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Many established companies, especially those in the B to B space, are reluctant to venture into ecommerce. The reasons are many, but among the ones we hear most often:

  • Ecommerce is hard to set up and manage
  • We don't want to compete with our own direct sales force and distributors
  • We can't compete with Amazon. So why bother?

If any of the above sound like you, perhaps it's time to take a closer look at your options.

In terms of the initial setup and management, yes, ecommerce was a bear to set up five or 10 years ago, especially if your budget and time options were limited. Today, however, it's pretty easy to get started, particularly if you're inclined to start small, see what works best, and build from there.  In the world of WordPress, for example, there are many ecommerce extensions from proven providers that can be used to add an attractive and easy-to-manage online store to your existing website. 

Plenty of B to B companies live or die by the talents of their direct sales, so it's understandable why they might be reluctant to examine online sales. But in the spirit of starting small and seeing for yourself what works best, why not consider launching your store with just a few of your less expensive or low margin offerings? One of our clients  uses its own direct sales force and overseas distributors to sell high end testing systems to life sciences customers. However, customers are encouraged to buy from their online store when it's time to replenish the consumable test tubes that these systems reguarly require.

As far as competing with Amazon goes -- yes, Amazon commands an astonishingly large part of the ecommerce market. That said, mass merchants like Amazon will never be able to match the customer service strengths that many smaller companies can offer. Right now we are on the cusp of the holidays, and one of our larger B to C clients -- they sell customized Christmas ornaments to people all over the world -- is processing hundreds of online orders per day. Yes, Amazon will sell tons of Christmas ornaments this year as well, and the prices are tough to beat. But try to get someone at Amazon to take the time to personalize each of those ornaments with family names, memorable dates and messages of the customer's choosing, and suddenly the Amazon mass sales model seems vulnerable.

Ready to try ecommerce? Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

Until next time...

It runs counter to what many business professionals instinctively want to do, but one of the best ways to build credibility about your products and services is to not write about them. Before you call in the brand police, let me explain. What I'm talking about here are longer pieces of marketing content typically used to build awareness early in the sales funnel. In other words, white papers, reports, surveys and other forms of thought leadership content. For this kind of high quality content marketing, touting your own offerings before first demonstrating a thorough understanding of the business problem is a readership turnoff.

A far better course for reports is to follow what my company calls the "5-1-1" approach that has worked well for such clients as SAP, Oracle, Microsoft, Cognizant and others. (The first number is arbitrary, but you'll get the idea.) That is:

  • Four pages of editorial text based on analysis and reporting of a business issue facing many companies
  • A one-page custom cover, co-branded with an authoritative editorial source if possible; and
  • A one-page sponsor statement.

A good example is a report we produced last month called "Doing Business In-the-Moment": How SMBs Run Live in the Digital Economy." While the real-time subject matter of the report is aligned with the client's "run live, run simple" advertising campaign, no mention of the client or its products appears in the first four pages. Rather to keep the writing as objective as possible, the content is based on interviews with industry experts, discussions with midsize companies, and our analysis of the latest marketing data information. It's only in the sponsor statement, typically the final page of the report, where the sponsor ties the theme to their own offering.

Although not every company can afford to do so, a great way to add even more credibility is to co-brand your report with a well-known editorial authority. Among the business and technology nameplates we partner with are Forbes Insights, HBR Analytic Services, eWEEK and CIO Insight.

Want to sell more product? Easy. Don't write about it! Until next time. . .

If you work in a technology or product company, the chances are good that you've developed a large library of training resources, technical papers, webinars and other material that you post on your website. Most likely this information is is posted here and there on the key pages where visitors will hopefully find it. 

Posting relevant content on inside pages is a good best practice. But if you've found that all the hard work that's gone into preparing these materials isn't generating the traffic it should, maybe the problem isn't with the quality or relevancy of your documents. Perhaps the fault lies in how your material is organized.

Fortunately there are inexpensive but powerful tools available for our favorite CMS platform -- WordPress -- that make it easier for readers to discover the downloads they want. All it takes is a little thought on on your part to get started. 

If your company depends upon Internet traffic--and what business these days doesn't?--then know this. According to many sources, including this new comScore report, more than half of digital traffic online now comes through mobile apps. Smartphones and tablets combined now account for 60 percent of all Internet traffic. And that's growing fast from last year's survey milestone of 50 percent.

As you might expect, a good amount of that traffic is driven by the entertainment business where digital radio, digital messaging and social apps like Twitter and Facebook rule the day. However if you run a business-to-business company like many of our clients do, you still cannot afford to ignore the importance of mobile traffic.

Another report, this one from SEO platform provider BrightEdge on the amount of organic traffic generated by mobile, is equally enlightening. That study suggest 23 percent of organic website traffic originates from smartphones with another 12 percent coming from tablets. In other words, nearly all organizations should figure that 35 percent of their visitors will be reading their content on smaller devices. And if your clients include a good mix of Millennial users or visitors from Asia where smartphones prevail, then that number is almost certainly higher.

With so many well-publicized security scares in the news each week, most business people have a good idea how important it is to keep their computers updated with the latest security patches. What sometimes gets forgotten is the need to pay just as much attention to the security of their company websites. 

Security wasn't always such a big web issue. A few years ago, before the widespread use of content management systems (CMSs), most websites consisted of passive HTML files and graphics. While these sites weren't nearly as easy to maintain as today's systems based on sleek CMSs like WordPress, Joomla and Drupal, they were virtually impossible to hack. Because those old sites lacked the active code and database components that make today's backend editing process so interactive and easy to use, there were few hooks that hackers could use to gain their unlawful entry. 

Clients often ask us for content advice when setting up their sites. One of the questions that comes up the most involves use of external content. First they want to know how much of the better industry content that's out there they can safely repurpose without copyright violation. Then they want to know what are the best practices for doing so.

But first a little background. Generally speaking, the best possible content you can feature on your website is original content. Both visitors to your site and Google love fresh, interesting and informative articles that speak to them directly about solving business problems. Whether web pages or blog posts, original content is far superior to anything else you can find on the web and re-post on your own site. That said, companies that are attuned to an industry niche are frequently in a good position to curate the best content for others.

It's no secret that sales of desktop PCs and laptops are on the decline. Even Apple with its much-vaunted hardware, has seen a big dip in iMac sales, so far at least outweighed by increasing sales of iPads and iPhones. So if you've been seeing a spike lately in your smartphone and tablet web traffic steps, join the party.

With so many people now surfing the web on smaller devices, now may be a good time to evaluate how well your site performs on smaller screen sizes. But first a word about our own best practices here at Radar Media.

When we launch a new website, nearly all clients opt for us to include Google Analytics. It would be foolish, really, not to. . .it's free and offers a great deal of insight about your web traffic sources, number of page hits, what parts of your site are drawing the most interest and more.

But Google Analytics is not and was never intended to be a marketing automation platform. That is, a tool designed specifically to give your marketing (and sales) departments a way to measure the effectiveness of marketing campaigns, track leads, and create forms and landing pages, to name a few.

However a number of powerful and surprisingly affordable marketing automation systems are now available and catching on fast. Most are sold as cloud-based services that integrate pretty easily into a wide variety of sites. One that we've used for several of our client sites is called Pardot. And our clients swear by its effectiveness.

Most smaller website use forms to gather leads. Information collected by the forms is then sent via email to a mailbox (e.g., This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) where they are then distributed to salespeople or manually entered into a CRM system.

As sales pick up that email system can become a bottleneck. A few days may slip by before the leads get entered in. Some names and names might be entered wrong. Or worse, leads could be lost altogether. Relying on any manual system like this once a certain level of traffic is reached is risky. Here at Radar Media, we're seeing this more as our smaller clients grow up into larger, more successful ventures.

One of the mistakes that many companies make when redesigning their websites is trying to say too much on their product pages. It's understandable how this happens. Company insiders work in a bubble where much of their day is spent talking about product features - what they have now, how competitors stack up, and where they need to be when the next release or big customer comes along. From this vantage point, it's easy to assume that outsiders want this detail as well.

Problem is, it's mostly not true. Some readers may stay longer and drill deeper for information. But most prospects want the big picture. They want to quickly learn what business you're in, what services you offer and whether you may have something to solve their business problem.


"People are very impressed with how slick and professional our new site looks, and that it gives us a 'big company' look even though we're small."

Aaron Sherman,
Marketing Director

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