Seven Strategies for Building a Successful Internet Business

Written by Amy Flynn

By 2004 Forrester Research, Inc. estimates that business-to-business commerce onrepparttar web will hit $2.7 trillion. It's true thatrepparttar 119123 web can be a highly profitable venture, but without careful planning, your business may flounder before it ever makes money. Following these seven steps can help you plan a cohesive strategy before you sell your first product.

Identify Your Internet Business- Ask yourself why customers would come to your web site. Is it an extension of your bricks and mortar store? Or will it be a stand-alone operation? What can you provide that no one else can? Of what value is your site to customers? Even if you don't sell online, you need to answer these questions. Customers don't always come to a web site to buy products. Sometimes they come for information. Tell them aboutrepparttar 119124 products you sell, give them your store hours and phone number, provide a map so they can find your shop. Even though you haven't sold them anything, you've given them value. Customers will come back to your site if you provide value.

Create a well designed, easy-to-use, fast, and functional web site- Your web site should have a clean, straightforward design. Customers don't like busy, cluttered web sites. A customer should be able to find a product in two mouse clicks. Any more and they feel like they're being led through a maze. Or worse, they may lose interest and leave.

Keeprepparttar 119125 graphics and text simple and small. Animation and sound files can be interesting, but don't force customers to view these items in order to buy a product.

There are many options for managing orders. The most popular way to manage orders is through shopping cart technology. The customer goes throughrepparttar 119126 site and picks items s/he wants to buy. At check out, s/he fills in billing details and purchasesrepparttar 119127 items. Building a shopping cart requires programming knowledge or a software package that can managerepparttar 119128 behindrepparttar 119129 scenes work.

Can customers pay online with a credit card? They increasingly likerepparttar 119130 convenience of this. The order is placed quickly and they receive an instant confirmation receipt. However, your store must be enabled to accept online credit card purchases. This requires both a merchant account that accepts online orders and an electronic gateway that facilitatesrepparttar 119131 transaction.

Selectrepparttar 119132 right domain name- A domain name is an extension of your store. It isrepparttar 119133 first thing people learn aboutrepparttar 119134 store, sorepparttar 119135 name should be relevant torepparttar 119136 business. If you own a store or a brand name, this should berepparttar 119137 domain name as well. Many single words have been registered as domains already. New domain names can be up to 67 characters long, so choose a combination of words that describes your store.


Written by B.L. Ochman

Since 1994 Internet usage inrepparttar United States has increased 10,000 percent from 3 to 304 million people. Along with this amazing growth has come a period of previously unimaginable innovation. But marketing guru Al Ries, author of "Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind," and most recently of "The 11 Immutable Laws of Internet Branding," says few companies have an Internet strategy that makes any sense.

Companies don't understandrepparttar 119122 difference betweenrepparttar 119123 Internet and "the Outernet," Ries' name for everything outsiderepparttar 119124 Web. "Taking your real world name and putting it onrepparttar 119125 Internet is line extension and that is wrong on a fundamental level,"repparttar 119126 pundit insists.

While many Internet mavens may disagree strongly with some of Ries' views onrepparttar 119127 new economy, there is one important thing to remember. This man has been right about branding issues many, many times inrepparttar 119128 past 35 years. And often his was a lone voice inrepparttar 119129 forest.

"Branding forrepparttar 119130 Internet is more important than inrepparttar 119131 Outernet," says Ries, who inventedrepparttar 119132 concept of positioning products to achieve a share of mind with consumers. "That's becauserepparttar 119133 Internet has no visual clues to get you into a site."

BRAND INVISIBILITY Internet brands are invisible until you inputrepparttar 119134 brand name intorepparttar 119135 keyboard. If you don't knowrepparttar 119136 brand name and how to spell it, no sale can happen. Therefore, online, name recognition is paramount.

Inrepparttar 119137 Outernet, you can walk past a shoe store and have something inrepparttar 119138 window catch your eye. You can go inside, try on and buy a pair of shoes and walk away without really rememberingrepparttar 119139 name ofrepparttar 119140 shoe store. A similar experience can't happen onrepparttar 119141 Internet because it lacks visual clues that can attract casual shoppers.

Ries disagrees with new economy observers who believe bricks and mortar companies can also sell online, and with those who say luxury items can be sold onrepparttar 119142 Internet. Ries saysrepparttar 119143 Internet will turn out to be a place to find low prices, not high service.

Despite Web business' ability to automate many customer service functions and provide a convenient shopping experience, Ries says people will always want to touch, feel and try products before they buy.

Internet brands have an advantage where communication with customers is involved, Ries says. The Internet can provide better two-way communication with customers than real world stores. But it can't provide a smile and a cup of coffee while you shop.

ADVERTISING IS USELESS: PR IS KEY The most widespread misunderstanding ofrepparttar 119144 Internet, according to Ries isrepparttar 119145 idea that advertising can be used to establish online brands. "Unless your site has some angle for creating news it isn't going to be successful. When you try to saverepparttar 119146 situation by advertising, people ignore you. Yet most dot.coms are advertising because their names are unknown and they think advertising can solverepparttar 119147 problem. It can't."

Another widespread misconception is that search engines can direct a great amount of traffic to sites. Early on very few brands are strongly registered inrepparttar 119148 mind so people have to use search engines, Ries says. People go to search engines now because we are still learning how to userepparttar 119149 Internet, Ries says, but he suggests that long-term they will become less important. As people continue to use Internet they will go directly to various sites.

What Internet businesses need to do before advertising is PR. "Unless you are relatively known - maybe not well-known -- but have some degree of presence inrepparttar 119150 mind, advertising is almost sure to be a total waste."

While there's much talk about integrated marketing today, Ries says, "It usually has to do with launching a program with a big bang: using advertising, direct mail and publicity all at once. I am talking about sequential launches - launch with a massive publicity campaign. After gaining some name recognition and acceptance, shift to advertising for name reminders."

HIRE PR FIRMS FOR STRATEGY, NOT INK Dot.coms must have publicity, Ries maintains. "It's not easy to do, but if you tell me your site can't get any publicity I will tell you there is something wrong withrepparttar 119151 site. Generally onlyrepparttar 119152 first mover can get publicity - but there always is an opportunity to create news by narrowingrepparttar 119153 focus."

For example, Ries says, let's say a company sells a huge selection of golf clubs onrepparttar 119154 Internet. Along comes a second site that wants to sell golf clubs. It carves out its niche by selling only left-handed clubs. That would be newsworthy even thoughrepparttar 119155 site isn't a first mover. Only afterrepparttar 119156 site created name recognition through publicity would it make any sense to advertise. Advertising needsrepparttar 119157 credibility publicity can create.

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