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Old 11-30-2013, 02:13 PM   #1 (permalink)
Local Chapter Manager
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Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Racine, WI, USA.
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Default Pause to reflect

We KNOW we are grateful for the growth we are experiencing. We thought you might like to know a few things about how we evaluate ExoticBlanks.

First let me define a couple terms: "Exotics1" is the original ExoticBlanks site that has operated from late 2008 through early summer 2013.
"Exotics2" is our "upgrade" that did not last long (about 2 months--with dozens of problems).
"Exotics3" is our current site, which still does NOT have all our products, but we DO have over 4000 posted.

Of course, one metric is sales: Exotics1 was growing nicely over last year and we were very pleased.
Exotics2 caused some customers to leave (I would have been among them, with the problems these folks endured), but our sales dropped precipitously, ending up LOWER than last year's July and August (slowest months of the year anyhow--but we planned the move to be in a "lull")
Exotics3 is seeing renewed "growth over last year", although we are up about half of where we were "before the disaster (Exotics2)"

BUT there are other metrics we find interesting: Our "page views" are about constant---last year we had 2 million and this year looks like it will be the same.
NUMBER of customers visiting each day has nearly doubled.

My deduction from this: Products are easier to find!! Even though there are THOUSANDS of choices, you are able to locate what you want in 2-3 "clicks".

The comment I have heard most often: "The navigation is SO simple---I can find what I am looking for, quickly and order it easily"!!

The new site also "plays well" with all operating systems and browsers---so for those who had problems on Exotics2---TRY Exotics3!!!

For those who "get off on" statistics (I am one of them), our pageviews per visitor have dropped and our bounce rate is up, but we think these are "good things" when seen in the light of "ease of shopping". It will be interesting to see how next year compares with 2013!!

I know SOME of you are experts in SEO and others, like me find it entertaining to try to evaluate.

If you have suggestions to improve "Exotics3", we are always interested in hearing them---we have added some "kits" that you asked for and we know of some areas that have been weak--we will try to strengthen them.

No, the year is not over!!!! But, our "die is cast" by now---most orders placed today will arrive in February (edit in: OUR orders to vendors, not YOUR orders to US--they still ship soon after the order is placed!!) ---so we are now looking for direction for next year. We will continue to search for good "partner products" and we will continue to promote ALL our partners, ALL year long!!

But we also want to know what YOU want. Especially those who have not yet TRIED ExoticBlanks!!
What can we do to persuade you to give us a try!! (You can send PM if you prefer)

So far, growth was astounding, before Exotics2. What can we do to achieve those lofty levels again???

Thanks to all who reply, either here or in Private Messages---we aim to please---we hope you will help us better identify the target!!

Thanks for your continued patronage and suggestions!!

Ed & Dawn
Ed Brown

Last edited by ed4copies; 11-30-2013 at 02:35 PM.
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Old 11-30-2013, 02:30 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Do you recall back when E3 was just rolling out and the site link that I sent you with the outstanding epic search navigation? :) That belongs on E3!
Anyone can COPY, it takes a *TRUE ARTIST* to CREATE

-- In times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.

Design your own Polymer Clay Pen Blanks by Toni, Detailed 'CA' Article
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Old 11-30-2013, 03:21 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Location: Columbus, Ohio
Posts: 152
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Just placed an order yesterday. Site was an amazing shopping experience. Looking forward to trying the new convertible kits! Here are a couple notes from using the site.
1.Could not find JG II postable, chrome.
2.Browsing kits, click on a specific kit, click my browsers back button, it went back but then reloaded the page and put me back to the top of the screen. Had to refind the place where I left off. I noticed this happened around 75% of the time which is just strange. Should be all or nothing.
3.BAnner image 9. Too much text or not enough pause time. Had to click it 3 times to get through it all and register the images.
4.if you are going to list your phone number on the site, you either need to answer the phone or return phone calls. I called twice last week and did not hear back.
In case you are curious what we do with our site: Midwest Photo Exchange Home page If you ever have any site questions, feel free to ask.

Wishing you the best! Looking forward to getting my order!

Midwest Photo Exchange
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Old 11-30-2013, 04:59 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Location: Racine, WI, USA.
Posts: 23,602
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THANK YOU Moishe!!!

1) The Junior Gent, from CSUSA is not made in chrome. Rhodium is the only choice that "looks like" chrome, but costs like Rhodium. I would suggest you try the Atrax in chrome or the Triton in chrome. Edit in: The Atrax can be made postable, by adding the kit found here:

3) In banner images, you CAN click on the number below and it will return to the image, OR you can click on the image and it will take you to the page where that product is displayed. I wish I could adjust the time, but that is not available on a "one of" basis. I hoped to make the 9 banners pass quickly enough that you can "get a flavor" of the site. I CAN cut down the number or, of course, I CAN cut down the text. Do you have a preference?

4) You are correct, we SHOULD just eliminate the answering machine. We are here from noon to 10 PM seven days a week and some days it seems I am on the phone all day---but we do NOT do a good job of returning calls (honestly, when I DO return a call, there is an 80% chance I will get someone else's answering machine.

The day of the phone seems to be gone. And I don't know how to 'text'.

I WILL make this a priority next year, though---your point is well-made and well-taken. Ed

Last edited by ed4copies; 11-30-2013 at 05:12 PM.
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Old 11-30-2013, 05:17 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Ed, texting is easy as you just have to reply to one that was sent to you. I too had to learn but also found that getting a remote keyboard that works with your iPhone, Samsung , etc. makes things a WHOLE lot easier than trying to type with thumbs the size (they seem like) of boxing gloves when using the keyboard on the phone.
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Old 11-30-2013, 05:27 PM   #6 (permalink)
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My son, who works at AT&T, is "encouraging" me to use a headset and find other tools to be more efficient on the phone. Those who have talked with me realize we cover many topics---their questions are answered, yes, but I wander, extending the call considerably some times.

So I realize most of my time management problem is self-inflicted.
Ed Brown
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Old 12-01-2013, 10:45 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Without those 'self-inflicted' management problems........EB wouldn't be who they are.

Ed, you always give me more information then I ask for. That is just one thing that makes it wonderful to call you. You not only answer the give me ideas for thought.

I love to look and dream while on EB and someday soon, I will place an order without making a call.
Thanks for everything
It's not "Having what you want" is "Wanting what you have".

"Don't go riding on that long black train."
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Old 12-01-2013, 11:48 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Your new site is a big step in the right direction. The SEO could use a little fine tuning, however, if you just leave it as it is it's much better than your old title/descriptions and long url structure.

Bounce rates would depend on which pages people are bouncing on. What you don't want is a 'landing page' bounce. You see high rates of that time to figure out why. If someone is browsing for awhile and then bouncing it's not as bad. Either way stats are meant to give you an idea of where you can improve so you can raise that conversion rate.

I would probably add a social media extension on the cart products. As for browsers/os these days any site being developed should be a responsive design. Mobile devices are overtaking 'Desktop' browsing which I find annoying since now I need to go back and change all my sites over to responsive. Grrr Technology marches on though can't fight it ;)

There are other marketing strategies that will help your sites authority that can be utilized over time but the foundation of your internet presence is much improved and I"m glad to see it. Best of luck in 2014!

Oh yeah..wireless headset for the phone answering ;)

Last edited by ed4copies; 12-01-2013 at 01:00 PM.
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Old 12-01-2013, 05:39 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Exotics is awesome! in my book, you give the best customer service of any vendor and that means a lot to me. Growing pains are inevitable in any growing business and I know exactly what that is like with my business. I am not leaving as a customer.. NO WAY!!!

1) Your blank selection is always the best. 95% of all my blanks come from your site.

2) Your pen Kits are of the best quality.... Again... I only go to your site unless I see a new kit from Penn State inD. which you do not carry i.e.. stratus or spartan
Your pen kits are high quality and that is very important to me and my customers.

3) I love the Patty Sole blanks... awesome! Keep them coming!

4) Damascus Steel Blanks - I would love to try to turn a pen on that material... any chance on finding those?

5) Your Shipping is the fastest ever and your knowledge is awesome ( i can ask any question and you know the answer!)

Keep up the good work and I look forward to supporting exotic blanks in 2014!

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Old 12-01-2013, 06:25 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Location: Racine, WI, USA.
Posts: 23,602
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Thanks John!!

Number 5 answers number 4!!!

We had some true damascus blanks---I had to "phone a friend" to get them turned and he was less than enthusiastic in his review of them. So, until we find a material with which I can be comfortable, we will leave the "damascus market" to others.

AS for Patty---she is looking for inspiration from our customers!! WHAT would you like to see as subject matter???

Thanks for your comments!!
Ed Brown
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