Online marketing on a budget: Here are some inexpensive (or free) tools

Publish Date: 
Jun 24, 2013
By Georgia Krause

WHETHER YOUR ONLINE store sells motorcycles, parts or pies, all goals are based on this chain of events: Seek, shop, and buy.

Flagging the attention of customers who use an array of online devices to shop requires 1) good search engine visibility so you can be found, 2) a well-managed website to shop, and 3) a simple, secure purchasing procedure.

Sounds like a high-dollar proposition that includes for-hire experts, ad men and artists, right?

Nope, not necessarily. During the Internet Retailer Conference and Expo held in early June in Chicago, Betty’s Pies Distributing LLC co-founder Chris Swanson and online marketing specialist Patrick Garmoe presented their list of the best low-cost and no-cost resources to build your website and market to your customers successfully.

YES, IT’S A PIE SHOP, BUT STAY WITH US...
Unlike the products from Betty's Pies' website, your bikes and parts won’t mildew on shelves if they sit too long. But your products do have a “freshness date” that influences your sales cycle. The model or series of a particular product — say a helmet, or a jacket — affects its selling price, and your cash flow determines how long a product stays on the shelf at full price. Inventory and demand has to balance perfectly so costs are recovered before the product becomes less desirable.

Many dealers are small companies with narrow profit margins — so using an outside agency to build or update your website and then collect and analyze your customers’ data isn’t realistic.

Instead, marketing specialist Garmoe uses free and low-cost programs that provide surprisingly detailed data with which to base a retailer’s sales and marketing efforts. He told the audience the way he measures how Bettyspies.com customers search for the company’s products, what triggers a completed purchase, where customers are located and their website performance metrics.

Here is a list of Garmoe’s favorite free and easy resources for website management, customer insights and e-commerce tasks.

BUILDING YOUR ONLINE STORE
One of the easiest website builders and hosting sites is Wix.com. Its directions are super easy to follow and it doesn’t try to sell you more features at every turn. Its Online Store Center (wix.com/support/main/html5/online-store) lets you manage inventory, create coupons for your customers and reorder products. Wix.com will let you design your website using one of its templates for free, but you will need to upgrade to its paid service to go live. Try W3Schools.com if you want to get more into the under-the-hood mechanics of your website. (Continued)