Friday, October 31, 2008

If Your On-Line Business is Going Down in Flames…

…there’s a lot you can do to boost revenues, expand service offerings, drive more traffic to your web site – lots of cool SEO voodoo that can make you and your site high ranking on Google, Yahoo and other search engines.

But here’s the problem. During rough economic times (Anybody notice? Hands?), on-line and other small business pull the wagons in a circle, batten down the hatches and try to hold on 'til happy days are here again.

Don’t cut back on marketing and promotion…
The fact is, this is exactly the wrong strategy to employ in bad economic times, regardless of what product or service and demographic you’re selling. For example, on-line businesses will cut down on PPC ads because of those monthly bills that are impossible to quantify.

Brick-and-mortars cut back on newspaper and traditional media marketing. If your customer base is shrinking, does it make ANY sense to cut your marketing budget? The fact is, marketing for pay or guerrilla marketing (which costs nothing but your time) is the only way to maintain a client base. You may lose some of your regulars as they crash and burn but, if you can point to your successes, you’ll always have a steady stream of new clients, some of whom become regulars – the best clients you can have.

Introduce new service offerings
If you run a small tax prep service, what would it take to add outsourced bookkeeping? How about financial planning. You may view the new experts you hire as expenses in hard times but you can (and will) make money from your associates.

So hire individuals who enable your company to deliver more services.

Don’t rely on metrics alone.
I know lots of site owners who scour their site performance metrics for hours. I’m not sure what they’re looking for, and it doesn’t seem to be very productive.

First, metrics tell you what’s already happened. Old news and there’s no guarantee that the realm of ecommerce has a stable future. One client was #3 on page one of Google SERPs and fell, overnight, to page 33. It took us a month to figure out why and fix the problem.

The web isn’t stable. It changes constantly. Content and websites are ephemeral – here today, gone today. There are no axioms in SEO – no "a = a," for instance. In fact, SEOs can’t even agree on positive and negative ranking factors so there’s just as much art and intuition in metrics analysis as there is number crunching.

Don’t have a cow, man
Clear analysis is better than sheer panic at the drop in site visitors but panic isn’t going to solve the problem.

A lot of site owners call in site doctors to analyze and diagnose the problems. Okay, but guaranteed there are no guarantees. It’s trial and error.

So, increase your marketing, hire sub-contractors that equip you to expand service offers and take your cut and use your instincts and the knowledge of your market to pull out of that digital nose dive.

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