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If You Build It...

By: Brandon Wolvin at Impact-Direct

Submitted on Tue, Mar 13th, 2007 12:00 am

If you build it they will come….Can you name the movie? When I first jumped into business, I believed this famous movie line. Much like Kevin Costner’s character in Field of Dreams, I thought if I could just get myself established that the flood gates of sales would open and I would be on the fast track to riches. Well nothing is easy and there is no overnight get rich quick scheme. The following tips are part informational, part motivational and proven successful strategies.

Tip #1: Reset your view of the online world
I talk to lots of aspiring entrepreneurs, current site owners or people hanging on the last rung of the patience ladder. You bought the site and you don’t know why a getting person to your site is so difficult. In the online world, you need to look at a website not as a shopping/service destination on the horizon that people can see and be amazed by your offerings. In fact, your site is in more like the bottom line on a page that people could see but don’t have the time or patience to get past the first ten lines on the page. If you can conceptualize where you are in this respect, you will begin to understand the kind of commitment and knowledge it takes to move your site to the top of that list so that you are in full view of the people searching for information.

Tip #2: Keywords are your compass, choose wisely or you will be lost
Staying with the list concept, know that there are millions of lists that make up the online world. In fact, every keyword or combinations of keywords that are searched generate a list. As a site owner, you need to find that list that fits your business. Remember the broader a term the longer the list and the more time it will take to get to the top. Select keywords that will give you the right combination of maximum searches and targeted traffic. This sounds more difficult than it is, but seek help if you can’t come up with the right keywords.

Tip #3: There is no Cook Book Recipe for success!
There is no cook book recipe to get you to the top of the search engines and there is surely no recipe to guarantee people will buy from you once they are getting to your site. The best advice I can give you is that in order to be successful, it requires consistency. You can not build a site and let it sit there hoping people will find it. You need to be an authority on your subject. Sites that are an authority have valuable information that is updated. Customers want as much information about products or services as they can find. If you want success, be an authority. To be an authority you need to give out information, actively post press releases and articles about your field, generate world of mouth and repeat customers. SEO firms can help your site get ranked, but you must be an active participant as well.

The next few tips will be geared toward E-commerce shopping carts

Tip #4: Online = Lower Prices
Consumers go online because they inherently believe online stores don’t have to pay for brick and mortar leases and high cost utilities. Customers see it as they are buying directly from the source. Thus, when you price your products, online = lower. In many cases, e-commerce owners can offer great pricing, but if you feel like you are giving the prices as low as you can then you need to be creative.

Tip # 5: Create the feeling of the Customer is getting a “deal”
Creating a feeling of getting a deal doesn’t have to mean low prices. When selling your products, add and update your offerings frequently. This creates the feeling that new things are coming and going and they may miss out. Further promote this feeling by using “Limited Availability” or “limited time offer” or “Online Only Special.” Consumers are impulse buyers why do you think the “Do you want to Supersize that?” mantra was created by McDonalds. Every customer wants to get a deal and every customer loves the instant gratification associated with buying, this is why America is such a consumer country.

Tip #6: Great Customer Service
I feel that the biggest reason EBay turned into a commerce engine was because of the ability of consumers to get great customer service. EBay utilizes the ratings review for each seller. When a seller is good they are given stars and potential clients can read commentary. Now, your site will likely not have the same functionality that EBay uses, but that doesn’t mean you can show great customer service. Create a valuable Frequently Asked questions page, billboard thoughtful testimonials from previous buyers and by all means provide a number to call for further information. Additionally, ask customers for feedback or ways to improve your sites shopping experience.

Tip #7: Don’t go down with the Ship
Many times when I am involved with developing a site, I tell my clients that it is imperative to give real time shipping calculations prior to getting the clients contact information. No one and I mean no one likes to hear that after you have decided to buy, that there is an additional cost. In many cases shipping costs can make or break a sale. Additionally, if you can offer to ship large orders for a free or maybe even receive a discount on your next purchase. Show the customer that you valuable their business and make them feel good about buying from you and they will come back.

Tip #8: Mailing Manager or Newsletters
Each month I get a reminding email from ProFlowers letting me know that they can send my wife some flowers and help to make me a better husband. Many times there are sites that give out your information and generate unwanted spam email. But if you go with the philosophy that your site is an authority and valuable to customers in your field, they should want to hear about new things or be reminded. Invest in an e-commerce platform that has a mailing manager that will allow you to send out reminders to your customers. It shows that you are available and it can help to make life easier in some cases. If you e-commerce platform doesn’t have the mailing feature, consider setting up a newsletter. Why collect all of the contact information if you are going to let the list of emails sit and collect dust.

Tip# 9: E-Coupons and Gift Cards
These two features are great ways to get more out of your site. Gift cards are easy to use and provide customers with the ability to share your site with their friends. E-coupons are a fantastic way to measure the success of your traditional marketing campaign. For example, you spend $500 advertising in the local town courier. In this advertisement you include an e-coupon promotional code giving a consumer 10-15% off. Following the distribution you can measure to see how many sales you got by customers who put in the promo code. This is a great way to see your return on that $500 investment.

Tip# 10: Image is everything
If your site gives the consumer the feeling that it is a bit off, awkward or outdated in appearance, they will not be confident to use their credit card and will abandon the site. Furthermore, using thumbnail pictures for products and allowing the customer to click for larger pictures or multiple views is mandatory. Anyone who is interested in buying anything wants to reach out and touch the product. Well, this is online and in the absence of coming into physical contact with a product, buyers will settle for really great images and a lot of them. Use as many images that are clear, professional and gratifying to the product. Along the same lines, I will reiterate that you need to provide lots of information as to the specifications of the product. Providing a long detailed description can be a burden for site owners but if you want people to buy from you they will want to know as much as they can about the product. Products with tiny or lackluster descriptions will likely get passed over.

Final thought
Having a website is exciting and gratifying but it is anything but an easy way to cash in! It takes work to get your site developed. It takes work to get your site ranked. And it takes work to drive sales. I personally feel that having an online business whether you sell products or offer services is empowering. Everything you do to your site is a building block to future success. But remember, you can’t buy time, so recognize early what you can do to make your site successful and seek teammates to fulfill areas that you are not the expert. “Sales vs. Expenses” is the field of play. If you are playing on the expense side and you are the business owner, your sales will suffer and you won’t be in business long.

About the Author

Brandon Wolvin
Impact-Direct
Impact-Direct is a dedicated team of professionals who commit the time, knowledge and resources to keep your business ahead of the competition.

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