Opportunity Is Knocking – Are You Going to Answer?

Wake up business owners! Surveys showed a billion Internet users worldwide, with over 300 million of them in North America. Do those statistics make you sit up and take notice?North America. Do those statistics make you sit up and take notice?

Internet users are more affluent and better educated than the norm, with many holding college degrees. Still not convinced? Last year, The Forrester Report predicted online sales will grow to $750 billion by 2017.

This is a marketers’ dream. For the first time in history, there is a direct channel to billions of consumers worldwide at relatively little expense when compared to traditional marketing methods. Michael Dell, chairman and founder of Dell Computers, said in a keynote address, “Find me a business that’s not on the Web, and I’ll show you a business that is out of touch with its users.” Easy for him to say when rumors abound that he is selling a million a day, when in actual fact he states, “. . . in the heart of the Christmas rush, we had several $6-million days.”

If you think the Net is only for the big name brands, it isn’t. The Internet levels the playing field by letting small businesses look just as good as bigger competitors. Your online customers won’t know whether you are warehousing out of your garage or a 15-story office building unless you’re a recognizable name. Sounds simple, doesn’t it? Throw up a website and rake in the money. Don’t be misled. Its true that the infrastructure is in place to do business online, but it isn’t that simple. Its hard work and long hours, just like any other new venture, with no guarantee of success. Lack of knowledge about online commerce is one of the biggest reasons why businesses don’t succeed on the Internet. How can you better your chances to rake in your fair share of commerce online?

By following some basic guidelines for starters:

Make the commitment. Show the world you take it seriously. Online customers want rich product information and lots of it to make a buying decision. Don’t just give them the standard spiel. Successful sites will give online customers the spiel, the brochure, the sales letter, tips on usage, answers to frequently asked questions, letters from satisfied customers and the kitchen sink. If you aren’t willing to provide the knowledge needed to satisfy the potential buyer, your competitors will do it for you.

Define your goals. Plan your website to target your specific market, but don’t lose sight of service and support either. You don’t have to sell your products online to make a Website work for your company. Try service and support instead. Dell created 80,000 pieces of customer accessible information on the Net. It saves Dell $8 each time someone accesses the information instead of calling their 800 number.

Lower your prices, make it easy or the customer to find the products they want, and make it convenient and quick for them to purchase. At least 70% of all online purchases are made by people who were looking for specific items to buy. They’re going to shop around for price, but they also want good service and fast delivery. If you can ship in 24 hours and your competitors take 4 weeks, you’re going to make the sale if your prices are reasonable.

Be sure your website has a professional appearance. The professionalism of your company will be judged strictly on the appearance of your website in the beginning. An amateurish site will not give customers the confidence to buy. A really professional site is clean and simple to navigate, not loaded with show off programming features. And make sure you have everything in place to handle the online transactions, calls and deliveries before your website is in place, not after.

Market research indicates that 80 percent of all commerce transactions will be done via the Internet by the year 2017, instead of by fax or phone. Maybe its time to begin carving your niche on the Web now.

The Leap Into Cyberspace – How To Build A Great Web Site

What are you waiting for? There are more than 56 million American adults on the Internet with money to burn and over 100 million worldwide. Impressive numbers? Who wouldn’t want to try to tap this market? But its going to take more than an idea to upload your company into Cyberspace. Be prepared for some long hours and hard work . . . and that’s just for the planning stage. Generally, a company builds a Web site to sell products, either directly or indirectly to the consumer, generate new customers or simply to provide customer support and service.

Where do you begin the process? By researching what your competitors have done. Even though you may have a clear concept of what you want to accomplish, take the time to surf the competition. They just might have thought of something that you haven’t, something that would fit right into that clear concept of yours. Pay attention to the information presented and how it is presented. Are the sites easy to navigate? Confusing? Up to date? What do you like about each site? Dislike? What have they missed? After five hours of surfing the competition, you should be ready to begin planning your own.

In house or outsourced? Most small companies don’t have the resources to design, build and maintain a commercial site, but all too often, they hand it over to an inexperienced employee who once built a site for his Aunt Maude who sold wreaths. She never got any traffic to her site, and six months down the road, you might be wondering why your site didn’t work either. An Internet Web site is the equivalent of an international advertising campaign seen by thousands. Hire a professional who will not only plan, design and construct your site but will also optimize it for search engines and continue to advertise and maintain it.

Before you begin:

If you’re going for online sales, are your products saleable? Incorporate your plans around your target market. Who buys your products?

Young yuppies: give them a bright colored, jumping, modern looking environment

Adult males: use strong blues, bold lines

Older adults: strive for a dignified look, muted colors.

In other words, target your market.

Last but most important, make sure your company is set up to handle email, calls, transactions and deliveries generated by the site before it goes online. Every person in your company who will have any contact with customers should be familiar with, and able to answer questions about your Web site.

The professional look:

A professional Web site is simple and easy to navigate. Focus on providing enough information for the customer to make a buying decision. Seventy percent of your visitors are ready to buy now. Your goal is to get them to buy your product instead of a competitor’s. The customer’s entire experience on your Web site should be streamlined. No information should be more than three clicks away. Your site should be easy to navigate, with links provided on every page to navigate to any other page, as well as contact information; either email links or 800 phone number, or both. Forget the frames, fancy Java and ActiveX. Surveys show many viewers are still using older browser versions that have problems with these, and search engines have problems indexing them.

If you build it, will they come?

In a word, no. Most Web designers will tell you they will submit your site to a dozen search engines and you think they’re doing you a favor. They’re not. Probably 95 percent of all Internet surfers use a search engine to find what they’re looking for on the Internet. If your “professional” doesn’t know how to optimize a site for individual search engines and keep up with current research on getting sites to the top, chances are your site will be buried among the thousands of others and get virtually no traffic at all. That doesn’t mean, however, that you don’t have a job to do as well. Your Web designer can’t do it all. Your Web site address should be on every piece of paper your company has . . . letterheads, business cards, invoices, newspaper and magazine ads, etc. You may also be approached to buy banner advertising. Yes, banners may generate more visitors to your page, but you usually have to pay for everyone who clicks on it, whether they buy or not. Forget banners, lower your prices instead. You’ll get more buyers.

Facts and fiction:

Beware the professionals who guarantee you 1,000 “hits” a day. Most people don’t know what a “hit” is. In fact, most people believe one hit equals one visitor. It doesn’t. A hit is an element on a Web page. If your Web page has a picture (graphic) at the top, that’s one hit. A logo is a hit and so is that red line across and the 14 bullets individually counted as 14 hits, etc. One Web page usually has about 50 hits. So, if your site has 10 pages with 50 hits each, one person could generate 500 hits. We don’t believe in guaranteeing hits. We simply believe in satisfied customers. These numbers are from Jump Online, you can check them out here -> online marketing Glasgow.