I ran an online advertising agency and I wanted to create a new sales tool. The tool was to be a case study ecommerce business that we could share the results with prospective clients without the need to divulge current client information. My plan was this; create an ecommerce business from scratch using available online data and calculated metrics to determine the vertical, name, and style of the store. Over the next few posts I’ll be detailing step-by-step how I did this. Online marketing continues to be fun and exciting to me and I really love to share the knowledge I’ve gained and tools I’ve discovered over the years.
Finding the right niche
This would be my first experience selling online. I didn’t have a product so I needed to find one. Since I was starting from scratch, I had the luxury of using keyword research tool, wordtracker, to run in depth keyword searches. This gave me instant insight into the market size, competition, range of products and advertising costs. Let’s take a look at how keyword research tools can provide a high level glance at all of this critical data.
Now, I could have spent months running keyword research without direction, so I did pick an industry and started brainstorming potential verticals. Once I had a list of verticals I moved onto worktracker.
Starting with the first vertical I typed in a keyword that I thought would be popular. For instance, if I were interested in selling video games, I might type Wii. Wordtracker will then return the following:
- Your keyword/phrase
- Any relevant keywords/phrases
- # of searches per month
One by one you can add these keywords to your “shopping cart” on wordtracker until you have all the keywords that make sense for the vertical. An important key to keyword research is “RELEVANCY”. If a potential buying customer wouldn’t likely use the term when searching for a product, it’s NOT a keeper. Now that you have your list of words, you can use wordtracker to determine how many competitors are listed for these terms as well avg. cost per click if you were to use PPC. (BTW, you can do most of these functions using the free keyword tools from Google.)
Now gather this data by vertical into a spreadsheet that looks like this one on the left. Market size is # of relevant keywords. For comparison’s sake, I ran the top 50 keywords from each vertical to create my spreadsheet. Also consider adding additional data points such as avg. cost of products, which you could start to understand after spending a little time surfing the web and # of competitors ranking in google, yahoo, etc.
Once the research is done and you have entered the information into your spreadsheet you can create a chart if you like to visualize the data. (see my example)
Now that I have this great information I can make an informed decision about my ability to compete in these verticals as well as an understanding of the time and financial commitment it would take to gain marketshare.
Every person’s goals are unique. Because I was looking to develop a case study that I could use quickly, I was looking for two things:
1. Niche industry that I could gain search rankings in quickly and without too much effort.
2. Low PPC cost which would allow me to make immediate sales while waiting for my site to be indexed and ranked.
With that in mind, I selected Vertical 1 to begin with.
So now what?
Find your product…
In my case, I found a wholesale company in the vertical that was willing to drop ship products for me. They had a very large selection of products and carried many of the brand names I knew potential customers were looking for. (Thanks to my keyword research, I knew what the big sellers would likely be)
There are other options out there with a lower barrier to entry and this includes affiliate marketing… we’ll cover that in another post.
For now, I encourage anyone interested in starting an online business to start keyword research today. It’s fun and easy and can help guide your decision making.
I make no guarantees, this information is simply offered as a story of what was successful for me.
Part 2 coming soon…