Internet Marketing is Still Marketing: FS4 Sports Reviewed
Ian Lurie Apr 2 2008
Yup, after a long hiatus, I’m reviewing sites again. Sorry for the layoff.
First up is FS4Sports.com. FS4 comes across as a pretty standard e-commerce site: Cart, products, buy stuff please:
The Problem: Internet Marketing Still Requires Marketing
I see this a lot. Folks focus on the mechanics – the web site, the cart, the search engines – and ignore the fact that it’s still marketing.
A Google search for ‘sporting goods’ shows 96 million competing pages. They all look pretty much the same. They all offer things like free shipping. They all have sales going on.
That’s where the marketing must come in: You have to tell me why I should purchase from For Sports. Seth Godin says it best in All Marketers Are Liars. You need to tell a story.
Right now your story is ‘we have sporting goods’. That’s probably not going to cut it. So, a few ideas for setting yourself apart:
- Do you specialize in stuff for schools? For teams? If so, communicate that, clearly, on every page of your site.
- Are you family-owned? Are all your employees hockey players, baseball players, etc.? If you have a special passion for this, make it part of the story.
- What makes you the best dang team outfitter in North America? Don’t be humble. Something makes you want to be in this business. What is it, and why would your customers care?
- Your customers need your products. Why would they want them? On the home page I recommend better product shots, preferably with the products in use. If it’s your own employees, so much the better.
- Finally, you’re going to need to have a professional design your home page. In most cases I don’t insist, but you’re in a commodity industry and you need to inspire confidence and enthusiasm the second folks land on your site. The current design is simple, which I like a lot, but it doesn’t quite have the air of ‘the real deal’.
You get the idea: This is about feelings, not about lowest prices or some such.
The Nitty Gritty: Navigation
At the top of the page, you have 2 rows of navigation. That’s a bit confusing.
So, take ‘cart’, ‘checkout’ and ‘my account’ and put them in a vertical list at the upper-right-hand corner of the page. That’ll separate them from the regular navigation.
Then take the other links and put all except the e-mail signup link in the footer.
Change the e-mail signup link into a form, and let folks sign up for your e-mail list from every page of your site. That list is pure gold – build it!
Getting Found: Search Engine Optimization
Right now, most links on your site include this in the URL:
Blech. Definitely get rid of that, as soon as possible. I can’t prove it, but I’m willing to bet that the -strse- stuff is affecting search engines’ ability to categorize your content.
On product pages, make the product names level 1 headings (<h1>) instead of level 2. They’re the focus of the page. Make sure spiders know that, too.
Finally, get rid of the redirect from www.fs4sports.com to www.fs4sports.com/servlet/StoreFront. If I click a link to your home page, I should always land on www.fs4sports.com. That’ll improve link equity because folks will link to you using the same URL.
But Marketing Matters
I’d say focus on the story – the message – first. Bringing more people to your site won’t necessarily get you the results you need until you do that.
Hope this helps!
Ian Lurie is CEO and founder of Portent Inc. He's recorded training for Lynda.com, writes regularly for the Portent Blog and has been published on AllThingsD, Forbes.com and TechCrunch. Ian speaks at conferences around the world, including SearchLove, MozCon, SIC and ad:Tech. Follow him on Twitter at portentint. He also just published a book about strategy for services businesses: One Trick Ponies Get Shot, available on Kindle. Read More