Project Prioritization – eCommerce
Project prioritization is overwhelming when building a new eCommerce business.
Sometimes it’s best not to overthink things, and:
“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” – Laozi
I’ll show you how to prioritize your projects online in this guide.
One of the hardest parts about starting a new eCommerce business or expanding one’s efforts to the online world is that it’s tough to know where to begin.
Project prioritization is a major hurdle standing between business owners and their goals.
Just like dealing with a government agency, there can seem to be limitless forms, steps, and bureaucratic minutiae to get through to get the simplest of things done.
Often, the fear of “doing things wrong” or to a lesser extent, “doing things in the wrong order” is crippling to new business owners struggling with project prioritization.
As you can imagine, clients hire me because they want someone who’s been there before.
There’s an old adage about learning programming that you achieve independence only when error messages come up and they don’t make you panic any more.
I remember when I first got the “white screen of death” on my WordPress site, many years ago, and being absolutely terrified that everything was over forever. The more experience we gain, the fewer things there are that surprise us. That’s why you hire an attorney or an accountant, and that’s why you trust your doctor.
It’s not that he/she is necessarily *smarter* than you are, it’s just that they’ve experienced more and have a valuable frame of reference that you don’t have. To you, it’s the first time you’ve had a stomach-ache for 10 days straight, to the doctor, it’s a common seasonal problem that will probably go away on its own.
Problem #1: 90% of clients don’t know where to begin.
Problem #2: 90% of clients think they *have* to know what to do next, even when they’re hiring me.
It may seem obvious to those with experience, but one of the number one problems with building websites, brands, and marketing online companies in general is that they don’t know how to tackle a large project and turn it into manageable chunks.
In the internet age, we have access to leading thoughts from the smartest people in the world 24/7. The amount of information can be crippling, and we often get paralyzed trying to integrate solutions to problems we don’t even have, before we have them.
Even though in theory setting up an eCommerce store shouldn’t take a terribly long time to complete, the reality is that many business owners miss deadline after deadline because they are afraid of missing their one shot to get their website right.
The trouble is, you can’t predict what’s going to work before you start.
Any marketer worth his/her salt believes in data-driven decisions. Internet businesses have been built upon this foundation for decades now.
Data is valuable. Google knows it, Facebook knows it, and increasingly, the whole world will know it.
Data has largely obviated the need for human opinions and for guesswork.
In SEO, we can guess which posts will perform best, or we can measure and see the data over time. Guesses are often (usually?) wrong.
So what’s the moral here?
The moral here is: don’t get ahead of yourself, and you can’t make data-driven decisions without data!
That means that you *can’t* predict how the world at large will interact with your company, your products, and your services.
As part of our competitive analysis and complete SEO overhaul, we can determine probable weak areas to target for the most rewarding SEO. We can conceptualize potential areas for defeating the hypothetical chess opponent that is your competitor. We can use existing data – like the many sophisticated SEO tools and analytics software available – to make informed guesses.
But they’re still just guesses.
In reality, you can’t know what will really work for your business until you get out there and operate it.
That’s why SEO and digital marketing isn’t just a “set it and forget it thing” like the Showtime Grill.
First the good news.
We’ve been there before.
We’ve launched brands before. We’ve witnessed problems before. We’ve wasted tons of time on stupid stuff. We’ve made loads of mistakes on just about everything you can imagine.
That means you don’t need to reinvent the wheel for your project anymore than a doctor needs to reinvent a stethoscope for every single patient.
Generally speaking, every human being has a similar heart in the same place. Every online business is more or less the same at a fundamental level. We know that, but can you look objectively at your precious baby that you care so much about?
Now the bad news.
We live in a world in which anyone who picks up an SEO article feels that he/she is as skilled as someone who’s been doing it professionally for years.
Somewhere, someone picked up a “hack” that says that baby-blue buttons convert better than red ones! So our site MUST have baby-blue buttons!
WRONG WRONG WRONG WRONG! Wrong.
Project prioritization is about focusing on the actions that will have the biggest impact first, saving ALL details for later.
In the grand scheme of things, having the right color buttons may make a 1% difference in sales. To amazon.com, that difference is HUGE. That’s why Amazon needs to spend every waking moment trying to find the next incremental improvement.
But for you? Well, having an eCommerce store set up is 95% of the battle, and if button color choice prevents you from doing the 95% most important thing, your project priorities are all wrong.
I LOVE details. But details come later. They come after all the big stuff is done.
You’ll know when it’s time to focus on those little things, but the answer is it’s not important in the beginning.
Image from Optimizely.
A/B testing won’t realistically help you for a long time.
If you’re just getting started, it could be months or even years before you’re ready to A/B test UI elements. The reality is, there are almost certainly much more important things for you to be focusing on.
To start a new project is a leap of faith.
When you hire me, you’ll have to trust that I can generate sales for you based on my history. You’ll have to believe that because I’ve ranked thousands of keywords on page 1 of Google, that I can help you with that as well. You have to trust me, or whichever expert you hire.
Let your accountant be your accountant. Let your lawyer be your lawyer. And let your marketing company be your marketing company.
I’ve seen too many projects get stalled because the owner wanted something to be perfect, when that’s not what the internet revolution is all about.
The data-driven revolution is about creating an MVP, then testing, logging, and enhancing, in that order. Stressing too much about the end result at the beginning of a project usually stalls the project altogether, which is FAR worse than putting something out that’s only 95% of the way there and building organically over time.
It’s a bit of a rant, this time, but I have a vested interest in getting these projects completed on time. No one wants a project to be dragged out – or worse – cancelled.
YOU have the power to stay focused on what’s most important, and to not think you’re Elon Musk when you’re just getting started. Project prioritization is up to you!