Challenges of E-Commerce Solutions
As great as small business e-commerce solutions are, they're not without their flaws. If your sole reason for leasing a solution is to track your search engine marketing
, it's not robust enough to be your number one choice.
to Track Search Engine Advertising
Did you notice how four tracking URLs were generated in the auto insurance example? Only one search engine and keyword
. How many search engines are in your media plan? 2? 5? 15? How many keywords are you buying? 10? 500? 1,000? When you track each variation separately, you'll be generating and monitoring a bucket load of tracking URLs. At some point you really should assess your campaigns at a granular level, or you won't catch the pieces that are dragging down your overall ROI. Referring to the auto insurance example, perhaps "auto insurance quote" is wildly profitable while "car insurance" is bleeding money. If these keywords are grouped under one tracking URL, the advertiser wouldn't know to cut one word. It wouldn't be wise to cancel the entire campaign.
E-commerce solutions won't maintain bid positions on PFP search engines either. It's possible to update particular search engines hourly. Your watchful eye on your
, or use of a bid management tool, is necessary.
Nor is there a report that displays your cost-per-order from search engines. This task of comparing your search engine spending
to your ad-tracking ones is time-consuming.
E-Commerce Sites Aren't Search-Engine Friendly
E-commerce sites are mostly dynamic. What did you learn in Part III about dynamic web pages? A majority are not indexable by the search engines, not even by Google if there are more than two
in the URL.
Review various sites using e-commerce solutions (check out Yahoo! Merchant Solutions or 1ShoppingCart.com's client lists, for example). Click on product or service links within
' sites to study the URLs. You'll notice how sometimes the root domain of the URL changes to a different one, which may be a problem. A web designer skilled in search engine optimization (SEO) can work with these solutions in a way that won't obstruct potential organic rankings. For example, instead of linking to a newsletter sign-up page that redirects to the e-commerce solution's server, keep the newsletter content page on your site and include sign-up fields on that page. Once people hit a "submit" button, then the transaction occurs via the e-commerce provider.
If you're using an e-commerce solution, refer to the section in Chapter 10, "Web Site Optimization," for optimization tips. Or, refer to Shari Thurow's book,
Search Engine Visibility
, for more advanced workarounds for dynamic web pages.
Be aware if your e-commerce solution generates a site template. A
enables you to cut and paste copy into a web interface to create and modify site pages. No programming is required. This is very affordable because marketers simply work with preconfigured site designs. It's a
to create a web site, although a custom "look and feel" is somewhat limited. Make sure you look at the URLs that are generated with a template program. Ones with multiple variables in the URL (look for symbols such as &, %, and =) are problems. Ones with two variables or less are usually fine.
If you hire a web developer who can customize the shopping cart URL structure and page design, then the site will probably get better search engine visibility.
Lack of Customer Support
Yahoo! offers 24/7 phone support to their small business solution merchants. That's extremely helpful. 1ShoppingCart.com provides phone support Monday through Friday, 10
Eastern standard time, which is good, but can be frustrating if technical problems occur on the weekends or in the wee hours of the night.
Because e-commerce solution providers offer varying degrees of assistance, review their customer support hours and ask potential
questions about how accounts are
. Here are a few suggestions:
How many of their customer support
service how many
What's the average response time to an email inquiry?
Does a live person answer customer support calls, or if questions are sent to voicemail, what's the average response time for a callback?
These are just a few questions you could ask to get a sense of which e-commerce solution providers run
. Feel free to use these questions in conversations with other ROI tracking solution providers, too.