Merchants: what to do on the Web
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It is no surprising that the entire business world is frantic to get online these days. Internet as a new business medium has proven to be a favorable channel in increasing sales and marketing of existing retail or mail-order business and other online enterprise. The emerging value of the Web as an excellent information resource has enabled the worldwide community to participate into cross-boundary communications and engage into international business transactions.
If you plan to put your business on the Web, you have to make some important decisions. You need to have proper information about your market, reexamine your motivation and assess yourself why you want to be on the Internet.
If you observe the Web lately, you are probably aware that is it already flooded with useless information. Though there are great-looking websites, they are still useless if they are not able to present information people want to look at. So if you are planning to create an online store, it is important to know that content is critical.
Since you are creating a commercial site, your primary content is your products. So how do you make your good contents? Well, you must be selling good products with good prices and information presented in a good web page layout. After doing such, ask yourself this question: "If I was the customer, would I buy this?" and do not make further business steps until the site satisfies your self-approval. Ensure that your products' information can be accessed in a fast and convenient manner. Also, allow your customers to ask questions about your business or your products by putting an e-mail link on your contacts page. It is very important to be customer-oriented to increase sales and establish customer trust.
Make sure that your website is complete and error-free when you run it online. Most customers dislike online stores that display "under construction" pages and erratic information. When your site is deemed complete, you can start marketing it by submitting your URL to free directory listings on some search engines. Alternatively, if you do not have the patience to list your own site on popular search engines, you may consider professional listing services and page links - where you pay advertising fee to some companies to publicize your website.
The need to analyze your market's competition would probably occur later in your online business. There is no other good strategy in marketing your website than knowing who your potential customers are. Knowing their purchasing behavior and preferences will give you hints that most likely suggest reevaluating and improving your site. The best way to do this is to visit a popular competitor's website who sells the same products as yours in a local setting. Observe their prices and information and analyze what their "edge" is - find answers why they have a great number of visitors by exploring their website.
You can also improve marketing by links exchange. Find a rival website (or better, a noncommercial site with theme related to your products) and send them a cordial e-mail message expressing how great their site and requesting them to add a link to your site. In return, however, tell them that you are willing to add their site's URL on your website's links page. Site administrators receive such e-mail type warmly as long as it is not identified as spam or you do not attempt to sell them something.
Finally, you can try affiliate marketing to improve your site's traffic and sales. This marketing method has proven effective by many web merchants. The idea of affiliate marketing is running paid banners or text links on different websites owned by your so-called affiliates or publishers. Depending on your affiliate program, you pay them based on their performance. Your affiliates could get a share for every successful transaction made by referred customer, or they earn based on click-throughs or impressions, that is, the number of people who actually see and click your ad. Research more on affiliate marketing and make an affiliate program that is feasible to you and to your partners. Start by visiting affiliate networks site like LinkShare.
There could still be other effective methods to boost your online business. However, it is an utmost importance to make careful analysis before deciding to make a forward step of your venture. While Internet makes businesses promising, it also introduces new challenges and marketing problems especially for motivated merchants who want to make more.
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