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Merchant News from TIAS.com for March 13, 2007

Merchant News from TIAS.com for March 13, 2007

In this issue
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1. New Home page feature in your store
2. Marketing tips for your TIAS store
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1) New home page feature in your store
You may have noticed that all of the text at the top of your home page has been condensed into a link. When you click on the link it will expand into the text that was there previously. This new feature keeps the categories from appearing "below the fold" so that customers can see them immediately when the page loads. It also still gives you the benefit of including text and keywords on your home page to help with your search engine placement.

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2) Marketing tips for your TIAS store

Here is a list of marketing ideas to help you promote your TIAS Web store. They are in no particular order. Pick and choose what you think will work for you. Many of these ideas are free.
Some require some time and money to implement.

1. On the TIAS home page we have a "press release" publishing system. It allows you to publish sales and other special events at your TIAS store on the TIAS home page twice each week. This drives traffic from the TIAS home page to your store and also gives you a link from the TIAS home page that might help increase your page rank with search engines like Google.

2. MSN, Yahoo, Google and AdBrite all offer Cost Per Click (CPC) advertising programs. What this means is that each time someone clicks on your ad on their ad network, money is deducted from your advertising account with their company. We've experimented with these programs quite a bit over the years and they don't work for our mall because we have to use general terms for the broad categories of merchandise that we sell. These general terms don't convert to sales.

However, if you specialize in a specific category of merchandise, you might want to try running ads for very specific terms related to your merchandise. Some of our merchants have mentioned that they have better sales conversion from cpc ads that are very specific, to the point of almost advertising an item in their store. Buying broad terms like "Antiques" is a waste of money, but something like " Allertons Blue Willow Cup and Saucer" might generate some sales.

3. Are you an expert in regard to what you sell on your Web site? Then write about what you know and post it online with links back to your store. This could be in the form of a Wikipedia article, Blog, or press releases about your special topic.
a) Wikipedia is located at http://www.wikipedia.org . Marketing hype is completely unacceptable on this site, but you can use your article to link to examples on your Web site. In general Wikipedia articles seem to get great placement in the search engines.
b) There are lots of blogging sites. One of the most popular is http://www.blogger.com/start . Start a blog about a topic related to your Web site.
c) For press releases there are a large number of free press release distribution sites. A site that specializes in the antiques and collectibles trade is http://www.News-Antique.com . Other sites include:
http://www.freepressreleases.co.uk/
http://www.press-base.com/add-press.html
http://www.express-press-release.com/
http://www.fpsnewswire.com/freepost.asp
http://epressreleases.org/postpr.htm
http://openpr.com/news/about.html
http://www.pressbox.co.uk/cgi-bin/links/add.cgi
http://www.przoom.com/index.php
http://www.usprwire.com/
http://www.clickpress.com/
http://www.mediasyndicate.com/user.php
http://www.theopenpress.com/
http://www.arrivenet.com/
http://www.prleap.com/
http://24-7pressrelease.com/
http://i-newswire.com/
http://www.press-world.com/
Just use the free press release distribution at these services. You can give the same press releases to each one as well, which will save you a great deal of time. Remember to keep the press release in an editorial style that is interesting to read. Don't fill it with marketing hype like you are trying to sell the reader something, it won't get read. These press releases do get picked up by other Web sites as well as Google news. They have a long term benefit of pushing up your Page Rank in the search engines.

An additional advantage of these non commercial articles is that you can post links to them on sites like the eBay forums and other commercial sites that would not usually allow you to post commercial copy online. Lets say you do an article on McCoy pottery that contains links to several examples on your Web site. You could probably post a link to that article on the eBay glass and pottery board without a problem.

4. We do sell display ads on the TIAS home page as well as the showcase section if you are looking for additional traffic. Several TIAS merchants have taken advantage of this feature over the past few years.

5. Publish your own newsletter. TIAS has a very advanced email newsletter mailing system. Many of our merchants collect names of customers from their Web sites and send these opt in customers a weekly or monthly newsletter of information related to the merchandise they sell on their Web site.

6. Link exchanges do work, but you have to spend the time finding good prospects to exchange with. I also find that calling people or mailing them a letter rather than sending them an email request for an exchange is much more effective. When looking for link exchange prospects, use keywords searches on google, MSN and Yahoo! that pertain to your Web site. You'll probably have more luck with sites that are non commercial than sites that compete directly with you.

7. Keep your inventory fresh. If you want people to return to your site, add fresh inventory and keep your older inventory new by lowering prices, adding new photos and updating descriptions. The most common complaint we get from customers over the past 12 years has been that items that have been sold are still listed on the Web site. As soon as you sell an item, PLEASE remove it from your inventory as soon as you possibly can. When customers feel that your inventory is constantly being refreshed and up to date, they will keep coming back to check on the latest items you are offering. If you don't refresh your site, there is no reason for them to come back.

8. Good photographs and good descriptions. Your photos need to be in focus, well lit and the object in the photo needs to fill the entire frame. More help on taking photos can be viewed here http://www.tias.com/other/promo4.html and here http://www.tias.com/other/promo5.html .

Your descriptions need to be complete and well written. For more information on writing descriptions, go to http://www.tias.com/other/promo3.html
Most buyers finds your merchandise based on your description. The more detail you give, the better your chances are of finding the right buyer.

9. Craigs list. Several sellers have been using this venue to help drive sales to their Web site. You need to be very careful about how you promote your site using Craig's list or you might end up getting your listing removed. Pick a few major cities to list representative samples of your inventory, then use those listing to drive traffic back to your Web site.

10. When you post to boards and forums, use a signature file that gives info about your Web site or links back to your Web site.

11. If you have sold, are selling or are about to sell an unusual item, let the media know. The antique and collectible trade publications love this stuff, but the business section of your local paper is probably going to be interested as well. The only way they are going to find out about it though is if you tell them. In addition to contacting them directly, don't forget to publish a press release as well. See #3.

12. eBay as a marketing tool. If you sell on eBay, don't forget to have an "About Me" page. You can place prominent links from your auctions to your "About Me" page on eBay. From your "About me" page you can have links that point back to your TIAS store. Many sellers use eBay as not just a way to sell items, but as a way to drive traffic from eBay to their other online sales venues. I know some sellers who take a loss on their eBay sales just because they use their listings to drive traffic to their Web site.

13. TIAS classified. TIAS does have a classified ad section. Premium classifieds run in our newsletter which goes out twice a week to 222,000 subscribers. This is a great way to promote your site to new buyers as well as a way to get new inventory. I know of several dealers who have been quite successful finding fresh inventory this way. Go to http://www.tias.com/classifieds for more information.

14. Share your marketing ideas with us and we'll share them with everyone at TIAS. The success of the TIAS mall is based on the success of each dealer. Tell us what works for you and we'll spread the word. Send your marketing suggestions to phil@tias.com and I'll include them in the next merchant newsletter.

Questions? Comments? write to us at support@tias.com



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