources and building the right team is your key to success