By Jim Daniels
I've been writing about Internet marketing for so long now (over 4 years) that I sometimes forget to write for newer web business owners - the folks who are still in the start-up period of their online ventures.
Yes, contrary to what some "experts" will tell you, there is still plenty of room for new businesses in cyberspace. Sure, the year 2000 brought many giant dotcoms tumbling to the scrap heap, but running your own small business on the web is still a great way to make a living.
A small businesses on the web can be cheap to operate, nearly fully automated and nimble -- a great combination for success. I've been operating a successful business, exclusively on the web, and right from the comfort of my home, for almost five full years now. Like I said, it's a great way to make a living, but only if you do it right.
Today I'll share a step-by-step must do list for those of you who are either considering starting, or have already started a business on the Web. Every key component you must integrate for long-term success is revealed in this piece. (If you already have a web business, at least scan this piece for items you may have missed. You really do need every single one of these components if you want your business to grow into a source of financial security.)
10 Key Components to Lasting Success on the Web:
1. A unique and professional web site with your own domain name
Your web site will be the cornerstone of your success online. It should look different than the "rest of the pack" and it should have a unique domain name. I could go on and on with this one but I won't. Just surf the web a while and decide what sites YOU would buy from. That will tell you volumes.
2. A product line you can control
Ideally you should sell at least one product or service that you own completely. (See this lesson) If that's just not possible right away, then make sure you align yourself only with the strongest companies that you can rely on going forward.
3. A way to accept secure payments via credit card at your web site
The best solution is to have a merchant account of your own. But if that's too costly for you in the beginning, a solution like ccnow.com or ibill.com will do. Offering a FAST and SECURE way for your customers to purchase from your web site with their Visa or Mastercard is a must on the web.
4. A support strategy that keeps your prospects and clients happy
There are lots of ways to offer support. The best is simply by offering contact forms at your site and
answering email every day. Other solutions include "live support" interfaces such as those offered at http://www.livehelper.com or http://www.HumanClick.com.
5. An opt-in email strategy
You must grow a list of prospects. It's the only way you can "capture" a percentage of the folks who visit your site and do not buy the first time. (Which is nearly all of them!) An opt-in strategy works best when you give something of value away in exchange for a visitor's name and email address. Then you must stay in touch with these people on a regular basis, providing value for them.
I use a combination of tools to perform these tasks. I offer a free book at my site and stay in touch with people through my BizWeb eGazette. In a nutshell, I help new marketers and many of them purchase a product or service of mine when the need arises.
6. Sales copy that is proven to sell
If there is one aspect that kills web site sales it is poor sales copy. You may think your site is fine, but tiny details in your sales copy can be costing you thousands of dollars a month. Here's an example: A recent site I was involved with personally was pulling a sale for every 100 or so visitors. Now that's not a bad visitor-to-sale ratio in cyberspace. But it was not nearly what I expected for this particular site. The visitors were being carefully targeted and the potential customer base was huge.
I called in one of my favorite online sales literature experts and he confirmed my suspicion that the sales copy was the culprit. The site was failing to obey some simple do's and don'ts. He made a few changes to the sales copy and it resulted in a 34-1 visitor-to-sales ratio, practically unheard of online, and almost tripling the site's sales overnight.
I've sold tens of thousands of manuals, books and software products over the past few years. And I know for a fact that if you follow proven, successful "cyber sales formulas" you'll be able to sell just about anything online!
7. An affiliate program for your customers
OK, some may say this is not an absolute necessity, but look around. Nearly ALL successful e commerce sites offer some form of affiliate program. You can pay for visitors, leads or commission sales, but you need to offer SOME way of rewarding folks who bring you business. Here's some more info on the subject as well as a few companies that offer affiliate solutions for webmasters.
8. "Recommended products and services"
While we're on the subject of offering an affiliate program at your site, on the flip side of the coin you need to join a few affiliate programs yourself! Find affiliate programs that tie in well with what you offer, use the product or service, and if you like it recommend it to your visitors. You'll increase your web site income literally overnight. Over the years I've found that the best programs are the ones that offer residual, or recurring income on each sale. Here's an example of some programs like this.
9. New products or services on a regular basis
If you can create a new product of your own once or twice a year, you'll stand a better chance of growing your income continually. Also be sure to update your existing products on a regular basis to keep content and sales fresh. If you're not able to create your own products that often, then find a product you could get behind and do a joint venture with the owner. Even if the owner does not offer an affiliate program you can offer to promote their product or service for a percentage of sales. Let them know you have a targeted list of prospects that would love their product, especially if they could get it at a reduced price through you!
10. A marketing strategy that includes free promotion and paid advertising
Lets face it, in order to make money online, you gotta get visitors to your web site. There are tons of ways to do that on the Internet and I've tried nearly all of them. But what works for me may not work for the next site. It all depends upon your target market and your products and services. The thing to understand is that you will never know what works best for you, until you try and try different strategies. For a starting point, here are the top 10 methods I've used throughout the last five years...http://www.bizweb2000.com/top10.htm
That's it for today! Please feel free to print this lesson and keep it handy as you grow your own business on the web! And if you even need some advice, feel free to contact me: Jim@bizweb2000.com
Tips by Jim Daniels, owner of bizweb2000.com. Did you like this lesson? Then you'll love Jim's catalog of books and software, guaranteed to increase your online income.