From: Bob Rankin
Subject: TOURBUS - 26 Nov 02 - Settping Up Shop (Part II)
Today's Tourbus will continue the series I started last week on the basics of setting up an online store. In this issue, you'll learn where to go for expert advice on advertising, website promotion and marketing strategies. Let's sell some stuff!
NOTE: Some readers had trouble accessing the Norton offer over the past week. Seems this offer was a victim of its own popularity, but I've been assured that the technical problems are resolved and the site is back in action. People write in every week asking if this offer is legitimate. Short answer: YES. I have the product myself, and it's the same thing you'd get in stores, except the manuals are on the CDROM. From what I've read, Norton 2003 offers little or nothing that's not in the current package, and you still get one full year of virus updates with this Norton 2002 package.
Please support our kind sponsors, they make it possible to bring you this free newsletter - thanks! And let's dive right into those
This weekly newsletter from Dr. Ralph Wilson answers questions from small business people to help them succeed in the online world. This site also features a FANTASTIC resource: The E-Commerce Research Room. You'll find introductory articles on e-commerce, info on shopping cart programs, transaction security, site promotion & marketing strategies.
Pick up some handy search engine submission tips and industry news from searchmeister Danny Sullivan. You'll find literally everything you might want to know about search engines, how they work, how to use them, and how to submit your own Web pages to the engines.
A discussion of e-commerce issues by those engaged in the online sale of products and services. I've been a subscriber for years to this high-quality forum moderated by John Audette, where Internet professionals can network, debate and discuss e-commerce issues.
Adam Boettiger's I-Advertising newsletter has been a place where
people can exchange information, share experiences and network since
1996. The Resources section of this site has links to useful articles
about Internet advertising, marketing and e-business industries.
An affiliate program may help to boost your sales by providing other webmasters with incentive to send potential customers to your site. Commission Junction will help you set up a turnkey program that allows you to pay affiliates on a per-click or per-sale basis. CJ handles everything from recruiting affiliates to reporting to making sure affiliates get paid.
In addition to publishing the Internet Tourbus newsletter and writing non-geeky computer books, I am also a student and practitioner of e-commerce. Since 1997, I've operated FlowersFast.com, an online florist that I built from scratch using Notepad and Paintshop Pro. Here are some of the things I've learned along the way.
-- SIMPLE NAVIGATION
Every page of your site should have a handy link or search box that lets people find the most important pages on your site. If they can't find the product they're after in one or two clicks, they'll leave and try another store.
-- CUT THE FAT
You can use graphics sparingly and still have a visually appealing site. If the home page takes too long to load, your handiwork will never be seen by impatient consumers who want information, not glitz. Once you get a high-speed connection, it's easy to forget that there are still MANY people with 56K dialup access. If you slim down your site, you'll appeal to more potential customers and also avoid exceeding your web host's monthly bandwidth (total bytes sent) allowance.
-- MAKE IT EASY TO BUY
Ever try to buy something from a site and they start asking you to jump through hoops at checkout time? If you require customers to "create an account", "become a member" or cough up unnecessary personal information, you'll lose sales. Customers expect to enter their shipping address, credit card info and hit the button. If you want to know their shoe size and preferred deodorant, ask them AFTER the sale.
-- STAY AWAY FROM GIZMOS
If you use Flash, Java, embedded music, or anything else that requires your visitors to have the latest browser, a high-speed modem or download a plugin, you will end up in the e-commerce graveyard. Unless your target market is tech-savvy geeks with hot computers, it makes no sense to place unnecessary obstacles in the way of potential customers.
-- INSPIRE TRUST
Many people are nervous about buying online, so it's important to let them know that your company is run by real people who will treat them right if there's a problem after the sale. Always include a contact phone number, physical address, and your privacy and return policies on your site. Offering a 100% satisfaction guarantee is also a real good idea, as is responding quickly to email inquiries.
Oh, and perhaps MOST important - put testimonials from happy customers all over the place. Browsers will turn into buyers if they know that others have been happy with purchases from your site.
That's all for now, see you next time! --Bob Rankin