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While thousands of online businesses are started up every day, only a few of them actually succeed. While no guarantee of success exists, there are certain basic rules that can be followed to change a fledgling online company into a profitable and successful one.

1. Respond

Every visitor to your site is a potential customer – more so if they take the time to email you or fill out a contact form. Respond to these enquiries quickly. The same day if possible and certainly by the next at the latest – there is simply too much competition in the now global marketplace to let potential customers slip away.

2. Engage

Customer loyalty and, most importantly, sales can be increased by encouraging your visitors to take active participation. Branding plays a big role. Set up a ‘company blog’ and make it open to visitor’s comments and recommendations. Link your site to social media platforms like Twitter,
Facebook and Pinterest.

3. Keep it simple

smile-for-online-business
The temptation exists for new online company owners to ‘over design’ their web pages in order to make them stand out. Flash animation might be added, sound or music or the page itself could be overloaded with large fancy images or graphics that can take ages to load. This is wrong, particularly for commercially positioned websites. Far more vital is for a website to be arranged to be ‘user friendly’ that people who click on your site can find what they want simply and quickly. Music, for example is a big no-no, particularly as many internet shoppers like to surf at work. A good example of a well designed, solely commercial website is: proteinfoodsdirect.com. Simply laid out and easy to navigate.

4. Returning Customers

Another easy way to boost sales is with repeat business and customers can be encouraged to return in a number of interesting ways. A good example is to advertise on your homepage that you will be posting a once a month sale for one day only. Perhaps another might be to include an interesting factual article about your product or service that can be serialised month after month – the trick with this one is that it has to be something interesting.

5. Overselling

No customer appreciates a pushy salesman and online is no different. Visitors to your site will not like to feel overly pressured to make a purchase. They may just be browsing, or in the process of comparing prices between you and your competitors. Come on too strong, use too much ‘spammy’ language and you will frighten them away. By all means explain clearly the benefits of your service or product but again, simplicity, rather than hyperbole is the key.

6. Customers are People

It sounds obvious but in today’s internet marketplace it’s easy to forget that there is a person on the other end. A person who will need to trust that you and your company will provide a good product or service, that will respond to their queries quickly and succinctly and, most importantly, will be there to remedy the situation if things go wrong. To that end, maintaining a successful online business is EXACTLY the same as running a shop – it’s all about the customer.

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