russian river pr blog

Nancy Birnbaum-Marketing Maven


DYI marketing

Common Mistakes Made in an Ecommerce Business

(Originally published in the Blog)

Building an online business can be difficult, especially if it’s your first time. However, just because it’s your first time doesn’t mean you need to make first-timer mistakes. There’s a famous quote that says “Only a fool learns from his own mistakes. The wise man learns from the mistakes of others.”

In this post, we will look at seven of the most common mistakes new ecommerce business owners make and how you can avoid them.

In no particular order, here they are:

“If You Build It They Will Come” Mentality

They won’t. Building your business (and traffic) takes time, energy and effort. According to Internet Live Stats, the internet has about 1,202,012,086 websites at this very moment, and according to WorldWideWebSize there are 4.44 billion pages. Take a moment to think about that. When you create your store, you will be website number 1,202,012,087. How are people going to find you?

Building the most beautiful site and filling it with great products won’t make customers come. When you start a business, you have to realize that launching your store is just the first step in a great journey to building your business. There are however many steps that come after launch.

No Logo

A logo is usually the first thing a visitor sees and one of the first impressions of your online store. Most if not all ecommerce platforms will display your shop title in standard text if you don’t upload a logo yourself, but this isn’t good enough.

So why do so many people launch stores with no logos?

Usually it’s because most people still think that in order to get a logo made, they need to find a designer and spend hundreds (or thousands) of dollars. The fact is though, this isn’t true. Far from it. There are so many options available now for creating a free or very inexpensive logo that there’s no reason your shop should be using a default text logo.

No Proper About or Contact Page

A lot of store owners end up underestimating the sales potential of their About page. Have a look at your own analytics and you’ll likely find your About page is either the second most visited page or in the top three. That means this page is important to visitors.

Even though this is one of the most important pages for your visitors, many new online merchants tend to skimp on this page. Don’t.

Let’s look at some of the biggest mistakes people make on their About and Contact pages:

No Story – Who exactly are you? How did your store come to be? What’s the story of your products? How are they made? You don’t need to create an elaborate story, however, a few paragraphs that store visitors can relate to are hugely beneficial.

No Location Details – Yes, you’re an online store, but that doesn’t mean people don’t look for an address. Many visitors still want to know where you’re located and where your products ship from. For many visitors, it’s just an issue of trust, for others they want to know if they need to consider customs and duties if your products ship from another country.

Using A Generic Email Address – Yes, Gmail is great but that’s not going to cut it for your business. So many first time merchants are guilty of using a generic, throwaway email address. What does that say to customers? Take the time to set up a proper domain name ( and set up proper email addresses to let your customers know you’re in it for the long haul. (This is my top “Pet Peeve”).

Not Actually Thinking About Overall SEO Strategy

Probably the most common problem with new online stores is not doing any SEO or not doing it properly. It’s not rocket science but it’s not easy either. Coupled with the fact that SEO can take a while to show any signs of success and it ends up being a complete afterthought (if even a thought at all) for most new online businesses.

The thing is, SEO is quite necessary and can be one of your most powerful tools as it can continue to bring in targeted traffic to your site, day after day after day. Unlike channels like Facebook and Google Adwords which stop delivering traffic the second you stop paying.

Can you list the top 10 keywords you’re trying to target in the long term right now? If you can’t, it’s time to actually think about your SEO and keyword strategy.

Focusing On Too Many Things

Business is hard and complicated. Imagine a brain surgeon doing multiple surgeries at one time. It would be disaster! The same holds true for building a business. Sure someone’s life isn’t on the line, but the life of your business likely is.

All too often, entrepreneurs get scattered, chasing their tails, the next shiny app or growth hacking tactic instead of finishing that they started. This leads to a scattered approach that will rarely show positive results for the business.

Building a business is hard work, however, no matter how much work you put in, the small details as outlined in this post can sabotage your efforts and hard work.

Make sure you regularly take some time to take an objective look at your store (or business), your marketing channels and your goals to make sure you’re on the right path and you’ll be well on your way to more traffic and sales for your online store (or business).




The Best Beginner’s Guide to Digital Photography

Anyone who understands marketing know that photography plays an integral part in selling your product, service, knowledge, etc.

I grew up in a family of photographers. My father, who worked in a big ad agency (right out of Mad Men), took lots of photos of events, whereas my brother started as a teen and built a darkroom in our basement, then went off to Vietnam as an Army photographer.

So it was inevitable that I would come to love being behind the lens instead of in front of it. I started early too. I was using my brother’s old Nikon in high school, taking photos of everything: new adventures, tall ships, people, buildings, travels… you name it.

I remember my first Polaroid SX-70 Camera. I had tons of fun with that one! On of my favorite creative feats was to “alter” a polaroid as it was fixing.

foot bridge

When I finally got my first DSLR, I thought I was in heaven. Except for the fact that I hadn’t a clue as to how to use it! Fortunately, most DSLRs have one or two auto modes. And I use that 90% of the time.

That was until I came across this incredibly simple “How To” article on one of my favorite Photography newsletters – PetaPixel ( This article answers all those nagging basic questions from “What is Exposure?” to “What is Aperture?” and offers great examples. For example, I learned that the higher the Depth of Field “F-Stop” setting, the more that will be in focus. So if you want to have only the thing closest to you in focus, you should use a lower F-Stop like F1.4. Then everything in the background will be blurred.

Sure, I experimented with my Sony A33. I tried to get that cool shot of a waterfall with the water in motion, but I didn’t know what the best settings were until now. (It’s a slow shutter speed, 1/2 second!).

So if you dabble in photography, or you’re a DIY Marketer like me, or you just want to learn how to use your DSLR to it’s greatest effect, then check out this guide:

A Comprehensive Beginner’s Guide to Aperture, Shutter Speed, and ISO


More recent photo: Old Seven-Mile Bridge, Florida Keys

4 Easy Steps to Get Noticed!

How can you make the best possible impression and actually get through to target reporters?

Follow these tips for pitching media on their top four preferred contact methods. Just remember, the personal preferences of individual journalists will vary.

  1. Email

Email remains by far the most preferred contact method for journalists. In fact, Cision’s 2015 Global Social Journalism Study found that 81 percent of journalists chose email over social media, newswires, snail mail or even face-to-face contact.

Start by focusing on the target reporter’s audience. What will resonate with their readers and feed their appetite for more news?

When in doubt, shorten your pitch. Always include appropriate links and contact information, but don’t send attachments or full-length press releases.

Lastly, think long and hard about your subject line. That’s your golden ticket. Make sure it shines without sounding too presumptuous or sales-focused.

  1. Phone

A third of journalists still prefer to be contacted by telephone, and in Finland, Germany, the U.K. and Australia telephone pitches are the second-most preferred method of contact.

Don’t wing your verbal pitches. Before making the call, practice what you’ll say with colleagues and ask for feedback.

Additionally, don’t give into the urge to ring up your target reporter every week. Those who call too often will quickly turn into a pest instead of a resource.

  1. Social Media

While over half of journalists believe social media has helped their productivity, only 22 percent of journalists currently turn to social media to receive pitches.

Avoid public pitches and respect Twitter direct messages, LinkedIn InMails and Facebook messages. Personalize your pitch and always offer to move the conversation to another medium.

Our basic rule of thumb? Email pitches should be short; social media pitches should be even shorter.

  1. Press Releases

Journalists turn to newswires to beef up their stories with data or new industry information. Many even source stories from press releases.

To make the most of a press release, think back to the inverted triangle formula and start with your key takeaway. Give reporters the details they’re looking for at the beginning, then build out the more general information later.

Include links to more in-depth information on your brand’s digital newsroom and always remember to include contact information.


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