Small Business Internet Secrets
- The backbone of any business, retail or online, is sales.Paper Boat Creative/Lifesize/Getty Images
In many ways, selling is selling, whether your small business occupies a retail location, operates completely online, or is a combination of the two. Your customers are still people and react to the same techniques and strategies that have worked for thousands of years. However, there are small business secrets related to the medium itself that might help you find success on the Internet, methods that have been proven to work in the short history of cyber-selling.
- Certainly a website is critical to your small business success, let no man tell you it's not, but to connect with the modern web surfer is even more important. No matter how pretty your website is, let's face it, a website without visitors is about as useful as a five-legged dog. People go online to make their buying decisions, and you've got to put yourself in their paths. In fact, according to Our News Cafe, research for 80% of buying decisions is done online, even at the local level. To grab your share of the traffic, you need to provide great content (optimized for search engines) on your site, publish an e-newsletter, collect email addresses, and perhaps even consider going after targeted traffic with Google, MSN, or Yahoo search engine Pay Per Click ads.
- This may seem hideously obvious but too many small businesses put up a website and forget to prominently post contact information. The average Internet surfer has the attention span of a gnat and is not going to spend five minutes trying to find out how to email or call you with a question. It's far easier to click away to a competitor. Leapfrog the competitor who makes this mistake by posting your name, mailing address, email address, phone number, and business hours on the front page of your website---to use a newspaper term, "above the fold," if you choose or in a sidebar. One of the biggest secrets to small business online success is simply making it easy for a potential customer to do business with you. Along this line of thinking, it's helpful to accept check or credit card payments over the phone in addition to online payments, as some people are still leery about entering their financial information online.
- Too many small business website owners have no idea how many people visit their websites, where they come from, or how long they stay. This is critical intelligence information. A free service like Google Analytics can be easily installed on your website. Take a moment to check it out. Most web hosting packages come with a similar service. Internet surfers leave behind an information trail. As a small business owner, put that information trail to good use by figuring out which of your marketing efforts are bringing in the majority of the traffic. It's a pretty good bet that you have over-performers and under-performers. Don't keep throwing money at your website developer, wondering if it's doing any good; analyze your website traffic and know for sure. Then you can reduce expenses on your tactics that aren't bringing people to your website and increase expenses on exactly what is pulling them in.