Welcome to Curious Business

Every Friday, I post a small insight into running Curio City and/or Blue Hills Editorial Services. My most recent posts are directly below. You can also start with the first post, or use the subject labels to the right to home in on particular topics. Feel free to comment on anything that interests you.
Add to Technorati Favorites

Friday, March 21, 2008


Last weekend Eric upgraded my site from Sunshop 4.0.8 to 4.1.0. It did not go as smoothly as one would hope. At first sale prices didn’t appear at all, and now they’re displaying incorrectly. But I finally have Google Checkout hooked up (if still untested) and the shipping calculator is installed (although turned off because it's missing its text label). I hope those details can be cleaned up very soon. My April strategy depends on sale pricing.

Except for one telephone sale, I haven’t sold a single lighted cap for five days now. Traffic plunged yesterday to 65 visits from its usual 85-100 level. My best keyword ad is still at the top of Google’s search page. I don’t see any new competitors or significant price undercutting. Has America tired of lighted caps? Is the American consumer finally played out? Or is this just a natural dip? This is the same week as LY’s record-setting six-day shutout. Easter is probably to blame. Many Christians take a long holiday weekend…and when people aren’t at work, they aren’t shopping. I wish I could force sales when a slowdown like this hits, but all I can do is wait it out.

Despite the past few days, March is already in the bag. I doubled LY and beat my ambitious sales plan, with a full week left to go. This is what “making hay while the sun shines” means. April will be more challenging.

The organic search result for my best cap keyword doesn’t appear until page 5, far below many less-relevant sites. While investigating, I realized that Google displays the META description. It’s presumably looking for keywords there. So I inserted them a couple more times without making it read too unnaturally. We’ll see if that page creeps up at all in coming months. Remember that improving organic search results is one of my top priorities for this year, even if I have to hire somebody to do it for me. We’re going to come back to this subject repeatedly.

Speaking of the telephone…

I hate the telephone. I have trouble following conversations. By the time you reach the end of your sentence, I’ve forgotten the beginning, and if you’re going to string three or four sentences together, forget about it. My mind has wandered on to something else. I don’t quite grasp the etiquette of when I’m supposed to talk and when to listen, so I often blurt out thoughts and interrupt people. Lousy cell phone sound quality routinely causes misunderstandings on both ends. I try to compensate by taking notes during the conversation, but I still hate using the phone. I don’t even like F2F conversations. I’m a written-word kind of guy. You can imagine how popular I am at parties.

Some online shoppers prefer to order by telephone. Some find the web technically challenging – and I know that my site is slow and unreliable sometimes. Some think that ordering online is insecure. Of course, that’s just plain wrong. When you submit an order online, your encrypted payment info passes from your computer through my host’s web server through Authorize.net to the acquiring bank, all unseen by human eyes. When you give me your information over my cell phone (which anyone can intercept) I write it down on a piece of paper. Then as soon as I hang up, I enter it into the website exactly the same way you would’ve done…except now I have your credit card info on a piece of paper. So much for improved security.

But even people who don’t order by phone find a prominently-displayed toll-free phone number reassuring. Knowing that you can easily ring up some kid in a call center in India means that you’re dealing with a big, successful company. My phone number, OTOH, is buried on the “About Us” page. You have to dig to find it. If you do call, you get my cell phone. If you’re lucky, your call will go to voice mail. If you’re unfortunate enough to reach me live, you will think you’re talking to a blithering idiot. You will not be far off the mark.

Displaying my telephone number could conceivably increase sales measurably. I’m going to have to do that eventually if I hope to achieve “Curio Metropolis”. Not an 800 number, yet. And not on the front page, yet. But I should probably make it easier to find, even now. I can always hide it again if nuisance calls become too burdensome. Maybe I’ll do that when the 4.1.0 fallout settles.

A new reason to hate Yahoo:

Yahoo Search Marketing is finally getting rid of the 10-cent minimum keyword bid that’s always made them a second-rate service. Yay! But they’re also changing the formula for pricing keywords. The general consensus is that this will amount to a big, behind-the-scenes price increase. Boo! (If you click that link, be sure to scroll down past their marketing-speak to the Comments section.) I write good ads and sell relevant products…but so do my real competitors. I’m going to have to overhaul my Yahoo PPC campaign again, and very likely reduce its scope as some keyword prices spiral out of reach. Ah well, I’ve been leaving PPC on autopilot lately anyway. Shaking it up won't hurt.

No comments:

Post a Comment

What do you think? Leave a comment.

Google Search