I originally wrote this article for the eCommerceBytes Newsletter.
Promoting auctions and fixed price stores in the highly competitive antiques and collectibles industry can be a daunting task. We all want to do more of what works and less of what doesn't - the key is being able to tell the difference. Fortunately, the Internet gives us the ability to test and measure the results of our promotion efforts. However, we have to use the tools at our disposal. Are you using them effectively?
If you own your own Web site, become familiar with your server logs. This is information you can get from your Web site host about your visitors. Hit counters are fine, but they don't tell the whole story. By examining your logs you can determine not only which pages customers visited, but also which link they used to find your site, where they were when they left, what browser they used, etc. If your host doesn't provide adequate information, you can get software that analyzes your traffic.
You can track your links with a simple trick. After the address, add a question mark and some kind of tracking code, like this... http://www.auctionbytes.com?test . The code won't effect the address - it will take you to http://www.auctionbytes.com - but when Ina and David look at their server logs, they will know how many of you clicked on this specific link.
After you have devised a method of tracking your results, you can experiment with every aspect of your selling process. Here are a few ideas...
Testing different aspects of your selling process is a never-ending task. New promotional opportunities are being developed all the time. Try them, but always find a way to measure the results. Even if you don't have a Web site, there are still many ways you can measure the effectiveness of your efforts.
Once you develop a technique that works for you, maximize it. It's not easy to find something that works on the Web, so go with a winner when you find it. But never stop testing. What works today may not work tomorrow.