Bringing the World to Your Door
According to Internet.com, by the year 2008 nearly 30% of offline purchases will be influenced by online research. If your site is a well-implemented ecommerce site, the web can significantly lower both order-taking costs and customer support costs after the sale has been made. You could also experience larger purchases per transaction. Through automation, you can sell the 'back-end" on the front end by suggesting additional items at the time the purchase is made. You can offer your customer more information, such as order tracking. A customer can shop from the comfort of her or his home, in her bunny slippers or his boxer shorts. You can give the customer a larger variety of offerings. No need to send a great big catalog through the mail anymore. When you run out of an item, you simply remove it from the website. Makes shopping so much easier.
But first you have to get them there! No matter what function your site performs, whether it be to display your online brochure or ecommerce site, to get people to visit, you still need to market your site. It's easy to create a new ecommerce site, getting people to visit yours is not so easy.
Getting traffic to return to your web site a second time is equally challenging. Provide a product or service the customer needs, and they may be back and they may even refer others.
What makes you different from the competition? Check them out. See if they are online and see what they are doing. Look for strengths and weaknesses in the site's message, design and links. Find out who else is online. How do others fit into your target market?
Surfing is one thing, visiting another, but selling something online is the ultimate challenge of ecommerce today.
When creating or making improvements to your site, here are a few things to keep in mind:
Design a user-friendly site. Make it informative and easy in which to move around, so they will want to come back. Use light backgrounds with dark text for easy reading. It is also better to have less information on a page than pages full of text that will lose the reader's interest. Have an eye-catching site that entertains and informs.
Keep graphics simple. Over-use of graphics and flash graphics take longer to download. Today, you have 5-10 seconds to grab your visitor's attention. If loading your site takes longer than that, chances are good that they will quickly exit.
Keep your URL (uniform resource locator) - aka web site address/domain name - simple. It is the main way people locate you on the Web. While many of the good dot.com's are taken, dot.net's are a viable alternative. Soon, they too will be gone. If you have not already done so, get your domain name immediately. Make it memorable, something people might type in the subject line in a search engine looking for what you have to offer. Hard to spell words make it more difficult for visitors to find you.
Let's assume you have built a great Web site. It is filled with great content, well organized, easy to navigate, and encourages customer interaction. But you need visitors. The following online marketing ideas will help you sell your products or services, offer better customer service, help you build your company identity and establish brand awareness in the marketplace. In fact, if you are relentless in your pursuit of marketing on the web, you'll be hard to beat.
Here are just three ideas to "bring the world to your door."
Number One: Lead with your benefits. As with any copyrighting, headlines can make or break your success. Clearly state the benefits your site has to offer in your headline. Use power words, words that appeal to your visitors' emotions. It should describe how you will solve a problem, relieve pain, improve your visitors lives, educate them, give them something for FREE, save them time, and so on.
Number Two: Capture visitors. Add a form to your site so visitors can "register" - leave their name and email address. Tell them you want to use the information to send them periodic email message announcing special offers, and new products and services. It is important that you also make it easy for people to remove themselves (unsubscribe) from your list. Never send anything to this group unless you have something valuable to offer or say. Keep the emails short and succinct. Add links to your message that direct people back to your site for more information. Save time by automating this process with autoresponders.
Number Three: Start an Ezine This is an instant customer database builder especially if you offer it for FREE and it has a perceived value to your visitors. Ezines allow you to build a relationship with your customers and prospects. It should be short, interesting and filled with valuable information. I currently write five ezines. They are Self-Marketing News, Creating A Legacy, Ramblin' Rose, Petals N Cents, and WECommerce News. Between the five ezines, we have a total subscriber base of nearly 30,000 opt-in prospects and customers from all over the world. In addition to the great marketing potential ezines offer, they help you develop a positive reputation.
As the World Wide Web continues to grow and evolve, more and more companies and individuals are turning to the Internet to serve their needs. Make sure the world knows to turn to you.
Excerpted from The PMS Principles - Powerful Marketing Strategies to Grow Your Business by Heidi Richards
© 2004 - Heidi Richards is the author of www.thepmsprinciples.com/">The PMS Principles, Powerful Marketing Strategies to Grow Your Business and 7 other books. She is also the Founder & CEO of the Women's ECommerce Association, International www.wecai.org/">www.WECAI.org (pronounced wee-kī) - an Internet organization that "Helps Women Do Business on the WEB." She can be reached at www.heidirichards.com/">www.HeidiRichards.com.