Sunday, March 4, 2007

How to Waste $4,000

Don't laugh, we've all made mistakes when launching a new business

How do you waste $4,000 in a few weeks? Patrick Coughlin knows. In fact, most ecommerce owners can attest to mistakes they made during the early phases of launching their new business.

Coughlin has owned and operated American Diamond Importers, an independent brick-and-mortar jewelry store in St. Clair, Mich., for almost 15 years. When he discovered he won an eBay ProStore's contest, he quickly began implementing the steps necessary to revolutionize his traditional business model into one that included an online business and a global audience.
Coughlin's goal to generate $1 million in sales from his online business within the first year is dependent upon his advertising and marketing success.

Coughlin kicked off his pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns at Google and Yahoo! about four weeks ago. His new website remains a work in progress, and his team continues to revise, relocate and create web pages. What costly mistake was made? Even though web pages were being added and relocated, Coughlin wasn't updating the URL addresses at the PPC sites. Consequently, visitors accessing his site from search engine ads were being sent to the wrong landing pages at his site or were getting an error page.

"I have learned a valuable lesson," Coughlin said. "It's imperative that, for every ad out there, make sure the landing page is correct. If you’re going to manipulate your website by changing pages or categories, double check your ad campaign to make sure your landing pages change, too."

Coughlin was establishing a campaign at MSN when, during a routine discussion with MSN, he discovered the URLs in the existing campaigns were pointing to the wrong pages. The business rang up about $4,000 in PPC charges before anyone discovered the snafu.

Not only does the wasted $4,000 bother Coughlin, he’s left wondering how many sales were lost.
“Twenty-five thousand dollars? Fifty thousand dollars?” Coughlin wondered aloud. “That’s what keeps me up at night.”

Coughlin said his new site is getting some traffic, but he’s unsure how many people have come to the site under the wrong pretense with the PPC errors. However, even though there is some traffic, Coughlin was expecting more traffic by now.“It’s definitely not what I expected,” he said. “Maybe I was under a different illusion. I thought once we got the site up and working and I brought in the search engines, our sales would be through the roof.What we’re finding right now is that we’re getting about 200 new visitors daily, but out of that, we’re only getting 3-6 sales per day. I was hoping for a much greater response.” Despite the PPC landing page problems and the disappointment in the early traffic totals, Coughlin says he and his crew are still excited about the new endeavor.

He said the web team rings a brass bell and lets out a loud “yahoo” whenever a sale is registered.

Coughlin also remains enthusiastic about his PPC campaigns, and he is boosting his ad budget for the upcoming holiday season.He started with $100 per day for each search engine and recently increased Google’s budget to $130 because the business was burning through $100 quickly at that site. During the Christmas season, he thinks the Google budget might go as high as $250 per day. Coughlin said the learning curve to operating an ebusiness has been frustrating, but his team remains excited about the holiday season and the coming year.

Online Jewelry Stores: 7 Must-Ask Questions Before You Buy Anything

By Brad Freiden

Buying your diamond ring, emerald pendant or sapphire earrings from an online jewelry store can save you a lot of time, money and hassle. But to come away with a great deal you’ll need to ask some tough questions.

How long have you been in business? It’s not an absolute indication, but it’s a lot easier to have confidence in an online jewelry store which has been online for several years and which has a good track record. Read the testimonials page to see what people think of them. If they’re new to online selling, ask them how long they’ve been in the jewelry business offline instead.

Are you a member of any professional jewelry associations? If an online jeweler is serious about professional standards, they’ll more than likely be members of at least one, if not several professional organizations. If you’re looking at loose diamonds, for instance, check whether the company you’ll considering purchasing from is a member of a recognized diamond exchange.

Are your sales people professional jewelers? It’s very likely you’ll have questions about the ring or necklace you’re considering buying. Do the diamonds sparkle? Can you order the same setting with a different shaped stone? Is there a matching pair of earrings for the sapphire pendant you’ve chosen? Use your questions as an opportunity to discover whether you’re buying from experts who can guide you to make the best decisions for your situation. Ideally you should be talking with professional jewelers who can answer your questions quickly and clearly without a lot of sales-speak.

Why are your prices so low? Many consumers are suspicious about buying from online jewelry stores. A common concern is the low price when compared to a local retail jeweler. Does it seem too good to be true? Listen to the answer you get from the online jeweler carefully. If you’re dealing with a manufacturer then it’s easy to understand why the prices are heavily discounted – there’s no cut for the middle-man. If not, and you have any suspicions whatsoever then dig deeper and ask more questions until either you’ve built up some level of trust with the company or you’re certain you should buy elsewhere.

What is your return policy? While jewelry prices online are often significantly less than in the real world, you can’t try the item on or often even look at it from different angles. That’s why it’s important to know what the return policy of the company is. Many jewelers offer a 30-day money-back guarantee which gives you plenty of time to decide, in the comfort of your own home, whether you like the item or not .

Why should I buy from you? It’s the most obvious question but rarely asked. You’ll find that the answer often separates the true jewelry professionals from the wannabes and the fly-by-nights. Next time you’re looking for an online jewelry store, make this your first question. You’ll be glad you did.

Is there anything I should have asked but didn’t? This is another revealing question. The best answers should revolve around you. What you’re looking for. What you need. And what you can do without. It’s all about the customer so make sure you feel comfortable with your choice of online jeweler after you’ve asked all your questions and made sure the answers made sense to you.

Brad Freiden is a jewelry professional with particular expertise in translating jewelry ideas into beautiful, custom-made items. He can usually be found answering questions on everything from ring settings to diamond cuts at
Article Source: