When we opened, I had literally never sold anything online before. Why I thought that running an online business would work, is beyond me.

Hubris I guess.

Here are 4 things that I wish I knew about online marketing 10 years ago when we first opened.

SEO Is Best Handled Internally

We wrote checks. We interviewed. We talked on the phone. We asked for referrals. We spent an inordinate amount of time checking the progress of our SEO companies. We asked for deliverables. Yet, we were still scammed out of thousands of dollars by fake SEO companies that didn’t do anything other than simply posting links on personal blog networks. Oh sure, we saw some results….mostly a Google penalty. Then we took some shortcuts ourselves. The same results followed. While there are any number of good guides to SEO for small business owners, I was hopeful that my process would be quicker and more efficient than others.

Again, hubris I guess.

If I could go back, the process would be pretty simple. Forget Google exists. Write great content on our site. Write great content on other sites. Let the chips fall where they may so to speak.

Handle it in house because marketing companies, SEO companies and freelancers can’t write about small business, can’t write nearly well enough about wine to trick anyone and can’t nearly care as much as we do.

Conversion Rates Exist

If you’re opening an ecommerce store and don’t know what a conversion rate is, or how to increase a conversion rate through both templates as well as A/B testing…..start reading now.

When we first opened, our conversion rate was about ¼ of 1%. The ecommerce average is something around 2%, or more depending on device and some other factors. That means for every sale we made, if we had an average conversion rate we would have made 7 more.

To say that would have been a life altering experience, would be to put it lightly.

Social Media: Sales Are Hard to Find

At some point a winery told me that they focused on social media, as they stood in their well-funded tasting room with a view of San Francisco.

At that point I realized something. People talk an awful lot about social media and how it leads to sales, but there isn’t all that much evidence for it.

At least not in my industry. Sure, that winery has a rather large following on social media, but in the chicken vs egg debate, I’m sure that their well-funded tasting room has more to do their following than the inverse. I wish I knew that I needed to handle social media for social proof, but little else. It would have kept my hopes in line with reality.

Evidently though, I’m not the only small business owner struggling to gain customers via social media. That’s actually a pretty important point, this is a hard nut to crack so to speak.

Video is the Present & the Future

I could share literally any number of stories about how creating video has become easier over time. After all, my Google Pixel that’s in my pocket right now takes better video than did Hollywood production companies only a generation ago.

We missed this completely.

When we opened, I was obsessed with blogging. I tried short blogs. I tried longer blogs. I tried truly epic content. What I didn’t realize is that people were tired (already) of reading about it. They wanted to see it.

Think about some of this. What’s better, describing the process of grafting over vines from one variety to another, or showing it?

From my perspective, taking the video is a heck of a lot easier as well. I have to be in the vineyard, or with the winemaker to start either way. But instead of then having to take an entire second workday to create a compelling blog entry, it takes me about an hour to put together a high quality blog post.

If you’re at all interested in content marketing, doing video and doing it well is essential now and into the future.

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