The Internet has been around long enough now for some online marketing principles to emerge as proven success drivers. By observing Amazon.com, Napster, Ebay, Hotmail, Blue Mountain Arts and a few other highly successful online properties, we can now accurately pinpoint tested principles that any site can plug into their own processes and profit from them immensely.
Being Part of Natural Buyer Behaviour
Most people buy on their third to fifth contact. Which means you have to get their email address first time they visit your site, and periodically send them some useful free information to get them to return to your site several times. You have to give them a valid reason for them to give you their email address - no one gives their email address without something worth it for them in exchange. You can either run a newsletter or use a system like Aweber.com's to schedule an automated series of emails from pre-written templates. Obviously, providing good and relevant free information is very important here, you just can't email pure advertising to people. The Net Profits manual covers this very well (see http://www.aboutwebmasters.com/free-tools.shtml).
Affiliate Programs - Every Site Should Have One
Affiliate programs are responsible for about 35% of sales generated by big e-commerce sites. Many sites that do not do any other form of advertising report affiliates as an even larger contributor of their total sales. Why? Because over 80% of people find new sites on web by following links from sites they already visit. Having an affiliate program gives you ability to convince other related sites to link to your site. And make sure you give them a sizeable commission, say 20%. The idea is to build an affiliate network that is highly automated and empower your affiliates with tools and information that will help them succeed. Then target a few sites with high traffic as preferred partners and work with them even closer because these large sites will be main contributor of sales. For more details on this, see Declan Dunn's Winning Affiliate Game and The Complete, Insider's Guide to Associate & Affiliate Programs (see http://www.aboutwebmasters.com/free-tools.shtml).
Solving The Abandoned Shopping Cart
Shoppers abandon their shopping carts 75% of time. They never complete purchase process. The main reason why this happens has been found to be lack of human support to answer questions they may have at time of purchase, either about products or about shopping process. One way to add live human support is by using HumanClick.com's free app.
Leveraging Existing Traffic
You might as well leverage your existing traffic to generate more revenue. Sign up with some good affiliate programs from web businesses selling products related to your audience. Then take some good text links promoting those products and place them in strategic places on your site and newsletter, within flow of your current traffic and that's it! Yahoo, Excite and many of big engines all play this game and so should you. Again, text links that work in with content are better than banners because people generally have learnt not to see banners. Another thing you can do is get a free Vstore and have an instant customized mall for your site without accompanying hassles of fulfilment and rest (see http://www.aboutwebmasters.com/free-tools.shtml).
Creating Revenue Streams
Make good use of your existing customers. Once someone has bought from you, they are very likely to buy again because they now trust you. Make good use of this. Find related products and services that they would be interested in and periodically, say once or twice a month, email current customers thanking them for their previous purchase, asking them if they are happy with it and if they require any help with it, and of course informing them of new product you have decided to tell them about. If you do not have any other products of your own, sign up with affiliate programs featuring such products and market those. This 'back-end' can actually result in more revenue that you got from initial sale - it is a constant stream of revenue, actually.