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#1 of 24 Old 05-02-2007, 06:20 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I have been working on this website/business for about two years and I have only recieved three orders from the website. I am ready to give up on it. Before I do, I would like some input from you wonderful WAHMs. If it would be profitable, I would love to keep it.

http://www.dogtreatcafe.com/

TIA
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#2 of 24 Old 05-02-2007, 06:26 PM
 
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The page your link took me to was halfway covered in google adwords, so I couldn't read the whole thing and wouldn't be able to submit an order. I use firefox if it matters.

Then, once I clicked away, using the links to other pages, I couldn't figure out how to get back to the order page.

I would play up the all natural, no preservatives part.

Great idea, some people spend tons of money on their pets and I really think a homemade natural dog treat would sell well to the right people. I think the store name is really cute too.
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#3 of 24 Old 05-02-2007, 09:03 PM
 
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It looks like you have a nice basis for a website -- other than the browser compatibility issues that have already been mentioned.

The first thing I recommend you do is figure out who you're target market is.

Find out what they want and where they hang out online. You can research using Google to find forums and websites where your market gathers. Then network online to get to know people -- and allow them to get to know, like and trust you.

You also need to add relevant content to your website. People search the internet for information. So, if someone is searching for natural pet foods, you want them to find you. Also, why do people search for natural pet food? Perhaps their pet is sensitive to ingredients is commercial foods? Then you need articles that contain information those people are looking for. This is for both search engine optimization -- and for back links.

Because one of the most important things you can do for your website is create content that other people will link to. For example, you write an article about food sensitivities in dogs. Someone from here clicks the link in your sig, reads the article and thinks, "Wow! This is awesome information!" So she goes to her weblog and posts the article, then her readers find the article, read it and post to their weblogs. You see what happens...

You can also try article marketing and blogging to increase the content on your website.

This, of course, is just to increase your site's footprint on the web, and to give it stickiness. On the home page, you need to give your visitors a defined path to choose from. If the visitor is looking for information, it needs to be obvious where they need to go. If the visitor is wanting to buy your products, then they need to have an obvious path.

Also, at this point, I would recommend you remove the Adwords from the pages where you are selling your products.

And I also recommend you improve your product descriptions and write sales text that talks about the benefits of your products and why I should buy your product, instead of Wal-mart's or Jane Doe's natural pet food.

I just took a few minutes to look at a couple of pages, so I hope that helped.

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#4 of 24 Old 05-02-2007, 09:38 PM
 
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I second the recommendation for a blog. If you discuss natural pet food/care on a blog and perhaps use an RSS feed to bring in articles, that would be cool. Are you advertising anywhere? I love your logo!

I hope I am not stepping on any toes by saying this, but perhaps you shouldn't have dog treat recipes on your page. You are trying to sell treats so why give someone else a recipe to make them? Just my opinion though.

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#5 of 24 Old 05-02-2007, 11:00 PM
 
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Also, with a blog, or "RSS-enabled website" you can submit your site to blog search engines. Instead of waiting a month to get indexed in a search engine, your content is indexed within minutes.

Additionally, other website owners can subscribe to your content and publish it, with links back to your site, on theirs.

And also, your website visitors can subscribe to your RSS feed in their readers, which notify them whenever you add new content.

This is almost as good as having a mailing list on your site.

You do have a mailing list that your site visitors can sign up for, right?

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#6 of 24 Old 05-03-2007, 12:03 AM
 
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The logo is cute, and the product is great. I know about a half dozen people off the top of my head that spend tons on specialized treats for their pets.

The google adwords thing is an issue for sure. Its confusing (especially because it matches the text and coloring of the website so much) to figure out whats an ad and whats your website. Its very easy to get led off page. The site lacks flow too. Maybe a java menu or something, thats the same for every page so you can easily navigate from one spot to the next.

I am not sure where you live, but I was in California recently and there were a ton of people with little dogs in the area (Palm Springs) and it would have been a great marketing tool to hit one of their street fairs. Maybe you could find something where you are? Or maybe hand out some free treats (wrapped in celophane w/ your web logo of course) at local dog shows or dog parks etc.

Personally, my dog is extremely picky about pretty much everything, so I am always hesitant to buy him anything "new".
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#7 of 24 Old 05-03-2007, 01:37 AM
 
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Wow - your logo is fabulous. I think the website can use a redesign. I know someone great if you are interested in getting a specific critique. I can't even imagine why you have only gotten three sales in, what, two years? I really do see it as having a lot of potential - I wouldn't give up on it yet. My neighbor back in San Diego baked goods for animals and did *really* well.
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#8 of 24 Old 05-03-2007, 04:47 PM
 
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I think for such an inexpensive product, I'd be put off by the shipping cost, actually. I wouldn't need to buy enough to get free shipping, and then it just seems crazy to pay $5 shipping for a $6.50 bag of treats. I'd actually make the shipping included in the cost of the products, because psychologically I think people don't like to pay much for shipping. Even doing a $10-11 bag of treats and $2-3 shipping maybe?

I also think giving recipes for the product you're selling is not a good idea. I would put all the information about natural flea and tick stuff, under something like "advice." Otherwise I thought you'd be selling products for that, not just giving info.

Lastly, you need good advertising and something to attract loyal customers who will buy again and again. Have you done any fairs/natural living festivals or the like to get your name out there? Give out some free samples and get people started. I think with any food product, repeat sales are really the key!

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#9 of 24 Old 05-03-2007, 10:06 PM
 
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http://www.dogtreatcafe.com/ContactUs.html
the font is teeny-tiny next to the boxes

the tab named "shipping" actually contains shipping AND payment info which would make it hard for a person to find payment info.

I agree your shipping charges are high and ought to be rebuilt into the price.

your mail order form has no design, no logo, just not a professional image.

Content is good, but I don't think people who came to you searching for so-it-yourself dog treats are your target market (people who don't mind paying for YOU to make the treats!)

the item page has practically no description- no ingrediants, only the one small photo, and all the good info about no sugar, no preservatives is hidden away on "about us" instead of there with the product!


good luck!

Berkeley mom of 3 and President of Tender Cargo Baby Gear
and The Nurture Center Store and Resource Center 3399 Mt Diablo Bl Lafayette CA 888-998-BABY
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#10 of 24 Old 05-04-2007, 04:47 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you so much for all the great advice!

I started two years ago knowing nothing about ecommerce and built the website myself. Then this last year I didn't work on it hardly at all. I think I really need a professional redesign.

I took the adsense off and only put it on to help pay for hosting because I wasn't getting any orders. I also put recipes on there, because it looked like a lot of people search for dog treat recipes.

Writing articles, blogging, emailing are not a skill of mine. I have always been terrible at this kind of thing. I would like to just get orders and fill them. Should I forget having an ecommerce website?

I don't have a mailing list, except for the ones I collected at craft shows and from the few people who ordered from my website. I didn't like the free ones I tried and couldn't justify the expense yet.

Wish I could do actual shipping charges based on weight and zip code, but I don't think paypal will let me. Was going to get a merchant accout, but not getting any orders so I never have. Is paypal ok to use or would you all recommend a different shopping cart?

I think if I would start getting orders, I would be more motivated. I think I should start with a redesign first, do you agree?
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#11 of 24 Old 05-04-2007, 09:22 AM
 
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I wanna do your markenting, lol. No, just kidding. But I do think you have a very good idea and for sure could get lots of orders.

Do you think you could raise the price of the treats and then offer 'free shipping'?

Is there a way (I'm sure the girls here know how) to get your site pulled up on Google if I search Dog Treat Recipe or Homemade Dog Treat or Natural Dog Treat? If you have some info on your page about 'homemade natural dog treats made from my special recipe' or something like that?

I think that if I was searching for a natural dog treat recipe and came up on your site and it was only $5-10 to order a bag of treats that *you* made, I'd just go ahead and order them. And I'm normally very cheap!

Cara
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#12 of 24 Old 05-04-2007, 11:57 AM
 
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In order of importance, I would definitely say do the redesign first. (I do agree with the shipping thing though too... I usually buy from places that offer free shipping before anywhere else).

Marketing is really important, but its hard to know if people were seeing your site and then put off by the way it was set up, or not seeing it at all. Best to get a good presentation together and THEN ramp up marketing.

I cant say enough how great an idea your product is. With the right professional-looking marketing approach I think you'd do incredible.
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#13 of 24 Old 05-04-2007, 11:59 AM
 
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I agree about a redesign. I think, if you put work into this, it may work out for you. But as you say you've not done anything to it in a long time, so no wonder it's not thriving! So don't give up without giving it a real chance to suceed, assuming you're up for that

It's not that your shipping needs to be actual, it's just that it nearly doubles the cost of te order. If I say "oh cool, $6 for dog treats!" I don't want to get to a chekcout screen asking me for $11. But if they were $9 treats and $2 shipping for the same 11, I'd be expecting that price point and I'd not abandon my cart.

Adsense has no business on a retail site. What you could do, if you were into articles or blogging, is an adsense blog that just happens to sell a single product on the side. But that business model is only for if you can write well, and lots. If you just want to sell, you don't need the articles and adsense isn't going to do well for you anyway, it'll just push away your customers. (though that won't excuse you from writing good descriptions for the search engines and customers)

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and The Nurture Center Store and Resource Center 3399 Mt Diablo Bl Lafayette CA 888-998-BABY
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#14 of 24 Old 05-04-2007, 02:24 PM
 
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Love the logo, super cute. In comparison to that I think your site is too stark. Too much blank white space. You need to untilize your white space to work for you, or get rid of it. Too much white space can put off your customers just as fast as too little. There is a fine balance. It doesn't allow them to focus in on your content and they are left randomly browsing.

Create a path you want them to follow and design for that.

Create more content. Blogs are awesome for this! It creates content for others to link to and more content for search engines to snag.

Mom to Joscelyne 14, Andrew 12, and Mackenzie 10 and wife to Nate.
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#15 of 24 Old 05-06-2007, 12:25 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by trotter View Post
I also put recipes on there, because it looked like a lot of people search for dog treat recipes.

Writing articles, blogging, emailing are not a skill of mine. I have always been terrible at this kind of thing. I would like to just get orders and fill them. Should I forget having an ecommerce website?

I don't have a mailing list, except for the ones I collected at craft shows and from the few people who ordered from my website. I didn't like the free ones I tried and couldn't justify the expense yet.

Wish I could do actual shipping charges based on weight and zip code, but I don't think paypal will let me. Was going to get a merchant accout, but not getting any orders so I never have. Is paypal ok to use or would you all recommend a different shopping cart?
I agree that you should not put recipes for your products on the site, unless you've chosen a specific recipe to give away in exchange for signing up on your mailing list.

Don't think of what you pay for a mailing list as an expense. It's an investment in your business. Without that list, how are you going to keep in touch with the people who have purchased from, or who are interested in what you have, but aren't ready to purchase yet? Your mailing list is a tool that you use to reach out and remind your visitors that you exist and to invite them back to your site, give them a reason to return. An alternative to this is to install a weblog with an RSS feed that people can subscribe to. I recommend both, because you're going to have people who are overloaded by email that don't want to join mailing lists -- and people who have never heard of RSS and wouldn't know what to do with an RSS feed if it bit them.

You don't have to write all your articles yourself. You can hire ghostwriters to do this, you can purchase Private Label Rights articles or use free reprint articles. And if you want, there are courses out there that can teach you how to write articles, if you want to learn.

I agree with the general consensus that you should build your shipping charges into your product pricing. But if you choose not to, Mals shopping cart offers real-time shipping calculators in their premium version.



Quote:
Originally Posted by Jenlaana View Post
Marketing is really important, but its hard to know if people were seeing your site and then put off by the way it was set up, or not seeing it at all. Best to get a good presentation together and THEN ramp up marketing.
I agree that finding out what your target market is thinking is hard. I recommend that you find out who your target market is and where they are, then ask them -- much like you've done here. You can also put an exit popup on your website, asking people why they have left the website. (I know, you hate popups. This wouldn't be a permanent fixture -- just a temporary tool to find out what people are thinking.)

Quote:
Originally Posted by cchrissyy View Post
Adsense has no business on a retail site. What you could do, if you were into articles or blogging, is an adsense blog that just happens to sell a single product on the side. But that business model is only for if you can write well, and lots. If you just want to sell, you don't need the articles and adsense isn't going to do well for you anyway, it'll just push away your customers. (though that won't excuse you from writing good descriptions for the search engines and customers)

I don't agree that that adsense has no business on a retail site. I do agree that you wouldn't want to put it on the pages where you are selling your products. Adsense would go well on a blog section of the site. You don't have to be a traditionally good writer. You have to reach out and touch your target market with your writing and you have to write about stuff that makes their lives better within the context of your niche.

The articles and blog are not on your site for the purpose of selling. People use the Internet primarily to search for information. People are searching for information related to your industry, and you want to give it to them. This will generate traffic (via search engines and your readers posting links to your great content) and repeat visitors. People who return to your site for great information, that shows you are an expert in your field, or who arrive on your site on the recommendation of a friend, are more likely to buy your product than someone who has never been to your site.

There are four stages to the buying process. You can reach out to people in all phases of the buying process, not just the stage where they are ready to buy. (And chances are, if people in the buying stage haven't heard about you in one of the other stages, they aren't going to buy from you.)

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#16 of 24 Old 05-06-2007, 01:52 AM
 
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For a free mailing list software that's pretty easy to use and customize, check out phplist. It's included in the Fantastico scripts that come with many webhosting packages, or you can download it here:
http://www.phplist.com/

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#17 of 24 Old 05-06-2007, 02:22 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rubelin View Post
For a free mailing list software that's pretty easy to use and customize, check out phplist. It's included in the Fantastico scripts that come with many webhosting packages, or you can download it here:
http://www.phplist.com/
PHPlist is a great option if you're wanting to customize the system yourself and if you've got a small list.

However, if you want someone else managing the software for you and proactively working to prevent your domain name from being blacklisted (and ensuring that your IP isn't blacklisted, since the list isn't on your server) I recommend you use a third party service such as Email Aces and Aweber. These services also include sequential autoresponders, which allow you to pre-populate the mailing list, so that new subscribers receive each email in order, from the time they sign up, at the intervals you set. You can also send out broadcast emails at specific times you set, for timely announcements.

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#18 of 24 Old 05-06-2007, 01:52 PM
 
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as a dog owner and lover, IMHO i wouldn't ever buy dog treats online. they are just so easy to get at local stores. So I would buy your product from a store. Ever try to sell locally?
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#19 of 24 Old 05-08-2007, 07:13 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks again for all the replies!

I am working on getting it redesigned professionally and I think I will work on getting a newsletter sign up and marketing, also.

Cara, I would love to have someone do my marketing! That would make it so much easier for me.

Arts Therapist - I have sold locally at craft shows. They don't get a whole lot of traffic, but I do sell out usually and also hand out a lot of free samples. I am also thinking about trying to sell in local stores, grooming shops and vet clinics, but I haven't asked any places yet. I live in the country and not close to any large towns, so I would really like to get more orders off the website.

I also changed the prices to include shipping. If you want to check them out again. I will update again when the site is redone and see what you guys think.

http://www.dogtreatcafe.com

ETA: Night Owl - thanks for all the advice, I tried email aces I think, but didn't like it. I think I will try aweber next.
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#20 of 24 Old 05-09-2007, 01:28 AM
 
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the main item page needs to prominintly say there is free shipping. I added it to my cart in an attempt to find out the shipping charge. Had I been a real shopper, I'd have assumed the cost was actually going to be 10 plus somehitng, and maybe been scared away when I'd have happily bought at 10.

(the next-day shipping should be on that main time page too. don't make them work too hard to hear your positive fetaures!)

I know it's in your shipping tab. But most people won't click it- Especially with how tiny it is!

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#21 of 24 Old 05-10-2007, 04:26 PM
 
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I just pulled the page up and Microsoft warned me that this webpage may be a phishing webpage. You may want to investigate that -- the best product with the best webpage might not get many buyers with that warning!
My browser is Internet Explorer.
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#22 of 24 Old 10-28-2007, 02:16 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Well, I had my website redone and a cart installed. I am thinking about trying to sell my logo/domain name though. I am just not a sales/marketing person. I can't get motivated to work on this.

Does anyone know how to sell a domain name/logo? Any ideas would be appreciated. Would it be worth it to try and sell it or should I just shut it down?

www.dogtreatcafe.com

TIA!
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#23 of 24 Old 10-28-2007, 02:48 PM
 
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FWIW - Opera browser shows no ads from google at all. I like the layout, the design and the suggestions by other pp I will second.

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#24 of 24 Old 10-29-2007, 12:28 PM
 
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It looks good! Have you thought about doing Etsy? It makes a nice addition to a regular site. Also, I agree about the blogs. Bloggers link to each other and promote each other a ton.

I would wonder about your tags if your site isn't showing up well on Google, ets.
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